Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

I just wrote a long blog post about the end of 2011 - and somehow it got lost.  So I will sum it all up in just a few words:  wow, what a year!  For me personally, I got back on my feet, I earned money, I had a lot of fun times, two great readings of my play, writing almost every day, and I started dancing again. 

For the world, it has been very challenging.  Arab Spring, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the wars and violence that continue all over the world, OWS, the economies all over the world - let's hope that in 2012 life gets better. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zoe's coming!

I forwarded Zoe an airlines' discount special and she immediately decided to come for three weeks.  In December. 

Whooohooo!  So excited.  And I know she will be busy seeing her own friends and keeping her own hours (the opposite of mine, I'm an early riser), so it probably will be challenging.  I'm glad that the holidays this year will be with family and maybe we'll even see my sister and her family.  Talk about challenging! 

One day at a time. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just living

I guess I've been quiet these days because I've been busy and living life and working on a book.  My meditation practice continues - imperfectly.  The holidays were remarkably stress-free and relaxing. I can't wait for Christmas and New Year's. The play is moving forward.  I watched the documentary about Woody Allen on American Masters and learned something I never knew about him - that doing stand-up was torturous for him at first, because he was so shy, but he persevered.  


I am not looking forward to winter - except that it's the time of year I really get to read as many books as I can.  I also signed up for a swing dancing class last month and it was the highlight of my week.  It will continue in December.


I am thinking about my friend who is going through a difficult period with cancer.  After radiation, they put him on an oral treatment, which has been exhausting.  I'm praying for him to get through all of this and to start feeling better soon.  He's had tremendous support from his sons and many of his close friends. 


Occupy Wall Street seems to have entered a different phase now that the city has cleared Zuccotti Park.  I'm not sure how the work will continue, but I do think that it has at least changed the conversation and hopefully, will affect our next election. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Food poisoning?

Yesterday I got hit with something, I'm not sure what it was, but it might have been food poisoning.  I'd been feeling fine and the day before I ate really badly (for me).  I had a hamburger (medium rare, had to send it back to be cooked more), french fries, ice cream, mushroom soup (very creamy), and an almond croissant.  That is not a typical day of eating for me, I usually try to have salads and vegetables.  But the next morning I woke up and I was nauseous and completely lethargic.  All I can say is, if I hadn't had a loftmate to help me, I don't know what I would have done.

Gratitude for friends!  It passed this morning and I feel much better.  Note to self: watch what you eat. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lucy with the smile

I have written often about the loss of Lola last winter.  But I am lucky to still have my beloved Lucy, who is 16 1/2 years old.  She has been with me for the past 12 years and I love her. 

Lola was a character, Lucy is a great pal.  I think she's suffered as much as we did when Lola died.  She seemed very lost for a long time.  She follows me around a lot in the loft, something she never did when Lola was alive.  I think she may feel lonely when she is left alone now.  But she runs down the hall from the elevator to our loft like she's a Greyhound and it's hard to believe she's as old as she is.

Life would be much sadder without our beloved animals.  Here is Lucy, this past August, in Fort Greene Park.  People often comment that it looks like she's smiling.  That was the first thing I noticed about her, when I saw her photo on the internet.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dark Nights of the Soul

I have been working on a book about loss (it's actually - hopefully - got plenty of humor) - but I've been looking for quotes about difficult times.  Some of them I find in this blog and this one may have appeared, but I think it's worth repeating.  This is yet another of the books I've read in the past two and a half years that helped me enormously:  Dark Nights of the Soul, by Thomas Moore.

"Many people think that the point in life is to solve their problems and be happy  But happiness is usually a fleeting sensation, and you never get rid of problems.  Your purpose in life may be to become more who you are and more engaged with the people and the life around you, to really live your life.  That may sound obvious, yet many people spend their time avoiding life.  They are afraid to let it flow through them, and so their vitality gets channeled into ambitions, addictions, and preoccupations that don't give them anything worth having.  A dark night may appear, paradoxically, as a way to return to living. It pares life down to its essentials and helps you get a new start."



Yet another good quote that reminds me that these past few years have actually been some of the best of my life.  And if anyone is going through a difficult time - remember it won't last forever and the lessons may be painful, but ultimately, they will help to re-order your life in "wondrous ways."  (Cy O'Neal, Friends In Deed.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Another corner

November 2, 2011.  Last night I went to see my old therapist, Mike Eigen, and to tell him what has been going on in my life  It's kind of like a check-up, a tune-up - a quick "this is where I am and what's happening" and it feels so good to see him.

Life feels so much better than it did two years ago.  I have to get a biopsy on my breast soon which I am not looking forward to. Work remains an exercise in problem solving.  I haven't met the love of my life.  I'm still lonely some days.  Lucy, my beloved beagle, is sixteen and a half, and though she runs down our hallway like a greyhound, she is constantly getting urinary tract infections. 

I worry about our country, the next election, the world, the mess it's all in.  I feel uplifted by Occupy Wall Street and the change in conversation we seem to be having. 

I am grateful.  I like the people I work with.  I like that I have time each morning to write.  I am hopeful that my play will have a life, but if it doesn't, that's okay too.  I'm grateful that I got to see my daughter last month in beautiful San Francisco and spend some time with her and her friends.  I'm grateful that I am going to Miami next weekend with my Mama Gena friends.  I walked through Central Park late yesterday afternoon and the leaves haven't barely begun to change.  

Just when I feel like I've turned a corner, another one presents itself. I like the metaphor of riding the waves.  Sometimes they are perfect and challenging, thrilling to ride. And sometimes I wipe out.  Right now, it feels like the waves are fine.  It's a beautiful autumn day and I am just so grateful for so many good things in my life and for the opportunity to be of service.   

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Beautiful People" by Elizabeth Kubler Ross

 "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.  These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen."


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life today

Last night, I was watching "The Daily Show" and clips from the Republican debate.  What can you say about these debates other than you wish these people were running for office in another country?  Some country whose name you can't pronounce, preferably on another planet.  

I've been to Occupy Wall Street a few times, marched, I'm glad that they have have managed to change the conversation from what it was a few months ago (the debt ceiling) to jobs and the issue of money and inequality, but it's hard not to feel incredibly hopeless about how we are going to fix the mess we're in.

I'd like to make this blog funnier.  I'm grateful that people like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Steven Colbert can find humor in the political scene.  I am still reeling from seeing "Miss Representation" - the documentary about women in our culture, the way we are portrayed, the lack of power we have even though we are 51% of the population.  I'd love to be able to laugh more, which brings me to news about my play, it is moving along.  As Robert at Friends In Deed says, "...totally committed, completely unattached."  I hope SE gets to have a production and at this point, it's out of my hands.  I'm so grateful for all the people who are working so hard and having meetings to get it up.

We need to laugh.  We need to remember what's important and sit quietly with all the feelings.  I always try to fight the sadness rather than embrace it.  I'm sad that so many people all over the world are struggling.

