Count On

 

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As the second night of Passover comes to a close, the Jewish people have an odd tradition of counting the day every day from that night forward for 49 days. The idea behind counting everyday, I mean literally saying out loud, “Today is the first day, today is the second day, today is the third day…” (You get the idea) is that as everyday passes, after we’ve mastered the state of freedom that the holiday of Passover has to offer, we then count every day as a way to take note in mastering our own personal achievement in behaving as free people with accountability, morality, transformation of self, and the ability to achieve a state of character refinement. We literally count everyday like it is our first day, like it is the only day that matters. And we do this for 49 days, which marks the actual day the Jewish people received the precious Torah from God on Mount Sinai- the day heaven kissed earth, the day our bodies became containers of a higher purpose, rather than a shell destined for listless materialistic attempts to coax our aching minds.

During these 49 days, we acknowledge our triumph over our ego, over our selves, over our selfishness, over any negative behavior we might face, and we are claiming as we count each day, we are determined to overcome our personal enslavement with dignity.

But lets be real. Is this what really happens? Because if we are honest, I think most of us wake up in the morning and, let’s face it, no matter how much we count the day, the same bitter challenges we faced from the day before will probably be there the day after again to enslave us as is the ritual we have so valiantly manifested, minus a few variables. And they are probably still there the next morning after that (like Groundhog Day). I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just trying to be realistic. In reality our circumstances may vary but they are not going to massively shift into a cataclysmic reversal just because a holiday came and went and now we are counting Monday.

Are we to really believe, because we are counting the days of our lives, our soap opera life has suddenly ended? Just because we celebrated the holiday of Freedom for 8 days and began counting everyday like OCD C3PO’s does not mean we are suddenly free from being – well ourselves. So what’s the game we are playing here? Is there any real relevance to counting everyday for 49 days, or is it some twisted game we use to pretend life is grand when really it is a battlefield?

Time is a funny thing, because no matter how hard you try to beat it at its own game, there it is staring at us in the face and sometimes it feels as though we are counting backwards versus upwards. What are we working towards? As soon as we get to that “coveted destination” aren’t we in old age, which eventually leads to our expiration? It seems odd to spend a good portion of our year counting upwards as a reminder of this morbid eventuality.

First we must understand how time works to understand how this incredible count off works. According to the Jewish tradition, time is like a sphere. Like a perfect circle, it has no end. When we celebrate a holiday, it is as if we are tapping into the energy collected in that force field echoed from our past. On Passover, we celebrate how we broke away from slavery. This experience is as real today as it was over 3,000 years ago. The human story is still the same, the pain we suffered, the triumph we accumulated is as tangible today as it was then. The human narrative of reliving our own personal slavery continues to be applicable. Some of us are enslaved by victimhood, others by addiction, some by feeling worthless, others by shame and/or guilt, some by the imprisonment of blaming ourselves,  blaming others, blaming the media, the candidates, Mcdonald’s Whopper that has an un-Godly amount of juicy lard . We all find ways to  subjugate our psyche.

Today marks Yom Hashoah, the day we remember the millions who perished during World War Two. Time is cycling, and today we feel the same feeling of sorrow and loss. Never forget means, no matter how many years have passed, we still have the memory of hurt etched into our minds. Holding on to pain is not something many of us can relinquish, nor should it be. We spend lifetimes trying to react differently as a result of pain, but that is why we carry it, to learn how to hold it without letting it crush us.

Remembering how our humanity has evolved takes tremendous work as we ask ourselves to go back to dark moments we faced, and relive those  tragedies again in the hopes that we never have to- again.

I don’t think there’s any accident to the fact that Yom Hashoah falls out during the weeks we are counting.

When we count something precious like a handful of diamonds, we count them over and over again. We make sure every single stone is accounted for before we create a parcel. If one stone is left unaccounted for, it is a massive financial loss, so we are careful with our counting. When we choose not to count a collection of material possessions it usually means we don’t have the same affinity towards it, it doesn’t hold the same amount of importance, the same amount of weight.  So what are we counting that holds such great importance?

We are counting our desire for confidence, our need for self compassion, our will to overcome. It is the confidence in ourselves, in our ability to defeat obstacles that become the precious parcel we protect through counting.

Everyday that we look into the mirror and we say “Today is the third day, Today is the fourth day, the fifth day, etc” we are essentially saying, we are further away from reacting to pain, and closer to the comeback . We are counting upwards.  We are collecting our parcel of goodness, of hope, of optimism, of courage and we are counting it over and over again. We count up towards a new enlightenment, a new being is emerging with every day we count as we climb that ladder away from the bottom, away from the darkness, away from the negative behaviors that have gripped us like a choke hold. We still have the hurt, we cannot forget it, but we emerge. Like a flower, we bloom out of the seeds of the destructive forces that wounded our tired delicate petals. And we grow more vibrant more fragrant, more redolent of our grief that now glows with gallantry.  We are carrying our hurt selves and then morphing- exploding into a greatness. During these 7 weeks it is as if we are counting our way up towards a shuttle launch, to the galaxy of the unknown and to the road less traveled. Only instead of counting backwards, 10, 9, 8, 7….we are counting upwards, 1, 2, 3, 4.  We count upwards to prove we have the ability to move higher and higher in our personal evolution despite the wreckage we drag, maybe in spite of the demolished crushed spirits that encumber our emerging identity.

On Yom Hashoah, as we count the day, let us count ON the day as well. Let us count on the moment we remember our 6 million, let us count on their fine spirits to carry us through those chagrined days where counting is a struggle, where remembering our character has a choice to morph in spite of the arena, where the tomorrow is not a journey into the desperate, but a voyage into the courageous unknown as we advance upwards, enlightened by the knowledge once we’ve hit the bottom, the only stride left for us to forge towards is up, up and away.

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Ditch The Tarzan Persona

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There is a social stigma that comes with allowing ourselves to ask for help once we are grown up. When we were kids, we asked for help all the time. Help me tie my shoe, I can’t find my backpack, can you explain this math problem? But somewhere in between paying for rent, landing a job, having a kid and buying a car we forget we can ask for help if we need it. We somehow believe we are less than if we don’t know what the hell we are doing. And this needs to change if we are going to be great at doing adult.

We are adults, and yet we think that somehow being an adult means we know exactly what we are doing all of the time and have the solution to every problem we encounter. The truth is, we are new to adulthood – we are experiencing a new adult day everyday. Why would we know what to do today, if we’ve never been to today before?

Sure we learn on the way and we discover what works and what doesn’t work, and at some point I guess the “there are no excuses because you’re an adult” line should figuratively work- BUT it doesn’t. What if we stumble and feel lost? Shouldn’t there be room for improving our lives with someone else? Again, I am going to blame Disney for creating this messed up way of looking at life. They put a strong tan boy in the jungle without parents who became a freaken animal loving survival genius, and we assume we can do the same? Thank you Disney for screwing us up once again. I mean, must we always imagine we live like Tarzan, alone in the jungle? We are not Tarzan!

What if we can’t figure out how to make a living? What if we get lost in our marriage and can’t figure out how to husband or wife? What if we suck at dating? What if our parenting skills stink and we realize our kids are out of control because we are stumbling in the dark?  Again- WE ARE NOT TARZAN!

What if we just asked someone who might be getting it right, or who might know a bit more or who might be a compassionate ear that will listen and somehow make us feel less alone with some added perspective we could really use to improve? What if?

In my opinion the number one reason adults don’t ask for help falls into one word- SHAME.

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I mean, does he look like he’s having fun?

Somehow in the adult syndrome, we morph into fear that has us believing to ask for help means we must admit we are failures, so we avoid it at ALL costs. We are ashamed of our inadequacies and we believe that allowing someone else into our world, will only have them pointing out our shameful incompetency more. This makes spilling feel impossible.

Here’s a little secret I’m going to let every adult in on. I know this secret, because A) I’m a woman, and I know everything and B) I actually speak to so many people on an everyday basis, that while I have not built charts or spent my time as a professional researcher, I am going to take a leap and self proclaim myself an expert because – again, I’m a woman –

Here’s the secret-

EVERY ADULT FEELS INADEQUATE at one point in time or another.

 

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Everyone except for him- I mean look at that putz- relax he’s a cartoon

Asking someone to help us through a tough time is not failing. The only failure is in staying put in our own head that does not allow us to take that leap we might need to step out of our own shit.

My dad used to say, “If you stand in your own shit, you’re gonna get smelly.”

The only way to step out of our own selves is to allow someone else’s perspective in. The clue in asking for help is in the search. For one cannot ask anyone for help. When I am in a shit storm, I don’t turn to the first person who walks into Starbucks to unload. I have what I call my “Team”. They are usually a phone call or text away. (ya you know who you are).

They are the ones that know my imperfections and actually love me because of them. They are just as imperfect as I am, which is probably why I feel so safe with them. (This does not apply to paid experts I have used in the past-  they are perfect- which is why I have to pay them to listen to my crap.)  But the friends and family I call when I need a lift  are improvising adulthood just as I am and they know that if at anytime they stumble, I am there to catch them as well with absolutely no judgment. Finding my team has taken a few years, and I need a team, because I have a lot of different issues I work through. I don’t use the entire team for every issue. Obviously- I mean does Google bring their HR problems to their production team? NO. They have divisions that handle each unique set of topics.

The truth is, we don’t live on an island and we cannot navigate life alone. I mean we can, but it is usually not very effective. When we reach out for help, when we let someone know we need a shoulder to cry on, we can use their advice or perspective, and we can allow our journey to be shared with someone else making our experiences in life far richer and less isolating. When you are on a dark road with only one light, it helps if there is a second person carrying another lamp to widen the view.

Shame is the weapon we use to protect our shallow selves. It does not insulate us from harm, it ignites it. Shame does not defend us from growth, it prevents it. It is the fortress that keeps us from living a full life.

Thelma & Louise exercise for the day: Ask someone you trust for help. Leave the fortress and take a leap. Ditch the Tarzan persona and get a spray tan instead.

Now Get Real Or Go Home!

Get Lost

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This was me before I got lost. Notice how clueless I look.

The only way to expel fear is to recognize you are not alone.

A few years ago I spent a day in France. I was excited to tour this beautiful romantic city, even if for just a few hours. My friend, Rochel and I landed super early and planned more than we could fit in, but because we are super human- we managed to see pretty much everything important in just 8 short hours.

In between hitting the Eiffel Tower, sipping an espresso in a cafe (of course one must get to France and experience that) downing a baguette, and hitting up the Jewish quarter in the 3rd and 4th arrondissement we ended up splitting up for what was supposed to be a short period of time. Within several minutes, every building and street began to look exactly the same to me, and I got lost.

This has happened to me before. I tend to pay attention to detail, which causes my imagination to wander, which eventually causes me to lose direction. Like the time I was 14 and had wandered off in Fresno while I was on a student getaway weekend and ended up walking the streets of Northern California until five in the morning.  Why they never set up a search party for me, still pisses me off. I guess the teacher in charge figured he’d have one less annoying mean-ager to make a warm soggy tuna sandwich for on the bus ride home.

It happens.

Okay it only happens to me.

But the time I got lost in France was different then getting lost in Fresno.  I was in a different country and unable to understand the language. AND MY PHONE DIED. (not that I had a phone in Fresno either, it was shabbat and also they didn’t have phones back then.)

Here’s what happens when you literally get lost.

You Panic. (check)

You Fear being Kidnapped. (check)

You wonder what it will be like to be trapped forever and what new name people will start calling you.  (Oh is that only me?)

Then You pray.

It was in that moment in prayer, while I wandered the streets of France, knowing my flight was to take off in 2 hours, and that I might miss it, and that my friend was probably panicking, that I realized no matter how alone I felt in that moment, I was actually not alone at all.  I had a guide and all I needed to do was ask him- “God, what direction should I head towards?”

So I was all, “Hey God, I could use a compass, right about now.” So God sent me into this adorable cafe where they spoke enough broken english and understood enough sign language to allow me to charge my phone and BAM- I was back on track.  I stayed with it and found my solution, but solutions don’t come in panic mode. Solutions don’t happen during fearsome episodes. Solutions only come once we surrender. I had to surrender if I was going to catch my flight, find my friend, and not end up as a sex slave. Hello “Taken” thank you for ruining trips to Europe for me forever.

Fear happens when we are not looking, but is conquered when we finally see.

That day it became clear to me that no matter where I go, I am not alone.  I have a Higher Power calling the shots. And I realized that Facebook is great for finding French Jews named Eli who got my friend, Rochel and I to the plane on time. Thank God for him, cause I clearly couldn’t find my way to a train if I was staring right at it.

