Sunday, December 26, 2010

Alternative Medicines and Therapies

On MSNBC there was an article about a study documenting cases of adverse reactions to alternative (like “natural” and homeopathic) medications. The main danger was discontinuement of needed conventional treatment for illnesses (which sometimes led to death), but adverse reactions where not unheard of. As the MSNBC article said: “Unlike conventional medicines, whose side effects are tracked by national surveillance systems, there are no such systems in place for alternative therapies.”
We live in a society that expects medicine to have an answer to all our ills (even as we often simultaneously abuse our bodies with inactivity and horrendous diet, cigarettes, etc). Let us face the fact that medicine does not have an answer to every problem. HOWEVER, the medical and drug industry does try to give treatments that are effective, and effectiveness is proved not through word-of-mouth, but by controlled studies.
I have written about this subject before (three years ago), HERE.
(Please read this previous article if you haven’t yet.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not Freaking Out (or overeating) When Under Stress

As some of you have commented, I was pretty much AWOL from online-life this last week. Lots has been going on here lately (no connection to Ricki), and I have been not only busy, but under a lot of stress.
When the situation arose one of my first fears was that the tension would trigger an overeating binge. Many overweight people, myself included, have used food as a comfort measure in times of stress, not withstanding the ultimate discomfort overweight causes. A true addiction.
So I immediately decided to try and pre-empt the overeating urge by actively seeking out other alternate coping measures. One was to load my MP3 player with good music.
But I discovered another, terrific “way to deal with stress” tool for dieters. On Sunday someone said something that REALLY got me upset. My stomach was “in knots”, and it was taking all of my willpower not to head for the frozen cake in the freezer. But I had a class I needed to go to, and I headed out the door, deciding to walk to the “main drag” in order to get the remainder of my 10,0000 daily steps in. Within 5 minutes I felt happy, healthy, and calm. Ans as an additional bonus, I was AWAY from the food…..
Brisk walking is good for you. Not just physically, but emotionally as well. Try a few turns around the block next time you are upset…..

The Babysitter

Ricki was helping me babysit her nephew the other day.
Overheard was the following monologue (the nephew’s vocabulary is still limited to ‘Mom” and “Dad”):

I’m reading you a storybook…. Look how nice!... See the mommy in the chair?.... This is a good book, right?....No, look HERE….[reads some of the text]….Don’t cry, Mommy is returning soon…..[reads a bit more text]….See, it’s a nice book isn’t it?......Look at this!...[a bit more text]…..Do you like the book?...

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Great Sons and an Innocent “Chanukiah” Story

[Note (terms): “Chanukiah” is the Hebrew term for the menorah lit during the holiday of Hanukah.]
“D” and “Y” are no longer Torah-observant, although they are polite enough to keep many things when they are at home. I knew that when they would be here on leave, they would light a Hanukah menorah, but I wanted to encourage them to do so when in the army as well. So I made for each of then a nice chanukiah from ceramics, one of “spinning tops” design for “Y”, and a “Jerusalem” one for “D”. “D” seemed touched, and promised me that he would light his, while “Y” just basically said “Nice!”, without commenting on any use. I surely didn’t pressure them, nor ask further. (I don't have a picture of "Y"'s menorah, "D"'s -which was nicer- you can see HERE.)
Fast-forward a few weeks later to Hanukkah. I had already noted that “D”’s chanukiah resting on the computer table in the boy’s room, and thought to myself “Well, I quess “D” was trying to be polite, but I never asked him to lie….So much for his promise to light….” When “Y” arrived home for the weekend, I urged him to ready his chanukiah, so his father wouldn’t feel burdened by the need to prepare his as well as his own. After a few moments, he reappeared with D’s menorah, sheepishly stating that he couldn’t find his. Of course I wondered to myself how much could he like the carefully crafted homemade chanukiah if he had lost it already?? But of course I made no verbal comment…..
Several days later, for the last night of the holiday, “D” finally arrived home from the army. I told him to ready his “chanukiah” , as I had told his brother a few days previously. “I can’t,” he said, “I’m sorry to inform you that I broke it by accident at the base….”

“D” HAD taken “his” chanukiah” to light… just the wrong one. And “Y” couldn’t find his because “D” had taken it. Innocent of all charges……

[PS. I promised Y a new menorah, to replace the one his brother broke, and gave him a choice of design... he chose "autos"!]

