Love, Light and Coffee Blog

New beginnings

     I am moved to greet this season with hopefully post-worthy thoughts and inspirations. I was so taken by this mezuzah I found, that I switched out my original to another doorpost. The tradition of marking the entrances of home with a reminder of the spirit of divine connection and protection, is one I have always embraced. As is the tradition of celebrating this time of year the Judaic tradition considers the anniversary of the creation of the World, a time for the deepest reflection and communion with ones God. Although the calendar date varies each year with the phases of the moon that structure the Jewish calendar, it is always within a month or so of the autumn season when academic calendars and seasonal changes converge.

For the beginning of this new year, and the last part of the Gregorian year 2018, I will continue to prepare for a month long immersion course in Shamanic studies.  As the feather is a beautiful and familiar artifact or talisman of this inquiry, I thought it was  a lovely container and vehicle for the ancient scroll of hebrew writing depicting the prayers one reaches for at the entrance to their home. I don’t know yet how this course of study will impact the next phase of my life, yet I am committed to using this time to deepen my desire and intention to align my purpose in life with the actions I take. I have always been interested in healing and the neuroscience of enlightenment and this course is designed to expand my knowledge and awareness of these mystical elements of life that I crave a higher understanding of and engagement with.

With a few exceptions, I have put my musical endeavors on hold, and plan to return with a renewed vision of how to best share my love of creating music. I hope to complete publication of my book, “Something to Sing About” as a working autobiography (a phrase borrowed from the brilliant Deborah Levy’s, The Cost of Living) deepened by my course excursion. With further study and work I hope that the book will be an offering of inspiration, healing and soul work treasures, with more than a few good stories to tell.

As so many things crumble around us, may all new beginnings fill us with hope and purpose and the sweet joy of life.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eulogy for Abraham

Blogging as a public journal is a way to help process many things and grief is no exception. Whenever Abraham ventured out for feline adventures, my heart would grip in fear of losing him. Now my fears have been faced and realized.

 

18 years ago he was part of a pair of kittens I had gotten for my daughter to help ease the transition of divorce and a new home with the experience of having pets as part of the family. I had done it many times before, but as life’s twists and turns would have it, this was the longest journey I would share with an animal. His sister Sarah became too ill last year to survive my move, which left Abe to accompany me on the journey to my new home and life chapter. (my daughter liked the idea of naming them after Old Testament hero and heroine). He handled it well despite my concerns for the old guy, and after two hours in the new place he acclimated to the repositioned furniture and purred contentedly on my familiar bed and linen. He became more connected to me, following me around the house, staring when I went through the familiar motions of leaving him whether for an evening out or a weekend away. His need for my presence more closely resembled mine for his and the simple comfort of each other’s presence became profoundly lovely as I licked my wounds as gingerly as he licked his paws ……

 

Maybe only feline aficionados will appreciate his qualities, but I found it endearing and frankly adorable the way his dry food bowl was often topped with hair ties and q-tips. To this day I’d swear the mouse he placed on the bowl one day, as carefully as an anchovy on a salad was a statement. Of what I mused was his way of showing me how valuable he was as the warm furniture of his life started disappearing. Or the time I thought he’d disappeared in the woods of Lyme one winter, when he managed to hibernate quietly in the drawer of a coffee table for well over 2 days. In this last year he still ran excitedly around the house when I’d return from a grocery trip or a day away and jumped up whenever I engaged in his favorite activities involving relative stillness. He’d become a chin rest as he saw me settle to work on my laptop, a lover to cuddle with under the bedside reading lamp, an adjunct to coffee in the morning as he strolled with me to the kitchen for our morning routine of nourishment to begin the day. A willing participant as soon as he heard the timer of the sauna I inherited in my new house, purring at my wet head, delighting in the heat, able to withstand it longer than I ever could, despite his rich fur coat.

 

Abraham was going out less from our new home and in his new role as main man in my life. When he slipped away into a light and then heavy rain, my grip of fear was mild as he always came back after shorter sojourns. This time I distractedly worried and looked and called as I tried to maintain some equilibrium with my dear friends who visited this past weekend. I heard myself call ” AAAAbrahaaam” familiarly conscious of the tone and trill of my voice that over the years he would always and eventually run to with his sweet eagerness.

