We live in interesting times. People are divided on a lot of issues. People are divided on who or what to believe in; and about what our immediate future will bring. Good people seem to be Not so good, and some not so good people seem to be doing some things that are working out to be somewhat […]
We live in interesting times. People are divided on a lot of issues. People are divided on who or what to believe in; and about what our immediate future will bring. Good people seem to be Not so good, and some not so good people seem to be doing some things that are working out to be somewhat good (for the moment)! It is no longer “Orange is the New Black,” it is now “Uncertainty is the New Normal.” And this can make us feel like there may be some Dark times ahead. So I am here to flip the switch on all of that! Shed some light on things we can do! Weigh all of our options.
Every day I turn on the news – and every day, someone I believed was an “admirable role model” is then bathed in the dirt of subcutaneous “dickery”. Take Matt Lauer (I admired his on-camera persona), Take Kevin Spacey (I admired his talent), Take Eric Schneiderman (I admired his message). Yet they have all shown me that I didn’t see the whole picture. Yes, some have said you can still admire those things in them – but can you? Being admirable should be a whole body experience – not just a segmented thing. Can you be admirable one day and abominable the next! I mean even Jekyll and Hyde the musical couldn’t sustain that dichotomy! Is this the true struggle between ego and superego? Are we the sum of our parts?
Unfortunately, I don’t think Mr. Schneiderman is the last abuser of power that we will hear about; but his staunch advocacy for the #MeToo movement makes his betrayal that much more visceral. We all seem to be waiting for another shoe to drop. That is where we are all living today. We can not predict what our leaders will do next, we can not predict what the next political fallout will be, we can not predict what the markets will react to, we can not predict who will be the next to fall from grace, and we can’t predict how this is affecting us personally. Things seem to be upside-down, topsy-turvy or just totally out of whack.
So what can we do! Well not to oversimplify, but we can look to for the lightness, the joy, the simple pleasures in all other areas of our day to day life. We can look to the light; because I wholeheartedly believe this ‘out of our purview’ life will ‘right’ itself soon enough.
Me, I am looking forward to the summer. My kids are home from college, and we are a whole family for a while! Whole is good. Whole is complete and Whole has stability. Whole is tasty (whole grains, whole wheat, whole milk), Whole is fiscally better (Whole Life Insurance) and Whole is inclusive (the Whole Magilla, The Whole World, and The Whole Truth). Whole is also how you feel when you can experience and process a full range of emotions. Take them in, learn from them and then smile bright – you’ve got the Whole ‘whatever you want’ in your hands!
I get it, it seems like a holistic approach. Maybe it is and maybe it’s not-and maybe there are some holes in my philosophy! Part of me is scared of the future, and part of me is ready for a change. And that is ok because some genius once said that “The Whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” So being whole will help Make Everything Great Again! The Whole is MEGA not maga!
Well, what can I say? I started this blog in May of 2011. For many reasons. To tell the good the bad and everything in between. For those who are just starting to follow, here is my recap.
It all started in college (my senior year). I got cancer (Hodgekins Disease). Had a surgery, stayed in Boston to have treatment, lost my hair. Lost a lot of weight. Felt pretty lonely but graduated college. Moved back home to NY. Got a job in the entertainment industry (a talent agent and personal manager). 6 yrs of my life total. The industry went on strike for 9 months. Ran out of money, took a job in the Apparel industry. Nicole Miller, Herbert Grossman Ent. ABS Suits (from assistant to President in 12 years). Got Ulcerative Colitis (side effect of radiation). Begin to gain weight. Met a guy, lost some weight, got married Had IVF (after treatment only way for me), Had twins. Gained a lot of weight. Worked part-time for a while. Had a few heart issues (side effect of treatment), decided to stay home with twins full time. Son had some hearing issues till he was 5, so delays in learning followed. Found out my daughter was dyslexic and had executive functioning issues. Even happier I stayed home. Gained some more weight. Fought tooth and nail with school district to help my children, a never-ending battle. A full-time battle. Dad has Parkinson’s and Mom gets cancer. Surgery to remove part of her jaw and palate and radiation. Lost some of the weight. She is superwomen – bounces back. I get Breast cancer (side effect from treatment), have chemo, Unlike most, I gain weight. I bounce back, lose some of the weight and get on with my life. Kids are freshmen in college, I am back on a diet, (down 12.6 lbs) from my highest. And now, you are pretty much up to date. What can I say; things WEIGH on me differently
So why now? What is it I want to talk about know? What is wrong? Let me dispell any health issues! I am healthy! I am not skinny, but I am not overweight either! I am, however, bored out of my mind. Not the reason I am writing this either. I am intelligent, funny, personable, reliable, intuitive, giving, relatable; all this and I have plenty of time on my hands. Jeez! Just looking at this I know what I prize I am! : 0. I made the decision it was time for me to go back to work. For many reasons; yes one is to keep me away from my refrigerator, but that is not in the top 10 reasons. I have so much experience to offer, but the first step is online now. I find it very difficult to show all that I am on the computer. HR people don’t even call back. It is definitely a challenge to present my 3 dimensionalities on a one-dimensional playing field. I laugh at these issues. I know I am a square peg trying to pixelate into a small screen, but I just want to be able to use my skills to help – in any way that is possible. I fear that on paper I seem unworthy. Or to worthy someone told me. Someone said to me once, “The problem is you are overqualified.” I laughed. She asked me why that is funny? My answer was, “Why wouldn’t you hire someone who has more than you need instead of hiring someone who has just enough of what you need?” I am 57 – I am not looking to climb the corporate ladder; unless I am climbing it with the person I work for. I am not looking for a career I am looking for a home….for the next 15 years at least….But, alas, I have had no luck so far. But like with cancer, I have no intention of giving up. I will find something.
But let me address the reason I am back writing! I love to write. I love to write about my thoughts and hopes! I love to write about lesson’s I have learned. I love to write about things that bother, concern, intrigue and affect me! I am an open book; and I am trying to write my story and maybe, even, help rewrite the next chapters (or change what may be to come). My husband and children are my muses. But the other day I read something posted by @Hilary_Gumbel. And this inspired me to write again,
I loved this because as I responded to the post, “knowing this and understanding this to be true is Perfection.” My life is far, far, far from perfect. And my goal is NOT to be perfect. My Perfect goal, however, is to be happy, healthy, (yes, skinny), and full of joy. I am not there yet. But I will persevere and eventually…
In the meantime, I hope you follow along on my journey. I do not know where I am going, or how I will get there. But I am sure the road will be paved with laughter, silliness, joy, heartache, sadness, and frustration. “life ain’t perfect, isn’t that perfect!”
To Israel and back, to camp and back, all in 10 days. The woes of a weary traveler. Well not really, just woes of a mother of teenagers I guess. But it was a quick test to see what (and if) I learned anything in Israel.
Wednesday morning we arrived home from our amazing and transformative trip. I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone…Especially my husband. Yes, Lori I went food shopping and prepared a glorious dinner and got myself dressed and everything. He was due to arrive home at 6:30, the kids were due to call from camp at 6:45 and the rest was up to us! I knew my husband was on the 5:40 train, and at 5:42 the phone rang…The Dr. at camp let me know that “While everything is going to be ok, my daughter has sustained a pretty sever concussion. They are observing her for an hour or so before she is sent of to the hospital for a CT scan. The Dr. goes over everything with me and I take copious notes so I know what I am talking about when my husband comes home.
My mind begins to race. That glorious dinner – out the window (metaphorically). My warm and happy to be home greeting from my husband….much less so! My thoughts begin to spin…”Really!” I think…”Couldn’t I at least get one day to re acclimate?” “Really, I get it that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…but Cancer twice, and a plethora of other things…AREN’T I STRONG ENOUGH?” I even thought with all that is going on in Israel right now, Ya had to pick on my little daughter too.?” All of this raced through my head. As it would have in the past….But then the miraculous happened….And Lori, this is major for me….
The phone rings at 6:15 and it is my Son Matt…Whose voice got so deep I didn’t even recognize it…And I said, Oh, you are calling so early, Dad isn’t even home yet…Will they let you call again? “No” I was happy to talk to him, and he had seen Alissa so he filled me in on how she was doing…but I felt terrible that Scott wouldn’t get a chance to talk to him. And the negative comes racing back through my mind.
I stopped and thought, Wow Thank God I was home, when this happened, and not in Israel. Thank God I am here to be able to take care of the details, and not my Husband (who is good, but I am still better at it). And thank God she is going to be okay…
And then Scott walks through the doors, and whoosh it is all gone again…”Hi Honey, I missed you….and I am sorry this s not going to be the welcome home you planned but…The camp called….And there went the evening…
Thursday we kept close touch with the camp, and there was little improvement…Friday, their was no word, so I was feeling uplifted. Off to the grocery store to get food for a nice dinner. I bought my Shabbat Candles, and picked up some fresh flowers…All set. When I got home I began to put everything away, and the phone rang Da DA Dum…Yes it was camp. The Dr. feels that it is hard for her to get the proper rest she needs to heal. So they feel it would be best if we came and got her for a few days (or a week). Really? The questions again began to swirl….She and her age group are supposed to be going to the west coast in a week, (what about that trip…and I am praying every day that she can go…all additional prayers welcome)…She had just sent a letter home that she tried out for all the sports teams and made them (and if you know Alissa that is HUGE- sports she is not). That is how this happened by the way, she was playing soccer against Camp Startlight – and got an elbow to the right forehead.
Anyway, I like any good mother, without a second thought, hopped in the car (leaving the food on the counter I might add) and drove 3 hours to get her. She got teary as we drove out of camp, slept most of the ride home. She has some time to be home, no TV, No Phone, No internet, and No reading (this one doesn’t upset her at all). But, and here Lori, is what brought it all home.
I walked into her room this morning, and watched her as she slept, and thought “THANK GOD, you are home safe with me and you will be okay…I am thankful that I can and did drive up to get you…because I see and believe that everything will be ok! Family is my center of being… Oh yeah I also prayed she should heal quickly so she can get back to camp! 🙂
Transform and Grow, Lori…I get it!
The trip of a lifetime has come to an end. We came to Israel 9 days ago as aquaintancs and left as sisters. The last day was more alt saying good-bye and wrapping up the lessons of the week, which was fine. The final dinner…skits by each city and scenery proved to be touching, sad, and funny…Saying good bye was such sweet sorrow….Some of you I will see ‘morrow!
Of to Tel-aviv a group went. Some went on their own, a few went with the “extension (something that JWRP and GoINSPIRE really need think about — and maybe revamp). Tel-aviv was the polar opposite of Jerusalem. Modern, and filled with the hustle bustle of a metropolitan city….sprinkled with a little “jersey boardwalk vibe!” We Seqwayed around, visited the Blind exhibit at the Children’s Museum, walked around The Tel-avi port and had dinner. We had hoped to make to Old Jaffa but “travel Warnings” prevented us.
It was a small taste of what the Israeli’s live with daily. While at dinner the siren’s sounded, and by the time we headed toward the shelters the all clear was sounded. And life don’t skip a beat. The beaches were filled the roller bladders were back…as were the people walking. It is not a way to live….My days in Israel were filled with wonderful moments….The ending will be put in a place that will not mar any of that.
ISRAEL, should be a must on everyones’ bucket list….Oh and by the way in the land of the Israeli Salad and healthy eating…I still managed to gain 5 lbs….
Enjoy today…Live life…Dream big…love fully!!!!
That is what I take away…and I am so happy about it.
A day filled with Heartache, Gratitude and Thankful after our 3 activities today!
YAD VASHEM! I believe that is enough said..
Next we brought gifts to the Soldiers. eWe told them how grateful we were for their efforts keeping us all secure and safe. They were 18 and 19…looking at them I realize they are not that much older than my children…A little surreal!
Last was a visit to a home for Disadvantage children. Here though we saw happiness. These children have been saved from terrible home lives, and brought to this wonderful facility where they are cared for and loved….
All in all a special day of emotions…
Ok let me start by admitting that prior to this trip I have never been to a Shabbat Dinner…Or a Shabbat anything for that matter… oh wait I did go to Friday night Services the night before my kids B’nei Mitzvah… But that covers it for my 52 years. So let me say that Shabbat in Jerusalem, in the Old City, is probably the most super charged version of Shabbat there is! It is probably on a whole new level.
Our morning sessions ended around 1. And that gave us a few hours break before the big. Event. While we shopped we made notice of the crowded vendors. Everyone gathering whatever. They needed. Because this city Shuts down after sunset! And stays shut until a. The following sundown.
At 6:00 we were back at the Aish building getting ready for our evening. It started with. A concert. Onto the stage walked a Satmar in full garb (Black long coat, Black fur hat). My initial response…Oy klezmer music…but then Rabbi Yom Tov starts rocking out to “Carry on my wayward son”. Then a little Crosby, Stills Nash and Young….and he was AWESOME. A funny side note: a group of young South African Aish Students were sitting behind us. As Rabbi Yom Tov started to sing Kansas’ Carry on my wayward son…one young man said to the other “Thank G-d for Guitar Hero. Otherwise I would never have known this song.” Ah, youth! Any Rabbi Yom Tov was just awesome…he sang Shabbat and Rock songs for an Hour…and got us ready to Take in Shabbat! You should all google Him – I don’t think my words will describe him well enough…he certainly is not the Tailor Motel Tem Zoyle… he is the Rocker Yom Tov!
