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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Modeh Ani

There’s a Hebrew prayer in Judaism that we are supposed to say upon waking up each morning. I’ve been saying it with my kids for years on the drive to school. We say it in Hebrew then our own loose translation of it, which is , ”Thank you, Hashem, for this beautiful day”. If it’s raining, sunny, or has other obvious defining characteristics we insert that adjective too. It’s a lovely tradition I started many years ago en route to preschool with my oldest. The ride to school is fast, but even if we could sneak in a line or two about how the rain is beautiful because it helps things grow, then I’d feel it was the right way to start the day. After all, what is prayer without proper intention, and there’s no better lens of gratitude than the pure mind of a child.

I’ve been thinking about this particular prayer lately; are we thankful that we didn’t die overnight or are we thankful to have another day to be alive? There’s a huge difference between both meanings. Most Jews I know are consumed with death. The fear level among the physically healthy is sadly staggering. Pretty much everyone I know assumes they’ll get cancer at some point, it’s just a matter of time. We buy cemetery plots by the bulk, as if shopping for a party at Costco. The family I was raised in loves obsessing about illness and death. No group of people jumps at the chance to participate in a hospital vigil more. They set up shop, bringing food, knitting, and whatever else needed to hunker down in a hospital hallway. It’s unfortunately part of the  post Holocaust trickle down affect, where the threat of death literally lurked in every corner. Since most people I know are Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, they remain traumatized by many facets of the war even decades later. It’s a combination of learned behavior and unintegrated pain and fear that has never been excised from these families. Different time, different knowledge, different emotional skill set, different priorities; I understand. However, the residual grim negativity and neuroses remains very much a thing. I too used to be obsessed with my own mortality. I lived in fear for the day when I or a loved one would be yanked from this life. That stopped once I began inner healing and grew to become in love not just with my own life, but with the gift of life in general. Obsessing about death is the mind’s way of preparing us for it, though of course that’s never possible. If we envision it then maybe the impact will be less shocking. We will see it coming. We will be on top of the terrible situation. It’s a pretty funny yet macabre scenario when someone dies in my neighborhood, and actual fights break out over which yenta will be the reigning queen of the shiva house. It’s unreal. A person just lost their life, the family is in the throes of grief, and certain women race to the finish line to gain control of the shiva meal schedule. They are addicted to the accolades so the self righteous impulsivity takes over.  It’s essentially zero perspective and incredible self absorption, under the guise of help. But I digress. Well, not really. There’s always more than one way to look at things. Am I helping this grieving family for the right reasons and don’t need public recognition for it, or do I need some warped form of attention? Am I opening my eyes each morning in wonder and loving awareness of life, or am I relieved I outran the Angel of Death after I passed out watching Bravo? Like all things, prayer comes from a place of love or fear. It’s loving our wondrous eyes (our eyes!!) and being grateful to use them for another 24 hours, as opposed to being frightened they won’t work. And if we did survive the night, then what for? To just trudge through the same cycle as per usual, only to go to sleep with the same fears over and over until it’s really over? It’s not enough to be thankful to wake up. It must be that we understand the purpose of life. If we don’t the words kind of land nowhere. The point of prayer is to connect, and connection comes from a deep source within us before it can be felt outwards. God is smart; He knows you’re glad to be alive. I don’t think He gave us these prayers to test our manners like a school marm. I believe they were given to us to think about why we say them. What are words without meaning? Not much. What is a day without meaning, or an hour? Again, not much. It’s not being alive that counts. It’s what we do with that fact that matters. This isn’t a rah rah post about empowerment. Quite the opposite; it’s a post about the bliss that stems from humility. We have a job to do, and it’s not doing errands and making the meeting. It’s not even your professional human job. Yes, those things are important and essential for life. Our professions help us contribute to our families and to others, but we weren’t put here just to do them.  I’ve heard Buddhist monks say that we must be tapped into the dharma as well as know our social security number. Both matter. One just matters more. So it’s not the inaction of not dying overnight that matters. We didn’t escape death. Those things aren’t up to us. It’s the action of honoring the joy of life, of doing and being good, of helping everyone and harming no one, and of relieving pain and suffering however we can. The intentions we have for praying will only really have the right ripple effect if we fully grasp the enormity of what we’re saying. God doesn’t need your words; He needs your presence. It’s why He put you here. I’m grateful you opened your eyes today. Thank you for seeing me and reading this. I see you too.

