Tag Archives: family

Believe it or not: I Found a Hair Volumizing Product that works!

This is a message for those of you who are folliclly-challenged. The rest of you who have full, thick heads of hair probably won’t be interested, including my sister who was handed out all the hair anyone could ever want at birth. She still has lots of hair she can have fun with.

picture

 

I, myself, would do almost anything to have thicker hair…and I probably have. I can resist other types of products but if anything has “MORE VOLUME” written on it, I buy it. I have more products under my sink than Johnny Appleseed had seeds. IMG_1646

Some of these things above have been helpful but I want to announce that I have found a new hair produce that actually seems to work: Toppik Hair Fattener.

IMG_1640

It is giving my limp, lifeless strands more body! Just a little before I blow dry and my hair is so much thicker. How it works, I don’t know. I’m just seeing with my own eyes that it does.

I am obsessed by hair. When I’m in a crowd, after I’ve checked that no one is carrying a suspicious package, I’m checking out everyone’s hair. I can honestly say it’s the first and last thing I notice about a person. “Why can’t I have a swinging ponytail?” I mutter under my breath as I watch a woman walk by. “Why can’t I have a thick bob?” I whine to myself. You can’t really let people know how you feel about this, especially when there are children starving and good friends are losing all their hair to chemo. But, I know I can confide in you.

My story of hair deprivation begins early and with a mother who had scads of hair. You can see that she’s already wondering if the bow will cover the bald spot. I’m already questioning the fairness of the Universe: why I didn’t get the thick hair genetics?

Scanned Image-56

 

By nursery school, my hair wasn’t lush like my friend, Chi Chi’s in the foreground, but it wasn’t bad except for the bangs. I’d suffered a burn to my forehead so the bangs had to be short.

jen 3

 

Grade school I don’t know how my hair looked because I didn’t care. By the end of high school I got interested, but the results were mixed.

Scanned Image-73Scanned Image-71

 

In the Sixties, big hair was in. Everyone teased and sprayed and wore these little dome wiglets on top of our own hair.

9e2ad88f61aec01181d38e4892910018--hair-donut-braid-buns

I wore one at my wedding:

Cindy and Sid

That began my life long love of wigs and falls. Here my granddaughter is modeling one.

IMG_1518

An extension of the wig is extensions, which I adored when I wore them. Unfortunately, they are hard on the hair, creating more hair loss.

P1000098

 

My amount of good hair days compared to bad is miniscule. My hair is not only thin, it’s baby soft. Also it has just enough curl to cause problems, better known as frizz. My hair won’t stay down or straight. ( My oldest granddaughter and I were measuring the other day to see how tall she is now. My son said if you discounted my Afro, she’s as tall as I am.) My hair is unable to withstand humidity or a windy day. If anybody touches it, they run the risk of great personal injury. I almost divorced my husband once when he insisted on driving his father’s classic 280SL with the top down to a party. Has he no sensitivity?

In order to counter effect my reality, I wear a lot of hats. And once I wear a hat, I can never take it off until I get home. If anyone playfully tried to take it off, they’d probably lose a hand.

IMG_0948

IMG_1151

 

 

I grade photos of me on how good my hair looks. Here’s a couple of examples:

You might think I like this photo because my little grandsons who are now 18 and 19 look so adorable. No, it’s because my hair looks great!

Scanned Image-115

 

Here’s another one. You might think I like it because I’m with Charles Schultz at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference–nope, I like my hair.

Scanned Image-114

 

I do like the following one because I had a great lunch with Judy Blume, but also my extensions looked fabulous:

IMG_9198

 

You might think I like the next one because it records a very special time, but get a load of my hair! It looks amazing! It lasted through the B’nai Mitzvah ceremonies and then it was toast for the next ten days.

IMG_1242

 

You might think I like this one because I’m surrounded by my family. I do, but the hair is the main thing–it looks thick!

IMG_7473

 

Besides just having lousy hair, I have a long and sad history with hair loss. Each time I had a kid, my hairline receded a bit. I had a widow’s peak before them.

IMG_5680

 

ppr374

Widow’s peak was gone after. (I wanted to have three kids, but I guess it was prudent that we stopped at two.)

When I had malaria, my hair fell out in handfuls. And then grew back sparsely. That’s when I joined the American Hair Loss Association.

