Get 20% off my
Introduction to Coaching Package

Would meditation have helped?

Who really knows the exact moment when frazzled turns into completely chaotic? But it is bound to happen every so often even to the most organized and composed. Since I began to meditate which for me is more a matter of slowing down and being mindful, those moments rarely happen. When they do, they are considerably shorter and less intense. But then it happened. A handful of things collided and I spiraled into a massive state of anxiety that left me feeling totally overwhelmed and out of control. It’s a state of mind that makes me shiver when I recall it.

I was traveling to Washington, DC and everything was going as planned. I got to the airport in a timely manner, parked my car in exactly the place I was shown in a prior test run. Yes, a test run to the parking lot LOL. Being as I am, totally and completely directionally impaired, test-runs are the norm in my life. I arrived at the airport early enough to grab an over-priced sandwich with wilted lettuce which at the very least, balanced my blood sugar. I took the right plane, got off at the right metro stop, checked into my hotel, met my son, had a perfect dinner and got a nearly full night’s sleep.

But then it happened. One day prior to when I was to return home I noted on my United Airlines app that I was being “checked-in” for my flight. This app offers a wonderfully easy way to check-in on-line and get your boarding pass right on your phone. Love it! Except when it isn’t working—when it is checking me in for a flight I am not supposed to be on—a day earlier. O.K., no problem as I quickly get on my laptop and attempt to change the flight. But no sooner had I completed the change a message follows that the change in flight could not be processed. My laptop runs out of power. And then I discover I have left my charger at home.

I dial the airline while simultaneously making my way through the mall that is attached to my hotel, feeling grateful that it is also home to an Apple store. I purchase the charger (given to me by an Apple salesperson). It is only after I have paid that a customer service representative from United gets on the call. This, of course speaks volumes about customer service but that is beyond the scope of this piece. Back at the hotel, I learn that the salesperson has given me the wrong charger. I discover this at the same time I discover I’ve lost my cellphone. Needless to say the morning is not going well.

As things turned out, my reservation had gone through and lucky me was booked on the only flight available—7:10 a.m. I am not a morning person. This flight required that I be on the airport shuttle at 5:30 a.m. I arrive on time; get on my flight, land, only to find that the plane has come into a different terminal. All my pre-planning and the test-run are suddenly for naught. I have to find the air train to take me to the right terminal and hope I have taken enough visual notes to get me out the right exit, and to the right parking lot. Success! Almost in my car. Almost home I think. But no we are still a couple of stops away from losing it (my mind). I have lost my parking lot ticket—no doubt having mistaken it for the used metro card that I had thrown out in an effort to keep my handbag organized. 45 minutes later I am allowed to leave the parking lot without having to turn over my first-born in exchange for my ticket out.

I wish I could tell you that the story ends there but as luck would not have it, I can’t. I arrive home only to find that we have no heat in our house. I promptly sit on our kitchen floor, let out a blood-curdling scream (I can do this because no one is home to scare the hell out of) and cry a few exhausted tears. And then I get on with the business of solving the heat problem.

I swear I believe in the power of meditation and it has changed my life. But in all honesty there are moments in life that call for kicking, screaming and crying. Hopefully, you are alone somewhere when you let loose and you can, if you want, tell someone your story and convince them that meditation got you through.

Posted in Health & Wellness, Just Fun Things, Personal Growth | Leave a comment

Making Time For A Personal Retreat

Every year I try to make plans for a get-away. Not a girlfriend weekend or a spa day but an away place by myself. The first few hours or even the first day is always great. I find myself skipping to the local coffee place journal in hand. I can spend two hours just sitting, writing and sketching. I feel freer as my head empties of all the usual have-to’s that include the have-to’s that I actually enjoy. Just being away from the house, the chores, the telephone and ordinary responsibilities help me see the world in a different way.

I feel myself open more profoundly as the everydayness of life slips away. It’s a rare opportunity to look inward and watch with complete awareness the emotions that surface. When you are away and alone and can’t procrastinate feeling, something changes internally. You see with eyes that are clearer and more honest. An array of feelings, perhaps a view of the ups and downs that are part of all of our experience—we don’t notice them as much when we are “busy”. We can always get away from the parts of ourselves that would be sad and anxious when there are real things to do and get accomplished.

