Thursday, December 07, 2006

Quick Update

Hello from a long lost blogger friend!

Life has been very busy and an emotional roller coaster! First let me say that mom is doing very well! She had her 3rd round of chemo yesterday and they increased the dosage because she is tolerating it so well. Thank God!

Been working fast and furious on my son's upcoming Bar Mitzvah in February. We just completed his Mitzvah Project, where he collected and shipped 450 pounds of products that are needed by the Bri Bri Natives of Costa Rica We depart for that wonderful country next week for 10 days, so I am trying to get as much done as possible for his big day before we leave!

I think about all of you often, and hope your lives are filled with love, joy, laughter and peace.
Thank you for your continued support!

Monday, October 23, 2006

What a Journey... (An update on Mom)

I am happy to say that Mom made it through the surgery! They removed all "visible" cancer, but were very worried about how fast growing and aggressive it is, and therefore started her on chemo last night, 4 nights after her surgery. She now has a 21 day rest and recovery period. Hopefully in that time, she will surgically heal, and emotionally, get ready for the fight of her life! Just wanted to let you know.....

Friday, October 06, 2006

So WHERE is God?

I can't believe I am writing this, let alone being public about this, but I feel the need for some religious support right now. We just found out that my dear Mom has Stage III Ovarian Cancer, and we are in the throws of "cancer hell". You've seen my writings about my journeys with God, and now here I stand on the precipice of faith, leaning back towards my old anger and denial, and I know I have a choice this time. So tell me, where is God? In this pain that my family is going through, how do I FEEL God, his/her presence? I can say a million Mi'Sheberachs, but somehow the bottom feels as if it's dropped out....again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Out of the journey... comes awareness

It's funny how you can look at something every day of your life, and not really see it.

When my mother moved out of the home that she and my father (of blessed memory) shared for 38 years, she passed several things on to me. Amongst them were photo albums, gorgeous black and white wedding photos from the 1920's, and my grandfather's tallit. Due to lack of space, the photo albums were put away in a cabinet after I shared them with my husband and children, and I placed the tallit on my dresser, because the pretty case it was in made a lovely "Jewish" piece of art. So there it sat, unexamined, and unappreciated.

I am now two weeks in to my B'Nai Mitzvah program, and some time after the first week, all of the sudden, almost as if for the very first time, I saw that I had my grandfather's tallit. I was struck by the fact that I had something besides his menorah (which my mother gave to me when I got married). I suddenly felt linked to the Judaism in my family, and to my Jewish ancestory, as never before. While my grandfather was a 2nd generation American from Poland, he died when I was very young, and I have never known what kind of "Jew" he was. I do know what kind of husband and father he was, and therefore I have less than adoring feelings for the man himself. However, here was his tallit in this lovely velvet pouch, with beautiful hand stitching on it, and the initals R.F. in the middle of a Jewish Star surounded by a floral design. One has to wonder who in the world R.F. was, as no one in my family has those initials according to my mother! I'm sure there is a fascinating story there somewhere, and those who are interested in geneaology (and family skeletons) would urge me to pursue it I'm sure! However, my interests lie elsewhere. Can I take the tallit out of the velveteen home it's known for all these years (I haven't done so yet) and put it on my shoulders? Can I separate the low opinions I have of the person who donned it in prayer, and cherish it merley for the link it is to my heritage?

Perhaps there is a lesson here to comtemplate during the Days of Awe. A lesson for me in learning to be more forgiving.....and not passing judgement (although hard not to do in this case) on someone who will never be able to speak for himself.

Mostly, I am aware, that since I began my journey, I am becoming more aware.

Shanah Tovah to all!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Million Mondays

A million Mondays have come and gone.
Where Sunday night I said: "tomorrow I'll be strong"
I'll tackle this challange one day at a time,
Now the only thing I have to show for it, is this pathetic rhyme!

Why can't I do it, stick with it to the end?
Ride the current of excitement,
Enjoy the results around the bend?

Each day I delay adds more to the problem.
Where did that spark go, that strength and resolve?
So easy to give in with a million excuses,
All of my determination so easily dissolved.

I need some support from my blogging friends,
I need to drop 10 before December's end!
If I'm a month or two off, that will be ok,
'Cause February is the month that holds the big day!

So please share your secrets.....
Your means of reaching an end,
Have you ever experienced a million Mondays?
How did you transcend?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"The Boys are Back in Town"

Every June, on the last day of school, you can find my husband belting out Alice Cooper's lyrics to "School's Out for Summer!!!", and see smiles the size of the Grand Canyon on the faces of my kids.

Today however, I will (forgive me) paraphrase Thin Lizzy's song and say "The Boys are Back in School, the Boys are Back in Schoooooollll"!

Now don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but like I said on my second blog, when they start to fight, (not that the end of summer is the ONLY time they fight) I know that the lazy days of summer have reached their end it's time for them to go back to school! Time for routine, time for them to always be able to see their friends, time for exercise to be a required part of every week day, and time for mom to have some peace and quiet!

When my oldest was in first grade, a group of us moms and husbands started celebrating the first day of school by meeting for coffee at a local coffee house. Each year, we have continued that tradition, where we meet up, talk about the crisis's and moods of earlier that morning, whose child has what class and what teacher, who is psyched, and who is freaked out. We support each other's fears, concerns and dreams for our children. Being the routine and tradition lover that I am (with a nod to us Virgos), I look forward to this day with great anticipation and with a flood of memories of past gatherings. This morning was as special as the past nine years, and I am grateful that we have another 5 years or so to celebrate the First Day of School again!

The best news? Both of my guys had a great first day, neither have "horrible" teachers, and they are both looking forward to a great year! Let the fun begin!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Like There is no Tomorrow

It is said that we should live, love and dance like there is no tommorow......

Therefore, I have made a decision in my life that will result in me having one less regret, if God forbid, tomorrow doesn't come.

I have decided to become a B'Nai Mitzvah. Back in the 70's, even in reform Judaism, my rabbi did not believe in girls becoming Bat Mitzvah - my first introduction to male chauvinism. I was confirmed, but did not learn Hebrew and therefore was not able to lead my congregation in prayer. Therefore, I have always felt that there was a part of me that was missing, because as Jewish as I felt, I was still at a loss when in temple. Over the years, through osmosis and repitition, I have learned some of the prayers, but most often, I don't feel confident. Most of the time, even when I am reading the transliteration, I might as well be reading "pig latin"!

.....but will I feel different?

When I was young, I was passionate about God and Judaism. I wrote poetry, I was active in the temple youth group, I proudly wore my Jewish star around my neck, I had a definite relationship with God and in essence, I had faith. When I was a 14, my best friend who was one of God's angels on earth, had a tragic accident, was in a coma, had a major medical setback and became a "vegetable" (horrible term isn't it?) for the next four years until she died. I was angry, oh so angry, and right then and there I gave up my faith, preferring to believe in the power of people, versus God.

What a tragic loss.....

I am nine years old. It is Sunday, and I am at religious school. I leave my classroom to go find the Rabbi. He sees me, I am crying, and he kneels down to talk to me. I tell him that I love God so much, that I want to become Orthodox. He tells me he will give me a list of books he wants me to read about being Orthodox, that I should take the list home to my mother, read the books, then decide if that is what I want to do. There is no further memory, except to say, that I'm not even sure if I read the books. The point being, there I was, this passionate young child, so at one with God, with my religion, so proud, so unaware of the test of faith that was yet to come.

That I failed.....

It astounds me to this day to realize that I had a choice to make. That I didn't need to completely shut God out and give up everything I had felt for so long. It was as if someone told me that I was no longer to speak English, and I had to start speaking Spanish. I just did it, and never looked back. I was angry, and there was no one there to explain to me that this was a test of faith, and that faith means hanging in there even when you don't understand why something so horrible could happen, when you feel betrayed and let down, when you feel you've had your world stolen from you, when you're angry. It never seemed to be an option, to keep believing, to keep my faith in tact, and to not blame God. Years later, I read Rabbi Kushner's books, I was in therapy, I was able to let go of most of my anger, and I came to realize that God was not the reason I loss my friend. I came to see God not as the cause and preventor of all things. More as the source of comfort when things do happen.

It has been a long journey back....

When we had our children, as is typical of so many mixed marriages, all of the sudden my religion, my relationship with God came to the forefront of my life again. It mattered. I wanted my children to be raised Jewish, and so when my oldest was six, we decided to make our home a Jewish one. The issues and struggles I have around my children and religion are matter for another posting. So let me go back to the B'Nai Mitzvah. Here I am, about to embark on a two year experience, of learning a great deal about Judaica, history, Torah and more. I am excited to learn all of that, even if it means getting out of bed early on most Sunday mornings from now until June of '08! I am petrified, and I really mean petrified, about my ability to learn Hebrew, to read it and to make sense of it! The good news is, I will read and speak "with my class" at our B'Nai Mitzvah service, so my errors won't be that glarinly obvious! Also, I have to remember that at the age of 32, I learned to speak Japanese, so I must have some ability to learn other languages!

....but will I feel different?

There is a large part of me that wonders if I will ever be able to recover the passionate feelings I had when I was young. In speaking with my rabbi recently, I told him of my test of faith, and how sad I am that I don't feel that way any more. He offered that perhaps I had never really mourned the loss of the innocent, naieve passion of a young person, because I was so busy trying to deal with the loss of my friend. Focusing on the smaller picture versus the larger picture. There seems to be some sense to that. He also reminded me that there are all kinds of Jews, those who believe in God, those who feel more connected to Judaism by heritage and culture, and many combinations in between.

how it feels today....

These days, I do have a relationship with God. I do talk to him (a sort of asexual "him"), an edgy, testy, are you listening, do you know I'm here - remember the book: "Are you there God, it's me, Margaret" kind of dialogue. I feel God mostly when I am out in nature, and I do experience miracles, of which I always express gratitude for. But I long for that 100% faith, that total passion, that feeling that someone or something (other than my parents back then and my husband and children now) was watching out for me and taking care of me. It seems that since that time, I have never been able to summon up the same kind of passion for anything in life, and that leaves me feeling sad.

...but will I feel different?

My brain (which is in a protective, defensive mode right now) tells me that even though I am becoming a B'Nai Mitzvah, that my relationship with God will not change. My heart is telling me to stay open, let whatever happens, happen, and not to have expectations.

Just to enjoy the dance, like there is no tomorrow!