You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category.

Part I: Speech Therapy for Someone Who Can Speak Quite Clearly?

35388What do train whistles, chocolate pudding, a nose flute, mango nectar, mini marshmallows, peanut butter, and tongue depressors have in common? At times all of these items and a laundry list of others have been required for Zoe’s speech therapy homework. Next week she will wrap up four months of weekly sessions to correct tongue thrust, a problem we didn’t even realize she had until we started the rounds of visiting prospective orthodontists last winter. When one of them suggested speech therapy for tongue thrust, I was skeptical until I talked with a speech therapist who said that kids with tongue thrust often had to have braces twice because their thrusting tongue pushed their teeth right back out where they were to begin with. And I know this to be true because it happened to me. I had braces in middle school and again in college, but I never knew that tongue thrust was something I could correct. So in an effort to save Zoe the aggravation of extended orthodontia and save us money in the long run, we have invested money and time in speech therapy now. (Zoe just completed her course of treatment with Andi Fisher at Chain Bridge Speech and Language Therapy, a practice owned and operated by our good friend Kristin Keller Daus.)

And despite the fun foods and accessories involved, it is not always at the top of a 10-year-old’s list of activities to do speech therapy homework, especially after school homework, martial arts, soccer practice, chores, or whatever else is going on.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Zoe is no stranger to therapeutic homework. For a while she did eye exercises every night to address convergence insufficiency. Way back when she was in preschool and struggling to overcome a bladder disorder, she had pelvic therapy and other exercises to help her strengthen her pelvic floor muscles. None of this has been easy. But who said it would be, right?

Part II: Causing a Nosebleed, Lying Down on the Rug, and Ignoring Personal Space

Luckily for Zeke, his occupational therapy sessions start off with time to bounce on a big trampoline, climb onto swinging platforms hanging from the ceiling, and jump from a fluffy cloud suspended from ropes into a ball pit. He loves going to Miss Mary’s for OT. (Miss Mary being Mary Craver, who practices occupational therapy in Cabin John, Maryland.)

I never expected he would need occupational therapy. He’s always been strong, athletic, coordinated, and capable of sustained attention playing with Legos and doing puzzles. I never imagined anything was off kilter.

Then last spring, his preschool teacher mentioned on three different occasions that Zeke had thrown something on the playground that hit another kid in the face, including one occasion where the other kid got a nosebleed (I apologized later to his mom and she was gracious and not the least bit concerned, thankfully). In every case, he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. He’s not malicious (although he does occasionally punch his sister, I admit), but just had no control over his body. He would also bump into his classmates a lot in line, and whack them with his jacket while swinging it around. Zeke was also frequently causing frustration in the classroom by lying down when it was time to go outside, or refusing to get his coat on to head to the playground.

I understood his teacher’s concerns and didn’t want Zeke’s behavior to be disruptive. I also figured that those behaviors were probably typical for a three-year-old or something he would outgrow. Meanwhile, I happened to interview occupational therapist Mary Craver (who we know now as Miss Mary) for a client project. My client had been asking about how Zeke was doing, and when I shared some of these issues, she asked if I wanted to complete a sensory profile for Zeke–basically an assessment from the parents’ point of view of how a child seeks or responds to different kinds of sensory stimulation. We did this and Mary agreed to look at it. I talked with her and she suggested Zeke’s teachers fill out a profile of their observations of his behaviors at school, which they thoughtfully did. I was surprised to read some of their notes about how much effort it sometimes took to get Zeke to do what he was supposed to do in class. Especially because I’d been in his class, many times, and I never felt like he was any more or less challenging than any other kid in the class. They were three years old, after all.

