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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

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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.

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.

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.

light1

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.

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.

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.

“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.