Alone time is enormously important to me and I am really good about taking that time for myself. But there is something quite different about the alone time when I am actually away from home and my daily life—when I can’t let the laundry or a mandatory dog walk take me away from myself. At home I don’t feel that sense of elation that comes with being away. I don’t have the feeling of freedom that helps me shed all the surface protection. In those away moments all I have are my journal, my pens and myself.  I also have sadness, fear and anxiety. And I know it’s all right and good even when it’s uncomfortable.

I am nearing the time of my yearly retreat. No place has presented itself that calls to me. A few have seemed interesting but are prohibitively expensive. I often like to have a workshop piggyback my retreat—something that facilitates the self-awareness that I look forward to (really, truly). I covet the bits of sadness. I treasure the opportunity to be honest with myself and to assess where I am in my life and ask myself where I want to be? I’m not getting younger so it seems more important than ever to check-in with myself.

Tips For Planning Your Retreat:

1. You don’t have to go far

2. Check with a friend who might be away for the weekend and will let you use their place

3. Take an extra day or two if you have to travel for business

4. If you have some flexibility with time Expedia, Travelocity and Hotels.com offer great deals on hotel rooms off-season. A Bed and Breakfast at the beach can be ridiculously inexpensive in the late fall or early spring

5. Don’t wait until you are totally burnt out and exhausted

And now for the really important question: Where should I go? All suggestions are welcome!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sometimes a Mani-Pedi is the “Cure” You Need

I swish my feet around in the mossy waters of the Penobscot Bay in Rockland, Maine. My toes are carefully navigating rough, moss-coated rocks. As I slosh about in the bay, a photographer clicks away at the shutter. Yes, I am taking pictures of my feet. You may be thinking that I have some weird foot fetish— I don’t.

I am very serious about my feet and my toenails in particular. I have painted them in a multitude of colors and although I have not yet had the inclination to paint them blue or purple, who knows what the future will bring? I have buried my toes in the sandy beaches of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Mexico, Costa Rica, St. Martin, Greece and Israel. At this very moment, they are dreaming of Bali.

I have felt earth and grass beneath my feet. I have danced at my wedding and at the Bar Mitzvahs of my two sons. I have slid my feet under the covers and felt the silkiness of Egyptian cotton sheets. I have also dragged my despairing self and soul to the nail salon on days when it would have been far easier to pull the covers over my head and retreat for days. Over the years my toes have become my symbol of hope and light. I’m not sure why but it has felt incredibly helpful to me to see something pretty and colorful when I look down. In the worst and I mean the worst moments of my life, I have found the strength to seek and find just the right color.

I broke my toe last year, which caused a bit of dismay. I had nice feet until the fourth toe on my left foot broke (thank you dog toy that looked innocent until my toe slammed into it). I now have a crooked thing that used to be my perfectly formed toe. It aches when I’m on my feet too long. It yells “NO” when I try to squeeze it into narrow shoes with pointy toes. And when I stub it—again, I go into a full body grimace. My toe, I’ve been told will never really get completely better.

The day before my sister-in-law’s funeral I went and had a manicure and pedicure. It felt weird and disrespectful but I was compelled to do it. The last time I saw my sister-in-law she had lifted my hands and looked at my feet and in her brusque way stated, “No polish?” “You don’t do polish anymore?”  “You used to have such nice hands.”  At her funeral, I held up my hands as if they were a champagne glass and said, simply, “These are for you, I wanted you to be proud of me.”

There’s been a lot of research done on smiling. Researchers say that if you can muster up a smile, your mood changes. You feel more motivated, more optimistic and more productive. I think my pedicures perform for me in a similar vein. Don’t think for a minute that I am suggesting my pedicure ritual as a cure for depression—Mental health issues are in a completely different realm. There have been many times in my life when if smiling and a pedicure had been suggested as a cure I would have gone berserk. I’m thinking about the blues rather than the deep, dense black of sadness and depression. If you are feeling anything like that, reach out for a trained professional.

My toes remind me of weddings, parties, summers, vacations, depression and funerals. In the midst of long, hard days, I choose a color and stop moving. I place my hands and feet into the hands of a stranger. “Relax”, she says feeling the tension in my fingers. And sometimes it’s difficult, really, really difficult to just let go but eventually I do. So don’t be surprised if you see pictures of my toes on my website because my toes have been a lot of places and have their own stories (bent, crooked, aching and colorful) and if we are blessed— Well, we still have a whole lot more traveling to do.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Keeping A Journal Is Easier Than You Think!