Now you see why I need a tour guide wherever I go. I wonder if God has an app for that.

 

 

 

A lesson from a Scholar (Not Yoda)

A few years ago, I was privileged to produce a wonderful series called “The Search” where I explored the meaning of life with different celebrities, actors, big thinkers and even fellow filmmakers. One day my executive producer called and said he booked me an interview to learn about the meaning of life from one of North America’s most respected and popular poet-philosophers, Noah benShea. Noah is also known for being a scholar, theologian, long range thinker, executive advisor, speaker, and International Best-Selling author. 

Obviously I was about to get a lesson only few are privileged to experience on the meaning of life. It was by far my most memorable experience.

 

 

Once again, to give my readers an impactful experience on the wisdom of living courageously and on battling fear, we are privileged to have Noah benShea contribute to “Thelma & Louise.” If anyone knows a thing or two about kicking fear in the face, it’s definitely Noah!

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T&L: With the ever growing fear based society we live in, i.e., Terrorism, mass shootings, Isis etc..what is one practical thing we can do to combat fear based living and that will transform our society to an inspired one?

Noah benShea:  “PUT YOUR FAITH AND NOT YOUR FEARS IN CHARGE”

 

“Imagine,” said Jacob, “that your life is a wagon, and everything you know about yourself and everything that is yours, is in this wagon.

“Now to pull this wagon, you have been given a team of 10 horses.

“But because all of us have much more fear than faith, let us say that 9 of these horses are horses of fear and only one of them is a horse of faith.

“If you put any of the horses of fear at the front of your wagon, they will give you all the excuses you ever give yourself, or others have ever given you, for why you can’t do something. And the wagon isn’t going anywhere.

“But if you put the one horse of faith at the front of the team, the horses of fear will follow.

“Your fears will be a source of strength to your faith if you put your faith and not your fears in charge.” (Noah benShea, JACOB’S CHILDREN)  

T&L: Do you think fear is learned?

Noah benShea: Fear serves us in many ways. But what serves us can also enslave us. We do not have to learn to be afraid. Neither do we have to learn to be courageous. What we have to learn is when to put one rather than the other at our service. And to do this, learn this: Courage is not the absence of fear but how we struggle with our fears.

T&L: There are so many courageous people that surprise us. Here on Thelma & Louise, we often highlight their heroic approach to life. What is one thing you think makes someone courageous?

Noah benShea:   “WAGE FAITH”

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past.

“If you are anxious, you are living in the future.

“Do not wage war in the now to achieve outcomes out of your control.

“Instead, wage faith.

“And if you say, ‘yes but this takes courage,’ the answer is you are right.

“Now go and do the work.”  (Noah benShea, JACOB’S CHILDREN)  

 

T&L: How do you think fear is manifested? How is courage manifested?

Noah benShea: Almost every act in life is a transactional agreement, a quid pro quo, I give you this; you give me that. Fear is an insecurity based currency. Courage is a faith based currency. It all depends on what you are shopping for in your life, and what you have to pay for it.”

T&L: Who is the most courageous person you have come across, why?

Noah benShea: The most courageous person in my life…were two people – my mother and father. Against all odds and circumstances they were born into… they triumphed.  But in this way. Instead of a life of complaint and anger, they chose to give love, offer hope, and promise better for their children. They chose to be courageous and seed courage in their children. They chose to be loving and nurture loving. They put their faith in an ethical life and raised their three sons in a land where kindness was king.

True words to live by. Now go and Kick the Ass outta fear. We pass the throne over to you, the readers.

– Thank you Yoda…I mean Noah.

Happy Weekend to all!

 

*Noah also uses his insight to help many people on a spiritual journey and aid in their recovery to addiction. To learn more about his work head over to Heroes in Recovery– A place where incredible people are facing their fears and overcoming adversity every day.