Mary decided it would be best for her to observe Zeke at school to get a complete picture of what was going on. As her time with the class was coming to an end, the kids were preparing to go outside. Zeke was refusing. Apparently his classmates were lined up in the hall on their way to the playground, and he was lying down on the rug, unwilling to get his coat on despite the co-opers cajoling. Although she doesn’t typically intervene during an observation, Mary decided to help out the desperate co-oper. “Zeke!” she said. “You have one minute to get your coat on!” “OK!” he said, and jumped up and got his coat on and was ready to go outside in about 10 seconds. It turns out that Zeke just needed some parameters. She later explained to me that “get your coat on” was surprisingly too abstract for him, as if he had until the end of time to get his coat on. But I have since learned that he responds really well to time limits. On her advice, we’ve bought a time timer, just like the one she uses in her office, for our house. It’s hugely helpful in letting Zeke feel like he is in control of how he spends his time and he can clearly see how long he has to do an activity.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Part III: Why Would My Strong and Active Boy Who Can Do Puzzles and Play Legos for Hours Need Occupational Therapy?

After she reviewed the parent and teacher sensory profiles, the classroom observation, and an assessment in her office, Mary gave us a complete evaluation of Zeke’s issues. To be honest, this was a little overwhelming. Although I have several good friends whose children had done occupational therapy before and I knew they were all wonderful, fabulous, successful kids, my first thought was “what is wrong with my child?” On one level I realize this didn’t make sense. Nothing was wrong with Zeke. Yet, clearly according to this evaluation, there were areas where he struggled. He had trouble grasping and manipulating objects, balancing, and with hand-eye coordination. Truthfully I don’t fully understand the clinical vocabulary that describes Zeke’s diagnosis, but the therapist showed me exactly what he had trouble doing and I got it. I have slowly come to understand since then that the areas where he had deficits were where we saw him getting frequently frustrated at school and at home. I just didn’t realize at the time there was anything we could have done about it.

Many people (including me, to be honest) have wondered whether the behaviors Zeke is working on in OT are just typical for his age, or if he would simply outgrow them. The answer is maybe, but…I had those questions myself when we started this process and our amazing preschool director Susan Parker explained it this way–if there are things he’s struggling with that OT could help him master, that will reduce his frustration with daily activities, with school, and build his confidence, why not give him those tools? Why not, indeed?

Some of the tangible tools that Mary has given Zeke so far include a size of the problem worksheet/scale to help him assess whether something that bothers him is a small problem that he can handle, a larger problem that needs adult intervention, or a huge problem that is really serious, and a couple levels in between. There’s a little chart to help kids articulate their feelings about the size of their problem.1801284

She also helped him create a speedometer for his engine–is it running low, high, or just right? And if it’s running low or high, how can he modulate it? She also gave him a (paper) remote control that he can use to control his own brain and body (and no one else’s). Using the remote he can pause to think about something, rewind if he made a mistake or hurt someone and try again to do better, fast forward to think about possible consequences of his actions before he takes them.

Mary also showed Zeke how to correctly hold a writing or drawing utensil, making those activities much more comfortable to him. I knew he wasn’t holding crayons properly, but I wasn’t sure how to correct him in a constructive way. She’s had him using special small scissors to make it easier for him to learn the proper way to hold and use scissors.

Mary helped me realize that Zeke (and most kids) needs clear parameters when he’s being asked to do something. My repeated requests for him to get his shoes on or clean up his toys might be ignored, but if I say, “Zeke, you have one minute to get your shoes on,” he (usually) jumps on it immediately. He loves for me to count to 10 (or 20 or more) when he’s trying to do a task. Part of me fervently wishes I could just make a request and he would do it, but if counting works for now, I will surely count.

Zeke also loves the movement breaks he gets during occupational therapy, which also enable him to work on gross motor skills. These are just a few of the cool pieces of equipment in Miss Mary’s office.5442582_orig

I’ve learned from Mary that OT is a lifespan activity, addressing any needs that anyone–from infant to senior–has to better be able to function in the world. OT can address issues such as eating, holding a writing utensil, self-regulation and self-control, emotional stability, social skills, fine and gross motor skills, and so much more. Zeke’s just been doing this for a couple months so I’m still learning every week what it means for him or others.

Part IV: Speech Therapy for Someone Who Actually CANNOT Speak Clearly

Meanwhile, we’ve known for a while that Zeke has some articulation issues when he speaks. He says T for K sounds, and frequently cannot correctly pronounce words containing R, L, or TH. I asked his preschool teacher when he was two about this and she showed me a graphic that illustrates when boys are supposed to have mastered certain sounds. She assured me that he would get it and not to spend money on speech therapy. Yet.

