Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Importance of Being You, Honoring Difference

The beauty of nature, repeating itself and each time never being the same.

I think I may be getting boring. Friends would say that is impossible. Maybe redundant, saying the same thing too many times! Yet, obviously the mind I live with continues to stay with one thought until I get it. And sometimes I am sooo slow!

This morning's meditation brought me to thinking about the importance of being your self, the SOV teaches that only when you stand upright in who you are can you hook up others. And who really wants to be alone? Even in the Torah it is written that it is not good for human to be alone. And as coach of leaders, I know that collaboration is essential to making the world a better place. We are in desperate need of partnerships, of courageous followers who will speak up and over and down to all they work with.

So I have been playing with the thought that Abraham, through Esther Hicks, teaches when they spoke to a gay man. That being different and being out encourages people to deal with their own angst about difference. Jonathan Sachs in Dignity of Difference writes that we all come from the same source and evolve into our own unique holy selves. Holy, from Hebrew Wisdom, means separate, unique, discrete. Kahil Gilbran wrote about the coming together of two souls for love, that 'may the winds of heaven dance between the oak and the willow'. I hear in his words the importance of being your unique self and dancing together with the Divine's blessings.

And yet the mind loves to compare and judge those different from us. And we either come up short or better than the other.

If the Torah had only be written in the positive what it said in the negative maybe people would learn not to covet your neighbor but to honor your own gifts. Appreciative Inquiry teaches that what you give attention to will grow! Do not covet, means we are already doing it. So what can we do that would put the energy into making relationships work. Hedy and Yumi teach about building bridges to the holy sacred space where the past remains in the past and the present offers opportunities to listen and to hear, to mend the hearts that yearn for connectedness, to let down the wall a bit, to welcome the stranger as your self. To learn and know her or him and yourself within that moment.

I say let us give attention to how we can learn how to connect, not separate ourselves from each other by building walls around us, by comparing and contrasting. Let us learn how to have a mindset of growth, what do I want to learn, I can I be in the now?

enough rambling!!

We cannot hide who we are, that only encourages others to not have to face our own differences.

As a Jew, I am not going to hide, G!D made sure of that, circumcision for one thing. Different way of praying, different Sabbath day, different holiday schedule from the majority Christian community. The Nazis would also say big noses, and so do our Middle Eastern neighbors!
So I wear my Jewish Star earrings with pride, yet always telling the story how I got them. They are a gift from my Christian friends who found them in India.

As a lesbian, who is not in relationship, I can pass. My Black friends or other people of color, cannot pass. So how can I be out?

Then there is dialect and pronunciation that will expose one, like the people from South Carolina I met on the beach yesterday.. Pass as what I say to myself? as one of them, not to make waves and not to stand out.

As a woman, I felt I had to be careful of what I wore, so my breasts would not distract from what I was saying. I am over it! I am on the cusp of 70, so just be me! wild woman!

We are such funny people! I can only laugh at loud at me!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rushing Off to New Things With the Wisdom of the Past

Balance of Power:hand made paper from India

Blessings of Being Awake
:Many years ago when familial depression was a regular visitor, I remember making a commitment to myself. Each time I felt useless, internally stuck, helpless, and no energy to do anything and not being able to see beyond my nose, that I would remember my ancestors who were in concentration camps and say to myself, "i am only bound by the limitations of the mind, I have more choices than they did." And my 'sorry for myself' moment shifted a bit to help me see other options.
Earlier this week, I found myself not being able to find passion and interest. And yet, like many of my ancestors, I kept moving through the day searching for the light that might appear at any moment. Last night's meditation class was a very bright light. And this morning, after meditation , I pulled the Daughter of Wands card from the MotherPeace Round Tarot deck. I felt the earth/fire energy and knew I was "integrating the wisdom of the past" into the present moment.
Spiritual Challenge: I am committed to the intention of seeing myself as a whole person with a rich full past integrated into my present, apart of both heaven and earth, never alone therefore connected to many souls and being influenced by them as they by me. When I traveled solo around the world, an important piece of wisdom came to my consciousness; I was matter and therefore I mattered in the world. I could not longer think of myself as unattached, a hungry ghost searching for redemption.
Spiritual Practice: I re-named myself with the name of the woman I was named after, Faga Tubie, the good bird. I use the Hebrew version to remind me of my divine connection to HaRachamana, the Compassionate One. Like Jacob, I have two names, one given me by my parents and one chosen for me by The Never Ending Love. Introducing myself with that name is the most natural experience for me. I believe it was the name I was known by before I was born.
Blessings of the Vav: the story is never over, just continues from generation to generation.
Andrea took on a new name, Simcha as joy is what she feels in the work she has chosen. May we all be blessed to wrestle with the Divine and find our Self.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's My Job To be Me

Etta being Etta: we have so much to learn from our young ones who are determined to be them self!
Blessings of Being Awake: "It's my job" she said with great pride and ease to my thanking her for being so naturally out as lesbian. "Its my job", I repeated to myself several times as I walked away from Alix Dobkin, singer, song writer, author. What a role model and sister collaborator I thought. She is inspiring me to continue on my path of self love. A path I am not sure I could be walking if Mona, of blessed memory, was still alive.

My Spiritual Challenge is to go to find the edge and then to leap. I am learning to know and stay true to my core beliefs and then to walk the talk, to live as if I were 'treating myself as if I were my own lover." To do this I must stay connected to the moment and to the One Without End who wraps Her Self around and inside of me, forever faithful, protective.

My Spiritual Practice is as always to breathe deeply, expanding the narrow spaces anxiety brings. When I go within, I am led by The One Without End, HaRachamana, The Compassionate One down the path of righteousness. "Be proud of your differentness", I hear my heart saying. "Enjoy your outsider status", you are Kadosh-separate, unique...You". "Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think!"
Blessings of the Vav: As I evoke the 6th letter of the Hebrew alphabet within me, I walk between heaven and earth. I am a connector, a hook, a holy priestly letter. I am standing erect in my own uniqueness ready to connect. What chutzpah it took to listen and then validate by giving attention to the thought 'society of the vav' so it could grow! Nothing new for me, if I look back on my life. I have been here before and answer "but" to my ideas. And this time I am integrating those moments as I write another chapter in this holy life I have been given. What is your amazing miracle story?

Just be You

Blooming: I look at these flowers and I wonder if they ever doubt themselves, compare their bloom to others and come up short or feel desperately alone. And then my tears start doing their thing as I laugh out loud remembering 'I just need to be me.' Isn't that what I have been practicing all these years. Just do it your way and it will be right. It might not get me an A by someone elses' standard. And no one else is grading me but me! " Just be average", I hear Pat saying, and I know my 'average' is amazing!

Blessings of Being Awake:
Tonight I will have an hour to impart my joy of Hebrew Wisdom and meditation to a group who is paying to learn from me. I am anxious and I am relaxed. I want to do it right and my intention is to be improvisational and learn while having fun. So I am reading some new information and remembering all my classes and my own practice. I know whatever happens in that 60 minutes will be perfect and direct from my heart that sits in the body that holds wisdom.

I feel grounded in my experiences and the many people who have imparted their wisdom to me. I have learned directly and indirectly from many people and to them I dedicate our time tonight: Stephen and Ondrea Levine, Stephen and Rosemary Weisman and students at Wat Kohw Tam, Thailand, Abby Karp, Thich Nhat Hanh and everyone at Plum Village, France, Joseph Goldstein, Rabbi David and Shoshanah Cooper, Rabbi Sheila Perltz Weinberg, Rabbi Jeff Roth, Rabbi Joanna Katz , Sylvia Bornstein and all my teachers at the Metta Center of Barrie, Ma, Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man and Nan Fink, and Richard White, Beth Lynn and Brett Ferrigan and students at Shambala House and many others yet to be named.

I have practiced by myself, reading books and driven by something I did not understand. And I have been given instruction and space to learn. In Thailand I walked away knowing that the teaching had saved my life. I have taught others and they were appreciative. Today is different. And I know nothing and I know everything I need to know. So whether it is because there is no one in between me and the Divine; or because I am finally living that there is something bigger than me and I am paradoxically surrendering while being an active partner by just saying 'Yes'.

Listening to the inner voices, led me to the Society of the Vav, that led me to 'Yes and' exercise in improv. And there is no time like now, Hayom Yom, this day, this moment to continue the saga of this life. And I am doing it, Ahni, I, TZiPi Radonsky, woman in all my permutations of roles. And I am in joy!! Come join me, so we can play Ahnachnu, we, together.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Getting the Whole Picture

A close up a piece of the Tree of Life, does not say everything about the tree, just a moment in the viewers perspective and time.
Blessings of Being Awake: As I was walked into the auditorium that was quickly filling up for the show last night, I saw Edie standing in a row looking around, as if she was waiting for someone. My heart got excited as I walked over to greet her. I have loved this woman from our first meeting in the workout dressing room when I first moved to Century Village. She had lived many years in Israel and loved to speak Hebrew with me, as I with her. She loved to sing in Yiddish and was so full of fun and joy. She endearingly called me Tzipila. Yet, this woman I kissed and spoke in Hebrew with last night was engaged in make believe. She called me by another name, looking blankly in my face and appeared cautious, not wanting me to know what she knew she did not know. As I left her to find my seat, I remembered the picture I had taken of her last November. She was standing at the voting entrance holding the sign for Obama over her head with a big smile on her face. I imagined that as her family went through her things, they would see this picture and remember this other time when she was full of life. And I felt full of many emotions, wanting to hold this whole picture, the variations of her life of her life.
Several week ago in the "Adventures in Intimacy" workshop, Hedy talked about having many marriages; and what we were seeing that weekend was a another marriage to the same man, a different incarnation. So When Yumi said at one point that in one of those marriages that he had been a jerk, i had to remember the plethora of roles we each play in a life time. And I had to welcome myself back into my heart and forgive me for all the expectations i have that makes me my enemy. I am my friend, my best friend, and as Kahane writes on, I study both love, living the 'we', and the power, fulfilling my soul's mission.

Laughing out loud, I say to myself , I am being forced by various experiences to hold multiple realities, not only am i expanding my lungs through being at very high altitudes and breathing deeply as I sing with my shruti box, I am also expanding the mind, proving that old dogs can learn new tricks and fulfilling my mother's comment "you are my Einstein".

Blessings of the Vav and Ecclesiastes and Solomon. Believing in the transformation of the soul, in its many season while holding the variant colors of possibilities is having faith and hope in something bigger than me, the Mystery of Life, The One Without End, the Compassionate One.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hallelu Yah, Praise The One Without End

Crisp October Boston morning after a wonderful visit with my beloved cousin Linda.
Blessings of Being Awake: Sometimes being awake is not fun. I wrote this poem after a Sunday of being the only chaplain in a hospital in Greensboro, NC. It was a day full of many challenges. When I reread the words of the poem, visual and visceral memories arise, from the new born in the NICU whose mother sat beside the incubator, very confused as she watched her child struggle to hold onto life to an elderly woman whose husband sat beside her crying as she took her last breath. At the time, I was more easily using the more familiar word for The One Without End, god. Today, this word feels flat and I want a more active word for the Never Ending Love. Also, at the time, I was finding again my identity as a Jew. I was discovering that the word I said in Hebrew, Halleluyah, was also being said by my sister and brother Christians, Praise God! I was living in the in the bible belt where these words rolled of the tongues of the people around me. And I felt those words were their language and if I said them I would be less Jewish. I laugh as I write this thinking that we are such funny people with our small minds. And I felt uncomfortable speaking their language, especially with the same intensity. In writing the words of this poem, I was getting used to their language, trying it on for size, making it mine, learning from them what I did not think that I knew; that The Rachamana, the Compassionate One, the One I desperately wanted to know, had saved my life for some purpose I have yet to understand.

Praise God for creating home
Even when we cannot find it
Praise God for bringing us home
Even when we do not know when we get there
Praise God for spitting us out
Even when we are not ready
Praise God for catching us
Even into awkward hands
Praise God for each breath, tear, sigh
Even when we are embarrassed by the emoting
Praise God for the voice that sings your praise
Even when out of tune
Praise God for every life you take
Even when the anger exacerbates the pain
Praise God for each life you give
Even when we cannot appreciate your miracle
Praise God for the resiliency modeled
Even when we cannot get unstuck
Praise God for the vulnerability we often experience
Even when we are shamed into silence
Praise God, Praise God, Praise God!
Why not praise God
Better than damming the pain in my heart
for all those whose grief I witnessed today.

Blessings of the Vav: AND I will always have another chance to make another decision, to re-look at the decisions I have made. Hebrew Wisdom teaches me that I always have the Right of Return, tshuvah, returning to my true self and to be true to my souls's journey. I want to continue to grow the mochine d'gadlute, the big mind, to gain perspective, to give myself the time to learn what an amazing soul lives within me.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

National Coming Out Day: Smiling at Fear

Phyllis & TZiPi at the Valentine's Day Sweetheart Ball for the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund, St Petersberg, FL, 2010.
Reflections on National Coming Out Day, October 11
Blessings of Being Awake
: In 1977 I met my first Jewish lesbian and fell in love. Today we are still friends and still in love enough to keep working on our relationship. I was just coming out as a woman loving women. I was recently divorced, a single mom and a second year Occupational Therapy student. There were so many new experiences, so much to learn, so many trips and falls and so many fears that I could neither name nor face. There was so much I did not know that I did not know.

Spiritual Challenge:
  • Laughing with myself as an act of self love as I begin to notice and then let go of the fears of not wanting others to know stuff about me, when the fact is they already do.
  • Remembering that loving another is often easier than loving oneself and that when I do not love myself there is so much pain. Although I have practiced since 1995 to "treat myself as if I were my own lover", I am still a beginner.
  • Accepting myself in all of who I am. Now that I am the oldest I have every been, with all those physical changes I do not like, takes a maturity and perspective I know I do not always have! Despite these challenges, I am going to keep heading toward the unknown, as it is an act of love. As the Hebrews spoke, "We will do and then we will understand."
  • Learning that coming-out is a moment to moment, self-discovery experience. My coming-out must be done with love and a commitment to my soul's mission. Therefore, I hold the Torah's teaching that The One Without End, The Compassionate One is Holy, so, too am I Holy.

