Looking back and thinking forward

Month: November, 2008

The *Season* begins, November ends.

Visiting Longwood Gardens yesterday with Gilad and Tom, who snapped the shots:


A tree created from flowers


Professional ice skater, swirling and twirling to Ave Maria


All three skaters.


Christmas display – pond of floating cranberries.


"Look," she pointed, "That's me! A date palm is Tamar in Hebrew!"


Dining at the Longwood Gardens Terrace Restaurant. Even the dinner rolls are "grown" in pots. Bon appetit!

And when I took Gilad to the airport today, there was no NBC10 to film our departure.

To sleep, perchance to dream

Lying in my bed listening to the drip, drip, drip of the coffee machine, hearing the sighs and gentle snores of the sleepers in the house, I suddenly realized what I had been dreaming about. It was amazingly vivid. As clear as those shining, shimmering flashes of light that precede a violent migraine. I snuggled further into my bed, pulling the comforter around up by my ears, stared straight into the dark, soon to be light morning, and visualized each stage of the dream – where I was standing, what I was feeling, how I was shouting. I experienced the anger. It was real, huge. In my dream, I had allowed myself to express the rage forcefully, assertively, and with great confidence. 

Just yesterday on my morning walk I had been thinking about how I hold onto the pounds of weight in my body, when I feel angry or violated. It was clear to me that there was a correlation between the two. I simply eat more, and uncontrollably when I am feeling rage or shame. I hold onto the pounds as if to pad my body with a shield, in defense of all those uncomfortable emotions. The discomfort comes directly from feeling forbidden to express them.

Early this morning, I allowed myself to express anger in my dream – without guilt, without shame. And as I lay quietly in my bed processing all of this, a great sense of calm came over me and I pulled in a long breath and exhaled deeply. I understood the reason behind my migraine a few days ago, as I was driving home from work. I rose to pour myself a cup of coffee, greet a happy-to-see-me Ada, and face the new morning light.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: A letter to commenters

Time for the feast …


Well. It has been fun counting down to Thanksgiving Day. While I wrote only five count-down posts, these past five days had me thinking about everything and everyone I am thankful for. It has been a great exercise. First of all it had me waking up every morning wondering what I would be writing about in my blog. It reminded me of the good old days when I began blogging, and had so much to say that I would be writing at least once, sometimes twice a day. Second, I realized that I have much to be thankful for. There were days when I found it difficult to focus on only one thing or person for my gratitude post. I probably could have spent many more days writing about all that I am thankful for. Third, it made me happy, hopeful, and optimistic. Reflecting on gratitude inevitably brings up really good feelings along with, in some cases, the pain of healing and forgiveness. It makes me feel that, all in all, my life is good. And how strange. Just as I am writing this post, I receive my daily email newsletter from Child Care Information Exchange, and apparently there is research that says gratitude is good for your health. I'll give thanks to that!

Finally, as luck would have it, yesterday as I was putting the finishing touches on chicken soup and chocolate cake in preparation for my son's arrival, he called from Boston airport to say that he had been bumped up to an earlier flight – on first class no less! I threw off the T-shirt full of flour and parsley clippings, donned an old sweat suit and flew off top-speed to the airport. As I was sitting there waiting excitedly to meet Gilad, a young fellow approached me. He just happened to be a cameraman from our local NBC10. When he asked if he could film our "reunion," I said, "Sure!"

So, check out this video clip. The advertisement at the beginning takes a few seconds, and if you wait until the last bit you will see me greeting my son at the Philadelphia airport yesterday. What fun! (Oh, and if the advertisement jams or freezes up on you? Just refresh your screen and all will be well …)

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate, and thanks to all those people, silent or commenting, who stopped by these past six days to share in my gratitude. Happy feasting!

Internet interactions

Gratitude abounds for my Cyber connections, on this my fifth day of count down to Thanksgiving. This includes blogging, Facebook, Twitter, or net-surfing in general.

Indeed, ever since I started blogging in January 2005, my life has changed. For starters it is as Frank Paynter once described it in answer to a blog post that I wrote:

This is a playground. Web publishing is the society that contains the playground.

I am able to play – seriously. 

There are bloggers for whom I am most thankful:
Danny, for constant support, and suggesting I start blogging in the first place.
Jean, for always being there from the very beginning.
Frank, for inviting me to Facebook and Twitter, linking to me from time to time, and encouraging me whenever I thought I would give it all up.
Ronni, for early blogging encouragement, and, especially for helping me accept and enjoy aging.

Blogging, is a very real way for me to express myself whether it is emotional, political or just for fun. Even though I do not have a great readership base, nor do many people comment, or link to my posts, I find this venue extremely conducive to exploring my inner life. Indeed, I am able to see myself more clearly, and have been able to achieve self-alteration in a deep and meaningful way. As an early childhood educator, I know that children learn through play. They learn about life, how stuff works, interactions with others, and how they fit into their society. I guess that I, too, am still learning seriously through play.

One of the games bloggers like (or dislike) to play, is a Meme. And when Paynter actually agrees to take one on, and then throws out an open invitation … I am bound to participate. 

So. Here goes:

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random arbitrary things about yourself. 
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. 
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog. 
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Here are 6 arbitrary things about me:
  1. When people poke me on Facebook, I poke right back.
  2. I have stopped collecting Buddhas.
  3. I am still an atheist.
  4. I am described as a "Berk" by life partner because, as he says I am "in all ways Berkish."
  5. I became a feminist when I was 43.
  6. I believe that if you were brought up by an adult, you need therapy.
I would not dare to tag anyone with this! But I will let Frank, the arbitrary tagger know that this entry is up.

Frank – I am thankful for you.

P.S. To all the bloggers, Facebook friends, and twitter followers and followed, out there, who I have not thanked specifically, please know that I am thankful for each and every one of you.

My Scrabble Buddy

Today I give thanks for Shimon. He is my nephew, just two years younger than me always and forever since we were born, son of my half-brother on my father's side. But really he is so much more than that. He is like the brother I never had. When we were children we played with dinky cars and maneuvered them into each others' parking spaces. When we were young, he taught me that by pushing my lips together and flapping them as I blow through them with all my might, I could turn a raspberry sound into the rumble of a truck.

Shimon is one of the first people I communicate with every morning for years. He is the person I laugh with – until my sides split – until my stomach aches – until tears roll down my cheeks. All he has to do is lift his baby finger while drinking a glass of anything, especially at a dinner party with all kinds of guests present – and I start to laugh uncontrollably, embarrassingly, shamelessly. Indeed, I sometimes have to leave the table to gain control of my behavior. He understands me perfectly well, and has the intelligence and emotional insight that matches mine word for word – feeling for feeling. On the few occasions I get to stay over at his house, we both get up very early in the morning and whisper and laugh quietly so as not to wake anyone else up. He and I made a pact years ago that we would never have a falling out (he calls it a "ferebel") – no matter what! We have been there and done that and did not like it – no sirree – do not believe in it. And so, we tell each other our troubles, talk things out, tell each other the truth about how we feel. We know how to apologize and love one another through thick or thin, rain or snow, and, especially, Scrabble wins or Scrabble defeats!

For, you see: Shimon is my Scrabble Buddy! Every day, year after year we play our moves – he in his corner of the country, and me in mine. We are very competitive, and without guilt or shame, set out to beat one another to a proverbial pulp, over and over again. As one game ends, so we immediately start up another one. But we are terribly good sports about the battle of our wits to wits end, and rejoice in each others' winnings directly after we overcome any hideous rage or frustration we might be experiencing about the 7-letter words the other has just made. 

Our greatest delight came when The PixiePit developed SuperScrabble – indeed, we have never looked back. What could be better? A HUGE Scrabble Board with tens upon tens of letters and – get this! – QUADRUPLE-LETTER and QUADRUPLE-WORD scoring ability! A Scrabble lover's dream come true. For, in SuperScrabble, we can make an astronomically huge score, like when we hit two double-word scores with a 7-letter word, or once (or twice?) Shimon has landed his 7-letter words on two triple-worders. Me oh my! Those were humdingers of a score, let me tell you!

