Road to recovery

I have only to look at this photo of my dear friend, now in a rehabilitation hospital, to know that I have not a thing to complain about. I wish her a speedy and complete recovery and many more walks on the beach with me. … [Read more...]

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A heavy week

This past week has left me exhausted. I can feel the weight on my shoulders and see a drained and old look on my face. It started with Bob’s knee surgery which, it turns out, has not been so bad an ordeal after all. He had a couple of hard days, but sometime on Wednesday night he decided to abandon his walker, and he’s been almost self sufficient ever since. That is, he can shower, dress, change his bandage, and turn his refrigeration machine on and off by himself. However, he is still not able to drive, so besides keeping up with my own work load and being the chief cook, I am the chauffeur now as well. And that job got a little busier since he decided to start back to work today. But, then things can always be worse – not for us, but for some folks we know and love. One of my oldest friends – we went to high school and worked on the high school newspaper together – was in a terrible automobile accident on Saturday. It was a one-car accident – the car she and her h … [Read more...]

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Happy Thanksgiving

I can't beat the words of President Obama on this day. So, here they are: Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, Americans across the country will sit down together, count our blessings, and give thanks for our families and our loved ones. American families reflect the diversity of this great nation. No two are exactly alike, but there is a common thread they each share. Our families are bound together through times of joy and times of grief. They shape us, support us, instill the values that guide us as individuals, and make possible all that we achieve. So tomorrow, I'll be giving thanks for my family -- for all the wisdom, support, and love they have brought into my life. But tomorrow is also a day to remember those who cannot sit down to break bread with those they love. The soldier overseas holding down a lonely post and missing his kids. The sailor who left her home to serve a higher calling. The folks who must spend tomorrow apart from their families to work a second job, … [Read more...]

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A beautiful Sunday morning

We spent a lot of this weekend with my New Trier high school friends, culminating in Lee's birthday party yesterday. (I won't say how old he is because that will give away the age I'll become just a few months from now.) Suffice it to say I feel very blessed to still be so close to folks I knew way back when we were all working on the school newspaper together. Lee is the only one of us to actually work on a newspaper; however, that job was preceeded by stints at Penthouse and Hustler and rides on the magic bus with Ken Kesey and company. Needless to say, Lee has lived a long and interesting life. I love him dearly. Unfortunately we didn't get a photo together, so I'll post some I took this morning during my big long Sunday morning walk. Today was a perfect day for the surfers, and they were out in droves. … [Read more...]

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Restaurant games

The other night while out to dinner with friends we tried to guess why a table nearby had an added feature -- a tall vase filled with beautiful red roses. Since no one was seated there yet, we really had no clue about the people when we started to play the what do you think the roses are for game. With that my friend immediately suggested a marriage proposal. I countered with a 60th wedding anniversary celebration. After the couple finally arrived we knew, even without any facts, that we were both wrong. He was kind of a paunchy, balding guy and she, not a spring chicken, was rather plain and dressed like she was living in the 50s of Donna Reed, wearing a long sleeve white blouse and a full skirt. She also had long wavy hair and wore dark rimmed glasses. Could this be a first date? Had they met on match.com or eHarmony? They certainly didn’t look like they knew or even liked each other very well. She sat in one corner of their booth and he in the other, barely talking to e … [Read more...]

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Jew by choice

I went to a Bat Mitzvah last Saturday. One of the most beautiful and brilliant performances on the pulpit I’ve ever witnessed. The Bat Mitzvah girl is the daughter of a good friend who is, in her own words, a failed Catholic. The girl’s father is Jewish. And, as the Bat Mitzvah girl said in her speech, “I am a Jew by choice.” The most amazing thing about her choice is that she made it when she was seven years old. Her mom waited for about six months to see if the notion would stick, and when she was sure it wasn’t going away, she took her daughter to the Rabbi to discuss her options. And, this seven year old was determined and articulate when the Rabbi asked her why she wanted to be a Jew. She said she believed that the Star of David was her guide. And she believed in one God – no other beings or symbols made any sense to her. This seven-year old girl has emerged into a beautiful, smart, and talented young woman just like her mom who raised her mostly on her own. I can … [Read more...]

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Thanks to the Crossroads class of 1989

for remembering Paul at your 20-year reunion. Paul is one of two from the class of 1989 who is no longer with us. It made me cry to see your thoughtful "and as a whole we really missed Shaw C. and Paul S. They will always be a part of our class and in our hearts" comments in the 2009 Alumni News. It's so nice to know others remember him. … [Read more...]

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Reiki vs traditional massage — or both?

What is Reiki? According to the International Center for Reiki Training: Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki is actually "spiritually guided life force energy." I had my first Reiki session last night and it was one of my most calming and relaxing experiences. My friend, who is a Reiki master, began by laying her hands on my eyes for what seemed like a half hour. And, the longer her hands stayed there, the warmer the sensation. She continued laying her hands point by point on … [Read more...]

