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A BIRDS EYE VIEW

A BIRDS EYE VIEW

Sitting at Siesta Key Beach yesterday, for the past week and actually for the past thirty five years frankly is a birds eye view on humanity. Or at least the privileged view of humanity. I mean I am not talking of Aleppo, the plight of Rohingya refugees in Myanmar or the humanity of people helping others after disaster. I am talking about watching the tribal interaction of families going to the beach. I have been an observer of this since I have been writing which has probably been since I have been going to the beach.

Watching family dynamics on a beach during holiday is like eavesdropping on the most intimate of life. Family dynamics, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, sisters and sisters and brothers and grandmothers having their full circle of conversations revealed in front of total strangers knowing likely that all will be forgotten as quickly as it has been revealed. These conversations will not know they will end in a story written upon reflection as I fly home after a full week of witnessing them. My words have become my version of photographs of their day at the beach.

I relish the self appointed honor because the sounds of their voices, their intonations, the rise and fall of their pitch are all clues to their seeming highs and lows as they make their way through the maze of life we call relationship. The way a woman talks to her husband as she navigates her womanhood as a new mom with one on the way, barking orders like she is talking to a dolt. I want to get up and point out how belittling it is as her husband, patiently for now anyway, doesn’t take notice. He almost seems ambivalent to her patronizing tone. Is he already tired of it and ready to accept that this is simply his cross to bear as a husband and a new dad? She is likely unaware of this communication style as she is probably just regurgitating what her mother did as she carries on full conversations about “put more sunscreen on her,” “take her for a walk,” “your turn,” and the constant desire to get more food and water into the little girl. Smoothiiiieeeeee? More fruuuuuiiittttt? Cheeeeeeesse? Every word has an upturn that is slightly irritating especially knowing that she thinks she is being the best mom by feeding her little girl this seemingly healthy collection disguised as sugar. They seem like a happy young family, but I can almost forecast the problems that will be arising in the forms of resentments because they lack the skill set in how to talk to each other. These skill sets come way after and more often then not it is usually too late.

Then there are the young lovers, snuggling close on a towel as their sexuality is ripe and strong I can almost smell it. Watching sexual tension is an opportunity to reflect back to my earlier moments in my own young romantic phase of the beginning of relationship. The parts we women yearn for as time goes on and the acceptance phase kicks in as we try to hang on to that original feeling. The gracing of a hand over another, the draping of a leg over a waist, a connection of two sets of eyes lying face to face on a blanket wordless in voice, but screaming out what is to come later. The longing a woman feels when she watches this and then simultaneously shifting to the comfort of her own relationship’s present day comfort. Knowing that the sexuality is only the start and is not the definition and learning to accept this without feeling it as a loss.

There is the witnessing of an argument between a over tattooed masculine energied thirty something woman with her mother who has that resigned disposition of yet another disagreement between two generations who seldom understand each other. Watching this reminds me of my early days at the beach with my own mother and the less tumultuous times between us. But unlike us, they plod along realizing that they only have one of each other and they keep trying. Donning their swimsuits and their beach chairs for another round, forever hopeful that this day could match the fantasy they have played out in their minds for this very day.

There are the tender gestures of watching an aged couple who have spent the day in the sun turning their chairs away from its heat, noticing her husband has fallen asleep and knowing that his left ear is taking a direct hit from the strong Sarasota sun. She gingerly lifts the towel up from his shoulder to protect his ear trying so hard to not disturb that wondrous beach nap that rests a soul like no other. I am almost sure they are European as I can see the man’s bathing suit is one of those tight Speedo type black shorts, almost Jack Lalanne like and she is very easily sporting a bikini. They both seem so comfortable in their own skin, like Europeans do and I am so sure of this that when I walk to the water for my third dip in the glorious Gulf, I peak my ear to confirm. Yes, they are speaking a different language. I could just tell and I am reminded of my expertise at human observations.

These delicious moments give me pause knowing that I won’t have that aging marriage and those fleeting points in time at the beach on a beautiful day with a husband of fifty years. There is a sadness in it, but also a feeling of relief knowing that I freed both of us from a relationship that had passed its time. I watched them thinking that though I may not have the time invested, I am in the right place with the right partner now. Watching them reminds me of how important it is to be with the right companion because watching the ease between these two lovely people is also my ease.

Birds eye view on all of the phases of relationship, the ones barely starting, the ones in their infancy state, the ones hanging out. There are the ones who sit there alone cherishing the silence within themselves. There are the couples reading books, there are the people who can’t put their phones down even on the brightest and most gorgeous of days continuing to look down instead of looking up and out. There are the ones who have grown gracefully with the acceptance that is part of a successful relationship and there are the ones hanging on for dear life. There are the ones that don’t even know the tsunami is on its way and they sit together in their vulnerability and silence not knowing.

