Looking back and thinking forward

Month: July, 2007

Summer recap

It is not over.

Summer, I mean.

But the playful fun part has – must – finally come to an end.

Tamar2_2 It is time for me to return to my senses and buckle down, settle in, and get serious.

My heart, mind and soul are full to the brim. Cup runneth over.

[click on all photos to enlarge]

Hs_wall_june_07_031 I have seen the Irish Sea

Sea_sf … paddled my toes in the Pacific

Memarionand swam in the Atlantic … right where the Bay meets the Ocean

Steak_and_kidney_pie I have broken all kinds of bread …

… with all kinds of people …

Dscn2200 Dscn2197

Hw_day_5 Jeanbottle

Andycamera Ellen_blooms_exhibit

Jacobsons_sf Marionme

Wendymira  …

Tamarlaughing … and laughed long and hard along the way.

I have walked in the sun and through the rain, enjoyed countless movies of every genre, and climbed a steep hill or two. Holding hands on the way down, linking arms in the crashing turf, and raising many glasses with new and old friends.

I even painted my toenails! And also lost a couple of old broken, bruised ones along the way.

Yes indeed, I shed a tear or two. Sometimes from old memories and ancient hurts, but mostly with profound joy, and deep, heartfelt love.

This was the summer of shedding old baggage, shame, guilt, and ancient, aching anger, giving up the grief, and opening my heart to joyfulness.

I am hopeful that I remember to return to the rapidly becoming memories of joyful, loving moments this summer, to give me emotional sustenance and support. For, even as I embrace August faced with all the work ahead, I struggle to focus on what I want and need to get done …

Eviesplace_2 … because right now, this moment? …

… I just want to play, and play, and play …

Going to the seaside


Slipping the laptop under my arm, beach towel over the other. New Eddie Bauer swim suit neatly folded in the bag and beach chair waiting patiently on the porch. My ride arrives tonight. Mira and Marion driving all the way from Buffalo. They will pick me up and whisk me away to Wendy’s cottage by the New Jersey Shore for a few days of fun in the sun: walks by the water, smelling the salty air, a glass of wine in our beach chairs at sunset. Wendy reports that right now it is fresh corn and tomato season in New Jersey, and that the weather will be hot.

I feel as excited as a young child the night before her birthday. My feet long to soak in the briny waters, body aches for waves to slurp and cuddle every nook and cranny, and my soul craves the comfort and support of old friends.

I’ll be thinking of all of you … from time to time …

The last hurrah before the great work begins!

Kicking the habit

I have looked at the title of this post for a couple of days now. It came to me when I was thinking about how much lighter I have been feeling lately. I knew what I meant when I wrote it, and, for some reason, I did not feel like explaining myself. In fact, as I write this now I am becoming grumpy. "Why don’t you all just know what I mean already?" I complain to myself in silence. "Why do I have to explain everything?" Of course that is absurd, because I am really talking to myself. It is not about explaining to you, out there, the reader. It is about how I confront this and understand it for myself. After all, I cannot kick a habit if I do not understand where it comes from and why I might not need it any longer.

Much of what I have been doing these past few years in therapy, and on my blog, is trying to understand the emotional memory conditioning I sustained in early childhood, and how it was necessary for my survival. Getting to know my survival habits. Those never-ending repetitive cycles – knee jerk reactions, within and without, to situations or interactions with significant people in my life. Exploring my delusions of self control when, in fact, I was feeling and reacting, seemingly, without choice.

Gradually, as I learned that I have a choice in how I view my reality, it began, very slowly, to dawn on me – literally, to shed light in front of me – and I was able to test out different ways of feeling or reacting about things. And so, it might feel as if one morning I awoke and suddenly I was lighter, baggage of my old emotional self shed and left behind on the path somewhere up in Northern England a few weeks ago. But, in fact, it has been a very long time coming, and has taken much hard work.

