Tears for Las Vegas and somehow still hopeful for the future.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:10-04:00 October 2nd, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, death, gun violence, hate crime, Life, loss, victim|

I have ended up in tears more than once today. Started as shock and anger this morning when I woke to the news of what happened in Las Vegas. After making sure my loved ones who live there were ok, I had to start my day of waking up the kids, making lunches and walking the dog. I told the kids what happened. I had to. Mostly because I knew they would likely hear about it in school so I didn’t want the to be surprised by the news from anyone other than me. I was very matter of fact, with the little facts that had come in at that point, but it was still hard to do. We have had conversations about gun violence, and gun control recently, because family friends of ours had written and produced an incredible play about this subject, https://www.churchandstatetheplay.com. We all went to see the play and were all moved to tears, because it was all too real. I wrote it about it back then: https://totemtamers.com/heres-one-case-for-no-separation-of-church-state/

And sadly, here we are again. The death toll from the domestic terrorist incident that happened yesterday, which is now the worst mass shooting in US history, keeps climbing. The fear that these people felt last night, will never be erased from their minds. A childhood friend was on the strip last night, and reading his status updates was terrifying, even though I knew he was ok. THIS IS NOT OK!!! None of it. It’s not about your right to own and carry guns, it’s about protecting our fellow humans, and clearly we can’t seem to do that! No civilian should EVER have an automatic weapon. Period. I’m getting angry again, we should all be angry, we should all be doing something to make sure this never happens again.

And while my heart races, and blood pressure rises, and my teeth are clenched together, I hear music in the other room. The piano. My middle boy, the guitar player, is sitting at the piano. I walked out to see and my eyes filled with tears, my throat choked up, because there, creating something that sounded so lovely, there was my son teaching himself chords and seemingly crafting beauty out of nothing. There is my hope. There has to be my hope. We have to make sure our children do not need to live in fear. We have to make sure our children have a country they respect and believe in. We have to make sure our children continue to create and to live and to love. What will you do to make sure?

I was in Vegas a few years ago (my cousins remind me regularly of just how long ago, love you guys), and I found some of the pictures from that visit. A beautiful city bathed in lights, and now we have to bathe them with our light and our love. Viva Las Vegas!

Stay well.

Vegas in our hearts!

We Remember……

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:11-04:00 September 11th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, central park, death, hate crime, inspiration, Liberty, Life, loss, nyc, victim|

I was fortunate enough to be in Central Park last night with a lovely group of people. We were celebrating a friend’s birthday and the unofficial end of summer. We were laughing, we were eating, there might have been contraband beverages of several varieties, ahem, but we were enjoying each other and the beautiful night. As the sky darkened and we packed up our picnic, one by one, everyone’s eyes turned to the sky. There they were. The beams of light marking the place in the sky where the Twin Towers once stood. There was a momentary silence as we all realized what the lights were for, then realized we were on the eve of a horrific date that will forever be remembered. And then, with much gratitude, the kids starting running around, the crickets started chirping, someone might have spilled said contraband beverage (it might have been me), and the earth kept turning. In no way can the events of September 11, 2001 ever be minimized, but last night, the world was still going, and in that going, I find comfort. The lives lost, the heroes who are still impacted today by the illnesses related to Ground Zero, all of it, it’s unfathomable, but we have to go on, and we do, with the blessings of memories both old and new.

We remember.

Stay well.

Lessons from a displaced butterfly.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:12-04:00 August 13th, 2017|accessories, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, cars, civil rights, earth, gratitude, hate crime, immigration, inspiration, Liberty, Life, mental health, musical theater, parenthood, parenting, racism, sadness, strangers, stress relief, teenager, teenagers, teens, victim|

I must confess that it has been difficult to write in the last couple months because of the instability, unrest, fear, ugliness, uncertainty and more, that has been plaguing our great nation. Some might say “that’s the perfect time to write”, while others will say “I totally get it.” I simply continued to remind myself, that I tend to write when the story comes to me, and thankfully today it has. It’s not the story I intended to write about, but sometimes those are the ones that need telling.

I had pulled up to the dorm at Carnegie Mellon University, where my oldest son had just finished a Pre-college Drama program. Everyone had to be packed and out by 2pm, because the incoming students would be arriving shortly. I’m blissful in my “mommy-van” because my baby is coming home. There are lots of happy parents and families milling about, weepy teenagers sad to be leaving their newly made friends and surely sad to be giving up some newly found independence while they are whisked back in to the bosom of their family. A car pulls up behind me on the steep driveway of the dorm, it’s a mom and daughter, picking up a family member, too. I hop out to make sure there’s enough clearance for the trunk to open, and I immediately notice what looks like a big butterfly accessory pinned to the grill of this woman’s car. My first reaction is “Oh wow, another person who loves butterflies, and so much so that she didn’t hesitate pinning one to the front of her vehicle, right near the not-quite-peace-sign looking emblem announcing the make of her car!”

butterfly

Displaced butterfly

I quickly realized it wasn’t an accessory, but an actual butterfly that had gotten caught on the grill at some point during her drive. I walked over to the woman behind the wheel and motioned for her to open her window. With a smile, I told her that the most beautiful butterfly had gotten caught on the front of her car and that I wanted to take a picture of it before I tried to move it. I wasn’t asking permission, but just wanted to make sure she knew what I was doing, but also because I wanted to share my wonder of this creature. At this point, it occurred to me that this was not in fact another butterfly lover, this was a person who could care less about the beauty and delicate nature of such a creature pinned to her fancy schmancy car. You know how I know this? If someone came up to my car window and told me there was a butterfly stuck to my vehicle, I would have jumped out to see it and to see if I could help the butterfly. This woman seemed more annoyed than anything.  I proceeded to take the picture of the butterfly and promptly walked right back to her window and made her look at it, then I told her I was going to try and remove it. Her reaction was formulaic with a “how sad” kind of awwww, and then a tacit approval of my wanting to save the insect.

I wasn’t sure if the butterfly was still alive frankly, but even if it wasn’t, this person didn’t deserve to have such beauty on her vehicle. I gently managed to pry the insect off the car, and moved it to some foliage nearby.

butterfly

Butterfly found

I waited. I watched. At first I thought it was the breeze causing the butterfly’s wings to flutter, but after a moment, it was clear this butterfly was still alive and now safe.

So many different morals I could pull from this event, that lasted all of five minutes mind you, but will surely stay with me for a long time to come. I guess the supremely important lesson, and yes, I use supremely intentionally, is that it is up to us to keep watch for those who are oppressed, and in need of protection and care, and not only must we stand up for those creatures and stand with them, we must make sure that their oppressors are forced to look and see the object of their hate and ignorance. It may not impact their hateful views, but it will at least let them know that we are not afraid and we will not back down.

Hug your loved ones today, and hey, maybe even a stranger (ask permission first, of course.)

Stay well.

 

Frappuccino with a side of anti-semitism!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:15-04:00 April 10th, 2017|anger management, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, family, hate crime, holiday, Life, religion|

Happy Passover to those who celebrate. Chag Sameach to those who might know Hebrew. It translates into “joyous festival or holiday”, now you won’t have to look it up. The holiday starts momentarily and I hopped on a plane last minute with my kids to celebrate with Grandma and other family members. Anyone who knows me knows I am not religious, at all. I consider myself a “food jew” because I love Jewish food and make pretty darned good rugelach!  Well, today I felt more Jewish than I have felt in a really long time, and sadly it came out of the worst possible ugliness anyone should ever experience.

The Seder Plate!

