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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How My Mom, Sisters and I Had our Great Experience

My husband and I never travel to exotic places and we’re pretty much okay with it. We have thank G-d a lovely climate here in Southern California where the sun shines pretty much on most days and where we get to complain when it’s 50 degrees how freezing it is. Our idea of a good vacation is a drive to the San Diego Zoo or Laguna Beach.  Even Disneyland is out of the question as the prices have become astronomical (sorry, Disneyland).

But all that aside, it has been my dream to go to Israel for like forever. I had been there as a child with my parents, then as a high school graduate with my friends and 22 years later with my husband.

I’ve wanted to have what’s called a “chavaya” – a memorable experience in Israel that is imprinted on my mind. I wanted to really feel like I lived there – even for just a few days, not in a hotel or motel, but in an apartment with friends or family.

I wanted to go to the Holy places such as the Western Wall to pray. I yearned to pray at the graves of our matriarchs such as Rachel’s Tomb  and the Cave of the Patriarchs or Me’arat HaMachpeilah.

I wanted to visit our youngest son who is there now in Israel and to experience the new and modern country that I’ve heard from friends that Israel has developed into since I’ve been there over a decade ago. In fact, the only time we went together in all our married years was when our older son was there for yeshiva and we went to visit him. I still remember that trip because it was several months after 9/11, tickets were cheap and the entire country was devoid of tourists.

Still, I longed and pined for that next honeymoon with my husband but figured it wasn’t going to happen very soon. I was content with the amazing mini-vacations to San Diego and Laguna and the great theme park of Knotts Berry Farm (sorry, Disneyland; Knott’s is more affordable). And we are fortunate to go  the East Coast for nieces’ and nephews’ weddings, for family events and so forth. And even though we miss many such family events, I feel blessed to be able to go to the ones that I do.

It’s all good. One of the many lessons I’ve learned (and tried to practice) over the years is  to have gratitude for the good in my life  and to keep my expectations realistic. Dreaming and longing is nice but when we have high expectations that are over our budget or lifestyle, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

So I put the dream out of my mind.  I told my husband when we win the lottery or win one of those many raffle tickets we put in $18 for to win that elusive “trip for 2 to Israel”,  we will get to go.  That and also if  he gains more vacation days at his workplace (right now all his yearly vacation is used for Jewish Holiday breaks),  and we have enough to spend on a hotel and a few tourist attractions….we will go somewhere. If all that’s in place, we will fulfill our wish list of travel.  Israel was at the top of that list followed closely by Alaska in the summer (to see the midnight sun – my husband’s dream).

Then last month we traveled to NY from LA for our niece’s wedding.

At the wedding I was schmoozing with one of my sisters when she told me that our mother was asking to visit Israel this winter and this sister wanted to take her there. As this sister and another are the ones who live closest to our mom, they had heard my mom expressing a longing to visit the Holy Land and see her cousins whom she hadn’t seen in over ten years. Additionally, since my father passed away, our mom hasn’t traveled much and she felt lonely and an eagerness to go somewhere special. To see and pray at the Holy places and  to visit with family and friends who lived there.

That’s when I blurted out, “Oh, that’s so nice. I want to come along!” I didn’t think of the cost or the time off from work and how that would be possible. I just had this sudden urge to go with my mom and sisters. For some reason, I disregarded any of the kinks that would have to be worked out such as leaving my husband behind.

And suddenly money became irrelevant as my husband and I talked it over and his remark was that this was a trip of a lifetime and we would make it work. (Even if we had to work Sundays and evenings and extra hours for the next few weeks.)

Within a day, I had a ticket to Israel for three weeks later,  found my recently renewed (whew!) passport in the place where we keep them,  my husband’s blessings and encouragement, my three sisters including the one who initiated it coming along, and my mother extremely excited that her four daughters would be traveling with her to Israel. Oh, and our spouses, our brothers and their wives were not invited, thank you. This was an all-girls event.

For the next few weeks we went back and forth with plans for the Big Trip. The anticipation was so much fun. From the beginning our goal was to make my mom happy and that we were doing this for our mom. That meant that we would fill our days with activities that my mom could do. Since she is thank G-d in her late 80’s (may she live till 120) and doesn’t walk as fast as she used to, activities such as climbing Masada and touring the North or South of the country were out.

The trip lasted 9 days of which we were in Israel for just under 6 days. But no worries. We knew were going to have a blast breathing the air of Jerusalem and other places we went and just being with each other.

