Things I Want You to Know

puzzle-210786_640As much as I love you, my dear family members, here are some things I want you to know. You have possibly not heard them before because……

I am too polite.
I was raised to be accommodating.
It’s my job to make everybody happy.
You weren’t listening anyway.
It’s just easier to do it myself!

However, please memorize the following:

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I am not a GPS system designed to locate your iPhone, glasses, the television remote, or whatever else you may have misplaced in the last 10 minutes.

 

I’m not sure what you can eat for lunch.  I presume food, but what do I know?

Dishes normally do not fill the sink with soapy water, jump in and wash themselves.

trash-313711_640My name is not “somebody,” as in “Somebody needs to take out the garbage.”

It is not my responsibility to identify the takeout you saved in the refrigerator, that now smells like the back end of a mule.  It really isn’t my responsibility to take it out of the refrigerator and get rid of it, either.  I just do it because if I don’t there will soon be a whole pack of mules back there.

I am sure our marriage vows did not include never letting you forget anything important, because if they had, I would have forgotten to agree to it.

I do not know why “my” son or daughter do stupid things, but “our” children are so amazing!

It is really not okay to wipe up the kitchen floor with the dish sponge.

Even though my pocketbook is large, it is not my responsibility to carry things.  All of you are strong enough to carry your own stuff.  (I would have used another word beginning with “s,” but this is a G-rated post.)  If you don’t want to carry it, you don’t really want it!

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I do appreciate you all doing your own laundry, but probably I did not sufficiently explain a few related concepts:

Putting dirty clothes in the washing machine implies that you are going to wash them. It is not your personal clothes hamper. When the dryer has finished, the clothes actually need to be folded and put away because a laundry basket on the bathroom floor is not your bureau either.

I’m sorry to say, but the upset stomach you have as a result of eating a half dozen cookies, a pint of ice cream and half a bag of potato chips is not the same as labor pains, kidney stones or a ruptured disc!book-912723_640

I swear that I fully support a person’s right to privacy, and since you are all over 21 not everything you do is my business.  But when you leave your bills, bank statements, love letters or iPhone open to Facebook on the kitchen counter, all bets are off.

My friends in the blogging community probably have many more ideas to contribute. If so, I would love to hear them.

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 8/31/17

 

 

 

Mindfulness, Day 3, The Voices of Doom

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(I have begun a series of writing on developing mindfulness, at first specifically focused on weight and body image, but now expanding into every area of my life.  These have been posted on my other site, WhyWeightBlog, but I decided to post here today to introduce the series to readers from this site.  If you are interested in following me there as well, please click here for the first post in the series, and thank you for reading.)

It usually happens after I have committed myself once again to taking a new path toward healthy eating and losing weight that the first weeks–hopefully at least a few–go pretty well. There is excitement about a new commitment, hope that this different diet plan or participation in an exercise class will be the ticket, the energy that comes with a renewed resolution to finally exit this revolving door.

But then, inevitably, the voices of doom chime in.  I am fortunate that I am surrounded by mostly positive people who are supportive and encouraging (or at least they are when I am willing to make my decisions public). The voices of doom are internal, but still loud and shrill, so real that it seems impossible others cannot hear them. They are critical, snide and cutting. They remind me of the number of times I have started a diet or joined an exercise class and ask how I have the audacity to think this time will lead to success.

Sometimes the voices reveal themselves not in words, but simply in action or non-action that seems almost unconscious.  A missed class because someone needed a ride or last night’s sleep was really poor and my sciatica is acting up again. Or a somnambulist’s trip to the kitchen for food I don’t even like and for which I am certainly not hungry.

I decided to try something different.  Let the voices speak now, let me line them up and shoot them down.  Let them tell me I’m a failure, will never succeed, have tried this before with no success.  I will no longer pay homage to their vile agenda. I will answer them now.

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – W. Churchill

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”   – Henry Ford

“No one is a failure until that is the only definition of themselves that they are willing to see within.”  – Srividya Srinivasan

 

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©Martha Hurwitz, 8/27/17

Lunching Through Life

I should probably drink a second mug of coffee prior to checking on the daily word prompt.  This morning I was convinced the subject was “lunch.” My morning read includes some of the responses from other bloggers, partly to get my brain cells firing, but also because I’ve discovered some interesting new blogs that way.

