Death and Life Entwined

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Today I attended a funeral for an aunt I never knew well.  What little I knew of her, I must say,  when my family would visit with my aunt and uncle and cousins I always admired her brash, out spoken nature. In spite of our infrequent visits I wanted to go to her funeral.  Family is family, love is love, no matter how distant.

My relatives have done very well for themselves. They live in southern Florida and exemplify the image of the Jewish family who always played their cards right and made it big. Their life is luxury, and they live it well.

The funeral was in an opulent funeral home, with large Greek pillars out front and floor to ceiling marble. The sanctuary was filled with wealthy men and women, country club goers, all with New York and Philadelphia accents. It felt foreign to my Midwestern upbringing, but very quickly all awkwardness melted away.

My cousins and uncle sat in the front row, holding each others hands, comforting each other when they broke into tears. As I watched this tenderness, heartbroken thoughts of the last funeral I had attended came to mind.

This funeral took place in Northern Florida, with a working class, non-Jewish family grieving the loss of my friend’s dear mother. She was a single mother, a strong source of love, who devoted much of her life to solely supporting her seven children. Making ends meet was never easy.

Given these two family’s backgrounds, you’d think the differences would outweigh the similarities…yet in many ways these two families, in this moment of sadness and loss were so similar, it was striking. Love, tenderness, vulnerability do not discriminate, because in the end grief is grief, love is love. No matter whether you’re living in a multi-million dollar home or just barely paying rent, sadness is still sadness. Heartbreak hurts, no matter who you are.

Today I saw my family’s humanness, their beautiful, bare tenderness, just as I saw with my friend’s family ten months before. Both share a deep love for one and other, and a devotion to family that keeps them steady in times of weakness.

There’s something so beautiful about death. In our broken moments of grief, we are at our very worst but we are also at our best. It is in these shattered times that we are in our truest form. We are not the wealthy banker, the waitress, or the homeless guy on the street corner; we are just humans, sad and broken in our loss. It’s in these moments that we become beautiful in our tenderness.

Most people I know fear vulnerability. We’re supposed to be strong, be champions of our own lives. “Never Quit” everyone says with rigid tenacity. We chant “life is good” and smile even when our heart aches. But when someone close to us dies, something happens and we can no longer hold up that front, and even if it’s just for a moment we break as we realize that we and everyone we love is fragile.

It’s during this window that our view of the world shifts in radical ways. We’re rudely awakened to the fact that most of this stuff—the things we wrap our identity around—doesn’t matter, not one bit and we’re left in this raw, vulnerable state that is both terrifying and absolutely beautiful.

As horrible and awful as these feelings of grief are, these rare moments to me are like gold, for this is the time when the heart splits open and in our bareness we are reminded who we are. It is then that we see that we are not the costumes we wear or the identities we take on, but instead we are simple, delicate beings. Human to the utmost.

There is nothing wrong with grief, there is nothing wrong with sadness and there is nothing wrong with letting your heart break open, because when you do, you expose that raw, bare piece of yourself. In that moment you have the opportunity to stand up and say “Here I am!”—not the cooperate investor, not the single mom, or the garbage collector—just YOU. Pure, simple, beautiful you.

When you celebrate who you truly are, a beautiful creature of dichotomies: strong and weak, radiant and ugly, fearful and brave—something great happens. The healing begins and suddenly there’s space for the sun to shine in.

I believe death is beautiful…because it is also life. The two are so closely intertwined that you can’t pull them apart. The more things end, the more that they begin.

Today at my aunt’s funeral I did not see that dark, ugly thing called “death” that people spend most their lives running from. All I saw was love. And although someone magnificent is missing from that picture today, my aunt is still here in her truest essence, because love does not die. Everything that she ever truly was lives on, moving outward like a ripple of golden light that spreads, touching everything in its wake.

Life is horrible, life is ugly, but it is also so exquisitely beautiful. In this world, you can’t have one without the other, in fact I think on some level they might be one and the same. Acknowledging this heart wrenching…yet astonishing truth is one of our greatest challenges we have as beings on this planet, but it is also holds one of our greatest rewards.

Do not fear your brokenness…it is your gift.

May light and love guide your path always.

Peace,

Becky

 

Diving for Gold

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Just four days ago, my husband and I drove south from our home in Flagler Beach, Florida, towards Key West. As we made our way along a thin stretch of highway that connects an archipelago of islands  I started seeing ads for scuba diving adventures.

