Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Pledge

My mom is going to be so proud.  I am making a social media pledge of kindness.  Let me explain.

This afternoon, I logged onto the emotionally-toxic dump that is Facebook.  The first post I saw was an awful image equating our president to Adolf Hitler.  It made my stomach turn, and I felt my skin crawling with the fire of anger and disgust.  My first instinct was to comment and challenge the poster's thought process.

But I did some deep breathing instead, and hid the photo from my view.

As I read some other non-offensive updates and slightly intriguing headlines, it dawned on me what the crux of the problem really was (of course, aside from the fact that as a Jew, I felt personally offended).

Who does that image help?

I've often tried to be a helper - in my jobs, as a friend, mother, advocate, community member, grocery store consumer, cancer survivor.  Doing something has always been more comforting than doing nothing.  In a crisis, I love an action plan.  It's probably something to do with that deep need for control.  Life can be uber frustrating when one reaches a feeling of helplessness.

Perhaps posting these types of disturbing images gives people that sense of control they are lacking in other areas of their lives.  They disagree with the political leaders → they express their feelings a la Facebook → they feel better.  In turn, though, others may feel worse.

What now?  I went back to my own page and sifted through the articles and updates I've recently posted.  I was looking for something offensive or insulting, and I'm super relieved to say that the most offensive post (at least from my perspective) was a link to a Colbert Report piece on the Ham Rove Memorial Fund.  While this was quite hilarious in my opinion, I can see how a Karl Rove supporter might feel it was a tad disrespectful.

This brings me to my pledge (and a brief explanation of my mom's pride).

I hereby promise...
- to post images and articles only in SUPPORT of good health, effective educational practices, and safety for all.
- to promote positivity and kindness to others.
- to focus my updates, pins, and tweets on the good stuff.
- to try to be a helper, not a hurter.

I guess my aspirations are twofold.  First, I value the whole practice-what-you-preach mentality.  Second, since attending my monthly meditation group meetups, I am beginning to buy into the theory of Karma.  Since life doesn't really make sense right now, I'm practicing lots of deep breathing, and banking on it sorting out on the next go around.  If we all continued to send out warm, loving thoughts into the universe, well, I don't know what would happen.  I don't imagine it could get much worse than what we've got.  Maybe we should give it a try?

My mother is known amongst a few of my friends for her famous words, "Mia, be nice."  Also, "GIRLS, be nice." (Girls becomes a two syllable word in this usage - guh-rils)  She's always longed for a nice daughter.  Now at least she'll have one on social media.  I can't speak yet for how this will impact real life.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Two Years

hanging at moshav beit chanan
 Forgive me, I'm a few days late in marking my 2 year cancerversary here.  I've only just returned to my laptop after two weeks on an amazing celebratory trip to the other side of the world.  Now that we're back, I can attempt to capture in words (along with a few photos) what it was like to mark this pretty major milestone with the two boys I love most in the world.

We left for Israel just one day after the nightmare in Newtown happened.  I found it very difficult to concentrate on packing that day, but somehow we got it done.  It seemed like the perfect time to take my family, jump on an airplane, and leave the country.  We'd been planning this trip for quite some time, though, wanting to return to the place where Dan and I met, and to introduce Judah for the first time to many family members and the unique place we had both grown to love.

Once we finally arrived, we were so lucky to be hosted by Dan's family.  Despite Judah being a bit on the cuckoo side (sleep deprived, and I think a bit overwhelmed by the language barriers), they fell for our boy and made us all feel right at home.  Dinners, breakfasts, lunches, snacks, all prepared with love and the best vegetables on earth.  Obviously, I left my typical eating habits at home, and have since returned with an extra few new pounds that decided to camp out on my hips.

For two weeks, we adventured around the country (Dan gets Star Driver of the Year 2012 Award).  Swam in the Dead Sea (Judah was not a fan of water no good for splashing), made it to the top of Masada, hung out with Australian animals, walked through the caves in Rosh Hanikra, tasted Zaid's warm and creamy hummus in Old Akko, picked out new Naots at Kibbutz Naot-Mordechai (where they make Teva and Naot shoes), toured around the Hula Valley in the company of 30,000 cranes who come to visit every winter, and shopped at Nahalat Binyamin (the weekly craft fair in Tel Aviv) - for starters.

trying hard not to splash...

Judah and his field guide trying to identify birds in the Hula Valley
making new friends

waterfall at the banyas
kibbutz: see the orange door all the way on the left?  that was my room.
We traveled to the north, both to see some beautiful sights, but also to visit the Kibbutz where I spent a few months living and learning Hebrew 15 years ago.  It was surreal and wonderful to bring Dan and Judah to a meaningful place, and to see people I remembered well from a very different part of my life, but also a bit sad to see with my own eyes that kibbutzim are not what they used to be. 
December 27 - two years to the day of my final radiation treatment - was a bright and sunny day in Jerusalem.  The day before had been the long-awaited trip to see the Kotel (the Western Wall), along with shopping on Ben Yehuda and tasting everything at Machane Yehuda (FINALLY got my warm chocolate rugelach from Marzipan).  I stood at that wall, tucked in my notes, and cried.  Don't know if it's possible to name all of the salty emotions that dripped down my cheeks, but relief, fear, anxiety, frustration, despair, deep gratitude, and happiness were among them.
Back to the 27th.  We packed the day with an elevator ride to see the view from the top of the YMCA tower, lunch at the Mamila Mall, and an archaeological dig at Beit Guvrin, where Dan discovered a jaw bone (we think it belonged to either a goat or a dog) untouched for the past 2,300 years.  Lots of talk of the past.  As we drove back to Jerusalem, led by the bright, full moon, I had a chance to mull over how happy I was that we had the opportunity to be in such a special place together.  Full of appreciation for my good fortune, we arrived at the Haas Promenade (another spot for a beautiful view of Jerusalem) to see the city all sparkly at 5:58 pm.  A few minutes later, we began to hear calls to prayer - from the many towers dotted through the landscape.  The voices echoed in the valley and added another magical layer to the moment.  We couldn't have planned it if we tried.

So lucky to have had not just Dan's extended family (who live in Israel) with us, but also both of his parents, both of my parents, and MY extended family there to celebrate my dad's birthday and my health-aversary on our last Saturday night in town.  

I haven't a clue what 2013 has in store.  I hope for a cure.  I hope for health and happiness for those I love the most.  I hope we can each find our way and remember to take care of each other for the short time we have together.  I am extraordinarily lucky I have been given a bit more time to try to figure it all out.

Thank you for all the reading and caring you've done over the past two years.  The rest of the journey is just beginning.  Sending out warm wishes for a peaceful 2013.  

tel aviv tayelet: where it all started for our little family