I Have A Face

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Something new and different you say? I’ll say a whopping yes. And when I tell you I have not had a regular face or clear scalp for 45 or 46 years, you’ll stop reading. Okay for you.

I began having Rosacea, Eczema, and Seborrhea Dermatitis in varying degrees after our third child was born. I thought maybe it had to do with perhaps the birth control pills I was taking, but I was not about to stop those. Not, not, not! I visited the office of a very well known Dermatologist and he prescribed, Doxycycline! What a dream come true. The drug helped with all symptoms and made them disappear. Baruch Hashem. “Thank God.”

I was happy with my new face and the results I maintained on the drug Doxycycline. After several months of avid use of Doxycycline, I found out that I was pregnant. Huh? I’m faithful to my pills and the doctor maintains that I must have missed a pill here and there. We ceased worrying about how the…and embraced having 4 children. We were happy. About the sixth month of our 4th pregnancy, we found out that we were expecting twins, who believe me, doubled the pleasure. Three and two still make five! Right?

Why are you writing this, you ask. I definitely have a reason and this is it! Doxycycline cancels out birth control pills and that came to light a few years after our twin babies were born. Oh me, oh my, so for many years after childbearing ages have past and blown away, I have tried to get Doxycycline prescribed and none who crossed my path with an MD would honor my cause. I have suffered with breakouts so long that I only see a rash filled, bumpy marred, pealing face, and honestly the constant itch and pain was depressing, until just last week…when a lovely new doctor honored my request and prescribed Doxycycline.

And you don’t need to know this, but I’m not worried about the pregnancy side effect.

I can see and feel my face. I can comb my hair. The turn around is amazing. Gone is the constant itching, pealing, flaking, burning mess of a face and here is me. The anxiety of how to face the world is gone.

The creams I have used can just dry in their tubes. BUT: The Big But!!!

How long can I take this medication? How long after I stop will it be clear? Whatever the answers turn out to be, so far I have had a respite and the respite has brought many new thoughts about freedom from pain, freedom to concentrate on other than misery of self.

Sincerely and with appreciation,

From my real face and me.

So You Think It is Yours!


We had our worldly goods protected by creating a joint Grantor Trust in 2009. We had one page after another explaining in detail what we wanted to our last piece of dust. Air tight, therefore, water proof. We have had several amendments and a Durable Power of Attorney over health added, but basically it should have remained the same.

We are acquiring a fingerling of land joined to our property as an easement. We feel that this is a wonderful addition especially because it allows us to step out onto a giant hill overlooking much of the San Fernando Valley into the Santa Suzanna Mountains. All of a sudden, now that the pile has been stirred, up comes something we did not expect in the next million years. Mr. owns the house. What? Yes, somehow when our house was being recorded, or perhaps re-recorded to comply with our new trust, the recorder, lazy bum, recorded only Mr.’s name and the last two words, which names a trust we do not, and never had.

I haven’t slept a wink. This morning Mr. says” Don’t worry, I will not charge you rent. You can still have your half of the bed, and things can go along just the same even if it is my house!” Ha, so he thinks. Oh, when the kitchen is a mess, and the house is dirty, whose house is it? I say his. He better live, I told him, otherwise I think probate is what you tried to circumvent in the first place and in the last.

We will get this all straighten out, until the next lazy bum records something inaccurately. By the way, here is something you may wish to check. We thought perhaps the Property Tax Bill would show names. It certainly did. Showed Mr.’s name and his last name as it is on the trust. Oh so wrong, Oh so disturbing that the names have been that way for so many years and no one ever noticed long enough to realize the error. All we can do now is have it re-recorded and hope the next recorder has had an extra cup of coffee that morning. Of course Mr. and Mrs. will be on guard!

When all is said and done, you are invited over for a glass of wine, and we will step out onto the fingerling of land and take in the beautiful lights of the valley below. Every time I go out there from now on, I will say a prayer for all of us, thanking all powers that make mistakes and free the error mongers, me included, from blame.

All is set in stone, the house is properly documented in shared trust format, and the fingerling property now goes with the house in perpetuity. Amen!




In quoting, I find that “The Term Empathy is used to describe a wide range of experiences.” Duh?