Pema Chodron says in our meditation practices we can "breathe in suffering and breathe out God."  So that's what I try to do every morning in my imperfect practice.  I don't know if that helps anyone other than me, but it's good to remember.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No gym, no good

I put my gym membership on hold for a month after I heard someone say, "You don't need to go to the gym, you just need to do fast walking."  But somehow for me, getting to the gym, giving myself 30 minutes of cardio and fifteen or so minutes of yoga and sit-ups, really changes my mood. 

The freeze is up on October 21st.  I can't say that I jump out of bed and race to the gym, excited about hitting the treadmill or the elliptical trainer.  But I can say that once I'm there and I'm exercising and especially once I'm finished, I feel so much better.

Lesson learned.  Save on lunches, save on coffee, don't skip the gym. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

San Francisco favorite frames

I just came back from spending six days with my daughter, Zoe, in San Francisco.  One of my favorite tools from Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts is to talk about "favorite frames/moments" of an experience, so that's what I will do:


- Arriving in San Francisco airport and trying to find Zoe, while we both talked on our phones and then turned around and saw her and we both cracked up
- The greatest first hug
- Walking around the city with Zoe and talking, talking, about everything and everyone
-Going to the movies (one of our favorite pastimes.  We saw "50/50" - which we both loved)
-Surviving Fleet Week and the Blue Angels as their fighter jets swooped down over the city practically giving us heart attacks - especially when we were in a cab and the driver screamed
-Wandering through the Western Addition and finding Hayes Valley, which felt like an oasis with a big park filled with parents and their kids
-Watching Zoe's delight upon entering Isotope, a terrific comic book store
-Walking into a beautiful charcuterie a few doors down from Isotope and discovering one of Zoe's former co-workers, Nathan, behind the counter
-Going to Alanon meetings in San Francisco and meeting so many lovely people
-Meeting Wayne, a high school friend, who showed me around the Castro (we saw Harvey Milk's old photography store and Delores Park, as well as the Castro Theater)
-Having a fantastic lunch with Eric, the person who hired me to work at the Corcoran Group and a total sweetheart.  He moved out to San Francisco for his partner's new job and is adjusting to moving back home, after enjoying life in NYC
-Visiting It's A Grind with and without Zoe
-Great meals with Zoe at her favorite restaurants and more walking
-The Nook, a great place for reading and drinking coffee
-Hanging out with Zoe's roommates and Ian and Natalia
-Sleeping in the same bed the morning I left because the couch was finally just too uncomfortable
-A long goodbye hug
-Driving to the airport and seeing some beautiful scenery on the way - remembering what I do love about California, nature, the hills, the sky, the ocean

It was a more challenging trip this time, since last year I went with my friend Karen and Christian was also there.  But this time I really made the effort to get to know the city better, to meet people and to spend more time on my own, as well as with Zoe.  It was fantastic.  It was a delight.  I miss Zoe but I am so proud of the life she's made there.  When I moved out to Los Angeles in my early 20's I felt so lonely.  Zoe seems to have adjusted well and created a wonderful community.

It was hard being away from New York while Occupy Wall Street continues to grow and San Francisco's efforts to find a place to camp have been prevented by the mayor, but it was a wonderful visit and I look forward to seeing Zoe again soon. And now I can go back to marching and it feels great to be home.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Truly, the best of times (and the worst too)

In the past two and a half years, I lost everything that I thought was well, everything. I lost my daughter to California, 3,000 miles away. I lost my 23 year marriage. I lost my mother. I lost my home. I lost my job. Recently, I lost my beloved dog, Lola.

And as hard as these past two and a half years have been, they have also been an incredible growing experience, unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Perception, that is the key.  Sometimes, I have felt that I couldn't go on, that life was too difficult.

Most of the time, I am filled with gratitude for having had a spiritual awakening, a shift in perception of my circumstances, a re-evaluation of what is really important to me - my daughter, my friends, my writing, my job, my faith - that is what has kept me together. Being of service and showing up, being more empathetic and grateful for simple things in life. 

I lost something else, about 15 pounds.  "The Divorce Diet" - I wouldn't recommend it as a way to lose weight, but it definitely was one of the perks. 

I read an amazing chapter yesterday in Steve Chandler's book "Time Warrior" and here is the last part of the chapter:

"...whenever something comes crashing down something else can start building up.  And that's where I want my mind to go.  What's good about this?  What's great about this?  What strengthens me?  What can make me better?

Here's a fresh option of perception: These are good times because they are challenging, not in spite of the fact that they are challenging.  These times are my wake-up call.  This is where I get my true strength.  This where where I find out what I am made of.  Who would not want to find out what they are made of?"

Friday, September 30, 2011

Two years ago tomorrow, October 1, 2009

I mentioned that sometimes I look back at where I was a couple of years ago, to see how far I've come.  




This post was quite striking - it was titled "Cafe Metro and the God of Carnage."  


What a difference two years make.  I'm back in Manhattan, I'm working and so happy to feel that my life is at least about being of service and being productive.  My play is moving along - who knows if anything will happen, but it's great that people are working on getting it up.  I've dated some very nice men.  I'm dealing with life - some days are challenging and some days are easy, but I am filled with gratitude for how far I've come.  I don't cry in restaurants.








October 2, 2009
 


Yesterday was a productive day as I continued packing and occasionally checking in on Facebook.  There was a good debate going on among people I don't know, regarding the Senate finance committee's rejection of the public option.  I enjoyed reading their comments as I sorted through old boxes of tax records.  (Later on, I watched the Daily Show and continued to be amazed at how ineffectual the Democrats are in governing with a majority of votes in Congress.  You'd think it was 1994 when the Republicans took over both houses and Newt Gingrinch was in charge.  It's so depressing really - what is wrong with them??)  


Anyway, in the late afternoon I went to a meeting of freelance people and we talked about work.  After the  meeting, a friend of mine said to me, "Wow, you look fantastic!  Radiant."  A couple of months ago, my friend Mia told me,"Tragedy becomes you."  



Maybe it's the release of so many emotions and the stress that taking care of my mother has been on me for so many years. I appreciated the compliment and I was in a good mood.  A friend of mine gave me her ticket to see "God of Carnage" last night, because she has a bad cold.  The cast is James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels.  I was excited about seeing the play and just before I went to the theater I stopped at one of those ubiquitous cafes that are all over the city, I think it was Cafe Metro, or maybe it was Cafe Europa, on 7th Avenue between 31st and 32n Streets.  I ordered a small vegetable and rice soup and sat alone at a table.  It was close to seven p.m. and it was dark out already, and as I sat in the cafe eating my soup, I suddenly started to cry.  


I can't tell you how many times I've eaten alone at one of those cafes.  But suddenly the combination of knowing that winter is coming and it's so dark and cold (last night was particularly cold), and feeling unrooted, missing my family, worrying about the dogs, knowing that soon Steve and I have to sit down with the lawyers, all of that hit me and I couldn't stop crying.  I didn't make a scene, I just quietly sat there trying to eat the vegetable and rice soup.  I called my dear friend Lisa and couldn't reach her, so I left a message.  Within two minutes she called me back from the checkout line at Whole Foods.  



