Gratitude. (And Fear)

I'm linking up today with the Red Dress Club to talk about what I'm grateful for.

I am grateful for so many things: my freedom of speech, my nice house and my mama minivan. Grateful for my family and friends, my husband and kids (and let's not forget Monster our mini poodle). I'm thankful for the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and our freedom of religion. I feel blessed to know people like Diana Adams over at Bit Rebels who wrote this incredible post on homelessness, because it inspires me to do more. I'm incredibly lucky to have Shelly Kramer of V3im.com who's buying a cow with me. We're going road trippin' tomorrow to pick up the meat and deliver it. Can't wait to have some girl time and catch up with her, all the while doing something green and healthy for our families. I'm indebted to innumerable talented blogger friends who make me think, help me grow, and virtually hold my hand. Not room enough to mention them all, but here are a few to get you started:

Pamela at Road To Joy
Nancy at Away We Go
Ash At Shades
Alexandra at Good Day Regular People
Cherry Woodburn at Borderless Thinking
Allizon Nazarian
Amy Oscar
Tulpen at Bad Words
Joyce Cherrier at Freaking Fitness
Blogging Goddess
Ms. Wasteland
Danielle Smith of Extraordinary Mommy
Michelle Mangen, the Virtual Assistant
Megan at I Dance, I Write

On a more serious note...

I am grateful I can be a practicing Jew in today's day and age. Oh, except that people from Westboro Baptist Church picket outside our synagogue some Friday evenings. I am grateful that my gay dad can live his life with his partner without encountering any bigotry or scrutiny. Oh, except that WBC's site URL is http://www.godhatesfags.com./ Nice.

I am grateful I wasn't taken from my home, made to walk miles and miles in horrid conditions to places called Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, or Dachau. I'm happy my head wasn't shaved and that I wasn't starved and made to work all day long and sleep in cramped quarters. Most of all, I'm glad no one told me it was time for a shower, but instead sent me into a gas chamber where I lived my last minutes hearing screaming, crying, and the sound of bodies around me collapsing on the cold, concrete floor.

It will never happen again. Right? The Holocaust, I mean. Sometimes I'm not so sure. Sometimes, like last night, ON THANKSGIVING, no less, I'm taken aback by the stark realization that antisemitism and all kinds of racism and bigotry are still very much alive. Not just alive, but thriving.

Some of you might have watched my whimsical vlog on Hanukkah. I noticed last night that several people I don't know had left not-so-nice comments about my being Jewish. I blocked those YouTube users, reported them, and deleted the slurs. Then I got mad. The shaking and pacing kind of mad.

To add insult to injury, I was on Twitter where @SCTNow_Portland sent out a tweet about child trafficking "by the Jews." It linked to a YouTube video. Heart pounding, I clicked on the link and was relieved to see a message that YouTube had removed the clip due to violations and hateful sentiments. I walked in our local SCT Now (Stop Child Trafficking) walk back in October and was proud to do so. But the notion that people are pinning something like this on a particular religious group infuriated me. I've not seen any tweets about child trafficking by "the gays," or "the African Americans," or "the Methodists." Unfollow.

Some days I'm afraid. I don't understand people. I worry for my daughters' future. I'm terrified there will come a day when we head to temple for services and there will be violence outside. And I'll have to explain it to them. They don't even know about the Holocaust yet and I dread the day they're old enough that it's time to tell them.

Seriously, people. Enough is ENOUGH.

It's time to grow up. It's time to be kind to one another. It's time to embrace our differences, respect said differences, and really think about where this world is heading. Where YOU are heading.

Later while I was still stewing, I watched Chelsea Handler and Gwyneth Paltrow fist bump on Chelsea Lately's special last night. Both women have Jewish roots, and I adore them. Watching them together after the evening's previous events made me smile. If Chels and Gwynnie can fist bump, then damn it, this post is my virtual one.

What are you grateful for? What are you afraid of? I want to know.


Thanksgiving: It's Really About the Pie.

Our local newspaper asked us last year to submit a short letter, in 150 words or less, about what we were thankful for on Thanksgiving. They called me to verify authorship, so I got pretty excited, but still wasn't sure it would be published. I woke last Thanksgiving morning to find it/this in the paper. Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

My husband and I were desperate to have children, but a medical condition presented a roadblock. After a roller-coaster ride of Clomid, intrauterine insemination and in-vitro fertilization, I was lucky enough to become pregnant. I gave birth to twin girls in 2005 and am so grateful to the doctor who helped us. Without her, there would be no infectious laughter, no one to call me “Mommy” and no mess of Goldfish crumbs in my back seat. I am grateful to my husband who has been my best friend through everything. There is no greater gift than sharing a Thanksgiving dinner with him and my daughters. This year I will pause as we begin to heap our plates with mounds of sweet potatoes. I will choke up as I look at my husband and my daughters and think to myself, “I am the luckiest woman in the world.”