A day before we left to Israel we found out that El Al airlines was on strike and we had to quickly scramble with the airline to get a refund and buy new tickets with a stopover. Still, we were thrilled that we were able to work it out. Never mind that our trip was cut short by about 12 hours since we had to make do with whatever return tickets we could get on the new airline. Never mind that I had to quickly get on a plane that night (a day early) to NY to meet my sisters and mom at the airport for the new flight outbound. And never mind that I had to pay extra for that quickly made flight.

Nothing mattered because we were going to be traveling together and having  a blast on the trip of a lifetime.

And as we took off on that Monday evening on the plane, the only regrets I had were  for the flight attendants on Brussels Air who had to put up with our constant standing up and loud talking. Our passing diet food brought with us to each other. Our laughing and giggling and loud playing of word games  (word mix is a great one by the way!) on the screen.

Still I had so much to be grateful for: First, I had a husband that was fine (thrilled) with my getting away for a week (oops 9 days including travel). Second, my adult kids were thrilled for me and their grandmother and aunts. And finally, this was an easy trip to plan for since I wasn’t leaving any carpools, babies, school schedules and play dates for someone else to worry about. In fact, the only baby I was leaving in the care of my husband was my new kitchen. He had strict instructions written down how to care of the various appliances.

One of the things I’ve learned as mother-in-law and grandmother and in general a middle aged person is to have lower expectations of events and happenings.  That philosophy ends up being quite freeing. It’s a way of letting go and allowing things in life to evolve the way they will. It means letting other people including friends, relatives and our children be who they are. It means  allowing our married couples to make their own decisions without us offering unsolicited advice. It means doing the best we can do in situations using our skills without beating ourselves up when we make mistakes.

And when we do all that, we can free ourselves to let in all the fun and laughter and just enjoy the ride . (and lots of city walking too!)

Visiting one of the holy places

 

 

 


13 Resentment Ridders

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A few weeks ago, lots of things were bugging me.

I mean, isn’t being resentful part and parcel of being human?

Let’s see: Whether it’s anger at the person who pushed ahead of you in line at the grocery, or frustration with your rebellious teenager’s attitude, or exasperation at the inexperienced and clueless teacher of your second grader,  (not sure why I’m bringing up situations from my life fifteen years ago — this is interesting), we all feel (or felt)the big R of Resentment in our lives. Don’t we? (Please don’t be quiet here, I need validation.)

It could be our mother-in-law (now I’m being honest!), or our daughter-in-law (never happens to me because mine are wonderful – truly), or brother, sister, best friend, sister-in-law, cousin, colleague, neighbor….anyone  annoying us.

Maybe all of the above at one time, or just one at a time. You know, one day the guy at the post office rubs me the wrong way (it happens)  and the next day my boss says something and I’m venting to to my husband for an hour.

Next, the grandchildren come over and they  leave stuff lying around on the den floor and I go berserk, because I hate clutter. You get it?

By the time we’re grown up (that’s middle aged when we finally feel grown up) we’ve figured out this relationship stuff already.  Or should I say, I’ve figured it out and am here to list you 13 things that I remind myself when I begin to feel that itch of resentment at anyone, everyone or no one.

So, if all else fails and you just cannot please some people no matter what you do, stop turning yourself into a pretzel and remember the following things.

These things don’t automatically stop me from feeling resentment, but they take the edge off the anger or whatever is bothering me.

  1. TRIGGER BUTTONS: Identify what trigger that person has pushed. Some people seem to push our buttons and it’s not they are trying to be mean or rude, but it’s more like we have certain sensitivity buttons that are being pushed. The title of the button is usually a character trait that we don’t like and we fear that we have it – such as  inadequacy, selfishness, foolishness.
  2. CHILDHOOD REMINDER: Ask the question to self: Self, what about my childhood does this remind me of? Is there something similar (kind of like deja vu) in my past that was upsetting and this reminds me of?
  3. CONSIDER IT A STYLE: People have idiosyncrasies or in other words, styles, cultures, ways of doing things. For us it’s weird, while for them it’s just their way of doing things. Knowing that can help ease the annoyance.
  4. KEEP DISTANCE BUT KEEP PERSPECTIVE. Sometimes if a person or situation is so toxic, you may have to keep distance from it so that you gain your equilibrium and feel better. Still, keep perspective that you may find a time to revisit that person or situation. But for now, distance is best.
  5. IS THAT A BEHAVIOR I HAVE ALSO? Sometimes it’s the annoying things in ourselves that we notice the most in others. Hard to admit but true.
  6. KNOW NOT TO DO IT TO OTHERS. It’s always good to know the stuff that we don’t want to do to others. Seeing something upsetting can remind us never to do such a thing because we then know what it feels like to be on the receiving end.
  7. BECOME AN OBSERVER. I’ve recently gotten better at people watching. When I just calmly observe and take myself out of the picture, “stuff” stops bothering me.
  8. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. This is an old cliché but it’s really true. Most of the time (like 99% of the time), things that others do is not about us. It’s about them. Knowing that can really help deal with it, because we are reminded that there’s nothing we can or should do.
  9. HAVE COMPASSION. It’s always a good thing to feel compassion for someone who is consistently annoying
  10. DO NOT GOSSIP. Enough said.
  11. KEEP BUSY, MOVE ON. No use obsessing and fretting over what can’t be changed. Move on.
  12. LET GO/PRAY. I’m constantly surprised how this always helps and it does
  13. Listen to some favorite music.

Have a peaceful day!   Oh – and don’t forget the Serenity Prayer.    17207-Serenity-PrayerAnd here’s a picture that will induce serenity!

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Who’s the Boss Here Anyway? (and lessons I learn as a Grandma)

When my kids were little, my husband and I  faced many parenting stresses. Through it all, we felt that we were in control of our children’s lives and were the conductors on the train that our kids were traveling on.  Major and minor decisions – from what school to send them to, to where they would go to camp, to bringing them to play-dates, to dealing with negative issues that arose, to taking them on outings, travel, buying them new things, everything was our department.

As the children got older, we involved them in discussions according to their ages and developmental levels. We might have scoffed at times at the overwhelming reality of too much on our plates, but there was a constant sense of purpose, busy-ness, and important-ness in our daily lives.

And that position of control felt comfortable for us. It felt important. Smart. In charge. As if we were responsible parents.  And it’s a feeling that we got used to having.

Fast forward many years.

Our children grew up  and moved out and onto yeshiva and/or college out of town.  One by one, they married.

All that control and decision making power now fell from our laps right onto  our adult children’s shoulders. We were told – directly or indirectly; passively or aggressively – to back off. The only exception was when they wanted our advice and we happily gave that to them when asked (and at times when not asked).

We were no longer the bosses of our children’s destinies. We were dethroned.

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Okay, it took some getting used to and I kicked, screamed and had a few tantrums (to my husband or anyone who would listen), but overall I accepted my new position.  I mean, I felt the hurt when things didn’t go my way, and was  annoyed when they did things differently than I thought was the “right” way.

When my oldest grandson was about five, I compiled a collection of magazine articles I had written since he and the others were born. The articles were  on empty stage syndrome and other middle-aged topics, so I added some fresh material and then wrote a book about being a grandmother. Within that year, I held book signings and other events and a friend of a friend asked me to lead a workshop at a well-known synagogue not far from my home. The audience was a group of synagogue members who were  vibrant and active seniors. After my presentation which included readings from my book and sharing some personal experiences as a new mother-in-law and grandmother,  someone raised her hand and asked the following question:

“What do we do when our grandchildren don’t thank us for the gifts that we give them? And why don’t their parents – our children – teach them the proper thing to do?”

I could hear others in the group mumbling comments in agreement with the questioner, and a few called out some other transgressions that their adult kids did with child rearing. Apparently, this was a hot topic, one that many in the group related.

It became immediately clear to me that this theme of non-grateful grandchildren was a topic I wasn’t at all prepared to discuss and advise about.

I wanted to relate to these women’s situations but I really couldn’t understand all the angst. At the time, I didn’t get the big deal if the child doesn’t say thank you. A thought occurred to me that many of these women were grandparents of older grandchildren than my pre-school aged grandsons. Some had grandchildren who were 8, 9 or 10 and others had teenage grandchildren.

I offered them empathy as best as I could. And then I gave some generic advice along the line of how we have to keep our mouths shut even if we think the adult kids are raising their kids with poor manners.

This led to some more sharing as the group offered some other examples of how poorly their adult kids were raising the little ones these days.

But I left the group feeling confused.  In my mind, this wasn’t the most successful event I had led. I felt I was not on the same page as these more mature grandmothers and I certainly didn’t feel that I had offered them concrete tips in the areas that were important to them.

