Monday, February 25, 2013

Feelings of Guilt

The other day, late morning I was walking through downtown Northampton and I passed a number of homeless people holding signs asking for help in one way or another.

As someone who grew up in NY and frequently visited NYC I was taught at an early age to smile and walk by.  This 'skill' was also useful when I traveled to other countries where poverty is much more common and begging on the street is frequent.  Have I become jaded to the needs of others?  Is this truly a skill or is it sad that I can just walk by and not react.  How much of this is wrapped in privilege? 

Well this week when I walked by, it was a time of day where there were not many people out and about so I was super conscious of what was going on around me and as I strolled down the street with my $4 chai in one hand and my yoga bag over my shoulder I had an overwhelming feeling of guilt.  Here I am thinking that I may struggle to pay my rent by summertime yet on occasion I can treat myself to a $4 chai.  I know that even though I am not working a full time job at the moment I am continually doing things to better myself and my situation and I am not sitting by and letting time just pass, I know this for me.  However this day more then ever I felt this guilt.

I shared this with some friends the other night and through processing I really think that my connection to this community makes me feel a deeper connection to the people in it even if we have never interacted.  As I walked by I wanted to know their story, to treat them to a cup of coffee and my empathy took over and I really wanted to understand their situation.  I do not know if it was fear or embarrassment but I did not stop and ask, I just kept walking by with my head hanging low.  What was the worse that could happen they tell me none of my business.  I hope to get over this and connect in someway to this very real part of my community.  

I am sure this is a story that others can relate to and I would love to hear how you have figured this out for yourself. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Night!

Tonight is the event of the year in my mind and I am always glad to share the evening with some good friends.  A night full of tears, jeers and maybe even a couple of beers!

"The Golden Globes are fun. The Oscars are

~Warren Beatty

And here is one of the best acceptance speeches given by Cuba Gooding Jr.:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I Choose Positivity

positivity becomes positivity

good comes from good

what you surround yourself with is what you will become

As cliche and starry eyed as those statements may seem I believe in all of them and if I really believe the last one then good positive things are in my future. 

This past week was Valentine’s Day, which I can certainly take or leave particularly this year since my retail gig involves working in a card department and it was like a zoo.  However, I saw love and such pure, raw goodness emerge for some who are near and dear to me.  So much love and good has surrounded me this week.  I got to hold a one day old baby, born to some amazing friends, I heard the news of other friends getting engaged and I feel so fortunate to be part of these people's lives, that I am included in their joy and good news particularly before it hits facebook (side note: this may be the new measure of real friendship)!

I believe that surrounding yourself with positivity serves to bring positivity into your life.  I have certainly had the contrary happen.  There have been times throughout my life when I have chosen to distance myself from people or end relationships because I knew that they were negative forces in my life.  As I have gotten older I try to be very intentional about the people I surround myself with and as I have written about a lot on this blog it is these people (my village) who have been a great, positive influence on me and have created a supportive space for me.   Now this is not to say that there are not bad days or that negativity never rears its ugly head; even through those moments I choose positivity.  Yes, I said it I choose positivity. I believe it is a choice and for all of the naysayers, for those who wallow, and believe nothing good can come.  I say choose.  Let the other things exist; the negative the bad, the sad.  Honor them, recognize them, even let them win sometimes and then choose.  Choose positivity. Choose how you react.  Choose your attitude.  Choose to see the good.  Choose who and what you surround yourself with. Choose to be happy.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Emergency Soup

When I left my job in September I very quickly entered crisis mode.  I was not sure about a lot of things including how I would pay my bills, when I would be working again and if I would be OK.  What I did know is that I had a farm share with Enterprise Farm that was paid off that would be providing me with vegetables until Thanksgiving.  I knew that I would have fresh veggies and this gave me a sense of comfort.  It was a little thing yet held such great meaning and significance in a time when everything was so up in the air.  Another part of this particular farm is that each week in addition to the regular vegetables you received you also have the opportunity to ‘pick your own’ vegetables from certain fields and in September the peppers were plentiful.  And I picked peppers, I picked them like they were my job, like my life depended on those peppers.  I figured out how to freeze them and have had peppers throughout the winter.

I also spent a lot of time making different varieties of soup and chili throughout the fall from the vegetables that I had.  I unintentionally (or maybe intentionally) did not label these soups, and packed my freezer full of them.  I call these my emergency soups, and throughout the winter I have been able to pull them out of the freezer (not sure what I was getting) and enjoy a great hearty and healthy meal.  They symbolize my ability to sustain myself, to take care of myself and also to feel a continued connection to my community.  

 Click the picture above for this awesome Sweet potato chili recipe!

I took a lot time to make these soups/chilis and actually followed recipes.  I was squirreling away for the winter, preparing for the unknown and taking some control during a time when it felt like I had little control. I have said before that I have been a lot healthier than I had been in a long time and this is another piece of that.  With the gift of time I have been given, I have been cooking a lot and eating well.

This past week the Northeast was paid a visit by Winter Storm Nemo.  I took out some of my emergency soup to defrost and hunkered down.  Fortunately,outreach came from the members of my village to make sure I was taken care of and a number of homes were opened up to me so I would not have to wait out the storm by myself.  I know two things for certain, I have friends who will take care of me and I also have my emergency soup!

"Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living.  For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish." 
~ Louis P. De Gouy, 'The Soup Book' (1949)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I am ready to be transitioned

I connected with a friend a couple of weeks and she exclaimed how much she enjoyed reading my blog, noted all of the transitioning I had been doing and how well it seemed to be serving me.  I paused a bit after the comment was made and decided then that I am ready to be transitioned.

I had dinner with a former colleague this week and as we parted ways she told me how good I looked and how happy I seemed.  I realized the last time we had connected had been at the end of September; when days for me were still pretty dark and I had been functioning in semi-crisis mode. I did not feel like I looked any different, I also was not sure that I felt much different.  Then as I drove home, I did realize that I was happy and felt really good.  I am ready to be transitioned.

I recently had a conversation with a colleague/friend about the work we have done, about how to get students to truly reflect on their experiences, to value their own worth in order to support their peers and how the 'helper' student/person is often the one who needs to learn how to seek help.  This conversation left me jazzed and energized and ready to be back to working with students on a regular basis.  I am ready to be transitioned.

Life is not bad right now, I would even go as far as saying that life is good.  I am happy.  I am less stressed then I have been in many years (except when I think that I am not stressed).  There are days that I feel like I have been given a gift, this time to take care of me has been that gift.  I am ready to receive what is next, I am ready to be transitioned.

Now one can claim that life is a continuous transition that we are constantly moving from one stage of our life to another and that at any time a sudden turn can occur and we could be on a totally different path, one that we did not intend to go down.   Yes, I agree with that and this is certainly the case for me at this time in my life.  I could have never imagined that the past almost 5 months of my life would be as they were.  I have learned my lessons (and continue to do so), I have searched my soul and I am ready for the next stage of my life to begin.  I have no idea what any of that will look like but, I am ready to be transitioned.

And I know easier said then done but, I am ready to be transitioned.
"Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit." 
Ralph Waldo Emerson