Binky Blinks

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Those of you who know me, know that I have a thing for “G-d Winks” — moments, people, ideas and “ahas” that show up at just the right time. Today I had “a moment” – a short conversation with a nice guy in a cigar shop. What was I doing in a cigar shop?

I was having a rough day. No, I didn’t pop in for a smoke. I was simply driving a bit aimlessly after realizing I had misread the time of an important event and missed it. All dressed up, and with my head swimming with my mistake, I slowly wandered home down a new street with lots of small store fronts. While stopped at a red light, I noticed a cigar store with a front bench stacked with colorful and shapely cigar boxes. Hmmmm… curious, I pulled over to take a closer look. A sign said $3 each. I was drawn to the boxes even though I had no idea what I was going to do with them.

As I was waiting to pay, I noticed how relaxed some guys were, lounging in large leather chairs, TVs on, having a smoke. The store, divided in half, was full. This led to a conversation with one of the guys working there, which led to the validation of an idea I have been carrying around. We talked for a bit, exchanged info and then he leaned over, winked at me and said, “There are two bags of boxes I just put out by the dumpster and they are either going to get thrown away or someone will just take ’em.”

Score! I pulled my car around the corner and loaded them into the trunk. Between the store and home, an idea of what I can do with them popped up. Names popped up. And then, I realized. I don’t just notice “G-d Winks” now I was noticing “Binky Blinks” – my new name for ideas that come to me when I intuit possibility.

In my exploration of NEXT, I am learning that  we all make mistakes and sometimes wander “aimlessly”. I wonder if it’s not what I don’t do, it’s what I do with what I’ve done. Using the cigar boxes as a metaphor for transformation, I plan to make something new of them. And the part of me that misread the time on the event? Well, my intention is to transform it and show up in a new way.

Hmph. Now that the smoke has cleared, I think I can see it all a bit more clearly.

Where do you see MindFULL possibilities and what do you do with them?

Let us know!

 

Nest to Next

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It has been a long time since last I posted. Over the past year, my “get up and go” simply “got up and went.” Life interceded and called my attention toward more pressing matters: the grappling with several dear friends challenges and illnesses, my daughter’s march toward Senior Year of High School and all it’s varied layers, and the ending of my favorite new TV binge – Nurse Jackie. Appreciating the luxury of time to show up for them has definitely made for a wider lens through which to see the day.

So, here I am. Back at the keyboard. A full journal brimming with ideas and finally the time and patience to allow them to play out. I am using this year to really explore what I love and see where it leads. As my daughter moves toward launching to college next Fall, I, too, am moving toward a kind of new launching for myself.

This year, I plan to evolve The MindFULL Creative into my next venture. I’m kinda excited to post what I learn. To offer what I find. And I invite you, wherever you are in your days, to contribute your thoughts.

Last Fall, I heard Gail Sheehy speak. My favorite line in her talk was simply, “Now is the time to start.” Then yesterday, I had a spontaneous visit with my old HS friend, Barb, who reminded me of one of her favorite ways of bucketing life; “Haves Tos”, “Want Tos”, and “F*&^ Yous”. It made me laugh. But it also resonated with the desire to fill this year with as many “Want Tos” as I can.

I’m excited to see where my daughter chooses to go to college and where I end up NEXT. I have a feeling it’s gonna be quite a journey.

“Want To” MindFULLY join me? We’d love to hear how you find your way to NEXT!

Stop! In The Name of (self) Love

LittleLevys

Recently, my cousin sent me this picture. I love it. It’s of me, and my two cousins (brother and sister) when we were around 4, 5 and 6, I think. It is one of my favorites and the timing reminds me of one of the best learnings I have come to this past year – learning to laugh at myself.

I am going to send it to the website Awkward Family Photos www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com. I love to look at the pics on the site. I think it shows us that all families have good intentions, and still, they can go terribly wrong. And I laugh out loud.

Such is also one of the lessons I hope to take into this New Year. I don’t always “do family” as well as I’d like. It’s complicated and managing it all can sometimes be challenging for me. With a lot of hard work, I’ve come to realize that we all “picture” our families, and lives, in a certain way. The picture is made up of moments – “snapshots in time”. The moments stick with us and we can choose to metaphorically caption them any way we want. We can also change the caption. I had several “captions” for this photo in my mind. My cousin had a different one. I loved hearing his. It opened me up to possibilities outside of my limited, and sometimes hard on myself, observations.

Maybe that’s what makes sites like Facebook and Instagram so appealing (and appalling). We have an opportunity to put out the best picture/caption possible and to believe in it.

So, I have put this old, dear picture where I can see it and like the little girl on the right, I vow to raise my hand more often and say, “Stop”! Stop and consider other perspectives. Stop and lighten up. Stop and be grateful for the friends and family who laugh with me. Stop and love ALL this moment has to offer. After all, it’s only a moment. And moments are all we have.

Do you have a picture that MindFULLY makes you laugh at yourself ?

Let us know!

Fall Flip

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It’s finally Fall. And with the change in season comes one of my favorite things to do – Flip My Closet! Sounds like a game show. Hmmm, maybe there is something to that?

Today, as I hauled my winter clothes up from the basement and packed my summer clothes to take their place, I was struck by an awareness of how different my flip was this season. Usually I bring it all up, and put it all away. This time, I left some things downstairs and immediately put others in the Goodwill pile. I didn’t put anything in the closet for the sake of having it. I really noticed each piece. And then, it hit me – the clothes were a metaphor representing situations, people and desires.

For those who don’t know my work, I do Consumer Research (www.beetrix.com). One of the methodologies we use has folks bringing in pictures that represent their thoughts and feelings about a product or a service. I listen for metaphor in their descriptions and use it as a gateway to dive deeper into understanding their experience.

Ha! This time the Cobbler’s children DO have shoes.

As I struggle through the Jewish Holidays with a new found sense of my own truth around certain situations, people and desires, I was relieved to have a metaphorical lens through which to view how I was feeling. See, I am not ready to let go of some things, but I don’t want them hanging in the closet on a daily basis. Keeping them nicely packed downstairs is my way holding on with one hand, not two. It was obviously time to let go of other things and so those went straight into the giveaway pile. And still others required a little more thought and went into the closet with a “wait and see how I feel wearing it this year” curiosity. As I finished flipping my closet, a sense of acceptance washed over me.

I also realized that it wasn’t really about how these clothes looked, it was more about how I felt wearing them. And as is life, my body has changed and what once fit easily, no longer fits as comfortably. No blame, just a natural evolution. So to, is the natural evolution of how I fit into my world and how it fits me.

As things change, literally taking care of my health and body are also top of mind. My desire to feel well has led me to reconnect with a gentle and encouraging trainer (www.Level3fit.com) , and an old friend from my childhood who sells supplements that help with energy, digestion and my “stage” of life (www.WAYGOOD.My PlexusProducts.com). I am constantly reminded that it is not only what I wear on the outside, but how I feel on the inside.

As Billy Crystal used to say, “When you feel good, you look good Dahling”. Here’s to a season of feeling good, no matter what you have “hanging in your closet.”

How do you MindFULLY notice how you fit metaphorically in your clothes and in the world? Let us know!

Mai Pen Rai

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As I relaxed on my sunny front porch the other day, enjoying the serendipitous music coming from a stranger as he sat on the back of his car playing the cello, I was struck by the myriad of emotions that passed in front of me as I looked out at my neighborhood. There are beautiful gardens to enjoy, kids playing basketball and laughing and bits and pieces of longing resting on my heart for folks from my old ‘hood that I miss waving to.

In front of me is the key phrase.

It used to be that emotions hit me in the gut. Now, with time and compassion and understanding, on a “good day” the emotions come up and pass by. In front of me one moment, gone the next. Mai Pen Rai, I say. It is what it is.I learned of Mai Pen Rai, when I came across the article below. As you will read, “Mai Pen Rai” is elusive in its meaning and description and can be understood to mean any of the following: it’s OK, it doesn’t matter, no worries, or it is what it is.” I loved the way the author described the saying, and way of life, prevalent in Thailand.

http://www.businessbackpacker.com/mai-pen-rai-a-lesson-on-letting-go/

No matter the culture, religion, country, etc., there are many ways to hold perspective of situations and relationships. My grandmother used to say in Yiddush, Gumzalatova – it’s all for the good. Caroline Myss, spiritual teacher and medical intuit, says that situations and people show up to teach us what we need to learn. The Bible, the Torah, books of other religions, spiritual teachers, columnists and psychologists all have their spin. The spin hardly matters. What I find important is the peace in whatever piece I choose to learn from.

I love metaphors and often find my home to be a powerful reminder of what I need to learn and what I know. Outsides change – cloudy days, sunny days, we move, others we love move, too. Insides give us the chance to control a little more – rearranging furniture (re-framing), creating a sense of ourselves with color and light (illuminating our insights), making space to sit and welcome friends/family (lessons) and ourselves.

What goes on outside of us goes on. What we do with it inside is up to us.

 How do you MindFULLY learn that it’s OK? Let us know!

 

MindFULL Freedom

macaroons

Tonight begins the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is not a religious holiday, as much as it is a Spiritual one.

Passover tells the story of the Hebrews release from Egyptian slavery and how they wandered the dessert for 40 years enroute to the Promised Land. There are rituals and details that expand dinners  (known as Seders) from the usual quick 30 minute routine to, in some homes (like my Great Uncle Oscar’s), over 4 hours. The holiday lasts for 8 days, during which no leavened products can be had. Families and friends gather, stories are told, questions are asked and courses keep on coming – each one with different symbols and spins on old favorites.

There are so many interpretations of the holiday. One gist for some celebrating is the notion of freeing ourselves from our own bondage. As my friend Vesna says, “It is the one time when you should take things personally.” What she means is that it can be a personal holiday – one where you actually get to make it about you – seeing ourselves reflected in all of the different figures of Passover. As it is said, of all the Hebrews to be freed, only 20% left – 80% stayed. The devil they knew was better than the devil they didn’t.

So, where do you stay back? Inspite of all of the miracles you’ve seen in your life, where do you still lack the Faith you need to move ahead, physically, spiritually, emotionally?

Where are you like Moses and take yourself out of narrow places and face your fears?

And where are you like Pharaoh? Nice to some and wicked to others? Holding them slaves for your kindness, when you dole out beatings more often?

There are so many questions and metaphors to explore during this time. And it doesn’t matter if you celebrate Passover or not. The invitation is to simply reflect on your own life and where you are a slave and where you want to be free.

My wish for you, no matter how you celebrate (or don’t) is: May you be free, May you have Faith, and May you see the miracles that surround you. It’s pretty simple. Maybe that’s why the story has lasted for thousands of years. It’s a tale we could all learn from.

 How will you MindFULLY set yourself free this year? Let us know!

 

MindFULL Day Ways

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Sage words from an old boss, stranger on a plane and coincidentally (or is it?), “Dr. Bob”. Robert Mauer, Ph.D. aka “Dr. Bob”, is a wonderful psychologist I met at a friend’s work event 25 years ago in Chicago. Meeting him changed our lives (a post for another time).

Flash forward to life in Denver where I attended a workshop on Kaizen. According to the book jacket on Amazon: Rooted in the two thousand-year-old wisdom of the Tao Te Ching–“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”–Kaizen is the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady increments. Kaizen is the tortoise versus the hare. Kaizen is the eleven Fortune 500 companies that significantly outperformed the market through moderate, step-by-step actions. Kaizen is losing weight not by a crash diet (which more often than not crashes) but by eating one bite less at each meal–then, a month later, eating two bites less. Kaizen is starting a life-changing exercise program by standing–just standing–on a treadmill for one minute a day.”

I had totally forgotten about Kaizen, until last week when Dr. Bob and his book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer Ph.D were mentioned in an article.

Shazam!

It’s Spring cleaning time (metaphorically) and all week I had been thinking about how to “clean some things up.” I wanted to do some things “better.” My “betters” were born of wanting to give and receive more kindness, showing up for others AND myself, and accepting situations and people/life as it was. As Dr. Bob says, “A life long journey – made one step at a time.”

