Mother Earth – Showing Us Who Is Boss

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I woke up to news of more of the Earth’s wrath. Fires destroying beautiful California wine country. Smoke in the sky out my window from the Anaheim hills fires maybe 30-40 miles away.

Seems like floods, fires, earthquakes ,and weapons of mass destruction or mass casualties on scales not seen in our lifetimes are an everyday occurrence these days.

Maybe it’s that information is too fast and readily available –incessant, instantaneous news cycles, vivid pictures and videos that are hard to miss, posts and panic on Facebook etc.

Maybe it was always here in 1939 and 1968 but and inbetween but we were distracted and it wasn’t in our face.

Maybe it’s not the end of the world or an empire. Maybe it’s just that we are more aware of all that is happening each day.

I want to believe it’s the ushering in of a ” New Earth” at the end of all this. I want to be optimistic. But it feels like an uphill battle these days.

Mother Earth seems awfully angry. She wants us to listen but we are stubborn. So she is screaming louder.

Or maybe. It is just the way it is supposed to be.

The firestorm moved this Jewish, spiritual girl to read “Revelations” this a.m — never previously having been a Bible reader I was curious if there was something to it, something that could give us a clue about what is happening now….

“Fallen, fallen is Bablyon the great!
It has become a dwelling place of demons
a haunt of every foul spirit
a haunt of every foul bird
a haunt of every foul and hateful beast

For all the nations have drunk
of the wine of the wrath of her fornication
and the kings of its earth have
committed fornication with her
and the merchants of the earth have
grown rich from the power of her luxury

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying
Come out of her, my people
so that you do not take part in her sins
and so that you do not share in her plagues;

for her sins are heaped as high as heaven
and God has remembered her inequities (Revelations 18: 1-4)
……

Therefore her plagues will come in a single day –
pestilence and mourning and famine –
and she will be burned with fire:
for might is the Lord God who judges her

And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they they see the smoke of he burning; they will stand far off in fear of her torment ….. (Revelations 18: 8-9)
—————
There is more about judgment day and the New Heaven and New Earth so to speak. I don’t think Earth is mad at us as individual humans. I think She is mad at our unconsciousness, our stubborness, our refusal to see the easier path of Love. Maybe she is just frustrated Herself with her inability to teach us properly. She knows no other way. Her power is in her fury. And there is so much to undo that maybe the only way is to wipe it out, to start anew or to play Her last hand – to show us who is “boss”.

The Book of Trump?

By Shari Sachs
I had never read or learned about the Bible when I was growing up and shied away from it when I did grow up.  As someone who was born a Jew ethnically, but raised pretty much without any religious indoctrination it seemed irrelevant. I knew the Old Testament was the Jewish people’s book but not much more than that.  I knew there was a central figure named Jesus but mostly he scared me hanging on that crucifix, blood dripping and all. And anyway somewhere along the line I got the message that us Jews were unfairly blamed for his death (as well as so many other things).

I always believed in God, but my lack of spiritual upbringing left me searching for something “missing” most of my life – a center, an anchor, a GPS system to guide me, to help me sort out moral choices.

 
For awhile I forgot about Higher Powers, however you choose to name them and the unseen figure I called “God” I used to talk to when I was a little girl.   I lived my life as most of us do. Very focused on the earthly and material attainments. Raising and providing for me and my family. For me, I truly believed that the bigger the job I had, the more money I made, the bigger my office and title was, would equate to how much I mattered (or mattering at all) and to how much people would like me.  And what other people thought was very very important.
 
About six or seven years ago though,  I began to “wake up” to my separation from my soul and the soul of life and reconnect to that guy/girl/energy I used to call God.  I remembered what I had forgot.   I learned that the physical me was just a channel for the real me, – the one connected to that Higher Source. I still was and am an earthly, human being of course and will be until I choose to leave this body – terribly flawed and all that. I still struggle with righteous choices, temptations and mostly imperfections although slightly less so than before.  Or at least I am more aware of it when I do.
 
I started seeing myself differently but I also started seeing the world differently. I learned that we are a part of IT and we belong to IT and not the other way around. I learned how we were raping this beautiful sphere of a planet that is our Mother, that which sustains us and provides for Life.  Raping it and raping it and raping it.  Just to line the pockets of a few greedy people.
 
I saw, despite the wrath of others who felt differently that each one of us, even the ugliest of us was part of one divinity. So when we called people “monsters” for heinous acts or spewed hatred we really were saying that ourselves. The bigger question for me was why would the Divine create any of this darkness at all if the Divine is Love. And the only reason I or others I talked to could come up with which still only partially satisfies me is that we need the “contrast”, the duality to even know what Love is.

Just as we are witnessing now with the throngs of regular people, all colors, ages, orientations rising up together against this stark contrast to Love that is our current President and administration –  sometimes it just seems to take extremism of one type of energy to activate the other. Otherwise we just remain complacent and leave open spaces for darker energies to occupy.

 
In her early teens, during a tumultuous time in her life when her father and I were divorcing, my daughter became a Christian – the kind of Christian that follows what Jesus really said.  She is a seeker and spreader of love.  She is a person I look up to with a strong, noble center, a person leading her life to make a difference in the lives of others, the kind of person I wish I could have been at her age.  She began to introduce me to how becoming a Christian  helped her and I began to listen.
 I didn’t become a Christian per se, I shy away from “labels” as such, but I began to be very interested in what Jesus had to say – as a revolutionary and as an ascended master. As a teacher of love, compassion, non-judgment, forgiveness. So in a way, in my heart I did become a Christian. I thought that his teachings might not be such a bad thing to follow, maybe they could serve as that guidepost, that GPS I’d been looking for my whole life. 
 
Recently, an opportunity serendipitously arose to study the Bible.  Since I never learned it I got curious what the fuss about this book was all about. And I have been stunned!  Each week I walk out of our class, and shake my head at the similarities between then and now. It’s all laid out. Right there in black and white in these sacred volumes. Over and over and over  – and over again.
The people stray, they disobey the laws of God (love, brotherhood etc), bad things happen, sometimes very bad things. So then they wake up and go back to listening to God. For awhile. Then they forget. They are human. They need another lesson. Another opportunity. For hundreds and hundreds of years they do this.
 
Until finally Jesus arrives and speaks of a new consciousness. A new way of being.
One of the participants said that “God must be really angry right now at what He is seeing”  to which the minister replied – “No, God has been around a long time, He (She/It) has seen it all, many times before.”  You see, it’s kind of a pattern…
 
Right around the time of the inauguration and its aftermath,  we were reading Samuel 1, chapter 8 Verse 10.  The  context is that the people  were in such chaos trying to rule themselves that they asked for a King. Neither God or Samuel who was the “judge” leader at the time wanted that, he wanted them to see that He was King but he told Samuel to give them what he wanted.  
So obedient as he was, Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a King.  He said (with my comments for the current day inserted )
 
“These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to his horsemen… he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands (his cabinet and the GOP)… to plow his ground (Mir a Lago?, Trump Tower??) and to reap his harvest,(business interests?) and to make his implements of war (well we all know this one) and the equipment of his chariots (his plane etc). He will take your daughters to be perfumers and bakers (loss of women’s rights). He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards (the environment) and give them to his courtiers (his rich friends and said cabinet nominees and GOP). He will take your male and female slaves (the incarcerated, the poor) and the best of your cattle and donkeys (our taxes?) and put them to his work 
 
And in that day you will cry out because of your king whom you have chosen for your selves.”
 
The last line of that passage is ” but the Lord will not answer you in that day”. I left it out because I didn’t want to scare you – or me.  But mostly its because I don’t agree.  I think our Higher Source/Self WILL answer us.  Maybe not on “that day” But it will on the day we rise to a new way of being, to a new level of consciousness where love becomes the bottom line.
Not to be too dramatic (ok yes I am being kinda dramatic because it kinda is), but I think we are witnessing the GREAT OPPORTUNITY, a turning point in the  evolution of our species and our civilization.  
The Bible speaks of an apocalypse (I haven’t got to that part of “studying” it yet myself but I heard about it  🙂 )   I know enough to know that it can be interpreted in different ways either as an event of cataclysmic proportion that causes great destruction signifying the end of the world.
  Or, it can be interpreted according to the Greek word for apocalypse which is “apocálypsis” and means “a revealing or an uncovering …  It is like a curtain or veil that is lifted so that what is behind it can be seen or the contents are suddenly disclosed.  The Book of Revelation has a similar meaning as it is an uncovering or revealing of something that was previously unseen or hidden.   It is like a curtain or veil that is lifted so that what is behind it can be seen or the contents are suddenly disclosed.  The Book of Revelation has a similar meaning as it is an uncovering or revealing of something that was previously unseen or hidden” (Jack Wellman/Patheos)
The Apocalypse could be the absolute end of the world — kaput, gone, extinct – OR it could be  the”end of the world as we know it”- the end of hate, the end of greed, the end of being separated from your Self, others and the planet, the end of profit over people, the end of war, maybe even the end of suffering??? Could it be??
So, I think this is where we are at.   We can go one way or the other. Inbetween is no longer a viable option. The veil is indeed being lifted and we are finally seeing what’s behind it.The ultimate “turning point”.   Could this be the “second coming” we have all heard about, not in the form of a person but in the lack of form, a new consciousness based on Love.  Look, look how people are rising up and above, not just the marginalized, not just the segregated or discriminated against but all of us seeing that we believe in liberty, justice, true democracy after all and willing to do something about it.
 This verse and chapter, this “Book of Trump” may not be what it appears to be. Especially to Trump and company.   It looks like it could be the demise of our democracy if not our world but it actually, in the end,  may be our saving grace.
I for one have hope.  These are truly revolutionary times
With Grace,

Shari

 

Is There Such a Thing as Being Too Free?