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The Dao of Frances Hausman

There’s a scene in Dirty Dancing, arguably the greatest movie of all time (I said arguably), in which Johnny cries out to Baby (real name Frances Hausman, but you knew that) that he’s so petrified of life and she’s not afraid of anything. Of course by “life” he meant he was too scared to stand up to that twerp Neil, who was infuriatingly insisting that the dance finale of the staff talent show be the pachanga. Baby tried to encourage him to fight for his vision and overcome his feelings of intimidation (you know this as well). Johnny burst forth with differentiating between him and her; he was poor, at the mercy of The Man, and afraid to lose his job. She was wealthy, privileged, didn’t have to fear being ejected from the Catskills, and was an inherently courageous girl “not afraid of anything”. “Me?? I’m afraid of EVERYTHING!”, she replied. It was an exchange of honesty that added new depth to their summer romance, as did changing in the car en route to the Sheldrake to perform the mambo. This all came to mind recently when a few women told me they look at me and see a women afraid of nothing. They were specifically talking about becoming a DJ, but also other major transitions I’ve made too. I was taken aback since prior to the DJ thing as well as those other major shifts, I felt like a young girl who was absolutely petrified of all of it. I was literally riddled with fear. I’m doing tons of shadow work that began years ago but majorly intensified this past summer. The realizations of things I need to look at keep coming in waves, some violent and some more subtle. But all contain the underlying common fear factor. I have been storing a large body of fear since childhood that I’m just now learning to manage. I am learning this with a book you all must order right now.  I’m serious. It’s medicine in print. There isn’t a human on earth who shouldn’t read Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. Dana, I love you so much for telling me about this. Our culture teaches us to distract ourselves from anything unpleasant and to run from any negative feelings. The mind is on board with this since the function of the mind is to keep us safe. So it strategizes and we listen to protect ourselves from further pain. The mind might tell you to drink, pop a pill, work out, turn on the radio to drown out your thoughts, seek physical affection to soften the edge of hurt, turn on the TV, call a friend, or engage in an activity in which you excel. Some means of distraction are problematic and some are positive, but all are a means of avoiding pain in the moment. Friends, hugs, music, and going to the gym are great; just don’t use them to keep looking away from your deep reservoirs of icky stuff. The more we resist any form of hurt, the stronger the beast becomes. The more we try to stuff it down, the more we leave it alone to regenerate. This is why we can feel consumed and powerless when the wave of your personal pain body hits. It can be anger, sadness, frustration, self pity, fear etc. It hits without warning at unexpected or expected triggers. But here’s the thing, it’s hitting us to inform us that we need to direct our attention there. It’s not there to torture us. It’s there to lead us down the path to self healing. But first we must enter thorn covered gates of pain in order to open into the field of loveliness and warmth that resides within. There’s no way to skip the line. Sorry, Jews, I know how much you hate waiting on line. I’ll give you an example. The other day I was having a really good day. Then something happened and I was seized with terror. Bat to the knees, chest and head exploding terror. It was a very tough trigger and my entire system reacted as it always has. I was going to be in trouble. I was going to be punished. I felt hunted and victimized.  I was in a state of genuine fright. Fear is the great anticipation of pain, and I was being faced with a situation that was guaranteed to be painful. I was in my car at the time. My hand instinctively reached to turn on the radio, since that’s what it’s always done. My brain sent the message to my body to distract me to protect me. But this other part of me said, no, I’m going to feel this now. I imagined my little self staring at this Fear Thing. It was ME seeing IT, not the other way around. It’s like confronting a bully that will always inevitably begin to skulk away after it realizes it has far less power than previously thought. I saw the fear, fully knowing it had come to visit me in that moment. I neither identified with it nor pushed it away. I didn’t ignore it or sweep it under the rug with its ancestors. I allowed it to be there and guess what? It passed through me quite quickly. My day resumed normally, productively, and fairly well. That moment of fear didn’t throw it off course. I kept my composure throughout by holding myself with clarity and awareness as to what was occurring. Such is the nature of the human condition. We are electromagnetic fields of constantly changing energy. We will be visited by thousands of joys and sorrows, all of which will leave only to return and leave again. The only constant is us and that inner spaciousness that is our design. We know it’s there because that’s what allows for thoughts and feelings to fill it temporarily. Only that which was once empty can be filled. It’s knowing how to hold onto true self love during these crazy fluctuations that creates a much better quality of life. There’s peace in knowing we aren’t out of control and at the mercy of external forces. Running away from anything reinforces the notion that we are too weak to handle what it is we are trying to escape. It’s not true though. Thoughts aren’t the truth. Ironically, the great strength in self care and self healing comes from accessing this incredible ability to direct tremendous compassion inward. We have such an easier time giving compassion to others. It’s much harder to give it to ourselves. It’s something no one else can do for us, which is what makes it such a magical power. Through whatever seemingly awful feeling that’s overtaking us at the moment, the gentle goal must be to hold ourselves with tender love and compassion as it passes through our person. Imagine yourself as a three year old who is afraid/angry/sad/ashamed and comforting that child with this protective love no matter what it’s going through. This is done while fully acknowledging and seeing whatever monster has come to visit. Just as it came, it will eventually leave. What will remain will be your ability to love yourself unconditionally through all circumstances. I’m really oversimplifying this, but this is the key to accessing the Buddha nature within you. You have it. You really have it. It’s seeing ourselves with a wise, clear, loving heart and not running from anything that eventually enables us to act well despite the fears and shames. This is a lifetime of practice but trust me, it’s the key to a better life. As we heal on an individual level we then start to heal those around us, which then begins to heal the greater collective. That’s what is meant by love and compassion originating from within, and what it means when we hear we can only love others as well as we love ourselves. I had no idea what that meant until I read this book and started listening to the loving wisdom of Jack Kornfield (podcasts and you tube). These daily tools have been life altering. The world is already a different place to me, and I loved it before. As I’m learning to manage my fear by holding myself with unconditional love, I think back to how I began to shift my life several years ago while being consumed with terror. I did it because I had another set of fears that were stronger than feeling inadequate, small, and intimidated. That was the fear of regret. The fear of regret outweighed the fear of throwing myself into the unknown of a new identity and new life. That’s what I told those women who see me as this brave woman taking her life by force. It’s not that I wasn’t scared. It’s that I was able to find that part of me that refused to go down without trying. Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you are but you go forth anyway. Thank you, Fear, I see you. You can sit next to me. You’re less scary when I give you permission to visit. But soon I’m going to get up and live my life according to my truth. Thank you for redirecting me to the inner teacher of love. I couldn’t have gotten to her without you.

