Monday, 29 June 2009

A day at sea, a dance on the deck

We need balance in our lives. Not just want it, or think it might be a good idea, but need it.

We need to learn, grow and develop our spiritual muscles. We need to pray and study.

And we need to spend an entire day playing in the water like kids, then dance under the starlight on an otherwise empty dance floor.

We need safety and we need to close our eyes a take that big leap of faith.

We need time alone on a Shabbas afternoon to think and grow, and we need time with friends around a big noisy table in a waterside dive bar in the Keys.

We need to float on top of the water and take in the view.

And we need to dive down deep, and almost reach another world.

Saturday afternoon, I meditated on some wonderful ideas, amid the peace of Shabbas. Yesterday, I spent the entire day on a boat or in the water about 10 miles off the Florida Keys...and I finally understood balance. A life lesson amid a day of fun and love and friendship. Not bad for a weekend!

Friday, 26 June 2009


I think I'm a pretty observant person. And yet, I am wondering, because I have noticed a few things lately that it sure seems I should have noticed before. Like:

1) You can be a certain religion your whole life and not really know that religion at all. You can think you do, believe you do, say you do, but in reality, you are darn near clueless.

2) You can know someone for a long time, think you know them, and then one day look up and see them for the very first time. A friend, a family member, a neighbor. In an instant, they become someone new.

3) You can think you know what you like to do and do not like to do, and then one day you realize that you are doing and really, really enjoying a whole bunch of things that were previously on your "don't like to do" list.

This is my brain
This is my brain on awareness.

Pretty cool.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The view from the air

As I was answering a heartfelt e-mail last night, I had a sudden thought.

What if we could see our lives from the air? What if, instead of a mass of incomprehensible twists and turns and detours, we could take off in our spiritual Piper Cub, and look down on the pattern from above?

What would we think of the pattern?

Would we be able to see where we took the wrong fork in the road, and know which way to turn around once we landed? Would we see the bright fields of flowers we've left in our wake, even though we never knew we were sowing the seeds?

Is it possible that we would see that that some of the "mistakes" we thought we made actually protected us from something worse? Would we see where other people's paths cross our own, and our path intersects theirs?

What would it be like to see the picture we're creating with our lives?

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


After days of scorching dry heat and blindly bright sun, I woke up to steely grey skies this morning.

The palm tree fronds are sage tinted in this light, and the air is heavy with the rain that will soon follow. A welcome change.

The contrast is beautiful.

I slept only a few hours last night, but I slept well...happy. Content. A contrast to months earlier when the few hours sleep I got were punctuated with bad dreams and suddenly moments of panicked awakening.

And I realized that it is the change from one experience to another that's making the sweet moments so sweet. The contrast from sunshine to shade. From pain and despair to happiness and hope.

The Rabbi teaching my class recently explained that there are two kinds of miracles in the world. One, easy to recognize, is when G-d steps in and makes something big happen. An against-all-odds recovery, or an unexplainable moment where the inevitable is somehow pushed aside.

But then there are all the other miracles that we call daily life. A rainbow. Food growing in a field. A rainstorm. Things we could and do easily overlook as "just normal." The purpose of study, and of the brachas (blessings) is to make us aware of how all of life is actually a series of miracles. Since we learned that, I have been struck by the miraculous among the mundane.

Today I awoke to another aspect of that. The miracle of contrast. The gift of appreciation we receive when we move from sadness or fear to joy. And even more telling, how sometimes even the move from what looks brighter (sunshine) to an impending storm can be a cause for prayers of thanks.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

A Friday Five on Sunday

Revisiting my old blogging friends, I came across the Friday Five from the RevGal Blog. Okay, so I'm a little late, but here's my take on her five excellent and thoughtful questions from the book Life is a Verb by Patti Digh.

1. What awakens you to the present moment?

My children. Looking at them, realizing that they are on their own path to express this life they've been given brings me immediately to the here and now. I savor our time together, our talks, our laughs...

2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now?

A sunlit palm tree, a pine tree, the railing of my balcony, a large piece of coral on the porch post, a bird house my daughter made and painted.

3. Which verbs describe your experience of G-d?


4. From the book on p. 197:
Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go?

13. 8th grade. Enjoying a childhood in South Florida. Roller skating with friends every week. Taller than I wanted to be. Skinny. Endless energy. Played tennis, swam, rode a bike all over the place. Wrote poetry and drew. Beginning of my now nearly life-long pattern of staying up most of the night, sleeping little. Fan of scary movies. Beginning of conflict with mom. Wanted to be an architect. Read EVERYTHING!

Where did she go? Gave up some some dreams. Still draw and do other art. Write for a living, although not usually poetry. Work, kids and probably self-consciousness make me less likely to play tennis or swim. Still sleep very little. Probably closer to that 13 year old now than I was for years in a bad marriage. Happy being a mom, and feel sadness instead of anger for my mom -- she missed so much. That 13 year old is still here. :-)

5. From the book on p. 88:
If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be?

What job would you do if you didn't need to work for money?

Bonus idea for you here or on your own--from the book on p. 149:
"Go outside. Walk slowly forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. It might be an idea, it might be an object. Name it. Set it aside. Walk forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. Name it. Set it aside. Repeat. . . ."

A name of someone from the past I need to thank
A wish I dare not speak aloud, lest I jinx it
A memory of time spent with my dad at the airport
Something about souls and children that was just beyond my understanding

Friday, 19 June 2009

The price of change

Since I've returned to my blog, I've been considering changing the back ground images. It's a simple thing to do...replace a line of code or two, and wallah, a new look. I could use different photos, or some of my art work.

But even with a minor change like this, there is a price. A certain loss of comfort, of familiarity. No, it's not anything earth shattering -- I am not paralyzed with fear. But there is a tinge of mourning when we let go of the familiar, whether it's a favourite pair of shoes or an outgrown bed...or a blog background. Admit have held on to a worn out, but beloved shirt or pair of shoes or some other item even when a perfectly acceptable replacement (read, new) was readily available.

If we know that these little changes can affect us, why do we pretend that major changes are "no big deal?" Whether the change is positive like a new job or a graduation, or sad like the end of a loving relationship, we as a society want people to "get over it" or "get on with it" with lightening speed.

To look back wistfully is seen as a sign of weakness. The most famous story of this bias against taking one last look is Lot's wife. We all know the the family was fleeing the evil of the city, she takes one last glance back at the place that was her home, and is turned to a pillar of salt. The Rabbis have explained her punishment in a variety of ways, from retribution for her past misdeeds to a result of her lack of complete faith in G-d's order to flee.

But there is another possible interpretation for her look backwards. Perhaps within that city were some good memories. Perhaps the birth of her children or their first tottering steps. A home she had cared for. Memories of her wedding day. So even as her feet carried her forward into the new, and hopefully better, she needed to take one last look. The pillar of salt? Instead of description of a punishment, maybe it was simply a way to vividly describe the tears that fall when we leave something behind for something new. For a moment, as we pause between the old and the new, we are literally frozen into our tears.

According to the Torah, she did not continue on her journey forward but remained as that salty pillar. So perhaps the lesson has two parts. One, that the act of looking back as we move on in life may, for a moment freeze our progress. The problem comes when we stay there, looking backwards, forgetting the journey.

So what does this all have to do with changing my blog background? The images on the screen as of today are a place I left behind three years plus ago. I think it's time stop looking back...time to face forward and move on.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Time for art and for opening to new possibilities

I have the next five days off from work. It's been years since I've had that much time to myself. Wow!

I was supposed to spend tomorrow at the beach with my friend, but she is sick. So I have a new plan. I will work on the art project that is taking up a portion of my bedroom floor, and a significant amount of my mind. I will enjoy my space, and welcome any visitors who happen by. I will spend some time getting to know someone better. I will read and write and treat myself to breakfast out at least once. I will go for walks on the beach. I will care for myself.

Such a gift!!! Five whole days! I am blessed.

Reclaiming my blog

After almost 6 months away, I am reclaiming my blog.

With all of it joys, sorrows, discoveries and musings, the content in this blog represents much of who I have been, who I am for the past couple of years. I have other blogs. Blogs for work. A green business blog. But none of them are a place for personal thoughts, a snapshot of life, a comment overheard, a memory evoked by song or the small of freshly baked cookies...

So I am back. I may have no readers or dozens. It doesn't matter. This is my space. And I'm glad to be home.

The update...6 plus months in 6 lines

OK, here goes:

Went to PA twice, and went to Blog Potomac in D.C. area
Got active in Mosaic and spent lots of time outdoors
Started taking classes at Aish haTorah, keeping Shabbas and holidays
Had a major relationship end
Job expanded to cover lots more areas and I love it
Got a kitten, named her Sanura