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

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My Expression of Gramma-Tude

Life is hard and complicated and I find myself complaining about stuff to my husband,  friend or two, relative, my mom,  sister(s), my husband (oh, did I mention him already?) or anyone who will listen.

But other times, I just feel a surge of gratitude for the blessings in my life. And at those times I write. This happened a few weeks ago when I wrote an article for Binah Magazine about my gratitude or “Gramma-tude” for my life as a grandmother.

And a special shout out to Ruchi Koval of  Outoftheorthobox.com, whose insight constantly inspires me, and whose anecdote is part of this article.

Please click on the photos below to view the article. Or print them out for easier reading…


Thumbs Up to 10 Blogging Buddies

thumbs-up

As we enter the New Year of 2016,  I thank a group of  people who enrich my life with their insights and creativity. They enlighten me with their humor and spirituality. And they inform me with their knowledge and wit.

Most of these women are  younger than me; some are older and a few are just about my age and stage. Whether they blog about parenting, spirituality, grandparenting, midlife issues, world events,  religion or anything else…their sharing of ideas online  has improved my life.

Without further ado, I wish a Happy 2016 t0 the following talented bloggers (listed below in alphabetical order).

1.

An Empowered Spirit. Cathy Chester

From writing and advocating for those who have multiple sclerosis to bringing a positive angle from events….to teaching us the value of friendship and love….kindness and creativity to her friends and acquaintances…to reminiscing about oldies in movies, books and culture…to sharing exciting happenings in showbiz and musicals…..and how to age with grace and love and humor, and mindfulness….Cathy’s prose always inspires, hits the spot. Her ideas expressed on popular sites  and her personal blog resonate with spirituality and her words sing with just the right tones and beats, encouraging us all to find the beauty in the everyday lives we lead. Cathy’s blog has garnered a great deal of public attention, winning numerous awards, especially in her capacity as an advocate for people with disabilities.  One of these days, Cathy and I will meet – hopefully sooner than later.

2.

Cycling Grandma. Lisa Winkler.

Lisa and I began as grandmother friends as we both have grandma blogs and found each other online. Pretty soon we were swapping stories and grandchildren cute antics through email and some posts. Eventually, we actually met IRL when Lisa came to Los Angeles last year. Lisa is a woman of many passions: bike riding (“cycling”), knitting, play scripting,  teaching, stimulating her grandchildren’s growing minds, reading, traveling, and of course writing (I’m sure I left out a lot!).   I consider Lisa a dear and supportive friend who has given me many tools and tips for coping in my personal and professional life.

3.

Empty House Full Mind. Sharon Greenthal.

Sharon is one of  the founders of  Midlife Boulevard, a community of women who blog.  I joined that group a few years ago and met some like-minded and similar-staged friends. Sharon’s posts on her personal blog and other online platforms cover versatile topics including being a “mentsch” in social media, dealing with empty nest syndrome, perspectives on marriage, relating appropriately to adult children, and appreciating the good in our middle aged lives.  Sharon’s subjects are relatable and timely but always with an original twist that keeps me entertained and enlightened.  Her material is a reality check reminding me to laugh, relax and enjoy the ride. Sharon recently  became a columnist on About.com as their  expert in young adult parenting.  Thanks, Sharon!

4.

Friend for the Ride. Barbara Younger.

Barbara, a fellow grandmother was one of the first people that I met as a blogger. Barbara ran a guest post of mine and the rest is history.  Recently when I had a health scare that related to  menopause, Barbara gave me the encouragement I needed (and everything worked out well thank G-d!). You see, menopause –and everything tangentially related to it – is Barbara’s niche and expertise. Barbara is a hoot and expresses  serious medical topics with refreshing humor and candidness. Barbara’s bravery and optimism along with the accurate information that she posts are what attracted me to her blog. Her stories about being a grandmother and mom who juggles the sandwich generation are always relatable. Thank you, Barbara for being there.

5.

Grandma’s Briefs. Lisa Carpenter.

Lisa’s blog struck me from the beginning as the consummate “Grandmother Blog.” I loved the way Lisa gave her grandsons anonymous “bloggie” names on the blog. (Check them out on her blog in the sidebar). Lisa’s sense of humor, down to earth writing and really professional layout are what got me coming back. Lisa’s recent subjects on her blog have been movie reviews, combatting weight gain around holiday time, and other family matters. Lisa is the coordinator of an event where bloggers contribute their best post in one spot. She calls it the Grand Social and holds it weekly, inviting other grandmothers to submit their links on any topic (even non-grandmother topics – just no sales).  Lisa loves traveling and can often be found visiting her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in nearby Arizona. Check out some of those fabulous photos and videos  she takes of her grandsons. Thanks, Lisa for the inspiration.

6.

L.ife in the Married Lane. Rivki Silver.

Rivki, SAHM mother of four, musician of too many instruments to count (clarinet, piano, saxophone and more) published writer, and performer,  blogs (in her free time…) a potpourri of ideas including Judaism, parenting, music, marriage,  motherhood and general “of interest” subjects.  Whether she’s covering serious or funny topics, Rivki’s writing is both engaging and gripping.  Check out some of  Rivki’s published posts and amazing you-tube videos where she articulates thoughts on spiritual growth and healthy priorities. Enjoy her musical selections such as “Ode to a Cosmic Carrot” that she’s composed and arranged. Rivki’s story about her spiritual journey and her gifts at combining technology,  spirituality and art with down-to-earth topics, inspire me to personal growth.  Thanks, Rivki!

7.

Nina Badzin, Writer.

In the beginning I read Nina’s blog to gain insight from an accomplished writer and blogger. I saw how vast her publishing experience was and I wanted to learn from her. But soon I realized that I was learning more about character traits and relationships than about knowledge on how to write. Nina has an intuitive sense of honing in on a theme and  is the go-to person for  how to navigate the complexities of social media;  I read her  friendship advice column and am amazed how spot-on she is. Nina seems to get so much done in a day that often I’m dizzy (in a good way) after reading her posts. From Challah baking groups to the myriad books she devours and reviews…. to the creative things she does with her cute kids, to her ambitious yet pragmatic outlook, I’m constantly inspired. But what I most enjoy about Nina’s writing is her solid voice with a sense of who she is and who she aspires to be. We can all identify with her  practical and sensible advice that always has a positive and hopeful tone. Keep teaching, Nina and thanks!

8.

Out of the Orthodox Box. Ruchie Koval.

Ruchie Koval’s blog’s title is reflective of her mission to bring Orthodox Judaism out of the box or to demystify the customs and practices of Orthodox Judaism for the Jews of all ages, affiliations and levels. Besides being the the author of the newly published book, Conversations With God,  her articulate posts offer perspectives on hosting unaffiliated guests for Shabbat meals  , a young Orthodox girl’s  conviction to wear a skirt for gymnastics, Orthodox Jewish women covering their hair after marriage, parenting, and relationships. Ruchi and her husband are the dynamic team who run the Cleveland program of Jewish Family Experience or  JFX, an organization for Jewish outreach. They, their seven children and staff  bring  Jewish people back to their roots through lectures, programs, entertainment and trips to Israel. With raw honesty and sincerity,  Ruchi breaks down complex issues into little understandable bites. Thanks, Ruchi.

9.

Rebecca Klempner’s Blog.

Rebecca Klempner, my IRL friend before my blogging friend,  was the one who got me motivated to get into blogging. She is the mother of four, science fiction fiend, and talented author of children’s book. Additionally, she has published anthology collections online and on the website Tablet magazine, and countless short stories and essays. A regular contributor to several print magazines and periodicals, Rebecca has become the go-to person in our community for knowing the ins and outs of the publishing world. Rebecca’s blog is about writing including her journey as a writer, her writing process, struggles and successes in composing essays and novels, news about her new publications, and general tips on writing for all of us readers. I always learn about the industry and the craft of writing when spending time with Becca or reading her blog.

