Friday, January 4, 2019

...the first blog of 2019!


It’s day 4 of the New Year and as far as I can tell, the gyms are still packed with motivated people determined to lose weight and work out.

Me, I’m taking a softer approach and starting by getting up and moving away from my computer for 10 minutes every hour. I read several articles about how sitting can kill you, so getting up and moving seems like a goal that’s very much in keeping with my main one of not dying for a while.

Speaking of death, and yes, I know – horrible segue, this New Year seems to be one fraught with loss, both celebrity and personal.

Yesterday, I was visiting a childhood friend who just lost her sister. And I was struck by how open, and raw, and vulnerable we all are in these moments.

Death has a funny way of slowing time down while simultaneously, showing us that life continues no matter what.

As news of another person’s passing reached me in the same 24 hour period, I couldn’t help but wonder what loss had to teach me. I’m big on “what’s the lesson in this.”

This is what I came up with:

Every tragedy or loss is an opportunity for greater compassion and love to emerge. Every storm provides the chance for us to hold each other closer.

We so frequently get caught up in the little things. We are focused on pounds gained but not moments lost. We lose sight of the brief flicker our lives are until we are stopped short, usually by calamity, and reminded that the only enduring thing is the love felt in another’s heart for us. And vice versa.

So in this New Year, it is my goal to seize meaningful moments, to dare speak up and out, to love with greater abandon, with the awareness that, in the end, that is all that truly endures or matters.

We have a chance to make this world a reflection of our love instead of our differences of opinion. I, for one, could benefit from “liking” fewer Facebook posts and loving more actual people.

We are at a critical moment. Our survival or destruction rides on our choices, and make no mistake, not making a choice is making a choice. Apathy, indifference, and inertia reap results just as well as action does.

So if we’re going to be resolute in our resolutions, I resolve to be more generous with my heart and constructive with my mind. That seems like a worthy endeavor.

I would like to look back at the end of 2019 and see a world somehow made better because I dared to give a damn and put myself out there and trust that I was enough to help in some way. I would like to know someone benefited not just from my efforts, but from my courage.

It takes unfathomable courage to live from love in a world led by fear.

Fear says you are different from me, separate from me, a threat to me. Love says we are the same, inseparable, and key to one another’s survival.

Yeah, I need to move more and eat less. Who doesn’t? But that’s just a small part of what I want to accomplish this year.

What about you? What do you want to see when you look back at 2019? Let me know in the comments. Whatever it is, I hope you see its fruition. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

...looking back before looking forward


I am an extremely driven person. Frankly, I could use a nap, but I’d spend the whole time ruminating about all the things I want to get done, so I’d neither nap nor get those things done. That’s how I ended up here, blogging today.

It occurred to me, that while it may be productive to set intentions for the coming year, in my case, it might be more productive to, first, take a look back to acknowledge and appreciate how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished in the past year.

I grew up in the era before everyone got a trophy just for showing up, so I tend not to count showing up as a big deal. The thing is – it is a big deal, and the reason I know that is that so few people do it.

We are living in an era when people do not want to be inconvenienced. I don’t know exactly when that happened, but I’d wager we have Steve Jobs to thank for it. God forbid we should have to wear a wristwatch to know the time or carry an actual camera.

Mailing a letter? Making a phone call? Writing a complete English sentence? Who can be bothered?!!

In this kind of world, it’s a big deal to show up. And because I’m now an “expert” on how to calm the hell down and be happy (more on that later), I would like to tell you the one thing that will grow your relationships, strengthen and deepen them, more than anything else you could do – show up – when it’s not convenient, when you don’t feel like it, when you’re tired. If you want to express how much someone means to you - be there. And if you can’t be there in person because there’s airfare involved, be in communication. Call, text, write, pray for, whatever.

I want to acknowledge the times I’ve been there for people this past year, as well as all those who have shown up for me in ways big and small. You have all made my life richer, and I hope you can say the same for me.

I am also going to take a self-congratulatory minute here to acknowledge completing and publishing a book! (I’m even going for the exclamation point!)

It is not an easy endeavor to write a book. In fact, I was fairly certain, after my first book took me ten years to complete, that I would never write another.

This is why you should never say never.