Rain and Walking and Shecheyanu

Thank G-d. we have rain. That's one "shecheyanu"*
Despite the rainy weather, I got out to walk (Sunday), although my aerobic steps were a bit slow, as I was afraid to slip on wet pavement.

We also had 50 knot winds.
Finally I am able to wear some of all those new winter outfits I bought myself.....GRIN. Another shecheyanu!

* "shecheanu" is a Hebrew blessing made (amoung other things) on happy occaisions, and on wearing new clothes. In this blessing we praise G-d for enebling us to reach this milestone or event. In addition, when something long-awaited arrives (like today's rain), we may make joke about saying "shecheyanu".

Magic Marker Monday- Candle Art

This was a project Ricki did on Hanukah,but similar things could be done for any occaision celebrated with candles.
Ricki took black poster board, put smiley stickers on it (made it much nicer, and it was HER idea to add them....). Then we added cut-out shapes of candles.Finally on the candles she added various regular and 3-demensional stickers.
You will find more of "Magic Marker Monday" HERE.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Winds Blow

Winter has arrived in Israel at long last. Despite the cold and VERY strong winds (50 knots in some places), no one is complaining as we need the rain so desperately.
This morning before waking Ricki I turned on the heater in the bath, and for breakfast I made her favorite breakfast, pancakes. Not surprisingly, she left the house in an excellent mood, the best I’ve seen her in for ages. I sent her downstairs a few minutes early to be sure that she wouldn’t miss her ride… and 7 minutes later she entered our building to ask “Where is he already?”, and missed her ride. Now she will walk to school on her own (it is not far, and in Israel it is much safer than in the US). I hope it won’t rain for just 15 minutes because if she opens her umbrella it will turn inside out in a moment…..
* * * * *
My new soldier-son “Y” will find out today where he will be serving for at least the next half year in the army, possibly in a “supportive” role (and later he may switch back to a regular combat soldier as he had originally requested). However, instead of being in the “Givati” section , he may be in the parachutist’s section. (Not that they do much parachuting, in general they are regular combat soldiers…) As he gets up this morning I will sadly inform him that a soldier from that division was seriously injured last night , foiling a terrorist infiltration attempt. In a house somewhere in Israel, the winds of trouble are blowing. May this soldier have a speedy and easy recovery.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting a PhD in Life

[image: My wonderful son "D",bareheaded, lighting the Hanukah menorah]

Very few of us get through life without some big challenge- and often more than one. A few days ago I turned 59 (I can’t believe that I am almost 60!), and as I look back on my life, I feel that I am working towards my PhD. Looking for a spouse was course 101 in emuna and bitachon (belief and faith). Having a child drop out of high school and almost “go off the derech” ( choose a different way of life style than us) was another level- class 201. Ricki’s birth was 301, and the fight for her inclusion, which was a bitter and long battle, was 401. Having several children truly become irreligious was already a masters. And a certain ongoing trial which I deal with , I feel, is my coursework towards my PhD in life. And I have learned a lot. In fact, as I told one of my older children recently, I am absolutely astounded at some of the choices I made 15 years ago, and I pray that if I were to be faced with similar problems today, my reactions would be much more empathetic, assertive, and sensible.
Simply said, life is never perfect, and we have the chance and ability to grow and improve our midos (character) as we travel along.
[image: The lights, the last evening of Hanukah.]
Last night as I gazed at the Chanukah lights, I thought that this is one of the real messages that the holiday has to bequeath to us. There are often battles… and there is no Pollyanna promise from G-d that if we do His will, our lives will be easy. But those brightly burning lights can remind us of the flame of our soul, the strength that G-d implanted within us to persevere, and to hope, to struggle, and to grow, as (quoting Rav Salanter, who quoted the shoemaker working by oil-lamp light), “As long as the light burns, it is possible to fix.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Movie Performance

