Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

[breadcrumbs]

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Just Knead it!)

Last week our city of Los Angeles – along with many other locations – held the epic   “Great Big Challah Bake.” Many women from all over our city gathered together in a huge room to mix the ingredients of “challah” together (flour, water, salt, sugar, oil, yeast). Together as a group, we each kneaded our dough, and then separate a piece off while making the special blessing. This is considered a “mitzvah” or good deed that Jewish women do each week in preparation for the Shabbos. The purpose of the event was to kick off a weekend called The Shabbos Project. This was the first part of a weekend of togetherness where Jewish families from all walks of life celebrated Shabbat together from Friday at sundown till Saturday at sundown.

Although  I don’t make challah every week for Shabbos, I make it often enough.  But something about the experience at that “Great Big Challah Bake” inspired me.

The experience – the kneading – was invigorating. The working with the dough really felt good, somehow better than it ever felt before.

At the Challah Baking gathering with hundreds of other women, I started off with some ingredients that was prepared on a tray. (Shout out to the high school girls in our community who helped with all the preparation!).

I kneaded the mush. Some of the flour was not mixing in properly and it was a bit too gooey. Then, as I mixed more it became more cohesive and smooth, but it was a bit dry. So I added a tiny bit more oil to get it to be just the right moisture. And then I kneaded and mixed, and tossed and turned it.

Then I let it sit and rise. I was chatting with the people at my table and  listening to the inspiring speakers.  When I took a look again, it had risen quite a bit!

I took the dough home, braided it, let it rise again, and baked it. When we  ate it all the next night, it was better than challah I’d made in a long time.

challah

And I recalled my mother telling me back in the day, “You really have to work with the dough. The more you work with it, the better it comes out.” And she’s right. (Didn’t they always tell us, “mother is always right?”)

But seriously, to me this is a huge lesson for life. The kneading and mixing of that dough is an analogy to the situations we find ourselves in throughout our lives.

When I have challenges in life, it’s helpful to work with what I’ve got and try to improve things (rather than complain!). Kind of like manipulating things, trying a creative idea, turning it over in my head, and then just letting it sit for awhile.

Then I turn around and the situation is (often) better.  Hey, everything seems easier – lighter and fluffier – to deal with, braid and then form into a delicious result, after letting things sit for awhile.

Like those small things that I sweat (sometimes): The argument with a spouse, the pain in the foot, the sadness at moving away, the adult child’s poor choice, the difficulty dealing with a colleague, the feeling snubbed by someone, the guilty feeling of saying the wrong thing, and on and on.

How many of these things can be worked with creatively rather than mixing them in the same old way every time?

And how often can we just let the stuff sit and sit until it rises ever so slowly but surely to a higher and lighter texture?

I don’t know. For me, the challah preparation is so much more than an exercise in doing a mitzvah that Jewish women have been doing for centuries. It’s so much more than exercising my fingers and healing my arthritis.

It’s a reminder to me for working through the stuff in our life, without sweating it all. Just work with it. Then let it sit. Rise. And then stick it in that oven to bake.

Sometimes I’m really surprised at the great results.


Eight Personal Miracles of 2014

I’ve been invited by the very creative writer Renee Schuls-Jacobson to post today, on the 2nd day/3rd candle of Hanukkah. Renee was given my name by Rivki Silver, another amazing blogger.  (Thanks, Rivki!) Anyway, this special activity where a bunch of bloggers (eight to be exact!) are each posting on a different day is called Hanukkah Hooplah!

And…in honor of Hanukkah Hooplah, I have a really important announcement to make:

I, Miriam, mother/grandmother/MIL blogger, am  taking  a BREAK  from blogging about my BREAK.  You know? My ankle break? Yeah. That one.

So? What does non-blogging about something have to do with Chanukah?

Bear with me as I explain:  Chanukah  commemorates miracles that happened to the Jewish people. Right? And  my ankle healing story (which began back in February)  would have been a really cool miracle for me to write about here. Kind of like my own personal miracle, right?

Good things a-coming

A BREAK FROM MY BREAK!

The problem is that I’ve  blogged  enough about the break of my ankle and  its ramifications. I’ve written about my convalescence and recovery here; my seeing the bright side  here and my gratitude for kindness and G-d’s miracles here.

I’ve written stuff here. And here. As they say in Hebrew: Maspik. Enough. Finished.

Not that anyone’s complained about my constant talking and writing and blogging about my ankle. No. People are very nice  and they listen to me. Still, Chanukah is my time to realize  that it’s not all about me about my  foot.  That miracles are really all around us at all times. And we don’t only have to break a leg – and then get better – to see them.

Just because my broken foot, in all its glory of swelling and redness and painfulness led me to see the light in a dark situation,  doesn’t mean I have to blag (that’s blab and blog) about my foot all the time.

Just because   as a result my foot healing,  I am a more grateful woman and just because I’m now  thrilled with little things like for example, uh…walking with two feet, and having almost no pain or stiffness anymore in my ankle, doesn’t mean I have to blag on and on about said foot and its healing.

So just to reiterate:  I’m NOT talking about my foot anymore. Got that? Good.

exclamation-mark-white-13658752462hm1NOT talking about foot!!

Okay! So, today, in this post I’m talking only about 8 other miracles of going from dark times to light times  in my life.

Because Chanukah is celebrating the light in the dark. The one small bit of oil that miraculously lasted for 8 days, and created so much light.

My miracles were the kind  that while they were  going on, I didn’t realize anything significant was happening. But  when I looked back weeks or months later, I thought “hey, I can’t believe the good that came out of that event  – what a miracle.”  I bet some of you can relate.  Over time, things have evolved in your life that represent a  remarkable change from dark to light.

Gradually evolved good stuff that makes us all happy and surprised  at one time.

slide-3Happy and Surprised!

Many of the Eight miracles below have occurred gradually. Knowing they have happened helps me see the light in the darkness with newer challenges that come my way.

Here they are (not in any particular order.)

Good-bye to my annoying mother-in-law behaviors. Some time after I broke my ankle was injured last February, which happened to be around the time that one of our sons got married, someone asked me about my new daughter-in-law. My response was “What? Who?” I seriously forgot that my son had gotten married. I was so absorbed in my pain and frustration of the broken ankle situation, that I forgot to be a mother-in-law! To me, this was a huge miracle that evolved over time. Hello! Who FORGETS to be a nagging mother-in-law? And my darling son and DIL (all three of them) got benefits  from my injury in that I left them alone for all those months. How cool (for those newlyweds)  is that?

milhoodladies2Boy, she looks like a mean mother-in-law, doesn’t she?

I got to keep my job.  When I did not work (because of my injury, I mean situation) at the hospice agency where I’d provided music therapy for clients for the past 7 years,  I worried I would not be able to work anymore. Thankfully, I returned to work, and the position was still available after so many months.

Son cured from  illness.  One of our married sons had headaches (which actually began last Chanukah 2013).  When they  didn’t subside, he went to the doctor for CT scans, which were negative. Then one day, he felt other strange symptoms. He checked into the hospital where they took more tests and after several brain scans and spinal MRI’s, he was diagnosed with an auto-immune illness (the antibodies created to kill the headache virus, attacked his spine), affecting certain functions.  But now after many months he is miraculously out of the woods, and has very slowly swung back to his regular self,  to the joy of his wife and children, and all of us. Thank G-d!

Layoff had happy ending. Early this year,  my husband’s software company laid off all employees. While this was a big shock, it turned out to be for the better, because after almost 2 months of looking for a job, my husband got a better job with better conditions. Looking back, we realize now that  his losing the first job led to a miracle of a much better job. (And…as an added benefit while I was in bed because of The Miracle that Shall Not Be Named, he was around to help me while he was temporarily laid off!)

Attended my father’s funeral (yes, that attendance was a miracle..read on).  My father recently passed away at the age of  88.  Sadly, I was not able to visit him during the final 9 months of his illness because I was not allowed to fly (from California where I live, to New York)- due to my situation. But,  when we got the call after the Shabbos that followed Rosh Hashanah this year that my dear father had passed away , I was already weight-bearing (medicalese for standing and moving on my feet). And so, I was able to attend my father’s funeral the next day in NY. A pure miracle, considering the fact that I had been immobile my situation.

No more sweating the small stuff.   I find that I don’t sweat the small stuff as much as I used to. Unfortunately, it took having several serious hardships  for me to get my priorities straight.

Grandma and kids on wheels

Medical scare with happy ending thank G-d – I found a lump about a year ago and to say I was terrified would be an understatement. It was over a Holiday weekend and I couldn’t reach my gynecologist. By the time I went to his office on the Monday, I was in tears. Hysterical. Thinking the worst. My doctor (who knows me for many years, having delivered almost all of my children), calmed me down, sent me for a biopsy. Diagnosis: Infection. Miracle of miracles. Antibiotics for 5 days and I was good as new.

New baby grandson.  Several weeks ago, our son  and daughter-in-law had a new baby.  Mazel Tov. Thank G-d.

Gentle now...k?

So there you have it: The 8 personal miracles that my family and I have  experienced as gifts from G-d. Sometimes it takes having all kinds of tzoros for us to really appreciate stuff.

And to think that I wrote this entire post without  mentioning my broken ankle even one time! Wow.  What a miracle.

Ummm.  Almost. Sort of…

 My question to you: What ONE miracle of a really dark situation that turned to light has occurred to you this past year?  Write a comment below describing a DARK to LIGHT situation in your life. The winner will receive a GIVEAWAY of my book mailed to them. All residents of the U.S. are eligible.

To win a copy of my book  please leave an AWESOME comment below sharing a  miracle  that you experienced  in the past year.

Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! The Joys and Oys of Being a Mother, Mother-in-law, and Grandmother   makes a great Hanukkah gift!

HAPPY CHANUKAH  TO ALL and may all your challenges be miraculously overcome! Leave a comment below, telling about one of them!

And oh! Click on this  Hanukkah Hooplah menorah right here– go ahead. Click on it to  get to the other 7 blogger gals’ posts about Chanukah too.

I’m participating in a #HanukkahHoopla with 7 other Jewish bloggers. In the spirit of the season, we’re giving 8 gifts to 8 fabulous commenters. Click on  Hanukkah Hoopla menorah above to be magically transported to the schedule where you’ll find links to visit other fabulous writers and increase your chances of winning holiday cyber-swag!

 Photo Credits: Exclamation point graphic- publicdomainpics.net.  #Hanukkahhoopla Graphic: Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson.  All other photos property of Miriam Hendeles.


This Test is Too Hard!… Or is it?

Life is a Test

By Miriam Hendeles (lyrcis); Jana Stanfield (music); Vocals and recording Arthur Kaufman

Remember when we were in school as kids and a teacher gave a really challenging test? I’m thinking about a particular math teacher in high school who always created questions with a little bit of trickiness in them. You may have another teacher in mind.

But we all have memories of tough teachers, don’t we? How did we handle it?

Careful studying. Practicing. Understanding.

AND SINGING

Singing is Fun!

Singing is Fun!

Singing? Yup. I sang a lot of my material while studying. I created mnemonics to tricky problems and formulas and I would recite them in my mind and make up lyrics to familiar songs.

 

I believe other people do the same thing. I’m not unique in that way. Studies have shown how music can enhance memory.

Life is a lot like that. Sometimes things are easy and we coast along, figuring stuff out with our lovely children and spouses.

familyirvine-001

Also  financial situations, relationships and so forth. Other times things get a  little bit tricky and we just want to scream out how unfair it all is.

IT’S NOT FAIR. THIS IS NOT THE COURSE I SIGNED UP FOR!

Singing is one way I have coped through the ups and downs of life.

I’ve been around the block a few times in my life, with stuff that I’ve gone through. Most of that I don’t write about in my blog, because I try to keep this blog upbeat and fun. Hey, it’s about the joys (and oys) of being a grandmother, and how challenging can that be?

mountainkids

Climbing mountains! That’s fun for us!

But, there have been tests over the years. Way before I became a mother-in-law, grandmother. I’m a middle aged person (sounds really old, but I don’t feel that way!), and  my husband and I have gone through raising a family of sons, marrying off three of them, thank G-d, and the various ups and downs of life.

Last year, our second son came down with a new (to us) virus, which affected his spinal chord and he was diagnosed with an illness called transverse myelitis. Needless to say, he, his lovely wife,  my husband and I and the rest of our family, went through a lot to be there for him. Thank G-d, 9 months later, he’s much better. But he’s not out of the woods yet. He still needs prayers, (Avraham ben Miriam is his Hebrew name for praying).

I broke my ankle almost 7 months ago, and I’m much better, thank G-d, but not out of the woods yet. Soon I will be.

Through all this, and other stuff, we thank G-d for our blessings, we enjoy our lives, and we continue to sing.

Sometimes the words and the structure of the song combined with the melody inspires us to focus on important concepts inherent in the lyrics. If the same words were spoken or heard, we may not get them. But by singing and playing them, we get the message stronger. The music accesses our heart as well as our mind.

Recently, I composed a song called “Life’s a Test” (play above in post) – (lyrics by yours truly) to address this theme of doing our best in life, studying as hard as we can, and trusting that G-d will do the rest.

So the next time, you have a difficult exam, whether it is a school – or life — challenge, try singing! It may be just what you need!

Check out the song above, “Life’s a Test” and let me know how it helps you!

For more information about music therapy, please visit the music therapy website,  http://www.musictherapy.org

  • Lyrics by Miriam Hendeles, MT-BC; Lyrics adapted for instructional and sharing (non-profit) purposes to Jana Stanfield‘s music –

“How Beautiful”  by Jana Stanfield and Jerry Krimbrough; (used with permission for instructional purposes only).

(http://www.janastanfield.com)

-Vocals and Recording by Arthur Kaufmann of Magic Key Productions – Cedar City, Utah (http://www.redrockrecords.com)

Non-photo images above: Credit http://www.publicdomainpics.net

“The reason my co-writers and I write these songs is so that people will hear them, use them, and enjoy them. There are very few radio stations out there that play this kind of music, so please be our DJ’s.” — Jana Stanfield (on her website, 2012).

 


As Long As I Live

This is truly a book that I cannot put down. I’m so excited to write about it, that I’m breaking the standard rule of book reviews: finish the book first. Actually you don’t need to bite into an apple to know if it is good, is how I feel about this book which details the life of Aharon Margalit, who suffered challenges and disabilities throughout his life, and never gave up. This is a man who held his head up high, recovered from every challenge, rose above it, and became a great man by anyone’s standards. He overcame a speech defect, survived living in a sanatorium with humor and wit, and learned to walk without crutches in spite of having polio as a child.

There are more amazing things this man accomplished, but I won’t write them here, mostly because I have not reached those parts yet in the book! (and also because I wouldn’t want to give away the ending!).

In any case, everyone should purchase this book written from the point of view of the protagonist, a man who has courage and strength that has inspired thousands of people around the world. The book was translated from Hebrew to English, and the original title was “Ethalech,” which means “I will go on…as long as I live” – a verse from Tehillim (psalms).

Have a wonderful weekend, full of inspiration and acts of courage.


Glow in the Dark

My grandson came over for a barbecue last night with his Mommy and Daddy and little brother.  We were standing outside the house, and I noticed his new shoes peeking out from under the bottom of his pants. I said, “Hey, you have new shoes!”  And he answered, ‘Ya, and they light up? See?”

And then he stomped his right foot a few times on the sidewalk, and I saw some little red light flash.  I said, “Wow! That’s so cool! And what happens at night?”

“They glow in the dark!”

Continue reading


Riding the Waves

Troubles. Tzores. (Hebrew). Problems. Issues. Many words have been used over the years to describe human suffering. Tonight at sundown marks the beginning of a nine-day stretch of enforced mourning  (no eating meat, no swimming for many, no music, or weddings) by the Jewish people for the 2nd Temple, which was destroyed 1,932 years go by the Romans. The Jewish people pray every day for the coming of the Messiah (Moshiach), when suffering will end, and the Holy Temple will be rebuilt.

In the meantime, how do we deal? (a new phrase I’ve picked up…). How do we cope with our suffering? Well, this week I took a drive to the Pacific Ocean with my family – about 12 miles from my home, and we watched the waves in the late afternoon before sundown. We breathed in the ocean air.

Continue reading


Wrap-around a Word

Last week I blogged about sandwiches, or the so-called sandwich generation of which I am a part of.  That generation that is faced with pressures (hence the squishy sandwich between two breads)  from two groups of loved ones, parents and children. Now, while sandwiches have always been a basic staple of childhood and life, and therefore worthy of being used as the prototype metaphor for an eager writer attempting to convey an idea, I find a new trend these days in “food’ as well as ‘food-used-as-metaphor.’

Enter the Wrap.

The wrap is a new concept. Rather modern. Think tuna wraps, avocado wraps, vegetable wraps, and any-food-you-want-to-display wrap. Wraps are those thin, flaky, not-so-tasty beige, green or orange coverings that replace the regular white, whole wheat, pumpernickel, or rye bread slices for making a sandwich.  You just wrap the flaky dough around the food, and voila! You have a pretty sandwich. Continue reading


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