Sunday, December 21, 2014

8 Nights of Ruckus and Romping - 5) L'Chaim and Tradition - Fiddler on the Roof.

This clip is from Fiddler on the Roof and although wonderfully happy, it is full of conflicts and tension.  It moves the blood. You can't watch that and not feel the primal power of the moment.  My father's Hebrew name is Chaim which means life.  My brother, who is currently visiting me and my famliy, always joked that he thought when people said l'chaim they meant to our Dad.    

My mother is from this very background.  I can't help but wonder occasionally, where might I have been raised, if the evil of the pogroms and holocaust had never happened.  Would my family have eventually moved to North American, or more likely, would I be sipping vodka in Eastern Europe somewhere right now?  Maybe I would be having a shot in the local bar singing l'chaim - to life.  

These videos remind me of an experience I had in Jerusalem in the early 90's.  Every Friday night we would go to the Western-Wall and Rabbi's would pair people up with hosts that would give us a nice Sabbath dinner.   That week, I was invited to a house in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.  The host was a rather sour looking Rabbi.  There where 6 of us for dinner that night.  Three women and three men.   We all ranged in various level of religiosity.

The Rabbi was not a good host.  He did not make us feel welcome  He looked at us like we were all in need of a good scolding.  He went on to lecture us ladies.  Among other things, he told us that we were wasting our eggs and should get married and have Jewish babies. He said that it was our role in life and that each month we wasted another egg.

As you can imagine, this did not sit well with me.  I got rather upset, told the man that I thought he was wrong and got up from the table and left.  The hostel I was staying at was locked up for another couple of hours so I had nothing to do but to wander the old city.  It was dark and not the safest place to be on your own, however I was used to it so I took it all in stride.

Shortly after I left, a guy came running up to me.  I recognized him as one of the people that was at the dinner.  He came after me to make sure I was OK, and to stay with me so I would not be alone in the old city at night. We went up onto one of the many roof tops of Jerusalem and sat and talked about Judaism and philosophy. Neither of us even noticed the time until the hostels were all closed up tight for the night. We sat and talked all night, he was very knowledgeable and kind.

It was not until several weeks later that I found out he was a very respected religious Rabbi.  I thought he was just a traveler like me.  He never made me feel bad like the host Rabbi did.  He did not treat me differently because of I was a woman, nor did he discount my opinions.  He was kind and considerate and even gallant.

At the end of our night together he asked me if I would give him a hug.  It seemed like a safe enough request. He told me that it had been 8 years since he had touched or been touched by a woman.   We hugged for a while and then went on our way into the new day.  The moral of this story is that traditions may run deep but humanity runs deeper. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

8 Nights of Ruckus and Romping - 4 Matisyahu Hanukah Song

Matisyahu is a Jewish performer that has managed to gain a huge following, often making it into the top 10 with his music.  He does a range of work that has gone from reggae rap, to rock, to a new found "less is more" attitude  He has identified as a Orthodox Jew for most of his career.  He has recently shaken off the black but keeps Judaism as the center of most of his music.  It is very rare for a Jewish artist to make it big and maintain an orthodox lifestyle, however Matt, or Matisyahu as he is know, has done so.

This video, Hanukkah Song. is full of traditional Hanukkah characters such as the Matisyahu. Matisyahu was a leader of the Maccabees back in the days of the Hanukah Story.  Of course there is some odd stuff with wookies and toy soldiers. It tells a story while swirling around random thoughts and images.

As a Canadian I like the skating scenes.  As a music lover I enjoy the melody, but I really like the  beat. I have seen Matisyahu perform a few times at various festivals and even have some close up pics of him hanging out with the peeps.   I have seen shows that were all reggae, more rap hard almost industrial, and now more settled and smooth and lovely.  We will revisit him in a later post for another of my favorites.

So this video goes well with the fact that as of today I have been doing hot yoga, rather consistently, for 2 full years.  I never would have thought, that first day when I bolted from class after 40 minutes, that I would still be there two years later.   I still am getting my butt kicked each time but my practice has progressed and allowed my body to be more fluid.  Talk about a miracle.  Not only is it a miracle that I have survived, but also it has been a miracle for my body, mind and soul.

I am not usually the kind of person that can stand doing anything routine for very long.  I like to learn new things, do new things and do things a little differently.  I never could line dance because I just couldn't stand doing what everyone else was doing like some sort of mindless hoard.  Sorry to all those that enjoy line dancing, no offence intended.    Yet, I have been showing up and getting in line and doing this practice over and over and over... for two years now.

I want to express my thanks to all those at Sumits Hot Yoga Columbia for your generosity of spirit and frankly for your love.   I feel a part of a community of yogi's that really walk the walk of this practice.  Unlike Jews, that no matter their level of religiosity, feel this strong connection to Israel and the rest of the tribe, Yogi's connect based on the concept that more is just more. The more yoga or meditation you do the more microscopic strings you send out into the universe to connect with all the other strings of everyone who has and who will practice. The connection is silent and has no demands. It gives and it receives.  

For this, fourth post, and for two years of breathing,  Namesta, and thanks for the miracles you have done in the past and continue to do today.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

8 Nights of Ruckus and Romping - 3) Scythians Havah Nagila

Ahhhhhhhh!!!!   Tradition.  I discovered this band at a Wakarusa Music Festival on the top of Mulberry Mountain in North West Arkansas.  I was sitting at my camp enjoying the company of some fine folk when I heard the Havah Nagila coming at me.   It was quite the shocker.  The last think I expected at the top of a mountain in Arkansas was to hear a traditional Jewish celebration song.  Yet, there it was.

The band was called Scythian and was a bit of an unknown to the circles that attend that festival.  They did not have the best time slot, however they did have two shows with a better time for the second set.   I saw both shows and danced my tush off. 

There music was a mix of Klesmer, Celtic, Blue Grass, and Classical.   It was what I would call stomping music.   If a person could sit still with them playing they would have to be working hard at it.  I looked from dude to dude in the band and thought, 'Are they Jewish or do they just play a lot of weddings?'   

The reality was that it did not matter either way.  The song was traditional, and when I heard it I just knew, deep down inside, that they had found a frequency that just resonated with my Jeiwsh soul. At every simcha, (jewish celebration),  the Havah Nagila is played, from weddings to bar mitzvah. It is sung and danced to, running in circles until someone pulls a muscle or falls over the brides dress.  

I remember back in 1992, I was on on shore in the Bahamas during a cruise of the Caribbean.  It was a work trip and the co-worker I was hanging out with had attracted these two guys.  They were from somewhere in rural small town America.  My co-worker was rather attracted to one for them.   The other was an ignorant fool.  He kept making Jewish jokes, and let me tell you, they were not funny to me.   I was not impressed and was looking for an escape route.  