10.

Renee Jacobson’s Blog.

Talented artist and painter, writer, blogger, lover of cute hats,  Renee and I met when she organized a Hannukkah Hoopla blogging event for a group of bloggers in December 2014. After that, we became fast Face-book friends (love that alliteration…) and Renee even painted a set of colorful canvases (!) for my new kitchen. Renee’s creativity in fashion, writing and teaching are only a small part of who she is. I’m happy to have met Renee online and look forward to meeting one day! Maybe you’ll come out to LA and give an art workshop. Who knows?

 

My wish for the coming year is that we continue to enjoy to gain inspiration through reading, writing and sharing our thoughts. Happy 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My Takeaways from Chanukah Music

happy-hanukkah-holiday-text

While lighting the first candle of the Chanukah menorah this evening, my husband sang the traditional hymn “Maoz Tsur” song with my accompaniment on the piano.  After the guys left  to eat the latkes, I continued, playing almost the entire book of Chanukah music.

Chanukah is a holiday that holds a great deal of meaning for me, and so it’s no coincidence that its music puts me into a good mood. Although there aren’t oodles of  songs out there for Chanukah, the Chanukah songs we sing are representative of deep and relevant themes.  Catchy melodies are set in major keys, evoking a peppy, uplifting and happy spirit.

Growing up in NY I heard Christmas Holiday songs while shopping with my mom during the winter holidays season,.  These childhood memories come in handy nowadays as a music therapist, when I sing and play music in nursing homes.  After all, my gentile clients are not so interested in Hava Nagila or Chanukah songs.  Why should they be? So I take out my green and red anthology of Holiday music, and I play for them on my instrument.  Many of the tunes are familiar and I play by ear.  Others are not, so I  sight-read the music and I’m good to go.

But, in  real life I’m a Jewish mom and mother-in-law (and little girl at heart) who loves her Jewish Chanukah songs. The ones that my first piano teacher, Miss Miller taught me when I was in 4th grade to improvise on the piano with cool arrangements.

The songs our family sang every year  and the melodies that my children sang and performed in school plays.

The tunes my husband and sons and I sang at the top of our lungs while any one of our piano lesson-ed sons played the piano.

Each of those compositions has a message. The lyrics resonate with relevant themes today in modern times, although many were  composed decades or centuries ago.

Many Chanukah songs were originally composed for young children – often in pre-school – but the tunes are endearing. so even adults enjoy them. The messages are timeless, ageless, conveying themes that encompass all our lives whatever our age and stage.

Here are a few of my favorite Chanukah Songs.  Click on the links and enjoy the music provided on videos. For more Chanukah songs, see this anthology

Dreidel Song – when I hear or play this song I think of happy children spinning their “tops” (dreidel in Yiddish, sevivon in Hebrew) while the lights of the menorah are burning. I think of the warmth and security of the children and the blessings we have while G-d watches over us in our homes. I think of how the children during the time of the Maccabees had to hide in caves and pretend to play these games while the Romans showed up suddenly. Anything but to study their Torah forbidden by the Romans.

top

English version
I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay.
And when it’s dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, then dreidel I shall play.
It has a lovely body, with legs so short and thin.
When it gets all tired, it drops and then I win!
Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, with leg so short and thin.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, it drops and then I win!
My dreidel’s always playful. It loves to dance and spin.
A happy game of dreidel, come play now let’s begin.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, it loves to dance and spin.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel. Come play now let’s begin.
I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay.
When it’s dry and ready, dreidel I shall play.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of clay.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, then dreidel I shall play.

Maoz Tsur – the timeless song of the Maccabees’ fight for freedom. I think of the concept of victory of few against the masses, when it is meant to be and when G-d is on our side. I think of hope, faith and courage in the face of troubles and storms. I think of perseverance and doing what’s right and what’s true to ourselves.

English:
Rock of Ages let our song,
Praise thy saving power;
Thou amidst the raging foes,
Wast our sheltering tower.

Furiously they assailed us,
But Thine arm availed us
And Thy word broke their sword,
When our own strength failed us.
And Thy word broke their sword,
When our own strength failed us.

Oy Chanukah, Oy Chanukah – When I listen to this song (it’s usually sung in Yiddish, so I’m not so good at the words!), and then play it on the piano (too difficult for the harp so far!), I think of the happiness in the air during Chanukah. The festivities. The celebrations. The donuts, the potato pancakes. The celebration of the little tiny oil that lasted for 8 days, the gratitude we have for all that is good, because even though there is darkness in this world (for sure!), there is that little light that illuminates our world, and we can make that happen. That’s what I think of when hearing the words to this song.

Oh), Hanukah, Oh Hanukah
Come light the menorah
Let’s have a party
We’ll all dance the horah
Gather ’round the table, we’ll give you a treat
Dreidels (or Sevivon) to play with, and latkes to eat
. ( (
And while we are playing
The candles are burning bright (or low[2])
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of years long ago
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of years long ago.

 

Chanukah Blessings – this is the blessing (melody) we sing on the candles, in which we declare our gratitude to G-d for the miracle of Chanukah. There are actually 2 blessings.

menorah-bokeh

 

So, from gratitude to strength to courage to optimism to confidence and to peace….

To any important value out there –music really does it for me, and Chanukah music really gets me going faster than you can say “Happy Chanukah!”

Happy Chanukah to all! Don’t forget to sing! – And OH  – here’s a video of the Maccabeats a cappella group doing their latest (unconventional) version of Chanukah music


Drizzles Can Become Showers

Turning the Corner

Today, my husband and I took our grandsons to the park so their Mommy and Daddy could have a break (and my husband and I could enjoy the cutie-pies). It was a beautiful, sunny day with gorgeous blue sky, but very hot and dry, so we headed out in the mid to late afternoon, after the heat of the day.

As the kids rode their bikes in the residential area and we followed behind them, I thought of how it hasn’t rained here in Southern California much for the past two years. We are in the midst of a drought. Something so mundane as rain is so huge for us. While some of us (especially East Coasters like me) may have grown up taking rain for granted, we no longer do that.

These days we kind of have to ration our water. As dictated by the Department of Water and Power. Yep.

girl-with-umbrella

There’s a limit to how much water we can use to sprinkle on our grass. Also, we have to limit the length of our showers, and how often we run our electric dishwashers and washing machines. (think: full load before using).

No longer do we see a green lawn and get impressed. These days we look down upon people who have the gall to have a gorgeous green lawn (not so nice of us, but hey, we’re human).

When a little drizzle of rain happens here in LA, we get really excited, because we have so little water coming through rain these days. And it’s a big problem.

So a little thing – rain – has become a big thing to appreciate and long for.

As my husband and I were walking about a half block behind the kids and chatting, I thought of the simplicity and purity of this activity. Nothing fancy. A walk to the park. We had packed a few shovels for the sand, some balls, a mitt, and a big beach ball that needed to be blown up. And a few other playthings that they chose.

As simple and mundane as a trip to the park is, it’s such a necessary and joyful part of childhood. It’s huge.

From the choosing which things to take to the park to sharing what they did take, to waiting patiently at the end of each block, to staying within mine and my husband’s views, they practiced discipline.

When we got to the park, there was an ice cream truck and we bought them a colorful Ices cone. So much fun for them and refreshing in the heat.

They played ball with each other and took turns with the one mitt that they could find in the house. Cooperation. Fresh air. Exercise. Good old fashioned fun.

The kids giggled and laughed as they threw the ball back and forth, and I thought about how little kids need to make them happy. And as we walked home, there was a slight breeze, I thought of how we just pray for the little things to be good in our lives.

Some of these little things include ours and our children’s health, along with their good characters and happy dispositions.

