How Can You Help & See You Soon

September 1!! Holy smokes, how did the summer go so quickly? I ask this question every year. It was a wonderful summer and I’m so grateful for each day. I’m not ready to let it go quite yet and plan to squeeze in a few more beach days if I can.

But it IS September and my month is jammin’. Bob and I have the honor of being the keynote speakers for One Spirit Seminary’s first Global Reunion Retreat and we will also be attending my own high school reunion a week later. My classes have already begun and the Jewish High Holidays are soon upon us. We’re jumping in with both feet and everything else. I will be taking a break from regular posting and will write when time permits.

In the meantime I thought I’d send some links to sites we’ve found to help our brothers and sisters in Texas as they recover from Hurricane Harvey. We are so heartened to see how people have galvanized to surround those in need with the knowledge that they are not alone and we are all ONE people. Our Common Ground Community has sent our accumulated annual donation to “Best Friends Animal Society”, a great organization, originally based in Utah, that works nationwide in outreach programs. They are doing great work on the ground in Houston, where they have taken over an empty furniture store to stage their rescues for medical care, reuniting with their families, or adoption. https://bestfriends.org/.

Also, Brene Brown posted that there is a desperate need for socks. She gave a link to buy them online via Amazon which will deliver them directly. You can go to her Facebook page or you can click one of the links below which is text from her post:

Here are three ways to give NEW (still in package) underwear. Please keep in mind that we need a variety of sizes for men, women, boys, and girls, including XXL.
1. https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2O89ZX93OGCSU/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_1
2. Collect new, packaged underwear and mail it to the address below. It’s our local Hillel and they are collecting for us. This is a really great neighborhood or school project. If you’re purchasing, we recommend Hanes or Fruit of the Loom. UFE doesn’t process or give out anything but underwear!
Undies for Everyone
1700 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77005
3. Give cash and Undies for Everyone will purchase wholesale: https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/uFpr61ITEItxPeN4Lo9zpA
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I went to the Amazon link last night and placed an order for socks for children and adult men. It was easy.

And locally there is a trucking company that will be driving a huge trailer of accumulated goods to Texas. We have local drop-off points here that will bring all donations to the Hermann Trucking Company in North Brunswick, NJ. There are probably many such efforts in communities all over the country. I’ll be shopping for goods tomorrow to bring to our nearby drop off point.
We are all so blessed to have this holiday weekend to be with our families celebrating in homes or on vacation. So many people who would have been doing the same are wondering if they will ever see their home again, if their families are safe, dry and warm, or even alive. We can all help in some way.

Have a safe Labor Day weekend and I will see you all soon.
More to come.

WEEKLY STRETCH – 6-17-16

IMG_3233(rev 0)

It’s been a tough week since my last posting. Hard to believe that so many people’s lives have been turned upside down and so many are grieving. And that’s just the people we’ve heard about in the media. Many others are suffering who don’t attract media attention. In fact, most do not. Moment to moment someone is hearing news of a loss, or an illness, or a sadness that has taken them from their normal state of being to a completely different state of being…in a microsecond things have changed and nothing will ever the the same. Life is like that. Change is like that. We don’t always know when change will happen, and we like to think we have some measure of control over how and when it occurs. It’s the times when we don’t…have any measure of control…that turn our lives upside down. And it is in those times that the truth of our humanness is most evident.

This week the best and the worst of humanness has been calling my attention. Once again, as we see the faces of young people gone too soon and the “evil” that is responsible for taking them, we have the opportunity to make choices. Sadly I’ve witnessed some choices that are unthinkable to me…laying blame on the blameless, name-calling, racism, homophobia, extremism, hate. And I’ve seen heroism, kindness, unity, compassion and love. In some cases these incidents have brought people together; in others they have torn people apart. The dichotomy is startling since my first thought is always “how can I help?” rather than “who can I blame?”. The images and the discussions were too much for me at one point and I had to remove myself for a while to re-group my own energy and stamina for holding a higher space. After a 24-hour news sabbatical I returned with the resolve to look at the week’s events as an opportunity to be reminded of Presence.

Staying present in the moment is the only way I personally can manage the media onslaught. Present in my life, present with hope; present to breath and heartbeat; present with compassion and healing; present with forgiveness and vision for something so much better. I cannot control what anyone else will do in a given situation. I cannot change anyone’s deeply held convictions no matter how contrary they are to my own. I cannot take away the suffering or the pain I see in the faces of grieving parents and loved ones. I can only be present to life and be in a place of gratitude for the days I am given to live it. And living it, to me, means being fully present for all of the myriad experiences it provides. I can make the choice to bear witness to it all, with my heart open, my arms open, my mind open, my eyes…open. I can make the choice to help or blame. I can make the choice for Love. And in my view, Love always wins.

And so this week our stretch is about Presence.

STRETCH: Practice being present to whatever comes. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that arise, and give yourself space to feel them deeply. Be compassionate with yourself; be gentle with yourself. Hold space for healing, hope, gratitude, equanimity, and peace.

It is my deepest wish and hope that one day we will know that those we love are safe. Until then, may we all hold a vision for something so much better.

WEEKLY STRETCH – 6-3-16

Helping Hands against blue sky

Today’s stretch is about support. I must be the luckiest person alive when it comes to support. I have a wonderful family, loyal and precious friends, and a husband and partner who loves me unconditionally and has supported every one of my dreams. That’s not to say that my life has always been easy, and when it hasn’t been support from those in my life has been there without question. This week I’ve seen how life can be when support is not in place. I’ve seen someone who has lost all of the support I take for granted (because it’s always been there). I’ve witnessed someone “hit bottom” as we call it…and with all of her dignity intact, ask for help and support to bring herself back up. And what has really blown me away is that in the asking the support showed up. I am so humbled by her story and how she has kept herself barely afloat in order to stay with her precious dogs and keep herself and them alive and safe. What comes to mind is the phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I”, since any one of us could find ourselves in the same situation at any time. I’m happy that we have been able to be a tiny part of that support, but what is the most humbling is how many people…strangers…who, when asked, simply showed up to help someone in need. I’m grateful to have witnessed this…and I am inspired in ways it would take too long to list here. So today’s stretch is inspired by a woman of great strength and dignity:

STRETCH: Notice where in your life you are supported. Ask yourself how you can offer support to someone or something and how that might look. Support could be a kind word, an offer to drive someone where they need to go, a donation of time, talent or treasure. And as a second stretch, ask for help when you need it. Help is available. You need only ask.

More to come.