 

My neighbors called me in the early evening when I went out trying to distract myself from the futility of looking for him when he wasn’t ready to return, and I was gripped with anxious hope when they said they found him in a tree. How could he not be okay if he was in a tree, I thought excitedly. I raced home and went to the tree by the neighbor only two doors down to find his body frozen mid-climb with his head wedged in the tree’s crease. The sight of his obviously dead body was horrible and I was wracked with sobs to see my beloved companion in that frozen position. Difficult to say if he had suffered so I tried not to think about what that last dash up the tree was like. A protectively barking dog lived there and I imagined him being on his way back home and taken by surprise and perhaps relatively unaccustomed to climbing at his age.

 

One neighbor handed me a towel while the other set up a ladder and I trembled at the task of lifting him out. As we do, I tried to think of the peace rather than whatever anguish preceded it, and carried his suddenly heavy body home where we buried him in a grave as deep as middle aged women filled with grief on a brutally hot and humid night could manage.

 

I will say that he went out of this world as a true cat, literally mid-treeclimb. He lived a full life with me as his human mom trying to balance his protected life with his bouts of adventure. I now begin a familiar process of grieving. Spent a good part of the day cleaning out food and litter, brushes, mats, all the while noticing all the ways his presence was part of the fabric of my life, my thoughts, feelings and considerations. Grief unwinds as a sensation, unwelcome but achingly familiar and part of the ever changing world that must include our losses.

 

Rest in peace in that mysterious realm of the beloveds we bury, as after 18 years with this guy, I have to believe the spirit of animals merges with that of their human counterparts.

 

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A “Love of Learning” Angel

This week my daughter’s thesis was officially published, as first author in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. https://rdcu.be/2rNp. It’s a huge achievement, a culmination of the most ardent efforts and eschewing of typical lifestyle I have ever seen or could have ever imagined. I recognize her will and discipline from strains of my own, but I dropped out of the study of psychology when the third or fourth graduate course I took, Statistics, helped me realize my left brain was crying out for rescue and my right brain ran over it and quit the first of several things in my life I painfully learned to chalk up for experience.

So I can more than appreciate the tenacity behind this accomplishment. My daughter will often express her gratitude for the model of following your heart’s purpose, something I expressed in my first CD, A Spirited Mother. I am beginning to appreciate that those seeds planted played only a very small part of what my daughter is capable of. We did spend a lot of time with my nephew who is on the spectrum, and our family’s devotion to his well being has been heartening. Today I celebrate the confluence of these experiences mixed with my daughter’s formidible drive, focused and fierce intelligence, and her beautifully simple love of learning.

The “Love of Learning” angel pictured helps make a point I’d like to bring out and ties some things together. As not only do I celebrate this huge milestone, I see an opportunity to share an insight about the angel.You see it was a recent gift from a sister by choice, whose father is a pure embodiment of love, the last remaining of our parents who became lifelong buddies when my dad and he were military policemen in the Korean War. She had never met my daughter before, partially because the commitment Melody has made to herself and her career has kept her from many if not most family gatherings. At the opportunity to finally meet her, this woman chose a gift that captured what she felt was Melody’s essence as she came to understand her through me.

This angel represents the best and brightest parts of my daughter and captures the sweetest most tender part of her, the part I’ve tried to protect and find places for her to realize. It was sometimes disguised as, shall we say, other things, yet it was unmistakable that her passion for learning came from a deeper source than I was aware of. She was mocked in elementary school for her drive that even brought with it strains of anti-semitism when we first moved to the Connecticut shoreline. Her hunger for learning carried us through the journey of finding the right places for her to thrive, and ultimately she found her educational homes with an intuition that seemed to be led by an angelic love of learning. I had my heart set on other colleges, but her laser sharp drive cut through any notions I had of what I thought was best for her.

So the angel gift from my recent houseguests held special meaning on many levels. Here is an opportunity to look more deeply at the people I broke bread with, shared our broken hearts with when we buried our beloved friends and parents together, and grown to love dearly. If I am truly to embrace the spirit of the love of learning, then I must bore into the realization that these loved ones are politically conservative and see the world through a lens and prism that I and many who share my liberal leanings, simply do not understand. Especially now as I am shaking in my boots at the prospect of a Supreme Court perilously close to shifting some deeply important policies that have taken the blood and guts of our culture by storm.

I implored myself to delve to find the common threads below the surface. We spoke of faith and what it means outside of politics, often in the context of the beauty and mystery of nature and the love that sustains more than divides. I dove deeply into my own love of learning to understand how it could be that we would be together by choice, when many liberals would put a hand up against the idea.

So the question I raise is how to build the bridges? How do we begin to heal the deeper wounds of our divided country and our world. As a writer, artist, and a mother bursting with pride, I begin to look at how we can do this, and for now I have set out to let the dialogue begin. In celebrating that my daughter Melody, the most beautiful song I’ve had a hand in creating, is on her way to solving the autism puzzle, I have come to believe that if she can accomplish this from her natural love of learning, then anything is possible if we look at it from the source of all there is … love.

In honor of my daughter’s remarkable achievement, let this be a gentle call to action to pierce the divisive walls with compassion and the will to build on common ground. The “Love of Learning” angel is rooting for us.

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New song released in time for CMV Awareness Month and CDC’s weekly disease

 

As a songwriter, I was inspired to capture the voice of my friend Lisa Saunders whose experience impacted her to such an extent that sharing it became a natural part of her evolution and becoming. Instead of allowing it to level her, she rose to meet it and bore into the need to understand how it is that she contracted a virus that had she known how to prevent, she would not have given birth to a virtually helpless child that died from her last seizure at age 16. Instead of slipping into the role of victim for this horrendous fate, she continues to find ways to celebrate and honor her daughter.

Lisa  has galvanized a movement to enact legislation to compel childcare providers to be informed of and screened for the risk factors that she was so innocently and unnecessarily exposed to. She wants to shout to the world how she wishes she had known that as a mother of a toddler and caretaker of young children, she was at the highest risk for contracting CMV (cytomegalovirus), the #1 birth defects virus more common than fetal alcohol syndrome, with effects similar to that of the now notorious Zika. Had she known that there were extra yet simple precautions to take, things would have been, at the risk of understatement, quite different.

The song will be featured on WNTH News 8 next week and used to help carry the story, the message and the heart of the experience and the need to make changes. To be a part of this woman’s mission is an honor…

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Some singing this spring ….

For those who have been asking where and when I’ll be singing, I’ve got some updates. As the dust settles from my move I’ve been dusting off my songs and decided to showcase some of the work I’ve done to help others. Originally “Something to Sing About” was planned to help the platform for CMV awareness through my new song “Had I Known”.  This is scheduled as an event on Wednesday May 9 at the Mystic/Noank Library.  It features not only Lisa Saunders, local author and CMV awareness activist, but I’m happy to announce that Cindy Sheridan Murphy will also be there to share her story of how the song and book “Each Moment We’re Alive” morphed into her non profit organization to support cancer survivors and their loved ones. It’s scheduled for 3:30 PM and I plan to play other songs and share the stories behind the songs for adoption, autism, Habitat for Humanity, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, child abuse, post 9/11, and some of the more fun ones as well. In honor of Mother’s Day I plan to sing “Sweetest Heart”, celebrating my beloved Mom who I lost almost 5 years ago. I hope to mix in some of the fun ones like my Connecticut Song from the perspective of a transplanted New Yorker and a favorite of many, “Conscious Cowboy”. Saturday May 12, I’ll be launching the March of Dimes walk by singing the National Anthem. Another new development is that Lori Diamond and Fred Abatelli will be joining me to perform for an event sponsored by Each Moment We’re Alive in West Springfield on June 24. Their music is simply some of the most beautiful around and I am delighted to be partnering with them again. Any opportunity to hear them is a treat.  Hope to see some old and new friends soon … In springtime especially, there’s always something to sing about ….

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Memorializing Earth Day

April 22, 2007 the day My Dad returned to the Earth he loved and revered for all its mysterious ways, the ways he learned to build and create and connect in the largest ways possible … remembering him with love ….

 

 

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Something to Sing About

Inspiration is such an amazing phenomenon. Thinking back to when I first met my friend Lisa, it’s hard to imagine her not having brought her story of CMV into the conversation. It’s not so much that it defines her, as how the experience impacted her to such an extent that sharing it became a natural part of her evolution and becoming. Instead of allowing it to level her, she rose to meet it and bore into the need to understand how it is that she contracted a virus that had she known how to prevent, she would not have given birth to a virtually helpless child that died from her last seizure at age 16. Instead of slipping into the role of victim for this horrendous fate, she continues to find ways to celebrate and honor her daughter.

Lisa Saunders has galvanized a movement to enact legislation to compel childcare providers to be informed of and screened for the risk factors that she was so innocently and unnecessarily exposed to. She wants to shout to the world how she wishes she had known that as a mother of a toddler and caretaker of young children, she was at the highest risk for contracting CMV (cytomegalovirus), the #1 birth defects virus more common than fetal alcohol syndrome, with effects similar to that of the now notorious Zika. Had she known that there were extra yet simple precautions to take, things would have been, at the risk of understatement, quite different.

