Wednesday, December 27, 2006

NEW ...

Once I am out of the fog of this last week, I will take the huge step toward getting with the program of updating my blog to the new technology. One of the things I also intend doing is making a regular feature of, 'MY FAVORITE INCOMING EMAIL OF THE WEEK.'

I received this piece today. It is not the first time I have seen it. The beauty of it is that it is always appropriate to what is going on when you do receive it. What I need today is reassurance, so it couldn't have come at a better time.
'Thank you, Ed' for sharing it with me.
My wish is that you will gain some inspiration from it.
[ My prayer is that Blogger doesn't turn this into a spacing monstersaurus-rex challenge for me :o) ]
(Added later - 'montesaurus-rex' is putting it mildly. As much as I love you, my blog, this piece, every single living, breathing and walking thing in the entire universe, I can't fix it or work out how it looks perfect on the 'create page' and like this on the published page. I hope you will still enjoy it!)


The Awakening
by Sonny Carroll
A time comes in your life when you finally get it ...
When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your
tracks and somewhere, the voice inside your head cries out - ENOUGH!
Enough fighting and cying, or struggling to hold on. And, like a child
quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you
shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of
wet lashes, you begin to look at the world through new eyes,
This is your awakening ...
You realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to
change, or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the
next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming
and you are not Cinderella and that in the real world, there aren't always fairy
tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of "happily
ever after" must begin with you and in the process,
a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always
love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are ... and that's OK. (They are entitled
to their own views and opinions.) And you learn the importance of loving and
championing yourself and in the process, a sense of
new found confidence is born of self-approval.
You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you
(or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they
say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that
it's not always about you. So you learn to stand on your own and to take care
of yourself and in the process, a sense of
safety & security is born of self-reliance.
You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they
are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties and in the process,
a sense of peace & contentment is born of forgiveness.
You realize that much of the way you view yourself and the world around you,
is a resultof all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche.
You begin tosift through all the junk you've been fed about how you
should behave, how you should look and how much you should weigh,
what you should wear and where you should shop
and what you should drive, how and where you should live and
what you should do for a living, who you should marry and what
you should expect of a marriage, the importance of
having and raising children or what you owe your parents.
You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view.
You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.
You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the
doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have brought into to begin with
and in the process, you learn to go with your instincts.
You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive and there there is power and glory
in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a
"consumer" looking for your next fix.
You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals
of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon
which you must build a life.
You learn that you don't know everything; it's not your job to save the world
and that you can't teach a pig to sing. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.
You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry
and that mrtyrs get burned at the stake.
Then you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love.
How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving
and when to walk away. You learn not to project your
needs or your feelings onto a relationship.
You learn that you will not be more beautiful,
more intelligent, more lovable or more important because of the
man on your arm or the child that bears your name.
You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would
have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes.
You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love;
and you learn that you don't have the right to demand love on your terms,
just to make you happy.
You learn that alone does not mean lonely.
You look in the mirror and come to terms with
the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 10
and you stop trying to compete with
the image inside your head and agonizing over how you "stack up."
You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over
and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK
and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things
you want and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.
You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love,
kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won't settle for less.
You allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes
you, to glorify you with his touch and in the process,
you internalize the meaning of self-respect.
And you learn that you body really is your temple. And you begin to care for it
and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet,
drinking more water and taking more time to exercise.
You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear.
So you take more time to rest. Just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul;
so you take time to laugh and to play.
You learn that for the most part in life, you get what you believe you deserve
and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You learn that anything worth achieving is work working for
and that wishing for something to happen,
is different from working toward making it happen.
More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction,
discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone
and that it's OK to risk asking for help.
You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time:
FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears,
because you know that whatever happens you can handle it
and to give in to fear, is to give away the right to
live on your terms.
You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud
of impending doom. You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get
what you think you deserve and that
sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people.
On these occasions, you learn not to personalize things.
You learn that G-d isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers;
it's just life happening.
You learn to deal with evil in it most primal state; the ego.
You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment
must be understood and redirected or they will
suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.
You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.
You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many
of the simple things we take for granted;
things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about;
a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.
Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself,
by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to
never ever settle for less than your heart's desire.
You hand a wind chime outside your window so you can
listen to the wind, and you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep
trusting and stay open to every wonderful possibility.
Finally, with courage in your heart and with G-d by your side
you take a stand, you take a deep breath
and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.
ooo000ooo

Monday, December 18, 2006

LIFE ...

The last job I had in South Africa was one that I myself was shocked at getting. It was completely out of character for where I was in my life at that time. I remember all the different reactions I got from the various friends and relatives as I told them that I had applied for and been accepted to work at a temple/shul/synagogue. The one common thread was that of surprise.

