The chaos of the smile theory: An Update

Smile. Schmaichel.

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.

It works. Even our ice cream contagiously smiled back upon open!

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.

Those butterflies, they know…

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!

Smile. Schmaichel.

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?

  See how good that feels! 

 

      

      

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I AM WOMAN, the musical resurfaces

Tonight is the eve of the 1 year weirdest year in my lifetime anniversary of the Women’s March, where pink pussy hats bopped atop millions way more than those who attended the inauguration of marching women (men and children too), across the US and in countries around the globe. We gathered in protest of violence and sexual harassment, for reproductive rights, gender equality, and quite frankly, against our new president (little p) and his band of bad men. We were and continue to be, a viable, visible force of peaceful people saying wtf just happened looking for answers and questioning truths. One dizzying, nauseating year later, what’s changed? We went from strong women proudly marching to women governing and legislating. We ran for office and we are winning! This weekend, get your walking shoes on. “Cause we still have some work to do my friends.

I’ve got my walking shoes on… so hear me ROAR!

#metoo #blacklivesmatter #neveragain #muslimregistry #strongwomen #weshowedup #resistmrt

Nu? This mr t, he has me farklempt (all choked up) with his evil and hatred. Not too long ago, I wrote a post, I AM WOMAN HEAR MY VOICE. Well, I’ve taken it to the stage folks. Please, bear with my (awful) voice as I stumble through my own, personal feminist anthem.

Please feel free to sing along. If only to cover up my voice! Vey iz mir…I’m meshuggeneh (crazy), but I am so motivated to peacefully make a change. (I said peacefully, not notefully!) Because Never Again, is now folks. 

Great big hugs and love to Mackenzie for her gorgeous participation and support! And Kristin, where would I be without the bug you put in my ear? And to all of you brave, men, women and children who showed up, and continue to show up in protest. That’s what I’m sayin.’
Why’d I do it? Well, I am trying hard to teach my kinder (little kids) to be brave, not perfect.
Hey, mr t, I Am Woman, and you, little man, are going to have to deal with that!  Tell me, did you march? If so, where? And most important, everyone VOTE.
      
       
    

Oy mama! The mouths of babes!

Big as a Cook, Little as a Polichinelle, in The Nutcracker! ❤ This momma is kvelling (bursting with pride and joy) as they dance the Christmas classic

So last night, I had a wonderful talk with my kinder (children) that I would love to share with you. Oh, they are so funny, so knowledgeable, so wise… It all started with Santa, and it went something like this:

Little: Santa brings presents to everyone who is young and everyone who is old.

me: Well, how old are you when you are young?

Big: Like, 20 and under. 20 and under is young.

me: So Max and Benny, they are old? (cousins, my loving nephews)

Little: Well, no. Definitely, beneath 29, you are young. Just beneath 29.

me: So what are you when you are between 30 and 69?

Little: What do you mean?

Big: You’re a middle person. You and Ema are middle people. (I was somewhat relieved to know my own kinder do not think me an alta kocker (literally an ‘old shit’ more commonly, an old fart))

me: How old do you think Santa must be by now?

Little and Big: He is at least 80 or even 100. We can probably ask Mrs. Claus. She would know and tell us the truth.

me: How does this whole present distribution thing work for Christmas? How does Santa give presents out?

Big: If you are mean, there are no presents.

Little: And if you are a little bit mean, you only get like one or two presents. Mostly coal presents or whatever they call that. What is coal?

And, it was on the eighth crazy night, when the Menorah was aflame with the miracle that is Chanukkah

me: What does ‘mean’ mean?

Little and Big: (forgive me, but this was a jumbled free-for-all in reply) Like when you exclude people or say insults about them. If you kick, slap, bite or scratch people, that is mean. Scratching people with a sharp rock would be mean. Pinching is very mean. Robbers steal things, and that is really mean. Like people who find money or credit cards on the floor and don’t return them to the people who lost them and instead they use it for themselves, like stealing it – that is mean. Stealing is definitely mean.

me: Who do you think of when you think of someone who is mean?

Big: Umm, I know a good one! (dancing around the living room) The President of the United States! He is mean!

me: Why is the president mean?

Big: He always insults people, especially people he thinks are not nice to him.

me: Will Santa visit the President on Christmas?

