A Season of Joy


My family is Jewish and when I was young, we played with the dreidel , received small gifts each of the eight nights as well as Chanukah gelt (Yiddish term for money) in the form of gold foiled chocolates.  We also lit the candles on the menorah  each night. as a remembrance of the rededication of the Holy Temple when the Maccabean Jews reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem in a revolt against the  Syrian-Greeks in the second century b.c  The miracle of the Jewish holiday, Chanukah, was that only one oil lamp with enough oil for one day was found when cleaning the Temple. The lamp stayed lit for 8 days and we honor this miracle each year by lighting the menorah at 8 days at sunset with the number of candles reminding us of the 8 day miracle.

As a child, my family lived in a community where the majority of friends and neighbors were Christian, we also hung a sock on the mantel so Chanukah Charlie would visit us on Christmas eve.  No tree, though – that was too much.  As an adult, I never felt terribly connected to the holidays – though the vacation days were always a welcome gift.

Now, I need a balance of time during the interlude of holiday break.  Most years, we celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with my husband’s family.  Circumstances and low energy kept us from spending the long turkey weekend with my family this year.  But it was wonderful having just my husband and I together with our own family dinner.

We'll be sitting on the porch this week watching the grass grow - if the sun comes out.
We’ll be sitting on the porch this week watching the grass grow – if the sun comes out.

This weekend I planned to join my husband and travel to his mom’s where the family of all ages will celebrate. For reasons that I won’t  mentioned, I am now staying home and enjoying my dogs and my house.  My mom and brother are flying in next week so I will finally spend some quality time with them.

Hooch waits for that cricket to jump
Hooch waits for that cricket to jump

I was single until 50 and always enjoyed my solitude.  This weekend, I am going to make the very best of ‘me’ time.  I’m going to stay up late, sleep in, cook, and piddle around the house. The anger that festered the last couple of days subsided and I’m mindful of how blessed I am to have loved ones supporting and respecting my needs.

Maybe I’ll have a miracle of my own and find my menorah that seems to have disappeared after one too many moves.

There will be lots of this at our house this weekend!
There will be lots of this at our house this weekend!

Regardless of faith, interest, and circumstances – whether surrounded by loved ones or relaxing alone – appreciate yourself, take time to reflect on all the wonders of life.

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The Pain of Holidays


My grown up niece may be a vegan now but here is proof that she once ate chicken! I remember feeling cruddy all those years ago but am forever grateful for this memorable day.

For many who are lonely, chronically ill or in constant pain, summer holidays are  especially difficult.  Watching parades seems impossible as standing for long periods is painful.   Invitations to picnics are declined because of special diets and the energy to socialize is overwhelming. There is relief that Memorial Day weekend is over and life can return to its normal painful routine.  Until July 4th, Labor Day Weekend, and other summer activities arrive.

Watching a parade does not have to be a pain.

Suffering from chronic illness and pain does not mean forgoing activities that you want to attend.  Planning and communicating with friends and family can make the summer and all its festivities fun. Let this summer be one of joy.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. If you want to attend neighborhood events, find a place ahead of time where you think you’ll feel comfortable.  Arrive early and bring a comfortable chair, water, and food that you can eat.
  2. When invited to a party, inform the host ahead of time if you have food limitations and not to take offense when you bring your own food.  Many hosts will accommodate you with some dishes that you can eat.
  3. Want to take a vacation but feel too limited by your illness? Sometimes it’s easier traveling alone so you don’t worry about pleasing others but not everyone is comfortable traveling solo.  If you don’t like the idea of traveling alone, consider taking a short trip with a close friend or loved one.  Explain your limitations ahead of time and urge your travel partners that exploring without you is fine if you need to rest back at the hotel.  Be sure you have enough medication for when unplanned delays occur.
  4. Enjoy the fresh air when possible.  Depending on where you live, find the best time of day when you are comfortable outdoors and deeply inhale the fresh air.  Face the morning sun and allow the vitamin D to absorb into your face.  Marvel at the sunset, a distant thunderstorm, the stars in the sky.  Even a few minutes outside can do wonders for your frame of mind.
  5. Be good to yourself this summer by resting and finding small pleasures.  A hammock under a shade tree, lounging in a screened in porch, or sitting on the fire escape in the city can do wonders for you even on those days when you feel especially lousy.
Relaxing in my hammock with pretty kitty. My hammock is a favorite resting spot.

If none of these ideas sound possible to you, I want to help you find ways that work for you to enjoy this summer.  Contact me and we can work together to make the coming months (and years) more joyful.  

I offer a free, no commitment exploration session.

A Sense of Peace


As I sit at my mother-in-law’s this Christmas morning, I am struck by the quiet serenity washing over me. My husband naps, Granny is fussing in the kitchen, some family is at church, and four dogs sleep in the sofas and chairs around the living room.

Although Jewish, I have always enjoyed the pace of Christmas. For me, Thanksgiving is hectic but worth the chaos of planning, cooking and eating. But Christmas is calming for me. As a kid, we celebrated the 8 days of Chanukah but also had Christmas stockings over the fire place, just in case Santa decided to leave a little something for the Jewish kids on his list. We never had a tree which my parents considered going too far. These days, my family forgoes gifts all together or gives a donation as a gift in our honor.

As I have the time to reflect on the past year and all I need to accomplish in the coming year, I am struck by the fact that none of it matters right now. The tranquility will be ending soon when everyone returns from church, youngsters run around gleefully, and dogs are once again ready to join in the commotion. But now, at this very moment – despite some annoying health problems – I feel so full of love and joy that I am truly in awe and feel blessed where my road has taken me thus far.

I have been waiting for the right posting to add my favorite poem by Robert Frost and I think now is the time:

The Road Not Taken

 Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

I hope everyone can take a few minutes today (or whatever day you read this) to just sit, reflect, and appreciate life, family, and the road that you have taken.

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Thanksgiving Suggestions And More for the Rest of the Holiday Season


This post was published last year but many found it helpful so I decided to re-post it again:

Holidays can be a real challenge  for some people.  It can be emotional, expensive, and stressful.

Shopping is the biggest pain (unless you actually like to go malls, get aggravated finding parking, and trying to maintain good humor while fighting crowds and aggravated store clerks).

Nothing makes me angrier, though, than lazy arrogance! When I see a car (especially an expensive one) sitting in a disabled parking space with no handicap tag, sticker, license or any other notification that the vehicle is being used by an individual with special needs.

Another issue that gets my blood boiling is hearing about someone who parks legally AND legitimately in a handicapped spot and is scolded and harassed by ignorant fools who assume that a person getting into or out of a car appears perfectly healthy and doesn’t bother to check for a handicap tag or sticker.  NEWS FLASH IGNORAMUSES:  Special needs are not always visible but handicap tags are!  My advice to anyone legally parking in a handicapped zone during this stressfully joyous time of year (or any time) and is rudely and wrongly accused, just smile, point to your tag, and wish them a very happy holiday.

Ok, enough ranting.  Onward to the rest of my holiday tips.

If you happen to have a disability, there are even more considerations that families and hosts need to consider so the holiday get togethers and parties can be joyous for everyone.  Don’t be shy about educating others.  It will more than likely minimize embarrassment. But try not to be too demanding either.

If  a guest (or family member) has a gastric disorder, such as celiac, crohn’s, or diverticulitis requiring special diets, the guest should let the cooks know of these limitations.  It doesn’t mean that the whole meal revolves around one person but consider making some dishes that everyone can enjoy.

When setting the table, think about where a wheel chair bound will sit and can easily navigate.

For hosts of those who suffer from fibromyalgia, CFIDS, or another disability who tires easily, don’t be offended if they need to lay down for a bit, leave early, or decide to cancel at the last minute.

For hosts who have guests with therapy pets, be respectful of their needs.  Typically dogs, service animals work to support people with special needs.  When they are in working mode, they are not play pets (but ask their boss if it’s okay to pet them).

(And don’t spoil any begging pooches with those tasty leftovers.  An overweight dog is not a happy dog plus many of your favorite foods can be poison for your pup)

If you are traveling, be sure to have plenty of medication.  I always have at least two days more worth of meds just in case flights are cancelled or highway traffic is more than you can handle and you spend an extra night in a motel.

These are just a few suggestions.  If you have additional ideas or tips, add them in a comment.

I hope  everyone has a joyous holiday regardless of how you celebrate.

The Joy and Innocence of the Holidays
My beautiful great niece ready to celebrate and eat at her first family Christmas at Granny’s.

Thanksgiving Tips for Hosts and People with Disabilities


Holidays can be a real challenge  for some people. If you happen to have a disability there are even more considerations that families and hosts need to consider so the holiday can be joyous for everyone.

If  a guest (or family member) has a gastric disorder, such as celiac, crohn’s, or diverticulitis that require special diets, the guest should let the cooks know of these limitations.  It doesn’t mean that the whole meal revolves around one person but consider that some courses are made that everyone can enjoy.

When setting the table, think about where a wheel chair bound will sit and can easily navigate.

For those who suffer from fibromyalgia, CFIDS, or another disability who tires easily, don’t be offended if they need to lay down for a bit, leave early, or decide to cancel at the last minute.  On the other hand, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, so I will push myself if I feel lousy to cook, travel, and accept the fact that I may well have a flare up when the weekend is over.  For me, it is worth it because it is a holiday that brings me great joy.

If you are traveling, be sure to have plenty of medication.  I always have at least two days more worth of meds just in case flights are cancelled or highway traffic is more than you can handle and you spend an extra night in a motel.

These are just a couple of suggestions for everyone to have a wonderful holiday weekend.  If you have additional ideas or tips, add them in a comment.

I wish everyone a relaxing and happy Thanksgiving weekend!