Writing poetry has become part of my life, a branch of a tree rooted in a community of mindfulness. I’m excited and nervous to be a featured poet at an event called Jewish Poets-Jewish Voices on January 17, 2023.
For me, writing poetry started when I said yes at the beginning of the lockdown to teaching mindfulness and meditation for Congregation Beth Israel’s virtual learning platform. The classes are open to the public, not just members of the temple.
The first three months of the pandemic, I was teaching every Tuesday and Thursday. Because I love hearing a poem at the end of a meditation, I was also researching poems every day and when I found one I liked, I would research the poet.
The class was a hit, providing succor and an anchor for people during their time in captivity. When they asked me to continue it, I dropped down to teaching once a week, purely because the poetry search was taking untold hours. It’s a wonderful rabbit hole to fall into, but a rabbit hole nonetheless!
Somewhere in all this, poems arose in me. Sometimes the group hears poems from famous poets, long dead, or contemporary poets, very much alive. And sometimes, they hear poems drafted by me! The unique extemporaneous meditations are recorded each week and uploaded with backing music by the fabulous Patty Lane to the Balanced Mind With Julie Potiker free podcast. That podcast has over 100 meditations with poems. Many in my group listen to it daily, besides showing up on Zoom every Wednesday morning to be in a loving community with each other. New people hear about the class and are welcomed by me and the original crew each week. It’s special how organically it grew into what it is today.
That original crew gives me the confidence to share my poetry and is how I was introduced to the Jewish Poets-Jewish Voices event, eventually being asked to present my work. It is also how one poem, “Unbuckled,” was published in our local paper earlier. You never know what will unfold when you say yes to serving the community! It anchors my world too, and I get as much as I give.
When I read poetry out loud, I get a feeling of love pulsing out from me as I exhale, and golden healing light and love swooping into me as I inhale. When I’m feeling anxious, or sad, I know to choose something that brings me joy to shift my mood. That’s part of SNAP — it’s the ‘A’, the action step. Doing something for others often helps. And doing something for others creates an upward spiral for me. It’s a form of self-love — and, what do you know, it turns out January is Self-Love Month!
Next month, on February 2, I’ll hold a book launch for my new book, “SNAP! From Chaos to Calm,” and a mindfulness workshop at Congregation Beth Israel. Having it there feels right — It’s how we got connected in the first place, and it feels like home. I’m excited for people to learn what’s in the book and have a chance to practice it in a group.
I also look forward to being part of the Jewish Poets-Jewish voices program January 17 at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Jacobs Family Campus in San Diego.
May the New Year bring you hope knowing that we are all connected as part of the universe of all things!
The Universe of All Things
by Julie Potiker
coming at us from space
In the South Pacific on Hunga Tonga
an underwater volcano erupts
Sending a massive plume
4 metric tons
Of water vapor
Shooting 93 miles off the surface of planet earth
Up, up, up into the ionosphere
Causing the equatorial electrojet to reverse directions
Going east to west instead of west to east
Two stream instability and the gradient drift
Sending tsunamis across the Pacific Ocean
Here on planet earth
We wrestle with rain, flooding
Tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, weather systems big and small
That affect our daily lives
Forces of nature or Acts of God
For which we have no control
Sure, we can prepare if we have warning — get storm shutters up,
Food, water, and batteries in the house
But we can’t control the weather systems
What we can control is how we give love
And all mammals
Birds and Reptiles
Amphibians and Invertebrates
Frogs and salamanders
Crabs and crayfish
Fish of all kinds
Controlling what we can
Knowing our place in the universe of all things
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