Monday, February 21, 2011

Collecting Stories on Time

Today I heard Jim Croce's voice, "If I could put time in a bottle....", I am sure you know the rest. I have images of the bottle being the one you throw out into the ocean with a message hoping for some Divine connection.

Then I read: There is more to life than increasing it's speed attributed to M. Ghandi and I breathe deeply into this moment wondering, "what is my relationship to speeding?"

What I think is interesting is my perspective on women in Judaism. There has always been a place for us, relegated to time. More on this later.

Gail told me a story she heard from an inspirational speaker about time. There was taxi driver who was trying to make as much money as he could, picking up fares, dropping them off and looking for the next fare. One day he was sent to pick-up a women and take her to Hospice. It was her time to go, she said, and there was no one to say good bye to.

Well, apparently, these words, this woman, the story touched the taxi cab driver's heart. He began talking with her about her life, what had brought her to the city, where she had lived beside where he had picked her up. And she responded to his questions. As he headed off toward Hospice, he decided he was going to take his time with this 'fare' and drive her around the city for her last tour. She was delighted with his attention.

The key teaching, I was told, is the greatest gift you can give anyone is time. And if you put yourself on the list, then you can give yourself the gift of time, also. And attention is love, I have been told.

So, what have you been thinking about time? How do you spend your time? How do you give it away? What was your response to your generosity? How are you creative with time?

Barry Oshry created a workshop simulation where during the three hour process the facilitators call "time out." And for the next 20 minutes people are asked to stop, reflect and share their experiences with one another. Then the simulation begins again.

How often do I do that? Probably not enough. And now that I have thought about it, maybe i will do it more. In Action Learning at the Center for Creative Leadership "stop, reflect, write" are key components to keep people in the learning mindset.

Maybe today, I will take some time to give me attention by stopping, reflecting, breathing and listening to my heart, my body, my mind and then laugh with joy at being with me!

And, I have noticed that since I have been focusing on time, I have been slowing my driving down just a bit.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The One Day That is Different

Today is Friday, the one day I slow down and breathe deeply, take the time to connect with me, nature, family and ritual. After lunch, I will clear off my table, take off the red table cloth and replace it with the white linen and lace cloth. Then put my candles and crystal sticks on the the wine cup, and embroidered Shabbat cloth to hold my bread. Then I will get my TZedakah box and angel cards. I like the idea of starting my Sabbath on Friday afternoon, when I can.

As I close a very busy and creative week, I wanted to offer some wisdom from my friends about time. I think each is important in their own ways.

I especially need to slow down and give attention to my daughters. As today B called to say her daughter is in the hospital in critical condition. It is at this moment I am forced again to remember how precious life is. And everything else does not really matter. for this Shabbat I will set some intetnions that I hope I can keep of setting some clear priorities around how I spend my time.

S writes, "When I was younger I expected things to be done in a timely way and promises related to deadlines were very important to me. Now, I automatically tack on days, weeks, months and even years to a timeline. When a workman says he'll be here in 3 weeks, I assume if he makes it in 6 we're still "on time." When I'm starting a project that I think should take 3-6 months, I automatically think of at least a year. It's helped me avoid disappointment and frustration with delays. In the end, most of the time it really doesn't matter if it's today or not. "

How wise I can be to think I only think I know and yet what do I really know? What I want and what I get and hopefully they are not too far apart.

R wrote, "several years ago, I just one day suddenly decided to start driving slowly…all the time. I now drive about 5mph under the speed limit. I get almost everywhere almost as quickly as I did before and I, more often than not, meet cars that go flying by me at the next traffic light.

I’ve had a checkered history with speeding tickets…including two on one day some years ago (one in my car and the other on my motorcycle…alas). When I was thoughtful about it, I chalked the habit up to a slowly simmering anxiety that I’ve always known I had. But I find that my newly adopted driving habit is probably the number one (maybe number two…running is right up there) thing I do to make peace with that anxiety.