In his three-year-old class I told the teachers my concerns about his speech and they were listening for it. They noted that sometimes they couldn’t understand him, but mostly they could, and his articulation issues didn’t seem to interfere with his learning or social interaction, and he would likely outgrow them.

I had trouble understanding him sometimes as well, although my husband and our daughter and I could probably decipher his language best out of anyone. But still, his vocabulary and expressiveness were so developed that the articulation didn’t seem to get in the way. Much.

Then, when Mary Craver evaluated Zeke for occupational therapy, she said his speech was something to think about. Understanding that it would be just a wee bit overwhelming for Zeke (and our calendar and wallet) to take Zeke to OT and speech simultaneously, she encouraged us to begin the process of getting Zeke evaluated through Child Find for speech therapy services that would be provided at no cost to us by Arlington County. This was welcome news.

We started this process in May. I called the Child Find office to find out how to apply and received a packet in the mail. I completed the application and had to ask one of Zeke’s wonderful teachers to fill out yet another form about him, which she graciously did. I found Zeke’s birth certificate and medical records and a mortgage statement (to prove we live in Arlington) and headed over to the Child Find office to submit the application. Turns out the mortgage statement didn’t work, and I needed the deed to our house. Although we have that in a file cabinet, I had no idea which pages were the right ones, so I went to the Arlington County Courthouse and paid $9 for them to copy the 16 pages needed to prove we live here, and took them back to Child Find. Once I was back there, the fantastic administrative assistant Elizabeth pointed out that the hearing test box on Zeke’s physical form was checked but there was no indication of whether he had passed or failed the screening. Hearing tests are required for speech therapy evaluations. So I took Zeke to the pediatrician the next day to get a hearing test, which it turned out he hadn’t had at all during his last check-up but the nurse had accidentally checked the box that he had. At the pediatrician’s office a young nurse did a hearing test which I observed and wondered if she was doing it correctly. She said he failed. So…I made an appointment with our ENT to have Zeke do a more comprehensive hearing screening. Which he passed with flying colors. Whew! But what was interesting about the more extensive test, which involved the audiologist asking Zeke, through headphones, to repeat certain words, was I realized there were a LOT of words I couldn’t understand Zeke saying when they were out of context. I suddenly understood that my ability to converse with Zeke depended a lot on the context of his sentences, and that many individual words were indecipherable.

So we took the successful hearing screening results to Child Find and our application was complete! Meanwhile, on June 1 we had an initial meeting with a team there, including the Child Find Coordinator, a psychologist, and a social worker. They talked with me about the background of Zeke’s speech issues, his occupational therapy issues, and what my concerns were. The social worker played with Zeke with a bunch of toys in the office. Everyone was incredibly friendly. They determined that Zeke should have a speech evaluation and said a speech therapist would be calling us to schedule an appointment.

Apparently it took a while for the speech therapists to wrap up school year appointments and do whatever else they had to do, and I ended up calling the Child Find office four or five times to ensure our appointment was still forthcoming. Finally, in mid-July, we heard from the person who would be doing Zeke’s assessment, and will be meeting her on August 2. Then, after a couple more calls, we have an appointment on August 25 for Zeke’s final eligibility meeting, where the Child Find team talks with me about the speech therapist’s evaluation, and determines what’s next for Zeke. Again, whew. I have to reiterate that even though all this has taken a while, everyone who I’ve spoken with at Child Find has been extremely kind and helpful. Especially Elizabeth the admin. She rocks.

The Child Find coordinator said if Zeke is deemed eligible to receive speech therapy services, they will take place at our neighborhood elementary school. This sounded great to me because it’s less than a 10-minute walk from our house, and would give Zeke a familiarity with the school he will attend a year from now for kindergarten. And best of all, it’s free. From what I understand from all the therapists and educators I’ve talked with this year, it’s so much easier for the kids and the school system if these kinds of issues are caught and corrected before elementary school starts. So that’s our goal.

