Sunday, November 24, 2013

Just A Few Of My Favorite Lyrics

Music is everywhere and so often highlights my memories, my daily life, transforms my mood, helps my productivity, and sometimes is simply great company.

Here are some of my favorites which have touched my life.

We're not broken just bent and we can learn to love again.
Pink - Just Give Me a Reason (I believe this to be true and have listened to this song repeatedly.  This one line is so moving to me)

Everybody's got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody's a picture perfect
But we're worth it
You know that we're worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?
Kelly Clarkson - Dark Side (Everyone is scared to show their most vulnerable and honest self, the dark side.  I love this for her desire to be share all of herself with confidence.)

There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.
Les Miserables - Empty Chairs At Empty Tables (This is one of the saddest moments in the story and it summons up all my feelings of family and friends who are no longer with us.)

God on high
Hear my prayer
In my need
You have always been there
Les Miserables - Bring Him Home (One of the most beautiful prayers in song I have ever heard.)

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?
Rent - Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes (During a difficult time in my life, I listened to the Rent soundtrack every day for about a year.  I would cry, sing out loud, or simply listen and let it take me somewhere safe.  As I get older, this song is usually playing in my head during every funeral I attend.)

It ain't easy growin up in World War III
Never known what love could be, well I've seen
I don't want love to destroy me like it did my family
Can we work it out?  Can we be a family?
Pink - Family Portrait (My family life was nothing like this, but the song found its way into my heart.  As a parent, I felt for the little girl in the song and understood her dreams for her family.)

'Cause I stand for the power to change,
I live for the perfect day.
I love till it hurts like crazy,
I hope for a hero to save me.
I stand for the strange and lonely,
I believe there's a better place.
I don't know if the sky is heaven,
But I pray anyway.
Idina Menzel - I Stand (As soon as I heard this song, I felt it as a prayer.  This song gives me a boost of confidence.)

Allow music to comfort you, heal you, and celebrate with you. Turn the music up.  Listen and let it move you physically.  Music has definitely made a difference in my life.  I hope you find a few of your own that touch your soul.  These are just a few of my favorites.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Old Feelings Aren't So Bad Anymore

End of the year is a difficult time for me.  I am not much of a December 31st fan and never understand the party to celebrate the turn of the clock.   I envy those that say good bye to the old and ring in the new.  Truth is that I just want to get to the new year as quickly as possible.

And this year I am grateful for so much.  2013 was a beautiful, special and emotional year.

  • My mother and I participated went to Israel to participate in my daughter's school travel experience.  It was a dream come true to have our three generations together in Israel.  My daughter had a great experience and as this was the first big trip that we had taken since my father passed away, my mother and I really celebrated our time together.
  • My daughter has an incredible summer at Camp Ramah.  And her joyous experience away at camp fed us at home.  We were so proud of her and knowing that she was safe and happy, we had a terrific month at home.
  • My daughter's bat mitzvah was in September; B'reishit was her torah portion.  It truly was a beginning for her and for us.  Our experience as a family reconnected us in a new way.  Her bat mitzvah was a team effort and we all accomplished our goals.  The events surrounding the bat mitzvah focused on family, friendship and finding your paradise.  And on the day of the Shabbat morning, the one thing I didn't plan for was all the love and support that I would feel throughout the service.
So, as I walk through the next 6 weeks until 2014, I will take each day and meditate with gratitude and joy.  December can be difficult; it can be filled with anxiety about gift giving, constant re-evalutation of the year's successes and failures, and trying to examine and regroup for the following year. 

This first thing is that I always need help.  I can't and don't want to walk through this life alone.  My family and friends are great supporters and I will use them to help me stay focused and calm.

As I write this post, I am watching "Pitch Perfect," for about the 20th time.  I know that this movie makes me happy.  Also, writing this post has just lifted an enormous amount of anxiety.  It took me a while to realize that my writing is a strong coping skill.  It brings me peace, clarity and connection to something greater than myself. 

Let's see how we can get through the next few weeks unscathed by avoiding the typical frustrations and difficult emotions that come with the "holiday spirit."

Let me know your secrets that help you.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Words Can Help Me Find My Way

When I read or hear something that strikes me to my core, I carry it with me.  Earlier in the month, I got invited to the launch party for Unscrolled.  I bought the book that night and have read each interpretation during the week of its Torah portion.  It is a wonderful and creative learning experience.  So thank you Reboot for this incredible project.

One of my favorites is the first piece by Josh Radnor.  Below are the first 7 lines which I find so deep in truth not just for him, but for so many of us.

Lord, hear my prayer—

1          My mind is filled with falsehoods about You.
2          Today let me rewrite.
3          Give me the courage to delete the rotten first second third and hundredth drafts
4          That deny You,
5          That blame You,
6          That slander You.
7          It is time.

Here is the complete prayer - Josh Radnor's prayer

In meditation this week, we talked about Jacob and Esau, but I found myself mentally wandering back to Jacob's wrestling with G-d/the stranger.  I was struck by how connected I was to that moment in the Torah.

I have been challenged in my life and when I found myself on the other side,  I was simply grateful that the dark period had ended and the sun was shining again; I was no longer clouded.  I only now see that I had been wrestling with the spiritual piece though I was unable to articulate it.  I think I have always been connected to G-d in someway and not alway able to put words to the feeling.   When real trauma struck me, I was unprepared.  Through immersing myself in family, friendship and community, I learned to breath again and walk with purpose. What was most surprising was my need to learn to pray.  Whether in English or Hebrew, or old verse or modern, the poetry of messages to G-d have helped me find my way when I feel lost.  This need only grows as my learning continues.

Like Jacob, following the wrestling/trauma, I walk away scarred like Jacob's limp.  What I love about the metaphor of Jacob's limp, is that he is forced to walk differently, maybe slower, maybe with more focus.  I may not have a physical limp, but I am changed by each difficult experience.  And with each scar that I carry, I hold onto it to remind me to be grateful and to remember what those moments in my life meant to me.

And as Josh wrote in his prayer, I have a few drafts to write, and somehow I will find the words.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Wakes You Up? It Just Takes One Moment

Several times this weekend, I heard the phrase wake up.  During meditation and while watching "Super Soul Sunday," a transformative experience is expressed as being "woken up."  For some it is a tragic diagnosis, usually life threatening, and for some, it can be a sudden change in all you thought was true.

Mark Nepo, today on Super Soul Sunday, shared an experience and described it this way, "I went through a door and when I went to go back out that door, it was gone.  There was no way to get back to the life I had lived.  Everything had changed."  Though I have been fortunate and never experienced the personal scare of cancer, I feel that this quote exactly expresses my own feelings of being transformed by life events. 

I agree that so many times I have walked through doors and had been changed immediately, even though I didn't always recognize it immediately.  Years ago, during my 40th year, I had some life changes that did shake me to my core.  All that I trusted was changed forever.  

For years, I worried far too much about all that I wasn't and all that I can't do.  And I wasn't alone.  I had people in my life who felt the same way about themselves too, so for a time it felt normal - until my first wake up call came at 40. 

From that moment on, I began to wake up.  I began to look at all my relationships differently and made a commitment to really take responsibility for my 50% of every partnership (especially my marriage), friendships and colleagues.   The problem of course, is that it doesn't happen overnight. 
Cut to eight years later, my father has passed away the year before and my husband, kids and I were on a Shabbaton (weekend retreat).  My Rabbi and Cantor offer a new meditative morning prayer service and I jump at the chance to have a new prayer experience.  As the Rabbi and Cantor led the most soulful hour of prayer I had ever experienced, what followed was unexpected.  I noticed by the end of the experience, my hands had unclenched and were now fully released of the tension.  My body felt unburdened, free and joyful for the first time in so long ( months even - so long I can't remember).  I was completely unaware that I was holding that much anger, resentment, internal strife.  

When I returned home from that weekend, a friend that I had reconnected with called and I shared my  weekend awakening.  She invited me to a meditation that was happening at my synagogue (which I didn't even know).  That was almost two years ago and I have rarely missed a meditation since.  And I continue to wake up and show up.    

Also today on Super Soul Sunday, Mark Nepo also said, "To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken."  And as I have quoted Pink before, "We're not broken, just bent, and we will learn to love again."  

And here again today, in a few short moments with two quotes, Mark Nepo wakes me up.  We are made up of millions of moments.  And for this one, I am grateful. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tethered In Love

Recently, I heard the word tether(ed) in reference to being part of a community and became curious about how one can be tethered.

According to the dictionary, tether |ˈteT͟Hər|
  1. noun: a rope or chain with which an animal is tied to restrict its movement.
  2. verb [ with obj. ]: tie (an animal) with a rope or chain so as to restrict its movement: the horse had been tethered to a post.
Whether we admit it or not, we want to belong to something or to someone.  Facebook, Twitter and other social media are filled with 140 characters or more about how one connects to another or at least is trying.  "How cute is my kid, how funny is my pet, how interesting is my job, how lucky am I" or of course, the reverse it true too, "My kids drive me crazy, can you believe my spouse did this..., had a horrible date last night, don't go to that restaurant...."

"Tethered in love" is my new favorite phrase.  This past week was the fourth anniversary of my father's passing and I still feel connected to him.  I can imagine having a conversation as if he was sitting right next to me.  Somehow, there is an invisible chain linking us forever and it is real.

Yesterday, I led our meditation group and simply through our words and silence, I felt connected.  Again, this "tethered in love" is invisible and yet somehow I feel stronger, better, more whole after we learn together.

Look at your life and think of the beautiful tethers in your life.  Even if sometimes they feel heavy or difficult, be thankful for the love and joy these connections also bring to your life.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Morning Meditation - You Can Try This At Home

Today, I was blessed to lead meditation.  Thank you to all who participated.

When I was preparing, I used my inspiration from last week.  These words stuck with me all week and helped me during some stressful moments in the week.  Below is the guided meditation that I led this morning and I hope you can benefit from it too.

Be Kind
Find Peace

I invite you to be open yourself up and begin with some deep and focused breaths.

Feel your feet.  They are our foundation. With every step, we are in movement.  We take action by simply moving our feet.

Move up to your calfs.  Feel the strength in your calfs, your knees and your thighs.  Appreciate their abilities and the miracle in how they work together.

Move up to your pelvis, stomach, and chest.  This equipment that helps us move, survive and breathe are amazing.  Even sitting still, our insides are always moving, keeping us alive and going.

Think about your arms and shoulders. They reach for you, they hug for you and help you carry the burdens.

Your neck and head are the top of the body.  Some of you shared before that you carry tension in your neck and shoulders.  Focus on a few deep breaths to allow the tension to leave your body whether it is here or elsewhere in your body.

Now begin your journey to deeper meditation with the following words:
Love - Be Kind - Heal - Find Peace

Using these words as a road map, use your meditation as a walk on a thoughtful path.

Love  - I invite you to immerse yourself in love.  As you focus your breathing, think of those who bring you love.  Think of those who you love.  As you take a few breaths, focus on one who needs your love right now.

Be Kind - I invite you now to immerse yourself in kindness.  As you focus your breathing, think of those who have shown you kindness.  Think of those who need your kindness.  As you take a few breaths, focus on one who needs your kindness right now.

Heal - I invite you now to immerse yourself in healing.  As you focus your breathing, think of those who have helped you heal.  Think of those who you have helped to heal.  As you take a few breaths, focus on one who needs healing right now.

Find Peace - I invite you now to immerse yourself in peace.  As you focus your breathing, think of those who offer you peace.  Think of those who have helped you find peace.  As you take a few breaths, focus on one who needs peace right now.

Be Kind
Find Peace

As we take the next 10 minutes for silent meditation, think of these words  as a journey themselves- love, be kind, heal, find peace

(10 minutes of silent meditation)

Take one more minute on your path.  Love, Be Kind, Heal, Find Peace.