I am sitting in an apartment in Paris, looking out at the Seine, on the I’le de la Cite (minus the accent marks).  I am still trying to take in my good luck.  A few years ago, I felt that though I was grateful for many things, trips to Paris and soon Sweden, and recently London and Dublin, San Francisco and LA, and finding work that I love, and working with people I genuinely like and respect, and having my daughter close by, and living in SoHo again surrounded by wonderful neighbors, and slowly starting to date again — I couldn’t have imagined any of that was possible.  And yet….

I want to take these few moments before I leave this beautiful apartment in search of the perfect baguette and a long walk in the Luxembourg Gardens to give thanks…to take a deep breath and take all of this in.

I woke up this morning and looked out at the Place Dauphine, the beautiful little park that I can see from the bedroom.  The first thing I saw was two dogs playing together in the park — one of them was a beagle.  You don’t see too many beagles in Paris.  I am always thrilled when I see a beagle because I think of my beloved Lucy and Lola and I give thanks for them for saving me in the most difficult times.  When my mother was dying, when my family was falling apart, when I was in the middle of the horrible terrible divorce — Lucy and Lola were there, giving me unconditional love every single day.  I miss them more than words can ever express. And I thank them for over 13 years of so much love and laughter.

I know that the world is always in crisis — bad news happened yesterday in Israel with the killing of three young men.  And in the U.S. with the ridiculous Supreme Court ruling about birth control. But I do still believe that so much good happens every single day and we forget that in the overwhelming evidence of evil and stupidity.

So let’s take a minute and think of all that we can be grateful for and then get back to the work of changing the world.

The past couple of weeks have been rather challenging for Zoe and me.  She started a new job and I have a busy month with difficult jobs.

So, I am reminded during these times when I feel overwhelmed, to always remember to be grateful too.

Here is what I am grateful for:

Zoe
Spring
New York City
My job
Zoe’s job
Health
My home
Great friends
My ex husband Steve is feeling better and managing another round of chemo more easily this time
Great weather
Traveling
The nicest people to work with

What are you grateful for?

A few years ago I thought that I had gone through some tough times and that life would spare me at least for awhile.  But now I know there is no sparing — there are, in the course of every year, beautiful, joyous times AND really bad, difficult times.

This year was no exception.

The beautiful joyous times were simple days of spending time with my daughter, Zoe, with friends, traveling around the country and a trip to Dublin, all for work.  Riding my bike along the Hudson in the summer and taking long walks in Central Park in every season. 

There was a visit to Emily’s house in the country — bittersweet because of her absence, but still pleasurable.

My play performed at the Beckett Theater this year, with friends from all areas of my life, old friends, new friends, everyone showing up to see it and lend support.  And a cast and crew of the most wonderful people and the challenges that go along with every creative project.

There was the grief of losing my best friend, Lucy, my beloved beagle, who was with me for 13 years and who died at 17 years of age.  I miss her daily and am deeply grateful for having had her for all those years.  She was truly a faithful companion.

I’m grateful that my ex husband and I were able to forgive each other and start up a new… friendship.  I would not have imagined this a few years ago, but forgiveness is a powerful tool — and cancer seems to completely change the landscape.  He really showed up for a harrowing summer and survived and we are all so grateful. 

2013 ends quietly… I feel that life has forced so many of us to seek comfort in being quiet, by going within. 

One of my favorite pieces of advice I heard recently came from the playwright Tracy Letts: spend at least 30 minutes a day staring at the wall, or looking out the window.  I don’t have much of a view, but I think I will start at my wall and give thanks for this past year and gratitude for the coming one.  Just being alive is reason enough to be celebrate. 

Emily Squires’ pond in Lake Ariel, Pa.  August 2013.

“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep…I count my blessings instead of sheep…
and I fall asleep, counting my blessings…”

Tonight I went across the street to The Crosby Street Hotel to see “White Christmas” – one of my favorite holiday movies.  It was co-written by Mel Frank, an old friend, someone I was very close to when I lived in California.  Mel’s mother lived above me at the Harper House in West Hollywood and we became friends.  Eventually, I got to know Mel and most of the Frank family.  Seeing “White Christmas” or any of the movies Mel wrote or directed is always very special for me.  I can always hear his voice in the dialogue. 

And speaking of counting my blessings…here are a few of mine… my daughter,  Zoe, my loftmate, Abigail, good friends…family, Samson, the dog who is staying with us for a few weeks, my health, our lovely home…good neighbors, NYC…my work…my writing…

So much to be grateful for.  And it was also a difficult year.  We lost Emily Squires, our dear friend the night before Thanksgiving 2012, and then we lost our beloved Lucy on May 5th, 2013.  Then Zoe’s dad was diagnosed with lung cancer — he’s doing well now, but it was a rough summer.  The play, Scrambled Eggs, was up this spring and we had a fantastic 3 week run.  I’ve gone to Dublin, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and Charlotte for work.  I’ve done more traveling this past year than I have in many years.  It’s been challenging and rewarding.

And I’m proud of the women in Congress who broke the stalemate over the debt crisis.  And Obama for getting his health care program up and running (imperfectly, yes, but still today is the deadline and millions of people have signed up.)

