A TALE OF TWO (AT LEAST) REALMS
As a practicing Tibetan Buddhist I see the word "realm" as a metaphor for the self. We are each a separate world waiting to form a relationship with other separate worlds. Sentient beings like you and me can, with deep intention and a certain kind of discipline, connect ourselves like the children's puzzle of dot to dot, and from this construct create a unity that could be world changing. Dot to dot, or individual to individual, we can create a world which becomes a new realm in which peace and justice and respect and altruism fill the streets and our communities.
I set my own standard for what came next in my blogging career over a year ago when I represented my 3-4 year old self as having lived through a life-directing experience that taught me the meaning of the aphorism, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I chose those pithy words to be my recipe for the rest of my life. I was at a developmental stage in growing up human which WebMD describes in this manner:
I was no different than any other 2-5 year old evolving child. Like each of us I was progressing at my own individual pace, through the grace of my ripening karma, and the influence of the circumstances, including the visions of the various adults, and any other children who were interacting with my developing persona during that part of my life and continuing in that mode of cognitive development and emotional and social development until this very day.
If you are reading this, thanks. I've been absent for a long time. My cover story to myself and others was that I was waiting for the right words to present themselves before I could once again write with diligence. It was at that time the only way I had found to explain the months and months that went by while I still didn't produce a complete blog piece. Believe me I wrote and wrote, most of the time in a flooding burst of the energy that presents itself when I am being the most authentic. It is my personal quest in this life time to be authentic and, in my experience then of my writing persona, I was not able to hold onto her authentic writing energy long enough to finish any one piece.
The truth is I was not taking my own best advice, the advice that I give out to all clients coming to us because they are stressed out or because they are not being creative anymore or because their concentration has become like that of a flea and they can't finish anything that they start to do, and they've lost the muse, or old rockin' chairs got them, or they're just recovering from an accident and/or a critical or very pesky illness, or whatever. I'll bet the condition that I'm describing is not unfamiliar to most of you.
To get back to my own best advice: when a person is stressed out enough to consult with a stress consultant, that is the time for them to give themselves a break around the subject, needs, and nurturing of their creative impulses. I go so far as to say that I believe one cannot be optimally creative while they are stressed out. I believe they can try to escape the redundancy of their over-weaning stressors only when they can give themselves the antidote of kindness, which we all seem to need during challenging times, and to do this successfully for oneself is virtually impossible.
The coaching Wonder Woman and I provide for stressed out people is not only about active listening, or exercises, or whatever 'doingness' we can coach them to practice. What we've discovered to be the most effective healing device is to be kind. Kindness, in my opinion, has to also be given in order for a complete healing from loss of creative abilities to take place . Giving them the example of compassion for themselves first, and then for others, we demonstrate that antidote by being kind, and caring, and patient.
In my life, since the end of November 2006, Wonder Woman and I first both had pneumonia. Next our beloved cat Zoey was diagnosed with cancer. Then we both got the flu. Then Zoey died. Then Wonder Woman was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then Wonder Woman had a mastectomy. Then there was chemo. Now there is a peaceful hiatus. All is well with Wonder Woman right now.
She had been one beautiful bald woman and her current Joan of Arc look shows her as the warrior she truly is. I was too stressed out to be able to be maintain my creative ability to write. I was unable to take my own best advice during this stressful period of our lives. I had to shut my mind's search for the reason that I couldn't finish anything I tried to write, and more than that I had to be kind to myself because I was failing to deliver on the promise I would make to myself every morning. Each day I would come to my keyboard 'determined' not to procrastinate, and in all these months I have watched myself become the mother of procrastination.
I was, however, being creative in the death of my cat, and the healing of my spouse. I sought out the company and support of others. I was a committed listener to all the healers that came on the scene and was another set of eyes and ears to keep all the facts together for Wonder Woman. We both did all the exercises and practices that we would have instructed clients about. We actively each walked the walk and talked the talk, and often with each other. Together we enjoyed our mutual deepening evolution into compassion, we acquired wisdom together about healing, and healing energy, and the reality that can become whole with conscious kindness.
I wanted to say all this without being preachy, or boring, or as if I had this whole trip together in some egotistical way. I do know in my heart of hearts I am in the sacred place deep inside of me (yet very close to the surface) where I can tame my mind enough for it to fall silent. Then I can bring the full force of the rest of me 'out'.
When that happens I experience a surge of energy that feels wonderful and transforms my ability to be able to take positive action. For at least a mote in time there is silence, and within that silence bliss, and from that bliss the energy to keep moving, and to be still at the same time.
I feel like my feet are growing from my soles deep into the ground. I am as if a tree, rooted, at the bottom and still swaying with the breeze in my top most branches, strong and self sustaining, and in this silent space I am timeless and giant.
I am committed to holding all of my emotions, thoughts and feelings in this manner, a manner that accepts impermanence and even celebrates that condition of life. What else can open the way to the next wonders? Death or dropping away of the old as it ripens happens as if they are the seasons of nature, old leaves making way for new sprouts.
As leaves change without the tree doing anything but standing there waiting for the seasons and the nature of things, I am content these days to live in a state that is tree-like.
There is much to tell about this year. I feel released again in my story telling realm. Take this as a fair warning: I am baaack!
This time around I will not only tell tales from my childhood but I will take the risk of expressing, as directly as the creativity will allow me, some of the observations of life that are current for me. I have the intention to make waves. I want to make a difference in this lifetime for all sentient beings. This is my individual quest. I will start this quest at the beginning, coming from the evolution of our species, in the way life first appears for us all when we are still impressionable, innocent, eager to please, eager to 'grow up' children. The example of the adults in our lives is paramount. These, the oldest kids on the block, are the ones we are determined to play with.
On the cover of Newsweek Magazine on January 22, 2007 was a photograph of a beautiful little boy from Iraq. He is of an indeterminate age, maybe 4, 5, 6, or 7. He is full faced, and he cradles against his cheek, a real gun.
He rests this automatic weapon on his face, between his sensuous mouth and deep, poetic, huge brown almost black eyes. His hands are tiny, and the skin looks baby soft and smooth, and the legend with the picture is…
"A child holds a weapon in a Baghdad protest, December 2006." Above his perfect little round head are the following words:
"How Daily Bloodshed, Deepening Hatreds, and the American Occupation May Turn Iraq's Children Into The Next Jihadists"
The image that this magazine cover projects is not one I want in my world. As a woman, as an elder, as a mother, as a grandmother, as a Blogger, as a teacher, as a Jew, as a Buddhist, as a pacifist and as a sentient being I would not be the hero I am determined to be in this lifetime if I didn't do anything about this!
I believe that little kids are gathering knowledge about the world around them like absorbent sponges from day one, even whilst still in utero.
Little kids are small, but their feelings are the same size as grown up people's feelings.
Little kids can tell when big people are lying to them.
And it hurts…
Little kids can tell when big people are happy and when they are sad.
Little kids can tell when grown ups are scared, and when they are being scary because they're scared.
And it destroys trust every time they perceive a lie that you tell them…
And little kids can really know these things and remember them from before they can really talk about them...
Little kids are not only aware of what facial expressions and body language is about; they are also very sensitive to the tones of people's voices, and what some of those tones mean. It's from first mimicking those tones that they practice and begin to say words.
They are very aware of anger and of threats to their existence. They can hear when grown ups are not being straight with them. Little kids are born with an already developed sense of right and wrong; and they are prone, in the beginning of their lives, to want to be ethical, and virtuous.
And these states have got to be nourished from the very beginning. Like milk and other essential foods that are necessary for strong bones and healthy bodies, the lessons of kindness have to be offered as though they were food in order to grow the well-being of the minds of little children, as well as the strength and good health of their bodies. Humans of all ages learn these lessons mostly by experiencing them. Kindness and caring, as an example from others in their lives, become a part of what is their native realm starting right there at home, right there in their neighborhoods, right there in their communities and beyond.
