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My friend, Kevin, always says to me, “one miracle at a time.”  To me that comment means to set a goal and then accomplish it.  I don’t like his line. I like mine better, “look for miracles every day”.  I am always looking for the miracles in my life.  I call them Bershert, which means destiny in hebrew.  It means that G-d has a plan for all of us. We just need to be on the look out for them and listen to them.  I am always on the outlook for them. I find them everywhere. 

I went into private practice because I ran into a former classmate who told me about a nation-wide test.  When I called the place giving the test, they said that they were extending applications from two to three weeks because of the lack of response. With the extra week, I was able to turn in all of the required documents.  Then I talked to a friend about the test, and he said that when I passed the test to let him know.  He was the Clinical Director for a small clinic. Due to all of these small miracles I am now doing a job that I love. Was that not all Beshert?

Another place full of miracles is at work. I am a therapist. Usually, one gets direct client referrals.  This means one person gives your name to another person. I have had many instances of  having clients that are connected to each other and they have no idea that they are both seeing me.  When I checked with other therapists about this phenomena, they said that they had never had it happen.  By the way I work in a fairly large city.  These are some of the miracles…. 1) twice I have had spouses, 2) one set of brothers at the same time, 3) father-in-law and daughter-in-law, 4) former father-in-law and son-in-law, and the most emotionally shocking was a father and daughter.  The daughter is a long time client. One day, her father showed up on my schedule. Due to Hippa laws I could not ask either one of them for permission to see the father. But I knew that G-d had a plan for me.  When I met the father, I asked him how he was directly referred to me? He said that he was seeing a therapist, who felt that he needed a new therapist. She said to him, “There is a therapist I want for you to go see. I do not know her personally and she does not know me.  But I have heard good things about her.”  And, yes, eventually the father and daughter discussed going to therapy and discovered that they were both seeing me and continued to do so.

Last summer I was thinking about going to a golf scramble.  But the weather was going to be in the 90s and I was having second thoughts.  I was thinking of all the things that I needed to do at home.  Two of my friends happen to be in contact with me, and told me repeatedly to go to the golf outing. So, I gave in, and went.  And met a man that I am still dating.  I say their encouragement was Beshert!

About a month ago, I heard a wonderful speaker named Yitta Halberstam from Brooklyn, New York.  She  is the author of  “Small Miracles- Extraordinary Coincidences from Everyday Life.”  

I believe that many things that happen to me, happen for a reason.  And the reason is the hand of G-d.

Do you have miracles that have happened in your life?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I have been thinking a lot about Respect. Respect for ourselves and for others.  How do we show Respect?  Where do we learn it from? Why isn’t Respect viewed as an important value in our society?

For those of us who are parents, I feel that it is our obligation to teach our children respect.  We start when they are small by teaching them to use the words “please” and “thank you”.  It is also in the tone of the voice and how we address others.  By the time my son was in seventh grade he was over six feet tall. I think that one of the best compliments I have received as a parent was from the high school assistant principal.  When my son was sent to the office, I called to discuss what he did wrong.  She said to me, “I have never met your son before, but I want for you to know that he has been very respectful to me. I know that this is something that he learned at home.”   I have a male friend who has impressed me with the values he is teaching his elementary school nephews.  We were at a football field for their practice, and he called them over.  When he introduced them to me, he said to them… Look her in the eyes and say ‘Nice to meet you,  Cheri.”  He also teaches them to shake hands, but since they were dirty from practice, this part of greeting was omitted.  I am not always consistent on making my children talk with respect to me, it is a daily battle.  My son told me that he would go to his high school friends’ houses, and his friends would yell at their parents in front of him. I find this behavior embarrassing but I also have lost respect for parents who allow their children to treat them that way and publicly humiliate them. 