I had always fantasized about diving, but the thought of it also terrified me. My slight fear of the ocean coupled by my experiences getting sea sick kept it from ever becoming a reality.

Yet somehow, out of my mouth I heard myself say to my husband: “Let’s go scuba diving.”

The terrified, wimpy-self in my head thought, Are you crazy? We don’t scuba dive.

But bold me pressed on, “Come on…Let’s do it!” I said out loud, convincing my husband .

After all, everything else in my life lately has been about letting go, facing my fears, why not do this one too? This trip to the Keys was a bold move in itself as we were leaving the kids longer than we ever had before and I knew my husband, celebrating twenty years together, had issues to resolve that would certainly come up during this trip.

When Shawn gave me the okay I called a Key West based scuba diving outfitters called Try Scuba Diving, Key West and scheduled our trip. The next day we met these three great guys, our guides: John, Stephan, and Peter.

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The boat was neatly organized with a row of vests, air tanks, flippers, and such. On the boat was a sweet German couple who were visiting the US, bounding from adventure to adventure on a Florida whirlwind trip. Our guides created a mellow, happy mood that instantly put me at ease.

However when the boat pulled into the bay, I panicked wondering if the motion sickness meds had time to take effect, but the skies were crisp and blue, the water calm and emerald green. The summer breeze blew against my face and within moments I had forgotten to worry about sea sickness. I was perfectly fine.

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We stopped in the shallow water…just four feet deep to try out the vests and tanks and learn the basics of diving. I settled myself down in the water and found myself at ease breathing through the tank.

We got back in the boat and headed to our official dive spot for the day. I was ready to go. We plunged down into the water and suddenly things didn’t feel so easy. There had been a storm the night before so things were a bit cloudy—maybe with 15 foot visibility. We could still see plenty, but it wasn’t the picture perfect, crystal clear Jacques Cousteau moment I imagined and I felt a little closed in.

I was in an alien world. I could not speak, ask questions, or even really communicate through facial expressions. Nothing was real. Nothing went by the rules of this world, not even the way I propelled myself through space. It was life with completely new guidelines. And although it was exciting on some levels, my scared, control-freak self constantly wanted to take the reins and swim back up to the surface.

At one point during my initial panic I noticed my diligent guide was pantomiming to me, his hands going slowly up and down over his chest like a Tai Qi master.

“Breathe,” he was telling me. I understood!

Instantly I let myself relax and feel my breath. It wasn’t so bad.

As time passed and I learned to regulate my buoyancy with my breath I started to feel as if I had some control. Although that scared little voice in my head was still chatting away, I found a way to turn her volume way down.

The fish were cool. I even saw a giant crab and a turtle…but that wasn’t what this trip was about for me…this time around it was about mastering my fear of the unknown and most importantly letting go of my need for control.

When I realized we had made our way back to the anchor of the boat, I saw our guide give us the sign for “up”. I felt my heart sink.

No….I want more! I thought. But sadly this trip was over.

On the boat ride back my husband and I looked at each other and smiled, high on our fantastic underwater adventure.

“When are we going to do this again?” I asked and together we discussed the logistics of getting our kids out scuba diving with us next time.

Something happened on that trip to the Keys. I found gold, but it wasn’t in the form of a coin at the bottom of the ocean, nor was it in a “mermaid moment” where I felt completely free and alive swimming about.

Instead I found gold in the work, in the effort of calming myself, finding my center. The gem of my Key West trip came from the struggle, from that little battle I had with my terrified ego, who wanted nothing more than to swim to the surface and hang on for dear life to that boat.

My treasure came from refusing to give in to that dark, timid side of myself and instead, nurture that piece of me that whispers: “everything is alright” “have faith” “you are safe”.

Just as I had anticipated, in spite of our wonderful water adventure, the car ride home with my husband, brought up a lot of the relationship grime, that I knew we had to deal with.

As we talked I noticed that many times in my relationships I’ve wanted to flee—just like I did in the ocean. It’s as if I want to say, “Alright. I’m done with this shit! Bring me back to the boat. This is too hard!”

But now I’m wondering if I can treat my relationships more like I treated that dive. Don’t feed the fear…instead listen for that other voice, the one who loves us unconditionally who is there whispering in her sweetness- “Do not fear. You are okay.”

