Sunday, February 24, 2013

And the Winner Is...

With it being Oscar time and all, I’ve been thinking lately about giving out rewards and awards (I’ll admit I didn’t get to see a single movie this year, however, and the only reason I’m watching the Oscars is because I’m visiting my sister and she has a big flat screen TV).
I have nothing against recognizing hard work, talent, creativity, or acting ability, but it always seems to me if we’re going to do this Oscar thing, maybe it could be expanded to include some other folks. On the other hand, I’m not so sure that the rewards and awards thing is even an especially good idea. I remember when my kids were in grade school and high school; awards were big. There were sports awards, academic awards, and awards for citizenship and volunteerism. 
Although I was the proud mother of three boys who always came home from these events with at least one, and often several of these awards in hand, I always wondered what it must feel like for the kids who didn’t get anything. What about the kid who should get an award just for making it to school because there are so many odds stacked against him? What about an award for the special ed child who managed to read To Kill a Mockingbird? What about the award for the child who didn’t join in when the other guys on the team were making fun of a “geek”?
You get my drift. So not to be sour-grapey about the Academy awards, or achievement awards, I still have a feeling that we’re missing something here. To wit, I would like to propose my own set of awards, which I’m going to distribute (via this blog) to a few folks I know. So as not to embarrass them  I won’t "name names." Anyway, if they happen to read this, they’ll know who they are.
So here goes:
The Award for Listening to me worry, fret, and complain—at all hours of the day and night and often when least expected-- goes to my very best friend. 
The Award for Healing: to my sister.
The Award for not minding the dust and clutter in my home (and especially in my home office) goes to my husband.
The Award for best pastries ever: to my niece.
The Award for being hilariously amusing, witty, clever, and for quoting the Bhagavad Gita goes to my three sons.
The Award for teaching me compassion, patience, and non-judgment goes to my yoga teachers.
And…last, but not least, the Award for getting up every morning, facing the day with courage and trust, and doing their best, no matter what, goes to everyone else. I think everyone deserves an Oscar for getting out there and trying. After all, sometimes we have to put on quite an act to get through the day!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Soar Like an Eagle

Living on the east coast, I have many excuses for not going outside in winter. It’s cold, for one thing. I might fall on the ice, for another (as a yoga practitioner, however, my balance is pretty good!). I don’t like skiing (my balance is not that good), and when the wind blows on a bitingly frosty day in New Jersey (like today) the option of staying in bed with a cup of tea and listening to the chimes tinkling madly (or happily) on the deck seems to make a lot more sense than braving the elements.
            With very little effort, I can talk myself into staying indoors. But yesterday my husband (who runs in any kind of weather) lured me into a walk. Instead of our usual route we set out in another direction, and before we knew it we were at a spot where many a time we have spied an eagle. Sure enough, an immense bird was sitting atop a tree, and as we approached he soared into the sky, his (or her) huge wingspan impressive as he flew over the river. It was a sight to behold, and I have to admit that I chided myself a bit over the near-possibility that I might have missed it.
            So today, I set out again even though the temperature was lower and the wind more harsh, thinking, well, who knows what I’ll miss if I stay in my cozy home all day? Half way through my walk (alone this time) however, I began to feel foolish. Why hadn’t I just stayed in? No eagles were soaring--not even a hawk. Nothing spectacular seemed to be happening in the sky above.
            But then I looked at the ground, and noticed how beautifully the snow glittered in the sunlight, and the ice cracking on the sidewalk reminded me of a day in my childhood when my best friend and I decided to “accidentally” fall into a wide, deep puddle. We were probably six or seven at the time, and for some reason that puddle just looked like it needed a good splashing. So, holding hands and giggling, in we went! Then, covered with mud and water, we ran home to change and tell my mother about our little “mishap.”
            Believe me, I have nothing against hunkering down with a good book on a cold day. But I also think it’s important to get out in the wind, the snow, the sun, breeze, rain (but not freezing rain), the frost, the dew, and the air. I know a few too many folks who automatically shut down as soon as the temp dips below 50. But my advice is to bundle up and get out there; you just never know when an eagle will soar overhead or a puddle will call out to be jumped in!