I am a professional, and people come to me for professional services.  I dress in a skirt or dress, with nylons, high heels, make-up and jewelry.  I know that my clients do not care if  I  even wear blue jeans.  But, I am making a statement.  I am saying to my clients, I am dressed in order to show respect to you.  You are here to see a professional and I should look like a professional, and not like I am going to clean my house.  When  I attend a religious services, a wedding or a funeral… I also dress up.  I am showing respect to G-d at religious service, or to the people who are getting married, or to the people who are in mourning.  Wearing blue jeans at an important event, shows a lack of care and respect for ones’ self and the other people.  I have been told that clothes do not matter.  But I disagree.  And, with stores like Walmart and Goodwill, even those with a limited income can attend special occassions in clothes other than blue jeans.  I also talk to people about respecting themselves.  A woman who walks around in public with three quarters of her breasts showing is not someone who has respect for herself.  Nor does the woman who’s tuchas is falling out of her shorts. 

Parents, teachers and other role models need to teach children respect for themselves and for others.  This is an important part of self-esteem.  I am still appalled at Joe Wilson’s disrespect for our President.  If this his how he treats the most powerful man in the United States… how does he treat his constituents, or his staff or the waiter at a restaurant or his cleaning person?  Did his parents not teach him the importance of respect? 

I know that many of you that read this blog, already posses respect for yourselves and others.  But, perhaps this blog will inspire you to teach it to others.  Go forth men and women and shine the light of Respect on everyone with whom you encounter!

This year has been the year for my childhood to revisit me.  It has been a strange, eye-opening and surprising experience.  Thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected to childhood friends whom I have not had contact in 30-40 years. 

I grew up in a working class neighborhood.  Cookie cutter houses that were built in the early 1960’s, that were about twelve hundred square feet.    Every house was the same.  Our street had ten houses, five of them were young families.  We played kick the can, hide and seek, we fought, and we played chicken. During the school year seven or more of us would walk together to school,  picking up more kids on the other street as we walked the two blocks to school.  And, when you wanted for someone to come out and play, you would stand on their front porch and sing, “Cindy, Oh Cindy, Will You Come Out and Play With Me?’.   How silly that chant sounds today, but it makes me smile.  I love my childhood, it was full of fun, and innocence and the realities of divorce and parents who died too early…. although they existed, did not seem to penetrate our childish world. 

Self images were developed.  There is a picture of Connie and me, standing next to each other in our bathing suits at the beach. I was 11 years and still a flat chested, figureless, stick figure. Connie, a year old, had already developed breasts and curves.  That image of myself as being shapeless, stayed with me until my 40s.  That is in spite of years of being told by men that I had a figure.  I hid my body behind large clothes because that bathing suit picture became my reality.  A wonderful surprise happened just the other day.  I ran into Connie’s brother Matt, at the local Arby’s.  I encouraged Matt to follow through on his desire to hold a reunion of our small street.  We started naming the people on our street. Then the man in the next table spoke up, and said “I am Gary!”  I think all of Arby’s heard my squeal.  We did not recognize Gary. But we remember him well !!!!  We have not seen him in 37 years!!!  It warmed my heart as Matt and Gary reminisced about how my father would take them golfing.  I had no idea that my father did that.

This has also been the year of  my thirtieth High School Reunion.  Mark started a Face Book page.  Hence, I have reconnected with many people whom I still carry fond memories.  Rose and I were quite close in Junior High and High School. She was always been one of my favorite people. But, by the end of High School we had gone our separate ways.  We have now reconnected and have met for dinner many times.  The surprisingly happy thing of it all, is to know what great taste I had in certain people back then. I adore Rose.  She remains an intelligent, witty, interesting  person, who  fascinates me today as much as she did in Junior High.  She is definitely a diamond and bright star in my life.   The other special thing that happened is reconnecting with Taryn. I have always liked Taryn.  She was quiet in school, and I never saw a reason to not like her.  Taryn told me this year, that she always appreciated that I said “Hello” to her all the time at school.  I have always been a friendly person.  So, it shocked me to learn, that my just being my flaky self, had such an impact on someone else! What a wonderful compliment, and a reminder that small acts of kindness/friendliness can have a life long impact on some people. 