Also, emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling”

Here is where trouble comes. I cannot get into the minds and feelings of people up and down the street who diligently walk with poop bags for their doggies as they walk them. They have no regard for allowing their dogs to PEE all around our mailbox. Last time I checked I tried to take a photo of all of the dog stains, but could not fit them in. Dog pee ruins your grass, what little we are allowed to have in California. I know who you are because I can see you and your doggie through the living room windows.

I knock on the window and you jerk your dog and run. You return the next day and do the same thing. You and your dog are in cahoots.

So according to the definition of empathy, I am to imagine what you might be thinking or feeling. I’m sorry, but it has been two days of thinking about what you might be thinking, but I cannot imagine. When I do come up with something, God Forbid!!

So if you are an offender and you let your dog pee on someone’s grass, think again. Have your dog pee on your grass for a while and see how you like it. Oh no, you don’t like it, and that is why you have come to my house for peeing. Dang!

Too Old To Cut The Mustard: Really?


Medicare’s formulary is so restrictive. I even had to look up the word formulary to be certain I heard the pharmacist correctly. It is, an official list giving details of medicines that may not be prescribed to me if I am a person over the age of sixty-five, no matter the need. The age is the calculated risk. I may fall. That is all the doctors can say to defend themselves. This means to me that there is a list that is prescribed for me personally, without even seeing me, without studying my health needs, and the only consideration is that I am over 65. Also, you should know that I am grouped into a category with other men and women 65 and older that does not take into consideration my medical history, and my mental ability to use drugs according to the directions, and my ability to medicate myself.

All of the drugs that I have used most of my adult life to keep me upright have been taken away because perhaps I will fall. Damn right, if I cannot sustain myself, and you take away my sustaining recipe, I will fall. The only drug you have not banned for me is Levothyroxine, but you have decided to lower the dosage so much that I have to crawl on all fours to get up my stairs. How do I know this is your fault? I know because on my own, I raised the dose to my normal dosage for the past 25 years and 6 weeks later I am my old self in the energy category? Still I am considered a geriatric patient with no mind at all.

If I have repeated muscle spasms in my back, I will end up with a back attack if not careful. It happened and I spent 10 days in the hospital. I swore that would never happen again and it has not, due to my due diligence. I had muscle spasm pills and I made sure, with the assistance of these above stated pills, I never got in the back attack mode. The formulary has taken those pills away. I got them from an angel and have maintained good back heath so far and so good. Skirting the Medicare formulary is going to be life long as I see it.

If I had too much anxiety I would take 1/2 of a 5mg Valium and be on my way. No more. I get migraines less often now that I am older, but still they come. You took away my migraine meds because of its rebound effect and may cause dizziness. I counted on those pills to take away the horror and gloom of repeated headaches. I inherited them from my blessed grandmother D. Tell me why it was okay for the first 3/4ths of my life to get rebounds and dizziness and all of a sudden it is not. It is sickening to hear my doctor say that I cannot have my pills or he will get fined. Fined? What does that mean? Is that something like Big Brother is watching you? Sounds like a sham. Do I really want to give up my sacred pills and my sanctified life so you won’t get fined, Doc?

I don’t even need to think about it. Now that I really need my sleep, you took away the teeniest, tiniest pill on earth, Lorazepam. It is a mild anxiety drug with just enough power to put you to sleep. I have been without it for three scary nights. Did that little pill really take away the nightmares and the unearthing of the past foolishness and fears? I haven’t been this tormented in years. I terrify myself with telling myself things when in the past I have always be peacefully asleep. I feel burglarized and it is an inside job. I should have my continued opportunity at a good nights sleep, so, please, let me sleep. Give me back just one little teeny tiny pill. It seems that Medicare is saying under the table of course, you are “Too old to cut the mustard,” and so we will slowly and methodically cut you out of your heretofore life.

The last pill I had in my arsenal was a pain pill like everyone I know has stashed. Right? I think I can get an anti-inflammatory, but Advil is the same and no need to get my doctor fined over inflammations that mount as you hit the 65-year mark. I do not wish to be an advertisement for Advil and I think it has side effects, but what is an old lady on a restricted formulary to do?

