Wednesday, November 17, 2010

breakthrough (or is it break-in) in the library...

So further breakthrough this evening, I would say. (I think my prayer to leave behind envy and comparing myself to others is being answered.)  

I went to the local library this evening to pick up a vegetarian cookbook on hold for me along with a few books about writing.  In the dark parking lot, I saw a girl, maybe seven or eight, walking—almost strutting—back straight, head high, a book clasped in an arm that swung as she walked.  She looked so content, maybe even a little proud of herself.  Clearly going to the library and coming out with a choice book was no small thing to her.  It was no small thing to me as a girl either.

When I was a girl, the brick, vine-covered building that housed an uncountable number of books was, of all places with a roof and walls, my favorite.  What a concept: a place that lent books and for free!  And as if that was not enough in itself, it was SO quiet—somewhere that did not permit loud voices, let alone loud, angry voices.  Where else was silence so protected?  The Vineland Public Library was about 12 miles away.   We went maybe once a month, maybe more often.  My parents could barely speak or read English.  I had been waiting impatiently to learn to decipher the code I saw in my father's newspapers, the only printed material besides cereal boxes and the like in our house.  My first time in the hallowed library, I decided I would read every book on its shelves (eventually every book in the world).  I started in the "A" section.  

Another decision made around the same time was that I would write books, too.  I announced to my parents that one day, I would write things that made people laugh and cry.  It was people's hearts I wanted to reach with my words.  By then words had already become sacred containers for me, places to harbor the secrets I could tell no one but God to whom I wrote them.  Words and the necklaces they made strung together in sentences, were also my means of giving thanks and expressing my joy (the latter a state of being to which I did not feel entitled given my parents' suffering under Hitler).  So my tears and my laughter were held by my words; maybe that is what prompted me to say that is what I wanted and believed I could inspire in others.   

So, no question about it, I felt and heard the inner call, a congenital mandate to write.  Then life happened and along the way (very soon after my decision to be a writer),and the child, I was greeted in school and by others with great shaming and other discouraging messages, among them that to want to write was selfish.  There were much better, more generous things to do with my time that would help people.  Writing was only an option if I was good enough to stand out and clearly I wasn’t. 

Fast forward. 

Most visits to the sanctuary of a library in present day are bittersweet.  There is the delight of being in the presence of walls of books filled with pages lined with words.  A unique ecstasy and comfort all in one!  And there is sadness at knowing I will only taste the smallest fraction of those words.  An even greater sadness is that not one of those books on the shelves was written by me.  What happened?  How not to be overcome by a sense of failure—not in the eyes of others, but in my own heart?

Tonight, as usual, I felt the thrill of being in the library.  There is still no place like it.  I decide to browse a bit after checking out The Vegetarian Kitchen and Writing from the Heart, etc.  I see the titles on the spines of the books that seem to me breathing entities—so full of life.  It is especially in the fiction section that I start to cave under the sadness (although I can get hooked among the “self-help,” personal narrative, or books about writing and parenting, too).  What do I feel? 

The voices clamor, accuse, condemn my failure, shouting relentless (under the radar, regretfully, of the guardians of the library’s silence).  There is no excuse, they say.  And it is clearly too late, they punctuate their solid case.  I have no answers for them.  I agree and agree.  But today—today, I am aware of such patterns and want to make a different choice.   So, meekly, at first, but with growing conviction, I try. 

I do not try to outshout the committee in my head, as a friend calls such convocation.  Instead, I speak lovingly and gently to me.  I breathe.  I acknowledge tenderly that it is true: I have loved writing all my life.  It is wonderful to know this has been a calling before I knew the word calling. How fortunate.  And yes, perhaps most of my six decades, I and my life circumstances did not yield to this love such that I created a body of public work.   

And—what if it is not too late?!

What if (in line with the theme that prompted me to write all this) I am meant to write like me—not to write like anyone else.  That’s the deal, isn't it?  The truth.  What if it is not too late to surrender to this life’s passion, to swoon (with awareness and consciousness) into the embrace of this Great Love.  What if nothing’s wrong?!  (Now, that’s a good stretch!)  What if the book I am completing now is the fulfillment of this longing and there is more fulfillment to come.  What if it is not selfish to want to write and to write.  Fiction, no less.  And poetry.  And rants like this one. 

What if, I can bless all those authors of published books, some of which would inspire and move me, and others not?  What if I can fully accept me as I am? What if it is really perfectly fine to write a long rant like this one in order to hold my experience more consciously and to offer it just in case my experience touches another heart.

I am reminded of a poem by Galway Kinnell, called The Sow.  It includes: 
for everything flowers from within of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
 to reteach a thing its loveliness
Surely that is what is happening within me: I am reteaching myself my loveliness.  Such self-blessing will bring about the full blossoming.  Ah, perfect.  My prayer/intention is to allow love, beauty and wisdom to flow through my words as naturally as a flower yields its fragrance.  