Neighborhoods that won't suddenly explode all around them.
Neighborhoods that only require children to be children and not gun carrying soldiers.
I am the electric Mama E an almost 72 year-old shaped first by living through all the history that I have observed and then formed by our electronic/digital life and I am planning to take full advantage of the opportunity of the internet to rock and roll. I will not reinvent the wheel. Instead, I will find ways to make contributions to the movements that exist already; the ones that are meant to call people back to the natural state of innocence and wonder and opportunity that comes with being born as a human child.
I want to create my part of an already growing connection of people in my network and other people's networks to put it all together and get it all set so that children, their parents, their aunties, their uncles and cousins, and teachers and friends, and brothers and sisters, and neighbors and email pen pals, and pets, and all sentient beings get the deep nurturing that comes from actions of kindness; the sort of selfless kindness that permits the creative juices to flow to the full capacity we each can handle and as a means to connect people dot to dot where you sometimes need to stay still, perhaps as still as a tree in order to see clearly how to expand our numbers one at a time into a unified picture so that together we create a new realm that we can collectively support.
Please join me in this endeavor.
This poem was written by a 5 year old. To me it is proof positive of the wisdom being that every child carries with him.
FLOWERS GO AROUND
Once upon a time
There was a human
And in that human
Was a heart
And in that heart
was a spirit
And in that spirit
was a spirit heart
And in that spirit heart
There was a human
By Patrick Elmore at age 5
Let us be flowers together.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Part 2…THE CONCLUSION
At my grandma’s house lunch was the big meal of the day, dinner was called ‘supper’.
Because I was a terrible ‘eater’, my grandma usually cooked me a ‘special’ supper. Things that my mother would never cook for me and mostly I “dassn’t tell her about”…We had secrets me and Grandma… and when I was really mad she would hold me until I stopped raging and would go, “Sha, sha, sha”, as she would try to calm me down. I loved my grandma Goody like I loved nobody else. She was my island of safety in a world that was sometimes confusing because sometime’s I had this good mommy and sometimes my mommy was mean and scary, too. She would hurt me when she hit me and she would do worser things then that too, that I really don’t want to talk about now.…and my grandma would hold me as I yelled about it…when grandpa delivered peoples dry cleaning in his car my grandma would ask me about was there anything that I wanted to tell her as soon as he left. She knew that I didn’t trust my grandpa, and that’s another story I’ll tell later, too – but anyway that’s when I would tell on my mommy to her. If I started to get very, very mad and wanted to yell and started to cry, she would let me and she would hold me in her lap and go, “Sha, sha, sha…”
The first time that I ever told on my mommy to her, she held me like that and when I was quiet again, and the big hiccupping, the heavy kind of ones inside big sighs stopped, she made me promise not to tell anyone else about what I had just told her. She told me that she believed me and that she knew about my good mommy and bad mommy, too. She had seen my mother when she went “mishuga” is what she said about it. So she knew that I was telling her the truth. I promised her that I wouldn’t tell anyone, especially not even my daddy. I broke that promise though when I was four. I once did tell my father, but that’s a whole other story. But after that I kept my promise to my grandma until after she died, and I was in college, and I told my friend Rick, and that story comes later, too.
So if I had been there for dinner/lunch and liked the food, my favorite was the boiled fish, there would be a special portion for me that she had saved in the fridgidaire. Or sometimes she would make me special things that she knew I liked. Like rice pudding with heavy sweet cream, or my favorite which would be chocolate pudding that she would make for me hot and fresh from the stove poured over fresh white bread and laced with heavy sweet cream. I was a very skinny little kid, and a bad eater especially for my mother, and my grandma was always trying to fatten me up. She would feed me around on the days my father and mother would be coming by to pick me up at the store, and I wasn’t sleeping over. Tonight my daddy was coming to get me and because the weather had started to get cold, we wouldn’t walk home my grandpa would take us in his car.
That night as soon as I got home my mommy gave me a bath and then put me into some warm new pajamas that my grandma had just made for me (she made me all my pajamas). In the summer they were made from cotton that my daddy would get her the material for, and in the winter, or in the fall like now, they would be of flannel with long sleeves and my daddy also brought her those piece goods, he would call them, too. Then my parents both put me in the bed and tucked me in.
Use to be my mother would carry me into my bed, she always did when I slept in the crib, but since I got my big girl’s bedroom set, because my mommy was going to have a baby sister for me and she would have to sleep in my crib my daddy carried me in and both of them tucked me in. I didn’t like that too much, and I really wanted a big brother and not a little sister either. But I loved my bedroom set.
There was a bed, and a dresser that matched the bed with a mirror over the dresser. There was a chair that was set next to the window in my bedroom that looked over the garden. That was my very own reading chair. There was a little table next to the chair and that’s where I put special toys that I could play with quietly when I was by myself in my own big girl bedroom. My favorite toy (the thermometer thing) was right there on the table when I came into my room to go to bed. The light was just turning to dark before night time. Out the window where the sun was going down the sky was bright pink with big fluffy clouds. The kind that my mommy told me were really the thrones in heaven where the people who were dead went and God and the angels were, and people who had died who were good people sat and watched down on me like my grandpa Levine who had died, and I couldn’t really remember him. Although everyone in the family told me that I was only 9 months old when I told him, “Bye, bye pa, be good,” when he first went into the hospital and I tried to get him to take my teddy bear with him, but not my favorite ‘tickle cover’, that he teased me to give to him, or he would just take it... I first began to talk when I was 4 months old, everyone told me that, and that I walked when I was 6 months old. Every night when those clouds were there I would look up at them and try to see were there really people who were up there, and could I ever get to really see them? So far I hadn’t.
As soon as I could hear the buzz of my parents’ voices in the living room I knew it was safe to get out of my bed. I tip toed out of bed over to the chair and table. I eased myself quietly into the chair and reached for my new toy and turned towards the window, I wanted to see if I watched it very closely could I see the thing on the temperature part move up or down. I looked at it very carefully tipping it towards the light that still came in through the window until it got too dark and I couldn’t see the red part in the middle anymore. It was getting darker in my room and I was getting sleepy. I rubbed my eyes and once again wondered how did the Sand Man get in here without my seeing him? Every night I would try to stay awake to see him and every night I knew he had been here, because I could feel the gritty sand in my eyes and I never, ever saw him, but what I did see that night changed my life forever, and gave me then my favorite quote then, which with some subtle changes thanks to Hillel, is still my favorite quote now...
I snuggled under my covers and said, “Now I lay me”…to myself something that I always did with my grandma, and never did with my parents and I soon fell asleep. When I opened my eyes again my room was very dark. There were no sounds in the house so I knew that my mommy and daddy were probably sleeping in their room that was right next door to mine. What happened next is my Halloween gift to you, blessed reader (and I do mean bless you each and every reader).
There was a strange light coming from the mirror over my dresser that was just across from the foot of my bed. It was kind of greenish and as I watched I saw a face forming in the mirror and as I watched the witch that Joey and I had chased down the sidewalk today started to form her shape right there in my mirror! As I watched frozen so I couldn’t move and tried to scream but no sound came out of my throat, she stepped out of the mirror and was standing directly over me, as I cowered in my bed! “Get up and out of that bed!” She said in a whispery voice that crackled and sent shivers down my back. It felt like my hair was prickling on the top of my head and I was very, very frightened. I tried to scream for my daddy and mommy, but still no sound would came out of my mouth, my throat just made little whistles while I tried to scream and I couldn’t even whisper let alone talk or scream!
