Last night’s dream…

…is haunting me, filling my head still with the feelings of transition and loss and nostalgia and hopefulness for this new year. 

But it doesn’t make any sense, unless you accept the idea of “priestess.” That there are some women on this Earth drawn to spiritual places and groups because their soul’s charge and purpose is to be the light and life of that community. In eons past, they would live within the walls, spend every waking moment tending to the spiritual lives of the faithful. They are found in every house of every kind of worship, in every culture, throughout history. And my soul is one of these – I know because I came alive when I walked into my temple.

Last night before bed I learned a fellow priestess had moved on, had decided our community was no longer her path. And when I slept, I dreamt her dream.

All the welcoming features of the building itself were gone – warm mauve deepened into dark blue, stained glass windows turned into walnut wood walls, easily accessible gently sloping aisles stretched upward into high stairwells and narrow halls. And the spiritual leader had become unrecognizable, not just a new person but a farce of another faith’s stereotypical paradigm. And a woman she knew and loved (who is now gone) turned with rage twisting her face and declared, I am SO angry with you!

A dreadful place indeed, and who can blame her for wanting to leave? But my fellow priestess, you may travel on, but remember that your sisters still know and cherish you. In the end, dreams may help reveal our hearts, but you have to open your eyes to see.

Dreams…

…aren’t just pictures, aren’t just random musings of an unconscious mind. Dreams are where real work gets done, beyond the physical. Where healing can happen. Where rifts between souls can be healed. And last night, once again, I dreamt of you. 

Whenever you’re in my dreams, we’re in separate rooms, separate spaces. You hate me still. When you saw me this time, you rolled your eyes in teenage disgust. Not her, again.

But I needed to tell you something. I needed to tell you I’m leaving LA, about my new job, that I’m probably going to land in Irvine. That I’ll be going to a certain synagogue. I needed to tell you, so you could avoid those places, so you could avoid me and avoid the pain and fear that seeing me brings to the surface. I just wanted to warn you.

So I sent a note to you, instead, through a mutual friend. A game of telephone, because I can’t phone. And then woke to the sound of church bells, as my alarm brought me back to this world. 

My daughter said l looked drained, like I hadn’t slept all night.

At the end of this year….

I end this year wiser, having learned much more about myself and what the reality of my dreams looks like, feels like. It’s the feels like that’s what’s important. Who cares what it looks like? Only I know what it feels like when I know I’m following my path. Only I know the joy of watching my now-sober husband, a man so different from me, be so perfect for filling the hole in my children’s lives. Only I know the pride in watching them thrive. Keeping my eyes on the prize and they are the prize…may I keep my sight clear this year.

Happy, happy new year!

Goodbye, 2013. You will be remembered as the year of new beginnings and revelations. The year I claimed my work as my own. The year I claimed my own power. The year I got what I thought I wanted, and it ripped my heart into pieces. The year I learned how to protect my own heart. The year I learned what true love looks like. The year my love came to me, because I listened to my instincts and followed my own twisty path.

Time for 2014 to begin. The year of fertility and fecundity, of prosperity and perception. The year of new threads added to the tapestry of our lives. The year of intertwining.

I don’t feel broken anymore. I feel ready to conquer the world. I feel like the best me I can possibly be. And thank God for that, and for the blessings of this year.

May all your dreams and wishes come true in 2014!

 

I really hate “what if?”s

I wish I could wax poetic on this one, and just express it elegantly and neatly. But I can’t. It’s not elegant, it’s not neat, and it’s just rising in my brain interfering with everything else I need to get done today. And this ringing in my ears won’t stop, especially the right one, and the mystic in me thinks that means something about how my chakras are blocked. See, I even feel better now as I’m writing. I was blocked, and now I’m getting unblocked and flowing again.

So, what’s bugging me is a HUGE “what if?” Goddammit, I hate them. I really hate the feeling that I did the wrong damn thing at the wrong damn time, and that if I had only listened to what I really wanted to do and just said f*** it to everything else, I wouldn’t be in this mess. But I got in this mess because I applied the lessons from the past to my present, at the time, and did the best I could. So I just have to forgive myself that it turned out to be the wrong lesson. Or maybe the right one, because it wasn’t just all about me.

