theorangeinkblot

Looking at life through orange colored glasses…

Archive for the tag “random”

We have the right to remain silent

I have just returned from a week away in the beautiful mountains of Colorado where I was participating in a spiritual leadership training program.  Part leadership development, part meditation practice, along with a healthy dose of reconnecting with nature, the program asked each of us to explore the question, how can I be of best service to my family, my community, and the organizations in which I work during the difficult times we are currently facing as a nation?

There is a lot to unpack from this experience and I suspect I will be doing so for a while. My initial thoughts, however, come from the way we started each day while in training– in silence.  Each morning, from the time we woke up (for me that was about 6:00 a.m.), through our morning meditation, breakfast in the dining hall, until our first learning session at 9:00, we were asked to remain silent.

This was new for me- spending the first three hours of each day in silence even as I was at times surrounded by people.  And it has gotten me thinking about our need as a society to fill every moment of the day with activity, noise, distraction, and chatter.  A friend of mine pointed out recently that she can’t even fill her car’s gas tank anymore without a screen babbling to her in the form of advertisements, celebrity gossip, and “important” news of the day. From early in the morning until we collapse into bed at night, exhausted, we run ourselves and our children ragged racing from one activity to another- work, school, the gym, sports practices, tutoring, volunteer obligations and more-all while listening to podcasts, audio books or music while driving; receiving and responding to texts and emails throughout the day; updating multiple social media accounts with our whereabouts and pictures of our specialty ‘Frappacino’ and lamenting to friends and family that we would love to be spending more time with them if only we weren’t so busy.

Why do we choose this constant state of busy? And can we be clear that it is a conscious choice? As I theorize about why we make this choice I can’t help but ask myself these questions: What are we trying to prove by maintaining this constant state of busyness? What do we think we will accomplish? What are we trying to avoid? What is the void we are trying to fill? Are we so afraid to spend quiet time with our own thoughts and feelings?

I can’t answer these questions for anyone else but I can share what I learned by taking a few hours each day to slow down, be still, and be silent.  For me:

  1. Silence creates space for things that are often times squeezed out in the busyness of each day- divine presence; prayer; clear and calm thinking- just to name a few.
  2. Silence leads to noticing.  In these moments of silence I found myself more awake and aware of what was happening around me and inside of me.  I listened more deeply, observed more carefully, was more in tuned to how I was feeling.

You may be thinking- this is all well and good if you have three hours a day to dedicate to silence and stillness.  How am I, this very busy person, supposed to find the time to be silent? We may not have a few hours.  I certainly don’t in my “regular” life. I am suggesting, though, that perhaps we take back a few minutes from our day to sit quietly and see what comes out of it.  What will fill the space that you create with silence? There is only one way to find out.

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Letting my soul take the lead.

It’s 4:15 a.m.  I’ve been laying in bed, awake, for the past hour or so listening to the wind blow. The power just went out and some electronic device with battery back up is beeping so I have gotten up to find it and turn it off before it wakes up everyone else.  I have given up hope of falling back to sleep so I am pencil and paper writing by flashlight.

These early morning hours are powerful for thinkers and writers like myself. Even with the wind howling outside it feels quiet and still in the house, especially without the low, normally ever present, hum of electricity.

I am sitting here in this beautiful quiet with the wind as my soundtrack and I am thinking about my current volunteer work as a lay leader with a non-partisan, interfaith, community organizing group.  It is hard work, sometimes frustrating, but worth it. Through this work I have gotten the chance to work with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met who have truly amazing stories. I am blessed in this work with inspiring teachers who are invested in me as a person and as a leader in my community. I feel like I am part of something larger than myself and with that comes a sense of purpose that I have not felt in a long time.

I have also been feeling a tiny bit inadequate. As I get deeper into this work I find myself faced with important questions: What do you want out of your involvement with this organization? What do you want for your Core Team? Why are you doing this work? For the life of me, I cannot get my brain to cooperate in helping me to articulate answers to these questions and I feel a little bit stupid because it seems like for something that I feel such strong emotions about I should be able to think of the answers.

But, maybe the problem is that I am trying to think of the answers.  I am quite used to my brain running the show- for better or worse. I think and overthink until my grey matter is so bogged down in grey areas that I become completely trapped by my own thoughts.

I am starting to get the feeling, that my brain is not in charge of this.  When I am asked why I am doing this work, the only answer I can honestly come up with is that I can’t imagine not doing this work.  The thought of walking away from this experience makes me feel like crying.  So I am thinking that maybe my brain is not the boss here in this particular circumstance. I am thinking that perhaps my soul is taking the lead on this one.

I’m pretty sure that my soul knows exactly what I want from this experience, what I want from my Core Team, why I am doing this work.  What I have figured out is that in those moments where I stop thinking so much and just focus on doing, there is so much joy and meaning.  When I just let go of trying to understand the answers at a cognitive level I find I am instinctively making many of the right choices, I am contributing, I am not inadequate at all.

So maybe it’s okay that I don’t have the words yet to articulate what I think. Maybe it’s okay that my soul feels like the leader of a marching band, deliberately and confidently stepping in the right direction while my brain is twenty steps behind trying to figure out how to play the tuba, read music, and march in time all at once.  My brain will catch up eventually and cognitive clarity will come when it comes.  Hopefully, the people who are asking for answers can be patient with me until then.

And until then, I’m going to work on having faith that my soul is not going to lead me astray. That’s hard work too and sometimes frustrating but also worth it.

Life lessons…

Lately I have found myself reflecting on the people in my life, past and present, whom I would consider to be my life teachers.  Some of them are permanent fixtures, others have merely passed through, but all have left me fundamentally changed in some way.

Today, I am thinking about Harry.  Harry was my supervisor when I was a Graduate Assistant during my second year of graduate school back in 1997-1998.   Harry was only in my life for about ten months.  But I am frequently amazed at how his words have come back to me over the years when I am least expecting it and how the lessons I learned from him twenty years ago become relevant all over again.

The first time I met Harry in 1997 he told me that several years earlier he had been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and told he had six months to live. His response to the doctors? “I’m not going down like that.”  And he didn’t.  Until his passing in 2005, Harry lived his life as equal parts sheer determination, courage, and heart.

Harry lived with a level of intention that I have only recently begun to appreciate.  He felt like he was living on borrowed time and viewed each day as a gift but in the time I spent with him, he never seemed to worry about what he might or might not get done.  Harry woke up every morning and made his bed. This, he explained to me, was his way of reminding himself that he would have control over nothing else for the rest of the day.  And then he would just get on with the daily task of living.

One of the things I appreciated about Harry, even then, was his ability to find joy in the smallest of pleasures.  I love that he kept a pint of ice cream in the office freezer and put a scoop in his coffee in the morning. Because, why not? One day, I showed up at his office for our weekly one on one meeting. Harry announced that we were going for a drive.  I can’t remember the exact make and model of the car- it was a boat of a Lincoln or a Cadillac and it had cushy leather seats and surround sound speakers and we spent the better part of an hour that day cruising around campus listening to music.   I think that was the most content I ever saw him.

There’s also this- If my husband were reading this over my shoulder right now he would remind me that Harry sometimes drove me crazy.  Mostly this was because he was constantly throwing challenges my way. I had never at that point in my life been pushed so far outside my comfort zone, and in his efforts to help me grow as a new professional Harry loved to throw me in the deep end of the proverbial swimming pool to show me that I could, in fact, swim.  In the most memorable of these instances Harry was supposed to give a speech at the Senior Awards Banquet- something he had known about for weeks, maybe months.  Shortly before the banquet Harry called me to let me know that since I had spent more time with the students than he had and since I was the one who had the closer relationship with them, that I should be the one giving the speech.  Public speaking has never really been my thing but with enough time to to prepare and practice I am comfortable.  But to get up in front of a room full of people and essentially speak off the cuff is my own personal version of Hell.  Yet, I did it.  And it actually went pretty well.  When I got back to my seat, Harry leaned over and said, “See, I knew you could do it.” When I started to protest, Harry cut me off and said, “Meryl, the only appropriate response right now is ‘Thank you for the opportunity.'”

