Tag Archives: challenge

Spandex Woes and More

I post a lot about feelings.  This blog is basically my online journal and showcases how alike you and I might be with our differences in beliefs.  Yet, I forget to let you in on some of the extraordinary portions of my life – the details that are specific to being Hebrew.

What I find to be one of the more complicated matters of Hebrew life is that of clothing.

The command not to mix fibers leaves a modern gal mostly flummoxed when confronting the clothing aisles.  Linen/wool blends, linen blends, wool blends, cotton/poly blends, linen/cotton/wool blends… it’s like looking for a sinew needle in a 500 gallon bin full of multi-fiber yarn.

I can tell you that I have to be in the mood to shop when it comes time to buy clothes.  The time I spend poring tediously over every content label would unnerve me to no end if I were simply running an errand on a tight schedule.

Since I work in an office, I typically settle on man-made clothing blends, hoping for a label of 100% unnatural vs mixing the natural cloth fibers.  Poly, nylon and spandex are my primary work-a-day options.

lace light

When I find the rare item that is 100% single fabric, I’m overjoyed.

The most recent find was on clearance as well.  Label me the proud owner of 9 (yes, nine) new pairs of 100% cotton jeans, purchased for $6.67 per pair, plus shipping and taxes.

Come now, don’t hate – I cannot find jeans without that tidbit of spandex added to the cotton.  When I do…

Call it prepping, call it hoarding – I call it practical.  It will save me hours of search time over the next few years.  With that practical mindset, I also varied the sizes, to account for minor fluctuations on the scale over time.  I like my chocolate and I’m prone to the occasional baked goods binge.  It’s not going to leave me pant-less.

But wait, there’s ‘More’.

While commanded, there is no penalty listed for this guideline.  Should I find myself facing no options but mixed fibers, it would not be a death penalty.  There is no slap on the wrist listed.  Many of the guidelines in Torah have no retribution, contrary to what some might believe.  I like to think that Almighty was keen to the possibility that there would be times when it would be difficult to live those ‘lesser’ commands.

Would I know?  Certainly.  There is that.  I would know that I had tried, but not met my obligation.  I’d have to live with that.

What a beautiful methodology.

 

Cultural Days: Bittersweet Pages

Today marks the cultural page turn – from 48 to 49… meaning that I’ll begin telling myself that I’m 50 now.

It’s a bittersweet change, a journey-marking and emotion-stirring sort of transition.

I love who I’ve become.  It’s been a long hard journey, but I feel it’s come full circle now – I found the girl I lost a long, long time ago.

A woman now, but with a girlish joy, a girlish energy, a girlish view of life – with a firm foundation of reality and knowledge.

Oh, I don’t know it all – hell no I don’t!

But what I do know gives me courage.

It gives me strength and fortitude.

And I can now look in the mirror and say “I love you, you beautiful bad-ass you!”

That took a long time, and I just realized today that it’s real.

Sadly, I’m now the number my grandmother reached, never to count another.

Did she ever reach a satisfaction point?

Was she ever able to look at the mirror and love those eyes looking back?

I’m only two years from the number my mother last counted.

I don’t know that she had the satisfaction of self-acceptance either.

This anchors me, holds me firmly on my feet.

I think of their end – to feel as young as I feel, yet to have lived as much as I have lived now.  To realize how precious life is – I mean, we finally really get that at this age!  Then to be done?

Finished.

No knowledge, no history to follow.

Missed opportunities, missed grand-kids, missed great grand-kids…

That rocks my world a bit.  It makes their absence seem off-balance, skewed and unreal.

I know that I’m 90% likely to exceed this year by 20 or 40 (yes, I’ll take the positive view) years.  I’m thankful for what I have and what possibilities exist…

And I’m so happy with where I am, where we are, my spouse and I – where our kids are, and what our lives are about.

More importantly, I’m so thankful to Almighty that I’ve been allowed the opportunity to see today.  We really never truly know if we’ll see tomorrow…

Sigh.

There you have it – it’s bittersweet…

But there’s more — I’ll share the “cherry on top” moment for the day:

Moving slowly this morning, just a little worn from four hours of road time yesterday, topped by a 5K mud dash for a fundraiser, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I’d accomplished a physical feat that I had been unsure of, and I had met new people and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

lozilu profile

I took my sweet time, finally taking time to run through the edits and uploads for my niece’s bridal shower pictures.  Much later than my usual time, I was ready to eat breakfast and get outside to monitor the poor, neglected garden.

I was in such a hurry to get outside, I decided to take my yogurt/granola out with me and eat it as I walked through the garden.

There I was, granola bowl in hand, rounding the corner of the garage, noticing that there was a strange chair peeking out from behind the camper.

As I continued my approach, the accompanying bistro style table with colorful flower mosaic tile and second chair came into view!

I have to admit, the smile on my face was the biggest I’ve had, and the tears that streamed down my face were pure joy.

I slowly set my bowl down and admired his choice, feeling the sudden rush of contentment that comes from someone just knowing me so well.

Yes, I feel pretty good, pretty grounded about the number fifty.

 

Mountains

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

John Muir

To Lend An Ear, Opening to the World Around Us

pebbles and shellI don’t often get the opportunity to step out of my daily bubble, to see the world from a new perspective.  This recent work trip allowed me an education I hope to carry for life.

What I’ve been reminded of, had reinforced in short successive meetings, is much broader scope than my personal epiphany.

The glimpse we’re given into the lives of Abraham and Sarah sets the tone:  belief in and worship of Almighty Most High, deep family ties – not ties that choke but ties that rescue when in need, hospitality to travelers, and care and concern for others unknown.

Application of those principles is something I often struggle with.  I don’t know which upheld “I need ______” sign to trust as I pass a forlorn beggar, nor do I trust my ability to judge safety when a traveler is sitting along the ramp of a busy interstate.

Touched with emotion, I keep moving past.  I don’t stop, I don’t make eye contact except to flash a quick smile of greeting, hoping that they understand my dilemma.

What I’ve just found that I am able to do is to lend an ear when an opportunity arises.  My opportunity was four plane rides during the transport to and from our work conference destination.  Safely ensconced in a crowded plane, my trusty coworkers scattered throughout the cabin, I was able to let down my typical guard and converse.

Through the brief conversations, I met several people, and received a distinct impression – a heart print – from each and every one.

I’d like to introduce them to you:

Passenger One, the tall, balding NY Times reader, with a paunch.  He was likely in his early to mid-sixties.  He was very polite, yet somewhat brisk and professional, nearly British in his demeanor.  He exchanged basic pleasantries and asked where I was going, then a little about my employer.

Side-tracked by the pilot announcements, I left it at that and chatted with the very helpful passenger on my left side.  Once that conversation had run its course, I recognized that I had not inquired about the Times reader’s destination.

There was a shift in demeanor, a sudden letting loose of the rigidity, the polite standoff.  As he turned to answer, I saw the pain in his eyes – a soft pain, but still very evident.

He was going to New York to visit his mother.  She had recently had a very serious illness (which he did not elaborate upon and I did not ask) and was still hospitalized.  He talked with a wry smile about how she loved the city life and he could not get her to budge and move closer.

No other family in the area, her friends long gone, this 93-year-old city gal was going out in her own terms.  And he was dutifully and frequently doting upon her to see her through the journey.

I told him I hoped the best for her and for him as well when we parted.  His thank you and kind smile were genuine.

Passenger Two, the frumpy, nervous-Ned, whose eyes darted frantically out the window, then to the onboard monitor.  He was likely in his late 50’s, salt and pepper, with submissive demeanor – self-deprecating almost.

As I glanced toward the window, nervous-Ned mistook my glance as curiosity for his actions on the touch screen.  He began to explain that he had a short delay between flights and was previewing the gate for his next leg of the trip.

Curious, I looked to see what he meant and he helped me navigate the new American Air monitors to see ‘my flight’ and the airport terminal map.  A perfect opportunity to learn.

Continuing, in his nervous way, he explained that he was traveling to NV to attend two weeks of education.  He is an administrative law judge and I’m sorry to say that I got distracted by that fact as he further explained his job.  I was connecting the persona to the position and my prior experiences with such.

A very pleasant man, he talked a bit about his downtime and possible travel plans – staying in a motel in Vegas but with not one iota of interest in the gaming community.

Next leg of the flight, Passenger Three, the vivacious 62 yr old brunette, with fantastically lovely cornrow braids that sparkled as she talked – and talk she did!  Our conversation began when I stated with matter of fact that she had my admiration for stepping across me so deftly to access her window seat.  I didn’t see her coming and then she was suddenly there.

She launched right into her travel logs, excitement oozing from every word.  I heard of her overwhelm with work and living the life she thought she wanted in Phoenix, I heard of her HUGE family of origin and the pride and love for them, I heard of her welcoming her nephew who would live with her during his college education.  I then heard her dreams to return ‘home’, to get back to her roots and live closer to family – as soon as the boy’s college was complete.  She cautioned me to Phoenix traffic, told me not to take it personally when folks weren’t nearly so kind and we gave each other good cheer as we parted.

Flying back home, the flight to Dallas, Passenger Four, the intense and nervous beauty, with deeply drawn lines, but sparkling eyes (when they were not clouded with concern).  She was a quiet-ish sort, nearly suggesting submissive, yet her eyes held a longing to be close, to confide.

When I asked her destination, she said to a military stop, and then on to many flights.  My eyes held hers for a moment, hesitant to ask, not certain if she cared to share – and then she did.  She explained that she was going to Baghdad, as an interpreter at the embassy there.

Short notice given, she had packed as many belongings as she might possibly be able to carry, to serve in the ‘crisis’.  She would only have the things she brought, to begin with – her lodgings would be in a small box-like ‘room’.  The last time she was there, it was for three years.  Conditions were different, it seemed… this time.

There had been an emergency evacuation, you see, she’d heard from a friend there.  They were told to put what they could in backpack and get the hell out NOW!  Everything they owned was forever lost, unless it fit in the backpack.  This is where she was going, to do what she was hired to do, to fit the need she’d determined she could fill.

We talked about many things, and I can only hope that the unburdening gave her a small moment of relief.  There is a situation, and we only know the tip of the iceberg – and she didn’t share information she should not share – but I am an observer, that’s what I do best, and I looked deep into her eyes and saw sorrow that I only know the edge of.

She touched me, squeezed my heart – and I reached out a hand, placed on her arm and told her I hoped for safe travels for her.  Then she strapped on her 70 lb. backpack, this petite, yet sturdy version of citizenship; hoisted her second carry-on, and moved forward.

On the last leg home, I was pensive, seated for the late arrival of Passenger Four, the beautiful youth, a blond fawn-like creature, with demure eyes and obvious over-seas ways.  She strapped on a headset immediately and plugged in to the seat back, appearing to shut out the world around her.

Then, after take-off, she had removed the ‘electronic wall’ and glanced furtively at me.  I smiled.  She smiled.  She leaned toward me and asked if they would serve something to drink on the flight – yes, they certainly should.  ‘Good, I need fluids’, she said.

Definitely international – but very good English, I asked where she was heading and the conversation ensued.  A native Bulgarian, she was looking forward to college in a small Kansas town.  Her primary reason for the change was to play basketball, something she’s done for the past twelve years.  She wants to study psychology and be a mentor for at-risk children, particularly those entering school and kindergarten aged.

She spoke of home with a strong mix of pride, and sadness.  Her community is mired in hopelessness, you see.  They’re poor and give up all hope when their youth is diminished.  She challenged me to keep forging ahead, to live life as fully as possible – and to visit her country.

I challenged her to contact me, to have a home away from home, as a newly adopted member of our family.

We’ll see…

 

 

 

How to Educate Common Sense?

“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”

Isaac Asimov

It’s fairly humiliating to find that your intelligence will not protect you from stupidity.

This past Sunday, after a nice and relaxing glass of wine (OK, it was a tall glass – but it really was only one), I determined it was high time to take the SUV to the car wash.

Quarters safely entrusted to the machine, high powered wash correctly chosen, I set upon the task with my mind free to wander as my body took over.

Then a stubborn little spot on the rear window caught my attention and I reached out to help it along with my fingers…

Let me tell you – any who have not thought about it – skin in the direct path of a high pressure water wand will lose the battle!  Instantaneously!  Painfully!  Memorably!

My husband’s reaction when I showed him the angry wound and asked if he knew a car wash wand could do that was “No, I’ve never known anyone who did that.  It’s pretty much common sense that 2000 lbs of pressure will hurt you.”

Really?  It had not once occurred to me.

I’m befuddled.

I can pick up the nuances of any software I’ve encountered in a VERY short period of time.  I can decipher instructions, read complicated writings, calculate on the fly, plan and organize, and a few other odds and ends.  Why do simple things elude?

I cannot decide if it’s a brain disconnect when faced with everyday situations, or if it’s an intelligence fault.  Is there a particular area of the brain that handles common sense?  If so, is it an area that can be intentionally developed, or are some people prone to learning only by the ‘school of hard knocks’?