I have been keeping a journal since the third grade when my “old” (she was probably 40) teacher, Mrs. Shackman let us choose from a pile of colored composition books. I took to the art of journaling immediately and poured my heart and soul out in perfect penmanship. Although we had to turn those journals in every Friday (to be returned on Monday), Mrs. Shackman assured us that our journals were ours and private. I still believed her and honestly, I didn’t have a lot to write or report on that was particularly exciting. But as the days, months and years passed, my journals took on a rather sophisticated level of introspection. I began to take detailed notes of everything I encountered from nature to human interactions. I wrote about love and how people communicated with one another—and didn’t. I wrote about a lack of love, pain and terror. When I re-read my early journals much later in my life it was incredibly clear that I knew at a very early age that I wanted to help people. But it took me thirty years to clear the way to becoming what I knew at nine.

Journals are my personal books of knowledge. I journal regularly (not necessarily daily). I don’t set up a forced schedule, I just try to make some type of entry weekly. At the end of each month I read what I have written. Some months I am very much an alien to myself while in others I find uncensored clarity—what I yearn for, what is stressing me out, who or what amused me, touched me, put a smile on my face or made me cry. Did I do something I loved? Did some great idea strike me? Did I sleep well? Eat well? Information about me and how I am living my life finds its way onto the pages of my journal.

I find journaling to be an incredible way to keep moving and also be still—I’m at my very best when I am able to do both.

About three months ago I started a new system of journaling. I organized a single journal into three sections using different colored tabs. I did this as a way to take the pressure off myself to write in a specific way. Here are my three sections but yours can be anything you choose.

Words:  Some days I write a bunch of random words that somehow express how I’m feeling. Or I choose words that I like the sound of. Is there a word you would use to describe yourself? What word would others use to describe you? Some days I just write a single word and close the journal. Later I might go back to that day’s entry and write some more about one word or another.

Have I done something I loved today? What is it? Is there something you would have liked to do? What was it? Did you say “NO” to something that you might have wanted to do?  If you look back a month later and see that you haven’t done a single thing you loved during the month—it’s time to re-evaluate.

Struggling. Work, people, emotions. We have hours, days, months and some of us have had years that are incredibly challenging. Some of my entries are like this—”Today I struggled with getting my day started.” An entry like this might lead me to share why I was struggling or I might just jot down some notes about what I might try to move myself along in the day.

At any time you can add tabs, change tabs or have multiple journals. I look at my journals as an opportunity to learn what’s happening in my life because while I am actively living it, I am often not still enough to really see it. The most essential thing about journaling is to let go of having to write something big or important or to confine yourself to having to write a certain amount. Making it “big” often results in not keeping a journal at all. And one more thing—don’t confine yourself to putting words on a page in complete sentences. Forget grammar and penmanship. Use different colored pens. Make a mess! Remember your journal is for your eyes only.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Ways To Keep A Journal

I have been keeping a journal since the third grade when my “old” (she was probably 40) teacher, Mrs. Shackman let us choose from a pile of colored composition books. I took to the art of journaling immediately. I pour my heart and soul out in carefully scripted lines. Mrs. Shackman told us that the journals were for our own eyes (we had to turn them in every Friday and she returned them on Monday) I believed her anyway. I didn’t have much that was exciting to write or report on in that first journal. But as the days, months and years passed, my journals took on a rather sophisticated level of introspection. I began to take detailed notes of everything I encountered from nature to human interactions. I wrote of love and communication. And lack of love, pain and terror. It is incredibly clear is that I knew at a very early age that I wanted to help people. It took me thirty years to clear the way to becoming what I knew at nine.

Journals are my personal books of knowledge. I journal regularly (not necessarily daily). I don’t set up a forced schedule, I just try to make some type of entry weekly. At the end of each month I read what I have written. Some months I am very much an alien to myself while in others I find uncensored clarity—what I yearn for, what is stressing me out, who or what amused me, touched me, put a smile on my face or made me cry. Did I do something I loved? Did some great idea strike me? Did I sleep well? Eat well? Information about me and how I am living my life finds its way onto the pages of my journal.

I find journaling to be an incredible way to keep me moving and also still—I’m at my very best when I am able to do both.

