Thursday, January 20, 2011

We Need Each Other AND Together We Can Do Anything BUT

A palm grows in Jamaica: growing can be messy and beautiful
As my mind wanders through this blog posting I noticed that I needed to come back to the beginning and give you attention and a focus for what I am trying to write about today..

I am focusing on three ideas: 1) noticing the buts i say under my breath that keep me from staying on the path of my intention, 2)the importance of engaging others in my process as sustainability partners, 3) seeing all this as treating myself as if I were my own lover

And so I begin again:
I laugh at myself as I write the title of this blog. The very word I have been avoiding is right in my face and lives with me every moment as I live my mission of "de-but-ing the world" by substituting the word and for the world but!

And I laugh out loud, knowing I teach what I have to learn!

The many years that my father, of blessed memory, was president of the synagogue he and my mother were members of, he used to end his announcement of events at the end of services with the phrase,"We need each other." I am not sure when or how it came into his consciousness to say this, whether it was being the youngest member of his family or just seeing how divisive we can be. We thought it was great! The phrase became a mantra for his whole family including my daughters Andrea and Ilana and myself. Then the gated community he and my mother lived in even picked up on the phrase. There is a sign by the exit that reads "We need you, buckle up!" And for all his saying the phrase, sadly, I am not sure he believed we needed him by the end of his life.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity of working with some young people who were Fellows of the Acumen Fund. I was given a book, The Blue Sweater, to read and to learn how a woman's belief that "together we can make anything happen" can change the world. Jacqueline Novogratz is founder and CEO of this nonprofit venture capital firm. I loved the phrase as it seemed to take, "we need each other" another step forward. So I used this phrase in my visioning and storytelling workshops as I work with women, encouraging them to think of themselves as leaders of themselves. And at the end of the workshop, before they shared their vision and story, we set up accountability partners to keep them on the path of their vision. I ponder about who are my accountability partners.

I am seeing I am blessed by many. I remember in preparation for my trip around the world, I gathered some friends to put up the map of the world. They kept me honest in following through with my dream. When I was having my Bat Mitzvah, I gathered my friends to ask them to support me by arranging the food in the celebration of that Sabbath. Asking for help, exposing myself to needing someone is very hard to do.

And where am I going? I am headed toward uncovering the "buts", the "competing commitments", as Kegan and Lehey write about the "big assumption" that keep me in old patterns that have kept me emotionally safe in the world. These are my list short list of BUTS:
but what would they say,
but they won't like me
but i do not think i can do it
what will people think
but i have not enough money
but i am not smart enough
what about my family i need to think of them too
but i won't do it right
but i do not have time
but it would take too much time
but it wouldn't make a difference

I am frequently aware and often experience the desires in my heart. And the buts are so subtle, quiet, sneaky! I have to laugh at myself and say a thousand ANDs for each BUT!

I am fascinated by the many times I hear from people "Why can't I do what I know I love or want to do?" or "Why do I know what I need to do and cannot follow through?' A teacher of mine, Marc Gafni, talked of 'standing at the edge of fulfillment'. What is it about that moment that thrills me so much that I do not want to leave and I just stay there?

I , also,ask myself when am I going to let go and just do it, be loyal to myself like my clients tell me that I am to them as I keep them honest? Tantra teaches the joy of sitting on the edge and my voice teacher tells me to stay on the edge of emotion and ride the edge! So I am getting to build a relationship with the emotion of the edge and i am going to ride! Yahoooo!

And then yesterday, a client told me of something she wanted to do that she had not done and knew would be good for herself. As we explored and unpacked her desire to the last detail of when she would do what she knew she loved and had avoided, I committed to think of her at that moment she would begin on her journey. And I got this note from her:

*At 1:00, part of me was arguing, "No, don't go. You don't have time. It's more comfortable to stay where you are." Another part was saying (more loudly) "I have already stated my intention to walk at 1:00, and TZipi will be thinking of me walking then. I am going!" That part won out. :-) As soon as I took the first few steps, I was glad. (How often do we do the same in our work and leadership?)
*I decided on the spur of the moment to go in a new direction, and discovered a path I've never been on before. It was a blessing. (How can I reassure my people that the new paths God is leading us onto hold unexpected blessings?)
*I let my mind wander and simply paid attention to what was in front of me at the moment. How refreshing!
*A clear blue sky and bright sunshine sparkling on the snow at the path's edge.
*After about two minutes, the sound of birdsong began to surround me. (How often have I missed out on that by staying cooped up and not getting out there where beauty and wonder and blessings are?)
*I was amazed at how far I walked. I ended up on another side of town and saw things I never pay attention to. (Simone Weil: love is paying attention)
*I stopped on a bridge overlooking a clear rushing trout stream on my way back, and watched and listened to the water for some time. It was a beautiful reminder that the life force is unstoppable, that God is always creating something new, and that I am part of all of that.
*A hawk soared overhead.
*My decision to do one good thing for myself today -- walk -- led to another -- to choose only healthy things to eat for lunch. (Making one wise decision can open up other new possibilities and make other wise decisions easier.)
*I feel better, inside and out!

