In 1982, I received the gift of a lifetime. I was given wings to fly and a safe place to call home. For the first time in my young life, I found solace in the land that my people had called their homeland, Israel. And I was able to close my eyes at night without the fear of being woken by loud screaming or crashing sounds.
For one year, I went to an amazing high school, traveled the country, and found what I thought would be my permanent home. While it wasn’t exactly what happened, it was the most trans-formative experience in my life. With every ounce of my being, I believe I am healthy and vibrant because my brother and his wife gave me the gift of a lifetime; they made it possible for me to go to school in Israel.
Israel provided me with a safety net that had never been afforded to me. I had friends and family that loved the wounded teenager and supported me so that I could emerge into a stronger human being. Kfar HaYarok, the High School I went to, provided me with tools to stretch and to grow as a young woman and a future leader. I am the woman I am, in part, because of my time there.
Thirty-five years later, I am coming to grips that as of Monday Israel is no longer open to me…not really. It is the country that has closed it’s doors to people who are holding her accountable for her actions and who are consciously choosing to boycott Israel on small or large scales. People that love the land, but feel strongly that the Occupation should cease to exist. The Knesset has voted to close it’s doors to people that question. Israel is no longer open to the Jewish people (at least not all). Sigh.
For now, I need to walk gently not with those that read my blog, but for myself. As I sit here mourning the loss of Israel in my life, I am struggling. Will I ever visit my family again, walk the streets of Jerusalem, hike Ein Gedi, climb the hills of Safed, swim in the Mediterranean? Or will I stand with those that actively support BDS and peaceful/non-violent protests?
Before the Knesset ruling, I supported boycotting those that perpetuate the Occupation, but in this moment, I am doing my best to refrain from going to a more dramatic place. Perhaps I will end up there, but tonight, I will just sit with the deep sadness that comes with losing an old friend.
l’Shalom – May we find it in our day!
Note: When I was a child, I was forced to withstand some pretty horrific family dynamics including child abuse; it is all that I knew. Just because it was my norm doesn’t mean it should have been. I feel the same way about the Occupation.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged BDS, child abuse, Ein Gedi, family, friends, future leader, gift, grow, Israel, Jerusalem, Kfar HaYarok, Knesset, non-violent protest, Occupation, peace, Safed, stretch, wings to fly, woman | Leave a Comment »
I don’t think I am alone when I say there are so many things I used to fear and that there are many things that I still fear. . .
I used to fear being destitute with all that that would mean. But bankruptcy in the 1990s and a significant job loss in 2014 didn’t destroy my spirit. While both experiences were anxiety inducing, I found ways to change the tide and become grounded again. I learned to live better within my means and to trust the universe a bit more. Things are still not easy, but for the most part life financially work s (except when it doesn’t). My family really has what it needs.
I used to fear losing my husband and being alone to raise my sons. Divorce after a long separation ended up empowering me to live a more authentic life and provided me with wings to fly.
I used to fear being traumatized by violence, but I not only survived serious childhood abuse, but I survived rape. Some may even say I found a way to not only thrive but to to help others navigate to a safer place whenever possible.
I used to fear loss, but since I live life as fully as I do. I find myself loving intensely and losing those I love sometimes through death, sometimes through abandonment, and sometimes through the realities of time and space. With each loss, I take the good memories and create new ways of living life more fully in the wake of those losses. And I know that while the deep sadness may always inhabit a part of my heart, the ‘dance of life’ continues.
I have always feared for my children’s lives. After nine miscarriages and devastating illnesses, I still do. AND that doesn’t mean I allow the fear to infiltrate the way I live. Instead I open up my arms and reach for life with the many moving parts that that entails. And I (mostly) trust that my sons will take their own journeys.
As Émile Zola said, “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: I am here to live out loud!”
I know that I am blessed. Regardless of what has transpired in my life, I find the inner strength to emerge as the woman I am. On more than one occasion my friends have referred to me a warrior. While I love that term, the term spiritual warrior resonates more deeply for me. All that I do, I do because of love.