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I ❤️🗽🚕

 Culture blah blah blah.... Restaurants blah blah blah... Theater blah blah blah... Nope, this ain’t that kind of I ️love New York post.

New York is representing something very specific at this stage in my life. It represents possibility. I’m always reading about many facets of the human condition, from the psychological to the spiritual and whatever I can find in between. Whatever the school of thought, there is constant mention about how people shrink themselves by locking their lives into these sad, tiny containers that can only hold so much. We build set perimeters around our existences and foolishly label them lives. There is almost no end to what human beings can accomplish. If someone can twist their body into a crazy yoga pose, so can you. If someone can scale a mountain, so can you. You might not want to, I sure as hell don’t, but you mostly likely posses the ability. We are created with these untapped, vast capabilities we often never discover by designing these incredibly lacking 3D human experiences. Think about it; at any given moment we could be whining about the same dumb thing we were five years ago, while there’s a doctor volunteering in some godforsaken country. Or an impoverished child sharing her food with another hungry youth. We have an endless stream of choices that shapes our days. I have a friend who has literally been complaining about the same topic for 17 years. Nothing has changed. Things don’t change unless we change first.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what New York symbolizes regarding divorce. We live near the greatest city in the world. No other place has burst forth with as much passion, innovation, creativity, music, fashion, craziness, and variety. Anything and everything can and does happen here. This is true of being divorced as well; it’s a major opportunity to completely change course. Anything that did not serve you in your last chapter can be reworked. Refreshed. Rejuvenated. In this sense it’s a gift. As I’m meeting more divorced people, men and women, it strikes me how even though all these people claim to have gotten divorced because their former situation wasn’t working for them, half of them lapse into the same unconscious choices they made before. The chance at greatness is being squandered by the lure of familiarity disguised as safety. They broke free and started to run, only to give up before they hit their stride. I shouldn’t care but I do (I guess I shouldn’t care about a lot of things but I can’t help it). It’s so frustrating. I’m thinking , “I know you want better so go get it!!” What it boils down to is an utter lack of self awareness and vision. It takes time to learn the new you and unlearn the old. Lots of time and introspection. Patience. Kindness. Self love. Just because you made the step to get divorced, it doesn’t mean you have a new life. You only have a new life if you work your ass off to create one. Signing a piece of paper doesn’t guarantee you a brand new start. Not if you’re going to stop yourself before you had a chance to believe that you can have what you claim to want. The spiritual teachers warn us not to shrink the magnificent essence of what it means to be alive with stupid bullshit. If we remain truly tapped into the splendor of loving awareness that we are at all times, we don’t get bent out of shape about most 3D concerns. Traffic becomes irrelevant. The friend who slighted you doesn’t become a topic of conversation. Your need to be right evaporates. If we are conscious and aware then we make choices that better jive with that belief. If we think we are small we keep playing small, case closed. Who we date, what we eat, who our friends are, what we read, how we spend our free time. All of it is a direct reflection of what we believe we are. Belief that you’re a limited person will keep you stuck in that stale storyline. A Tony Robbins type of motivational speaker will deliver a similar message. So will a Mark Groves kind of therapist. The common denominator is that WE MUST STOP PLAYING SMALL. IT IS HALF A LIFE. YOU ARE WAAAAAYYYYY MORE THAN THAT SO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO UNDERSTAND THAT. Why do people become so moved staring at the vastness of the ocean, a field of wildflowers, or a clear, starry night sky? Because it reminds us of possibility. Greatness. Openness. Depths we cannot see. Distances we think we will never travel. Why is the heart connected to the element of air? Because our capacity to love has zero bounds. None. No limits. Our bodies are finite so it’s hard to comprehend that what’s inside it is without shape. I get that; it sounds so unfamiliar to those of us used to everything being in set formation. Schedules, thoughts, meals, words, songs, everything seems to have a beginning and an end. True, that all does. But we don’t, which is why we’re so superior and so blessed. It hit me yesterday why right now I’m having such a love affair with this city, in addition to the obvious cool factor. It’s not that. I don’t care about trends or any of that nonsense. It’s because New York represents freedom of spirit. And life without that is a form of death. Living here and not taking advantage of all this place offers equates not living life to the fullest within your heart. What a shame; to be so fortunate to have this incredible opportunity and let it float away because you were too small to want bigger. Wanting gets you nothing but unfulfilled dreams. Dreams, People!!! Dreams are so major, they exist to become reality. We want that, right? Stop wanting and start backing up your own claims by creating for yourself. Don’t stop until you go to bed smiling every night. I’m not talking about easy. I’m talking about big. Once you tap into the enormity of who you are the difficulties of life have such less power over you. You can get divorced ten times and make the same shrinking moves each time, landing you not much further than where you began. There are times for baby steps and times for leaps. But if you never leap you’ll never live in accordance with your inherent design, which is sheer splendor , power, and magnitude. What a waste of a pre war rent controlled apartment.

