Blog

The Importance of Hugs

I never knew the importance of hugs until covid-19 kept us six feet apart. My hug-o-meter is on E. Running on fumes. Easily angered or on the brink of tears watching American Idol.

Yesterday, I graduated from Smith College. The commencement–a day of pomp and circumstance–took place outside my house on the deck. My husband set up a big screen TV to help give me the feeling of being at a real commencement. Soft breezes nudging my thin black gown.

Like many graduation ceremonies this May 2020, it was virtual. No picking up my sister at the airport. No making beds for my daughter and two granddaughters to stay a night or two. I felt un-tethered, texting them to make sure they didn’t miss the flash of my photo and name on the screen.

Names and faces flew by at record speed. No walking up the stairs and across the stage to exchange handshakes for well-deserved diplomas. No flashing cameras held by proud and teary parents. At the end, my husband videotaped me as I threw the mortar board up, into the backyard.

I felt the absence of my parents more deeply than the respective days they died. I’m 64. Still hoping they’re proud of me. Still wanting Mom to help me don my regalia. Maybe it was their spiritual presence that overwhelmed me with grief as I dressed in the bedroom alone before the big event. No hugs.

When the commencement ended, I ceremoniously moved my tassel from right to left. They never instructed us when to do so. I guess they assumed it would just be done. But we were watching from all parts of the globe at different times of the day and night. I felt disconnected. There was no patchwork of live faces on the screen–like on American Idol–with whom to share this rite of passage.

When the screen turned blue, we packed up wires and tissue boxes, went in the house, and watched TV. But not before I got a hug from my husband who said, “I’m so proud of you.”

An exercise to clear/heal the 5th chakra

I’ve had chronic neck pain and stiffness for years. I’ve thrown everything at it, but, so far, not the kitchen sink. That could make it worse.

Here’s an exercise that I read in a book and decided to try:

What I wish I had been able to say…

…and maybe did say when I was an infant and my mother had postpartum and general depression: Where’s my mommy? Why is no one hearing me? Mommy, can’t you hear me? I need you! I’m hungry and I need to be held! I need your touch! I need to feel connected to you. I need to feel safe. I don’t feel safe. I feel cold. I need your warmth. Mommy, please come. Show me that you hear me. Show me that you care. Where are you? I need to see your eyes. I need to feel you close to me! Ma-a-a-m-a-a-a! Ma-a-a-m-a-a-a! Ma-a-a-m-a-a-a!

…when I was a young teenager and my mom asked me to sit with her while she lay depressed, sinking into the couch: Mom, I wish you didn’t feel so bad. I want to be happy and go outside and hang with my friends. I feel trapped. I feel like I can’t move. I feel like I can’t breathe. I think you might hate me if I say No, get up, and leave the house. I wish my siblings hadn’t left home. I wish you and Dad hadn’t divorced. I can’t handle your pain, Mom, it’s too much for me. It’s too big, too deep. I love you, but I can’t fix you. I just want to run and go have fun and forget you and your pain. I want to escape. I feel I’m being held hostage by the pain of your own childhood trauma. I need to go! I need to go! I need to go! I wish I could stand up, walk away from you, and go.

…when I was 16 and my step-mother gave me the 3rd degree over many dinners at their apartment while my dad remained silent, except for occasionally chiming in his support of her: I’m not going to college because, frankly, I’m emotionally stunted from having been raised by a depressed and often emotionally unavailable mother whom my sister and I chose to live with after the divorce because we are girls, after having first chosen our dad because the lawyers and my parents couldn’t bring themselves to make the decision for us and now, hey, Dad, why are you double-teaming me and not letting up when you see tears of humiliation and shame roll down my cheeks because I am unable to give satisfactory answers about college and “Why do you love that boy?” Dad, please! I need you to defend me and tell her to back off, but you morphed into an obedient puppy when you married this loud Jewish woman who is seventeen years your younger.

…when my father and step-mother said that my adult boyfriend of several years could not be included in the family group photograph until we were married because he was not officially part of the family: Well, then all you married people can’t be in it either if you can’t guarantee that you’ll never, ever get divorced. This family photo is just a snapshot of who we are as a family right now, in this moment. (My “boyfriend” and I are still not married, but have been together going on sixteen years. One married couple in the photo has since gotten divorced.)

