Monday, February 25, 2013

Windy Monday

It's super windy here, which I generally like, but  Ruth and Liam found it too windy even to fly kites.  When I went out to KK's little house to wake her this morning Liam's swing on the pecan tree was swinging as if giving a ghost baby a ride - both amusing and a little eerie.  This afternood I heard that thereare major fires south of Manor where Chris teaches and also north of town, making the highway is so smoky it was  hard to see.  Ruth saw seven fire trucks while out and about today and there are branches down all over and have been significant but not overwhelming power outages.I hope this wind doesn't lead to much destruction and death.
Bob and KK and I went to a school board meeting this cold windy evening to hold up signs and thank the board for putting a proposal for a designated dance facility with an appropriate safe for the knees floor at the arts high school into the next bond proposal. It was a new experience for me, my first school board meeting, and a chance to see KK very grown up with her dancer friends, figuring out ...where we should sit and holding up her 'thank you" sign enthusiastically. I was especially impressed with her managing all of this on a day whe her pain level was very high. I put her to bed after the meeting like a little girl and felt an overflowing tenderness for her. I also felt gratitude for having the opportunities - like going to the school board meeting - a second time around because she is in our life on a daily basis. I think the co housing, having her and Liam in the family, keeps me feeling younger than I would in a family without every day children.
Dorothy quote of the day is "The only response to feedback, whether one likes it or not is 'thank you'. No defensiveness in ths presence of criticism or complaints. No deflecting or minimizing praise. Just "Thank you." Later internally one can evaluate the feedback, run it by one's inner mirrors, decide what to act on and what isn't a match, but in the moment the only answer to feedback is "thank you". I have fond memories of Dorothy, at summer workshops playfully tossing a funny stuffed turkey (the turkey award) to anyone who argued with feedback, especially throwing away compliments.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


It's the Jewish holiday of Purim - started last night. It's a holiday during which we are supposed to take ourselves lightly, laugh at ourselves, understand that trying hard to get everything right doesn't always do it. So people dress up in crazy costumes and read prayer services backward. We do all kinds of crazy things to mix up reality and pride a little. Last night life did that for me wit...hout any effort on my part. Bob and I went to the symphony and , as we headed back to our seats after intermission the turquoise silk balloon pants I was wearing fell right down around my ankles. Fortunately the embroidered Indian tunic I was wearing over them was midcalf length and I hitched them up so fast even Bob didn't see what happened. But still, it was a good Purim lesson for me. I lost my pants in public and the world didn't even blink.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Circle of Life

It is the first birthday of Micha Jaasma, the youngest Member of thriving family.  She is walking, charging ahead, soaking the world in with huge blue eyes.  Heidi has been dead almost five months.  A year ago she knew how bad her cancer was, but she was still planning and enjoying hikes, loving and laughing, cherishing each day and hoping for a miracle. A year ago my friend Mary,known as Chia died unexpectedly, after a long rich life.  Two days ago my mentor Dorothy Satten died after a long life which she lived fully, richly, generously until she was all used up.  I recognise the ebbing and flowing, waxing and waning of life force around me and within me.  None of us knows how long we have, who we'll see again and who we won't.  I want so badly to live this way, fully present in every moment, but I don't.  I get distracted and don't do the most important things first.  I leave "I love you", "Thank you." "I'm sorry." unsaid.  Perfection is impossible even in mindfulness. 

If you don't reveal yourself....

Today's Dorothy quote is "If you don't reveal yourself, people will invent you." This one really influenced me to be more transparent in my communications and behavior. I find it so true. It's so easy to tell myself stories, sometimes negative or critical, about what motivates another person or what she is feeling or thinking. When that person tells me what's really up, I find the story I've .invented is almost always a little (or a lot) off the mark. Human communication is hard enough, really knowing each other is hard enough, without having to interact with a made up character who has made me up. I want to be clear that I'm not talking about full immediate disclosure of everything that's ever happened to me, just an authentic presentation of what's going on with me in the moment - like telling a client, on a day when I'm tired, that I am unexpectedly tired from staying up too late helping KK with homework, rather than letting them think I'm bored with them or burned out or somehow terribly sick.

