My Story. From Over The Green Line.

I don’t even know where to begin but I feel now is the time to share.

There is so much going on in our region of the world now that it should come as no surprise to any of my followers. We are at war.

I thought about writing a piece as a mother, then as a Jew or an American or an Israeli or a settler or a blogger…not sure what angle I should be writing from made it all the more difficult to begin.

But here I sit, the stress I’ve been enduring the last few weeks has left my face looking like the battlefield. Lack of sleep, on constant alert in the event that there MAY be a siren, constantly checking and rechecking my news feed for more or any information that seems new or better than the last-minute of awfulness, the constant pinging of my RED ALERT app alerting me of more rockets flying – mostly towards the southern communities, all have made the bags under my eyes weigh a ton and pimples sprout for no other apparent reason.

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Max Steinberg, 24,a Los Angeles native who immigrated to Israel and enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces, was among the 13 soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. The slain IDF soldier who was laid to rest on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem earlier today.

I will not be going to any funerals today, but that is not true for many of my friends. I can not begin to imagine,  and yet in my subconscious daze I sort of do imagine, what its like to have to say goodbye to your young soldier boy as he leaves you to go protect the rest of our country. My teenager is turning 15 in 1 week - that’ s like a blink of time before its his turn. And. I. Just. Can’t. Go. There. Because then I think of Max Steinberg, z”tl.  I think about his parents. And my heart breaks into a million more pieces.

I struggle with figuring out what to do, I want to pray but I can’t make it through the passages without breaking down. I want to help the efforts so I sent out a message on Facebook and within 2 hours and some amazing friends who networked faster than I could have even imagined, had raised close to $1000. I was literally shaking at the thought as I worked my way through the pharmacy picking out products I know they needed first-hand. Wipes, check – but how many packages? was 20 enough? 15 Bottles of sunscreen? And muscle relaxers and cream to help with jock itch – clearly not anything I am used to buying and then getting a strange look from the pharmacist when I told him 10 tubes of each. I explained my purchase but I was so worked up I’m not sure I was making any sense.  I felt bad taking all the boxes of energy bars off the shelf so I left one. Then I went to the next store and bought 60 bags of gummy candy and 20 more containers of gummy candy shaped in hearts to send a message that our hearts are with them. I bought more wipes and about 400 granola bars. And batteries, so many batteries!

I spend my day at work barely able to keep my mind on the tasks at hand and am distracted about 95% of the time, reading multiple articles and blogs, opinions vs facts and videos of idiots who call themselves political satirists. I follow some comments on Facebook posts that lead me to viewing sites from the opinions of our enemies and I am even more frightened by the amount of anger and violent hatred that is aimed at us, call us whatever you want. Jews. Israelis. Zionists. What have we done? Occupied a land as small as NJ? That was ours to begin with and that we cultivated with our own hands, blood, sweat and tears?  A land where we plant flowers and vegetables in our gardens not dig holes filled with cement and weaponry with the intent to creep out like ants waiting to grab the first morsel/life that walks by? Who does this?  When we dig below the earth it’s because scientists want to educate on a global level in the hopes that the  “results of this project will have vast implications in the fields of science and environment and will shed light on new natural resources”.

I am sad and angry. I am exhausted and weary that we will lose more sweet 20-year-old boys to this evil on the other side. And they are pure evil. Why there are so many who still support this entity of violence is beyond comprehension and then, then to read that other countries are willing to give millions, MILLIONS of dollars to aid them in rebuilding the homes of the ring leaders –  that we just sacrificed our young soldiers for – who hid weapons of mass destruction in their basements? In their schools? In their places of worship and hospitals? The last time they were given piles of tax dollar monies they spent it on cement to dig tunnels with the direct aim to do massive harm to innocent civilians or kidnap a soldier. Those are MY tax dollars being used to torment me. Outrageous! I can’t think of enough curse words to express my outrage at this expression of  sympathy. The world has gone mental if the general thought is that innocent women and children are being displaced. That does not mean I don’t feel for them because running for your life or losing a child is awful no matter what your religion is or what you believe. However, these are the women who raised terrorists and continue to praise their efforts. These children are receiving and education which will almost inevitably lead them to become terrorists. Televised programs encourage hatred and are what their children watch for fun, cultivating a life worth dying for at a very early age calling it martyrdom. It’s murder. It’s detestable. It should shock the world, and yet, as I continue to watch rally after rally in countries all over Europe, the UK, France and United States the world cries out in their defense, reminding us that we are “settlers occupying the land” and what this war is supposedly about. I live “over the green line” labeling me a settler.

Not one of the Arabs I employ (but feel free to call them Palestinians if you want) has ever been or felt mistreated in any way. I offer drinks and the use of my bathroom if the need should arise if they are working on my house or in my garden and there has never been one word in anger that passed between us. For goodness sake, they are helping me build my house on OUR land!!!

There are huge very clear red signs that state if I enter into their neighborhoods I risk my life.   

Why would I be risking my life? What’s on the other side of that sign? A pothole maybe that I can fall into like Alice in Wonderland and find myself deep in a tunnel and when I finally get to a stop am in the basement of some guy’s shwarma shop? Maybe. Who knows now? Not me, that’s for sure. How will I know that somewhere when I least expect it, there will be a sewer lid that lifts and out comes a terrorist? Yes, so now I’m paranoid, but what choice am I left with?!

tunnel roadThis is not our way. When we build tunnels, they end up looking like this: and was built in order to travel to Jerusalem and not through the Arab neighborhoods. Oh, and on the other side of this tunnel, only a few meters away is Bethlehem, and the Tomb of Rachel – where we all can pray – but with completely separate entrances. We are a fair nation with a moral conscience. We pulled our own people out of our own homes to give the enemy a chance. To show the world we are a just people. We gave and gave and now we must take back. The world needs to be a better place. We will lose innocent lives and mourn and then wipe off the dust and begin to build again. We have started to defend OUR right to live here and until the rest of the world wakes up we are going to have to fight hard to continue to live here. There is one thing we have going for us though, that no other surrounding nation has. The love of G-d. We have His blessing.

Deuteronomy 15:4

“However, there will be no poor among you, since the LORD will surely bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess”

Deuteronomy 7:13-14

“He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. “You shall be blessed above all peoples”

Deuteronomy 28:7

“The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways”

Here is my favorite line of the day though that I want to share with you. It has helped me time and again over the last 2 weeks and I firmly believe it.

Psalms 29:11

“The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace”

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Dear Social Media ‘Friend’, My Soul Is Famished.

Dear Social Media Friend,

It’s hard to concentrate on daily tasks when my social-media mind takes me from one article posted to another then another, no good news. Hateful commentaries, op-ed pieces, fake videos, false pieces and “writers” submitting their work on grounds I am sure they feel they have a right to espouse, what are we even to believe? Blaming everyone but them/our/selves, speculation, lies, hate, stone-throwing, all around me there is no good news. Our own people re-posting their opinions about why we are just as bad as “them”. As if. Wake up. Enough of the liberal mumbo-jumbo. I am literally distracted and sick. Dizzy from all the misinformation, holier-than-thou attitudes of some people claiming to be my “friends” on Facebook. I am not generally vocal about my political or religious stand on lots of issues. People see me as a pacifist because I am, but in my heart there are a lot of issues that I am very ‘to-the-right’ of, but my opinions are my own and I don’t try to change anyone else’s. If you ask me, I’ll be very clear and share – but sometimes, like today, I am just so over it. I want to scream out, “JUST SHUT UP!”, most of our mothers taught us, if we have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. We will never learn will we? Tell us your opinions, but be wise about it. Say it nicely. Don’t hate on your fellow Jew. Don’t be sarcastic – most of you are not funny. Say what you really mean and sound educated if you ‘put it out there’. I try to shut it all down BUT. Then, I see something, a small sliver of something uplifting and I think, okay there is hope for us yet.

For the young girls who baked and left pastries at a bus stop for soldiers protecting them. For the delicious steak someone is having most probably at a lunch meeting – being productive. For the friend who found a way to return precious lost items to their rightful owners. For the community who felt it was a good idea to spend their money to send a representative to visit the mourning families. For my old neighbor who took his guitar to sing with children.

If I can help it, for the rest of the day I am going to try to disappear from all of you and reflect on the ways I can be a better person, use MY time more wisely. Too much of my time has been spent (and probably wasted) on here-say and falsehoods. On opinionated stuffed shirts and hot air.

A piece of my mind is probably atrophied and continues to shrivel up due to drivel and anger. My soul is famished and seeks proper nourishment. So dearest social-media ‘friend’ I hope you read this and post something positive today and feel free to tag me so that tomorrow when I come back, my head won’t hurt as much and I won’t feel as sick and unproductive. Remind me why we are friends. Challenge extended.

Cheri

Ein Milim – There Are No Words

cheriblevy:

An appropriate response, our hearts are broken.

Originally posted on Aviva Woolf:

“Ein milim,” said the woman reading at the prayer vigil for the murdered Israeli boys at the Isiah Wall outside the UN tonight. “There are no words.”

Ein milim, people write sharing posts on Facebook. Baruch Dayan Emett. They say. Because that’s what you say when you don’t know what to say. There are no words to describe the death of three innocent Jewish teenagers on their way home from school. 

Well, that’s not entirely true. There are words like tragic, senseless, horrible, violence, heart-breaking. But those words don’t cut it. Those words don’t make us feel better, they won’t bring them back. They won’t fix the Middle East or make people care. 

But for the parents of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, all they have are words now. Instead of sons, they have stories. Instead of children, they have memories to share. 

“Naftali loved to play basketball,” they’ll say. But…

View original 592 more words

A People United


We are always on the verge, it seems. On the verge of war that is. We have been warned to obtain gas masks for our families, ensure that our bomb shelters are up to code, and that our sirens are functional. Our soldiers are training and we hear stories from our sons, and our friend’s sons of what its like in the field, on the border, at their posts, with their guns, or standing alert. We hear about children’s kindergarten’s in the north being bombed,random missiles being shot and the absurdity of the loss of a teenager’s life out and about with his father.

The war on us has reached a new level. It has once again entered our neighborhood, when 3 young boys leaving school are taken against their will. Kidnapped. The last kidnapping had the country shouting for 5 years to release our soldier-boy. A soldier, not teenagers leaving from school and this has to stop. The world needs to see that this type of activity is not because Palestinians are being mistreated, what a joke! We gave back convicted terrorists to save ONE LIFE, and in turn these same animals attack us again and again after receiving freedom.

In no other country would a murderer be let free. Yet we look like the bad guys. How is that even possible?

They are allowed in our malls, in the supermarkets, on the same busses and trains. We employ them to work constructing our homes, tend to our gardens, tailor our fabrics. We offer electricity and water and food supplies when needed. And they steal our children. They enter our homes when we are sleeping and bludgeon our babies to death. They drive tractors over innocent motorists killing our families. They walk into our schools with semiautomatic weapons and shoot our children randomly. They are wolves in sheep clothing, entering our cars waiting with hidden knives to attack when we offer them a hitch, or dress like us only to blow themselves up on a bus hoping to take as many Jews with them.

We are a defensive people. We were given the gift of the land of Israel and we respect it, cherish the history from our forefathers, are blessed with making it flourish and we use stones to build a community not to throw at passing cars. We teach our children to build healthy relationships and yet they have summer camps that instruct their children to destroy at all costs, innocent people. When we left our productive land, forced by our own government, physically pulled out of our homes by 50,000 of our own soldiers as an olive branch, what happened to the wonderful homes built with love, or the fields of produce that once flourished? Destroyed and now? Now nothing, absolute nothing.  Where has there ever been any kindness from the other side.

The world wants peace. They want us to give, and give until there is no more to give.

There is no rest for the weary, our boys have not yet returned home, our communities are offering food and kindnesses to the soldiers. Our 22 “settlements” all baked, and bought, cooked and served to show appreciation in the efforts of all they do. When asked to prepare cakes, rolls and Challot for the Sabbath to give to the boy’s high-school for all the students, in accordance with baking enough in order to make a special blessing, there were 159 women who signed up. Together we delivered 349 rolls, 207 Challot and 60 cakes to the school that houses close to 300 students. We are bound by a commandment, “all the people of Israel are responsible for one another”. We are brothers, we are one family. We are bound to protect and love each other as we love ourselves and during this awful time we offer what we can in action, deeds and prayer in the hopes that we flood the gates of heaven with our cries. We beg for mercy, we trust in G-d and together, a people united we continue to hope that the boys are returned unharmed.

Please continue to pray for Gilad, Naftali and Eyal.teens_jpg

Honoring Our Past

handYou may not see what I see, because perhaps, you never met my grandmother. Genetics are a weird thing. Bits and pieces passed down through the gene pool end up popping into a new person and changing with them as they grow older. There were a couple of small photos my mother once had hanging on our metal oven wall with a magnet of her and me looking VERY much alike as children. Weirder than that was a picture my paternal grandmother hung on her wall *also happens to be my absolute favorite* of my great-grandfather centered between my uncle and father in a beautiful moment captured in black & white. Underneath, tucked into the frame was a color photo of my great-grandmother centered between my brother and myself. Seriously, my dad and I look like twins. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE that I look JUST like my mom and JUST like my dad at different ages, when they themselves look nothing alike? Early on I learned about genetics since I was the only one in my immediate family with blue eyes. My maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather passed them down to me bit by bit. And then, there are moments when I look in the mirror and there is a glimmer of my mother looking back at me. Or I am washing the dishes and I see her hands soaping the pot. But most recently, I was reading a novel and there was something that hit me beyond words. There staring back at me was my grandmother’s hand. Though she had longer more elegant fingers, always clad in shiny rings that seemed to be slipping off (she was always cold) and her hands always smelled of Jergens or Shower to Shower powder, sure enough there was that moment.

Today is a day we honor the past and hope for our future. My grandmother was American and though I have no personal familial stories to tell of atrocities and triumph of my own (though my grandfather was an American paratrooper in WWII) , my Facebook feed is full of old black and white/sepia photos of grandparents and great-grandparents who suffered through the Holocaust. My friends, all adding their own personal stories, have helped me to connect to a reality I know nothing of, only learned about since I was very young. Looking at their pictures I try to find the resemblance either in my friend’s faces or their children’s faces. I search for the depth in their eyes and search for answers. What was going in their day-to-day lives? How did they manage to survive? What could they have possibly told their children? How did they get past these atrocities and rebuild their lives to produce some very large families and continue their G-d given heritage? I hope I never need to find out for myself.

Today, we honor their memory with a siren that blasts for 2 straight minutes while the whole country stands still. Cars stop on the side of the road, drivers get out of their cars and silently bow their heads. People in offices and stores, children in school, workers in the fields, everyone stands respectfully until the siren ends remembering the fallen. Throughout the country memorial candles are lit and programs and ceremonies are held. Holocaust Remembrance Day (or here in Israel it is known as יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Day) is a national memorial day. 

 memorial candleWe are a resilient nation, conquering the wrath of our enemies, proving triumphant and victorious over evil hateful nations that wish to destroy us.

We are a simple people wanting nothing more than to be just what we are. The Chosen People, which has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. “You alone have I singled out of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) Children of Israel (Exodus 6:6). A people of the land  (Genesis 12:7). My memories of my grandmother are sweet with mostly no sorrow. What will we pass down to our children? What will they remember about us? These are the questions I thought about today. How about you? We continue to honor our past and always hope for a brighter, more tolerant tomorrow.

When Giving Means Receiving

flowers

My beautiful surprise

 There comes a time in everyone’s life when a choice has to be made or a question needs to be answered. More often than not we ignore or push-off making a final decision or finding the best solution until we are emotionally or financially ready. That’s a good thing. It’s never smart to make decisions without proper thought about consequences. Sometimes a rash decision will cause tremendous ramifications and that’s not a good thing. Taking the time to really hash out our feelings is an important part of the process. 

BUT. Then there are times when you get a certain feeling to do a certain something and just act. Without thinking too much. Even though some may say is “adventurous”, some…”stupid”, may be the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else. Now, this could be bad or good.

Let’s say your cousin shows up with spiked hair and you decide to just do the same (Hair Today, Idiot Tomorrow). That, most probably, will turn out bad and last the whole summer and not grow out for the first day of being a freshman in high school. 

However, if you decide to do an act of kindness, because you see another person needs help or, an extra hug, or something that seems insignificant like a ride, or a call, or a smile, you know what will happen? A chain reaction.

Either you’ll want to continue doing these small kindnesses because it brightens someone else’s day, and THAT makes you feel good, or the person on the receiving end will want to do something similar for someone else. 

When I decided to take upon myself the task of baking Challah bread every week for Shabbat (the Sabbath) and pray that my niece’s baby have a complete and speedy recovery, a tradition that many religious Jewish women take on, it was a mother daughter affair in honor of my daughter’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah, but a tradition I kept on throughout the year. The more I became comfortable with the dough, and the prayers, the more people I started to pray for, the more intense my prayers became. Then one day, it hit me. I had the strongest urge to share some loaves with one of the families I was praying for. I first asked if it would be helpful, did they want it, did they need it? I was thrilled the answer was yes, well mostly because we as a family, even if I invite guests won’t finish 7 large loaves in one weekend. But more importantly, by bringing my son along to deliver the bread, I was able to bring another person along for the journey. He could witness the look of appreciation on the receiving end. That made him feel good too.

Once there was a neighbor (we are not close with) who knocked on the door and asked if we happened to have a spare roll just so that he could make the blessing later that evening. The store had closed before he had a chance to purchase enough for his family and I was thrilled to be able to share. Another time while about to get in the car to make deliveries, the same neighbor was saying goodbye to friends of his and the guest had commented about my loaves. I offered them the ones in my hand and asked my son to run up to get more. The guest was speechless, his wife was a little shocked, kept protesting and saying that it wasn’t necessary and I think mortified that her husband so willingly accepted, but was gracious when I reminded her that she was leaving close to Shabbat and that with the travel back to Jerusalem (and her screaming children in the back) there may not be enough time to purchase their own. Her smile was worth a million thank yous and her husband was telling his friend how lucky they were to live in such a warm neighborhood.

We got in the car to deliver and my son (who often brings his sullen teenage attitude with him) was going on and on about how cool that was. How awesome it was  to make another person happy, simply by offering a kindness. When we delivered the first set my son was able to play with a dog – so naturally he was in even better spirits and finally to our last destination where my son returned to the car holding a beautiful bouquet. For me. What?!? That was such a nice surprise! I certainly had no intention or expectations for a return gift. I gave freely with my whole heart never needing or wanting anything in return and thus being on the receiving end of someone’s thoughtfulness was overwhelmingly pleasant. This is the chain reaction I was referring to. One action leading to another, creating a good example for my son. That with my one act of sharing, I was able to create a smile for at least 4 other people.

I’m not sharing this piece to toot my own horn, its nothing really. I know lots of people doing lots of nice things, however, I recently read The hole story, by my friend Elie Klein, and the lesson I took away was that it’s important to share these details with others and hope that a chain reaction begins. They say that sharing is caring and I couldn’t agree more. Setting good examples for my children means I sometimes do the right thing and those are the actions I hope they remember me most by.

 

Our Tooth-Fairy Has Celiac & An Email Account (Apparently)

This is how we found out:

Paco (6 yrs old): Can I ask you something?

Mommy: Always

Paco: Can you wiggle my tooth?

Mommy: I’d rather not, can you? I’ll just look

Paco: See how it’s almost ready. Can you take it out after dinner?

Mommy: Why don’t we try right now?

Paco: Nope. I don’t wanna’ eat bloody food.

Mommy: Sounds like a plan.

After dinner, and a bath, and an episode of some robot-y program on Netflix – I finally convince him its time.

Mommy: Okay, here we go, ready?

Paco: Never

Mommy: Open up! Wider, say “eee” …okay open while you say “eee”, enter tissue…gagging…begging. DONE!

Later that night in bed we discuss how the tooth-fairy will come by while he is sleeping and take his teeth and replace them with shiny coins. Unfortunately the tooth-fairy got completely distracted, side-tracked, and tired and never showed up.

The next morning…

Paco: Mommy! Mommy!

Mommy: jsdfbrfqerf still sleeping erjjrwnf, what?

Paco: We need to send the tooth-fairy an email

Mommy: Wha?

Paco: She is too sick to fly here and bring me the money, so we need to email her

Mommy: Why is she sick?

Paco: She has coughs and can’t fly. And she has Celiac.

Mommy: Really. Wow. Okay, I’ll ask Abba ( daddy) to send her one. oops

Conversations with this guy never leave me without a smile. 

The Day Of The Red Shirt

Even though members of my book club have already heard this story, I feel like one day, when the ol’ noodle fails me for good, these stories will be able to be passed down from generation to generation and my great-great-grandchildren will be able to say – 0h she was sooo silly! Here is my amazing mother blunder of the day:

Finally, I was going to make it to work on time. I had just enough time to drop “Paco” off at school and get on the highway and be at the office by 9. Yes, that is rare, because as most moms can relate, there’s always that delay due to the search for matching socks, or a meltdown about the crust left on one’s sandwich. Sure enough, I walk this guy into his class and see that EVERY.OTHER.CHILD is wearing a white shirt. Then the teacher sees my angel wearing his brightest, fuzziest, RED shirt and sort of does that slight head tilt with a disapproving blink. I can hear her inaudible sigh of impatience and the look – oy, the look – that says – yikes, this one again. She never gets it right.

red shirtPaco notices and looks up at me with a pursed frown and a mean squeeze of the hand that basically screams: MOOOOM how could you?!?

So I run home and search the laundry bin for the shirt he wore the day before because (naturally) all the other kids had to wear white shirts YESTERDAY!

I grab a pair of dark pants because heaven forbid, if he’s the ONLY one wearing khakis, I will never forgive myself. I run back and he makes me get into the eency bathroom stall to help him get changed. He’s so modest. While my elbows keep banging the walls as we tango trying to get his clothes off and on again, I sort of, maybe, let go of his coat and it landed on the toilet seat. So I gasp praying that it doesn’t reach the water, and he turns horrified, so upset he starts to cry that he’ll never ever wear it again until summer (it’s a wooly lumberjack zip-up – so I’m kinda’ like – yeah ok, no biggie). I show him that it didn’t get wet, but the screaming continues like I’m Gforbid hurting him…so I beg him to stop and make promises that I am forced to keep. I was so quick to say yes to anything as long as he didn’t get all booger-y and get those puffy red eyes for picture day! I begged him to be brave and not cry, that I wanted a beautiful happy picture-day-boy, since I have yet to get one of those. I usually get the grumpy-furrowed-brow-kid – youknowtheone…as if I were one of those moms, the skin-glowy, Vegan-flowy-skirt-wearing send him to school with whole wheat sandwiches stuffed with alfalfa sprouts for lunch, moms!

I’m not trying to be judgy, so I hope you aren’t either – but I’m the mom who grabs the smiley-face cookies with creme in the middle and sends him off with a chocolate pudding if it’ll stop the whining in the morning. (I do give him cream cheese sandwiches and cut apple slices too btw), also, my kids tend to be on the small side, so extra calories never hurts them. (justify, justify, justify).

Anyway – I can barely wait to see how the pictures come out. I was traumatized (and really late for work) but I can look back now and see the humor in the situation. But why do these things always seem to happen to me?!?

While Some Things Change, Others Remain The Same

Last week, while I didn’t address it head on (until today…when it was already said and done), there was a major change that occurred at my workplace. The boss who originally hired me decided to move on and I missed his last day. Perhaps subconsciously, I was very agreeable to take the day off when I was asked by my bestie who was visiting from the states. 

While the boss was not my direct boss anymore, he still was the person I went to when things needed fixing. The one I could laugh with now that I wasn’t the youngest one in the office. The one that teased me about the way I dress (all in good fun, of course) and the one that sent me the best e-mails of the coolest (and smallest)  houses in the world. Walking in to work today, seeing my desk piled with papers awaiting my attention (serves me right for skipping a day!) was pretty depressing, especially since I’ve been up since 3AM (story for another day). I was bombarded upon entering and at the ready -shot responses to at least 3 people who greeted me, I finally sat down, took care of the mail, organized the piles and saw this.

bamboo

I know it probably means nothing to you, but to me, this bamboo plant means change has happened. Week after week, while the department heads (and silly ol’ me) sat around the conference table eating our breakfast, I’d see this bamboo plant make its way from a little sprout to what it is today. My boss, for better or worse, helped this plant nourish and grow, much like he did for all of us. Making it his business to see that we performed to the best of our ability. So, even though I know change is good, it hurts to say goodbye and when I didn’t see his white Volvo wagon parked this morning I was sad, but seeing this plant, that he left for me to take care of, even though we live 15 minutes away from each other, meant he was officially gone. I’m super excited to see where he goes from here though, because now that one door closed, I am sure many more will open and he will be a great leader wherever he chooses to go.

And…then…some things never change. I took a vacation day to spend with one of my oldest friends who came to Israel for work but took a few days to have some serious girl time. A friend who through high school and after marriage and children and living in different countries, (even though “GrayHair” invited herself into our lives) has stayed the same, having the ability to turn EVERYTHING into something funny. We’d see something or look at the same thing and with one look at each other, know exactly what the other was thinking. I got to impress her with my language skills and she impressed me with her constant emotional strength.  We had some seriously good food, conversations and then just like that it was over.  Time flies when you’re having fun. I loved that our friendship has never changed. It’s comforting to know that just when you need an injection of something dependable it’s there in your home bringing you Hershey’s chocolate and an InTouch magazine.

I am in desperate need of sleep (blasted middle-of-the-night-allergy attack!) and very weepy, introspective and thoughtful. Today is bittersweet.  I love that my boss, and today I can officially call my friend, is moving on, though he leaves us behind to fend for ourselves. The move is a good one, a healthy break with everyone singing his praises for many jobs well done over the many years of service, and he accepted them graciously. 

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.” ― Libba BrayThe Sweet Far Thing

I bless everyone this new month, with the opportunity for changes in the right direction. 

Weird Apps For Wednesday!

I apologize from the get go. This may get gross. 

crapappIt’s either genius or sick but either way people are being creative and I applaud that.First weird app of the day is an app where one can monitor their, um…output.  I’m sure the fact that Dr. Oz promoted this on his show will have gotten more coverage than my wee lil’ blog post, nevertheless. It’s called the Bowel Mover Pro.  No joke. An app that tracks crap. (sorry for the naughty word usage…I couldn’t control myself-pun intended). The better way to explain this app I guess would be to say that it helps one track their digestive health. 

6.HelloCowThen there is this app for no reason other than maybe for the cowboy who moved to the big city and misses the farm. It’s called Hello Cow. Basically its a cow. Poke it and it moos. That’s it. Oh and it costs 99¢. 

ifart

Back to gross and stupid, but probably funny for the mass of immature boys and men out there is the iFart Mobile App. You can record your own or use one of the many pre-recorded fart sounds labeled by funny names to prank all your friends. Also for 99¢…I really want to know how many people pay for and use this app. I like to prank just as much as the next class clown, but I wouldn’t pay for it. 

inapI saved the best for last: The iNap App. I know way too many people who would use this one! Yup, you guessed it, for only 99¢ you can download the app that will allow you to nap anytime anywhere and has a feature to alert you (assuming your locator is on and you’ve programmed your destination on your phone). Great for bus trips, though why anyone would pay for this and not just use the alarm feature on their fancy phone, I’m not sure.

Anyway, that’s all for today folks, feel free to comment and let me know other weird stuff you may want me to post about. Happy Wednesday!

Who Said Blondes Have More Fun?

Because, sometimes, I wonder about these things.

When I was a brunette, I was single and dating and falling in love and making a lot of money. I was a new mom – with chubby babies and carpeted floors, with boundless energy for whipping up goodies for appetizers and desserts. My cheeks were dewy and eyes bright with wonder at almost every little thing. (*delayed reactionary afterthought – carpeted floors are squishy and the best place for your feet on a cold morning…now that I don’t have them…I really miss them)

buster brownWhen I was blonde, I mean really blonde, no one saw it, except my husband. It lasted about a week, and I kept in under wraps because, well, it literally frightened him. I bought this ‘amazing’ color and as a bored new wife (while I was still searching for a full-time job) and decided it was time for a change. Um, it was bad. It was like Madonna-Blonde from her Material Girl days. It was platinum gone wrong. Not only that but it got worse…see because I was bored I decided to cut my hair and sort of got carried away. Evening out one side, then the other, and back again. It was the worst short bob I ever had because I looked like the Buster Brown character.

Being a devout religious Jewish woman, I cover my hair in public. At the time, just being blonde wouldn’t have been so bad, however since I cut it so short, there were lots of pins and clips and soft head-bands to try to keep it all from spilling out from under my hat or bandanna or wig.  It was torture. Definitely not more fun being than being a brunette.

A few days later I bought another box of magic and returned to a color that resembled my original hair color and so I decided to experiment with food when things got too boring.

Over the years I’ve picked wig colors that were closest to my natural hair color and people were always surprised and assumed I was a natural blonde. That always had me making this weird face – I mean, there are wedding pictures in my house where my brown hair is prominently displayed. Perhaps being fair and with pretty thin eyebrows made them think this way, I’m not really sure! Certainly seeing me with my children maybe by association they thought I was blonde. 5 for 5 all blondes! 

Over the years,  I’ve played with various colors as I dyed my hair for fun and for some reason no matter what color I chose, Chestnut, Nutmeg, Natural Blonde (even!) sort of came out looking reddish. When it came time to buy a new wig, I actually wanted to go blonde(r) since everyone thought I was blonde anyway…so I tried on a few different shades and when I finally settled on a nice in-between color, I was nervous. I never stepped out as a blonde before, but the feedback was great and everyone said how natural it looked with my skin tone. I chose a longer more luxurious style than I had before and the truth is I do feel more young and maybe see myself as more fun. That could also have to do with my age though, the older one becomes the more confident they become. 

drivingI am now older, wiser and blonde(r) but ‘fun’ means something different to me so maybe I missed my opportunity to get what people say about being blonde. To me, fun is reading a book under a cozy blanket or watching a movie with my friends or family. Fun is observing my children when they don’t see me watching them. Fun means gathering around a table fit for a king with delicious food platters and a festive atmosphere. Would I still like to stick my head out the window of a car speeding down the longest stretch of highway with the wind whipping my “hair”? Yes. But not because I’m ‘blonde’. Would I do it? Probably not, I’d probably wear a hat! 

I don’t think having fun is a blonde thing or a hair thing. Having fun varies depending on one’s age.  And at any age Dr. Seuss gives sage advice even on a rainy day, “I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” 
― Dr. SeussThe Cat in the Hat

When Mommy Gets Sick

sick-mom 1_edited-1Last week was rough. No, I did not get a flu shot. Because, I never get one.

Will I get one next year? Probably.

Do I feel like and idiot? Yes.

Did I stay in bed most of the time? Yes.

Did it help. I dunno. 

But man, was I sick. I got everything the NYQUIL commercial claims the medicine handles. The sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, plus 2 sick boy children with me. Too bad I didn’t have the medicine!

But then, of course, it got worse. This week, even though my chest has remnants of the ol’ rattle and wheeze, I went back to work. Because I had to. There were expectations and I was gaining more energy every day. So I did. And then naturally the girls mid week started to really complain. So, today I took them to the doctor.

The doctor’s visit proved one bronchopneumonia, one flu and some more antibiotics for mommy’s wheezing…(feel free to wag your finger at me)…because I am not thinking with 100% brain here, I took them all to work. Because I had to be there by 10. Because I am sick, and not focused on making the best decisions, I chose to bring these sickies to work with me instead of  leaving them all at home with a laptop full of movies and loads of ice cream.

Dummy. Dummy! DUMMY!!

So natch it’s Wednesday and I had a few minutes to scroll through the internet to find the most absurd (though they might be true) healing methods I could find that people put out there:

This seems weird but doable:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide: At the first sign of cold, flu, sinus infection, or ear infection, put a dropperful of hydrogen peroxide into each ear. Have the person lie still with the hydrogen peroxide in the ear until it stops bubbling. Do this on both sides. This is especially effective for kids. Repeat every few hours until infection is gone.

This seems good if you were in Poland without any other forms of medicine.

  • potatosThe Potato Method: I have a hard time believing that the raw potato is the way to go.

Lastly, there is no way anyone could have believed this advert, really.  At least I hope not!

dr-battys-asthma-cigarettes-l

The Cigarette Method:  Even the Dr.’s name seems suspicious!

A Look Back – Thanks Facebook

Having the flu – which really should be called “burning golf balls in your throat and an elephant sitting on your chest”  – but I guess flu is shorter and easier to say…stinks.

However, being in bed the majority of this week has enabled me to watch over 60 ( I think, I lost count but definitely at least 50) look back videos.

Dear Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team,

imagesHappy Birthday Facebook!

I LOVED the gift you gave to us – a video that encapsulated the posts that we published since we began our FB journey. Of course based on the algorithm you programmed, our pictures or posts were placed in the video  – so while some videos were overly beautiful and made most of us weep for the sweet moments they captured, they were not all moving pieces. However, If we were naughty, and deleted some photos, because well, lets face it, no one needs to see a picture of your bagel that you ate last year and felt the need to share it with the world – that’s not  ‘video’ material is it? We were punished. No video for you. Just a bunch of weirdly random pictures that we could not even share is what we got.

And I am so very disappointed, see, I saw my video and it was great, well-rounded and shared some old pictures of me and my classmates, some of my old co-workers with one of our special needs volunteers,  some great children moments – as well as me and some friends in group shots, but there was none of my husband – which I was so sad about. So I changed my profile picture to one of my favorite couple shots of us thinking, this is just going to make it amazing – and then – nothing. Just a weird grouping of random stills I sent out over the years with no ‘Share’ button – just a thank you from Mark Z and his team.

That got me thinking and as I scrolled FB to see, there were others like me, at least 2 others and there was no do-over. It had me thinking about G-d. ( I know I’m ill and feverish so it may have been between pills when this came to me).

G-d sometimes give us do-overs, but sometimes the algorithm is the way it is. Something set and that’s the end of it. I was called an idiot for not getting the flu shot. Well, okay – I didn’t want to inject some flu in me so I wouldn’t get a worse case of it – those are the breaks. Maybe I am an idiot sometimes, but I try not to be, and that had me thinking back to Facebook.

Sometimes I share a lot of nonsense. Watching so many other people’s videos I learned a few things about the way we choose to ‘share’. Here is what I learned about myself and Facebook:

  • I will try to stop sharing pictures of food that I cooked or baked. It’s really not that interesting and I already write a blog – so I might as well stick those shots in a section called – “”Hey, I cooked something and I want you to comment on how it looks” or something dually self-promoting.
  • I will think about sharing only the moments that matter. Not because it’s fake or gives the impression that my life is perfect, on the contrary  – no one has a life that is all vacations and dinners at fancy restaurants. Well at least not any of my 600 some odd ‘friends’ on Facebook – well maybe just one or two of them do – but I digress. I should be more selective about what I share.
  • We all seek attention.  From the tiniest hang nail and paper cut (no matter how annoying or painful) to the proudest moments as parents and biggest personal achievements, we put ‘stuff ‘ out there in the hopes that someone will comment, connect or make fun of us. Sharing is caring and can be fun and even sometimes helpful. But are we using this tool solely to seek attention? Maybe.
  • Having pets is okay, I guess.  Just because I’m highly allergic to all your furry friends, means I’ll never own one and am cautious about accepting invitations to your homes. Even when I’m there my first reaction is to back away and cringe – but I know some are great companions and good for children.  So I’ll watch your cute dog videos. They all look so harmless in your Look Back vids.
  • Facebook connects people. And that’s the reason I started with it anyway. Living far from family has its advantages, sure, but not when you miss a Thanksgiving dinner, or a wedding or even worse, your elderly grandparents. Will grandpa chat with you and you can only see his chin the entire conversation? Yup. so when Skype or Facetime fails with the ol’ folk, there is Facebook – where you can automatically share videos and pictures and messages. And then every ten years get your own recap video.

So thanks Facebook, for giving me an opportunity for a do-over. But if anyone on staff reads this – can you rig it so I get to see my video again? Thanks.

Love, Cheri

The Cupcake Wars

cupcakes

The vanilla ones are from a mix (cinnamon flavored) and NOT as smooth

I never in a million years thought that the cupcakes I made for my daughter with Celiac is what my other children would be begging to eat, fighting each other for the very last one. Naturally, it took a few tries (with various other recipes) to get that not-so-grainy, weird texture that a lot of gluten-free products end up tasting/feeling like. A friend of my mom passed me an AMAZING gluten-free recipe for chocolate cupcakes that I have passed on and on and on, and keep getting great feedback.

One friend said she baked the batter in a loaf pan and it was even better!

There are so many variations for toppings, just like ‘regular’ cupcakes, but the first time I served these, I also had fresh strawberries and whipped cream as an accompaniment. Nothing, absolutely nothing was left.

I’m thinking I want to try making this recipe in a loaf pan, with a sugar glaze and chocolate jimmies…man, I am salivating even as I type this.

These were fudgy but beware, not all ingredients are equal. I substituted Nutella for a gluten-free chocolate spread (also to be dairy-free), one time it worked and another time – with a different gluten-free brand they sunk – were so pathetic-looking, yet, to my surprise still were eaten to the last crumb.

cupcake

The last of the birthday cupcakes

For my daughter’s 9th birthday I decided to bake these cupcakes for the 40 children in her class, adding a butter-cream frosting and fondant confetti. Only 2 children rejected them *but the teachers were happy to take them off my hands! Another friend of mine used this recipe but soon realized in the process that she was short on chocolate so she supplemented peanut-butter and sent me a photo – so so good – who doesn’t love the chocolate-peanut-butter combo? YUM!

So here you go, enjoy!

GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP CUPCAKES

makes 10-12 large

  • 1 cup gluten-free chocolate spread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons potato starch
  •  70 grams chocolate chips
  • cocoa powder
Fill a cupcake pan with liners, coat each liner with cooking spray and then dust the bottoms with a little cocoa powder. Using a mixer combine the eggs and chocolate spread of choice, adding the potato starch slowly and mix well. Add chocolate chips.  Fill cupcake papers half way. Bake at 185°C or 160°F for about 12 minutes. Center should be gooey when tested with a knife.

Being There For Others

Not a fun morning, but definitely a worthy one. One with a mission.

This week alone, I went to pay 2 shiva visits (that means visiting someone who is mourning the loss of an immediate relative). A father and a wife have now moved on to the next world, leaving behind worlds that are shattering but with promise to heal. I heard about 2 car accidents of different friends that have left them injured and broken with a definite amount of financial loss heading their way.A conversation that alerted me to yet another neighbor diagnosed with the big “C” and a few emails about prayers needed for sick children along with a close  friend with a worrisome lump… heavy, too heavy to wake up to.

After a few minutes of  introspection about what lies ahead, my life, busy as it is, sure looks a lot better than some others right about  now. But I feel their pain and it is no surprise that my inner voice is not my own. It’s Stella’s voice. Creepy? Not for me, it’s so comforting. I miss Stella just like every other friend, but for some subconscious reason, whenever I feel my community’s pain, it is her voice I hear telling me what the right thing to do is. It may sound weird…reading this over, I even think it’s a bit wild. But that’s the plain truth. So today, I have a plan. A mission to go out of my natural comfort zone…a thing I end up doing when my emotions take over, and I am happy this happens to me. My natural instinct is to say “yes” whenever someone asks me to do something. (Admittedly to my detriment  sometimes). But I can’t help it. When someone asks, my heartstrings pull towards that sense of nurture that is part of who I am. Then there is the voice of reason and action. It calls to me when there is someone who needs something. Today, I have a plan on how to appease this voice. Sure, it may be slightly awkward, sure it may take up an entire lunch break – but to maybe have a the opportunity to put a smile on someone else’s face? Or to hold their hand and let them know that there are people whom they can count on for support? That would be worth it.

Today started with such a heaviness, and when that one tear fell, I knew in my heart that there was more we could be doing. More praying, more paying attention to others, more listening, more caring. hugs

We must work harder at being kinder and  being better than we were yesterday.

Naturally we can’t be there for our friends all the time. We ALL have busy lives and must tend to our own before helping others, but I often think: what kind of example am I for my daughters? For my sons? I want them to see that even though I could be doing A, B, and C, I chose D, E, and F because it meant that I wasn’t the center of my life. It meant that I put others before me, and I know it’s not an easy task for some. I’ve been in that other place many times. When I just wanted to do what I wanted to do, and not have others influence me for bad or good, but it’s not the person I strive to be.  I would like for my children and cherished loved ones to choose people in their lives who always want to be on the giving end, as well as be able to acknowledge and accept humbly when its our turn to receive.

Only one tear today, which for me is a big deal. Today, I’m listening to the voice of action and will be there for someone else, if only even for just a few minutes. Perhaps you can too.

Choose A Better Tomorrow

Lots of thoughts are running through my head today – change is happening.

change

New opportunities are on the horizon as I sit and watch and wonder, what’s next. I am thriving personally yet losing the domestic challenge daily. I am confident that keeping a creative outlet (which is of course) bringing in more money to pay for necessities is key to my recent success.

Of course, success is measured differently by each person. I’m not raking in the big bucks, but my business background reminds me that what you put in is what you get in return, so while I am busy with a trillion other things, my extra small surplus income allows me a little breathing room – and that’s always nice. 

But there are other changes in the midst. While change can be frightening and a wee bit alarming at the beginning, there is hope with each change that situations have the ability to improve. Even when things look bleak or murky or the change is a sad one, there is probability for growth and that’s encouraging. 

Oh, she’s being so vague, you say…and I hear you. And no, I am not sharing my every thought – which I’ve been accused of before. But I will impart this wisdom.

Every day is a new day for a chance to change, or make a difference, in your own life or someone else’s. Each day brings fortuity and blessings as long as your mind is open to them. Be alert, awaken your senses so that each passing moment is a moment worth remembering. 

Today is so great. That’s a message we should all try to start with. Trust me, I’ve had those days when EVERYTHING seems to go wrong. I’ve even written about them. I’ve raised my hands to the heavens and screamed ‘not fair!’ I know you have too. There are so many things in this life that seem wrong or backwards and unfair or cruel.  

But looking back and being completely honest – more than half of the things that happen{ed} (besides illness, I guess – and even then sometimes) are/were self-inflicted. Poor time management or decision-making wreak havoc on our daily forecast. We can plan for the best and expect the worst but in the end, we are not running this show. We are a body made up of many bodies and are affected by each incident due to the ripple effect of society. We are a capable species. We have been given the gift of a superior brain with which we have created and invented a world so complex it enables an easier life. We have been given every opportunity to succeed and then, sometimes it’s just too much. We have the ability to dissect the smallest particles and limbs and cells to better understand how things are made so that when they break we can fix them. But is knowing always better? Double edged sword if you ask me. 

And if you ask me, I will always choose a path of knowledge rather than ignorance, even if there is some pain that comes with knowing. The more we know, the more choices we give ourselves, allowing us greater odds to choose a better tomorrow.

Force Fields are for Jedi (and moms)

Weird Stuff on Wednesday? It wasn’t until I started my “research”. So  enjoy and try to follow along.

Is this really a post about Star Wars? Or The Phantom Menace *to be exact…not really but sort of. 

From Wookipedia *and weirdly enough this is NOT the first time I’ve been on the site (inner nerd alert)* and also for a WSOW post (about cookie jars, maybe?)

Obi-Wan catches up to them, but is divided from his master by four force fields. When the force fields deactivate, Jinn and the Sith continue their battle while Kenobi remains divided from the battle by one force field when they all reactivate.

Having looked up ‘Force Field’ in Wikipedia – because we all know that’s where all the accurate information is stored…I came upon lots of various usages for the term force field.

What had me even going to that place anyways? – you know how it is – how the brain travels at warp speed taking you from one topic to another and then BOOMyou’re at the end feeling like you just solved quantum physics.

This is how it went down – The morning started off hopeful, a new day, shiny new opportunities for greatness, but then one thing led to another and yet another and it felt like there were all these outside forces that kept me from my original plan. Which was to get to work on time. Seems simple enough. Hearty laughter heard from the heavens…as I dealt with a child who missed the bus for the second day in a row, a stuffed up drain delaying my shower, traffic behind the slowest cement mixer on the planet, waiting for the train to pass, a near car crash – read: old lady with big ol’ mama glasses barely visible over the steering wheel honking profusely at the French man jay-walking across the street where he stops midway to scream at her for almost giving him a heart attack, and then the 10 minute wait behind the buses that kept me from driving the 2 minutes left to get to my office.  Brain-ache already before coffee. Ugh.

ff1

The term Force Field is used in neuroscience, chemistry, physics, was the name of a British rock band and even theme tune for a British game show called The Crystal Maze (pretty impressive – see above) and even fiction…(like in the Incredibles) and while they all mean different things they all keep to the same basic idea. It prevents or protects (which seem like antonyms – how is that even possible?) one from harm’s way or the path that leads to something unknown *in most fictional cases, something evil. However, there is this deep philosophical and perhaps metaphysical space I keep entering that is convincing me that all these forces MUST have been for a better higher reason for delaying me this morning. (ok – deep stuff over – but if anyone has any insight – please share).

ProShirt front MAnd because it’s Weird Stuff on Wednesday – how could I leave out the best part of all. I’m thinking about purchasing a special coat to ward of evil forces. (Of what I’m uncertain – maybe sweat?) – I don’t bike BUT, I may need to purchase the Forcefield Pro Shirt  - I probably will never own a motorcycle but is this a reason not to purchase a jacket of “armor” that body hugs me and protects my back – why shouldn’t I protect my back?  Plus – this shirt gives the illusion of having webbed muscles – who wouldn’t want that? No brainer.

Tis I, The Invigilator!!

What thinking column: ivigilator illustrationI think I’m pretty smart…sometimes. I have a decent vocabulary, play a mean game of Words with Friends and had my share of wins of Scrabble games against my mom. I’m in a book club (sort of – and even attend whether  I actually finish the book or not) and have read some seriously intense articles on the internet regarding marketing/business/philosophy/education/health/science/the list goes on…but never on politics, sailing or body-building – go figure.

I have been asked to proctor many exams as my main job is currently based in an extension of a University.  I recently was asked by a sweet young lady to help her with her midterm and exam which I was happy to do.

Then, came the instructions from her school in Canada…3 PAGES OF INSTRUCTIONS! This was serious. No online course from some obscure online program…uh, this meant I had to read everything…the problem was I had no idea what an invigilator was. I didn’t even know how to say it. Yet, there it was, in black and white, calling me names I’d never heard. The Invigilator. Being the good girl that I am I read all 3 pages. Usually when you don’t understand a word you can figure it out (most of the times) by the content of the paragraph so I knew it was referring to me – but still didn’t know how to pronounce it.

So natch – I went to my favorite website (inner nerd shout-out) Thesaurus.com to hear the animated female audio so I could learn the word. According to the 10 synonyms suggested to describe this word I fell under the category of 4, yes 4 okay maybe even 5 of them. And that’s being generous. As far as I know I am not a watchdog and was not eaves-dropping. I wasn’t listening, guiding or counseling. I was just monitoring. I am not an informant – well, unless you count the fact that I’d be informing the University that the exam was done under my eagle eye and would certainly tell them in the event of a water main break or natural disaster should that happen during  and interrupting the exam. Really? Yup, page 2 paragraph 4. 

Oh well. Usually the invigilator gets paid – I waived the fee since I am sitting here anyway and figured I could do 35 other things at the same (as all women can do). In fact, I gained something more than money – I gained knowledge. I learned a new word. A great word. A word I can not even imagine using ever again in any other context, nevertheless, it’s the small things in life that make me happy. Yes, me, The Invigilator!!

(by the way – WordPress picked up the word “invigilator” as misspelled and had no alternate spelling…just saying).

Superman, Batman, A Hero By Any Other Name

I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.
- Christopher Reeve 

Superman was/is great because he smiles while he saves the world, we see him as an everyday person and then turn to his alter ego when times are tough and the world needs saving. I know a few people who do this…some in their own small corner of the earth, some for the greater masses, some even wear tights.

My youngest is only 6 years old but he is my hero and I hope I am his. He makes me feel young every day and he makes me smile even when he acts naughty. Sure I get frustrated and upset like any other mom, when he doesn’t do what I ask for the hundredth time, or comes out of bed for the trillionth time…but like Christopher Reeve says…

batman1batman2

I am an ordinary individual. I often find strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. To each person ‘overwhelming obstacles’ means something different. (Ordinarily this is where I’d insert a typical comment about laundry and dishes). For my 6-year-old when he entered the kitchen demanding potatoes and heard they were still in the oven baking he was disappointed but didn’t put up a fight (though he did look serious), when I suggested a sandwich he endured this obstacle by accepting graciously.

I can think of a close sleep-deprived friend that fits this description of a hero. Even though that description fits most brand new mamas and papas, this one in particular hero seems like an ordinary individual who may not fully know it yet, but WILL persevere in spite of his most recent overwhelming obstacle. He is not a new papa, but recently he has to parent without his biggest support, without his best friend, without a partner to share the burden. When your world seemingly falls apart, again and again and again, each new piece of information can make or break you. When it does, you feel shattered into a thousand pieces.  In his most recent post describing his journey, he used a metaphor that was so realistic to something he might do I actually believed it. His writing was so descriptive about falling off a bike (something he HAS done in the past) I could visualize it and took in a deep breath when he was “going over the rocks” I was waiting for the crash, nervous but confident he kept maneuvering the handlebars in the direction he was meant to be in before being slammed into the inevitable obstacle that awaited him at the end of the ride. When I realized that it was a metaphor, I mean wow…I tend to crack jokes when things get heavy, sort of my coping mechanism, I hurt for him. It’s easier to connect to another person with a description of physical pain, but emotional sometimes is hard to get unless you’ve struggled with a similar experience. As he described lying there staring at the sky I remembered something that I wasn’t sure I was ever going to share, see I took a photo just for me to serve as a balm when I missed my friend,  but thought it was appropriate, if not now, when, huh?

sky

This hero-friend of mine was told story after story about his own hero after she left this world about all the amazingly wonderful people she thought of, helped, cared for, encouraged, visited, strengthened, loved and shared her life with. The day of her funeral was painful for everyone, it was the very first time I myself stood so close to a grave and placed a rock as is our custom on the fresh earth that now covered her.  It was the first time I looked up to catch my breath and felt a sense of relief. For watching cancer eat away the physical body is painful to witness, it was as if I had held my breath waiting for the ‘fall’ and when it finally did, the journey was over and I looked up above her grave and this is what I saw. The sky, bright and blue, the clearest day with an opening between the trees as if there in plain sight was the path for G-d to accept her soul, or our prayers, I don’t know for sure. But it’s okay to fall – it’s the ordinary individual who gets up and endures in spite of overwhelming obstacles. So I hope this message reaches my hero-friend. See, he is extraordinary, and this only means he’s an even bigger hero.

Note To Self: The Dishes Are Not The Enemy

Well, that’s what I kept telling myself. And, yet, there they sat. Taunting me with their hard, stuck on whatever-food from the night before, when I finally threw my hands up and said, “I’m done” and fled to the next level where sweatpants awaited me. 

Is it laziness? I really don’t think so, and yes, I AM being honest with myself.  Because: I often stay up later than I want to, straightening the couch cushions or sweeping up crumbs from the counter and dust from the floor. I look at a sink of dishes and cringe, I really hate it. I do, so much so, that I avoid them, only making things worse than they seem. People haphazardly tossing their plates and cups in there making a pile larger than it really is causes me a nervous habit of staring and turning away, staring and turning away. The ongoing inner struggle, I hate to look at it, yet I just don’t want to get all up in there. I am short so my belly always gets soaked by way of splashing water hitting a spoon placed the wrong way or by some ‘funny’ child switching the tap to shpritz mode. I agonize over it until I can’t handle it for a second any longer and then I give in, wishing I hadn’t avoided it, screaming inwardly -  why didn’t I just soak them!?!?!

dishes

So I start – and about 20 minutes later I am covered in suds, having stuck my hands in the mucky water to collect the bits of leftover food blocking the drain, gagging from the stench and my belly all drenched. So I head upstairs to change out of my gross clothing and realize, the dishes are not the enemy…the laundry is.