Sunday, June 26, 2022

Our Bodies, Our Selves- a delayed book review

When I was a student at Newton South High School, I took a course with Ms. Hansberry, an English teacher who taught an elective course focused on a newly published (1970) book Our Bodies, Our Selves. The book has since been revised several times and most recently has been updated to serve as a comprehensive women’s health care guide. The 70s were a time of sexual revolution for women. We had been granted the right to abortion and choice in 1973.

At the time I took this course as an elective to meet my core graduation requirements with an easy “A”. I admit I wasn’t an all-out feminist at the time and really just wanted the credit. I didn’t need to be because the difficult fights for my freedoms were fought by the brave women a generation or so ahead of me. It was eye-opening to learn about the struggles of women’s rights in context of this course but the right to choose was now a given as I was about to enter the age of potential sexual activity.

Reflecting on the granting decision of Roe vs Wade this was a monumental right of equality that needed to be set. Many of my generation and future generations took this decision for granted as our fundamental right. We expected to be equal in all our freedoms. The "Women's Lib Movement" had done the hard work.

Once a constitution right is given, how can it be taken away? The consequences of this past week's Supreme Court decision to uphold Roe vs. Wade will affect the lives and health of millions. All people should have the fundamental right to make their own health decisions. It astonishes me that a fundamental health right can be rescinded. 

Women should not be forced to live in an alpha-male dystopia like The Hand Maid’s Tale. Women should not be considered vehicles that can be impregnated and forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. I do not think abortion should be used as a method of birth control, however I do think that if a women’s body is violated or she has personal reasons or health concerns she should have the right to choose if she wants to carry a pregnancy. This should be a human right in any civilized society.

It is now up to each of us to stand up and fight for our individual freedoms. I went to my first rally yesterday on the Cape. Our voices must be heard.  Many ask where can we do right now? Here is a link from today's NYT with some immediate guidance


State elections are more important than ever. Organizations like Vote Save America will share important information at the state level. 

Each vote will count on the local level. If you are not registered to vote it is your obligation to vote if you want change. Please click here to register. Every VOTE will count. I now understand the IMPORTANCE of LOCAL ELECTIONS. 

When I read Our Bodies, Our Selves over 50 years ago, I took the course as one of my less serious “electives” to get an easy “A” but honestly can't remember if I did. Although my ultimate grade is not significant, I now realize it was one of the most monumental classes I took before graduating. I now appreciate Ms. Hansberry and her ability to open the eyes of me and my classmates. This book should be on everyone's summer reading list. 

Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments. 


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Finding Balance in Today's World


Within a few minutes of disappointing news this morning, I heard a loud noise coming from my bedroom.  A mannequin that stands on three legs collapsed. As a writer, I also look for symbolism around me to tie my thoughts together.



Perhaps the fall of this avatar-like persona often dressed up in a fashionable outfit with coordinated accessories was meant as a lesson of the importance of balance in our lives. The third leg was added to make an unsecured figure keep upright. To have proper balance, one needs to be equally footed; the third leg would make this impossible.

I went on a bike ride to clear my head and process the news I heard earlier. Fresh air and time alone were needed to maintain better equilibrium. I felt better after doing some exercise and having time to better reflect on my own intrinsic needs. 

As we each approach a new week, keep in mind that with the daily challenges life brings us we must always keep grounded and know where one stands. It is crucial to be able to share your true thoughts and not hide behind a costumed persona. I will keep this new image in my head as I move forward and begin the week ahead.


Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments.  



Saturday, May 14, 2022

How to break a Strange Loop


Last week I saw the new musical by Michael R. Jackson,  A Strange Loop and it made me think about the loops in my life. The key character in the play was a gay usher who wanted to write a musical about his coming out to share who he was with his family and audience. He initially allowed his thought patterns to limit development of his story throughout the show (his inner conscience was played by the other 6 cast members). There are no spoiler alerts here, except that by the end he overcame his inner obstacles to create a musical nominated for 11 Tony Awards. 

The key takeaway from the play is that we often limit our internal beliefs by not being able to accept the reality around us.  As author, Mark Manson shares in a recent article  about being stuck, this is similiar to an elephant being tied to a pole. If we open our eyes to new possibilities, we can move forward and incorporate changes into our lives. We are each responsible for our own stories.

The saying “love is blind” applies to many aspects of our lives. You may be in a trancelike state when you start something new or likewise idealize a situation you face. Often your endorphins are on high alert and the dopamine’s create a sense of comfort for you. On the flip side, you may experience extreme anger when something doesn’t go the way you expect. Sometimes you blame others and stage yourself as the victim.

