Friday, December 31, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
A big THANK YOU to all who took the time to send me an email or leave a comment on the blog about my purchase of Poppyfield Bead Company. It is clear that Poppyfield means a lot to many people. I relish each message and really look forward to meeting you. I cannot respond to each message right now, because I am just preoccupied with the details involved in this transaction.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Poppyfield Bead Company, my long time seed bead source was closing. Margo Field, the owner, and a master seed bead artist, was ready to retire. On Wednesday, she sent out a one sentence announcement, and within minutes I was at the shop offering to buy it.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
My biology teacher, Mrs. Karasik, showed me that when the microscopic organism, the hydra, is ready, little buds form on its surface. The buds separate from the parent and become their own hydra selves. My blog has budded. It's time.
Beadfingers came into being to bring me into the online community of bead artists like myself. It was my toe in the water for showing my work, and discussing my craft. However, almost as soon as I started blogging, my writing changed. Now I post less about beading and more about life and my own healing. My readers have encouraged me to keep on, go deeper, and share more. Yikes! I am doing that.
A new blog has budded off. It is called Sticks Stones Words Bones. I hope to journey deeper there. All are welcome to join me. I've posted today about a tough topic in a personal way. It is called "Driving Through Freeport".
If you are interested in my bead art you can find it here. I am giving Beadfingers back to beading. Stay tuned for more beaded delights."
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I recently spent 17 consecutive days with my two children. The last time this happened was when my 7 year-old daughter was 18 months. At that time, my husband and I separated, and then divorced. We were awarded joint custody and our children have been moving back and forth between the two homes ever since. My son, who is 11, set up his own blog last week to write about his life as a child of divorce. His expression of the pain and joy of his life inspires me to face my own.
My marriage was rough and so was our divorce. After the separation, my emotions came with such ferocity that even my house seemed too small to contain them. I used an old familiar friend, alcohol, to cope. It worked for a while, and then it didn’t. At that time, I was not a good mother. I was impaired and full of shame. With help, I was able to quit drinking. From the day I put down the bottle in 2005, I have used the time that my children are away from me to focus on my healing and rebuild myself and my life. I have not taken a drink since.
My son writes about the unrelenting pain of moving back and forth between 2 loving homes. He is always moving and always missing the other parent. His language is simple and clear. How he copes is the mystery. I have coped by telling myself that the time that my children were with their dad was a blessing to my recovery. I found relief in the idea that I couldn’t handle long- term consecutive parenting. My story was that despite the pain of separation from them, I needed the breaks when they would leave. Perhaps early on, this was true. But this trip together revealed the lie.
Normally, our lives are dominated by the rhythm of separation and transitions. On this recent trip, it was the rhythm of life. In those 2 ½ weeks together the weave of our family tapestry tightened. We learned about each other, grew closer and strengthened our bonds. Love flowed. There was little solitude, lots of joy, and lots of compromise. My partner, Henri, my children, and I rode the waves of life in unison. We dealt with the ripple effect of bad moods, mishaps, and illness together. Each of us found time to be alone, recover from the stress of life, and reunite. I saw that today I make good choices, my intuition is right on, and I am a really good mother.
My son’s blog is called Divorce: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. As the mother I want to see the good, accept the bad, and not contribute to the ugly. Here is my prayer:
Let me turn the pain and loss over my children into something useful for us and for others. Let me accept my feelings, live healthy, and rest, so that I can be right there with them. Let me use the knowledge that they will be leaving shortly, to make the most of our time together. Let me nourish them, cherish them and never take them for granted. Let me feel the sacred bond that their father and I share. Let me continue to put them first when it comes to their dad, and not wage war. Let my love for my children and my faith in spirit guide me to respond always with love and compassion. Let my own healing inspire their healing of the split that dominates their lives. Amen.
Monday, July 12, 2010
There’s also a lot of developed tourism and a lot of transplanted “locals” from the continental US. I had no expectation to penetrate the Hawaiian culture in a two-week stay visiting beaches and staying on the tourist track. However, by day #2, a mild mishap brought an unexpected cultural experience and exactly the kind of Hawaiian lesson my life needed.