I tell my daughter from time to time that the bravest people aren’t the ones who go out and do things fearlessly, but the ones who are scared and do them anyway. I think I’m one of the brave ones. (As are you!)

Bravery comes in all forms, whether its in getting in a boat and diving deep under the water, or looking at your relationships head on and acknowledging the ways you may struggle with your capabilities as a good friend, a wife, a parent, a lover.

Sometimes the treasure isn’t in a tangible object like a shiny coin, but in Love itself. The bounty comes from making the choice to not swim for the surface, but instead to stay deep down, even when things feel scary.

Today and every day I take a dive into the ocean of my own heart, and whatever darkness, whatever murkiness I uncover I keep on swimming, because I know from my depths everything is okay.

Keep on swimming.

In Love,

Becky

 

The Best Book Ever Written

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I was sitting on the beach this morning, watching the sunrise, drinking my tea when a pesky question arose in my mind:

What do you want?

Oh great, I thought, not this one again. Sometimes I’m too existential for my own good.

What’s funny about this is just a few days ago, as I was working on my new book  I asked this question regarding my main character:

What does she want?

This notion  is the core of my book—all my books. What is the single driving factor for each of my protaganists? Everything in my story that happens from beginning, middle and end points to the central desire of the leading role. This driving force is what keeps the reader engaged. It’s why we read… to see if the characters get what they want in the end.

Isn’t that all we’re looking for in life as well? To follow our desires and ultimately leave this planet finding what we came for?  That’s why this element is key to good story telling.  Desire seeking is a key component to the human condition.

In the case of my novella (working title:Oz Sucks) Jane, a cynical, spitfire has been blown to Oz in a hurricane and wants nothing more than to get home. Thus I am creating a story dedicated to Jane’s quest. Every scene in the book in some way points towards her desire, either bringing her closer or farther from her goal.

My secondary character, the cocky, romantic interest, Kansas transplant Nick wants one thing and one thing only—to have Jane. So, my story is a dance of sorts between these two characters, based on a basic premise: Jane wants to go home and Nick wants Jane.

Think about the “characters” in your life. Are you not also doing a dance with them as them as well? A push-pull of I want, you want… we want?

A great example of this comes from Lord of the Rings. The premise is so simple. Frodo, wants to get rid of the ring without being sucked in by its power…and of course Sméagol wants the ring. Such a modest premise for such a rich, complicated story.

We are no different than the characters in the books we read. We are all driven by our desires, thus our lives unfold according to the path we choose. If you want to be a wealthy person, your life story will show you acting in ways either to make money.or in some people’s case spending money haphazardly in order create the illusion of wealth. If your reason to live is to make your children happy, all of your core actions will be to give them what they need for a happy existence.

Of course our desires change over time since life is full of many sub-stories…not quite as clean and crisp as a book. However if you step back, pretend you are the reader instead of the leading role, you can see what drives you, why you do what you do.

It’s a weird exercise, seeing yourself as the reader (or the writer) instead of the actor, but I find it fun and fascinating.

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Sunrise near my home in Flagler Beach, Florida

I’ve probably sat in this spot on the beach five hundred times in the last five years and each time my surface desires have morphed and changed, but this morning I felt something different. Beneath my multitude of wants, something stayed the same.

What do I want? I asked myself. I knew the answer. Like a character in one of my books, the core of my desire has been calling me all these years.

I want to bring love to this world…and so, for me, as I write this life story I know it’s about becoming whole, so I can help others in their journey.

So if I’m to stay true to my writer’s code, every action I do from here on out should reflect this desire to not just give love, but be love.

That’s one lofty book, but I think I’m up to it.

Remember you’re the author of your own book….your own personal masterpiece.  Make it a good one.

In love,

Becky

PS. Here’s a great talk by Andrew Stanton the creator of Finding Nemo who talks about the key components of story telling and the power of asking ‘what do you want?’

 

 

 

Night Vision

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Author’s Note: I was having trouble sleeping the other night, so I got up and started writing.  I have to say I was a bit surprised when this came out….

Once there was a princess, who had everything she ever wanted, but her life still felt empty. So, one night, while the palace was asleep, she slipped out the iron gate into the woods. The girl followed a trail of silver light along a path, lead only by the beckoning call of frogs within the wood.

