Friday, October 11, 2019

Making Memories

grief, loss, loss of a parent, matzo ball soup, traditions, Judaism, love, family, father, generations


I wrote this piece several years ago to be published somewhere else, but today, today I need to share these same words. I'm lacking anything more - I'm missing my father as today it is six years to the day that he left us, and it hurts as if it were mere moments ago. 

Last year I shared why October hurts so much.
Six years ago I shared the immediate pain, the instant grief, the heartache. And then I talked about this very experience, the one I share below.

Matzo Ball Soup

My father has been gone for _________. 
Two years and five months when I first wrote this. 
And it is six years now, oh, how time flies and stands still all at once.
Two years. Five months.
Six years. 
Six. 
Whole. 
Years.
Gone.
Unexpectedly taken from us too soon.
I have so many memories.
So many moments.
So much to hold in my head and my heart.
And yet, one of the most important things my father ever taught me was how to make matzo ball soup.
From scratch.
The chicken soup.
The matzo balls.
An effort unknown to me before that day.
An effort I have repeated several times since.
On most days I would pick up the phone.
Ask for a refresher.
How much water do I need to use?
How do I get the balls to float?
Why are they falling apart?
But now – when I get myself started – there’s no one to call.
I have to do it on my own.
I remember his words.
His voice.
I can feel him directing me.
And sometimes I cry.
And I laugh.
I say his words out loud.
I hear his voice in my own.
I recognize the efforts he put in – year after year – holiday after holiday – at work and at home.
Making matzo ball soup from scratch is not simple.
You’re on your feet on and off for hours.
You’re walking back and forth to the stove more times than you can count.
It’s a long and tedious process.
But I need to do it.
I need to repeat it more often.
Because it brings me closer to my father.
It reminds me of how much he did.
For me. For my brother. For my mom. For our family.
Imagine making this day after day for masses of people?
Standing on your feet, ignoring any pain.
My mere efforts once every few months in tribute. In memory.
They pale in comparison.
Nothing will ever taste quite the same as my father’s matzo ball soup.
But I’m working my hardest to come as close as I possibly can.
I know he’s proud.
I know he knows.
And when the time comes – I’ll teach my daughter the recipe.
I’ll pass it down so it feeds generation after generation.
So his words will live on in the flavors.
Because although I don’t come close enough – some days – some batches – sometimes – I lift that spoon up to my lips and inhale the scent of it. I take a tiny taste and my goodness.
It’s like he’s right there beside me.
It’s like he never left us at all.
Matzo ball soup.
It seems so random.
That it should hold the most important of memories for me all this time.
And yet, it does. It always will.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

What To Read: October New Releases

reading, fiction, nonfiction, Kindle reads, goodreads, recommendations, novels, young adult, literature, what to read, Kindle, favorites

This month, as most have been so far this year, is filled with titles that I'm itching to get my hands on. It has finally felt like fall here in NC, albeit brief - nobody counts on fall lasting very long - unfortunately.

But fall reads are coming hard and fast!

Let's grab a few and dive into them together.

* There are affiliate links throughout this post. If you use them I will earn a few pennies towards my next book purchases, so I thank you in advance. *


OCTOBER READS



reading, fiction, nonfiction, Kindle reads, goodreads, recommendations, novels, young adult, literature, what to read, Kindle, favorites


Guillory is on FIRE, y'all. I literally finished her last release the other day. It's so so very exciting to see that she's got another book out already. I don't even know how I missed it until just now. For some reason I thought this was coming out closer to - well - the actual holidays. But YAY for us. We get to dive in immediately. Join me. Grab a copy of Royal Holiday.



reading, fiction, nonfiction, Kindle reads, goodreads, recommendations, novels, young adult, literature, what to read, Kindle, favorites


You guys. Jojo Moyes has a new book coming out this month. You know, Jojo Moyes of Me Before You (please tell me you've read it - if you haven't, hop to it, seriously, thank me later!) notoriety! The Giver of Stars is of the historical fiction genre and this might make me even more excited to read it. How about you? Are you a fan of Jojo's (total first name basis, just cause!) work?



reading, fiction, nonfiction, Kindle reads, goodreads, recommendations, novels, young adult, literature, what to read, Kindle, favorites


Ali Wong's Always Be My Maybe is one of my favorite movies I've seen this year. I kinda fell in love with her while watching. She's adorable, hilarious, and straightforward. I have not seen her special yet, but I've heard the same about watching the real Ali speak and entertain. This book is a compilation of real, raw, and entertaining letters to her daughters. Wong's truth-telling is sure to be an incredible read. I'm looking forward to getting to know her better through Dear Girls.


reading, fiction, nonfiction, Kindle reads, goodreads, recommendations, novels, young adult, literature, what to read, Kindle, favorites


This book has popped up in so many places, I had to add it to my October releases list. I feel like I'll be missing out if I don't read it, and so I think you should, too. A story bringing the character's first love back into her life after a betrayal. I mean, if you tell me that you, or at least someone you know, hasn't had that fantasy of confrontation - questions - or some sort of comeuppance, at least? Well, I might not believe you. I think it's totally normal, and we all do it. And I look forward to getting to know Tate and see what happens when her story comes full circle in Twice in a Blue Moon.



reading, fiction, nonfiction, Kindle reads, goodreads, recommendations, novels, young adult, literature, what to read, Kindle, favorites


I have not read anything by Kevin Wilson before, but when Nothing to See Here showed up as an option in my October Book of the Month picks, I couldn't resist. It just seemed like the perfect read for these on and off hot-cool-hot again fall days. Friendship. Scandal. Relationships and a reunion? Who could ask for more, right? Nothing to See Here will be released at the end of this month, but if you want to get your hands on a copy sooner, check out Book of the Month and see if you're interested. I really enjoy advanced copies of certain novels - AND enjoy having a book in my hands to turn the actual pages of. 

So. There you have it. Five October titles for your examining pleasure. Let me know if you decide to get your hands on any of them. And if you're looking for more recommendations, consider taking a peek at some of these posts shared below:




Tuesday, September 10, 2019

It Doesn't Matter.

NYC, New York, World Trade Center, 9-11, memories, moments, community, loss, grief


It doesn't matter how many years have gone by.

It doesn't matter how some memories have faded.

For those of us who have walked that walk.

For those of us who have seen those skies.

We remember. 

We never forget. 

====

It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter how many people share their "where were you on -?" posts.

It doesn't matter how many moments of silence we take.

For those of us who felt the earth shift that day.

For those of us who wondered how we'd make it home.

We remember. 

We never forget. 

====

It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter how many messages we send.

It doesn't matter how many hugs and hearts and I see you-s we receive.

For those of us who looked up at the sky.

For those of us who listened for the silence.

We remember. 

We never forget. 

====

Each year I write something a little bit different.

Each year I ask those of you who consider sharing memories to avoid sharing those horrible photographs. The videos. The clips. Images. With sound. Without.

The flames. The soot. The ash.

No. Please. Don't. Thank you.

Because.

For those of us who smelled the air.

For those of us who saw them fall.

We remember. 

We never forget. 

And we never will.

====

2017: Today I Remember.

2015: My New York.

2014: New York Will Always Be Home.

2013: Where I'm At.

2012: Why I Write.

2011: It's Been Ten Years.

2011: The World Stopped Turning.

2010: Then and Now. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Closing Doors.

life, relationships, dating, life after divorce, love, friendships, connection, pain, emotions


Y'all.

I am so tired this week.

I have plans this weekend that will bring love and joy and support back into my world and my heart, and I can't wait for them.

But in the meantime?

This week.

I just can't get out of my own head.

I just can't get out of my own way.

I know you do it, too.

I've had so many people express how very much they can relate.

How very much they understand.

I am tired.

Of the news?

Yes.

Of course.

Of the news.

Of politics?

Yes.

Of course.

Of politics.

Of people?

Huh.

Yes.

Somewhat.

Of people.

That's the part that I'm stuck on.

A loop.

I extend myself. I'm true to myself.

I. Am. Me.

To people I meet.

People I talk to.

People I hope to meet.

And then.

What?

What happens?

Doors close.

I am so in tune with myself and the people I surround myself with, that I know they're about to close before they close them.

Did you follow me there?

If I know you - and you're closing the door on me? On us?

I know it before you do it.

I don't have to know you well to know.

I'm good at this shit.

* Also, hi, I'm a therapist, I read people for a living - though let's not talk about that one time I was pretty effing blindsided - I consider that to be my weak spot, and have improved my abilities there beyond description. So. Moving on. *

But. Y'all.

I'm still tired.

I still question.

Maybe it's my own history.

Have you ever seen a friendship vanish? A relationship disappear? And thought - what on earth did I do that made them ...?

It's not that.

It's not you.

Those words - it's not you, it's me - they're 110% true.

It. Is. NOT. You.

It's THEM.

They. Are. Closing. Doors.

People have their own fears.

Their own weaknesses.

We know our own. We know when we are the ones closing the doors. When we walk away from people who have hurt us, or have the potential to hurt us.

But when we watch people walk away from the truest versions of ourselves we have given them? Shared with them? Shown them?

They. Are. Closing. Doors.

And yes. Goodness, yes. It hurts like a mother.

Friend. Family member. Spouse. Potential lover.

Whoever they are.

It hurts.

But remind yourself.

Prepare yourself.

Because you know.

You sense.

You see.

Closing doors.

They're closing in front of your face. Behind your back. You slam them. They do.

Either way.

It's okay.

Because, as the saying goes, when one door closes ...

Now walk through that next one.

Head held high.

I'm there, too. Right beside you.

Closing doors.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mental Health: Suicide in the News

suicide, mental health, news reports, suicidality, ideations, loss, grief, pain, emotion, safety

I wrote a post this morning on my Facebook page.

I explained the importance of paying attention to what we share about loss of life to suicide, especially when it's all over the news.

I explained how triggering these types of shares can be for the general public. General, every day people in our lives who read these things, watch the commentary and think to themselves, wow.

My own feed was full of speculation, judgment, biased observation, and links to articles filled with much of the same. And me, a therapist who has not experienced thoughts of taking my own life in any manner, has not experienced this kind of pain, *I* found it quite triggering. Painful, even.

I shook my head a lot.

Thought of my clients, people I've worked with over the years, who have experienced thoughts of harming themselves. Thoughts of ending things.

Thought of friends who have had these thoughts. The many women in my life who have experienced perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, where thoughts of suicide were as every day as waking up when their baby cried.

And I considered what they [the collective they, any of them, all of them] might be experiencing, might be feeling.

Suicide is one of the least selfish, least cowardly things those suffering feel they can do. 

Read that again.

The act of suicide is not done with a selfish heart.

I also indicated that we never know how triggering these kinds of reports will be to those in our lives who have lost loved ones to suicide, or who have experienced thoughts of suicide, suicidal ideations, as we call them in the field of mental health.

We need to have this conversation in public spaces.

We just must.

Social media is where we find our news these days.

It's where we read about the horrors happening all across the globe.

It's where we see birth announcements.

Birthday parties.

Entertaining memes.

It's quite often like our very own living room.

And we need to keep it that way.

When we can. As best we can.

A safe space for US. It's our space.

(Well, really it's Zuckerberg's space, but you get me, right?)

But I call to you anyway.

And I ask you to consider your guests.

Now, no, not the people peeking in through the blinds.

It's their own fault if they see something that upsets them.

That's completely different.

But if you invite someone over to share in your space - as we tend to on social media - you want them to feel comfortable, too, right?

I'd go as far as to say that you probably wouldn't invite a vegan to a pig pickin'. (This is so southern of me, seriously.)

So try to be aware. If you have friends, family members, people in your life who have either experienced thoughts of suicide or have lost loved ones to suicide - consider them before you share that latest conspiracy theory about the life that ended. Or before you share the coroner's report. Or the mass speculation and so much more.

Just do as you do when you're speaking to people face-to-face. Or as each of us SHOULD do when speaking to people face-to-face.

Stop.

Think.

Speak.

Observe.

It's a four step process. We need to observe the people we're speaking to. If someone is uncomfortable it's not that hard to read them and see the signs. Take the time to do so.

And please. Stop sharing without thinking. You just might support someone in your life you didn't even know needed you. And sometimes that's the best kind of support we can offer.

Remember that if you or someone you love is struggling or needs someone to talk to there is help.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. 

You do not have to be contemplating suicide or considering hurting yourself to reach out to them. Call them if you need to talk. Call them if things are too overwhelming and you don't know what is going to happen next. Call them if you're terrified and alone. Just call them. Please. Reach out to a loved one. Don't go through this alone. You're not alone. People are out there, ready to listen. People who love you. People who care. Please make the call.


For posts on similar topics:

How To Protect Your Mental Health in Today's Political Climate

Mental Health Matters

Ten Truths About Mental Health

Ten Things To Know Before Your First Therapy Appointment

To see the actual Facebook post, click below.