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Happy Birthday Mom

October 22, 2014

 

Dear Mom:

When I was a tiny baby, I wasn’t aware of all that you did for me. I know you had your hands full with four of us under the age of six.

While I was growing up, I always wanted to be like you. I thought you were beautiful.  I remember going into your closet and trying on your shoes, and leafing through your wardrobe or watching you put on your eye shadow or your nylons.

When I was a teenager, I didn’t have much to say to you. As Milton describes relationships between a lot of girls and their parents… you knew nothing, and Dad knew less.  I loved you, but I couldn’t sit in the same room with you.

When I went away to college, I first realized what a wonderful mom you truly were. You and Dad instilled in me a solid  set of morals and values, a sense of responsibility, and a pretty good sense of who I was (or at least from whence I came).  The self-discovery part, I believe, is ongoing; as well it should be, because when we stop growing, we cease living authentically.

As a young mother myself, I relied on your wisdom, and that of Dr. Spock. Lord knows you had plenty of experience.  I think I did okay raising my own kids.

I watched how you unfolded and went through many changes in your life, and how gracefully you handled them.

Being a woman is not easy. It isn’t today, and it never has been.  We are called upon to play so many different roles in our lives.  You, my dear mother, have nailed it.  With each passing phase in your life, you get stronger and more able to handle what life brings you.

So today, on your birthday, I want to thank you, for the gift you have given me: the example you have set in being a wife, a mother a woman and a human being.  I am so grateful to have you in my life, and I wish you many more years of health, happiness and fulfillment.  I do that selfishly so that I may continue to have you as my mentor, my best friend.

Love,

Judy

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in General, Phase 2

 

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No, Seriously…

As much as I try to look at life with a positive spin, and look for humor in most things, I can’t help but feel that lately, there isn’t so much to laugh about. Every time I sit down to write, it’s usually because something funny happened, or something bad is happening and I’m trying to look at it from a lighter side so that I can, at the very least, accept it, and move on.  I’m known for my sense of humor.

There is something seriously wrong with a world, though, that can allow so much to go on that is just plain wrong.

How can a society allow genocide to occur, and look the other way as if it isn’t happening. I believe that in my country, if it isn’t happening to us, it isn’t happening.  At least, that’s the feeling I get with what trends on our social media, with what fills our front page headlines, what leads in our late night monologues, and what’s worse, what is being taught (or not being taught) in our school systems.

I was horrified to find out that only five states in our country have a history curriculum at the high school level that includes World War II and Holocaust studies. That explains why most college level students never heard the expression “concentration camp,” didn’t know who Joseph Mengele was, couldn’t locate Normandy on a map, didn’t know who was President during WWII, never heard of the St. Louis  and couldn’t even define the word genocide, even though it’s happening as I write.  Oh yeah, that’s happening somewhere else.

Why is extreme anything okay? (Okay, maybe extreme sports are okay, if they want to risk their own lives).  There is no place for “my way or the highway” in this world anymore.  Anywhere.  No extremist group should have the latitude that Al Qaeda, Hamas, ISIS or anyone has had.  Why, all of a sudden, has this world been so afraid of offending their tender feelings?  What happened to live and let live. Why can’t we say the pledge of allegiance to our flag in school?  If you don’t believe in God, then don’t say it. That’s your right.

IT IS NOT OKAY TO KILL SOMEONE BECAUSE THEY DON’T BELIEVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE. EVER.  ANYWHERE.  AMERICANS, OF ALL PEOPLE, SHOULD KNOW THAT AND FIGHT FOR THAT.

And how can a healthcare system still treat mental health patients as second class citizens, when time and time again we’ve been given evidence that it is an issue that needs to be considered seriously. How many more people that are desperate will show up in schools and movie theaters with assault weapons, in a state of mind that is obviously very sick, before we make mental health care accessible to everyone.  What will it take to treat mental health professionals with the same respect (pay scale, reporting, etc.) as other healthcare specialists?  Even people’s misunderstanding mental disorders like Major Depressive Disorder or Bi-Polar Depression was painfully obviously after the death of someone like Robin Williams, who suffered from a real disease.  People made comments and posts, accusing him of being weak, of having plenty of money to get help, and just not understanding that he was sick.