About three months ago I started a new system of journaling. I organized a single journal into three sections using different colored tabs. I did this as a way to take the pressure off myself to write in a specific way. Here are my three sections but yours can be anything you choose.

Words:  Some days I write a bunch of random words that somehow express how I’m feeling. Or I choose words that I like the sound of. Is there a word you would use to describe yourself? What word would others use to describe you? Some days I just write a single word and close the journal. Later I might go back to that day’s entry and write some more about one word or another.

Have I done something I loved today? What is it? Is there something you would have liked to do? What was it? Did you say “NO” to something that you might have wanted to do?  If you look back a month later and see that you haven’t done a single thing you loved during the month—it’s time to re-evaluate.

Struggling. Work, people, emotions. We have hours, days, months and some of us have had years that are incredibly challenging. Some of my entries are like this—”Today I struggled with getting my day started.” An entry like this might lead me to share why I was struggling or I might just jot down some notes about what I might try to move myself along in the day.

At any time you can add tabs, change tabs or have multiple journals. I look at my journals as an opportunity to learn what’s happening in my life because while I am living it I am often not still enough to really see it. The most essential thing about journaling is to let go of having to write something big or important or to confine yourself to having to write a certain amount. Making it “big” often results in not keeping a journal at all. And one more thing—don’t confine yourself to putting words on a page in complete sentences. Forget grammar and penmanship. Use different colored pens. Make a mess! Remember your journal is for your eyes only.

 

Posted in Creativity, Personal Growth | Leave a comment

Using Your Creativity To Help You Make Changes

I’m taking an intuitive painting class on line. Intuitive painting is the process by which you paint freely and wait for images to present themselves. You arrive at the blank page with no preconceived notions about what you want to appear. In fact you discourage that piece of yourself that would press at you to put just about anything on the canvas just to have somewhere to begin. Instead you scribble and doodle and paint large stripes of color that look like the paintings children do in pre-school. You even use your hands!

I’m an intuitive painter myself so this isn’t an entirely new idea. But I can get into a rut and stay in a style comfort zone. Even intuitive painters often see the same images in their canvasses resurface again and again. I’m inclined to see women’s faces. A face is generally my starting point. I’m looking to open myself to new ideas and images. It’s a challenge for me as an artist. It’s a challenge for all of us as people. New is difficult. New is uncomfortable. New is unknown. New can be messy.  But taking an occasional leap of faith is the only way to move forward and expand your own place of knowing. If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.

You don’t have to be an artist to try these simple exercises—in fact most women I work with consider themselves “non-creatives” but that’s a whole other subject. Intuitive painting brings you closer to that little person you were—before the universe kicked in and told you what you were not good at.  It’s an incredible opportunity to explore all those inner censors and critics and duel them to the ground.

People from my class post their works in progress everyday. I find myself a bit intimidated. Even in the early stages of painting some people’s work is extraordinarily beautiful. I have a sludgy mess on my two canvasses. Some people break the rules and add other colors. I’m following the directions to a tee. Thus far only reds, oranges, yellows, blues and greens are permitted.  I’m not a blue and green person but my canvas is decidedly blue and green. I’m struggling with it. I have to remind myself to trust the process.

Maybe I tell myself I’m not really as talented as some of these others?  Maybe I follow the rules too much? I’m impatient. I don’t always trust the process. And I am way more attached to the product than I imagined I was. I need to let some of the intensity go. This class is not about the art! It’s about me and meeting my inner demons and making friends with them.

As a coach and counselor as well as an artist I am always on the lookout for tools and techniques to help women explore in fun and imaginative ways. I’m all about engaging both the right and the left brain in the process. Before I engage in anything creative, I set an intention for the moment. I allow myself to stray but I create a starting point for my adventure.

Here’s a few ways to start your own adventure:

  • Purchase a journal with heavy weight paper that will accept liquid (like water colors)
  • Additional journal for writing
  • 1 glue stick
  • 1 set of inexpensive watercolors and paintbrushes
  • Scissors
  • At least 3 different colored markers

 

Draw a circle in the middle of your first journal page. Now write a word in the middle of your circle (it can be anything that comes to your mind). You can also cut out a word from a magazine or newspaper, or cut letters and paste them into the middle to create your word. Now start doodling. You can add shapes within the circle. You can add more words in the circle. You can make more circles in and out of the circle. Use the different markers to do the doodles. Use the watercolors to paint in the shapes or color in the background of the page.