Friday, February 22, 2013

If you don't change direction...

For the next few days I want to share some of the pieces of wisdom I got from Dorothy Satten, the helpful quotes that run through my head as I live my life. The first is "If you don't change direction you get where you're headed." Fast, slow, dancing, crawling, hopping, enthusiastic or fighting and screaming, the mode doesn't change the destination But turning your feet just a degree changes it dramatically.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Death of Dorothy Satten

One of the wisest and kindest (as well as most brilliant and effective) people I have known and learned from died yesterday. I remember she used to say that when she died she wanted to be all used up - to not have held back but to have lived and been generous with all she knew and was. She sure did that. I don't go three hours most days without applying a life lesson she taught me. And I know I'm one of many. Thank you Dorothy. You were and ever remain a blessing.

Dorothy and her husband Mort taught me invaluable psycho drama techniques.  They taught me so much more though, about how to live and love and work and play. They,along with Martha Perkins and Carl Kirsch, are my professional "parents" and I will honor them always.  I regret that I didn't continue my relationships with them more actively after my period of studying with them was over.  I hope I gave enough love and appeciation back to people who truly helped me build the life I have today.

Among the lighter lessons I learned from Dorothy were how to wear a beautiful shawl with grace, that I can wear my hair long as long as I please, and not to pat people when I hug them.  Just to hold on.  I'm holding on to my memories of both her and Mort today and feeling the glow of rememberance more than the sadness of loss.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hope and action 5

The "don't forget to sing in the lifeboats" quote has been staying with me. I'd love to hear some stories of how some of you, or people in your lives, manage to connect with the strength of life force when plans have been shattered and directions changed against your plans. My example of the rainy day birthday was a small scale example. I think maybe much of the living richly and not comes in the extent to which we are able to stay in touch with life force (song) in big and small ways when the tide turns against us. I can see KK doing this right now, working so hard to keep sleep, exercise, eating, medicine taking and attitude in order to deal with a diagnosis that tests her dance dreams and her quality of life. I sure saw Joe and Heidi turn to the mountains and each other to find joy and strength while fighting cancer. I wonder how and in what circumstances other people do it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hard days

Some days are harder than others for no good reason. I keep tripping over my feet schedule wise today at work and it embarrasses me. Sometimes trying harder doesn't make performance better, which I hate. Real is better than perfect. Really. Got to remember that today. Real is better than perfect.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Hope and action 4

Hope and action 4 - Voltaire wrote "Life is a shipwreck and don't gorget to sing in the lifeboats." That seems very true and helpful to me. I don't know many people (maybe a few) whose lives have gone as expected without some major detours and shipwrecks along the way. Mine sure hasn't. I like the idea of singing in the lifeboats, finding the joy and maybe not always joy, maybesometimes a sad or angry song but a song all the same , wherever we find ourselves. Avery light example of this phenomenon occured today with Liam's fourth birthday party, which was outside at the park, four families with four four year olds and a two year old. It rained, and then didn't and then did agan. The helium balloons on which Ruth had carefully painted faces, all fell to the ground when the barometric pressure dropped. We pitched a tent, hid the food under the picnic tables, brought towels from home, and everybody had a great and memorable time. It would have been so easy to have let the weather "ruin" the party.

Friday, February 08, 2013

First Hint of Spring

I expect another freeze, but the first hints of spring are present here. I saw my second redbud blossms today, just a few on one tree across the street, still shy, and the earliest white buds on a few fruit trees. The rain has fallen off and on all day and the earth soaks it up.

