Two very happy couples share their secrets in honor of Valentine’s Day!
Remember to Live Passionately and Vulnerably!….
Two very happy couples share their secrets in honor of Valentine’s Day!
Remember to Live Passionately and Vulnerably!….
Featured on Huffington Post!! Just click on the link or read below…
I hadn’t eaten for 25 hours. Though not a religious person, I’d say I’m very spiritual. It was Yom Kippur, so in the spirit of tradition and self-reflection, I fasted and prayed from the comfort of my home while streaming services from Central Synagogue in New York, and Beit T’Shuva in Venice, CA. The former, elegant and traditional, the latter raw and not so traditional… both quite moving in different ways. Since I was also at the “I’ll try anything at this point” point to shake things up, I spent much of the day reflecting on what I was sorry for, what I was grateful for and what I was hoping for in the coming year.
As the sun finally set, I set out to eat. As I moved my phone to make room for my very full dinner plate, my iPhone spoke without being spoken to and said, “Sorry Nancy, I didn’t quite get that.”
“Excuse me, what now?” I exclaimed aloud. “I hope this isn’t a direct response from iGod on the cloud in regard to my prayers of the day.” Oy, now I was talking to myself. Perhaps too much alone time, I feared.
I needed food. As I began to nourish my taste buds and body, my soul continued to contemplate some of what it had been fed that day. There was so much to chew on. So much so in fact that it will definitely require further discussion and future posts. For now, I shall describe the everlasting taste in my mouth from Beit T’Shuva…
“F-You!” the Rabbi yelled. I had heard that this congregation was unique, but this was a first. I turned up the volume on my laptop when the Rabbi clarified and said, “Forgive YOU!”
Ah! I got it. With the spirit of the holiday being about asking God and people we may have hurt for forgiveness, the Rabbi’s message as I heard it, is that there is one very important person we should not forget to forgive: Ourselves.
Beit T’Shuva’s mission is to guide individuals and families towards a path of living well, so that wrestling souls can recover from addiction and learn how to properly heal.
This got me thinking about addiction. Dictionary.com says: The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
I’m thinking that we can be addicted to things other than narcotics, alcohol, or tobacco. For instance, how many of us are addicted to negative thinking, dysfunctional relationships, self-sabotage, perfection, living in fear, or self-doubts and limiting beliefs? How many are addicted to bitterness, anger, or being a victim to our circumstances?
What if we were to use some of the steps of recovery for substance abuse addiction to assist us with self-sabotaging thinking patterns and behaviors? Including for instance,
• Admitting you have a problem
• Having faith and hope
• Giving your issues to a higher power
• Admitting your faults, past errors and receive support
• Accepting that it’s time to make a change
• Focusing on healing by prayer, meditation, hope &faith
• Considering making amends
• Taking responsibility for your actions
• Giving back to the community
Do you think that implementing some or all of these steps for whatever our personal demons may be, would help us to lead healthier, more joyful, productive, fulfilling lives? Might that in turn create a community in which we support each other, resulting in a more compassionate world?
It’s all about steps. Whether they are the well known 12 steps, a variation on that theme, or making the effort to take steps forward to where we want to be; it’s all about steps. We are all a work in progress, and need to allow ourselves to sometimes stumble or fall as we are making strides. Sometimes we may even take a couple steps back, but we need to be able to forgive ourselves along the way. And if you ever forget this important aspect in your journey, just remember, as the Rabbi so enthusiastically said….
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.
Click here to check out my latest article on Huffington Post!
Today I had a day off with nothing planned, which actually made me feel a little uncomfortable. I generally like to have a list to check off in order to feel productive, but nothing I had to do was screaming out as urgent. Thus, I felt no urge to do any of it, so I didn’t.
Sitting with myself, and no to-do list, was strange. I had no itinerary. No appointments, errands, or crucial chores. As I sat there contemplating my options of how best to fill this free time (that I thought I was longing for), I felt at a bit of a loss. There I was, face to face with a reality I had been keeping too busy to notice; or simply had been choosing to avoid. Change was staring at me head on.
