Sunday, September 23, 2012


I feel like I've been drowning in the last few weeks, succumbing to a tidal wave of emotional left-overs, a tsunami debris-field of old habits and ideas and concerns that have been been unmoored and unleashed, and cluttering up my emotional space.

Somehow I stopped noticing it was all there, either so hidden away or so obvious that it was just my normal.  Until it broke free and crowded into my awareness so that I could not continue to ignore it.  Until it became so messy and noisy that I had to address all this...stuff, one way or another.

It has seemed a little overwhelming, a little beyond my capacity to manage and sort through so much big stuff, to make choices and decisions about the things I've ignored for so long.

But it turns out it's not such a big deal after all.  I've noticed that so little of the clutter requires any real attention.  So little of it has any present-day value, and I'm not sentimental about the past.  I don't need to hold on to things for the sake of nostalgia, and that includes the emotions of a former self, a different me, another version of who I was.

My present-day reality is simple and clean and clear, with soft, inviting spaces and lightness and a lot of loveliness as well.  It is a place of powerful solitude and easy companionship.  It is a place of honesty, and clarity, of depth and insight, a place that nourishes body and spirit, mine and others.

So the clutter has to go - it has no home with me.  I'm not offering it to anyone else; I imagine it will burn in the fire of G*d's love, incinerated by the pure intention to add no additional burden of any sorrow to the world and its inhabitants.

I don't know why it has taken until now to see all this, but it has not come a moment too soon, or maybe even a moment too late. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Self Knowledge

I confess that there are so many ways in which I do not yet know myself.  Or I should say, so many ways in which I know myself, but only myself, and not myself in relation to others.  I don't have much experience accommodating the emotional reality of another soul in my space.

My space has been sacred and quiet, a place of solitude and introspection.  Inviting another in to share that space feels so human and lovely, but also alien and awkward, as if I have to keep coming back to the sense of myself purely alone to know what I am feeling and what to do with that.

It feels like I'm learning a foreign language, one that I have a childhood familiarity with, a facility for, but no conscious ability to actually speak.  And I'm doing pretty ok trying to understand it, but to speak it myself, to read it and be certain there is comprehension?  I am lost  in that.

I don't know what I'm comprehending.  Or if I'm understanding anything accurately at all.  It feels like I am, but only because I'm trying so hard that I'm getting this done out of sheer force of will.  So it comes with stress and effort and a sense of tiredness, this trying to understand how I feel and what to do with it.

Is there an easier way?  A less taxing approach?  I'm sure there is, but I confess I don't know what it is.  I don't have a place of relaxation in the midst of this sort of ambiguity.  Maybe I'm learning that, but I don't have it yet.

Or maybe I have put myself in the middle of something so far beyond me that there is no way for me to make sense of my present circumstances.  I think this is a possibility as well, but cannot tell which is more true, which is more real, which is more useful.

I am exactly as I seem, but I think there are many, many layers to what I am, and what is visible is not all there is.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gaining Strength

If you want to gain strength in your body, you don't start with your pinkie. You start with muscles that can grow and develop and carry additional capacity. If you want to strengthen your spirit, it is the same. Find within you the places of potential strength and additional capacity, and build on these. If you have a soft heart, help it become powerful. If you have a too quick mind, calm it with focus. If you have a judging spirit, develop wisdom through discernment. There is no more rewarding work than refining the self.

Getting Organized

Organization and spirituality have a lot more in common than may appear at first blush.  They are intimately intertwined and and exploration of one requires and exploration of the other.