Deep in the forest of pines, she stopped and stared at the moon. Away from the castle, this moon was much more beautiful than she ever knew. There beneath its brightness, she found herself smiling, experiencing a happiness she forgot she knew. So, alone among the oaks and pines, she danced in her shimmering gown of gold, her lithe body making silhouettes against the moonlit ground.

Every night, intoxicated by its greatness, she went into the wood and danced, sure that she could feel the moon’s silver kiss on her skin. In her gratitude, she brought her dear moon gifts: a white feather, a beautiful stone, and a deep green leaf. And although this celestial being did not speak, she decided she needed no thanks, for its constant glow alone was all she asked for.

Then one night, when she stepped out onto the trail, she could not see. The frogs did not sing, the crickets did not chirp. Her path was total darkness. Stumbling her way out to her space in the forest, she looked up to the sky and called out.

“Oh, moon? Moon? Where have you gone?” But there was no answer, only the cool breeze of the whispering wind.

The princess in the golden gown went home and wept. She cried, angry at herself as it dawned on her thatperhaps this moon, this creature of the night, was never hers to begin with.

What sort of foolish girl falls in love with the moon? she thought.

In her grief she was left empty… just a hollow girl, alone.

One night sleep refused to come. She lay awake in bed, her curtains open, looking to the black sky. Breathing long, slow breaths, she felt as if every golden spark of joy she ever knew was lost in the woods during the nights before.

As she lay there gazing at the subtle movement of blackened clouds, she heard a distant call.

Hoo, hoo, hoo….

The call of an owl.

She had heard once that owls were messengers of death, and in her sorry state death seemed dully appropriate.

Death of love, death of hope… she thought under a heavy dose of self-pity.

Hoo, hoo, hoo, it called again.

She covered her head with a pillow, but the owl kept on calling.

Fed up, she went to her window and opened it. On a nearby oak stood a white owl, its yellow eyes looking at her. It ruffled its feathers as if mocking her sorry state.

“Go away,” she called to it, but it merely flapped its wings and flew to a closer branch.

Determined to scare off this harbinger of death, she ran out of her room, down the stairs, out the palace gate, and onto the trail. The owl up ahead flapped its wings and glided in complete silence to a tree ahead. She followed.

And so it went–the owl, moving from tree to tree and the princess following behind, determined to scare it far away from the castle. This went on for quite some time until the princess paused and looked around. She was deep in the woods, alone, in the dark, without her moon.

However in that moment something strange happened. She realized that even without the moon above, she was not blind.

Far from it!

In fact, her eyes had become so well adjusted she could see the details in the bark of the trees, the dancing leaves on their limbs, and the tiny movement of small creatures on the ground.

Hoo hoo, the owl called again.

Then there, in this subtle darkness, she felt a change within herself. A warmth grew from within her chest. Her own heart was alive with radiance. This loving energy flowed outward towards her hands, her legs, her feet, until she was wrapped in that same luscious joy she felt from the moon, but tenfold!

As she stood in rapture, she wondered if maybe it was not the love she received from the silent moon that had driven her dance, but something grander, something that reached beyond the sky, beyond the forest…outward, full circle, then back into her own heart.

And so that night, beneath the cloud covered sky she danced, bathed not in moon light, but at light that came from within.

To this day, you will still find the princess in the golden gown out dancing in the forest. Sometimes it will be with the wise, old trees, the playful frogs, or the noisy crickets, and sometimes it will even be with her dear old moon, but regardless of who accompanies her each night, one thing stands the same: you will always find that princess dancing with joy, illuminating her world with her own golden heart.

 

Authors Note: To me this is a story about being pulled by our own desire for happiness, and the mistake we make grounding it in material things–people, objects, places, believing that they will cure your woes, but in the end all  these things are fleeting. Like the princess in the golden gown, it’s not until we learn to find that inner joy-that love of Self that we can be truly content with ourselves and our world.  The moon didn’t have all the answers, only the girl did, within herself.

All you can really work on is yourself.  That’s it. As my friends Tim and Marybeth say, “It’s an inside job.” 

That it is.

May you  dance everyday of your life by the golden glow of your heart.

Peace,

Becky

 

 

 

Great Expectations (according to Luke Skywalker)

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Remember the scene in Empire Strikes Back when Luke is facing Yoda’s trials in the cave on Dagobah? There he faces Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle, only to find after decapitating him that beneath Darth’s mask is Luke’s own face.