We were haning in this bar in the Bahamas, and I was contemplating walking back to the boat by myself when these two Israeli guys came up to me. One said very point blank, in a beautiful Israeli accent, "You do not have to put up with that."  He took my hand and escorted me back to our ship.  Their English was not so great and my Hebrew was even worse.  I realized that the only Hebrew I really remembered was either a prayer or the Havah Nagilah.    

These two people made a huge impact on me.  They had the Bravado to just walk up to me, take my hand and calmly escort me out of the uncomfortable situation I was in.  They did not worry that these two big American guys, well into their cup, would do something.  All they knew was that in their limited English, the words these guys were using were antisemitic.  

They did not know me, however they knew somehow that I was Jewish.  They protected me as part of their tribe.   We hung out for the next two days.  They inspired me to want to go to Israel and learn more about these strong, funny, powerful people.   They were the catalyst that sent me on my journey that lasted the better part of two years.  They gave me the strength to leave a bad relationship, buy a backpack and board a plane across the big pond.  The journey connected me indisputably with my Judaism in a deep resonating way.   So when I hear the Hava Haglia I know I am home.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

8 Nights of Ruckus and Romping - 2. The Maccabeats - Candlelight

I love this video.  When it first came out as a parody I fell in love with it.  The boys were each so cute and very modern orthodox yeshiva boy look.  I grew up with many dudes that looked just like these guys and connected with them immediately.  OK the dude that sings "I throw my Latka in the air" is my favorite.

The song is catchy and the story is told by the end of the fun and fast moving song.  It satisfies the qualifications of being Jewish content and reminds me of some of the dudes back in old Toronto.

So I grew up in a suburb of Toronto that had a lot of Jews and Italian along with a bunch of everything else.  I went to several schools from a Jewish day school to the area public schools.  I had friends from all walks of life and never even dated a Jewish guy till I went to Israel in my early 20's.  My longest relationship was with an guy of Italian and Irish decent.
I had a group of friends through my BFF who were more on the modern orthodox side.  There was a one dude's place where everyone hung out.  They were great group of dudes, funny, giving and usually centered around a TV set watching hockey.  Most, spent some time studying in Israel and some even made the leap and moved there. One special friend is no longer with us and we all missed him so.

The Dreidel is a symbol of Hanukkah. Why you may ask? Well, back in the day when the Jews were not allowed to practice Judaism or gather for learning, they would gather anyway.  When someone would come around they would pull out their dreidels and pretend to be gambling.  The Romans preferred gambling to Jewish learning or community.  

The dreidel has four letters on it and the letters represent the words that mean Big Miracle Happened There.  This is true for all dreidels outside of Israel.  In Israel the dreidels say Big Miracle Happened Here.  The differents, is to represent the location of the temple that was destroyed, in Jerusalem.

For me Chanukah, among other things, is about the right to learn and the struggle for knowledge.  The spark of knowledge can grow bringing understanding and launching dreams.  I believe that the miracle of knowledge can and must be encouraged to happen everywhere.  Thus, when I next go to Israel I will get a gross of dreidels that say Big Miracle Happened Here and use them from then on.  It does not matter if you are on the Cardo in the old City of Jerusalem, or sitting by the Sea of the Galilee, or you are having a coffee in the Starbucks in Barns and Noble in your local mall.  The freedom to learning, central to Jewish tradition, should be a persons obligation, privilege and right.

So for this post I would like to salute all those that continue to seek out knowledge and learn throughout life.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

8 Nights of Ruckus and Romping - 1. Adam Sandlers Chanukah Song

This year has been odd for Jews. The situation is complex beyond measure.  Enough said, it's not easy being a Jew (sung in full Kermit voice). I am inspired to add value to the conversation by celebrating the joy of Hanukkah, and it's victory over oppression, with a festival of Jewish music.  Throughout the holiday I am going to pick cool Jewish music videos and reflect on them with hopefully significant thoughts and reflections. The music only need have a connection in some way to qualify. I am going to start a little early to get it going.

Oh and I plan to spell hanukah in as many ways as possible.  See if you can pick out the number.

For the first night of Chanukah we have Adam Sandlers Chanukah Song, live in Chicago in 2012.  I love live music.  I tend towards the music festival world with a great love for beat, grove, funk, jazz, blue grass, etc... If you can shake your money maker to it, I am all in.  So I pick this particular version because it is live and in front of a big old crowd in Chicago. My husband is from Chicago and it is quite a town.   

So this song brings in pride and connection for Jews.  We are a very small % of the population.  Jews are few and far between when you get out of the main big cities.  Jews tend to stick together in geographic centers of culture and food.  

Despite the numbers and no matter how you slice it, Jews are found in large numbers in the public eye.  They are main contributors to innovation and scientific expansion. They are active in art through acting, music and design.  They are found at the center of the fight for civil rights, social justice, and environmental control. It feels good to know that we are in the company of the great ones no matter our size.  We are contributing to the progression of societies all over the globe. 

No matter if you are a liberal, conservative or orthodox, you can get down with Adam and his crew. At this time of year we are saturated in holiday cheer, so to hear we are in the company of the great Spock and Fonzi is fabulous.   It is also always great to see the Adam Sandler, who has a very Jewish presence with the essence of being a Mench.   

Chanuka is about so many things.  At its core it is about resilience, about making it through all the road blocks and still having a nation of Israel to call our tribe.   I am referring to the Nation of Israel as being a people throughout the world, in Israel and the Diaspora.  "Nation of Israel" "Am Israel" (in Hebrew).  So when you hear about the struggle of one Jew in a small town school being harassed, or a stabbing in Jerusalem, or the desecration of a Jewish monument in Europe, it hits 'Am Israel'.   

It is like we are part of a one of those giant Aspen tree systems that are all interconnected below ground, or like the Borg or something.  Yes, that is a Star Trek, Next Generation reference.  If you don't know it, it is a common consciousness that all of the Borg are connected through.  It is a common computer interface, in the Borg situation.  In the case of the Jewish Identity it is a connection on a different level. It could be one of the 7 loops or dimensions, or maybe it is a sense of Zionism, or common souls, or maybe just the fantasy of a bunch of orphans. 

All humans want to feel that connected to a sub group that will welcome them.   Cheers, with its song, were everyone knows your name, resonated with everyone, let us not forget.