In the last few years, I have more freedom than I know what to do with.

It started with the “nest leaving”.  Within just a four year time span,  I experienced more than my fair share of it to include four graduations (2 daughters receiving a Bachelor Degree and a Master Degree each ), the wedding of my older daughter and- sadly – a tragic and premature death of my beloved dog.  It crescendoed with the “career leaving” – then ending after close to thirty years.

What exactly do we mean when we talk about being “free?” anyway as there are a number of nuances to its meaning.  As defined by Webster’s the word “free”  can either be a feeling – “the enjoyment of personal rights or liberty; to be exempt from external authority, interference, restriction etc. on a person’s will, thought, choice, action etc”.  or – it can also mean that something you want costs nothing, that it comes without a price.

The logical conclusion then should be that ‘freedom” by definition should be free, that there is no price to pay for it, that it comes at no cost etc.

But that’s not true is it?

We don’t get freedom for free – conversely, we hold onto to it tightly, die for it, live for it, maybe even compromise for it?

How could any state of being, of existence that is so universally coveted be attained without putting other things at stake, without fighting for it?

I think whoever decided that free also means “costs nothing” made a mistake. I think there was supposed to be a different word for something that costs nothing. Like worthless or valueless or meaningless or something like that.

Because being free definitely has a cost, it is not “free” as I was to learn the freer I became.

The summer that my oldest daughter went off to college and three years before her sister followed her, I was serendipitously led to adopting a sweet and loving little puppy. Aflie, my precious Shitzu became my third child, my constant companion who filled the empty space after my other two “babies” left the nest.

He died  – fairly tragically – four years later, just a week or so before July 4. His death and the way he died catalyzed my departure from my job of twenty years.

Freedom had always been a strong and primary personal value of mine and now here I was perched on it’s precipice, the very thing I had been seeking for so long now within my grasp.

After Alfie died , and I no longer had my job, and with my kids already gone off to school, I suddenly found myself surrounded with so much freedom that I was lost, utterly bewildered by what to do or how to be now that roles, structure and responsibility no longer defined my daily being.

I was free at last.

Free – from daily obligation and responsibility (other than to myself). Free – from titles, status, endless meetings and bosses telling me what to do. Free – from early morning and late night dog walks, from not being able to spontaneously go away. Free – from car pools, and having to leave work early, and from child rearing as a first priority.

Yes, I was “free” from all of that.

But I was also free from the sounds and laughter and hugs of children, my children, from the camaraderie of co-workers, from the financial comfort my paycheck brought, from having a reason to get up and get dressed nice everyday, and from having a nice office to go to and interesting people to interact with.

I was free from the joy my little puppy gave me.

I was so free that I was staring down a wide, open abyss without a clue where to go, what was next or how to get there. In place of the structures and routines I was used to, there was a loneliness I had never known, and an emptiness that left me breathless from the shock of no longer being needed by anyone or anything.

Suddenly, all the things that gave me a reason to get outside of myself were gone. I was left with a daily dose of love to give and no one to pour it on.

After my doggie died so close to the day we celebrate freedom, I found myself pondering “Would I have wished for freedom it if I knew the extent of the loss that accompanied it? If I had understood that it required such painful letting go of that which defined me and gave me something to love and care for?

Be careful what you wish for as they say. Because if you are not careful, the price of freedom could very well be more costly than the very freedom that is being sought.

 Yet, I still simultaneously pursue and resist freedom. And I still want to be both free and safe at the same time. I have no conclusions except that perhaps living in conundrums and questions is precisely what individual freedom is all about. And, if that’s the case, I have more than my fair share of it.

And on that note, Happy Independence Day

With Grace,

SHARI

 

Love and the Bottom Line

photo indulgy via tattooedbuddha.com

photo indulgy via tattooedbuddha.com

http://thetattooedbuddha.com/love-the-bottom-line-a-dream-about-right-livelihood/

I have a dream. And I also had a dream. About corporations and fear.  Or shall I say ultimately, about corporations and love.

I have a dream that one day it will be possible to say these two words – “corporations” and “love” – together without it sounding like an oxymoron.

I have a dream that one day executives and employees, CEOS and administrative assistants, peers and teams and managers alike will join together, say a few “kumbayas” and make love the bottom line or maybe even just one of them.

I have a dream that it will be okay to say the words  “I love you” within the confines of corporate walls, real or virtual.

Yes, I have about love in the business world.

I also had a dream. A real one.  It was about fear in the business world. It went like this:

I was drifting off to sleep, thinking about my years in corporate life and how I was afraid so much of the time.
Afraid of what I could or could not say, afraid of whether I was wearing the right thing, afraid of what people were saying about me, afraid that I wasn’t pleasing the boss, that my staff might not like and respect me, afraid of the next performance review, afraid of getting in trouble, (which I never did by the way).  Afraid. Afraid. Afraid.
The fact that I worked in Human Resources only exacerbated my already fearful state. As the organizational parent, conscience, judge and jury, my own behavior had to be beyond reproach.  It was on display and it was being watched. As if I wasn’t afraid enough just trying to navigate the corporate machine as a regular ol’ employee, being in this role ratcheted up the fear factor significantly.

A few minutes pass, my eyes gently give way and I settle into slumber. Suddenly, I’m transported to another consciousness, whisked away, like Dorothy in her tornado only instead of Oz I was headed back to the LAND of THE FORTUNE 500, a land where the road isn’t always paved with gold but the parachutes are.

I find myself sitting in my black leather executive chair, in my nicely appointed office only I’m dressed in my pajamas with no makeup and my hair askew, much like I dress for my new line of work as “self-employed.”   I’m shuffling papers as if i‘m trying to find something terribly important while mumbling the words  “Love is the bottom line,  Love is the ultimate bottom line”

My assistant comes in and asks me if I am okay and I tell her not only am I okay, I am truly blessed. I then tell her that I love her.  I go to give her a hug but I can tell by the look on her face that wouldn’t be such a good idea.

I then proceed to my morning meeting – still in pjs, no makeup, hair askew.  Needless to say I receive a number of funny looks from these folks too.  They have that same look on their face – something between horror and trying to hold back laughter – that my assistant did. They ask me for my thoughts on a solution to a very sticky problem and I respond —  Hmmm – “let me meditate on it”.

I then put my hands in prayer position and tell them all “Namaste” – “the light in me honors the light in you.”

Later that day, Human Resources shows up in my office.  Everything I have been fearing finally comes true.  I said the wrong thing.  My boss doesn’t like me and neither does the staff now.  To top it off, I’m told I’m not seen as a “business person”.  The ultimate corporate insult.

HR then politely tells me I am “not a fit” for the culture, sympathetically offers me the services of the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to assist me with getting my head back on straight (not HR’s job), and generously provides a bunch of boxes to pack my things.

I lay my head on my desk sobbing, I mumble to myself – “Oh If only I had stuck with business language, if only I didn’t say “I love you” to those I love, if only I said we are in business just to make money, if only I had the answer on the spot to the problem, they would have let me stay here in this LAND of FORTUNE and reap the benefits.   Or at least  I could have jumped on to the golden parachute and landed with some dollars in my pocket.”

If only….

I did the only thing left to do when you have just gotten fired in your dream.

I clicked my mouse three times (right click)….

And then I was “home.”  Back in the real world, or the unreal world, however you choose to look at it.  I realized I had just woken from a nightmare and returned to a place where dreams really can come true and actually do.
Even my dream about company’s being in business not only to make money but also to make love.

Now, how’s THAT for a “bottom line?”

With Grace,  Shari

Making Friends With Myself

NOTE:  This post was also published in Some Talk of You and Me http://sometalkofyouandme.com/2015/04/24/making-friends-with-myself-shari-sachs/

I know you all have them – the Voices inside your head.

A cacophony of Voices, that tell you, you can’t, you’re no good, who would want you anyway, you’re too fat/thin/ugly/stupid. Etc., etc., etc.

