Monday, December 30, 2013

A New Year's Resolution is Something That Goes in One Year and Out The Other. 3 Easy Ways to Make Sure it Doesn't!

A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.  ~Author Unknown

Guest blogger: Dr Anita Sanz

Not everyone makes New Year's Resolutions...
there are some people who don't see the New Year
as a time for reinvention, recharging, reconditioning,
re energizing, reinvigorating, reorganizing.
It's just January.
But if you're one of those people who have made a resolution
to change something in 2014...
and, by the way, if you are one of those people,
you are TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY to make a significant
improvement in your life this year...
then this post may help you to do that!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Shocking Truth About a Megalomaniac's Daughter: How One Person's Courage & Kindness Can Change History

Moses in the Bulrushes
Last weekend was a joyful time as our son Jacob celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. 

As is customary in our synagogue, he spoke at the end of the service about something he had learned to do with the Torah portion he had read earlier in the morning. This portion tells the well known story, set in Egypt, of Moses (Moshe) being hidden in the bulrushes and subsequently rescued, to prevent him from being killed by the ruling Pharaoh. 

The lessons Jacob articulated in his speech, relate to bringing comfort and caregiving through empathy, courage and kindness. He also discusses how we can learn to resist the tendency to stereotype at first sight. I thought these messages would resonate with you and so I have reproduced the speech here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Healing After a Serious Injury. You Might Just Want To Get a Dog!

This week please meet my guest blogger and friend, writer and researcher, Robin Gould. 

Robin describes how a four-legged friend has brought more comfort to her son than she could ever have imagined and a bonus she never predicted.

Let us know how a pet has been therapy for your family and leave us a message below.

Have a great week
As I head outside, leash in hand, dog in tow, for our ritual morning walk, I notice frost on the grass, the first frost of the year.

It’s 28 degrees outside and I wish I were back in my warm bed. 
It’s mornings like this one that I ask myself,

 “Why did I ever cave into my almost 10-year-old son to get a dog?”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's So Simple! How You Can Give and Receive Comfort Through Social Media.

In the midst of making my Jar of Joy, I marked the15th anniversary of my father's death at the age of 59. My inclination was to mark this loss quietly, without mentioning it to anyone. 

However what I really wanted to do was reminisce about his life with others who remember him. 

The problem is, I live continents and large time differences away from those who knew him. There is no one apart from my husband, who lives close by to share memories with, in person. 

I hesitated to put something on social media, but then I decided that perhaps if  I reached a little beyond my comfort zone of privacy, I would be able to share a small piece of what I loved and miss so much about him.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stay Happy This Holiday Season & Beyond:How to Harness Your Joyful Moments Even In Tough Times

I have found a clean, empty jar and labeled it 'Jar of Joy.'

Over the last few weeks, one challenge piled on top of another and as I was feeling weighed down, I spotted a post on Facebook (thank you Rama!) and thought it was just what my family and I needed - A reminder. A jar full of joyful memories! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Family Home Destroyed By Falling Tree - Do Worries Like These Keep You Up at Night?

Ever since we moved into our house, this worry has kept me up at night. 

With every raging storm, I have been convinced that the whining, creaking sounds outside are emanating from a tree about to collapse.

 Last weekend those worries rose to the surface again.  

It's not always easy to see the silver linings in the gathering clouds. 

It's not easy to be thankful when plans are upended and unexpected situations take away time, money, future plans or good health. 

Sometimes, however a prevailing feeling helps us to understand that even when seemingly bad things happen, there is goodness within.

Since I wrote my last blog post a week ago, a huge tree came crashing down, in our garden. When Jonny (my hubbie) posted a picture of said tree on Facebook, a friend commented,

"Never a dull moment in the Cannon household." 

And that was an understatement.

Too right! It's never dull!.....

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

4 Powerful Words That Show You Really Care

Have you been wondering if a friend is ok because he seems out of sorts?

Have you realized you haven't heard from your cousin for weeks or months?

Have you noticed the absence of your neighbor at synagogue or church or exercise class?

Has someone you haven't spoken to in a while, suddenly dropped into your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Typhoon's Deadly Toll: How You Can Go From Feeling Helpless to Helpful In This One Simple Step

Aida, our former housekeeper, was born in the Philippines. Her sisters and brothers are directly affected by the super-typhoon that hit Tacloban.

The deadly storm, Typhoon Haiyan followed hot on the heels of a 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol on October 15 and has further devastated the towns and villages of Aida's family and friends.

World catastrophes can make us feel very helpless in the face of such enormous devastation and tumult.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On Friendship, Death and Bear Hugs

Due to a sick son and work-away husband, I have spent a lot of time at home over  the last few days and have been able to catch up on 7 episodes of Grey's Anatomy, back to back.

There is something delicious about watching one of your favorite shows, episode after episode, wrapped in a warm blanket, steaming hot tea in hand, skipping the ads and not having to wait a week to know what happens next. It's even better watching with a friend!

I don't just watch it for McDreamy. I'm very fond of many of the characters, having been a lifer since the series began (10 years ago!) and I have to admit I shed a few tears over my 7 episode marathon. 

I was not looking for deep messages whilst I was watching, but there is one theme that resonates over and over, through the seasons.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Moving Home? 10 Ways to Calm Your Fears And Feel Positive.

A friend from abroad is packing up her home and sent me this message on my Facebook page today.......(Including the icons!)

  • Dear Gilly, 
    Please find calming words for me, as I pack up to move house!!! I spent the afternoon tidying my desk of Stuff. I came across an album of photos from 2000. I hope, I know what we are doing.....

    As I thought  about how best to reply, I reflected upon what had helped our family as we moved from continent to continent over a five year period. I came up with 10 suggestions to calm and soothe in many situations that require transition including packing up your home......Here's my answer and the list. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

One Great Fitness App, When It's Hard to Get Moving

Dancing in the window
If you pass my house at certain times of day you may catch a glimpse of a small blonde person, dancing carefree, arms moving to a beat, uninhibitedly past the living room windows. 

This is not because I have gone completely out of my mind. 

More that I have finally got my mind around a great method to get moving. 

Six years ago, I was running up to 15 miles a week, doing yoga and  taking step and weight classes at the JCC. I was very focused on fitness.

Then life interrupted my workouts....

Monday, October 14, 2013

How to Succeed Despite the Naysayers.

Do you have a naysaying voice in your head?  A little devil that jumps on your shoulder and whispers in your ear.....

"That's the silliest idea I've ever heard."

"Don't waste your time." or " It'll never work."

I certainly have. It's the same voice that tells me I did not complete a project perfectly. I ate too many cookies, didn't exercise enough, should have preempted my children leaving their cellphones/homework/ PE kit at home and should have written that thank you letter 2 weeks ago.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What a 12 Year Old Knows About Driving in The Rain

A number of the male species in my family are organizationally challenged. They have been known to forget to put their laundry in the dirty wash pile, clear the plates from the table or  have difficulty remembering to take their forms/phones/school ID/homework with them to school.

You get the idea.

I got a panicked message today from Jacob, my 12 year old who had left his English book by his bed, at home. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Raise Your Happiness Barometer With This One Scientifically Proven Action

When we moved to Washington D C  in August 2001, we rented a house and inherited a party. 

The home owners had hosted this event every September/October on one of the Jewish holidays.

You did not misread that party piece. 

I know it sounds strange, but for years, friends of the owners had been coming to celebrate and they jokingly told us, that even though we were now living in the house, they thought they would come anyway. Many of them had welcomed us when we first arrived and entertained us in the first few weeks of our new American lives. Some we had never met!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Getting Out of Bed. 5 Ideas to Help When It's Hard to Face The Day.

Every day begins with an act of courage and hope: getting out of bed. ~Mason Cooley

When I first read this quote it made me laugh. 