I learned a lot from Harry in the short time I knew him.  I learned to look for moments of joy in the small pleasures we might otherwise take for granted. I learned that inside of every challenge is an opportunity and that sometimes the only response is to be thankful for that opportunity.  I learned that when life throws me in the deep end that I just need to start swimming. Most importantly, I learned that if you think about it, we are all living on borrowed time- we just have no way of knowing how full the account is that we are borrowing from.

 

Please Stop Expressing your Condolences that I have a Teenage Daughter.

I met a new neighbor yesterday.  Upon hearing that I have a teenage daughter, she replied, “I’m sorry.”

This happens quite frequently.  Someone asks me how old my children are and when I mention my teenage daughter the response is often, “My condolences,” or “I’m sorry,” or “Can I get you a glass of wine?”

I’m writing this today to ask of you: please stop expressing your condolences that I have a teenage daughter. I’m not the least bit sorry or upset about it.

Yes, she sometimes rolls her eyes or uses “that tone.” Occasionally, when I ask her to help me to unload the dishwasher she replies, “No thanks, I’m good.” My daughter some times does these things, but these things do not define her. Look past the occasional eye rolls, dramatic interludes, and the ear buds that seem to have taken up permanent residence in her ears and you will see that my teenage daughter is not someone who needs apologizing for.  She is, in fact, nothing short of amazing.

Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in first grade, my now 14-year-old is one of the bravest and strongest people I know.  Every morning, she gets out of bed knowing that at some point during the day she will need to battle an inner demon and she knows there is a chance she won’t win.  Yet, every morning, she gathers her courage, puts on her emotional armor, and goes to school.  Do you remember middle school? Not exactly a nurturing haven of emotional safety nets (even at her tiny private school there is a fair amount of middle school drama and kids who say mean things).  Nevertheless, she persists.

My teenage daughter is fierce.  She is a self-proclaimed feminist and social justice warrior who is forging her own path in the world.  She has relevant and informed opinions about issues impacting our town, our country, and our planet. She will stand up for people if she thinks they are being treated unfairly – even if they are someone my daughter considers to be, in her words, “a butt.”

My teenage daughter is developing a strong sense of self. She has no interest in wearing something because someone else is wearing it and, so far, she thinks peer pressure is “stupid.” She is authentic and real and won’t apologize for being an independent thinker or outspoken young lady.  She is unapologetically her own person and we encourage her to be just that.

My teenage daughter is interesting.  She reads books and asks questions and is curious about the world.  And yes, occasionally, halfway through my answer to a question she has just posed to me she will completely stop listening. She is, after all, still a teenager.  She is still learning.  But I’m an adult and I’m still learning too.  Sometimes, I roll my eyes and use “that tone,” and overreact to a frustrating but inconsequential situation.  Where do you suppose they learn that behavior to begin with?

It seems to me that women already apologize far more than necessary, sometimes, merely for existing.  Do we really need to exacerbate that problem by apologizing for teenage girls even being a thing? Again, I can’t speak for anybody else’s teenage daughter but I suspect that if you look past the eye rolls, and the obnoxious tone of voice and the drama that sometimes accompanies them you will find that there is a lot of complex, beautiful, and amazing stuff going on right under the surface.

So, if I mention that I have a teenage daughter, ask me how she’s doing or what she’s involved with or what her opinion is on a $15 minimum wage (she does actually have an opinion on that) but please, do not apologize.

 

Reflections on BronyCon 2014

Getting into the spirit.

My six year old and I getting into the spirit.

I just returned from my first ever fan convention- BronyCon 2014.  I spent the weekend posting pictures to my Facebook Account which garnered many likes but prompted the frequent question- What is a Brony?  The term “Brony” was coined a few years ago to represent the adult (many of them male) fans of the newest generation of My Little Pony– Friendship Is Magic.  The word “Bro” was mashed with “Pony” and the term “Brony” was born.   Since it’s inception, the Brony community has expanded to include the entire fandom of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP:FIM) and BronyCon- the convention for these fans is a family friendly event with a little something for everyone.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not technically a Brony.  My husband and I attended the convention with our two daughters (ages 11 and 6) after they begged, pleaded, and nagged us endlessly about going.  That said, I have seen episodes of MLP:FIM and am supportive of my kids watching it because it emphasizes the values of friendship (friendship always wins!!), kindness, inclusiveness, and teamwork.