I went to my 20th and 25th High School Reunions, they were all right, but I did not want to attend my 3oth.  Alas, I stupidly promised Taryn that if she traveled to Michigan all the way from Colorado, I would go with her to the reunion.  I still wasn’ t thrilled.  So I decided that I would find ten things that were highlights of the evening to me.

30th High School Reunion Highlights to Me

1) We were 45 minutes late.  (I told you I really didn’t want to go…  LOL)  Upon our arrival I saw Eileen sitting on the stoop of the restaurant, with the back door closed.  She looked like she had been kicked out of the Reunion for doing something naughty.  The idea made me laugh. Ok, she was really smoking a cigarette. 

2) Dawn came with her “date” Denise. Funny how we all carry the stigma of not wanting to be erroneously labeled “gay”.  Dawn quickly explained that her husband wasn’t able to attend, and she didn’t want to come alone.

3) Becky and Sally wear their hair really short now. My eyes refused to accept the reality and I constantly superimposed shoulder length hair on both of them. That is hard to do when carrying on a conversation, let me tell you.

4)  Barb came up to me and told me that our sons were going to be roommates in college this year.  Grrr I kept telling my son to ask the boy’s parents if I know them and he would never do it.  Turns out , she asked my brother and that is how she found out.

5)  I was in the bathroom and told Jen that I could use more clients.  A stranger in the stall said that she is looking for a therapist.  I gave her my card.  Hey you never know when opportunity occurs or where….LOL.

6) Ben, Ben, Ben.  He kept putting on the Facebook page how much he hated high school.  Imagine my shock and surprise that he came to the Reunion. I insisted on giving him a hug!

7)  Everyone dislikes some part of their body.  For me it is my hair. Second place is my nose. I have been compared to Barbara Streisand and Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing).  I still can’t believe that Ruby told me that she always like my nose.   My nose?? It is big!  I still don’t believe her. 

8) The most beautiful thing that happened is that Taryn won the 50/50 raffle and asked that the money be given to a laid-off person. I give you a standing ovation Taryn!!!

9) Sally and her husband won the prize for the longest marriage 28 years!  Sue came in second place with 27 years! I think that is awesome for both couples.

10)  I think that this was the best Reunion yet! Wtg Jennifer, Jean and Linda !!!!!

To end this lengthly blog… I think that 30 years after graduation is a great time to look back upon one’s childhood.  By then, for most of us…. we have married, maybe sadly divorced, had children, maybe had careers.  But, for the most part, I feel like most of the people have grown up and matured.  I don’t know how to write this, or to explain it… but I walked away from the class reunion feeling like most of us have come into our own.  No longer worrying  about what others will think about us, celebrating each other’s achievements.  Last Saturday night, I felt there was a real sense of people coming together wanting to know sincerely and without judgment… “What have you been doing for the past 30 years?”

Over the years I have talked to countless women about the fears of men lying to them.  Men have lied to them about their income level,  employment, marital/relationship status, substance abuse problems, etc.   Lately, my eyes have been opened to see the difficulties that men encounter when assessing the attractiveness of women. I now feel sorry for men.  We, women, not only superficially enhance but also surgically enhance our bodies to make ourselves more attractive.  Here is a list for men, to remind you…that what you see may not be what you get:

1) Make-up:  All one has to do is watch “What Not To Wear” or peruse “People” magazine to see the drastic difference between what women look like before and after make-up has been applied.  I think that is why many men prefer for women to wear less make up.  Men also have a fear the morning after, of looking at the face of the woman to see if she has any resemblance to the woman who climbed into bed with him the night before.

2) Eyes: I have blue eyes.  I have had them my whole life, and have received many compliments on them.  I was a big hit with the men when I was in Israel three years ago, because most people there had brown or green eyes.  Imagine my shock, when I went on a date, and a man asked if my eyes were truely blue. For many weeks I was insulted by his insinuation, that I was the type of person to change G-d’s given genetic part of me.  But, alas, he did have a point, people do wear different color eye contacts. (Note:  Months later, his question still stings).