Fast forward four more years. I now have (G-d Bless them) grandchildren who range in age from almost nine years old to almost six months. I’ve had countless experiences where I had to choose between expressing my opinion one time, several times or many times (one time wins!), arguing with their decisions or keeping my mouth shut (keeping mouth shut wins!)

But in the earlier days most of our interactions were with our adult children.

For example, where they sent the kids to school or what synagogue they chose to pray in, or where they lived, or how they spend their money or choices they make or friends they have —- all these issues have been between us and them.  I practiced the cardinal rule of zipping up my lips. The best thing to do (unless they ask for our input) is to keep quiet because it’s really up to them. Not us. Their business, not ours. A tough pill to swallow sometimes but the truth.

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from one of my grandchildren and for a reason that I can no longer fathom, I found it to be lacking in appreciation.

What? Me, who four years ago couldn’t understand the need for kids to express appreciation, was having a problem with this? Yes. True.

And not only did I feel disappointed in the letter, I expressed it to him on the phone. Looking back now, I’m thinking, “What was I thinking? The kid wrote me a letter and I’m complaining?”

Well, needless to say he told his Dad who shared with me that the child was pretty insulted.

Gulp. I messed up.

After talking it over with the child the next day on the phone and patching things up,  I realized an entirely different – but related lesson.

Even our kids have don’t have control over other people – their growing kids! That’s right. While we think we can tell our kids what to do because we have control over them and they have control over their kids, it’s all just an illusion. The only ones we can change are ourselves. We knew that already, right? But

So for those senior grandmoms who complained that their adult kids didn’t teach their progeny how to show appreciation, my response would be (four years later in case any of them are reading this!):

We are not in control. Our kids  are not in control either. Everyone does his or her best to teach their kids how to act and be. At the end of the day, the kids eventually have minds and hearts of their own. Only we can influence our relationship with our grandchildren through our kindness and acceptance.

If you want to give gifts, give them. If you don’t want to give gifts, don’t give them. Nobody wants a gift with strings attached.

The key component in any relationship – including the grandmother/grandchild dynamic – is warmth, understanding and acceptance. No preaching and no expectations.

Letters, conversations, warmth. Those are worth more than formal thank you’s from young children and teenagers.

And that’s my lesson of dethronement – we’re no longer in control and we never were. Not even when we were young moms and dads raising our kids.

And as a grandmother, that realization is very freeing today.

 


Helicopter Musings

I’ve been blogging on this grandmother/bubby blog for a little over three years, and have noticed that the “most searched for” phrases when reaching my blog seems to be “helicopter moms,” or “helicopter grandparents,” which leads me to believe one of two things: a) I write a lot about that topic, and/or b) grandparents are interested in that topic.

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In any case, if I have thought I was a helicopter grandparent when I became a grandmother 8 years ago (wow, hard to believe it’s been that long), I realize I’m still grappling with my tendency toward helicopter parenting. Never mind grand-parenting.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I sent off our youngest son to Israel for yeshiva. This is our little child – our baby – you know the one I gave birth to years ago who is so cute that I still want to pinch his cheeks? Yep. That one. Actually, based on my history as a devoted, sometimes nagging, somewhat over-protective  mom, I thought it would be really hard. I, the one who has  helicopter parenting/grand-parenting down to a science, was already visualizing my calling him daily on his cell phone and panicking when he wouldn’t answer the phone.

And indeed,  few weeks before he left to yeshiva for the year, I could be spotted  nagging helping him shop and pack.

But besides that, I was fine. I’ve done this before. This was not my first child to leave home, and even this child had already been away from home for school already. So I did not have a hard time letting go.

Well, maybe the day he left was a little tough. Since he was taking a trip abroad, we (hubby and I) allowed ourselves to be just a tad hovering.

So the day he departed, my husband and I were that couple at the Swiss Air counter (if you were there and happened to notice) who moved extra pieces of clothes from one suitcase to the other in order to spread out the weight. Did you see us? If not, you may have noticed our very tolerant son who didn’t even seem to be embarrassed by us. He stood by our side and kept saying, “It’s okay, I don’t have to take so much….let’s just leave it behind…”

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You’re thinking, who’s the traveler here? Isn’t it the young man and not us? You’re right.

But we’re not really so bad. Listen, we just had to make sure he had everything he needed, okay? Where he’s going there are no stores.