As I sat there making my observations I of course imagined what I was seeing. After all I don’t know anything about any of these people. I don’t know which ones have just suffered deep loss, which ones are celebrating the joys that are part of the natural ebb and flow of life. I just add to the stories by my birds eye view as I sat there for eight hours looking at their outsides with my insides. And I can’t wait to go back and do it all over again.





moments at the beach in Siesta Key over the years in my travels.
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WHAT LIES AHEAD

WHAT LIES AHEAD

Remember that Seinfeld episode when Elaine went to Florida to visit Jerry’s parents and she slept in the guest room? The room was so hot she could barely breathe? This is what it is like sometimes at my grandparent’s house, I call it the hermetically sealed room. It is so frickin hot that I have to keep the slider door open to get some fresh air, the fan on full blast and a scant sheet on my naked body. Their house has been like this since before the Seinfeld episode came out, but that particular one gave it a voice and added a layer of humor that is always front and center anytime I go for a visit. In addition to this, when a door is left open in the house, a blaring blinking red light on the security that is in each bedroom in the direct view from the bed disrupts my ability to calmly enter the state of zen sleep so I have to get a piece of masking tape and about 6 napkins to tape over it to block its digital dilemma. The other security feature in the house is that every time you open a door, the door beeps in the whole house so the peacefully sleeping can go on high alert that there may be an intruder entering the triple locked door in the double gated community. I actually think that Seinfeld came to this neighborhood to visit someone and this is where he conjured up the whole episode. It makes me laugh in one way, but being with my grandfather after his 100th birthday celebration this week in particular, I can see the potential concern of all of this.

First off he tends to run cold so to have the ac on a low temperature would cause a chill that is not necessary. His blood is surely thinner, he is 100. He doesn’t get much exercise because he needs a walker to get around and getting up and down from the automatic recliner is about as much exercise as he gets in a day. He is also getting a little more frail, shorter for sure as he has to hunch slightly causing his six foot frame to look closer to my height of 5’7 these days. He sleeps a lot more surely, but he still has his two glasses of wine at five every night. He still has his dessert every night after dinner. He still bosses his caretakers around with that authoritative tone that commands attention like no other. But he just seems so vulnerable and this creates a new view for me of the man I love. That vulnerability, the winding down to the Now What?

We just made it to our goal of 100, the party, the planning, the speeches, the guests, the dinner, and I am watching my mentor wind down. To watch someone who has such a strong presence even in his silence, who has been my own personal commander in chief question his time left is certainly a humbling view. I have no idea what it would be like to be in the chair of my 100th year. The thoughts must be from that of a waiting perspective. I mean the pragmatism of reaching 100 years knowing your life well lived is behind you must startle your imagination.

At fifty two I am in the luxury box with the privilege of the window seat still deciding my future. My son at almost twenty has a first class view, as the world ahead is his oyster. I am in the place of thinking how many more years do I want to own my own business and where do I want to live? Do I want to stay in my little New England town or does the sun and beach and year round sundress and flip flop weather call me like the first warm beach day in Rhode Island? I am in the jumping off point. My son is in the jumping in point.

My grandparents moved year round to Florida when they were 66. They sold their home, the childhood home of my father and my aunt and uncle. Little did they know they would have over thirty more years ahead of them together in Florida. I love the idea of starting an entire next phase in a totally different environment. This is huge shift for me as I always thought I would buy a home and it would be the go to place for my son, maybe his family at some point way down the road. I saw my future grandchildren going into my pantry and playing with the turquoise phone and my vintage canister collection and looking through my art supplies to create something. I saw myself in my garden with a great big hat, cutting my herb garden and talking to anyone who walks by after living in my neighborhood for over a quarter of a century. Stability and consistency of a permanent address has been my personal mission for my son so he would understand that stability. Especially after my husband and I split up, this took on a new significance because I remember the upheaval in my young life of my mother always moving. My thought was that she was always trying to find that grounded feeling of personal satisfaction leaving my brother and I in its chaotic wake. The moving was the carrot that something better and happier could be found over there. Just like the notion that divorce doesn’t have to be as awful as my parents’ divorce was, staying put in a home just to prove that moving isn’t the answer to happiness is a belief system I am willing to release.

It is not true for my own life. I am happy. I have made constructive choices and have reaped the rewards because of the personal work I continue to do. I think I have hung on to the narrative of my life thinking that I have control. I have no control. No one really does. We don’t know if there will be a tomorrow or if in even ten years I will have my health. This is the pragmatic part of my life I owe to my grandfather. The emotional fantasy of my future lives and breathes in my contemplation of how I see it. But in all reality, my grandfather’s very rich life and I don’t mean the financial piece of it, but the actual meat of his life has been the compass in my reflection of these expectations of my future. If I lived to his life point, I have almost an entire full life ahead. If I only get the privilege to live to my father’s age, I have fifteen years. The potential span is immense and certainly we caught it early twice breast cancer is the now 36D in the room.

