A Resolute Spirit


As a nod to one of the words for 2016 posted by Merriam-Webster-‘post-truth’; part of this piece is ‘post-time’. Its initial writing came to an abrupt halt due to, well, you’ll see.

The End of…. 2015

The last day is coming and a wintery air of anticipation abounds. This closing of time is like a book that one has finally, yet often stubbornly, finished.

It flies around you like an insistent bird that won’t stop flapping its wings and banging its beak into that tree outside your window. Walking through hazy morning eyes toward your coffee, your bare foot crunches a slight piece of bark. It has a soft, dulcet tone until it leaves a splinter in your heel. How did this get into my house!

And there is the book waiting on your kitchen table. It is a somewhat annoying book, really. Not consistent, not hilariously funny, but not dreadfully sad. Its protagonist was kind of brave, was kind of well behaved, and was way too attached to good cheese. She was not overly lovable, but not too disliked; just enough to confirm she still had some spice. Room for improvement, for sure, but would not be a total embarrassment if flirted with in a bar.

“So”, said my New Year’s Resolution Fairy, although she looked more a cross between a gargoyle gone soft and a lapsed, yet surprisingly glamorous, burlesque dancer. She adjusted her wings into the cushions on my couch, then threw one leg over the other and proceeded to pump it in steady rhythm. It reminded me of the cat clock I had as a child. The tail moved back and forth like a metronome of time. Only this was no cat and it did not purr. Rather, it brandished questions and comments like an old feathered fan that had been used in some onstage extravaganza.

“tell me what ya got.”

“I don’t know yet. I haven’t thought about it and I didn’t know you were coming today.” Did I really just say that? I felt like a guilty child. I busied myself with straightening up to avoid eye contact. In other words, I moved things from here to there for no reason whatsoever.

“I can think of a thing or two,” she quipped, eyeing my newest and fanciest cheese board. Those eyes made a slow orbit between my birthday gift to myself and my eyes, which I am sure, resembled the proverbial deer caught in the headlights; not a grown woman who knows how to stand her ground.

“Okay,” I said rising to the occasion. I called on my inner Wonder Woman and planted my feet on the floor, lifted my chin in righteous clarity, and spoke.

“I will not be bullied and shamed. I am a grown up and I can determine my own indulgences.” And with that, I blew a bit of bang out of my eyes. Not the strongest ending, I suppose.

My declaration was met with a stern look of bland amusement. “You got any wine to go with that cheese?” she asked. “I seem to recall we discussed wine last year.”

As usual, she got the last word, and off I went for a bottle of my best red. “Would you like to chase that down with some scotch? I seem to recall we discussed that as well,” I retorted, proud of my quick inspiration. “Touché,” I thought. A bold parry, this was. After all, she was getting something out of the deal.

“Why, yes, I do recall that,” she answered, “but if you think plying me with even more liquor than last year will give me a hangover, don’t bother. You think I look like this because I don’t know how to drink?”

“Okay, look,” I said, taking a seat next to her while defiantly munching on cheese and a slice of zucchini that I often use as a cracker, “I am a foodie. If I ate food the way I talk about it I would not be able to fit through doors and I would be on more medications than you can fit in a pill organizer.”

No response; just a well-appointed foot- she does have good taste in shoes- tapping, ever so slightly, the embellished edge of that new cheese platter.

“This is going to be tougher than I thought…again,” I quietly lamented.

And then….

Yellow!!!!! I woke up yellow!!!!! It was the tip of 2016. I was still rolling with 2015. The Resolution Fairy had barely left. I was still finding her snarky looks peering around the edges of the notebook I was recording her yearly visit in when….I woke up yellow!!!!!

I take care of myself with clean food-even the disputed cheese is infested with nature, not additives-and clean supplements and herbs…oops. Clearly, that herb was not clean enough as it spread havoc within my innards like a stealth bomber until….Have I told you I woke up yellow?

So I spent the year de-yellowing, de-traumatizing and de-lighting my inner resources.

New Year’s Eve and Last Night of Chanukah 2016

Okay, well here we go again. There is still cheese, but I am chasing it down with beet juice in my finest wine glass, of course.

“I’ll show her,” I thought.

Despite the year I have had, I still believe in the aesthetic life. Beauty and necessity can partner and sustain an ideal. Beauty adds to living. It does not diminish moral values or actions. And this year was filled with moral and immoral actions on a grand and global scale.

