For those of us who live in earthquake prone places, it’s been drilled into our heads what to do when we feel the first signs of the earth moving. If you’re indoors, drop and cover, get under the nearest table or desk, cover your head and stay clear of exterior walls, glass and heavy furniture. If you’re outside, stay clear of buildings, power lines or anything else that could fall on you. And when it’s over, hopefully you have that earthquake kit to provide you with food, water, clothing and medical supplies to hold you over until the power comes back on, help is on the way, and order is restored.
But what happens if you’re not trained to know the early warning signs of an impending disaster? What happens when there are no protocols, or procedures or plans in place to mitigate the potential for danger, destruction, injury and death? And what happens when instead of taking cover, protecting yourself and your loved ones, the early warning signs are ignored, disaster strikes and there is no disaster plan in place to fall back on as chaos reigns?
What happens if you are called upon to be a companion and support to survivors seized by overwhelming loss amid complete chaos, massive deaths, destruction and unimaginable grief and despair?
And what happens to your psyche, and spirit? How do you ultimately make sense of this to find your own inner peace, acceptance and trust in life?
My guest this week on KOWS, Wise Woman Storytime,is social psychologist and author ofWho by Water: Reflections of a Tsunami Psybhologist (and other books), Ronna Kabatznick. Listen to this most difficult and tragic story. Learn how through Ronna’s deeply held Jewish and Buddhist beliefs and practices, she was able to give selfless compassion and support to those in need and how she continues to emerge as a different woman with a renewed appreciation for living, a deep respect for the fragility of life and an appreciation and acceptance of the absolute impermanence of life.
One of the greatest gifts for me from hosting Wise Woman Storytime on KOWS 107.3FM is that I get to meet and get to know some really wonderful women. Elaine B Holtz exemplifies this so well.
A first generation American, Elaine’s life story is an evolution from a sheltered child living in a homogenous Jewish community to a social activist who lives, works and thrives in a global society. Once the shy college student terrified of public speaking, today, Elaine hosts both a radio and TV show called Women’s Spaces interviewing politicians, fellow activists, artists, healers, writers and musicians. She is an author, a poet and currently serves Sonoma County with her service on the Community Advisory Board and the Human Rights Commision.
With a strong commitment for women’s rights, social justice, children, peace and the environment, Elaine B. Holtz is a spokesperson and visionary for those whose voices may be stifled or perhaps needs a platform to speak from. And while she says her radio show is “dedicated to ordinary women doing extraordinary things,” she is the shining light giving them the spotlight.
Most of my blog posts about wise Woman Storytime have detailed my challenging journey as the “new kid on the block” programmer and show host for Wise Woman Storytime. Over the past 7 months, I’ve shared with you the trials, tribulations and successes of my new adventure. And while my path to (no such thing as) perfection is never ending, with much more learning (translation screw ups) to be had, I think it’s time for me to share a little bit about this gem of a station I’m now a part of.
KOWS 107.3FM is a LOCAL community radio station serving the heart of west Sonoma County (CA). We are funded by our individual members and local sponsors. who keep us on the air. We broadcast 24/7 from the serene and bucolic town of Occidental and can be streamed online all over the world. There are over 70 dedicated local hosts who volunteer their time and give so much of themselves to bring you a show they really, really care about. So what might you find on KOWS? You will find a rich mixture of all kinds of music…..world, retro, jazz, rock, contemporary, soul, blues, Renaissance and Baroque…….to name a few. You will be privy to great conversations with local politicians, musicians and people in the healing arts. You will get to listen to thoughtful and provocative discussions about growing old, indigenous people, and environmental and political issues. You will have the option to hear stories, learn about astrology and laugh, relax and feel good.
If you’d like to be a part of the herd and help us moove towards our goal of raising $30,000 for a new antennae I invite you to become one of our sponsors or members…….just click on the link……It’s that simple.
Now about today’s show……….
What happens when you’re a 59 year old woman, who has been in the same job for 12 years and suddenly you’re told that you no longer have the relevant skills for the job you thought you were really good at? Add to that, the recent death of your mother, your personal concerns and financial worries about your father’s worsening dementia and a series of unexpected life circumstances that puts you out of your home and literally shakes you to your core.
In Maxine Lachman’s case, all these circumstance led to a deep inquiry into her early childhood scripts about money, an investigation into finance and retirement planning an exploration of what is REALLY important and a search for an understanding of what is enough. How do we know if we have enough and when is enough enough?
Wise Woman Storytime is a personal journey for me. Each show, I am blessed with the presence of an amazing woman willing to take time from her busy life to share her story . Every show continues to be a learning experience for me. As you may remember from previous posts, being at a small local radio station, the DJ/host is responsible for working the boards which includes recording the show, playing the music, and making sure that the correct microphones are in use at the right times. It’s an orchestration of phasing in and phasing out – multi-tasking as you coordinate it all. For someone with NO background in radio and a limited techy repertoire, this has been a challenge. But, like anything else in my world, it’s the challenges that take me to greater places.
On January 15, 2015, I had the privilege and honor of having my friend and author, Gael Chandler as a guest on Wise Woman Storytime. Even though I’ve known Gael now for about 4 1/2 years and we’ve shared many of our stories and experiences, the pieces of her professional life really came together for me today as she took us on her journey from that third grade girl who declared that she wanted to be a writer, to the published author she is today.
To me, manifesting a book is a great feat. Not only do you have to have an idea, a vision of what you want to say, you have to have the discipline and focus to do it. While I am very organized and can become extremely focused, words don’t just flow out of me when I write. I consider myself a “functional” writer – one who can get the job done, but one who labors over words, sentences and paragraphs, writing and rewriting many times before I’m satisfied with the end result.
So, you can say that I was most intrigued to hear how Gael actually gets her books written: how she organizes herself, her days and how she pushes through the stumbling blocks and challenges.
It’s November 20, 2014 and I am jazzed about my 5th show, Wise Woman Storytime on KOWS 107.3FM. Finally, I feel like I have mastered – okay – maybe mastered is a bit hyperbolic – but I really feel confident about working the boards, fading the music in and out, and getting the show recorded right from the beginning. (If you are unfamiliar with my previous radio adventures, orchestrating the myriad of electronic levers necessary for each show resulted in my not getting a couple of my shows recorded from the beginning). Today I feel confident that I can manage it all – even the phone system so I can take live calls while on the air.
And so here I am…….feeling confident, prepared and ready to have the best show ever. I have a great guest with a meaningful and important story. I am excited with my musical selections. I researched music that complemented today’s story and I included a brief overview of the historical significance of the people, the orchestra and what makes this music so special.
But, alas, sometimes there are glitches…..you know, mechanical failures that just happen. Cars don’t start, computers get viruses and household appliances stop working. Things break down, errors occur that all the planning in the world just can’t stop from happening. And wouldn’t you know, 36 minutes into the show an error sign appeared in the window of the recording device. The CD player stopped recording. Had I been more skilled, I would have immediately removed the CD and put in a new one instead of pressing the play button, which never did restart the recording Had I been more experienced, I would have backed up the show with one of those online sites that records shows……But I didn’t do this……I just didn’t know.
So it is with a very sad heart that I must tell you that the last 18 minutes of the show was not recorded. And while I cannot recreate the conversation, emotional tenor, poetry and music that aired, I am going to do my very best to fill in the gaps and give you some of the flavor of the story and the woman telling it.
My guest this week is Frieda Ferrick. Through poetry and prose, Frieda tells her story of coming to America and growing up as the youngest daughter of Holocaust survivors. Children of Holocaust survivors live in a world with a contradictory reality. There are unspoken messages and expectations that get passed down; questions needing answers yet knowing instinctively not to ask; horrific secrets to be uncovered, yet not wanting to upset one’s parents; and overprotective children who never want to create more stress and upset to their family.
Frieda describes herself and her sister Chana as “junior detectives piecing together our parents’ history one segment at a time.”
Max and Sophie Lazar suffered the indignities and abuses of the Nazi occupiers. They were rounded up and forced to live with other Jews in the cordoned off and overcrowded quarters in Lodz, Poland for years before being shipped off to concentration camps. Both Max and Sophie lost parents, siblings, cousins and in Max’s case, his first wife and children. They met in Europe after the war and immigrated to the United States in the early 1950’s with their two young children, Frieda and Chana.
Frieda grew up in a close knit group of Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors who became the Lazar’s extended family. Although surrounded by love, the absence of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins left Frieda with a feeling that something was missing from her life. Books and make believe games were a source of sustenance throughout her early years.
At age 16, in the 11th grade, Frieda was encouraged to share her writings and she has been writing ever since. Her book, Stories My Family Could Not Tell is coming out this December. It is a compilation of Holocaust and family of origin poems, philosophical musings and prayers for peace,
Frieda’s story is an important one. It is a story of historical magnitude…..a story of survival amidst one of the world’s most darkest hours. It is a story of courage and resilience and perseverance to go on and to create out of the ashes of destruction and despair. It is a story about people – ordinary people who live extraordinary lives.
To Max and Sophie Lazar who lost so much and created more…….who started new lives in a foreign country learning the language and raising a family:
To Sophie shy and reticent to talk about her past, who stood up and spoke out (check out her interview) when Holocaust deniers were making outrageous claims that the Holocaust never happened:
To Bronislaw Huberman who helped 1,000 Jewish musicians escape from Nazi occupied Europe and brought them to Palestine to perform in his newly created Palestine Symphony Orchestra, now The Israeli Philharmonic..
To Frieda Ferrick, for sharing her deeply personal story of growing up the child of Holocaust survivors, her philosophical musings, her poems for peace and her deep love for her husband, sons and grandsons.
And to all of you who live your lives doing what is right and just…….
I have just completed my fourth radio show on KOWS 107.3FM, THE community radio station for west Sonoma County. I will admit that I am getting better and better with the technology and even more importantly, I’m learning to orchestrate the myriad tasks that need to come together harmoniously for a polished show.
And there is good news to celebrate and some bad news to learn from.
Let me start on the down side. The bad news is that I forgot to push the play button right at the beginning of this show so I didn’t record my introduction. The good news is that I did remember to press play just before my guest started her story. So, trying to save face, I have come up with a couple of solutions to the missing segment. For those so inclined, I have written out the introduction below and you can read it……OR, you can listen to the recorded intro at the END of the show…….OR, you can do both……Your choice.
My guest today is Debby Meagher an extraordinary woman who has made a choice to live her life from her heart and to embrace the world with a joyful, positive approach to living. Debby sees problems not as dead ends but as opportunities for change. She believes fears can be overcome by pushing through and not avoiding them and she has learned not to believe everything she thinks, but rather to listen to the wisdom of her heart as her guide and best friend.
Debby Meagher is one of the most authentic people I have ever met. What she says, she lives. Her actions and lifestyle are mirrors to her words. She says what she believes and lives in accordance with her principles. Debby is an amazing business woman. Twenty-two years ago she opened Coffee Catz, Sebastopol’s local community based coffee house that has regular music, regular inspirational talks, all kinds of festivities, local events, great food (mostly organic) and its’ own roasted coffee. She recently created the Center for More JOY in Klamath Falls, Oregon and coming soon is CONSCIOUS AGING: GLAM CAMMPING.
Did I say that Debby is creative, innovative and makes her dreams a reality?
I hope you enjoy the show and that perhaps some of Debby’s life lessons will either remind you of ones you may have forgotten and/or be of inspiration for you to explore.
Debby was born February 2nd in 1950 in Monterey Park, CA. She grew up in Palos Verdes CA and went to Rolling Hills High School. When she became pregnant in her last year of high school, she dropped out of school and married Marty Meagher. They had two beautiful girls.
Debby attended night school and by the time she was 20 years old she had her high school diploma.
Debby had reached the place in her life of living “the American dream” – the beautiful home where she had always wanted to live, a great husband, two fabulous kids – but she wasn’t happy and couldn’t figure out why. She was divorced by the time she was 27 years old.
And that’s where her journey of self discovery began. The path has been one of many trials and tribulations. It has been a journey of exploration and confrontation; of honesty, introspection and pushing out of her comfort zones including acknowledging at 40 years of age that she had had a drinking problem since she was 18 years old and deciding that this wasn’t how she wanted to continue to live her life. And doing something about it…….
Debby Meagher is the owner of Coffee Catz. She has been in this business for 22 years in Sebastopol, CA. She is the creator of The Center for More JOY in Klamath Falls, Oregon. And coming soon to this area is CONSCIOUS ADVENTURE: GLAM CAMPING.
I’ve known Debby now for about 2 years. She is truly one of the most amazing, thoughtful, and happiest people I have ever met. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Debby Meagher to you to share her personal journey of how she overcame addiction, confronted her unhappiness and created a life of joy for herself and others.
As older women, we have a lifetime of experiences with many rich lessons learned. As older women, in a youth oriented world, our voices are often not heard; our life lessons go unspoken. As older women, we are often not honored or given the reverence we so deserve.
AND WE ARE CHANGING THIS PARADIGM – ONE STORY CIRCLE AT A TIME!
Join a group of sister elders who are embracing and sharing their many years of lessons learned through storytelling circles. All you have to do is show up and tell your story. If you don’t think you have a story, are feeling too shy to tell one or just don’t want to share one, come listen and support those who do……And just in case…….there will be a brief presentation on Tips for Storytelling.
The storytelling theme this month is Turning Points.
Hope to see you.
When: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 9:30am
Where: Coffee Catz
6761 Sebastopol Avenue
Sebastopol, CA 95472
If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com or 510-301-1706
$5-$10 offering appreciated (no one turned away for lack of funds)
The truth is age never much mattered to me. I have always joyfully celebrated every birthday-especially the ones that started a new decade. I remember my 30th birthday party with the slinky male belly dancers gyrating around my Berkeley living room with plates of lit candles on their heads…….And my 40th birthday party with all my friends stuffed into my tiny Mabel Street living room. And that short black dress I wore to my 50th and the long skirt I had on for my 60th birthday……..hmmmmmm……maybe that was a clue of what was ahead……..
My enthusiasm about birthdays was not always in synch with those around me. Some of my friends were devastated at turning 30 (yes, that is true) and some of my friends wouldn’t tell their boyfriends or husbands, or even their girlfriends how old they were (how could they get away with that? If you were their boyfriend, or fiancee or husband, or girlfriend, wouldn’t you wait until they were in the shower or fast asleep and sneak into their wallet to look at their driver’s license? I would……). And then of course, there was my parents generation, where not only did women not tell their age, it was considered rude to even ask or hint at her years. And, if there was some legal or compelling reason that you had to ask her age, there was the obligatory, “You certainly don’t look your age” lie.
But the truth is age never much mattered to me…….until now. And to be honest, I’m not sure that it’s really the age thing…..I think it’s more of what I see and notice and feel….. Where is that energy that allowed me to go out partying at 11pm instead of now being asleep by 9? Why do I prefer to be home before dark instead of arriving home as the sun rises? Where has happened to the thickness of my skin….? Now, if I happen to poke myself with a bracelet or tap against something, I get these purplish, red blemishes that sprinkle my skin. And then there are those things they call “age spots” that appear all over my body. Can’t they call it something else, like wisdom mounds or beauty dots? I have a special relationship with the ones on my face…..I just bought a product at Aveda this week called a “concealer” so I can hide these facial intrusions. I keep forgetting to put it on……
And then there’s my neck……that protrusion of soft skin that no longer wants to adhere to whatever it was attached to before…….and the gray hair that I strive to color back to its natural state that I can no longer even remember. And, oh how I miss my naturally wavy hair that the grey hairs insist on keeping straight. If I happen to be in “just the right light” (really the very wrong light), and I look at myself in a mirror, sometimes I hear myself saying, ““Oh, my God, who is that person peering back at me? Look at her skin. When did those wrinkles move in? Then I feel a sense of shame about my judgmental self. And then I feel more shame and guilt because I shouldn’t be thinking these thoughts, at all. But I am.