I was picking up some last minute items for dinner, my two oldest along for company. They bribed me with their presence by weaseling out frappuccino’s from Starbuck’s. I’m a sucker, I know, but they are a pretty powerful team when they want something. There happens to be a Starbuck’s in one of the most religious areas near Grandma’s (it’s near a Synagogue), so I double-parked with my hazard lights a-flashing, while the boys ran in to get their drinks. There were plenty of cars doing the same thing, so even though I was blocking a lane partially, I wasn’t the only one. I was surprised when a very fancy black Rolls Royce (also a very chi-chi neighborhood) pulled up behind me and started laying on the horn. I mean, really honking! Everyone else went around, why didn’t this guy?! I was then totally and completely stunned, when the car pulled up next to me and the very distinguished looking, gray-haired passenger rolled down the window and screamed “Move you f#$ing Kike! You Kike!” I sat there in disbelief that someone could be so offensive, so horrible, and so angry! I hadn’t done anything personally to him, but the venom he spewed and the look in his eyes when he screamed that disgusting word at me, left me paralyzed for a good few minutes. It was in those few minutes I became overwhelmed considering every insult ever thrown at anyone for being different, and I got angry, really angry. Then I got sad, and then I got love, when my boys came back to the car and I told them what had happened. They were both shocked and both said how sorry they were that I had to experience that, and then they got angry too. We talked about the ugliness that exists in the world still today, and how we have to find a way to be a more accepting people. My middle suggested I write about the experience, so here I am, about to break Matzoh with family and friends and I will revel in the gefilte fish and the matzoh balls. I will also take pleasure in knowing that the man in the Rolls may be driving around in a fancy car but he will always be an angry and ugly human being. Chag Sameach!

Stay well.

Here’s one case for NO separation of “Church & State”!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:16-04:00 March 14th, 2017|activist, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, broadway, civil rights, Creative, creativity, death, donation, education, elections, family, grief, gun violence, hate crime, inspiration, Life, loss, mental health, motivation, nyc, politics, prayer, relationships, religion, sadness, school|

I don’t talk much about politics in this space, although if you have been a reader of this blog, you can pretty much gauge what side of the dais I would sit on. Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be about politics….really, well, not really, but sort of, maybe a little bit. This post is going to be about theater, drama, comedy and friendship. I went to theater the other night with a group of friends, to see a play that was written and produced by friends, and it had equal parts comedy and drama. The play is called “Church & State”, and it’s in previews now at New World Stages. While I was watching the play, I was struck with imagery of a heated tennis match, because my emotions were being slammed across the net between laughter, anger, fear and sadness. In less than 90 minutes, I was moved to a point of paralysis. Yes, moved so emotionally, that I couldn’t move physically for a few minutes after it ended, because I was taking it all in and letting it wash over me. I was having varied experiences, mind you. I had just watched a play that someone I know wrote and someone I know produced, and it was good. I mean, not just like “Oh wasn’t that sweet” kinda good, I mean “Holy crap, that was impressive” kinda good. And, the content was just so relevant, and important, and crucial to the current state of affairs of our country and our communities, that I wanted to get up and holler that something needs to be done!!! So here is my holler, GO SEE THIS PLAY!

Powerful new play!

I can tell you that this play is about a lot of things including politics, but also faith, speaking your mind, marriage, community, and death. I can tell you that this play is already making an impact and it hasn’t even opened yet! Politicians and celebrities are not only coming to see it, but some will even be participating in panels throughout the run of the play to further conversation about the controversial subject matter. I guess I’m being a little vague on purpose here, because I want to protect the power of the play and if you go in knowing too much, it might color the way you receive it. Even thinking about the play now, I get choked up! Of course, you can click on the link above and learn a little more about it and what inspired it, or you can take a chance and see something that will undoubtedly leave you thinking, if not shaking just a little bit.

Off my soapbox!

Stay well.