Now for honesty, I have always emerged from fear. Always. BUT that doesn’t mean that I do not live in fear.
This past week, I have faced being stalked and feeling threatened by three neighbors. I have been forced to explore what I think about guns, how to handle the myriad of views about what is happening to me, and how to move forward.
Over the last week, I have had people tell me that I have asked for the violent energy by living my life as I do and I have had to wonder if maybe there was truth to what was being said. In the end, I am furious with those that think I should silence the way I live. That is not the world I live in; that is not the world I want to live in.
I am a writer, a protester, and an activist; I am a woman, an educator, and a dreamer. There is so much work to be done and I can not do it by walking in silence.
The man who now sits in the White House and surrounds himself with darkness needs to be held accountable for the way he walks in the world and the trauma he is causing humankind. So, while I am afraid of my neighbors, I have work to do.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged abandonment, bankrupcy, blessed, childhood abuse, death, divorce, Emile Zola, fear, job loss, journey, loss, love, rape, sons, Spiritual Warrior, survive, thrive, trust, universe, violence, warrior | Leave a Comment »
If you don’t like the news. . . .
go out and make some of your own.
~Newsman Wes Nisker’s closing salutation
on radio station KSAN in the 1970s
Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
hatred doesn’t need a disguise.
police aren’t here to protect you.
the kindness of neighbors is not a given.
Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
red traffic lights allow for another three more cars to pass.
minorities expect disdain from every direction.
prejudice can be worn on your sleeves.
Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
giving up is not an option.
I am surrounded by an activist village.
when I feel alone, all I have to do is open my heart..
Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
that things are not always what they seem.
sometimes life is not black or white; in fact it is often grey.
what you see is not always what you get.
Living in Texas, I have learned . . .
there are beautiful people wherever you turn.
sometimes you need to look deeper to find the gems.
patience has a way of paying off.
Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
the importance of finding those that fuel your soul.
that my voice matters and can make a difference for good.
working with others makes all of our voices stronger.
Before coming to Texas, I believed that my voice didn’t matter. In fact, I was so sure of it that I loved my ability to fade into the wood work. That isn’t the case today, I have begun to realize that I have a purpose. And even if I want to hide, I can’t.
There is work to be done – a lot of work to be done.
Over the last two days, I have been blown away by beautiful souls that make up the Pantsuit Republic: Houston Chapter. I have found like minded souls that are willing to do what it takes to make our leaders accountable for their actions and to support the work that needs to be done so that no group of people go marginalized.
I am in awe of what I have found right here in my back yard, in Houston. And I am even beginning to believe that together we can make our world a better place.
Authenticity and compassion reign.
Onward with love, light, & blessings,
presented by: Milky Wave Tie-Dye*
- The tie dye says life in Hebrew; a friend made this for my son Aryeh when he was suffering a life threatening illness. . .it somehow feels appropriate now (different, but right).
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged activists, authenticity, community, compassion, hatred, heart, make a difference, minorities, neighbors, Pantsuit Republic: Houston Chapter, police, soul, Texas, voice' | Leave a Comment »
Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself come from, and where you will go.” Written by Rebecca Solnit, in A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Walking into a total darkness over different terrains is the epitome of sweetness. The darkness soothes my battered spirit, invigorates my entire being, and allows me to go quiet, to get real, allowing me to eventually to emerge a bit more whole.
Only when I go through the ‘open doors’ and into the darkness do I find the light that I am so often seeking.
The seeker in me knows that finding the right doors can often be a challenge. I need to find the space that allows for the freedom to move, to think, and to curl up into a ball so that I can simply be. There has to be enough softness to hold my shedding soul or to cushion whatever is being birthed. I am always birthing a feeling, a thought, a belief, and sometimes a new reality.
Only when I allow myself to face the darkness can I find the light. As Leonard Cohen said so beautifully, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
As I get older, I have begun to realize that I am more fragile than I once believed. The skeletons in my closet are at times overwhelmingly heavy. And happiness is an elusive emotion that is always just beyond my reach. Although I can smile broadly and feel momentary exhilaration, I am filled with a deep intensity that often leads me feeling alone in a crowd even when I am surrounded by my closest friends.
