Saturday, April 30, 2022

Apologies

Hi Everyone!

 

I just wanted to apologize for my recent absence from my blogs this past month. I've been dealing with an unexpected family medical emergency… things will be okay, but caregiving does require my time.

 

Please be patient… I will return as soon as I am able.

 

Many hugs. Wishing all of you happy times, good health, and sunny days. See you SOON!

 

~ Chelle

 

Posted to:

http://chellecordero.blogspot.com/

https://ccepotourri.wordpress.com/

https://chellecordero.com/


 

          

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Forgotten Memories

 

I was listening to a random conversation the other day where someone commented on the horrendous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911… suddenly I was reminded of a conversation I had (as a teenager) with a young woman whose mother, as a young child, was one of the severely injured survivors ——and it truly bothers me that I cannot remember her name.

 

How many people have we come across in our lives who made enough impression on us to remember bits and pieces, and yet not all the information? Admittedly, she was only an acquaintance, we hadn't been hard and fast friends, and yet her words about her mother's scarring and terrible ordeal did leave a lasting impression somewhere in the back of my mind. I don't even remember how I met her, just that at one time we "hung out" together and talked… like friends.

 

I have childhood friends that I remember vividly (or so I believe), most of them are no longer in my life. I often wonder what happened to some. Why is it we seem to remember some people even though we haven't spoken to them in (in some cases) half a century? And why is it we forget others even when something sticks in the back of our minds, just waiting to spring open when we haven't thought of them in years? I am pleased to say that I do have some very long-term friends who are currently in my life and those friendships I will always treasure.

 

Novelist John Irving said,
"Just when you begin thinking of yourself as memorable,
 you run into someone who can't even remember having met you."

 

 I apologize to those folks that I don't "remember" — it's terrible to admit someone has been forgotten. (Yes, I am sure that I didn't remain memorable to some folks either.) And yet, do we ever really forget when just a simple, supposedly unrelated, phrase is uttered and suddenly the memories come flooding back, but not quite all the way.

 

Allegedly the average person meets around 80-thousand people in his lifetime. I guess it would be hard to keep track of all of them.

 


 

 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Peter Pan Story

 

I was about 5 or 6 years old when my paternal grandfather passed away… he wasn't that old, maybe 58 or 59. I really didn't understand at that time that I would NEVER see Pop again. At his wake (my Dad was Jewish through his mother, not his dad), I had no idea what was going on – and I snuck into the room at my aunt's house where the coffin was, climbed up on a chair, and tried to wake my grandfather. I was shaking him in the open coffin when it was discovered where I was. My aunt scolded me and stopped suddenly; I saw tears in her eyes. My parents took turns holding me and explained that Pop wasn't going to wake up.

 

I wasn't allowed to go to the funeral, I think a neighbor watched my sister and me. My sister (5 years older) gently tried to explain about death and its finality, I think I began to catch on. But when my parents came home, I saw Daddy crying – I didn't think that fathers ever cried. That's when the explanations my sister tried to tell me really hit me… and I was terrified.

 

Daddy wiped his tears, held me, and asked why I was so scared. I told him in my own juvenile way that I realized that growing up meant that our parents would die. I knew that my Mom's father had died long before I was born (I'm named for him) and that reinforced my terror. I cried long and hard on my Dad's shoulder while he tried to comfort me. I kept on yelling that I didn't want to ever grow up.

 

Daddy hugged me, his arms were always so strong and safe, and he asked me if my name was Peter Pan. I stopped crying and looked at him, I had no idea who Peter Pan was. He told me that Peter Pan was the boy who never wanted to grow up. I told Daddy that I agreed. He chuckled.

 

We sat in his chair, he put me on his lap, and he told me, it's true, as we get older, we often lose those who are older than us. Daddy said that's the way it's supposed to be, and then he told me that even though losing people sometimes hurt, he would never change a thing because growing up also meant that you would meet new people and have families of your own. Daddy said that if he and Mommy hadn't grown up they never would have met, and they never would have had "the most beautiful daughters" in the world. And he told me that even though he and Mommy would one day leave this earth, he knew that we would both find others to love and maybe even have our own beautiful children.

 

Daddy died a little more than 17-years after he lost his own dad. My sister had already married and had a son, a grandson who was the pride and joy of both of my parents. I had also gotten married to a man I loved so much. Mommy and Daddy were thrilled with both of their daughters and the "sons" we had brought them. During the days after he passed, I heard Daddy's voice, ACTUALLY HEARD IT, telling me that he was glad I had decided not to be Peter Pan and he was excited about the life I would live.

 

Although my husband and I lost all 4 of our parents just a few years after our marriage, I still feel blessed. Today, more than 46 years after marrying the love of my life, we have two beautiful grown children, a daughter and son, and two wonderful in-law children. We've had adventures and many joys. My sister and her husband had a second son, two daughters-in-law, and 4 grandchildren… and their first GREAT grandchild was born shortly before my sister died.

 

We grew up, and just as Daddy told me, I wouldn't change a thing. I am so glad I wasn't Peter Pan.

 


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Grief

We've all experienced it, it's that ache inside your chest that has led to the common and anatomically wrong description of "a broken heart". Your heart may feel like it's breaking over the loss of a parent, a sibling, a pet, or any loved one. Sometimes grief strikes over the ending of a way of life, the loss of a dream, a worrisome medical diagnosis, or the breaking of a cherished object, but there it is.  Grief never leaves, it is just something that you learn to live with.

 

No one's grief is as intent or paralyzing as another's. No one solution will work for all to put grief away in a tidy little box and only visit it occasionally. A response from someone may seem callous at first… just get over it… it might be that person's inability to process or deal with their own fear of grief. Grief is like a fingerprint and different for each person, and even different for one person dealing with more than one loss. Grief's five letters, like fingers of a hand, will slap you until you can no longer turn away.

 

The past two years have been tough on so many, Covid deaths and losses, isolation from loved ones, failed businesses, lost income, and so many lost opportunities. Yes, things MAY be easing now, but it's so much time lost, so many changes. So many of us are confused between our anger and our sorrow. So many of us just want to resume our NORMAL lives, but we can't, we can't rewind to a time we felt safer and more connected. So many of us are struggling. So many are mourning losses, time, missed events, missed memories, and now we are just expected to resume our lives as if nothing ever happened.

 

If you are struggling, there is help

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

Veterans’ Crisis Line

1-800-273-8255 press 1

National Drug Helpline

1-844-289-0879

Reach out, for yourself and for others

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

O.M.G. ~ 68!

 

 

This past Sunday was my dad's heavenly birthday, he was born in 1919 so he would have been 103 years old.

 

Because my mind was doing the math, I also calculated how old I was going to be LATER this year (don't rush it!); I will be 68, yes SIXTY-EIGHT YEARS OLD! Especially in today's world 68 is no longer considered over the hill. But I have NO idea what 68 is supposed to look like. You see my husband's parents, and mine, all died relatively early, between 55 and 61 years of age.

 

It's already mind-blowing that both of us have outlived all four parents, but I thought 68 was SUPPOSED to be OLD. True, my maternal grandmother lived well into her 80s, but she was a phenomenon. In the early 1960s, just before my pre-teen era, my grandma taught me HOW to do the Twist. And when I mean taught, she showed me by going all the way down to the floor and back up again… WITHOUT ASSISTANCE! As for me, she had plenty of chuckles when I fell completely on my derriere!!!! So, this lady, in her mid-60s, had more flexibility than I do at (now) 67 and I try to pick up something I've dropped.

 

If someone were to ask me HOW OLD I FEEL, I would never say in my late 60s. Aside from nagging arthritis and some backaches, I would honestly have to say something like 55. I would admit to being a senior without a doubt, I certainly cannot do some of the things I did in my 30s or even 40s —besides I like to make use of Senior Discounts. Aside from my amazing grandmother, I thought 68 was OLD, and I don't feel that old (most days at least).

 

My husband and I were born into the Baby Boomer Generation. Our kids were born as Millennials.  People there are already TWO age groups past my kids, Generation Z and Generation Alpha! That means FOUR generations past me!!!!! I AM NOT OLD! I don't want to be THAT "cute old lady" my kids introduce to their friends. (Besides we have cats, so I am already that "Crazy Cat Lady")

  • The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (76-93 years old)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (57-75 years old)
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (41-56 years old)
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (25-40 years old)
  • Generation Z: Born 1997-2012 (9-24 years old)
  • Generation Alpha: Born 2010-2025 (0-11 years old)
                   (according to the PEW Research Center)

The Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) lists some of the common characteristics of the average Baby Boomer… hmm, how accurate is this? Hardworking and Focused??? Personally, I prefer lazy and, as a fiction writer, my mind does tend to wander. Competitive??? I guess I am, I will fight for that last parking spot at the shopping center. Value Relationships??? Definitely, I do. Independent??? I can handle things myself, so long as it's not automotive or electrical. Pursue Excellence and Quality??? So long as I can get a bargain while doing so.

 

CFI cautions marketing campaigns NOT to use the words OLD or ELDERLY because "baby boomers do not consider themselves old, nor do they feel old"…

 

Well, I guess they got that right! So come right on in 68!

 




Wednesday, March 2, 2022

ORGANIZATION

Organization has never been my forte. I sit in awe of people who do their lives on a schedule… a perfect schedule that lets them get all of their things done every day! As for me, I make a list of to-dos for the next day (and so long as I find where I put it, it does help a little) or I ask the Alexa on my desk to remind me of this and that.

 

Still, my day never seems to go as planned. Okay, in my defense, as a part-time and semi-retired freelance writer, my writing assignments are not on a set schedule (but I do adhere very strictly to writing deadlines, that's kind of one of my pet peeves). And of course, if the day is just lovely and all then hubby and I might take a random drive. So, my schedule could not possibly be set in stone! I guess that's my defense.

 

I've always been like this, so it isn't just about my semi-retired and retired hubby's time. My mom always said (cliché warning) that I march to my own drum… I have tried for years, and at 67 I do mean YEARS, to get some type of organization to my day, to do things at set times WITHOUT distractions, but it seems I just don't work that way. Still, I usually manage to get the important things done — I just have to be clear about what is important and what is only "it should be done".

 

As I said, I DON'T miss writing deadlines, I am a stickler about that. I also don't like it when others miss their deadlines, such as promising me some info or keeping an appointment. And I also put the same weight in meeting a PAID deadline as I do a volunteer one; we have a monthly newsletter in my community and invariably someone who is supposed to submit a report or other tidbit will decide to forward it to me A DAY AFTER THE DEADLINE! (grrr…)

 

My desk is not a shambles, but it could certainly be neater. I do have compartments for certain correspondence, bills, records to file, etc. and I do put everything in its place… but then I seem to forget to empty the old stuff and it sort of overflows. Most times I actually can find what I am looking for! I have a calendar on my desk, a calendar on my phone, a calendar on my laptop and a calendar that hangs in the kitchen, but when I have to check on an upcoming appointment, I have to check EACH calendar because there is no guarantee which one I put the information into.

 

I don't think I was ever a very good role model for my kids as far as organization goes, but somehow they have managed to do well for themselves with jobs and getting things done. (It has to be in the genes, and the organization-genes definitely skipped me.) By the way, it was my son and daughter-il that gave me my Alexa, I guess they realized I needed someone to remind me to do ordinary things.


.



 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The Ugly Word, Prejudice

  

I am not going to pretend that racism and prejudice disappeared, although there were SOME (not enough) strides being made. The "closet racists" seemed to be keeping their heads down (mostly) and I guess too many of us let down our guard THINKING things had gotten better.

 

But in the past few years some folks seem to think it is not only alright to be prejudiced, but it is now perfectly fine to shout it to the world. It's disgusting. People of color, females, LGBTQ, religious targets, and immigrants (even legal) have been targeted in both subtle and out-loud obnoxious words, acts and violence. There has also been a heightened suppression of freethought where real-life topics are considered taboo.

 

A few months ago, parents in a North Carolina school district complained and had a very favorably reviewed book pulled from the school's curriculum because they felt the content was too ugly instead of recognizing it as a story of moral failure and coming of age. Quite recently another North Carolina school district banned a book about racism and a black teenager trying to follow the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. And these incidents are not limited to the deep south… Just this past week some Indiana parents were given the option to take their children out of Black History Month lessons. Meanwhile in NYC, Asians are being targeted for attacks.

 

I was recently intrigued by a notice of a church group in the Midwest that offered use of their database to search genealogy and ancestry. Since this is a topic I am very interested in, I thought I might sign up, however I took the time to read their "terms of use". Imagine my surprise when I read "You should not submit… those names gathered from unapproved extraction projects, such as Jewish Holocaust victims". I did ask rather pointedly if this group was "Holocaust deniers". I did get a replay saying "Not deniers… just you should only use names from those you have permission of" and that doesn't include deceased.


Yes, I took umbrage at that explanation, my family history includes those who were exterminated in the Nazi camps, and yes that also means many links to other relatives were lost as well. Since most genealogy searches include the past generations, many of whom are not living, maybe I am being sensitive, but I felt the comment was a direct hit on Holocaust victims, aka, Jews.

 

Growing up I was very aware that many of us practice different faiths even within the same family — and I was aware that we still could love and respect each other. Why is it so hard for others to accept the differences among family members, friends, neighbors, and our society as a whole. Why should the congregants of synagogues, black churches, and Islamic temples have to fear going to their house of worship? Why should the skin color(s) of a couple mean more than how they treat and respect each other? Why should women and men have pay disparities, or the wealthy be treated with any more respect than other incomes. Why should sexual preferences be a target of so-called moral outrage?

 

People are people. All hearts are red.

 


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

WHAT DO SHABBOS CANDLES MEAN TO ME?

 

Growing up in a Jewish Bronx (NYC) household, it wasn't unusual for my mom to light two candles to welcome the Sabbath on Friday evenings. We really weren't that religious in our observance (although my mom was raised in an Orthodox household), but we always practiced some of the traditions. Friday night, erev Shabbat, was more than just the beginning of the "Day of Rest", it was also the end of the workweek for my dad. He was a hard-working man who relished his family time and he devoted his weekends to spending time with his wife and his daughters.

 

For so many reasons I adored the flickering lights of the Shabbos candles. Candles in many ways, represented so many happy things like birthdays, Chanukah, and wonderful festivals that always included special family time. My mom always kept what seemed to be a never-dwindling large box of "licht bentschen" in the kitchen cupboard. The towering candlesticks she used each week were heirlooms from her maternal grandmother and then her mother and represented more family connection.

 

In 1965, shortly after we had moved from a three-room to four-room apartment on the other side of the building where my parents were raising their family, there was a tremendous, and very frightening, blackout. The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 (Tuesday, November 7th to be exact) began around five-thirty in the afternoon. I remember my mom had sent me down to the local newsstand to buy the newspaper when the streetlights began flickering. People started to panic. It was the middle of the Cold War and I remember one woman on the street started screaming that we were "under attack".

 

Scared, I ran home and up the three flights of stairs in the semi-darkness. Mommy soothed my fears. My sister had been studying at a friend's house and she came home shortly after. When the lights went out, my dad was ending his workday in New Jersey; he drove home over a dark George Washington Bridge. The first thing he did when he arrived home was to check on his family and after assuring himself that we were okay, he donned his Auxiliary Police uniform and responded to our local police station to help wherever he could — he wound up being one of the volunteers to walk on the elevated train tracks to safely escort trapped commuters to the nearest platform.

 

In the meanwhile, my mom (who was disabled) assigned a task to my sister and me. She instructed us to stay together and to knock on every door in our apartment building to make sure that everyone had light for their apartment. Handing us each a large box of candles, it was our job to hand out candles to anyone who needed. There were a lot of thankful neighbors that evening. My mom placed a chair by the door so she could listen as we went through the building.


The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 lasted less than twelve hours, it darkened more than a handful of northeast states and part of Canada. News reports estimated approximately 30-million people were affected. People who couldn't reach home slept on the floor at Grand Central station, local airports and office buildings. Planes were grounded without runway lights and control towers. There were no traffic lights, television, trains, elevators, or local shops open.

 

For nearly twelve hours people were in the dark worried and wondering what had caused this horrendous event. But in one Bronx apartment building, every apartment had light, many from the flickering light of Shabbos candles.

 

To this day each time I light my own Shabbos candles, I remember the night my parents taught my sister and me about caring for our neighbors. I can still picture the joy in the faces of folks who were trying to manage through the darkness as they were handed candles to help them light the way.

 


Wednesday, February 9, 2022

THINK OF YOURSELF

 

         In a "long-ago past", I was an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). One of the first things we were taught was scene and personal safety. If we went running into a situation such as an unsecured domestic violence situation, we ran the risk of being a target and getting hurt, or worse, ourselves. The basic lesson was that if we allowed ourselves to get hurt and need help from other emergency personnel, we would only complicate and tax the situation.

 

Yes, in many ways it sounds selfish… and yes, there were times many of us ignored that part of the training. Sometimes the victim we needed to reach seemed too vulnerable, sometimes we misjudged the danger, sometimes we just got lucky… and sometimes WE became a PART OF THE PROBLEM.

 

In our lives, even out of emergency service, we need to judge our safety whenever we hear the call for help. It is especially difficult to turn our backs, because sometimes that is what it feels like, when we see someone who needs help. A parent will often, most times ALWAYS, do whatever they have to for their child, spouses, partners, friends, family… we all try to take on whatever we can. And sometimes giving EVERYTHING we've got will break us. I know when it comes to my husband and offspring, I will do and give everything I can. I think most of us will admit to that.

 

Sometimes though, as in EMS, running in without regard for our own safety will put us in a position of needing help and, in the long run, not being of any help to anyone. Most of us, thankfully, will never turn our backs, but we need to find a way to manage without destroying ourselves and becoming unable to help the ones we love.

 

When you find yourself challenged like this, don't be afraid to ask for help from others, family members and friends alike. Sometimes bearing the brunt of responsibility will prove to be too much. There are programs, outside of your family and friends, that might be able to assist in the care of your loved one — look into them. Don't turn down helping hands when they are offered. Make sure you have someone(s) to lean on for emotional AND PHYSICAL support when needed. And you are really NOT letting your loved one down just because you allowed someone to help you bear the burden.

 

So while you are loving and keeping busy to take care of others, be loving and caring about YOUSELF as well — because, simply, if YOU go down, who will pick up the slack?



 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Touching Base

 

The past few years has been a challenge for many of us. The pandemic, no matter which way you feel, has shut down many of our lives and cut down on social activities and family togetherness. I couldn't imagine having gone through something like this even 30 years ago before the age of computers, cell phones, and VISUAL communications. The Spanish Flu and the Polio outbreaks must have been unbearable even if one didn't get sick without the plethora of communication devices we have now.

 

When my husband and I made our move to our retirement home, it was a move about an hour and a half from where we used to live which was not too far from our children and their spouses. Even with their busy schedules, drive-by visits (even at a distance) were easy. We made our move for our needs, the area, economy, an easier life… and our offspring remained where they were for their jobs, their friends, and their homes.

 

In the beginning the distance didn't seem so great. If none of us felt like making the drive, or didn't have enough time, we could plan to meet at a mutually convenient restaurant or other venue. When the pandemic began everything closed and it's only recently that places are opening up — and even then, there are still restrictions. We have seen each other, but it certainly has been less often than we had hoped.

 

I've gotten used to a life of "video visits" and text messages, and I consider myself quite fortunate. Our kids have kept in touch with us and several times a week we get to "communicate" — sometimes it's not even in real time. I'll pick up my (cell) phone to open a message, sometimes two, from one or more. Sometimes when I am thinking of them I send a message out, or if I have something newsy to share, I can jot a note on my phone.

 

I also have nieces and nephews that I get to keep in touch with, most of them are not local enough to do a day trip. Sometimes we'll gather on ZOOM for holiday dinners. This past New Year's I got to ring in 2022 with my son and daughter-in-law, through the airwaves, and then we spent some time with my nephew and his family 1300-miles away.

 

I remember as a child mailing letters to my grandmother and receiving letters back. It was indeed contact, but the rare long-distance phone call when I got to hear her voice was so exciting. So, for now, I will certainly enjoy my electronic visits with my kids and seeing their faces and hearing their voices. Who knows, hopefully SOON we will have the time, safety and convenience of actually seeing more of each other in person.



.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Re-print of a guest post I made in 2010

 

Acckk!! Where's That List? By Chelle Cordero


Organization, or rather the extreme lack of it, is the bane of my existence. As a self-employed – and too broke to hire assistants – writer, I have to keep track of my different projects, deadlines, invoices, bills and other “I gotta do it(s)”. Organization has NEVER been my forte. I am tempted to say I thrive on chaos, but that only seems to expand the piles of papers and JUNK. sigh…

Yet to survive as a writer, or at least manage to hang on to the dream, I have to keep track of what I am doing and when it needs to be done. Sometimes it seems a bit overwhelming, but I’ve learned a few tricks.

To-do lists – very important. Not only does the list serve as a reminder of those things to be done, it also helps keep you on track. I’m sure you’ve heard the joke of the person who started out looking to address a letter, but they needed their glasses – while looking for their glasses they came across something else they meant to do, and so on until the day was over and they sat down exhausted at the table to find they never addressed or mailed the letter. I hate to admit this, but that really should be my biography, truly, that’s me.

I keep getting distracted by things I come across during my pursuit to accomplish just one thing. My to-do list helps me snap back to what I am supposed to be doing and helps me keep my focus. Besides, I leave plenty of room on the bottom of the list to write in all the things I came across to distract me so I will eventually get those done as well. And I don’t try to finish the list every day although it is nice when I’ve accomplished the bulk of it; I just copy the balance to the next day’s list.

Calendars can help keep you afloat. I carry one in my pocketbook and keep a full size one on my desk – these are regular old fashioned write on it yourself calendars. I also maintain a webmail calendar that I can set up to send me periodic email or text-to-phone reminders. Occasionally I do have to sit and coordinate each calendar to make sure I have the same info (ie: deadline dates and appointments) on each. Having a calendar at hand is a great way to make sure I am not double-booking myself or missing important dates. I also include social obligations and religious holidays since those can affect my availability. Some of my friends use the electronic calendar feature of their phones, that can work, but I prefer something I can easily look at and scribble on at will.

I keep a “project book” next to my desk. There are various methods you can use here – keep your lists individually, by date, by client (for multiple assignments) or just assign a sheet or two for each month and list an upcoming deadline appropriately. If I scheduled a blog visit, have a deadline, am hosting a blog stop, have an appointment or anything that will alter my time commitments, I list it here. This is in addition to my little note on my calendar(s). I check things off and even make a few notations about the job and or results so I can refer to it the next time I have a similar task.

When you are feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do, the stress builds and causes distractions and headaches. I work at home so my distractions may include family or neighbors, social phone calls or housework you just know has to be done. Caller ID and answering machines should be used to the fullest extent when you don’t need to be interrupted – I’ve gone so far as to turn off the ringer when I am really feeling frazzled.

As for interruptions from family, close a door or even hang a sign if there is no door saying “I am at work” and demand compliance. Plan a timed schedule for any must-do’s that you simply fee you can’t ignore and don’t devote more time than allowed. Finally, if you are really overwhelmed and stressed and reacting badly (as in you can’t seem to accomplish anything), take a break – yep, walk away from your desk and work and relax for at least fifteen minutes.

I hope you’ll find some of these helpful tips useful. For me, I am getting back to work – WHAT WAS I DOING when I thought to write this little ditty?

BTW, Just to let you know that I have since "modernized" my methods and NOW have an ALEXA on my desk to remind me of so many things... good gosh, she can really be annoying!



Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Bringing the Past and Present Together

 

We're still doing ZOOM meetings, and in a way that's really great because it allows many of us to "get together" no matter how many miles separate us.

 

I went to college at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (NYC). I was part of a terrific Theater Department. Some of our alumni went on and made careers in the theater (or movies or TV), some dabbled in other arts like writing (me!!!!), teaching, and various other lives. While some remained in the city, others scattered across the country and even around the world. And with the power of the internet and the capability of virtual meetings, we've been able to hold a couple of get-togethers face-to-face..

 

True, some of our old gang (talking figuratively, not literally) aren't present, some aren't interested, some have other obligations. But for those of us who do make it, it is a wonderful opportunity to chat and bring our friends up to date in our lives. For the hour and change we spend together it's a wonderful respite and a momentary return to our youth and dreams.

 

While we exchange tidbits about our current day lives, the changes, our joys, and in some cases worries, we seem to magically return to our old selves, the young adults who faced the world with excitement and determination. Even if we've had a long interval since we communicated and even if our contact now is relegated to occasional Facebook comments, actually having the chance to talk and laugh, share, and care about one another is an absolute boon to our lives.

 

Our school was special, maybe not really any more than others, but we felt so connected in those years and THAT made it special. We laughed at jokes that only those of us who were there can truly understand. Our college years, all school years, helped to make us who we are. These are people that we shared common interests with, we shared experiences… we grew.

 

And so to my fellow alumni, thank you for being in my life — again.



.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Invisible

There are those of us who hide invisible illness, chronic conditions, pain and fatigue as much as we can. No matter how we hide sometimes it is unavoidable and it’s frustrating when the invisibility turns you into what others may assume is a hypochondriac or just lazy. While we function at home, in jobs, with our families or running errands around town, and we don’t look for excuses…

 

But sometimes the pain or fatigue gets to us and we need a little time to recoup, to rest, to let an analgesic help a bit, or to simply catch our breath and those are the times when someone, usually well meaning, comes along and suggests that perhaps we should get to bed earlier, or keep moving to stretch the muscles, or not need so many bathroom breaks, and many more bits of advice. The truth is that no one else, unless they’ve been there, understands what we go through and sometimes it actually hurts when they tease and call us lazy or slow. These same people do mean well but unless they see a cane, a wheelchair, a placard in our car window or other aids to help a person function, they just don’t understand.

 

None of us wants to wear a banner across our chests or announce to perfect strangers what our invisible condition may be. Our invisible conditions aren’t contagious (if they are we know how to protect the people around us), they don’t make us any less of a functioning and contributing adult; some children also suffer from invisible conditions. These syndromes can make us weak, cause pain, make us dizzy, short of breath, hungry, thirsty, and make us so tired we can’t keep our eyes open. Most times we manage our symptoms and if we are lucky some of us can even forget for a brief period that we have a “condition” — maybe that’s why it’s so easy for others not to realize that sometimes the symptoms do get the best of us.

 

The following is not a complete list but includes some of the types of conditions that are not always obvious to others: depression, anxiety, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Epstein Barr, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Celiac Disease, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities, migraines, Crohn’s disease, narcolepsy, food allergies, arthritis, hypoglycemia, colitis, IBS, epilepsy, Lyme Disease, Lupus, asthma, Meniere's Disease, phobias, hyper/hypo-active thyroid, and many more. Most laypeople reading this partial list will not be familiar with most, if any, of these conditions. There are even several doctors who are unfamiliar with the presenting symptoms and there is often misdiagnosis. Sometimes the patient is even told that it is all in his/her mind.

 

While many with chronic conditions have developed coping skills and can manage work and other activities with little interruption, some people do need extra consideration, and some cannot manage to take care of their home without help or hold down jobs. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) “an individual with a disability is a person who: Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.” There may be provisions to help an individual but many of us know that if we let a potential employer know that there may be days we won’t be up to doing our jobs the chances of being hired go down, so we don’t put our invisible condition on record. …when we call out sick too many days, well you have an idea of what happens.

 

The next time you see someone waiting for an elevator just to go one floor, or parking in a handicapped spot (WITH a proper placard) but doesn’t “appear” disabled, or someone asks for help to carry something (and you can help), or even just walks slowly, please don’t be so quick to criticize. Realize that maybe that person coming out of the handicapped stall in the bathroom needed the higher seat because of a back problem. And just because you saw your co-worker dancing at the holiday party it doesn’t mean that he/she can do the walking at the company golf-outing, it just may be an off day. While admittedly there will always be someone who cheats and takes advantage, most people do what they are capable of and know when they need a little help. While some people with an invisible illness may feel comfortable in letting you know about it, they are not obligated to prove anything to you.

 

To your health! 



Wednesday, January 5, 2022

AND LOOK WHAT GROWS

During the Gregorian month of January, begins the Hebrew month of Shevat, the 11th month of the Hebrew year. Shevat this year begins the evening of January 13, 2022. The 15th day of Shevat is known as Tu B'Shevat, the Holiday (or New Year) of Trees.

 

The tree’s primary components are: the roots, which anchor it to the ground and supply it with water and other nutrients; the trunk, branches and leaves which comprise its body; and the fruit, which contains the seeds by which the tree reproduces itself.

The spiritual life of man also includes roots, a body, and fruit. The roots represent faith, our source of nurture and perseverance. The trunk, branches and leaves are the body of our spiritual lives—our intellectual, emotional and practical achievements. The fruit is our power of spiritual procreation—the power to influence others, to plant a seed in a fellow human being and see it sprout, grow and bear fruit.
(Chabad.org)

 

When Mark and I moved to our new home a few years ago, we took joy in the amount of land our home was sitting on (much bigger than our previous home). I started to take every seed I could from our fruits and vegetables and planted these around the property… I planted apple, orange, cherry, avocado, and pear pits and seeds. We got a few pine tree saplings and planted those as well. And I even replanted some acorns that had sprouted roots. I have no idea if or how long any of these will grow, but I imagine that one day someone will wake on our piece of property and face a literal forest.

 

In a discussion today about Shevat and Tu B'Shevat, I thought of the adventurous optimism that comes from planting seeds, both literal and symbolic. We plant seeds in good faith that SOMETHING will grow, maybe it will be something we expected… and then maybe not. After all, who knows if the avocado and cherry seeds will somehow grow together? And considering that I left no marking of where I buried these seeds, there could well be a surprise as to what result is achieved. There is excitement and hope that we will see the "fruit" of our labors, and I am sure there will be laughter and joy at whatever happens to sprout.

 

Isn't it so appropriate that we can compare the trees to humans? In life we stake out our personal territory, we "put our roots down", and we spread our ideas and ideals hoping that someone will be convinced and continue spreading these beliefs. We hope to stand tall and be noticeable, to protect our loved ones with our shade, to nurture our families with our fruits, and to drop our seeds to let others grow. And even if we fall or get chopped down, we hope that our form can warm and comfort others.

 

In the meanwhile, I'll keep walking our property looking for signs of growth and am both excited and hopeful at whatever may come to be.