Yes, the dust of change was settling around me. My kids were out of the nest and on their own. Friends working, married — (or both) — were busy being busy in their own worlds.
Pity party for one, no gifts please.
We all, at times, feel the weightiness of our thoughts, fears and concerns falling squarely on our shoulders. This was one of those times.
So what, you may be wondering, does this have to do with getting ‘bugs in your eyes?’… hang in there with me for a minute, I promise I’m getting to it…
Going through life’s changes later in life can be challenging to say the least. Empty nesting, having no nest, building a new nest, having no one with whom to share the nest, sharing a nest with someone we really don’t want to share it with, job changes, job loss, loss of loved ones, loss of muscle tissue, soft tissue getting softer, memory getting shorter, arms getting longer from trying to read a menu, being longer in the teeth from brushing too damn well; to name a few.
As I was contemplating all these wondrous joys of later life, unable to see the potential blooming forest through the trees of doom and gloom, I was saved by the marimba chimes of my iPhone. A dear friend from high school was calling to see how I was doing. In hindsight, she was the life preserver the Universe was throwing me from the Starship Enterprise.
As a result of our conversation, she was inspired to suggest that I watch a show called Playing House, on USA Network/On Demand. She thought I would not only want a role on the show, but that I’d appreciate the writing and also get a good laugh, which she instinctively felt I needed. She then gave me instructions to text her to let her know how much I loved it. Finally, something to check off on my list for the day.
I sat down with some chocolate chip cookie dough courtesy of Nestles, and started binge snacking and binge watching for hours … and hours. I was vicariously enjoying watching two best girlfriends move in together having a blast, even though it was because the pregnant one found her husband cheating with a naked woman live on the Internet. So, the two BFs were going to birth and care for this baby together as a family.
My dear friend was right, I was loving the show and laughing; but through the funny was an underlying sadness for me. I started thinking about how in real life many of us are becoming more and more isolated from those we care about. We’ve become so focused on our success or our busy-ness, that we are losing touch with what is most important in our lives: our relationships with the people we care about and love.
Taking it a step further, because I had plenty of time to do so, I thought that not only are so many of us too busy chasing our tails to notice what we’re missing, but we’re also becoming so damn self-sufficient, that relationships are becoming collateral damage.
In one of the episodes after the baby had been born, the mom challenged a biker to a game of pool while holding her newborn in a sling, saying that she could do everything by herself and didn’t need any help.
He looked closely at her and said, “You’ve got bugs in your eyes.” She tilted her head looking confused, and he continued saying, “You see, skeleton riders, we’ve got this saying … You’ve got bugs in your eyes …what it means is this…
You can’t always be the lead hog. When we ride, we ride in formation. We trade out the lead, because if you stay in the front of the pack for too long, you get bugs in your eyes … You need to let other people help you. It doesn’t make you any less of a rider …”
Brilliant. Not only is it okay to rely on others, it’s imperative — for us as individuals and as a community.
“We’re not meant to go through life alone.” That was one of the things my Grandma used to say. She was right. We recently lost her at the age of 103. I miss her a lot.
I know my Grandma didn’t mean that having 200 friends on Facebook would suffice. While that certainly has its place, virtual contact is not the same. So when you’re up for this or down with that, when you have too much time or not enough, when you think of someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, or you just simply need some human contact … call a friend, feed a lover, hug a child, listen to an aging parent, help a stranger, or give someone the gift of helping you. It truly does take a village.
Do you have bugs in your eyes?
My most recent article below was featured in Huffington Post! I hope my experience will somehow make a difference…
Who would have thought that one of the more poignant things I’ve heard about getting older, would be in a Petco commercial?
It had been a while since I had an evening to just sit and watch television. I was relaxing comfortably in my living room, feet up on my ottoman, a blanket caressing me gently. I decided to watch Grey’s Anatomy for the first time in years, and found myself crying buckets when quite unexpectedly, Dr. Derek McDreamy, died. What? Derek couldn’t die! I kept waiting for his eyes to open, because the star never dies, he makes a miraculous recovery. But there was Meredith, his wife, pulling the plug and watching the love of her life audibly exhale his last breath. End of episode.