 Voices that beat you up for something you ostensibly did bad, wrong or so they say. Voices that tell you to worry, to be wary, be afraid. BE CAREFUL.

Then there is the Voice named GUILT, the one named SHAME, the one named SELF-LOATHING.

Need I go on?

Sometimes, however, there is one Voice that stands out amongst the rest refusing to relent, holding you hostage to it’s incessant chant, drowning out the others.

I have been wrestling with this Voice of mine for a very long time now, but especially so in the last years. I’m pretty sure that voice is echoing my ego, that part of me that might die if it didn’t have physical form and the limitations that come with it to attach to.

Egos, you see, are not the bedfellows of Spirit. They do not naturally “peacefully co-exist.”   Egos battle Spirit in a frenzied, “by any means necessary” way to stay alive. Even if it means killing you.

The battle between my ego and spirit culminated a few years back when life as I knew it began to systematically dismantle before my very eyes forcing me to “dis-identify” with more and more of the roles, expectations and material things that had defined me for the better part of a fifty something plus lifetime.

As I encountered this erosion of my ego the Voice simultaneously got louder and louder – and louder.

It no longer stopped after slinging just one or two negative digs my way; instead it assembled an ensemble of searing insults, put downs and self loathing commentary as an assault against my higher self that was desperately trying to edge it out.

Sometimes it got so loud that I couldn’t hear anything else. Sometimes it drowned everything else out to the point where I actually believed what it is saying. That was the point when I either would make stupid decisions, sabotage myself or keep myself small and from my own power.

Which of course, is just what “the Voice” wanted. And I really couldn’t blame it. After all, it was fighting for its survival.

But on a recent morning it was different. I think she – the Voice personified — must have been having a weak moment because she was not on her usual full frontal attack.   Instead she quietly introduced herself to me like someone who really wanted to know me and wasn’t sure I felt the same.

To my surprise, she was not practicing the usual guerrilla warfare I had come to expect. In fact, she was actually quite endearing.

“I’m Esmeralda” she whispered in my ear, gently announcing herself.

That’s right. Esmeralda.

After some minutes of chatting, I realized all she really wanted was love and a little bit of attention, maybe some validation. Yes, she acted like a brat to get it, but only because she knew no other way.

I realized that beneath the bravado and the bullying, all she really wanted was a hug.

So I hugged her. And when I did, it dawned on me that the more we try to extinguish something the harder it fights to stay alive.

I wondered, could it be that sometimes in our quest to get to know our higher selves we forget that we still need our egos? Or they still need us. Or both.

After all, the ego is the “instrument” which enables us to do the things we came to do in this Earthly world. There may come a time when we may not need them anymore but so long as we are in physical form they are with us for the ride.

They, and the bodies that go with it, are what allows us to see and hear and feel and sense beauty and grandeur and even the drama and pain that is all part of being alive in this physical world.

So why not befriend and embrace it? Just recognize it plays a supporting role instead of a leading one? Humor it when it tries to tell you what you can’t do and what you are not. Know that it’s just being silly and fighting to stay alive.

And so that’s what I did. I made her my friend. Esmerelda and I are now buds, bedfellows.  She still likes to act up from time to time and pretend she’s in control.   And sometimes I bite. But not for long. And when I come to my senses, I just stop and give her a hug, and tell her I love her. It’s as easy as that!

Are You Dancing on the Edge of Your Life Thinking You Have Forever?

NOTE:   This post was also published in Some Talk of You and Me under the title “Life is Now, Let’s Live it”

http://sometalkofyouandme.com/2015/04/19/life-is-now-lets-live-it-shari-sachs/

I am getting to that age where “unexpected” deaths are becoming more and expected, perhaps even accepted. Yesterday I went to a very sad, yet very beautiful and exceedingly divine memorial service for a 45 year old former colleague of mine who died “unexpectedly” after lingering for a couple of months subsequent to a brain aneurysm.

She had recently met and married a man who it turned out and much to both of their surprise to be the love of each other’s lives, finding each other after coming to close to giving up on love after years of singlehood and easing into mid-life (he ten years older) She quit her long held, chreished job and moved from the East Coast to California to be with him. They were just starting in mid-life, anew. They had found the very thing they thought they never would. By all accounts, their love was palpable and real and a light to others.

In the last several weeks I have learned of at least half a dozen deaths of people close to my age or younger (she was ten years younger) in my circles. Brothers and sisters of friends, childhood playmates, the ex-husband of a close friend.

Many of them were “unexpected”. A fast moving cancer that was never discovered for one, the fallout of a hardened life for another, a seemingly healthy heart that gave out without warning and the like for still others.

If I were sitting atop my spiritual perch right now (which I often am tempted to do) I could gain and try to give some comfort by pontificating about deeper understandings of life beyond death, the difference between physical bodies and formless timeless spirits, how death is merely a transition, a newly sculpted form – or lack of it, and how life here on Earth is merely an illusion, as some would believe. But, there are just times when the human part of me feels and needs to feel what it feels.

And what I feel in the wake of all of this reckoning is Grief. Grief over the loss of friends, or friends of friends or siblings of friends but also over the loss of my refusal to follow my soul’s calling too often when it beckoned.

I’m so sick of living a half- life, of being tentative and afraid, of not being ” all in”. I’m sick of seeking safety and missing out. I’m sick of regrets and woulda/shoulda/couldas. Tired of dancing around the edges of why I am here in the first place and at all. The Universe is showing me that this glorious, sensuous, painful, joyful, adventure-filled mystery we call LIFE can be over in an instant. Just like that (sound of fingers snapping).Despite our best laid plans. Despite our wishes and our waiting for the right time, moment, experience, place or person to do what we always yearned to do. Our physical forms can indeed “transition”, we can DIE before we did what we came to do, more importantly what we came to “be.”

I’m sure there is a prettier or more polished way of saying this. But I’m not wanting to be about making things look pretty or perfect anymore. I just want to be true, unafraid and unabashed and living each moment as if it is my last.

My surfer husband has taught me that there is a moment when you are catching a wave that you have to make a split second decision to “pull in” to the “barrel” of the wave – or not. The “barrel” I’m told is the transcendent spot of the wave, where spirit of surfer and sea merge. “Pulling in” is the only way to catch that part of the wave that will give you it’s ultimate ride. Fear, excitement, anticipation and sheer terror are all collude in a millisecond to force your decision. Pull in or not. One way or the other. There is no in-between.

To make the choice to not “pull in” does not necessarily mean you will get creamed, although you might. It’s just that you won’t get to experience the purest essence and exhilaration of that wave.   There will be more waves, if you are patient for sure, but that one ride that never was will never exist again. Ever.

I have decided, and am asking God/Spirit/Universe to assist me, to “pull in” to all that is calling to me with all the commitment, passion and fervor I can muster. It’s time, way past time. I have been sitting and waiting for that wave, splashing around in the water, running from it, or floating around it for too long.

I just pray it isnt too late.

What about you?

Why Being Alone on Christmas was the Best Present I Ever Had

It’s Christmas Day. And I am spending it alone.  I mean all alone.  Well –  alone without another human around that is.  I do have the company of  “Si” however, my “granddog” that I am dogsitting this week.  i_survived_being_home_alone_ornament-r59c201dd311b42dd897b86ed3e08a261_x7s2y_8byvr_324

When I told most people that I would be without any human companionship on Christmas day,  many of them gasped with a combination of something between pity and shock or just a sincere concern for me for having to spend Christmas all by my lonesome.

I wasn’t really sure myself how I felt about it.  A part of me thought that I should be upset that I was going to be all alone on what is such a traditional celebratory day usually spent in sharing the holiday cheer with family and friends.  But I think the expectation of how one should  be spending this day was creating more angst than how I really felt about it.  It was like I felt like I should be feeling more sad about it than I really was.

Was there something terribly wrong with me for not feeling more sadness or self-pity?  Was I some kind of a sociopath for not cringing at the notion of a quiet Christmas, just me and the dog?  Honestly this was much more the source of any consternation I’ve had this season than merely being alone itself.

So here it is – Christmas Day,  I’m  far from “home”- wherever that is these days (another story for another day).  I’m alone.  I don’t have one single present to unwrap.  No Christmas dinner except the rotisserie chicken I picked up last night and my favorite  chocolate Almond Dream ice cream(yum).  No one to eat with or drink with or toast with.  Nowhere  – and I mean – nowhere to go .  I can’t even put gas in my car today.

And it’s the best Christmas day ever.

Why?  Because in the space of solitude and free from the busyness and distractions of all the things we usually expect to be doing this time of year, something so much more valuable than any gift-wrapped present showed up.

