Recipes for A Sacred Life: Rivvy Neshama
Recipes come in many tastes, varieties, and books, presented on cooking shows and sometimes created by you in your own kitchen. But, the recipes I am going to share with you are not ones that you can eat but are recipes that will embrace you as a person, make you understand your feelings, emotions, ups and downs better and allow you to live A Sacred Life. So, rather than reviewing this book in the conventional way by telling you about the plot, summarizing the salient points I’ve decided to create my own Recipe Book using the many thoughts, stories and experiences shared by the author and link them to how they impacted or will impact my life.
The author begins our journey with The Basic Ingredients which are quite simple to understand and will start everyone including myself on a positive recipe in life journey: After reading a story that about her mother and their outlooks on life and death the author ends this great story with a great beginning for the Basic Ingredients I want to include on my way to a Sacred Life: saying various blessings as she shares many within her day and at the end of her day one that stands out is: It’s a good day to die! It’s a good day to live! I’d like to add: It’s a good day as long as you are alive and you are here!
So, where shall I begin well when dealing with stress she read Deepak Chopra; The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and she highlights four specific points that help her cope with many situations on a daily basis. Added to my recipe book I have found that Number one really helped me when dealing with a stressful situation that has been with me and will be with more for a long time: Making time to be silent, still and do nothing. Not easy. Number Three: Just walking outside and appreciating the world, the blue sky and the bright sunshine really help. Yes: I even say good morning to the trees and the birds. One story that really hit home is “Grateful in Harlem.” From this insightful story I took away the following to add to my own special book: After reading her story and her talk with a woman named Billie I realized that pain belongs to each one of us individually and sometimes we get down on ourselves and forget that we are worth so much more and stop putting ourselves down. When dealing with family or difficult people we often wonder why they react in certain ways, forget that we are there for them and that they can call on us for anything. Sometimes losing a loved one changes the whole complexion of a family and the author shares another recipe she received from Billie the Church Lady: Make two lists, which I did, and make them as long as you want; One: I’m grateful for…. And the other : “ I love in me….” Just putting your thoughts down in each list will list many burdens. “ Tea and Compassion” is really a great story where she describes how she met Halil Baba and how he taught her how to deal with her imperfections and our sins. From this story I added how to find compassion for those that make mistakes and how to find it in myself.
“Miracles to Share,” is my favorite story because I believe in miracles and hope for more each day. The story she shares deals with getting a dress for her daughter’s wedding. She wanted one that reflects who she is and not what others want her to be. The story will stun you as the end result will be a total surprise. Miracles happen when someone does something for you that is unexpected, kind and eases your plight as another one happens when her mother is ill and an angel on the phone helps her find her way and create flight plans that helped her. The odd part is in both stories the two women that helped her disappeared from their jobs and were no longer working there when she called to thank them. Strange but true: From this I took away added to my own book: :There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” After undergoing surgery last month I realized in some respects the outcome really was a miracle in itself. Believe in something and you just might find success. I love the story : This Too Shall Pass and from this I learned a lot from the story of King Solomon: When things are hopeless and you fell your problems are so heavy remember as I do now: “Life is good, feel blessed and remember that : sadness does not last forever and : this too shall pass.”
Poco Poco little by little is a great way to deal with heavy burdens. So, add that to my book followed by several stories that I found quite interesting: “Words to Live By,” “Hello to the Sun,” “The First Few Steps,” and “Confessions of a Listaholic.” From the first story I added to my own book: Remember your dreams, read and music. I start my day with a book early in the morning and love to play low music at the same time while reading. Reading is great and really takes you to places that you might never visit, into the lives of the characters and when it’s a memoir you become engulfed in the lives of so many people and learn about different places. The last story is me to a T. Lists keep me focused, centered and on task. The author creates more lists than most but did give me definite ideas for how to create my lists and be more organized: So from this story and her list of lists I decided to add: What To Do Today, What I hope to accomplish this week” and What my five priorities for this week and the week to follow.
My favorites keep changing. I often pick “Grateful in Harlem” or “The Humble Oatmeal” or “Miracles to Share.” But lately, my favorite has been “Joy.” When I first wrote it, it was a collage of ‘snapshots’ of moments of great joy, almost like a poem. I showed it to my daughter (since she and my grandchildren were in it), and she said, “Well, it’s pretty, but what’s the point?” She had a point! But I loved the story and didn’t want to let it go. Then, one day, I realized there was a final ‘snapshot’ that belonged in that story: a memory I had of a time of great sadness. And once I added it, the story was complete, a mixture of joy and sorrow that reflects the cycles of life and how they’re inextricably connected.
When things are difficult sometimes there are people who have their own recipes that I have included in my special book : No Worries: I say that all the time when I want to ease the tension of one of my nephews who wants my take on a project he’s doing or my favorite story about Rita. Of course you have to love her since we both come from THE BRONX and her great attitude and positive outlook is inspiring. So, what can we add that Rita from Rita: Prayers: thinking that her’s were always heard and never giving up on praying to the Blessed Mother. Rita is truly special and even when they had to put her in an assisted living we learned just what happens when an embarrassing situation and turn out to be not so bad. You want to know more! Find out when you read her story.
Have a great day was what my sister would say. I miss her. Have a grateful day was another one of her expressions and at times I use them both so let’s add these two into my special book and think about everything you are grateful for: I am grateful for the memories I have of my sister and I growing up in the Bronx and dancing at my parties in my living room that was a big as a thumb tack. I miss her smile.
Recipes for Partners Keeping Love Sacred is great and I added Number Three to my special book: Telling each other how you feel about them and focusing on positive things is a great way to stay connected. “One Holy Day,” reminded me of family holidays in my house when my grandmother would set two huge tables in the living room but not before removing the couch and all of the other chairs into the kitchen. Once you sat down for dinner you did not get up because you could not. The food was great and family fun even better and picture of the author’s Nana lighting candles, scrubbing the house brought tears of great memories to my eyes.
As Reading and Writing Staff developer, dean and educator I loved the story titled: The Humble Oatmeal. First of all Oatmeal is my staple and I love having it for breakfast everyday. Teaching a child to read is a blessing, is a miracle and helping them to understand how precious reading is fulfilled me every day for the 36 years I taught. When the author allows us to read her list of what she feels is her calling: Helping Others is a huge job, Oatmeal special and together a great recipe for success. “Birth, Marriage and Death,” three so very precious topics and each with their own special thoughts. Losing a parent, a friend and watching friends marry, carry different thoughts but add this to my book and yours: as the author states: Weddings, births and death: she feels grace at all threes. It is more than just rituals: it’s simply the essence of love.”
The final two I want to spotlight: Joy and the great picture that precedes the story and the last story: One Last Song. When the world seems dark and you think you are going to fold: Only a mother can help you hang in: Add this: Be Strong: the good times will come back. Finally, the story about her mother Irene Feldman brought tears to my eyes and the poem is perfect: the first song I learned to play on the piano was: Frere Jacques and the poem is sung to that tune: Here both the author and her sister sing the words to this precious song on page 219. The best recipe is a mother’s song and Betty Boop, my sister’s favorite and of course any song in Jewish is what I grew up with as my grandmother would sing to me when I was sad.
What is the Recipe for a Sacred Life: Read this insightful, humorous, heartfelt book filled with stories from the author’s life, past and present, hear her voice, learn about the many different time periods and remember the best recipe for life is Living and : It’s A Great Day To Live and even better after you read this book.
Fran Lewis: My thoughts