Being With Our Emotions

Posted by Harriet on

scan0003People sometimes say, ‘Don’t just sit there, do something.’ But we have to reverse that statement to say, ‘Don’t just do something, sit there.’”  Thich Nhat Hanh


The introduction and now prevalence of the concept of mindfulness into mainstream society (not just up on mountain tops with monks and spiritual gurus) has brought with it the action of {just} ‘sitting’.  It usually refers to sitting in meditation.

But let’s take ‘sitting’ a step further to the idea of ‘being’, as opposed to doing.  We know we’re all about doing.  And the more we do the seemingly better off we are.  We’re productive, accomplished and busy with the business of life.  But we’re losing something along the way.  We’re losing our way towards that rich, meaningful and engaged life.

Mindfulness is here to help bring us back a wee bit and center us from the over-shoot and over-emphasis towards all that doing.  It’s focus is on being with life, taking it in, feeling it, observing it.

More specifically I’m looking here at emotions and how mindfulness, or being with our feelings, plays out.

We’re all naturally quick to want to rid ourselves of any negative emotions.  Nobody wants to feel bad –  be it fearful, worried, anxious, angry, frustrated, sad, jealous and the whole gamut of disturbing feelings.  We want to run from them as fast as possible by numbing, distracting, negating, fixing.

What would happen if we just sat with those uncomfortable feelings for a while?  What if we became aware of them and stayed with them, observing and feeling, before we tried to change and purge them from our being? 

Mindfulness – The Rich Life

Posted by Harriet on

IMG_3012Walking along a beautiful nature trail, crunching those fallen golden leaves under our feet, hubby says, “ so what’s your schedule for tomorrow (Monday).  A very common question for him.  My response has lately become, “Let’s not talk about tomorrow right now, let’s just focus on here and now and take it in.”  May sound corny but it’s become very natural for me.  I don’t want to lose the experience we set out to enjoy, or to be really corny – I want to revel in it.

At my daughter’s wedding (6 years ago), my one piece of advice to her on that day was, “focus and feel each part of the wedding for it goes by in the blink-of-an-eye and it will then feel like a dream.”

Did you ever drive someplace and when you got there you didn’t even remember driving?  It’s as if you were on auto-pilot.  That’s often how we live our lives.  We go through the motions and land up where we need to be.  And then we wonder about the blurriness of it all.   Like the eveready energizer bunny, we just keep on going.  Wind us up and we’re off.    But where’s the joy, the richness, the engagement??  It’s all so fleeting and oftentimes unnoticeable.

At some point we may wake up and realize, wow where did it all go?  Now truth be told, time goes very fast no matter how we live it.  As Gretchin Rubin says, “The days are long but the years are short.

Feeling Alone In A Season Of Joy

Posted by Harriet on


The official holiday season is upon us.  A time to be joyful and happy.   But for oh so many it’s not quite that glowing a time.  In fact, it’s the opposite.   And because the hoopla is so high and dazzled with such excitement, the low tide of those feeling anything but, is expansive, magnified and intensified.

The idea of gathering together in relationships and family connections, digs that hole even deeper into the heart and soul of those sailing alone.  And those who are seemingly externally connected may also feel that pit of despair, hopelessness and emptiness to the core, oftentimes unbeknownst to their loved ones.   Feelings of loss are hollowing during a time of expected rejoicing.

And so for all those suffering through this “should be” happy season, your pain and loneliness stands atop of the mountain with open arms to a world larger than your sight.  It is understood, it is acknowledged, it is felt, even if by only a few.

But here’s the key: it needs to be understood, acknowledged and felt by you, the one who stands alone in pain.

  • Befriend your pain; let yourself feel it.  It won’t shatter you.  Accept that it is a part of you right now and let that be O.K.   Sit with it and talk with it like you would to a friend.  Be your own friend, comforting and soothing, not dismissive or judgmental.    Otherwise, the more you resist it, the bigger it gets.
  • Step outside yourself and go do for others. 

The 3 Rs of Self-Care

Posted by Harriet on

IMG_2724Going through your regular daily chores of living or dealing specifically with a rough, challenging situation(s) requires you to keep yourself replenished so that you can carry on well, cope and give to those in your care.  In other words, minimize running on empty, burning out and falling apart.

Just as we must have water and feed our bodies so we don’t weaken and get sick, we must nurture our bodies, mind and soul so we can maintain our strength in managing our life well.

I know what you’re going to say: I barely have time to breathe, let alone take any time for myself.  Now there truly is a few minutes a day that you can make and an hour here and there a week.  And it’s not about having the time, it’s about making it.

Ellen DeGeneres in her very funny way says we all suffer from TBD – too busy disorder.  This in and itself causes stress.  And then the problem becomes lack of recovery time.  We must have some recoup time.

We can’t wait for those big time opportunities like vacations for a week during the year or a couple of weekends per year.  We need to have micro time periods, those small bits of time each day/week to replenish.  These small amounts can positively affect the quality of our days and our managing abilities. Small changes in how we spend our time can bring about big change in our level of well-being. They are restorative and fill our buckets.

The Dash of Life – Between Our Birth and Death Date

Posted by Harriet on

mban1920l-300x290Unless you’re looking at a tombstone, you’re probably not going to notice or certainly not think about the little line between the person’s birth date and death date.  And even when you see it, you may not really think about and reflect on what that line means.

It means everything!   In between those two dates is life – the life of a person.  That little line says it all.  How did you live? What was your life like?


A stone dedication, known as the unveiling, was done for my mom today.  This occurs within the first year of passing.  It’s been eight months since my mom died.  I wanted to do it before the cold set in.  It was a most meaningful and intimate ceremony at the graveside.  My mom’s rabbi spoke so gently and beautifully, reflecting on the prayers for the dead and specifically on my mother.  As I listened and looked at the new footstone with the ivy planted around it just in time for today’s unveiling, I took note of that little dash between her two dates.  I thought if I had to sum up her dash in a few words it would be, giving to others.  That was the overriding theme of my mom’s life.  In Hebrew the word is ‘mitzvahs’ – good deeds.  This was my mother- always in the service of others, both professionally and personally.

97 years is a lot of living.  And she lived it actively engaged in a very meaningful life. 

Powerful Questions To Guide You Along Your Path

Posted by Harriet on

QuestionsInTheSand 006Ah, the power of the question to get us thinking, really thinking; to reach a layer of ourselves that perhaps we haven’t yet examined or even thought about.  This is one way we can peel away the layers and continue to get to know our real selves – what matters to us, how we want to carve out our lives, what we value, how we want to live; in what direction to point that compass and to then make changes as we go along- as we step onto pebbles, rocks, brush up against poison ivy, get scraped by thorns, sink into mud- constantly recalibrating that we’re staying on our true path.

In synagogue over the recent {Jewish} holidays I picked up a great little booklet put out by UJA-Federation of New York (United Jewish Appeal) entitled, The Big Questions, Living With Purpose in 5776 (the new Jewish year).

I hope some of these questions will get you really thinking and bring you closer to living your best and most authentic life, true to who you are and how you choose to live.  Take your time in answering them.  You may answer one way today and another way in a month from now.  You’ll start to see patterns and themes come up in your words and ideas.  Here goes:  (I’m also throwing in some of my own questions.)


What one thing can you do today to make a change for the better?

If you could sum up your life in a hashtag, what would it be?


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