A Tale of two orchids

I have no particular talent with plants. Sometimes I’m lucky. Other times not. But  I’ve developed a love for having orchids in my home. It started with Cymbidiums, those tall long leafed showy bursts of longitudinal color, that a friend turned me on to 20 years ago. Currently it’s the common strain of orchid I find at Whole Foods that fills the need. Generally they bloom for several weeks, and then go by. But over the past ten months or so, there’s been one that keeps on strutting its stuff, while its sister plant, which I got at exactly the same time and place, stands beside it, budless and bloomless. An orphan orchid. Barren. Sad. Alone.


With nothing to lose,  I decided to experiment. I moved them closer together so their branches were touching. I told them they were sister plants, and encouraged the bloomer to teach the non bloomer its tricks. I spoke to them about loving each other and sharing their gifts (the non bloomer had beautiful unblemished deep green foliage) as I moved my hands around them — the way my mother used to do with the shabbas candles on Friday nights— and advised them to bloom in tandem. A week later, I noticed tiny buds forming where none had gone before. And lo! I now see five new buds, growing larger each day

No Expectations

Encouraging this relationship took little effort, and the results have been amazing. I expected nothing. My only intention was to give them a chance, to see what would happen. And voila! Rebirth. Resurrection. And so forth.

Heaven knows why we’re so self-centered as to believe that this is it. That we’re the alpha and omega. The peak of the mountain. The star on the tree. With our logical minds leading the way, we play the game of life, only by by our limited rules. But suddenly, here’s living proof that the invisible world exists. That there’s stuff going on unaccounted for. Beyond our ken.


For, imagine, how it might be if we could rebud and rebloom like these orchids in whatever way we needed.. Perhaps we can. Perhaps all we need is someone to speak to us in loving tones, To remind us that we have the power, the gift, to repair and revive ourselves,—  to burst forth with new vitality. New life. Over and over again. And that this gifted magician is us. You and Me. Reclaiming ourselves in one endless loop of life.

* See my Face book page for photos

Here’s an image you may enjoy using to this end.

Close your eyes and breathe out one time. Imagine yourself as the gifted magician. See and sense your power  to co-create new life, know this power is sparked by loving words and grateful thoughts. See what needs revitalizing, both in yourself and others. Speak words of loving encouragement, and express the gratitude that is called for.  See these words and thoughts manifest as light that emanates from your heart. Notice what happens. Then breathe out and open your eyes.

Sparks, Spirit, and Wealth

What if there were a completely new way to relate to wealth, a way that says it’s already yours, its already been given ─ that all you need do is be here with it and engage? No pressure. No worry. Just presence and gratitude, and living your life day by day, with meaning, purpose and respect.

The Ba’al ShemTov tells us:

Within each person’s possessions, wealth, and property lie divine spiritual ‘sparks’ that relate to the very root of his soul. These ‘sparks’ are the vitality that sustains each physical entity. And this entity [person, animal, plant, etc.] would not exist without the Divine energy within, which gives it its reason for being. Thus, everything that comes your way − your wealth, possessions, food, clothing and property – is a preordained indication that these sparks relate to, and signify your soul.

 In this way, right at the beginning, each of us is given an allotment of divine sparks, in order for us to elevate both these sparks and ourselves, and to channel this divine energy toward a higher purpose, so we can realize the mission of our soul.

Okay. Before you say too esoteric, too out there, too much for me to deal with, stop for a moment. Let’s assume that the Ba’al ShemTov (aka the Besht, the founder of the Hasidic movement) was playing with a full Deck. That he knew something we yearn to, but don’t. At least not yet. And what he knew went light years beyond money, power, and what you can get, have, hold onto, and keep. (i.e., “the Trappings” ─ the stuff you think you can’t live without, that the even the thought of losing makes you want to beat your breast and bemoan your fate). 

What the Besht knew, and wanted us to know too, is that it’s about going beyond the hard core material stuff, the baser metals of our nature, and elevating ourselves so we can connect with our divine energy. And that our connection to the sacred is real and relevant to our daily life — A life where we can actualize these sparks, and release this abundance of inner wealth and make it sing. And how once we do this our soul’s mission is “Realized!” * 

Should you choose to dive into this wondrous world and acknowledge it as a blessing already given, what would you be left with to worry about, to fear, resist, get depressed about or get sick over? How would it be to keep your heart open, let go of your doubt, and accept  divine wealth as a form of “what already is.” Of what’s already here.