Let me assure you that if I took one of each of the pills I mentioned everyday and perhaps together, that would be irresponsible and I might get dizzy, but I guarantee, that you as a person, should be prescribed on your need, your past judgments, and not a formulary developed by youngsters.

P.S. I just saw a movie that mirrored life, but set in the late 1800’s. Many of the characters were in their early 60’s. The actors got it right. They were hunched over, limping, coughing, had facial rashes, and died horrible painful deaths. I realized that we are living in a day and age of modern medicine, but when our society has a 65th birthday, they can’t enjoy its benefits because of something called Medicare and some words like restricted formularies.

Dear God, be kind.

Someone throw me some pills under the formulary fence and those that have, share!



Miss Anne

102 years old


















I was born one hundred and three years ago far, far away from where I am today. I was born on a line between Poland and Russia. The line kept moving and no one was ever sure if they were in Poland or Russia. So I just say far, far away.

Everyone always asks me what I did to live so long. You don’t put numbers in a hat and get the winning ticket. You just keep waking up everyday and add it on to your total. Everyone says it is my booming voice and that perhaps I scare my demons away. Perhaps I do. I just want to make sure you all know I am coming through, so I lift my voice and clear the way.

I was told by an old woman, perhaps my grandmother, I am not sure, to clasp your hands over your head so that your hands and arms make an arch. Be certain that you make this arch often. As you stand and live under this arch, this is where you get all of God’s graces. If you question anything, or want guidance, clasp your hands and make the arch and listen. It is like having a ready-made house of worship following you all the days of your life.

I never married, so no children. I have a niece and two nephews. I had a brother and two sisters. I had a lot of friends long ago and have many new ones now. I walk everywhere around the building, but stay close enough to see the way back.

Do not forget to say good morning all morning to everyone you see. Then good afternoon as often as you can, and good evening is my favorite. It sounds so elegant and uplifting. When I get to say, good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, I have lived another day.

You want me to give you a formula for a long life, well, let me see, I can only tell you to do what you think is good for you. I notice at mealtimes people have so many restrictions on their food, so how can I tell you what to eat? Everyone has a hand of pills, so how can I tell you what pill to take and which not. Some people at various ages can walk long distances. I can’t now and never could, so I can’t tell you how much to walk. I know I can tell you to keep moving.

I think what has saved me many a time is the arch built with my own two hands and living under the good graces of God. Clasp your hands, put your arms into the air and live!

MRI and MRA Back to Back


I elected to have both procedures back-to-back, one with dye and one without so I could be done, done! The Radiologist and the Neurologist seemed to disagree on what they saw or didn’t see, so you understand, I went back into the tunnel. For those of you who have never experienced an MRI, you are rolled into an enclosed tunnel with noises clanging constantly and you are enclosed alone without any outside awareness.

All is well, but during the elongated procedures I had moments when I thought I was talking to God.   I was alone, all by myself, who else could get in there? God! Oh sure, that’s what you think little lady, sure talking to God. Right, that is what I think. And for your enlightenment I learned God is inside of me, and you, too.

The world and all of my normal contacts were shut out. For these finite moments in time, enlightenments kept coming. I began to walk into a forest, dark in its depths; the sky was cloud, and mist covered. Drearily, I walk on in pain, dull and aching. Where am I and where am I going? Eyes closed, I continue with thoughts of my life as I remember it.

Eyes open, I continue walking down roads leading to cottages of unknowns, never to be known. Knowing I am gone from my world, not even a spot, a dot, a mark of any kind to recognize,I hold on to a sachet made of lemon rinds and lavender given so lovingly by two people with hidden faces, hair like my mother and hair like my father, gone long ago.

I am taken. Gently turned on to an unworn path, easily missed if not known. Forward, forward, forward into the woods Density. The trees have allowed no light to form shadows. As time passes, I fret. Finally, an arrival and the wait begins. Not a soul to greet me. I notice that this part of the forest has sprouted ferns. I wait. I turn in all directions. I am comfortable. I am talking to someone, but cannot see an image.

