Thursday, December 17, 2009

Twelve things that inspired me this year

ONE
This video, a talk from National Geographic photographer Wade Davis, got me thinking in a new way about the world of communities in which we live.



TWO
I'm not much into "woo woo." I know that seems strange: After all, I make my living writing about angels. But I'm really a practical person-a former systems analyst and journalist, who's had the remarkable experience of reading thousands of letters from people all over the world about real-life angel experience.

In the past, I've had trouble articulating exactly what I DO think angels are, where they come from, how they interact with us. But writing my book, Sea of Miracles, this year, has helped me to.... well, to know what I know--and to explain it.

This video... from Abraham-Hicks comes as close to describing the way I see God--and angels--as anything I've found - the "vortex" of well-being out of which the angels work, out of which all things come and into which all things return.

THREE
You've already seen this one - everyone has. Still, I'm including it in my inspiration round-up because each and every time I watch it, I'm reminded of the remarkable magic of a dream; and that, anyone could be hiding the most marvelous talent under the most ordinary exterior.

FOUR
This blogger, Maira Kalman, a gifted illustrator, whose work has many times graced the covers of the New Yorker. Kalman's work came to my attention through my sister, Beth, also an artist. Beth crafts her work in clay, and her 50th birthday gift to me, top row, far left at Wise Old Bird, made me cry - because being seen really, deeply seen by someone you love, is the greatest gift of all.

FIVE
This question: Now that my children have left for college, what will I make of all the empty space left behind? What will I make of me?

That question led me to...

SIX
Raw. A whole new way of eating - and the chef turned blogger who, using her culinary training, created the delicious recipes that finally got me to try it. Since August, when I encountered Susan Powers' beautiful blog and recipes, I've lost 22 of the most stubborn pounds on the planet. I feel more energized and alive than I have in years.

and back to...

SEVEN
Yoga.
And poetry.
And my own journey.
And the way that my teacher, Suzi Weiss, helps me braid them all together.

and to...

EIGHT
Twitter. To say Twitter has changed my life would sound ridiculous. But it has.
On Twitter, you 'follow' people who seem interesting and engage with them in bursts of 140-character "tweets". Your tribe builds and before you know it, you're chatting about babies with a new mom in Australia at the same time you're discussing a spiritual conundrum with a banker in Wisconsin. Follow me at @amyoscar and I'll show you around... just remember to let me know you're there by addressing a tweet to @amyoscar

NINE
A new way of doing business.

Heart of Business from Mark Silver, a gifted writer and spiritual teacher who is also a Dad. Mark teaches, "You can make a profit while making a difference." More important, he serves as a role model - a man walking the spiritual path right down the center of the material world, having fun and making money doing it.

and

Jonathan Fields, the author of Career Renegade, and his "Tribal Author Boot Camp" - a weekend workshop that arrived just where and when I needed it. (Funny how that happens!) With a generosity I've rarely encountered, Jonathan shares his secrets of successful "tribe-building" - and the tools we need to establish an online presence. Most important, he shares his heart, encouraging us to do the same. "Give more than you get," he teaches. "Build your business around the work that you'd do anyway - even if you never received a dime for doing it."

These teachers inspired me to ask: What do I do anyway? and out of that inquiry, to start the Spirited Writers Collective where I get to do what I love doing--supporting other writers in achieving their dreams. And I invite you to join us!

TEN

Janet Paist at the Angel Salon who discovered me, about a year ago, and put me "on the air". Since then, our weekly radio show: Angels and Archetypes! and the people that we connect with in our chat room and on the air conversation, have inspired me beyond what words can express.

ELEVEN
A brain researcher/scientist finds herself experiencing a stroke and realizing: "We are energy beings connected to each other ... as one human family... brothers and sisters on this planet here to make the world a better place." Profoundly inspiring. Have a tissue handy.



TWELVE

This...