0285135-R1-050-23A 2

My dermatologist saved my sanity when she suggested Kenalog injections. She felt that the malaria had sent some of my follicles into a dormant state and they could be “reawakened.” Yes the injections hurt but they worked!!! And yes, I’d do it again in a second.

IMG_1573

This is the photo I had my daughter take of me a couple of weeks ago, trying to show I was getting better from the virus. Actually, we had to do it that night because I’d had my hair done earlier in the day and it looked good. No matter that I needed my bed, I wasn’t going to waste any opportunity.

So now you know more about me, probably more than I’d reveal on an every day basis.  Probably TMI, actually. But if you’re interested in any other products I’ve found useful, just ask. Oh, and for those of you who have oodles of hair

larry and berta 1IMG_1201

and tell me how difficult it is to take care of, (you know who you are) be nice to me and others like me. You never know when we’re carrying scissors.

IMG_0596

 

 

 

.

All About Me! or Get Her Well and Shut Her Up!

Since there’s nothing happening much in the news, I thought I’d give you all an update on my health! I mean, let’s keep what’s important in perspective, right?

IMG_1112

I’m well into week 5 of this virus, no pun intended. I do think I turned a corner last week in that I’m not as flat-out sick as I was. But still, once I start feeling tired, I’m done. There’s no cushion to the fatigue. And once it comes, so does the cough, which tires me out more.

I’d like to first say that I have so much more compassion for people who have chronic illnesses. And I’d like to say that I’m sorry for not understanding how debilitated a person can be. I now understand why people become incommunicado—it’s just too much work to get in touch. It takes too much energy to go to lunch or even have a manicure. I don’t mean to say that my virus is on the par of chronic illness—I fully realize it’s just a virus. But it’s given me a taste of what people go through.

I think it also gave me a taste of what I may be like when I’m old, in my late 90’s. Right now my energy bank is not very full. I rest a couple of hours a day, especially if I have to go to an event. Otherwise, I wouldn’t make it. I make tradeoffs, also. If I’m going to go to the grocery store, I can’t take a walk or go to yoga. Not enough energy to cover both.

But I’m grateful that I’ve been able to do the important things this month. I made it to my grandson’s high school graduation and to my granddaughter’s dance recital. I made it to my daughter’s birthday and to our neighbor’s birthday. I made it to the family celebration of birthdays, Fathers Days, graduations and anniversaries. I even finished the chapter I’d been working on.

F677FE03-8F24-48C1-853C-077647D8DEB7

 

I couldn’t eat much with this virus—too tired and slightly nauseous from the fever—so I lost a few pounds. (there has to be a silver lining!). My brother saw one of the family celebration pictures and thought I looked too thin.

19113537_1436189279809387_5471786838917415373_n

So last Friday, after I had my hair cut, I put on a lot of make up and had my daughter take my picture. That way I could show Steve I felt much better.

IMG_1573

 

One disturbing thing I realized during this siege is that if you don’t feel well, you make a lot of mistakes. My mind was kinda fuzzy—from the virus or the meds, I don’t know. I tried to keep going and accomplishing, but I’d come back to find out I hadn’t actually finished a task or had not done something correctly. Imagine if I were your pilot! Or your lab technician.

I want to thank everyone for the good advice, encouraging words and help. I did go to the doctor three times and I did get a chest X-ray. I did take more vitamins and kept up my fluids. Part of it was fear engendered by midnight coughing fits. Didn’t Jim Henson die of pneumonia? I’d think as I chugged cough medicine. Oh, and that reminds me. I had a lot of trouble with cough medicine—I tried it with codeine and I had weird dreams and sores in my mouth. And most over-the-counter ones have sucralose in them, of all things.

IMG_2656

A final thought: I realize as I read this over, that I must be very grateful to be such a healthy 71-year-old. If I can complain so much about this virus, I’m mostly in good health! I may be a rust bucket but I have classic lines!

IMG_1520

Just Saying

I’m a head case, always have been and unless I get dementia, always will be. My mind is continuously busy with thoughts and questions so it’s not unusual for me to walk into a room and not know why I’ve come there. People say that’s a sign of senility but I’ve been doing that since I was ten. I didn’t realize until this morning that my mind is also crowded with adages, song lyrics and literary allusions.

unknown

As I did the breakfast dishes, I was thinking about George Washington. He cut down the cherry tree but he would not tell a lie. That story from first grade has had a lasting effect on me. I rarely tell even a white lie—I’d never lie about something big. And my word is my bond.

