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.