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?

Global sigh of relief!

Little meditating…

Today, I am relieved, ecstatic, joyful, delighted, and kvelling to learn that all 12 boys and their soccer coach are rescued, safe and sound. The collective global sigh of relief is holding me up and getting me through the rough parts of our world. There really are heroes in the world. We need to celebrate them!

 

Big was dancing…
And oh, how they played…
Oh, how they play…

Hold your kinderlach (children) closer today, and every day.

 

Yiddish Proverb:

Troubles overcome are good to tell. Ibergekumene tsores iz gut tsu derseylin.

 

Its Wednesday, I wish…

I wish… I wish…

Technically, it is July 4th, Independence Day in the states, and I couldn’t be farther from feeling patriotic, proud of my country or the people who are running it. Truth is, our country scares the shit out of me daily frightens me in a way I have never before experienced.

Today, I welcome the day off with my family. I welcomed sleeping in a bit, relaxing. But I am not feeling very red, white or blue — well, blue only in the sense of a deepening sadness. Human dignity and freedoms are now being stolen daily. The immigrant crisis, where children are being separated from their parents and sent to ‘camps’ technically for purposes of law! WTF and the parallels to the atrocities of the Holocaust haunt me. Please, dear friends, we cannot have another global miscarriage of morals, ethics, and values. Please, hear the cries, feel the pain. Act. Scream. Shout at the top of your lungs.

I move forward only by seeing the cries of injustice rallied far and wide. I hold strong and hard in my belief that we, the greater we of like minds, fairness, civility, compassion, and empathy can right this veering ship.

We must hold on this holiday, more than all others, the belief that the people of our world can and will come together and change the confluence of attitudes and events that are swirling together like the perfect storm. We have to raise the bar on just about everything in the world on human rights. We all need to care.

#NeverAgain #NotOneMore #NeverForget #MeToo #BlackLivesMatter #CivilRights #LGBTQrights #MomsDemandAction #Vote #worry #gunsense #Immigration #MuslimBan #SupremeCourt #Antisemitism #WomensRights

Yiddish Proverb:

I wish I could have the pain instead of you, my children. Mir zol zeyn far dir mayn kinder.

Friends, be safe. A bie genzunt. Go in good health.

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!