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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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Passing Another Day

Today would have been my mother’s 87th birthday.

This has been a hard week for me, starting off with Mother’s Day and now this. For others who’ve already mourned the passing of parents, I can understand the feelings that these types of days can amplify. It hasn’t been easy, going through the “firsts”.

The following prayer, by Naomi Levy, mostly says what I’m feeling. There are parts I would edit, add to…but, I thought better of it, and decided to leave it as it is. I’m sure many, if not all, have had the good and the not so good we see in our parents. We live the stressful times when they are with us. Time to let them go now that they, too, are gone.

“I miss you. You gave me my life. You were my protector, my teacher, my moral compass, my comfort. I feel so alone without you. No one worries about me the way you did. No one loves me the way you did.

Please forgive me for the times I caused you pain, and for the times I took you for granted. I can’t begin to fathom all the sacrifices you made for my sake.

I want to thank you for all the ways you blessed my life. Nothing can replace the gaping hole your death has left in my life. But mixed together with ll my sadness, there is a great joy for having known you.

I will remember your smile, your touch. I will remember your laughter, your kindness, your generosity, your determination, your love.

Thank you for the time we shared, for the love you gave, for the wisdom you spread. I will always treasure the lessons you taught me. i will carry them with me all the days of my life. I am so proud to be your child.

May God watch over you and bless you, with gentleness and with love. As you blessed me. Rest in peace. Amen. ”

~from Talking to God, by Naomi Levy (c)

Happy Birthday, Mom.death-lifetime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote by Neil Gaiman
Art (c) DC Comics

Burnout and Disappointments

arnold-1-weary-of-myself-copySo, here we are. A week I’ve been dreading, as I mentioned on Sunday (which was Mother’s Day). It’s now mid-week, and the presence of this coming Friday looms over me. As I’ve mentioned previously, this May 17th would have been my mother’s 87th birthday. It’s a sad week, not as horrible as I thought in those regards…

but…

Today I had a mid morning break. I sat in the school library, trolling the internet for work to apply to. A teacher was already at one of the computers when another came in. Instantly, their conversation was solely on recent deaths in both families. There was nothing for me to do but log off as fast as I could and bolt from the room. I was propelled down the hallway, looking for some refuge. It just came out of nowhere, and the feelings just caved in my head a bit.

Just not what I was expecting. School is full of life; all the little ones just bouncing off the wall. Being aware that it is all about them, their safety and well being, was a saving grace.

Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to Friday.

As to disappointments…I have, since Sunday, received about six rejections from jobs (not even an interview, just that my credentials do not meet what they are looking for). Today, I got a call from a job for the summer (and possibly beyond) that I had high hopes for: they did offer me the job, but only 12 hours a week at $25/hour. Yes, it’s better than nothing, but I have another offer that at least will give me more of a weekly wage during the summer.

So, others would say (and I know who they are) that I should be happy that I did well on the interviews I’ve had and have gotten offers. So many others don’t even get to the interview stage. I get that…it’s just I see a dangling rope in front of me, and while I may grab it, it ultimately is not strong enough to pull me out of the dregs I’m in. Enough metaphor?

I did get a one week residency that will help my June out, so that is a good thing. When saying my prayers, I asked God for some break…this definitely came out of no where and is most welcome. So…thank you, God.

I am weary, God; please renew my spirit. When I despair, fill me with hope. When I feel as if I have no more to give, remind me that my strength comes from You. When I assume that my energy is finite, teach me to see that I am connected to an infinite source of inspiration and goodness.

When I lose faith in myself, remind me that I am blessed with enormous talent and ability. When I get lazy, remind me that there is much work to be done and that there are many people who need my assistance. Teach me to see that my efforts do make a difference.

When I forget why I am doing what I am doing, help me to recover the excitement, the meaning, and the satisfaction that led me to this work. When I lose direction, show me the way, God, back to passion, back to enthusiasm, back to You. Amen.”

~from Talking to God by Naomi Levy (c)

Moving Forward, or Moving On?

moveThere is so much to consider when you are struggling to find a full time job. First is: what do you really want to do? Then comes qualifications, experience, training, etc. Then, what else can you do? What are you willing to do to make not just ends meet but to thrive, even a little bit? Is what you want &/or can do available in your area? Is it time to move on? How long do you persevere when you are not getting an offer?

All of these questions pepper my thoughts on a daily basis.

Where the American system is failing is in education and re-training. With so many adults out of work, or dealing with multiple part time jobs, companies are not looking for people to “think outside of the box” as much as they used to. I’ve been told this by job help specialists. Yet, in many cases, if you don’t push the boundaries, then what options are left open?

If a field is deleting your type of job, you’ve got hundreds if not thousands (depending on the area you live) that are searching for the same job. What makes YOU stand out from all the rest?

I’ve been “one of two” or “one of the top” candidates for way too many jobs I’ve applied to. Without an actual offer of the position, that is hollow. It’s easy for people who work already to see the other side of it, the positive that you made it that far. Without that steady income and benefits: not so much.

So…what do you do?

 

Day 42 – Malchut of Yesod: Nobility in Bonding

Bonding must enhance a person’s sovereignty. It should nurture and strengthen your own dignity and the dignity of the one you bond with. Does my bonding inhibit the expression of my personality and qualities? Does it overwhelm the one I bond with?

Exercise for the day: Emphasize and highlight the strengths of the one with whom you bond.
Excerpt from The Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer, by Simon Jacobson. ©Copyright The Meaningful Life Center, 2013. All rights reserved. www.meaningfullife.com.

Bonding

Friends_Uplift_the_soul

I have been blessed with friends, actual true friends, not just acquaintances (which we all have, and are there at times, but not for the long haul).  I wish and pray for them all the good things that they need in their lives. I hope that I’ve lived up to my end more times than not. It is easy to get lost in your own miasmas of problems.

Here’s to good friends.

Day 38 – Tiferet of Yesod: Compassion in Bonding

Bonding needs to be not only loving but also compassionate, feeling your friend’s pain and empathizing with him. Is my bonding conditional? Do I withdraw when I am uncomfortable with my friend’s troubles?

Exercise for the day: Offer help and support in dealing with an ordeal of someone with whom you have bonded.

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

Tomorrow’s Hope

I don’t understand blind faith. I wasn’t brought up that way. I lived in a house that was haunted by my parent’s pasts, as we all were. My father, a concentration camp survivor, and my mother, a child of the Great Depression. Both brought their own set of outlooks on life, neither the peppiest nor the most joyful. At times, yes, there was pep, joy, laughter in the house. Religion only entered our lives at holiday times and when I was being prepped for my Bar Mitzvah.

Meaning, though, escaped what I experienced. Faith in anything? Never even broached.

Being surrounded by so many near and dear to me who have faith, who hold to a religious belief or calling, has stirred me to delve into what I’ve only skirted around for a very long time. Nothing is an easy fix in this regards: it’s a long road to understanding in the first place, acceptance and embracing in the distance. Some of it comes close at times. I don’t know if I’m fighting it or not: I just know I’m not there.

“Be with me, God. I feel so lost. I can’t seem to escape the dark cloud that hangs over me. Help me, God. Give me strength to combat despair and fear. Show me how to put my pain into perspective. Teach me to have faith in the new day that is coming.

Thank you, God, for today’s blessings, for tomorrow’s hope, and for Your abiding love. Amen.”

~from Talking to God by Naomi Levy (c)

This has been a rough half a year+ for me, and I know I am doing what I can to put myself back on track. I have loved ones to thank for a good part of where I’ve gotten to now. I know that the rest is up to me.

nevergiveup-2

Day 37 – Gevurah of Yesod: Discipline of Bonding

Bonding must be done with discretion and careful consideration with whom and with what you bond. Even the healthiest and closest bonding needs “time out”, a respect for each individual’s space. Do I overbond? Am I too dependent on the one I bond with? Is he too dependent on me? Do I bond out of desperation? Do I bond with healthy, wholesome people?

Exercise for the day: Review the discipline in your bonding experiences to see if it needs adjustment.

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

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.

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.