Thoughts about George led to a flood of others. Growing up, my brother, sister and I were taught to never judge anyone until we’d walked in his or her shoes. We drank in the concepts of compassion and respect for others with our Gerber formula. We knew that there but for the grace of God, we’d have gone into the ovens of Auschwitz.

11949449_10207371852957526_505228359851726715_n

Taught to be responsible for each other and be grateful for what we had, we knew we needed to share our bounty. I took this to heart and have literally given people the shirt off my back.

My brother gave away the money for his birthday party to help a family in need.

My brother gave away the money for his birthday party to help a family in need.

The work ethic and saving for a rainy day were strong themes in my childhood. Our parents were children of immigrants fleeing religious persecution.

old-family-photo

They married during the Depression and had no money. But when the going got tough, the tough got going. They worked like dogs to become successful and to make sure we all went to college.

investment-20

We were admonished that the early bird gets the worm and that practice makes perfect.

img_7927

 

“Waste not, want not,” they said if we left the lights on. If we didn’t finish our vegetables, we were reminded about the starving children in China. Along with this, we were taught that a penny saved was a penny earned, but also that all that glitters is not gold. There was also a sneaky suspicion that money was the root of all evil.

My parents weren’t the speak when spoken to kind. We were encouraged to have our own opinions as long as we honored our mother and father, and thought before we spoke. However, we were cautioned about opening a Pandora’s box and that it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.

unknown-1

Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I taught these same values to my own children.

scanned-image-1

They have taught them to theirs. Which makes me proud as punch, even though I know that pride goes before a fall. We all believe immigrants like our families have made this country strong.

img_8414

I think who we are is a combination of our nature and how we’ve been nurtured. I’ve been told many times not to be so nice because nice guys finish last, but it’s just the way I’m wired. Besides, I’m the tortoise to many others’ hare. Slow and steady wins my race.

images

Which reminds me, I think there’s a place for everything and everything has a place. That’s why I go crazy when I need my scissors and they aren’t where I put them. The Borrowers have moved them.

Even though I’m an old dog, I’m trying to learn new tricks. An inveterate multi-tasker, I can rush around like a chicken with my head cut off, but I’m getting better. I don’t rob Peter so much to pay Paul. I’m more into the moment, into the Now. I’ve always been slow to anger, and believed you can catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar. I have a long fuse but when lit, watch out. Then I’d be happy to cut off my nose to spite my face. I’m willing to share all this because I’m an open book. The truth is, you can’t tell a book by its cover.

 pinterest-holmes

Besides all these sayings, song lyrics play in my head. They come up from my subconscious, unbidden. Last fall while my husband was going through Proton radiation, the constant theme song playing was, “Put on a Happy Face.”

Lately, it’s “Wake Me Up When It’s All Over,” because I’m as frightened as a rabbit about the present political climate, as well as just climate in general. Hope springs eternal so I’m hoping the Emperor has someone around who tells him he has no clothes on. I’m hoping they don’t throw the baby out with the bath water when reforming affordable health care.

unknown-2

I’ve given up watching television. I’m sick of the pundits earning fame and fortune while crying, “The sky is falling.” And I can’t handle the bloggers, who obviously never went to Journalism School where we learned to be clear, concise and accurate.

Right now the lyric in my head is Bob Marley’s, “every little thing’s gonna be all right.” I know there’s no fool like an old fool, but I still believe good triumphs over evil. I’m still looking for the silver lining.

 

 

 

Turning Seventy is Sublime

 

10639566_939149096181665_1296904217772286777_n

 

 

 

I am in the middle of writing an essay about how wonderful it is to be 70. I started it in January, but got caught up in other things and in writing a memoir piece. So now I’m almost half way to being 71. With luck and time, I will finish the essay before that birthday.

Meanwhile, I’m going to share some thoughts. On my 70th, I was determined to not look or feel my age. It was a lot of work! Now I’m purposefully slowing down—as a matter of fact, I took myself out of the race. I’m not so touchy about people holding a door open for me or asking to help me with my grocery bags. I don’t have to be in charge. I don’t have to be the responsible one. I don’t have to try proving that I’m as strong and capable as I once was. I can surrender to the aging. I can admit that I get tired. I can admit that I can’t lift my suitcase. I can admit that a swimsuit is not my best look, but I’ll wear one anyway.

One of the great benefits of aging is that I like being who I am. I say to myself when I’m doing something, “You know, that’s who you are. You’ve always been that way.” And I feel good rather than thinking I should change to conform to somebody else’s ideas. It’s true, for instance, that I rather write than play golf.

 

1463507_945001662201796_7026500439035859584_n

I still think of myself as young. For instance, if I’m on a bus or train, I’ll stand up to give my seat to an older person. Only… what’s happening is that sometimes there is no older person. The first time this occurred was last summer when I went to DC to look after my grandson who was interning there. To begin with, that was a joke. Garrett, in reality, looked after me. He set me up with a Metro pass and with Uber. He made sure I was fine when he went to work. He’d call to check on me. He made the dinner reservations and showed me where the washer/dryer was in the building. The day we took the Metro to Capitol Hill, he made sure I got on the train without any trouble. I was standing next to him when a man asked me if I’d like his seat. I smiled and looked around for an older person to take advantage of his offer. Then I realized I was the oldest by at least twenty years. That was a “Yikes” moment!

I’m not denying that aging comes with a lot of loss. We have lost so many dear friends and family to cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Or they are suffering with the effects of their disease. There is a sadness now that really has no time to go away. Then there is the loss of taut skin, height and strong muscles, eyesight and hearing—but let’s not go there right now.

21592_1088527101265037_315147649320619505_n

I want to age gracefully, but I want to have fun too. Cindy Joseph’s make up tips for older woman have been widely distributed on Facebook. Here’s some of her advice around the eyes: “Women older than 50 tend to lose definition in their eyebrows. Just go with that. Don’t recreate the brows you had in your 20s.”

Really? I liked my eyebrows in my twenties, and if I don’t use eyebrow pencil now, I have no definition at all. I also tint whatever eyebrow hairs I have left. True, I don’t want to get to the stage where I’m drawing them on and entirely missing the eyebrow line. That is not attractive. But I figured out the solution to that: getting a stronger magnifying mirror for now and a trusted helper in my nineties.

Joseph also says: “Do not wear any eye shadow at all. …A little bit of mascara is OK.” Sorry, Cindy, but I plan to be wearing eye shadow in my coffin when I’m a 110. I love eye shadow. I’ve loved it since I was 13 and my mother wouldn’t let me wear it. So I’m not giving it up now or ever. I had a friend who got false eyelashes when she was 84. She loved them and they were cute on her! So there!

 

 

 

 

 

America, the Beautiful

America, the beautiful. Or is it America, the beautiful? I think it’s probably both. Certainly this country is not perfect. Certainly, I would live no where else. And I’m eternally grateful to my grandparents who had the courage to flee Russia and Lithuania. As they sailed into New York harbor, they felt the protecting shelter of the Statue of Liberty and the benediction of Emma Lazarus’ words: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

IMG_8412

Their way was not easy when they hit these shores. Instead of the streets of gold they’d heard about, they found only poverty, hardship and prejudice. But they weren’t afraid they’d be killed outright as they had in Europe. With hard work and perseverance, they could build a successful life. And they did.

IMG_6518

Fast forward a hundred years and their granddaughter has been lucky enough to go to Washington D.C. three times in the last ten months. Who’d ah thought? I’ve toured the Capitol Building twice and the White House once. I’ve toured the monuments all three times. I’m now a junkie!

IMG_8457

The city is built on a grand scale that we don’t see much of in our united states. Statues and magnificent buildings are interspersed with green parkways. It’s beautiful, truly.

IMG_8443

 

This last trip I was at an ADL convention. The Anti-Defamation League was originally founded in 1915 to protect Jewish people from Antisemitism. It has grown and broadened its goal to protect all human and civil rights. I feel safer at night to know the ADL exists. I was impressed by the dedication of the young people attending, and inspired to action, myself.

Our hotel was only a ten minute stroll from the White House and I walked to it a couple of times. Tourists from around the world flock there. It’s impressive both because of its architecture and its significance.  My four-year-old granddaughter walked there with her babysitter. My daughter and grandson walked there to see it at night.

We were home only two days when I heard about the shooting at a White House check point. It sent shivers down my spine. What if one of my family had been there then?

 

IMG_8388

“Did you hear about the shooting at the White House?” I said as I walked into the dentist’s office.

“I hope they shot Obama,” a pleasant looking woman said.

I was taken aback. “Too unkind,” I said. “He’s our President.” Where’s the respect? I thought. There should be some respect for our President, if nothing else. Just plain old human decency.

The woman gave me a dirty look and turned her back on me. I sat down across the waiting room, not looking at her either.

Where has all the civility gone? I wondered. Long time passing.

Will it take another 911 to get out the “United We Stand” posters, and to bring back the realization that we’re all Americans, all part of the same family? Disagree, fine. Disparage, okay. But to wish someone’s injury or death? That’s too ugly of an American for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Anxiety!

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT TAKE THE FOLLOWING SERIOUSLY. IT’S MEANT TO BE HUMOROUS EVEN WHILE POINTING OUT MY MENTAL DEFECIENCIES.

Just when you think it’s safe to go in the water, life throws you a curveball. (I love mixing my metaphors, BTW.) At the beginning of November, I was congratulating myself on a year of accomplishment (my entire check list was clear—I’d finally gone to the Getty, even gotten the colonoscopy and the closets cleaned out) when the mail came.

I wasn’t alarmed when I saw the DMV letter. I knew my license was expiring and since I’d moved, I figured this was a form explaining how to change the address. WRONG! The letter stated I had to appear at the DMV to have my picture taken, update my information, give a thumb print, pass the eye test and. …TAKE THE WRITTEN EXAM.

Driver's DMV

I swear to you that in the silence of my house, I cried out in anguish, “Why me?” Looking back, I realize I was quite tired and in overwhelm before I opened the letter, which could excuse my pitiful over-reaction. At least, I’d like to think that.

“I have to take the DMV WRITTEN EXAM,” I told my husband.

“Somebody’s got to do it,” he said, barely looking up from his book.

“I have to take the DMV WRITTEN EXAM,” I told my daughter.

“Oh no,” she said. “You have the same tone of voice you had when you were prepping for your colonoscopy. I don’t know if I have the energy to keep you propped up again.”

“I have to take the DMV WRITTEN EXAM,” I told my daughter-in-law.

“Don’t worry about it. You’ve been driving for years—you know everything. Besides, you can miss six questions,” she said.

Yeah. It’s easy and you can go online to take sample tests,” my sixteen-year-old grandson added.

“But I never know which way my wheels should turn if I’m parking uphill,” I wailed.

“Up, up and away,” my eighteen-year-old grandson put in.

With all this encouragement, I felt calmer and made an appointment to take the test. But when I went on-line to take a sample test, things went south. I took the first test and missed four out of the eighteen questions. How should I know that you must park seven and a half feet from a railroad crossing? Or that the lines on a one-way street are solid white? Or that BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration and it’s not safe to drive with even a 0.01 level? Who cares if a sign is regulatory or warning?

IMG_1904

“YOU FAILED!!!!!” flashed on the screen in gigantic neon letters (or so it seemed). It turns out if you are taking a renewal test you can only miss three questions. When you think about it, most people taking a renewal are probably inching towards the 70-year-old mark. Is there ageism being subtly practiced here?

I immediately went into Catastrophe Mode. I drove to the DMV to pick up a booklet (and also to find out where it was) and began to study like I did when I was in college. I got out a yellow marker and underlined the whole book. I wrote out flash cards. I became addicted to the online tests, unable to stop myself taking them from early morning to late at night. (None of this part is an exaggeration, BTW.) I studied even at a doctor’s appointment.

IMG_7430

Some time during this siege, I decided I wanted my hair to look really good for the photo so I began experimenting with different styles. I also went to the eye doctor who said I needed glasses, which got me worrying if I’d pass the eye test. Because I was studying so much, I didn’t have time for much of anything else. I didn’t realize that my whole family was avoiding me—none of them could handle my angst they told me later.

One day, my husband and I drove to Santa Barbara to visit friends. Actually my husband drove, which gave me the opportunity to study “driving rules” in real time. Not only did I get to see the road signs and solid white lines on the road, but every time my husband did something wrong, it cemented what you’re supposed to do more firmly in my mind.

IMG_7407

“What’s your biggest fear?” my neighbor asked me the day before the test.

“That I’ll fail,” I replied with no hesitation.

“But why would you fail? You’ve studied so much.”
“But, sometimes they phrase the questions in a tricky way,” I said. “Or they ask the question in a way that you don’t understand. Or they ask you how many yards you can drive in a left turn lane.”

“That’s true,” she said, which didn’t alleviate any of my anxiety.

Speaking of anxiety, the only good thing about being so anxious about the test was that I forgot all my other worries for awhile. Even my back straightened out!

The day of the test finally arrived. I washed my hair early and chose my outfit carefully. I played an anxiety reduction audio, which helped me to relax. I got dressed and put on jewelry. I decided to go early—I could be nervous there instead of nervous at home.

When I arrived and took my seat, I looked around. Seventy-five per cent of the people there looked to be 16. The rest of us looked to be 65ish or older. Definitely, ageism, I thought.

IMG_7432

Within fifteen minutes, my number was called. The man behind the desk seemed kindly enough. “Let’s start with the eye test,” he said. He gestured to the tiny chart in the low light behind him.

Somehow I read enough F’s and P’s to pass, and I moved across the room to the guy who takes the pictures. He was sweet, offering me a chance to see if I liked the shot or not. He then directed me to a group of booths behind us. “Use your bar code to sign in,” he directed.

“Okay,” I said like I knew what he was talking about.

I went to a booth and found a large monitor with a prompt “start here” on the touch screen.

ls2200-black

“First, scan your code,” flashed on the screen. That took a couple of minutes to figure out but I was finally in. By the time the actual question hit the screen, I was exhausted. But I persevered, reading each question carefully to make sure I understood it. Even then, I did miss one. But long story short: I passed!!!

When I was finished, I had one more line to stand in. The two women in front of me were my age—one passed and one didn’t. We started chatting until the woman behind the desk called out, “NO TALKING IN LINE!”

When it was my turn, I handed her my information.

“You passed,” she said, seeming disappointed.

I smiled at her, a wide and happy smile. “Yes I did!”

In the parking lot, I did a little victory dance by my car. On the way home, I looked out at the iridescent autumn leaves instead of the lines in the road. I was free at last!

It’s been ten days and I just received my new license in the mail. I think my hair looks pretty good.

 

The Jewish New Year: 5775

Unknown

Rosh Hashana is one of the most important Jewish holidays. It translates from the Hebrew into Head of the Year. Several people have asked me what the holiday is like. For our family, we will have a big dinner at our house tonight and tomorrow we will go to the synagogue. At our dinner, we have a mini-service and eat the traditional foods from the recipes handed down through the generations. Apples and honey play a prominent part, symbolizing the sweet things of life. The shofar, a ram’s horn, is blown, signalling the ancients’ way of announcing the beginning of the holiday. At my house (once a teacher always a teacher) we will fill out a worksheet that asks, what can I do for my family, my community, and the world to make it a better place?

Unknown-2

Every year I write a little something. I will share with you this year’s.

 Rosh Hashanah   5775

Tonight, we celebrate the beginning of the Jewish New Year 5775.

We celebrate

our love for family and all humanity,

our desire to help our fellow man,

our hope to be the best people we can be,

our prayers for peace in the world.

We celebrate by reflecting on our past year. We remember the good things we have done, and the bad things we have done. We make a pledge to be better people—to do more good things—to put our words into action. Life is not a game of perfect. Just like golf, we will make some mistakes. But we never give up.

We have ten days to think about who we are and who we want to be. We search our inner selves We slow down for a day to take stock. This is something our great-grandmothers and grandfathers did, as well. We carry on the heritage and connect with the generations before us.. In these Ten Days of Awe, we center ourselves by remembering we are not the sum of our accomplishments or the amount of our possessions. No, we are human beings who are moral at our core. We remember also to be grateful for what we have, especially our families and good health.

On Yom Kippur we ask for guidance and forgiveness of ourselves and of those who have wronged us. Every year we pray that all people can learn to do this so that hatred and prejudice will disappear. We pray that war will be no more—that people will not be power hungry and greedy. This year, we have seen the opposite. In Syria and in Gaza we saw that children were used as human shields. We saw many people cut down in war. We saw anti-semitism rear its ugly head. We saw ISIS emerge with its desire to control the world and destroy all people who do not believe exactly as they do. We saw prejudice and hatred against Blacks, Jews, Muslims and other minorities right here in our country. All this is troubling and frightening.

This year:

Our prayers for peace are even more important.

Our courage to stand up and be counted is even more important.

Our connection to each other is even more important.

Our commitment to learning the facts and not falling for stereotypes is even more important.

Life is a series of contrasts—the bitter and the sweet. Tonight, at the beginning of the year, we won’t worry about the bitter.

Tonight, it is all sweetness: HONEY and APPLES.

Here’s to Your Health!

imagesOne of the things that is so easy to take for granted is good health. We don’t appreciate it when we feel healthy—we don’t even notice. This past six weeks has been an eye opener for me. I went into my knee surgery with a blithe arrogance. I’d worked on keeping my quads strong before the surgery and knew that I would follow the doctor’s and physical therapist’s advice to the letter. There’d be no problems, I was sure of it.

What’s that expression? Woman plans and God laughs. Yep, all my plans went up in smoke.

I hadn’t had as much as a cold for four years before I was hit with a tough virus in November.

“Did you have a flu shot?” our daughter asked.

“I don’t believe in them, “ I said after I’d worked through a coughing spell.

“I never get sick.”

I don’t believe in antibiotics either, but I ended up with walking pneumonia that time so I had no choice. Then I coughed so hard I threw my back out—painful.

Fast forward to March. Surgery went super and my knee was healing well. Then we flew to Seattle. I was careful, using a cane to negotiate rain-slicked streets. We loved seeing our grandson play his trumpet in a concert and visited with family. My husband and I both had headaches the last day, but didn’t think much of it.

The morning we left, our headaches had moved to body aches, but we thought it was just the rain making us achy. We thought we were so tired because of jet lag. We thought our sore throats were allergy related. We were wrong—we were both sick and getting sicker.

“Well,” our daughter said when I told her, “at least you had the flu shot, so it won’t be as bad as November.”

I didn’t answer right away. It was that role reversal thing—I felt like I was the kid and she was the mother whose I advice I hadn’t followed.

“Actually, we didn’t get the shots. We thought we didn’t need them,” I said. “And I’m sure it’s just a cold.”

Even though we were on the phone, I could sense my daughter rolling her eyes.

After a few days of fevers, chills, cough and excessive nose blowing, we called the doctor.

“It’s a virus going around. Cancel everything for the next two or three weeks at least. If you start to feel better and go out, you risk getting a relapse,” he said.

What? Two or three weeks? That seemed crazy. How could that be? Even though I developed laryngitis, I still taught my class—then I was in bed for three days. My husband tried playing golf, but lasted only nine holes. And then was in bed for three days.

But I didn’t give up planning. Our children and grandchildren were coming for Spring Break and I made a list of all the things we were going to do—the Living Desert, the air museum, the art museum, the water park…Ha, Ha, Ha!!! I didn’t leave the house.

Then I coughed so hard, I threw my back out again. This time, my back went into spasm. It felt like my back was being torn apart if I moved the wrong way–I was deathly afraid of coughing or sneezing. No exaggeration. I was in a constant state of fear. No matter how I tried to relax, I was gripped with apprehension. None of my stress reduction methods worked. I was afraid to lie down in bed because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get up. I couldn’t turn over without a spasm contracting my lower back. I had to crawl off the bed on my stomach and then grip the bedside dresser to work my way to standing.

This morning I woke up and tried moving from my back to my side. Easy-squeezy! For the fun of it, I reversed the move and it worked! I realized that before I’d believed this was a basic entitlement in life—that you could move freely and comfortably in bed. Now, I know not to take it for granted.

Nor will I take feeling healthy for granted. I know this month has been just a window into the lives of so many who are suffering ill health. I am so appreciative to becoming out of my own little hell.

As for my knee? It became the step-child. Physical Therapy wouldn’t see me while I had a fever, and then they couldn’t work with my knee while my back was in spasm. So, basically, my plans to be perfect got blown out of the water. Ha, Ha, Ha!!!

Do you think I can learn something from all this?

images-1