Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back on the bike


Two weeks ago I finally took my bike out of the garage and not a moment too soon. This was the bike that I bought the day before our container arrived so that I would have a bike in Israel. In a truly uncharacteristic move I bought the first bike I saw in the store closest to our house and I did it in half an hour. I usually spend weeks researching these things and making lists and generally wasting a lot of time finding exactly what I want. Anyway, I bought the bike and the next day it went on a cargo container.

When it arrived it was winter and too wet to ride. Plus the baby was too small to put in the copilot seat. And my daughter had started boycotting bike riding which made family rides impossible. She had learned to ride without training wheels last summer in Bend, Oregon while on our big RV trip. But then we had to leave her old bike in New Mexico at the end of our trip (since we were flying back). The plan was to buy the kids bigger bikes before we left for Israel.

But the bigger bike was too big and riding it made her nervous. And then it went on the container and when she saw it again four months later, her fear had only grown. And even when we fashioned her a smaller bike with a frame we inherited from a friend, she still wasn't interested. Because by now she was nearly a whole year older and a different girl altogether. She was unsure. A little clingy. Timid. Not interested in challenging herself. Worried about what her hair would look like after she took off her helmet.

The change in her has been difficult to watch for many reasons. Obviously because I want her to be a self assured, confident, kickass rockstar girl. And for her to know her worth. But also because I know this path. For me it happened later. I remember feeling like a kickass rockstar girl as a kid. I performed in front of large audiences. I ran in races. I played aggressive girls soccer. I spent a lot of time raising my hand in class. But as I got older and maybe because the stakes were higher, I started to put my hand down. I stopped performing. I quit sports altogether. Not in kindergarten, mind you. It happened slowly as high school was winding down and gradually through college. Even into adult life and graduate school. It was counter intuitive. I thought that with age came wisdom. But I was becoming more self-conscious. I started to doubt myself in a way I never had as a kid. Even now I can still fall into periods of destructive thinking where I compare myself to friends, other artists, people whose lives seem charmed.

The good news is that I continue to work through my things and she's working through hers. When I finally got my bike out and put Toothy McHelmet Head on the back (which is now his all time favorite activity besides throwing food), she got out hers and we rode around our cul de sac for an hour. Then she attempted to ride down a little hill where previously she would get nervous and brake with her feet, Flintstone style. This time she was fine. Her helmet on, her hair whipping out the back in every direction and her face all smiles.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'm gonna git you sukkah

Mi tabernacle es su tabernacle.

This post has nothing to do the 1988 Wayans Brothers movie I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. It does have to do with the fact that it's two weeks after Sukkot and our sukkah is still standing. We are like that family next door who has their Christmas lights up well into February. I totally get it now. It's like one part lazy and three parts "but it's so pretty". And our sukkah is particularly bright and cheery with the strawberry punch pink curtains which really compliment the bougainvillea (not shown in picture). But it has to come down. Plus, if my sources are correct, it is very slowly getting cooler around here. Like it might even get down to 78 degrees by this Saturday and by next Saturday...73! And by November? It might actually feel like Fall. Or some middle eastern approximation. Which means it might even RAIN.* My sweaters are on standby.

* I don't know what you're talking about. I have no memory of the bitter cold and wet winter.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Busy times around here, what with all of the holidays (I still need to show you a picture of our sukkah. All in good time), and my son's birthday and then his birthday party. Now everything that was on hold until after the holidays is suddenly off hold and urgent.

So it's back to work. My latest project has been to organize my files - my digital files - a task I despise, which is why they are in such a state of disarray. And why also I have dozens of superfluous gigabytes junking up my computer. Just taking up space and taunting me with their sloppiness. My sloppiness. Ugh. I'll take regular filing any day.

But in the process of giving a facelift to my saggy, worn out, not-so-hard drive, I've come across some interesting gems. Like a word file with a bunch of one line stories about people with no faces. I must have once thought about adding them to some of my Inner Toddler characters. I kill myself sometimes. 

Anyway, it was nice to stop my filing for a brief chuckle. Let me know which is your favorite.
Back to filing.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Eight is not too old for a tickle from Saba.
Eight is not too old for a tickle from Saba.

