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Archive for May, 2014

Middah (character trait) focus: Honoring our elders – Ki-bud ze-kei-nim

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

My parents never made it to old age; until January, I had rarely experienced being with someone who was growing older and needing some assistance in order to navigate life.  In fact, it has only been very recent that I have noticed that I have some close friends that are experiencing things that I thought only happened to older people.  In the last few months, I have had close friends have cataract surgery, knee replacement, hip replacement among other things.  Don’t these things only happen to people that are getting older?  I wouldn’t know, of course, because I am not really aging – am I?

Seriously though, since my ‘professional’ position went from full-time, to half-time, to jobless, I have had the opportunity to help people that are aging.  For some, aging happens slowly; for others, it happens more quickly. Every person ages on their own trajectory.  Bottom-line, people that are aging need support; sometimes they need help with basic skills and other times just with some harder tasks that were once a norm.  Honoring our elders, all of our elders is simply everyone’s responsibility.

Recently, I had the experience of watching a system that is supposed to care for their residents, fail.  The good news is that I believe this was not a norm for this location, but it wasn’t nice for the period of time that things were going wrong.  If you have your loved ones in a facility, make sure you are checking in and that you really know what is going on with your loved ones.  Unfortunately, some seniors, like children, do not have the words or the ability to protect themselves.  Protecting our loved ones and friends should be second nature; make sure you make no assumptions and that you stay alert.

What I know now is that caring for older loved ones or anyone that is older takes patience and kindness.  Each and every person deserves respect regardless of whether or not they can understand everything going on.  When you see a parent, a friend, or even someone shopping who seems older and perhaps frustrated, take a moment to find out if you can help in any way.  And remember to always treat not only older folks, but all folks, as human beings.

May I be blessed with the discernment that allows me to take care of those that need my love and care; may I always have an open door to really see what I need to do in order to care for those that I work with.

Honoring my elders and all human beings is not optional.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Build a Healthy Foundation

Yoga gives me many of the tools I need to create a stronger and healthier yesod (foundation).

Yoga gives me many of the tools I need to create a stronger and healthier yesod (foundation).

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

During much of my life, I wanted to be fortified by people that could comfort me and protect me; I wanted to be surrounded by a cocoon of  beloveds.

Today as I was reflecting on the what it means to build a healthy foundation, I realized that each individual needs to independently build their own strong yesod, foundation; only by nurturing yourself can you have the power to go from slavery to freedom ultimately as a means to sustain and help one to become their highest self.  While each of us can gain support from those that surround us, we need to do some incredible work ourselves.

Building a healthy foundation means:

Breathe deeply, move frequently.
Nurture your soul, fuel your body.
Believe in yourself, reach for your dreams.
Do your part to repair the world and do it with all your heart.
Give yourself space to feel and to be.

Surround yourself with people that accept who you are.
Laugh and cry as you are called to do.
Listen to the words and the space between the words.
Love and be loved.
Trust in the universe and in the Godliness that is.

Inspiration for this blog came from Alden Solovy, a writer, a liturgist, a poet, and a Facebook friend.  Here is a link to his blog in which he honors Day 37 of the Omer http://tobendlight.com/2012/04/15/ethics/.

 

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

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

Middah (character trait) focus: Accepting gifts

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

Gifts come in so many different forms: shipping packages, active helping, a listening ear, gift wrap, natural beauty, insight, etc.  At any given moment, gifts surround us, but sometimes we have to open our eyes extra wide so that we can really notice what you see in front of you.

Over the last few days, I have been literally blown away to the point of tears as I have felt surrounded by the love of friends near and far.  As I navigate life and all that it has to offer, I am feeling the love and care of people that are giving me their love, things I need, time to be authentic, job leads, and friendship.  Blessings really do surround me at every turn.

In the midst of life’s trials and tribulations, may each and every one of us notice and accept the many gifts that surround us.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Sending light and healing energy

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

Over the years, I learned so much from watching how those I respect, walk in the world. Some of my most valued lessons come from my teacher Debbie Friedman, of Blessed Memory. From Debbie, I learned the power of prayer and song in the healing of body, mind, and soul. I will never forget how powerful it was to hear her sing Mi Shebeirach (for healing) and Light These Lights. Each time she sang the words to her songs/prayers, I felt her students and her audience transform.  Debbie always sang her healing prayer first and then the audience joined her; each and every time she sang of healing, the energy was palpable.  Every person in those auditoriums believed that their prayers could impact what was happening and it did; the healing energy went exactly to where it was supposed to go.  In fact, Debbie transformed many prayers over the years as she brought meaning using her interpretations and melodies as a tool for making prayers meaningful.  The power of her prayers can be felt each time I go to a healing service or sit in services as an entire community sings Mi Sheberirach for those that are sick both physically and spiritually.  While hearing an Debbie Friedman sing her songs was breathtakingly beautiful, hearing her songs carried on by others is also touching and beautiful.

Take a moment and listen to my friend Dr. Scott Mandel’s students as they sing Light These Lights.  As director of Pacoima’s group, he was able to inspire his choir to reach inside themselves and create what I believe Debbie herself would find inspiring.

Pacoima Singers–12, 13 & 14 year olds from the Pacoima Middle School Television, Theatre & Performing Arts Magnet in Los Angeles. Web site: pacoimasingers.com

After I light the Shabbat candles each and every Friday night,, my own family sings Light These Lights. Before singing it, I ask each person to visualize those in their lives that are in need of healing; we sing this short song many times until we have completed sending out healing to those in need, those that we know and those that we don’t yet know.

Debbie believed in the power of healing circles and the power of song to heal not only those we love as well as those that love those who are ill; she also inspired all of us to reach inside ourselves for the bigger world too.  When my son was critically sick, people prayed for Aryeh.  People chanted, sang, and prayed traditional prayers as well as healing chants/songs; each prayer made a difference.  Whether or not the songs and prayers saved Aryeh, I might never know, but what I can tell you is that I think it didl Aryeh’s body, mind, and soul healed over time. The work was hard and seemingly impossible at times, but nonetheless healing for all of us happened.

There are so many folk singers and spiritual artists that are sending out their healing energy into the world.  May we all join in and create our own healing energy to send out to the world.  May we all do our part to make a difference.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Is there a fire in your soul?

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

On the 33 day of the Counting of the Omer, many of us have a bonfire to celebrate the holiday of Lag b’Omer.  (For more info on Lag b’Omer see http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Shavuot/In_the_Community/Counting_the_Omer/Lag_BaOmer.shtml?p=0) Tonight, I found myself inspired by the idea that the bonfire is a reminder that we should find and nurture the fire in our soul.  Is there a challenge in society that compels you to actively engage in tikkun olam, repairing the world?  Are you driven to step outside of your own bubble in order to do something good for someone outside of your little world?  As I say that, I am assuming that you are a loving human being who takes care of those in your world as need be.

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another. ~George Eliot

Over the years and to this day, I have pursued so many passions that sustain the ambers burning in my soul.  If there is an issue that needs my activism, I often do my part to make a difference for good.  Sometimes it is as simple as just noting the issues, but other times, I need to physically go out there and labor for my causes.  I am part of the human race and that makes it my responsibility to do what I can to impact the world for good.  In my heart of hearts, I believe each and every one of us should consider the bigger world and do our part to make a difference; we do not need to take on each and every issue, but we can try to do our part however big or small.

 Is there a fire in your soul? If so, what are you doing to make a difference? If not, consider trying to find one issue that you can do your part and have a positive impact.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Moving forward with grace

Wondering if this is graceful. . . .

Wondering if this is graceful. . . .

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

I am a person who acknowledges who I am and what my intentions are; I attempt to always walk forward with both integrity and transparency.  At times, it isn’t easy to walk as I do, but it is a part of me.  At the same time, I journey towards peace (both inner and outer peace).  While the journey is sometimes difficult, in the end, each step propels me towards a more authentic life allowing me to be impactful for good.

Making an impact for good is profoundly important to me.  Those of you that know me personally, know that I sometimes offend people with my directness; I am honest and intense in how I walk in this world. While I may offend people, it is often because of how I grapple with what I see not because I want to make others uncomfortable.  And I am also a loving human being that thrives on positive interactions and sweet connections.

With that in mind, I have chosen to navigate my latest journey in the most graceful way I know how.  (We all have our journeys, don’t we?) My hope is that I hold myself in a positive way.  I love life, I love the people that I have chosen and that have chosen me for their world.  I connect with people whether I walk in a store, on a mountain, on the sidewalks next to a busy street; I couldn’t make these connections if I didn’t embrace life as I do.

Deep anger and dark energy would not make me approachable in any way.  I love being the person that touches people with my warmth and smile; I can’t imagine being any other way.  That doesn’t mean that I am not sad right now; I am struggling with taking care of my family financially and how I will transition if I have to move.  And guess what – it really is about finances and I believe that as long as my family does what it needs to do that we will land on our feet even if I have to ask for help.  Moving forward with grace is about focusing on the many positives and not harping on what was.  Each step of my journey has been full of open doors.  Sometimes the doors are open briefly and sometimes the doors are wide open for a lifetime.  I need to see the world as being full of opportunities; I need to concentrate on the good; and I need to move forward by doing all that needs to be done with a gentleness within me.

And with every step, I need to remember that my family is blessed with good health, loving friends and a ‘can do’ attitude.  We will be ok for sure and probably even great in just a short time.

With all of this in mind – May I move forward with grace – now and always.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Taking the time you need to sleep

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

Taking the time you need sleep is a definite character trait worthy of honoring.  Only when you get the sleep you need will you be able to make a difference for good.  So, with that in mind I am going to crash for the night.

Remember taking care of yourself should not an option; getting a good night’s sleep will contribute to your success for yourself and with others too.

Good-night, Lilah Tov

 

Really, I am going to sleep.  Shhhhh. . . .

Really, I am going to sleep. Shhhhh. . . .

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