I was shaking as I got out of the bed, it felt like my knees were going to buckle and I was going to fall, she kept talking and her voice was mean and crackly, “Doesn’t feel so good does it Missy Elaine”, she knew my name! “Doesn’t feel so good when someone is being mean to you and doesn’t talk to you in a nice voice, does it? Does it! I’m talking to you, does it?” My voice still wouldn’t come out and she laughed and it sounded high and very nasty, as she glared at me, I could see her eyes glowing green in the dark. In fact there was a strange light in the whole room now and even though everything was shadowy I could see it all, my whole room and the witch who was now standing right in front of me most of all. She said to me, “This is a very nice room and you don’t deserve it”…She had her cane and she was wearing her black cloak and it touched the floor, she went over to my dresser and pulled the bottom drawer wide open, “Empty those clothes on the floor!”…I did what she told me to do, I took out my underwear and my socks and my sweaters that were in the drawer, and she took her cane and messed up the orderly piles I was trying to make. All my socks were in pairs and she made me unfold them and she spread all the clothes all over my room…she pointed to the open now empty drawer with her cane and she said, “I am going to sleep in your comfortable bed and you are going to sleep in that drawer!”, and she pointed her cane right at it, and held that position until I climbed into the drawer and holding my knees bent so I could squeeze my body in I got into the drawer on my back. It was very uncomfortable and the wood in the drawer came through my pajamas and felt hard and like it could scratch me, and my head was kind of bent on my chest and I could hear my breathing but still I couldn’t say anything! No sound would still not come out of my mouth. As soon as my body was mostly in the drawer she jumped right into my bed and put her head on my pillow and pulled up my blankets and went to sleep, I could hear her snoring!
For a long time I lay there whimpering in that hard drawer! I didn’t fall back to sleep and I couldn’t budge and I still couldn’t make myself scream! I was very frightened and wanted my grandma to save me, and wished hard and wished some more that someone, anyone would come and save me and no one came! Just as the light was coming into the room from the rising sun, suddenly the witch was standing in front of me again! “Get out of that drawer right now!” she ordered me…and I did. “Now, she said give me your favorite toy!” I didn’t want to but I gave her my thermometer thing, and as soon as I handed it to her she took it in her hands brought it back to the window and as I watched her do it, she broke it in half with her cane, and laughed and laughed. Then she opened the window, turned towards the mirror and then turned back to me. She said, “I hope that you’ve learned your lesson, or I’ll be back!” and then just like turning the corner, just like she did yesterday, she was gone.
Then I found my voice and I started to scream, I found my feet and ran across the floor and ran into my mother and father’s room and jumped into their bed…I was sobbing, my daddy had already left for work and my mommy was waking because I was making so much noise. “Save me, save me, save me…The witch came and got me and made me sleep in my drawer and she slept in my bed and broke my thermometer thing!!!” Was basically what I was trying to say, other kinds of words and sounds and sobs were what was tumbling out of my mouth, but at least I could talk again!
My mother reached for my squirming frantic body and held me against her in the big bed that she and my daddy slept in. It smelled like my mother, I loved that smell even though sometimes I really was mad at my mother. It was a mostly sweet smell and sad and happy all at once and it calmed me down and she listened as I told her the whole story even about how it all started with me and Joey about the old lady that looked like a witch on the street in front of the tailor shop and how we had chased her and I heard myself saying because my mother asked, that I was very, very sorry and I would never-ever do that again…
Then there was my good mommy. Oh and when she was good she was so very, very good – the very good mommy was here. She told me all about the Golden Rule, she said it was, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” She told me all about how being mean to somebody is a really bad thing to do. That when you are mean to someone that it is very bad thing to do, it is a sin and you should always do unto others as you would have them do unto you. She told me that it was part of being Jewish to have this Golden Rule and she held me in her arms and said that she could tell I had learned my lesson, because of what happened with me and the old lady who looked like a witch. She could tell that deep inside myself I was really very sorry and would never try to be mean to any old people never ever again...And I don’t think that I ever was. Not mean to old people at least.
Then she got out of her bed and she picked me up and carrying me in her arms walked with me into my room. Every thing was back where it was supposed to be. My under pants and sweaters, and socks in that same bottom drawer, neat like when my mommy first put them in there. Then she walked me in her arms over to the window and when we both looked down there was the broken in half thermometer thing, in front of the wide open window…
“See, I told you”, I said…I clung closer to her body and she sat down on my bed still holding me and rocked me back and forth in her arms like my grandma, her mommy did, and said, “Sha, sha, sha…I believe you, I believe you”, and I knew that she really did believe me.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
THE BEGINNING HISTORY OF MY MOST IMPORTANT QUOTATION...
THE BEGINNING HISTORY OF MY MOST IMPORTANT QUOTATION…
“…A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him, ‘Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.’ Thereupon he repulsed him with the rod which was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, he said to him, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn."
12. Judaism. Talmud, Shabbat 31a
This all started for me in a very personal way. There I was kinda bored like a kid of about 3 almost 4 or so can be. “I gots nothing to do”, I would say to my Mother, and if it was a nice day she would promptly send me outside to play. So on this particular Fall day, there I am at my Grandma and Grandpa’s Goody’s Fine Tailor Shop in Coney Island, Brooklyn New York, and I had nothing to do, so she my grandma Goody my Mother’s mother, was just about to send me outside to play...
Going outside to play on
Or if I promised to look ‘both ways’ I could cross the big street at the end of the corner where my house was and walk another block and a half to Maple Avenue and find my big cousins L, and ML and see if they would play with me. If they weren’t home I would cross the street to my aunt Fannie’s and uncle Joe's house, Florie the maid would always be there if everyone else was out, and she was one of my must favorite people in the world anyway. But on this day just before Halloween I was stuck in Coney Island and if I got lucky Joey Brady would show up at the front of the tailor shop and we could go outside and play together.
He lived around the corner from the tailor shop and I was never allowed to go there on that street by myself. I could play in front of the shop, and I could walk passed the shop in both directions, in front of the bakery, and the grocery store, passed the Palumbos house and into their big and open vegetable store on that corner or past the barber shop to that other end of the sidewalk, but I couldn’t go around any of the corners by myself or go across any of the streets by myself, ever.
Joey Brady was a little older than I was and he was a tough kid. He was blond haired and had freckles way more then I had on his round face. He was Irish, and I was Jewish, and he had lots of brothers and sisters, and I didn’t have any brothers or sisters yet. But I had just been told that my Mother was going to have a little baby sister for me soon. I wanted a big brother, I mostly hated girls!
This day he was right there. He had a little toy pumpkin in his dirty hand which I bet would be sticky if he made me touch it. He had dried snot under his nose and he had a loose tooth that was kind of dangly. He would try to push his face into mine and make me look at the bloody loose thing in his mouth, uuggghhh!. He was different then Harry and Arnie and anyone else that I knew or played with. But he could talk to me and sometimes he could think up good things to do, and I mostly wasn’t supposed to play with him, and so it was fun when I could do that.
“Heeey, I had candy in this pumpkin did you ever have anything like this?!” He yelled. I didn’t. I thought maybe it was one of those Jewish-Christmas things, little Jewish kids didn’t get toys once again…I said, “Who cares!!”…He said, “My Dad brung it home and gave it to me last night, I hadda wait to eat the candy until this morning…Betcha wish you was me!” Nope, food wasn’t my thing, not even that kind of candy…Now the little toy pumpkin, it was small and you could put other little things into it…I liked toys that looked like real things. I hated things like baby dolls, which didn’t look like any real babies that I had ever seen! But this looked like a little jack o’ lantern!
I loved little things that looked like big things that were like real things. My favorite toy right then was this teeny calendar like thing that had a teensy thermometer thing on it. It looked like the temperature thing that hung outside the barber shop with the beauty shop behind it that was next door to my grandma and grandpa’s tailor shop. My grandma had her hair done there every Friday morning and I would sometimes go with her. Betty was the lady who owned that shop. She was married to Fred the Barber who had red hair and gave Arnie his haircuts which I sometimes got to go with him to watch and sometimes I would go and visit in the barber shop where he worked especially when he gave my grandpa or my uncle Lester or uncle Manny a shave. I had known all these people from when I was a baby, and they would all look after me out their shop windows when I played in front of their places and give me special treats if I came inside.
