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Archive for February, 2011

With incredible awareness comes the penetrating exhaustion that happens when you realize the stories you have been telling yourself aren’t necessarily the stories that are true today.  Infinite possibilities exist where there was once none.  For so long, I was distinctively aware that the Simon and Garfunkel song, I Am A Rock, resonated with my life and my realities.

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark
December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;

It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

There are parts of this song that will always resonate with my soul.  It is the nature of the armor that has kept me safe for 45 years.  The walls that I built have kept me sheilded from the darkness that has sometimes surrounded my life.  Thankfully the darkness didn’t actually shape me into an unhappy individual, but it was a part of my life.

For me, the surreal nature of being a survivor of childhood trauma caused me to become an empowered human being.  I learned to stand strong and stand-alone; there was no choice. All of my life, I felt this need to create and sustain a strong foundation that would not allow anyone to truly penetrate my world.  I always felt the need to protect myself from the world around me.  I am not certain that my loved ones realized what I was doing, but I was always cognizant of the nature of my relationship with others.  Only my children have been allowed into my heart completely; they are the ones that helped me make room for more healthy interactions with others.

In the last year, my resolve to maintain my island facade has been chiseled away, bit-by-bit.  I’ve slowly begun to notice that people have been there for me in the last 10 years.  When Aryeh was sick; there was a band of volunteers and confidants that stood by us and would have been there and the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, there were a few people that should have been there that didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to be available.  It is what it is. When I had surgery, my friends surrounded me with love and commitment; they found ways to take care of both my physical and spiritual needs; some of my friends even helped me through the disgusting recovery process and the temperamental outbursts of recovery.  Friends offered to come and take care of me from both near and far.  Two friends ended up being there to support me along with my family.  Slowly the evidence has been mounting, I am no longer alone in this world; sometimes I choose to be alone.

The abandonment of my childhood does not serve me as a move into what I hope will be the middle of my life.  While I still have parts of me that love to be alone that thrive on the aloneness that I have grown accustomed to living.  A cocoon of love and warmth also surrounds me.  In the last years, I have slowly found friends that love me for who I am; each and every one of them is there for me when I exhibit wisdom and more importantly when I stumble.  My friends will both support me when I cry and laugh with me when I feel excitement. The judgments that surround me start with a basis of love and loyalty; no one is intentionally out to hurt me on a core level.

A few days ago, I celebrated my birthday.  For, perhaps, the first time in my life, I have felt surrounded by love and warmth of friends and loved ones both near and far. The treats, the calls, the texts, the letters, and the love have all touched me deeply. Not only did I receive loving and thoughtful gifts, but also I realized that I have grown to trust in these connections.

Let me be clear, just because I couldn’t always see the love that surrounded me before now, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t there.   Since my early twenties, I have had great friends; sometimes I saw it, but not clearly.  I married a man who was kind to the core and loving; college was the beginning of when I knew that people could love me.  It was my college sweetheart who came to my father’s hospital room when I called him sobbing because my father had just been given his death sentence.  It was my high school and college friends that surrounded me in the six weeks that my father laid dying and in the weeks that followed.

Support and love has surrounded me at nearly each and every life journey; only today am I beginning to understand that the support means that I don’t have to be alone.  I can still love to be by myself, but that doesn’t mean that I have to be a rock or an island.

Today I don’t have to live in the shadow of my childhood; I both love and feel loved.  No one in my life will purposely hurt me in any way. People want to hear my thoughts; my thoughts don’t have to be kept inside.  Others trust my wisdom; my thoughts are worthy of hearing.  I am not invisible and no one wants to violate my soul or my body.  My childhood definitely scarred me, but it has also empowered me to become a healthier human being.

Only now am I coming to understand that I don’t have to live in solitude; I can surround myself with friends whether they live close by or not.  I believe that my children opened the doors for this next stage of my life.   Regardless of all the internal garbage, I have always loved motherhood and trusted the love of my children.  The love grows at every step and the love has helped me to understand the true nature of what love is.

This year’s birthday has birthed a new reality, the vision that I am loved; I don’t have to be alone any longer.

Fascinating.  Humbling. Touching.

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The Journey Song

Lyrics by Debbie Friedman z”l and Tamara Ruth Cohen; music by Debbie Friedman

Where does the journey begin?
Where will we go?
Hours pass, the answers might change
As we keep moving along.

Each Friday night, I light my Shabbat Candles and then recite the blessings to the niggun (tune) of the above song.  I think it is my way of acknowledging that life is always a journey.  With each Shabbat, I can look back to the journey of the past week and celebrate so much of what has been and is.

Like my sister, Miriam, before me, I am doing the dance across the sea.  Instead of timbrels in my hand, I hold my drum and I move with all my heart and soul.

Every day of my life is a journey towards the living.  I am blessed with my ability to breath deeply and with the beat of my heart.  I am also blessed to be a work in progress that is transitioning towards being a sounder and healthier me. I am truly a woman who is filled with so much joy even when I navigate some dark moments.  My life is a gift.

Today I celebrate my 45th birthday.  Grappling with life’s questions and allowing time to answer the questions of my soul is what I do.

The celebration of my life is intense this year; I am not certain why.  It could be that I have just completed counting 45 days towards building an even better foundation for myself.  In truth, while intellectually I know it is huge deal, it ended up being easy to live with the choices I have made.

Forty-seven days ago, I went to the doctor and he told me that due to some health challenges that I had to take myself off of all caffeine and soda. I knew he was correct in his wisdom, plus I decided to take myself off of all added sweeteners (fake and real) with the exception of honey.  Sweeteners are trigger foods for me and they feed into addiction.  Since I have always struggled with weight and food addiction, I decided it was time to take the ‘bull by the horns’ and actively seek a healthy me.

What has happened is that I dropped over 30 lbs; I feel better; and I have more visions for my future.  My mind is so much less foggy and my drive and intuition seems to be soaring.  I am feeling grounded and joyful in ways that I have rarely felt.  While losing the weight is awesome, what I am valuing most is my ability to find my derekh, my prana, my path with much more clarity.

And what I found most profound about this part of my journey is that I had a fairly tough time for only a couple of days.  Days three and four of weaning myself off of highly addictive foods was tough, but then it was really easy.  My body has adapted to these food changes easily; it is as if I should have been this way all along!!  My body is responding exactly as if I am giving it what it needs and it is appreciating my new choices.

With each passing year I am learning to do more things to honor myself.  That doesn’t always come easy, but it is now an integral part of my life.  In order to love myself fully, I have to take care of myself and allow myself wings to fly.

My world is wide open.  While it is still unclear exactly how I will evolve, I am thriving in so many ways and it is my hope that this year will be filled with fabulous physical health.  My body needs to start becoming a sacred vessel in the same way I take care of my spiritual self.  The soul work that I have been doing now needs to make room for a healthier and more conscious physical being.  I am alive.  I want my inner being to be filled with incredible light, spiritual energy, and physical strength.  Only through loving my body, my mind, and my soul will I become that light.

My amazing journey continues. . . .

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It Is What It Is

“It is what it is.”  My father spoke those words as he lay dying.  The conversation might have been one of my more communicative conversations in his last days of consciousness.  While some might take those five words and cringe with an intense realization, I have adapted these same words as my motto for living.

I love life—all of life! Life is full of twists and turns that enable us to evolve to be the people we are.  That doesn’t mean that life is hard or that it is easy; it is simply just life.  Living is an action word and action is what makes us who we are.

Life is full of gifts and challenges.  And with those gifts and challenges we decide how to move forward or more accurately how to live with what is.  I tend to embrace all experiences by reflecting how it makes me feel.  And then I ask myself what was learned from “X”.  I am always learning something; I am always gaining perspective from what happens to me personally and what I observe happening in the world beyond me.

I, like everyone, have moments of feeling challenged, frustrated, and angry.  The good news is that for the most part they are just moments.  The moments pass and I can then focus on the new opportunities and how to move forward with them.  Inner peace is something I work towards on a daily basis through my own spiritual  and writing practice.

My smiles are genuine.  My inner joy is real.  And with each and every emotion, I have an intensity that flows.   I reflect on everything within me, around me, and beyond me.  To the core of my being, I am real.  Those people that know me well generally see me as I am.

Seeing the world as full and filled with blessings allows me to thrive.  My life has included not only euphoric joy but also deep sadness and dark realities.  Somehow I was blessed with a gift of finding the positive moments within daily occurrences and incredible pain.

  • When a challenging situation occurs at work, I tend to consider what is it that I can learn from the experience.  It is what it is.
  • When catastrophes occur, I tend to notice how people are stepping up to the plate to help or how even the horrible times have a few miracles. It is what it is.
  • Car accidents happen at the worst possible times.  Many say, “damn, I am going to be late.”  I tend to say, I am glad I didn’t leave earlier; that could have been me.  Or I am glad no one was seriously injured.  So, I might be late for a meeting.  It is what it is.
  • After Aryeh’s second brain surgery, I had many thoughts racing through my head as I watched him lying in ICU and intubated.  Specifically, I remember thinking that no matter what happened, I was grateful to having him in my life for as long as I have.  Fortunately, he made it through the horrid three years and is now thriving. It is what it is

Life throws us tons of curve balls on a given day; the question we always need to ask ourselves is how are we going to face what comes our way.  I prefer to see the sun shining and the rain as refreshing; others think of getting sunburned and drenched. .. . . . it is what it is.  🙂

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