Friday, March 28, 2014

I'm Starving, but not for Food

Nine months ago I embarked on what I hope is the last attempt to manage my weight.  Feeling like I had come to a place of deep despair, I signed up with Jenny Craig in West Hollywood and over the course of the last few months have lost almost just over 25 lbs.  I have considered writing about it before but I always stopped for a variety of reasons.  Today I decided to write when I used words like "starving," "drink in," and "a thirst" when describing my desire for learning and spiritual meditation.  I realized the power of these words in their new form and that as I said them they did not evoke any need to eat.

Struggling with my weight has always been an issue for me even when I was thin.  Today, even though I am not yet at my goal, I do feel better and am so proud of what I accomplished.

And here is my big "aha" moment:  Over the past 3 weeks, my plate has been full of good, sad, happy,  scary, overly chaotic and way more personalities thrown into the mix than needed.  In all that chaos, my old habits of reaching for the sweet or salty thinking that will help have been broken.  Old habits have been broken - say it loud and proud!  Now when I feel bad, I clean, pick up my book (currently reading "Gone With the Wind) or write a post for my blog.

Now it gives me great joy to say the following:

  • I'm starving for some prayer and learning
  • I can't quench my thirst for reading
  • This book is so great, I'm drinking it all in. 
This is likely be the only post I write about my weight as it is extremely personal, but it has been on my mind and wanted to share my new taste of freedom.  See I used the word taste.  And this one is truly delicious.  A special thanks to Christy at Jenny Craig for her guidance and kindness through this entire process.  My memory of that first meeting at the Jenny Craig office is one filled with great sadness.  I knew that I was sad, but my memory is even shrouded in darkness.  I'm not sure when the dark cloud lifted but through this process, I have been able to let go of the burden that comes with all the worry about weight, food, how much, how little, should I or shouldn't I.  To be free of all this is truly an achievement and I am truly grateful for my new better self.

And I could not have done it without the practice of meditation.  Meditation allowed and forced me to seek the truth and to live in it.  I'm not perfect, but I could not ignore what I am physically and spiritually able to fix.  Slowly, but surely.

Shabbat Shalom, may you find what it is that brings you freedom and if you need help, ask. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Scared to Sacred

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be part of a lunch and learn with Reb Mimi Feigelson. I had never met her, had 42 other things to do at work, and yet something pulled me in to the learning.  She was/is an incredible teacher and I am grateful for the experience of learning with her.
The Jewish Federation's The Board of Rabbis monthly Leaders on Leadership program brings a wide variety of Rabbis and some non-Jewish religious leaders to share their thoughts about leadership and professional development.  

She said so many things that struck me and that I felt I needed to hear.  I really felt as though I was in the right place at the right time.  Here are some of the gems.

"Our souls don’t forget what our eyes see."  This beautiful saying gave me a great sense of comfort.  It reminds me of those memories that pop in out of the blue and somehow are connected to the moment I am experiencing.   Or people who you meet years later and are instantly connected by the experience you shared years before.  

"Scared to Sacred." This simple phrase struck me like lightening.  As Reb Feigelson began to describe the essence of the journey and the subtle change of two letter to make a dramatic difference in the meaning of the word, I had a sense of clarity that I had been longing for over since the beginning of the year.  This small phrase gave me an understanding of how my own anxious moments have been transformed into some my most holy and spiritual moments.  This feels right.  This makes sense.  Many experiences take us to the next level.  Big or small, they are often accompanied by fear and anxiety.  With meditation, I have learned to walk through the fear and anxiety and even channel some of that energy to excitement and joy. 

Thank you Reb Mimi Feigelson for such a transformative hour and thank you G-d for putting me in the right place at the right time.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week and that you hear things as you need to and maybe even get struck by lightening (spiritually). 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gifts from the Past

After almost 40 years, my mother sold the house we grew up in so that she can downsize and be closer to our family.  Years ago, my brother, husband and I bought an incredible duplex and we all both live in it today.  My husband, 2 kids and I live upstairs and my brother and sister-in-law live downstairs.  From Tarzana, it could take my mother almost an hour to drive to our house.  Now, it will take only 15 minutes.

