Thursday, March 28, 2013

Imagine You Can Imagine It

"When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your life does..." Nora Ephron

Here's kind of a long set up to where I'm going this morning. This week I listened to a disturbing podcast on "This American Life." It concerned the trend in our country of putting people on disability. You might remember when President Clinton ended "welfare as we know it." Apparently it took a bad economy and a few years and a few creative thinkers before the disability began to grow and grow to welfare as we don't know it. It's a way the states have shifted the responsibility (shelling out money) given to them when welfare ended back to the federal government. When unemployment figures are announced, these figures don't include the tens of millions of adults and children who are on disability. There are the usual suspects: businesses closing, malingering, avaricious attorneys, a disability industry that profits from getting individuals on the new welfare. Disincentives to work are built into the program just as they were with welfare.

Then there is the town in Alabama where 25% of the population is on disability. It's a town where the main industry left. It's a town where people used to go from high school or no school to jobs that sustained them and their families. It's a town where people are getting disability because of backaches and diabetes high blood pressure, difficulties working people live with all the time. But in this town, here's the shocker, people can't imagine having sit down jobs they could do because the only people they see with sit down jobs are disability workers. Help wanted ads all require people to be able to stand to do their jobs.

As I was sharing this story with my husband, I realized I had a connection to this kind of thinking. I was the first in my family to go to college. That seed was planted and watered with my mother's milk. Not until graduation did I get it that not everyone was going to college. Some were going to work. My family didn't have a lot of money, but my parents were determined I wouldn't have to experience the problems in getting a job my father had. So off I went, child of the 50s to learn to be a teacher or a nurse. If you are a woman of that generation, you know what I'm talking about. Then we didn't know women could become engineers for example though a very few did. We didn't know women could become doctors or lawyers. In our experience we saw women as teachers and nurses and housewives. What we didn't know existed, we couldn't dream about.

Which gets me back to Nora Ephron's quote. As a child, I read lot of biographies, mostly by men. Then a very important book by a woman adventurer ignited my love of travel. Fifteen years after the end of World War Two, not a lot of twenty year olds set off to Europe on their own. I did, and exploration of the unknown has excited me ever since. What if I'd read books about women scientists. I'm not great at science, but what if I'd been turned on fire by reading Madame Curie when I was young. It's hard to know what is possible if we've never seen that possibility.

So this morning, with a world around me full of possibilities, I wonder how this early kind of thinking limits me still. Do I put on blinders? Do I convince myself I can't do something before I start? Am I telling myself I can't enter an art show, for example, or become accomplished enough to do that though I do have models? Even as I sit here writing, I know there was a time I had no idea how to sit here writing, no idea I could write or would ever find a way to share my thoughts with others in this way. I'm sure there are still possibilities in my world I have no way of envisioning, and I know now it's mostly my thinking about myself in a limiting way that stops me.

Baruch ata adonai...I know I don't let myself go hog wild in my thinking about what's possible. I want  to believe if I can imagine it I can do it. I'm going to write down some dreams, and I know I can do them. I've done this kind of thing before. It's time to do it again. Amen

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Anything Can Happen Today

"I believe that we are always attracted to what we need most, and instinct leading us toward the persons who are to open new vistas in our lives and fill them with new knowledge." Helen Iswolski

My happiest times occur when I've been willing to jump into the unknown and venture forth as if I could indeed swim the English Channel, though my capacity to swim is limited to hoping I can get from one end of the pool to the other no matter what the length of the pool. I love community and I'm braver when I  ask others to jump with me. And so, with no experience, I began to lead Passover seders (the ritual meal often long delayed by telling the Passover story), because there was no one else in my family to lead them and because in my experience seders were lovely to attend, but left me unsatisfied. There was so much to talk about and yet we went around the table in a rote way reading from the Haggadah, a book which tells the exodus story, in the same way year after year.

Once I worked with a group of women, also interested in the possibility of doing a different kind of seder, a Women's Seder. Supporting each other, we wrote a new Haggadah featuring biblical women and modern women who are totally absent in the usual telling of the story. It was a heady experience. Many seders later, in fact this very year, I asked two friends to go way out of the box with me, to have a paperless seder, to talk through the story by posing questions for discussion which would help us understand the exodus from Egypt in a more personal way. It was wonderful, and even my husband agrees it's the seder that sets the standard for all others to come.

My happiness has come from viewing myself in a new way. I figure if I'm curious about something others probably are too, and maybe they're even willing to swim with me. Years ago a group of us began to meet monthly because we knew in the future we would need support in our lives. Now here we are. We're at that stage where things fall apart, and we're committed to being here for each other. More recently a friend and I started a film club. We view the film on our own and meet to talk about it and often about much else. She invited people, I invited others and the group has morphed to include members neither of us knew when we started. I'm at an age where people tend to narrow down their lives. My happiness comes from keeping my aperture wide open.

Baruch ata adonai...I have so much in my life to be grateful for. I'm still laughing and pondering questions from Monday's seder. Lovely to recycle happy memories. Thankful for supportive friends. I'm grateful to have so much to look forward to. Thank you. Amen

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's the First Night of Passover. Move it!

"Passover has a message for the conscience and the heart of all mankind. for what does it commemorate? It commemorates the deliverance of a people from degrading slavery, from most foul and cruel tyranny. And so, it is Israel's--nay God's protest against unrighteousness, whether individual or national." Morris Joseph

Tonight is the first night of Passover. For me the day starts with cleaning my house, this year more symbolically than thoroughly. I'll go through my kitchen and sweep out crumbs, so that when Passover begins at sundown, I will have rid myself of anything that has been leavened, and I'll  box up and move out flour, baking powder, regular cereal etc. There is so much more than can be done, and this morning I'm thankful Judaism is a religion with a wide range of acceptable practices from extremely observant to something south of what I do. Of course food is the centerpiece, and where I've cleaned up crumbs today, the week is one long cleanup as bread is replaced with matzos, unleavened bread, the original crumb machine. So after cleaning and setting the table filled with ritual elements, which I hope I can find after their year in hiding, I'll begin to cook. This year we're having a pot luck seder so for me it's only chicken. 

The centerpiece of the holiday is a seder, the retelling of the exodus from Egypt in a ritualized way with many variations. It's a night of asking questions the most famous of which is, "Why is this night different than all other nights?" Even if you aren't Jewish, asking yourself a few questions today will join you with Jews all over the world in challenging ourselves to find the truth. 

We've all been to Egypt, to times and places within ourselves when we've been enslaved to beliefs or habits or walking the treadmill of recreating narrow places in our lives. I began writing prayers from that narrow place. You know what your inner Egypt is. What do you need to do to leave and what do you need to leave behind to move to freedom? Start walking.

Tonight at our seder table, we'll be talking about the ancient plagues and also of modern plagues. Just open the newspaper. There they are arrayed before you first thing in the morning. What are your personal plagues? How can you speak of them a year from now as ancient plagues? What do you need to do to escape your personal bondage? Why is his night different from all other nights? There are the ritual answers, but more relevant are our personal reasons for this night being different. What can be different for you if you choose it to be?

Baruch ata adonai...thank you for being a source of strength to me as I spent the weekend taking care of my grandchildren. They are wonderful and I am out of shape for being the caretaker of three young healthy beings. May tonight's seder be a blessing for all who attend it. May we learn and find answers for ourselves and explore possibilities for growth in our own lives. May seeds of goodness be planted so that we and our children and our children's children are not plagued by what we can help to change. Amen  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Capture Rest. It Can Be Elusive.

"Work when there is work to do. Rest when you are tired. One thing done in peace will most likely be better than ten things done in panic....I am not a hero if I deny rest; I am only tired."  Susan McHenry

The days I begin with writing this blog, the days I start off meditating or thinking about something like our cabin in the mountains, now covered with snow but ready for us to make it our own again in a few months, the mornings I start off in peace are days with an omen for good built in. I just thought about the days I wake up juggling to do lists even before I get out of bed, and I could feel my breathing change. When I start my day in peace, my heart is ready for more peace. To do lists for all their self-importance just don't do that!

I first experienced taking a day of rest, which many religions have built into their very fabric, maybe fifteen years ago. I attended a week long adult religious studies camp on a college campus built into the woods, and on the seventh day we rested. Groups of friends took slow walks in the forest, studied texts together, had prayer services, ate together. We didn't get in cars. We didn't go shopping or to the nearby beach. We didn't rush or call home or hurry in any way. The whole day was at the pace of a stroll. It seemed like the longest day, in a very good way, and the next day I did not want to gear up to drive home.

