Enough! Way more than enough!

1 11 2013

Dear Courtney and Tayla,
I am sitting at my computer watching a video for the third time about moms and their children talking about each other. All the moms say the same thing. I wish I could be more patient with my kids, I wish I could be more present, or confident or not lose my temper as much. I wish I were a better mother! Then, a few days later, they bring the kids in, and they tell the kids to describe their moms. The kids say, my mom is awesome, kind, pretty, smart, cooks for me, cares for me, and so on. The moms watch this and they cry!!!
And every time I watch this video I cry. I cry for all the moms out there and for all the little girls who will be moms. I cry because of those two words. Never Enough!!! We all think we are never enough. Good enough, Smart enough, Thin enough, and it goes on and on…
My babies, I am privileged to be the kind of person people talk to. And every one of those moms says the same thing to me… They say, I am so tired trying to be the way I wish I could be!!! Sometimes, I too wish that I could be the perfect mom…
Yesterday was Halloween. I like Halloween. I like the neighborhood camaraderie and the parties where the adults drink too much ‘apple cider’. Most of all though, I like being with you and seeing you walk our neighborhood with such joy on your faces! But, yesterday I knew that three weeks after surgery, I would not be partying or trick or treating with you for a couple of hours or really doing much of anything. But, we got you dressed up, did your makeup (the only time in the year I let you wear makeup) and as I kissed you goodbye, to go to your parties and to do your candy conquering, I felt sad. I sat down… and yes, I cried. Because, I wished I could be strong enough to go out with you.
At nine a clock, you two bounded in the door. You took one look at me, with my pale, tired face, and you both said the words, Those words: Mommy, you are the best mommy any child could ask for. Thank you for being there for us, Mommy we love you!!! The candy was forgotten. The makeup was gingerly removed. You lay next to me in my bed and just cuddled until we all fell asleep. Despite that I truly believed that I had failed ten minutes before, you had just said that I hadn’t. You knew. I was enough! Because, I am your mom and you are my girls.
My prayer for you… When you grow up, please may you never doubt, not even for a minute, that you are enough. Because, you are way, way more than enough.
I love you.
Your Mom.
PS. It’s Thanksgiving soon, and you know what, I like Thanksgiving even more than Halloween!!!


Flashbacks and Pay It Forwards

25 09 2013

A friend and I were enjoying a cup of coffee at Starbucks today. Next to us was a young mom with a sleeping baby girl in her arms. We had never met, but there was something about this mom that gave me flashbacks. We started to talk to her and after 5 minutes we’d learnt that she had moved to Seattle from San Diego a few months ago. She was still learning the lay of the land, and was not sure which suburb to live permanently in, what schools were good, and where to find good restaurants. Her husband was at work, her 4 year old was at preschool, and she was drinking coffee with a precious sleeping, beautiful, 5th month baby girl in her arms, at Starbucks.

I had flashbacks in that moment. There I was, sitting in a coffee shop in South Africa ten years ago, with my year old, red-haired baby girl in her pram and her 5 week old sleeping sister in my arms. Life was beautiful. Life was scary. I was a mom to two beautiful daughters who I already loved more than the Universe itself. I felt alive. I felt happy. I felt terrified and I wanted other women to hold me, and tell me that it would all be just fine.

Another flashback. Five years ago. Sitting in Starbucks in a small quaint neighborhood of Issaquah. I had no friends here yet. I looked at the other women laughing, talking, hugging each other as they met. I felt lonely, isolated, and once again terrified. Absolutely terrified.

But then I have just one more flashback… The kindness of strangers. The smile of that sweet old lady when she saw my girls. That teacher telling me she cared. That check out lady who asked me if I ‘found everything I needed’. In those days I didn’t realize that they asked everyone that question.

But yes, I really, really did find what I needed. I found Peace, and Friends, and a great place to call my home.

Flash Forward, time to pay it forward: Today, To Kara, the lovely mom with the sleeping baby in Starbucks, I hope you know that as women, that’s what makes us great… the capacity to see our flashbacks in the Present. Thank you for the gift of sisterhood today! I hope you find everything you were looking for too!!!

Finding my religion

5 09 2013

So I just returned home from possibly the very most beautiful and uplifting Jewish High Holy Day (Rosh Hashanah) service I have attended in all my 40 years. It took me 40 years to be in a Synagogue and to actually feel something deeply. A very dear friend and one of our community leaders was leading this service and as she praised God with magnificent singing, storytelling and prayers, it struck me. Suddenly I didn’t feel like such an ‘orphan’ in a strange land anymore. Suddenly I didn’t feel self conscious or out of my depth anymore. I looked around me. No one cared what I was or wasn’t wearing, no one was there to be seen or to earn brownie points, there were no cliques of people talking amongst themselves. Everyone had a light around them. Every single person, young or old, rich or poor, happy or sad, was being raised up by the energy in that room today.

Now, as many of you know, I love and live for spirituality and philosophy. Since I was a very small child I would ask “What makes us HUMAN?!”. But, today I finally GOT IT! And this was the IT that I got, thanks to my teacher and all the teachers in that room.

Being spiritual is not about anything other than being a loving, kind, beautiful human being. The essence of everything in this world, is this ONE thing… Who did you love today? Who did you reach out to today? Who did you thank today? Who did you praise today? Who did you make feel as if they matter today? Were you kind today?

So, during this time of great upheaval in the World let’s remember that whether we’re Jewish, or Christian or Muslim or Hindu or anything in between, we all have the ‘spark’ of God within us… It’s our choice what we do with it. And as the great Martin Luther King Jr said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Shana Tova or Good Yomtov as some of us say. That means, Have a good year, or Good Good Day!! That is my wish for you!

I have a friend…

2 08 2013

I have a friend. She will remain nameless.

She calls to say hi for no reason. She texts me when she thinks of me. She never forgets a birthday or anniversary. She is never too busy to reach out. When we see each other, five hours spent chatting, feels like one. She sends me notes to remind me that she is there, and when I’m sick, she’s there with a bowl of soup and an offer to watch my kids.

I have a friend. She will remain nameless.

She knows how I think. She knows what hurts my heart and what I believe (albeit vocally and sometimes too passionately) to be right or wrong. She knows that I don’t like spiders or crowds. She knows that I can’t NOT speak up when I see injustice or unkindness.

She knows that I only “see her” when I see her, whether it’s running into her in my sweatpants at Target or in my evening dress at a party, I love her just the same… especially when we both look like #$% and haven’t showered. And she has a cup of Starbucks for me in her hand…

If she is having a bad day she trusts me with her vulnerability and I do the same. We never feel that we need to apologize for the messiness of our houses or the messiness of our lives.

I have a friend. She will remain nameless.

She is beautiful from the inside out. And for that reason, she is my friend. She shines goodness. She knows what it means to human. She is honest, and makes mistakes, and gets mad, and uses swear words all the time, and never stops loving her people.

I have a friend. I have many friends!!! They will NOT remain nameless, because in this moment I recognized them all for who they are, and all they do!

Not just ONE, but ALL!!! My mother always said, Have many friends, not just one BFF. That is how we grow as women. That is how we weave our tapestry of connectiveness, and open-heartedness and strength. That is what girl friends do!!!

Hey Friend, I see you!

11 07 2013

Twenty years ago I became a Seeker. I was about to graduate with a Social Work degree from The University of The Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Looking back now, I see what a crazy group of Idealists, Activists, and Dreamers we all were. We each had the dream of how in our own ways we hoped to bring the world some degree of peace. Where did that come from? I guess as ‘children of Apartheid’ that legacy had shaped us. For the first time for many of us, we were shown in the most painful of ways how the effects of living an Us Them mentality had destroyed a country. Devastating, cruel and heartbreaking. I have so many memories of learning what it meant to be rich or poor, and not in the sense of how much money you had, but how strong your dreams were (like the friend who was the first Black woman in her family to go to university. She was in her forties). How much you believed in perseverance for justice and fairness (Another friend who was studying by candlelight in a township shack). How much respect you chose to give to every human being and how much loving kindness you found in your heart. This is what makes you rich!!! Today, I can hear that young idealistic me calling in my dreams. She still deeply wants to do something, anything, to make one person feel a little stronger, a little more loved, a little more seen or heard, to break through the Us Them shackles we all live with. Because at the end of the day, we all belong to each other. And once in a while we see each other’s Inner Light and we say, Hey Friend, I see you! I have to add that I was inspired to write this by a homeless man who looked me in the eyes and said “God Bless You”! No, My Friend, May God Bless YOU!

Being positive…A choice!

25 06 2013

A long time ago my mom shared something very special with me. I was probably seven or eight years old at the time, and I rememember understanding for the first time that my mother had lost her mother when she was just a baby.  I remember asking her how she had grown up without a mother? How did she cope? Who made sure that she was really looked after? Who did all the ‘mom’ things… like ponytails, daily snacks, and cuddling her when life got challenging? I remember her words so clearly.  She said, “I had a wonderful loving father, and a positive attitude”. My mother learnt about a positive outlook before she could even talk. She always taught me that it’s not what happens to you in life but how you respond it!
As the years have gone by, life happens. You lose people whom you’ve loved, you move places and sometimes in my case, countries. You start again, you make friends, you lose friends, friendships change, you know hard times and live through them. You sometimes wish your kids would stay small or your goals would be more attainable.
People often say to me, You’re soooo positive all the time. I laugh at that one, because as my closest of closest people will tell you, I’m REALLY NOT! I’m often needy, grumpy and tired. But when I commit to how I really feel (needy, grumpy, tired) those words my mother taught me so long ago come flooding back. Don’t be positive because other people want you to be cheerful, or because it looks better, but be positive because that’s the way you get through the hard times. If you tell yourself enough times that you are grateful for this perfectly imperfect life we all live, you actually start to believe it!! When you start to believe it, and embrace your vulnerability and your strength, that’s when it all makes sense!
“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.” Wilfred A. Peterson

Funny that… I see Rainbows

22 05 2013

rainbow 2

I was at sitting watching my daughter play soccer yesterday when the rain came down in buckets. We were drenched and I confess I was probably the mom complaining the most. I do not like getting wet. I do not like storms. I do not! And then as fast as it had started, the downpour stopped and lo and behold a Rainbow appeared.

And some of the girls said, Turn around. Look, there’s a rainbow.

I started to laugh because this was such a beautiful representation of my life at the moment. Being the kind of person who lives to make others feel happy and loved, I sometimes forget to take care of myself. My personal storms are sometimes very dark and yes, I do not like them.

And then I think of all those people out there who live through tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, cancer, destruction and violence, the worst of storms, and yet their strength and hope in a brighter day, inspires me to believe that God did not create rainbows by mistake!

Yes, as Maya Angelo so eloquently says, “God has put a rainbow in the clouds for you” too.