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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Farewell to Challah: An Open Letter

Dear Challah,

After many weeks of deliberating on my relationship with you, I’ve decided to say good-bye to you. I am putting this letter on a public forum in the hopes that others may also gain insight in what works for them.  I think it’s crucial that I finally address our co-dependent relationship. Hopefully, this will be the first step toward my recovery.

First, let me say that I appreciate all you have done for me over the years. Every Friday night at our Shabbat table, since my childhood, you’ve provided me with comfort, warmth and excellent taste. As my father would make the blessing on the bread with our entire family around the table, then cut you into even slices, and pass around a piece to each one of us, I’d wait with my mouth watering and eyes glazed with love.

Then, invariably, after everyone took their first bite, the compliments would flow. First my father would praise my mother for baking you so perfectly. My mother would smile and shrug, and kind of humbly say, “Oh it’s the new oven” or “It’s my friend’s recipe.” But we knew she was just being modest. You were great. Maybe she brought out the best in you, but still you were great and we all knew it.

Truth is, you were special and you excelled on your own, without anyone to help you out.  Your recipe was quite simple and accessible that when my mother bought me as a wedding gift a Kitchen Aid mixer, I learned quickly how to bake you almost as well as my mother.  Yea, I compared myself to my mother when around you, which was also a problem. But still, I felt good baking you so well and of course you were yummy to eat.

Your ingredients were so basic and earthly: flour, oil, eggs, salt, sugar, yeast. So even when you had a bad day and didn’t turn out as well as other times, you were still great to have around. Soft, sweet and tasty. The best comfort food around.

Over the years we’ve become attached at the hips – (mine, not yours).  I’d eat one piece, then two, then three. My mother would look at me with that expression of “control yourself, there’s a whole meal ahead of us.” But I was on a roll and I couldn’t stop. Back then, it didn’t matter that gefilte fish, chicken soup, brisket, salad, chicken and potato kugel were to follow. I wanted you and only you. I was willing to share my stomach with the others, but you came first.  Your aroma was enticing, your flavor and texture were wonderful. But you became addictive and  your calories were  way beyond my allotment for a meal.

These days I’ve evolved and have become more introspective than I was back in the day. But at some level, I’m still that little girl. I may tell myself that I’m big and grown-up and I can eat “just” one piece and stop. I may try to convince myself that “come on, just have the crust or end of a piece and stop right there.” And here’s the thing: I really like you. I think you are good.

But you don’t work for me. At least not right now. Dear Challah, no matter how many times I promise myself that I will just have one small challah roll (the equivalent of a few points on Weight Watchers) or just one end piece, I always go back for another. And another.

You’ve been calling my name for so long that I hear your voice calling out “Eat me, eat me…I’m here for you…” every week at our Shabbos table. I’m a mother and grandmother and I still find you very seductive.

I can no longer succumb. I have to say good-bye. Just as an addicted alcoholic says, “One drink is too many and a thousand is not enough….” I say the same about you.

“One slice is too many, and a thousand is not enough.” You are an addiction and I must let go.

A few weeks ago, I was at a wedding and a friend and we made a pact. We both promised ourselves that we would not eat the challah bread at the wedding. We were going to hold back, and just eat the meal. No challah for us. Well, it didn’t work. I found myself washing my hands, making the blessing and then eating it. I didn’t ask my friend if the pact worked for her, but for me, it was a no-go.

And so dear Challah, in spite of my efforts to cut down, to use portion control, to enlist a buddy to do it together, nothing has worked for me. Our relationship has become toxic.  We need a separation. I need to make that difficult decision to not even have a tiny piece of you. Because as much as you arouse those warm and fuzzy feelings of childhood, and as much as I adore you, our relationship is not working out well at this time.

I say this all with sadness. I admit you are delicious, charming, charismatic, warm and inviting, but I can no longer hang around you. Ironically, I can still eat your cousins – certain kinds of whole wheat breads and matzoh. For some reason, I am able to have them in my life in moderation. But not you.