On Sunday evening I took Ricki to one of the innumerable films playing at various locations in the city as entertainment for Chanukah. I knew in advance that I would not be “missing” anything if I would skip this Orthodox- filmed play. The quality is so far below that I am used to, growing up in America, that I am invariably disappointed. But Ricki enjoys these plays (even if she often doesn’t really manage to comprehend the plot), so I took her. But something strange happened in the middle.
In this film, a supposedly very religious teen prays sincerely to G-d, and lo and behold three miracles occur by the end of the film. Not one, but THREE. [As an aside, I am wondering how educational these films are. Do we really want to raise a generation with such an infantile attitude towards G-d? I mean, I hate to say it, but “miracle on demand” is not the way G-d generally runs things. And if you grow up thinking that it is, will the first time hitting a “brick wall” of seemingly unanswered prayer not totally derail their belief system????] Anyway, back to the movie- at one point the heroine breaks out in a song of emmuna and betachon (fervent belief), and this umpteenth rendition of the time hit much of the older teen audience as ludicrous (which it was), and they started laughing. Ricki, however, was crying. She understood that the other protagonists in the story were ill, and she was crying for them. I was stuck by the opposed responses of the “normal” teens and of Ricki., and pondered why it should be so. The answer is obvious. Everyone else was 100% sure that this is only a story, and one which they understand will “work out” in the end. The producers would NEVER let the ill teen character die. A happy conclusion is a forgone conclusion.
In Ricki’s case, the blurring of comprehension between what is true and what is fictional makes it all much more “real” to her. And she doesn’t understand that the producers have a miracle tucked up their sleeves…..

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chanukah Magic Marker Monday

Ricki happened to be home yesterday, so we had extra time for crafts. She had made a few days ago a candlestick from plaster (a doubled mold, pieces stuck together with more plaster). Yesterday she painted it red and then with red sparkle. And a small jug she painted blue. Later she added stickers to that.
Later that night we went to see a filmed play, and my blog on that will have to wait until (at least) tomorrow, as it is VERY late and I have to get to sleep!
You will find more of "Magic Marker Monday HERE.

Friday, December 3, 2010


PS, Unrelated to this post. I want to express concern and admiration for the firefighters in the Carmel region. They are true heros.

As I have mentioned before, I like the song "hero" by Maria Carey. (Even though most of her videos are absolutely obscene...) Here is a video of the song. Below it I have typed the words , with additional comments on my own for dieters. PS. Even though this video just shows her singing (no nude scenes), it does obviously contain Kol Isha (woman singing) and is not suitable for Orthodox Jewish men.

THERE’s a Hero (“HERO”) (song of Maria Carey)
There's a hero If you look inside your heart (Diet is only going to work if YOU change)
You don't have to be afraid Of what you are (OK, I’m fat, but I am created in the image of G-d)
There's an answer If you reach into your soul (Yes, there IS an answer)
And the sorrow that you know Will melt away (You don’t have to live with recriminations)

And then a hero comes along With the strength to carry on (G-d can give us strength)
And you cast your fears aside (Don’t even allow yourself to voice your doubts. BELIEVE that you WILL change)
And you know you can survive (Life is still good and enjoyable. A diet is not a prison term)
So when you feel like hope is gone (because you didn’t lose this week)
Look inside you and be strong (Just keep going)
And you'll finally see the truth That a hero lies in you.

It's a long road (Losing 75-80 kilo won’t happen overnight)
When you face the world alone (NO ONE can do it for you. You have to do this for YOURSELF)
No one reaches out a hand For you to follow (You are often alone, and “no one sees”, and YOU have to be your own policeman)
You can find love (For yourself, even when you are not perfect)
If you search within yourself (You will discover true love for yourself, which means protecting your health)
And the emptiness you felt Will disappear (You will see that you WANT to live healthily)

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth That a hero lies in you. Lord knows Dreams are hard to follow
(It won’t always be easy)
But don't let anyone Tear them away (even the nay-sayers, even our own doubts)
Hold on There will be tomorrow (YES I WILL SUCEED)
In time You'll find the way (Bit by bit, lb. by lb)

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth That a hero lies in you
(Yes, I am a Hero!!!! I CAN DO IT!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Channukkah!/ Special Exposure Wednesday

I had hoped to have a picture of Ricki doing channukah crafts for "special exposure Wednesday",, but we never got around this week to crafts (yet). So here are two more pictures of Ricki from our recent trip to Jerusalem:
[images: Ricki in the old city of Jerusalem

You will find more of "Special Exposure Wednesday" HERE.
And finally, in honor of Channukah which starts this evening (Wednesday evening), a hanukkah menorah which I made in my ceramics class:
[images: two views of chanukiah, Jerusalem motive]