In fact, this year I got the best gifts I have ever received. And I would like to share them with you:

Gift #1 – Experiencing the Love of a Dog

Si

Si

One of the biggest gifts I received this year was the gift – and I do mean gift – of spending time with a dog – just me and him –  who is fully in the present moment.  He knows nothing about the fact that this is a holiday but still spends every waking moment in a place of love, affection and acceptance and a bountiful zest for life that is consistent with the Christmas spirit .  Only he does this everyday and every moment of his life.  On this Christmas I got to experience love, affection and companionship from him that is the best example of unconditional love I could ever wish for.   It pours forth from him effortlessly and without judgment.  Plus he’s so darn CUTE.

His outpouring of love also brings forth love from me.  It encourages me to reciprocate not only to him but to everyone.  It helps me to feel and express the love that is inside of me.

 Gift #2 – Giving Beyond Presents

 On previous Christmas days and the weeks leading up to it, I was usually too busy to give of myself to anyone else.  Yes, I gave gifts to my family and friends of course, and sometimes I gave money to organizations and people in need. I gave what I thought I had to give which amounted mostly to material things.

During the season itself,  I was busy trying to do what I thought I “should’ – give and receive gifts, give and go to parties, spread joy and cheer.  These are all good things.  But I told myself the story this was all I had to give.  I had children and a job and not much time for volunteering or being a vessel to spread love to others in need.

This year, I went to a church service with my daughter who is deeply involved and committed to her church and their mission.   I went even though I consider myself “Jewish by birth” and heritage, and “spiritual but not religious”  in my beliefs.  I can tell you – from my novice standpoint  -church ain’t what it used to be.  The pastor is young and hip, there are no religious symbols, there’s rock music, most people wear jeans.  Its not even in a church!

The pastor’s words spoke to me and I believe much of what he preaches can reach many people regardless of their religious beliefs because he speaks to us as human beings and of the struggles we all face.

Part of the mission of this church is to give ridiculous amounts of time, labor, love and also money to others.  The next day they were going to give away huge Christmas dinners to 80 families in a low-income housing neighborhood.

I was going to be here in this strange town all alone.  Just me and Si.  I didn’t have any of the usual excuses of running around or preparing for parties so what reason could I possibly have for not going? So I went. By myself but completely in community.

There were lots of other people helping too.  It wasn’t a huge thing or a difficult thing to do.  But in doing it I got to see the joy that can be created by giving to those in need.  More importantly I got to interact with those in need and in doing so experience our shared humanity.  It’s a lot different than sending in a check or making a donation.  I’m not saying those things are bad or not desperately needed  What I am saying is that for me,  maybe for the first time in my life,  I understand there is nothing as powerful as touching another human being with your presence and your love.

Gift #3 – Discovering Gratitude for Real

It is amazing what spending time with one’s self and just being with one’s Self can enable us to discover.  This year I discovered gratitude.  I know that in spiritual circles this word has become seemingly overused, maybe a little trite.  I’ve read about it, talked about it, been preached to about it before.  But the truth is I spend a lot of time focused on what’s wrong instead of what’s right.  I feel grateful but often in a conditional way.

I’d also been crawling around in a lot of darkness lately, the light obscured  by lots of loss and confusion. But my experience of the last few days – spending quality time with both my daughters, loving and being loved by my granddog, spending time with people in need, and having ample time to meditate, pray, and dig deep even in unfamiliar circles has shown me all I have to be grateful for in a different, glowing light.

I’m grateful for heat and being warm on this cold day.  I’m grateful to have food.  I’m grateful to have amazing children and parents still alive and healthy.  I’m grateful for my husband being in my life.  I’m grateful that when my daughter got sick the other day she got better.  I could go on and on – and on.   And I plan to.  Maybe the word is overused for a reason.  Because gratitude is the switch that turns the light on and therefore, it can never really be used too much.

I’m grateful for this time alone for teaching me about gratitude.

Feeling Good

Gift #4 – Coming Closer to God

 This is by far the most important gift because it is the gift that makes all the other gifts possible.  I’m a spiritual seeker by nature.  Perhaps I always will be.  Over the years, I have followed many of the so called “new age” spiritual leaders  – Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra.  I do yoga and try to study the philosophy that accompanies the practice of physical poses.  I’m drawn toward Eastern spiritual philosophy. But, in the last few weeks I’ve been led both back to my Jewish roots and a pull toward Judasim, but also paradoxically toward the tenets of what I like to call “Christ consciousness” as well.

I’ve determined as many others have(and many others will also dispute) that all legitimate spiritual leaders – from Ghandi to King to Buddha to Mandela to Jesus himself promulgate essentially the same principles of compassion, non-judgment, service all grounded in God’s love plus the premise that we’ve been separated from our true selves and souls, and that there are many paths to God but they all lead to the same place.  They lead us to our own divinity, to knowing God better, to eventually making better, more conscious choices for our life because of knowing God and having greater purpose.

I’ve believed this intellectually. I believe it fervently.  But feeling it and finding it inside of myself, and especially practicing it consistently has been such a struggle.  Despite all my seeking, transformation has somehow eluded me. Sometimes  the extent of the struggle has tested my faith.  But this season, thanks to all these other gifts and the alone time I had to go inside,  I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’ve actually touched God inside of me and that me and Him or Her or the Higher Power that it is can start to have a relationship.  And that feels good and right and gives me hope.

So it is in that vain I say Merry Christmas today and really everyday.  I hope that all of your days are as full of love and serenity that mine has been.  And that you get the best present you ever had too!

A New Kind of News for a New Kind of Earth?

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall – think of it, always.                                                 Ghandi

I spent most of today watching the events in Boston as they unfolded on tv.  As I watched, I had many, meandering thoughts as I’m sure many of you did and do. My thoughts tend to go in many different and somewhat wild directions however as I tend to now view these events as to how they relate to the evolution and hopefully the potential ascension of our species.

I am one of those people who could be considered an “empath.”  I absorb other people’s and my own energy – often to my detriment.  I absorb it all and all the way around. In addition to weeping and grieving for victims of tragedy I also find myself wondering  about the pain of the person who everyone wants to hate. I wonder how the same God that creates our light can also create such darkness in our own kind.  I think about what it must be like to be that person who is borne with that ugliness inside of them – what that must feel like to be hated or to hate or to be the one to have THAT be your purpose and your legacy in life.  Why. When. How.  It cant feel very good to feel that way inside. Nor can it feel good to those who bore them or raised them.

Because of this I also have trouble watching the news, especially as it is often portrayed.  Too much incomprehension or sadness or fear outweighing the hopeful or funny or cheerful.   I absorb sad, bad, inhumane etc  and it affects me.  Its hard for me to sit with it or to understand it even though I know its part of the human condition.  I know I’m naïve but I have trouble with labels like “evil” because I fundamentally believe that everything derives from the same divinity. I think such labels scare us and separate us; they simplify things and keep us from asking some questions that might need to be asked to truly understand the necessity of souls such as these to be present on this planet.  I wonder what it is about this being human thing that we even need it anymore.  And why we are so transfixed by it.  Me too.

I tried really hard not to watch the Boston coverage on the first day because of this but like all of us was invariably and inexorably drawn in, especially today.

But why is it?  Why are we so drawn in?  There is always the compelling stories of community and love and our being the best that we can be that come alongside the examples of the worst that we can be as human beings. We need this and each other and that sense of community amongst such horror.   But my question is this,  at this point in our species evolution, and after proving it time and time again, through tragic event after tragic event through tragic event, do we really still need such tragedy and terror to bring forth the inherent goodness and courageousness of people?  Do we really need bad things to happen to take stock, realize, appreciate and even celebrate?  Isnt there a way we can have all this goodness emerge – and more importantly report on goodness  -without the terror or the lost lives or the lost limbs to precede it.

I had this strong sense that came over me this morning that as a country and as a planet, maybe we are coming close to the time when we actually don’t need it anymore.  That we might actually be ready to ascend to a level where love can prevail purely on its own accord.

Or maybe I’m just an idealist.  Maybe I listen to too many John Lennon songs.  And read too many spiritual books.  Call me crazy.

Yes, I had this sense – or maybe it was just a mere wish – a yearning, even a pleading to the powers that orchestrate the gyrations of this planet that we are perhaps – please God –close to an end of the era where we need anymore examples of how well we respond to hate and fear to show us how well love.  We do it well. We know we do it well.  We don’t need the tests anymore.

It made me think of Ghandi’s quote above.  I wondered could we becoming close to a time where the tyrants and murderers fall for good?  A true “New Earth”.

I know we know how to love.  And how to love well.  I read and hear stories about it all the time. Stories about entrepeneurs creating businesses,  people volunteering,  non-profits being established, about writers, inventors, artists, innovators, donors doing good, and of ordinary people sacrificing their own lives to help one another.  So why aren’t we promoting these stories on the evening news with the same fervor and intensity as we do every major tragedy?

