Wednesday, February 22, 2012
If you've been following my blog, then perhaps you've already gotten a feel for my journey of "straddling on two cultural seats."
My story is a big part of it.
Just the other day, I saw a picture of the almond blossums of the Upper Galilee and the Emek Hahula valley in Israel where our kibbutz is, and my heart sank. The caption read: "This is the most beautiful piece of countryside in Israel" and of course, I couldn't agree more. How I wanted to be there at that very moment and especially, at this time of year!
The concrete that we wake up to every morning here in Pittsburgh coupled with the early morning sirens spells another part to my story. Moving to the US in 2007 was on one hand, a great big boost for both myself and my husband's personal and professional developments. But it also entailed, a great self-sacrifice in the name of a home, family and friends. To help me along this journey, I have my meditating mentors to thanks - Dr. Deepak Chopra and DavidJi who sit somehwere in my computer and await for me every morning to find peace and stillness between my thoughts.
I've discovered from the four and a half years of cultural straddling that there is this great big voice that has emerged and truly wants to be heard as it finds its way "home."
When I take the time to listen, the BIG APE OL' Voice from the depths of my own story, tells me that I'm missing the point! It needs recognition, self-care, healing as part of recognizing that journey. And so now, when that voice speaks, I've learned to listen and tune in!
But let's face it..most people are reluctant to share that personal part of their story. But if you allow yourself to dig deep (and I mean getting past the mindset stuff and listen, really listen to that voice that emerges from people and places you've encountered) you will discover that what you have been holding unto can also set your free. And if you're in the process of branding yourself, that story is a major piece and can lead the way for connecting more effectively with your clients...
So, where do you think your life story could lead you – if you allowed it to lead the way? What do you think you could gain, both personally and professionally, if you came out fully with your life story?”
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Saturday, February 11, 2012
Silence cannot be contained in a box; it is vast endless as divine presence. ~TaoliAmbika
How could I NOT miss that blue pamphlet?
On a Pittsburgh city bus, a man standing next to me in a yellow parka started to speak while holding a blue pamphlet. For a moment, I felt I was on a NYC subway with some of those "Jews for Jesus" people...
"In September, we're going to have massive cuts in our public transportation system...Port Authority is facing a $64 million deficit in its operating budget. This means slashing service. This is a statewide problem. No corporate solution."
"There are going to be some major serious cuts and it's going to kill us. Kill us!" The man repeated emphatically.
"The airport flyer - eliminated."
"Many communities won't be served anymore... Take a look folks.. it's really bad."
I must admit. There was a deep part of me that didn't want to even look at that blue pamphlet for fear of the eliminating routes...
The airport flyer eliminated? What? Are they crazy? I thought. I felt the blood rush to my head.
"You guys have the power to make a difference... There's a hearing on February 29th downtown..."
"Yeah," a man bellowed from the back. "Word."
I turn to look at the man - he was listening with intent. He was nodding. He was smiling...I looked at all the people in that bus.. they were ALL listening with intent...
When my husband and I both got off at the corner bus stop in the snowy cold, we both took a quick look at the proposed fare schedules and changes.
"And what about the 64?" my husband asked.
That was the bus my husband took every day to work.
I quickly scanned the pamphlet..
Eliminated! Eliminated? Eliminated!!!
The man in the yellow parka was right. It looked bad... Really bad.
"Haim," I cried. "They're going to cut the 64!"
"They're not going to cut the 64! David Shapira (The CEO of Giant Eagle, where my husband works) won't let them...."
That was when my voice REALLY got stuck in my throat.
Flashback #1 - I am back in Israel marching with thousands of other teachers fighting for our right to get better working conditions. We march in front of the Knesset building in Jerusalem, the Israeli Parliament for two straight days...
But for the next five years, nothing changes...same salaries, just bigger classes and more hours...
Here, in the US, I have to stop hiding in my voice, my jacket and under the "disguise" of silence...because if I don't, my voice will continue to stay stuck in my throat...
The power of the people..
In Israel, everybody makes a lot of noise all of the time and you have no choice but to join forces, whether you like it or not.
And as one who solely relies on public transportation here in Pittsburgh to get around, I knew I didn't have a choice, but to speak up...at the public hearing...
In the snowy cold, I looked at the pamphlet again - The bus I would take to teach at the two universities would have service reductions as would the 65 Squirrel Hill neighborhood bus I would take in the early morning.
I looked at some of the other routes like the Manchester 18 line that used to take me from downtown Pittsburgh to the CCAC - Allegheny campus. What would happen to all those community college students who relied, like me, on the bus to take them to school?
There was no logic in any of this - just pain, and a lot of frustration.
(In some ways, even though we returned to a superpower nation, I feel in many ways, as if we returned to a third world country in terms of its thinking...)
And then, there was the airport flyer, the 28X which listed service reductions...
What does it meant to be voiceless...
Being Voiceless is when you CHOOSE to not speak.
Being Voiceless is when you consciously DECIDE that you have nothing to SAY, and nobody will listen to you, so why speak anyway?
Being Voiceless is when you relinquish your POWER to the higher authorities and other forces that be because you are too scared, too lazy, too tired, or too whatever to speak your own truth.
Growing up in NYC, I never thought I had the significant power to make a difference by changing things. I had stayed quiet all throughout school because it seemed to the "right" thing to do. After all, there were "other voices" that were better than me...
But... what if you could be ALL that you wanted to BE....just from SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH?
As I watched my husband's coat tails viciously flapping in the wind, I thought...How could I possibly know if some corporate person was truly going to fight for my husband's need to get to work on a bus??
I had already decided - I was going to speak at that hearing! No Matter what! As a matter of fact, I just made a note in my planner to call first thing Monday morning to "book" a 3 minute appointment. I have...
3 minutes to speak my truth.
3 minutes to speak my pain.
3 minutes to speak also for the voices of others.
3 minutes is all I have...
I had started to write this post and then got distracted with Facebook (but of course) but this distraction was totally different. I was specifically looking for a specific "energetic vibration" that would bring people together...
I took a quick look at the Compassionate Listening Project (where I got the quote on "silence"). Fate would bring me to the Facebook page of The Compassionate Listening Project knowing that I wanted the universe to support me during my 3 minute opportunity to be heard (a journey that reflected all journeys) during a public hearing...
Voicing our truth starts in our own homes, cities, coutries and towns...and begins when somebody says or does something that strikes a chord in our hearts, minds and souls just like the man in the yellow parka, whose emphatic talk prompted me to take emphatic action ...
Man, sometimes.... I wish life wasn't so hard...
But now I am prepared to drop my ripple everywhere I go whether I am on a bus or not...
Monday, February 6, 2012
I just finished a wonderful morning meditation with DavidJi, the lead educator of the Chopra Center. I swear every time that man speaks, I feel as if I'm closer to G-d.
The Bhagavad Gita verse 2.47 says: "We have total control over our own actions and no control over the fruit of our own actions"
we spend so much time in the fruit....
And so today's post is all about letting go of outcomes and pushing through limiting beliefs. As DavidJi gently guided me to breathe, the lighter I felt.
And with each pushing off, he asked, "What can't you have? What can't you achieve?"
I felt mysef getting lighter as a feather, feeling the wind carrying me - slowly my house went out of focus and all I could see was the foggy dense clouds from underneath. With each breath, I went higher and higher...
The entire experience was magical and by the time I returned to my physical body, I was so reassured that even in uncertain times, I had the power to make my dreams come true...if only I allowed myself to push through limiting beliefs...
And then...I could hear, feel and see the life history of the development of my voice and how, I had dreamed BIG and over the years, HOW my voice of my dreams and desires, shrunk -- becoming smaller and smaller until i had forgotten my passions and who I really was until I had "died out" completely.
Pretty sad, when you think about it.
but this is what happens with many many people all around us... carrying their empty dreams in their shopping bags, their purses and handbags on their way to burn-out... I see it every day...
By the time I came "back to earth," I first realized how important quietening the mind can help me voice more of what I want and less of what I don't.
And then, the bigger picture of what I had just experienced came into view...
My limiting beliefs was also big part of my own personal story of who I am and who I've come to be...
And so now, the magic continues...
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Saturday, February 4, 2012
"I need to sit THERE," a woman pronounced quite loudly.
My seven year old and I had just sat in the front of the bus. It was a Friday night and the bus was lively - full of students talking on their iphones.
We quickly moved to the adjoining seats.
She was loaded with shopping bags containing packaged food; some were tied to her black suitcase and - she tried to hold whatever she could - a few of the plastic handles slipped from her wrist.
We were heading to a potluck at a nearby synagogue in Pittsburgh for families of young kids. I was extra "spiritually pumped." All week long, I was looking forward to spending a Friday night at a synagogue - my only real physical and spiritual connection to Israel - my past, my legacy, my story. I was so ready to welcome the Shabbat. But on the other hand, I was feeling weak, lonely, exhausted, tired....
This woman had started to talk about herself - at first she was inaudible. But I listened closely. I was surprised to find my son listening with intent.
"I'm really in pain..." she said.
"It's a good thing you are not wheelchair bound," I said.
"And it's good that you can still walk."
"Yeah, I want to. I won't give up on walking..."
She started to talk more about her partner who abandoned her when he found out she had gotten sick...
"He gave up on me..." I could hear the pain in her voice even though she squeaked.
"That's not unconditional love," I said. "That's a condition..."
"Yeah," she said. "A condition."
The sun had just then wilted away as I made a quick mental note to greet the Shabbat from my bus seat. Pink and white shadows shifted as we rounded a curve. As we descended, the student neighborhood of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, came into view.
"Yeah," she said looking thoughtfully. "And then he got mixed up with some voodoo people..." Her voice drifted off as we hit the first traffic light.
Fate would bring me to this woman, who was even lonelier and isolated than I could probably imagine and needed somebody to hear her truth - hear her story...
As I looked deeply into her eyes, I saw and felt a very strange pain that almost paralyzed her. She struggled with every word, every breath.
It was such a compassionate, calming and truth-revealing moment. I was not afraid to talk to strangers. She could easily be my neighbor...I felt instantly connected.
I admit though... I was a bit relieved when our bus had come to our stop. But I was grateful to have given her the chance to step into her truth. If I had stayed on that bus, who knows?
With the people you meet, you have the opportunity to drop your ripple at ANY given moment. Listen to their stories. Hear their pain. Listen to their hearts. Listen to yours. Every story will bring you closer to your own truth, vulnerability and pain. Find your own gift that will ripple over... beginning with one person at a time.