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Showing Gratitude and Giving Thanks

Whenever you struggle, stumble or fall those who really love you and care about you are there to help you dust yourself off and start all over again. Those people are the ones you must treasure throughout your life because they are the ones you can count on when the going gets tough and can see the real you. I am truly blessed to have many people like this in my life, some far away and some closer by, but yet all a blessing and for each and everyone of them I am truly thankful.

quotation-gratitude-1-853x1024Yesterday was the inspection on the house. I am sure like in all real estate transactions there will be things needing fixing and working through (especially since this a slightly older home, built in 1986) but I am feeling very positive right now given all the universe has recently bestowed upon me.  I am granted immeasurable blessings every day and I cant help but continue on this path of gratefulness.

All the profits, saints, monks, imams, priests, rabbis and pastors were all given callings to teach goodness.  All have said very similar things.  In Judaism the most important commandment is “to love thy neighbor as thyself”. Forgiveness is a foundation in many organized religions.  Outside of organized religion, in the spiritual community, I believe it is about appreciation and gratitude for what the universe provides us on a daily basis.  Acknowledging, finding and accepting our role within it and contributing in a positive way is the ultimate level of oneness and understanding. Ultimately this is what I believe the goal of the universe is; for all souls to learn the purpose of existence, to learn their individual purpose within the vast array of existence, and to return positive energy back into this realm to be “paid forward”. pay-it-forwardThose sent here by the source of all creation I believe were sent here to do just that. Teach us to accept and understand our place (albeit minuscule, yet powerful) within the universe, teach forgiveness, understanding and compassion.

I suppose the main purpose of this particular blog post is to thank both the universe, and all of you who have supported, and loved me through this emotionally trying time. It is difficult to hand things over to the universe, but when you do you will find a joy  incomparable to anything you have ever known.

If you are reading this blog as part of your weight loss journey, know that if I had not lost this spiritual part of who I am the journey may have never needed to be embarked on to begin with. Had I had this knowledge and peace it would have made all the difference in cultivating my self-worth and self-esteem. This may have created a less difficult, more powerful, and uplifting journey and transformation. Being proud and self assured along your path, instead of only appreciating the end result can make all the difference.contribution

Being thankful for both the wonderful things, and the painful things – both of which I continue to endure is not always easy. But because I know there is a purpose behind all of it, and the universe will not throw at me anything I cannot endure or overcome, I persevere.

Having grown up Jewish I still have my ties to the culture and tradition albeit not the belief system per se. But one of the many traditions I have always held dear is the notion of being thankful each morning upon awakening. Traditional observant Jews recite a prayer when they wake called Modeh Ani (I Give Thanks).  I now wake up in the morning having created my own version with which I am comfortable reciting. I say it in Hebrew because it is a beautiful language and then again in English for my own thorough comprehension and absorption. I do not know if my Hebrew grammar and syntax are correct. If any reader can correct it, feel free to do so, LOL.

.מודה‏ אני לפניך יקום חי קים וכוח עלין שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה רבה אמונתך ונאמונתי. לא אבזבז את הזמן שבו בורכתי

I give thanks before you living eternal universe and supreme power for returning in me my soul with compassion, abundant is your faithfulness and my faithfulness. I will not waste the time with which I have been blessed.

New Beginnings

Look inside to find the answer.  You hear this all the time.  But, your inside can at times be very noisy, it can be difficult to hear what your heart is trying to tell you.  Your mind can interfere with what your heart and soul speak.  To look inside and connect with yourself, with the source of creation to find answers is not an easy enterprise, but one very worth your time. Taking pause to reflect is important, to be thankful and to connect with creation. My question du jour is how to use my creativity, talents and abilities to help others and bring success into my life. So I have begun to meditate again.  Something I have not done in a very long time.

new beginningThis morning I sat very still and very quietly outside and thanked the source of all creation for everything I have and everything I am; for protecting those who came before me so that I could have this “now”, this moment to connect, thank, be, question and reflect. I expressed gratitude for all the love I now have in my life and for the inner strength and knowledge I have gained.  I sat quietly for twenty minutes and listened to the nature around me; the birds waking up, the wind rustling through the branches and the leaves. I asked to continue to be given strength to find my path and stay steadfast upon it. I asked to be given the strength to forgive. I asked to be forgiven.

So after reflection, and now doing this same exercise with some frequency over the past month or so I believe I need to write.  I need to do it to help others, but in this digital age so few people take the time to read anymore.  Maybe I need to write in order to read aloud.  This may sound crazy, but my past experiences with this have all been positive. Many of my close friends and loved ones who do not particularly enjoy reading or cant for one reason or another have asked that I read aloud to them. I could be reading a novel, a child’s book or even something I have personally wrote – it seems to be a connecting experience, sharing a piece of work simultaneously.  You can laugh together, cry together, have an adventure, travel the world together – fiction, non-fiction, poetry – its limitless.  So maybe a pod-cast?  I don’t know yet, I still need to meditate further to figure out the correct path.

blank pageEven through all my recent turmoil,  pain and upheaval I have been truly blessed and need to remember to remain in a constant state of gratitude for this. Not every one is loved, not everyone gets another chance.  My journey has just begun.  Once again I am staring at a blank page – a new beginning, frightening but exciting.  But, this beginning is different.  It has emanated from a place of strength, resilience, growth, forgiveness, self-acceptance, perseverance and joy.

I couldn’t ask for a better, fresher, healthier start. I am going to blossom.  I can feel it.

Where Have You Been? And Where Are You Going?

I spent quite a few years of my life in an emotionally abusive relationship, and I let it happen. I was weak, needy, and had so little self-esteem and self-worth that I let the relationship consume, define and ultimately destroy me. Ending a relationship comes with learning, growth and pain. Something inside me snapped, and brought me to a point where I finally realized it was time to take “me” back.  I took a good hard look at who I had become and I hated myself. Hate is a strong word, and no one should reach the point where they simply hate everything about who they are, but that is where I had found myself. It is one thing to learn to love yourself, but erasing self-hatred is much much harder.

This relationship, like all relationships had its ups and downs. One thing is certain though, the ups were short-lived and the downs kept increasing in number, duration and intensity. This is when I began to put on all the weight.  I gained roughly 110+ pounds over the course of four years.  Protection I suppose from the pain, and from the hideous individual I believed I was. Being told I was a horrible parent, a whore, lazy, a terrible employee and on and on.  Being bipolar, I spiraled out of control through severe episodes of depression and mania that paralyzed and hospitalized me.

Two hundred eighty-six, the number that for whatever inconceivable reason, changed my life. I don’t know why that number did it, but it did. The 28 part of the number 286 has had a very lengthy history for me and may be that is why the 280’s were my wake-up call. I do not know.  But it certainly was my turning point.  It was at that moment on the scale with that number glaring at me that I vowed to lose the weight, get in shape and be healthy, physically and emotionally. First for me, and then hopefully in an attempt to mend or end the relationship. At this point in time I did not know one way or another if it was worth saving.

So while I embarked on my journey I was told that I was doing so for selfish reasons, not for our relationship, but because I liked the compliments. Still living in self-hate and doubt, I kept asking myself “Am I being selfish?” I was so deep into the belittlement I had no idea my ego was so shot it couldn’t even recognize the stupidity of this.  Somehow I plugged on every day. Somewhere deep inside that 286 pound body I knew being healthy physically, mentally and emotionally was the right answer, selfish or not.

I needed someone to push me out the door on the mornings I did not want to go to the gym, or get up and exercise. But I didn’t have that particular kind of support. I was occasionally given compliments on how well I was doing but I had to rely on myself to get er’ done.  This was one of the best gifts I received from this relationship – self-reliance and perseverance.  I highly recommend it.

One day I was at the gym on an elliptical machine and staring at me, (as it had been for months now) was there branding. It was right there on the wall in front of me for months, and I had barely noticed it. The word PERSEVERE.  It was another ah-ha moment. I had to persevere, there was no choice – hence my most recent tattoo. new tatooI took pictures of the scale as I dropped the weight as motivation.  Unfortunately, I was too humiliated to take one the day I saw 286.  But I certainly have photos to prove where I started.

After I dropped below the 200 mark I decided to throw myself a party – no one else was going to do it.  Friends and family came to help me celebrate. I had both healthy and non-healthy food choices out for my guests, and we sang karaoke and everyone had a blast.  I was going to have another one when I reached my goal weight. I thought maybe when I reached that goal one might get thrown for me instead of by me, but when I reached my goal that party never happened.

At the gym there was a coach who helped me learn the proper machines to use and the proper form to get the most out of my resistance training. I set a goal weight of 145.  She told me that it was probably unrealistic because I was not only losing weight but gaining muscle so I should look at 150-155 as my target.  I was fine with that.  After nine months I had gone from a 3X down to a size 6 and lost 140 pounds.  I looked good and I felt good.  I was eating healthy, adopted a gluten free lifestyle after hearing that doing so could eliminate IBS (this worked wonders for me).

I have managed to keep all the weight off, for almost a year now and know in my heart I will never go back there again.

After both trying to rebuild the very broken relationship I realized I was doing us both a disservice by remaining in it.  Some people have babies thinking that will “fix” the problems in their relationship.  After all our years together I thought “getting engaged” would be our “fix”.  Once it happened I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.  There was still too much broken, too much I was afraid would never mend or heal, and boy was I right. The interpersonal relationship is over, and so is my piss poor relationship with myself.  Slowly I am building my self-esteem, taking back my life, bettering my relationships with my children, and growing stronger and healthier each day.

This has been one of the most difficult journeys I have ever embarked on, but the growth alone has been it worth it. “Learning to love yourself – is the greatest love of all.”  Thank you Whitney.

Healing, Learning and Growing
Make Note of the Lovely Title of the Music Instruction Book I’ve Been Given – Musicianship for the “Older” Beginner!

You know how people tell you there are just certain things that are so much harder to take up later in life? Well I know they are correct, but whenever I am told that something is not likely to happen, I do my damnedest to make it happen; if it’s the right thing, not going to hurt anyone, and something I really want. A few of the things harder to do later in life include learning a new language, and learning to play an instrument. Well I am starting with the latter thanks to a close personal friend. It has always been my dream to play piano (or in the very least marry someone who did so I could have a vocal accompanist- LOL). So a few weeks ago I started taking lessons. Reading music comes back pretty quickly (although I HATE the bass clef with a passion) and I have always had a good ear, so playing simple notes, and even chords with my right hand comes naturally to me. The left hand is where everything begins to break down. My brain does not want to read both lines of music simultaneously, while my left hand does something entirely different than my right hand. Coordination of any sort has never been my strong suit. But I am determined. Again it’s all about perseverance. I know I can do it, and I know I will do it. I may never give a Van Cliburn Concert, but if I can play things that I enjoy singing, it will fulfill a life long dream. Until this darn foot surgery I had been practicing everyday for at least an hour. This surgery has put my “recital” schedule behind a bit, but I won’t give up. As I said in prior posts I am basically an agnostic, spiritual, humanist; who can now play “Ode to Joy” with her right hand.

yiddish theatreNow when it comes to another language, I’d love to embark on that journey as well. I actually have my foot in three others (no pun intended): French, Hebrew and Yiddish, so maybe someday… I will find fluency in one other. Yiddish, a dying language with a rich history in theatre would probably be my first choice as it is unlike any other, and so very expressive.

I know, I know... yuck... but they look better than I thought they would and they are healing well!
I know, I know… yuck… but they look better than I thought they would and they are healing well!

Since the surgery I have not gotten on the scale, I am a bit scared to do that. I also know that it will be awhile before I can return to the gym and actually do much until my feet are completely healed. Whatever chocolate was in the house is no longer… and I wish I could say it was because I threw it out, but I’d be lying. That being said however, I refuse to bring anymore in. Once I get the courage to get back on that scale, I will share how much I have to lose again – lets just hope its not too much to be too discouraging of a journey to embark on. I have faith regardless of what it is, I will do it because as they say “feeling slim feels better than anything can taste” and I know that first hand. Healing is a process, I need to let it take its course so that I can be a better me (and that pertains to all wounds).

So here I sit, feet up – writing. Kind of nice really because who knows if I’d be writing if I were up and about. I love writing – another thing I forgot along the way!

The Cycle of Insanity a Brief Follow Up

With the events in Paris and all the unspeakable horrors around our world sharing my prior blog seems trivial, almost selfish. I want to help others, and I know one person CAN move mountains with the appropriate determination and PERSEVERANCE. One small voice can be heard if the right personalbert_einstein_head or people are really listening.

Why again?  Why now?  I actually have no idea.  Maybe people just wants to make money off of our painful memories? But maybe, just maybe this is the right time, and karma will take its appropriate course for all the innocent victims he left behind. Or maybe I am just a gullible idealist. Yesterday’s blog is not just my story, there are numerous victims. And although trivial in comparison to world events, removing one hurtful human being from the fabric of our population can only be an impetus for positive change.

From experience I can tell you just how hard it is to know whom to trust. Unfortunately, I have always been too trusting, and I still am. I always want to believe that people are good at heart, and that hurting others is not what most individuals set out to do. Even after years of being betrayed and hurt by others my general belief system has yet to change. I suppose I epitomize that well known definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein.

windows-and-doorsFor me I suppose it’s always been about PERSEVERANCE. I continue to try incorrect paths, and open wrong doors and windows. Or maybe I’m just hard headed. I think my general belief that humanity is good, is what keeps me opening those windows and doors and heading down those paths. This blog, this NY Times article, all my contacts with new influential people may once again amount to no change; and Marc Gafni (aka Mordechai Winiarz) may continue to hurt others the way he has for the past 3-4 decades – but it wont be because I didn’t do everything in my power to expose the truth. I would not venture to tell anyone what to believe or think – I can only rest at night knowing with confidence that I have spoken the truth. I have told and retold my story with courage, tenacity and hope.

Setbacks and Excuses

At this juncture I feel the need to talk about setbacks and excuses. Although I was called back for a roll in Four Weddings and an Elvis I was notified last night that I did not get cast in the production. This had me saddened and disappointed. In the past I would have turned to chocolate to brighten my mood using this setback as an excuse to eat. But I talked my way through this one with family and friends. I know the arts are full of constant rejection, and there is someone always just a bit more talented, or better for the part, or just simply better at their art than you. But that one time out of 100 that you do get to shine can make the disappointment worth it. Like losing all the weight, it’s all about perseverance. Little steps (I was reminded – you didn’t drop 135 pounds all at once!) – at least there was a callback this time!

I am moving forward and working on my next audition – gotta keep moving forward. I am also looking at a variety of other ways to stay involved in the theatre on a full time basis

fear failureWeight can be an excuse for not following your dreams, so can money, so can life’s circumstances – there is ALWAYS an excuse to turn away or freeze – from the fear of failure. But failure is inevitable sometimes. No one always gets it right! Failure is necessary for growth. I think the weight loss, and not being a kid anymore has helped me realize that with perseverance finding joy is possible. You may never be a millionaire (unless of course you are under the false assumption that money brings joy and persevere towards that goal), but you can be happy.

For me the weight loss came first, but maybe for you it’s the guts to follow your heart. When you are in a place of joy EVERYTHING gets easier; including the ability to make healthy choices.

I find it interesting that since I started on my “journey of joy” a lot of weird coincidences, circumstances and connections fell into place. I had job offers (granted not in my field of choice), made new friends who are now more like family and reconnected with some VERY old ones…all the way back to preschool! Yes this is me at 5 in preschool. I am actually friends on Facebook with more than one of my classmates here!

1914025_170863702580_3499398_n copy

Who knows it may just be one of these connections that enable me to continue following my dreams, or even just be the extra encouragement I will need during moments of doubt – and there will always be those moments. With my inner conviction, and all this support; both old and new, the decision to not turn to food at those moments will be easier – not simple, but easier.

Take some time to think about what your excuses are to not start on your journey, or to stop mid-journey, or to take a U-turn after coming a long long way. Once you realize that you are rationalizing your way into failure reach out to someone for help. Shoot me an email through my “About Me” page, and I can try to be supportive from a distance.


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