Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Creativity Tips: Make it a Whale of a Tale

If you're going to do something creative, don't hold back. Shake your tail feathers and go for the gusto.

December 9 marks 100 years since the birth of Issur Danielovich, better known as Kirk Douglas. He is one of the few people I've ever written a fan letter to -- I wanted to thank him for his performance in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Specifically, I thanked him for shaking his tail feathers as he sang "A Whale of a Tale." That little wiggle kept me going on days when the girls were little and wanted to watch Disney Sing-A-Long videos. Over and over again. Some of those songs got a bit tiresome after the first two dozen plays.

But watching Kirk Douglas? That never gets old. I mean, seriously: That's one fine-looking man. And one very cute tush.

Happy 100!

P.S. No, he didn't respond. Maybe I shouldn't have been quite so specific in my praise.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Food is Love: Unsalted Baking Co.

@unsaltedbakingco on Instagram
I haven't done a "Food is Love" post for a while. But this is the perfect time to share good news and good food. I'm delighted to announce that Mary and her friend Tyler have officially launched Unsalted Baking Company, LLC

Consider the pic above a nosh -- a little sampling. It doesn't even include a photo of their world-famous chocolate chip cookies. 

Now, being the supportive mother that I am, I have FORCED MYSELF to sample all the goodies. You know, just to make sure they're acceptable. They are acceptable. (Ohmilord. The strawberry cupcakes may be my new favorite food group. Because I can eat a group of them. And the peanut butter cake is scrumptious. Ditto the chocolate pie. Well, ditto for all of it.)

Unsalted Baking Co. is now taking orders for your holiday parties, special events, or day-to-day cravings. Enjoy! Oh -- and when you check out their Instagram feed, you'll discover that their copy is as beautiful as the photos. Makes my heart happy. 

You know you want some. Send an email
P.S. I'm thankful for the good sense to know that I need to step away from politics for a few days and give my heart and soul a rest. I'll be back on social media, checking news, planning the revolution, etc., on Monday. 

P.P.S. As always, I'm thankful for you! I hope your holidays are filled with happiness and love. Save yourself a corner of time to be creative. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Fun: Breathe

Wowzer. What a week, right? And next week -- Thanksgiving, and all the fun and family and associated stress that goes with the holidays.

So, to recover from the past week and prepare for good times ahead, here's what I want you to do: Breathe. Really, truly breathe.

Naturally, I don't expect you to do something as complex as breathing all by yourself. Hello. This is one of those areas where we all need help. And it's here! Check out this instruction sheet from The New York Times. (I subscribe, but I think everyone can see a few articles every month.) If you don't have time to read, or breathe, skip down to the bottom of the article for the step-by-step info.

Here's to a peaceful weekend, my friends.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What You Gonna Do?

Let me take you away from the election analysis and the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it predictions. Let me take you back to 1982, when Richard Pryor was on Sunset Strip, talking about his drug problems and his good friend, Jim Brown.

Jim Brown was not someone to mess with, as Pryor relates in this classic clip. Watch it, if you don't mind a little vulgarity. (Hell, if Tuesday taught us anything, it's that we don't mind vulgarity. At least with Pryor, it's amusing.)

The clip's unforgettable line is: What you gonna do? Brown followed Pryor around relentlessly, ignoring the in-your-face drug use, and asking one simple, direct question: What you gonna do, Richard? What you gonna do?

It's the perfect question for today. What you gonna do? And I don't mean What we gonna do? I mean you. This is the time for personal response and individual action. If you don't like the election results, step up. Do something.

What am I gonna do? I'm gonna be the Jewish momma and give you a push in a positive direction:

  1. Don't despair. Don't wallow in the sorrow and fear. As I posted on Facebook, Wednesday was the time to grieve, to reassure our children, to console each other. To be angry. And understandably afraid. Today is the time to act. 
  2. Look at the popular vote. Look at the millennial vote. Realize that there are MILLIONS of people who didn't choose anger and hate. There are millions of people who don't look at women and Jews and and blacks and Muslims and gays and Hispanics and disabled people and see an "Other" to be feared or despised or abused or grabbed or shunned. 
  3. Find those good people. They are in your community. They are all around us. 
  4. Work with them. Take decisive, constructive steps to safeguard what you value. If you appreciate a woman's right to make choices about her healthcare, send money to Planned Parenthood, or volunteer. If you're concerned about climate change (yes, it's real), find an organization that's working on it and join them -- here's a list to get you started. 
  5. Work by yourself. Do what you can -- as one caring, engaged, concerned citizen -- to protect the ideals that truly make America great. Visit a church or mosque or synagogue. Talk to people who aren't your race or your religion or your whatever. Get off the couch, turn off your electronic devices, and engage in our beautifully diverse universe. 
  6. Get political. Run for office or volunteer for a campaign, party or issue. If memory serves, all the U.S. House of Representative seats and a few Senate seats are up for grabs in 2018. That's just two years from now. We don't have to wait for the next presidential election to create meaningful change. 
  7. Speak out. When people are being racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever, don't be silent. Don't let them get away with it -- don't shrug it off as a joke, or just one person's opinion. Prejudice and hatred are wrong, and silence is acceptance. You have a voice beyond your vote. Use it. 

As a pro football player, Jim Brown knew how to cut to the chase. His question to Richard Pryor wasn't complicated. It wasn't eloquent. It was perfect. I'm not a pro football player, but I am every bit as relentless. So I'm going to ask you one more time: What you gonna do? 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Are You Warm Enough?

Last Thursday night, Mom fell -- a common occurrence these days -- but this time she broke her wrist. The ambulance took her to St. Luke's South hospital, I met her at ER, and we spent a few hours with a truly wonderful healthcare team. A few X-rays and sedatives later, her wrist was set and they helped me settle her in the car for the quick drive back to Village Shalom.

By this time, it was around midnight and the temperature had dropped to about 45 degrees. It was chilly, and mom was just wearing her nightie. We tucked a blanket around her legs. And, as luck would have it, I had one of her jackets in the car, so I put that around her shoulders.

Now, keep this in mind: Mom is 95, in pain, confused and cold. And you know what she asked as I drove her home?

"Are you warm enough, Janet?"

One of the keys to living a long and happy life is caring about others. Even with her skittish memory, Mom never forgets to ask about me and my family and to wish us well. She never forgets that other people matter. And that extends to people she doesn't know: At the hospital, Mom repeatedly expressed her gratitude to the doctor and nurses and X-ray technicians -- and asked questions about them.

I told her, as we drove, that she had been an excellent patient.

"I try to be as good as I can, Janet. That's just how I was raised."

Lillian Sokoloff raises the bar daily for what it means to be a good person. Her concern for me, our family, the people around us? Well, that's enough to comfort me, no matter how cold this world might seem.

It's a new week, folks. Stay warm.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Creativity Tips: Take a Chance!

Over the years, I've written LOTS of poems. I rarely submit any of them for publication. But, I recently sent a prayer/poem to the Union for Reform Judaism, and they published it yesterday! Very exciting. I hope you like it

I also hope you take a chance and put your own creative work out into the world. It doesn't have to be a poem. Frame a doodle. Hang it up. See what happens!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Fun: Emily McDowell Studio

You know how I feel about finding the perfect words. So, it will come as no surprise that I was delighted to find Emily McDowell Studio -- with empathy cards like this:

Given the current political environment, I'm also liking this magnet:

There are a zillion other cool, creative things on her site. Check it out. And, FYI, this is not a paid advertisement. Emily McDowell did not approve this message. (But let's get real. I think she'd like it.)