What if in truth, this has been happening all along?  
Thank you for listening.

envy is the real snake in eden

what'll it be?

i love (well sort of love) how when one really commits to a profound inner shift (see previous post), life offers opportunities to "practice."  without telling the whole story now (since i am feel called to working on The Tremble of Love), i will just say a bit now.

i have been sprouting an idea re: supporting those wanting to birth an inner book.  i thought of a wonderful name for this endeavor and envisioned creating an ebook offering encouragement in this process.  late last night, i  started creating a blog where i could field questions from people about their needs, which could help inform the creation of the ebook.  today, i googled the name i had given my blog only to learn that it has been trademarked by a British woman (a lovely seeming person with similar passions to mine).  she has written an ebook; i read an excerpt available as an "ebooktaster" online and found it to be wonderful.

i get to choose now whether to go down the old familiar, full of mental potholes road of comparing myself, coming up short and being run off the road into a ditch.  or...

i get to have a new, as yet uncharted, creative response to the "information" revealed.  which will it be?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


one of the habits i want to leave behind is comparing myself to others.  what a weakening activity.  awareness, acceptance, action: means it is good that i am becoming more acutely aware of the many ways i do this.  (true confession: i actually just looked at how many FB friends a woman had and felt deflated!  talk about ego!!!)  acceptance means as i become aware of all the ways i do this, i accept and love myself not an iota less.  action?  hmm.  i can say that i won't do it anymore, but i sense there is more to it than that.  some inner shift that needs to happen, at once subtle and immense.  like moving a mountain with a hearty sneeze.

you tell me: have you conquered/overcome/ renounced/ dissolved....a habit, whatever its nature?  how?

From the album Autumn Splendor 2010 (part of the collection: 3.2 Megapixels of Consciousness)

the cascade of golden leaves in the center is actually a reflection in the water.
wish you could see them shimmer.  (I have a video; maybe will upload that.)

Closest I come to painting.  

Writing The Tremble of Love

So one of these days, there will be a website and a blog for the book that I am completing, The Tremble of Love, an historical novel inspired by the healer, lover of life, the Baal Shem Tov.  A post like this one would then find its home there.  But for now, I shall post here, speaking these thoughts and feelings into the vast empty fullness of cyberspace where millions (or is it billions?) roam with not even a handful stumbling into this blog space.  Nonetheless, it feels good for a few moments to expand beyond the isolation of my little study and (what at the moment feels like) the enclosed space of my mind.

So here's what brings me to post.  The book contains many references to Kabbalah, the Zohar, the Book of Splendor, (arguably the greatest Kabbalistic text), and to Rabbi Isaac Luria, his 16th century community of Kabbalists in Safed, and his cosmology.  What I am facing is how much to include about Kabbalah and in what depth? This is a vast vast subject—a world.   I know that I want to birth two subsequent novels: one set in Safed and the other in Spain when the Zohar first emerged.  For those, I will immerse myself in Kabbalistic texts, teachings, concepts and practices.  The Baal Shem Tov was a great Kabbalist (some even say, the reincarnation of Luria, aka Ha'Ari).  So rightfully, there must be some inclusion of Kabbalah in The Tremble of Love.  How much then to elaborate on the sefiros and the creation of the world according to Lurianic Kabbalah?

There was a false messiah known as Shabtai Tzvi (Shabbetai, Sabbatai) whose movement is crucial to mention in the book and I do.  It is one of the threads pulled throughout the weave of the novel.  But I keep standing on the precipice and avoiding jumping into a deep (dark) exposition of Shabtai Tzvi's specific theoretical and practical  aberrations of Lurianic Kabbalah.  I do some of this--have to, but, much as I might like to wax more philosophical, I know this is territory in which I need more schooling and contemplation in order to be truly insightful.  And how much do my readers want and, perhaps more importantly, need?   I don't want to back away from what would be important and responsible (not quite the word, but can't find the right one at the moment) for me to elucidate.  I am also aware that this is not an academic, pedantic text and do not want it to have that flavor.  HELP!

Some days like today, I rewrite passages that I have already rewritten dozens of times, trying to convey true and useful context (about Sabbatean kabbalah in this case) without either oversimplifying or overcomplicating.  That is precisely the balance I am trying to find.  Truth is to find that place, often one actually needs a GREAT DEAL of knowledge in order to synthesize and reflect essence.

Postscript: It will help to kick the judge off my shoulder who likes to let me know that no matter how I am doing, it is wrong.  Might also behoove me to invite Trust to stand with and in me: Trust that I will do my best and be guided to what is needed that this book be a thing of beauty, inspiration, and love.  It is a primary intention for this book is that it be a sanctuary, that it serve as a refuge—not taking readers away somewhere, but leading them into their own hearts, the place of ultimate refuge.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Expectations 101: How much is enough?

So how many balls does one expect to keep in the air & how many plates to keep spinning if you are not in a circus. Or at least not an official circus. I love some of the balls that have passed through my hands but some times I lose track of them--or not really lose track: I just can't juggle them gracefully and they plop at my feet. I don't say this next thing as a poor me but rather as observation: I never really learned about reasonable expectations. What is enough? How many calls or emails to expect to respond to; how to accept not replying when one so wishes she could be present to these encounters of heart to heart? How many hours to work in a day? How much to do before you can rest? When is it all right not to be "productive"? How challenging to see all those castles in the sky in need of foundations.