I’m no different than anyone else.  I find myself glued to the tv and the story as it unfolds live before my eyes.  Even though I cant stand the chaos that created it.  I cry at the heartbreak of every loss of life, I feel the shock of those who were there, and I marvel at  the beauty of people coming together in common purpose for a time and how love always triumphs.   I feel every part of the human story and connectedness to it all. And that’s why I watch, why we all watch I suppose

Still I’m troubled.  I think if we create an intention to sell more good news then perhaps we can create more good news. I’d kind of like to see us showcase more of how the light of humanity glows naturally even in the absence of horror to provoke it, especially in its absence.  I even think there is a lot more of this good stuff going on minute to minute, day to day than the other.  Maybe we can figure out a way for the word “good” to have the same visceral charge that the word “evil” does.

If I were Queen for a day I would love to issue a challenge for the news media and for all of us spectators.  How about for the next day or two all  “breaking news” be about some extraordinary uplifting event that is covered with the same ubiquity as when terror strikes one of our towns.  Special reports and 24/7 coverage on every major channel.  Maybe some VIPS, politicians or even the President himself could fly to the scene of goodness and have his speech broadcast on every news station. We could hear about how people are acting courageously and generously without also having to list the names of victims and speak of the sorrow that accompanies the glory.

In fact I’d love to see a whole news channel dedicated to the good that is going on in the world.  That doesn’t mean some bad stuff might still happen or need to be reported on but just that maybe on balance we are tuned in to something that paints a different overarching picture overall.

So  I thought I should do some research to see in fact how much uplifting,  inspiring good news stories I could identify.  And I was so glad I did.  Because I found lots of sites already dedicated to the reporting of good news.  I felt like my “challenge” was already being responded to – if not yet quite on network news then at least on the internet.

I was pleased to discover a host of “good news” websites – I list some of them here…  dailygood.org; amazingnews.org; sunnyskyz.org; goodnewsnetwork.org to name a few. I urge you to check them out.  Support my Queen for a Day challenge and see if we can share and support the telling of all the good news that happens in this world every moment of every day.

And if there is anyone out there in a position to start a network or perhaps just  a “reality” tv show I challenge you too!  A New Kind of News for a New Kind of Earth…

Maybe we can even call it  — “Graceful Under Fire”…. (copyright – all rights reserved 🙂

Noticing about Noticing

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Today I want to write about “Noticing”.  Because I have been noticing          about noticing. That noticing what we think, do and say and how and why we think, do and say the things we do seems to be a pretty important step on the  spiritual path. Some will call this “awareness”.  But I think what happens first as you start to become conscious is that you start to “notice”.   Suddenly there is an awareness  and then a questioning of the same or similar reactions to the same or similar circumstances.  In my experience, it’s like there is one of me watching while the other of me is reacting.  The one watching is saying something like – “oh- isn’t that interesting… why would I do/say/think THAT?”.  She is noticing where she never noticed before.  And questioning.  She is watching but still not able to stop the one doing from having the reaction.

Not yet anyway.

One of the things I have been “noticing” these last few weeks is how irritated I have been getting about things that really have nothing to do with me.  Of course at the time I think it has everything to do with me.  But somewhere along the line my higher self knows better.

There are my usual sources of annoyance which some of you may also be familiar with  -traffic, long lines, waiting interminably (ten or fifteen minutes)  for food at a restaurant  or the epitome of annoyance creation for me – being forced to dial, then deal with, any kind of customer service organization, especially ones where I cannot understand the person on the other end of the phone.

But over these last weeks I’d been “noticing” myself reacting to some events that are beyond the usual triggers.

For example. – I always get to my yoga class super early.  I have a favorite spot and like to procure it and claim it as if I own it.  In the corner, where I can have MY space, my privacy.  These things are very important to me.  Especially when I have to reach my arms out wide in a sun salutation or in a “T” while doing a twist on the floor and I’d rather not collide with the outstreteched arms of the person next to me.   But in general I just like my personal space.  Its just a pet peeve of mine.  I realize I may be more sensitive than most when it comes to this need and that is precisely why I get there early so I can get this space.  MY space.

As the room starts to fill up I can feel myself slowly become more and more anxious.  Now I’m in yoga class mind you.  Part of the experience is supposed to be about finding peace and love and acceptance most of all.  To reduce not enhance anxiety.  So not only am I  feeling a growing, gnawing anxiety about the increasingly crowded room,  I’m also starting to feel a good measure of guilt about it as well as at my egoic and selfish need for my space in what’s supposed to an environment of “oneness”.

A few minutes before class starts is when my level of irritation starts to really take hold.  I can feel the unease rising in my body.  I’m quietly but fervently trying to guard the precious little space left beside me.  Trying not to make it too obvious since that would be very un-yogi like, I use every ounce of silent, energetic power I have to place dominion over my precious space.  I pray, I beg, I whine under my breath.  I direct my thoughts to the space claiming it to be mine.  Reserving it with my energy..  Hoping those coming in the room will pick up on the vibration that reads  “Reserved for Shari.”

The door closes and we are about ready to start meditation.  By this time I have already used up a considerable amount of energy and invested some time in trying to protect my space.  It’s the prescribed starting time for class and I can see outside the studio window that there are still MORE people coming in!!!  My irritation level climbs to beyond what I can humanly control,  like a fever that shoots up uncontrollably leaving you shaken and delirious.    Don’t they know class is already started?  I know all are welcome at yoga but this is the West – what about our Western culture’s sacred respect for being on time?   Or what about not distracting meditation—so if this is an Eastern spiritual practice, isnt there something in the Eastern culture’s notion about respect about that??

But it seems that neither version of respect matters right now. People are still trickling in and we’re still supposed to close our eyes and breathe and go inward while they do.  I really want to go inward.  Ive been looking forward to this all day.  But I can’t while there is still all this outward disturbance.  Another pet peeve.  Am I the only one feeling this??

This is the point where I do start to take it personally.  It goes something like this inside of me:

 I’ve succeeded!.  I’ve managed to keep a few inches of precious space clear next to me.  And class officially started! And so did meditation!   I breathe a quiet sigh of relief.  Only one tiny little space left – aha – next to me!  Phew!!!!   The begging and the whining worked.   I can relax.  I can meditate.  Aaaaah….

Or so I thought.  So when the next person walks in late – and after meditation has already started no less – and I know the only little space left is the one next to me in the far corner of the room where I have been silently praying;  while the teacher says “welcome” in that warm and inviting way that all yoga teachers say “welcome” (even to people that are late to class) I am taken over by my lowest of  lower self.  The fever is at 106.  I’m no longer in control.  I open one of my closed meditative eyes, peek through it, see that no one else seems to be disturbed,  and nevertheless, find myself giving  that person who came in late and is threatening to take my space a very self-righteous evil eye!  Yes. I admit it. I do.  I tried the quiet begging. It didn’t work.  So what choice do I have??   I’m thinking the glare of my evil eye will help them see the light.  At the same time, I’m also “noticing” how personally I’m taking this.   As if that person has been plotting all day to orchestrate their arrival in class just to annoy me.  Because, you know – they really have nothing better to do.

And anyway my evil eye isn’t that evil or effective anyway.  “Plop” goes the mat right next to me.  Five minutes late and all.  Despite my best and all out efforts.  The Universe is obviously out to get me.

Now if this ain’t “ego”, I don’t know what is.

I guess we all have one.  Even me.  They remind us they are here all the time.

It doesn’t end there however.

In my parking garage later that day there is a car parked across from my spot that is clearly marked “NO PARKING ANY TIME”.  It’s the umpteenth time they are parked there.  Their license plate says “MK HOME” – as if to rub it in.  I’m appalled at this car owner’s lack of rule following.  Such injustice!  Another example.  I would never do that.  So why should/can they?   Obviously personal.  Yet again.  It’s starting to feel like a conspiracy.

And then to top it off,  there is a daily, almost hourly, incessant stomping /running/ bowling(?)/ I’m not sure what it is noise coming from the three year old  that lives above me.  Like clockwork – 8 a.m, noon, 6 p.m..  BANG BANG BANG.   Now you may be thinking my other two illustrations are just examples of me overreacting or over –personalizing. Even I eventually question myself.   But come on– this one is definitely directed toward me.  BANG BANG right above my head.  They know I live here.  What  nerve!   That three year old was clearly , deliberately placed there just to annoy me!  What else could it be?    This is SO about me!

By now, I’m exhausted.  I got nothing left.  The conspiracy against me is winning.

Just when I think I cant take anymore I am rescued.  Thank heaven for Eckhart Tolle whose New Earth podcast I’ve been listening to – again.  And I was reminded, it’s not personal.  Not any of it. It just “is”. My ego thinks it’s personal because it likes to feel that special, because egos are well– personal.    I could make a different choice. Surrender.  Surrender is not giving in or giving up.  Its just acceptance. It actually gives me power; it doesn’t take it from it me.  And in so doing I can see that there is no conspiracy at all and that nothing or no one is actually doing anything to me.  Its all my choice in how to view it, or resist it or not.