On summer nights when it was too hot to be inside, everyone on that side of Mermaid Avenue who owned a store or shop would sit outside my grandparent’s tailor shop, when I was sleeping over especially, so that my grandparents could leave the door of the shop open, and I would be supposed to be sleeping but would be listening as hard as I could to the sounds of their voices as they all talked together until it got cooler when the breeze finally started to blow in from the ocean, and then as it got cool enough they picked up their chairs and went inside to go to sleep, too. I knew when that would happen, because my grandma would come into the bedroom very quietly and climb into the bed with me. I would always sleep in her bed and she and my grandpa had separate rooms. She would snuggle close to me and put her arm around me. I would pretend that I was sleeping and listen to her breathing as she would fall asleep, and then the next thing I knew it was morning.
My grandparents would bring the wire backed chairs from the store outside and the grocer Mr. K, would bring big heavy milk cartons, and the barber would bring some wire back chairs too, and mostly the Palumbo brothers and the baker’s would “just drop by”, and everyone would hang around and talk. Mostly, about the German’s, and business, and
I “dassn’t talk to her”, my Grandma said, about that woman. I dassn’t even look at certain other things, too – like the dumb funny looking kids that lived around the corner across the street, and rode their trikes in the alley of their house. When they came by the shop she did what was called in English the “poo-poo-poo”, it had a sound and it looked like spitting, and it wasn’t, and only grownups like Grandma’s and their sisters and friends were allowed to do it. Kids weren’t supposed to spit.
I wasn’t allowed to look at anything that could harm me with something called the “you shouldn’t know from it”… If she were close by, my Grandma, would pull me into her body shielding my eyes with her hand so as not to let me see or be seen. I knew that she thought that she was protecting me but it felt funny anyway. It wasn’t anything that anyone else but she would do anyway…
Across the street there were no stores. There were just 2 family houses that were in a row and some shade trees. Right across the street from that on the barber shop side was P.S. 188, where I would soon go to school. The tailor shop was a natural parking place for my Mother, to drop me off for her mother to take care of between home, which was “in the Gate”, which was only about 3 blocks away from that part of Coney Island. Later on when I went to school, it was easy for me to walk to my grandparent’s shop and wait for her or my father to pick me up and take me home later.
My mother had a very busy social life with her friends most of whom didn’t have children or had just one kid who was about my age and was supposed to be my friend when our mommies were together. One of my mommy’s best friends was also my Aunt Evelyn on my father’s side, who was my Cousin Diane’s mommy who was just a year younger then me but that’s another story.
It was just around Halloween time and I knew all about witches and ghosts and something called goblins which didn’t really seem to count. I knew about this mostly because my big cousin’s or my friends Harry and Arnie’s older brother or sister told us about it in scary voices. But it was the witches that were the most important of all because they were around you for real sometimes. Sometimes my grandma and her friends would talk in quiet voices heads close together about witches, poo-poo-poo!
I was scared about ghosts; there was a haunted house across the street from my house in Sea Gate, and the dark basement of the house that I lived in was a place where we would have secret meetings just of our Laurel Avenue gang and it was our special place because there were supposed to be ghosts down there, too. Daniel the big boy who played with us was the gang leader. He was the big boy who was my baby sitter and was the landlady’s son. I had no idea what a goblin looked like but I knew it made me feel real scary, and I was on the lookout for witches because that was another thing that my grandma knew about that she said “I dassn’t look at either!”
Joey and I watched from the sidewalk as the rag man come by down Mermaid Avenue on his funny looking wagon with the half dead horse dragging it and the bells around his head calling, “I buy rags, rags for sale”…and we ran down the sidewalk yelling at him, “Rag picker, rag picker”, and he shook his fist at us and yelled, “Just you wait!”
Right after he said that the sun went behind a cloud, the fog started to come in from the ocean and the wind picked up, and it felt very chilly; and then this very old woman wearing all black in a cape that came down to the sidewalk leaning over a cane came hunching down the street right in front of me and Joey!
He started it I think, “Witch, witch, fly away home”, and we chased behind her yelling that together and laughing and hollering, and she sorta dragged herself more quickly in front of us, and as she got to the end of the street on the barber shops side she turned around and looked at me. Her face was very, very old, and full of wrinkles, and she did, (she did) have a wart on her chin, and her eyes were stormy, and she looked straight into my eyes. Then she went around the forbidden corner, and my grandma called me to come inside for supper, and Joey ran on home. (To be continued)…
Saturday, September 30, 2006
COME AWAY WITH ME, INTO...?
COME AWAY WITH ME INTO…?
See, I don’t know. I don’t know anything. In fact, more than ever in my life I know that I don’t know anything. I am basically a portable talky-walky…much more a talky then a walky these days…Maybe best label is talky-balky…I hesitate before a thought…I feel the fear lurking in my chest...alive there I can distinguish it from ‘excitement’…Fear has for me along with it, the sensation of uncertain footing, danger, a sadness…It’s all of those things that it takes for me to admit with deep sincerity, not the psycho-babble kind of “sincere-ness” that “I”, don’t know ANYTHING”…My eyes feel prominent as if searching for what it is I don’t know, my breath however is deep and still…No wheezes, no post nasal drips, clear that I know that I don’t know anything…
This early morning I woke from a blank, not even a black, a blank sleep…deep in my chair, legs up, blankie covered, fully clothed in the early morning light…There were no fog horns this morning, it was almost 7, and I had let the night catch me here, ‘still’ in the living room. This year Wonder Woman resolved that she wasn’t going to badger my sleeping body to the bed. She wasn’t going to argue with my sleepy belligerence anymore, she was just going to make sure my night pills were obvious to my waking eyes, water was there, my legs were up, and I was covered…Good night!
I took my night time pills in the early daylight. I decided to read my day’s recipe from the cosmos right away before toddling off to bed and there it was in my book called, OFFERINGS, the gift of guidance for today with a changing Buddhist savant for the day, and changing photographs by… Today, September 29th the words of Jack Kornfield, “This is not a matter of changing anything but of not grasping anything, and of opening our eyes and our heart.”
The lustrous dark single eyes, of two children are the photograph for today. Two eyes, of equal poignancy, single left eyes peering from a dark page, golden flesh tones, so the eyes are more prominent, toned for the simple aware innocence watchful of a child being a child even from separate bodies. These eyes don’t ‘know’ anything. These eyes are watching to see. These children are innocents listening with their hearts, or so the picture seems to say to me. Tomorrow this same message will be repeated, and the picture will change.
Today is tomorrow. The picture is different today on the last day of September, September 30th. There in the forefront of the picture are 3 white Stupas. In the background loom endless stone mountains that reach towards the sky and seem to go on forever. Nothing returning to nothing which is returned to everything, formless and meaningless, never ending, never being born…I still know nothing and I have the knowledge that I have the possibility of everything possible, presuming I don’t try to ‘capture’ it.
I have the choice to let my palms up hands with fingers spread, an open fist, symbolize for me or not, that this is my stance that speaks to remind me in every cell of my body to stay open and allow all possible flow… for me even trying to grasp these words can stop all the flow that is possible.
I am a Jew-Bu, born Jewish and later finding Buddhist in my cells, too. This is a very spooky time of the year for me. It is the time of renewal, the time for change, the time for forgiveness, the time for cleansing and refurbishing, it is the New Year, and though I might promise myself each year that next year I will be somewhat more observant of the blood that I was born into, and I don’t follow through.