Thus, I embraced this g-d wink and took one small step toward “better” by anonymously treating my daughter’s Debate class to a frozen yogurt outing. They took several titles at their State Championship. It’s one thing to say Congratulations! – It’s another thing to show it. Then, a call led me to leave soup outside of someone’s door. Later on that day, I was walking with my friend who always illuminates this phase of life and makes me laugh (at situations and myself) — she called the day Tzdekah (Jewish word for charity) Tuesday.

Then I realized…my blog posts on  MindFULL Mondays.

And so it was, with my friend’s laughter, insights, delight for my daughter and more g-d winks than I could count, that I thought of creating my own Kaizen – Day Ways – a daily practice to keep me conscious and moving toward “better”, one step at a time. I’m sharing them with the hope that you, too, may decide to create a MindFULL Day that motivates you to take one small step toward your own “better.”

MindFULL Day Ways

MindFULL Monday – I am going to get back into the habit of posting something I hope will be enjoyable every Monday.

Tzedakah Tuesday – I am going to make a small difference in one person’s life every Tuesday.

Willpower Wednesday – I am going to set a goal for myself and take one little step toward it every Wednesday.

Thoughtful Thursday – I am going to cut everyone (including myself) some slack on Thursdays.

Freeday Friday – I am going to do one thing that is fun!

Sensual Saturday (all senses) – I am going to be aware of all my senses (touch, smell, taste hearing, sight) and do one thing to feed each of them.

Soulful Sunday – I am going to read or listen to one thing that might give me a new perspective.

p.s. I happen to write this post on FreeDay Friday – a day to do something fun! Here I am having a beer and leisurely lunch with my Dad, who is visiting. I also updated this on Soulful Sunday and true to my intention, received another g-d wink via time spent with someone who always gives me loving perspective.

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What MindFULL Day have you created?

Let us know!

 

MindFULL Selfies and Mannequins

Do you ever step out of the shower and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror? What’s the first thought that goes through your mind?

Gotta confess, mine isn’t pretty. When I was little, I was “chubby”. Sometimes, I still look in the mirror and see that little girl. Other times, I notice my thoughts and try and be a little kinder.

I have found when I notice my world, that which I need to learn shows up pretty clearly in front of me. As life would have it, my learning of  physical self-compassion came in the form of two videos seen on the same day.

The first video was directed by documentary filmmaker Cynthia Wade and produced by our (wildly talented cousin)  Sharon Liese (Producer, High School Confidential) and debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival  a few weeks ago – to high praise and well deserved acclaim.

The 7-minute short film called Selfie explores how social media is shaping the way we perceive beauty and follows a series of teenagers and their mothers who are asked to take self-images that highlight their insecurities about the way they look. The film aims to empower women to redefine the traditional perception of beauty found in glossy magazines and movies.

http://mashable.com/2014/01/20/dove-selfies-short-film/

The second video, Pro Infirmis (Because Who Among Us Is Perfect?)  was shown in my Kabbalah class (www.thekabbalahexperience.com) and shows the creation of mannequins in the shape of body different people. It was so powerful it brought tears to my eyes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8umFV69fNg

As I watch my own teenage daughter grow and move through her self definition and perceptions, I am in awe and constant prayer. How do I help her make sense of all of this when my husband’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue arrives, blaring  three young girls wearing only bikini bottoms and their tushies hanging out? Thankfully, she is bright, emotionally intelligent and has her own sense of (delightful and creative) style. Still, I just read an article in this week’s NYTs that said “It’s been estimated that girls 11 to 14 are subjected to some 500 advertisements a day”. The ensuing results could fill 10 posts.

Why aren’t we seeing more videos like Selfie and the Mannequins? Afterall, if we really are trying to accept ourselves, may be the Selves we promote should be real – not airbrushed.

How do you MindFULLY notice and accept your Self? Let us know!

Love, Loss, Bold Living and 365 Days at a Time

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I don’t know if it’s my age, but a lot of loss is starting to show up and it begs the question, “How do WE show up?” Before we can be of comfort, it seems to me that we must first seek to understand what someone is going through. And when it comes to be our turn, which sadly, it will, perhaps we will find solace in the stories of those that have come before us.