Life isn’t easy. All relationships have their challenges. This is reality.
Have you notice how complicated love can be? Over time, I have learned that love is not necessarily everlasting. All relationships evolve and sometimes we are blessed to evolve in ways that work for everyone and often we are not. This is true for lovers and friends, family members and colleagues. I love as intensely as I live life; that means that there is no protection for my heart. There are times when it will shatter or break. And yet, I love connecting with people even as I understand that all relationships develop in their own unique ways and differently than I think they will.
Butterflies have always excited me. Perhaps this is because they emerge only after they have had their time in a cocoon. Burrowing in the dark allows me to face my deepest, darkest truths; it allows me to face the realities without interruption.
For the most part, I have found that sweetness abounds. Darkness may be part of some of life’s interactions, but not all. My life is full of beautiful connections. Surrounding me are so many beloveds who are doing the holy work of making this world a better place. (Sadly, I lost two friends in the last 14 months; both were engaged in the holy work of living consciously; both lost their lives tragically cut short way too soon.) There are also children that shine their light and give delicious hugs; and there are animals that embody unconditional love. All of this and more make a difference for good.
I am so profoundly aware of the many blessings that surround me at every turn. Inner contentment is often a very real feeling in the core of my being. I love the world I have made for myself and I do not take that for granted.The world I live in is full of beauty; I have learned to treasure that which is worthy. So while I may not be ‘happy’ in the traditional sense, light does fill my world.
Darkness and light are always being navigated. My work is to find the light in the darkness and the darkness in the light. Listening to the shadows that emerge may be the only way to make the world a better place.
May blessings keep us from getting stuck in the valleys and grace keep us from soaring too high from solid ground.
with love and light!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged butterflies, cocoon, complicated, contentment, darkness, door, happiness, Leonard Cohe, light, love, reality, Rebecca Solnit, relationships, seeker, shadows, sweetness | Leave a Comment »
Sometimes we are blessed to meet people who inspire us to be the best people that we can be. You know those people that know just when to call regardless of what is going on in their own personal life. Or maybe the person that understands that in order to make a change in the world they have to be that change. Or maybe that person is someone who knows what they have to do in order to stretch, to grow, to evolve – and does the work! Or perhaps, the person is a dreamer who never stops going after his dreams.
David Steiner was that person and now he is gone. Killed doing what he has done first the first day I met him in 1982 when we were in Kfar HaYarok, a kibbutz style high school in Israel; he died touching people’s lives and making a difference. He died in Uganda while on a beautiful mission of his own creating. If you want to know more, here is an initial link that can lead you to more information. (http://abc7chicago.com/news/chicago-filmmaker-killed-in-uganda-crash/1673697/ and http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/chicago-filmmaker-david-steiner-killed-in-uganda-bus-crash/http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/chicago-filmmaker-david-steiner-killed-in-uganda-bus-crash/)
David and I lost touch after I left Kfar HaYarok, we weren’t initially close as teens, but he was someone who could light up any room he entered. Even as a teen, he stood for what he believed in and did the work that needed to be done. In fact, one of my favorite memories of him was when he worked in the refet, with the cows. If memory serves me correctly, he woke up really early to take care of his calves and then was there whenever the mamas were birthing their babies. David was always where he needed to be.
One of the clearest memories I have of David is that he made every person feel like they counted. And I do not believe that ever changed. Even when we re-connected about six years ago, he became present and available like no time had ever passed. He was so much better than I was at keeping in touch and managing his life.
In this moment, I am devastated for his loved ones and for all of us that at one time or another were touched by David’s presence in this world. I feel like my heart has been crushed, so I can’t imagine how his closest beloveds are coping.
Life isn’t always an easy package to navigate. We change. We grow. We evolve. If we are lucky, we honor how the new road emerges. We develop the skills and work tirelessly to be the best we can be. That is how I see David.
While I was licking my wounds at a failed marriage, job instability, and not living up to my dreams, David chose to consciously live life by opening his eyes and diving into the possibilities with the brilliance that made him the amazing human being he was.
And what I will miss more than anything is the possibilities that he represented. I always felt like spending time with him now would be amazing!!! We didn’t have the opportunity to reconnect in person, but we shared ideas, writings, and life from a distance. We were in touch. I was in closer touch with him because he would often pick up the phone or message me to ask my opinion, share an article, or make sure he was thoughtfully navigating a sticky situation.
At the moment, I am feeling a deep sense of loss. The heart-wrenching pain in my gut is paralyzing and yet I know I need to water some of the seeds that David planted. No problem there, I can’t stop shedding tears. David found so many ways to make the world a better place. My hope and my prayer is that I can embody one spark of the passion and beauty that fueled David’s essence.
Shalom Chaveri (Good-bye my friend), you will forever be missed.
(Note: I want to thank Laura Smolar, a dear friend, who was kind enough to let me know before I found out about David’s untimely death on social media. One of the last things she texted me today was, “Start writing now. . .don’t wait….go, go now!!!” Little does she know how much she sounded like David who ALWAYS wanted to nudge me to reach more of my potential.)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged David Steiner, death, devastation, dreams, evolve, grow, human being, Kfar HaYarok, loss, potential, refet, stretch, Uganda | 7 Comments »
Photo Courtesy of Lori Fortang taking a beautiful photo of her beloved Ren crossing the bridge.
The world is feeling a little dark lately.
Am I unique in this journey? Nope. . .I am really not. I am surrounded by friends that are grappling in very similar ways; they are actively engaging as seekers who simply want to make the world a better place.
In fact a couple of days ago, I asked my friends via Facebook, “Does anyone else feel like they are ‘on a narrow bridge’?” Twenty-eight people responded with the emoticons (like, love, sad) and about thirteen people had more to say. The good news and the bad news is that I have now confirmed that I am not alone.
With every fiber of my being I struggle with the harsh realities that continue to permeate our world, the world of those I love, and even my own personal life. Devastation and destruction can be found everywhere. The world’s climate is struggling at every turn. And people I love are in their own depths of despair. Life is hard.
Here is a taste of what is filling my soul:
- Our political climate is a disaster.
- How could our Trump have been elected to be our next President?
- Finances are tight, but we are navigating.
- How could prejudice and hatred have so much momentum?
- The Middle East is a disaster and Africa isn’t much better.
- The Standing Rock Protests in North Dakota Pipeline are breaking my heart. I want to stand with our brothers and sisters. I want to physically support them with my presence.
- Sometimes I can’t make a difference in the lives of those I love.
- I am struggling to stay connected with all of life’s moving parts.
- I could use help cleaning my house.
When I allow the painful rhythm of the world to carry my spirit, I can find myself lost with a sense of unrelenting helplessness. The beauty is that the moments don’t last, but they seem to be surfacing a little too often these days.
This rawness can easily control my spirit if I allow it to.What I have learned over time is that I have to allow the deep sadness to visit, but I also have to do the work to mitigate it. So that is what I am doing by:
- Surrounding myself with people that nurture my spirit and share my core values.
- Letting go of “anything or anyone that that does not bring you alive.” David Whyte
- Embracing the many truths that are part of my life and becoming transparent with each step.
- Eating better and doing more self care. over a month with nearly no sugar!!! 🙂
- Standing up for what I believe in!
- Donating money to causes that move my soul – not a lot, but what I can.
- Painting and writing, journaling and doodling
With every step, I am actively engaged in the journey of life. Living life fully is not optional; there is too much work to be done. Still some days, I have to listen to the quiet voice that is talking to me and allow for myself to hear the messages of my soul.
Traveling the very narrow bridge means I am moving forward. . . and wow how beautiful is it that I am not alone!
Onward towards the light,
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged David Whyte, destruction, devastation, Donald Trump, donating money, doodling, Facebook, friends, journaling, journey, making a difference, moving forward, Narrow Bridge, painting, politics, spirit, Standing Rock Protests, writing | Leave a Comment »