The Mythos of Moving

Last week I hired a moving organizer. Who knew such a thing existed? She tells me what to do and I do it. I”ve deputized her as my guide, handed over my authority. And I’m more than okay with that. Happy even. With everything in flux, I need structure, lists, handwriting I can understand, someone else in charge, and a sense that everything will be alright.

Moving jitters is new to me. When I moved from the colonial in New Rochelle, I had two children who hated the idea of leaving their home. They obstructed progress at every turn. Even while they slept. There was a basement full of junk and an attic full of treasures. There were more closets than I could count to divest. There was a tag sale to run. An interim dwelling to find.  A school to choose for my 15 year old daughter. And a home inspection that didn’t go as well as I hoped. Yet I remained undaunted.

I spoke to the house. Yes, I actually did that. I said it needed to let me go. That I could feel it holding me back. That I knew it loved us, and that we loved it, along with its friendly ghost, stained glass windows, three fireplaces and wrap around porch, but our time there was done. I was house poor and craved a place where I didn’t have to bundle myself in blankets to keep warm in the winter, and beg my daughter to help me clean three floors of stuff I didn’t need. It was time. No. It was time and a half.

I did it myself. No moving organizer. Just took the leap and got us out. Afterwards, I dreamed of that house for years. Perhaps I still do.

Five years later I moved to Vermont. Picked up one day, packed my suitcase, my checkbook, and my favorite pillow, and headed up Route 100 to Killington where after a two month test drive I decided to stay, build a new life, and live with nature instead of concrete. I didn’t over-think it, or worry, or get nervous. I wasn’t scared that I didn’t know a soul, and had no job. Somehow it felt right. And it was all good. For nine years it stayed that way, until I knew it was time to go. There was an office and a house to pack. I got help from my daughter, and my friends, and once again, did it mostly on my own.

But it’s different now. Possibly because I’m older. 18 years adds up. And it feels like this road has been traveled a few times more than I’d like.

Today I spoke with the Dinosaur, my internist who claims he doesn’t belong in this world (that’s why we call him the Dinosaur). We spoke about moving. He said he moved so many times while he was in the army that he he knew he could live anywhere. I’m not there yet. I can’t do the “live anywhere” thing. It’s not even that easy for me to live in a place that I like, but I consider the source and accept the wisdom.

When I moved into the apartment where I now live, the one I’m leaving behind with both relief and regret, I brought my cat home from my daughters place where we’d been staying the past nine months, and sat down on the  floor of my living room. She circled me several times (the cat not the daughter),  jumped on my lap, put her paws around my neck and hugged me fast and tight. She was home and she knew it. I would like to be able to do that too. To jump into my lap and know that I’m safe home. Finally. Without packing even a single dish. If I could, I would do it now. Tonight. Or tomorrow at 6am. Even 5:30. Beam me up Scotty. I’m ready. Take me before I change my mind, before I decide it’s too much trouble, and wind up staying.

The mythos of moving is complex. It means many things to many people. It opens doors and closes them. We gain and we lose. But 40,000,000 people in this country do it every year. Most survive. I hope I’m one of them.

The following image is meant to assist you in letting go, taking the leap and moving on to a new place in your life.

Taking the Leap

Close your eyes, exhale one time, and see yourself taking the leap. See sense and feel how it is to leave behind the past, And move joyfully into your new life. See, and sense how in this life you are growing new, golden roots that reach deep into the earth. Know and live how these roots are supporting and sustaining you. Imagine that you’re embracing this new life.  And know that you are home. Then breathe out and open your eyes.

Let It Snow

It’s snowing in New York City. Again!

Wait. It just stopped. Or did it? I am sick and tired. Literally. What else can I do but complain? Who wants to listen? No one!

I make it a habit to look on the bright side. Wait a minute. I’m still looking. There must be something good to say. I’m thinking. Okay. I’ve got it.

The heat in my building is actually working. They can’t get here for the umpteenth time to repair the boiler, which doesn’t seem broken to me, so the hot water is on instead of off. It’s deep-quiet outside. No horns blaring. No trucks idling. No drills drilling. The old City University building stands ghost like, across the street, swathed in netted scaffolding, waiting to be torn down to make way for a high-rise condo, and the work has been indefinitely postponed. The power is on all over town. The streets are being cleared, proudly directed by the neophyte mayor. There’s enough food to last me until tomorrow.  I’m not eating much anyway. And the best part – for a moment it seems like time stands still. And who couldn’t use some of that?

It’s snowing, as well, out at Stony Brook, Long Island, where my brother-in-law, Daniel, my friend, my witness, my last link to my family history – to my beloved parents and sister – to my personal past, has just been taken off a respirator and has begun to breathe on his own. And to see, and respond, and show signs of life.

It’s my niece’s Birthday. She’s driving through the snow to the hospital to see her father. She will get there because that’s who she is and what she does. She’s his rock. He says she likes to boss him around. There are many bosses in this family. All with their own style and expertise. I’m putting my money on the biggest Boss of all. In every situation, at every moment, it’s the best any of us can do . . .

If there is someone (including yourself) who is in need of a heroic intervention, use the following imagery exercise. It offers power, faith, beauty and connection, from both above and below:

Hands of God

Intention: To ask for guidance, protection and clarity in times of need, danger, or difficulty. To develop awareness of, and connection with, the Shekinah (the feminine presence of God).

Close your eyes and breathe out three times. See before you a cone of light descending from above. Know that you are in the revealed presence of the Shekinah

Go into this sacred space and say a brief prayer for what it is you want or need.*Say “Thy will be done.” Then see, sense and feel yourself , or the person for whom you are praying, being lifted up by the Hands of God.