I am disapproving, mortified by, flambozzled, distracted, and maddened and saddened and sometimes terrified of world politics. I look around at all Nations and I see the same enslavement no matter the political system. The same hierarchies created by people everywhere…the haves versus the have-nots, the have-nots versus the haves, ‘together’ only on whatever grounding they can conjointly design to be divisive, and therefore give them each reason to become an enemy one to the other. Not just Cain and Abel all over again, but the equivalent in whatever socio-politico-cultural-ethnic scenario that can be fashioned into a ‘battlefield’ no matter the countries, parties, relationships, tribes, families, (you name it) ‘these days’ it seems to be fashionable to be heading on a path that is divisive. I personally can’t take the stand that the blood that I have been born into is taking right now.
I’m talking about human, y’all. I am embarrassed to be a human being. I think that we may have fucked it up for all sentient beings, us human ones. This week the news is hiding on page 6, of my home town paper, and my hometown is
It is also the time for Atonement…pictures from my childhood sneaking into the Synagogue, through the fire escape, up to where the women sit, looking down and all around as the women on the top floor, and the men below, beat their chests with their closed fists in rhythm for every possible sin that they might have committed, sorry for that, symbolically beating themselves, and promising to start with a clean slate and be better people.
I am so ready for Atonement and Redemption; I am so ready for, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I am also
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
MY MOTHER'S DAUGHTER
Preface: Perhaps you've noticed the changes in our Banner on our Blog. To personalize the space some more, our creative genius buddy Miz
MY MOTHER'S DAUGHTER
When my mother was still alive I couldn't and wouldn't write about her. My initial problem was that I had promised my grandma Goody, her mother who I loved a lot, that I would never 'tell' anyone (especially my father) that my mother was being mean to me. That when we were alone she would sometimes yell at me, and hit me, and pinch me, and say mean things to me. That she sometimes locked me in the closet and that she gave me enemas when I for sure didn't want them and she would knock me to the bathroom floor and she would make me have an enema when I was screaming for her not to do that to me again–I would be a good girl!
To almost everyone in the world my mother didn't look like a mean person. Her High School Year Book said about her, "A laugh, a snort, a snappy retort, that's Sue, a jolly good sport"! I heard her friends say this about her even before I could read it for myself in that book that has her pretty, young, and smiley face in it. Under her face was written all the good things that she had done, all the Clubs she belonged to. She was a Booster, she was in the Drama Club, she was in the French Club and she had made the Honor Society. Her friends would all be laughing when they said that "jolly good sport" thing, because someone, usually my mother, had just said something funny. Something that she said that once again made her look like a "jolly good sport." In those early days my Mother and her happy and fun loving witty spirit, her laugh and her quick footedness, her readiness to go out, and to dance, and to entertain, made her a hero to her friends.
They never saw what she ever did to me, because mostly she was laughing and being cute and smart and having a good time with them and being a perfect hostess and a good cook all the time they were all there and would see the two of us together. But usually just before they came over, while she was hurrying around to get ready for their company she would be mostly very angry and even seem sort of scared. She'd be racing around and yelling at me to stay clean, not to dare get my dress or my shoes dirty, and be rushing, and cooking and dusting, and smoking Pall Malls. But then just as soon as the first person arrived, she would become my 'good'
I loved it when we had company, and fortunately for me that happened a lot. My mother was very popular, and so was my father too, and so their friends and their families would come over a lot. She would usually say good things about me then in front of everyone, very different than the things that sometimes she would scream at me when we were alone. I loved to listen to those conversations. I maybe wasn't very cute, like Shirley
I talked when I was 4 months old, and walked when I was 6 months old. My mother told me that. So did all her friends and all my relatives. People that I hardly knew in Sea Gate where I grew up would sometimes stop me on the street, or on the beach, or in the Sweet Shoppe, and tell me things that I said when I was not even a year old, and that I would run down to the edge of the ocean water, strip off my bathing suit and run the beaches, and I was just a baby. I was kind of famous in my neighborhood.
My Mother also told me that I would unscrew the screws on my crib and make the sides fall down, and I somehow knew that I was just trying to run away from her. She told me how she had to use adhesive tape to cover over the screws because no matter how tight they would screw the screws I would unscrew them with my little thumb nails and take my crib apart and start running away again.
But I also had my good
My sister was 4 years younger than me, and I think that the nap times had stopped way before she was born. Another funny thing was that even if this was supposed to be my nap time, my Mother would be the one who fell asleep first. I'd stay awake. It was like I always felt that I had been asleep already, and would just watch her as she fell asleep. I would lay there close against her body and if she was turned the right way I would play with the hairs on a big mole that she had on her arm. Very quietly, I would lay there. I would be very still because I didn't want to wake her up.
When I was an infant I had a condition called, "eczema" that I was born with. My mother told me these things. The eczema was in one area of my body only, the 'diaper area', which my mother told me had big open sores. My mother told me that it was so bad that she and my grandmother had to make me special diapers that they made from real silk. My mother told me that because I had open sores all over my bottom, it really hurt me a lot for her to ever change my diapers. I would scream and scream.
Modern medical information about eczema is that it is an atypical form of dermatitis. Babies are sometimes born with skin that is super sensitive. Most babies who are prone to having hay fever and asthma often start with eczema. I never had hay fever or asthma. My metaphysical resource for the cause of dis-ease, Louise L. Hay, says this about eczema: "Breath-taking" antagonism. Mental eruptions." The healing affirmation is: "Harmony and peace, love and joy surround me and indwell me. I am safe and secure."
My Mother tip toed into the room and peered into the crib. Good, the baby was asleep. She picked her up very gently and quickly brought her to the bathroom, stripping her clothes off as she walked fast. The sink was already full of warm water, and she poised over it ripping off the baby's dirty diaper. Quickly she ducked the little head under the water. The baby's body stiffened for a moment, only a small amount of gagging and at that teeny moment when the baby's body went limp, she quickly withdrew it from the water. While the baby was coming to she deftly wiped and oiled her bottom and redid a clean silky smooth diaper, done! Then she hurried to her own bed cradling the half conscious baby and cooed over her little inert body as she exercised her little arms and coaxed the breaths back into the child.
I was the little girl who never would play with her baby dolls, except in one particular way. I would strip off their clothes, and I would take them under my bed and tie them up by the neck to the springs that were under my mattress. To this day I still can picture the images of dangling doll babies under my bed hanging there in orderly naked rows. I remember that even if I went under my bed to try to untie them and take them out of there to play with, that the knots were too tight and twisted for me to ever untie.
I also remembered during my first rebirthing experience–which happened while my Mother was dying and unconscious in a months-long coma–that I found myself in a conversation with her about what my gender would be when I was born. I wanted to be a boy; she would only have me if I agreed to be a girl. Her promise to me was that if I would give in to her and be a girl, she would be the most wonderful and attentive mother to me that there ever was. She promised me that she would be there always, and would take the best possible care of me. She didn't keep that promise.
She herself told me that she was unconscious when I was born, and sent me away when they first brought me to her to be nursed. She was too tired to feed the baby she said, and they took me back to the nursery and gave me a bottle. She told me that she could hear me screaming all the way back in her room which was way down the hall from the nursery.
She told me that I subsequently refused to nurse from her. Then I turned out to be allergic to all formulas and finally had to be fed milk made from soy beans. Cow milk and not even goat milk would do. I had determined that if my Mother wasn't safe, no sentient being could be safe and so I would only trust the milk of non sentient beans. In fact I was told that I would hardly eat at all and was a rather anorexic infant and toddler.
Louise L. Hay on Anorexia: "Denying the self life. Extreme fear, self hatred and rejection."
This is where I have to begin to be clear about my belief systems. I don't want to in any way impose these beliefs on you, dear reader. I am asking you however, to suspend your own beliefs for a while. I want to be up front and very clear about what I believe now, and I especially want you to know what I believed while I was growing up: I believe that before babies can even talk, before they are even born, babies hear and think and make up their minds about a lot of things.
