Artist/Healer Judith Z. Miller on “LIVE IT UP” TV SHOW – And – Audience with a Holy Man in Thailand Leads to Transformation

Donna Drake, is an international award winning creative artist, writer, producer, actress, voice-over talent, and the Creator and Executive Producer/Host of her new television show “Live it Up!” with Donna Drake. The show features stories, tips and resources filled with positive messages of hope, motivation, and inspiration to empower others.

Donna interviewed me, Judith Z. Miller, the author of “Artist Soul Speaks” in this segment about my primal wearable art and sculpture.

I met Donna via the British Airways Face of Opportunity Contest – she and I were both winners. The amazing contest “prize” was a round-trip to anywhere we wanted to go in the world! And, along with the First Class flight to London and a ticket to our final destination, British Airways wined and dined all the contestants in New York and London, where we attended business seminars presented by top entrepreneurial consultants.

My interview with Donna took place before I went to Thailand to see the work of other artists who also use organic materials, and to have a private audience with Mr. Yord, a renowned Buddhist Shaman who consults with heads of State.

I traveled from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with the help of my new friend Narong and his wife to Mr. Yord’s sanctuary filled with beautiful golden sculptures.

A portion of Mr. Yord’s santuary

I decided to go to  Thailand, to traveled half-way around the world to find out if what I was experiencing as “healing powers” in my hands and when I used my treebranch shakers, was in fact real – and if I should pursue healing work. I felt both trepidation and excitement about both the possible “yes” or “no” answer.

Judith Z. Miller with Mr. Yord

Mr. Yord spoke with me at length, generously giving me well over an hour of his time in a private audience with only my interpreter, Narong, and his wife present.  We sat facing each other in intimate conversation. We spoke intimately, talking about my life, my artwork, and my spiritual practice. He asked inquired about my birth date and examined and meditated upon my tree branch shakers.

Mr. Yord meditating on my shaker

After his evaluation, Mr. Yord spoke to me with great assurance and certainty. We sat looking into each others’ eyes as he informed me that healing work was my life work – my destiny. I questioned him several times, asking if he was sure – if he could feel from my presence that this was the right choice for me. He repeated several times that it was.

Mr. Yord inscribed an ancient Thai prayer on my shaker

Then Mr. Yord performed a ritual blessing, repeating prayers in Thai and blessing me with water.  He tied a colored string around my wrist and wrote ancient Thai prayers on the shakers.  He gave me sacred amulets representing the arts and healing.

I left of our meeting thrilled – and stunned. Humbled – and emboldened to begin my new life work – my healing work.

Posted in Animals, Handmade Crafts, Judith Z. Miller in the Media, Personal Achievement, Visual Art, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYC Queer Cougars and Cubs Together Featured in Gay City News Pride Edition

A Play Space for Cougars and Cubs

Added by admin on June 21, 2012.
Saved under Around TownFeaturesNYC

As featured in Gay City News Pride Edition

A Play Space for Cougars and Cubs

Ritual healing artist Judith Z. Miller realized that large lesbian gatherings often offer no clue to women interested in older or younger women who might reciprocate.

BY WINNIE McCROY | In an effort to connect older and younger lesbians interested in that reputedly unheard of activity — actually dating women across generational lines! — Brooklyn ritual healing artist Judith Z. Miller has created New York Queer Cougars and Cubs Together (NYC QCCT). The social group holds events for younger women attracted to older women and vice versa.

“When I go out to lesbian events, there will be 500 young women, a few middle aged and a few older women, and I have no clue how to figure out who might consider going out with me,” said Miller. “None. I realized most people who are older or younger and attracted to someone of the opposite ages were in the same position. So I founded this club.”

Miller said that the group, which started last September, currently has 73 members. So far, they have only held a few events, including a meet-up in late April at a Brooklyn Arts Council event at the Public Library at Grand Army Plaza and a game night at Fat Cat in Sheridan Square.

NYC QCCT invites women over 18 years of age who are interested in finding someone older or younger to date. Miller said that new members are asked five or six questions about what they find attractive, whether they have previously been in relationships with people of variant ages, what their interests are, and how they hope other members see them.

“What I didn’t think about much when I started the group is that someone who is 30 years old could be a cougar to someone who is 20, but to a 50-year-old, they’re a cub,” said Miller. “It wasn’t immediately apparent who identifies as what, and who they are searching for.”

Miller made it clear that the group was not for younger women in search of a “sugar mama” to take care of them. She relayed a story of a young woman who moved to New York from the Carolinas, leaving an unfulfilling relationship with a wealthy woman who used her as arm candy.

“She didn’t take the girl seriously at all,” said Miller. “We talked for an hour, and she was really very bright, independent, and grounded, and I was impressed by that. Thank God she came to us. This is a group for women who want to find meaningful relationships.”

Miller said that NYC QCCT can be useful for younger women who are afraid older women will dismiss their advances, and older women who are young at heart and want a lover to match their mindset.

“My friends are at home cooking dinner or watching TV, while I’m out dancing,” said Miller. “I feel like I need to be with a younger person to resonate. My outer body in a sense belies my actual spirit, and many people are a different age than they appear. In an internal, spiritual sense, this group helps match people of the same age who are in different bodies.”

May-December romances can be the subject of much scorn from friends and family members. Miller said that upon hearing of a new romantic interest, her own friends roll their eyes and say, “‘Another young one?’ But then they meet her and say she’s great. But some people encounter much more than a rolling of eyes.”

Between judgmental attitudes and the difficulties presented in finding partners across generations, Miller said that NYC QCCT is essential.

The group has given its first member, Barbara, optimism that she will find a suitable mate. Barbara, who is 53, said that her last girlfriend was 22 years her junior, but that “it was no sugar mama situation.”

“I felt I had life lessons to teach her, and she had youthful lessons to teach me,” said Barbara, who declined to give her last name because she is not out at work. “I came across some women who wanted me to take care of them, but it was like prostitution to me. I’m not interested in that. I’m looking for a long-term relationship and friends, too.”

Barbara said she wanted to find a woman who likes to travel and go out often, and said that a group like this — where everyone knows what they are there for — was helpful. So far, she has met a younger friend whom she is mentoring, but the relationship is not romantic, which Barbara said is fine with her.

“I think it’s important for generations to be in touch with each other,” said Miller. “Our society is more segmented than ever before in this country’s history. Talking about cultural experience and sharing across many generations is essential in terms of creating real community and developing perspective and wisdom. And in terms of the lesbian community, I think it’s essential because there’s simply no way for us to find each other.”

NYC QCCT invites all interested women to join them on Saturday, June 23 at 4:45 p.m. at Bryant Park near the percussionists for the Annual Dyke March. For more information, visit http://www.meetup.com/nyc-queer-cougars-cubs-together.

Photo of Judith Z. Miller by Lisa DuBois http://dubois.zenfolio.com/

To read this article on Gay City News, go to:

http://gaycitynews.com/a-play-space-for-cougars-and-cubs/

Posted in LGBT, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh – So That’s What They Mean By “One Day at a Time”!

Yay! I attended my FIRST Bikram (HOT!) yoga class today!

And, guess what – low-and-behold, I survived! I did almost all postures and I didn’t pass out – a miracle!

I went to Bikram Yoga on Flatbush Avenue here in Park Slope to support my friend Solitaire Macfoy who celebrated HIS ONE-THOUSANDTH YOGA CLASS IN A ROW!

Solitaire – A Joyous Yogini

Think about that people – 1,000 classes – that’s 2 3/4 YEARS of Bikram HOT yoga – without missing a single day!

And, what makes that achievement even more special and impressive is that Solitaire suffers from arthritis so severe that he must use 2 canes to walk.

Solitaire is one STRONG and DETERMINED man. He has participated in at least one yoga class a day – every day – since September 11th 2009, totalling 1,000 classes. I wanted celebrate with my friend. And, it was a great excuse to get my chubby butt into the room to sweat it out and prove to myself that I could do at least ONE class too.

