December 09, 2011

Psalm 69

Sitting, listening to my Rabbi, Gershon Winkler, I often get chills down my spine, then tears in my eyes, as the Truth of what he is saying washes over my soul. I am captivated by his ability to delve deeply into the Mystery of this Dear World. Such mystery and depth feeds me.

Gershon translated a section of Psalm 69:14 and I submit his translation below. I confess that I had to read it 20 times before I truly "got it." And when I did, it
reverberated through my body as a shock of sheer delight and joy. I now read it daily to regenerate my store of Hope and Faith.

Psalm 69:14 - Translated by Rabbi Gershon Winkler:
And I,
My prayer is directed to you
Infinite Mover of the Universe
When the moment coincides with the Will
In your magnanimous benevolence
Respond to me
In truth
With your support.

November 20, 2011

A Woman as Beautiful

I was recently told
by another woman
that she finds me beautiful.

I believe telling another woman
that she is beautiful
should never be said lightly,
without total conviction.

And should always be received,
with total conviction.

For the beauty that one sees in another
is only their reflection of G-d.

November 09, 2011


I am so very happy to have the opportunity
in my lifetime
to be able to write
as the date.

Notice, Not Judge

We can notice
things, people, ourselves
but not judge.

When you notice
and not judge,
not even have to judge...

When you notice
others, strangers,
especially strangers
who we are to love as ourselves

When you notice
and not judge
You begin the spiral towards happiness.

October 25, 2011

Let Go! Go Forth!

I've spoken deeply with four women who have recently, within the past two years, lost partners. Three to death. One to relationship loss. Each tells me that their deepest yearning, their deepest loss is Being Known. They miss the fact of another human knowing them intimately. They miss this the most, long for this the most. They want to be KNOWN intimately, deeply by another human being. When married/partnered, each had this sense of Being Known. This lack is the soul and heart longing which causes them the most grief.

I too want dearly to Be Known. Known by someone who is a soul-heart-mind-body partner, help-mate, equal-mate, life-mate to me. Having someone to hear and share in the process of life.
The Hebrews' have a concept of "A Neighbor in Heaven." A heavenly neighbor who is a friend and deeply trusted; a heavenly partner whose spiritual qualities are equal to one's own. I am seeking my soul's Heavenly Neighbor/Partner right here, on earth.

I wrote the above during the end of another magnificent summer of solo, plus two dogs, travel. Nearly 4,000 miles of seeing this country's most magnificent roads and scenery. At one destination, I attended a Jewish Women's Retreat in northern California; this is where I engaged in deep conversation with the four women above.

All of the women at this retreat were tasked with the command: Yetsi'at Mitzrayim! the command to Go Forth! Go forth from where you presently are. Go forth from your place of narrowness; from your place of "being stuck." Your very own Exodus from that internal place of narrow enslavement. As God commanded Abraham: "Lekh Lekhah!" Go! Leave! Leave your familiar surroundings and seek your path.
As Life asks of us, sometimes too often in our lives, Go Forth into a new existence. Build a new life and come out on top! Go Forth and begin anew.

At this Jewish Women's Retreat, we were asked to discover that thing, that place of narrowness/constriction which keeps us stuck, keeps us trapped; and to begin the leaving process.
What are we leaving behind?
What do we take?
How do we prepare?
What do we wish our future to look like?

I chose to leave my 'heart sickness' behind. Or rather, I chose to CONTINUE the process of leaving heart sickness. I chose to continue to move into new possibilities, embracing Life.

We Jews have just concluded our New Year/Repentance/Forgiveness Holy Days of Awe. We now enter our Days of Gratitude, of Rejoicing, of Joy. On the Saturday of the Yom Kippur service my Rabbi asked of our group: "What do you wish to let go of?" AND "What do you wish to let in?"

So twice now, within the past three months I have been asked to Go Forth! Leave the Old! Begin Anew! Know what I wish to let go of.
In August it was heart sickness.
At Yom Kippur I chose to release the ENTIRE BAG of GRIEF which I have carried around for far too long. My sister's death, Margaret's death, love unrequited; even the grief of family lost in the Holocaust. I am now ready to shrug it off my back, off my being. Throw it AWAY. I prayed mightily that this be so.

Now, days later, it certainly feels that I have tossed grief aside. Will it last, this feeling, this freedom, this ability to just feel the love and joy of This Dear World, without the grief. I don't know. But I BELIEVE it will last. I know I must stay conscious of the process, of the INTENTION to let the grief go. I want to shoo shoo shoo it away.

Thus....I can truly no longer say that I am longing to be known.

I'm happy knowing myself. Knowing that I can shift my emotions; that I can stay open to Life and its possibilities.

October 05, 2011

From Samson Raphael Hirsch

I'm presently reading The Torah, Samson Raphael Hirsch's translation and commentary.
I read a little from this exquisite Sacred Body daily.

There is so very very much that I could transcribe from Hirsch's Torah commentary to this blog, and I will occasionally share something that has especially touched my heart.

The following is one such Hirsch gem:

"A heart that is full can always find its own ways
of self-expression, except when it is so full
that any expression would only detract from this fullness
and the most appropriate expression is silence."

October 02, 2011

Giving To Oneself

I stretch daily, often more than once; five minutes,
sometimes more each time.
If not done, then the pain and stiffness of my right side become
unbearable. So that I focus too much on pain.

So I stretch. I feel myself loosen, open more, fuller, releasing pain.
I gauge my pain level today vs. last week, yesterday.
Even when there is no discernible improvement,
I love to feel the transition of the stretch...
the part of my flesh, my fabric, my being which does not hurt,
moves easily, freely, joyfully,
with the parts that speak age, stiffness, chronic pain tight rigid.

I give myself this stretching because afterwards

my melting pain
allows my heart to open wide

take in the grandeur of the beauty of the day
the rightness of outcomes
the many things I hold gratitude for
the fullness of life
the very fact that I can move.

