friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness

The Days Of Awe

For those who observe Rosh Hashanah – the beginning of the New Year – L’Shana Tova.  My wish for my family and friends is for a year of joy and good health, laughter and abundant love, peace in spirit and in the world (I realize that’s probably a stretch but it doesn’t hurt to hope).  The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as ‘the days of awe‘.  As God opens the book of life, as we ask to be sealed into its pages for another year our thoughts turn in.  Have our actions and our hearts been in sync with an intent that is bigger than our own hubris?  Have we been kind?  Have we been fair?  Generous in both deed and thought?  Please understand, this is my interpretation of these mystical, spiritual days – I am neither rabbi nor maven on Judaism.  I’m just a woman who responds to the need to consider my actions, apologize for any hurts that I may have caused either with intention or with thoughtlessness and to commit to trying to do better.

I remember my parents during this time of year – from the tender moments of sneaking in to sit with my parents during the adults’ service (which as I recall lasted f-o-r-e-v-e-r), leaning against my father and playing with the tassels on his prayer shawl.  Challah and honey.  A prayer for a sweet year.  Kisses on both cheeks.  Makes my body ache with an undefinable pain that starts in my heart and courses its way through my body.  It’s a visceral thing, this missing them.  

I have no wisdom to offer here – certainly nothing that we all don’t already know.  We are imperfect, we are wondrous; we are foolish, we are wise; we are giving, we are self-absorbed;  we are perfectly imperfect.  So I may not get every nuance of these splendid and awe-filled days, but I get enough to know that wishing you a sweet and loving year is not exclusive to any one religion.  I get enough to know that I deeply hurt  when I think of the times I have shown people the worst of myself instead of my best (or at least my average self).   And I certainly get that considering the synchronicity between my heart and my actions is more than just an annual effort.  This year may I do a better job of being a better person.  May I walk on this earth with a lighter more loving step and let my priorities reflect an understanding that all of this passes too quickly to be dismissive.  A year of light and love and the gift of tomorrow.  Amen.

inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness

Walking Into Life

I think I’ve lived a good deal of my life with my senses on high alert.  When the boys were babies and I was a single mom, I remember sleeping with one ear measuring the rhythm of their breaths, the other attuned to the sounds of the house – I had to be ready, just in case.  I have always been neurotic at work – my silly view that as technology allowed 24/7 availability, I was supposed to be available in every time zone (for we had 33 office around the world).  This made me a very valuable employee in the environment known as ‘Big Law’ – where the bizarre ‘play hurt’ philosophy still drives the billable hour and the head-shaking awe and respect of others.  I’m the person you want in a crisis – no tears, very collected, logical – I’m ready.  Divorce?  Death?  Employment issue?  Performance problem?  Marital angst?  Sick child?  I’m your woman.  I can make it through Whole Foods in fifteen minutes and fill the cart with the proper items.  I don’t love anyone or anything in a half-assed way, and as such I will give it  everything I’ve got – no questions asked.  I have run head long into life – but for the times when I’ve crashed into a wall.

I crashed into a wall when I was diagnosed with this stupid autoimmune disease that makes my joints swell inexplicably, the tendons twisting and rioting without provocation.  When I realized that after too many surgeries I was  going to have to figure out the music that accompanies chronic pain so I could understand the rhythm I’d be dancing too (I hate being off the beat, though I am clearly off-beat).   I didn’t see the wall on Sunday. We were having brunch with our friends who asked about the Jewish ritual of sitting shiva – a seven-day mourning period after the death of an immediate family member.  After seven days in the house, one is supposed to go outside and walk back into life.  I remembered my sister and I doing this after the shiva period for both of our parents.  I couldn’t speak, for the pain of missing my parents was so visceral in that moment.  And I swear to you, for a moment I thought my heart stopped.  Walking back into life.  Walking back into life a person changed forever.

So it was when I retired last year.  No need to re-visit the early days of dissonance, when no notes came together to form a lovely sound.  Suffice it to say, I was opening the door and walking outside, completely unfamiliar with my space in the world.  At first, I walked with purpose – almost defiantly.  At some point I slowed, realizing that I had the chance just to breathe.  I wasn’t driven by urgent need – or my perception of urgent need.  I didn’t need to walk back into life for any reason other than it was my due.  It has taken me months to figure out this new rhythm, embrace the richness of this music and accept that just being me is reason enough to walk into life.  I need not be raising and protecting my delicious boys,  I don’t have to be grieving, I don’t have to be on call for anyone who may need me for reasons which they consider critical (but in retrospect were often pretty self-serving).

The beauty of stopping before you open the door lies in the anticipation of what you will find.  Each day, I now pause.  I close my eyes and open them just to be surprised at what may appear before me.  Goofy?  Perhaps.  A reminder that this is the only moment?  Definitely.