Identifying as a Woman in the struggle for professional equality is spun with images of leaning in to much, or not leaning in enough.  It has glass ceilings, labyrinths and old boys clubs.  It is an image that has not advanced far in the last decades.  

The image of a Jew, now there is something I can connect with.  We have more than our fair share of:  intellectuals, ethical scholars, political activists, scientists, doctors, professionals, actors, comedians, artists, musicians, and leader.  So to Adam Sandler and the Chanuka Song we say thanks for the reminder that from the the days of the Maccabi to today we have had our great ones and we have persevered. Am Israel Chai!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Shifting Inward

The semester is coming to an end and I have had a chance to get back to yoga.   I practiced four times in the last 6 days, which is the a record for this semester. Sadness, you might say. Yes, you are correct. Sadness abounds.

For these last four practices I have changed up my process.  I made this change, partly because I did not want to look judgmentally at my body while I worked out, and partly because this may be a next step in awareness. Let's just say thanksgiving food frenzy and the busy semester, were not kind to my body.  To shake things up, I started placing my yoga mat at the back of the room, where the view of the mirror is blocked with other people.  Usually I would have positioned myself in the front room, by the mirrors, in the view of many people.

Instead of looking at my reflection and allowing that to guide the postures, I have been focusing on the internal alignment.  I have been feeling the body's position by how it feels inside.  I have been feeling the posture and the adjustments through my internal eyes.  OK, this may sound a little odd. however that is how I role.

This shift has taken more that just feeling the positions,  I have also had to focus my sensory perception to inside the cube that is my yoga mat.  I have been purposely closing my eyes more and limiting my feelings to me in the room.  I have been actively visualizing the voice of the Yogi as a recording.  This has become a time of me alone with no responsibility for anyone else.

If I don't feel the position is working for me I have been adjusting as needed without fear of confusing everyone else.  Being at the back of the room, I have not had  to guide those behind me or be an example for those needing modified positions. 

Ironically, this feeling of inner focus, has freed me from the responsibility to the outer world.   Being one of those people that truly feels the energy of those around me, this was a big shift.  For me to close off and not be receptive has taken substantial concentration. Yet it has also taken a lot of pressure off.  

So today's class was a community class and actually quite full.  There were four rows of people and it was the last class of the day.  It was hot and humid with all the combined body heat and sweat. Certainly, it was a little bit of a nightmare for those who OCD on body fluids.   It was a hard class and a good one. 

I managed to keep focus on my cube, my breath, and the balance and alignment in my body.   I don't really know if I was doing the positions better.  However, I do know that it felt good not judging myself.  It felt like I was building my inner strengths and love. 

I have found a value to not judging myself through my practice and not putting the pressure of guiding others upon my time.  Instead, I can love and breathe and focus. This may just allow me to focus on the joy of the journey instead of the steepness of the climb, and maybe, just maybe allow me to find some inner peace. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thank you for my Weaknesses and my 100th blog post.

We spend great amounts of times being thankful for our strengths and how they take us here and there. In a world of strength finders and positive feedback, our weaknesses are glossed over and avoided like a missing finger.  Yet we spend no time being thankful for our weaknesses.  As Gary Vaynerchuk, the audacious entrepreneur, has asked people to do this thanksgiving, I am going to enumerate my weaknesses and why I am thankful for them.  They are in no particular order or ranking.

I am not a shark.  This is a weakness in business and in my social interactions.  When I was in sales I would sell the products people needed not what made me money.  When I was in business management positions I would go for a great deal but always try to come to a win win solution with suppliers wanting everyone to win not just myself.  When I invite kids over for a sleepover I invite them all and sacrifice my sleep. This may keep me limited in my ambitions, however it keeps me humane and fair.  I can sleep at night, am proud of who I am and am willing to leave some on the table in the hope for fairness and karma.  Oh, and I love the pack of kids having a blast, eating my food, and tearing up my world... most of the time.  

I have a sarcastic and often ironic sense of humor that gets me in trouble.  While this is a weakness living in the Midwest, I think I just might lose my mind without the funny silent chatter that goes on in my cynical witty mind. If I did not see the humor in life's little falls and spills, I might take myself and everything else too seriously.  

Example... game of Cards Against Humanity. Question: Blank is the logical gateway to Blank.  I put a subscription to a men's fitness magazine is a logical gateway to an M16 assault riffle.  Well of course this had me in stitches but everyone else looked at me like I was touched.  Then another one came up said Question: Blank is the worst way to die.  I put abject stupidity is the worst way to die.   So my sense of humor is a little off for my current latitude and longitude.  A weakness in social situations but Oh well.  - said dripping with sarcasm.  

My brain works so fast I often have something figured out way before the conversation has gone there.  The stream of information and processing that happens in my head is a great thing for problem solving but a weakness in communication.  I have to work to maintain patience when people are explaining things that I already figured out before they even opened their mouths.   OK, sometimes I am just dead off, however often enough I get it right.  I am thankful for my speed and efficiency, and will just have to work harder to allow others their due attention. 

This speed is a weakness in my written communication.  You see, I have a few contributing factors here. Add in in a terrible lack of spelling skills and a typing speed way over 100 words a minute that is erroneous as hell.  Then add in a family background of languages like Yiddish and Hebrew, with their backward syntax, and you get a product that needs much review.  I type how I speak. You should never know, how backwards I write some times. lol.  I am thankful for this because I enjoy my thought patterns.  I do need to, either spend a lot of time reviewing or accept a less than perfect product.  This slowing down is good for me.  It forces me to occasionally breathe.    Yet, if you have read many of my blogs, you have found that I often go for the 'its good enough' attitude.  My blog is my stream of consciousness and allowed to be more natural in syntax, at least that is my story and I am sticking to it.  

I have a little bit of a wild side.  OK, a good amount.  I sometimes term it suppressed boogie or evil inclination or just my me'ness.  I really am good most of the time, but some times I just need to be a little bad.  Not robbing a store and Thelma and Louis bad, more of a selfish buy myself a pair of shoes or go to a music festival and dance around a field for five days,  or backpack around Europe for a year or two bad.  This is a weakness when it comes to stability and practicality.  Yet, to be honest, I love this about myself.  It is what I pull on when the going gets tough and I have to lean in and taken on challenge. As a mother and adult I can only take small escapes and I use them well.   

The last weakness I am going to be thankful for is something that I have always thought of as my Gemini behavior.  Every few years I change.  I change up what I am into and what may give me fire. This does not mean I don't have some enduring loves, like gardening and nature. There is just this big part of me that just sort of shifts to new interests.  Part of this is because I get board.  I don't like doing the same thing over and over again.  After a certainly point, I am good to go, and need a new playground to play on for a while.  I love to learn about many things but don't need to be an expert at them all.  I would rather take on a totally new subject then dig so deep I hit lava.  I am thankful for this because it has resulted in a hugely well rounded set of skills, knowledge and interests to pull when I need to.  