When I'm living consciously, I don't use Saturday, or it could be Sunday, as a catch up day. Of course this is easier done now that I don't have children at home and I'm not working, but you can do this too even if you don't seem to have the time. How can you not make time for renewal? How can you keep going if you don't? How about a day without listening to the news or television or, gasp, without your cell phone and its opportunities for hours of distraction. How about turning off the internet. Start small and see what happens. You will love it, and then, if you're like me, the next weekend will come around and you'll forget  your good intention even if you loved that day and swore to do it every weekend. So start today by looking at  your calendar. Look at next weekend. Write down one commitment to yourself: turn off my smart phone for the day, pack a picnic and go to the beach or the woods or a local park, Hug a tree.Yes do hug a tree. Don't open the newspaper. Do the wash tomorrow. Write it on your calendar now while it seems like a good idea. Start small until you are greedy for more, then build it into the fabric of your life.

Baruch ata adonai...may I make tomorrow a day of renewal. As I drive my grandchildren to their activities and respond to their needs, may I remember this opportunity for joy doesn't happen very often. May I awake with peace in my heart and breathe myself into calmness I can recapture when I need it. Help me to not to take anything personally and to rejoice in their lives. Thank you for placing them in my life. Amen

(Baruch ata adonai is the beginning of every Jewish prayer. You can replace that with Dear God or whatever you are comfortable with.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I've Learned This Morning

"To let knowledge produce troubles, and then use knowledge to prepare against them, is like stirring water in hopes of making it clear."  Lao-Tzu

"Still the mind loves to act "as if..."
As if it can make the rules
As if it can write the script
Then, believing all the "as ifs," it is lost in a maze of 
pretense and pretension.
Excerpt from "As If" by Sheila Peltz Weinberg

These lines are the first I read this morning, one after the other. The last words I read last night, in The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker were "... his principal aim was to pass on the lesson life had taught him: that a person's greatest treasure is the wisdom in his heart."

I didn't plan this in advance. It's not how I write this blog. I sit down and find words that speak to me and begin to write. I'm thinking all I need to do now is to give you an old school assignment: here's the beginning of the story, you write the end. You know how to do this essay. Don't you always give yourself the opportunity to learn the same thing over and over? You set goals, yearly resolutions, you go to therapists for answers, talk endlessly with friends, write blogs to sort life out, seek experts for second opinions, and it's all mostly about feeling unworthy or unsure, insecure. Isn't this how our monkey minds work? Isn't this how we don't sit and listen for answers but charge ahead into new programs and classes and jobs and marriages, searching through self help books for new approaches? Our minds keep us very busy blaming and hoping and treading water.

I know my greatest treasure is the wisdom in my heart and for awhile I remember it, and for awhile I act on it, and for awhile I feel as though I'm walking around with special knowledge no one else knows or acts on. And then I trip and fall, and spend a month in physical therapy and wonder if that trip had meaning and act as if it does, and act as if I don't know if it does or not, and act as if it was just a misstep. I just recently sent myself into turmoil looking for answers regarding my husband's current condition thinking if I knew more about it I could help us, help myself prepare for the future.

The closest I come to tapping into the wisdom of my heart is when I am immersed in an art project so deeply that I'm not thinking of anything else, when I'm meditating (even when I'm watching thought after thought pass through), and when I'm truly grateful. I love it when I observe Shabbat, the day of rest. I turn off the computer, take slow walks, eat food I prepared the day before, read, and don't involve myself in paying bills, doing the wash, finishing jobs I didn't get done during the week. I'd like to say I'm doing that this weekend, but this weekend I'm taking care of my three grandchildren and have a list of the places they need to be hour by hour. They are the tangible treasures of my heart, and if I remember that and act on it, I will know that this is just a different kind of day of rest. The human condition doesn't let us live in the garden of Eden full time.

Baruch ata adonai...I thought after writing all that I'd be all tied up, but I just took an unplanned deep sigh and felt peace, felt I will enjoy this weekend with its non stop activity. I am feeling so much gratitude right now. I'm grateful for this time I give myself to write and think, I'm glad I'm going to be with my grandchildren and glad I have plans for today to meet with an old soulful friend. Thank you for all of this. Amen

Monday, March 18, 2013

So This is How Happiness Works

" my experience, happiness comes from practicing a view of life. It comes from working with my own mind and heart. It comes from feeling more at home in my own skin. Happiness is directly connected with how worthy I feel I am--how connected I feel to something greater than myself."  Sheila Peltz Weinberg

Before I went to bed last night, I saw a way to rearrange my studio, yet again, to make my paints easier to get to. For days I've been painting backgrounds for cards I'm making, and the colors are gorgeous. Now I'm going all grandiose seeing the same type of painting on a larger canvas. I can hardly sit still at my desk as I think about moving everything around once I get up. I love the way I'm working. I'm trusting the method to work more than I trust myself to make it work. When I'm painting, I'm not thinking about whether it is working or not. I'm painting as if I can loosen my skin, loosen what I've been taught, loosen my steely ties to what I don't know. For the past few days I've been painting in a way that brings me great calmness.