Lisa went through a divorce about ten years ago and her advice always is: you have to go through the pain to get past it.  And it will get better, much better - eventually - but not until time has passed and you've processed the feelings. 



I felt much better talking to Lisa, finished the soup and walked uptown through Times Square to the theater.  I met a woman I'd never met before, my friend Barbara's friend, Robin. She was very easy to talk to and loves to go swing dancing, so we agreed to go out together to dance.  



The play was about two married couples who meet to discuss their young sons - one of them hit the other with a stick, knocking out two front teeth.  Within half an hour they're all arguing and it's clear that both marriages have serious problems.  James Gandolfini delivers a speech about marriage, about the difficulties inherent in sharing a life with someone, raising kids, coping with losses, and aging parents, and all the crises that come up over the years. I have written similar speeches over the years myself.  I didn't love the play, the characters were all basically unsympathetic, but I definitely related to the subject and it was a true pleasure watching excellent performances.  


I thought about Pema Chodron quite a bit last night, as I was feeling all the emotions and I knew that just having them, and allowing them to move through me, is exactly where I need to be right now.  Things are falling apart... and they are also slowly coming together.  


As a footnote, yesterday, my mother's former aide, Janis, was visiting in the building for Rosh Hashanah.  I had suggested that she work for my upstairs neighbor's mother and it has all worked out so well.  It was difficult for me to see Janis, after so many years of spending weekends with her and my mom.  But it was great too.  And I'm so happy that she is working with a lovely woman who adores and appreciates her.

Dancing with what is

Last night, at 1:30 am, Lucy, my 16 year-old beagle had to go out for a walk.  This rarely happens, but  it means something is wrong and I will probably have to take Lucy back to the vet.

The other day, on my way to work, something told me to go to the vet to buy Lucy some of her special dog food.  I didn't really feel like going that morning, but my feet seemed to take me there.  I walked into the animal hospital and there was one person sitting in the waiting area, a very dear friend of mine.  She was there to put her cat, Dash, down.  They were putting in the catheter.  I haven't seen my friend in almost a year, other than on Facebook, even though we live across the street from each other.  Our kids were friends since they were 3 years-old.  We have been through many life events together, loss of parents, divorces, all kinds of changes.  We were together at the gym when the first plane flew into the World Trade Center.  Our families marched together with candles after 9.11. 

I stayed until Dash was euthanized and we walked back to SoHo together, talking about loss and life.  It was beshert, as they say in Hebrew, or Yiddish, or whatever language it is.  It was meant to be.

We dance with what is in life - make the best of sometimes really difficult situations.  For me, literally dancing, putting on music and letting myself dance, has been a lifesaver.  A life changer.  It changes our outlook on life when we move our bodies.  My life changed dramatically when I started dancing again.

Some days, I don't feel like dancing.  Most days, in fact.  But running on the treadmill with music accomplishes the same thing for me.  My body and my mind shift gears. Yoga does this for me too, I think I'll put on some music and dance and then do a little yoga.  I'm tired and worried about Lucy, but I think it will help if I can let myself dance with what is...my sixteen year-old dog is not feeling well and that makes me sad.  But it's just life.  Dash was 18 years-old.  She had a good, long life.  She was loved.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coffee as an antidote to depression

The New York Times reported yesterday that women who drink coffee are less likely to be depressed. This is news?  Coffee got me out of bed and moving for years.  I didn't drink it for many years and a couple of those years I was extremely depressed. 

Don't Buddhist monks drink green tea all the time?  Caffeine is the most addictive psycho-active drug in the world.  According to the article, "further research studies will be needed to understand caffeine's affects."  Why don't they just drink a cup?  And save the hundreds of thousands of dollars that will be wasted on more studies?  And why don't they talk about men?  Men drink just as much coffee as women. 

I'm going to San Francisco next week to visit my daughter, who used to work in a coffee house.  I will do my own studies there, since there are coffee houses on almost every corner. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happiness

Maybe it's because I am going to visit my daughter next week, or maybe it's because after many days of rain and clouds, the sun is shining - whatever the reason, I am feeling happy today. 

It's not that I don't often feel happy, I just don't write about it very often.  Maybe it's because there are a group of young people downtown protesting near Wall Street and it makes me happy that this young generation is finally taking the stage.

I also feel encouraged about our President, who seems to finally be acting like the person we elected - standing up to the Republicans and the Tea Party.  Sometimes it feels like the only people who have the courage of their convictions are people like Jon Stewart, Michael Moore and Bill Maher. 

I am not happy that there are so many problems in this world.  But for this moment, as I look out the window and see the sun shining and beautiful light - and I know that in just a couple of hours I will be riding my bicycle along the river - I feel grateful for my life.  Being alive is a great gift.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reorganizing

Sometimes, when I haven't written in awhile, I like to look back to where I was two years ago and see how far I've come. (Or not.)

I have been feeling a bit blue lately and my first thought was, "Well, you're not married anymore, so you should feel relieved and happy!  And free!"  And a part of me does feel that, but also a part of me recognizes that my ex was not the cause of my unhappiness, really no one else is responsible for my moods but me.  I am responsible for myself and therefore there is no one to blame or criticize (not even myself.) When I looked back this morning, I read this quote from Pema Chodron:


"The first noble truth says that if you are alive, if you have a heart, if you can love, if you can be compassionate, if you can realize the life energy that makes everything change, and move and grow and die, then you won't have any resentment or resistance.  The first noble truth says simply that it's part of being human to feel discomfort."

So I accept that I feel some discomfort today.  And I also acknowledge how far I've come from two years ago and how grateful I am for everything - all the difficulties and all the accomplishments.  I won't list them, I'll simply say it's been a period of reorganizing.  In a grief workshop I went to two years ago (you can look back at that blog post, which was in October 2009) the leader of the workshop talked about different periods of grief (other than the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross model) - and the final stage was reorganization.  That is where it feels I am today. 


And although the country and the world is in no better shape (well, actually worse in many ways) I feel encouraged that there are some interesting people showing up, including Elizabeth Warren, who talks about truths and ideas for the economy that make sense.  My hope is that Wall Street will be held accountable for their part in the mess we're in.  Is this dreaming?  No, I don't think so.  I think we are slowly starting to wake up from the past thirty years of policies that have almost ruined our country - and that now we will make changes, we will get mad as hell, and I feel hopeful that the stage we are moving into as a nation is "reorganization."  

Monday, September 19, 2011

A message from Kabbalah

Every morning I receive emails from some spiritual source or another and today I read one from Yehuda Berg, who write about Kaballah. 

He wrote about negativity and it seemed so perfect for what I have been going through recently, I thought I would share it:

"One of the greatest things we can learn from Kabbalah is how to pass through the pain of life without suffering.

