Three Years On: Finding the Thank You

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Chunks of time roll by without me even thinking to say thank you, without me remembering or acknowledging the gift of three years ago. Yet, back then, when I was in the rush of the moment and felt the awareness of G-d and gratitude so deeply, my intention was to fill my life with this. And yet, daily life happens, triggers surface, other stuff takes center stage, and things get taken for granted. But right now, on the anniversary of my daughter’s heart surgery, I pause my complacency, and go within to find my place of gratitude, where I still aspire to live from.

Rewind. My two-and-a-half year old is scheduled for open heart surgery and in my heart and mind there is so much at stake. Though we are at peace with our decision to go ahead and are placing her in the hands of the best surgeon in the world for a surgery that’s supposed to be somewhat “straightforward”, there is the fear of one wrong move, and the fear of the unknown: how will she react to surgery and all that it entails? We are scared. Scared of the letting go, and scared by the little details that we have certain control over leading up, like getting her to fast. Fruit is her morning elixir, her coffee, and I simply cannot fathom how I will bypass our routine. Somehow we do.

And then it is the day, and I observe that we are en route to the hospital. It’s summer in Boston and early morning, my favorite time of day when the air is crisp and smells of vitality and possibility. We arrive, and stop at the hospital fish tank for her to marvel at the colors and patterns. For the next few days, we too are going to be living in somewhat of a tank; a bubble in time and space.

We go up and wait. I’d had my own bad experience with anesthesia as a child, with the associated loss of control, and I hope for her it will be smooth. We are very present, more than usual, drinking up the last few seconds with her before she gets wheeled away. She is chatting away and moving around, as always, as she converts the head of the hospital bed into her slide. “Will she ever be able to do this again? Will she retain her character and curiosity and innocence? Are they really about to wheel her away and cut her chest open? Is this happening?”

And then they do. She is in their hands. She is in the hands of G-d, as always, but now we feel this truth acutely. In the waiting room, I look out the big windows at the world that is beginning another “usual” day. But here inside, so many very different outcomes await so many very different people. A collective holding of breath takes place in this place, where people are privy to perspective on life, where they are not distracted by the non-truths many times we choose to focus on.

Before we know it, we are looking into the kind face of the surgeon, who comes out to let us know how it went. Thank G-d, well. We are on the other side.

The other side is a journey itself, from watching her turn blue as they pull her off life support later that same day, to keeping fully on top of her medication doses and vital signs, to just lying and being with her, to playing in the magical hospital playroom. We are blessed with nurses that are both professional and human, and the smoothest of experiences. Thank G-d, within days, we are in a cab out of there.

Fast forward three years. It is the anniversary itself, and we are heading to the beach to celebrate, a life affirming activity I think. But even on the day, I find myself frustrated by the length of our journey and various details around it and still find myself weighed down by the responsibility for my daughter’s well-being, as if it is in my hands, as if it ever was. I am impatient. I am not present. I am aware I am impatient and not present. I judge myself.

But later in the day as she sits facing forward on my lap on the train and we watch the fields roll by together, I say to her with feeling and conviction how much I love her. And, as I kiss her head and hold her tight, I let tears flow silently and steadfastly down my cheeks. Tears of appreciation, tears of love, tears of awe, tears of fears of not being a good enough mom and tears for not appreciating as I once resolved.

Oh, the challenge of life. We experience events that we take for granted instead of allowing them to infuse our lives with perspective and meaning. For example, I think about the many times I didn’t knock someone over while driving carelessly. I don’t even think about this, let alone hold it in my mind’s eye and mutter thank you and thank you again, especially when I find myself pre-occupying over things that don’t really count, when you get down to it.

I am sorry for the missed opportunities to live in constant gratitude since the surgery, but now is where I have power. When I catch myself feeling sorry for myself, or weighed down by life, as is inevitable, I intend to hone in the surgery, and choose to accept and absorb the valuable gifts within. I will mutter thank you and thank you again, and appreciate my daughter’s life anew, and life as a whole. Everything is okay (perfect, really). Thank you.

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Eyes Just Ahead

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Last week I reminded myself of a part of me long forgotten.

Suffering from an inflamed gum in my mouth after dental surgery, and weighing up my options, I decided to try a fruit and vegetable juice fast in order to try help heal the area. The rationale of the naturopath I work with was to give my body a chance to rest and to use the energy it would have spent on digestion on healing instead.