And so, today – day four of my count-down to Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Shimon. I dedicate this post to him most especially because he has made it safe for me to love him and be loved in return – no conditions – except that we are who we are, bound forever by our affiliation with my Grandfather and his Great-Grandfather Moise – although, I doubt that we would ever let the other win the next Scrabble game … ever.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Morning person reflections

Four more days … and counting …

This morning I woke up thinking about what I am grateful for. This count down thing is becoming difficult. It is hard for me to isolate one specific thing. It seems that I am thankful for so much. By now, those who read my blog know that I am crazy about Ada Mae. So, I will not bore you with how thankful I am for her presence in my life. And, I am very, very grateful for my son and life partner. I mean, surely that goes without saying? I will ruminate on that and get back to you with a post about them, perhaps. In the meantime, here is what I wrote about them both in the Preface of my new book: "Thank you to my son, Gilad Barkan, for having the courage to tell me how he feels, and to my husband, Tom Jacobson, for having the courage to hear how I feel. I am truly blessed to have these two wonderful men in my life." (Page xiii)

I must say that on this cold and wintry Monday morning, four days before Thanksgiving, and my son coming to visit, I feel particularly grateful for my work. Yes indeed. I am happy to be driving to work today. I give thanks for my job. It is not only that I love teaching students or have to write books and articles, do research, or be paid for thinking great thoughts! Specifically, and most especially, I am thankful for the community of Rider University. Because, from day one, I was welcomed and supported by every single person I have had to interact with – from colleagues in the faculty, to students, the administration, and support staff. No exceptions. A gentler, more collegial, supportive environment I have yet to find! How lucky am I? 

Those of you who have been reading or following my life's journey these past four years will know how difficult it was for me to leave Buffalo, my friends, and, especially, my work. The transition to Philadelphia was, indeed, excruciating on so many levels. At my age, and this time in my life, work life is terribly important. And so, finding my niche has been crucial for my happiness and fulfillment. Indeed, every project or assignment that I have undertaken has been not only encouraged, but supported and applauded. This semester my colleagues have even humored me in agreeing to participate in Kris Kringle, a holiday ritual, which I enjoyed participating in so much, when I was Director of the Campus Child Care Center in Buffalo. What more could a person ask for?

So, today's count down I am thankful for my work-place, and everyone there. If I name names, the list would be endless, so I am grateful for the entire Rider community – for giving me the opportunity and support to do the work I love to do.

Count down … continues

Quote of the day


In my heart, a thousand joys from knowing you.
In my heart, a thousand conversations replayed.
In my heart, a thousand smiles shared.
In my heart, a thousand thank yous for your friendship. [the words in a card I received yesterday from an old friend]

I am thankful for friends:
  • Old friends and new friends.
  • Near friends and faraway friends. 
  • Friends who have died. 
  • Best friends. 
  • Good friends. 
  • True friends. 
  • Close friends. 
  • Real friends. 
  • Family friends. 
  • Friends, who have tried. 
  • Friends, who cried. 
  • Having-fun friends. 
  • Movie friends. 
  • Reading friends. 
  • Work friends. 
  • Friends, who understand. 
  • Friends, who break bread together.  
  • Friends, who challenge me. 
  • Friends, who let me love them. 
  • Friends, who love me back. 
  • Friends giving advice. 
  • Friends, who listen and hear me. 
  • Friends, who share their troubles and lives with me.  
  • Friends, who let me in. 
  • Friends, who keep me at bay. 
  • Friends for a day. 
  • Friends for a night. 
  • Friends for a moment. 
  • Friends waiting together in voting lines.  
  • Internet friends.
  • Blogging friends. 
  • Lurking friends. 
  • Friends, who comment.  
  • Facebook friends. 
  • Twitter buddies. 
  • Friends for life, 
  • Friends passing through …       




Ian Dreyer








Ellen Bloom's exhibit



Count down …

… To Thanksgiving. I found this idea over at Shorty PJ's! I hope Mary will not mind my borrowing her idea. Indeed, I am grateful for Mary B's blog for many years now.

