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!

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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!

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.

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.

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….