Part V: The Moral of the Story

No doubt this saga is far from over for everyone in our family. There will always be more appointments and more therapies and more issues. But I am so thankful that we have these wonderful resources at hand to help our kids overcome frustration, improve their social skills, prevent future orthodontic catastrophe, and so much more. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to intervene and when to let it go, but it’s gratifying when you see that something you’ve done is helping your kid thrive. Parenting is hard enough as it is. Thank goodness for all of these teachers and therapists and helpers who have my kids’ backs.

 

Ramadan e-belgique 1Our church shares space with a Muslim community, so it happens that I often see Muslims coming to pray. During the school year, preschool pickup coincides with mid-day prayers and the parking lot is a mix of parents emerging from minivans and Muslim men wearing a mix of Western clothing and kurtas and thobes.

I always make an effort to smile at these men and say hello in an effort to try to make them feel welcome. I always think about saying “salaam alaikum,” but I never do. Somehow I am always afraid I will pronounce it wrong, or not know what to say next, or that I will come across as inauthentic. When I articulate my hesitations, they seem absurd. But still I’m nervous and I just say, “hello.” They always smile back and say hello to me.

Right now it is Ramadan. This is a holiday I might have previously been unaware of, but the Muslim community at our church gathers at night to break their fast. Sometimes when I am leaving an evening meeting at church, Muslims are arriving to pray and eat.

My friend D was waiting outside for her ride and I heard her say, “Ramadan mubarak,” which means “blessed Ramadan.” All the way home I practiced pronouncing it correctly.

The next time I was leaving an evening meeting, I worked up my courage and said it to a couple individuals walking up the path. I said it out the window of my car to a man in the parking lot. They all looked pleasantly surprised and thanked me.

Today I had to get a routine blood test at the doctor’s office. The phlebotomist was wearing a hijab. I took a deep breath and wished her “Ramadan mubarak.” She said it was going to be Eid Mubarak, the celebration marking the end of the month of Ramadan, in a week. I wanted to ask her about it–what exactly Ramadan represents and what happens on Eid, but I didn’t. Partly because I was focused on making sure my vein and blood were cooperating, but also because I was embarrassed that I don’t know what Ramadan is about. Now I looked it up, and I know. She asked me if I was fasting, because I was supposed to in advance of the blood test, and I said yes. I wanted to ask her if she was fasting for Ramadan, but I didn’t. I thought it might be disrespectful to not assume she was because that’s what healthy adults are supposed to do. I wanted to ask her if she had any personal connection to the 17-year-old Muslim girl who was beaten to death with a baseball bat in Sterling. I refrained, realizing it was ridiculous to assume they would know each other and not knowing how such a conversation would proceed. I was reminded of stories about my Jewish paternal grandmother spotting a Christian church in her travels near my mother’s hometown, snapping a photo, and asking my mom if that were her church.

I ask everyone I meet all kinds of questions all the time. It’s what I do. But for all kinds of reasons, none particularly good, I was reluctant to ask this phlebotomist about her religion.

I am still working up my courage every day to make these connections and have these conversations. It is absolutely necessary.

Ramadan mubarak. You can say it too.

15704070-15704070It turns out I do ask a lot of questions, or at least I ask five questions to a lot of people, in my new podcast, aptly named Five Questions.

I ask questions such as:

  • If you could switch places with someone for a day, who would it be and why?
  • If you could witness a moment in history, what would it be?
  • What do you believe in?
  • What is your favorite smell and why?
  • If you had a museum, what would you put in it?

I invite you to listen to it here: http://betsyrosso.podbean.com. I’ve published five episodes so far, and more are in the works. Look for a new one every Sunday.

If you would like to be the next person to answer my five questions, let me know! Interview spots are in demand, but I will always make room for you.

LUP07231

 

 

 

 

 

ONE

M: “You need to take your medicine so your ear infection doesn’t come back.”

Z: “No, I’m scared of this medicine. It’s disgusting!”

M: “Well you need to take it anyway, to stay healthy.”

Z: “I can’t take it, it’s disgusting.”

M: “You can chase it with any kind of juice you want.”

