Saturday, July 31, 2010


This morning I read a Pema Chodron quote about gloriousness and wretchedness from "Start Where You Are."  It says basically you just need to have both in your life, it can't be all glorious and hopefully it isn't all wretched.

Today I (and many of my friends) are waiting for a biopsy report to come back for my beloved little dog, Lola.  I have mentioned before that she has had some trouble walking and recently the vet suggested that she probably has a benign brain tumor growing in her cerebral cortex, affecting gross motor skills.  

Thursday morning, as I was petting her, I felt a very large lump on the side of her head, which literally appeared overnight.  It's the size of an egg.  We rushed to the vet and she did a biopsy and now we are waiting for the results.  It is a hard mass and the vet felt it was probably another tumor.  

I am having a hard time believing that this amazing little dog, who I have come to love so much, may be very ill.  She has a good appetite, she doesn't seem to be in any pain, and her only real symptom is that she walks like she is a bit drunk. I love my dog, Lucy, but in terms of personality, she doesn't come close to Lola. Lola is a funny, charming, adorable little dog.  She seems to pick up people wherever she goes and creates smiles and laughter as she prances down the street.  

I ran over to Friends In Deed to talk about my sadness and worry about Lola was reminded not to get into a negative prediction.  For today, she is still with us.  I don't know why our pets make their way into our hearts the way they do, probably because it's the purity of the love and the devotion.  And they make us happy. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I'm doing my volunteer work at Friends In Deed for the Mastery again this weekend.  (I've written about it a few times before.) 

It is an honor and a privilege to be in the presence of people who are so courageous and dealing with some very painful life events.  I can't really share what anyone says specifically, but I will say that some of the main themes are usually: care-giving, grief, life threatening illnesses, and fear of financial insecurity - either from having been laid off, or worrying about losing a job, or just running out of funds.  Body issues, for both women and men (although primarily women) is also a big theme. 

All of us in the back row (the volunteers) have been through this workshop and we understand how powerful the weekend can be for most people.  When each of us stands up and briefly describes our experience of having done the Mastery, it's unique to everyone, but always inspiring.  I wish more people had access to this weekend, although it's best suited to people who are in crisis. 

Then again, these days, so many people are in some kind of crisis and if they're not - they will at some point, probably dealing with care-giving in some form, or loss, or an illness.  This is life in 2010.  

What we learn in the Mastery is that we are not alone.  And if we ask for help and we show up for others, the reward is knowing that we're part of a community of people who are strong and capable of dealing with just about anything that comes their way. We take those difficult experiences and use them in ways that we couldn't imagine - by writing about them in my case, or creating work that has more meaning for us, or going back to school, or just simply asking ourselves: what is it that I truly love and want to do in my life?

These questions originated when the Mastery was called "The AIDS Mastery" and just about all of the attendees were dying from AIDS and HIV.  After the weekend, they thought of themselves as "living" with AIDS and HIV and though many still died, quite a number of them lived and are still living - rich and full lives.  There were many lessons learned from this illness and still more than we need to learn.  Accepting what is and living life fully, not playing it safe, in this moment are two important ones.

Friday, July 23, 2010


You know when you have something to do and you really don't want to do it, so you do everything you can to put it off, but eventually you have no choice but to sit down and do it.  Or write a blog post.

So that's what I'm doing now.

I actually have nothing terribly pressing to write about, I just don't want to work on a financial spread sheet and get it to my lawyer.  

So...what can I write about?

The fact that I just ran three miles and feel ecstatically happy and in love with everyone and everything in life?  That's how the endorphins feel for several hours after running.  Nothing bothers you, no one bothers you, everything is fantastic and you forget that the world is a mess and there are so many problems that are probably unfixable, so now I'm starting to come down a bit, no, not ready, need more happiness.  One of the things I enjoy most about my running is that I listen to music that really lifts my energy and my spirits and actually - you can always do that, you don't need to run three miles.

Okay, that was about two minutes that I should have spent on this report. I think I'll work on it now and report back later, that it's done.  Or at least partly done.  

I'm not a big procrastinator, but there are certain things I dread dealing with.  The great feeling of accomplishment when it's finished though is another high - so here I go!  

Actually, I think I'm a little hungry...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Going to divorce court

Well, I never imagined that I would have to go to family court regarding a divorce, but as I think of it now, why wouldn't I, since so many friends have gone before me?  Why would I be exempt from the fun of watching lawyers spar and a judge and her secretary make comments about my marriage, without ever knowing either one of us.

So I have gone through that rite of passage and survived the first trip to court.  Ironically, it's located at 71 Thomas Street downtown in Tribeca.  The first place we lived when we moved to Manhattan was 60 Thomas Street.  I never knew family court was right across the street from us.

I survived and I'm quite sure I'll survive the next trip to court.  I wish we didn't have to do this, but I guess it's one of those life experiences that I am supposed to have.  Yet another life experience that will definitely find it's way into my writing, I'm sure. We'll be back in two months - it's quite an education I'm having.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I realized today, as I went to the Hell's Kitchen flea market again in search of Mike the bike guy, who seems to be MIA, and then to the upper west side in search of a used bike store, that all the running around and reading about bikes, and looking at Craig's list, and asking questions and learning about bikes, is an excellent distraction for the more pressing matters of my life.  

And those issues are out of my control, unlike finding a bike, so I'm going to concentrate on the bike search and forget about the court appearance I have to make this week and take it one day at a time. 

Onward - my bike is coming soon, it will be a good bike at a great price and I will enjoy riding it.  And everything else will take care of itself.  I'm off to walk the dogs, in the heat, and to enjoy that too!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hot and bike-less

I'm not talking about hot, as in sexy, although I like to think I'm hot.  It's very warm here in NYC this summer and I am so ready to leave.  But, unfortunately, this summer isn't turning out to be a summer of travel, not with two dogs to care for.  

And last night my beloved Trek bicycle, which I've had for at least twelve years (in NYC that may be a record) was stolen.  It was parked in front of a church on 5th Avenue and 12th Street, with plenty of people walking nearby.  Someone must have driven up in a van, cut the lock and grabbed it.  I had that same sinking feeling a few years ago when my car was towed, but at least I knew I'd get the car back.  

I actually had the thought the night before when I was riding with a friend (who warned me that my tires could be easily stolen because they had quick releases on them) that the bike was going to be stolen soon.  I never had that thought with such certainty, but I just knew it.  I can't stand living in NYC without a bike and I know I cannot replace that one (it had just had a complete "tune-up," new tires, brakes checked, etc.)  The bike was a part of my old life and I guess it was time to move on.  

I'm on the hunt for an inexpensive, but fantastic used bike.  It's a priority, like having a car is for some people in the rest of the country, my bike is absolutely essential!  I love riding, especially in the summer.  I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book reviews?

A friend of mine wrote me a note about changing the template for the blog and said she calls the blog "a book review a day."  I guess I have been staying away from writing about my personal life recently because it's been a bit difficult to write about it. I'm working on my book project, or whatever it will be, and keeping a journal - but going through a divorce and writing about it publicly, in a blog, is not easy to do.  

There are times I seem to disappear.  Usually I'm going through some difficult period of dealing with my lawyers and reading affidavits and wondering how we got to this horrible mess.  Having watched so many of my friends go through this in the past, I feel like I'm experiencing a rite of passage and I feel good about how I'm getting through it.  I don't drink or eat too much, or spend too much.  If I do anything too much it's reading books about divorce and getting through difficult times and writing about it on this blog.  It helps me to focus on the stuff I'm dealing with inside, with my soul.  

