Thursday, October 28, 2010

Popes and Pasta

For as long as I can remember, I felt like I didn't have an identity and desperately wanted one. My family didn't have cool ethnic food in our history, or any religious rituals to remind us of our heritage and connect us to the past. Our ancestors came over from England. I've never been to England, but from what I've heard, the English aren't particularly well known for their delicious cuisine or attractive religious idols. When I was a teenager I wanted to be Italian. I saw Italians as attractive and exotic. I liked their food and their swarthy complexions. For better or worse they had and still have a rich history of popes and pasta.

I could write at length about my quest for identity. I actually find a great deal of my journey to find "Jamie" quite amusing. However, I also really admire my chutzpah to put myself in uncomfortable and completely foreign situations, in order to learn more about myself and to grow into the person that I want to be.

Now that I'm a bit wiser about myself and life, I realize that my need for identity didn't really stem from my lack of an "exotic" family history. Yes, traditions are important and they help create identity. I would have loved to have grown up with traditions. However, I had a close, loving, smart, quirky family and that's a wonderful thing. My problem was internal and no external conditions could have changed that. I've tried on a lot of different hats in my life and that has been a blessing. But ultimately, I've got to look within and get to know myself starting from the basic level of what are my likes and dislikes. Do I like crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Gershwin or Metallica? Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or Moose Tracks? As I ask and answer those questions I start to discover the "flavor" of me. I have always had an identity, it's just been  buried deep inside myself waiting to be excavated and explored. It's time to pull out the shovel and the gardening gloves and start digging.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Exploring the Gray

I believe that a real sign of emotional and mental maturity is being able to explore and embrace the gray areas of life. I have always had a tendency to see life in terms of black and white. I confess that it's a really limiting and immature way of experiencing and relating to people and life; however, sometimes we can know that certain personal characteristics don't serve us and yet we feel as though we are stuck and unable to change.

Throughout my life I have run away from people, places, and situations because I didn't understand how to incorporate seemingly disparate parts of life. Now at 41, I'm finally starting to realize that I don't have to give up relationships with institutions, groups, or individuals that are important to me in order to make my life fit neatly into a box.  Every experience can be useful. No thing or person has to be "thrown out" or done away with unless it is obviously harmful or destructive. Sometimes we seem to out grow certain things and it's time to move on to the next set of new experiences with the next set of people. I hope to get to a point in my life where I can bring together all of my varied experiences and all of the people that have been in my life and blend them together to create a tapestry that reflects the beauty, grace and loveliness of my life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why start a blog?

Why start a blog? Basically, I'm fairly shy and reserved. There have been many occasions when my husband and I have been at a friend's house for lunch or dinner, and I have been the only person not saying anything at the table. I think that there is a common misconception that shy people don't have many thoughts or opinions; however, that is not the case. It's just that we aren't comfortable expressing our thoughts, feelings, and opinions in public. I shouldn't speak for all shy people, really I can only speak for myself.

Throughout my life I have experienced a battle raging within between the part of me that longs for the spotlight and wants to be loved and appreciated for my quirkiness, creativity, and sense of humor, and the part of me that becomes paralyzed when asked a question about myself because I'm afraid people will pay attention to me. I'm shy and I'm a public speaker. Sometimes I find it difficult to reconcile these two parts of myself. Yet it goes back to what I said earlier about desiring the spotlight and wanting to retreat from it.

Why all the talk about shyness this morning? Well, it's a major part of how I see myself. Yes, I realize that I could choose to see myself as an extrovert and that might be an interesting experience for a while. At present, I am still stuck in seeing myself as the quiet friendless girl that was never picked as cheerleader, or for drill team for that matter. Of course, both of those activities requires some level of physical coordination that I did not possess. Back to the question of why start a blog. I have a deep need to connect with people, to truly open myself up, let people into my world and share myself with them. I want to be "known". Please don't misunderstand "known" for wanting to be famous, wanting to be known is simply wanting to be understood by others, and feeling a sense of emotional intimacy that results from exposing oneself and allowing oneself to be vulnerable. The easiest way that I know of to express and share myself with others is through writing. I'm an avid journaler, but I can't really share my journaling with other people, although once I brought a journal entry about how miserably depressed I was to a writer's group. Believe it or not I think that the brutal honesty of my entry was appreciated among the stories of children's runny noses and missing buttons from bears. Through this blog I am no longer talking to myself and G-d, the Universe, the Divine, or whatever term for the Creator works for you. I can share myself with you, and I invite you to share your own thoughts and insights so that we might engage in a dialogue together in this space of the blog that carries within it the potential to heal, transform, nurture, and hopefully make us laugh.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Over the past couple of weeks I have come in contact with, via the internet, painful and deeply disturbing gossip about an organization and people that I care deeply about. In Judaism gossip is referred to as lashon hara, and is considered to be a major offense. I confess, there have been times when I have gladly and eagerly partaken in tearing down another person through malicious gossip, afterwards feeling my heart and mind stained by the power and sheer ugliness of the harmful words that I have spoken. Not only do I feel dirty after having spoken lashon hara, I feel the same way after listening to it or reading it. Having witnessed the ways in which gossip has ravaged and divided a once loving community that I was and still am a part of, I feel that I must make a concerted effort to clean up my own mind and speech. It really is true that gossip reveals more about the inner state of the one speaking it then about the person or group being attacked.


It seems as though the past five months have been a process of internal and external transformation for me. It's not that I am becoming something new or different, although on some level I hope that I am, it is more a process of returning to myself. What self am I returning to? Hopefully, that question will be answered with time. One thing that I have recently discovered is that to know myself isn't necessarily some lofty endeavor, but it's more a process of delving deep within my personality and exploring the beautiful and the ugly parts of myself. I am coming to believe that the process of going deeper will eventually lead to flying higher.

When I started on my spiritual journey over twenty years ago, I was frequently in the process of trying to transcend myself and my life. Needless to say, in my attempts to transcend I was left experiencing myself and my inner world as completely blank and empty. I misunderstood many of the beautiful and profound spiritual teachings that I had been exposed to.

 I have always been on a journey of self-discovery, although I have gone through cycles of going in and out of awareness of that journey. However, I have learned that even when it appears and feels as though I have gone completely off course and lost sight of my path, the journey is still happening, important transformations are still taking place within. I am comforted by the knowledge that I am always in the process of growing and transforming even if not consciously aware of it.

I hope that you will join me on this journey.

Much love to you all.