Forgiving and Unapologetic

I was struck by how my brilliant yogi friend, Talia Sutra, put these two words together in an Instagram post. Talia is a deeply aware soul and a fantastic writer. She’s Israeli but her mastery of English often blows my mind, the way she stacks and arranges her words in just the right way. It’s always enough and never extra.
I have a hard time with forgiveness. It is something I want but don’t come to easily. I recently realized that it’s a skill like everything else, and it was a skill I wasn’t taught growing up. It just wasn’t seen or practiced in my large, crazy family. There was simply no way for me to model it. I have forgiven myself for that. We can’t read if we don’t know the alphabet. In my family grudges were fiercely gripped like wild horses trying to run away. No one wanted to let go of anger, resentment, or past wrong doings. Then you’d have lost your leverage, and leverage was power. Mistakes, both intentional and unintentional, were lorded over you for eternity. Everyone’s past history was always open to present attack. No one truly wanted to move on, which is why to this day it’s a family buried under mountains of emotional debris that’s literally generations old. As in any unhealthy family, there were superficial ebbs and flows. Terrifying fights would often lead to meetings during which peace was declared. Treaties for the sake of our grandmother. There were always tears and promises of new perspective. Family first. That is, until someone upset your ego. Any offense immediately cleared the path of perspective, inviting in every perceived wrong move you ever made. Adults attacked children surprisingly easily. Aunts, uncles, parents, cousins, siblings; it was this giant black ball of tangled yarn. No one knew how to get out. I think it never occurred to anyone to want to. It just was what it was. We were used to it. When I began to actually disentangle myself physically and emotionally, that was met with an onslaught of evil threats and criticism. Attacks on my character, my disloyalty, my selfishness, and my stupidity were every day occurrences. This went on for years, and still goes on somewhat, but I have removed myself and my children completely. When we do that it’s out of self protection and self reservation. It took ten years of therapy to make that move through tremendous guilt. The guilt eventually faded, and my estrangement is simply a necessary decision to keep myself safe.

But this has been bothering me for awhile; if I am genuinely in a place of safety and strength that I have created for myself, why can’t I forgive? Why am I so much more evolved than ever yet seemingly unable to let go? Letting go includes other people who have upset me greatly, say someone in my neighborhood who deeply offended me. I’m not a baby and don’t get upset easily. If I have cut you out there is a reason. But all my reasonings, however factual and justified, have caged me in. They are forms that have indeed formed a fence around my heart. I realized in yoga today that I hold on to these grudges as another way to keep myself safe. Grudges are the mind’s way of protecting ourselves. The mind, especially the ego, is designed for this purpose. Don’t talk to her, stay away from him, block them etc are the mind’s survival guide. It’s sweet in a way. And after a lifetime of feeling unprotected by various caregivers, I listen to the mind because someone is FINALLY on my side. The voice in my head is rooting for me, and that feels good. It’s a warped kind of support that I deserve dammit! We are wired to stay away from what harms us. Basic survival mode. Remaining stuck within the cinder block cell of a grudge initially feels safe. They can’t hurt us in there. Until it feels suffocating. That’s when it’s time to explore the past, in order to practice shifting into presence. I also realized in yoga today that I equate forgiveness with allowing someone back into my life. Having been raised in an environment in which there were zero boundaries of any kind, physical, psychological, or emotional, “forgiveness” following any sort of altercation meant that person once more had full access to you. They could hit you, insult you, stab you in the back, and throw you under the bus all over again. Steal from you, betray you, scream at you, threaten you with abandonment. You get the picture. Who would ever want to forgive anyone with that model? So forgiveness to me became scary. It meant I was offering myself up for sacrifice. The concept of boundaries is still new for me, and so I asked myself while in the home base of downward dog, “What if forgiveness is just an internal endeavor? What if forgiveness means letting go but not letting back in?”. All I’ve read on forgiveness teaches that it’s really for you. To free yourself from past formed pain. It’s meant to be a spiritual release, not a re entry into being a shmuck. I have been working so much with discerning between what is form and formless. I very much grasp the truth of this. I get it. And so I know that like all other thoughts and feelings, grudges and resentments are forms too. It’s why they feel so heavy. They are emotional tumors that clog our true nature, which is light, loving, and free. It just seems silly at this point in my journey to choose to continue weigh myself down. I’ve done so much work to align myself with openness and release; it’s foolish to prevent myself from further progress. I can release old anger while still protecting myself. I can internally relieve myself of that burden while keeping myself safe externally. Forgiveness, like all else, must include myself. Perhaps that’s why it’s been so hard to forgive others. That feeling they didn’t deserve it was a direct reflection of me not believing I deserve it either, for certain shameful things I’m currently grappling with. Forgiving doesn’t excuse. And change can’t occur without radical accountability. The people I didn’t want to forgive never demonstrated an iota of remorse or accountability. There was a ton of blaming others, deflection, transference, denial, and flat out lying. But never true accountability, and so the vicious cycle continues to this day. It’s time for me to exit the board game, though I haven’t played in years. If it’s true that forgiveness of others is a gift you give yourself, then I’ve finally reached a place where I am confident that I deserve that gift. Forgiving anyone who really hurt me doesn’t make any past actions ok; but it allows me to maturely recognize their own pain and confusion and maybe take it less personally. It just feels like it’s time. Time to keep exploring what I need to forgive myself for as well, to be fully accountable of my own errors and the pain I’ve caused others. I can only shift if I really look at myself with honesty. Honesty on that level is scary but that’s really the biggest gift of all. It’s what helps us give our loved ones what they deserve from us. How can I want forgiveness when I struggle with granting it? It’s time for more consistency in this area. I can admit it.


At my Zen Center Selichot service (pre Rosh Hashanah atonement ceremony), my beloved monks asked us what we want to take with us into the new year, and what we want to let go of. Forgiveness popped into my mind but my body contracted. My stomach clenched in frustration at not knowing how. Our hearts are designed to forgive, but our minds tell us we can’t or shouldn’t. We are meant to have this internal battle in order to reach the place of ease that always lies underneath the noisy dialogue.

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I want to invite other things into my life. So many other things that won’t be able to join me if there’s no room. I have committed to a practice of creating space in my life, allowing for fresh renewal of all things. It would be counterproductive to take up precious spiritual real estate with outdated anger. I know this now. I can forgive and create more space while maintaining my safety and well-being. I can forgive while unapologetically respecting my necessary boundaries. I can do anything. You can do anything. We are so many things and yet nothing at all.


Wishing you the knowledge of your own power and ability to heal.

When Non Attachment Feels Like Denial

A friend of mine just died. He’s a very dear friend whom I’ve known since college. His wife has been one of my closest friends since high school. I last saw them at my son’s bar mitzvah in June. I spent last Labor Day weekend at their beach home. He and I were in constant contact this past year since he was a lawyer and had been helping me with a personal matter. He was dynamic, hilarious, dry and sarcastic AF, and larger than life. Everyone loved him and with good reason.


I came home from yoga this morning to six missed calls from a friend. It was clear from syllable one that there was something horribly wrong. Never in the widest reaches of my imagination could I have guessed that this person had a sudden heart attack while on a business trip. I hear this terrible news at 7:50 am. It’s now 11:15 and I have yet to shed a tear. I don’t even feel sad. I think I am just in complete shock. My emotions seem to be hiding right now. My body feels heavy and frozen, my head like cement, but words like sad, broken, destroyed, and grief stricken are not yet applicable. I am wondering if I’m in denial. Though not my typical go to reaction, denial is always on the emotional buffet. How could it be that my dear friend dropped dead and I haven’t lost it yet? I know it will come but it’s been a curious thing to observe as I sit here nailed to my couch. I started writing this because my fingers are the only mobile parts of my body right now. My son needed me this morning and I said, “I can’t help you right now, my friend just died”, as robotically as if I’d just reported the weather. I am a deeply emotional and reactive creature; why have my feelings abandoned me? I’m wondering if all the Buddhism I’ve been studying about non attachment is kicking in. But I don’t think I really shifted into monk mode that easily, and non attachment doesn’t mean you can’t cry. I do know that the human need to dissect, question, and understand the why/how/when is a fruitless yet natural exercise. No amount of questioning and cries of him being too young are going to return his body in this lifetime. We dig ourselves into tremendous, bottomless holes with the Whys. It’s a form of instinctive masochism. The need to make sense, to deny the senseless it’s inherent nature. Was he sick? Was it the altitude? Let’s just say the answer is “yes, he was sick. And it was the altitude”. No one is finding solace in these facts. It’s just information that has no calming effect on a grieving heart. The heart doesn’t care about geographical coordinates or how much a person smoked. It just wants its person back. It wants to not feel debilitating devastation. It wants relief from the pain. The heart wants relief and the mind craves normalcy. We react by chasing the wind. The solace we want is uncatchable because it’s formless. Only form can be caught and momentarily grasped. And like all other forms the body isn’t ours to keep forever. While my zen practice has to be factoring in here in regard to my lack of reactivity, I suspect I haven’t processed this whatsoever. I have no idea how to be there for my friend and her children right now. I don’t know what to do or say. It’s not about me in any way but I’m trying to think of how I can serve her. I haven’t processed that she’s a widow at 41, that her three small children no longer have their daddy. I want all my friends to have beautiful, joyful lives. Is this possible for her anymore?? They have been a couple for decades. A good, solid couple who have tremendous respect for each other. They’re incredible parents. I cannot fathom having to parent alone, though people do it all the time. While we want to not get weighed down by the loss of the physical body since it comes attached to overwhelming suffering, is it really as simple as trusting that God knows when it’s time for a human to transition? If so then why were we designed with the capacity to drown in grief, to cry oceans, and to practically hear our hearts cracking? What is the point of the human emotional range if feelings are just hurdles to jump over in order to reach that true place of non attachment? It almost seems cruel. Again, these are more Whys that aren’t helpful or comforting.


While my current state isn’t denial in the sense that I’m denying the reality of this nightmare, there’s clearly some kind of blockage. He was too important to me, too loved. I haven’t yet grasped the loss. We are all going to die. You know this of course. It’s not this horrible punishment, it’s simply the way it is. We come into this world knowing we will exit at a certain point unbeknownst to us. We die more every day. It is nature. It’s not out to get us. It just is.


I didn’t just lose my husband or the father of my children. Her reality is different from mine. This is not anything I’d say to someone in the throes of grief, but I’m indeed wondering if I’m in an unprocessed state or have I come to further accept the idea of death? It’s probably both. We are always many things at once. I’m going to be patient with my emotions. They don’t need coaxing, they’ll descend upon me when they’re ready. I’ll allow them their stay until I gently extricate myself from them. Whatever arises will also fall away. Everything in life is just doing its job. My personal challenge will be to do my job as a friend who can best be a source of whatever it is she needs. To not assume I’m the one who knows what that is. To bring a lot less of Me to the situation. I’m comfortable with my lack of tears. I’m not resisting their absence. I’m certainly no less distraught and heartbroken. I loved him dearly. I hope he tells me how I can be there for his family. I’ll do whatever he wants and knows is best for them. He can reach me anytime. Ah ok, here they come. The tears. Those last few lines were the invitation they were waiting for. My tears are in good company today. There are millions being shed for him. He was always that guy who brought everyone together.


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Yentas🗣🗣🗣

I recently read a post on Instagram from The Holistic Psychologist about how gossip connects people. My immediate reaction was sure, I used to do that. It was instant recognition. It actually explained a lot because I did used to gossip way too much, but it never came from a place of malicious shit starting. That much I know. I’m not vindictive or deliberately hurtful. Truthfully, I never really understood my compulsion to gossip since it was not due to the more obvious trouble making reasons that drive so many yentas. The need to connect made perfect sense to me about my own motives, and really shed a sad light on gossip in general. People, especially women who are such social creatures, are far lonelier and alienated than they are willing to admit. Shouldn’t we have outgrown that by now? Most of us have spouses, kids, friends, schedules, and jobs. If our days are so full then why are our souls so empty? There never seems to be enough time in the day yet we find plenty of time to talk shit about other people. The urge to gossip is a very powerful one. It’s so hard to fight the need to both spread and hear juicy bits of information about others. We know it’s not nice yet we jump at the chance to be a part of it. Yes, there’s always that real jerk who talks with bad intent. She’s evil and no one likes her. She’s jealous and doesn’t wish others well. She gossips harmfully. It’s textbook insecurity. She is the one most talked about when she’s not in the room. However, I think that most women indeed love to gossip because of that desperate need to connect. The disconnect that grows inside individuals is an unacknowledged epidemic. It’s a very uncomfortable truth that most can’t begin to articulate. It is always easier to find fault with others than admit our own shortcomings. But the underlying force of gossip and judgement is almost always transference based on our own perceptions. We automatically project our own garbage onto those around us, especially those out of earshot. Easy targets. I have clearly seen myself on both sides of this wall. There is a definite connection between my relationship to myself and my relationship to gossip. As my inner dialogue has strengthened, and my self love and compassion has grown exponentially, and I’m so fulfilled creatively and spiritually, my need to gossip has all but disappeared. On its own. While it’s a noble endeavor to commit to intentionally restricting that, it’s not what happened with me. Gossiping, like a lot of other extraneous, useless nonsense I used to busy myself with, just got left behind. I haven’t needed them for quite some time. Ram Dass used to lecture about this a lot in the 70’s. How once you start traveling on a spiritual path the things you used to like and need become obsolete. This includes certain friends you just no longer have anything in common with. I know many catty female “friendships” that are based largely on these gross yenta connections. My best friends and I have thankfully never had that dynamic. Sure, we will share some good dish when something is newsworthy. But it comes and goes quickly because we don’t need that to create the illusion of bond.