That’s how I feel lately…..maybe minus the light sabers.

Some days I feel like I’ve been up against insurmountable “bad guys”, the kind of people who I seem to meet over and over again in my life. These people come in many incarnations, with different guises, but their MO is always the same.

They are never satisfied. These are people who beg for your love, yet nothing you do will satiate their need. Everything is conditional. They are what the Chinese call hungry ghosts. In China they depict these people as ghoulish beings with over sized stomachs and tiny mouths. Never can they feel full.

And so all along my life I complained incessantly about these people, who seemed to haunt me at every turn. I even wrote a book series about them (www.HungryGhostBooks.com) As far as I was concerned I gave and gave but never received.

In these scenarios I always saw myself as a bit of a hero—the do gooder. You know, like Luke Skywalker. I was the bold giver, who loves these people so much that she risks losing herself, wasting away, in some sort of glorious act of devotion…A picture perfect martyr, no?

Lately this whole Luke scenario keeps popping up in my head, especially when I’m meditating. I know this is weird, but once in a while, as I sit there alone with my breath, an intrusive thought pops up and I feel myself not as me but as these other people, the ones who have caused me so much trouble along the way. Part of me is thinking, “What the f#$@”and I try to push it down. When it doesn’t go down I push harder.

I’ve learned however that the most important part of meditation is to simply be with your thoughts. Don’t feed them, but also don’t fight them.

And so, that is what I did…I sat with the yuckiness.

In the process I’m learning something…I am not just the good guy in this movie I call “My Life”, in fact many times I am the never-satisfied one, demanding more of my friends, of my husband, of my kids than they could ever give. And like my adversaries, occasionally my expectations are so high that I put them in the position of the feeder, scooping their version of love into me faster than I can swallow.

This is a horrible thing to think about yourself, but I believe, like all of us, I too am a creature of the darkside. It cannot be denied.

When we’re in those dark winding caverns, we have a choice. With our light saber drawn we can knock our enemies down, we can run from their unshrouded masks, or we can acknowledge who they really are. Light and dark.

Rather than hating our enemies we can pause and acknowledge that maybe in some ways they are only us in disguise.

Loving one’s self, without condition, without expectation is perhaps one of the hardest tasks we are set out to do in this life. We all are hungry ghosts on some level, looking for an idealized  image that will never be, but when we wander the corridors of life, sometimes we see that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and we know, even in our darkest moments that each of us hold in our hands all of the beauty and perfection we ever wanted.

And we are forgiven….unconditionally.

In this maze that we all walk through, all we can do is love. I say that over and over again…it’s so simple but it’s perhaps the only real thing we can do.

Love and forgive.

May the Force be with you.

Peace,

Becky

 

 

What Do You Want?

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I stumbled on a funny little exercise in “The Way of Mastery”, a book my meditation group is reading.

In the chapter they suggest meditating for just five minutes, clearing the mind, and then asking yourself “What do I want?” The authors tell you to write down what comes to your mind for seven days of this and then on the seventh day reading through them all.

“Ha!” I thought when I read this. “This will be easy!”

So I sat down and quieted my mind. I tell you, before I got the breath number two, those wants were rushing through my head in full force.

“I want a hot tub,” I thought.

“I want that cute dress I saw in the store.”

“I want one of those sugary “morning buns” I had when I was a kid…the ones my mom used to buy us as a special treat, that were slightly crisp on the outside and hot and chewy on the inside…yeah, I want one of those.”

“I want a new motorcycle. Ooh yeah…I shiny, red one. A Harley!”

“I want to be able to get on my motorcycle and ride wherever I want to…be gone for a week…or no! A month! Without a concern for money…or any of my responsibilities”

This thought made me pause.

“I want freedom.”

“I want to respect the path that each and every person is on.”

“I don’t want anyone to suffer.”

“I want to know Love.”

I noticed then that I felt a shift in my heart. No longer was I dreaming of buttery cinnamon rolls, or fast motorcycles, no longer was I grasping at the air for things that are untouchable. Instead I was yearning for something within me. And as I did this, I could feel this deep desire well up, radiate through my body, release through my pours.

This feeling wasn’t fueled by needy wants, or those unfulfillable dreams that only lead to more desires. This was something fiery, laden with passion and heat. It was alive.

