PA Ballet Company – Snow Scene, Nutcracker circa 1985
Dear Friends and Family,
I hope this email finds you safe and well, and finding ways to enjoy the Winter holiday season even as this persistent pandemic continues to spread here and abroad. With every U.S. State a red zone now, except for Hawaii (who else is having fantasies about moving to Honolulu or the Big Island?), stay at home restrictions are increasing once again as they initially had back in March of this year. Nine months into the pandemic and we are officially into the “second wave” which scientists had indeed predicted would be worse than the “first wave.” Maybe we had been naive to think they were wrong in their predictions, and the Summer re-openings (albeit in limited ways), had felt so freeing after the many months of last Winter – Spring’s shutdowns and stay at home orders. And so it feels like we are going backwards to a certain extent, even as the vaccine is being distributed to first responders this week. December is historically the month of festivities, parties, family gatherings, in-person gift giving, and for many of us enjoying The Nutcracker Ballet at Lincoln Center and Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s Winter Season at NYC’s City Center. But with theaters still shuttered and indoor dining closing, this holiday season will be like no other we have experienced. I have found myself to be more melancholy this month than any other time since the pandemic started. This melancholy stems from an internal resistance to the sad reality of our current situation – the knowledge of the too many lives lost to the disease, the jobs permanently lost and shuttered storefronts that may never return, the forced inability to entertain holiday guests and enjoy festive nights out on the town.
Yet, as I study yoga philosophy and other spiritual traditions, I realize that I must embrace reality and accept it rather than fighting against it. This does not mean we are passive and non-active; certainly, we can do our best and act in many ways to reduce virus transmission and offer assistance to those in need, such as contributing to worthy nonprofits, purchasing gift cards to local stores and restaurants to help them stay afloat, donating to food pantries and clothing drives, for example. This acceptance of the new reality places us directly in the present moment. Daydreaming wistfully for a holiday season of past years – as I have observed myself doing – is wishful thinking and sets us up for disappointment in the present. So we accept and adapt, and as a result, we likely all will be having a more internally based experience of the holidays and Winter season. Perhaps this is the opportunity to truly “nest” in our homes – to read those books on our book shelves long calling our attention, to nap on our sofas under a comfy blanket without feeling guilty, learn new skills or find new hobbies, expand our creativity with artwork, journaling, and cooking, and of course to try different forms of the healing arts such as yoga, qigong, mindful dance, and meditation. Many animals hibernate in the Winter months, but for humans the demands of conforming to a modern lifestyle have generally prevented us from changing our patterns according to the seasonal changes. But this Winter, the universal message for humanity is to hibernate at home, and perhaps enjoy the above-mentioned activities. But it can also be a unique opportunity to spend more time going inward in self-reflection, listening to one’s inner voice in silence, to be with what is without resistance, and deepening our understanding of ourselves without the many distractions of the outside world. If we envision the entire planet slowing down in peacefulness during the December holidays, hopefully by Spring we can reawaken to a new and improved era as we leave our hibernation dens and join together once again.
|Photo by Peggy Liebowitz|
One of the many ways I enjoy giving back to our community is to “adopt” a couple NYC street trees by taking care of the trees and cleaning and planting in their tree beds. For this holiday season, I thank the local Christmas tree vendors and Plant Shed on West 96th Street for their donation of extra branches that I used to decorate the beds and protect the soil from Winter wind erosion. It looks beautiful for the community and nourishes the trees as well! (You can read more about my volunteer community work at http://www.west80s.org & http://www.loveyourstreettreeday.com ).
|My advocacy volunteer work with Stop the Chop Another recent volunteer activity I have embarked on is the leadership of a nonprofit formed to eliminate nonessential helicopters over NYC and the NY Metropolitan area. These loud, low-flying tourist and commuter choppers have been increasingly disturbing residents (including myself) in their homes, in our public parks, and along the waterways – all areas that should be peaceful respites from the busy urban streets. These needless flights create stress-full conditions for so many, negatively impact our quality of life, place our lives and buildings at risk, contribute to air pollution, and decrease our ability to enjoy in quiet our public spaces created for recreation and rest, such as NYC’s Central Park. |
Please join my group’s efforts to support the Congressional bill to ban said helicopters as introduced by our local Congressmembers including Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler, and Nydia Velasquez, among others: sign our petition, sign up for our email newsletter, and if you can afford to please make a tax-deductible donation at http://www.stopthechopnynj.org
Thanks for helping us create a more peaceful city!
Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and peaceful holiday season!!!!