Thursday, June 21, 2012

Emotionally Exhausted and Morally Bankrupt

M*A*S*H was an amazing tv show on from 1972-1983.  Although it's been gone for 29 years (it still lives in reruns), so much of it still rings true for those of us who remember it fondly.

A favorite episode of Sean's & mine is from Season 4, called "Der Tag".  Colonel Potter asks Hawkeye & BJ to be nice to Frank.  They get him drunk and passes out.  As a joke, they put a toe tag on him and write on it "emotionally exhausted and morally bankrupt".  The joke backfires.  Frank goes to the Latrine and falls into an ambulance (passing out again) and ends up at the front!  Hawkeye and BJ have to confess what they have done, and retrieve the still sleeping Frank from the front lines.

When the day (or days) has been so long that it feels like a year, one of us will say, "I am emotionally exhausted and morally bankrupt."  It's less that we have lost our morality and more that we've been brought so low by the day's (week's/month's) events that our emotions can take no more and our moral compass is spinning so quickly we cannot tell which way is north.  It's that moment when the world goes sideways.

The amazing thing about the line, like so many other movie/tv lines or cliches, is the comfort it can bring.  It can carry with it positive baggage, memories of a beloved show or event.  It brings a smile when you thought there was no smile left. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lessons from Kick-boxing

I kick-box twice a week.  (Shameless, unsolicited plug)  Summit Karate is a wonderful place to take classes.  The entire attitude focuses on well-being, and the students and staff provide real support for each other. 

I began kick-boxing because otherwise I sit on my tush while my kids workout, and I felt I should do something worthwhile with the hours I spend there.  I've learned a lot.

1. Pain really can be weakness leaving the body.  It can also be your body's way of saying "STOP!"  Sometimes it's both.
2. Exercise can be fun, even when you're cursing your instructor.
3. Always have a support group.  These are the people you smile when you see, because you know they'll be suffering right next to you.  This could also be misery loves company.
4. It gets easier.
5. Easier doesn't mean you sweat less.
6. I really do hate sweating as much as I thought I did.
7. A pound of fat and a pound of muscle may weigh the same, but muscle looks better.  (It's been six months, and I'm only now seeing a change on the scale.)
8. If the instructor is a bit of a sadist, but makes you laugh, it's okay.
9. They're telling the truth when they say "the burn is good," but I still don't have to like it.
10. Hanging in there is an accomplishment, and it feels great.

As individuals and as a class we've developed relationships with the instructors.  Mostly there is Olivia and Gabriel.  Olivia focuses on legs; Gabriel on upper body; both on core.  Olivia is small, strong, and wiry.  She's like a small pit bull pushing harder and harder, but she's right there with us, so we answer the call.  Gabriel is more like a St. Bernard.  He smiles and cracks jokes.  I think he knows each of our breaking points, and that's just when he makes eye contact so we force ourselves to push on.  He's the one I most like to (and am most likely to) curse.  But no matter who leads us each day, what's important is that we get in there, and we push ourselves and each other.  And somehow, when it's all done, we thank them for it.

BTW- note to Gabriel- When you say "10 more, 10 more, 10 more," we know we're doing 15.

Perspective is Everything- Children & Marriage

This was a draft from about a month and a half ago that I never finished.  It's time.

I just finished reading The Blessing of a B- by Wendy Mogel.  It's a sequel to The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.  I recommend both.  I can't say that I learned many new things, but she's a big help at putting things into perspective and there were a few belly laughs in the process.

Here's the perspective I gained...

Although my children have the ability to fully drive me crazy, and it seems even more so as they enter the teen years, perspective is everything.  The seemingly pathological mood changes are a learning process.  Understanding that helps when you want to throttle them.

It's led me to think before reacting.  It's not easier, but it does help.

Perspective on life has also led me to an even greater appreciation of Sean.  After almost 19 years, I am glad that we are able to share everything.  Too many people go through life burying true feelings.  It is harmful to all involved. 

