Love, Mindfulness

What’s missing

Did you ever notice how much we crave what’s missing? Money, love, things, friends?

For good and for bad — since missing also often reminds us of how much we truly have —  we put a lot of unintended energy towards missing.

I also notice how much unintended energy I put into anticipation. How revved up I get. Excited, nervous, anxious. Often, I put much more energy into anticipating than into the activity or interaction itself.

In some ways, I relish that moment “just before.” We learn by experience from a very early age that the moment just before something good is often the climax of the event itself. And certainly more satisfying than when the moment has passed.

It’s not purposeful, this anticipatory anxiety; this desire.

It’s automatic.


We get very little training in how to appreciate the moment.

The before is often… heart-stirring.

The after is sometimes… heartbreaking.

Either way, our heart is moved. And this is what our mind remembers.

But the moment itself?

Unless we make a great effort — which we often don’t — the moment itself is tempered, at best, and at worst, passes us by without much of our emotional attention.

We’re too busy doing to feel.

So, in a way, we’re training our heart to crave the before and after. Not the moment itself.

When I think about how much emotional upheaval I often go through in the acts of missing and anticipation, I wonder how my heart can handle it all. And if, in some way, I can channel the efforts of anticipation and missing into love and appreciation of the moment itself.

Is this even possible?

Has anyone succeeded in doing this?

Is it as simple as re-training my heart to stir …or to break… in the moment itself, as opposed to before and after?

To purposefully redirect the spinning whirlwind…

To feel alive while in the act of living?

In right now?

Climate Changes, Community, Environment, Family

A simple Earth Day in Israel

I remember my first Earth Day experience.

It was 10th grade and someone came up with the idea to boycott styrofoam.

The lunch room, of course, used styrofoam trays. And despite the efforts of a few forward thinking, future activists, the school administration refused to reconsider this earth-unfriendly decision.

So the students revolted. At a coordinated time in the afternoon, which happened to fall in the middle of Biology class, we watched the minute hand move slowly towards the 3. At 1:15 pm precisely, a handful of us stood up (after confirming with our eyes that we wouldn’t back out) and walked out of the classroom to the grassy field in front of the school.

We stayed there — despite warnings from the hall monitors and the lunch aides– shouting “No more styrofoam! Heal our Earth!” (or something powerfully catchy like that.) When the bell rang for the next period, I headed to Spanish class. And that concluded my career as a teenage environmental activist. This minor act was the only rebellious thing I did in my entire high school career. And I regret that. I should have staged more walk-outs or at least pierced more extremities.

Nothing changed in the lunchroom after the protest; not at least during my four years at Cherry Hill High School East.  The styrofoam trays hung around  — long after our protests. I bet they’re still hanging around… in a dump somewhere.

20 years later, I hope someone’s wised up and reinstated washable, reusable trays. Even wiser would be to bring your own lunch considering trans fatty french fries and carcinogenic hot dogs are still the stars of the lunchroom and that school lunches are linked with obesity. But I digress.

20 years later, I’m still the good girl I was in high school.

I can’t help myself.

The most rebellious act I’ll be pulling on this upcoming Earth Day, Monday, April 22 is blogging about other people’s trash.

Or picking some up.

Frankly, that’s better than doing nothing, which is what most people will opt to do on Monday.


Earth Day, for most, is just another piece of colored in line-art in a child’s backpack. It’s just another front page feature in Parade Magazine. It’s a photo op.

Surely, some will visit an eco-themed art exhibit or see an eco-film. Some might even take part in a small protest like I did once upon a time.

Not me.

I propose we all do something simple on Monday.

Pick up a piece of trash. Someone else’s trash.

Put it in the proper receptacle — paper with paper. Plastic with plastic. Food stuff in a compost pile.

This one simple act doesn’t require group think. Or a ticket stub.

Just you.

Pick up some trash.

If you want to take one extra step, consider not buying anything on Monday that’s meant to be thrown away.

And stop throwing stuff away. Keep it. Reuse it. Pass it on.

Teach your kids all of the above.

Make Earth Day simple this year.

Be a lone activist … and see how even a quiet, obedient good girl (or boy) can make a difference.

Learning Hebrew, Letting Go

Like A Kid Again

There are times when living as an immigrant in a non-English speaking country makes you feel and act like a child:

For instance:

You get lost. FREAK OUT! Where’s my mommy?

You can’t find what you need when you need it at the pharmacy. FREAK OUT! Where’s my mommy?

You don’t get what you need when you need it at the bank/post office/government agency. FREAK OUT! Where’s my mommy?

Cry hysterically.

Kick. Scream. Pound fists on floor.

Run out of steam. Leave dejected.

Yes, being a new immigrant is exhausting.

A lot like childhood, but with less opportunities for naps.

