Looking back and thinking forward

Month: September, 2012

Opened to love


Ada Mae spent twelve years with me, and allowed me to love her all the while. Indeed, my little Ada opened me up to love. Except for my son, I don't think I have ever loved like I loved her. My heart was breaking when I held her soft body yesterday as they put her to sleep in my arms. I look for her all over the house and hear her calling me all the time. So many people have been extremely kind to me. I realize that my love for Ada must have shone through to them, because they seem to understand the loss of her sweet, gentle presence for me. When I returned from the hospital yesterday, I intentionally put up a photograph of her and me on my Facebook page – letting all my friends know. I needed their kind words immediately. And everyone came through! It felt as if I was having a small shiva for my cat. It was like a Facebook memorial service for her. It softened the pain for awhile each time I read one of the comments of empathy and commiseration. 

This evening I leave for Italy to spend a week in an old estate about forty miles North of Rome with the famous author, Natalie Goldberg. Together with about thirty other people like me, who want to study more about writing from the master herself, we will learn about meditation and writing, and who knows what else! 

Timing is everything, because Ada's parting has opened my heart. I realize that she must have represented something very important for me, because our bond was deep, and my sorrow at times feels enormous – too large for one little kitty to bear. And so, I relish the idea of the week ahead meditating and writing, even as it scares me as well. For, who knows what will be released from this aging, aching soul of mine?

Memories of Ada: It's the little things; It's party time; Ada Mae

Immigration anniversary

Quote of the day:


[Sign outisde the Unitarian Universalist Church]

It is always tempting to write a reflective piece around this time of the year: transitioning into fall, and the Jewish New Year. I probably have done so each year for the past seven that I have been blogging. Actually, the fall for me, is an anniversary of meeting the United States for the first time. Back in early October 1987, I arrived in Buffalo for a month to see if it was going to be a good idea to uproot my son and me from Israel and emigrate to the States – mostly for me to acquire a higher education. I will never forget flying into Buffalo from New York City. I looked down and saw a wild splash of fall colors reaching as far as my eyes could see. I had never seen anything like it. I gasped with amazement. It was as exciting as if I had fallen in love! Walking out into the crisp fall air of Western New York, I felt a chill that went right to the bone. It felt so completely foreign and new for me. And so, each year since then – 25 to be exact – I sense excitement and anticipation as the air becomes chilly and leaves start to turn and fall to the ground.  A reflective time to be sure because so much has happened since then. Indeed, I think I grew up and became an adult these past 25 years, even though I arrived in the States a year before my fortieth birthday.

Lately I have been thinking that I am tired of living out my history. Once, a memoir seemed like such a good idea, but these days I am thinking about looking ahead. History is important because it helps me understand how I came to be the woman I am today. It even helps me change some of my old self-destructive behaviors. But if I focus on the past I find myself longing to be young, or feeling regret for things I might have done differently. It is not helpful to living in the moment or looking ahead with hope.

Indeed, I am weary of nostalgia. Memory is so selective – determined by attitude, my emotional state of mind in the moment, or in keeping me locked in a vicious cycle, reliving an unchanging life script. And so, instead of wallowing in past transgressions of days gone by … this year, I would like to celebrate the joys of living right here and now, enhancing and enriching relationships with people I love, and who love me back.

And, to conclude … here's a right here and now thought on this, the eve of my "immigration anniversary:" I am an immigrant, a citizen … and I've got hope!

Seven years ago at Tamarika: Jack is back



Quote of the day:

But we also believe in something called citizenship — citizenship, a word at the very heart of our founding, a word at the very essence of our democracy, the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. (Barack Obama, September 2012)

The first thing I did when I became a citizen of the United States, was register to vote. I could never imagine living in any country being unable to vote. After all, this is a right that not everyone has – or has had. And along with attaining that right so many people have sacrificed, suffered, and died. This has to be the most precious natural right we all should have: The responsibility to think critically about who we choose to run our country, and represent our interests to the rest of the world – and then, act on it!

To me, citizenship has never been about whether a person has a birth certificate or not. After all, I was not born in the USA. I was born in Southern Rhodesia, a British colony. And then, after the rebel government of Ian Smith came to power, I lost my rights to citizenship in Britain because I came from his racist, what he then named, "Rhodesia." Even as a very young adult, I learned to think critically about the propaganda Smith fed us. Friends of mine were deported or placed under house arrest for speaking out against the oppressive government.

For me, it is not only the policies that the leader of a country strives for. More importantly, it is the tone and language used in rhetoric. Words matter. If the language is filled with bigotry breeding fear and hatred, the tone does not instill in its citizens the urge to accept responsibility for one another – no matter who the "other" is. Instead, it creates an atmosphere of anxiety, anger and blame. 

We don't think the government can solve all of our problems, but we don't think the government is the source of all of our problems any more than our welfare recipients or corporations or unions or immigrants or gays or any other group we're told to blame for our troubles … (Obama, September 2012)

Politics is personal. No doubt about it! I believe that a leader, who acknowledges his vulnerability, sets a tone of humility and compassion with his words:

And while I'm proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, "I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go." (Obama, September 2012)

Each day I realize how fortunate I am that I have the right to vote for what I believe in. Because I know that there are millions of people out there – out here even, who do not have the right to vote, and, unbeknownst to them, that right is being whisked away even at this very moment I write my blog post.

And so, on November 6, I will rise up as early as I can and try to be first in line to vote for four more years of President Barack Obama. I believe his language of acceptance and compassion for all people of the world, his speeches about "obligation to one another," or not blaming the "other" for our troubles set an important tone – a model that urges us toward responsibility and caring. Indeed, I still use every day, as my signature in my email address, one quote from his inaugural address back in January, 2009, that I consider says it all:

What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives – from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry – an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels. (Barack Obama, January 17, 2009)

Four years ago at Mining NuggetsA dream realized

Seven years ago at Tamarika: A letter to my blog …

Regression recovery

The idea of falling into the abyss has always terrorized me. Because it is invariably accompanied by the notion that I will never find my way up and out again. And yet, part of my emotional script includes tumbling into a downward spiral whenever I dare to feel powerful, successful or happy. So, I seem to have to negotiate this fear on a regular basis. 

This summer was no exception. And spiraled I did. Completely, hopelessly, and, it seemed, with full awareness as it happened. I tumbled into the abyss with all my being: trembling, sore stomach, endless sleepless nights, weeping – for weeks and weeks. Each day I observed what was happening to me as if peering down from some ledge above the deep hole I was falling into. 

However, at the same time I found myself accomplishing so much! And, even, laughing out loud at what was happening. It was as if the inside of my emotional memory was battling it out in public!

And so, before I knew it, there I was – here I am – six weeks later: regression recovered, and I don't remember ever scrambling my way out of the abyss. Indeed, all of a sudden, it seems that I have joined my Self peering down from the ledge and wondering how I magically climbed up and out. 

This morning I stood in my back yard and watched a goldfinch land on the Echinacea I had intentionally planted last spring, especially to entice him into my garden. I kept quiet and still as I observed the bright yellow bird feasting away. Such a hopeful little fellow he is for me. The excitement within me was palpable. After he had flown off I continued on to a different section of the yard when, behold! A luminescent humming bird dived down right in front of me and hovered for many moments as she observed me up close. I stood like a statue, holding my breath, and allowed the tiny bird to size me up and down. It was a long, many-moments too amazing and exciting to imagine.

I decided to take nature's glorious events this morning as signs of regression recovery. For, never have I achieved so much professionally and psychologically as these past six weeks. Even as I fell deeply into the abyss I have always feared, somehow, at the very same time, I was able to navigate it with awareness, tenderness and compassion, and beam myself back safely – intact, but perhaps, even a little bit stronger than before.

Suddenly I am reminded of a post I wrote many years ago, about Bob the therapist from back in my Buffalo days:

I remember a session with Bob the therapist a few years ago. "What are you afraid of?" he asked one time. "Of falling into the abyss," I replied. "Hm … It might be good to just allow yourself to fall into it then," he wondered quietly. I take a deep breath and feel a softening of the neck muscles.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Renewal