The Zohar explains that pain purifies and removes the shells of negativity (klipot) that surround our inner Light, and that suffering is resistance to this pain. The klipot are created by our negative deeds, and they cover and limit our spiritual development. They are barriers between us and the Light.

We often approach our daily lives with the mindset of avoiding pain at all costs. And the moment we do feel it, we immediately look for ways to anesthetize ourselves. The Zohar teaches that by resisting the pain, we are only creating bigger problems for ourselves in the future. Pain is transitory but suffering sticks around and keeps us stuck.

With klipot constantly clinging to us—these negative shells make it hard for us to grow and change. But if we want to go to our next level in spiritual awareness, love, friendships, career, we need to go through the painful process of separating ourselves from our klipot. And we separate ourselves from our klipot every time we put our all into a job and it fails, every time someone we love goes away, every time our trust is broken—in other words, every time we take a risk and get hurt.

Contrary to what it feels like in the moment, pain is actually a sign that something good is on the way. Think about painful moments in your past. Does what I am writing ring true for you?

This week, it’s important to remind ourselves that the pain is good—it’s our klipot cracking. And once this separation heals, we will be stronger, healthier and one step closer to our true fulfillment."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mornings

For some reason, I've always found mornings to be my worst time of day.  Some mornings are fine -- this morning, for example, even though it's really cold out and I am not happy about that, I feel great.

But many mornings are very challenging for me.  I wake up with a sense of gloom and I really have to pull myself out of it.  I know I'm not unusual, many people feel that way in the mornings and I've heard of others say around 3 pm they start to get depressed.

I don't know how anyone can not be depressed these days.  I'm glad that George Bush is no longer our President, but the world is a mess, politics are disgusting, hundreds of thousands of innocent lives have been lost in the past ten years, the economy is...okay, now I'm probably depressing anyone who might be reading this.

Somehow, despite these feelings of despair, every morning I meditate and yesterday, when I was feeling really sad, I suddenly remembered Pema Chodron's words to "lean into whatever you're feeling" so I did.  I said, "I feel really depressed. I just want to stay in bed."  And then I meditated, read, went to the gym, made a few calls to friends who are going through difficult times and by 10 am, the feelings past.  Like clouds in the sky, they seem to always move.  It's an interesting business, life.  I want to feel that what I am doing is of service and I'm not quite feeling that these days.  But I show up and do my best and trust that I will find my way.

I just finished a new draft of "Scrambled Eggs" (I still hate the title) and now I feel that it's so much closer to where it should be.  So this morning, when I woke up, I didn't feel any despair.  I felt cold, but happy. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nightmares

Yesterday was a difficult day.  I was walking up Broadway in the 70's and I heard bagpipes.  It brought me back to that period after 9/11 where there were constant funerals and you frequently heard bagpipes.  The ceremony was at Engine House #25 on the upper west side.  I saw all the firemen (I didn't see any women at this firehouse) wearing their dress uniforms.  It was very moving. 

The whole day seemed very sad and I still can't believe ten years have passed.

At night, I got a text message from my neighbor, Barbara, that there were seats available at a screening of the Bill Cunningham NY film at the Crosby Street Hotel, so I ran over to see it (again) and afterward the filmmakers discussed the making of the film.  That was a good diversion from the day.  Bill Cunningham has never seen this wonderful film about him.

I woke up this morning around 4:45 am from a nightmare about my dog, Lucy, dying.  She's 16 and she's definitely starting to look her age.  My father was in the dream, he and I were in the vet's office and I had to leave the room.  He came to tell me that Lucy had died.  

Since our dreams are supposed to be about ourselves...was it a part of me that died?  I'm not sure.  

My other neighbors, Louise and Charley, lost one of their beloved dogs two weeks ago.  His name was Truman and he was a very sweet dog and only 4 years old.  

I'm learning how to sit with the feelings and this week I feel some dread about life and work.  But I also know that I need to stay in this one day and not worry about the future.  

And right now, Lucy is sleeping nearby, and I am so grateful that she is still in my life.  On 9/11, when we went out to pick up our daughter, Zoe, from school in the midst of that nightmare, we didn't know if we would ever see Lucy again.  Ten years later, almost everything in my life has changed, but Lucy is still here with me.  I love her so much, we've been through a lot together, including losing Lola.  I think I'll go give her a big hug and a kiss.  And then I'll take her out for her walk. The sun is shining, it's going to be a good day. 

 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/11

I don't believe that there are any words that I can write that will have much meaning, I think that the images of that day and probably the images that we'll see today will be far more moving than anything I can say.

I am angry that ten years later we have gone down a path that we should never have gone down and that rather than finding a way to communicate and come to some kind of peaceful co-existence in a very fragile world, we have only added violence to violence.  

Some days I feel despair about the state of the world and then other days, when I think about the spiritual leaders who have come forward, like Eckhart Tolle and Pema Chodron, and the increased interest in meditation and prayer and non-violent communication, I think that maybe there is a growing movement for change and peace.  


My personal life has changed dramatically since that beautiful summer day in September that turned into a nightmare.  These past few difficult years for me have been an opportunity for spiritual growth.  For the hundreds of thousands around the world who lost their loved ones senselessly, in wars and violence that never should have happened, I don't know how they have found their way through it.  


I hope their lives have been transformed in wondrous ways - as often happens when catastrophes occur.  


I know that some of them have found support through their connections with each other. I read somewhere recently, that crying with others around you is healing.  I found that through Friends In Deed. I wish there were thousands of FIDs around the world.



Really, there are no words. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The difficult "C"

I recently found out that a dear friend, a man who has been there for me so many times over the past eight years, has been dealing with cancer.

He's finished with radiation and they're certain it hasn't spread.  It's next to a bone in his leg though and the radiation caused damage to the bone, so he is now living with some pretty intense pain, which makes it difficult to walk.

I just want to say how much I am praying for my friend.  He's been a huge support to many people and now I hope we can all repay him in whatever way he will let us.

If anyone has suggestions about how best to be of service to someone who really resists asking for help, please let me know.

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More awake in our lives - and laughing too

"We sit in meditation so that we're more awake in our lives." Pema Chodron


Sometimes I just want to laugh and I need to laugh.  If you haven't seen "Modern Family" - watch it.  It is truly funny.  

I know Ty Burrell, who is one of the stars of the show.  He's one of the nicest people I've ever met and incredibly talented.  I couldn't be happier for him - to be so successful in a role that no one else could play as well (at least in my opinion).





Friday, September 2, 2011

This very moment is the perfect teacher

Last night, we watched Spielberg's documentary about 9/11 - at least two or three hours of it.  It was so moving, so emotionally trying and so beautiful. 

