Glad I Saw It: Reliable Sign of Spring

magnolia tree

I missed the cherry blossom celebration in Branch Brook Park again, but right next door I get to see magnolias every spring. Soon the azalea bushes will be aflame, and in May we’ll see tulips all over town. It’s almost lovely enough to make my sinuses forget to sneeze.

Want more magnolia trees? Two years ago, I made a mini-slideshow. And three years ago, in the days before the tree lost branches to Sandy, it was spectacular.

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Watching Someone Get Old is Hard

growing old grocery shoppingWatching someone get old and prepare to die is hard. It’s really hard. And sad. And quiet. The inability to fight the inevitable end sometimes makes me cry in the shower. Not for myself, but for my friend Esther. Not for me, but for Esther’s son.

For four years, twice a month, I have gone grocery shopping with Esther. And in that space between comfortable but not too familiar, I have watched her sight grow more dim, her hearing fade, her steps falter and slow. Continue reading

Posted in Parenthood, People are Good | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Superfecta Lessons from yeah write

I don't like cats. Much.

I don’t like cats. Much.

Oh wow. I just had an embarrassing revelation. I was trying to remember which kind soul brought me gently into the yeah write fold, and I was sure it was some talented writer who blogs; I was sure it was someone I admired and wanted to emulate. But I just realized, and I’m actually reticent about admitting this — I just realized that I came to yeah write for the first time because I wanted to win a prize. I wanted to win a new WordPress theme for a blog I share with my business partner, Anna Sandler.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying “Oh, come on now. That’s not so embarrassing!” Or maybe you’re congratulating me on my competitive and mildly entrepreneurial spirit. But really it was a lot more sneaky and calculated than that. Continue reading

Posted in yeah write | 28 Comments

No Drama, Please

photo copyI was reminded recently that we always have a choice when it comes to drama. Just because someone else is chomping at the bit to make a scene, or even to poke and prod a reaction out of you, doesn’t mean you must oblige. In fact, I’d argue that it’s to everyone’s benefit to nod, smile, and walk away. At least most of the time.

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or face-to-face, we’re far too used to spewing whatever we’re thinking. And really, much of what crosses our minds should stay there. Half-formed, self-righteous and self-absorbed, cluttered observations don’t need to see the light of day. And they needn’t cause drama in your own life.

Just walk away.

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David’s Shoes: A Mother Honors Her Son’s Life

-04e974763cc07984I first met Elaine Lane a year or so ago, and I was moved to see her gently unpacking dozens of pairs of shoes and set them carefully, protectively out for display. Each pair of shoes represented one of the young people under age 19 who were shot and killed in 1998, the year her son David was killed in the aftermath of a robbery. She calls the display David’s Shoes, but it’s for us all.

Elaine Lane is a teacher, and that’s what she does – she teaches. But instead of dissecting literature or helping students master the semi-colon, she works to help young people honor their lives. Inspired by a display of shoes representing victims of the Iraq war, this mother hopes that by sharing her own story of loss she will never see a pair of shoes representing the young people she has met over her years of presenting David’s Shoes.

Read more about David’s Shoes and Elaine’s journey here. And here is a fantastic interview with her from October 2013.

The David’s Shoes Facebook page has loving and inspirational messages about celebrating life and who we are. The David’s Shoes charity provides scholarships to students in need, and it runs art contests to help young people focus their energies in positive ways.

David’s Shoes is running a fund-raiser right now, and every bit helps. If you can’t donate, please help spread the word by sharing THIS LINK with interested people and organizations. Elaine Lane is Good People. We need more like her.

Donate to David’s Shoes here.

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Posted in Activism, Excellent Local People, Parenthood, volunteering | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Glad I Saw It: Bricks for Mischa

mischa kids helping kidsLast Friday my children and I attended a small ceremony in Watchung Plaza to honor the memory of those lost in the Montclair post office shooting 19 years ago. There were eight of us there, including the pastor and the post master. Despite the informal nature of the ceremony, I was moved, and I valued showing my children the plaque, reading the names, and explaining what the flowers represent and how we remember those taken from us. They’ve heard enough, between captured bits of radio and television and attending other events, to understand what honoring memory with action means.

After the ceremony, they ran wild around Watchung Plaza and I had a chance to notice details that I usually rush past during my busy days. There is the September 11th memorial on the southernmost end of the Plaza. It is situated so that commuters leaving the train pass by. And in the center of the Plaza, a moving tribute to Mischa, a young person with a wide reach.

Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Excellent Local People, Glad I Saw It, People are Good, Suburban Life | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

The Vicious Circle of Parental Apology

pouty toddlerI saw the toddler signs: whiny, eye rubbing, pouting. I saw the signs, but I still wanted lunch. And I’m here to let you know that there is such a thing as a free lunch. And it happened right in my hometown.

That afternoon, despite the toddler weariness, I took my just turned three-year-old to my favorite hummus and falafel spot. My toddler seemed game; she was excited to go somewhere other than our kitchen for lunch. We settled into our seats, greeted the waitress, and started deciding on lunch choices.

And then it happened.

Continue reading

Posted in Parenthood, People are Good | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Raising Voices: Lost Childhood Edition

Brandon Holt was shot to death by his 4-year-old neighbor.

Brandon Holt was shot to death by his 4-year-old neighbor.

Compared to the devastating gun violence in our cities, the numbers of children’s deaths and injuries caused by negligent storage and unsafe firearm handling is low. If by low you mean hundreds of deaths, and many more shootings that don’t kill — the types of gunshots “only” injure in both body and mind.

The thing is, negligent storage and handling are EASY to solve. Gun violence borne out of mental illness, loose laws, drug crime, racism, psychopathic tendencies, poverty, escalating arguments, and on and on is more complicated. But keeping guns away from children and following safety measures — not just parroting them — are easy fixes. There is no excuse.

Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Parenthood | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Flying Home From the Bus Stop

What is it about that first day of spring-like weather that makes us all so wild and crazy?Spring

Posted in Parenthood, People do silly things | Tagged | 4 Comments

Glad I Saw It: Dad’s Pie at Manny’s Diner

photo 2

And the apostrophe is used correctly!

My family had a very busy weekend, and we decided that a diner was exactly what the Daddy ordered for dinner on Sunday. Our foursome was exhausted from the day as well as daylight savings; 7 PM was already late for us to be starting dinner.

We stumbled into Manny’s Diner counting on the solid meals and  the consistently kind and accommodating staff.

Sunday’s server was exactly what we needed: kind, funny, experienced enough to know NOT to draw attention to the dessert part of the kids’ meals, and savvy enough to know that one of us REALLY wanted the berry pie that came with his lasagne.

With our kids, she was firm but kind in explaining whose dessert was being packaged up to go. When we got home, we saw that she had made sure her message wouldn’t be lost without the messenger. Gotta love when a server is two steps above and beyond!

Posted in Excellent Local People, Glad I Saw It, People are Good | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments