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Two Sides

Yesterday, Oklahoma and other parts of the Midwest US were hit by forces of nature. Many died. The numbers are still coming in: 91 when I last checked, with at least 20 of them children. In Iraq, almost 60 people were killed by multiple bombings.  My heart and prayers go out to those who are still around, feeling the devastating losses they must be experiencing.

Today, my SO is expecting her first grandchild, Adriana Grace. The mother is being induced around noon today, and while I wish I was there for the birth, I can also only send out my heart and prayers for a healthy baby to enter this world.

Death and birth: two sides of what goes on around us. Many more will pass away and many more will be born today.  I don’t even know what I’m feeling, as there are so many emotions coursing through me.

When I spoke to the Rabbi yesterday, she gave me more goals to work on: seek out a psalm a day, and find what resonates with me; write a Holy template of my life, the outstanding moments, good and bad, and see what they have brought; and to find gratitude in what happens in the here and now, and give thanks for it, for finding more of what is good in front of me, and that that is (possibly) finding and embracing God in my life.

A lot to think about.

God, please be with the survivors of those who died by violence, from the hand of another or by nature. Please ease their suffering as best as possible, for they will have a tough time ahead of them as they continue on.

God, please be with those giving birth today. May there be healthy babies born; ease their mother’s pain during the process. May love and happiness find them, envelop them, and bring joy.

 

baby feet

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Keep Plugging Away

Metropolis-metropolis-1927-15539876-1641-1152I’ve said to my students, often, that the only real failure is in not trying, not doing anything. I have felt like giving up, as the frustrations (and fear and anxiety) build: not finding a job has taken on its own life, a burden that drags me down way too much.

A dear friend of mine has said that she wishes I could see myself as she, and those who care about me, do. That is really not the problem right now: I really need someone who is interviewing me to see whatI am capable of accomplishing for them. I would love to lift this weight off of my shoulders and move on to whatever tasks are ahead of me in life, not struggle in this rut that I find myself in.

I couldn’t even write anything the last couple of days. I’m starting to find my focus waning again, and I can’t allow that to happen. So…I have to keep plugging along, I have to keep on trying. I can’t afford to give up, nor do I want to.

What I would love to have happen is to have the freedom to unsubscribe from all the job posting alerts I get, as I would not need them anymore. I would love to be able to have the basic gripes and complaints most people have when the montly bills come in, the basic day to day of working, coming home to a safe and comfortable haven, and be able to enjoy time with loved ones.

In the meantime, I have to keep plugging away.

Day 36 – Chesed of Yesod: Lovingkindness of Bonding
Love is the heart of bonding. You cannot bond without love. Love establishes a reliable base on which bonding can build. If you have a problem bonding, examine how much you love the one (or the experience) with which you wish to bond. Do I try to bond without first fostering a loving attitude? Is my bonding expressed in a loving manner?
Exercise for the day: Demonstrate the bond you have with your child or friend through an act of love.

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

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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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.

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.

Needing That Job Recognition

“I really want this job, God; I need this job. Help me, God. Teach me to believe in myself, to see that I am qualified for this position. Calm my fears, God; soothe my nerves. Let me enter this interview with assurance and confidence. Let me speak my mind; let my thoughts flow freely.

Remind me not only to talk but to listen. Show me how to impress without seeming pompous, how to be agreeable without seeming ingratiating, how to be enthusiastic without seeming desperate.

Be with me, God; fill me with strength and faith and light. Let me shine today, God. Amen.”   ~from Talking to God, by Naomi Levy (c)

musicians-looking-for-work

I’ve written out the prayer above for a number of people:

My son came into NYC for an interview: they flew him in after already having an online first interview. He was told that he did well by the people he saw on this trip. If he got the offer it would be great on many levels: for his overall job satisfaction; taking care of a number of financial  hassles; and their moving into the area, being closer (right now they are a 7+ hour drive away). 

I am sending out prayers and wishes for Rich, Jay, Kim, and Sam as they continue/begin their search for new work, ones that are fulfilling and offer them the peace of mind that they deserve. It is hard to look for something new during these times, but when you have to, you have to. *I feel like I am forgetting someone in this, and if so…let this extend to you as well.

As to me, I’ve had another interview, and two calls of interest. The two calls are in my discipline (theater), with the other at least meeting a love I have (of books) in a job I had done part-time before. Making it full time would not be the worst thing in the world.

I just want to not have to worry about paying bills. I’d like something steady, which I never thought I’d say. I thrived, for years, on working piece meal, cobbling an artistic life through performances, workshops, residencies, and the odd part time job. It kept me busy, solvent, and was always challenging. What I’m doing now just isn’t. So…that prayer above:

I do know I’m qualified for the jobs: it is just all the rest. Making sure I do my best on an interview, presenting what I can do in a way that says “you need me on your team!” I’ve been in the top two or three for a number of jobs over the last 8 months: I’m tired of being the also-ran.

It’s time I was the “chosen one.”

If you are looking for a job, I hope this helps you. If you know someone who is desperately seeking, please share it with them if you feel they will benefit from it.

 

Roller Coaster Days in a Roller Coaster Life

rollercoaster“Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fun is?” ~Fortune Cookie message

“Necessity is the mother of taking chances.” ~Mark Twain

“Of all that is good, sublimity is supreme. Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. Furtherance is the agreement of all that is just. Perseverance is the foundation of all actions.”~ Lao Tzu

Like so many, my life has been at times like I was on a roller coaster: moving along, slow at the beginning, then speeding up, heading down at fearful intervals, looping in and around, twisting upside down, sometimes screaming with fear, sometimes with extreme joy. Then it comes back and starts all over again. It’s an emotional journey, and the flat line days are sometimes just as bad. Getting stuck in a rut, unable to find the power to start moving back uphill until something comes along, to push, to surge.

While I am contemplating the thought of forgiveness (for myself, and towards my feelings about my parents, and letting go of past hurts that I carry around way too much), working through the bereavement process, and figuring out who I am at this point in my life, my job situation has never been far from the top of worries.

Yesterday, I was initially turned down for another job I had interviewed for. I wrote, asking for feedback as to why (I had been in for one teaching artist job, winding up being interviewed for three different positions because of my experiences); not hearing back, I called. Four hours later, I get a call for one more reference. Less than a half hour later, I get an email that I am, now, hired to be on their roster. Orientation next Wednesday.

While the end product is great news, it was just an up and down day emotionally (don’t ask about the class I saw that day: the less said, the better).  If I had not written, then called, I am pretty sure the job would have died where it was. If I accepted no feedback from the rejection email, I’d still just be facing the next months as just a substitute teacher as opposed to working within my discipline. As it is, I still don’t know why I was first turned down and then later hired. Crazy making at it’s best.

So, beyond that, which is good news, my days are still going through the mental process of dealing with my life as it is now. I’ve had some very high points, some very low points (really, really low), and too much just coasting along. I am tired of the really, really low points, and the coasting along…it’s not how I want my life to be. I understand the need for complacency and safety for many; just never been part of my make up.

I did pray to God on my way to my morning job. I also prayed after getting the initial rejection, and then again after the phone call I made, and then again later. Did this make a difference? My friend Sam thinks so, as he and my SO put out prayers as well, after hearing about the initial rejection. No matter what, this was answered.

How many times do you just let the “No” stop you from proceeding?

Maybe to open certain doors, we have to knock a lot harder when there is no answer at first.

 

Problems in Meditation

Correct-Meditation-Posture-300x200
Why You Can’t Meditate (and what to do about it)

I Can’t Meditate (Yes You Can!)

Difficulty Meditating

One of the tools I’ve been working on over the past months has been mediation. It was brought up first by Rabbi Pam, then with another person in the wellness center. Trying it at home, I’ve had mixed results. I have a few sites that I visit for guided meditation, finding that I need that “other person” to lead me. On my own, I find it is more difficult for me.

Lately, even the guided mindful meditations are not working. My mind keeps reaching out, moving from one thing to another. My place also is not very quiet, with the constant sound of traffic passing by, noises from other apartments, the hiss of the radiator when the steam comes up. Those noises are more easily dealt with. Sirens, not so much.

The three articles I’ve provided links for (above) give some help, in my opinion, to help the novice mediator. I guess part of my “problem” is that I expect to achieve the peace and tranquility right away, every time. I haven’t been focusing on the now, taking each attempt at mediation for what it is at that time. So, frustrated, I’ll let time pass by before trying it again.

That is not the way to gain anything.

So…setting aside the time each day, as I’ve done with the prayers, is what I will do. Not try, do (Master Yoda!).

I Don’t Have To Believe Everything I Think

7312619_f496It’s lunchtime, quiet, and I’m left with my thoughts,  trying to distract myself from the things that have been bringing me down this week. When you feel a certain way, it is easy for things to take on a life on their own. It becomes too much to handle, when, in reality, it may just be that very small thing unto itself.

I’m able to use the computer during my downtime to either write or apply for jobs (as long as I’m caught up with whatever has been left for me). On Facebook, a friend there wrote a long message: it felt exactly how I’ve been feeling this week. She gave me her permission to copy it here for you to read, and to remind myself, when I come back and re-read my posts:

“A lot of you, especially those close to me, know that I’ve been suffering from a lot of anxiety lately.  I’ve written about it extensively and anyone who’s felt this way knows how exhausting this is.  To make matters worse, I’m even more anxious today for reasons I can’t discuss here. 

You also know that I’ve had faith issues and constantly doubt God.  Well, this morning one thing is clear.  If there’s anything I should be sure of by now, it is that Life/The Universe/God always speaks to me (to us) and to borrow Rilke’s words, “that life has not forgotten (me), that it holds (me) in its hand; it will not let (me) fall.”  Just as I was beginning to feel unbearably anxious, I turned on the television just to watch the morning news and saw a clip of Dianne Sawyer’s interview with Robin Roberts, to be aired tonight. 

After Robin’s bone marrow transplant and being ill for so long, Dianne asked her how she does it, how she overcomes fear and anxious thoughts.  She said she breathes, left foot forward, right foot forward, breathe….Most of all, she said (and this is a reminder we can’t have too much of), she only thinks of NOW.  Nothing else truly counts but the NOW. Yes, Now is good.  Everyone is alive and well and happy.  This is all that matters.

I hope someone else out there finds calm and peace from this long message.  And I pray I carry this lesson with me every moment.  I will do my best.  Blessings to you!  ♥

In comments to what she wrote above, someone gave her the following mantra that they use:

“I don’t have to believe everything I think.”

I hope you are living in a good and healthy NOW, as are your loved ones, and people that you can think of, and send them good thoughts for NOW as well.

I hope your NOW is full of peace, joy, and love.