Friday, December 20, 2013

'Tis the Season?

I am having lots of trouble getting into the spirit of the season of Thanksgiving, love, and togetherness.  I suppose that it would have something to do with my ex-fiancee leaving me a "Dear John" letter and packing up all of the belongings while I was at work last month, leaving me with about $3,000 in bills to pay by myself.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I do not have a family of my own with which to celebrate.  It could even be the fact that too much favoritism rears its ugly head in the form of gift-giving.  My family and future have been broken, and I feel like little has been accomplished this year.

Then there is the opposite side of the coin.  I have a home, a loving mother, a relatively stress-less job teaching bright, enthusiastic students.  I earned my teaching license (which I just received in the mail!).  My niece will soon be born, and my graduate school has been put on hold.  These are all blessings which I really took for granted until last year when I taught students who were homeless and had very little but that which they made for themselves.  If I look at my problems, they seem very minute in comparison.

So, for this season of giving and merry-making, I encourage each of you to look to those examples of those with less.  Enjoy the little amount of time left with our loved ones this year, put aside pettiness.  As Anne of Green Gables says, "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it."  So let's make that our goals and aspirations for next year.  I am going to enjoy what I have and try not to dwell in the land of negativity next year.  And who knows...maybe this year it will stick!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking Giveaway!!!

Over the next two weeks, I will be hosting a Digital Scrapbooking Suite Giveaway on my other blog site.  Feel free to check it out and enter http://missasmuse.blogspot.com/2011/12/digital-scrapbooking-giveaway.html.  There are 8 ways to enter, so remember to leave a comment for each "quest" that you fulfill.  The winner will be chosen on December 24, 2011.  This will make one very special person very happy for the holiday season!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day of At"ONE"ment

I recently celebrated Rosh Hashana with my family.  We indulged in tzimmes, carmelized apple kugel, apples and challah in honey, and offered greetings of "L'shana Tova!" wishing that each and everyone of us has a "Sweet New Year."

Last year was hard.  Very hard.  On all of us.  I find it bewildering and somewhat amusing how we all wish for a good year to come, but we do nothing to change the circumstances that lead us to the same state we were in last year (or the year/s before for that matter).  When we fall into the same situations we feel that we have been cast into the wilderness by an omnipotent G-d, but the truth is that we never left in the first place.  That is where the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur comes into play.  On the days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, we make restitution for past sins against our Creator and his creations, donate to charity, beg for sweetness, and fast, all to have our chance of a good year.  This is a custom that leaves me bereft and my soul feels deeply unsatisfied while sitting in the pews of a shul for 5 hours dreaming of food.

The truth of the matter is that I never feel that I alone am to blame for my circumstances.  I do what is right, I help others, I actively seek improvement in my life, I go to school, I say "yes" way too much, etc.  And what does it give me?  I am still sleeping in the same bed in my mother's house.  I still don't have a teaching job.  I still cannot afford to go to school full-time, and I am still without friends and a significant other.  Recently I read a book called The Fifth Mountain by the renowned author Paulo Coelho.  In the book, Coehlo writes of a poignant scene between the profit Elijah and the Lord on the Day of Atonement.  Elijah states that he has sinned against G-d, but that G-d has also sinned against him, leaving him homeless, loveless, friendless, and impoverished in a strange land.  Elijah uses this day to declare a truce with G-d.  That is where my opinion of At"ONE"ment comes into play. 

Earlier today, while reading Mr. Coelho's blog, I learned that this scene in The Fifth Mountain comes from a  Hasidic Jewish folktale.  For your enjoyment, and mine, I have included this tale in my blog.  It reminds me that we alone do not write our history or our future for that matter.  Without the Divine, we are nothing and have nothing.  However, the relationship with our Maker is symbiotic.  Without us, He seems very small and insignificant.  Today is the Day of Atonement, and I choose this day to be at "ONE" with my G-d.

On the Day of Yom Kippur
a Hasidic tale

On the day of Yom Kippur, Rabbi Elimelekh of Lisensk took his disciples to a bricklayer’s workshop.
“Watch how this man behaves,” he said. “Because he manages to communicate well with the Lord.”
Without noticing that he was being observed, the bricklayer ended his work and went to the window.
He took two pieces of paper from his pocket and raised them to the sky, saying:
“Lord, on one paper I have written the list of my sins. I have erred and there is no reason for me to hide that I offended You several times.
“But on the other paper is the list of Your sins towards me. You have demanded of me more than what is necessary, brought me difficult moments, and made me suffer. If we compare the two lists, You are in debt towards me. But since today is the Day of Atonement, You pardon me, I pardon You, and we shall continue on our path together for another year.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Love in an Elevator

The immortal words of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, "Love in an elevator, livin' it up while I'm going down.  Love in an elevator, lovin' it up til I hit the ground," seem to ring true to all of those who have felt the highs of love and the lows of heartbreak.  I have often wondered if Love is really such a bi-polar daimon.  I think that both Plato and I would have to disagree.  Love doesn't simply come and go as he pleases.  Love is a constant; we are the variable.

The thought of Love has been a concern of mine for several years.  I have recently reached the age of 30-something, and looking around me, all of those who revolve in my immediate circle of friends, family, and acquaintances are married and on their way to starting families.  However, just as many are on their way to divorce or are starting their second families.  I even have a friend who jokingly refers to me as his future third wife.  In an era where half of all marriages end in divorce, I wonder if I have already missed out on love or if I am just holding out for that one true love.  

Mind you, I have loved and lost just as everyone else has, but I do not blame Love himself for all of the loss:  I consider myself to be a victim of circumstance.  I have been sick for many years now, and that just doesn't allow for meeting people, forming lasting, intimate relationships, building a family, etc.  At least, that is what I thought.  After reaching that 30-something milestone, I was forced to re-evaluate my ideas of love, intimacy, and family.  I soon realized that I was surrounded by Love of all kinds: maternal love, filial love, sisterly love, even Love by and for a Higher Power.  I have Love for knowledge, Love for self, Love for my pet cat Cleopatra, Love for family, and Love for friends.  The list is long and true.  And although I may not have a significant other right now, I am open and receptive to the idea, and that is the start.  

Each of my Loves feeds my spirit and does leave me with that wonderful "high" of which Steven Tyler sings.  But, that doesn't mean that I have to experience the lows of Love.  Recently, I read an article which reminded me that Love is not a given.  Love must be nurtured in order to grow, and love must be sustained in order to continue.  It is not constant, nor does it claim to be so.  I found that the following list could be applied to every type of Love there is, and if it is meant for me to experience that true love in the future, I must know how to maintain it so that it does last forever.  I hope that you find the list as elucidating as I did.

Ten Thoughts on Romance (www.wholeliving.com)

   1. True love begins with both curiosity about and acceptance of yourself.
   2.  Heartbreak does more than just hurt. It opens you up to love in a whole new way.
   3.  Passion does not get lost -- just abandoned. It's never too late to find it again.

   4.  Celebrate the milestones that mean the most to you, not someone else.
   5.  Real intimacy is expressed not with more words but with meaningful ones.
   6.  Love nourishes your soul; passion ignites it.
   7.  Touch is a powerful healing tool; use it lovingly and often.
   8.  The quality of your connections with other people will carry you further than you think.

   9.  Rediscover sex as a source of life-giving energy.
 10.  Sometimes the situations that make you most vulnerable offer the greatest rewards.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reflections through Picasso

How many times have you looked at yourself in the mirror?  I mean REALLY looked - not just the casual look while washing your hands or brushing your teeth.  Maybe you noticed the crooked eyebrow or that random hair that isn't in the right place.  Maybe you noticed the huge zit popping up in the middle of your forehead.  And maybe, just maybe, you noticed that you were starting to show the signs of aging that all of us dread.

Last year on my birthday, I noticed that I had started to get age spots underneath my eyes.  For a 30th birthday, this was not a present I wanted.  This year, I noticed that I no longer had the features of my youth.  But, I wondered what else does a mirror reflect.  Can we really look into our own eyes and see our soul peering back at us?  Can we see all of the mistakes and regrets written in every little line or wrinkle?  Can we see the aura that constantly surrounds us or the reflection of light that each of us disburse?  What would we see if we were looking at ourselves from a different perspective?

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I tend to be very realistic (verging on pessimistic) and straight-forward.  I try to look at every situation from a variety of perspectives, weigh the pros and cons, and choose the option which has the greatest good for the most people (like a true Utilitarian).  Today, while surfing the Milliande website, I saw a link to an art site called Picasso Head at www.picassohead.com.  This wonderful little application allows a person to create a portrait of themselves in the style of the most famous Cubist that ever lived, Mr. Pablo Picasso.  For the first time in my life, I stepped outside the normal portrait of myself.  And although this little sketch took less than 10 minutes to create, it compelled me to look inside myself to see what I reflect to other people.  My mother sees me as a ray of Sunshine that brightens her day and warmly loves her.  My sister sees me as an overstressed, underpaid nerd.  My grandfather sees me as an enlightened student and teacher.  My friends see me as an honest and devoted companion.  Never once have I stopped to think what I see myself as being.

This little attempt at art and entertainment has deepened into an exercise of self-exploration.  It doesn't matter how much makeup, lotion, hair dye, or toothpaste I use in the great scheme of things.  It doesn't even matter what other people see me as.  I need to see what image I would like to portray to myself.  A plethora of titles run through my head beginning with artist and ending with zealot.  Now, I only need to fill in the rest of the alphabet.  Until then, I will take the lesson that I have learned from Picasso and try to see myself in a new light each day.  I challenge you to play on the website yourself and step in front of your own mirror.  Are you the light or are you the reflection?  Only you can decide.


Let the Sunshine In by Melissa Travis

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Only the Lonely

Recently, I have found myself in quite a pickle.  I don't have a social life, and I can count the number of friends that I have on one hand.  I sit in my cave under the covers waiting, wanting, wishing for someone, anyone to call.  How did I get to this point?  Where did it all go wrong?

Usually, once a day or so, I get that coveted phone call.  My sole experience with living, breathing, emoting people.  Mind you, I really enjoy blogging and doing all of my art projects, but it doesn't get the job done anymore.  Lately I have noticed that my one communication with the outside world always involves doing something for someone else with all the trappings that come with friends and family.  Babysit my kid, shop for groceries, do the dishes, give me money, help my kid, run an errand, pick the kid up from school, shop for more groceries, etc. seem to be the only things that I hear.  I am tired of playing the doormat, but I don't have the testicles to actually do something about it.

My situation often reminds me of a song in the musical Chicago that sums up my situation perfectly.  It is called "Mr. Cellophane."  I often feel that I am made up of a transparent material that only comes out of the kitchen drawer when you can't find the lid to your favorite piece of Tupperware.  Nobody really wants to use cellophane; it is just convenient.  And when the piece of crumpled plastic no longer serves its purpose, it goes directly in the trash.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200. 

The saddest part about being virtually invisible is the constant ruminating that keep the brain running in circles, the constant hope that someone will call because they want to and not because they have to, and the constant heartache that comes when I realize that the situation is never going to change.  I am tired of playing the role of doormat in my own production of my life.  I am ready for change but my world may not be ready for it.  I think that the world will be greatly surprised when I gather my strength and shake off the cellophane garb that renders me virtually invisible.  All I can do is pray that I am seen for exactly what I am instead of what I can do for others.

Chicago -"Mr. Cellophane"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Seizing the Day

Over the past eight years, much of my life has been spent in a 10'x12' box/ bedroom of some sort.  I don't know if this is because my body is physically sick or rather because my spirit has been wounded.  Sometimes, I felt like a bird whose wings had been clipped, with mind intact but body completely broken.  I was meant to soar on the wings of eagles, not to be afraid to drive my car, face my friends, or go to the park alone.  However, someone or something decided that I was not able to live my life as a regular human being, partaking in all the little details that make life worth living.  In retrospect, I think that it was I who made that decision.

Now that I have two little ones in my life, I realized how unhealthy I had truly become, not just in body but in spirit as well.  I had to get outside.  I had to breathe fresh air.  I had to socialize.  And perhaps most of all, I had to seize the day.  "Carpe Diem" is a Latin phrase that has been thrown around in so many circumstances over time that it has almost become trite.  But that is exactly what I needed to do.  I needed to take as much care of my spirit, emotion, and mental well-being as I had my physical well-being.  I, indeed, needed a rebirth or renaissance of sorts.  The major question was where to start.

Just like with anything lost, the best place to find ones'  self is where you left it last.  Where was I last happy?  When was I last happy?  When was the last time I had actually lived life?  My mind immediately took me to the year I taught Latin.  I knew that teaching would make a difference in my life and hopefully in the lives that I touched.  I laughed, cried, played, danced, and lived as much life as my failing body would let me.  That is where I needed to start life again.  So, after weighing the pros and cons of my situation, the pros certainly outweighed the cons and I applied for a teaching position at a local middle school.  As of now, I don't know if I have the job, but I have realized that that doesn't matter much at all.  I have taken the first major step in seizing the day, or rather life by the horns.  If I get the job, then I will be elated.  If not, then I will be in no worse shape than when I started.  However, I have recognized the importance of living life to the fullest.   I seriously doubt that my life will ever be ordinary, so as I see it now, my only other option is extraordinary.

Dead Poet's Society - "Carpe Diem" scene

Share it