Monday, September 21, 2009

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

I am grateful I caused no physical harm this weekend to my Bat Mitzvah-defiant, Torah portion-rejecting, non-speech writing daughter.

I am grateful for Tylenol.

I am grateful for Wii Fit Rhythm Boxing.

I am grateful there are less than three weeks left until my life returns to it's regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Some Wisdom Not Written By Me So You Can Take It Seriously

This came to me from a friend.  It was written by a woman journalist. 
Some of you may have seen it already but I thought it was worth passing around. 
Some good stuff to remember here.

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio 

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."  My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone..

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.   I would add, "gracefully allow others to have their own opinion.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.   .....especially family and friends

29. What other people think of you is none of your business..

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Again, I'm having a brief moment of sanity but this woman's wisdom should not be discounted by my next (sure to be) hysterical post.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

L'Shana Tova to my Jewish readers.  Have a sweet one!  (Hence the graphic.)

...and speaking of the graphic...

*photo courtesy of google images

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Momentary Case of Mistaken Identity

The other day I wrote this post.

It was a nice post. 
A sincere, written-from-the-heart kinda post.

But, I am NOT the woman who wrote that post.


That post was written by a woman whose kids were still at school.
That post was written by a woman whose dogs had just been fed and walked.
That post was written by a woman who was sitting in her quiet house, drinking her favorite green tea, thinking she had accomplished a great deal.

That calm, reflective, introspective woman went missing a mere two hours after writing that post.

When her son came home with his first homework assignments and regressed to his tantrum-throwing, foul-mouthed self.

When her daughter, after being given questions to help her formulate her hopes, concerns and dreams for her Bat Mitzvah speech, came back with these (cough) heartfelt and thought out answers:

What does being Jewish mean to you? 
That I have to go to temple on my birthday.  That I have to learn Hebrew. 
What does having a Bat Mitzvah mean to you?  
Nothing.  I don't want one.
What have I learned from my Mitzvah (charity) project?


No.  That woman, as much as she meant what she wrote in her last post, is loooooong gone. 

She's been busy screaming at her kids, waking at 2am to scribble errands on post its,  and having late night "can't catch her breath" panic attacks.

I am soooo not the woman who wrote that post.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Sometimes it takes a lifetime to get perspective.
Sometimes it takes one phone call. 

I started my morning, as I have every morning lately, going through my list of "to do's".  Just sitting at my desk ignites stress.  The piles, the post-its.  What did I forget?  What more do I have to do?  The lists are endless,  boundless petri dishes for my type-A tendencies. 

And as the date of my daughter's Bat Mitzvah draws closer, I find myself forgetting about the joy and significance of this milestone and focusing more on the expectation.  The obligation.

Until today. 

With one call, with one distressed voice on the other end of the line, that changed.

Because of the event, I am in touch with family members I rarely speak to.  All of them live out of town.  Many of them are elderly.  And I have suddenly been given a glimpse into their daily world.

I called one of them this morning, expecting a conversation of details and chit-chat and instead encountered a woman who was pre-occupied, impatient, and not the least bit interested in talking about my daughter's Bat Mitzvah.  It turns out her husband had spent the night in the E.R. and she was, at that moment, preparing to take him back to the hospital.  She was worried.  She was scared. 

We spoke briefly.  I wished them both well and we hung up. 

I felt bad about the phone call.  Bad that her husband was not well.  And bad that I had stirred up so much anxiety for myself over a Bat Mitzvah.  I felt petty.  Shallow.  Small.

I thought about them a lot, and other relatives/friends of ours from their generation.  About how so many of their lives now center around doctors' appointments, trips to the pharmacy, the hospital. 

I thought that as much as I muse about mid-life and lament about turning 50,  I am totally clueless about what it's like to actually be OLD.

Cherish the moments.
Celebrate the milestones.
Enjoy life.

I hear people say these things all the time but I never feel they apply to me.  I'm too busy supermarket shopping, cleaning, carpooling, living my daily life, to make a big deal out of things like birthdays and anniversaries.  It's nice for other people and I love being a part of their celebrations... I guess I just thought there'd always be time.

And hopefully there will be. 

But with this one phone call, I began to wonder, "Why not start now?"

So, for today, I will be grateful for the stress and the chaos that this celebration brings.
And grateful for the loved ones and friends who will be here to share it with us.

Because while a Bat Mitzvah may not be a matter of life and death, it is very much a matter of LIFE.

And, you can bet, we're going to celebrate the shit out of it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bat Mitzvah Talk Will Not Stop Until October - Deal With It!


Guest List - done
Invites - done   (despite losing 25 of them the night before they went out)  
Mitzvah (charity) Project- chosen and in process.
Florist - chosen
Caterer - chosen
DJ, photographer, entertainment - chosen
Video Montage - WORKING ON IT!
Hair appts - booked
Hebrew Names for family - who the f**k knows.
Daughter's dress/shoes - done
Husband's suit/shoes - done.
Son's outfit/shoes - this weekend.
My outfit - who the f**k knows.

After a lifetime of being a non-Jewish Jew, I am suddenly immersed in everything Jewish.  We're doing Shabbat, going to Friday night services, becoming buddies with the (heretofore strangers) Rabbi and Cantor. 

Not to say it's bad.  In fact, it's rather nice.  But while I can organize a party as well as the next yahoo, I am out of my league when it comes to the religious aspects of the Bat Mitzvah.  Memorizing and singing prayers (and, of course, understanding their meaning!), researching Hebrew names, figuring out the logistics of the actual ceremony...


It's gibberish.  It's greek.  It's daunting.


And the part that gives me the most tsuris?  Is the SPEECH. 
I am the mother of the Bat Mitzvah girl, for God's sake.  I can't have a lame speech!


And, yes, some part of this event IS ABOUT ME!

I want the speech to be good.  Really good.  So, of course...I'm having total writer's block.

Does someone, anyone, have ideas/advice on writing a dynamite speech?
The last time I spoke in front of a lot of people was Public Speaking 101 at UMich which was way too long ago to mention, much less draw from.

 Any openers?  Jokes?  Ghost writers?  (kidding).   But advice and guidance would be greatly appreciated. 


*photo courtesy of google images

Monday, September 7, 2009

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

As I go through family photos to include in my daughter's Bat Mitzvah montage, it is clear to me that I should stop romanticizing the past...and begin being grateful for:

Lasik Surgery
Tamer Hair Styles


I guess middle age ain't all bad.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Autopsy of A Summer

This summer was an experiment.

It was the first time I abided by my kids' wishes and let them stay home. 

When I told mom friends of our plans, I endured their quizzical faces and their gentle suggestions of, "Are you sure that's such a good idea?".

NO.  I wasn't sure.  But past history of spending thousands of dollars on camps only to have them come home whining about how much they hated them didn't thrill me as an option either.

So I went with saving the money.  (Hello, we have a Bat Mitzvah in October!) 

I turned the experiment into an opportunity.  My kids and I would enjoy quiet, no pressure time together.  We would play tourists in our hometown.  We would do ALL the things we thought about during the year but were too busy or tired to get to.

I diligently assembled a list of local sites: museums, the observatory, amusement parks.

This was going to be fun.

And, having no carpool schedule was, admittedly, a HUGE TURN ON for me.

We began our adventure with two weeks visiting family in Park City.    We hiked, we biked, we took boat rides.

This was going to be easy. 

Then we returned home, I took the path of least resistance.  No rules.  No regulations.  NO technological time limits.  I let my kids go with the flow. 

They slept in.  They stayed in their pajamas.  They ate breakfast for lunch.  My daughter was delirious.  She stayed in bed all day with her laptop.   The internet was her new boyfriend and she could survive the entire day without food or water escaping her lover's amorous grasp only to pee. 

My son had his own romance with the Wii.  He, and sometimes his friends, would play Madden '09, Ghost Squad, and NBA basketball for hours only emerging from the playroom for snacks and water.

But too much of a good thing... soon the drug of hedonism wore off.  My kids needed more to satisfy them.  And even then, the high just wasn't the same.  My daughter lagged.  My son whined.  I became cranky.

We needed to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. 

So, despite their screachy protestations (my neighbors must have thought I was taking my son for repeated limb amputations the way he yelled and shrieked), I dragged my kids to Chinatown, the Grammy Museum, the Petersen Auto Museum, Hurricane Harbor, the Malibu Tide Pools.  We even hit our local beach which is something we NEVER do. 

They loved Hurricane Harbor but predictably whined at the museums.  My son just wanting to hit the gift shop and my daughter only interested in how the colors of the cars matched her nail polish collection.  And though the beach sounds like a relaxing afternoon for most, my kids hated it, so, it was no day at the beach.  

Thankfully, as we were all at our wits end, my husband came home one night in the beginning of August, and after years of begging him for a trip to Hawaii, he decided it was time to oblige.  We used our miles, found a hotel, and off we went for five glorious days in Kona. 

And now, here we are.  Less than a week away from the start of school.

How do I rate my summer?

Well,  I can't honestly call my experiment a success, but I wouldn't call it an absolute failure either.  It was an experience.  Not all good.  Not all bad.  Just different. 

Would I do it again? 

I'm not sure. 

Am I looking forward to school?


and No.

Maybe I'm no smarter than I was in the beginning of the summer.  Maybe I have no real wisdom to share.  But in the end, we all survived.  We're all happy.  We're all still talking to each other.

And, the one thing I CAN take away from this experiment is...My kids can never again say I never give them anything.

And rest assured...I'll figure out how to use that to my advantage somehow.


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