As much as we can put in lots of effort to raise good kids, the ultimate result is not up to us. We have to hope and pray for the best.

musickids

And when we get that – pure, unadulterated, uncomplicated fun (and maybe even a little rain??), we are very….happy!

Let’s hope and pray that we learn to view the little things in our lives as big and important, and enjoy them all for the beauty they bring. Every drop of rain counts! We here in California should know!

What little things have meant a lot to you in your lives? Please share below something “small” that brings pleasure.

 


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.


What I Needed to Learn, I Learned in Kindergarten

silhouette-kids-holding-hands

I was invited to a  Shabbos party at my pre-school grandson’s school, where he was chosen to be  the Shabbos Abba.  On Friday morning, I dropped everything and drove over to his classroom, met my DIL there and we observed my grandson  having this special party with his friends — with grape-juice, challah and other goodies.

It was at this party that I realized something about myself that I hadn’t known before. Something that made me feel more grown up than I’ve felt in years. More mature, evolved and settled.

I may have thought about it briefly over the past years, but hadn’t articulated it clearly in my mind.  Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I was too embarrassed to admit it. Maybe I never even thought too much about it.

What was this feeling?

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT….DONE!

Doing a Mitzvah!

Zooming in on my Mitzvah Guy!

Whew. There. I admitted it:  Having the sensation that it is okay to have done the Mommy thing years ago, and moved on.

As I viewed  the classroom with its bulletin boards, various stations, book shelves, colorful cubblies, circle time rugs, toys and art and musical instruments, I felt kind of detached.  Yes, it was all very sweet and nice but I zoomed right in to view my own grandson (who of course was the most adorable), snapped a few pictures, felt the pride and enjoyed. He, and my role as Grandma were key here. Nothing else.

There was none of the nostalgia for the good-ol’-days as a Mommy.

I felt completely comfortable in my role as middle-aged grandmother. Call me old. Call me complacent. Call me whatever you want to call me. But I really was not in the least bit sad about being older than every other person in the room – even the teachers.

BEING OLD IS GREAT

bouncing

It wasn’t easy to come to that conclusion. I’ve been so busy the past few years writing and reading about the empty nest syndrome with its intermittent loneliness, alleged boredom, painful nostalgia, ubiquitous regret and all the other supposed symptoms ot the midlife  crisis or period. It’s been a given that we  midlifers are forever  pining for the good-ol’ days of carpools, soccer practice, PTA meetings, and child bearing years.

To an extent we are. We miss the past, and want the feeling of watching our little ones grow and develop. The feeling of the unknown, how it’s all going to turn out is kind of exciting and non-threatening.  And when that is all over, it feels as if we have nowhere to go now. Nothing  to look forward to. Nothing to plant and grow anymore. We feel as if our work is done.

But me,  I’ve reached a point where I no longer miss those days. I’m seriously grateful for being at the stage that I am.

I don’t want to go back to those early parenting days anymore. No way.

Do I have the feeling of life having passed me by and that the good times are over? Nah.

I remember the good times and fun times of the cute kids and watching them grow, develop and learn alongside their peers and cousins, but I do not miss them. That’s because I also remember the difficult times.

The calls from the teachers that my kid has to sit detention. The endless carpools, the hours with them doing homework, the arguments and debates with those sons who were not as docile (euphemism here. Use your imagination, okay?) as the others and whatever angst raising children entails.

All that is over. No more having to get babysitters. No more dealing with discipline and rude behavior (yes, kids were sometimes disrespectul).

Bottom line, knowing that our children have turned out really well is a comfort to me. We’ve done our work as parents, and now we get to be a couple. My husband and I have done a great job, and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy our own stage.

The kindergarten visit taught me the lesson of being happy with the stage that I’m in.

I had my lesson about the true reality of  Empty Nest Syndrome, and it was time to go home to my own peace and quiet. How wonderful is that?

How do *you* feel about being in the Empty Nest Club? Do you pine for the good ol’ days? Do colorful kindergartens make you wax nostalgic?

(Photo credits: Property of M. Hendeles and  Image credits Publicdomainpics.net)

 


On Illness, Recovery and Birth

It’s been a difficult year for our family.  Lots has happened since late December of 2013 and early January. And here we are in November 2014, and we are celebrating the birth of our 5th grandson, thank G-d. Yes, our second son and his wife  had their third son this past Wednesday.

 

After illness comes recovery for some, whether it’s a complete or partial recovery. But throughout that process, I have experienced various emotions, from sadness, frustration and mourning  all the way to happiness and fulfillment.

It’s as if the challenging times gave birth to happy times.

By talking about my past year, I don’t want to minimize what others go through. Nor do I want to over-dramatize what my family and I experienced. Everyone has rough times. No one is free from challenges in this life, whether physical, emotional or both. I continue to pray for all my friends and relatives who are suffering daily with various issues.  When my children were growing up, things were chaotic, crazy and difficult…and fun. And I came out on the others side stronger (I think!).

But this year for some reason was more intense, concentrated into one year.

And this week, after all that, we have a new grandson. That alone gives me the strength to know that bad times are often followed by good times..and so life goes. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Year in Review:

Last January, one of our sons was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease, called transverse myelitis. He was in the hospital for a few weeks and until the diagnosis was clear, we were quite afraid of what he actually had. Thank G-d, he has recovered almost completely from the illness and is now free of most of his symptoms, but it was scary.

I now appreciate, as does our son and his wife, every bodily function from breathing, walking to using the bathroom. When we realize what can go wrong, and actually have those things go wrong, we are all the more relieved and appreciative when those abilities come back. Our son still has intermittent headaches which is a symptom of the original problem but the neurologists all say that that is part of the process. It can take up to a year or more for total healing to happen.

A few months later, in February, our third son got married – which was a wonderful and exciting event.  The day before that, I broke my ankle. You can read all about how I coped with that, as well as lessons that I learned in the process. And now, after three surgeries, a serious bone infection of osteo-myelitis  and lots of physical therapy, not to mention 6 months being laid up in bed, I am so deeply appreciative of every step I can take. Limping. Waddling somewhat…but who cares? I’m walking. Little by little and step by step, I’m regaining my strength. I also am appreciative of all the help I got from friends, relatives and acquaintances.

And then throughout my period of being with my casts, splints and not being allowed to weight bear (i.e. “stand on my feet!”), my father was sick with end-stage Parkinson’s Disease, which he had had for 14 years, and suffered most debility the last year. I could not visit my father who lived in NY, because I was not allowed to travel. I could barely speak on the phone with him, because his voice was very weak.

And as many of you know, my dear father passed away at his home at the end of September. Fortunately, I was already able to walk when my father passed, (with crutches and a walker), and so I “hopped” on a plane together with my dear husband as soon as we got the call, and flew to New York from Los Angeles where we live to be at the funeral the following day. Then, I sat shiva with my mom, aunt and siblings and flew back to LA after that.

One month later, I flew back to New York for the Shloshim  event, which is the memorial our family organized for the 30th day after my father’s death.

It’s been a whirlwind.

But here we are, celebrating little Baby Hendeles’s birth….

Good times a-coming. Which reminds me: I better get to cooking for Shabbat. Everyone is coming for dinner tonight!


Mazel Tov! It’s another….DIL!

I have not been posting or writing for the past few weeks, because things got really busy and exciting in our household. And since it’s really hard for me to stay away from blogging, I’ve finally broken my abstinence to appear here on these pages and share with you the reason for the excitement in the Hendeles home.

Our son became engaged! (did you figure it out from the headline??). Seriously, my husband and I now have another (#3 so far! – Thank G-d), daughter-in-law, or DIL as I’ve referred to these lovely girls who have joined our family the past six or seven years.

This post is dedicated to my DIL’s – including the newest one, who put up with me in the following ways:

1. They put up with me, or more specifically, they put up with the fact that I write about my experiences as a MIL. True, they have no choice (sort of), and although I let them see material that is particularly about them (which is very rare), it still has to be pretty hard for a DIL to know that every time her little toddler son spills his milk, her MIL will write a lesson and moral about that event.

2. They put up with our (my husband and my) sons, and even more so, they treasure them. It’s quite humbling to realize that the effort one puts into raising children really pays off as all the things that we thought were irresistible (and even the stuff we didn’t find so irresistible…) in our children, are also endearing to someone else!

3. They merge so seamlessly into our family and extended family, that it almost feels as if we’ve known them for so many years.

For this and so much more, I’m feeling blesses to have this young couple (and of course the others!) in our lives.

Mazel tov, and may all of us share happy occasions in our families…..


VWB – Very Witty and Blogless

For this post, VWB is moving away temporarily from Virtual Writing Buddies…to Very Witty and Blogless.Today I’m going to brag about my friend, Beth J.writinggroup

Beth J does not have a blog  (yet), while being  an accomplished writer and one of the original members of our writing group.

Beth has contributed some hysterical grandmother anecdotes for my book, which I dutifully camouflaged for the sake of anonymity.

Beth J. (to be distinguished from my other Beth friend, Beth F.) is witty and funny.  Her feedback is always spot on and she is an asset to our group. As a special educator at Conejo Academy, elementary schools and high schools,  she is the go-to person for tough questions about best practices in special and general education in our city.

Beth is active in Aish Hatorah, is a terrific cook, and a great “eema” of seven (mother of 7 is her moniker).

Thanks Beth for the great input you give to our group!


It Takes a Village

As I contemplated what topic to write about today, one word kept coming into the forefront of my mind. Gratitude.

Gratitude, and appreciation:

To Hashem (G-d), to my family, my dear husband, my parents, my friends, acquaintances, community members and so many people. To my publisher (Israel Bookshop), editor, and their wonderful, pleasant and capable staff.

A famous person once (ahem – was it Hilary Clinton?) said “It takes a village,” and that expression rings true today for me.

It’s only Day 2 of my book being on the market, but already I have learned so much from the experience. I know that I will learn more, and I am ready to take that ride. But for now, I’d like to share my appreciation and warmth for all the people (too many to list) who have traveled this journey with me (whether they realize it or not!) to where I am today.

I never intended to write a book.  When I began to write down my thoughts and ideas over the years, I was simply making sense out of what I was seeing and taking stock of what I was learning. I guess that is what we writers do. We figure things out, and write them down. That has been my process. Then we start seeing themes and topics that keep playing over and over. And that is when we suddenly think something along the lines of:  “hmmm, maybe there is something here…let’s see how it goes.”

And so – if we are wise, then we tighten up our themes, learn more, write more, try, try, fail, fall down, get up, ask for help, listen to that help (well…most of the time!), and see what works. And also see what does not work.

For each person the process is different. As human beings, and particularly as parents and grandparents, we acknowledge that every one of our children and grandchildren has his or her own process, and journey to travel. What works for one may or may not work for the other.

I guess what I’m saying here is that I am so grateful to Hashem for helping me find my niche. For helping me find my path, and continue to find that path. Included in that “path” are all the people, events, ideas, mistakes, corrections, trials, errors  in my life the past years.
At this time of year, its seems auspicious to be grateful, take stock of the past, and to move forward in the future. I have so much work ahead of me. In all my roles, thank G-d as a woman and in our relationships with others.

And now…. I’m going to get to the point now, and conclude with several big THANK YOU’s.

THANK YOU…..

To my husband for supporting me through all this (forgive me if this sounds like the Academy Awards – Oscars — oh well..)

To all the people who phoned and/or wrote me warm and wonderful Mazel Tov and Congratulations emails and texts the past few weeks, especially yesterday – I thank you.

To Hashem for making this all a reality.

Because in essence, “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!” is a book about our relationship to G-d, to ourselves and to our fellow human being.

Thanks! And Shabbat Shalom, Good Shabbos and all the best!


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