That’s when the Petco commercial came on…
“How long does it take to grow old? And why does it seem like no one wants to do it? Isn’t growing old the same thing as living longer?”
More tears flowed. Grabbing the remote I changed the channel in hopes of finding something that might lessen the chance of more precipitation, and I came across the movie Parental Guidance. There stood Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, a couple who had ‘lived longer,’ looking lovingly at each other, singing and dancing in the kitchen; and I cried some more. I guess you could say it was the perfect storm for feeling that life was going too fast and I still wasn’t where I had envisioned I’d be.
So many thoughts cycled through my mind faster than the wheels in the most advanced spin class… thoughts about love, life, the pursuit of purpose and of course, happiness. All of this profound introspection from watching TV? Who knew!
For ten weeks prior to this evening, I had been spinning in a kind of bliss I once thought I might never experience again. Some Fairy Godmother in the Universe waived her magic wand aligning the stars for me to do what I love, and what I had sorely missed for too many years. I was back on stage in a leading role, feeling alive… noticeably more full of life than I had been in a long time. The yin to that yang was the frustration as the end of the run neared, knowing that when the clock struck twelve it would be time to return to life before the Ball, unsure as to when, or if, there would ever be another such opportunity.
The Petco commercial asks, “How long does it take to grow old? I believe that to a great extent it is up to us. How we think, feel, and whether or not we fill all of our ‘tanks’ with quality fuel, contribute to our ‘age.’ There are the basic tanks of course, like diet and exercise, but just as important are our tanks of love and personal fulfillment that need to be nurtured. I had almost forgotten the immense satisfaction that the process of acting provided for me. My passion had been forced to downshift into dormant due to life’s changing circumstances, and at the top of that list, was my divorce.
Reality bites sometimes. It can derail our dreams and aspirations, but whatever it is that gives us a sense of purpose, that catapults us into that zone of pure joy, cannot be ignored. While it may be different than how we originally imagined, it is possible to get back on track with love and with life.
I think sometimes many of us use our ‘busyness’ as a way to avoid the void.
No matter what detour we may be forced to take, life has a way of reminding us of what we want, what we cherish and what we are missing. Unexpected reminders can change our life, and the Universe will hit us over the head if we’re not listening. My role in the play and its message certainly knocked my senses into gear: Taking chances in life and love when we’re older is scary, but if we don’t, we will always be waiting to live and ultimately have many regrets.
Synchronicity is astounding.
The Petco commercial also asks, “Isn’t growing old the same thing as living longer?” This is something to ponder, indeed. I do know that growing old doesn’t mean we stop taking chances in life, and that playing it safe can sometimes be more hazardous to our well-being. I do know that living longer is a gift, and even with the day-to-day demands of reality, we need to make time for whomever and whatever makes us feel most alive. Love, passion, laughter, joy, fulfillment… it’s all possible if we aren’t afraid and don’t give up. It’s never too late. Reminders are all around us if we pay attention. Perhaps this was your unexpected reminder?
Waking up on a couch on New Years day (not because I drank and crashed there, but because I chose to stay with family instead of sharing the freeway with drivers who over-indulged in mind-and -body-altering libations), the sounds of the new year came into focus: the ta-ta, ta-ta rhythm of my mother’s slippers tapping the floor as she strolled in the room, the pharumph of my teenage nephew’s tush sitting on me to welcome me into the year, the sound of those over 50 (I won’t say who you are) shaking their fiber and water to help move things along, hearing the younger generation teaching their grandma how to use the voice memo on her new iphone, listening to my niece streaming Friends finally available on Netflix, the buzzing of my phone with my daughter at the other end wanting to be my first call of the year to say good morning; ….it was a veritable symphony for a comforting awakening to a new day, to a new year.