Now, let me make this clear. I love eating and I love food, and I am not a good faster. I dread religious fasts and feel so much relief and gratitude when they are behind me. So this suggestion was met with strong resistance.

She suggested a five day plan, which I felt was not possible, considering the amount of things I had on the go that week. Part of me insisted that if I could not do it all, it was worthless and I may as well not even do a little bit. An evident “all or nothing” approach. But, for a change I ignored that voice. In other words, I outsmarted myself and I started. I said to myself I would start with just a day or two and see how it goes.

After day one, I wanted to give up. I felt weak, depleted and exhausted. Another voice of fear piped up that perhaps this was dangerous despite the vast quantity of water and juices I was drinking! Instead of buying into that voice too much, I put myself to bed and resolved to see how I felt in the morning; whether I could do just one more day.

The next day was also grueling but after enjoying my well earned hot onion broth for dinner, after surviving my mid-afternoon low point, I said to myself why not try just one more day? I didn’t pay too much attention to the voice that piped up that this was extreme and why can’t I be more like everyone? No, instead, I kept my eyes focused firmly on my “one more day” goal, and surprisingly by the next day, I started to feel a bit better. There were a handful of rough moments within the day, but at times I even felt light, energized and exhilarated! By the next day, I felt more vibrant and clearer and since I had come so far, I thought I may as well try one more day. Until the next, when I consciously broke my fast in order to accustom my body to food before Shabbat. In other words, I did it.

Victory. I found myself on the other side, with a healing gum, thank G-d, and a sense of accomplishment. I did it. I did the seemingly impossible.

And thinking about it all now, I am reminded of a little girl who won a little 4 kilometer marathon race two years in a row when I was around 10 or 11. Reminded of the strategy and mind games I played with myself back then. Starting slow, not wearing myself out too quickly despite the temptation, slowly overtaking people in front of me, one by one, until I let myself increase in speed toward the end, keeping my head down and my eyes on a goal just ahead of me, and then moving the goal. All the way till the end.

You see, I had forgotten about this girl, this part of me. These days, the voice the runs the show, is the one that tried to get me to not even attempt the fast. Or, the scared voice that insisted this was not healthy or the name-calling critical voice.

So the victory here is twofold. One: I did it. I actually drank fruit and vegetable juice for 4/5 days! I filled my body with life-giving organic juices brimming with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I gained a sense of my own strength, empowerment and capability: of being able to be in control of my body and not the other way round.

(Note: I am so grateful that I have access to fresh fruit and vegetables and for the juicer we bought more than a decade ago that is still doing it’s thing.) 

And two, I did not give power to the voices trying to derail me. I filled my mind and heart with the voice of a true fan: “You can do it.” “Nearly there.” “Don’t look up just yet.” “I so believe in you.”

I am also so happy that this voice popped up its head at this time. I am reminded how possible and powerful it is to feed ourselves constructive, healthy, positive thoughts. When we do, anything is possible.

Disclaimer: Anyone wanted to attempt a juice fast or any fast for health reasons, should consult with their physician first.

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Can You Love Me Today?

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I lie here under the covers though over there, just outside my bedroom window, the day is sunny and goes on as usual. My body is weary and motionless, though my mind is moving quickly and frantically; almost in a quest to make up for my body. I am running through criticisms in my mind; which one suits my behavior most: pathetic, unproductive, indulgent, weak, irresponsible? These words tear at me as I long instead for comfort and validation. I try to bring in a kinder and wiser voice citing the importance of listening to my body. Tug of war ensues; an all too familiar tug of war.

So I summon all my strength and manage to shove that critical voice down the stairs, positioning it outside the coat cupboard and bathroom. And, I tried to bring in words of care, comfort and compassion even as that harsh voice keeps shouting out its words from below.

Just the separation is a victory allowing me to witness the voice and the fear and cruelty that runs it. Fear: it simply does not want me to land up not accomplishing anything in this lifetime and lying in bed in broad daylight reminds this voice of someone I do not want to be. Cruelty: I am fighting infection in my mouth after major dental surgery and am wiped out. I am being attacked for my infallibility.

In this moment I realize yet again that my self-love and self-worth are so conditional; so tied up with what I do, what I accomplish in my day. Yesterday I was able to love myself more easily.