But nothing makes you feel like a child more than the process of acquiring a new language while living in a foreign country.

In the beginning, you’re like a baby …you understand almost nothing.  But people around you think you’re cute, so they speak slowly to you or patiently use hand signals.

After a while of living in the foreign country,  you start to adjust and understand, but you’re still completely incapable of communicating.

Then, slowly slowly, you can communicate … in baby talk. Ah, sweet release as you realize you can get your point across … sorta.

Then, at some point you start noticing and comprehending words around you — on signs, on the front covers of magazines, on the sides of trucks.

And without realizing it, you’ve grown up.

You’ve become a big girl. You can read. You get things. You’re in on the joke.

I experienced one of these exhilarating awakenings yesterday when I was driving to work.

I saw a bus in front of me.


And I slowly read the sign.

I knew the first word was Nativ. It was a word I recognized. And I knew the second word didn’t look like a regular Hebrew word, but I didn’t know what it was. So I sounded the letters out.

Just as if I was a first grader again. Syllable by syllable.

Using the only method I knew how to attempt comprehension.

I wasn’t panicked or rushed. So I could be calm and just explore the letters and the sounds with my tongue.

I felt my head move side to side as my brain worked through the problem.

What is it?

I was inside myself and outside myself at the same time. Participant and observer.

I reminded myself of my 6 year old son.

I imagine, deep inside, I reminded myself of me.

6 year old me.







I figured it out!

I was alone in the car so there was no one to share my excitement with.

And yet, I could see my face.

I knew my face must have looked as accomplished as my son’s when he learns a new word. It’s a look I’m familiar with lately. It’s the look of success he beams after he reads by himself a Level 2 book in English.

He’s good with the 4- and 5-letter words. But struggles when the words have multiple syllables.

He stumbles, frustrated.

But then he stops. Breathes.

And slowly slowly, he tries to read the unrecognizable new word:






And this is what being an immigrant is like in a non-English speaking country when you’re not lost, not seeking a product in a pharmacy or in desperate need of a document from a government agent.

When you’re not feeling out-of-control, you can tap into that spirit — the good part about being a kid.






Letting Go, Love, Writing

Do I have the heart to be a writer?

Once upon a time, I wrote a blog about being a bitch.

For a short time, this blog was a platform for me to be brave, outspoken, and sometimes, blunt.

People often misinterpreted my curt style as angry judgment.

I can see how.

But in my heart, I was an activist.

I blogged because I cared. Pure and simple.

And I wanted other people to care like I did.

I felt empowered when I wrote. And when people agreed with my outrage, I knew my mission was an honorable one.

Until someone disagreed.

Until someone called me a whiner. A complainer. Took me down personally.

Then, I began to question myself.

I loved the chorus of agreement, but had a hard time stomaching the malcontents.

It will come as little surprise to any experienced blogger that my most popular post — one in which I go after Dr. Oz (stupid, stupid, never go after an Oprah protege) — was also the one that attracted the most negative attention, the most personal attacks.

It was the day after that post hit, I first questioned my fortitude.


I did not question the strength of my writing. I questioned whether I was strong enough to be read.

To live as a writer who people read. And with whom people engaged…and criticized.

Did I have the stomach for success?

I wasn’t so sure.

I’m still not.

I write because I have to.  I will always write. It’s a necessity. I know that now after too long of not knowing.

But I don’t know if I can face the readers who think my writing is not a necessity. Not a gift. Not a meaningful addition to the world.

And there will be, of course, readers like that.

As there will be readers who will love almost everything I write.

As there will be readers who fall in between. Those who adore me when my words paint a lovely picture, but abandon me when they’re too controversial, too honest, too personal, too raw.

It’s the raw in me that often becomes my best writing. And it’s the raw in me –I know — that moves others, too. Moves them in multiple, unpredictable directions.

It’s this unpredictable, electric dance that made me fall in love with writing. And it’s this dance that terrifies me.

Why is it that nature bequeaths the sensitive artist with the compulsive desire to create and share?

And how are we to reconcile this?

How may we accept the words of our critics as open-minded as we expect them to receive ours?


Letting Go, Love, Mindfulness, Parenting

The gift of a complicated question

Over the course of one weekend, my 6-year-old asked me two thinking cap questions.

“Is magic real?” and

“Are we rich?”


I love answering complicated questions. In fact, the conversations which follow these questions rank high on my top ten list of favorite parenting moments.


Well, obviously, I get really buzzed from the power and responsibility tied up in answering these questions.


I’m grown up enough to answer such questions?


You think I know the answers to such questions???


Are you saying my answers are the right answers?


Honey, I was hoping you had the answers.

Oh, how I am humbled by these moments, though, as much as I am empowered.

In these moments, I understand how much my answers will shape my son’s thinking.