All this not meant as lament. Although, I do feel somewhat untrained, naive, and clutzy as a tightrope walker trying to find balance on the taut, narrow highwire of time.

Just thought of those billboards that say: "Got milk?". The billboard of my overtired mind tonight says: "Got illusions?" It's not really a question; I know I got illusions--spinning like dazzling plates under a circus canopy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Interesting to witness an interaction tonight in a small group of women sharing in a teleclass. One woman began sharing some difficult emotions related to feeling isolated. There was such tender genuineness and inquiry as she spoke. Another woman interrupted, starting to give all sorts of advice--even said: "how can we fix you?" This second woman was generous-spirited probably in her desire to perhaps alleviate the discomfort of the first. Nonetheless, I found her interruption annoying (a reaction I initially censored in myself).

I muse on this, neither to judge anyone (including me) nor to fuel or justify my annoyance. I just am reflecting on how we can rush to "fix," to relieve what we perceive as discomfort and/or pain rather than allow it to be there and give space to its expression. This is different than energizing someone's complaining or fault-finding. The first woman tonight was simply sharing very vulnerably (as was our suggested "assignment" in these small groups). I wanted to listen and allow her to express what she was feeling and witnessing about herself.

How often have I not allowed someone to simply "have their feelings" without intervening with the unspoken excuse of helping. I have been most likely to do that with and within myself: not accepting feelings I believe I should not be having rather than letting them be like rain or fog or a maelstrom of sudden, unexpected hailstones.

I would like to allow--in others and in me--the changing, unforecast weather of emotions. I don't need to throw gasoline on raging or smoldering fires, just can elect to be present. No judgment. As little impatience as possible. In this presence, there is peace and there is the power of love. There is connection.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What is it about the late hours? They have a kind of tinny hollowness to them. I am reminded of the thin skinned luminosity of someone in their fifth day of fasting. Glazed and fragile but tenacious all at once. The inhibitors have retired so there is a very thin veil over naked thought. Adrenalin pumps. That figures into the immediacy.

Late night hours when the moon is high and piercing, the coyotes howl, thoughts have weight they shouldn't have.
Overtiredness, a prelude to overwhelm.
Stupid things sounding incisive. Incisive ideas feeling dull. Nothing to be proud of or boast about anymore: pulling an all-nighter to finish a project. It's just plain Dumb.

No wonder little ones tantrum when they are too long without rest. Mad at everything, they need to retreat. Every one does some time--need to pull back away from the whirl, into the center. Sleep does that. Brings you home, refreshes. Allows.

So let me allow sleep now.
This morning the moment I awakened and saw daylight, both my arms—as if on their ownstretched out, palms up in a gesture of:  Halt. Stop.  I watched from inside me.  "You can't resist time," I heard as if from someone else, "it's a current.  Just let go into the current."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quitting Doubt, etc

My dear friend, Chris, selectively sends me links to a variety of inspirational speakers and sites.  So this morning, i clicked my way to Sam Crowley* speaking with GREAT enthusiasm about the power of quitting.  Towards the end of his very animated video blog, I noticed tears welling up in my eyes when he said very encouragingly: become addicted to your passion. I could feel the longing to get out of my own way.

Sam gave the homework of making a list of things we want to quit.  I noticed myself writing at the top of my list: I quit doubting, then paused.  I have made that statement, or at least felt that intention, countless times.  I edited my reply to read something like: I quit letting doubt keep me from moving forward.  I quit fearing my doubts when they arise.

Would love to go further and find a creative, transformational way to embrace doubt (will contemplate this more and welcome you, my few sweet readers to share your reflections!!!)

Also wrote:
I quit comparing myself to others as a way to belittle myself.  instead i choose to notice what i admire and if/how i might wish to incorporate those qualities or aspects into my life.

i quit thinking i have to do it all myself.  (This latter intention leads me to some thoughts and a conversation last night about "mentoring," which will merit another post.

Btw: i cannot yet recommend or not recommend Sam Crowley.  definitely an interesting perspective i will check out a bit further.  stay tuned.

With gratitude for your presence,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A contemplation on taking in and letting go...

Woke up this morning with my attention drawn to "urination."  Besides the obvious reason for focusing on the subject, I knew there was something more—something the process of urination could demonstrate about taking in and letting go.  I actually felt invited to consider this, so I am.  Will explore as I write...

Our bodies know how to draw the nutrition and life-sustaining essence from the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.  We absorb what is needed for our survival and our thriving; the rest is released. A simple explanation for a profoundly complex process, given the exquisite harmony necessary among the internal, unseen elements and systems within our bodies.

Our health, this exquisite inner harmony, also depends upon our interaction with the "outside" world.

We are continually taking in and being sustained—not only by food, water, and air, but also by our experiences.

The morning's strange prompting leads me to look at what I can beneficially absorb and what I might need to release in the context of particular relationships and events. What beliefs and thoughts are actually waste material—the residue of past experiences not fostering growth, but rather creating discomfort?  What can I take from past and present relationships/events that feeds and fuels me?  What am I holding onto that may be interfering with my functioning, let alone my thriving?  Great questions in the interest of my well-being and joy.

