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Welcome to Ask Gail – a place to share questions and answers about what matters to us most: family, friends, community, health, peace, books, favorite resources, what feeds our soul… Ask Gail is also where we can create and share very important information like “Gail’s Guide to Going to the Hospital” and “Gail’s Storm Checklist.” Stay tuned for more…

 

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November Wind

Posted By Gail Ostrow on November 23rd, 2014

2007-leaves

This is the wind that
strips the trees naked
baring their outlines
to the coming winter.

This is the wind that
shreds the leaves
blowing branches and
garbage can lids
down the street
clanging against
car doors and stoops.

This is the wind that
rips the clappers
from the wind chimes
and tears my Peace flag
from the back porch
bending every growing thing over
and sending all that’s left of summer
careening around the yard
with the lawn chairs.

Gratitude Meditation for Thanksgiving

Posted By Gail Ostrow on November 22nd, 2014

Begin by feeling how year after year you have done your best to care for your own life. Then begin to acknowledge all that has supported you in this care:

“With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life everyday.

With gratitude I remember the care and labor of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.

I offer my gratitude for the safety and well-being I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the blessings of this earth I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the measure of health I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the family and friends I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the community I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the teachings and lessons I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the life I have been given.”

Jack Kornfield

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L’Shana Tova

Posted By Gail Ostrow on September 24th, 2014

It is September, a time of harvest and a turning from summer to fall.  Vacations are mostly  over, the children are back in school, and the promise of time off and trips away fades into memories and photographs.  It is also the  month of Elul, a time of reflection and repentance, which prepares us for Rosh Ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, and the new year.

I love this time of year: the change from hot to cooler, the fresh breezes, the changing light, the bountiful harvest from the garden.  And I always loved going back to school—I still do.  The new binder, paper, markers, books—the look and feel of possibility, of new beginnings.  I also love the heightened sense of the holidays approaching.

And yet, even as the season changes and my spirit calls me to reflect and repent, I am struck by how “stuck” I am in my old patterns of behavior, thinking, and feeling, and expectations both of myself and of others.   Still walking down the same street and falling in the same holes, and only sometimes getting out before I do too much damage.

So, once again, I prepare to let go of that which does not serve me or others but to which I am wedded, either by fear or habit or ignorance.   I think about who I have harmed this past year.   Am I truly sorry?  Is it time to make amends?  And what about forgiveness?  Am I ready to forgive myself and others for our human weaknesses?

The High Holy Days are a sacred pause—a time to make public what each of us faces every day in our interactions with others.  We hurt and are hurt.  We are all wounded.  We are all in need of forgiveness.   In the spirit of Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur, I seek to forgive and be forgiven.   The Talmud teaches us that every minute we begin again.  Let us begin.

Kaddish for Mom

Posted By Gail Ostrow on February 7th, 2014

shiva-candle copyMy mother died and I am so surprised
that I am so surprised.
This singular event like no other,
except perhaps my own death or the death
of my children or grandchildren.

Mom’s shiva candle will go out tonight.
Seven days since she died.
Where to put her picture?
It doesn’t matter, nothing does,
except that Dad died and then Mom died
and I am no longer a daughter
of anyone in this world.

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Survivors…a dance by Kayla Kuzniewski

Posted By Gail Ostrow on February 6th, 2014

Kayla choreographed and danced this piece as her final memorial project for our Literature of the Holocaust class Fall ’13.  She has been dancing with this group for over 10 years.  It is a powerful and moving piece.  Please feel free to pass it on.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.com

The Buddha in the Snow

Posted By Gail Ostrow on February 5th, 2014

2007-winter-buddhaHis eyes and lips shut
as if in soundless sleep
silent as the snow
that embroiders the old oak leaves
covering the ground
and spreads a cloth across his lap
as he cradles a nest of frost
as if fledglings lie beneath
protected from the cold
protected by the unheard hum of Om
and the strength of his presence
beyond the permanence of stone.

by Janet Krauss

 

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Happy Hanukkah

Posted By Gail Ostrow on November 27th, 2013

May the holiday lights remind us to be a light unto others.

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L’Shana Tova

Posted By Gail Ostrow on September 5th, 2013

It is September, a time of harvest and a turning from summer to fall.  Vacations are mostly  over, the children are back in school, and the promise of time off and trips away fades into memories and photographs.  It is also the  month of Elul, a time of reflection and repentance, which prepares us for Rosh Ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, and the new year.

I love this time of year: the change from hot to cooler, the fresh breezes, the changing light, the bountiful harvest from the garden.  And I always loved going back to school—I still do.  The new binder, paper, markers, books—the look and feel of possibility, of new beginnings.  I also love the heightened sense of the holidays approaching.

And yet, even as the season changes and my spirit calls me to reflect and repent, I am struck by how “stuck” I am in my old patterns of behavior, thinking, and feeling, and expectations both of myself and of others.   Still walking down the same street and falling in the same holes, and only sometimes getting out before I do too much damage.

So, once again, I prepare to let go of that which does not serve me or others but to which I am wedded, either by fear or habit or ignorance.   I think about who I have harmed this past year.   Am I truly sorry?  Is it time to make amends?  And what about forgiveness?  Am I ready to forgive myself and others for our human weaknesses?

The High Holy Days are a sacred pause—a time to make public what each of us faces every day in our interactions with others.  We hurt and are hurt.  We are all wounded.  We are all in need of forgiveness.   In the spirit of Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur, I seek to forgive and be forgiven.   The Talmud teaches us that every minute we begin again.  Let us begin.

a found poem from Enders Island: “on the water”

Posted By Gail Ostrow on April 14th, 2013

Before I went on the water,

I lived on concrete, a tree here and there,

a field of poppies behind our house that

mysteriously appeared every spring and

was burned off in summer, spreading its

musky euphoria through the neighborhood.

I understood only this about nature:

it was either day or night, raining or not.

After I went on the water,

I felt the nuance of every breeze,

how moist or dry it was, how cool or hot.

I tuned my self to the tides,

and saw how the water moved in and out and up and down.

I slept, rolling on the waves, moving in my dreams back to the womb,

feeling water all around me, holding me, soothing me,

sending me for my swim upstream into life.

What is and what was…

Posted By Gail Ostrow on January 11th, 2013

Dark Charms by Dorianne Laux

Eventually the future shows up everywhere:
those burly summers and unslept nights in deep
lines and dark splotches, thinning skin.
Here’s the corner store grown to a condo,
the bike reduced to one spinning wheel,
the ghost of a dog that used to be, her trail
no longer trodden, just a dip in the weeds.
The clear water we drank as thirsty children
still runs through our veins. Stars we saw then
we still see now, only fewer, dimmer, less often.
The old tunes play and continue to move us
in spite of our learning, the wraith of romance,
lost innocence, literature, the death of the poets.
We continue to speak, if only in whispers,
to something inside us that longs to be named.
We name it the past and drag it behind us,
bag like a lung filled with shadow and song,
dreams of running, the keys to lost names

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