Silent No More

With each passing day there is seemingly a new crisis that we, as Americans, are being subjected to by our current federal administration. Correspondingly, with each new crisis, social media becomes a hotbed of posts and tweets about that situation.

The other day I saw a post on Facebook exclaiming the writer’s frustration with what he sees as everyone responding to the “crisis du jour” and that we are just jumping on the bandwagon until the next issue arises, forgetting about the prior one(s). He believes we should just focus on our little community and stop worrying about everything going on outside of our community.

Well, I disagree.

I spent years keeping my head down and keeping my mouth shut. I thought it was important not to rock the boat. Penny Pritzker, Former Secretary of Commerce, warned against “the tribe of folded arms,” and said that “[S]ilence is dangerous, because it spreads the notion that the problems of your neighbor are not your problems.”

Make no mistake about it – what is happening in our country are our problems. Our community is part of a much larger community. Our problems don’t stop at the county line. They encompass our entire country. They extend to the entire Earth.

So those days of being part of “the tribe of folded arms” and mute voice are over.

I have wholeheartedly jumped on the social activism bandwagon and let the chips fall where they may. I truly believe that the very soul of our democracy is at stake. You may not see me posting as much about past crises inflicted upon us by the current administration, but you don’t see what I’m doing behind the scenes. For example, just because you don’t see me posting on Facebook about gun control these days, does not mean, not for a minute, that I’m not involved in the gun reform movement. You don’t know who I’m writing letters to, what companies I’m boycotting, what organizations and causes I’m assisting and/or donating money to, or what organizations I have joined. If you are not attending vigils and marches, you don’t know that I was there, with other likeminded people.

It has been said that silence is complicity. I leave you with quotes from men and women far wiser than I on this very subject. Don’t be silent.

  • The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. ~Albert Einstein
  • All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. ~Thomas Jefferson
  • If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. ~Desmond Tutu
  • Your silence is consent. ~Plato
  • I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever humans endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented. ~Elie Wiesel
  • There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest it. ~Elie Wiesel
  • One does not have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and absence of understanding are sufficient. ~Charles M. Blow
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~Martin Luther King Jr.
  • In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. ~Martin Luther King Jr.
  • If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it. ~Zora Neale Hurston
  • I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody. ~Lily Tomlin
  • As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, and one for helping others. ~Audrey Hepburn
  • The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings. ~Albert Schweitzer
  • First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out for I was not a socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out for I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out for I was not a not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me. ~Martin Niemöller
  • When ignorance and bigotry is allied with power, it’s a dangerous force in our country. Your silence and your amnesia is complicity. ~Cory Booker
  • Have you ever wondered what you would do during the civil rights movement? Stop wondering. It isthe civil rights movement. What are you doing? ~Chris Savage

And because I couldn’t stop looking for more quotes on this:

  • We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr
  • To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
  • Talmudic Dictum “Shtika Kehoda” that is, “Silence is complicity.”
  • We know that silence equals consent when atrocities are committed against innocent men, women and children. We know that indifference equals complicity when bigotry, hatred and intolerance are allowed to take root. And we know that education and hope are the most effective ways to combat ignorance and despair. ~ Gabrielle Giffords

 

 

 

 

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Putting Dad to Rest

It took two years but Dad’s, and a portion of Phyll’s, ashes are finally floating free together.

For almost two years, my dad’s ashes were sitting in a tote bag in a corner of my bedroom. When the funeral home gave me the tote with his ashes, I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling them how absurd it was to give customers a cloth grocery-type bag with their company imprint. Like I would ever re-use that bag to schlep groceries. But I refrained from saying it. I never stopped thinking it.

We only had a portion of my stepmom’s ashes to sprinkle; the rest of hers were sent to my stepbrothers. I have no idea what they did with them. I know that despite not having all of her ashes to mingle with Dad’s, they are 100% together in spirit. They were lovebirds to the very end of her life and such soulmates, I can’t imagine that what came to 8 pounds of ashes is the sum total of their love and affection, and respect, for each other. Those were the embodiment of their relationship, and I’m sure followed them into the spirit realm.

