The Situation

I don’t write about it because

writing about it

would be like the abortive attempt I made

in my spiral bound notebook —

the one with the mandala —

to describe the scene

with the wedding gown,

in the ground floor shop

of my dream last night.

The one with Winona Ryder who

donned a 1920s inspired

off-white sleeveless gown

(really, they were cap sleeves).

I opened the curtain of

the dressing room to find her

half-naked due to the

deep and dramatic V

reaching down her abdomen

revealing the

underscoop of her breasts

and half of one nipple.

“It’s beautiful,” I told her.

“But you’ll need to have it altered.

I’m worried they won’t be able

to maintain the look

once it’s fitted to your frame.”

She didn’t listen.

She told the seamstress to

press on and then, of course,

the dream shifted to the scene

in the ice cream shop

where the chiropractor I used

to know was offering me pills —

rat poison packaged as RU486 flavored

jelly beans.

They were red, with the taste of cherry,

and they made me gag as I chewed them.

So you see why

I can’t write about it.

There is beauty

and there is darkness

and they blend together at times

in a way that’s describable

but only to the point of

surreal not to the point

of understanding.

Not to the point

at which you know

you have  navigated

directly into my thoughts.

 

Their stubborness, their bodies

Yesterday wasn’t the first day I was reminded that we accidentally on purpose train our daughters to give up rights to their bodies.

Even though the more mindful of us will have conversations with our young ones about ownership of their “private parts,” about “stranger danger”, about saying “No,” there is one place many of us do not let our daughters (or our male children) say when and how someone gets to touch them:

At the doctor’s office.

Or in our case, as of late, the dentist’s.

My daughter has been wary of the doctor since she was a baby — before she had the means to communicate with any body part other than her eyes. Our pediatrician at the time, a kind and aware woman in New Jersey, often joked about my daughter’s “stubborness.”

We joke about it, too.

“What does that mean?” My daughter (four years old, at the time) asked one day after being told (by me), “”You are so stubborn!”

“Stubborn means beautiful,” I would say, caught in that uncomfortable place I often find myself as a mother.  I hadn’t meant stubborn as a compliment, but I didn’t necessarily want her to know that. At that time, stubborn meant “willful” or “demanding” or “contrary.” It referred to my daughter’s insistence on pouring the milk by herself; carrying in her tiny hands the two-layered birthday cake that took an hour to ice.

But, the truth is, stubborn is beautiful, especially when it comes to our daughters. For it’s our willfulness that allows us to say, “No” when we need to.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our young daughters (let’s say under age 10), it seems that only adults get to determine when there is a true need to tell someone, “Hands off!”

When our young daughters say no — whether it is to the doctor or the dentist or the tailor trying to hem a dress — we are annoyed at them. We scold them, or punish them. What message does that send? Do we really expect them to have the courage, later, at age 12 to be able to say a firm, “Get off!” Do we really expect them to believe at age 16, “my body, my choice?”

My daughter has had a few traumatic experiences at the dentist lately. The last one was the last straw and I took her and her file out from the free dental clinic provided by our national health care system here in Israel.  I couldn’t responsibly watch my daughter in that chair anymore being told what to do and that “big girls don’t cry.”

What to do, though? My daughter needed two fillings. How could I make her get them without “making” her?

After a few days, we decided to bring her to a private dentist recommended by a friend — something not in our budget, but as I saw it, a necessity. His reputation was for being kind and gentle and good with children.

He was amazing. He treated her, even at 5 1/2 years old, like someone who was in control of her body. Someone who got to make decisions about when someone touched her and how. He told her from the moment she entered his office, “You are in control. You get to decide.” He even created this “trick” by which the mechanized toothbrush would stop spinning whenever she raised her hand up in the air. She, indeed, got to decide.

I know it’s not simple. Our kids do need to see the doctor and the dentist. There will be times when we make them do things they don’t want — get flu shots, have their ears checked, try on new shoes.

But let’s not fool ourselves, those of us who claim to be advocates for women. Let’s not pretend that we give our girls full freedom. That they make the rules about their bodies. They don’t. At least, not always. Not even in families or with doctors with the best, most progressive intentions.

We send our children, our daughters, very mixed messages.

The straight message: Force is force. Whether it’s in the dorm room or at the dentist.

Is there a way to be more mindful of this, as parents, so our children learn early on the message we want them to internalize? I think so.

