The Destruction of Fear and Hate

I am transfixed each and every time I see news footage of the American, Canadian and British soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. Over 150,000 Allied forces successfully landed on five beaches along a heavily fortified 50-mile coastline. While the soldiers coming ashore on four of the five beaches encountered relatively light resistance from the German forces, over 2,000 perished on Omaha Beach, which was a codename.   

The turbulent waters sickened many soldiers as they made their way across the English Channel from southern England, not to mention the fear that surely enveloped even the most courageous of them. I study their young faces as they make their journey, and try to imagine what they’re thinking, the final thoughts for many of them.

I root for the boys who are close to the beach, or already on shore, then watch in horror as the unlucky ones fall to the sand and into the water as they’re gunned down by the German troops. I wonder if any of the fallen men’s wives or girlfriends are alive today, 74 years ago yesterday, and how they must feel watching the clips airing all over the TV and internet. I would like to meet one of them to hear her story, and to personally thank her for the sacrifice her partner made to save us from the Nazis.

My two visits to Normandy have been my most memorable trips.  Walking on the serene beach, I recall the haunting 1944 images of fear, pain and destruction.  Close by, the lush and peaceful American Cemetery in Normandy is blanketed with row after row of stark white crosses and Jewish stars that mark the graves of the fallen soldiers.  It is an essential reminder that others gave their lives so that we could live ours without fear and hate.

We must never forget that.

Is Your Family As ‘Perfect’ As Theirs?

Do you ever study other families–in the park, at a restaurant, on a train ride, in a photo–and think “now, that’s a perfect family,” even if you don’t know a single member? I confess I do. Here’s what I daydream these “perfect families” have in common:

They hardly ever ask each other irritating questions; if they do, they don’t get hot and bothered. 

They overlook one another’s irksome habits.

They don’t have unnatural expectations of one another.

They know just what to say when someone in the family is having a hard day.

They intently listen to one another.

They find every opportunity to spend time with one another.

They give one another thoughtful little gifts throughout the year.

They genuinely want to know how one another is doing.

They go out of their way to help out one another.

They hug and kiss one another.

They express their love for one another.

They don’t try to outsmart, outshine or outdo one another.

They make one another laugh.

They make one another think.

They don’t keep a scorecard about who does what for whom, and how often.

They actually want to vacation together, at least sometimes.

I imagine many of you must be saying I’m delusional. There isn’t a single perfect family on the face of the planet, you say, with absolute certainty. Perfect families exist only in fairytales. So, I thought it would be fun to visit the website www.quora.com to  see how some folks answered the question: What is the perfect family like?

“A perfect family is when the parent(s) love their children and the children love their parent(s). There is mutual respect and they stick together in the hard times and enjoy the good times. The family face the uncertainties of life together and help each other. That is the perfect family,” wrote Chris Summers.

“A perfect family is a family where there is unconditional love and acceptance. There may be differences among the members, but it should never be prolonged for more than few minutes. Policy of forgive and forget should always be kept in mind,” Jaya Rajgopalan commented.

Chris and Jaya’s  answers are unpretentious and simple. They say to me that perfect families don’t actually have to be perfect. Love, respect and acceptance trump irritations, hurtful actions or comments, and perfect families don’t even have to hug and kiss one another.  Although that helps.

But, love, respect and acceptance don’t always come easily, and sometimes they don’t come at all. Or, they evaporate into thin air, and then the family evaporates along with them.

Please tell me how you define “perfect family.”

Dear Mom

I gave my mother, May Goldberg, lots of grief. One of my first memories was being so hysterical when I started grade school (I went straight to first grade at 5 years old because the deadlines were wacky back then), the principal asked her to come and calm me down. I can still see my 5-year-old self sitting with my mother in the stairwell outside the classroom, in a state of abject terror. Somehow she got me back into the room!

My parents and I, celebrating my graduation from junior high school

I remained in a constant state of hysteria about school till my very last final at NYU, worrying incessantly about tests and grades, and having a nervous breakdown (a real one) when I went to an out-of-town college at 17 and couldn’t handle being away from home. My mother even flew up to Syracuse to try and calm me down, like she had done 12 years before, not having much success this time around.