Blessings of the Vav: I remember my teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold's latest chant: Renew within me a Spirit of "Yes!" from Psalm 51:12. I have a commitment to my soul's mission.
And as a way of being kind and loving to myself, I am creating sustainability sisters and brothers to keep me on the path! I LOL as I am admitting to myself that I need others as together we can make anything happen. I will ask them to ask me the deep questions that will inspire me and keep me honest! And we will be sustaining each other.
Who are your sustainability partners?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I am Yearning for the Familiar

And the child will lead them: Etta Grace's joy as she steers the boat has reminded me of my leadership commitment to joy as I am my leading myself back to Home, yet again! LingOL at the never ending learning life I have chosen!

I have been away from my physical home for five days now and everything is new; people, food, room, bed! Even turning on the faucet is a learning experience! And I do not go home for four more days of newness!

So much new and I feel grounded and flowing as I continue to be mindful and to do my rituals of chanting and meditation. And the work I am doing is good! I am being creative and myself. And yet, I am feeling like I am missing something. And there is no one I want to speak with, no one but me to fill the missing-ness.

So I pulled out my iPod and began to listen to the music and I noticed the tears falling down my cheek as my heart began to open again. Oh, that is what has been happening, I have covered my heart! I have disconnected with a part of myself. I have managed to avoid the other feelings that arise when I am traveling and excited about the adventure.

And the people around me are loving and I am not receiving, as I am in a "back up-armor on" stance. I am the cat who is feels unsafe and the woman who is missing the familiar. Oh, Halleluyah! for these quiet moments of self discovery! I am eternally grateful for solitude taken and self love given.

The joy has been there all along and I have not been in alignment and I have forgotten my commitment: stop, listen and reflect. And now I will go for a swim, laughing out loud at and with myself. Returning home is a moment to celebrate!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Think I am Falling in Love With G!D!

Holding the paradox of real life: hard and soft, sharp and sweet, cold and warm, at the Israeli-Lebanon border, 'The Good Fence', Metula, Israel.
The other day, I heard and felt a voice that thought about falling in love with G!D. And it felt good this thought. It felt good right in the middle of my body, expanding my heart, just a little bit with a sense of joy. I was shy about it and let it be. Then I thought, "what would my friends say if I told them I was falling in love with G!D?" "Who cares!" my adolescent voice said. Maybe I need new friends. And how many would think I was strange? And they do already, I laughed out loud at that thought!

Then, when I started to ponder the idea further, as my interest was peeked, I tried to figure how to fall in love with G!D. Of course, this mountain in front of me is my responsibility to climb, to determine what falling in love with G!D really truly means. And then, I started to feel awkward and and inept, as there must be only one way of falling in love with G!D. And I, poor me, did not know the 'right' way to do it! And all the ideas that started to flow into my consciousness sounded 'not good enuff', in my estimation. They were ideas like, "become orthodox". And as much as I love structure and order, that world is too far one way for me. I want an interfaith, multi-racial, multi-generational community. Like Brooklyn!

Then the thought came "maybe I do not have to figure out how to fall in love with G!D. I can let G!D tell me, show me what G!D needs from me. Then that G!D will know that I am in love with G!D".

And then I thought, "get simple, basic... " I am made in the likeness of G!D and maybe all I have to do is love me and that would be loving G!D. Then I wondered if I was being blasphemous. I have to do it right, you see, to be good.

Now this sounds convoluted and a little unsure of myself. And that is just where I am now in terms of my relationship with The One Who Hardens Peoples Hearts and Who is the Compassionate One, Who Is Without End, being what god will be. I was trying to invoke the Loving-Kindness of the One Who Connects Us All of a three letter word.

I do not believe there is a personal G!D and yet I do have my own personal relationship with the Source of All Blessings. I wonder what the difference is? I decided this is academic and one way thinking. How can anyone prove that their way is right or wrong of loving G!D? There can be as many ways of loving G!D as there are people on the planet. And maybe G!D may not be the word some use, preferring Source, Higher Power, The Light. There are so many languages that describe this energy that is no where and everywhere. And I do not think that any of those words involve violence, greed, killing, abuse, dishonesty or disconnecting. And I know that a seed bursting forth through the earth or animals who kill for survival or giving birth as the head reshapes itself and the vagina widens and the womb pushes the infant from its cocoon is painful.

So, I will continue to seek and be open to receiving the feeling I felt when the thought feeling arose within me. Maybe it is around the next corner, maybe I am on the edge of fulfillment soon to find the missing piece of the puzzle and the door bell will ring and some one will offer me a million dollars for winning the lottery for falling in love with G!D.

Laughing out loud, I place my head on my pillow, hoping sleep will come, and then I, like the seekers before me, will dream sweet dreams of finding home, knowing we will wake in the morning refreshed and reunited with the soul we took life for, ready to seek fulfillment again, and again and again.

As you see, I will never complete the puzzle, until my life is over. And only The One knows when that is... maybe. Who knows and Who ain't tellin'! So here I go again, walking the path of my deepest desire, swerving off and on, always returning to open my heart to Love.