Sunday, June 12, 2016

Soundtrack of my Life

The Hollywood Bowl, a lovely summer evening and a concert by Paul Simon.

And so I spent an evening totally immersed in the music that provided the background to heartbreak all those years ago.  What fun.  The music still brings tears to my eyes and the sounds still sound fresh.

The whole musical experience is a reminder that sometimes the very best experiences bring even richer experiences as it is repeated.  Listening to those songs, the classic "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover," and "Mrs. Robinson" had an even deeper resonance today when heard in the context of all those sad and fun events in which I first listened.  They remind me of all I have survived in moving from the youthful exuberance of the adolescent to the experience of today's adult.

Thank you, Paul Simon for reminding me of how much I have seen to reach the understanding I now have. . . . slip out the back, Jack.  Making new plans, Stan.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Take care of You

Resources for you when you're feeling overwhelmed:

What to Do If You Need Help

We have been getting an overwhelming response to this article and wanted to add a few things. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends this site. It also warns that reporting on suicide can lead to so-called suicide contagion, in which exposure to the mention of suicide within a person’s family, peer group or in the media can lead to an increase in suicides.
There are many groups that help people having suicidal thoughts. One, Crisis Text Line, inspired by teenagers’ attachment to texting but open to people of all ages, provides free assistance to anyone who texts “help” to 741-741.
If you prefer to talk on the phone, N.I.H. recommends the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Happy Year of the Monkey

Monkeys are creatures of humor and surprise.  Perhaps those are the traits that will dominate this year.  I can already sense that all the uncertainty of coming events are presaging fun and surprise.  I will have a lovely and surprising visitor from Ireland in April.  A chapter I wrote for a book on working with individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder is being published and there is more travel on the horizon.

All of these changes demand the discipline of getting enough sleep (when???), eating healthy meals and keeping up with my yoga practice.  I have the preparation for classes that takes several hours for each class, then I have the preparation for seeing my clients and I have those basic tasks of paying bills, walking the dog and (argh) cleaning house.

My goal for the next months is to get sufficiently organized  to manage all of those tasks and still have the fun that is required for the year of the Monkey.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Lights in this Challenging time.

Dear Friends,  tonight is the first night of Chanukah. In Hebrew it's called the festival of lights.  With all that's happening in the world, we can use some light now.  There is an old Chanukah song that describes how we as a collective for good can triumph over dark times. Banu Choshech Le Garesh.  Literally, we have arrived together  to chase away the darkness. Here are the words in Hebrew: 

בָּאנוּ חוֹשֶׁךְ לְגָרֵשׁ
בְּיָדֵינוּ אוֹר וָאֵשׁ
כָּל אֶחָד הוּא אוֹר קָטָן
וְכֻלָנוּ אוֹר אֵיתָן
סוּרָה חוֹשֶׁךְ הָלְאָה שְחוֹר
סוּרָה מִפְּנֵי הָאוֹר

Here is my translation adapted for our days:

We have arrived together to chase away the darkness that surrounds us
each of us in our hands has a light from our internal flame
each of us alone and by ourselves are a small but bright light
but when we join together with purpose we are a powerful and towering light
that illuminates a path through the opaqueness and uncertainty ahead
so the darkness will flee from the faces of our radiant lights

May your latkes, jelly donuts, and singing fill the world.  May our lights shine a bright path ahead.

Happy Chanukah

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Peace in the Time of Terror (part 4)

“We want to respect you. Because of a lack of understanding on our part, we have not been skillful at showing our respect, our care I or you, and we have been caught in our own situation of suffering. Please tell us what is in your hearts. We want to understand your suffering. We want to know what mistakes we have made for you to hate us so much.

“We ourselves do not want to live in fear or to suffer and we do not want you to live in fear or to suffer either. We want you to live in peace, in safety, and in dignity because we know that none of us will have peace until all of us have peace. Let us create together an occasion for mutual listening and understanding, which can be the foundation for real reconciliation and peace.”

Friday, November 20, 2015

Peace in the Time of Terror (part 3)

“To resolve our current dilemma with terrorism we must be like this doctor. After our leaders have inspired confidence in Americans and proved that, as a country, we have the capacity to listen and understand, we can then turn to those who are considered to be terrorists. Our leaders can address them with loving speech.