In the past month, we all experienced our own level of excitement, anxiety and sadness at the end of this chapter in our lives.  For me, I was excited the moment my mother made the decision to sell her home.  I looked forward to my mother being unburdened from the house and create a new space for her to live.

And then, last week, I had to pick up some boxes from the house, for the first time in long time, I saw the house that I driven up to about 10,000 times.  It looked really pretty.   The bright sunny day let the house beam in its California splendor.   As I pulled into the parking lot, I got sad, unexpectedly.  With a few tears, I loaded my boxes and headed right back to the city.

When I arrived home, I opened the boxes to find a few incredible gifts from my past.  My wedding dress, letters from my now deceased uncle, old artwork from children who are now grown men, and some great pictures that reminded of some joyous moments in my life.

Today, I saw my mother's new apartment.  When she opened the door, she was smiling.  She gave us the grand tour and it looks great.  It is warm and wonderful and my mother has brought a joyous, light energy to the apartment.  I hope that for this next chapter of my mom's life, she finds health, happiness, peace and security in her new home - I already have.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Great People Leading the Way - Using Celebrity Status for Good

So many great women are taking the lead on issues that really speak to me.  Perhaps it is because I am the mother of a girl and a boy and I have tried to treat that as equally as their individual personalities will let me.  Perhaps it is because all my life, I was given the same subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) messages as I was becoming successful.  Here are just a few of my heroes right now:
  • Sheryl Sandberg, and the Girl Scouts for their partnership of #BanBossy campaign 
    • Check out this new website and campaign that addresses the impact of "bossy" on young girls.  One of the best I have seen.   We all need to be a part of it.  Mothers and fathers of both girls and boys need to teach their child to lead fairly, with kindness and with strength. That can happen whether you are woman or a man.
    • #BanBossy: Parent Tips
  • Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner 
    • In August, both actresses/mothers addressed the California State Assembly Judiciary Committee on Public Safety in an effort to criminalize the taking of unauthorized photos of children.  
  • Kristin Bell along with her husband Dax Shepherd
    • Kristin Bell has recently been speaking out against paparazzi taking her daughter'sphotograph and promoting a "No Kids Policy."  They are asking media outlets to stop purchasing photos of children without parents consent.  Seems reasonable since that is the case in many other areas of children's rights.  
To be honest, I have stopped purchasing and reading any celebrity rag that calls itself a magazine.  For my own self esteem and for the emotional intelligence of my children, I banned those magazines from the house a long time ago.  My daughter asked years ago to buy some teen magazines, I think I let her get 2 or 3, and then they too were banned from the house.  I believe that this statement by Ms. Bell and Mr. Shephard will make an even greater impact on our society then they even expect.  And I for one am behind them.  
Let values continue to lead their individuals, not money or fame.  Congratulations to all who use their voice for good.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Striving to be Whole

In shul this morning, I was reminded a couple of times of how important it is be whole.  Experts tell us to make lists to get organized.  Others suggest we break down the big projects into tasks.  And still others suggest complete one project before taking on another.

Today, Rabbi Ilana Grinblatt spoke of the beauty of integrating the different aspects of our life.  As I face some serious issues in my life, this seems like a great way to solve a few of the problems.  I'll have to keep you posted to let you know if it works.

Intergrate passion with problems - it helps imagine solutions, marry light and dark, find the balance in your life, and embrace the challenges.  Walking through the tunnels of trauma and sadness allows you to see who you are and even forces you to become the person you want to be.   Difficult days, weeks, months can overwhelm you.  Finding ways to stay in solution with your family and friends by your side makes the journey bearable.

In Meditation today, we talked about humility.  This is truly one of the hardest virtues to maintain.  As I sit in the comfort of my home, watching television, writing on my laptop, I often forget how lucky I am.  Even with these luxuries, I envy what my friends have, I wish for an easier way, and I want to solve all my problems.  And then, I realize how grateful I am as I see more homeless around the neighborhood, more statistics about poverty and hear stories about so many people who are truly suffering from serious illnesses.

We are all warped by our own experiences, shaped by the beautiful and hard moments.   When our life's path goes from the straight and narrow to the winding road, holding onto hope helps us walk through it.

I'm grateful for all the lessons today and will work hard to integrate the light and dark of my life.