When I was in my mid teens and wanted a new piece of clothing, which mom thought was too expensive, I’d go to my father to get his permission to use the Lord & Taylor card.

I talked back to my mother, preferred to share my problems with my dad, detested the hot lunches she served when I was a kid, and continually refused her demands that I go to bed when I’d fall asleep on the vinyl-upholstered sofa in the den.

I chose my own wedding venue at 21 years old, married someone mom didn’t cozy up to, and went off to start a career, instead of having babies and staying home like she did. (Note: She was a talented artist who went to Pratt, but quit to marry and have kids. I always thought that was a BIG mistake.)

I sent her home after one night, when she came to help us out after our son was born. Despite her imploring, I stopped talking to my sisters for years when I felt they were selfish to me, and iced out my dad for a long time, too.

I also stopped talking to my mother for years when she refused to handle a family situation the way I thought it should be handled.

Mom in the 1940s, holding a photo of my father, who was in the army overseas

I didn’t comfort her when my dad, the love of her life, died. I didn’t invite her on my family’s vacations. God knows where I was when she had a kidney stone. And, I rarely asked her for advice about anything. I even picked out my own wedding dress with my future mother in law.

Good grief, I was a crappy daughter for a very long time.

Thankfully, I grew up, even if it took until I was around 50 to get there, and my mother was 75. We went to lunch together. I invited her to dinner about once a week. I wanted her thoughts about Edgar (the love of MY life who I should never have let into my life!), about my home, even about my clothes.

I invited her on one of my business trips, when we drove to Cleveland together. She helped me take my first excruciating steps after my hysterectomy.

And, I was there for mom when I found her lying dazed on the floor of her apartment one Sunday morning, after she apparently fell from her bed in the middle of the night, then couldn’t get up. She had pulled the cover down to warm herself.

I was there for her every day and evening in the hospital, following her hip surgery, when she was in horrible pain, and I’d run through the halls looking for a doctor or nurse at God-awful Lenox Hill, where no sick person should ever have to go. And, I was there every single day when she went into a rehab facility, still in horrible pain and seeming to be slipping into oblivion. She would constantly cry out “it hurts,” and developed bed sores, which I assumed were the cause.

I bought her a special body pillow, headphones so she could watch TV without bothering her sick roommate, and new comfortable clothes.

My mother never got to wear most of the clothes, because she died less than two weeks later, from a raging infection throughout her body. She had diabetes and apparently should never have had the hip surgery after her fall. That’s another story.

Mom sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s, posing next to a photo of me

I was home the morning I got the call about my mother’s death, and when I went to retrieve her possessions and start making funeral arrangements, I discovered the bed pillow had been stolen. I would have wanted to take it home with me as a memory. The sack of clothes, her glasses and the handbag she had with her on her last journey are resting in one of my closets, where they shall remain until I die.

My mother told me she loved me during the last few years of her life, as I told her. I can’t remember ever having exchanged those words with her before.

Mom, you did your best with a difficult daughter. I am sorry I gave you so much grief for so many years. You deserved better. I am glad we had a chance to show each other love before it was too late.

Happy Mother’s Day. I miss you, and give daddy a kiss for me!

You Won’t Be Able To Eat Just One

“Life is an ever changing and living thing. There is no need to recreate the past. Move forward. Each step opens a new path. ” –Sophie Losinski

I could simply tell you to click on over to Beyond Belief Biscotti and place an order for the best biscotti you’ve ever tasted.  Not just good biscotti. Exceptional biscotti, with flavors like Coconut Lime With White Chocolate and Salted Caramel With Pecans & Pretzels.  Biscotti that’s crunchy, but not dry, with just the right amount of sweetness. Biscotti that even those who don’t like biscotti will love.

Sophie

But, I also want to introduce you to Sophie Losinski, the woman who created Beyond Belief Biscotti last Christmas, when she was in a dark place, emotionally and physically, and wanted to “lift myself from the space of sadness and being overwhelmed that I had been feeling for weeks,” she told me.

Sophie’s 9 to 5 job is with the Ministry of Labour in Toronto, Canada. She’s also a gifted writer and a certified PNRT Therapist (progressive neural resolution therapy), who helps people eradicate their self-sabotaging tendencies so they can lead joyful and productive lives. So, when Sophie was on medical leave late last year she knew that if she “focused on being of service to others, and giving, it would feed my soul.”  That’s when she decided to make biscotti as “gifts of love” for her family and friends during the holiday season.