The voice is soft and masculine and feminine all together in tonal harmony. The tonal voice comforts and praises, advises and challenges, gives and expects. I lie listening. A hand is thrust towards me in a most welcoming manner. I take it, feeling instant gentleness as the hand guides me further into the forest and down a path leading to a sheltered building. The hand let mine go for the moment, and clung to handles to assist the double glass doors to swing open allowing me to see shelves and shelves of books, dusty and pealing. Next, I lowered my gaze and saw the room was over crowded with people in ancient, classic, and modern, clothes using various textiles and designs. It felt like it was a Halloween party without so much as a peep. The austere quietness offered me an opportunity to gaze undisturbed for moments on end.

A whisper was telling me that all of my ancestors; forbearers, present, and future were gathered here to wish me onward. Voices sounded in syllables, but languages ancient and incomprehensible, mixed with the understandable gave me a dizzying spell. Righting myself, I realized, I would live longer and be able to produce, endure, comprehend, create, and continue the entitlements of aging. I give thanks to the old souls who gathered together, if only for a moment or two, to wish me well and to share with me some wisdom of the ages.

One hour and forty-five minutes later, I am rolled out of the tunnel; I rose, climbed onto a step, dressed, tucked my secret adventure in my mind, and came home to share it with you.



Why is the discovery word, the word that begins an extension and exploration into how the word Why fits into your life and how can you use it?

This assignment was given to me by me, and is now driving me crazy. The assignment is to figure out what WHY means to me. So, here are my thoughts over a long percolation period.

Why did I lie?

I was sixteen going on seventeen and I lied. I told my parents I was going to the library to study. Instead my pal, David picked me up for a joy ride. I did not know of his joy riding plans ahead of time. He picked me up at the library and we drove of in a blast of noise and grind. He met up with his car club, and they were all revving up. We drove around the city in a maniacal way. I wasn’t scared, everyone had control, I hoped. Then, it happened. David was speeding beyond control towards the train tracks with the light of the hurtling train bearing down on the road we must travel to clear the tracks. Imagine sitting in the passenger seat, of a ’57 Chevy, train light in your lap and you flying over the tracks just in time to take another breath. I lived, obviously, thankful every day, not that I lied, but for the knowledge of that a lie can cause your demise and or the demise of another innocent. I lied because I didn’t know it then, but I know now, I needed this valuable life and death lesson to carry with me all the days and nights of my life and to be able to teach others.

Why, from the passenger’s seat did I give the guy on my right the middle finger? He was out of his mind with his antics, but I could have done nothing at all. My giving him the finger incited such a rage in him. I thought if he could catch us he would kill us. Skip, my driver and best friend, drove in and out of alley ways, scooted around ditches, handled the curved roads like a champ and spotted a crevice between some trees and a moving van. He inched in the hiding place allowing us to watch the enraged driver going back and forth, cursing, rubbing his nose into his forehead, scratching his neck, and eventually moving on. I thanked God and Skip for the safe escape. Have I pulled the middle finger trick since then? I don’t want to discuss it, but what kind of a fool who has escaped a possible violent confrontation would do that again? Someday I’ll tell you about my Thumb’s Up, Middle Finger gesture. It is fun and gives me some internal release. It appears generally proper.

Why, when I am introduced to an extremely well dressed executive, does my belly do flip-flops and my heart jump a beat? Why? Perhaps, I think he or she better, smarter, and stronger than I. Why do I feel people with all of those capital letters following their names are more informed than I? WE actually may share a broad spectrum of knowledge, theirs stronger in the letters that follow their name, mine stronger in having an “Educated Heart” I’ll share heart education anytime, anywhere. I have noticed people with letters after their names are strong in willingness to share.

Why do I feel lonely sometimes? There is richness of life out there full of people, places to go, things to see, but they are not coming to you or me if we just sit in a corner and lament.

Here are more why opportunities to ponder using the root word why.   Why not? Why should I or shouldn’t I? Why wait? Why not wait? Why now? Why worry? Why analyze the heck out of it? Why did he/she say that?? Why was my mother so shy? Why am I shy? Why do I feel vulnerable in one minute and then on top of everything in the next? Why and how can I be happy and sad in nearly the same breath? Why when something is misconstrued, do I look into myself?