This feeling was the desire for connection, not on the material level, but on a deep soulful level. I wanted then a contact with something beyond the mundane…something so real, I physically ached for it. This was Love…right there in all its shining glory. Right there.

Turns out the one true thing I truly wished for had been with me all along.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want that morning bun…I really do! But it means that I understand those sort of things are fleeting. A morning bun leads to needing a cup of really good tea, which leads to wanting a brand new thermal insulated mug for my tea to go in. And on and on…

In truth, I suppose, it’s not the actual morning bun I want. Maybe it’s the pleasure, the joy, the happiness that that little pastry brings me.

One of the goals of this exercise is teach people that there is no sin in wanting good things. We are no less spiritual because we dream of winning the lottery or buying ourselves a sports car. Wants are wants. The first goal is to love who we are…and that includes what we yearn for.

Love the pleasure a cinnamon roll gives you. However don’t think that that cinnamon roll or that Lexus is going to be the answer to your prayers. They are moving targets that dissolve in your arms when you hold too hard.

Go ahead! Yearn, want, cry out for what you love. There is no shame in passion…just don’t forget to recognize its source is something deeper…something that’s been with you all along.

Morning buns, hot tubs, and motorcycles are all temporary.

Love is eternal.

Announing an Upcoming Book Release…

With the support of new and seasoned writers, a dedicated editor, graphic artist, and a really cool photographer–all volunteering their time for a good cause ….I’m proud to announce the soon to be released (May 25th!) Flagler County Anthology.

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If you live in Northeastern Florida, please join us for our big celebration.

For more information on our wonderful writing community check out the article in the Daytona News Journal

For specific questions email me at becky(at)pourchot.com.

About the book….

Magical coins, mermaids, vengeful lunch ladies, and more….

You’ll find it all in this whimsical collection of stories written by seasoned writers and beginners alike, all hailing from our rich beach side community in Flagler County, Florida.

Take a dive into these nighttime tales of wild oceans, lost lovers, and fanciful beasts, and support not only our vibrant community but also local charity Christmas Come True, which will be receiving 100% of the profits from the sale of this book to support local families in need.

Contributing authors include-

Gi Arena

Tim Baker

Gabrielle Brock

Juliet Bullen-Dunbar

Lorraine Corkran

Kevin Cox

Jorja DuPont Oliva

Mark E Hayes

Richard Heebner

Barbara Hury

David Karner

Becky Pourchot

Contributing Photographer-James Cacciatore

Cover Artist-Tina Blume-Compton

 

Shelter in the Rain

 

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I find the more I sit back and just let things happen, the more easily they come.  Part of this “sitting back” journey has involved finding like minded people who are willing to talk and unravel the simple mysteries of life with me.  Nothing brings me more pleasure than connecting with my wise and wonderful friends.

One conversation has stuck with me.  A dear friend of mine and I were talking about way in which people deal with their problems and as we talked this little story emerged.  I’ve embellished it since then, but hopefully the gist’s the same.

Imagine you’ve searched your whole life to find a perfect little house for yourself…and finally, there in front of you stands the idyllic cottage of your dreams. You’ve saved for years and now it is yours.

You move in. You paint the walls, arrange your furniture just so, hang your most favorite posters, and you look around and say “Well, look at what I have done. My life is now perfect.”

Your friends affirm this. They all come over and together marvel at your perfect little house and you are proud.

You tell yourself, “Everyone dreams of owning the perfect house and I have done it.”

But then one night after your friends have gone, you notice the garbage disposal isn’t working. The next day you see that the sink is clogged. A few nights later, you notice your bedroom light doesn’t turn on. You go into the basement and see that several wires have been chewed by a resident mouse.

And so you find your way to the bed that night and awkwardly settle yourself under the covers in the pitch dark. You lay there awake wondering if your perfect house maybe isn’t so perfect after all. Doubt sets in.

Eyes wide open, you hear outside as the rain outside starts to fall.  There’s a crack of thunder and you sit up in bed listening as the rain increases to a pounding drone.

Then you hear it.

Drip, drip, drip. A big drop of water lands on your blanket.

Then more.

Drip, drip, drip.

A series of droplets land right on your head and you think, “What am I going to do?”

 

Hopefully this scenario hasn’t happened to you…but we can all relate on some level. We’ve all thought we had our act together then realized things weren’t as good as we imagined…and depending on our makeup and our training, we react differently.