The title of the next chapter in "When Things Fall Apart" is this very moment is the perfect teacher.  I was thinking about the anniversary of 9/11 - now ten years.   I was remembering all the feelings of that day, with my ex-husband and my daughter, with our downtown community.  I think I have never experienced anything as profound as that experience, other than giving birth to Zoe.  It was quite a learning experience - mostly about the power of community, and going through difficult feelings, of friends and a city coming together.  Of hatred and forgiveness and of feeling so out of control as our country moved in directions that felt so wrong to so many of its citizens.  It feels like we've been shut down for these past ten years and maybe now that politics feel so out of touch with real life - now that we have a Tea Party and Republicans who are trying to destroy the middle class, maybe something will wake us all up. 

It is quite uncomfortable but as Pema Chodron says, "feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually clear moments that teach us where it is we're holding back.  They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we're rather collapse and move away."

To me, that is where this country is right now, collapsed and feeling hopeless.  Maybe we need to really lean in and perk up.  Maybe this anniversary of 9/11 will bring us back to life, to letting go of the grief and seeing the power of what can be done in the shadow of such a horrific event; life and art, incredibly difficult hard work and genius will be so evident in what they have created in such a sacred place.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Drowning

One of the most important lessons I’ve had to learn, struggle with, accept – was something my therapist, Michael Eigen, always tried to teach me.  I couldn’t get it for years.  Then Buddhism and 12 Step rooms re-enforced the concept and now I still struggle with it, but I’m getting better at it.  The lesson is to not fight whatever feelings are in me – to accept them – to welcome them.  The more you fight them, the more they linger.

It is like drowning.  When you fight the waves, when you struggle and exhaust yourself, you drown.  When you relax into the water, when you find the moments you can breathe and trust that you will not drown, then you live.  That was my experience in a rip tide when I was in my early 20’s.  I was in Malibu, swimming on a beach with no lifeguards.  I went out into the waves, confident, having grown up on Long Island beaches, and I experienced, for the first time, what a rip tide is.  At first I was tossed around underwater and I was terrified.  My first thought was “this is it. You are going to drown.”  And my second thought was, “Do not panic.  That is how people drown.”  Since there was no one there who could save me, I had to do it on my own, I somehow managed to stay calm and not exhaust myself, and I lived.  It was a lesson in trusting myself and that inner voice that knows the truth.  I wish that I had remembered it all these years – it’s a good way to live.  Quietly, listening to that voice. 

Not the other voices, that are louder, and more critical.  You’re doing it wrong, you’re a fuck-up, you’re going to make a mistake, you’re not good enough.

No.  Just calm down and trust.  That will be my mantra for today.  Let’s see how it goes. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gratitude today

I couldn't let this morning pass without saying how grateful I am for getting through this past week - with its many challenges.  First we had a 5.9 earthquake to deal with and although I didn't actually feel it, it definitely scared me!  And before we had a chance to process that unusual occurrence, we had a serious hurricane bearing down on us.

I would say that the entire east coast deserves a break.  This morning is so beautiful, bright blue skies and cool temperatures, it's a perfect day to be grateful for having survived a very intense week.  

I have to admit, I was a bit scared about the hurricane and I definitely went stir crazy waiting - but I did quite a bit of de-cluttering and ate well (thanks to Nate, Abigail's son) and I read and went to the gym.  I'm sorry that the storm caused so many problems, but hopefully we won't face anything like this past week again for another seventy or so years. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thomas Wolfe on loneliness

Since everything is shut down today, I've been de-cluttering.  I found a book of quotations and read this wonderful quote by Thomas Wolfe:

"The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself, and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence."

Sunday morning - Hurricane Irene aftermath

New York and all the states seems to have really learned from Hurricane Katrina and their emergency plans were in place.  Also, the hurricane really hasn't been much of a storm, at least not in the city.  Outside of the city, it was terrible. 

I was a little scared, I have to admit, but it was lovely to be here with Abigail and Nate.  Nate cooked us a fantastic dinner, chicken tikka masala and dal.  

We watched a rather odd film called "The Trip."  

Here are some photos from a walk through SoHo this morning.  The scaffolding on top of the Puck Building is leaning over the front of the building and Lafayette Street is blocked off to traffic.  That was really the only damage I could see, other than some tree branches falling.


New York City was very lucky. 



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting closer

As the hurricane makes its way up the coast, it is eerily quiet in NYC.  All the stores in SoHo have signs saying, "Due to inclement weather, we will be closed Saturday and Sunday."  

I think we're all trying to just stay calm and trust that the city has made the right emergency plans.  It definitely feels today like the calm before the storm.

It's a good time to remember the Serenity Prayer, to read a good book, and to not watch the Weather Channel.  I also hope to get motivated tomorrow to de-clutter and keep busy.  How I will walk Lucy is going to be a challenge. 

As my friend Nelle from Capetown, South Africa said this morning, "We'll just have to take it in our stride."  
 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane watch

A hurricane is making its way up the eastern seaboard.  Abigail and I went grocery shopping today and we have more food in the loft than we've had in the two years I've lived here.  I just made a delicious pasta with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.  We have plenty of water, and ice cream.  Hopefully we won't lose power.

It seems that the hurricane is being downgraded and probably won't be that bad - but I think it's great that the city has been preparing for it.  I thought of my mother because she would have had to have been evacuated.  I missed her - those feelings come up without warning, I just feel sad and miss having her to talk to.

All public transportation will be shut down by noon tomorrow.  Soho will be deserted!!   I'm hoping it is not a serious hurricane and it passes through with no damage and no loss of life.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hit by a 2 x 4 - an epiphany

I had a good realization early this morning, while meditating.  It started yesterday, when I was having a difficult day.  I was walking back from Tribeca, after showing a loft, and I was so exhausted I could barely make it back to my office.  I called a friend and he told me his back was killing him and as we were talking, I passed a bed store.  I said, "Oh, I think I'm going inside this bed store and lie down on a really comfortable bed."  And he said, "Oh, the Hastens bed store? My friend is the manager there."

It turned out that the Hastens store was next to the other bed store, so I went inside the Hastens store, walked over to a bed and lay down on top of the bed.  I felt like I was being held by the most loving arms.  The saleswoman came over and we started to talk, she was so nice.  Eventually I told her my tale of woe - we had one of these fantastically comfortable beds, got divorced, daughter left, yadayada, my litany of pain.  She was so sweet, she said, "You know, we are having a sweepstakes to give away a bed, probably the one you had - you should enter! I bet you'll win!"  

And then I tried the less expensive bed that I was surely going to win, and then I asked, which is the best bed in the store?

I tried the most expensive bed in the store, I won't even tell you the price - it's insane - okay, $90,000.  I know, it's craaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzy, but someone, like Oprah, surely has this bed.  And honestly, I liked the first one better (that was only $19,000.)  But anyway, the saleswoman said, "Here, let me turn down the lights over the bed and you relax for five minutes."  We continued talking and she told me that her mom lives in Jamaica and she and her sister both live far away and how much her mother misses them.  I got a bit teary, talking about Zoe, and also remembering how important it is for our kids to have their own lives, no matter where they chose to go.  Somehow, the combination of resting and talking and a few tears, totally transformed my day. I was energized and able to go back to the office.