This Wednesday night, my friend, Nancy Sharp, is going to be launching her new book, BOTH SIDES NOW: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living. Because I can’t write half as well as she can, I am re-printing a piece of the story that has been written and shared. She is pure inspiration. With grace and dignity and a laugh that makes you smile, Nancy shows us all how to live BOLDLY. Check out her website for more info on her book and this week’s celebration for those who live in Denver (Tattered Cover, Wed 7:30pm) http://www.nancysharp.net.

The past is simply part of our story; just not the whole story…On the very day that Nancy Sharp delivered premature twins, she learned that her husband’s brain cancer returned after eighteen months in remission. Less than three years later, at the age of 37, she became a widow. Seeking a fresh start in the solace of the Rocky Mountains, Nancy packed up her five year-old twins and left Manhattan for Denver, never imagining that she would find love in the pages of a magazine. But after reading an article on eligible bachelors, Nancy sent an email to Steve Saunders, a popular Denver television anchor turned political candidate as well as a widower who’d lost his wife to cancer, and was raising two sons a decade older than Nancy’s twins. Together they started a new chapter of their own. In BOTH SIDES NOW Nancy shares her unforgettable journey – one that offers enlightened understanding for living life to the fullest. Her story is a gift to those looking to lift themselves from the embers of loss and adversity through bold living.

Also on our shelves, we are blessed to have another friend’s book, Living with Loss, One Day at a Time. While it, too, was born out of the passing of her husband, Rachel Blythe Kodanaz takes her bountiful compassion and understanding and shines a daily light for those who may be taking it, “one day at a time”.

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Living with Loss, One Day at a Time, offers daily encouragement to individuals and families who have lost a loved one or are suffering from any form of loss. As was written about Rachel’s book:

The 365 daily lessons and thought-provoking ideas provide hope, optimism, introspection, and self-discovery.  There is no beginning or end to the book – the reader can skip around or dive in sequentially.  The book is a great tool to spark communication with your family on a daily basis as each day provides a discussion item for all ages and creates a meaningful dinnertime conversation.  The pages provide space for journaling and capturing the reader’s perspective on the topic of the day.  The upbeat and matter-of-fact format allows for clarity on subjects that are often overlooked or not discussed amongst friends and family.  Whether you recently experienced a loss or find a need for a boost of encouragement, the book will be your companion through your journey.

For more on navigating loss of any kind, check out Rachel’s website: http://www.rachelkodanaz.com

Living life includes living loss. How do you MindFULLY live both ?

Let us know!

Burned Biscuits

A few weeks ago, I had some friends over for dinner. The family is very special to me; they have a connection to my Grandmother, who was a very important person in my life. Sometimes holidays are hard for me and this family has generously included us on several occasions. I had been meaning to host them for a long time, but was always waiting for the stars to align. They meant a lot and I wanted every thing to be perfect.

I should have kept on waiting.

I worked so hard to make a nice setting and good food. Rather than sticking with old standbys, I attempted Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin. It was a bomb. I overcooked it – no sauce left in the pan and the chicken was purple from soaking in the red wine. Bluch.

But, the lesson in the meal was not in how to perfect Coq Au Vin, it was in the learning that nothing has to be, nor really can be, perfect. The missing ingredient to my dish was my sense of humor and had I realized it then, I would have joked that this meal looked like something my Grandmother would have made for their Grandmother – I have the only Jewish Grandmother who wasn’t known for her cooking. We should have ordered a pizza.

A few days later, in the retelling of the story to a friend, I had a few really juicy insights. After our call, she sent me the following story from a blog she follows (www.spendwithpennies.com). With a lighter heart (and warm laugh)  I pass it on to you and raise my glass (and awareness) to good friends and good intentions. This Holiday Season, and throughout the coming year, may you accept others and yourself – and enjoy your “burned biscuits” lathered generously with sweet, creamy butter and rich, fragrant jam!

When I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! All my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing…never made a face nor uttered a word about it! When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said, “Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then.” Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Mom put in a hard day at work today and she’s real tired. And besides–a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!” As I’ve grown older, I’ve thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I’m not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. But what I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship. And that’s my prayer for you today…that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He’s the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn’t a deal-breaker! We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship! So, please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine.”