Friday, December 31, 2010

As the Sun Sets on 2010

I am content.

I am peaceful.

I am loved.

I am free.

I am alone.

I am hurting.

I am safe.

I am wife.

I am daughter.

I am still sister.

I am mother.

I am still your mother.

I am aunt.

I am strong.

I am afraid.

I am plaintiff.

I am loyal.

I am friend.

I am defender.

I am rescuer.

I am Jewish.

I am happy.

I am a mess.

I am alive.

I am angel.

I am human.

I am blessed.

I am cursed.

I am angry.

I am forgiveness.

I am creative.

I am woman.

I am funny.

I. am. serious.

I am broken.

I am generous.

I am flawed.

I am compassionate.

I am driven.

I am breathing.

I am open.

I am honest.

I am grateful.

I am lost.

I am solitary.

I am friendly.

I am DNA.

I am water.

I am dust.

I am soul.

I am body.

I am willing.

I am kind.

I am here.

I am here.

I am here.

I am here.

I. am. here.

And I thank you for being here, in this moment, on this day, at this time, along with me.
And I would be honored if you might share with me, what are you?

Happy 2011.  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Let There be JOY

Angel Daughter Number One was born with the voice of an angel.  Whenever she sings, whether it be chanting in synagogue or joyfully singing Christmas carols for work, my heart takes flight.
It is times like these when I know that my heart has wings.
Last week, Mark, Angel Daughter Number Four and I, drove up to Los Angeles to hear AD1 and these three other very talented, beautiful kids Christmas Carol in the rain.  And although the weather was quite inclement, their voices were clear, melodic and bright.  When they pulled AD4 up to accompany them on the bells, everyone enjoyed the moment.  Thank goodness ALL of my daughters are musically inclined.  AD1 caught on immediately and shook those bells with a smile on her sweet face.  She is such a good sport!

May all of my wonderful friends who celebrate Christmas(and even those who do not) be filled with the joy of friends, family and abundant gratitude on this beautiful day.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Build an Ark

California is being inundated by a deluge of pounding rain.  And for the first time in many years, we are having an actual winter.  Never mind the fact that only a week ago, it was sunny and 80 degrees.  Right now it is cold and rainy and I think that I actually heard a voice, this morning, beckoning for me to build an ark.  Really.
So instead of heading down to the beach and hankering down there, I remain huddled up snugly in our main home reading, watching the last remaining moments of Oprah and wondering how many more days of thrown-together meals I can creatively prepare for Mark and myself.(One.  Possibly.  Nah.)  It is winter break for my three youngest Angel Daughters and aside from their popping in and out to sleep or change clothes or say "Hi Mom!", they are mostly like little ducks braving the inclement weather.  For them, the rain rolls right off, for me, it sticks and drenches and chills my bones right down to the very core.
Why is it that our water-repellent cloak seems to thin down over the years, leaving us more open and vulnerable to the elements?  What is it that we lose from fifteen to fifty that leaves us feeling more naked in the rain?
And yet, yesterday, when I stepped outside to gather the mail, I stopped and stood outside in my pajamas.  Rain pelting down sideways in sharp sheets without mercy.  Wind whisking wet leaves off of the trees.  Color upon grey upon color.  And I thought to myself, I need to capture this moment.  Need.
I ran inside to grab my camera which is always only an arms reach away.  Back outside in pajamas already saturated with rain, I began capturing time.  Click.  Click-click.  Click, click, click.    

And as the rain drenched my body, the color upon grey upon color also drenched my soul.  Instead of running past the rain with my once naturally-repellent, duck-like coating, I stood in the middle of a puddle in my pajamas(cheetah print!) soaking in the moment while absorbing what is.
And I realized that maybe it isn't so much about what we lose from fifteen to fifty, but what we gain that truly holds any water.(Okay, please forgive me that very obvious rain analogy.)  We might lose the ability to find every day so exciting that we run, unencumbered, from moment to moment ducking our heads underneath an umbrella, but we gain the true saturation of things.  The momentary drama of running from the house to the mailbox while catching the quick glimpse of color through the corner of our eye, only stopping to notice it.  Really notice it.  The ability to stand outside in cheetah-print pajamas, knowing all the while, that the neighbors will probably drive by at that exact moment, but not caring one bit.  The way that it feels so darn good to get back inside the warm safety of home and to feel blessed by the ability to prepare a simple meal with my husband of almost three decades.  Gain.  Gain.  Gain.  My Angel Daughters have so much to gain.  And yet, so do I.

Now, does anyone know how to build an ark?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gratitude For You

As the waves crash up against my life, I feel like I sent out some distress signals which were answered by so many compassionate and concerned friends.  And in the answers came strength, comfort and understanding.  There is a collective woman-soul(This includes certain men who are very comfortable with women.  You know who you are:)) which crosses over boundaries, differences and even the Internet.  There is a language spoken that whispers to us and helps us to fly past the obstacles and into a clearing of better understanding.  In so many ways, the individuals who I have met as a result of this blog, have ushered me into a space of clearer understanding.  We may all be on different paths during this lifetime, but so much of each other's story feels familiar.  We listen to one another.  We care for one another and we reach out when someone is wounded.
And as the waves crash in, I am so blessed to be pulled away from the undertow by kind souls like you.  Your words, like floating buoys of respite, cradle my tired spirit until I am able to swim my way back to gentler seas.  Thank you for allowing me to admit that even though there are some things that will never be, I can search for and find comfort in places I never even expected.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I need a momma.  Not the mother that I have.  Not the one who gave birth to me and brought me into this crazy, mixed-up world doped up on twilight drugs so that she wouldn't have to feel anything.  Not the one who has lived her entire life in a completely irresponsible way, banking on the idea that her responsible daughter and hard-working son-in-law would serve as her retirement plan.  Not the mother who has betrayed me time and time again, all the while knowing that my heart is far too loyal and much too tender for me to take off to a tropical island with no forwarding address.  Not the mother who calls me up, and without even taking a breath, marches directly into a diatribe about who did what to her this week, and then wonders why she knows so little about my health condition.  And most of the time, I am okay with needing a momma.  I really, really am.  I have a wonderful, loving husband.  I have a father who is not only my father but a man who I genuinely like.  A lot.  And of course, I have my miraculous angel daughters.  Four of them.  And soaking in their love is one of the greatest gifts of my life.  But after coming home from a doctor's appointment like the one I had today, feeling totally depleted, I just need a momma.  And there is nothing that can replace that lonely feeling of wanting to be able to just melt into a puddle of tears while having a mom there to listen.  And advise.  Or not.
I find ways to nurture myself that are safe and comforting.  I surround myself with cats and dogs and birds, all creatures who will love unconditionally if we allow them to.  I am sure that part of the reason that I had baby after baby after baby after baby was because of my inherent need to encircle myself within a cocoon spun with love and connection and security.  For me, just as much for them.  And it has worked, for the most part.  Except on the days when I need a momma.

So I look towards God, towards Mother Nature, towards the angels to guide me when I am sapped of energy.  I open myself up to the ocean, to the sun, and to the stars.  I remind myself that all of this, all that I have been blessed with, is truly enough.  Yet I cannot help but feel that empty place in my spirit which yearns for something that I will not have during this lifetime.  I mourn, not for the loss of, but for the lack of.  And then I send love out to all of the other momma-less daughters who come home from a doctor's appointment needing something that can never be.  And I thank God that the births of my own daughters were more than just twilight induced dreams after which someone just happened to hand me a baby.  A stranger in my arms.  How did you get here, little one?  I thank God for the sweat and the tears and the joy of being a momma.  And I thank God that my angel daughters will not be daughters who have to do without.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life in Color-San Francisco Part II

Most cities are, well, sort of grey and black and white.  Even the clothing that people tend to wear in the city is fairly monotone.  It is as if a bit of color would somehow disturb the landscape.  But China Town is a different story.  It exudes a vibrancy which is contagious.  It is full of color and texture and dimension, lots of dimension.  And there is food, lots and lots of food, which adds another wonderful sensory dimension to the already vibrant atmosphere.

And then there are the tchotchkes!  Knickknacks, baubles, trinkets, souvenirs.  So much junk it can make your head spin around like one of those bobble-head critters that some people display on the dashboards of their cars!  Some of it so cute that it makes you actually want to buy it!  And for $1.95, who can resist?

Angel Daughter Number Two finally made it up to the city on Tuesday which made her momma very, very happy.  Right now she is so busy with school and photography that she has very little time to do anything else.  But I am very proud of her.  She is working hard and achieving her dreams.  She is making a name for herself in the photography world and was recently featured in a magazine article about six up and coming artists.  At twenty, she was the youngest individual featured in the article by at least seven years.  So as much as I miss her and wish that I could spend more time with her, I honor her independence.  She is learning to fly.

Angel Daughter Number Three added her own special color to the streets of China Town by wearing her fuzzy kitty hat.

My Girls

As much as I adore the city(I was born and raised in New York city), the sights, the smells, the architecture and even the tchotchkes, it leaves me longing for the place that my spirit feels most at home. For someone who was once a "city girl", I am now much more at home in nature.  I long for the ocean, the mountains, anyplace where I feel as if I can breathe, truly breathe.  And as far as the tchotchkes go, any ephemera, sea glass, unusual stones, dried seaweed branches, shells, anything that I can collect while walking peacefully along a quiet beach, that is enough for me.  Those are my treasures.  Those are the reminders of where my soul mostly longs to be.  Those are the talismans which lead me back to home.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Between Here and There

Our family decided to spend the week of Thanksgiving in San Francisco this year.  This was a break from tradition for us but I find it becoming harder and harder to arrange schedules so that we can all be together for more than just a few hours, lately.  I decided that if I whisked everyone away to another city, the odds would be greater.  As it was, Angel Daughter Number Two flew up separately on Wednesday and Angel Daughter Number Three had to leave before us on Friday morning to get back to her job on Black Friday.  But it all worked out and we got to enjoy some precious time together as our little family of six.  I am beginning to feel it.  The it that happens when our children get older and start having schedules of their own, plans of their own, lives of their own.  And although I understand that this break is a natural part of my job description, I do not know how to do it without resisting.  I feel pangs of sadness albeit combined with the joy of knowing that my children are becoming what they were always meant to be.  Adults, in spite of my needing them to always be my children.  But I am realizing that we take turns, our children and us, balancing back and forth between who needs who more at any given moment, and right now, I suppose it is my turn to yearn.

At twenty-three years old, Angel Daughter Number One is a very good sport about being whisked away.  Maybe it is because she has been out of our home for the longest that she understands why being together is so important.                                               
And although I know how she tires of posing for photos for me, she still gives in after a bit of balking and eye-rolling.  I think that secretly, she really likes my insistence on recording her history.  However, if I am wrong, I do know that someday she will realize that I was right and she will appreciate having all of the wonderful(yet sometimes annoying) pictures to look back on.  They all will.
Angel Number Three has become either used to, or very good at, ignoring the camera.
Angel Daughter Number Four was thrilled to discover that the airport gift shop was selling Mexican Jumping Beans.  For anyone who has never had the pleasure of owning these little pet pods, they are hard seeds which contain little bugs that live inside of them.  When they move around, the little beans jump.  Hence the name, Mexican Jumping Beans!
The flight to San Francisco was lovely.  Viewing my Pacific ocean through the clouds from above made me appreciate its vast beauty even more.  There is something magical about flying.  I went through a period of being afraid to fly after a particularly turbulent trip into Washington, D.C. about twenty years ago.  AD1 was only about two years old, and I was very pregnant with AD2.  We hit some clear-weather turbulence and the airplane, itself, became a Mexican Jumping Bean!  I'm not sure if it was because I was pregnant and very hormonal, or if it was because I felt like a momma bear needing to protect her young, or because I felt completely out of control that I developed a fear of flying that lasted about ten years after that.  But I had an epiphany that went something like this.  Was my fear, or lack of it, going to prevent any airplane from crashing to the ground in any way?  Was I foolish enough to believe that if I let go of my fear that somehow I could cause an airplane to go down?  And finally, did I trust God?  The most important answer was to that last question.  Gradually, my fear subsided, and although I always recite The Shema(an affirmation of my Judaism and a declaration as to my faith in God) upon take-off and landing, I actually enjoy flying again.  It is a space between here and there.  A time to read, think and daydream.
And a time to observe life from a very different vantage point.  How often do we get to see the moon in between the day and the night?  This photo was taken during dusk of the November Full Moon.  A space between here and there...
Our hotel in San Francisco had a jar of fortune cookies sitting in the lobby.  Each time that Mark, the girls and I would enter, we would take a cookie and read our fortunes.
AD4 and AD2 walking the streets of San Francisco.

Angel Daughter Number One discovered a Christmas tree that was being adorned for the season.  Another symbol of here and there.

The architecture in the city can be fascinating.  So many beautiful, historic buildings.

Angel Daughter Number Three discovered these gorgeous cupcakes in the case of a little French bakery.

They appeared to be almost fake with their pearlized, puffed meringue tops.

We found a little indoor market filled with the most beautiful foods.  I happen to love cheese, so this display was like a work of art to me!
AD3, AD1, AD4, and me in front of The Bay Bridge.  AD2 had not yet arrived.

I will end today's post with a photo of my beloved husband and myself.  I have so much more to share from our trip to San Francisco, but I will do so in another post.  I feel as if I am at a place between here and there.  Between being a full-time momma and being an empty-nester.  Between youth and old age.  Between here and there.  So it is important to remind myself that there is still sweetness in the middle.  It's kind of like an Oreo cookie!  And right now, my life is the sweet, cream filling that sits between the delicious chocolate wafers.  It's all good.

San Francisco post #2, coming soon!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Will Always be

I have not written very much about my wonderful Angel Daughters lately, for several reasons, but the main one is this.  They are growing up.  Yes, I must finally admit that my children are no longer closer to being children than they are to being young adults.  And with their growth comes independence, busy schedules and a life which does not always include their momma.  They, are on the right path, but I, am quickly being "outgrown" of my job position.  The only job position that ever truly beckoned to me from the inner-most depths of my soul.  The only thing I ever knew with all of my being, that I wanted to be.  Truthfully, I am seeing my daughters grow at a rate which is only equivalent to the baby/toddler years when the changes were exponential and I found myself missing the baby or little person who once was only a few months or so before.  So I accept what is.  And although I am extremely grateful to know that my Angel Daughters are creating lives built upon what Mark and I have poured into them, my soon-to-be empty nest often leaves me searching for other things to feather.  A new flight pattern to create.  Something.  But while I do so, I also get to savour the definite glimpses of the incredible children who are now a part of these unique, lovely, radiant young women while being able to more clearly envision who they will still someday become.  There are very few other jobs in the world that can claim that as part of the job description.

These photos of Angel Daughter Number One were taken by Angel Daughter Number Two.  AD1 is now 23 years old.  She is a gorgeous, bright, big-hearted, hard-working young woman who is following the path of her own soul.  She is an actor who now has an agent.  She knows what the steps towards her dreams are, and she is climbing them, one by one, day by day.

How did she learn to create these beautiful bubbles while not allowing a very difficult industry to burst hers?  By doing Bubble shows for assemblies, parties and her latest gig, modeling for her younger sister.

As I watch her float on the wings of her own hard work and dedication, I am happy.  Which leads me to Angel Daughter Number Two, the taker of those beautiful photos:

AD2 is a self-starter who knows how to get things done.  She is both a photographer and a student of photography at college.  At almost 21 years old, she is being recognized in an industry that can take years to become known in.  She has an innate ability to market herself and her work in a way that shows maturity beyond her years.  And yet, she truly does still have so much to learn.  The most difficult thing is keeping her tethered securely enough, to save her from flying out of control.  Too much, too soon.  Yet her capability to make magic with the click of a camera can be awe-inspiring.  And as I observe her becoming the woman who she will someday be, I am proud.

Which now leads me to Angel Daughter Number Three:

My 18 year old.  AD3(or Alice in Wonderland), began her life as a college freshman this past August.  She goes to school and holds down two jobs, one at a jewelry store and another at J. Crew.  She is funny, very smart, charming and loyal.  And she is content.  She is not yet sure what she would like to major in or what she wants to do in the future, but she is open and willing to try things out.  And isn't that what being a young adult should be all about?  Figuring out the who, what, where and whys of life? Watching her put the pieces together without feeling the pressure of having to have all of the answers right now,  makes me smile.  As her momma, I have witnessed a newfound maturity in her over the course of the past year.  And for this, I too, am content.

Which naturally brings me to our youngest.  Angel Daughter Number Four:

Angel Daughter Number Four is a culmination of everyone in our family.  She is joy exemplified.  At 16, she is wise beyond her years.  She is free-spirited, creative and confident in a way that most 30 years olds are not.  AD4 is our beautiful dancer.  She expresses herself through movement.  And when I watch her dance, my heart dances with her.

Being a mother is the hardest, most fulfilling, sometimes frustrating, but always worth it, job that there is.  As I witness my daughters growing into young women, I pray that they will always know how much they are loved, how incredible they are, and how proud of them that I am.  Being a mom means knowing when to grasp hold and learning when to let go.  It means loving until your heart might burst.  It means setting free. It also means that no matter what else I become in my life, that I will always be the momma of these four special angels and for me, that will always be enough.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Just Wild About Harry and Harry's Wild About Me!

I ventured down to our neighborhood bookstore this afternoon, but I must divulge a secret.  It was not only reading that I had on my mind. While I absolutely love to read and I devour several books a month, I have an ulterior motive when I go into The Village Bookstore in San Clemente.  Yes, they have a wonderful assortment of books both new and used to peruse and yes, it is such a lovely treat to be able to shop in a real bookstore with dogeared classics and crisp new releases containing uncracked bindings.  But the real, real reason that I nonchalantly pop into this particular book shop is...Harry.  Harry is a giant puff of fur and attitude who can often be found sunning himself in the shop window.  On days when Harry is not immediately in sight, I browse through the stacks of impressive titles keeping my eye casually out for two things.  A fabulous read, and  Harry.  Today, I happily found both.

Here was Harry's reaction to my enthusiastic squeal of delight.

It began with this:

Morphed into this:

Segued into this:

And finally, in true cat-titude form, concluded with this: 
Don't you just love it when someone is genuinely excited to see you?  Me too!

I spent several moments visiting with Harry.  We had a lovely chat.  He recommended a couple of good books, struck another handsome pose and strutted away into the bookshelves.

And that is why I am wild about Harry.

I just finished reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen which turned out to be a really good book and I am in need of another good story to whisk me away into other worlds, other lives, other perspectives.  I purchased Beloved by Toni Morrison and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton with no particular reason other than they both caught my eye and Harry thought I might find them interesting.  I chatted with the book shop's owner for several minutes about how difficult it is to raise children right now and how I think that today's generation of young people is growing up at a more difficult time than past generations.  She agreed.

I then made my way home to my kitties and dogs and Angel Daughters(well, only one today) and husband and put dinner in the oven.  And I thought about how nice it is to have a neighborhood bookstore that has a persnickety cat who is not at all embarrassed to show his true feelings and an owner who enjoys chatting for a bit.

Do you have a neighborhood shop that makes you happy?  How about books?  Are your reading anything interesting right now?  And about this generation of kids...Do you think it might be harder for them than it was for us?

And welcome to all of my new readers!  Please leave me a comment and let me know that you stopped by!  I appreciate all of my readers very much and love to hear from you.
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