Dating 101: Hookers and Judgment


Yesterday I was written to online by a 59-year-old man. He was attractive and had written an honest and funny profile about himself. He stated he was newly divorced and just starting to date. It was charming and I appreciated the honesty, so I wrote back. After 2 notes I gave him my number and he called. We are grownups, and texting and email is painful when getting to know someone, so we quickly jumped to a call. He reached out and we began the dating interview.

I found him to be interesting and witty, and was enjoying our chat, until I wasn’t. When he said he was newly divorced, what he meant was that he had signed his divorce papers last week. While he has been out of his marital home for a year, he is barely divorced and still hanging onto his old life. He spoke a lot about his ex-wife, which is fine, until it wasn’t. I suggested that perhaps he hadn’t been divorced long enough to know how it would affect him. I also told him dating had changed a lot in the years he had been married.

I explained that while I had been divorced forever, I remember my first relationship after divorce and it was doomed from the start because I arrived with so much baggage that still needed to be unpacked. He let me know he had unpacked all his bags already and was good to go. I explained that after 24 years of marriage, perhaps he should sew some wild oats and have single fun before diving into a relationship. Sleep with new people and discover who he was at this stage of his life.

He then assured me he had sewn his oats already. Without being prompted to go on, he let me know he had a sexless marriage and had spent the last few years of said marriage sleeping with hookers. He felt it was the respectful thing to do because he wanted the marriage to work, just needed sex, so he made it a business decision rather than an emotional one. Oh. My. God. Who tells someone they just met, and are interested in dating, they not only cheated, but paid for sex with hookers?

Important to note I have no issues with women who have sex for money. I have a good friend who worked as a prostitute to put herself through college. We met a few years ago while getting our nails done and I not only love her, but have no judgement about how she makes her money. When it came to this man however, I found myself sitting in a pile of judgement. I don’t care that he paid for sex, but that did it while married “to respect his wife”, is ridiculous and disgusting.

I can applaud him for being so honest I suppose, but no. He asked if I would like to go out on a date and I chose to decline. I also chose to suggest to him that perhaps he withhold some information from women moving forward. There is a lot to be said for honesty, but there is some information that simply does not need to be shared. I cannot think of any good that come out of my knowing the man I am dating not only cheated of his wife, but did it with hookers on a regular basis and over a long period of time.

It has been an interesting few days in my dating life. I was asked out by a man who was 82. I was also asked out by a man who was 25. They weren’t even the weird one. I was asked out by a man who is on parole and has limited mobility. Whoever said dating was fun, was drunk. Not tipsy and cute drunk, but vomiting on yourself and falling down stairs into a gutter drunk. I have been dating for a long time and I am tired. Not tired of dating, because I know it is necessary, but tired of the game.

I remain hopeful, which is key. Without hope there is no need to keep dating. I will meet a great man one of these days. He will be Jewish, not married, not wearing a parole tracker, and the only hooker he is interested in will be the one I am roll playing while we have a sexy night in Vegas. There is the right man out there looking for me. We will stumble upon each other one of these days. I simply need to pay attention, keep my eyes open, keep my heart open, and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating 101: Highs & Lows


I had a date with a man I found to be physically and mentally attractive. He is a lovely man who is 51, never married, and has no kids. He’s worked at the same company for 30 years and is dedicated to his job. He is fiercely loyal to his friends, and has a great sense of humor. I liked him very much on the phone, and we spoke for a week before schedules allowed us to meet. When we finally managed to find a night to go out, we decided on dinner and a movie.

We met at the restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised to see he looked just like his pictures. He said he was 5’11”, I’m guessing he was closer to 5’9”, but since I’m only 5’3”, it wasn’t a big deal. We ordered a couple drinks and settled into easy conversation. We had a great time over dinner and then went into the movie. We held hands, which felt wonderful. I had taken an Uber so I could have a drink, and he offered to take me home, which I felt surprisingly comfortable with.

We left the theater and walked towards his car. We laughed together, had a kiss, and it was nice. It was a regular date, with a regular guy, and I was feeling good about it. He is not Jewish, but I am trying to think outside the dating box I have built for myself, because I’m not having luck dating within the parameters I have drawn around myself. It is scary to try new things, but I am trying, and that is what matters. One good date can change everything.

So we are strolling to the car, I’m thinking we will make out a little bit, and feeling good about the whole night. Then we got to his car and it was over. I am not a materialistic person, and I don’t care about what a man does for a living or what kind of car he has, but I simply cannot date a man who drives a purple El Camino with hydraulics. If that makes me shallow and judgmental, when then I will receive that and try to better myself, but I cannot get on board with that car.

We spoke about the car, the car groups he belongs to, the amount of car shows he goes to a year, the friends he is close to through his car club, and how his social life is woven into the car. No. I am not spending my weekends at car shows. I am also not putting my new bionic neck into a hydraulic car parade. I appreciate that this paints me in an unflattering light, but after almost a decade of sharing my life here, I am not going to start leaving stuff out just to save face.

Bumps in the road make me think I should stick to Jewish men, or just get another cat, but I need to be brave and not let this be a setback. I’m embarrassed the car was a deal breaker, but in the end it wasn’t the car as much as the lifestyle that came with it. I know who I am and what I want, so at this point in my life I need to stay true to me. One hopes each first date gets you closer to your last first date, so I am hoping and keeping the faith.

Cocktails and Motherhood


When my son turned 21 we went out for a drink. It was strange to have a cocktail with him and it didn’t feel as cool as I thought it would. I watched him drink a beer and all I could see was a baby drinking. It actually made me a little sad. When you have a drink with your kid you are forced to see them as a grown up, which is bittersweet. It was uncomfortable to drink with him, but at the same time I was proud my delicious baby was now a remarkable man. I am blessed to be this human’s mother and I thank God for every single moment we have together, but drinking with him was a hard pill to swallow.

I turned 52 last week and went to San Francisco for the weekend with my son. We walked, ate great food, and had a few drinks. I love a cocktail, as my readers know, and since it was my birthday, I enjoyed several libations. I started with a drink at the airport and ended with a drink at the airport. My son drank too, but it was different this time. He was still my baby, but also my friend, and it was lovely. He isn’t a big drinker, but enjoys big boy drinks. His cocktails of choice are a Negroni or a Whiskey Sour. I think they taste like cough medicine.

We sat in great bars and talked about life, love, politics, and plans. We laughed and debated, and were also happily quiet together. I love him very much and he is simply my favorite human being. He makes me happy. He makes me think. He makes me grateful. He makes me want to be better. He makes me feel better. He heals me. He eases my sorrow. He is my sunshine. He is my closest confidant. I trust him. Being a mom is hard. Being a single mom is really hard. Having a 22-year-old son allows me to celebrate not only my child, but also myself.

I have spent over twenty-two years being his mother and he is a wonderful human being both because of me, and in spite of me. I have had moments of real greatness as a mother, along with moments of epic failure, but all of them led to now, and now is good. My son is terrific and he loves me. He enjoys my company, asks me for advice, heeds my advice, and makes good choices. I won’t make a habit of having cocktails with my boy, but when it does happen I will embrace the moment. We worked hard to get here and having a cocktail with my son is all about keeping the faith.

 

 

Racism at Starbucks


I go to Starbucks most mornings during my work week. I order my drink via the mobile app and drive by before jumping on the freeway. My Starbucks of choice is very close to two schools and on any given morning there are a lot of kids there. For every one kid that orders a drink, there are three kids just hanging out. They don’t buy anything, just sit, loudly, and wait for the one kid who is getting a drink.

They use every chair, unaware of anyone but themselves, white, and loitering. In the years I’ve been going to Starbucks I have not only never seen anyone get arrested, I’ve never seen an employee of Starbucks ask one of these annoying kids to leave. I have personally waited at Starbucks without buying a drink many times. I’ve waited for friends, or a blind date, and never been asked to leave or been arrested, no matter how long I sit there.

I have watched the video of two young black men being arrested at Starbucks in Philadelphia and it makes me sad. Sad for not only them, but for every black mother who watches her kids walk out the door, scared of what will happen to them. It is heartbreaking.  I am proud of those two young men for walking out with their heads held high during the humiliating and blatantly racist arrest that happened to them.

I was not there, and I do not know the motivation of the phone call to police, but I am not going to Starbucks this week. It is my way of supporting these two young men. It may seem silly, but it is a way for my voice to be heard, and that is what we all need to do. It is dangerous to be black in America and that should break all of our hearts. Skip going to Starbucks this week. Rise up and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

Happy Shabbat Birthday to Me


I am turning 52 this weekend. While not one to make a big deal about my birthday, this one feels important. It has been an interesting few years. By interesting, of course I mean difficult and enlightening. I dealt with cancer, neck surgery, my son moving out, changing jobs after a decade, and a very close friend of mine passing away after a valiant fight. It was all rather exhausting and to add insult to injury, as each challenge was tackled and overcome, another challenge was placed in front of me. I am a tough girl, but even I was brought to my knees on more than one occasion.

April 7th, 2018 will mark a new beginning, and it has been a long time coming. As I begin my 52nd year, there is nothing looming over me. I am completely healthy for the first time in three years. I am embracing my empty nest in ways I never thought I would. I have learned the important lesson of never coloring my own hair or cutting my own bangs, instead leaving it to the professionals. I have mastered the art of making the perfect Cosmopolitan. I am aware of my own worth. Most importantly, I know I am a wonderful human being,  terrific mother, and getting better with age.

