Friday, December 30, 2011

Life by Me

Yes, I know I wrote a few posts ago how much I dislike braggers and how I try not to brag. Consider this post NOT A BRAG, but rather a CALL-OUT for your attention.

Back in September, fellow blogger Danny Miller featured on his blog a wonderful essay that he'd written and had published on Life by Me. As I'd never heard of the website, I began to peruse it, after having read his piece. And then I wondered if just anyone can write and submit an essay, or if you had to really be someone in the cultural, political, business world, so I wrote and asked for guidelines. A month later I'd written a piece, which I submitted.

Today, my piece was published on this wonderful website. It gives me the greatest pleasure to have my essay featured on this site because: of the company I'm keeping; because of the wonderful insights shared by other contributers; because they opted to use my words (very minimal editing done to them); because my essay gets to close out 2011 on LIFE BY ME. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I'm so pleased to have another venue in which to briefly talk about my beloved late father, Jacob Adler.

So in essence, the fact that my essay has been published is an homage to me and to what I consider meaningful in life, and to my dad, who helped give my life some meaning.

Please take some time to peruse the website; it is wondrous and very eye-opening. There are very interesting people out there who are moved by the simplest or the most complex things in life...and have shared their thoughts with you. It is, in essence, a very inspiring website.

Here is the link to my essay.

Wishing you all meaningful lives and wonderful inspiration in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wrap It Up...

2011 is nearing its end and 2012 is peeking out from around the corner. What will the New Year bring? Who knows, but hopefully it'll be all good. My family should stay healthy and happy, my kids should do well socially and academically, and our financial status should only get  better, not worse.

2011 proved that I did a lot of wasting -- and "waisting".

I used -- and wasted! -- lots of fruits and vegetables by overbuying and not using the stuff because I had to throw it out when it spoiled.
I used lots of paper towels in the kitchen instead of using cloth towels, i.e. I wasted a lot of paper.
I used lots of dishwashing soap in the kitchen, thus wasting it.
I used lots of water -- too much at times -- thus wasting it.

I wasted so much time, putting off the things I should be doing to do the things I like to do, ie. spend hours at the computer, on FB, on blogs, doing personal information searches. Log the number of hours spent in front of a screen, but not actually doing any type of real work, and much of the day is gone.

And I "waisted" -- loving my foods and my foods loving me back...and clinging to me.

So I hope to minimize the waisting  ("waist away") -- and the wasting -- in the coming year. Because... when you really think about it, the end result of "wasting" is actually part of the word:  it stings.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Aging Like a Fine Wine...or Am I?

I was at a department store last week making a purchase.

As I stood at the cash to pay, the clerk looked at me briefly and asked, "Senior?"

I gawked at her. "WHAT!?"

"Today is senior's day for those 55 and over. If you're a senior you get an added discount."

I laughed, embarrassed and horrified at the same time. "I hope you don't really think I'm a senior...?"

"I don't know, but I have to ask."

"What if I would've said that I was a senior?"
"Well, you should be honest about it."

"No, I'm not a senior...just yet."


I think I was entitled to that extra discount just for being asked the offensive question.

I do not look 55. I just turned 50. I do not look 50. People think I'm a good 10 years younger. I do not look 55.... DO I?

I'm not ready to have that kind of SENIORity just yet!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Braggers, Beware

I do not like to hear bragging.

That is something that I've felt since I was a child. Was it because perhaps the bragging that I did hear at the time came from other children? "I'm buying a ______"; "We're going to ________ for winter break"; "Do you like my ____________ jeans?"

Maybe listening to braggers made me see what I was missing in life. These kids' parents bought them "things", gave them "things" that I might not have had.

But I'm an adult now, and I still don't like braggers. Braggers talk about their children, braggers talk about their trips/their homes/their jewellery; in essence, braggers talk about themselves. They shine the spotlight on themselves and their families.

I know of someone who brags constantly on Facebook...primarily about the trips they're taking: the whens and wheres and with whoms. I think that person must have lacked money as a child and now feels the need to let others know what they have in a materialistic sense. The person is also an idiot, if you ask me, advertising the details in a public forum, of when they'll be away on anybody can have access to that information of when their house will stand vacant and for how long.

I know of someone else who married well and likes to place a price tag/ a reference to a tangible amount on everything she talks about: how many square feet her home is, the value of her home, the cost of the ring she recently bought. It so detracts from a conversation because it becomes superficial when all one does is affix $$$$$ signs to words.

Other people I know talk about their children ALL THE TIME. Yes, they're  the pride and joy and sometimes heartache of their parents' lives, but ALL THE TIME...? C'mon, does nothing else define you as a person besides motherhood?