Then we (all 200 hundred of us) headed to the Kotel to Dance and Sing in Shabbat. Our spirit was infectious. So much so that. The Birthright and Tallit groups joined in with our group. Not visa versa. see kids your mom’s are groovy! It was joyous and infectious and delicious!
Saturday morning was really on the top of my mornings. mainly because we were able to sleep in. The day was filled with lectures. Lori Palatnik spoke Jewish Values…frankly she said many wonderful and interesting things… But one of my favorites was “If a reason you had children is for “what they can do for you…you might as well get an English Butler…it will be cheaper”. Her talks are always laced with humor…truth but still funny. And then she introduced Rabbi Gabriel Friedman who talked to us 2x during the day… One about Shabbat and what is all about….and the other more focused on how Judaism can play a role in your life. Anyway talk about a funny guy. Take Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, and jimmy Fallon…mix them up…through on a suit and pais’….and you have him. His lectures were jammed packed and truly engaging.
After we were invited into homes for Shabbat lunch…then Shabbat dinner was in the home of Pamela and Aba Claman…so many world leaders of all types have been hosted by them. They are truly givers. They give of themselves to make the world better and frankly this Elizabeth Taylor looking women and Harrison Ford looking man are truly givers and inspirational.
The evening ended with a Havdallah service on their spectacular villa rooftop…overlooking the old city..a breathtaking view to end a. Glorious day!
What more is there to say except I hope you all had a good Shabbat. And if not, there is always next week!
If you get the chance google the Rabbi’s and see what I am talking about.
Last night I was totally exhausted. After a raw and emotional day we ended it with a real spiritual and amazing event. I, along with 11 of my “Rockland” group sisters got Bat Mitzvahed. We have our city leaders Chaya, LEah and Betty to thank for that. It was moving and heartfelt! And truly connected us – even more so that we already felt….Last night was also the first time I got a more than 3 hours of sleep and that was my Bat Mitzvah gift to myself.
Today, was really the opposite of yesterday in some ways. It was filled with real laughter and joy, and learning, and laughing again. Culminating in a Drum Circle under a tent! Okay I moved so quickly through today – sorry, let me backtrack. At 7 a.m. we boarded the buses and headed to the south to do some Camel Riding…Really we were a bunch of school girls laughing, and screaming at the experience.
After receiving out camel-riding permits, we board the bus for some good old fashion mountain climbing. To the top of Masada we went (Truthfully it wsa close to 100 Degrees so we actually took the cable car) but even walking on top was hot. But seeing this place really was impressive. This is a place with true significance to the Israelie’s and to Jews. Pondering the question of how the Jews died on this Temple Mount?
After Masada it was time for some good old fashion Mud Slinging…Well Dead Sea Mud that is. We went to the Dead Sea and floated around with mud covering us. The water was warmer than warm, salty and envigerating. Though getting cleaned up after that was not easy task.
We then met all the other groups for dinner. An Israeli Bar-B-Que – Delicious by the way – and it all ended with us dancing and singing and just really enjoying each other. THis entire trip is a blessing and I have all of my sister’s on the trip and our leaders and the JWRP to thank for it….Transforming and growing….Yes I am!
Today was a day of Raw emotion. Today we got the chance to visit the Aish Building. A magnificent structure perched just above the Kotel (The Western Wall). We started the day listening to Lori describe different kind of personalities…And Lori… I am pretty sure that I am a Bracha TOV..
I must admit that I thought I would not be as into all of these lectures (before I came on the trip)…But I have hung on every word so far..After our morning meeting, we were given an opportunity to meet women who have made the decision to move to Israel and raise their families here. The explained their reasons and told us about their lives and how “content they are” It was a lovely morning.
But after lunch is when I felt like I peeled off all of my outer layers and exposed my raw emotions . And it came up on me without any warning. We walked from Aish to the Kotel. I had a bag of notes to stick into the cracks…which were already dripping with notes. But luckily I found some spaces to place them. Then I placed my hand on the wall, and thought. Thought about my Dad, about my sister-in-law, about friends and family….and from deep down, the tears began to fall. They were not sad tears…The were tears of enlightenment! Not Shiedel and long skirt forever type of enlightenment…But “Wow” I really do feel connected to somehting….kind of enlightenment. And it was awesome.
After we went and toured the old city. A place that has seen destruction and rejuvenation, disaster and delight…And for a moment I felt the glory of being in israel. It was a day of nonstop events. The Tunnel Tour was unbelievabel. As was our Tour Guide ETON. He was interesting and passionate…and kept us interested. Which let me tell you was hard. WE have been going for nearly 72 hours on a very little amount of sleep. The emotions of being there filled me with such joy, such saddness, such elation and such wonder. I felt many things there. I felt my Dad, Steven and Sharon, and most of all something I never felt before — a new connection, an additional connection…I will cherish every minute of it
For all of you that know me, “a lack of words is not something I have ever suffered from. Frankly, I once had a larynx issue and went to a specialist. After observing my vocal chords he had this to say. “Well you have nodes, and they can be caused by 2 things…the first is you talk to much….” At that point I said “Stop right there…no need to go further – that is true!” So when at the end of my second I realized I don’t know if I had the words to describe what I am feeling and what I am experiencing, but because I am a talker…I will give it a whirl!
Today was a totally enthralling day! And I don’t even think that that does it justice. After a few hours of much needed sleep, we awoke, had breakfast, and went to our first morning meeting! We started by listening to Lori Palatnik talk about marriage. She regaled us with stories that explained ( and joked) about the importance the marriage relationship played in the “jewish religion,” What can I say — who knew! But certainly has given me plenty of food for thought…Let me just say…I will be wearing more lipstick in the future…Lori, My husband says thank you; and he doesn’t even know why yet!
Next we were off to the mystical city of Tsfat. It is where the study of Kaballah was started. We had the opportunity to visit a synagogue and shopping,. But the most moving part of the day came from a visit that surprised me! We got the chance to visit the Tsfat MIkvah! Who would have known how moving this could be! They explained away what and why a mikkvah is so important, and that was great. But it was when we got a demonstration from Susan that I felt the importance. She did her schpiel and then we were all supposed to say a prayer and pray for renewal…I prayed for my sister-in-law (Robin) , I prayed for happiness for everyone I know and I just prayed for the ability to take some of this into my heart! And the most shocking reaction…after I prayed I cried…I believe it was sheer joy of connecting to the moment, but what ever it was…I was touched.
After that it was time to enjoy and laugh. Off to Kafer Bloom and kayaking… Our boat (Vicki, Chaya and I) laughed and sang songs, and just had an absolute blast….Mixing the spiritual with the physical was great…it was truly a whole body experience. (one we will definitely be feeling tomorrow)
The evening ended at the ADIR Winery. We sat with people we didn’t know, to force use to meet others. This was a lovely idea. I met people from Boston, Indianapolis, Columbus, Norfolk, Rochester and New Jersey. We shared stories about what got us here!
At the end of the day I was all to aware that the message her is..”We women, we have the power to help change our lives and maybe (if lucky) even our world….Simply by trying to create a “greater home life” I for one am willing to give it a try!
#Jewih Women’sRenaissance Program
aToday was a day filled with unimaginable beauty, history, delicacies, bonding and Sorrow. But in the end 200 MOm’s stood arm in arm singing and feeling for the three Mom’s who today learned the worst news. But we stood together, and acknowledged that together we stand and hopefully together we can affect change. Change as Lori Palatnik said will raise us up and make us better…and don’t we all want that!
Today began (well that is taking poetic license) with a trip to the Mediterreanean Sea, were we got the chance to “put our toes in the water!” The setting amidst ancient ruins of aqueducts, teased us with blue waters and white sand beaches. After this “baptism” if you will…we reboarded our bus and headed to Zichron Jaacov. A truly quaint little “artsy town, and restaurants to brilliantly introduce our stomach to the Israeli cuisine… Nili’s was a sweet little lunch spot where we sat en mass, enjoyed, laughed and bonded. Ten hours on a plan and 4 on a bus certainly brings people together!
Then we were off to the hotel in Tiberias. A beautiful little town edged on the Galilee…and faced with the Golan Heights. Here we met up with all of the other cities, and the leaders for an opening night presentation and then To DECKS for Dinner. Our Leader and Founder of JWRP, Lori Palatnik dazzled us with her welcome speech…She spoke of the need for women to “raise the bar”! To be better, happier — And she meant it….She was dynamic and funny…and I for one was truly drawn in by what she had to say.
DECKS was an incredible setting a large outside restaurant on the Galilee…we ate and enjoyed and hoped to dance and celebrate…As dinner drew to an end phones began to beep…CNN had just reported that the bodies of the 3 boys who disappeared a month had been found. Unfortunately they were not found alive…Tears swept through the restaurants. Israel is a small country, and frankly these three children belonged to everyone. As a group we joined together – arm in arm and began to sing songs – and pray for the boys souls and Our deep sorrow for their families….
