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Express an Opinion…

Having just found out the delightful news that my closest friend was going to be a grandmother, i immediately took the opportunity to give some advice to the expectant mother.  Or should i say, express an opinion.

When I first got pregnant, I got the best “advice” ever given to me. It was from my cousin, the mother of three boys and a girl.  She actually gave me two pieces of great advice.  She told me, first, “Never take anyone’s advice.  Listen to your heart and to your doctor.” 
There was solid reasoning behind this most ridiculous statement. You see, when my cousin was attempting to nurse her first born, she was encountering some difficulty.  Her mother suggested that perhaps her milk was too thin and the baby wasn’t getting enough nourishment.  Her mother-in-law, on the other hand, felt that her milk was too rich, and the baby was having trouble digesting it.  This is when she learned to listen to the advice she so graciously gave me.  She went on to have three more healthy, well-nourished children, who, by the way, are all healthy, well-adjusted, thriving and successful adults! 

The second pearl of wisdom, was that when I was at a point of total frustration with the baby, on one of those colicky nights when I couldn't get him to stop crying, or when she was in the middle of a "terrible two" tantrum, it was suggested that I think of the "dumbest person I know who is a mom, and tell myself if she can do it, I can do it."

I am reminded of the time we asked a friend of ours, who was carrying her first child, if she knew the sex of the baby.  Her answer we found funny, or maybe placed her in that category of who we might call to mind when we needed a little hope, because she told us that “the baby won’t decided its sex until its four months old.”  With slight allowance for a language barrier (although Hispanic, she had been born and raised in the states), it was then that my husband and I knew we could face parenthood.

My advice?  Listen to my cousin’s advice.  Don’t take any advice… Listen to your heart and your doctor!  

And one more thing... Express an opinion, but send all advice by regular mail. doctor!

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in General, Phase 2

 

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Does This Fit Here?

My grandmother did crossword puzzles. So did my dad, in pen. My one brother would photocopy both the morning and afternoon newspaper puzzles and we would sit around the dining room table doing them, almost as if it was a race to the finish. Another brother used to pore over jigsaw puzzles. Still a third brother liked the logic puzzles that came in the Dell Puzzle books. Mom likes Sudoku. I was fascinated by the Rubik’s Cube. I like them all. In fact, I like word games, puzzles and just about anything that challenges my mind, that is, except for the puzzle that is my mind, which is the greatest challenge of all.

Even the artistic expression I’ve settled into has been somewhat fractured. I choose to blog about anything and everything that pops into my head. There’s no stream of consciousness and it would be impossible to put the individual posts into any semblance of order that would make any sense. I dabble in mosaics: cracking up pieces of tile and glass, and attempting to create a masterpiece of recognizable images. Most of the rest of what I do is graphic art, at best. Even when I sing, I do parodies of some of my favorite songs, never singing them the way they were written, but always in an attempt to make someone feel touched, loved or when it’s really good, embarrassed.

It should be no surprise, then, that I am, in middle age, attempting to piece together the splintered elements of the puzzle that has been my life. Now, I suppose, is the time when most women go through this: when their kids have grown and gone, when they’ve settled into a new normal with regard to their body, their health, and their sex life; when they have a whole lot less time in front of them than they do behind them. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t an easy thing either.

Having discovered much about myself through honest introspection, and having overcome some of my demons (we all have them); I have survived the hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes of life. And now, when things have finally settled down, it’s the aftershocks that have to be put into place… like the last pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, or that one last word you can’t get, even with the crossword dictionary or the internet.

What I have learned is that when you try too hard to seek happiness, you are often disappointed. When you attempt to please others to validate yourself, you do yourself a great disservice. I think the best way to find that happiness, to validate yourself and feel real and complete peace of mind is to live your life authentically. Listen to and follow your heart and the pieces of your own puzzle will fall in to place naturally.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2015 in General, Phase 2

 

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My Advice

I’ve seen a lot of How-To articles, and a lot of stories that were long discourses on how someone would do it, if they had a chance to live their life over again.  But I also read somewhere that you are supposed to “express and opinion, but send advice by freight.”  I would attribute the quote appropriately, but being one of those people who are old enough to suffer from senior moments, though not yet silver-haired, I can’t remember where I saw it.  So I write this, mainly to remind myself, but also to intimate that there may be some wisdom in my suggestions as well.

Having been on this earth long enough to have my own memory lapses, I decided to write down a few things that I have learned while I’ve been here.  Before I forget.

The first thing I’ve learned is to respect older folks.  Learn from them.  They have, as they say, been there, done that.  They carry around with them a wealth of intellectual lore, right there in their heads, and even if they can’t always remember what they had for lunch, they possess such valuable wisdom, earned simply by living life.  If nothing else, I’ve learned that there are really no big deals.

My grandmother gave me two choice pieces to live by.  One was that it doesn’t pay to get upset about something that money can replace.  That was after I spilled tomato juice on her brand new lemon yellow carpet.  “It’s just a thing,” she’d say.  “If something bad happened to you, then I would be upset.”  The other thing I gained from her was that worrying is like wasting energy and emotion on something that hasn’t happened yet.  She told me to pick out one hour a week during which to worry.  Hers was Tuesdays, between three and four AM.

The second thing I’ve learned is to respect younger folks.  Learn from them.  You can gain so much by growing along with them, and looking at the world through their innocent and questioning eyes.  They help you to forget being jaded and pessimistic, and remind you that anything is possible.  While raising my kids, I tried very hard to respect their points of view when making decisions that affected them.  Often, they had valuable and practical input that was worth considering, and would change the outcome.

If they didn’t, I stuck to my original plan, but I showed them the same respect that I wanted them to show me.  In the end, both of my children grew up knowing that they have a voice.  And I grew up right along with them, understanding that I don’t know everything, and never will.  A one hundred year old friend of mine once told me that when we stop learning, we stop growing.  She continued to take classes at the community college until she couldn’t travel anymore, at age 102.

I’ve never been a religious person, however I am spiritually connected.  I believe there are forces greater than my own will at work in the universe.  Over my lifetime, it’s been made abundantly clear to me that I talk a lot, first by two of my three brothers, who each gave me nicknames that depicted that quality: one called my Yak, and the other, Herkimer J Mouth.  My grandfather would often ask me if I ever stopped talking.  So in the spirit (pun intended) of a higher power, I’ve developed a prayer that I say probably too often, and that is, “God, keep one arm around my shoulder, and one hand over my mouth.”  As I always told my children, you can think whatever you want, but as soon as you say it out loud, you can’t take it back.  Ever.

Through my own life experiences, I’ve learned that we only get one shot at life.  I’ve taken some twists and turns, some of which I regret, but most of which I do not.  What came out of all of it is that I found that you should never do anything to sacrifice the integrity of your own potential.  Treat yourself well, body, mind and soul.

That’s my advice.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 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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Express an Opinion… Send Advice by Freight train

When I first got pregnant, I got the best “advice” ever given to me… it was from my cousin, the mother of three boys and a girl.  She actually gave me two pieces of great advice.  She told me, first, “Never take anyone’s advice.  Listen to your heart and to your doctor.” 

 
There was a whole long story behind this.  When she was attempting to nurse her first born, she was encountering some difficulty.  Her mother suggested that perhaps her milk was too thin and the baby wasn’t getting enough nourishment.  Her mother-in-law, on the other hand, felt that her milk was too rich, and the baby was having trouble digesting it.  This is when she learned to listen to the advice she so graciously gave me.  She went on to have three more healthy, well-nourished children, who, by the way, are all healthy, well-adjusted, thriving and successful adults!

 
 The second pearl of wisdom, was that when I was at a point of total frustration with the baby, on one of those colicky nights when I couldn't get him to stop crying, or when she was in the middle of a "terrible two" tantrum, it was suggested that I think of the "dumbest person I know who is a mom, and tell myself if she can do it, I can do it."

 

I am reminded of the time we asked a friend of ours, who was carrying her first child, if she knew the sex of the baby.  Her answer we found funny, or maybe placed her in that category of who we might call to mind when we needed a little hope, because she told us that “the baby won’t decided its sex until its four months old.”  With slight allowance for a language barrier (although Hispanic, she had been born and raised in the states), it was then my husband and I knew we could face parenthood.

 

My advice?  Listen to my cousin’s advice.  Don’t take any advice… Listen to your heart and your doctor!

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in General

 

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