Thinking about it this way, I realize I write in the same manner. I continue to write this blog even though it doesn't always come flowingly smooth the way I'd like, because I am happier when I do it. In writing prayers, in this prologue, in this figuring out what I think about something, in this case why I'm happy now, I feel I'm sitting next to myself, a self who couldn't plot this out in a conscious way. I'm writing in a way and about things that bring me great happiness and the thoughts are evolving as I go, not blocked out ahead of time. When I write a prayer, I'm working with my heart and then my mind.

When I write in this way, and when I paint in this way, I feel integrated within myself. Running within me is theme music I can hear but not yet hum.

Baruch ata adonai...Just now, I feel as though I'm carried in the palm of your hand. Thank you. Amen

Friday, March 15, 2013

Awaken Sleeping Beauties. It's Spring!

"Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's Party!" Robin Williams

"...springtime maks people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can't keep, all passion is really a set up, and we're doomed to get our hearts broken yet again, I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go out there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally....Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful. I'm nuts." Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Winter is a holding pattern, when I don't seem to know who I am. Several winters back I capped off holiday festivities with bouts of Seasonal Affective Disorder which came with paralyzing ennui and tethered me to home for weeks at a time. I became very undependable, not knowing if I could plan ahead, not knowing if I could followthrough if I did plan. And then in a burst came the daffodils and, as yesterday, blizzards of flowering pear petals blowing off into the sunshine, and with it the me I thought I knew, the me I hoped would return, blew back in, at first with tentative appearances, and then with strength until I joined the lusty bloomers.

Awaken sleeping beauties. There's no time to waste. The blooming season goes quickly. Bud now and catch a ride. Last May after years of writing prayers and sharing them with friends, I planted within myself the seeds of sharing my prayers with more and more friends-to-be. My first blog came out last May. The buds burst, seeds flew in the wind. Hello Australia. Hello India. Hello Great Britain, Canada, Eastern Europe. I had to wake up to using Facebook too, and not knowing who was reading me, but certainly hoping more and more would.

This year I'm dancing with ideas for creating cards with the little ladies I draw, and I'm putting this idea out to the world. Is my arty sleeping beauty self going to bloom through this spring and summer? Do I expect too much? Am I making promises I can't keep? Am I setting myself up? Who cares. I'm having a great time playing catch with this idea.

It's in holding things lightly I am able to let them go. Each spring I feel I know who I am and who I can be, if I will. Each spring I want to be a fairy and go round the bend with joy and new possibilities. Each spring I grow more and more into my surprised and joyful self.

Baruch ata adonai...what a change from the last tension filled weeks. I open the window and smell possibilities. Thank you for being with me, for not leaving me to my own worst self. Thank you for spring, for flowers, for longer sunny days, for hope. Amen

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

One Take Away from the Past Week

"It's a beautiful day in my neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, could you be mine, would you be mine?" Lyrics from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, a children's TV show of the past

If you're a reader from the US, your childhood or that of your children in the '70s and '80s, maybe even longer, couldn't escape Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Fred Rogers was a tall, thin, kind, soft talking man who came into the room, put on a cardigan sweater and comfortable shoes and talked to puppets and more particularly directly to young viewers about being kind and solving problems without anger. My two young boys ran to the television when they heard the theme song and sat quietly soothed. "Won't you be my neighbor?" the song ended.

I began singing the tune this morning, after I read a comment on my last blog from Tracy who lives in Australia. She's in my neighborhood, and it's a beautiful day for a neighbor, and it's only seven in the morning on this fourth day of daylight savings time, which means we have beautiful long and longer evenings to look forward to. My mood soars at the thought of being able to walk and garden and feel alive after dinner. During the winter, when it was cold and dark at 6PM, I found myself going to bed earlier and earlier.

Since you're in my neighborhood and sitting down to be with me a few minutes, I want to share the upshot of the past week, doctorwise. Over a week ago I called my husband's doctor to ask a followup question from our meeting the previous week, when we decided not to do a very unpleasant procedure which involved a two night hospital stay. In response, his office left no answer to my question but instead dates for two appointments, the perfect sequence for a pre procedure visit and a date for  the procedure. For a week I left messages asking to speak with the doctor and seven phone calls later, three yesterday alone, I finally spoke with him for generous amount of his time. We are agreed we are not doing the procedure. Since you don't know exactly what I'm talking about regarding my husband's problem, thanks for following along with all this. The current emergency is over.