------------------------------

Finally, the inspiration I did not number because it is eternal and without boundary: My family - especially my husband, whose brilliant architectural projects awe me, and in whose enduring love, I rest,

From our house to yours, Happy Holidays and a Bright and Shiny New Year filled with inspiration!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Angel on a Bridge

Years ago, before everyone had a cell phone, I ran out of gas on the Throgs Neck Bridge, twelve miles from New York City.

As my car lost all its power, the steering wheel locked and we rolled to a stop in the right lane, just after the curve. From this position, oncoming motorists couldn’t see us until they were 50 ft. away. Approaching at 60 mph, they swerved around us, brakes screeching. Several shouted rude remarks, shaking their fists.

I could make excuses: It was Thanksgiving and we were running late. I had a terrible cold. My two-year-old daughter had been screaming on and off for two hours, upsetting her four-year-old brother and distracting me. Exhausted, overwhelmed, I’d missed the red fuel light on my dashboard. Still, it hardly mattered why we were stuck—I had to do something to protect my children, and my car, from being hit.

My son was fast asleep. Pulling my wailing daughter from her car seat, I set her on my hip and walked behind the car. There, I began flapping my free arm like a broken windmill, warning approaching motorists away.

Suspended high above the choppy Long Island Sound in high November winds, the guardrail only up to my thigh, Katie and I could easily have been blown right off the bridge!

Holding her tighter, I shuddered: God help us! I prayed.

A moment later, a small red fire truck pulled up before me, lights flashing. As it parked protectively behind my car, a Boar’s Head delivery truck pulled in front of us. Provisions, read the sign, painted on its side. Sandwiched between them, we were saved!

“I almost hit you," the driver of the fire truck said. ”I was looking down changing the radio stations and wham! There you were! Walking down the road with this baby in your arms. What a picture! I knew I'd better stop before someone else, not as careful as me, hit you.”

The other driver approached more quietly. “Ran out of gas?” he asked, and sensing my embarrassment, he added, "No shame in that. Happened to me once.”

“Really?” I asked, feeling a good deal less ridiculous.

I put Katie back in the car and the two men found the bridge’s emergency phone, and called for a tow truck.

Then, “The tow truck is going to push you off the bridge," the Boar's Head driver explained. "Turn off on the Clearview and pull over first chance you get. I’ll drive ahead and get you some gas.”

“Bless you, thank you,” I said. The tow driver came, barking instructions, "Put it in neutral, stay off the brakes," and BANG! we were off. He pushed, I steered, doing some of the deep breathing I'd been saving for emergencies, and we made our bumpy, jerky way down the exit ramp where I pulled into a grassy embankment at the side of the highway and stopped.

But… "You idiot!!!" the tow truck driver came running from behind. "You had an angel meeting you, you didn't listen"

"What? I don’t…”

"That guy, he was meeting you at the Clearview, the Clearview," he shouted, face red. "This is the Cross Island!" Storming back to his truck, he left us there.

I cried for a while. Then, I put a blanket around Max’s shoulders and wrapped Katie inside my jacket. We began to walk. I could see some stores about a quarter mile away, behind the embankment. Maybe I could get something warm for the children to eat. We could go to the bathroom. Maybe they’d let me use the phone...

“Mommy,” Max asked. “Who's that man by our car?" I turned and... there he was-the driver of the Boar’s Head truck, already putting gas in our tank.

When I tell this story, I usually leave out the part where he lifted one end of my car and shook it, to make the gas run into the lines. It seems so outlandish – even I’m unsure sometimes if that really happened. I skip ahead to the part when my car was turned on, the engine humming, the heat warming my children's hands and I turned to thank our rescuer.

“Let me pay you for the gas,” I said, holding up a twenty, all the money I had. “Let me buy you dinner.”

He smiled. And I noticed, for the first time, his beautiful eyes. “You keep it, Ma’am,” he said. “You go home and live a good life and raise these kids and that will be thanks enough for me.”

“But,” I stuttered. “I want to do something to thank you… at least, tell me your boss’s name, I'll send a letter."

"My boss knows how sweet I am," he said. "Go on home."