Some day I will write about it, but right now it feels difficult to reveal too much.  I am a far more empathetic person than I used to be and when I hear about people who've lost a spouse or a parent, or are dealing with a sick parent or child, or going through a divorce, or who have lost a job -- I have a sense of the pain they are feeling.  Last night I listened to a man, in a big group at Friends in Deed, talk about losing a girlfriend of twenty-nine years as he sobbed and said he'd never in his life experienced so much pain.  He said he never knew that people suffered like this before and he felt sad that for so many years he walked ignorant about grief.  I'd know about grief now, the feeling of disconnection, of crying, of not getting pleasure in anything, of the worries that it's never going to get better.  But everything does change and in this past year, I can see how much it's changed.  My reading about divorce says it generally takes two years to feel "normal" again - whatever normal is.  I'll let you know.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The challenge of daily life

Today I had a wonderful lunch with a woman I met at Friends In Deed recently.  We were talking about Pema Chodron and her writings about sitting with "what is."  And she also mentioned Jack Kornfield's story about getting hit in the shoulder with an arrow and how most of us send more arrows into the wound by saying things like: "Oh, I shouldn't feel this pain, I better get over it right now and move on, and forget about it, it's just getting in my way."  Rather than feeling the pain, removing the arrow and taking the time to heal the wound.  That acceptance of "what is" instead of "what we want it to be" is so crucial to living in the moment.

We were talking about how grateful we are for the very terrible things that brought us to Friends In Deed in the first place and how it has helped us to transform our lives in ways we could have never understood before.  We would have said, "I would like to live a deeper, more fulfilled and happier life, and really appreciate life,"  but we would have only been using those words because we've heard them or read them.  But now, it's how we actually feel.  Despite the struggle I'm still in, going through a difficult divorce, looking for work, I do feel extremely grateful and work on my attitudes daily and attend to the wounds.  So as hard as some days seem, I guess I am glad that I'm making my way through this journey and feeling such a strong connection to a spiritual core, or my "soul."  And the ability to cry, after so many years of feeling numb, is a gift I really appreciate.     

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Rapture of Being Alive - "Broken Open"

I have another book that I need to recommend.  My friend Polly gave it to me on my birthday a year ago and then recently, another friend mentioned it to me.  The book is "Broken Open" by Elizabeth Lesser, who is one of the founders of The Omega Institute in upstate New York.  I have never been there, but many friends have and they offer amazing workshops with great people, including my favorite, Pema Chodron.

The first quote that starts the book is by Anais Nin, whose work I read in my twenties.  I don't remember much about her journals, except that I was obsessed with reading them.  Here is the quote, "And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." 

Another great quote, from Rumi:  "When you do something from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy..."  And one more from Rumi:  "Learn the alchemy true human beings know.  The moment you accept what troubles you've been given, the door will open." 

And the paragraph Lesser read when she was very young that she says changed her life:

"Going beyond fear begins when we examine our fear: our anxiety, nervousness, concern, and restlessness.  If we look into our fear, if we look beneath the veneer, the first thing we find is sadness, beneath the nervousness.  Nervousness is cranking up, vibrating all the time.  When we slow down, when we relax with our fear, we find sadness, which is calm and gentle.  Sadness hits you in your heart, and your body produces a tear.  Before you cry, there is a feeling in your chest, and then, after that, you produce tears in your eyes.  You are about to produce a rain or a waterfall in your eyes and you feel sad and lonely and perhaps romantic at the same time.  That is the first tip of fearlessness, and the first sign of real warriorship.  You might think that, when you experience fearlessness, you will hear the opening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony or see a great explosion in the sky, but it doesn't happen that way.  Discovering fearlessness comes from working with the softness of the human heart."   

"Shambhala: The Sacret Path of the Warrior," by Chogram Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist.

Another quote, this one from Wavy Gravy, "We're all Bozos on the bus, so we might as well enjoy the ride."  I love that quote.  When I was young, I often listened to "The Secret of Life" by James Taylor.  "The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.  There ain't nothing to it, any fool can do it..."

And finally, a terrific quote by Joseph Cambell:  "People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life.  I don't think that's what we're really seeking.  I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being that we actually feel the rapture of being alive."

This past week has been challenging for me, but in a good way.  There have been tears and I've encountered a great deal of fear.  But I've also sat with it and let it move through me.  I've also received so much help and support and I am deeply grateful for these friends who show up for me.  Meditation has also helped.  And I guess the best part of it all, is as difficult as it feels sometimes, I know I'm alive.