This process has been a lot of fun. Weaknesses sometimes become strengths and for me are many of the things about me that I love best.  Thanks Mr. V for the homework.  

Now I would just like to be thankful for all the time, effort and mental focus you have put forth to read my blog.  This is my 100th blog post.  When I started this blog I thought it would be a fun way to ramble on about stuff and at least my mother would read it.   I had no idea that I would be sitting here typing up my 100th blog post on disgruntled feminist.

I have to say that, it tickles me pink, that my posts get a certain amount of organic traffic.  It is not some wild vial explosions. It is some daily traffic from those that regularly check. It is also shares, that are most powerful, and get my content read and reread and slowly shared again. So if I give you a quality post with a rant, a moral and maybe some laughs, share it out there for me.  

Hats off to you Gov'ner.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Who moved my Cheese

If you have not watched the video or read the book, "Who Moved my Cheese", you probably should do so.  It is based on the analogy of these characters stuck in a maze with the cheese, at Cheese Station C, starting to dwindle and eventually disappear. The four types of characters all react differently to this change.  Some run off immediately in the search for new cheese, while others are determined to stick it out till the cheese comes back in its regular abundance.

The premise of this book is that people get comfortable and like their routine.  They get used to having what they need provided with this routine.  Then, as things start to get less ideal, for various reasons, people by nature are not inclined to move on and find a new world.  People need to be sufficiently uncomfortable in their existing situation, what ever it be, to spur action.   This goes along with basic Needs Theory.  Until a person feels enough pressure created by a need or want they will not go out and seek.

So how does one know when their cheese, so to speak, is starting to change.  Maybe it is getting kind of stinky or a little ripe.  Maybe it is starting to dwindle.  One usually tries to deny the changes.

In my past I have not been the first off the block when things started to get off.  I generally stuck things out thinking justice, karma and hard work would make it all OK.   Yet it seldom was OK, it often did not get better, and usually signaled the need for eventual change.   What would have happened if I jumped off at that time when I just started to feel the change in the air, instead of waiting for, "every little thing is going to be all right"?

People change jobs more often than in the past.  In the Traditionalist and Baby Boomer Generations a person may have had a small handful of employers in their day.  As we move up the generations the average number of jobs has increased and increased.   At this point, not including part-jobs through college I have had eight major professional jobs.  This number is not uncommon, and I still realistically have 20 more years to work.  The chances that my current employer will be my last,  is pretty much zero.

I saw this quote the other day and it really hit home "Karma comes to those that roll with it." Would my career path have changed if I rolled with Karma.   I believe in Karma, and have felt it's force in my life.   I often have likened it to that feeling when you are floating down a river in a canoe and you see the V the river is making.  You have to steer into the V.  Be the V, if you will.  Then your canoe will go with the river, and baring any downed trees, this is usually the safest path.  

So why wait.  Why the anxiety of change and feeling of sadness.  Why not put on those running shoes and dive into the change, looking for the next clear path, the next V that will take us on our career journey.   Is it fear of the unknown, questions of self worth or fear of rejection that keeps us from looking for new cheese.

This time I plan to have my eyes open and take a run around the maze, every now and again, even if my cheese still seems fine.  It might look just fine, however that does not mean it is the right cheese for me.  Hell, I am allergic to milk for the love of god.   I am tying those shoe laces tight and will be looking for the next V.  See you there.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Grocery Shrink Ray

I am a Professor of Marketing and Strategic Communication, yet I don't often agree with the ethics of the industry.  I feel that in teaching Marketing, I may be helping prepare the professionals of tomorrow with an eye for justice and humanity.  I am also helping to equip tomorrows consumers with more awareness of the crafty world around them.

Over the last several years I have noticed that our grocery bills keep going up and our food seems to be used up faster.  Some of this can be attributed to my two growing boys at home.  However, a good portion of this is in the hands of the manufacturers.   

A few years back when gas prices hit $4 a gallon, we saw price increases across the board.  We understood that the transportation costs were going up and needed to be passed on to the consumer.  Yet, the price of gas has gone up and down, and now sits lower than it has been in years. Where is our drop in price to be passed on to the consumer?  The prices of goods continue to increase even as the Feds say the inflation rate does not show this growth.  

Now, the part that gets my goat, is that if you look at your favorite products, from laundry detergent to toilet paper, you will see that the quantities in the containers are going down.  So a bag of chips is now 9 or 10 oz instead of 12 to 14.  A can of soup is now 10 3/4 oz instead of 12 or 14.  Everything seems to be shrinking.  A bag of Oreos has shrunk, spinning off a new size called "Family Size" that audaciously looks like our old packages. The new smaller packages are the same prices as the old bigger packages and the new family packages are selling at a premium.  I even noticed Guinness draft beers are now 11/ 1/2 oz instead of 12 oz.  If domestic beer did this we might actually have a revolution on our hands.   

If this was happening on the up and up that would be one thing. To keep us consumers happily going about our day, the crafty world of package design has attempted to keep us in the dark by altering the packaging contours.  If you lift up your jars of peanut butter or mayo you will notice a concave base that is deeper and deeper with each purchase.  This package alteration takes a few grams of substance out of every jar.   This small savings leaves less food in my kitchen.  

As consumers we must take a stand.  Next time you see a product and lift it up and notice, 'ooooh that is a little lighter than last time', look at how many grams or oz or product you are really getting.  Post it on your social media.  Let others know.  What we are experiencing is called the Grocery Shrink Ray.  There are websites out there such as that have several good articles about this situation.   Share this info with your friends.  The only way to stop the Grocery Shrink Ray is to make sure the consumer knows what is happening.

Check out an old recipe book and it will say to add a can of this or a bag of that.  Look at the quantity they expected to be in a container.  Make sure you are making your family recipes correctly and look at the oz or grams needed.  

Another thing to look out for, is situations such as Walmart. Manufactures make specific products exclusively for distribution to Walmart stores.  These products can be altered in size and quality and sold under the same labels.  Look at the quantity before you decided if the price is right in Wally World. The Walmart owners have not become four of the 10 riches people in our country by giving their maximum value to the consumer. 

So the next time you feel like your buying power is shrinking, it probably is.  #groceryshrinkray

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Tango of the Soccer Mom

This is in dedication to all the Mom's and Dad's out there that have done this dance for years and will do so for years to come.