“December 23 2017 was the FIRST time I EVER made biscotti,” Sophie said.  “The reactions were astounding, and many friends and relatives told us we were onto something and should sell them. And so, in early January, we decided to take the leap.”

“We” is Sophie and Andrei, her husband of almost six years (they’ve been together 13 years), who is a client manager in the travel insurance business. “Andrei is an amazing man.  He was in full support of whatever I felt I needed to get through the challenges I was facing,” Sophie said.

All the Beyond Belief Biscotti recipes were created from scratch, and each batch is made fresh without a single preservative. “We don’t use premix,” Sophie emphasized. The most popular flavors are Coconut Lime With White Chocolate, Salted Caramel With Pecans & Pretzels, and Hazelnut With Nutella & White Chocolate. My personal fave is the Coconut Lime! (more…)

Knock, Knock Who’s There? But This Isn’t A Joke!

Have you read the story about the 14-year-old Michigan boy who overslept, missed his school bus and started to walk to school, when he realized he was lost and knocked on a door to ask for directions. The woman who appeared began screaming that someone was trying to break into the house, which awoke her husband, who ran downstairs, armed with a shotgun. When he spotted the weapon, the young teen immediately (and smartly) sprinted off, then hid. He heard shots, but luckily he wasn’t hurt.

“There’s a lot more to the story than what’s being told, and I believe that will all come out in court,” the man with the gun told the judge after his arrest. “I was in bed yesterday morning when my wife started screaming and crying… ” The judge didn’t let him finish. The man was charged with assault with intent to murder and a felony firearm charge, local news outlets reported, and his bond was set at $50,000. He faces as much as life in prison.

Can you guess the races of the teen and the couple? Of course you can. Do you think the husband is going to concoct a tale that justifies his actions? Of course he is.


A video of the incident taken by a security camera reportedly reveals exactly what happened. I didn’t see the video, but the mother of the teen did see it.  Interviewed for a local news show, she said she heard the woman who answered the door say, “Why did they have to choose our house?” How despicable is that? The young boy was so rattled by the incident that he broke down in tears. Coming across as an unassuming kid, he said he rang that doorbell because he saw a neighborhood watch sticker on the house, so he assumed it would be safe to knock on the door.

The frantic, screaming, and undoubtedly bigoted woman who answered the door sure helped get her husband in a heap of trouble. Imagine if the teen hadn’t reacted as quickly as he did when he saw the shotgun; he might have been murdered, simply because he knocked on a door to ask for directions. He was glad he didn’t become a statistic, he told the TV reporter who interviewed him and his mom.

My daughter is married to an African American man. It is unnerving to think that their five-year-old son–my darling, innocent grandson–could ever come into contact with people who have knee-jerk reactions like the Michigan couple.    

Reprehensible.

AND THEN THIS

Two men were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks, in an upscale part of town, because they asked to use the men’s room, but didn’t order anything. The store manager called the police. The police arrested the men. Just. Like. That.

The woman manager was fired. The CEO of Starbucks met with the men and apologized. But what are we going to do about people who simply look at a black-skinned man and treat him like he doesn’t deserve to inhale the same air? Or even to ask for directions.

Out, Darn Fat, Out!

We were invited into the treatment room where Dr. Jack Fatiha was performing a laser procedure, called LipoLife from Alma Lasers, to sculpt the body of a patient who wanted the stubborn fat removed from her lower back.

The woman was awake and alert since she had only local anesthesia to block sensation from the part of her body where the doctor worked. Dr. Fatiha deftly used a thin cannula, housing a laser, to liquefy the fat under the woman’s skin, which then was gently suctioned out of her body. The heat applied in the procedure causes the affected tissues to contract, and the skin to tighten and become smoother. The lasers are designed to target only fat cells, protecting muscle and nerve tissue.