If women tend to gossip more than men, then what can we conclude about what goes on inside the inner being of chicks? Where is this void coming from, and why can’t we fill it on our own? Most mothers claim that their children are their lives, that their young provide them with limitless joy. Hmmmm... that doesn’t quite match up with a lot classic Desperate Housewife behavior. The gossip, the competition, the need for accolades by being the head of every committee. Just sayin. I write what I see and know, and I hold myself fully accountable for ever having participated in this. This is actually a great way to gain insight into our own holes that need to be lovingly filled. By us and us alone. Not by a spouse, a child, a job, or a brief moment of connection via negative information. The new version of me was easily able to identify the old version and her motives. I was lonely and disconnected but had no idea. It feels really good to look back and reflect on how I have poured grace, love, and forgiveness into those former holes. By filling myself up I have emptied the need for gossip. That is a muscle I’m content to let atrophy. It makes me uncomfortable now to be part of conversations like that. This unhealthy habit no longer serves me, or tricks me into thinking it serves me. And I’m attracting people that aren’t interested either. We swap old habits for new, outdated models for more improved. And then we can write about it as an exercise in accountability. If you liked this post, feel free to talk about it. And if any of this resonates with your own motives, well, that’s one of the most productive conversations you’ll ever have with yourself. We can’t know what to fix unless we identify and admit the source of the problem. Search for your holes first. Connect with your soul. The rest will clean itself up.

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Is Love a Choice?

My friend sent me an article yesterday about love. It was his suggestion to turn it into a post, so I’m grateful to him for always giving me new things to think about. The gist of the article was that loving someone doesn’t mean you’ve found The One, and that the concept of that one person in the whole wide world who is divinely perfect for you probably doesn’t exist. Rather, the world is most likely full of people who you could have a great, successful relationship with (agreed). The partner we wind up with isn’t necessarily that mythical bolt of lightning who was designed to match our thunder; it’s the person we choose to stay with over all others. Basically, to love is to choose. It’s knowing you could have other options and opportunities but consciously choosing to travel life with a certain person with whom you at least baseline love.

This isn’t anything I haven’t read before, and my friend and I both thought the article was simplistic and stemmed from an immature and inexperienced viewpoint. The author had been married for a few years and was advising his newlywed friend about love and marriage. The newlywed has already been having doubts about whether or not he had found The One, and if he had prematurely closed himself off to other possibilities (my first reaction was to feel badly for his new, clueless bride). So the author, in all his wisdom, launched into the theory that as long as we keep choosing our mate over and over, this will ensure a lasting partnership. An “I love you and will therefore keep choosing you” kind of thing. I must note that this friend and I are both divorced. We have been friends for a year and a half, and have seen each other through various stages of each of our divorce processes. We have discussed countless topics throughout our friendship. Among the topics we love to beat to death are love, marriage, and divorce.              

Now since this particular article had clearly been written by someone who had zero brush with divorce and the extremely difficult years leading up to that painful decision, we both thought the piece was immature drivel. It’s just not that simple as choosing someone. When a marriage is fractured at the very core of it’s infrastructure for whatever the reason, the choices that need to be made go so far beyond what the writer was talking about. Marriage, and certainly divorce, are so much more complicated. He pondered, so did our marriages fail just because we didn’t continue to choose our former spouses? Had we stayed steady in that decision no matter what, would we both still be married? Of course not (he knew this, we were just talking it out). Most broken situations can’t be fixed by a choice. People usually don’t get divorced because of one choice. That’s actually an insult to anyone who has gone through this incredibly dark and difficult process. There are children involved, core belief systems to consider, and knowing the ability of your partner to love, support and respect you (and vice versa). There are a ton of factors weighed before a divorce. It’s not merely one choice, and it certainly isn’t a choice just based on love. Love isn’t enough, as is evidenced by the numerous unhealthy couples and relationships out there, many of whom do love each other. It’s what you do with love that matters. It’s how you are able to both give and receive love that will affect how two people relate to each other.

Another point we touched on was the idea of choice itself. Does the choice equate love? I’m not a pessimist at all, but my immediate reaction was absolutely not. Many people choose to stay married for reasons having nothing to do with love. Most people I know in long term marriages are tired, too burnt out to restructure their lives. They have the same philosophical questions and concerns as anyone else, but there’s a resignation that often leads to choosing their partner. They choose to not alter the lives and routines of the kids. They choose to stay small out of fear of the unknown. They choose to not have to pay alimony, since divorce is very expensive. They choose to not choose themselves and what they really might want out of life, and who they dream of being with romantically. They choose predictability. They choose not disappointing anyone. They choose to avoid the shame, guilt, and discomfort that often comes attached to this process. They choose to stay married so as not to face what they believe to be failure. They choose safety, thinking it’s the easy route. Listen, I understand that. It makes sense on a certain level. I’m not encouraging marital anarchy. But to believe that remaining married to one person is a choice that means love is a self righteous fallacy. It’s often a choice based on selfishness, laziness, fear, and mild depression. Let’s be honest. It’s wonderful to choose your spouse time and again, but only if you’re being truthful about why. If you love her, and can love her well, choose her. If you are unmotivated to live your truth and too scared of change, then really that’s not fair to either of you. Both partners deserve to be chosen, but only for the right reasons. Love is messy, marriage is messier, even the good ones. It’s way more complex than one choice. Choosing to truly love someone is the highest act of the gift of free will. We were all designed to make that choice. We must include ourselves in that decision too.


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Are Outer Beauty and Kindness Connected?

So what do you think about this; I was at an event for Fashion Week and a speech was made about the beauty industry. The gist was how important beauty is because when we look good we also feel good, and then we are kinder to each other. Oof. This is not a concept I’d have ever questioned prior to finding the deeper, truer knowledge I’ve been immersed in the past couple years. However, at this juncture, that idea is completely antithetical to what I know to be true; that kindness towards others needs to be unconditional. That we don’t have the right to be rude to others if we don’t like our hair on a particular day. While I am most def on a spiritual path, I am also a woman who cares very much about her appearance. There have been countless times when I have indeed been softer when what I saw in the mirror pleased me. So too there have been countless times where a zit or clothing that pinched and was tight pissed me off. And a pissed off Me probably won’t be that nice to hang out with. This is natural and I fault no one for these kinds of moods. I spent years as a slave to the scale. Every pound and ounce governed my emotional state, which is obviously ridiculous and unhealthy. I thought about my weight non stop. If I felt a few pounds up I’d get a blowout or a facial to smooth out my agitation. Spray tans was another trick since looking tan always gives the illusion of being slimmer. Every woman I know goes through this and has their own bag of tricks to feel good. We don’t want to be bitchy or snappish, so we have become experts at relieving those tendencies. It’s all escapism. Hair salons are places of fascinating anthropological studies. You can feel moods shift and lighten when someone is done with their haircut or blowout. Penelope Cruz once said that as the daughter of a salon owner in Spain, she first learned acting by observing the different energies of the customers before and after their appointments. Genius, so on point for a child to notice and understand that. Bottom line, when we look like shit then it’s easier to fall down the rabbit hole of shitty behavior. This is clearly where the beauty business swoops in and ropes us into buying all the products that will ensure our physical and emotional wellbeing. This is what that industry is for. It is doing nothing but it’s job. Most women will always love makeup. It’s one the fun facets of being a chick. The clothing, creams, workouts, Spanx, makeup, and hair products are meant to help us achieve better versions of ourselves. Of course any face looks better with concealer covering dark under eye circles. Widening my eyes with mascara no doubt makes me look fresher. Hued lips add so much color to my complexion, the list goes on. I’ve always felt bad for (heterosexual) men in that it’s not socially accepted for them to employ all these tricks. Just like anything that focuses on the external, our job is to watch ourselves that we keep it there. Makeup and water retention simply cannot alter our dispositions. What is the point of looking beautiful if we don’t behave beautifully? A breakout sucks but does that excuse being unfriendly and curt to our neighbor? Will a bad hair day determine how we speak to our children? Who are we really if we act from such a place of surface? We are always the soul, and the soul is always at peace. Lipstick and spin class are alien languages to the soul. It’s impervious to any thoughts and emotions that bombard the body mind. The soul is governed by love and truth and those states of being are simply its permanent nature. It knows no other way. This is what we must come to know, and we must act from that knowledge. If we can find that place of innermost wisdom and certainty then we are much less likely to run to Sephora and empty our bank accounts. We can feel beautiful in a much more natural state. I can tell you with certainty that I wear way less makeup than I ever have. When my hair isn’t blown out I let it dry naturally with no product. Unless I need to be made up, then I really only use concealer and maybe a little contour powder. Those are my most beautiful days. I have become good at nurturing myself from the inside out, from the vitamins I take to coconut oil hair treatments, to the yoga, the meditation, my zen practice, the Buddhist psychology books, the heart wisdom podcasts and dharma talks, and even to the company I keep. My skin looks better than it did ten years ago, even with a pimple or two (though I will cortisone them immediately) because it glows from eating well, increased circulation due to yoga, and inner peace. Haggard, tired skin indicates a haggard, tired person. All of me has been rejuvenated and so I am not a slave to beauty product consumerism. The natural yogis I follow on Instagram are way more beautiful and sexy to me than anyone made up, sprayed, sucked in, and plumped. Feeling beautiful from the inside has no question improved the way I deal with others. I have cleaned out a lot of my inner nonsense, which allows me to listen to my inner teacher much clearer. And It doesn’t care what I look like. When we say “namaste” we mean “the light in me bows to the light in you”. And the light in each of us cannot be improved. It’s perfect. When we can go far beyond the surface and see each persons’ innate beauty, that is what will shape our interpersonal action and communication. Not Kylie’s Lip Kit. I practice seeing beyond the human jacket, in both myself and others. I slip then I begin again. There is beauty in that too.


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Reinventing the Wheel

Wheel pose in yoga is still a challenge for me. I’ve come a long way though. A few months ago it felt totally unattainable to me, but today I can get up properly on my own. I manage two labored breaths instead of the goal of five peaceful ones, but I’ll get there. With patience (not my strong suit) and practice I’ll get there.

Wheel, like all advanced poses, requires trust and strong grounding. Trust in your body, how you control it, in the pose itself, and especially in the natural ability to root so strongly into the earth. Rooting with strength and conviction allows us to backbend. The expansiveness of wheel is wonderful. Sew, plant, root, grow in ways you couldn’t imagine prior. It all makes perfect sense. When we find that place of ease, we can breathe smoothly and deeply. My breathing in wheel is still not easy because I’m not entirely trusting of myself in this pose yet. I have hurt my neck doing it in earlier attempts. There has been a clear connection between my overall state of trust in life and in myself and my yoga practice. I was a hot mess when I started. A highly functioning hot mess, but I was raw and all over the place in so many ways. No trust, no ease, all entangled with human egoic ideas of who I was and how life has to look.

I began practicing exactly three years ago with Stephanie, who is my forever guru. Almost every major positive change in my life has somehow stemmed from her and her studio. The other teachers I have, my transformative sunrise practice, other students who have enriched my life in various ways, books I’ve read, spiritual masters I’ve learned about, certain types of music, the purpose of this human incarnation, the power of the breath. She has guided me through some very rough oceans, always with direct loving kindness and incredible wisdom and compassion. She got me in an instant when we first met. I looked at her and just instantly cracked open. Three years after that life changing meeting, Stephanie has left New Jersey for a new chapter in her own story. When she told me this a month ago I was obviously devastated. She has been my constant, my foundation, my teacher, and my friend. She’s my spiritual mother. I couldn’t picture not being able to see her and be in her presence. Her classes are poetry in motion. Her wisdom is felt in every breath. However, I surprised myself in how quickly I recovered from the news of her departure. All the teachings about how Life/Source/the Dharma always gives us what we need, which I so know, kicked in. It was time to integrate all I’ve been learning and writing about. There’s no reason to be scared if we trust in the constant unfolding of life. Clearly it is felt that I’m ready for her to not physically be here with me. It felt like graduation in a way. She and I have discussed many times how all the dots between us connect. We have often charted the stars in the constellation of my life, a shape that keeps taking on new form with each new shedding and rebirth. She taught me that I’m a shape shifter. We all are, we just have to come to that realization. In her last class two weeks ago there was not a dry eye in the packed room. But if the foundation of yoga is non attachment, then it’s counterproductive to hold ourselves back by attaching to the idea of her needing to be there for us. I was able to piece myself back together pretty fast after the news of her departure because the roots she planted with me allows me to bend and expand. The stronger the foundation, the farther the backbend. As Sunrise Betsy always says, find comfort in the discomfort. I’m not comfortable with Steph leaving, but I have found comfort in knowing I must be ready for it. As Eckhart Tolle says, if it’s happening right now it is because it is needed for the evolution of your consciousness. Ok, I accept. This summer I was presented with a tough personal choice. I know what the answer is. I would not have chosen that answer in the past, but different people make different choices and I’m a different person indeed. Steph gave us a choice of bridge or wheel that last class. I wanted to try wheel, which is much harder. I wrestled with my head for 20 seconds and told it to be quiet, in order to connect the breath and the body. I got up instantly. Ok, I said to myself, you’re up. Now you just need to stay there. Thank you, Stephanie, for teaching me how to crawl, walk, then rise. It’s not where we think we are going that determines our life course; it’s where we come from that sets all the right actions into motion. When I had this conversation with her in person, she said ,”You were ready. I just happened to be here”. Hold on to the people who open you up. They have been sent to you as messengers to teach you about your own limitless expansion. Allow them to work their magic on you. Don’t just spin around in the same circle for 85 years then die. Keep growing and reinventing the wheel.

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Those IG Reminders

You know how on Instagram we get those periodic reminders of old posts? Like, “see your post from two years ago”. I love those. I joined social media kicking and screaming about three years ago. It was a time where every area of my life began to shift and joining Instagram was part of that. I was very resistant because my only exposure to it was bored housewives blowing smoke up their own asses. It seemed to me to just be another place to post family photos and bland “witticisms”, out of an attempt to perpetuate the self serving notion that our lives are interesting enough to be shared. Usually they are not. I’m honest enough to guess that I was anti the Gram as a result of this very fear; that I had nothing original or different to say than the typical Real Housewives of the Shtetl. I had struggled internally with that for many years; that on paper I was leading the same formulaic life as everyone around me. A life that I personally did not find that interesting. This does not mean that said life formula doesn’t contain many positive aspects. However the lack of individuality and originality ate away at me for years. After a friend convinced me to have my daughter set me up an IG account, I changed perspectives quickly. That happens to me a lot. I will get stuck in a certain model and argue as to why it must not be different, only to be pushed into a new idea and then love it immediately. Leslie was right as usual. She made the case that I needed an outlet for my creativity, creativity I didn’t really see that I had since it had become an atrophied muscle. I took to it like a fish to water. I recall posting little bits of poetry, expression, and ideas with a pounding heart. It was a huge deal for me then to expose myself and reveal what was really happening inside my heart and mind. It was the good kind of nervous. Each like was this hit of recognition and acknowledgement. I was so excited when a stranger liked a post. It was fascinating to be able to connect with people I’d never met, and from across the world at that! I felt on the cusp of fame. I felt seen and known. I know this sounds like an 85 year old lady’s awe at the magic of social media, but that’s honestly what it was like. Les always describes me as an Amish chick crawling naked out of a pothole in Times Square; I cannot disagree. I still retain that quality throughout the many versions of me that have arisen and faded, then arisen again. I believe I always will and I’m happy about that. It feels better to walk through the world wide eyed than with eyes half closed behind a dulled veil. I remember embracing Instagram with the intention of curating a life so that if I were to meet a man, he’d be able to get a sense of me. WHOA. That is a pathetic statement. Anything we share should be for our own fullness. I recently recalled that I’d thought that and it’s sad that my headspace at the time was primarily about how I’d be perceived by a guy. I was so used to doing everything for others and their approval. When I talk about my account I’m referring to my private little one that’s separate from @lady_blaga. It’s just a few hundred peeps that are mostly family and friends. I actually love it and when I look at it I see a life that I have indeed been curating. For me. There has not been one post reminder where I haven’t been hit with a wave of gratitude for how far I’ve come. I sharply remember my life in each picture, what I was struggling with, what I was thinking about, who I was interested in romantically, insecurities I was grappling with. Each pop up from the past reinforces my growth. I have fought for each new rung on the ladder, and that ladder goes on forever. One of the things the Gram has given me has been a growth chart. My posts aren’t the same because my life isn’t the same. I can see an evolution of which I’m proud. One day I will be 85. And I have committed to curating a life that I will still be in awe of. Social media is only as magical as what it represents or achieves. It’s only as impactful as it’s content. Our content has limitless possibilities. Where I was two years ago or a year ago was good too, for who I was then. I’m always appreciative of her and her efforts. But now is a vast improvement and I have so much further to go. One breath at a time, one step at a time, one post at a time. Follow me. I won’t disappoint either of us.


Pass the Mic

There’s a line in one of my favorite Beastie Boys songs. The song is called Pass the Mic. The line is so simple, but it’s delivered so perfectly, “and now I’ve gotta pass the mic to Yauch”. That would be Adam Yauch, one third of the Beastie Boys, and the one that the other two (Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond) credit with founding the group and being its driving creative force. For the record I’ve always had a crush on AdRock (Adam H), who currently looks like a hot, scruffy, hipster dad from Brooklyn. Yauch became a fully practicing Buddhist in the 90’s, which is why it’s appropriate that I end my retreat recap with a reference to him. Most intensively creative people are always on a quest for ideas and inspiration. Creativity is a muscle that always needs to be flexed, and like any muscle it just gets stronger. It also needs to recharge and restore during periods of rest. I don’t think it’s possible for a deeply creative soul to be complacent. The need to constantly be connecting dots and unearth more inspiration never goes away. As is often the case, Yauch, despite experiencing tremendous wealth, success, fame, and creative fulfillment that came attached to all the sex, drugs, and rock and roll one could ever dream of, realized that the ideas of Western achievement were false. So many seemingly successful people, famous or not, are just not truly blissful and peaceful. They don’t necessarily like their lives. Not content to just sail on the winds of all his success, Yauch traveled to Nepal where he was greatly moved by the plight of the persecuted Buddhists in Tibet. He became devoted to the teachings of the Dalai Lama. He was very much in awe of the monks he met who were brutally tortured yet retained a deep sense of joy, peace, and compassion for life, even for their torturers. Peace is addictive in that once you really taste it you crave more. This is obviously the best kind of addiction, and from then on his Buddhist ideals infused everything he did, including the music. Yauch was the one who founded the Free Tibet concerts as well as the Milarepa Fund. Milarepa was a famous Tibetan monk who was terribly tortured. Yauch was a true Boddhisattva, an awakened being, and wrote a song called Boddhisattva Vows. With the concerts and fund he wanted to help Tibet be free from the oppression of the Chinese government, that to this day forcefully prohibits practicing Buddhism. It’s nuts how the most peaceful people literally on Earth have to flee, all the while holding their captors and oppressors in a space of compassion. This seems impossible but it’s not because they’re doing it. These are not white girl problems. Yauch sadly died of cancer way too young, but left a lasting impact for so many reasons, including his talent, mind, heart, and dedication to all of humanity. An awakened being never goes to sleep, even in death. That’s why a true Buddhist doesn’t fear leaving their bodies. I cannot imagine not being afraid of death, but just think of the peace that comes with eliminating that central worry in all our lives. What if we just took that piece out? Every single day our lives are decreased by one. We inch closer to dying every night we go to sleep. Dying is just as natural as being born; maybe it’s really not as bad as we have been taught to believe. I don’t want to die now, like AT ALL, but I’d like to go through my time here without imagining the grim reaper following me and my loved ones around, like in the Scream movies. Truthfully I don’t do that anymore. That stopped a couple years ago, though I absolutely was previously obsessed with mortality. Obsession of any kind blocks joy because it’s attachment. A fixated mind gets in the way of an open heart, no matter the object of our fixation. The goal of Buddhist practice is to achieve an open heart that includes all the pain and suffering in the world, especially our own. It’s not “get over it and open your heart”. No, it’s allow all the pain, see it, love it for teaching you grace, but don’t get tangled up in it. Life has ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows, all asking for our acceptance and acknowledgment. All transient passersby. We are made of equal parts love and fear. The practice is to have the love conquer the fear in each individual moment. Moments and experience are always in flux but the task is unchanging. As with creatives, a spiritually aware person is also never complacent. They don’t get attached to the pleasures and joys either, as those are in flux too. At the end of my silent retreat, a Friday, I was a roiling kettle of simmering, competing emotions and sensations. I was proud, relieved it was over, triumphant, lighter, exposed, raw, drained, invigorated, scared to leave yet dying to sleep in my own bed, unbelievably moved, beaming, and sobbing hysterically. This is tough work and I, We, had completed it together. I felt deeply connected to each member in our 65 person group without ever having spoken to them. One body indeed. Part of our morning was the same as the others, but mostly we had several ceremonies that fiercely drove home all we had just done. Three students had just completed a year of intense study and were given their robes and Japanese names in a Jukai ceremony. Many of the attendees had these robes and special names. I didn’t understand the purpose of the names, though I thought they sounded super cool (especially because they reminded me of characters from Kill Bill). During Jukai it was explained that these names are fresh versions of ourselves, almost like a spiritual alter ego. For example, the teacher said to one of the students, Alex, “Life is always full of situations and conflict. There’s Alex’s reaction and there’s Konshin’s reaction”. Ah, ok, I get that! I loved it actually, knowing that we can always choose our approach to anything. I often think about how the old Jessica would react vs how the new Jessica would react. The new version is a lot smarter and more grounded; her reactions are always better. These new inductees had family and friends come to the ceremony, it really was like a graduation. At one point during part of the rituals included in the induction, the three of these men stood on a platform and the rest of us snaked around them while reciting Buddhist vows. I locked eyes with Michael, the oldest of the three, and was struck by the shining purity in his face and blue eyes. It was like looking at the eyes of a baby, all raw joy and sweetness. I know nothing about this man, which is the point of all this; we don’t need to know anything except each other’s Buddha nature. Make no mistake, life includes wisdom, which is vastly different than knowledge. Knowledge lives in the mind, it is facts, statistics, information, books, and ideas. Wisdom resides in the heart. Both are important but not equally so. Heart wisdom is always the inner teacher. Wisdom includes knowing how to size up a situation and knowing how to act out of compassion for ourselves. Ahimsa, the Sanskrit word for compassion, begins with how we relate to ourselves. Self preservation and self care are vital. Heart wisdom doesn’t mean to be a soft schmuck. But it means we can move wisely throughout life with a deeper understanding of the incentives of others. The vision of Michael’s eyes come to me often, he was just this beacon of love in that powerful moment. He was aglow. I’m fortunate to have seen that. That day and time I could have been anywhere, seeing or ignoring any number of scenarios. But I was there and I saw that. Another ceremony we had before Jukai was at the conclusion of our final morning meditation. It was instrumental, using all these ancient Buddhist means of sound. I love sound vibrations and attend sound baths at home periodically. They are delicious. You just lie there comfortably while different vibrations engulf and enter you. It’s incredibly healing and unlocks us internally. I have always loved the primal beats of African music, the painful wail of bagpipes, the soulful shriek of a harmonica, and the ridiculous sexiness of a guitar, just to name just a few. I am in awe of the effects of sound. During the retreat the robed women in the back of the meditation zendo, played these massive sound bowls. It’s work, as I know from my yoga teachers who do it daily during our class. You bang the edge of the bowl then catch the vibration and move it around the rim, filling the space with the vibration over and over. Each bowl sounds different, and each person I know that has one says the same thing, that the bowls have a mind of their own. They teach you how to use them, not the other way around. I’ve been meaning to get one for a long time, and my daughter brought me one from her trip to India. On this final day as I was releasing the black smoke from my gut that I referenced in the previous post, during this intensely powerful music ceremony, a mad rush of the smoke poured furiously out of me. I did not plan on this, it just happened and it felt like I was on this wild energetic ride. I sat it my chair as I’d done all week, being filled with gongs, chimes, and drums. The last few minutes all these mystical, ancient sounds came together in one fast, giant clanging force, and the only word I can use is transformative. It was very cleansing. Shifting energy is draining work. I was euphoric but wiped out, like after giving birth. It’s a spot on analogy; we each birthed yet another version of ourselves on this retreat. Dormant pain bodies were shaken awake and began to reluctantly pack up their dirty things. To love is to exist under a new regime. Clearing space takes fierce determination when there are certain egoic aspects that refuse to move. They have nowhere to go so they latch on to our purity and goodness. But if all things are transient, they need to leave too. Which leads me to Pass the Mic, which we did that day as well. When we were finally allowed to break our silence, I think this was after the sound ceremony because I could barely speak (not to worry, I figured it out) since I had been crying so much. We each had two minutes to say what we were feeling in that moment. Timing was important because we had to be efficient since we needed to leave Garrison by the afternoon to make room for the next retreat. Reyshin was told to gong us when we reached our time limit. I think I was gonged nine times, as one would expect. There was so much to say. As I often do, I started with humor. I introduced myself and said that I think we should end the week with a talent show, like at Kellerman’s in the last scene of Dirty Dancing, since this felt like the last day of camp. Like, imagine if the person who we all thought was the shyest in the group just busted out some breakdancing. We had of course all been making up assumptions about each other all week, so it could be a fascinating and hilarious social experiment. Daishi, our strict but loving leader would direct, since in my imagination she owned and operated a Reform Jewish sleepaway camp in the Catskills. Koshin, one of the teachers who I hadn’t yet met, doubled over laughing. Mic drop, mission accomplished. I also commented on how the corn on the cob that we ate at lunch the day before could have easily been a logistical nightmare on a silent retreat, but that we as a group handled that quite impressively (cue the laugh track). Not wanting to seem like the avoidant class clown, I also spoke of how I was terrified to go back to regular life. How I was wary of failing at the new challenge of integration. How I had entered this week with such outlined commitments to myself, and I didn’t want to let myself down by immediately taking back on the roles I was determined to shed. Gong! I spoke of how one evening a few of us were staring quietly at the mountains after a storm. There was a magical smoke floating on top of the mountains, and that I was moved by how nature/we are always simultaneously still and in motion. I quoted Eckhart Tolle who tells us to “let nature teach us stillness”. Gong!! I said I know, I know, you’re right but can I just thank Frank (Wilford Brimley from the first post) for being such a Buddha...GONG GONG GONGGGGGG!!!!!!!! Later on at lunch, a few of the ladies were so cute and came over to me saying that they’d suspected all week that I’d be funny (🏼). One of the things I loved hearing during pass the Mic was when a woman thanked her neighbor directly across from her (the aforementioned Alex) for always smiling at her when we did our bows. That touched my heart so much. She said that the two of them looking at each other and smiling during each bow kept her going. The power of just a simple smile to connect is one of life’s most basic threads. Most of us took ourselves and our bows very seriously this week. Picturing these two sweet faces shining at each other from across the zendo was beautiful. They were in it together, united by just the upward direction of their mouths. Think of the fleeting connection when you smile at a stranger. It’s often all it takes. A yogi friend asked me how it was. I said Milarepa had it worse and he didn’t get farm fresh scones. Life is full of words. Carrie Fisher, in describing her volatile relationship with Paul Simon said, “words, words, there were just so many words”. I never forgot that line. I’m sure they did, especially with him being a linguistic genius. But the “I love you” can morph into a “fuck you” so quickly. Language is a gift of communication unique to humans. We so often misuse, overuse, underuse, and abuse it. There is always so much to say. But there is also always more that doesn’t need to be said. At least not in the way we think. Speech is never as impactful as true communication. And communication is at its most powerful when we learn to communicate with ourselves. I’m proud I did this. I’ll do it again. I’m practicing finding my voice with silence.

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Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce

So here’s a tip I have heard from divorced friends of both genders. Following a divorce or separation; you don’t ever want to be the first. As in, you don’t ever want to be the first relationship for someone in the midst of a life altering transition. Ending a marriage, especially a long one, is an extreme makeover of one’s life. It should also be one of the heart, but not everyone will choose to dig so deep. However, at the baseline, beginning a new life is well... beginning a new life. There will be lots of strides, stumbles, decisions, freedoms, possibilities, and opportunities. The smorgasbord of other partners is both exciting and overwhelming. While divorce comes with lots of positives, it also comes attached to extreme loneliness, blinding solitude, a lack of a role that was once your identity, a physical relocation (anyone moving away from the permanent residence of their children has way more emotional struggle to contend with) guilt, shame, fear of failure, etc. I had no idea how to not be someone’s wife when I got divorced. It had been my role since I was 20, which is essentially on the border of childhood and adulthood. My entire adult life had been built around coupledom. It was the bedrock of my being a mother. Reworking one’s life at any stage is automatically a time of massive seismic shift. The earth beneath us literally feels like it’s pulling apart and restructuring. We might fall through the cracks of change and be swallowed up. There is a temporary loss of being grounded, since it’s simply a new foundation that has yet to be solidified. This new foundation takes a lot of time. At least it should. We are building new lives and new identities from scratch. So the advice I’ve received, again from both guys and girls I know who are new to this process is; do not get dragged into to anyone’s transitioning. It’s most likely not sustainable. The lure of possibility is simply too great. People will want to sample the smorgasbord, both on a physical and emotional level. Those entrenched in legal battles, finding new homes, and dipping their toes in the freedom of dating are naturally spread quite thin. It’s takes a long time for all the floating factors to start to merge and find a new home. Most going through a divorce will try out several or many new relationships before truly realizing what works for them. They didn’t get it right the first time, so it’s a relearning if who we are before we know what we need and want from a partner. My own needs and wants have changed every few months. I’ve seen it as I keep learning myself too. Some things I wanted a year ago I don’t want today. In essence, don’t be the first chick a guy in transition picks for the time being. It’s a weak move on the part of both parties. Believe me, I understand all the hard stuff mentioned above. It’s sad and scary. We all finally want something resembling consistency and security. But that only really comes if the individuals involved are consistent and insecure. Latching on to anyone in the middle of aforementioned seismic shift sounds like a person desperately grasping onto a rope so they don’t fall. Only the fall is really only a few feet below you. It’s a lot harder to be dumped when someone awakens to the fact that they have options, than it is to fill your own cup and want true inner and outer stability. What do we tell our kids when they fall? That’s it’s ok. That they shouldn’t be afraid to try again. Don’t take the easy way out and hide in the corner. We want to teach our kids resilience and belief that they’ll get it right next time.

There were relationships I thought I wanted when I was new to this. I had been coming from a place of tremendous lack. I was more scared to be alone than I realized. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, I was just tired of it. I felt I was finally deserving of a partner, a person I could believe was at last the healthy choice. Looking back at these men, it’s the biggest joke. They would have all resulted in a big pile of nothing. We are given loneliness and solitude for a clear reason. To avoid it is to avoid dealing with it. Do I want someone who can’t deal with hard shit like that?? If they can’t face their own situations then where will my stuff fit in? Practically speaking, I want someone super intact and grounded so that we can build something together. Any successful relationship seems like it has two strong, centered people who can then build a foundation and keep going up. A person who still has holes to fill is a risk. Ignoring that risk speaks to who you are, not to who they are. Everyone is entitled to their process, and everyone’s process is different. To cling to someone as they’re changing lanes doesn’t seem wise. My male friends have said this too; that the chick they were with initially was a matter of time. As they grew more secure so did the need for a strong woman. They didn’t want to rescue someone while they were just learning to live again too. My female friends were adamant for obvious reasons as well; honey, it never lasts, they all said across the board. Do your own thing first. So I did, which has really widened my lens as to who I am. For the first time I finally feel better equipped to choose wisely. I’m far from done, and I want someone to figure some of this out together with. That’s part of being a couple. But I’m no one’s transition and no one’s backup. I would have been prior to now, but that was many versions of me ago. It’s sad, what I’d have settled for. It feels nice to not betray myself anymore. And as a fact, anyone you have to cling so tightly to isn’t committed. Unless you’re ok with that than well... Men can be like dogs. They can smell insecurity because it directly affects their freedom. And freedom post divorce is a necessary part of all this recalibration. In yoga we are taught to honor the pause. In music we are taught to cherish the spaces between notes. In cooking we know to let a dish rest before slicing into it. Cutting too soon releases precious juice and flavor. In photography we let pictures develop. Get it? Time and space are required in interpersonal relationships too. I’ve had men cling to me while dating. It spoke to their own inner dialogue; what kind of future could I have with someone who isn’t fully actualized or whole? It’s not my job to be the bandaid to someone else’s fears or insecurities. I’m not even supposed to do that with myself. No more bandaids, they fix nothing and fall off eventually. I’m grateful to my peeps who led me in the right direction even when I didn’t understand this idea. We want what we want when we want it, and I sure did. I’m grateful for my growing pains, they gave rise to a much wiser, stronger version of myself. When the lack triggers arise, I can identify them immediately and reroute. I took the time to learn how to do that, and it wasn’t easy. But I prefer those lessons over looking back at being caught in the crossfire of someone’s understandable transition, and feeling like an idiot. A guy I liked once told me he respects me too much to drag me into his erratic post separation mess. That was a hard moment for me but I was moved by the honesty. I am grateful for him not wanting me to get railroaded. Perhaps he saw that I deserved better when I had not yet arrived at that place myself. When others can help show us what we deserve then we are guided in the way of eventually learning it too. And those lessons are never unlearned. As I attempt to navigate this new life with grace, trust, and determination, I’m committed to ascension. The right person will catch up with me eventually since we will be on the same path. His commitment to himself will be just as clear as mine. No chasing, no running, no tricks, no convincing. Two people walking side by side with a shared view of life and love. Emotional storms are inevitable. But so is that magnificent, delicious period after the rain stops. We just have to wait it out. After all, it’s only weather.

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Retreat Part 2: Dai En

Hey there. So if you’ve read the first post in which I began to describe my silent retreat, you may recall the mention of Sensei Dai En Friedman. She was the teacher who transmitted the Japanese White Plum Buddhist lineage to the other teachers, Senseis Koshin and Chodo (both super cool, funny guys). Until the last of the seven days I thought her name was Diane. It’s Dorothy, and she was a dancer for Martha Graham many versions ago. After suffering a major back injury that essentially stripped her of her dancer’s identity and ability, she ultimately found her true essence in Buddhism. We can only find ourselves after wandering around lost for awhile. Dai En also is one of the senseis who runs the well known Ocean Zendo in East Hampton. Side note: I have never been to the Hampton’s nor have I ever had any interest, now I do. While the other retreat leaders wore black robes, hers were a regal bright purple. She has a crown of soft white hair. I was immediately drawn to her, partially because I was fascinated that she was a woman, a Jewish woman at that, and because she was the transmitter of all of this incredible information and tradition. She’s a quietly powerful figure, who walked with grace, strength, and humility. Midway through the retreat, during morning kinhin (walking meditation) at around 6:30 am a voice told me “you’re going to meet your guru today”. It’s important that I tell you where in my head I heard this. When it’s to the right and I feel it outside my head, like in the space above my shoulder, it’s not real, most likely coming from my ego/shadow self/ imagination/neurotic reactivity. When it’s at the base of my skull a couple inches above my neck then it’s truth. I have never not been able to tell the difference. What we feel in our gut is also heard elsewhere. This is the work of the third eye and ajana chakra. It is a marvel when this type of communication takes place. You just know. Ok, so I get this message. I smiled to myself and said, ”ok let’s see”. I wasn’t skeptical, just curious but with no expectations. I had not met Dai En yet. Full disclosure; I was knee deep in the Ram Dass/Maharaji archives from the late 60’s and early 70’s. So I was entrenched in the whole notion of a guru. I was aware that subliminal messaging could have been a bit at play.


The word “guru” means “one who dispels the darkness”. It’s someone who sheds light. We have many gurus all the time. It doesn’t have to mean one magical figure who can read your mind. The biggest jerk you know is unwittingly your guru if you’re a student of consciousness. We can learn from anyone and everything. Nature is a guru in that it teaches stillness, phases, patience, change, harshness, and wonder. Each evening we had a voluntary dokusan (five minute meeting) with one of the teachers. I loved these because I finally got to speak, it was a break from sitting and meditating, and I loved personally connecting to the peeps in charge. We never knew which teacher our section of the room was assigned to. That evening it was my section’s chance to meet with Dai En. I was excited. They took us out five people at a time, and as I was waiting my turn, my whole body started to shake. I was reacting to something. My eyes welled up with tears and I was overcome with emotion. I sat in that line every day, but only had that reaction then. When I bowed and entered her room it was hard to speak without crying. I was clearly connecting to her energy. I had been having much difficulty with a certain important person in my life, and right after I introduced myself she said, “so what’s going on with (this person)?” I asked how she knew that, and she looked me straight on the eyes and said she just knew. Bam, that was the trifecta for me. Around 6 am I was told I’d meet my guru and at around 6 pm I had. I knew that incident could just have been isolated. Perhaps she was there to teach me in that moment, and not necessarily that I was going to follow her around forever. Each moment contains something else we need. But there was no denying her insight into me, and how strongly I reacted to her presence. I reacted that way only one other time, to a very spiritual person who I’ve known for three years. Same thing; I was full of fireworks then burst into tears at eye contact, no words had been said yet and we’d never met. She’s very much in my life since that day and has given me an unshakable bedrock of strength and guidance. Her impact on me has been life altering. As was this encounter. I told her that I was afraid of this person. She said “you’re afraid of yourself”. I took it and though I did not know why that would be, I really accepted not knowing. It would come when I was ready. There are no obvious reasons why I’d fear myself. I’m not self destructive, I have learned how to be good to myself, I have good habits and discipline, and I generally have my act together. So I was curious but didn’t question my need to explore that. I do know that every single way we relate to others is a direct correlation to how we relate to ourselves. Needless to say those five minutes were not nearly enough for me, but as her attendant was literally but lovingly dragging me out, I said ,”I can’t believe how many people have bunions!”, and boom, the connection was sealed with laughter. Making these teachers laugh was kind of a mission. It’s like trying to impress Lorne Michaels at an SNL interview. I had five minutes to gain massive insight into myself and crack a joke that would leave a lasting impression. I must say I think I accomplished this each time. At next day’s dokusan with Sensei Shinzan who joined us from Mexico, I brought this fear thing up. I asked him why one would potentially be afraid of themselves. He asked me a few questions and none of my answers were satisfactory to him. He cut me off and redirected me several times. I am used to charming my way in and out of most situations, and someone saying nope, nope, nope was a frustrating first. I was really trying to delve and I was annoyed that after all this self exploration I was coming up short. But then Shinzan hit on something he and I had discussed a couple days prior, and I struck emotional oil. I can’t write about it here, but it went back to early on in my childhood, where so many things begin. Basically I learned very early on not to trust myself. We fear what we don’t trust, and there is nothing that can really mask that. I had become afraid of this person because I was mirroring those feelings of a lack of trust. This realization was fast; then the work of dealing with it began. This is why people go on these silent retreats. To find those silos of pain that we ignore, forget about, or think we are over. The next couple days I saw tons of black smoke pouring out of my root chakra, the one that houses our sense of safety and security. It’s the one for me that’s usually unbalanced. It’s at the bottom of our stomach, and I’ve had ulcerative colitis since I’m 11. The smoke was like the bad spirits that came to take Patrick Swayze in Ghost, or the death eaters in Harry Potter. I’m telling you the Harry Potter references were everywhere. Koshin was like Dumbledore, Chodo is huge and reminded me of Hagrid, and Dai En was duh Mrs Mcgonagall. Following these discoveries, I’d often merge with Dai En in my meditation seat. That never happened to me before. I just kept absorbing her and it never felt forced. When I met her and told her about the guru message and how I can tell the different voices from each other, she nodded knowingly and said it’s great that I can discern. I told her about the merging and she said ,”I completely understand that”. I knew she would. I also told her about two visions I kept having of me and her. One in which we were standing in front of a wall covered in layers of old wallpaper. Each layer had writing on it, with words containing various roles or narratives in my life. I was peeling away each old layer, crumpling it up, and discarding it. At first I was aggressively ripping it down, but because she knows me, she told me to slow down and not rush (damn, this woman is on point). Behind each layer that we knew I no longer needed was a giant, quivering, white heart. It had a milky, gelatinous quality. When I could see it she told me to climb in and I did, lying down peacefully in a fetal position. She didn’t join me in there but she never left me. I have this vision to this day, and will invoke it when I get trapped in the narratives. The second scenario was her and I in an empty movie theater. We sat front row, watching a scene of me gasping and drowning in a dark, choppy ocean. Overcast skies. Then she said ok next, and I came up for air and settled comfortably with my head above water. Again she asked for the next scene, in which I’m happily floating and doing the backstroke. I’m smiling and moving at my own, unhurried pace. No one is bothering me or holding me down anymore. When I told her both of these scenarios she of course got it instantly. This is why we need these teachers and spiritual masters. They are here to guide us home. None of this is made up bullshit. The black smoke kept coming out and lessened in volume. More on that in the next post. When she and I continued to discuss this fear, the whole purpose of my being there on this certain retreat at this time began to unfold. To finally deal with this body of fear at the most primal level. I’ve been working on it deeply for about a year but this was the deepest I’ve ever gone. I kind of followed her around like a creepy yet sweet puppy the rest of the time. I lit up when I saw her and I beamed when she told me what a sweetheart I am. I asked her if we could continue our relationship outside of this week, and that I’d understand if she’d decline. I said I bet people ask you that all the time. She replied that they don’t and that she’d be happy to. On the last day I coincidentally wound up in the ladies room a few times with her. I told her I’d understand if she was considering filing a restraining order, and she cracked up. Mission accomplished, Lady Dai. Mission accomplished. I love you so much. But you already knew that.


Sound of Silence

How does one put the experience of a weeklong silent retreat into words? That’s an obvious opener, I know, but it’s true; this week of my life is almost too sacred to describe. I had been wanting to try a silent retreat for quite some time now. Wanting to ride the waves of going deeper within, wanting to not need to speak so as to discover communication in other forms, wanting to prove the yenta chatterbox in me could do it (others had doubts, I did not), wanting to sit and marinate amongst all my inner turbulence which is unavoidable on the quest for bursts of calm. Forcing the insufferable stream of loudness that tackles our mental state, often when we are at our least suspecting, to just shut up already. I wanted to be in a situation in which I did not drag cumbersome, destructive themes that I’ve worked so hard to discard. I wanted to try something new and unfamiliar, a fresh theme which has indeed proven itself wonderful and is therefore welcome to stick around. I just wanted to go and I didn’t overthink my reasons until just now. I can be impulsive but I can also be deeply intuitive. I have learned to discern, and this was clearly an intuition. I did no research, as is often my way. When it feels right I don’t question. There are many places near me that offer silent retreats, but I landed in this particular gin joint after googling Tibetan physicians in New York, for someone very close to me who is ill. The stream of the internet floated me to the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. They were offering a weeklong silent retreat in Garrison, New York at an ancient monastery now known as The Garrison Institute. The retreat was called Sesshin. At first I thought this was a funky way to spell “session”, kind of like how the Kardashians spell everything with a K. I later learned that “Sesshin” means “touching your heart”, which made a lot more sense. Click, register, done. This decision was mostly based on the fact that the dates seemed to work and it was close by.

I briefly glanced at the teachers running the retreat just to give me some kind of visual. I noticed they all bore the title Sensei and that the head Sensei was a woman who looked about 70. I was intrigued by that alone. Her last name was Friedman; instant homie. Fun fact: “Friedman” is a common Jewish surname that means “free man” in Yiddish. I choose to apply symbolism here. Having been consumed with DJing, my son’s bar mitzvah, then getting my kids packed and ready for camp, I had no time (nor need) to further look into this. My honest plan was to just flow with whatever. I cannot explain how liberating it is to have achieved such a new level of adaptability. I was never a terrible control freak, but I distinctly remember a few years where I was internally unhappy (I was not aware of this), and so the need to micromanage my surroundings was a textbook means of illusionary safety. God, the things we must control when we are internally all over the place. It’s a cliche for a reason. Our ability to adapt is housed in the second chakra and relates to the element of water. As I keep digging through my inner reservoirs, be they of love or fear, my ability to adapt keeps expanding. It’s lovely and freeing. It just feels very nice to trust yourself and the Universe, and to know you are going where you need to be and that you will be just fine, even if you don’t like it. The only question we need to ask is really whether or not we trust in all the factors and lessons that each individual moment contains. If we do, all other details seem to evaporate. They don’t contain nearly as much importance as we have been trained to believe. If we let details outside ourselves control our lives then we’re screwed.

It was interesting to me how various groups of friends reacted to this trip of mine. My DJ friends were intrigued but thought it was cool (creatives are open minded), my spiritual community peeps were so excited and knew I’d love it since they do this all the time, and my Jewish friends were baffled and horrified. Was I going with someone?? Can you really not talk for a WHOLE WEEK?? What if you hate it, will you leave?? I’ve never heard of this, it’s just too crazy. I could never! Can you text?? What is the food/room/crowd going to be like?? I just laughingly rolled with these reactions as well, having expected them. My close friends didn’t necessarily understand the appeal but unwaveringly support me in all I do. They were more of the “not for me but go for it” ilk, which is one of the bedrocks of true friendship. Ok, so I get there on a Friday afternoon, committed to walking in there unattached to roles. That’s one of the beautiful parts of a silent retreat with a group of strangers; the details and facts of our lives are unimportant. Married, divorced, kids, gay, brilliant, fat, old, young, attractive, poor. All irrelevant. It’s incredible how much easier it can be to connect to a fellow human being without all of that being in the way. Connection and the human desire and need to do so is simple. It’s we who complicate that. The goal of the retreat, in addition to inner self work, was that we were 65 people who moved as one being. We all had the same schedule that began at wake up with a gong at 5:30. We had to walk, sit, eat, chant, bow, meditate, and do work duty as a unified force. The symbolism of all of this was very moving. No one seemed to have a problem with it. It was profoundly emotional to drop so quickly into the concept that all beings are One. We are whole as individuals, yet also complete as a single entity. One is the number that gives rise to all others. It is the most powerful numeral though it’s just the first. Each one of us mattered, yet we were the sum and not the parts. I was brought to tears multiple times throughout the day when I thought about this. I still am.

Once during work time when a group of us was assigned to dust and sweep, a woman asked for permission to speak. She said she felt as if her heart would burst, just sweeping in perfect harmony with someone she never met. She articulated this so beautifully, and the rest of us were so moved. She even described her sweeping partner as her sister. They didn’t even know each other’s names. It was just a lovely sentiment that described what this experience is meant to feel like. Even Daishi (Deb Schwartz, naturally), our strict but loving camp counselor for the week, was clearly so touched by this brief break in silence. When I arrived at Garrison, which looks exactly like Hogwarts, I barreled in there like the typical well meaning “vilde chaya” that I can often be. That Yiddish term means “wild animal” and is often derogatory. Here I mean it lovingly. I’m pretty self aware. My energy comes on strong, my smile stronger, and I flew in to this mission with gusto. As soon as I saw the dozen or so people in flowing black Japanese robes I seriously asked if there was a gift shop where I could purchase one. The shaved head piece was less appealing to me, but some of those ladies can really pull off a Mohawk🏻. There was not a gift shop and as I later learned; those robes must be earned. “Earned” for an entitled Jewish girl is a concept that’s initially a mindfuck, but as I said before I AM NOW ADAPTABLE. The schedule we were given was in Japanese and very detailed. We were still allowed to talk during registration, so I looked at this other girl and we were both like um...But we laughed knowing we, like so many others, were in this together and would figure it out. That was one of the cool parts of this, that both newbies and seasoned practitioners were in the same boat. We’d row as a team. There was no elitist ranking or hierarchy that was intimidating. The veterans were wonderful at guiding us newcomers, and the love and support was palpable. What blew my mind was how many older people had come, particularly from other parts of the country. Someone even flew in from Hawaii! To be 75 years old and still be on a path for betterment and introspection was honestly just so awe inspiring. We can alter and deepen our trajectory at any point. It was so impactful, witnessing folks of any age refusing to resign to the social and cultural models of what their lives should look like. Our hearts beat until the end of these lives. There is opportunity for expansion in every moment. Who decided that one’s goal at that stage in life should be an annual cruise with the family, while biding time until bodies get cancer or just fall apart? Why should we get quieter and more invisible the older we get, while the rarer outspoken octogenarian is praised for still maintaining kooky eccentricity? Why does anything have to be anything? The physical conditions on this retreat were not the easiest for an older person. There was no air conditioning and it was blazing hot. There were no elevators. We were expected to be on time for everything. We were on the floors cleaning. The bathrooms were communal. I had such respect and appreciation for anyone who shoved all that aside in order to soul search. There were also several married couples that were there together. That was so wonderful and foreign to me; for a couple to be so united in this kind of work. The first morning during meditation at 6 am, an elderly gentleman had a minor heart attack. I noticed him at check in because he walked with a cane, wore denim overalls, and looked exactly liked the actor Wilford Brimley. He sat across from me in the zendo, the huge meditation room that used to be the cathedral of the monastery. Around 6:20 I noticed he fell asleep and began to snore, head rolled back. The women in black robes who sat in the back and played the sound bowls and made the announcements went over to gently nudge him awake. When he didn’t respond they checked his pulse. He was turning really pale and it was clear something was wrong. He was carefully laid down in the back. The rest of us all knew what was going on but kept absolutely silent. It was scary and uncomfortable, as life is when we don’t know what’s going on. My heart was pounding and there was a woman across from me that was crying. I said to myself while counting my mala beads, “he’s in good hands. Just keep your eye on yourself and keep going. It’s ok to be scared, one way or another it will be ok”. Sometimes the best way we can help is to stay calm and quiet. To just listen and be present. To quietly support and send energy with silent focus. I was aware of the symbolism of all of this at the time. The fact that this happened day one was clearly a message out group needed to receive. The human instinct to protect ourselves includes needing to understand everything in our surroundings. It’s survival mode and it makes sense. But then there’s trusting in a higher power, which loosens that grasp. The need to know, predict, and comprehend begins to dissipate. Trust doesn’t have to be easy, that’s why it’s trust. Watching this man go through this was extremely hard; what if he was dying right in front of us?? But that’s life. It is full of scary situations and we are meant to stay centered and focused, all the while making room for our discomfort. An ambulance came to take him away. A few hours later we were informed that he has a history of heart problems (all the more reason he was such an inspiration for coming in the first place) and that he’s ok and will be returning. He did return and seemed completely fine through the remainder of the retreat, hobbling on his cane and all.

What a Buddha this man was. He taught us a beautiful lesson that morning, which set the tone for the rest of the week. Had that happened in a synagogue it would have been utter chaos. Everyone would have been freaking out, loudly and dramatically. That’s not helpful. It only would have embarrassed the person in the middle of the ordeal, added unnecessary drama, frightened any children present, and created a vortex of terror. Our silence and focused allowed this man to be privately tended to with dignity. Telling ourselves “it’s ok, you’re safe” is an essential part of our inner dialogue. Which brings me to “kinhin”; walking meditation. I often write about how it’s vital for me to connect to the earth with bare feet. That grounding and connection to the earth soothes me tremendously. Sand, grass, tile, whatever. Every morning in my sunrise vinyasa class we do 54 full prostration bows. On Sunday’s we do 108. It’s such a special practice that we regulars love. Life is all flow. We go up, we go down, we are grounded, then shaken, we rise, and then we fall. Constantly. But feet for me, this year, have become increasingly important teachers. The feet contain one of the minor chakras, the plantar chakra. We are built to connect via them. I discovered this year that I have felt I’ve had to run my whole life, as a result of being hunted and chased by certain central figures. You run when you feel unsafe. This includes shutting down emotionally and layering our hearts with armor. Running away isn’t just physical. This is the first time in my life where I’m learning to internalize that I’m actually safe. I need to remind myself of this constantly, as residual fear based conditioning arises. It takes time to undo those psychological knots, and patience with ourselves is a loving practice. Love, including self love, is slow and steady. It’s obtained step by step. It’s not necessarily some cosmic boom, as in fairy tales. Authenticity and depth requires time. The layers needed to forge a relationship with ourselves takes a lot of time. Forgiveness, respect, compassion, kindness, humor, introspective observation, sweetness, and care can’t possibly arise suddenly. That’s why layers of love with another takes time too. Infatuation is immediate but it fades because it’s ego based. Getting to know myself better has forced me to slow down, listen, and look at the difference between illusion and truth. And it’s not true anymore that I’m being hunted because I have successfully outrun all of those people. I loved kinhin because I had to pay attention to each step, and each one was a beautiful reminder that the whole pace of my life has changed, on both the inner and outer spectrums. I once read that to watch Thich Nhat Hanh walk is to have a life altering experience. To see how possible it is to be so utterly mindful and appreciative of each step, breath, and heartbeat. How each movement matters. Our outer pace is indicative of our internal clock. The people I know that run around like chickens without heads aren’t calm in any sense. No one envies those people and wants to emulate them. How we pace ourselves matters. How we walked, ate, swept, chanted, bowed, sat, stood, waited all mattered. We were mindful of ourselves and those around us. The teachers would remind us daily to please take good care of ourselves because that means we are caring for those around us too. This is the opposite of all that fake martyrdom nonsense, where people, especially women, are trained to believe that we must ignore our own needs in the service of others. It’s such bullshit and it leads to nothing but a resentful need for external accolades, it’s a bottomless cup. To be told to be gentle with ourselves by other adults is a wonderful feeling. It’s part of how we reparent ourselves, and it absolutely causes us to be calmer and gentler with others. If we are internally frenetic, the energy we emit will help no one.

By the way, I’ve also learned that the slower you are, the more you accomplish because focus and attention is increased. Rushing around like a lunatic often results in a pile of unsatisfying nothing. The days I drag myself out of bed at 5:50 for yoga are not easy. But those are hands down my most productive days. It sets an intention, a pace, a commitment. Another favorite part of mine was “teisho”; dharma talks from the teachers. We had one a day for 30 minutes. Soaking up wisdom and perspective, and hearing people finally talk, was a highlight for me. The grounds at Garrison are stunning. Fields, meadows, views all just splendid. It’s a kind, pesticide free environment so there was an array of insects. Once I was lying on the grass during free time, and about six butterflies landed on me. I felt like a Disney princess. Each night after we finished evening mediation, a bunch of us gathered to look out onto the river. I have never seen larger or more fireflies in my life. It was perfect serenity, as well as a satisfying sense of accomplishment that we had completed yet another day.

A popular inquiry about this experience has been about the food. The food was excellent. They have special chefs at Garrison who only serve organic, farm to table cuisine made of fresh, locally grown ingredients. I have been meaning to purchase their special cookbook. All meals are served buffet style, and even the way we took our food was done lovingly and patiently. There was not a meal where I did not think to myself that a Jewish buffet line is literally like the most maniacal scene from Lord of the Flies. It’s survival of the fittest by women in Chanel suits, in a frenzy of urgent gluttony. Yes, I get the Holocaust trickle down that there won’t be enough food. But that’s long over, and somehow I don’t think that’s what’s really going on in the heads of Jews in 2019. On the retreat we took what we needed, with respect to everyone else, and no one ate until everyone had a plate at their seat. One body. Before we ate we said a prayer thanking the farmers, the pickers, and all others involved in preparing the food. Included in the prayer was may our bodies be deserving of this food, and may this food aid us in serving humanity. Food, like all else, should be pure, delicious, and beneficial. Not speaking during meals actually made me eat less, because my bites were slower and more attentive. We need so much less than we think we do, in almost every way. I’m sure my digestive system did a happy dance at not being rushed into doing its job. It all goes back to mindfulness, including being aware and appreciative of our internal organs. They need care and respect too. On a different note, this was a Sōtō zen retreat, from the White Plum Asian lineage. I did not know this going in, and it was funny to me how “whatever” I’d been. When I looked into this a bit more one night (I did have my phone with me but used it very sparingly) I read about the Sōtō approach vs the Rinzai method, both terms I heard about from reading Jack Kornfield. In a Rinzai school they basically beat the shit out of you until you reach meditative states. I’m not sure being knocked unconscious equates to spiritual bliss, but who am I to deprive masochists of their fun? It turns out this is understandably illegal in America, where we prefer to injure each other more passive aggressively. But I also said to myself laughingly, “monk, shmonk. If someone punches a Jewish chick from New Jersey and pulls her freshly blown out hair, they’re getting kicked back and will lose that round”. Retreat humor!

