tamarjacobson

Looking back and thinking forward

Month: June, 2009

Quotes received along the way …

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"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." Groucho Marx

Out beyond ideas of right and wrong there is a field. I'll meet you there. Rumi

Time wastes too fast: every letter and trace tells me with what rapidity my life follows my pen. The days and hours of it are flying over our heads like clouds of a windy day. Never to return – more everything presses on – and every time I kiss thy hand to bid adieu, every absence which follows it are preludes to that eternal separation, which we are shortly to make. [From: Time Wastes Too Fast, by Maira Kalman]

And, finally … The day awaits a beloved sister's arrival …

Memoir-abilia

Quote of the day

Go to your desk on Monday morning and think of some event that's unusually vivid in your memory … any event will do as long as you still remember it vividly. Call that memory back and write it up … On Tuesday morning, do it again. Tuesday's memory doesn't need to be related to Monday's memory … (William Zinsser, Writing about Your Life, Page 164)

I remember one of my first early childhood conferences. I had been in the United States just over a year or so, when I attended the NAEYC conference in Atlanta. I traveled with my, now, good friend Marion. At the time she was the Assistant Director of the ECRC at the University at Buffalo. As a lowly preschool teacher, and accompanied by my teenage son, I had come to America from Israel, to change my life by returning to school for a higher education. I was described as a non-traditional student, which meant being older than typical students, with more life experience – many of us with children of our own – some, like me, divorced and wanting to change the course of our lives – wanting another chance to shift professions, start anew. I was full of hope, expectation and excitement at having the opportunity to study in a large, reputable university. Indeed, I could not believe my good fortune at being accepted! In addition, I was shocked that I was capable of writing papers that were deserving of high grades, and, at times, even accolades. It was as if I had won some sort of life lottery. And so, I applied to present at a National conference and off we went to Atlanta. There, I joined tens of thousands of early childhood educators from all walks of life, ages, colors, shapes, and sizes.I attended sessions in jam-packed rooms. At one such session in which Marion and I participated, there was a panel of experts sitting up on a stage, each one sharing a different piece of research, point of view, and debating about this and that. The level of dialogue and discussion amongst the panelists was intellectually stimulating for me, opening up my mind to ideas I had never considered before, as well as reinforcing and confirming others I had thought about alone in my classroom as a preschool teacher in Israel. My eyes were shining, cheeks flushed with excitement at the prospect of all our future opportunities as doctoral students. I leaned over to Marion and said, "Someday that will be us, Mar."

Now, twenty years later, I get to present in a panel at the World Forum on Early Care and Education in Belfast. I am excited, once again eyes shining and cheeks flushed – this time, with enthusiasm and gratitude to be participating in such an event along with 700 other people from 76 different countries – all of us caring about the future of all the world's children. As I am standing to greet the attendees to our presentation, in walks one of those experts Marion and I saw twenty years earlier in Atlanta. Later, I discover that she came specifically to hear me speak. During my part of the panel presentation, she participates energetically and with insightful humor, and at the end comes up to tell me, "Well done!"

On the way home to the United States from Belfast, I write in my journal about the memory of Marion and I in Atlanta. Later, at home, I describe my feelings on my Facebook page to inform old friends about my experience. I write:

You know you've made it when LK *chooses* to attend your presentation, participates in it and comes up afterwards to say it was great! I could have died and gone to heaven right there and there! No need to carry on … my job is done!
My friend, Marion replies (almost immediately) coincidentally reminding me:
"Someday that will be us Mar" ….and it was for my sweet friend … Oh sweetie what an unbelievable experience. I tell you this 60 stuff is sweet.

Gratitude abounds for finding so much joy this year – allowing myself to open up my heart to let love in from so many different places, when, for so long I had chosen to wall myself off in fear. I look at the date and realize it is the anniversary of confronting my mortality. 

In the end, it seems, life is all about second chances.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Blogging in my mind

Home a- coming

Quote of the day

The secret of patience: Do something else in the meantime. Anonymous (From CCIE)

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It is good to be home. What can I say? It was a really successful trip. Yes. That is exactly what I can say. From every aspect and angle.