I feel that when you study the why of your life you will begin to know, the what, the how, the when, and the where. Knowing these explorations and their outcomes can give you the boost at any age and stage. You need to create, survive, and nurture yourself plus all of those around you not only for the present, but also for the duration of your life. You will effect as well as affect your existence and enhance your lifespan. I feel that learning the why of my life is not over until I am over, and then, I will take all of this self-knowledge into the spot of ground I have purchased so many years ago. It waits for me as yours waits for you. Thank you for your time and keep on asking why, why not?

Would You Like to Win $25,000?


I had an occasion to go into my bank to make what they considered a sizable deposit. My banker suggested I return tomorrow to make the deposit because they had a hundred dollar deal starting the next day. You put in a certain amount and leave it for ninety days and they will give you a hundred dollars. I really did not want to be bothered with deals and do not usually fall for them, but I knew I would be back that way the next day, so what the heck. Also, I am not planning on using the money anytime soon, so I qualified.

The following day found me holding my check and entering the bank. I was offered special celebratory cookies and fruit. Oh how nice, I thought to myself. I sat at the end of a large important looking desk where I knew many of their transactions have taken place. I noticed that over the years, I have tried to keep a separate identity and feel secure in my dealings. I say this because in order to make this deposit, it is not made by me, myself, and I anymore; it is in the name of a Trust! I am in there somewhere I assure myself. I don’t’ even sign my name without printing the name of the Trust in very small letters so they fit on the back of this not really so sizable check. Such a big deal made with the signing, the $100.00, the ninety day clause, and I was thankful to be getting away. Not so fast Trustee.

My banker had another surprise opportunity for me. She asked permission to sign me up for the $25,000 Sweepstakes.


I said, “Don’t you dare sign me up.” Her eyes bugged out, her mouth turned into a circular lip formation and she said, “You mean you do not want $25,000?”

“No, I do not.”

“Why not?’

I informed her that I would receive ten calls a week, mailings I do not want to read, emails and new opportunities by the thousands over the years and besides enduring all of this unwanted bombardment, I was not slated to win the $25,000.

She rolled her eyes and acquiesced. I left the bank maybe $100.00 richer in ninety days and learned I will not be the winner of their $25,000 sweepstake contest. I drove my car into the Carl’s Jr. next door to the bank and stuffed myself.


The Power of my Pilgrimage to Uman


It doesn’t matter how I got to Kiev and it doesn’t matter what I did there. What does matter is that I was on my way to Uman. Uman? Why would anyone travel 3 1/2 hours from Kiev through the agricultural countryside of the Ukraine, hour after hour in 99 degrees with 99% humidity in a car that sputtered, spouted and stalled every 40 to 45 minutes? I didn’t know why I was on this road, but I was. I had no real idea what to expect, except for the fact that I was on my way to Uman.

One night about a year ago I happened upon a website that told of a gravesite in Uman, Ukraine of Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav (April 4, 1772 – October 16, 1810), the great-grandson of the founder of Hasidism. I learned of the wisdom and the teaching of this Rebbe and how his teachings have carried on for two hundred years after his death.   Rebbe Nachman of Breslov promises that whoever comes to his gravesite and recites the Ten Psalms of the Tikkun K”lali and gives as little as one cent to charity, will be cleansed and protected.

I became convinced that I had a calling to go to this Rebbe’s grave to ask forgiveness for the remembrances of the prejudices towards me so many times in my life for being Jewish and be absolved from my unforgiving attitude towards temple life stemming from the fact that the Rabbi would not let me participate in the confirmation of all of the girls in my class. We had communal confirmations in those days at that temple, not the modern day Bat Mitzvahs. I was called to the Rabbi’s office, fearing the worst and knowing this was something out of the normal; I crept inside his office with great trepidations. I was well behaved and was a good tutor for the rest of the girls when they needed a push along the path to our confirmation. Bar Mitzvah was for the boys and we, all of the girls, twelve of us were dedicatedly happy to be the first confirmation class in our temple. All of us were just turning thirteen.

We studied in an upstairs room of the temple and became best friends. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, we would bounce up the stairs, anxious to hear from all of our friends. We were in a time of our lives of pure trust, pure love and innocence. We had little social acceptance in our outside lives, but inside those hallowed walls we were one with ourselves.

Our temple was not an orthodox temple but held to many of their rigid rules. Women and children were delegated to the upstairs, and they did not even think of wandering the ground level. We did have to enter the temple on the lower floor and descend to use the restrooms, we helped in the kitchen, but we never enjoyed the full breadth of the lower levels.

I dawdled getting to the Rabbi’s office. He was busy with someone else, so I waited. I began to feel very nervous and knew something was going to happen. I picked at my nails and scratched at my elbows; the tic in my face went on a rampage. He finally turned his attention to me and paused for what seemed like hours. I could tell he was composing his thoughts, organizing what and how he was going to say what he said. His brows closed together, he started a low groan, and I began to sweat. My mouth went dry, my glasses fogged and my heart began to beat rapidly in anticipation. The Rabbi looked at me with such distance, such conviction. He said in his very thick accent, “Well, Sheila, you will not be confirmed with the rest of the girls.”

“ What? Why not; what happened?”

“ It is my decision that the cut-off date for confirmation girls is August 31st, and your birthday is September 19th. That means you are not eligible.”

“ But Rabbi, I can speak and write Hebrew better than all of them. I help them. You can’t leave me out of the group.”

“ I can, I just did and you will have to come back for another year. You will be confirmed next year.”

It felt like bomb exploded inside of me. All of the venom I had felt brewing, boiling, fermenting, in me spewed out in a blast. I yelled my childish frustration, “I hate you. I hate this temple.”

I ran from that temple and ran all the way home with tears running and heart breaking. On the way home, I was talking with God, asking questions I wanted answered, answering them myself, screaming out obscenities, not really meaning any of it, but feeling quite powerful by the time I reached home. My parents were pillars in the temple, and I knew I had some pretty big explaining to do. I knew the Rabbi would spill all that I had said and give my parents an earful of their obscene daughter’s mouth and her unladylike manners. I didn’t care by then, because I was never going back into that temple, but I also knew that I would be the best Jewish person I could be on my own without a temple. I knew that I was not giving up being Jewish or Judaism, just the ways of this temple and the decision of this Rabbi.

I began to think in earnest about my journey to Rabbi Nachman’s grave and wondered would I ask the Rebbe, if my parents knew when they moved to that little town that I would be the only Jewish girl anyone had ever seen? Did they know when they put me into school that I would be target practice for future anti-Semites? They had many clubs when I got to high school. They had band, orchestra leadership, the chess club, the radio club, varsity baseball, varsity swimming, gymnastics, tennis, cross country, varsity football, the letterman, future engineers of America, future teachers of America, future medics, future hostesses of America, but the club with the most members was the future anti-Semites of America. No one from this club had their pictures taken for preservation in the annual book of memories and no one from this club even knew they were members. Did I have any good memories as I grew up Jewish, oh yes, but I more strongly remember the ones that hurt.

Last year I visited Auschwitz-Berkinau, this year, after going to Babi Yar in Kiev and standing on the rim of a ravine where tens of thousand of Jews had been shot and allowed to fall into a common grave, I began to feel foolish for my angst over the prejudices I felt growing up in my small California town. Our temple consisted of families from eight neighboring cities. I loved my temple because it was the only place in the outside world where I felt accepted, loved, respected and understood. The Rabbi’s decision not to allow me to be confirmed with my friends temporarily tangled my Jewish mind. I was the only Jewish girl in my elementary school; my brother was to enter three years later along with the Rosen boys. I feel guilty that I needed absolution from a Rebbe that has been dead for over 200 years for harboring the resentment towards the prejudiced treatment and inability to cleanse it from my being. I reached a decision that, I could give myself absolution and I did, but the experience planning for and traveling to Uman to visit Rebbe Nachman was a turning point and a stronghold for my Judaism.