Spiritual Practice: To smile and remember that I am made in the image and likeness of the Divine. I am amazing most of the time and sometimes, as my Uncle Harry, the Doc, of blessed memory, would say, a jerk. I breathe deeply and say, "I am holy, sagging boobs, varicose veins, wrinkled face, gray haired wizened one." I can not hide from the Unending Love within me, nor do I want to hide from the mirror. I am good, kind and loving even when I wonder about that truth.
Blessings of the Vav: The Vav reminds me it is never to late to face the fears and come-out. Kathy Bates in the movie Unconditional Love is a great role model of the bravery of a warrior. So, I ordered the shruti box, a small wooden box that makes droning sounds to use while I am making voice sounds that Deborah, my voice therapy coach taught me. I am coming out as an experiential learner. I am experimenting with the Divine, being at one with all my fears. I am smiling at my fears as they evaporate. I am enjoying myself, my shruti box, my sounds and this life gifted to me.
May your coming-out be blessed, too!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reminders of the Joy in Being Me.

Blessings of Staying Awake: Alicia taught us during the vision quest preparation and debrief to pay attention to what nature was trying to teach through her many and varied gifts. I had asked the mountains to offer me insight on the pilgrimage. Here are two cherished gifts that i am still allowing the knowing to evolve. This is where I sit today.
On the afternoon of the first day of the trek I was walking with Del and responding to her questions about what happened to the sacrifices in the Old Testament. At one point I was distracted and looked down and there was this piece of wood that looked just like a bird. I quickly picked it up and carried it carefully as a treasure; explaining my excitement to Dell in finding this piece of wood that my name means little bird in Hebrew. In getting back to the sacrifices, I explained that the root of the word for sacrifice is Korban, which mean to bring close. After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the rabbis created prayer services, contemplation from the heart, to create the opportunity that the sacrifices offered. Those prayer services are now moments of being close with the Divine three times a day.
On the third day of the trek, Len and I had gone for a short walk where he was coaching me in how to slow down, take baby steps and be totally in the now, to use my breath carefully and deeply. Our conversation related to many things including my mother's death and the grief work yet I had to do. As I came to my tent feeling ready for the next day's walk up to the highest peak, I bent down to unzip the tent and there was this huge stone in the shape of the heart. I feel a connection to heart shaped hearts and quickly placed it inside the tent to be carried with my gear. I was taking this home, no matter the weight! And this morning as I told the story of finding the heart to Chuck, i spoke to my first attraction to the text in the Torah, 'circumcise your heart and don't have a stiff neck.' I need to circumcise my heart, remove the covering, learn something new about me, or as it says later in Deuteronomy, ' the Divine will circumcise it for you!'
Spiritual Challenge: To notice the gift and go deeper than the physicality of what presents itself. I will try to notice when I 'judge a book by its cover' as I may never open it and may miss what there is inside that will nurture my soul. I want to remember that everything has a spark of Ayn Sof, The-One-Without-End in it. I want to continue to believe that I am worthy of the gifts and keep turning them over until I find the essence.
Spiritual Practice: I will keep telling the story, until I unpack the secret message just for me. Today I am honoring my choice of using the Hebrew word TZiPi to introduce me by and to take pride in my connection to the tradition that continues to feed me. What I did naturally is who I am. And i am unburdened and free to be that me that i am.
Blessings of the Vav: We are told in Hebrew Wisdom, 'never stop doing' while 'knowing we will never finish'. There will always be a 'yes, and' moment, another opportunity to see a different point of view, gain perspective from some one else or even myself. The River of Light is endless and is flowing. I am learning how to swim!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Coming and goings of eternity: meeting again, still tasting delicious
Blessings of Staying Awake: Today my friend ME called from Canada. She reminded me of 'guest consciousness', a phrase that arose in the mind of me while I was traveling in New Zealand and a guest in Annette's home. ME has been using the phrase frequently, while I had forgotten it after I took it off the title of my book.
Spiritual Challenge: To remember that whether I am birthing from the womb or birthing from the heart, each is a holy offspring that needs to be nurtured. 'but no one listens' is not an option, I am need to listen. I need to listen!
Spiritual Practice: Make a list of the ideas that have come through me honor them some how!
Blessings of the Vav: I have fallen in love with AND because I want to de-but the world. First, I have to de-but my world and begin noticing how often i say 'ya, but! ' to my birthings. And LOL!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Collecting The Dots of Being 'Gotten'

Divine Sparks Creating the Universal Force Field
Blessings of Being Awake: There have been moments in my life when i feel I had been 'gotten'! There was no need to try to be any one else but me. And I felt the tenderness, the acceptance, the joy right down to my core that did not need to hide, be politically correct or 'hush-up'. Those are rare moments when I have met some one who knows me better than I know me, the Self that walks too often in fear, loneliness, straight-jacketed.
Staying home this summer, making my travels purely domestic, has offered me the opportunity to open my heart to me and the struggles of re-learning how to love me, by remembering those who knew what it was like to be different and found me in the crowd of their life, and bestowed their kindness in their joy of finding clan.
One of the dots I am collecting was James Kavanaugh, a poet who came to Aiken, SC in the early 70's, thanks to my friend Beverly, to share his work and self. He was my family's guest for a dinner filled with being seen with chesed, loving kindness. He wrote 'Wisdom is not taught. Systems are taught. Wisdom comes from experiencing life.' And my dear therapist Tim reminded me that being mindful of the experience in one's body-mind-spirit is the gift we give ourselves to help us 'get' ourselves! And to experience the experience I must be awake.
Spiritual Challenge: I am beginning to collect the dots, the moments, the experiences when i was 'gotten' and name them and celebrate those courageous souls. And what I am beginning to notice, is that what i learned from them unconsciously, I am passing forward. And I do, when i am kind, laugh at life, ask for a name, listen to a story, cry with someone, offer to sit beside someone in their pain, celebrate the joy of a triumph. That is my job and my life's work is to learn that what I do for others I must do for me, too. I know loneliness, too well. And I have been touched by the light, the ner tamid, eternal light of these holy souls.
Spiritual Practice: I often say 'I am blessed' when asked how I am doing by strangers. I say it not because I was feeling blessed in the moment before i was asked. I do it to remind me of the blessings bestowed upon me when i was not even looking. By collecting these dots, I am collecting the blessings of the many experiences i have been gifted with by the Souls who 'got' me. And in this holy month of Elul, I am asking them for fogiveness for not telling them 'thank you'. And I am forgiving myself for not noticing their light they so generously shared with me.
Blessings of the Vav: Jim has died without me telling him thank you. And I will share this blog entry with his family. The Vav, is so holy in holding the linking energy and the individuality of the self. I have been blessed to listen to my heart that sits in the emotional state of the body and honor the words that came to me by creating this blog. There is a Society of the Vav and it is coming alive like me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A New Name, A New Relationship

Origami; Making Hope Come Alive, Peace Park, Hiroshima, Japan
Blessings of Being Awake: In this most holy month of Elul, when we blow the Shofar everyday to remind us to wake up and come back to our true self, I am choosing to focus on something to prepare my soul and being-ness for the new year 5771. I have chosen to change my relationship with the three letter word for the Mystery of All Life, Blessing Bestower. These three letters, g-o-d, have lost their luster with me and have become more problematic than supportive and loving. There is an emptiness when I say this word. And now that my parents are dead and I am an orphan who must truly take care of me as there is no one else to do this, I am sensing a becoming of a more aliveness and as Rabbi Dovid Zeller, of blessed memory sings, believing in this aliveness as me. I have choosen a name for this Divine Ayn Sof, The One Without End that is Unending Love that empowers me and speaks to my wholeness. And for now it is HaRachamana, the Compassionate One. And I am smiling.
Spiritual Challenge: To remember that I am holy and I am HaRachamana, without judging the forgetting of falling back into the old familiar patterns of doubt. And to remember that I can hold Me as HaRachamana holds me and I can empty my body of anything that is not needed to be held any longer. Letting me back into my heart and my womb, and as Mystical Hebrew teaches, I am being the androgynous giver and receiver that I am.
Spiritual Practice:Breathing in the name, noticing my visceral reaction; breathing out the name and noticing the body's response. HaRachamana lives within for those moments I am awake and even when I am asleep walking through my life.
Blessings of the Vav: There is no end to what the mind can imagine and if i connect the dots, all the dots, i can begin to feel included in the the ten thousand things, no longer an outsider. When I listen to me, the HaRachamana, there is only possibilities.