I had grown up in a traditional Jewish home where all the holidays were celebrated. On a day to day basis we were aware of our Jewishness but we were not religiously observant. Our home was not kosher and we did not observe Shabbat/the Sabbath. My mother did however always light candles on Friday night and ‘Friday night supper’ was not to be missed. It was a family gathering at either my Uncle’s house, my Mom’s lifelong friend who was my Auntie Lily, or at our own home. No matter what was going on, I knew I had to be at Friday night supper, and I was … and I wanted to be there, too. We were like the average non-observant Jewish family in that we were proud of our heritage and content with attending shul services on Pesach/Passover, Rosh Hashana/New Year, Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement and various other holidays in between. I do have very clear memories of attending some Friday night/Shabbat services with my father when I was a much younger child.

Prior to looking for a job, I had worked freelance in the P.R./Promotions industry. I was flat broke and desperately needed to get on to some kind of regular income. I was single and was still recovering from the emotional ravages of having endured an ectopic pregnancy. I was 30 years old and had been in a relationship for two years that I knew was going nowhere. In spite of this, it had been easier to stay in it than to leave it. My emotional stability was seriously in question. Although I was essentially single, I was very clear that I was going to keep this baby – the problem was more how to get rid of the father from my life on a daily basis but allow him to be involved in his child’s life.

With the loss of this pregnancy, a spiritual journey started for me that has basically never ended. My first stop along the way started when I noticed the vacancy advertised in the local newspaper. It mentioned it was for a large Jewish congregation and what appealed to me was the four and a half day week. The offices would of course close at 1pm on Fridays for the preparation of Shabbat/Sabbath, so of course there would be no work on Saturdays either.

I was first interviewed by the office manager, then called back for an interview by the Management Committee and then finally for a third interview to be conducted by the Rabbi.

I did have an impressive resume but it was totally unrelated to any of the requirements for this job. Within minutes of my interview with the Rabbi, I knew I wanted this job. He read my resume, asked me all the questions that any prospective employer would ask and I answered them all perfectly. I was struggling to keep my shit together as I was so emotionally fragile. The empathy I could feel emanating from this incredible human being was making me feel very vulnerable. I instinctively knew that there was no coincidence I had ended up in front of this man and that I needed to be in this environment for my own healing as much as I needed the job for my own survival.

When all the formalities were over, he sat and stared at me for a few moments across the desk and then said to me, “I’ve read and heard what you have done for the last few years, now I would like you to tell me who you really are.”

I chuckled and said, “I’m not sure you have the time for that right now,” and felt my nervousness rising. I remember thinking that if I told this guy the reality of the person sitting in front of him, I would be fired before I got hired.

“Yes, I do.’ he said.

Close to an hour and a half later I walked out of the office feeling like all the weight I had been carrying on my shoulders had been lifted. I didn’t know why, and I’m not sure I understood what I was feeling, but I did know I was feeling lighter – and it felt better than how I had felt when I walked in some hours earlier.

As I got to the door of his office I thought to myself, “Oh my goodness, if he only knew I don’t even have underwear on under my long skirt….” I don’t usually go commando, but I had a painful scar from the surgery I had undergone to have my one tube removed and it was just more comfortable to go without underwear. As if reading my mind, as I was about to close his office door behind me he said, “Thank you for your honesty, Dawn.” Still keeping it together, I casually smiled and thanked him for listening to me when in fact I had nearly jumped out of my skin from shock at his comment.

A few days later I got the call from the office manager who had been the first to interview me, and she was happily offering me the job. To the South Africans reading this, I was in DIONS in Wynberg when I got the message on my beeper. There were no cell phones yet. I ran to the information desk and begged them to let me use the phone, and I told Helene that she had made my day by offering me the job.

The essence of my job was dealing with the life-cycle events. This meant that I would receive a call from both congregants as well as non-members from within the community at large requiring assistance in the event of a birth, death, marriage, Bar/Bat Mitzvah within their family.

I have stories from this experience that would justify having a blog dedicated to them and nothing else. What got me thinking along the lines of this post, is the way my life has gone for the last two weeks since my last post.

The course of my working day would be so varied. I recall clearly the events of one day. I had just taken a phone call from the grandfather of a baby who had suffered a cot/crib death. (SIDS)

I followed the required procedure of the call and scheduled the time for the family to come in to complete the necessary paperwork to process the burial of their infant. As I put the phone down, it rang again. It was the mother of a bride-to-be for a wedding the Rabbi would be officiating at some months down the line. She made reference to how long she had held on for me on the line and then proceeded to explain the reason for her call. A Jewish wedding ceremony takes place under a chuppah. In most shuls these are traditionally blue or red. This Mom wanted to know what color ours was as she was concerned about how it would match with the color scheme of the wedding party.

By the time I had ended this call, the Rabbi had responded to my internal office call to come and meet with me so that I could explain to him the details surrounding the family who would soon be presenting themselves in my office.

At this stage of my three year span in this job, I was very confident in what I was doing and in spite of my lack of formal training in bereavement counseling, I had gained a lot of experience and knowledge under the superb guidance and instruction from the Rabbi. I had proven sufficiently to him that I had an instinctive empathy for these kinds of situations which is why he would always respond without question when I would alert him to a situation that I was certain needed his intervention. This was most certainly one such time.

I all but slammed the phone down on the Mom who was extremely concerned about the potential clash of colors and expressed strong views about how pathetic this all seemed to me in light of the call I had taken just before her.

It was in the discussion that followed between me and the Rabbi that I learnt one of the most valuable lessons in my life. He explained to me how in that moment, the wedding of that woman’s daughter was without a doubt thee most important thing in her life. Nothing held more purpose or meaning for her, clearly right down to the smallest of details, however insane it might have appeared to me by virtue of the sequence of events I was faced with handling. It was my job in my professional capacity to extend the respect to each situation that it deserved, acknowledging without any shred of judgment the importance of each one to each person. That lesson has stayed with me ever since then and I draw on the experience of it very, very often.

It was this awareness that has helped me get through the events of the last two weeks in my own life.

It has been a challenging time for me as things have gone from what might seem like totally unimportant to the next person to deeply important to me. What has been amazing to me is that although circumstances have forced me off the blogging radar, my comments box holds 30 messages and my email IN BOX has brought me a steady flow of mail expressing concern from people I might never have the opportunity to meet in person.

So while we go about the daily activities of our lives, we need to always remember that what we see on the surface can so often be as far removed from the reality of what’s going on as is possible.

My sister sent me this beautiful message back on December 6th. Please watch it with sound ~ it will make a lovely addition to any internet/email wish you might want to extend to someone you love and are grateful for. If you would like to use it, this is the link.
http://www.support4change.com/spirit/explaining.html

p.s. The full extent of the relationship that grew between me and my teacher, friend and mentor, the late Rabbi Ady Assabi, can be read in a previous post. VOWS on September 5th, 2005

Friday, December 01, 2006

PHEW ...

It’s interesting how different cultures express different feelings. If I was in South Africa this last week, I would have described how I felt as, “Feeling really kak.” If we were still living in England it would be referred to as, “Feeling poorly.” Another way of describing it would be, “Under the weather.” This creature best reflects how and where I have been this week, better than any words from any culture.



I am finally feeling much better and hope to get myself totally back on track by the end of this weekend. This will of course include catching up on my blogging – it has been an eventful week in spite of how crap I might have felt. In addition, I will most certainly have paid long overdue visits to everyone who has been kind enough to pop in and say hello.

It’s World Aids Day today ~ everyone is choosing gifts for different reasons for different people. By shopping one
(RED) item you will make a difference in many lives. Please consider adding it to your list.



Shabbat Shalom to those Shabbat-ing, and a wonderful weekend to everyone.

If you have approximately 7 minutes to spare, watching this video will re-charge your batteries, I promise!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

ENTERTAINMENT ...

I got this from a friend in New Zealand.

For those who think they know women inside-out, you might want to check this out first.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

THANKFUL ...

FOR the opportunity to have enjoyed a reunion with DDTFM youngest brother. DD has three younger siblings. The last time Ross and I saw this one of the the three guys in the family was six years ago. He lives in Sydney, Australia and passed through NJ for just over 24 hours on his way home from a conference in Kalamazoo. Unfortunately I did not get a pic of him in his t-shirt that read something to the effect of: YES, THERE REALLY IS A PLACE CALLED KALAMAZOO. Ross had the best time taking Uncle Adam on a tour of his school and introducing him to everyone.

FOR my midnight lunacy and [maybe] creepy passion for taking pics of my favorite men on the planet and Ms Pingy while they are all asleep.

FOR the fact that last week a scan revealed that the 7cm Stage 4 Lung Cancer tumor that my father in law was diagnosed with earlier this year has now shrunk to 2cm. He has three chemo sessions scheduled between now and the end of this year. It is expected that he will have to undergo no further chemo treatments after that. My mother in law has been his rock through this ordeal and I want to honor her for that.

This is a youthful pic of my mother in law and her three sisters taken in Glasgow, Scotland where she grew up. She is second from the left.


