Monday, January 11, 2021

#MondayMotivation - Listen

Happy new week! We're going to start off with an assignment. This week, I want you to listen to someone whose political viewpoint differs from yours. To make this as doable as possible, I'm giving you two options:

1. Talk to a relative/friend/acquaintance who doesn't vote the way you vote. During the conversation, strive to listen more than you talk. Begin a few follow-up sentences with, "What I'm hearing you say is (whatever). Is that what you mean?" 

2. If you're not comfortable with a direct conversation at this point, then switch off CNN and watch Fox News for at least 15 minutes. If you typically watch Fox, listen to CNN. Read a different newspaper. As you do, focus on the words. Are opinions presented as facts? Do the reporters cite their sources? Are adjectives qualified or simply tossed out there? Words matter. 

I know not all of my blog readers live in the United States, but for my American pals: Politicians alone can't fix this. We all need to step up and do our part. 

Why not now? 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Musings: Five for Friday

As I toy with a return to regular blog posts, I'm considering several new features and -- TAH DAH! -- this is one of them, a quick look back at five lessons learned, fun things, whatevers, from the week. Let me know what you think! 

  1. I'm a lot like my toaster. If I'm not plugged into the right energy sources, I don't work. (My toaster won't allow me to push the toast down if it's not plugged into the wall. My brain won't allow me to create if I'm not rested, hydrated, and focused.)

  2. We can't take democracy for granted. Clark Kent used a phone booth to transform into Superman; we claim our superpower in the ballot box. Every vote matters. 

  3. Creative Mornings remains a creative godsend during this pandemic. If you've never attended one of their free FieldTrips via Zoom, you're missing out. (News Flash: I'll be leading another Creative Mornings FieldTrip soon. I'll keep you posted.)

  4. It's easier than you think to exercise. Pace around your home while on the phone, and you'll rack up a ton of steps. My sister Eva suggested this to me a while back, and it's been great -- especially since I spend a fair amount of time chatting, it's cold and grey in KC these days, and I don't like walking outdoors in snow and slush. 

  5. Virgin River on Netflix is the perfect escape. Gorgeous scenery. Beautiful -- but not too beautiful -- people. Solid story and acting. No mention of politics or the coronavirus. And did I mention the scenery? Ah, I did. Well, if I can't travel right now, I can at least enjoy this view. I can also plan a trip to Canada, where it's filmed. 
Happy weekend, peeps! Abi gezunt

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

#WednesdayWords - George Eliot

Did you know that George Eliot's real name was Mary Ann (or Marian, depending on source) Evans? Her pseudonym both concealed her gender -- a useful move in the 1800s -- and the fact that she was an unmarried woman, living with a married man. 

Basically, George was way ahead of her time. In many ways. She was not conventional in her choices or her appearance. According to a New Yorker article, "Henry James characterized her as 'magnificently ugly, deliciously hideous.'"

The same article refers to one man as someone who "declined to fall in love with her."

Isn't that a fascinating idea? The notion that you can "decline" to fall in love with someone? You could write a poem about that. But, I'm going to direct you down a different creative route. For today's creativity exercise, choose a pseudonym -- and make your selection with no regard to gender. 

Then, remember: It's not too late. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Creativity Tip: Seize the Seconds

I heard from a few of you in response to yesterday's post. Yes, you appreciate the enthusiasm and optimism. No, you are not in the mood to carpe diem, much less the whole dang year. 

As my father would have said: Fine. That's fine. Let's try something else. If you're not ready to seize the day, seize the seconds. Let's take, for example, those seconds when you're being a good pandemic person and washing your hands. Rather than singing the "Happy Birthday" song twice, focus on what you're feeling. Pay attention to the water temperature. Enjoy the suds. Give your brain 20 seconds of peace, simply by focusing on the matter, literally, at hand. 

Will you wash all your troubles down the drain? Nope. But you will have proven to yourself that you can carpe moments -- and moments turn into minutes. Minutes into hours. Hours into days. 

You see where I'm going. Work with me, people! Seize the possibility.

Monday, January 4, 2021

#MondayMotivation - Clean Slate!

Do you know what today is? It is THE FIRST MONDAY of the whole year! How cool is that? We've never had this Monday before and we'll never have it again. Only one first Monday of 2021. 

So go do something fun and/or cool and/or scary and/or new and/or relaxing today! Carpe diem, dear. Then carpe the whole dang year. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

#HappyNewYear - My Wish for You

To wrap up 2020 and send you marching bravely forward into 2021, it seems only reasonable to write about toilet paper. 

When Harry and Eva and I were kids, most of the annual family vacations were spent hauling our tent trailer around the country -- we had some great trips with Mom and Dad. On those travels, we typically parked the tent trailer at a KOA or state park. We packed toilet paper among our necessities; you couldn't count on a campsite having a decent supply in the outhouse. 

Yeah, it was fancy. 

As we got older, there were times when we could afford a nice hotel. I will forever remember Mom's thrill when she walked into one hotel room, inspected the bathroom, and squealed with delight -- the toilet paper had been folded into a point, welcoming us with style. 

Now, that was fancy. And, by extension, we were fancy. We were special. 

Harry and I live fairly close to each other -- Eva lives out of town. To this day, for any overnight visit, she and I still fold the toilet paper for each other. 

It only takes a moment.
But every moment matters.  

My Wish for You
In 2021, may you share your life with people who make you feel special. May you feel seen, heard, and supported. May you look forward with hope. May you look back with love. May you find new hobbies that bring you joy -- or reclaim old hobbies. May you set a goal, reach it, and celebrate. May you lose the right weight. May you stay safe and healthy. May you take small steps and applaud the progress. May you laugh often. May you breathe easy. 

May you accept that it's not all about you. May you realize that sometimes it is. May you know, wherever you go, that you are necessary and appreciated and loved. 

May you learn that starting and stopping are one and the same. May you never be afraid to stop. May you always be eager to start. 

Here's to old times and new years. Happy 2021, dear heart! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

B7, Go to Heaven

Two years. That's how long it's been. 

It was fairly early on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. I was sitting on the couch, sipping my morning coffee. I wasn't thinking about Mom -- I knew I'd see her in a couple of hours. I took her to the bingo game at Village Shalom, most every Sunday. 

Then the phone rang and life changed. Her life was over. 

In the two years since Mom died, I've missed her every day. I've also made approximately 104 Sunday dinners, written a book, made international presentations, gained new clients, joined a book club, reclaimed my yoga practice, laughed a lot, and discovered the joy of watercolors. 

Simply put, I've kept going. I've gotten up and put one foot in front of the other, even on days when grief felt stronger than gratitude. Even on days when staying in bed felt like the better option. Even on days when the pandemic and politics and life in general made me want to not only stay in bed, but pull the covers over my head and hide. 

That's what we do, peeps. We keep going. You know why?

Because, we can. Because along with those dreadful days, and sometimes in the midst of them, there's unexpected joy and welcome laughter. 

We keep going because we're here. Because every single day gives us a chance to do something that makes our lives -- or someone else's life -- a bit better. 

When Mom died, the hardest moment for me came after the Jewish whirlwind of death and almost immediate funeral. The hardest moment was after we cleared out Mom's room at Village Shalom, and I went back up there the next day -- by myself, by my own request -- to wait for the facility management team to move her furniture out to our waiting truck. 

The almost empty room was heartbreaking enough; Mom had filled that room the way she filled my life -- with laughter and love and songs and silliness. With joy. But the emptiness didn't break me. It was the sympathy card the Village Shalom staff had left on Mom's bureau. 

More than a dozen people, including staff members I didn't even know, signed that card, sharing their love for Mom in special remembrances like these:

"I am going to miss Lillian and the way she sang thru life. I feel lucky to have known her."

"I looked forward to seeing Lillian every day coming to work, because she always sang songs, made up poems constantly & told many cute stories. She spoke in the sweetest manner & was always so encouraging. She was the kindest senior person I've ever met &. knew how to cheer everyone up."

"I will definitely miss Lil's smile, laugh, poems and saying, 'Delicious and nutritious!'"

"She was one amazing woman. I loved visiting her and listening to her stories. She encouraged me to visit the Golden Gate."

"I will greatly miss her. She was a bright light to my days."

Mom was 97 years old when she died. Nearly blind. Hard of hearing. Her memory was scattered and her mobility was limited. She still managed to get up every day and make the world better. 

If Lillian can do it, we can do it. 

In keeping with Jewish tradition, I have a yahrzeit candle burning for Mom today. But her bright light shines year-round. I see it in my brother and sister. In my daughters. My best friend. My husband. I see it in readers, who discover Lillian in my book, and take her life lessons to heart -- the emails and reviews and notes I've received in the year since the book was published mean more than I can say. 

On that day, two years ago, Kansas City had a rare blizzard -- it took the funeral home hours to arrive at Village Shalom. Tom and the girls and I walked alongside the attendant, accompanying Mom's body to the waiting hearse. The route took us by the Social Hall, where the Sunday bingo game was in full swing. 

We had to laugh, because we could all hear it -- the rhyme Mom said at that bingo game every Sunday, often repeatedly. "B7 -- go to heaven!" 

Bingo! I love you, Mom.