Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year's Musings and Memories

Before the clock strikes midnight on 2009, I want to take one last look back at some New Year's memories....

-- Toasting the new year with ice cream sundaes and ginger ale with my kids. Early in the day, we would go to the grocery store and everyone would get their favorite flavor of ice cream or frozen yogurt, plus toppings, sauces, sprinkles and of course, whipped cream. We would pull out the sofa bed in the living room and watch the old year count down...and then at about 10 minutes to midnight, everyone would make their sundaes, pour glasses of ginger ale and run back to the living room to wait for the big moment. At exactly the turn of New Year's Day, we would toast with ginger ale and start eating the sundaes.

-- Going all the way back to high school, and the few years after...the annual New Year's eve party...the one night I could stay out past curfew. Knowing that every year, we would all be together to celebrate...seeing people I had known for years (some since elementary school.)

-- Going back even further...a couple of childhood trips to New York City to watch the ball drop in Times Square. I know it must have been cold, but all I remember is the excitement and the fun of being THERE, where the New Year really seemed to start.

This year, I will be at a friend's house for New year's eve. My fiance will be there. My oldest daughter will be there. My little one will be at her friend's house. My son will be up north. But I'm thinking...maybe I will go get some frozen yogurt and toppings to eat when I watch the ball drop. Just for old time's sake.

Happy New Year everyone! May the best of previous years be even better, and the worst soon a distant memory!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The return of Anam Cara

About a year and half ago, I wrote a post about the meaning of Anam Cara...soul friends.

Over the past few years, I've gone through some dark times. Times when I was so lonely I thought the pain of it would break me. Stress. Loss.

But I look around me now, and I see that despite all of that, I have built a life where I have good friends...and some of these people I did not know four years ago are Anam Cara.

These are handful of men and women who have become a part of the very fabric of my life. I cannot image NOT knowing them. How do I know they are Anam Cara?

When they arrive at a party or show up at the restaurant where we are meeting, the room seems brighter and warmer and friendlier. I like seeing their number come up on my phone and hearing their voice on the other end of a call.

These are people who would listen to a concern and genuinely care that I was hurting -- and they are the first to rejoice when something good happens to me. They share their fears and hurts and joys with me, too, knowing that I really do care. We matter to each other in ways that casual acquaintances just cannot. I can let them see the "real me" without fear, and I know that they trust me with their own genuine selves.

The hug is real, the "how are you" is sincere and the smile they offer when we meet in genuine.

So on the cusp of the New Year, I want to say thank you to these special people in my life. My family-by-choice. My Anam Cara.

(Image from Elfwood by Lydia Thomas)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A literary MEME!

From Book Group Buzz

A meme! A meme! Do you want to play? Tag, you’re it.

1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?
2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?
3. What book did everyone like and you hated? (Or the other way around?)
4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
5. Which book are you saving for “retirement?”
6. Last page: read it first or wait til the end?
7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
8. Which book character would you switch places with? .
9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)?
10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.
11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?
12. Which book has been with you to the most places?
13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later?
14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?
15. Used or brand new?
16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses?
17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?
18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid?
19. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Some quotes on love and art


For those of us who had to go through a few toads before finding our prince....

Lucky is the man who is the first love of a woman,
but luckier is the woman who is the last love of a man.
~ Unknown ~

We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.
~ Agnes Repplier ~


All art requires courage.
~Anne Tucker ~

When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college - that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, "You mean they forget?"
~ Howard Ikemoto ~

Art disturbs, science reassures.
~ Georges Braque ~, Le Jour et la nuit

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Those who seek to control: love of power or an expression of fear?

We've all met some of these people.

No matter what you're doing, they will always tell you how to do it better.

Or what you're doing wrong.

Or what actions you should be taking that you are not.

It doesn't matter if it's a task you've been doing successfully for years, or the dress you just bought for the company dinner, or the way you've arranged your furniture. I'm not talking about someone with a specialized area of knowledge who is passionate about sharing it. These are the generalists, who would appear to know most everything about, well, everything!

They are right there offering "helpful" suggestions. Put this here, get this instead, do it this way. These aren't the mean tyrants who scream and swear and demand. These are the people who always believe that you are in need of their help to avoid a potentially disastrous result. Their "suggestions" are phrased so carefully, that you might not see them for the control efforts they are. But here are some clues...

1) The suggestions are made when you have not asked for them, nor are you expressing any distress, uncertainty or doubt about what you are doing

2) The suggestions make you feel that you must say "Thank you," even when you would rather say "Stop!"

3) The suggestions are made across of a variety of situations, from car troubles to hairstyle to classes for your kids. In fact, there seems to be no area in which they do not have something to say.

4) Hearing the suggestions makes you feel less capable, less certain or makes you feel that you must at least consider whatever they say lest they be offended.

5) They offer suggestions to nearly, friends, your friends, strangers on the subway -- even career professionals like doctors, lawyers and others they may have hired.

And while these chronically helpful people come across as meaning well, the phrase "The path to hell is paved with good intentions" truly applies to them.

So is it a love of power? Sometimes, probably. But mostly it's fear. Self-doubt.

In most cases, these controlling people have lives that are out of control. Their own children are in trouble at school, but they are ready with advice about your parenting. They need to loose 50 pounds, but they can tell you what diet you need to follow. Their yard is a mass of weeds, but they will suggest where and what you should plant in your own garden.

So what do you do? They aren't acting out of malice, after all. But the effect can be damaging to us. Try this:

Next time you are on the receiving end of one of their "helpful" comments, say firmly but kindly that favorite-phrase of 4 year-olds everywhere:

"No thank you, I can do it myself."

And despite what they may tell you, know that you really can.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

On books and bookshelves

I've been moving my books to new bookshelves, in a new location.

Shouldn't make much difference. Shouldn't be a big deal. Still the same books, right?

But it is making a BIG difference. And I am discovering it is more of a process that a simple relocation of objects.

First, there is the removing them from the old shelves. I can't just take them off and stick them into boxes. I need to look at each one...maybe read a line or two. Remember where I got it, or who gave it to me, or what I thought about the book.

Then there is a keep or release decision to make. I have a big bag of books ready to meet new readers sometime soon. Books I read, and liked, but which seem ready to move on.

There are the books that must remain accessible and with me until the last minute. They cannot occupy a new home until I do. These books sit now, on dusty shelves with only the odd bits of paper or small treasures for company. These are the books I would take with me, if I was forced to travel light.

I am moving the books a few reusable shopping bags at a time. Boxes are too heavy and awkward for the stairs I must go down to get to my car. I find that I pick and choose as I fill the bags, as though there needs to be a relationship between the books in each.

And then when the books arrive at their new home (my soon-to-be new home), they must be placed on shelves. Another moment to look at each.

I am trying not to arrange them yet, except where size dictates a certain shelf. Big decorating books on the bottom. Paperbacks just fit into that narrow shelf.

I will arrange them on a rainy day when they have all been moved. For now, Judaica rubs elbows with physics, and mysteries sit side-by-side with a graphic novel and a book on raising ethical children.

The first two bookcases are full now. These tall black shelves stand a full foot or so higher than my old battle-scarred Bauder bookcases purchased years ago and in another state. The new shelves make the books look different. The colors of the bindings are more noticeable. The patterns they make fascinate me. I look at them, remember the travels some of these books have made, from one side of the country to the other and back again, and realize that there is almost as much to read on the outside of these books as in their pages.

I haven't moved my clothes yet. Or my furniture or my dishes or the toys. My antiques and my scrapbooking supplies still occupy their old spaces.

The books are the first to make the journey and stake out my place in a new home. And that precious few that remain on old shelves will be the last to go with me as I turn the key for the last time on my old space. Books as bookends to a new life...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The mad rush from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve

Okay, the feasts have been eaten, the relatives have arrived and departed, and what passes for Black Friday 2009 has come and gone.

And now the race is on, through Hanukkah and Christmas and Kwanzaa to New Year's Eve. Gifts are being ordered and sent or purchased and wrapped. Decorations are going up. And party plans are being made. And before you know it, the big ball in Times Square will be making its drop into 2010.

Before 2009 bows out, can we just take a minute and stop? Just a minute here and there to:

Notice the way an ice-covered twig or branch looks in the morning light

Take a deep breath of the scent of baking cookies and think back to memories of that same tantalizing smell from childhood

Go for a walk and leave the iPod at home. Listen to the sound of boots on the snow or the crash of waves on the beach or the laughter of kids on a playground

Call an old friend from school and trade memories of the silly things you did and thought back then

Stand still and look at a frozen pond at sunset, the winter woods in the middle of the day or a tree moving in the wind. Really see, not with your mind on shopping lists or guest counts, but on the beauty right there in front of you

Make a nice meal for two and take it to a homeless person. Sit down with them, and hear their story while you share the food you made.

Wake up early and watch the light change in your bedroom as the sun rises. Look at the colors, the shadows, the effect on things in your room, as each item is illuminated

2009 is almost gone. It will never return. Instead of rushing madly, blindly into 2010, make the remaining month of this year really count. Happy December.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I'm going to DisneyWorld!

No, I didn't win the Super Bowl or the World Series. So why do I sound like one of those Gatorade-drenched sports guys?

Cause I AM going to Disney World! The Magic Kingdom. Maybe Disney Studios. And then to Universal. We are doing the whole Orlando tourist bit. :-)

My parents took me to Disney World opening week. And they tell me that when we arrived at the gates of the Magic Kingdom, I just stood there and froze. I did not believe it was real. They had to physically move me past the gates!

Now, lots of years later, when FastPasses have replaced E-tickets, and the lone Magic Kingdom has been joined by three other parks, and instead of going with my parents, I go AS a parent, I am just as excited as I was as a little girl on that very first visit.

My kids tease me about me still being a little kid. I respond by holding up four fingers and confirming that I am indeed, "This many." Going back to Disney World gives me a chance to once again be that little girl who stood amazed at the front gates of a magical kingdom.

So if you happen to be going into WDW in a couple of weeks, and you see a woman standing in front of the main gates to the Magic Kingdom, just staring in amazement, you'll know I've made it back. Sometimes it's great to be "This many."

Monday, 5 October 2009

Loving a person vs looking for a clone

Open letter to a friend:

The question was about love, and loving someone who was, in some ways, your perfect match, and in other ways, very different from yourself.

You love her, and yet you ended the relationship because she did not share all of your beliefs. You admit that it was the best relationship you've ever had, or believe you ever will have, and yet, you said goodbye?

I'm afraid you're confusing a clone with a partner.

A clone is exactly the same. A partner shares some aspects of your life, and differs in others.

A clone never challenges you to grow or change or question. A partner brings into the relationship new ideas, new thoughts, new vitality.

A clone can never really make the choice to love you because they are, essentially, already you. A partner makes a conscious choice to say "I love you for the things we share, and I love you for the things that make you unique and different."

A clone is the ultimate "yes man." A partner is the person who will stand by your side even when the answer is no.

A clone feeds your ego, because they already agree with everything you think. A partner is someone you love regardless of whether or not they agree with you, because it's not about feeding an ego.

To fit together and make a beautiful picture, a puzzle needs pieces of different sizes and shapes, different colors. Two pieces that are identical make one of them unnecessary.

She clearly was not looking for a clone, a duplicate puzzle piece in male form. She was happy loving a whole man who in some ways is very different from herself. And loving him, not IN SPITE OF the difference, but because of them and the way that the differences and similarities in your lives came together to make a truly magnificent picture.

Clones are relatively easy to find. There are countless chameleons among us, especially among women, who will pretend to be whatever a man wants her to be.

But real love? THAT is rare and precious and a gift beyond all measure. And I believe the very universe weeps when someone throws it away.

You clearly love her. She clearly loves you. The rest is just detail.

(Image from Sarah-land)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

My Celtic Zodiac

I'm not big on astrology, but this is exceptionally!

The Willow

Apr. 15 - May 12 If you are a Willow sign, you are ruled by the moon, and so your personality holds hands with many of the mystical aspects of the lunar realm. This means you are highly creative, intuitive (highly psychic people are born under the sign of the Willow) and intelligent. You have a keen understanding of cycles, and you inherently know that every situation has a season. This gives you a realistic perspective of things, and also causes you to be more patient than most tree signs. With your intelligence comes a natural ability to retain knowledge and you often impress your company with the ability to expound on subjects from memory. Willow Celtic tree astrology signs are bursting with potential, but have a tendency to hold themselves back for fear of appearing flamboyant or overindulgent. It is your powers of perception that ultimately allow your true nature to shine, and what leads you to success in life. Willow signs join well with the Birch and the Ivy. Sign: Willow Tree (Saille) Symbol: The Sea - Serpent Ruling Planet: The Moon - Llun Celtic Gods: Ceridwen, Morrigan, Morgan le Fay

Monday, 14 September 2009

Top 5 Stupid Things Too Many People Believe

5) Having a Diet Coke with your Whopper "balances it out"

There is no such thing as "balancing" 1800 calorie, high fat, high sodium meal is still just as bad for you with a zero calorie soda. And some research is finding that artificial sweeteners encourge fat retention and boost hunger!

4) Lots of homework means kids are learning more and the teacher is better

The fact is, there is no correlation between academic quality and homework. Teachers who give lots of homework may in fact be passing the bulk of the work off onto parents. Some countries have banned homework entirely, and have seen test scores rise.

3) Parents can do one thing and tell their kids to do another, and the kids will listen.

Kids learn behavior from three things: what parents do, what peers do, and what other significant adults in their life do. What is said carries almost no weight when it conflicts with observable behavior. So parents, save your words, and watch your deeds!

2) Real love does not require work

Ask all of the married people who complain about dates that vanished after the wedding, sweet words and romantic cards that disappeared once the "I do" was said. Even more than money, lack of attention to the relationship and one's spouse is the number one complaint of married women and men.

1) Pressing the elevator button more times (or harder) makes the elevator come faster

You've done it. Does it work? Enough said!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Flying flags or taking action - which matters more?

The week has raced by.

My last post was about Shabbas plans, good food, guests, time focusing on those I love. And it seems that I barely blinked and it's a week later.

It's been a good week. Busy with family and friends. Lots accomplished at work. I'm tired. Not feeling 100%. But I'm here. And that, as Martha S. is wont to say, is a good thing.

I've been thinking a lot about this September 11th thing. Got a ton of e-mails telling me to hang a flag. And that bothers me. I am so proud of the brave firefighters and police officers who risk their lives every day to save the rest of us from horrible situations. Firefighters hold a very special place in my heart, as some of you know. So the idea that just hanging a flag up was a suitable way to honor them really and truly bothered me. They deserve so much more.

I responded to a few of the e-mails...and this is some of what I wrote.

Sorry. Flag waving and wrapping oneself in the flag are empty gestures to me. I will never see that a proof of anything valuable. I honor the firefighters and police officers, but hanging pieces of cloth seems to me a meaningless choice. Getting out and honoring their memory by fighting for our freedoms -- not with guns and rockets, but with the courts and the press and the ballot -- is a much more appropriate tribute to all they gave.

A flag is a piece of cloth. Hanging it is easy. If you want to show/promote real patriotism, get out and reclaim the rights and freedoms stolen by the previous administration. Work for the repeal of the so-called Patriot Act laws. Work to disband Big Brother. Fight surveillance on ordinary citizens, demand prosecution for elected leaders and government officials who engaged in wiretaps and warrant-less searches and fear-mongering.

Forget hanging flags. Be a patriot and reclaim your country. Those who died trying to save others deserve that from you.

If political action isn't your forte, use today to go out sign up to feed hungry children, take steps to help a homeless person get back on their feet, get out your garden tools and beautify an abandoned city lot, or go to a hospice and hold someone's hand. Or just start by saying thank you to a firefighter or police officer.

Friday, 4 September 2009

The weekend ahead

What a wonderful weekend...


Shabbas services
Shabbas dinner with three very special people (Nicholas, I wish you were down here, too...that would make it complete!)


Torah class
Shabbas lunch --- we are having 5 guests this week!

The menu is:

Cucumber tea sandwiches
Herbed yogurt cheese and Italian bread
My version of cholent -- Moroccan veggie "chicken" stew (vegan, actually)
Lemon cake

Tomorrow night:

Gary's party

Sunday and Monday? Time with loved ones, so the what is far less important than the who.

And in there, somewhere, some rest time!! Some much needed rest time!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Brittany Spears and Tweens

My daughters, age 18 and 11 went to the Britney Spears Circus concert last night.

On the drive home, my 11 year old was telling us about the transvestite performers and a dance number in which the male dancers striped down to pink and blue camo underwear. YIKES!

I thought there was no real issue with the girls going to the concert, because she is a girl, too. So her costumes would not be an issue.

I never thought about stripping male dancers and transvestites.

Over all, my little one liked the circus performers (ala Cirque du Sole) most, and Britney's music second best...but still. Maybe not my best parenting decision. But not the worst...oh well.

They had a good time, and loved going...a great night for them :-) Lance, you are their hero this a.m. :-)

Monday, 31 August 2009

The holiday are coming!

For me, the big ones are the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), then Sukkot, then Halloween, two birthdays, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, another birthday and the New Year.

The High Holidays mean deep introspection, sweet honey and apples, long services, a the wonderful taste of a meal after a long fast

Sukkot...hoping to build a nice Sukkah this year. Spent some time today looking up plans! And I already have the decorations in my head...hope the weather is cool!

Halloween...can't do much at my place outside, oh, but indoors!!! Now where did I put that giant spider???? And then there is the 2nd annual trip to Universal for their Halloween Horrors event! daughter Nov 7th, my son Nov 8th. Gift ideas....hmmmm.

Thanksgiving...going away! Always good for Thanksgiving...maybe even some really cool weather!

Hanukkah...need to get into the storage unit and get out all the Hannukiot. Time for them to all shine again! littlest one. Time is flying!

New Year's Eve...can it really be that close to 2010?

What are your holidays coming up? What makes them special? I would love to hear about them all!

Friday, 28 August 2009

New friends, old friends, real friends, pseudo friends

Okay, so it's not Dr. Seuss, because I doubt any of his books contained the term "pseudo" but the idea is the same. And this is my book! So pseudo remains.

I see a stack of people...old friends who have been a part of my life for so long, forming the base. New friends added to them. All of those as a real friends, all sparkling, golden, precious.

And then there are the pseudo friends. Not false friends. That is something that wouldn't even be in my book. But not really part of that wonderful group that glitters with love and caring. More like acquaintances. Potential friends -- some of them, to be sure. But others destined to remain outside of the circle -- familiar names, recognizable faces. But not the people we would call to share the big news, the small accomplishments, the secret fears or the maybe-too-silly dreams.

And yet they belong in my book. A hug, a shared laugh, some time over a lunch or a cup of tea. A friendly face in a crowd. A shared day at some public event or mutual friend's party.

A part of the blessings. Just not part of the stack...yet.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Words from the Talmud on Kindness

It seems that some of these get overlooked in the rush to construct or discern new rules or more details about daily activities. So I thought a little reminder might be in order for all of us.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

If today was your last day...

Watch and listen to this Nickelback video.

Now answer this....

If this was it...end of the line...would today have been good enough?

Did you share your love with those who matter most to you?

Did you help a stranger with no thought about reward or even whether or not they deserved to be helped?

Did you smile at someone who was frowning and watch a smile form on their face?

Did you meet someone new?

Did you learn something?

Did you call someone far away who needs to hear your voice?

