The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

And Other Stories


1 Comment

Israel Then and Now

ElAl

EL AL Airlines postcard circa 1961.

After my mother died, I found a bin where she had some of her cards and letters saved.  I came across a stack of letters and postcards from my grandparents first and only trip to Israel in 1961.  My grandmother wrote my mother almost daily while she was away; her musings and love for travel put a smile on my face.  There was a wonder about travel in the 1960s.  People were still amazed that you could fly overseas and they dressed up in their finest clothing, not in their yoga pants like I do.  Sometimes, I wish that we had the same innocence, but my latest trip to Israel did remind me of how incredible the country is.  It was the right place at the right time in my life with the right people.  I thought it would be fun to look back at how much the country has changed using the postcards from my grandparents, putting them side by side with current pictures of the places that we visited.

 

It is not exactly Tel Aviv, it’s Ashkelon on the coast of the Mediterranean on the left, with a photo of the beach in Tel Aviv on the right.  The biggest differences?  The swimsuit fashion and now Israel is so dog crazy that they have part of the beach reserved so that the pups can bond, play and go for a run with their owners.  Here was a passage from my grandmother’s note: “We arrived here tonight (Ashkelon) and this is the loveliest place.  Our rooms are like bungalows facing the Mediterranean.  We are staying here overnight, then leaving for Beersheba and Jerusalem.”

Tel Aviv has changed so much in the 57 years since my grandparents visited.  On the left you see what part of the city used to look like.  On the right, the modern skyline of the White City.  My grandparents loved Tel Aviv with my grandmother telling my mother that “I enjoyed every minute of this wonderful city.”  She also wrote: “If my cards sound mixed up, Daddy was rushing me, so forgive the mistakes.  Daddy is so excited.”   Yes, my grandparents called each other Mummy and Daddy and no, it was not creepy in the least.  It was adorable.  They had quite a love story.  If you are all good, maybe one day, I will tell you about it.  It really is swoon-worthy.

Haifa Hotel

We did not go to Haifa this time, and I only got to spend one day there when I was in Israel in 2006.  It is a city on a hill with the beautiful  Bahá’í Gardens being the centerpiece. She wrote: “Arrived here yesterday, I doubt whether any place could be more beautiful than Haifa.”  The hotel featured on the postcard was Hotel Ben Jehuda – I do not believe it is still open, but there are plenty of places to stay.  I cannot wait to go back and spend a little more time there.

My trip ended in Jerusalem and even though it was the second time that I was there, it is still awe-inspiring to see the first view of the city as you wind around the Judean Mountains.  My grandmother wrote: “We just arrived in Jerusalem and never will I forget this drive!  When we came into the city, Daddy was asked to say the prayer and everyone was crying.”  Remember, that when my grandparents visited, the country was only 13 years old, and the Holocaust was not even a distant memory.  My grandparents and their contemporaries, likely never thought that there would be a Jewish State or that they would have the opportunity to pray at the Western Wall – a single spot that has not changed in thousands of years.  It meant everything to them, and that is just one of the reasons why I find visiting Jerusalem such an incredible experience.  It is a blend of ancient and modern; quiet contemplative moments and hustle and bustle; religious and secular.  It’s everything.  By the way, the President Hotel has long been abandoned, but had a very interesting history – check out this article to learn more https://guyshachar.com/en/2016/abandoned-president-hotel-jerusalem/

There were other postcards, from other places, like Eilat, where my grandmother was so excited to sail on a glass bottom boat.  One of the nicest surprises for them was the last night of their trip, at a farewell banquet, “…and for dessert, oranges from the Zelikovitz Orchard.  Was Daddy proud!”  My grandfather and two of his brothers, were in the fruit business for a long time, and until a few years ago, our family had the orange orchard.  The land was donated back to the State of Israel but for a long time, it produced oranges that were sold around the world.

The best part of Israel?  It is a country that is continuously changing.  The Tel Aviv skyline has changed, even in the 12 years since I was last there.  The Old City in Jerusalem has changed as archaeologists continue to excavate and discover groundbreaking knowledge that is corroborated by both the Old and New Testaments.  It is at the forefront of new technology and advances in medicine that can change lives.  It is a country that was a desert and where trees and flowers now grow.  It is a place where I can go, even though it is thousands of kilometres away, and feel the presence of my family.

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

All Roads (Flights) Lead Here

I leave for a media trip to Israel and I was asked to write a tweet about what I was looking forward to the most.  In so few characters and with a more general audience, it’s hard to put what I’m feeling into words.  I kept it simple and said the White City in Tel Aviv and the Old City in Jerusalem. Of course, experiencing the blend of modern and ancient that Israel possesses is incredible. I am happy to be doing everything from a tour of the Soda Stream factory to being moved by once again visiting Yad Vashem to seeing the beautiful Baha’i Gardens in Haifa.  There is one thing that I am looking forward to more than that though.  It’s not a place – it’s a feeling.

