Happy New Year!

Last night, as I watched the amazing fireworks set off over the ocean in Panama City, I reflected back on one of the many gifts of 2018. I have begun to accept and value my self in a deeper way than ever before. This has been an elusive thing in my life.

It has taken a tremendous amount of courage, support and healing. Unraveling layer upon layer of wounding and false beliefs. Allowing myself to take the risk to believe new beliefs about my self.

Oddly, what may have seemed “selfish” to me before – this love of self – has actually been the opposite. It has begun to help me to be a better person in the world. I have so much more accessible to give to the world. Where there was fear and darkness, now I also find light and great courage. I intend to use it in service and in creation.

Wherever you are, however you believe, may your new year be filled with the power of self-love. Today, I borrow the words of a master of love.

PRAYER FOR SELF-LOVE

By Don Miguel Ruiz, taken from his book “The Mastery of Love”

Today, Creator of the Universe, we ask that you help us to accept ourselves just the way we are, without judgment. Help us to accept our mind the way it is, with all our emotions, our hopes and dreams, our personality, our unique way of being. Help us to accept our body just the way it is, with all its beauty and perfection. Let the love we have for ourselves be so strong that we never again reject ourselves or sabotage our happiness, freedom, and love.

From now on, let every action, every reaction, every thought, every emotion, be based on love. Help us, Creator, to increase our self-love until the entire dream of our life is transformed, from fear and drama to love and joy. Let the power of our self-love be strong enough to break all the lies we were programmed to believe – all the lies that tell us we are not good enough, or strong enough, or intelligent enough, that we cannot make it. Let the power of our self-love be so strong that we no longer need to live our life according to other people’s opinions. Let us trust ourselves completely to make the choices we must make. With our self-love, we are no longer afraid to face any responsibility in our life or face any problems and resolve them as they arise. Whatever we want to accomplish, let it be done with the power of our self-love.

Starting today, help us to love ourselves so much that we never set up any circumstances that go against us. We can live our life being ourselves and not pretending to be someone else just to be accepted by other people. We no longer need other people to accept us or tell us how good we are because we know what we are. With the power of our self-love, let us enjoy what we see every time we look in the mirror. Let there be a big smile on our face that enhances our inner and outer beauty. Help us to feel such intense self-love that we always enjoy our own presence.

Let us love ourselves without judgment, because when we judge, we carry blame and guilt, we have the need for punishment, and we lose the perspective of our love. Strengthen our will to forgive ourselves in this moment. Clean our minds of emotional poison and self-judgments so we can live in complete peace and love.

Let our self-love be the power that changes the dream of our life. With this new power in our hearts, the power of self-love, let us transform every relationship we have, beginning with the relationship we have with ourselves. Help us to be free of any conflict with others. Let us be happy to share our time with our loved ones and to forgive them for any injustice we feel in our mind. Help us to love ourselves so much that we forgive anyone who has ever hurt us in our life.

Give us the courage to love our family and friends unconditionally, and to change our relationships in the most positive way. Help us to create new channels of communication in our relationships so there is no war of control, there is no winner or loser. Together let us work as a team for love, for joy, for harmony.

Let our relationships with our family and friends be based on respect and joy so we no longer have the need to tell them how to think or how to be. Let our romantic relationship be the most wonderful relationship; let us feel joy every time we share ourselves with our partner. Help us to accept others just the way they are, without judgment, because when we reject them, we reject ourselves. When we reject ourselves, we reject you.

Today is a new beginning. Help us to start our life over beginning today with the power of self-love. Help us to enjoy our life, to enjoy our relationships, to explore life, to take risks, to be alive, and to no longer live in fear of love. Let us open our heart to the love that is our birthright. Help us to be come Masters of Gratitude, Generosity, and Love so that we can enjoy all of your creations forever and ever.

Amen.

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Stressed Out!?!? Who, Me?!!

Well, here we are again.

Snack dab in the middle of another holiday season, and sliding into the end of another year.

It seems that every year, no matter what I intend, I end up getting super-stressed out. Gifts to be got. More appointments to keep than usual. Parties to attend. Traffic. Travel arrangements. Crowded stores. Projects and aforesaid gifts to be wrapped up.

It always feels like I am running down a mountain with an ever-growing snowball rolling behind me. I can feel the icy snow at my neck. The avalanche threatens. Argh!!!

Let’s all take a deep breath. Just breathe in and hold a few counts, and breathe out, slowly and fully.

That’s better.

I am doing my best to do better this year. I took a day off yesterday to play with my husband. We both run our own businesses so we work 7 days/nights a week, so weekends aren’t really weekends.

But I consciously forced myself to put aside the many pressing things to do, and we took a short drive out of town and went to a day spa.

It was wonderful. Yes, I was jonesing a bit for my cell phone by hour four. But we did it, and it did feel great.

Guess what? Those pressing things are still all there. They did not go anywhere. Nothing fell apart.

I feel more nourished and not miserable in the way I can often feel at times like the end of the year. When I historically drive myself into a worry-filled bundle of stress.

I am remembering to get sleep as I can. Maybe not as much as I’d like, but sleep nonetheless.

Prompting myself (nicely) to drink water! It is easy to start to neglect the little things that are so important and that contribute to a feeling of well-being.

I am (so far) resisting the urge to use food to give myself anything other than sustenance. When I get into what I call Stepford Wife mode – as in, I am driving myself as if I were a robot and have no human needs – it is easy for my system to rebel and turn to food as a way to get the relief, comfort and attention I am no longer giving it. I am trying to take care, pay attention, even though it feels contra to how I tend to respond to the pressure o the holidays.

I am doing my best to maintain the daily practices that keep me connected to my soul: meditation, writing, prayer, gratitude. It is sometimes tempting to say I do not have the time, but they are the things that make the other stuff more enjoyable. They are the things that keep me tethered to myself. Otherwise I am a parade float that just blows off-track and eventually I crash and it is not pretty.

I am taking time to just breathe. Pet the cat. Do nothing for 3 minutes.

Another deep breath.

How are you riding the waves of this time of year? What are your go-to’s for staying sane? Your helpful tips for enjoying the rush?

May your days be filled with moments of connection and serenity within the inevitable chaos.

And don’t forget to drink some water!

 

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On the Road Again

My husband and I are driving a Penske truck filled with furniture from our last apartment In the Bronx, NY to Texas. We’ve made this trip before.

Last time, we drove the opposite way with the same furniture from my parents’ home just after we were married 8 years ago, just after my Dad died, a year after my brother died and two years after my mother did.

I was so grateful for that furniture at the time. Newly married, making a home with someone for the first time, I was thrilled to have really nice things to bring to our shared space, a new apartment we’d chosen together.

Having lived in a tiny studio apartment in the West Village of NYC for 18 years prior to this big change, I had no furniture to speak of. My husband had some nice things to bring from his place, but not enough. We were stretching our budgets to get our apartment. New furniture was not in the plan. So my parents was a blessing.

It was amazing how perfectly the furniture all worked together. We chose rich colors for the walls off of the colors in the rugs, and somehow, it all had an eclectic warmth that just felt right. So “us,” somehow. The us we were becoming.

For the first years of our marriage, in those years after those huge losses in which I grieved and lived as best I could, that furniture surrounded me and held me and filled the empty gaping hole their deaths left.

I cherished it all. I had my father’s bronzed baby cowboy boots as book ends. A china cabinet held bluebirds, brown ware and silver pieces from my mother’s collections. We ate off of plates and used pans brought up from their kitchen. Put drinks on coasters from their den.

Our bedroom furniture was from my parents first house. The first expensive rug they bought, a now-worn but still lovely Oriental, sat under their gorgeous dark wood dining table and chairs.

But somewhere along year 6, something began to shift in me, and now, 18 months later, after a Konmari wave that washed away my clutter, a new apartment search, offer, and purchase, a renovation, putting an apartment on the market, a sale, a closing, a move, and a settling in, here I am. Day two of a three day journey to take much of that furniture to a new home.

My cousin, who my parents loved, who has a lovely wife and two young kids and a house, is happily taking the furniture off my hands. Whatever he did not take, others in NY needed and wanted.

Tomorrow we reach Austin, where the pieces will be put in their new home.

And I will let go. Of the grieving time. Of the me that has lived these 8 years in the after-shock, doing my best.

I feel such a mix of sadness and relief and excitement. Sadness because I still wish they were here instead of their things. Relief because something is done that I seem to have needed to do. Some job I unconsciously took on will soon be complete. And excitement is for this next part, whatever it will be.

Today I crave space. I want to be surrounded by things that resonate the me I am today. Our new home in no way resembles our last. And I love it with its new colors and furniture, and kickass river views.

I kept one chair out of it all. And reupholstered it. It looks wonderful there, surrounded by our new pieces, our new rugs.

At the end of the first day’s drive, we were treated to a blazing orange sky. Since my mother passed, I am convinced that beautiful sunsets are her way of letting me know she is there, loving me. It was clear that she, my Dad and brother, approve of this trip.

My parents and brother are still with me. But now they fill my heart space. I carry them wherever I go.

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For Laura

I know some incredible women.

It is one of those women’s birthday today.

Some people just blow you away. Laura inspires me daily. She is an artist, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. A leader. A teacher. An activist. A community contributor. An active citizen.

She lost her 20 year old brother to suicide in 2000. Rather than fall into despair, she has used her grief to create, educate, help and heal.

Read about one of her creations, Arts & Dreams, and the incredible work they do here.

Enjoy her art work here.

Laura reminds me to live creatively, lovingly, with ample doses of self-forgiveness.

I am so lucky she was born and that I know her.

She Is
Scarlet lips
Piercing chocolate eyes
Portals who see your soul
Lives in brush strokes
Of love and thoughtful heart
Colors rich with knowing
Midwife of self-love
Earth angel saving
wretched alone-hearts
One mantra at a time

The In-between Space

If I squint, I can still see it in my mind’s eye

The back of the front seat

of my parents’ doo doo brown

Buick Estate Wagon: my permanent view

Sandwiched between the adolescent sweaty arms

of my older brothers, their elbows poking my small shoulders

Fighting the space wars that only siblings know about

Gum popping, punches passed across me

Pre-digital age entertainment

Counting cars, Mad Libs, I Spy, rounds of car songs

I could barely see out the windows

But my whole world was inside anyways

I was in heaven between those two

Even their ignoring me was attention I loved

What I wouldn’t give to be back there

Lulled into a happy daze

The faint smell of my dad’s pipe

The tinkle of my mom’s laugh

And those two on either side

Holding me in tight, safe and sound

On the road, together

 

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You-Me

I feel you there

Just behind my eyes

Behind the long-since modified smile the world sees

I no longer wear a mask

Yet I know

I know

That the me I was before

The me that has yet to live

Still lives a ghostly life within

I get glimpses when I look

With the right sight

The way a child sees playmates

Where others do not

Other times you are gone

Do you leave me

Or do I leave you

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt 2016: ghost

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Requiem for A Dream

This city can swallow you whole

Be alert, my child

Stay connected to those who know you well

To those you love, who love you

It is easy to get lost in the masses

To hid ein the comfort of strangers

To drift, and drift, and drift

Until one day you wake up

And twenty years have passed

And you have no idea

What happened

To your dreams

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: city