 

Paris in our hearts and on our minds.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:54-04:00 November 14th, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brothers, death, family, gun violence, hate crime, Liberty, Life, loss, military, nyc, parenthood, parenting, politics, prayer, soccer, totems, travel, Uncategorized, victim|

We wake up to a new day, the sun shining in New York City, a chilly wind providing shivers and reminders that winter is around the corner. Those shivers hardly distinguishable from the ones I’ve experienced since last night while following the tragic, and horrific attacks that took place in Paris. I can only consume the news in small doses, and find that watching it is even too much, so I periodically check Facebook and Twitter for the latest little tidbits. It is just so overwhelming. Some people need to know every detail and not miss any news update, because that’s helpful to them, but not me. A friend’s status update on Facebook  helped me find the words I wanted to share this morning. She was contemplating having the conversations with her children about what was happening in Paris, understanding that her older child would be able to process more info than her younger child. This made me consider how I would talk to my children as well. I know there will be lots of counselors and authorities out there giving their tips and suggestions, and they will all surely be helpful in some way or another. Please know that I am not a psychologist, or a social worker, or some “lettered” authority, I am a parent, and that gives me a voice for my experiences, and gratitude for a forum to share them. This is not about advice, this is not about right or wrong, this is about one person’s process, mine. My youngest (9) is sitting in the other room now, blissfully unaware and playing some game on his computer. I will go to him and plainly give him the facts about what happened in Paris, because opening that communication is more important than protecting him from reality, no matter how horrible. “Honey, I want to tell you what happened in Paris yesterday because you will probably be hearing a lot about it over the next couple days.  There was an attack, and many people were injured and killed by some very angry and very bad people.” That’s how the conversation will start, and then I will take his lead while guiding him along the way. He may ask tons of questions, he may also choose to go right back to watching silly YouTube videos, and that’s perfectly ok. I am all about honesty and being very straightforward with my kids, because I have found that the imagination can color way more horrifying pictures than the truth can. That being said, my almost 16 year old will be able to handle a whole lot more information than my little one, and even my middle one, and he’ll discover it on his own on the internet. So with him, the conversation will surely be different and maybe even more philosophical, but again, he may not want to go into all the details, but I will reassure that I am here to talk if he needs to. The bottom line is giving your children permission to ask questions, and giving yourself permission to being ok with not having the answers. Also, not being afraid to be open with them, even if it is about your own fears. Because sure I’m scared, and that’s reasonable, but I have faith that the people we charge to protect and serve us will do everything they can to protect us, and that’s how I go about my days. That’s what I will share with my children as I pray for their innocence to last just a little bit longer, and as I pray for the people of Paris and the rest of the world while we mourn right along with them.

Praying for Peace in Paris

Praying for Peace in Paris

Stay well.

Charleston on our minds and in our hearts.

By | 2015-06-18T16:45:11-04:00 June 18th, 2015|charleston, church, death, gun violence, hate crime, Life, prayer, racism, south carolina|

The only thing that can keep us going when faced with horrible scenarios like the one that occurred in South Carolina last night, is togetherness. We need to stand together in the face of this violence and mourn with each other, as the families and loved ones of those killed and injured yesterday will mourn. We now know that young man allegedly responsible for this hate crime is in custody, and the only hope is that there will be some light shed on what could bring someone so deep into hate as to take the lives of so many. Let’s not make this about religion, even though violence in a house of worship is sickening. Let’s not make this about race, even though this was yet another white against black crime. Let’s make this about people, about humans, about how we treat one another and about how there are still those who are taught to hate. Yes, this is a hate issue, a gun issue, a mental health issue, but underneath it all it is a people issue. We must teach our children that this kind of violence doesn’t have to occur. We must teach them to understand and accept the differences in people and embrace the beauty in those differences. In the last couple months, we have seen a champion change identities and become a woman. Does that make her less of a champion? More recently, we have seen a woman’s claimed identity stripped from her. Does that make her accomplishments and advancements for the organization she led any less impactful? We need to talk. We need to cry. We need to change. Then, and only then, will we be able to truly love each other because we will have found love within ourselves. I am grateful that I can have these open dialogues with my children, and counter their questions and reactions with communication and exploration. I won’t get everything right, but I’ve also learned not to be afraid to say I don’t know, or don’t understand. I don’t understand what drives someone to want to kill so many people. I don’t understand what those affected by this tragedy are contending with right now. I don’t understand how this keeps happening. I only understand that I can do my part with my children, to foster goodness within them, because I know I would not want to be that alleged shooters mother right now. Hug your children. That’s all we need to know.

Stay well.