I have to go, but I'll be back.  Maybe even will take a closer look at certain pivotal events, discerning the nourishment from beliefs and thoughts absorbed that are depleting. If any one is reading this, you are warmly invited to do the same: to absorb the value and let go what at this point may even be toxic to your well-being—and to witness that out loud in the comments under this blog.

Also, if you are reading this—thanks for listening. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sleep waits, arms open. I keep busy with this or that and do not surrender easily into her sweet, encompassing embrace.  I am tired. The day's plate has been full of hearty nourishment and delicacies. To not stop doing seems a sort of greediness for more moments.  I pause after eating a certain amount of food, knowing there will be more the next meal.  Why not then relish the gourmet array of minutes digested this day, say thank you, thank you, thank you for the plenty, and leave the table.  Then after the days' abundant fare, I can savor the sweet taste of gratitude and the dessert of dreams.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Accepting the "container" of time and space is humbling.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Goodness in Me Bows to the Goodness in You.

There is so much kindness and goodness in our world.  I want to take a few moments to celebrate this.

There is Ginny, the enthusiastic bone-building exercise class leader in her late 70's, joyfully guiding a bunch of us this morning in the basement of the local town hall.  A volunteer, Ginny's eyes sparkle as she leads us in leg lifts with weights tied around our ankle.  Between moves, she tells us about her zumba class at the YMCA, wiggling her hips while she does a side step salsa move.  She LOVES to move and exercise.  After the class, she offers to bring me as a guest to her zumba class, so happy to share what "makes every day better."

There's the young man, not even 20, in the produce aisle of the supermarket, so present as he helps me look for a particular brand of hummus, and so pleased when we find it.  I encounter him again unpacking boxes when I am reaching for a bottle of "Naked Juice," for which I have a special coupon.  When I pick up the one called, "Blue Machine," to read its label, he shyly says (I had not asked), "I like that one a lot."  I nod, put it into my cart.  When I thank him for all his help today, the boy-man pauses, looks right at me, and smiles so widely I feel a smile spread through my whole body in response.

When I inquire, the supermarket florist carefully explains the care of a colorful houseplant on sale.  She agrees to set aside the plant-of-the-week for me while I go pick up a few other things.  She is not there when I return, so I take the plant from the counter along with two bunches of flowers on weekly special. The florist seeks and finds me at the self-checkout, asking if—to protect them— she might wrap the plant and flowers for me.  She waits for me to check them out then fills her arms and heads back to her turf while I continue scanning bar codes.  I have told her I will come to her to pick these up.  Just after I enter my debit pin, she appears arms outstretched, smiling broadly—as if grateful to me.

I come back into the store for some forgotten items and this time choose the express line. As the cashier, a sparkly-eyed woman with a pixie haircut, is taking my Stop'n'Shop card, she pauses, looks up, and asks like it really matters to her, "How are you?"   Paralyzed on her left side, she completes her task one-handedly, rolling my organic apples over so she can read then type in their bar code, etc.  She is smiling widely the whole time like there is nowhere she would rather be.  Like she is so happy just being her, here now—with me.  Thanking me genuinely for bagging, she (despite the line forming) pauses to look at me again, this time genuinely wishing me a great day—just as I saw her do with the woman in line before me.

I could tell you about the acting manager at the Radio Shack store and the young woman at the Starbucks stand in the market, both of them eagerly serving me.  God, how many people seen and unseen serve me everyday!  Sure, some aren't happy where they are and may withhold.   But most of them are giving their energy 100% to their service.  There is little outer lustre and attention for them, no big worldly reward or stature.  But there is another kind of stature: the stature of simple, integrity, of serving with kindness and even love.   I am grateful to be the recipient of their service even when I am not conscious of what is being offered behind the scenes every moment of my day—much of it by the very office bureaucrats about whom I have grumbled and even resented.  So good to be reminded.  Namaste:  God in me bows to God in you. The goodness in me bows to the goodness in you...  

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Moment of Transparency

A family member directed a big dose of pent up anger toward me in a hastily written email today.   What grace to have realized, as I read her note, that her angry outburst actually had little to do with me.  I sensed that her anger (a kind of temper tantrum) erupted from a cache of frustration.  What grace to see this without judging her—or me, which would have been falling into an old, familiar (hopefully rusty and defunct) trap. Once upon a time, I would have taken this individual's resentment personally and let it upset my stomach, my balance, and my day.  Today, although I got a little shaken for a few minutes by the explosion, I pretty quickly found my way back to balance.

As I recognize and take loving responsibility for my own fears (many absorbed as a child), the more I am able to discern and feel compassion for the unconscious fears that dictate the projections of others.  Once upon a time, I did not know that I had a choice not to react to the actions and reactions of others. Now I do know.  

Today instead of reacting to anger with anger, I stepped back.  I spoke my truth in the situation clearly without defense or blame. Then I offered a prayer on behalf of the other person that she might see and be freed from her own inner demons—those limiting fears and beliefs it might be of benefit to illumine with the light of her conscious awareness.  