The way I see it is quite simple really. Bob-the-therapist described it to me over and over again and although cognitively I understood what he was saying, it did not seem to touch me on an emotional level. Bob spent a lot of time in therapy showing me that the collective family view, myth or stories about me, had absolutely nothing to do with the reality of who I am. It had everything to do with the way people chose to view me, and, more specifically, the way they tried to squeeze me back into a mold they needed to create in their minds about me. In order to survive, I developed a kind of script that went something like this: I must believe their world view, story, labels, beliefs, Truth about me, because a) they are bigger, older, stronger, more intelligent than I am, and, b) I need them to survive, and that is the only way they will love me.

Between January and March this year events took place within the family system that I am not going to go into here in any detail. However, for some reason all those hours and years of therapy and self-alteration, finally, kicked in.

I got it!

Just like that. Something snapped inside and I realized that each and every family member is entitled to their view or belief about me. They are also entitled to react the way that they do. In all that transpired absolutely nothing had changed. The repetitious cycle was crystal clear. The only thing that changed was the way I saw it. I realized, emotionally as well as cognitively, felt it throughout my being, that all the subtleties of interactions had absolutely nothing to do with who I am. It was not personal.

Ooh, it was painful. I cried, I raged, I hurt. For the full month of March, driving to and from work, in the shower, walking in the woods, going shopping, doing yoga, preparing dinner – whatever I was doing, I would burst into uncontrollable, violent sobbing. It felt as if my heart and soul were breaking. In fact, nothing was breaking at all. I was more intact than I had ever been. Instead, I was allowing the shield of illusion around me to disintegrate, rays of light to push through the cracks. Letting it out was like giving up the only real defense mechanism I had owned. It meant growing up, throwing out childhood notions and becoming an adult. It was exactly like the metaphor Bob, and my friend, Susan, had created for me years ago in Buffalo – I was like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. I was, literally, kicking the habit out of me.

It is not that I see myself as a perfect angel. Indeed, I am as full of all kinds of feelings, notions and behaviors that are as complex as anyone can have. I just do not see myself as all those names I have been called any longer – "rubbisher," "liar," "disloyal," "femme fatale," "destroyer," "Sephardi (whatever that means)" … and so on. More than that, I am able to see significant people in my life in a much more compassionate, complex and holistic manner, understanding that their view of me is clouded by their own vulnerabilities and insecurities, sadly for some of them, blinding them to who I really am. It has brought them all down to an equal size, no one larger or greater than me. Just all of us human beings like everyone else! All of us in this crazy, confusing, unexplainable, mysterious life together. No one solution for everything. No one size fits all. A great big messy mish-mash. And all we can hold onto, or know for sure, is loving relationships.

As I allow myself to shed those ancient molds, the family-system-created-role for myself, I find space to explore what I want and need, where to make necessary emotional changes, or how to open up to loving relationships that are so important for what remains of my life’s journey. I can tell where I am deserving, and past exclusions or losses of birth right become superficial trappings in the grand scheme of things. For I am able to create my own birth right, my own home, my own safe, emotional space within me.

As I allow myself to shed those ancient molds, the family-system-created-role for myself, I let go of so much of the burdens of shame and guilt acquired along the way – for those, too, were part of the illusions, myths, ancient stories I chose to believe about me – weighing me down and blocking emotional freedom and availability.

Kicking the habit, undoing all that emotional conditioning is tough. It is on-going, challenging and painful. It seems to take forever. However, there really is light at the end of the tunnel, a way up and out of the abyss, and dawn at the edge of night and break of day.

And, I suspect, that from now on it is just going to be a whole lot easier.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: A real and serious blogger

Melting the ice

Quote of the day:

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate. Albert Schweitzer

That’s all she wrote …

… Oh, yeah, and did I say? …


… He decided to stay after all …

A year ago at Mining Nuggets … one day before and one day after:

More lightness of being

Ballet_narrowweb__300x5480_4 While I was walking home down the hill today I noticed that there was a smile on my face. Not a great big one. Just a small, bemused kind of grin. The day was humid and cloudy interspersed with pelting rain showers. It felt as if I have been raging, hurting and running for years. I wondered what it has all been about. It seems like it was a dream, far away, in some distant past, happening to someone other than me.

