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I couldn’t resist. It’s Friday, a day that I’m usually occupied with preparing for Shabbos, running myriad errands, and getting my final paperwork into my work supervisor’s box. And yet here I am blogging. I had to get something down, and fast. Before I forget it. Before the inspiration runs out.

That is the pattern of communicating for me. I get ideas, and I jot them down. Sometimes in my notebook for a to-be-developed-later article. And other times on this blog.  It’s a good thing as a writer to do that. Ideas don’t fly away, and inspirations get used.  But sometimes what is good for one area, can be a flaw in another area. Writing can be tweaked and revised; words on paper can be edited and cut.

But, when we say things too fast, before thinking them through, or planning for how the other person will take it, we run into problems.  My close friends know that “yeah, Miriam is just venting; don’t take her too seriously. She’ll calm down later. She’ll write an article and figure it all out, or she’ll compose a song, or she’ll just forget about it. No worries!” But still, I try to curb that need to speak things out, and often I write it out in my notebook or process it, or let it ride, before speaking it out.

I have realized lately that we all have our styles and “languages” of communicating with speech. I have also noted that some other people I know speak quite a different “language” than I do, and my job in these relationships is to understand that language. One of these patterns is regarding punctuality and time management.

For example, when I invite someone to my home at 8:00 for dinner, I figure they will come to my home around 8 or 8:10. Maybe 8;15. If they are going to be later than that, I suppose they’d let me know. But I have learned over the years that for some people, “Come over at 8:00 to our house for dinner,” is translated in their mind as “Oh – we’d love to have you over for dinner. Please come at 8:45 or later. That would be great!”

That is what the speakers of the non-Miriam-language hear. Have you ever been to a wedding that was called for 5:30 pm, and when you arrived at 6:00 pm, you were the only ones there? Even the bride and groom had not arrived yet? The family of the bride and groom usually trickle in at around 7, maybe.

Some grandmothers (that would be me!) are famous for expressing things to their family), and others may need translating. How about this?

“What’s the matter with you? Can’t you put on a clean shirt on the child?” (uttered in supposed-English to English speaking adult child).

Grandmother-Speak Translation: “I love you so much and I really want you to look nice, so make sure the child looks nicely all the time  (read: when I’m around).”

I’m still not so sure that the latter translation is that different in tone than the previous one, but it somehow conveys a different message – slightly more positive and loving.

In short, there are many ways that we can communicate. But make sure when you speak to someone else, you are speaking the same language. If not, make sure to get a good dictionary and translate accordingly. You will be happy you did.


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.

Warrior Woman

I had arrived at a huge event of the “Siyum Hashas” last week on Wednesday. My husband came home from work early, so we could leave at 3:30 for the program that began at 4:45 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles. There was no traffic surprisingly, and we parked, ate our lunch in the courtyard, rented binoculars, and submitted our pre-purchased tickets to the uniformed doorman by 4:15 pm. We were ready to go into the theatre and the doors were still not opened.

No problem. We sat in the huge lobby and relaxed. I heard my cell phone beep, and noticed a text from my mother who lives in New York. Noticing that she had sent me a picture attachment, I opened it, expecting to see the counterpart Siyum that took place in the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Instead, to my alarm, was a photo of my mom in a hospital room. Her face was all bruised and bleeding. She had bandages on her forehead. My mom was sitting on what appeared to be a hospital bed, fully clothed. Her eyes were as  blue as ever, against her flushed face. Except for the black and blue marks all over her face, she didn’t look too bad. (I guess……). If not for her huge smile, I might have fainted. But I stayed strong.

I called my mom. She didn’t answer. I sat there – glued to the plush bench, feeling quite worried. Here I was  in the expansive lobby, waiting to enter a theatre and watch a momentous exhibit of Jewish men celebrating the completion of a 7 1/2 year Talmud learning goal, and my spunky mom just sent me a scary picture of herself. Continue reading

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