Is covid-19 the 2nd coming?

On March 31, 2020, I wrote this in my journal:

This covid-19 virus has not even peaked yet. We have at least another four weeks of social distancing, which means businesses remain closed. This is going to be a game changer. I have to have F.A.I.T.H. and trust the Universe. (Float freely, Allow, Imagine desired outcome, Trust, Heal.)

On April 7th, I wrote this in my journal:

Yesterday, my husband was applying decal lettering on a police car in our driveway while the officer stood behind him, watching. I could see from the window that he (the officer) was not abiding by the obligatory 6 feet apart social distancing rule. I went outside and asked him politely, “Are you keeping 6 feet apart?”

He smiled with his baby face and took a couple steps back, but with the look of a teenager’s “whatever” attitude. It bothered me because he’s a first responder. He should be modeling correct practices, if not for himself then for others.

Anyway, apparently it stressed me out because I woke up this morning at 3 a.m. in a stressed panic. But I knew I had to snap out of it, so I took a couple of deep breaths, reminded myself that I’m not in control, nor can I predict the future. I tried to relax my body while I talked myself off the ledge.

Then a thought came to me: What if this virus serves as an opportunity for God/Spirit/Universe to clean house–not just Mother Nature doing a re-boot, but also God intervening to save our souls from ourselves. A second coming! Lol. What if this is “Jesus” coming back as a virus?!

I would be the perfect opportunity for walk-ins, spiritual beings who reincarnate into existing humans. Easily done if someone is feverish and out of it or in intensive care. Meanwhile, the elderly are dropping like flies. I don’t mean to be irreverent, but they had their lives and now a new dawn is coming that perhaps energetically they won’t resonate with. Maybe God is picking and choosing who gets to stay.

Maybe some with severe symptoms plead for their lives, vowing to change if He’ll let them survive. Maybe the virus is God’s way of saying, “Namaste, dammit!” I mean, we’re killing the planet, we’re killing each other, holding tight to our right to bear arms, all in the name of F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real).

I believe we are capable of loving each other and this, our only planet. We don’t have time to fuck around! It shouldn’t take a crisis for us to change.

“Don’t push the river;

…it flows by itself..” ~Chinese proverb

Stepping out of the rushing river of life for a moment is not only difficult to do, it’s difficult to remember to do. It almost belongs on a To-Do list: laundry, shopping, sitting still. How do we fit that into our day? Granted, it’s not really a chore. If it is, we’re not being present. But, for many, it’s also probably not up there on the list of “Fun Things To Do in my Spare Time.”

Yet, regular practice of sitting still and being present can soften hardship and exhilarate joy. It allows the daily dust to settle and clears the fog of frenzy so that clarity of thought and pureness of heart can take their rightful places at the table.

Slow down. Invite the best parts of yourself. Welcome each to their place setting. Then quietly sit among them: patience, compassion, endurance, forgiveness. Offer them nourishment as you feast on silence. Refill their plates when they ask for seconds. Some have arrived malnourished. Dine on dignity, then toss the scraps of doubt.

When you and your guests are full, bid each one farewell. Invite them again, often. They will show their appreciation in ways that will surprise you.

Bon appetit!

I Love what I Love, but Not what I Do

“Let the beauty that we love be what we do.”
~Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-1273)

Why are we here? Is there meaning to this life? These questions we have asked for eons. Maybe there is more than one answer.

More importantly, perhaps, what are we here to do? Each of us has been given a “lean.” What do you lean toward? What propels you? What gets your heart pumping, your blood flowing?

Maybe you’re doing that already. Maybe you’ve found a way to make a living at it. Or maybe there’s a chasm of fear in the way disguised as an “obstacle,” a boulder. Is the other side attainable? Is the chasm traversable? Is there a way around the boulder? A path of least resistance?

What’s stopping you? What’s stopping you from reaching the upper limits of your greatest inspiration, your intention and desire for your work–or play–on this planet while you’re here? Perhaps you’re at a loss for what that greatest desire may be. If that’s the case, how do you go forward?