Monday, August 9, 2010

'Love is All You Need' Is Not Enough for Me Today

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole Coming Out Alive
Blessings of Being Awake: I noticed the passion in my voice and the excitement in my body as I was talking to Cheryl yesterday about how I was interpreting the concepts of power and love that Adam Kahane wrote about in his book Power and Love. He expanded on Martin Luther King's and Paul Tillich's writing on love and power while telling his story with great vulnerability and inquiry of his work on social change. I told her that a book had not excited that much interest in me in a long time; I had written and drawn all over the margins, the notes invoking thoughts and emotions and a lot of Vavs and ands. And as I ranted on, I got clearer about how important these two energies were for me. Love is all you need has been my mantra; loving myself as if I were my own lover has been my intention. And in trying to figure out what that exactly meant has been my practice! And in this moment, what I am aware of is the missing element to loving me is power, the generative energy to grow my soul.

Spiritual Challenge: And in living as an only child, introvert, solo-no partner, I have ignored the love, the generative energy of connectedness and unity. My challenge is to learn how to live the paradox of I and We simultaneously. Oy vay, just writing those words makes me nauseous! This must be a large threshold to cross and I am on it making the transition to the other side, feeling the power and the love.
And I read the words of the poem that Nelson Mandela used during his imprisonment that are stuck on my computer and they inspire me forward, 'I am the master of my soul and I am the captain of my fate'. And I link them together with the words Hillel wrote, ' If I am not for myself who will be? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?'

Spiritual Practice: In my workshops on visioning and storytelling and strategic planning I use the phrase, ' together we can make anything happen' and often remember my father's famous line, 'we need each other.' So I need the mind, even when it separates me from others, I must value my body that holds all the emotions and sometimes cannot do every yoga move, and i must remember my Spirit that even when not physically seen I can feel. And I need you as you need me to be complete, individual and unique and connected. My practice is to live as if I am one, interdependent, intra-dependent, fulfilling my soul's mission to grow and heal the world for us together.

Blessings of the Vav: Is that this Otiot, letter Vav, exists with it's own intelligence and has the holiness of the mystical energy of connectedness, as she stands between heaven and earth, within the emotional torso of me, the third letter of the One Without End. And I am circumcising my heart, loosening the thickness of my neck and coming home.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Inspiration: Seeing the Garden Through the Doorway

Blessings of Being Awake: Learning for me has to be on my terms, I learn, like my teachers the Baal Shem Tov and the Buddha, by my own experience. Too often in the past I have felt like a failure trying to fit into someone else system, as in repeating the 5th grade because I could not get the multiplication tables down...reversing too many numbers or in grad school in quantitative statistics when I just could not get the concepts. Deep breath!! And here i am again on the edge of learning something really big and it involves all of me, head, body, spirit. I am learning to be consciously vulnerable with people who I think need me to be strong. I cannot hold my suffering in to myself any longer.
Spiritual Challenge: I need to believe and trust that this learning will benefit the world; that what I am practicing and getting good at is not just about me. And I need to remember that while I am saving my life and uncovering my pure soul by bringing me back into my heart, I am also living a life knowing i am unconditionally loved by the Ayn Sof, the One Without End, and am connecting with all that there is that is being loved. There is no hierarchy of who is loved.
Spiritual Practice: Deep breathing in and expiring and emptying all doubts and creating space for holding me and the pain of separation from the universe. Sitting in meditation knowing that this still time with me is building a relationship with me. And I will be laughing out loud at me for trying so hard to be perfect. I am taking the advice of two wise people. Nick Vacc of blessed memory, chair of my doctoral program department who told us PH.D. candidates, 'settle for a B'. And Pat Ryan in Improve Wisdom writes, be average.
Blessings of the Vav: I am no longer staying in confusion, i am more clear what my path is, so the 'but' is being left out fairly frequently from my vocabulary, as it is with my friends and clients and colleagues. And as I become more clear, my world opens up and I am feeling the blessings of the Unconditional Lover. Yes and, I am ready to cross the threshold into new learning.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blessings of Being Awake: While focusing on my life's mission I checked this blog and noticed I had not written in a while. So I am making time for what grounds me in the now and honors what I love doing, expressing myself with the written word. It is Shabbat and I am working on my lap top that does not have all my photos on it and I wondered about what image would be available for me to use. As soon as I looked at this picture of Etta Grace that her mother, my daughter Ilana had taken, i could feel the rightness of the choice in every cell of my body and especially in my eyes that yearned to release the tears of knowing that I am at the right place at the right time.
Spiritual Challenge: To not let the mind create boundaries around right and wrong. To hold onto my innocence or as the sign at the airport said 'dance like no one is watching'. To be the Neshama, the pure soul I took life for and continue to honor her journey. To focus on what brings me joy and find joy in what I do everyday. To remember age is only a number and everyone can be my teacher and that suffering is not an option and that kindness to myself is my core value. To laugh at me and with me.
Spiritual Practice: I am making time for my creative projects and interlacing them with my cognitive work knowing they feed each other and therefore me. I am remembering that I can practice anywhere and use different tools to create. To notice the judger voice and say there is no right or wrong about me, all is me and sometimes i am just not patient, kind and loving and it is perfect, as the Kabbalist would respond, in the physical world. And as I move through the world and practice accepting all of amazing me, it will be easier for me to live with others.
Blessings of the Vav: I can always pause and look in the mirror, face to face, and say YES! you are fun to be with!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Do you talk with G!D?

Blessings of being Awake: And another opportunity arrived to try something i encourage others to do. Talk with G!D.
Spiritual Challenge: So, I wonder who is G!D, Where is this G!D I want to talk with, to? I usually say G!D is good. Well, is that true? I am a Jew, I wrestle with G!D. Which G!D? Outside, inside, female, male, a blade of grass, a bird flying by? How can I focus on one?
Spiritual Practice:breathing deep, i smile and decide not to suffer as I go back to creating with paint, stamps and fabric. Praying that the Divine Source of All That Is , the One Without End will shut down my mind and flow through my hands creating beauty, reflecting my soul.
Blessings of the Vav: Only when i am standing tall in all that i am and in all my possibilities, not suffering more than in that moment remembering that i can choose life and joy. Yes and i am living a Vav-nik life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Yes and

Blessings of Being Awake: It is so important for me to notice my allies when they show up! Today I go an email from Chuck about Second City doing an exercise with a management group in Germany where they played with the concepts of 'yes and vs yes but'! And they enjoyed the process.