Solitaire says he has found the perfect exercise regimen to counter the physical problems that restricted his movement.

“The pain hasn’t disappeared but it has been hugely reduced.  If the arthritis was as in control as before, you might find me in a wheel-chair now.”

The man is unstoppable. I frequently run into Solitaire in my neighborhood, and he’s one of the most up-beat, cheery people I’ve ever met – he simply does not see “impossible” as an option.

Today’s class was packed to in his honor and the well-wishers cheered, delighted in his achievement – and we all sweated together. Another attendee – a 65-year-old woman, was celebrating her 485th class – quite an accomplishment!

Yes, the 90-minute HOT, HOT, HOT class was a challenge for me. I sweated – in fact I soaked my clothes through and through – but it was exciting to complete.

I survived ONE-class, a 90-minutes physical and mental struggle  – sweating buckets and feeling exhausted and dizzy in the heat. I contemplated the liberating concept that ANYTHING is possible – if we put our minds to it. That idea was liberating for me.

Today, Solitaire proved to me that yes, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE if we put our mind, body and spirit on the line – and commit.

So Mazel Tov Solitaire – and thank you!

 http://www.bikramyogaparkslope.com/

Posted in Personal Achievement, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Elephant Whisperers – The Future’s Not Ours to See – Que Sera Sera

I just read an astounding story about the recent death of animal whisperer Lawrence Anthony.

Lawrence Anthony

“For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives. … There are two elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after Anthony’s death. “They had not visited the house for a year and a half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey,” Dylan is quoted in various local news accounts.”

The article continues, ““A good man died suddenly,” says Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Ph.D., “and from miles and miles away, two herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost ‘funereal’ procession to make a call on the bereaved family at the deceased man’s home.”

Read the whole story here: http://delightmakers.com/news/wild-elephants-gather-inexplicably-mourn-death-of-elephant-whisperer/

This amazing story of Mr. Anthony who authored “The Animal Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild” http://www.amazon.com/The-Elephant-Whisperer-Life-African/dp/031256578X reminded me of an experience I had when I was in Thailand a year ago February. I had the opportunity to visit The Elephant Nature Park http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/ founded by Sangduen Chailert (Lek).

I was fortunate to visit on a day that Lek was lecturing to her volunteers, so I got to hear her personally introduce the film about the Park. A warning precedes the film, cautioning audience members who might be sensitive to violence. I happen to be very sensitive to violent images and often can’t sleep if I see a film or read a story that disturbs me before bed – but I decided to take a chance and stay to watch the film anyway in order to learn.

I had spent the day in the hot sun bathing and feeding elephants Lek had saved. I’d waded into the muddy creek and balanced on the stones – throwing pail after pail of water over them, getting soaked from their sprays, and walked with them back to their feeding area.

With my elephant friend at The Elephant Park in in Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand

I’d fed them pounds upon pounds of fresh vegetables from enormous bowls – entire squashes, halved melons, heads of lettuce –  all in huge quantities – carefully holding each piece so the elephant could grasp the food with its trunk or placing a large chunk directly into the animal’s mouth.

An Elephants’ Tooth – photo Judith Z. Miller (c) 2011

In addition to information about the Park’s history and images of the elephants living there, the film also described and showed, in gruesome detail, tortures some of the elephants had to endure.

At one point the film showed images of a wild elephant being tortured into submission for days and days on end so that it would agree to work. Lek was there, powerless by law to take any action, present only so that she could treat its wounds and nurse the beast back to health after its weeklong ordeal was over.

I won’t go into detail here because the description what happened is so horrifying. Suffice it to say that I had never seen or heard of anything like this before.

After seeing the film, I was overwhelmed with grief and compassion for the animals, and I wanted to say a personal thank you to Lek. So I asked a staff member where she might be, and he pointed me towards a corral not far away.

I walked down the dirt and stone path to the corral and looked through the thin wire fence that separated me from the elephants. I looked closely, and there was Lek, just a few feet away from me – a tiny thin woman, sandwiched between several massive beasts, quietly humming a tune.