What I have realized on this most recent trip to my favorite spot in sunny Florida is that I could actually for the first time see myself down here more than a week. Certainly not for a full time spot, but definitely for at least a month. This is a new and surprising moment for me because it means that I feel secure enough in my own sense of self and this ultimately is my home. Home is me; home is where I am at any given time. Not in my address and my framed art on my newly painted walls. Sure I need this to put my head down at night and I am most grateful that I get to call my physical home the place I reside in, but where I live is secondary to how I live. This is what I learned from my 100 year old grandfather as I watch him consider his likely short future ahead and his very long life behind. If we only have 100 years and a little more then three quarters of them are the healthy ones, then how is it that we ever find ourselves living less than a completely fulfilling life? I am fulfilled and I like the notion of a change of scenery too. I have talked about an airstream, but that feels too mobile. I like the grounding of a space, an apartment in a downtown area or on the beach. The airstream is more about my twenty year old hippie self. I like a bathroom and a good shower and my kitchen tools. As I write this piece this early morning the day after celebrating Thanksgiving with my 100 year old grandfather, I am in the fortunate place of waiting for the sun to peak out so I can get to the beach and read my second book of the week. What lies ahead is as glorious for me as what has already come before. This to me is good fortune coupled with a grateful life and the knowing that I indeed have any choice I want because I believe this to be so.

Amen.


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VERY MUCH AWAKE. (the reading I did for my grandfather’s 100th birthday party this past weekend)

VERY MUCH AWAKE. (the reading I did for my grandfather’s 100th birthday party this past weekend)

I turned on my laptop yesterday to give this reading tonight one last go through. Along with the computer, I started up my surround sound music system and got ready to make sure that this piece was exactly what I wanted to say. The song that was my first guest was “What a Wonderful World.” How appropriate that this would be the song that would accompany me and my final thoughts about HERBIE HOROWITZ. Appropos indeed.

I am a fifty two year old woman who has a grandfather who is 100 and for mathematical perfection 100 and one day. You made it, grandpa.

Every time I say this familiar word, Grandpa, I am transplanted like I am in a time machine to my earliest of memories of my very large life growing up as Herbie’s first grandchild. I always add the extra word, favorite, even though these are my injections not his. After all we are all his favorites in each of our own way and this is one of the glorious traits of Herbie. He makes everyone of us feel like a favorite.

When I say the word grandpa, I don’t feel 52, I feel like his five year old granddaughter running through the factory and excitedly yelling grandpa and jumping into his comforting arms as he wrapped them around me; I am at Archer Street sliding open the well organized kitchen cabinets and taking down the jar of prized Macadamia nuts that we would sparingly share. When I say grandpa, my brother and I are searching for the afikomen at Passover and hoping that Herbie had just a little too much Scotch in the evening to pull out a 20 for the find rather than a 1 or a 5.

When I say Grandpa I am leaving as a precocious and somewhat spoiled 12 year old who would have the unrealized privilege at the time of an almost one month trip to Israel and Italy where I would meet Kalman and the Goldner tribe, our Israeli family since my grandparents first trip in the late sixties. When I say grandpa, I am 17 driving with my brother in my 1963 Volkswagon bug for the first time by ourselves on our own to Maine where Herbie and Isabelle come out of the back door and greet us at the Hydrangea bushes and I am automatically calm and at peace. This has been Herbie’s influence on me. Stability, consistency, calmness, knowingness of behavior. There is something to be said for these wondrous traits. 
 The list goes on and I am leaving off at adolescence. Otherwise I would be up here all night and Herbie would be shouting keep it short. It is almost impossible to keep it short when my experience as the eldest granddaughter of Herbie Horowitz is so rich and full. But I will do my best.

Herbie was four years younger than I am today when I was born and as I look lovingly at my son, Herbies oldest great grandson, Michael today at almost 20 he is the age that my father, David was when he decided to elope and subsequently 11 months later, I was born. The shock of getting a telegram because that was the email of 1964 must have rocked Herbie’s sense of what was right from not right. And I am happy to report that at this point, Michael shows no signs of eloping any time soon.

Life is like this though, the best laid plans of Mice and Men. How things are supposed to be is seldom how they end up. Becoming a grandfather at 48 and because of this having a span of great grandchildren from Ronan our newest member less than a year, to Austin and Helena our Kindergartner and first grade representation all the way to a college sophmore. Herbie has witnessed many things that I am sure were not in his radar or his best laid plans. Watching people he deeply loves get cancer diagnosis and unearthing the common denominator of the brch 2 genetic mutation were not in his plans. Surviving his son, David and his grandson, Michael, almost 22 years ago to this weekend by the way, and his younger brothers Bernie and Irving for sure were never in his plans either. Isabelle checking out before him was definitely not in his plans. “Your grandmother screwed me up” was a phrase I heard him say the last time I was visiting reminding me that the plan was for him to go first, but that would be Isabelle, getting the last word ultimately even on her way out.

I have watched his strength as he survived a stroke that compromised his physical strength, but his mind is as sharp as a tack. My grandfather is the one who gives me great pause in my life. More than anyone, he has taught me lessons I could never list on a piece of paper As I go forward in my life, it has taken on a sense of busy ness because I can’t help but be pragmatic in my approach. I am a realist on some level which would surprise many who know me especially my grandfather who thinks I have walked around with my head in the clouds as he has reminded me often, “Alayne, you are an emotional girl.” Spoken totally from an old school man born in 1917 who has different outlook on the way men think versus women surely. I mean think about it, he was born before women even had the right to vote. He was born to Russian immigrants who came to America so they could have religious freedoms as well as opportunities they couldn’t even imagine were possible in the early 1900s. He was born before WWII was even a glimmer. He was born before television was invented or before people even had cars or credit cards, movies, or stereo systems and records and rock and roll and headphones. Never mind the internet and email and cell phones.

Herbie is not the type of man who lives in the past though. He is my pragmatic grounding go to advisor for much advice that requires the removal of my emotions. When I had the devastating flood at my business he reminded me that this was what insurance was for. Oh yeah, I don’t have to freakout, it is not useful. His business advice over the years has been like getting advice from a Harvard business school professor. As I get older, I have found myself replaying its wisdom and actually listening to the majority of it more and more. This is the greatest thing about maturity and getting to still have you around, I get to take advice finally and let you know while you are here and very present that it has been good sound advice.

I have spoken about my grandparents since my voice found me probably at isabelle and herbies 50th wedding anniversary that many of you who are here tonight were in attendance back at the Gulf and Bay Club. Speaking at these events lots of anniversaries and of course the natural life events of eulogies has become one of my most cherished excuses to talk about the people in my life who have been the most influential. To list all of the lessons you have taught me is almost cliché at this point because having you for my 52 years has taught me by your example to say it aloud by my actions not words. My life that I live is so much the result of your actions not words and my deep love and admiration for its potent influence not only in the way I move through the world but the way I have raised my son. This has been mainly because of you and your solid presence in my life. I have said this often because I had such young and wacky parents who were like the anti advice sort. However with the swiftness of a bird protecting its nest, you and grandma never failed to show up and protect with an under the radar elegance.

Probably the highlight of my writing life is that I am here tonight speaking not at your funeral, but at your birthday. I finally get to say what so many people who have left us don’t get to physically hear. My father taught us this as he boldly went where no Horowitz went before when he (and I) decided we would construct an awake wake before he died so he could have his funeral and see it and be in it. This was a startling concept, but for those who attended, we were all enlightened. Even Herbie and Isabelle who as you all may imagine had many misgivings.

This last three years post Isabelle and post stroke have shown all of us what life is really about. Like a Dickens character being visited by the ghost of Christmas past, Herbie has observed the speed of light of his life with the replay of a life well lived. Herbie is an icon and is revered among anyone who knows him. If it is the truth that what you give out you get back, this would be what I have reminded Herbie of despite the health trials and tribulations. He has had the priveledge of seeing the showing up of the tribe in a non stop parade of visits and phone calls. Like the sun rising and setting, Bill Gadreu calls every day at 6pm without fail. Bobby who has developed a deeper relationship with herbie yes because of his personal sense of responsibility sure but more because of his admiration and love for him. This is because of Herbie’s incessant and consistent trips and visits to all of the people he has cared for and about since I remember. Weddings, funerals, births, birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversary parties and any excuse to keep in touch.

Patriarch almost feels garish to say. For a man who is not demonstratively emotional, his consistency and his ability to show up whenever possible, has been the most stunning example of a demonstration of love. Love comes in many forms and Herbies non verbal way of showing it speaks louder and bolder than 1000 I LOVE YOU’S. I can see this by the relationships he has formed with the wondrous women who lovingly and patiently care for him in the most intimate of circumstances. Brenda from Belize, Spritual tonya, the writer, nancy, the queen of nighttime crafting, and Anika the warrior aka bad ass anika who never lets anything get by her these women have played a significant role in Herbie’s care, but also in the ease of which we as his family have kept things as normal as we have known them to be in our continued visits and phone calls. Even though he has to write these exhorbitant checks for this care, the man who told me at 25 to start a mutual fund and an IRA (and I actually listened) is my role model for saving for a rainy day (which I don’t usually listen), these beautiful women are like family now in our lives surely. And fortunately for us, his frugality over the years have allowed him to live in his home with this personal care and we too reap the benefits of is financial prowess.

