Thursday, December 11, 2008

THANKS ...

In the somewhat belated spirit of Thanksgiving – a brief update.

On August 22nd, we set off for Toronto. My father in law’s unveiling took place on the 24th. In his last days, he expressed how much he would have loved his entire family to be together in one place. Although charged with a lot of emotion, we were all happy that we were in fact all getting together to honor his memory. All DDTF’s siblings, their spouses and the grandchildren were gathering for the first time in close to ten years.

Later that evening, it became necessary for me to be rushed into the ER. Without any warning or any previous problems of this nature I found myself dealing with three nasty kidney stones. I had no clue what a challenging ordeal was about to unfold for me and now, almost four months later I am starting to regain some semblance of my life back pre-the-stone-age. This has been one of the most awful experiences I have ever had to endure.

There are no words to adequately express my thanks to DDTF … my amazing husband, Ross … my amazing son. They got me through this as they do everything else. I thank you both and I love you both.


(When you have had enough of the music, look to the top left of the slide show, and click on the sound icon – that will mute the music.)
Thank you to my sister in law, Vicki for the great pics! To see more awesome pics of the family, click here.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

NEW ...

DDTF, Ross and I sat and watched the election results on TV last night. It was an evening filled with mixed emotions for me. I haven’t been able to vote for the last fifteen years and the reminder of my immigrant status somehow made me feel sad. It also made me realize the enormity of the decisions we have made over the last fifteen years and the consequences of the choices to support those decisions.

I felt really fortunate to be able to say that in my lifetime I have seen Nelson Mandela become the president of South Africa and now, Barack Obama the president elect of the United States of America. I sent my sister a text message saying, “Aren’t we lucky to see Madiba and Obama in our lifetime. Daddy and Willie must be loving this!”
(Both my father and brother are deceased.)

In the seven years that we have been living here the last year has been intense. Things have felt so out of control that it has totally scared me at times. Clearly things need to change enormously.

By the time the next elections come around, I will be able to vote. I hope that the choices will be as obvious then as they were yesterday and that the difference will be that it will be based on a track record.



“If your actions inspire others to dream more,
learn more, do more and become more,
you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams


This is my Great Nephew, Noah. He was born on 09/22/2008.

If you look closely, you will see his 'I Voted' sticker.



Thursday, September 04, 2008

15 ...



Fifteen years ago when DDTF and I took our vows he was not a fire fighter. But he was hot!

Fifteen years later, he is a fire fighter - and even hotter. Same tune - different words:

"Baby, you still light my fire!"

We are one flame he will never put out.

DDTF knows exactly how much I love, respect and admire him.

There are no words to adequately describe what a joy it is to be married to this man.

I thank G-d every day for him.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

LIGHT ...

While the last two months have gone by in what feels like an instant, I also can’t believe just how much has happened in this short space of time. Life continues to come at me at nothing short of a full-throttle pace. At the moment I am struggling to find clarity on how/where/what to post to breathe life back into my blog. This indecision has kept me silent but I feel I must acknowledge that today is our 7th year anniversary in the U.S. of A. We have now lived in America for as long as we lived in the U.K. and it is the longest time we have been at one address in 15 years.

There’s much to write about that has taken place this summer, and in some respects, I feel like I am a year behind in keeping up to date with sharing my life on this page. For now, given the somber nature of recent events – if not the last two years – I am going to make my “comeback” all about “light” things. Simple things that have given me pleasure and that have felt like a treat. In spite of my lack of blogging recently, it is still one of my favorite things to do. I did recently breathe some life in here.

I never read movie reviews but I do like it when people recommend movies to me. My brother in law told me that I should make a point of seeing DAN IN REAL LIFE. For those people who loved LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, you will know what I mean when I say this is a huge, little movie. I love movies that you cry from because they make you feel your own sadness and then they slowly shift you into crying because you realize you are feeling happy. That’s what this movie did for me, and more.

While on the subject of Dan, my DDTF made this delicious tuna starter. If anyone wants the recipe, just let me know. When DDTF puts one of these creations down in front of me, it reminds me of one of the many things that make my love for this man grow more each day. I love how he loves everything he does and when he has to do things he doesn’t want to, he puts love behind that as well believing it just makes it easier to get through. This meal had a whole lot of love in it.


For a light, fun and amusing read, CAN’T WAIT TO GET TO HEAVEN is a treat. I listened to the audio CD. Ross used to ask me to wait until he was in the car before I carried on with it. It’s one of those sweet stories that remind you about how things are never what they appear to be on the surface and that ultimately we all respond favorably to kindness and consideration. The characters are cute and each visit with the book was uplifting.

Although there is usually not much on the box during the summer, there have been some great shows that have captured my attention. SORDID LIVES is off the charts insane. I love it. I laugh from beginning to end of each episode but also see the stark reality that lies beneath the surface of each of these colorful characters. I come to the end of each episode. Check it out if you enjoy something a little bit different.

My most favorite thing is when I get a response from the universe that I can immediately recognize and understand. I am a seeker. I question, I want to learn. I need to know why I am here, what I am meant to be doing. In everything I do, I look for the lesson. I know how to find the blessings in everything, I have mastered that. But I need to know the lesson. At times I wish I didn’t. At times I feel like this way is more a burden than a blessing. When I am in that kind of place, the universe invariably presents me with something that makes me feel reassured about my choice to live as an accountable being. It is usually a simple answer which I complicate with doubt, insecurities and perhaps even a lack of faith and trust in myself. Having come through a very difficult and challenging experience this past week (more on this in the next post) I lapsed into a bit of a pity party last night. It was a very private party. Just before going to bed I heard a song. When you listen to it you might think it is indulgent of me because it smacks of singing my own praises. It is not in this context that I share it. I have had thoughts in my head this week along the lines of wishing for something to remind me that everything is really ok, that I am going to be ok and that sometimes things just happen. I have been questioning myself for a while now about what might be causing the reality of my life to be so different to what is in my head and heart in terms of the life I create. I have been trying to see where I might perhaps be lacking authenticity because I have such a lack of understanding at the moment about why things just don’t seem to be going right for me. When I heard this song, I felt peaceful and got conscious of the thoughts and emotions it evoked in me. It ended and I felt ok. I felt that it is my expectations that are making things feel wrong. I felt as much as my reality feels so far removed from how I want things to be, there is still balance in my life. I remembered that while I might not get the understanding of it all right now, in time I will gain a deeper insight into what has been going on. I allowed myself to be with the thought that things happen, and I was comfortable to leave it at that. I remembered that through difficult times, I need to turn to my faith and not question it. It’s a beautiful song; you can listen to it here.

Thank you for being back here to continue reading my blog. My internet community means the world to me and I am for ever grateful that you never give up on coming back to see what I have to share with you. To my American bloggers, I hope you have had a great summer – good luck for school and college and have a happy Labor Day.
Always the person who saves the best for last, check out some photo’s of the two greatest sources of everything I could ever wish for ... here.

Monday, June 30, 2008

SMOOTH ...

This morning I went to the Dunkin Donuts drive-through. I ordered a large latte and a blueberry muffin. When I got home, I sat down at my kitchen table, sipped my latte, took a piece of my muffin and said, “Dee, this one’s for you, my friend!”

(A)Denise passed away
in the early hours of June 29th, 2008.

I will miss getting a text message reading, ”Got time for a DD visit?” Such messages used to come to me on days when (A)Denise wasn’t working. It was a play on words. We both called each other, Dee. So it was asking if I had time for a Denise/Dawn visit, but it was also code for DUNKIN DONUTS. I would always reply, “Yes!” and within 30 minutes, (A)Denise and I would be sitting at my kitchen table enjoying each others’ company a latte, and a blueberry muffin.

I will miss those songs she made up as her answering message on her voice mail. I would get other friends to call, listen to them and we would all laugh at the absurdity of it all.

As I said in my previous post, the sadness will lift but even now, the memories of the friendship are joyous and I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to have shared the time and space that we did.

In an email from (A)Denise to me at 9.47pm on May 1st, 2008:
Well guess I'm not going off to sleep as early as I'd hoped, but in the meantime, I forgot to mention in my previous e-mail to you that my skin is looking smooooooooooooth and radiant as a result of consistently using our wonderful Dead Sea beauty products. Thank you so much again for buying them. Maybe we should call ourselves the Smoothy Sisters now that we have smoooooooother looking skin.
Love and good nite kisses
Dee


In much the same way as we always said goodbye when the lattes and muffins were finished,



“Cheers, Dee – see you later!”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

FRIENDSHIP ...

Four weeks ago, a very dear friend of mine who lives around the corner from me was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My friend's name is (American) Denise. I make the distinction because of my lifelong friend Denise in South Africa.

(A)D is in her early 50's. She and husband, Bob have a son, Brian of 20 years old and a daughter, Jessica who very recently turned 13. About a year ago Denise was retrenched. She went on to do short and long term temp jobs and her husband continued working at his two jobs. Despite their best efforts, they fell victim to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and lost their home to foreclosure. Sometimes life has a way of coming at you from all sides and the process of having to leave their house and (A)D taking this ill have now coincided.

This weekend (A)D was taken into the hospital and the situation is such that it is not clear if she has hours or days remaining.

For the last few weeks I have been driving Ross to school and then coming back to our neighborhood to drive Jess to her school. While waiting for her to come out of the house one morning, I noticed how the sun was reflecting in the water drops as they tricked down the house as it had just rained. It created the impression of fairy lights. With everything in full bloom in the gardens and the lush green trees, this whole image created for a picture-perfect setting. I couldn’t help but burst into tears as I thought how harshly different the reality of this household actually is. It all looked so perfect on the surface yet what is going on underneath it is nothing short of horrible.

This morning as I drove back toward the house I was overwhelmed by the sadness of this impending loss in my life. I am going to miss (A)D so much. I am heartbroken that her kids will not have their Mom in their life and right now, knowing she will be with them in spirit just doesn’t provide me with much comfort. I know well enough that time will pass and the sadness subsides and then I will shift into the place of memories that will bring joy to my heart and a smile to my face.

In an email I was writing to my friend, Natacha after getting home from the school run I told her how I was distracted with thoughts of (A)D all the time. I went on to say how thinking about this has put me in touch with how much I value, love, appreciate and cherish all my friends. I told her I was in a real tree hugging mood and that I wanted to hug all my friends and tell them how much I love them.

Although I had planned on returning to my blog after this three month absence with a lighter subject, I decided that I wanted to reach out to all my friends and doing so here in honor of (A)D was a perfect way.

We throw these concepts around in our conversations every day, but today I say this with a heightened sensitivity and a deep feeling of connectedness to it – thank you for your friendship. Thank you for the emails and the messages on my blog extending good wishes and thoughts to me. I so appreciate the emails of a more intimate nature that have expressed deep concern for my health and wellbeing while I haven’t been blogging recently.


In honor of my friend (American)Denise I make this request –
At some time today,
down tools – take a deep breath – count your blessings and exhale.
Acknowledge yourself for being a vibrant, loving and much valued being
that makes a significant difference in the world every moment, of every day.
Erase every negative thought you might have had about yourself today
and connect with your magnificence and total perfection.
Take another moment to contemplate your wellness and good health.
Let that bring a smile to your face.

More from me soon.

~ ROSS & JESS - APPROX. THREE YEARS AGO ~

~ ME AND DENISE ALSO TAKEN APPROX. THREE YEARS AGO ~

Monday, March 10, 2008

SANDWICHED ...

In September last year, my mother underwent major surgery to have a malignant tumor removed from her stomach. The surgeon also saw fit to remove her Gall Bladder. My sister and brother in law took my Mom into the hospital the day of her surgery. I went by her apartment building to give her a kiss and hug and wish her good luck before she got into my sister’s car.

My mom will be 85 in July. The person I saw get into my sister’s car was an amazing old lady. She lives alone and as she did in her younger years, still keeps an impeccable home. The vision I had for this stage of my Mom’s life was that she would be one of those amazing women who lived to a ripe old age, self sufficient, self reliant and totally independent.

Just a few months before her surgery, I was driving to her place to go and get her to come spend the afternoon at my house. On the way there I thought to myself that we are so lucky to have a mom who at this age we can still pick up the phone to, tell her we are on the way, and pull up at her building to find her waiting downstairs for us. She lives in a seniors building so there are a considerable number of people with walkers, canes, wheel chairs, etc. I recall so clearly pulling up and seeing my tiny – she is really short – little Mommy, always perfectly turned out, and always greeting me with the joy of seeing me reflected in her smile.

Five days after her surgery, we brought her home to recuperate at my house. To make a long story shorter, I had not anticipated the change this experience was going to create in my Mom’s life. The person that I hugged and kissed goodbye at the car is no longer here. In the space of seven months, my mother has become an old lady. She spends all her time in bed and we have just recently placed a full time care giver to live with her. While she did well in not having to undergo any chemo or radiation therapy, this whole experience, and perhaps the effects of the anesthetic and morphine she was on for five days, basically knocked the life out of her.

Needless to say, all our lives changed drastically without any warning or time to prepare for it. My mom went from being totally independent to totally needy, in a time frame that felt like overnight. She herself is struggling with the harsh reality of her life now because she is an extremely proud woman. She is feeling disgusted in herself, hates the fact that she needs the help we are trying to give her, and her resistance of the whole situation makes it so much harder to deal with than it needs to be.

There have been days where I have just sat and cried. I feel bad and sad for her, I feel sad for myself. My mom has always been my rock. She is the kind of person for whom giving up was never an option. She has always dealt with whatever life has thrown at her and come out on top of every situation. There are some mornings when I can hear in her voice that she is actually quite pissed off that she woke up. Today she is again going for a scan as a new situation has arisen and there is now cause for concern with regard to her liver. I don’t know what these tests will reveal and I refuse to dwell in the possibility of the worst case scenario. Until we know, we don’t know.

I have found myself dwelling on topics that I don’t have answers to. I have found myself angry on some days because her exhaustion with it all has made it look like she is giving up. Selfishly, it feels like she is giving up on me and I don’t know how to deal with it. While I am indeed loved by many, there is no greater love for me than that of my mother’s and it is because of this fact that I find it so hard to think of her giving up on any level. I went through a few weeks of being really angry at her. I hated myself for it. I took out one of my favorite photos of her from when she was in second grade and I placed it on my desk.




I did this to remind myself that although she is my mother, she’d had a mother too. My mother at one time had received a mother’s love the same way that she loves me as her child. It was a reminder to me that my grandmother is looking down on this and I have a responsibility to her, to take care of my mother, her child, the way she would have done. This had a very grounding effect on me and it got me through that anger.

This experience has shown me how absolutely essential it is to make preparations for these years of our lives. When we are old, when we might be sick and when we will need complete and total unconditional love and support from our children. It has shown me how we have a responsibility to our children to make financial arrangements for when we are old. We need to make sure there are plans in place that will see us through the years in our lives when we can no longer take care of ourselves the way we used to. I have also seen that these years come way quicker than we ever might have imagined.

I visited my mom yesterday and when I left, I realized that I was feeling so much better than I have in the last seven months. The lady taking care of her is a gem. People who do this kind of work are angels among us. I asked my mom if she was perhaps feeling better for having the help. I know what a struggle it is for her to admit to this, in spite of how much better things might be for her. Her nature dictates that needing help is a sign of weakness. To my relief and joy, she said to me that now she had tried it, she does see it is better for her. I felt a load lift off my shoulders and a weight off my heart.

My sister sent me this video clip and my niece then sourced this second clip which is a follow up to the first. I strongly urge you to watch these. There are so many people who find themselves in similar situations to that which I have just shared with you about my own family, and what you will see in these clips. I know I found comfort in them, and I expect you will too.

I always look for the blessings in all difficult situations in my life. I really do believe they are there to be had if you are willing to look for them. In this instance, I hope that my mother realizes that the sense of responsibility my sister and I feel towards her is a manifestation of the amazing values she taught us and that it is part of her legacy to enjoy while she is still here. Furthermore, if we best teach our children by example, I know what we are doing is the right thing.


JULY 2007 ~ Celebrating Mom's 84th and Ross' 11th birthday.









PAULINE ~ Circa 1929 ~ Jewish Government School ~ Johannesburg, South Africa


















Friday, February 01, 2008

WEEKEND ...

It was DDTF's birthday yesterday. That means, SUPER BOWL party on Sunday.

We are heading off for a little adventure today which I will share with you next week.

I just had to stop and honor my husband, our favorite DDTF and remind him how much he is loved, adored and appreciated.

No mistaking who this household supports - be they in the game or not.









Wednesday, January 23, 2008

UPSET ...

While driving home from taking Ross to school this morning, hearing the news about the unfortunate passing of Heath Ledger and trying not to listen to the bullshit being assumed about the cause of his death ...


... I realized how my feelings were so similar to those on a day back in London in 1997.

Michael Hutchence
January 22, 1960 - November 22, 1997

'Death ends a life, not a relationship.'
~ Robert Benchley

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

MIXED BAG ...

One of the emails I received today was from SIMPLY AUDIO BOOKS. I rent audio CDs through this site which operates much the same way as Netflix does. They were requesting their users to participate in a short survey. The entry in my email In Box therefore read as:

Simply Audiobooks How happy are you, Dawn?

For some reason I found it amusing and it triggered my idea for this post. So, in no particular order, here is a list of some things that are making me happy at the moment.

From Simply Audio Books, I just finished listening to THE MEASURE OF A MAN: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier. I enjoyed it immensely. The real treat is that Mr. Poitier narrates. It gives a great sense of having a private audience with this very interesting man. I've linked it through Amazon as it gives you a chance to look into the book.

Of course, no such list of mine would be complete without my all time favorite of favorites! I love every minute of this CD which I recently treated myself to. I must confess that it was my absolute teenage-esque adoration of the cover that made me buy it. I knew I would like the song list so I didn’t even bother checking it. I wanted that pic.
This joke also came to me by email. One of those rare ones that you burst out laughing at:
Tiger Woods drives his BMW into a gas station in a remote part of the Irish countryside. The pump attendant, clearly knowing nothing about golf, greets him in a typical Irish manner completely unaware of who the golfing pro is.

"Top of the mornin' to yer, sir." says the attendant.
Tiger nods a quick "Hello." and bends forward to pick up the nozzle. As he does so, two tees fall out of his shirt pocket onto the ground.
"What are those?" asks the attendant.
"They are called tees." replies Tiger.
"Well, what on God's earth are they for?" enquiries the Irishman.
"They're for resting my balls on when I'm driving." says Tiger.
"Fook me!" says the Irishman, "BMW t'inks of everything!"

I am a complete and total FOOD NETWORK addict. I TiVo as much as I can and I watch even more. A lot of people find Sandra Lee a bit weird. I do agree that her over-the-top changing of the kitchen to match her outfit for every show is a little funky, but having watched her life story, I felt inspired by her success. She comes up with some really quick and easy recipes that are very yummy. I don’t have a sweet tooth, but the ease of this dessert got my attention. I went out and got the ingredients the same day that I saw the show, and it was really nice. Everyone enjoyed it. You can check it out here.

My sister recommended this movie and it was great! If you haven’t seen SPITFIRE GRILL yet, it is worth a look-see. It’s not earth moving, but the characters and the story line are interesting, and although the twist became predictable as the movie progressed, I enjoyed it. Having said all this, I never read reviews and always say that movies are a matter of personal taste and everyone has their own likes and dislikes.
The book I am currently listening to is THE MEMORY KEEPER’S DAUGHTER. The story involves the birth of a Down’s syndrome baby. I listen to these books only in my car. (Between TV and radio, it’s commercial overload). At one point in the story today, I turned the CD off as my thoughts were distracting me from listening to the story. I was thinking about how we take our well and healthy children for granted. The birth of a perfectly healthy child is such a gift, and sometimes we kind of take it in our stride and don’t stop often enough to acknowledge the magnitude of the miracle and blessing. I remembered a time when good friends of mine were struggling to get pregnant. The husband commented on how people have sex, get pregnant and sail through bringing their child into the world. He expressed his feelings of frustration and at times anger over the struggle they were enduring.

Later in the day I was chatting on line to a friend who lives in New Zealand. He told me that there is a video clip he wanted to share with me that he had found to be inspiring. It was as if the Universe had heard my thoughts. It was as if the thanks I gave out and the gratitude I felt while driving earlier in the day had been received and heard and the Universe responded almost immediately. I thought about how lucky I am, especially in view of the fact that I got pregnant pre-diagnosis of Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy; to have brought our wonderful Ross into the world. I thanked my body, with all its weaknesses and less than perfect aspects, for all that it has done and all that I hope it will still do for me.

In Hebrew there is a phrase KOL HAKAVOD. The literal translation means 'all honor'. It is used idiomatically to express the praise or congratulations for an achievement. As humbly as is possible, I say KOL HAKAVOD to these people. You can watch the video clip here.

LOOKIN' MIGHTY HAPPY - RIGHT?







Wednesday, January 02, 2008

IF ...

… I could send an email to my brother in heaven, this is what it will say:

I have never missed you more than last week when I had the pleasure of meeting your daughter’s husband for the first time.

No-one deserves the chance at happiness, security and a good life more than either of your two children. Our family grew by the addition of three new members last year, all within a few weeks of each other. Two of those marriages were your daughters. Unfortunately I couldn’t be at either of the two weddings in Amsterdam.

From the moment you left us to go be elsewhere, I have hoped that you are happily dancing with the angels. I also hope that you are smiling down on all of us while you dance and that you are seeing the joy your children are living.

Your daughter did you proud. Your daughter has found the place she deserves. Your daughter is radiant in her bliss and her husband is just what you would have hoped for, for her.

I miss you always, but I missed you more this past Shabbas. I would give just about anything to see you with your children again, and with my child … just about anything.

Sweetly, my darling brother!






 
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