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Archive for August, 2013

(Disclaimer: Long-winded diatribe)

Life has many moving parts and it is our job to navigate each and every one of them.  Even when the journey is challenging, we really have no option.

Those of you that know me well,  know that I use writing as a means of working out all that goes on in my brain.  It is what I do.  If I am not writing, it usually means something is seriously wrong; only rarely does a busy schedule keep me from what I love second only after mothering. This is one of those times that I am working towards figuring out what I really think, so here it goes. . . .  So here is the quiet voice that sometimes goes unspoken. . . .

Loving life comes naturally to me.  I love animal-kind, the earth, and all that surrounds our world.  Yet I struggle on a very deep level; I struggle because so many people make choices to live their lives in ways that I find questionable.  And while I am not perfect; I openly grapple and when I do get thoughtless, I have my sons who remind me to follow by beliefs.

The reality is that life is a finite amount of time.  Death is a given; we will all die at the end our journeys.  My hope is that at the end of my journey I will have made a difference for good.  With every ounce of my being, I pray that my words are always thoughtful, that my actions exhibit kindness for the world I live, and that I live a life with integrity.  I truly want to be the best human being I can be.  And whether I am alive or not, my hope is that my life has touched people and made a difference.

Climbing towards the beach -Topsail, NC  Photo courtesy of Wendy Harris Delson

Climbing towards the beach -Topsail, NC
Photo courtesy of Wendy Harris Delson

As someone who lives consciously that means I have to consider the world around me and the ramifications of my actions.  While there are many non-negotiable in my book, I also realize that I have a lot to learn and I can always be better.  I also believe that we are all a work in progress; it takes time to change.

Now to share how I really feel:

  1. When you shop for anything consider those that have done the work to bring the product to you.  Are they treated fairly? Buying fair-trade makes sense; We should all do our best to shop at stores that pay their staff living wages.  I do realize this isn’t always easy or economical, yet shouldn’t human beings be safe both physically and emotionally.  Possible offenders of not treating the workers fairly include Walmart, world-wide sweatshops, the chocolate industry-to name a few.  Know as much as you can about the products you purchase; know that child slave labor is still alive today.
  2. We aren’t doing our best to create an accessible world.  We can have the best programs, but if our communities are not made in a way that is as accessible as can be that it doesn’t matter what we service or product we are offering.  And as consumers, it is important for us  to make it not-optional that all of us are responsible for making our environments work for as many as possible.  One challenging example is clothing stores:  Wheelchairs need to be able to me freely through the store.  Another example is to provide ASL interpreters when requested for community events; community events should be opened to all.  We need to create better mechanisms to be more inclusive to meet the needs of as many people as possible.
  3. All human beings should have been born to equality.  And it is human beings that are not always operating with that premise.  How sad! And yes, it frustrates me and even angers me too.  Marriage equality for all should be a given.  In terms of religious choices, I respect nearly all religions, but they need to be kept within their houses of prayer.  While some of our teachings do not accept homosexuality, our country should not be guided by religious principles. The Boy Scouts should be accepting leaders that are good human beings; the leaders should not be chosen by their gender preferences.  I love that so many of my Eagle Scout friends have made the choices that they have made; some are trying to change things from within and some have reversed their affiliation with the Boy Scouts.  Making conscious choices is a good thing.
  4. Our carbon footprints matters.  Why are we so wasteful?  I love how people say they recycle, but do they not realize that recycling takes energy.  We are literally wasting paper reams every day.  We are not considering all of the issues of product packaging and how the products come to us.  How far do the products have to travel to make it to us?  Can we go to the store once instead of going 10 times over the course of the week.  Can we walk or  bike to the places we need to get to.  We really can make a difference by learning about how our carbon footprint impacts the world around us.
  5. I love Israel; I do not like her government.  I despise when people think I hate Israel because I don’t like her actions.  Wrong.  I have a right to speak my mind and to make conscious choices in how I live with the knowledge I learn.  I also have to hear what other sides of the story are saying.  Human beings matter and I have the responsibility to care about all humans.  Darfur, Bangladesh, China – I need to be caring about all human beings; if I know governments are making poor choices, I need to use my voice in order to make a difference for good.  This is not just about Israel, this is about taking care of and sometimes supporting those who’s voices aren’t being heard.
  6. If you tell a story long enough, it becomes your truth (even if it is a lie).  The question we all need to ask ourselves is whether or not the story we are telling is in fact the truth.  I have watched how stories and lies have been woven to become truths; and for the first time in my life I am watching people’s positive reputations become altered because of partial stories being told for the purpose of destruction.  I wish some of the adults I knew would get out the high school mentality and stop talking about people.

I am trying to walk gently as I share how I feel.  We are all a work in progress, but I wish that more people cared a little more than they already do.  The good news is that many people are doing amazing work to make our world a better place.

Silence speaks words; so don’t sit in silence.  While we have to navigate the many moving parts of our lives, don’t forget about that we are responsible for making our world what it is. .  Conscious living is a practice; it takes time to develop.  Being thoughtful in our how we walk in the world, our consumption choices and in our activism will ultimately lead to a better world.

May we all choose to live consciously and consider the world that we live in with each and every step we take.

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Morning has always been a gift to me, but over the last decade or more, I sometimes find myself waking up with a deep and momentary sadness.  The good news is that it rarely lasts for long.    Almost as soon as the sun comes up, my spirit improves.  My guess is that it goes back to the years of navigating serious illness within my family; waking up in darkness meant that you were truly alone in this world with only your fears as a visitor.

As someone who often wakes up about an hour or more before the sun rises, this is my struggle; this is my challenge.

Today there is good news, now I have Maddie (my dog); she seems to know her place in my world.  On my darkest mornings, she knows exactly what to do.  She lays across my lap or my feet and she reminds me that I am loved.  She creates a cocoon sensation that allows me to ease into the light that I so adore.

Summer2013AcrossLegs

Once the sun rises, she knows her role as a hungry dog; she tells me that it is is time to put melancholy mood to rest; it’s chow time followed by a walk.

May we all be blessed to have a special creature or two in our lives.

 

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Each day is full of gifts and challenges; moments of joy and of sadness fill our beings.  Each day, we get to decide how to walk through our journeys.

For me struggling is absolutely a part of how I navigate the world.  I seek answers to questions both known and unknown.  I try to solve the world’s problems without a means of making a difference.  I open my eyes and ask others to do the same.  Living life is what I do. To live fully means that I have to grapple with both the pain and the beauty that exists with each step.

And the beauty does exist.  The mountains call to me wherever I walk.  I walk in peace.  Always.  I seek the beauty in each and every person that is part of my world whether for a moment or an hour or a year or a lifetime.  I have the ability to find the good even in those that are dark.  And each evening, the moon reminds me to stay grounded as I lay my head down to sleep.

People are inherently good and human too.  With that comes reality.  Over the years, I’ve come to believe even with the darkness that has sometimes surrounded me, I can find sparks of light.  That’s my job and there is no alternative.  While I have encountered dark people, I have been more blessed to find amazing people wherever I turn.  I have also been blessed to be able to turn darkness into light. That’s what I do!

SunriseSummerTucson

Finding the light amongst the clouds

May each and every one of us find the sparks of life in both the gifts and the challenges.

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redcross

Every other Wednesday, I take 2-3.5 hours out of my day to give platelets.  If I am really honest with myself, I don’t love it.  The good news is that it is only a little uncomfortable (if that) and the Red Cross staff is warm and witty.  And when it is all done I have the ability to make a difference in someone’s life.

For me, deciding to give was actually one of the easiest choices I have ever made.  In July, 1993, my son Aryeh was born with a rare blood disorder.  The ONLY thing that kept him alive were platelet donations.  If it weren’t for some random people donating their platelets, Aryeh would not be in our lives today.  The good news is that he made it and now it is my job to pay it forward.

Today’s reality is that platelets are always running at a deficit; there just isn’t enough to accommodate all the needs.  Here is just an example of how platelets are used for different patients:

  • Bone Marrow Transplant—> 1-2 units daily for 4-6 weeks
  • Leukemia –> 6-8 units daily for 2-4 weeks
  • Liver Transplant –> 10 units
  • Open Heart Surgery –> 1-10 units

So while I might sit for a few hours, my 2 – 3 units is only a pittance of what is needed to make a difference.  Yet what I am giving does make a difference.  Someone’s life can have a chance because I am willing to hang out reading a good book, listening to my iPod, or just, or watching a movie.  How simple is that.

If you haven’t considered giving your platelets before, consider it.  If you aren’t able or willing to sit for so long, volunteer to give whole blood.  There is a lot of blood needed and summer time seems to always be a little low for collections for the Red Cross.

Don’t think about it, if you can give, just do it!  You could be responsible for saving a life. Call 800-RED CROSS or 800-733-2767 to find out about where you can donate.

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For many reasons, the summer of 2001 was absolutely one of the darkest periods in my life.  For 6.5 weeks, I sat watching my father struggle for life and then let go of life.  Exactly 6.5 weeks after discovering he had brain cancer, he was dead.  For the first five weeks he fought valiantly for his life and then he let go.

Watching him beat up his dying body with radiation and then chemo nearly killed me.  I loved my father.  While our relationship was extraordinarily complicated, I hated watching him suffer.  While he couldn’t always take care of me as a child, he loved me and he really did try. And the good news is he came through as a zaydie, he was an amazing grandfather to my children.

During his final week, I looked at my Abba (father) and said, “I am so sorry you are going through this.’ And with that he responded with five simple words that have since become my life’s motto. “It is what it is.”

MugItIsWhatItIs2

Those words have helped me manuever life for over 12 years.  They provide comfort and allow me to accept reality without going crazy.  Sometimes life is beautiful; sometimes life is less than beautiful.  There is nothing simple about life; there are hours, days, weeks when life feels challenging or even crippling.  And there are times when my spirit soars and inner peace fills my soul.  It is what it is!

‘It is what it is’ helps me navigate the world with a little more ease.  While I am still one of the most intense people I know, these words allow me to be present in wherever I am at any given moment.  These simple words remind me to breathe deeply,  to hang on for the ride, to seek the gifts within reality, and to be ok with what is!

What a gift this little phrase has been for me!! Yay!!!  Perhaps in these five words I found the greatest legacy that my father left me.  How surreal that it came during his last days or maybe even last hours of consciousness; 12 years after his death, that thought is resonating with me.

A couple of months ago, two close friends send a gift; this gift was a surprise in every way.  It wasn’t my birthday or even a momentous occasion; my friends were just being the thoughtful and loving people that they are!  As I looked in the box I was so jazzed by what the mug in the box said and then I realized that while the mug came in three unexpected pieces,  the message was still the same.  How ironic!!!  It is what it is!  I love how my friends ‘got me’ !!  The  knew that these words inspire me to walk through the world as I do.  Broken or not, this mug is still making me smile.  How cool is that!?!?!

May we all learn to honor what is even as something different then expected comes our way.

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