My affection for Lisa grew with my admiration, and largely because of it. She has published over ten books, created the Lisa Saunders Show (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW5C1TZ2CI0) as a vehicle to support local causes, and began a Nice Girl Club to tap into the joy and resource of a community of like-minded women for which the only actual requirement is to be, well, “nice.” To recycle her experience into one of a mission to educate and help prevent this happening to others, well I for one was compelled to capture it.

I write songs from that precious heart space so that each new song becomes a gift to behold and share. My art form and passion is to take an experience and weave it into lyrics and melody to help carry a sentiment or message in a way that articles and talks alone cannot. So when I sat down at my piano I was delighted that what came through was “Had I Known (About CMV) ”, a song for Lisa’s daughter Elizabeth. Sad of course, yet hopeful. Hopeful in the way that life etches us to pave the way for others to improve our humanity, and bring about the changes that our personal experience is most capable of evoking.

My enthusiasm for this creation has become contagious. Together with some of the most magnificent musicians I know volunteering their talents to record this song, we are giving it wings to shine as what I like to think of as a musical beacon. Lisa’s mom was moved to donate funds to defray the cost of the recording process and we’re well on our way to having a platform to share the song in time for CMV Awareness month in June. May 9, Lisa will join me for a presentation of “Something to Sing About”, the title of my memoir in process and a presentation of songs written from various sources of inspiration. Lisa will be sharing the story behind her new book “Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV,” and I will share other songs that give meaning to having something to sing about.

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New Life!

Speaking of miracles …. over 30 years ago I marveled over the birth of this baby’s mom, my first niece.  So in a world of turmoil, we make room for the amazing grace of new life, the hope and purity and innocence that defies the threats of destruction, the audacious attempts at world dominance …. for a moment in time we can stop and appreciate the sheer wonder of what Wayne Dyer used to say, “a simple drop of protoplasm” …. As we say in the old country, mazel tov to all who celebrate her entry to this world, and the courage to believe in the growth of humanity and all that we can hope for wrapped in a bundle of love, for in love we sow the seeds of change and tranquility ….

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Happy Birthday Melody and Martin !!

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I STILL HAVE A DREAM” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. …. Each year I come to appreciate more fully how profoundly magnificent Dr. King was. And what a gift it is to celebrate the birth of my child and my motherhood journey on the same day we remember this remarkable man. In his honor I humbly invoke so many of his prolific prayers.  I’d like to add the wish that my daughter reach her personal dream of being part of the team to solve the proverbial autism puzzle. And that we may collectively work toward Martin’s vision for humanity ~ that we “come to see a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.” And a special call to loved ones ~ that we will come to see with compassion, that that which might look like indifference from some who are intensely devoted to attaining a goal, is the best way they know how to reach for a seemingly impossible dream ….

 

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On the doorpost of a new year ….

I wanted to mark the beginning of the new year with a ritual to honor my new home with an ancient tradition of affixing a mezuzah to the doorpost.  I’m grateful to the old and new friends and neighbors who were able to join me in welcoming the new year and my new dwelling.  As I turn the proverbial page and start a new chapter in my life, I am deeply grateful to feel grounded in a home surrounded by beauty and peace.  I’ve worked so hard to get to this place, and I am starting to exhale and form my next steps. Thank you to all who have been patient and supportive during this challenging transition.  I share here the ritual with thanks to Rabbi Rayzl for so many of the words and blessings …

As I affix this mezuzah I also affix and affirm a new life in a new home. May it always be firmly based on truth. May this home be a reflection of inner truth and may it be a place of hospitality extended with love and sincerity … In this setting of the mezuzah upon this doorpost ~ may this threshold become a sacred passage and this home, a sanctuary, blessed by Spirit … With a mezuzah, whenever entering or leaving this house, may we be confronted with the Spirit of God, and with the reminder of that abiding love, may we awaken from our lethargy … May we be aware that nothing in this world endures forever except the knowledge of this rock of the world … May the door of this home be wide enough to receive those who hunger for love or are lonely for friendship … May it welcome those who have cares to unburden, thanks to express, hopes to nurture … May this door be too high to admit complacency, selfishness and harshness … May its threshold be no stumbling block to young feet … And may this be the doorway to a rich and meaningful life  …
Wishing all a rich and meaningful year …. Amen to the end of 2017 !
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