From Generation to Generation: Aidan’s Great-Great Aunt Rochel


Grandmother Diaries

Three year old Aidan and his great-great-aunt do not concentrate on the past or the future. They both savor the present moment.

Aunt Rochel first held and spoke to  him when he was 1- day old.  Now, he converses with her in his 3-year-old way. “Sit here in this chair, and I will sit here,” he says.

Aidan doesn’t know that Aunt Rochel always had specific seating arrangements when our little family celebrated countless Shabbat and holiday dinners at her home.

Today was the first day the Jewish New Year, 5777.  She went to the temple service, and stood up for all the prayers.  She could very well have sat them out, but she refused.

“Why, I have no trouble standing, it’s just walking that’s a problem,” she says. Her balance is a bit compromised, so she uses a walker.

After services, my husband decided to take some pictures of…

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10 things volunteering can do for others and you!


1. There’s nothing like giving to others. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
2. People do need people. Although some animals need help too.
3. Meet other people you wouldn’t ordinarily ever come in contact with.
4. Share your knowledge about something: for example, art, writing, music…
5. Helping older people is a good thing. Some of them are very isolated, and this is not a good way to live. There are many children who need someone too!
6. Put good karma in the universe. ( I’m not sure there is such a thing, but
who knows?)
7. You would be surprised how many people you help will want to pay it forward and help someone else.
8. Maybe learn a new skill while you’re volunteering.
9. Stretch yourself further than you thought was possible.
10. In the process, you will make some good friends.

What have you gotten out of volunteering? Share your experiences and thoughts.

Seeing my bad behavior reflected in others : It’s never too late to change!


When I was a little kid, I used to tattle on my sisters,  even when they didn’t really do anything wrong. I’d say, “mommy she’s hitting me, or pinching me, or kicking me.” Sometimes those things would happen, but more often they didn’t. After all, siblings do regularly plummet each other.

One day I was playing at a neighbor’s house. I was about 7 or 8.  I distinctly remember sitting in a treehouse.  I was listening to the little sister constantly complain about her brother. I suddenly realized that was how I was acting. It didn’t make me happy to see my own annoying behavior mirrored back at me. After that day, I stopped the tattling.

Another thing I’m still not good at is accepting apologies. My husband can say, “I’m sorry” and I still go on. I think I’ve done that with other people too.

I took me until today to realize that is not good behavior. I won’t give you the details, but I apologized to someone about a minor infraction and they were still upset.

From this day on, I will be accepting people’s apologies. Really accepting them.

Who says it’s never too late to change? I’m 63 and 1/2.

Is there a behavior you display that you can change. Did you ever have one of those wake up moments.

My two older sisters and me!

My two older sisters and me!

A courageous girl, Anne Frank, would’ve been 84 today.


Cover of "The Story of Anne Frank"

Cover of The Story of Anne Frank

Today I found out that it would’ve been Anne Frank’s 84th birthday. Being Jewish, I was always haunted by the story of Anne Frank.  You can read her story in “The Story of Anne Frank.”

Anne was a young, Jewish girl who was forced to hide away with her family in Amsterdam,Holland. It happened during the Holocaust during World War II. The family found a hiding place above a factory, and successfully hid there for several years. Tragically, someone turned them in, and were ultimately captured by the Nazis.

Anne’s father survived, and went back and found her diary. It was later published and has been read by thousands. Why am I giving out these details? I’m thinking less and fewer people know about this diary. They used to teach it in high schools, but I”m wondering how true that is today. Can the young people of today relate to the words written by a young girl in the 1940’s?

It’s more real to me because I am going to be 63 years old. When I was born in 1950, the War had only been over for five years. It seemed very real to me. When I found out about this tragedy, it upset me. To think people would kill others because of their religion. Since that time, I’ve read hundreds of books about it, and heard survivor’s talk about it. I’ve accepted it, but it still makes me very sad.

In the early 70’s, I took a trip to Amsterdam and got a chance to walk through the hiding place that is now a museum. The space was so small. I wondered how 3 families could have survived there for so long. I looked out the window at the very same tree Anne longingly looked at from her hiding place. I was touched by the pictures of American movie stars of the 40’s that she had taped on the wall.

In her diary Anne stated that “I still believe people are really good at heart.” One wonders if she still believed this by the time she died, and directly experienced such cruelty. How did she feel when she got off the train at the concentration camp and realized people were starving and broken? What did she think when she saw the stacks of the gas chambers that killed her peers, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Jews? (It wasn’t only Jews that died.) This all happened in a civilized society too. It’s very frightening.

How tragic it was that someone with such insight and talent died so young. She was never to know that millions would read her words. If it was a fictional story, she would have survived. Sadly, it was a real story; perhaps, she went to a better place. Who knows?

The real tragedy is that people’s cruelty to each other hasn’t ended. It continues. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. Somehow, good does win over evil. It takes a while, but it seems to happen.

The best we can now do is think about Anne’s advice “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

How many have ever been to The Anne Frank House? How has her diary impacted you? Please share.

This woman at 109 knows the secrets of life


Even though this is 8 minutes long, it is worth watching. It will make you smile. Hint: she sees the glass as more than half full. It seems so simple, but I think we’ve lost that optimism.  In her day, she was an accomplished pianist.

She doesn’t live in the past. She embraces the here and now. That is also very cool. This was made last year. She is now 109 years old.

Tell me your reaction to this interview. What do you think is the secret to a long, happy life?

Where do you think ghosts and spirits hang out? I want your ghost stories!


Life is strange. The older you get, the more you are reminded that our time on earth is temporary. It doesn’t matter how important or unimportant you are.  Someday, you’re going to have to say goodbye.

The last uncle I have passed away. He went in the middle of a meal surrounded by friends and family. He was 97. The man was as healthy as a horse; unfortunately, his mind wasn’t exactly working right. He wasn’t aware of it and still enjoyed life. At least he happily died, surrounded by friends and family. I think that would be the perfect way to go.

I attended his funeral. It wasn’t too sad because 97 is stretching it. The trouble is I’m in my 60’s, so going to funerals makes me realize my time on earth is limited.  Most of my friends are still above ground with me, but I have lost a few.

After the funeral,  the family went all over the cemetery visiting dead relatives. I am not sure about this. I guess if you want to remember them, it’s a good thing to do.  I don’t know if there are spirits there or not. I’m pretty skeptical, but it wouldn’t surprise me all that much. I’m thinking if you’re a spirit you’d probably want to hang out at more interesting places. A cemetery is a little too quiet for me.

I like the idea of surviving in one way or the other after you physically die.  I mean who wants it all to come to an end? Unfortunately, none of my deceased relatives have visited me. I think the coolest thing would be get a light or sign. I’ve known people who said that really happened to them. People who are logical, intelligent and not the type to make things up.

My Great Aunt

When I was little, a Great-Aunt would visit from California,  and my dad would take her to a cemetery to visit her “friends.” I used  to tag along. My father would say, “she has more friends in the cemetery than she does in other places.” I liked looking at the headstones. There was a picture of a little boy on one of the headstones and he was holding a drum. I could count on paying a visit to the “Little Drummer Boy” when Auntie made her annual visit to Ohio.

So, when I go to the cemetery it doesn’t really bother me. What does bother me it that almost all the older relatives I used to visit in their homes are under the ground; it’s pretty surreal. It makes me realize I’m fast approaching the age my “old Auntie” was when we accompanied her on her yearly pilmigrage,

I just can’t get much satisfaction over looking at the headstone of a favorite relative. They just aren’t going to answer back when I talk to them.  I do it anyway because you never know. They just might be listening.

English: Old Jewish Headstone, Hull, East Ridi...

English: Old Jewish Headstone, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. These old Jewish headstones with Hebrew inscriptions are in the disused Hessle Road cemetery TA0828 : Hessle Road Jewish Cemetery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you think? Any good ghost stories?

The Mirror: A fictional story


Kelsie and her husband, John, were sleeping in her parent’s old bedroom. Her mother couldn’t bring herself to sleep in the bed she had shared with the love of her life for thirty-five years. It was too soon after the funeral. She decided to sleep in Kelsie’s old bedroom.

Suddenly, the sound of a deafening crash woke Kelsie up from a deep slumber. John didn’t stir.

She walked up to the big mirror that had been on the wall ever since she could remember. It had shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. It’s as broken as my heart, she thought.

When she was little, her daddy would pick her up and walk to the very same mirror. “Look at us,” he said. They would smile at each other.  He continued picking her up when she was old enough to stand on her own two feet. She sensed that her father didn’t want her to grow up too fast.

She liked the secure way she felt when he held her. She liked the smell of his aftershave, Old Spice, and she liked to rest her head on his shoulder. After a few minutes, he would place her on the floor and ask, “How much does Daddy love you?”

“This much, Daddy,” she would say while spreading her two little arms as far as they would stretch. Then they both laughed, and her daddy gave her a big hug.

Even when Kelsie was a young married woman, her father sometimes walked with her to the mirror. He gave her the same big hug, and they smiled as they looked at their reflection.

“You won’t ever forget your old father, will you?” he asked.

“Of course not,” she replied.

She wondered if he looked into the mirror right before he walked outside on the day he died.

He left his wallet, keys, and a note neatly stacked upon the dresser in front of the mirror. The carefully crafted note was in his distinctive handwriting. He wrote that it was the only thing he could do because he was afraid. Afraid that he would never get out of the hell he was already experiencing every day. He was afraid he would be fired from his job before he got a chance to retire. He didn’t want to be a burden to his wife or children.

His depression started when he knew he had to leave his job because he was going to turn the mandatory retirement age of sixty-five. His poverty-stricken childhood left a deep scar. The thought of losing everything opened it up again. He was afraid no one would hire him because he was getting too old. The fear enveloped him and wouldn’t let him go.

His family tried to think of ways to help him. How could their loving father and husband suddenly turn into a stranger? He no longer smiled. He mulled over every decision he had ever made. His wife took him to a doctor who couldn’t help him. Their only hope was that one day he would wake up and be the person they had always known.

A reprimand at work put him over the edge.

Kelsie remembered how it all ended on a hot summer day when a shot rang out behind the garage of her childhood home. A home where she always felt so safe.

She pondered her father’s fate. Was there a hell in which he was wandering for eternity, was he up in heaven, or was he just a part of the earth now?  Surely, God would forgive him. He’d done nothing but help other people all his life. He had never said one mean word to anyone. He was a giver, and a comforter. Everyone adored him.

Kelsie brought herself back into the present. She needed to pick up the tiny pieces of the mirror. She wondered why no one else heard it break.

A  white light appeared on the shattered mirror. Suddenly, the pieces of the mirror flew off the floor and came together in one piece again. It was like watching a movie running in reverse.

Kelsie smelled “Old Spice.”  She looked up in the mirror and saw the daddy of her childhood holding six-year old Kelsie. He had on his old white T-shirt, khaki pants, and brown loafers. Little Kelsie was wearing her favorite frilly pink dress, lacy socks,and  patent leather shoes. Her long brown ponytail was fastened with a shiny silk pink ribbon.

Big Kelsie tried to reach through the mirror, but the cold hard surface of the mirror stopped her.

Her father looked lovingly at little Kelsie. You are my precious girl, and that’s why you’ve been chosen to be my messenger. Tell everyone to forgive me. I made a terrible mistake, and now I’m sorry. I want you to tell Mommy and your brother and sister that I’ve  been granted a chance to see you all again one day. My punishment is seeing how much I hurt the people I love.

“Of course, I’ll tell them Daddy,” said both Kelsies at the same time.

The white light became brighter and suddenly she could barely see her father and little Kelsie.  Her father carefully let go of little Kelsie, and she disappeared.  He turned toward the light. Eventually, he became  a part of it.
Kelsie looked down, and saw a small piece of the mirror shaped like a heart sitting on the dresser. It was on top of the pink silk ribbon from little Kelsie’s ponytail. She found the heart space where the broken piece belonged. She picked it up, and pressed it against the mirror.

Two tears slid down Kelsie’s cheeks. “I promise I will never forget you Daddy. I forgive you,” she said.

The piece melded into the heart space.

She picked up the shiny pink ribbon and ran toward her old bedroom to deliver her father’s message.

Why are our 21st Century Heroes so narcissistic? The Tipping Point for me: Lance Armstrong


English: Arnold Schwarzenegger in July 2003

English: Arnold Schwarzenegger in July 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the old days that I remember, our heroes were strong, humble, and caring for others.  They did not make speeches about how great they were. This might explain why so many of us admire Barack Obama. The President

Lance Armstrong getting mobbed

Lance Armstrong getting mobbed (Photo credit: ShapeThings)

English: This photo depicts Donald Trump's sta...

English: This photo depicts Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

typifies old-fashioned behavior. He isn’t big on name calling, boastfulness, and he  loves his family. He’s not afraid to tell us that either. He also manages to appeal to our human positive side too.

In contrast to him, we have a lot of boastful narcissists continually taking the spotlight. It’s good to have a good self-image, but do you have to tell everyone else about it? Can you get outside yourself for five minutes?

Then we have members of Congress, who do nothing but argue and name call, and put themselves first. No wonder we’re all so discouraged.  If you ask me, they all need a good talking to about really caring about other people. What happened to respecting the office of President of the United States? People used to do that.

Media Narcissists

The latest media boastful heroes have been Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump, and now Lance Armstrong.

Donald Trump is the example of the professional “I am great person.” I think people are finally sick and tired of him. He is nothing but a bully. He does prove the maxim if you tell people how great you are, they will believe you.