For the most part, the staff, panelists, and Bronies themselves seemed to promote these values too.  Attendees enthusiastically supported each other during the open mic event, chatted amiably with each other while waiting for sessions to begin and participants in costume were very generous about allowing people, especially kids, to have their pictures taken with them.

The Brony fandom is diverse and the convention sessions reflected that diversity.  There were sessions on making MLP themed plushies and pony ears and creating Cos Play costumes on a shoestring budget.  There were panel Q& A’s with show producers, voice actors, and episode directors.  We especially enjoyed “Are You Smarter than a 5th Season Producer?” where fans lined up to try to stump the people who write, act, and produce for the show by asking MLP:FIM trivia questions.  There were psychology based sessions about bullying, fandom and gender, and creating comprehensive psychological profiles of the ponies.  And specifically for the under 12 crowd were sessions such as “Pinkie Pie Party Games,” and “20 questions with Big Macintosh,” and a children’s sing-a-long.

We met Bronies as young as 3 years old and there were some in their fifties and sixties.  Bronies, it appears, come in every shape and size, and represent a variety of races and nationalities. They walk on two legs and roll in wheel chairs.  They choose costumes without regard to preconceived notion of gender.  All of this diversity was embraced and celebrated within the walls of the Baltimore Convention Center.  While waiting on line to enter various sessions Bronies would fist bump – I mean hoof bump – each other while chanting “fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.”  All that really mattered was that everyone was having a good time.

No matter where an attendee came from, how old they were, what they looked like, or who they felt was the best pony (Pinkie Pie is a definite fan favorite) everyone seemed to feel validated as an individual.  I especially appreciated that questions to panelists asked by children were taken just as seriously as the questions posed by the adults.  And I loved watching children turn to the adult Brony next to them and ask, “Who is your favorite pony?” and then get a valid reply.  Who would have thought that My Little Pony could be the great equalizer?

I was touched by one of the questions I heard asked at one of the sessions I attended.  Leading the session was a panel of four psychologists from different colleges researching the psychology of fandoms and the Brony fandom in particular.  A young man stood at the microphone and asked the panel – so many people judge Bronies (and other fandom members) in a negative way.  How can we convince people that we have a positive message to share?   I immediately thought of something I had overheard that morning while crammed in our hotel elevator.  A man staying in the hotel was commenting in a negative way about a boy they had seen dressed as a unicorn as if this was some kind of unspeakable tragedy.  When the elevator door opened and they exited, they past a gentleman wearing a cape.  The man from the elevator turned around and gestured to his family to look at the costumed gentleman while they rolled their eyes and snickered.  I feel like the young man who was asking the question at the convention session was echoing a larger question looming in today’s society which is- How do we get people to approach each other with curiosity instead of judgement?  How do we convince people that ‘different’ is not the same as ‘deviant.’  One of the panelists commented that the Brony fandom was the most social and inclusive fandoms she had studied and that she hoped that as the fandom grew and became more well known people would become more receptive to hearing the message of MLP: FIM. I agree but would add that people who participate in fringe cultures, fandoms, or who hold strong opinions outside the mainstream culture are hugely important in expanding the definition of what is considered okay or acceptable by mainstream society.  The more people push boundaries, question the norm, and express themselves however they are comfortable doing so, the more inclusive society becomes.  As we continue to push and stretch boundaries more and more people move from being considered outsiders to being accepted as ‘normal.’   Eventually, those people who are narrow minded and judgmental will find themselves on the outside looking in.

Ultimately, BronyCon was a fun and educational experience for me and my family.  I would love to hear from any Bronies who might be out there reading this.  Were you at the convention?  Do you think that the Brony fandom is more inclusive and diverse than other fandoms?  Anyone thinking that they just might have to check out MLP:FIM when Season 5 eventually airs?

Just a few of the really creative costumes we saw over the weekend.

Just a few of the really creative costumes we saw over the weekend.

What Kind Of Legacy Do You Want To Leave?