I signed up with Youth Hostelling International for the tour to Uman. I explained that I am a senior citizen, not a youth and they said they were available to all travelers. Remember them when you need help traveling. They handled some the difficulties traveling to Uman with ease, grace and with great expertise. I was picked up at 7:30 a.m. The car would not start. After repeated tries, the engine turned over and we pulled out of an alleyway in downtown Kiev heading for the highway leading to Uman. Luckily the driver spoke English, but unluckily he did not know anything much about Uman except that we were to meet a guide in front of the gates to Sofia’s Park. After a lovely, long ride through agricultural lands we turned into a parking lot, which faced the gates leading to a fairyland park with cascades of lakes, sky-blue ponds, fountains, grottoes, antique sculptures, waterfalls and six miles of intense walking ahead of me. The guide approached by saying, “Welcome to the park voted the most beautiful in the universe.” I was anxious to get to Rabbi Nachman’s gravesite and asked why we were here in Sophia’s Park. The guide stated that this was included in the tour I had ordered. I learned something in the Ukraine and that is when you ask for something and when you get it, it is yours. You go with the program designed for you and usually there are no deviations. The walk in the park lasted six hours. The heat was oppressive and there was not another tourist in sight. When the tour ended I realized that the guide was right, Sophia Park is the most beautiful park in the universe, and although I was spent physically, and was astounded by the beauty, I was especially pleased to learn that Rabbi Nachman used to walk in this park when he lived in Uman.

After a brief rest, we began our short journey to the gravesite. When our car arrived, immediately we heard Breslov songs blasting from speakers giving the center of this little town a festival feeling. The car was parked and within a short walking distance, I spot gates and armed guards. Is this Rebbe Nachman’s grave? Why such security? I feel safe. I didn’t know then about this village being the site of awful massacres of tens of thousands of Jews. In the late 1800’s, the Cossacks swept through Jewish settlements in the Pale, killing Jews, looting and destroying villages. I need not wonder anymore why there are armed guards. I was not allowed to enter the Synagogue that holds the grave of Rabbi Nacnman. I could not understand the full extent of what was happening, so I just held on to one of the bars of the gate guarding the gravesite and began to sob uncontrollably. I was sobbing for all of my petty dreams of being cleansed of my chains, sobbing because I had been denied my dream. I had traveled so far now to be denied, I am not used to being denied. A little old man began to speak to me in a friendly kind voice in a language I did not understand. He began ushering me softly to the side of the building. Nothing. “Nothing is here. Why are you doing this?” I asked. He just kept nodding and ushering me gently now towards the back of the building where more armed guards stood. He gave me a small coin and patted it into my hand. He opened my hand pointing to the coin several times. It was important to him that I realize he had put the coin in my hand. His warm hand was constantly moving me and guiding me on to his destination. He put something on my head and gained entrance for me to continue up the stairs on my own.

I climb the few stairs and enter a new dimension. Women. Everyone in this partitioned area is a woman. They hurried up to me, dried my tears and began to ask questions. When I answered in English, they called on one of the younger women to translate. They found out that I had traveled from California to be with them. They asked why I was wearing pants. I told them that I did not know and did not understand where I was going when I began this journey. Yes, I had completely forgotten about the orthodox rule of women being separated from the men during worship. They smiled and I was thunder struck by their beauty. Each smile sparkled like an orthodontic specialist had expertly crafted it. Each face was deeply chiseled with an artisan’s skill and the skin covering their chiseled bones was a deep rich color of the earth. They embraced me and held up the bank where I was to drop my charity. The guide and driver had locked my purse and camera in the trunk of the car and I was without money, or was I? I instantly remember the little old man giving me a coin. I fished it out of my pocket and it flickered and flashed as I put it into the box amid nods and sighs. Then, there was the reciting of the Ten Psalms of the Tikkun K”lali. I sat for long moments looking at the women lying across the shelf of the grave. As I know it now, there are two shelves coming together in a triangular manner, the Rebbe is buried beneath the triangular arch. One side services the men and the other side services the women.

