Her Real Love and How I Really Feel

207733_10151633320683047_1341535220_nEvery year on my Grandmother’s birthday I would write her a letter and a poem. Writing poems for Mimi was easy.  All I had to do was picture her in my mind and her all-pervasive love would immediately be translated into words.  This is the first year I will not be reading Mimi a poem on her birthday.  I will not be eating chocolate cake with raspberry filling.  I will not be telling her about how getting a sneak peek at the mini water guns she bought for our family trip was the thrill of  my eight year old lifetime.  But that she already knows.  She always knew exactly how I felt about her.  And since I will not be telling Mimi what she means to me today, I will tell you.  Because when I write about Mimi, there her love manifests.  After she left her body I wrote the following to share with family and friends.  In reading it, I hope you experience the love from which it was born.

It is difficult to try to begin speaking about Mimi because it is impossible to contain the vastness of her love, her life, her spirit into the confines of mere language. Speaking to the life that is Mimi is impossible, but year after year I’ve attempted to do it through poetry. Mimi was my muse. I could go a whole year with writer’s block but when Mimi’s birthday came along the words would flood right through me as I thought of how to express my love, appreciation, and awed wonder to her. I would sit in front of my computer, close my eyes, and her loving presence would flood my being, and it was easily followed by words.

Mimi’s presence has permeated my life and the lives of countless others in utterly unknowable ways. I wish I could recount moment by moment the endless sweet memories of being raised by Mimi who was another mother to my brothers and I. But they are altogether too perfect to be recreated through thought. They live within me, growing up my soul into its fullest expression. They nourish all those who I meet through the joy they continually foster within me. They inform the world I experience through the patient thoughtfulness, understanding, compassion, intellectual vigor, and fierce love that Mimi bestowed upon me generously, without end, from the depth of her being.

Mimi taught love by being love. Everywhere we went Mimi met an old friend. These old friends were people she had sat next to on a train, and taken a cab with, or crossed the street near. She loved humanity and humanity loved her in return. Wherever she went, Mimi found people to love.

I learned what love was by watching Bop and Mimi’s relationship. The love they shared with each other was so great that it overflowed from their union and created this beautiful family, and committed community of friends. Bop and Mimi’s love is a gift that will eternally give to all who come to bask in its radiant peace.

I learned how to love friends by Mimi’s love of her friends. They were a shining light in her life, as she was in theirs. And seeing her devotion and caring for her friends imbued within her children and grandchildren the kindness and appreciation that are the life breath of true, authentic relationship.

Mimi’s love for all of us is indescribably vast. But I feel it. I’ve always felt it, and I always will. Her love teaches me the essence of eternity. Her love teaches me the essence of God.   Mimi and I connected on the level of the soul. She was a human allowing the universe to live out its greatest purposes through her, and I got to be a part of that. It is the blessing of my lifetime. Her being introduced me to my own, and when we were together we got to rest in the truth of God’s love, in which we move and breathe and have our being. Together the barriers that separate human from human were shown up to be mere curtains. Together we peered behind the curtains, we saw the truth of the reality of our unity, and we rejoiced in our oneness.

Mimi’s curtains are gone now. May she inspire us to see behind the facades that seem to separate us from each other, and to see who we truly are inside our own protective coverings. Mimi is there. She rejoices within us when we rejoice in each other, seeing the love that each of us share as our true selves.




With Thanks


merry christmas


Merry Christmas!


Where Your Friends Go When You’re Not Around

DesertI remember the dean of my high school most clearly for the two times I sat crying in his office, refusing to hand over the flip-phone I had long since usurped from my mother.  On both occasions a member of school staff had caught me in the bathroom hastily attempting to contact my older brother during what could only have been a five-minute break lest the teacher become suspicious.

My sophomore year of high school marked my older brother’s freshman year of college.  While he was still in Illinois, the gap between Highland Park and Urbana-Champaign felt as vast as the distance between the windows of my trigonometry classroom and the intangible clouds above that earned the majority of my attention that year.

For the first time I experienced the pain that came with loving someone who wasn’t physically present in my life. Even though my brother and I saw each other many times that first year of separation, I never quite shook the feeling that it was imperative to live near those I loved.  The fact that over ten years have gone by and I still live 45 minutes from my parents is a testament to that notion.

Over the years friends too have come and gone from the proximity that birthed our relationships, and to my surprise the world has continued to spin around its axis.  But I am now painfully reminded of the lessons I wasn’t quite able to grasp as a teenager who longed for her brother to come home, because I now have friends who live more than just a car ride away.

A couple posts ago I marveled at the overwhelming lesson I had learned from my travels in Israel: no matter where in the world, one can always be loved.  When such bonds of friendship are struck, more than just gratitude can arise. Any meaningful and joyful experience can also be a gateway for attachment.  I so missed my brother when he went to college, I long for my friends who have moved out of state, and I can’t fathom the distance between my newfound friends in Israel and my home in Chicago.

When attachment turns joy into sorrow a lesson is being offered in return; the joy and connection that you are pining for came from within yourself.  Right now I am missing my friends overseas.  But our relationships with other human beings are not outside of ourselves, as they seem from our physical experiences.  They originate within, and are born of the love each of us carry as our very being.  Our friends do not merely reside in our hearts when we are apart, they are an expression of our hearts, and are returning home to the space from which they came.

Next time you feel attachment gnawing away at your mind, remember that the love for which you pine has never left you, and will continue to reflect itself back to you in infinite, unimaginable ways.


Why Your Opinion Matters

LoveEverywhere you look people are making choices. People are taking action, taking sides, digging into their perspectives.  When I see the one-sidedness and separation that are widely accepted as valid opinions I want to disagree, I want to explain myself, I want to change minds.  Then I remember that it is, in fact, that very desire which creates separation and entrenches ideologies.

Everywhere you look people are making choices.  But they don’t need your judgment.  They need your love.


When The Honeymoon Is Over

Find Your Peace - NCI’ve never been on a honeymoon before.  But if the disillusionment after it’s over feels anything like the 26th of December, then I’m not sure I’d want one.  Even though I get better and better at letting go of Christmas as each year passes, when December gives way to the endlessly bleak Chicago winter I go into spiritual hibernation. During winter the only solace is the steady passage of days, and I still find myself asking, “Will this never end?”  This year I’m actually not sure if it will.

Spiritual hibernation is the setting aside of inner growth and evolving perspective.  When you spiritually hibernate you are in survival mode, and naturally you do what you can to survive.  Rather, you do what you think you need to do to keep going.

A commonly experienced aspect of spiritual hibernation, is that it occurs during a time when spiritual growth is most necessary, helpful, and potentially transformative. If you notice yourself spiritually hibernating, that is a pretty good sign the situation you are experiencing can quickly accelerate your inner transformation, first through acceptance.

Despite my earlier pronouncement of winter despair, summer is on its way.  Each year when it is almost June, even if it still snows occasionally, I not only anticipate the new season but I find myself growing happier.  Happier isn’t entirely accurate; I begin to feel lighter, have more energy, open up to new ways of trusting the universe and moving in it with ease.

During this phase I feel as if my joy has deepened, and am grateful to have passed through another winter to this new point.  Not moving through the after-honeymoon phase leaves the true fulfillment undiscovered.  The universe kindly uses honeymoon phases in many aspects of life to invite us into experiences that contain endless depth and opportunities for our highest potentials to manifest. The “trick” is to let the in-between period of transition change you.

Recently my answer to the question, “What makes a person irresistible?” was featured on The question has since stayed in my thoughts and the following SoulPancake video leapt out at me today. In this Science of Love segment the connection between human beings who have experienced the birth and death of a honeymoon phase in their relationships help shed light on what happens next, and how to make it work:


Love Letters

Could you write yourself a love letter?  Reading a letter from someone else expressing love to you is a wonderful experience, but there is nothing quite like being wholly accepted, acknowledged, and loved by yourself.  Being a good friend starts at home; acting and speaking like a good friend to yourself is great practice at how to be a good friend to others.  As cheesy as the premise of the following SoulPancake video may seem, I love the idea of writing a love letter to your very own self.  An awesome byproduct of hearing these people’s love letters to themselves was that I ended up loving them too.


A Silent Surprise

The following video of Marina Abramović’s performance for her 2010 MoMA retrospective speaks for itself entirely through silence.  The most dramatic part of the video is Marina’s encounter with a former great love from the 70’s whom she used to create art with. What truly captivated me about this video were the shared moments of silent staring contents with strangers.

I find the act of staring into the eyes of another human being in silence to be revolutionary in a world consumed with conversation.  Have you ever stared into someone’s eyes without speaking?  Silence provides the opportunity to experience the reality, the fullness, the beingness of another human.  Two humans staring into each other’s eyes in silence is consciousness gazing into a mirror.

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