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Archive for September, 2013

In Breisheet, also known as Genesis, we learn about the creation of the world among other things.   Regardless of how you see the Torah, there are amazing teachings for each of us to consider from both the written words and the white space between the words.  As the fireworks of creation begin, it is hard not to notice how evolution often occurs with a spark, a moment of enlightenment.

IN THE beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.  Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of G-d hovered over the face of the waters.  And G-d said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.  And G-d saw the light, that it was good. . . Genesis 1:1-4

Making things happen takes a light or spark.  Unless you ignite a spark, nothingness will remain.  Silence or quiet lead to nothingness.  If you want to make a difference, you have to be willing to cause some sparks to fly.

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

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

Climbing the steps to inspire change takes a strong belief and some very hard work.  A beautiful vision with a whole lot of perseverance is the only way to make a difference.

In the last few months, I have been struggling with my own personal demons as well as the world around me.   The work has been intense and has forced me to alter some of my connections and grow some new connections.  There are times when I have chosen to sit quietly feeling lost as opposed to opening the doors that surround me in search of solutions to whatever challenges confront me.  While I am always working on myself and reflecting on ways for me to personally grow, now I am realizing that I need to get back to my grassroots way of making a difference in the world outside of my little universe.   I need to be be more of a light or a spark.

Tonight as I listened to Congressman John Lewis speak at the JStreet Conference in Washington, DC., I realized that I have been way too passive since moving to Tucson a year ago.  There are issues to tackle and sparks to ignite locally, nationally, and in the greater world.  Unless I choose to embrace these issues more fully, I am not living with personally integrity.

This journey did not begin tonight. Over the past months, I have begun what I am referring to as the Dance of Emergence.  I have been finding my voice and growing more comfortable with my surroundings in Arizona.  While I have always been a little crunchy or alternative, coming to Tucson made me feel out of my element personally, professionally, and politically.  Leaving DC and the community I loved working with took away my roots.  Instead of planting new roots, I became still and silent in every area of my life.

When Congressman John Lewis said, “You have the power to be the headlights and not taillights.  You can do it.”  I realized that I had to start igniting the world with the beliefs, energy, and love I have.  Silence speaks louder than words and silence leads nowhere.  With silence, change is not possible.

Tonight, I am ready to continue my Dance of Emergence with determination and action.  I am ready to let the sparks fly.  Over the coming weeks, I will share some of the issues that have been filling my thoughts.   I will begin to share my heart more fully as I actively seek how to take the necessary steps to make our world a better place.

Hineini, Here I am!

P.S. – Some of my issues will include:

  1. Israel/Palestine – 2 state solution
  2. fair-trade chocolate and the chocolate Industry
  3. gun control
  4. child advocacy
  5. Jewish education
  6. environmental consciousness

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For so many years, my son, Aryeh, sat incapacitated and barely able to lift his body, let alone a book.  With that in mind, I am touched beyond words that on Simchat Torah, my son lifted the Torah.  Tonight, the entire weight of the Torah rested on the right side of the Torah Scroll and Aryeh was able to do what seemed like a dream at one time.  He lifted the Torah in front of our community.

Photo Courtesy of Gary Tenen

Photo Courtesy of Gary Tenen

Nearly a lifetime ago, when my now 20 years old was barely 14 years old he suffered a debilitating illness that ultimately led to two brain surgeries.  With each breath his life often seemed to wane.  For nearly three years, we prayed for his survival with a hope that he would one day thrive again.  Life was not a given for my beautiful son.

Dreams can really come true.

For what seemed like a lifetime, Aryeh  barely lifted his body out of bed or off the sofa and fora couple years after that he scarcely left the house.  Today is a very different story.  After many years of struggling for health, he has emerged from his desolate life.  Today, my son is a vibrant young man who loves Torah nearly as much as he loves his own life.

As Aryeh lifted the Torah for what is called Hagbah, I was transformed to a time when Aryeh was at death’s door.  A tremendous feeling washed over me as I saw him do what could have only been a dream several years ago.

Photo courtesy of Gary Tenen

Photo courtesy of Gary Tenen

The blessing of today is that nightmares can be transformed into beauty.  With that reality racing through my brain, I will weep happy tears.

I can’t believe my son is alive….Halleluyah!