And the sequel to all this is that a couple of weeks ago I was driving down Military Trail – at 40mph – and a blue sports car went zooming around me…going at least 60, I’m sure. I found myself immediately getting knot in the pit of my stomach angry. Then I stepped back from it and said to myself, “isn’t that interesting? Maybe he has an emergency, or maybe he’s late for an appointment, or maybe he too has an anxiety issue.” Whatever the reason, I clearly didn’t have to let myself get sucked in by his behavior. And I didn’t. Good example of a new slant on an old life lesson, I guess."

I often find myself laughing at myself and how quickly the mind judges. When I am awake enough to notice this, I can choose joy. That is when I am awake. Other times, I add to my list of what is not right in the world. Then begin to figure how to be in the flow to heal the seams that have cracked.

And the beat goes on and on and on! May your and my Sabbath have a taste of the world to come!

Tiiiime is On My Side, Oh, Yes It Is!

I awoke to singing along with the Rolling Stones' famous quote and lines from their song, as I was reading a story by a friend who responded to my request to help me get a grip on making a friend of time.

By the way, I am getting loads of help on this project, including Gila and Ginny knowing it was the Stones' song I had floating in my head. Ginny even wrote that they first sang it on the Ed Sullivan Show! How many of you remember that show? LOL!

If I think of time as a friend then there are no 'dead' lines, just 'do' dates. When I am 'hooked in', as my astrologer friend Dale says, then I am in the flow with the universe. And mystical Judaism tells of the transcendent soul being in alignment with the imminent soul, so the the outside soul can drip its wisdom into the inside soul. That is called being in mazel tov! Right place, right time.

In my limited experience of consciousness, that state takes loads of self trust, reflection, listening, breathing, stopping, laughing at myself, faith in something bigger than me and a letting go of what I think is right by someone else's standard; being in integrity with me and the universe.

Here is J's story that she said: " I threw my brother, his wife and sons and daughter-in-laws out of my house some 13 years ago when he said something so violent to my partner & his sons. They were disturbed. I asked my brother about this and he said he did not know what they were talking about and besides I used the wrong words....this response (manipulative verbiage from a brother who went for his doctorate in semantical philosophy, on top of his wife criticizing the food I had prepared for Passover and stating that she hated being in my home,etc.) I stated that I am valuable, my friends are valuable and I will not tolerate that kind of verbal insult and ugliness. They laughed and made fun of me. I went to the door and ushered them all out with the comment that they are not welcomed back into my home. That did not stop me from calling them , from time to time, to stay connected and know that some day we may fall back into another kind of rhythm. Literally a dozen years passed with me calling , about twice a year, knowing that my brother is important to me and he will grow in his own time OR not, I will be here when that happens. It happened and we are respectfully back in each others lives with a few actual face to face encounters ( at his home and in neutral territory). I have not invited them to my home yet and talked with them about them processing, in their way, the reactions they had to my home. I did not need to hear them; however, I do not want any more facial and verbal negative reactions to me or my home. They need to determine when that time is to reenter. I can wait because time is right now as I type this, as time was when I convulsed with agony at my decision to usher them out of my home. I revisited the pain many times and was sure that I could live with whatever outcome as I am so certain of non attachment and attachment and impermanence, etc. In this case my rewards is that we are again together, though their are moments that are a bit precarious. Noticing my behavior and response to a situation is important and I am ok with having violent, unwholesome reactions too. They do not last long, time is my friend, time is short and I am OK with not practicing my belief 100%. It is another moment in time to keep learning and doing and re-doing. PLUS I really do not want everything to be so calm....I think that is too boring too; I like the various tonalities that come from me as an imperfect human being. AND I keep track of when enough is enough and that is TIME based. "

As I re-read this story, I am preparing to facilitate a workshop on trust. And Covey says, "nothing is a fast as the speed of trust." And writes of this at the personal and professional levels. I think how quickly we cover our heart and how long it takes to uncover the heart and feel safe and build trust.