September 26, 2011

Blessings, Everyday

Blessings seems too trite a word for the glorious expanse I have in my life.
For the grandeur which is my life.
To have the ability to have gratitude for all that I have.
Of late I have had gratitude for my ability to breathe, walk,
watch a flock of birds fly eastward with the sunset's rosey glow reflected
on their beating wings.
For a car that works, that reliably gets me to and fro.
For a to and fro to go to.
For the counterpoint of busy and significant things to do, listening,
helping to make change in how people feel,
having a clear purpose versus... doing nothing.
That one day, even two in a week, certainly Shabbat, to not go and do;
rather to just be.
Do exactly what I wish to do. Purposely not create, not commerce.

For my deeply heartfelt, mind, soul and body felt love of God.
For the ability to read the Torah and feel elation. My entire being is sparked, aglow with this Book.
Feeling as if I'm steeped in the love of God. Soulful Bliss.

For the ability to hear Rabbi Gershon Winkler ( pour out nuggets of gold, silver, precious jewels of Wisdom, weekly. He comes to my Temple. He comes to us, those who love him. Weekly. I get to hear some finely tuned essence of Truth, essence of The Divine, from him, weekly.

For the splendid, continuing reception I receive from strangers who already feel as family. Temple members. Who are genuine. Real. Deep. And expect the same of me.

For the two creatures who inhabit my world, Reilley and Leo. These two canine souls who I love, who show me daily how to have fun.

Blessings All.

Blessings because they are Given.
I deserve this munificence no more than the next.
Awareness of this allows me to have Gratitude and Joy;
to give to my mind a glimmer of what my soul feels.
Rabbi Gershon first allowed me to realize that a mind wants total Joy too;
an Ah Ha moment if there ever was one, when he said:
The body and mind are always searching for what the Soul feels.
My mind dances in the words of the Torah, in the words of Gershon's love of Life.

September 12, 2011

What Can Only You Give Yourself

Tonight I asked a 65 y.o. woman: What do you want that only you can give yourself?

Of course I had to answer this question myself;
and did so as I walked with Leo and Reilley tonight,
full moon in Pices.

What is it that only you can give yourself?
Why, love, respect, dignity. And forgiveness, compassion.

Gotten from others, maybe, hopefully;
but truly fulfilling when we give it to ourselves.

July 18, 2011

On the Cusp

I am on the very cusp of my 63rd year,
and I have just now recognized,
honored, acknowledged, looked at......a habit of mine.

Something I feel I've always done, and haven't known before.
That is: I love to mix up, match up, blend different things
to create new smells, new tastes, new entities.

I have a need, which has become habit
to mix and create and blend different spices, herbs,
food stuffs, different essential oils, scents
into creations of delicious smell and taste.

One of my earliest memories is in the kitchen of
one of my aunts. There I am with my mother, aunts,
or maybe just one aunt....
but it was in their kitchen.
They expertly pound and mix and measure
all the while talking
to me, to each other, a stream of movement,
flour, eggs, butter, water becoming dough
which they knead shape cut stretch and place
to their liking;
clean kitchen towels, well worn wooden spoons,
the scale to measure in deci kilograms,
and their hair wrapped in the requisite scarf
tied aunt Jemima style
to keep the stray hair from the food.

I watched these women
create joy and excellent taste.

I was as much a part of their doing and creating
as anyone there.
I was given some childproof simple chore,
simple yet essential to the final outcome of
their creation.

Crack the walnuts, separate the meat from the shells,
then grind my walnut meat prizes for sprinkling into
the apple sugar spice filling mix of apple strudel.
Peel the boiled chestnuts, making sure to get all of
the fuzzy crust off;
these were mixed with whipping cream, sugar and rum
for the delicacy of chestnut pudding.
Of course peel potatoes, with an extremely sharp knife
which I could wield like a pro before I was ten.
Or pit the prune plums, ready them for insertion into
the squares of potato dough,
soon to be delicious sugar filled, and breadcrumb coated
Hungarian plum dumplings.

I was able to watch, listen and create with these first
important women in my life.

All of my life I have watched women
sure, confident, clear
about the act of creating tastes and smells,
in homes and kitchens where they feel free to create.

Later in my life I created with other women,
women who were chosen family; women I fell
in love with.
We did alot of cooking and baking and talking and
creating together.

I saw the kitchens of the women of my chosen family
before we made our own kitchen
before we organized mingled
her wooden spoons, cutting boards,
pots and pans, knives, all of her essentials
with mine.

I was always fascinated by the kitchens of others;
the place you feed yourself and the ones you love
what you want the food to taste like,
not what someone else thinks tastes good.
Where you create your own good taste.
Where you trust your judgement to
create a taste which you'll love,
which others will love,
or at least like.

So I watched and followed the women in my life.
And learned to create my own mixes and blends.

This mixing and blending which I bring to my life
gives me an opportunity to slow down,
do something which comes so naturally
that I don't have to be fully conscious of the act.

I'm just conscious of how the thing will taste,
or smell. The knowing exactly what to add to
bring the taste, smell to perfection seems innate.
I aim for divine smell and taste follows.

The mixing allows my mind to wonder
and wander
and relax.

Here I am getting out my curry spices,
putting them on the counter to mix match and blend
into a stunning creation of good taste.
My mortar and pestle is as important to me as the Sabatier
chef's knife which my friend Demita gave me in my late 20's,
which I still use, which I would be lost without.
I take cardamom seeds from their pods, grind with fennel,
celery seed, ajwain, cumin,
mix the ground blend with cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric.
I make a delicious curry.

And blending smells.... scents,
which I've always done,
which I learned to do from the women in my life
who I watched.

There I am looking at my entire shelf of scents,
on the top row of my medicine chest.
Lots of them.
I like to keep the bottles as long as I can cause
they remind me of when....

I take an empty small vial and begin smelling and mixing scents.
I trust that what I create I will love, at least like.
Created scents which I love to wear
because the smell excites my senses.

