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Ceci Miller

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Member Since: Aug, 2006

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I Remember the Pink Poodle Tradegy: An Excerpt from Sacred Visitations
By Ceci Miller   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, September 14, 2006
Posted: Thursday, September 14, 2006

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At age six I learned my first lessons in karma. My first-grade boyfriend gave me a first kiss on the cheek. I got my first pair of glasses, and immediately lost my first little boyfriend, whose interest in me proved shallow. I read my first books, about Dick and Jane and Spot and the others whose names also boasted a single syllable. And I took my first cake walk.

At age six I learned my first lessons in karma. My first-grade boyfriend gave me a first kiss on the cheek. I got my first pair of glasses, and immediately lost my first little boyfriend, whose interest in me proved shallow. I read my first books, about Dick and Jane and Spot and the others whose names also boasted a single syllable. And I took my first cake walk.
      I’m not sure where the phrase “It’s a cake walk” began, but it might just as well have begun at the Lily B. Clayton Elementary School carnival in l964. For it was there and then that I learned that, even though one’s brown cat-eye glasses have suddenly made one homely enough to cause one’s little boyfriend to turn and walk the other way at lunch period, in the realm of karma a certain balance yet exists.
      My brother and I raced onto the scene of the carnival and left our parents trailing behind. Our school playground of asphalt had been transformed into a diminutive township of plywood booths draped in canvas, and was peppered with signs promising exotic adventures at scandalous prices: Catch a Fish! Win a Prize!—5 cents, The Great Fatima Will Tell Your Fortune—10 cents, Make the Principal Take the Plunge—A Dollar a Dunk, and CAKE WALK.
      “What is the Cake Walk?” I asked, watching as people of varying heights and widths arranged themselves on a circular path painted with numbers. My mother explained that it was like Musical Chairs, and that when the music stopped, the person standing on the winning number won a prize. Then she pointed to a table stacked with the largest collection of birthday cakes I had ever witnessed in one place.
      “I’m going to do the Cake Walk!” I declared. My mother ushered me toward the extremely tall teacher presiding over this human roulette, and somberly she handed me a slip of paper bearing a number.
I looked at the slip of paper. “What do I do with it?”
     “Go and stand on that number,” she said, as though this made sense.
     “Stand on this number?” I asked, gazing incredulously at the tiny ticket. I couldn’t see how standing on it was going to win me a birthday cake.
     “Well, not on that. Find your number on the wheel, and then go stand on it.”
     In no time at all music was blaring, and we began to walk in a circle. I shuffled along dutifully, glancing about at the grownups and older children. When the music stopped, everyone scrambled. The tall teacher called out a number, and I looked around for the lucky soul who would soon be whooping and hollering and receiving congratulations. No one piped up. All eyes searched around the circle.
     “She’s got it!” yelled one of the grownups, pointing at my feet.
    I looked down, and there it was.
    A small herd of grownups urged me toward the table to make my choice. 
    When I presented the frosted chocolate prize to my mother she said, “Well, how ‘bout that.” Scanning the grounds she added, “What are you going to do now?”
     “I’m going to do the Cake Walk again.”
     They tried to discourage my gambling fever, but I persisted, going on to become the first six-year-old in the history of the Lily B. Clayton Elementary School carnival ever to win three Cake Walks in a row. After my second, the game’s towering supervisor regarded me skeptically. “I think you have enough cake. How about a toy?” she said, and led me to a table piled high with garish, non-food items.
     I spotted my love immediately. It stood 12 inches high: a plastic poodle on wheels, with a leash by which to rein in the surreal pet. It was hot pink, with googly eyes that rolled enthusiastically as I pulled it along. Though my mother looked chagrined at this new appendage, I could not have been more pleased.
     That day I learned that sometimes life turns inexplicably good. Despite the recent setback with my eyeglasses and my little boyfriend, I had won two cakes and a hot pink poodle by walking around in a circle and standing on a number. I hadn’t worked hard, hadn’t even been especially polite. On that spring day in l964 it had simply been my moment to take the cake.
     Losing my first boyfriend and winning the cake walk were apt microcosms of every wrong and right that came thereafter. Years of good and bad experiences lined up one after the other in succession, until one day an entirely different sort of teacher appeared. Taller and wiser than any teacher I had met before, my meditation teacher said that the pairs of opposites were a trap. Back and forth, good and bad, up and down, yes and no, right and wrong, loss and gain, the mind and emotions buffeted in an endless game of ping-pong. True satisfaction, this great teacher said, allowed you to rise above the back-and-forth of karma. True satisfaction came only by knowing the Divine. And to know That, she said, you must come to know your deepest Self.
     How do you come to know your deepest Self? Practice watching your life for clues. As you watch your life, remember that, no matter what’s happening right now, something else (“good” or “bad”) will surely follow in time. The outer world is in a state of constant change, yet the true Self never wavers.You come to know that Self by watching your own awareness. As you watch your breath going in and out, as you watch thoughts of all kinds flowing through your mind, remember that pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin: one always follows the other. This keeps you from getting too attached, from trying to hang on to (or push away) whatever’s happening in your life. The idea is to remind yourself again and again, until your experience comes to rest in the Self, that awareness that remains unconcerned with whether you win the cake or not!
      Three weeks later my mother, brother, and I drove to the doctor’s for a checkup. In our rush to leave, the pink plastic poodle was left behind in the waiting room, its white leash dangling. Halfway home I discovered it was missing, but my mother refused to go back for it. For a long time I pined after my pet—much more pitifully, in fact, than I had pined for my first-grade boyfriend. If only things had turned out differently! If only I had noticed my poodle as we left the doctor’s. . . . If only my mother had driven back. . . . But such are the ways of karma. Easy come, easy go.

Ceci Miller is a longtime student of meditation and the author of Sacred Visitations: Gifts of Grace that Transform the Heart and Awaken the Soul.  Ceci has edited and co-authored numerous books and is the author of two illustrated books on meditation for children. To attend Ceci’s workshops exploring the 5 Steps of Sacred Awareness, to learn about the Sacred Visitations AudioCourse, and to hear interviews with people about their mystical experiences on the Sacred Visitations Podcast in “Ceci’s Journal,” please visit

Web Site: Sacred Visitations

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