You may say I’m a dreamer

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but I’m not the only one…

I know this to be true because of the incredible number of people I’ve connected with in the aftermath of the recent election. I have not been to this page in quite a while—nor, I’m afraid, have I devoted as much time to my novel as I’d intended to—and that’s because I’ve been spending a lot of time with the group I started, Action and Empathy. I don’t think the link will work if you’re not on Facebook, and for this reason and many more we are building an external site that will hopefully accomplish the same goals as the existing page.

I started the page a few days after the election because I, and most of the people in my life, were angry, disappointed, worried, depressed—all the stages of sudden grief in no particular order—and I wanted to create a space that was about action, not just ranting. There was plenty of ranting going on on Social Media, traditional media, and in person. I wanted a space where we could take action against perceived injustices and conflicts of interest and all the rest AND where we could express our empathy by actively supporting the groups that will need it most under this impending administration: women, immigrants, Muslim-Americans, people of color, the LGBTQ community, tax-paying New Yorkers, people on Medicare, the press, and on and on and on.

And I’m thrilled that the small part I am taking in all of this is having any impact at all. What began as a group of about 7 of us has grown to over 900 members, most of whom I don’t know. I’ve gotten letters of appreciation from people I’ve never met and that is enormously validating.

I have been complacent for most of my life, and this time around I had no choice but to change that. In a strange way I feel as though I am finally finding my purpose in life. I know my strengths and talents, but purpose is an entirely different thing. My other purpose, at present, is to finish my novel, and that I will do. Creating this network has taken priority.

This will be a long road and will begin in earnest after January 20. And while it’s been argued that these forms of silent and vocal protests won’t change things, in fact they will. They will prove to the world that not all Americans accept what this administration intends for this country. This will get many of us involved on the smallest, most local levels such that we can change the course of things from the bottom up. We will all pay a lot of attention to the 2018 elections. And we will support one another, we will do everything  we can to maintain the things that make this country beautiful, and those include its ethnic , religious, and cultural diversity. Those include freedoms that are now being directly threatened.

I’ve been accused of co-opting other people’s causes. I am not doing this. I am simply doing my best to do my part, and I mean it when I say that I am learning on the spot. I will make mistakes and I will seek the knowledge of others, as I’ve been doing all along.

Today is Christmas and I am with family and loved ones in Paris. Despite all that this city and country have been through in recent years and despite its current political strife, Paris still offers me the timeless beauty and romance that claimed me the first time I visited.

The Seine still flows, the Eiffel Tower still sparkles at night, the gryphons and gargoyles still guard Notre Dame. The sights and sounds and smells and tastes that I associate with this city remain, and this is very comforting.

Peace on earth is a tall order these days. So instead I will strive for as much inner-peace as I can, and though there will be slip-ups along the way, I will remain on an upward swing. I wish the same for all of you, wherever you are, whatever you celebrate and, whatever ideals you most value.

On the topic of tranquility, which is one of my favorite words, the British philosopher James Allen said,

Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.

Whatever calmness of mind means for you, I urge you to practice it in the coming year. My goal for the new year is to become stronger and wiser.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, Diwali, Kwanzaa, none of the above, all of the above, I wish you peace and joy.

Until soon, my friends.

My sole intention is learning to fly …

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According to the internets I might have that lyric wrong, but the essence of the two versions is the same. Learning to fly, finding one’s bearings after being set adrift. It’s hard to do, and accepting this is the only recourse for beginning to heal a broken heart or beaten soul or combination of the two. The process is exhausting and there are regressions along the way, but if one has some semblance of determination, the powers-that-be will reverse what’s seemed like a spell of misdirected punishment and the world will be brighter.

Despite all my foibles and missteps and temper tantrums, I think the people who choose to stick around know that my love is boundless and my loyalty fierce. I do have a fair amount of people in my life, and this is because, for whatever crazy reason, excellent people have come my way. I’ve met plenty, plenty of toxic people along the way, some of whom have disguised themselves as knights in shining armor and all-weather friends, and as such I’ve had my spirit broken many times. But through it I’ve held onto a faith that comes from some mysterious source and I’ve not given up on the universe. I can’t. Otherwise, why am I here? I’ve accepted the fact that mine will be a hard-won happiness; I’ve walked through deluges and spent years in foxholes and I’ve raged and rebelled against a world that’s at times seemed hell-bent on watching me suffer through life. But I’ve gotten back up, licked my many wounds, and struck out again to make mistakes and continue to fight for light and love. Because, I think, you don’t get one without weathering the other. I guess I’d rather keep battling because the moments of beauty, tranquility, and bliss are brighter and more powerful than one thousand demons could ever be.

When I was a kid I thought the song “Torn Between Two Lovers” was “Torn Between Two Leopards”.

Third time’s a charm:

I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.

I do, and I mean that for all of you.

Send me photographs and souvenirs

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A very happy birthday to a dear man (yep, it’s official) who has been an integral part of my life over the past several months … though we’ve known each other for three years. Thank you, my friend, for being here for me when I’ve needed you most, and for weathering the storms with me. In this short time you’ve taught me a surprising amount about the world and about myself. I wish you nothing but joy and abundance as you enter this next phase of your life. Поздравляю on all of your successes, past, present, and future. 

Alors. 

I so appreciate everyone’s kind words yesterday about the pup. Hug your dogs extra tight. 

I had a whole post planned for today but, as is the nature of writing without a map, my mind is leading me in a different direction. This weekend I will be in the home where the photo of Archie, below, was taken. This will begin the process of closure; he was such a part of that house.

At the risk of alienating the scientific minds and non dog-owners among you, I feel that my Louie senses what’s happened; he certainly will when we get there. 

I profoundly believe in an after life, in the immortality of spirit and its connectedness to the living. I have had too many convincing experiences to argue otherwise. My sister calls it “the vapors” – my perceived ability to sense the departed. I’ve walked into places for the first time and, without any prior knowledge, I’ve felt the presence of someone who’d recently died — in inquiring I’ve learned that this was the case. That was an awkward sentence; resisting the urge to self-edit, which is exceptionally difficult for me. I think that if we’re open to signs, we see them. I’ve been told by psychics and mediums that I have extra sensory perceptions, which I could channel if I applied myself. Sometimes I want to, and sometimes I absolutely don’t. 

There is an arrogance – no, a myopia – to believing that only that which we experience with our five tangible senses is real. I appreciate the fact that not everyone feels this way, but I am fascinated by such topics. “They” say that animals and children, i.e. beings who are open and not laden with incredulity, are able to perceive spirits. My Louie came into my life in August 2002, two months after I lost my dear friend, Laura. The last time I saw her we spent the day together, and I took a photo of her in an archway of my old apartment. For many years after her death, my thoughts of her were omnipresent; I still think about her very frequently, but as those who’ve experienced loss know, the sharp pain does eventually give way to a kind of acceptance, and tranquility and warm memories overshadow grief. I was thinking about her very strongly one day when Louie was quite young, and he suddenly sat up, startled, stared at the spot where I’d last seen Laura, and did that perplexed head-tilt that dogs do. For the next minute he’d look to me, back to the spot, back to me again, perhaps wondering why I wasn’t acknowledging the person standing there. Or perhaps he could tell she was on a different plane. Or perhaps a fly flew by and this is all in my head. I don’t think that’s the case, in part because I don’t want it to be. The notion of eternity comforts me greatly. I was raised without religion and so I’ve been allowed to draw my own conclusions about such matters. 

After I spoke with my mom the other morning, I told Louie what happened – yes, I talk to my dog as though he understands me, because that’s what one does. For the past two nights he’s climbed his little staircase up to my bed and slept next to me – something he hasn’t really been able to do since his knee surgery last summer. (My dog has a titanium knee).

Maybe Archie visited him and let him know that he was happy and frolicking (with Duffie, Lovable, and Clovis) and that there is something to look forward to that’s far more blissful than we can fathom. Maybe Lou sensed what happened before we knew about it. Maybe he understood what I said and wants to comfort me. Or maybe he simply figured out how to navigate the stairs again and this is all in my head. 

I don’t think that’s the case. 

I love you guys – you know who you are – and I have deep gratitude for all who read my words.