Lavenders, patchouli, sandalwood, rosemary
these are some of the primary loves of my life.
Once you've had the privilege of caring for one or more of these
fragrant ones, in plant form,
you come to know their cycles of growth and flowering
their attracting bees, their dissuading deer from chewing.
They are so very kind and prolific
when planted in a coastal, south facing full
sun.... well established....with love.
I loved them and continue to have them in my life.

I love to smell them each one each as well mixed and matched.

I love the act of mixing things in the kitchen and bath.
Things which I use routinely in my life,
things which make my life rich and joyous.
Smells and tastes which spark my soul.

And I have a prayer book which praises God for the creation
of delicious smell and taste.
Can you see the pure joy
the pure joy I feel when I give praise for the very things
I cherish and do habitually.
The pure joy of being able to read
in black on white
which makes
me aware of smell and taste in my life.
Which has sparked my new knowledge of my habit of
putting good smells and taste into my life,
my unconscious habit of mixing matching blending
now made conscious.

Here I am on the cusp of my 63rd year and I fully know
something about myself
which I hadn't before.
My love of mixing matching blending things to become delicious and fragrant.

A new piece of myself which I can own, love and appreciate.

July 09, 2011


The Havdalah candle emits a powerful flame. Four braided wicks burning as One Flame. Letting the world know we are here. We are not going away. We are strong. We are One. Our God is One. The many is One.

I love to light the Havdalah candle, say the Havdalah Blessings, smell the spices, drink the wine, read the Siddur passages and contemplate the transition from Shabbat to the mundane week; the passage from Sacred to Ordinary...and how to keep the Ordinary...Sacred.

I continue to be filled with acknowledgement of God's work in my life. This is a blessing for which I'm incredibly grateful. I continue to pray for the ability to feel the joy and love which daily fills my soul.

The following is a passage from a poem "I'll Let You In On a Secret" by Jacob Glatstein, as translated by Ruth Whitman:
"The day is departing with a quiet kiss.
It lies open at your feet
while you stand saying the blessings.
You can't create anything yourself, but you
can lead the day to its end and see
clearly the smile of its going down.
See how whole it all is,
not diminished for a second,
how you age with the days
that keep dawning,
how you bring your lived-out day
as a gift to eternity."

How you bring your lived-out day as a gift to eternity.

May 30, 2011


I am watching the footage of flood tornado
tornado flood ravaged large swaths of our mid-section
that middle America piece of us with a River
a mighty River running through us, be she Mississippi or Missouri
that piece of our land where farmers grow our midsections fat
plant our American midsection fat with corn
that piece of us which takes its lead from Mother.
The greatest Mother. One to be feared, who unleashes her Power and Fury.

Seeing pictures of the people, the average people, the poor people
the basic people of this mid-section...they survive.
They hold on, barely.
They are us, and not lucky.
There but for Grace, Amazing Grace, go I.

These people have all mushroomed in the past 40 to 50 years.
Actually, there is no "these people" as it is All We.
We have all mushroomed.
Compare group photos of US 40 years ago. Bodies now viewed
as almost thin, sleek, fit.

Watching the parade of tragedy and the people affected,
the nightly footage is relentless and almost predictable.
The reporter in L.L.Bean or Columbia wear, crosses a flooded street,
stands in the middle of some tragedy of tangled trees and homes,
showing us the visibly damaged homes, towns, lives
which we get to watch comfortably dry and unscathed
in living rooms on sofas which have also mushroomed.

As I watch, I see the extreme pain, tragedy, suffering
of people who can least afford more pain and hardship
in their too hard lives.
I look and cannot help but also see the disease and disability
which these "unlucky I" concomitantly suffer.
These but for fortune unlucky I
not only suffer their typical daily, weekly survival;
now made worse by Mother River, Mother Rain, Tornado
they suffer too the painful facts of their disease and disability.

The diabetes which eats away bodies as surely as any past plague.
The straining hearts aching from being over larded, aching too from
Mother River, Mother Rain, Tornado's wrath.
The teen aged girls who are too young to be so large,
their mothers too young to be obese,
and the pregnant men.
All of the men carry at least four month olds, a few are full term.

This over larded midsection carries the ache of loss
and the ache of disease and inflammation.
The fiery burn of stomach acid tossed into mouths made
bitter from unexpected tornado flood loss, and disease.

I watch the nightly view of destruction and ask:
What is wrong with a cultural, societal, group ethic
which believes that the remedy is better than prevention?

We've created a multi-billion dollar industry to remedy us.
To fill us with potions and pills to treat our mushrooming midsections.
The remedy industry.
The people who do not question
that popping pills to cure our pains and ills
is an acceptable way to deal with mushrooming disease.

The pill for erectile dysfunction,
for an intestinal tract burning, screaming daily for respite.
For cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar
mushroomed too high from our groaning excess.

An industry which accepts the presumption
that mushrooming people is not the problem
rather just treat the results of being over larded.
Cure with a remedy.
One which we're quite happy to sell you.
We'll take your money, little as it is.

A cultural normal of remedy rather than prevent
creates entire industries creates employment creates profit
for those who traffic in the pain of others.

Pharmaceuticals employ our educated doctors schooled to
dispense pills
not facts about disrupting the too large midsection's
cause of inflammation, disease, burning pain.

Our larded mid-sections cause diabetes, heart disease, erectile missteps,
intestinal woes, arthritis, dementia, loss of vision, even cancer.
Pharmaceuticals provide financial security for retirement accounts and
ad agents. Our six o'clock TV ads exhibit the inflamed sufferings
of our midsections, all one cause, remedied with sundry pills.
The 20 second new age tech and networking ads for heartburn, erectile
relief streamed through computer, smart phone.
Please God keep the need for pills to feed our profits.

The hospital-medical industry thrives along with pharmaceuticals.
The one job segment not losing workers to China, India, Singapore.
Affording women decent pay as nurses; medical tech jobs still abound
in markets bereft of hope.
Physicians unschooled, unpaid to teach real relief not gotten from a pill.
Thus the teaching doesn't happen.

We surrender ourselves to the care of the uncaring.

Who in the national discourse sees the DISCONNECT
between the growing girth of us, the incessant cultural picture
of inactive too doughy icons who use, or will soon need to use
pharmaceutical products.
Who links the growth of our mid-sections with the growth of medical cost?
Our mushrooming bodies yield mushrooming bills, debt,
private, state and federal.

We see eating, having fun having jolly
laughing more jolly reflections of us,
having fun as we down the things
which cause disease and pain.

Who is talking about the insanity of continuing what we have
made readily cheaply available for people to eat.
The too salted, fatted overly refined grains shaped into cleaver
new scoops to hold a newly discovered dip.
The candy everywhere society.
The college and high school campus selling candy
large parents bringing sweet treats for their large star performers.
Sugar, candy, fat, salt, processed is everywhere.

Organizations we trust, we give money to, those paragons whose mission
is to advocate for public health, our health:
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
American Diabetes Association
Kaiser and worthy others...tell us continually:

The telling, the message, the accepted voice of what we are to do
tells us to consume that which is most difficult to find.
Most costly.
Not easy to prepare when we have forfeited our daily kitchen skills
when we must deal with two jobs to keep us together,
when we must deal with no job and still try to keep us together.
Difficult to find food when one travels away from home, on the road.
Certainly unobtainable after Mother River, Mother Rain, Tornado hit.

What we presently have is hurting us. A DISCONNECT from the reality of need.
Need for icons, systems, cultural supports, cultural norms which afford
relief from disease and pain. Relief from our burgeoning pill box.
I have seen the pain. I continue to see the pain.
We all hurt because of this DISCONNECT.

May 27, 2011

Sweet Doggie Reilly

She is old; soon to be 13 the end of June, 2011. She is deaf; lost her hearing about 3 years ago. She has a growth under her left front paw pit (what would be a human arm pit). She no longer is in the lead when we walk. She's taken doggie Callie's spot before she died, in the rear. My new doggie Leo is now in the lead, with me in the middle, and Reilley dutifully keeping pace.

She is now so very precious to me. Margaret brought her home, to give Callie a friend to play with during our too long work days. Reilley was 6 months old when I first saw her. A too large head, baby teeth which were too widely spaced apart, and a willful attitude which caused her to run away her first day with us. The woman who found her was a dog lover and all was good, but she gave us a scare from the get-go. Callie remained the alpha dog, and Reilley was happy to do Callie's bidding.
Callie was my favorite because of her extreme sensitivity to my moods and the way she could vocalize her pleasure at being held. When Callie died in August 2008 at 13.5 years old, I was thrilled to have Reilley as a living reminder of Margaret.

Now each day, I realize how very precious Reilley's life is to me. I love her smell, a blend of sun drenched dog hair and musky dog. I love her otter shaped head and looks, her loving vocalizations, her ability to know my hand commands and the easy routine we have fallen into. Two walks a day, two meals a day, a "treat" of Mary's vegetables and some grain at noon when Mary cooks lunch, her doggie bed, and the backyard which she is no longer interested in. Her life is 18 to 20 hours of naps and sleep, and 4 to 6 hours of fending off Leo's humping attacks. She is tolerant. She is patient. She is loving. She is precious. She is Border Terrier.

And I will have another loss to deal with when she passes. I pray that we have at least two more years together.

May 26, 2011


I realize, deeply, daily, several times daily, that I take into my being,
into my totality,
the fact of my good fortune.
I have been granted my deepest prayer.

I have prayed lifelong, daily: God Help Me To Realize
That Loving You
is the Most Important Thing in my life.
I can honestly say that I have this.
At this time of my life.

And it came to fruition with Judaism.
I vowed during my Immersion into Living Waters,
my Conversion to a part of my being which always
felt that it was, but truly was not.

I did not understand and now I have so very much to understand
and absorb.
But which feels joyful, loving, beautiful. I have added Beauty to my life.
In comes daily in the form of Torah.
Torah has entered into my consciousness, into my being, into my depths.
At my Immersion I vowed that I would stop the sense of fruitlessness,
of negation, of grief
which twinged my totality.

I am now understanding at a deep level that I have
tremendous love for The Divine/The Oversoul/
The Melech of Creation/Adonai/Eloheinu/Shekinah/YHWH/God/
All Powers/Unfathomable/Unknowable/Compassionate/
Loving/Forgiving/Merciful/Creator of All.
I access this sense of love often.

How fortunate I am that I continue to have a spiritual community.
Such community has been in my life more years than not and I again have this.
People with whom I resonate,
with whom I can praise, glorify, sanctify, worship, love The Divine/Adonai...publicly, for all to see and feel and be part of.
A Rhythm of Rituals, Festivals, Social Being; of Divinity, Gratitude and Praise.

Which fills me with tremendous joy; and new purpose. New goals. New study and learning allowing me to continue to go deeply into my innermost being.

Which is where I like to be.

Your Emotional Grace

Mary began an eight week support group: Your Emotional Grace at the conclusion of her healing nutrition classes hosted by the Ventura Unitarian Church: Your Body's Grace. She wanted to create a support group for women who required more and intensive prodding to deal with their negative self image. This negative self image which many women carry, which eats at the very heart and fabric of their being. It eats at their emotional health and is the primary factor in their poor physical health, reflected in their poor eating choices. Women are intimately connected to their sense of self via their bodies. Our looks, attractiveness, physical appeal to others has become a way for women to judge their worth.

I wish it were not so.
I wish that all women could realize that the true basis of their worth is the goodness of their actions towards others, the goodness of their intentions, the love they show towards others, the manifestation of God's Spark in their souls.
As the first century B.C.E. Jewish Sage, Hillel said (and this is the foundation for: Love thy neighbor as thy self):
"What is hateful unto you, do not do unto your neighbor."
This is the true merit of our being. Not our looks. Not our looks.

Thus once again, I conducted a group to provide women a safe place to share and become vulnerable to confront deep issues, fears, which keep them stuck in negative habits and thoughts. I have previously conducted such groups, thus felt comfortable with my charge:
(Taken from my 'mission statement' for this group)
I will call this group: Your Emotional Grace. You will learn that what you eat intimately affects your emotions, as well as a host of other body functions.
I will ask you to look at yourselves and to trust that you can tell what you find to other women who vow to not disdain you, to not mock you, to totally respect and hear what you have to say. If you become vulnerable to this group, you will be safe. These women may even come to love you.
This is what I expect and will do my best to assure its cultivation.
We will discuss your deeply held perceptions which have proven to be negative for you. We will find ways to change these perceptions and grow.

Now, at the conclusion of the eight weeks, I am thrilled to note here, publicly, that all of the eight women in this group have in fact made major strides in their emotional/physical selves.

With the goal of aiding women who also seek support to change the negative patterns/thoughts which keep them trapped in a body which they dislike (even despise), I am publishing the questions I've posed to this group to help their transformation.

Group I
1) What is your ethnicity and where did you grow up?
2) Do you cook? If yes, for how long have you done so, and do you feel comfortable doing it? If no, do you want to cook? What stops you?
3) What belief(s) about yourself do you wish to change?
4) When did you first come to believe this thought/idea/"fact" about yourself?
5) How has this thought/idea/"fact" served you in the past?
6) How does it no longer serve you?
7) Name at least 3 things (more of course!) that you do well, have mastered, are more than competent in. (I'm looking for you to talk about the achievements in your life.)

Group II
1) What DO you trust about yourself, and why?
2) When do you begin to take YOUR needs seriously? When do you honor what YOU need?
3) At what point in eating does the comfort turn to discomfort?
4) What does food numb you to?
5) List 3 ways you can increase your physical activity.
6) Stay CONSCIOUS/AWARE of how your naming of a belief which no longer serves you has begun to effect change in yourself. How the desire to change is actually aiding the process of change.

Group III
CONCEPT: It is NOT deprivation to not eat food which causes pain. (Pain of physical discomfort, emotional discomfort, actual disease and disability.) This is not about deprivation; it is about "having." When you feel better physically/emotionally then you are more alive; and are able to share your aliveness with others.

CONCEPT: Dieting will ALWAYS fail because in "dieting" we so deprive ourselves of sufficient calories AND nutrients, that we can only "take it" for so long before our cells literally scream for what we need. When we lack nutrients, we simply crave calories; thinking that the extra calories will meet our nutrient needs. Thus we don't crave say high iron foods when we are anemic, rather we crave the sugary/salty/fatty foods which simply supply calories -- LOTS of calories.
Also, "dieting" is fundamentally seen as "temporary", thus the desire to be "off" the diet.

CONCEPT: The process of changing WHAT you eat literally changes the cellular makeup of your body, which changes your emotions.

CONCEPT: The process of changing HOW you think, changing your thoughts, also literally changes the neuropathways in our brain. We begin to create new neuron pathways leading to new thoughts, new feelings. We open up to new possibilities. We don't get stuck in negative thoughts about ourselves which keep us from feeling totally alive. Joyful. Grateful. Loving.

1) Write about the women who have modeled for you hot to "be" regarding food, your body image, your worth, your work.
2) Regarding feeling "not good enough" write about how your life evidences PLENTY, BEING LOVED, YOUR GENEROSITY. What do you have ENOUGH of? For what are you grateful?
3) MIRROR WORK: each time you encounter a mirror in a private place (typically a bathroom): Look deeply into your eyes and say: "I love and accept myself exactly as I am."
4) Begin to become clear about exactly what is shifting for you. Be able to say what is happening in your body, in how you perceive your self, your abilities.
5) Stay CONSCIOUS/AWARE of how your naming of a belief which no longer serves you has begun to effect change in yourself. How your desire for change is actually aiding the process of change.

Group IV
CONCEPT: YOU ARE THE PARENT TO YOUR BODY. As such, as a parent would, do all things concerning your body with Unconditional Love, Patience, Acceptance, Trust in Good Outcome. This is truly about cherishing your body, your Self. Your body as a reflection of God.
As humans, we change because of abject fear, terror, shock...or love.

1) Formulate, state the NEW belief you are forming for yourself. (First state the OLD belief, then the NEW one.)
2) State in detail how you are making the new belief happen.
3) What are you doing for movement/exercise? Be specific.
4) Continue your Mirror Work.

Group V
You can notice things about yourself, your feelings, your attitudes, your body, as well as notice these things in others....and accept and love, rather than judge.

Remember that each time you do for yourself, any act of daily maintenance, from paying bills, to cleaning, shopping, cooking, housework, even it with love. Each time you do for yourself without love, notice this and ask yourself why.
Why not kindness for yourself?

Also, take NO PRIDE in changing how and what you eat. This is NOT about feeling superior to others. Parenting oneself, caring for oneself is not a matter for pride, it is just something we do because we must do it; as a parent must care for their child. As you change your food choices to achieve self care, remember that Hitler was a vegetarian. If we judged one's character based upon what they ate, we would be woefully woefully wrong.

1) What are your beliefs about moving your body?
Continue to stay CONSCIOUS/AWARE of your process of change.

Group VI
In this group we cooked a meal together. We cooked and ate from Mary's "Triad": Protein/Vegetables/Whole Grains.

We had a feast of quinoa; Chinese style tofu and vegetables; Italian style tofu and vegetables; and for those who wished, sauteed shrimp with spinach. We also feasted on homemade crackers and guacamole dip; vegetarian chili beans; and a 3 bean salad. Dessert was a fresh assortment of berries and soy cream.

As we cooked we discussed easy and practical cooking tips, keeping it simple, and no need for fear!

As we ate we discussed how one knows what Satiety/Satisfaction feel like; how to know when to stop eating. And we discussed the process of becoming overweight: how one accommodates the body to slowly and continually being able to eat more. The slow progression of gastro-intestinal problems, aches and pains, poor lab results, dislike of movement, etc. And how likewise, in the reverse process of gaining a body of health, one must slowly and continually accommodate the new feelings of eating less, eating different choices. The things one must stay aware of in regard to what is placed in our mouths. Just as we stay quite aware of what is placed in our bodies, on our bodies.

Group VII
This group consisted of Mary doing individual assessments of each woman's progress.
Nearly all of the eight women were able to fundamentally change their old, no-longer-useful negative self perceptions.

One of the women who felt "not good enough" was clearly able to see that: "There is no such thing as earning the right to be." She is involved in a Course in Miracles and could thus state, with conviction: "Illusion recognized must disappear."

One of women who believed that her entire life is chaos was able to sense a paradigm shift in her perceptions about stress. She had begun to recognize: the point that her stress begins in her day (vs. previously never recognizing stress, and automatically thinking the generalization that her entire life is chaos; and using food to numb to this overwhelming belief). She was now able to drink water, breathe deeply, read, walk, garden, and make better food choices as ways to deal with stress.

Several of the women stated what they are NO LONGER BUYING in the grocery store (ice cream, crackers, chips, chocolate, and white flour products, white rice and refined grain products).
Awareness of what you no longer eat is a wonderful way to see what you now allow into your being/for your being.

For the eighth and final session, the women were asked to respond to these questions:
1) Please state as specifically as you can, how your life has changed in the past eight weeks re: Your Body; Your Appetite/Cravings; Your Moods; Your Sense of Self and Your Love of Yourself.
2) Can you foresee things changing back to how you previously felt? How "ingrained" is your knowing that how you feel now is better?
3) How would you change the group process to improve your experience?

Group VIII
At this final session the women responded to the questions above, as well as reiterating the things they planned to do to continue their changes. And generally, Mary reminded them of the need to Parent Their Bodies: to eat well to create a healthy "cellular soup" for their mental as well as their physical health. To use deep breathing as a tool to relieve stress. To create new intentions and attitudes about loving yourself. To use Mirror Work and KINDNESS TO YOUR SOUL to allow you to totally remove guilt and self abnegation. AND, to take pleasure in eating and doing that which allows you to remain whole, vital, and alive.

April 21, 2011

A Rabbi's Blessing

Rabbi Shoshanah Devorah lives and tends her garden of Souls
in Mendocino County.
She is a white haired beauty who has always been exquisitely kind to me.
Twice now, at critical junctures in my life,
once after Margaret's death,
and again in December 2010,
she has lent me her ear,
her counsel,
her heart and goodness.

She has held my face in her hands
and wished me grace,
wished for me God's face shining on mine,
and the presence of peace.

She has wished for me God's face shining on mine.

Such a wish is what someone tells their child,
their dearest loved one.
Such a wish is only spoken from one soul to the other.
From one who has yearned for, maybe even felt
God's face shining on theirs.

This wish she gave to me.

Today I received another Blessing from this kind woman:

Dear Mary,
Seems to me your "being Jewish" ceremony is coming up in just two weeks now, so I want to wish you a big Mazal Tov! May the occasion be even grander/deeper/higher than you can imagine, and may your Jewish life continue to reward you, and those you touch, deeply in the years to come.
I am present with you energetically as you affirm who you are,

B'shalom oovracha
Bruchah HaBa'ah
In Peace and Blessing and Welcome,

May the occasion be even grander/deeper/higher than I can imagine.

And I realize that I am coming into a sacred moment of my life.

I will share my deepest love of God with others.

April 16, 2011

Why I Love Judaism

Cause I can see the waxing moon growing nearly full with a plane's pink contrail against an azure blue sky and know that in two days we will celebrate this particular full moon with the Festival of Unleavened Bread, Passover. A Celebration of Freedom from Slavery, coming out of Egypt, out of our Narrows, coming into Freedom, New Life.

My Rabbi, Gershon Winkler, teaches that this Coming Out of Our Narrows should ideally occur certainly yearly with Passover's Remembrance, but daily, daily renewing our commitment to Freedom, Aliveness, Acceptance and Love. Come out of our constriction of mind, narrowness of thought, hatred and pettiness.

Weekly Shabbat creates a time of Renewal, Time of Rest and Honoring The One who Created us and Our World. Lighting candles to hallow the passage of Night into Day, acknowledging Time the Creation of the fact of Time. Honoring the tiniest particle of what God, Sovereign of The Universe, has given to us. Creator of the fruit of the vine, our bread, our working bodies, our Souls. Healer of all flesh. Giver of All. A Creator who asks us to act as Loving, Discerning Co-Creators, who gives us some simple rules, to keep us Human.

I Love Judaism because weekly, in Temple, my body turns into a receptacle of Love, a puddle of Joy and Bliss. I am with a Body of People who unite to Love God, who wish to be with other Jews to Sing, Praise, Rejoice, Grieve and Pray Together for the benefit of ALL. Who wish Peace Peace and Goodness to ALL; despite centuries of suffering extreme hate extreme cruelty extreme torture and extreme killing. We wish Peace, Kindness and Goodness for ALL. Still.

Cause this Body of People, Yisrael, are community community community and if needed would care for me, do care for me, love me and each other. Who hallow each presence with friendship and respect. Because this Body of People, Yisrael, watches the Moon; celebrates the New Moon; celebrates Festivals on the Full Moon. Who Love Words, hold Sacred a Text The Torah which has survived survived which is discussed, picked apart, thought deeply about, cherished. Who take nothing for granted. Whose ancestors' lives have been examined in detail, story by story, word for word, even letter for letter and they have been found to be fearless, brave, generous, loving, merciful, forgiving; also vengeful, lacking, all too human. But foremost these Ancient Souls believed in Themselves and in Their One God Creator of The Universe. Their stories provide hope and guidance for living our own lacking, wanting, all too human lives.

Because my People, Yisrael, have rituals which cause me to purposefully stop, consider Good in my life and Good in others. My People sing out praise for Our Creator. Praise. Joy. The collective, ritual acknowledgement of our Oneness, God's Existence and Oneness, Graciousness, Goodness, Mercy and Kindness. We are asked to personally interact with God by being an example of Adonai' Light when we interact with others. I love to be reminded, ritually, purposefully, so that I may consciously, and collectively with all Jews, display my love of God.

I love Judaism because it is Rich and Deep and Loving and Sparks every fiber of my being. I am proud to become a Jew, to enter into an Ancient Family to whom I have always belonged. To honor that part of my family who have suffered mightily for just being who they are, for the Love of Adonai.

March 17, 2011

Two Women Walking Arm in Arm

Two women walking arm in arm
See Them....
linked arms, matching stride for stride,
measured and sure,
matching casual conversation,
think two Eastern European, French, Italian
African or Latin American
women totally at ease,
totally comfortable
taking public space and time.
Two friends, sisters, lovers,
relative of one sort or another
sharing words which matter, hold attention, have rich context
and meaning.

Two women walking arm in arm
connecting limbs, hearts, minds, ideas, spirits.
See the transfer of the bond passed easily
back and forth, consciously subconscious and appreciated.

Lovely to gaze upon, these two women
easy with each other, walking in step,
talking, sharing, the casual rhythms of the day
the whispered intimacies that each must hear
the Wonder of the flowers, shrubs, trees, sky,
buildings, others which surround
which create the context of their walk,
the flavor and tenor of that which
surrounds the sound of each voice, each dual step.

See the two women happy for their contact and connection.

March 08, 2011

Positive Emotional Shifts

I have always been acutely aware of my emotional state. I feel the shifts which occur, the ups downs extreme joys, the painful painful grief and depression.
I have learned that for me, it is best to listen, to own, to acknowledge what I'm feeling which makes it so very much easier to keep listening to what's going on inside.
It is not a burden to listen and to hear, to take in deeply the changes going on.

So it was with immense joy of recognition of knowing today that a perceptible shift had occurred.

A buoyancy, a lightness, a warm joy filled my being today. As warm as playing doll house with your favorite niece. And warmer still.

I kept checking in all day to see if it was still there, and in doing so, I'd feel it again and it would tickle me sweetly.

I briefly wanted to give it a reason.
I searched for any obvious changes, the shifting new spring light, my being asked to do some future speaking and work for pay opportunities, having just completed my taxes, playing my saxophone more....oh there must be SOMETHING external to account for the warm tickle, warm glow seeping through my pores. But no, it was something else.

I have concluded that it is all and nothing of these externals. And the nothing part is a something internal piece.

An internal, deeply internal, deeply felt realization that weekly now, for the past 5 plus months, I am experiencing a deep bliss, a deep joy even ectascy when I attend Shabbat services on Saturday mornings.
It is a familiar yet so much deeper feeling from that which I habitually felt when I would attend weekly Surat Shabd Satsangs in Cambridge or Brookline. Then I was in my late 20's, early 30's, working too many hours, as well as getting a Masters degree, and of course consumed with an emotional and love life filled with mostly turmoil.
Singing Bhajans with love and devotion with a room full of people sitting cross legged, knowing we were sisters and brothers united by our love for our Guru, for our meditation. I went weekly to soak up this loving energy.

I slept a good deal at those Satsangs.
But when I wasn't sleeping, I was overcome with an immense gratitude and love for the world and this aspect of my life.

Now at Saturday Shabbat services, I don't sleep.
It is almost two hours of a surge of joy, bliss, feeling the presence of G-d, being absorbed in love.
Being personally, deeply internally absorbed, tears streaming down my face almost constantly as I read and pray and chant along with...
with a room full of people who are my famiy. Who I like being around, who I am falling in love with. People who talk to me and listen. People who are real. I may be the only one with streaks of salt water making my face glisten, but I hear love sung and voiced. I listen to these strange yet so deeply familiar words and watch my progress of seeing and understanding what comes next in the service.
I love the words and melodies and ritual and hearing and discussing a written piece of Torah. I am appreciating the significance of the Torah. I am loving being taken back to a time and place that is part of a past that is mine. I love thinking about the past, how we lived, what we loved.
I love coming to comprehend that Creation is the Gift which is celebrated;
celebrate the Creation with a day of reflecting on how wonderful it is.

I am feeling blown away by what happens to me to my body to my soul when I sit, stand, bend my knees and bow, again sit on Saturday mornings. I'm watching this happen to me. I'm experiencing it. I'm totally loving it.


No kidding.

So, soon after this Saturday's service, driving home, feeling wonderful, I said to myself: hmmmmm, I get to experiience such a tremendous lift, loft of gratitude and love each week, hmmmmm that's truly marvelous. Hmmmmm, even if I expericnce my lonliness, my depression, my pining after my new love, my feeling about the loss of one or all of the four wonderful women from my life in five years (my sister, my wife, two extremely dear friends), hmmmmmm, even if I have hours of negativity....

Hell, being able to experience what I feel weekly, in services, is so amazing, so truly thrilling, that I need to focus on this; I need to understand that yes, there are lots of losses and pain that I feel...

But I feel a true shift in how I'm perceiving the state of my life. I am focusing more and more on the dozens of ways I am able to feel the presence of The Divine, of The Creator.
Of course at Shabbat service, but also often in my day.
By feeling The Creator, I feel and honor The Creation and
My life as part and parcel of This Creation.

My life being no more no less than a piece of the Whole.
Feeling Whole at Temple reminds me to feel it daily.
I had forgotten.

March 05, 2011

Reflections of Creation

My backyard is home to several citrus trees,
one of which is a tangerine;
Dancy or Fairchild variety
most likely,
but like the pound doggie I've just adopted
it can't tell me its origins.

The fruit is exquisitely ripe just now.

I have just picked two of these
beautiful orange orbs
sundrenched, warm to the touch
warm to the tongue
easy to peel
perfect slices of sweetness

perfect reflections of the perfection
of Creation.

March 03, 2011

Details of Living

You ask how I am
I say
"Good. I'm good."
Hear that you're not.
Not 100% physically.
I hear it in your voice
but you brave on
and ask me details confirming details
about friends of mine you barely know
whose existence and details
you've committed to memory.
Questions which keep you from talking
about you.

I don't tell you how I really am.

I don't tell you that I struggle daily
with my demons.
Those pieces of me that only want an end,
a way out, a resolution of the deep
I feel.

Those demons that would just as soon have me
onto the NEXT
the truly unknown.
The pieces which believe
nothing is new here
so why not just move on.

I give them traffic, a respectful due,
I listen and sometimes succumb to the deep emotion
they elicit.
Crying. Praying. Appreciating G-d
and finally reminding myself to
Fully Trust that peace will pervade my life.

And suddenly they're gone. Negativity is played out.
The duties of the day creep in.
I busy myself with some detail
and I see really see
appreciate the beauty of the day.
Tending to the details of living.

February 16, 2011

The Perfume of Valentine's Day Flowers

Valentine's Day flowers given to me
not by a lover, my spouse, even someone
wishing to be my lover
but by one of my dearest friends

Whom I speak with daily, who knows my
inner heart
mind and

Who honors me with words of appreciation,
love and more love

Who honors me by sharing his heart, mind and soul
the particulars of his life
who loves food as I do
and cooks
who loves music as I do
and listens.
Who shares my love of
the perfume of flowers
the fur of cats
the kiss of a woman.

Who loves Judaism as much as I do; more because
he has been a Jew much much longer than I.
Who trusts me with his life
and I mine to him.

What incredible fortune to have such a soul mate
such a help mate
to puzzle out these last years of our time here

from whom I receive Valentine's Day flowers.

January 28, 2011

A God Infused Time

My dear friend Laura passed.
I wrote this to her family.

There are no words for this time.
This is a sacred time.
God infuses all of your space
your being, your sense of reality.

This is a God infused time because
this is a time of
profound soul work.

Laura's soul work, as well as your own.

Be exquisitely gentle with yourselves.

I love you.

January 27, 2011

The Mundane Made Sacred

Each month, as I sit to clip my nails,
a necessary mundane act;
I have reason to Thank the Dead.

Not for the heady, kaleidoscopic
grandeur of their significance
to my life.

Not for their many profound gifts
which crept into my being, my cells,
my knowing of this Dear World
which formed and continues to
inform my daily thoughts and behaviors.

No, each month while performing this mundane act,
I have reason to give it sanctity, with
Their Remembrance,
and gratitude for their
simple, sturdy steel clippers
which I use.

January 20, 2011

How Do You Talk To A Dying One

Tonight I spoke with my friend Laura
who is dying
who has been dying gradually gracefully
these past seven years

with peaks and valleys of good sometimes better
days and nights
learning to know a body wracked by the devastation
of chemical cocktails brewed with the best intentions
by trusted physicians with license to dispense
patches, wholesale cellular slaughter and pain,
which forestalls, which forestalled for Laura,
the inevitable.

But hospice has been called in
those guardians of the dying
those brave souls who are not afraid to attend
and witness.

Tonight I told her the depth of my love for her.
I told her "I'm not sure this is OK for me to tell you,
but I want to tell you
I want you to know
before you become totally incapable of comprehension,
before the encephalopathy worsens,
I want you to know how terribly I will miss you."

And I asked if she had forgiven herself,
of everything, of nothing, of the specific thing,
of the little and big things
that we all regret and don't let go
sometimes till it's too late.

The act of forgiveness makes necessary
and heartfelt repentance
for some too human wrong
we failed to see at the time.

If needed, could she do this for her daughter,
and she said she yes, of course she could
forgive her daughter for anything
continue to love her....always.
Then can she also forgive herself.

And I asked if she had forgiven the others,
of everything, of the specific thing,
of the little and big things
the too human thing the almost inhuman things
that were done to her.

I could not settle asking about the weather
what she ate the particulars of how her body feels
the specifics of her day.

I had to ask the thing I would want asked of me
as I ready my soul for dying
as I grapple with my soul for living.

January 11, 2011

Grape Seeds 6,100 Years Old (N.Y. Times January 11, 2011)

Oh my, to live in a world where we can discover
grape seeds 6,100 years old.
Where we know with certainty that these grape seeds
are 6,100 years old.
To know that these seeds were part of the ancient
process of fermentation which produced wine
sacred wine.
To understand that wine was actually being produced
at least 1,300 years prior to the 6,100 year find,
to know that humans were altering their consciousness
7,400 years ago, and of course much much longer,
with grapes, with love, laughter, dance, song, music.

And the real miracle... these 6,100 year old seeds will be
planted in today's soil; will possibly sprout, grow, thrive
to produce grapes which we will make into wine
sacred wine.

January 10, 2011

The Elixir of Creation

An antidote to despair and hopelessness
exists in the magnificent evidence of
G-d's exquisite creation, which

always appears in the sky

as a setting sun
plain or brilliant, just its fact
evidences beauty

unsettled, vibrantly colored clouds
all shades of white, pink, orange, gray,
all manner of shapes, streaks, variation, forms

birds about to take flight, birds in flight
the arch of wing, the grace of intuitive motion

the eternal gloss of our moon
her daily perceptible changes

stars in or out of our mind created
formations, designations, constellations

the rainbow's glowing gay colors
now with my newly forming Jewish mind
showing Adonai's covenant with Noah,
with all humans

and the too infrequent shooting star
which always always leaves a trail of
awe and glee in hearts fortunate enough
to look.

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