I believe that we are all 'someones' coming from each of our own unique past histories. That we are influenced by our parent's behaviors and beliefs before we are born and certainly after we are here and in their charge. I believe we make our own decisions that are unfortunately frequently influenced by self-selective and therefore limited information; that this information is usually rather narrowly focused, we ourselves being our own leading experts. I believe that most parent's model that behavior to their children.
At times, my beliefs create what I then call my true life, part and parcel of the drama, the whirl and world of illusion and delusion that frequently gets me into the predicaments that are my personal soap operas. I do believe that I can change and alter the course of my own life as I change my beliefs, which can then be subject to change as I learn to be aware of the various options that life presents, “just like that,” and make new changes–just like that. Dealer's choice - I being my own 'dealer' and therefore, always my own chooser.
I grew up with grave inconsistencies in my life. I was either being an intuitive genius in school or failing something rule based like Algebra. I was kind to strays and slaughtered the crabs that I caught at the beach at the end of every day by bashing them against the rocks after building them beautiful habitats out of drift wood and sand and rocks to live in. I was a liar who stole money from my parents, and cookies from our neighbors. I had a terrible temper and was subject to raging fits and I was a volunteer who worked patiently and diligently with under privileged children. I was a great Mother to my infants and toddlers and I had an adolescent period in my life as an adult along with my adolescent children when I would disassociate and then be an adolescent rivaling them. I was an over achiever who had great periods of procrastination, having problems completing most projects. Over and above all other things, I was always careful to go out of my way to be a 'jolly good sport'. I would face up to other peoples needs and frequently at sacrifice to myself be the bigger person and even give them an undeserved win and then feel very sorry for myself.
There are broadly varied statistics about abused children. Some of us never make it out of our childhoods. Some of us grow up to become child abusers. Some of us become very high achievers. Some of us are suicides. Some of us go crazy. Some of us become criminals. Some of us become hopelessly drug addicted. Some of us just lope along never becoming very independent in life. Some of us demand to be in control and are ruthless competitors. Some of us never talk about it. Some of us get into abusive marriages. Some of us write books about it. Some of us become therapists. Some of us become homeless. Some of us do combinations of all of the above. There is even evidence that some of us very lucky ones are resilient.
Resilient: (definition from The New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary) adj.(of a body or material) "Capable of resuming its shape, position, etc. after being subjected to stress, elastic.” (of human temperament) “…capable of recovering rapidly, esp. from an emotional shock, to spring back."
In the 80's, researchers published the results of a 30 year study of families parented by members who had severe emotional dysfunction. The study showed that some members of severely dysfunctional families didn't develop the most disabling emotional symptoms apparent in the family; they demonstrated resilience. The study showed that the resilient family member usually was mentored by some one. Another family member, a friend of the family, a teacher, some one, or something intervened.
What's the difference between "A laugh, a snort, a snappy retort" and being resilient? The image of my Mother and her High School persona has the sweet smell to me of her rebellious nature, something we had in common. Also, I did, in fact, later watch my Mother go 'sane' after many years of mental illness. I also knew first hand the members of her immediate family. So what caused her to be resilient enough to make her remarkable recovery and not to be resilient enough to want to live after she seemed to have recovered? Since I was there when she made her decision to live or to die, and watched helplessly as she began to set the wheels in motion for her own death, I want to finally sort this out by finally writing about my frequently beloved and frequently certifiable Mother, and me her oldest daughter, and my younger sister, and of course my Father.
Pieces, some giving me peace
some only giving me more pieces,
as I begin to lower myself into the pool,
the under ground depths,
as I seek to perhaps challenge my own former solutions.
Many pieces of my memories are making me
relive the resistance
that positioned persistent and powerful
as an angry child lost
in my own nature.
resistant and righteous,
stood on what I called then firm ground.
the thrice landed bull
wanting to take on that watery slippery fish my Piscean Mother and hold her down,
while I puzzle this all out and
find the fine tuning
that my own study
that I have resisted for 30 years will lead me
finally fully to accept,
that even without her specific bait,
I always meant all by myself,
my Mother's Daughter.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
When I first met Wonder Woman, I found out that she had at one time given away over $110, 000.00 divided in equal shares to 5 of her closest female friends (smaller amounts were given to several others). This money had been generously and willingly settled on her at the time of their divorce by her former husband. He had received an inheritance and had split that amount of money in half, settling about $150,000.00 on her. Thus began the first stories in the legend of Wonder Woman that had already started before my time.
She took her own generous gift and distributed it in an unconditional and generous manner to give at least 5 other women, with whom she had lived in close feminist and not separatist community, the opportunity to use this money to love themselves. She kept about an equal share for herself. By the time I met her in ’78, she was just finishing off the last dollars of her own share.
I was flabbergasted when first told this story. In those days cynical I wished I’d met her before the big money had floated off. I made a resolution on the spot to protect this now almost like me penniless and dear innocent from herself. Innocence was nice and all that good stuff, the poor misguided woo-woo woman! I would protect her from herself, all right! I used to be arrogant beyond belief!
One of the greatest gifts that I received from Wonder Woman has been the community of amazing women (and some men) that came along with her. Our 2 dearest friends from this community have been legally married for 2 years, and for 30 years before that they’ve been in a committed partnership. They are Claudia and Susan.
Claudia, who has been Wonder Woman’s particular best friend for 37 years, and is also like Wonder Woman a southern woman, was the first recipient of the money for loving herself that Rhoberta, who was born Barbara (who is Wonder Woman) gave over $20,000 to. She and Susan her brand new partner at the time, took that money, and starting with $15,000.00 of it became women of property starting in 1975.
Through the years they have parlayed that property into much more, including ocean front Oregon holdings, part of which they have just sold at a comfortable profit. Claudia is a graduate of the Princeton School of Divinity, and is a profoundly gifted and successful Astrologer. She has been a star actor and director of Community Theater along the northern coast of Oregon. She is an available spiritual counselor for her very large network of friends, and leads weddding celebrations, celebrations of life, and the ilk. She is a brilliant photographer, and makes the most unique collages. Her spouse Susan is a noted fine artist, a painter, who has her own Art Institute. She is a fine furniture and print maker, and has created for many of the coastal towns of Oregon, their distinctive carved and decorated wooden signs. The property that they sold was located right on the beach and used to house their successful vacation rental business.
We four have several traditions. One is that when we have birthdays, or when a Christmas passes and we are not able to celebrate it together, we save these dates up, and on a chosen calendar day that works for us each we have a combination saved up Birthday, Christmas gift giving blast in the flesh. We four gather at one of our homes and gift each other lavishly, and eat and drink like women who love good food and cooking and eating it together. We also love each others' beloved creature children and have between us 4 dogs and several cats, and we love the same kind of music, and the same kind of mystical games, and the same kind of films, and the same kind of philosophy and politics and restaurants, and we spend as many days in a row together as we can manage. But sometimes we can only have this happen for us together one time a year, and sometimes like this last celebration that we just had together, it has to even wait for a couple of years. This year's Merry/Happy was to occur from July 23-July 26, and was to be at our house here in San Francisco.
About 10 or so days before our date, Claudia called me when she knew that Rhoberta was not going to be home. She then informed me that from some of the proceeds from the sale of their property they had bought an annuity of $20,000.00 for Rhoberta, the interest of which they were going to have directly depositied into her account. For the next 4 years an amount of at least $400 a month was coming directly to Rhoberta. I had to supply all the bank etc. information to facilitate the receipt of this gift, and also help plan the presentation of it, and of course, keep this all secret from Wonder Woman herself. Claudia and I wept as we anticipated the impact of this amazing gesture to our Wonder Woman, the Queen of Loving Feelings.