Z: “No, it’s too disgusting.” [curls into ball and hides face in the couch]

[repeat 10-20 times]

M: “You can have an Oreo afterward.”

Z: “OK.” [downs medicine in one gulp]

 

TWO

Z: “What’s for dinner in the crockpot?”

M: “Chicken with potatoes and carrots and green beans.”

Z: “That sounds disgusting.”

M: “Zeke, that’s really rude. The dinner I made is not disgusting. Those are all ingredients you like. You’ll like it. The dinner I made does not taste like your medicine.”

Z: “Oh. OK. Sorry!” [smiling sweetly]

 

THREE

Z: [sees dinner on plate] “I don’t like this food, I’ve tried it before and I don’t like it.”

Zoe: “Zeke, it’s delicious! Try it! It’s tofu and spinach and peanut butter! You like all those things! Try it!”

Z: [leaves table to play with fire station] “I’ve tried it before and I don’t like it.”

M: “You know when I was little I didn’t like certain things, like tomatoes, and chicken salad, and then I tried them a few more times and realized I loved them!”

Z: [plays with fire station]

Zoe: “Zeke, it’s delicious! Try it! It’s tofu and spinach and peanut butter! You like all those things! Try it! Just try a bite! Try it! Come on! Try it! If you don’t eat it you won’t get dessert!”

Z: [tries one bite, looks as if he’s going to throw up, makes horrible noise.]

M: “Are you ok? Are you going to throw up? Can you swallow?”

Z: [almost in tears] “Yes I can swallow it. But I don’t like it!”

M: “OK, at least you tried it. Thank you for trying it. Do you want some soup?”

Z: “Yes.”

M: “Minestrone or lentil?”

Z: “Minestrone, please!” [eats entire can of minestrone soup]

 

FOUR

Z: “What’s for dinner in the crockpot?”

M: “Beef with broccoli and carrots and peanuts. Served with rice.”

Z: “YAY!

Z: [sees dinner on plate] “This is the best food EVER!”

Z: [eats one bite of beef, one spoonful of rice, one peanut, all broccoli and carrots] “Can I have more carrots?”

D: “Eat the other food on your plate, then you can have more carrots.”

Z: “But I don’t like the other food.”

D: “Just eat a little more of the other food.”

Z: [eats one more bite of other food] “Can I have more carrots?” [eats carrots, repeats 10 times]

D: “I’m cutting you off before you turn the color of a carrot.”

 

FIVE

Scene: our bed, Saturday, 9am.

Z: [in the bed between us] “Get up! It’s morning time! Get up! Wake up! Get out of bed!”

M: [grunts]

Z: “Get up! It’s morning time! Get up! Wake up! Get out of bed! Get down and walk on the floor!” [repeats 10-20 times]

M: “I’m going to get up in a few minutes. I’m not ready to get up yet.” [wonders why Zeke always asks her to get up instead of Daddy]

Z: [pokes M in the nose]

M: “Zeke, please don’t poke my nose. I’ve told you I don’t like it when you put your fingers in my face.”

Z: [pokes M in the nose again] “But Mommy I actually like doing that.”

 

 

snow daffodil large.jpg.560x0_q80_crop-smart

 

 

 

 

 

Like the daffodils and cherry blossoms this winter

sometimes we bloom unexpectedly

And it’s lovely

And then it snows

and buries us

knocks us flat on the ground

forces our fragile petals off the branch

Sometimes we open ourselves up to the world

and we are warmly welcomed

Other times we are frozen out

We risk showing ourselves

Hoping someone will shine on us

But sometimes

we emerge

to a dark and unforgiving world

Even so

like the undaunted daffodil

we push ourselves up through the earth

again and again


Method Daily Shower Cleaner, ylang ylang scent, smells just like my Nana’s Aqua Net hairspray. This provides the best ever incentive for me to clean my bathroom. When I spray this stuff on the sink or floor or toilet (why confine it to the shower?) I am transported back to my Nana’s bathroom in the house on Chestnut Street in High Point where I watched her get ready for church.