And on that note, I'd like to introduce you to one of my daughters. This video was taken shortly before her 2nd birthday as she's chowing down on Thanksgiving leftovers. Without modern medicine, without wonderful doctors, without my husband, parents and supportive friends, this little one (and her darling twin sister) would not be here. I am so lucky. And there was no mix up at the lab, people. Clearly this girl loves pie, just like her mama. She doesn't just love it. You might say she's a wee bit obsessed just like her mama.


I'm Loving My Mess--Allison Nazarian Style.

I've been busy, people. Busy delving into this incredible new book by Allison Nazarian, whom I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting in person back in September at CIP. (Jealous? I met a real, live, published writer and she autographed my copy!). It's ridiculously perfect for me. First off, just look at the title & cover:

Nazarian writes about life being messy. Not literally messy, like the growing piles of paperwork, lists and bills littering my kitchen counter. Messy in the sense of emotionally, mentally and logistically. How real is your life, she asks? Because the conclusion she draws is that the more real we become, the messier life is. It just is. You know, like you can't have the chicken without the egg. Or which came first, the chicken or the egg? I forget how it goes. But you know what I mean.

"Messiness is a by-product of a life well-lived. It's not something to be avoided or ignored or falsely neatened up. And, in fact (get this), it is something you want. That you should strive for. That you should be thankful for.
Because the truth is this: No messiness means no lessons, no loving with abandon, no real living out loud." (p. 15)

Something else Allison writes about that really resonates with me is The Voice. The Voice says things like, "Of course you aren't getting anything done today...you are disorganized/unfocused/without purpose."

Or The Voice says, "Your kids are fighting because you are the world's worst Mother. Duh."

And it might even go so far as this, "You say writing is your top priority but you never get to it. Maybe you aren't really meant to be a writer. And even if you are a decent writer, you aren't making any money from writing. Stands to reason it's pretty worthless. Maybe you are, too?" (pp. 19-20)

I can't begin to describe how much I relate to all of this, these feelings. The Voice speaks to me all day every day. It rarely says anything positive. Here are some snippets of My Voice:
  • You fancy yourself a writer, eh? But what do you write, exactly? A stupid blog?
  • You've been saying for years that you want to write a book. Maybe you'll never really do it. And even if you do, who the heck is gonna publish that shit, let alone read it?
  • You're a horrible mother. Those twins steamroll you. Clearly they're wearing the pants.
  • You totally suck in the kitchen. You can't even make your own pie crusts.
  • Your laundry room is a wreck. Why can't you ever clean it up? And that dusty thing in the cabinet? It's called an iron. Use it once in a while, mmm'kay?
  • You're a bad wife. Being tired all the time is no excuse.
  • You're going on a girls' trip to Vegas? You don't deserve to do that. You should skip it.
  • Why are you wearing your pajamas during the daytime? And when was your last shower?
I'm giving The Voice the finger. I'm well aware my life is messy. But it's a good thing. Now I just need to learn to embrace it, accept it, and snuggle up on the couch with it. Because it's part of what makes me uniquely me. And as for my many messes? If you're a regular reader, you know about most of them. My gay dad, my struggles with my body image, bullies, and two short people who are running the show here when I should be. Because I'm the mom. Well, at the very least, I'm gonna write a damn good book about my messes. I mean, I'm not literally stealing Allison's idea, I just mean I'm going to write about the stuff that makes up my messy life. And YOU are going to buy a copy. Even if it's 20 years from now it better not take me that long, God damn it.

This book is so good I'm making flashcards to tape up all over my bathroom mirror, fridge, and on the inside of my car with quotes from it. I also think Allison should make an audio version so I can listen to her affirmations and wisdom while I'm driving my mom-mobile (hint, hint). Reading about her mess is especially comforting because she is a published writer who's experienced a similar kind of muckety muck that I have. And she's not afraid to admit it. Did I mention she autographed my copy? Which means I'm not alone, and it also gives me the courage to be more open about my messes. Which I think I have been, especially lately, on my blog.

You will love this book. You will fall in love with Allison just as I have. She's candid, bright, and she's helping me learn how to live.

I'm going to Vegas, baby. I deserve it.

Do you have The Voice in your head? What does it say to you?
Wanna read more? Go here and buy Allison's kick-ass book.

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