Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Whole New World

The world has seen catastrophes before, but the COVID-19 crisis has shaken us, filled many of us with fear, despair, and loss. This latest strain of the Corona Virus has caused a worldwide pandemic with more than 200-thousand deaths and nearly 3-million confirmed cases. In the United States alone we’ve lost over 52-thousand people and have more than a million confirmed cases.

Many American families have sheltered in place, schools are closed and many businesses shuttered (at least for now). The emotional toll of isolation, the insecurity of an income to pay day-to-day bills, and the surreal recordings of precautions intermingled with encouragement in the grocery stores have left scars on our psyche. Essential workers often keep themselves away from their spouses and children to ensure they don’t bring the virus through their own front doors. First responders such EMTs and Paramedics, Firefighters, Police Officers, and healthcare workers like nurses and doctors are overworked, overstressed, getting sick themselves and sometimes desperate to see an end even if it means taking their own precious lives.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential.

As bleak as it may seem, we are hoping for some light — The National Institutes of Health are coordinating worldwide research on both the treatment and development of a vaccine to fight COVID-19. Scientists and doctors are collaborating and combining research and statistics to find the best defense against this disease. Across the United States there are many reports of “the flattening curve” that show that #StayAtHome, Social Distancing, and the use of masks and gloves are helping. There are encouraging news reports about the human spirit, about helping to feed each other, applauding the efforts of essential workers, and families finding ways to stay in touch through the internet and phone lines. Several states are beginning to SLOWLY and CAUTIOUSLY open their businesses and other resources while monitoring all results and asking folks to continue using personal protective equipment and social distancing.

Many of us have become stronger, we’ve developed more interaction within our households, and we’ve found creative ways to keep on living as normally as possible. Teachers have stepped up to continue teaching their students through emails, video-chats and even singing drive-bys. Mom or Dad, or both, have stayed connected and learned to work from home. Several doctors have made use of telemedicine to check in on patients without any exposure to possible contaminants. Some of our leaders have stepped up to keep us informed with accurate facts, guidance and useful information to help our families through these days.

The world has changed and I doubt it will ever go back to the way it was before. Many of us will have learned a new respect for ALL of our essential workers, a respect that hopefully will stick with us even in better times. There will come a day when we can “hug” our loved ones that we haven’t seen for months, but we will also be more aware of safe practices with every contact.

Things WILL improve, but for now we all need to do our part. Even if you are allowed to return to work as we open our states again, keep that social distancing and personal protective gear in play. Continue frequent hand washing, sneeze into your elbow or tissues which you can properly dispose of, and keep wiping down surfaces that are frequently touched. Do it all now and help to flatten the curve, and do it later to remain healthy and strong.

I wish you all health, happiness and the (soon) ability to spend time with family and friends.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

I’m Insulted…

Like many of us, I haven’t gotten to actually SEE and be with any of my kids for about two months now. We have two that we’ve raised and two that have joined our family and I miss each one of them. Yes we’ve spoken on the phone and actually had a few video chats but I miss being able to hug them. The holidays were a letdown, we usually make a point of having a Passover Seder together, but it didn’t happen this year. Yes, I know that has been the case for most parents of grown children. And I feel weepy and miss them so much.

And what really, really bothers me most is I know how many other people they see every single day… You see all four of them are first responders. Two of them are working “in-house” positions along with others, and two of them are riding in ambulances and treating innumerable patients all day long — sometimes their hours are so long that they are too exhausted to answer their phones or return text messages. I am so damn proud of each of them, they are heroes.

I am not insulted because my kids don’t have the time to see me, or that they can’t because of social distancing. I am insulted by the fact that so many people just assume that there will be a response each time they call 911 and they seem to forget the sacrifices that each responder makes often for very little pay. I am insulted by the fact that all these highly trained individuals, of which my children are a part of, are forgotten when the crisis is over. Heck some of them aren’t even considered to be ESSENTIAL even though they are risking their own lives with every single patient and every single time tones go out.

For now everyone is referring to our FRONTLINE during this Coronavirus crisis and thanking them with thoughtful meals and cards, blue ribbons on trees, and cheers. What is going to happen when this crisis is over? Will our first responders be forgotten again? Will most of today’s heroes have to continue working multiple jobs to pay their bills? I’ve seen it happen before and I worry that it will happen again.

It’s time to recognize our TRUE heroes, the ones who respond to cries for help, the ones who save our lives even when it puts them at risk. Make a list NOW of them people you are able to depend upon for all of the important stuff — all the people who come when you dial 911, all the people who restock the grocery store shelves, all the people who maintain the roads so that trucks can get through with supplies, all the nurses and doctors in the ER and ICU, our military and National Guard, the people who man the food shelters… these are the people we need to value, we need to thank, and we need to remember.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


The curve is flattening! And that is good news indeed, but it doesn’t mean that the danger is over. The COVID-19 virus is still out there. Because of the STAY-AT-HOME orders that many governors imposed, and because of the folks that chose to heed the advice as well as wear masks and gloves when they NEEDED to go out the rate of infection is slowing. This doesn’t mean it’s safe to gather in large groups YET, or that we could come and go freely in and out of stores and other attractions… This does prove that self-isolation and personal protection IS helping, for now it’s a good idea to continue, as we can, social distancing.

But we all know being stuck in the house can be
B O R I N G. There is only so much television to watch and only so much junk food to keep eating. And if your children are home from school (many schools will remain closed for the balance of the school year), well, there’s a reason you chose NOT to home school! Besides you probably miss your family and friends and even if you have immediate household members with you during this seeming house arrest, it can get lonely.

We will probably have more time ahead of us that we are expected to #StayAtHome but it doesn’t have to be quite as boring or lonely. If you have a phone, a smart-phone and/or computer, internet, a television, or some of the 2020s technology, there are things to do for YOU alone, for your family, and for your relatives and friends sequestered elsewhere.

Use the internet to travel! Yes, you can visit so many interesting places in a virtual state of mind. Take the family on a virtual tour of 6 National Parks in the South, you don’t even need to check your luggage, or decide to visit some fantastic online museums at . Are you looking for something you AND your kids can enjoy together (as well as sneaking in some terrific learning opportunities)? Choose from several virtual field trips including farms, zoos, volcanoes, and mystery — just book yourself online at Who says you just have to stare at the same four walls?

It’s a great time to enrich yourselves both physically and mentally. Find lots of online exercise programs from Aerobics to Zumba. Just type exercise programs into your search bar and find free online videos of Cardio, Yoga, Pilates, Barre, strength training, muscle building, dance and more. You can even find age appropriate programs for kids to seniors. Check out Silver Sneakers for adults over 50 at, relieve some of the stress you been feeling with a free Yoga meditation class at, or help your kids work out some of their pent-up energy at  

Keep your students learning or just augment online lessons from your child’s teacher, sign up for a FREE account at, various subjects are included for K through grade 12. And why not take the time to learn a variety of subjects for yourself? Check out free online First Aid, CPR and AED courses , learn a language for free at, develop creative writing skills with the original blogs that the Living, Writing, Breathing Amazon Kindle Blog was based on at, or take college level classes for free (nominal fee for final exams) at And don’t forget to check online resources on your local library’s website, your library card is usually needed for access.

Finally while you may not be able to have face-to-face in person contact with your extended family and friends, there is NO reason you can’t spend time together. Download free apps from SKYPE or ZOOM for group get togethers, or Facebook messenger video chat for just two locations. Celebrate happy occasions, share Sunday dinners (each have your own dinners and share table chat), or even have fun trivia games, charades or even book club meetings over the internet! Whether you use a computer or just call people on the phone, hearing each other’s voices will do you all a world of good.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of our 1st Responders, Medical Professionals and essential workers who are helping to keep our country running.

Wishing you all health and safety and a time when we can all meet again.
#StayAtHome  Prevent the Spread

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

What a Strange Time This Is

Passover, Easter, Ramadan… we are NOT cancelling our holidays, but we are celebrating/observing with a little less family at our tables and without the time we normally spend in our house of worship.

If you observe one of these holidays, like me, I am sure you are thinking, it doesn’t even feel like… Passover has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a young child I would go to sleep the night before and when I woke in the morning, like magic, everything in the kitchen had changed. I truly thought it was magical and never realized the hours my mom spent to “kasher” (clean) the kitchen, change dishes and restock the pantry with the type of food we would be permitted to eat over the next eight days. Even more fun were the Seders where we told the story of the Exodus and my parents hosted dinner for so many relatives. And oh the fun of taking that first bite of horseradish and watching to see who ran first for a tall glass of water!

When I got married, by then I knew the work involved, but it was so worth it. After my parents passed I started hosting large Seders and sometimes there were as many as 24 at our table. It was a lot of work, not magic, but as I watched my own children’s faces it was so very worth it. As they grew they would always ask their friends to come over, it was always a special time whether our guests observed or not. I admit as I gotten older and our children are now adults with their own spouses and homes, I’ve begun to cater the size of the crowd a bit because, yes, it is a lot of work.

And this year (sigh), it is all different. Our son and daughter-in-love are EMTs and in the frontlines of this COVID crisis; our son-in-love is with the FD and also on the frontlines and our daughter waits for him each day at home. This year our Seder table will seat just the two of us, my husband and me. Between the important work they are all doing, the Stay-at-Home orders, and the scary risk of infections, we will be just the two of us. Our daughter is planning to “host” a short ZOOM Seder on the 2nd night so at least through the gift of electronics we can share a bit of the holiday with them. If our son and his wife have the time in te very busy schedules, maybe we’ll see them too.

I shouldn’t be complaining, I know. Everything just feels so surreal. Shopping was an adventure as we certainly couldn’t go hopping from store to store, so many of the shelves were bare anyway. We certainly have more than enough, especially since it is JUST THE TWO OF US. I am thankful it is the two of us, we have each other at a time when families are being destroyed. And I am thankful that we can use a computer and pretend, at least for a short while, that we are actually together with our offspring. I know I will get choked up when, at the end of the Seder service, we say the line “Next year in Israel”, what I will really be wishing for is “Next year with our family.”

I wish all of you a warm and loving holiday season and the promise of your family’s safety and health and that next year you can all be together to celebrate.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fool’s Day

I never did like April Fool’s Day pranks. My friends, and even some family, always made fun of me for that. But all I saw was cruelty and disappointment.

I saw people who had money problems being told “Omigosh, it’s a winning lottery ticket!” and then their tears of joy changed to forlorn disappointment when they realized it was just a prank. I watched as insecure children were ignored as their classmates pretended not to see them as an April Fools prank and they did their best not to cry. And I’ve seen people thinking they had been given a loving gift only to open an empty box and then being laughed at for their disappointment.

Call me a grouch if you want, but the very name of the day implies a meanness – you go out of your way to make a FOOL of someone. Why? Isn’t it belittling? Yes there are comics who strive to make us laugh and they often don’t mind making themselves the center of a joke. Often we tease each other, lightheartedly and certainly with no malice. But is there really a need to scare the wits out of someone just to give yourselves a thrill? Do you really want to give someone a heart attack? Or do you really want to give them a chance to throw it right back at you and play dead until you are filled with terrible remorse?

Yes there are surprises and reactions, many times unintended, that make us laugh but not at the expense of each other. No one needs to make someone feel cheated or betrayed. No one needs to feel that they were made a fool of. There are certainly some harmless pranks and most of us can survive and even laugh like the fake snake jumping out of a can of peanuts. But there are those that have to think of ways to pull the “ultimate” prank and wind up doing harm instead. My dad was quite a prankster and some of his jokes still make me laugh, but none of those jokes were ever designed to hurt my sister or me or our feelings, and for young children feelings got damaged a lot worse than bumps and bruises.

At the risk of giving some ideas, some of the cruelest and possibly most dangerous pranks include “Ex-Lax” in a box of chocolate, hot pepper sauce in the ketchup bottle, a bug in a lunch sandwich (even worse if it’s fake and you can choke on it), a missing step, a loosened bike handlebars, an exploding ink pen that ruins a favorite outfit… Why? So yeah, I’m a grumbler about the so-called April Fool’s Day pranks because I’ve seen some of the damage some of these so-called jokes can do. And yes I was the victim of one so bad I was seriously injured (handlebars), so while I never liked the pranks before I HATED them after. Maybe the best way to surprise someone this April Fool’s Day is to do something unexpectedly nice.

No one really knows why April Fool’s Day was created. Some say it had to do with the creation of the modern day calendar and confusion as to when the New Year officially began and so, for this unknown reason folks have perpetuated this day… and maybe that is the greatest joke of them all.