producer Amy Cunningham will be writing a "Spiritual Mom" blog during the week of May 23 (note to hardcore politicos, her emphasis is less political than what you've grown used to in this space). A Presbyterian who takes yoga classes, struggles to meditate, and worries about food additives, she lives in a Christian-Jewish household near Manhattan with her husband and two school-aged boys. Her work has appeared in More, Vegetarian Times, Parenting, The Washington Post Magazine, Glamour, and Redbook. As a writer for Beliefnet, she has discussed her love for George Harrison, her efforts to Feng Shui Beliefnet's offices, and how not paying attention to the Michael Jackson trial can be a spiritual practice.

Never Quit

Last night Spiritual Mom and her husband went to a fundraising gala! The evening's entertainment was provided by a singer who once wrote a really excellent song that was picked up by a more talented singer and then catapulted into an enormous international hit. This writer/singer's latest CD was distributed at the gala as a party favor, and this morning I listened to it, and...

Well, it's painfully awful.There's one nice closing number, but the rest of the music, for me, was nearly impossible to endure.At first, I felt vehemently critical of this person. Then, a wave of compassion washed over me and I realized that, well, gee, this individual is really hanging in there, and even though the sound of of this person's latest music makes you want to bang your head on a tree, it's impressive that they're still "feeding the river," as my writing guru James Alan McPherson used to say. I'm also reminded of something short story writer Grace Paley said in a writing seminar: "The most important thing is to not to quit, because you NEVER know when you're on to something."It's our spiritual responsibility as a people is to hang in there with each other (especially when all intentions are good) and encourage all of our best efforts, no matter what.Prayers A-Plenty on Beliefnet

Lord knows, I love In fact, my husband Steve Waldman is the co-founder, and we moved to New York as a family in 1999 to start it up.But one thing I've been bugging the high ups about is that we need a flash tour, a little movie on the homepage that will guide newcomers around and show them just how many tremendous resources we have archived here. Don'tcha think that would help?For instance, did you know that we have a fabulous interfaith prayer collection that might assist you if you're ever called upon to pray spontaneously as Ben Stiller was in Meet the Parents? (Remember? He ended up quoting "Day by Day" lyrics from Godspell? Hilarious!)Up until a year or so ago--when our childrens' bedtimes finally stopped requiring so much adult direction--we prayed almost nightly with our kids. I've been realizing that we've got to get back to the habit. You'll find a sweet collection of prayers for children's milestones on the site, as well as prayers for meals and family occasions. So start praying your heart out!Regarding the Scene Where Bambi's Mother Gets Shot

SM (Spiritual Mom) has found her voice. And now, she's freaking out because TODAY is her last day of blogging for Beliefnet, and she's realizing she has so much more to tell you!So forgive me if I seemed rushed. Here's the crux: If you are a parent with children under twelve, BUY THIS BOOK. It may be your second Bible. It's called "The Movie Mom's Guide to Family Films," and in it, author Nell Minow tells you exactly which motion pictures are appropriate for which age group. I used to xerox the index she has in the back for my pals with youngsters because it's so, so useful. Bambi? Beauty and the Beast? These Disney films have scary parts inappropriate for young children. You don't want the movies you show to give your kids nightmares, do you? Minow also provides family film discussion questions, and most endearingly, she resurrects uplifting, old family films from the 1940s and 1950s you wouldn't have thought up on your own and that are still available in video stores.Movie Mom also has a wonderful website on Yahoo where she stores very valuable information on how to watch TV with your children. She' s treasure.Spiritual Mom once phoned Movie Mom to say, "You are SO COOL. Would you come to our school to speak some time?" Turns out, Movie Mom doesn't like to travel, but she did volunteer that she loves Beliefnet.My First Brush With Buddhism

Back in 1982, when I was a lonely, fragile, single woman needing to meet nice people, I took a wonderful three-day Shambhala meditation workshop in Washington D.C. I can't remember the name of my teacher, but he was a handsome American who had been meditating for many years, and was affiliated with a retreat center in Vermont called Karme Choling.After many intense hours of sitting meditation, walking meditation, and lecture, I began to feel as though there was hope: I might one day be able to still and calm my chattering mind. Our teacher told us to continue meditating, preferably in the mornings, for about forty minutes. He said: "If you don't TAKE the forty minutes, you'll waste the forty minutes doing something else--like trying to find your car keys."That hit home. So I wrote down the name of the biggest Buddhist meditation center in Washington, vowing to connect with the people there, and hoping to also find support for my newfound spiritual practice. One week later, I walked into the center and I was quickly struck--almost stunned--by how attractive all the men at the center were! "Wow," I said to myself as I surveyed the enthralling landscape: "I bet I could have a wonderful romantic relationship with almost any one of the sweet, thoughtful single men here!" With that, turned on my heels, and left. I was terrified of the prospect.
And I didn't think about Buddhism for another ten years.