Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Romance Abounds

5 Love Languages ...
Today was a day of great romance for me. I felt the love beaming from Houston to Dallas; from Commuter Husband to Mommy with Commuter Husband (me.)

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are 5 Love Languages as explained on the website: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/.  My top Love Language is Acts of Service. Simply put, "actions speak louder than words." A Love Language defines how you typically give love to others as well as how and when you feel loved.

The romantic gesture of the day was an Act of Service that had me giddy with delight. Commuter Husband first asked for my drivers license number. Then he texted me to get the audit number on my drivers license. I was then the recipient of these dispatches from Commuter Husband:

I got this fantastic text message "Good News! You have until Sep 29 to complete Drivers Ed."

Followed by this enchanting note "I am going to sign you up for same course I took and request your driving record."

And then the chivalrous directive "Ok from now on I will handle all of your tickets! You had a $106 surcharge that I had to pay for the time you got stopped and had an expired drivers license."

Summarizing in this loving note "You are all set for course. I will have to check back next week to make sure the delinquent charge gets cleared and print out clean drivers history report. Luv ya :)"

Concluding with this passionate communiqué "Look at it this way ... you are WANTED in so many ways."

Background: I currently have a speeding ticket that I have been stressing on for over a week. I have not had time to locate the paper work and I thought I had missed the defensive driving option window. Thus I was sure I had a warrant out for my arrest. I could not even remember exactly which city I received the ticket (it was Farmer's Branch according to Commuter Husband's research.) And obviously, I did have another unknown and neglected item lurking on my driving record - uh oh.

My responses to all of these poetic texts from Commuter Husband were words of love, love, love and more love. His main Love Language is Words of Affirmation. Ha! We are the ideal married couple today.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Cup Runneth Over ... And I Am Drowning

I am a fortunate woman. My immediate family is in good health and I have an amazing brother, true friends, great neighbors, meaningful Jewish life, lovely home, steady work and adventures galore. Yes my cup runneth way over. However, I feel like I am drowning right now.

My list of things to do and responsibilities to address has me simply overwhelmed. I have never been good at saying No to work opportunities, to requests for help and to new experiences. I also believe my roles as a mother, wife, granddaughter, sister, aunt, friend, neighbor, citizen, learner and worker should be approached with a proactive mindset and attention.  My greatest priority is being mother and this new school year has required a high level of parenting energy.

I could create a giant list of all the things going on but suffice it to say there is more than I can handle alone right now. And my body is screaming at me. Over the past few months I have developed episodic migraines (EMs) which I have self-diagnosed. I can now tell when they are starting. In the early morning hours while it is still dark, I can feel the severe pain expanding in my brain. I know that within two to three hours I will be vomiting bile. I take over the counter medication and sleep it off in a dark room. As soon as the pain starts subsiding then I eat and drink a small amount. The residual headache will stay will me all day but I am usually starting to function by late morning. These EMs are stressed induced. This Sunday morning followed this pattern. Yesterday was not a great day.

I am fond the the expression "we cannot boil the ocean." My line of work requires me to address problems in manageable pieces. I am trying to take the same approach at home. So we will take day at time. Task at a time. And all things may not be done perfectly and I will need to process that fact. This is extremely hard for me to do.

I have committed to myself and family to saying No and not scheduling any new events until our house is put back together. I did say No yesterday to a dinner outing. This is also super hard for me to do. Crazy, I know.

My demeanor is not my optimal self. It is a surreal experience watching my roller coaster emotions. I apologize to my family and ask for understanding. I think it is a good thing that Tashlich and Yom Kippur are approaching. I will need these Jewish High Holidays to climb out of this hole.

So there you have it. And this too will pass ... please soon ... pretty please ...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Based on a True Story: Gram's Black Cloud

Renee knew she should cry or scream or something. As usual, she just moved forward because really what else is there? Renee felt the familiar tug of obligation mixed with loathing mixed with love. This particular cocktail is exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally.

How did Renee land in this spot at this moment? The reasons go back over eighty years: the number of years since her grandmother was born in a small Texas town. So does the story start at the beginning or does she work back from the present? Neither is a good answer. There is no one cohesive narrative. There are too many tales pounding in Renee's head. The too comfortable feeling of chaos swirls around Renee.

