Hold the Bus!

I was walking down the street with a million thoughts going through my head. Just strolling along (lah dee dah) enjoying my day in the city. When suddenly,  I feel this nip at my leg. A dog! He almost bit me! And now this mangy mutt is barking his head off at me! I yell- Aaaah! Now what? I know I shouldn’t run, he will chase me, but what else can I do: Fight or flight? I am a Canadian for goodness sake! RUN!

And as I am running and trying not think about Rabies and my own funeral, I see the bus coming. Yay, the bus! I lift my knees up and run, damn it, I run! I am quick!? I even shock myself. Even when a person is running for the bus yelling, “Hold the Bus” they are usually ignored as the bus drives away. My theory is that if you look like you are moving quickly, then sometimes the bus driver has the patience to wait. That old woman with the heavy grocery bags has very little chance of making it. Trust me.

This time, the bus driver sees me coming and actually keeps the doors open for me.  Was I fast? I get on the bus and go to sit down. And that’s when I notice that I am barely out of breath. I am comfortable and I don’t have pains in my sides and everywhere else in my body. Wow! Am I in shape?

I used to run every day.

I am not talking about the kind of running people pretend to be doing because they are busy, like when you are talking on the phone and you have to hang up so you say, “I have to run”. I am talking about exercise. The good, ol’ fashioned, put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-and-move-your-butt, running!

And then there was this large span of time, let’s call it life, that came between me and the world of exercise. I wouldn’t say that I became a couch potato since I was busy doing things like going to school, raising kids, community service, moving etc. But exercise was one of those things that I always planned to do as soon as I had a free moment, which by the way, never came.

Until now.

Today I played Frisbee with two of my boys. It was such great fun and it brought back memories of my years as a kid playing Frisbee tag in the school courtyard. We were good! We could slice someone in the calf with a Frisbee like nobody’s business. And here I was running back and forth, shooting the Frisbee, catching it, laughing with my boys, and not feeling even the littlest bit like I wish I were back at home lying on my couch. I am physically tolerable (I try not to use expletives when describing myself).

I am slowly trying to build up my stamina to be able to run a half marathon in January for Chai Lifeline. It’s not easy but I am working hard to succeed. I even set up my profile in order to get donations and I am determined. But people, you should know that no matter what the world of athletic wear and power drinks tell you, there are still some advantages to not exercising which are  sometimes overlooked.

You don’t sit around complaining about knee pain and joint stiffness.

You sleep more hours.

You don’t have to replace your running shoes very often if they spend most of their time in your closet. Between the time I bought running shoes in the 90s until I replaced them this year, so many things had changed in the world of running shoes. You cannot buy a plain running shoe anymore.  I found myself in the Nike store being told by the salesperson about all of the advantages of buying a shoe like the Pegasus or Arch Fit (which all, by the way, looked the same to me except for the price tag on the sole of the shoe.). I tried to justify my purchase by figuring out how much money I was saving on chiropractors and podiatrists by buying these shoes.

But the real truth is that getting in shape is liberating. I want that freedom.

I run, therefore I am.

 

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Shopping With Pride at the Drugstore

So there I was, in line at the Pharmacy in Toronto with a cart overflowing with Gold Bond Extreme and Always Ultra Maxi Pads with wings. I mean it! My cart was packed to the brim! Other people in line with me were pretending that they didn’t notice anything unusual. They would eventually start rummaging through the large variety of breath mints available to them, anything,  just not to notice me or my cart filled with very personal hygiene items.

At some point customers start to watch me closely out of the corner of their eye to see if I am gushing blood or itching my body uncontrollably. When that doesn’t seem to be an issue they move on to the second stage which is pity. Their eyes take on this glazed, puppy dog, I-wonder-how-she-lives-with-herself, sort of look. And through it all I pretend to be a totally normal, not caring, happy-go-lucky, no problems here, sort of gal.I might even try skipping out of the store (for the effect), although being burdened with many bags of maxi-pads doesn’t make it easy and I end up looking injured.

Shopping at a pharmacy can be a very unnerving experience. Sure they load the front of the store with perfumes, shampoos and makeup, but those things are there to disguise the real purpose of a drug store…and I won’t tell you what that is, because it’s personal!

It is so hard to leave the pharmacy with your self respect still intact. Whether it’s because most pharmacists are hard of hearing and you eventually end up yelling in their ear the exact item you were blushing about privately in your doctor’s office the day before. Or maybe because you meet the Rabbi of your synagogue in the checkout line or your nice innocent grade 1 teacher while you are trying to improve your overall “lifestyle”. I mean, you can hide the item in your sleeve but eventually that thing is going on the conveyor belt and everyone sees.

When my family first moved to Israel in 1990, there was no Super pharmacies. The only pharmacies available to us were those little mom and pop stores. I mean, there were sanitary pads, but no Always with Wings!!! So when I would travel back to Canada every summer I was the one responsible for stocking up on all of the items that my family back in Israel would need for the coming year.

Unfortunately, I just got sick of explaining it to anyone (since it inevitably would lead to follow up questions like: You live in Israel, ay? What’s that like, ay?) so I decided to be strong and to withstand the pitiful glances.

Is there a solution? Not really. I highly recommend just getting through the store and paying as quickly as possible. Wear large baggy sleeves and try to buy lots of other small colorful items that you don’t really need to distract people from the thing you really came for. And last but not least, remember people, you aren’t the only ones buying it!

The ten second interview with myself

I had a need to review my likes and dislikes this morning so I decided to do it in the form of an interview with myself. (In case you haven’t noticed, I am a little bit crazy). Okay, here goes!

Interviewer: So Devora, how are you doing today?

Devora: S.O.S., different day

Interviewer: Glad to hear it. I am going to ask you some questions and you will have ten seconds to answer each one. Are you ready?

Devora: Go for it.

Interviewer: Okay here goes: What’s your favorite colour?

Devora: Blue for design, black for clothes

Interviewer: Favorite singer?

Devora: Susanne Vega or Billy Joel, they’re both up there

Interviewer: Favorite Band?

Devora: hmmm, pearl jam, U2, The doors, Pink Floyd, The beatles, Mamas and The Papas? I don’t really know Next!

Interviewer: Favorite food?

Devora: Sushi

Interviewer: Favorite alcoholic drink?

Devora: Single malt scotch or a white russian.

Interviewer: What exercise do you do the most?

Devora: jogging and walking

Interviewer: Any other forms of exercise you enjoy?

Devora: Yoga

Interviewer: If you could meet anyone at all in the history of the world who would you choose?

Devora: Ernest Hemingway, Tuvia Bielski or Moshe Rabbeinu. I guess it depends on who is available at the time. Maybe we could all hang out together.

Interviewer: What would you ask them?

Devora: Hemingway I would want to know about what it was like to be in Spain and watch the bull fights. Tuvia i would ask him what it was that made him develop such an intense feeling of responsibility towards saving Jews. And Moshe, I want to know how he could love a nation so deeply that made his life so difficult over and over again. Then we would all have a L’Chaim.

Interviewer: What makes you suffer?

Devora: Itchy tags in my clothing, the smell of the pork in the Schneider factory in Kitchener, humidity, cheesy foods, silence, gossip and badly dressed women.

Interviewer: Aren’t you late for the bris this morning?

Devora: *@$#&! Gotta go!

Ten Ways to Make Sure Your Guests Don’t Overstay

I am not a bad person.

I grew up in a home where guests were never turned away.

We have always welcomed everyone into our homes. That being said, there is always the ongoing joke about having guests that never leave. (I once stayed on as a guest for two years! Okay, it was at my parents house, but still!)

My parents are the type of people who welcome guests with open arms and really truly mean it! No matter how long they may decide to stay. My siblings and I always love to recount the stories of the fun and unusual guests who visited our home during our years growing and up and even since then. We love to get started with the story about the time we came into the kitchen and found my mother reviewing the situation of one of our lone soldier’s heat rashes (don’t worry, it wasn’t you Aharon). We were appalled but, as my mother sees it, he needed some motherly advice and his mother was far away.

Most of us are not like my parents, we may never be. And although my ideal self is always striving to reach that goal, I am still the same ol’ person who likes my privacy and my space.

So on a nice light note I have decided to compile a list of surefire ways to get your point across to your guests that it’s time for them to leave, without being too direct. Here goes:

10) Make meatballs for supper and serve them on paper plates (not Plastic) so that everything soaks through to the other side and stains their last set of clean clothes.

9) Play your saxophone late at night for some “practice”.

8) When they are having a shower keep flushing the toilet.

7) (Continued from 8…) When they get out of the shower, only have a washcloth sized towel for them to dry off with, sort of like a John Candy-Steve Martin scene from “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”.

6) Allow your children to play “American Idol” early in the morning with the new microphone and amplifier set you just bought them.

5) Serve everyone lots of gassy foods like cabbage and bean stew so that the whole place stinks (and just remind yourself that it’s only temporary and that the ends justify the means).

4) Talk very loudly about the last guest that stayed with you who disappeared and no one has heard from since. And then comment about how well your tulips are growing, at the edge of your backyard, this year.

3) Start making out with your partner on the living room couch while your guest is  sitting next to you reading the newspaper.

2) Give them a key to the front door, but make sure it’s the wrong one.

1) Get a nice big shaggy hairy dog and let it sleep at the end of their bed.

Is My Laundry Following Me Again?

My Laundry Basket

My Laundry Basket

I have laundry piled up to the ceiling.

The floors in my kitchen are dirty and sticky.

I haven’t made the beds.

There is nothing cooking on the stove for supper and my kids are all in desperate need of a bath as they happily dig a hole in the sand in hopes of reaching the other side of the world.

But I put on some lipstick, clean clothes, push my hair this way and that, deodorant, perfume, sunglasses and I am out the door leaving it all behind. No one knows anything about the disaster I left behind my closed door because I look clean and put together. So there!

You can leave your laundry at home but your body and your physical being you take with you everywhere. That is one of the main reasons why personal image comes first when a person is looking to upgrade their sense of self.

Yes, I admit, there is great satisfaction in putting away the laundry, clean floors, dishes neatly stacked and all the kids in bed, nicely bathed and nails trimmed etc. But wait! I am sorry to cut in (if you read my previous articles you already know that I am a party pooper) who besides yourself (and maybe your closest partner, if they are sensitive to your plight) knows anything about the utmost effort you put into reaching this pseudo goal?

And guess what? You are never finished, so don’t think you are…you see those crumbs in the corner, the pile of clothes that need hand washing, the broken items that should be fixed? It is all still waiting for you.

This is the first in my long list of arguments as to why it is important to invest time and effort in yourself. All battles are constant and never ending. But your time and energy are valuable resources that are limited.

So make good choices. There is beauty inside every person just waiting to be recognized. Waiting to be maximized. Sometimes I wonder how the events in the Garden of Eden could have turned out differently. Maybe if Adam had spent less time trying to impress Eve by rubbing two sticks together to create fire and more time focusing on her beauty and complimenting her then things would have gone smoother in their relationship. I mean, it was their first Saturday night together!

It all starts with a person’s commitment to themselves and to their health, well being and image. Sometimes change comes slowly by committing to never wear socks with holes in them anymore. No one knows about this change except you but it is the beginning of empowerment by caring about yourself. Sometimes the change can be more noticeable like some new clothes, a better hair style, skin care. Awareness is the first step.

Change follows closely behind.

To be continued…

What a Nightmare!

I just couldn’t believe how much money I owed! There was this guy who once cleaned my car, not even upholstery cleaning, just garbage removal and some exterior washing who kept chasing me to pay him 940 shekels for the job. Then there was this time I stayed in a hotel and they said they would send me the bill in the mail and the bill was totally exaggerated but I couldn’t prove it because it was a few weeks ago! And the guy at the grocery store is after me to pay 5000 shekels for the overly enormous shopping I did one time.
And then, thank the Lord, I woke up!
That’s what I get for sleeping 11.5 hours last night. Ha ha.

Setting Up Your Home

Ten years ago, when I still newly married and living in Toronto, Canada, I used to love to visit this houseware’s store called Cayne’s. I used the excuse that I needed something specific but I really didn’t need a reason to go there because I would always find something there I needed or could use at home anyways.

I drove 45 minutes from my home to buy this specific item of the utmost importance to my life although I don’t remember what it was. I would never leave that store without a cartload of things that I didn’t come for and I would usually forget the thing that I did. No matter, since it was probably something boring anyways, a peeler, dish-drainer, strainer…

At the store there was this woman shopper who was obviously engaged to be married, and was going through the store with the saleswoman who was “helping” her make a list for her registry. You know, the usual household necessities like pots & pans, fondue sets, glasses, cutlery…FONDUE SETS!

3-in-1 30 pc. fondue set

3-in-1 30 pc. fondue set

Did you hear me?? What is this woman? Martha Stewart? Julia Child? For goodness sake! Who makes fondue?

She fell for it hook, line and sinker. She registered for the fondue set.

I was thinking about this woman this past week when I was privileged to see my cousin’s daughter get married. She is young and just starting out on her path in life with a wonderful guy whom she has known for years. They are a sweet couple. So excited, idealistic and energetic. There is such beauty in seeing young people dancing enthusiastically at their wedding.

But just like at many other points in my life, I am purely practical. I am no fun! When they bring out the fried chicken pieces at the buffet reception all I can do is stare in awe at people loading up their plates and say, “Yuck! Do you know how fattening those things are?” Party Pooper you say? That’s me!

At this wedding my highly practical mind began its designated purpose in life. I start thinking about the proper organization that goes into setting up your first home. Whether a person has just gotten married, moved out on their own, moved to another city, or just started out their life anew, there is the need for stuff! Lots and lots of stuff. Stuff that makes day-to-day life bearable and maybe even enjoyable (gulp, did I say that?)

I would love to meet the woman from the housewares store today. I want to ask her how she felt about her registry. Was there anything that she wished she had bought? That she was sorry she wasted the money on? What were the items that she decided to donate to the “poor” many years ago? Did she ever use the football shaped chip bowl or the glasses set that included all shapes and sizes most of which are only useful to someone who is a professional bartender or who has kidney damage and needs to drink 1.5 litres of water at every sitting.

I most likely won’t meet that woman so I will have to rely on my own judgment and personal experience. I have compiled a list of the important items a person should prioritize when setting up their home. These items you will use on a daily basis and unless you have a family tradition to make spring rolls every week under duress, this list should suffice. To all you newlyweds out there, newly divorced, just moved to a new city, just left home et. al, this if for you! And to all of you people who are pondering whether to keep the vacuum cleaner or the electric volcano light, this one’s for you too!

Kitchen

  • Dishes- cutlery, glasses (water, wine, old fashioned), mugs, plates, bowls
  • Baking Utensils- cookie sheets, baking sheets, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, spatula
  • Cooking Utensils- Colander, cutting board, knife set, ladle, serving spoons, pots and pans,
  • Much Needed- bottle opener, can opener, oven mitts, pot holders, peeler, wooden spoon
  • Small appliances- blender, coffee maker, hand mixer, toaster, microwave, kettle
  • Kitchen Furniture- Chairs, kitchen table, garbage can
  • Miscellaneous- dish towels, dish drying rack, plaastic food storage containers, paper towel holder, salt and pepper shakers, sponges, tableclothes, placemats

Bathroom

  • Scale, bath rug, shower curtain with liner or plastic, and shower rings, toilet brush, towels, towel bar or ring, trash can, toilet plunger, soap dish or dispenser, toilet paper and holder, shower head with bar and caddy

Living Room

  • Storage- Bookshelf, CD storage, DVD/VHS storage, magazine rack, TV stand, wall hooks for hats and coats
  • Seating Area- Coffee table, couch, rug, floor lamp
  • Office area- Desk, desk lamp, office chair

Important Odds and Ends

  • First Aid- Band aids, anti-biotic ointment, antiseptic, thermometer, acetaminophen, ibuprofen
  • Safety- Carbon Monoxide Detector, flashlight, smoke detector, fire extinguisher
  • Tools/Hardware- batteries, light bulbs, drill, extension cords, hammer, screwdriver set, level, measuring tape, pliers, step ladder, wrench and surge protector on your more important plugs and appliances
  • Cleaning Supplies- broom, dustpan, mop and bucket, rags, vacuum, cleaning supplies, rubber gloves
  • Laundry Room- drying rack, iron, ironing board, clothes hampers and laundry baskets.

Bedroom

  • Headboard or bed frame, mattress, boxspring, nightstand, bedside lamp
  • Bed Sheets, pillowcases, comforter, duvet cover, mattress pad, pillows
  • Alarm clock, hangers, fan, full length mirror, clothes cabinet or clothes storage