 

The Work In Progress

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She entered the room
My ego- without me
I tried catching up
too smooth -that bourgeoisie
She kept talking so loud
I couldn’t contain her
She stormed through the crowds
Like the big entertainer
As if she was the only one born
The me I saw thought she was adored
But the me I know understands much more
Me- I thought she was a twit
Everyone whispered
Who is that- she is it
But I knew deep down
She stood for so few
Thought she knew better
Then most of us do
She swung from side to side
As falsehood replies
Talking to the real me
That ego of mine
What a fake what a phony
How everyone buys what she’s selling-
Bologna
So I’m quieting her down
That fake shitty louse
And leading from the real
Tuning out that powerhouse
That ego of mine who thinks she can lead
She has no idea what I’m capable of
She can’t understand my beliefs
She got so excited when I gave her attention
Flaunting herself in her one party convention
She whispers inside my vulnerable mind
She captures my thoughts and hijacks my time
She rushes in swiftly and handles my head
Like a slithering snake with no compass- mislead
I don’t seem to know her or like her anymore
Myself has been watching her tricks schemes allure
I’m watching her closely and realizing how far
She is from the me I now know is ajar
From the whimpering sniveling mastermind that hijacks my thoughts and borrows my time
From the taunting twerk of her banter lines
To her idle waste of my precious mind
I’m releasing this brat from the place she contains
And forcing her to be imprisoned bridled and tamed
No worshipping or honoring will this ego be served
Nope this bitch has to go
I’m kickin her ass to the curb

 

The Numinous

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It’s filled w joy and tension love
Flapping wings like a pure dove
It has a mind, a heart, a soul
Birthing amongst thorns and blood
Inside the heart beyond the stud
That’s where it lives – a bubble tugs
A longing a desired nod
That’s where it lives
The numinous luminous beauty

Oh how it longs to be seen
To be close to soul of choice
The place of love and song and noise

But there it lives inside the cave
Hiding yet can’t be contained
It births inside enchanted hearts
Connection can’t tear it apart
Like ropes from heaven
Catching us
A lively veil of numinousness
Waits. It waits.

To catch us from our deepest selves
To hold us tight in midnight realm
To be seen before the ego comes
To lead us every single time

This luminous numinous

inside of us

yearns to be heard
Yearns to be seen
Yearns to make a difference
Cure the green
Echoes vibrate past hollow chambers
It lives so deeply we can’t remember
Layers of space sandwiched to gather
Pain so much painful chatter
we Wonder-
Do we possibly matter?

So much anger suffering
Hate filled talk subsides
Merry gonna wish a ride
And we’re longing

To see change
To have No more blame
No more different unacceptance
Tolerance for you
Luv for me

But it’s not here-
This numinousness
Why won’t it land before the strain
Why won’t it paint a different change
Why can’t it interrupt the pain
Oh all the painful chatter

Yes luminous numinous is inside of us
A stirring it can fill the hole
The gaping void we deem to tug
Longing to become replugged

It oozes into thoughts and deeds
The numinous air lives as it breathes
As final breaths rise the numinous smoke moves
Through lofty thoughts of love it soothes

All animals can feel its warmth
All butterflies flap to elongate its dwarf
The earth rotates to have it slither
Across the globe and galaxy come hither

The numinous love cannot be tamed stopped killed murdered or maimed
Blinded foiled willed to stop
It can’t be taken or harmed or lured or sacrificed to gods or lords

It has its presence up beyond the place that even we were born
It’s holiness cannot be touched

This numinousness inside of us

It’s here to stay
Despite the hurt
here to live to breathe to bloom
Never can it be removed
Its holiness cannot be touched
By anyone except for us

It can be reached
Tapped
Explored
It can begin to fly and soar
It can exist outside the realm
Of hate speech pain and prison cells
It can lead
It can reign
It can bring about the change

We long to hold
It can be done
It can warm
It can exist

This numinous veil inside of us
This numinous beauty inside of us
This numinous luminous we all lust

You Can Roar

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You can nourish while holding, carrying, loving and speaking to another.

You can contract and expand your girth in one year depending on how much another human requires your life blood.

You can dance and sing, speak, walk and clean all in the same time span when the moment calls for it.

You are capable of redefining your human experience the way you see fit.

Your beauty is your power. Your voice is your gift. Your choices are your own. Your dignity is your diamond. Your body is your temple to love without judgement.

Your hugs impact great communication far beyond words will carry.

Your kiss can heal in the same moment that it can suggest.

You are all powerful beyond your frame- despite your class- in face of your gentility.

You are a woman.

Who-

Even when she drinks tequila can look fly on the dance floor.

Because-

You are a woman.