You – my dear challah – I can no longer have you in my own life. Not for now.  Not when you’re clothed in whole wheat, spelt, white flour, or poppy seeds. Not your water recipe, nor your egg recipe. Not your raisin toppings, nor your sesame seed toppings. Not your round ones nor your oval shape.

None of you. I say good-bye.

Good-bye Challah. Farewell.

Your friend,

Miriam


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.


Turning the Corner

Remember the fun of riding a bike for the first time?

Remember the excitement of being able to balance while going straight down the street or in the park? While staying upright (barely), pedaling the wheels and holding the handlebars, you looked straight ahead and felt the wind blowing in your face. Maybe your mom was holding on to the seat of your bike to help you along. Maybe she already let go.  Practically holding your breath, you didn’t dare look to the side.

And then you came to the end of the path. It was time to turn the corner. You were excited. But also a bit afraid.

Turning the corner required  extra skill  and was a risk. You had to tilt the bike ever so carefully, while veering the handlebars to the right or left.  You might fall and get hurt. You might find new territory on the other side, while going further away from home. Turning the corner was tough stuff.

The past 7 months, I’ve had a broken ankle, several surgeries, and complications. With lots of encouragement from my wonderful husband, children, family, friends and community, I’ve done pretty well.

I’ve moved  forward. Sometimes backward. Sometimes staying the same.  More recently,  I found a great doctor who got me on the road to recovery, and on the straight path.

But  I wasn’t allowed to put my foot down, or bear any weight on it. Doctor’s orders.

Until today.

Today, I went to the orthopedist for a check-up after my surgery 7 weeks ago. He told me the news I’ve been hoping for. The words we were all waiting for.

“It looks great. It’s healed.”

OFF WITH THE CAST!

Buzzzz...ohhh. it tickles

And…on with a simple boot that I can walk on very soon.

In one week, to be exact. That’s. Very. Soon.

I’m excited. I’m happy. But there’s another component here.

Part of me is afraid. What if I turn the front wheel too far to the right and end up plopping down? What if I make it around the corner but find that it is too scary or painful over there?

What if I find that it’s too hard to do stuff around the block, and decide to go back to my own street,  up and down the same street?

But honestly, I cannot really afford to think the above thoughts, or remain gripped with fear. Such ruminations will prevent me from moving to the next step in my recovery.

All beginnings are hard, and so are transitions. Change is exciting and wonderful, but it doesn’t come without fear.

I remember looking at my injured leg before surgery 7 weeks ago, and mentioning to the anesthesiologist who was there, how utterly skinny my leg was. In comparison to my good leg, this leg was shriveled and thin. What was that about?

“Oh, that’s because you haven’t been using it for so long,” the doctor explained, referring to the many months that I’ve been without a useable leg, due to several surgeries and an infection.

His comment led me to think of the implications for life.  When we don’t use certain muscles, they shrivel up, and waste away. When we refrain from turning  corners toward change, we make it harder and harder to get back into things. The more we put off doing what needs to be done, the more we have a hard time doing it.

That is why I’m looking forward to taking that first step in my boot in one week from now. It may hurt, and it may be difficult. I may limp at first and I may want to stop walking and rest.

But the more I exercise my muscles of change (within reason and appropriately), the better and easier everything will be. Eventually my leg will fill up with muscles and will be more like a “regular” leg. Turning the corner takes trust, courage, and effort.

Maybe during this time of introspection during the month of Elul, before the High Holidays, each of us can figure out what is our “corner.” What place is our point of change were we go from a straight line to a right angle?

What is that point of difficulty where we have to exercise new muscles and joints to make it work in another new way before venturing into new territory? Figure out that point or joint that is your own niche for change, and then turn it. Turn that corner. It’s hard at first.

But it’s so worth it.

See you around the corner!


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