In my life, transformation has resulted from shining the light into my shadowy places so that love, discernment and wisdom can take the reins and lead the way. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Torah Commentary (Leviticus 9)

A Torah commentary came to my inbox yesterday that I found to be so moving.   It is a rabbinic commentary about the moment when Aaron is asked by Moses to go before “God” and make sacrifices on the altar.  Rashi, the commentator, says that Aaron  hesitated because he felt shame (for having participated in constructing the Golden Calf.  He goes on to say that Moses asked Aaron, “You were chosen for this, so why do you feel shame?”  

The Baal Shem Tov, the rabbi, healer, and teacher of the 18th century, commenting on the commentary, says that it is precisely because Aaron’s spirit was broken, precisely because he could feel this imperfection and humility that he was chosen. 

The commentaries had a huge impact on me.  Why? 

First, I am so moved just to consider the awesomeness of being called to serve, to approach God.  Second, I am moved by Aaron’s hesitation, considering himself a much less than perfect instrument.  Third, I am taken by the Besht* reflecting that those of us who have “fallen” can truly serve. 

 I had been feeling keenly aware of my “brokenness,” my limitations, as I face completing my historical novel about the Baal Shem Tov.  This book feels to be a huge and sacred project—and a way to serve.  The commentary turns upside down the fear that my limitations and my “brokenness” will impede this service.  Instead, the very one whose life I am celebrating, blessed me by telling me that I, just the way I am, am precisely the one for this sacred task.  I have been chosen and have chosen.  Every day, I choose again. 

(*Besht is the acronym for Baal Shem Tov.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back from Exile

Today, I am returning—after months, yes, it has actually been months—away from The Tremble of Love, the historical novel inspired by the life of the Baal Shem Tov, begun over a decade ago and finally completed this past November.  

I am re-uniting not just with The Tremble of Love, i.e., with a "project", but with its essence, which is one with my essence.  This book is a sanctuary, a holy place and container of Love.  It is a vehicle of Infinite Love and is infused by Sacred Presence. 

Ye,t in this interlude which has just passed, I have doubted the book's worth and how it might fare in this world.  I have entertained a troubled mind as my guest, a mind troubling over the book's fate and my own.  Surrender was replaced (albeit relatively briefly) by control, willfulness, and the familiar intruder, doubt.  

I prefer Surrender, which is not to say I do nothing.  It is to say that the doing emerges from connection to my Soul's call rather than from my mind's and ego's "reasonable" arguments and mandates.  Not that those two, the mind and ego, are evil, just limited and, God Bless them, ignorant of the bigger, deeper picture. 

Just a few moments ago, reading about mysticism, the inner mystic breathed an immeasurable sigh of relief.  Reading about what is concealed, I am reminded of a hunger I have known since a girl: the hunger to know the Truth, the hunger to see beneath appearances.  I knew even as a girl that there was—that there is—more to this life than what appeared to be going oo and more to people than what their appearances and even behavior belied.   I saw a tiny inner flame in the girl who spit on me after her mother threw beer cans at her, and I knew it was the flame of love, of her inner goodness. I tried to tell my parents, Holocaust survivors who could not tolerate that point of view.  They warned me against this way of thinking, heaping on its dangers.  They warned of the harm I would bring upon myself and even "my people," were I to believe in the goodness of people who "hate us."  I became confused.  

Why do I write about this just now, I wonder?  

Maybe because that, too, is a story of exile, becoming exiled from my own knowing and eventually forgetting that knowing, but never entirely.  There is a pain that accompanies this kind of separation.  It may not be clear as time passes and consensual reality wafts over it, what the truth is from which one has separated oneself.  But the ache, the deep discontent, the unexplainable sadness or sorrow, indicates the separation.  At least that is true for me.  This is not to blame anyone or even consensual reality!  It is to welcome unity and as Kabir says (paraphrased):  Come back. Come back, Wayfarer.  No matter how many times you have lost the way, come back, come back.  

This morning I am back.  This morning I am holding not only the book I have written with the grace of God, but also my own heart like a trembling bird drawing warmth from my cupped hands, preparing to take flight and to return to its place at the core of my being, both at once.  

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Getting Cozy" with Teenagers

I sit in a room with seven young women between the ages of 14 and 17.  It is a Sunday afternoon and they have come to my home, (the location of the Dance of the Letters Writing Center), to write.  We call these afternoons, "Getting Cozy."  This is a bunch who could easily have "I'd rather be writing" bumper stickers on their cars if they had cars.  It is deep winter in New England and a perfect day to hunker down with writing.  But then, isn't most any day?  

