Monday, June 28, 2010

Pema and Pema

I've decided that I'm going to change my name to Pema and then I could call this blog, "Pema and Pema."  And then a spiritually enlightened producer would option it for a film and Meryl Street could play both Pema Chodron and me!  Wouldn't that be perfect?

Seriously, I do find that when I'm feeling at my lowest, reading Pema's writings always seems to lift me up.  This is from "Practicing Peace in Times of War"...

"Difficulty is inevitable

On a very basic level all beings think that they should be happy.  When life becomes difficult or painful, we feel that something has gone wrong.  According to the Buddhist teachings, difficulty is inevitable in human life.  For one thing, we cannot escape the realities of death.  But there are also the realities of aging, of illness, of not getting what we want, and of getting what we don't want.  These kinds of difficulties are facts of life.  Even if you were the Buddha himself, if you were a fully enlightened person, you would experience death, illness, aging, and sorrow at losing what you love.  All of these things would happen to you.  If you got burned or cut, it would hurt.

But the Buddhist teachings also say that this is not really what causes us misery in our lives.  What causes misery is always trying to get away from the facts of life, always trying to avoid pain and seek happiness -- this sense of ours that there could be lasting security and happiness available to us if we could only do the right thing.  

It is so basic in us to feel that things should go well for us, and that if we start to feel depressed, lonely, or inadequate, there's been some kind of mistake or we've lost it.  In reality, when you feel depressed, lonely, betrayed, or any unwanted feelings, this is an important moment on the spiritual path.  This is when real transformation takes place."

Okay, I would rather be transformed by winning the lottery or writing a best-selling book, but if Pema says this is the way to go, I'll have to trust her.  She's never steered me wrong.  I do find that my morning meditation is one of the highlights of my day and that going through some of the depression, does give you a sense of strength, of being able to handle life.  

This morning a dear friend of mine called and we talked about her daughter, who has been through a very rough medical procedure and slow recovery.  We both cried and talked about how deeply we love our daughters and how painful it is to see them suffer any difficulty.  Asking for help, remembering to be grateful for all the blessings in our life and knowing that although this is a challenging time, we are literally transforming into spiritually enlightened beings helps.

One question: is there a money back guarantee with this, Pema?

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Okay, this reading seemed so appropriate this morning.  Again, Melody Beattie, from "The Language of Letting Go."


Master the lessons of your present circumstances.
We do not move forward by resisting what is undesirable in our life today.  We move forward, we change by acceptance.
Avoidance is not the key; surrender opens the door.
Listen to this truth: We are each in our present circumstances for a reason.  There is a lesson, a valuable lesson, that must be learned before we can move forward.
Something important is being worked out in us, and in those around us.  We may not be able to identify it today, but we can know that it is important.  We can know that it is good.
Overcome not by force, overcome by surrender.  The battle is fought, and won, inside ourselves.  We must go through it until we learn, until we accept, until we become grateful, until we are set free.

Today, I will be open to the lessons of my present circumstances.  I do not have to label, know, or understand what I'm learning; I will see clearly in time.  For today, trust and gratitude are sufficient."

Monday, June 14, 2010

On Broadway

We live on Broadway - not where the theaters are - in SoHo, where all the shopping is.  Right now there are two men talking to each other quite loudly about pulleys and opening windows as they prepare the loft next door for a four day shoot.  The show is "Rubicon" produced by the same people who produce "Mad Men."  It's about the CIA and they are using our neighbor's loft as a set.  Our loft was once used for "Law and Order" and it's not uncommon for NYC apartments to be hired by studios for these kinds of shoots.  It is, unfortunately, very disruptive and though everyone is really nice and friendly, the shoots go late and it's probably going to be a difficult week.  (And we don't get paid for the inconvenience, only the neighbor whose loft they're using gets any money.)

On the other hand, I love show business, so I will try to make the best of it. The dogs are a bit confused by all the commotion and equipment being moved in and out, but there's also craft services, which might offer them some good scraps.  It's difficult to write when I can hear these men talking, so I think I'll stop here.  

Here's info about the show from the web:

The new TV Series, Rubicon AMC is fully cast by Miranda Richardson, Dallas Roberts and James Badge Dale (The Pacific and 24).
Rubicon by AMC is the new drama series Rubicon, which tells about intelligence analyst Will Travers, finds himself in the midst of a conspiracy. Sounds like a new espionage series starring by James Badge Dale, on Sunday.
The Rubicon premiere were scheduled to be this late summer, and the AMC will aired the sneak peak preview right after Sunday’s Breaking Bad finale.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The winding road

Last year, when I was in Spain with my...well, what do I call him?  My almost ex husband?  Steve is his name, that's what I'll call him.  I guess I could call him other names, but I won't.

We were in southern Spain, in Andalucia, which I totally fell in love with, and we were driving in the mountains, headed to Ronda. We (he) decided to take a road through the mountains because Steve wanted to go to a small town called Grazalema, I believe was the name.  We got on a road that had a sign that said, in Spanish, something about road blocked due to a mud slide, but for some reason, we saw a few cars up ahead of us, and we didn't believe the sign.  The road was extremely curvy and I tend to get a bit anxious on really mountainous roads, and this one seemed to go on and on and kept climbing up the mountain.  It was also absolutely gorgeous country, which I tried to notice as I gripped the dashboard.  There were a few turn-offs along the road where people had stopped to eat lunch and look at the views.

I figured once we got to the top of the mountains we would be safe and just go down the other side to Grazalema, but sure enough, after what seemed like a good hour or so, we came to the part of the road that was blocked and we could go no further.  I couldn't believe we had to go back down that same road and take those same curves.  We didn't argue about it, we just turned around and that hour long drive took about twenty minutes.  It wasn't, in fact, an hour, it only felt like an hour.

