Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Witching Hour

According to ancient lore (and the more recent Wikipedia) The Witching Hour is supposedly when witches come out to do their magic or their mischief-- usually after midnight. When I was a kid, however, my mother used to say The Witching Hour was the hour before dinner when hungry children became rather naughty, or possibly between 8 pm and 9 pm when tired children needed but didn’t want to go to bed. Another word my mother used to employ when I was misbehaving was “witchy,” (as in “She’s acting rather witchy today!”)  so I grew up with the most likely false impression that witches were somewhat undesirable.
            I have found that there are other periods during the day and night that might be called The Witching Hour (excuse me witches, for now that I’ve grown up, I happen to like you all, and perhaps I’m even one of you myself), but there are times when a certain “witchiness” seems to permeate the air—and not in a good way. Sometimes I feel witchy when I’m in a sarcastic or nasty mood. On these occasions, words seem to spew from my mouth that I can’t believe I’m even saying…sort of like frogs! Most of the time, I have only nice things to say about others, but once in a while…well, the witchiness just sets in and I can’t help myself.
            This witchiness can also be inwardly directed. I might be walking down the street on a lovely afternoon, when suddenly I realize I’m thinking evil thoughts about yours truly. I have to shoo such thoughts out of my head with my broomstick (you know the type—“you’re fat, stupid, ugly, incompetent….” you get my drift). Sometimes these thoughts just bubble up for no good reason.
            On the other hand, witchiness can be a positive quality. Quite often, I can predict when the phone is going to ring or what a person is going to say. I also have a knack for manifesting parking spots and Lebanese food. Call it what you want, but one might just as easily call it witchcraft as anything else.
            With Halloween just around the corner, I’d like to give all witches (good and not-so-good) a nod, with apologies for any negative thoughts I may have had about them in the past that were handed down to me by mother, who never had a bad word to say about anyone—except, perhaps--witches.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Walkin' Tall...and Slowly

A few weeks ago I was strolling around town with a dear friend who was having a bit of a walking issue. She was rather slow and lumbering, and her joints and limbs were bothering her. I felt a certain degree of compassion, but also frustration. So many folks I know these days are unhealthy and out of shape. I do yoga every day and walk, too. Rarely do I have any problem moving.
            Until recently. Following a yoga injury I sustained more than six months ago, my walking continues to be impaired. And yesterday as I was walking around Manhattan with my family, I was the one who was behind. I was the one limping. I was the one who had trouble “doing stairs.” I was the one who couldn’t keep up.
            I asked myself, “What is the lesson you’re supposed to be learning from this?” The first word that came to my mind was “compassion.” Have compassion for yourself, a little voice whispered in my ear. It’s okay to take it slow. It’s okay to skip some classes. It’s okay to rest. Another voice also whispered, “Remember how you felt about your friends who weren’t in such good shape as you? Have compassion for them, too.”
            I consider myself to be a fairly nonjudgmental person but the more I limped the more I began noticing the negative self-talk that was going on in my head. “Why can’t you go faster? Stop babying yourself! Figure out what’s wrong and fix it…now!”
            I do believe that sometimes we get an injury because we need to learn a lesson, even if the lesson is only something as simple as “Be more mindful and pay attention.” Or “Let go of the ego.” Or, “Be more patient or kind…give yourself time.”
            I have been very impatient with this injury but I think it’s time to allow myself to rest. Pushing is not always the answer—whether you’re trying to win a race, publicize a book, make a new friend, or get to the top of a mountain. My knee, these days, seems to be little more than an annoying enemy. 
But my knee isn't my enemy; it's more like a girlfriend who's offering advice. We may not always like to hear what she’s saying or admit that she's right, but sometimes we just need to listen, learn... and put our feet up.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Blog With Love 4 Breast Cancer Awareness

As many of you know, October is breast cancer awareness month. As a breast cancer survivor of seven years, I don’t really have to be reminded. I will never forget the experience of having had breast cancer and how it impacted my life.
            Dr. Susan Love’s Army of Women is an organization that is working hard to find the cause of and cure for breast cancer. You can join to help even if you have never had this disease. Log onto to become part of this groundbreaking effort to gather information that will help make breast cancer a disease of the past.
            In the meantime, Army of Women bloggers have been asked to blog this month about “collateral damage—costs of the cure.” I think everyone is aware of the challenging journey that many women (and men) make when they are diagnosed, as they struggle through surgery, chemo, radiation, and other treatments.
            Collateral damage means more than losing your hair, feeling nauseous, or facing your own mortality. I have seen several friends in addition to myself suffer the consequences of breast and other cancers, and I am more convinced than ever that we must find a cure soon. One of the saddest things I witnessed was when a friend who had breast cancer was forced to miss her son’s graduation from high school. She had worked so hard for her child’s entire life to experience the joy of that day. But instead, she spent her son’s graduation in the hospital dealing with complications from her treatment. 
            So many moms have experienced the physical pains and losses that come with breast cancer. But there are other collateral effects: Missing your child’s band concert, not being there to help your kids do homework, feeling too sick to attend their important sporting and musical events. The year that I had breast cancer my middle son was applying to colleges. Though I tried to give the process my full attention it was difficult to concentrate on my son’s bright future when I wasn’t even sure if I would have any future at all.
            To put it plainly, there are side effects…and then there are side effects. Feeling too sick to hug your toddler, feeling too tired to take your kids to the park, feeling too scared to laugh and smile at Christmas dinner (I was diagnosed a few weeks before the holiday) are things that doctors don’t tell you about and certainly no pill will fix. Cancer can steal away our health; it can also steal away our peace of mind and our ability to enjoy our lives and our families…if we let it. Cancer can also result in depression, anxiety, and fear. For many women, living with the fear of recurrence is a daily struggle.

             Please join the effort to eradicate this disease by going to and signing on to a study. Remember, it’s not necessary to have or even to have had breast cancer to participate in many of these research initiatives. Sometimes you can help just by answering a few questions on an online questionnaire, or by spreading the word to others. Thank you!