How much are we creatures of our own perceptions? How often do we play out between our own two ears, and 'see real life' as if not just visualizing how life is going to appear for ourselves, and even assume it for others, too? And then how much do we imagine we can predict how it's all going to turn out? How much we are going to feel love glowing in our hearts and roiling in a rollicking wave of excitement through our bodies with blessed synchronicity? This sweet anticipation that we can foster, how often does it fall flat, however we have supported it with our hope? The imaginable in reality that crashes and leaves a depression even just if it's a dent, that we then can so quickly let our impressions siphon the energy force through. Sometimes I really do get how I am my own force that causes my own suffering, and sometimes that enlightened possiblity like lightening in the sky, just flashes through,leaving me the 'ooops' girl once again.
We met we kissed we ate we drank we ate again and talked and talked and talked, drank some more and talked some more, smoke got in our eyes and we took lots of memorable photographs. There were dozens and dozens of presents around our fake baby tree, and we glowed and laughed and cried and not until the last moment down at the coffee cafe at the corner before they were taking off did the words of utter satisfaction and the pleasure that was the gift from the gesture of life giving birth to more life emerged, coming from the lips and the being of the woman who is Wonder Woman.
It was like ending a 4 day labor to hear her say to Claudia and Susan, "the real gift to me was what you said about how receiving the money expanded your idea of what could be possible in the world, and that was the magical possibility that someone could share like that."
Indeed her gift of the gift to her started a flow, slow like and emerging like the soft creep of a new season subtle and familial and saying that goodness can be created from goodness and positive forces can emerge from unconditional acts of pure love and when they are repeated can be repeated perhaps again for someone else, unsuspecting and finding that they are among a stream of lovers after all...all that's left is to be able to take that love and love yourself with it as you would have yourself loved by another.
Wonder Woman her eyes having those precious sparkling tears that Claudia, Susan and now even I, had been watching for, had just found the right words to express her thanks to Claudia and Susan. In her deeply feeling and ever patient way she had let it all settle down and then spoke her potent realizations delivered to her consciousness from the seat of her heart. The four of us sat in the cafe bursting with respect and love for each other, and hoping once again for the rest of the world - trend setters still...being still without a contract and yet in a marriage together in love forever, loving ourselves as we would have others love us, too.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Three weeks before we were supposed to leave for our vacation to visit with my entire nuclear family on the East Coast, in order for them all to honor me with the celebration of my 70th birthday, I became seriously ill with a case of pneumonia that just didn’t want to quit. I am a follower of Louise Hay, and her little blue book that gives the metaphysical cause of an illness, and then an affirmation she creates for the sufferer to look at in order to stir their positive emotions and help recovery along, something which I ritually personally do meditate upon, while I also take the necessary antibiotics.
There on page 57, is the emotional or metaphysical disease definition for Pneumonia: “Desperate. Tired of life. Emotional wounds that are not allowed to heal.” The positive thought form, supplied by the genius of Louise? “I freely take in Divine ideas that are filled with the breath and the intelligence of life. This is a new moment.”
I am a Tibetan Buddhist. Wonder Woman and I attend a Monday night course in Advanced Meditation, that’s an ongoing class for serious practitioners. The night my illness started Sylvia, our teacher had instructed us to open our hearts to our fullest. We were studying the course of Compassion, and had been chanting the mantra for compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings for many weeks.
So now we were not just to open our hearts just 100%, but more…beyond reasonability to 200%, that’s when I had my first symptom of the illness, when I started coughing, was when we were urged to continue to open our hearts. Suffering for many of us is mainly about being caught in the trap of one’s own ego. A wicket that I found to be sticky, now I see my ego, now I don’t! An ongoing game of becoming awake. As soon as I become smug with having discovered all of my current negative energy, some new ‘treasure’ of negative energy strikes me, usually from behind!
Pneumonia is an old buddy of mine. I first had it when I was 6 weeks old. I had it almost every change of season during my childhood. I’ve had it several times as an adult, and had it once already this winter. I always before this time could trace the faulty thought patterns to ‘insults’ and old wounds suffered during my disturbed childhood. Lay my wounds at the feet of my damaging, and damaged mother. Find the positive energy within myself to conquer my demons, and then forgive my Mother, and recover. This time I was slow to realize that the source of this pneumonia came from sadness that I still carried from mistakes that I had made in my own role as Mother, not from the delusions of my Mother, from my own delusions as I practiced being a mother on my own children.
I am so good at comforting the children of others that come to me and Wonder Woman for healing. We have amassed a huge extended family of men and women who treat us like the parents they wished that they had been brought up by. It was my intention to be that kind of wise and all seeing mother for my own children, and the wounds from my own child hood only allowed me to keep myself together for them and their father for part of the job. Another failed intention, and one that as my heart opened more, appeared to become insurmountable. When my feelings of inadequacy and suffering about not having easy answers more and more entered the scene for me at the age of 40, I had to find a way to grow up, and in my searching my ego allowed me to disrupt the lives of my own children. My illusion was that I would grow myself up to be a better mother for them, their experience, was one of disruption and even abandonment. We had all suffered from my decision to leave my ‘known’ and secure life, and strike out on a new path, one that I hoped would lead me to become an even more enlightened parent. In my current stressed state, I looked mostly at the damage that I feared I had caused my own children.
I’ve hit the wall on several attempts to write this post. I don’t want to even count how many ‘false’ starts I’ve made since our return home just after midnight, on July 4th…I’m very self conscious as I write this. I’ve false started this so many times because I’m truly committed to this being the most realistic statement that I can make about myself, and my current intention. It is my intention, by writing postings on this Blog Space, to create a book. I hesitate to announce this intention.
My children and I both know that my best intentions are sometimes not the same as my completed results. I am a person who starts things, usually brilliantly, then drops them sometimes in the middle, before I’m finished. I might then take up a new and related challenge. I did this with my own children. I divorced their father (and I was the person who started the divorce process) when my oldest daughter was 17 and 1/2, my next daughter was about to be 16, my oldest son was 14, my youngest daughter was 13, and my youngest son was 10. I believed at that time that the solid and loving, and honest relationship that I seemed to have with each of my children as they were growing up was sufficient to carry them through whatever upset my behavior to now become independent would cause for them.
I believed that each of their foundations with loving parents would be strong enough to carry them through. I also believed that I would be able to take whoever wanted to risk the new life that I then sought to develop on the West Coast with me, would be supported by me, and would be safe and happy. It turned out that I was wrong, and that is also another portion that I will get into later on in my book.
I don’t want my book to just be a book about myself. I want this book to reflect the political, social, and familial history and immense changes of the past amazing 70 years, as it has evolved for all of humanity, not just for me. Not just anecdotes about my experience, but a book that reflects the stories of the many women and men for that matter, that grew up like me, too young to serve in the 2nd World War, scared to death by the Cold War, and too old to fight in the Viet Nam war, and certainly too old for the current mess in Iraq. We guys who were just before the Baby Boomers. I want to make a difference by writing about us characters who managed to slip through some cracks but were influenced nonetheless by the hippie generation, the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and the 60’s, the 60’s, the 60’s, we who lived through it all, came out the other side of it, and remained active participants in this crap shoot called life.
Although we were too young to serve in the 2nd World War, many of us were trained by our families and our communities from almost toddler age to be aware of what was happening on the global stage. We were ‘hometown’ boys and girls whose milk teeth were being cut on vast changes and life altering inventions…Inventions that took us from gas lights to neon glitz…from black and white movies to Technicolor…from manual typewriters to electric typewriters to word processors to laptops…from broadcast radio to black and white TV, to full spectrum color TV, to portable DVD players, to handheld phones that talk, record, transmit, take pictures, make movies, text messages, and deliver your email.
