Archive for April, 2015

Gifts Galore!

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

I have received so many wonderful gifts lately, from divinations that Danielle, my massage therapist gave me, to the gift of the massage itself that Wanda gave me, to the gift of life that I have every day.

At Jazz Fest, I ran into my friends Paula and Erin, and Paula hands me a wooden Ethiopian Star of David pendant, and says: “This belongs to you.” It brought tears to my eyes for all the reasons you could string together that are bringing up Tin in the Jewish faith to the book on Ethiopian Jews that I now keep on my coffee table.


I saw in the window at Swirl and a Frenchman bought me a glass of Pinot Noir from Sonoma County. It was the end of a long day of Jazz Fest and a much needed respite was required. Poof – it appeared.


In order to live in a world larger than the one he lives in, I have hoped that my son would be an international man, capable of being at home in many territories in language and body. He’s been speaking Croatian since he was a baby and now is adding Spanish to his capacity. Thank God his other parent is European.


I was reminded once again of what it is like to leave your care to someone you trust. My friend Brian was visiting from New York. I can count on one hand having had a man cook for me. It became this thing for a long time, my friends told me I had to get a man to cook a meal for me by a certain time. I met that deadline when a colleague prepared a picnic lunch in Shanghai. This last weekend Brian laid down a gourmet breakfast for me and his wife. True luxury.


My friend and I were at the grocery and we were leaving with our bags, when she noticed the peonies. “My favorite,” she declared. And they’re my favorite too, who could resist treating yourself to flowers and the season’s first peonies.


Soothsayers and Skywriters

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

My friend, Wanda, who was visiting from San Francisco left me $50 for my birthday. It was the exact amount that the guy who was supposed to fix my brakes ripped me off. It was the exact amount needed to get a massage from Danielle. So yesterday, three days before my actual birthday, I went to see my massage therapist/seer/diviner/soothsayer for a much needed deep tissue massage.

When I walked in the door, she asked me how I had been. I said interestingly enough I am in this peculiar place in my life where my spirit is soaring and yet the material world is crumbling. “Hmm,” she said. “As usual, you’ve come and I was just thinking about this very thing. When the spirit is high, less is needed.”

She got down to business and I tranced out, not sleeping, not waking, but grooving as she pushed out the toxins and cleared my pathways. Afterwards, she said, “Okay, Rachel, you can turn over. But I’m running out the door to write down everything because there is a lot.”

Danielle sat down across from me when she came back in and said, “There is so much going on. Tin was your first major transition but another one is coming up. That is why things are being cleared off your plate. And what you are getting ready to do is going to lay a foundation for your son. He is going to have questions, about who he is, who is family is, and who you are and what you are doing now is going to answer those questions for him. You need to keep doing what you are doing, you are on the right path. And there is a big, big love that awaits you, that will blow your mind.”

I left her studio and got in my car and drove back to the American Can, where I went down poolside to read over the manuscripts for the night’s workshop. I signed up for the Loyola Walker Percy Center writer’s workshop and have gotten through Chapter 3 of my book. My vision, as I stated to the deputy mayor the other day, is to write a book that would help white parents of white children teach their children through anti-racism tools.

I do know the reason that my working life has been so fragmented, so thinly strung together since I left OTR is because this is what I’m supposed to be doing. However, it has been a struggle financially to stay on this path because there are many times where it has been daunting and yet, as I told Danielle, I’ve never been more right in my self than I am now. As I sat there reading, a skywriter started writing messages in the sky.







I HEART Young Love

Monday, April 27th, 2015

I spent this Jazz Fest weekend with friends in town. A young couple whose wedding I missed last year because we were in Spain. Since I’m approaching my 56th birthday, I’ve forgotten what young love looks and feels like, but after spending a few days around it, I’m amazed at how much I remember about it. Young love holds so much promise.

Young love has all the time in the world to get a bigger place to live, to have babies, to build careers, to travel and most importantly, to be in love. Young love is fearless.

Young love can ignore faults because there is plenty of time to smooth them over, rub them out, ignore them or wait them out as they go away. Young love is blind, deaf and dumb.

Young love looks good on your skin, it smells good on your body, and it makes you always look as if you are about to go to a fabulous dinner party. Young love is vibrant.

Young love is contagious. After being around it for a while, you start thinking you want some of it, you believe you can find it again, and more importantly, you’re sure that young love is what you’re looking for but haven’t found yet. Young love is attractive.

Alas, young love is not for me. I will be turning 56 this week. Mind you, there’s lots of love in my future, but it won’t be young love. I don’t gaze in my crystal ball and imagine building a life with a partner (been there done that), wanting a larger home (sold it), and having babies (check). These were all of the longings of a younger version of myself.

I love young love and I loved having had it in surround sound this weekend. I loved being in the midst of its bright eyes and its bushy tail. I loved seeing hearts in their eyes. I loved hearing them sing their songs. I loved that their love spilled over into every creature that came in contact with them – stray cats, Stella, Heidi, taxi drivers, musicians, strangers, friends. I loved watching them be in love. It was a beautiful site to behold.





Your Every Day Miracles

Friday, April 24th, 2015

I went on Facebook the other day because I hadn’t been on in a while. My friend, Mudd, had posted an oracle reading from her friend at Cauldrons and Cupcakes. Once you choose your oracle you scroll down for its meaning.

I picked #1 based on this image by Jason D Page:


I chose the light spirals because it reminded me of life’s spiral path. Lately, I keep having these “I need this thing I don’t have” moments and then the appearance of this not too much later. Today, walking home from Jazz Fest, a torrent darkened the sky and I just stood face to light with the most dazzling lightning show. Wow. It scared me!

The lightning dance stayed etched across my sight for a while afterwards. What scares me is how the material world is becoming more ephemeral for me while the spiritual side is blowing up. I get why people believe and have faith and move through the spirit world the way they do – it’s where creativity is at – you let go of all the typical things that anchor people to this earth and suddenly, you’re like ping I’m floating here.

The other day I saw that I was low on pu ehr, and then found a brand new box camouflaged among other teas. I needed to put brake fluid in my truck and my neighbor took care of it. The school had a planting and playground build day last Saturday, where I DJ’d, and there was mulch galore left on the sidewalk that was going to be hauled away. There is nothing like scoring mulch.

Okay, so these are coincidences, yes, but if you are grateful for these times as if they were gifts or miracles, then you start looking at all of the things that could possibly happen and the fact that you are swinging from good rod to good rod. Reason enough to be thankful.

I met with someone about work yesterday morning, and she urged me to complete my book and right then a man from my writer’s workshop (Loyola’s Walker Percy Center class at the Healing Center) comes in the door. She said it’s an omen. You have to finish the book and I will do everything I can to lift it up. I laid out a promise that I’d complete it by end of June. A promise to her and to me.

And I came back to Oracle #1, which said a beautiful fresh energy is blowing in, and I feel it, but I’ve been wearing myself out and I’m running on empty. However, I’m happy as a tick on a pregnant dog because I get a week of repose with Jazz Fest as my backdrop, my birthday, some time alone scheduled in, and a massage (a gift from my friend who came to visit from San Francisco).

Rest then write.
The vision is getting closer.
What you seek is seeking you.
It’s all good.

Beginning again

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

I met with a study group for a while that looked at the idea of education as a force for social change. Every time we met, we started by lighting a candle in the middle of the table and reciting this verse. It always set the appropriate mood.

Verse for America

May our feeling penetrate
to the center of our hearts,
and seek in love to unite with those
who share our goals;
and with spirit beings who, full of grace,
look down upon on our earnest,
heartfelt striving,
strengthening us from realms of light
and illuminating our love.

~Rudolf Steiner

The Shut Out Weekend

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

You’ve heard of shut ins – those people who don’t leave the house because they can’t bear the world. Well, this weekend I’v been a shut out as in I’ve not let the world in here. It’s been an amazing respite from the usual go go go. My cold has almost subsided. I’ve kept myself from snacking by reading and reading and reading. I finished one good book and started another. Jim Grimsley’s How I Shed My Skin and Irritable Hearts by Mac McClelland.

I might have spent this reading time on my hammock near the bayou, but it has been raining all weekend, so most of my time has been spent indoors, on my couch, watching the grey skies from my windows.

The only people I’ve spent any time with this weekend was a couple I had dinner with on Friday night. I am getting to know them, they work in an area that I volunteer in. We ate dinner at Elizabeth’s in the Bywater and then ended at Morning Call in City Park for a nightcap of coffee and beignets. Ducks waddled across the patio as a saxophonist played and sang while we gazed at Pop’s Pavilion and got to know each other more. I left with an overwhelming feeling of love having watched these two look at each other across the table. It has been rare these days to see people with a history in love with each other. I regained some lost treasure by being in their company. You can see love in a person’s eyes – there is no mistaking it.

It helped me reframe my mood, which had been soured last week due to a cold, lack of progress in my work, and close encounters of the aggravating kind.

Sometimes you have to accentuate the positive like Dr. John sings about, and eliminate all the negative. Latch on to the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. In Between.


Rachel’s Search for Meaning

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

During Passover, we missed the rabbi’s seder because Tin got sick that day. At our seder the next night, Tin ended up being the only kid present even though I have been making the seder for him – for children. Some times life just doesn’t go the way you plan.

Our theme this year was to answer the question, What does it mean to be a slave? My piece was from Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning:

We now come to the third stage of a prisoner’s mental reactions: the psychology of the prisoner after his liberation. But prior to that we shall consider a question which the psychologist is asked frequently, especially when he has personal knowledge of these matters. What can you tell us about the psychological make-up of the camp guards? How is it possible that man of flesh and blood could treat others as so many prisoners say they have been treated? Having once heard these accounts and having come to believe that these things did happen, one is bound to ask how, psychologically, they could happen. To answer this question without going into great detail, a few things must be pointed out:

First, among the guards there were some sadists, sadists in the purest clinical sense.
Second, these sadists were always selected when a really severe detachment of guards was needed.

There was great joy at our work site when we had permission to warm ourselves for a few minutes (after two hours of work in the bitter frost) in front of a little stove which was fed with twigs and scraps of wood. But there were always some foremen who found a great pleasure in taking this comfort from us. How clearly their faces reflected this pleasure when they not only forbade us to stand there but turned over the stove and dumped its lovely fire into the snow! When the SS took a dislike to a person, there was always some special man in their ranks known to have a passion for, and to be highly specialized in, sadistic torture, to whom the unfortunate prisoner was sent.

Third, the feelings of the majority of the guards had been dulled by the number of years in which, in ever increasing doses, they had witnessed the brutal methods of the camp. These morally and mentally hardened men at least refused to take active part in sadistic measures. But they did not prevent others from carrying them out.

Fourth, it must be stated that even among the guards there were some who took pity on us. I shall only mention the commander of the camp from which I was liberated. It was found after the liberation – only the camp doctor, a prisoner himself, had known of it previously – that this man had paid no small sum of money from his own pocket in order to purchase medicines for his prisoners from the nearest market town. But the senior camp warden, a prisoner himself, was harder than any of the SS guards. He beat the other prisoners at every slightest opportunity, while the camp commander, to my knowledge, never once lifted his hand against any of us.

It is apparent that the mere knowledge that a man was either a camp guard or a prisoner tells us almost nothing. Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn. The boundaries between groups overlapped and we must not try to simplify matters by saying that these men were angels and those were devils. Certainly, it was a considerable achievement for a guard or foreman to be kind to the prisoners in spite of all the camp’s influences, and, on the other hand, the baseness of a prisoner who treated his own companions badly was exceptionally contemptible. Obviously the prisoners found the lack of character in such men especially upsetting, while they were profoundly moved by the smallest kindness received from any of the guards. I remember how one day a foreman secretly gave me a piece of bread which I knew he must have saved from his breakfast ration. It was far more than the small piece of bread which moved me to tears at that time. It was the human “something” which this man also gave to me – the word and look which accompanied the gift.

From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in the world, but only these two – the “race” of the decent man, and the “race” of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of “pure race” – and therefore one occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards.

This week, it is I who am sick – missing several events that were on the calendar and planned a while ago. During this period of feeling crummy and agitation with work piling up, I’ve found myself pushed to the point of rage twice. The second incident happened when a friend recommended a guy to fix my brakes, the guy came, said he needed $50 to look at the brakes and it would be put towards the repair, then he left and later text and said he wasn’t going to do the work. He left with my lawn mowing money (times two) – meaningful to me because now I can’t have my lawn mowed this whole month. This entire event escalated into a Battle Royale waged within the narrow confines of cell phones = mine, his, my friend who recommended him, my friends who berated him. When I was done, it was done. The rage turned into a waste of my and everyone’s time because I can’t exact revenge on someone who cheats me – I can only make peace with my loss.

The first incident happened a week ago and then again the following week, where someone began barking orders at me and to the group I was in and it put me into my “seeing red, I’m a bull in a china closet” mode. I don’t like to be talked down to, I don’t like to be ordered around, and I don’t like someone inflicting their rules on me. I was becoming more infuriated by this even today, when I realized that the damage was occurring within me, to me and it wasn’t about me. Why am I being disrupted by someone else’s issues?

Today, I am recovering from all of it. I’m nursing the rest of the cold. I’ve cleaned Tin’s bookshelves and replaced all of his books, and vacuumed under his bed. The seders went by in a blur – first missing the rabbi’s seder, the second in my frenzy to get everything just so for our house. My friends came and went and I barely had time to acknowledge. I ate my way into a three-day sugar rush of Passover treats that made me fall down to earth with a crash and bang and then I caught Tin’s cold.

The flash points of anger have been out of the ordinary – coming from a place inside of me that I want to witness but not hold onto. Of course, I don’t want to be cheated nor allow a person be patronizing to me, but my reaction to each was to join in rather than hold my center.

Today in my stillness, I told myself this isn’t where I want to be.

My friend, Michelle, who owns Swan River – the yoga studio two blocks away from my house – posted something on fleek today. She is teaching a study group on Bhagavad Gita and writes:

Here is one of my favorite sutras on Dharma that we discussed… BG 3:35…
“It is better to strive in ones own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s one dharma, but competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity. Imitation of another dharma may be dangerous or mean death. Not living one’s dharma may mean death also.”

Yet another invitation to be honest, transparent, keep our eyes on our own paper, access our inner teacher, inspire others to do the same & live our truth. How wonderful!