Lordy Lordy, I feel like my mini-van and I are dancing a new tango these days.  I am not sure who gets to do the deep dips but, I feel kind of dizzy.  I used to think that I had it hard driving the kids each day to and from their various schools, programs and appointments.  Of course, this was on top of working and the constant shopping and errands that are needed to keep the household going.  

Well, the bar has just been lifted to a new level.  My sons are now in different schools, and promise to be so for the rest of their educational years.   Their schools start and finish at very different times, and none are within walking distance of our home.

When I was a kid, growing up in Toronto, I walked to my schools through rain, snow and warm days a like, some times I got lifts in with my Dad on his way to work.  I know, I know, up the hill both ways, yada yada.  Yet my kids can not walk to school.

What about the school bus system you may ask?  Well, frankly I don't trust the kids, given the lack of supervision, and I feel that the worst of the worst occurs on these buses. So I am left being the proverbial Soccer Mom shuttling everyone everywhere.

I know that you can't really understand what it is like to have a kid until you do so.  So why should I be surprised that new twists of parenthood can come along and smack you on your humble tush.  Lordy, lordy, I knew this was coming, but did not realize how much it would limit my grove.  One thing that has suffered is my ability to get to my yoga practice.

So, at yoga, the first one I had done in too long, I worked on this issue.  Joe was leading the class and he added some fantastic detail on several key positions.   The main one was about each yoga position starting in the foot with balance and strength, in the foot, before it can be there for anything else.   He described the foot with three contact points. One in the heal, one the front foot behind big toe and the last being front foot behind little toe.  The toes are not the focus, it is the pad behind the toes.   So you spread your weight between these natural pads, and focus on that before you can move up the body to the rest of the position.

Wow.  I focused on this during several standing positions, and I even carried it through the flows.  This helped take care of the instability I had been feeling during dancer and standing toe.  It was not easy, that is for sure, but if I could focus on keeping my foot in balance the rest seemed to come more naturally.   I was able to hold poses longer and was more stable.  Yet, I could feel the difference in strength between the left and right feet as they worked to maintain the new position.  When  I did manage to maintain balance there was less pain in my feet.

So what does this have to do with my role as a pack mule?   I think that the Soccer Mom's and Dad's out there that do this dance are the foot.  If that foot is out of balance the rest of the position can not be happening at its full potential.   After time you see those people that spend all their energy giving it to their kids and family sacrificing their own needs.   This can not bring happiness for anyone.  As my husband has been known to say "if mama not happy... no body happy."

My foot, my base had lost its balance and focus.  Upon looking inside and assessing my reality I saw that I did not have the strength to balance, or even the focus to work towards balance.  So this let me know that I must maintain my practice to be able to focus on the music and dance this complex tango.    

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sustainability and the Harvest

The harvest has been unbelievable this year.  Not sure if it is the result of years of progressive soil building, technique and plant selection or the weather and mother natures sense of humor... but it has rocked.  This bounty has gone hand in hand with a meditation I had during a yoga practice recently.

To set the stage, I was dealing with the feeling that things were changing too fast.  The kids were going back to school, while my semester was about to start.  To make it more acute I had just returned from a conference with new ideas of how to change everything I was doing.  My oldest was dealing with the jitters of starting middle school and to top it off I lost something rather valuable and was really frustrated with myself.   

So I went to go do my first yoga practice and I was looking forward to a routine that was second nature to me.  I found out the class schedule had changed and  the class was going to be a new one hour class in another format.  I knew these classes were coming but had not thought to check.  

In this class, like many, the instructor told us to choose a purpose for our meditative aspect of the practice. So I focused and decided to see what the question should be.  The answer was that I should consider the path I should take to get through this time of transformation.  Through the practice, I kept  focusing on sustainability. 

This journey grew through my practice.  It started with the recharge that comes from harnessing Mother Nature in harvesting her fruit.  Then it went to the joy that comes from seeing the fruit of your labor transformed into something that will sustain the family throughout the months to come.  Then there was the creative buzz of going beyond the obvious and creating interesting things to enhance and to share.  If you have ever canned, processed, or dried food you know this buzz of sustainability.

I began to think about all the things I had processed this summer.  My garden beds had produced incredibly, and I had the luck to have some farmer bounty accessible as well.  I started with early asparagus and greens, peas and garlic. it moved on to loads of cucumbers.  

I lucked in to a big bunch of cucumbers, about 120 lbs, by going to the farmers market near closing and making a deal for a farmers left overs.  A friend came over and joined in on the fun and we canned 98 large jars together.  We had two water baths going in the back yard for most of the afternoon.   

Then the tomato harvest started.  Even with sharing with friends I had the most prolific tomato harvest ever.  I grew two areas of tomatoes this year, one was for determinants, producing a bunch of tomatoes all at once. The other was in-determinants,  producing tomatoes consistently throughout the summer.  The first to come in where the determinant.  I skinned and crushed batches of tomatoes,   planning on spreading the love through many meals to come.   

The in-determinant type I grew were the amazing Ivan.  I purchased the Ivan a coupe years back from a family down in the river bottoms and saved seeds. They said their family had been growing this tomato for 150 years right here in Missouri's humid, hot and unpredictable climate.   As the big Ivan's started to come in I made some hot salsa using hot peppers, garlic, fresh picked corn, and southern beans.  It turned out fantastic.  

Well, the tomatoes continued to come in and I canned and canned tomatoes, hardly keeping up with the volume. Then a friend dropped two boxes of Amish tomatoes at my door.  This promoted a sauce making endeavor that resulted in 11 pints of pizza sauce and 28 of pasta sauce.  I continued to make trays of lasagna, meat sauces, and stews.   

It did not end there.  I recently made an amazing plum chutney with the first plums I had ever harvested from my trees.  After reading a bunch of recipes I winged it and made this delicious thing with lots of raisins, dates and spices.  Eggplants have also been processed into babaganoosh with tahini and lemon and my own garlic.

So where am I now you may ask?  Currently, I am sitting on three full paper grocery bags full of pears ripening. I am planning on making a few items including preserves, chutneys, and butters.  The grapes have come in on the back fence and I can't even think of what to do with them.  The tomatoes continue to flow and okra has started to be frozen for future gumbos.  

So how is nature's recharge going?   I am thankful for all the amazing food that has come, and continues to come out of my small suburban home.  The ever changing harvest has not surprised me or alarmed me.  It at times, has tired me and stretched my imagination and determination.  But it has not overwhelmed me and it has proven to be very valuable providing sustenance for my family and friends.  