LurchImagine my surprise when confronted with this image:

Lately, I’ve been a bit uneasy when wanting to write more personal thoughts that might seem frivolous or insignificant.  It feels unseemly given the state of the world to write anything that isn’t serious and insightful regarding current events, or at the very least inspirational and encouraging.  I’m reminded of my mental and emotional conflict while in the initial grieving period after the deaths of my parents. I would find myself chuckling over a good joke or the antics of my children, or would realize I was mindlessly watching some sitcom and laughing at the inane and worn-out humor. But then my inner Emily Post would scold:  “Your mother died just two weeks ago, and you’re laughing?  Have some respect!!” I believe, however, that one powerful way to counter grief or the overwhelming negativity that characterizes so much of our current public discourse is to rejoice in our humor, our creativity, our shared human foibles and quirks and to give them full expression. So, I’m sticking with “lunch.”

brunch-154850_640When I retired a few years back, some friends told me “Now you can be one of the ‘ladies who lunch’.” Familiar with the song, I briefly thought they were predicting retirement would change me from a hard-working, sober woman into a booze-soaked slacker sliding off her bar stool at high noon.

person-1081159_640Surely they were joking, and what I have become is a better version of myself. I have learned to identify more clearly and speak more gently my own truths. I have been visited by dreams that were waiting patiently while I worked and married, raised children and grew older.

One of my youthful dreams was that I would someday be a female Hemingway (I’m pretty sure there is a bar stool somewhere in that scenario). I would live exuberantly as an ex-pat in Cuba or Greece (or some other not-Yankee American, exotic place), crafting powerfully written and wildly successful books that would take the world by storm.

Clearly that didn’t happen.  I made choices that took me down different roads.  But still, I have finally begun to write.  I don’t think any published author, dead or alive, is in much danger of serious competition from me.  But this is my version of ladies who lunch, and I am satisfied.

 

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 8/21/17

Inspired by Daily Word Prompt: lurch

 

 

 

 

 

Amber Waves

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I so much want that image of America to be true:  spacious skies, majestic mountains, fruitful plains.  I so very much want sister/brotherhood to be crowned by grace and goodness.  I do not want this as a cover-up for the wrongs that have been or are still being done to native peoples, to slaves, the poor, the desperate refugee and to the land itself. I want it because I cannot give up on the dream of liberty and justice for all, of a country in which differences can be celebrated and where everyone’s potential can be realized.

This American Dream.  Those of us who have been fortunate enough to benefit from it, whether by chance of birth, gender, financial status, majority race or religion, need to acknowledge that for many others it has been a nightmare.  We need to understand that our privilege has ridden on the backs of others.  But this acknowledgement cannot be an excuse to wallow in guilt or throw up our hands in defeat.  Rather, it should guide the way to reconciliation, and to a renewed commitment to the ideals that, if made into a reality for all, really do make this country great.

We are struggling so much during this time of division and hostility in our national life to hang on to this dream trying to figure out how to balance and acknowledge so many critical needs.  It is very hard not to become so distraught at the daily antics of inept leaders who do not have the courage to stand up for the good of the country that we forget that it is us, we the people, for whom this nation exists.

We can all do something, and even if it seems too little, or too insignificant, do it anyway. We can make phone calls or send e-mails on a regular basis to our elected officials so they don’t forget they are accountable to us.  We can gather the courage to speak to friends, relatives or co-workers if they express opinions that are prejudiced or make hurtful and damaging comments to others.  We can tell the Pakistani clerk at our local convenience store that she is welcome in the community.  We can listen with an open mind to African-Americans, immigrants, Appalachian coal miners, and struggling single parents when they tell their stories.

Even though it may seem so, we are not on the Titanic after striking the iceberg.  But still we have to choose the role we will play. Will we be the privileged ones pushing others out of the way to jump into the lifeboats? Or the musicians trying to provide comfort even in the face of certain death? In an attempt to save ourselves, will we run past the gate holding back those labeled less important and undeserving, or will we stop and work together to break it down?

 

 

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 8/16/17
Inspired by Daily Word Prompt:  grainy

My Life in Water

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I began immersed in fluid, floating freely, encased in the universe of beginning.  Nothing was required of me there, no consciousness, no choice, no understanding.  Slowly my universe contracted and I grew beyond its borders.  Without understanding, I knew narrowness was coming and I would be thrust into a cold, bright dryness, a perilous hero’s journey to a land I did not know.

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At 10, I rejoiced in water.  I ran into the waves, waded into deep streams, floated in muddy ponds with no fear of leeches or rusty metal. Perhaps I still remembered the sensation of endless waters, the universe of beginnings, the promise of lands yet to be seen.

At 20, I began to underestimate the depth of the streams. I was caught in undertow, slammed into the sand.  I struggled against the current, swimming furiously toward goals that were not mine.

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At 30 I gave up struggling and floated, driftwood in someone else’s sea, waiting and hoping the waves would drop me on the shore.  I prayed for an anchor, a purpose, a sign that I had reached that land I did not know.

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At 40 there were children.  I had crossed into a land I did not know, but not the land I had been searching for.  I learned to swim furiously again, but now I needed to save others and still did not know how to save myself.

At 60 I watched my children drift away in their own ships, and prayed that the seas would be calm and the winds always at their backs.

