Merry Eostre


So my dear and diverse readers in blogging land, I’m going to diverge from my normal protocol (well mostly) and stick my toe into the potentially controversial topic of religion.

Today as most of you know is Easter here in the US. And some of you may also know, because I have mentioned on my blog before, I am not Christian– although I do tend to be a very spiritual (and respectful) person. But there is one thing that I have found over the years perplexing (and maybe slightly tiresome) that I’m going to put out to you all.

Why do people–like almost everybody I bump into–feel compelled to wish me a Happy Easter and assume this has meaning to me? This has been going on for days leading up to today and each time I hear it, I just wonder what they think when they say it. Do they think that I too am Christian and celebrate this particular holiday or is it just something to say instead of: gee, it’s a nice day out?

To me it would seem the more appropriate thing to say might be: Do you celebrate Easter? And then this might open a conversation. Or they could even discuss their Easter plans and say: What a great day for Easter. Then it leaves the other person open to speak of their plans if they have any, or just listen if they don’t.

If someone is a completely different religion, say Jewish, wishing them a Happy Easter, is not particularly relevant to them. At Christmas time these phrases (Merry Christmas!!) happen too, although folks seem sometimes to be a bit more aware and sometimes offer a ‘Happy Holidays’ just in case.

I understand that people aren’t trying to be rude or anything, but it’s more about awareness of ones interactions with people and who they might be. Like the adage: don’t assume. Just because you believe something and it has meaning to you, doesn’t mean it does to someone else (even if it has meaning to a large population). It’s maybe not a big thing really. Just a small politeness. A tiny way to say: hey, I’m me, but maybe you’re you and it’s OK. We can all live here together with our own beliefs, traditions and truths. A way to keep trying to connect our world on a more individual level and not lump everyone into a category. Maybe if we tried this and took the time to get to know each person we met rather than treat them as a reflection of our own insecurities, there wouldn’t be so much hate and fear.

So what if I said to you: Merry Eostre. What would you say and how would you feel? Would you take the time it hear what it means to me? Or will you remain in your own story till the end…??

I hope you all had a wonderful, peaceful and blessed Sunday.

wpid-IMG_20130623_193618.jpg

Distant Shores


When I was a child, there was an ice-cream that I used to get from the truck that would come to the park near where I lived in NYC. It was the Good Humor truck, for those of you who might remember the familiar jingling of bells as it rolled slowly down the streets so the gathering children could get their 25 cents ready. This particular favorite of mine, was called an Eclair I think, because on the outside it had bits and pieces of nuts and maybe little pieces of chocolate; vanilla ice cream was the next layer which made up the largest part of the pop; but best and most special (and the best part) was the secret hunk of icy fudge-like chocolate inside. It wasn’t very big piece, but it was delicious (or so I recall) and had this particular texture that made it worth the wait.

wpid-20141114_080231.jpg

I was never a kid to just bite into the thing just to get to the middle. I would savor the whole thing to make it last and then take my time with the special part. Funny, because I never had much patience in life–but with treasures, I did. Just like how I never tore into Christmas gifts, but would open them throughout the day…(my kids hated this about me).

Someone who has known me for a long time, when I explained where I am  emotionally now and how I am conducting my day-to-day existence, said: that is not you at all! It gave me pause. What is me? Who am I really?

wpid-20141010_181316.jpg

I’ve run most my 60 years in a frenetic and unfocused way; making decisions based on how my mood was or the wind was blowing. It felt like I was making rational choices at the time, but in retrospect, I see now it wasn’t the case at all. Rather I was a sailboat buffeted by the winds trying desperately to steer to the nearest coast. Each shore looked better than the last, but upon reaching them they felt uninhabitable.