3) Breasts:  I know many women who have had breast enlargements.  It is becoming more and more common, thank you Pamela Anderson.  But, we can also enlarge our breast size by wearing heavily padded bras.  Hmmm not to give out too much personal information…. but will someone explain to me why when I go shopping for bras I have a difficult time finding NON-padded bras in D cup?  Why does a D cup need padding???

4) Hair:I am in my late 40s, and my hair stylist says that I am only 10% gray.  But,  I do highlight my hair.  I am not sure how it happened, but when they were born, my two daughters stole my natural highlights and eventually left me with a darker shade of brown.  In the movie, “Ugly Truth”, the main character added hair extensions to make her hair look fuller and longer.  I know lots of Black women who wear wigs.  And, don’t forget that women have been dying their hair for decades.  As my brothers and I began to provide my parents with grandchildren,  my younger brother noticed that none of them had red hair like our mother.  My mother’s family was killed in the Holocaust, so our genetic knowledge in negligible.  I am the family genealogist. So, one day my brother asked me, “Cheri, where does mom’s red hair come from?” And, I looked into his eyes and answered, “The Clairol bottle!”

5) Height: I am only 5’4 1/2.  That is short.  Petite is 5’4.  I wear skirts every day to work, and thus I wear 1-2 inch heels.  I rarely feel short.  The only people who make me feel short are 6′ women and 6’2 men.  But, even wearing high heels, is a deception to men. What if a 6’2 man does not want to have to bend over and hug someone 8 inches shorter than himself??  What if he worries about developing back pain?  When I asked women if a height differential should be a consideration in dating, they told me that if a woman is too short, the man can pick her up and hug her.  They thought it was a funny answer, I am still pondering the image…..

6) Tuchas:  For those who don’t know yiddish, that means butt, behind, etc. I prefer Tuchas or Tush.  Do you know that they make inserts for women, who have a flat tuchas, to make it look like she has a bubble shaped tush???  I think that the only way for a man to tell the difference is by squeezing the tush…lol.

7) Slenderness:  Also for decades women have been wearing corsets, then girdles, and now slenderizers to make their bodies look slimmer.  Imagine my surprise, when a man hugged me, and then said, “Oh you really are as thin as you look!”

8) Soft Skin:Both men and women like soft skin.  But, how does a man know if the woman’s skin is really soft, or did she just apply Eucerin moisturizing creme on her legs?  Maybe if he spends eight hours with her, he will be able to determine the truth.  Lotion doesn’t stay on that long.

Now women, I do not want to hear about men who dye their hair, get tummy tucks etc. Men are not AS concerned about their physical attributes as we are.  And, most men don’t even wear make-up.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it, with a smile on my face and laughing out loud.

Now, I really do have a new found sympathy for men trying to figure out…if what he sees, is really what he will get.

I love to read.  I love to books.  My friend Kevin, has more books than I do. BUT, his friend Dave has a room lined with book shelves and filled with books!!!   My fantasy is to have a room like Dave owns.  I read books about religion, for work as a clinical therapist, the Holocaust, graphic novels (comic books), biographies and romance novels.  I read very little fiction.  I do not like to read fiction for three  reasons.  First of all, if it is based upon real people or real events, it drives me crazy to wonder what is fact and what is fiction.  Secondly, other fictional novels are about hardships in life.  I learn enough about that at work and in the newspaper.  Thirdly, mystery novels frustrate me because I can never figure out the mystery on my own.  I have to wait until the author puts all the clues together for me.  Yes, in the movie “Sixth Sense”, I was shocked to find out that Bruce Willis’ character was dead.  I like to learn.  So I read books that will teach me things. 

The following are some books that I have read and use for work. I will tell you why I think they are worth buying.  They are books that for the most part, can be read over and over again.   

1) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work by Richard Carlson, Phd.  There are 100 topics that deal with different aspects of the work environment.  Each chapter is only 3-4 pages.  One can skip all over the book, and read only the relevant topics.  Carlson gives one ideas on how not to be stressed out in different work situations.

2) Denial Is Not a River in Egypt by Don Ross.  This book was written for alcoholics, but I have recommend it to others. The book is made up of short sayings to inspire you.  The topics are: fear, denial, insanity, ego, resentment, acceptance, healing and laughter.  One of my favorites blurbs that makes me laugh says “Your mind is a dangerous neighborhood, DO NOT go in there alone!”

3) Always Wear Clean Underwear and Other Ways Your Parents Say “I Love You” by Marc Gellman.  This book is for parents or teachers trying to instill ethics and morals into children.  Each chapter is 3-4 pages long. Gellman takes common sayings that parents tell their children and explains the underlying ethical dilemma.  For example:  “Always Wear Clean Underwear”  A doctor will not refuse to you emergency medical treatment if you are wearing dirty underwear. What Gellman says, is that when we put on clean clothes for the world to see, we should put on clean undergarments as well. But the ethic, is that if we appear nice to the outside word, that character attribute should be within us as well.

4) Reviving Ophelia- Saving the Lives of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher, Phd. This is an excellent book for mothers and fathers who want to help their daughters navigate teen-hood, and grow into a positive, self confident young women.   It talks a lot about peer pressure, self esteem, and parents protecting their children from the outside negative messages in society .

5) Girls Will Be Girls- Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by JoAnn Deak, Phd with Teresa Barber.  This book is for girls who are in elementary school.  Their ability to learn new concepts such as music, foreign language and spacial cognitive abilities are easier done before the age of ten.  She explains that girls are more cautious than boys, and thus take fewer risks. I guess that is why women always have to go to the bathroom in pairs.

6) When Children Ask About G-d by Harold Kushner.  I have recommended this book to Jews and Christians.  It explains many religious ideas such as G-d, prayer, miracles … in words that even an adult can comprehend.

7)  The L-rd is My Shephard- Why Do I Still Want by Rabbi Paul Plotkin.  Finally, a book has been written to explain some of the Psalms. This book has been shared with both Jews and Christians.  I have been searching the internet for years for a follow up book.  Very inspirational and educational reading.

8)  The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Mr Chapman’s premise is that we love people the way we want to be loved in return.  That is wrong, because different people love differently.  That is why I do not like the saying, “Do unto others as you would want others to do  unto you”.  Well someone might want for me to give to them a foot rub, but I may not want to receive one back.  Chapman explains the five different ways that people love and  has quizes in the back so that the husband and wife can identify their own love languages.  Then you read the book to not only understand your own love language, but also your signifiant other’s love language. What makes this book worth buying, is that at the end of each chapter there are activities for the couple to do together that will keep the relationship exciting.  I think that every newlyweed and every couple should read this book in order to keep the romance in the relationship ongoing for years and years.   (Well, I am a romantic and believe in happily ever after).

9)  Bi-Polar Disorder Demystified by Lana Castle.  Mrs Castle is bi-polar.  Not only does she do an excellant job of explaining what it is like to be bi-polar, but she includes all symtoms of the diagnosis.  She also explains how psychotropic medicines work in the brain, how vitamins affect our moods and functioning, aroma therapy, and many alternative therapies.  I refer to her book alot. And, if you  are bi-polar or know someone who is, this is an essential book to own.

10) Leave Your Mind Behind- The Everyday Practice of Finding Stillness Amid Rushing Thoughts by Matthew McKay, Phd and Catherine Sutker.  I have spent hundreds of dollars on anxiety books and have never used them.  Deep breathing is nice, but when you are driving down the road and your hands cramp up, deep breathing is a coping skill that is too little and too late.  This book is awesome.  The authors label our thoughts into different categories such as: observation, judgment, fantasy, story telling, planning and fortune telling.  The important lessons in the book are that 1) thoughts are not reality and 2) our thoughts are not necessarily our friends. The authors provide creative and  workable coping skills to decrease negative thoughts. Such as, if you think that no one likes you, try singing that phrase to the tune of Fere Jacques.  After a few minutes you can’t sing it with a straight  face.

I would like to hear from you. What books would you recommend and why?   My focus is on books that can be read over and over again.

I had a conversation with my friend the other night.  And, I am still thinking about it.  We were discussing relationships and how to know what is essential in a relationship.  She said to me, “Cheri, I can go to museums with my girlfriends.  Many people tell me that I am smart, so I do not need that from a man. But, only HE tells me that I am beautiful and sexy and desirable.”  I am happy for my friend and what she has found!!!

I tell people that in relationships we “get what we ask for”.  So I encourage people to work on becoming the best that they can be, and thus they will be in a position to ask more from someone.  I advise people who are ending relationships to take a year off from dating, to get over their break-up or divorce. To get rid of all the old baggage.  I then suggest to them to make a list of what they are looking for in a soul-mate.

The list is easier said than done.  For many reasons, it was scary for me to make a list.  First of all, if everyone has a soul mate and G-d sends that person to you, than why should I make a list? What if my list differs from G-d’s list?  Secondly, to make a list you have to weigh each attribute for the pros and cons.  Really think about what you want.  My girlfriend told me to be careful about making reading books an important attribute.  She made a very good point. She said that her husband and she sit for hours not talking to each other and reading their books.  Plus, most people that I know do not read the books that I read.   Thirdly, to write the list one must have the courage to ask for what you don’t think that you deserve.  For one year I carried my list in my head.  Then I finally wrote the list. That was a difficult experience.  In writing my list I cheated.  A psychic that I go to once a year, gave to me many things that are on my list. 

The list that she gave to me…surprised me, delighted me, and made me think.  She told me to look for things in a man that I do not possess in myself such as: someone who loves to cook, loves animals and loves nature.  My list also taught me about what is important to me.   I do not want to have to help raise someone else’s children. I have seen too many scenarios where the step-parent doesn’t have any power, and is frustrated by their lack of control/influence.  She told me that the guy will have class, integrity and treat me like a princess.  Yes, those are all important things to me.

I have been thinking (or is it fantasizing) that being with your soulmate makes you a better person.  That the coming together of two halves, makes the whole  piece better.  Like ingrediants for a cake by themselves are not that good to eat, but once you mix them all together and bake them..then you have an awesome product.  I think that good relationships should be like that, but I wonder if I have read too many romance novels in my life.

So my advice…make your list and review it often.  This is NOT a wish  list for a Prince Charming.  This is a list of essentials that you cannot live without in a Soul-mate.  And, perhaps then we can increase our odds of finding and choosing our Soul-mates.

The subject of men and food often leave women befuddled about how the male mind works. I have a friend who proudly proclaims that at the age of five he decided what foods he liked and disliked.  I find that notion scary. Especially since my brother refused to eat salad until he was of the legal age of eighteen.

I have heard women state that when they go grocery shopping and ask their husbands what to buy the answer is “Whatever”.  The confusion occurs when she comes home, he reviews what she purchased and says, “I don’t see anything good to eat.”

Then there is the scenario when the couple goes out for dinner and the wife brings home her leftovers. The next day she searches the refrigerator and cannot find the food.  When she questions her husband, he states that he ate it.  The husband sees the disappointment in his wife’s face, and to cheer her up he says, “It wasn’t that good.” In which she responds, “Then why did you eat it?”

One wife told me that she goes to great lengths to hide left over food from her husband.   She puts her name on the food and puts it in the back of the refrigerator.  Incredibly he searches the whole refrigerator, taking out the food in the front, until he finds her stash.

I do not know what the answer is to these scenarios.  All I can say, is that as a woman I remain in a state of confusion.

Do you have Men, Food, and Women’s Confusion tales of your own?