I watched “The Apprentice.” At first I thought he was nicer than people thought. But, as time went on, I realized first impressions can sometimes be correct.  He operates by telling  people how great he is, makes them call him “Mr. Trump,” and basically sets himself up as a king.

He rewards the people who are the most competitive and cut throat like him. He fought with comedienne Rosie O’Donnell by calling her names.  He challenged the President of the United States  to supply him with proof of his birth. He said “if he does this, I will contribute to the charity of his choice.” Really?

Then we  have good old Arnold Schwarzenegger walking all over Maria Shriver by fooling around right under her nose. He’s another one who managed to convince us to see his movies and elect him Governor.  Why? Because he told us he’s great and people believed him. He is trying to come back. I don’t think he’s going to make it. I think he went too far.

Now, we have Lance Armstrong. A person we thought was admirable turns out to be a pathological liar and a  bully. During his Oprah interviews he proved that he has little insight on his poor behavior and how he hurt other people. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if he comes back like other people displaying poor behavior.  Personally, I’ve had enough of him.

Yes, I’m talking about Bill Clinton. A lot of people forget he was impeached for his bad behavior.   I wonder what happened to the girl he victimized. But everyone forgave him, and he’s more popular than ever.

Maybe one day, the tide will turn. Maybe one day we’ll get back to politeness, good behavior, and acting civilized.
What do you think?

The Harmony Project Singing as One Voice


The Harmony Project.  We are singing Beth Neilson Chapman's "There is no darkness."  Photo by Paul Feeney

The Harmony Project. We are singing Beth Neilson Chapman’s
“There is no darkness.” Photo by Paul Feeney

I’ve been in choirs all my life. I remember how happy I was the first time I officially belonged to a choir. I was in the 5th grade at Rowland Elementary school. I even remember some of the songs we sang for our program.  Miss Titus, our devoted teacher, would probably be thrilled that I remember the words to “The Erie Canal.”

I’ve been in many choirs since then. Singing makes me feel good. I like the social aspects of it too. It’s just plain fun. The Harmony Project, one of the choirs I sing in,  is something special. It’s a philanthropic group that sings and shares. Good works have been done in Columbus, Ohio, under the banner of the “Harmony Project.” We raise money, and get to give concerts too.

Choir Directors always talk about “singing with one voice.”  That is a hard thing to achieve. Sometimes, you have some frustrated singers, with better than average voices, over-singing. At times, what you end up with is  different voices, not blending at all. Sometimes, it reminds me of a competition.  If you have a skillful musical director, they won’t allow this to happen.

Last night at the Harmony Project, everyone was singing enthusiastically while they followed Musical director,  David Brown. In the middle of it all, I said to myself. Wow, this is a once in a lifetime moment. Stay  in the present, listen, to your neighbor, blend in and forget yourself.

It was one of those magical moments. One I’ll always remember. We were all one voice.

Members of The Harmony Project singing with heart and soul!  From the Bill Pearsol album

Members of The Harmony Project singing with heart and soul! From the Bill Pearsol album

Help buy a bike for a foster kid in Columbus Ohio: read about it here! : Another Harmony Project post


Teenagers sharing with People from the Unison Project and Harmony Project

Teenagers sharing with People from the Unison Project and Harmony Project

IF you are one of my followers, you already know about The Harmony Project. It’s a wonderful group that came into my life. It’s a combination of singing (a 200 member choir that performs) and sharing.

Today, we’re buying bikes for foster kids in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a social media event. You can give as little as a dollar, or as much as you want. A woman called the “Bike Lady” purchases bikes for us.  We’re putting resources together to give as many bikes as we can in one day. Join our effort. We know it’s a hard times and the holiday season. But, you can be a part of this. How about feeling terrific for a dollar or two? There’s nothing like it!

Here’s a letter from a foster grandparent

A letter from a foster grandparent…yes, even the smallest contribution can yield a significant return:
“I am writing this letter to encourage you to continue giving our young men the mental, spiritual and material tools they need to prepare them for a better future. The bike is a material thing, but it taught my grandson so much. He learned about sharing and taking care of something he cares about. Most importantly, he learned that people who don’t even know him care about him and other children. I remind him often to pass it forward when he is able. Thank you for your support.
Sincerely, A grateful grandmother”

I get absolutely nothing out of this. But, I’ve gotten so much out of sharing my time and helping. You can too!  Please donate, and if you really want to do a good thing share this over the web today. It’s just plain exciting and fun!

By the way, I intensely dislike  selling stuff or asking for money. I really do. But, this project has given me so much! It’s really a blessing. Now it’s your chance to “pay it forward.”

Trust me, you’ll feel good all day!

On 12/12/12, click http://www.harmonyproject.com/bikes    Here’s the link!