Now it was my turn to tap my feet. My Resolution Fairy was later than usual. Was she having too good a time outraging someone else?  I decided that when she heard about my very colorful year, we would have something to celebrate. Maybe she would forgo the blasts of eyeball and snorts, and cheer me on for once. I decided to bring out my good port and long unused antique port glasses to mark the occasion.

While my head was stuck in the china cabinet, which had gotten scarily dusty during my year hiatus, I heard a tenor toned yelp and then I heard a crash. “Oh, this does not bode well,” I said to myself. Perhaps she had as tough a year as I did. I wondered if she ever takes broken resolutions personally, or is her not so veiled disdain the answer to my question. I guess if I were in her position, I might get a little cranky myself.

So I walked into the living room bearing a shiny grin and crystal glasses when I was stopped short in my reverie. My eyes were filled with the most disheveled and frayed creature I ever could have imagined would share space on the celestial pod, or wherever fairies and their like live.

I never could get a clear answer out of my R.F.; who absolutely abhorred when I called her that. The only thing she ever said was not to be too surprised, as she was when she started this gig, with the motley crew that any group of beings can include, emphasis and eye-jab on ‘any’ pointing toward me, as I recall. But I think I also recall just a wee smile from her.

“You’re not my Resolution Fairy,” I said as he unraveled himself from my curtains.

“May I help you?” I continued. “You seemed to be lost.” But my eyes were stuck on permanent open because I didn’t want to lose any part of this sight.

“I’m not lost at all,” he said. “I’m taking over some of her cases this year’s end eve.”

And then I blinked…a lot. “Cases?  Is that what I am…stop…A mess to be managed…stop… Well, harrumph to you!” I screamed inside my head.

I probably looked like I was practicing Morse Code.

“Overrun we are, with the most recent of hatchling resolutioners. Oh, and by the by, she most dislikes when you call her R.F.”

“Well, if Yoda channeled Shakespeare, it would be you; and yes, I know she does not like it,” I replied while chomping on some much needed cheese, as I was left famished by all that blinking.

“Who are you then? You certainly don’t look like a fairy.”

Not that I had a hold on what all fairies look like, but I presumed they all at least had wings, and this creature was as close to the ground as one could come.  He held onto whatever he could find as if he were in the constant possibility of landing face down on whatever surface was beneath his odd little shoes. Nope, not a fairy.

“I am merely a fraction of a most large spirit beast such that holds time.” He was off and unwinding like a too tightly wound pocket watch.

“How I lament, with every pass of moment, the waste of chance, oh sorry humanity, you had, to make time move toward something of bounteous conflagration of wills and ways. Verily, oh, woe to me, who feels you swat me like a fly.” His flailing arms could hold him no more. His center of gravity lost to his grave words, and with that, he fell over flat.

“Please forgive my outward passion. I have not been ‘on the job’, as you say, since William penned himself to history.”

“Holy crap,” I thought. “You have been retired that long? We must be in bad shape if they pulled you out of the Globe. Here is some mead for you then,” I said leaning down to floor level.

“I know what port is,” he sniped. “Gimme that,” and he grabbed the bottle.

We spent the rest of his time with me, as he did have other ‘cases’ to see, discussing the dawning awareness of the political imperative to action, drinking beet juice and port; well he had the port and almost all of the cheese, laughing and crying and basically charming the hell out of each other.

We agreed that the only resolution anyone needs to make this year is to keep moving forward, if that is already what you do; and for the new resolutioners, to begin to move forward. For those of us in the first group, I also suggest that we add another to our list. We will keep motivating all of us and mentoring the newly awakened ones.

To you all, I offer my new friend’s last words, borrowed from his old friend.

All days are nights to see till I see thee

And nights bright days when dreams do show me thee.’ ( William Shakespeare Sonnet 43)

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Why I Light Two Menorahs



This has been a tough year for many personally, and for the country and world, it has been a collective mess. There was little helpful communication and much pain. People and their ideals were at each other’s throats. The earth has been under siege for many years, but this year we have seen the last straw begin to tear. I don’t think I know anyone who is not eager for this year to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.

Chanukah ushers in my favorite season of Jewish holidays: Chanukah, Tu B’Shevat and Purim. These are about light, growth, process and reaching beyond ourselves and facing the shadows and what holds us back. These are also about nature in a more direct way, and the deep mythos of the human spirit. We can swim in the primordial sea, so to speak. We can travel between realms. These are less about concrete history and more about attributes of the soul and of the community and earth as a whole. The historical significance of Chanukah is not lost on me, but it is not front and center.

