Did you know that there is no separation between the mind, the emotions and the body?

Grief has found its way into my lungs, and I am sick with the worst chest cold I have had in years. In some strangely comforting way, it is affirming to know that while we are vulnerable to the sometimes extreme vicissitudes of life, if we can survive the trauma that we experience, we then may also have the power to decide how we meet them, what we do with them, and how we evolve as a result.

My beloved Mother left this earth on July 18th and is now peacefully soaring with the angels, magnificent swallow that she is, exquisite and intentional, swooping and gliding, buoyed aloft by purest love and the light of infinite stars. Like a beautiful bell, music itself, her voice, her laughter, her bright eyes, her face tilted up smiling to receive the sun … radiant with excitement, introducing one soul to another, the grand connector and brilliant creatrice, glowing pearl, shining light, elixir of life! This is how we will remember her–these ways and countless more. The people who knew her were each forever changed for the better, their lives and their very selves magically illuminated by knowing her, truly blessed to have been touched by her singular, other-worldly magic as long as they had, and I know that she will be with us always. No language can express the power, beauty, heroism, and majesty of my Mother, Jane’s joyful love, its radiance, quenchless fidelity like a star.

Her innate, all-encompassing, boundless joy for life, her strength and her indomitable spirit lives on inside me and my family. Endlessly brilliant, insatiably curious, multi-talented, magnetic, beyond generous, compassionate, kind, inventive, creative, intuitive, insightful, inventor, idea-maker, entrepreneur, writer, poet, accomplished pianist, voracious reader and lover of the earth, nature, history, and all things beautiful, exceptional tennis player, talented designer, seamstress, baker, champion of the wrongfully accused and underprivileged, powerful catalyst for social change, alchemist and connector of souls, teacher of what it means to live life to the fullest in the spirit of sharing and love.

Jane sailed on July 18th, her perfect day, as it turns out, because in Judaism, “Chai,” the number “18” literally means “LIFE!” It is considered the luckiest number of Gematria, our mystical tradition that assigns a numerological value to Hebrew letters. Gifts are often given in multiples of 18, which literally signify the giving of life. It means to “enjoy the time we are all given on earth,” and is said at every celebration as a blessing acknowledging the anticipation of all the good things to come …  in her parting, this was the greatest gift she left behind, that of hope and joy, and this is where I draw my strength, knowing that she wants me to continue her legacy of love and celebrating life, no matter how painful it might become in moments.
Many of you have reached out to me to express how awestruck you are at my courage … please know that I don’t feel my courage. In moments, like a silent, steady heartbeat, I may feel the strength I have inherited from my ancestors, specifically from my maternal Grandfather and my Mother, both of whom were powerfully optimistic, “I will prevail,” kind of people, but make no mistake, I am suffering with agonies I have never felt until now, and the manifestation of these feelings is my very breath, or lack thereof.

After we lost Robin Williams this week, having suffered from suicidal depression myself in the past and survived by the grace of some inexplicable confluence of events, realizations and shifts— by some miracle, really … my heart, which was already cracked in two, started bleeding.

I don’t know how people survive the loss of their loves-I am just putting one foot in front of the other, and practicing something I have never been good at: asking for what I need and learning to receive it.

LOVE is what heals grief, and I am practicing love in everything I do. I am practicing LIVING. I am practicing giving to myself and everyone around me, the way I know how, the way I know best.  And guess what?! I am afraid, and I need LOVE. Don’t you?!  Who couldn’t use more love?

And I agree with everyone who has been sensitive and thoughtful enough to make the bold remarks in pieces I have read over the past few days in tribute to Robin, that we do ourselves the greatest disservice going along with the tide, this maddening tsunami of passivity that demands that we invest our very selves in the abstract, sterile, removed, over-digitized, “virtual” way that we are seduced into living our lives today. As Russell Brand said in his tribute to Williams, “We live in a world that has become so negligent of human values that our brightest lights are extinguishing themselves? We must be more vigilant, more aware, more grateful, more mindful.”

We must reach out and connect physically, HUG, verbally, over the phone to hear one anthers’ voices and laughter and emotions, NOT TEXT, where everything is mostly inscrutable and subject to our own projections, so much left dangerously up to subjective interpretation—- through the written word, on paper, where we can see the nuances of someone’s energetic imprint, the singular perfume of their personality, their artistry– with stamps and the effort that it takes to get to the post office or mailbox!

We must return to ourselves and pick up the needle and thread.

We must begin anew to weave the tapestry that is the very fabric of our lives–the interconnecting, intersecting lines of color that create the tensile strength that binds us and lets us know that we ARE supported by the loving relationships we invest in, that we can literally “fall into” that hammock of lovingkindness with others that is based in a reality we create.

What is needed here is a little WAKING ENERGY–a little consciousness around how to love, how to reach out, how to hold, how to embrace, and how to let go …

And in this moment, I am getting the strong message that it is time to surround myself in a cocoon of deepest healing love and to surrender to what is … Time to go inside, kiss and hug myself, just be … so that I can restore, so that I can feel the fear and the anger, and the deepest pain and know that it is all okay, that everything changes, that love is all around me and us.

As Lao Tzu once said, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” And that someone I’m going to love deeply today, is me. How about you?

#staycation #healingbirthday #startanew #loveyourself

7 Responses to “Courage”

Beautiful blog Jennifer. One foot in front of the other is a good way to go. No right way or wrong way to grieve, cry when you need to, to heal the soul, and remember to find joy in all the happy times. Taking the time to take care of yourself is essential,so don’t feel selfish when you do. Sending love and hugs

August 14th, 2014

Jennifer - I don’t know what happened to you, but as full of pain and sorrow as your words are, they are also full of love. And loving someone–especially ourselves–is the most courageous thing we can do.

That said, some days courage just means getting out of bed, and you’re clearly doing that. I’m sorry for your pain, and I applaud you for getting on with your life in spite of it.

Keep loving yourself. Nobody else can do that for you.

August 14th, 2014

I’m an insensitive fool. I don’t know how I read through this article without comprehending that your mother passed away. I’m so sorry for your loss.

Your description of her spirit is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us.

August 17th, 2014

Jennifer, so sad to hear of your loss. Words you once shared with me to motivate me. “The healing hands of time will set you free and bring your energy back.” Peace. -Gerry H.

September 1st, 2014

Jennifer, so you would know it is me. Hard to believe it has been 2 years now, when you moved to Cali. Always the best to you and your loved ones. Respectfully, -Gerry Hess

September 1st, 2014

I have used your DVD (The New Method Pilates Precision toning and sculpting) from 2001. I keep going back to it but each time I realize I age normally but you are still the age you were in 2001, 13 years ago! I injured my knee dancing at my son’s wedding Saturday, so back to Pilates I go. I was looking for something of yours that would be more recent.
I knew I could find you online and your post from August 14th touched my heart. I know the pain that makes you feel like your heart has broken. For 18 years I have worked as a Hospice nurse and know the grief you describe in losing your dear Mother. Please be patient with yourself without losing hope that you will come through the waves of grief. Time helps in a way that no other remedy can.
You don’t know me but I feel in a way I know you from your beautiful exercises and the description of your Mother. Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts. Much love and deep sympathy is felt for you across the country in a little town in Pennsylvania.

October 1st, 2014

Dear Jennier,
I am so sorry for the loss of your mom, she sounds like an amazing person, like all Mothers are. You are so lucky to have been raised by such a beautiful, kind and loving sole.
Time is the best healer and reaching out. I am reaching out to you now and sending you a big hug.
with support and love

October 16th, 2014