I have offered a few sparks to inspire today's writing.  The primary spark was to play the girls a video of the Starbucks Love Project, in which people from 156 nations, sang "All You Need is Love" on the same day in December of 2009. (For every voice, Starbucks and (RED) donated money to buy and distribute medicine for aids therapy in Africa.)  The reflection of our stunning human diversity and the hope of our unity never ceases to inspire me and moved the girls today as well.  starbucksloveproject  

The silence in a room of people all focussed on what they are creating moment to moment is incomparable.  It is one of my favorite energy fields, (this and being in the midst of a group of meditators). I hear pencils scratching across pages, the tapping of keys. There is pausing and staring into space, then resuming.  In a half hour's time, we will have created what did not exist when we entered the room and first sat together.  Small universes are being created out of "the blue."  

In a few moments, we will read to each other, bearing witness to the emergence of people, places, ideas, fantasy, emotion, and more.  We will be stirred by suspense, laugh together, and feel deeply touched.  Our curiosity will be aroused along with our amazement.  Listening, we will again and again, appreciate the infinite powers of the unleashed imagination, given full permission (and gladly invited) to do its thing. 

There really is no place that I would rather be.

Also posted on "The Grace of Writing" blog. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

I LOVE SYNCHRONICITY!  It's like uttering a message or a prayer in the depth of your heart that you think no one heard and suddenly before you is a tactile response in some form or another.  Minutes after posting the prior post—in which I affirm and invite surrender of struggle—I saw an email from my precious daughter, Nomi titled "good horoscope."  Nomi has never sent me a horoscope in her 28 years.  This one is the perfect mirror of my inner experience: my readiness for a struggle-free existence.  I post it below.

"During the course of this week you will feel yourself unmistakably passing from one life chapter to another, the story line changing without the fanfare you have been concerned would accompany this shift. Mercury brings news that opens a door and you will find yourself walking through it without any of the baggage you have carried for so long. If you look around, you might notice that one reason for this easier than expected transition is the amazing support system you have amassed in the form of good friends. Great healing is possible now, and the more you allow yourself to receive this the more you will be able to recognize your own inner strengths emerging. A struggle-free new life phase begins that allows you to experience your Self as one with the universal forces.            
All you need to do now is let go."

A new beginning

It is the beginning of a new month, the second one of the year, but more than just that.  For me today it is the beginning of being restored to faith—yet again.  The second of the 12 Steps is: "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."  Last month was an "unmanageable" one as I allowed fear and my own willpower in response to that fear to occupy many of my thoughts and my days.  In December, I had completed a project dear to my heart—a novel about a mystic healer—and began to doubt (and, in some ways, avoid) going forward. Without going into the details, I want to affirm that I intend now to paddle with the current not against it.  I will discover what my actions are to be and how I shall attract into my life the needed financial and other resources.  I do know that it is more likely that these resources will be attracted and allowed as I remain in faith and connected to the Power that is both greater than myself and is me.  It is from this Infinite, Refreshing Wellspring I shall drink.  It is from my Divine Inner Director/Employer that I shall ask and receive direction.  

We could call this an experiment.  An experiment in faith, in which I pause to listen for guidance rather than chasing or avoiding my mind's projections.  I am willing to try this differently—to "risk" faith.  
About the dream in the previous post:  I wonder when in my life I was completely filled with a sense of possibility—how far back was that?  Pure possibility!  How can we protect that in our children?  How can we nurture that unencumbered sense of possibility in ourselves?   

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I woke today from a dream in which I was following the guidance to "go and get my biggest dreams out of the basement."  I had gone to the basement and was looking in every box to find the dreams buried there.  (The boxes in which I was searching actually do exist in my basement; they are the ones where my life’s writing is collected.)   I knew that these dreams had been with me for so long.  I recognized, even before unburying the hidden dreams, that I already knew what they were—that I have always known and have also known how to find them.  Now was the time to bring them into the light. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This morning at the end of meditation, I invited ease and presence into my day.  Being open and vulnerable.  Coming to the day and each of my encounters with an unprotected heart.  Being fully present to the one I face—which would be me most of the time. 

What would it be like to move through this day without the sheath of judgment, or identity—or at least with as thin a sheath as possible?  To choose in the moment to be as aware of my energy as of my goals.  To keep my awareness expanded rather than shrunk to the size of a pea-sized thought —or several pea-sized thoughts in the pod of “Should.” 

When the contraction happens, relax.  Open up.  Breathe. Come back to here and now.  Release my automatic grip on future and past.  Not grab onto negative thoughts blowing by like debris in the strong wind.  Close my eyes right where I am.  Root in my Source. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly.  Fall back into my heart.  Bring my mind to rest in my heart.  More breaths.  A kind of calibration. 

Ask for guidance.   Then proceed. 

Today, I may need to do that often.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

awoke at 3 AM.  now it's 4:09 AM. if it was a dream that woke me, i don't remember any of it—can't find even a trace left behind like a trailing ribbon caught on a branch. (a few weeks ago, i actually woke up saying: Ani Tuzman, Reporter: The Inside Scoop.)  this morning, it might have been my lips that woke me, swollen, itching & stinging from this herpes virus.  last week, they looked like a clown's mouth: brightly painted, pink, ballooning lips that practically stretched from my nose to my chin.  i'll be glad when this is healed.  i heard Louise Hay earlier tonight invite us to listen to our bodies.  i have been trying.  the message right now seems to be patience and acceptance.  ironic how acceptance leads to letting go...  i'll try for some more shuteye.  sweet dreams to all of us, eyes open and closed.   sweet letting go, too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Picture a man on a tightrope under a full moon.  He has stepped off the edge of his roof and is walking forward.  Now, picture that he is holding the end of the rope in his hand (instead of the high-wire extending before him, some destination on the other side, such as another roof or one of those platforms you see in a circus). More of the tightrope is unraveled under his feet with each step forward.

