Is Traveling With your Kids To Benefit Them or You?

This past week I brought along my two girls, Eden, 10 and Alia London, 8 to New York City. I had been there dozens of times for business; but this time was for them. So for six days, we did New York: Serendipity, Mathilda on Broadway, Empire State Building, Sony Wonder Museum, and a even a carriage ride in Central Park.

The trip was supposed to expand their horizons and I am sure it did. But what I did not know was how it would expand my own.

Do you know how long the subway doors stay open in rush hour? Why are taxi drivers not considered strangers? Why does Elmo in Times Square ask for money? They asked questions that I never contemplated and that I did not know the answers to. They helped me to realize “I don’t know a lot, and I need to ask more questions.”

Our best moments were not pre planned ticketed activities. Our best moments were collapsing in bed after a long day, watching Big after dancing on the piano in FAO Schwartz, trying on lipstick in the hotel bathroom. They enabled me to play more and plan less.

Lastly, I walk fast. I talk fast. I even type fast. They don’t like it. And they told me to slow down, often. It was hard at first to listen. I wanted them to experience everything in our limited amount of time. But then I realized I was missing the mark. The goal of our trip was to find moments of true connection that would make lifelong memories. If hurried them through, the connections would never happen and the memories would never be made. It took a while to slow down, but eventually I did.

This past week I was their guide; but they were mine as […]

For every mother…on the day after Mother’s Day!

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If yesterday was your day, then what is today?

For that matter what are the rest of the 364 days until the next Mother’s Day?

I am not sure how you spent your Mother’s Day. I hope it was a day designed just for you (I got breakfast in bed!). But if that’s the case, then are the rest of our days supposed to be entirely devoted to others?

My teacher, Professor Ira Stone, tells us that to be truly spiritually-fit we should adopt the posture of “spiritual skepticism.” This means that we have to live in the tension of constantly trying to address our own needs while addressing the needs of others.

Every time I study these words, I feel relieved. I do not need to figure out the perfect balance between meeting my needs and meeting the needs of my children. Rather, to be spiritually-fit I need to recognize the inevitability of tension between trying balance my needs and the needs of those I love. And as long as I am willing to address this tension in thought and in action, then each day I move closer to being spiritually well.

This is my prayer for you until Mother’s Day 2016: Motherhood is a spiritual endeavor only when you recognize how truly difficult it is.

For My Mother

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This blog is dedicated to my mother, Barbara Anne Scolnick.

My mother loved London.

She was from London, Ohio (but she used only the city’s name unless pressed).  She even traveled to London with my father and they finessed their way into Buckingham Palace for the Royal wedding (Lady Di and Prince Charles). Don’t believe her?  She has the royal toilet paper to prove it. When we named our daughter London, she was convinced that her granddaughter would be the next princess in the House of Windsor.

Because of my mother, London has always been mythical for me.  And it worked out that this year (during the fifth anniversary of her death last week) Jeff and I traveled for a week in London. The adventure was even better than I imagined — elegant, historic, sophisticated — just like she had described.

What she could not have told me was that dining at the Wolseley, shopping at Fortnum & Mason, and seeing the new Princess kind of up close would make me feel closer to her than I had in years.

The reality is that since her death 1829 days ago, I feel my mother’s presence less and less. The smell of her clothes has faded. The memory of her touch is not as clear. Her voice is harder to hear. Time has messed with my memory.

But being in this place that she loved, it was as if she was right next to me.

I realized then that we never know when the moments that we long for–the moments of deep connection and intimacy– will happen. And when we are sure that they will never return, they do, often in most unlikely of places.

It is often not on scheduled celebrations like Mother’s […]

Who Really Cares if Hillary Clinton Can Change Diapers?

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We all know now that it is official. Hillary is running for the 2016 presidency. And the pundits tell us that her challenge is to convince us that she is the “everyday” woman. Since I had the privilege (thanks to Telepictures) to be one of four women to interview Hillary Clinton in 2008 for Entertainment Tonight at a Town Hall meeting in North Carolina, I can shed some light on this matter based on my time with her.

Before we met her, her team vetted every word we were to say. So I was completely taken aback by her disarming demeanor when we actually were introduced. She was girlfriend-y, genuinely interested in each one of us, and even asked our opinion on her outfit. When we gave it the thumbs down; she changed into a new one.

The minute the cameras started rolling, I was blown away. She was extraordinary.

She handled every question brilliantly even the ones that went off script like mine:“How do you order pizza in the White House?” She was never flustered or snarky. And when we finished, her people urged her to move along; but instead she stayed and schmoozed like any woman who was having fun.

I can attest for the two hours I was with her, she was just like you and me. But I would also swear under oath that she was nothing like you and me.

And frankly I am thrilled that she wasn’t.

If you are a person about to become a leader of nation with the capacity to change the world, I don’t want you to be average, normal or ordinary. Abraham, Moses, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, jr. (to name a few) were anything but. It was their […]

Want to Live to 100? It’s Time to Turn to a Biblical Diet

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I am not saying this just because I am a rabbi. Dan Buettner, the National Geographic explorer who is on a quest find the secret to longevity, has just published in his new book, The Blue Zones Solution, that the Seventh-day Adventists of Loma Linda, California follow a “biblical” diet focused on grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables. And as a result, they are one of five blue zone communities around the world that live longer and happier lives.

Frankly I am not that surprised. The Bible has been telling us from the beginning that in God’s perfect world, Eden, we should all be vegetarian.* Scientists have been telling us for years that refined sugar, soda and sweeteners are the devil. And now we have even more proof. If you eat vegan and even sometimes throw in a serving of a fish a day than you might live 10 years longer than people who don’t.

I would like to say that I am all in. Both my parents died before the age of 65. I want to live long past my sixties. I want to be a grandparent.

That said, I am not yet ready to give up my chicken wings and rib eyes.

Here is my plan. I am taking the Bible’s direction. I am working on eating more avocados, nuts, beans, and whole grains. And I am taking the rabbis directions as well, by following the laws of kashrut when eating meat and Oreos (but not together).

My hope for you and for me is that if eating meat takes off a few years, the rabbis of the Talmud will throw in a good word with God and add a few of those years back.

One can pray.

*The laws of keeping kosher did not develop until much later when we […]