As I said before, I went into this with almost no preconceived notions, a good life approach in general. But I definitely assumed it was going to have more of the Indian Hindu yogic flavor that I’m used to. I showed up with my beads and burgundy elephant print pants, thinking there would be guided movement and Ayurvedic cooking demonstrations. I was clearly the little Bhakti yogi amongst a sea of black robes, who bowed with exaggerated arm stretching flourish, because that’s how I’ve been taught to gather energy from the space I’m entering. Energy in a space is a real thing. Fung Shui, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Ba Gua; those are all
ancient, time honored methods of being one with space and energy of our surroundings. Damn right I was going to absorb all those good vibrations. To oversimplify but maybe not really, there’s one Buddha from whom all this originated. One original Buddha whose story generated through India, the Sanskrit yogic approach, and also to Asia, which birthed these other methods of teaching. The principles and messages are the same. Different paths to the same destination, it’s just a matter of which road map you’re using at the time. There are many statues of Buddha. The particular one that was on the alter in the zendo was of him looking calm, sitting atop this ugly, teeth bearing lion. Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison, who is also a psychotherapist and author, explained that this certain depiction was used because the lions and demons are always here. Within us and around us. The goal isn’t to get rid of them since that’s impossible, but it’s to see them, make peace with them, and rise above them. THAT is the part that’s indeed possible. No matter what your demons may be, you can always find your way to stay ahead of them. The Buddha doesn’t teach anything that’s unattainable. He was a human, not a deity. I knew going in that we are always given the life experience that is required for our growth in that exact moment. I first learned that from Eckhart Tolle, but as Dai En Friedman said during her teisho, “the dharma always gives us what we need”. I needed this specific retreat at this specific moment, which is why I didn’t question it. Instinct put me there, and as instincts usually are, this one was right. My life has already begun to unfold in more ways from this week. I’ll write about it more, but I’m going to stop now because this is one long ass post and I’m hungry. As for Wilford Brimley, his message carried me throughout. I thanked him in the brief speech we were allowed to make at the end. At our goodbye meal, which was overflowing with emotion like the last day of sleep away camp, he handed me a note that he asked me to read at home. I waited because I am now just learning what it means to not rush. It was a short note with his number, and that he’d like to stay in touch. I was so moved and will definitely reach out. As I said, gender, age, and all other seemingly external details fade when a spark of connection has been ignited. The closeness we can feel without words, like my neighbor in the zendo ,who gently put a box of tissues next to me one day when I was tearfully releasing. I never got his name or the chance to thank him, as he had to skip the last meal to make a flight. It doesn’t matter, in that moment we knew each other. One body; you cry I cry. You smile I smile. Laughter is contagious for a reason. We all held space for each other in this weighted silence that was powerfully unifying. I have already joined the zen center back home. I want this for my life as a regular reminder of why I’m in this body. The zen center trains people how to work with the elderly, the infirmed, the grieving, and the dying. I have never encountered more selfless, humble kindness like this in my life. It was astoundingly pure. It cut to the heart of all matters, which as you know, is simply the heart in each of us. This retreat was one giant metaphor for life. I’m so grateful to have stepped into this place with these teachers and these fellow practitioners, and that my life brought me there. What a different experience my entire life has become. It all used to be so uniform and predictable, which used to drive me crazy. If every day and every moment, especially the hard times, brings us to where we are meant to be, then I’ll take this one and keep following it. Every stone is part of the path, and the path is never ending. For the first time in my life, I don’t need to know where I’m going, or with whom. My commitment is to just keep going, flowing, trusting, falling, and getting back up. I’ll wind up where I’m meant to be. Om shanti, Gate Gate Paragate, namaste, or just thank you. It all works. Even words and letters, in all their different meanings and configurations, can be of one linguistic body. It’s why the mute can still speak, the blind can read, and the deaf can be one with music. The possibility for unification is awesome and astounding. When the robed ladies in the zendo played their enormous sound bowls, banging them then catching the vibration and keeping it moving in circles, those sounds engulfed each of us and filled this huge room. Sound is incredibly powerful in its ability to reach our most primal, hidden spaces. Yin and yang, sound and silence. It’s all necessary to create the Oneness.

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Take It Or Leave It

This quote from Abraham Hicks really impacted me the other day. Sometimes we can know things but still need constant reinforcements of those ideas. Life is a series of unfolding events in which we are meant to further awaken. This is only possible if we leave old versions of ourselves behind. For example, if your relationship sucks in daily life, chances are it will still suck on a five star vacation. Sure, you might both be more relaxed being away from the daily grind, but if you can only be “happy” together on a trip... It really is true; we can move from one scenario to the next but if we are bringing the same pathologies, issues, fears, doubts, and insecurities to each new situation then we never level up. We need to bring new versions of ourselves to meet these new sets of circumstances.

I recently entered a new situation and due to years of embedded conditioning, I find my old tendencies swimming to the surface. This is uncomfortable but good. It gives me a chance to skim the fat and uncover a clear mental broth. I don’t want to bring the old version of myself to this new place. I will no longer identify with her. My mind is used to attaching to her old ways, but the rest of me has learned so much and knows better. I don’t judge her at all. In fact I regard her with compassion. She was so sweet and never learned better. She did the best with what she was taught. She was such a little soldier even then. I understand why she did everything she did. But she’s no longer relevant. I will bring the new me to walk through these new doors. The me that allows Source to flow through me unrestricted. The me that trusts and surrenders. The me that won’t allow toxic thought patterns to rule my mind. The me that says to my mind, “leave her be, her soul is at peace” (I actually say this through the day).

I recently made a necessary decision that I never thought I’d make. That was a major step in the direction of the new me. The old me would never have let this person go. She would have grasped on, even though she knew it wasn’t serving her. Oy, poor girl. I have visualized gently laying her down to sleep. She can rest now and forever. A new me has risen and more versions will continue to rise. That’s how it’s supposed to be for all of us. Don’t bring your old stuff to new situations. Then they’re not new, right? It becomes same shit different day. You don’t want that because it doesn’t feel good. Anything that doesn’t feel good can be left behind. It’s not easy but it’s doable. We are so lucky to have so much information today that teaches us step by step how to no longer identify with our former selves. If you keep shlepping (Jew!) the old you along you’ll never have a new chapter. This doesn’t mean everything in your life changes, it just means that how you relate to your life is different. I have been objectively observing both myself and others in this way. Moving from relationship to relationship with the exact same issues just being recycled. Recycling is great, just not here. It’s just relocating the bag of stinky trash from place to place. Bottom line, we are never stuck. It’s the mind that keeps us trapped by grasping onto the familiar. After all, familiarity disguises itself as safety. I have been literally telling myself,

“I will not drag my old stuff into new spaces. I no longer identify with her. The old coping mechanisms no longer apply. Everything about me and my life is different.”

These affirmations are important and helpful. The old me didn’t have them to anchor myself. It’s always the snake, shedding skin. Always being reborn. Loosening. Regenerating. It can be very scary to move on, especially when we leave certain people behind. They can always do their own work and join us. It’s an invitation for them to go forward, not for us to revert backwards. Note who in your life brings out new and improved versions of yourself. Who invites you to grow. Compare this with those who keep you stuck. They may not want you to release dead weight. Your dead weight may very well make them comfortable. Then there are those who force us to grow without having any idea they’re doing it. And still we need to take the lessons but let them go, because they refuse to awaken and uncover new versions of themselves. They can unknowingly guide us towards self improvement without being in alignment with themselves. And this can really hurt us. Everyone is a mirror for us, but sometimes only one person sees that. I am teaching myself new lessons now. Lessons that the new me can handle. She wants them. Only the past can bring us to the present. Only the present can bring us to the future. How interesting that in another context the word “gift” is a synonym for present. Receive the gift of a clean house. Don’t let your old vibrations decide for you how this new moment will turn out. Leave that behind. You’re ready. You’re always ready on some level. You just have to know that. If any of you reading this needed to hear that, then I’m honored to pass the message along. Go get the next version of yourself, the one free of old mental chatter that holds you back. Go meet your new vibration. It’s been waiting for you all along. My grandfather used to say after a trip ,”it’s good to leave, it’s good to come home”. We can only return home once we’ve left.

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The Jewish Question

Nope, not revisiting genocide here. So to all of my devoted Neo Nazi followers, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Oh, and go fuck yourselves.

Today’s topic at hand is whether or not I’ll date a non Jewish man. I get asked this a lot, whether in person or on dating apps. My answer is no. I recently had a very nice exchange with a seemingly lovely non Jewish man on an app. We definitely had certain things in common and he seemed like a genuinely intelligent, nice guy. He very respectfully inquired how strict I am about the Jewish guy rule, meaning would I consider giving him a shot. He wanted to know if his being openly spiritual could potentially be enough. All fair questions, and I was flattered that he took the time to have a thought out discussion about it. My answer was this; dating a Jewish man is indeed extremely important to me, for a few reasons.

I explained how I find all organized religions to be quite problematic. That they cause more divisiveness than harmony. Look at the many warring sects in Judaism alone; there’s no way Hashem is proud of that. Rules in general are to build cages in some capacity. If the true nature of the spirit is limitless freedom, then any kind of religious restrictions and rules prevent that. In my humble opinion, religion and spirituality are quite conflicting. Maybe they’re distant cousins but they don’t keep in touch much. Prayer, blessings of gratitude, holidays, Shabbat, certain traditions, and mindfulness are deeply important to me. They are ingrained in my life and my children’s lives. Judaism for me is about culture. It’s just too much a part of who I am, but not from a religious standpoint. There are certain approaches to life that are just a Jewish chop (pronounced like challah, not like chop wood). Granted, there are also Jewish approaches to life I do not vibe with, but there is simply a strong cultural tie that binds us. I don’t really want to have to explain to someone what a sukkah is, why Friday night dinner is a lovely concept, or why it’s important to me that my kids attend Yeshiva and learn biblical studies. I don’t want my Judaism to be some cute novelty, just like my blogging and DJing isn’t some cute novelty.

This next point is perhaps the most important to me. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. There is not a day that this is not on my mind. They barely escaped death at the hand of some terrified, psychotic, art school reject with an unacceptable haircut, JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE JEWS. That’s all it took, no other fact mattered. I have never taken their survival or my Judaism for granted for a second. I will not take part in assimilation because I strongly feel I’d be dishonoring all they went through to survive. How they tried to rebuild the magnificent Jewish community that was unfathomably destroyed. If Judaism has been such an incredible threat to the rest of the world throughout history, it must mean something pretty damn special. Am I having more kids? No. And if I did they’d be Jewish anyway because a Jewish child is determined as such because of the mother. But that’s not the point for me. Continuity of the Jewish spirit is undeniably part of my blood, my life, my sense of humor, my faith, and certain parts of the framework of my life. I just don’t want to participate in any sort of dilution to the Jewish population. So if I dated or married a non Jew it would send some kind of message to myself and my kids that our culture may not need to be preserved. And it does. While we are all the same inside, which I am sure of, I was still born a Jew for a reason. God knows what he’s doing always. By the way, no, I did not go into this entire manifesto on Match (though I can’t imagine a better way to throw some dude off your trail), but I did highlight the main points. This gentleman was very understanding and respectful. It felt nice to honor myself by being clean, honest, and true to myself. Listen, all you need is one right? I’ve met some awesome Jewish guys thus far and the right member of the tribe will find me at the right time.

I need for my grandparents to know that their battles and victories matter to me. That I’m grateful they fought back and survived so that I could have born. Courage, like love, is a vibration that continues to be felt for generations. There are many paths to the same God. Being Jewish is just my path and there’s no way around it ✡️☮️🕉☪️✝️.

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You Feel Like Home

...which is why you’re bad for me. I recently read something that struck hard. It was that people don’t really choose who they think they deserve; they choose who feels like home. And how many of us can shoot our hands up and directly trace our destructive habits back to our childhood homes? Dr Nicole la Pera, the brilliant Holistic Psychologist on Instagram, writes so much on this. Her posts are a series of staggering revelations. Light bulbs bursting in my mind as truths leap out from our shadow selves. Follow her to freedom, People. This concept explains why we can repeat the same awful patterning over and over, perpetuating entrapment. It was simply the first language we learned so we revert back to the Mother Tongue, deciding to grasp onto the root truths that first entered our tiny malleable minds. As malleability morphs into adult rigidity, we are less inclined to make changes unless we are willing to stare at every ugly flaw in the mirror. Not changing while continuing to let ourselves down causes tremendous shame. Deep down we know how powerful we are; it’s incredibly shameful to subconsciously or consciously know that with each lousy choice we make, we are failing ourselves. I’ve seen this with myself in my past choices. I’m working diligently to create all new patterning in order to create a different set of circumstances. It’s working, and I’m proud of the results while knowing it’s a constant climb. I am also observant of certain people that bitch about the past, while making the exact same choices in the present. It’s hard as a friend to not go and shake this one particular person who is keeping themselves locked in heaviness. For those of us inclined to help it takes self restraint and humility to know that everyone’s journey is their own. I can only focus on my own path. This doesn’t mean we have to stand there and watch someone self destruct. We can gently disengage at any time, especially if we get railroaded in the process. It’s so hard to see someone we care about , who has oceans of potential, stay in the shallow. But it’s not for us to decide. Band-aides never work, whether they arrive in the form of a baby, a significant other, or a friend. No one can heal for another because it’s deeply personal inner work. But it’s maddening to watch our peeps shoot themselves in the foot over and over, just like it is when we hurt ourselves too.

What I’m painfully learning is that a person that will always let themselves down will likely let you down too. Treating others is only in relation to how we treat ourselves. I recently took a step back from someone who has let me down a lot. Like, dropped me on my ass several times. I picked myself up each time, armed with a list of understanding excuses. Hmmmm...sounds familiar. Because I’m still speaking my Mother tongue. Which means I’m also still not honoring myself because I’m choosing the same as well. It takes one to know one. The difference is that I’m on top of my own stuff. I’m deliberately taking strides to learn a new language. To broaden my knowledge of self. It’s a hard pill to swallow; to be forced to admit that my compassion and friendship was really perhaps another string of decisions that didn’t serve me. I don’t want you to be my home anymore. I’m redecorating. I want a fresh, loving space that envelops me and allows me to sink peacefully into it. Walls that keep in good choices, a kitchen that produces healthy offerings. Floors that support me, ceilings to watch over me. An endless series of doors I can keep walking through as I continued growing. A yard I can tend to that brings forth fruit and life. A gate I can open and shut that only I hold the key to. I’m moving. If you’re good for me I’ll send you my new address 📩



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Respect the Yin ☯️

I periodically have to remind myself to respect my yin side. The yang side of each of us is on the right. It’s the sun, the masculine, the active, the doing side. The yin is the moon, the feminine, the more passive, more patient side. Being a textbook Ayurvedic Pitta, my fire center usually burns hot and bright, raging at times. Not in a crazy way, just in a passionate, super proactive way. I often imagine a stove burner in my belly, with the flame being lowered. I’ll do this when I’m too hyped up about something and could stand to temper myself. The visual instantly works. It’s a good inner teacher. Since balance and equanimity is always the goal, both the yin and yang need equal airtime. Restoration is vital. Patience, trust, and the calm belief that all things flow as they must are extremely necessary in daily life. I have been calling on my yin more lately. Don’t act on impulse, just wait; yin. Don’t send that text and resist present circumstances; yin. Take child’s pose instead of that extra vinyasa; yin. Sit for a few minutes absorbing the sun; yin. Don’t search for extraneous ways to fill the silence; yin. As I’m consciously working through certain arising triggers, it really helps to honor the pause. This is a great tool for curbing reactivity. The trance of doing and reacting is just not where we want to be. My yang side serves me very well. I love him. But he needs a nap on a regular basis. I’m writing this from bed. My back is completely out and I’m frustrated. I wanted to start packing camp trunks, work on DJing, clean up little messes in the house. I’m not one to complain but I literally cannot walk. I was tensing up further thinking of all the things I should be doing right now, but then I said to myself, “Ok breathe. This is a good opportunity to embrace the yin. It’s a gift really.” Feeling that there is purpose in stillness calmed me down. After all, stillness is indeed wonderfully productive. Without it we’d miss life entirely. Looking at a sleeping loved one or into someone’s eyes requires stillness. Reading. Cuddling. Listening. Some of the greatest joys of life are born of stillness of yin. How blessed are we that we are built with the ability to both do and be? We are remarkable creatures; let’s all pause to really take that in. It feels good to not live life in this frenzied, frenetic pace. We charge our phones but not ourselves. That’s our yin, it’s our built in charging system. We are human beings not human doings. When I tap into that inner stillness it always feels soothing. Lean into your spiritual design; there are times to do and there are times to be.

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MAN-ifesting

About a year ago my therapist gave me an assignment. It was to write down in detail as to what kind of man I envisioned myself with. I balked initially but then got enthusiastic about it. She wanted eye color, body type, and any other specific I could think of. It started to sound like a more appealing exercise to me. I could design this male in exact accordance to my desires and specifications. I have had much proof of the powerful force that is manifestation in general. I believe in it. Why not apply it to this? I also am a fan of Dr Joe Dispenza, who teaches that if we imagine and are grateful for our dreams before they are made manifest, then we are inviting said dreams into our lives already. Feeling gratitude for our visions as if they’ve already happened actually creates new neural pathways that draw our visions straight towards us like magnets. It’s incredible how science and spirituality are merging so quickly. I have tried this and it works. I’ll repeat in my mind “thank you so much for x,y,z” over and over. Just imagining whatever scenario I’m calling into reality makes me happy. The happiness is caused by the release of certain chemicals in my brain. My joy and appreciation pulls what I want towards me, as per what the Law of Attraction dictates (Abraham Hicks is the best Source on the Law of Attraction). It’s like the gratitude chemicals magnetically suck what you want into your life. Um, yes please🏼‍♀️. Whatever we focus on multiplies; focusing on the negative just compounds that. Even whining about the rain will just make everything worse. Therefore zeroing in on the positive will energetically increase the good stuff too.

At first my list about the perfect guy included fairly typical traits. I did go into great detail since I’m a descriptive thinker, but there were just certain qualities that did not occur to me to articulate. I thought they were a given. Ha. Nothing in life is given. We earn it by pulling it towards us with hard work, but nothing is for free. Personal commitment and intentional awareness is required. We are rewarded only after we fight for consciousness and unpeel layers of blockages. The magic will indeed come but not on its own. It will come when we partner with Source via active alignment. Basically, how can we expect to receive something we haven’t clearly asked for? A few months ago my therapist had me check and rewrite my list. Again I resisted; what, I had been thorough. I can knock out a good list, thank you very much. She was right though. An old version of me had written the first one. There were things on there that no longer held true for me, and there were certain really important traits missing. For instance, stability. I’m a stable person for the most part. It always surprises me when someone reveals themselves to be lacking in that department. It’s remarkable how many people walking around are completely unreliable, unstable, inconsistent, and totally full of shit. It doesn’t mean these people don’t have what to teach us, but it also doesn’t mean they get to date us. Stable, cleanly intentioned, aligned, awakened, conscious, honest with themselves, someone who doesn’t use superficial forms of escapism to avoid their work. No, my original list didn’t include these. As soon as I began to redraft I felt empowered. I had begun to place my order for what I know I need. To be honest, my original list included someone who is addicted to me. I know why I wrote that, but that’s nuts; any form of addiction isn’t healthy or stable. There’s zero balance in that scenario. That is attachment and not love. I can’t be anyone’s fix, nor should someone be mine. We both need to be super solid on an individual level before coming together. If someone needs to escape in me, which has happened many times, that is a red flag. The attention aspect clouded that for me. My vision is so much clearer now. Being smothered is familiar to me so that’s what I thought I wanted. The absence of obsessiveness made me feel rejected. Whoa; zero equanimity there. My new list includes consistency, reliability, emotional intelligence. I did not write those originally because I didn’t think I was worthy of that (subconsciously). The push and pull in relationships was all I knew. A solid, unwavering midline wasn’t a concept I knew existed. Most married couples I know got together when they were 23. There is almost no shot at finding your own strong sense of balance on your own that young, its developmentally too early. There just hasn’t been enough growth since being a child. Most adults never achieve true balance. This takes time and tremendous dedication. And honesty and courage.

Its incredible; I’ve rewritten my MANifestation list several times. Each time I have, a guy like that was called into my reality. Each time the list gets honed and refined. I’m still learning what kind of partner I need and it’s in direct correlation to the kind of partner I need to be too. The triggers of my former habits pop up like that game Whack a Mole. This is good, it’s a chance to integrate all I’ve studied and work through them. There is no transformation without facing these triggers. Add to list: someone I can talk to about all this stuff cuz he gets it. Partnership isn’t role filling so two people can subscribe to an idea of superficial coupledom. It’s so they can RELATE to one another. In the deepest sense. This is how people grow together, by watering each other. That requires deep kindness, sensitivity, and encouragement. I’ve had enough experiences over the past couple years where I was left bewildered. It’s because I wasn’t asking clearly. We get sent what we need, and what we need is a series of tests that are meant to teach us to level up. These tests will keep coming until we change. Once we graduate, new ones will arrive. I mentally add to my list every day. It’s an exercise that always brings me peace. It’s really thrilling to imagine how things will be with this human. I’ll get it, just watch. Not because I deserve it (which I do) but because it’s simply the Law. Ask and you shall receive. This, my Friends, is how powerful we are. Don’t waste your requests. If they’re going to be granted regardless, make damn sure you’ve thought this through. There is a force out there that wants to give you what you want; you need to be crystal clear on what that is. Your relationship emanates from you. It’s been gratifying and also sad at times to admit that I need to do away with what clearly no longer serves me. No one said change isn’t hard and uncomfortable. I thank my old lists that gave rise to my new ones. May we all harness the innate powers of manifestation for our greatest and highest good.

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Dumping Grounds

Here is the chief reason why most relationships fail and suffer; the majority of  people project and dump all their issues onto their partner. All of us have so much hurt, fear, anger, loneliness, confusion , frustration, anxiety, and lack filling up our human casings. That’s just how it is, how this incarnation goes. It’s incredibly common and almost a given that when we find ourselves in a relationship with another, it’s like “Ok, here you go. Here are my issues for you to hold. This is what you signed up for. You hold them so I can take a break. You love me right? So you’re supposed to do this for me”. It’s like this emotional vomiting under the assumption that the other person is meant to serve as our barf bucket. When they don’t want to stink like our regurgitation anymore, or at least try to duck, we get angry. Resentful. Scared no one will absorb all the things we ourselves can’t. Projectile emotional vomiting is really what it is. I have been on both ends of this unappealing scenario many times. I have been called on to stand there like a human landfill. I have also poured my own shit onto others, before I had any idea about how this works. Before I had any idea how I as an individual work. Like, no clue. It’s like trying to read without learning the alphabet. It’s just not possible or realistic to have a healthy, thriving relationship without learning yourself really damn well. Self study is a required course we all must take over and over again. There is no graduation from this one, it’s a lifelong class. This is essential in regard to love in order to avoid burying your partner under your mountains of issues. It’s not fair or sustainable. It’s wildly impractical because nothing can last under those conditions. Putting aside the notion that you don’t want to do that to someone you claim to love, it’s on the most pragmatic level, a recipe for failure. It’s expecting a plant to live and stay green though it’s covered with an old, dusty blanket under the bed. I’m not even talking about epic romantic love, or that blissful state of being with the right person who moves you like no one else (not a myth). I’m talking about the most basic, necessary elements of keeping any relationship together, even from the standpoint of friendship and companionship. When the people in a relationship have no individual equanimity, it is a given that the relationship itself will have none too. Two jacked up puzzle pieces can’t  harmoniously interlock. Each piece needs to have fairly smooth edges and know where it belongs. It needs to know how necessary and important it is to complete the overall picture. Each piece needs to know its value and place in the scope of what is trying to be achieved. Think about it in terms of how the heart space works with the element of air, in regard to the Hindu chakra system. I’ve written about this before but it’s something I think about every single day. The more I learn about self love and how I want to relate to others, as well as how others should relate to me, the clearer this association becomes. Simply put, when someone is burying you under their messy emotional and psychological avalanche you cannot breathe. Literally. The chest tightens and constricts. There is absolutely a lack of air. The mind, body, and heart are in dire need of a healthy oxygen supply. That’s why love keeps us alive when it’s healthy and kills us when it’s not. I so often hear people in relationships say they feel like they can’t breathe under the weight of the dynamic. It’s heavy and suffocating. It begins to manifest physically. You feel slow, sad, sluggish, lethargic. The air has been sucked out. No one can breathe. Both parties become trapped in this vicious cycle of dumping and being dumped on. I dump my fear and insecurities onto you, so you now dump your resentment onto me. And so on. Everyone gets shat on in some capacity, and it’s actually insane to get angry at someone for not only wanting to not eat your shit, but to also not want to make you all clean and pretty after. Listen, when we are in relationships we are in something together, no question. We sign up to hold each other’s hair back and soothe each other when the bile arises. We want our partner to share with us so we can stand next to them and lift them up, just like how we need that too. But nowhere does that translate to us standing still while the other person aims and fires. I have done a lot of work in this area in terms of myself. Lately I’ve been thinking of how I now want and deserve to be related to. Meaning, the guy needs to know himself really well, claim responsibility for whatever resides within his own heart and psyche, and not pour his issues onto me. I have that overly empathic instinct to fix, to help, to fill holes. I’m just now learning boundaries with that, as well as respecting the other person’s timeline. Everyone needs to heal at their own pace, but everyone is indeed responsible to heal. I will no longer play the role of the lifeguard. I want to swim next to someone. Climb on my back when you get tired, but be strong and skilled enough to navigate choppy waters when I need assistance as well. This points to me newly learning that I don’t have to be the chief lifeguard anymore. After half a lifetime of providing for myself emotionally, while failing sometimes, it’s very new for me to allow myself to soften and rest. To receive, to restore. To breathe while holding hands with someone after one of those satisfyingly breathless ocean swims. To balance decades of constant motion and activity by creating space within. Space that allows for the entrance of the right person. Clear, fresh space that is only revealed after we take out the trash. Holes that need to be filled by someone else are bad. Space and air that creates room for someone are good. Since I work so hard to maintain equanimity in my own life, and it’s a constant practice, I need a man who does the same. If he isn’t committed to himself how can he be committed to me? If he’s not attuned to his own deep needs how can there be any room for mine? If he doesn’t see himself honestly and bravely then I won’t be seen either. We must do the work alone so that we can do it together. The goal is true partnership. That only comes after you partner with yourself first. To dump all your shadows onto another human is lazy, cruel, sadistic, and unfair. I don’t want to be any of those things, and I won’t be a landfill for those traits in another. My grounds have been cleaned up. I tend to them religiously because there’s no choice. They are green, lush, vibrant, and full of life. I welcome anyone who wants to plant seeds that we can nurture together. The unseen soil must be rich and healthy so the earth can birth the trees, fruit, and flowers. I want to plant a forest with someone. We need to tend to ourselves before we can tend to each other. I have always hated littering. It’s rude and thoughtless. It’s irresponsible. Healthy, loving individuals don’t litter on each other. It comes attached to a fine that’s impossible to pay.

