baring all!

picture by eric stone

what's your most memorable moment from a trip?

when i'm asked to sink deep into my memories of israel, two things happen. immediately my body takes on a different feel. i am full and very sensitive... and then i see a rainbow....

shall we take another dip into my journal...from time in israel...

"the most moving moment for me and the fullest understanding of israeli life that i embody right now is of the juxtaposition of life's extremes. consistant travel amongst such extremes creates a very condensed embodiment (today's word!).

i'll start with the story. our afternoon was spent listening to the story of gavriel and his mother. he was murdered at his school by an arab gunman. he was a very ambitious youth who was committed to studying, being of service, living selflessly, always striving to grow and be his fullest self. his mother had been working with arabs in some way prior to his death. he was murdered less than a year ago and she sat with 30 of us and shared his life... as he was during his waking years and as he inspires and influences after his death. she sees that there is some greater plan and for gavriel to die, she must continue the work he began.

we came home to hear of a suicide bombing on a tel aviv bus. then it was time for dinner. at dinner, eran, a soldier stood up to share his thoughts: he heard of the bombing and then wondered what we would eat for dinner. sitting amongst a room full of americans, however, he noticed the hardening of himself-- and wondered: how it must look to those people? that i think so little of such a horrible act? because of the circumstances and the reality of life, however, he said that it is difficult to be effected by such news. unfortunately it has become so common. and it is imperative to not give in and to keep on living.

later that night, as my eyes were ready to sleep, conversation between he and i and dana, another soldier, explored more of the perspective on "the situation", on the strength of their army, on... and how since the intifada, belief in and hope for peace has dwindled. compassion for palestenians is scarce... (what went unsaid but could be felt so fully was... there is death everywhere)

the next morning we awake to learn that of the 4 killed is one of nirit's friends. it hits home. this attack that occurs during our visit has direct connection to us. i am sitting and feeling the impact of this pain. the depth of my sorrow. and imagining -- such a depth as being commonplace -- a part of the ordinary. the room is heavy... and then we are invited into another realm.

the most amazing rainbow beckons us outside. a full arch. the air is speckled and misty. the green mountains lie just beyond this archway of color - splendor. to me the rainbow appears as a gateway-- the pain and sorrow inside the room behind me, divine beauty before me. the land and the rainbow lure me into the magical world of amazement... and my heart rests open. my soul passes through the gateway embraced by the colors of the rainbow. and the colors of this particular rainbow were so rich. often that violet is difficult for me to see. it's magic is faint and subtle. but on this day -- all light was present.

and then i was told that rainbows are a bridge connecting earth to the heavens. later someone said the torah says that rainbows remind man of god's promise not to inflict another flood upon the humans. however, if he presents a rainbow, it means they have done something he does not approve of.

and for me. the rainbow is a stamp of divine presence, a reminder of the magic of life, an invitation into the realm of nature, a bath of color in which to cleanse, nourish, refuel.

and so on this day in israel... the intensity of extremities, the juxtaposition of close neighbors, the reality of immense pain and radiant joy swirled amongst one another. it is this dance--not a fluid latin dance, but a choppy jagged pulse that seems to be reality here. from a moment to moment basis. on an individual level up through the collective, social, cultural world. one minute the beauty of the sea, the intellectual and emotional candy of good conversation and the next minute, fear of a missing (dead) child. (remember: these are the words we don't say)

and so i wonder about this condensed feeling i feel. the world is not safe here. to be totally open is quite dangerous/destructive. and so the spectrum, from end to end, must be tightly packed into the consciousness. all extremes easily accessible -- available.

and so lives this warm, welcoming, inviting, inspirational, courageous people -- guarded, protected, quick to respond, without boundaries, aggressive, intense.

from this stock i come! so naturally, so innocently, so really!"
posted by ashley



i'm not able to give attention to these questions at the moment, but i know there are some other readers of this site who might feel inclined to respond.

from "ms. magazine's "women of the year" edition... the saddest one was a 23 year old who stood in the way of an israeli tank when she was trying to stop it from demolishing palestinian settlements. the tank ran her right over... why is there such hate in this world? ash, did you see evidence of this while in israel? what did it look like? if this topic is too sensitive for you, you don't have to answer it."
posted by ashley



a couple odd "facts" noted in my psychopathology class:

~ the time period in the united states history in which there were the most drug addicts was immediately following the civil war. this country was filled with morphine addicts.

~ research has found (as other research has argued against) that a significant number of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia are born in january, february, march and early april. (fascinating that people think to research month of birth?)

posted by ashley


subtle blessings

a wish from my friend, andrea browning:

"happy monday. may this week be full of subtle blessings."

of course, if you feel like sharing one of those subtle blessings in the comment box below it will be read with eager eyes. the blessing extends that much further when you share it with others. i used to be self-conscious about sharing such blessings. i thought that i was bragging or rubbing in my good fortune. but in reality, i was just really excited about one of the amazing things that happened in my day and thought that others would benefit from and share in the excitement....

nowadays i'm all about sharing those blessings. like how cool it is that i can ramble about my own issues on this website and think that others might actually care to read about the lessons that i've learned (and laugh out loud knowing that if they don't care...they won't be reading!!!).
posted by ashley


Face to Face

my friend, jake stewart, sent these words to me. i share them with you:

"I know soldier deaths have become 'back page news' in many papers across the country.... but seeing these 600 young faces serves as a stark reminder to the growing human cost of this politically driven campaign. Although the Whitehouse won't release the official wounded soldier numbers, it is estimated to total upwards of 10,000. Something to keep in mind as D.C. attempts to quietly re-label the motives for this conflict as 'Humanitarian'.

U.S. & Coalition/Casualties

Make sure to hit the 'NEXT' button when you get to the bottom of page one....


posted by ashley

want a laugh?

hi :) my name is mosh...and i have never posted on a blog before...but i really like how that word, "blog," sounds...so i think i'll give it a try. if any of you have a free second (and can play your computer speakers loud and laugh a lot) you should check out the web site www.rathergood.com. i especially recommend the orangutan ballad and the "we like the moon" song.

my love to cyberland...and especially to the beautiful woman in flight who created this bloggy space for all of us to share (can "bloggy" be an adjective?)

posted by Michele


Sweet Honey in the Rock

last night i experienced the presence of an amazing group of women, Sweet Honey in the Rock. the music filled the auditorium, chills were sent running through my body countless times, and a peaceful, appreciative smile rarely left my face. there are still many stops on their tour...i highly recommend enjoying their company.

" One of the world’s premiere a cappella vocal ensembles, she comes singing songs that effortlessly and masterfully address life’s most critical human activities: education, economics, labor, love, spirituality, politics, and war; songs that articulate our most pressing issues: a clear voice for the oppressed, a clarion call for a depleted environment and eroding civil liberties; songs that preserve, extend and bridge the distance between the traditional calls, chants, shouts, work songs, spirituals, long meter hymns and gospels of her ancestors, and the blues, jazz, R & B, reggae, and hip-hop of today’s ever-changing world."
posted by ashley

reading pleasures

what reading material is at your bedside table, desk, or next to your toilet?
posted by ashley


final poem

our trip to israel is far from being a finished topic!

allow wonder-woman sarah kadis to paint a picture of our experience with the fly poem that she threw together on the last night...

"It started way back in NYC
When we didn’t know we were going to make Livnot history
We were greeted with pastry it was plain to see
That every blessed moment of this trip, food it would be

We started off with the Old City Jerusalem and a trip to the wall
Followed up by personal challenge we were provoked through the tunnels and caves we would crawl
We were shown the land, the people and the amazing past
As we drove over hills we were wondering how to make all this last

As the days continued on, tired and weary we drew
But the spirit, emotions and humor never went blue
At first we all thought a 4:00 am hike was insane
But as we climbed the mountain with the sunset on our backs, we all knew why we came

The memories that we made are never going to die
Like when Dan got locked in his room and was left out to dry
Hummus and Pita seem to be the theme of the trip
When you see Josh has invented the “Hummus Shake”, we all will know the kid has surely flipped

The north has shown us all a different side of Jewish life
Between the ancient synagogues, art, Kabbalah and the Jewish people’s strife
As this day nears end we can only look back and smile
Because we know that we will meet up again somewhere, somehow in a short while

Our days here in Israel will forever be engraved in our hearts
Thanks to our fearless leaders with their intuition, intelligence and smarts
We are leaving this trip with a greater sense of who we are
The memories, friends and connections we have made will never drift far

Remember what you have learned in this great land of pride
For that feeling of happiness, joy and love will never subside
Lets keep in touch for years to come
Thank you for 2 amazing weeks of thinking, soul, perseverance and most importantly fun!"

posted by ashley


spiral galaxy NGC4622 osho zen tarot

my amazing friend, becky (rebecca), sent me this link. images in my life often flash in patterns or things that "go together." when i was watching the video at that link, i was immediately struck with the similarity between these two images.
posted by ashley


more on marianne

hey ash,
you know, marianne williamson is the person whose words i adapted for my wedding ceremony. here are some of her words i fell in love with and maybe changed just a little bit...
"So little is held sacred in this world anymore, yet one thing must remain sacred or the whole world disintegrates. That is an agreement between two people...I know that you feel that God has gifted you with this love and indeed he has. At the same time, I remind you that he gives no gift for you alone. Rather, he has brought you together that his purposes shall be accomplished within you. You are not here to escape the world with this love, but to serve it more fully. You have been delivered into each other’s arms and love in order to more fully become the people that you are capable of being. May this marriage deliver you to the fullest magnificence of your own expression that the world might be blessed thereby. And so we pray, may you be joined in the light at the core of your own being, and may you always see the love of God when you look in each other’s eyes."

i had always been afraid of marriage, because i thought i would lose myself and my identity in the process. but now i know better... not all, but better. ;) marianne is so cool.
posted by Rebecca


how do i add a permalink and posted by line? i can't seem to get it right.

many, many thanks :)
posted by ashley

favorite word

what's your favorite word?
posted by ashley



my friend, moriah, sent me this amazing quote by Marianne Williamson. it was quoted by Nelson Mandela during an inauguration speech.

"...Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others..."

i find so much truth in those words. i love the way that wisdom is raining down right now; compare these words with the quote from january 16 by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. it's fascinating to me that we are so afraid of our own light. that we do so much to avoid shining as brightly as we can...

posted by ashley


reading our maps!

there are so many rich conversations taking place at the integral discussion forum, i can't keep up! i've been pondering the road maps that we use as structure to help us grow. throughout our journey, each person seems to collect tools and techniques that are useful to him or her in pushing the growing edge and maneuvering through that place of expanding into something new. for me yoga and awareness of my body have been influential. noticing when i feel uncomfortable and when self-doubt arises. paying attention to the natural world around me is a huge part of my structure. i recently learned of the amazing structure laid out in jewish law, halacha ,for seemingly just this purpose.

at the forum, we are also talking about being dazzled by reality as it unfolds. as i open wider and wider, become more and more vulnerable, begin to listen with every receptor that this body has blessed me with... the more awarenss that i have. current ponderings of mine that i think may illustrate our road map and help illuminate our private guide(s) include these questions:

through what mean(s) do you receive best? (i.e. audial, visual, sensual, etc.)
through what mean(s) is it easiest for you to commune with Spirit?
what makes you lose time (and here i don't mean losing track of time, but actually losing time itself) (this question was adapted from Jack Ricchiuto )?
posted by ashley


soul shining

anne stadler posted this inspiring quote to the OSLIST.

"We have been in training for a dark time such as this... We have a history of being gutted, and yet remember this especially--we have also, of necessity, perfected the knack of resurrection. Over and over again we have been the living proof that that which has been exiled, lost, or foundered can be restored to life again.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, and causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these is to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do."

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves

...what a fun wave to ride, a golden current of illuminated souls.... ahhhhhh!

p.s. this is a great book...if you haven't read it, you can peek at some exert by going here

posted by ashley


small pleasures

i am a big fan of the outdoor shower. there is something about bathing, washing away the layers of a day (couple of days, week, etc!!) in the fresh air of the outdoors. i like some sort of enclosing that allows the hot steam to stay close to me while also enough of an opening to keep the outdoors inside my shower! i must also admit to you one of my biggest addictions: i LOVE hot showers. i'll skip a shower sometimes just so that i'll feel justified in taking a longer one the next day (that's is a partial truth!).
are you getting the picture...me in heaven while enjoying a steamy hot shower with a cool forest breeze enticing the air.

i've never lived some place where i had access to this paradise i've described. but i've found the next best solution. a small window in the shower. i am fortunate to have such a treasure in my current home. this morning i was enchanted by the union at the window of the hot steam from the shower and the cold january air. they tugged and pulled at one another, the steamy cloud blowing out into the morning day. as i dreamily peered out the window, the hot water rushed down my back while the cold crisp air dried my face. for a moment i drifted with the steam...hanging in that union of cold and hot, the binding space where extremities meet.

anyone else got a small pleasure to share?
posted by ashley


lighting the candles...

photograph by blue505

a candle to god

it is said that
the soul of man
is like a candle to god.

and so we light our inner flames,
letting them shine bright
with the light of god.

and the peace within
shining with the light of
the source of all life.

the light of the candles
illuminates the home --
filling it with peace
within the family
and within the soul.

oh-so thankful, we invite.
we breathe in this light of peace--
drawing it deep down into our souls.

and as we exhale,
the light travels out.
it recognizes, harmonizes and unifies
with scattered sparks of holiness
all around the world.

and so in this sacred
our hearts are united,
glowing with the light of god.

photograph by david sheyn
posted by ashley


hee hee hee

some good laughs can be found at threebrain.com (warning: all language is on limits). i particullarly enjoyed the music video here. make sure your volume is on.

i also added a couple other playful links...just let your eyes roam to the right. take a break, play a little, you deserve it! (wink, wink)
posted by ashley


~ f l o w ~

thank you chris weaver for sharing your friend claudia's story, Looking for Shabbat (if you go there, click on touchstones). it's beautiful. i love it!

here's a piece that moved me:

"For 24 hours, one could live as if the world was perfect, taking time to renew and celebrate relationships with God, family and self. I was enthralled by this possibility, and a bit skeptical of it. With so much work left to be done, how could we justify such a lengthy, structured and regular break? Of course, a saner person than I might ask: How can we not?"

it makes me curious...
*what are some practices that other (religions, cultures, individuals, ... ) use to renew and celebrate relationships with God, family and self?
*and why do we work so hard to make sure we don't get those kind of breaks in our lives?

these questions are similar to some asked by my friend, chris corrigan.
he wrote (go here to read the whole thing):

"I think we all have practices that take us to flow states. For some it might be meditation or music or sports. Others might find it in art, writing, reading, walking, cooking...whatever. We all have those practices. It isn't complicated, rather it is as simple as sitting by the river with beer and music and friends and family. If we are lucky, our practices mesh with our lives in a way that our work and time is spent in flow. Most of us I bet don't have that luxury, so we go to work in a bank and then play football after hours.

These practices and flow states are really important, because I believe that being in flow is important for really initiating big change and important work. So I've recently started asking people what their practices are."

i wrote chris asking him if he used any other words to describe flow states? i like claudia's words.

so...anyone want to share some practices used to celebrate relationships with God, family and self?
...or anything else that comes to mind!!

posted by ashley



mosh at masada photographed by Russell Moskowitz.

my mind was once again wondering where to start... Day 6, my most memorable moment, the spirit that russ's picture of mosh captures and embodies for me? and then i went to look for a link to attach to russ's name, a way to give further credit to the photographer. if you haven't clicked on the link you should... reading russ's story, feeling the tears swell in my eyes, i smiled...i am so thankful for the gift of such unique, special, and amazing individuals with whom i've shared these moments.

my favorite excursion was the sunrise hike up har yishai , mt. jesse. (this post becomes more and more syncronistic by the moment). During the hike Michael invited us to enjoy a silent hike, reflecting upon that which we yearn for in our lives, taking time to notice and experience the sun's grand entrance into our day.

"so hiking up to mt. jesse i put my intention into having a spiritual community. it is for a community in which spiritually i may grow and develop with others that i crave--yearn for. beyond setting this intention, it received no further thought. i was in israel...hiking in the desert. walking a top this holy land -- blessed by community and surrounded by divinity. for me, i enjoyed the silence. i noticed the change in my breathing. i yearned at times to stop and rest for a moment, while marveling at that space just on the edge of invigorating endurance and fatigue. i felt the air flow so cleanly in through my nose. i was enchanted by the different sounds our feet made while crunching, knocking, echoing with the rock beneath. and when we stopped. i felt like i was watching a movie! this fantastic screen was spread before me. i felt welcomed. and then scattered amongst the rocks were all of these amazing friends--sharing their insights and contemplations. i felt blessed. community. as people shared their yearnings, i inwardly smiled as i felt the presence of my own."

going back to russ's words, he talks of the many miracles that happen every day. i love being amongst people that take time to notice, appreciate, and give thanks for those small and large miracles. sharing in that joy of being amazed.

while on that hike, inside i felt like that image up above of mosh in the desert.
"the desert in israel. breathing with god. to me, i am closest to god when i enter the sacred space of the land. the barren body of the mother - a physical source through which i may witness the manifestations of life. no confusion of the mind. no influence of intellect, industry. her purity speaks for itself. time and space communicate the tangibility of life lived. the sphere of the earth and the many flavors that decorate its surface -- the infinite pulse that originates at the source and vibrates through the land, through the atmosphere, through you and me into eternity. with the undeniable physical presence, it is easiest for me to commune with, marvel at, relate to, wonder about, understand, feel embraced by divinity. i feel like i am breathing with god -- and through the landscape i get to watch god's breath..."
posted by ashley


here's how it went!

hello from new york! i'm back on american soil and aching to share with you all a taste of my experiences. i'm going to try and take you on a logistical tour, sprinkled with a little ashley-flavor. of course, writings tend to take on a direction of their own so...we'll travel the words together! for anyone reading this that was a part of the trip, PLEASE add your own comments and expand the perspective. i can only share one view...i love to see things through other people's eyes. (and just to note, i haven't read through all of the links...they're just there for those that are interested in learning more of the places i mention.)

Day 1: the airplane took off and landed, everyone clapped. our first destination was the old city of jerusalem. a quick jolt into the land and culture, history and awe of the country that would host us for the next two weeks. my tired and disoriented body first experienced the western wall, cloaked in the darkness of the night. (fyi- the men and women are separated when visiting the wall.)

from my journal: "dovening, chanting, whispers from generations past sprinkling down around me. showering me....
the wall- the kotel- was definitely moving. feeling such an awareness of my ancestry. i was bent over, squatting, my hands and forehead against the wall. it felt like water. the light flickering through to me from the dovening women above me... rhythmically rocking, whispering prayers. it bathed over me. the females of my past sending their spirit like water, protecting me from above. i felt separate below--underneath my shield of confusion and separateness from the judaism...and yet so connected to the ancestry."

i'll go ahead and share that a major intention of this trip was for me to connect my spirituality with Judaism. as you can see from the experiences of my first day. there were some definite barriers with which i needed to deal.

Day 2: crawling through caves used during the Bar-Kokhba Revolt . tightness, claustrophobia, imagining living underground...at the threat of being captured. we entered through a hole in the ground and shimmied our way through the tunnels on all fours and at times sliding on our stomachs. tight spaces opened into huge caves. it was amazing how my body responded to being in such an environment. everything just tightened up and condensed in...like holding my breathe with my whole body, and breathing at the same time.

Day 3: back to the western wall, the kotel, and an incredible tour guided by ester through the tunnels underneath the old city, leading to the western wall. We then explored the old city of Jaffo, next to tel-aviv.

Day 4: we did our first community service work, painting the walls of an old building that is being fixed up and used for a school. then we went to yad-vashem, the holocaust museum. this museum is absolutely amazing. there are different structures, buildings, areas that communicate such a feeling and message in their very composition. i can't really explain it...you'll just have to visit. i returned with my friend sarah after the birthright trip was over and explored more of the incredible exhibits outside and around the museum. the most moving place to me was the children's memorial. here are the words from the official website "Memorial candles, a customary Jewish tradition to remember the dead, are reflected infinitely in a dark and somber space, creating the impression of millions of stars shining in the firmament. The names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin can be heard in the background."

inside the museum we met a man (can someone remind me of his name?) who was a survivor of the holocaust. walking through he showed us pictures of his town, the barrack that he dwelled in while a captive at auschwitz, and shared about how he was getting ready to make his first trip back to his hometown and to Auschwitz since the holocaust... his pride in being able to walk in and walk out on his own accord...alive. he helped so much to put the words and pictures into some sort of a reality. i can still hear him inside my head repeating, "i was only 12 years old. i was still incomplete."
from my journal: "for such trauma to sweep into your life and take hold of you--gripping on for the rest of your life...60 some years later, he still speaks of being incomplete. what strength must be in a people to be able to endure such a harsh, traumatic life/living...such a reality to be theirs....??????"

Day 5: jerusalem time elevator (kindof like a ride). shabbat dinner and a late night of amazing conversations... i'll stop on that note. it must be a given that the entirety of this trip was fueled by nourishing conversations with so many amazing people.
posted by ashley

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