Category Archives: Spirituality

Rock ‘n roll

Sitting on the floor,  toys strewn about,  in a house not my own.

I was with my teaching partner, MT, when the Earth decided to move.  MT and I only rarely do home visits together, but this past  Tuesday, we were sitting on the concrete slab floor of subsidized housing assessing a little boy’s developmental progress.

 My world was decidedly rocked.

In a moment, everything before me turned in to visual waves.  The curtains, the TV, the rug became flowing linear lines that shimmered like waves on a Spectrograph.  I asked MT if she saw it.  “What? See what?” she said.  The movement suddenly changed.  I revised and asked MT if she felt it.   MT paused and our eyes met.   Her look of concern acknowledged that something was not quite right.   We both waited to see what would happen next.

The motion intensified and then suddenly stopped.  We quickly and reassuringly dismissed it, “Maybe, the neighbor was playing music with the bass too high”.  But the dismissal did not fit.

My cell phone started ringing.  It was my daughter from Virginia calling.  “Did you feel the Earthquake up there?” she said, “It rocked our office building, but everyone is all right.”  Fear and relief claimed my consciousness at the same time.  An Earthquake.   All was well but could have been worse.

The little boy we were assessing suddenly began to cry.  His response to the environmental shift was pure and unedited.  MT reached for her phone and called her mother to check on her son.   We left the visit a bit shaky feeling decidedly off-balance. We called the office and family and friends.  It was jarring to learn that some people had not felt the quake at all.

That Tuesday evening, I remained uneasy and unsettled by my earthquake experience. I was unable to roll with the events of the day.  I thought about the distance that separates me from my daughter especially when thinking about what might’ve happened.  Other recent earthquakes kept coming to mind.  My daughter had known a college friend living in Japan when the quake hit there.

Mostly, I thought about Fate and how it sets people together or apart at critical moments in life.  For the most part, we don’t get to choose.   I wondered, what if  this afternoon had been the last of my life.  I considered my company at the time of the quake, MT and a 2-year-old toddler named  NG.

MT is gifted at being a teacher, a mother and my friend. We most always enjoy the toddlers and the families we visit.   Today had been no exception.  NG had made his silly “Thinker” face.  His favorite since it always makes the grownups laugh.    MT and I smile and laugh and sing with our students.  We really do have some pretty fine play skills.   That thought made me smile as did the next  . . . It would have been okay with me to leave this plane in such fine company.

Sitting on the floor,  toys strewn around,  in a house not my own… with my teaching partner, MT.    I would’ve been honored to be in such good company.

……Just wanted to let you know MT


Pretty in pink, but prettier in purple

I always get a thrill driving across the George Washington Bridge, especially at night. This particular crossing was a Friday  in early October, just last month. It had taken me quite a while to even get near the George Washington.  Stuck in traffic for an hour on I95, the weather changed from clear to rainy as I neared the bridge.  The infamously polite New York drivers made the approach to the bridge even more challenging when construction required a lane merge.

Limos, trucks and huge SUVs claimed their status on the road, overtaking more humble vehicles like my own.  After all, it was Friday night so  city-driving rules  applied in this teaming traffic tie-up.  With seven more hours of driving before me I was, quite frankly, quickly losing my Zen.

I took a deep breath in and a deep breath out.  Breathe in calm; breathe out tension.  This didn’t help a whole lot.  I took a breath mint.  That didn’t help either. Traffic was still not moving at all. I called on Reiki spirit, on the power of light & love, and I started to feel better.  And then, my lane starting moving.

Finally, finally, I was on the George Washington Bridge… but  more than that… the bridge’s spans were lit in Purple colored lights!  How beautiful the bridge looked in the rain. How absolutely unexpected and  amazing. I captured it in a photo.

Lights on George Washington Bridge

What did it mean, I wondered, these Purple colored lights?  And then my mind turned to late September and the tragic death of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers’ student who had taken his life on the bridge; these Purple lights must be a tribute to him.  How wonderful, I thought, society is surely changing when acknowledgement of such a senseless loss could be honored in such a public display.

How beautiful those Purple lights looked to me. My Zen feeling was back. It seemed to me in that moment, that tolerance for differences, as well as intolerance for persecution of those differences, were true possibilities.

 I drove across the George Washington with a pretty good high. I drove across the George Washington with loss and sadness for a young man’s life and his parents’ grief.  The Yin always with the Yang.

Of course,  my story does not end there. After crossing the Bridge, I headed south and exited at a rest stop. I sent my daughter the photo I had taken and texted her how touched and amazed  I was by the Purple “memorial lights”  on the George Washington Bridge. She quickly texted me back……”the lights are Pink, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month”.

……I sighed.  ……I reflected.  Pretty awesome Pink lights, I thought!   We’ve come a long way to get Pink lights on the George Washington Bridge.  Society just needs to go a little further to have Purple lights on the George Washington Bridge.

