How this Memorial Day is a little bit different

This week, we lost yet another vet to the Vietnam Nam war. Yes, you read that correctly. The Vietnam Nam War.

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In the wee hours of Friday morning, May 24, this soldier surrendered his last courageous breath, with the love and comfort of his dear wife by his side.

War, it knows no end.

His family watched him wither down from a strong and able man to a frozen, frail, quiet shell. Stilled, but not by choice. Agent Orange stole his last years.

PSP. Progressive supranuclear palsy. A degenerative disease involving the gradual deterioration and death of portions of the brain.

I wouldn’t wish such horror on anyone. A shonda (shame).

And like the Marine he was, he was strong, stoic, stalwart, and brave to the very end.

Yiddish Proverb:

A shekter sholem iz beser vi a guter krig. A bad peace is better than a good war. 

This Memorial Day, I am especially aware of how war, it affects us all.  The wives, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, children…

There is another Yiddish saying we should all think about as we poke at each other with such capricious hostilities. It translates to something I truly believe to be true:

If one soldier knew what the other thinks, there would be no war.  

Rest In Peace, Captain Joseph T. Drennan III, United States Marine Corps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caught in a dream

Look, up in the sky… It’s a bird? It’s a plane? It’s a Yiddisheh momma?

Oh, the stories my brain can tell. Have you ever been caught in a dream? You know…when you lay your weary head down on your pillow. Those horrendously heavy eyelids thud shut, and you actually fall asleep, and watch the same recurring movie dream over and over again. It’s like my own personal Groundhog Day during REM only less annoying and much more personalized. Night after night, the same dream. Day after day, thinking about this same dream. Has this ever happened to you?

For me, as I slide into deep rest albeit temporarily, I magically become a superhero, very similar to Wonder Woman only less cleavage, in fact, by less, I mean none. I fight evil and wrongdoing for our planet, these government gonifs (thieves), my mishpocheh (family), for my kinder (kids) and for my Mrs. I am sleeping proof that one can be an absolute awe-inspiring superhero, even without the great ‘chest-al’ divide. And, thanks to the dark skin and bags (one might even say, luggage) around my eyes, I have a built-in mask! Nature, she’s a real hoot and works in mysterious, magical ways.

Appropriate Yiddish proverb:

If you want your dreams to come true, don’t sleep. Aoib ir viln deyn khlumus tsu kumen ams, ton nit shlofn.

So, back to my dream (as I so often do). Smart, I am! Equipped with the knowledge and wisdom of RBG, and the wit, timing and dance moves of Ellen DeGeneres. Oh, and have I got writers. Such good writers! I must channel Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin, and David E. Kelly in the wee hours when I’m not waking up to wee. I look like me, with only the very sleek and stylin’ cape  (it helps keep me afloat). Strong? Look out! As I soar skyward, flying, I am carrying a tachka (big) boulder around with me, and with ease! I’m not even a bit out of breath. What’s with the tachka big boulder?

Flying, I travel through the brisk night air, guided by the light of the full, brilliant moon. Leaving my suburb-ified city, I seek and find offenders and bad actors. When I land, have I got a mouthful? I advise, warn, counsel, check, tell off, call on the carpet, tell a thing or two, draw the line in the sand, and then, and only then do I offer a proper Yiddish proverb. Why, because a good Yiddish quote, given at the exact right moment, it’s like bread for the hungry!

This Yiddish Proverb:

Truth is heavy, therefore few care to carry it. ams iz shver, deriber veynik zorgn tsu firn es.

So by day, I feel what the world offers. I soak it in like a sponge, absorbing the wrongs, evils, deceits, and denials. And mitten drinnen (in the middle of everything), I hide my superpowers and carry on. But by the marvelous light of the moon, I am a respectful force to be feared, like Golem (a Yiddisheh savior), on behalf of all that I hold true, care for and love.

Look out. Look up. Here I come! ❤

So what are you dreaming about?

spot

There is always hope if you’re looking for it
appearing, a small
spot, barely noticeable
and not invisible
first her favorite
blouse, soon after, all were marked
stained, indelible
they never noticed
that damned spot, always there
incriminating
blind to the color
draining from her tear-stained skin
silence deafening
the stain permeated
‘neath their nose, quiet despair
inside, broken torn
timeworn agony
like a sudden storm, violent
forcing her hostage
immobilized, frail
crushed by sounds, smells, memories
past and present swirl
unsympathetic
the onerous spot survives
emotions echo
I see you, hear you
let me tend your battered heart
allow me to love you
there was radiance
joy filled the spaces between
darkness, the path awaits
for you are brave, strong
pleasures will surpass torment
love will prevail
My Yiddish wish for you all:
May you never know from such pain and troubles. Ken ir keynmol visn fun aza tsuris.
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….

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.

 

 

 

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?