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Bar Mitzvah Musings

 So my son’s bar mitzvah is around the corner. As of today we have a general idea of how we will be celebrating but nothing has been solidified. This is the opposite approach I had to my two daughters’ parties which had me turned into a total bat mitzvah Momzilla✡️. Not the crazy, bitchy, controlling kind. Just the kind who was way too excited because she had nothing else going on in her life and desperately needed a sense of purpose and creative outlet (run on sentence intended). My girls’ parties were magnificent affairs. Every detail was perfect and wrought with symbolism. The color schemes were carefully selected based on their personalities and the seasons in which the party took place. We had more menu tastings than Harry and Meghan ( I don’t buy that whole thing for a minute, btw. There’s no way Kate doesn’t despise her.) There were scripts mapping out the parties to the minute. The invitations had to be just so in order to set the mood of the party prior. As I’m writing this I feel a mixture of humorous self deprecation and embarrassment. Oh, I forgot the videos. If I do say so myself, my videos are kinda legendary amongst my peeps. But for my eldest daughter I cannot believe I made my guests sit through a FORTY FIVE MINUTE montage of her eating ice cream and taking a bath as a baby. I redeemed myself with the hilarious OTHER TWO VIDEOS though, and I still hear six years later that her “Call Me Maybe” Justin Bieber/ Selena Gomez video was the best they’ve ever seen🏻. For my second daughter, brace yourself, a choreographer was hired. I want to shoot myself rereading that. Bottom line, I had been craving a platform to finally get a chance to do my thing. I love decor. I love food and choosing menus. I love the details that make anything chic, fun, fabulous, and memorable. I love the perfect song choice. Aesthetics are a joyful endeavor for me. I’m very decisive and am lucky to work with a brilliant event planner. Andy is a dear friend and one of the funniest and most creative individuals out there. We have a blast together and are always on the same page. I once gave him a magazine article that reviewed a restaurant on the Lower East Side, and instructed him to, “make it look like this”. It was Dirty French btw. I wanted him to give the party the mood of the super chic, hot pink ceramic roosters that adorn the restaurant. He got me immediately. I’d never even been there, I just spotted the review in the New York Times magazine and tore out the page. He said to me two weeks ago at our first meeting for my son that he couldn’t believe how my approach is so vastly different from the first two. He basically told me I was an obsessed lunatic for the girls. I laughed and replied that I have a life now. I’m fulfilled creatively in so many areas and I’m endlessly grateful for that. All the sections of the blog that require creativity, innovation, originality, writing, and attention stretch me in ways I need. DJing feeds my soul. The excitement in putting the right songs together makes me giddy. I dance my butt off when I practice; dancing has always been a need as well. I go to a music school which puts me in a creative environment at least once a week, with people who live and breathe precision and beats. Through the blog I get to collaborate with other Creatives who speak the same language through different mediums. Finally having a means through which to routinely express my ideas has massively taken the edge off. It’s like oxygen deprivation for anyone to bottle up creativity. It erodes you as the frustration builds over the years. I had no place to put my voice, so you’re damn right the lining of the invitations mattered!!!! I look at that version of me, so well meaning and enthusiastic, and I want to hug her. She was so sweet in her extreme joy in being able to showcase her talents, albeit through her kids (an all too common mom move). My life is different today in that I have one. This upcoming party will be fantastic; that’s just how we roll here, we can’t help it. The video will be my best yet. The ideas we are discussing for food will be rad AF. The color scheme has been chosen and indeed reflects both the season and religious significance of my son’s name. The music better rock or else. The speeches will be witty, entertaining, and most importantly, short. But the attitude this time around is very “sure, whatever”.  It feels good to stay on top of the situation and not be consumed by it. It’s important, just not everything. I have other focuses. The results will be the same but with much less effort. How interesting; the unnecessary self imposed pressure is such a metaphor. We can achieve the same results, if not better ones, by putting things in perspective and being in cruise control a little. Over exertion is a false sense of security and control. It’s too much. It’s not beneficial. As I’m learning to release the grip on so many other things in my life, it’s gratifying to be cool about this too. Life is already beautiful and perfect. We can only realize that when we slow down and stop to see it. Deena, this one’s for you: “And now... let’s party!” 🕺🏽🏼🕺🏽🏼

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Soul Sisters

A piece of advice; when you know in your heart you have met your soul family, never ever let them go. These are the people that have traveled through time and space to find you. To heal you. To infuse your human bones with the absolute certainty that you are bursting with purpose, and that you need not feel like an alien anymore. Soul families speak to each other with no words. I’ve experienced this inexplicably deep understanding and recognition with each of the women I’m thinking of right now (and one man). This silent connection takes my breath away, the purity and sharp cleanliness of it. Three of the women I’m thinking of took one look at me and that was it, all before we ever exchanged words. One looked at me and the literal dam burst. I didn’t know her name but my tears informed me that names are just a surface detail sometimes. I was flooded with this overwhelming avalanche of being just so utterly known and felt. This doesn’t happen often, and I imagine to most people, never. Each of these humans came to me at very specific times and have enriched many dimensions of my life since then. Three of them I’ve met more recently. The other two I’ve known for a long time but didn’t know well until it was divinely timed that we enter each other’s lives in a more important way. To think that out of all the places on this massive planet we call home, all of us were put in the same radius of each other. Any one of us could have been anywhere but we were gently placed together for so many reasons. The spiritual community I’m a part of in my neighborhood is exceptional. It has given me an entirely new life, along with the creative community I’m now a part of too. A life I took to like a parched fish to fresh water. These are the women that see inside me. A few have told me it’s clear this isn’t my first rodeo. As in, I’ve lived past lives. I’ve always felt like a very old soul so this idea feels right to me. I don’t need tangible proof, I have proof on a different plane. The word “alienation” obviously comes from feeling like an alien. Before I knew such a word existed, I recall feeling like this as a kid. I’d stare out this huge window in my room onto this vast elevation of trees and feel confusingly adrift. What a relief it is to be exposed to vocabulary as an adult and be able to identify feelings you formerly lacked the ability to explain. This soul family has given me tremendous tools to heal, and I share all I’m learning with them too. What a beautiful thing it is to text a woman with a message of a spiritual teaching instead of nasty gossip. I’m no stranger to the latter, but I know which kind of text feels a whole lot kinder; to both myself and others. And how wonderful it is to have people to talk to about such things as visions, past lives, meditative practice, and truth, and not be looked at as a crazy hippie. They just get It because they think that way too. One member of this sisterhood is a very talented healer. She has x ray vision into the body and soul. I’ve had some astrology readings with her that have blown my mind. While I sat there quietly she mentioned things about me and my past that I’ve never told anyone. Literally no one. And she knew. She knew because we are connected on an unseen level. I feel so sad for people who believe we only exist in the sad, stale tedium of 3D. We are so much more than bored, stressed, agitated bodies waiting in line. I often write of the vastness and limitless nature of our souls. It’s when we claw our way out of 3D, whether we know it or not, that we encounter our soul family. We create an opening for them to finally find us and teach us what we were destined to learn. Soul family members hold no judgement. They just love, heal, and hold space for one another so that we can then go out and do that for others. I’ve written many times on this blog how strangers are always finding me and confiding in me. Last week I went out alone to watch a friend’s band perform. I sat by myself at a table watching this big group of friends hanging out at the venue. I love people watching so I was quite content just to be. Within minutes I was basically swarmed and enveloped by this group in such a nice way. This happens to me a lot so I wasn’t taken aback, and it’s just been a point of humorous amusement to me until recently. After immersing myself in intense inner healing, one member of my soul fam explained why. It’s too personal to share as I’m processing it all, but it made complete sense. I’ve been clearly picturing all we’ve discussed as if I’m watching a movie, which is really one of the objectives of meditation. To just observe as much as possible without getting sucked into the undercurrents of our story. One girl in the group at the club asked me my middle name. I told her it was a Jewish Hebrew name since I’m a super Jew. She said , “ I’m also a super Jew. My grandparents were holocaust survivors.” I said mine were too. She then said hers were Bielski Partisans, and I said so were mine. WHAT????? Do you have any idea what a small sub-sect of survivors are Bielski partisans? They were Polish resistance fighters who lived in the forest for years. The chances of me meeting a fellow granddaughter of this group of people, especially since survivors are rapidly dying, let alone in a live music club on Bleecker street in the Village of NYC, is as close to zero as possible. I was clearly meant to meet this girl. She stood hugging me and crying in the bathroom. There were certain events leading up to me being in that club that I can clearly chart. I was supposed to be somewhere else that night initially. Around this time I was going through another painful awakening, so I reached out to a couple members of my tribe. Each one offered me ways to soothe myself through this process, arming me with a clearer understanding of the bigger picture. When an interaction with someone feels medicinal, that’s probably a sign they’re a member of your soul family. You feel calm. A healing presence is a gift. Receive that gift and never take it for granted. The word “awareness” has been having a moment for awhile now. We can never have enough of it. We must be aware of it all; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. It’s the awareness of the beautiful that makes this realistic experience so magical. These women are magic for me, and I am in awe of my connection to them. Think about the vibes you give off when you are truly in a state of awe and gratitude. You radiate good. You shine, even for just a moment until some jerk cuts you off in traffic. But the more moments we have like that, the power of them accumulates. You’ll find that you have more of those than annoying, infuriating ones. The spaces in between the lousy times grows. Awe multiplies when magic is shared. To quote Ram Dass again, we are all here to walk each other home. And I feel so guided that Source gave me these humans as walking partners. It just makes everything better. One thing I can tell you is that in order for your tribe to find you, you have to clear out a lot of old blockages, pain, and low vibrational stuff. We attract what we give off, that is Law. The lotus grows only from the mud. There is no prize before the intense training for the race. When you connect with who is meant for you, in the deepest sense, the work will be the best gift you have ever given yourself. Find yourself and you will find your people, I promise. They’re waiting for the real you to come say hello.

Mantra Madness

Starting today, I will monitor all my thoughts and check if they are coming from an empowered or disempowered place. I will cooperate with what Source is giving me at this exact moment. I choose that cooperation from an empowered place because I am in control of my life right now. I will not resist any circumstance or lesson because my ego feels things should be different. I am not a disempowered victim who is forced to eat whatever is served. I accept reality as is with Radical Acceptance, leaning into the discomfort and dissatisfaction I have in certain areas. I accept that I have no ability to fix the past or determine the future. I radically accept parts of myself, habits, and thought patterns with loving awareness. I will no longer berate myself for any of those things; I know now where they all originated from and that none of it was ever my fault. I will release my tendency to over analyze and dissect; those serve to make sense of certain situations that confused and hurt me. Analyzing everything was a survival skill I picked up as a child in order to attempt to understand my surroundings. That skill was honed well into adulthood. I have other skills now so I can put the old ones to rest. My life is different. Old stories and old versions of me don’t belong here anymore. I choose my new life out of empowerment. I am worthy of self forgiveness and self love. I love all the destructive thoughts and feelings I have throughout the day, because it is they who have taught me the opposite. With gentle, loving kindness towards myself I place all those thoughts and feelings into glass jars and stack them outside the cave in which I sit. This cave has only me, the real Me, and a candle that never flickers or extinguishes. I honor all mental and emotional activity while keeping them outside of my innermost sanctuary, my everlasting Self. I decide which thoughts can join me. I decide which feelings will serve me today in my quest to maintain a vibration of joy. I see my body with reverence; it is a vessel for love, life, healing, and nothing else. I was placed in it 41 years ago to only contribute good to this world. I regard all addictive holding patterns with loving awareness as well, for they too were developed as a means of emotional survival. They once helped me superficially. They are no longer of use to me. I am grateful for the muddy waters that have been stirred up once again from the bottom of my lake. I can only skim whatever fat arises to the surface. I cannot fix what isn’t revealed to me. The more I rest, the more I repair. The slower my motions, the more control I have. I will not lose my foundation. I will stay true to the integrity of whatever pose I’m in. I know that I can be reborn every day. There is no cap on how many new versions of us can arise; this is proof of our limitless nature. I will not shrink myself with formed thoughts of any kind, for What I really am is formless. I will flow with nature right now and give the moon whatever doesn’t belong with me anymore. Old attachments, reactivity, judgements, fears, habits, and ego based doubts are mine to release. A new season is upon us. The season of renewal.  I give these away from a source of strength not weakness. I am already free. My mind tries to destroy that freedom by telling me all kinds of vicious theories and tales, but I am already free since birth. I will keep entering new doors of loving self awareness, self acceptance, self worth and finally, true self love. I will not fill gaps and spaces with external attention and validation. I will honor those gaps and learn what their silences have to further educate and enlighten me. I will respect my yin side and just rest, knowing that all the right things will make their way towards me in time. People, situations, and relationships will come at me magnetically if I am calm in a state of trust. This trust must extend to my deepest places as well. Trust of self is new when you’ve never been able to trust those external to you either. I will smile as I crack open harder, knowing full well how much stronger and cleaner this will make me. I am grateful for all lessons I have been deemed ready for. I am grateful for those who have plunged me into pain so I can learn how to resurface on my own. Any place within me that has been lacking, I will pour loving kindness into. I will direct the compassion I so easily give to others inward. It’s time.  I will proceed with empowerment. I will repeat this until more versions of me shrivel up and are cast aside. The journey continues. It always continues...


Heavy Flow

 Strength vs Flexibility. This is an interesting one, in that I need to start firmly differentiating between these traits. What do I mean? Well, I do know that there is a large dose of strength that’s required to be flexible in life. Only the weak and frightened cling to the controlled rigidity of unhealthy, outdated paradigms, maniacal eating habits, Nazi like schedules and regimens etc. There must be baseline seeds of courage to try new things, embrace new ideas, and welcome change. Inner strength and confidence is needed to know you won’t fall apart by not being able to predict and control the outcomes of life, be they minor or major. To stay safe isn’t very strong; that’s what keeps us in our shadows. Scary conversations, inviting new people into our carefully constructed lives, displaying vulnerability, and the big one; BEING WRONG. We avoid feeling uncomfortable by living life according to the familiar sensory experiences that we have always expected. At this stage in my life, a time where I’ve built up so much inner strength, I have indeed naturally adopted increased flexibility too. I feel strong therefore I can be adaptable, riding out the waves of life. I’m much less afraid to fall, knowing how resilient I’ve become. My mind is open and I’m embracing new ideas. I’m not judging the stories surrounding others nearly as much, and am understanding that anything is possible. That people make mistakes. That new chapters and belief systems are attainable to us all. That’s it’s admirable and brave to work on ourselves and steer the ship in a new direction. Strength and flexibility have become interchangeable badges of honor for me. But alas, they are not the same at all.

