I am broken

It is easy to respond to the U.S. introductory question "How are you?" with "I'm fine" or "I'm good." From now on, I'm going to reply, "I'm broken."

I've always been broken and my work has always been to repair myself. Now that my eyes are clear and I can see the misogyny and bigotry that pervade many parts of this country, I realize it is my duty to be public with my brokenness. You cannot fix me. I do not tell you my status because I expect something from you. My depths are shattered and it is my obligation to lean into my brokenness, to learn from the darkness, and bend it toward the light. 

Our collective obligation is to challenge injustice, to defend our brothers and sisters.

Islam and Muslims are not the enemy.

Black, brown, and yellow people are not the enemy.

Jews and other non-Christians are not the enemy.

Fear and hatred is the enemy. 

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I'll keep praying

It breaks my heart every time someone says to stop praying. Their intentions are as noble as the people who say "now is the time for grieving; don't politicize this tragedy." In each case, people are trying to make sense of tragedy and to create space for a better future. Friends who are angry at the number of mass shootings in the United States claim the only way out of this is by banning some types of guns and [insert other political change here]. Others who grieve the loss of innocent souls believe that honoring those humans and supporting their loved ones in mourning is the first step to creating a better world. 

Instead of arguing with one another over the "proper" way to honor the dead, I wish we would listen to one another.

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Revelation: aligning with The Good, challenging evil

Today is the second day of Shavuot, the Jewish holiday of revelation. Like Rosh Hashanah, this is a one-day holiday. Hopefully, next year I will be able to provide a fuller explanation of why more traditional Jews celebrate these holidays as two days and others celebrate one day.

Shavuot means "weeks" in Hebrew. We arrive at the day by counting omer (an ancient unit of measurement, a sheaf of grain) for seven weeks from the second day of Passover. On the fiftieth day, we celebrate Shavuot. Originally, this was an agricultural holiday - focused on bringing first fruits to the Temple. Then, the rabbis connected the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai with the holiday, hence the focus on revelation. The primary way to celebrate the holiday is with an all-night study session on the night it begins (which was Saturday, June 11, 2016). 

This holiday always reminds me of the Shavuot 2011 / 5771, when I reaffirmed my deep desire to go to rabbinical school and recommitted to my daily spiritual practice in particular and Judaism in general. This year, I have almost completed the application process for the Academy for Jewish Religion Rabbinical School.*

Of course, recent events have rattled me. I am particularly distraught that many people have responded to the mass murder at a nightclub in Orlando by denouncing religion in general, and Islam in particular. 

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Loving Life

I am so thrilled with life. It's been quite busy, but being on maternity leave has brought such clarity.

I love working for NationBuilder - I never imagined having a job that so closely aligns with my vision for the world. 

I love being married to Chung-Mau Cheng.

I love being pregnant and am so looking forward to being a mom.

I'm so grateful that my parents came into town the first time I thought I was in labor and now will be here whenever our child arrives. 

Stay tuned - it's going to be an exciting month....

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Acknowledging the Ghost

For a long time, it seemed strange to allow voices in my head to speak their truths. Over the course of four years, I think I've finally grown to apple-honey.jpegunderstand what Rabbi Finley means when he talks about the Shadow Self. It's a part of you that will never go away. It contains suppressed desires and feeling, all the aspects of you that don't see the light of day on the "A" side. It's important to let the Shadow Self talk, not to repress it. 

Rabbi Finley's drash today at Wilshire Ebell Theatre really pierced my soul. Here are some excerpts from my notes:

You can only live one life at a time.

The Shadow is in the basement and is shouting all the time.

It is the ghost of lost and missed opportunities.

Tell your Shadow, "I understand your pain and angst. I can't let you give me advice on what to do. I will listen completely."

The goal is to understand all aspects of youbefore making a decision on how to live deeply, how to live with courage. By acknowledging the pain of the Shadow, you can move towards living without anger, shame, anxiety, and depression.