We can see this tonight with over 80 people in attendance. This is significant in a life well lived. His ability to form relationships and maintain them for a lifetime is something that facebook and twitter could never compete with.

There has never been a shortage of love induced language around, towards, above and below you. An omnipresent force in my entire life and if I dare to live to your benchmark I am at the half way point. It is hard to imagine living an entire one of my lives again yet life is like this, the speed of light, a speck on the planet and it is what we do with that speck that ultimately matters.

This is Herbie. More than anyone in my life. This is my grandfather. The largest speck I know surely.

Herbie Horowitz born in 1917 and is now 100 years and four days and counting. (and oh btw he has an older sister, Helen who just turned 102 and yes she still lives on her own)
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BOOBS AND BUSY-NESS

BOOBS AND BUSY-NESS

Breast cancer diagnosis gives a super busy chick like me that much needed often not taken break from the busy. At least that is what I thought when I got the first diagnosis. A time to reflect, to stop the running around, to contemplate.

Wrong. Super wrong. As a matter of fact, the surprise for me is the opposite. Of course I took the time to heal and rest; this was a no brainer and was not difficult. I like to have an excuse to lie around and read and write and sleep. But what I noticed after the first time and subsequently this last time was the sense of urgency this whole shebang has created for me. Sometimes I feel like there is no time to get all of the items on my list done. I am not talking about the day to day minutia of list making. I am speaking of the big bad ass bold ideas that germinate on a daily basis, half of which barely come to fruition. This is the entrepreneurial gift though that I inherited from my father and my grandfather. The ideas, the flow, the energy of it all and I wouldn’t change my busy brain for anything because entrepreneurialship is what drives my course. It is my vehicle of choice in my life and I am never bored by its wisdoms and its lessons. There are far more rewards then disappointments because every single thing that happens is a proverbial lesson.

Owning a business and having breast cancer though has given me a big pause as I have been able to look through the scope with a different set of lenses. Those lenses are the ones that say, ‘what is the point here,’ ‘what is the end result I am looking for,’ ‘why do I do this every day’ and ‘what is the long term answer to all of this work?’ It honestly never occurred to me that I would be at the sixteen year mark in my business and be as excited as I was at day one looking ahead. The difference is that this time looking out at the next sixteen years, I will be 68. When I last looked, I was a very naïve 35 year old and 16 years looked as far away as Christmas looks to a five year old. Why is it that when we get into our fifties and beyond, time feels like it is accelerating? Days are flying by, never mind seasons and years. Add to this the unfortunate diagnosis of cancer and brch 2 genetic mutations and the acceleration machine seems to be at warp speed. There is just something that has happened in me that has created a non stop sense of urgency to get shit done. And I was already a get shit done kind of gal. The difference is that now I only want to get the shit done that is super important and feeds my open and responsive soul.

The phrase SHIT HAPPENS has transformed into DEATH HAPPENS and I don’t mean this in a somber light. I mean this solely in the pragmatism passed down to me from my soon to be 100 year old grandfather, the most pragmatic man I know. He has witnessed the speed of light of his life like the Scrooge character being visited by the ghost of Christmas past with the replay of a life well lived. I have watched his strength as he lost his wife of 71 years, went on a few dates even after my grandmother died, then had a stroke that he survived and though it compromised his physical strength, his mind is as sharp as a tack. My grandfather is the one who gives me great pause in my life. More than anyone, he has taught me lessons I could never list on a piece of paper and he is the only other person who has witnessed the depths of despair I have felt in losing the people we have loved who we have been closest to. As he gets ready to celebrate his 100 years and people say to me that I have good genes, I don’t really believe this to be true only because of the rest of my family and their young loss.

As I go forward in my life, it has taken on a sense of busy ness because I can’t help but be pragmatic in my approach. I am a realist on some level which would surprise many who know me especially my grandfather who thinks I have walked around with my head in the clouds as he has reminded me often, “Alayne, you are an emotional girl.” Spoken totally from an old school man born in 1917 who has different outlook on the way men think versus women surely. I mean think about it, he was born before women even had the right to vote. He was born to Russian immigrants who came to America so they could have religious freedoms as well as opportunities they couldn’t even imagine were possible in the early 1900s. He was born before WWII was even a glimmer. He was born before television was invented or before people even had cars or credit cards, movies, or stereo systems and records and rock and roll and headphones. Never mind the internet and email and cell phones.

So when I say DEATH HAPPENS, I don’t mean this in the dark way it may read. As of today, LIFE IS VERY MUCH HAPPENING, but the cancer that runs through my family line up down and side to side has reminded me to consider the time I have on an almost moment to moment basis. Whereas I may have taken my days for granted a little more often prior to BC (breast cancer) round 1, I now don’t feel as privileged to do so. Perhaps that is just an age thing, but I also think it is the breast cancer thing. So much to do so little time.

