Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth, The Mums

Dear The Mums,

It's the Fourth of July and, as always, with the Macy's fireworks booming and sparkling right outside my window, I am reminded of how much you loved that annual show in the sky.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

It's All About the Ping Pong Balls: Getting Our Priorities Straight

"If I had my life to live over again I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded."
-- Erma Bombeck
Last weekend I was in Philadelphia to attend Joining FORCEs Against Hereditary Cancer, the annual conference of FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, the largest national organization devoted solely to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

During the Friday morning no o'clock breakfast and training session for the many volunteers who were there from throughout the country, Diane, one of organization's leaders, demonstrated for us the value of prioritizing in our busy lives. Although it was neither a new nor an original demo, it was, without a doubt, an extremely timely and essential reminder in a room full of individuals whose time is at a premium.

Using a large Mason jar and a few other props, Diane began by filling the jar with ping pong balls, representing the most important things in our lives. My ping pong balls include time (and space) with my dad, my sister, my nephew, and my friends, as well as time to read, write, attend minyan and Torah study,  poke around the city, and, for a bit of totally mindless relaxation, play Words with Friends and watch some television -- mostly Jeopardy, the Food Network, and yes, sometimes even a little QVC.

Next, she added pebbles, which represent the next-in-line important things and fell into the jar around the ping pong balls. Pebbles in my life include my job, my volunteer work with FORCE, and taking care of my health.

After the pebbles, Diane poured sand in the jar. The grains are the minutia in our lives: grocery shopping, paying bills, laundry and dry-cleaning, housecleaning, maintaining the car, mowing the lawn, and the like. I bet that I'm not the only one for whom these mundane tasks (and getting them done) take up a disproportionate amount of time, energy, and worry -- because we let them.

Finally, she poured a cup of coffee into the Mason jar to represent everything else we have to make time for in our lives, such as visits from the in-laws (depending, of course, on how you feel about yours). By then, although the jar's contents were what my sister would call "a hot steaming mess," everything was in. Filled in reverse, as this video illustrates, the jar would not begin to hold all the things that take time in our lives -- least of all our ping pong balls.

Indeed, it's all about the ping pong balls -- and making sure they fit.

Monday, June 15, 2015

ICYMI: Ten Minutes of Torah

Photo by Flickr user @Sam Felder/CC
In case you missed it, I penned last Friday's Ten Minutes of Torah, which is produced and distributed by the URJ.

The emails, texts, and messages I've received in response have been incredible, and I'm planning to compile them into a round-up post in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned...

Monday, June 8, 2015

Reunion Reflections

It's been 30 years -- an entire generation -- since Meryl Streep offered us her crystalline acapella rendition of Que Sera Sera, kicking off her commencement address

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Week of Anniversaries: Bitter and Sweet

This past week has been full of anniversaries.  

Last Saturday, May 30, marked five years since my mom died.  In 2010, it was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.  We had stayed with her late into the evening on Saturday, and one of the last things we read aloud and sang to her in hospice was havdalah.  It was fitting, therefore, that she chose the wee hours of Sunday morning to separate herself from this world and move on to Olam Ha‑Ba.  Exactly three years later, I (finally) graduated from Baruch College's School of Public Affairs with an MPA, an event that ultimately, I was insistent my dad and I attend.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

No Surprises Here

Having been participating regularly in the #RhodiaPaperProject, I won't surprise anyone with the news that I loved the most recent samples as much as any that have come before.

Week #17 included three different sheets of 90g blank white paper:
  • GraFit Sketch Pads (the smallest)
  • Trophee Sketch Pads (the middle size)
  • Crok' Book (the largest size)
Week #18 samples included four sheets of ivory, lined paper:
  • Rhodia Webnotebook  90g (small)
  • Quo Vadis Habana 85 g (small)
  • Rhodia Webnotebook 90g (large)
  • Quo Vadis Habana 85g (large)

Of course all the samples are smooth, high quality, and accommodated the wet, heavy inks I prefer -- with no bleed through, no feathering, and no smudging.  The Week #17 samples are best suited for sketching or doodling, and I certainly will use them for that purpose.

By contrast, the lines on the Webbie and Quo Vadis samples make them best for writing. Although I like the size of the large Quo Vadis Habana sheet, the line spacing on the page is too tight -- and not nearly wide enough to accommodate my large writing.  The same is true for the small Quo Vadis and Webbie samples.  Only the large Webnotebook sample has a line width that will accommodate my penmanship adequately, although I could adjust my writing to be able to use the narrower ruled sheets.

Looking forward to Week #19 paper samples and to more experimentation with paper and pens!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Unbreakable Bonds in a Wedding Dress…and in Genes

Dear Olivia, Madeline, Megan, Hilarie, Mary, and Betsy,

I’m sure that today today wasn’t an easy day for you, Olivia, Madeline, Megan or Hilarie.  I send each of you my deepest condolences on the loss of your mother.  It is, I think, the hardest loss of all – and makes every subsequent Mother’s Day, and all the days leading up to it, difficult, painful, and sad.