Little: No! I don’t think his kids will get a visit from Santa either. Well, maybe Santa will bring teeny-tiny presents for his kids if they get anything at all.

me: What makes Santa so kind?

Big: (now dancing with every reply) He has a VERYVERYVERYVERYVERYVERYVERYVERY big heart <3. He is really nice. He makes gifts all year long for everyone in the whole world. That’s all he really does all year. Then he delivers them to everyone who is kind.

Little: And then he sleeps for like 3 weeks ’cause he’s so tired from making all of those toys and delivering them around the world. And his heart ❤ is so VERYVERYVERYVERYVERY big.

I’m making some of this stuff up. Did you know that? (devilish smile in tow)

Big: The president, his heart is only VERYVERYVERYVERYVERYVERY BIG for himself and his money. He loves his money and himself. His heart for other people is too tiny, veryveryveryvery tiny heart.

me: Is there any way we can make the world nicer, and have more people kind, like Santa?

Big: (still dancing and twirling around the living room) We can spread joy by being kind and happy. It will then spread all around the world so everyone can feel it!

me: Is there a way we can make the president nicer?

Big: Do you mean Donald? Donald Duck? (awkward pregnant, pensive pause) Mommy, I want to call him Donald Duck instead of the president.  I don’t really know an answer for that, mommy.

Little: He needs to get a bigger heart. His heart is way too small for a person. Tiny small. Like this small (imagine hand gesture of pointer and thumb just about touching).

me: If you had one wish for the world, what would it be?

Big: That Donald Duck wasn’t the president of the United States.

Little: That everybody was kind, and I had candy. That’s two wishes, I know, but I’m little, so that’s okay.

Well, this Yiddisheh momma can feel the live magic of Christmas spirit in the house. As a Jewish atheist, I’m alright with that.

me and the Mrs., we need to zug gornisht (say nothing) because as you can read above, the kinder, they are always listening…

Happy, healthy holidays to all of you! A bei gezunt. As long as you’re healthy.

Yiddish Proverb: 

If the world will ever be redeemed, it will only be through the merit of children.

Oib di velt vet verren oisgilaiszt, iz es nor in zechus fun kinder.

       
      

Sandy Hook, I promise!

December 14, 2017, will mark the 5-year anniversary of one of the most solemn and horrific moments in our unrelenting lack of #GunSense in America. The school shooting at Sandy Hook. To honor those students and teachers, and everyone else we have lost to gun violence, I am reblogging this post.

Those boys and girls of Sandy Hook were in first grade, just like my Little. Please, take a moment, a very uncomfortable moment and think about all of the lives we lose senselessly due to our loose, lax and well-lobbied for laws around out of control gun purchasing in this country. Please also watch this 1 minute video, from the folks at #TheSandyHookPromise. You really need to. After, please share. C’mon moms! We need you.

Thank you. May we be strong enough to make the changes we need to here in America.

#EverytownForGunSafety #MomsDemandAction #WearOrange #TheSandyHookPromise

Early Saturday morning, I woke up after having climate change nightmares. These were not just hot flashes — I had real nightmares about the life of our planet. Think the Lorax, on crack. I wrote a post, Blog, Shmog: An Interview Today, poking some acerbic wit at mr t, orange-in-chief, and then I left to head over to the Wear Orange March. This march was not about global warming. It was the about senseless gun violence in our country. Yet another topic t won’t touch. After all, the NRA, they own him.

Hadiya Pendleton, 15 years old, was shot in the back. Gunned down while standing inside Harsh Park with her friends in Chicago in 2013. Just one week earlier, she performed live with her school band at President Obama’s (second) inauguration. Her murder occurred less than one mile from the Obama’s Chicago home. Hadiya, an honors student, volleyball player, band member, daughter — her future was bright in so many ways. The cause of death: shot by mistaken gang rivalry. The shooters, gang members, they told police that she was standing with people they thought were from a rival gang. It was a mistake. Michelle Obama attended her funeral. By that January day in Chicago, she was already the 42nd murder by firearm. A real shonda (shame) for her, her family, our world.

The gates of tears are never shut. Di toi’ern fun treren zeinen kain mol nit farshlossen.

