Jackie Kennedy said, “Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future? Americans care about their past, but for short term gain they ignore it and tear down everything that matters. Maybe… this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won’t all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes.”
“Stop and smell the flowers, and lose it in sweet music and dance with me.
There is beauty in the world.
So much beauty in the world.
Always beauty in the world.
There is beauty in the world.” ~Macy Gray
Beauty is all around us. I’m not referring to the kind of beauty we see on a twenty-something’s lovely face, or the shapely bodies sprawled across dozens of fashion magazines.
I’m referring to the literal meaning of beauty.
“A person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”
Shhh. Be still. Look around you. Smell the fragrant bouquet. Hear the compassion. Touch the grace. Drink in the wonder. Beauty surrounds us everywhere.
“Inner beauty is the light of love and when it radiates from you, those around you will glow.” ~ Deepak Chopra
I grew up in Jersey, was weaned on life in Manhattan and went to school in Boston. Like many people growing up near a big city, I got used to life moving at a fast pace.
But as Ferris Bueller famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Ferris was right.
This past weekend, hubby and I were part-time tour guides for a friend (I’ll call her “M”) and her mom who were visiting New York City for the first time. We loved our role, showing off a city we dearly love. I looked forward to seeing it through their eyes, waiting to catch that first glimpse of excitement.
I got more than I bargained for.
The trip was M’s gift to her mom for Mother’s Day. I watched the beauty of their mother-daughter relationship unfold, beginning with the tender care M took of her mom (“Mama”) to ensure she was comfortable as we walked in the rain to visit the city’s landmarks. Saying “please” and “thank you”, terms often neglected in our busy world, were frequently used. Tender loving hugs were given when we had to say good-bye.
The beauty of their Midwestern manners and loving hearts filled my own.
I recently changed my health insurance company. This is a daunting task and one I hate taking care of. I researched several companies that fit my needs. Before signing up with a new plan, I was quoted dollar amounts for the copayments I’d be responsible to pay.
Let the games begin.
It was time to schedule a delivery for my daily injectable medication. I called the specialty pharmacy hotline. The operator typed my information into her computer, and then asked me a question that nearly gave me a heart attack.
She calmly said,” Your copayment will be $4,000 a month. Do you want to pay by check or credit card?”
With a quivering voice, I insisted she repeat what she just said, and then demanded to speak to her advisor. Her advisor’s story was the same. I abruptly hung up.
I called the pharmaceutical company’s hotline to explain the situation. A delightful woman with a cheery voice asked a few questions, then assured me everything would be fine. I would qualify for coverage of my copayment.
She called the next day to simply make sure I was okay.
There is beauty among us. Beauty in sensitivity and compassion.
As we age, life becomes more complicated. We’re faced with daily challenges that can seem unbearable and stressful. As I see it, we have two options: Let it overwhelm you, or acknowledge it and move on.
Watch the beauty that happened among the ruins of Oklahoma (although if I were the reporter I would have dropped everything to help this women and her dog!)
There is beauty in nature and beauty among the ruins.
What beauty has happened in your life lately?
Call me crazy, but this post is for me. Right now, I need to write for the sake of writing, to find words, sentences and paragraphs that will lift my spirit and soothe my soul.
I hope it will lift your spirits, too.
Writing is cathartic for many; I am no exception.
This week I wrote about ways to cope with stress, including being silly with friends and spending time with loved ones.
Life is getting in the way of taking my own advice.
My three closest friends live far away. We’ve known each other since grade school. The last time we were all together was thirteen years ago. Two are identical twins. The four of us drove to New England to spend a long night of partying to celebrate their fortieth birthday. It was pure Nirvana.
My other friend lives close by, but as a filmmaker she’s constantly travelling the world. We are as close as sisters. So I know when I don’t hear from her for awhile, she’s firmly ensconced on a movie set.
I remember learning about Plato’s Perfect Plane, interpreting his theory to mean we are all meant to find an ideal world to live in. My ideal world would be living near my best friends who lend me comfort, understanding and unconditional love. As I’ve written before, like Lucy and Ethel or Mary and Rhoda, they are my BFF, my besties, my BFFL. They are my comrades in arms as we journey through midlife together.
I have one more new bestie who is my MS bestie, yet she’s so much more. We met through our shared job as Peer Advocates for Teva. She calls me her Yankee and I tell her she’s my midwestern mama. We laugh, cry and empower each other. She’s my new BFFL.
We are each blessed if we have one best friend for life. I’ve been blessed four times.
I’ve also made new, good friends since turning 50, ones I hold dear in my heart. They hold my hand as I learn this new thing called blogging. I hope they hold me close to their hearts as well. They are each intelligent, compassionate and extraordinary women. I am blessed once again.
There, I finished my post. I was right. It WAS cathartic. I’ve felt my friends surrounding me with outstretched arms, loving souls and understanding hearts. To each of you, I say thank you.
These are all gifts from my brother. After all, we are part of the TV generation!
Do you know who they are?
“When I find myself in times of troubles,
Mother Mary comes to me,
Speaking words of wisdom,
Let it be.
What’s a nice Jewish girl doing writing a post that begins by singing praises of Mother Mary?
Yesterday, I re-watched Sir Paul McCartney being honored at The Kennedy Center Honors. This is my favorite award show, when peers honor the best and the brightest artists. Musicians such as Nora Jones, Steven Tyler, James Taylor and Mavis Staples belted out McCartney-Lennon songs for Sir Paul. I broke out in goose bumps.
And when the broken hearted people living in a world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see.
There will be an answer. Let it be.
When James began strumming on his guitar and singing “Let It Be”, I realized what the next topic for my blog post would be.
When I was first diagnosed with MS, I was told to learn to handle stress for optimal health. Through the years, I’ve read about and tried many different ways of coping; some have worked and some have not.
After all of my searching, I realized the most important lesson I’ve learned.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else believes in. (At least not to me.) It can be Mary or Jesus, Moses, Buddha or The Golden Rule. As long as you have something of your own, something tucked safely within your heart and soul that is your personal belief system. That is what matters. Because inevitably, someday, somehow, when your faith is tested, your beliefs will step up to the plate for you, ready to help you navigate your bumpy road. It will give you comfort, courage and hope for a better tomorrow.
And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me.
Shine until tomorrow. Let it be.
My personal beliefs are a recipe of sorts. I start out with my Judaic beliefs, lines from great poetry and the teachings of Buddha. Add to that the many lessons learned from my father and my uncle, great readers of literature and poetry. Blend in large amounts of the wonders of nature. Top it off with meaningful stories shared by close family and friends.
These beliefs are the ones I turn to at the end of the day. They renew my spirit, and give me courage and strength.
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me.
Speaking words of wisdom. Let it be.
Let it be, let it be. Let it be, yeah, let it be.
Through my advocacy work and my writing, I’ve spoken to hundreds of people struggling with the burdens of living with an autoimmune disease. I tell them how I’ve learned to deal with stress. I hope someday they will think of me, and discover what beliefs work best for their journey.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be,
yeah, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.” ~John Lennon/Paul McCartney
Let me offer a few ways I’ve learned to try to lower my stress levels:
- Go on news fasts. This was sound advice I read years ago by Dr. Andrew Weil. The world will keep on spinning whether you stay on top of the daily news or not. Any local news channel will first air violent stories in order to grab your attention. In the past, my hands and feet would start to tingle when listening to the news. No more. On most days I read top stories delivered to my inbox from The New York Times, Forbes or The Wall Street Journal. Of course, there’s no way to avoid the news completely. But, every once in awhile, do yourself a favor and take a break from it.
- Give yourself a gift. Act silly with good friends. Go on a romantic date with your spouse or companion. Enjoy quality time with your children. Curl up with a good book. Play with your pets. Go for a walk in beautiful surroundings. Listen to uplifting music. Give yourself the gift of joy and laughter.
- Take the negative out of your life. You know, the negative. Negative people, negative events and negative thoughts. Let your intuition guide you. It will tell you if something doesn’t feel quite right. Try replacing any negative thoughts with positive ones. (See Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).
- Exercise. Regular exercise has been proven to decrease your levels of stress. I try to take walks every day. Some are shorter than others, and on bad days I use our treadmill. A short walk is better than none at all.
So, whether it’s Mother Mary or Moses or The Golden Rule that you believe in, each ARE standing right in front of you. Waiting to help. Waiting to keep you brave. Waiting to give you wisdom. Waiting to give you hope.
What beliefs help you handle stress?
DISCLAIMER: Comments from An Empowered Spirit are brought to your attention on topics that could benefit you and should be discussed with your doctor or other medical professional. I am not medically trained and my posts are of a journalistic nature and not in lieu of medical advice. An Empowered Spirit and its author will not be held liable for any damages incurred from the use of this blog or any data or links provided.
“Save one life, you save the world.” ~Torah
Mother’s Day. Two simple words that conjure up memories of large family gatherings, bountiful baskets of spring flowers, and brunches overflowing with scrumptious food and a bottle (or two) of Perrier-Jouët.
The world somehow feels renewed every Mother’s Day, when children thank their mothers for their unconditional love, and for the lessons they have learned. Look both ways before crossing the street. Never talk to strangers. Remember to say “please” and “thank you.” And always – always – respect your elders.
But one thing our mothers never needed to teach us was whether our drinking water was contaminated.
Recently, I was invited to hear Hallie Tamez, Associate Director of Development at WaterAid, speak about her organization, and how they help “transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities.”
As a mother and someone profoundly interested in the welfare of others, I was deeply moved by Hallie and her efforts at WaterAid.
Read about how Hallie got interested in working for WaterAid, and why her heart will always remain in Nepal. (NOTE: Kleenex Alert)
“The people in this region of the world are some of the poorest and most forgotten. They live without clean water, electricity, roads, or transportation. Yet they are some of the hardest working, most determined people I have ever encountered.
