Monday, February 18, 2013

A Year of Celebration and Learning

Today is the day that I have thought about every day for the past year.   I began a journey over a year ago which led me to wake up this morning with little anxiety and a ton of gratitude.  In the course of the past year, I have worked hard to live a life that is full of heart and love, laughter and tears, learning and napping, running and standing still, watching and reading, most of it exhilarating and some of it difficult and painful.  Life is complicated – I know I am not the first or only one to realize this. 

The most precious gifts I have learned over the past year are as follows:
  • Be real, truthful, kind and aware in every experience. 
  • Be with those who love you and want the best for you.
  • Work hard.
  • Ask for help.
  • Have confidence in yourself.
  • When you are sad, tell someone.
  • When you are mad, meditate, play music or do something that allows you to think clearly.
  • Laugh out loud.
  • Care for another.
  • Donate time and money.
  • Take vacation.
  • When you are sick, stay home.
  • Admire those that deserve it.
  • Use your words to heal and help.
  • Believe in doing the right thing and doing better.

There are many more lessons to learn and I am excited for what this next year brings.  I am blessed.  I love and I am loved and I am grateful for all the gifts that are my life.

Happy Birthday to me!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I Heard "Help Me"

It was a beautiful Shabbat morning and I had just finished meditation and learning at synagogue.  I said goodbye to a friend and planned to walk home.  As I left the building, I noticed an elderly woman being helped out of a taxi by the driver.  Something didn’t seem right; I saw her lips moving but could barely hear her.  Suddenly, I heard her…”Help me.”  Without thinking, I went to help her.  The driver, with a grumble, left the woman in my care. 

“Help me.”  Those are the words that stung me today. 
"Help me." And so I did.  I walked her to the sanctuary so that she can sit with her community, get some lunch, and feel nourished by both.  At least, I hope that is what happened.

In the time it took me to walk her to a seat, she told me the following:
  • She is 94 years old.
  • She is a survivor of the Holocaust and came to LA in 1957.
  • She was a manicurist and facialist.
  • She asked me to open her medicine because her hands can no longer open those child proof caps.  I then poured the medicine into the spoon and fed it to her.
Here is what I saw:
  • A 94 year old woman yelling “Help me.”
  • A 94 year old woman with enough strength (or whatever you call it) to get in a cab to come to a place of worship.
  •  A 94 year old woman alone.
  • People asked me if I needed help helping her.
  • She said she didn’t want to live like this.
  • She wanted to cry and I comforted her so that she wouldn’t.
As I helped her to a seat, I wished her a beautiful Shabbat.  She thanked me and said something else that I don’t remember.  I left the building with a heavy heart.  As I walked out of the synagogue, I tried to breathe and found it difficult because I really wanted to cry.  Someone told me that I did a mitzvah.  When I got home and told the story to my husband and 12 year old daughter, I cried.  My daughter hugged me and thought it was great that I helped.  My husband and I talked about solutions. 

I am overwhelmed by this experience.  Will I do something?  Yes, I will speak to someone at my synagogue because I know that she is not the only one.  And if I never see her again, I know that I helped her today.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Birthday Gifts for me...

For the past couple of years, I have taken on some personal challenges – writing, meditating, and playing tennis.   These are just some examples.
And now I stare 50 in the face, I am looking for new challenges.  So here are some of the gifts that I am giving to myself this birthday that will allow me to continue on my journey.

Starting on February 19th, I will begin a spiritual journey to help me further define my being and my purpose.  I will be blogging about this too.  49 has been an incredible journey and I am excited to see what is on the other side.

In the past year, I listen to music a lot.  I just love listening to it throughout the day and I select music that is positive, passionate, transformative, and beautiful.  Kelly Clarkson is one of my heroes and her voice, music, and lyrics just make me sing, smile and stand tall.  After the Grammy's last night, I am completely inspired by all the great music that is out today. 

These are just two of the gifts for me and from me.  With a week away, I am still making plans of what gifts to bring into my life that will be positive. 
Getting excited....

Thursday, February 7, 2013

10 Days Until 50!

So 2013 arrived, January is over and here I am in the 2nd week of February completely calm and even excited for the big day to arrive.  With each day that passes, I find myself smiling and focused.  I’m productive and thoughtful about my life.  I can see not only what I want, but how to get it. 

This past year has been an amazing journey and at some points, I feared this birthday.  I panicked and wondered, “Shouldn’t I be (fill in the blank)?”  Or “I would be happier if (fill in the blank).”  The truth for me today is that I am okay with exactly where I am – in love with my husband, true love for my children, appreciation for my family, and deep gratitude for the opportunity to work with courageous colleagues who share a commitment and passion for the Jewish community.  But there is more, I also found joy in writing, meditating, learning, and trying very hard to make the most out of each moment.

On Glee tonight, Blaine sings Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” 

Tonight I'm gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive and the world it's turning inside out Yeah!
I'm floating around in ecstasy
So don't stop me now don't stop me
'Cause I'm having a good time having a good time

I'm a shooting star leaping through the skies
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I'm gonna go go go
There's no stopping me

There is more, but you get the point.  No coincidences, this is my theme song for the day, maybe the year.  I am looking forward to the day and the celebrations with my family and friends.  

Happy Birthday to me! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Where is God?

In one of my daughter’s religious class, her teacher gave the assignment to take 10 photos that represent how the students see God.  It created a lot of discussion in our house including a mini-debate between my 12-year-old and my 6-year-old.  My precious daughter, who at five told me that when people die, they return to heaven with the help of God’s long arms, now was contemplating her God assignment and struggling with his existence.  I think that she does believe in God but in her “Welcome to Adolescence phase,” this voicing of her doubt is one of the side effects.  It was hard to watch her struggle and yet I enjoyed having this very grown up discussion with her. 

Of course, it got me thinking about how and when I see God since this use to be a question that frustrated me as well.  I started to recognize the moments where I “feel” God and have thought about it as if I have received a slight push in a certain direction.  I often use the phrase “by the hand of God” when something significant happens.  

·         Feeling lost in my early career life, I got pulled towards the Jewish community.  My job ended in the entertainment industry and I took this opportunity to jump into the Jewish community.  I didn’t know anyone, but knew that I was not alone and that I was ready to work on behalf of the community.
·         I met my husband at a random evening at my synagogue which he had never been to but his friend invited him.
·         The birth of my children
·          When my father passed away the doctor called the time of his death at 2:18pm. My birthday is Feb.18 (2/18), so when he doctor called out the time of death, I took it as a sign, some spiritual goodbye from my dad. 
·         During some very sad and trying times in my life, I have found synagogue to be a place of comfort.
·         In times where I was at my loneliest and yet, somehow was not alone, I felt God’s presence.
·         In meditation
·         When I write
·         When I’m doing good for the world
·         There are no coincidences, so all those moments of surprising connection have a divine element.

As I get older, the presence of God is more real and felt more often.  It is peaceful, guiding, and comforting.  This lesson from my daughter’s class reminded me of how God is present in my life.  While I thought I was helping her with her homework, it spilled over to offer me a moment of gratitude for all that is spiritual and good in my life.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Weekend Turns Around...

With 15 days until the big 50, I was disconnected, sick, and not myself.

Before meditation began, I had a heavy heart.  I was burdened by ill health and wanted to feel better.  I was preoccupied with how I should celebrate my birthday, if I even wanted to celebrate and what “not celebrating” would mean.  Friends have great ideas of how they would celebrate and offer suggestions for me, but nothing feels right.  Also, by not making a decision, I felt as though I was letting others down.

With a couple days of sick time earlier in the week, antibiotics and a Shabbat that brought a rejuvenating meditation, I became myself again this weekend.  I have no fear of 50, am feeling healthy and am fully aware of being surrounded by love.  I made some decisions which feel good, my daughter and I worked on her science project, we took a walk and then my family all had dinner together. 

And now late Sunday night, I am at peace, full of love for my family and full of hope for all the 50 will bring.