And then this morning, I was meditating and it hit me that 2009, the terrible, worst year of my life, was really in many ways, the best.  It was the year that I lived the Serenity Prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  Before 2009 I said those words, I tried to believe those words, but after 2009 I started to really live them.

This morning I realized that now it's my responsibility to take each day and make the most of it, often simply by trusting my instincts about what to do.  Sometimes I feel tired, or sad, or afraid, but by the end of every day, I have a feeling of acceptance.  

In my reading today of "When Things Fall Apart," Pema Chodron writes about when she became the director of Gampo Abbey and all her delusions about what a great person she was - the golden girl, etc., were completely shattered.  She eventually learned this lesson, "Love the truth of you on the spot." 

I think that, like me, she appreciated the suffering she did that first year at Gampo Abbey, just as I have appreciated the changes these two years have brought me.  They weren't all easy, but there were definitely many moments of laughter and some amazing gifts.  They literally brought me to my knees, but the growth has been worth it. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Nailed to the present moment"

Today is Tuesday, August 23, 2011.  It is 8:50 am, the weather is totally beautiful, not humid, not hot, a perfect day.

Today, Libya is in chaos.  The rebels seems to be overthrowing the government, although there are still some questions about how they will manage to actually govern, if they do succeed in getting rid of Qadhafi. 


The world economy remains in a tenuous state.  There is fighting all over.  There is illness and birth and great sadness, and memories of 9/11 as we get closer to the 10th anniversary.  Today's weather reminds me of 9/11/01.

This is what I read today in "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron:

"The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought.  That's what we're going to discover again and again and again.  Nothing is what we thought.  I can say that with great confidence.  Emptiness is not what we thought.  Neither is mindfulness or fear.  Compassion - not what we thought. Love, Buddha nature.  Courage.  These are code words for things we don't know in our minds, but any of us could experience them.  These are words that point to what life really is when we let things fall apart and let ourselves be nailed to the present moment."

Whatever we are feeling in the present moment, is good.  Yesterday afternoon, I was feeling some discomfort and I didn't enjoy it.  But I sat with it and then I had a conversation with a friend who had also had some difficult feelings during the day - and before too long, we were both laughing and somehow the feelings lifted.  I remember saying, if I just let the feelings in and don't fight them, somehow they lift.  After we hung up, I received an email thanking me for something I'd said in an earlier email and that totally lifted my spirits.  

Today I will live in the present moment and experience whatever shows up. But first I will buy dog food.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lesson from Kabbalah


This morning I received a message from Yehuda Berg, a Kabbalah teacher, that I thought was worth sharing. I realized my spiritual path began years ago when I read the Tao de Ching, and it has encompassed so many different teachers, so I think it's important to share whatever message comes along that resonates for me:

If we are on a spiritual path, we are going to struggle. It’s not easy. It’s hard to let go of our fears, it’s hard to stop being jealous, it’s hard to constantly work on ourselves.

And the hardest part is seeing—seeing the true reality. How often have we looked back on a broken friendship or love relationship and thought to ourselves, “What did I see in that person?”

The truth is we don’t see. As it says in the Zohar, the main text of Kabbalah, “the eyes cannot comprehend everything.”

This is because we are trapped in the moment, trapped within the illusion of the five senses.

So what’s the answer? How do we get out of this trap?

We peel away the layers of our ego.

My father and teacher, Kabbalist Rav Berg, says our soul is like a lamp that we cover with blankets. Our ego nature conceals the Light within us. Me, me, me, me, me. “I can’t believe he said that to me.” “What will they think of me?” “Look at me, I am great.” “Look at me, I’m pathetic.”

Being constantly obsessed with ourselves prevents us from seeing what is really going on.

Only when we remove our ego, piece by piece, are we able to see the truth in situations and people.

The secret is to see others first and ourselves second. Only then can we have the merit to rise above the limitations of our five senses and turn on our sixth sense.

What exactly is the sixth sense? It is the ability to see something we’ve never seen before, to suddenly get the answer to questions we’ve been constantly asking.

After all, what is Kabbalah? It is learning to receive. And we receive not through the intellect, but through connecting to the Light.

This week, the forces of the universe are pushing us to see our purpose; to perceive that which normally eludes us. We are given an opportunity to see that which we are normally blind to, by simply letting go of our ego.

The following tools can help us to connect to this positive influence:

• Transformative sharing

• Getting out of the comfort zone

• Removing the agendas

And as always, scanning the Zohar and the 72 Names of God are our allies in our battle to experience the joy our Creator intended for us.

Try it—you’ll like what you see.
All the best, Yehuda

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fear, and more fear

I imagine there's a way to look up how many times "fear" has appeared in the title of these blog posts.  Many times, I am certain, would be the answer. 

It's a constant, although not always acknowledged part of everyone's lives, I believe.  And the more you try to live a more conscious life, the more you are aware of it. This doesn't mean it should stop you from taking risks and enjoying life, but it does mean you have to learn how to live with fear.  

"Intimacy with Fear" is the title of the first chapter of "When Things Fall Apart."  


"If we want to go beneath the surface and practice without hesitation, it is inevitable that at some point we will experience fear."  
 

Yesterday we met with two general managers to talk about the play and where it should go next.  It all sounded great - they are enthusiastic and interested and believe it has definite commercial potential.  As our director says, "We have a lot of ducks to get in a row."  Fortunately, we only need to get one duck at a time.   

In Steve Chandler's book, "Time Warrior" he quotes Michael Jordan:

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I've lost more than 300 games.  Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I've failed over and over and over again in my life...and that's why I succeed."  


Last night, I found out from a dear friend that her husband has been in and out of the hospital much of the summer.  I am thinking of her and praying for them both.  I hope I can do more than that, but for right now, that's all I can do.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news

In the reading this morning of "When Things Fall Apart," Pema Chodron's introduction to the book includes some quotes from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, her Buddhist teacher:

"Making friends with our own demons, and their accompanying insecurity leads to a very simple, understated relaxation and joy."

I really hope that someday, I can honestly say I've found this to work in my life.  Right now, I am pretty far from the experience of "a very simple, understated relaxation and joy."  

Rinpoche also gave her the instruction to relax and write. At the time, she never imagined that she would be able to.  She has spent many years now doing just that - so I think that there is hope.  

Her year of "doing nothing" in 1995, as she explains in the introduction, led her to one of her most important books, "When Things Fall Apart."  

"If your life is chaotic and stressful, there's plenty of advice here for you.  If you're in transition, suffering from loss, or just fundamentally restless, these teachings are tailor made.  The main point is that we all need to be reminded and encouraged to relax with whatever arises and bring whatever we encounter to the path."

The first time I read the book, I was in transition. The second time I was suffering from loss.  Now, I am just fundamentally restless.  My life has moved forward in a very challenging way, but I am still feeling fear and discomfort sometimes.  I think that this is life - and I am learning how to sit with it and not try to escape it. 