When I was a 4 years old, if a woman drove a car down our tree lined street, the gang of neighborhood kids would run after her and in front of her calling for everyone to get off the road, because there was a woman driving! The milkman would still deliver milk and cream to the entire neighborhood every day, the ice man would give us kids chips of ice to suck so we could relieve the heat of a summer’s day, and no one hardly ever moved out of the neighborhood!
On the night and morning of the 3rd and 4th of July, I was traveling home to San Francisco, having flown into Newark, New Jersey, just 10 Days earlier. In those 10 days, I stayed in Ridgefield, New Jersey, traveled in a car with the voice of a female ‘God’ as my navigator, reading traffic directions beamed to our car from a satellite orbiting the earth and correcting each of our deviations from her door-to-door directions, with my son-in-law and female partner Wonder Woman as co-drivers, to Takoma Park, Maryland…Ate dinner that night at a great Chinese restaurant with 18 family members, 12 of whom who had also driven that day into the Washington, DC area from, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
During that dinner I checked in with each of my children and grand children and discovered that not only did they love me, they also seemed to respect me. They were each kind and loving and really happy to be together with me and Wonder Woman, and with each other. The traces of pneumonia that still were clinging on seemed to totally dissipate during that delicious, rollicking, and happiest reunion of us all. At the end of the dinner, the wait staff brought out 2 giant birthday scoops of vanilla ice cream, each with a single candle, and placed them each on the 2 adjacent tables that were holding us all. One scoop in front of me, and the other scoop in front of my grandson who had turned 10 that very day of June 23, 2006. Everyone sang, “Happy Birthday” to both of us as we made our wishes and blew out our single candles and then passed the vanilla ice cream around for each of us to have a taste.
Wonder Woman and I slept that Friday night in the Queen sized bed of my son and his male spouse, partied that Saturday night with my 5 children, their 5 spouses, and my 6 grand children, in the house of my gay youngest son. There was one more guest, the mother of my son’s partner, a woman that we had grown to love in the years that we have known her, and who was greeted and made to feel at home by each of my children and grand children. She brought our number up to 19, my particular beloved, ‘lucky’, number.
We ate incredible food catered in the main by Whole Food Markets, were regaled all night with a loop of snapshots projected on a wall from a laptop computer that featured photos of my children from baby hood up, and my grand children likewise, me as a bride, my ex husband, his current wife, my current female spouse, and all of us growing up together during the various stages of our various and totally related, although frequently separated lives. The cake which I had help blowing the candles out to celebrate my 70th birthday, also celebrated my youngest sons and his partners 40th birthdays, the 16th birthdays of my 2 oldest (female and male) grand children and the 10th birthday of my grandson who had just moved to this country from Tokyo with his Mom and Dad, and younger brother.
On the birthday card that was part of the gift that my children home in this country now from getting their start as a family in Tokyo, gave me was this message written by my 10 year old grand son, “Happy birthday grandma. You are the most positive grandma, that I can recall”.
On Sunday, most of the family left to drive back to their homes in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, and we and my oldest daughter and son-in-law, who had flown in from Oregon, rested and played with my youngest son and his spouse, and left again navigated by she God, for Connecticut and the home of my youngest daughter, her 2 children, and her husband. Thus began a holy journey from one child’s house to another’s.
So we were driven after spending a few days with each of my children in New England, back and forth from Connecticut to Massachusetts and then back to Connecticut to visit for one last round all together except for my son and his spouse who were still recovering from their masterful hosting in Takoma Park, and my son and his family who were getting ready to host us in their home in New Jersey. We all congregated in the brand new just moved into home of my ex husband, and his wife, in a small Connecticut Sea Port town.
Now this man and I had been married for 19 years. Together we produced the 3 daughters and 2 sons who as adults are miraculously healthy, successful, happy, brilliant, loving and kind people. We are on the same pages all of us, politically, and socially conscious-wise. As a family and as an extended family, we all constitute a miracle. My ex husband and I met and celebrated that reality, humbled and awe struck, in brief intimate conversations that we continued to have together for that entire day.
On my 65th birthday, Wonder Woman gave me the gift of several amazing ‘experiences’…One of them was to have my palm read by Margy Henderson, a Shaman, Sound Healer, and Palm Reader extraordinaire. She gazed at my palm and exclaimed, “Wow! Your hand says right here that you have the ability to fall in love at first sight not just once, but twice!” That in fact was true for me, and it happened in this life, the first time that I laid eyes on my ex-husband, and the first time, that I laid eyes on Wonder Woman! Two times in this lifetime I have fallen in love with a man, then a woman at first sight!
I was sitting on a stone fence in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, in June 1954. I had just completed my first year of college, and I had just turned 18 years old. I was working for the first time ever at a Children’s Summer Camp. It was the YMHA’s New York City Summer Camp for underprivileged children, called in those days, The Eddie Cantor Camp. The staff had traveled up for training one week before the kids were to arrive, and one of the busses had broken down at the foot of the long and steep hill that was almost a mile from the entrance of the camp. We were waiting for the passengers on the broken down bus to trudge up that hill on this warm sunny June day. I watched the first of these weary walkers complainingly straggle in, and then this tall, dark, gorgeous hunk with a steamer trunk balanced on his shoulder came striding up the hill right in front of me. He was smiling, his hair was jet black, his eyes were huge and dark, dark brown, he was tanned, he was barely winded, and he was wearing an NYU sweatshirt, just like the one I had in my trunk! On the spot I decided what I was going to wear to the first meal in the dining room we were all scheduled to have together, and who I was going to manage to sit next to, and it totally worked out.
We had our first breakfast together the next morning, and we were an item from that first summer until our last summer working at that same camp two more consecutive summers. The third Spring that we knew each other, we got married on my 21st Birthday, the day before I graduated from NYU, another entirely different story to be told later.
That tall dark handsome young man was now a bald and totally stooped over, head unable to be lifted from his chest, shambling, hesitant speaker, suffering from advanced Parkinson Disease. He had to lift his eyes from under his prominent brow, large dark soulful eyes still, in order to make eye contact. His voice was soft and hesitant, words coming so slowly, manner so solemn and so sincere, and so pained, and so vulnerable. I knew that he was being on his best behavior. Because I also knew that he could be a demanding and maddening impatient, patient…Even so at this time what was most prominent was his openness and pleasure for this gathering.
His wife and I stole some alone time in the kitchen. I held out my arms and she came into them. We talked about a jar of preserved mangoes she told me she always had in case I needed them again. We were recalling with gleeful sentiment the first time when I had been in a kitchen of hers before, many Thanksgivings ago, and I was in charge of making the gravy for the Turkey. I had asked in this Rhode Island, country kitchen if there were any mangoes, and several of my kids just wanting an excuse to run out in the car together went fruitlessly looking for one. Now she was going to be always prepared for my arcane West Coast ‘needs’, mango jarred, and at the ready for whatever my next unreasonable requests re mangoes might be.
That’s when I had laughed and held my arms out to her, and she quickly came inside my embrace. I asked her how hard things were being, and she replied that I knew how difficult he could be from time to time, and then how sweet also. We held each other, and I thanked her for being a good friend to me. We were both surprised at my words, and then together found the truth in them. We rejoiced at the wonder of our mutual children, they had arrived to be in her care, in various numbers, at various times, disturbed by the divorce and the separations, wounded, angry, confused, hurt, troubled, and needy, and she and her family (she was childless) had gathered them in. They all called her father, “Gramps”, and her mother, “Grams”…We giggled together projecting our grand children into adult hood and imagining ourselves in our ‘70’s and ‘80’s being great grandma’s together, along with Wonder Woman who all the children adore, also being part of the picture, too. What is obvious is how the possibility of family has changed from 1936, to now. What has stayed constant is that elusive and transitory wonder, unconditional love. This was our new moment.