The Wrath, the Dagger & the Mistake

The stabbing pressure of barometric pressure leaves me a cranky-puss.

I’ve heard a lot of complaining about the weather here in Chicago, and some of the complaints, even came from my own head: Continue reading “The Wrath, the Dagger & the Mistake”

An Authentic, Invested, Thanksgiving May Not be “Happy.”

It’s obvious that today is Thanksgiving. While the typical greeting on this holiday is, “Happy Thanksgiving,”  I much prefer,

“I wish you a MEANINGFUL Thanksgiving.”

Not that you’ve asked, but for me, the typical Thanksgiving greeting, reeks of a lack of inclusion of all people. It’s downright platitudinous. Do you really want to say, “Happy Thanksgiving,” to indigenous people? Many Native Americans observe this day, as a day of mourning or “UnThanksgiving.” Continue reading “An Authentic, Invested, Thanksgiving May Not be “Happy.””

52 Facts I Never Want to Forget About My Relationship with the One and Only, Gregg Helfer

One of my favorite human beings passed away one year ago and I wrote this piece one year ago when I was in tremendous grief.
I am grateful I wrote this the day Gregg passed, because I never want to forget the little things. There will only be one Gregg Helfer. The impact of Gregg’s presence on me, my kids and our lives, was profound and will be cherished always.

Continue reading “52 Facts I Never Want to Forget About My Relationship with the One and Only, Gregg Helfer”

My Love Affair with Lady Charlotte

Charlotte Lindon was as dedicated to tikkun olam as anyone I have ever met.  She was without exception, always thinking of others and of healing communities.  When I would schedule a visit with her, I would get more and more excited as the appointment drew near, because I knew we’d be like two excited kids playing in the “I love philanthropy” playground. We were so happy together.

Charlotte Lindon, 96, died yesterday. I am stricken with grief, but I am also grateful for the very special relationship we had for as many years as we had it.

Her obituary touches on her magnificence, but I am going to share some other things you might want to know about Charlotte Lindon. (Not the secrets. The secrets we shared will remain within me forever.)

  1.  Charlotte believed that her unwavering devotion to philanthropy came to her genetically. Her Grandfather, whom she never met, was all about tikkun olam
  2.  Charlotte periodically expressed that if she had one person she could bring back from the dead, it would be her Grandfather.
  3. Charlotte knew the reasons why I am so crazy about my own Mother. She loved hearing about Lois Klier. She also thought my Father, Mort Klier, was extremely good looking and “dapper.”
  4. Charlotte was fascinated by ancestry and became very interested in my adoption story and how I found and related to my birth family.
  5. Charlotte appreciated little things like when I’d drop off some blueberries or coffee cake at the front desk. I would only say who they were from so she wouldn’t worry about the source. (Once I left something for her anonymously, and that was a MISTAKE.)
  6. Charlotte would always tell me I shouldn’t put myself out to get her blueberries or coffee cake. After a while, I finally said to her, “Charlotte… do you really want me to stop because it’s so exhausting for me to get you blueberries, which are ON SALE at a store across the street?” She’d smile but never actually asked me to stop, so I didn’t.
  7. Charlotte LOVED living at the Vi.
  8. Charlotte was proud to be a relative of the first blind doctor, Dr. Jacob Bolotin. There’s a fantastic book about his story. Charlotte gave me a copy and insisted I read it.
  9. I once considered working in advancement for Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, because of Charlotte and the strength of her case for support.
  10. Charlotte would always push me to order every single course at lunch at The Vi, whether I wanted to or not. I’d try to slide by without ordering appetizer, soup, salad, entree, cold beverage, coffee and dessert, but she’d always catch on. What I really wanted on most of it was more salt.
  11. Charlotte let me help her. It took a while, but as time passed, she accepted my help. I was honored.
  12. Charlotte was an ENORMOUS philanthropist/donor and throughout our relationship, her donations increased by astronomical percentages. That was never why I was there, but it is how it played out. This is what real cultivation and stewardship looks like.
  13. Charlotte’s hair was gorgeous. I once got in trouble from a colleague because I complimented her on it. She was proud that she didn’t color her hair. She DID NOT have gray hair! I guess being that awesome has its benefits.
  14. Charlotte was always thinking of ways to improve the community at The Vi.
  15. Charlotte personified humility. It used to frustrate me that she didn’t know how awesome she was. I told her how crazy it made me, but she didn’t need to know how awesome she was and THAT is humility.
  16. Charlotte never wanted to be honored in a super public way. Believe me, I tried. She once said to me, “I’m being honored the way I want to be honored right now, in this moment.” I never asked again, because I finally understood.
  17. Charlotte hated cigarette smoking.
  18. Charlotte was deeply concerned with the volume of toys, media and other “stuff” children procured from their parents. She thought it set kids up to fail in life because parents weren’t teaching essential values. I agreed and agree with her.
  19. Charlotte was very tech savvy. Whenever she’d email me, the email would have different flowered and other nature backgrounds. Sometimes, the butterflies even moved.
  20. Charlotte loved shopping online.
  21. Charlotte read more than anyone I knew.
  22. Charlotte thought I was funny, complex and even smart. That meant the world to me.
  23. Charlotte and I talked about men and dating. Just because people age, doesn’t mean they don’t date.
  24. Charlotte wished I’d met her husband, Elick.
  25. Charlotte trusted that I would keep her private information private. At some point, she trusted enough that she stopped stating whether or not information was private.
  26. Charlotte resented the design of certain pill bottles.
  27. Charlotte had a phenomenal voice. She could have done voice-overs.
  28. Charlotte was highly offended by one person who looked at her cell phone while at lunch. This was something I had never done with her, and I was so happy I hadn’t done it.
  29. Charlotte thought that I might really make a name for myself at some point and I told her that the cooking spray had already proven that to me.
  30. Charlotte told me her life story.
  31. Charlotte really loved me and for all of the best reasons. I recently stated that I wasn’t really sure if I’d ever been “in love,” but I do know that Charlotte Lindon loved me deeply and her love was really more significant than any man’s love I have ever known. I loved her back the same way.
  32. I was so lucky to know her so well.
  33. Charlotte is also the name of my daughter. Charlotte, my daughter, was born two years before I met Charlotte Lindon. I am grateful I named my amazing daughter, that amazing name.
  34. Charlotte didn’t let too many people in but if you were in, you were mishpacha.
  35. Charlotte Lindon was a hero in this world, period. My short list is so short compared to all of the things Charlotte added to this world.
  36. If you are somehow moved to donate to a nonprofit of your choice, in Charlotte Lindon’s name, please go ahead and do it. This was and is her wish.

Charlotte,

Thank you for touching my life and so many lives. You and all that you are have left a legacy like none other. If you are listening, please know you did more than anyone to repair this world. Mission Tikkun Olam, accomplished.

I love you and thank you.

Pam

 

This Day and National Recovery Month.

I almost hate to put the anniversary of 9/11/01 beside National Recovery Month, but everything seems to connect somehow to that fateful day, getting real and honest about the impact of it, and getting real and honest about how we cope or can’t cope is what connects us to recovery.

Today, in the year 2001, everything changed. I can only speak for me, but as inherently fearful and geared toward sadness as I was before 9/11, the volume of my fear and sadness resounded at a higher decibel and with more frequency.

It still does, but I work very hard to locate a peaceful and serene volume and that happens almost solely by working with and helping others.

I am currently in my 19th year of sobriety, but up until this year, I had absolutely no idea there was a, National Recovery Month. Continue reading “This Day and National Recovery Month.”

Labor Day & the Workaholic

DISCAIMER: This is a long ass post. I sure hope it’s worth the read. Writer (me), cannot be held responsible for winces, sighs, eye rolls or chocolate eating while reading said long ass post, unless reader (you), shares chocolate with writer (me.)

I can’t be 100% certain, but I don’t think I’ve actually written much, if anything, about my propensity toward workaholism. I am already loving the delicacy (slight touch o’bullshit) of this post, as I just mentioned having a “propensity” toward workaholism. Historically, it’s been far more than a propensity, slight leaning or minor tendency. It has been a…headfirst into any brick wall, full-speed ahead, balls out, whole mind, body and spirit, life-sucking activity. Continue reading “Labor Day & the Workaholic”

My House is Crying. I’m Not. I’m in the Light.

I just can’t seem to cry, even though I keep feeling a hefty cry bubbling up inside of me. I’m pretty sure with all of the flooding, my house is crying for me, on my behalf, taking the place of my own tears. Clearly, my house is codependent, evidently in a deep depression and is in dire need of some intensive therapy.

While I am not in a deep depression, it occurred to me very recently, (yesterday), that most of my entire life has changed and though most of the changes are for the better, an enormous cry would do me and those who have to be around me, some good.

I may have to pull out all of the stops, and force myself to watch, “Terms of Endearment,” just to get things moving. I swear, that movie is like Ex-Lax for tears. I’m not even sure if it will break me. It’s like my tears have an ileus blockage.

Our new home’s ongoing flooding issues are ever expanding! It leaks, it whooshes, it trickles, it slices, it dices and even makes julienne fries. It’s a ruthless, over-achieving, flooding perfectionist. And it’s not just one area, or one level of the house. It’s here, there and everywhere. On the upside, the sound of trickling water is very relaxing. Also, it enhances your need to go pee-pee, so that can be helpful with water retention.

I am trying to stay positive and chipper, but all of this water in the house, at intermittent and unpredictable times, has jarred me. I’m downright pickled and feel like I’m in a pickle.

All of these issues have not been fixed, nor do I think anyone can figure out why it’s happening. Ted, my new best friend and plumber, is diligent about communicating everything he possibly can to me. Of course, I can’t actually understand anything Ted says with his extremely thick accent, but I do know for sure that he…

Haas kool on trock and sine and vatah ting in doh mahs-targe, so no bott on ya ne frah-men ja nvyente.

It was good to know that important info from Ted, but what about my flooding problems? I wish to God we had “Schneider” from “One Day at a Time.” I mean, I’m sort of like an Ann Romano type, but with kreplach and matzo balls instead of lasagna and antipasti.

Even without “Schneider,” my daughters and I continue to function fairly well under these tricky circumstances, but the combination of a flooding new house, new schools, new professional endeavors, and a whole new community have finally started to have a definable impact on me. I am tired as hell.

I don’t miss the city at all, which surprises me. What surprises me even more is that I don’t miss our previous home. I do miss my Peeps, but I also know that I’m not very far away from them, even though some of my buddies think I’ve moved one country further from them, than Yemen. (Or as my friend Kristen says, “Where Jesus left his sandals.”)

Just lately, I have felt a need to decompress a bit and actually relax, which is not one of my strong-points. Decompression for me, a single mom, is to get a bunch of things done for the kids, for the house, to try and be of service to others, grocery shop and buy a bunch of things that aren’t on my list, as I forget the essential items actually on my list, and to figure out all of my next career steps in approximately 18.3 minutes. Ridiculous, I know. Not to mention the fact that I so rarely remember where I’ve parked at the grocery store, or any store for that matter.

So, rather than my typical and ludicrous manner of decompressing, I decided to shmy around some unfamiliar territory. I headed to Lowe’s to look at lamps. I enjoyed my time there, was impressed by all of the burly men and things called, “tools,” which I knew nothing about. While I did not purchase any lamps, I was extremely interested in the blow up, 50-foot, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I actually thought to myself, “Surely this is in my budget! I need this. Where can I put this? Can the water from the house leak into this guy?”

After Lowe’s I picked up my daughters and we were off to Home Depot, in hopes that we could find some lamps at a reasonable price-point.  Our new home is much darker than our sunny high-rise apartment we used to live in, and I will always insist that we do whatever we can to stay in the light.

While we were shopping at Home Depot, I could hear my Mom’s voice… “You don’t need those lava lamps or those colored ball lamps.” No wait. It was my voice and not my Mom’s voice, but I was pretending to myself it was my Mom’s voice, so I wouldn’t seem so hard on myself.

We left with a lot of lamps. More than we needed, or was it? We had practical lamps, two lava lamps, two colored ball lamps, something called “The Party Bulb,” and multi-colored light bulbs. I believe in that moment and even now, we needed all of it. If I’d had more money, we’d have left with 18 disco balls and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

While we ate a dinner fit for someone without taste-buds, we laughed until we cried, I kept thinking about the water we’re living with, and the light we choose to remain living in.

I’ve made a choice to extend and challenge myself more logistically, because I know it’s far better for my children. This isn’t martyrdom, it’s responsible parenting. And while we all love it here, even with the leaking issues and the distance from the city, there is no question that I have to acknowledge the impact of these changes. I am feeling single motherhood like I’ve never felt it before. I’m sure my daughters’ father has also felt the enormity of this shift.

I would make this decision again in a heartbeat, even knowing that this house is leaky and I will have the kids full time just about all of the time. I know I’m blessed to have these privileges, but I also know that it is essential that I don’t lose my balance and then get lost myself. I’ve seen that happen to me with work and other things, so I’m keeping a watchful, dry eye on it.

I think that real balance and contentedness will begin once I have a really good cry.

I can’t wait for the kids to go to bed, so I can grab some popcorn and watch a “tear jerker.” It’s time for me to honor and take care of this need that seems so obvious to me.

Of course, I also think I would benefit immensely from purchasing a gigantic, inflatable, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, so it’s best for me to proceed with caution, but while I proceed with caution, tears or no tears, I will continue to choose to remain in the light.

No matter what.

Of course, first, I have to clean up the newest flood in my basement, but I will end with the fact that in addition to the flood I have to clean up now, I am very close to being almost moved to tears.

Almost.