 


Once the experience begins to level off you need to look introspectively. This should be a wake-up call.  Pay attention to the inner and outer voices around you. Accept when it is time to move on. Take ownership of the positive and negatives in your life and use them as opportunities to heighten self-awareness and personal development. Sometimes outside intervention can be helpful to attain emotional balance. 

If you continue to stay "stuck in the loop" you will not be true to yourself.  You are only causing yourself damage. People change as do thought patterns. We each need to accept this and move on. Allow each day to open doors and windows. This may mean you need to get out of your head and process reactions from those around you. Use these experiences to become self-aware and open to new beginnings. If not, you may not be able to create your story and will continue to stay stuck in A Strange Loop.

Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments.  

Thursday, May 5, 2022

As We Celebrate Mother's Day What Makes You Happy?

 


We are often asked this question as an ice breaker with new friends, during job interviews, or at random social gatherings.  This topic comes up frequently. There are numerous books and google searches for the secret to happiness. It is asked in one form or another at every networking event attended. Happiness appears to be a trendy status measure and thus we are quick to answer.  The expectation is that everyone around us is happy. We are inundated with shares of how great life is on all forms of social media platforms. On the surface, it is easy to say we are happy but what does this mean? There is so much going on in the world, and to navigate life’s daily challenges, I have attempted to better understand my path to happiness. 

As an avid reader and student of life's curiosities, I began exploring this concept several years back when I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  She looked at a multitude of things we normally do with ideas to be more intentional with focus. The goal is to make our lives more meaningful and fulfilling. My approach was to read one chapter per month as I tackled little things that made my day-to-day life happy. Examples included making time to listen to others, clearing physical space to be able to work, and exercising routines to clear my mind. I also read Maria Condo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and figured out how to find “joy” in the things I keep in possession. 

Last year I downsized and have started to begin a new life path that would allow me to explore this question in greater depth.  I am learning how to prioritize and say Let It Go to the things that weigh me down by setting boundaries and doing things I want to focus on. It takes self-awareness to learn to say no and that we can’t do it all.  There are only so many hours in a day and we need to figure out what will bring the most satisfaction for the effort expended. 

Over the past year, I have started to shift my career focus to freelance writing. I have been taking courses with the AWAI where this topic often comes up in writing prompts. Most recently as a writer, I began posting “happiness is” posts on Instagram as my form of a gratitude journal. I am trying to figure out what makes me happy on a more focused basis at the end of each day.

My passion has always been to help people find the right resources to achieve their goals.  I see myself as a connector.  I have been strong as a project manager and therefore my brain automatically thinks about the task at hand and the pieces needed to get the desired result.  This can be simple things like someone needing a helping hand with a household project or working with a non-profit to plan a fundraising benefit event. I particularly love things centered around the arts and have been a producer for over 30 community theater-based musicals. 

As I was thinking about this theme today as I just purchased tickets to see the revival of Funny Girl on Broadway this weekend. The song People had just come on Amazon music. I have always considered myself a people person. It clicked that this is what makes me happy. The opportunity for me to be around others to create a positive result from our connection makes me happy. 



In my new book Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground Through My Daily Brew I use coffee to connect with others. The book's primary theme is how coffee meet-ups have served as a mechanism to find a common bonding before tackling a project. I flourish when I can be with others, and we connect for a mutually beneficial cause. This motivates and makes me happy. I guess I can answer the question as I better understand that “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world”. I hope everyone reading this will be inspired to figure out what makes them happy. Wishing all the great MOMS out there a Happy Mother's Day!!

Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments.  


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Ten Plagues would have been enough, Dayenu!



Is Covid the Eleventh plague?  Thousands of years ago Hebrew slaves quickly left Egypt to escape the Pharaoh's oppression. The success of escape was time-sensitive and basically, the Jewish people had to pick up and leave their homes immediately. Some were in process of baking and Matza symbolizes that there was no time to allow baked bread to rise. This becomes the primary food staple consumed during the eight days of Passover. 

The seder meal is a dinner to commemorate the escape and there is symbolism for each event from this time. The ancient Hebrews were enslaved under the tyranny of Pharoah.  Moses, the infant of a slave, was sent by his family in a raft to be freed.  He was found and raised as the Pharoah’s “stepson” when found by his wife who was childless. She raised him to become a great leader.  As he grew, he learned of his Hebrew heritage and became the “Chosen One” to bring his people to freedom.  As the Exodus occurred 10 plagues were set upon the Egyptians to secure a safe departure.  

