Search This Blog

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Putting it out there and asking for help!

I'm trying to open myself up to what the universe has to offer, and I decided to start a small campaign on FundRazr to help me get a new car. I want to be optimistic that I can reach my goal, but the real point is to see what happens.

I give to Kiva regularly, along with other charities, so maybe the universe has something in store for me.

If you can't help, just tweet and retweet.


Monday, October 17, 2011

To stand where Moses stood...

Decided to come back to reading the Torah since my life has been so topsy-turvy lately. Good news: I mended the fences with my friend. Bad news: my car stopped working and isn't worth fixing. What's worse...unless the universe smiles upon me with mystery money, I will be without a car for a month.

After I read this week's parsha, I couldn't really think about what it meant to me, but after getting started on this post and reflecting on the g-dcast video from youtube, I have a couple ideas.

First off, I need to resurrect my ability to keep "the long view" in mind. If I am so blessed, it will not matter 50 years from now that I was really hurt by a friend's unconscious words, that I didn't have a car for a month, and had to inconvenience my friends and relatives for rides. I will remember that I was able to forgive and to apologize, and that people were there for me when I needed them.

Things that will matter to me 50 years from now (when I would be about to turn 82, G-d willing):
1.) Did I conquer my fear of singing?
2.) Did I find someone to share my life with?
3.) Do I have a good relationship with my family?
4.) Did I plan well enough to meet my basic needs?
5.) Did I finally learn how to keep my room/car tidy? (If I don't have a cleaning lady by then..)

Reading the account of Moses' death really put my problems into a proper perspective. It still shocks me how a backsliding Agnostic like myself is finding so many worthwhile passages in the Bible (as well as the troubling ones I already knew about.) The jury is still out with me as far as how literal the Torah/Bible is, but I felt touched by the words,
"Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses--whom the LORD singled out, face to face, for the various signs and portents that the LORD sent him to display in the land of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 34:10-11)

I feel as though so many people I know want to have grand, remarkable lives, especially people I tend to spend the most time with. (Myself included.) Of course, no one strives and hopes for the unremarkable, but along the way, so many give up, or are so focused on the unrealistic goal of being a wealthy celebrity that they lose the focus they needed to actually achieve something remarkable.

I'm beginning to think about what makes for a remarkable life, in my eyes. Although I don't expect to see G-d face to face, as Moses did, I hope to be a person who learned to be conscious of my actions, without being hindered by self-consciousness. Like Moses, I hope to have a long and healthy life. Like Moses, I want to deliver people from bondage, but in more figurative ways, such as kids like me who were bullied and teased, and adults like me who learned not to let their light shine bright, but instead to install a dimmer switch.

I feel optimistic that elevating my consciousness and listening to my inner voice will lead me where I need to go. Reading the Torah, I've learned, won't hurt either. I hope that I live my life with constant awareness that one day I will stand on my own Mount Nebo, and that I cast aside petty disputes, rise above trivial annoyances, and find the strength to fight the true battles that need to be fought.

That might be the key to a remarkable life.

Here's the video that got me thinking . . .

Friday, October 14, 2011

Becoming what I believe . . .

Went to the library, checked out the following:

The Fabulous Sylvester by Joshua Gamson
Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan by Leslie Gourse (reading for the second time)
These are the Words: A Vocabulary of Jewish Spiritual Life
by Arthur Green
Jazz Singers: The great song stylists in their own words edited by Paul Roland

That seems like quite a lot to read before the due date, but I read the Sarah Vaughan biography over a weekend a couple of years ago.

I'm trying to follow Oprah's mantra, "You become what you believe." So if I fill my head and heart with Judaism and music, maybe in a few years I'll be a Jewish jazz singer.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trapped in the life of another

I was watching Oprah's Lifeclass last night and one of the last questions asked was by an audience member who felt trapped inside someone else's life.

I'm not sure I could have articulated that question myself because emotionally I was stuck somewhere else, but in the instant I heard it, I was stopped in my tracks.

I've been in this situation before. I don't say no when I need to. I suffer from the need to be a good friend, even to be point when inconvenience turns into trapped.

In many ways I'm thankful for my mother always teaching me that helping someone may not always be convenient. Emergencies aren't scheduled, calenders aren't synced between people in need and people who can help. The problem is drawing the line.

