Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Bar Mitzvah

Yesterday we celebrated my cousin Nina's sons Bar Mitzvah. Family celebrations automatically qualify as a 50th birthday gift because they are not only fun but a wonderful way to spend time with people I love.

Bar Mitzvahs are extra special occasions because they acknowledge a major milestone in a child's life.

The cliche " where one door closes another one opens" can be used to describe the Bar Mitzvah.

Bar Mitzvahs are the end and the beginning; the culmination of years of learning and hard work and hopefully, the beginning of ones life as a dedicated Jewish adult. (Not too different from a graduation.)

What should a Bar Mitzvah know after they have gone through the process?

I am Jewish
I can participate in a Jewish service
I can bring Judaism into my own home by celebrating Shabbat and other Jewish holidays
Jewish laws help me live a just life
I am required to be a righteous individual
I am obliged to participate in both my local and worldwide Jewish communities
I am expected to study Torah, pray and do acts of loving kindness
G-d expects me to live a happy and productive life

I am certain I haven't listed all that a Bar Mitvah should know at 13 years of age, but you get the gist. If you can think of other things a Bar Mitzvah should know, please comment so I can expand this list.

Mazel Tov, Grant!

My Friend Amy

My friend Amy is simply amazing. She listens and hears. She is knowledgeable and wise.

My friend Amy helps me be me. She willingly participates in any of my endeavors and brings me along to all that she does. We are each others legs and together we are each better individuals.

Amy and her son's tutor in Newark with me and my boys. Amy is a Woman of Wonder and a Cantor's class participant. Amy is a Sista from sisterhood, she is an avid reader and together we read sisterhood books and more. Amy supports my efforts at Matheny and the efforts of all her other friends.

Amy is a seeker and we are on a journey together. In the past two years, we have learned so much and we are both better for our acquired knowledge and wisdom.

Amy is a mother to be envious of. She reads passages of wisdom to her sons at the breakfast table, and doesn't miss any opportunity for a teachable moment.

Today I learned that once a week Amy takes her sons to a farm where they garden to help supply the local food bank with fresh vegetables. I am utterly impressed; she is a truly amazing mother!

Here's to you my dear friend! You are a wonderful 50th birthday gift and I am blessed to have you in my life. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shavuot Tov

"An altar of earth you shall make to me, and . . . in all places where I cause my name to be pronounced I will come to you, and I will bless you."

Happy Shavuot to all who celebrate!

Shavuot is the holiday when we celebrate the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai

I thought the facebook post of my friend Neil, which is printed above, was very interesting given my life altering experience last Friday.

G-d's name was pronounced by Lisa in our Cantor's class and G-d came to me. Hopefully, he blessed me and all those in the room.

Comments Please!

It's been eight posts without a single comment.
Come on my dear friends, I need you to cheer me on!!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jealousy under wraps

My friend Kate's blog, which I included in my last post, and which included a paragraph about me, has been a catalyst for further contemplation on my part.

Kate wrote that I don't have a jealous bone in my body and that I am always bragging about the accomplishments of my friend's children. I am tremendously flattered by Kate's perception of me but let me give some explanation and make some corrections.

First, I always brag about my friend's children and, for that matter, my friends and family, because I truly love them. I love my family and friends an I love all children. I am a teacher by profession and I love children and I am always amazed by their good nature and tremendous zeal toward life. I love what they do and what they say. I feel like a mother to all of them and that I must say is just my nature.

Now, to the part about jealousy. I think that all mankind has jealous tendencies and that is why we are commanded not to covet our neighbors.

As my friend Amy always says, those rules are there for a reason. It's because we need them!

I don't believe a person has to practice religion to KNOW this. It is an ethical and conscious decision not to be jealous. But, not being envious of others, comes from focusing on the blessings that exist in one's own life, and, religion, or purposeful practice in ethical behavior, make this a more natural and consistent part of everyday living.

I think not being envious takes practice and wisdom. And, wisdom comes with age! Some people are more innately gifted than others. Some people are born with a greater tendency toward empathy, compassion, awareness, but for me, age did the trick. It helped me realize that what I have is mine and I am appreciative of that.

Which makes me wonder how Kate could think I was not green with envy back in 1996, when she lived across the street from me with her five children.

Kate was grounded in her faith;I was not!

Kate home schooled her children, and me, with my Columbia MA in teaching did not have the nerve to home school my children, even though I knew it was best for them, and I wanted to so badly.

Kate read the newspaper every morning and watched interesting movies with her kids-remembering everything she read and saw and discussing anything so knowledgeably; I have a memory the size of a pea. Although my husband will tell you that is only my short term memory. I have a knack for remembering every little thing he ever did wrong.

She is tall and thin and beautiful(I tried to upload a pic, but couldn't so until I am able to, you'll have to use your imagination!

Kate sat at her computer and wrote;I could only remember the writers block I had in college. Kate fed her five children dinner every night; while I was ordering in.

Her kids where so capable. They made Nutella sandwiches and spread soft butter on there toast( I know that is a non-jewish thing, cuz growing up in my house, the Breakstone butter was always hard and cold.)

Her kids did chores, made their beds, my kids were, how should I say this, Taken Care Of! King David's if you will. (I couldn't help it, I'm a Jewish mother with boys)

Need I say more. Envy abounds in this soul of mine. It is just under wraps! At 50, I, now more than ever, appreciate the bounty I was given and the many many blessings in my own life.

And since we all like to know how a story ends, I will tell you that while my kids eat Nutella and eat soft butter on their bread, it is I who makes their meals and makes their beds. Not something to be proud of, but I appreciate that they are MY King Davids and this is MY way, in MY life. How's that for using perception to trick yourself into loving your own reality!

A Note From Kate Forristall

My friend Alicia Zurlo left a note and a pie on my doorstep in 1996. I had five little children and she had just given birth to her third son. Within two weeks we forged a relationship that felt like it had begun before we were born. It probably had. She brags about her friends' children, doesn't have a jealous bone in her body, and within two years of getting her realtor's license, was selling millions of dollars in homes...because sheactually listened to people telling her what they needed. She will be the friend I call if I am ever jailed in a foreign country because there will be NO STOPPING HER from figuring out what to do, and the way she practices her faith, the way the love of G_d infuses her being, is a gift that she gives to all around her.

This is how my friend Kate described me in her latest blog. I am posting it-not because it makes me look so good, which it does,- but because reading Kate's words made me smile ( of course, I don't remember bringing the pie-Lord knows I must have bought it, because I certainly don't think I was baking with a newborn in hand.)

Reading Kate's blog also reaffirmed the depth and richness of our friendship, and by extension, all my friendships. And yes, I would absolutely rescue Kate, or any of you, my dear friends, from a jail anywhere in the world!

Friday, May 14, 2010

I don't want you to get all weirded out, but I think I may have experienced G-d's presence today. Call me nuts, but there I was, sitting with five women in my Genesis class and poof!!!

Well it wasn't exactly poof, let me explain.

We never got to read Genesis because we started on a deep conversation about souls, death, reincarnation, G-d, Judaism, etc, etc, etc...

Then Lisa, who is usually so quiet, began to speak about her experience as a family doctor. She told us how when she is caring for a very sick child, she often feels that G-d is there crying with her.

And then, out of nowhere, I saw her image in a doctors white jacket with a hazy, whitish aura about her body. Yes, that was it! That's what I saw. And for me, it was the first time I SAW "The Presence." Not a coincidence, not a soul connection, not a feeling, I just saw it!

I know it sounds weird, maybe phony, and yes, you might think it is just my imagination running wild. But it didn't seem like that. It seemed real, somehow, I saw a blanket of G-d's presence surrounding my friends image.

I cannot explain further. I will let this experience speak for itself.

PS. At services last night, Cantor Shana and I were discussing the events of our afternoon class.
The Cantor astutely pointed out that I might have seen an aura. I forgot that people see auras and I thought she might be on to something. It was as if Lisa was engulfed in a spirit, an aura.

This morning I spoke with my Yogi friend Pam who said that as you expand your consciousness, which I have with all my spiritual seeking endeavors, you are able to see other peoples energy and you can even see your own. But she didn't think it was an aura. She felt it was G-d's presence. Energy, Aura, G-d, call it what you will, it was an outstanding moment and a one of a kind 50th birthday gift!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

Mother's Day!

It is always nice to celebrate Mother's Day, and usually, we are together with my mom and mother-in-law and our extended families.

Unfortunately, this year my family will not be together.

I am in Rochester, NY with Austin at a golf tournament, my son John is at Deerfield, Reid and John will be home celebrating with my mother-in-law, and my own mother will be out with my brothers and their families.

Such is modern life. But, the wonderful news and cause for celebration is that I am a fifty year old mother who loves her children, and loves motherhood.

I have a new fb friend who is a grief counselor. Her post today gave me a new perspective on Mother's Day. While I have always been happy to be appreciated on Mother's Day, and I have always been glad to celebrate with my family, it is because of Lisa Green's post that today I am thinking of those who do not have their mother's with them and I am thinking of all the mothers who cannot be with their children.

I am so fortunate to be alive and well on this Mother's Day of my fiftieth year!!!!!


PS. I posted the above on Saturday night before Mother's Day. It ended up snowing in Rochester on Sunday morning, and so Austin and I made it home to celebrate Mother's Day with our family.

A big hug from Reid was a really terrific gift. A phone call from my son John made my day, and Austin overhearing a phone conversation I was having, stuck his head in the laundry room to tell me that I was a great mother, just a little too nervous about his life.

My husband made the day special and I received a few totally unexpected gifts. First, fb flowers which brightened my day, a message from my son's ex-girlfiend wishing me a happy day, and most significantly a text message wishing me Happy Mother's Day from a young friend who lost her mom several years ago. That was the best gift of all and one of my most precious birthday gifts to date!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sometimes something will happen in the news that just rocks your world.

There have been a few headlines that have rocked my world and the memory of which I cannot shake.

I still remember the young married man with child, who had a drug problem and, to get money, entered his father's upscale NYC apt. masked and with a loaded gun, only to have his father's girlfriend call 911. As he fled the scene, the son shot and killed a police officer and that was the end of two lives. The untimely death of a cop who was married with young children, and the masked gunman who is now spending his life behind bars. (I remember how the father of the killer set up a college fund for the police officer's children)

Or, how about the preppy killer. A life of luxury, growing up in Manhattan, prep school, etc. and then, one night out, too much booze and a beautiful young girl is found dead in Central Park with a bra strap around her neck. Two lives gone. The young, pretty smart teenage girl who had so much to live for and the preppy kid who wasted his life in prison.

There are many more terrible examples and the murder at University of Virginia this past Sunday night is one among them. I am truly distraught about the two lives lost. The very beautiful, and athletically talented young lady, Yeardly Love, who was visciously murdered by her ex-boyfriend. And her ex- boyfriend, who in a moment of intoxicated rage, lost life as he knew it.

So sad!