For me, hearing that the Shadow is the ghost of lost and missed opportunities made everything click. I've made a thousand different choices in my 3+ decades of life. I have deep regret over things I did while in the grip of my Shadow, yet simultaneously I know that following those paths led me to where I am today: the wife of the most incredible man I've ever met. Since we met at work, it's unlikely any other set of choices would have led me to where I am today. So I work hard to forgive myself. To recognize that the guilt is unuseful - I can't change the choices of the past, I can only choose to live a more meaningful, intentional life in the present and the future. 

For the next ten days, I'll be reflecting on the past with an eye towards penitance, but more importantly with an eye towards outlining my deepest wounds. By understand my core wounds, I'll be able to determine a path forward. Rather than repressing that angst, I'll elevate it to a place of holy sorrow. And I'll be able to remove it from the shadow's reliquary. My pain can become sustenance, nourishing me towards future growth. I must accept that missed opportunities were not meant to be in this life time. That my path today, though rockier and slower than I expected, is leading me towards a soul-expanding conversation with the Divine. And I choose to not allow the Ghost of Missed Opportunities to continue to haunt my psyche. 

The ghost is real, but she can no longer posess me. I choose a life of virtue, a life of rationality and strength. I know my fears and anxieties will lessen as soon as I stop allowing the Shadow to take hold of me in moments of weakness. 

Shana tovah. May your year be filled with goodness, hope, strength, and resiliance. 

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Sovereignty of the Divine

This has been a tumultuous year for me. I married my soulmate - clearly the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Des_IMG_9326.jpgWe went on an amazing honeymoon to Paris - easily my best vacation ever. 

And then, 1.5 weeks after we returned from that honeymoon, I was laid off. That wasn't just an economic bump in the road. That single act began a process that spiraled out of control. First, I started freaking out about all the last minute wedding costs I had put on my credit card (did I really need $1,000 worth of flowers, most of which were in the synagogue on the Shabbat before our wedding and I never saw again?) Did I really need to get all those facials before the wedding, spending gobs of money to make sure I looked okay in photographs when I married an art director who could easily remove any blemish from the photo? (Okay, this last one's a no-brainer. Yes, I "needed" them. I'm glad I looked my best at my wedding and I'm glad I took some time for myself to relax before the big day.)

The cracks in my life were bigger than monetary regrets. I had spent the weeks before our wedding focused on my work, specifically on helping Occupy LA be the best experience it could be. Was it worth it? Was it worth the thousand little things I didn't plan for before the wedding? Was it worth the stress I put on my beloved by not being fully present in the preparations for our big day? Absolutely not. There is no political activity in the world nor any work responsibility that deserves to take you away from your beloved and from fully experiencing the process that leads to your wedding. There simply isn't. I've been able to forgive myself a bit, but the regret lingers and I don't know if I'll ever fully heal this wound.

For some reason, losing my job also led to me losing my faith. There were misteps along the way to the wedding - the location of our reception was changed the Thursday before and that was something that took me a long time to get over. I stopped going to shul. Fearful of losing our home, I stopped paying for our temple membership. And for six months, I dug myself into a deeper and deeper depression, closed myself off from my spiritual community and began having long conversations with the dog because she was the only one around most of the time.

And then, tragedy struck.

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Makeup Is My Wig

On Twitter, Roger Ebert posted a link to his post about Talia, a twelve year-old cancer patient who vlogs makeup tips and cancer treatment. As a friend commented when I posted this on Facebook, she knows how to do makeup better than most people three times her age. And I love the idea of wearing makeup instead of a wig. Here's a super cute example: 


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The Act of Will

Robert Assagioli wrote an incredible little book about will, long before neuroscience gave us The Power of Habit or The Willpower Instinct.

The best thing about studying Assagioli is that it isn't difficult to read his writing. Its theme can be overwhelming; but the map to a coherent existence that it offers is priceless. Some of us yearn for a deeper existence and a life of meaning must be pursued consciously. By understanding the qualities of will, the types of will, and using will to harmonize our sensations, feelings, impulses, imagination, thoughts, and intuition we can lift ourselves to a higher realm of consciousness.

Assagioli's Relationship Between Self, Will and Other Psychological Functions

Assagioli's Relationship Between Self, Will and Other Psychological Functions


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