Each year the Jewish people gather to tell this story to our children.  We often reflect and relate it to more contemporary times.  It has been a family tradition to gather with immediate and extended family for a Seder dinner to honor this celebration. The Seder dinner has been going on for thousands of years and continues to be shared with future generations. Many religions have seders as well to share the ideas of escapes to freedom. A focal point of the dinner is the Seder plate placed on the dinner table with foods representing the exodus. In the center of the Seder Plate is a cup of wine for the Prophet, Elijah.

The Seder has always been part of my life and there are many great memories I have from growing up.  As a child, I remember going to my Grandma Sarah’s every year in Cambridge for our festive meal.  We would arrive early to prepare the food for the Seder plate.  One of my favorites was the “charoset” which is a mixture of apples, walnuts, and wine to symbolize the bricks the slaves used to build the Pyramids.    We would also prepare foods such as bitter herbs to resemble the plagues. 

A highlight of the Seder meal was Grandma’s matza balls. They were a bit sweet and very fluffy and so delicious that nobody could eat just one.  Of course, we also had brisket and other amazing treats throughout the dinner.  

One tradition of the Seder is to welcome guests old and new and to leave a place for a stranger who may appear. Hospitality and welcoming are very important to most Jewish homes. The dinner celebrates redemption. There is a myth that Elijah the Prophet tests each Jewish family’s hospitality with a quick visit.  When it was “time” for Elijah to pop in, we would open the porch door and sing a welcome song.  My grandfather would slightly shake the table and say, “Elijah just had a sip of wine”. The running joke was that he probably got drunk taking a sip at every Jewish home. He stayed for a minute or two until it got cold, and we had to close the porch door. There was nothing that could keep me away from this dinner.

As I grew up and my parents and grandparents aged the tradition of holding a seder became mine. Since the birth of my firstborn, Greg we hosted this dinner.  Unless I was visiting my brother in Baltimore, the holiday would be held at our home.

During the first year of Covid, we were all in quarantine and the guest list was limited to our immediate bubble. We did a virtual seder with my brother and cousins to keep the tradition alive. Last year, we were in process of selling our family home and the tradition moved to our new residence.  It was again much smaller with the limited bubble of participants.

This year I had planned to go to visit family in Baltimore for the Seders.  A few nights ago, I attended a dinner party and subsequently learned one of the guests tested positive for covid the next day. This was my first direct exposure to someone with Covid. 

I now need to quarantine, and it is too risky to travel. I have been self-testing with negative results so far, but it is too early to determine if I will get a covid.  The earliest recommendation per the CDC for a PCR test is day 5 which will be Friday, the day of the first seder.  The results won’t come in until the Seder has Passed over. 

This will be the first time the thread of gathering for a seder with my family will be broken due to Covid risk. I am saddened by this and am hoping this is an anomaly and I don’t get plagued with Covid. At the end of every Seder dinner, it is traditional to sing the song Dayenu (which means it would have been enough) and to say, “Next Year in Jerusalem”, wishing for the pursuit of freedom in the Promised Land.  This year it may also be appropriate to add “Next Year without Covid”.  Wishing you and yours a Happy and Redeeming Passover.



Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.  Her first book, Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground Through My Daily Brew was published last fall. She welcomes your comments.  

Friday, March 4, 2022

Leaving The Home They Love

 As I watch the horrific scenes of families leaving loved ones including, husbands, partners and sons behind as they load themselves on trains I shutter with fear.  My Dad was a History teacher and always shared the importance of understanding our past before we can change our future. As a child, I never truly appreciated his total dedication to history and thought he needed to get with "modern times".  I now understand the urgency of his message. History does repeat itself and we are witnessing this real time.

My maternal grandmother and her parents left Ukraine to emigrate to the United States during the times of the pogroms sometime between 1912-1920.  I recently came across this photograph from their immigration papers. 



Other relatives on all sides of the family and members of their communities met their fates and either boarded on trains to a more horrific fate or also made their way to freedom.  As a child, I always believed this was history and not something I would see again during my lifetime.

How can the images and darkness we see created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine be real? How can this happen after the lessons learned after the eras of Stalin, WWI, and WWII? How can someone recklessly want to destroy the world as we know it for his own narrative.  It is with pride that I watch the brave Ukrainians standing up to defend their country and freedom.  

Growing up in the United States we never felt the damage done during the wars of the 20th century.  Most European peoples bore witness to the destruction of their families and homes and it is commendable to see the stepping up of help for the refugees escaping Ukraine.  We all need to do our share.