Saturday morning was cool, raining. Hadiya would have been 20 years young on June 2 of this year. Her birthday now represents National Gun Violence Awareness Day across our country. Her brightness is now the color orange, the same color worn by hunters, so as to be seen and not shot. It is the color of gun violence prevention. Less than 100 of us gathered. Many moms held laminated photos of the children they lost to gun violence. We all talked. I told them I was there for Hadiya, and for the Sandy Hook Promise. When we failed all of those children and their teachers who gave their lives protecting them, I knew I had to do more. I couldn’t just sign a petition and call Senator Twomey’s office again. I had to enlist in the fight.

In the US, gun violence kills 93 people every single day — almost 34,000 lives per year. That includes murder, suicide, and accidental death. In Philadelphia, last year our number was 278. Almost 1 life per day. These numbers are stunning, but they must not leave us hardened. We must work harder than we ever have before.

Our kinder (sweet children) deserve better. Hadiya dreamt of going to Northwestern University. She wanted to become a pharmacist, a journalist, or a lawyer. She was a good kid. Hadiya, she deserved better.

Guns are a very large problem in this country. I do not think that our founding fathers had gang members, mental illness, violent domestic abuse, accidental death and suicide in mind when they created the second amendment. I believe there is some good legislation out there (SB 501 for stronger gun control rights) that needs enforcing, and I believe there are some horrible laws on the books (SB 383 that arms school staff, teachers, and boards). Vey iz mir (OMG), we need to make some drastic changes.

Last I checked, we were ONE human race. How can we all begin to walk with empathy and love in our hearts? When will we begin to embrace all of our very unique and beautiful differences, instead of fearing them? I will do that for Hadiya. I will do that for all of those families from Sandy Hook. I will do that for everyone affected by senseless gun violence. We need to do that for all the kinder (children).
Please join me.

Death doesn’t knock on the door (and warn you of it’s impending arrival). Toyt tut nit klapn aoyf di tir.

Live every minute of every day.

      

      

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I promise!

My kinder (Big and Little) and me, we went for a nice walk in the ‘hood with our boychik (little boy), Gatsby. It was a gorgeous autumn day, not too cold and filled bright with sunshine. They were hesitant. A bit groggy from the previous nights’ festivities. Yes, I did the dreaded mom-fail move: I bribed them.

“Come with me to walk Gatsby and I’ll get you both vanilla steamers at High Point!”

Before I could say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, shoes, socks, coats and a, “We’re ready to go, Mommy! Aren’t you coming?” Here are a few snaps for our jaunt. What a lucky momma I am!

Yiddish proverb:

Never promise something to a child and not give it to them, because in that way they learn to lie.

Keynmol onzog epes tsu a kind aun nisht gebn es tsu zey, vayl in dem veg zey lernen tsu lign.

Dressed and obsessed with chicken bones, he’s ready to walk…
Fun in the autumn leaves heaps
The stop at High Point Cafe, for some Vanilla Steamers with whipped cream, as promised… who’s missing his momma here?
Ahhh… lovely cuppa for kinder! Worth the walk! I wonder why they look so pensive? Nu?
Always, we make friends along the way…
The beauty of nature’s own design — priceless.
      
      
  

The well-worn path to the fridge

Now this guy, he is a fresser and a nosher

To say my kinder (kids) like to nosh (snack) is like saying the Pope, he is Catholic. Who doesn’t like a nice nosh (little something to eat….). My Little, she will even quote ‘Winnie the Pooh,’ and ask, “Can I just have a little smattering of something.”  Now, no Jewish momma even this atheist Jewish momma is going to want to hear the geshrei (cry, moan scream) of hunger from their babes. Essen, bubbelah (Eat Sweetheart). It’s what we grew up hearing. You’re tired? Eat. You’re sad? Eat. You’re angry? Eat. You’re __________ (insert any feeling, emotion, TV show, a brand of car, celebrity, a sign of the zodiac, etc. and the answer in a Jewish home is always, EAT!) Eat. Stuff those emotions down your throat with a nice shmear (a robust portion of cream cheese) and lox (smoked salmon) on a bagel. Mind you, before dinner, Little, she had a nice plate of lox

Noshers and fressers (those you can eat freely and copiously, no reserve!). That is what happens on movie night in our apartment. And last night, was no different. Vey iz mir (OMG), it’s a non-stop fridge free-for-all, where they stare like a deer in the headlights with the refrigerator door wide open — as if a spell has been cast upon them. Let me share with you a bissel of the essen (little of the eating) that transpired. 

