A dog, a jog and a blog

Jogging with dogs

Jogging, blogging and dodging dogs.

Old Navy yoga pants, 50 cent on my MP3 and a bounce in my step…I decided to go for a jog. I regularly jog but this time it would be different. This time I would not complete my route because as I rounded the first corner I saw a dog. It was a mid sized dog on a leash being walked by an older man. I tensed up since it was a narrow alley-way and the dog seemed very excited: jumping and yapping. I stopped and stood on the side waiting for the dog, and its owner, to pass.

Now this is where things got messy.

The dog owner didn’t tighten the leash, the dog started growling and the owner seemed oblivious to the whole thing.  All of a sudden the dog jumped on me and sunk his incisors right into my leg, they went through my pants and right into my calf. I screamed! And once I started screaming I couldn’t stop!

Your freaking dog just bit my leg!!! He bit my leg! I am going to get #*@$^ rabies you $#@#%&^%!!! I have five children!! I am their main caregiver!! I can’t afford to be laid up because of your $%#$%$%^ dog!!!

I realized that I was yelling, as psychotic as I may have seemed. The owner was staring at me blankly and finally when he responded he started to sign to me. This was too much!!! The person walking the dog was deaf! He never heard the dog growling and, even though I couldn’t stop screaming at no one in particular, couldn’t hear me either.

I called the ambulance to treat my leg. The police came and asked if I wanted to file a complaint. They were all wonderful and although I still have teeth marks in my leg and the remnants of the bruise on my leg from the strength of the dog clamping on….I am now on the mend.

I had to miss work for a few days. I was forced to limp around. I needed to rent a car to transport my sorry ass around and my Old Navy yoga pants have four holes in them now from the dog’s teeth. Luckily the dog had all it’s shots so I only needed to get a tetanus shot (which btw, considering my hypochondria, made me think that I had lockjaw).

Now when I see a dog coming towards me I tense up which is not good for a runner like me because I am so often accompanied on my run by canines who like to be my partner for a few kilometers. I had to deal with the trauma of my children who were worried that I would be okay because they have seen me injured before and it rocked the foundation of their security.

So what’s my point?

  1. Train your freaking dogs properly!!!
  2. Pick up after their poop!
  3. Don’t walk aggressive dogs in residential neighborhoods!
  4. Buy me a new pair of yoga pants (size small)
  5. Don’t let anything stop you from running.
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Returning to the basics of Purim

Mishloach Manot

Mishloach Ma-NOT!!!!!

No one needs to impress me, dazzle me, think of me or spend time with me. I am a woman and I am alone.

This really hit home for me this week when I received 1 Mishloach Manot (kudos Last family). Truthfully, I hate the waste that comes with Purim and I dislike the high-school level popularity contest that it represents. When i used to be in the state of coupledom I would receive so many Mishloach Manot that our table was filled to overflowing. And yet, I am content with my status quo.

I came to the realization that i have good friends who may not live close to where I live but are always there for me, I have family whom I love and kids who are the best company.  We had a good time with costumes and delivering Mishloach Manot to the kid’s friends. I felt relieved to make it through Purim without too much financial or emotional strain and my parents shared my seudah with me. I have returned to the basics of Purim.

Now who else can say the same?

Gone with the wind friendships

Dog and cat friends

Friends through it all

When getting divorced, especially in a family oriented community, I have found that many of the people who I thought were friends and couples who I enjoyed many wonderful times with became distant memories. If I may be so bold as to create a comparison: Life is like an outfit; sometimes it flatters you and sometimes it fits, it sometimes needs changing, and sometimes it just makes you fat. Life has accessories too such as friends, homes, cars and a partner. When you change your life “outfit” many tmes your “accessories” need adjusting too. (Please don’t take this literally…it is purely for the sake of literary license).

In some ways the separation comes with a twinge of remorse: the couple who always served the best food, had the greatest views, the most engaging conversations and the best toys for the kids to play with. Other times it comes with an overwhelming feeling of relief. You no longer have to put up with that annoying wife of your husband’s friend who you never have anything to say to or made annoying jokes at someone’s expense.

Let’s just look at our work friends for a minute, our colleagues. When you switch jobs and forlornly say goodbye, you know that these people who you spent every day with for the past few years will most likely drop off the end of your life, never be seen again. It doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on them or on you for that matter even if you both keep saying, “Let’s keep in touch, ok”? For obvious reasons, in people’s fast paced lifestyles proximity does make for an easier friendship and since you never had to make an effort to see each other before what makes you think you would start now?

Are there any specific traits or behaviors that lead to long term friendships?

It reminds me of a book I once read about ordinary everyday people who became heroes due to a heroic act that they did spontaneously. They couldn’t explain what motivated them to act on the spur of the moment. There really was no defining trait for heroic behaviour.  All that they could be sure of was that they were presented with a situation where they just knew that they had to act. What the author wrote in the forward to this book was that we are always so fascinated with what motivates the serial killer or someone who stands on a tower and shoots tens of people or who kidnaps someone and mutilates them and yet we are never fascinated by the reverse scenario: What motivates an ordinary person to act altruistically or heroically?

During my divorce proceedings many of the couples whom I thought to be close seem to have just become part of the unwritten divorce settlement. The reverse is true as well. I have been pleasantly surprised to find myself spending time with people and couples who I never would have in my previous coupled life. I enjoy their company and that’s all there is too it. They are kind and giving and we love to laugh together.

If you are looking for answers as to which friends will move to the other side and which will just fall through the cracks never to be seen or heard from again, I don’t have any. But let me just say that when you are single for the second time around you learn very quickly who your real friends are. You are wearing a new outfit and only you and you alone will decide which accessories look best on you.

And just remember darling: You look fabulous!

A Guest Above The Rest

What type of guest are you?

I grew up in a home where I don’t remember EVER eating a meal without having someone extra at our table.  My parents are great hosts and I know that being a good host/hostess is a challenge. I have seen countless articles and books dealing with the complexities of this role.  Who doesn’t already know this since we are bombarded with Martha Stewart lessons in hors d’oeuvres, napkin folding tips, table settings and beautiful flower arrangements? Hyper-hosting has turned the simple act of having parties and getting together with friends into three course events that usually include a theme and a party planner.

Napkins and flower arrangeements

Hyper-hosting

The other side to this hosting equation receives much less publicity, the forgotten link that can make or break your role as a host:

The guest.

You want your hostess with the mostess to see you as a guestess with the bestess? Here’s my breakdown of the good and bad guests. Plain and simple:

The Bad Guest:

  • The Shmoozer– It is totally irrelevant whether anyone is listening or not. They are totally oblivious as to whether people are interested in what they have to say and they can stay for countless hours after all others have left to continue their “fascinating “ conversation with whoever is not yet nodding off to sleep.
  • The Cruiser– this is the guest who just stopped by long enough to eat the last danish, make a promise about that they will be back again real soon, to use the bathroom and to make a grand exit.
  • The Loser– they never seem to have plans and for a good reason. Whether it’s their lack of social etiquette or their inability to make eye contact. They are the ones who bring their leftover bread slices and pineapple juice to “share” so that it doesn’t go bad and they generally aren’t able to connect with anyone inparticular despite repeated attempts on everyone’s part to make conversation.
  • The User– These are guests of convenience. Their convenience, not yours. Once they don’t need you anymore you will never hear from them again.
  • The Abuser- They make sure to let you know in advance that they only eat japanese vegetarian food, that the music is too loud, the soup too salty, and they apologize profusely while asking you to wrap up the leftovers for them to take home. 
  • The Muser- They don’t comment, compliment or join in the conversation and they tend to spend most of their time staring into space. You wonder if they are philosophers and if there is MORE to them than meets the eye when really there is LESS…much, much less. You wonder if your meal will be the contributing factor to their suicide attempt when, miraculously, on their way out they somehow manage to mumble: “Thanks, I had a great time.”

The Good Guest:

Gratitude goes a long way…
  • Give- Just bring something, damn it, even when your host insists otherwise.
  • Gauge- Don’t be oblivious to everyone around you. Yes, Spanish Inquisition Era manuscripts may be fascinating to YOU but if everyone else is staring into space then zip-it!
  • Good Nights- Overnight guests should not overuse any one household item without confirming that it is ok with their hosts first. Don’t take overly long showers, don’t leave a mess in the bathroom, don’t leave wet towels on the floor and make sure to keep your room neat when you are going out.
  • Grace- you walk into a room and see people talking, recognize when it’s a conversation that requires privacy and don’t get involved.
  • Gratitude- Make sure to thank your host at different moments during your stay as a guest. It’s all about gratitude. Thank them for thinking of you when you arrive. Thank them again when you leave and make sure to compliment. Compliment their home, their cooking, their efforts and their kindness. And please try to sound sincere.
  • Gregarious- Smile and the world smiles with you. Meal time is not the time to burden everyone with your hardships and woes unless you are very close with your hosts. Smile, shmooze and enjoy.
  • Guess- Ask questions, show interest in others around you.
  • Giddy-Up! HAVE FUN! Nothing more fun than a guest who knows how to enjoy themselves.

Remembering David

Rose

Mourning the Loss

I wanted to share this with you all if you don’t mind.

Today is the 8th Yahrtzeit (anniversary of his death) of my Uncle, David Rosenzweig, who was stabbed and killed down the street from where I lived in Toronto, while waiting with his son for a tow truck.

He was an amazing man in so many ways. He was kind, thoughtful, generous, and honest in business and a truly proud Jew. His parents who were Holocaust survivors always took pride in his achievements and yet he somehow always had time for them, for his kids his wife and for all of us. They would never have thought that they would lose another close relative, a son, to a hate crime after leaving the shores of Europe for Canada. His wife, Chavi,  is an amazing woman who to this day continues to deal with her loss in a super human way.

I remember his sudden and senseless death every year, especially since this private mourning also takes place during “the three weeks”, a time of collective mourning for the Jewish people.

Moses was born and died on the same Jewish day. This is indicative of his righteous character. We should not only be saddened by our loss on the date of his death but we should also be reminded to celebrate his birth and how valuable his contribution to the world was. So too, my Uncle David, was born and killed on the same Hebrew day. He was one of the righteous among us.

May his soul be elevated and may he be a pleader for good for the entire Jewish people and let us all strive never to take for granted how lucky we are to be in our land, the Land of Israel, living proudly as Jews.

Shabbat Shalom.

Just some articles and comments for those of you who aren’t familiar with his murder.

http://www.jewishtoronto.com/page.aspx?id=80675

http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/1359

http://www.jewishpress.com/printArticle.cfm?contentid=14084

Coffee, newspapers and lots of kindness

So, here’s the deal.

I was downtown. When I finished with my errands, I headed down to Jaffa street to wait for the 13 bus. At that point, I hadn’t yet had my morning coffee and I was very hungry. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself how some people live on a regular basis without knowing where their next meal will come from. The thought passed through my mind and as quickly as it came, it left.

By the bus stop a  man was giving out the “Jerusalem Hayom” newspaper. People seemed to know him and would stop to chat with him and pat him on the back as they passed. One bus-driver even slowed down and opened his doors. I watched with curiosity and intrigue as the man folded up one of his newspapers and threw it 10 meters, right through the door of the bus, landing in the bus driver’s lap. They gave each other a smile and thumbs up and the bus continued on.

Suddenly, I noticed a woman coming across the street with a cup of coffee in her hands. She hands it to the man and wishes him a good day. The happiness from this single cup of coffee showed on the man’s face. What an amazing act of kindness she did by remembering someone less fortunate than her. This aroused something deep inside me. I was inspired!

It was there that the beginning part of my day made sense to me. My downtown visit has started with me walking down Ben-Yehuda. It was still early and most of the stores hadn’t opened yet. In the centre of Jerusalem, even early in the morning, there is always activity. I enjoy that feeling of the fresh morning air that has settled over the streets, not yet polluted by the soon approaching traffic. And that little bit of mist in the air, which is a leftover from the dew.

Many people are in a hurry to get where they are going and very few have a chance to slow down and take a look around them. That day, I was not rushed and I was enjoying just strolling and looking around me. Unfortunately, I had left the house without eating, and I was starting to feel hungry. No matter. I would wait until I finished my errands and would eat when I got back home. The fact that I was a little hungry and I was not pressured to get anywhere that day I feel somehow contributed to what happened next.

I noticed the people around me who were homeless or struggling and looking for a handout or kind word from the people passing by. It pained me greatly to see a person lying on the floor, without anyone to lift him up and to comfort him. I have great respect for the music street players, who play with enthusiasm in order to earn some money for their lunch or dinner. There are many other people who are just sitting around. Maybe they are waiting: waiting for something to happen, waiting for the soup kitchen to open and give them something to eat or maybe they are waiting for Godot (but God knows he never comes!). I don’t know who they are or why they are there. They just are.

Especially after witnessing the act of kindness by bringing a cup of coffee to someone who was working and struggling in the heat of the day, I couldn’t help but be conscious of the fact we have a definite void in Jerusalem, a city where there are so many charitable organizations and social organizations. We may have health care. We may have soup kitchens We may have  multiple charities. But there is something still missing.

A few years ago my dear Uncle Avrum filled that void in Toronto. And I think the time has come for us to fill it here in our holy city of Jerusalem.

Avrum Rosensweig

MY Uncle Avrum

The Mobile Jewish Response to the Homeless is a way for us to reach out to the homeless and those in need without forcing them to be exposed or to leave their comfort zones. It helps us be able to connect with people on the streets, around the city and offer them food, drinks, and a comforting word.

To be continued!

Running My First Half Marathon

 

Jerusalem Half-Marathon pictures

Pre Marathon with Family

I was near the end…I knew that nothing would stop me from getting to the finish line… 

And there it was, in front of me. I felt my feet move from the hard surface of the asphalt to the cushioned turf of the race track. I kept running. I was almost there. I saw the finish line ahead of me. People all around me were socializing, basking in the glory of their newly achieved victory, wishing their loved ones and friends congratulations. And I would be there soon. 

I DID IT! Two hours and fourteen minutes later, I crossed the finish line. I looked around me. My body was totally drained. I had no energy to even stand anymore. I sat down on the grass. I looked around but I couldn’t find anything to quench that unbelievable thirst I was feeling. No popsicles, no water, nothing! I lay down and looked up at the sky. What had started off as grey and gloomy that morning was now blue with white fluffy clouds above me. I didn’t stretch. I would definitely pay for that later. I was feeling this great high and terrible low all at the same time. My sister stood over me, not exactly sure what to do or how to help…feeling helpless. Someone brought me a sugar drink and a muffin; I don’t know who it was but it was a definite act of kindness on their part. Mental note to self: Next time bring food, drinks, toilet paper and lots of courage.

This was my first time running a half-marathon. The Jerusalem half-marathon is a stunning and inspiring run. We ran through ancient valleys, parks, through the Jerusalem forest, to the top of the hills of the neighborhood Bayit Vegan, down towards the Malcha valley and back to the University. It was breathtaking.

I have been training for this event in a truly committed way from my home town, Efrat. It is hilly in my home town so it was definitely a familiar thing for me to run on uneven terrain when I ran in Jerusalem. It was so beautiful to look out onto the hills and the beautiful views Jerusalem has to offer while listening to Matisyahu’s song about Jerusalem. And even when I was listening to 50 Cent (he’s such a poet) I felt this burning determination to do this thing. 

I said to me, “Self, you are going to finish this run! Not because you are in better shape than anyone here running with you, not because you are stronger or even because you are more fit. You are going to finish this race because you are determined to do so. And that was that!”

Me finishing the race

Me crossing the finish line

The will of man/woman coupled with opportunity is a sure fire recipe for success. Thank you God for the opportunity and thank you to myself for not giving up! This post was written in honor of the children of Shalva and their families who have the will. May God give them all the opportunities they need to make their lives truly beautiful!