As the producer of a Temple production of Fiddler on the Roof in 2015, I related to the history and message of my ancestors leaving a fictional Anatevka and coming to the New World.  This show has always been taught to symbolize the journey to freedom for displaced communities.  It was powerful to me since I would reflect on the journey my grandparents took. 

I have a different feeling now, knowing this was my ancestral home I am saddened every time I turn on the news.  I feel a deep connection to Ukraine and hope to visit it someday when there is hopefully a peaceful end to this war.

WCVB Boston has put together a list of organization donation sites to help Ukraine.  Click here. History does repeat itself. We hear of movements to whitewash history in our own country.  We need to face our past to know how to better our future.  If we do not understand what happened from horrific actions, how can we progress to make the world a better place. We need to learn from our past. Our contemporaries are forcibly taking this fearful journey which no idea where their next train stop will be.  Imagine having to leave the home and family you love behind you.  

Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.  Her first book, Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground Through My Daily Brew was published last fall. She welcomes your comments.  


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

His Story and Her Story Are Our Stories

We all write our own stories. I lost both my parents within the past ten years and as a byproduct of their passing it became increasingly important for me to learn and discover the roots of my family history. Over the past few years, I have been digging through old records and attempting to meet distant relatives to learn more about my legacy. I have been accumulating what I can to eventually write a book to share and pass along to my children. For some reason, most of our parent's generation wanted to forget the past. Although not confirmed, I suspect their parents may have escaped bad situations before coming to the States that warranted forgetting. It was common to shed the past to assimilate and advance into the new American culture.
My Dad was an exception to a degree as a teacher and historian. He believed we needed to understand the stories of our past to build on our futures. As such he amassed a large collection of artifacts and historic memorabilia ranging from ancient Mideast and Judaica ephemera, antiquities, books, newspapers, and documents most of his adult life. On the personal family side, he had old photo albums and records from his family, however, most of the knowledge he had was oral. While he was alive, I didn't ask enough questions to my Dad or Mom about their ancestorial background. I am now trying to piece this together when I can.
In addition, to ancient times, Dad was also fascinated with United States History. One of his prized collections included documents and artifacts of Americana primarily from the Civil War period. My brother and I believed this period in U.S. History is fundamental to understanding the foundation of our country's values and felt this needed to be preserved. As a family, we agreed to donate several items to the museum where the history could be perpetuated and shared with current and future generations. We are thrilled that the Reggie Lewis Museum in Baltimore has been able to work with us to keep the collection together and create an Exhibit for the public. The exhibit is now open to the public through January 4th. Click here for more information.


Tomorrow evening the Museum will host Author Betty Kearse, who just published The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family. Like my Dad, this author will be sharing her history and has been assigned the role of the family Griot- the chosen one to carry on and share the history of her African American family and heritage. She is a descendant of President James Madison and her great grandmother Mandy, who was brought to this country in chains to be a slave. I am in process of reading her book and highly recommend it. There is so much to learn about our culture and the impact of the past in building the future. For a link click here.

Like Bettey and my Dad, it is important to understand our backgrounds and where we came from to formulate the values we want for our future.  With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays coming up,  I encourage readers to take advantage of family gatherings to ask questions and learn what you can about your own family roots.  I am thankful to have had the opportunity to and will continue to do so on my end. 


Wendy is a Realtor and freelance writer. She recently published her first book Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground with My Daily Brew.


Addendum- After sharing this post with a real estate colleague, she shared that she had sold Bettye Kearse’s home about 6 years ago in my former home town and that I had helped do an open house for her. I reached out to Bettye as I now remembered this and the conversations we had. We are now further connected through formerly living in Dover, the Museum exhibit and being the story tellers for our families.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Ode to our troops revisited and the Purple Heart

Yesterday was Veteran's Day.  It was a day to honor our troops from all branches of service.  For me, it was a particularly memorable day as I had the opportunity to see my cousin perform in the 6th Annual Heatherwood Follies, a


Salute to the Troops
at the Heatherwood Assisted Living Facility.  I had seen this show 3 years ago pre-Covid and it was wonderful to return again to see a cousin/resident sing her first solo "On Top of the World" and for her it was.  See my original post here.  

On my way home from the show I heard a very troubling story on Rachel Maddow MSNBC and this made the event all the more special.  During the prior administration there was a raid in Iran on the US Military Base ( January 2020.)  This was downplayed by the Trump administration to make it appear that there was minimal damage which could hurt politically.  Evidence is now coming out that over 100 troops suffered traumatic brain injury from this incident and many more were seriously injured.  The damage was downplayed during the remarks with the President a few days later.  Only a few were considered eligible to file for Purple Hearts at the time.  This is extremely troubling in that we should all honor and do what we can to make our Troops a priority in receiving full medical care.  They deserve recognition for their hard work and commitment to put their lives on the line to protect each of us.

We are in the midst of a crisis to our democracy and country. Subpoenas to understand the insurrection on January 6 are being ignored by key witnesses.  Seriousness of war casualties during the prior administration were underplayed to make a political statement.  We all need to wake up and be aware of what is going on around us.  We cannot let these little things slip by us.  Our future will depend on all of us speaking up for our beliefs and support of those who are in positions to protect each of us.  Thanksgiving is coming soon.  This is a time of year to think about gratitude and appreciation.  We all need to step back and reflect on the direction we want for our future and appreciate those who will fight to protect these values.  

With Gratitude I wish to thank our troops and those willing to speak up to defend our democracy.  


Wendy is a Realtor and freelance writer. She recently published her first book Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground with My Daily Brew.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Coffee Connections and the Art of the Network

                                         

My younger daughter has often said "if you don't go to audition you won't get the part".  I believe this to be true to most things we want in life.  You can't get hired for a job unless you apply and put your best foot forward for an interview.  

At a young age, I observed the art of schmoozing and as my Dad would say "Kibitzing" which means making small talk in Yiddish.  My Dad was a manufacturers representative through most of his adult parenting life.  His territory was small Mom & Pop stores throughout the New England Region.  If he didn't reach out personally to these vendors he would not have made any sales.  To be top in his field he learned the importance of building a rapport with these customers.  

Throughout my life I have incorporated many of these skills into my approach to meeting with colleagues, real estate clients and contractors who provide service to me.  I have found the idea of building a common comfort zone important before engaging in the goal of our meeting.  Often I did this with a common thread of sharing a cup of coffee.  

Those who know me, also will remember that I am also a huge networker and always seek ways to connect my contacts to mutually benefit each other's needs. This is an area of joy for me.  

I am excited to share that my just released book  Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground Through My Daily Brew reflects on these topics with a part memoir, part networking tips.  I would be honored for anyone interested to read and post a review.

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham and freelance writer.  She enjoys her Havenese dog Delilah, reading, writing, travel, yoga and spending time meeting friends over coffee.  


Friday, October 8, 2021

Finding your Melacon


My family visited Cuba in 2012 on a Jewish Solidarity Mission.  At the time tourism was not permitted for US Citizens, however, trips that served as missions for culture or educational purposes were allowed. Our visit was organized as part of a family trip to explore the birthplace of my mother-in-law as well as Cuban Jewish sites.  We also were encouraged to bring donations of clothing and hard to access medicines for  the poorer Jewish and local community.  We were fortunate to travel with sixteen family members including my mother-in-law, then age 79, and her sister aged 81 along with a cousin also born in Havana.  

We had a complete tour of Havana and local Jewish sites throughout the country. During this time there was very limited access to the internet or outside communication.  We had to spend the week without cell phone service or social media. Although challenging at first this actually made the trip all the more special. We were able to focus on where we were and live in the moment without needing to constantly be a slave to a cell phone.

A highlight of the trip was the Melacon in Havana. This is a long seawall built along the coastline that stretches for miles.  It is the social gathering place for the local Cubans and a place to get social.  Teens will hang out there at night and it would be common to hear musicians and strolling young couples.  It is symbolic of Cuban social life.  Visiting the Melacon brings a sense of calm to all who visit.

I recently moved to the Cape full time and have my own version of the Melacon.  For me, a daily walk to the beach and viewing of the ocean provides me with this sense of inner calm.  Whenever I feel stressed or just need a few minutes to myself I will walk to the beach shoreline.  When it is too cold outside sometimes I will drive to the beach and just lookout.  

In today's Boston Globe, there was an article about finding a sense of calm.  Our daily lives are often too busy with clutter and to be grounded it is vital to find one's space to come back to your o


wn mind and thoughts.  Alone time can be beneficial and an important way to reconnect with your spiritual self. I am looking forward to spending this upcoming weekend exploring nature and seeing some foliage as an additional way to find my own inner peace.

I wish you a wonderful holiday weekend and opportunity to get outside and find your calm wherever that may be.

Wendy is a Realtor and freelance writer. She is excited to be publishing her first book Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground with My Daily Brew this fall.