At the time I did not think her hairspray smelled particularly good, or particularly bad. I just ducked out of the way to avoid being caught in the aerosol draft. She was not using the hairspray to create any kind of fancy ‘do, but rather to cement in place the curls she had created the night before with those little pink foam rollers and bobby pins in a ritual that I did not quite understand but enjoyed observing.

I did not even know what ylang ylang was until I happened to buy this shower spray, and I’m positive my Nana didn’t know her hair spray was scented as such. Ylang ylang is apparently prized for its aphrodisiac properties, among other virtues. An obvious choice for a bathroom cleaning product, right?

For Hanukkah last year Zeke received a Paw Patrol washcloth that was mysteriously scrunched into a tiny block that you drop in water and watch expand. It was packaged with a little bar of handmade green soap that smells just like my Papa. I have no idea what the scent is. The soap wasn’t labeled and it was made by a small business whose name I don’t remember. But I love washing my hands with it. I also have a little bottle of English Leather cologne that belonged to my Papa. When I need a fix I uncap the wooden stopper and put a few drops on my fingertips. 

Coming across these smells unexpectedly is like when Harry Potter sees his long-dead parents in the mirror of erised. They’re right there, smiling, waving, with their hands on his shoulders, but no more alive than they have been for a decade. But it feels like they are right there. Tantalizingly, reassuringly present, however fleeting. For me it’s an olfactory comfort fix.

Now excuse me while I go scrub the sink and wash my hands. 

MAKING 
Every time you press record,

Lay yourself bare

Wide-eyed heart exposed

Without saying a word

Or singing a note

Send your soul into the world in a small plastic box

That’s likely to crack 
LISTENING 
Sliding the tape into the car stereo

Driving to your destination along a new musical route

Carefully mapped out for you

The soundtrack defining a moment

Serendipity when song matches sky
Read into each lyric what you want to hear 

Or wonder what it all means 

Or if it even means anything at all
Unspooling of a feeling, of a story, 

Of a shared past or hopeful future
The surprise of an old favorite 

Curiosity of a fresh find 

Comfort of the perfect tune

Ease of the right flow

Joy of a good beat

Energy of a track you rewind and repeat 

and turn up and up and up

856e6648c9786df2d87bb0e11315585f_fullThis is the text from my reflection today at church, in a service led by my friends D and Diane, called Self-Fulfilling Prophecies.

When my daughter Zoe was in second grade, her friends all started reading Harry Potter. I was thrilled, because I am a serious fan. I was one of those people who would go to the bookstore at midnight to get my hands on each of the seven books as soon as it was released. So when Zoe decided she wanted to read the books aloud with us, I was even more excited. For the past few years, we have read Harry Potter at bedtime almost every night and we have had so much fun exploring the wizarding world together.

This past summer, in the midst of the sixth book–Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince–I rediscovered Felix Felicis. Also known as liquid luck, Felix Felicis is famously tricky to concoct. It is banned from use before athletic or academic competitions. During the first potions class of the school year, Professor Slughorn offers a vial of Felix Felicis to the student who can correctly brew that day’s assignment in his or her cauldron. With the help of notes written in the margin of his secondhand textbook, Harry unexpectedly succeeds and wins the prize.

It turns out that Felix Felicis conveys to its user something closer to courage than simply luck. The first time Harry almost uses it is when his best friend Ron is plagued by self-doubt before a big quidditch match in which he’s supposed to play keeper. Harry only pretends to pour some of the potion in Ron’s pumpkin juice at breakfast, but that’s all that’s required for Ron to gain the confidence he needs to play the best match of his life.

Harry actually drinks some of the Felix Felicis to help him convince Professor Slughorn to reveal a memory that will enable Harry to make progress toward his defeat of Lord Voldemort, who, if you haven’t read Harry Potter or seen the movies, is the bad guy.

As soon as the potion hits his bloodstream, Harry heads out to accomplish his mission. What he immediately decides to do seems completely counterintuitive, but he feels certain it’s the right thing to do. “I have a good feeling about this,” he says to his incredulous friends, and of course it turns out he’s right.