When I have tiiiiime on my side, being present to me and the universe, then perhaps i am moving toward making a friend of time. So, if i weave my meditation practice into this equation, then when i notice without judging, and stay with me in all my emotions, thoughts, visceral response to the moment, then i am in NOW and my response is current and 'spot on!'

Laughing at me, I leave you to continue the quest of learning about time by working at work responsibilities.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hit and Run

My sister and I were having ones of those 'cross the bridge' conversations. Where I was bothered about something that had happened between us and I had asked to 'cross the bridge' so we could talk to each other outside the distractions of our everyday life.

She had done something that left me going off by myself to take care of myself. My heart was walled up and defended and underneath I was sad, angry, and feeling abandoned. And I was not going to tell anyone that. I had learned a long time ago to shove all those feelings under the mat of the covering of my heart.

In our conversation, she was able to hear me and I was able to hear that she has a habit of 'hit and run.' In that moment, she is not in control of her feelings and instead of staying and talking about what she is feeling, she says what she needs to say and runs away. I could absolutely hear that. For one reason, I love her and want to stay in relationship with this long time sister-friend. Secondly, I know I have done that same behavior.

Dissociation, running away from the now, is the other side of consciousness, to quote Tim, my therapist. And as I move to being more awake in my life, i am choosing to run less and "be here now", to quote that famous psychologist turned Hindu guru follower.

So, I ask myself what is so hard about being here? Can I notice my discomfort and breathe into it like I do on the massage table when the 'spot' touched is so painful and needs the oxygen to free the toxins, untie the knotted muscle?

Am I really wanting to free my soul from whatever covers her pureness and to open the doors to possibilities when I stay present?

Do I want to admit my faith in something bigger than me, playing with me, keeping me hoping for love?

What are you thinking today about time, being conscious, love possibilities and freedom?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Am Denouncing My Speed Queen Crown

After my first speeding ticket in four years, $129.00 ouch!, I have decided this is a sign I need to really look at my relationship with time.

In 1993, a Lakota medicine man in a one-on-one I-Ching session told me something I have been grappling with ever since. The phrase is "make a friend of time". My immediate response to his words was to begin to cry, like I had been told some ultimate truth of the universe. I knew then that it was important and yet I did not know how it related to my life. I think after all these years I may be getting to the core of this conundrum, this Zen-koan.

As I drove home the 3 1/2 hours from St. Petersberg, I kept thinking what is it about time? What am I running from or toward that keeps me from being here. How have I not made a friend of time?

And then I remembered the sexual abuse I endured at age five that I hid from my conciousness until I was in my late 40s. And that dissociation is one way of running away from the pain of the moment. And that at 67 I no longer need to rush away from now, as I can take care of me, unlike that of my childhood.

And the power, skills and personal best I feel behind the wheel, I can also feel in other places. I do not need to be behind the wheel of the car to do that!

Yet, this relationship with time is something else!

I remembered once following a woman who was driving so slow I was about to bust a gasket! I needed to follow her, because she was leading me out of a development of homes to where I needed to be going. I remebered being in awe of her steady driving, no rushing, no need to rush, she was sure and steady. I admired her driving and her grounded-ness to the earth. I wished I had that skill and yet did not know if I ever could drive that slow. What a paradox!!

So what has this to do with and? Well the letter vav is a shape shifter letter. In Biblical Hebrew it is called a "reversive vav" as it turns the past into the future and future into the present. And in English, using the word and instead of but can change the possibilities and change the 'same old thinking' into a 'growth' mindset. If we can hold more than one reality as true, we can change the world. Your pain and my pain are both awful and never should have happened and they did.

So what do I get for denouncing my Speed Queen Crown? I get another chance at life. Just like the state police officer, who stopped me, gave me another chance by marking down the speed I was driving; so can I try something new. And I will see what will happen not to rush through eating, the stop sign, the conversation, the uncomfortable moment. Maybe there is something there I need to notice. Maybe I can learn to make a friend of time.

So why do you speed? What is your relationship to time? I need your help! tell me your thoughts.