For the power of the internet and the opportunity to have been humbled this way.

For the great 4th Grade Thanksgiving party DDTFM and I got to help out at on Monday. Ross has the coolest teacher and she arranges really fun events for the class. She themed an old fashioned party to show the kids how people entertained themselves at gatherings before the internet age. The apple dunking was a huge success - the kids had a blast. They also strung popcorn and Cheerio necklaces.




FOR the new CD's I've really been vibing to. I haven't bought new music for the longest time. I highly recommend all of these.
JJ CALE & ERIC CLAPTON - ESCONDIDO
TONY BENNETT - DUETS An American Classic
BOB DYLAN - MODERN TIMES
ROD STEWART - STILL THE SAME Great Classics of Our Time

STILL A PRETTY TASTY VINTAGE, DON'T YA THINK?



FOR the fact that I am married to such a brave and kind being creating the most wonderful human experience for himself and everyone around him.



FOR my beautiful son.



For your friendship and for how you honor me by continuing to read my blog and for sharing this view of my world - even those people who don't make it known that they have been here.

Wishing you and those you love a Happy Thanksgiving.

PEACE OUT!




and FOR the fact that Blogger had me sign in and out conservatively - only about 58928 times to get all these pics posted and to attempt to get the alignment the way I want it - and still not succeed with the alignment. Oh happy blogging days!

Monday, November 13, 2006

EMPOWERMENT ...

Last week I discovered, by pure chance that my step-daughter, Alex had made a decision that I would describe as nothing more than a bad error of judgment on her part. When these things happen I am convinced more and more of the natural laws of the universe and how there truly are no coincidences. There are those times when without having to go looking for the information, it is “delivered” to the parents, and a successful intervention takes place by virtue of which the child benefits greatly. Then there are those times when a parents instinct will guide them to a point at which the parent has to make a choice about taking the initiative to get involved or not. I do acknowledge that there are most certainly times where situations are best served by parents not involving themselves. This was not one such time.

There was a third party parent of a friend involved in the scenario which angered me very much. Alex rightly said that blame should not be laid at this parent’s door because ultimately Alex made the choice in the situation. I agreed with her and said that given her age and lack of life experience, I felt Alex could be allowed room for error. The other parent however, I felt should have known better in the situation and she should either not have participated in the way she did, or at least suggested to Alex that she alert either me or DDTF as to what was going to take place. With respect for Alex’s privacy I will not elaborate on the detail of the situation. Suffice to say it entailed the purchase of a costly item at a most untimely juncture in Alex’s life – in the big scheme of things, not a big deal, but on a deeper level, a major deal.

I immediately brought it to Alex’s attention and explained that I had literally stumbled on the information that had enlightened me to the purchase. Alex immediately said that she had wanted to tell me but having realized she had made a mistake, she felt extremely scared to do so.

This upset me and motivated me to point out to her that her father and I have never been the kind of parents who stand over their children waving big sticks. What we have tried our level best to encourage is the truthful communication of what is going on in their lives, good, bad or other.

I asked her what she was scared of. She didn’t know. I questioned her about what I describe as her addiction to drama. Sometimes I feel that she is fueled by drama therefore her life unfolds as one drama to be addressed after another. While I fully appreciate this is part and parcel of growing up and these are all essential stops we make on the roller coaster of life – I do believe life can be experienced without a non-stop flow of drama.

The conversation that took place between us was calm and productive. I was pleased at the ease with which we found ourselves working through this situation. I pointed out to Alex that this scenario was a perfect example of what I had been trying to explain to her in a conversation we had shared about a week ago. At that time I told her that we achieve nothing by dealing with the topics of situations, but that in order to work through blocks in our lives, we need to address the issues. I asked her if she saw how in this situation the item purchased was nothing more than a topic, but that the issue is her fear … and that the issue is what she needs to take a longer, harder and deeper look at. The purchased item, who cares – put it on ebay and sell it.

A few days earlier, I had watched an OPRAH show which completely and utterly freaked me out. The show featured 15 year old Jessica Coleman who at age 15 had hidden a pregnancy from her family, school and entire community. Having given birth in the bathroom, she then hid the baby in a bag in her bedroom and after having cleaned herself and the bathroom, went and sat down at the table to have dinner with her family.

Jessica and her boyfriend then added rocks to the duffle bag in which they had stuffed the baby and threw it into the quarry. You can read more about this here and here.

In her interview with OPRAH from the jail in which she is being held, she explained that her motivating factor for doing what she did was fear.

I was in tears by the end of the show and I was surprised that I felt no anger toward this young woman. It stayed with me for days after I saw the show. This girl was to all intents and purposes a model daughter and student.