First, a nice meal. All of us sitting down together almost civil. Gatsby, he is circling, waiting for the crumbs to fall. We had a healthy, organic, vegan meal of Nona’s homemade lentil soup, bean burrito’s, roasted cauliflower, carrots, hummus — a nice spread albeit a little windy for all. We decide to rent Cinderella, the new-ish one. Dim the lights, roll the show, and…

I’m hungry (in unison)! Can I have something to eat?

Mind you, we barely finished the dishes. And so, being Saturday night and all, we live big! The girls, they each have an ice cream sandwich (the very best of sandwiches in my book). Cue the film. Take 2!

I’m hungry (in unison)! Can I have something to eat?

Something healthy, I cry…

My little, she brings the bowl of carrots over to the sofa and they crunch, munch and chew. Once the bowl was empty:

I’m hungry (in unison)! Can I have something to eat? Can we have another Ice Cream sandwich?

No madeleh.

Can you make these bisquits?

No sweetheart. I’m not going to potchke (to fuss, and/or cook) in the kitchen now, after already making a nice dinner. Are you f**king kidding me?

Can I have that cake from Thanksgiving? 

Not bloody likely! How about a squeezy-yogurt, honey? Breathe they’re just kids and they are growing

The squeezy-yogurts are from the freezer, so this should buy us at least ten minutes of movie time. Tick-Tock. Tick-Tock.

My Little, she then shouts, “Can I have a pickle?”

Sure.

Big chimes in, “Me too?”

Of course.

I gotta let you know, they killed that entire jar of pickles. Gone. Gornisht. Bubkas left.

On a normal day, this Jewish momma would be thrilled with a nosh of roasted cauliflower…

Little, she is still whimpering and is about to ask Alexa for the phone number to the department of childhood injustices, when she opts for a bowl of roasted cauliflower. I warn her that her belly is going to really start to make tsuris (trouble) for her and us. This is just too much. And this combination, oy, her kishkas (intestines) will be in an uproar. Now, you must remember, She’s got pipesOne bowl of cauliflower. Two bowls of cauliflower. At least this is some healthy sh*t she is eating!

Big, she starts stirring are they even watching the movie? and opens some almond butter granola bars before anyone notices. So of course, Little, she now wants some jalapeno blue corn chips.

ENOUGH! THE KITCHEN IS CLOSED! Itisafter10pmatnightandyouhavenotstoppednishingWearegoingtowatchtheendofthismoviebrushandflossourteethandgotobedTherewillbenocryingoutformorefoodYouareeatingoutofboredomorhabitormaybeagiantmomfailonmypartDoyouevenknowwhatishappeninginthismovieNexttimewewatchamovieitisonesnackOnesnackandthatisitOneDoweallunderstandJesusChristYesAtheistJewssaythistoo

And then, not ten minutes later, in bed, our Little, she says: MommyEma (an endearing term for us both), my belly hurts. No smoking gun here…

       
      
      
  

Oh, she’s got pipes

My Little (bottom left of the picture), she’s got herself some pipes, alright. Girlfriend can scream. She can shriek so much better than like Jamie Lee Curtis (nicknamed, the Queen of Scream) in any of the Halloween movies… It’s as if she is channeling some kind inner demon, that can reverberate at only the loudest volume. It starts from the tip of her toes and amplifies at the top of her lungs, barking, bellowing, clamoring … And yes, there are biting bouts of bonelessness, punching, and kicking that add to the happening that is a Little tantrum. Dear neighbors on all sides, above, and below, please accept my apologies for the ongoing mellifluous Mayday moments that travel freely through our thin walls. It’s no doubt, meshuggeneh (crazy) in here at times.

But there is a bigger problem that rocks me to my very core. Me and my Mrs., we do not know why our caged bird sings… Sure, there is a mishmash of anger, sadness, drama, fear, stress, exhaustion, hunger, and irrationality that we all experience every day since mr t took office from time to time. But she’s seven. How bad is life when you are seven? What kind of tsuris (trouble), plagues and misfortunes are stirring in the mind of my shana maideleh (sweet little girl)? Do I seek an exorcist so that Mrs., Big and I don’t get evicted completely bleed out from our eardrums? We are shreknt (frightened, terrorized).

