Lise’s Book Is Available!

10 Apr

I’ve wanted to write a book from the time my mother first put one in my hands. What I didn’t realize is that just when you think you’ve written something brilliant, you discover it’s awful or needs serious revisions. So as with knitting, you rip out stitches and try again. And again and again.

Well, the book is finally here!!!!! You can now buy it on Amazon or through the book’s website.  A glimpse of the cover is below:

Own Your life Front Cover

Writing this book has been a process that allowed me to synthesize my thoughts about healing while also reaching out to others. I am grateful to all of you who have influenced this book in some way, shape or form. I hope you enjoy it! If you do, please pass word along about it on your social media platforms of choice, particularly those of you who have many friends and followers. That would mean a great deal as word of mouth is how books gain a reputation. Consider recommending it to your book clubs, social organizations, clients, and friends as well. Happy reading and be sure to OWN YOUR LIFE!

On Aesthetics

2 Jan

The first time I was in Venice I was sixteen years old. While traveling, I had a major crush on the high school water polo who couldn’t give me the time of day. In the end, it was the British tour guide who got my heart despite a ten year age difference between us.

20170101_105634

His influence on my life over a number of years dramatically impacted my intellectual education.

20161231_170719

Yet there comes a time when recognizing beauty becomes in-bred. Your own beauty suddenly radiates from within. There is no longer a need for someone else to draw it out – as lovely as that is….

20170101_104827

It’s the beauty that has always been there waiting for its turn on stage.

20170102_155804

The Italians know that beauty is eternal despite how it alters with time and light.

20170102_153911

15781810_1567264239953675_2101123433754074968_n

Italians also love company. They are always together. You rarely see anyone alone. They find beauty in being together and in being.

20161231_171541

They take their time, no one gets things in to go cups, and everyone drinks lots of wine and coffee.

20161231_171641

Italians also flirt. I was in the company of this man for five minutes and you’d think we were long lost lovers.

img-20161231-wa0000

img-20161231-wa0002

Beauty is important. It’s one of the conduits to heaven and reminds us of the Divine present among us. In drama therapy, we say that the aesthetic choice is usually the more healing one.

Embracing the Mystery

20 Dec

15419645_10154669168570535_8503138224177351587_o

I’m going to be in Venice for New Years. Not Venice, California. Venice, Italy.

When a friend-of-a-friend invited me to stay at her Venice apartment this winter, I was reminded to not turn away the gift horse. As Sheryl Sandburg wrote in her book, Lean In, “When you’re offered a space on a rocket ship, you don’t turn it down.” You jump in no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how inconvenient. The dance doesn’t alway come around again.

Going to Venice is not convenient. It’s sandwiched in-between the holidays, a writing deadline, and a teaching trip in Memphis immediately afterwards. I’ve also been gone for the last two weeks teaching. But when is boarding a rocket ship ever convenient?  You either say, “Carpe Diem!” and do it or you stay safe right where you are, never fully becoming who you meant to become.

I like order and control, particularly as the old year transitions into the new. I like to mastermind my goals and get my ducks in a row. I work on my taxes and await the New Year with quiet respect. I don’t party it up with horns, streamers, and confetti.

In Venice the locals drink champagne in St. Mark’s square. I’ll work on my tip sheet for the publisher while downing a beautiful cappuccino and I’ll map out my goals walking along the canals. But then I’ll drink champagne too, gesticulating like the Italians as we embrace the wild beauty of the night.

On the way out, I’ll pass through NYC where I’ll have an apartment to stay on 5th Ave. near the Met and the Guggenheim thanks to a friend’s sister who is a film producer. They are leaving museum passes on the counter and instructions regarding my stay with the maid. There will be two Parisians there too. Do not turn away the gift horse.

My expenses are maxed out at present but the trip was paid for almost entirely by miles. Do not turn away the gift horse.

I will be tired and jet lagged and discombobulated teaching so soon after it all but this is life. Instead of trying to capture, control, or manipulate the Mystery, we must learn to bow to it. When she beckons, we follow. We do not know where we are going. All we can see is the magic and mist and romance of it all.

*Photo credit – Laura Sousounis

Lost in the Woods?

1 Dec

I’m convinced that the most exciting times in our lives are those in which we don’t know where the hell we are or where we are headed. They are also the most scary because the unknown can make us feel so lost.

100_1345.JPG

Dante wrote, “In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself, in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost. It is a hard thing to speak of, how wild, harsh and impenetrable that wood was, so that thinking of it recreates the fear. It is scarcely less bitter than death: but, in order to tell of the good that I found there, I must tell of the other things I saw there.”

Most of us want order and control in our lives. We want to know how much money is in the bank, who we’ll fall in love with and when we’ll retire. Sometimes we want this kind of certainty more than wonder, joy, and mystery because let’s face it: the latter three invite more ambiguity. Wonder, joy and mystery can’t be structured, manipulated or planned for and they can disappear as quickly as they make an appearance. They aren’t the by-product of a game plan. They are the ball soaring through the air but when you least expect the touchdown.

Direction typically emerges out of intention. What is it that you most long for? What are your passions and how do you want to live your life? What do you want to be remembered for and what do you want to give to the world? Who and what do you love and who and what loves you? As 2016 draws to a close, instead of thinking about New Years resolutions, perhaps it’s more wise to reflect on these questions because out of the questions answers emerge. Out of the undoing and the not knowing comes clarity, focus, and manifestation.

 

 

Attitudes of Gratitude

22 Nov

This morning, I tried hard NOT to flail my arms out in African dance class as I had surgery last month and don’t care to rip stitches out prematurely. But how can one not feel joy when you hear a drum beat? Drums are akin to our hearts. They are the pulse of life itself – lub dub, lub dub. Years ago when music therapists and myself would bring drums into groups at the Hebrew Home for the Aged, even acute stage Alzheimer’s patients would tap a hand or a foot, despite being practically comatose and near death’s door.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have the privilege of taking African dance with a magnificent teacher. I studied African dance fairly extensively in college, so it’s part of my blood. However, the reason I love my teacher is because she understands dance as a form of worship. She practically radiates something higher than herself.

Dance is a way to express joy and praise; a way to mourn and rage.

I dance so I don’t forget I have a body that is often far superior to my mind. The body has its own knowledge and its own divinity. As Whitman wrote, “I sing the body electric!” and as Hafiz waxed eloquent:

Every child has known God, Not the God of names, Not the God of don’ts, Not the God who ever does anything weird, But the God who only knows four words and keeps repeating them, saying: “Come dance with Me.” Come dance.

This is the week of giving thanks. Dance reminds me of the vitality inherent in gratitude. Often, thanks is pretty basic: I slept well last night. This coffee tastes terrific. Friends make me smile. Strangers can be kind. Let me give you a hug. The dog wagged his tail. I’m doing what I love. It rained in LA. Sunday is football. People still care.

Amen.

 

 

Battle Scars

3 Nov

I  had surgery on Halloween. Nothing like being told that the risks of surgery include that 1) you could never wake up and 2) you could sustain nerve damage. Talk about fright.

My surgery was preventative and minor. Thankfully, I am extremely healthy and well and for that I am most grateful. But to put your hands in the hands of another human being is probably one of the most terrifying things you can do. You have to give up control and you have to TRUST. The surgeon said to me, “I get it. I don’t ever want to lie on that table.” But they wheeled me in anyway.

A friend asked if I got to take home the golf-ball-sized clump of cells they removed. “Put it in a jar as a souvenir,”he suggested.

No, thank you, although they did put it on ice.

They called me yesterday and it’s benign.

I got what a wanted.

But I also got more than good news. I was reminded of people’s kindness and the preciousness of life. Nothing should ever be taken for granted for we simply don’t know how long we have on this planet. We struggle and have our issues and conflicts but at the end of the day, love and joy are all that really matter.

I was also reminded that when we go through experiences we incur battle scars. Thankfully, this one is going to heal very nicely.

Every thought and event of our lives becomes held in the body – for good and for bad – so removing actual tissue triggers contemplation.

“What’s being removed? What is healthy and what is pathological? Were there little pockets of negativity lodged in that lump that needed excision? What do our bodies carry in their consciousness? What do our bodies and souls actually need to thrive and transform?”

I recall a woman I once worked with who had had a mastectomy. She was experiencing phantom limb, plus an enormous amount of grief. To help express and understand her feelings of loss, I had her dialogue with her missing breast and actually give the breast a voice. I wanted to hear what it was thinking and feeling.

That breast held a lifetime of memories for her – sexual pleasure, breast feeding, and her beauty and identity as a woman. She felt lost without it but once the breast’s consciousness was respected and acknowledged, her symptoms abated.

Perhaps, at Halloween, we dress up in scary costumes to remember the mess that comes with being in a human body and living out the human experience. Yet El Dia de los Muertos is also a day to remember and honor the spiritual journey of souls.

12182889_1205684106111692_771826595544660773_o

On Nasty Women, Leaking Vaginas, and Child Rapists Getting 43 Days in Jail

21 Oct

My absentee voter ballot sits on my kitchen table. I need to read up on some of the propositions. I’ve known my presidential choice all along.

20161015_165705

Unlike my Twitter feed, I have not posted much about the election on my FB page. The hostility I see embedded in various threads on FB makes my stomach churn. I have preferred to keep my thoughts to myself because I don’t have the energy to sift through venom. Life is hard enough.

I remember early tirades against Clinton supporters. “It’s stupid to vote for someone just because she’s a woman.”

I would never vote for someone JUST because she’s a woman. I certainly didn’t vote for Sarah Palin when she ran for Vice President.

I will, however, vote for a female candidate that I believe is well qualified.

The fact that she is a woman IS a big deal.

When I wake up in the morning and read yet another article about yet another male judge giving a joke of a sentence to a rapist, I think having a female voice in politics is a good thing. (According to NPR, “a state district judge in Montana is facing a call for his impeachment after sentencing a man who admitted to raping his 12-year-old daughter to 60 days in jail, of which he will serve 43.”). When I hear about a 19 year old male claiming on the Internet that women should control their menstrual blood flow and stop whining about the necessity of tampons, I think having a female voice in politics is a good thing. And when women are continually called “nasty” or “difficult” or “unapproachable” or “unlikeable” or “unkind” or “hysterical” or “emotional” because they express their opinions, I think having a female voice in politics is a good thing.

LA Times contributing writer, Melissa Batchelor Warnke eloquently describes why many women currently resonate with Clinton. About the debates she writes: In three acts, Clinton demonstrated the unlearning process that guides many American women’s experiences: performing for men, leading for others, living true-to-self. We’ve never witnessed such a compressed, gendered metamorphosis in American political life. For many women, Clinton’s movement toward her own power is a historical moment. We’ll remember where we were when fire took our shape.”

When we’ve been the “second sex”for most of our life experience, it’s a historic day to see a woman having a seat at the table.

You can be a feminist and dearly love men. In fact, you can be a man and a feminist! Being a feminist means you believe in both genders having a voice.

Using my voice doesn’t make me nasty, and no, I can’t stop my own menstrual blood flow through sheer will power. That would be a great super power though.

 

%d bloggers like this: