The small things

Sometimes it’s the small things that are the ones that bring you the most joy.

I am blessed that my two daughters both live within a 10 minute walk of my home. I am able to see them frequently, usually for a few minutes or an hour at a time, and that feels very comfortable to me.

I see my younger daughter usually a couple of times during the week and almost always at synagogue on shabbat. We have always been close. I see her baby enough to see the day by day changes as her awareness of the world grows. Now that she knows her name and consistently smiles when she sees me, I am working on teaching her to give a kiss. Just yesterday when I said the word “kiss” I saw her pucker up her lips!

I see my older daughter less. The busy working mother of 5, pregnant with her 6th, she barely has time for herself, let alone spare time to spend with me. We talk on the phone, I catch a few minutes here and there when I stop by to drop off or pick up something or someone, and I call to her as we pass her home on the way back from synagogue on shabbat. Usually she and her husband and at least the two little girls come out to their garden to greet us– her little girls with their happy smiling faces and their cheerful voices! Sometimes her older children come out too.

And there are, of course, the family events where all of my children gather. I really am blessed.

But yesterday I received a call from my older daughter and she had a morning free! We left Modi’in on a sunlit day and drove to Jerusalem and spent time walking together and looking in shop windows and having lunch. We talked about the past and the present and the future. How sweet it was! After all of the years of mothering and the years of worrying and seeing her through difficult times, yesterday was such a wonderful affirmation of our relationship. Beautiful (as she always has been), intelligent, accomplished, and possessing a grace and serenity, there was my daughter, there with me. We finished our meal and walked back to the car through the bustling Jerusalem streets.

It was a perfect day.

And when I got home, who was there but my younger daughter and her baby and our new “adopted” daughter! More happiness, more pleasant conversation, more exchanging of kindness and compassion.

Later, after they left, my husband said to me, “Would you like to go out to dinner?” And so we did. Again, it was lovely just sitting and talking and enjoying life.

It was a perfect day

Check this out!

Poofy (Leah’s dog) responded to the 8 things meme on his blog Check it out. He’s one articulate dog.

Thanksgiving

Living in Israel is sometimes surrealistic. OK, who am I kidding? It’s always surrealistic to live in a country that is working and building and thriving at the same time as hundreds of millions of people are preparing for/waiting for/praying for its destruction. It is a country that at once is the best place to live (at least I think so) and is the most self-deprecating, self-destructive country I know. It is a country with a huge amount of intellectual capital with little of it residing in the people who are running it.

So it should not have seemed odd to have lived in two different worlds in the last couple of days. We were getting much needed rain in quantities that were awe-inspiring and the sun would then peek out for a few minutes and then the downpours would resume. Meanwhile, my cousin who was visiting in Manhattan was messaging me about the beautiful weather there. At the same time on Wednesday evening that I was waiting for my fresh mehadrin turkey to be brought to me by a man who lives in Kiyat Arba (outside of Hebron) I was watching the Fox News Network and I was back in the US, preparing for Thanksgiving with the Americans.

And last night, we had our turkey and cranberry sauce and all sorts of goodies including pumpkin pie (baked by my daughter) and apple pie (baked by me) and we enjoyed the company of our children and our current youngest grandchild– and felt thankful– grateful for the home we knew in the US, privileged to be able to come and make our homes here, and grateful to the source of all blessings for all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.

Another 8 things meme

I thank my dear daughter for the opportunity to wrack my brain to answer this meme. I had thought that she would have stopped keeping me up all night about 28 years ago, but last night’s foray into the wonderful world of CT scans was only the latest of our late-night bonding sessions. As she pointed out, in one of the more successful ones, she ended up coming home with a baby. All kidding aside, this was an interesting one to work on. Answers are not necessarily in any logical order.

8 passions in my life:
1. My husband, despite his beard
2. My children– who couldn’t be more terrific
3. The dentist, the juggler, the nurse, and the professor (in alphabetical order)
4. My grandchildren– each and every one of those magnificent young people– they all make me very proud!
5. My extended family including my sister and my cousins and others we include as family
6. The Land of Israel
7. People who walk humbly with G-d
8. China

8 things to do before I die:
1. Live 120 years (or more if I’m still having fun)
2. See my grandchildren grow up
3. Spend lots of leisure time with my family
4. Be a great-grandmother
5. Get my house in enough order that my kids won’t curse me when they’re cleaning it out
6. See the people of Israel living without external threats
7. See all of the Jews come home
8. Let those I love know how much I love them

8 Things I often say:
1. You always have to behave yourself
2. Somebody’s got to be the grownup
3. Take it easy
4. Take care of yourself
5. Be kind to each other
6. Okie Dokie
7. I sure could use a coke
8. Where are my keys?

