from a fog


The excitement is brewing…

Forgive me now my friends, for I am writing while in a fog. No, not like I’m ‘in brown study’ or a deep within a place of inner mindfulness. I’m not even feeling pensive. I am literally in a fog. It is Sunday morning. Gatsby woke me up so he can bark about town in our muddy excuse of a backyard.

Time is now sacred. While he prances and bandies about barking and I hurriedly wait for him to do his business, I must ready the french press yes, the effing Chemex, my darling Chemex broke again for my ritual nectar of the gods I guess here, in the morning hour, I believe, more like in a mythical way, but believing nonetheless. You see aside from Mr. Barky Pants, my house is quiet. The din is long done and I can literally enjoy my cuppa French Roast in all of it’s piping hot aromatic delicious glory. There is never a need to reheat at this hour. It is divine. It’s my ‘me time.’

I set the kettle to boil, and ready the parts of the press for the exciting addition of the gritty grounds of goodness. I open the coffee drawer, where the beans rest by night, expecting the explosive burst of smoky darkness and indulgent scent to tease my nostrils. No scent save for the acrid smell of a wet and muddy Gatsby?

G-O-N-E-!

Now, I know we had it yesterday and all of the proper preceding yesterdays. I was more than certain we were not living sans bean. Where could they be? I search. I sleuth. I seek.  I sadden. Surely this travesty of coffee injustice can’t be real? I pinch myself, checking for a nightmare of the grandest proportions. OUCH! A bluish, purplish bruise begins to form on my arm.

I cannot awaken the Mrs., for that act alone will startle the process of a blissful balanced morning. Little and Big will arise, volumes will blare. I’m not yet prepared for the whining, bickering or boisterousness that can at any moment, start our day.

Your great happiness is based on the warmth of your heart.

With my tail between my legs, I once again look in the stark, coffeeless cabinetry. I pull, dare I say it, a tea bag please my tea loving friends, take no offense. I let the hot water surround the floating bag of contained leaves. I am startled by hints of raspberry when I desperately seek the bold intensity, and surprisingly low acidity of my morning Frenchie. Tall, dark and musty.

I see now that this day can only improve.

Yiddish Proverb:

If you are going to eat pork, eat the best kind. Ez men est khazer zol rinen ariber del bord.

L’chaim! To life! This very beautiful life.

 

Some great folks I like to share with….

 

I never do this, but hey, why not?

No joke, I have always resolved not to make resolutions. But now, today, this minute, everything I know as real and true is so farshlugganeh (crazy, mixed up, downright nuts), I figured, why the hell not! I know! Already, you’re discouraged. Just stick with me a minute. In a true to form, ‘Castanza-ian’ way, a little WWGD (What would George Do) might actually make sense. Is that so wrong?

Yiddish Proverb:

When the time comes for you to live, there aren’t enough years. Ven di tsayt kumt far ir tsu lebn, zenen nisht genug yorn.

I think I can see 2019 from here… #shankyoupets

In an effort not to redo my entire life, I’ve stuck to five important well I think so things to help ring in the continuing saga and clusterfu#k that was 2018 the New Year, 2019. And please, don’t worry too, too much… I’m not going to shmie around (wander aimlessly) into another hopeless, political rant.

  1. Do my very best to stay healthy in mind and body. I see the snow on my roof and I know, at 668 months old you can do the math, I need to take good care of me so I can be here to watch my kinder have kinder (children have children), should they ever be allowed to leave the roost. Gutinue! (disbelief) Like this, it could ever happen? I will continue to eat healthfully and mindfully, exercise daily and keep control of my farcockteh (effed up, literally, all crapped up) neck pain. I will feed my soul with books of fiction and nonfiction over bouts of frenzied social media usage. And I will be present with the beautiful people that surround me and give me hope.
  2. Continue the Chaos of the Smile Theory, because we all really need it! Smiles, like yawns, colds and STD’s, they are contagious. Smiling is a nice and easy way of passing along some TLC to our fellow neighbors. If I can be a zeisah neshumah (sweet soul) and, pass it along to others, maybe, just maybe we can build some much-needed love and trust in this world. Slapping a smile on this punim (face) as I type! Can you feel it?
  3. Never stop doing random, simple, nice things for others. Basically, I’ll be a mensch (good-hearted person). As I enter a building, why not hold the door open for others? When I see someone trying desperately to leave a parking lot, I will wave them in front of me and into my lane of traffic. What fun it will be to randomly buy an ice cream cone or a coffee for the person behind me in line. I must continue to pick up litter as I walk my Gatsby. I will remember to bring the love of my life a beautiful flower, a drawing, a poem, a morsel of dark chocolate. I’ll take a mensch over a nogudnik (I bet you know this one!) any day of the week, wouldn’t you?
  4. Send daily thoughts of light and healing to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. One tough cookie, my hero is! And I know, she has made it this far without me. Beating cancer, sexism, glass ceilings, and did I say beating cancer? Three times now — kaynahora (pthui-pthui, keep away evil and harm). It can’t hurt for me to send waves of love her way. Some role model she is, for our sweet maideleh’s (little girls). Stay healthy Ruthie!
  5. Stay fierce, frugal and have more fun! Life, it’s hard. No smoking gun here… It comes with its built-in, brutal knocks. But as far as I know, this life is all I’ve got. Nu? As things come hurling their way at us, at me as they often do, I will find the inner power to work harder and care for my delightful, deserving family. Penny-wise is now, simply wise. We are running lean and will find new ways to run leaner.  WTF? Challenge accepted. Game on. And, if this is as good as it gets, I will add fun, play, sparkles, glitter, joy, and laughter wherever and whenever it is humanly possible. We girls, we just gotta have more fun!

Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.

— Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice

So, that is it my friends.
I am sincerely wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead. C’mon 2019! I’m reading, willing and able! A bie gezunt! Go in good health!

Some great folks I like to share with….

Yiddisheh Momma Feels the Christmas Magic!

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.

From top left, Little getting ready before the show, soldiers, those damned bobby pins, dancer for the Chinese segment

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.

From left, Big as Nutcracker doll, party girl, getting ready for the Russian dance, $#@! bobby pins…

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 a bissel (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!

Yiddish Proverb:

When you teach your daughter, you teach your daughter’s daughter. Ven ir lernen deyn tokhter, ir lernen deyn tokhter tokhter.

Zie gezunt! Be in good health.

 

Some great folks I like to share with….

I have hope …

Yiddish Proverb:

If things are not as you wish, wish them as you are. Aoyb das iz nisht vi ir vilt, vil zey vi ir zent.

I have hope.

I have reason to be a bissel (a little bit) hopeful my friends. Many of you know, I can kvetch (rant) who me? about the tsuris (troubles) this country, my country, faces daily with senseless gun violence. Finally, the tides are turning in the right direction. Hard work with great organizations like #MomsDemandAction and #EverytownForGunSense had thousands and thousands of supporters hockin meir in chinik (banging on the tea kettle) and the noise went straight to our elected officials.

There is good news in the fight against guns. We were heard. The Federal Government (yes, this very government), is making way to ban bump stocks. For those of you living in safer climes (it should only stay that way), a bump stock is an evil, technical gizmo that when attached, makes an automatic rifle or a gun, fire faster, for an outcome that ensures a greater loss of life.

After countless, senseless, violent gun atrocities, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) will finally take the necessary (and legal) actions to ban these horrific firearm accessories.

Do I want more? You bet I do. Do I think they should ban (all guns) automatic rifles? Magazine clips? Should anyone who purchases a gun have to go through a thorough background check? Nu? Is it okay that it is harder to buy a decongestant at the local pharmacy than it is to buy a gun in the US?

This victory, I will take with pride. The people are speaking out. Together, we will continue to do the work to make this world a safer place for my kinder, and for yours.

Last week, I was driving home from a school meeting, and I stopped to see this memorial of t-shirts. Each shirt represents a Philadelphian, a person, gunned down and killed by illegal guns. I stopped the car, goosebumps on my arms. I walked over to see the shirts, read the names. I paid my respects.

There are just too many. Like a baby, I cried, as the sky darkened over this harsh display of lost lives.

A couple of weeks’ back, the police, ambulances, and fire trucks, sirens blaring, they all came careening down our street. They stopped in front of our house? WTF? What was wrong? What had happened? Yellow police tape rolling out, flashlights scouring the sidewalks and road.

Apparently, a young, maybe 14, 15-ish-year-old boy, shot himself in the hand too close for comfort up the street. Who knows what he was trying to do, or with whom. As choices go, smart, he isn’t. As the ambulance sped off, I hugged my kinder, my Mrs. even tighter.

Yiddish Proverb:

As long as a person lives, the entire world is too small; after death, the grave is big enough. Azoy lang der mensch lebt iz im di gantse velt tsu kleyn; nokhn toyt iz im der kever genug.

Zai gezunt. Go in good health.

Look out NRA. We are going to #BreakThePattern

I have hope.

 

Some great folks I like to share with….

On the first night of…

On the eighth crazy night, when the Menorah was ablaze with the miracle of Hanukkah… Oy, we should only make it to the eighth night! Nu, at least they make good birthday candles too.

On the first night of Hanukkah, my kinder, they said to me, “When will we go get our Christmas tree?”

On the second night of Hanukkah, the maideleh’s, they asked for Santa, so I asked my Mrs.,  “Please! Pass me more Mylanta?”

On the third night of Hanukkah, this came from the mouth of my Little, “What’s with those latkes burning on the griddle?”

On the fourth night of Hanukkah, Big, she said outright, “This is what happens for eight crazy nights?

By the fifth night of Hanukkah, the menorah was buried on the shelf. Mensch on the Bench has nothing over that meshuggeneh elf!

By the sixth night of Hanukkah, we did homework and gai schluffin; the mention of dreidel sent the kinder a-runnin’

By the seventh night of Hanukkah, our Christmas stockings were all lined up. Hanukkah, jeez… why am I dreying my kup?

By the eighth night of Hanukkah, clearly not going as planned. Us Jews, we must schmooze and do a total re-brand.

So for all who may attempt the menorah with delight, have fun, nosh on latkes, and to all a good night.

Yiddish proverb:

If grandma had a beard, she would be grandpa. Oyb di bobe volt gehat a bord, volt zi geven a zeyde.

That’s Hanukkah in a Christmas world. All is good.

A bei gezunt! In good health!

Some great folks I like to share with…

How on earth will we talk about this?

As I was adding the final touches for this post, these two were listening and watching, “We Are The World” on YouTube, circa 1985. How fitting…

Yiddish Proverb:

What will become of the sheep if the wolf is the judge? Vos vet vern fun di sheps aoyb di volf iz di rikhter?

My kinder (children), they truly feel the anxiety in our home. They soak it in as they happily leap from the yellow school bus and cross the entryway into our home. They see it when I return from work each night. I am literally wearing the news on my punim (face) – and it is not a good look.

Big and Little, they know about deadly gun violence because they see me put on my orange cloak of activism and fight for gun sense laws (no guns makes the most sense to me) with Moms Demand Action. They hear my spiel (talk, like “please, don’t hang up…    on…     me!) pleading with complete strangers about conceal carry reciprocity and bump stocks, week after week.

But now, tragedy, it strikes daily. How can their naive and tender, trusting souls take in all of the madness when I have trouble simply not crying at the office or pumping the car with gas? Smart people who study such things, scholars, they say we need to tell our kinder in real-time, as the bad things occur. They say that when they hear hard/tragic news from us, the people they love and trust most, they can best take in the inconceivable and somehow still feel safe.

Feeling safe. Aside from my day job, isn’t that what I am here to do? How can I promise protection for my maideleh’s (sweet girls) in a world that can kill you while learning, praying, playing, watching a movie, doing yoga? I have read that we only tell them what is absolutely true. Live in the moment. “You, my sweet bubbelah’s (babies), are safe here, now.”  No promises that you cannot absolutely keep. Truth.

Yiddish Proverb:

Who owes her the hole in the bagel? Ver ouz ir di lokh in di bagel?

My father, he used to explain things to me and then say, “Capiche? (Understand?)  I did (well mostly), but he wasn’t hurling around huge concepts like anti-Semitism, racism, nationalism, white-supremacy. At eight and ten, hatred, violence, and grief are ‘tough to swallow’ dinner table topics. Allow them time to think, ask questions. As many questions as they need to ask. Always answer with honesty and reassure them of the many people around them, in addition to us, who are also safe havens for them. 

This past weekend, we even developed a ‘code word’ for our family after reading the news story about a little girl in Arizona who thwarted her would be captor in a potential kidnapping with, “What’s the code word? If you are picking me up, what’s the code word?” Be prepared.

And this, all of this is what I call a shondah (a shame, pity).

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving, people all over America will be getting together to celebrate, sup, break bread and nosh together. Many families have been as divided as those gonefs (thieves, dishonest people) on the hill in DC. Many topics are now more taboo than ever before. Politics and sports are out. Perhaps sex is a safe, go-to conversation? Wishing you all, a safe, loving and enjoyable time. And, may we all find a way to unite. Capiche?

L’Chiam! To life!

Invisibility

Yiddish Proverb:

How many will listen to the truth when you tell them? Vi file veln hern tsu dem ams ven ir zogn zey?

Truth time.

My Mrs. and me, we did not meet at a book club. Yes, we read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and yes, we loved it (in fact this is a book everyone should read, especially today). We even convinced our friends to name their first daughter Scout, and our first pug was named Atticus Finch. If at some point in our lifetime together, we told you that this is how we met, I am sorry. We weren’t quite healthy enough to speak our truth. Thankfully, we are now well over the stigma and only want to help where we can.

Here is our real story: About one million years ago, or at least a couple or so decades ago, we both arrived at our first meeting for women with eating disorders. We were at one of the very top treatment centers, The Renfrew Center, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. As the young therapist unlocked the door and turned on the lights, not one of us in the group made eye contact. We scuttled about uncomfortably searching for a seat that could somehow feel safe. Everyone stared at the floor. No one made a sound. Occasionally, one could hear a belly growl or the sounds of digestion. If pins were to drop, we would have heard them. And after what felt like hours of bone-chilling silence at a call for introductions, the person who is now my Mrs., she said, “Oh, okay. I’ll go first.” 

Slowly, painfully, we made our way around the room. Not one of us admitted sickness. Not one of us ‘needed’ to be there. The very long, often unbearable road to health and wellness had begun. 

You might say, Lisalah, why now? Why are you telling us this? The answer, as always, is in the eyes of my Big and my Little. We want desperately for them to hold on to the joys of childhood and develop a strong foundation of self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem. We are trying to raise our maidelehs (sweet girls) to be brave and mighty, rebel girls as they grow up in this harsh, misogynistic world. We also want them to become women who have a healthy relationship with food. Imagine that! Eating, breaking bread, a nice nosh, all such an important part of our life in terms of sustenance, social interaction, nurturing, and sensuality.

To the caregivers of all of the beautiful kinder that are out there, please know that children, they have ears that hear what you, relatives, friends, teachers, coaches, say, even whisper. With social media, unhealthy messages are persistent for vulnerable children and adults. Know, be on the lookout, be prepared. Catch it early. Eating disorders are one of the mental illnesses that have a 20% mortality rate. That is too high. I vividly remember that day in 1983 when Karen Carpenter lost her battle to anorexia nervosa. Understand that you have an ally in me. No stigma. No judgment.