So what was this last week about? My take away is that I am now prepared with a neighborhood to support me when another event is not so readily resolved and I am perhaps less able to gather my troops together. What this means for caretakers, whether you are talking about caring for yourself in your day to day life or for someone else, is to not go it alone. We know it takes a village to raise a child, and we need a neighbors when we can barely raise ourselves.

Thanks to the world wide web, even if we've moved far from our base to another part of the world, our old neighbors are as close as Skype, which is a great stand in for hand to hand contact. Messages can pass back and forth instantly even with clunky old fashioned email, which I love. So caretakers, reach out. Establish a base before you need it. Even if you have always been a private person who doesn't share woes, reach out now. Everyone needs a neighbor just like you. I sure do.

Baruch ata adonai...I'm still trying to figure out if I totally lost perspective and made myself and my friends anxious for no good reason. I wish I were the kind of person who moved slower, knew the universe would take care of me, and relaxed more. I know. Dream on. I am thankful I'm the kind of person who moves to solve problems, who reaches out and takes chances. I'm thankful readers in Australia and other places I may never go to are in my life. This morning I am optimistic and happy and looking forward to this sunny day. Thank you. Amen

Friday, March 8, 2013

Prayer: Part One

Prayer is complicated. Let me start off by saying, I'm not talking about liturgical prayer, prayers written into the canon, prayers said by rote, group prayers, prayers written by others. For me, these prayers are the warm up act. At best they bring me to readiness. When I talk about prayer, I'm talking about personal prayer. I'm speaking of the the yearning and crying of my heart. I'm speaking of my gratitude for my many blessings and of amazement and repentance, of my decision to change. I'm speaking of being honest, seeing myself as I am and asking for help. It all started with sitting and listening.

When my mother's body died, she didn't leave me for a very long time. During the silent prayer portion of the weekly service as I sat in sadness and tears, she began to sit beside me and over time helped me learn to let go. What a shocker! She also came to me in dreams, and in these dreams she showed me she had made new friends and didn't need me so much. During silent prayer, I learned to sit and listen. Other voices came speaking of things I needed to learn. Who were these other voices? Not mine. They were the voices of my listening. They were special gifts. Sometimes I sit in readiness and listen with a soft willingness to hear and nothing happens. Maybe I'm not ready. Maybe we don't hit a homer each time we're at bat.

So I began to learn to pray when I didn't use the words of others and when I learned to sit and listen. When I began to write prayers, I was surprised at the voice I used to speak with God. Now God is another very complicated subject, and I'm not going there this early in the morning. My prayers are often spoken or written as if to a loving parent who is delighted for me to appear and is amused by my offering. When I enter this space, when I sit down to listen or to write a prayer, I feel loved. Eventually. And if I don't, if I'm hard and gnarly and confused, I stop. I feel like God turns away as if to say, comeback when you've done your homework and you're ready to speak nicely and when your heart is open again.

When I sat down to write this morning, I wanted to thank, I do thank, all the Christians and Jews and secularists who light candles and incense, those who get down on their knees and those who think of me in passing, for praying for my husband and me. I believe prayer works even if you say my name and think of me being peaceful and centered. Oh, maybe you could do just that right now! It would be great for me because I'm a bit harried now, and a bit late for getting on with my day. Whatever you say and however you do it, your prayers are most welcome and appreciated. Keep it up. I'll let you know when to stop! What seemed more important was to explain what prayer is for me. Then I could let you know whatever way you pray is great with me.

Baruch ata I am. Prayer by way of explanation. And appreciation. Good morning. Sorry I burst right in without much ado. I am so thankful for everyone who has called and written. Now I know there are lots of folks standing in a circle around me smiling and waiting to pick me up and hug me and love me when I need it most. Until then, they're happy to do lunch. I think I'm in love. Amen

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Yesterday I Cried Out Help

"So when we cry out Help, or whisper it into our chests, we enter the paradox of not going limp and not feeling so hopeless that we can barely walk, and we release ourselves from the absolute craziness of trying to be our own--or other people's--higher powers. Help." Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow

I started writing prayers in a last ditch hope. I had no place else to go. Well actually I was nudged over the edge of a sinkhole by someone else, but who made the sinkhole in the first place? I continued to write prayers because I learned a lot about myself. As I wrote my way through The Artist's Way, several books of the bible, books on prayer, I began to share this process with friends. I continued to write prayers because I realized I had dug myself out, I felt so much better, and what would happen if I stopped? I began to write nightly lists of gratitude. In an organic way the blog began because I needed help.