Awareness (easy times)

Today was not a great day for awareness.  It was the kind of day on which I tend to say "i'm chasing my tail."  Nothing was wrong except that I was never truly present in any moment.  I half watched Liam as he showed me break dance moves and ate my dinner without tasting it. I thought about how to answer Bob before I heard what he was telling me. And I realised that I got by with that kind of sloppy awareness because nothing really hard happened today.  I coasted because I could.. In the hardest times we slog through,  foot in front of foot, every effort conscious.  I didn't apply that kind of intense mindfulness  today.  I don't think I apply it enough in general  in easy times. So I trip over my feet and get too easily distracted, startled, ahead of myself.  My resolve is to apply awareness even when it isn't absolutely essential to avoid falling on my face. My goal is to remember to take one step at a time even when the waxing moon rises bright and the wind chimes sing of springtime.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Hope and Action 3

 I'm reading more in "learned optimism" and thinking about the sentence "The very thought "Nothing I can do matters" prevents us from acting. This hits home especially because KK just read Elie Wiesel's holocaust story, "Night" for school and wrote an essay about why it matters if we stand up to what we see as harmful acts on personal, community, and global levels. It touched me to sit with her as she came up with examples, like avoiding and countering gossip, that a teen can take to prevent victimization of others in daily life.

Action for what we perceive to be good has always been a high value in our family, and it never really occured to me that one could feel that personal actions didn't matter. I feel a little more empathy tonight with people who don't pick up litter when walking in the neighborhood or don't write that letter to the editor that they feel needs writing or speak up to protect a weaker person who is being treated unjustly. I am so fortunate to have been raised to believe my actions make a difference even though every action doesn't bear immediate or visible fruit every time.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


Bob and I are up way too late but happy, doing a good deed. The whole family was struck by a bag for contributions left on our door this afternoon. We get these from time to time, usually for the local food bank. This time the not on the bag said "We don't want your money, just your shoes, any size, any condition." for shoeless people in Africa. I only had two extra pairs of shoes, gewnerally ...keeping myself to just a pair per season plus western boots and hiking shoes, but Bob had a trunk full of old shoes and now they are all out on the porch in bags ready to go. A skeptical part of my mind wonders how they are going to get to Africa and how much it will cost to get them there, and we do take shoes and clothes to local resale shops regularly, but somehow this felt right. The children in our house went through their shoes and really didn't have extra - one pair of outgrown choir shoes from KK, but I liked the directness of their being able to try to make a gift of their own, as concrete as shoes.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Good moment

KK felt better after class than before and left with her Daddy smiling and all caught up with everything. I worked all afternoon and feel good about progress, including successfully using a hack saw on some big branches. Bob and i walked dogs together. Chris is cooking for us now. It feels good in the house at this moment.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Hope and Action 2

 I like the definition of optimism I'm getting from "Learned Optimism" that optimism isn't believing that nothing bad will happen but that when it does one will not be powerless but able to cope. That fits the way I think. Believing bad stuff won't happen just feels stupid. Bad stuff and good stuff both happen every day. Believing I can cope and learn and hopefully use all experiences however difficult for good does feel reassuring, like something real to hold onto. I had never thought of that "can cope" attitude as being a definition of optimism.


Weekend is starting after a sweet shabbat service last night. KK is up working on a last math assignment with Bob and otherwise caught up, able to go to dance class with her favorite teachers and will spend most of the weekend with her Daddy. I want to spend this time helpful around the house and catching up with my own writing and thoughts.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Hope and action - 1

 With KK ill I'm making February "hope and action" month regarding my musings. I like that this phase is starting at midwinter, half way from winter solstice to the first day of spring. I'm ready to move toward flowers. I am starting to read the book "Learned Optimism" and love the quote at the beginning

yes is a world

& in this world of

yes live

(skillfully curled)

all worlds

ee cummings

"love is a place"


Hope and Action

Hope and action - 1 - With KK ill I'm making March "hope and action" month regarding my musings. I like that this phase is starting at midwinter, half way from winter solstice to the first day of spring. I'm ready to move toward flowers. I am starting to read the book "Learned Optimism" and love the quote at the beginning

yes is a world

& in this world of

yes live

(skillfully curled)

all worlds

ee cummings

"love is a place"