My life is blessed and I have nothing to complain about. How awesome is that? I am going to go to services tonight and pray with my rabbi because she brings me real joy. Tomorrow I will celebrate my birthday in San Francisco with my son. We will explore a city that matters to us, have an amazing dinner, do some birthday shopping, and have dim sum lunch in Chinatown. A 24-hour getaway with my favorite human. I will walk in the rain, and pause long enough to count my blessings between the martinis I’ll be enjoying. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Birthday to all who celebrate this weekend. Be safe and have fun. I will enjoy the weekend while keeping the faith.

Passover with the LAFD


Last Friday was the first night of Passover.  I got home from Seder, after hours of cooking and cleaning, and settled into a luxurious bath. As I soaked in lavender bubbles, feeling completely relaxed, my smoke detector started to beep. For a quick second I thought about ignoring it because the bath was so good, then snapped out of it and jumped out to see what was going on.

There didn’t appear to be a fire, so I changed the batteries in the smoke detector. When the new batteries were in it resumed beeping, only this time it detected carbon monoxide. I thought perhaps the unit was simply not working and took the batteries out, thinking I’d deal with it the next day. As I got ready for bed I worried I made the wrong decision.

I called 911 and was transferred to the Los Angeles Fire Department. I explained what had happened with the smoke detector and asked what they thought I should do. They told me it was better to be safe than sorry and were on the way. I worried I was taking their time away from someone who was dealing with an actual fire, but was grateful they were coming to check things.

I waited outside for the firetruck to arrive and when it did I was a bit overwhelmed. It is intimidating to have them come to your home, and when they get off the truck and each one is more attractive than the one before, it takes your breath away. I simply do not think there is such a thing as an unattractive firefighter. Each one of these men were absolutely gorgeous.

As they walked in the lead firefighter told me I had a beautiful home, and it made me feel proud. It has been hard getting adjusted to my empty nest and I have slowly been turning my home into a place that reflects more of me as a woman and less of me as a mom, so to have him acknowledge that it looked nice, mattered to me and I felt happy. It was kind of him to say.

They told me it was good that I called because people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. They assured me it was their job to check what was going on and I should not feel that I had bothered them. They were inside my home for about 10 minutes, confirmed there was no danger, but that the smoke detector was malfunctioning and needed to be thrown out and replaced.

I appreciate the work these brave men and women do. I slept well knowing I was safe and there was nothing to worry about. I hope everyone had a safe and happy start to Passover, and I send my thanks to the Los Angeles Fire Department. To the ridiculously attractive men who came to make sure I was okay, it was a pleasure staring at you. Stay safe out there and keep the faith.

Weekend of Faith


This weekend marks an important time for people of many faiths.  It is Passover and also Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  I am someone whose life is made easier with faith. I’m also one that does not judge people based on faith. The way I see it, faith allows us to lean on something bigger than ourselves, and if it gives us peace, then how we view the higher power doesn’t matter. Faith is a beautiful and powerful thing. It does not need to always be about religion.

I hope those who celebrate the holidays of this weekend will find peace within their faith.  For me, the weekend is about prayer.  Prayers of thanks for my Jewish life, prayers of thanks for my blessed life, and prayers of thanks for the health and happiness of my family and friends. I’m counting my blessings, embracing the history of my people, and taking comfort in the power of so many human beings on the planet praying at the exact same time. It is quite beautiful.

Take time this weekend to be kind to a stranger. Share blessings with people in need and let your faith inspire you to bring light to someone in the dark. Listen to a child laugh, reach out to someone you miss, ease someone’s sorrow, know struggles will pass, make a new plan, love someone, be aware, be happy, be brave, cry tears of joy, hug like you mean it, and enjoy the delicious holiday food. Enjoy the weekend. Celebrate, reflect, and keep the faith.

 

A Prayer for the March


People take part in a "March For Our Lives" demonstration demanding gun control in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

We will march
For our children’s sake
We will march
Because standing still is not an option
We will march
Because a new day is coming
We will march
Young and old, hand in hand
We will march
Like the Children of Israel at the foot of
the sea
We will march
Until the raging waters part before us
We will march
Until our leaders act
We will march
In honor of the innocent souls we have lost
We will march
Turning the prayers of our hearts
into action
We will march
“Praying with our feet”
We will march
To the beat of a mournful lament
We will march
With our heads held high
We will march
To finally end the madness
We will march
And we will win, by God,
We will win.

Amen.


Rabbi Naomi Levy is the founder and spiritual leader of Nashuva, a Los Angeles-based Jewish community.

Motherhood in Black and White


My soul is crushed each and every time I hear of the senseless murder of an innocent person at the hands of law enforcement, but the murder of Stephon Clark has left me heartbroken in a different way. Stephon was the same age as my own son and I cannot wrap my head around the way he died, so close to being home safe with his two little kids. This one hurts in a way that feels personal.

Of course they are all personal because we live in this country together, and I cried for Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Gregory Gunn, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and countless others who were murdered but those who were meant to protect them, but I can relate to the Clark family in ways that bring it into my home. Had it been my son in the same situation at Stephon, I can promise you he wouldn’t have been murdered. This is racism, plain and simple.

My son would have been offered a conversation. A chance to explain who he was and what he was doing. My son wouldn’t have 20 bullets blown into him steps from the safety of his home. It is black and white. Stephon Clark was killed because he was black, and when it comes to black people in America, we shoot first and ask questions later. It is 2018 and being black is America is very dangerous.

My son is a proud Jewish man, but if he was in a situation where anti-Semitic things were happening, he could join in the rhetoric to remain safe and get himself out. He would be able to come home because he can become what he needs to be. That is white privilege. That is a blessing afforded my son. I am able to watch him go out into the world with a level of comfort black mothers don’t have.

Ever since my son was very little I would send him off to school or out with his friends with the words, “Be safe out there and make good choices”. Those have been my parting words to him for as long as I can remember. I don’t have to tell him to keep his mouth shut, put his hands in the air, or get down on the ground without answering back. I haven’t raised my son with a fear of authority.

I worry about him 24/7 because I am his mother, and that is what mothers do, but I do not have the same constant fear that black mothers have. It is exhausting to just think about it. I would never want my kid to go outside. It would simply be too big a risk. The black and white reality is that this is about black and white. I cry with every black mother who fears the death of their beautiful children.

We have many problems in this country that need attention. Tomorrow I will march with the students of Parkland in support of changes to gun laws. I will march knowing that Black Lives Matter. I will march because when we unite our voices we can make change. We have to do better. We cannot think we are the greatest country in the world when this keeps happening. Wake up and start keeping the faith.

 

 

Rainy Los Angeles is a Nightmare


It has been raining in Los Angeles and the simple fact is that when rains in LA, the city falls apart. Nobody knows how to drive to begin with, so a small amount of rain causes bad drivers to lose their minds. One would think it was acid falling from the sky and we were all about to die, but alas, it is just water. When it is raining in LA you can immediately tell who is from here, and who came from a place with real weather. Southern Californian natives stick out like a sore thumb. They don’t know how to handle their vehicles in even the lightest sprinkle of water. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

Personally, I could be a NYC cab driver. I grew up in Canada and learned to drive in the rain and snow. I am fearless and able to handle all kinds of weather. Driving is a privilege and if you suck at it, you shouldn’t be given a driver’s license. At the very least there should be restrictions on driving when it is raining. I propose two types of driver’s licenses. One to drive in dry weather, and one for the rain. Everyone takes two tests. Pass one and you can only drive in good weather, pass both, and you also get driving privileges in the rain. Brilliant plan.

I started a new job recently and my commute went from 20 minutes to over an hour. It is a nightmare for a great driver to be stuck on two different freeways and Sunset Boulevard with thousands of people who don’t know how to drive. I do a great deal of praying while I’m driving. Mostly I pray I will not become engulfed with road rage and lay on the horn or flip the bird to a perfect stranger. My son bought me a stuffed Buddha that plays meditation music when you squeeze him. I’ve had it for about 5 months and have replaced the battery twice, which gives you an idea of how often I use him to get some peace.

I often look at the people driving around me and wonder where they’re going. I think about whether they’re driving without prescription contact lenses or glasses. If they bought their driver’s licenses on a black market for people with no depth perception. I wonder how many of the people driving taught their kids how to be bad drivers. Mostly I wonder about how good it would feel to drive to work one day with only good drivers. Even if just for one day I’d love that experience, but it will never happen. Sadly, I fear I may be the only one of my kind. I have yet to meet another good driver in Los Angeles. We really should have a club.

I am at work looking out my window, watching the rain, trying to decide how long it will take me to get home. I figure about two days. We need the rain, and I am grateful we are getting some, but a couple days into the first weather of the season and I am about done. Watching the news of the weather back east, and speaking to my family about all the snow in Canada, watching my local TV weatherman speak of the “storm watch” for Los Angeles is hilarious. By hilarious of course I mean I really need him to stop talking. I’d be willing to bet he is a bad driver, always looking in the mirror to check his hair.

It never rains in California, until it does, and then all hell breaks loose. To my fellow Angelino’s, do us all a favor and just stay home. Call in sick if you need to, but for the love of God, do not get in the car if you are a bad driver. Not sure if you are a good driver? You’re not. Now you know. To those currently dealing with REAL weather, I am sorry. This too shall pass, for us and you. Be safe out there. Don’t drink and drive, text and drive, or talk on the phone and drive. Pay attention and when some cute lady gets annoyed and flips you the bird, just smile, knowing I mean no harm. I’m heading home and keeping the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of a Prayer During a Trying Time


Photo from Max Pixel.

Last Wednesday I had anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery done on my neck. Two of my discs were bulging so badly they were pushing on my spine. My arm had been numb for several months and even though I did physical therapy for over a year in an attempt to avoid the surgery, I could longer wait and the procedure was finally scheduled. Four hours and six screws later, I am recuperating nicely and the benefits of the surgery were instantly felt. I woke up with no numbness or tingling in my arm, and am thrilled with the results.

My procedure was done at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. When I checked in for surgery I immediately asked if I could see the rabbi from the Spiritual Care department for a prayer. I clarified that if a rabbi was not available, I would happily pray with any member of the clergy. I simply wanted to pray with someone dedicated to God, and the religious affiliation was not that important. As I sat with my son and told him how much I wanted for the rabbi to come and say a prayer, and he assured me it would be fine and we could pray on our own, but not to worry because someone was coming.

I was waiting for the nurse to arrive to insert an IV when Chaplain Phil Kiehl walked in. He introduced himself and said he stopped by as he had heard I wanted to pray with him. I almost started to cry I was so happy to see him. He sat with me and my son and took time to get to know us. He asked about the operation, who the surgeon was, who the anesthesiologist was, what my pain was, and what the goal was. After we chatted for a few minutes he joined hands with me and my son and gave what can only be described as a perfect prayer.

It was kind and honest and made me feel very safe in my faith. It was a prayer of compassion and blessings. When Phil left the room, me and my son turned to each other and both said it was the most wonderful prayer and had left us feeling happy and at peace. I went into surgery feeling comfortable with my medical team and embraced by God. The following day as I rested and waited for the doctor to give permission for me to leave the hospital, a woman from the clergy office stopped by. Her name was Rebecca Stringer and she was paying me an unexpected visit to check in on me as she heard I was leaving.

She had a beautiful smile and a warmth I could feel. Her soul was visible and I was profoundly moved by her. We spoke about prayer and the importance it has in both of our lives. We spoke about our children and she shared she had lost a child to cancer. Her beloved little boy had passed away and she spoke of him in a way that painted a picture of love. This angel has a remarkable mother who is rooted in prayer and faith. She helped me more than she could ever know. We did not share the same religion, but we shared a life of faith which was respectful and embracing in a way that I wish it could be for everyone.

She held my hand and said a prayer that made me cry. I will forever remember her generosity of spirit and the feeling it gave me. Her words brought me real healing. We may practice different religions, but we pray to the same God and our exchange was special. I am a woman of faith and have experienced many blessings, but this was a rare moment of an authentic spiritual connection to another human being. We were sisters in prayer and I felt God holding onto us. When you can connect through God, without the judgment of religion, it is remarkable.

When Rebecca left my room I had a feeling of gratitude in the wake of her grace. My surgery was a success and I thank Phil and Rebecca for their kindness. Prayer is personal and mine is generally private, but my prayer this week had company and it was lovely. There is power in prayer and when voices join together it is wonderful. I feel great and am getting stronger each day. I was terrified going into the surgery and am relieved it is over and went so well. Life is good and good health is a blessing. I am grateful, happy, healthy, and keeping the faith.


Ilana Angel writes the Keeping the Faith blog at jewishjournal.com.

Why Pray?


Another horrific mass shooting, this time at a high school in Florida. As has occurred each previous time, a crazed killer with an assault weapon murders more than a dozen innocent people and terrorizes hundreds more; the very people who have stifled any discussion about our addiction to accessible weapons of war, our dismantled mental health systems or our under-supported social safety nets insist that now is not the time for politicized discussions. Instead, they piously offer their sympathies and their prayers.

Always, their prayers. Even as they block any possibility of legislative redress.

Enraged victims, now even more than in the past, have taken to social media to protest: Spare us your prayers! We are way past wanting your sentiments; what we need now is action. Don’t pray — do something. There is a tidal wave of reaction against praying during these violent and troubling times. And there is, indeed, a biblical basis for that reaction: We are told that when Moses witnessed the Egyptian army assaulting the newly liberated Israelites huddled by the shores of the sea, God told Moses the very same thing: Now is not the time for prayer. Do something! Take action! Lead! Et la’asot: This is the time to act on God’s behalf (Psalm 119).

Obviously, if the victims and God both agree about the need to prioritize action, there must be something to it. We do, indeed, need to act, but that doesn’t mean there is no role for prayer. What if prayer can lead to more resilient action? What if prayer can grace us with moral clarity and with deeper courage? Perhaps prayer can forge a vessel strong enough to hold our sorrow, our rage, and our fear, to provide us with clearer access to renewed vision, hope sufficient enough to overcome society’s inertia and insanity, and to illumine pearls of insight bright enough to lure us to effective engagement. I think prayer can offer all of those benefits. Now is the time to pray and to do.

SO, WHY DO WE PRAY?

I know that not everyone is into prayer, and that’s OK. I know for myself that I’m not always able to slow down, focus and breathe life into moments of contemplation, gratitude or request. So the thoughts that follow aren’t meant to enflame resentment or guilt. They are not intended as a critique of those for whom the path of prayer isn’t accessible (or even wanted). But I do want to open the door to the possibility of the kind of praying that can lead to insight, resolution and action. I want to testify from the heart of our tradition and from the traditions of my heart. I hope that some of these echoes might find their way into your own heart and provide strength for what lies ahead.

Why pray? Sometimes I pray because my feelings are so powerful that they simply burst out of my core and require release. Prayer can be that release. All the longing, confusion, heartache and fear that bubbles up out of some deep ache, a brokenness within that reflects the shattered and brutal brokenness outside. In moments of honest feeling, when defenses fail, the protective scales fall from my eyes and the pain of injustices too long tolerated or of indignities borne sear and circumcise my heart, then all I can do in the first intensity of that pain is to cry out. That crying is prayer. It saps my strength to try to contain the rawness. Releasing it, returning it, offers liberation — reclaiming energy previously bound but now free to offer new courage, direction and determination.

Sometimes I pray because my feelings are so powerful that they simply burst out of my core and require release.

There are times when I will stand during the silent prayers, simply digging deep to find a way to ventilate my heart. Am I feeling vulnerable? I try to respond by feeling myself supported by those who love me, living and dead. Am I feeling enraged or powerless? I let myself tap into our rich tradition of protest and confronting pharaohs, our modern heroes who fought for labor, for human dignity. Their energy and passion channel the Holy One, and I feel them standing behind me, and I am strengthened.

Why pray? Because sometimes life confronts me with challenges so layered and threatening that I can’t find my way. In such moments, prayer can carve out a cistern of possibilities. Prayer can winnow and sift the overwhelming, self-contradictory harvest of what life has thrown at me, an inner process of separating wheat from chaff that enables me to notice the insights and emotions that can guide me to a productive response instead of being buffeted by the distractions of passive helplessness. Prayer can show me the way forward. Often, I emerge from prayer with clarity that had evaded me previously. I know where to stand and what must I must do. That can happen when we slow down, breathe, share our heart’s questions with the world and its Creator, and then patiently hold the space for an answer to emerge.

At home, I have a prayer stand that I use for when I pray alone. I will often clutch the sides of that stand and implore, “I don’t know how to move forward, God. Grant me the discernment to hear your lure, to follow your lead.” I’m often amazed that if I simply stand in stillness, open to receiving, I can access a sudden intuition of how to advance. Prayer keeps the communication open and reminds me to listen with an inner ear.

Why pray? Because sometimes I can’t bear to stand alone in the face of all the suffering, pain or injustice. The pain isolates. But prayer creates a community across time and space. It gives me words, already well-trodden by countless others who have come before me, and shared by so many contemporaries who also seek solace, solidarity and inspiration in their recitation. Prayer, at one and the same time, connects me to my forebears, to my community today, to similar communities around the world, and to the One whose image we are called to reflect and in whose service we thrive. In moments when it feels like I, alone, am life’s victim, as though no one else can suffer as I do, or can feel the pain I feel, prayer lifts me and places me in the context of community, connection, life. Whether I engage in wordless meditation or I allow the hallowed ancient words of the siddur (prayerbook) to flow through my lungs, mouth and soul, when I pray, I am not alone. And in that renewed web of relationship, I find myself again. We are, each of us, who we are in connection to one another.

What if prayer can lead to more resilient action? What if prayer can grace us with moral clarity and with deeper courage?

The words of the prayerbook often are framed in the plural: grant us, forgive us, show us. I love the way our tradition keeps pushing me out of the center of my own focus. No longer a solitary me, I am part of a worldwide, multigenerational us. An identity that is communal is one that repels loneliness and keeps me connected in a network of love and loyalty.

Why pray? Because sometimes I’m so broken that I no longer remember who I am. I can’t find my way back to the surface; I drift in paralyzing randomness, worn down by the rough edges of life, news or hardships. When I pray — alone or in community — I receive the gift of time, to breathe, to recalibrate, to reorient. I accept the gift of space, to stand, to sway, to rock. In prayer, the shattered fragments of my experiences, memories and responses blossom in integration and unification. I become a patterned whole once more, an integrated organism rather than a collection of separate processes at war with one another. And that integration and its possibilities extend  beyond my own becoming to embrace the becomings of those praying with me. We are each of us a society, our thoughts, feelings, memories and characteristics coordinating to produce a real unity. And together in prayer (a minyan, a kehillah, a congregation) we contribute to and are absorbed by a society of societies. In one  another’s integration, we achieve a deeper, higher wholeness. Prayer makes oneness manifest. Prayer reveals the One.

On days when I am so depressed that I can’t remember the sunshine or my own happiness, resting in prayer can give me some joy. Sometimes it can start as quietly as humming a nigun (a wordless song) under my breath, clapping as the spirit starts to move. Other times, a phrase in the siddur will glisten in a way that gets my attention and opens my heart. I remember to be myself, and to enjoy that, in the light of our prayers and in the act of praying.

Contemplative prayer, aided by Scripture, jolts me out of complacency and restores the priority that a Jew is a warrior for justice.

REPLENISH, RESTORE, RECOMMIT

In the end, prayer is not just the outpourings of our depth; the clarity that can emerge like a beam of light, stripping away the illusion of our solitary identity to bask in a swirling sea of connection and belonging; or the capacity to find ourselves whole yet again. It is all of these and more. Just as God is self-surpassing, prayer enables us to tap into those aspects of ourselves that can be self-surpassing, too. Just as our ancient traditions channel the wisdom of thousands of years and distill them into words that can fill our mouths and warm us in the dark, so can our prayers root us and link us and help us to stand. And most gloriously, prayer mobilizes our inferiority to face the outside. What is felt beyond us is really waiting for our touch. What happens to us can offer a more expansive reality if we rise from our prayers with different choices, new clarity and hope.

How often, in a prayerful reading of the haftarah, the prophetic verses chanted on Shabbat, do I come into contact with Israel’s most authentic ancient voice: the voice of justice, the voice that defends the widow and the orphan against the powerful and the greedy? Contemplative prayer, aided by Scripture, jolts me out of complacency and restores the priority that a Jew is a warrior for justice. We have long heard God’s voice in the requirement to love the stranger, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked. Praying with Jews opens my eyes anew to the Jewish mandates for human dignity and for embodied compassion. Those ancient prayer texts force me to get involved.

Prayer or deed? Meditation or action? Why choose? Prayer lets us replenish, restore, recommit. And then we pray with our hands by reaching out to one another. We pray with our feet by marching and resisting and insisting. And we pray with our arms by building the world in which each and every breath is a song; each and every protest, a prayer.


Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson holds the Abner & Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and is vice president of American Jewish University. He is also the founding dean of the Zacharias Frankel College at the University of Potsdam, training Conservative/Masorti rabbis for Europe.

Motherhood, Surgery, Reflection & Faith


I’m having surgery on my neck tomorrow, and look forward to finally feeling better. It has been a long road to get here and even with all the challenges and difficulties I have faced, this is the first time I feel scared and nervous. I kicked cancer’s ass, but screws in my spine is daunting and has thrown me into a place of deep reflection, mostly about my job as a mother.

Motherhood is a remarkable thing. I remember the moment I was told I was pregnant. I made all these promises to myself about the kind of mother I wanted to be. I had so many plans and dreams for my son before he was even born. I wanted to be a mom from the time I was a little girl and always thought I would have a lot of kids. Life can change dreams.

I have one remarkable son who is a truly wonderful human being. Both because of me, and in spite of me. I am proud of him and it has been my greatest honor to watch him grow up and become a good man. He is 22 years old and has a very bright future. He is a smart kid, but I worry he’ll never fully understand how much I love him. Perhaps he won’t get it until he is a dad.

The anticipation of my surgery has me thinking, and no good can come of that. I remember every time I was unkind or impatient. Every mean thing I ever said about his dad. The times he took care of me because I was sick. The times he watched me cry because my heart was broken. The times I couldn’t afford to get him what he wanted. All of it is vivid and feels heavy.

He will drive me to the hospital and be there when I get out of surgery, which makes me feel both grateful and sad. It is my job to take care of him, but over the past few years he has been taking care of me, and that is hard for a parent to come to terms with. I don’t ever want to be a burden on my child. I want him to be free to live his life and follow his dreams.

I want to hold him tight and tell him a million things, but that seems somewhat morbid. I’m not dying, I’m just having surgery. It is a procedure my surgeon has done hundreds of times with great success. There is nothing to worry about, and tomorrow when my neck is repaired and I feel amazing, I will have forgotten about how scared I was and focus on my blessings.

I will check in with you over the weekend when I am home, and appreciate your prayers and good wishes. I asked the hospital if I could have a rabbi come say a prayer with me before the procedure and they were surprised. Apparently they are not allowed to offer a clergy visit because it is an invasion of privacy, which is a shame. I pray and welcome the visit for a prayer.

The hospital said they would make the request. I let them know if a rabbi wasn’t available any member of the clergy, regardless of their religion would do. I just want a person of faith to pray with me. We all pray to the same God and I asked for an act of faith not religion. How different would our world be if people were able to have faith without religious judgement?

If I can get through the day without crying it will be a miracle. I feel emotional and happy, yet at the same time feel sick to my stomach and am unhappy. To be expected, but not at all a comfortable feeling.  I am going to count my blessings, believe everything will be fine, trust my brilliant son knows how much I love him, and hope he knows he is the reason I am keeping the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TGIF


Three years, seven weeks, and five days after I was first told I had cancer, I am cancer free. I feel happy and relieved, but will forever feel nervous every time I don’t feel good, that it is cancer. That said, at the end of the day I am a rock star, and cancer is my bitch. My son came home to celebrate last night, and having him stay the night and sleep in his old room filled my heart with joy. Less than a month after cancer stole a dear friend, I feel blessed and am counting my blessings.

As I waited for test results, while marking the anniversary of the passing of my beloved dad who died from cancer, I thought about my life and my place in the world. I watched the painful news out of Florida and cried as I watched a mother beg for the government to keep our kids safe. It left me with a need to say a few things, about a few things. This may piss people off, and that is okay. God Bless America that I am able to not only have an opinion, but share it freely.

  • The murders in Florida this week must not be blamed on mental illness, but rather blamed on the fact that a teenager can legally buy an AR-15 firearm in America. The President of the United States is a moron and anyone who thinks prayer is the answer to this problem, is mentally deficient. I am a woman of faith and I believe in prayer, but I have had enough. The NRA can shove all the prayers up their asses and fire them into space. We need to get a hold of the guns and stop making senseless murders so easy.
  • Aziz Ansari is a pig, he is not however a sexual deviant who needs to lose his career, just because he was a loser on a date. Dear Lord. The woman “Grace”, who wrote about her date with Mr. Ansari did more harm than good to a movement that is trying so hard to do good. There is a witch hunt mentality happening, which I suppose is to be expected under the circumstances, but as women we have a responsibility to each other to be honest and fair so that appropriate action can be taken against those who deserve it.
  • I have written that the last two men I dated were lovely and it simply did not work out. Here’s the thing though, they were not lovely, I was lovely. They are assholes and I am tired of taking the high road when it comes to my dating life. I am far too nice, and the truth is that I was kind to both of these people, and they were dicks. At the end of the day I am a great girl who is worthy of a great man, and if you voted for Trump or are 53 and never married, you’ve got too many problems for me to take you on.
  • I cried when I read that Amy Schumer got married. I don’t know her, but I like her and respect how she uses the platform fame has given her, so I found myself inexplicably happy for her. She was a beautiful bride and I hope she has a loving and wonderful marriage. I’m not really the fangirl type, except for Celine Dion of course, but there is something about Ms. Schumer that puts me squarely on her side. She makes me laugh and has the gift of bringing light to darkness. Mazel Tov Amy. Thank you for you. #totalfangirl.
  • It turns out that I was correct when I shared with you all long ago that I am the only person who knows how to drive in Los Angeles. I was rear ended this week by a young man with no car insurance. He was texting on his phone and I saw him getting closer, but had nowhere to go so I just waited for the hit. We were not going fast and the damage was only cosmetic, but it pissed me off. I felt bad for the kid for about 30 seconds. He could have cared less about what he did and texted the entire time we were talking. Whatever.

I am very happy it is Friday. I am welcoming in Shabbat with an open heart and a tired mind. It has been a stressful, yet joyous week and I am going to have a couple Cosmos tonight. I know they will be delicious because I’m going to make them myself. I plan to order in Chinese food, put on my fluffiest pajamas, and enjoy the Olympics. I will undoubtedly go back and forth between the excitement of Korea and the news, struggling to make sense of things that will never make sense. I feel stuck. I am unsure what to think or feel when I am so happy, and so sad.

To the families in Florida who are experiencing unimaginable pain, you are on my mind and I send you love. May your loved ones rest in peace, and may you know I will join my voice to yours until somebody listens and gets the guns. I am sorry for your losses. Shabbat Shalom. Be safe out there everyone. We live in a scary place and the only way we will ever survive is if we start to take care of each other. Be kind to one another, use your vote for good, and scream as loud as you can that you want change. Be brave, be hopeful, and remember to keep the faith.

 

 

Miss You Dad


February 13th is the day my father passed away. It is a day of sadness and reflection, but also joyous memories of a man I loved very much. My dad was a wonderful human being and I miss him. He was my go to person for everything, and it is impossible to understand he has been gone for 17 years. I wonder what he would be like if he were alive today, and turning 80 this year.

This is always a strange day. I started with a few tears, lit a candle, said some prayers, and headed to work. On the way in I received an email from a man online. I decided to reply since he wrote on this day, and perhaps my dad had a hand in it. We exchanged numbers and by the end of the afternoon we spoke on the phone. He didn’t seem like a match, but I tried to find common ground.

He is Jewish, divorced, 53, and felt compelled to tell me he does not like blow jobs, so I can date him with the comfort of knowing I don’t have to worry about that. As I listened to this truly tragic man spend five minutes explaining his sexual do and don’ts, and how they would make my life better, I started to laugh. Not a chuckle, but hysterical laughing that made my stomach hurt. Perfect.

My dad totally had a hand in that. I ended the conversation with the man and thanked my dad for the laugh on a sad day. By ended the conversation of course I mean I hung up on him when he got to his thoughts on anal sex. Oy vey. My dad sent a true idiot my way, to make me laugh on a truly sad day. I am now having a Cosmo, sitting on the couch with the cat, thankful for many things.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I will have dinner with the love of my life, my son. We will raise a glass to my dad and hold the memories of him close on a day that shines a light on love. I will look across the table and see my father in the eyes of my son, and count my blessings. Thank you for the laugh today Dad. We all love you and know you are watching over us. You are missed and we are all keeping the faith.

Sadness to Happiness


I have a friend who is feeling sad. They’re not exactly sure why, but there is real sadness. I’m not sure how to help, so all I can do is tell them I love them, and things will be okay. Sadness is tricky because it can easily turn to depression. I embrace sadness when it comes my way, knowing it will pass. That knowledge took me a long time to learn, but I know it will pass, and that gives me the strength to ride it out. My heart is heavy for those who seek the same kind of strength.

I am blessed sadness leads me to gratitude. I imagine it is exhausting when sadness leads you to darkness. I don’t want my friend to be in the dark. I want them to hold onto my hand and allow me to lead them to the light. It may be a long walk, but we will get there. There is nothing wrong with sadness. I have been dealing with sadness since a dear and close friend passed away. I miss her in ways I wasn’t expecting and find exhausting.

When my friend passed away I was sad and lost. I hung onto my son a little tighter and he led me away from sadness. He was my sunshine on a cloudy day, and I hope I can be the sunshine on my friend’s sad day. Life is good and we are blessed. Carl Jung said “The word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” I hope my friend can appreciate the importance of sadness in one’s happiness. They’re going to be fine and this too shall pass. I know it.

I know this person well. I know their family, job, joys, and sorrows. I know they are a wonderful human being and destined for greatness. These are things I know, and while I appreciate sadness plays an important role in our lives, it is not in charge. To my darling friend, I love you. Know it. You are going to be fine. Know it. This too shall pass. Know it. You have been my sunshine, and I will be yours. Know it. It will make it easier to keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest in Peace Cookie


Last week my remarkable friend Alli passed away. She was a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, Hollywood superstar, and wonderful human being. I loved her very much and haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of how much I am going to miss her. We knew each other for almost a decade and there is no aspect of my life she did not touch and make better. She was an inspiration to all who were blessed to know her.

Alli taught me patience. She bided her time and waited things to be as she wanted, rather than accept something that was less than she deserved. She taught me forgiveness. She forgave me for things I may not have been able to forgive her for, because she knew it would bring peace. She taught me self-kindness. She would not allow me to punish myself when things out of my control went wrong.

She was an entertainment powerhouse who left her mark on Hollywood. Every person reading this blog loved at least one of her movies. From American Pie to The Bourne Identity, The Hunger Games to Cinderella, Rogue One and the upcoming Han Solo, Alli loved the movies and it was an absolute privilege to have a front row seat to watch her work her magic. She was a truly brilliant producer.

Allison Shearmur was a lot of different things to me. She was my boss, friend, confidant, therapist, life coach, mentor, sister, mother, and sparring partner. We laughed and cried, got along and butted heads. She was my go-to person for absolutely everything. She knew every single thing about me. We kept each other’s secrets and never judged our choices. She was my family.

I worked for Alli for many years, and when I decided to move on to a new job, she said she would not accept my letter of resignation because there was a typo in it, and so it did not count. When I told her I was looking for a husband, she told not to find a husband, but to find an Ed, who was her beloved. When I questioned myself as a mother, she assured me I was doing great and my son proved that daily.

She taught me the importance of spending money on good bedding and pillows. She made me buy something just for me once a month. She valued honesty, kindness, and faith. We shared a Jewish worldview and spent the high holidays together. She respected and encouraged the role Judaism played in my life, and we often talked about our religion. We spoke of wanting to pass our faith onto our children in ways that would inspire them to embrace it.

Alli loved her children, husband, family, home, and career. Allison Shearmur also loved me, which makes me a very lucky girl. I will spend the rest of my life looking forward to seeing her again. I will talk to her often and have her in my prayers always. Our last words to each other were I love you, and she will continue to guide me. I love you Alli, and until we see each other again, I will be keeping the faith.

Religion in an Uber


I love a cocktail, and because I am a complete lightweight, I use Uber. It is easy and inexpensive, as long as they don’t nail you with their bogus surge pricing. Important to note that if you book an Uber and it cancels on you, then you rebook it 30 seconds later and there is surge pricing, complain to them because that is both lame and unethical. This however is not a blog about Uber pricing, but rather about my recent Uber driver.

If you are interested in people’s stories, talk to your Uber driver. I have met some wonderful people while riding in their cars. I’ve been driven by a Drake lookalike who was so handsome I stuttered when we spoke. There was a grandmother making extra money to help her single mom daughter, who was so great I moved to the front seat. There was a woman who is raising 9 children and drives to get a break from her kids. Uber is great.

Saturday night I went out for dinner with a friend. He drove to my place and we took an Uber to sushi. When we got in the car there was something in Arabic playing and didn’t sound like music, as much as chanting, so I asked if he was listening to prayers, because that is what it sounded like. He told me it actually was prayers, I told him they were beautiful, and somehow we went from prayers to not all Muslim’s being extremists.

I’m not sure if my positive reaction to the prayers made him open up, but he felt compelled to say not all Muslim’s were bad, and many speak out against extremists who are bringing harm to their faith. He wanted me to explain to him why the media never talks about the brave few who are willing to speak out. I didn’t have an answer, which I think made him sad. I appreciated that he wanted to be heard, and felt bad the ride was so short.

We live in a time when it is difficult to be a lot of things. Life has levels of complication when you are gay, black, Jewish, or transgender, to name just a few. It makes me happy when people are proud of who and what they are, so it was great that this man was comfortable enough to play prayers for strangers. He asked me at one point if I was Muslim, and I said no. I didn’t tell him I was Jewish, which I am ashamed of.

I’m not sure why I didn’t say I was a Jew when he asked me if I was Muslim. I’m not sure why I would even have said I was Jewish in that moment. I am proudly and openly Jewish. I say openly because I have many Jewish friends who are quiet about their faith.  It struck me as odd that I would choose this moment to be quiet and not share. I respect his bravery, but am sad for thinking it requires bravery to speak of religion.

Religion has always been something we need to be careful with I suppose. It brings people together, and tears them apart. If fuels love and hate on both small and epic levels. At the end of the day I’ll continue talking to Uber drivers, because connecting to a fellow human being matters, and exchanges about religion can be enlightening if we allow them to be. Sometimes talking to a stranger inspires you to keep the faith.

 

Dating 101 – Bring on the rain


I started dating someone late last year and even though I totally thought we would be a thing, in the end we are not the thing I had hoped for. I really like him and we are friends, but it is a shame it didn’t become more. The simple truth is that at this stage of my life, I want to be with someone who is ready for a relationship. I have a wonderful life to share, and I am a wonderful human being, so there is no energy or point in spending time convincing someone to be brave.

If I don’t value myself, then how can I expect someone else to value me? I have had my heart broken, more than once, but I have never let that pain stop me from trying.  Love is grand and I am not going to let hurt influence my happiness. The memories of heartache certainly shape my heart, but they do not have the power to change what I want and what I believe I am worthy of. I hope this man gets to a place where he knows he is worthy of a good woman who values him.

Dating is not fun, but if you view it with the knowledge that even a misstep gets you one step closer to love, you’ll be okay. I had a date this weekend with a man a friend set me up with. I was told he would make me laugh, so we made a plan to meet for breakfast. He was handsome, on time, had a job, and fantastic green eyes. We said hello, settled in for the dance, and it was going well. Then he decided that he was going to call the waitress a bitch. Not once, but twice, to her face. We were done in just under ten minutes.

There is no world in which I am going to be okay with this behavior, so I went in. I started by apologizing to the waitress. She was lovely, which made his treatment of her even more disturbing. I told him he was rude and I was not only not interested in staying on our date, but he needed to apologize to the waitress. It was then that he told me I was, wait for it, a bitch. I got up, “accidentally” spilled my iced tea on his lap, and headed home.

I was sad for about five minutes, then it was just another step in my journey.  There is someone for everyone. The man I met for breakfast will meet a woman to spend his life with, and I’m hoping she ends being a total bitch. The man I was dating will also meet someone, and she will inspire him to risk getting his heart broken again. He will see her worth and that he is better beside her. I will be that woman for someone one day. Just not today, and that is okay.

It is Monday morning and raining in in Los Angeles, which is a great thing. The universe is washing away the weekend and allowing the week to begin fresh. I will keep trying because that is half the battle. You can’t be sad that you are alone if you are not trying to meet someone. How we try is not important, as long as we try. We are all worthy of love and if you want a relationship, you will have one. Be brave, take a risk, know your worth, believe in love, and keep the faith.

 

 

Make a Diffference


I wake up every morning and check the news. I do it with caution of course, because I never know what I’m going see, but I still look. I want to be informed about not only what is going on in Los Angeles, but the world. We are all in this together, and I want to be involved. I am curious by nature, and feel it is my obligation as someone who gets to share this earth, to be aware and help make the world better. We can all make a difference and seemingly little efforts still matter.

As I listen to what is going on in the world, and specifically in my own country, I can’t help but worry about the future. Things are a mess and we live in a political environment where we are also in danger. The unknown is scary and this administration worries me. I worry about what the future looks like for my son, who is about to turn 22, and is just starting his adult life. I worry about what the world will look like for the kids he will have one day. It is all very depressing, but needs to be thought about.

I am comforted and inspired by people who want to make thing better for all of us. I read something bad, then read about someone who is trying to make it better. I read about people doing bad things, then make sure to read about someone doing good things. I have to balance out the information I take in myself because I can’t rely on the media to do it. When we are surrounded by bad news, we owe it to ourselves to seek out good news. It makes life better when we are able to see both.

When I listen to my son talk about the world I feel better about things. He is a good man and is determined to not live his life on the sidelines. He is passionate about a lot of things and it makes me proud that he is making a difference. He is an inherently kind human being who cares about who he shares the planet with. On the darkest of days, I have hope because I know this young man will stand up for what is right and help those who need it. The good news is he is not a lone soldier.

I have a new assistant at work who is the same generation as my son. When we talk about things that are going on in the world, his view gives me hope. He sees the future in much the same way as my son and that makes me happy. This generation is frustrated and annoyed by what is happening in the world, and that is a great thing. They worry about their futures, but it is with determination to use their voices and talents to make things better. I am certain these young people will make things better.

I am going into Shabbat today with a sense of calm. I listen to the news and know there are people who will fight along side me for change. Our voices will join together and make ourselves heard. We can make things better if we the choice to do something, rather than just read the news and sit back and do nothing. We’ve got this people! Everything is going to be okay, just know it will get better, quicker, if we all step up. Have a great weekend. Think positive, be hopeful, do something, and remember to keep the faith.

 

 

 

Writing Out Loud


I’m not one to make resolutions because they set us up for disappointment. Rather than put all my eggs in one basket on January 1st, I simply try to do my best each day. I say a prayer, cross my fingers, and try to be brave enough to take leaps of faith. It is easier said than done of course, but as long as I try I am proud of myself. It doesn’t matter if I accomplish everything I set out to, but it does matter that I put myself out there.

The past year was full of challenges and blessings for me. I have no complaints because everything led me to blessings. I am thankful for the life I have and grateful to have this platform to share myself with all of you. I have discovered over the many years I have been writing for the Jewish Journal that my life is better when my readers relate to my words and share theirs in return. We are all in this together and I value your input.

In 2018 I will write about my always entertaining yet pathetic dating life, my lack of a sex life, my empty nest, my weight, my fascination with the train wreck that is Leann Rimes, my faith, my religion, (faith and religion are not the same thing), becoming a vegan, my son, my cat, my hopes, my fears, my cancer, and everything else that comes along because there is nothing I won’t share with an open heart and a shot of tequila.

I am going to write more often, and not only about what is going on in my life, but what is going on in the world. There is a lot to say and while I have always been open and honest, I’m going to take things to a whole new level and really blog out loud with no fear and no filters. I am excited about a lot of things and sharing them with you is a blessing that continues to inspire me to keep the faith.

 

 

Dating is Intense


I went out for a drink last night with a gentleman friend. He is funny, smart, handsome, educated, and kind. We have been dating for a few weeks and I enjoy his company. He makes me laugh and I find myself wanting to write down some of the things he says because they are so clever. He’s a writer, so technically that would be stealing, but I think about it. He is the first man in a while that I have been on a second date with. I may date a lot, but it is with purpose. I don’t date just to date, and I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, including my own.

I suppose one could say my dating life is somewhat intimidating, particularly if you don’t date much, but I am simply trying. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to keep trying, and when you add a blog into the mix, it can be a lot for someone to handle. I write about what is going on in my life, and I can’t not include something, because that would make me a fraud. I date, think Trump is an ass, am starting to love my empty nest, and have made a choice to pay attention to other people’s stories. That’s what is going on, and so that is what I write about.

I haven’t really been dating much lately because my heart is still a little stunned from the last go round, but I found myself feeling lonely and wanting to try again. I am the most optimistic person I know when it comes to love. If you look at my dating history it would make more sense for me to get a bunch of cats and let go of that part of my life, but at the end of the day love is grand, touch is important, and so I keep trying. Praying and trying, but mostly praying. Praying and vodka. Even amounts of prayer and vodka.

I care about people’s feelings and always appreciate when someone is interested in me. Dating is hard, and exhausting, but it takes someone special for me to invest in for longer than a drink. I like this man I’m dating for many reasons, and some of those reasons are new to me, which is wonderful. I think that perhaps my hopeful, unfiltered, and grown up perspective may have freaked him out because last night he told me I was intense.

I would prefer to be viewed as difficult rather than intense, and it hurt my feelings. In a rather unfortunate turn of events, it made me cry. It was of course mortifying, but it is what it is, and luckily I look pretty when I cry. I would call myself a lot of things, but not intense. I simply do not see that about myself. I am an advanced communicator, and not afraid to say what I think or feel, but that makes me a grown up. I suppose it can be perceived as intense, so I guess I’m going to die alone, with 18 cats.

Important to note I know the definition of intense and while one could say it is good to be intense in some situations, it takes on a different note when said in the context of dating. Unless you are referring to your sex life, intense is not a good word to describe a person in a relationship. I’m not even sure it works in terms of sex. At the end of the day I guess i just think it is an unkind word to use when speaking to someone in a personal exchange because whether or not someone is intense, calling them intense is personal.

He was not trying to be unkind. He is actually never unkind, and was surprised by my reaction, which I felt bad about. I suppose it boils down to being tired. Tired of the dating dance, and while I can certainly cut a rug with the best of them, in this particular dance I have two left feet. Last night made me wonder not only if I had gotten it wrong, but what was wrong with me? How can I be so certain I am being one way, when I am being perceived as something completely different? It must be because I’m so intense!

This man is wise and I value his opinion, so I am left wondering if he was right, and I am intense. It has left me sad, which is sad, because what it means is that in my attempt to be brave in how I approach my relationships, I ended up being someone I am not, which has been interpreted in a certain kind of way, which is horrible. Perhaps I am more embarrassed than sad, but sadness is winning right now, and so I cried and then had a restless sleep. It’s not the end of world, and life goes on, but it is a drag.

As someone who dates, it is hard to face the fact I suck at it. One would think I’d be used to it by now, but I’m not. I’m still trying to navigate the waters of dating, and just when I think I have a handle on it, an intense wave knocks me on my ass. I will recover of course, because I always do, but I wish it wasn’t so hard. It would be a pleasant surprise if bravery could be met with bravery. How refreshing it would be if instead of getting spooked, one would be inspired to also be brave.

I’m not one who thinks “bad timing” plays a role in relationships, but I do think time helps figure things out. It would be nice if we figured this out together because he makes sense to me. We make sense to me. It’s all a crap shoot, and there are no guarantees, so all I can do is live and learn. Every step I take gets me one step closer to where I am going. As for where that is, I have absolutely no idea. I really need to be done trying to figure that out. I just need to walk forward, with my focus on keeping the faith.

A Little Perspective


When I was driving to work yesterday I saw a car pulled over on the onramp to the freeway. I noticed the car as I started on the onramp because there was a lot of traffic and we were moving slowly. As I started on the loop I could see them at the other end right before the entrance to the 405 freeway. The man was in the driver’s seat and looking frantically from the freeway to the woman he was who was leaning out of the car to vomit.

I wasn’t sure what to do as I watched people looking and slowing down, but nobody stopped, until me. I made the decision to pull up behind them and see if I could help. I climbed out the passenger door of my car because I was scared of the cars on my side, and went to the woman. She was initially startled, then said she was fine and didn’t need help. I looked at her, looked at him, and told her I wasn’t there for her, but him.

She smiled, laughed for a second, and vomited. I rubbed her back as he said thank you and looked so tired. I simply smiled, told him it was going to be okay, and nothing else was said. The woman was better after a few minutes and when she was well enough to sit up and get settled back in the car, she introduced herself. She is 37 years old, has two kids, he is her wonderful husband, and she is having chemotherapy for breast cancer.

We chatted for a minute, exchanged information, and this weekend I am going to go visit her for a cup of tea. She and her husband are special people and I feel blessed to have crossed their path. I’m looking forward to spending time with them. Sometimes it takes a chance meeting with a stranger to give a little perspective. It is very important for us to not get so wound up in our own lives that we stop noticing the lives going on around us.

Interaction matters. We are all in this together and when you open your eyes and see people, rather than just glance past them, good things can happen and you can make a difference. Kindness matters and the simple acknowledgment of another human being can impact not only them, but you. I am looking forward to spending time with my new friends. It will be good to step out of my life to embrace new people and experiences.

I crave humanity and want to connect in different ways. I’ve been looking for something, and meeting these people makes me feel like I am on the path to finding it. They opened my eyes in a profound way, which is strange seeing as our interaction was brief, but I’m opening my eyes and my heart. I am open to love, purpose, kindness, and connection. We are surrounded by blessings and we owe it to ourselves to try and see them.

I am someone who is always searching for something. Not because I’m not satisfied, or need anything, but more because I like learning, and meeting new people. I like stories and when you are able to not only write your own, but be a part of someone else’s, that is very special. I am going to pay more attention to what is happening around me because when I do, I discover things about me that make it really easy to keep the faith.

Happy Thanksgiving Jose Cuervo


Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

This time of year inspires people to reflect on their lives. We take the time to say thank you and count our blessings, even if it is just for a day. Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday, but as a woman who gives thanks each and every day, saying thanks is just a small piece of the pie. In the spirit of the holiday however, each year I like to pick one thing or one person in my life that has gone unappreciated, and say thank you. This year’s selection happens to be both a person and a thing.

My son has moved into his own apartment and it’s been hard. Even though we talk all day and I see him regularly, I miss him so much it aches. I am not ashamed to share I have cried every day since he left. I have also slept in his room twice, and sat in the middle of the floor weeping. By sitting, of course I mean I was in the fetal position while looking at baby pictures with my boyfriend. By boyfriend, of course I mean Jose Cuervo, which leads me to my special thank you for 2017.

Thank you to Jose for helping me through this difficult transition in my life. I have spent almost 22 years preparing my son for this moment, but sadly forgot to prepare myself. The truth is that even if I had prepared myself, I still wouldn’t have been ready. He stayed at home longer I did when I was young, but I could have used a little more. Another five years would have been nice. Pathetic to be sure, but still nice. It has been him and me for so long it feels strange when he tells me he is going home after dinner, but it is not our home.

He was six months old when I got divorced and so our bond is special. It has been him and me against the world so long, I guess I’m just scared about how I will do it on my own. It would keep me up at night if it weren’t for Jose. He relaxes me so I can stop thinking and get some sleep. I love him. Important to clarify I don’t love him so much that we are together all day, but I do love him some evenings and imagine it will be a couple more weeks before me and my tequila boyfriend cool off.

Being a mother is the highlight of my life and most important job I will ever have. I am proud of my son for taking this milestone step in his life, and proud of myself for raising such a wonderful human being. He is living his best life and his successes are mine. I respect and admire him. I also trust him. He makes good choices and that is because of me. He is fearless, compassionate, aware, and kind. In the interest of full disclosure, it has not been all bad. There are blessings.

My home is always clean! There are no clothes on the floor, there are no dishes in the sink, and there is something quite liberating about walking around your home naked, just because you can. I am actually writing this while naked on the couch with Jose. I’m not sure I will ever get used to my empty nest, but with Jose by side I will learn to embrace it. Happy Thanksgiving! Count your blessings, acknowledge someone worthy, and raise a glass to keeping the faith.

Happy Birthday Dad


Today, November 22, 2017, marks what would have been my father’s 79th birthday. He passed away when he was only 63, and I often wonder what he would have been like had he been blessed with old age. I wonder how my life would be different had he been here to guide me, and how different my son would be, had he had his influence for longer. It makes me sad and I feel cheated by his dying so young.

Robert Angel was an amazing man and I loved him very much. He took care of me not only when I was a child, but when I was an adult and had a child of my own. He and was the kind of dad who always had a story, or an answer, or a solution, and a joke. It did not matter what was going on in my life, he was able to help me, even if it was just to listen and offer quiet support. I miss my dad more every day.

My son reminds me of my dad. They have similar mannerisms, the same sense of humor, and the same full head of fabulous hair. I can look at my boy and see my dad, which is a blessing. I am thankful my father got to meet my son and get to know him a little bit. He has eight fantastic grandchildren, but sadly didn’t get to meet them all, so I am lucky I have memories of my dad and son together.

My father loved my son and they had a lot of special little things together. He would have been close to my boy had he lived to see him grow up. He would have been the grandpa with pictures on his phone, ready to show anyone who wanted to see his grandchildren. I am certain that just like me, he would have watched my son on television and cried. He was strong, bold, and brave. A wonderful human being.

I will go out tonight and raise a glass in my father’s honor. I will say his name out loud, and thank him for watching over me. I will talk about him with my son so he never forgets him. I will be happy to have had such an amazing dad, and sad to have lost him too early. Happy Birthday Robert Angel. You are loved, and missed, and still the head of our family. I will see you again, so I am keeping the faith.

Letters to the Editor: New Journal Layout, Prayer, and Israel


New Look, New Content

I cannot adequately express how impressed I am with the new “Back and Forth” feature. Civil but serious, it sharply helps amplify and elucidate the perspectives of the quality voices that participate and teaches us stiff-necked readers things we would otherwise be unlikely listen to. A Kiddush HaShem to the fullest — what a wonderful way to model meaningful engagement between parts of our community and beyond. Thank you, thank you, thank you for embodying a core Jewish value with such deep, universal worth.

Kol hakavod!

Michael Feldman via email

Kudos on the new layout and typeface of the Journal. Big improvement. But as a boomer feminist, I found two recent columns written by women personally disturbing. The first was about flirting, which I at first dismissed simply as a “fluff” piece (“Why I Miss Flirting,” Nov. 10). In the second column, a mother proudly says she encourages her son to be “strong enough to be kind” (“My Son, the Maccabee,” Nov. 10). My alarm bells went off. I personally have seen men who were attracted to a damsel in distress become physically aggressive when that same woman becomes assertive. I also know of college football players (arguably men’s men) who have been convicted of rape.

Since these Journal columns have been published, more and more influential men have been outed for their alleged inappropriate sexual behavior with young men and women. Actor Richard Dreyfuss, when recently confronted, actually tried to excuse his alleged behavior by issuing a statement of direct relevance to both of these Journal  columns. He writes: “I value and respect women. … I became … the kind of performative masculine man my father had modeled for me to be. … I flirted with all women. … But I am not an assaulter. … I remember trying to kiss [his accuser] as part of what I thought was a consensual seduction ritual. … I am horrified and bewildered to discover that it wasn’t consensual. I didn’t get it.”

Women have worked too hard and too long in the fight to gain equality and independence. I hope we aren’t being asked to start all over again.

Sharon Alexander, Torrance


Building Bridges in a Time of Chaos

Thank you, Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn and the Jews United for Democracy and Justice, for your inspiring compilation “After Charlottesville” (advertising supplement, Oct. 20). Not only do you bring together teachings from the vast spectrum of Jewish leaders, sages and religious persuasions, but you also include teachings from non-Jewish leaders and traditions. By doing this, you are helping us to realize the relevancy and importance of striving to sing all four songs as written by Rabbi A.Y. Kook: the song of the individual, the song of the nation, the song of humanity, and the song of all existence. In this time of chaos, we must push ourselves beyond our ordinary boundaries, build bridges and learn from each other. It is only with an open, probing mind that we can elevate our community as well as our nation.

Also, thank you, David Suissa, for creating a forum where spirituality and practical matters can attain the perfect balance!

Mina Friedler via email


Prayers Alone Won’t Cure Society’s Ills

Ben Shapiro wrote a recent column about the power of prayer in the aftermath of the recent mass shooting in Texas (“Don’t Dismiss the Power of Prayer,” Nov. 10). One of the purposes of prayer in such cases is to provide comfort and consolation to the relatives of the victims because absolutely nothing can bring victims back to life. No human action can do that.

The unprecedented number of mass shootings during past several years shows there is a serious problem in society. Both sides agree on that. It’s obvious from Shapiro’s words that he doesn’t understand what is causing “a tsunami of rage,” neither has he the slightest idea where to look for the root causes of those events. Mr. Shapiro, with political power and authority comes the huge responsibility of providing peace and security to millions of people. The inability to fulfill that responsibility is what is causing the tsunami of rage. Such tragic events are not part of God’s plan. Period. They’re part of society, designed by humans. One thing I know in my profession: When there’s a problem with a building, we architects and civil engineers roll up our sleeves and begin to look for what’s causing the problem. And if we find out it is in the foundation, the last thing we would do is to offer a prayer. Even the most thoughtful prayer cannot do the job. Only hard work by experienced people can.

Svetlozar Garmidolov, Los Angeles


Inappropriate Topic in Torah Portion

Rather than commenting on the parsha, the extremist Open Orthodox rabbi unleashed a screed against the Orthodox Union (OU) for not aiding and abetting his agenda to promote practices that all halachic leadership of Modern Orthodoxy agrees is out of bounds (“Parsha: Chayei Sara,” Nov. 10). May the OU find the strength to remove these heretical congregations from their midst.

Saul Newman via email


Historic Evidence of Israel’s Roots 

Thank you for Judea Pearl’s story (“The Balfour Declaration at 100 and How It Redefined Indigenous People,” Nov. 10) lauding the declaration’s tacit recognition of the Jewish people’s status as the indigenous population of Eretz Israel.

It bears emphasis that the Jewish claim to indigenous status in Israel is not just a matter not of faith, but of historical fact confirmed by archaeology and science. The Merneptah Stele, inscribed on behalf of the eponymous Egyptian pharaoh (and son of Ramses II) around 1208 B.C.E., attests to the presence of a people called “Israel” in Canaan. The Tel Dan Stele, which celebrates an Aramean victory over Israel in the 800s B.C.E., mentions Judah’s royal “House of David.” Assyrian sculptures dating from 841 B.C. and 701 B.C.E., respectively, both on display in the British Museum in London, depict the Israelite King Jehu and the Assyrian siege of Lachish in ancient Judah. The Assyrian royal annals’ account of the siege declares Judah’s king Hezekiah trapped “like a caged bird” in Jerusalem, paralleling the biblical account. And population genetics studies confirm the connection of present-day Jews to an ancestral home in the Levant and the continuity of the Jewish people from ancient to present times.

Rome eventually destroyed the Jewish kingdom in a war from 66-73 C.E. and dispersed its people, but Jews never forfeited the right to return home or to reconstitute a Jewish state.

Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco


Israelis Trying to Do the Right Thing

I am a 15-year-old freshman at YULA Boys High School. I was thrilled to see “Teaching Math to Israel’s ‘Invisibles’ ” (Oct. 27) in the Journal because this story shows that Israel helps every race and religion — even Arabs — who constantly try to eradicate the Jewish state. This is also one of the many proofs that if any race or religion is in need of help, Israel is the first to offer its help. People who are not Jewish who read this story can see how the people of Israel care about everyone and are trying to be peaceful with everyone, even groups of people that try to terrorize the world. This story really has inspired me to be more involved in defending Israel when people accuse Israel of treating Arabs poorly. It especially bothers me when the media publish negative and untrue information about Israel. I love that this newspaper published very positive things about Israel. I hope other people get inspired like I did.

Daniel Dallal, Los Angeles

I strongly agree with what Shai Gul does and it will inspire others to reach out to people who need help. When most people run into situations like Shai Gul did, they most likely will run away from these problems. However, Shai did just the opposite, helping to educate people in that poor city. He conveyed kindness and empathy. He taught the “invisibles” to not be so invisible and to take a leap forward in life. By giving them this push, he managed to give them jobs and a basic education to build on. Shai Gul is an inspiration for people around the world. He should keep up what he does so others can be influenced and follow his tracks.

Eitan Ulitzky via email

Knocking


There’s a pounding within my chest

from the depths of my mortal flesh.

The Lord, He knocks upon the door.

His hand is hard — I want no more!