I was taught as a child not to brag. When I was about 10 years old, I was going home with my brother and talking about my report card marks to him. His friend overheard and asked, "Are you smart?" I announced "YES!"at the same time that my brother said, "Yeah, she's smart." When I relayed that conversation to my mother, I was instructed not to talk about myself and my smarts; it was for other people to talk about. My brother was proud of me and answered on my behalf. That should have been enough.

Other times, I'd brag about where my family was going on vacation. On one or two occasions, those holidays got grounded and didn't happen. It made me look bad to the other kids.

I have learned by experience to not brag. Although my children and my husband are my pride and joy, I rarely talk about them, unless someone asks specifics or my telling certain details lends itself to a conversation.

Not liking braggers doesn't mean you're envious or jealous. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have a poor self image,either.

It does mean that you recognize that people have to be humble in life; people have to wait for compliments to be bestowed upon them, not seek out compliments by giving details up-front.
It means that you recognize a spotlight will seek you out...when it's the right time....and not the other way around.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Crybaby for a Homecoming

Once in a while I watch FAMILY JEWELS, the Gene Simmons/Shannon Tweed reality TV show that brings cameras into their daily lives.

I enjoy watching the interaction, conversations and kibbitzing between the family members, and perceive intelligence runs fairly strong in the Simmons/Tweed household.

Yes, I know that Gene and Shannon finally married this season ("Gene, what took you so long to put the ring on her finger!?"), but the episode that has moved me, time and time again -- and I do mean "time and time again" -- is the episode, "Blood is Thicker than Hummus", when Gene, Shannon and son Nick visited Israel. The plotting Shannon (and production team) takes Gene back to Israel, the country of his birth -- which he left as a very young child -- where, at a ceremony in Haifa, he receives the Haifa medal, simply for being born there and becoming successful in his life, thus bringing pride to his birth city. Under Shannon's guidance and leadership, he visits his childhood home, goes back to the cafe where his mother worked, back to Rambam Hospital in Haifa to see his birth record from 1949...but most importantly, to meet his half brother and three half sisters, from whom he learns more about his father. A father whom Gene feels rejected him and his mother when Gene was seven years old...and as a result, whom Gene rejected in turn...not wanting to see his father again. Yet he provided for his father and his father's financial needs over the years.

How poignant when Gene opens his mouth to speak Hebrew at the awards ceremony. "Ha-shem sheli Chaim Witz"...My name is Chaim Witz. My tears began to shed...

How poignant when Gene visited his childhood home, at first not recalling anything, but then visual memories rushing back to him. My tears began to shed...

How extremely moving  the reunion between brother and brother and brother and sisters...and extended family. The words exchanged, the photos and slide shows all so poignant. More tears...

How tremendous the scene when Gene is brought to the cemetery to his late father's gravesite. Personal words written by Gene's late father are directed to Gene, and it moves him, and the viewer, tremendously.
Alone at the grave, Gene breaks down more and apologizes to his father for never making the effort to see him, while at the same time, defending his own position in life with his children. He is not his father, he is not his father...

I have seen this episode at least 4 or 5 times. Each time I've watched it, a repeat show tonight no exception, I've sat there with my eyes welling up, my throat clogging and tears rolling down my cheeks.

No doubt much has been edited out of the episode in order to make it one hour long, but what's left in the episode speaks volumes.

I like Gene Simmons, but I like Chaim Witz even more. His Israeli homecoming was a means for him to truly come home...and find his roots...and the branches that have sprouted from those roots.

He might've said Shalom (Hello) when he entered Israel, he might've said Shalom (Goodbye) when he left Israel, but more importantly, there is a newfound Shalom (Peace) in his life to carry him forwards.

Here's lookin' at you, Chaim Witz... ("sniff, sniff")

Monday, October 10, 2011

Soho Suite

You know the expression "curl up with a good book"? How about curling up with a comforter around you, lots of cozy pillows, a nice drink within reach and this CD Soho Suite playing in the background.

Based in New York City, Swedish singer and songwriter and American Smooth Jazz Award nominee Anders Holst brings old fans -- and new ones -- this wonderful compilation of  songs that look at love, and relationships, and changes in a person.

"How Many Times Do You Fall in Love?" "Love Surrender" "Time Is Not Waiting" "What Your Love Has Done to Me" are just a few of the titles on this compilation.

Anders, with his sultry, smoky and oftentimes raw voice, sings his ballads directly to you. You could be sitting in a room with hundreds of people, but you'd think he's directing his words to you.

He is the ideal singer because he isn't just singing lyrics, he is truly telling a story, when he sings about love, come and gone. His raw honesty makes you think about your own relationship with the one you love, or past relationships you might've left behind.