She was underneath the belly of a “baby” elephant – a massive creature – reaching her arm around to the front to stroke it’s trunk.

As Lek held the elephants’ trunk, she hummed.

She hummed the same tune over and over, and as I stood there silently listening, I could swear I heard Lek humming the chorus to a tune Doris Day made famous, “Que Sera Sera Whatever will be will be,” over and over again into the baby elephant’s ear.

Que Sera Sera
Whatever will be will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que Sera Sera
What will be will be
Que Sera Sera

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZbKHDPPrrc

How this tune, written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and first published in the United States in 1956, had made it’s way half way around the world to The Elephant Park in Chiang Mai province in Northern Thailand in 2011 and out of Lek’s mouth, I’ll never know –  But the elephant seemed mesmerized.

While she hummed, the beast picked up his massive leg and placed its enormous foot directly on the back of Lek’s spine. There the elephant stood, gently swaying to the music, with his leg, weighing at least several hundred pounds, gently poised in the air, resting on precariously on Lek’s back.

I couldn’t help but think that one small shift of the elephants’ balance, and Lek’s back would have surely snapped in two. Yet instead of an air of apprehension, there was tenderness and exquisite trust.

I was bearing witness to the sweetest bond between human and animal I had ever seen.

I stood silently spellbound, listening to Lek humming.

Eventually, I realized it was time for my group to leave the Park. I hadn’t said goodbye or thank you. But I knew in my heart that my thank you would have been just another human voice, one among the many who were moved by what Lek had accomplished for her wonderful elephant friends.

I knew my words could never compare to the tenderness of that moment  – that sweet bond of trust between Lek and the baby elephant she’d saved.

A big wet sloppy kiss!

Judith Z. Miller

Artist Soul Speaks

(c) May 15, 2012

Posted in Animals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sweetest Song

The Sweetest Song Performers, with Kay Turner and Ethel Raim

This past Saturday afternoon, a capacity audience enthusiastically welcomed the Brooklyn Arts Council’s HALF THE SKY Festival: “The Sweetest Song: Women’s Traditional Song Sampler.”

http://www.brooklynartscouncil.org/documents/1928

And what a sweet and soulful songfest it was!

BAC’s events, expertly curated by Folk Arts Direct Kay Turner, are always a vibrant trip through the incredible diversity that is our beloved Borough of Brooklyn.

Kay Turner, BAC Folk Arts Director, receiving a much deserved hug.

Saturdays’ all-women’s a cappella vocal concert

http://www.brooklynartscouncil.org/documents/233/.

was emceed by noted singer and folk music scholar Ethel Raim, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (DTMD), one of the nation’s preeminent traditional arts organizations serving New York City for the past four decades.

Ethel Raim

The concert included love songs, wedding songs and lullabies – indigenous and folksongs – Balkan, Taino/Dominican, Jewish Yemeni, Yiddish (Jewish), Hindu, Indian and Palestinian music – all sung beautifully by American and foreign born women; artists, mothers, daughters – who in addition to being active members of their communities, devote their lives to learning and preserving their traditions. And we lucky New Yorkers had the pleasure of experiencing a nutritious taste of the beauty and depth of their cultures.

The receptive audience at the Brooklyn Central Library’s Stevan A. Dweck Center 

 http://www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/locations/central

was focused and especially attentive, in part because we shared the excitement of a live recording – but much more so because each one of the singers grabbed us by our kishkas (guts) with her passion and authenticity.

As you can see from my photos, performers in the afternoon event donned brightly colored, often traditional, garb – which pleased the eye (and inspired me to rush home after the concert to add even more beads and creative style to my colorfully wrapped hairdo).

Appearances aside, it was each performers passionate dedication to her particular culture that came through and affected me profoundly.

Bringing us Balkan Song, Eva Salina Primack the first performer, set the tone of intensity for the afternoon, singing two Bulgarian tunes, immediately plunging the audience into the group-felt realization that we were indeed collectively involved in a deep and meaningful cultural experience.