But in these moments, I also understand how little my answers truly will shape his thinking. My answers, in the long run, will only set him thinking more.

In these moments, I am indebted to him for making me feel – even temporarily – as if I am brilliant, all-knowing, and in control. Simultaneously, though, I am in awe of the complete and utter faith a six-year-old has in his mother, and grateful for the gift he has given me — the simplicity with which I may answer.

When else in our lives are we gifted with such simplicity, such confidence, such love and respect?

Letting Go, Relationships, Work, Writing

Things I learned by being someone else’s assistant

I don’t know a thing about kids these days. Specifically, the kids getting bachelor’s degrees next month.

I know a lot about little kids — the ones who still need their bottoms and their noses wiped — but not about the big ones. The ones half my age. The ones desperately looking for jobs.

Apparently, it’s a dangerous time to be a young, reasonably intelligent but inexperienced job seeker, which makes me confused and sad.

Confused because I don’t remember my generation having the wealth of opportunities dem gosh darn newspapers claim existed.

Back when I was 22 (in the mid 90s, thank you very much), I had to agree to be somebody’s slave for a year (aka unpaid internship), and if I was really good at my job, maybe (just maybe) they’d bring me on the next year as a research assistant making an annual salary high enough to pay for food, but not necessarily rent.

The good news is that my upper middle class parents could supplement my income.

The bad news is I wanted to be independent so badly I said, “No, thank you,” and found a house to rent on 14th and East Capitol Street in Washington, D.C.  2 miles from the closest Metro stop, but just around the corner from your neighborhood hungry drug dealer.

I’m sad, too, to read that kids these days are having a hard time finding work because looking back, the first three jobs I had out of college were the hardest, the lowest paying, but most certainly the richest in terms of life lessons. I am the hard-working, versatile, compassionate professional I am today thanks to my experiences working like a dog for people who treated me poorly or patiently, as I reacted and responded to their every whim.

It helped that I worked for an egomaniacal fanatic academic;

a visionary, but temperamental creative;

a brilliant, but misunderstood obsessive-compulsive who craved gourmet cheese.


These mentors (yes, even the crazy ones mentored me) taught me not only how to edit like a perfectionist; how to lick envelopes so they closed fully; how to follow up on faxes three times to make sure they were received; they also taught me who to be so people want to work for you; as opposed to arriving one morning minus one assistant, but plus one carefully typed, and heavily proofread “Dear John” letter on your desk.

By being someone else’s assistant, I learned what Simon Sinek swears by:

“Those who lead inspire us… Whether they are individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to but because we want to.”

Simon Sineky
Simon Sinek

Of the bosses that pushed me around — and all of them did, even the nice ones — I worked harder for the ones who treated me like a human being poised to be someone someday. Like a boss in the making. Like a grownup-to-be.

The man that finally promoted me from assistant to “coordinator” used to call me his “rising star.” And for this man, I worked hardest. To this day, more than a decade since I worked for him, I consider him my most inspiring and valuable mentor. If for nothing else than telling me, and telling others, I was a rising star.

He made me believe it.

And from his words, and his conviction, I rose.

It’s hard for me to believe or accept that there are no jobs out there for our young people. That there are no crazy, obsessive-compulsive pedantic workaholics seeking someone to read through and sort into color-coded folders 2,745 inbox emails; no minimum wage opportunities through which to prove how late you will stay in order to work your way up to a cubicle with three temporary walls instead of none.

I just don’t believe it.

If we aren’t going to give our young people today the chance to be someone else’s assistant, how will they ever learn to be grownups?

How will they ever learn who to trust and who not to? How to treat others? How to speak kindly? How it feels to finally receive acknowledgement, praise, a raise?

If we don’t maintain or create new entry-level positions for our young people, who will inspire them to action? To rise to the top in order to not be at the bottom anymore? To innovate something new to fix the stupid, old ways their bosses insist they follow religiously?

Our young people are our future.

And it’s our job to push them around,

so they will yearn to learn how to fly on their own.

Fly, and then lead.

Letting Go, Love, Mindfulness, Writing

I really, really don’t want a book deal

I really, really don’t want a book deal.

Just kidding.

Which blogger doesn’t want a book deal?

Put your hands down.

Stop pretending like you blog for the fun of it.

I say that all the time, too.

I don’t mean it.

Except for when I do.

Which is a lot of the time.

But then there’s the day when a mommy blogger I’ve never met gets a book deal and my eyes bug out and steam pours from both of my ears and my heart and belly both get stuck in my throat and deep inside I


…In my inside voice. The louder of the two.

Where’s my book deal?!?!?

And then my other inside voice answers back,

“What makes you think you’re getting a book deal?”

