Monthly Archives: April 2013

What Good Cause Will You Join In Today?

Day 32 – Netzach of Hod: Endurance in Humility

Examine the strength and endurance of your humility. Does my humility withstand challenges? Am I firm in my positions or do I waffle in the name of humility? Humility and modesty should not cause one to feel weak and insecure. Netzach of Hod underscores the fact that true humility does not make you into a “doormat” for others to step on; on the contrary, humility gives you enduring strength. Is my humility perceived as  weakness? Does that cause others to take advantage of me?

Exercise for the day: Demonstrate the strength of your humility by initiating or actively participating in a good cause.

Excerpt from The Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer, by Simon Jacobson. ©Copyright The Meaningful Life Center, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Feeling Less Than

Day 31 -Tiferet of Hod: Compassion in Humility
Examine if your humility is compassionate. Does my humility cause me to be self-contained and anti-social or does it express itself in empathy for others. Is my humility balanced and beautiful? Or is it awkward? Just as humility brings compassion, compassion can lead one to humility. If you lack humility, try acting compassionately, which can help bring you to humility.
Exercise for the day: Express a humble feeling in an act of compassion.

Excerpt from The Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer, by Simon Jacobson. ©Copyright The Meaningful Life Center, 2013. All rights reserved

cslewisIt has not been the best of weeks in how I’m feeling. Even with interviews happening, I still have nothing concrete, and that is unsettling. An interview I had high hopes for I have the gut feeling I will not be called back for the next part of the process. That is upsetting: I know I did the best I could, and while some will say that is all you can do, they may not be in the situation I find myself in.

Yes, this is a recurring theme for me on this blog and what I talk about with my friends. I wish I could do the attitude adjustment I so desperetly need to get through all this. People see strength in me that I just don’t really feel all the time.

So…in this space…

Dear God, please let me find my head above these dark clouds.

There are others who I have that prayer for as well.

I’m also trying to wrap my head around the concept of compassion & humility as expressed above. Today may not be that day that it happens.

Selah

Psalms Chapter 67 תְּהִלִּים

א  לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינֹת, מִזְמוֹר שִׁיר. 1 For the Leader; with string-music. A Psalm, a Song.
ב  אֱלֹהִים, יְחָנֵּנוּ וִיבָרְכֵנוּ;    יָאֵר פָּנָיו אִתָּנוּ סֶלָה. 2 God be gracious unto us, and bless us; may He cause His face to shine toward us; Selah
ג  לָדַעַת בָּאָרֶץ דַּרְכֶּךָ;    בְּכָל-גּוֹיִם, יְשׁוּעָתֶךָ. 3 That Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy salvation among all nations.
ד  יוֹדוּךָ עַמִּים אֱלֹהִים:    יוֹדוּךָ, עַמִּים כֻּלָּם. 4 Let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, O God; let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, all of them.
ה  יִשְׂמְחוּ וִירַנְּנוּ,    לְאֻמִּים:
כִּי-תִשְׁפֹּט עַמִּים מִישֹׁר;    וּלְאֻמִּים, בָּאָרֶץ תַּנְחֵם סֶלָה.
5 O let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
for Thou wilt judge the peoples with equity, and lead the nations upon earth. Selah
ו  יוֹדוּךָ עַמִּים אֱלֹהִים:    יוֹדוּךָ, עַמִּים כֻּלָּם. 6 Let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, O God; let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, all of them.
ז  אֶרֶץ, נָתְנָה יְבוּלָהּ;    יְבָרְכֵנוּ, אֱלֹהִים אֱלֹהֵינוּ. 7 The earth hath yielded her increase; may God, our own God, bless us.
ח  יְבָרְכֵנוּ אֱלֹהִים;    וְיִירְאוּ אוֹתוֹ, כָּל-אַפְסֵי-אָרֶץ. 8 May God bless us; and let all the ends of the earth fear Him.

From Dictionary.com, Selah: “an expression occurring frequently in the [Hebrew] Psalms, thought to be a liturgical or musical direction, probably a direction by the leader to raise the voice or perhaps an indication of a pause.”

“Thought to be” is key, in that it is uncertain (Merriam-Webster), or in grand Wikipedia style,  “a difficult concept to translate.” This Psalms was another piece give to me by Rabbi Pam, in that there are 49 words or phrases, if you count from section 2 on, that match the Counting of the Omer, the days between Passover and Shavu’ot.

So…Selah. An indication of a pause. There has been that indication in my life, a pause, as I move from one aspect of what was a constant in my life to this next phase, this new section to be entered. What it is, I’m just not sure, nor where it will take me, nor will there still be other phases to come. It is difficult to translate, and things are uncertain.

I just don’t like, nor understand, why “…the ends of the earth fear Him.” That is not what I see in all this. There is too much fear already.

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Anyways…

Early on in my writing of this blog, I was given the Inspiring Blog Award as well as an award I just received again (from someone else entirely), the Leibster Blog Award. This time I have been honored by Julia Neiman, who writes the blog Transform For Life. As Julia writes, she sees this as “the Liebster Award, to my way of thinking, is about loving your blog and it being a favorite.  The German word Liebs means love or of love and the word liebste, again in German, means favorite.  So to my nominees, I love your blogs and they are among my favorites.” So, again, thank you Julia.

If you are aware of any of these blog awards, they usually come with a set of “rules” to follow. In this case, the rules are:

  • When you are nominated for the award:
    • You post eleven random facts about yourself
    • You answer eleven questions from the person who nominated you, and
    • Then you pass the award onto eleven other blogs (making sure that you tell them you nominated them) and ask them eleven questions.

Eleven random facts about myself:

I loved spending almost two weeks in Paris, way too long ago; My friends mean the world to me; I found love when I wasn’t looking for it; I enjoy the tv show “Too Cute”; Word games are a passion; So is reading; I believe there is  life out in the universe other than ourselves; that if we could live the lyrics to Imagine we’d be in a better place; I like DC comics more than Marvel, but have enjoyed the Marvel movies; I own a concertina; and music is an important part of my make up.

Julia’s 11 questions:

1.   Are you a new entrepreneur or have you been in business for awhile? I used to have my own theater company, The Brothers Grinn. I founded it and ran it for 12 years.

2.   What is your biggest blogging challenge? Not censoring myself.

3.   What is one goal for your blog?  To help me find myself, reinvent as needed, and if it helps others, then that is a good thing.

4.   If money were no object, what would you do all day long?  I’d travel, first; then most likely write. Volunteer telling stories at children’s wards.

5.   Who is your ideal customer/client?  I don’t have any right now: when performing, adults are preferred right now.

6.   What social media sites are you on aside from Facebook?  LinkedIn, Goodreads, Twitter, a few others.

7.   What is stronger for you, your dream or your doubts?  Depends on the day: I’d rather my dreams carried me along.

8.   What services does your business offer?  Right now, storytelling and Theater Arts workshops (when I freelance)

9.     Do you have a business coach?  Nope

10.   What makes you happiest about your business?  Freedom

11.  What is your biggest guilty pleasure?  “Too Cute” (see above)

So…I will have to think about the 11 I would pass this onto, as well as 11 different questions.

When you awake…

Exercise for the day: When you awake, acknowledge G-d for giving you a soul with the extraordinary power and versatility to endure despite trying challenges. This will allow you to draw energy and strength for the entire day.

Excerpt from The Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer, by Simon Jacobson. ©Copyright The Meaningful Life Center, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Endurance

Counting the Omer – A Spiritual Guide” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson:

Day 25 – Netzach of Netzach: Endurance in Endurance

Everyone has willpower and determination. We have the capacity to endure much more than we can imagine, and to prevail under the most trying of circumstances. Ask yourself: Is my behavior erratic? Am I inconsistent and unreliable? Since I have will and determination, why am I so mercurial? Am I afraid of accessing my endurance and committing? Do I fear being trapped by my commitment? If yes, why? Is it a reaction to some past trauma? Instead of cultivating endurance in healthy areas, have I developed a capacity for endurance of unhealthy experiences? Do I endure more pain than pleasure? Do I underestimate my capacity to endure?

Exercise for the day: Commit yourself to developing a new good habit.

I related,  in the previous post, the Counting of the Omer, the days between Passover and Shavu’ot, that Rabbi Pam offered to me. She also gave me Psalms Chapter 67, which has been broken into 49 sections to contemplate during this time period: the 25th “section” is “…the peoples..”. And, in a final paper, from Ethics of the Sages, “Torah is acquired through 48 qualifications, the 25th is “recognizing one’s place.”

All of this has meaning for me today: I do underestimate my capacity to endure, as these have been trying times. I struggle to keep my head afloat and not get bogged down in things. With “the peoples” and “recognizing one’s place”, this all swirled together today.

hamburger-grand-fast-food-image-345923-article-ajust_650I was in a fast food restaurant, one that long ago stopped being about speed of service but retaining the moniker. What most people still accept as “fast” nowadays has an entirely different meaning then when the term first sprang up. The lines were long inside and at the drive through, being prime lunch time rush.

Only three registers were open: a manager on one end, an employee who had been there for awhile (so I found out), and the line I was on in the middle. This server was slower, unsure of herself, and not being efficient in her putting together orders. It was obvious, but it was not done with attitude or deliberateness: if you’ve ever worked a food service counter, a long line at peak hour, especially when you are fairly new, can be quite daunting and nerve racking. I’ve been there as both hourly employee and manager: I know.

The woman in front of me was verbally insulting about our counter person, before she even got to place her order. Loud enough to be heard by friends on the line over, and certainly loud enough to be heard by the worker. When she finally got to place her order, it was full of special requests, and yes, she was confusing in her ordering. The order taker tried to read it back to her, only to be interrupted by the woman ordering. Then she lambasted her to her face, then turned around to her friend and semi shouted about how bad the girl was.

Behind me, another woman was sighing and moaning about how slow the girl was, how this wasn’t “fast” food. She did it a few times in my ear, which I assumed she was looking for a reaction. I turned and said that the woman ordering was placing four special orders and was confusing. The woman behind me said “well, I’m sure it’s the girl’s fault.”

When it was my turn to order, you could see the mixed feelings of the server. She was hurt, angry, annoyed…it was all over her face, in her eyes. I was torn between saying something to her (in some ways, to forget these impatient people and their ugly manners) and just getting out. Her manager obviously overheard the other woman, but it was too busy to do anything as she had her own line to deal with.

I thanked the girl when I got my own food, but said nothing. The woman behind me? She placed a special order as well, and wasn’t clear on what she wanted (asking for lemonade when she wanted was a frozen fruit lemonade: I heard her order. The woman was in the wrong). Of course, she went huffy with the server as I was leaving. I am sorry I did not take the minute to say something to the manager. I plan to go in tomorrow at a non busy period and say a word to whatever manager is on duty.

Enduring hostility when it is misplaced seems to be a theme today. In listening to NPR earlier today, there were reports from Muslim leaders who spoke about reactions they received over the bombing in Boston. Hate messages, a Muslim mother with a baby carriage being assaulted, and more, because of an assumption that all of one race, color, creed, gender-whatever-is as guilty as a whole.

I guess, in recognizing my place, it is that I should speak out against injustice, no matter what the backlash could be. We the people…something is lost in today’s world.

Compassion in Endurance

Rabbi Pam introduced me to a number of things at our recent meeting. I was unaware of Counting of the Omer: the counting of the days from Passover to Shavu’ot. According to Judaism 101:

“The counting is intended to remind us of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavu’ot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. It reminds us that the redemption from slavery was not complete until we received the Torah.”

Life_EnduranceAs I’m coming in the middle of all this, I will start with today, the 24th day out of 49; this is Week 4-Endurance. Today is Day 24 – Tiferet of Netzach: Compassion in Endurance

The Rabbi also steered me towards a website called Meaningful Life, and I’m just beginning to explore it. In an excerpt from “Counting the Omer – A Spiritual Guide” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson:

Healthy endurance, directed to develop good qualities and modifying bad ones, will always be compassionate. The compassion of endurance reflects a most beautiful quality of endurance: an enduring commitment to help another grow. Endurance without compassion is misguided and selfish. Endurance needs to be not just loving to those who deserve love, but also compassionate to the less fortunate. Does my determination compromise my compassion for others? Am I able to rise above my ego and empathize with my competitors? Am I gracious in victory?

Each day also comes with an exercise of the day. Today’s is:

Be patient and listen to someone who usually makes you impatient.

Right now, it’s a lot for me to take in. I’ll be reading more over the weekend and seeing how this all fits on my current journey. I included today’s information as a jumping off point. It fits what I’m going through, enduring all that I have, trying to change what I can for the better. I also dealt with a few who made me impatient today, and there are other things out there that do add to my impatience. Doing this exercise will be good for me.

What also resonated with me is what went on in Boston this week. The runners who went beyond and gave of themselves, exhausted as they must have been at the end of a marathon. There are so many stories of those who helped others in the aftermath of the blast, those who continued running to hospitals and triage stations to give blood and aid. If there is any symbol of compassion in endurance, those people showed it to the hilt. This was courage, and strength of spirit.

Words I Can’t Play

wordI play Words With Friends (on FB) pretty much every day. It is one of those things that relaxes me, calms me down if I’m agitated, and it helps me focus and think. I don’t care if I win or lose: it’s just that something that I enjoy, and I need to do things that I like. There have been days/times where I just can’t face doing much of anything, and when you are in those types of moods you really do need to do something. Thankfully, those types of moods are passing.

In playing a few games this morning, I made an observation: I will not play the word death or any variation of the word.  I know I’ve done that before, but this time it happened in two different game boards, one right after the other. I made other words, skirting the letter D like the plague. It’s solely an observation, yet it makes me realize that I still have a ways to go in healing, in bereavement.

There is no time limit, nor is there any level I should be at. I just find that I can be stopped by writing a word out in a game, and it causes me to wonder why. As I’m typing this, I can think of one thing: as I wrote above, playing Words W/Friends is something I enjoy. Obviously, I have no joy in the word death, as it relates to my mother & father, my friend Charles, and all too recently the bombings in Boston and Israel. Am I restraining myself to mix in those words to something that gives me pleasure? Probably, that is one answer. It’s all a work in progress.

Anyways…because I needed to divert myself, I looked at a FB group I belong to, and a title I read felt apropos for today: I read the blog To Gyre and Gambol by Thom Brown entitled Say Yes To Life. I encourage you to read it, as Thom re-posted a very poignant speech that was made after 9/11. It is a good fit for the senselessness of what is going on in the world.

I hope you say yes to life, not just for those you know and love, but for the rest of the world.

No More Hurting People

Martin Richard, victim of violence

Martin Richard, victim of violence

Boston Marathon relief effort: How you can help

Boston Marathon Bombings: How To Help

A Prayer For Peace, by Naomi Levy from Talking to God (c)

Let us live in peace, God.
Let childrenlive in peace, in homes, free from brutality and abuse.
Let them go to school in peace, free from violence and fear.
Let them play in peace, God, in safe parks, in safe neighborhoods; watch over them.
Let [married people] love in peace, in marriages free from cruelty.
Let men and women go to work in peace, with no fears of terror or bloodshed.
Let us travel in peace; protect us, God, in the air, on the seas, along whatever road we take.
Let nations dwell together in peace, without the threat of war hovering over them.
Help us, God. Teach all people of all races and faiths, in all the countries all over the world, to believe that the peace that seems so far off is in fact within our reach.
Let us all live in peace, God. And let us say, Amen.

Don’t Dream It’s Over

desertwalkTwo blogs/online friends got me thinking this morning. Thinking is a good thing, I think: it means I’m not just rolling around in the negative dross that sometimes clutters my head. Doug, whose blog has the sub title “Writing through the desert on a blog with no name“, explained to the unenlightened the pop culture reference he was making. That started me off, as I went to a song that I have liked for a long time, which is the title of this blog post, a song by Crowded House. I looked it up on YouTube, and really listened to the lyrics, finding it fit how I’m feeling right now.

Then I read What Holds You Back? by Lisa Kramer on her blog Woman Wielding Words.

There are two things, in my mind, that hold me back: one is myself, who puts road blocks in my own path at times; the second thing are those in front of us who use the word “NO” with such a strong conviction.

As I’m waiting for an important interview to happen (already scheduled, eleven days away and patiently counting), I can’t allow any naysayer to get in my path, I can’t allow any thought that “…it’s over” cross my mind.

It does feel good to get out of the rain.

(for those who won’t click on the video above, here are the lyrics:)

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you’ll never see the end of the road
While you’re traveling with me

Hey now, hey now, don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now, when the world comes in
They come, they come to build a wall between us
We know they won’t win
Now I’m towing my car, there’s a hole in the roof

My possessions are causing me suspicion but there’s no proof
In the paper today tales of war and of waste
But you turn right over to the T.V. page

Hey now, hey now, don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now, when the world comes in
They come, they come to build a wall between us
We know they won’t win

Now I’m walking again to the beat of a drum
And I’m counting the steps to the door of your heart
Only the shadows ahead barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief

Hey now, hey now, don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now, when the world comes in
They come, they come to build a wall between us
We know they won’t win

Don’t let them win
Hey now, hey now
Hey now
Hey now, hey now
Don’t let them win
Hey now, hey now
Don’t let them win
Hey now, hey now

“I don’t know your connection to God…”

all-students-literacy-2I ran a Literacy Games & Activities workshop today. It was, in my opinion, uneven in what I presented, in that the parents expected something that I was not prepared for: getting their kids ready for the state tests. It’s not how or why I teach: teaching to a test is, to me, what is wrong with education today. There is an entire process that needs to be developed, and working on that product (which is what a test ultimately is) goes against my grain.

So, I applied what I could to the various age range in front of me (preK through 5th graders), and for some of the adults who did not speak any English. At times, I was sweating bullets, seeing that what I was doing was not working properly. I had to spin gears immediately and “make lemonade out of the lemons” that I was producing. In the end, I know I did the best I could. People came late (very late, in some cases), some kept going in and out of the session, new ones arrived, and yet…it worked, for the most part. Part two of the workshops happens next Saturday, and I’ll (hopefully) be better prepared.

Now, to the title of this piece…

One of the mothers stayed at the end while I was packing up. She told me not only how much she got out of the session for her kids, but also what a great teacher I am, and that I should be picked up by some school, as she greatly appreciated the way I worked with these kids. “I don’t know your connection to God,” she said, “but I am going to pray that a school takes you on.” She went on to say how they need teachers like me, in the way that I interacted, how I brought things out in the kids without pushing or needling, how I brought a safe environment to learn.

This, of course, put me in my “aw, shucks” mode. Praise like this is humbling.

I hope to live up to these expectations, and I hope that God is listening to her prayers, and mine, and my friends. I know I should be doing something in my discipline, my passion, so that  I can shine through and give to others.

I sometimes don’t know what my connection to God is myself. Sometimes? Most times. It’s not for lack of trying. I’m surrounded by so many good people, and at times, for me, that is what I see as my connection to God.

For me, it’s a start.