The funny aspect of this experience I have learned is how much self-importance I used to think I had and I don’t anymore. I would say that if a gift were to be received from this shitty experience, it would be the removal of the cape I used to annoint myself with. That cape has been packed away in a trunk for my grandchildren to play with in jest if I am ever blessed to have any. The depth of who I have become has been rewarding for me and me alone. I have realized that my new boobs that now grace my upper body remind me daily by their tight squeeze that I am who I am and I like my busy self. My great grandfather Joe, Herbie’s father with a very heavy Russian accent used to say, “Oy your ‘sqveezin’ me too tight,” every time I hugged him. The tightness that is now part of my new upper body reminds me of that hug in a way. Despite the occasional discomfort of its pull, a tight hug is a nicer way to change the vibe. We all need hugs and surely I get one every minute of every day with this new set of 36Ds that proudly stand straight out like Wonder Woman or those fabulous pinup photos women wore with those Playtex bras of the fifties.

Death will happen when it is supposed to, but in the meantime, Life is happening and as pragmatic as I can be thanks to my grandfather, I am ultimately an emotional girl who very much enjoys the ride without the cape.



a family photo taken in 1927, the man in the upper right corner is my great father joe horowitz, my grandfather is the young man in front row in the center, herbie at 10 and now above is herbie at almost 100 never too old to learn how a pair of turquoise bose headphones sound with the Barry Sisters singing their Yiddish tunes.
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LOOKING UP AND WITHIN

LOOKING UP AND WITHIN

Catchy phrases surround me. Almost everywhere I look I have some positive quote or reminder that I am indeed ok. I am loving and loveable. The universe provides exactly what I need at all times. Life loves me and I love life. Just for Today Alanon mantras are also part of this collection that abounds. I get them on my phone from a group of fellow Alanon women, I eagerly forward them to my dear friends hoping to add a little inspiration to their day. I receive them back and the exchange of these positive mantras is endless and often appreciated. When people come into my home or my business, they comment on these quotes and the general feel this good energy provides as they work their way through the maze of their day. With the quantity of these one liners, there should always be a smiley face looking back at me in the mirror. The mirror, by the way, has these quotes and prayers reminding me to wake up with a big heart-full of gratitude in case I forgot when I was getting my sleep the night before.

These quotes that I have been bathing in since I discovered Louise Hay when I was about 22 have been a parental force in my life. Louise Hay wrote many books, but my go to self help and self awareness favorite of all time was You Can Heal Your Life. This book changed my compass and allowed me the notion at this tender age to realize that my thoughts are powerful and that I actually choose them. What I think affirms what I think and therefore often affirms outcome. This was a big concept for a 22 year old very damaged young woman trying to find her way in the world with zero parental support since she was fifteen. Little did I know that this lack of foundation in my early teen years would follow me and many of my choices as I navigated onward.

Typical of 22 year olds, I thought I had it figured out after I read this one book. I then went on to discover Wayne Dyer, Your Erroneous Zones, Expressive Arts Therapy, herbal tinctures and a loose aromatherapy understanding. I also started reading books on nutrition well before the phrase Clean Eating was coined. I moved in with a man who showed stability and love and of course typical of youth and dysfunction, thought that at 24, this would be a good time to get my wild self grounded and get married. I loved being married. The notion of playing house for real, for mimicking what I remember about my own house when the appearances were those of stability and happiness. Before I learned the truth which was I had two parents who were basically bullshitting their children and really weren’t very happy with each other or themselves. Living a lie in front of your children is not a very successful formula for raising healthy ones. Though I had a very materially stable life and was well provided for, the emotional trauma of having a mother who really never liked me continues to this day in my interactions with people I am close to and people who I have employed. It is a constant job to supply myself with the necessary armor to not personalize every single thing.

For the most part I have overcome the washing machine head as I heard someone say at an Alanon meeting. But sometimes it sneaks up on me and takes over my brain like a mutiny and I am always surprised by its force in my head. Usually it is equated with a few items I can quickly check off the list so as to remind myself that I am not losing it. I can replay the sugar intake, or the four days of red wine, or the not exercising for a few days or look up the timing of mercury being in retrograde to quickly understand the spinney head. This always brings relief to me as I know that I am ok. I have done THE WORK. I never stop doing THE WORK. And I know exactly what I need to do to get back on the yellow brick road path back to home where I started rather than the quick slide down the rabbit hole to the dark abyss.