For the past two years on New Years, I have written about what I would tell my younger self to help start the year, not necessarily with resolutions, but with thoughts and lessons. This time, as I reflect back on the last 365 days, I have observed, listened and learned from others around me, and it is their courage, actions and words of wisdom that I am using to motivate and take to heart on this, the precipice of a new year:
Watching my mother care for her 103 year-old mom ensuring that she has the best quality of life possible, has shown me how important it is to respect old age. Also, how crucial it is that while we care for those we love, we need to give ourselves the oxygen mask first so that we don’t compromise our own physical and mental health.
Watching people I love and care about, deal with scary diagnoses, disease, and treatments with courage, optimism and strength; staring fear in the face, bulldozing right past it with a big F-U.
Watching my kids figure out the direction of their lives, bravely swimming through the growing pains, tackling what needs to be done regardless of overwhelm.
Watching people I care about deal with changes due to health, injury and/or loss, teaching me that you can adjust to change, be it temporary or permanent, without letting it define you. They adapted and learned to live differently, while still finding happiness, even when it seemed impossible.
Watching friends struggle with unemployment, personal demons, and empty bank accounts, yet they push forward with hope, determination and magnificent resilience.
With all the challenges we face personally and universally, instead of making resolutions that I think set us up for disappointments or even defeat, I suggest we set ourselves up for making positive strides by listening to, and learning from one another.
To do this, I propose we start the New Year with our heads up (out of the phone) to see what we can observe and discover in order to make each day of the year an opportunity to be our best selves…to be what we want and deserve to be. And don’t forget to notice, as I experienced this New Year’s morning, the most simple, yet wondrous things that make life great.
How we see life, and how we respond to what happens, will determine the level of happy in our days, and in our year.
Make it a Happy New Year!
And as always…
Live Passionately and Vulnerably,
See this article published on Huffington Post:
This post is dedicated to all of you who continue to support me by reading and sharing my articles here on NancyTellsAll, and the ones that have been published on other websites. This year has been one of more transition, and in 2015, I am confident there will be even more… including more posts, more videos, and…who knows what surprises will be in store!
Change can be challenging, but remember that as the pieces begin to fall into place, we see things a bit more clearly and we will have learned more about ourselves, grow stronger and become more confident. And yes, I’m sure I will need to remind myself of this as well!!
Happy, Happy Holiday Season to everyone! Enjoy each and every moment with those you care about–including time with yourself–the person you need to nurture most! And remember…THESE are the Good ‘Ol Days!!
And as always…
Live Passionately and Vulnerably,
The Jewish New Year is today. It is a time for reflection, new beginnings, and also a time we often say, “I can’t believe how fast time has gone!”
When discussing the concept of time, the sentiment that usually rings the loudest is how time keeps moving faster and faster. However, the other day my friend/ hairdresser/magician, shared a book with me about this concept, and in it was a quote that struck me:
“Time isn’t speeding up, we are.”
I have felt for a while now that the Universe must be sitting on the fast forward button as so many of us play beat-the- clock every day. But perhaps it is we who are pushing the hands of time. We’re busy running errands, texting, checking email, quickly grabbing food to eat quickly in the car between the soccer game and the dance class. Everything has to happen quickly. The red light doesn’t turn green fast enough, going 75 mph in the fast lane feels slow, and if a web page doesn’t open immediately we become impatient and frustrated.
The Internet is a huge contributor to increasing the speed of life and usurping our quality time and attention from others. People take nosedives into their phones all day long walking down the street, driving in the car, and while sitting with each other at a meal. They say the average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Noses are down and life’s moments are escaping. They are flying by. We run around being busy, often neglecting our most precious relationships and ourselves.
It truly takes a conscious desire and awareness to be present and in the moment. I encourage and challenge us all to slow down a little and make an extra effort to listen more intently, and to look at those you love more attentively. Thornton Wilder addressed this issue years ago, and with such eloquence and emotion. I’ve cited this passage before from Our Town and still, each time I read it I get goose bumps and a lump in my throat. It is also a moving reminder with which I will leave you to contemplate:
(Emily has just died in childbirth and has been given the chance to go back home to a time she wishes to see. Looking at her mother and father whom she will never see again, she realizes that it was a mistake have gone back.)
“I can’t bear it. They’re so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old? Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Let’s look at one another.