All that conditioning to feel undeserving, guilty and heavy with shame seems to have dissipated into the air, scattered to the winds – leaving in its wake, lightness, exhilaration, peace.

And a very clear, deep sense that what will be … will be.

Is this heaven?

I could have danced all night …


From left to right: Danny, Tamarika, Sophia, Neilochka (pronunciation is with the stress on the first syllable: NEIL ochka)

For an excellent account of the event, check out Citizen of the Month.

For me?

I could have danced all night …

… and now, all I have to show for it are shining, painted toe-nails … and the memories … ah, the memories …

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: The company of friends (Update)

You be my mind

Waking up in California the air is different. We saw pelicans yesterday – flocks of them, flying low over the Bay. Glorious sunshine and cool breezes. All the family together walking by the water. It was magical.

My book is formulating in my mind and accompanies me as I create new memories with newly found niece and nephew. I will never let them be lost to us again. Philosophical talks with a seventeen year old about what it means to be an adult. I say something about becoming an adult after learning that life is really messy. He replies instantly, quietly, firmly: "I think I know what messy is – it’s just a matter of cleaning it all up." I sense the pain he has already endured and is just seventeen. I will never allow them to be lost to us again. I write down what he says on a slip of paper, the old boarding pass to yesterday’s plane flight. This must go in my blog, I tell him. He smiles from ear to ear and tells his sister, "What I said is going to be up on her website." My book is formulating. More and more confirmation that there is nothing more important than relationships. Math, reading, all that great stuff is great but meaningless if relationships leave us hollow, in pain, searching for our hearts and souls.

Relationships have always been my greatest challenge. The vulnerability to expose who I am, what I think and feel in fear of losing everyone over and over again because I am so unbearable, such trouble … the longing, aching for acceptance and acknowledgment … on and on.

And on the other hand, relationships have saved my life. Validating, supporting, consoling, understanding, accepting, unconditional loving kinds of relationships, hands extended to me from strangers, one or two family members … on and on. Learning when to let go or how to hold still. Challenging and life saving, back and forth like a lullaby, swelling and ebbing like the tide … on and on and forever.

There are other things on my mind related to relationships, accompanying me on this trip out West. My son has decided to return home to Israel. He goes back as a grown man, 34 years old. I feel as if the bow of life is being pulled and he springs forth like from one of Gibran‘s arrows. Even as he chooses to move so far away from me physically, my only real family here in the States, and even as my heart cries out with missing him already, I let go and hold still all at the same time. Ache and rejoice all at the same time for oh so many reasons … back and forth like a lullaby, swelling and ebbing like the tide … on and on and forever.

Kahlil Gibran‘s poem about Children has meaning for me now as I am challenged with this new situation. The poem rises up to greet me, cradle and strengthen me this early morning in San Francisco. It returns to me after 35 years, as I recall reading it while living in Manchester pregnant with my son.


And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: May flights of angels sing you to your rest

On the road again

Quote of the day:

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting. e. e. cummings

It is time to pack the bags and travel again. Tomorrow we head out to California to see the gang plus two. Just for a few days this time.

And in between I will fly over to LA, just for one day, to see Danny after a long, long time, and meet Neil for the first time.

Well, Neil owes me a date, actually but with the brief time allotted and chaperoned by Danny and Sophia, I wonder just what kind of a date this will be.

Come to think of it, I have not seen Danny since he suggested I start blogging two and a half years ago. So, yes. This can definitely be called a Bloggers’ Meeting in the making.

When I return, I plan to bury my head and heart into writing … remind me of this plan, will you? Especially when I stray to playing on Facebook and Twitter, watching movies, blogging, seeing friends, walking in the Wissahickon …

… ain’t life grand?

