Friday, January 29, 2010

In my last post, I quoted Abraham Heschel, and here again, Heschel's words are the best way I can think of to describe the way I felt today.

For Heschel, the march from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. Martin Luther King had a spiritual significance. He wrote, "For many of us the march from Selma to Montgomery was about protest and prayer. Legs are not lips and walking is not kneeling. And yet our legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying."

Today, as I was tutoring with my son's, the most adorable and teachable third graders, at an elementary school in Newark, NJ, I couldn't help but feel like my entire body was praying, and I hope my boys were able to feel that way as well. It is truly inspiring to give to the world in a way that you can feel- through your entire body -that one day, something good might come out of your efforts.

My son's and I went to Newark with my friend Amy and her son's as a part of a charitable organization called StepWise, which was founded by one of our synagogue members. It was an effective and rewarding teaching experience and I look forward to spending more afternoons with these wonderful students. If anyone would like to join us on Friday afternoons, just let me know.

Needless to say, these adorable children, with hope in their eyes and an entire future ahead of themselves, gave me a truly meaningful 50th birthday gift. It is so unbelievably true that the BEST present you can receive is the gratification of knowing that you have helped another human being.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I thought keeping a blog would obligate me to write regularly and therefore, provide more discipline to my very hectic life. Needless to say, it hasn't.

After a voluminous start, sometimes with two postings a day, I have slowed down considerably. Finding the time to write isn't as much an issue as finding the time to thoughtfully consider the content of my writing.

This particular post is long overdue. Last Friday evening, I entertained seven families for a Shabbat dinner; fourteen adults and twelve children. It was a wonderful evening- everyone brought a dish and some wine which helped me tremendously. I made a terrific brisket, actually three briskets ( in Hebrew, do we say briskot?) and I can brag about it because, I got the recipe from my friend Karen, whose food blog you should definitely check out, if not for the unbelievably tasty brisket, then for all her other great recipes and stories.

Back to last Friday night.

Having guests for Shabbat dinner is something I always want to do on a regular basis. Until I do it!!! I so envy my cousin Diana, who not only teaches all week, but every Friday, cooks up a homemade meal, sets a beautiful Sabbath table, and entertains guests. Granted, except for holidays, when she hosts a multitude of family, she usually invites, a manageable, one or two families. But even this amount of cooking, and cleaning, on a regular basis, seems overwhelming to me.

Don't misunderstand. I love opening my home to friends and family. I love the rituals of Shabbat; lighting the candles, and blessing the wine and challah. I love the relaxed atmosphere and the feeling of sitting around the dining room table conversing (except when the conversation turns to politics like it did last Friday night- and I thank all the "gentlemen" for their restraint).

I love the holiness of the moment, which is always present on the Sabbath, but not always noticed. Yet, more often than not, I don't allow this "specialness" to permeate my home on a Friday evening.

I can blame it on the fact that my kids have scheduled events that sometimes interfere, or that my husband, exhausted from a long weeks work, shouldn't have to entertain guests, when he, most probably and understandably, wants to unwind alone or get an early nights rest. But those are just excuses. The reality is that, as much as I enjoy the quality time, I dread the effort that it takes to achieve.

To quote one of my favorite authors, a man considered as close to a modern day Jewish prophet as exists, Abraham Heschel:

" How significant is it that this word, (holy), is applied to time. “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy” There is no reference in the record of creation to any object in space that would be endowed with the quality of holiness. Only time gets this distinction.

It would seem that after God created heaven and earth, he would create a holy place like a mountain or spring- whereupon a sanctuary is to be established. Instead, God creates holiness in time, the Sabbath, which comes first."

I believe this beauty in time can be created in all homes for all faiths. I have heard stories, which today seem like lore, of my husband's extended Italian-American family, coming over every Sunday afternoon- to eat, talk, play cards, and just be together. Were they observing their Sabbath without the rituals? Or my mother's extended family, who all lived near one another in Brooklyn and would come by my grandmother's home without invite to eat, talk, and just be together.