It was a moving tribute – and one so obviously heartfelt. It really illustrated that this tour, this group, these leaders are really really making an effort (1 women’s or men’s group at a time) to make this world a better place. And I for one am all for that!!
Enjoy the day.
I can’t even describe my excitement. I leave in less than 38 hours….Frankly, I haven’t been able to spend much time savoring my impending departure because my children leave for camp in the morning. So I have been busy getting them ready! But after they leave tomorrow I will begin the countdown.
As I began to pack I came across my little bag of wishes — Notes people have given me touring to the Wall, and find a home for them so that they can permeate into the essence, mysticism and the magic that everyone says they feel after partaking in this ritual. Even I sat down and wrote some notes….I wrote notes about (and to) my husband and kids, I wrote to my dad, I wrote about my brothers, and brothers-in-law, sister-in-laws, relatives, friends, MY MOM, I even wrote to my mother-in-law. But Mostly I wrote to the Man Upstairs himself….I wrote wishes and asked questions, and generally asked for a better world for our children and their children….
I even asked HIM to watch out for my husband while I am gone. He is Mr. Independent and thrilled I am on this journey but, I think deep down…he will miss me…and wish the house wasn’t so quiet!!! I know it isn’t for that long! So all my friends who feel like checking in on him…Be my guest. 🙂
Everyone, and I mean everyone, tells me this will be an experience that I will never forget…and one that I will want to repeat over and over….I am ready for that..
To the women who are coming on this journey with me….Hold on! I am expecting the ride of a lifetime….
See you Sunday!
I feel like a girl about to meet her celebrity crush> Every day I wake up thinking of what is to come…and in just 20 days! Friday evening I went to temple to receive a blessing for my upcoming trip. It was a “family service” filled with children of all ages. The little kindergarten and first graders were an absolute delight. Their eyes bright and filled with hope of a future they can’t even imagine (Thought they are sure it is filled with candy and goodies). Then, they called those traveling to Israel. That was the college students leaving the next day along with Vicky (my friend and roommate on the trip) and I. I must say, I was overjoyed to be in the company of these “young ins”. To think we are about to embark on the same journey! We maybe not the same…but you know what I am saying.
Anyway, the blessing was short and the Rabbi explained the purpose of it…and shockingly, I felt touched by it…It has just added to my feeling that I am about to walk the same path as so many before me…and absorb the lessons each footstep left behind….To say I am eager would be an understatement.
To top the weekend off, Sunday we got the chance to meet the entire group (from this area that is – their will be about 200 of us total). And we watched a video about Israel, and talked with other women who have been so many times before.
I am on the edge of my seat!
I can’t wait to share it alap with you!
Wow, what can I say, the last year has been filled to the brim. I have experienced good and bad, Joy and sorrow, positive and negative events, love and disinterest….and I still wake up every morning believing it will be a great day. Ok not always…but mostly.
Last summer we a new addition join our household….Nelly, the Tibetan Terrier. She has brought such joy and craziness – but no complaints. I never owned a dog before…It really is life changing.
I have been luckier than some, I am still show no signs of a relapse…I have again lost dear friends to this brutal terrorist called “cancer”. So every day I count my blessings, while simultaneously feeling a twinge of “survivors guilt.” All natural I am told. My journey’s brought me to a new mindset. One that teaches me that I must take every opportunity to enjoy life that I can. Don’t just say you want to do something..Do it! And This summer I am doing just that!
In September I applied to join 200 women from all over to take a journey of a life time. I will be going on a trip to Israel. A place I have always wanted to visit. I was not brought up in an observant home, yet since I was a child I have heard that this trip is transformative…and I am told that the majesty of this trip is not felt just by Jews. Israel is the HOLY maternity ward to Christianity, and Islam (I think…don’t quote me on that one).
This trip is meant to give us a connection to Israel first and foremost. To teach us our history, and explain some of our customs. Generally to really get in touch with our roots.
Anyway, like my journey through chemo, I thought I would share my experiences with you. I leave in a months time, so you will be hearing from me sporadically before then…
Just know that while The Cancer Made Me Do the last blog…I will continue under the same name… Cause you gotta know that The Cancer had something to do with this also.
I will find the humor, the laughs, the the touching, the spiritual moments…and share them with you all!
As Carol Ann said in Poltergiest….
So sit back. relax, and enjoy the Blog!
Angelina Jolie has brought Breast Cancer to the fore front. Oh wait, it already was in the fore front of “cancers”. What I meant to say is that she has brought Double Mastectomy’s to the fore front of Cancer treatments. Oh wait they were already the primary part of treatment for most aggressive Breast Cancers. I guess that is the Catch 22 of Celebrity….It seems she’s been given credit for what thousands and thousands of others have done before her. And I am not even sure she wants any of it.
She seems to have shed light on a subject that already has spotlights on it…The media has called her for her heroic, and Brave and many other adjectives that don’t really capture the true essence of what she has done….and that is, that she has made LIVING HER PRIORITY!!!! And that is to be commended. What she has done, and I what applaud her for, is how she did all of this, and how she has chosen to tell the world. After the fact. And her explanation was brief, and reasonable, and SMART!
Ms. Jolie was presented with “Life Choices”; the facts about her future and how they can (and probably would) affect her quality of life down the road. Then she intelligently, thoughtfully and prudently decided to have a surgery that can be very traumatic for a women. especially one so stunning and waist deep in the “appearance business”. I am not belittling her decision in any way! Having been there, done that…I am glad that she is showing the world that this procedure is not an end to “womanhood”, but quite the opposite. It is a call to arms, against a disease that tries to rob us of that same feminine exuberance which fuels our desire to remain the force of nature we have become. And for that Angie…I thank you…
I think back to a few years ago…Different from Ms. Jolie, I didn’t have a the same decision to make as she did, well not completely. I could have had a single mastectomy…But the odds that I would be back for the second where, frankly, to great (40-60%)…So I threw caution to the wind and went for the full treatment. Many I have spoken were to worried to do both. Amongst those that I know, I am saddened to say a larger % have had to go back to remove the second breast as well. I know that is not exciting news to hear…But I will say that many of those women wished they had done the dDouble the first time around.
We survivors are all “Beautiful women”…just like Angelina Jolie, and with this surgery she had, we will certainly be keeping “abreast” of her situation for a lot longer…
Angie, I wish you all the best!
Sometimes firsts are good. The first time you ride a bike, the first time you eat ice cream, the first kiss, the first kid (just kidding both of my kids are terrific). Firsts are meant to be moments that you will always remember. But honestly, some firsts you just want to forget.
This is what I am feeling today. Tomorrow is my father’s birthday. He came so close to making it to 85. His death in October was surrounded by such craziness, that I am not sure anytime was really given for grieving. I mean we mourned, but so much went on in just a few short days of his death that all of those extra emotions kind of got lost in the hubbub.
At the end of September we planned moving my parents to Florida. Nov. 5 was picked. Flights were booked, movers were scheduled…and the packing was able to begin. The process was physically daunting, but even more so emotionally. My Father was already beginning his final decline (though we weren’t as steep his decline was). I am sure he was able to register what was happening, and I believe it caused him to withdraw into himself even more. Many have said he didn’t want to go to Florida…Maybe they were right! He died on Oct. 21, and the moment the “Shiva” ended, we were hit with Hurricane Sandy; which didn’t even stop the packing and moving process. Nov. 5 we were on that plan, and off to start a new chapter in my Mom’s life.
My mom and I were speaking earlier. We speak both talk him all the time, and today my mom said, “but he doesn’t answer.” Which made me realize something. He certainly does answer. He has allowed you to Segway into this new, exciting and privileged chapter of you life, without the heartache of feeling guilty (and you don’t have anything to feel guilty about). This is his parting gift to you, the woman he loved for over 60 years. Be happy and enjoy he says…without ever uttering a word. You and the children deserve it!!!!
So I guess this first birthday with out you dad is also a memory…Know that I wish you here with us…But every day you are thought of fondly, and cherished even more….
Happy Birthday Dad….
Hope…What an incredible word. It is what holds us in anticipation, and it is what can spark your individual greatness from within. It is always looking forward at the possibilities, and cannot be held back in the past. You hope for the future, you look back at your past.
Cancer has taught me a lot about hope. Of course there is the obvious things to hope for. I hope I get better, I hope my treatments are not “horrific”, I hope I make it long enough to see my children grow up (that was a big one this second time around), I hope I don’t get sick again, and finally, I hope that I not only get better…but I also hope that I don’t get bogged down by the ramifications of being “afflicted twice”.
Hope is what I wake up with every morning. Some of my hopes are whimsical and shallow. And that is okay. While it would be great if those hopes were achieved sometimes, I don’t hold my breath for those. – rather, I enjoy the frivolity of the hoping. You know those thoughts…”I hope I can lose 30 pound by Friday”, or “I hope I can eat this gallon of ice cream and still fit into my jeans tomorrow”, and of course, I hope to have the chance to meet Hugh Lurie, Hugh Jackman and Zac brown, because I am a huge fan. These are delicious little nuggets that help me smile on days that aren’t always filled with smiles.
Then I have hopes that aren’t necessarily about me, but are about my family. These are ones that really affect my emotions. Because these are things I hope for my children, my Husband, my brothers and sister-n-laws, my nieces and cousins, my friends. I want, no I hope, for them way more than I hope for myself. My hopes for them are lofty and rich. I hope for them to get what they want, because I hope they will always be happy. I know that it is important not to always get what you want, but I am a mother first. And I hope, all the time, I can take away any pain or sorrow my children go through. But I can’t always do that. But I am aware that my children also have there own frivioulous hopes…And I encourage them…I think these are what is meant by “Hope springs eternal”…
My daughter, for example, hopes to be a star. Her hopes don’t have a pathway to achieve this, or a definite area in which she chooses to become a star…She just hopes for stardom…and I hope she becomes one as well. Though, she has no definitive pathway as to what type of “star” she wants to become…her hopes are lovely and endearing (and not unlike many teenage girls), and I hope to help her head that way (though honestly, I hope she finds another hope as she gets older).
My son hopes for more simple things. New videogames, to be better at certain sports, and his biggest hope is that he never has to do homework again. But of course this last one is not gonna happen. But he can always Hope.
My mother, well I think she hoped that she would be okay when she moved away. Well we were there this week, and boy she is okay. She has a brightness and lightness to her spirit. One which I haven’t seen in so long. Her melancholy is present, but is being trimmed with hope that her next stage in life will have joy and adventure.
So I guess I just hope all of those I love to get what they hope for. Because then I get what I hope for. Who could hope for more!
Recently, my kids and I were talking about the show “The Biggest Loser”. There was a commercial clip on showing Jillian screaming at one of the contestants. I said, “wow she seems so mean, how can that be motivating.” I was sure my children would agree with me (since they are forever telling me I’m a yeller, and it definitely isn’t motivating for them). But, yet again, my kids surprised me. My daughter said, “Mom what she is doing is changing their lives. She is helping them get better for their kids and that is a good thing….you just yell about homework and stuff. Totally different!” Matt said, “having to answer to someone all the time is good for you when you are trying to change something about yourself.” And while I wanted to tell them that cleaning their room or doing homework, or even being true to yourself are also good ways to change something about yourself…But I thought better of it!
It did get me thinking, however, is being accountable for our own actions and being true to ourselves the same thing?. For example, I was on Facebook the other day….just roaming through to see what people (“friends”) have posted…I like to go on a few times a week and check-in. There are always the same 3 “friends” that post 20x times a day. No exaggeration…If I were being true to myself, I would send them a message saying, “99% of the stuff you say is absolute drivel. Why do I need to hear that your dog is tired, or you were tired after taking her for a walk, or that I should be Happy because it is Sunday, Bitches!” Really, what is the purpose of that? But, I am accountable for these words, and I realize they seem harsh and uncalled for (though true).
These Facebook dwellers live their private life in this public venue but instead of being angry at them, I should feel more sympathetic towards them…I guess it is a modern day depiction of Shakespeare’s soliloquy in Macbeth…
…Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)
Accountability is something I struggle with. I believe it has a much-needed place in our daily lives, but often gets over looked. Should we be true to our self or accountable to others? Are they mutually exclusive? In being true to myself as of late, I realize that I need to be more accountable to others for things. Which brings me to my latest project. And back to The Biggest Loser for a second. Since being sick, I have struggled with my weight. And weekly I became more and more unhappy with the fact that as disgusted with my weight problems as I am, I have no one to blame but myself. I have avoided the gym, I had given up on “healthy eating”, and I had found every possible excuse to let myself get this way. I need to be accountable for that if not to myself then to someone I believe can help me. So I have joined a group of 28 others on this journey. I officially start Monday, but I am getting myself ready this week. For the next 8 weeks, I have to answer to 7 other team members’ about what I eat, and how many times I work out, and how hard I work out and yes, even what I weigh. I need to prove weekly that I am committed to this and to the team. There are 4 teams pitted against each other, and I need to pull my weight (metaphorically and physically). …And while this is not the televised version, the benefits can only make me feel like a star.
So I have chosen to use my accountability for Good instead of Evil…Personal growth instead of Public ridicule…I will keep you all filled in. And while my blog may appear on Facebook….My weight never will!
Go team Black….