Did you pray and thank G-d for the morning, always aware that it is a gift and not a given?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Disney day

We went to favorite place on earth! We rode the rides and watched the parade and planned another trip with the kids along.

We held hands and compared memories of visits there when we were little. I wondered if we had ever been in the park together, and not met -- not yet time. Or maybe rode a ride together and never knew we would meet again years later. In Disney World, anything seems possible.

Disney worked its magic. Lance snapped this beautiful shot of Cinderella's abode as the sun faded. We ended the day watching the fireworks over the castle, and dreaming about future visits together.

And although I saw some rough edges this time -- some rides in need of updates, some technology lagging behind competitors like Universal -- I still would not trade this place for any on earth. It is and always will be the Magic Kingdom for me. And now I have a prince to share it with. :-)

Thursday, 30 July 2009

What I Need

One of the benefits of passing years is learning to separate what I want from what I need. Although I am still not 100% there, and sometimes confuse the two (especially when really beautiful shoes are involved,) I am doing much better these days at making that distinction. Here is my current Top Five list of needs and wants...I'd love to see your Top Five or Ten for each.


1) A new car. Mine is on it's very last legs and is patched together.

2) More time for myself. I get run down and burned out really quickly when I don't have alone time. It's been scarce lately, and although I love my job and my after hours activities, I need to schedule in Lindsay time to stay on track and healthy

3) Some new jeans Gotta feel just right!

4) Stability in my personal life.

More time in the gym

Now for the wants....


1) A whole new shoe wardrobe

2) Two or three new purses

3) A sectional couch

4) Time to scrapbook

5) A real vacation

Your turn...what are your wants and needs, and is it hard to tell which is which sometimes?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A post from one of my other blogs

This is from one of my now abandoned blogs....I am posting it here, because it was an important life lesson I would like to share.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When I moved to the Rockies years ago, I arrived at night. The flight into Salt Lake City dropped down on what would over the next few years become a familiar, stomach-testing approach into an airport that sat deep in a valley. In the darkness and the rush to gather baggage and get to a hotel, I could not really see the mountains. Although the pilots who had landed my plane knew they were there, and knew how to maneuver down safety between the ranges of the Wasatch on the East and the Uintahs on the West, they remained invisible to me.

In the morning, I walked outside to go get breakfast and stopped cold. I was completely surrounded by mountains. Although the closest ones were probably 10 miles away, their size and unexpected presence felt enclosing. A Florida flat-lander stood, mostly in awe, but a little in fear. What had I done?

Looking back, those mountains and my reaction to them was more than just a change in geography. It was the first real leap into a new world. And my first encounter with that feeling of enclosure and awe and what have I done...

That feeling has come back to me again and again, as I've moved into my life. And for awhile, my reaction was the same. Fear. Awe. Even panic. But I've learned something from that mountain experience.

Over the years in the Rockies, I learned to feel less overwhelmed by those mountains and all the others I lived among. I went back to Florida and drove my car, alone, across the country from South Florida to Utah. In the course of the drive, over switchbacks and steep climbs, I learned to see the mountains better.

Then there were days spent walking on the mountains, feeling their shape and strength and substance for myself, whether through the soles of my favorite purple hiking boots or barefoot in an icy mountain stream. I don't think I ever lost my awe...they remained beautiful, especially when the rising or setting sun painted them in a dozen different colors. But I lost my fear. I stopped being shocked to see the mountains when I stepped outside. They became accessible.

I am learning to apply that lesson to my life.

When new things happen in my life...things just as sudden and scary and enclosing as that early morning view of the mountains, I still get scared. And I wonder what I have done. And I see how close the danger seems to be.

In those times, I try to imagine the mountains. I try to remember that moment in the hotel parking lot, and the very different feeling I had years later walking in the same mountains on a cold winter day shooting roll after roll of winter photography. Same mountain. Different world.

Posted by Seeker at 5:28 AM

Labels: colorado, life lessons, lindsay39, mountains, rockies, salt lake city, utah

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Class reunions, old friends and changing roles

This past weekend was my high school class reunion. And as I sit here looking through hundreds of photos of people I have known well for most of my life, people I knew well for only a year or two before we went our separate ways and people I knew only by name or sight, I have some thoughts to share.

The people who knew us when we were growing into our skins, so to speak, have a preciousness (is that a word?) that no one else in our lives can match. We can meet someone at 25 and be friends with them for the rest of our lives, and yet it cannot match spending a few hours with someone who was there as we journeyed from childhood to adulthood.

People who intimidated us in high school because they seemed more together or smarter or prettier or more talented become equals later in life when the bumps and struggles and lessons of life have evened the playing field. And among those who we most envied, we may find a friend who will confess that the feeling was mutual.

The things that mattered so very, very much in high school, like being thin enough or having perfect hair or wearing the perfect dress fall away, as you hug and catch up and share a laugh over an old photo or a tear over the news that a classmate has passed away far too soon (R.I.P Steve Flanagan.)

Being with people who knew you then, and still remember your name is one of the greatest gifts I've received lately.

Counting my blessings, sorting through the photos and looking forward to the next one in 10 years. May we all be well, all be smiling and all be present.

Friday, 10 July 2009

G-d laws, people's laws

The girl's name Tara \t(a)-ra\ is pronounced TAH-rah. It is of Gaelic and Sanskrit origin, and its meaning is "hill; star". Ancient Tara was the site of the "stone of destiny" on which Irish kings resided

Last night, I dreamed that I was in a big building, like an airplane hanger. The doors were open wide, and the room was empty except for a small Lucite cube in the middle of the room. I was there with someone named Tara.

She pointed to the box, a crystal clear square, about 2 feet across (so about 8 cubic feet in volume, so quite small in such a large and essentially open air space) and said "These are man's laws."

Then she gestured around us, and said. "These are G-d's laws."

There was nothing else to the dream that I recall, but the image and the words are fresh in my mind. So what does it mean?

So often, we think of G-d's laws as something we must contain within a box...a structure, a set of walls or a book. And the rules and laws of people surround the true core -- so we strive to protect G-d's laws from human changes. We build up lists of rules and fences and such, in a belief that we as people must DO something.

But this dream was saying quite the opposite. G-d's laws require little structure or containment. Yes, the hanger offered a roof, but it was far, far above. And with the big doors open, there was little enclosure. Almost none, in fact. They simply "are." Everywhere.

And G-d's laws were safe, not because we boxed in G-d, but because G-d's laws surrounded and contained and so completely outdid whatever little man tried to do. All our fuss was little more than a small box in the middle of a vast and open space.

I looked up the meaning of the name Tara...the site of the "stone of destiny." I don't know anyone named the meaning intrigues me. My destiny? Or just a coincidence?

Another meaning was also suggested, since I heard rather than saw the name: Terra.
The girl's name Terra \t(er)-ra\ is pronounced TARE-ah. It is of Latin origin, and its meaning is "Earth". Mythology: the Roman earth goddess, equivalent to the Greek Gaia.

My experience of the creator is solidly female. Mother Earth. The Creator as the birth-giver/life-giver. Terra or Tara...I am captured by this dream.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Love in action: cooking

Some random thoughts about cooking as an act of love.

  • On my vision board from a couple of years ago, there was a quote snipped from a magazine: Remember the sacred art of nourishing. I try to always keep that in mind as I plan for, shop for and cook meals.

  • My friend Omar always says that he cooks with love. And it's true. Each and every dish he makes is infused with love. You can actually feel it.

  • A Buddhist nun in Salt Lake City, Utah told me that your feelings affect the health and nutrition of the food you cook. If you are feeling grumpy or angry or sad, she said it's best to stay out of the kitchen because those emotions will affect the food and those who eat it.

Tonight I am cooking dinner. On the menu, there will be a homemade arrabiata sauce with sauteed eggplant. A fresh green salad, with baby greens, sliced fruit and nuts. For dessert, chilled peaches, maybe even with kasiri cheese if I get to Whole Foods in time. And in each dish, there will be love.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Into the moment....

On Sunday, I went to the Jazz Brunch by the water in Fort Lauderdale. I had posted this on Facebook nearly a month ago, so it was on my calendar and well planned. On Sunday at just after 9 a.m., we were there, sitting in a beautiful spot under a tree, right by the water, watching boats going by, talking, relaxing, waiting for the music. All part of the plan.

The music started, we sat back and listened and started on our picnic brunch. Peaches so juicy it took two or three napkins each to deal with sticky hands and juice-soaked chins. Cheeses. French bread. Nuts and dried fruit. Yogurt. Ice-cold bottles of water. A good book at hand. Music. A breeze. What more could we want?

Then a friend came by with some friends of his. Would we like to join them for lunch? We had our lunch with us -- had been eating. So why would we go? But then they said, just come for drinks...and why not? A few minutes out of the sun. A few minutes away from our plans. No problem. So we went. And we sipped iced tea and other cool drinks. And we talked. And the friends of the friend went from strangers to people we connected with. A couple that lives just down the street from me. Another who graduated from the same university. People with common interests and goals. Families with kids at home or at college who shared birth years or majors.

The guise of strangers fell away as connections were added to connections. The few minutes planned stretched into an hour.

"Do you want to go out on the boat with us?"

For a brief moment, the thought crossed my mind...what about the jazz? The plans? But the offer of a sunny afternoon on the water quickly won out. We walked back to our space under that shady tree and packed up books and brunch and blankets and headed for the boat.

On-board, the one hour sail tuned into 3 or more. Strangers no more, I chatted with women and men who I had never met before that afternoon -- how could it be? They felt like friends! What a treat this day had become!

In the middle of the fun and laughs and great conversations, I stepped back from the moment and thought about the day. It had begun amid plans. Good plans. But the offer of new directions and new friends had drawn us away from those plans and into the unexpected.

And I realized that this wonderful day held a great message for my life.

I had planned. Prepared. I had the things I needed for the day at hand. I had direction. But I also accepted the offer of positive change, and shifted plans to accommodate the new opportunities. Easy to do when the choices are among jazz by the water, lunch and an afternoon on the water. Now the trick will be to remember that lesson in life when the choices aren't quite so delightful.

Prepare to change.

Working on it!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Dreaming, dreaming, dreaming!!

Dreaming of traveling with someone special to places familiar and well loved like Key West and California, and places yet uncharted in my life so far (ok, in THIS lifetime) like Russia and Egypt and Samoa.

Dreaming of more days and evenings with friends like last week's trip into the waters off Key Largo, Teresa's birthday party, annual visits to friends in PA. (almost Ren Faire time again!),last night's dinner at Seasons 52, or the upcoming tubing trip in North Florida.

Dreaming of publishing books written and books yet to write.

Dreaming of love and family and holding hands (and hearts) for years and years to come.

Dreaming of sharing my Shabbas table with guests who have shared meals with me before, and those I have yet to meet.

Dreaming, dreaming, dreaming...on a rainy Florida morning.

(rain on grass image from

Monday, 29 June 2009

A day at sea, a dance on the deck

We need balance in our lives. Not just want it, or think it might be a good idea, but need it.

We need to learn, grow and develop our spiritual muscles. We need to pray and study.

And we need to spend an entire day playing in the water like kids, then dance under the starlight on an otherwise empty dance floor.

We need safety and we need to close our eyes a take that big leap of faith.

We need time alone on a Shabbas afternoon to think and grow, and we need time with friends around a big noisy table in a waterside dive bar in the Keys.

We need to float on top of the water and take in the view.

And we need to dive down deep, and almost reach another world.

Saturday afternoon, I meditated on some wonderful ideas, amid the peace of Shabbas. Yesterday, I spent the entire day on a boat or in the water about 10 miles off the Florida Keys...and I finally understood balance. A life lesson amid a day of fun and love and friendship. Not bad for a weekend!

Friday, 26 June 2009


I think I'm a pretty observant person. And yet, I am wondering, because I have noticed a few things lately that it sure seems I should have noticed before. Like:

1) You can be a certain religion your whole life and not really know that religion at all. You can think you do, believe you do, say you do, but in reality, you are darn near clueless.

2) You can know someone for a long time, think you know them, and then one day look up and see them for the very first time. A friend, a family member, a neighbor. In an instant, they become someone new.

3) You can think you know what you like to do and do not like to do, and then one day you realize that you are doing and really, really enjoying a whole bunch of things that were previously on your "don't like to do" list.

This is my brain
This is my brain on awareness.

Pretty cool.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The view from the air

As I was answering a heartfelt e-mail last night, I had a sudden thought.

What if we could see our lives from the air? What if, instead of a mass of incomprehensible twists and turns and detours, we could take off in our spiritual Piper Cub, and look down on the pattern from above?

What would we think of the pattern?

Would we be able to see where we took the wrong fork in the road, and know which way to turn around once we landed? Would we see the bright fields of flowers we've left in our wake, even though we never knew we were sowing the seeds?

Is it possible that we would see that that some of the "mistakes" we thought we made actually protected us from something worse? Would we see where other people's paths cross our own, and our path intersects theirs?

What would it be like to see the picture we're creating with our lives?

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


After days of scorching dry heat and blindly bright sun, I woke up to steely grey skies this morning.

The palm tree fronds are sage tinted in this light, and the air is heavy with the rain that will soon follow. A welcome change.

The contrast is beautiful.

I slept only a few hours last night, but I slept well...happy. Content. A contrast to months earlier when the few hours sleep I got were punctuated with bad dreams and suddenly moments of panicked awakening.

And I realized that it is the change from one experience to another that's making the sweet moments so sweet. The contrast from sunshine to shade. From pain and despair to happiness and hope.

The Rabbi teaching my class recently explained that there are two kinds of miracles in the world. One, easy to recognize, is when G-d steps in and makes something big happen. An against-all-odds recovery, or an unexplainable moment where the inevitable is somehow pushed aside.

But then there are all the other miracles that we call daily life. A rainbow. Food growing in a field. A rainstorm. Things we could and do easily overlook as "just normal." The purpose of study, and of the brachas (blessings) is to make us aware of how all of life is actually a series of miracles. Since we learned that, I have been struck by the miraculous among the mundane.

Today I awoke to another aspect of that. The miracle of contrast. The gift of appreciation we receive when we move from sadness or fear to joy. And even more telling, how sometimes even the move from what looks brighter (sunshine) to an impending storm can be a cause for prayers of thanks.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

A Friday Five on Sunday

Revisiting my old blogging friends, I came across the Friday Five from the RevGal Blog. Okay, so I'm a little late, but here's my take on her five excellent and thoughtful questions from the book Life is a Verb by Patti Digh.

1. What awakens you to the present moment?

My children. Looking at them, realizing that they are on their own path to express this life they've been given brings me immediately to the here and now. I savor our time together, our talks, our laughs...

2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now?

A sunlit palm tree, a pine tree, the railing of my balcony, a large piece of coral on the porch post, a bird house my daughter made and painted.

3. Which verbs describe your experience of G-d?


4. From the book on p. 197:
Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go?

13. 8th grade. Enjoying a childhood in South Florida. Roller skating with friends every week. Taller than I wanted to be. Skinny. Endless energy. Played tennis, swam, rode a bike all over the place. Wrote poetry and drew. Beginning of my now nearly life-long pattern of staying up most of the night, sleeping little. Fan of scary movies. Beginning of conflict with mom. Wanted to be an architect. Read EVERYTHING!

Where did she go? Gave up some some dreams. Still draw and do other art. Write for a living, although not usually poetry. Work, kids and probably self-consciousness make me less likely to play tennis or swim. Still sleep very little. Probably closer to that 13 year old now than I was for years in a bad marriage. Happy being a mom, and feel sadness instead of anger for my mom -- she missed so much. That 13 year old is still here. :-)

5. From the book on p. 88:
If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be?

What job would you do if you didn't need to work for money?

Bonus idea for you here or on your own--from the book on p. 149:
"Go outside. Walk slowly forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. It might be an idea, it might be an object. Name it. Set it aside. Walk forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. Name it. Set it aside. Repeat. . . ."

A name of someone from the past I need to thank
A wish I dare not speak aloud, lest I jinx it
A memory of time spent with my dad at the airport
Something about souls and children that was just beyond my understanding

Friday, 19 June 2009

The price of change

Since I've returned to my blog, I've been considering changing the back ground images. It's a simple thing to do...replace a line of code or two, and wallah, a new look. I could use different photos, or some of my art work.

But even with a minor change like this, there is a price. A certain loss of comfort, of familiarity. No, it's not anything earth shattering -- I am not paralyzed with fear. But there is a tinge of mourning when we let go of the familiar, whether it's a favourite pair of shoes or an outgrown bed...or a blog background. Admit have held on to a worn out, but beloved shirt or pair of shoes or some other item even when a perfectly acceptable replacement (read, new) was readily available.

If we know that these little changes can affect us, why do we pretend that major changes are "no big deal?" Whether the change is positive like a new job or a graduation, or sad like the end of a loving relationship, we as a society want people to "get over it" or "get on with it" with lightening speed.

To look back wistfully is seen as a sign of weakness. The most famous story of this bias against taking one last look is Lot's wife. We all know the the family was fleeing the evil of the city, she takes one last glance back at the place that was her home, and is turned to a pillar of salt. The Rabbis have explained her punishment in a variety of ways, from retribution for her past misdeeds to a result of her lack of complete faith in G-d's order to flee.

But there is another possible interpretation for her look backwards. Perhaps within that city were some good memories. Perhaps the birth of her children or their first tottering steps. A home she had cared for. Memories of her wedding day. So even as her feet carried her forward into the new, and hopefully better, she needed to take one last look. The pillar of salt? Instead of description of a punishment, maybe it was simply a way to vividly describe the tears that fall when we leave something behind for something new. For a moment, as we pause between the old and the new, we are literally frozen into our tears.

According to the Torah, she did not continue on her journey forward but remained as that salty pillar. So perhaps the lesson has two parts. One, that the act of looking back as we move on in life may, for a moment freeze our progress. The problem comes when we stay there, looking backwards, forgetting the journey.

So what does this all have to do with changing my blog background? The images on the screen as of today are a place I left behind three years plus ago. I think it's time stop looking back...time to face forward and move on.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Time for art and for opening to new possibilities

I have the next five days off from work. It's been years since I've had that much time to myself. Wow!

I was supposed to spend tomorrow at the beach with my friend, but she is sick. So I have a new plan. I will work on the art project that is taking up a portion of my bedroom floor, and a significant amount of my mind. I will enjoy my space, and welcome any visitors who happen by. I will spend some time getting to know someone better. I will read and write and treat myself to breakfast out at least once. I will go for walks on the beach. I will care for myself.

Such a gift!!! Five whole days! I am blessed.

Reclaiming my blog

After almost 6 months away, I am reclaiming my blog.

With all of it joys, sorrows, discoveries and musings, the content in this blog represents much of who I have been, who I am for the past couple of years. I have other blogs. Blogs for work. A green business blog. But none of them are a place for personal thoughts, a snapshot of life, a comment overheard, a memory evoked by song or the small of freshly baked cookies...

So I am back. I may have no readers or dozens. It doesn't matter. This is my space. And I'm glad to be home.

The update...6 plus months in 6 lines

OK, here goes:

Went to PA twice, and went to Blog Potomac in D.C. area
Got active in Mosaic and spent lots of time outdoors
Started taking classes at Aish haTorah, keeping Shabbas and holidays
Had a major relationship end
Job expanded to cover lots more areas and I love it
Got a kitten, named her Sanura