Some of us will look up and think immediately, “Oh woes me. Who can I find to save me?”

Others of us will merely roll over to the other side of the bed and grumble
“This is good enough.”

And others with think, “Huh. It looks like I’m going to be getting on that roof tomorrow and fixing this leak.”

I’ve tried on all these roles before. In the past I relied on everyone for everything…especially emotional matters. So, whenever I had a problem, I’d run to a therapist, then a friend, then another friend…I’d exhaust all my resources and my roof still wouldn’t be fixed!

I also know a lot of people who would choose scenario two. I’ve used this one as well. It’s the “Hear no evil, see no evil” option. Or in this case feel no evil. If I ignore the problem long enough it’ll go away, right? But you know deep inside that at some point the roof is going to break from neglect…everything collapses in on itself….or in the very least, you’re going to live your life in a water logged bedroom.

Then there’s solution three: Fix your own problems. When it comes to emotional, relational, and spiritual well being this is a good one to know.  Only we can repair what’s broken.

One thing I’ve noticed however (because I’m also one of these people) is that sometimes we get so fixated on our problems we become an obsessed fixer. Pretty soon we’re no longer living our lives because all we’re doing is making repairs. I see this a lot with people who are heavily into therapy as well as members of the new age community who are so focused on eating the right foods, saying the right affirmation, reading the right books, posting the right memes. For these people, their problem is no longer just the leaky roof but the fact that they’ve forgotten how to just sit back and be.

So, I add a forth scenario to the list. Bear with me on this one…

What if we aren’t broken at all?

What if this house of ours is just an illusion, something we’ve created because we we’re told that having a house is what people do. What if in fact we never needed a house at all?

Imagine this one-

So you’re in your bed, miserable, getting dripped on. Without thought, you jump out of bed. In only your pajamas you fling your front door open, step with you bare feet into the muddy grass and just let the rain fall on you.

And you get wet!

You let yourself feel the warm rain dripping down your back, kissing your skin and you feel more alive in that moment than you ever have before.

You look back to the house and note the deteriorating roof and the damaged soffits but it doesn’t bother you…not in the way it would have before. Because in your water soaked state, you see that maybe this house idea was all wrong. Maybe all those little problems we identified with so heavily aren’t such a big deal after all. And in that moment you know, those issues you face are only as real, as big, and as ugly as you choose to make them.

Let the rain come!

So, next time you’re out in the rain, pause before you raise that umbrella. Let the little droplets dance on your skin. Don’t be afraid to get soaked, for it is here, out in the open, exposed to the very elements that we usually run from, you are truly you.

In the end, maybe-just maybe-for the first time since you started searching for that house, you are finally home.

 

 

Little Did I Know

 

I’m riding my motorcycle down Old Dixie Highway. The trees are arching overhead; thirty feet high. Below, the woods are thick with palmettos, gnarly oaks, and scraggly pines. The air is cool as it courses past my cheeks, across my arms. I am alive with intensity.

I am a new rider. This is the second time that I’ve ridden the historic Ormond Scenic Loop and I’m all in, focused intently on keeping up with the bike in front of me, watching my acceleration, braking when needed, turning with the curves.

As I ride, a funny tune pops into my head “ram, ram, sita ram.” It’s Sanskrit…and actually not a song at all but a chant I had been listening to the previous week, with hopes of gaining a sense of balance and calm that I have sought for a very long time.

So, as I focus intently on keeping my bike rolling and this little mantra chimes in my head, I smile. Here I am a Jewish housewife riding a motorcycle, singing a Hindu chant as I ride to Daytona Beach for a bike rally. But as absurd this may seem, in this little moment it makes perfect sense. I’m exactly where I should be. And although not in my wildest dreams could I have ever pictured myself in this situation, I’m where I always wanted to be. Simply here.

Of course, my mind still wants to rattle on. It wants to think serious, deep thoughts about my “complicated” life. My emotions want to take me on unneeded trips, egging me on with all sorts of drama, but my heart, this little thing in the center of it all, is simply present…there with the road. In this moment as everything stills the only things I know are the actions of my feet…my hands….my heart.

TDA-Buddha-Bike-2013-04-02-600x453

I have recently taken up meditation as a daily practice…and I have to say as difficult as learning to ride a motorcycle has been for me, I think mediation is harder.

Just you try, telling this neurotic, obsessive Jewish girl to not think…to just sit and be. Ha! Preposterous.   But I’m doing it…with the help of my lovely motorcycle rides…and a dedication to end this cycle of suffering, to be the present for the people I love, and to bring joy to this world.

So, here I am, embarking on the hardest thing I have ever agreed to do… making a vow to myself to be with my heart…to no longer live in fear, greed and selfishness. I know I’m going to screw up. Of course I will! It’s part of the learning curve. There’s no exact road map for me to follow. I will make mistakes…just like I know I will probably spend many meditation sessions trying not to attach to the chatty noise in my head. I will still hurt and I will still fall, but I will try my best to do it with compassion, forgiveness and the heartfelt intent to make good in this world.

And so, I plan to write good stories, love my family, be good to my friends, ride my bike, sing goofy mantras, and mediate  all with the intent of doing what I discovered that day beneath the trees on my motorcycle…. Being here now with beauty, love, and joy.

There’s nowhere else to be.

Peace.

 

Love everyone, tell the truth…and bake cookies

cookie

Picture in your mind-India, 1970. Young Americans in the prime of life have arrived in droves to a foreign land with hopes of finding a guru who will give their lives meaning.

At one particular ashram is a guru named Neem Karoli Baba (also known as Maharaj-ji). One of the “kids” who stumbled onto him was Richard Alpert, a former Harvard professor who coincidentally had just been doing a lot of acid with colleague Timothy Leary. Well, for Richard (now Ram Dass) the acid wasn’t enough, which was why he came to India to find the real answers. And apparently he did.

So one day at the ashram Ram Dass was pissed off. Not only at everyone in the camp but also at himself. I can only imagine that living on a diet of bland lentil stew and being in close quarters with a bunch of hippies with hang ups was not an easy thing to do.

So all the students were sitting around their guru eating (lentil stew), when Ram Dass showed up late. He was still pissed. Maharaj-ji sensed his frustration and said kindly, “Ram Dass, come join us…remember love everyone and tell the truth.”

Well, I’m guessing Maharaj-ji’s words just pissed him off more. Not liking how he felt towards his friends, Ram Dass took a deep breath and began slicing an apple.

He knew serving food in anger was like feeding people poison, so he slowly went from person to person serving them apples, looking deeply in their eyes, until he felt love for each and every one of them. And it worked! After serving them all he felt a sense of calm and peace and was no longer angry.  Just handing out apple slices changed his whole state of mind!

Fast forward to 2016 (yesterday!). Now it’s me who’s pissed. Like Ram Dass…I was feeling mad at everyone, especially myself. My life seems to be riddled with heart wrenching conflict and I was having trouble seeing any way out.

That morning Polishing the Mirror by Ram Dass had arrived in the mail. As these things go I happened to open right to this story of the apples and the guru. The timing was perfect.

Inspired by the tale, I decided to bake. I made cookies, but not like I normally do. As I cracked each egg, scooped out that tiny spoonful of salt, then compacted the brown sugar deep into the measuring cup I breathed and smiled. As I divided the dough onto the cookie sheets I sung along to music, totally in the moment.

When the cookies were done, they looked perfect. I packed them up in little containers and delivered them to the important people in my life.

As I handed them out I allowed myself to feel unconditional love to the recipients—that same love that Ram Dass felt towards all his potentially annoying hippie friends.

Love everyone. Tell the truth.

I love this notion. I hope to devote my life to these words, but, I’m no fool. I promise you, some days it will not be easy, because people make me mad! They really do. No one sees things the way I do. Their goals, their motives seem diametrically opposed to mine..and quite frankly sometimes they’re just plain ridiculous!

But…but! I love them.  Because between the space of “you and I” is “US”.   And sure, it’s cheesy and hippie-dippy but WE are one. That gap we feel between us is only imaginary. It’s a construct we have all created. When we look deeply at one and other, down to the core, we see only love.

I can’t fix people…I can’t change them…and on some days I can’t even understand them, but I can love them and in that process of truly loving others, I am truly loving myself….and the world.  You can’t feel one without the other.

So maybe next time you’re making food for your friends or family or even just handing a beer to a friend, think of those words: “Love everyone. Tell the truth,” and see what happens.

Let me know what happens. I’d love to hear your stories.

Peace. Namaste.

Becky

P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day!!