I think it starts with: Stubborn is beautiful.

 

 

Synchronistically delicious

I am often troubled when I hear people use the word “serendipity” when I think they mean “synchronicity.” But I never really investigated the difference between the two words.

In my unresearched opinion, I always imagined synchronicity as attached to “meaningful” or extraordinary. Whereas serendipity is more playful, like a cup of frozen hot chocolate.

serendipity

Lucky. Fortuitous. Unexpected. Right place at the right time sorta thing.  Whereas synchronicity … when it happens … almost feels as if its arrival was fated. Expected, even if not by the participants. Anticipated, in some way, even if unseen to all but the gods until the very moment the synchronicity occurs.

Synchronicity, to me, carries in its meaning a certain divinity, a certain magic.

So much so that I remember distinctly when and where I was when I first heard the word and its layperson’s explanation.  I was at the lake house of a friend in celebration of her engagement. While dipping my feet in the lake, I chatted with a friend of the bride-to-be whom I’d never met before. She shared with me the details of a paper she was working on (perhaps her Master’s thesis or her dissertation), all on the topic of this experience called “synchronicity.”

I admitted to her that I’d never heard the word before.

“Oh,” she smiled. “But you’ve certainly had this experience.” She went on to describe what I had always thought of (at least since reading The Celestine Prophecy in 9th grade) as “meaningful coincidence.”

However, “meaningful coincidence” always sounded lame. Such a deeply moving or spiritual encounter needed a better descriptor.

“Synchronicity,” a word steeped in the concept of time (my favorite philosophical topic of conversation both then and now), was perfect for me. I was so thankful for having met this woman at the lake. Our meeting was, in fact, meaningful. Synchronicitous (synchronistic?), we joked at the time.

Perhaps this is why I loved so much Ginz’s response to my “haiku challenge” yesterday.

Walking alone is
often the first step towards
synchronicity.

This, indeed, is what I was going for when I was trying to describe the outcome of a walk alone I took yesterday. Too me, synchronicity, isn’t just a word, but a timely, yet timeless explanation for magic, for meaning, for connection.

When “alone” unexpectedly transforms into “no longer alone.” And loneliness is replaced by oneness.

Friday writing challenge: 15 minutes of…

In Israel, Fridays are Saturdays. Which is to say — they are the first full day of the weekend.

But Fridays aren’t Saturdays.

For many reasons.

For one, Friday is the day leading up to Shabbat — the 25-hour or so rest period during the week for observant Jews.

We’re not observant Jews.

But we’re not, non-observant Jews.

I often refer to myself here in Israel as a Jew-in-progress.

I am playing with my Judaism.

It’s fun.

For me, Shabbat means dressed up Fridays and a Saturday morning buffet unlike any I’ve ever experienced before.

Fridays are a day to prepare for Shabbat, so that Saturday we may relax and enjoy being in the moment. Each moment. Whether the moment is a board game with my son, or a meditation group with my neighbors, or a quick nap in front of the TV.

On Fridays, we clean the house (since we never have time or energy during the work week); we prepare a nice dinner for our family or for guests (since Friday is the only night we truly eat together as  family); and — if we’re really lucky — my husband and I might find time for a snooze or a chapter or a whatever it is we want to do with our limited free time left.

My kids all have programs on Friday mornings, which is awesome.

But what typically happens is my husband and I spend the entire morning cleaning and cooking and then right at 11:45 am, 15 minutes before the kids come home, we’re finished.

We have 15 minutes left.

What can you do with 15 minutes?

Not really enough time to chill or read or watch the 12 hours of recorded programs on our DVR.

But 15 minutes IS enough time to write.

Most people would say, “not so.”

What can you write in 15 minutes?

What they really mean is: How well can you write in 15 minutes?

Well, what if the point was not to write well?

But just write … and share what you’ve written.

No time to think through your topic carefully. No time to outline your story. No time to proofread or edit.

No time left.

Writing this way requires a completely different mindset.

It means … you have to let go.

And just write.

For me, this is almost unspeakable. Except I just spoke it.

And I’m about to do it.

Want to play with me?

If so, go ahead. Write something. Then, add a link to your 15-minute Friday writing challenge post in the comments below. Tag your post 15-minute Friday.

Can’t wait to see what happens when you, too, choose to let go … and just write.