Facing the shelf on the woman’s side and starting left to right, one woman had a folded wedding gown on the shelf under her hand and she was wailing and talking with the Rebbe. I could not begin to understand her words but her motions and her wailing led me to believe that something had gone terribly wrong with her wedding. The next woman had pictures of children, which she kept moving in a circular motion clockwise. She said something over each child and then moved the photo on as she spoke again about the picture placed at noon. Another woman was just standing there with her elbows on the shelf and her head in her hands. Several women were sitting towards the front actually eating what I would call chips. It looked like chips and dip to me, but I know it was just food I do not have words to describe. The pews were dotted with women of various ages and the children that were there never uttered a peep. When I stood to replace my book on the shelves, I heard loud speaking of words I did not understand until I heard California, loudly and clearly. All of the women moved aside from the shelf and my body was splayed out onto the Rebbe’s grave. I once again felt guilty for my petty problems with prejudice and was able to summon up the courage to apologize to those who have suffered the terrors and murders of their people, and I felt guilt for bemoaning the fact that I had been made to sit in the back of the classrooms and having been denied the wearing formal gowns of the Rainbow Girls and the robes of the Jobs Daughters. The girls who were members would come to school with photos of themselves in their magnificent gowns taken during ceremonies. I did so want to wear one of those gowns and be a part of those ceremonies even though I did not know what they preordained. Carol’s gown was aqua net and Winnie was so gifted that she made her own. They wore those gowns every week and seeing them hang in their closets, I would just melt with envy. The group leaders told me that I was not able to join Jobs daughters even though I had a proper Masonic relationship because they had no place for Jewish attendants. I do not believe that Rainbow Girls has a creed to ban Jewish members, but they did specify that you had to have faith in a Supreme Being. Although Rainbow is not a religious organization, in my hometown their Supreme Being was not one in the same with mine.

Dear God, I am sorry for not having stood up for myself and for not praying much earlier for all of those atrocities that others have suffered on this very spot. The women of Uman and the visitation at the place of Rabbi Nachman’s burial have given me answers to who I am, an inspiration and guidance to live and learn wisdom, plus gain a spiritual light to continue my search for a meaningful Jewish life and to preserve it for those who are yet to come.


An Experience with Recovery Therapy


I used to get the jitters once in awhile, still do. You probably do not get them, so, lucky you. I never know if they are coming, so I cannot plan for them.  I was hoping to work it out with some kind of therapy rather than drug myself into oblivion.  Going far away from home, or worry over the family is a time I have to work at calming down the symptoms of anxiety. Imagine at my age having anxiety. My life is nearly over. I should have been scared to death early on. Perhaps I was, and too involved to recognize it.  It was suggested that I try a form of therapy.  I believe it is written on my paperwork: Recovery Therapy. Recovering from fear I assumed. I made an appointment with a therapist.

The minute I walked into the door the “she” therapist handed me a box of partially used Kleenex. I said, “ I do not have a cold, is there something on my face, do I need these?”  She said, “Well you are going to cry and you will need them.”  I thought to myself then and there, no way was I going to allow myself to cry. The session began and ended with no consequences good or bad.  I did not cry and thinking back maybe I should have.

Miss K seemed like a novice in dealing with my meanderings. I was older and truly it seemed I knew more in some areas, especially the areas where I wanted to find some new connections.  If she had been more in tune, more experienced, maybe she would have been able to help me. Maybe if she hadn’t handed me Kleenex I would have been more open.  I thought perhaps I needed to go back to make sure it was not me who was blocking the therapy progress.  So, I made another appointment. I happened to pass a bakery on the way to my second appointment, so being the kind of person I am, I stopped and hand picked cookies for my family and a bag for the therapist.  When I handed her the cookies, she said,  “Oh is this a bribe? Can I expect cookies every time you come?”  Then and there, I decided there would not be a next time. She seemed so hostile.  It seemed like if I had the problem, I would not be an equal partner in my recovery. What recovery?  We are all recovering in some way or another from birth to death.  After such a traumatic thing as birth is claimed to be, I personally have no recall, the baby needs to recover.  The in between stages of living our lives is a jumbled mess of haps and mishaps, surely needing recovery. In death and dying, it all comes together in a big recovery experience and when you see the white light, “bingo” you are done.  Congratulations, you have arrived at the ultimate recovery. Your behavior heretofore has been structured and developmental, a road to personal growth, challenging, developing healthier relationships, taking responsibility for your actions and deciding to integrate all you have learned. Congratulations, you have arrived at the ultimate recovery and St. Peter is there to tell you, you are several points short, but he definitely appreciates your kind attention to the details and your dedication to recovery.

By the way, I just found out that my HMO is offering something new in recovery called Behavioral Therapy. You do not need to be referred.  You can just call and offer yourself up to this new format. Excuse me please, I do think I will pass, but I would like to know if they offer Kleenex and take cookie bribes.

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