  • Efficiency is a spiritual value.  Using just the right amount of mental/emotional/psychic energy on any given thing means there is power in thoughts.  Lack of efficiency means you use a LOT of thinking for each decision, and so there is less energy available for what's really important and what demands more attention.
  • Prioritizing is critical.  Being able to determine what needs to get attention is critical in being efficient.  If you spend lots of time on everyday, mundane tasks, the subtle, the sensitive, and the nuanced get short-changed by simple mental tiredness.  
  • Tiredness of every kind is the enemy of being effective, expressive and powerful.  Each thought has less energy, less impact, so with tiredness you always work harder to accomplish the same, or less, than you would otherwise.  Being aware of what drains your energetic resources, and learning to protect those resources, is key.
  • Building structure around your own resources, learning how to most effectively use and share them, and then when to withdrawal and replenish is the difference between potential and performance.  
  • You must learn where you take strength from, and become regular in taking strength from that place.  This is true organizationally and spiritually - true in every part of life. If you ally with what empowers you, the effectiveness of your own creative expression multiplies exponentially.  If you are aligned with what empowers you, your ability to influence your world becomes tangible and targeted.  Not in order to manipulate reality to suit your own ends, but in the fullest Jewish sense of potential, in that you become a partner in elevating human life to something better, and in this lies magic.  I'm certain that G*d's deepest desire is for us to become so clear about who we have the potential to be that we are willing, with full courage and enthusiasm, to become that.
Some things to ask yourself:
  • Where do you take power from?  What makes you feel good, better, whole, confident, clearer, more enthusiastic and more authentic.
  • What diminishes your energy and intention?
  • Recall a time when you felt on the top of your game.  Describe that time and what was noticeable about that time, especially in contrast to your ordinary experience.  What elements made that special and different?  
  • What helps you in a practical way stay focused?  Sleep?  Collaboration with creative partners?  Time off doing...?  Exercise?  It can be anything from making lists to a certain working environment to a state of mind.  Try to capture as much of the detail you can in writing so it becomes more clear.
  • Kavanah, that is, intention, is everything, but it's not the only thing.  What is your intention?  How clearly can you articulate it to yourself or others.  How aligned is it with practical goals?  How does your kavanah work with your daily practice of anything?  Integrity is when your kavanah is aligned with your thoughts words actions and interactions.  Wherever there is lack of alignment, there is wasted energy.  What would it take to align your intention with your actions right now?
If you can think about some of this stuff and write down clear answers or at least what questions this raises, you get to a better sense of how to help you get organized AND spiritually empowered.  And then the next step is designing simple systems to contain and guide all that energy you have...content comes before form though.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Middle

I learned to mistrust extremes at the foot of my father.  He was intense in every way - in his brilliance and humor and talent and thirst for life, for trying out anything and everything and not considering the consequences when he should, and for all the destruction he left in his wake because of it.

I learned to mistrust too good or too bad or too much of anything.  Not that I wasn't interested.  Not that I wasn't tempted.  But I am nothing if not an astute observer and good learner.  And I knew that all the extremes led to problems, and big ones.  They led to disappointment and regret, yelling and tears.  They led to struggle and stress and broken hopes and dreams.

And I wanted no part of that.  No part of the drama and complication and chaos, of the uncertainty and unpredictability.  So I chose safe.  And certain and secure.  And I chose it with the finality of iron doors clanging shut in a prison - safety with no way out, unrelenting and oppressive, liberating in an odd way by the things from which I was freed, by the simplicity it ensured.

But I have too much of my father in me.  Or me in him.  Or some combination of qualities that gave us a similarity, if not a cause for the similarity.  I am intense.  I like to swing from heights and plumb depths and see where it all will go without having to know before hand.  I like tempting fate, at least a little, and I like traveling without a map just to see where I will end up.

I need more than neutral and have never reconciled myself well to an in-between of average.  I gravitate toward those with great talent, great energy, great personality, great insight, great ability, and I breathe in the air around them, and realize how much I miss it myself.  I miss the fresh, heady scent of possibility, of pure creativity, of bringing into being what never was before.

I'm tempted to think I've been lazy, allowing so much time to pass in this middle space, but I know it's just a lesson over-learned, a card over-played.  And while it may have needed to be right up until this exact second, it doesn't need to be for even another moment beyond that.