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Recently, while updating my resume for a potential writing gig, I suddenly realized how exhausted I’d become. It’s taxing, I’ve found, to make yourself sound as wonderful as you really are so that someone will want to hire you or purchase your wares. It’s a helluva lot easier to make yourself sound bad. In fact this is something I can do in my sleep!
            One of my favorite books/DVDs is Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. The film opens with a young woman who is constantly berating herself. It takes hard work (sometimes for a lifetime) to train yourself to be positive when you think and speak about yourself. But the truth is, doing so can truly heal and change your life.
            I’ve come a very long way from the days when every thought I had contained a negative innuendo or outright insult about myself. In fact, thanks to yoga, those days are long gone. Nevertheless, I still find it difficult to “sell” myself. Sometimes, it just seems more natural to say, “Nah, I can’t do that. I’m not good enough. Someone can do it better than I can.”
            If you look closely at yourself, however, you’ll find that’s quite often just not true. You are just as good as anyone else, just as valuable, just as brilliant (even if you don’t have a PhD, or, even if you do!). Life experiences sometimes bring us down, or we listen to others instead of to our own hearts. Inside we know that we are “good enough.” In fact, we’re better than good enough. But we live in a world that judges harshly and so we learn to harshly judge ourselves.
            In my studies of yoga, I’m constantly reminded not to judge others. But the first step in the awareness of this is learning not to judge yourself. I’m not talking about giving yourself a pass for areas that need improvement; I’m talking about recognizing your many gifts and making the most of them.
            Not everyone can be Madame Curie or Gandhi. But we all have positive qualities. On a resume, unfortunately, we may not get a chance to describe what our best qualities really are. Yes, I can type 75 words or more a minute. But is that more important than my ability to listen with an open heart to my friends, to have patience with my kids, or to give love without expectation of something in return?
If you think of your true gifts, talents and attributes you may find that the resume, however hard to write, is just the tip of the iceberg. We are all so much more. Think of the great jobs we could all snag if we could put the truth on our resumes: i.e. Amazing wife, mother or husband, child; devoted friend, healing presence, aura of light; peaceful, giving person, committed, trusting and trustworthy being, filled with/giver of love. And, can type 100 w/p/m!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

For Love...Or Money?

Back in the day, I wouldn’t think of writing without financial remuneration (except in my journal, of course). I mean, isn’t that what makes one a “professional”? If we get paid for what we do then we surely must be good at it, right? And if we’re writing, teaching, lecturing, or making cookies for nothing, then well, we must be a bit of an amateur. No?
            Well, things have changed somewhat in the writing world, as in the rest of the world at large and I have come to realize that if I don’t write just for the love of it I may not be writing at all. If I don’t write just because I have to, want to, and am moved to, I will just be sitting here thinking negative thoughts like, “Nobody likes me, nobody wants me… wah, wah, wah.” In fact, although I still—surprise!—do get paid for some of my writing, there is plenty of writing I do these days (i.e. this blog and my blog at Huffington Post) for which no paycheck is forthcoming. Does this mean I should not write? No way!
            Obviously, some of the best things we do in life have no financial reward. What we get paid to do, and what we do best—or with the most love--may be two separate things entirely. Without naming names, I’ll just mention a woman I know who is a topnotch lawyer. I’m sure she gets paid decent bucks for this. But in her free time she devotes herself to finding nurturing homes for homeless dogs and cats. Is the work that she does as an animal rescue volunteer any less valuable than her paid profession? Certainly not.
            The notion that money and value are inherently related is outdated (and possibly never was really accurate). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against getting paid for what I do or getting paid what I’m “worth.” But on the other hand, I’m not going to let lack of a paycheck hold me back from following my bliss. Yes, I have to “put food on the table” as the saying goes. But I also have to feed my heart, and if that means writing some stuff just for love then so be it.
Whether your gift or bliss is writing, healing, teaching, talking, playing the harmonica or standing on your head, I hope you will share it whether your reward is pennies, nickels, twenties, or a smile on your own –or someone else’s—face.