So my husband ran back to the car while the airline attendant took someone else in line, and he got a small suitcase which he found in the trunk. That became our son’s third piece of luggage, so that each piece shouldn’t exceed the weight requirements.

My son stood there totally relaxed probably thinking how he’ll be soon free from these hovering parents.

So that was basically it. After that we stopped nagging or hovering or reminding.

Unless of course you count the hard part which was watching him walk up the staircase leading to the gate. He met up with a friend who was flying on the same flight and the two of them started to chat. My phone battery died its hundredth death just at that time before I would commit my final touch of helicoptering this poor guy (and his friend) by asking them to pose for a picture. Again.

But seriously, it’s been two months since his departure, and I’m much better now than I thought I would be. I’m leaving him alone for the most part.

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When he calls us (I won’t tell you how frequently we ask him to call – listen you don’t have to know everything about me!), I don’t keep him on the phone too long. It’s 11:30 his time when he calls and I just ask him about five or six, okay, seven or eight (I think) questions and then I tell him I love him and he says he loves me and then we hang up.

Not so bad, right?

And then my husband comes home from work and we discuss each of our talks with the son. We exchange stories of what he told my husband what he told me and so forth.

It works out. It really does. I sent a package to him with someone who traveled there and lives nearby.

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And Chanukah is soon, so I’m preparing a package to have sent to him there, which is not really helicopter parenting but Jewish parenting.

As my friend, Lisa who is also a grandmother and blogger says, “nobody said this parenting biz was easy….” It’s the letting go that’s the hardest of all.

And on that note, happy holiday season to all, and may we all keep in touch with our children in loving ways (without too much meddling).

 

 


AFTER THE FLAMES, on (not) PLAYING THE BLAME GAME

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This past week, a house in Brooklyn, due to a malfunction of a hot-plate,  became shockingly engulfed in flames on Friday night and seven children tragically perished. According to the fire department, this was the most devastating fire in NYC in the past seven years. I live in California, and even from far away, looking at the images, knowing that neighborhood, I can’t stop thinking of the sadness and trauma that the family will go through.

Apparently, the hot plate that malfunctioned, was used weekly by this (and other families) on the Sabbath to keep food warm, since Orthodox Jews don’t turn ovens or stoves on throughout Shabbat. Various methods of keeping food warm on the Sabbath are used. Some use warmers, others use a crockpot and/or put their food atop  a “blech” which is a metal covering over the range which has a flame underneath.

But somehow, people who read the news about this horrible fire, in which lives were lost, others were injured and badly burned and families are left bereft and traumatized, seem to overlook the word “malfunctioning” and focus on the  hotplate that was used. I read several articles about the event and happened to spot a few comments by random people. All of these people wrote comments to the tune of:

“If this is what being Orthodox is, then why bother?”

It becomes all about the hotplate. People, perhaps the hotplate was broken?  Perhaps the wire may have been frayed? It’s not the hotplate per se. It’s how it was used!

And then the fact that the family’s home did not have any smoke detectors on the main floors, was also another point of contention.

“How irresponsible! No smoke detectors? How utterly awful! How could anyone with all those children in a home be so careless?”

I understand the importance of learning from tragic situations. No one wants to make the same mistake as another person. I even get the value of discussing the “takeaway” from such an awful occurrence. I am aware that the fire department sat at tables stationed around the city and handed out free smoke detectors for anyone who came by.

It says in Ethics of our Fathers, “He who is wise, who learns from everyone.” We learn from others’ mistakes. Very wise.

But do we rub it in their faces? Do we plaster our thoughts of superiority all over the internet? Do we attribute the fact that there was a fire to religion only? Do we criticize the family – who not only can’t defend themselves or explain what actually went wrong, but is dealing with such immense pain and suffering?

Do we insinuate that we NEVER make any mistakes? Not small ones, and not even tragic ones? Never? Ever?

I know that I’ve used a hotplate many times to heat up food, or when our oven wasn’t working.  I also know that sometimes things don’t work correctly. In my case, thank G-d, the hotplate has worked well for me. I intend to be extra careful in the future, even surpassing my previous care that I took. I will check that the hotplate is made by a reputable company, and so forth.

True, the hotplate caused the fire in this case. So learn from it. Be careful with future use of any electrical item. Read directions. If you are already 100% careful with these types of things, then great. Keep doing it.