And the scream, now subdued says, “Well, you know. Someone should just discover me and fall in love with my writing and offer me lots of advance money (or at least plumb royalties) and beg me to write a book. A whole SERIES even.”

“Oh,” the peaceful, reasonable voice answers with subtle condescension. “I see.”

What she’s not saying (in her peaceful, reasonable tone) is:

Stop waiting around for someone to discover you.

Stop wanting what other people have.

Stop being regretful about what you think you should have done, but didn’t. What blog you should have kept up, but didn’t. What career you should have stuck with, but didn’t. What path you should have taken, but didn’t.

She’s only being a little bit judgy, just enough to quiet the screaming.


I have a colleague whose dad is a celebrity.

She hardly ever talks about said celebrity, except in the context of his dad-ness.

I’ve never asked her about this. Or what it’s like to be the daughter of someone so famous.

I imagine, though, her modesty has something to do with her relationship to him.

To her, he’s dad. It doesn’t matter how famous he is or becomes, his celebrity will always be secondary to her.

And I think in all the glorifying we do of celebrity — of book deals, of magazine covers, of awards and prizes and titles — we lose sight of celebrity’s secondary-ness, its subservience.

We lose sight of the inevitable real life behind the celebrity. Why?

Because save for the tabloid spreads, we hardly see the real life behind the celebrity.

The anxiety that comes the day after a book deal was signed.

The self doubt.

The need to please, to produce, to win.

To look good. To smell good.

To smile. To have a good hair day.

We hardly ever hear of their breast cancer scares, their hemorrhoids, their financial troubles, their soured friendships. Save for the celebrities who’ve publicly shared bits and pieces of their angst in well-placed magazine features, we hardly hear of their suffering.

And they all, certainly, suffer.


No matter how many times we read Everyone Poops, we still imagine that celebrities poop with greater ease, with more satisfaction, with softer toilet paper.

And maybe they do.

But, most likely they don’t.

And, as corny as it sounds, no matter how much we wish we were more famous, more successful, more educated, more experienced, we often fail to acknowledge or recognize how famous, successful, educated, and experienced we already are.

This is what I try to tell my screaming inside voice.

You are already famous.

Seriously, I can find at least three people who believe I’m famous (and yes, their last names are the same as mine.)

And I bet I could find someone out there who is not a blood relative that wishes they could have a job like mine, or a husband like mine, or write a blog like I do.

I am already famous.

Despite that: I still scream inside every now and again when somebody gets a book deal.

And I probably will until the day I finally accept that I am already famous enough.

The day I finally accept I am already famous, is the day I will finally achieve the pinnacle of my success.

Peace, love, and ease.

Behind all our secret or public clamoring for celebrity, what we really desire is peace, love and ease.

And that, my screaming inside voice, is better than a book deal.

Family, Love

There are days like this

Some days I feel really bad I’m not creating more intentional and meaningful traditions for my kids.

Holiday rituals.

Bedtime rituals.

Weekend rituals.

For an obsessive-compulsive anxiety-prone doomsday prepper, you’d think I’d be more ritual loving.

Save for my weekly Friday morning cleaning rituals, I’m not.

Rituals or not, I do believe I’m creating content for my kids’ memoirs (which I secretly hope will end up in the humor section next to David Sedaris).

The tradition my husband and I unintentionally foster most in our family is laughing when you should be shuddering with fear or despair; evidenced by my children’s reaction last weekend to our epic fight in the car on one of the final days of “Israeli Passover Survivor.”

In order not to divulge too much information that will first cause my husband to leave me and second propel his lawyer to file for defamation and full custody, I’ll just say that my children should have been weeping in response to our lower-than-low behavior, but instead they laughed.

They laughed hysterically.

One barb followed the next. And it didn’t matter if it came out of his mouth or mine, they laughed.

They thought we were joking. Or they just thought we were practicing inappropriate comedy routines a la Louis CK or Dane Cook  (neither of which my children know or love … yet.)

Maybe they were giggling nervously. I definitely passed onto them a propensity for this flaw.

But their laughter was louder than giggling, and together they fueled each other on.

The front seat was a war zone.

But the back seat was the first row at the Improv.

Who knows why my children were laughing?

At the time — even in the heat of the inappropriateness of that moment — I understood I’d rather they laugh than shut down in fear.

This is true for almost every day of my life…and theirs.

I’d rather they laugh.

I don’t know if laughter is a tradition or a ritual or something that can be truly intentionally passed on from parent to child.

All I know is that it makes days like this tolerable,


It turns our resentment into ridiculousness.

It dissolves pain and bitterness.

It quiets the doubt.

Laughter lets light in.

And then love in.

My children may grow up God-less heathens. They may grow up to be without conventions, customs, or culture.

But they will grow up laughing.

And I suppose this is as good an inheritance as any.