Out of the mouths of Babes…Heaven

BFF's at the shore
BFF’s at the shore 

The Mrs. told me a story that I often replay in my head. Mind you, this detail is hearsay. She, Little and Big were at their ‘besties’ house for a play date after the start of the school year.

Big and her BFF somehow got on the topic of discussing heaven. Mind you, the BFF brought this topic up. She said it was the most beautiful place ever, with harps and pearly gates and great scenery. Her Grandma had told her all about it. She mentioned Jesus and angels and all sorts of things. Big, turning pensive for just a moment, replied to her BFF, “Well, I’ve been to Tuscany!”

Now, to be fair, ‘besties’ Mom, a true pragmatist, interrupted with, “Now M, we don’t know if heaven is real. Nobody has come back and told us about it. No one has let us know there are real angels…”

I love this! I laugh out loud every time it comes to mind. What a stunning answer from Big. From my perspective, Tuscany is, well, heavenly. The food. The scenery. The smells. Our time together with family…She just may be right? It was, to say the least, a great response!

For the record, I was raised Jewish. I went to Hebrew school and decided against becoming a Bat Mitzvah (rite of passage into adulthood, still deemed more important for boys than girls—think Barbara Streisand and Yentl; also, a ridiculously expensive party), because quite frankly, I didn’t have the chutzpah (balls) to stand up in front of a big crowd and read from the Torah (Scrolls containing the Five books of Moses), sing and speak Hebrew, and garner all that attention. (Remember, I did not have a voice until my 30’s.)

As a kid, we spent a lot of time vacationing in the Borscht Belt (very popular resort hotels for Jews located in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York). I use Yiddish in my writing, a very robust language that is dying, because it really drives home the point in a way that plain English can’t offer. I love this language. It reminds me of my very loving, very wonderful, Nanny Helen. A time when I was known as “Lisa-la.” I can almost smell the ruggaluch (wonderful sweet Jewish cookies) baking when I shut my eyes…I’m no maven (expert) with my Yiddish usage, but I do hope to keep it alive buzzing.

I don’t really practice Judaism. I love the culture and the Haimish’a (warm and friendly) feel, but I lost my faith when I lost my Aunt Mimi. No amount of prayer stopped her pain and suffering. No amount of prayer made her get better. No amount of prayer made me feel better about losing her. Prayer didn’t let me understand that she went to a better place. Azoy vert dus kuchel tzekrokhen. (Literally, this means: That’s the way the cookie crumbles!)

Please know and understand that I do not begrudge anyone with religious beliefs. In fact, I am a bit envious. I do practice Tai Chi and being a good person.



All that being said, the Mrs. is a non-practicing shiksa (non-Jewish female). Many would find that alone a shonda (tragedy). I think it’s pretty awesome. Our kinder (the children), shana madelahs (beautiful little girls) that they are, learn diversity and acceptance (#HumanityMatters) right here, under our roof. That translates exponentially to the outside world, where it is so desperately needed. (It also provides the best of the holiday season, with celebrations of both Chanukah and Christmas.)

So that’s my shtick (funny story) and I’m sticking to it. L’ Chiam (To life!) and Zey gezunt (go in good health).


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linky 2-12-16
linky 2-12-16

Thanks to theAnxiousDragonsBlog

Morning Interuptus


Since we moved from our house to our new digs at the Manor, I’ve made a new friend. Only this is a very different kind of friendship. You see we’ve never met. Our apartment view looks out over the parking lot and into the senior home next door. Each morning, as I rise at 4:30 am and look out the windows, I see darkness with bits of information brightened by the parking lot security lighting.

I go about my morning routine, as a true creature of habit tinged with OCD, in the extreme quiet (well, silent as apartment living allows—yes, that is clearly directed to those of you who live in T-4, right above us), savoring my one-cup of coffee over a nice nosh and playing Words with Friends with the greatest sister one can imagine. I read some news online, answer some emails, do maybe one or six loads of laundry…partner and children sleeping soundly, with hours to go, and I bask in my new definition of quiet time.

I start my Tai Chi practice around 6:00 am and almost daily, at 6:32, my pal past the pavement, springs to life. I know this because I can see, through my own myopic vision (no binoculars or surveillance tools), the lights dancing across the TV screen through the windows. I imagine the volume at stunning capacity. And, I am so utterly content in knowing that this new friend of mine (who wouldn’t know me, nor I know he or she, if we fell on top of one another) has arisen and began their daily regiment. I mentally nod and say, “Good morning,” smiling between my Tai Chi forms, and finding solace in how we begin another day, together.

And then Ben Franklin, his farmer buddies and U.S. Federal Law steps in from centuries ago, and forces us all with the task of turning back the clocks. Even Cher can’t “Turn Back Time.” Yet we do. Since I am not gleaning any crops for harvest and despise the early loss of daylight, I find this action absurd and downright ludicrous for our modern times. Even more illogical, this changing of time gives me reason to align with the state of Arizona, who says, “Nope, we’re not gonna do it.” Me, aligning with Arizona! Mishegas.

Worse than my now lack of daylight, and perhaps tinged with a touch of SAD, the sun rises earlier (crop-crap) and I can no longer tell how my friend is doing. I can no longer observe good morning TV or any signs of life across the way. With the morning light, I see bubkes and I find myself a little worried about my buddy. Okay, maybe more than a little.

And I guess really, when I think more about it, it is not just my new friend that concerns me. As one of two moms in this family, I’ve watched my two wee ones grow to be 5 and 7 ½, in what feels like thirty seconds. Dare I blink for fear that we will be attending college (can we home-college them)? I know how the first half of the car gas tank goes so slowly, and then, before you know it, you are on ‘E’ with disco lights, warning alarms, and strange dashboard symbols (German engineering at its finest) reminding you of the artist, formerly known as Prince.

I worry when every time I brush my teeth, some older woman appears in the mirror at the exact same time as me to brush her teeth. Every time! Coincidence? I’m ferhklempt. And let the record show, that these two times per day are the only times I ever glance at that shiny reflective image and wonder where the hell my youth went. I worry because of the Yiddish phrase, a bi gezhunt, which translates to, “Vhat? Don’t vorry so much. At least you have your health.” (Please be sure to use a thick Brooklyn Jewish male accent when reading the Yiddish-isms—it adds so much texture.)

I get shpilkes (anxiety) when I think how very precious each and every moment is with my family. And then I get over it and regain presence. You see, have not found a way to be both present and worried at the same time. It just doesn’t work.

And then, as I finish my Tai Chi practice, my youngest will make her way out to the living room. With sleep in her eyes and a smile on her face, she says, “I love you momma.” And I respond with, “Good morning sunshine! Come give mommy a big hug.”

And now, with my family, a new day begins.

And to my pal past the pavement, I do hope to see you when we spring ahead. Until then, know you are in my thoughts, and part of my every day.

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My First Tai Chi Cam: Papal Visit Readiness in Philadelphia

Live from atop the art museum steps, where Rocky’s feet are forever memorialized, I set up my first Tai Chi Cam as the city sets up for the 2015 Papal visit.

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