So I roll over onto my side and think I’ll try talking to G-d, to go on up high. And I say: “G-d, can you love me, right now, as I lie here in bed?” I feel like a little child turning to a genuinely loving father. And in that moment, I imagine the love and compassion I would feel if I saw my “grown” child lying before me in a tormented heap. G-d surely loves me, I think, as I break down crying. He doesn’t love me for what I do, he loves me. He loves my essence: beyond both the good and bad that I do. Fulfilling my mission and contributing to the world are important but G-d’s love for me is not dependent on it, and neither should my love for myself be either.

In this week’s parsha Tetzaveh Moses’s name does not appear but according to the Lubavitcher Rebbe his presence and quintessential self is felt even more so. In fact, the entire parsha is made up of G-ds words to Moses with the word “you” used instead of his name. The Rebbe explains that a person’s name is a more superficial handle of personality, but in the parsha Moses is present in a deeper more essential way than any name could possibly capture.

After the Jew’s sin of the Golden Calf, Moses pleaded with G-d for forgiveness, even asking that his name be removed from the Torah if G-d does not forgive the Jewish people. Moses wished to invoke the essential bond between himself and his people and thereby between G-d and His people, which even transcends Torah and the Jews’ fulfillment of it. Though G-d had given a job to the Jewish people, Moses is asking G-d to take a step back, to relate to them beyond the job description given to them. He is asking that G-d forgive them for the sake of their bond.

In my case, crying out to G-d and feeling his obvious overwhelming love for me gave me new perspective and allowed me to ease a little. It helped me to come a little closer to loving myself – no matter what – and accepting myself and my limitations. I am passionate about doing and about my mission. But my prayer is that just as Moses invoked the deeper bond that goes beyond, so too I can invoke the deeper bond with myself that transcends anything I could possibly ever do. That just as G-d loves me, I can love myself too.

Note: Torah insights taken from Chana Weisberg’s audio shiur “Losing Yourself to Find Yourself” on chabad.org

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Sitting on the Keys

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There is a searing hole inside of me that I now really realize only I can repair. All of my life I have walked around with this hole patching it up temporarily through validation from the outside but nothing or nobody could ever fill it for more than a little while.

Yes, I glowed during the temporary high of someone falling for me, or an exhilarating rush of success, but soon enough I was left feeling empty and alone. I tried to fill up with food, or attempts at perfection in various areas, but it never worked and I was always left feeling not good enough. This theme played itself out in every area of my life, as it does.

Recently, grappling heads-on with a relationship where I feel judged, claustrophobic and unappreciated; I got the strong sense that nothing I could possibly do would ever be enough. I felt myself gasp for breath as I stumbled about trying to prove myself; going beyond what I was able to do. I foresaw that I would never experience peace at just doing my best, and that all the doing in the world would only ever be futile.

But a friend reminded me that what this other person actually thinks is unknown and irrelevant but what is important are the feelings going on for me. When I let myself feel the feeling, tears sit strongly behind my eyes, and an empty hole pierces my chest. I see a little girl, peering out from behind the curtains, watching her brothers go away with her dad for the weekends and get spoiled, while she remained behind. She felt tainted and different and unworthy.

That little girl inside of me is still riding on those mistaken beliefs. Though the adult me is certain I was excluded due to practical and messy divorce matters, and due to the limitations of the people concerned, this little girl lives with this hole and only I can fill it and choose to love her, aka myself, unconditionally and genuinely with my whole heart.

It’s really quite amazing; an example of how we live our lives as if in prison yet we possess the keys to get out. So many times, we long for others to love, treasure and appreciate us. But we need to do that for ourselves.

So, I tried this exercise: writing out all the things I want x to think of me and to do for me. Examples: “I want x to love me”. “I want x to see the best in me.” “I want x to truly be my fan.” “I want x to make me feel safe.”

And I changed x to me: “I want me to love me”. “I want me to see the best in me.” “I want me to truly be my fan.” “I want me to make me feel safe.”

And then a step further, I turned them into affirmations. “I love myself.” “I see the best in me.” “I am truly my fan.” “I make me feel safe.”

Such relief to hear these revised statements. How freeing and empowering to know that we complete ourselves. How important too, for how can we possibly love and be compassionate to another if we cannot love and care for ourselves first?