I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. (She breaks down sobbing, she looks around) I didn’t realize. All that was going on in life and we never noticed. Take me back – up the hill – to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners. Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths, and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute? I’m ready to go back. I should have listened to you. That’s all human beings are! Just blind people.”
Stop. Look. Listen. Not just a helpful reminder before crossing the street, but perhaps also for making our way through life with more awareness and appreciation.
And as always…
Live Passionately and Vulnerably,
I think so. I do think, however, that sometimes it’s the love of your life for a reason, or perhaps just a season. And yes, for a lucky few, it is for a lifetime. Until death do they part.
The other night I witnessed a moving tribute exemplifying the latter. I was fortunate enough to be present at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, where Buffy Ford Stewart and the John Stewart Band performed a tribute show for what would have been John’s 75th birthday. John, best known from the Kingston Trio, died 7 years ago from a stroke at the age of 68. “John was my first love,” Buffy says, “my one and only love.” They were together for 43 years until he died.
Buffy herself is a survivor of several cancers and various surgeries, not to mention the loss of her great love. The evening was even more meaningful for me because Buffy was my first singing teacher when I was just 10 years old. She knew my family, and back in 1971/72 she recorded three songs that my mom composed. After her show, I had the honor of reconnecting with her, and the pleasure of giving her a CD of those songs that she sang over 40 years ago.
Buffy’s and John’s relationship is a storybook love story. It is rare to find a love so strong; a love that sustains through the best and worst of times. I have been blessed to know a handful of couples who have successfully ducked divorce or death, and others whose second or third time around seems to be the life-long charm.
I recently wrote about the loss of someone very important to me. At the age of 87, Mirk passed away in June, on the day of his 60th wedding anniversary. Marcia and Mirk had been planning their anniversary party for over a year, which was scheduled for a couple of weeks later. Marcia decided that the party should go on as planned, as a celebration of their life together.
Five months prior, I visited them with my video camera in tow, to interview them about their secrets for staying married almost 60 years. I asked about their thoughts on love, how to get through tough times, and the keys to living a happy fulfilling life. Then in June when Mirk passed away, I realized I had a treasure residing in my laptop that needed to be shared. I asked Marcia if I could create a DVD from that interview as a tribute to him and their marriage to be shown at the anniversary party. She responded with a resounding, “Yes!” So, with almost 100 family members and friends gathered around, we watched them in action.
There was laughter and there were tears. Seeing people’s emotional responses and receiving many requests to create a living memory on DVD for other families, made me realize that there is a need and incalculable value in creating DVD’s such as this. Interviews with family members or special friends for their anecdotes, grandma and/or grandpa telling their stories, challenges, dating tales, advice and secrets of life. Capturing moments in time leaving a legacy for children, grandchildren, other family members and friends to cherish forever, from generation to generation: Priceless.
This idea is so new, that I have no name for it yet, and I am welcoming your suggestions! In fact, if I choose the name you submit, I will produce a DVD for you and your family for half price! So please email me your ideas for a name and/or to talk with me about preserving the stories, wisdom and personalities of your family members, creating a priceless gift for your family. I can be reached at: email@example.com.
And once again, with Marcia’s permission, I invite you to watch below and see “Marcia & Mirk in Rare Form.”
Here’s to keeping our family stories, history, and loved ones, alive!
Ladies and Gentleman, the incomparable Marcia and Mirk:
I have been receiving questions about relationships, love, sex, marriage, etc. from readers, so I’ve decided to occasionally post a “Nancy Answers All” column. Below is the first question for Nancy Answers All!
Q: I have a lady friend and neither of us is in, nor is ready to be in a relationship, but we are very attracted to one another. I just know that sex with her will be incredible, and we have known each other for a long time so there is a comfort level there. While it seems like a win-win in some ways, perhaps maybe it’s not so much in others. What do you think?
A: Can there be a deafening silence? Can you be busy doing nothing? Can there be friends with benefits? This strikes me as one of those oxymoron’s. Not that people who jump into sexually healing waters with a friend are morons; but like oxymorons, while it might be possible, does it make sense?
