Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love Life and Live Life to the Fullest

written by Stephie Goldfish

“Therefore, the way I am running is not uncertainly; the way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking air…” ~ Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 9:26)

Lately, I’ve been thinking of my life and what I’d leave behind for others to remember me by.

“What would you like for your epitaph to read?” she asked me.

I had to really think what I would want people to remember about me. Would it read something like:  Stephie Goldfish, one of the best artists to come out of West Virginia, or Stephie Goldfish, loved life and lived life to the fullest?

And I know why she asked me that question. Not for me to dwell on the morbidity of my death, the eventuality all of us face, but for me to stop and think about my past, present, and future direction.

I’ve been kind of in limbo over the past few years, coming to terms with living with a serious chronic illness, which has made me have to stop working secularly, and the fact that I can and want to do so much with whatever time there is left.

I’m left with so much time on my hands that most everyone I know says they would love to have my life or at least my time. They say they know exactly what they would do if they were in my position:  Move to the beach and make art, visit every art museum, write a few novels or write poetry, take walks in the park, sip tea and read books, and watch movies all the time. There is no end to their ideas.

There is a play that I saw back in the summer of 2005, called “Score”, which was a one-man show about the life of Leonard Bernstein. It told the story as if he had come back to life and had been given an opportunity to tell us all how to live our lives. I learned something so powerful from the play: that we have very little time left, and to do all we can with what time is left, and to learn from one another.

In the play, he also said to be aware of those times called twilight times, in between being awake and in deep sleep, because epiphanies will come to us, and he said to note them because they are important.

A few days after seeing “Score”, I was lying down and, in this twilight state, I heard a voice say as clear as day, “to have loved life and lived life to the fullest.”

I woke straight up and wrote that sentence or fragment down. I felt it would somehow be relevant or useful in the days to come.

And so, I find myself, almost six years later, questioning my life and life choices.

I don’t want to be seen as someone living life uncertainly and, at the same time, I don’t want to be seen as someone living life to the fullest without any thought or direction.

My friend Cheryl, over at Culture Smith Consulting, coincidentally, speaks of a Semi-circle LifeShape, which she describes is “used to illustrate a healthy rhythm of abiding and bearing fruit. Rest and Work. Pruning and growing.”

In her post, Cheryl speaks about the first commandment that God gave us, which is to be fruitful and to multiply, and in her post suggests that it isn’t just about biological reproduction, but also includes work and purpose. And this idea has given me something to think about. As Cheryl says, God cares about what we do with our days.

Last Monday, my sister and I were feeling so overwhelmed with trying to decide whether to move back home to West Virginia to be closer to help family or to try to give New York City “one more try” or whether we should just stay put for the moment.

Instead, we treated ourselves to a day of rest and relaxation.

We jumped in the car and drove out towards Jordan Lake.

Near Jordan Lake is a place called Fearrington Village, which has one of my favorite bookstores, McIntyre’s Books, and some other unique shoppes and a café.

This was one of the sanest days either of us has had in a while, and it brought me closer to what I feel I want to be doing with my days:  having quality days, where they are filled with peace and quietness, not necessarily quantity days, where one has little time to slow down the pace.

I want to bring more of these days into my life. Today is one of those days where I don’t feel rushed or pulled in any direction. I’m learning to simply be in the moment.

Related posts:  Nurturing FriendshipsSimply Grounded

What about you? Have you thought of simplifying your life? If you’d like to join in on the discussion, join us over at Culture Smith Consulting where we will be discussing how to Simplify our lives.

Culture Smith Consulting

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nurturing Friendships

written by Stephie Goldfish
“I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.” — Walt Whitman
I waited at Starbucks a few minutes before I was to meet Laura for coffee.
I brought along my John Bradshaw book I’ve been reading called RECLAIMING VIRTUE: How We Can Develop The Moral Intelligence To Do The Right Thing, At The Right Time, For The Right Reason, and I brought the tiny book gift I got Laura based on the theme With God You Are Not Alone, a theme that Laura so graciously writes often about at her blog and in her books she has written.
Laura entered the coffee shop and at once our eyes met and we smiled and hugged each other.
Laura had also come with some reading material that she shared, one book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are , and the new book of poetry by Maureen E. Doallas, called Neruda's Memoirs: Poems. Both of which I anticipate on reading as well.
And my heart settled down and we talked and drank our coffee. It was such a blessing to meet Laura this time after so many years, and after a couple of missed attempts to meet each other this past year due to various circumstances on my part.
Laura and I came back in contact with each other once more nearly a year ago through Facebook, emails, and The High Calling.
Our history goes back to 1995/1996 where I had seen Laura for psychotherapy for a short time after I had moved back home to West Virginia for a while to regroup and recuperate. But I lost contact with Laura in 1996 after I had moved back to New York City.
One of my stories about our friendship was among the many stories listed in the “We Are Real” stories where I wrote about Laura, and how she and I first met, and recently came back in contact with each other. You can read the first We Are Real story here: Think of Laura.
In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid, oxygen, water, food, clothing and shelter are the basics we humans need to survive.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid, we must have each need satisfied, starting with the first level where we find our most obvious needs for survival, such as air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sleep, etc.
When these lower level needs of physical and emotional well-being are satisfied, then we are concerned with the higher level needs such as belongingness and love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs where we seek personal growth and our experiences peak.
At the same time, Maslow also recognizes that when things that satisfy our lower level needs are removed or brushed away, we are no longer concerned about maintaining our higher level needs.
This is about where I stand on my journey to simplify and ground myself.
At this time in my life, I find myself in sort of yo-yo effect having moved up and down the ladder of Maslow’s Pyramid reaching peak experiences such as when I was in art school or first moved to New York City for my very first computer graphics job in 1986.
I know that when things seem out of control or I’m feeling ungrounded, it’s the basic needs that I have been neglecting, and thus, the higher level needs, such as nurturing relationships, take a back seat.
Maintaining balance is so important, and you are bound to failure if you have not mastered this first level, and to move on to another level where one finds success in relationships will almost always result in failure.
The third level in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid is where one finds that belonging, being part of a group, where, through love and affection, friendships can be nurtured.
And for a few moments, sitting, talking with Laura, time stood still, and I was transported to a place where all of this doesn’t matter. For Laura knows brokenness too, yet, to me, she is one of the most whole persons I’ve ever met.

Laura is such a beautiful spiritual soul, that, being in her presence, I felt at ease and relaxed, and I didn’t worry so much about where each of us are on our journey of life.
And I realize that it’s only through grace of God that any of us are even breathing.
The words of Walt Whitman above are so true; words alone cannot tell all that was felt there at our meeting. I did have a sense that Laura was sad, but I didn’t know at the time that she had just lost a dear friend.
It felt so grounding to be in Laura’s company, and I hope that we will be able to keep our friendship nurtured and some other friendships that have been waning.

Related posts:  Simply Grounded

What about you? Have you thought of simplifying your life? If you’d like to join in on the discussion, join us over at Culture Smith Consulting where we will be discussing how to Simplify our lives.

Culture Smith Consulting

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Standpoint of Orphans

"The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world." — James 1:27

The child in her
wanted to
be tucked in bed
at night by her mother,
but she knows
it's too late
for lullabies and
bedtime stories.

The child in him
wanted to
run into his father's arms
and be held,
but he stopped
running and holding
on to a fantasy
that someday he'd return.

The children of the world
want to grow up
to be just like
their parents,
and maybe
that's the reason
we need to take care
of our orphans.

Please join us at The High Calling for a Random Acts of Poetry this week with the theme being about orphans.