“Well”, I tell myself, this is just superficial crap. It’s the youth mentality of our society or the fault of the media for not honestly portraying real older people and I don’t buy into any of it……But I do…..on some level at least. That’s why I color my hair and I bought “the concealer” the other day. I want to look good, be considered attractive, pretty…….young???? Younger than I am??????. And while I probably would never really consider plastic surgery, I can kinda understand why (mostly, but not only) women spend huge amounts of money buying all kinds of cosmetics and promises of a youth returned, and pay exorbitant amounts of money to remove wrinkles and tighten up that loose skin. And yet, not long ago, when I was watching the Academy Awards, I was shocked and revolted when I saw the new and improved John Travolta who looked mannequin like and other worldly. Or have you seen Joan Rivers lately? I don’t want THAT either.
So I guess what I’m saying is that I too, am a victim of the youth oriented society and the ageist language and imaging of the culture we live in. But with that said, never liking to consider myself a victim, I am also a survivor. And while I haven’t come to completely embrace my physically aging self, I have stopped trying to hide it or deny it or fix it…….I am moving towards acceptance of it and of myself as a beautiful 67 year old woman with some wrinkles and beauty dots.
Oh, and if you happen to see me in the middle of the summer with a gorgeous shawl wrapped tight around my neck, remember, I am a work in progress……and wink at me in solidarity.
We are always growing older. It’s a fact of life. We begin to grow older from the moment we are born. When someone is young, we say that the person is growing up. Growing up implies the physical changes that the years bring to the body as well as learning the life lessons required for the next stage of life. At some stage, usually after adolescence, but not always, we drop the language of growing up and we start talking about growing old and being old.
I contend that growing older and being old are not the same.
As long as we remain on this earth, we grow older. Being old, however, is a state of mind. One can be chronologically young and be “old,” while an 80 or 90 year old can lead an active and full life. We call this young at heart for it is in the heart that age becomes irrelevant and attitude means everything.
I love what the great Chassidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said,
“It is forbidden to be old. Grow older but do not be old: that is to say, do not be bitter and despairing. Do not oppose reality, but do not prevent life from fulfilling its potential to bring forth new things, right up to your very last breath.”
I want to continue to grow old like that. I want to live each and every day of my life with vitality, enthusiasm, enjoyment and with acceptance for who I am, where I am in my life cycle and yes, with the reality that one day I will die.
Growing old is not for the faint of heart. Moving into the third stage of life can be daunting. Physical challenges, loss of loved ones, isolation, loneliness, the emphasis on youth in our culture and the societal dismissal, disdain and subsequent invisibility of elders certainly contributes to the dilemma.
AND, growing older has the potential for being a rich, fulfilling, and incredibly stimulating, fun and adventurous time of life. It is a time to reap the rewards of one’s life lessons and be true to who we have come to be.
Being old, however, is quite another experience. It is giving up on the enjoyment and joys of being alive and living in suffering and despair. It is a death before its time.
I want to grow old in a realistic way. I want to embrace all aspects of living with curiosity, enthusiasm, vitality, connections, awareness and intention to be completely alive. I want to do this with my eyes wide open; aware that changes are already happening and will continue; that physical and mental decline is inevitable. I want to meet this head on………realistic, aware, alive and in my ageless heart.
I am learning to accept growing older. The older I become, the more I am coming to appreciate this as a great gift. And, as with any wonderful gift that I get, I treasure and savor the unwrapping, the unfolding and in this case, find the gift of life itself.