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The Red Shoes

My niece, Dara, and I saw the remastered classic film, "The Red Shoes," at the Hammer UCLA musuem this morning. It was as beautiful -- or more so -- as I remembered. The film, premiered in 1948 was written, produced, and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and starred Moira Shearer -- with the white skin and flamming red hair. I remember that when it first came out I wasn't allowed to see it. The dancer's suicide at the end made the subject too mature for a little girl of 8 years old. When my parents finally relented I couldn't get enough of it. The dancing alone was an attraction, and I'm sure the theme of art vs life was something I didn't understand early on. Like Martin Scorsese said in his intro to this revised version, we do art not because we want to but because we have to. The heroine of "The Red Shoes" was asked to make a choice between dancing and her jealous husband. And, she couldn't. She had to dance, and eventually couldn't live if she had to give it … [Read more...]

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Remembering Farrah

June 25, 2009 Farrah Fawcett died today. She was 62 – just seven years younger than me. She had suffered for several years from anal cancer and was very brave trying to fight it. Her death brought up old memories for me. I met her in the early 70s. We both got manicures from Emma – I wonder whatever happened to Emma the manicure miracle lady. I had an every other week date with my friend Carole to meet at Emma’s to get manicures and visit, and Farrah would sit right next to us. Carole knew Farrah – I think they were neighbors up near Roscomare Road and Mulholland. Farrah was in Carole’s cooking class. I remember Farrah as being friendly and sweet even though she was already a huge success. And, while we were getting our manicures, Jodi Foster’s mother was waiting for hers and chatting with us. Jodi, a little girl of about 10, was always there too. In those days, I like so many other women had the Farrah Fawcett shag haircut. I remember coming into Beverly Hills fro … [Read more...]

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We need more healing thoughts

Here are the "Nextdoors," our next door neighboors. They always give their names and say nextdoor afterward, so we've taken to calling them the Nextdoors. That's the fun part. The not so fun part is that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last November and though she says her tumor marker has gone down from to 420 all the way from a starting point of 2600, she is having a hard time. She recently wrote: "I am on chemo again and I know it's working but it's a challenge. I have been a hermit in hiding, because that is my way of processing all of this....I have a hard time concentrating on my beautiful life, the positive things, like my beautiful children, a loving husband, a happy and healthy father...but the numbness in my hands and feet, the deep deep pain in my hip, and nausea tend to rear their heads and distract me. Then I get teary and all that I can do is take some stupid med that makes my life fuzzy. I am told to be peaceful, rest, and take in this chemo the best way that … [Read more...]

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A bucket list item failure

Nurturing my friends was definitely on my bucket list when I started this blog. And I haven't been successful at fulfilling this goal. I seem to be a failure both on the give and take sides. I don’t call and make dates with people enough, and when I do I give up after the first sign that connecting could be difficult. My Thursday’s horoscope reminded me how important it is to nurture friendships, and how I’ve been a failure at it. I let work get in the way most of the time. Geography is also an issue. Some of my friends live on the other side of the city, and with my work schedule, I don’t want to or am too tired to take the time to fight the traffic for a lunch date. I also get bent out of shape if they won't make the trip to where I live once in a while. Right now I find myself at an impasse with a couple of people because they refuse to meet in my territory. As much as I want to see them and talk to them, I haven’t seen them in way too long. Well, this piece has chang … [Read more...]

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The Health Miles Step Fest Challenge – just a matter of perspective

In the end I came in number 443 out of the 4023 participants in the challenge. Here’s some other statistics. I had a total of 446,799 steps recorded on my pedometer for the challenge period from February 16 to March 18. That means I did an average of 14,413 steps every day for 31 days. Not the 15,000 or more I originally planned to do, but close. I lost a little steam – and interest – toward the finish line. However, there were 77 participants who did the maximum of 30,000 steps a day for 31 days for a total of 930,000 steps for the challenge duration. Like I said at the outset I could never compete with that. Nor would I want to. How does anyone amass 30,000 steps every day for 31 days in a row? It’s mind boggling. On the other end of the spectrum were about 150 folks who never took one step – or at least didn’t record any into the challenge database. So, it is all a matter of perspective. 443 out of 4023 is not bad for an old lady like me. … [Read more...]

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I lied

I went back to my dermatologist and got shot up again. I know I said I wouldn’t do anymore as a way to save money, but I lied. I gave in to botox a couple of weeks ago and was persuaded to try another hit of Rystalane since it was offered at half price if I could find a friend to do it too. Well, my doc even found me the friend. However, I’m not sure of the effects of the Rystalane – injected into the lines from my mouth down into my chin and around my lips. All I know is, right now I’m still very black and blue – four days later. It’s not a pretty sight. Magic Potion I see deep furrows in my face over my eyes, across my forehead, from my nostrils, down into my chin. They look like scars, my niece says like her daddy has around his mouth. Mine are the scars of age earned through years of child rearing work, parent care, long hours, sleepless nights and family tragedies. But, I’ll not let them be. My needle-wielding dermatologist injects each line with a ma … [Read more...]

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A glue that really sticks

On March 11 42 years ago, Bob and I fell in love forever and irrevocably. And I know this is true just from the look in his eyes. Sure we have our differences. But in the long run they don’t matter. What matters is that after all these 42 years we are still together and as much in love as on that first night. So, I wonder now what has been the glue that has kept us together. Is it that we were both married before? We had practice runs, so to speak. Is it that Bob and I sowed all our wild oats while we were in between marriages? Is it because we were both older when we tied the proverbial knot? (We got married three years after we fell in love. Our 39th wedding anniversary will be in May.) All of these things I suppose are true, but not unusual by any means. At the outset, we certainly had a lot going against us. Both of our sets of parents objected. Mine because Bob isn’t Jewish and has never had any intention of converting; his because they still were in love with his former … [Read more...]

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The women in my life (and a few good men) – Part 6

Teachers, Writing Coaches, Mentors I must first mention a few school teachers. They are: Mr. E. who made me love writing so much that right there in his 7th grade class I decided I wanted to study journalism (and I actually did); Mrs. R. who instilled in me the importance of reading and looking deep within the words for their meaning; and of course Dr. RRB, my high school journalism teacher and our high school newspaper advisor, who is still in my life today. He taught me to ask the hard questions and to be persistent in getting the answers. He also was a stickler for accuracy and meticulousness – traits very much within me now. Those people were the precursors. Now for those who have had the most influence on my present-day writing. Ellen – I don’t know what initially drew me to Ellen in the mid 90s. Perhaps it was the title of her workshop, “Writing About Our Lives,” and that she was holding that workshop at Esalen in Big Sur – one of my favorite places on earth. … [Read more...]

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Another kind of writing workshop

Last Saturday (February 21) I took my next door neighbor, recently diagnosed with cancer, to The Wellness Community in Redondo Beach for a morning of guided journal writing. I had taken a writing workshop with the leader just a few weeks before so I figured this was a good time to introduce my neighbor to TWC and to be in a safe writing space. I hadn't been to the facility for quite some time but knew it well -- as its first Development Director and then member of the Board of Directors. Little did I know what a confront the session would be for me. The leader designed the workshop for cancer patients and their families, and since I'm not either, my first thought was I need to get out of here -- and fast. The morning looked like it was going to be way more heavy than I was prepared for. Plus the writing prompts came on fast and furiously -- we wrote five minutes on eight different topics. But, I stuck it out -- I wrote a little bit about cancer in my life, but mostly about how … [Read more...]

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Bucket list update

Okay, here's the status. The things in Bold are the things I've accomplished. Needless to say, the results aren't good. Of course, it goes without saying, that my priorities have changed considerably since I wrote the first things down in November 2007. Well, yes, a lot of other things have changed as well. Leave my job as a full-time employee and work as a consultant sporadically Climb down into the Grand Canyon Go to the parts of the United States I haven’t been to yet -- Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, the Carolina's Visit Florida Get my memoir published Get a poetry book published Read all the books that are waiting for me on the shelves in my closet -- starting with "The Golden Notebook" Spend time outside in my garden Get a Buddha for my garden Spend more time in my home office Write some new poems Take a cruise on the Cunard in the Princess suites to Scandinavia and Russia Visit my brother and his family in Denver Go to Virginia to see Anna and Ian – this shoul … [Read more...]

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Honorable mention — better than nothing!

I just heard that I received an honorable mention in the Women on Writing (WOW) Fall essay contest. The prompt was to write about creating a space you deserve in your home and using that space to exercise your creativity. I went to my memoir for inspiration, and I adapted my piece for the contest from there. Since WOW will not be publishing my essay on its website, I'll publish it on mine. Here it is: Making Room for Me It took me almost six years after my son Paul died to redo his room. Once in a while we used it as a guest room, but the closet still had the dust accumulated since he last played his keyboards in there and his books and records – first in his meticulous alphabetical filing system on the shelves and later in neatly packed and labeled boxes stacked against the wall. We finally gave away his furniture and instruments and stacked those boxes of books and records out in our garage, leaving the dusty closet empty and ready to be transformed with file drawers and bo … [Read more...]

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More about the movies

I really wanted to continue on the path of seeing as many nominated films before the Academy Award presentations next week, but I got out voted. instead we went to see "Taken," last night, and I can’t believe the interest and the high regard for action films. I just don’t see the point. Liam Neisen was not acting, but being a ridiculous action hero who deflected every attempt to thwart his progress through the plot – bullets, car chases, hanging – it didn’t matter. No matter how people tried to get rid of him, he prevailed. It was really laughable it was so unbelievable. Plus, he’s getting old and isn’t in that great a shape anymore, so that he could do this action hero stuff makes no sense either. Needless to say, I didn’t like the film. It made me sweaty because the plot line was so uncomfortable – people kidnapping young girls and then selling them into prostitution and slavery. It makes me uncomfortable because I know they do this all over the world – inclu … [Read more...]

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