This was the image on a greeting card handed me by my friend, Anna, as we sat in front of her wonderful old stone fireplace last Friday night. As I stared at the card, it felt a bit like looking in a mirror, seeing my life reflected back.   

A little over a year ago in the autumn of 2008, I stepped off solid ground.  I was following an inner call first heard 10 years ago.  It was the call to write a book about an 18th century mystic rabbi and healer, the Baal Shem Tov.  For the next ten years, I worked on and off on the book, while juggling the balls of my life and being juggled by life.  

Then the time came when on and off no longer worked.  I yearned to be on all the time, to bring the book to the finish line and hand it to whomever would help bring it into the world.  So I jumped into the unknown, knowing only the passion I felt and the rightness of following a path that did not yet exist.

Not only did the book pull me powerfully towards it, several things pushed: I had turned sixty. My dear mother's Alzheimer's was progressing rapidly, revealing the transitory nature of life and of a sharp mind. And to top it all off, I got a wicked case of the shingles causing me, who almost never gets sick, to consider my mortality.  The time had come not to wait.

I did not even notice the tightrope while I hovered in a timeless groundlessness, devoting myself to the book.  I became a recluse spending most of my waking hours in the 1700's, in the Polish countryside, relishing the company of the Baal Shem Tov and others whose lives he touched, like Leya, Rifka, and Channah, who I grew to love.  

Now the book, The Tremble of Love, is just about complete. Looking down now, I see the tightrope beneath my feet—no destination visible yet.  Before this—despite the "risk" of falling (i.e., failing)— I took step after step in a rich darkness that was sacred space.  Maybe, I was in the womb, being birthed along with the book. Now, I have been thrust into the bright lights of "reality" where I must make my way, carrying the book, balancing carefully until we arrive…

I share here as one who is no more and no less special than anyone else. The image that often arises is that of a flower radiating its particular fragrance naturally. The flower (I imagine) feels no pride, no compulsion, nor is it self-conscious.  It does not doubt its value nor compare its color, form, scent (or lack of scent) to any other growing thing.  To be its beauty, to emanate its fragrance is simply (and exquisitely) is its essential nature, its purpose for existing.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday night. Deep winter in New England (according to the calendar, but not the thermometer). All the things one could do, places one could go like salsa dancing at the old veteran's building (an old building, not one inhabited by old veterans ) a few towns away. There aren't as many options as there are in NYC, Tokyo, Paris, or any number of other metropolitan areas. But here, too, close to Northampton and Amherst, there are multiple choices and opportunities to be social. Most of the time, I choose to stay home—like tonight.

I light several candles, my way of invoking a cozy fireplace. The music that feels just right is the chanting of a mantra, enveloping me in meditative energy, which is what I need now. Most weekend nights, thoughts cross my mind, sometimes scurrying like mice, other times stampeding like a herd of large, loud antelope. These thoughts accuse me of being perhaps not antisocial but most certainly asocial. I consider the truth of this and, not sure, settle on the sofa with a stack of books next to me that all week I have fantasized reading on "the weekend." Up for water, then back down to relax.

Here's where I have to insert something about relaxing. I was never taught how to. It was never modeled by my immigrant parents—not in the farmhouse of my childhood, nor in the suburban Philadelphia duplex where I lived in my teens. On the farm, the pink sectional sofa (for which my parents had saved for years) was shrink-wrapped in heavy plastic. I did not know the word shrink-wrapped then, nor did I know that sofas were meant to be sat on by anyone except for "company." Under the sofa was a Wall-to-Wall Carpet "like rich people have." The Wall to Wall carpet, referred to like it deserved homage, was a non-descript gray color the color of sidewalks. We were not allowed to walk on it just as we were not allowed to sit on the pink sectional, even though it was wrapped in plastic. It was necessary to walk on a portion of the carpet to get from the kitchen to the two small bedrooms, so a rubber mat was laid down for the purpose of treading lightly between rooms with minimal disturbance to the living room. Reserved for company that we rarely had, the Living Room was not lived in, which is an irony I do not think I noticed at the time. Nor did I notice that nobody relaxed.

Relaxing was dangerously close to being lazy and everyone knew that there were great perils in being lazy. It was one of several unofficial commandments: Thou Shalt Not Be Lazy. So maybe this is why it is such a big deal for me to stay home and get cozy on my pale aqua-green cushy sofa. I, too, saved for my sofa—for two years, so I wouldn't have to buy it with a credit card. After it was delivered, I did not sit on it for two weeks. When I shared that with a friend, she suggested we have a sofa-welcoming party and we did, inviting two other friends, all of us sitting together like peas in a pod on the new sofa. I cried.

So maybe I am not asocial, just a happy camper deliciously alone in my small farmhouse (not the same home). A year ago was the first time in my 61 years that I have lived alone—neither with parents, roommates, husbands (consecutively), nor children. My youngest who comes home holidays and summers is (for now) living in a residential school. Some nights, like tonight, the silence is so delicious, the solitude so vast and nourishing, that I remain in my abode alone rather than go out on the town or even just into town. Who knows? Maybe there is a season coming in my life when I will put my boat in with all the other boats and enjoy rowing gently down the stream, merrily. That sounds good, too.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Commas. Talk about imperfection. Despite numerous attempts to study this illusive symbol, my use of commas has not been mastered. There is for me a correlation between being nobody special and being imperfect, making mistakes like writing things with too few or too many commas. Those last words recall a poem, MIDLIFE, that I wrote many many years ago. I shall post it here. It was freeing to write it, to find amusement in that which I at times could take so seriously.


I am learning how to love myself, my knuckles,
the veins behind my knees, the way I clear
my throat too often and am impatient with my children
especially the youngest who was not expected to live—
cut downs in his wrists and ankles, plastic tubes through
his nostrils—the stigmata still there, the dots and dashes
like secret zippers in his flesh.

I am learning to love my unpredictable digestion, the pain
I cannot reach inside my knees, the grossly uneven balance
of good intentions to deeds carried out.
I am loving the hardening of my thighs when I stride
on the too busy street I live on, inhaling the silence
between cars that rush by as if they were on fire.
I am teaching judgment to bend his stiff knees.

I apologize less for being alive, for leaving food crusted
on the forks I’ve washed, for too many or too few
commas when I write, for parents who speak with accents
thick as soup and beliefs they didn’t mean to use like whips.
I watch my gratitude swell like the moon. I keep company
with respect, accept—even see the charm—in my outdated
wardrobe, the seduction of time, that rascal death.
I am laughing as I write... I have spent the last hour+ trying to customize the "classic" blogger template so that it will have a distinctive look rather than appear identical to any number of other blogs using this template. Only moments ago, did I realize that here I was trying to make the blog special and unique! There is NOTHING WRONG with that, with expressing one's individuality and preferences, e.g., giving something like a blog its unique flavor. It just made me chuckle to notice how hard I was working at doing that when, in fact, I like this template, and it is much easier to use as is than to modify a great deal. Ah, EASE! Ease is another characteristic related to being nobody special. All too often ( without me even being aware of it), trying to be somebody special calls forth my perfectionism—not a good friend to bring to all my endeavors, especially to writing. I think it was Natalie Goldberg in either her book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing The Writer Within or in Wild Mind, who suggested writing lousy on purpose, sitting down and intending to write the worst junk in America. In this blog, I will not be trying to write junk. But neither will I be efforting to write something noteworthy thereby running the risk of the Voracious Perfectionist devouring a post on its way to cyberspace. There can be great joy in crafting of words so they render an image or a nuance of emotion just perfectly and delight when the process of careful crafting leads us to discovery. I did this passionately in my recently completed historical novel, The Tremble of Love; I lost myself in getting it just right: true to the character, the scene, the moment...

Here in this blog, as nobody special taking notes on the journey home, I will playfully allow... Words are the containers in which I hold just about everything: my delight, thankfulness, bewilderment, prayer, Love... I first heard the expression: "Don't hide your light under a bushel," from my friend, Annie Bissett (an artist whose light shines through her strikingly original—sometimes whimsical, often profound, always inspirational—Japanese woodblock prints). I have made the decision to let the bushels of words come out from where they might otherwise cower under the dark shrouds of Doubt, Judgement, Not Good Enough, and other shadows cast by fear. I invite you to do the same in your own way: to let your light shine, to bring your full bushels to the festival....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

welcome to the nobody special blog

welcome to the nobody special blog.

How did I get this idea for a blog? Spontaneously at midnight last night. Well that's technically not how, but when. Maybe the better question is "why?"

It's easier to write fearlessly and shamelessly, being nobody special rather than aspiring to be somebody wearing this or that hat, having this or that degree, expertise, notoriety. I have all of the above: Hats. Degrees. Expertise. I also probably have a small measure of Notoriety, or at least a small reputation for my writing groups with children these past 27 years—and with adults for the past 10+. But where were we? Yes, I remember.
I can already tell that writing as nobody special makes it easier to let what wants to flow from me flow—without what I share being anything special at all. This is just my take, my gratitudes, my praise of the holy everywhere, musing, sorting, contemplating out loud in hearing range of anyone who happens to drop by. If I am nobody special, and I am, then the critics can pack their bags and go find someone who IS striving, who they can compare to authorities in her field or whatever else they do. (Really, I am probably tricking my own inner judges; I drop off their radar when I am not efforting to be, say, or do something special.) It's just me reaching from my heartmind with words to yours. A kind of bridge. A bridge that is no architectural feat. A bridge that is nothing special except that all bridges are by nature something special. I say that because anything that spans distances and makes it easier to meet, or simply to get from one side to another, IS indeed something special.