As we move into the holiday season, once again I’ve decided rather than dread the darkness of winter I will invite it into my life as I would an old friend. While this time of year can feel heavy and dank, I have noticed that it is also embedded with tremendous opportunity. The most wonderous thing about it, especially these weeks leading up to the Solstice, is that the veil between worlds is thin. In my imagination I see it as a beautiful silvery mist that undulates between us and what lies beyond. If I listen deeply I can hear the voices of the ancestors and the spirits of those across the mist, and I’m often given precious guidance and always receive great love during these moments.

I love giving gifts and this season is laden with the opportunity to express love and appreciation in this way. I spend a lot of energy planning gift-giving. Last year I made many of them in the kitchen. It was messy but fun, and I was able to infuse love into each concoction. My gift-giving is always purposeful, so I’ve spent a lot of time making a list and checking it twice – three times – changing it – checking again and so forth.  I’ve loved the whole online shopping thing, though I can see how easily one can become “drunk with power” with a laptop, a keyboard and a credit card!  As a Leo that’s my kind of fun. A little scary, but a tons ‘o fun.

The impulse to slow down, be silent, and go within is probably running even with the gift-giving opportunity. I have a busy life, juggling many different pursuits. And while the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years have been frenetic in the past, I finally realize that I don’t thrive in “frantic” and have adjusted my pace to reflect that truth. As an empath and a highly-sensitive person (HSP) this means that all the noise, lights, and pumped up energy can be detrimental to my sense of well-being. I’ve learned to manage my exposure by making conscious choices, like shopping online rather than hitting the mall with a gazillion shoppers and listening to the same Christmas songs blaring in my ears for hours and hours. (Don’t you feel sorry for the sales people?) I love stillness and the winter months have asked me to be still. So, I get still. I wrap myself in my cozy blanket and sip a warm drink or eat some fresh hearty soup. I may draw or paint, meditate or doze, read or watch a great movie. And maybe I’ll just sit and be still, watching rain or snow, stroking Sophie and allowing my mind to be the wandering fool that it is. Allowing these winter stillness moments gives me energy for my winter days activities.  It also allows me space and time to dream and contemplate. My thoughts often go to the people in my life and the blessings they bring. My primary spiritual practice is gratitude, and in the winter I find that practice enhanced. Perhaps it’s the extra space allotted for stillness.

I am also finding myself awakening earlier and earlier. Perhaps it’s the desire for more light, except I’m often out of bed before the sun. The early morning hours are my favorite. In these hours I feel closest to my parents. In these hours I also hear the heartbeat of the planet and can feel into the essence of what I call God. During this time I find I can open my heart and mind more fully to hear what the Universe wants me to know. And while I feel that every moment of every hour is holy, these hours feel infused with “extra”. I find peace.

As you move through the days ahead my prayer is that you find time to nurture yourself, to go within, to find your way to stillness and peace.

Until next time.

STRETCH:  As you move through the holiday season, consciously schedule time – even if it’s only five minutes or whatever is realistic in your life – to stop, breathe, be still and release. Allow yourself to relax the muscles in your face, the ones that become tense as you focus on all you need to do.  Notice where tension resides in your body and with each breath consciously release it, even if only for these moments. Allow your mouth to curl up into a gentle smile. This gesture relaxes the muscles of the face – and a smile is always better than a frown.  Do this as often as you can.   It will make a difference.


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.

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.
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:
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.