We returned to the town we'd driven through at the base of the mountain, found a restaurant, had some lunch and then set off again on our journey to Ronda, on a different, but still gorgeous road.  

I feel like I'm on that windy road now, just headed through the mountains, not quite sure what's ahead, but trusting that I will get to the other side of the mountain. (Or turn around and go back down and have lunch.) This divorce journey seems endless, but from all my reading about divorce, it's generally a two year ordeal - "Crazy Time" - a period of ups and downs and pleasurable periods and sadness.  Today was both.  I had some lovely times with friends and some time alone.  

I'm heading through the mountains and I should try to enjoy the views, which are truly, quite lovely.  I'm trying to stay in the moment, enjoy each day, and be grateful for all the wonderful blessings in my life. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Currently, we are all right

It's been one year since my mother's death, actually tomorrow, June 9th is the anniversary.

I think I can truthfully say that this has been the hardest year of my life, but like giving birth, we do forget the pain. Other years have been tough, but this one may have been the most challenging.  All I know is I'm still here, Lucy and Lola, my beloved beagles, are still with me, Zoe is doing well in San Francisco, and I feel like I have cried more and felt more this year than I ever have before.  I am filled with gratitude for everyone who kept me going this year and there were many, too many to name.  My loftmate, Abigail, deserves a Medal of Honor for taking me in and allowing me to share her space and her life.  Living in New York City during this difficult time has been incredibly healing.  The energy of the city keeps me from feeling despair and loneliness, although when I do feel sad, I have learned to embrace it, as Pema Chodron suggests.  

I haven't been writing as much on the blog as I might have, but I have been writing every day on what I hope will be a book.  I like sharing the readings that have helped me during this time and I know have been helpful to some of you who read the blog.  This one I read this morning, on the theme of fun, was something that resonated, since the idea of fun was challenging to me during my marriage.

This is from "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie, June 8th's reading:


Have fun, with life, with the day.
Life is not drudgery; that is an old belief.  Let go of it.  We are on an adventure, a journey.  Events will come to pass that we cannot now fathom.
Replace heaviness and weariness of spirit with joy.  Surround yourself with people and things that bring lightness of spirit.
Become sensitive to lightness of spirit.
The journey can be an exciting adventure.  Let yourself enjoy it.

Today, I will have some fun with life, with recovery, with people, and with my day."


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

...and one other thing

I just picked up Eckhart Tolle's book "A New Earth" which I am still reading.  It's not a fast read, you have to digest it all and try to internalize it.  

I don't have to type this out now, but Chapter 5 is "The Pain Body" and it's about how we are trapped in the voice of our head, which is conditioned by our past, and therefore most of the time it's impossible for us to simply be in the present, in the pleasure and joy of a moment.  I can't really paraphrase it well, just turn to page 129 and start reading! "The Pain Body." 

Stealing some more good advice - movies, music, etc.

I'm still reading "The Wisdom of a Broken Heart" by Susan Piver (I'm slow, because I'm also reading several other books at the same time.)  I've given up TV for the most part, except "Glee" and Jon Stewart.

Anyway, I opened the book to an Appendix this morning and Piver talks about the need to get out your emotions ("indulge it") and how great movies and music are for that.

Here's the list of movies that make you cry according to Susan and her friends:

A Beautiful Mind
Dark Victory
Field of Dreams
The Last Samurai
Stranger than Fiction (when Will Ferrell sings "Whole Wide World")
Anything where a dog dies  (I sobbed at "Marley" on the plane home from Spain last year...)

Big Fish
Dead Poets Society
E.T.: The Extraterrestrial
Fiddler on the Roof
Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka)
The Green Mile
Hotel Rwanda
I am Sam
Life Is Beautiful
The Lion King
The Little Mermaid
Million Dollar Baby
The Notebook
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Steel Magnolias
Sweet November
Whale Rider

I would add to that list Terms of Endearment, that scene with Debra Winger's sons, that always makes me cry.


"A Change Is Gonna Come"  Sam Cooke
"The Dark End of the Street"  James Carr
"I Can't Stop the Rain" Ann Peebles
"I Can't Stop Loving You" Freddy Fender
"I've Been Loving You Too Long" Otis Redding
"There is an End"  The Greenhornes, with Holly Golightly
"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" Jimmy Ruffin
"When I Get Like This" The Five Royales
"Whole Wide World" Wreckless Eric
"For Your Precious Love" Jerry Butler

Lately, I've found the song "I Believe I Can Fly" has been really helpful to lighten my mood. And "Vida La Vida" and "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night."  For some reason Aretha Franklin singing "You Send Me" always sends me.  And I like listening to Regina Spektor because she reminds me of my daughter.  Also Ingrid Michaelson.

I did something else Piver recommends.  Go through all your clothing and keep only the things that make you feel attractive and toss everything else out (bring it to Goodwill, or wherever.) That was actually fun, perhaps because I've been on the divorce diet and everything fits.

Organize your Netflix queue.  I do that all the time.  

Yesterday, I did an exercise that Mama Gena suggests, which really surprised me.  She said to write a love letter to yourself, the kind that you would love to receive.  I thought, "Ah, I don't want to do that.  That's just not something I feel like doing."  But I did - I wrote myself a love letter and it made me realize that I should accept nothing less than being fully and completely loved for who I am, and to be fully and completely in love with someone, for exactly who he is.  It's a powerful exercise and it made me realize how often I have settled for less, when we all deserve so much more.