Try these three steps:

Step 1: Remain open to not-knowing. Let the unknown be OK. It will be revealed to you when you are ready. Don’t force an answer. Try to get comfortable with not-knowing.

Step 2: Get in touch with your passion, with what inspires you. How? Try this:

Make a list of what you love. Try not to think in terms of revealing what to do next in your life. Just enjoy the exercise with no judgment. Think about and write down anything you love. Here’s mine in random order:

Exploring spiritual and physical health and wellness
Music
Dance
Education
Writing (fiction, non-fiction, comedy)
Singing
Making people laugh
Arts and crafts
Helping others
Babies and children
Warm weather
Water and waves
etc.

Now, play with the list however you like. For example, what would it look like to merge everything I love into one career?

I could offer workshops in holistic well-being (with childcare provided) on a tropical island or by a lake in summer using comedy, writing, music, art/crafts, dance, and song.

Step 3: Take baby steps toward your dream. Ask your Spirit Guides (or Whomever for you) for your best next steps. Start with today.

Dream, then do laundry. Dream, then plan. Dream, then send an email. Do whatever it takes. Feel the fear, and do it anyway. Go around, through, over, under. Don’t give up.

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared to believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.”
~Bruce Barton (1886-1967)

This post was adapted from my older blog, Words of Wisdom.

The Joy of Conflict?

“Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.” ~M. Esther Harding

Conflict. It’s something most of us shy away from. After all, we paid our dues as teenagers, didn’t we? Oh. Maybe that was just me. But, now as independent adults, we can choose to avoid it, like choosing whether or not to make the bed or do our chores.

What’s the point of conflict anyway? Shouldn’t we avoid it…even when it’s unavoidable? Make cookies, not war…and that sort of thing? Don’t we want world peace starting with the person in the mirror? I’m conflicted about conflict. When given the choice between fight or flight, the latter seems more enjoyable, especially if I’m headed to a tropical island! 

Conflict, though, can be a positive thing, an opportunity. An opportunity for growth and change. Most of us resist change too, happily strolling along until life threatens to create so much conflict or major crises that we are forced to change. Why not nip it in the bud and embrace it?

Hey, Change! I see you comin.’ You’re cleverly disguised as Conflict. Ha! You’re not foolin’ me! And I’m not afraid of you…mostly. Yeah. Watch me bend and let you roll off my back. And if you come back with more, I’ll do the same. So there!

Conflict shouldn’t be about “fight or flight.” It should be about resist or grow, and asking ourselves: What am I seeing about myself in this conflict? What is trying to emerge in me? How am I participating? Where am I needing to grow? Where am I falling short? 

Today I will search for the gap within myself and do my best to close it. I will see Conflict for what it is: an opportunity for me to discover my best self.

Oh, Conflict! Who knew a silver lining was part of your clever disguise, you rascal!

This was adapted from my older blog, Words of Wisdom.

Making Peace with What Is

“Today I will accept people, situations, and events as they occur. This means I will know that this moment is as it should be, because the whole universe is as it should be.” ~Deepak Chopra

Sometimes it’s hard to think that everything is as it should be, especially when it doesn’t feel very good. We think: how is it possible that this was supposed to happen?! But we remember that change is ultimately positive as it leads to action, evolution, and growth.

Childbirth is physically painful, but look at the end result. Education or learning a new skill can be mentally taxing, but look at the reward. A major life crisis beyond our control can be an emotionally draining struggle, but look at how we are shaped by it.

We are forced out of the routine and into a pin-pointed focus of survival of some kind.We can learn to accept each new situation as something that was supposed to happen. This does not mean, of course, that we lie down and allow it if we see a way to improve it. Accepting life as it is does not mean being a martyr. It does mean not struggling against it in the moment.

We can pause, breathe, and from that non-resistant stance, decide what our response will be. If it is beyond our control, we can choose to go with it and let it be, let it find its own outcome. But if we can affect a change for the better, we can accept what happened and then make our move…or not.

Adapted from my other blog site, Words of Wisdom.