It's not easy to share.  In a discussion with my kids about marriage and family, Keren said, "But Savta knew you and Abba had a forever marriage."  I like that term "a forever marriage," and yes, Sean and I do have one.  But that doesn't make it easy.  Marriage is both sides trying to give 100% all the time.  Sometimes we fall off the wagon.  Often I yell (Sean is not a yeller.  He'd rather steam).  Sometimes we're justified in our frustrations and feelings that things haven't divided so easily.  Sometimes, not so much.  One of my favourite recent days was when Sean walked into the room where I was working and said, "I know I'm wrong, and this isn't fair, but I feel I'm doing all the work.  Now you can laugh."  (The wording is wrong.  Maybe Sean will be able to correct this, but the general gist is there.)  We both knew that we were both working hard in the house.  But the feelings still needed to be aired, fair or not.  Holding it all in just leads to a lack of appreciation, distrust, and perpetuates a bad situation.

Adding on to that perspective is the appreciation for what we both do in the relationship and in the family.  We both travel at times, and the other has to make do as a single parent for a short time.  That perspective can really hit home.  There's something comforting about knowing when I (finally) do get to bed at night, there's someone to share it with, the ups and downs, the joys and heartaches, the frustrations and the wonders, even if that someone is sometimes the cause of them all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Soundtrack for my Life

I am reading THE BOOK OF AWESOME.  That's the title, all in CAPS!  I feel like I should read it aloud in the deep voice of someone trying to sound like a commercial announcer.  Annnnnd now- THE BOOK OF AWESOME!

The title asie, it's a collection by Neil Pasricha talking about all the little awesome things in our lives.  It started as a blog, just an escape after work, but has rolled into two books.  They're not deep.  They're not intense, just a collection of happy things in life.

Whenever I need a lift, I pick it up, read a bit and smile.  Awesome!

I'm up to "Finding a mix tape given to you by an old boyfriend or girlfriend".  It lists some of the songs you might find on those mix tapes.  Reading it I started thinking about the mix tapes I used to have, both those given to m and those I made.  They're the soundtrack for that moment of our lives, the playlist of our early years.

At times Sean & I have thought about our playlists- I don't remember everything we put on them, but it's good.  Here's my start-

New York State of Mind, Billy Joel
Ani V'Atah, Arik Einstein
Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka (
Rainbow Connection, Kermit the Frog
You're My Home, Billy Joel
Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler
Everything I Do, I Do It For You, Bryan Adams

There are more, but it's late.  Going to sleep listening to Bryan Adams and thinking of my husband and children.

In the meantime... What songs are on your life playlist?

Teenagers- Wow!

Someone will have to explain teenage boys to me.  Yesterday, like every Monday, I went to work.  Jesse, not having school, was still asleep, but put up with my goodbyes and the hug I insisted on giving him.

Fast forward to 4:30 PM.  I called to check in with him when I arrived at the kids' karate studio.  I asked him, "Have you eaten?" He replied, "Not yet."  At 4:30 PM what was he waiting for?!  How is it the 15 year old can empty a fridge, but also forget eat.

On the other hand, he's turned into quite the young man.  Although he makes me crazy (often), he's impressive to others.  Speaking to those who knew him when, they are always impressed by the changes in him.  Speaking to the head sensei at Summit Karate, he was amazed by how far Jesse has come.  At Jesse's start we thought Omar would be driven to drink.  Now, Jesse is a sensei in his own right, having attained his black belt.  To see him standing tall on the dojo you'd never know this is the same kid who somehow forgot to eat on Monday.

Teenagers- wow.

Yea Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

I said goodbye to a child today.  Jakob Shapiro was 18, graduating from high school, and accepted to multiple universities with scholarships. 

There is a hole where my heart should be. I am empty, hollow.  Those who know me know I am a weeper.  I cry at Hallmark cards and sappy commercials, but I could not cry today.  Instead I sit, hearing the words spoken by others, the words of our traditions, unmoving, watching Jakob's face, smiling, dancing before my eyes just out of reach. 

Jakob was a student of mine when he was in grade 6.  A bright, eager student, Jakob would enter class singing a song about the class and me that he had composed.  Each class began with the TDT song.  As others joined in, drawn along by his charisma, the singing grew.  Even after I saw Jakob regularly in the community.  His boyish face thinning out as he grew and changed into a fine young man.  But that smile, his wonderful boyish smile that infected everyone, the smile that made teaching just that much better and that much brighter, that smile never changed.

My heart is with Jakob.  It is with Claire & Kenny, his parents, and with Noah, his brother.  It is with their family and their friends, the people who filled the sanctuary as we said goodbye. 

Today I will put your loss behind me, and in place of my heart I'll put your smile.

Baruch dayan emet.