Survey

Are you one of those people who gets many calls each week asking you to participate in a survey? Does the person on the other side of the phone speak too quickly and have a really bad speech impediment? Here is a sample of what I imagine might happen if I gave them the chance…

I am doing a survey on banking. Do you mind if I ask a few questions?
What bank do you use?
Does your whole salary go into that bank? (I hear salivating)
Do you have horaot kevah (automatic payment of bills)? (More salivating)
Do you have any investments with that bank? (Heavy breathing)
What would a fair estimate of how much you make each month be? (More heavy breathing)
What percentage of your income goes into your savings? (Did I hear her say, “Jackpot!”?)
When you chose a password for your account, how did you come up with something you could remember but others couldn’t guess? (I think I heard her drop the phone and run out the door.)

Fairy godmothers

OK, I’m not really talking about fairy godmothers, but I thought it might be a topic that people were curious about.

Well, actually, yes, I am talking about fairy godmothers, but not in the fictional sense.

There is a concept without a name (at least one that I am familiar with) that I would like to explore. If it’s been written about before, I would love to hear about it, so please let me know.

Having grown up in a home that wasn’t the most nurturing, I had to find validation other places. Here’s where I found it: there were teachers who smiled at me, there were my aunts who made me feel loved, and there were my grandmothers. All of these people were, to some extent, fairy godmothers. They were around sometimes and it was often merely their presence in my mind that formed for me a safety net in the world. As long as they were around, even if only in recent memory, I felt loved and supported. As a group, it felt as if I was encircled by them and protected.

As the years went by and I learned how to appreciate my own value and accomplishments, I didn’t need fairy godmothers so much. But still there were my parents there in the background, out of sight, but still potential supports. After the death of my father, I substituted my uncles in his role of standing behind me, supporting me.

Somewhere in my 30s or 40s, I began to realize that I took the place of fairy godmother for some Lamaze students I taught and some clients I worked with as a therapist. They carried me in their pocket or their mind or their heart, to take out when they needed reinforcement and stability and, I guess, love. I only knew, because they told me.

As time goes on, I realize the world is full of fairy godmothers. They are the people who are in our lives who just by their being there, even when they are far away, give us affirmation and strength. As we get older, often they are mentors, peers, and nowadays, facebook friends– people whose presence enriches our lives.

Often, our fairy godmothers don’t know the function they have in our lives. Often, we don’t realize it until they are no longer around.

So today, look around at your fairy godmothers. Figure out who they are. And appreciate how they have made your life better, just by being there.

And then, think about whose fairy godmother you are, because whether you know it or not, someone who is not in your family– who you may see only occasionally, someone’s life is better just because you are in it.

“…hey it’s good to be back home again…”

Hello all!

It’s been a very busy time since I last posted. We spent the second week in August making final preparations for our tour of Vietnam & Cambodia. We did shopping (for all sorts of foods we took along), baking (6 loaves of bread for the first shabbat) and, of course, packing. On the way to the airport I commented to my daughter who was driving us, “Remind me that I never want to do this again.”

You see, in addition to all of the physical preparation, there is a lot of preparation in terms of planning all sorts of logistical issues such as how to meet a couple we didn’t know at the Bangkok airport (we got lucky… despite our plans, they happened to walk by us after we had despaired of meeting them, and were spotted by friends of theirs who were on the tour), how to feed 20 people a kosher dinner immediately on arrival at our hotel in Hanoi (at about midnight), etc. As much as we planned, we prayed a lot too because we traveled in the rainy season and we hoped that the forecasts we had seen for every city that predicted “chance of thunderstorms” every day(!!!) were wrong.

In the end, we did have a couple of days with rain, but it never really got in our way, and on several occasions, the cloudbursts came just as we walked inside or subsided just as we were ready to walk outside.

We had a group of people who were absolutely the best. We had Hebrew speakers who knew English and English speakers who knew Hebrew. We also had people who only knew Hebrew or English. And just for fun, we had a couple whose best language was French. Despite this, they became one happy family. They were caring and kind and thoughtful and appreciated everything we did for them.

Of course Vietnam and Cambodia are beautiful countries and we and our people had no shortage of excellent opportunities to photograph them. The countries are populated with wonderful warm, friendly people and we were happy to see some of our favorite people like our guide in Hanoi, Phuong, and the Chabad rabbi in Saigon, Rabbi Menachem Hartman and his lovely wife Racheli and their three beautiful sons.

After the tour, we traveled on our own in Thailand… but that’s a story for another day.

It was a magnificent trip, but it’s good to be home.