And so, operation fix the hole is in progress. The little girl is still weary that the deriding voice that insists she is not good enough is in fact the one of truth, but more and more, the wise and compassionate part of me is at the reigns – listening to the little girl, empathizing with her, reassuring her, and making it better.

I think that we all have some kind of hole – some kind of pain, that only we can heal. My prayer is that we do so, and that through healing our individual holes, we help heal the whole world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What My Fruit Diet Taught Me

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I have always loved fruit. I remember being filled with delight and excitement when the fruit truck would arrive outside our house in South Africa, filled with boxes of the most luscious African fruits of the season: many varieties of sweet mangoes, firm and juicy lychees, sweet and firm seedless grapes. Or, I would simply love going with my mom to the fruit store and having a sticky fruit feast in the car on the way home.

And today, I still get excited by fruit, and can eat copious amounts, which would be fabulous if I didn’t value self-discipline, or if eating fruit at my whim actually worked for my body.

I still get excited by fruit

So, I decided to visit a renowned raw-food healer and see what she thought about my passion for fruit. One of the things she is big on is food combining and eating certain foods at certain times of the day. According to her, fruit is amazing, but only for breakfast, and only between seven and nine in the morning. A precious two-hour period to get my fill of fruit for the entire day.

Now, this two-hour period happens to coincide with getting my daughters ready for preschool and getting them out the house, which doesn’t leave much time for the focused eating of fruit that I dream about before bed. But still, I find moments to sit down and savor some delicious fruit.

If you catch me on a bad day, I am a little grumpy about this whole meal plan. I find myself thinking how extreme it is. What’s so bad about snacking on a piece of fruit? I think. Or, It’s 9:15 a.m., what’s the big deal? But, catch me on a good day, and this two-hour block of time is a revelation. My digestion feels better. I am eating bigger meals, and more vegetables later in the day, and I feel lighter. But most of all, setting aside time for a fruit meal (which can include shakes, nuts, seeds, nut milk and any version of fruit I desire) allows me to really relish and appreciate fruit in a way that I have never done before. I am excited to get out of bed and even when I am awakened while it is still dark outside, my fruit meal is a sweet little surprise that awaits me.

This got me thinking about certain aspects of Jewish life, like Shabbat. Having times when certain activities are not allowed is a real gift. For example, my 4-year-old daughter loves drawing, and I explain to her how special it is to be able to look forward to drawing after Shabbat is over, and how she may not love it quite as much if she were allowed to draw any time, all the time. Although there are people who are careful not to leave children with a negative feel for Shabbat, I think she gets my point, and I see it as an important lesson. Of course, I also make sure she gets to enjoy special things only on Shabbat, like treats and ice-cream that she loves, so she looks forward to Shabbat and is left with a sweet taste.

Having times when certain activities are not allowed is a real gift

I think, also, how amazing the Torahis in that it builds into the Jewish calendar all kinds of anticipation: the bride and groom not seeing each other in the week preceding their wedding; abstaining from bread and leavened foods for the eight days of Passover; husband and wife following the laws of taharat hamishpacha (family purity); waiting for the special clothes and treats that are set aside just for Shabbat.

I think of King Solomon’s wise words: “Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.” There is something so special about everything having its proper time and place.

So, back to the fruit situation. I know there are a million-and-one dietary theories that contradict each other. I know that each person’s body and needs are unique, and believe that this recommendation is not necessarily the way for everybody. But for now, I have to say, this two-hour fruit thing is good for me and is teaching me quite a lot. And anyway, there are only 21.5 hours until my next bite of fruit.

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Finding G-d

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I believe in G‑d. Even before I became Torah observant, I felt His hand dancing through the events of my life. I saw purpose behind both the good and the bad, the happy and the painful. Even though I didn’t name it at the time, I had emunah (faith)“an innate conviction, a perception of truth that transcends, rather than evades, reason.”1

“It was meant to be,” I would relate time and again to a very close friend, who is one of the smartest people I know, as well as a non-believer. She works in a hospital in Africa, saving lives, and try as she may, her intellect and emotions have not led her to this same belief. She puts things down to chance and luck, whereas I see things as purposeful and part of a bigger picture.

Is that because of our respective natures or the books we read growing up? Is it because one of us is more attuned to truth and gets it right, while the other is wrong? If I’d been exposed to the same tragedy, as well as hope, in that rickety hospital, would I still believe in G‑d? And, if I had lived through bitter times like the Holocaust, would I have emerged an empty shell with nothing to cling to, or with a firm, transcendent, superhuman faith? These are some of my questions, and I simply do not know.

