Where is that line between who we think we are and who we really are? Between the people we thought we’d become and the harsher (or softer reality depending on your mood) of who we’ve become?

The notion of the inner and outer is so blurred, wanting to burrow further into our notions of self and be out in the world, exposed and vulnerable. The coats of ideal, presentation we wear out into the world, a sham, or spoof of our real self’s. People see through it, if they’re really looking, know us well enough, or have nothing more than a keen eye of people and their falsities.

And the mind plays games with us all along, telling us lies in bright moments and truths in the dark ones. Being slaves to these masters, we follow along, obliterating ourselves in the process and thus creating a society of self haters, judgers, scared children beating each other up in the hopes of not having to really asses the lies we tell ourselves.

But we are stronger. Stronger than we realize. More resilient. More capable, than we acknowledge…of ourselves and of each other. One need only look at the compassion (even if it may be false and misdirected) that comes from monumental historical events. How do we forget this kindness and compassion so easily? So quickly?! Such a lack of empathy in the world. We want to see in black and white, but it’s the grey that tells us so much more about ourselves and the world around us. Without it, the world would be so stark and unreal. Reality is much more nuanced and refined, having compassion for the man who tried to kill you, or seeing yourself in the woman mourning the loss of her son, the father his wife, the daughter, her husband. Your loss, my loss- they’re all the same. What binds us all is what we love and lose, what we think we can hold onto forever- life, loved ones, children, our own mortality- and are losing or more wisely, letting go every moment of the day.

The reality we don’t want to see is that who we think we are, means nothing, even what we may feel in the moment. The only truth is that in-breath and the one that comes after, the letting go, the out-breath, the release of all we’ve taken in, to create space for what is, what could be, another gift given to us in the moment.


Brooklyn. NY


Be the Light

Small Acts

Many days I go down the rabbit hole, and can’t seem to find my way back out and then a friend will just reach out, or check in, or a loved on will give me a pep talk or take my hand and show me the way. And in that moment, I am reminded that I do not live on an island, but am part of a vast interconnectedness of life, love, struggle, pain, joy, sorrow and blessings vastly beyond my own understanding. And then I stand in gratitude and light before passing it on and paying it forward. #bethelight

I’ve been avoiding, again.  It’s this thing I do, when I don’t want to feel…uncomfortable. As humans, we are almost conditioned to not feel any kind of pain, to avoid it at all costs.  When life gets difficult – loss, sadness, change – the mind wants to run.  And so we begin to think about what’s for dinner or whether your friend was right when she was honest about that guy or if you should have tried harder with your ex and if you need new shoes for that party this weekend and if you spent too much money and what’s for dinner again…  Anything then to just be with whatever uncomfortableness is coming up.

I need to change some old habits that no longer serve me, but old fears creep in as I try to do so, old thoughts – I’m not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, worthy or deserving.  Somewhere along the way, I heard this message through something that was said or told to me or maybe just something that I inferred from a comment.  But now here I am thinking it’s the word of God – “I suck”.  And so, the habit is caught up in a mind game and can’t be broken.  But nothing is unbreakable (well, maybe steel?) and impermanence is key – nothing last forever.

So how do I break the habit and change the pattern?  Ready for it?


When that moment comes and things start to get uncomfortable, and the feelings arise and I want to run and my mind is screaming, SCREAMING at me to walk away, turn on the boob tube or crawl into bed, I need to STAY put.  Be in the murkiness and icky feelings, with as much love and kindness and compassion towards myself as I can.  As the Venerable Robina Courtin says, “You have to get your hands in your own shit.”  We must get comfortable with the uncomfortable, whatever it is.  But this takes great courage or just the simple desire to change.  Practice helps.  Practice in skills that require us to stay with the uncomfortableness, like yoga and meditation and tai chi or any kind of meditative practice that require one to work with the mind.  And great compassion, greater than you’ve ever had for yourself, because great change requires a loving hand to really last or the fear of God – but that’s just a different storyline.

The other thing to remember?  That I won’t explode from the pain of it, my mind may expand, tears may fall from my eyes, I may be moved to express the uncomfortableness through writing or art, but I will NOT explode, at least literally.

Anyway, a little expansion and clear out could do me some good…

My friend is dying.  A gradually slow death where the life is seeping out of her.  She sleeps most of the time, has lost her hair, is rolled from side to side and can’t really speak.  After a battle of the wills against breast cancer that spread, I believe she is done.  Her husband hopes for a miracle and who can blame him?

It is interesting to watch a person go so slowly.  I don’t remember such a long decline when my mother passed.  After years of battling cancer (and all it’s complications), she finally let go of the battle of wills a month or so after I graduated high school.  But she was alert almost to the end.  This is different.  And hard to see.  She’s not suffering, just uncomfortable but it’s my own discomfort that I find intriguing- unable to ask her about her own, I, as a human, revert back to my own…

I want her to leave her body, I want her to die quickly, to “not” be suffering, to let the body go. To move on to whatever comes next.  But maybe she’s not ready.  Maybe she’s afraid.  Maybe the thought of leaving her six year old sons keeps her tethered to her body.  Maybe she too is hoping for a miracle.  Who knows?  There is no way to know, to understand, to make sense of it all.

What is the point after all?  This life we live, this body we inhabit, this soul we imbibe, this heart that beats, often for another, hopefully, for ourselves.  But where is the logic??  We are born and at some point we die, leaving everything we love and hold close behind.  Or sometimes, we are in so much pain that we take our own life, or that of another’s and then our own.  What does it mean?  We laugh, we live the day-to-day bullshit, sometimes we love intensely, sometimes we are loved back, sometimes we aren’t. We give birth, we marry, we divorce, we suffer, we watch those we love deeply suffer and then we die.  To go on to somewhere we don’t know about or understand, or if you view it differently, we just die and that’s it.  So what’s the point?  Why not just give up?

There was a time when I had a lot more faith, believed in purpose, fate, a ‘controlled’ destiny, you could say, with some amount of choice.  Then last year, my father died, suddenly.  And although he was old, it was unexpected and a bit shocking.  Assuming I could handle the loss, being an “expert” at it, I was totally sidelined by his death and my faith was shaken.  I found myself asking, what is the point?  Life? Love? Struggle? Money?  You live your life, the best you can and then you die.  Either suddenly or a slow death and you leave everything you love and hold dear (and fear and hate), behind.  So what’s the point in all the work?  The struggle?

May be we don’t leave it behind, may be it all comes with us, the pain, the loss, the love we feel for everyone in our lives.  May be we live our best lives so when we die, we can take the best of it with us and leave the worst at the door. May be, just may be…

So now I’m sitting here, drinking my scotch, listening to my latest favorite songs, observing the insane beauty of some hot pink variegated ranunculus and thinking that maybe this post is good enough to post and that my friend would tell me to just do it and get on with things.

Natural or man made, these ranunculus are gorgeous and smile inducing...

Natural or man made, these ranunculus are gorgeous and smile inducing…

Inspiration vs Commitment

I’ve found inspiration in the NY Times… again.  But, inspiration is all around us, everywhere, in everything, it’s just a matter of committing to using it.  If we are beings of energy, all of us, living in a universe of seen and unseen energy, then we are constantly being touched by grace, energy.  The tricky part is seeing it and using it with purpose.

Philip Roth gives his last interview (so he says) to Charles McGrath of the Times, about his retiring from fiction. After 31 books, who can blame him?  31 books?! That is amazing, but obviously, not without effort or its own frustration: 

“I know I’m not going to write as well as I used to. I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration. Writing is frustration — it’s daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It’s just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time.”

It’s like a gift of sorts to read that someone who has written 31 books (not counting all those thrown away pages) has struggled so much to produce them, that doing something well, something that you love is HARD work.  What a gift to hear that it sucks [my words] and yet, he did it anyway.  On my quest to find what I loved to do, I always thought, that once I figured it out, the rest would be easy.  Ha!  Total bullshit. Totally a myth.  The irony is that once you finally decide what you’re going to do with you life, then the real work begins.  Hard work. Effort.  Commitment.  Because inspiration is one thing, but then making something real and lasting out of it, is a whole other thing.  And it sucks, but it also is uplifting and joyful and inspiring in itself, its own gift.  

“You know, I needed my life as a springboard for my fiction. I have to have something solid under my feet when I write.”  Roth says about his process.  Which makes me think of life and work, our best comes from a place of grounding, knowing who we are and using that to move forward.  Like yoga, if we aren’t grounding down in our poses, we lose balance or hurt ourselves- the weight needs to be even, balanced, moving in two directions at once.  Up and down; forward and back; in and out; inspired and committed- both at the same time.



Hope Amongst the Ruin

These have been dark days lately, so much loss, so much change.  It’s been hard to see the light through the trees, but I keep looking out, thinking, knowing, hoping that eventually, the darkness will give over to the light and I will feel whole again, ok again, me…again.

Today, that spot of light came in this follow-up on character studies of New Yorker’s that the NY TImes has been featuring to see how they fared through Hurricane Sandy:

Catherine Kendrick, 78, dock master and lifeguard-at-large for the City of Yonkers, evacuated her office on the city pier, where she has kept watch for 60 years, even after her lifeguard husband, Frank, died while rescuing a woman during a storm 10 years ago.

Ms. Kendrick’s health is shaky and over the past year, while sitting sentry at the pier, she had been crocheting a “going-away blanket” to cover her coffin when she dies. She rescued the blanket, which took on new meaning for her after she spent nearly 10 days with no power and sleeping on a lawn chair in her dank, dark apartment.

“The storm changed my mind,” she said on Wednesday. “I’m going to redo my apartment in pastel colors to match the blanket, and I’m going to use that blanket in life, not death.”

This 78-year old woman and her “going-away” blanket made me think that no matter how old or how sad or how devastated we may be, life is in the living, not the dying.  In focusing on the future or the past we forget to live in the present and that is usually all we have.