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Cheers, from the reception for Teacher Educators at Queens University, Belfast yesterday evening.

Notes from the World Forum

Quote of the day

The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you: they are unique manifestations of the human spirit. Wade Davis

Oh! And what an opening reception it was! 700 people from 76 different countries holding hands and swaying to the music:

Presentations about war and peace, and listening to children. I mean, really listening; Meeting up with beloved colleagues;

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and all around are the beautiful, lilting Irish accents. 
Me oh my, the brand name for our sparkling water at dinner was, "Tipperary."

On the road again

Quote of the day (received on Friday from the World Forum folks):

"Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey."  (Pat Conroy) - Safe journey and traveling mercies.

Am heading out … on my way … summoning up my courage for a short trip, with a couple of stops (to undisclosed locations) on my way to Belfast and the World Forum on Early Care and Education.

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Think I will meditate first …

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Then, stride out for my 4 mile walk …

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Am almost done packing …

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Must not forget the passport;

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photographs of Ada;

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and the family …

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Will be back sooner than you can imagine. Some of you might want to follow my adventures on Facebook (if I have the time and facility) – others might catch a glimpse of something on my blog – who knows what the future will bring, eh?

In any event. I will be home soon. 
Hugs and smiles,
Tamarika

PS – hope you will still be here when I return …

See you tomorrow

Quote of the day

Don't ever slam a door; you might want to go back. Don Herold (Received today from CCIE – timing is everything if one believes in signs)

I am humming all the while I do things about the house, making up the tunes as I go along. Sometimes, I become quite loud, and I notice that there is a rhythmic, repetitive tone, back and forth, back and forth. 
Humming while I: 
  • wash dishes, 
  • prepare Ada's food, 
  • clean out the coffee machine, 
  • freshen up the cat litter box, 
  • pile laundry into the washer, 
  • light candles and incense for watering plants, 
  • feed the birds,
  • water the yard.
This morning I noticed the humming while I squeezed fresh grapefruit juice to drink with my daily vitamins, and suddenly I remembered the rhythmic, repetitive tones of singing and humming of my nanny and the servants as they polished the floors and cleaned the house when I was a very young child growing up in Africa. The memory came to me in a flash, as vivid as can be. I stood still, silently in the kitchen remembering – I could hear the sounds, smell the smells of Africa, and feel the soothing vibrations of the humming and singing as I would lie in my bed with flu, or whatever, enjoying a day off from school. 

My mind wanders to my mother calling out in lilting sing-song tones, "See you in the morning," each night as she kissed me goodnight when I was a child. Leaving my 92-year-old mother a few weeks ago in Israel to return to Philadelphia, not knowing when we will meet again, we said to each other with tears in our eyes, "See you tomorrow" - a newly adopted expression of comfort that one of her great grandchildren came up with when sadly and anxiously parting from loved ones.

Memories come from hidden corners of my brain, rising up when I least expect them, reminding me of my deepest sources of strength and comfort. 

Tuesday rumblings

Thunder and lightning rolling around the skies this morning, while the birds rush to our feeder, eating hastily in preparation for the storm. The intensity in the air is palpable. Summer has returned, just as spring sneaks away leaving our garden lush and bursting with growth, buds a-plenty on the Hydrangea, Coreopsis, and rose bushes. Walls vibrating with the growling thunder, and lightning flashing brightly lighting up the darkened rooms even as the day dawned many hours ago. The sound of pouring rain is soothing settling amongst the roars and crashes in the sky.

I work quietly at my computer preparing for my presentation in Belfast next week at the World Forum for Early Care and Education. It seems that the turning-60-festivities are fast becoming a distant memory, even as jet-lag, lags no more. Work is calling with future presentations and book editing ahead. 

Ada has climbed into the closet, hunkering down in the dark safety away from the storm at our window – and yet, I feel her presence – always close by. I hear my dear little friend rummaging as she finds a soft, warm spot to catch a nap, ignoring the antics of nature, and allowing the day to pass her by.

Soon, I will gather myself to yoga and meditation, oatmeal and berries and, when the storm has rumbled away, will wander off to work.