Yes! I thought. Courage is definitely needed as winter begins to hint at its arrival. 
As hope for a dry, crisp day replaces the hope of a warm, scented one. 

As mornings become darker and colder, the changing seasons do that to you. They can make you want to hold the covers high around your body and squeeze your eyes tighter to stop the grey light from seeping in.  

I wonder how many of you feel this way on a Monday morning. (Or Tuesday or Wednesday....)

Sleep is a quiet, contemplative space. A time where you can retreat inside of yourself, into your dreams and thoughts and nothingness.

For some, getting out of bed is more than just getting over the alarm clock nudge. It takes true courage and hope to face another day. 

You may have had the odd day like that. Or many in a row.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Comforting Without Words:The Power of Touch

In 1998 when my father was dying in a hospital in London, we all tiptoed round him, sat close, but not too close and observed him drifting in and out of sleep. 

Benjy, my first-born, who was five years old at the time, came into my father's room to say goodbye. He walked to the end of my father's bed  and in a clear voice asked him very simply, 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Apologizing: Valuing Your Relationship More Than Your Ego

As the Jewish season of repentence reaches a crescendo and apologizing is high on the to-do list, I have been thinking a lot about why apologizing can be so difficult. The  process for giving an apology is well documented by psychologists and Rabbis alike. 

1. Recognize you have upset someone
2. Ask for forgiveness
3. Offer to make reparations
4. Don't do it again.

Relationships we value are precious and require nurturing. However that does not mean they are without controversy, misunderstandings or disagreements. Relationships - professional and personal - need constant work and communication. Even with the best intentions, arguments can ensue and feelings can be hurt. 

Here are some questions I have been grappling with and I wonder if you have too.

When we do argue with people we care about, what is it that can make apologizing so difficult ?

Why do we have a difficult time apologizing without justification or caveat?

What must  we do BEFORE we make the apology?

A story first.....

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Pantry Exposed!:What Clearing the Clutter Does for Your Mind & Spirit.

When we came home from our annual week at the beach I had a whole boxful of half eaten foods to return to my pantry. Open packets of crackers, started cereals, cans of tuna, boxes of angel hair pasta...... You get the idea. 

The problem was my pantry was already jam packed full of these same items, in complete disarray.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Words of Wisdom For Our College Bound Children (and Kindergardeners)

My fingers are running over the computer keys, wondering where to begin. 

I can hear Aron our 18 year old and Jacob our 12 year old murmuring together. Their words are not clear, but the filtering sounds are upbeat and conversational as they rise and fall in sync and at times are spotted with laughter. The two boys are inseparable at the moment, playing Minecraft together, strategizing, building, challenging, but mostly enjoying each other's company.

This scenario is particularly heartwarming, because in a few days Aron is going to college and Jacob will be home alone. (No other siblings to divert parental attention anymore.) 

Each of us is dealing with this impending separation differently.....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our Family's Journey With Trigeminal Neuralgia - What YOU Need to Know.

Thank you Rebecca Thorpe.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic illness my husband (J) was diagnosed with 6 years ago. 

Here are 3 Things I want you to know:- 

1. Trigeminal Neuralgia  is a brutal, relentless, unpredictable disease with no permanent cure.

What is trigeminal neuralgia (TN)?

      TN is an excruciatingly painful and debilitating condition, known as "the suicide disease."
 It is regarded as the most painful condition that is known in the medical world. It is more painful than kidney stones, giving birth or a heart attack.
 It is a disorder of the trigeminal nerve in the face which results in its overreaction to everyday stimuli, such as talking, eating and light touch.
TN triggers a violent, electric shock-like pain which can last for a few seconds to a few minutes and repeat in episodes lasting weeks and months.
 The pain can also be described as stabbing, shooting, burning, excruciating, and unlike any other pain previously experienced.
 Normal painkillers, even morphine, have no effect and initial treatment with anti-convulsant drugs can have very unpleasant side-effects.
When these medications cease to be effective, or the side-effects become intolerable, various types of surgical procedures are carried out but to date there is no known cure.
 Although uncommon, children and babies can also have TN.

2. My husband is still living with a form of this disease. 

He had brain surgery 3 years ago to put an end to  his TN which was no longer responding to strong drugs of any kind.  I wrote in my updates at that time, that the surgery had successfully taken away the brutal stabbing, electrical pain that he was experiencing in his face 24/7 without a break before the surgery. Thank goodness that still holds true and we are extremely grateful for that outcome.

However TN is a dark enemy....

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

6 Unexpected Lessons For Life, Learned From Drying Hydrangeas!

Hydrangeas in my garden in June
I am trying to dry hydrangeas. (Bear with me! I promise to move on from flower drying.) 

 I am on my third attempt. 

The first time I thought I knew best and surmised it was just like drying herbs or roses so I hung them up side down, bound together,  on a hook from the ceiling. Not a bad idea I thought.  I imagined they would keep their shape, their color would fade a little but the individual flowers would remain open and beautiful, if a little dulled.

 It was a disaster..........

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Meditate When You Can't Sit Still: The Ultimate Guide

Rachel Ducker Wire Sculpture
             Today, I inadvertently came up with a way to relax my brain and release myself from all my racing thoughts for 30 minutes. 

Have you ever tried to clear your head for half an hour and breathe deeply? 

Have you ever tried to stop the thoughts pounding your brain, problems encroaching your clarity and the to-do list preventing you from slowing your breathing?

 I have tried. Many times. Only to have one of three things happen......

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Guide to Thriving Beyond the Crises in your Life: 4 Effective Steps

It's not just tea that revives you
As a spouse, parent and caregiver I have been on hyper-alert for 5 years.


It’s because my family is very good at having serious medical conditions with unpronounceable names.

My husband was first diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia in 2008. And if trigeminal neuralgia wasn’t difficult enough to say and remember, in 2009, our oldest son Benjy won the prize. 

He was diagnosed with a heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White with supraventricular tachycardia. (Try saying that a few times, very quickly.) This condition is sometimes connected with sudden death. Benjy's version of this syndrome meant that he needed two heart surgeries, between January and April  2010. 

My husband had invasive brain surgery ( MVD) for his trigeminal neuralgia in 2011. You can see why I might live on high alert!

Living on hyper-alert puts you in survival mode. You are either waiting for a symptom to show itself, in the midst of an attack, or recovering from the fallout:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why The Duchess of Cambridge (Kate) Would Find Treatment Diaries Comforting.

How many of you keep or have in the past, kept a private written record of your thoughts and feelings?

How many of you would feel comfortable publishing your emotions and having hundreds or even thousands of people read them?

During my teens I often expressed my teenage angst in a diary that is so well hidden I have no idea where it is now!

So given my preference for privacy you might be wondering how I came to be writing a blog, especially one that expresses a myriad of emotions.( I often wonder this myself!)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

5 Rewarding Reasons to Take a Risk-Why It's Worth Getting Your Feet Wet.

Here's a secret you didn't know about me. 

I really don't like walking barefoot. I know some of you hate wearing shoes but I don't like to be without them.

I wear my shoes from the moment I get out of bed until I get back in again. Yes I do take them off to shower and to put on socks, but even if it is flip-flops, I always have something on my feet. 

I don't like the feeling of crumbs (and in our house they feel as though they are everywhere)  or kitchen tile in-between or under my toes and my feet are often cold so shoes of some kind, off-set that. 

And here's another secret......

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Moving from Hurt to Healing: How 1 Step Back Can Take You 2 Steps Forward

The Lily we planted has bloomed!
This morning, like every morning as I went out to the car in my driveway, I glanced at the lily. Aida and I had planted it in memory of her sister, who had died suddenly back at the beginning of May.

During difficult times, it is often hard to picture life any other way. In the heart of a crisis, serious illness, medical emergency, divorce, bereavement or job loss it is difficult to imagine that things will ever be different or better. Looking out into the future is frightening particularly if what you imagine is more of what you are living through or dare I say it, worse. Sometimes things do get worse, before they get better. 

Rarely do they stay the same. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Secret to Anger Management

.....without using it's turn signal
Have you ever tried to look on the bright side of a challenging situation, only to have it backfire, with you feeling more angry, resentful or frustrated?

Have you ever held anger inside you, only to channel it at some poor innocent bystander or your kids or your mom or your spouse?

Has there ever been a time when anger languished in your mind, festered and grew whilst you tried to see the positive in a difficult situation, only to find it come back to the surface when you met that situation or person again?

The first of these three scenarios happened to me just last week.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How is Bringing Me Comfort! is having a party!      
Because they know I am SO behind in packing my 12 year old for 4 weeks of sleep away camp that they are going to get lots of business from me in the next 36 hours! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sunshine and Rain-How To Live With Both.

Glancing out the window as I write, I notice the sun is glinting on the rain soaked leaves. It has been that kind of day: torrential rain splattered with bursts of humid, misty sunshine.

And it has been that kind of week in our school and synagogue community. 

With celebrations of the highest order and tragedy so deep, we cannot find words to express emotions.

Monday, June 3, 2013

6 Ways to Build Certainty in an Uncertain World.

Last week I talked about how routine brings comfort. Routines are regular procedures we create to give us structure and rhythm in our day.

This week's post explores the value of certainty in our lives. Unlike routines it brings comfort by existing outside of our life structure.

Benjamin Franklin famously said, "Certainty? But in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”

 I like to think there is more certainty than that in the world.......

Monday, May 27, 2013

Why Routine Brings Comfort

We had a particularly challenging week, a few years ago when my husband's parents were staying with us. 

My mother-in-law knocked on our door at 3.00 am because a pipe that had burst from the basement toilet, emitted tens of gallons of water directly into the basement bedroom where my parents-in-law were sleeping. My father-in-law in trying to wade into the bathroom and turn off the water, slipped and hurt his arm and the basement was floating in debris. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

How to Win The Productive Aging Award.

A few weeks ago I finally had to admit defeat and buy a pair of reading glasses. I did not plan to celebrate this milestone, thinking of it as the beginning of my physical demise. Then I recalled my grandmother's remarkable life.

My late grandmother of tea-making fame started to lose her hearing at the age of 28. She lived in the UK and had just given birth to my mother at the beginning of WWII. After The War, my grandfather travelled for 6 months of the year trading in precious watch parts and my grandmother was essentially a single parent for much of my mother's childhood. She dealt with her hearing problems by learning to lipread and donning hearing aids without a second thought...........

Monday, May 13, 2013

When There's Trouble Brewing... Do This.

As a Brit, a cup of tea, evokes many things: my childhood, my Dad and maternal grandmother, celebration, commiseration and friendship. But mostly it is connected with the emotions associated  with love, care and comfort.

As a child my father made and brought my mother a cup of tea to her bedside every morning. Tea was the mainstay of family food gatherings and I can picture my mother's teapots and delicious date and walnut or almond cake that always went with them in our light filled living room.

Growing up, I relished the tea my Grandmother made for me.  For a long time, I could not work out why it always tasted so special...

Monday, May 6, 2013

5 Ways to Bring Comfort in Times of Illness or Distress.

We all want to help people in times of illness or distress. Often it is very difficult to know WHAT to do in these situations, even though we would love to bring comfort to people we care about.

Twelve years ago when we came from Hong Kong to live in the USA, we were very lucky that Aida our Filipino housekeeper came with us.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Astonishing Truth About Your Potential

As my boys have grown up, they have often plied me with pleading questions such as,

"Can I have an iphone?" Followed by the refrain,

"Everyone has one."

When I have questioned my kids  as to  who "Everyone" is and suggested calling round to find out, it is often only one or two friends and not the whole grade, that they are thinking about.

At times, we have all been influenced by peers, school expectations, the media and familial relationships and dynamics, for good and for bad.

As we get into our teens and young adulthood, the social perception of what "Everyone" thinks can take on larger than life proportions that can influence us positively or negatively.

The critical voices in our heads may have great bearing on our decisions. Our self-perception can be altered, according to how much store we have set by how we think others perceive us. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

WIN A BOOK and SHARE YOUR LOVE FOR READING (Competition ends April 26)

Do you love books and want to find a way of sharing that passion with others, through giving them a work of fiction for FREE?

Do you wish you had the time/motivation/ money to own and read more books, but in reality read rarely or not at all?

As you may know I am passionate about books. I wrote about how that came about in 10 Books I have Loved

Monday, April 15, 2013

How To Keep Relationships Real in a Virtual World

Last week I spoke about the power and comfort of old friends. This week I want to introduce you to Marin (Miriam), a new friend. 

We first met 2 years ago. I remembered her clearly, but she couldn't place me when I came across her again on my most recent vacation.  Her graciousness and warmth reminded me why my previous experience meeting her had been so positive.....

Monday, April 8, 2013

Jennifer Aniston's Guide to Friendship: Keep It Old

You will not be surprised to discover, if you are a regular reader of my blog or know my family, that whilst we were on vacation, someone was unwell. 

This time it was Jacob's turn      (our 12yr old). A week into the trip he developed a raging fever, that lasted five days. After blood tests, he was diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia and put swiftly on antibiotics.

As I stood in the pharmacy on that sunny Sunday afternoon, with my friend Ofra by my side straining to understand  the pharmacist's directions in Hebrew, I suddenly felt tears well in my eyes. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I Wouldn't Choose This Lens, But It Has Sharpened The Image. Here's Why.

We are vacationing in Israel. Today we visited Machane Yehudah, the food market in Jerusalem. If you've ever stepped inside you might be wondering why on earth we would venture there on the eve of Passover, when we didn't need to shop. 

But it was precisely the chaos of it that drew us into the fray...... 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why We Need to Stop to Admire the View.

( Please note this was previously published on my blog, when it was just a month old in April 2012 and Jonny's health details relate to that time- the message however, I think is timeless!)
As we approach Passover, I have been thinking about the story of the Exodus from Egypt, which we are going to retell next week at our Passover table. These slaves from Egypt were to spend 40 years journeying in the desert. Their goal was to reach Israel. But for many of them, the trip through the desert would take their whole lives and I wondered if  any of them ever stopped  for a minute to admire the view.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Her Majesty's School of Stress Management.

On my window sill in the kitchen stands The Queen. Grey haired, tiara in place, with a fixed smile day and night. You might be surprised that I display something that kitsch there and amused to know that she waves. 
          All day! 
Yes, my Queen is solar powered. On her handbag (purse) is a solar strip, that keeps her going longer than the Ever Ready Bunny. 
And why is she there in perpetuity?

Monday, March 4, 2013

10 Essential Thoughts to Help Us Understand How to Help Children with Special Needs: Josh's Story - Part 2

The Rubin family
Last week I posted part one of a talk by Nancy mother of Josh, a child with medical and emotional issues, and learning disabilities. She spoke to our synagogue community  about what it is like to be Josh and how his lack of a social life is one of the most challenging pieces of his world to navigate. She explained, 
Most children's weekends are packed with birthday parties, play dates and sleepovers.  Children with disabilities have very few of these.  I can count on one hand the number of birthday parties, play dates and sleepovers combined that Josh has been invited to in the last several years.  

Nancy  also talked about how parents have to be resilient when these painful situations arise. 
 ...rather than wallow in our pain, we as parents of children with special needs, stand up, brush ourselves off, and think about what we can do to make our child's life as happy as it can be.  

At the end of last week's  post Nancy posed a crucial question.

So what can we do to be sure all of our kids feel part of our community?

In this week's post, Nancy suggests 10 ways we and our children can be involved in making the world for children with special needs a little bit easier and a little bit happier.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

7 Ways to Help a Child Deal with a Parent Being Seriously Sick

My 12 year old son Jacob, has been inspired to start his own blog. This is a post he wrote for it, without help of any kind. He wants adults to know how they can help children like him, who suddenly find themselves in a situation where someone they love very much is very sick and has to have major surgery. 

He also wants to bring comfort to other children by letting them know they are not alone in having these feelings. 

If you would like more information about Jacob's blog, please email me at or leave a message for him below! -Gilly

About a year ago, my dad had something called Trigeminal Neuralgia. He had something going on with a nerve in his face, and had to have brain surgery. 

As an 11 year old child, I was scared. 

I couldn’t handle it on my own. I needed some things to help me feel better:

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Josh's Story"- A Mother's Brave Account of Her Son's Challenges, Growing Up with Special Needs

Josh on Vacation
A few months ago I wrote a post called Do you feel that  life's unfair? I received a beautiful email from Nancy telling me about the 12 years of challenges and joy her family has had raising Josh, a child with special needs. 

February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness month. This year in our synagogue (Shul) Nancy spoke to the community about what it is like for their family and what we as individuals and as a community as a whole can do to be more inclusive. 

I will be publishing it in two parts. This post tells the compelling story of Josh's life so far. In the next post I'll share Nancy's ten practical suggestions for actions we can all take to help children with special needs feel more included in our communities.

Here is her powerful story.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Breaking News: Why it's not all Black and White

This morning I watched a grey squirrel scamper, spreadeagled, headfirst down the thick magnolia tree trunk outside our dining room window. My first thought was how incredible it was that he was able to do this so effortlessly. My second was that the squirrel was just doing what squirrels are meant to do. 

For the squirrel this feat was no big deal. I am sure he did not reflect on his actions for one second, let alone the amount of time you have just spent reading about him. 

But this got me thinking about our lives and how the hum drum stuff we do without a second thought would look to the squirrel.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Parent Alert: Your Mother was Right

It's a particularly grey, bleak London day here in Potomac Maryland. The dirty white sky and naked tree branches set off against it, look mournful and resigned. 

The streets are empty and I am curled up in our living room trying to write a blog post. 

There are many things I could tell you about.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What a Crisis Can Teach Us About Celebrating.

About six years ago I was sitting at a red light muttering to myself.  

No, I did not need to be referred to an asylum. But I had been getting myself very worked up about an upcoming birthday party for my almost 6 year old. (Jacob)

The endless to do list was swirling in my head as I remonstrated with myself  about planning a party for 18 kindergarteners in my house in a particularly snowy December. As I pulled up to those traffic lights, I was stressing about the weather and the games, party gifts, food and home made birthday cake.

And while that nagging voice continued, I suddenly had an epiphany.........

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Note of Appreciation -The Ultimate Gift

My first morning of a new school year, in my first job as a qualified teacher, is a day I will never forget. 

As I was plastering the pin-boards with encouraging posters, a parent stood looming in the doorway. I don't remember the whole conversation but her final sentence is permanently etched in my memory. Having told me that she was a member of the school board and that her daughter Naomi would be in my class, she concluded sternly…

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rings of Comfort- Tokens For Remembering What's Important.

Skull ringA few weeks before winter break I received an email from Cameron, my guest blogger this week. He had found my blog and identified with many of the posts, because he has been a caregiver for  his wife Heather  since 2005. Heather was diagnosed with Mesothelioma* cancer at the age of 36, after having  given birth to their only child just three months earlier. She was given tough treatment choices and after surgery and chemotherapy, went on to beat all the odds. 

Heather's story is remarkable, as is her zest for living and her determination to love the life she has. 

But so is Cameron's.....