Recently I allowed (subconsciously) certain patterned situations into my life that cannot continue. I’m so trusting in what the Universe places in front of me, and so I’ve “gone with the flow” too readily, often without slowing down to calmly observe the facts. I’m flexible, right?? What I’ve learned is this; just because something or someone is placed in your path, this does not mean you have to pick it/them up. Maybe an opportunity has arrived as a test to see just how ready we are to level up. Do we rise above our instinct to be flexible and instead use caution and rationale? Do we focus on keeping an open heart while simultaneously maintaining healthy boundaries to protect ourselves? Do we learn that being flexible doesn’t mean we have to dive head first into any situation, simply because it’s new and it is “new” that we want? Do we realize that strength means saying no, and that perhaps another variation of weakness is the inability to keep ourselves untangled from other peoples’ issues? I’ve been writing a lot about adaptability, which is a trait governed by the water chakra. But I’m thinking I might be a bit unbalanced in that area. It needs some tending. By welcoming too much adaptability into my life lately, I haven’t been acting very strong; I’ve been too permeable and therefore, not very strong. There’s such a thing as being too flexible. That’s when it crosses a line into foolishness. Yes, true strength is required to say yes to life. But it’s also required to say no. No to bad ideas. No to stagnancy. No to old narratives and familiar bullshit. No to the old versions of ourselves that each of us keep bringing into new chapters. Strength is walking away without the pressure of having to keep molding and bending ourselves just because another asks us too, however sweetly. To be strong is to be self aware, and to make choices in the very best interest of self care. To know where we need to go. To forgive ourselves for being too permeable and for letting others slip past the gates. We are the security guards at the booth at the entrance to our lives; if we slack off then the riff raff sneaks in. Strength is being on guard while asking lots of questions before opening the gate. You wouldn’t let strangers into your home, so why in the interest of flexibility would we allow them into our lives? Yes, when we are strong we are equipped to embrace change. Firm roots yield beautiful, outstretched branches. A solid foundation won’t get knocked over by fierce winds. This is all true. But being strong also requires knowing how and when to choose to embrace change. Certain waves of life are coming for us no matter what. We will not want or ask for most of what life throws at us, but deal with it we must. However, there are other waves in which we do get to decide whether or not we are going to run into the surf. Strength is knowing when to stay put on the shore, enjoy your quiet time, feel the earth beneath you, and embrace stillness. To be strong is to be patient, while being flexible about our preconceived notions for how life is meant to be. I am both. I can be both. I will be both.

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Dying From Laughter


My DJ instructor and I were talking the other day about the high suicide rate amongst comedians. My Scratch lessons are usually three hours; the first hour is just for catching up. Esquire and I need a lot of yenta time. It’s usually a mix of my personal life (during which he laughs both at and with me), random facts and events, life philosophy, pop culture, and whatever other bizarre topics weave their way into our airspace. These discussions are just one of the ways I’m certain he was divinely placed on my life. I cannot flourish or learn unless I’m deeply connected to someone. It’s just my process. I’d never have been the student who comes to class, sticks only to the musical task at hand, then slips out back on to the streets of Manhattan. I was BFF with my trainer of ten years, BFF with my contractor, BFF with my OBGYN, and BFF with my BFF’s. It’s just how I’ve always rolled. There’s either a closeness or not. As an aside, I’m working on finding a balance in other areas of my life. There needs to be a middle ground sometimes, just not with my Sensei.   

Anyway, we were contemplating the correlation between suicide and hilarity. This has always seemed like an obvious pairing to me, much like the suicide rate amongst musicians. I’ve never questioned that ratio either. Don’t misunderstand me; it’s horrible, tragic, and always leaves me feeling bereft when a true talent in the world vanishes. Someone who made us laugh will never do that again. Someone who made us dance and feel will never help us articulate our stuff stuff again. Not that anyone’s tragedy is ever about us. Of course not; it’s just that their special creative gift gave us something, even if it was several moments of feeling understood at a time we needed it desperately. This human gig is SO HARD. It is these intensely creative souls, especially the funny ones, who notice everything about the lunacy of the human condition. They miss nothing, zero in on the minutia and nuances of life, and spin it into a joke that our brains, bellies, and weak vaginal muscles react to. What is downright depressing or messed up is made lighter by highlighting the truth of it in a kick ass, dry delivery. Some of the best moments of my adult life have been spent jammed into a tiny, sticky table with strangers in the basement of a dirty New York City comedy club. Listening to these comedians dissect the overwhelming nuttiness of being alive. Whether it’s joking about a hot dog, divorce, a bizarre sexual experience, religion, or the batshit moments found in the mundane workplace, it all feels better once it’s brought to light on a dark stage. It is both a gift and a curse to notice things to such an extent. Bob Marley once said that his biggest blessing and biggest problem is that he notices everything. As a fellow human who notices a lot and picks up on surrounding energies constantly, I relate completely. It’s the details that make life so beautiful yet so painful, and the onslaught of information can indeed feel like an assault on the senses. The more you notice and see, the more the mind has to contend with. I imagine that for a deeply sensitive person who can’t escape all the swirling, often harsh facts of life, the only way out is well, out. Clearly anyone who takes their own life is grappling with some degree of mental illness, and that can’t be discounted. So when you’re a person whose purpose in life is to make everything funny, but you  just can’t anymore, then what? When the laughs die down and the humor feels like denial...?

Those who create are those who feel on levels the average person most likely doesn’t have access to (yet or ever). Creatives just operate differently. Their language is their own. To not create is to die anyway. When the bleak, ice cold reality of life is too painful to tolerate, and all that you notice and internalize makes it too hard to function, indeed not having to function seems easier. It’s the same layered well of pain that causes these comedians to extract the razor sharp laughs from a situation. Laughing and crying in the extreme sense are both considered “hysterical”. People always say “If you don’t laugh you cry”. It’s because they are so closely related. Some of the funniest stuff in life is also the darkest. To notice those things and turn painful truths into entertainment is a true gift. My favorite guests on the Howard Stern show are the comics. Next are the singer songwriters, but I’m endlessly fascinated by the funny ones. Because humor is gospel to me, especially when it’s cutting and the blow of the observation comes down hard and fast. Most of the time it’s stuff that’s crossed our minds before; so not only are our musings validated and we feel in on the joke, but we get to laugh at ourselves too. Self deprecation is such a crucial tool to have.  It’s so important not to take life too seriously. There must be a balance of heavy and light, as in all things. These comedians show us how to do that. Joan Rivers, the reigning queen of comedy, turned her beloved husband’s suicide into one of her most famous bits. She took her tears and made them laughs. It was her way of coping and going on, and she included her audience in her pain. Joan was a soldier who laughed her way through life into her 80’s, until some idiot doctor killed her during routine surgery. I swear I’ve fantasized about tracking him down and vindicating her. She wasn’t ready to die, just like so many of these comedians don’t feel equipped to live anymore. It’s too hard, too sad. It’s not funny anymore. And without the humor there’s no more oxygen. I loved Brody Stevens, the most recent comic to end his life. He was so great. This post is dedicated to him. I thank him for all the laughs he injected into my life, and mourn the jokes I’ll never get to hear. Laughter really is the best medicine, but as we know, not everything is curable.

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A Hetero View of Nature

About a year ago I started to think of gender differences as related to the elements. This was before I knew anything about the chakra system in conjunction with nature, a topic I’ve started to touch upon. I recall how this began. It was when during the earlier stages of my experience with meditation, I inexplicably kept feeling so watery. This was soothing to me. A sensation much like lying on a water bed, my innards were undulating with these aquatic feelings. It felt right at the time. My back was a mess of knots, so I scheduled a few Thai massage sessions with my friend Vikki. Vikki legit studied this healing technique in Thailand; homegirl knew her shizz. I told her about my recent liquidity, as well as about a personal struggle I was working through. She validated my thoughts and gave shape to them by explaining to me what the water element represents. It made tremendous sense, and the imagery revealed itself to me without my intentionally conjuring it up, since I had yet to understand its implications.

Since then I have come to identify women with water. Water is calming, cooling, refreshing, essential; we’d die of thirst without it, both physically and spiritually. Water is rebirth, renewal, hydrating, healing, soothing. Water grows and nurtures life, as we do. Water seeps deep into the cracks of dry solidity, sealing those parched, empty spaces with her magic. Nothing grows without her. Nothing is green, vibrant, or alive. If she decides not to come, everyone and everything suffers. All living things begin to wither. Life collapses. Tribal dances have been done since the dawn of time, begging her to bless the lands with her wet grace. Water is sneaky in how chameleon like she can be. She changes form according to the needs of those around her. She is willful and frightening (them bitches be crazy!) or eerily yet wisely still. She can destroy or quench. She can drown or lift life up, grabbing up hard matter out of the earth  with her silky, liquid hands. She flows over and around massive boulders, pours herself with staggering force over land masses. She is a gently babbling brook, the contents of the drinking glass in your hand, the iceberg that destroyed the Titanic, and Niagra Falls. The largest creatures on earth call her home. She spreads her love over 71% of this planet. She rises from below and falls from the sky. She is everywhere you need her to be. Without her everything dies. Nothing can ever be beautiful.                                                   

Men are the earth. Strong, solid, shades of brown and tan. They are the foundations of life. Great structures are built on them. No matter how many stories high, the earth below doesn’t falter. In anger the earth ruptures. When a man is feeling off, great schisms and divides create separation . Nothing feels whole. The rumblings leading up to this are felt in our core. Experts attempt to measure and gauge the size and breadth of these schisms, but men are so much deeper than they appear. They’re not so easy to quantify. However, when a man is in a weakened state he can support nothing. Nothing strong is ever built on a shaky foundation. The stories he had the potential to carry are over. The roots of life are only empowered when enmeshed with male strength. We can dig deep into men, they want us to. Men are sand. A soft, grainy collective stretching to meet their women. It is in that space of merging where the magic of life happens. That wet, cool part of the beach that is everyone’s favorite part to walk upon. The place where we write silly words in the sand with our fingers, knowing but not minding at all the impermanence of these writings. Where the waves roll in to kiss the sand that waits patiently for her to come and go. The flatness of the land is complimented by the ever changing choreography of water. The land watches in solid fascination as it’s liquid counterpart moves about, doing her thing. Enchanted by her movement, as she is calmed by his steadiness. She needs him too. She can’t sprinkle her magic without a place to catch it. Nature is a partnership. Each element is a perfect instrument playing in an orchestra. There are wondrous solos as well as brilliant collaborations. No one can play alone all the time, though practice is usually solitary. It’s the contrast in nature that highlights the beauty and importance of each elemental component.             

As for me, I feel like water more than ever. I’ll just have to keep flowing until a stretch of shore feels safe to me. Then I can roll calmly in towards a piece of solid ground that has been quite thirsty for some time now.



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