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…

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.

 

 

 

Hello. Yeah, it’s been a while.

Yiddish Proverb:

Hob ich a zorg! Zoll ich zorgen! Why should I worry! I should worry.

I want to thank so many of you who have reached out to me to see if I am okay. I am one lucky Yiddisheh momma, feeling such love and support around this globe! And, please know, I am okay. I am as okay as one can be, as a woman, a lesbian, and a Jew in these ‘guns blazing’ United States. I am out of my mind with worry over the upcoming mid-term elections, and I have a very important 4-letter word I would like to share with everyone. VOTE.

Vote like your life depended on it because it does. Vote for the kinder (children) who will inherit this madness we leave behind. Vote because your voice, it needs to be heard. Vote in solidarity against the racism, rhetoric, lies, hate, bias, and bigotry. Vote for those whose lives were stolen in Pittsburgh, in Jeffersontown, in too many towns to list.

VOTE.

That’s all I got right now. Nu, voos zugt eir gits? What the good word?

The Big Dig

Detective Gatsby is on it, again. Readers of this space, you know very well, that something ‘a-fowl’ has been going on in our community. Long ago, the Great Gatsby uncovered many a capon caper, finding bones, breasts, thighs, and wings, scattered and strewn about on our daily constitutionals. Sometimes, with his mighty schnoz, he would locate bbq sauce or ketchup, even fries to accompany his hidden haul. If you are new here, please stay, have a little nosh (something to eat), enjoy yourself proceed with caution. The paltry poultry that has been uncovered is not for the faint of heart.

I know I smell chicken. I know it. It’s in the air. I will find you…

Courageous as all-get-out, secure in his forensic anthropology degree, and led by his hunger for justice and all things edible, even the most disgusting and vile things you can imagine while walking outdoors, G has been sinking his teeth happily habitually into brand new evidence. He now knows why all of the chicks want so desperately to cross the road nirvana and why the caged birds sing tweet.

As you can see, G has been participating in The Big Dig, only to uncover glass, bottle caps, material, empty bags of chips, plastic straws, and yes, chicken bones. Oy, my yard… don’t get me started…

Apparently, right in our own backyard, there has been a major unearthing of evidence. It is all beginning to make sense. The dirt is there yes, that is our mess of a yard from our four-legged boychick (little sweet boy). While uncovering the cadavers of said cockerels is his favorite pastime, G has realized the problem is bigger than (cooked) birds and their petty parts. While focussing primarily on pullet and cock-a-doodle-doo, even Gatsby realizes the real tsuris (trouble) in town is L-I-T-T-E-R.

Some findings… pretty disgusting of us

Philadelphia, in many ways, is and has been ‘Philth-adelphia’. Clean, they are not. Untidiness is all too often a way of life by too many who have seemingly bypassed trash cans mothers and Kindergarten lessons, leaving a trail of drek (trash, detritus), Hansel and Gretl style, in their wake. Litter begets litter. Trash begets trash. What kind of shlemiel (loser) has the chutzpah (balls, nerve) to leave their crap for others?

So my Mrs. and me, we have taken to grabbing an extra bag full of bits and scraps as we saunter about our shtetl (‘hood, village) walking our boychik. With Little and Big in tow, we are furthering the valuable lessons of rubbish removal and how we can be grateful for and feel good about a clean neighborhood. Further research us bloggers thrive on this stuff reveals a movement in Sweden where we may be headed should the midterms turn to sh*te called Plogging. This Nordic influence is as amazing as IKEA and is beginning to take the world by storm (btw: IKEA just opened in India this week), spreading to the UK, Germany, France, Thailand and hopefully here in the US too.

Plogging: Scandinavian word meaning to pick up litter while jogging in groups, making is socially fun and fantastically praise-worthy. This word comes from the fusion of the Swedish words “plocka” (picking [up]), and “jocka” (jogging). See, more than just Yiddish here!

So, for a while now, as we are out an about, walking the boychik, picking up his poop, we also shlep (drag, haul) and bag the drek of others, in hopes of beautifying the community and raising the bar on the ‘dump and run attitude (addy-tude in Philly slang)’ of our brethren. Thank you, Sweden!

Spent, after a full day of sleuthing, eating, pooping and plogging. Gei shluffin (go to sleep) Gatsby

Whose with me? Let’s go plogging! Alevei! It should only happen!

Yiddish Proverb:

In a good apple, you sometimes find a worm. In a shainem epel gefint men a mol a vorem.

 

I’m still wearing orange

These kids, they are the future

June is National Gun Violence Prevention Month. Shouldn’t June be, Hello, Summer, Month? Living here in these United Divided States, it’s something I take very seriously. Last year, I wore orange for Hadiya Pendleton. You can read about Hadiya and why #WearOrange became a movement here. I think about Hadiya daily, her stolen childhood and untapped, unfulfilled dreams. My heart breaks when I think about how her parents and friends must feel. And having never met her, I am deeply saddened that her bright light no longer shines in our world.

Hey, hey. Ho, ho. The NRA has got to go! HEY, HEY. HO, HO. THE NRA HAS GOT TO GO!

Top left: Me, the Mrs., bottom left: Little and Big

I look at my kinder (children) and I wonder if/when this epidemic of gun violence will stop. It is a health crisis, as virulent as Ebola. On June 2, I marched again, my Mrs., Little, and Big at my side. The crowd was little bigger, but not big enough. Hadiya deserved more people marching in her honor, a sea of orange for a necessary sea change…  Gun violence must not be the new normal. We should feel safe going about our days. Our own president ugh publicly addressed the NRA ugh ugh at their annual Convention and said, “I will not let you down. I will not let you down.”

We can END GUN VIOLENCE! We can END GUN VIOLENCE!

Movita Johnson-Harrell, at the June 2, Moms Demand Action March

Movita Johnson-Harrell. I #WearOrange for her too. This inspiring woman has lost her father, brother, and teen-aged son to homicide by gun violence. Tsuris (devastating pain, grief) does not begin to cover what she has been through in her lifetime. Her speech at our March in Philadelphia left nary a dry eye. My Mrs., she was verklempt (all choked up). Yet Movita, she gets up every day, puts a smile on her face, and works very hard to make sure no other momma will ever feel the pain she feels or experiences what she has experienced. She was even selected by our new D.A. Larry Krasner, a good man,  as Interim Supervisor of Victims Services. Who could understand victims and their families more than Movita? Through her broken heart, she helps others. A real mensch (good person, through and through).

Guns down! GUNS DOWN! Guns down! GUNS DOWN!

“Hi. I’m Lisa. I’m a volunteer, NOT ASKING for any MONEY, and I am calling for Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety…

Tell me what democracy looks like. THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!

Marching and gathering peacefully in protest is my right as a citizen, and I need to do more.  Each week, volunteering with Moms Demand Action, I make telephone calls to constituents all over the country, urging them to contact their legislators about concealed carry reciprocity. I often get yelled at, hung-up on, told that the person on the other end of the line is carrying… and I also, often connect, listen, politely inquire, challenge, and charmingly change the thought process with real facts. It is one of the toughest, yet most rewarding 60 minutes during my week.  Together with other volunteers, Moms has driven hundreds of thousands of phone calls to elected officials to battle the NRA and the ballot box.

I #WearOrange because I’m a mom who cannot comprehend losing a child, a family member, to gun violence. I #WearOrange to raise awareness. I #WearOrange because change will not happen unless we make it happen. I #WearOrange for all of the victims and their families. I #WearOrange because I know that #BlackLivesMatter. I #WearOrange for the #LGBTQ community. I #WearOrange for all the tragic, senseless massacres at schools, concerts, movie theatres… I #WearOrange for all of us who are oppressed, marginalized, hated and victimized. I #WearOrange because I believe we need to drastically reduce access to guns. I #WearOrange because we need to treat mental illness without shame or stigma.  I #WearOrange for all the families left behind from suicide. I #WearOrange because I care about the future. I #WearOrange because our elected officials need to see us and we need to vote.  I #WearOrange and I hope you will too.

 

Yiddish Proverb:

Gay gezunteh hait. Go in good health.

L’chiam! To life!

 

Captions

I’ve been a bit quiet of late, and yet I still have so much to say… Join me as we walk around our new neighborhood. The weather is good and we are exploring!

A heart that loves is always young. A hartz az lib iz shtendik iung.

There is nothing more spring-like the falling of pink snow from the trees. Perhaps unicorns come next? Look, how my Little, she eats up this moment! As thick as that pink snow that lies upon the ground is the pollen that is filling my throat.

 

Shpilkes: (Ants in your pants) That feeling my Little one gets when I ask her to sit, for just one small second, at the library… Big, she welcomes the opportunity.

We have the very best newly refurbished library right around the bend from us! What a gift.

 

A meowing cat can’t catch mice. A kas vos m’yavket ken kain meiz nit chapen.

Those green eyes, they caught me curbside as we walked by. This guy had no shpilkes, stopping for a photo.

 

We were potchki-ing (poking, looking) around for some plants for the yard, and look at the maidelah’s (sweet girls) I spied, with my own little eye.

We simply couldn’t decide yet. I think we need to draw a plan, and we must involve hydrangea.

 

A story without a moral is like a meal without a sweet dish. A mayseh on a moshi iz vi a moltsayt on a tsimes.

Did you know, I can get these girls to walk Gatsby anywhere if there is ice cream involved! Nu? It’s win-win for us all! We walk a mile, we nosh (grab a snack), we walk another mile. Then me and my Mrs., we get the benefits of tired kinder (kids) and tired pooch.

Shvesters… (sisters…)

Spring has sprung! And, it’s almost as lovely as the joy of seeing these two being so happy to be together. I’d like to say that happens all of the time I’d be lying through my teeth, but I’ll take it when I see it!

 

Where does it lead to? Vas iz dir takhlis?

Said Gatsby, never… He is just happy to be outside and surrounded by his mishpocheh (family). As for me, I feel the exact same way!

 

The bitterest misfortune can be covered up with a smile. Dem bitersten mazel ken men farshtellen mil a schmaichel

My nephew, Benny, he taught my Little that fortunes from a fortune cookie will only come true if you wet them, stick them to your forehead, and let them dry until they fall off. Well as you can see, she bought into the dream! I love the added lip action, for drama!

So, what have you been up to? Do tell!

 

 

The Saturday Simcha

Yiddish proverb:

Even in this world, one can taste the joy of paradise. Afilu in dem velt, eyner kenen tem di freyd fun ganeydn.

Today, was a mitzvah (nice thing, good deed) for our family. We went to my machatunim (in-laws) (no, they are not ‘those kind’ of in-laws — I am so fortunate) with kinder (children) and Gatsby in tow. We always enter wearing our own coat of chaos and clamor. The maideleh’s (sweet girls) cross the threshold of the doorway, and they are starving like we never ever feed them kind of starving. They are so hungry, they are challish (faint)Nona, she is always ready for them to ess a bissel (eat a little something). She even has choices. Within moments, they inhale large slabs of thick tomato pie. Their cavernous bellies yearn for more. Next up, olives. Gorgeous gourmet kalamatas, and giant green greek beauties stuffed with gorgonzola cheese. Still, the hollows of their kishkas (intestines) cry out, “more please.” One may surmise we only feed them at Nona’s house… Bagels, cream cheese? How about some tuna and bean salad? Nona, a sincere balaboosteh (gourmet cook, cleaner, gardener, caregiver, efficient and loving too — Martha Stewart, she would be impressed, and would learn a few things from our Nona) she whips it all up in minutes. Chips? Who wants chips? Finally, the rumbling bellies begin to bloat. Success.

All the while, amidst the boisterous banter, the barking boy and the pure joy of seeing and feeding her bubbellah’s (grandchildren), Pop Pop, he sleeps soundly in the front room — a den recently turned bedroom. There’s been such tsuris (troubles, worries, grief) with his declining health of late. Our Nona, with a heart of pure gold, she deserves a little frailecheh (happiness).

So once the din of lunch was complete, and the starvation was temporarily sated, Nona, My Mrs., Little, and Big left for some much-needed, light and happy time together. I happily stayed behind, with Gatsby and Pop Pop. And hopefully Nona, she knew he was in good hands/paws with us, kaynahorah (with some good fortune). She can for a time, take her nurse’s hat off and put her sun hat on. Feel the warmth on her back and in her heart.

After about an hour and a half, he woke up. We chatted a little. I brought him his medicine (because Alexa, she told me he had must take it), his lunch (which of course Nona had already prepared) and some fresh water. I helped with the TV channels when his large fingers couldn’t navigate the proper buttons, and Alexa couldn’t make out his voice, now fainter than normal. I gave him a yummy chocolate chip cookie. We watched some golf together, quietly. Talking, not so much.

A bit later, an explosion of noise was welcomed as they all poured through the front door. Smiles on happy faces. Squeals of love and hellos to their Pop Pop, now awake. Joy in their eyes. Joy in Nona’s eyes.

Our Nona’s joy, priceless. Happiness is found in the heart…

And you’ll never guess… The kinder, they were hungry, famished even. After a nice nosh (snack), we headed outside to play. Scooters, hula hoops, and fun.

Joy for Nona, priceless.

To all, a bi gezunt (be healthy).