Today will be the starting point. A decision is made. Renee will write it all down. The rest will fill in over time. The characters and settings and places are vast and sometimes illogical. It is best to simply start somewhere.

This very morning Renee admired the beautiful sunrise in the blue sky of Oklahoma as she crossed the border from Texas. Renee considered stopping the car to take a picture but focused forward instead. She wanted to make sure she arrived at hospital in time to meet with Gram's doctor. Renee expected her Gram to be unconscious suffering from the effects of a stroke. Upon arrival, Renee found Gram was conscious and Gram's companion, Grey, greeted Renee with a hug and genuine fondness. Grey is a fit and feisty 86 year old man who exudes kindness and good nature. 

Renee surveys the situation in the critical care unit. Gram is awake, breathing on her own and can move her hands and feet. Gram is talking but it is virtually impossible to understand what she is trying to say. Renee is surprised and quickly confers with the nurse, Marla. Marla lets Renee know that Grey has not brought in Gram's medications yet so Renee dispatches Grey to retrieve them. No doctor has arrived.

Grey returns with two prescription medications and two over the counter medications. One is Xanax with 25 of 60 pills obviously taken in the last ten days. There is Benadryl and Melatonin which hints at sleep issues. Renee is starting to feel uneasy. Where are the rest of the prescriptions for hypertension and diabetes?  Grey insists that there are only the four. Marla manages to capture the full list of Gram's medications by calling the drugstore. Along with the expected routine pharmaceuticals are the dreaded pain meds and sleeping pills. Renee lets Marla know Gram has a history of prescription drug addiction and landing in the hospital for over medicating has occurred previously.

As the day slips away, Renee sits wrapped in a blanket watching cooking shows while occasionally talking to Gram and monitoring Gram's comfort level. Grey lovingly pets Gram making Gram smile with clear joy. Grey asks the exact same questions to Renee every twenty minutes showing obvious short term memory lapses. A couple arrives and introduces themselves as friends. They show Gram affection and inquire on her health. The woman mumbles something about someone finally showing up. Renee ignores the comment and does not take it personally. This well-meaning woman has no idea of the complexities simmering out of sight. 

Is it a minor stroke? Is it an overdose? Is it a little of both? Where is THAT doctor? Renee ask Marla to page the doctor again. The doctor finally shows up in the afternoon. Renee is not terribly impressed but he does relay that no infection is obvious and an MRI will be needed to rule out stroke. The doctor suspects there is a medication issue and it could take two to three days to clear out. The doctor keeps asking a Grey for information. Renee discretely pulls him aside to let him know Grey cannot be counted on for fully reliable information.

Marla half jokes about August: Osage County to Renee. Renee had the same thoughts but somehow having the nurse come to that conclusion independently is unsettling. Renee provides phone numbers to medical staff and calls relatives. There is nothing more to be done and Renee heads South. 

Renee's tries desperately not to feel disappointed but she does. She fights the feelings of resentment but they are there. The cycle of addiction never ever lets up. Everyone wants to pretend it is no big deal but it is. There is the soul crushing realization that it will never ever change for Gram or for Renee.

Renee arrives home. She literally collapses into a deep motionless, dreamless sleep.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Treasures

Slowly and methodically we are putting our home back together. We are hopeful that we are three weeks away from having our remodel 95% complete. Every single item in our home has been shifted from room to room to garage to porch to room at least once if not many times.

Youngest Son is playing Classic Rock off Pandora as he goes through his stuff. Oldies such as American Pie, Here Comes the Sun, Twist and Shout, Lean On Me, Let It Be and Don't Go Breaking My Heart drift through the house and lighten the mood. I ask Youngest Son if I can help him and he casually points to a pile of stuff he does not want anymore. I spot a green plastic container and I slowly lift the lid. My heart skips a tiny beat. It is a box of little boy treasures.

I look in the box and I am paralized. What do I do with this 12 year collection? I contemplate throwing it away. I cannot. That will have to happen on another day or another year or another decade but not today.

I hear Youngest Son singing the songs of his parents' youth while disposing of the relics of his early childhood. There is something profound, comforting and melancholic about this moment.
A box of rocks, arrowheads, shells, legos, fossils and sticks.
A new desk for Youngest Son as his sifts through books, boxes and belongings.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Two Peas in a Pod. Not.

Two kids. Two boys. Two years apart.

Two sets of shoes.

Which belongs to which son?

Red and So Excited to Find.
Not Red and "That is fine."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jews & Baseball & Cancer

This early Sunday morning we are off to Boca Raton, Florida. We includes Commuter Husband, Youngest Son and me, Mommy with Commuter Husband. Oldest Son is on his way as well but he is traveling with the Dallas Maccabi Team which includes Jewish athletes ages 13 to 16. Oldest Son is part of the 16U baseball team.

Shepherding our teenage son through his options for maintaining Jewish engagement is tricky. Trying out for this "Jewish Junior Olympics" team, practicing for the last few months and now headed to the Maccabi Games has been a wonderful experience for Oldest Son. We are thankful for finding this particular path.
Oldest Son has two game jerseys and the camouflage baseball one is just plain cool. The pink ribbon stands out in the "heart of Texas."
Oldest Son's coach (who is fantastic) asked each player to include the pink breast cancer ribbon on their jerseys. The boys are playing in honor of three players' mothers who have survived breast cancer. I happily ironed the symbol of hope on the two left sleeves.

I am thrilled that Oldest Son will play baseball, the game he loves, while representing his Jewishness AND honoring his mother who had breast cancer. Staying focused on our values and passions is so important; finding ways to act on them is the definition of a meaningful life

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How Is This Possible???

The Mouse has super powers.

We set out FOUR sticky traps with brownie. I heard noise at about 4:30am.

At 6am, I checked the traps. TWO of the traps are GONE!

What the heck??? Disappeared. 


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Imagine One Day

It is both a blessing
And a curse
To feel everything
So very deeply.
- Unknown

I woke up to see this quote first thing this morning. It summarizes my state of mind right now. This post is not about facts and figures. There are plenty of those available with a simple google search and a discriminating mind. This post is about my heart.

Perhaps I have too many news feeds. Perhaps I am reading these news feeds more than I should. Perhaps I am weary of being tolerant. Perhaps I am a bleeding heart and I do want to save the world. Perhaps my heart is exploding. 

I am worn down by trying to understand why others do not understand.

Children must be taken care of in this world. No matter where they are or how they got there. The conversation starts and ends at this place. That migrant child could be my child. It could be my grandchild. I am simply one of the lucky ones to live in this amazing country. I am not special that I happened to born in the right place at the right time. I honestly wish all the refugees of the world could come live here. I am having a hard time understanding why there is any circumstance that would prevent us for caring for a child. It is so simple really: care for the child, love the child and the adult they become will be caring and loving.

And.

I have never felt more Jewish. The war in Israel and the world's reaction boggles my brain. The anti-semitism is frightening. It makes me afraid for my Jewish sons and their future. I Stand with Israel. Not sure I would have typed that one month ago. As a student of history and understanding its connection to the present, the purpose for a Jewish State is crystal clear to me.

And.

There is the Congo and Syria and Darfur and Gendercide and Genocide and Female Circumcision and Child Trafficking and how can all of this go on in the modern world? And Rwanda and Cambodia. Really how does this keep happening?


I want my heart to burst each day. The alternative is unacceptable. And I will share this heart with my children and we will attempt to put actions behind our beliefs.

So tomorrow Oldest Son and I will attend the "Dallas Supports Israel Rally" at City Hall Plaza. On Thursday we will attend a press conference held by Dallas Area Interfaith at Temple Emanu-El where a letter advocating for the migrant children and signed by religious clergy from all over Texas will be presented.

And I will push the Publish button on this post. I refuse to be part of the bystander effect. "The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help." The astonishing reality is that we do not need to study history to see this happening; it is all around the world today.

There are so many much more eloquent than I ... and my tears will stream as I listen to these lyrics over and over.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLgYAHHkPFs
Click here

John Lennon - Imagine


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxWcKDXxbpE
Click here

Matisyahu - One Day (Cover by ‎Sara Merson)



Monday, July 21, 2014

Time Recaptured

Sometimes my country Southern upbringing wraps around me like a familiar, comfortable sweater. I can feel my Texas twang seep into conversations and especially my exclamations. The interplay of genuine hospitality and a dusty warm afternoon sipping sweet ice tea is like a calming balm.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Yesterday brought back a list that neither my children nor I often experience living inside the loop in Dallas:

  • Crossing a rusty cattle guard and opening the gate to a grassy, mesquite tree filled pasture
  • Sitting on a wrap around front porch avoiding the dirt dobbers dashing about our selected spot
  • Feeling the soft breeze off the hills of central Texas while attempting to stay in the shade
  • Walking across uneven cracked, linoleum floors to stand in front of a cool window unit air conditioner
  • Listening to the sounds of dirt bikes and the hoops and hollers of the riders
  • Stepping around cow patties and prickly cactus
  • Watching bursts of color all around us as both the real kids and grown-up kids set off fireworks purchased from a beside-the-road stand 

But the best part is intangible and hard to describe. Growing up with cousins, aunts, uncles and life-long friends in a small town has a cadence. To recapture that rhythm and the associated chaos even for an afternoon is a gift. 

Commuter Husband, Oldest Son and I spent Sunday in Jacksboro, Tx. We were welcomed into our friends' slice of Americana where the relationships are the unrivaled part. While we were technically the outsiders, we were easily embraced by the gathering of kin. Land and a house tie this group's past, present and future together. They are so fortunate.

And for a day, we were fortunate too. The thought of the chirping cicadas as dusk rolled into a night filled with big bright stars brings a smile even as I type these words ...

Commuter Husband sprays the wasp nest as Oldest Son and Friend dash out of range. Supposedly there were 30 wasps targeted!

Teenage boys and dirt bikes ... Enough said.

Front porch swings are timeless.

Placing fireworks - it was a spectacular show!

Just sitt'in on the front porch ...

"The Farm" house with a thousand stories.

A windmill. A sunset. Simple pleasures.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

These Are Children


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.

(Margaret Mead)
Tonight I attended the Immigration Response Meeting: Temple is working with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins' office and Dallas Area Interfaith to address the crisis created by unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Latin America. This is an informational meeting to have a say in Temple's response.

A couple weeks ago, I called my friend and Program Director at Temple Emanu-El to find out if Temple was doing anything to help the children. Her quick response was "Of course" and she proceeded to tell me about the information meeting on July 16th.

We learned the following:
  • 60,000 children have crossed the southern border and 90,000 are expected by year end
  • Most of these kids are in the Valley in detention centers
  • 85% are being placed with family members in the US while awaiting a judicial hearing
  • The remaining 15% need care (the math results in over 10,000 children)
  • 80% are suffering from malnutrition
  • Expect to need foster care families
  • Lawyers are needed to help in immigration court, which will be in city where the child is placed
  • Providing a "Know Your Rights" presentation to these kids but many are too young to understand thus using World Cup analogies to explain the situation to them
  • There was a large Interfaith Coalition meeting at Park Cities Baptist on July 15th
  • Judge Jenkins taking the lead and 2,000 children are expected in Dallas county by the end of July
  • Three Dallas locations were visited by Health and Human Services yesterday and construction is expected to start this weekend to prepare the facilities
  • 400 cases already in Dallas courts last week - immigration courts will be overwhelmed
  • This is a fluid situation and not clear on roles yet
surge 2008-13
READ this article CLICK HERE: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america
Then Rabbi Asher Knight asked us:
  • What are the moral implications and tensions of this crisis?
  • What would it mean for Temple Emanu-el to be a leader responding to the crisis?
Unfortunately I had to leave before this last part of the meeting played out. However, I can provide a personal answer to the second question. Two weeks ago when I wanted to help, my first thought was to call my Temple. I expect Temple Emanu-el to help when there is a humanitarian crisis. I look to my Temple to help the community and to help congregants like me navigate to a helpful place. Tikkun olam, repairing the world, through social action and social justice is humanity's shared responsibility.

In my mind, there is NO option but to help these displaced children in this moment. I am thinking of the mothers who made an unspeakable choice; or of the abandoned child's anguish I cannot possibly imagine that would send them on this perilous journey. The conditions and situations surfacing about this crisis are beyond my real comprehension.

And I am comforted by these words from a child ...
How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment to start to improve the world.
Anne Frank