As he walked away, I scribbled down the name of his company and the phone number painted on the side of his truck. Then, I put my car into gear and drove my children to their grandparents’ house. All the way there, I composed the letter in my head. I imagined the gift I’d send: An American Express gift certificate, tickets to a show…

But when I called the number I’d carefully copied into my journal, it was out of service. When I phoned the Boar’s Head company they told me there was no distributor in the town that had been painted on the side of that truck, no driver on record with his name.

Then, I didn’t know how to explain it. But I do now: He was an incarnated angel, sent, in a truck marked Provisions, to rescue two children and a frazzled mom from the top of a bridge, and to remind us: You are never alone.

- - - - - -- -

This is the first of many stories in my new book, Sea of Miracles. If you'd like to be put on the mailing list for the book's release, please send me an email: oscaramyr@aol.com. The book should be finished in early January.

If you have an angel story you'd like to share with me, I'd love to hear it. You can send it by email or post it on my FB page, where I'm collecting stories for this, and future books.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Terrorists

This morning at 5 a.m., when I opened my eyes, God said: Go read the Torah now. Begin at the beginning.

And I knew what was coming. As God hovered over the dark waters of the morning, I went into the alcove between my husband’s office and the stairs where he keeps all the books that are, for one reason or another, sacred to him.

The books about business and community and architecture; books about attention, meditation and education; and these Jewish books, including two copies of the Torah, which our children received, each from a different rabbi.

To get one, I had to take things apart. I had to peel back the layer of green wire mesh that my husband had, for some reason, bent into a protective veil over the bookshelf.

I took hold of the book and pulled it down, carrying it—great weight—from the back of the house to the kitchen where I placed it on the table.

I circled it several times, as I made tea and put four organic, free-range brown eggs up to boil. I considered the book, plump with portent, sitting ripe as any berry freshly plucked from a living vine; soaked like a sponge in wine and tears and tradition; the waiting wet pond of my people.

I picked it up.

I threw back the cover - wildly, but at the same time, I did it casually, as if I didn’t really care, as if I hadn’t been paddling around its circumference for years.

There was a note, handwritten in the front cover: something about curses, having to do with the Torah portion that my son had pretended to study but which he had really just memorized from a tape that my friend, Marla, had recorded just for him.

The important thing, and the reason I’m taking the time to tell this was the signature of the 30-something teacher who introduced me, finally, to the first page of tradition and who, as soon as our bible study class was complete, left the rabbinate to become a psychotherapist.

I'm sure it had nothing to do with me. I'm sure that, it's just a coincidence that this happened a month after I entered his office and closed the door and handed him my spiritual heart--all shot through and bleeding--and said, "Please."

I'm sure he was already thinking about it.

It’s all God. It’s all being. It’s all doing—and it is all, every bit of it, juicy and dripping with meaning. And God hovering over the mudhive and the swirling, leech infested brew.

Begin at the beginning, God said, and each day we do.

As I write this, at a cafe, I stop, from time to time, to look out the window - an activity which, once, in a writing group, someone told me a poet must never do. She said it would distract us; she said we'd lose our thread, lose our way. Poets, she explained (as we all looked out the window) are especially sensitive to distractions.

Two
Outside, a little black dog who looks exactly like TOTO is barking. He is running back and forth in little stripes along the lawn, just playing with life, unaware that up above, a poet is looking out the window.

He reminds me of my son, who used to run back and forth like that, circling the edge of the playground, his little chin eagerly up, wagging the tail that all human children keep hidden in their underpants lest anyone notice how in love they so easily fall with everything.

Three
I come to the page to talk about the broken place.

I come to capture the rush, of the words, that willy nilly come, tumbling and crashing over rocks that will not move.

I come to quiet the beehive of busy babble in my mind.

I come to find the silence, though nothing terrifies me more.

Four
This morning, when I mentioned, on Twitter, that I believe that God is in everything, someone sent me this message:

@AmyOscar Only 1 true God. The God of Abraham... And all eyes are on Israel..Read What in the world is going on by Dr. jerimah good read.