The final quote:

"Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news." 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

When Things Fall Apart - again

A few years ago I read Pema Chodron's book "When Things Fall Apart" when I was going through the most difficult time of my life and it helped me enormously.  I underlined it and re-read it and it was one of the ways I survived the break-up of my marriage, my mother's death and my daughter moving away from home.

I decided now is a good time to re-read it and so every day I'm going to read just one page and some days I will write about it.  Today I read the first page of the introduction and Pema mentions that in 1995 she took a sabbatical and "essentially did nothing."  She read and hiked and slept.  She meditated and wrote.  She said she had no agenda, and no shoulds.  That alone sounds like a great accomplishment in a society that values achievement, to step back and take time off.  I wonder if that was also the year she spent in silence.  I wish I could do something like that and maybe someday I will. 

She also spent the year reading the writing she had done over the years from her teachings and she discovered that she talked a great deal about maitri (loving kindness towards oneself) and from that practice, a fearless compassionate attitude towards others' pain.  

Last night I went to Friends In Deed's Tuesday night group and it was a very large meeting (they are about to go on vacation, so I guess many people felt the need to be there.)  I noticed how much compassion I felt towards most people, but there was one person whose pain was so intense, it made me uncomfortable.  I have to work on that, because sometimes pain is extremely intense and unbearable.  I did feel compassion, but I also had a difficult time allowing myself to connect with this particular woman.  She is definitely in a period of "groundlessness" - uncharted territory. 

In Pema's words, "dissolving the dualistic tension between us and them, this and that, good and bad, by inviting in what we usually avoid" - made me think about how I reacted to this woman. And I hope that during these next few weeks, she will be able to cope with all the fear and find her way through a maze of doctors and treatments and decisions.  
 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Groundlessness

I finally had time to watch the entire Bill Moyers interview with Pema Chodron and it really was such a fantastic learning experience.

She talked about several concepts - the one I want to talk about now is "groundlessness."  It's when something happens in your life that is so difficult, like a serious illness, or the loss of someone you love, or a divorce, anything that shakes you up and causes you to feel like the ground beneath your feet is gone - and at first you feel scared, but later on you come to realize how important that experience is to your personal growth.  

I can't imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn't been through these past two and a half years of fear, anxiety and challenge.  I would be living an unhappy life instead of an awake, scary and one day at a time kind of life.  I wouldn't have done all the reading and seeking I've done, I wouldn't have learned about standing on my own two feet again, I wouldn't have allowed myself the time to grieve and I wouldn't have moved through what felt like both a nightmare and a test.   


It's something I really want to write about and I'm trying to write about it - but I think I still need a little more distance before I can really do it justice.  I'm glad I kept this blog, even though I couldn't always write everything I wanted to write, I wrote enough to serve as a reminder of where I was and where I am now.


Grateful.  Filled with gratitude for the challenges.  And I'm happier, even though I miss my daughter and my mother.  I'm going to see Zoe in two months and I am so excited to see her again.  And I talk to my mother now and then and she doesn't have anything too annoying to say, so that's pretty nice. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Turning a corner

The combination of meditation and Steve Chandler's line yesterday about figuring out the perfect day, every day, gave me the opportunity to let go of my anger towards my ex (who will from now on be known as E - which I will explain sometime soon.)  

I had a perfect day yesterday - the weather was unbelievably gorgeous.  I met with a lovely couple who need to sell their loft, a 5th floor walk-up.  We sat for an hour and talked about life and real estate, too, of course.  One of my favorite things about real estate is that you really get to know all kinds of people - quickly - because you become so involved in their lives.

I went to the office for just a couple of hours and worked hard and then left, came home to Lucy and went for a walk.  It was too beautiful to stay home last night, so I went to a "meet-up" which involves many single people crowded onto a roof of a hotel.  It was so not pleasurable, I left after twenty minutes and walked home along the river.  

Every night I write at least three things I'm grateful for and it's always easy to think of more.  I wish that I could contribute more in the world, send more money to the horn of Africa, fix the government, work on climate control - I wish I had those skills.  But for right now, I'm meditating, sending out good thoughts into the world, trying to make a perfect day, a day at a time, and letting the years take care of themselves.  And I am so grateful for my daughter, my home, my job, my writing, my friends, NYC, my beloved Lucy, my health, all the lessons I've had these past few years, summertime, tomatoes, fruit, my iPhone which allows me to listen to music, call people and take photographs.

Today is another beautiful day.  Park Avenue is closed to traffic, so I'm going to get on my bike and ride uptown and then downtown on the west side.  And I will turn many corners.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Steve Chandler's advice today

From his new book "Time Warrior" -  "Don't create your year, create your day.  Figure out the perfect day and then live it.  The year will take care of itself. So will your life." 

Letting go of rage

The other day I found out that my ex husband did something that really made me angry. I won't go into it, because I don't want to hurt anyone, but I will say dealing with anger is always a challenge for me.  I don't like it.

So this morning, in my daily meditation, along with the challenge of just breathing and not letting this one incident hijack the meditation, I inhaled the anger and rage I was feeling and then I moved onto the situation in the horn of Africa, and the millions who are suffering and dying there, and the violence in the Congo, and then I breathed in the rioting in London and the rage of people there who are angry at their government, and then I breathed in the Tea Party and the Republicans, and the Democrats who seem to lack the courage to fight, and I tried to pretty cover the entire world in my meditation, breathing in the problems and breathing out the light. This is one of Pema's teachings, that all of us could connect in our meditation and she writes about it "Practicing Peace in Times of War." 

Do I feel better?  Not so much.  But I do feel more grounded and ready to face my day.  And fortunately for me, the overwhelming feeling I have in my life now is not anger, it's gratitude and appreciation.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Change of title

I don't know if my new title "Pre-meditated: Pema and me" will be acceptable to Blogger, but I thought I'd give it a try. 

I started this blog and wanted it to be about meditation and Pema Chodron's writings and somehow life got in the way.  But now I want to keep my focus again on meditation and I'd write more, but Lucy really needs to go for a walk.

In these difficult times, meditation seems to be the best answer for so many people.  Sit with the feelings, the fears.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Smile at Fear

I watched "Smile at Fear" a talk Pema Chodron gave last night and thought I'd post it here.  It's worth watching. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Envy again

I wish that envy never appeared in my life.  Right now, one of the most talented, kindest and most supportive people I know, is having all the success I have dreamt of.  No one deserves it more, no one has been more generous, not just to me. but to hundreds of writers and performers.  If any writer should be given sainthood, he should.  And still, I feel envious.

Life is simply difficult.  The glass is both half full and half empty.  


