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.

In October, 2004, my mother nearly died. All her organs were failing and it seemed unlikely that she would last more than a few days in the hospital where she had been for several weeks. I remembered a friend of mine was a volunteer at a wonderful hospice, Jacob Perlow Hospice at Beth Israel Hospital, and I called my friend to ask how to get my mother admitted for hospice care. It seemed crazy to think about moving her at that point, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that normal hospital procedures were torturing her. If my mother was to die, I wanted her to die in peace.

The doctor who came to the hospital to examine her called me afterward and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone more in need of hospice care. She is going to be transferred immediately.” Read More →

But listen to me
For one moment quit being sad

Hear blessings dropping their blossoms all around you.

Rumi

Every morning when I wake up these days, I find I am in various states of sadness, hopelessness, despair, discontent. And every morning I have a practice of reading, writing and meditating.

This is where I find God. Okay, before you stop reading or think I’m nuts, I honestly don’t know what I mean by God. I certainly don’t mean the kind of God who’s sitting in a big throne somewhere, looking down, but I do mean something, some kind of force that is greater than myself, kind of like “let the force be with you” thing. Because, when I do let go and let God, I find answers. Daily.

Read More →

From 2001-2009 I was a caregiver for my mother, who was in and out of emergency rooms, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabs. I was also raising a teenage daughter, living with a husband whose business had gone under, working hard at my own job, and walking two dogs. I was feeling overwhelmed, but that was nothing compared to 2009. Read More →

IMG_24741This morning I woke up at 5 a.m. from a bad dream. I was on my way to a job interview somewhere in midtown Manhattan and I ended up in Canada. Lost. No offense to Canada, but I felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety and dread. I was too embarrassed in the dream to call the person I was meeting, so I just quickly woke up and tried to shake off the feeling that the dream left me with.

In some ways, I do feel lost. And sometimes I feel sad and sometimes I feel depressed and sometimes life feels too hard.

Someone I actually love, my ex-husband, is on his fifth week of chemo Read More →

Lately, it seems as if I have heard of a number of friends and acquaintances who are dealing with some difficult situations.  I think that the economy and the struggles that so many people are having financially, is often at the root of it, but it also goes much deeper.  It is a struggle with aging parents, illness, young people searching for jobs, opportunities.  A very difficult election.  

I am at another crossroads and I’m not sure where it is leading, but if I’ve learned one thing in the past few years of studying Buddhism and spirituality it is to stay in this very moment.  It’s one of the hardest lessons, since we human beings are always looking towards the future and worrying about what is coming, rather than appreciating and staying in the present. 

I went to help out a friend this morning who is about to give birth and is in a difficult situation with her new husband.  I can only imagine how hard it is for her to stay in this moment, when in six weeks she will be giving birth to her baby and life will get even more challenging.

One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is to show up – so that was what I did.  I listened and helped her unpack and just sat with her.  And now I am sitting with my own anxieties, as I have many days over the last few years.

I love what I have been learning lately from August Gold, a spiritual teacher.  She says:  “Life is a conversation.  We need to stop asking ‘why is this happening to me’ and start asking ‘why is this happening for me?'” 

In reading about the Kaballah it says:  “This challenge is an indication that there is a great amount of Light to be revealed here!  I may not understand how yet, but I can make the effort to see why this opportunity has been given to me.  I can choose, instead of reacting or worry, to continue the development of my soul.  I can choose to not allow negativity in, and as I do this more and more, I will grow my certainty in the Light.

Negativity has power over us only when we allow it to.

So my choice now is to put on my shoes and go for a walk and get out of my head and my apartment.  And stay in this very moment, which is a rainy autumn afternoon, and be grateful for all the blessings in my life.  Starting with the fact that my daughter lives in Brooklyn and last year on this day I was visiting her in San Francisco. 

Enough sitting, it’s time to move my feet. 

One year ago, I signed my divorce papers and it was the beginning of a new life and an entirely new chapter.

In November of 2011 I found dance.  I’d started dancing (as I wrote here) in a couple of flash mobs, but then I decided to sign up for dance classes and ever since then my life has changed in many profound ways.  First of all I found something really joyous that I love to do.  I’ve met many people who love it too and many really great men.  Men to dance with – not necessarily the love of my life, but men I really enjoy.

My morning practice of reading, writing and meditating has changed a bit.  I’ve been chanting in the morning, which is very peaceful.

In August, my daughter Zoe moved back to New York after three years of living in San Francisco.

She arrived the first week in August, which is when my first piece appeared on the Huffington Post.

I’ve now had five pieces published and yesterday Zoe and I did a Huff Post Live on adult children moving home with their parents.  She did find a great apartment with a roommate and they are happily living in their own place now.

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/archive

If you’re new to this blog and you or anyone you know anyone who’s going through a difficult time, go back three years to April 2009 and start reading.  There is a great deal of information about how to get through loss and grief a day at a time. 

And the present feels very exciting!  So stay tuned.  I never expected any of this, so it will be interesting to see what unfolds next.  If you’ve had any interesting surprises lately, I’d love to hear about them. 

I just came back to The Corcoran Group, my old company, and I’m also working on a re-writing for the ending of the play.

Stressed out is how I’m feeling.  

I keep wondering how some people handle anxiety so well and others don’t.  I haven’t had time to do Pilates or Yoga, but I do still take time to run and always walk long distances.  Meditation also helps.  

I was talking to a good friend whose father is dying, and dying, and dying.  One day it looks like the end and the next day he’s feeling better and the truth is, no one knows.  I remember those days of watching my own mother and how difficult it was.  

It’s Monday morning, it rained hard all night and will probably continue to rain most of the day.  A week from today is my birthday and I guess one of the gifts of aging is that I really don’t mind.  I saw Jane Fonda’s TED talk on aging and it really expressed how I feel about it.  Dancing seems to be the best reflection of how alive I feel, how much joy and pleasure I experience when I dance.  Even with the bad knees and the aches and pains, it’s just so much fun.  

It occurred to me just now, after reading an Op-ed in the Times today about stillness, that this blog began as an exploration into meditation and I haven’t written much about that in a long time.

Life got in the way and it became more about grief and the Friends In Deed mantra: “the only way out is through.” Well, one of their mantras.  Another one is: “the quality of our lives is not determined by the circumstances.”

I am still meditating although lately it’s been pretty difficult and I’m not sure why.  My mind seems to be wandering more and thoughts keep intruding.  I guess that’s always been true, but maybe because this year so much more has happened, I’ve been much busier with work and writing, it feels harder to just be quiet.  I am happy to report that this morning I went for a long walk by myself along the Hudson River and spent time just enjoying the river and the quiet.  For me now, stillness is not just about sitting in the morning in meditation, it’s about taking the time during the day, as often as I can, to just be quiet and not talking on my phone or checking emails.  

I like to try to focus on my breath and allow myself the luxury of sitting in silence.  It is a gift really, to take that time and appreciate how quiet it can be, even in the heart of New York City.

Last night, I was watching “The Daily Show” and clips from the Republican debate.  What can you say about these debates other than you wish these people were running for office in another country?  Some country whose name you can’t pronounce, preferably on another planet.  

I’ve been to Occupy Wall Street a few times, marched, I’m glad that they have have managed to change the conversation from what it was a few months ago (the debt ceiling) to jobs and the issue of money and inequality, but it’s hard not to feel incredibly hopeless about how we are going to fix the mess we’re in.

I’d like to make this blog funnier.  I’m grateful that people like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Steven Colbert can find humor in the political scene.  I am still reeling from seeing “Miss Representation” – the documentary about women in our culture, the way we are portrayed, the lack of power we have even though we are 51% of the population.  I’d love to be able to laugh more, which brings me to news about my play, it is moving along.  As Robert at Friends In Deed says, “…totally committed, completely unattached.”  I hope SE gets to have a production and at this point, it’s out of my hands.  I’m so grateful for all the people who are working so hard and having meetings to get it up.

We need to laugh.  We need to remember what’s important and sit quietly with all the feelings.  I always try to fight the sadness rather than embrace it.  I’m sad that so many people all over the world are struggling.

Pema Chodron says in our meditation practices we can “breathe in suffering and breathe out God.”  So that’s what I try to do every morning in my imperfect practice.  I don’t know if that helps anyone other than me, but it’s good to remember.

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