And so, my count down begins … 

Today, I am thankful for my Christmas Cactus plants, which always bloom around Thanksgiving time. They live by the window in my study. 


This one I gave to life partner when I first met him, 14 years ago.


This delicate white cactus I bought at Longwood Gardens three years ago.


Here is a baby blooming. A baby of the cactus I bought for life partner 14 years ago, he shares his pot with a new baby violet.


Finally, here is a small part of my largest cactus plant – reaching for the morning light. I bought this Christmas Cactus during the first months after I arrived in the United States, 20 years ago. This plant fathers and mothers so many other baby plants I have cultivated and developed over the years – some I have given away as gifts. One even accompanied me to my new Chairperson's office this year. This large, sprawling plant spent the summer outdoors, and was rejuvenated and strengthened to produce some healthy, vibrant blossoms this season.

I am grateful to these plants for greeting me with their beauty each and every morning when I wake up and come into my study to start my day.

Run and hide

The way I watch scary movies, whether they are thrillers or horror stories, is by running to the kitchen when a violent or tense piece arises. I jump up and dash out of the room, either to the kitchen or bathroom and from there I either peek through my fingers or call out, "What's happening?" Life partner is very understanding. He calls back, "Don't come back yet!" or, "Thus and such is happening now," and, "You can come back now."

Well, he has been away these past few days – returning only next week – and I have been running from room to room alone trying to escape the television. It starts because I want to watch the news about Obama and his transition team. But over and over again they play the clip about Sarah Palin interviewed while turkeys are being slaughtered in the back ground. I jump up and run from room to room, never having time to turn the television off, trying to flee the sounds and images.  

I run, not so much from the sounds of the slaughter, but from the way Palin stands there oblivious, joyful, stupidly ignoring what is happening to the animals behind her.  I flee from the image of someone standing by while cruelty is taking place. At times, while I am running to another room, tears are falling down my cheeks. Tears of rage and helplessness.

Finally, I just turned off the television for good. Important news will be announced through my "breaking news alerts" that I signed up for via email. And I have more control over my internet surfing.

And yet, I am torn. 

For, I want to bear witness, be educated, and aware of what is going on through public media, so that I might become an informed, responsible citizen of this world.

I guess I will just have to toughen up so that I can keep track of this Sarah Palin phenomenon. For, I fear, she ain't going nowhere! Unbearably, she is here to stay!

Things to say

Quote of the day

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. Paul Boese

Am I back to blogging? I mean, about me? 

It surely seems that way.

There seems like so much to say. Shedding the pounds, shedding the shame, I give space for repressed thoughts to surface. Bob-the-therapist used to tell me about this phenomenon, and I did not quite understand him – until lately. Relief and healing frees up those emotions that were buried in self defense. And that is why sometimes joy and elation are accompanied by tender sadness. I get it!

For me, it is not enough to allow myself to be successful. I am now starting to allow myself to feel successful. Indeed, I am able to acknowledge it within me, and rest – almost – easy. More than that, I am not dependent on others for their acknowledgment of me. It is not a vain or scary feeling, although it does cause me twinges of anxiety, which I am then able to identify quickly and, holding still, face down – cast away.

Just yesterday I noticed that when a colleague spoke well of me, I was able to enjoy the feeling. I smiled within and without, and accepted the compliment without a sarcastic retort, my old knee-jerk resistance – my old response to mistrust. More importantly, I allowed myself to believe her. It felt good. Real. True. I was then able to clearly identify ways that I could use my talents to make a worthwhile contribution to a situation. Old fears of not being worthwhile or deserving did not cloud or blur the path I might choose to take. It felt solid.

Bit by bit, moment by moment, day by day, I am learning to trust a new reality. With each regression, I am able to climb out of my self-made abyss, which is becoming ever more shallow, and return to the progression – sometimes, even, a step or too ahead or where I left off.

There is no turning back.