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Un Yearning

It is a deeply intense process, unlearning the selves we think we are. The identities we have accumulated over the entire course of our lives. Even if those identities include many positive qualities and strengths, they still exist on a surface level. They were labels handed to us by our parents, teachers, social peers, and ultimately ourselves. Think of that last powerful scene in the classic 80’s teen movie “The Breakfast Club” (ugh, I can’t believe I had to even explain what that film is but whatever). The scene where the narrator is labeling each kid in detention. Each kid had a role, and it was discovered throughout the movie that none of them wanted them. Even the pretty and popular ones hated the boxes they were assigned to. It’s natural for us to start to work towards fitting into our designated boxes. We are given identities and roles so early on, so it’s almost confusing to abandon those ideas, even if they don’t quite make sense to our young souls. Who are we without them? After all, grown ups know better. They must know something we don’t. We want to please people so much, and living up to other people’s ideas of who we need to be is a great way for us to gain their approval. As we get older ourselves, and these assigned roles have hijacked our true natures altogether, leaving us seemingly bereft of plot, we become trapped in this endless cycle of false identity accumulation. A huge reason for this is that our bodies and minds have become emotionally and physiologically addicted to certain thoughts, behaviors, emotions, and reactions. That is where the prison is built. And why we do often have that feeling of “I wish I could stop thinking about this or doing this but I just can’t”. You feel trapped in your own bullshit because you actually are. I have experienced this many times. Where I’ve pleaded with myself to just stop whatever it was that was weighing me down, and I just wasn’t able to. Until we learn about what emotional addiction really is, and how it conspires with the brain to perpetuate our pain and poor choices, it is almost impossible to live a healthy life. I have learned so much from The Holistic Psychologist on Instagram. Her name is Dr Nicole LaPera and she is an absolute game changer. She explains in very user friendly terminology about why we are so messed up, and more importantly, HOW WE CAN A THOUSAND PERCENT HEAL OURSELVES. No one has to be stuck, but know this; no one is coming to save you either. This is work no one can do for you. It’s not possible. No one has access to your insides. Only you know the ingrained depths of your own painful neurotic reactivity.  Only you can chart the same unhealthy, self destructive patterning and conditioning that has taken up residence in your human. Please look up this account, I promise you’ll learn so much. There are so many keys to freedom and wellbeing but you have to get them yourself.

I recently saw a friend who was painfully recounting the same thing she’s been stuck on for as long as I’ve knew her. I am certain she wants out of this thought pattern, she’s told me so.  She knows the actions of this other person are why they are, and why they don’t pertain to her. But she couldn’t stop the mental and emotional runaway train. This is where we remain stuck. And where we carry so much shame for re-enacting our own crap. We are embarrassed and unaligned. There is an added layer of pain in our shitty choices. Betraying ourselves hurts deep. As the hole gets larger, the need to cling to those outer identities increases. As our insides don’t feel so great, the need to pretend the outsides are ok multiplies. “I’m ok” is one of the most irksome phrases. Life is never just one thing at a time, so how can we sum up our current state with two little letters?? It’s usually a lie we tell ourselves and others. It’s the most convenient answer. Ten minutes before my friend was trapped in her emotional addiction she told me she was “ok”. Emotional addiction is a real thing almost everyone has. All of us have patterning we feel helpless to stop. Pain we feel powerless to. Well, that’s the force of any kind of addiction. We have become powerless out of habit. As always, the shitty stuff wins because of the longevity factor. It’s just so freaking familiar. It’s what we know, so there’s a perverse mental message involved; I know this is going to hurt but at least there’s predictability. I am safe because I know the outcome. This is one of the functions of the ego mind; to keep you safe in the most messed up ways since it’s all it knows. Read that again. As I was reading about emotional addiction and the brain chemical reaction involved, my own patterning flew up in my face. None of this was new to me, since I have made untangling myself a massive project the past few years, but I did see certain things from a new angle. I finally saw what others have told me but that I hadn’t yet internalized on my own. The patterning I’m referring to has to do with my assigned role in romantic relationships. The role given to me by both myself and others, which no doubt stems from my earliest childhood bonding experience. For the record, some of the most unaware, unconscious people I know have terrific, loving relationships with their parents. They’re just as lost, if not more so, since they were put on this illusionary pedestal. Point being, there are no rules here. No formula for emotional health. I think it’s par for the course for it to be the Wild West in each of our minds just so that we can lasso the shit out of the horses fleeing in all different directions. It has to first be anarchy for us to gain control. Control leads to tranquility.  Ease. Calm. How great that our sense of safety and prediction can rest in a healthy, loving space? That’s where the heart trumps ego mind; when we can belly crawl to the place where our heart tells us we are safe because we are resting in loving awareness, instead of false safety due to predicting and anticipation of fear. I have been living in a fear based role my whole life. One that was built on me sitting, waiting, hoping, yearning, and longing for love, approval, recognition, and validation. Waiting to be good enough to be seen and chosen. I don’t like writing about this publicly. It’s not comfortable to expose myself like this. But that’s what I have committed to here and in my life in general; sharing and connection.

Here’s what I realized recently; the ingrained habits and cycles of yearning and longing actually truly no longer apply. My life is different. My choices are endless, my directions determined by me alone. Not in a lofty, abstract way but in actual reality. I kind of knew that but my emotional addiction to that miserable ache crept in constantly. It’s all I’ve known, and so it subconsciously told me my role is to wait. Pain is normal. Yearning is just what we do. I sat with this for awhile and I made a mental list, meticulously separating old facts from new. With discipline I will have to keep doing this until new habits form. I realized all the love, aliveness, passion, connection, expression, and freedom that I’ve been starving for is all around me. It surrounds me because I have worked so hard to awaken and uncover the purity that was hidden under too many veils to count. It’s in me and so I am in it. I literally felt the connection to the air, both my breath and the breeze on my skin as I learned even more about myself, on my porch on Friday afternoon. This is what it means to awaken. To find a new path that leaves behind old suffering. There is simply nothing in my current state that belongs with old mental habits. The emotional addictions have really become obsolete. I haven’t eaten meat or chicken in two years, so why would I look at chicken dishes on a menu? It’s simply no longer applicable or relevant. I’m not interested in those former choices, and my new brain cells don’t want them either. The old thoughts pop up constantly, that doesn’t go away so fast. But I’m so on top of them. Over and over I will see them, honor them, and choose differently until I form new and improved ways of thinking and feeling. If emotions are reactions to our thoughts, then I will train myself to become addicted to a whole new set of wonderful, loving mental and emotional patterns. The ones we were born to have. This takes consistency and commitment; to catch yourself time and again. But I’d rather choose that than to fall further into the old traps that never served me. As Eckhart Tolle says, “suffering is only necessary until you realize it is unnecessary”. I thank Source for giving me the time and space that has allowed me to come to these realizations. There is no right romantic relationship until this happens first. New love becomes old love very quickly unless we give ourselves a total makeover emotionally. And I’ve never been one for a shitty paint job to cover things up. Nah, I’d rather bulldoze the whole damn thing and rebuild. A new structure needs a new foundation. Rebuild or wait for things to crumble again. It’s your choice to get out of your own way or not.

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Prayer Giver

Here’s what’s uncomfortable for me about prayer; if I’m asking for something that means I don’t currently have it. It’s hard to need something and admit we are falling short in a specific department. If we’re talking about praying in terms of communicating with a higher power, I’m down. Love it, never doubted it. I’m not shy; if I can talk to a wall then certainly I can talk with Source. But as far as asking or pleading for something, well, that makes me feel like I’m in a very disempowered space. I know that’s just my perception that’s most likely based on old standards of perfection I was held to since childhood. The criticisms I’d get for not doing or being what was expected of me. Which morphed into adult judgement if I didn’t provide for everyone around me at all times. Therefore, admitting I’m not providing for myself is a bitter pill to swallow. Also, givers have a hard time asking for things. I’ve become so much better in that area. In fact I’d say it’s no longer an issue in most 3D ways. I’ve found that I feel I’m nurturing myself when I can ask others for things, whether it’s emotional support or help with carpool. People generally like to help, so an instant connection is established between the giver and the receiver. It feels nice. But when I’m praying for strength, wisdom, guidance, discipline, or clearing out old systems, I don’t like admitting I’m not handling that on my own. I feel weak, like I’m begging. And it makes me feel very uneasy to ask for wisdom and strength that I am lacking. My tendency to be hard on myself (sup, a lifetime of such conditioning) goes to that place of feeling deficient. Rationally I know that’s silly and false. Of course it’s ok, healthy, and expected to turn to Source. For anything at anytime. Who else is better equipped to hold our hand? But that deeply private level of vulnerability can be scary to talk about. There are only two options; asking for assistance or denying we need any. Clearly one is the better route and truthfully, discomfort is ok. We are so wired to run from anything that brings up uneasiness. Lately I’ve been praying (I hate that to me this equals pleading) for help in guiding certain energies I was pouring outward back to me. To reroute the same feelings just towards myself, where they belong. I feel it working as I imagine gusts of energy entering me, which fills me with tenderness and elation (love). I have also been redirecting that energy towards embracing the magic of uncertainty. Which is really the kicker for me right now. In a space of uncertainty anything is possible. Since there’s no need to be right, then there’s no room for wrong. One can’t exist without the other. It’s a necessity polarity. The key to embracing uncertainty fully is trust. So what this really is enforcing is just that. Which is the essence of prayer; we ask because we trust the recipient of our request with the preciousness of our deepest needs. And yes, while asking for help can feel uncomfortable, it’s a far lousier feeling to willingly remain stuck in heavy, limiting holding patterns. Ask or stuff the freedom of change down your throat where it’s sure to eat you up from the insides. Prayer has existed literally forever since we are designed to do it. It’s like refusing to breathe or eat, in that a part of you might die without it. The soul craves it. It’s both a relief and a release to unload our deepest pains onto a listening, non judgmental force. It’s a conversation we are forced to have with ourselves before we share it. It gives shape to our needs, hurts, and desires. Prayer comes in many forms. It is according to your design. It requires no book, just a truthful heart. So yeah, I’ve been asking for extra guidance and reinforcement lately. There’s a limiting energy I’ve been stuck in for too long. As always, talking to someone helps. May you receive support and guidance for whatever it is you may need help with at this moment. Please don’t ever think you’re going through life unheard. It only works if you believe it.

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Blaga for the WIN

If you’ve been following my stories, or if you’re one of my three friends who know about my life but don’t have Instagram, then you are aware I DJ’d the WIN Summit recently in NYC. Let me start by saying this gig was exactly a year after my first big gig at the Surrey Hotel Rooftop. To the day. I am truly blown away by what has transpired in that year. Personally, professionally, musically, emotionally, and spiritually. My whole demeanor, attitude, and confidence level was completely different than last May. Before the Surrey gig I cried and threw a tantrum towards my instructor (who laughed in my face). This time around I was calm, excited, and ready to roll. This gig was more involved, in that I played at three different points throughout, each with a different mood and set list. I enjoyed this aspect very much. I love a vibe challenge as well as meeting the varying needs of the crowd. Music is obviously an important sensory experience, so I wanted to provide that on as deep a level as I could. It was fun watching some bumping and grooving in this corporate environment. It’s a kick for me when people let loose when they may not have expected that to happen. 

At the private dinner the night before the main summit, each speaker went around the table, introduced themselves, and spoke about their company and how they’ve contributed to the topic of Women In Negotiation (WIN). I sat at the table in between spinning as well, and what I said was this. I honestly and plainly stated that I had nothing to add in terms of women negotiating in the workplace since I’ve never been in a typical workplace. My only exposure to an office has been watching “The Office”. I did not even graduate college (not my fault; bed rest while pregnant). So my hook was how several years ago I had to negotiate with myself. How I was at a clear crossroads in all areas of my life. I had to come to the conclusion, after years of desperately needing some sort of promotion, that I was indeed going to advocate for myself in life. Give myself that raise no one else thought I deserved. Learn new things so I could increase my value in my own mind. It was that or quit. I noted that no one at that table did not at one point go through rounds of self negotiation before they could then state their case to their superior.  These women had spent years learning their worth before they could assert themselves professionally. They, on a deeper level, had to have believed they were worthy and deserving of being seen, heard, and recognized. I saw the heads nodding and the  not so quiet “Amens!” Everyone likes a personal story. It makes the speaker more relatable and open. In the five minutes that I had the mic, I felt I could connect by going that route. It never fails me because it’s authentic. Listen, I can’t go toe to toe with a financial powerhouse from UBS in a numbers discussion. I can’t talk about leading a team of hundreds in Silicon Valley. I know an embarrassingly little amount about politics (does Veep count??). But I know what it means to fight for yourself from your heart, and what it means to wrestle with your head in order to get to where you need to be in life. I’ve learned painful lessons about self worth that came in layers of introspective honesty, patience, and compassion. Not to mention courage.  I’ve learned to know what it means to manifest your new life, and to love the present while dreams of the future are seen so clearly they feel as if they’ve already happened. I’ve learned that the sky is the limit if your vibration is one of joy, truth and passion. I’ve learned to struggle through seemingly endless obstacles and roadblocks in order to achieve. I’ve learned to ignore the often wounding and hurtful remarks from those who don’t support you, because it hurts way worse to not honor yourself. I’ve learned that if your vision is pure, you will organically get to where you need to go. A big smile and some appropriate chutzpah doesn’t hurt.         

The women I met at WIN were a new species that I was fortunate enough to observe. It was frankly the first time I’ve ever encountered female professionals and pioneers on such a mass scale. It was a treat to walk amongst them for a day and a half. I learned a lot, especially about how there are so many good sisters out there who genuinely want to lead and inspire, like I hope to do. And if I get to be the creative, musical fairy in glittery pants, then so be it. Oh right, that’s another way to get what you want; stand the F out🏻. Every human, regardless of gender, has the responsibility to negotiate for themselves in every way. This applies to love, friendship, leadership, and being compassionate. It all starts with knowing we are deeply worthy of all that life has to offer. We are the source of all things that have made it into our lives. Self negotiation should never really stop since self study should never stop. We know better, we do better🏻🏻. GET. ITTTTTTTTTT. 

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