It was a full moon this week. I love looking up on a clear night and viewing the magical, mystical moon between the high rises. Ever since I was a child I’ve found the moon an enchantress. Myths have their place, and for many years I counted on myths to justify my outsized love of a full moon. In times of feeling invisible I felt seen by the moon.
The lure of the moon as a symbol of feminine energy resonated with my earliest feminist leanings. Now at the foreseeable dawning of my senior classification, I am still drawn to the phases of the moon. Perhaps it is the passage of time that resonates with the lunar cycles. Or maybe it’s my propensity for relying on my imagination to improve on everyday life.
Whatever the case, I am grateful to be able to look up at the night sky. It’s guidance, imaginary or otherwise, will continue to fuel my dreams and capture my heart. Given my friends, and referencing the arts, I know I am not alone in this.
Do the stars and the moon speak to you? If so, write about it. It will strengthen that connection.
Do you have rituals or habits unique to daytime and night? If so, try to change them up. See if that gives you a new perspective. It might have a new insight when you shift your routine.
Shop your closet and drawers to find the clothes that have soft and soothing fabrics. It could be a scarf or a swatch of cloth, if not a piece of clothing. Keep the clothes or fabrics in an accessible location so that when you need soothing you have a perfect garment to wear, or a piece of cloth to rub for comforting.
I grew up with three siblings. If you grew up with siblings, as I did, you are familiar with the age-old enterprise of tattling. My younger sister, Susan, now Chova Sara, was the tattletale. She was the one that thought it important to report to my parents, usually our mom, whatever misadventures we were enacting. When I was six to her four, she ran to our mom to say I wasn’t letting her play with my Barbies. This was true, but only because she cut their hair and drew on them with crayons. Nonetheless, I had to release more dolls to her based on “fairness.” This made no sense to me, but she got what she wanted, and it spurred her on for years.
When I was fifteen she couldn’t get downstairs fast enough when she rifled through my drawers and found my almost full pack of Eve cigarettes. I was no smoker, but I did purchase a 75 cent pack to try and smoke at high school socials. I, a frizzy haired, acne prone teen with a penchant for musicals, wanted to seem cool. I imagined cigarettes was the entry point. I coughed more than I inhaled, thus ending a two-week foray into the impossible road to being a cool, cigarette-smoking kid. But I kept the pack just in case I could offer an Eve to one of the true cool kids.
Our mom, a former smoker, who coughed if she even thought there was smoke around her, was furious. I was grounded. My explanation had holes. Not only did I own a forbidden pack of cigarettes, but I was going to share an unhealthy habit with someone else. While our mom lambasted me, I got a glimpse of Susan’s righteous smirk. I imagine that same smirk on each of the mouths of all the tattlers online. We have morphed into a culture of telling on others.
When did we learn that telling on others was a better strategy than speaking in a respectful manner to said perpetrator? We gain so much from having thoughtful dialog. We may disagree, and in many instances, we may not come to a resolution, but there is a chance to connect rather than divide if we speak to one another rather than tell on each other.
I believe when we feel we lack personal power we resort to public ranting or gossiping. We dump our righteous opinions on the masses where we hope to receive positive reinforcement for negativity. However, real confidence comes from being courageous enough to speak up without shaming someone else. In this way there’s a possibility you both might learn and grow. Perhaps we can build our self-worth not by being righteous, which only strokes our egos, but by privately harnessing our emotional responses and caring for ourselves as we process those emotions. By looking inward instead of pointing fingers, we thoughtfully take steps towards positive change.
Muster the courage to speak with someone with whom you disagree. Let them know you want to understand their thoughts and actions. Be open and think about what they tell you. Monitor your emotional response. And share your perspective, not to convince, but because you both matter.
Stop! If you are about to rant with someone(s) who is/are not your friends, take a beat, write in a journal, but withhold from adding to the public negativity forum.
Hold your own hand as if you’re holding hands with yourself. Notice what that feels like. Do you feel your own warmth? Allow you to be there for yourself with this small gesture.
I just heard that The Museum of Failure in Brooklyn opened last week (https://museumoffailure.com). It’s primarily a collection of product fails through the last 5 decades or so. I’m happy to be celebrating failure. Their slogan is “Innovation Needs Failure!” I’m not so sure I can say I’ve been innovative, unless one considers resourcefulness as an innovation, but I can say with absolute certainty that I, too, have a history of failures.
Though certainly not my first or last, but within vivid memory, is my failed first driving test. I remain an anxious driver. Lucky for me and other vehicles on the road, I live in Manhattan, have not owned a car since my late teens, and rarely drive. At the time, I was 17, did not want to take the bus to high school anymore, and was horrified that I failed. I didn’t want to drive so much as reap the benefits of being a driver, but I could not face my friends and classmates admitting to this personal and social failure.
It’s taken me long time to own my failures. When I was younger, I was horrified to share any failures. Either I was afraid I’d get in trouble, or I was afraid I’d be judged poorly. Though I experienced both, it was my own self-judgement that was harsher than anything I endured by others. Luckily, the long line of mistakes I’ve made in this life have allowed me the opportunity to soften my judgement, and simply see mistakes as part of the human experience.
Hopefully over the years I’ve learned from my mistakes. Sadly, some mistakes hurt others by over sharing, or needing to fulfill some personal need rather than understanding that it would harm some else. I lost friends given my poor judgement. But I’ve also had friends who had a forgiving heart and understood I was lost or misguided, forgiving me, and allowing me to do better. It is those friends, therapists, and family members who fostered change and growth. I will always be grateful to them. And I am now grateful to those who walked away because they didn’t want to be hurt again. They taught me to do better and be better and to treat myself with care rather than look to others to validate me, especially when vulnerable.
I look forward to making the trip to the Museum of Failure. There’s something comforting in knowing it’s out there.
When you’ve failed at something, write in a journal how it feels, and, when possible, what you learned that will help you in the future. Try as best you can to be gentle with yourself, appreciating that the failure is part of the journey.
When speaking on the phone purposely smile. There is research to suggest that smiling lightens one’s speaking tone allowing for a more positive interaction.
Throughout the day repeat the phrase, aloud or internally, “I am Enough.” Experiencing ourselves as enough releases the pressure to be more, better, or different.
I was walking downtown listening to a light novel, a quasi-romcom. It had started off well and then it took a nose-dive from there. About halfway to my destination I turned it off. I simply wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I had wanted a break from heavier subjects or professional readings. This was not the break I needed.
Growing up I often heard the adage “Losers Never Quit, and Quitters Never Lose.” In this case, I was losing time and joy if I didn’t quit. For so long I had always finished the books I started, I didn’t cancel plans unless there was an emergency. And I stayed to the end of plays, movies, television series and concerts rather than leave at the intermission if I wasn’t enjoying it. The pleasure of maturing, or at least being older is that I do not have to berate myself for quitting.
Stopping when something is not right for us is a gift, not a determination of failure. I win when I consider my needs. Of course, this is not a recommendation to simply quit whenever we want. Reading a book for pleasure means that I am seeking pleasure in reading it. When it’s not pleasurable, then quitting and finding something that I do find pleasurable meets my goal of a pleasurable read. When I’m meditating and I get uncomfortable, I don’t quit, I observe what’s happening and fold that into the meditation practice. Mediation is about making space for whatever is happening. So I am not betraying my goal by resisting quitting in the middle.
It’s not always easy to choose whether to carry on with an activity or whether to quit because it’s not in our best interest. When I was younger, I was stuck because I thought quitting spoke of a weak characteristic in me, and I wanted to avoid that. Accepting ourselves by not living dogmatically allows us to assess when to quit and when to keep going. I am more apt to find my way forward when I’m not forcing it. When I take away the “shoulds” it’s easier to make the right choice for any given time. Onto a new book. Making that choice is enjoyable.
What “Shoulds” have burdened you? Any chance you can let them go? If that’s difficult, ask yourself, “does completing it serve me, or am I defending against some idea I have about that particular “should?”
If you find you regret something you quit before you had a chance to achieve a goal, ask yourself if you can go back. It can be great to pick up dancing when older. Or, try learning the language through an easy tutorial or class that you started in high school.
Find soaps for your face and for your body that have a texture and aroma that you find pleasing. It makes such a difference when we wash ourselves and it feels soothing. Your senses of smell and touch will feel well taken care of.
The Hebrew Year 5783 is upon us. It’s a celebration of new beginnings. Sometimes called the great reset. We have a tradition of bringing bread crumbs, which symbolize our sins, down to the river to release them so we can start anew. For me the letting go of the recent past to move on is an unburdening. It’s a kindness we can give ourselves in letting go of what we deem to be opposed to our values. It’s a personal forgiveness so we can live better lives through right action.
I love the symbolism in this act. Not only do I affirm the wrongdoings of this past year, but it holds me to a higher standard, which I appreciate. Even if I lose my cool when I get upset and don’t take a moment to pause, or I unintentionally hurt someone, I am still one step closer to learning from my missteps.
Life is filled with lessons. I have a friend who always reminds me when I get frustrated or upset with someone, that they are my Buddha. That person is there to teach me if I’m willing to learn. When I just want to be right, I have the opportunity to bring compassion for myself and others. In those moments, I’m not so thrilled to embrace the lesson, but with time, especially on the eve of this New Year, I am motivated to try again.
Find a way to let go of things you’ve done that you have a hard time forgiving. Create a ritual that will assist you in forgiving yourself while learning from what was done.
In place of being hard on yourself, or justifying hurting someone else, be gentle and kind to yourself, and in turn, to others, easing any internal criticism.
Dip apples in honey. The apples symbolize hope and abundance, while honey symbolizes sweet possibilities for the New Year.
I’m writing this on International Friendship Day. It has me thinking of past friends, some gone by mutual consent, some, as the wonderful Claudia Shear put it, are ‘location specific’, and some died too young. The rest still bring me laughs, tears, and meaningful moments either with posts, texts, emails, or on a rare visit.
I have hurt friends in the past. I wasn’t always trustworthy. I wasn’t always able to set limits until it was too late. Or I just didn’t understand when to speak and when to keep quiet. I have run into previous friends who I must have upset because, though I have been happy to see them, they don’t share that sentiment. I may not know the specifics of their interpretation of events, but I recall not really understanding how to relate to others.
However, the friends who stuck by me, the ones who forgave me, or who didn’t feel upset by my actions taught me so much about friendship. They taught me about the imperfect, human connectedness that is key when relating to others. They taught me to appreciate the differences and treasure what we share in common. I’ve learned about new musical artists. Books have been exchanged, topics seriously discussed. There’s been a lot of theater and film, and meals shared.
Friendship is a gift. Sometimes I squandered that gift. Not on purpose, but by not knowing my value, thus not appreciating that my actions impacted others. Nevertheless, I now value those gifts from the past and in the present. I’ve internalized each and every one with whom I’ve shared an alliance. I have learned from great generosity of spirit. I’ve enjoyed shared belly laughs, and poignant moments. Most importantly, my friends have taught me, and continue to teach me the importance of seeing beyond our imperfections. I have learned to celebrate happy times with friends. And my friends have comforted me when things have been tough. I am so grateful as I continue to learn and grow thanks to dear friends.
Reach out to an old friend. If you can get together, great. If not, send a note.
Send a cartoon or meme with a friend. Nothing like a shared laugh.
For times when you need more energy, take a few breaths through your nose, then quicken those breaths. Repeat three times, First take regular breaths through your nostrils, then quicken the breaths for about 3 to 5 inhales & exhales. Stop if you get lightheaded. Best to do this sitting.
It was the summer of 1979. Thanks to a student loan I was in Paris studying French, which I didn’t retain and Art History, which I preserved with many future visits to museums. I felt so cosmopolitan sipping a café au lait while enjoying a freshly baked croissant before classes began. We sat at a café off of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Half the day was spent in classes. By afternoon I was walking for hours getting to know the city of lights.
Those were the highlights. Yet there was so much I didn’t know. Back in our dorm room we had a bidet. I was too insecure to ask how to use it or what it was for. I thought, since we were in a women’s dorm, that it was a douche. What I knew about douches I learned in Summer’s Eve commercials back in New Jersey. When my roommates from other college exchange programs asked if I knew how to use it. I lied. I said, “Yes.” Not knowing seemed as if it wasn’t an option for me.
As memorable as the summer of “79 was, I recall my insecurities as much as I remember the amazing gifts of that European summer. Over 40 years later and I still recall what my wonderful art history professor taught us every time I go on walks, recognizing the architecture. Or, appreciating a painting in a gallery or museum because of what she imparted in our classes and tours. I’m also currently enjoying the marvels of a bidet in our New York City apartment. It’s not a separate structure as it was in Paris. It’s attached to our toilet, a wonderful addition from Tushy. I use less toilet paper, reveling in the simplicity of continental hygiene. The focused stream of water cleans up beautifully.
I may now know what a bidet is and how I can use it effectively, but over the years I have learned to admit what I don’t know. I’d rather learn and grow than pretend that I’m more knowledgeable so someone else won’t judge me. We lose ground when we make believe we’re smarter than we are. I compromised my learning curve and the breadth of joy while in Paris because I couldn’t admit what I didn’t know. Thank goodness I know better now.
Think of something you have wanted to know or learn. Look it up. Or ask a friend about it. It feels nice to understand what we didn’t know before.
Make time to laugh. Do it purposefully. And laugh with abandon.
Be open to be inspired. Keep an open mind and go about your day. Whether you anticipate it from a known teacher, or whether it comes in an unexpected moment, being willing to be inspired is the open invitation to wonder and awe.