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Lost On Long Island

My blog just went down the rabbit hole on my ipad. Gone! Kaput! I’ve been sick for almost three weeks. I’m moving in a couple of months and I need to do a million things, but none of them are getting done: Instead they’ve become my undoing. Why pretend it’s okay when it’s not?

A wise friend once said “Detachment is an ongoing life preserving function. We’re kept alive by heaven.” This advice guides my life and prompts me to let it all go. Usually it works. But right now I’m having a hard time. We’re taught to hold on tight, to grasp, not to let go. But it all keeps on going and going and going, whether we like it or not.

In an HBO documentary called Hard Times: Lost on Long Island,” director Marc Levin introduces us to four families living the good life in the suburbs of this New York extension. But it’s the worst of times: it’s 2008, and suddenly we see them lose everything: careers, homes, community, even life. It’s a devastating look at today’s world, and how we live in it. Even more devastating is that it’s not just about them, its about us. The us we all know and live with each day. The us that sticks its head in the sand of those fine Long Island beaches, and fears that this great loss could actually happen. And for these four families it does.

They all scramble and look for work. Some fall apart. Some wind up in bankruptcy. One man dies from a virus he contracts while cleaning out his basement to prepare for foreclosure. What went wrong? They studied hard. Did well in school. Got their degrees, bought homes, paid the mortgage, had families, and enjoyed the comforts of a middle class existence. This was not supposed to happen but it did. And It could happen to anyone. When I was a teenager it happened to us.

We lost it all. Not that we had that much, but whatever we did have, was suddenly gone. My dad lost his business. When we ran through our savings my uncle stepped up and paid our rent. My aunt complained, but this was non-negotiable. So she took a step back and went out shopping for another mink cost.

My father started again in foreign territory;  the farthest corner of the northeast Bronx, on 236th street and White Plains Road, where for seven days a week he stood behind the counter of his fountain and stationary store, making egg creams, milk shakes, and hot fudge sundaes. He earned just enough to keep us going. We had plenty of ice cream and not much money,  yet life went on. Even though my mother was ill and they must have been scared to death, they never complained. They watched Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights in the living room of our dark and cramped new apartment, and chose contentment over fear and acceptance over anger.

Years later, when I was married with two kids, and my dad was living alone on his veteran’s pension and a small social security check, he would visit, bearing boxes of rainbow cookies and strawberry shortcake.  My children thought they had a rich grandpa. After all, he brought fancy bakery cakes, while I fed them Oreos and Mallomars..

I asked him how he managed to do it. Leave a familiar, comfortable existence, old neighbors and friends, the life he had created over so many years, while starting over in his late fifties, working seven days a week until 10 at night right up into his seventies.

He said “Those were the best days of my life.”

He loved making chocolate egg creams. He loved the customers coming by to chat. He loved when everyone, even the kids, called him Sam. He forgot about the Broadway shows and fancy restaurants. We lived more simply. He had come from humble beginnings. And for him, not only was it enough, it was all the same..
But in today’s world we expect more not less. The folks who lost out on Long Island, lost their sense of meaning and purpose along with their homes and their bank accounts. For if they were not this house, this job, this way of life, who were they?

 

What’s most disturbing about the film goes beyond it’s sense of loss and victimization, its the shadow of middle class expectation and entitlement that shrinks possibility and denies that there might be another way of life. That when the seasons change and the bounty ebbs instead of flows, the families flounder in such darkness and misery that they fail to see a way forward. Yes, they are good people who try hard. Very hard. But they can’t accept the loss as anything but a death knell of the only life they believe they can possibly live.

That we always do better is part of the American dream, and were proud of it. Except that the higher on the ladder we climb, the steeper and harder the fall, and the less we’re prepared to bounce back up.

At the end there’s a scene at the memorial service for Dr. David Hartstein, a chiropractor, who contracts Hantavirus, a rare rodent borne disease while cleaning his basement in his Montauk home a few days  before it’s scheduled to foreclose. Dr. Hartstein was deeply depressed. In losing his home he had lost himself. But our Immune systems don’t take kindly to this. They want us to keep saying yes to life. No matter what.

As I watched the hundreds of neighbors and friends gather at his memorial service, I wanted to ask, where were you before he died? Perhaps they were there but I just didn’t see them. Perhaps the director chose not to show them. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. And perhaps nothing and no one could have prevented this tragedy. But think for a moment. If instead of creating a fund to support the family after David Hartstein’s death, the community had created a fund to support his family while he was still alive — he might have leapt across the dark abyss, or at least backed away from it’s edge. Part of this tragedy is that we’ll never know.

For developing the unlimited resilience that it takes to live in this uncertain world, you might choose to use the following images:

 The Resilience Series

The Intention is to to develop resilience. Use the exercises one after the other, quickly, breathing out between each exercise to make a separation and space. You may choose to use these separately, as well.

 Close your eyes and breathe out one time through your mouth.

Imagine you become as a tree in a storm. Feel your branches and leaves blowing. Sense and know how to stay strong yet bend with the wind. Breathe out one time.

Imagine that you are struggling to survive in a stormy sea. Go down to the bottom and sit there until the water becomes calm, while breathing in the light that comes from above.Then rise to the surface and float safely to the shore. Breathe out one time.

Imagine you are confronting a wild animal. Find a way to deal with this, knowing anything is possible.Notice what happens and how you feel. Breathe out one time

Imagine yourself as a golden ball. See yourself bouncing. Bounce as high or far or wide as you want to go. Feel how it is to be unfettered, free, fearless, and light. Then return and slowly open your eyes.

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