Eva Salina Primack

I could feel Taino/Dominican singer, storyteller and folk music collector Irka Mateo’s determination and strength as her powerful voice literally vibrated through her small frame and out into the capacity filled auditorium. Irka performed a popular religious song – a mix of Catholic and West African Traditions – accompanying herself on the Balsie, a drum that women play. The other song was a work song performed a cappella sung by women in Agricultural endeavors.

Irka Mateo

Muna Abdelaziz from El Bireh Palestine and her accompanist sang zeffah – a procession of singing, clapping, percussion and sometimes dance, which traditionally accompanies a bride from her house to that of the groom and on to the festive wedding party.

As the audience joined in the hand clapping, there came a point where we wondered if the song was going to end … but it went on and on and on … and, there came a moment where something shifted. The energy in the air changed – there was laughter – a transformation in group-consciousness.

We began to get a sense of what it would be like to be there in that procession, where time slows down to the “now” of experience and we were freed to truly participate – handclapping and joyous laughter filled the air as we imagined ourselves walking, dancing and clapping as celebrants.

When I heard Muna Abdelaziz sing the low-slow field work song – I couldn’t help but wonder and marvel at what it would be like to live in a culture where I actually sang while I worked – how different from NYC life that life would be!

Muna Abdelaziz with her accompanist

Shoshana Tubi accompanied herself a frame drum, with her daughter playing the tin plate, alternately slapped with her hand and tapped with a spoon. Sounds as familiar as my pots and pans clanking together in my kitchen.

Shoshana Tubi with her daughter.

Of course, during the lullabies there was no need to understand words. It was easy to slip into the soft, soothing care of mothers’ voice singing across cultures to their beloved babies, rocking them gently to sleep.

The Yiddish lullaby sun by Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel was a fun, upbeat tune accompanied with pantomime to illustrate areas of the babies’ body.  I recognized only a few words, including “kepeleh” (head). But the sound of that single word sent me flying back in time to my own mother’s soothing.

Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel

My mother would hold me when I was injured and with a sing-song rocking motion, she’d intone: “bubeleh shayna, my zeesa tayda, my little shayna medela – She has a pain, she has a pain in her poor little kepeleh.” (Little grandmother or little doll, beautiful girl, sweet thank you, or gift – she has a pain in her head.”) Substituting the proper injured body part to fit the my bump or bruise.

When I grew older, I sang that song again and again to my lovers, drawing out the Yiddish words and exaggerating them, making up my own sing-song melody.

Shobhana Ram and her aunt Rajalakshmi Shankar along with their violin accompanist performed traditional indian devotional songs in praise of the Mother Goddess, Devi

For those of you who regret missing a wonderful afternoon, never fear – lovers of beautiful heartfelt, traditional music – music that is grounded in the earth and the heart – the “BAC HALF THE SKY – Brooklyn Women in Traditional performance Festival” continues, thankfully, into the second week of June.

For future attendees and for those women in the Sweetest Song audience who wished we’d all gotten up out of our auditorium seats and on our feet to dance in the wedding procession, be forewarned – the closing party will be Bachelorette Bash!

Hosted by Ayla Bakkalli the Bachelorette Bash will take place on Sunday, June 10, 2:30 – 5 pm. It’s a party and workshop for women that will explore wedding traditions practiced by various immigrant cultures in Brooklyn.

The evening will include learning about wedding arts such as Guyanese kweh-kweh songs and marital instruction with Rose October and Verna Walcott-White, Yemeni wedding songs with Shoshana Tubi, Algerian wedding dress traditions with Naima Ammi and Crimean Tatar songs and comedic pre-wedding skits with Uriye Kermencikli and her daughter Dinara. Henna artists Omneah Hamdi and Suhair Mohammed will create designs for participants, and wedding food specialties will be served.

I’m sure if the energy is right and the audience is ready – we’ll get up and dance – I know I will! So I urge you to come and join in!

The Brooklyn Arts Councils Traditional Arts program provides an incredible opportunity for New Yorkers to witness and intimately interact with a variety of cultures. We have a unique opportunity to experience celebratory rituals, haunting melodies, complex polyrhythms, and inspiring words. And most importantly – to learn from and celebrate with our fellow and sister Brooklynites.