And another thing… How come it’s okay for a convicted criminal to continue to play college football?  Is it because he is a Heisman Trophy winner and he’s just too good to sit on the bench, or for that matter, in jail?  Is the Alumni Association of his school operating under different laws than the rest of the country?  Is winning the National Championship that important to them that they allow this horrible example to be set?

Oh yeah, and how about the mothers who take their pre-teens and tweens to swoon over Justin Bieber even after a string of bad behaviors, only to find out that he won’t be showing?  (I’ll not surmise as to why.)  Is the tail wagging the dog?

And why is it that our poor people, our elderly and our disabled are the last in line? I’ve worked in development and fund-raising for over twenty five years, and cannot, to this day, understand why it is so hard to raise money to help the programs and services for the most vulnerable part of our society.  Is it because nobody wants to face the reality of what could conceivably happen to them?  Are they so far from it and lost in our American way of entitlement that they don’t even know this exists?  I am not a Socialist, and I believe that if you earn it you have a right to it.  But I also was raised to help those less fortunate than myself.  Are people not raising their kids that way anymore?  Doesn’t anybody give just because it is needed anymore?  In the same way, we aren’t teaching about the Holocaust and World War II in high School, is the Greatest Generation going to be the last generation of altruistic philanthropy?

No, seriously… have we become so self-absorbed and entitled that winning championships, appeasing our children, and worrying only about what affects us directly, has replaced some of the basic tenets that made this country what it was? This country started as a place to come to escape all of that kind of thinking and behavior.  It was the haven for political and religious freedom.  We fought for it.  We went through great pains to establish it.  We have, through the years shed much blood, sweat and unfortunately, tears, to maintain it.  What has happened to us?  Seriously?

 

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in General, Phase 2

 

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Meant for Each Other

A little background on both of us… If you’ve been reading my blog then you know all of this already, but if you haven’t I’ll give it to you in a nutshell.  I’m a middle-aged woman, who spent a lifetime serving as mom and as wife, while working full time in the not-for-profit arena, doing the best I could to make life better for those less fortunate than I, while raising my two children and taking care of my husband and home.  My kids are doing great.  One married last year and is starting his life up state.  The other moved away this past spring to take a terrific job and start her life up north.

Now I am in the midst, I imagine of what is known as an Existential Crisis, as I am slogging through that awful period of the “Empty Nest Syndrome,” while trying to rediscover my marriage and to see if my husband and I are on the same page about our future together.  I’m dealing with a lot of transitions in my life, and trying to determine my next path, and I really don’t know what to do.  My emotions are sometimes raw, yet sometimes numb.  My passion for work, for life, even for chocolate has been muted.

The other starring character in this blog has an even more mournful past.  He is the product of a mixed marriage, if you even want to call it that.  He was actually hit by a car and left for dead, though he had a strong will and survived, as a youngster. He was kept in foster care for way too long.  He seems, even today, to be an isolationist, and to be ever so slightly melancholy, although some just say he is laid-back, or mellow.  I feel he is very trusting, accepting and loving.  There aren’t too many like that in this world, especially when their beginnings were so challenging.

I came upon him quite by accident.  My wanderlust took me to where he was one day, and I happened upon him, visited with him for a short while and then left.  But something inside me kept tugging at me, telling me to go back.  I’m not really sure what it was.  A calling?  A sense of obligation?  A need on my part?

I went back last week, and figured the whole thing out.  He needed me as much as I needed him.  I knew he couldn’t stay alone in the situation in which he was living, and I needed to have my own personal outlet for emotions that nobody else could ever understand.  I love my husband, my mother, my children and my friends, but this guy seems to me to be the best medicine.  Like a few before him, he is the kind of friend who listens without judging, accepts my crazy mood swings and goes with the flow, seems to know when to just lay down next to me quietly, and when just a little kiss on the cheek to tell me he loves will be enough.

Alex "the Great" Fisher

Alex “the Great” Fisher

I don’t even feel like I’m cheating on my husband.  Because he does the same for him.

Love this guy!!!

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in Phase 2

 

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Alone Again, Naturally

This is not an interpretation of my Empty Nest.  Nor is it a diatribe on issues of abandonment.  It’s more a commentary on the transition, or at least one of them, that we go through in life, for which we are completely unprepared.

We come into this world butt naked.  The things we learn early on are the things that are put into our head by our parents and/or caregivers.  We are, hopefully, schooled, given some sense of self, and exposed to one version of spirituality or another.  We hit adulthood (much too early for me), and think we know an awful lot, only to find out that we haven’t even begun to live.

Life hands us all kinds of crazy scenarios over the years, whether we choose a professional life, a family life or both.  Sometimes, we choose neither, and let life just happen to us.

And then we get old.  We hit 50 and hear from AARP.  We get into are 60’s and some ask us if we are ready for retirement.  Our bones start to creak and it isn’t so easy to climb out of bed in the morning.  Some of us deny it and try to act like we’re still 23.

Our kids leave us to start their own lives; our parents leave us as their lives have run full circle.  We range close to, if not reach, retirement.  Our friends take off to find their final futures.  Some of us have been so wrapped up in the ride, we never see it coming, and when everyone else starts making those last moves and changes, and the dust settles, we find ourselves alone again, caught with our pants down… butt naked.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in General, Phase 2

 

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My Crazy Love

Not too long ago, while I understand that multiple personality disorder is a serious disease, I would exasperate my husband, by accusing him of having just that malady.  It started as a result of a major injury to my foot, during which time I was in a steel boot, and pretty much immobile for several weeks.

I called him Josephine the Plumber when he unclogged the drain.  I referred to him as Martha Stewart when he set up the party for my daughter’s track team, for a pre-competition carbohydrate binge.  He became Emeril Lugasse when he actually did the cooking for that party.  He walked through the kitchen with a hammer in his hand, and suddenly transformed into Tim, the Toolman, Taylor.  He had some major gardening to do, and he went out there with a rake looking very much like Mr. Greenjeans, of Kaptain Kangaroo fame.

While he drives like Mario Andretti, opines like Bill O’Reilly, and has rituals like Sheldon Cooper, I never had to condemn him for channeling Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire or LeBron James (although he would like to think so of the latter).

Sometimes I wish he would break out into to song.  I think he’s done it once.  And I would LOVE it if he didn’t make it seem like a chore to dance with me at an affair.  We share a lot of common interests, like sports and comedy.  I love him, whoever he is at the moment, and I have for a very long time.  In fact, we’ll be married 32 years in September (if I don’t kill him first)!

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in General, Phase 2

 

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To Mommom

Originally written May 22, 1995, edited July 16, 2014

 

She boasted of seven grandchildren, of whom I was the youngest and 16 great-grandchildren.

She didn’t like cow, she preferred beef.

She made knock-out stuffed cabbage, kreplach, cinnamon bar cookies, myena and cottage cheese pancakes, and she did so in armed services amounts.

She kept a special place in her end table drawer for all of our toys when we came to visit.  Mostly decks of cards.

She was the best back-scratcher.  Ever.

She always had broad shoulders and open ears.

She knew.

I didn’t get that one last chance to say goodbye to her and thank her for all of her love and wisdom over the years.  I never let her know that I would always carry a part of her with me, even though I think she knew.  She never gave me the recipe for oats, peas, beans and barley soup.  I think she did that on purpose, to make me experiment in the kitchen.

I didn’t want to grieve selfishly by saying that “I could have” or “I should have” been more attentive in the last few months.  It was a choice I made, albeit a bad one.  It really didn’t matter if she heard what I had to say, because I don’t think she even knew who I was anymore.  It was my need to tell her anyway, and I didn’t do it.  So I tell her in silence.  I hope she hears me and I hope she forgives me.

It is my belief that when someone dies, they are only gone if they are gone from your heart and mind.  I believe that whenever I think of Mommom, she’ll be thinking of me.  I know I’ll think of her when I’m in the kitchen, or when one of my kids asks me to scratch their back.  I keep her bagel man on the end table in my living room.

And I have her ring.  I would drive her crazy telling her how much I loved her jade ring until she finally got tired of hearing it and on my sixteenth birthday, she gave it me.  It was hers for forty years before that.  I’ve had it for over forty years now.  I still love it.

I remember our shopping trips before I would go ways to summer camp.  I never did get her to buy herself a pair of jeans.  It just wasn’t her, though she never said a word to me about how ratty mine were in the 1970’s.

She called me “bug.”  It was her special name for me, derived from “Judy-Bug,” which I imagine came from ladybug.  My cousin Emily took it a little further, calling me “Doodle-bug,” and then eventually just “Doodle.”  I’m a grey-haired, middle-aged woman, who answers to the name “Doodle.”

I could never argue with Mommom.  I could only discuss.  The minute our personal opinions crept in, we were doomed.  And as hard as I tried, I couldn’t joke with her.  Her sense of humor was on a totally different level.  I didn’t care.  She was always there for me and the best listener as I navigated through my teenage years.  Mom and Dad “didn’t understand.”  I’m not sure Mommom did, but she listened.

When my kids were born, she had some remarkable advice, for a woman who had never had any children of her own.  I remembered some of those phrases when dealing with child-rearing issues, and I still use them:

“Daniel may be your first child, but remember, too, that you’re his first Mommy.”  We were both strangers to our new roles in life.  Or, “the baby has a big world to grow into,” reminding me to stop at times, and remember to look at the world through their eyes before I deal too hastily with a situation.  Mommom was wise that way.

I post this in 2014, twenty years since she is gone.  I’ll always carry a part of her with me, besides the jade ring.  And while I don’t know how to make the soup or the kreplach, what I did gain from her is priceless.  I will always miss her.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Phase 2, Uncategorized

 

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25 Random Things

About five years ago, Facebook was throwing around a “note” that everyone was posting, in which they were to write 25 random things.  At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be about me or the world around me.  Funny how my life hasn’t changed that much in five years.  I wanted to add that post to my blog so I would have it as a part of my tools when I try to piece all of this together…

25 things

February 3, 2009 at 10:29pm

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “NOTES” under tabs on your “PROFILE” page (you may have to add the tab by clicking on the + sign), click on “Compose New Message” and paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. When I grow up, I want to be a Broadway star. The challenge I face is that I’m already old, and I’ll probably never grow up, but I can dream, can’t I?

2. I’m finding it hard to think of one random thing, let alone 25. In the past few years, I’ve learned to live in the moment, and during most moments, I can’t afford to think random thoughts!

3. If there were no ramifications to my actions, I would most likely eat, drink and be merry… mostly eat… mostly chocolate…

4. Sometimes I look to the heavens for answers, but I get easily distracted by the cloud formations, trying to figure out what they look like. Hence, I seldom find answers, and often come upon a whole new set of questions. The last time I could really identify a cloud formation as anything, is was smooth jazz riff… and that was the morning after my cousin died. Then I had some real questions.

5. I’m not the boss of you. In fact, what you do or say is none of my business. I am only responsible for my own words and actions. (and since my kids are both over 18, I’m not responsible for their words or actions either).

6. Someone asked me to name my five best days. Here they are, in no particular order: my wedding day, the day I gave birth to my son, the day I gave birth to my daughter, February 4, 2006 and tomorrow.

7. I have a short attention span. Is it 25 yet?

8. I wasn’t a cheater in school. I tried to rely on my own academic ability and creativity. Having read other “25 things, I’m suddenly finding myself resorting to plagiarism, but then they do say that is the highest form of compliment. So, Miami isn’t for everybody.

9. When I was young, I never dreamed of a beautiful wedding day. I never had intense career aspirations. I just knew that I wanted to be a mom, and I also knew that I would be pretty good at it. I’m 50 now. I had a beautiful wedding. I crafted a career in non-profits based on my creative and cognitive ability, and have done well… but I was right… I am a pretty good mom! Dreams do come true.

10. Having grown up in a house full a boys, and a neighborhood that mirrored that, I learned to appreciate as well as play sports. I could always be the ninth guy on the baseball team. I could always fill in as the fifth on a basketball team. Through sports, I learned how to focus, that practice makes better (not perfect), that team sports teaches valuable lessons for later in life, that nothing beats good hotdog and some popcorn at a Marlins game, and that watching golf on TV makes for good naps.

11. If Ella Fitzgerald married Darth Vader, she’d be Ella Vader. How’s that for random????

12. If you add sour cream to a cheese sauce, it makes it very creamy. I talk a lot about food.

13. I have always wanted to have a real green thumb. There’s something about nurturing plants… (reminds me of my grandmother… one of the many things she did well with her hands.) Right now, I am painstakingly caring for three pineapple plants, eight different herbs, five stag horn ferns and a homestead full of landscaping that the rain G-ds have forgotten.

14. There is something soothing about being awake for the sunrise. The peace and quiet heralds a sense of hope (that is if the dog doesn’t wake us before the sun comes up). A new day can mean anything can happen.

15. I have made a list of the fifty states. So far, in my lifetime, I have visited 27 of them. I have 23 more to go, and then I’ll start on the National Parks. That’ll keep me busy for awhile.

16. Is it 25 yet?

17. Dark chocolate has flavonoids and anti-oxidants. Dark chocolate is lower in fat than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is lower in calories than milk chocolate. I love dark chocolate.

18. I remember reading Erma Bombeck’s essay, “If I had my life to live over again…” I’ve had a lot of time and clarity lately, to think about how I would change her list. I wouldn’t. I might add to it, I might tweak it a little, but she had the right idea when she said she would take her shoes off earlier in the spring and put them back on later in the fall. Instead of marking time, her life lesson was to enjoy the ride a little more. Nothing is THAT important that a little dark chocolate on your tongue and some sand between your toes can’t fix.

19. Whoa oh oh— listen to the music.

20. Haagen Dazs is better than Weightwatchers (oops– there’s that food thing again).

21. Most of the time, I choose to be a Tigger rather than an Eeyore. Those that know me best prefer to define me as Judy rather than Hortense.

22. When I was a kid, I had one brother who referred to me as Herkimer J. Mouth, one brother who referred to me as Yak, and a grandfather who was constantly asking me, “Judith, do you ever stop talking?” So why is it, when I’m painfully close to completing this project, do I find myself at a loss for words?

23. Always wear good boots for hiking, sunblock on the beach, a sweater or jacket when its cold (or long underwear, depending on where you are), and a smile on your face. You’d be amazed at how glad you’ll be in the long run for each one.

24. There are friends who pass like ships in the night, who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight, with never a backward glance of regret– friends we know briefly and quickly forget. There are other friends who sail together, through quiet waters and stormy weather, helping each other through joy and through strife, and they are the kind who give meaning to life.

25. Thanks for letting me share, its 25.

I still want to be a Broadway star, but my niece is giving that a shot;  I stole number 24 from Mary Dawson Hughes; I still hate Miami; I still love dark chocolate; I still talk a lot; I still love sipping my coffee at sunrise; I miss my cousin’s sweetness and kindness, almost as much as the musical world misses his remarkable musical talent; and most importantly, I’m no longer afraid to think of random thoughts.  In fact, at my age, I think that’s all that’s left!

 

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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