At the risk of sounding dramatic, I walked away from my conversation with Alex and I thought to myself that this is how these insane things happen in the world. It all starts in homes like yours and mine. I had asked myself HOW this child could go from delivering a baby in the bathroom to sitting down for dinner and NOBODY picked up any kind of strange vibe from her. I asked myself HOW can you not feel safe enough to go to a parent, friend, teacher, church/shul member and say, “Help – I have made a terrible mistake and I am in trouble.” No, I did not feel anger. I felt deep sadness and confusion about the whole thing.

Being a parent takes constant, conscious participation. I think that sometimes when all looks good and how we would like it to look on the surface, we can so easily be caught off our guard. Our children are masters at the art of disguise. Ultimately, it comes down to communication. While they might hate us for it in the moment, by forcing our way into their lives if we have to, our presence there can be the difference between a life and death situation. No matter how insignificant the situation might seem, knowing they have parents or at least some ONE they can turn to is vital. As hard as it might be to admit to oneself, if your relationship with your child is less than ideal, appoint someone to step in and make it known to the child that they can always turn to that person.

This was a good reminder to me that our children are not the only ones involved in learning as they grow. So do we as parents. We have to be committed to keeping ourselves as open to receiving the lessons intended for us, as we want our children to be for their own growth.

It was only on this show that I learnt of the SAFE HAVEN LAWS. I had never heard of this law in the five years that I have lived here. I am sure most people do know about it – but if not, it is worth looking into how it works in your local area.

I pray that Alex heard me and that in time she will come to terms with her fear. I have fears of my own and I am very pleased that I have learnt to allow them their rightful place in my life and how to not let them hold me back.

My parenting experience has shown me that when our children are heard, they experience their own power. When you feel your own power, don’t you feel more safe and secure? Our kids deserve to receive at least that one gift from us – the gift of empowerment.
I thank you in advance of you reading this Alex for letting me share this story

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

INSTALLING ...

Tech Support: Yes, ... how can I help you?
Customer: Well, after much consideration, I've decided to install Love. Can you guide me through the process?
Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?
Customer: Well, I'm not very technical, but I think I'm ready. What do I do first?
Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?
Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it OK to install Love while they are running?
Tech Support: What programs are running?
Customer: Let's see ... I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment running right now.
Tech Support: No problem - Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called Sense of Self-Worth. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?
Customer: I don't know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?
Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased.
Customer: OK. done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?
Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.
Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, "Error - Program not run on external components." What should I do?
Tech Support: Don't Worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.
Customer: So, what should I do?
Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self, Realize your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.
Customer: OK, done.
Tech Support: Now, copy them to the My Heart directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.
Customer: Got it. Hey, my Heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?
Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes a while, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So Love in installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.
Customer: Thank you.
Thank YOU for sending this to me, Bev.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

PHEW ...

Although my friend Jodi had nothing to apologize to me for, she shared this pic in an email. In the midst of a very busy week, it got me to slow down and smile. As the email so aptly said,

“What SORRY looks like.”

I want to climb inside this picture to cuddle and scrunch and hug and adore this piece of deliciousness. This little face made my day!

Monday, October 30, 2006

WEATHER ...

Last week I was having a conversation with a relative who still lives in South Africa. I made the comment to her that when considering relocating and choosing between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, she should not under estimate the impact weather has on our lives.

This made me remember two stories that I want to share with you. They run the risk of falling flat as they might prove to be like, “You had to have been there” jokes – but I’ll do my best to communicate the humor of both moments.

South African weather made me believe that when you look out the window and see a clear blue sky and the sun is shining, the temperature will be warm. If this happened in the winter, you would need a light sweater at most.

After a very short time in London, we awoke on a Sunday morning and were thrilled to see just that. A blue sky, sunshine and yes, it wasn’t raining. We got ourselves dressed, called a cab and headed for the mall so that we could go to the supermarket.

The genius cab driver dropped up off and drove off. Very quickly we noticed there were just a few cars in the parking lot. DanDan went ahead of me, came back and said, “It’s closed on Sundays.” For those readers who have not been through a relocation process, this might be hard to relate to. For those who have, you will understand what I mean when I say that in that split second, I had my relocation breakdown.

I looked at Dan and said, “What do you mean it is closed?”

“Well, the doors are locked, there are no cars in the parking, it is closed. C.L.O.S.E.D on Sundays.”

“Why the fuck did that cab driver not tell us it was closed when we gave him the address when we got into his car?”

“I don’t know, Dawn.”