By attending these BAC sponsored events, we have the unique opportunity to feel the women of the worlds’ cultural offerings in our very bones.  BAC presents the beauty, the struggle, the daily lives of those cultures that surround us interpreted by the strong women at the center who dedicate themselves to preserving what is essential to their identities. This is the tapestry that makes Brooklyn such a fascinating and vibrant place to live – brought to us by the Brooklyn Arts Council for our education, connection and enjoyment.

All who appreciate the traditional arts, and those interested in experiencing a true multi-cultural sampling of worldwide women’s culture, check this festival out!  I’m sure that the HALF THE SKY FESTIVAL will continue to be a fascinating beautiful and rewarding experience!

http://www.brooklynartscouncil.org/documents/1880

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150853363967125.474813.769307124&type=3

And as an added attraction – all BAC Festival events are free or very low-cost … We’ve really no excuse to miss these great offerings … I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Irka Mateo holding the “balsie” (hand drum) with Judith Z. Miller

Judith Z. Miller

Artist Soul Speaks

Posted in Music, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Cleaning for Passover – Or Why My Mother is Not Turning Over in Her Grave

"Holyland" brand matzah, machine-mad...

"Holyland" brand matzah, machine-made in Jerusalem and purchased at Trader Joes in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not a religious Jew. But that hasn’t stopped me.  For the past 48 hours I’ve been cleaning like a wild woman for Passover.

I won’t do it as well as my mother did – you could literally eat off her floors. I won’t pay attention to every prescription, like boiling every utensil that the prohibited food could have possibly touched, or as my final gesture, collecting the last few morsels of Chemetz (any food that swells) by brushing the crumbs up with a feather.

But nevertheless, I’m doing my cleaning in a BIG way.

A number of years ago I found myself cleaning like a madwoman right around this time of year. I didn’t realize why I felt that compulsion. It wasn’t just “Spring Cleaning” – it was coming from an inner drive propelled by some unspoken force.

I finally realized that my mother cleaned like crazy every year and that it had to do with Passover. My following suit was almost instinctive – as if the urge to purge was in my genes.

Our goal of course is to rid our homes of “Chemetz” – any food that expands, such as rice or pasta or anything that isn’t made of matzo (unleavened bread). We eat matzo in commemoration of the Hebrews Exodus from Egypt (termed mitzryhim or “the narrow place”) to liberation.

The story tells us that the followers of Moses were in such a big rush that they didn’t even have time to let their bread rise – hence eating Motzha for the entirety of the holiday which lasts 8 days and often leads to much gastric distress.

This purging of Chemetz and the rigorous cleaning of anything that might have been in contact with it, goes way beyond the physical, and has, as do most religious activities, a deeper spiritual message.

During the cleaning and the consuming of matzo, we are to rid ourselves of anything that inflates, such as pride or boasting – anything that stands in the way of our being completely humble.

So as my back feels like it about to break and I’ve slept only two 4-hour shifts in two days, I try to remind myself of the deeper meaning – the experience of being simple, humble and how emptying all the things I do to “puff myself up” can make space for the Holy.

This effort wasn’t so easy.  It was 2 o’clock in the morning and I was throwing away some old quinoa, a very tiny grain-like food that expands like rice. I poured it into a garbage bag that unfortunately had a hole at the bottom, and of course before I could do anything, thousands of tiny brown cylindrical projectiles poured out, bounced and rolled all over my stove, the kitchen floor, under every chair and between the oven and the sink.

Literally faint with exhaustion, I cursed the whole concept of cleaning and humility while wondering why they didn’t name the holiday “passed out” rather than Passover.”

It was, while hunting down every last practically invisible ball of quinoa, when I reminded myself that I had made a choice – I had made a commitment to do the action because ultimately I want to experience the holiday from a humble place, a deeper place – and – there was no reason to do the action unless I remembered precisely then – at the most difficult and aggravating of times –WHY I was doing it in the first place.

What, I asked myself, did it mean to perform an action truly in the service of purification? When I had that thought, cleaning up the mess took on a whole new and deeply resonant meaning.