It was a windy day out on the water so we sprinkled Dad’s cat, Pebbles, as a test. Our sprinkling of ashes did not look like some of those others on YouTube and we were spared having ashes all over us. The process of actually putting all the ashes in the water was a short few minutes.

Yesterday was Dad’s birthday. The 2nd anniversary of his death is the 20th. So what was most important, while the seven of us were on the boat, was that we shared some lovely stories of both Dad and Phyll. It really warmed my heart to know that they were, and still are, so important to so many people. It makes the loss so much more bearable to know that they were loved. It is so moving knowing that my dad, who meant so very much to me, meant so very much to the 6 others that were on that boat, and that both Dad and Phyll are not forgotten.

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I know they are resting in peace.

Exhausted

I haven’t posted a blog post since the 1st of January. I’ve had lots to say but life has been such a jumble that I haven’t had time to say it.

I know you know what I’m talking about.When you working 10 plus hour days (self-employed – no work no money) and you’re trying to get to the gym and you’re doing laundry and you’re cleaning and you’re trying to find time for family and friends and you’re taking care of animals. I honestly don’t know how friends with children do it.

I come home at the end of the day. I make something to eat. I turn on the television and the next thing you know it’s 2:00 in the morning.

I have the act of passing out from exhaustion down to a science.

I went on vacation for 8 days. It was amazing. I came back and it had taken a month to catch up.

Guess what? I need a vacation!

Someone please please tell this exhausted woman how to slow down this merry-go-round.

New Year’s Resolutions

I typically do not like making New Year’s resolutions. At least not as most people make them. I don’t want to make some resolution and then break it. I want my resolutions to be more than pie-in-the-sky aspirations. So I like to set goals which I can work toward. Concrete targets. Workable goals. Attainable goals.

It helps that my birthday is January 3 because my goals coincide with me traveling around the globe another year since my birth too.

Last year, with the help of a friend (thanks Chelsea!), I set a new financial goal for my office, and got down to making that goal a reality. It is still in process but I’m definitely on the right trajectory. That this goal will be multi-year does not make it less valuable. It is a hill worth climbing.

Instead of saying “I want to lose weight”, I set a goal to better health each year and my continued improvement of my health. As I get older, I know that this is a crucial aim to achieve. It is always a journey though.

For example, I recently started eating rice, corn, and white potatoes again — after 3 years of none. But I don’t want to go crazy. They aren’t the best of foods for me to eat, especially since I love FRIED potatoes and can eat them to sickness. So I set my goal so that for the most part, I would not make them at home and only eat them out of the house. I am not uber-strict about it but I still haven’t bought rice or corn in years. Eating these items while dining out (or takeout at home) keeps me from over-indulging.

I always have a goal to eat healthier foods. My daily goal is to drink enough water. That hasn’t changed in years. Neither has my goal to eat lots of veggies. My newest goal is to eat more fish and lamb and less beef. I will accomplish this by eating beef most of the time while dining out and only eat poultry, fish, lamb, and some pork in the house.

It helps my food goals that  I eat 2/3 of my meals at home and that I really like to cook. It also helps that I have two friends that are professional chefs. One cooks me great, healthy meals to take home periodically (the cost is less than eating out). The other is someone that I can bounce ideas off of for home-cooking and has some of the same food challenges.

I set a new goal to do more yoga and/or tai chi in the coming year. I’ve said it before but I have made a serious setting of intention this year. My thought process is that I want something that is good for my mind and spirit not just my body. I am that person that feels great after going to the gym but getting me there is hell. But with yoga, I’m not looking for power yoga or exercise disguised as yoga. I want yoga that has lovely, slow movements and lots of breath and mindful meditation. It may very well mean a beginner’s class. I’m okay with that.