“Well all I know is that I am freezing my ass off and I am seriously questioning what the fuck we are doing here and I want to go home … and no, I don’t mean home as in the home that I can get to by means of a cab ride – I mean the HOME … – SOB, SOB, SOB, SOB AND MORE SOB. WITH EACH SOB I CAN FEEL MYSELF LOSING MY GRIP ON LIFE. THE SHEER PANIC OF THIS FEELING MADE MY SPEECH INCREASE IN BOTH SPEED AND VOLUME QUITE DRAMATICALLY.

…I mean the HOME where when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, it is frigging well warm – you know, that thing called W.A.R.M – even in W.I.N.T.E.R.” SOB, SOB, SOB, AND MORE SOB

Although early on in our marriage, DanDan realized that these freak outs of mine happen very rarely, but when they do, best to just give me the space to get it out of my system. I sobbed just a little bit more, and then arm in shivering arm, we headed off to the nearest cafĂ© for an English fry-up. As we shivered our way down the sidewalk, DanDan whispered to me in the shakiest of shiveriest voices, “You’re right, it is fucking cold and this weather sucks – but we are home, so we better get used to it.”

Just a month or so later, on another Sunday morning, we awoke to very gloomy weather. Grey sky, constant depressing mist of rain and very cold temperatures. We had slept late and when we got up, DanDan went into the kitchen to create some of his magic. At around 1.30pm we sat down and enjoyed a grand DanDan lunch.

This took place in December 2003 - (oops, thanks Ann, wrong year, should read 1993) so I am sorry, but I really don’t remember what the menu was. After the meal, we rolled on to the couch and spent the day curled up under the duvet watching movies and TV.

Much later on, I got up and said to Dan that I was going to take a bath; get into my pj’s and prepare for an early night. He thought this was a great idea and that he would do the same. As we were both still getting acclimatized, we walked around the house in winter looking like Mr and Mrs Michelin. I was in sweat pants with thick socks, layers of t-shirts and sweat shirts. Dan used to prance around in white thermal underwear looking very Nureyev-esque. I found the socks pulled way up over the long thermals particularly flattering.

As I crawled back on to the couch and back under the duvet, Dan rubbed his hands together and said that he was clearly in the mood to cook that day and he was going to make us yet another sumptuous meal.

“What would you like for supper?” he asked.

“Ooooo, I don’t know – all I know is I am starving and anything you make will be delicious.”

He was heading over to the window to close the curtains. It was totally dark outside and as he was pulling the curtains across the window, he said to me, “You know, it’s a good thing we bathed early. Guess what the time is?”

“I have no clue.” I said.

“Just as well we’re ready for bed so we can eat and have an early night – it’s 4.30pm”

Oh my goodness, did we laugh. Not only had we only finished lunch no more than two hours earlier, but we realized what a long way we still had to go getting used to our new place on the planet and how the weather worked.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

SYNCHRONICITY ...

I am still in close contact with the wonderful woman I worked for in England. We became close friends and even though we don’t see each other very often, we maintain a close and meaningful relationship.

She is about to carry out some extensive home renovations to accommodate her son , Alex who has returned from boarding school. This came last week in an email from her and I decided to share it as I think it is a wonderful story.

On Friday I had a young builder from Doncaster come and look at the ground floor to assess the potential for making a studio bedroom for Alex. This guy is called Yan. He is a 23 year old from the Czech Republic. He has done such fantastic work for me in Doncaster that I know he's the guy to alter this house. He can come in January and will bring his father over to help. I feel an amazing affinity with him which makes no sense in the physical world. He called in because he was on his way to do a meditation course in Oxford. While he was here I gave him a copy of CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD Book 1. I don't know why I gave it to him as we've never had any conversations along spiritual lines. Yet it seemed the right thing to do. He called me this morning to say he had been reading the book and although in some parts it was difficult to understand as he is still learning English, he had found it amazing.

His story is the stuff of legend. He hitch-hiked here four years ago because he was missing his girlfriend so much. She had left the Czech Republic to take on a job as an Au Pair in Doncaster. With only £20 (UK Pounds) in his pocket he got here. He arrived in Doncaster with the postcard she had sent with her address listed on it. He had no money left but saw a bus with the name of her town on the front. He then walked from stop to stop following the bus until he got to Bessacarr. Unfortunately his girlfriend was no longer interested but she did help find him an Au Pair job with another family.

He still lives with this family, which comprises a middle-aged divorced woman and her three sons. He started off by doing small fix-it jobs for all of her friends. It soon became clear to the woman employing him that he had amazing DIY talents. She then encouraged him to apply for a small business set-up grant. He now has a truck advertising the name of his business on the side as well as a website for the business. He still helps to manage his employer's three children between his working commitments. Fortunately they are all teenagers. In return for this help, he has free board and lodging. When I visited him it was clear that he had redecorated most of the house for her.

