I’ve found that simple things are increasing in pleasure for me. I’ve spent many years “doing”. What this looked like for me was a lot of travel, study, achieving this and that certification. Today I’ve found the peace of mind to be still. To stroll my beautiful gardens. To connect with my husband in a way I was not able to in the past. It also looks like a clear distinction between what is and is not my responsibility in this world. For me this opens the door for being really comfortable in my own skin no matter what is happening outside of me. And if I am troubled with things outside I have the tools to bring it back to self, reflect, learn, and move on lighter and happier than when I began.
You are an eclectic blend of left brain, linear logical engineer and right brain, creative healer and spiritual teacher. How do you balance those seemingly disparate worlds?
My spiritual pursuits have made me a better engineer and my engineering mind has helped keep me grounded and highly functioning. The balance actually comes naturally. It’s simply how I’m wired. I joke about being a “recovering engineer” having spent the last 10 years cultivating non-linear abilities. I have had fears come up that as I progress in The Work I’ll lose some of my analytical abilities. The opposite has happened. What I notice is that I operate more intuitively in all areas of my life, judge myself less, and in general am more productive and have more fun.
How did The Work of Byron Katie find you?
A friend mentioned the book “Loving What Is” and I resonated with the title and knew I needed to get the book. I quickly began applying the process, taking pen to paper and asking myself the 4 questions. After a year or so I was searching for a retreat on relationships and I found Byron Katie was teaching in Washington DC. I’ll never forget the sense of excitement I had before she arrived on stage. I think a part of me knew this was going to be big. I attended my first school for The Work shortly after (spring 2007), and spent the next 4 years sitting with Katie as much as I possibly could.
In simple terms, how would you describe it?
The work is a simple process of identifying and questioning your stressful beliefs. All that is required is an open mind.
Why is the inquiry so powerful?
In my experience it corrects my misperceptions and allows me to see a kinder world. It opens the door to inform me of something other than what I though was there. There is a quote from A Course in Miracles that says: “Forgiveness is realizing what you thought happened didn’t”. I never understood this until practicing The Work for a time. Now I know it to be true.
What do you think has us resisting ‘what is’?
Our tightly held beliefs and unwillingness to open to other truths.
What life changes have you witnessed for yourself and others?
In a word: Peace. It’s then end of war within myself and as a result the end of war in my world.
www.thework.com The Work of Byron Katie
To learn about upcoming events for The Work of Byron Katie in the Philadelphia area at the Temenos Retreat Center: http://www.temenosretreat.org/programs.html
I found this quote by author and speaker Debbie Ford and it sparked a conversation in my head, into which I would like to invite you: “Look to the outer tasks that you want to accomplish this year and ask yourself, “What kind of person could easily accomplish this? What qualities would they possess?”
My response to Debbie’s query: “One with imagination, creativity, stick-to-it-ive-ness, courage to take leaps of faith each day, a certainty that she is on the right path, a willingness to ask for, receive and offer mutual support and encouragement and gratitude for her life.”
I am a cosummate list maker…gotta be, since there are so many tasks to accomplish in my busy-buzzy day with the various hats I wear. In any given 24 hour period, I serve in a psychiatric hospital as a social worker; I am a journalist with deadlines to meet, a motivational speaker with gigs to schedule and promote, an author, with a book to support, a minister with weddings to write and officiate, a mother with an adult son who still needs ‘momming’ at times, a health conscious 53 year old who makes getting to the gym for my regular playouts a priority, a sister and aunt who is now the ‘family matriarch’ since my mom passed in 2010, a householder with rooms to clean, laundry and dishes to wash, grocery shopping to do, bills to pay, a friend with kindred spirits with whom I connect….a lover of life in all fullness. I have many irons in the fire, cakes in the oven, books in my mind, creative projects blooming that I sometimes wonder how I keep my head attached to my shoulders and remember my own name and address and where I parked the Jeep(: Although I prefer to refrain from programming the effects of aging, in the past few years, words have escaped my grasp from time to time and things I would have instantly recalled, such as names, song lyrics and where I met someone, have dwindled into the recesses of my full to overflowing mental hard drive.
Having these priorities keeps me on track and yes, there are times when things slip through the cracks. As I look at Debbie’s quote again…the word ‘easily’ leaps out at me. For so long, I had the erroneous belief that things had to be challenging and so I unconsciouly set them up that way. As a Type A, co-dependent, over-achiever, I had thought that putting ‘effort’ into activities somehow made them more fulfilling once accomplished. These days, I go into most endeavors with a get it done mentality, tinged with magic and sparkled with faerie dust so as to make them funner and flowing with grace. I love checking off items from my ever growing list of wonders. When I approach anything with a joyful heart, all manner of serendipity shows up to respond to my invitation to the Universe.
Take a good look at the man or woman in the mirror and smile at the miracle you are.
http://youtu.be/-A9j48ZPKMA Man in The Mirror written and sung by Siedah Garrett and the Agape Choir
“We’re all just walking each other home.”-Ram Dass
On March 27, 1924 a child was born to Henrietta and Edward Hirsch. Her name was Selma Rose and in the midst of a large extended family, which included an adoring older brother Jim, as well as 12 aunts and uncles on her mother’s side alone, she thrived. She used to tell me that she was shy around new people because as a child, her playmates were mostly my uncle and her many cousins. They all lived within a a few block radius in Philadelphia and would spend many summers at the Jersey shore in a rented house where marathon Monopoly games would ensue. My mother was a devoted daughter who, after her own father died when she was 18, lived together with my grandmother until her death right after my 4th birthday. When my parents married in 1956, my dad moved into the house in which my mother had been raised. In 1961, a year and a half after I was born in 1958, the four of us moved to the New Jersey suburb of Willingboro. My father used to say “I didn’t move in with them, she didn’t move in with us, we all lived together.” They had an atypical in-law relationship. She was involved, but but not invasive, offering mother love, but not smother love. When she passed, she left a space, but not a gaping hole. My parents held her in memory and would invoke her name and example, as if this ‘third parent’ was still a presence in many ways. As my mother aged, I saw more of my grandmother in her and would marvel at some of the stories she shared about my “Giggie” (since I couldn’t pronounce grandma, or anything sounding remotely like it and the name stuck:). Even the neighborhood kids referred to her that way. The first time I visited my mother in the hospital less than a year before she died, I saw her as a vision of my grandmother lying in the bed, with oxygen and all the healing accoutrement surrounding her.
I have precious memories of my second day of kindergarten, when my mother walked me almost all of the way there. It was only four blocks from 123 Pheasant Lane to the Pennypacker Park Elementary School and on the first day, she accompanied me door to door. On day two, she walked me to the end of the street, or so I thought. Later, she told me that she stayed far enough behind, so that I didn’t see that she really followed me to the school, so I would feel like a ‘big kid’ and she could still be sure that I arrived safely. On day three, I was flying solo! And so it was throughout my life. She remained close enough for support if need be and yet, unobtrusive and non-interfering. Yes, she kvelled (Yiddish for bursting with pride) at the successes of my sister Jan and me and yet, didn’t take credit for them. She and my dad encouraged excellence in all we did, but didn’t push. We were both competitive swimmers and she always told us that once it stopped being fun, we weren’t going to do it anymore. It never stopped being fun and I was on a team from ages 11-18 and then coached for three summers that followed.
She encouraged me to follow my dreams, and in many ways, helped to shape the creative aspirations of the woman whose words you are now reading. She fed us books as if they were just as vital a form of nourishment as food, affection, praise and guidance. We were surrounded by word-wisdom and the library felt like a toy store to me, a magical place where a library card was a key to a treasure trove. She would take us there each week for story hour and to bring home stacks of books that I zipped through, hungry for more. She would read to us and we to her.
In the last few months of her life, I once again resumed that ritual, except I was the one entertaining her by reading cards and letters friends and family sent to her, as well as chapters from my then-book-in-process. She did alot of kvelling then and reminded me that she would have enjoyed them even if she wasn’t my mother. That was high praise for sure. She loved to sing and her favorite which became mine was Nature Boy, sung by Nat King Cole. In the last few years of her earthly incarnation, we would often sing it to each other.
Tomorrow, as I celebrate her 88th birthday…not sure exactly how I will honor her memory, I am beyond grateful to have been born to her and my father (pictured on their dream trip to Israel). Recently my son Adam and I watched family videos from my childhood and I marveled at how young and beautiful she had been and in more recent images, how she had aged well and was lovely still. Adam had shot a mini-video of her wheeling her way on her walker through the hallway in her Ft. Lauderdale condo the summer before her passing. It is the only recording I have of her voice and as he saw what I was typing, he encouraged me to watch it again. It took less than a minute, but it was just enough to bring on a tearful trickle and wistful smile. Although I was not with her when she passed, on November 26, 2010, I felt that, just as she had walked me to school, I was indeed walking her Home, watching from a few steps behind.
Happy Birthday, Mama-cakes!
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.”
http://youtu.be/-_m0etqUNg0 Nature Boy