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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.


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.


“Everything Must Go!”

caratulas_STEELY_DAN-EVERYTHING_MUST_GO-CDWhile I continue to go through cabinets (Thank You, Lisa & Sam!!), papers, et al, the pile of what needs to be looked at is still a big one. I’ll look at contacting an estate sales person, to see what is worth anything and what is tag sale/flea market stuff. Money is money at this point, and any extra finances are helpful in the long run. Plus…

…I just want to be uncluttered.

Downstairs from me, another family is emptying out their mother’s apartment. They had many, many days posted in the building (and I’m assuming elsewhere) to sell what they could, a tag sale. Yesterday, the sign changed to: “Items still left: if you can use it, come in and take it.” That, to me, was sad. Not that they couldn’t make money off of things, but that items that made up part of the woman’s life is now just flotsam.

What makes up a memory worth keeping?

Sam, when he was down, and Lisa too, advised to not just get rid of things willy-nilly, not to make rash decisions in the effort to clean out, cleanse, uncluttered. I know I did that in the first week: it was such an arduous task before me, and the depth of emotions coursing through me just wanted it all gone. I’m glad I did what I did then, and doing it step by step now has served me well, even though it still hits me emotionally. I get to a certain point and I just can’t process any more of it.

I’ve also hit a wall in doing this work by myself: for whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to do it alone. When someone is over, I’m stirred to go through things. When home alone, I shy away from it. Something to talk about in session. Avoidance, yes. I just don’t know why.

In speaking with the Rabbi today and brought up this point. It’s still too raw for me to face all this alone. Everything must go takes on many meanings for me: I have to let go of past hurts and learn how to forgive and move on; I have to part with things that have little to no meaning to me, and even with some things that do; everything must go, eventually.


How Are You Doing?


“How are you doing?”

It haunts, dragging me to the ground

It stings, re-tightening the chest,

It churns, causing my stomach to roil

And my head hangs low

And my eyes are downcast

And whatever else shuts down

For whatever liveliness that still resides drains out

Puddling, dripping, pouring down an abyss

For you feel helpless

For you feel hopeless

For you feel numb

And the platitudes keep coming

For few really want to hear

How you really, really, really feel

For they can’t cope with rawness

And hope they never feel the same

Never have to confront that pain

That emptiness

That fear



How are you doing?


Another piece from Tale Spinning.

While not feeling in the same mode as I was when this was written, it is still a question, or variations of it, that I’m not wild about hearing. I get tired of shrugging my shoulders, mentally &/or physically, about answering how I’m feeling. Still a lot to process.


Amidst the debris of clutter, among the years of things piled upon, chaotic shoving in of spaces, of things of little to no importance due to the distance of time, papers of pain were uncovered. A history unfolded in short passages, messages, of people passed on, most forgotten or unknown to the one riffling through the quagmire of emotions that the refuse brings.

Losing one’s parents is hard enough; uncovering aspects of them that you only thought you knew becomes the harder part to take in.

“Please forgive me…” began way too many letters, or messages in holiday/birthday cards, found among the leavings. Reading what he did was painful enough, so Bill only skimmed along, tossing, tossing, tossing…keeping a short pile that he knew he would confront at another time. Not now, not so soon, and maybe…maybe never. Private thoughts that now are laid bare, never for his eyes in the first place. He thought: Do I have the right/need to know any of this?

Short words of “Love,…,” saying so little, punctuated by messages that left messages of hope and caring, of hurt, pain, and an end to suffering. Is that how they lived for so long, Bill thought, even as he knew the answer. He hoped to escape the yelling, the push and pull games, the neediness from such a young age, and he ran out as fast as he could when he was younger. He knew, though, he could not just abandon, for their world crashed down upon them, and with that crashing he became one of the broken pieces, held together with glue and tape, shattered enough, strong enough. At times.

And then…then, buried snatches of the other. There were the messages of love he now found. They were concealed among the many non-meaning platitudes. They were not long, snippets only, words of caring, of hope, of praise, of cleansing. Bill read these, everyone of them, in full, sometimes again and again. He weighed these few against the pile of pain, and while his own heart was heavy, his chest tight, his stomach roiling…he weighed the messages of love against those of suffering.