Why not give it a try — Or a run for its money, should you be so inclined? You may be surprised and pleased at how the universe responds. What a kick. What a worthwhile investment, don’t ya think?

To create an exchange relationship with the divine sparks of prosperity, and to elevate them to their sacred place and purpose in your inner and outer worlds, practice the following image for the next 21 days.:

 Nurturing the Divine Sparks

Close your eyes and breathe out three times.

See and sense the divine sparks of prosperity that are born of the root of your soul.

Know and live your mission to nurture and elevate these sparks of spirit.

See and feel these sparks channeling their energy to fulfill their higher purpose. and to help you realize your soul’s dream.

See what happens and how you feel. Then return and open your eyes.

* * *

*Also: Most of us envision a spreadsheet of life where it all adds up; we get annoyed and frustrated when according to us it doesn’t. But it’s the great ones’ job to make us uncomfortable with our logical explanations and obvious stories. And it’s up to us to use this discomfort to nurture the sparks and to cultivate the hidden until becomes manifest.

The Perilous Path of the Virtual Life

A 13 year old with a blog (a blogette, a blogetteer?) was recently on The Late Show with David Letterman. She has already become a multi-million dollar fashion-phenom and shows no signs of slowing down. For her this is normal. At 13 she has reached the heights.

Okay. Children grow up fast now. They were 9 last week. This week they are 32. And 32 is “old.” I look at them and think What happened? When do they do their homework? Eat. Sleep. Play− And live what we used to call real life?

Kids barely into their teens are wizards of commerce. People in their 20′s are ruling ‘the world of the future, and the future is Now! Writing blogs, running websites, making what they claim to be millions, and spouting slickly packaged spiritual wisdom that makes my head spin

When I look at all this hyped up expertise I wonder what’s the the lineage, the core, the foundation? A friend of mine who has the whole package (the website, the success, the lineage) says “There is none.” He may well be right.

This virtual world has spawned the phenomenon of “virtual experts” along with “virtual spirituality.” And I question whether people are interested in knowing the difference between what’s real and true and what’s not.

It took me decades to begin to know what I know, and way more important, to know what I don’t know.  But knowledge has become “know-how.” Wisdom has become Wizardry. And the Wizards are busy taking over the planet. Okay, I get it. The world has changed. But what happens when it’s for the worse? When wisdom and spirit get replaced by greed (aka Virtual Magic). And folks wake up one morning to find they, and the world around them, are lacking humility, humanity, wonder, and space to just be.

These twirling dervishes think they’ve discovered a short-cut. That we can narrow our focus and surf the surface — what lies beneath, beyond, or within doesn’t matter. That we can dive in and act as if we know what we’re doing and we are who and what we propose to be, and if we believe it there’s a pretty good chance that others will believe it too!

And the virtual music can keep on playing. And we can all keep dancing the virtual dance. And no one, or at least only a few, will ever emerge from the trance long enough to notice or know the difference.

But what people don’t know is that the short-cut is merely a “false-cut.” That no matter how many millions the uber-kids make or how many thousands follow them on Twitter or Facebook or Linked- in, we are here to Spiritualize our everyday life. Not just to materialize it. And that there can be no real joy in sacrificing one for the other, no matter what the virtual gods tell us is possible.

Lean In, Lean Out, Lean Up – Deconstructing the Sheryl Sandberg Saga

 It didn’t take long for hot gazillionaire guru Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,” to become the latest mass media road map for today’s women on how to navigate the race to the top, young children in tow, with the support and encouragement of a husband or partner who has your back, doesn’t complain, and is fine about sharing in 50% of the “home”work, while you move forward and up.

So far, Sheryl (I hope she doesn’t mind us being on a first name basis − she can call me Fran) occupies her COO seat with what looks to be ease and grace. Indeed, it appears that she was born to it, so easily and naturally does she fill its contours. And while she runs Facebook, and lives the life of her dreams, she has chosen to write this manual of ambition in which she shares her personal strategy for how to live the big life and get what you want and deserve, especially, and even if, you are a woman, mother, wife, without fearing whether others like you or not.  And now, here she is, in 60 Minutes prime time, ready to teach you to do the same. Good for her. And I mean it.

But here’s the caveat:  You are not she and she is not thee. And no matter how much you “lean in” it is unlikely you ever will be. Truth be told, there is room for just one of each of us in this world, so instead of modeling yourself after Sheryl, it might be wise to find your own inner role model. One who may want to “Lean Out, Sideways or even Up!

Life is an ongoing experiment. So before we start buying our Sheryl clothes (sexy, elegant, beautiful) and having the Sheryl hairdo (thick, shiny, pseudo-casual), and wearing the Sheryl high heels that provide those extra four inches to boost one’s stature, let’s step away from the table — the one she advises us to sit at — wait a bit and see what happens.

My question to you and me both is: How many times do we need to learn the same lessons − about drawing conclusions, about comparing ourselves to others, about wanting to have and be, more, better and different, or in this case, the same?

I believe in equality, opportunity and freedom for all to be whomever and whatever we choose. But does it really need to be about grasping and getting and holding on to? About being better, the best, and different? What if we did the Taoist thing, instead, where “The master does her work and walks away” −  Where we consider multi-tasking to be a lack of focus, while attending to just one thought, one person, one thing at a time, is considered sacred and precious.

What Sheryl Sandberg has achieved looms large and vibrates with today’s zeitgeist. But your mission and purpose in this life may be different. Your path may not be as straight (or as narrow). The Tao says “If it’s yours you can’t lose it.” So before you follow this current leader, be with the leader who brung you. For it’s never wise to violate your true nature. And no accomplishment, regardless of how impressive, could ever make that a worthy or fulfilling pursuit.

Money Talks

If money talks, what does it say? Does it tell you good things about yourself, your life, others, the world? Does it speak of possibility, comfort, generosity, healing and hope? Or does it whisper of lack and uncertainty, of doubt and of darkness even in the midst of light? Be honest with yourself for a moment. Take a look your beliefs about money  and whether those beliefs hold value or drag you down.

When I was a child my father had a fruit stand in downtown Manhattan, and as long as there were apples and grapes in winter, and cherries and peaches in summer (plus a few éclairs for desert), our plates ranneth over, our wealth remained unquestioned, our lives and stomachs were full.  A new pair of shoes, a dinner at the Saint James restaurant in Washington Heights, a double feature at the Loews (we called it the Loweeze) on 170th Street off Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, a skating lesson at Rockefeller Center when my dad was flush. We had no need for expensive trappings— life, just as we lived it, was enough.

I was 15 when the rug was yanked out from under us and we lost the fruit business. There were no dust bunnies, but there was also no stash. My uncle became our extended line of credit. His wife didn’t like it, but “C’est Levine.”

For an entire year my dad drove me to school each morning. He needed to start the day, get busy, get going, get out. He never complained. He acted like everything was fine. “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” was the family policy as we retained our semblance of normalcy.

Finally, he began again with a soda fountain in the north-east Bronx. We moved to a modest apartment on 236th and Matilda Avenue where we got it together and got by. Years later, after I was married and he was retired, I asked him how he did it. How he started over at sixty, got up at five each morning, returned home at ten-thirty at night, and worked six and a half days a week?

“Those were the best years of my life,” he said.

He loved the neighborhood and the kids who worked for him. He was proud of making the best egg creams and toasting the grilled cheese just right. He was delighted at living five blocks from work and never having to take the subway. Clearly, it wasn’t just about money.

Money is a spiritual system. Harnessing the Power of Money to our soul’s intention calls upon us to play the game of life at a higher level. What I learned from my dad is that this game has little to do with how much we have, but a lot to do with how we feel about it. That it’s not about what happens but how we choose to handle it. He knew that happiness is created from the inside out, and money is rarely the source. He put us on the high road. I thank him still.

After he retired he visited often. He came bearing strawberry shortcake, black and whites, the best rainbow cookies in town, and for old times sake, a couple of pounds of cherries. My children thought they had a wealthy grandpa. And in the ways that counted, indeed, they did.