Anyway I'm telling you all this because today he called me to say that he had been telling Cathy (his employer) all about me and showed her CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD Book 1. She was completely amazed because it turns out this is her favorite book that she has read over and over again. When he told Cathy he had seen the photo of
Neale and I hugging at the recent workshop I attended, she said she'd like to meet me. Is this synchronicity or what!

ooo000ooo

While doing my regular blog visits earlier this week, I was served this treat. It was so unexpected that I had to click on the link to make sure it was intended for me. There is no way to describe this surprise other than to say it was totally delicious. Thank you again, nc and bh.
Shabbat Shalom - Peace Out, for the weekend.

pic - jen gray

Monday, October 23, 2006

LABELS ...

I spent a large part of my life doing everything possible to avoid labels. In my youth I never wanted to be labeled a rebel in spite of the fact that it came naturally for me to not want to do things the way the rest of my family did. I never wanted to be labeled lazy because I was not passionate about aerobics classes in the 80’s. Most of all I never wanted to be labeled as stupid for any reason at all, ever. In as much as not wanting labels, I never wanted to feel like I had a life that could be fitted into a neat pile of boxes all perfectly labeled.

I promised myself last week that I would make a concerted effort to clean up and clear out my home office. In the context of my work space, ‘clean up’ means that there are no piles of paper scattered all over the surfaces like landmines. Things are filed and sorted and everything is where it should be. ‘Clear out’ means that below the surfaces I am not hiding anything either or fooling myself with the cleaned up surfaces. This meant going through a whole bunch of files and folders and finally getting rid of things that are now outdated. If they were not yet meant for the garbage or shredder, they needed to be put in their rightful place. As I was going through this process, I became conscious of how many frigging labels I was either typing or writing up. I was amazed at how much security and comfort I was gaining from a space that was taking shape by virtue of everything having its perfect little label.
I thought it would be a fun process to intentionally label my experiences from this past week. Having spent so many years trying to avoid and shake off labels, I was now on a mission to come up with as many labels as I could.

Here then, is my week in review … in labels.


For SATURDAY’S REWARD

This came about as the result of a melt-down I had, you can read about it by clicking here.

For SATURDAY’S CELEBRATION
We all say how time seems to pass faster the older we get. Perhaps this year seems to have gone insanely fast for me because I feel like I lost three months of it recuperating from a broken shoulder. It did however seem quite unbelievable to me that Marti and Glenn celebrated their first wedding anniversary on the 14th. For a really special love story, please visit my archived post from October 17th, 2005 under the heading of LICENSE, SHOWER, WEDDING. (Angel – proof that I can’t work out how to do that ‘click here’ linking thing. aaarrrggghhh) Happy Anniversary Glenn and Marti!

For SUNDAY’S MIXED EMOTIONS
This car in front of us en route to Whole Foods caught my attention. Unfortunately it came out totally blurred. You can however see that there are two bumper stickers on the rear of the car. The one on the left reads, “It is the right of every American to arm himself.” The one on the right reads, “Free Tibet.” I got angry at the one on the left as I will never come to terms with the gun laws in this country. I found the conflicting messages such a contradiction in terms that it was amusing, but ultimately, I felt sad for the owner of the stickers.




For MONDAY’S DELIGHT
The "Fire Bush" outside Ross' school.



For TUESDAY’S PANIC
This could easily be called 'Tuesday’s Confession.' For this to have any meaning, I have to direct you to my archives again. (This whole link mystery has to be resolved soon!) My clearing out process brought the packet containing my scarf to the surface. If you click on JANUARY 2006 and scroll down to TUESDAY 3rd – MY SCARF STORY - you will understand why I felt a sense of panic when this happened. I have basically got a few weeks to knit the scarf. The pic below shows how it looks right now. I renew my commitment to an honest update on December 3rd. I could whine about the fact that I couldn’t have knitted for about two to three months even if I had wanted to, but I think that might look even more pathetic than the pic below.



For WEDNESDAY’S SURRENDER
You know it’s time to get out of the kitchen when you squirt ketchup all over the phone. Put everything down, and walk away from the island.



For FRIDAY’S FUN ON MY OWN
DanDan and I went to do some shopping. I chose to wait in the car at one point as it was pouring with rain. I found myself feeling bored so decided to play with my camera phone. I have never done a self portrait with it. I am so critical of myself in pics that I was amused by having had this idea. I took the pic. I am not quite sure what the eyebrow/centipede thing is all about. When it came to posting the pic, I remembered that my Mom had given me some baby pics of myself that she had unearthed on a recent visit to my sister. So here they are, Me Unplugged – 1960 and 2006.



For SATURDAY’S SHOPPING TRIP
On the way to get Ross his Halloween outfit, I thought it a good idea to show some scenes of the neighborhood in preparation for freaky season. Halloween is the perfect time to capture a pic of a graveyard.




For THURSDAY’S LESSON (I have gone out of sequence due to the length of this item.)
A large amount of my time this week was spent in conversation with my step daughter, Alexandra. She has been going through a major shift in her thinking with regard to her boyfriend and the possibility of a marriage commitment. I tried my best to outline to her how essential it is to recognize the importance of being in a healthy relationship with yourself before being able to even consider this kind of union with another. How do you explain this to someone who is young enough to be lost totally to the romance of the situation? How do you explain to someone who in their youth still believes the importance is in the details of a wedding rather than the heart and soul of a marriage?

Many years ago I read a book called THE INVITATION by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. A few months ago I had wanted to give it as a gift to someone but could not remember the title of the book, only the feather on the cover. In my ongoing search I found it and discovered that I could get it on audio disc. I have been listening to it in my car. After this lengthy conversation with Alex, and at time frustration with myself at not being able to put my thoughts across in a way that I felt I had said it in a nutshell, I hoped I had at least got her thinking.

A while later on the same day when I went to get Ross from school, I tuned on the CD to carry on from where I had finished the day before. As her beautiful reading unfolded, the smile on my face got broader and broader. It was as if she had been sent to give me this message to pass on – articulated so perfectly. I have transcribed it to share here, and although it will make for a long post – it makes for a beautiful read. In addition to my excitement about being able to give this to Alex, a picture of DanDan and I popped into my head from when we were living in Amsterdam. This picture is one of my favorites of us. We didn’t know our friend was taking it. It captured a special and tender moment. I feel that it captured the beauty outlined in this transcript.


… I resist the idea that I will be with another only to avoid being alone. Surely the ability to truly be with myself does not exclude the willingness to fully be with another. I do not seek isolation. The longing for another remains even when I am able to be with myself although it is smaller – a whisper that tugs at me gently. Even there in my place of solitude in the wilderness, I found myself at moments wanting to turn to someone and share my awe at the brilliance of the full moon on the still water, the delight of watching the otters playing at the edge of the stream. But the loneliness was bitter sweet and bearable because I knew myself and the world in a way I sometimes do not, when I let my life become too full of doing things that do not really need to be done. Once in a while, trying to find the end of the thread of what wants to be written, I will do a writing exercise that involves finishing the statement – I DON’T WANT TO WRITE ABOUT …

Over the years the statement is most often completed this way – I DON’T WANT TO WRITE ABOUT THE LONELINESS. For years I thought the loneliness, the longing for the other was a weakness. A sign that I had not learned how to be with myself and there have indeed been times when I have wanted to be with someone simply to cover the ache of not being able to find my own company. But I have come to accept that no matter how much I am able to be with myself, no matter how much I like my own company – I still long to sit close to and at times to merge completely with another in deep intimacy – this too is coming home. The completeness of self is found when we can be alone and when we can bring all of who we are to another – receiving and being received fully. This is the sacred marriage. The coming together of two who have met themselves on the road. When two who have this intimacy with themselves are fully with each other whether for a lifetime or for a moment the world is held tenderly and fed by the image they create simply by being together. They can be friends or family, lovers or life partners or simply two strangers whose lives intercept for a moment. They may be telling each others stories, or making love, or sharing a task or sitting in silence together – it doesn’t matter. If having met myself in the empty moments I am willing and able to bring all of who I am to another, receiving all of who they are, then we are truly together. In that moment, in the image our being together creates, we are the manifestation of life holding, creating and feeding life. This is the fullness of the homecoming for which we all long. These moments, these sacred marriages of two bring each person back to themselves more fully.

When I was younger the excitement of proximity and the heat of passion combined with an uneasiness with myself often meant that I lost myself when I was with another. When I was with someone who caught my imagination with possibilities beyond friendship I found it hard to know what I wanted. I was aware only of his wanting me and was drawn by his desire. Now that I am more able to be with myself I seek those I can be with completely without losing myself and when I listen for and follow the quiet but deep impulse to move towards someone moving only as quickly as I can while staying connected to this impulse I find a sweet ease in my body and an infinite tenderness in my heart and I recognize what I have longed for in the nameless ache that has been with me for so many years. The tension eases between my desire for personal freedom and independence, my desire for the solitude of my own company, and my longing for deep commitment and intimacy with others. I find in our time together more of myself and I find in my time alone more of the world.

D2 - CIRCA 1995



 
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