“We know that you must have suffered and hated us very deeply to have attacked us. You must have thought that we want to destroy you as members of a religion, as a race, as a people. You must have believed that we embody evil, that we don’t recognize your religion a nd your spiritual values. We are sorry that you suffer so much. We want to tell you that it is not our intention to destroy you as a people, as a race, or as members of a religion. It is not our intention to i-eject your spiritual values.

(more in part 4)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Peace in the Time of Terror (part 2)

“God does not take sides. Jesus, Buddha, Allah—all the great beings speak of compassion and inclusiveness. We should not believe that we can be peaceful by eliminating the other side.
“A doctor wants to destroy the malaria in a sick person, not destroy the patient himself. Terrorists are human beings who are sick with the virus of terrorism. The virus you see is made of fear, hatred, and violence. You can be a doctor for a person with this illness. Your medicine is the practice of restoring communication.

“But if a doctor cannot talk to a patient, if the patient refuses to cooperate, then how can the doctor help? If the patient refuses the doctor’s help, doesn’t trust her, and fears the doctor maybe trying to kill him, he will never cooperate. Even if the doctor is motivated by a great desire to help, she cannot do anything if the patient will not collaborate. So the first thing the doctor has to do is find ways to open communication. If you can talk to the patient, then there is hope. If the doctor can begin by acknowledging the patient’s suffering, then mutual understanding can develop and collaboration can begin.

(More in part 3)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Peace in the time of Terror

“Man is not the enemy”, Thay has often reminded us.
“Our enemy is hatred, anger, ignorance and fear.” The roots of terrorism are not to be found in religious philosophies or unfamiliar cultures, but in misunderstanding, fear, anger, and hatred.
“Terrorists are human beings who are sick with the virus of terrorism. The virus you see is made of fear, hatred, and violence. You can be a doctor for a person with this illness.”

From Thay’s book Calming The Fearful Mind:

“Some people commit acts of terrorism in the name of their values and beliefs. They may hold the idea that others are evil because they don’t share these values. They feel justified in destroying their enemies in the name of God. People who engage in this violence may die with the conviction that they are dying for a righteous cause. And isn’t our country acting out of the same conviction when we kill those we define as threats? Each side believes that it alone embodies goodness, while the other side embodies evil.

“Fear is another root of violence and terrorism. We terrorize others so that they will have no chance to terrorize us. We want to kill before we are killed. Instead of bringing us peace and safety, this escalates violence. lf we kill someone we call a terrorist, his son may become a terrorist. Throughout history, the more we kill, the more terrorists we create.

“Across the globe, people suffer from very much the same things: social injustice, discrimination, fear, and fanaticism. Fundamentalism is very much alive in countries around the world. Many people believe that they alone are on the side of God, and they behave as if they are the only children of God and the lives of others are not as precious. They want God to bless their own country above all, and not to bless others who they feel represent evil. But to think that everything the other group does is evil and everything we do is good, prevents us from understanding the values of others, and from recognizing their suffering and fear. Instead of making us stronger, our unwillingness to listen keeps us vulnerable and afraid.

(more in next post)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Reflection on the High Holy Days

Given all that is happening globally this year, humanity collectively has lots more to do to bring the world to a better place. A reflective poem for Rosh Hashana (this Sunday eve):

My reflection

When I look into the mirror
I see the face of millions
looking back
at me

When they gaze at me
some may be able to see the reflection of
those who might care enough to look back
at them

And when they see me in them
And when I actually see them in myself
we both will know that our core images and essence
though slightly different-- in meaningful ways,
are really the same at the center

As I align my image with the other
And as they align their source with me
we will one day look into our mirrors
and see who we really are

Thursday, September 10, 2015

finding that life worth living

All the little nasties seem to happen at once.  Insurance companies hanging up on me, clients not showing up,  and everyone else wanting their own chunk of change. Taxes here, office rent there, and the tea box in the office is empty.  Oh, yes, the dog needs his rabies shots.

Those are only the financial stressors. I know they will stabilize - and I will get through this money crunch. I am able to stay focused and keep the worry within tolerable bounds. I remind myself, when I start chewing on those fears that at this very moment, I am okay. I keep breathing. I take another deep breath, and take the dog out for a walk.

Believe it or not, it does help. I recognize the things I can control, accept the things I cannot change and see the difference between the two. It's what people in 12 step programs call the serenity prayer and what I call radical acceptance.