Hi kiddo,
Well it's true what everyone is saying. You're eight. Eight years old. EIGHT. YEARS. Just like that. Well, not exactly just like that. A few of those years were pretty rough because, let's face it, you are not an ordinary boy. How does my friend Sharon refer to it? High persistence, low distractability. Yes, that's it. You are like a flash flood. Every day. Heading down the most direct path toward your natural destination. The Apple Store. For this has been your obsession since the day you put a shoe to your ear at age one and said alo?

But I know there is more to you than your ability to recite the apple device price list starting with shuffles all the way to MacBook Pros, though that is certainly impressive. For instance, your incredible memory has also helped you to learn from your mistakes, more this year than other year. Could it be that you will one day soon be a rational human? I'm not holding my breath but the signs are there.

When I think back to last year at this exact time, I am astonished by everything that's happened and how you have managed through it all. You moved to a new country where you learned to read and write in a new language at a new school in a new town. You made new friends and endeared new grown-ups to you. You learned to play piano and read music. You learned how to dress appropriately for the weather. I don't know why this is such a big deal, but it is. You learned how to DJ and now the whole neighborhood knows your eclectic taste in music. And all this without your kitty. I'm still mourning the loss of your kitty on the British Airways flight from New York. You were fine after a day or so and was still calling the airlines weeks later.

You know what else? You discovered Star Wars and now the force is with you. This has also opened up a whole new realm of acceptable birthday presents. Because buying you office supplies was getting kind of old. Although a laminator would make a nice addition to our household.  

About a month after you started school here your teacher used the word נבון (navon) to describe you and I had to look it up. She could have said you were just smart, and no one would have disagreed. But she said you were clever. And wise. WISE. She understood what we've known about you all along. That you have been around the block already. You have lessons to learn still, to be sure. But you are mostly here to teach me and Aba a thing or two. And we're old dogs so I hope you'll cut us some slack.

all my love, beautiful boy,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Remarkable friends

 Liv and Rachel at our retreat in 2010

I have some remarkable friends around the world for whom I feel incredibly grateful. I wish I saw them more often but when we do see each other, even on skype, it's like we were never apart (although less true with skype - I sometimes feel like a jackass on skype. But more on that later).

Two years ago I met a gorgeous group of women for an art retreat on Lake Superior. We spent four days getting to know each other offline, making yummy food, making juicy art and laughing hysterically. There might have been some crying too. That can happen with eight women in a cabin. Anyway, those lovely ladies met again this year and unfortunately I could not attend (more on this regretful decision another time) but I skyped in briefly and got a quick dose of awesome.

I was struck by how each one had undergone some enormous impossibly wonderful and challenging life altering event over the last two years. These are women who set goals and stick to them. Changing careers, writing books, delivering ecourses, teaching workshops, moving cross-country, completing giant projects resulting in massive bodies of new work and in some cases, all while raising kids. I feel so proud of them and I am reminded to write down my own damn goals in big ass letters on poster paper so I can keep cracking!

But first I want to tell you about a few important developments so that you can share in some of the wisdom and delight that I get from these girls.

Liv Lane is offering another ecourse and I'm taking it. It's called BUZZWORTHY and it's about how to attract the love and attention your soulful business deserves. I took her first course, Building a Blog You Truly Love, last January and it's what got me to finally take inventory of my blog and art business and start making some changes.

Rachel Awes' new SARK + Kelly Rae Roberts-endorsed book ALL I DID WAS LISTEN is now available in her ETSY shop for PRE-ORDERS including a special "girlfriend pack" (FIVE books and some bonus goodies so you can share the love). It's scheduled release date is December 1, 2012. If you, like me, ate up Succulent Wild Women and love Story People, you will love this book. It is a 236-page, full-color, illustrated gift book, filled with inspiring hand-written quotes from her psychotherapy clients, that, strung together, tell a story about how healing can happen for everyone.

That should keep you busy for a while. There's more to share, but there's also laundry to be folded.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Easy fast

Today I'm sending to print a ketubah that I turned around in three weeks, from first sketches to final approval. And to think I almost didn't take the job. In fact, when Jason sent me a message if I could create his ketubah for his October 12 wedding, I thought, well if you get me your personal details right away and we don't have many iterations, then I can do it for sure. This, thinking that he would just choose one of my seven designs. But then I got his transaction and he had wanted a personalized ketubah, as in, a whole new design. That's when I panicked and told him there was no way I could do it, especially with two weeks of school vacation coming up and all of the holidays. So I wrote him a message apologizing. This was at 4am. The baby had woken me up and with the time difference, I tend to get a lot of emails at night. Then I tossed in my bed for twenty minutes. Then I wrote him back. Let's talk tomorrow and see what you had in mind and maybe I can do it.

We spoke and it turned out he wanted the basic two trees connected by a bridge design but customized with imagery that was meaningful to the two of them. He told me how they met online because he had posted that he was just looking for someone who would ski moguls with him, til death or bad knees do they part. I took the job.

He sent me a list of things that were important to them, like healthy organic food, mountain biking, skiing (obviously), nature, their Jewish heritage and community. They live in San Francisco so the bridge made sense. They had already written their text. I took my sketch pad up north when my husband and I went away for a few days for our birthdays and sketched out some ideas. I emailed him a rough sketch. He approved. And then I just painted the whole thing and he approved that too! It was magical! All of my commission experiences have been wonderful but some very challenging.

When I sent him the final proof before Yom Kipur, I ended my note by wishing him an easy fast. (That's what you say on this holiday, since Happy Day of Atonement is sort of inappropriate). Only after did I realize that he might have assumed I was referring to the project. Maybe I was.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cherry on top

Roadside ice cream stop

Well we survived Yom Kipur this year, but only barely. I will say that as challenging as the day itself was, the eve of Yom Kipur was quite enjoyable. How can I explain it? It's like Christmas Eve (in Amish country) meets Critical Mass. Once the sun sets, kids from all walks of life hit the streets on bikes because no one is driving. NO ONE. People don't drive. I think it's because they're atoning for how badly they drove the whole last year. And it's the holiest day of the year too, so there's that.  It also means that kids roam the streets freely. I overheard one second grader tell his dad he was going to a neighborhood about a mile away in the dark with his buddies on bikes. See ya, was the dad's reply. So we went out too and saw just about everyone we knew in this town. It was quite an experience.

And only a few days later we are coming off of an even bigger experience. A seven family camping trip up north on the Dan river. It was a hundred degrees; we had to sleep outside since it was stifling in the tent; the kids got eaten by mosquitos (I find I don't get bit when the baby is nearby since he's so juicy). But in the spirit of Indian Summer, we went in search of cool water and found a lovely (freezing) spring where we went for a dip and had lunch and a quiet patch of the Jordan river bank where we watched the sun go down.

All in all we kept cool as best we could, enjoyed the company of new friends and delighted in the incredible food that everyone sizzled, fried, chopped, sauteed, baked and shared. On the way home we stopped for lunch at a family friend's house where I mostly sat on her air conditioner while she served us fresh goat cheese, eggs, salad, avocado, fresh fruit and brownies. It was serious post camping pampering.

And then the (literal) cherry on top came on our three+ hour drive home when we pulled over to change the baby's diaper. It was a random side road off the highway which apparently is a main (dirt)  road to one of the Arab villages (cities) nearby. The kids got out and stretched, we changed the baby and had some fruit while several cars and trucks sped past us. Then an ice cream delivery truck drove past and stopped.  I knew in my heart that the driver had stopped to give us ice-cream. Which he did! A young man popped out of the passenger side, ran around the side of the car and a few moments later came back with five cherry vanilla ice-cream popsicles. He handed them to me and said, you're five right? Happy holidays! Then the driver leaned out and wished us a happy holiday too. Indeed, a little happier made by cherry popsicles!

Up next, a peek into our sukkah this year. Mr. Rosen's parents showed up even before we returned from camping and built the thing, decorated it and had dinner waiting for us too. We need to buy a lottery ticket and really ride out this wave...