A painful pulse: “Let! Me! In!

It’s cold out here in all your sin!”

My God, I’ve all but lost the key

in the mess of my selfish greed.

These concrete walls I’ve put in place

blinded by desire. I need Your Grace!

So knock, Hashem, as hard as you must

to turn these walls back to dust.

I’ll take all the aches and all the pain

if I might be held in Your arms again.


Hannah Arin is a junior at Pitzer College pursuing a double major in religious studies and philosophy.

Friendship Goals


I am blessed to have wonderful friendships. People I care about in profound ways, who have become family. Some I’ve known for decades, and others for a short time, but they are all people I love, admire, respect, value, and depend on. They are an eclectic group and truly matter to me. They know who they are, and what they mean to me. This blog is about one woman in particular, who will be beside me for the rest of my life. I am blessed by my friendship with Gamble Breaux.

I met Gamble online about three years ago. She read my blog and sent me an email. We started corresponding, and a friendship began. In the beginning I was dealing with cancer, and Gamble was going through some stress at work. For some reason we found each other and without having met in person, became a support system to each other. I was sad, and sick, and Gamble saved me. With no hesitation, reservation, or exaggeration, I can tell you she swept into my life and saved me.

We had been writing for a few months when Gamble got engaged and was planning her wedding. I had been through surgery, was feeling nervous, and had lost my way a little bit, but Gamble would not let me feel sorry for myself and insisted I come to her wedding. It was a big decision not only because I was dealing with medical stuff, but because I live in Los Angeles and Gamble lives in Melbourne, Australia. It was a long way to travel and I wasn’t sure I could make the trip, but Gamble was.

She kicked me in the ass and would not allow me to miss it, so in an attempt to be brave, I agreed to go. I was going to fly to the other side of the world, to the wedding of a woman I had never met before. I got the blessing of my son and my oncologist, and I was going. I have never done something so spontaneous, but I felt inspired and supported by Gamble, so it was happening. From the moment I met Gamble in person and we embraced, it made sense. We were bashert.

I don’t know how it happened, but our connection was instant and our friendship goes deep. We spent five days together celebrating her wedding, then I went back to Australia to celebrate her son’s 21st birthday. When I was nominated for Blog of the Year by the LA Press Club, she came to LA to be my date to the awards ceremony. Then when my son was moving out, she came back to LA to hold my hand and wipe my tears. She is one of my best friends and I love her.

She eases my sorrow. She makes me feel better. She makes me laugh. She gives me clarity. She believes in me. She nurtures our friendship. She is like a sister to me. There is no time of day that I could not call her and she would not pick up the phone. She is my knight in shining armor and my hero. She is the kind of friend everyone deserves to a have. Thank you for always making things better Gamble. I love you very much. You are the kind of blessing that comes from keeping the faith.

 

 

Motherhood 101 – Growing Up


I survived week one in my empty nest. It was really hard, but I did it. The simple truth is I really miss my son. We talk several times a day, and I saw him during the week, but I miss having him at home. Not only do I miss him, but so does Fiddles the cat. When he came over today she about lost her mind. She followed him around like a dog and could not get close enough to him. When he left we both cried. Literally. We sat together on the couch and cried like a couple of babies.

When he said he was coming over I started to cook. I cooked as if I was having a dozen people over for dinner, even though it was just us. He walked in with a load of dirty laundry and I was so happy I thought I would burst. I did his laundry, fed him, watched Fiddles snuggle up, and stared at my grown up baby. He is a wonderful human being and I am proud of him. There is a piece of my heart that will always wish he was still with me, but a larger piece that is happy he has gone out on his own.

We are both out on our own for the first time and it has been bonding. We are going through the same changes and emotions. If you want to gage who is handling this time in our lives better, and make that decision based on the number of tears shed, I lose. He is thrilled about being on his own and I don’t think he has cried. I on the other hand still cry a lot, but for different reasons. I cried in the beginning because I was sad, and now I cry because I am so proud and excited for him.

I also cry because I am proud of myself. I have raised a good man. He is very much like my beloved father, and has all the good parts of his own dad, but at the end of the day this kid is just like his mom. I don’t have to worry about him because like me, he will always land on his feet. Maybe that is why I love Fiddles so much, we share that skill. My son is going to be fine and I am quickly realizing that so will I. My life is blessed and this time is important for a variety of reasons.

Life changes when you are not cleaning up after someone. I don’t have to pick up clothes off the floor, because I never throw my clothes on the floor. I never find dishes in my sink, because I put them straight into the dishwasher. I don’t have meat in my fridge, which as a vegetarian matters. Important to note I cooked a vegetarian feast for my boy on Sunday and he loved it. This are all really good things. Plus, there is the joy of walking around naked, simply because I can.

I am ready to shake things up. It is time to live my life out loud in new and different ways. I am going to slow things down so I can properly enjoy everything that is happening. My Rabbi taught me to meditate and I am going to implement her teachings into my everyday life rather than just my religious life. It is time to not only take a deep breathe, but listen to the air going in and coming out. I want to live a purposeful life, all the way down to my breathing. Listening to not only people, but things, matters.

The truth is I am lucky my son stayed at home as long as he did. He was ready to move out a long time ago, and only stayed to take care of me when I got sick. He did more than was required or expected, and I will be forever grateful. His leaving means not only have I done my job, but I have kicked cancer’s ass. I look forward to seeing my boy embrace all life has to offer. We are both growing up. It is time to count our blessings and focus on keeping the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Naked in an Empty Nest


After living together for almost twenty-two years, my son has moved out of our home. The countdown to his leaving was long, and though I tried to write this blog every day for two weeks, I couldn’t bring myself to finish it as I felt that if I didn’t post a blog about it, it wasn’t true, and therefore he wouldn’t leave. Genius thinking really. It has been very difficult for me to accept he was leaving, and even harder to understand why he would want to. I cried more in the past month than my entire life.

I am not ashamed to tell you I would spontaneously burst into tears daily since he started to pack. I would start crying for no apparent reason. I didn’t have to be talking to him, or even thinking about him, I just started crying. Not a pretty or ladylike cry either. A snot pouring out of my red nose while I was heaving cry. It wasn’t cute. I’m sure people thought I was not well as I looked truly horrible. If I saw myself on the street I would cross to the other side. I was scary and found myself talking out loud to myself quite often.

I was 18 when I left home, and beyond ready to go. I cannot imagine what my mother thought sending her baby away, and she did it with four children. It has just been my son and me so there is the additional bond of being a single mother to an only child. We are connected in special and important ways. We take care of each other and his fear and nerves are the same as mine. He was nervous to leave home and worried a lot about how I would be on my own. He is a wonderful human being and I am a lblessed mom.

In anticipation of his leaving, I purged my home. For every box he packed, I got rid of two. Each day I would take a load to Goodwill and they’d ask me how I was doing since I turned up with swollen, red eyes. It was rough and an aching I had not ever experienced before. I love this young man more than anyone or anything, and aside from knowing I would miss him being in my home, I have never lived alone in my entire life. It is the beginning of a new and unchartered life for me, which is both exciting and scary.

When he left last weekend I cried like a baby, but each day since Saturday has been a little bit easier. I find myself wondering where he is, and if he is home safe, so I haven’t been sleeping very well. Yesterday was a turning point for me. As I was sitting in his empty room, wondering if I would ever get used to his not living with me, my girlfriend called to check on me. Before I told her what I was doing, she asked if I was sitting in my son’s room crying. She knows me well.

I told her I was whimpering not crying, which was a big step. She told me I needed to snap out of it and the first step to embracing this stage in my life was to get naked. She pointed out I had a child in my home for over two decades and with him out on his own, it was time to be a grown up in new and exciting ways. She insisted I take all my clothes off and walk around my home naked. I told her she was nuts, but I did as instructed, mostly to be able to mock her stupid idea. I was suddenly crying and naked.

I then spent the next hour walking around naked. I made a cup of tea, straightened up, had a chat with the cat, organized my closet, and chose a new paint color for my room to brighten things up a bit. There was something very liberating about being naked in the comfort of my own home. I felt like a grown up in a whole new way. It was great. Really, really, great. It was also the moment I stopped crying and started to appreciate what an important time in my life this is. Stripping down put things into perspective.

I have raised a man all by myself. He is funny, smart, rooted in his faith, compassionate, empathetic, and supporting himself financially. He is almost 22 years old, working, pursuing his passion, finding his way, and unaware that the last three times we spoke on the phone, his mom was naked. My nest may be empty, by I’m naked, and it is all very exciting. I am embracing being alone. By embracing, of course I mean I am trying really hard to embrace being alone. Change has begun.

I will worry about him every minute of every day, but the truth is that I would worry the same way even if he still lived with me. That is how motherhood works. I love him and am blessed that he loves me back and left because he wanted to spread his wings, not flee the nest. We are close and his leaving will only make us closer. Important to note I did hire him to help me with something at work so I get to see him during the week. Don’t judge. I really needed the help and why not him?!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am writing this blog while naked. I am in my bed, naked, and it is fabulous. I put a chain on my front door so should my son come by unannounced, I can grab a robe. You think of these things when you begin a naked life. This has been the hardest two weeks of my life. I honestly did not think it would hurt so much to have him go. I have put all my energy into preparing him to leave, but never prepared myself for the day he would go. Motherhood is tricky like that, always throwing surprises your way.

This weekend I will paint, reorganize things, and turn his room into a guest room/office, rather than the shrine it has been since he left.  I will always have a room for him, and he will always know he can come back any time he wants. He just needs to call first because chances are I will be naked. I am happy today. Happy with my accomplishments as a mother, happy my boobs look so good at 51, and hopeful that one day I will have a great man here with me, naked, and keeping the faith.

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