Life is fine,

Sarah


Night Moves

I love this time of year, not for the long, hot steamy days, but for the long, cooler fragrant evenings.  While a beautiful summer day is glorious, the potential for a magical summer evening  makes the beauty of  that day linger even longer.  Some days, especially summer work days, I long for the evening when I will be free to enjoy the delights of the evening.  Certainly, everyone has different ideas on how to enjoy a summer evening, but here are my suggestions for some good “Night Moves” …

1. Go outside.  You can’t fully enjoy a summer evening from your air-conditioned or fan-cooled home, you have to go outside.  You really do.  If its hot inside, that’s all the more reason to go outside.  It will only be cooler.  And if you can’t go outside, fling open  a window and lean out … a bit.  Look around.

2. Feel the air.  Feel how the evening air moves against your skin.  Truly, I am not kidding.  Notice the evening air against your skin.  It has a different feel every evening.  I love the feel of a crisp evening breeze against my face after a late afternoon rain.  But I also love those evenings when the air has cooled just enough to wick the sweat off  my arms from the 95 degree day.

3.  Go for a walk.  Do it with a friend or a spouse or your kids all in tow.  Or do it by yourself…that can be even better.  Move slow or move fast, take long strides or short ones, but move in a way that makes you feel good.  The evening is yours.  Enjoy the sights and use your senses, all  5 ….and more if you have them!

4. Stand under or near a pine tree in the waning daylight.  Then, inhale.  If you’re lucky, you will catch a gentle scent of beautiful fresh pine.  Its my favorite sweet perfume on a hot summer evening.  Wafts of summer pine, as well as,  ripe peach and newly shucked corn are all on my list of fine summer fragrances.

5.  Look up at the sky.  What color blue is the sky tonight?  I only ever think the sky is blue.  At midnight it’s that black, inky blue.  When the sun is setting, its silver blue  with rainbow colors,  pink and yellow, red and orange.  I’m not an artist, and I admire (okay…envy) artists who can paint the colors of the sky.  The sky probably has more shades of blue than possible names for blue.  Ochre pit blue would be a good sunset color name.  I like entertaining what other sky blue names there could be, and certainly, I’ve wasted time on lesser thoughts.

6.  Look for fireflies. I mean this as a metaphor.  My daughter would understand.  I keep asking her, “Where have all the fireflies gone?”  Sometimes I just don’t see them.  Fireflies exist in the summer, but they can be hard to find.  You have to carefully look for the magical, the special.  Look with expectation and you may notice some magic of nature –  a flower, a bird, a star in the sky –   that has special meaning for your life right now. 

7.  Stop and Pause,  before you enter your home.  Then, Listen.  Is the wind talking?  Are your neighbors listening to music?  Are crickets chorusing loudly?  Are birds calling goodnights to family members?   Hold on to the comforting sounds.  Think of them as the ringtones of your life  downloaded for free.   And allow all other sounds to be carried away by the wind.  

I wish you a good evening, all summer long. 

                                                                                             Life is fine,

                                                                                                Sarah


Family of Man

Friday morning, on NBC’s TODAY show, Meredith Vieira interviewed a man who had risked his life to rescue a dog trapped in a Utah canyon.  When she asked him, in essence, had he considered that he was risking his own life to save a dog’s life, he replied …..”it was never a question”.  A shift has occurred and I don’t think its been fully acknowledged.  If this shift has not yet occurred for all of us, it has certainly occurred for many of us.  Dogs have reached the status of being part of the Family of Man.

I suggest that Zak Anderegg, the rescuer, responded with a gut reaction – a dog in trouble;  one of our kind;  rescue it!  Now, I’m certainly not  putting forth a genetic argument of inclusion.  But the qualities we love most about dogs –  unconditional love, loyalty, empathy,  curiousity and forgiveness – are the qualities to which we humans aspire. 

Ace in the hole: He saved dog trapped in canyon – TODAY Pets & Animals – TODAYshow.com.

Some people might argue that the social rules of dogs aren’t at the level of human interaction using this as an argument for exclusion from our family.  But then, social rules vary quite a lot in the human species.  Abundant examples of less than exemplary  human behavior abound. 

If you need further evidence for dogs’ inclusion in the  family of man, than it would be this. Dogs remain in the present moment without benefit of meditation or spiritual guide books.  They are present and grateful for the gifts at hand.  They enjoy the party of life.   And often,  dogs  lead us to that  party, in helping us find that joy.

Please give me no arguments on cognitive capacity or limbic brain processing.  I know what I know.  Dogs deserve to be counted in the roll call of family, micro or macro.   I count these dogs as family members, both past and present – Coco, Pepper, Max, Cicero and Jez –  I love you forever and for always.

family member Jez

                                                                                                              Life is fine,

                                                                                                                 Sarah


First Words

First words can be challenging or hard to find,  but they are always exciting.  I speak with some authority on this matter.  I’m a speech-language pathologist who works (mostly plays) with young children and often helps them find their first words. However, today is the day for me to find my first words. 

My decision to write my first post on this day is for one reason only.  C.F. used his first words with me today.  C.F. is a toddler I’ve known for over a year.  C.F. has only ever used a handful of single words and only with his mother.  He has not said words in the presence of his father, his brother and certainly not  me.

 But today, was a special day, a definitively “blue sky” kind of day or even a “blue sky with rainbow”  kind of day.  C.F. said 12 words to me today!   So in honor of C.F.’s sharing his words with me, I am taking a first step in sharing mine. 

blue sky with rainbow

                                                                          Life is fine,

 Sarah