Today in America, over 30 million people of all ages and genders are suffering from an eating disorder. Suffering — that is a kind word for it. As a person in full recovery, this stat, which is on the rise, makes me so profoundly sad. I know the loneliness and sorrow that fills their people-pleasing, loving hearts and souls. I know the pain and overwhelming lack of self-worth that comes from seeking invisibility first hand.

I write about this today for three reasons:

First, so many people, caregivers, parents, and patients all, live in denial. It’s easy to look away, and say, “Nope, not me.” “Not my kid.” “They’ll grow out of this.” If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, learn about eating disorders. Educate yourself to what may be ahead. Talk to your child openly with compassion and empathy. Listen. Love. DO NOT make your talk about appearance. If you say something like, “…you are nothing but skin and bones…” you can easily validate that they are on the right path. This disease, and it is a disease, affects the mind too. Emphasize to them that it is not their fault.

Second, the holidays are fast approaching. Group meals, big meals, family gatherings will feel threatening, frightening to the eating disordered person. They will avoid it at all costs. They will feign sickness, volunteer, say they are eating with friends, all in an effort to avoid the Festivus you are so eagerly awaiting.

Third, you must act compassionately and quickly. Your silence can be deadly. My eating disorder was a cry for help, screaming as loudly as I could scream — a young woman with no voice.

Here are some important things to look for in your child/friend/neighbor:

  • Any weight changes, up or down
  • Differences in eating patterns, like avoiding family meals, or an inability to eat with others
  • Pushing food around the plate; excessive use of condiments; you may even notice the family pet gaining weight
  • New dietary regimes like vegetarianism; fear of certain foods, obsessions with other foods
  • A dramatic increase in physical activity and exercise
  • Going to the bathroom immediately after a meal; spending a long time in the bathroom
  • Missing food that may be hidden away for another time, or eaten when alone
  • Mood and social activity changes
  • Distorted sense of body image; wearing big or baggy clothing
  • Thinning or brittle hair
  • Digestion or bowel issues
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Tooth and gum problems (often times the dentist is the first to notice)
  • Fine hair growth over the body

If you see these symptoms in your kinder, offer your compassionate heart. Be a loving, nurturing part of the journey. The causes of eating disorders, as the layers of an onion, are so complex. Genetics, environmental, psychological and cultural issues all come into play. Emphasis on diet, looks and body shape only add to the dangerous mix of complex behavioral issues lurking in our society.

I had an eating disorder from the age of thirteen. I sought help, at 32. A lot of damage was done in between those years. It was an excruciating battle to overcome what I believed was ‘my very best friend.’ No number on the scale ever offered satisfaction. Tied in with anorexia, as it oftentimes is, was a major depression. I desperately wanted my outline to get smaller, lighter until it, until I, disappeared. Nothing less than that would be deemed a success.

I had an ‘entire team of people’ trying to help me, help myself. I had a therapist, medical doctor, nutritionist, and psychiatrist, all specializing in my illness. I even spent several months outpatient at a clinic. I called it ‘food camp’ and ‘my unfortunate incarceration.’ At 35, I had to re-learn how to feed myself. When I had to use the bathroom, I had to leave the door wide open and sing the entire time I was in there.

I had never really tasted a food, any food until I was 40. Yes, you read that correctly! The Mrs., and me, we went on a bike trip through Tuscany. We were both finally healthy and happy — new foods and flavors danced in my mouth in a way I had never experienced. Nu? So this is what people have been talking about?

Over time, a great deal of damage has been done to my body. I have had multiple painful gum surgeries to stop the gum recession in my mouth from acid reflux caused by not eating and from throwing up. Too much diet soda led to kidney stones. Malnutrition and missing periods for years at a time led to infertility and brought on early osteopenia and osteoporosis. I even have bone loss in my mouth and jaw.

I am so very grateful I figured out, with a great deal of help, that I was worth the fight. We are proof that this awful disease can be overcome successfully.

Yiddish Proverb:

Love is sweet but it’s nice to have bread with it. Lib iz zis ober es iz feyn tsu hobn broyt mit im.