Holding still

Quote of the day

Of course, I don't walk around joy-filled every day. I am still impatient, and easily rattled by stress. I have days when I am lost in a fog of self-pity or soul-draining misery. Many mornings I still wake up in a sour mood, and I can ruminate over a casual remark to the point of absurdity … I continue to hold my rank as the worst Buddhist in the world. But I am more capable of inviting joy into my life. [Mary Pipher, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World – page 216]

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The key to self-alteration - 

is in the holding still - 
experiencing the pain. 
The only way - 
is through.
Letting go of the ego.

Taking my Self less seriously.
At the other end –
is joy.

Post quel to turning 60

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Traveling to Paris with loved ones, and meeting up and reconnecting with family in Israel – turning sixty was certainly the finest birthday I have ever experienced. There were so many moments of joy that at times I thought my heart would burst wide open! 

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For those of you who remember my count down to sixty story, let me say that at the very last minute, and thanks to Danny Miller's timely recommendations and suggestions to me the day before my birth date, we found the Mille Feuilles I had been searching for at Angelina. I was able to eat one exactly on the day of my birthday. And, guess what? It was not that great or memorable – not compared to being with my loved ones, walking around Paris, boating on the Seine, or breaking French bread together. Yes indeed, I do believe that I have finally resolved my little Mille Feuilles story! 

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Here we are on the morning of my birthday (from left to right): JJ, me, Gilad, and Jan.

Life partner took the picture. So, I took one of him right back – in the Metro:
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In Israel, I reconnected with old friends and my family:

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Me and my 92 year-old mother.

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Younger brother, Josh

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Sisters! Elise and Sue.

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Ian.

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Vera.

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Hugh.

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Daniel.

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Beautiful Iris, mother of Amalia and wife of Yanai.

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There was more, much more, that I could tell, and some of it might be written later as memories settle into my brain. 

All the while, Mary Pipher's book accompanied me on my travels. I was able to complete it on the flight home, and found that many of her quotes seemed to fit perfectly into my emotional state of mind at this exact moment in my life. I will allow Pipher's words to sum up my post-quel to my count down to sixty. For, she tells my tale, even as she describes her own journey to becoming a sixty-year-old woman – almost to the letter …

Quotes for today …

… From, Mary Pipher, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World:

The journey toward a more examined life nearly always begins with pain (Page 193).

When we learn to face our pain and the pain of others, we start flourishing. The opposite of despair is not a surcease of despair (Sorrows are all around us). Rather, its opposite is an explosion of liveliness and joy. Love and light exist deep within us, waiting for us to welcome them into our consciousness and share them with all we meet (Page 207).

I believe that if readers see something of themselves in me, I may be useful. I may help readers feel less alone and damaged, just as I helped myself with these goals. We all share similar journeys. We live through childhoods filled with ups and downs. We share houses with people who both love us and make us miserable … We take turns being the afflicted and the comforter. We experience a crisis and realize our old ways are not working. We stumble around lost and unhappy, only to the see the light, find our new path and move forward. This is our universal human story (Page 232).

As I grow older, though, my life is filled with more moments of joy. Even when I am in deep pain, I can rescue myself by noticing a small, beautiful thing (Page 243).

At sixty, I am still ahead of the horses … But I am aware that I have only a finite number left of Thanksgivings, full moons or spring flowers. That realization makes me sad, but it also makes me notice. I don't often squander much time or let beauty pass me by (Page 244).

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In sixty years of living, my knowledge has increased and my taste has become more sophisticated, but my values have not changed much at all. My greatest faith has always been in kindness (Page 246).

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My questions about my life are all of our eternal questions: How can we best develop our gifts and use them to help others? How can we keep growing until we stop breathing? How can we stay present? How can we be happy? The answers are universal answers: Pay attention, tell the truth, be kind, and find things to appreciate and enjoy every day … All transformations are returns. After setting forth on a voyage of discovery, being chased by monsters, encountering great suffering and beauty, getting lost and being pummeled by storms, we find our way back to our original place and realize that the truth has always been there waiting for us. We connect with that which we knew before we were born. We can resume our ordinary lives with eyes unclouded by longing (Page 246).