Thus far I’ve cleaned the refrigerator and the shelves and pantry and, the utensils, vacuumed and washed all the floors and cleaned almost everything I can think of that has touched the forbidden foods. I’ve still got the pots and pans to go, and the oven, and my desk where I sit typing now and frequently eat sandwiches

… Oh no, LOOK – hidden the mouse pad – breadcrumbs!

The tasks seem daunting to me. I can barely imagine what more religious people (mostly women) do – such as boiling all their dishes, and even putting aluminum foil on refrigerator shelves and countertops to separate the Kosher for Passover food from those surfaces, even though they’ve been cleaned specially for the holiday.

And even though those who keep kosher use two different sets of dishes for milk or meat – they must have a completely different set of dishes for Passover. OY!  Those women, most of whom have many children to care for, also have to plan and prepare the food for the special meal and the soecual ritual foods for the Seder plate – and clean up again afterwards. And they have several Seders, not just one.

So I have it easy. Tomorrow all I have to do is finish up a few more Chemetz filled areas and go to the Food Coop to pick up some kosher for Passover canned macaroons, along with some fresh asparagus and Portobello mushrooms to cook for my friends’ Seders.

Today when I shared what I was doing with a client, I talked about how intense the experience is and I told him about the aluminum foil. He suggested a cartoon of G-d with a muscled arm, seated on “His” throne on high, extending a box of Reynolds Aluminum foil to the ancients. “And Let There Be Aluminum Foil for your Refrigerators!” the almighty would proclaim in a deep and resonant voice.

Finally yesterday I threw out the old spices that had lost all of their potency years ago but survived through years of previous Passover purges. For some reason this year I was finally able to let go and made way for fresh ones.

The vibrant and contrasting colors of the fresh orange cayenne pepper, sandy-brown coriander and yellow ginger lay piled on my wooden table, colorfully overflowing from their bags as I filled the just-cleaned glass jars. Their spicy vibrancy filled me with humble thoughts of beauty and simplicity and how the mindful action of letting go can create both internal and external change.

My apartment is still a cluttered mess as I’m as far from Zen as one can be, and I’m sure there is Chemetz lurking somewhere in the corners. But even if I don’t do it perfectly, I feel a sense of cleanliness and inner calm, knowing that in my own way I am clearing out and entering this Holy time anew.

My mother, I’m quite sure, would not approve of many things I do in life. But at least I can say to her now: “Mama, yes, I’m cleaning for Passover – I’m doing my job, don’t worry!”

May she Rest In Peace.

I wish a happy and sweet Passover to all who celebrate – and to everyone, may each of us be reminded that true liberation comes from a humble place and the doing of simple, mindful, actions.

Judith Z. Miller

Artist Soul Speaks

Posted in Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

As Lovely As Rain

As Lovely as Rain

Sweet sound

each gentle droplet
a snowflake’s dream
and destiny

As Lovely as Rain
Refrigerator, quiet
no hum opaque’s
the Sound

As Lovely as Rain
Tinkling on tin
Colliding off gutters

Ions pulsing
Pounding
Spiraling, whirling up tall buildings
Shooting out to the sky

Ions?

Whirling?

I stop.

I must be crazy!
Sitting here,
listening

INSIDE! …

The RAIN is calling!

What’s more important, I wondered:
Poetry
or Life?

Compelled off my chair
by forces unseen

Rush out
Opening wide the door

Cooling ions rush my face
with equal desire
Concealed in a soft spray

I stand
arched
Chest, Heart open
Eyes skyward
Goddess droplets
lightly
caressing skin

As Lovely as Rain
on my face
in the City

I find the silence between
the garbage truck , screeching
The bus humming …
Others rushing by with black umbrellas

I find silver droplets

listen to their musical sound

Nostrils full, damp
with rain

I soak
myself
Clean

Breathe Life

As Lovely as Rain

(c) Judith Z. Miller, March 31, 2012

Artist Soul Speaks

(c) Judith Z. Miller, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, March 2012

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