When I was a senior in high school I auditioned for a lead role in our school musical.  I didn’t get it.  I auditioned for solos in choirs that were awarded to other people and applied for leadership opportunities that I didn’t get.  I must have lamented about my bad luck to my parents because I remember them saying to me once, “Maybe the universe is trying to tell you it has bigger plans for you.”

I carried that with me for a while, wondering when my “big moment” would arrive.  But as life went on I came to realize that my most rewarding moments were the little ones.  Thoughtful gestures, small acts of kindness, being there for my friends, volunteer opportunities, making somebody smile- it was in these moments that I felt happiest with myself and most connected to my community.

I decided that the universe wasn’t telling me it had something bigger in store- it was telling me that the legacy we leave is not in our grand gestures or public performances but in how we live our small moments every day.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the legacy I want to leave behind when I am eventually gone.  What do I want people to remember about me?  The answer to this question puts everything into perspective for me, clarifies my values, and helps me focus my energy each day on the things that really matter.  If I want to be remembered as being a devoted and loving mother, wife, sister, and daughter then my first priority should be my family.  If I want to be remembered as being a positive person then I need to put myself out there every day in a positive way.  If I want to be remembered as being kind and thoughtful then I should deliberately choose kind words and be mindful of the feelings of others.

That’s not to say that anyone should say or do nice things solely because they want people to think highly of them- but if we think about the kind of legacy we want to leave behind it can help us focus on the values and priorities that are most important to us and help us to not get distracted by life’s minor inconveniences or dragged into other people’s negative drama.

Instead of waiting around for our big moment to shine, why not make every small moment count?  Put yourself out there in a positive way, be kind and thoughtful whenever possible, get to a place of peace and forgiveness as quickly as possible.  Being open minded is good- being empathetic is better.  Try to go 24 hours saying only positive things.  If you have nothing positive to say choose to say nothing.  Make somebody smile.  Express gratitude.  Go out of your way to find a silver lining.  After a while, those silver linings just start jumping out at you.  Create a living legacy of kindess, positivity, and gratitude that others will want to emulate.

We only get one life. We don’t get to choose everything that happens to us in that life but we do get to choose the kind of legacy we want to create now and leave behind when that life comes to a close.  In thinking about how we want to be remembered perhaps we can better choose how we decide to live.

Stay Gold

 During my junior year of college I spent about six months in an on again off again relationship with ‘S.’ It would be an understatement to say that S and I were not compatible.  More than anything, I think we were sort of fascinated with each other.

I had a pretty tame childhood, raised in a small rural town on the east end of the north shore of Long Island.  My family was (and remains) very close.  We weren’t rich but we always had what we needed.  There were family game nights, sing-alongs in the car, and we always said, “I love you.”  Life was not perfect but I learned pretty early on that life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.

S came up hard, an economically disadvantaged inner city kid from the West Coast.  He had been exposed to violence and drugs at an early age.  His parents were physically there but not very affectionate or present in his life.  S didn’t talk about his family much, but he did share the following story with me about his dad:

One day, S’s dad was walking along a river.  A stray cat walked up to him and rubbed against his legs purring.  S’s dad picked up the cat and threw him into the river.  The cat swam back to shore walked back up to S’s dad and again rubbed against his legs purring.  S’s dad once again picked up the cat and threw him into the river.  The cat again swam back to shore and again rubbed against S’s dad’s legs. For a third time S’s dad picked the cat up and threw him in the river.  When the cat came back a third time, S’s dad decided that he and this cat were meant to be together.  S said that the only time he ever saw his father cry was when this cat passed away years later.

By the time I met him, S had done a lot to turn his own life around.  After losing a close friend to a drug related shooting S made the decision to move East and start over.  He had found a full time job working in the warehouse of a shipping company and was taking classes part time at the local community college. He was hoping to transfer to a four year university and major in business.  I was impressed that he was working so hard to make a better life for himself and told him so.  Still, I often got the feeling that S only partly believed that he was someday going to get where he wanted to be.  I’m not sure he believed he deserved his success.  S seemed to constantly be waiting for something “bad” to happen that would give him the excuse to say, “See, I told you I couldn’t do it – I’m just going to go back to selling drugs.”

One day over winter break, S called me in New York to lament about his grade report for the semester.  He was tremendously disappointed with the B and two C’s he had earned in his classes.  I remember saying something to the effect of, “less than four years ago you were selling drugs, then using drugs, then grieving the loss of your best friend because of your involvement with drugs.  Now you are clean, working full time, going to college.  The fact that you are disappointed in a B and two C’s means you care.  That’s a good sign.”  I told S that he could do anything he wanted.  He just needed to keep moving forward.

We had a lot of these conversations.  I gave a lot of pep talks.  S told me that he liked talking to me; that I made him feel good about himself but I don’t think he ever internalized what I was saying.  I think he wanted to but he had seen too many discouraging things to just “have faith” that things would work out.  We often would have lengthy philosophical conversations about the state of the world, about good vs. evil, about whether one person really had the ability to make the world a better place.

Not surprisingly, S felt pretty strongly that anyone who truly felt they had the ability to make a real difference was being naïve and idealistic.  People who do nice things for others, he told me more than once, generally have an ulterior motive for doing so.  People are selfish, he said, and they have to be.  If you don’t look out for yourself first you will get completely taken advantage of.  He would tell me the story of the man who nursed a snake back to health only to have the snake bite him.  “You knew I was a snake all along,” the snake tells the man in the story.  I think that S saw himself as that snake- certain that no matter how hard he tried or how much other people believed in him, he was only going to end up disappointing them and himself.

My optimism drove S crazy.  I was young and idealistic and truly believed that I could make a difference.  I had visions of the world I wanted my future children to grow up in and I didn’t see any reason why it couldn’t be that way.  S cautioned me that the “real world” was not as bright and sunny as I was making it out to be; that there were bad people out there who ate people like me for breakfast.  I think he was trying to protect me, like I was a delicate Faberge egg that needed to be handled with kid gloves.

I think I was trying to protect him too.  I was never in love with him but I cared about him. I did love him as a fellow human being.  I saw amazing things in him that I don’t think he could see or believe about himself.  I wanted very badly to be the person to convince him he was more than just the sum of his parts, that he deserved success and happiness, that he was lovable and capable and smart.  I tried to explain this to him in the last phone conversation that we had which ended in argument.  S told me I was a naïve little girl that understood nothing about how the world really worked.  He told me “I hope you stay gold” but that someday, life was going to crush me and that he couldn’t bear to be there when it happened.  He said I understood nothing about love and that I might not even be capable of it.  That was when I hung up.

That was it for me and S.

I thought about that last conversation for a while.  Was I just some naïve, innocent, little girl from rural Long Island?  Was I wrong to believe that for the most part people were good and well intentioned? Was it silly to believe that with a little bit of assistance and encouragement people could overcome adversity and make their lives better?  Would nothing I did make a real difference to anyone?  Did I really not understand love?

I finally decided that S was wrong.  He was wrong to equate my optimism and hopefulness with weakness.  He was wrong that caring so much about people was only going to result in my being disappointed in them.  I understood plenty about love.  I grew up surrounded by love.  I suspect I understood more about love than S did.  S grew up in a family where even the cat had to prove he was worthy of love.  I can understand why it might have been hard for him to believe that I just accepted him and all of his life experiences even without having walked in his shoes.  I think it scared him that I had helped him, even for a moment, to believe that he was good enough and smart enough and worthy enough.  Maybe he felt like if he set his expectations higher he would be more disappointed if he failed.  Maybe he just wasn’t ready to believe.

Occasionally, I wonder about S.  I wonder if I made any difference in his life at all.  I wonder if he graduated and what kind of career he pursued.   I wonder if he found room in his heart for hope and faith.  I wonder if he ever met someone who helped him to realize that it was him who really didn’t understand about life and love.

Sometimes I want to tell him:  It’s been eighteen years since we spoke and life has not crushed me.  There have been times of great joy and times of immense sadness.  I have found love and lost loved ones.  I don’t always understand why things happen in this world the way that they do.  But I always come back to these things which help me to choose hope and happiness the great majority of the time:

Where there is darkness, I can spread light.

We can all work to create peace in our own little corners of the world.  There is no kind gesture that is too small to make a difference.

All that really matters is love.  We are all capable of love.

Freedom- Short and Sweet

Last week my Rabbi suggested that since Passover is a holiday about freedom that we might want to spend a few minutes reflecting on what freedom means to us personally.  It’s a topic that is quite relevant to me since this year, with both kids in school, I have more personal freedom than I have had since before becoming a mom ten years ago.

Every weekday morning I put my kids on the bus, make a cup of coffee and ask myself- What do I feel inspired to do today? Then, I use my new found freedom to make it happen.  This year, using my heart as a compass, I am happily forging a new path.  I am thinking globally and acting soulfully*; watching more carefully and listening more intently.  I am reading and writing with abandon; reflecting and creating; and realizing that the biggest joys are found in the smallest of discoveries.

At Passover, we talk a lot about “next year.”  Having no idea what next year will bring I am focusing on this year- making the most of every day, every hour, every minute.  This year is a blessing, an opportunity for renewal, a celebration of freedom and it just might be the best year ever.

*credit to my brother Dan Orange for the phrase “thinking globally and acting soulfully” which is a line from one of his poems…

Please Continue to Hold…..

I haven’t written in a while and there’s a reason why.

I have a kind of writer’s block

The minutes pass with a tick and a tock

As I sit and wait for my brain to unlock the words on which I rely.

It’s not that a topic escapes me-

it’s more that I can’t narrow down.

Should I write ‘bout religion?

Or nuclear fission?

I sit in my kitchen, my brain on a mission, my face twisted into a frown.

I could write on the subject of discrimination-

Gay or straight, white or black.

Freedoms under attack.

I am taken aback, by the way our words smack of judgment and condemnation.

Perhaps I should write about all things political

But political words are so shady

Dishonest, and often berating

And not becoming of a lady

or maybe I’m just being cynical.

There are plenty of “wars” that they show on the news.

Wars on women and drugs

Wars on terrorist thugs

And similar slugs.  Even wars on bedbugs

to name only a few.

.

So it’s not that my head is empty, it’s quite full

With news of the day

Close to home, far away

Try to rise ‘bove the fray,

to sort truth from the bull

But when so many thoughts swirl around at one time

There’s a clog in my brain

Like you’d find in a drain,

And I have to abstain from writing these lines.

Eventually chaos will give way to clarity.

The word dam will burst

I’ll be free of this curse

and I’ll jump in headfirst, quenching my thirst,

 enjoying this moment of rarity.

Because when I put pen to paper,

I want to evoke a response.

Whether or laughter or tears

Or thoughts of past years

Even sneers allay fears of cool nonchalance.

I’m Mommy and I Know It… (Everyone else has done a take off of the LMFAO song, I figured I’d might as well too)

Image

When I walk on by, you’ll probably hear me humming a lullaby
I rock to the beat
of itsy bitsy spider when my playgroup meets.
Yeah
This is how I jam
ABC’s and Mary had a Little Lamb
Goodnight Moon and Sam I Am, Catching funny moments on the video cam.

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I put my right foot in.  I take my right foot out.
I do the hokey pokey and I turn myself about.

I got spit up on my shirt and I ain’t afraid to show it (show it, show it, show it, show it)

I’m mommy and I know it.

I’m mommy and I know it.

Yeah
When we’re at the mall, kid’s throwing tantrums- it’s a sprawl and bawl
When we’re at the beach, kid strips down and starts to streak (what?)

This is how I roll, Taking deep breaths so I’m in control.

I need more grown-ups but I’m not nervous. I can stay connected if I have cell

service (what).

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I put my right foot in.  I take my right foot out.

I do the hokey pokey and I turn myself about.

I got spit up on my shirt and I ain’t afraid to show it (show it, show it, show it)

I’m mommy and I know it.

I’m mommy and I know it.

Check it out,

Check it out

Wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, yeah!
Wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, yeah!
Wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, yeah!
Wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, wiggles, yeah, yeah!

I watch the Wiggles, man,
I watch the Wiggles, man,
Yeah
I’m mommy and I know it

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I’m clapping my hands now

I’m stomping my feet now

I’m shouting hooray now

I got kids!

I’m mommy and I know it.

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