I have a moment of consciousness.  I take a very small, incremental step toward spiritual awakening by realizing everyone else is not thinking about or out to get  me.  None of this is proof of that.  In fact, most likely, everyone else’s own egos are too worried about themselves and all the traffic and long lines etc out to get them to be that concerned about me.  All our egos bumping into each other.

Until we take a step back for one small, sweet moment and just – notice….

Love Among the Ruckus – Jewish Mother style

mzl.ngtptsrk.320x480-75I recently visited my parents in Boynton Beach Florida.  One of the reasons I was excited to go there is I knew without a doubt it would give me some good material for this blog.  For those of you with New York Jewish parents -or any East Coast Jewish parents – living in Florida, you know what I mean.

The Jewish mother/grandmother archetype, is becoming more and more of a rarity and in danger of extinction I think. There are those of us in mine and succeeding generations that are Jewish by birth (and may even practice – I don’t) –and who are also mothers as well.  But I’m not so sure those two words – “Jewish” and “mother” go together nowadays ” in the same way they have in the past to create what many know to be, and what countless movies and tv shows and comedians depict as the stereotypical protoype of the  classic  “Jewish mother – or that they ever could.  Different times create different archetypes, I think.  My grandmother and great aunts were classic, living in tenements in New York and hanging out windows to watch over their collective brood, ministering to their husbands, clear in their roles as cook and caretaker and worriers and hand wringers extraordinaire. Worry was considered holy in our family and something to be taught and learn.  It was/is a sign of love.  And no one could do it better than my grandmother could.

Family get-togethers were a loud and running commentary on politics, other people, other people’s kids,  food and mostly what was wrong with all of them. The word should could not be overused.    In fact it seemed it was our birthright to determine what was right for everyone else and what they should do, how they should act and more so what they shouldn’t be doing and how we knew better and never would do the thing that we determined they shouldn’t be.   We were not taught that interrupting was rude.  In fact not much was considered  “rude” – except when other people did it of course.  Talking over one another was the norm, almost somewhat expected.  Like a sign of affection and comfort that we didn’t need to put on airs. Loudness was necessary and did not seem to bother anyone. Except me sometimes and my brother maybe.   I was an extremely shy kid and me and my brother were often the only children, so we generally said nothing. There wasn’t’ much opening anyway for someone smaller and with a softer voice who hadn’t acquired such opinions or the ability to speak them louder than people much bigger and louder than they were.

Beyond the “kvetching”,  I did learn a lot however about other things –most notably about politics – it being a prominent topic of discussion. Even when I thought I wasn’t really listening or fully able to comprehend,  somehow, beliefs about concepts of social and governmental responsibility and lingering New Deal ideals about the role of government in caring for the old and the infirmed and the otherwise disadvantaged were getting programmed in. Please understand, no one was wanting any free rides or to rely on anyone else.   These were hard working, extremely proud working class people taking responsibility for themselves and their families.  Some had really struggled through the Depression and survived.  But their strident sense of personal responsibility was balanced with a recognition that we were all part of a larger community and it seems to me now  -if my adult recognition of childhood interpretations serve me correctly — that there was a fervent, unquestionable belief that it really was part of government ‘s job to help people – that they were almost like a partner, a part of our larger family, our ultimate patriarch and caretaker.

But here’s the bottom line. In those rooms, in those apartments, in those tenement buildings where we gathered to “kvetch” and share and talk politics and gossip and where the smells of homemade soup and brisket (overdone) and chocolate cake and mothballs and that distinct grandma’s apartment smell enveloped us in our gathering,  there was love amongst the ruckus. In fact the ruckus was love. There was lots of it.  The Jewish version.  And the Jewish mothers were the guardians of it all, the non-designated stewards shepherding their Jewish mother version of love.   The only way they knew how, having been taught by their own mothers and grandmothers who came over on crowded boats for promises of a better and freer life.   I was the youngest of the three generations deep of women in those tiny kitchens where we pretended to  wash and dry dishes but really were passing stories and love through the generations.

My  own Jewish mother and her counterparts were evolved from the steroetype of my grandma’s generation.  They were  marginally influenced by the emerging women’s movement.  Some of them did work mostly as secretaries (as my mother did in a junior high) or in part-time jobs.  They learned to drive.  A few of them even got divorced. They went to “beauty parlors” on Saturday and many expressed their personality and sophistication through their fashion sense.  But, to me at least they still had that distinctly Jewish mother stamp.  Jewish women are not wimps by any mean. They have no problem telling you what they think or feel.  No repressed feelings here.  Inability to express ourselves is not our issue even if its done in that less than overt – shall I say – um- even passive aggressive way that lets one know how we feel by somehow making it their fault! I think thats what they call “guilt”?   How do Jewish mothers do that???  I recently saw a Piers Morgan interview with Barbara Streisand about her recent movie “Guilt Trip”.  He remarks to Ms. Streisand about her role as Jewish mother to a grown son and comments on a scene where she is asking him a bunch of questions.  Piers Morgan notes how she asks questions that are not really questions to her son but rather fairly biting comments that never require or get an answer from her son.  “How do you do that?”  he says to her somewhat puzzled and confounded –  “And by the time you are done he is obliterated!”   They both laugh.  I laughed too knowing exactly what he meant and what she was doing.  “I don’t know” replies Ms. Streisand.  “It’s just in my DNA”.

So the original intention for this blog was going to be a story from my trip to Florida about my parent’s broken printer and the uncanny way it came to be fixed and what I learned.  I knew I would have “stories” from my Florida visit with parents for this blog. It was a foregone conclusion.  I was looking for something funny with a lesson of course.  But instead a bigger “story” came out.  The one about my culture, the one I grew up with, the one I knew – and I guess – a little bit about my own “DNA”.  Who knew??  Even though I’m not quite the same as my grandmother, or my mother and have the imprint of a different generation. Even though I am not hanging out windows to check up on my children, I check on them and  “follow” them  by “friending” them and “texting” them – my windows to their world. And even though my children are only partly Jewish (by birth, not religion)  and I don’t practice Judasim as a religion or spiritual practice– I  guess I am after all still a “Jewish mother” and I suppose then that maybe they still do exist to some extent.  I care, I worry, I “kvetch”, I love sometimes with some overprotection, and okay- sometime I produce a small amount of guilt, but just a small amount….  And I say “Oy” a lot.  It expresses what no other word can for so many situations.  I’m a Jewish mother, always will be.  From a long line of them before me.  Its just in my DNA.

Loving “Being” Love

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 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not       have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”          

                                                           Corinthians 

I have heard more than one person say lately that it’s  the “who” that you are “being” , not the “what” that you are “doing” that creates the results you get. This is true whether its at work, in life or  -I think – mostly in love.

In the world of HR and OD that I have been in and still frequent, I often hear references to the distinctions between “being” versus “doing” and how they relate to the difference in the kinds of results each produces or the kinds of results that are produced  one without the other.  The teachers and believers of authentic leadership development – of which I am one- understand that who we are being is what we ultimately create. It stands to reason then, that the higher level of consciousness we choose to operate from, then the higher level of outcome we create.

Yet, this seemingly basic understanding still eludes so many of us.  We so easily slip into using anger, or fear, or controlling, or competitiveness or whatever the corporate or social culture has programmed us to use to get what we seek.  And then we wonder why at this level of “being” we wind up creating more of the same.  Not getting what we say we want. Or not as powerful as it could have been. Sometimes, maybe it looks like we did, but upon closer inspection there is usually a cost.  And not a pretty one.  Bruised egos. Burn out. Lack of purpose. Hurt feelings. Drudgery.  Betrayal. Ethical transgressions.  Or, if not now, somewhere down the road the price gets paid.  Numbers and bottom lines, and material manifestations are not the only indicators of our success nor the most important ones.  Sometimes they even mask a deeper truth. Or cause us to be misguided in the quest to achieve them.

I started to think about this concept and how it related to my own life apart from work.  In February, I made a choice to marry a man that lives 3000 miles away.  For a number of reasons neither of us were able to move across the country at this time in our life.  But we made the decision to marry anyway.  Many people have asked me why we would do that?  I don’t know that I have always had a good answer.  But the true answer is we got married for love.  And we put our faith in the knowing that our love would show us the way. Plain and simple.

Soon after we married, we decided as man and wife we “should” “figure out” how to live together and that it needed to happen soon.  Mostly me since I was the one telling myself that I HAD to make decisions about employment and mortgage expenses and health challenges and HAD to have a PLAN lest my life crumble before my eyes.  He was already retired and still had children living at home so there was less for him to “settle”.  Or so I told myself perhaps not wanting to admit to some neuroses and need to control on my part.  (Who me?)