And regarding the fire detectors, yes, go out and purchase new ones of the ones you have are older than 10 years old (as mine are. We went to Home Depot yesterday and got new ones). Make sure they are in all bedrooms and hallways, and check that the batteries are fresh. Test out the smoke detectors.

But don’t blame and criticize the family for their tragic mistake in using the hotplate that just happened to malfunction this one time. Don’t blame the Shabbat, or laws of Judaism.

Don’t miss the point.

Don’t assault them for neglecting to put smoke detectors. The poor family can’t defend themselves, and the “know-it-all” comments only deepen the pain that the survivors must already be feeling.

Yes, the lack of smoke detectors was what may have prevented the family from getting out sooner. It could be that had they had smoke detectors that worked, the family would have survived. And certainly one must learn from that mistake.

But the attitude of “enflamed blame” doesn’t bring back the children.

And the attitude of “enflamed blame” doesn’t prevent the tragedy from happening to you – or me, or us.

When I was in fifth grade, my classmate died in a fire. In the middle of the night, the entire 3-story solid home a few blocks from our house in Brooklyn, blew up in smoke and flames. Everyone got out, and then tragically, my classmate went back inside to get someone she thought was still in there. She didn’t survive. It was one of the most tragic events I recall from my childhood.

The community was devastated. I recall being so upset for my friend, her family and everyone involved. I was frightened that the same thing might happen to our house.

The school brought in psychologists, and our parents spoke to us about the importance in case of fire of gathering in a special place in the front of the house. I don’t recall what caused the fire; it could be it was an electrical failure. Could be it was the Shabbat candles, or the Chanukah candles. Or maybe someone was smoking or a child found a match and played with the fire.

But I was afraid, terrified that the same thing would happen to our house, G-d forbid. And so, for a few weeks, every night I got up in the middle of the night and smelled smoke. I walked around the house checking for fire, checking for any visible signs of smoke.

And then when I didn’t find any,  after walking through the bedroom floor, the main floor and the basement, I climbed back upstairs to my bedroom on the top floor and went back to sleep. This carried on for a few days or more. My parents knew that I was doing this. My mother spoke to professionals about it and tried to reassure me. But her assurances that we have a fire alarm, smoke detectors and a house with strong walls made of sheet-rock that burns slowly…  didn’t allay my anxiety. I continued to wake up, “smell” smoke (could be the neighbor’s incinerator in the big apartment building?) and walk around to check.

One day my mother finally sat me down and said to me something that reached my heart and soul and calmed me down.

“You know, we have to put our faith in G-d. G-d protects us.”

Somehow, my mother’s reassuring voice, her wise words and her truth struck a chord with me. That was it. I never once smelled smoke after that.  I stopped my checking-the-house behaviors. And I completely stopped my anxiety.

I stopped my “enflamed blame” that was going on inside me that somehow I could prevent such a problem.

In Judaism, there is a phrase that one says when hearing about a person who has passed away. “Baruch Dayan HaEmes.” This translates as “Blessed is the One Who Judges the Truth.” We believe that G-d chooses who lives and who dies.  It behooves us to trust that. Whether or not one believes in a G-d or a Higher Power, one has to trust that everything is not in our hands.

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We go through the motions, follow safety rules of the experts such as the fire department, we teach these messages to our children, and then we lay our worries to rest (or we try to!).

We can run fire drills,  install smoke detectors, carbon monoxide sensors, and maintain fire alarms. We seek counsel from the experts and instruct ourselves and our children on fire safety. We can keep matches out of reach and turn pot handles towards the back of the stove. We can instruct our children what to do – and what not to do – in case of a fire.

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At the end of the day, we realize that the ultimate decision is in G-d’s Hands and accidents happen.

Better to move forward and take care of business.  Lose the superiority. Arrogance doesn’t save lives. Action and change do.

(CREDIT FOR FINAL QUOTE BY PAUL BRANDT’S LYRICS: VIRTUAL LIFE)


5 Reasons Not to Be Hung Up on Being Hung Up on

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If ever there was a loaded question, this one is it:

Are you the kind of mom-in-law or father-in-law who gets all bent out of shape if your married kids don’t (gasp) call you regularly? We all know the stereotypical conversation between Billy Crystal anyone who has a Jewish mom.

Mom: You never call me?

Son: Yes, I just called you the other day, Ma, you forgot.

Mom: The other day, the shmother day…that was ages ago, like weeks ago.

Here’s the thing. Calling one’s loved ones works both ways. Hey, if your children don’t call you, you call them.