What if I hadn’t said no on that Tuesday afternoon? If I hadn’t said, just come over tomorrow night after the girls are in bed, and instead had agreed to wait until Friday, and had you come over for Shabbat dinner like you wanted? What if?!?

And I said no out of fear, as I told you on Friday afternoon. It was fear, plain and simple. Fear that you would leave (which you did), and then my children would be hurt, too. It wouldn’t be just me with a broken heart, but them, too. It had happened to them already, in unforeseen situations. I once had a friend who had spent time with all of us, and when she got mad at me, my children couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to see them again. That sucked. And that other time, which was huge, when they had their own independent relationship with a person who couldn’t stand to have me around, and so blocked us all from ever talking to him again. That really hurt them, very deeply.

And you did leave, after all. Pretty damn quickly, too. So they would’ve had broken hearts and I couldn’t have that one more time.  And since I could see this one coming, I did have the duty to protect them. I know that, and there’s not a person alive who would say that I did the wrong thing. Not even you. I was being a good parent, and that’s the honest truth.

But. What if? What if you had come over for Shabbat dinner, and we had some more time together restrained by the presence of other people, to get to know each other some more, and to talk and laugh and sing by candlelight? What if you had fallen in love with me that night, fallen in love with them too, and started to see them as a bonus in your life, instead of a threat to it? All of us as something wonderful enough to change your plans for?

And here’s the big one that just kicks my ass – would you have left at all, if I had let that happen? What if I was so afraid of something bad happening again that I strangled the amazingly good before it could breathe?

It’s Shabbat again tonight, and for the first time (because I was just too tired last week, after landing that morning), I’m using my new challah cover and my new candlesticks from Jerusalem. What if you were there, too? What if you show up at my door, asking to be let back into my life? You were never there, and yet I still feel the hole left from where you could have been. And let’s just come full circle…the same movie I took my daughters to that night is the one we’re renting tonight. Symmetry is a bitch, sometimes.

There’s a part of me that hates that I need to write this for the world to see, because of who it might hurt having these feelings out there. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I’m just trying to get this out of my head…better to have it out here then constantly rattling around in there.

Flying Solo

So, I never thought I’d be single this long. Seriously. Attracting people is not something I’ve ever found difficult, and I know full well that if I wanted to, it wouldn’t be hard to find someone who wanted to be with me. And I wasn’t single from age 14 to age 33 (well, maybe for a few months at 18, kind of), going from one long-term serious relationship to the next. You can see I’m a “couple” kind of girl.

But life does enjoy it’s curveballs, and so for the first time, when I was 33, the person I wanted to be with, who had very strong feelings for me as well, in the end just didn’t want to be with me. At the time, it was the biggest rejection I’d ever had (and little did I know it was just preparation!). Which was good for me. Instead of jumping to the next relationship, I had to leave my marriage all by myself, and stand on my own for the first time in a very long time. I had never had a checking account or a lease with just my name on it. But there were all these hours to fill by myself now, when my soon-to-be ex-husband had my children, and what can I possibly do to fill them? This process is called, as the therapists say, getting some “me time.” Basically, I wanted to think of myself as an awesome person, so anything that sounded awesome, that’s what I wanted to do. Which meant I ended up spending a lot of time doing things that gave me a lot of joy just in the doing, regardless of whether anyone else was there.

So, fast forward about four years. Despite dating and meeting people and even falling in love two more times, I’m still single. Still know it’s both the easiest thing in the world to find someone who wants to spend time with me, and the hardest thing in the world to find someone who I want to spend time with. Still dealing with two more rejections and their respective aftermaths, because I’ve had the lovely learning experiences of falling in love with two men who have no ability to be with me, for their own very good and valid reasons…namely, not even coming close to feeling about me as I do about them (I said it’s easy to find “someone,” just not the person I might actually want – life’s just funny like that).

And now I’m in Jerusalem flying solo, a place I never  thought I would go to by myself. Never. I grew up thinking that my mother would take me, as she always said she would. But that never materialized, despite numerous other trips. My ex-huband wasn’t Jewish and hated traveling, so there was no way I’d get here when I was in that relationship, all 15 years of it. I thought after I rekindled my connection to Judaism about three years ago that I’d go with some kind of temple group or on a trip with my children. But I had no financial ability to do so, for various reasons. I thought it would be the best place to go on my honeymoon with a future second, definitely Jewish, husband. But that, of course, just wasn’t meant to be, either.

Now that I’m here, though, I can see why it happened this way. There was no other way this could be as it is, and it is perfect being here by myself. I simply could not have accomplished the spiritual growth that I have, in my own way, if anyone else were here with me. If I had someone else here, I would have become insular, looking to them to keep me company. Instead, I’ve had to talk to the people around me, and I’ve found companions every day that I’ve learned something from, either about the culture or our religion or even just about myself.

And let’s not forget, I still would have had that kernel of fear in my head, knowing that I wasn’t capable of making this journey on my own. Like all fears, it’s vanished without a trace, becomes laughable, once faced head on. What on earth was I scared of, anyways? Flying solo doesn’t mean flying blind – it just means that you learn to trust in yourself.

Daily Prompt: There’s No Place Like Home

[Disclaimer: I wrote this below, and then saw “today’s” Daily Prompt about writing about a place you’ve always wanted to go to. Since I did that today, here’s what it stirred up in me.]

I had a deeply moving religious experience, once. Not the only one I’ve ever had, but certainly the one that moved me the most, to my very core. The one that changed my life forever. And it didn’t happen today, when I went to the Old City in Jerusalem. Because incredible experiences, truly moving monumental experiences, they only happen once. But I knew that, heading to the Kotel today. I knew that, but still, I had to go there to really find out just how magnificent my one time was, to really appreciate all of its beauty and depth.

Here’s what my experience was like. It was just about three years ago, in May 2010. I had just moved to Los Angeles a few weeks earlier, and had settled in to my new life as a single mom, living 50 miles away from my (now) ex-husband (I had filed for divorce at the time, but it wasn’t finalized until six months later). Still recovering from another lost love, who had just moved 3000 miles away when I moved to LA. And I found a real home in LA, with a congregation that welcomed me and took care of my children and even offered yoga classes for moms with free smoothies on Monday mornings at dropoff time. A wonderful, warm place, with a wonderful, warm, motherly rabbi, who I had just met the weekend after I moved at the Mother’s Day brunch, along with the yoga teacher and other moms of young kids.

So I started going to the yoga class, to help my healing. And it really did help. It was held on the “bema” (the stage, which I found out was the original bema of this temple) of the social hall. And one day, just a few weeks in, after class, I thought to myself, I’m a member of a congregation now. I love it here. The rabbi is great and maybe I should start going to services. So, why don’t I take a peek and see what the synagogue is like?

The synagogue and social hall are separated by a pull-out wall, and that day, the wall was just a little bit open on the side. So I went in around that wall, entering the temple (unknowingly, at the time) at the top of the center aisle, facing the ark where the Torah is kept.

And I just gasped. Stopped in my tracks. Felt this overwhelming happiness and joy spread through me and the world seemed tinged with pink (turns out that the walls, pews and carpet are mauve) and the huge iridescent 10-foot-tall shimmering ark stood before me, with it’s asymmetrical waves at the top looking like an ocean breaking. My instant first thought, as I fell in love – the next time I get married, it’s going to be here.

And then I noticed the 15-foot-tall brilliantly colored stained glass windows, depicting Moses parting the sea, and Adam and Eve in the garden, and the flames of the burning bush. Moved in closer to the ark, and looked up, and saw the crystal stars above in blues and purples. Didn’t even notice, then, the tree of life window nearly hidden from view. I just fell in love that day.

So, the Kotel today was amazing, was like walking back through time, was something that I’ll never forget and I’m so glad I experienced. It helped deepen my understanding of what this place means, what my people are at our core. But. It can’t compare to the joy I felt the first time I walked into my own synagogue, my home.

It’s the little things that are the most wonderful signs – when I was about to hop off the train at the stop for the Old City, I noticed an Israeli who had just gotten on at the last stop. He didn’t speak any English (I asked him), so he didn’t know what his t-shirt said – I guess he just liked it. But it was a bootlegged version of the UCLA Bruin, and it read “The West is the Best” on top and “California” on the bottom. I have to agree, and there’s just no place like home.