What I do know is that I do believe. But when I’m in the trenches of my daily struggles, I lose sight of my belief in an ever-present G‑d. Like when I erroneously act as though my children’s well-being rests entirely on my shoulders, or when I find myself in an elevator that is not moving after having been stuck too many times. When the world “closes” in on me, I hold my breath, rather than hold my belief. And as I apprehensively walk the streets of Jerusalem, I cling more to my Mace than to my faith. Fear overtakes me, and I feel alone. I feel the burden of being “in control.”

When I find “safety” and allow myself to catch my breath, I see that this way of being is not only unhealthy, but is contradictory to the bitachonthat a Jew is supposed to live with. “Bitachon is generally translated as ‘trust’ and is a sense of optimism and confidence based not on reason or experience, but on emunah. You know that ‘G‑d is good and He’s the only one in charge,’ and therefore you have no fears or frets.”2 Sure, we have to do our hishtadlut (effort) and act sensibly, but there is nothing but G‑d. “And the main thing is to have no fear at all,” says RebbeNachman of Breslov. I realize that I cannot control my destiny, but I can work on my emunah and bitachon.

These reminders bring relief, but it is an ongoing battle. I want so badly to trust G‑d in every area of my life, in the moment. It’s so hard, but it is everything.

I sit in the doctor’s waiting room, watching a terror attack on the TV. I feel vulnerable and consider leaving, but instead mutter to myself, “G‑d, are you there?” I realize I am not alone, and I find respite. The elevator? I get on most times, though my heart inevitably stops at some point on the ride. I don’t always sense G‑d in that moment, but I know I’ll feel that G‑d was right there with me when I look back. As I write this piece, I feel better. But then I leave to fetch my daughter at preschool, which has no security guard due to lack of funds, and I feel unsettled. “G‑d, you are there right? My larger-than-life little girl has a destiny that is beyond my ability to protect. G‑d, please keep her and all innocent people everywhere safe.”

The battle continues. “Emunah grows taller and deeper as you accustom yourself to see all the phenomena of life as manifestations of the Creator’s presence and glory.”

I hope and pray that we are all able to see G‑d when we look back at every detail of our lives. And that we find G‑d in the moment, too.

 

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Do I Say My Piece or Take the High Road?

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Also featured on Chabad.org

Growing up, I watched a dear person in my life hold back from saying her piece and instead carry unexpressed energy in her body. She repeatedly considered, “What if I did things differently? What if I had spoken up?” As a result, I decided I would always say my piece and never let anyone treat me badly. I would not hold things in and be walked all over. I would be proactive and direct.

Fast forward a few decades. Now, I am considering that this is not always the highest road.

It’s a revelation for me. I’m learningI would be proactive and directthat there may be a time to not retort to a hurtful comment, especially when the person lashing out is not able to hear or digest the response. My aim is rather to feel the awakened pain within without running away from it. To transform my ego in the process, and thus strengthen myself. And to send love and compassion back to the person who did the hurting. If we were all living in balance and truth, we would not feel the need to hurt or judge or break people down rather than build them up.

For example, the other day someone said something that implied I was stupid. I felt struck as if by a dart; I was stunned as it stung. That thoughtless comment sent me whirling back to the source of the sting, to another time and place when I was very little. As I came back to the moment, a sarcastic retort came to mind—while another, wiser voice within urged me to be quiet and to simply take it. The tug-of-war began. My ego became defensive and aggressive, but the wiser voice insisted that I take a step back and allow myself to feel the emotion within.

So I did just that. I walked away, went to a comforting space, and took out my writing portfolio for some validation, which made me smile. And then I let myself cry.

I looked in the mirror and told myself I was great. That in some areas I might be considered “stupid,” yes, but that it was in fact a gift from G‑d. For if I was versed in everything, I wouldn’t be as clear on the direction of my mission in this world. When I calmed down, I began to see how the person who said the comment in question may have an inferiority complex of his own, and that it was actually irrelevant if he found me stupid.

This is not easy work for me. I have a fierce ego, and a need to be right and appreciated. For the most part I don’t laugh easily at the presence of my flaws, and I am a perfectionist. I bask in external validation. What an ego!