Publishing was also an adventure, and I would like to impart something I learned in the course of starting with one publisher and ending with another – always listen to your intuition. You cannot have a happy ending to an unhappy journey. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie. We have to make decisions that honor ourselves, even if it means we risk losing everything we think we wanted.

So that’s what I wish for you and me – that we make decisions that truly honor ourselves.

..and that brings me to transformation. If you are the same person you were this time a year ago, well, first, I’m so sorry. And second, what the hell?!

I am grateful for the ways in which I’ve changed, both from learning the hard way, and for the times I chose ease instead.

In order for us to be of greater service to the world, I think we must become more and more ourselves at our best. Now, we can choose the path of struggle and kicking and screaming (which I have historically been a master at and chosen repeatedly), or we can choose ease and joy and ways of showing up that honor our best. I’ll be honest – I’m a work in progress. I have never even seen the way of ease and joy as a viable option until recently. But it doesn’t matter how long it takes us to get there, it just matters that we get there, so I’m choosing it now.

That brings me back to the book. Optimist that I am, I wanted to impart every bit of wisdom I amassed in my life, just in case, you know, I got hit by a truck or something…which, coincidently, I have done and survived, so really, I might want to rethink my morbidity a bit.

How to Calm the Hell Down and Be Happy is out now and I would love it if you bought yourself a copy and took a looksee. (Buy on Amazon)

As for my New Year’s intentions, I’ll be blogging those in the next few days, along with an announcement about what my third book will be! (Again with the exclamation points!)

I hope you take a moment to reflect and appreciate your own 2018. I am so grateful you stopped by and chose to spend a few minutes with me.

xo
Ilene

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

a modern day miracle


'Tis the holiday season, the time when we recount miracles of all kinds.

Usually, this is my favorite time of year. Never mind being Jewish. I love the lights, the music, and the sappy movies, but more than the festivities, I love that people, if only for a brief moment, seem kinder toward one another. Well, until this year, that is.

This year feels different and finds me with a longing heart. If people are being kinder toward one another, I don’t readily see it, and so it’s got me wondering what a miracle would look like today and how we’d recognize it.

In the dictionary, “miracle” is defined as “a wonder, a marvel, an extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause” – in other words, a work of God.

By that definition, in today’s world, love, kindness, and compassion are miracles.

Looking around, I don’t need any extra convincing of it. So I want to talk about becoming the miracle of love, kindness, and compassion in a world looking more and more devoid of it.

We can start by knowing that even with those we would acknowledge that we utterly despise, we share something in common. And I would argue that what we share in common is our pain.

Pain levels the playing field. It finds us all – the richest and the poorest, the mightiest and the meekest among us and it wreaks equal havoc on all our lives.

Pain exposes our inherent vulnerability, which I think is a good thing, because it can be the invitation we’ve been secretly longing for that reconnects us with one another.

The antidote, the only antidote for our pain, be it individual or collective, is love, kindness, and compassion.

For starters, I’m extending those things to myself. We can’t give away what we don’t have, so maybe it’s time we offer ourselves that which we would want others to give us.

For the past month or so, I’ve been calling, writing, and seeing people I haven’t spoken to in too long a time and reconnecting. Relationships need tending. They don’t grow and deepen without effort. This is another way we heal the world - by growing our connection to one another.

I’m taking an extra few seconds and going out of my way, whether it’s in the grocery store, reaching the top shelf for an older person, or holding the door at the post office, or telling as many people as I can something I love about them, be it an article of clothing or their soul.

This season, I’m staying present to the gift of now and the fragility of life.

It is time to stop making a mess of everything and then ask someone else to clean it up. That is childish and we are not children.

It is time we stop longing for peace on earth, good will toward men and finally realize that only we can be the deliverers of that.

We can be either the creators of each other’s pain or the creators of our healing.

‘Tis the season to heal. To show mercy and kindness. To be compassionate in the way we ourselves need compassion.

Loving one another – yeah, that would be a modern day miracle.

We don’t have to watch It’s a Wonderful Life to know what the world would look like without us. It would look like it does now, when we’re here, but not participating.

So let’s participate.

This is the season of miracles, and we, my friends, are the miracle workers.

May your days be filled with the miracle of love, kindness, and compassion that you are.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.