The puzzle that is time

Where does the time go… 24/7 is our new normal? Oy, fraig nisht (don’t ask). Eighty-one years is the average age of life on this planet in the U.S. its probably much less with mrt at the helm to live. If you’re a man, you get an average of 78.7 years. How many heartbeats? How do we spend our time? What makes us happy? What constitutes a life well lived? These answers change from person to person, and I have been doing a lot of mulling this over of late. So much so, my head hurts (se tit meer vay der kop).

Everyone’s road is different. Life, it is filled with zillions of invisible tugs of war, pulling and tugging at us — some good, some not so much. Sometimes we fly through tsuris (trouble) with ease, other times, we need more agility — extra adeptness, newfound compassion, empathy.

Can we get balance among the commotion? When do we know what feels good and what hurts, pains us? What about ethics, morals, values, pain, conflict, money, love, empathy, gratitude, compassion…is there a pattern? There is no manual, I do know that…

If our time is finite, we probably should handle it with care. Even when our email is full and voicemail is no longer accepting messages If our energy is fixed, we should do our best to expend it wisely. If we crave healing, we should actively seek restoration. If we desire love, let the heart sing. Can we afford to bargain at this table? I don’t think so… and yet I know I have danced along the ledge. I was young, pained, not yet so wise… So what? (Iz nu?) 

Tseitn derlaibt! Oh, the times we have lived to see! 

May there be many more tomorrows for us all…

Shvesters

My recipe (note, I’m no cook!):

  • Do work that is meaningful
  • Follow your heart
  • Always, always, always, be kind to others
  • Live out loud

 

Are you living your life well?  It’s never too late to change things up a bit. Tell me how you do it?

 

The week that was… different

Spring break and we have been counting the days to our trip to see my mishpocheh (family). We’ve had four Nor’easters in 3 weeks, snow up to my tuchas (tush, derriere) and all too much tsuris (troubles, stress, woe) filling our minds. The thought of 80-degree weather, sunshine, swimming, and laughing my ass off with my shvester (sister) until we literally wet ourselves was naturally the stuff of dreams… like unicorns, L.O.L surprise dolls, and glitter falling from the sky. And the kinder (my girls), they love seeing their Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins more than anything!

A blast from the past! From the top, schvoger, shvester, me, little, big

T minus two days, and the fever, she burns through my Little. A temperature of almost 104She had complained of a tummy ache, and like all good Jewish-atheist momma’s, I told her to sit on the potty. She has had so much junk food of late, a good poo would be a relief like it would for all of us. She tried, my madelah (sweet girl). We watch The Greatest Showman on the telly.

This is my magical cocktail, keeping me safe. TY Ilaria! Notice how my cup is marked — no sharing with the sickies — my glass, half-full

T minus one day, fever sticking around like gum underneath the table in a diner. Lethargy and skin as pale as fine porcelain said porcelain will play a role very soon. We plan, we pack, we share the news of germs and we try to stay positive. We watch The Greatest Showman, then we snuggle off to bed, my Little wrapped tightly in my arms. A few tired hours pass and we all awaken to a fountain of vomit. Nothing really says love more than getting thrown up on, and only worrying about the helpless, unhappy, scared little patient in your arms. We clean her up. Big, she helps us to change the sheets and blankets. The Mrs. presses the ‘sanitize’ button on the wash cycle.

There is a strange calm in the air, with a scent none too pleasant. Little, she fell fast and hard to sleep, again tucked close by my side. I could hear the soft crying moans from Big, realizing that we wouldn’t be taking that big ol’ jet airliner in a few hours time. Tears roll down my cheeks, silently. At 4 am I text my shvester, our friend who was to stay with Gatsby. We are a no go. Ix-nay on this oliday-hay.

Has the world ended? No. Are we grateful that we only have a petite passing pathogen that will eventually vanish? Of course. Are we all desperately disappointed? Big time.

Day of. I let all three of my girls sleep. I promise my Big that we will find a way to make it fun. That we will take turns taking her out of the sickly house and have some well-earned fun. I speak several times with my mishpocheh. My schvoger (bro-in-law), he punches frantically in the keyboard to see if we can squeeze out different dates of travel, salvage our trip. We have teary-eyed FaceTime calls. So many plans they had in store for us! Vey iz mir. (oh my effing G). 