Of course this meant those around me were riding those waves too and often were cast overboard. Many drowned, but some found their own lifeboats and floated on to better beaches…thank goodness.

wpid-20150116_162513.jpg

It was nothing intentional. It just happened– it was the way I lived.But there was a part of me that knew it wasn’t working. Seeing the floundering of others hurt me, and my own inability to stand upright on this ever swelling craft was making me ill. At some point the ship must dock–in the deep recesses of my mind I knew this as truth.

So who is really me? I moved away from my comfort and have come to live in a place that is alien and barren to me, a desert devoid of water in which to sail. This was really unconscious on many levels, but I am starting to realize absolutely necessary to answer the question. Many spiritual treks to find ones true self include a time where one goes off on a quest: a solitary walk about or vision quest to discover what is real and what isn’t; what to keep and what to leave behind.

hut

We go through life rather like that Good Humor ice cream pop: multi-layered  with secret parts. Sometimes the secret parts are hidden to even to ourselves. There are bits and pieces we cover ourselves with that have rough edges or appeal, but it’s only the outside, a glamour…the part that faces the world at large. Dig deeper and maybe you will get to the soft part: it is white and can be colored by what we take in through the years we live. It protects the true gift: the sweet, central, secret core. This is the one we work for and may not know for years.

I’m stripping down the layers to find that me. I believe that is the real one, not the one that has faced the world so far. That was a mask I was unaware I wore. I believe my friend had it backward…what she knew was not me; what I am discovering now will be the real person I have had buried within. The visions of her were in my head longing to escape, but were trapped by my own shifting cage.

Someday she will be set free and sail for a place, heading into the sunrise.  Docking at some distant land, she will know with full awareness and clarity, that all will be good.

wpid-0804140538.jpg

 

The Best Life


wpid-20141207_092856_20141209132113512.jpg

While almost everyone I know is most likely surrounded by friends or family celebrating one holiday or another, I am home contemplating my life and current situation…by myself.

You see, I am search of a new job again because last Friday my manager informed that I was too slow at my tasks. Since it’s a holiday I won’t bore you with the details, because complaining is not what this post is about. Rather, it’s about life, goals and hopes.

When I had explained to one family member what happened, she had put the blame on me, as though I was somehow inadequate. That I am always finding fault in everything and can’t stay put. Of course, me being me, I immediately thought this was correct: that yes indeed I’m a failure and I blew it once again.

wpid-0820130617.jpg

But luckily, I spoke with two other people who were more understanding: My Mom and another dear and wonderful best friend, who put the record straight. They reminded me that the goal in life should be satisfaction, whatever the cost. If it means giving up little piddly jobs, then so be it. If it takes months and months to find the right one, then fine. Sometimes good things take sacrifice and soul-searching. These things aren’t always handed to us, and because of this they are all the more sweet.

Leaving my home in the North and coming here took lots of sacrifice and maybe there is more to be had in my future. To attain the best life, one must persevere and not just give up and settle. How often do we do this because we feel we must? We put up with crappy jobs or miserable relationships or live in awful conditions because we are too fearful or don’t feel we deserve something better. How easily I had been convinced it was my fault that these jobs didn’t work out?

wpid-20141113_080005.jpg

The world is changing in my opinion. Others don’t try as hard as I do because my expectations are high. In fact, they have always been higher than others. So therefore I often get dashed expectations. It’s painful, but when they are met, I am the luckiest person in the world. Do I lower them just because others can’t lift up to a place of caring and worth? I’m afraid not. I’ll deal with the pain and disappointment. If we have high expectations, then if we’re lucky maybe we’ll get to the middle of them; if we have lower ones, then where will we end up?

So this holiday season my gift is that I realized that it’s OK to aim for the best life and not feel guilty or ashamed. It may not be someone else’s idea of a ‘best life’, but it will be mine. I know what it is and what it will mean to me and hopefully someday this dream will come true!

wpid-20150217_213802.jpg

Memories….


 

wpid-20141212_075503.jpg

A quiet night here…just remembering holidays past. Snow and cold and kids. Nothing like that now.

wpid-20141206_174229.jpg

No warm fires, or decorations or happy voices…or mad wrapping…

wpid-20141127_084220.jpg

Nope, those days are long gone. And only memories to cherish as my Christmas gift. And thank goodness for those!

 

 

Maybe Next Year?


Here is about my only admission in my home that it’s the holidays. I opened my plastic carton that holds only a very minor portion of the decorations that I chose to keep. Then I closed it. No point really. I did the same thing last year. Doesn’t feel much like a holiday on multiple levels. And I won’t go into why…

The kids seen to agree… rather disinterested. 

Or bored with the whole idea anyway. 

Or far too busy doing more important things…like washing. 

Maybe next year???

Sorry I Just Had To…


I’m not usually very political on my blog, but it’s getting harder and harder not to be these days. I turn on the radio and listen for a few minutes and either get ill or have to turn it off. Every time I hear something to do with our president-elect (sorry but I will not give power to him by mentioning his name), and feelings of such sorrow come over me.

Today I heard a story on NPR where a Gay man was interviewed in Orlando. He is a prominent figure in that town and the reporter was recapping the Orlando massacre, how the city has handled it, how this man feels now in Orlando as a Gay man and as one in general.

wpid-20141016_180520.jpg

 

While he felt there has been an outpouring of support in the city, he said his biggest fear is in the future or this country’s attitude because of the election. Since the vote, he has experienced even more hate crimes and said there is more fear in the Gay community. My heart just sank. It doesn’t surprise me though….

The radio is just heavy with the news of death everywhere in the world: major world powers teetering on the edge of hate ready to explode, while others are in the thick of raging wars already. Innocent people trapped between warring extremes desperate to escape somewhere, anywhere safe.

And now so many places, including potentially our country, shutting our doors to these people. It sickens me. Our fellow humans! What is the difference from them and the Jews in Germany? Nothing! Since when have we become so narrow? Why is there so much hate in people’s hearts now? Hate against anyone different… But the sad irony is: we are all the same!!!

Cut us open: we all bleed, break down our cells, we all share the same DNA; hurt us, we all cry; we all have the same bodies, bones, skin, brain. It is crazy to me that some people look at cultural differences, or skin colors, gender orientations and to kill over these things? I mean, seriously: think about this….

When will we all just think about ourselves as HUMANS?

wpid-IMG_20130424_063208.jpg

All the chatter about Christmas…does anyone remember the first five letters in that word? What would He say about this behavior? Hey, I’m not even Christian, and I know!

wpid-0615141238.jpg

 

Maybe I will be wrong about this all and He-he-who-will-remain-nameless will get his act together and not start another world war. Maybe he will realize you can’t keep opening up your yap all the time and say the first thing that comes out of it just because you feel like it. Maybe congress will actually do something smart for once and realize what a blessed mess we’re in and hopefully not undo so many of the decent things that are in place just to show they can.

Any maybe Santa is real too…

wpid-20141213_151042_20141219122725236.jpg

 

Christmas 2015


As I lay in the heat of my tropical bed last night, listening for the jingling of Santa’s reindeer–I thought about how I just couldn’t get into the Christmas spirit this year. Not physically anyway. It just didn’t feel right somehow to drag what little I brought with me, and garnish my apartment, only to look out and see palm trees and feel 80 degree weather. Nope, does not compute as we used to say… The only thing that looks remotely “Christmas” are some cards sent to me that I did decide to put out.

wpid-20141206_174229.jpg
Christmas past

So I thought about what defined this particular holiday for me, especially since I’m not Christian. I certainly have celebrated it, along with the other teeming throngs of stressed-out Americans. So I started to make a list, a list of what was missing this year that made it feel all wrong and why I simply let it slip by instead:

wpid-20141213_151042_20141219122725236.jpg

  • The mad wrapping of presents for my daughters, both as kids and when they were older, both with and without a husband.
  • My famous stocking stuffers, (which always included a whoopee cushion), each one wrapped and sometimes filled 3 stockings a piece.
  • A morning run or walk in the cold, maybe with snow–other neighbors bundled or shoveling.
  • Endless Christmas music in the stores.
  • Santa everywhere you went.
  • My friends.
  • Sending and receiving special gifts (money was tight this year).
  • Hearing The Messiah being performed.
  • Seeing The Nutcracker with my daughter.
  • Children everywhere.
  • The warmth of my home on a winter’s day.
  • Either a day off or filling in for someone with small kids.
  • The knowing that spring will eventually come.

These are some that were missing.

wpid-20141127_084220.jpg
My wonderful home

I went for my walk here on Christmas day. It was strangely quiet. I imagined everyone inside with their families. It made me think about this global thing that happens today. It’s really quite amazing when you think about it. Everyone, everywhere doing the same thing.

wpid-20150215_083322.jpg

Imagine if people could put that energy, the money spent, toward other things? Say even half of it. If there was a day, like Christmas, where the whole world concentrated on world hunger, or world peace, or global warming or violence against women or racism. If everyone took the energy they take preparing for this holiday, took the money they spend on it and put it towards one of these things…? What if….??

Do you think Jesus would mind?

wpid-0615141238.jpg

Sunday’s Visit


image

Moving to a new place can be a lonely proposition. While I’m an introverted person, that does not mean I don’t like the occasional chat with a like-minded person, or something to do now and again. Having no job yet can leave a person like me (usually someone who likes to stay very busy) quite bored.

So on one of my walks the other morning, I had an epiphany and realized that it might be a great idea to visit the local Unitarian Universalist Church. I figured there had to be one in this area being a pretty culturally diverse and fairly liberal area.

Sure enough, when I got to the library, I googled UU churches in my area and happily I found one quite close to my house. Searching the website, I even found a sermon from the prior week and discovered that the minister, whose name is Harris, happens to be a woman! Who knew? That’s fine with me too. 🙂 Finding what she had to say worth hearing and hoping the people there were welcoming and warm, I looked forward to a visit today.

In my past, my UU Church was where some of best friends were found. I was much younger and visited with a friend, but it was a place of peace, acceptance and action. It was where I realized my true sense of spirituality and branched off with some special women into our own women’s group which we called Chrysalis. Because of this group, the Goddess sings within me still.

At first the idea of a ‘church’ was odd and uncomfortable to me since my Mother was Jewish and she had always hammered into me that I was too. We celebrated some Jewish holidays growing up when we were still around my Mother’s family, but since my step Dad was a WASP, we also had a Christmas tree and all the trimmings (which I liked better). For me, I never embraced either religion.

It wasn’t until the basement of the UU Church and my special women’s group that I began to know where my spirit flew. It was feminine, earthy, all-encompassing, magic and joyful. I was finally home.

I tried the UU Church in New England where I recently lived, but that one did not resonate with me and didn’t have a space for my special spirituality. It met in a real ‘church’ and we sat in pews, so unlike my old one from long ago. Plus, while some of the folks there were lovely, most just weren’t my people.

Walking into the building today, while it gave me sense of trepidation, it also felt like deja vu once I walked into the sanctuary. It was not as big as the one I used to attend, but was bright, with windows, modern and with comfortable chairs. People immediately came up to me and began to introduce themselves and ask after me. During the service new people were asked to stand and say who we were. There was a peace in the ‘sameness’ of the service, so like others I’ve attended.

It seems like the welcoming community that it’s suppose to be, there are many committees, groups, young people, older people, kids and the sermon was something worth hearing. I was invited for the lunch after, but didn’t stay. My introverted nature reached its burnout point and I needed to head home.

But I will definitely return next week. And I hope, eventually, it will feel more comfortable to me. That I too, will eventually find friends there and be a part of this community.

image