Thursday, August 30, 2012

Which month of your life are you in?

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer them.” --Zora Neale Hurston

If I divided the stages of my life into months of the year, then well into May I was asking when and why questions: when will I be old enough to walk to school by myself, get an allowance, wear a bra, drive a car, babysit, get a job, support myself, and why don’t they like me, why doesn’t he like me, why did he leave me, is he the one, should I marry him? Through August I asked about changing careers, going back to school, wondered if I would survive my children. By then the leaves were falling, the air turned crisp with a whiff of rain and it was mid September. What will I be when I grow up? What do I want to do now that I’m retired from my second career? What will it take for me to be satisfied? And if not now,  when? 

I think it might have been October when the answers came flooding in. Doris Mortman whispered in my ear, “Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with with what you have.” “Perhaps loving something is the only starting place there is for making your life your own,” advised Alice Koller, only I’m sure I heard “loving yourself.” It took me until the third week in October to start loving myself enough to be satisfied with my answers.

Now it’s November already. Somewhere along the way, I stopped asking so many questions. Even my parents in their graves are sighing about that. I wish I could tell them I’m loving myself enough to flower as a writer and artist. Love, gratitude, and major time spent taking care of my body are my answers as I look toward December. 

Baruch ata adonai thank you for all the hand holding and for understanding my words through my tears. Did you always know I’d turn out OK? You did, didn’t you! Amen

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cleaning the Closets of Our True Essence

Do you ever, finally, take everything out of your refrigerator, wash down the shelves, get rid of the bits of saved and now blue food, use a toothpick to clean out the crud along that seam at the bottom under the door opening, put in a box baking soda and hope it’s true that it will absorb the stink you may not get to cleaning out for awhile, and then open the door several times that day just to appreciate how clean and fresh it is? 

The major task of the month of Elul is tesuvah, which is a lot like cleaning out the closets of my true essence. It’s a time to reach in to examine how I may have harmed myself and others either on purpose or by neglect or harmful speech. Above all it’s a time of forgiveness, of letting go of the past and the way it limits me. Elul is the time to complete unfinished business, to make myself ready to be open to the blessings of the new year. 

Once I begin, it seems there are a lot of fingers pointing to the path I need to take. Yesterday I was listening to an audio I subscribe to called Intentional Rest. This one had to do with the limiting and unhealthy stories we tell ourselves, and one of mine popped right up. We all make up stories all the time, and this is one I need to stop telling myself. I wonder how easily I’ll be willing to let it go. I’ll be working on it during Elul. 

Baurch ata adonai help me catch the untrue story I’ve been telling myself and make it less strong. It might be easy for me to forget to do this. Who wants to keep cleaning out crud. It will be a great birthday present for me to give myself. Please remind me and hold my hand as I become brave and bold. Thank you. Amen

Monday, August 27, 2012

Just Now My Life is an Empty Jar

“A new year approaches: it is an empty jar. How I fill it up is up to me. Elul is the deep breath needed to get clear about what rocks fill up my jar, and promise to put them in first.”  Rabbi Laura Geller

My birthday approaches. This year I will be three years younger than my mother when she died and three years younger than her mother when she died. My birthday always coincides with the Jewish holiday that requires deep personal evaluation and the commitment to behave differently. Sometimes when I review the past year I feel stuck, full of regrets, broken. Last year I put two big rocks in my jar, rocks of creativity and connection, and this month of Elul, as I approach the Jewish holidays, I am in a much happier, satisfying and healed place than I was the year before. What do I need to put into my jar this year? 

What do you need to get clear about? What rocks do you need to put in your jar first? 

Baruch ata adonai I look forward to and welcome this time of year as I yearn and learn to be closer to you and to my true self. Be with me as I begin again on this journey of reflection and return. Let me not be smug and say, “I’m doing great just where I am. Wouldn't it be okay if I just stay here awhile and enjoy myself?” Probably not. Help me to do the work I need to do. Amen

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gratitude for All that Shows Up Today

“Thank God for what doesn’t need healing. --Joan Borysenko

Baruch ata adonai, today may I open my heart and my eyes. May I notice what doesn’t need healing, fixing, or praying about. May I notice five new things without knowing or understanding them completely. Today may I notice what shows up for me to learn in a new way. Amen

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Magic Key to Happiness

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, The whole world belongs to you.”
__Lao Tzu

A year a go, sitting in the afternoon Yom Kippur service, a friend and I agreed to send each other a nightly email limited to three short phrases, three things we were grateful for that day. We offered no background or explanations or responses and for long periods of time we only connected in this way. There were nights she could only express gratitude for her dog who cheered her up in the darkest moments. I was particularly prone to being thankful for Trader Joe’s and for the internet during mine. Now a year later, through the prism of gratitude and holding each other accountable for reporting each night, we are each happier and more confident than we were last year. 

Find a friend, exchange gratitudes. It is a magic key.

Baruch ata adonai I’m grateful for compassionate friends. I’m grateful for understanding the two most important prayer words are please and thank you. And thank you for Trader Joe’s and the internet too. Amen

Monday, August 20, 2012

Power Unleashed

“An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress...” 
W.B.Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium

This year I’ve let flow a passion I didn’t know I had. I began the year painting in Mexico and have followed art around corners and up hills, as it leapt over canyons and was carried by driving winds. I began writing again and deep inside the juicy fluids of life ebb and flow and a loving parent nods and cheers me on. 

Baruch ata adonai thank you for this year of art. Help me to believe in myself and know that age isn’t an obstacle but a time for the expression of truth and power unleashed. Amen

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Put Feet to Your Dreams

“Mom said dreaming was important and dreaming big was what set people apart. But Mom said there was a catch: ‘Dreams need feet, Peter. They’re not worth much stuck between your ears.’ Put feet on your dreams.” 
S. Peter Lewis, The Treehouse Chronicles. 

Every year about this time in the run up to the Jewish holidays, I begin to evaluate where I’ve been this past year and what I want to do and who and how I want to be in the coming year. It’s a process that culminates in the last of the holidays a month or so from now when I ask myself some really hard questions. This last year has been one of putting my feet into creating art. Is that what I want to continue to do? If I dream other impossible dreams, what might I come up with? 

Baruch ata adonai be with me during this time. Guide me in thoughtfulness. Help me to be friendly to my aging mind and body. Remind me I’m always capable of more than I think I am. Ground me in knowing what is really important. Amen

Friday, August 10, 2012

Preview Your Coming Attractions.

"Imagination is...the preview of life's coming attractions." 
Albert Einstein

Years ago after a two year certification program, I added Guided Imagery to my Marriage and Family Therapy Practice. I loved doing this work and so did my clients. The basic process was to vividly imagine yourself in a place of personal peace and safety, for me it was always someplace near Silver Lake, and then to listen for someone or something who wanted to talk with you who was called your inner advisor. I can still remember my first exposure to this new therapy in a large hotel room with hundreds of people and the conversation I had with my father later that day and other profound changes I made after using this process which ultimately led me to leave the therapy profession. 

Baruch ata adonai in reading this quote I feel reconnected with an old friend who smiles at me in the most loving and confident way and reminds me of my limitless possibilities. Thank you. Amen

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Taking Form With Every Breath

“What would it be like if you lived each day, each breath, as a work of art in progress? Imagine that  you are  masterpiece unfolding every second of every day, a work of art taking form with every breath.”
Thomas Crum, from

What would it mean for  me to live as a work in progress today? My back is stiff from too much pilates or yoga, but I have a class today. I’ll do what I can. I am a masterpiece unfolding every second of every, that puts a lot of pressure on me. A masterpiece. I look at myself as if on an easel. Oh, you look a little tired there, dear. Please be gentle with yourself today. Would you be willing to smile a bit more, laugh a little at yourself? There, you’ve got it. I’ll put a lovely blue dot in your eyes. Perhaps if I place a bit of red in your cheeks...there. Look now. It’s early still. Breathe some life into yourself. Unfold gently. You’ve got all day. 

Baruch ata adonai, I feel much more gentle with myself at this early hour than I did a few minutes ago. I am a work in progress. No expectations or judgments. I am a tender growth. Be with me today. I need your shadow nearby. Amen

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gearing up

I believe real art, in whatever form it takes, is our essence revealed and expressed. And, to me, this act of courageously offering your essence to the world regardless of the reception is a powerful act of Love that benefits others. 
Ann O’Shaughnessy, Art as a Way of Life

This summer I haven’t been doing much art and parts of me are yearning to start again. I’m happy when I’m creating and open to inventing new worlds of color and designs, of going where I never intended to go but find myself painting my way into it nevertheless. I like the mess and the wondering. Right now so comfortable in my summer life of meandering, I sniff cooler elements in this morning’s air and know new purpose is near.

Baruch ata adonai in the middle of new challenges when I’m feeling frustrated and over my head, please remind me in the gentlest way so I can hear and not rebel against you, how much I love the challenge of jumping in and figuring out how to save myself. Amen

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A New Day

Three nights ago, nameless faceless terrorists crept in, claimed a part of my brain and made sure I didn't get to sleep until the early hours of the morning. By yesterday, I was dragging, sad and disappointed. I've had an up and down relationship with sleep for years and thought we had made peace with each other. For weeks I'd slept extraordinarily well, not something I experience often and nothing I wanted to jinx by telling anyone about. My treasure trove of dreams accumulated. Today is a new day. Sleep and then awakening returned. Such a normal rhythm, so hard to achieve or anticipate. I am so grateful.

Baruch ata adonai, thank you for sleep, for the opportunity today to be my own best self. Amen

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Prompt that Found Me

“Language...has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”          Paul Johannes Tillich, From The Eternal Now
I found a couple of other prompts that got me thinking this morning but were too big for me to deal with. I tried to find another that would more suit me for the happy cabin days ahead. Instead the prompt that found me is this dichotomy that often tripped me up in the past. Even now sometimes tricky little worm thoughts intrude into solitude and whisper in my ear I’m lonely. 
Baruch ata adonai, be with me in the days ahead. Help me to remember the past always sews seeds that can come alive in the present. Just because I remember their names doesn’t mean I need to pick them up and smell them. Amen