I have set a goal for reading books every year for as many years as I can remember. I am forgiving of myself and change it as necessary. The past few years I use Goodreads to assist by following their annual reading challenge. The reading challenge helps me keep track of books I’ve read (I do not make any money from Goodreads; I just like the program). Last year I read 27 books (plus 1 book I read 1/2 of and just couldn’t bring myself to finish). But I decided to set my goal at 12 books for 2018 because I’d rather readjust upward than “fail”. My goal since I was 10 years old has been to read at least one book a month. As I get toward the goal of 12 books, I will reevaluate and likely increase the number of books to read by year’s end. I love to read so this is not a hardship but sometimes work gets in the way of my reading habit.

Some other ideas I have for goals this year are to start playing guitar again (we’ll see how that goes) and to take my love of photography more seriously (I bought myself a camera for the holidays so that’s a start!).

One of the most important goals I have made a commitment to is to friends and family. Life is too short to spend on people that will suck your time and affection from you. After someone I cared for and trusted showed me that I was wasting my time and energy where it wasn’t appreciated, I made an almost immediate goal half-way through 2017 to connect and reconnect with those people that truly care about me and that I care about. I am continuing this vital goal this year with gusto. Tea, coffee, drinks, lunches, dinners, movies, emails, letters, phone calls. Do I fall down? Yes. But I keep trying.

In Hebrew, the number 18 corresponds to the word “chai” which means “to life”. So here’s to 2018 — to life!

20 chai

Alabama — By the Numbers

I haven’t written in a while because I’ve got something up my sleeve. A project. More to come in the next few months.

But I thought that after yesterday’s nail-biter of an election in Alabama, I would give my 2¢.

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My Bachelor’s is in Political Science and I have a law degree, so I find all of the politics very interesting, even without all of the emotions that get everybody (myself included) knotted up. The political scientist in me is very interested in the numbers. I am not going to discuss how over 600,000 people could vote for a man that is likely a pedophile instead of the “liberal” (okay, I guess I just did, although discussing it further gives me heartburn and makes me immensely sad).

Here’s what I saw with the numbers. Doug Jones won the election by 20,000 votes. But what was most interesting were the 22,000 votes by mostly Republicans that wrote-in a candidate’s name instead of voting for Moore or Jones.

What this tells me is that while Jones, the Democrat, won this election, a solid Republican candidate has a very good chance of winning during the next election because it is likely those 22,000 write-ins will go back “to the fold”.

It seems to me that Jones, who I am sure will run during the next regular election, will have to do a stellar job  in office (although it may not be enough) and everyone that voted for Jones this time will have to make a concerted effort to vote in that next election as well. Plus an additional 25,000+ will have to step up and vote for Jones or he will be sent home.

Standing Silent is Not an Option

As a Jew of Eastern European decent, and complexion-wise, arguably one of the whitest people I know, I can “pass” as a white Christian Anglo every single day. Non-Jews assume my last name is German. If they ask, “Is your name German,” I have always answered “no, Hungarian”.

I was taught not to make waves. Ssshhh. Don’t draw attention to yourself.

So, it is not surprising that I have heard acquaintances, colleagues, and clients say horrible anti-Semitic statements in my presence. Some, maybe most, have no idea that I’m Jewish. Some do. What I’ve learned is that some people will say terribly bigoted and racist things and they don’t care that what they are saying is not acceptable.

It’s difficult to know what to say in response, or even when is it appropriate to respond to an anti-Semitic comment.

On two occasions, a group of women I considered friends made anti-Semitic comments in conversation in my presence. One comment was in reference to a son’s girlfriend as a “JAP” or “Jewish American Princess”. A JAP is a pejorative meaning that a girl or woman is pampered and selfish and only likes the finer things. In this instance, the girlfriend wasn’t Jewish, but the mother said that her son’s girlfriend acted like a JAP. Not too long after, one of the women was explaining how she “jewed down” a car salesman to get a better deal.