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: There’s a post in me somewhere …

A writer’s life

Staring at the screen and wondering what to say. Time passes. Half an hour perhaps? Reaching into the brain searching for words to express. Coming up blank. Walking around a little, taking yet another cup of coffee, stopping to stare at the tall oak tree, returning to the chair, desk, computer screen once again. Deciding to write about the writing. Holding still while anxiety rises. Waiting for the brain to get those fingers tap, tap tapping at the keys. Deep breath. Anxiety subsiding. The brain never sleeps. That is true. Dreaming, thinking, feeling, experiencing, watching, observing, ruminating. Adding a Facebook application: Catbook. Ada Mae will accompany me through this exercise. And Nick Drake. Piling laundry into the machine. Giving it up. Needing to juggle up the brain, turn the blood around. Climbing onto the treadmill.

I’ll try again later.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: A day to remember

Bringing it all back home

Dscn2106_2 I was determined to walk 100 miles across England. So determined that I stood outside the Passport Agency at five in the morning. So determined that, for six months, I worked out my body with walking, jogging and weights so that I might withstand and have the stamina for hours and hours of walking in the rain and mud, up and down dale. So determined that I put everything else aside, allowed the world to stand still outside the walking space, and focused only on that.

I was determined in a way that let me know it was more than just the walk. It actually did not have to do with whether I could make it it or not. It had to do with something deeply emotional inside me. A culmination of self-alteration and reflection work these past four or five years or so.

Dscn2149_2  Yes, indeed. I was going to say goodbye.

All the way there, during the long days of walking, and in the nights as I fell into a deep, fitful, dream-filled sleep, I knew I was preparing to say goodbye.

These past few days back home in Philadelphia, walking and jogging on my treadmill, doing my daily house chores, writing, preparing for work, visiting friends, or going to movies, I sense a lightness of being, that has nothing to do with the physical 5 pounds I lost during the walk. Nor is it connected to not having the daypack on my back this past week.

It has to do with shedding baggage.

Dscn2183 Bidding farewell to the past. I left behind, up in the hills by Hadrian’s Wall, pain and anger that I held onto for so long. Just as, one day during the walk, a necklace of sentimental value to me, was lost in the hail storm – left behind in the little copse up there near the sky at the highest point of Hadrian’s Wall – so too did I leave my past pain behind – in the wind, hail, and rain.

Ancient demons and nemeses shrunk down to a manageable size, and I realize now through the lightness: I no longer fear them. Their actions or in-sensitivities have no relevance for me any more. All of them have as vulnerable, complicated, complex, mysterious beings as me. Mostly they haven’t the emotional space or energy to know what they are or are not doing. Their descriptions, labels, stories about me have nothing to do with who I am. I stopped trying to dispel their image of me or prove my worthiness.

On the train from Carlisle to London, I noted in my journal:

I am no longer connected. It is not that I need to disconnect. I am, already, dis-connected. Free. Beyond all that. It has taken place. I just don’t care any more. The exclusion of me has been so complete that I am now, by choice, dis-connected. No need for major decisions or acts of re-action. It is done. I have, in fact, moved on. No need for big decisions, dramatic actions. It is done … I came to say goodbye – but that, too, was done. In March. Between January and March. Six months after fifty seven and a half years of learning how I came to be who I am. Gathering strength, validation, knowledge, support along the way, growing and maturing, analyzing, redefining, self altering. A struggle, at times excruciatingly painful – just like the walk – full of moments of tremendous fear. But, at the end – a great and uplifting experience. One full of a feeling of achievement. Emancipation. Individuation. Discrimination between I and thou. My brain and heart is my own. Dis-connected. De-(a)ttaching. De-(a)ttached. It is done.

"And in the end, so much of it doesn’t even matter," says the Meryl Streep character in Evening.

Dscn2200 All week, for some reason, I have been thinking of the poem by:

e.e. cummings, i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Behind bars