I almost stopped writing this week because the blog seemed to be going one way, my life was headed in another, and I needed help. Dealing with my husband's health issues and the choices we need to make will be demanding. I saw my mother take care of my father and die nine years before he did. I'm three years younger than she was then. I think care taking wore her out. I can take care of my husband, but I fear for myself, and yesterday I recognized l was turning inward and downward. The sinkhole was just down the road.

Yesterday I knew I had to throw out a buoy in the form of an email to friends and family and some of you, and forever friends and friends I don't know well but have a strong heart connection with. The responses flowed in all day. Each response was different and each supplied a piece of a lifeline. I'm grateful way beyond words and could feel myself gain strength throughout the day. I was encouraged to keep writing.

I'm going to continue writing, but the direction is going to deal more with health issues and survival issues. I would love this blog to be more interactive because in telling your story you give me fuel to take next step, and you will gain a great deal too. I know you will. Sometimes I feel I'm writing in the dark to a big audience only I can't see or hear you. Reach out to me. Reach out to friends. Say, "Help." We can all support each other

Baruch ata adonai...I believe you spoke to me yesterday morning. You said I was sinking and if I intended to do anything about it I needed to reach out. Right? And so I wrote. And I asked for help. I told people I needed support and will continue to need help. I felt it was the only thing I could do to save my life. And then you whispered just the right thing in their ears and asked them to write back to me. I know you're too busy for all this, and I know you're not in the micromanaging business, but I'm going to thank you anyway because I felt your breath in my ear. Amen

Monday, March 4, 2013

Earning My Way Back to Center

"We carry a center
that is always returning."
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

It's March already and I want to slow down the days. After a month of travel and a then a full month of healing from that, I want to return to my center. Last weekend was the first of the year I've been home with not much planned and also feeling well. March came in like a lamb here and the weather was wonderful. Also I'm still feeling the glow of three peaceful quiet days in Yosemite last week. All auspicious signs in this new year of the snake.

To maintain this sense of peace and wellbeing, I'm on a computer diet. I go out to the world in the morning and email, google, write, and turn it off until after dinner. If I don't turn it off completely I find I'm checking one thing and another and an hour's gone by. When I'm moved to communicate, I write a note on the paper that covers my screen. Two days in, so far so good. I'm also rearranging my schedule so at least three days a week I can start the day off being creative: writing, painting, drawing. I did this the month of December and it was wonderful to connect with my center in such a solid way each morning.

Lately, since I've been healing body pain, I've been too in touch with fear that I won't get better, and then it is so easy for me to spiral downward and inward to no good purpose. This is not my center. I'm going to replace that with meditating so I have a healthy place to return to if I'm knocked off my center by errant thoughts and I will start listening again to a resting program I have. Just five minute segments can bring me back to myself.

Baruch ata adonai...I feel like I'm in a tug of war, pulling myself back to the light. I know how to do this and right now I have the will to do it. Help me return to my center where I am true to myself. Thank you. Amen

Friday, March 1, 2013

Nothing's Black and White

"Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown is the important thing--and keeping the unknown always beyond you. Catching, crystallizing your simpler, clearer vision of life--only to see it turn stale compared to what you vaguely feel ahead--that you must always keep working to grasp." Georgia O'Keefe

Whether it is creating with words or with pen and colored pencils, my vision is there, elusive but there, and is something I seldom, but sometimes, am able to get right. When I write, I pare down and down until what I'm left with is the barest truth I can understand and make understandable. Can I start with an empty page and create something clear and simple? Can I draw on blank paper a feeling I want others to recognize? Can I allow myself to chase the vision, and as I move toward what is beyond me, get farther down the road? What I create today may come to feel stale, but for now, for today, I'm thinking the work itself is the important thing, not the results. Creating what I couldn't see before and may not get right is the energy that puts life into my day. Can I do all this and maintain faith in myself?

Baruch ata adonai...there is so much beauty and so much pain in this world all at the same time. The other day I was wondering how you could let so many bad things happen to a friend who has only tried her best to live a good life. Then I remembered you put possibilities before us and you too must weep at the outcomes. Everything is all about the journey and doing the best we can along the way. Thank you for making me who I am and who I will be. Amen