 

Besides using local anesthesia, the LipoLife procedure uses a smaller cannula and involves smaller incisions than traditional liposuction.  Bruising and downtime also are reduced. Healing is faster. Patients can resume normal activities in a few days, versus a few weeks. (more…)

Treat Dry, Crepey Skin All Year

This is a “sponsored post.” Crepe Erase compensated FOF with an advertising sponsorship to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we believe will be helpful for our readers. All insights and expressed opinions are our own. —Geri Brin

The pipes in one of my bathrooms froze this winter during the incessant frigid temperatures plaguing much of the country. The good news, though, is that my skin continued to feel soft and supple for the first time in years, despite the harsh winter cold. Imagine, 11 degrees outside, and the skin on my body stayed sensationally smooth! My legs, my arms, my hands, my neck– all smooth! I’ll tell you about the thrilling reason why in a moment.

Dry skin is common in later life.

We naturally lose oil glands as we age, and the overheated indoor air we rely on to keep our homes comfortable during the winter makes the problem worse! Think about a favorite pair of leather shoes that’s stretched out and cracked after years of wear.  Like leather, your skin has countless pores that absorb or release moisture. When it releases too much of its moisture, it will dry up. If it dries up too much, cracks may form, especially on your elbows and feet. What’s more, your skin loses its wonderful foundation of collagen and elastin, making it loose and saggy.  

(more…)

Goodbye, My Friend

I wonder why I haven’t heard from Gerri, I thought the other evening. I last saw my friend about a year ago, when she came East from Chicago to start setting up her new apartment on Central Park South. She’d had a long-time dream to move to New York, and finally started the process, even though she hadn’t yet sold her place in Chicago. She couldn’t wait.

It wasn’t unusual for months to pass without Gerri and I communicating, but both of us had let entirely too much time to fly by, without so much as an email, so I popped out of bed and emailed her. “Hi Gerri,

How are you? Where are you? Thinking of you. Love, Geri”

Then, something told me to Google Gerri’s name, and this is what I read on the 5th entry down:

How The Death Of My Dear Friend Brought Clarity To My Life – Be Yourself

Nov 26, 2017 – One of my cherished friends, Gerri, died in her sleep last month and though I am deeply saddened, I am grateful for the wake up call. It reaffirmed my commitment to live a full, authentic life and reminded me that she was doing just that. After the death of her husband, David, Gerri sublet an apartment in New… (more…)

Making Sure I Stay On Script

I’m proud to be working with CVS Pharmacy to help spread the word about #BetterHealthMadeEasy, how to #FindYourHealthy and #DiscoverCVS. All opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at CVS.com or with the appropriate manufacturers.

I’ve been taking the medication Zoloft for years, and I’ll never forget the time when I ran out, and my therapist was away for his annual one-month summer holiday. I left a few messages for the doctor who was filling in for him, but didn’t hear back right away, so I had to skip a couple of doses. It wasn’t a life or death situation, but I became dizzy and irritable, which can happen when you suddenly stop taking Zoloft.

This scenario wouldn’t happen today, thanks to the new world of technology and the development of clever online tools, including CVS ReadyFill, which ensures that my prescriptions are ready when I need them. No longer do I have to deal with the annoyances of calling in or dropping off refills.  And, if I’m out of refills, CVS contacts my doctor ahead of time to make sure the script is updated. CVS also calls or texts when my prescriptions are available for pickup. If I stop taking a medication, I simply can opt out of the ReadyFill program. Pretty simple.

I’m currently taking a few meds, so I also enrolled in the CVS ScriptSync program, which lets me pick up all my prescriptions at the same time every month. My friend was beginning to rib me about my frequent visits to the pharmacy. Every time we’d get in the car, he’d say:  “I bet we have to have to stop at CVS.” CVS worked with me to determine the best day to get all my medication, but I can change my pickup date anytime, as well as add or remove prescriptions. Now that I live in Brooklyn, and the nearest CVS is no longer steps from my house, ScriptSync saves me a great deal of time (and gas.) (more…)

Today is OUR DAY

Today is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity, according to internationalwomensday.com.

First observed in 1911, a time of tremendous population growth and the rise of radical ideologies in the industrialized world, IWD “is a collective day of global celebration,” belonging to no single government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network or media hub.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,” said Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and social activist. It’s about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like, wherever you are.

Today also is my 71st birthday, and as I reflect back over my own life, a handful of personal experiences stand out that attest to women’s progress, at least in the workplace: (more…)