I became a US citizen at age 11, 5 years after immigrating here from my birthplace in England. My parents had immigrated to England from South Africa, though my mother was born in Lithuania, and my grandfather in Germany. My blood relatives are spread all over the world, including many in Israel as I am Jewish. Potentially I have 6 nationalities, but I’ve never met a single one of my blood relatives. Raised by my prima ballerina mother, whose first language was Russian, I have in my bones the experience of being an immigrant, coming to a new place as an outsider, and pushing boundaries in order to survive.
Two and a half years into a scholarship to UCLA, Governor Reagan cut the funding and I left college to become a student of a boundary pushing physical therapy that healed the chronic back pain I’d had since being in a fatal car crash at sixteen. I formulated a unique herbal soap product, Beyond Soap, which pushed the boundaries of herbal skin care for 13 successful years, throughout US health and natural food stores. In the wake of the recession of 1982, I sold the company for a small profit and moved on.
My headstrong and talented athlete/dancer son was born in 1981, a boundary pusher as well, of course. With him in tow, I led single parent groups, finished my bachelors degree, and moved to Colorado, and Naropa University. Three years later, With a Masters in Psychology and a Clinical Training in Contemplative Psychotherapy, I started The Single Parent Network, and worked in private practice until I got a job with Boulder County Head Start, pushing boundaries as their Child and Family Specialist for 5 happy years.
Then my mother’s happy 2nd marriage came to an end and we moved back to London for her final years. I’d planned on finishing a PhD there, and my son a Masters in filmmaking, but neither were meant to be. His adrenaline addiction had transformed into something else, though I didn’t know for many years later, he moved back to the US for Film school but dropped out. My mother passed away, and as the 2008 recession gripped the world, I moved back to the US, to join Sean who was now starting a family of his own.
Sean’s career as an aggressive in-line skater had gone huge, he competed worldwide, and we all thought money was in that. Or as a filmmaker. But nothing made much money. He did a clothing company, and then started a real estate company, renovating and leasing artist lofts in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District. Finally he seemed to have a calling, and I joined him, investing all our family monies in his business.
Suddenly, that all fell apart; after a fatal warehouse fire in Oakland paranoia pervaded the City, and landlords stopped allowing build outs. We had a lawsuit against one landlord for violating his contract with us, but though we got a settlement for the lawsuit, it was small, and we had been bled dry. So I moved on.
It seems I’ve been moving every 3 years for my entire life, pushing boundaries of what home is, pushing boundaries of friendship, love, commitment, and life, as we imagine it. Every move has been amazing, and though I’m always so sad to move on, the next place has been even more amazing, with each move. I’ve adopted family in three continents, and close lifelong friends, brothers and sisters, though I was an only child.
Now I’m in Washington State, and I’d like to stay put a while. This Coronavirus pandemic has changed the world forever, pushing boundaries inward it seems, arousing a self-reflection that’s been sorely needed by all of us, no doubt. Empathy for the front line workers who risk their lives daily for us, pushing their boundaries and working beyond duty, is rampant. So many of us are grateful for this sacrifice so that more may live.
I’m so grateful to be in this beautiful place, with my little dog, being still able to go walking on rural forested trails, taking long beach walks at low tide. Writing a lot.
I’ve had time to write and formulate this educational project, Empatharian Movement for Peace. I’ve been working for St.Paul’s Free University, making courses, and doing an occasional telephone life coaching session. I had expected to start working with a group of dancers, a group of children, a group of elders, a group of middle aged women, all kinds of groups, to do this work. But what I need to do right now: do it alone, in quarantine. And here I am wanting to push boundaries of what alone is… Zoom sessions will be doing that shortly! I hope you’ll join me, or give me a call and let’s talk?