Forget the orchestration -- which is wonderful -- and the sound mixing -- which also works well, and concentrate on the voice of this man who embodies deep love, deep pain, wonder and confusion as he takes you on this musical journey of Soho Suite... You, and you alone.

For more information about Anders Holst do check out his website

Monday, September 05, 2011

Lost in Thought

The other evening I was sitting alone at the dining room table, lost in thought.

I was thinking of my father. And my mother.

I was thinking that had my father still been alive today, he would be 91 years old. My mother is at the threshold of turning 80. Yes, eleven years' difference between the two of them and it was never such an issue, as far as I could see.

But my father always had health issues, whatever his age, and those issues  often overshadowed his life and especially the quality of his life in his latter years.

I was sitting there and wondering what their lives would have been like had he still been living -- and if the health issues would not have been such an issue. Would the 80 vs. 91 years have become really noticeable? Was my mother better off in her widowed state than had my father lived as he had in his final days, with my mother a major caregiver whose own life juices were visibly being slowly sucked out of her... I was afraid to even come up with the answer to that.

And as I sat there in my contemplative state, I sensed someone sit down beside me. I looked up and saw my daughter. She put her arm around me, rested her head on my shoulder, and said, "You looked as if you could use a hug!"

I was so moved by her compassionate sense of insight. Were my feelings written all over my face? Or is my daughter simply one intuitive teen?

I told her I'd been thinking about Zaydie and Bubby and that indeed I could use a hug. No doubt the shame I felt in even contemplating the second question had somehow shown on my face and stirred something inside Adina.

Although I might've been lost in thought, it felt so nice to have someone by my side to lead me back....

Monday, May 30, 2011

Plato & Pythagoras...Not All Greek to Nicholas Kardaras

How Plato and Pythagoras Can Save Your Life: The Ancient Greek Prescription for Heath & Happiness by Nicholas Kardaras, PhD

This book, by Nicholas Kardaras, PhD, and published by Conari Press, is an exploration of mystical Greek philosophy and contemporary, cutting-edge science coming together in today's world.

At one time, Nick Kardaras was one of NYC's "50 Most Beautiful People" as voted by Vanity Fair. But with the passing of time and a steady addiction to drugs and alcohol, Nick's life was pulled out from under him.

With rehab, he managed to get his life back on track and had his whole future ahead of him, but the passing of a close friend drew him back into that dark underworld. He was found unconcious by his girlfriend one day and was on the brink of death, clinging to life with the help of a respirator as he lay in a coma.

But his life was given back to him -- a miracle in every sense of the word -- and with the return of his life, Nicholas began to explore the life behind him and the possibility of the life ahead of him.

He became a voracious reader and studied the works of ancient Greeks who promoted the importance of a healthy mind, body and spirit. These came together with the help of diet, exercise, meditation and contemplation...a real holistic approach to life.

Nicholas took charge of his life, incorporating all he was learning...and came out ahead.

With this book, Kardaras shares with readers those secrets of the famous Greek philosophers, and gives readers mental and physical exercises to do in order expand their creative imagination and gain insights about themselves and the world in which they live.

As Plato said: "Philosophy begins in wonder." And so does Nicholas Kardaras's journey. Join him on it, won't you?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review: A Dog Named Slugger

When I was contacted by a literary agency and asked if I'd like to review a book about a dog, I jumped at the chance. But upon reading the book, I came to understand that Slugger was not just a typical dog: he was a gift.

The book, A Dog Named Slugger, by Leigh Brill, is the true story of a woman who, having had to deal with her cerebral palsy all her life, finds it more difficult while in college to handle her disability on her own, and decides to seek out a service dog organization.. She is matched with Slugger, an extremely intelligent, devoted and loving -- and loved! -- Yellow Labrador retriever, and they train to become a team. Slugger becomes Leigh's shadow, guide and a true companion in every sense of the word.

The dog helps Leigh navigate through life on college campuses and in the greater community. She  gains confidence and a greater sense of independence, thanks to her canine companion, who is there with her....every step of the way. Leigh finds love, and achieves a true sense of contentment; while Slugger helps teach others about caring and limitations imposed by society, even if not imposed by a physical disability.

Heart-warming and inspiring, the book and the story behind it also promotes a very worthy cause--the Service Dog Industry. (All of Leigh’s proceeds from the book will go to the nonprofit St. Francis Service Dogs organization.)

 A Dog Named Slugger (published by Memphis, Tennessee publisher Bell Bridge Books), a 2011 Epic Award winner, is written in an easy, flowing, natural style -- with Leigh's honesty and warm and determined personality shining through. Accompanied by photos of Leigh and Slugger at play and at work, as well a Readers' Guide/ Discussion Questions, the book lends itself to being a wonderful choice for a book club, a classroom setting, or simply to be shared among friends.
Welcome to the world of service dogs. Welcome to Leigh & Slugger's world....

Monday, April 04, 2011

I See You...but I Don't Hear You

You know that familiar mother stance: hands on hips, foot tapping impatiently...?

This little blog of mine has been doing just that -- waiting and wondering when I'd next make an appearance. Do I tell blog that I walk around formulating little scripts in my head for blog purposes only, then scrap those scripts, opting instead for silence? (Didn't someone once say that silence is golden?)

Same old, same old. Do I have something important to say? Might I offend someone with my words, or cast myself in a negative light?

Should I tell blog that I reluctantly did a poetry reading a few weeks back -- one of only a handful I've ever done -- reading a winning poem and then a couple others I'd written in the past year? Should I tell blog that one of those poems made an audience member cry when they heard it, and that thrilled me? Now blog -- and its readers -- will think me to be a masochist. But no, not so. To hear that someone is moved to tears by my words actually can move me to tears, as it's the greatest compliment you can pay me. Should I tell blog that although I was first reluctant to travel to this Open Mic night, I now want to attend each and every Open Mic night, stand in the spotlight and hear the applause and whispered smiles of my viewers and listeners?

Maybe I should tell blog that I went to a party not too long ago and found that a lot of the party guests were simply F**KED UP. That's how I perceived them after I moved, mingled and conversed. And I am known to be a fairly good judge of character. How did they see me? I wonder.

Does blog have to know that G-d willing there will be an upcoming simcha in our family: a first grandchild getting married in the not-too-distant future.  Hearty mazel tov wishes float her way and I simply anticipate...

Should blog be told that here I sit in the rec room, typing away, with the Pesach kitchen beside me, beckoning to me. I've tried to ignore its calls, but how much longer can I? It warns that it needs a clean sweep and that Passover is in two weeks. My computer screen beckons too, and I turn my back on the kitchen.

Can blog be relied upon to not be too jealous when told I hang out more with Facebook these days? Sometimes I think that the word "blah" is inherent in the word "blog" and that Facebook has more pizazz, being "in your face" and all.

There is much competition in blog land and blog hasn't sensed that yet, so blog mainly opts for that golden silence.

Sometimes that just has to be enough.

Monday, March 07, 2011

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Deepest Sympathy Basket

I was just on a Jewish Kosher baskets website; I got an email from them advertising Purim baskets, but when I went onto their site, I explored "beyond Purim."

Shabbat, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Birthday, Anniversary, Get Well, New Baby/Brit, College Dorm baskets and packages are listed with a wide offering of goodies.

Then to my utter surprise, I found a section for Shiva/Condolences, and began to explore. My cynical self rose to the surface as I perused the goods.

Dried fruit platters, nut platters, rugelach tins, mandelbroit, chocolate arrays, bagels packages seem to be the natural way to go. People need comfort food at a time like this if they choose to eat at all.

But WAIT. Wow...gourmet packages are offered too. Gourmet cheeses, pates, jams, crackers are offered up in expensive but heartfelt style..with Deepest Sympathy...

Tell me how many mourners you know whom you don't have to nudge to eat or drink just a little bit. "Not now," they say, or "I can't eat anything," they tell you. You suggest strongly then that they have to eat something; shiva is difficult and they have to keep up their strength.

Do beautifully presented gourmet baskets have a place in a house of mourning? Does a bit of fresh Norweigian lox on a marble bagel imported from one of NY's finest kosher bakeries, followed by a croissant spread with a Swiss jam and a fine glass of herbal tea really make all the difference? "Wow, I just HAD to have something from that Deepest Sympathy basket or I would have been so weak."

I think we can save fancy, gourmet snacks for better occasions. Bring out the roasted chicken, chicken soup, potatoes and garden salad...and offer it up with sincere condolences. Those will serve just fine....

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Changing It Up!

I have neglected Blogger.

There's a Toronto campaign for donating blood. Their slogan is: Blood. It's in you to give.

Unfortunately, my blog hasn't seen much of me because there's rarely anything in me to give. And if I give, I want it to be somewhat worthwhile.

But I decided to check out blog designs and reinvent myself.

Yesterday evening I had one new design/typeface. Today I have another.

I realized that "dressing" one's blog is like dressing oneself -- there are always options, ways to enhance or detract from a look; ways to make a lasting impression and stand out in a crowd.

If I wanted to, I could change my blog's design on a daily basis -- even several times a day. Design as the mood hits me.

But then again, I must heed the translation of the French expression that says: "Clothes don't make the man."
However I design my blog doesn't necessarily "make" the blog. It's the words that have the true essence; its design is simply the wrapping.

So I guess I'd better keep my designing layouts to a minimum and concentrate more on creating words.

After all, that was why I started a blog all those years ago...