Oprah and her guest continued to say that continuing to deny your own needs leads to resentment. I've seen that before, but I'm not so sure that the resentment was at the surface. My resentment more closely resembled a pervasive negativity and pessimism.

In the end, I cannot reclaim the things that I denied myself. No one can give them back to me, and I think only after I couldn't do it anymore and things got a little nasty, did the resentment come in.

Maybe a little gratitude on the part of the other person would have had a different result, but in the end I can only be concerned with my own personal growth. I have learned the consequences of not saying no, and am welcoming in the power of forgiveness.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
- Gandhi

I have found it necessary to think about forgiveness, specifically forgiveness that will probably never be accompanied by an apology. I think the fact that I don't expect an apology from said person makes me even more resistant to forgiving them. However, wisdom tells me that it doesn't matter.

No amount of bitterness that I harbor will affect another person, it only affects me. I've always been able to forgive a person as long as I never wanted to be around them again or we were blood relatives. But it's time for a bigger lesson.

I realized what that lesson was last night while listening to a Yom Kippur sermon by Rabbi Sharon Brous (my favorite rabbi) in which she warned against being a person who loved all humanity but doesn't know how to love another human being.

In many ways, I feel as though the latter part of that statement is the test I am going through. I am used to dismissing people from my life who have hurt me without ever feeling a tinge of leftover bitterness for humanity in general. But now the test is to move forward from being hurt by someone you otherwise expected to have in your life for a while.

Maya Angelou says that the ego holds, but love liberates. Perhaps the true liberation I need is to learn to love, forgive, and accept the nastiness brought up by two egos clinging to their positions. I thought I knew everything about egos when I read Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, but hearing those words from Maya Angelou moved mountains in my consciousness.

It seems contradictory that a softening of the heart will strengthen and liberate, but I will give it a try.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reclaiming "my stuff"

I usually write the title first when I post, and then the body, but I can't really think of one right now. A lot has gone on that has kept me from blogging, singing, and otherwise engaging in activities that I find enriching and I want to allow my stream of consciousness to flow.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what one owes a friend. When you do everything you can to support a friend and they don't appreciate it, and in fact are nasty to you in return, at what point should you feel a little codependent? Is there a line of devotion that you shouldn't cross with a friend because it will cost you too much to come back to your center.

I've been having big conflicts with a friend. I've been thinking of some of this persons actions as unappreciative, but then I think about the fact that a person doesn't know what you give up doing to help them. Time that could have been spent learning the piano, singing, and tending to my own "garden" was spent to help someone else, and when they lashed their tongue at me I left feeling like I had been robbed.

It makes me think of Ntozake Shange's poem, "somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff". It doesn't have to be a lover, and given some of my experiences over the past year, I don't think it even has to be a person. Whatever lost cause has a person consumed, devoted, and eventually exhausted will all feel the same in the end.

However, I don't think I could be less of a friend. I like being the type of friend who is there through thick and thin, who will drop what they're doing for a friend in need. I guess I'm just learning (again) that it does come at a cost, and I should have boundaries.

On a different note, I REALLY enjoyed the High Holy Days. I have said repeatedly that the days I spent there were the best I've had all year (Roman calender). For someone who eschews organized religion, I have already made plans to go back for Shabbat next week.

In hindsight I overestimated the number of curious gazes I would get, along with my level of reaction to them. Overall I found people to be curious and welcoming, and cherish the privilege of going to someone's home for Rosh Hashanah.

That is where I also had my first taste of gefilte fish. It was so delicious and homemade. I must get the recipe. I could tell it was made from cod, and I absolutely love cod.

So, I've gotten 5772 off to a good start, and had a great introductory Jewish experience. Now I just have to decide when and where to convert...but I will take my time.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fasting and food fantasies

I have been home for about an hour after leaving the Kol Nidre service. I am fasting as well, and anytime I go without food, I always take note of what I end up craving.

When I gave up meat for 30 days, I craved ham. When I was convalescing in Thailand and couldn't eat solid food for seven days, I craved cheeseburgers. Not sure what I'll crave this time, but I do have leftovers that someone gave me from their pre-fast dinner.

Tonight's was the third service I've attended. I take it as a MONUMENTAL sign that I still feel drawn into Judaism and at home. I haven't gotten that feeling in any other religious environments, not even in Buddhism.

Time to start learning Hebrew...