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At 70 my life is again encased in the fluid universe of beginning.  But now there is consciousness, choice, and understanding.  Slowly my universe is contracting and I am growing beyond its borders.  The stream is shallow, flowing gently and singing promises of peace.  I know that narrowness is coming again and I will end my hero’s journey in a land that I will finally know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Category Am I In, Anyway?

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Anyone who slogs their way through this post will be treated to a road map of how my mind works.  (Some will likely argue that it is more evidence that my mind doesn’t work, but I won’t dignify that argument with a response!)

The word prompt led me to consider how much of myself I have hidden over the years and the many stories and experiences that most people keep close and don’t easily share with others.  Being visually-oriented, the image that came to mind was “iceberg.” Anyone who has watched a PBS special on climate change and the Polar Ice Cap knows that the mammoth part that is visible above the water is minuscule compared to the mass of ice that supports it beneath the surface.

Searching through Pixabay in the iceberg category, I also found pictures of roses and salads.  I’ve often noted the odd picture in some particular category while looking for pictures to illustrate my postings and thought to myself, “Here’s an interesting subject for a post.” Were they simply mislabeled by the person cataloging them, or is there some logical reason they would end up in a category that isn’t obvious on the surface?

A few examples:

Category:  Stagepupa-2191733_640This is a pupa of a black cutworm, a serious agricultural pest that gobbles up almost anything in its path.  I don’t think they have ever had a play or movie written about them or appeared on the Broadway stage. Hold on a minute, maybe it represents a “stage” in the development of a moth.  But seriously, if you wanted a picture of moths, would you look under “stage?”

Category:  Cancelbreadbasket-231677_640

This is a very appealing breadbasket that would look nice on a picnic table, but I can’t for the life of me figure out any connection.  Probably have to chalk this one up to just mis-labeling, unless someone can come up with something more useless and obscure.

Category:  Iceberg

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The salad on the left looks delicious, containing eggs, cukes, tomatoes, basil and chives. Can’t really see any reason for it to be in this category. On the right is a salad containing lettuce.  Eureka, Einstein!!  ICEBERG is a kind of lettuce. Clearly, however, the person labeling this one was not a lettuce aficionado.  All iceberg lettuce is lettuce, but not all lettuce is iceberg.  And that is not iceberg lettuce.

Category:  Laundry

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I will refrain from making any sexist comments trying to make a humorous connection between men and laundry, because the men in my life do their laundry, most adequately and without complaint. This is not a family post, but still, what is this doing in the laundry category?

Category:  Talkchat-2523812_640

I love cats and am willing to personify them to a sickening degree.  But still I don’t believe they can talk.  Looking further at the credits it came to me. The picture is from France.  So I think I will have a chat with mon petit chat.

If you haven’t given up by now, I have to extend a big thank you for reading this far.  You probably are convinced you selected the category “Worthy posts to read today,” but somehow arrived at “Crazy lady blabbing on about something ridiculous!”  You can thank me later for distracting you from all the important Twitter feeds and juicy tidbits coming out of the swamp.  You are free to put on your hip boots now and wade back in!

 

 

 

 

Patient Seeds

beans-72058_640The carob pods seemed so ugly.  Why would anyone ever think to use them for food or bring them to a potluck? Perhaps my prejudice came from all those earnest attempts back in my counter-culture youth to convince me that carob is a perfectly good substitute for chocolate.  Not a chance!  Carob may be useful in its own right, but chocolate it is not and never will be!!

I took one home and put the seeds in a plastic bag.  Did a little research on growing carob from seed.  But there really wasn’t much motivation on my part.  It’s not as if I am going to be able to plant a carob tree outside or have any interest in them as food. So the seeds lay dormant in that bag for many months.

According to my research, the seeds are very hard and tough and need to be “roughed up” in some way–perhaps with a piece of sandpaper or a sharp kitchen knife–and then soaked for a few days. The seeds are so tiny that I could not imagine using a knife or piece of sandpaper on them without taking off some skin or even a finger. But the bag sat on the kitchen counter and I glanced at it with a guilty conscience every day.  Then I had a brainstorm.  Into the food processor the seeds went. Four, five, six pulses of the blade barely made a nick in any seed.  Tough indeed. How do these seeds ever germinate in nature without human assistance?

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Giving up on making any significant dents or cuts in the seeds, I let them soak for several days. Then planted them in a plastic egg carton.

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Carob SeedClearly I didn’t care too much about planting them correctly, because I used some old potting soil that had been left out in the rain and was clumpy and dense.  And yet … with a little water they sprouted within a few days and are growing fast.

I don’t really know why this intrigues me, but it does.  If anyone has grown carob as an indoor plant and has any advice, please share it with me.  You are welcome to any pods that are produced, while I indulge in a glass of chocolate milk!!

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Mature Carob Tree