But my aim is to love myself unconditionally, so much so that I can take whatever comes at me from the outside. My aim is to laugh at myself more. So that if a dart should come my way, like the one that once pierced my insides, it will have no place to stick, My aim is to love myself unconditionallyand will fall to the floor weakly. The dart can in fact serve as a gift, a reminder to love myself more and a reminder to focus on being the best unique me I can be.

On a greater level, if more of us have the intention to love ourselves and be the best partner, friend, relative, community member and nation member we can be, then if anyone or anything seeks to undermine us, we will be enlightened and strong and amazing and untouchable. And the dart will fall to the floor.

Disclaimer: There are times when it is absolutely necessary and appropriate to speak up. For example, if someone says something hurtful about someone vulnerable or unable to speak up for himself, or does something that can lead to adverse safety or health consequences. Or if you are confident that your carefully chosen words could make a difference to the way the person does things going forward.

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The Lies we Tell Ourselves

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That what we think, say and do does not make a difference to the world.

That it’s okay to do something as long as nobody gets hurt in the process.

That we are better than them.

That we are open minded and not mere by-products of what we have ever been exposed to.

That everything is what it seems.

That we are invincible.

That fear and adrenaline keeps us safe.

That there is no other side to the story.

That something is for certain.

That we are not good enough.

That one small step in the right direction is a waste of time.

That we can’t stop for a second.

That we should not dream big.

That we do not have choice.

That what we expect is what we will get.

That the grass is greener on the other side.

That every breath is not an amazing gift.

That we are not unbelievably blessed to be alive.

That we are in control.

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No Place to Stick

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Growing up, I valued the idea of saying your piece. To not hold things in and be walked all over, but to defend yourself if need be and not let anybody treat you badly. This was a result of watching someone in my life not speak their mind and instead carry the unexpressed energy in their body, as they repeatedly considered “what if I did things differently? What if I had spoken up”. I learnt from that, that we always must be proactive and direct in the moment. Say your piece and never let anyone treat you badly.

Fast forward a few decades. I am realizing that the highest road is not always that road. That there may be a time to just suck up a hurtful comment and not retort with anything, especially in a case when the person lashing out is not able to hear or digest your response. My aim is to feel the awakened pain within without running away from it. To transform my ego in the process and thus make myself really strong. And to send love back to the person who did the hurting. Let it belong to them. If we were all living in balance and truth, we would not feel the need to hurt or judge or break people down rather than build them up.

This is not easy work for me. I have a fierce ego and a need to be right and appreciated. For the most part, I don’t laugh easily at the presence of my flaws and I am a perfectionist.

Though there may be a time when it will be appropriate or even necessary to say my piece as I once would have, for the most part my aim is to love myself and laugh at myself more. So that if a dart should come my way, like the one that once pierced my insides, it will have no place to stick to and will fall to the floor weakly. I want the focus to be on being all I can be.

On a bigger level, if I can be all I can be as a partner, friend, relative, community member and nation member, and more of us have that intention in mind, then if anyone or anything seeks to undermine us, we will be amazing and we will be untouchable. So too, their dart will fall to the floor.

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Right Side Up

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We live in a broken and upside down world. Suddenly, my personal sense of safety feels more under threat and I am reminded of this. Even when all is “well” for me, there are many millions of people living in suffering in conflict and war and poverty beyond my bubble. What can help?

One thing: we have to know who we are and what our thing is, and focus on that. The rest belongs to someone else.

For example, I can use my way with words and write, even if it stirs just one heart.  But, work in a hospital? Me? No; it is not my thing. I leave that to someone else.  I leave that to someone else so I can be free to write and bring light and truth into the world through that. I learnt this lesson a while back when I muddled about trying to do a kindness that was not right for me and I found myself too undone to do anything for anybody.

I have to work at being the best me within my current realm of free choice. Only I know where I can do better.  Only I know that I could have exercised more discipline and held that remark back about someone else. I could have refrained from bargaining with that vendor who probably needs the money. My consciousness knows that there are more important things than getting a good deal. I can give to charity with a lighter heart, because really it could be me on the other side, and I am blessed right now to be on this side of giving. This is where my area of influence lies, how I can make the world a bit sweeter in small and big, direct and indirect ways.

As we all go about fixing our piece of this world, and do our thing with love and vigor, perhaps the world be turned right side up?

May we remember our shared humanity always. May all of our basic needs be met and may we be safe.

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