Laws are being passed all over the country to all gay couples to marry!  And next – gun control reform.  That must happen in 2014.  That will happen. 

So many blessings. Happy 2014 to anyone who reads this!  Onward. 

I was sitting next to two men recently in a coffeehouse and one of them was complaining (whining) about his divorce.

“I hate my life. My ex is killing me in the divorce, I can’t find a job, I feel like sh*t all the time, my kids don’t call, I’m so depressed, my life sucks. I miss my old life. We traveled all over the world. My life was so much better and now it’s awful, I hate it.”

I was curious about what his friend would say and leaned in closer, without appearing too obvious. I thought he might say, “Yeah, your ex is a bitch and you really got screwed. Poor you.”

But he didn’t. Read More →

Today is my birthday and I just want to say how grateful I am for all the love and support I’ve received, especially over the last few years.  I don’t know how I would have ever survived without my friends and family, especially my daughter.

Birthdays used to throw me, but now I take them in stride.  It’s life that sometimes throws me — the really difficult challenges that I see happening to myself and others.  I don’t know how we get through these trials, other than to ask for help.  I do see courage and strength in everyone — and I’ve learned through meditation and Pema Chodron’s writings, and my own therapy, to accept the feelings, no matter how dark they are, and sit with them.  I don’t always succeed, but I do know that if I make a call, I generally feel better, sooner rather than later.

So on this birthday I acknowledge the gift of friendships and love.  Yesterday I made a list of 100 things I was grateful for.  It’s a good exercise — try it!

 

The combination of meditation and Steve Chandler’s line yesterday about figuring out the perfect day, every day, gave me the opportunity to let go of my anger towards my ex (who will from now on be known as E – which I will explain sometime soon.)  

I had a perfect day yesterday – the weather was unbelievably gorgeous.  I met with a lovely couple who need to sell their loft, a 5th floor walk-up.  We sat for an hour and talked about life and real estate, too, of course.  One of my favorite things about real estate is that you really get to know all kinds of people – quickly – because you become so involved in their lives.

I went to the office for just a couple of hours and worked hard and then left, came home to Lucy and went for a walk.  It was too beautiful to stay home last night, so I went to a “meet-up” which involves many single people crowded onto a roof of a hotel.  It was so not pleasurable, I left after twenty minutes and walked home along the river.  

Every night I write at least three things I’m grateful for and it’s always easy to think of more.  I wish that I could contribute more in the world, send more money to the horn of Africa, fix the government, work on climate control – I wish I had those skills.  But for right now, I’m meditating, sending out good thoughts into the world, trying to make a perfect day, a day at a time, and letting the years take care of themselves.  And I am so grateful for my daughter, my home, my job, my writing, my friends, NYC, my beloved Lucy, my health, all the lessons I’ve had these past few years, summertime, tomatoes, fruit, my iPhone which allows me to listen to music, call people and take photographs.

Today is another beautiful day.  Park Avenue is closed to traffic, so I’m going to get on my bike and ride uptown and then downtown on the west side.  And I will turn many corners.  

For a long time (over two years) I’ve had a daily struggle to overcome fear about the future, grief of letting go of my family, the loss of my mother and my beloved Lola, a new job, many challenges. And though I often get thrown off course by some anxiety, it generally doesn’t last too long and most days turn out pretty well. 

I do find myself getting angry about the government and many issues outside my own personal sphere, but that’s to be expected, I think.  Complacency is not my style.


Today I was doing my meditation in the early morning and I suddenly had a wonderful feeling come over me of tremendous appreciation for my life.  I’m helping people daily (not in Somalia and not doing anything really vital – but still – helping people), I’m working at getting the play produced, and I’m trying to take care of myself and to stay in touch with friends.  I work a spiritual program, that is, I do my meditation and try to listen to that small voice, which today said, “Hey, this is pretty good!”  

This morning, a friend and I were laughing when we came up with a good analogy for the idea that one never really reaches total enlightenment.  It’s like getting your body in shape.  You go to the gym, or do yoga, or ride your bike, or dance – whatever works for you and after a time you look at your body and you think, “I look pretty good. I’m in good shape.”  And then you say, “Okay, great, I’m done.  I think I’ll sit on the couch from now on and eat ice cream and cake.”  And then, of course, in a few weeks your body looks terrible again and you have to start all over.  

Every day, it’s important to keep working on my inner life and not think I’m ever finished.  I guess I will be someday, when I’m no longer alive.  But as long as I have a breath to take, I have to keep meditating and reading and working on myself, and trusting.  And especially remembering to be grateful for all the good in my life and even some of the bad.  That’s important too!  

And all I can do is hope that the sanest people we have right now – the Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warrens and Jon Stewarts (just to name a few) will keep talking truth to power and will eventually be heard. It’s so hard not to be disappointed in President Obama.  I keep thinking he has a plan, that he’s really not going to take cuts in Social Security and Medicare and other social services, but so far it looks like he is going against his campaign promises.

Mostly, despite the bad news, I want to laugh more.  I want to find someone to love who is funny.   I realize that’s part of my spiritual path – to laugh more and take life less seriously.  There’s plenty to be serious about, but I am so grateful for people like Chris Rock, Bill Maher and Jon Stewart for making me laugh.  Bill is the only single one, but I’m more into Chris and Jon. I guess I have to find my own Chris or Jon.  He’s out there somewhere!

I was supposed to go out tonight to do my volunteer work at Mama Gena’s, but then I got an invitation to go to the country this weekend and I decided I needed a night to relax and get us – as in Lucy and myself – ready to go away.  

This entire week has been rainy and I don’t do well with rain.  I’m so ready for a few beautiful spring days in the country.

This morning I read this daily reading in “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie and I liked it so much I wanted to include it in the blog.  

Sadness

Ultimately, to grieve our losses means to surrender to our feelings.

So many of us have lost so much, have said so many good-byes, have been through so many changes.  We may want to hold back the tides of change, not because the change isn’t good, but because we have had so much change, so much loss.

Sometimes, when we are in the midst of pain and grief, we become shortsighted, like members of a tribe described in the movie Out of Africa. 

If you put them in prison,’ one character said, describing this tribe, ‘they die.’  

‘Why?’ asked another character.

‘Because they can’t grasp the idea that they’ll be let out one day.  They think it’s permanent, so they die.‘ 

Many of us have so much grief to get through.  Sometimes we begin to believe grief, or pain, is a permanent condition.  

The pain will stop.  Once felt and released, our feelings will bring us to a better place than where we started.  Feeling our feelings, instead of denying or minimizing them, is how we heal from our past and move forward to a better future.  Feeling our feelings is how we let go.  

It may hurt for a moment, but peace and acceptance are on the other side.  So is a new beginning.

God, help me to fully embrace and  finish my endings, so I may be ready for my new beginnings.”  

I do feel like I’ve moved through a good year and a half of extreme grief.  I’ve been reading “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert, a book about marriage, and I was finding it rather boring, until the other night at 4 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep and I got to the part about divorce and how truly painful an experience it is.  I always felt that it was the combination of things – the death of my mother, divorce, Zoe moving away, not having a job, not having a home, all of that that contributed to my feeling underwater for a good year – for spending so much time at Friends In Deed, just crying and sitting with other people who were dealing with serious life challenges.  I think that the divorce alone could have caused so much of the grief now, I have a new respect for everyone who’s gone through it and allowed themselves to grieve instead of jumping right into a new relationship.  Although I did date in those early days and I’m glad I did, even though I spent most of the dates talking about the divorce, my ex, my mother, everything truly sexy.  

So now I’m more comfortable with being on my own and dating is not high on my list of desires right now.  It’s on there and it’s moving up, but it’s not at the top of the list.

Tonight is “Friday Night Lights” one of my favorite shows on television.  I’m going to call a friend soon and hopefully talk for awhile, so that I’m not alone all night.  And then I’m going to throw together Lucy’s and my belongings (including a pair of rainboots for me) – and get ready to enjoy nature.   

I’m also trying not to worry about the next reading of the play.  What good is worrying going to do?  As my friend Sally Fisher says, “If I thought my worrying was going to help anything – or change anything, I might do it.  But it never does, so why bother?”  

So instead I will acknowledge how grateful I am for my daughter, my life, my home, my friends, my loftmate, my job, my writing partner, my director, the wonderful actors, everyone who has been incredibly helpful getting the readings together, NY, Lucy, Lola’s gentle passing, a spring that will be so incredibly green thanks to all the rain — and life.  

And the spiritual connection I have inside – that is a huge gift.  


…or it would have been if we were still married.  (Well, we are legally, but not in reality.) You know what?  It’s good!  We loved each other when we got married twenty-four years ago, and we had a beautiful daughter and a good life. And now it’s over and we’re each living the life we want to live and it’s all exactly as it should be.  I have had a great day so far, I worked on a video for a friend about global warming and alternative energy sources (she interviewed people and asked us questions – it was fun and challenging.)  I met a man for lunch and I’m going to meet another man for a drink.

I’m happier than I was a year ago and I’m sure my ex is too.  All I need is an income, for my play to get produced, my dogs to live a few more years, love in my life, my own home, my daughter to continue thriving and for the economic situation in this country to turn around.  Peace all over the world would be very nice too. 

I am so grateful for all the miracles in my life and for my friends and the love and support I receive every day. 

The lovely man I met for lunch today had a heart attack a year ago at 55.  He is grateful to be alive.  It’s a reminder that each day is a gift, even the challenging ones.  

p.s.  I met a nice man tonight from Match.com and then I spontaneously stopped by the Apple store and Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker and Marc Lawrence happened to be there to talk about their film “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”  They took questions from the audience and I asked Lawrence which filmmakers inspired him and he said the same ones I love: he said Billy Wilder “The Apartment” is one of the best films ever made, Woody Allen – “Annie Hall” a perfect film and James Brooks’ “Broadway News.”  These are all my favorites too. And Hugh Grant is so charming and funny, it was a pleasure to see them all.  


The bottom line is I had a very happy un-anniversary. 

Post Navigation