And yes, all of the holidays reach deep within but for me the resonance of this part of the year is a little deeper for that; not that I don’t love each spoke of our holy wheel, though. I have certainly gone on about them all.

So why do I light two menorahs with one menorah adding candles each night and the other way reducing them? While I have discussed this in a past article, that also has other morsels about the holiday, (https://insighthealingdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/the-hebrew-month-of-kislev/), here is an additional insight, and I think for what we are faced with globally, a helpful practice.

Chanukah is in the Hebrew months of Kislev-the first 6 nights-and Tevet-the last 2 nights. Each month was created by a Hebrew letter. The letter Samech created Kislev and the letter Ayin created Tevet.

Kislev – Samech   01-15samech                    Tevet – Ayin    ayin

Samech reflects the concept of ‘Ain Soph’: the endless infinity that surrounds and sustains us. Like the circle that the Samech resembles, we are supported by the ever present and ever moving infinite reach of spirit and time. It can charm you with its welcoming moonbeam smile, but it also lets you know that you are part of it as well. Just like the Samech is a letter that is without end, we are also without end, as is our continuing human story. The letter means to support. This circle of support is there for us.

Ayin reflects the concept of ‘nothingness’. In Hebrew,’ Yesh M’ayin’ (in Latin-ex nihlio), translates to ‘something from nothing’. It is this absence that is necessary for the infinite to fill. It is non-being that waits for its creation. How can a no thing be a container that holds the thing of creation? How can light come from a cold candle wick. It becomes its potential by a flick of a spark that is within the head of a match. This is the act of creation from seemingly nothing. The letter Ayin means eye. We can see from nothingness if we have the spiritual eyes to see potential.

When we can see with the eyes that the Ayin offers us, our eyes, we can see into the void and to the other side. We can see the Samech and garner its support.

From nothingness to somethingness, from expansion to contraction; lighting candles that grow and diminish each night creates an energy flow in both directions. For those who experience this energy as a palpable force, I invite you to use this to radiate forward.  This is the richest metaphor that I can think of for where we are at this moment. These movements are the breathing of the universe, the breaths that we each take, the words that we each say, that can bestow love and understanding or hurt and anger.

This is what we need to do now. As we move toward a time when taking communal action to repair what has been broken must be a priority we need to be committed, to be brave and to be aware of what fires we light and how to reach without and within.

Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for repair the world. May we all be blessed to do just that.

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Oh, Holidays

Oh holidays,

To the latkes I am cooking,

At whose applesauce topping I am looking,

Your potatoy goodness astounds me,

Your oily needs confound me.

Oh, holidays,

To the cookies I am baking,

With no grain, dairy or sugar I am making,

Will anyone be glad that they are for the taking?

For a Jew in Vermont, a state that despite being blue,

Is still a state of Christmas to which the cows moo.

So I sat with a cat wearing antlers on my knee,

And elatedly helped decorate my first New England tree.

I styled that thing from its limbs to its trunk,

My earnest enthusiasm could not be sunk.

I spiraled garland to add depth to its skinny bark center

‘Oh look,’ I called to my holy day mentor

With ornaments a plenty still dripping with glee

They wanted to see where they would go on said tree.

With glitter from icicles still on my face,

I was in a happy frenzy to keep up the pace.

But one who has designed NYC wreaths and tables aplenty,

Is apparently not appreciated as a north country celebration sentry.

So let me just say with a sigh and lament

At least they didn’t show me to the cold, cold cement.

Was it culture or couture that led to my demise?

Oh, well, I still have my menorah light in my eyes.

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11/12 and Counting-Election Reflection



11/12 and Counting


I went to sleep half an hour before the election was called. My sleep was grey and dreamless.


 I awoke unable to take my usual deep and nourishing morning breath. The only thing I could manage was a thin inhale that had to maneuver between stone piled upon stone.

I was in a supreme oxygen-withholding-deep-dread-awareness-of-the-day-before mode. This soon became laced with organ menacing fear. My blood and breath were running their course, but with their backs to one another. This felt like a mirror of what is going on in our country. Those on opposite sides and preference have turned away from each other to lick their wounds or shine their win.

I thought about what will happen to Standing Rock. I thought about how deeply ingrained our country’s misogyny is; how fierce it is in our cultural geology. It is scary squared to think about Trump and Pence having a go at us. I thought about friends who voted for Trump and Pence and their vile views. What might this do to friendships? These were all issues that had been contentious conversations before the election. What would happen now?

We: those who voted for Hillary, those who voted third party and those who did not vote at all, are part of how this happened, as is the campaign and Hillary herself. Did we really believe no matter what happened that we had this election in the bag? Were we just too complacent to call out the behind the scene chicanery of ‘our’ party and the media? What if we protested then and not now?

I know that even if we did all we could, that the political machine is not a cool and witty steampunk contraption. It is a behemoth of gears of unrelenting disregard for those who do not oil it. We may still have had this outcome.


It was a blur of grasping for a normal moment; but normal is reshaping itself. It is throwing off our old expectations and behavior. That normal is chalk on the sidewalk outlining a body waiting for a forensic examination. This will be blown away by January’s snows. Don’t try to catch the glittery dust. There is no romance in those sparkles. My mantra for the day was, “We don’t need the SYFY channel. We are living it.”

Facebook was a flutter with condemnation, allegations and challenges of retribution. Some questioned if they should unfriend their friends who stood on the opposite side. Others tried to educate by posting endless articles and memes meant to show each other the way. Some tried to placate and reach out. Basically, Facebook used some funky mushrooms in its soup recipe post.

People look for comfort and explanation when bad things happen in order to cope. Posts and conversations began to talk about how Trump is our shadow figure and that this is a good thing to have happened so that now we can fix it. One article told me that Trump is really our spiritual teacher and that we can learn all about the darkness from him. Can you guess what my shadow wanted to do when I read that?

While there is some truth to this; to hear this now feels like an easy way to take the sting out of what happened through the guise of being ‘spiritual’(and I am part of that world).But I don’t want to take the sting out. I don’t want to risk losing the urgency to act. We need the sting.

The time will come when this shadow can be our guide to action, but we need to become stronger and unified first, or risk becoming passive because we are overwhelmed with the task.


In a need for some relief of growing fears I wondered “What would be in my swag bag from this new venue of the Un-United States?” The grips dissolved in my hands when I picked it up. Clearly, I didn’t have a handle on this thing yet.

But then there were the swastikas.  I remembered learning about Nazis as a child, and being afraid to go to the bathroom at night because I would see two Nazis there with guns.

The hatred and bigotry is not only pointed toward Jews, I know this; but because the Nazi Swastika is still the symbol used, as it has become a container for all hatred; I cannot help but feel the time when I was in third grade and had rocks thrown at me for being Jewish.

The darkness of generational pain and loss again stops my breath, but it also sharpens my eyes and makes my feet want to walk hard on the path to join in the fixing.

We cannot become quiet and still after the first spate of protests fade, and our everyday lives call us back. What is ahead is daunting. It is bigger than each of us. It has also happened before. We have to look at history and finally learn from it. I fear that if we do not do this, and do not work together in a committed, compassionate and smartly strategic way, we will become the country of our nightmares.

Friday Night-Shabbat

It is Friday night. The sun has set on the fourth day since the elections. Autumn night Shabbats are my solace. The early darkness of these weeks, that only last till the next solstice, is a precious time to me. It is richly lush with the scent of the shifting earth. There are still some leaves left to swirl in the winds and our gardens are putting themselves to ground to begin their new year of regeneration.

This is a poignant image of what we need to do right now. We need to look deep into our own interior landscapes and then we need to look toward each other.

I remember lighting candles and singing with the friends with whom I am now at odds. Politics and religion are hard issues to clash over, and this election has brought them both out full force. I am not sure that the- we should just agree to disagree-solution will work this time.

The principled stance, despite the different ideas about what that is, has become a central pillar of discourse. The politic and the moral are deeply interwoven in the Trump/Pence platform. They see their politics growing out of their religious beliefs. Separation of their church and state does not exist in this world view that is rife with twisted and hateful declarations and plans to act on them.

“I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history,” said Pence. How can we respond to this? Action, not only words, must become the new response. Registering Muslims is the beginning of another holocaust, and not disavowing David Duke is agreeing with him.


I have friends who voted for this ticket because of its economic policies. They say they disagree with the misogyny, racism, xenophobic plans, denial of climate change, LGBTQ rights, voter suppression, etc. They do not see the disparity of this.  Those who are vehemently opposed to Trump/Pence do not see how they can miss it. This is where communications break down, and friendships find themselves in peril.

“When we judge others – we contribute to violence” – Marshall Rosenberg

Friday Night- Shabbat Mantra: “Before you taste anything, recite a blessing.” Rabbi Akiva

Saturday-Shabbat Morning:

It is Saturday, still Shabbat, and five days in and counting. The air is crisp and I feel fried. I have spent some time on Facebook posting and responding to other’s posts. I told myself that I would limit this because I didn’t want to get pulled into the whirlpool of call and response of the frustration, anger and pain. I needed a break and I wanted some solitary time to collect my own thoughts. I can take in just so much before I begin to lose my already off kilter center. And it is Shabbat, so why did I even turn on my computer?

Saturday-Shabbat Late Afternoon:

Words are difficult to reach now. The past days have lodged themselves in my body. As the sky begins to turn toward the evening, the end of Shabbat is coming. I usually feel filled with new energy for the incoming week, but I feel tired and heavy with concern and despair. When the body, mind and emotion are on overwhelm, the spirit steps back to make room for what the soul needs to process. The extra soul that we receive on Shabbat has not been a comfort to me because I can hardly feel it. My heart is wide eyed with pain and turmoil. I fight with myself to find my hope, the belief that we can make it through what is to come, and then, somehow, I feel a fragile smile of resolve.

Saturday night:

Hasn’t come yet. Can I presume I know what to assume? Not anymore.

But I do know that we cannot just crawl back into the cocoon of stillness. We need to fight that inclination and then fight the fight. Inaction is not acceptable.

Cry, if you are inclined, with tears of salt or howl with tears of primal tones. Let those tears roil into a sea of engagement. We need to move into the waves of action and wisdom.

I am afraid that the earth’s hands will let her fingers, that have been so entwined to hold us, dissolve and we will fall into the muddy abyss if we do not.


This was originally published in Vermont Views Magazine:





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Blessed Samhain


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Tis the Season


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In recognition of World Aides Day, the following poem was written about John Fletcher Harris who lived in NYC. He died 25 ears ago today. Dec. 5, 1990.
I took care of him in the hospital the last month of his life. While his father would not come over to see him before he died, as he could not cope with John being gay, he never saw the huge light that John was for so many. His ashes are in Glastonbury.

And so I came to where you did your spirit’s work.
We did not speak, but I sat in your circle week after week.
You were mysterious to me.

And I would go home to the skies of late fall
And watch the shadows change from under my
warm sweater and steamy coffee and hazelnut liqueur.
The air smelled sweet-the time was safe.

One day you walked across the room.
You were not alone-you were not alone.
I saw the silent sigil of death that walked behind you.
You were in two worlds at once-and
the air parted to let you through.

And then there was voice on the phone.
“Go to the hospital. He is there.”
I was catapulted fast, so fire burning fast
that I had no choice but to follow its flame.
I saw the cold tiled floor and heard the
relentless clicking and churning of the machines.

I walk into your room and you are asleep.
You are asleep in your frailty, in your anger, in your pain
in a sterile white bed.
You sink into the middle: it surrounds you.
You look like a long, thin wavering line.
But your presence is strong-even then.
Are you traveling in your sleep-
time across the universe?
No, not yet.
We have work to do, you and I.

I put my hands around you.
I feel your heart and see where you are.
You know I am here.
And I begin to know you-
through my hands, through my heart.
These were the tools I had for you.
I began to know your pain and terror,
But I also learned your beauty and love.
You echoed in my heart in the most endless way.

It is twilight, darkness is coming.
This is not the comforting time of home-
This is not safe.
This twilight is of bold transition.
It moves the day to night with swift strides:
A tidal wave of shadows tumble in against the moon.

Our time was about our deepening connection
That was a step towards completion.
The fact of death, the process of dying shows us our frailty,
but also makes us find our strength.
Your heart lay upon my heart and beckoned me.
Your soul was the object of my vision.
For me your dying was to learn that vision.
For you it was a last lesson of love.

There is a certain rhythm to being.
It is a silent current in the earth: in our souls.
It is subterranean wet.
And when we reach it, we can ride its moist power-
Be surrounded by its waving, undulating pulse.
This is where the knowing is.
This is what we listen to deeply.
The language of the earth is time.
The language of the divine is love.
They intersect, they intertwine.

The day you were ready to leave I was in my kitchen.
You stood impatient-you were ready.
On the train the rhythm of the wheels felt like the beating of your heart.
My heart joined yours for one last time.
It grew luminous and multi-colored-the air was thick.
Time was culminating in a cascade of pulsing breaths.
We would ride them together until you could go alone.
I felt your moving to death around me like a wrapping from centuries ago.
It had the smell of time.
It had the feeling of grace.
It had the rumble of thunder.

I came to you.
A tear rolled down your cheek.
We looked toward each other one last time.
I saw you through the light-just a little way
And touched you one last time.
And then the air became sweet and the time felt safe.

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