Stop when you feel you are done. Or if you find it difficult to get started or feel your censors pressing at you, set a timer for a certain amount of time to do this exercise. Close your book.  Ask yourself one question: How do I feel? Exercises like this ARE NOT about the art. In order to grow we all need to know what’s keeping us from growing. It’s only then can we begin to work through the obstacles we face within ourselves. Instinctively I know that my sludgy green canvas will become something but it’s a challenge to keep working on it. It would be much easier to start with a fresh white canvas and draw a familiar face. I gently remind myself when I feel anxious that something new will emerge which is exactly what I am looking for.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you after you do this exercise. Feel free to email me and check out more tips and blogs about exploration, change and reinvention.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post, Tweet, Pin, Oh My!

Dos this not remind you of the game Boggle?

I have to begin this post but sharing how difficult it is to have a whole other career while you are trying to make your way in this vast and confusing new world of social media. While I wasn’t completely in the dark when I began this journey six months ago, what I did know is somewhat laughable to me now. I impressed only myself that I actually did know what the social media icons on my blog page stood for. But I had no clue how to productively and efficiently do anything with them. They looked pretty. They looked important. They made it seem as if I knew what I was doing.

I jumped in headfirst and did all the things newbies do— too much, too fast, too chaotic and generally ineffective. I read a lot (I have insomnia so I have time. You can check out a recent blog post for more info on that subject) and I’ve gotten some coaching.  Still, it’s a mammoth undertaking with new tools turning up at record speed. I applaud you, in fact I’m giving a standing ovation at this very moment to the people who I recognize and experience as truly mastering it.

In my first month out I was composing tweets and posts at all hours of the night and morning.  I was also reading and commenting on the posts of others. I was trying to learn the etiquette while also faking some amount of mastery. In my first two months out there, I wrote 6-8 blog posts per week. I tweeted at least 10 times per day and on some days as many as 20 times. I did hours of research during my off hours (between 1-3 a.m.). It didn’t take long at all before my head felt like a lotto machine and I was spitting out my thoughts in 140 characters or less.

My life became a series of tweets, pins and posts!

Just as I was beginning to feel like a can of alphabet soup, I came down with a strange virus—I have my suspicions that I had just run out of characters and needed a new alphabet. I couldn’t turn my head off for a minute – fitting in tweets between clients and making lists of potentially awesome blog posts. While all very interesting, I was burning out quickly.

I want every bit of content to be meaningful and I REALLY read people’s tweets and blog posts. I’m not interested in building a following of people who have no interest in getting to know me as well. I rarely self-promote and never, ever thank a new twitter follower with a sales pitch of my own. I quickly learned that I detested this and vowed never to do it. I haven’t!

It’s incredibly overwhelming at times to try and wade through the infinite amounts of information and conflicting data that’s out there. I’m never quite sure what I’m supposed to do or learn. I haven’t enough skill or clue (yet) about the timing of posts, how to maximize SEO or really the whole analytic thing. I still can’t keep up with the twitter chats —my fingers just can’t fly across the keyboard the way other people’s seem to. Some days I really want to join in but I know I’m not ready. And I continuously ask myself where I am going with this? I still don’t know.

I’ve gotten more measured in my tweets and posts, scaled the tweets down to a more manageable amount. I aim to write three good blog posts each week and thus far I’m able to do that without a lot of stress. I want to thank the bloggers out there for their great posts and to my followers who freely share information and tips. This, I am learning is what I love most—people do want to share what they know.

And just as I was beginning to feel as if things were getting under control—I discovered Pinterest!  It’s a right brained, creative type person’s greatest dream and biggest nightmare. I’m now armed with a lot more information and six months of experience behind me. I’m hoping that my loyal followers will stage an intervention if they see me going pin crazy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

4 Simple Questions That Can Help You Make A Change

I often use Madonna, the songstress and marketing genius (not mother to Jesus, Madonna) as a metaphor for describing my inclination to change things up in my life without a moment’s hesitation. As soon as it becomes clear to me that something in my life isn’t working (or isn’t fun anymore), I have to make a change.

I refuse to live an unhappy life.

Change evokes a lot of anxiety in people. Many get a vision of waking up in a place they don’t know, around people they have never met. Financial insecurity is often at stake. It can feel lonely and scary.

But change doesn’t have to be completely life altering. More often than not it is about clearing a path, trimming some branches, and giving your senses space to roam. The key to making change is to start slowly and take baby steps.

Ask yourself 4 simple questions.

1.What is it you wanted to be in the third grade?

I wanted to be an actress, singer, writer and poet.

2.What is the loveliest town you have ever been in?

I’ve traveled quite a bit so there’s a lot of competition here. I gravitate towards New England and places on the water.

3. Where is the place you feel most at home?

I like the view from the top of mountain but I don’t like heights, which can pose a bit of a problem. I need to get driven up a mountain and then have some type of rails to hold onto. Then I relax and breathe it all in. I love sitting by the ocean and swimming but the temperature of the water needs to rise to around 80° LOL.

4.What would you do with a free hour? Read and write

These are simple questions but your answers may give you some interesting information about yourself. My own responses suggest a clear desire (if not need) for quiet and solitude. I have to build that time in to whatever I do. Generally when I am out of sorts it is because I don’t give myself that time.

We do not stop to ask ourselves enough questions.

Day after day we live our routines. Bored, tired and even completely miserable, it’s easier to keep doing what you are doing than take a leap of faith (in yourself).  I’m not suggesting you change everything but even one tiny change, one shift in your body and your thinking and the view is entirely different.

Try this: Stand still for a few seconds and look straight ahead. Now shift your head to the left and then to the right. Move a few steps. Notice anything? More often than not a few creative, thoughtful changes can pave the way to a happier and more peaceful way of being.

Change and reinvention has always been my way. I have lost track of the careers I’ve had but every single one of them has contributed in a positive way. No job or venture was ever bad. I’ve learned that both success and failure have their places because we learn from everything— from what we love to all that we loathe.

I am still fairly confident as a fifty-plus woman that I have many more changes in me. I have no idea what those future projects will look like or what the inspiration for a change will be. But I know I will continue to recreate and reinvent even if those changes become exponentially smaller. It’s what keeps the energy flowing.

Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness, Personal Growth | Leave a comment

Why Can’t I Sit Under A Tree And Talk To God?

My husband and I spent this Yom Kippur alone. It was probably the first time in our lives that we have done so. There were many reasons for this—some circumstances, others by choice. Our sons are scattered around the country, my husband’s travel schedule landed him back in town just before Kol Nidre began, we no longer belong to a synagogue and as it turned out, I had the stomach flu.

I have a long and confused history with my Judaism that has more to do with the formal practice than anything else. But when the holidays arrive that confusion rears its head and I feel a mixture of dread, guilt and longing. They do not play nicely.

I love being Jewish. I have never, ever wanted to be anything else. But I cannot connect to the teachings or the pomp and circumstance that seemed, in my younger years to run parallel with the practice of religion. Buying new clothes, dressing up in your finest and making a trip to the safety deposit box for your best jewelry, etc. seemed contradictory to the struggles and plight of our people. And so I struggled.

There was a time when I looked to the High Holy days as a time for contemplation and quiet. It signaled the beginning of a new season, a time of color and freshness. I loved the family closeness and walking to Temple with my sons. I also remember my 4 year-old-son sitting under a tree on our front lawn and adamantly refusing to attend services. He said simply, “I hate that building and I’m not going.” That building was our Temple. He went on to point out that the new khaki’s and button down shirt were stiff and uncomfortable and he wasn’t sitting “so long in stupid clothes.” But most poignant and real—out of his little boy mouth spilled this question: “If God is everywhere, why can’t I sit under this tree and talk to him from here?” I had no answer.

As I developed a disciplined meditation practice, I struggled more with practicing Judaism in a formal way. I still have no idea if the two are related. I gravitate to Buddhism while never considering any more than a sliver of the practice. The teachings call to me in a way that the formal practice of Judaism does not. “…When you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and the benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” This quote has been attributed to BUDDHA. I like it. I share in its wisdom.

Sharon Salzburg co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass., and has taught spirituality and meditation for 35 years. She is Jewish by birth and has never disconnected from her Jewish roots and its traditions. But she could never really relate to the teachings and religious practice. When asked why so many Jews have become “meditation gurus”? She writes: “My generation of Jewish people often had quite secular upbringings, and there was a spiritual longing that wasn’t finding a form within Judaism.” Maybe this has something to do with my own lack of connection or disconnection.

But I missed the celebration of the New Year, my family and the closeness this year. On the eve of Kol Nidre, I yearned for the voice of the Cantor, the incomparable haunting, loveliness of the Kol Nidre prayer. I missed the tradition of it all; the long walks in the fall air and the acknowledgment of being Jewish. I do not know how to reconcile my disconnection with my yearning for the family traditions. I do know how to be present for the Cantor’s song and leave soon after. The prayer pierces my soul for reasons unknown but it calls for attention and fulfillment. I vow next year to do it all differently although I have no idea what that different will look like. It seems I have made my first resolution of the New Year.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Surprise, I want a divorce!

It’s an all too common scenario—an epidemic of sorts. Midlife women who seem to wake up one morning and decide they are miserable in their marriages.  In weeks, they are off to see an attorney about ending their long-term marriages (I’m referring to the twenty-plus years of marriage, marriages).

No, not so fast! It isn’t quite like that although when I hear some people weigh in on it you could easily mistake that for what’s happening.

I was 27 the evening my husband came home from having an after work drink with our next-door neighbor. “You are not going to believe what Suzanne (not her real name) did to Jim (not his real name either),” he said. He went on to tell me that Suzanne had come home from work and was scrambling eggs (truly what was relayed). And poor Jim was just sitting, reading the newspaper. Out of nowhere (really?) Suzanne said, “I’m feeling really good about my life. I have my Ph.D. and I just got a good job. The only thing that would make it better is if you moved out!”

The way my husband told it Jim responded to this announcement with total shock, and was caught totally unaware by Suzanne’s announcement. He had grabbed his coat, without saying a work and walked out the door Do you hear the alarms going off?

At 27, I already knew that a lot was missing from this story but what really perplexed me was that my husband was clueless. He had actually taken the story word for word (I’m sure the events he described happened) and was shocked at Suzanne’s “surprise” behavior. He couldn’t imagine how anyone could do something like that to someone they supposedly loved. Suzanne was immediately labeled “that evil woman.”

The true story: Suzanne had tried to get her “nice” but totally disconnected husband to counseling. He had refused to go. According to him their relationship was fine and he wasn’t discussing his personal life with a stranger. Suzanne wanted to talk but Jim said his days in the office were really stressful and all he wanted to do when he came home was unwind and read the paper. “Could they talk over the weekend?” He asked. 260 weekends passed— still no conversation, no plan, and no change.

Suzanne had begun a new career at 40 and was soaring by 50. Jim was sitting in the family room watching a lot of TV. Often she would look over the kitchen island to the man sitting on his chair reading or watching TV.  She had spent 5 years trying to get him to connect with her. Now, confused, miserable and feeling guilty as hell, she finally made the decision to leave the marriage.

But Jim is a good guy. He’s essentially a good husband (astonishingly so if we were living in the 50’s), a good father and a success in business. There was no other man in the picture. In fact as it turns out Suzanne had committed to not pursuing any type of romantic relationship for at least a year. The thing was Jim wasn’t ever really present in the relationship, not in the way that Suzanne needed. She had spent years developing herself into the person she wanted to be and now wanted an energetic, curious and engaged partner. Or she wanted to be alone.

Joanne was judged mercilessly for her actions.  It seemed so spontaneous and so selfish. She heard words like unappreciative and self-involved. The message was: You are supposed to stay as long as the marriage isn’t abusive! Wanting more was just not an acceptable reason for leaving a marriage.

Women like this are arriving in my office in very large numbers. Women 50 plus are divorcing at a rate that is double what it was 20 years ago.

They are not doing this lightly. They are not selfish. They aren’t heartless. Many, many go to a therapist to help them in their decision-making. They make lists of the positives and negatives. And then they make more lists and then some more. Just because we speak about being true to yourself, write tons of articles and hold workshops on this very subject, in reality ending a so-so marriage (which is very right for some people) isn’t often celebrated.

Let me be really clear that I don’t make judgments or have opinions on what a woman does or doesn’t do with regards to the ending of her marriage. What I do is try to help each woman make the right decision for herself. I want to prepare her for the tears, the possible wrath and the potential for harsh judgment. I make sure she understands that most people won’t applaud her decision but that no one really knows what’s happening inside her marriage—only she does!

Doing what is right for ourselves often comes with the price of disapproval—and a lot of guilt. But that price is often far less than the one that includes waking up to a life you dread on a daily basis. There can’t be anything right about that.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment