Archive for December, 2012

The Giving List – 2012 Edition

We celebrated all of the holidays when I was growing up. Giant Hanukkah parties where my mother fried so many latkes she inevitably set off the smoke alarm. My father would round up all of the kids to play a version of Dreidel with him as the gelt manager making sure everyone ended up with some candy even if it landed on Nun. Every Christmas morning our house expanded to twenty to thirty for breakfast.  And no holiday season was complete without my favorite party of the year—BB&C at Last Gasp! Just ask me about the year I met Jerry Garcia there. We celebrated every holiday not with an overabundance of gifts but with an overabundance of people. And at the center of this season came the Pagan nucleus – Solstice. Because that was what we were always celebrating; whether it was around fried potatoes, early morning cookies dunked in coffee, or Beer and Burritos; what it was always about in our family was the return of light.

I can use the return of light this year in my life, not just this winter and in the darkest days but after this entire year. It has been a hard year for me, a dark year, a year of uncertainty and  unhappiness much of the time. A year I very much had to experience in some ways but have struggled with so much. I have needed the return of light this year more than ever. I have needed the hope of advent and the flickering of menorahs. I have needed the stories of miracles and the belief they exist somewhere and can perhaps in a small way exist for me. I have needed to believe in the transformation as the light wanes with the knowledge and the belief that it will come back again.

I haven’t tasted my mother’s latkes in probably ten years, but I still love them once a year on any of the 8 nights. I still light the menorah we bought together at the tenement museum. I still go to midnight mass and sing the carols feeling the very hope emanate from my diaphragm. I still miss the Beer and Burrito party at Last Gasp every year that I can’t be there. But I have found the older I get the center of this season has changed for me to that of light and its return to our each and every day. It is the solstice that brings me the most peace and the fact that no matter what holiday or custom I practice, it all comes back to believing in a rhythm, a cycle, an ebb and flow, in the doubt being eclipsed by a very faint sliver of light.

This year the candles and lights that have shone the brightest for me are in the list below; organizations and groups that have reminded me that in winter, fall, summer, and spring, there is so much in the world that brings light into our lives.

I wish you all a season of light and to all of the glorious groups below a check of my appreciation is in the mail and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do.

Love,

Ra

MARTIN DE PORRES HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY

All-ways closest in my heart. I was raised in the shadow of these soup pots and surrounded by this community my entire life.

“Martin’s, as it is affectionately known, is a free restaurant, serving breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch on Sundays. Our mission is to serve in the spirit of compassion, understanding and love.”

Note: Quote taken from Martin de Porres Website. See link for more information. martindeporres.org

NEW HOPE CAMBODIA

The light for this incredible place still shines so brightly in my memory and in my conscience every day. One of the most remarkable and inspiring places I have experienced.

“Set in Mondul 3, Siem Reap, one of the poorest slum areas in Cambodia. A broken community of army families, karoke/sex workers and displaced men women and children.

New Hope Cambodia’s mission is to restore hope, dignity, and promise to these once proud and prosperous people.”

Note: Quote taken from New Hope Cambodia Website. See link for more information. http://www.newhopecambodia.com/

BUILD A SCHOOL IN BURMA

Build A School In Burma is continuing to shine in my mind as the work expands and as I hope some day to make it there and participate with this group.

“Build A School in Burma’s mission is to build schools in underserved areas of Burma (Myanmar) to educate children and give them a chance for a better future. Build a School in Burma built [their] first school during 2011 in Nan Ouw village, Shan State and recently completed a second school in partnership with the Karen Women Action Group at Inn Ta Lu village.”

Note: Quote taken from Build A School In Burma Website. See link for more information. http://www.buildaschoolinburma.com/#!

BLOSSOM BUS

After being jointly saddened and completely inspired by the young Malala Yousafzai and her courage and commitment to education I heard of Blossom Bus. Education may be along with food and water one of the most vital and important things in life, and young girls and women receiving education has been at the center of my mind for years the very spark that can light a change in our world. Blossom Bus is making education possible for girls in rural Indian Muslim communities.

“The Blossom Bus bridges the chasm between parents’ legitimate concerns for their daughters’ safety and a girl’s right to education. By providing pioneering families with a bus and a parent chaperone to safely deliver their daughters to secondary school.”

Note: Quote taken from Lotus Outreach International Website. See link below for information and scroll down for short film.

http://lotusoutreach.org/blossom-bus/

ARS NOVA

At times we can find no greater source of light than we see reflected to us in Art. Art compels, it transcends, it challenges, and elevates us. For an artist there is no greater source of light, inspiration, or support than from Ars Nova. Ars Nova is dedicated to developing creative souls and is giving a home to some of the most extraordinary new generation of artists and their work.

“Ars Nova is committed to developing and producing theater, comedy and music artists in the early stages of their professional career.  Our unique development programs are designed to support outside-the-box thinking and encourage innovative, genre-bending work.  By providing a safe environment where risk-taking and collaboration are paramount, Ars Nova gives voice to a new generation of artists and audiences, pushing the boundaries of live entertainment by nurturing creative ideas into smart, surprising new work.”

Note: Quote taken from Ars Nova Website. See link for more information. arsnovanyc.com

THE DOUGY CENTER

Grief may be the darkest shadow of life. The Dougy Center is committed to helping families and young people through the most difficult of times and experiences. It is a safe place to feel what can be so much more than any young person should ever have to experience.

“The Dougy Center provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death can share their experiences.

We provide support and training locally, nationally and internationally to individuals and organizations seeking to assist children in grief.”

Note: Quote taken from The Dougy Center Website. See link for more information.

http://www.dougy.org/about-us/mission-history/

22

12 2012

My Sister Has Been Published

My sister is a great writer; truth be told she is the writer in our family; the one who always expressed her emotions, her dreams, and spent her time writing poetry, memories, and some very interesting stories as a child. It is with such excitement that I share that she has been published on the website HelloGrief.org.

She has been working and editing this piece for the last few weeks and it is so thrilling to see the finished product. The piece is heartfelt and thoughtful; it is full of the emotions, the memories, and the hope of the last few years. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of her.

Annnnd as the absolute bonus, we have both so enjoyed this website and know our mom would have LOVED it! Somewhere on a bench surrounded by purple flowers my mother is saying, “my daughter got published on a website called HelloGrief! MY DAUGHTER GOT PUBLISHED ON A WEBSITE CALLED HELLOGRIEF!! This is too fucking cool kid, too cool.”

Big love and read the fabulous article by the immensely talented Camila Martin The Fine Line Between Hope And Panic

12

12 2012

Oh Sugar

Oh Sugar, OH SUGAR! I have become completely entranced with the writer Cheryl Strayed also known to some as Sugar.  I have been reading WILD and TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS and have become absolutely undone and put back together again.

Her writing is luminous, it is honest at its most heartbreaking core, it’s reassuring, enlivening, and stunning.  I have wept and giggled in equal measure as I read and I found myself so often embracing both books to me the way I wish I could embrace my mother so many times.

Sweet peas, glow bugs, beauties, beasts, and lovable savages; she sees it all and says it in a truth that is inspiring to push ourselves to become our better selves.

Thank you Cheryl Strayed for the most amazing reading and sharing so much of your life, for putting words so eloquently to the emotions that leave so many speechless. Thank you to Timmy for the signed paper, to Jennifer for introducing me to the wonder that is Sugar SUGAR, thank you Nugget for sharing WILD and all that is Cheryl Strayed’s writing and listening to so many of my very poor readings of her profound words; you are right our Mom would be crazy about her!

Love, love, love, love, love you all like iron dinner bell,

Ra

05

12 2012