After our first day of chores and stocking our condo we were exhausted and jet lagged and ended up in bed without ever making it to the ever-present beach. But on day #2 we went to the wonderful Kamaole III, a popular public beach in Kihei. It is a stretch of golden sand with smooth black lava rock jutting out like bookends on both sides. The sky is vast and off to the west it meets the blue ocean in a small bowl formed by the sloping edges of the island of Molokai and the mountains of West Maui. Every night the giant orange orb of the sun sets down and slips below the horizon right in this bowl. Between the road and the beach is a grassy park overlooking the sea, with grills, a playground and showers. There are always native Hawaiian families gathering here. The weekends are particularly lively with large extended families cooking, eating, laughing and playing.
With the enthusiasm and awkwardness of the land-locked creatures we’d become, we overloaded our car with boogie boards, coolers, snorkel equipment, chairs and beach umbrellas for 4, and drove to this park, just yards from our condo. Covered in our gear, we schlepped down to the beach and set up our site. After all this, the ocean was finally ours. We ran into the water with glee and accidentally took our rental car key in with us. Remember when keys were made of waterproof metal? Realizing we had overlooked this one minor detail, we went to check on the computer chip function. Clicking “unlock” no longer opened our car. However, I learned there is an old-fashioned key hidden inside. We used that to open our door, and it worked! Unfortunately, the alarm started sounding and would not stop.
Suddenly we became very aware of our surroundings. A pit bull club was meeting just next to the parking lot with about 20 dogs leashed to stakes and their proud owners chatting it up. Three very large Hawaiian men were drinking beer and cooking meat on a grill about 15 feet from our car. There were birthday parties with inflatable jumpers. Gatherings of Hawaiian families with dark-skinned wizened faces, diapered toothless babies, and every age in between were just yards away from the obnoxious siren and flashing lights of our vehicle. Ready to jump in and drive away to spare the others, we found that the car would not start. We were stuck being annoyances, and we’d only just arrived.
In New York, where I’d grown up, the response would have been snarls and sneers and, “SHUT THE F*** UP!!” I once knew someone in Manhattan who keyed up a BMW with the words “Die Yuppie Scum” because it alarmed repeatedly and kept him awake. There isn’t a lot of tolerance for this kind of inconvenience and irritation. People become easily enraged when other’s problems impose on them.
But at our public beach none of this happened. We dealt with the rental car company and various towing companies over the next 5 hours. It resulted in the car alarm going off 5 different times for several LONG minutes each. Eventually a tow truck brought us a new car. During this time, we got a dose of Aloha Spirit.
First, the lady with the most pit bulls approached us, offering her cell phone and trying to help us turn off the alarm. When it finally stopped on its own, the 100 people within earshot applauded with giant smiles. When it alarmed the second time, one of the men grilling closest to our car brought us a plate of steak he had just cooked. As the hours passed we were offered beer, soda, and water. More plates of food were brought to us. We were invited to a baptism celebration and given shade under someone’s canopy. The patriarch of one family sat with us for a couple of hours sharing about his family and about Hawaiian life in general.
Our repeated apologies were repeatedly dismissed. People stopped looking up when the alarm sounded. When it stopped they cheered good-naturedly. I shared my experiences in New York with George, the patriarch. He laughed off the idea of being rude to people in our situation. “I guess you are experiencing Aloha Spirit,” he said.
I knew I had caught it on July 4th. We planned a dinner out in Lahaina, West Maui and then watching fireworks. We left ourselves plenty of time. However, our waitress was very upset and distracted. When she finally arrived to take our order she was tearful and just barely keeping herself together. We gave the order and waited. While people were being served around us, and those who arrived after were already finishing their meal we became more agitated. Our waitress was nowhere. It had been over an hour. Our children were going to miss the fireworks. As we got up to leave, hungry and angry, our food arrived. It had been hastily thrown together. Our waitress apologized for forgetting to put in the order during her meltdown. I saw in her face my own embarrassment that Sunday at Kamaole III.
A few moments later, we heard the kaboom of the fireworks and the kids and Henri tore out to the road to race towards a view. I found our waitress to pay the bill. The food had been terrible and we’d had no time to eat. She looked at me squarely, “I am so so sorry. It’s been my worst night here in 5 years.” I remembered the grilled steak, the shade of the canopy, and George’s smiles of Aloha. I put my hand on her shoulder, and passed on that same smile, “Everyone has a bad day. Don’t worry about it. It is really not a big deal. Give yourself a break. We are fine, really.” “Thank you so much,” she replied with a look of great relief.
Hawaii is paradise, they say. I did have a spiritual communion with nature on the beach. I let the ocean rock me and the sun warm my soul. Through my snorkel mask I saw unimaginable creatures, colors, tendrils and tentacles. I felt the power of beauty and the mysterious creative force all around us. I saw my children freckled, innocent, and open to the world, splashing in the surf and rolling in sand. I felt the love of my dear partner dancing along with me. But, back in my desert home just a few days later the air is different and the memories are already fading. The sound of the surf, the orange orb, white caps and salt water seem very far away. What lingers is the Aloha Spirit. It is a message of peace and interconnection, gentleness, compassion and respect for others and for all of nature. Thank you, George. Mahalo.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I had a flare of Obsessive – Compulsive Disorder after my son was born. I didn’t know I had a mental illness, I just knew I was losing my mind; But only mildly so. I was a good and loving mom to my baby. I went back to work as physician and did a good job there too. But, while I was pumping my milk and multi-tasking, I was feeling my neck for sprouting cancers. I avoided the outdoors, lest I be stung by a bee and die. I couldn’t look at peanut butter as it might cause anaphylaxis. I held my breath in my garage, in case of Hantavirus mouse droppings. I thought my husband would give me AIDS. It didn’t matter that I am not allergic to bees or peanuts and that my husband was HIV negative. I knew I was irrational, so I tried to ignore myself. I went mountain biking and hiking and planned my next child. But I was miserable with anxiety that bubbled just under my skin. I got into a fight with my husband because he wanted me to eat a wild berry.
My son’s babysitter was a religious woman from rural Mexico. With my family far away, she was one of the few maternal figures I had in New Mexico. We spent a lot of time in my kitchen talking about our lives. She also tended toward anxiety. I asked her once how she handled flying in airplanes, something that had become scary for me. She said she trusted in God. I wanted that. I wanted a loving God who would protect me. Even if he couldn’t, at least give me a God that I believed could. What I really wanted was Peace Of Mind. I didn’t know a thing about finding that. So I went looking for God.
I like being Jewish, so I looked in Jewish places. I started to attend Chabad services every Sabbath. Chabad is the outreach movement of a sect of Hasidic Jews who feel it is their mission to help other Jews become more religious. They have outposts all around the world, for Jews who live there, or who are just passing through. They follow the teachings of their deceased leader, or Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, who escaped Europe’s persecution of Jews, and died of old age in New York City in 1994. I figured I had a better chance of finding God with the Chabadniks, than with the Jews who prayed down the street and dressed like me, but didn’t keep kosher.
The Chabad mission to further my yiddishkeit or Jewishness was perfect fodder for the insatiable OCD gremlin in my head. I started to feel something strong take hold of me. I HAD to pray. Soon I had to pray better, and longer. I HAD to light Sabbath candles. Then, I HAD to make sure no one blew them out. I HAD to stop touching money on the Sabbath. I was compelled to these acts. If I didn’t do them someone would die. In life or death situations it is hard to be flexible. My husband was horrified as my religiosity and my rigidity increased sure and steady. The more anxious I became, the harder I looked for God.
Orthodox Judaism has a lot of rules. Members of this group find pride in following them. The mystical and spiritual side is less obvious to outsiders. Hasidic Jews believe that their leaders are channels to the divine. Week after week I would attend Sabbath services at the Chabad outpost. After the religious service, I would stick around for the luncheon. This is when I started to hear stories about the Rebbe’s Ohel, or tent.
The beloved leader “the Rebbe” is buried in a cemetery in Queens, in New York City. I laughed when I heard this, because anyone who’s been to Queens knows that it seems like everyone is buried there. Endless rows of graves. One of them belongs to Menachem Schneerson. Apparently it is believed by many, that praying at the Rebbe’s grave is the closest thing to having God’s ear. Over a couple of years of Sabbath luncheons, I heard a handful of stories of miracles that occurred after a graveside prayer.
I mentioned this to my father who lives in New York. He is a very practical, rational, and grounded man, and only mildly religious. I was surprised to learn that he already knew about this place. In fact, his brother had prayed there. “Really?” “I want to go,” I said, hopefully. “On your next visit to New York, we’ll go.” He replied with the assurance of a deal just closed. I couldn’t believe it. My father would help me get God’s ear. At Chabad, they told me, “Be careful what you pray for, because it is going to come true.”
My dad arranged everything with a Chabad Rabbi he had met in NY (who turned out to be my local Rabbi’s uncle). My father had a client who also wanted to join. In honor of our trip to the Ohel, the client hosted us to breakfast that morning. The NY Rabbi Uncle picked us up in a very old and declining sedan at the very fancy Carlyle hotel, in Manhattan. He had a couple of other men with him who were happy for a ride to the Ohel. There we were: Three Hasids in matching overgrown brown beards, pasty-white skin, and poorly fitting black suits; two stylishly dapper middle aged men with silk ties, and one modestly dressed freckle-faced me.
The NY Rabbi Uncle maneuvered that jalopy as I thought only a city cab driver could. We zoomed from one borough to the next, over a bridge, and through narrow one-way streets with warehouses and defunct storefronts. Eventually, he stopped on a residential street and parked the car with confidence. Feeling like the new kid at school, I followed the others into an unassuming brick “house-like” building. It functioned as an antechamber to a very large area – that may have, in fact, been a giant tent. There were rows and rows of fold-up tables and chairs. Some people were milling about, others seated and writing. Based on their dress, I saw that some were Hasidic and some not. The space was still mostly empty. Clearly this was only a fraction of what the room had occupied and would again. I remembered seeing footage of the Rebbe leading gatherings, or fabringens, of thousands of his followers, who relished the opportunity to be in his presence and receive his wisdom. They had moved their fabringens from Hasidic Brooklyn to this Queens cemetery to be near their Rebbe.
We did a preparatory ritual hand washing and sat down to contemplate and write our prayers. I would ask for 2 things. I wanted my anxiety removed from me. I also wanted a child. I had been unable to get pregnant after 18 months of scientific “trying”. I didn’t dare ask for a girl, but I did request “healthy”.
As soon as I started writing my skin began to prickle. I became numb, and detached. I felt as if I were floating. When my peripheral vision started to blacken, I called out to the NY Rabbi Uncle. He pulled me out of that large room and quietly called for assistance. Several Hasidic men with bushy beards and black suits jumped up and came to my aid. My dad was there, a cup of water, a bench. My vision was clearing, but I was terrified. What had just happened? “What if God doesn’t want me to have what I am asking for? What if God thinks I am wrong for asking? Will God kill me?” The NY Rabbi Uncle looked at me with a piercing gaze that grabbed me firmly yet with compassion. His white skin seemed translucent and ephemeral and his blue eyes sparkled. From inside that brown forest of a beard his invisible lips said simply, “It doesn’t work that way. God is good. Ask.”
I finished writing. I followed the prescribed ritual. I removed my leather dress shoes and walked my stocking feet along a narrow concrete pathway to the grave. I lit a candle, and went to the women’s area. Others were there, with head-coverings and long sleeves, their lips moving in quiet fervor. I read my prayer in a whisper. And then, as is the custom, I tore it to shreds and let the pieces float onto the enormous pile of paper bits. I turned and left it in God’s Hands.
Back in the big room, I felt drained and fragile. At the NY Rabbi Uncle’s urging, I had some juice and a bagel. The Hasids caught a ride back to Brooklyn to get ready for the Sabbath. The NY Rabbi Uncle sped us back to Manhattan. I was relieved to be out of there. It was all too intense. But, if I had had God’s ear, it was definitely worth it. That night, I hoped I would have a sign. I did. I had a vicious panic attack, the worst ever. My friend was visiting and it came on suddenly. She saw me rocking, retching, and beyond help. It lasted for hours. I felt destroyed and utterly abandoned. This was God saying “No.” I would never be free of the terrors that haunted me. I wouldn’t get my baby girl. I should never have asked for what was never to be.
Years later I realized that I had misread that sign.