Monday, November 25, 2013

Blogging Love

While attending a family bat mitzvah in Sylvania, OH, this past weekend, I received an email message that I'd been mentioned in a tweet:

I nominate for #SunshineAward (…) @mom2mikey @bgiourme @rabbiisa @JanetheWriter @BarbMitzvah @CoffeeShopRabbi @ollibean

Many thanks to Lisa Friedman, who not only mentioned me in her tweet, but also nominated me for a #SunshineAward.  I'm honored that Lisa has provided an opportunity for her readers to learn more about me, and that she believes my writing makes a significant contribution to the blogging community.

As Lisa has already done, I am about to pay it forward by nominating other bloggers for a #Sunshine Award  based on the "rules" detailed in Lisa's post: 
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger (Thanks again, Lisa).
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
Ready?  Here we go with 11 random facts about me:
  1. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a writer.  As part of a second grade book binding project, I insisted that the last page of my book be entitled "About the Author," which was a short (I was, after all, only seven) bio about me.
  2. Likewise, in The Homecoming, the movie that launched The Waltons television series, I was insanely envious of John-Boy, who received a stack of yellow writing pads as a Christmas gift from his Daddy near the end of the movie.
  3. I have two of the same tattoo, a fact that comes as no surprise to regular readers of this blog.
  4. In high school, I took a career assessment test.  The results suggested I'd be a good nun.  Hmmm...
  5. I studied Russian and Latin in high school.
  6. I'm a big fan of Jewish music and listen to it often.
  7. I'm not a big fan of television and have never seen a full episode of either Friends or Seinfeld.
  8. I'm incredibly out of touch with pop culture and couldn't identify Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe or Natalie Portman if my life depended on it.
  9. I could live on carbs--french fries, mac and cheese, and pasta (any shape or size) are my all-time favorites.
  10. I've visited Barrow, AK, but never Chicago, IL, except to change planes at O'Hare.
  11. I'm still in regular contact with Mrs. Chromczak, my fourth grade teacher
 Here are my answers to Lisa's 11 questions:
  1. If you could cast yourself in any reality TV show, which would it be and why? I have no idea...see #7 above!
  2. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?  Crunchy
  3. Favorite place to vacation? Someplace I've never been before...perhaps Chicago.  See #10 above!
  4. What animal most describes your personality? A canine mutt...happy to go out to explore and play during the day, but also wants to be snug and cozy at home each night.
  5. Favorite ice cream flavor?  Rocky road
  6. Cookie or cake?  Cookie, but only when it's a black and white, which, when it's done right, has the consistency of a moist cake.
  7. Describe your ideal day.  Sleeping in, breakfast out, writing in a cafe and then back home to read, relax and nap.
  8. What is your favorite season? Winter
  9. What is your favorite thing about blogging?  Love the writing...and the feedback!
  10. How do you relax? If I was better at it, maybe I wouldn't have high blood pressure?
  11. What did you have for breakfast? Yoplait Greek yogurt (vanilla flavor) over a cubed Ginger Gold apple.
Here are six blogs that I'm nominating for a #Sunshine Award. Although I wish it was 11, with limited time and energy, these are the blogs I read with the greatest frequency: 
  1. Ima on (and off) the Bima
  2. Superman Sam
  3. This Messy Life
  4. Greatest Escapist
  5. Stumbling towards meaning  
  6. Elevated Risk
The first five, like my own, are slice-of-life blogs while number six focuses on one woman's journey as a BRCA gene mutation carrier.  I hope you'll check out the works of these bloggers and that their words and experiences will move you as they so often move me.  Most of all, I hope you'll give these writers the blogging love that they so richly deserve for regularly and with tremendous grace and generosity putting themselves and their families "out there" in the blogosphere.