We have lost that family "sacredness" which came with proximity, but, if we make the effort, we can still allow some of the "sacredness of time" to infuse our homes.

My birthday gift last Friday evening was enjoying a lovely Shabbat dinner with friends. My hope for this, my fiftieth year, is that I remember to let the joy of the Sabbath enter my home more often.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Being a person who takes things seriously, it is sometimes difficult to gain perspective on even the most ordinary of situations. But, when a situation is not ordinary, the difficulty of gaining proper perspective is magnified.

There are often times in life, when things take you by surprise. Sometimes the surprise is pleasant and other times, it is not. Keeping the not-so-pleasant surprises (those that really throw you for a loop), in perspective, is not always easy for a intensely mindful person like myself.

Well, this past week, I had one of those,"I can't believe this is happening," moments. After the initial surprise, followed by feelings of disappointment and frustration, I got to work to remedy the situation as best I could. But, many times, the ability to effect life's events is out of ones own control, and even with ones best intentions and greatest efforts, progress is slow.

Then, a day later, the tragedy in Haiti happened. All my insignificant, blown-out-of-proportion worries were put into perspective.

All of a sudden, it didn't really matter as much if the changes I was trying to produce really materialized. Yes, this "unpleasant surprise" was still important to "MY WORLD", but that was all it was. It didn't effect my health or well being, it didn't effect the health and well being of my family or friends. In fact, it didn't effect anyones health or well being.

Everyone I know, and even those I don't, will be no worse for the wear. Well, maybe a little worse, but not significantly worse, and certainly not life altering-ly worse.

Life gives us many challenges, it gives some more challenges than others. Right now, it is giving the Haitian people life threatening challenges. I recognize that other people's difficulties do not make my own problems go away, minimize them, or make them seem any less important to me, but, they do put life into perspective.

A disaster like the earthquake in Haiti isn't needed to remind me that I shouldn't obsess about the everyday, or even the unexpected difficulties in my life. This is something I need to be reminded of daily. It is something I work hard to remember even when there is no major tragedy playing out on the world stage.

Today I am grateful for the gift of perspective. In my 50th year, I will try to remember to face each challenge head-on, and to deal with each situation in a positive way, even if I cannot make everything better. Most importantly, in my 50th year, I will be mindful to meet each challenge with the proper perspective. Perspective is a gift I will give to myself!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I have not written in a few days because the earthquake in Haiti, and its devastating aftermath has left me emotionally numb. It seems that anything I could possibly write, no matter how meaningful, would appear shallow in light of  the tremendous suffering experienced by the Haitians. My thoughts have been consumed by the their plight. I hope and pray for relief to their immediate suffering, and for a positive future for all of Haiti's inhabitants.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ever since I began this blog, I have been waiting to write about The Committed Life, a book by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis..

I read this book in the fall, and since it spoke to everything in which I believe, I told my husband that if he really wanted to know me, he should read it. Of course, he won't, mostly because he already thinks he knows who I am, but also because in his busy life, working to provide for our family, he rarely has a free moment that isn't already booked with our children's activities and family commitments.

I have refered this book to almost every person I know and they in turn have refered it to their friends.
A few people have said its a little too positive, but most have found it inspiring, if not life changing.

The back cover says," Drawing on the timeless wisdom of the Torah, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis reminds us of the principles necessary for living a better and more committed life. Inspirational and deeply moving, this book will touch your heart like no other."

My favorite chapters are on Charity-Tzedukah, Peace, Compassion, Gratitude and Time, but each page has precious words of wisdom. It is a book you will want to own, so that you can underline, mark all over it, and pick it up again and again.

As the Rebbetzin writes," A long life is not good enough, but a good life is long enough."

Read the book and live a fulfilling life!

Thank you Rebbetzin Jungreis for one of my most special and useful 50th birthday presents. Your book is a present that keeps on giving. It gives me something to think about and something to work on everyday. I love the way it makes me feel and helps me live my life.

At 5:30 this morning, John was long gone to work, the house was quiet and I wasable to get to work. I uploaded a few pictures to some of my older blog posts and I hope you enjoy them.

I then read the first chapter of Hound of the Baskervilles so that I could discuss it with my son Reid who is finding the Old English a bit put-offing. The job of mothering is never done, but it is also a gift and I am so happy for the priviledge.

This past Sunday evening, I was also blessed with the opportunity to mother in a most positive way. I hosted a movie night for my synagogue and showed the film Live and Become in my home. I had seen it with my two older sons, about five years ago, when it was shown in theaters as part of the Jewish Film Festival. Because it was so memorable, I wanted to share it with others, and so as soon as it became available, I purchased it from Amazon.

It is a very emotional movie about Ethiopian Jewry and Israel, but it is as much about motherhood, and the intense bond between mother and child.

The most rewarding aspect of the evening, is that my son Reid, and two of his religious school classmates, really enjoyed the movie and learned some important life lessons.

The gift to me is that I was able to do my job of mothering by imparting valuable lessons to my son and others. In my very small way, by sharing the light within me, I was also able to help illuminate the world, and this is a most incredible 50th birthday present.

About the movie, Live and Become

In the mid-1980s, a Christian Ethiopian boy from a poverty-stricken family is forced by his mother to pretend he is a Jewish orphan so that he has a chance at being adopted by an upper class Jewish family in Israel.

Live and Become (2008) Poster

Monday, January 11, 2010

I received a totally unexpected and totally fantastic birthday gift this Saturday!

The day started uneventfully when I took Reid to get a ski jacket that he had been patiently waiting for since Hannukah. Then, off to meet my mother for lunch.

While with my mom, she mentioned a mutual friend who I hadn't seen in a while. I gave her a call and the next thing you know, she was at my home, not just for the afternoon, but for an overnight with her two adorable girls, Emmy 10, and Teddy 5.

When my families away, I really can play. And boy did I play!

First, I helped the girls bake cakes for their teachers, which they decorated beautifully with icing, sprinkles and chocolate chips. Chinese dinner followed by bubble baths, rose scented massages, and hair braiding. Emmy went through my closet and instructed me on up-to-the-minute fashion trends, informing me that I was wearing my socks too high and that I needed to roll them down to my ankles for a more stylish affect. 

I awoke to the sound of giddy, giggling girls and made a lovely pancake breakfast.  A make-up session in which Teddy put mascara on my cheeks and lip gloss on my forehead proved most entertaining. Later, Emmy and I played her video game, pretending to be clothing aficionados, choosing fashionable outfits for various customers entering our virtual store. Hooray for Emmy who competed against the best designers and won her competition!!!

We were all sad when the party ended, especially me. The joy that filled my home and heart from the moment they arrived to their last goodbye was overwhelming. 

My husband John once commented, when all my boys were gathered together, so happily watching football, and I was aimlessly wondering the house looking for something to do, that maybe things would be different if we had a girl. At that time, I adamantly disagreed, thinking that having a girl would only divide our family life into sexist parenting roles.

Well, I was wrong.  I certainly cherish my three wonderful sons and wouldn't trade them for the world. But girls, especially very girly girls like Emmy and Teddy, are, like boys,  their own unique precious gift to the world and they are, I can now admit, something I have missed since my teaching days.

So, on this, my fiftieth birthday year, I feel fortunate to have celebrated with these beautiful girls and indulged in being a girly girl myself.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Last night, after services, I stayed to here Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, NJ speak to our synagogue audience. Politics isn't usually my thing, but I am on the board of the synagogue and co-chair of programming, and while I had no hand in bringing Mr. Booker to speak, it is my responsibility to support, to the best of my abilities, all that we do at CBI.

In the spirit of newly blossoming friendship, I invited Kathy, who I thought might be interested because of her involvement in local politics,(we will be celebrating her victory this Sunday). She came and returned with me to my home for some good "girl talk", which is always a treat, especially on a weekend when "boy talk" usually dictates my time.

Back to the topic. All I can say is, Wow, what a speaker! If you think Obama is a good orator... for a predominately Jewish audience, I think Booker takes first prize.

To begin with, he is adorable, in a way that any mother would want to hug him. He is so, so affable, so lovable. He speaks with no notes, moving around and gesturing with his entire body. He quotes biblical phrases in Hebrew more capably than most of our own congregants-unbelievable! Each week he studies with the Lubovitcher Rabbi, Rabbi Block, who was a friend and Rabbi to my own family when I lived in Westfield.

Mayor Booker, who let us know he was a Christian, was president of the Chabad house at Oxford, and at Yale, he started, and is still a part of, a Jewish society named Eliezer.

As I understood it, Booker's talk was broadly about having moral courage. We must listen to our moral compasses, stand up for what we believe is just, and do the hard things to make the world a better place. Tikkun Olam, repairing the world is at the essence of Jewish teaching and it was the underlying message of his presentation.

I got depressed when I thought about all the pearls of wisdom he shared with us last night, and recognized the fact that my failing memory prohibits me from remembering most of them. (a blog for another day). But I got the gist, and that is inspiration enough. How I internalize Booker's message, and what I do with that inspiration will be the ultimate birthday present.

Mayor Booker read this Torah quote from the plaque that stands at the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King was shot.It is from the story of Jacob's son Joseph and his brothers who envied him and plotted to kill him. "They said one to another, behold here cometh the Dreamer. Let us slay him and we shall see what becomes of his dreams." (GENESIS chapter 37 verses 19 and 20

Dreams are important. They provide us material for setting lofty goals and planning strategies to reach them. However, its one thing to dream, and its a completely different thing to actualize them. To this point, the mayor said something that really resonated with me. I will paraphrase for lack of memory,
"Don't let not doing everything, stop you from doing something."

You see, I am an ideas person, not the follow-through guy. I have come to realize that the "BIG CHANGE THE WORLD STUFF", that fills my head day and night, is probably beyond my reach, and I have settled for doing my small part to make the world a better place. But there are many days when "my small part" seems wholly inadequate for the myriad of problems that plague us.

Cory Booker's gift to me was in reminding me that it takes every small step to make a big difference, and that I should continue to do what I can, even if I cannot do everything I want.

Its about time I learned this at 50!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Shabbot Shalom,

Ok, you got me. If I were really observant, I wouldn't be on my computer on Friday evening but I have some quiet time before services so I thought I'd write.

This afternoon, I went to Cantor Shana's class and my friend and classmate, Laura, so aptly quoted her husband who called us," Cantor Shana and the Shanettes."

Where to start? This class started a few years ago as me and two other congregants, met with our lovely, beautiful and young Cantor for Friday morning lessons on how to read Torah.

But for me it actually started in 2005 at Austin's Bar Mitzvah. A friend of mine from Nepal was invited with her family and her mother who lives with her. After the service, her mother pointed out to me that while we spoke so meaningfully about passing down our Jewish tradition from one generation to another-l'dor va dor- , in fact, neither my husband, who is not Jewish, nor I read from the Torah, which is the tradition we were so pointedly passing down. Challenge!!!!

She was right. I could not, in good conscience, repeat the same mistake at my youngest son's Bar Mitzvah. I needed to learn how to read Torah. Not an easy task, as those of you who spent your youth in hebrew school know.

You see, I grew up as a reform Jew, and in my generation, few reform Jewish girls had Bat Mitzvah's. It was still a guy thing, and my brothers got all the honors, all the parties and all the money!!

I didn't mind at the time. I hated sunday school, and was "encouraged" to go until confirmation at 16. ! I remember my mother forcing me to write the last 500 word essay so that I could be confirmed with my classmates. Boy did I hate that!!!

A few years later, at the age of 23, I lived in Israel on a kibbutz and studied a little Hebrew. So when I began this project with Cantor Shana, I had some previous knowledge. I relearned my letters and vowels, learned trope( which is the music to which you sing while reading Torah).
And, yes indeed, I read from the Torah at Reid's Bar Mitzvah, and several times before and since.

I must say that the first time I read from the Torah, I was crying so profusely, that I had to be careful not to damage the delicate scroll which is so painstakingly written. Tears of joy I presume, but more so, the intense emotional connection I felt with my ancestors who have been reading Torah for thousands of years.

Well, even after I learned to read Torah, the lessons with Cantor Shana didn't stop, they simply evolved. We had so many questions during our Torah class, that we began a class on learning the prayer service. Brenda and I were joined by Amy, and Laura and now we also have Lisa and Amy.

Learning the prayer service is enlightening, but after a year of Fridays, we have now, I think as of today, reinvented ourselves for a second time as a Torah study group. We spent a lot of time talking about biblical stories, history, our ancestors, Joseph and his brothers who ditched him. (remember that one?)

We started our discussion today with the Cantor answering a question I had asked while passing her in the halls. (I hardly remember asking her, but I believe her when she says I did) The question was "Were the Israelites, who were slaves in Egypt, and later wandering in the desert, circumcised?" I know. What a dumb and ridiculous question, I mean, who cares? I guess I did at the time. And don't ask me why, I have no clue.

Anyway, two hours later, many subjects later, debating, laughing... we always walk away more knowledgeable and more connected to one another and to our past.

This afternoon was a celebration of my 50th birthday because it was spent studying, learning, connecting with friends, and with my ancestors- who left Egypt, survived the Babylonians, the Romans, the Inquisition, and of course, the Holocaust. And because of their determination to live, and their dedication to their God and their heritage, they have passed down to me their most beautiful traditions which I cherish dearly and which I hope will be passed down from my son's to their children and so on and so forth. L'dor v' dor!

Good Morning,

Just a dust of snow here in Jersey. I don't think of myself as an envious person, except when it comes to other people's travel adventures, and maybe just a few more things having to do with other's accomplishments rather than possessions. Well, maybe a few possessions, but not many- I promise.

However, last night I received a fb post from Laurie, a friend from Junior High who lives in California and is reading my blog, and today I am envious of her nice warm weather.

In response to Laurie's fb compliment, I wrote that I am writing this blog as much for my three sons as I am for myself- at least that is how it has evolved thus far. I told her, I hope one day my boys will read this and think,"wow, this is what my mother was doing or thinking." Which I explained was better than the alternative,"My mother had no life".

This morning, at 3:30 A.M. I was up helping my son Austin and husband get off to the airport. Austin is playing in a golf tournament this weekend in Florida, where it is supposed to be freezing! Good Luck Austin!

The birthday gift here is that it reminded me of my parents, but mostly my father, Marvin, who would wake me on horse-show mornings, and drive me to the stable at ungodly hours,(and yes Mom, I know you were always up making sure I was dressed warmly and had enough food).
I seldom stop to reflect on the sacrifices my parents made in raising me, and now that I am a parent, I appreciate them more. So, thank you!!!

This past summer while walking on the beach, I found a sea horse skeleton-I had just been speaking of my dad, and I thought it was uncanny that I found this perfect "horse", where there usually are none. It is such a treat to have improved at recognizing these hidden coincidences or maybe it's as they say, "there are no coincidences".

Like the time I was chatting at the bakery with some older locals who only know me from stopping in at 6:30am to get an early morning coffee, wearing my pjs with PINK written across the butt(I no longer do this since the bakery closed).

Well, one thing led to another, and it ends up the guy's brother worked as a farrier at my father's stable years ago, and he remembered my father giving his brother a jeep for free. When I later repeated this story to my mom, she so profoundly said, "You see Alicia, the only thing we leave behind is our good name." And my mother's words of wisdom, while uttered two years ago, are a gift to me today as they are everyday that I remember to make my own name something to be well remembered.

So, tonight when I go to services to say Kaddish for my grandmother, I will also think of my father. And, remembering a loved one, as I mentioned in a previous blog, is always a gift to me.

Since September, I have been fortunate to have Austin around to drive himself and Reid to school. This has given me the luxury of staying home longer before I begin my day in the "real world". Well, due to the weather, and with Austin away, walking was not an option for Reid. So, I bundled up and did what I did for so many years, which was drop Reid at school and go straight to the market. What a pleasure to shop when the aisles are empty and to boot, I bought a present for myself-Fish Oil capsules! Happy 50th!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I think today I may have to settle for the simple gifts. Like the nurses hand that comforted me at the dentist's office. Its amazing how a total stranger can provide so much comfort.

Or, the fact that it is sunny outside-still too cold, but sunny. I spent the afternoon on my own, which is always a nice thing. Its good to be able to enjoy ones own company, and thankfully, I do.

On the way home from the dentist, I smiled when I thought of a gift my husband gave me last night without him realizing it.

( He actually has no idea about the premise of this blog, and he thinks the entire blogging, facebook universe is a ridiculous waste of time, which doesn't bother me since I think staring at the television watching sports all day is a waste of time).

Anyway, yesterday we were both busy, he with his work, and me with my hectic schedule and new blog. We didn't speak by phone during the day as we usually do, when I call to bother him about one thing or another.

Well, at home last night my husband said,"I missed you calling today, even though I was too busy to speak." I took it as a compliment, but as most mid-week conversations go between husbands and wives...who really listens? does anything really register? I certainly didn't recognize,until a day later, the full meaning of his words-how nice it feels to know that just your presence in this world is appreciated.

So tonight I will thank John for his kind words and let him know they were a gift to me in my 50th year.

I first have to apologize for spelling boredom wrong in yesterday's post. I will try to improve my spelling day by day, but I think you are either born a good speller or your not. Guess what...

This morning I have a dentist appointment. John and I finally decided to cave and take care of our teeth-for health and cosmetic reasons. My kids don't agree with me, but there is a purpose to trying to looking good at 50!!!

So, after putting ourselves at the back of the line behind, boarding school, golf school, braces, lessons of every sort, Bar Mitzvah, Bar Mitzvah, Bar Mitzvah, and yes, charitable giving, we finally decided to do something for ourselves.

If you had a few bucks to spend on yourself, I suppose you would choose teeth as well. The perfect mixture of dentist chair plastic, Listerine aroma, shrilling drill sounds and pure torture. What were we thinking? Anyway, the blessing is that the dentist is amazing, not only as a practitioner but truly a kind man!!). Hopefully we'll like the results. I don't have afternoon plans so the day is wide open and I will await to see what birthday gifts or celebrations find me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It is afternoon and the day continued to be as hectic as the morning. Maybe the idea of writing the blog has forced me to accomplish more in one day than I would ordinarily do because having to write down and account for ones time can make one want to fill time with meaning.

As my oldest son pointed out to me while I was doing my crossword puzzle and suggested he do one to relieve his bordem, he said," I don't want to just fill up my time". Little did he know I was not "just filling up my time", but trying to keep my mind working, since, as of late, I've noticed a clear rise in forgetfulness and decline in mental abilities. As my husband likes to remind me, I am a teacher, with a post graduate degree in teaching mathematics, and I count on my fingers!

Anyway, hopefully, this drive to be busy will ease up in a few days because I can't keep up the pace. I definitely like, and need my down time.

So today I went to my Matheny meeting. Matheny, you ask,? My friend Edana has a son who was born with Angelmans Syndrome. He lives at the Matheny Medical Center which is a residency, school and hospital. A few years ago, Edana asked me to serve on the board of the Friends of Matheny- a group that helps support special programming for the Matheny students. I accepted reluctantly, but have benefited tremendously from serving. It is wonderful to give to something that gives nothing back except the emotional gratification for knowing you are helping others. At the meeting, I volunteered to do the invitations for the spring fundraiser to be held at the Jets training facility. I know I am too busy to add one more thing, but I also know the amount of work the other girls are doing and I wanted to help relieve their burden.

From Matheny meeting to my Women of Wonder class. A group of just a few women who gather every other week for an hour to study Jewish wisdom. We are on our third year, having studied Rabbi Telushkin's book of Jewish Wisdom, Pirkei Avoth- Words of our Fathers, and now a book of Notable Jewish tales.

Four of my favorite people in the world. Amy Klausner who started the group with me, Pam Ball who is running the synagogue fundraiser this year, is so capable, has been a loyal Woman of Wonder and a loyal friend, and who I really don't believe has a mean bone in her body. And, Maryanne who is in her eighties and brings so much wisdom to our group of 50 year olds. I love them all, I think they are definitely one of my birthday gifts, and I thank you for celebrating with me today. You made my second day special and I know you'll give me many more gifts throughout the year.

Meanwhile, to end this blog, I'd like to remember my Grandma Rachel. Today is her Yartzeit. It is the day we remember her life, on the anniversary of her passing. As my cousin Diana said in her comment on my recent blog, I was special to her. But mostly, she was special to me- very special!!! It is truly an honor to remember her and celebrate her life by celebrating mine.

I strive to live in her image and I thank her for being an example to me. I love you Grandma Rachel, thanks for celebrating my 50th with me!
I am really too busy to write this morning, but if I don't put down on paper or blog what is going on in my brain, I will not capture the feeling that comes to me so many mornings. I will write later about the gifts and celebrations of today, if there are any, but for now I have to capture the hectic nature of my life.

I have a Matheny meeting at 9:30 ( I'll explain later) and a Women of Wonder meeting at 11:00(another explanation), so the morning routine is rushed. Not to mention the fact that I had no milk or bread in the house this morning, and my sons didn't want any of the good breakfast options I offered, ie. coffee cake, eggs and bacon(apologies to my kosher friends, my mother makes us bacon all the time, I think she thinks its one of the necessary food groups), hot cereal, or frozen waffles. No instead, Austin made the trip to the Bagel Bin for himself and Reid.

With no bread, I couldn't make them lunch so Austin gave Reid some money since I had none-Typical! They are off to school and I check emails, there is one from my oldest son, John or Connor, whatever you want to call him-that too is a long story- asking me to free up his time by filling in a mundane questionnaire for him. Distracted by that, I will not have time to get to the market for incidentals or anything else before my meeting. I say to myself, "thats ok, I can squeeze it in in the afternoon, if I get around to it".

A call from my friend Lesley, who I will be helping with her inventory work this afternoon-evening from 4-9pm. Upstairs to shower and clean-up, get laundry downstairs, make beds-no, forget that, too busy, that will have to wait until just before bedtime, when they mess them up again. To the laundry room, where I put into the dryer clothes that sat in the washer all night because I forgot to put them in the dryer last night and anyway, if I had, they would be all wrinkled this morning, and I would have to wash them all over again. So they might have a little mildew smell, No Problem, if it's not too bad, Bounce will freshen them up. Oops, forgot, have to buy some more Bounce at the market.

Sit down at the computer to get all this craziness out of my head and realize my glasses are upstairs, one of the beauties of being 50, or almost 50, I am blind as a bat, and although I buy and buy cheapo glasses- presntly 175's, I misplace them, lose them,, and basically, never have them when I need them. Oh well, since I hate excersizing, I tell myself the stairs are good for me.

Well, just enough time to prepare for my Woman of Wonder class. Gotta go, will check in tonight. Was there anything here I can celebrate as a birthday gift? Oh yeah, as my son Austin(17) shut the door behind him on his way to school and shouted, "Love you".

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Am I really going to do this for an entire year? Well, we'll see.

Today is a perfect day to write about because it was very routine and so I really need to look hard to find the beauty and gifts of today. It is certainly not the weather, which is freezing, nor is it the ironing I did this morning, which was overwhelming(men and boys really need to get over the Khaki thing).

However, while I was straightening up and ironing, I spoke with my dear friend Rosanne from Westfield where I used to live. It is so nice catching-up with good friends and that is definitely a highlight of my fiftieth year.

A meeting at my synagogue, Congregation B'nai Israel, to plan our annual fundraiser proved to be ordinary, but nice hugs from the staff made me feel welcome, which is a really nice feeling. Seeing friends who I haven't seen since 2009 was also nice. And, of course, working for a cause is a mitzvah, which is always rewarding.

This afternoon, I spoke with my close friend Amy, who is always so enlightening and who adds so much to my life. She had read my first post and, at first, was mad at me for not telling her it was my birthday,( which of course it wasn't-I suppose you will have to keep reading this blog to find out when my actual birthday is) but then she was proud of me for making a blog.

So I realized that if I never make another post, it wouldn't matter because I already accomplished more than I thought I could, which is posting a blog in the first place! But Amy shed light in another way, she pointed out that I am already halfway through my fiftieth year(oops, did I give away my birthdate), and since I can't remember how I make coffee(ask and I'll tell you that story), let alone, what I did these past few months, I will have to bend the rules a little and make my fiftieth year run from 1/1/2010-12/31/2011.

Off to take Reid to squash, as usual!
It is my fiftieth year. Truly a milestone. It is a year when I want to celebrate myself and reflect on who I have become over the past fifty years.

It was on New Years Eve that I realized I was turning fifty in 2010. My brother John said he was making ten year resolutions and I began to recognize the huge changes that would occur for me between the ages of fifty and sixty.

For the past twenty years, I have been a housewife and mother. Over the next ten years, my three sons will be grown and most probably will have left the house. Who will I be then?

The first two days of 2010, I spent as I have in past years, thinking and fretting about what job I should be doing, or not doing. Should I teach, go back to school for a second masters or maybe a doctorate. Should I focus on making money or will I only be fulfilled through volunteer work. What should I do to be satisfied. Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do I become this person? All these questions rattle through my mind until, each year, I give up, move on and start living my life as I always have been; one day at a time. But today is different.

Today I decided to write my first blog. Originally, I had this brilliant idea that I would get through my fiftieth year by keeping a calendar of all the fun things I do and count each of them as birthday gifts or mini celebrations. Before I could go to the store to purchase this calendar, I was given one by a friend who had extras and quickly realized that I'd never be able to fit all my doings in those small calendar spaces. That's when the blog idea hit me. No, actually it hit me the night before when I read a dear friend's blog and realized she was the second of my blogging friends and that I too could do this.

So here I am writing about my fiftieth year one day at a time. I hope that in writing down all the things that I do to make me happy I will come to know myself and appreciate who I have become. There is too much pressure on planning a fiftieth birthday celebration or a fiftieth birthday trip. But sitting here writing about my daily happenings, I will be able to look back on a, hopefully, very fulfilling fiftieth year.

I will start with yesterday, January 3rd, the first of my birthday celebrations. How appropriate that it was with my mother. After all, she is the one who birthed me, raised me and as much as I hate to admit it, she is the one most responsible for the person I am today.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my Mom, my cousin Nina, Nina's daughter Liza and one of my dearest friends Lesley. I try to meet my mom on a regular basis and my cousins or sister-in-law every now and then. Legal Seafood, at the Short Hills Mall, is our usual jaunt and that is where we were. While my guests had no idea I was being treated to the first of my birthday treats, we had a great lunch and it was a wonderful way to start my fiftieth year celebration.

Yesterday I was also able to help a friend. Well, maybe. I may have hooked her up with someone about a job possibility and I hope that works out for her. If it does, it would be my first mitzvah(good deed) for the year; or at least the first one I am aware of. I like to help others and helping someone help themselves is high up there on the mitzvah chart so I feel good about that and will definitely count it as a birthday gift.

I don't want to forget to mention that on New Years Day, I invited some girlfriends to see "Its Complicated". Edana and Lesley joined me for this great girl flick and I was happy to see a terrific movie about older couples in love( which is what I am). So I guess this should also be counted as another fiftieth birthday present even if I hadn't actually started counting yet and my friends had no idea I was even celebrating.