Reading these books a second time, this time as a parent and most recently in such a fractious political climate, I was struck by the appeal of not just having a bottle of Felix Felicis at my disposal (and it’s hard to come by—the potion takes six months to brew) but wondered what it would be like to live my life every day as if someone had poured a few drops of Felix Felicis into my juice in the morning.

What would it be like to be assured that whatever decisions I made would turn out to be good ones? I’m not asking for the kind of luck that turns up a winning lottery ticket or makes me famous. I mean Felix Felicis that guarantees courage and confidence in the small moments—the ability to live what you believe and not shrink back from your values because it’s a little scary or inconvenient or unpopular.

At the beginning of this service I read my statement of belief. I wrote it not long after the election, in the covenant group that D and I facilitate together. She had suggested that articulating what where we stand, especially in the face of bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, and just plain meanness, would help us stand up to those oppressive forces. I was surprised at how empowering it felt to write, and speak, what I believe.

Where my desired dose of Felix Felicis comes in is embodying those beliefs every day.

For example, extending generosity without condition or expectation of reciprocity. Not wondering what will happen with my contribution or whether a person or cause is going to do the right thing with what I have freely given. Not concerned with whether I get a thank you.

For example, showing kindness not just to people I love, but to strangers. A couple weeks ago I was sitting in this sanctuary during our standing outside the season service, seated behind someone who was weeping. I had seen this person at church before, but I didn’t know her. I didn’t even know her name, but I really wanted to put my hand on her shoulder or rub her back. But I didn’t. I worried maybe she wanted to be left alone, maybe she would jump back in alarm when a complete stranger tried to touch her. I agonized about whether or not to try to comfort her. In the end, she turned around to comfort my friend with whom I was sitting, who was also quietly crying. I immediately saw from her smile and her action that she would have welcomed my touch.

For example, turning to wonder instead of accusation when I don’t understand a person or situation. It’s a hard world out there right now, but it doesn’t get any softer if I vilify people whose beliefs and actions I don’t understand. Especially if I’m accusing those people of doing the exact same thing.

When my husband and I got married, in his toast to us, my dad talked about my husband’s and my commitment to tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of repairing the world. We are both still at it, with a far greater sense of urgency now.

It is easy to wonder if I am doing enough. When this worry bubbles up to the surface, I have to remind myself that tikkun olam for me is also raising two children to be kind and generous. Tikkun olam is creating and giving myself to the many communities of which I am a part. Tikkun olam is doing something nice for myself so I have the energy to care for others. Tikkun olam is being able to laugh with my husband when things are not going well.

My bottle of Felix Felicis would help me brave and openhearted in my efforts to heal the world. I know I will make mistakes, I will question my decisions, I will fall short. But just a shot of Felix Felicis could remind me, in the face of what seems like utter powerlessness, that I do have the power of my beliefs, and the strength to live them. What would a few drops of Felix Felicis do for you?

Always We Hope
~ Lao Tzu

Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.

This is it.

No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.

There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.

Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.

 

Reprinted with permission. After George Ella Lyon. 

tmp570631378043928577Where I’m From

By Zoe Rosso

 

I am from chocolate bars.

From Trident gum and Izze.

I am from the Legos on the floor. Small, big, and painful when stepped on.

 

I am from the rosebushes,

And the big trees we can’t climb at school.

I am from unwrapping Christmas presents at the Winterblatts’ house,

And not noticing the milk two inches away from my nose.

From Rosenblatts and Jennings

And Winters.

I am from the naps on the sofa,

And forgetting things till the day before they’re due.

From; ‘Just have two bites!’ and, ‘settle down!’

I am from lighting the menorah for eight days and shrieking 50 times when I go downstairs on the 25th.

I’m from Arlington, and Scotland, and Italy.

From large diet cokes and Frosties.

From the time Zeke ate a plastic baby and the time Zeke pulled down my pants in front of my family.

 

I am from millions of pictures on the walls reminding me of when I was little, flooding me with happiness and the want to relive that moment.

 

 

 

November 2016

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,071 other followers

Follow You Ask a Lot of Questions on WordPress.com

Listen to this

%d bloggers like this: