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.

Sisters

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.

Imagine

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.

The Talking Head

 

I am doing something I’ve rarely done before. Something simple and unremarkable. But for me it’s extraordinary. I’m talking to people I don’t know. To people I’ll probably never talk to again. To people with whom I have nothing in common besides our “Peopleness,” and our proximity. And it’s doing something for me, and to me that I would never expect. It’s making me feel lighter, more connected, less stressed out, happier!

It happens without my noticing. It sneaks up on me in the midst of  ordinary moments. It’s spontaneous. Not purposeful. Best of all, it makes me feel at home in that other part of the world. The part that‘s the way it’s “supposed” to be. Where we feel together, not separate. Flexible not defensive. Open, unafraid, relaxed,and at peace. It can happen for a second or two or for a couple of minutes, hardly more than that. It comes and goes fast— It’s a peek through the spirit curtain. A hole in the wall of loneliness.

What we hear and say is rarely memorable. Sometimes there’s a chuckle, or a moment of clarity. Sometimes not. But what’s always there, both present and real, is a sense of kindness. Of caring. Of aliveness. Of real people talking with no hidden agenda. With no need to explain, defend or justify what’s said. Nothing more is required. Just a few words between fellow travelers in this difficult and uncertain world, and the day is transformed, becoming Worthy. Worthwhile. Golden. 

Too bad there’s no way to know this except by finding it our for ourselves.

 

 

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Practical Magic: Honor Your Weakness

During a recent dinner with family, my goddaughter’s boyfriend asked me if I do this often. “Do what?” I said. “Have dinner with a group,” he said.

The fact is that I don’t. I rarely have meals with more than two people. This was an exception. But family dinners and going out to eat with groups of friends is, indeed, a part of many people’s lives, as it once was of mine. To him this must seem strange, while to me it’s “normal.”  Not strange at all. A choice that I honor and respect.

I admit I’m a bit of a hermit; an extroverted introvert, somewhat shy, with a preference for more time to myself that not.  With the passing of years, I’ve  decided this is fine, that I’m okay with me the way I am. That If I don’t like big parties I don’t need to attend. If having dinner with eight or ten people feels overbearing, I don’t have to do it.  If I go to a gathering and find no common ground with others, I don’t bother to work the room, I sit by myself and relax. Or I leave. Some might call this behavior antisocial.  Let them. It’s no one’s business but my own.

A woman I know who shares this trait of shyness has been trying to get rid of it for years. When we last met I suggested that instead of resisting and renouncing her shyness she honor it. Give it some space. And make this honoring a daily practice. Quite the reverse of judgmental self improvement. She liked the idea. We’ll see how it goes.

In “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee,” author/ psychologist, Wendy Mogel says,”Your child’s weakness can become his greatest strength.” That the quality that embarrasses, annoys, or angers us in our children, that we try to constrain, hide, damp down, eliminate, can be the source of their becoming unique, and resilient human beings. What’s so wonderful about Mogel’s theory, is that the same goes for us as adults.

People are different. What’s fine for one of us may be anathema to another. We forget that we each bring the meaning to whatever goes on in our lives. We mistake this for that by making up stories about the way we should be so we can fit inside the box, conform to the profile,  be what others propose is okay. But is it really?

What if it’s time to stop, take a breath, and make our leap from the false voice of our shoulds and oughts, to that other realm of peace, freedom, and ownership of who we truly are, and what we came here to be and do. I believe it’s not just possible, it’s something we owe ourselves.  An option we can’t afford to ignore.

Here’s something you can do each day to further this possibility in yourself and in your life:

The Honoring Process

1.  Observe your weakness without thinking about it.

2.  Say “Yes” to it, and make no judgment.

3. Ask what you can learn from it. Or what it has come to teach you.

4. Let it go and move on.

Practice this for 21 days and see what happens.

Dream Girl: This Is It

At thirteen I dreamed of being a star. At twenty-one, I was teaching fourth grade in the South Bronx, shielding my head from the chair being thrown at me by one of my lesser fans. At that moment I knew for certain I had hit bottom without a glimmer of fame or stardom in sight.

Instead of becoming a glamorous actress I had become a terrified teacher. When this proved more dangerous and less rewarding than I had hoped, I decided to get married. So much for the gauzy Technicolor dreams I’d grown up on.

But there were plenty of less grandiose dreams to come, dreams that seemed to pan out, but often with a downside that left me wondering. Like the glass coffee table I had to have. The one that would make my life complete. It fulfilled its promise for a month or two, then became invisible. Another object to dust. A danger zone for my year old son who tumbled off the sofa one morning as I vacuumed, and despite the padded cover I had made to prevent infant injuries, hit his head on one of its perfectly beveled edges.

His bright red blood was everywhere. It sent me screaming through the hallway, banging at my neighbors’ doors until someone opened up and called the pediatrician while I stood with a towel wrapped around his head, praying that he would survive. He did. And I am grateful. But the fact that this object of my desire had so betrayed me (the table not the child) set the tone for other disappointments – dreams come true that often managed to show a less savory side once my guard was down or their time was up. Who knows which?

The glass table was emblematic. A pink cashmere sweater, an oversized house on a hill, a prized position at a famous medical center, a well published book, all hypnotized me into believing that the “Magical Thingdom,”* held the key to my happiness. It did me in again and again. But I was far too focused on “the way life should be” to notice.

At my lowest, while I was working a job, cold calling merchants in White Plains to get them to advertise in the weekly paper, I looked to another bit of magic called Est * ― a consciousness raising event (forerunner of The Landmark Forum and whatever it has currently morphed into) that blasted my reality to bits. I still recall the moment when after two weekends of mass hysteric group brain-washing, with people vomiting, crying and pulling their hair out over the pain of their past, the cute trainer guy in the blue crew-neck sweater who repeatedly promised us we’d “get it,” shared the secret to the mystery of life:

“This is it!” he said as I waited to hear the 11th commandment that would transform my world.

Impossible! How could “This” be “it” when I thought “That” was “it?” This so called “it” proposed that the way things are right here, right now is all there is and was the opposite of my own “IT,” which focused on dreams of the future (aka more, better and different).

I hated his “it” so I went home, crawled into bed, pulled the covers over my head, and stayed there for thirty-six hours. For the next several years I hid out inside my head. Then I moved to Vermont where I stacked wood, shoveled snow, and learned to love my new life but not the black flies. There was no aha moment. Just a slow infusion of the universal antidote to fantasy living: Truth and presence.

Okay, I “get it.” Living the life of my dreams begins with living the life that’s happening now. Happy or sad, difficult or easy, the way it “should” be, turns out to be the way it already is. Especially in times of painful circumstances, this stance is a challenge. But there’s gold in them there hills, and it’s worthwhile for us to mine it.

What a fine cause for celebration. What a a peculiar and remarkable relief.

Try this exercise to experiment with “This is it.”

Practical Magic*

With your eyes open, exhale through your mouth one time and look around you. See something you usually see (a photo, a lamp, your cat, your child), then zoom in on it and find something beautiful, new, or interesting about it that you haven’t noticed before. See what happens and notice how you feel.

*This exercise is adapted from the “What Is It,” technique created by Dr. Lydia Craigmyle whose work has inspired and centered me in my life.

*In Latin est. means “it is.”

* The Magical Thingdom is an expression coined by Dr. Gerald Epstein