So I privately told one of the women involved that as a friend, the comments, especially the comment “I jewed him down,” were hurtful to me. She told others what I said. One of the women told me “we don’t even think of you as being Jewish”. I have no fucking idea what that even means. I can only surmise that they meant it as a compliment, which of course, is an insult. Another of the women told me that people just talk that way and that I needed to grow a thicker skin. I don’t talk to those people anymore.  I don’t think they notice my absence or care that I bowed out.

I’ve realized that I cannot stay silent in the face of bigotry and racism. I grew up in a mixed race/religion neighborhood in NYC. It was a wonderful childhood in the 1960s and 1970s. I thought, apparently wrongly, we were beyond this. I thought we were better than this.

Since this last election cycle, there have been so many incidents of anti-Semitism, and other bigotry, and racism, and it makes me sick to my stomach. I’ve started using my social media presence to call out certain of these incidences because I believe that I have to point it out.

I was told that being so outspoken about my politics was hurting my business (it hasn’t. I’ve been busier than ever). When I expressed that all these incidents made me fearful, I was told I have nothing worry about. I have had difficult expressing why I am so fearful. I’ve taken the admonition to not be so vocal as a call to action with regard to anti-Semitism.

We cannot act like this doesn’t happen with “love and light” blinders. Sometimes “turn the other cheek” just doesn’t work because these bigoted, anti-Semitic, and racist people think that your silence means you agree with them.

Well I don’t agree with them and I’m no longer going to stand silent. I don’t see this as negative because sometimes you have to walk in the darkness to appreciate the light.

And anyone that doesn’t like it can kiss my tuchas.

 

I Quit Blogging Before It Was Cool to Blog– I’m Baaack!

 

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I was a blogger before it was cool. I was blogging regularly in 2003. I blogged about music and my marriage and my family and how I was feeling and, and, and. Back then, it was considered really strange. I met some good people and I still “talk” online to some of them because we’ve kept in touch all these years. That was a great side effect of blogging. Of course, I loved flexing my writing muscle.

But then I quit.

I archived all of my blog posts and shut down my site.

By 2007, I hadn’t blogged in over a year and a half and I was still way ahead of the blogging curve. In 2007, I had to actually add the words “blog,” “blogging,” and “blogged” to the Word dictionary because Word didn’t yet recognize the concept of BLOG.

Why did I stop? I stopped blogging because I really got tired of total strangers reading my words and feeling like they had a right to comment on what I thought. Some of the people were downright rude and obnoxious. I also didn’t like the idea that anyone could read it and draw conclusions that I didn’t like. My family also was chiming in and questioning why I needed to blog. Right up until my dad’s death in 2016, he questioned the need to talk about anything publicly, in a blog or on social media. He thought it was really weird and perhaps even unseemly.

I wasn’t ready to be out there.

Nonetheless, I started blogging again in 2015 although due to work and caregiving, I was (and still am) rather neglectful of the blog. I was still worried about what people thought though. I thought that in a city with the population of Beijing it might not matter but I live in Winchester, Virginia, hotbed of gossip. I worried. Blogging was definitely beyond the pale if I chose to blog the way I do. I’m not doing a cookbook blog, or teaching people to be healthier. I had people tell me that even my social media posts might be negatively affecting my business and that perhaps I should be more circumspect. Airing laundry in Winchester, even if it’s clean, is apparently not a good idea.

Well, first, I started having different people coming to me for legal advice. These were people that did not know I was of a similar mind before. They assumed I was a stodgy conservative thinker. Surprise, surprise, surprise! Business has been better than ever. So much for hurting my business.

Second, I allowed a few chosen people to read my “private” blog posts. These are posts that are hidden. They didn’t run and hide or cringe. They asked why I wasn’t posting them and when could they read more.

Third, I went to a writers’ workshop and came away with the idea that I cannot keep worrying about what everyone else thinks. Not family. Not friends. Certainly not exes. As long as I was speaking my truth, I was okay.

I’m ready to be out there.

It is a risk but I am willing to take it. Hang on folks and damn the torpedoes!