Thursday, August 23, 2007


Weep... and suddenly your heart is healing. Let your tears cleanse you like the falling rain.

For the past three years running, I have spent one weekend in August at camp. This isn’t just any camp. It’s a camp for grieving children. Kids from the ages of 6 through 13 who have lost someone they love; a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, cousin, etc. come to learn about grief. Through exercises and sharing sessions, skits and storytelling, they learn that anger is normal, sadness and depression is to be expected and confusion, frustration and lack of focus are also feelings that can be part of the process. They find that they are not the only ones who feel lonely, guilty, betrayed. They learn that being brave isn’t about not feeling scared, but about doing something in spite of feeling scared. They cry, they laugh, they share, they listen and they support one another. I always come away in complete awe, with utter respect for these brave and hurting young souls who leave their families behind to come to this unknown place with a bunch of strangers to openly address the pain of loss. No easy feat for a young child. No easy feat, period.

I also see that by Sunday afternoon, they have become living metaphors of the story that is referenced throughout the weekend about the caterpillar who slowly and painfully emerges from the cocoon to blossom into a beautiful butterfly. They have courageously touched their pain, and in doing so have opened up to a world of healing for themselves and others.

Grieving in life is unavoidable. It shows up in all shapes and sizes and isn’t linear in it’s process. We know grieving comes with loss, but not just with the loss of a loved one, it can appear in so many different kinds of passings that we experience throughout life. The thing is, we don’t always recognize it as such – like the loneliness that can come after a dear friend moves away or the anger after a divorce, or simply the melancholy we can feel as summer comes to a close. It can even show up with those self-imposed finales, such as a sense of disconnect after retirement.

Allowing ourselves to take the time to grieve can be tremendously healing - to cry, or eat or sleep or talk or not talk - to take the time to recognize our loss, be gentle with ourselves and open to the world of healing that awaits to transform us into beautiful butterflies.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hosts of Change

Explore... and suddenly you are a pioneer on a new frontier.

“Insight into change teaches us to embrace our experiences without clinging to them — in full knowledge that we will soon have to let them go to embrace whatever comes next.” - Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Change. It’s the one thing we know that remains constant.
Recently, someone pointed out to me she feels like “a constant caterpillar molting to an ever – larger butterfly”. What is life, if nothing but an ongoing series of transitions? Even during the most mundane periods of our lives, we are riding the steady flow of change.

Change can find it’s way into our daily lives in all forms - mood, health, relationships. It can be as obvious as a death, a marriage, a divorce or your child leaving for their freshman year in college; or, as simple as noticing your digital clock tick from 11:10 to 11:11. It can be big or small. It can sooth us or excite us. It can come unexpectedly or sit looming just over our shoulder. The question is: how are we dealing with it?

No doubt change can sometimes feel stressful, but like it or not, it’s ours to own, and so we can welcome it or resist it. But, in resisting, we deny ourselves the very opportunity to observe the beauty of our growth that comes with it every time. By not labeling change as good or bad we have a healthier chance of surviving it. By merely being curious enough to explore it and welcome it, we can learn to be gracious hosts to this permanent houseguest.

Blessings and light!

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Deeper Truth

Reflect... and suddenly you are clearing the smoky mirror.

My sister, Toni, recently confessed to me the previous posting on forgiveness inspired her to “come out” with her own story. Several years ago, while directing a play out on the east end of Long Island, she was assaulted by an actor she had hired for the lead male role. The attack came about suddenly and without warning just prior to the opening night performance. The young man came at her so swiftly and calmly; she had no time to dodge his first punch, or his second, or third, or fourth… leaving her barely conscious, and one blow away from dead.

I have witnessed her over the past three years, reconstruct her self confidence, physical strength, self esteem, speech, memory capacity – in short, her life - with such integrity and courage, that I can’t help sharing it with you.

Toni is a mom, a wife, an actor, director, writer and PR guru, and most recently, a V-blogger – the same as a regular blogger, but with video. So, in mastering this new medium, she decided to use it to speak out (quite courageously, I might add) about the subject of forgiveness and how she found it in her heart to absolve this troubled man of his heinous act.

As I watched her speak so openly, I felt as though a fog was lifting, clearing the vista for a deeper truth to emerge. One that speaks of heart connections and compassion, substituting the concept of “evil” for “deeply wounded” – something a lot of us have trouble getting our heads around. And, what I began to see was a woman reflecting on the darkest of dark, owning it and making peace with it – truthfully and completely.

Toni, you are an inspiration! Keep blogging:


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bring It On

Breathe… and suddenly you are light as air.

As most of you may know, there’s nothing like a good dose of family to humble your “higher Self”!

It has taken me over 20 years to learn not to take my mother-in-law’s comments personally, but that is not to say I’m still not challenged by her visits. Anyone who knows her can tell you she’s a high-energy, not-to-be-ignored, force of nature (including Betty, herself!). But, I don’t want to elaborate on the laundry list of conflicts I can create in my head, today I would rather focus on the moments in-between.

I have found that certain relationships in our lives seem to be built around the idea of teaching us who we are. All relationships serve this purpose to some extent, but for some reason, certain dynamics seem to really reach deep – and if we’re open enough – can really expose us to some valuable information.

First of all, one thing I do know is as long as I am of this earth, I will NOT find myself fluttering above it all on gilded wings. As much patience and acceptance and compassion and understanding that I may discover I possess – there will always be times of anger, frustration, annoyance, disappointment and resistance. What I do hope to find more of, is the ability to observe myself experiencing it ALL - as I watch myself judging others who judge; as I watch my heart softening in a moment of compassion; as I watch the hissy-fit rise up from my gut, just begging for a tantrum; as I watch myself listening patiently to another’s words filled with negativity and fear, knowing we all can go there.

So, while my dear mother-in-law will, no doubt, continue to expose me to my own frustrations and shortcomings, she is also teaching me to lighten up - “have a giggle” at it all. And, well… I would call that progress, wouldn’t you?

Find your breath, lighten up and bring it on.