Eight Books I read recently

1. Wild Swans- Jung Chang
2. To Live- Yu Hua
3. Chronicle of a Blood Merchant- Yu Hua
4. Mao’s Last Dancer- Li Cunxin
5. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan- Lisa See
6. Empress- Shan Sa
7. Leaving Mother Lake- Yang Erche Namu & Christine Mathieu
8. Mao: The Unknown Story- Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

8 songs that mean something to me:
1. Try to Remember
2. The Green Leaves of Summer
3. Shanghai Breezes
4. HaMalach Hagoel
5. Min HaMaamakim (Idan Raichel)
6. Let Me Call You Sweetheart
7. Ki Tin’am
8. Ra’iti Ir Otefet Or

8 Qualities I look for in a friend:
1. Kindness
2. Healthy outlook
3. Good sense of humor
4. Self-awareness
5. Intelligence
6. Optimism
7. Energy
8. Passion

8 people I am tagging
Everyone I know personally who has a blog has already been tagged. Anyone reading this who wishes to be tagged, consider yourself tagged and please link back and leave a note so that I can find where you’ve posted.

I met a woman

I met a woman. I can’t tell you too much about her because she deserves her privacy, but trust me, this woman has been through heart-wrenching, excruciating, cutting, crushing pain in her life.

I found this out only after I had known her for a while.

Before that I thought of her as a sunny, loving, kind, caring person. She exuded warmth and that special inner beauty of hers was evident in everything she said and did.

That’s how I used to think of her.

But now that I know her story, I know that she is miraculous. I think of her as a hero.

I see so many people whose lives are objectively fine. Their husband/wife is too hard/too easy on the children. They don’t feel appreciated enough. They don’t get enough help around the house or their spouse expects too much of them. Some of these people make themselves miserable. They whine and moan, not just in therapy (where I get paid to listen) but to their friends and relatives and neighbors and children setting off time bombs that will erupt into divorce.

I want to introduce them to my miraculous woman…. because she knows how to value each joyful experience each kindness, each day.

Love your spouse

Is your husband/wife driving you nuts? Does s/he sound hostile, negative or generally unhappy? Love him/her! Tell your spouse how proud you are to be married to him/her. Be generous with praise, kindness, and helpfulness. Do it even if you think it isn’t appreciated. Do it more and more and more.

Sometimes people go through bad times emotionally because of changes in life stages or physical concerns. People become overwhelmed with the tasks of life, with the worries of others, with their feelings of frustration. They may act withdrawn or angry. Their spouse feels hurt, left out, angry in return and then everything begins to deteriorate.

It is exactly when your spouse is the least lovable that s/he needs the most love, concern, and caring. It’s not about fairness; it’s about the relationship that you hope to have in the future.

Negative cycles can begin for the most insignificant reasons and deteriorate easily into anger and acrimony. But the test of love and devotion is to be there with your spouse at those times and to continue to give and give and then give some more in the knowledge that once again someday s/he will be back with you as a partner and a lover and someone with whom you will feel happy to share you life.

Once again, back from China

I returned from China on Friday morning, bringing with me a lot of souvenirs, including a French couple who had not known that the time of our arrival had been moved back 24 hours and who could not make it back to Paris before shabbat. Fortunately, they, like the others who traveled with me this time, we completely delightful people who were very considerate of me and so when I conked out at dinner Friday night and then at lunch Saturday morning, understood that it wasn’t personal.

Unpacking is always an adventure since in China one always picks up a little bit here and a little bit there and the prices are so reasonable, we find ourselves going and buying even more when it dawns on us that we can get many many items for not so much money. And always, there is the excitement of finding out just how many little ethnic doll keychains or little girls’ purses or magnetic bracelets I have managed to accumulate here, there, and everywhere.

And every item is happy! A couple of years ago when we traveled to Hungary and Austria, even the few souvenirs we could have afforded were dour, heavy, muted– like the experience we had traveling there. China is full of light and life. In the nooks and crannys of little villages, there is light and color and joy. Red “good luck” tassels and lanterns dot the landscape. Drying on the roof are corn and red peppers. The children smile and say “Hello!” The adults gladly pose for pictures, often displaying the “V” sign with their fingers. Men and women carrying heavy baskets laden with fruits and produce from poles suspended over their necks smile and bow and one feels from them a joy in their lives.

The Chinese people have been through terrible times. Between the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, they saw starvation and death and devastation that dwarfs the experience of other nations. But there seems to be such a sense of happiness and purpose among the people. They are kind and helpful and despite having no language in common, they communicate with their visitors.

I always return from China with a feeling of wholeness, and each time I go, I anticipate it even more excitedly!

So now I am home, in the loving arms of my family, and looking forward to Thanksgiving and Hanuka but with the faint sound of the Chinese flute still echoing in my ears.

Draggin’

Just got home from the city of nine dragons and now I’m draggin’ too! China was once again beautiful beyond words and Hong Kong was, well, interesting…

More when I wake up…