The full moon, this past full moon as a matter of fact coupled with a very stressful month in October put me into a bit of a tailspin though and I had to come to some sort of reality check or I was on my way to a health crisis for sure. I had such a great time hiking in nature in the middle of this otherwise stressful past month which gave me a taste of what astounds and grounds me. And as I had a quick visceral reactive response to a seemingly innocent conversation I had with my partner and blasted off to the gym for a serious grind on the treadmill, I realized that there was more to this then I had given any credit for. Funny how innocent conversations can trigger, but when you do THE WORK like I have done, those triggers often create a self awareness that easily brings me off the ledge and into a speedy lotus pose. So as I was blasting sprints on the treadmill escaping from my chatterhead the epiphanies began at the speed of light. My realization about the giving of myself outwardly came to my radar as I considered that since my first breast cancer diagnosis in March of 2015, I have mostly gone and been outward in my world. This coupled with my perpetual work on deep rooted abandonment issues that have permeated my life made for a recipe of wonder. No wonder I was feeling angst. I have not allowed myself the boundaries necessary to go within. I am so busy running to workouts, yoga, going to dinner, organizing parties and saying yes to almost everything coming at me, coaching my team, loving my partner and trying to stay conscious in my relationship with him so we can continue to reap the benefits of this solid and joyful union, that I have forgotten my insides. I realized that if I took just a small amount of the love and energy I put out there and kept some for me turning it back inside this would be something. Actually it is a foreign concept. Sure I have meditated and gone for contemplative walks, but usually I am trying to rally the female forces and get them to open their hearts to the abundance of light.

So I realized as I was burning it up on the treadmill that it was time to take better care of my inside self. Let alayne white take a break and invite alayne to her own party for a change. So I met my partner for lunch and asked him for the consideration of some alone time so that I could make sure that I was capable of caring for myself as much as I cared for the rest. This may seem like a fairly reasonable request, but for me it was so difficult to ask for this without feeling like I may be causing some unnecessary but real feelings of abandonment. This means that when we could be eating dinner together and sharing company I was consciously asking to be alone. Not forever just for a few days to contemplate myself. To engage my soul and reconnect with my spiritual centeredness. To ask for this small request was a huge obstacle I needed to overcome as I had to feel safe and loved in the ask and though I do feel this whole heartedly, it still strange to take the risk. This is THE WORK. The little heart palpitation in asking for something that I know I need to grow and be a more evolved woman for myself and overcoming that anyway. Like going hiking on a trail and still going despite my fear of getting lost. I needed to get lost in my ownself and feel that feeling.

Last night I started to have that feeling of what the fuck alayne, how can I miss dinner with my love? Life is short, drive over, but instead I leaned into having dinner alone and consciously being with myself. I went for a walk to the water and sat and looked at the moon and the stars. I felt the wind travel through my skin and my hair and my lungs. I took deep meditative breaths and felt a reconnection with my spirit that I have for some reason neglected. I think in all of this madness I call breast cancer, breast reconstruction, business owning, brca2 discoveries, losing my brother, father, grandmother and aunt, son going to college, divorce, leaving a marriage and a home of 20 years, breaking up the family, having a flood, buying a magic kingdom and having a mother who asks you to never contact her again because of some silly excuse to be pissed off has had its toll on me and in my effort to plow ahead, I have forgotten to go through the full grieving process.

The only analogy I can give it is when you are a caregiver for someone who is dying and your full day to day experience is this care, when they finally leave you, you have so much time to consider all of a sudden. You realize that the time you spent caring was a necessary distraction and part of the grieving process, but only the beginning of it. The rest comes after the funeral. And that is the part that is the hardest because it is the part that is the discipline in going within and allowing that to be your distraction. Grief comes in all forms and there are surely levels of it all, but the process of grieving is necessary and the only way around it is through it. So as I take some time to be in a relationship with myself to make sure that I in fact like myself enough, I challenge my core. Thankfully I have a partner who totally gets this. He allows me the space I need to understand and move through this next part of my experience of putting all of this world of cancer to rest and seeing who I have become because of it. I will look up more often this next few days and I will look within. After all it is the within that is the seed of most fruit, that precious life force that has all of that delicious energy that makes the whole fruit sweeter, or bigger or more flavorful depending on how it was grown in the first place. We often throw away the seeds or compost them. I am always amazed what sprouts from my compost pile when I just innocently throw the seeds in there for their part in the pile. I always get a surprise and in this travel back inward, I too am getting those sprouts. Just from paying attention.

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THE SCALE

THE SCALE

“You can get on the scale or you can tell me what your weight is and I can write it down,” the lovely medical assistant chirped as I got ready for my umpteenth doctor’s appointment in the past three years. Ahhh. The scale. The fucking scale. I loved her immediately for the ‘choice,’ but we all know that we women love to torture ourselves with the occasional dictator of our self worth for the day- the scale. I am not really serious, but kind of. The scale has been part of my love hate journey for most of my life and I have learned in the last three years to give myself a major scale-cation. So much so that I have removed it from my bathroom. I barely get on it when I have the opportunity to which is daily since there is one at every turn at the gym I go to, tempting my fate.

What is it about the scale? Why is it that I feel better than I have ever felt? I easily fit into a size eight pant and am now sporting a 36D upper half thank you very much. (cancer has to have some benefit). But it’s like the scale is the ultimate proof that I feel as good as I do. I knew that if I got on that scale yesterday it was not going to give me the number that would have made me feel good, but the temptation that I outwitted its power with my desired number was too much to ignore. So I took the bait and took off as much of my clothing as seemed reasonable (we all know that the Lululemon yoga pants I was wearing had to have weighed at least 5 pounds, right?) It would have been too bizarre to take them off for a breast exam- drats why wasn’t this my annual pap smear appointment? See the craziness that goes on and I have done the work. I am a bright woman who most often accepts myself for who I am. I get body image and self sabotage, but the scale continues to torment even the most grounded of women. So there I stood in my doctor’s appointment with the choice- to step on or to not. I mean I am still really swollen as my plastic surgeon reminded me of at my other Dr. appointment last week (aka Dr. Hottie, also known as the amazing Dr. Michaud for those out there who need a stellar breast reconstruction referral). As a matter of fact, he reminded me that I will be swollen for a full three months. And that I won’t be totally healed for a full year. No shit. My deep intellect absolutely knows this and I feel so great that I actually keep forgetting that I AM STILL HEALING. The scale is bullshit. I know this. So the choice to get on should have made a self-aware chick like me who likes herself run for the hills or jump on anyway and say FUCK THE NUMBER.

I got on and held my breath and as usual the scale didn’t let me down. It is my most loyal enemy never giving me the number I think it should. The number that would reflect how I feel inside, the number I see when I see my reflection back in the mirror. That number, the number that it should be is never the number that it is and for all of my hard work at the gym and in the kitchen, it still continues to be unforgiving. I don’t know why we think this silly number should define our day. Isn’t it all so crazy? I am not alone. Almost every woman I know has a love mostly hate relationship with the scale and their weight. It is never the weight we want. I have learned or rather taught myself to accept my body with love and admiration.

This has been a learned and honed in skill because I was raised by women who were always dieting. Weight Watchers was their go to diet and back then it was lots of broth, lots of baked chicken and salads. I was raised by women who felt that exercise was a chore and the enemy. The notion that exercise could actually be a joy and something to look forward to was a foreign one and I know that I have overcome this. I have overcome my relationship with food and all of its negative energy that my grandmother and my mother taught me inadvertently because of their language around it. Eating, starving themselves with diet type food and simultaneously having a freezer full of homemade ice cream parfaits lined up like soldiers. Mixed messages? Check.

The conversations women have with themselves as it relates to the scale are those weird hidden conversations we casually mention jokingly to each other in our occasional self-defacing commentary. They are deeply ingrained in our beings because of so many darts coming at us telling us the shoulds and coulds of how we are supposed to be, look, think, feel. One minute there is an ad on television for a diabetes pharmaceutical and the next minute is an ad for chocolate cake, usually a woman looking like she is having sex as she devours the gooey mass. This ad follows with another one about feeling depressed and of course a pharma solution to that. There are so many body, weight and diet messages coming at us that it is one big pile of confusion and the scale is our loyal companion. It is not helpful that the archaic BMI chart telling us how obese we are based on weight and height hangs glaringly over the scale at every turn. As I have found myself a regular participant in weekly and monthly doctor’s appointments these tools are taunting and not helpful. These charts never consider that muscle weighs more. This chart doesn’t take into consideration the silicone implants that now reside in my upper body. I mean isn’t it bad enough that I had to acclimate myself to this new normal of over the top frequency of doctor’s appointments? I have had to get used to looking at this new body staring back at me and find myself getting fitted for 36D mega support bras at Ruth’s in Cranston. Even though everyone tells you you won’t have to ever wear a bra again, the jiggle factor I now have with these new implants has created a psychological mindfuck. The first time I went to work out it felt like my breast was going to move into my underarm or land in my neck somewhere. As I write all of this, our beloved country seems to be unraveling with hurricanes and terrorist attacks and indictments. This of course puts all of this silly dialogue with the scale and the world of body image into perspective. The idea that I am even speaking about this as a unique topic is almost embarrassing.

As I got off the scale waiting for her to take my blood pressure, (kind of funny they take your blood pressure after the scale) I took a look at the monster I just let send my spirit down the rabbit hole and commented on its antiquity. The contraption looked like it has been there since the office inception or was pulled out of some kind old Doctor’s office who had retired back in the fifties. “Wow that scale is a vintage,” I commented to the medical assistant who had kindly given me the choice I chose to ignore. “Yes, I can’t stand that scale, it is always about five pounds heavier,” she said.

Now she tells me. Sigh.