(Note: Torah is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah)

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In any given day, we have many decisions to make.  Decisions include choices in:

  • Clothing?
  • Food choices?
  • Exercise?
  • Making free time or not?
  • Books to read or not?
  • Schools?
  • Synagogues/Churches?
  • Causes to support with time or money?

Life is full of choices and so many of us abdicate making choices.  Often, we tread the water of life and stick to what we know without living consciously.  Life feels overwhelming; it is what it is.

Big Lake  Photo Courtesy of Libby Quinn

Big Lake
Photo Courtesy of Libby Quinn

Last month, I made a decision to actively engage in life as I am.  With my humor in tact, I decided to emerge from some of my struggles and decide to change my personal approach to reality.  I learned to take deep breaths and focus on each moment instead of life’s big picture.  And the beauty is that once I made that decision, my entire foundation felt stronger and little by little I was able to shed some of my intensity and unhappiness too.  Dealing with moments in time as opposed to the big picture all at once was fundamental in making life a lot more manageable.

As much as Intensity is part of my being, so is sharing my bubbly energy with others.   Both qualities are part of who I am, but for a brief time I was stuck trying to navigate my intensity instead of shining my light into the world.  Once I realized that I was doing this I had to figure out how end a vicious cycle of struggling with all that needed to get done or dealing with my thoughts about what I needed to process.  Every aspect of life didn’t need to be challenging.  Learning to honor my spirit became a key for re-establishing inner peace.  Realizing that I was not being authentic in how I walk in the world allowed me to act and react a little differently; I began to find balance.

Deciding how to walk in the world allowed everything else in my life flows with a little more ease.

Three mornings ago, I woke and was blown away by two realizations that I posted on Facebook.

  1. Isn’t it great to wake up in the morning & realize that something that has troubled you for a long time ceases to be so important?  Moving on….. Letting go…..
  2. Don’t you love when you realize if you stop, slow down, and ease into something – it goes so much better than when you force it.

And then yesterday, I woke up to realize that I had to cancel some of my activities for not only today, but this week.  I don’t want to constantly be moving against the tide; sometimes I want to be able to sit quietly and enjoy the tide without being in the middle of it.

I had been so busy struggling against the tide of life and how I walk in the world that life had become a struggle.  Little by little, over the last month, I found my footing or maybe my wings.  I stopped struggling and started doing each and every task as an individual exercise before moving onto the next task.  The act of moving a little more consciously and multi-tasking less has helped my spirit and allowed me to focus more and tread less in one place.

Feeling enormous gratitude for making a conscious decision to move a little differently and to finding my wings again.

And then today, I found this saying that seems to say everything in a much more concise way then I could.

“Do your thing.  Do it unapologetically.  Don’t be discouraged by criticism.  You probably already know what they’re going to say.  Pay no mind to the fear of failure.  It’s far more valuable than success.  Take ownership, take chances, and have fun.  And no matter what, don’t ever stop doing your thing.” Asher Roth

l’Chayyim, to life!

 

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The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character. Author Unknown

Everything we do matters….

Reflection time. . . .  Over the last few days I have had moments for pause.  With the High Holy Day upon us, I have asked myself so many questions about how I walk in the world and have been honest about myself about I feel about the different interactions I have with not only those I know personally, but the world around me too.  Facing life head on takes courage; it isn’t easy.  But in order to be authentic with my own self, I need to openly reflect and seek understanding for what is, who I am, and who I am becoming.

Human Connections

I love people; I love interacting with nearly each and every person.  I am also sensitive about the interactions with those I adore and much less sensitive with those that matter less as a friend or loved one.  In the last few years, I have come to accept that my spirit can be crushed by the ending or a dark turn in a friendship.  Today, I also embrace the fluttering of my heart when someone walks into my life who I feel has always been there whether the connection is part of my life for an hour or a decade.  I am learning to accept what is.  Reflection. . . .

All of us have to reflect sometime. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Rockland

All of us need to reflect sometime.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Rockland

The first half of my life, I was blessed with some great people at times and many sweet interactions, but I haven’t always experienced deep connections with people.  While loving people deeply has added a beautiful layer within my life experiences, it can hurt too.  Sometimes I miss the life I lived before I felt or cared intensely.  I am not sure why some people touch me deeply and others less so.  The bottom-line is that I am learning to accept that relationships can be complicated and that has to be OK.  I am learning.

What I have learned is that people matter; they always matter.  Finding the beauty in each interaction is the gift I give myself.  Yes some touch me a little more,, but each and every one touches me.

Life Forces

We are surrounded by beauty, by trees, animals, cactus.  The earth is below me; the skies hover above me.  Life surrounds me.  And I am responsible to do my best with the world around me.  I believe that each of us needs to walk gently with the earth at all possible times.  When we have a choice, we should always be live consciously and thoughtfully.  The earth and the skies will be here long after we are gone; we need to remember our role in making that happen.

Last week, I had a conversation with someone who was perplexed why I didn’t want to make the trek with others up to Phoenix for a short meeting.  The  reason was simple to me, but not to this person.  One of many reasons I gave was because it made little sense to drive 4 hours for a 2-3 hour gathering.  His response was that the little things don’t matter, it is the big picture how we live our life.  I didn’t agree; I don’t agree.  Every step we take matters.  Does that mean I am perfect?  Not at all, but I am working on being the best I can be.

This morning, I read the status line that one friend expressed after having a car-free Sunday; this attitude makes sense to me.  May we all have car-free days!

Everything we do matters.

Eating

I am back on my health journey.  With each passing day, I make good eating choices and less than good eating choices.  When I make good choices, I feel great and my weight is easing down.  When I make less than good eating choices, my weight inches up and I don’t feel too good.

I am also becoming more conscious of the different considerations possible for each and every item I purchase.  While I don’t have the money to do everything I want, I do have the ability to make choices and to grow in a specific directions.  My considerations include, buy are not limited to:

  • organics vs. conventional foods
  • whole foods vs. processed foods
  • packaging
  • animal by-products vs. non-animal by-products
  • carbon footprint (local vs. distance)
  • fair-trade vs. slave labor/poor employment practices
  • cost
  • etc.

With each choice comes many layers of complexity worthy of consideration.  My job as a human being is to consider what goes into eating and to make the best choices as I move forward.  Over time, my hope is that I will better align my values with my food choices.

Reality

Yesterday, I drove an hour each way to be with a community that I adore that was having a traditional ‘memorial service’ that takes place during this time of year.  I joined the community to honor both those that have passed and those that are alive and thriving.  Did I have to drive over two hours? No, but sometimes I need to make choices that have many implications.  In this case, I did what was right!

When we live consciously, we make choices every day.   And every choice we make has an impact on the world we live.  And each choice comes with a cost to our health, our environment, our world.

May we all do our best as we walk in the world.  Everything we do matters.

Here is a small list of what I have been doing over the past weeks.  What are you doing that makes a difference for others in some way?

  1. After reading one of my blogs, a reader took the time to tell me how my writing touched her.  While that doesn’t happen often, the fact that it keeps happening keeps me inspired and writing.
  2. A couple of months ago I reached out to a man who might have single-handedly saved my life.   Approximately 33 years ago, I worked with a counselor who gave me some well needed to tools for taking care of myself.  While many of my friends were experiencing normal junior high trials and tribulations, I was struggling to survive a traumatic childhood and using mind altering substances to help me on this journey.  With the help of this one special man, I was able to make different decisions and while the next years were far from good, I made it!!!!Last month, I found him and told him.  The timing was great and in the end, I was able to touch his life when he needed it! I am so happy that I reached out.
  3. Every time I go to the grocery store, I smile at the cashiers, the baggers, the stockers – I love making them smile.  And when I go to the check-out stand, my phone always goes away so that I can interact with those around me.
  4. So often I notice trash on the ground and then I pick it up.  Why not?
  5. A friend called to tell me that they now by fair-trade chocolate because of our family.
  6. I have donated boxes and boxes of good items/books to those in need and to organizations that run thrift shops that benefit organizations that are doing good work.  As I simplify, I am hoping that others can benefit.
  7. Gave money to a friend who nearly ran out out of gas and asked her to pay it forward when the time was right.
  8. Saved a rabbit from a coyote!!!! 🙂

Everything we do matters.

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Years ago, I learned that there is no option for walking through life with a positive disposition.  This lesson has been handed to me again and again on a silver platter.  I’ve chosen to find light in darkness and light when there was seemingly little or no hope.  Early in my childhood, I strived to find something good in each and every challenge.

As someone who has been battered as a child, struggled with tremendous loss as an adult, watched her children struggle with health/life within their short lifetimes, and struggled with some hard challenges as an adult, I don’t believe in letting the tough times bring me too far down.  I believe in always finding the gifts within the challenges!  And I have received so many gifts over the years!!

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin Did you notice the butterfly? :)

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin
Did you notice the butterfly? 🙂

I didn’t realize that I had the ability to find the gifts within the challenges until one day when one of my sons was in critical condition.  He had been struggling with health for so long and I didn’t want him to suffer any longer.  As sedation was enabling him to rest in his hospital room, I quietly told him that Imma (mommy) and Abba (daddy) would be OK if he needed to stop fighting for his life.  With tears streaming down my face, I told my little one that we were the luckiest parents in the world to have him in our lives for as long as we did.  I didn’t want to let go, but I knew that I might not have a choice; I didn’t want him to worry.  Little did I know that I would have to say that again in my lifetime, but I truly believe that people are gifts for as long as they are in our lives.  Today, I am profoundly grateful that my children are both vibrant and healthy individuals; I am grateful that both of them survived their health challenges and one doesn’t even remember them.  I am also happy that I learned something positive about myself as I faced the years of darkness.  There are always gifts within the challenges; sometimes they are more difficult to see at first, but over time they can be found.

My hope for you is that you shouldn’t be faced with the challenges that were once part of my life.  In my case, I did make it through and you can too.

Many years have passed since I faced that kind of darkness, but the lessons have stayed with me.  There is truly no option for allowing darkness to control me.  Yes there are moments when I am angry or sad, lonely or unhappy; they are moments.  The key is that I have to trust that the moments will pass and all will be OK.

I always get to decide how I navigate the harshness that life sometimes brings.  Working within a large community, I face all sorts of people and all sorts of moods.  My job is to embrace those people where they are and to move us forward without allowing their sometimes bad mood to bring me down.  I have a choice; I always have a choice.  And the great news is that most of my interactions with the world around me are really quite beautiful; enjoying life as I do means finding the gifts at every turn.

For me, finding the blessings that surround me is really not an option.  Can you say the same thing? I hope so!

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The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
~Rabindranath Tagore 

Intensity permeates my being at nearly every moment.  It is what is – my essence.

Recently, I made a decision.  I needed to choose a state of being that would allow me to walk a little more gently with myself.  With the help of my coach, I developed a new way of thinking and a respect for one of the most beautiful creatures on this earth.

Phot courtesy of Jack Kanis

Photo courtesy of Jack Kanis

Butterflies.

Butterflies are absolutely breathtaking; they touch what they need and then flutter to the next place, never seeming to stay in one place for very long.

As part of my mission to simplify life and how each moment affects me, I imagine my energy being similar to that of what I think a butterfly might be.  Instead of allowing my intensity or anxiety for life’s realities to wrap me in a cocoon, I am breaking out and doing what I need to do with a purpose.  There are tasks/actions that need to be accomplished, so I do them and move onto the next thing.

With the butterfly as a guiding metaphor, it is helping me function better with daily life tasks like dishes and laundry.  At work, I am being more successful at completing the administrative tasks that often hang over my head.  And as I simplify, the butterfly image is allowing me to clear away space by space, instead of becoming overwhelmed by the entire picture of what ultimately needs to be done.

By utilizing the butterfly as a state of being, I am finding that many personal interactions are also evolving.  My relationships are improving or perhaps I am choosing to navigate them differently than I ever have; they feel healthier.  As I spend less time needing to explain myself or make things right, I am letting go and moving forward much quicker than I have ever done before.  If it isn’t about me, I am not owning it.  At the same time, if it is about me, I am dealing with things much more directly and then letting go.  I am learning to accept the dynamics that each human interaction brings – some are good; some are more of a struggle.

Seeing the butterfly as a state of being that I can capture is transformative.  Slowly I am learning to find the nectar that exists in each and every moment without needing to capture it in a permanent way.  While instant gratification would be amazing, the butterfly takes time to work itself outside of her cocoon.

Courtesy of Karen Judin

Photo courtesy of Karen Judin

 

 

 

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