Gatsby, so happy

Little, she cries for my Mrs. to stay with her, so Big and I make our way into the world. We have a nice nosh (little something to eat) at Starbucks. And head to the movies in a gray, teary day. We see A Wrinkle In Time. The woman at the ticket sales booth is 803 years old if she is a minute. In the past, she has given me the senior rate, to my dismay. Today, she again rings us up, 1 senior, 1 child. I feel the dark cloud above, rather than reveling in the 8 dollar savings. f*ck it and enjoy the show with your daughter

We had a lovely afternoon and decided Little, she would have been afraid in this movie. We bring home a vast array of popsicles (they used to call them poppa-sicles) for the sick one, in hopes of getting her to eat/drink. We learn of the day spent in (and close to) the porcelain seat, now the excrement exodus from the southern region. Oy. This reaffirms our tough decision. We watch The Greatest Showman. 

Little finally wakes up with no fever and no symptoms. We convince her of just one more day indoors. The 24 hour, fever free rule — to keep the rest of humanity safe.

photo by my Mrs., hair by my Little

Her hair has begun to form dreadlocks. We all fear the brushing of that mop. The Mrs., she starts round one, and Big, me and Gatsby head out the door to explore our new ‘hood. We walk for an hour, in hopes of better hair days. We have such a good time! Gatsby is loving the spring and leaving pee-mail messaging around for all his new friends.

We open the front door to a geshrei (shriek, loud, unearthly Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween cry). At least another hour goes by, and I am summoned so Big can get out’a dodge with the Mrs. Armed with a brush, conditioner, and really bad TV, I sit with my muse. It will be 4:45pm before I claim victory. Her head, like a BP oil spill, finally combs through. We did it.

Later that night, we watch The Greatest Showman. Who knew our spring break, our circus, would also be our groundhog day. Aud-o, Steve-o, Max, Vic, we love and miss you all so much.

Yiddish Proverb:

A mensch tracht un Got lacht. Man plans and God laughs.

 

From The Greatest Showman:

‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open.

So come alive!

And of course, a bei gesunt. As long as you’re healthy! Stop by tonight! The Greatest Showman, 8pm.

That’s it. Period.

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…

Big and Little, so grown up!

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.

Inside Red Canna, 1919 Georgia O’Keefe (c). I had to put it in…

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.

Who doesn’t love a nice carousel ride

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!

      

      

      

Eat a little, ess a bissel!

Normally, I say to my Gatsby, “Ess a bissel eppis, tatelleh,” (eat a little something, my darling boy. Then I feed him his 5,6,7 times a day nosh (meal). I always thought nothing is too good for my boy, until this happened! Oy vey…

Big is wrapping the injured hand of Millie, while our cute, but very guilty Gatsby, looks on… Millie, she smiles like all Wellie Wishers do!

Camille and Willa, American Girl Wellie Wishers, arrived from dear friends for Channukah for Big and Little. Nachas! (Joy!) Clearly, they love them! They take them everywhere and play with them non-stop. As a review, 10 stars out of 5! These dolls are a perfect size, easy to play with, less fear about ruining their well-coifed hairdo’s, and a lot lighter on the ‘wallet inflicted pain’ than their taller cohorts command. (This review is my own. I am not paid for my opinion. I should only, one day, be so lucky! Pooh, pooh)

One minute we are playing ‘Simon-says’, and the next minute, Camille (nick-named Millie) goes from 10-fingers-perfect to nine-OMG! One furry bruder (brother), guilty with his ‘jaws in the finger jar!’ Chicken bones are very nice, but the fresh, full-flavored fingers of a new Wellie doll, dee-lish! I look, I run, I scream, “DROP IT!” Out pops a very little, doll finger.

One minute we are playing ‘Simon-says’, and the next minute, Camille (nick-named Millie) goes from 10-fingers-perfect to nine-OMG! One furry bruder (brother), guilty with his ‘jaws in the finger jar!’ Actual size, less than 3/8 of an inch.

We recovered the damaged doll digit and somehow managed to save the injured soul of my Big, who did everything possible to successfully keep her emotions in check. I promised her I would soon perform a much-needed fingerectomy on dear Millie. I would reattach the pummeled pointer with the very best of my Jewish-doctor abilities. She knows I am a well-trained tinkerer, I fix things. I will make Millie whole.

Yiddish proverb:

When I am eating, everyone can go to hell! Ven ich ess, ch’ ob ich alles in dread.

Gatsby, he thinks, his only crime is getting caught! Lucky for him, he is so darned cute.

Caught, finger in mouth

Wishing everyone all the best the holiday season has to offer! Health, happiness, and prosperity! ❤

  

On Sunday it was summer

Without some outdoor play, they are both like vilda chayas (wild animals).

      

  

Busy, Shmizzy: Eat Together for a Better World

Folks, it’s time for a post update. We still fearlessly, tirelessly, endlessly march on, supping together in hopes of a higher purpose. Manners are hard to come by here at the Manor. This week I see that mac-n-cheese is still perceived and approached as finger food. Opposable thumbs do not impress our small humans. The Mrs., and me, our voices continue to make no sound at all to our giggly little, pierced ears who nosh (eat a little) during this very important nutritional act of derring-do. My glass, it stays half full yes, they spilled again, but I am using the metaphor now

and this is how we eat noodles
and this is how we eat noodles, in stereo with Cousin Max, at a restaurant no less, in public… Oy!

I’m always telling suggesting to the Mrs. about the importance of sitting down together to ess a bissel (eat a little). How we need to dine with the full mishpocheh (family). Studies by big machers (hot shots) like scholars and doctors all laud the big meal get together as the solution to practically all that plagues the planet (don’t get me started, oy vey iz mir).

Jointly sitting and supping brings benefits to the body, brain and overall ‘mini-mojo’ of our kinder (kids). A nice nosh (proper meal) together makes for little Epicureans that become ‘epi-curious’ eaters who will choose more fruits and veggies, and pick less fried foods and sugary beverages. If mealtime is conquered correctly, the consuming kinder (children) are less likely to kvell (be happy) over a ‘happy meal’ that is loaded with tasty toxins, added fats, oils and who the hell knows what other unsavory ingredients. They won’t hunger for the little tchotchkes (small, unnecessary plastic toys), that promote future gluttony and materialism. They will be less likely to become obese. That alone equals a healthier lifestyle with fewer illnesses. Kaynahorah (to ward off evils — like the big C, heart disease and stroke), all this magic with one familial sit down a day?

Wait! There’s more. Those same above-mentioned mavens add that clever conversation over a nice meal boosts vocabulary for our kinder (kids), which makes for stronger, happier readers. Nu? If you can survive manage regular family mealtimes as the kinder mature, higher test scores, better grades and overall academic performance are in your future.

Add an avocado to the meal, and you win top honors in Nobel nutrition.

Well, it is obvious that no maven of any sort has observed the goings on at our little corner of the dining room here at the Manor. The Mrs. and me, we do our best to offer nightly variations of healthy, overly expensive organic suppers while trying to stick to our frugalista rice and beans every night still ways. With you, I must be honest, dinners hock mier en chinikeh (drives me bat-shit crazy). Etiquette and decorum have left the building by this witching hour!

Things usually start smoothly. The girls, they clean up a bit and set the table when we beg, plead and bribe. They help bring out our food (beans and rice). We all sit, and the Mrs. and I, we ask open-ended questions like a job interview to try to get them to respond speak with us. They sit with their knees up, spread eagle (vey iz mir), and have clearly left their listening ears in the ‘OFF’ position. They seem to have their own form of communication that is specifically designed to exclude us. They use their fingers instead of utensils even for soup. In fact, just last night, I was prompted to wax eloquent on the beauty of our opposable thumbs and how they separate us from the animal kingdom in hopes they would just pick up a g-damned fork or a spoon and eat like humans.

Little, she has a tendency to lick random and incredibly disgusting things WTF. She gets up from the table an average of  267 times per meal. She may need more water, go use the bathroom, want something better to eat, have an undeniable urge to dance, jump on the trampoline, or simply incite an enormous giggle-fest with Big. And I won’t kid you when I say it, she ‘toots like a trumpeter’ at the table. My madelah (sweet little girl)!

Big, she started with the whole knees up posture. She may use a fork for a moment or two, then she will quickly resort to her more primal instincts and pick up everything with her fingers, especially condiments. She can tell a story or two during dinner, and get up to act it out, share via interpretive dance, or become totally taken in by the mishegas (craziness) of Little. This leaves the Mrs. and me sitting table-side for what must be days, weeks, months hours, getting all cobwebby, and stiff-jointed, waiting for her to finish the feast.

And mittendrinnen (in the middle of everything), Gatsby, will jump into any temporarily vacated seat, and make a quick and successful quest for any food sitting idle.

Gatsby, on the prowl
Gatsby, on the prowl

The shvesters (sisters) behavior has the Mrs. and me chugging the Apple Cider Vinegar (an excellent indigestion remedy) nightly, straight from the bottle. It’s a mitzvah (good deed) we don’t drink enough or at all!

Lo and behold, we will endure these rituals because we have put our trust in the big macher alrightniks (good people).

Charlotte, she will weave her nightly web around us. We make this sacrifice night after night with the promise that our girls will not engage in high-risk behaviors like smoking, drugs or sex ever, ever, ever. They won’t have depressed or suicidal thoughts. They will avoid bullies at school and online. They will be self-confident and self-loving and avoid eating disorders.

They will be strong, mighty girls who can lean in at any table. And they will have empathy and compassion, because each night, we do our best to make it through another make your own burrito bowl.

I wonder if there are any studies of what happens to us mom’s as we suffer go through this phase?

A bei gezunt (Live and be well).

 

Linky’s:

      

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The Children’s Book I read often, as an Adult

Zen Shorts, By Jon J Muth

“Michael! There’s a bear outside!”  

Nu? Is this some opening line? The book, is Zen Shorts, by Jon J Muth. The bear, Stillwater, a giant panda that has appeared in the backyard of Karl, Michael, and Addy, much to Karl’s surprise. Stillwater (very Gatsby-esque) is wise, kind, and what I envision as an animal equivalent to the great Buddha. As the mensch (filled with wisdom and always takes the high road) of a Panda relates with each of kinder (children), a different and appropriate Zen tale is shared.

The first thing I love so much about this particular book is the illustrations. Beautifully simple, yet exquisite watercolor illustrations accompany each interaction of Stillwater and the kinder. The lighting and transparency of the moment in time displayed perfectly paints the puzzles and problems that we all, as humans on this very planet, face daily. Each Zen narrative Stillwater shares is shown with the stunning, yet elegant strokes of Japanese ink paintings. Re-examine your thoughts, habits, longings, ideas, and fears as this giant bear divvies out the possibility of new insight.

As Stillwater gifts each kinder (child) with an ancient anecdote (Zen meditation), I believe he strikes a chord that will resonate with all of us, and certainly touches me with every read.

To be clear, as I know it, Zen (literally, a Japanese word for meditation) is not a religion, faith or doctrine. It comes free of dogma and one need not believe in anything (kind of like this Yiddisheh mama) to practice, or even read this enchanting tale. It is so simple, that it is excruciatingly difficult for me to explain. One must throw away all thoughts of intellect to experience Zen. Sit quietly, free your mind and allow for your own self-discovery to begin. Zen is not at all about moral teachings; it is filled with how to think, and even more so, how not to think (turn off that cruel, inner voice. What voice? Exactly!).

Many a night I offer to read this book to my shana madalehs (sweet girls) in the hopes of passing along these freeing ism’s, especially today, in this world we inhabit. And just as often, I place this book in my backpack as I head off to work, to read again during a quiet nosh (nibbles of food) at lunchtime. It greatly helps me in resetting the disturbances of daily news alerts and chaotic headlines that incorporate ‘life as we now know it.’ 

I love and treasure this book.  I have gifted it to children of all ages.

Stillwater brings me solace, entertains my Little and my Big, and hopefully provides a foundation in ‘thought process’ that will help guide them through the mundane,  the shock-filled stories, and everything in between that composes the many stories of our lives.

As a disclaimer, no one has asked me to review this book. I was not paid or given a thing for this post. However, Stillwater has proven time and again, to be priceless. I simply wanted to share him with all of you.

Peaceful coexistence, Gatsby, and our Stillwater

Even for bad luck, one needs luck. Tsum shlimazel muz men oich mazel hoben.

This review is my own, I just wanted to share this very special book with you.  If you have something you would like me to review, just reach out! I am happy to help always.