If you can really truly have sex with a friend and not expect anything more in return, then yes. But the term itself can lead to certain expectations.
If you call yourselves friends with benefits, the word ‘friends’ implies that you might do things that friends do. Friends share thoughts and feelings. They help each other if they’re sick or moving. They call to see how you are doing, and they do whatever it is that friends may do together. What is your definition of a friend? This is a sticky wicket. Instead of Harry and Sally deciding if men and women can just be friends, we wonder, can they be just be friends and be naked sharing multiple erotic fantasies and orgasms. Or even better, the other way around!
So, I guess my best piece of advice to you is this:
If all you want is someone to dance with between the sheets, or at the kitchen sink, in front of the closet mirror, or hanging backward off the bed, then just say so, and don’t couch it (sorry for the pun) with being friends. If this is the case, perhaps instead, you can just ask him/her if they want to be “Your Benefit!”
If you do want more than the occasional sexually fulfilling hook-up, I think the key is to be very, very direct about what it is you both want and don’t want from this non-relationship. This will help to avoid unrealistic expectations, disappointments, or hurt feelings. While there are no guarantees, I think this is the best method of protection when bedding a friend.
If any readers would like to chime in, please feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section below!
And please send in any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org for future posts of Nancy Answers All!
Live vulnerably and passionately!
For the past few months, words and pictures have been beyond my grasp. Prior to this creative void, I would see pictures in every day life that would conjure up words in my mind, creating yet a totally different picture that I was excited to express and to share. Conversely, a certain word or words would create a picture in my mind I couldn’t wait to describe, hoping to encourage and inspire perceptions unique to each person. But for the past few months, this was all on pause. I dare say, on mute. Unsure, and at times bothered by my lack of inspiration, I didn’t force myself with self-imposed shoulds or deadlines. I figured it would happen organically.
And it did. Tonight I went to see the movie Words and Pictures. While it received a mere 39% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, it was personally recommended to me as worthwhile, which I often find more accurate than many of the movie ‘mavens.’ This was one of those instances. While one driving force of the movie is the dynamic sexual tension between the two main characters, the predominant issue is the debate between words and pictures: which has the most impact? It is this question that appears to be the pilot light igniting my butt back to my laptop with an entirely new view of things. Tonight, words that have been lying dormant are now percolating in my mind.
The picture of my world has changed in many ways since I last wrote. I am metaphorically sitting in the middle of a clean canvas surrounded literally by a new frame. For the first time in over 30 years, I am living alone. At this very moment I am sitting on my balcony (albeit in a blue fold out chair with cup holders which will one day grow up to be nice patio furniture) of my own place, looking up at the stars, sipping a glass of Chardonnay I picked up on sale at World Market. Or as I still call it, Cost Plus. It’s a balmy night, and the only light is from the full moon, a few blurry stars, and my computer illuminating back to me once again, that which I am thinking and experiencing.
Since I last wrote, I also lost someone very near and dear who had been in my life for over 30 years. Mirk’s quick wit, and puns were unmatched. The sparkle in his voice and in his eyes always made me feel so very, very special and loved. I love him and will miss him so very much.
My children are approaching and accomplishing milestones with tremendous stride, confidence, and grace. I am realizing that sometimes I won’t be able to be there for all of these moments the way I want to be, the way I used to be. This is not easy.
Words cannot adequately describe how it feels when the picture of our life as we knew it changes, and how it feels to experience the tug and the pull of those moving pieces. But the truth is, we wouldn’t want our life’s picture to remain stagnant.
As I unpack picture after picture of what my life used to look like, I feel pangs in my chest missing what was, but at the same time I am looking forward to what will be. While we usually can’t see clearly what will come next, I believe we need to trust that we are where we need to be, and not force anything. Take chances, think outside the frame, and enjoy what time we have on this canvas of life.
Which has the most impact, words or pictures? I think together they are more simpatico than adversarial. Just like change and life. If we allow them to work together, the possibilities are endless.
I’ll be writing again sooner, rather than later…