Shaking his head to clear the conflict inside, Bill put them all together in one bag, sealing it for now. They could lay still and silent, or battle amongst themselves in the bag. He held his parents in his hands, their words, their wounds, and their care and concern for each other. It was one weight, one mass, and he felt it was equal, balanced enough, as he carried it away with him.


Author’s Note:

I wrote the above for Tale Spinning, my creative writing blog, originally on November 11th. This was the post that spurred Rabbi Pam to ask me to write in the first person and not hide behind any fiction. It was less than a month since my mother’s passing when I wrote this.

I’m going to copy and paste some of that work up here over the weekend. I don’t have a lot of time to write this weekend, so instead, I’ll post what others might not have seen. Since they were the genesis for Opening of Doors, I think it’s only fitting some of the work comes here.


Bad Dreams Are Made Of This


We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
~Nelson Mandela

Another bad dream has me feeling out of sorts this morning. It again involved my mother, with the added bonus of my dad appearing in the latter part of the whole thing. I’m just going to leave it that there were arguments, ill feelings, with my mom…and when my dad appeared, it was just a quieter scene. All in all, it has left me feeling like I didn’t sleep at all.

One thing that has popped up, in the dreams I have carried with me, is something that reoccurs: in an anxiety driven dream I am forgetting someone’s name or giving them a different name. It is usually the former, and it almost always involves their last name, in that I’m trying to reach them and just can’t. I looked up this dream phenomena: the Dream Moods Dictionary says:

To dream that you forget your name or someone else’s name suggests that you are feeling overwhelmed and burdened.  It may also indicate that you have forgotten your true self or your family roots.

So, yes and yes to both overwhelmed and burdened.

As to having forgotten my true self, I believe that to have been true these last four plus months, if not longer. I’m facing a future where I’m trying to figure out where I belong, what I should be doing, alongside the whole thing that not a whole lot of options are presenting themselves to me as of yet.

In the belief in God, my friends who strongly believe tell me of God’s plan, that it will all happen in due time. Don’t push it, have and be patient. What I’m not sure of in these moments is the idea of “what do I do/don’t do?” that is within the parameters or outside of it. What do I push for that is the plan, and what am I doing that is against it?

OK…that, already, has given me a slight headache.

I need to be doing something beyond what I’m doing right now, and I just don’t know what the answer is. So…am I overwhelmed and burdened? Yes…a lot of it by my own hand, in not being more patient.

Two and a half years is a long time to be patient, but time is a man made construct and abstract.

Healthy Love“You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” – Dr. Seuss

“Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.” – Jean Anouilh

“It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.” – John Bulwer

“Love is not consolation. It is light.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


What is healthy love?

When it is not tinged with demands

When it is not cloying, demanding, needy

When it is not attached to so many strings

That you strangle upon the words

That are never truly believed

That bind and hurt and control.

What is healthy love?

It asks for nothing

Is given freely

Demands nothing in return

Stands on its own, refreshed daily

And at night, it wraps its arms around you

Secure, comforting, reaching deep inside

Allowing you to be just that


And caring so much about you

Your well being

Your heart

Your smile

A healthy love envelops without smothering

A healthy love heals

A healthy love is secure

Here is to a healthy love

Which Wolf Wins?

A story I found today:

293533_203577999700349_152312078160275_552605_4193526_n“One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

The grandfather said:

“My son, the battle is between two wolves. One is evil. It is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute. He then asked his grandfather:

“Which wolf wins?

The old Cherokee simply replied:

“The one you feed.”

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

“The conscience of children is formed by the influences that surround them; their notions of good and evil are the result of the moral atmosphere they breathe.”
~Jean Paul

“Compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us.”
~Eric Hoffer

Tomorrow, my mother’s clothing will be picked up. I am donating it to the Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless.  It’s been weeks since everything was bagged, it just took me this long to find the strength to call them with an actual pick up date and time. It feels weird and unsettling, but it is something that had to be done. Not a job anyone wants to have, I’m sure.

She would have fought this tooth and nail, no matter that the majority of the clothing had not been worn or seen in ages. For me, it is part of the cleansing that needs to go on here. I know that I’ll be helping a lot of women in desperate need of warm &/or good condition clothing. Through me, my mother-willing or not-is helping them as well.

I hope that thought, its energy, finds its way out there. I’m feeding the good wolf here, and to me that is a win.

What is Failure?

Not doing something, not trying at all, is, to me, failure. Allowing fear to guide you, avoiding rejection, is just hiding. I’ve taken chances, a number of risks, and not all of them have panned out. I’ve heard “No” a lot more than yes, or been met with silence, which becomes its own “No!” in so many ways. The things that do say “yes”, the things that have come my ways…not all of them were what I had hoped for too. Some, so much more. It is all a crap shoot, and you just don’t know unless you try.

If I hadn’t left the food service industry, I would not have created my theater company. A huge risk financially, but one that paid off creatively and even with the headaches of running a company, was still a pleasure. If I hadn’t asked my ex to marry me, I wouldn’t have my son and daughter, which I can’t imagine not being in my life. If I hadn’t asked my now SO to meet me for a day in Philly, I wouldn’t be in a relationship with a wonderful woman right now. If I hadn’t sought out help after my mother’s death, I’d hate to think where I’d be emotionally right now. All things that have moved my life forward.

So, why do I feel that at times that I am a failure?

I’ve felt that at times in my life, when things unravel. It is depression, anxiety and fear talking. I get that; but, underlying it is a sense of failing, and not understanding why I feel that way.

Right now, I’m torn between the two feelings. Part of it I know is that I’m still on unsteady grounds with finding a full time job, or creating enough of a Freelance life to feel stable. Part of me still really can’t answer the question of “what do I want to do?”; the answer, right now is to pay the bills and not worry day to day. That, to me, is not enough…but, should it be? Am I putting more strain on myself this way, feeling I should be more than what I’m doing at the moment?

Part of me also feels that turning to the prayers, trying to work out who God is to me, what spirituality in my life at this juncture, this crossroads, means…I know it is a big positive. It’s late in life, and I’m finding meaning here and there.

Sorry for the rambling, but this morning…I’m all over the place. I don’t want to feel like a failure, and the pieces of my life that haven’t worked out, I just need to accept them as my past, learn from them, take what I’ve learned, leave the negative aspects behind and move on. I have to find the way to cut the chains that still bind me to them.

I have to try, or that will be failure.

Dreaming of Mom

Mom 2010I dreamt that my mother was alive twice in the past month; confused both times, not understanding that time had passed for her. Both times they were very vivid dreams. Last night, she was rattled but, as was her wont, she would not admit that something was wrong. Instead, what is clear, was that after her initial off kilter moment, she turned to her slow burn anger. I know she said something along the lines that when she talks to [the executor of her late brother’s will] that she would “demand the rest of the money he left me!” The executor “nickel-and-dimed” her (her words) and my other late uncle (who was also allocated money in a trust fund), demanding itemized accounts of what they wanted the money for. He may not know it, but it was galling to her to have to do that: it made her feel like she was begging for it, and it left a bitter feeling for this person.

Obviously, my subconscious was working out my personal frustration and fears over my finances. That was one level, a level I am working on to correct, in many different ways.

The other thing, the one that surprises me most, is how much I miss my mom.

Most of you will probably go “Oh, that’s natural. Of course you miss  your mother.”

Ours was not an easy relationship, and it grew more strained as the years passed. The more she had to rely on me, the more she was angry/depressed, which is understandable. Yet, it was also hard to deal with, on both our ends. We got on each others nerves way too often, and we communicated on completely different wavelengths: she wanted to tell me things; I wanted to have a conversation. I “hid” from her, more times than not, and it was lonely for both of us.  So…missing her? I didn’t want her to die, but I did want to live differently, not be her caretaker, wishing for  things about her that where what I wanted in my Mom, but things that she was either unable to be, or unable to understand. I’m sure I wasn’t the son she wanted all the time either.

We were both difficult for the other, and for that I am sorry. It is not the relationship I wanted for the two of us, but it is the relationship that was. I wish she was here so that we could still try to work on how we interacted with each other, but…If there is a presence beyond our own, then I hope she is aware of all this.

I missed you when you were alive. I missed the words you never spoke, the affection you didn’t give, the apology you wouldn’t make. I missed the relationship we never had, the acceptance you couldn’t offer.

I’ve spent my whole life missing you, longing for the parent you could never be. And now that you are gone, I miss you even more. I don’t want to stop hoping for you to change. I don’t want to stop waiting for you. It’s hard to let you go, to concede that things between us will never improve.

I love you. And though you weren’t able to express it, I believe you loved me too.

May God be with you and bless you with peace. Amen.”

~from Talking to God by Naomi Levy (c)