There is no question that when my kinder (children) hurt, I hurt. You see, as I am certain you wise caregivers already know, this special performance nearby residents aside is saved only for us, her mishpocheh (family). Yes, we are safe enough to go all batsh*t cray-cray on to let your hair down. But it is a real shondah (shame) that we can’t crack this nut code and offer solace to my maidel (cutie-pie)

What is wrong? What happened? Are you angry honey? I don’t know. What happened honey? I don’t know. Little, can you stop screaming? I don’t know. Sweetie, please listen to mommy. No response. Did somebody hurt you? No. Did somebody hurt your feelings? I dunno? Are you sick, wounded, have we somehow scarred you for life tired, shaken, scared, hungry?

IWANTCHINESEFOODANDWEAREN’THAVINGCHINESEFOODSOIAMNEVEREATINGAGAINANDWILLFINDAWAYTOGETMYOWNCHINESEFOODANDYOUCANTHAVEANYBECAUSEIWON’TSHAREANDIDON’TWANNATAKEASHOWERORPUTONMYPAJAMASBECAUSEIWANTCHINESEFOODNOWNOTTOMORROWORNEXTWEEKENDANDISOMEHOWBELIEVETHATYOUDONTLOVEMEBECAUSEIDONTSEEANYCHINESETAKEOUTANYWHEREANDITHINKWESHOULDHAVEICECREAMEVERYDAYISTHATSOWRONGICECREAMEVERYDAY?ANDCHINESEFOOD!

Okay, sweetie. Come with me so I can leave the room and not lose my sht all over this place we can talk more privately. You are right. We are not having Chinese food tonight. I am sorry that makes you mad and sad. And, this behavior is not okay actually it is quite impressive. If you think that acting this way will get you an Oscar or an Emmy a trip to the Chinese Restaurant, you are indeed batsht cray-cray incorrect. Now, are you really throwing a fit over Chinese food? Please know you can tell mommy or Ema absolutely anything in the world about anything and everything, and we will always love you. Always! If I could crawl inside you and see what it feels like to be my Little right now, I would. I want to help you. And you cannot act this way. Okay? Okay, mommy. I’m sorry.

Take some deep elevator breaths and calm down. ( I do them too.) Good. Now Little, is this behavior you are sharing a good choice? No mommy. Is this behavior showing kindness to your family or community?  No mommy. What is the one rule we have in our family? Be kind, mommy. Can we leave the bathroom where I am doing everything humanly possible to not go all meshuggeneh and scream louder than you and Jamie Lee Curtis combined go into the living room with everyone else and be kind now? Yes, mommy

BIGTOUCHEDMYLEGONACCIDENTANDTHENITHOUGHTIWASGOINGTOFALL BUTIDIDNTANDIREALLYTHOUGHTIWASSOISTOPPEDMYSELFFROMFALLINGANDTHENICRASHEDINTOTHEWALLWITHMYELBOWANDTHATREALLYHURT ANDITHOUGHTIWASGOINGTOSEENONATODAYANDTHENYOUSAIDWEARE NOTANDIREALLYWANTTOSEENONAESPECIALLYBECAUSEMYELBOWHURTS SOMUCHANDNONALOVESUSANDGIVESUSTREATSANDITALLSTARTEDWHEN BIGTOUCHEDMEONACCIDENTANDWEDIDNTHAVEANYCHINESEFOODTHE OTHERNIGHTANDNOWITHINKWEMAYNEVERHAVECHINESEFOODEVERAGAINANDTHATSALLIREALLYWANTANDIMTIREDANDNOBODYLOVESMEWHENI SCREAMANDYELLANDKICKLIKETHISWHYDONTYOUJUSTGIVEINLIKEI PLANNEDITHOUGHIWOULDWINBYNOWSOIMGONNAKEEPYELLINGANDGO BONELESSANDBROOKETHENEIGHBORTHATLIVESDOWNSTAIRSCANHITTHE CEILINGALLNIGHTBECAUSEIMNOTSTOPPING!

Consequences for such a performance? No TV. No iPad. No allowance. No play date. Obviously, no Chinese food. No solutions. Nothing works or phases my Little. Oh, she is a strong woman in the making! Somebody, help me?

Enter bathroom scene. Repeat. Oh, how I love this kid of mine!

Yiddish proverb:

If you have nothing to lose, you can try everything. Aoyb ir hot gornisht tsu farlim, ir kenen prubirn alts.