Last night, I took Lucy out for a walk and I ran into the young woman who manages the hotel across the street.  She mentioned that her parents had been visiting NY and that it was probably the last time they would be able to do so.  She told me that her mother, who is only 51, is going to be paralyzed, because of a tumor that's growing in her neck.  This young woman just turned 30.  She is too young to be dealing with such heartbreak.  I wished there was something I could do to help.  I know the only thing I can do is listen whenever we run into each other, if she feels like talking.  I wish there were something more I could do, but her parents live in South Africa. I told her about Friends In Deed. 

I am embarrassed that I feel envy about my writing, when life is filled with so many tragedies and challenges.  I know that Pema Chodron would say, "You're human.  Humans feel anger, envy, jealousy, rage, every single emotion. Feel them."  


I guess right now I feel mostly sad, for my friend and for her family and for everyone in the world who is suffering.  This is not an easy time for most people.  But I am happy for my writing friend - and I am grateful for my life, for Zoe and Abigail, my dear friends, and for Lucy is who now pacing in front of me, ready to go out for her next walk.

Monday, August 8, 2011

No more procrastinating

I've been in touch with Steve Chandler, the business coach who wrote two books I love - "Reinventing Yourself" and "Fearless."  He sent me a couple of his books and CD's.  I decided to start reading "Time Warrior" which, I believe, is his latest book.  The introduction talks about not putting things off for later, but simply doing them as they come along.  So I sent off my latest pages of the play, which I have re-written, to my writing partner and I will try to take care of everything as it comes along today and see how it goes.  

I did hear a great story about Pema Chodron yesterday.  A friend of mine is up in Nova Scotia, where a thousand people have come together to meditate.  Pema was speaking to them yesterday and someone's cell phone went off right in the middle of her talk. The cell phone played a tune and she started dancing to it.  

Good lessons for life. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pema is always right

This morning I woke up with a headache and with fear.  I read that The S & P lowered the U.S.'s rating and I immediately went deeper into fear.

Fear has a way of expanding in record time.  One minute you feel a little sad, a little headache-y and the next minute, you're thinking, "Life completely sucks, I just want to go to bed and never get up."

So I did my mediation this morning and eventually I heard Pema Chodron's voice say, "Sit with the fear.  Welcome it.  Don't fight it."  

And gradually the fear lifted a bit.  Not a lot, I'm still contemplating getting back into bed after I walk Lucy.  But then I thought about the ending of my play and I started writing and suddenly I was occupied and not thinking so much about the fear.


So the pain this morning led me to that.  I can't erase fear, or escape it, I just have to sit with it and let it lead me to where I am supposed to be led.

POSTSCRIPT:

I just did my daily readings and found this quote:


"Courage faces fear and thereby masters it."  Martin Luther King

Friday, August 5, 2011

Empowerment

Yesterday, after I left my lawyer's office and said goodbye, I was feeling shaky and sad.  I went to Central Park and sat on a bench and my friend Karen called and suggested that we meet.  

We went for a walk in the park.  She and her husband divorced a little over ten years ago, after a 25+ year marriage.  She said her divorce made her feel empowered and that the years since have been some of the best of her life.  We walked through the park for a long time and then sat on another bench.  Eventually, we ended up near Lincoln Center, having a light dinner and then walked over to Lincoln Center to listen to a band that was performing outdoors.  

It was an excellent night and I thought about these last two years and how challenging they've been.  I still care about my ex-husband, I'm not the kind of person who can flip a switch on and off.  I wish him well.  And I do feel empowered and different than the person I was a few years ago. 

I've learned so much about walking through fear, change and grief -- they weren't lessons I really wanted to learn, they were painful.  

But mostly I'm just grateful for a perfect summer night, in Central Park and Lincoln Center, with a really dear friend.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When meditation is all you can do

1. You're stressed out.
2. It's been a long day.
3. You would like to just buy a one-way ticket to somewhere like Bali and never return.
4. It's raining.
5. You have bug bites.
6. You want to stuff yourself with ice cream, but you know you can't.
7. You want to go shopping somewhere, but you know you can't.
8. You'd like to pick up someone, but you know...
9. You're thinking about a dance break, but it requires too much energy.
10. You're feeling lonely.
11. You wonder about the meaning of life?
12. You wonder why you're still wondering when you're so well beyond the halfway point of your life and shouldn't you know by now?
13. You're not in acceptance about what is.
14. Or what isn't.
15. I guess breathing is the way to go.  Sit and breathe.  
16. You're thinking you could probably come up with at least another 16 things, but why?
17. 20 seems like a good cut-off.
18. Uh-oh you may have to stop at 18.
19. You could call someone, but you can't think of who?
20. This living one day at a time sucks.  You know? 
21. The meaning of life is enjoying the passage of time.  There ain't nothing to it, any fool can do it. Really?
22. I'm on a roll.
23. I miss my daughter.
24. I'm onto the "I's" now, and that's not good.
25. My bug bites itch. Did I say that?

POST SCRIPT:  Rather than meditate, I decided to put on my Ipod and sing and dance, while cleaning out a couple of drawers.  It worked!  LSD, laugh, sing and dance, everyday! (Okay, I didn't quite laugh, but I did sing and dance.)  And I feel MUCH better.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's a new day

Finally, we have settled on a divorce agreement. The paperwork has been signed, at least I know for sure that I signed it last week, I'm sure by now my ex-husband (that's a new word for me) has signed it too.  

And now we can really move on with both our lives.  In fact, we have both moved on and we haven't spoken or seen each other in a long time.  E-mails were exchanged last week, after I found out through our lawyers that my mother-in-law had recently died.  

I wish us both new and interesting lives.  I hope our daughter will always know that she comes first for both of us and that we love her deeply.  My greatest wish is that we can find a way to be there for her, separately and also together, if she needs us to be.  

It is time to move on and enjoy my life, to stand on my own two feet and to have a life that is filled with friends, satisfying work, meaningful relationships, fun, and gratitude.  I hope to be able to be supportive of others who are in the midst of difficult life changes, including divorce, and to be of service in my life.  

I am so grateful, beyond words, to the friends who have helped me through these past two years. I don't know how I would have survived the loss of a long marriage, the death of my mother, my daughter moving so far away, the death of my beloved dog, no job, and having to move.  It was too much and yet, it was all taken care of. There were many tears and many days of not knowing what to do next, but somehow it all worked out.  Perfectly.

And somehow it always does.  

When I was leaving town last week, after signing the papers, I saw an Oprah magazine on a stand, with a headline that read, "Let Your Intuition Be Your Guide."  My intuition told me to buy it.  When I opened the magazine it was on a story about Jane Fonda.  She talked about how she had a nervous breakdown after the end of her second marriage, and when her third marriage ended, she had the realization that she really needed to stop marrying men and stand on her own, find out what she wanted in her life and not rush into another relationship.  Nine years later, nine fulfilling and interesting years of work and friends - at the age of 71, she found a man she loves and enjoys being her true self with.  I didn't marry in my twenties, so I had plenty of time before I got married to discover my "true" self, but after twenty-three years of marriage, I'm not sure who that true self is anymore.  It's time to give myself the chance to find that out again.  Who knows where that journey will lead?