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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Lessons Learned from Lost Items

sunglasses

These days I spend a lot of my time looking for things. I get into the car to go somewhere and pretty soon I’m running back to the house to look for my sunglasses. The other day I realized just as I was about to pull out of the driveway that my cell phone was not in my purse and we all know what that means.

Calling the phone and then if I hear it – or worse, I don’t hear it because it’s turned off – I am frantically looking around for it.

A few days ago, right before the bris of my newest grandson I realized I was missing my watch. Even though I remembered taking it off and putting it on my night table before going to sleep the night before, I couldn’t find it there or anywhere.

Okay, my arm felt naked and it bothered me not to have my lovely watch, but I tried to let it go and moved on. This was the bris of my grandson, for Heaven’s sake. Why worry about a stupid missing watch?

There are more important things to worry about than lost key. Because that’s  a thing too. So is misplacing my work badge that I wear around my neck on a lanyard. The other day I found the lanyard but the little badge was gone. Oh no! I was all farklempt.

But honestly, why would I or anyone spend time fretting over something that is missing when I know I will probably find it in the last place I look? Right?

Seriously, this topic has been bothering me a lot lately. As I go through my middle aged years I find myself missing things a lot. Sometimes it’s my ATM card just when I’m standing at a store checkout and ready to pay. How embarrassing. It happened a few weeks ago and I had to walk out without my purchases. I didn’t have checks on me either.

Am I scatter brained, spaced out, experiencing G-d forbid too many senior moments? What is the deal with all this missing stuff? The truth is it’s not a new thing for me. I lose things these days just as much as I’ve misplaced things when I was a younger mom and grandma.

So is the losing habit a chance for me to appreciate what I have and let go the obsession with material objects? Is that the message for all of this? Should I accept it and just learn from it? If  so, what do I learn from all this?

My thoughts on this matter came to a head when I misplaced all my photos on my phone the other day. I had taken a whole bunch of pictures and for some reason hadn’t checked that any of them were uploaded. When I looked later I noticed that the last pictures visible were from a few days ago. I panicked. These were pictures of my new grandson’s bris. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing all these pictures.

Mixed into these feelings of frustration was the feeling of embarrassment at not being able to move on with my day when I misplace things. I got all tense and couldn’t relax. I kept asking my husband for reassurances that I will definitely find the items.

And then when I found the pictures (my son the techie was able to locate them by switching my settings on the phone) I was in ecstasy (a little exaggeration but you get the idea).

But I’m back to the old idea of learning a lesson from all this. Because you know, I know, my husband knows, my children know, and everyone reading this knows that I will definitely lose things again very soon. It’s going to happen.

So?

Mindfulness. That’s the term I’ve been reading a lot about lately. It’s about being present and in the moment. It’s a lot of things that are beyond the scope of this post but for the purposes of this post here’s my lesson

When I put something away, I ought to think about where I’m putting it. I ought to also try to put things in the same place every time.

Because when I don’t, that’s when I get into trouble.

Like the time I threw my car keys on the chair in the living room as I came home ran to the restroom and then forgot where they were. Later when I was leaving the house, I couldn’t find them. After using the spare key (thankfully we have that), and being mad at myself for not putting the keys on the hook where they belong, I ended up tracing my steps in my mind and recalled putting them in the couch.

They were buried under the couch cushions. All’s well that ends well. Life can go on. I found my keys.

That’s it. Mindfulness. Be more conscious of what I’m doing when I’m doing things. Do one thing at a time. Don’t multi-task. Take deep breaths. Slow down. Pay attention to what I’m doing and where I’m putting things.

It’s not enough to set up a system in our home and office of where things go; we have to take the time and focus to actually use those systems.

So when my husband asks me “where is the community directory book that’s usually in the kitchen,” I can run and get it from the car because I remember using it in the car when making phone calls in my driveway.

Life happens. We can’t always be in the same place when using certain items but if we are conscious when doing things and don’t just act on autopilot, we will be less likely to lose things.

And more likely to enjoy our day to day adventures.

Now, where is that list that I had with all the ideas I wanted to write?

Breathe in and breathe out. All is well.


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)

 


“To Fill the Sky With Stars” – A Book Review

starsbook

Imagine having a group of women whom you admire – bloggers, writers, mentors, wives of rabbis, teachers, authors — all sitting in the same room and sharing their struggles and triumphs. I felt as if I had that group in my living room when I read my copy of Miriam Liebermann’s new anthology, To Fill the Sky with Stars: Women Explore Their Midlife Challenges and Triumphs. (Menucha Publishers, 2014).  The writers in the book span the entire spectrum of intellectuals and mentors in the orthodox community. Chanie Juravel, Dr. Miriam AdahanSarah Shapiro, Rebecca Feldbaum, Libi Astaire, Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum, and  Rebbetzin Faigie Horowitz are a few names amongst the more than 60 writers featured.

When Miriam Liebermann asked me to contribute to her second anthology,  To Fill the Sky with Stars: Women Explore Their Midlife Challenges and Triumphs, I felt honored to be included amongst the “real” experts, some of my genuine role models.  I had read Miriam’s previously published book The Best Is Yet To Be, (Targum Press, 2011).  When Miriam compiled and edited that anthology, she was a pioneer in the topic of empty nest, women in midlife, and grandmother-hood musings, especially in the Orthodox Jewish world . I loved those stories, finding strength and honesty in the words of women who admit to being frustrated and sad about this new time in their lives, and taking that strength to start new careers and hobbies.

To Fill the Sky with Stars   takes the topics explored in her first anthology to another level.  We are past feeling the angst of empty nest. We already know we’ve been there and done that with  the child bearing stage. There’s less of the ambivalence every time we see someone who is expecting a child, or with a small child. (I’m talking about myself here!). There is the acceptance and contentment at this point, and rather than fight the reality, we now embrace it.

Embracing the reality of midlife challenges means tackling them head on. One women describes her struggle  while being caregiver for her elder mother who showed signs of dementia. Every time Mom yelled at her and ranted on and on in irrational ways, the daughter was faced with the sadness of watching her mother deteriorate before her eyes. And then her mom would have a flash of common sense and express something completely normal. The writer smiled at those moments. I felt for this woman who did not show herself to be a martyr but rather a normal human being facing the inevitable story of life.

The book is divided into various themes, as they relate to women in the midlife stage. Themes include:  Parenting adult children, caring for elderly parents, embracing new roles, connecting with a Higher Power, friendships, reinventing ourselves with new careers and hobbies, marriage, health issues and tips, loneliness, and death and dying are included. All sections have an overview written by Miriam Liebermann, giving the reader rich insights and interesting points of view. In addition, Miriam’s own stories are featured throughout the book in various sections.

One of my favorite stories is by a writer who describes her perceptions of being unloved by her mother her entire childhood. During her childhood, the narrator felt  that  she was being dismissed and misunderstood.  After  her mother died, she comes across some important things  while cleaning up her mother’s  house. She realizes that all along her mother did get her on some level, and that discovery and knowledge brings her peace and closure. So many of us have strained relationships with our mothers during our lives, and this story shows how often those feelings – real or imagined — can be resolved in some way.

To Fill the Sky with Stars is a smooth read, albeit long. The poetry is interesting, although I prefer the stories.  The book can be read in bits and pieces, as the stories are short and separate. 490 pages. Sold in Judaica books stores, on Amazon and on the publisher’s website.

 


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