Finally, for the bloggers I've just nominated for a #Sunshine Award, here are my 11 random questions for you:
  1. What's your favorite book from childhood?
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  3. Coffee or tea?
  4. Favorite food?
  5. What was the make and model of the first car you owned?
  6.  Do you have a library card for the town in which you live?  
  7. When was the last time you used that library card?
  8. What's the most exotic or offbeat place to which you've traveled?
  9. Are you hosting Thanksgiving or being hosted?
  10. Did you pass your drivers test the first time you took it?
  11. What mode of transportation do you use most often to get to work?
May this nomination widen your readership and help your readers learn a bit more about you and what makes you tick.

Happy blogging!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Happy Birthday, The Mums

Dear The Mums,

It's a yucky day -- unseasonably warm and rainy -- in New York City so I hope there's good weather wherever you are and that you're enjoying your birthday.  If you see Larry Kaufman today, don't forget to wish him a happy birthday, too.  In addition to a love of Torah and the URJ, a November 17th birthday was something else the two of you shared.

There's lots to tell to bring you up to speed, so let's go.

Last night I had dinner with Karen and Phil Ott, who were visiting in New York for the weekend.  It was, as always, great to see them and, except for a few more gray hairs, they haven't changed at all!  Over dinner, Karen told me that you'd hung a bunch of different post cards over my crib, including Van Gogh's Starry Night.  She also told me that you often referred to me as Madame Nhu. Hmmm...based on what I read about her on Wikipedia, I can't quite figure that one out, but perhaps Daddy can shed some light on that particular nickname. 

Two weeks ago, I spent the day at Lafayette, where I was the November 6th speaker in the annual Madame de Lafayette series, which "seeks to recognize what it means to be a woman in the 21st century."  As I have done several times in the past, I spoke candidly about my BRCA journey, noting that had I heard a talk like my own when I was a student, the trajectory of our family's history had the potential to be different than it actually played out.  If my remarks help change the course of just one other family's history as it relates to hereditary cancer, you and I together will have added some good to the world.  (I'm not sure why the online publicity refers to me as Rev. Herman, but spending the day in Easton -- reconnecting with Bob and Sandy Weiner, meeting current students, many of whom are active in Hillel and/or members of Alpha Gam, and seeing Terry and Tom's Matthew, a Laf Coll freshman this year -- was, indeed, good for my soul!)

I'll have a chance to do more awareness raising about BRCA mutations at two upcoming events.  The first is  a Biennial learning session, where I'll be a panelist together with Rabbi Marci Zimmerman from Temple Israel in Minneapolis and Dr. Susan Domchek, Executive Director, Basser Research Center for BRCA.  In early February, I'm scheduled to speak at the Sisterhood Shabbat at Congregation Beth Or in Ambler, PA.  Terry's planning to come with me, and she and I are already planning to make a weekend of it!

As tough as the whole BRCA mutation journey has been, it is, at least, a harbinger -- something my friend Phyllis didn't have when leukemia struck her son, Sam.  He just turned eight and, despite a bone marrow transplant from SuperMensch at the end of August, the family's huge community learned this past week that the cancer has returned and, as she wrote on Sam's blog, "There is no cure.  There is no treatment."  The six of them -- Phyllis and Michael, Sammy and his sibs -- will be off to Israel shortly, where they'll be packing a lifetime of memories into the time they've got left.  We are so sad for all of them.  There are no words and, as I noted on Facebook yesterday, "Jacob isn't the only one wrestling with God this week."

I don't want to end on such a sad note so I'll tell you that Daddy and I are going to Detroit next weekend for Carolyn's bat mitzvah.  Amy and Ian, unfortunately, can't go, not only because of Amy's crazy travel schedule, but also because she recently signed a book deal (!) and her writer is going to be in New York at the same time she would be at the bat mitzvah.

One last thing:  It's certainly not a book deal, but I recently took on an interesting freelance project with the Mellon Foundation, thanks to my connection to Scott from New Hampshire, and I need to go do some work on it.  I'll write again soon.

Happy birthday, The Mums...miss you...xoxo,

~ Boo!