And I thought. No one is listening. We are all just waiting our turn to bleat out something we heard someone else say.

Five
I do this sometimes. I fall in love with something beautiful that someone else has said and want to write it down and pretend that it’s mine. But I don't. But I want to.

It’s just that I’m afraid that I’ll forget, afraid that some bright word opportunity will flit by and I, so easily distracted, will be looking out the window.

Which reminds me of my mother, for several reasons - most of which I will forget to mention once I start laying them onto the page.The shyness, and the easy distraction and the brilliance that gets lost when she gropes around inside herself for a rope… or a foothold or whatever metaphor she uses to get hold of herself.

And that reminds me of Susan Boyle, the poor tortured, awkward, not ready for prime time singer.

Last year, when she popped up on my Facebook page, I thought: They will tear her apart.

And they did.

On that day: The day when Susan did not win “Britain’s Got Talent,” 218 people were lost in a plane crash at sea. On the same day, halfway around the globe, a man opened fire in the House of God and killed a man who performed abortions.
I heard all three stories on the radio, where it was all stirred together in a muddy cocktail of disaster.
At the end they played a clip of someone saying, “I just hope this doesn’t give liberals a way to paint all pro-life activists as terrorists.”

And I shouted at the radio: “We are ALL terrorists!"

Shouting at the radio is a lot like blogging. You have a great deal to say, and you say it—or shout it—and hope that someone hears.

Poor Susan Boyle. ”It’s unconscionable,” Simon Cowell told her. “What the media have done to you,” as if he wasn’t one of them. She lives with her cats. She’s never been kissed. What did he THINK would happen?

Bunch of buillies in a schoolyard, circling the tongue-tied “plain, frumpy” singer from her little village who, through the sheer force of her beautiful voice (and her compelling and quirky story) got herself 350 million views on YouTube.

“I would hate to be Susan Boyle tonight,” Cowell said, before she went back on that stage and, after not winning, had herself a good cry in her hotel room where she collapsed, and was rushed to the hospital with “exhaustion and a nervous breakdown.”

I knew I'd get distracted. I knew I'd lose my thread.

I get this from my mother who will interrupt even the most important conversation to gasp, “Oh look.” There’s a little yellow bird. Sometimes it’s a butterfly, or her kitten’s caught a leaf; and I’m sure that if a lily happened to be bursting through the bracken, this is the moment when my mother, a poet who insists on looking out the window, would notice it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Leaping (aka The Problem with Perfection)

Today, as I continue my wrestling match with the question: How do I stay grounded while also expanding into the fullness of who I am; I am noticing some, you know, issues.

There is the tendency to get so excited as things are about to "become" or to begin, that I leap before looking - resulting in situations that frighten or, more often, embarrass, me.

This happens in every area of my life but it happens most often in those places where I am not quite sure I measure up.

So, work - where I do things like...
. . . mailing off a proposal to the president of a major publishing house (after he has been kind enough to extend me that incredible privilege) without completely checking the manuscript
. . . writing and releasing a major piece of work without getting it approved first
. . . announcing, "Oh, whoopee. My book will be available on January 1st when I am still not completely sure whether this chapter comes before or after that one."

There is the tendency, when this happens, to roll up into a tight, tiny ball of anxiety and shame... for a long, long time. And to avoid anyone or anything--including the project itself--that might remind me what a fool I have been and make me... you know, feel bad.

There is the tendency, when THAT happens, to sink into spasms of self-recrimination and a great deal of flailing about and breaking into perfectly decent, often quite lovely paragraphs and ripping them to shreds. Which makes me feel bad.

And the tendency, when THAT happens to cry.

I'm working on this. Working less on keeping myself from leaping - more on letting it be okay if I make a mistake. Letting it be okay if I get excited about something. Letting it be okay to not get the thing I want but to ask for it anyway. Tiny goals on a great big field. Huge payoff.

And so, without any further ado, I am going to leap right before your eyes. I am going to publish this blog post without being absolutely certain that it's perfect... willing to come back and fix it later, if need be.