Change is great if you can change with it, taking its bounty as it comes.   The key is to keep going and keep changing to adapt to what is flowing your way.  Putting in the hard work and receiving the benefits of the energy exchange with nature can sustain bodies and souls.  This strength and balance in yoga as in life can help us flow.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Event Planning Rule #1: Do not serve pork and piss off Jews, Muslims,Vegetarians, Hindus etc.... It is called common decency.

For the love of god when will people learn, or should we assume this is all on purpose.  With the rise of antisemitism it seems rather contrived.

So I am at the University of Wisconsin Distance Learning Conference in Madison.   So far a very good and informative conference.  Well it was good up until an hour or so ago.  Unfortunately they have just disgruntled this feminist and with that comes a blog post that I hope makes the rounds.  

So it was time for the Thursday Keynote Speaker.  They decided to serve a brunch instead of lunch.  It was after 11 so that seemed odd anyways but... whatever.   There were about 1000 people attending this event all in the large ball room.  The speaker was to talk about the use of social media in learning which is frankly one of my main topics of interest.  

As I got closer to the doors of this large space the smell became unbelievably terrible.   It smells like they are roasting whole hogs in a pit in the middle of the room.   I guess 1000 plates all flowing with bacon will make that happen.  This smell is wafting into the hallway and into the other smaller lecture forums. It is so strong that I see people turning away at the doors with the same face as me.  One is a Jewish Man from Israel that traveled all this way for the conference.  One is a Muslim Woman with head scarves and a look of sadness on her face.  Several are from Indian and take a deep breath and try to go into the room.  Several of vegetarians with looks of disgust and anger on their faces.   

You might say that they are making dietary considerations by providing special meals for us outliers that don't feel like bathing in bacon during our educational opportunities, however we still have to sit in that space and share the air and breath in that terrible smell.  For those that love bacon they can enjoy it and walk out with the smell in their hair and on their clothing and revel in it all day.  For the rest of us this excludes us from the event.  

They could just as easily provided a meal that did not have pork or at least open the doors.   I kept opening the door and the staff kept closing it.  I tried to sit by the door to learn what I came here for.  Yet they just kept closing the door. Even after I told the staff the smell was horrible and I was trying to let in some air.   Well apparently that request seemed to be out of line as they just kept closing the door anyway.   Finally I had to get up and leave.  

I formally complained to the conference organizer and she gave the the typical platitudes with no depth or understanding.  She looked at me like my head was on fire for even disliking the smell.   We are not talking about my noise and it's lack of enjoyment of pork.  We are talking about common decency and respect for diversity.  We attend sessions on how to respect diversity in on line learning.  How about respecting diversity period.   What a thought!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

18 years, Happy Anniversary

For my husband, Todd

Today is our 18th Anniversary. 18 years, old enough to go to war, old enough to vote, old enough to for many things.  18 Years ago today we jumped feet first into this partnership to create a life.  Lord knows, when we did this, we were not thinking 18 years down the line,  we were just trying to figure out what to do minute by minute. We were working to take two separate lives and combine them in one bathroom, one kitchen, one bank account and one closet.   Not an easy task and one that naturally takes years and is always changing as the characters within the relationship change.

I think back over this time and were we find ourselves and there are a few things that stand out, our understanding of what each other needs to be happy, our laughter, and our freedom to be.

Firstly, we have learned what each of us really needs and what we can provide for each other.  We have learned that if we spent our entire lives measuring this for that and trying to be even and balanced it would make neither of us happy.  I know he needs his time to bike and I need my yoga and garden.  The best part is that not only do we know what each other need, we want to give it to each other and we go out of our way to make it happen.   There is no way I could have done all the yoga I have done without the help of my partner on this journey.   Just as there is no way he could have biked the miles he has without me being there for him.

Another great thing that stands out is humor.  You know how people joke around about the people you would want on your team if you had to go off into the woods and survive on your own. You know a hunter, a fix it dude, a gardener, medical professionals, etc.  Well my husband provides one thing that people don't think about but is an essential element.   Entertainment.  He is terribly funny.  Just straight up funny.  He can get an entire group of people laughing and it comes natural to him in most situations.  I never lack for a good laugh and being a person from a sarcastic culture humor is as necessary as air to me. Having humor in my life is a gift and again I am grateful we have created a world that is full of laughter.

The last item that stands out in our relationship and world is the freedom we give each other.  Some of it is born of necessity as we have two young kids and no family within a 11 hour drive of here.  But it is also the understanding that we each need freedom.  I have been in relationships where my partner was jealous and I have felt restricted by the his expectations or judgments.  I am happy to say that we understand that each needs freedom and we actually encourage each other to have it, albeit be a business trip, visiting family, trips with friends or just nights out on the town.  I know he needs his boys trips and I need my music festivals filled with sweaty hippies. We know the other needs the time to enjoy being who we are and we encourage each other to be who we need to be. Neither of us is trying to hold in or squash the others free will and growth.  We both know that if we don't individually grow we will not grow together either.

So this post is a way of saying Happy Anniversary Darling.  I am happy you are my partner and love.  Lets keep winding our path together.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Time To Speak

It is time to speak.  The times come when you have to say the words that are sitting at the back of your tongue waiting to be said.   I have been watching the news like a rabid fox for weeks.  Anyone who knows me, knows my position on Israel.   They know my passion for that fantastic place and my undeniable support for the State of Israel.  This post will be no surprise to them.

However,  this post is about the unacceptable level of antisemitic activities that we are seeing in the world today.  The areas I will discuss include Europe, Boycotts, and Social Media.  The problem here is that the antisemitic acts are on French citizens, British Citizens, American Citizens...  Jews yes, but they are not Israel. If you have a bone to pick with Israel take it out on Israel not on Jews.   There are Jews everywhere, hopefully.  They are citizens of many countries with many views.  They may or may not support Israel.  They may or may not practice their religion and may or may not believe in God.  Regardless of their views they are not Israel.  To take this conflict outside of the realm of the national conflicts and to the individual Jews living throughout this world, peacefully going about their business, is where antisemitism shows its roots.  In this we see that the actions have very little to do with the conflict currently happening and are an underlying problem. 


For the Love of God folks come on.  The antisemitic backlash has been tremendous. I would like to say 'been there done that' for Europe.  One might say that the population make up for Europe has changed substantially since the Second World War II and thus this is a new Europe.   The new Europe, incorporating huge immigration from Islamic lands including North Africa, has reacted in the streets in a  down right scary way.  Is this like the genocide of WWII?

Lets talk about France shall we.  Yesterday protests, in the suburbs of Paris called Sarcelles, got to the point of riots demolishing Jewish establishments and threatening Jewish French Citizens.  The Protest which had been banned by the government hurt people and succeeding in putting fear into the hearts of many. Even know the protest was banned flyers were posted all over stating to bring weapons and be prepared to raid the Jewish district. The crowd chanted "Gas the Jews" and "Kill the Jews". Rioters carried bayonets and fire bombs, and were only stopped yards from the local synagogue. French Jews were harassed, endangered saying it brought them back to 1938.   

In a discussion with a friend, he tried to tell me that Jews do the same thing.  I could not help but stomp that right down.  Were in the world are you seeing violent protests being led by Jews? Are they protesting the Arab countries that are backing the conflict or the Palestinians themselves?  No, is the answer.  You may see some people supporting Israel or showing strength for Israel at an anti-Israel protest.  Yet they are not violent and are not calling for the death of a people based on their religious choice.  Jews have always protesting on the side of peace even within Israel against their own people.  Jews have always been there in the civil rights movements and are found in great numbers supporting peaceful civil liberties.  

This issue is not limited to Europe as we have seen a huge rise in antisemitic happenings world wide over the last few years.   Why?  What are Jews doing so wrong?  Maybe it is the unending ability to inventing stuff to make the entire human races life easier, or maybe it is all the medical research curing diseases that puts the world at odds with the Jews?  Maybe it is in all the support that Jews give to people and causes all over the world whenever there is a situations of need.  That must be it.  

Oh, Oh, I know, it is the gall the Jews have had to survive the holocaust and build an amazing, successful, powerful nation where others had only grazed goats.   Maybe it is the self deprecating scene of humor that has entertained millions and millions of people in movies and TV.  Hmm mm.  Or Maybe they are just a convenient focus for rage and ignorance.


What is with this?   Lets get the strongest minds and best thinkers in the world and get them to agree to boycott Israeli industry.  Hmm mm.  Got a cell phone folks, I guess you are going to turn that in.  Much of the technology behind those little babies comes for Israel.  Ready to go back to your land lines?  As much as I love Stephen Hawkins works, he would not be able to communicate at all without the technology developed in Israel to help him make himself understood.  Why is the Palestinian cause so more just to this group of boy-cotters?  What have they done to further human rights, humanity, science?  As if that should even be the question.   

Why would a company like Sephora, a makeup retailer, feel it has the moral high ground by boycotting Israel in the favor of a group that if they had their way would not even let women wear makeup.  This group also regularly abuses it's own citizens without the benefits of courts of law. The same society is working hard to take away all rights from women, gives no protection of minorities living withing their boundaries including Christians, and uses it's own citizens as human shields with no value on their lives.  

Do the boy-cotters give a hoot about all the violations of human rights going on all over the world or is Ahava an Israeli hand cream company such a threat to their ways of life.  Does Israel poison it's own people with chemical weapons, or drag their own people through the streets behind motorcycles until the bodies have no human features recognizable, all without an legal proceedings, due to a suspicion they may be 'collaborators'.  

Maybe, just maybe those poor people who were murdered as 'collaborators' were actually moderate citizens standing up to Hamas in even a small way.  How is a moderate Muslim ever suppose to stand up against these powers.  If they protest this situation they themselves will be killed and their families with them. There is no voice for the moderates, only fear and compliance. Maybe there needs to be a protest standing up for moderate Muslims that want peace and security not ignorance and fear.  That is a protest that I could support.   

Does Israel use humanitarian aid to build terror tunnels and buy bombs? Does Israel even turn their back on terrorist in need of medical attention after the terrorist kills Israel people? No, they do not.  Why boycott Israel, unless you are really boycotting Jews and thus this is a much bigger agenda of antisemitism and the Palestinians are just a convenient tool being used.

On that subject do the Arab world leaders really care about the Palestinians?  Or do they use them as a pawn to continually poke at the bear that is Israel.  If the Arab world wanted to they could fund the Palestinians to the point where each person would be bathing in gold tubs full of gems.  They could feed, house even absorb these few million people easily.  But they want them unhappy, discontent and miserable.  They want this conflict to continue.   

Social Media: 

I must admit I am surprised and delighted by the quality, quantity and strength of the social media coming out of Israel.  This is the first time in my 45 year life that I have seen Israel actually get the upper hand in any media battle.  Not sure who they have working on their team this time but they are doing a fantastic job.  The voice has been focused onto giving the same messages and give them well.  This is a great example of Integrated Marketing Communication done well.  

Of course this is my view of the social media that I am seeing in my feeds.  What I will say is that the amount of info coming out of this conflict is much more then in the past.  In previous conflicts Israel has stuck to the position that "we are right and everyone will see that."    Well that does not actually work, you see.  You have to be right and be in every one's face about it.   This time they are in every one's face and Bibi is doing a fantastic job of bringing it to the English speaking populations of the world. 

The social media coming out of this conflict is showing the fear, strength, anger, and generosity of the Israeli people. I am glad to see it being shared over and over by friends in my feed.  I see it coming from Jews, and from Non Jews alike. Yet social media allows you to tailor what you see to what you want to see. 0

Social media also lets people comment on stuff like a bunch of fools. I have seen some pretty ignorant comments coming from people who can't help but show their inherent antisemitic tendencies.  On one post by the PM of Israel I noticed several comments including "Hitler had it right", "Four more years of Hitler and the Jews would have been gone" ,  "They killed Jesus and now they will pay".  One could say those comments are because of the national focus, well a similar comment showed up on a local Columbia Tribune article about a local protest.  Thankfully the Tribune removed the comment as inflammatory and inappropriate. So ignorance and evil know no bounds.

None of these comments are about Israel, none are about the conflict.  They are all about Jews and Antisemitism.  There are millions of non-Jews living in Israel happily going about their lives in peace and security.  They are Christians, Muslims, Druzes, Bedouin, Armenians, Thai, etc....   The comments are not about the multifaceted face of Israel, they are all directed at Jews.

So are we supposed to stand by and watch all this and say nothing.   Thankfully media is pushing this in our faces to the point where we can't just sit by.  I have been having anxiety dreams for weeks and have not been able to see through the haze to know why I was having them.  In yoga, I realized it is because of this conflict.  Because of my frustration, fear and love for Israel and her people.  I feel vulnerable as a Jew yet I am a voice that can be heard.  I will not sit back and say nothing as the world goes crazy around me.  I will not sit back and wait for it to hit home.  It has already hit home as I am a Jew.  As Jews in France, Belgium, England, or anywhere else are being harassed we are all feeling it and our very humanity is called in to question if we do nothing.  

It is Time to Speak.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Elements: Earth

The earth is the common element around which all the others work.  The water flows over the earth and through it's substance storing, cleaning and pumping water with a beat like a heart.   Wind blows over the earth helping the water flow, the dirt and rocks travel. The wind also brings air, seeds and nutrients around the planet renewing and preserving our very food sources.  The fire cooks everything together bringing life and renewal.   Each of these elements are part of the full body that is earth.

This trip we went to the mountains.  The mountains are a common pull for.  People who are mountain people feel the pull to the energy these giants produce.  They are huge and silent and powerful yet they have a beat to them, a pulse that we may not quite feel.  Yet we recognize the brilliance and power in itself.  It brings us a sense of calm like a dog when it lays down and makes that big breath out. 

In the human body we have our heart that pumps, keeping the life blood of the body flowing while bringing nutrients and cleaning out toxins.  Without this we have no life.  We also have the lungs that bring in oxygen to the body.  Again this is a powerful force that brings in energy and cleans out toxins we would have not life.  We also have a burning heat in our bodies that represent life.  Without this inner core burning to keep us in balance we would not exist.  The body has a beat.  Anyone who has lain their head upon their loved ones chest knows that beat. Anyone who has grown another body within them knows that beat.  Anyone who has lain in their parents arms with a skinned knee or sore tummy knows that beat.  

The earth has that beat.   Before this trip I went to Wakarusa and listened to the beat of music.  No matter what culture you are from there is a music that brings your soul to life.  It gives you energy or peace or passion or all three.  The earth provides it's people, us, with that beat at a level that you need to focus on and feel.  Yet this beat is part of us and can bring us all peace, calm and life.  

On this trip I met so many amazing people and went to so many amazing places each of which recharged my soul and connected me with the beat of the earth.  At times it was the wind wiping out of the canyon, at times water bringing life and clarity and at times fire bringing unconditional love with it's smooth energy. 

On this trip the beat was also the beat of the mountains, the streams, the native culture and drums, the swaying of the trees, the noises of the birds and animals, all bringing the symphony to life.  It was also the laughter of my children and their exclamations of awe at sights of natures beauty and power. "Wow Mom..."  

It is in returning from this trip that I recognize the feel of connection to that beat.  I don't have to be in the mountains to feel their strength, I don't need to be in the wind to feel it's support and I don't need to be in the water to feel its clarity.  I don't even need to be in the sun to feel it's heat.  However, if I close my eyes I can be the wind, water, fire and earth as one.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Element: Fire

Took me a while to write this post. I got back from vacation and was drawn up into the patterns of life so fast.  So here comes the next element.... Fire!

Our travel through the world of the Anasazi Indian migration took us to Taos, New Mexico to see the current inhabited pueblos near this sweet New Mexico town.  The native people of this area have been living continuously in the area of the Taos Pueblo for more than a 1000 years.  They are living in some of the same ways as their ancesters. They cook outdoor in wood heated mud ovens and drink and wash with water from the river that runs through the pueblo.   They have a church as well as native religion blended as well as each living separately.  

It was a fascinating experience that reminded me of living with the Bedouins in Egypt but that is another blog post...  The similarity ran in watching a society transition through time.  

We took a wonderful tour and purchased our share of jewelry, food, and sage sticks.  It was wonderful to see these people work hard to keep their heritage alive.  The spot is recognized as a world heritage sight and helped the kids see the heritage of this nation in a light that goes beyond Christopher Columbus and Spanish search for gold and the spread of Christianity.  

We went back to Taos and had a lovely time in the pool and chilling in our southwestern accommodations.   We planned to drive out towards the Rio Grand Gorge for Sunset. We each were thinking about what we had seen and how remarkable it all was.

When sunset approached we were a little late in getting ourselves together and into the car.  We were kind of tired and road weary.  My husband indicated he did not want to drive after doing so much driving the day before.  So I drove the car and we headed south 'towards the gorge', or so we thought.  We had looked it up on our phones the night before and thought we had a clue where we were headed.   We thought it was about 13.5 miles south of Taos.... 

The sun has already setting.  The sky was on fire.  Never in my life have I seen a sunset like this one.  It encompassed  the entire sky, 360 degrees around you.  It did not matter if you were looking west or east.  There were enough fluffy clouds to reflect colors in all directions.   As we drove my mouth was hanging open.  I wished I could stop and take some shots and just enjoy the view.   I was also starting to worry that we were not headed in the right direction.  

Finally we checked Google Map and it spun and spun not picking up a signal.  I know how we were meant to be headed in the direction we took.   We had maneuvered our selves into a open plain surrounded by distant mountain ranges, far enough away to open the entire sky to view.  We were on a high point looking up, down and around at a bowl of open sky.  The sunset was so fierce that we pulled over and got out of the car.  Google map finally told us we were now 23 miles away from the gorge and heading in the wrong direction.  Yet this fire sunset was our destination it seemed.  As clear as the GPS saying you have arrived at your destination I knew we had arrived and would go no farther.  

The boys were asking questions and me and my husband just stood there with our mouths hanging open.  I kept telling the boys how amazing this was and while they enjoyed the view it did not resonate with them the same as it did with me.  As they said "We are boys mom...."

The entire sky was on fire.  The peak of the sun going down the horizon was so brilliant it was almost hard to look upon.  The sun was saying, 'I am going down but here is something to remember me by.'  The reflection of the light all around the entire circumference of our vision kept changing in colors from golds to pinks, purples, blues and reds.  The pictures can hardly do it justice.  

So what did all this fire mean.  I closed my eyes and felt the power of the sun that shows this incredible energy even when moving on to another area to spread daylight. No matter what happens the energy of the sun continues to flow, unconditionally, faithfully, bathing all in it's path with life and then leaving the night to rest and heal before the next day begins.   

The sun shows a powerful, even, gentle yet fierce pressure towards its path and keeps it's energy flowing.  I  connected this to life, we push towards goals and expectations with fits and starts that drain or recharge at times. To have that even, unconditional flow would smooth out some of life's paths.   The practice of yoga and meditation attempt to tap into that smoothness and calmness. 

Tapping into the energy of that sunset by enjoying the moment and the path instead of stressing over the outcome of our destination was freeing.  It was driven by powers much stronger than any goals or expectation.  I was loving the moment and at one with the flow of the fire.

That moment, a memory and feeling, so strong, can remind and inspire with strength and calm as needed.   The lesson of this element of fire was to feel peace with the path, the journey and the destination without need to fuel or stoke the ever present fire, just being energized and bathed in it and allowing the path to be.