I must confess. I have a vagina. Surprised, you’re not. I know. But, unlike many, in this gender-biased world, I make $0.80 per dollar, pay more for dry cleaning, am expected to stay home with the kinder and (I would love that!) and go off to work to bring home the kale and fry (more like pan sear) it up in a pan. I’m an activist and a feminist. I have leaned-in and been pushed out. I have fought the struggle of invisibility and found my voice in the process. I been sexually harassed and can yell, #metoo, like too many others. I do not, in any way, hate men. But people, c’mon. A little balance here would be nice! Alevai (may it only happen)!
March 8th, International Women’s Day, is a day celebrated globally, for over 100 years. This day is for honoring the successes of women culturally, socially, economically and politically as we pave the path to equality.
Truth be told, us women, we are underrepresented just about everywhere, and I can’t see that changing any time soon. Status quo? I say, N-O. NO!
As my hero, RBG, says in answer to the question, “When are there enough women on the Supreme Court? When all 9 seats are filled by women!” (Currently, sadly, only 4 out of 113 total Justices have been/are women. Source: Rutger’s Center for American Women and Politics.)
When we look globally, the picture is not much better. Women live in poverty, don’t have adequate food or water, they are grossly under-educated, under-employed, if allowed to even work, and are victims of domestic abuses, genital mutilation, and subordination.
To quote our beloved former FLOTUS, Michelle Obama:
“The Future of our world is only as bright as the future of our girls.”
Happy International Women’s Day today. Look around you. Are there women in the boardroom, in the government, in science and technology, in the media coverage? Can we say there is equality in our employment structures, wealth, leadership?
Please, make a difference. What can you do to make it so we live in a world of gender equality? Women’s rights and equality are not simply a ‘women’s issue.’ The way I see it, equality is a human rights issue. #BalanceforBetter
Breasts adorn a woman and make a man look ugly. Brusts batsirn a froyaun makhn a mentsh kukn myes.
This is the emmes truth ( I swear, this is true… poo-poo). On the days leading into the Nutcracker performances, I did not know if my little family was going to make it. My Mrs., she had been schlepping (hauling @ss all over creation, the maideleh’s (our sweet girls)all over the place. Dress rehearsal here, performances there… Were the bags packed? Did they have their ballet shoes? What about the special red ones? Extra tights? Hair bag? Makeup? Snacks? Water? Oh, the waterworks… tears flowed like geysers. Moses, he would have had some rough time if he had to part our personal familial ocean… He was the guy who parted the red sea, right? The stress. Tension. Where on earth were my frailech kinder (light and joyful children)? I couldn’t wait for them to leave already. We were all a mess. Insanity alone, it would have been a welcomed friend to this meshuggah (crazy) way of living.
When they finally left (I’m sorry, I love you all to the moon and back), I grabbed my boychik, Gatsby, cuddled him tightly in a fetal position on our sofa, and burst into tears. Tidal waves. Tsunamis. Remember Holly Hunter in, Broadcast News? That was me. Scheduled, routine, bawling and blubbering. A total, inescapable breakdown.
Some 15 odd minutes later, I dried my prolific puddle and looked around our fairly new home. WTF? We weren’t robbed. We weren’t tossed by the feds? We’ve been ‘Nutcracker-ed.’ A bare refrigerator and laundry taller than me which is not saying much, I suppose. Tchaikovsky had no idea when he created his masterful score that one day, my life would be farshtunkeneh (a crazed, chaotic mess).
Nu? In times of stress, this momma vacuums. It’s not wine, and certainly, it’s not chocolate. There is no glamour, but it is aerobic, efficient and usually very necessary. Just ask my Mrs. She has even found me vacuuming outdoors nope, not a shop vac to be found on multiple occasion(s). On, in, or around our sofa alone, I found, recovered, hoovered, at a minimum, 3,497 bobby pins. Yes, I counted. Really. Heading toward the loo, another 317. Stairs? Don’t ask. If these pins had value, I would be swimming in riches! Dancers need (hair) buns. Ergo, the bobby pin glut.
Many hours later, and after a necessary shower, I was ready to leave for the show. Our house, me, I had regained some small sense of order. The Mrs. reported that the kinder, they had a great dress rehearsal. Then all the ballerinas and their respective tightly wound caregivers went out for burrito bowls from Chipotle to nourish their dancin’ feet.
I did my mandatory voluntary ushing job and then made my way in the dark to our seats. My heart, beating to the Dum-da-da-dum-dum, dum-dum-dum of the music. Before long, my face would hurt from smiling. This may be my purest form of kvelling(boasting and gushing) Big, she comes out on stage first with two other dancing, party girls, friends. Her smile, lichticheh (lit-up, radiant) She is so frailecheh (happy) on stage, in costume and dancing. She is free as a bird.
Little, she marches out in her group. They are soldiers who fight the dreaded mice. I make a note to talk to the head of the dance school about the guns; Oh, and I verbalized it abissel (little). I mean, right?
She looks out at the audience and makes a smirk like only she can. I laugh out loud and radiate happiness okay, so that was a hot flash. She puts up quite a fight with her dancing mouse partner. That’s a shana punim (beautiful face) with a simper no less.
Big, aside from a party girl, she is also the Nutcracker doll and a dancer in the Russian scene.
These sweet kinder, they have been practicing since September. They are dancing alongside professionals — The Donetsk Ballet, from Ukraine. Folg mikh a gayng! That’s no small task!Someone pinch me already!
It’s a week later, and I am still hearing Tchaikovsky music. I can still see every move my maideleh’s (sweet babies)made on the stage(s). I can be found smiling, beaming with full on myofascial pain — practically lockjaw.
Oh, this Yiddisheh momma is feeling the Christmas spirit like never before. Wishing all of you who celebrate, a very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Nachas (joy from others accomplishments, like your dancing kinder) and mitzvahs for all and to all a good night!
When you teach your daughter, you teach your daughter’s daughter. Ven ir lernen deyn tokhter, ir lernen deyn tokhter tokhter.
Today, I am relieved, ecstatic, joyful, delighted, and kvelling to learn that all 12 boys and their soccer coach are rescued, safe and sound. The collective global sigh of relief is holding me up and getting me through the rough parts of our world. There really are heroes in the world. We need to celebrate them!
Hold your kinderlach (children) closer today, and every day.
Troubles overcome are good to tell. Ibergekumene tsores iz gut tsu derseylin.
Guess what… this a not a political rant or a thumbs down to the tsuris (troubles) our world is facing due to mrt kind of passive aggressive of me, eh?. This is a girls story. My Big, she is growing up. Born not ten minutes ago, yet my shana maideleh (sweet little girl) is soon to enter double digits. She is gaining wisdom, confidence, curiosity and her own personal identity, wrapped in a blanket of kindness and love. Oy, here I am kvelling (enthusiastically bursting with love and pride), again…
I should probably show a Georgia O’Keefe painting right about now because I am going there… Periods. Girls are getting them. There is chatter. We have chatted. And we are doing everything we can to keep it positive, normal and free of shame as we begin to prepare for this milestone gallstone kidney stone. She’s got two moms — this should be a walk in the park for us, right?
But I gotta say, she just learned to ride a bicycle. Am I ready for the menstrual cycle?
Which of course got me thinking about my own very strange, first-period experience. It was the Saturday of labor day weekend, 1976 and I was thirteen. We lived in south Florida and it was hotter than hell in a sauna on those particular September days. School had begun in August and I had welcomed the 3 days off. The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon played on every TV in our house. I went to pee, and there it was – the small red blot. It was more of a dot than a blot. Definitely a dot. I was rattled I wanted to write, ‘mortified’ but you’ll soon see, my father’s name is Morty. Some of my friends had already gotten their periods, so I knew time was not on my side. I read Judy Blume’s, Are you there God, It’s me, Margaret, a few times by now. I just did not want it to happen. Gay avek (get lost, go away)!
So I very inconspicuously left that bathroom, and quietly went into my room with Buttons, our poodle, and my closest confidant. I closed the door and sat on the floor quickly putting my legs up on my bed. I went vertical, in what I now know was a yogic shoulder stand. I was upside down. Dammit, I was going to send this period back where it came from… Surely if I stayed this way, there was no way for the ‘flow’ of Aunt Flo to wind its way, well, down. Why had no one else tried this? I was brilliant! Buttons agreed.
Day 1: After the initial spatter, I was fine. Feeling positive that I had this entire situation well under control, laughing with Jerry Lewis. Buttons, she was just happy we were staying in the air conditioning. Day 2: Coasting. Not even Dexter could find any blood spatter. I stayed on the phone, watched the telethon, Buttons at my upside-down, side. Day 3:WTF What happened to physics? How could this happen to me? I was in a shoulder stand for three solid days! I was as invested in this endeavor as Jerry was in raising money. I had to do something. I had to call my mom… Ugh!
They were at the tennis club. This was all pre-smartphones. I picked up my princess phone and dialed the club. Max, who manned the front desk and was 90-years-old if he was a minute, answered the phone. He paged my mom. Yes, called her by name over the loudspeaker and told her she had a call. Kill me now, before she picks up. A bolt of lightning. Divine intervention. Thankfully her doubles match was over and I wasn’t too much of a burden. I told her I didn’t feel so good and could she please come home. That was all I said.
Instantly, she screamed across the entire restaurant, “Morty! Lisala got her period! Let’s go!” They came home, my father teased me incessantly and my mother handed me a futon-sized bedroll and called it a maxi pad. She said, “You know everything, right?” I mumbled, “of course I do” and slinked, head down, in shame, into the bathroom where this nightmare began. She added, “Be careful of the sheets at night, from behind the locked bathroom door.
Later, on that dreadful night, they took me out to dinner an alleged celebration at The Rascal House where they embarrassed me by telling everyone in line, the waitress, the guy who brought the pickles, the other guy who cleared the dishes, the cashier, that I just got my period. Wasn’t it bad enough that everyone could tell I had a mattress between my legs? I prayed for invisibility well before Harry Potter had the cloak.
Needless to say, things got way worse before they ever got better, and there will be more stories, to share, I am sure. And I never wore white pants again.
Last week, I was invited with my Big to go with her to Diana Circle. It’s like the happy, hippy, feminist version of Girl Scouts no judgment here, no cookies to sell either. They are an empowering, safe, and inclusive group that celebrates modern young girls as they experience their own, unique rites of passage. In a world filled with mixed messages, misogyny, double standards, a stunning amount of sexual harassment, and thankfully, oceans of #strongwomen in #pinkpussyhats marching the earth, I am so very grateful to Tara R. and her spiritual girl-guidance. She helps us to help our kinder (kids) embrace life, take the bullshit by the horns and grow up to be strong, healthy, and proud women.
At the previous gathering, one of the older girls got her first period and she was celebrated in a beautiful and moving way. The Mrs. and me, we are trying our very best to do right by our kinder. May they never be shamed for their bodies or their natural bodily functions. May they embrace the challenges of growing up as their uniquely beautiful selves free from adolescent misery and filled with love, connectedness, and honesty. A way I never knew was possible until a decade or so of therapy.
And friends, I leave you with this Yiddish Proverb:
No one knows whose shoe pinches except the person who walks in it. Keyner veys nit vemen der shuckh kvetsht, nor der vos geyt in im.
Nu? What’s your first-period story? Share with us and we all become a bissel (little) closer. Here’s to #mightygirls becoming #strongwomen!
Kvelling. It’s a verb. It means to be extraordinarily pleased or happy! We have our ups, we have our downs, but this week has been filled with a lot of, much appreciated, extraordinary happiness! I hope the same is true for all of you!
And the Yiddish proverb I leave you with this week is:
Love your neighbor, even if he plays the trombone! Libh deyn khbr, afilu aiob er fyeses di trambone.
Smile theory therapy. Yup, you read that right. Today, I am 6 months in, and still on task. I share with all of my fellow humans, my smile therapy cause, and update, in the hopes that the contagion of a smile, made by seeking eye contact and sharing with any and all individuals and groups I encounter, will elicit a return smile. May those strangers, knowingly or unknowingly, share that smile forward throughout their day. May this much-needed therapy for me, have a similar effect for those that carry on, unaware that they have been smiled upon… and may the smile spread across the world, like the butterfly effect.
Smile a bit in traffic at your fellow drivers if they can look up from their smartphones. Let that car edging out of a parking lot, get out in front of you, even though you may miss the green light. Hold open that door for those behind you. Wave and say hello across to the people walking across the street from you. Let’s act differently. Let us all smile a bit more and share some contagion that needs no doctor.
Six months ago, I made a conscious start while I walked with my Gatsby. Five out of five complete strangers smiled back at me and wished me a fine morning. As total unknowns, we schmoozed (talked) about the beautiful day ahead, the cuteness of my pup, the way the sun felt so nice on our backs.
The butterfly effect is the concept that small causes can have large effects.
And remember, just when that caterpillar thought the whole world was over, what did she become? A butterfly. A meshuggeneh (crazy) flight pattern, some lovely flowers to flutter by, freedom, and a touch of sunshine on her wings.
The bitterest misfortune can be covered up with a smile. Dem bitersten mazel ken men farshtellen mil a schmaichel.
I gotta happily report back to you, 9 times out of 10 okay, some days, it is 7 out of 10, most people smiled right back at me. Me! They didn’t know me from Adam who the f*ck is Adam anyway. But when we locked eyes, and I let out my inner Mona Lisa, bam! Like a ray of light that shines through your window and warms your soul, these beautiful perfect strangers lobbed back some pearly whites right at me. Priceless!
My hope is that this therapy will reach you, wherever you may be residing. And may the effect linger, lovingly and empathetically, to all in its spell. We all may be able to heal this shit show of a vulnerable, unhappy world after all. So, can you try this too? Too much is going on. As people, we need to heal. Are you in with me? Let me know how your smile therapy goes. Please. It can’t hurt. Nu?