Spiritual Challenge: There were so many thoughts that flash through the mind when I read his words. The one thought I chose to hold onto was an Ethiopian wisdom quote: many spider webs coming together can tie up a lion.

Spiritual Practice: I often forget I am not alone, ever! And when I do I usually trip over my feet. I am beginning to see that seeing the sparks of G!D in everyone and everything is like getting a hug from the universe and feeling loved and seen and known. Connie would say and I would agree 'can't get any better than that!'

Blessings of the Vav: In a rush to mail each of my daughters a card i did not seal nor put a stamp on them and somehow the cards were received. When I half do a task sometimes there is an entity, we call Nana, who makes sure our back are covered and we feel so blessed. May everyone be so blessed.

Shabbat Shalom, blessings of a sweet and renewing day and Hag Someach, joyous holiday blessings. May you be at the right place at the right time to receive the Word

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Intro to the kaddish

Wild iris growing in the North of Israel by the zip line.
In the Spring of 2007, my Grandson Ashby and I traveled with hundreds of other teenages and adults from all over the world in the March of the Living. We spent one week touring and experiencing Poland and one week learning Israel. On our first day in Warsaw, we visited the Jewish cemetary and as I walked silently through the winding rows, I found I had wandered away from the group to the edges of the cemetary. I came across many tombstones that lay one atop of another, on their side and in ravines covered with dead leaves, vines and debris. Our leader had told us that many of these cemetaries were not being kept up and yet this area felt more lonely and forgotten and I felt a deep sadness as well as a righteous anger.

When I returned back to the USA, I was aware of a deep need to honor my journey and those who had been abandoned and been victims of hate. I had already been standing for many years to say Kaddish for all those who have no one to honor their memory. Yet, because of my experiences in Poland and Israel I now understood and recited the words that praised the Work of the Divine with feelings and images that connected me to these lands and people.

In the fall of 2009, it had been a little over a year since I had finished the eleven months of saying Kaddish for my Father of blessed memory when my Mother suddenly and tragically died. A week after her accident I was traveling for work and alone in a hotel room. I felt lonely and in my grief compelled to recite the ancient rhythmic chant Aramaic words that I had been speaking with my daughters, neighbors and friends the previous week. I know that traditionally one says the Kaddish in the presence of a Minyan, ten men. Yet, that has not been my custom and as I stood by the window looking at the sun setting and began reading the words that I had come to know so well, I hoped my G!D would understand that my intention was more important than the rules. And as I spoke, I sensed the room beginning to fill with the energy of souls dressed in the various winter garb of the people of Eastern Europe during World War II. I was in awe and I was deeply moved and comforted by Presence and felt soothed by their compassion as remembered the truth that I am never alone.

Blessings of the Vav: In those moments, I became aware, as others before me, of the power of the words of this prayer that honors transitions that occur during death; Kaddish Yatum, the Mourner's Kaddish, a prayer to be said by the 'orphan' with the intention to remind the heart and and offer a paradoxical state to the mind that in the midst of grief and sorrow there is an amazing world that we inhabit. for me consciousness is being awake and is the first step toward healing my broken heart and if I can hold both the grief and the joy, only then is healing possible for me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Retreat in the Moment

Blessings of Being Awake: I had an amazing moment this morning that I want to remember so I am writing to get clear with what happened! As i sat in meditation i noticed a feeling, that I can only define as 'refreshed', an experience I have had on long silent retreats. And the feeling lasted for quite a while, even now i can conjure the emotion up and i smile. Delicious!
Spiritual Challenge: To keep doing and being while being open to the surprises that gift me like the sweet orange blossom aroma that wafted my way as I rolled down the windows last week driving through central Florida. The traffic had slowed down and I had felt stuffy in my air conditioned car and wanted some fresh air. What a sweet aroma delight!!!
Spiritual Practice: keep being faithful to me by setting aside the time in the morning to just sit and focus on the miracle of a body that breathes all by itself. So today I sat by the open windows, connecting with the natural world and listened to the birds and felt the sun on my body as my chest rose and fell with each inspiration and expiration. And maybe I will know that the Divine Holy One of Blessing is in this place and that i am Home.
Blessings of the Vav: In traditional Judaism we count 49 days or sheaves of wheat called Omers between the second day of Passover and the giving of the Torah, Shavuot. In mystical Hebrew Wisdom we do this with the intention of refining our soul so we can receive the Torah as free people worthy of this holy gift. An emotion, or characteristic associated with G!D, is focused on each week and another for each day. This first week is loving-kindness and yesterday was bonding. Loving kindness is getting easier for me to hold, especially with myself and bonding is something that has seemed foreign and unlearn-able to me since I began this practice several years ago. Yet, in the practice of being a Vav and holding onto an 'and' mode of never giving up, always having hope and knowing that 'this too will pass', I still held the intention for 24 hours that I might have some insight into how to bond. I think today i bonded and the Most Holy One of Blessings was there and i took my shoes off my feet and i saw the burning bush that was not consumed and i heard my name called and tears flowed as i had arrived at an awesome Place i never thought i would experience. And in this moment I said 'Halleluyah', knowing that sometimes you can only know the Divine after She has visited.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Need to Sleep with Competition

picture: A tree grows in the Negev: this poem was written as a weaving of the study of Sarah, the first Matriarch of Hebrew Wisdom and this author's spiritual autobiography.

I need to sleep with competition
I want to know her intimately
her curves, lines and jagged edges
Her ins and outs
The dark hidden places and those that protrude

I need to embrace her, love her
for unless i really know her
she will constantly be there ready to trip me up
make me small and limit my possibilities

I need to clean myself of the sin of
Adam who thought he was not good enough
to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge

I need to heal my self
from the pain of separation Kayn felt
from his brother as he compared
came up less and then destroyed a part of himself

I do not want the pain of your envy
to constrict my heart
to keep me from seeing the beauty
of the One who held me before i was born
who loved me before she knew me
whose heart was broken by the one
she trusted to care for her and all she loved.

Dear Sarah, what was it like to compete
with your sister-friend Hagar for God's gift to each of you?
What happened and has never been mended?
Was it the man who divided you because
he did not know how to love each for your unique gifts?

Or was this God's plan all along - we were
never to do it right - only learn from
life and missed opportunities.

Blessings of the Vav: we are all One, connected to the each other, impacting, responding, blessing, intruding.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taking the Crap off the Soul

Blessing of Being Awake: So for two days I have been crying and wiping my nose! I am not crying all the time and yet when i do start to cry it is deep and long, and I am coughing-up whatever i have been holding in! It must be purging time! Spring is here and love is around the corner.

Spiritual Challenge: I am walking in the confluence of two streams; the deep dark night of the soul and in the eternal light of a pure soul. I know that what I am experiencing, major unloveable-ness, relates to the grief around my mother's death and her unworthiness I am trying to peal off. It is not the whole truth so i am not giving in to self doubt, just watching. I must admit i am also trying to figure out how to get through this.

Spiritual Practice: This is the moment i have been practicing for. I will call friends to cry with, just for them to listen. I will sit outside and get some sun. I will take a bath and soak in the water. I will only care for me as there is no energy for anyone else right now. I will love me as I make my way through the darkness that covers parts of the soul and i will breath deeply and hold on, the roller coaster has just hit the top of the hill and I will be coming off my seat as i hold on for dear life! And I will hold on.

Blessings of the Vav is that this too will pass, i am making a friend of time and there is a deep learning here and there is a hope that maybe I can speak from an authentic place to help someone else through their dark, dank and narrow place. And all of this is love!

Endless Exciting Dreams

Blessings of Being Awake: In Greensboro a few weeks ago I went with Gay to a wonderful art show called Embodying. Yes!, I said to myself as I walked around the art space, and was inspired by the amazing creative and daring artists! I began thinking about my unfinished projects at home and how to pull them together. I going to introduce the quilted circumcised heart with the paper mache' bust! I felt the excitement of new beginnings and thought 'Art, that is my new love!!'

Last week on the cruise, Geri needed some health support and i offered to do some energy work and also to use some new healing cream on her sore places. As I rubbed the cream into her skin, she commented on how good it felt and asked if I was trained as a message therapist. 'No', I smiled and said shyly, that I had gotten that commen before.' I love choosing the people I touch for healing and thought, maybe this is where i need to put my energy!' I could study and be a good massage therapist.

Before i went on the cruise i facilitated the coaching skills group and I got high on the collaboration with the men i worked with. It was fun and I came home thinking i need and want to do more more of this!! And i began thinking of who i could expand my practice and do good int he world.

Spiritual Challenge: When I first came out i bought a t-shirt that said , 'So many women…So little time.' I was just beginning to imagine what i would 'do' with all these women and I certainly appreciated the idea!!

Now I am feeling 'So many loves….So little time.' And I want to go deep with the time I have left on this earth. I want to be good at one thing and be noted for it and i want it to be something that gives pleasure and energy to people as it heals them and I.

I have so much to learn to be able to do that. What shall that be? I ask myself 'what am I playing with already that needs to be opened further, like the vagina upon giving birth. What am i about to drop from my womb? Who will i be, where will i live, who will be my lover or friend? So many unanswered questions, so much to learn. How do I discipline the mind?

Spiritual Practice: So today the question arises, tomorrow another piece of the puzzle will arrive and for today all i have to do is be in receiving mode! So I am noticing my heart open and tears falling, emotions high. And to notice without judging myself and just expanding into the love that is already there holding me.

Blessings of the Vav: whether hidden or revealed the Vav sparks an unending-ness to life and pushes the game of wonder from the back burner to the front!! It is boiling and i cannot not help but to notice it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

And G!D was in this Place and I i Did Not Know

Blessings of Being Awake: as we relaxed under the Mexican sun, Alexis spoke her wisdom into the group, 'women are naturally competitive' and everyone agreed and I had to catch my breath. I had never thought of us in that way. I know my aunts are competitive with each other, my mother was competitive with me and my daughters are competitive with me. Yet, I had never thought of it as a characteristic of all women. I spent several days musing on her words becoming lighter, no longer weighted by 'just me' syndrome and more enlightened with each breath.

Spiritual Challenge: Feelings of competition and envy are why i asked Phyllis if we could adopt each other. I wanted to do something with these feelings that were interrupting my end of our friendship. I love Phyllis, like I love my daughters, i love my Mother and I know the many times i sensed its presence and steered around it, never exposing her, always aiding this turret, letting the walls remain between our hearts. I remember in my writings on Sarah for my ordination expressing in a poem the toxicity of competition with a deep need to get to know her deeply, every crevice so that there would be little unknown rocks hidden that could keep our hearts apart. Now having a perspective that these feelings were female-relational linked and not just mine was so freeing. I felt as if someone had had just cleansed an opaque windshield that had prevented me from seeing the whole picture and in this moment my soul felt cleansed from the toxic energy that keeps me in judging mind and separated from my sisters everywhere!!! I felt as if i had found the holy grail for which I did not know i had been searching! And i thought how can i hold onto this truth and not let it slip through the cracks of life. Drink for it!

Spiritual Practice: Laugh, what else can i do but laugh at my-our competitive spirit and then laugh some more no longer constricted from seeing my own beauty by these feelings. And then remember the wisdom of; 'do not covet' and 'be the best you that you can be' and 'your success is your deepest fear' and it is all about 'personal best' and consider 'power with' not over or under as Starhawk teaches. To live 'together anything is possible!'

Blessings of the Vav: In Hebrew Wisdom we are told we carry two notes, one in each pocket. One note says 'I am just dust' and the other 'the world was created for me'. This interpretation of humility, 'knowing your place and taking your space' is untying me from past thinking and behavior. No longer strangulated, i am empowered with this information that can only save my life and perhaps that of others. And I am so glad i was listening as my new sister-friend spoke truth into the wind and i heard and wove her wisdom into my being. May I continue to live the truth that the Divine lives within everyone and I can learn from everyone including me. I am a Vav-nik, standing tall in my uniqueness and hooked to every other Vav-nik healing our world!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Being Distracted

Blessings of Being Awake: "So you lost both your parents in the last 2 years …that is a lot, especially for an only child," a new acquaintance said in response to telling her how I ended up in Florida. I was so pleased that my sunglasses blocked her from seeing the welling up in my eyes as my throat tightened and I did not speak as we turned to focus our attention on getting organized for the kayak expedition.

Spiritual Challenge: My neck is tight, my shoulders have rocks in them and I miss my mother. And i get a massage for the shoulder pain and what do i do with these feelings? And I wonder about how I can remember the gift she gave me of unconditional love and let that soothe the ache in my heart that arise spontaneously.

Spiritual Practice: Taking time to be gracious with myself by mourning and grieving for this primary relationship. So I have committed and set an intention to creating an art piece in her memory. She would love that a lot since she too was an artist.

Blessings of the Vav: Being able to hold the pain of loss and the joy of our relationship as all is truth, the whole story. So in her memorial i will show pictures of both cemeteries, not well cared for and the joy of being alive! The Kaddish as a work of art in awe of the awesomeness of life given.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Going Deeper With the Words

Blessings of Being Awake: He looked about my age and came with his wife to my meditation class. From his speech pattern I assumed that he was either a Sabra, native born Israeli, or had learned Hebrew at a very young age. His tender heart asked me a question: would you mind answering a question and you do not need to answer if you do not want.' I knew that I would tell him anything he wanted to know.

What do you mean 'meditation saved my life?' he said with a curious, sad tone? As I started to talk I felt awkward as if I was walking into the unknown. My thoughts rambled; one time i knew the answer to that question, What does it mean? What am I willing to share? How vulnerable am i willing to be? Who am I talking with that would understand what i experienced that is so hard to put into words.'

Then, I remembered those ten days in Thailand that brought a peace within me that i had wanted and yet did not know nor how to access. Rosemary and Steven at Wat Koh Tam had created an emotionally safe environment for me to learn what they taught of Buddhism, a process of thinking that I would utilize for my whole journey around the world and it would bring me to moments where my heart was softening and that fired the embers of choosing life and wanting more.

Spiritual Challenge: And then I casually said to him 'I am still alive and I am here telling you my experience.' He smiled as we looked at each other. I then spoke these words, 'I am learning to love me so I can love the stranger within and without.' And he smiled again and spoke the Hebrew text, and you shall love the stranger as yourself. We smiled and let the others in the class know this teaching of Hebrew Wisdom. I thought truth comes when the right questions are asked.

Spiritual Practice: To breathe deeply and go within, remembering the Divine dwells there, in my body, with me and never leaves. I am never alone. Healing is placing myself back into my loving heart. That is how I save my life, breath by breath, moment by moment.

Blessings of the Vav: When I stand with the intention of authenticity and with the thought that nothing can stop or kill me except myself, then i am able to link with another who is in that same place. I am making a step toward mending the world.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Blessings of Being Awake: When I got up to relieve myself early this morning I thought it would be easy for me to go back to sleep. We had gone to bed late after a full first day of new experiences, meeting people, dancing and exploring of the ship where we would spend the next five days. Yet the rolling of the ship and the vibration of the motor left me restless and awake. I kept moving from side to side trying to find the perfect placement of my body that would invite back the deep sleep and great dreams i had just been embroiled in. I was angry at the boat, our room and the designers of this ship that kept me awake.

Spiritual Challenge: It is easy for me to respond to the angst of the mind by joining with it and making up all kind of stories. "Yeh, you're right, we were done wrong, I will never get used to this movement, i will stay awake forever" were some of my more dramatic thoughts. I took a deep breathe, listening to the voices and thought I am not going to play this time! I started breathing deeply and was aware that in my angry place i was tight. I was holding the tension i had just had a massage to relieve. I laughed, silently, not to awaken my sister, and then began to notice that as i breathed i became more relaxed and instead of being a board torn by tempestuous seas, i was rolling and following the rhythm of the boat's movement.

Spiritual Practice: To remember that I am Shalem - whole and a symphony of separate parts - one very busy mind, one wise body and one very alive spirit living together with the Indwelling Presence. And we all must learn to live with each other. We are in relationship with each other and in any relationship there are moments when tension is high and flow is limited. Yet, this is also a moment of potential freedom of working together for the greater good, to be at our highest good. Each moment can be an inspiration.

Blessings of the Vav: In every moment there is a possibility to move beyond the habits rather than remain in my old comfortable rut. In each moment I can call on the Vav, the emotional connector, to help me find what comes after I say 'and' and to go deeper with knowing what my unique soul can be.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Am Smart Just By Asking the Questions

Blessings of Being Awake: Where did they go, my sister asked, after the camps were liberated? It was early this morning when the man brought the coffee and tea. I had not wanted to get up and and there I sat wrapped in the terry robe, sipping my hot water and eating freshly cut fruit, talking about deep questions.

When ML decided that she was not going to be a living-walking-on-this-earth-being she reactivated in me many emotions and thoughts related to life and death and the choices we make.

When my mother decided to walk across the eight lane boulevard not at the crosswalk and met a car, she changed how i looked at her life and a paradigm shift began to happen within me.

Spiritual Challenge: I want to stay awake to living on the edge of not knowing. I want to stay fascinated about how opening a door, walking around a corner, crossing a threshold, having a thought change ones perspective and behavior. And how can I keep the door open to possibilities and continue asking the questions and not just accepting what is and moving on. My sister is a good role model for asking the questions.

Spiritual Practice: What does one do early in the morning with these deep thoughts that stir the soul and mind with wonder. Keep asking them and not needing to find the answers.

Blessings of the Vav: Asking the questions is important, knowing the answers is not. Vav allows me to ask without knowing the answers so i can stay curious in this abyss of life. And……………...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Meeting of Peace and Reconciliation

The mourning heart receiving; grief drawing # 3"

On 9th of Adar, about three months after 'the accident' that took the life of my mother of blessed memory's life, I met in the lawyer's office with the woman who had driven the car that hit my mother.

I did not think of this meeting as an act of forgiveness, as it is not my place to forgive. That is between her and her G!D. However, my intention was to offer her information about my family and how we are coping and to tell her our perspective on what happened and let her make the decision about her own suffering.

This was a meeting whose general intention was for peace...of mind and heart, and reconciliation with our hearts that might be wandering, alone, distraught, feeling abandoned and bad as why else would such a horrific thing happen to one if you did not deserve it and was being punished.

My daughters and I had wanted this meeting, after all the legal decisions were finalized. We had heard through the lawyers that she was distraught and all of us wanted her to know us. We viewed what had happened as accident and we were grieving deeply for the death and our loss of my Mother and their Nana.

The meeting went well, as there was transformation. Buber might interpret as it went from an I-it relationship to an I-thou relationship; from 'the woman who drove the car' to B, mother, devout and pious, wife of a church elder, Registered Nurse, recent emigrant, tender heart.

It was awkward at first, no matter how much my training I have, the crossing of the threshold into the unknown is often slow and cautious. I said my usual prayer 'Mah Yakar Hasedecha, How Precious is Your Loving-kindness' to assure myself that I was not alone. I wanted conscious recognition that I wanted and needed Divine Presence, i could not and did not want to do this alone.

We talked for about 35 minutes and went from knots to flowing strings, from politeness to authentic warmth. And toward the end of our time I held her hands and sang to her my rendition of Leonard Cohen's Halleluyah that had been ringing in my ears.

'We will do and we will understand' the Hebrews say to Moshe. Sometimes you have to do something even though you do not know why and have no agenda or imagined outcome. That is how I felt about this meeting. And now that it is over, I am pleased with my trust in my sense of rightness and courage to follow through. I was very brave to meet with the woman who drove the car that hit my mother that caused her ultimate death. My bravery led me to know me in a deep way. I had circumcised my heart in public and my hope is the world is a better place because of these moments in time.

When i came home, I dressed in warm and comfy clothes and drank hot tea and sat on the floor reading over the condolence cards that were sent to my family. I wanted to be close to the people who knew my mother and I cried deeply and spoke to my mother's Spirit that I was sure was comforting me.

Blessings of the Vav: I could not have done this is i had held to a right-wrong, good-bad, way of thinking. I would still be in a vicious cycle of not knowing and connected to someone i would never know. Only with the teaching of the Vav and trust that not knowing is an OK place to be and with the support of my daughters proving that this only child is never physically alone and knowing that my Mother, of blessed memory, is always with me cheering me on in her silent unique way could i have known a blessing today. I am sure that being a Vav-nik- allows this heart to know love. Maybe this hope i hold onto with such tenacity is not unfounded.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Afflicting the Comfortable

Blessings of Being Awake: I laugh with myself
as I think 'i am a sign watcher', like the main character in The Alchemist. When I hear a phrase more than once in different contexts or I see a pattern of information coming my way i think 'oh, i need to pay attention, this is for me.'

Since my mother died and my daughters and i emptied her home i have taken on the task of simplifying my life and my home. I have been digging through the boxes hidden in the back of the closet, reviewing my life through the things I have held onto and now I no longer think i need as a reminder of an amazing life. When I came across my ordination certificate, I stopped and read it. The wording is clear and powerful and reminds me of my charge. And 'comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable' had been sitting quietly in my mind.

And then, yesterday when I was listening to Jay Michaelson speak on spirituality I heard him say the same phrase. For me these twice repeated phrases were in alignment with my visceral awareness and the connected thoughts that say, ' it is time to go deeper and push the edges of your comfort zone.' Naturally as I put this all together I want to know what it means and where wi am to practice this afflicting. I want to imagine what I cannot imagine so that I can be the captain of my ship and director of my home movie. And, deep breath, I have no idea what this afflicting will look like or where it will happen.

Spiritual Challenges: Last week's Torah portion involves the continuing saga of the dueling dialogue between Pharaoh and his hardened heart and Moshe and his un-cirmcumcised lips. At one point Pharaoh said 'go, but only take certain people.' Moshe counters with, 'no, as i will not know how i am to serve G!D until i get there'. This phrase has been so helpful to me. It helps me notice when the mind is plotting away and to stop planning and practicing before it is my turn to speak. It reminds me to listen and sp in the moment. And when I remember that I truly know nothing, i know this is a moment to support my desire to strengthen the mind to stay Here. I do not need to plan for the future that I think i can not only predict but also plan for. As Here is the only place I have any control over. My mother's tragic death and her nearing 92nd birthday are vivid reminders of that truth.

Spiritual Practice: So again I am sitting with the Kavannah, the deep intention of my heart, to learn and then practice how to afflict the comfortable; to go deeper and to not let being politically correct keep me from deeper conversations and to be transparent and to be honest. To help me have what i want, an open heart that includes me. I only have to love me as if i were my own lover, i do not have to take care of people who can take care of themselves.
Blessings of the Vav: I can continue to open my heart to include me, to notice the fear and work with it, not run from it and to notice that under the fear is a tender heart that only wants connection to herself, to others and her Divine nature.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And Eventually You Become The Matriarch

Photo caption: three cousins, Richie, Vivie, Jerry; 1948, at Lewis Lake, Winthrop, MA
Blessings of Being Awake: On November 11, 2009, at about 6:15 in the evening, I became the head of my family, consisting presently of two daughters, their husbands and four grandchildren. This was not my decision, like becoming a parent or taking on couple responsibilities when I got married. On the day my mother quite unexpectedly died, I became an orphan, there is no one beside me or behind me to be the final decision, the holder together. I am it! And I am not even sure what 'it' is although I may have seen it from a distance. I was not prepared for this new role even though I did on one occasion try to imagine what it would be like when it did happen. I could not!
Spiritual Challenge: I feel like I am out in space without my space suit, untethered looking down on earth and hoping it stays very far away! Am I ready for this role and how it is different than before, as single mom without a partner. How will my relationship with my family change or will it? I wonder how the Godfather felt when it was his turn to take over. I am excited about wearing the purple robes of royalty. And I have lots of questions. One thing I will remember is to stay in touch, keep them up with my plans and learn a lot! That is my challenge as a fiercely independent, hippie, only child, woman of the world.
Spiritual Practice: When my Mom was alive she covered for me. I could travel, miss calls, never get to calls and without knowing she filled in. She had a relationship with my daughters i will never have, as each couple has its own energy. Moses is quoted as responding to Pharaoh when he said 'go and leave the women' , 'no, 'we must all go together, as we will not know how to serve G!D until we get there. ' So why worry about the future, Phyllis reminded me today, what Meher Baba taught, don't worry, be happy. May be that is what this Matriarch will do, since I am sure this death that laid this role in my hands was not my idea and was in the plans and I am ready to take it on!
Blessings of Agudat HaVav: blessings of being a member of the Society of the Vav, vav-nik. At the top of most columns in the Torah there is a vav at the beginning of the word. The sages tell us that this means the story is on going, we only stop to take a breath before we go on. So for a while, as I move through the grief, I will remember to breathe, as I cross this threshold and enter my new role. I am sure that my ancestors, the Evrites, the boundary crossers, knew how to stop and breathe and remember to be grateful that they were never alone. And I am royally receiving the energy of my ancestors in my new role.

Monday, January 11, 2010

If Doing is Being, What is Receiving?

Picture title: How long does it take to see that the bush that is burning is not being consumed?
Blessings of Being Awake: Ana's call this morning reminded me again that I needed to just be receiving and healing. Her words sound true and echo the same words a friend gave me last week, you only have to receive. At that point I drew my third drawing expressing my grief; a picture of a huge heart filled with grey color and little red hearts floating in and out and around her and some even touched her edges. As I drew the hearts that touched my heart, I viscerally felt the tenderness and soothing nature and I wanted more. Yet, I am not practiced and I am awkward. at ministering to only me.
Spiritual Challenge: I want to move on and I feel stuck in this bedlam space and I need to stay here and learn how to care for me, the one who has set an intention of creating more art space and less intellectual space. I need to listen to my heart and words of intention and to walk with the great fear into supporting me in my dreams previously set aside for the universal fears of success.
Spiritual Practice: Today Roberta and I will just clean up my office so I can walk around the past and potential creativity that now looks like boxes and books. I will say good-bye to all that I have held onto that made me feel safe, protected and gave me an identity. Oy Vay!!!
Blessings of Being a proud member of The Society of the Vav: To walk the talk of being a Vav I need to stand tall, open hearted, strong back, being all of who I am am and in the present moment be inspired to follow my heart that can only be heard in the stillness of silence, as Ezekiel reminds me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Competing Committment

Blessings of Being Awake: Yesterday, Cousin Arnie called to wish me a Happy New Year and to get caught up on each others' lives and our family's history. We were talking about our personal challenges this year and how even when we want change, we often run into distractions that take us off our path. Since we are both in the the business of making the world a better place I mentioned a favorite leadership development book, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work by Kegan and Lahey. The authors call the underlying cause of the distraction 'a competing commitment.' Working with this concept pushes me beyond my comfort zone to uproot whatever is holding me in place and does not allow me to flow with the the river.
At this time of year the secular calendar offers me an opportunity to pause and gain perspective on where I am and where I might have been distracted. So this Shabbat morning as I read in Torah Queeries the Drash for Vayechi-and he lived-this week's Torah portion about Joseph the outsider by Rabbi Jill Hammer, I was reminded of a conversation I had several days ago at our monthly lesbian pot luck. We were talking about the latest movies and someone said is George Clooney gay? I said I did not know. I then asked what is so toxic about being called lesbian or gay? There was a pause in the conversation and someone said I think Oprah is lesbian and will come out after she retires. We all laughed and I said what if being gay or lesbian is held in a place of honor or was just another adjective that defined one? Eva responded the world would be entirely different. I knew then what I wanted for myself more than any other gift for 2010.
Spiritual Challenge: I am committed to being politically correct as it fits with a core belief of mine, that of being kind. And often being careful with my language can keep me from the opportunity for deeper conversations both with myself and others. In The Faith Club the reason the authors' relationships grew in length and depth was because the women confronting each other on traditional beliefs that had not been explored outside these conversations. So for 2010 I challenge my need for connection with me and others with these questions:
Can I be both kind and truthful while being open to others who confront me on my behavior? Can I speak my truth as I did this morning with my daughter Ilana and deepen our conversation and my connections both with myself and her? Am I willing to share all of myself with others with pride and nonchalance or even terror? Am I willing to do what the male lead in Avatar did, risk death to meet my partner and bond with another to be able to fly together, blending energies and being the self of the moment? And to risk everything to save a life, my life?
Spiritual Practice: Through my meditation practice and mindfulness living I am committed to uproot and explore the competing commitment of my intertwining of sex and emotional safety. To hold the image of Etta Grace freely dancing in the water and she is me smiling and laughing and being in joy with all of me, so stunning in all my true colors everywhere!
Blessings of the Vav: In the mystical tradition of Hebrew Wisdom, the Vav resides in the body and holds the energy of emotional connection. I am feeling the erotic nature of this energy and revel in the aliveness. I am aroused and smiling with innocence and delight of the possibilities this holds for me.