You can’t? You don’t want to? Why not?

I’m not talking about disrespect here. I believe in respect. I believe that children and parents are not equals and we are supposed to show respect for our elders. The child should be taught from very young to love, honor and respect one’s elders.

But, sometimes it helps us if we realize that our children have lives that are extremely busy and we should try to initiate the phone call if they sometimes don’t get to it.

It helps if we don’t suddenly have amnesia and forget how busy we were back in the days when we had small children.

We’re not asking for a lot of empathy here, guys. Just a little.

And as in the conversation above, the topic of conversation became all about how upset the mom is, when they could  have jumped right into talking about pleasant stuff.

But still, there will be moms, and there will be moms-in-law, who will complain that their children are too busy and too (you fill in the blank here with adjective) to pick up the phone and to call their (fill in the blank here with adjective describing a victim) mother.

And so, I’ve decided to go out on a limb and suggest to that mom or mom-in-law several reasons that she may be wrong (gasp) and that maybe if she realizes these facts, she will be less likely to be upset about her son, daughter, grand-daughter, grandson, or any other loved one who doesn’t call enough.

1. Wanting them to call and expressing it to them myriad times, will only decrease their desire to call you, because they will associate calling you with negativity and complaining. So your best bet is to just be nice when they do call and not mention anything negative otherwise.

2. The fact that they don’t call you means that chances are great that they are spending their time doing good things with their lives. Now doesn’t that make you feel proud when your children and grandchildren are occupied with charitable causes? All their activities even provides you with more brag material for you and your own friends at the local Mah Jong club.

3. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If they don’t see you for a long time, they will be even happier to see you, and just think, you can spend the time waiting by baking a good carrot cake and putting it in the freezer for when they come.

4. You have the option of calling them on their cell phone, or even contacting them via text or email. Even if you don’t use email or text, it may be worthwhile to learn it so you can stay in touch with your children and grandchildren, even if it’s just a “hi how are u?” or “I miss u” or whatever. Learn to meet them halfway, and you will always be happy.

5. You even have the option of becoming your grandson’s facebook friend, or your grand-daughter’s linkedin contact, or your son’s pinterest follower. Who knows? If you change your handle on Twitter, no one will know who you are, and your grandson may just contact you without much fuss.

There you have the 5 Reasons not to be hung up on being hung up on. And if you understand these reasons really deep in your heart, I guarantee you that you will earn the respect of your children, grandchidlren, and yourself.

How do you feel about this loaded topic? How do you stay in touch with your adult children without appearing whiny and overbearing to them? Let us know…

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Letting Go of the Remote Control

An all-too familiar situation:

Here’s the scenario:  I see something going on in my surroundings – whether with my adult kids, or with a close friend, or even with a colleague at work.  I think about it a lot,  decide I know better, and make an assessment. A voice inside me says “stay out of it” but I don’t heed that voice. Another voice says, “help them, get involved, say something.”

Eeny meeny miney moe. Which voice to listen to? I listen to the second voice – the busybody one.

CLANG! I realize immediately that I shouldn’t have! Voice #1  inside me says, “you knew better than to get involved….”

Proactive or Reactive?

There is a new word the past decade or so: proactive. That refers to taking care of things ahead of time, planning for the future so that there is more chance of success.  Pushing the buttons on the Remote Control – the mechanism that thinks we can control and take care of everything in the world. We are going to save the day.

Proactive is a great thing. But usually “proactive” is for one’s own life. Not someone else’s life.

In fact, when one gets involved in someone else’s life, it often only complicates things for them —– and for us. It doesn’t help.

Shouting (to myself!) to Stop!

So when I read about people in books and periodicals who have dilemmas “should I or shouldn’t I?”…..I want to scream through the pages of the book, “DON’T!….. Stay out of it! It’s a train wreck!” But then again, I can’t tell them what to do. It’s their life to live (even if it’s just a fictional account in a book!).I think unless something is in a  life and death situation, or in a case of abuse or serious danger, OR if that person specifically asks for help (and even then it’s probably best to refer to professionals – a friend should never take the place of professionals), then it is best to stay out of it.

Prayer and relinquishing control:

Sometimes I really have to protect myself from places that I am not equipped to navigate the difficult waves.  Prayer always is a good thing. We can pray for the well-being of others, let G-d take over, relinquish control. And then give them love and encouragement.  And finally focus on the one place that we were given power to change: ourselves.


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