In the ensuing months we struggled, fought, withdrew, pursued, pushed, blamed and created a tsunami strength’s level of frustration over trying to “figure out” how to be together.  At least I did. Suddenly we looked up and we saw that tsunami’s commanding wave of energy heading right our way determined to decimate the energy of love and faith that had brought us together. However, the build up of this energy, bent on destroying us and destroying Love itself, was not created by some supernatural force of an earthquake out at sea, but by one we ourselves created in our own backyard.

Having been reminded about the notion that who we are “being” is what creates the results of our life, I started to look at who I was “being” in my relationship with this man that I love to create the very opposite of what I set out to.  I realized I had been so attached to  “outcomes” and controlling them through any means possible, that I forgot about how to “be”.  Be what?  Why, be “Love” of course.  Maybe I just never learned how.  I started to feel myself shift in the understanding that detaching from the “outcome” is really the only way to any outcome, if there ever really are any “outcomes” at all since I’m beginning to think more and more that all there is, is constant evolution.

In the wake and retreat of the tsunami a new reality appeared.  I don’t have to have all the answers or maybe any answers at all. ( I don’t? ) And it doesn’t have to “look” a certain way one way or the other. ( It doesn’t? .)   Nothing has to be “figured out”.  There are no “shoulds”.  The only template I need to follow is what my heart, my soul, my intuition and the Universe tells me.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  No one. After receiving their guidance is the best time to then use this beautiful machine that is my mind to carry out their wishes. In so doing, I use it instead of it using me.

And if in this process I choose to “be” Love instead of anger, fear,  jealousy and blame then guess what –  that is exactly what I can expect to create!

It really is THAT simple.

For a long time I think I measured how much love there was in my life by how much of it I was getting. And often in my quest to “get it”, sometimes somewhat desperately, my way of “being” has been arguably not so pleasant to others and/or self-deprecating to myself.  I’m seeing more and more that love is not about what we “get” – at all.  It is only about what we give and how we give of ourselves.  And, in doing so, I’m pretty sure that we can’t help but receive Love too.  Its impossible not to.

I don’t know why it takes 54 years to learn this.  It’s a truth that we are born knowing then unlearn somehow.  But, I think I AM learning.  Learning how to “be”.  Mostly, learning how to “be” when loving another human being, especially one that is a partner in life and love, but also with my children, my parents, my friends, the check out person at the grocery store.  And yes, even at work. Maybe mostly at work.  Coming from LOVE does not undermine the bottom line.  It enhances it.

I’m not perfect at this “being love” thing yet by any means – I’m sure my husband, children, friend and  parents would vouch for that.  But I am awake.  And learning about  and loving  “Being Love”

Graceful Under Fire

candlelightI named this blog “Graceful Under Fire” about two weeks ago.  Little did I know that if ever there were a time to be that it would be now.

I’ll make this one short.  And serious. Here’s what I think at 3:37 a.m the night after our children were massacred.  The night after this happened something like 15 times this year.  The night after “its one too many” (please God), and  the night after this time it really, really is  “WAY too young and innocent”, too much for us to bear anymore.

I think we need to be careful.  We need to be outraged. But we need to be careful.  We can and should feel anger but we need to be careful.  We need to be shocked and also to grieve.  We definitely should be disgusted and sad.  What do we do with all this anger?  Punch a pillow, shake your fist at the sky, at God, or whatever.  Its important to allow our feelings first.  Then allow it to be transmuted to love.  And do I dare say, even for the guy who shot them.  Because if he had felt any kind of love or connection, there is absolutely no way in the world that he could have done what he did.  Love is the antedote and the cure.  Love is the way out of hopelessness and despair.  I listened as newspeople labeled him a “monster” and a “madman” and it made me wonder how many times he might have been called one or felt like one in his life, until he just reflected back what he felt inside.

It’s incomprehensible to us that one of our own species can do the unimaginable because as humans we know we never, ever could.  And so we can only make sense of it by calling him names that dehumanize him.  It just doesn’t seem like humans should have the capacity to do this.  Because we are human and that is not like us.   Yet we know we do.  History shows us this. The current times shows us this.  Then again, perhaps he was just plain “sick” or maybe even evil.

And so, in either case or whatever the case –  beyond turning our rage into love – for God’s sake,  let’s do something in this country about the guns and the mentality that goes with it.  So when there are people who have lost their way in this way they cant get their hands on one.  So our culture stops viewing violence as an ok way to solve problems,  So we can stop feeling like we have to be so defended all the time.   So we don’t lose one more child to the actions of a child already lost.  And so maybe, just maybe, we can actually keep a child from becoming lost.

12/12/12 – Waiting for the Download

12.12.12Its 12/12/12.  Today is the day.  Its finally here.  End of the beginning.  Beginning of the new.  Day of “Ascension”.   The gateway for the transformation of human consciousness from fear to love.  It seems like it should be a big day.  Like a holiday.  Like stores should be closed or at least having a sale… or it should be a day off of work,  and celebrations should be rampant. Like New Years or something.  I don’t get it.  Where is all the hoopla? Why don’t more people get this??

I wasn’t sure I got it either but realized a few days ago it was almost here.  Not one to like surprises,  I thought if something cataclysmic was about to go down I better get more informed.  That would give me time to prepare.

So I researched.  Thank God for the internet because it makes research so accessible.  I learned about the crystalline grid and the Mayan calendar and Ascension and the symptoms that go along with Ascension.

That’s a story for another day but all I can tell you is every weird symptom that I have had in the last three years that no doctor can explain and that I have been chalking up to my Lyme disease (or something like that) was described in the list of Ascension symptoms.  To include – funny hearing, burning/vibrating/tingling body sensations,  shimmering vision, imbalance and fuzzy thinking.

Then there’s the non-physical strangeness like lights flickering when I walk by them and tvs turning on spontaneously in the middle of the night.  I learned that maybe this was just a bunch of energy shifting in my body as I “ascend” from one level of consciousness to another.  Akin to a radio tuning into a different frequency.

My system is literally “rebooting” – or so that’s what my “research” said.  I’m sure my doctors would not like this explanation and would think it hazardous to my health.  But it gave me an odd sense of peace.  Thinking of my body like an energy field in motion with some disruption but all for a good cause.  I can live with that a lot easier than Lyme disease (groan…ugh)

Anyway the other thing I learned from my research was that during this period between 12/12 (the gateway) and 12/21 (the threshold) to this new age,  a lot of important information was going to be transmitted.  Its not something you are going to get on the evening news however.  There isnt going to be any big Presidential announcement.  And I don’t even think God is going to appear with something like the Ten Commandments – but you never know—and that’s probably a little closer to the kind of means of transmission that’s going to occur.

No it will just come through somehow if one is ready, is listening and has clear enough channels to receive it.  I have no idea if I am one of these “beings”.  I do know that I have been having lots of symptoms that would suggest I’m headed in that direction however. But on the other hand,  I havent been so good at “raising my vibration” in other ways – although I try with some yoga here and some meditation there and eating some healthy high vibrational foods along with my wine and coconut ice cream.

But honestly, I just havent made it my focus.

Nevertheless, once I became aware of it,  I found myself really wanting to get this “download” from the cosmos or wherever its coming from.  I kind of thought it might have something really important to say and I didn’t want to miss out since 12/12/12 only comes around once every hundred years and I wont be here for the next one and Im pretty sure 2012 is a once in a lifetime, millenium kind of occurrence.

Mayan calendars dont begin and end but once – ever- I think???  I kinda wished I had been preparing sooner  for it but it just didn’t seem to have the same sense of urgency as it does today.  So I got my favorite leather bound journal out with pen and got ready to transcribe because I heard that when it comes our mind wont be able to contain it.  So here I am, “Waiting for the Download.”  I’m not quite sure how one does that but if there is a procedure and I’m supposed to receive it I’m sure I will know or be guided in some way right?

So that’s what I am doing today.  Waiting.

And in my doing so, I can tell you this.  I’m not sure if it comes from the “download” or not.  But here’s what I’m thinking.

We are all connected.

We are all magnificent beings.

We are all like colors of the rainbow – made of different colors and shades all creating its beauty, none it good or bad, right or wrong.

We all deserve to be loved.

Love is where its at and love is all you need.

And beyond that its all just an adventure that can be a lot of fun if you let it and look at it that way.

Maybe it didn’t need to be 12/12/12 to know that.  Or maybe the download is already uploaded and always has been.  Its just a matter of playing the program. Either way, while I’m “waiting” one thing I don’t have to wait for is this  — in a word just to be LOVE.

With that, I think download (or not) – complete.

A Time to Pause

My 24 year old daughter is a second year choir director and music educator at a small, rural middle and highschool in Southwest Virginia.   During the same time I was attending a workshop on neuroscience and coaching last week, talking about and personally experiencing transformation, three young students at her school also experienced their own version of it.

In two separate car accidents over three days, this life of theirs on the  Earth plane ended.

This was not the first time senseless, incomprehensible tragedy struck so close to my daughter’s heart.  On April 16 2007 as a freshman at Virginia Tech she was eerily close to the massacre that occurred there.  She was one floor above the room where two people were killed in the dorm;  she lost two dear friends she knew from her high school; and she (and her friends she lost) also attended the same school as the boy who was responsible for all of it.

Yesterday when I spoke with her, she said she felt she was right back there at April 16.  Her usual effervescent demeanor had diminished to something beyond sad;  She sounded numb.  Like she had just received a shot of anesthesia to her soul.   Perhaps having reached a sort of “tipping point “ in the compounding of young lives lost close to her and her ability to process all of it.  The emotions become so overwhelming that is becomes hard to know what to feel or how to feel it.

This time she is one of the “adults” in a position of stewardship over children’s broken and bewildered hearts while unsure how or even if she should make room to tend to her own.

I read once that from a spiritual viewpoint it is a fallacy to say that people’s lives are “cut short” when they die so young. That from this point of view we all are really only here a short time in relative terms anyway, that each of our souls have come to do its work in whatever time its here, and that our life is fully lived for this lifetime no matter how long we inhabit our physical form.  In this regard, “time” is really irrelevant.

Yet, even if we buy into this notion and understand our true nature as spiritual beings,  we are still having a human experience. In that experience it is so hard to comprehend the death of a young person that seems so random and to us as humans – so senseless.

I have wondered if the purpose of these souls who come to Earth and leave soon after is simply to remind us.  Without them, we would forget.  Or we would just not have the context, the alternative view,  to understand whats really important.  We would forget-  that all there is really-  is love; that we are all community and family and need each other;  that we are more alike than not; and that when there is loss we feel and we feel deeply.  And in doing so, we see in each other what is inside of us.  Without this “reminder” , the vortex of chores, and petty gossip, and worrying, and comparing and competing with one another would sweep us away into an illusion that this is what life is and all its about.  We would not have a reason to PAUSE…..  And it is in this space – this pause – that we sometimes, often, more often than not – create something from loss that has a countervailing gain that would not have been created otherwise.

So I do not think it is any coincidence that it is during Thanksgiving week that this tragic loss has occurred.  It is the quintessential timing to PAUSE.    Time to pause and let these souls that have passed on in this way serve to remind us about GRATITUDE.  I mean the kind of gratitude that we need to PAUSE to take notice of.  Gratitude for the sheer privilege of having the experience of being alive and of the gift of Life itself.  Of knowing what a sun looks like to rise and set and for my eyes to have the ability to reflect the beauty of the purples and blues and orange that paints the sky when it does.  Of being able to bear witness to the changing phases of the moon – each phase with a beauty and mystery all its own.  Of watching the cycle of a leaf turn, then die, then be reborn again.  Of knowing what the cool grass feels like under my feet.  Of knowing what the sky looks like in its clear blue purity and then when its being rearranged by puffy clouds and in other times when it mother nature feels more dark and stormy, I get to see that too.  Gratitude.  For my heart that beats and knows how to love and how to cry, for my brain that thinks and creates and for the “Programmer” that has programmed it to perform the miracle it does.  Gratitude for a human spirit that brings me to my knees in awe –  in the knowing of the resilience of that spirit, in its oneness,  and its ability to make meaning out of what in the moment seems senseless and beyond repair.

When we pause….  like this…..    sorrow can be transmuted joy, to the kind of joy that still honors and celebrates the preciousness of these three lives and the meaning they can give to ours and that allows us our sadness and pain to co-exist alongside our reverence.  In doing so, I think it helps to make it seem less senseless.  I thankful to these three souls for teaching me this, reminding me and mostly – for making me PAUSE….

Im Afraid Not to Worry

Dwelling on the past, anticipating and worrying about the future. Sound familiar?  What good does it do since all we have is now?  All it does is lead to anxiety, stress, maybe even physical and emotional disease and distress and keeps us from experiencing our joy.

Seems to make sense.  Especially from a spiritual viewpoint.

Yet,  one of the most daunting “challenges” I find myself facing on my spiritual journey is that of overcoming WORRYING, and not just not worrying butobsessive worrying

When it comes to “worry”, every spiritual teacher I’ve “consulted” says basically “don’t do it”.  More than that, there’s just no reason to do it. It’s useless, doesn’t change anything and is wasteful, negative energy.
It seems you cant be a spiritual person and worry at the same time

Now there are lots of things I’m learning about being on this spiritual path that I “get”.  I understand it intellectually and believe it to my core but often am challenged to integrate these into my operating system.

But of all of these, the one that is the hardest for me to absorb or agree with is why I shouldn’t worry or how not to worry.  I’m just not sure that I agree that worrying doesn’t have any positive outcomes AT ALL and that is a complete waste of time and energy.  Even more than that, given my observations of cause and effect, I have gotten to the point where I actually am afraid NOT to worry.

I know this sounds like spiritual blasphemy and contrary to all Universal Laws of Nature.  And even though Ive got plenty of anxiety and neuroses to support my need to worry, I dont justify it on those grounds even though I do it on those grounds.  Not at all. The reason I’m afraid not to worry is because I haveproof that when you do, it helps.

I bet this is true for you too.  Whenever I have worried the thing that I worried about happening doesn’t.  Therfore, it just seems to risky to take the chance not to.

Eckhart Tolle – one of my favorite authors of spiritual enlightenment says you dont need to “worry” about paying your bills.  You just have to pay them.  I guess thats true.  But I’m not so sure that worrying about paying them doesnt create the impetus necessary to actually pay them! I have gotten to the point of believing in the “power of positive worrying” ( an alternate version to the power of positive thinking) so much that I’m even worried about writing about worry – am I committing heresy by suggesting that worry might be okay in the writing of a blog that purports to promote the tenets of spirituality – love not fear, peace, faith, gratitude, and that thoughts have energy???  YIKES!!! I’m getting worried right now just writing about worrying about this.

Okay, okay – so I can see how this kind of worrying can start to get out of control, and take hold of you and create stories in your head and be energy draining and life limiting.  But I still have the “evidence”.

What Would Eckhart Tolle do?  On this one, I know what he thinks.  And I already know Ive punched some holes in his theory (HA!).  I wanted to consult with the real guru– my mother.  Now my mother will tell you that I exaggerate her “worrisomeness” but I can also tell you that she has been one of the staunchest defenders and best examples.

So I interviewed her to get her perspective.

Here is what I learned

Basically, there are two types of worry

Worry Type #1 –  “Handwringing” – Handwringing is fretting about things you cannot control unless you stay home or plan to arrive three hours early to wherever you are going “just in case”  (which I often do).  To those who suffer (and you know who you are)it is like having a plantars wart in your head that wont go away.  Even I would have to say, it probably doesnt do much good except to drive you and anyone within earshot of you crazy.

Manifestations of this kind of worry look like:  worrying about whether the bill I just put in the mail will get paid in time even though I sent it three weeks early; whether there will be a tsunami that will hit – you know because there is like a one in a trillion chance it could – on the I-81 corridor when I have to drive to see my kids next weekend; whether my boss, relative, friend is mad at me or thinks I’m foolish or stupid because they gave me this funny look that I just know was directed at me and was because of something I did or said or didnt do or didnt say- I just dont know what it was but if i think hard enough maybe I can drum up something — its just not possible that something could be going on with them ( or their boss, relative etc) or maybe that it was just not a “look” at all.

I mean, is it really necessary to worry about the left turn I have to make ten miles down the road just quite yet, especially when I have a GPS (or two) and looked at the map first?  Or to think about whether my tv, internet will still be working and my house still standing everytime I return from a trip?  ( and of this latest writing having written the former sentence over a month ago – just to prove a point — I returned from almost a month away on Christmas Day to find my condo had water damage from three stories above.  I WASN’T worried about it- and see what happened!)

I think even I could be convinced that maybe this kind of worry isnt the reason the tsunami didn’t happen and probably wouldn’t have happened even if I didnt worry.   My rational mind “gets” it.  Im just still not so sure my visceral mind can’t stop taking some comfort in it anyway. But thats why I’m on the path.

Worry Type #2 – Mother Worry

What I learned from my mother – and from being a mother – is this – there’s another kind.

its about the “intention” thats behind the worry. And thats not so neurotic or crazy but maybe just a sign of something else.

my mother worries because she loves me
my mother worries because she cares
my mother worries because she wants me to be safe
and she wants me to be happy

like on one else on Earth wants me to be happy.

I worry for the same reasons about my kids.

Eckhart wouldnt know this. Oprah wouldn’t know this because they are not a parent.

Worry is part of the way a mother (or father)loves.  Its like “chicken soup” – it can’t hurt and it just might help. Its a little extra insurance. And your kids get to know someone cares.  And knowing thats the case, not only am I afraid not to worry, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sorry kids.

As my mother (and her mother and her mother’s mother) said “just wait- someday you will understand… (especially when they start driving.)”….