My story starts with Sangita, a somber young girl. Two years ago while visiting her children’s home in a remote mountain community thousands of miles from the capital city of Kathmandu, a desperate father came from his village clutching his infant daughter, Laxmi.
Laxmi was severely malnourished and very tiny – her skin was dry and her eyes were listless. He pushed the infant into my arms, and blurted out his wife could not take care of the baby. He left Laxmi in our care, and Sangita took over! This little baby became her passion. It was our passion, too.
Four months later, a robust and healthy little Laxmi was ready to go home. It was an emotional but proud day for Sangita when Laxmi was returned to her family.
If only the story ended there, but unfortunately contaminated water sources and diarrheal disease came calling…
Two months later I was back in the mountains anxious to see how baby Laxmi was faring. I trekked 4 hours to her village but arrived to devastating news.
Little Laxmi had died just a week before of diarrhea and dehydration – caused by dirty water.
To be nurtured back to good health, returned to her family only to die from a completely preventable illness was the greatest tragedy and injustice of all.
I keep a photo of Sangita and Laxmi close to my heart, and it is Laxmi’s story that fuels my passion to see that more Laxmi’s don’t die needlessly.
Together we must solve this crisis.
Unfortunately, Laxmi is just one of the 2,000 children who die every day from preventable water-related diseases. Children are the most vulnerable. The potential of the next generation is being tragically compromised by the lack of access to clean water and sanitation in the developing world.
But there is great news! There are communities in Nepal and around the world where women and children are now living a very different life thanks to WaterAid interventions, and the communities commitment to managing their clean water – water is just the beginning!”
In honor of Mother’s Day, and for mother’s around the world who want their children to remain healthy, consider buying a lifesaving gift from Water Aid. The best gift you can give to anyone is one that helps to save a life.
Do it for Laxmi. Do it for a mom. Do it for yourself.
I like to joke with my hubby by asking, “If the signatures on our ketubah are no longer legible, is our marriage still legal?”
Linking up with other Wordless Wednesday blogs:
This is part of a Generation Fabulous bloghop. The theme is “The Best Thing I Learned From
My Mother” in honor of Mother’s Day. Taken literally, the word “best” means “of the most excellent, effective, or desirable.” Yet there isn’t one specific thing I would call “best”, but a conglomeration of many things when my mom demonstrated courage despite adversity. She’d be the last person to acknowledge this, so I decided to write a letter to her about how I learned the meaning of courage from the life she’s lived. (Continue reading what my fellow Generation Fabulous bloggers learned from their moms here.)
Mother’s Day is coming and I haven’t a clue what to get for you. You always say you don’t need anything. Despite what you say, I wish I won the lottery so I could bring you back to Paris for a month, or spend a week together at The Golden Door where we’d enjoy daily massages and luxuriate in some herbal wraps.
For now you’ll have to settle on what I can offer you: my words. To others this may sound trivial, but I know that’s not how you’ll feel. You’ve been my biggest fan since the day I was born, and today will be no exception.
You’ve spent all of your life somewhat in the shadows of others. You grew up at a time when being a feminist was not fashionable, and men held all the power, both at home and in the office.
Despite that, Mom, you stepped out on your own. Only you never realized that’s what you were doing, and never gave yourself credit for it. Well, Mom, I’m here to point it out to you, and to anyone reading this post. So brace yourself.
You excelled in school, even making valedictorian, while working from a young age to help with your family’s finances. As a young newlywed and mother, you held your family together after a terrible family tragedy, taking care of my grandparents and my brother under the same roof, while dad went off to war. This was no easy task, but you did what you had to do.
You decided to go back to school to finish your college degree, even though you had three young children at home. You quit college to earn a living for you and dad, a selfless act. After dad became a successful attorney, it was your turn to do something for yourself.
You were a product of your generation: a stay at home mom whose main function was to cook, clean and take care of the kids. That wasn’t enough for you. You were a revolutionary by going back to work while your children were still young. In those days, few mothers were working full-time. I was so proud of you.
Although you were busy as a second grade teacher, you always had time to help me with my math homework, or listen to my silly schoolgirl stories. You were always available to me, and I thank you for that.
When I was diagnosed with MS, you kicked into gear and took great care of me. After I was married and wanted to become pregnant, you drove hours with me to hear a lecture by a doctor that specialized in MS and pregnancy. And when I miscarried for the second time, you were alone with me in Tanglewood. You consoled my aching heart.
When Jordan was born, it was no surprise that you and Dad spent hours in the hospital waiting room, needing to be nearby to make sure the baby and I were healthy. Gary and I were both happy to have you join us in the delivery room after our healthy son was born.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
==============================DISCLAIMER: Comments from An Empowered Spirit are brought to your attention on topics that could benefit you and should be discussed with your doctor or other medical professional. I am not medically trained and my posts are of a journalistic nature and not in lieu of medical advice. An Empowered Spirit and its author will not be held liable for any damages incurred from the use of this blog or any data or links provided.
“If someone thinks that peace and love are just a cliche that must have been left behind in the 60s, that’s a problem. Peace and love are eternal.” ~John Lennon
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