When I visited Israel for the first time in 2006, I was overwhelmed by many things.  What stood out to me the most though, was not the history of the country itself, although that was impressive, it was the knowledge that I stepped off of a plane and into a place that held so many memories for the people who were the most important to me.  My grandparents, Nathan and Sara Zelikovitz, visited in the late 1960’s and fell in love with this new nation.  My parents visited the country in the 1980’s and could not stop raving about it.  It was, and is, still a very important part of our family history.

When my mother passed away 4 months ago, I made a promise to myself to find ways to honour her memory whenever and wherever I could.  I never thought that I would be travelling so soon after her death, but when my friend Shai asked me about coming, one thought really struck me. I could say Mourner’s Kaddish (a prayer that you say for 11 months after the death of a parent or for 30 days after the passing of a child, spouse or sibling) for my mother at The Western Wall – the holiest site where I can pray as a Jew.  I am not religious in the least, but my mother was spiritual, and this is something that I can do for her and it will be especially meaningful in the land that she loved so much.  Once I finish, I will put a paper in the wall with what is believed to be, a written prayer to G-d.  Spoiler alert – it will be prayers of good health for my family, particularly, my oldest sister Michele who is also battling breast cancer.

On my first trip to Israel, I wanted a picture at the Wall simply because my grandparents and parents had photos from there and it was a chance for me to recreate a moment in time, even if my relatives could not be with me.  This time, my wish is that somehow, my mother will feel that I am doing this for her and that my grandparents will know too.

Not too long ago, when I was cleaning out my mother’s papers, I came across some letters that my grandmother wrote about her own trip to the country.  She wrote about how much she and my grandfather loved it and were so excited to be there.  She said that at dinner one night, they were served oranges from a grove that my grandfather owned, and he was bursting with pride.  I can picture the look on my quiet, unassuming Zaydie’s face.  To know that I’m going to be back in this country, a place that was so important to my family and to be able to honour my wonderful mother is what I am most looking forward to.

 


Leave a comment

Project Empty – Buy or Cry?

You know from my last post that I may watch a few too many beauty YouTubers, and my latest time suck has been Project Pan and “18 in 18” videos.  Project Pan, if you didn’t catch the definition the last go round, is when an Influencer puts select makeup into their everyday rotation so that they are forced to use up older products or even just “hit pan”.  Again, this just means that you will see usage through a little sliver of metal that peeps through the seemingly endless supply of blush/eye shadow/.  Some people make hitting pan or using up product their goal.  People who do “18 in 18” are committed to using up 18 beauty products in 2018.  This may not seem like a big goal, but these people have enough makeup to fill a Sephora.

I was watching a few of these “project empties” and was struck by the ridiculous items that they started including just so that that they could say that they had something to report.  One YouTuber showed off two tubes of toothpaste and an empty package of cotton pads.  Honey, brushing your teeth isn’t something that you should brag about, it’s essential for oral health.  What are you going to do next, show off empty toilet paper rolls?

The ridiculousness of these videos, plus my own desire to use up or declutter some of my own stash of makeup, skin care and hair care made me want to do my own project.  I have  rules for mine though, so you will not be seeing stuff that I use daily and re-buy constantly – no cotton pads, swabs or toothpaste.  I use the same shampoo and conditioner and can’t veer away from them, and I always use Simple Cleansing Cloths to take off my make up because I don’t get a rash from them.  I’m also not going to brag about body wash – I use that daily too so I won’t be showing that off.  I’m also including items that I’m decluttering.  I don’t have a goal in mind, but I’ve already gone through 17 products (to be more accurate, 11 empties and 7 decluttered items) in the two months it’s been since I’ve started this project.  Here are the items and whether I’ll re-buy or if they just made me cry.  Oh yeah – this is just my opinion, yada yada, if you don’t agree, you don’t have to – everyone’s skin and colouring are different.

Skin Care:

Skin

Gold Bond Rough and Bumpy Skin Daily Therapy Cream (Buy or Cry) – Cry – I was looking for something to replace my beloved, but discontinued Lachydrin Lotion.  I bought three of these from Amazon just in case, and have gone through 1.5.  It isn’t cheap and it’s a fine body cream but nothing spectacular and does not do anything at all for Keratosis Pilaris if that’s your skin concern.

Sol De Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream (Buy or Cry) – Cry – I paid $25 for a product just because it smelled good and said Bum Bum on the packaging.  It’s good but there are better creams out there that are a lot less costly.

LB Gentle Skin Cleanser (Buy or Cry) – Buy – it’s just as good as Cetaphil and it’s lower price tag is nice.  It’s perfect for people with sensitive skin, at least it was for me and it lasted for months, like 6 months.  Like why do I keep writing like?

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream (Buy or Cry) – Buy – yes it’s $75, but this jar lasted me almost 6 months and did not irritate my skin.  I’m already working through my second jar.

Avène Hydrance Intense Rehydrating Serum (Buy or Cry) – Cry – it really did nothing for my skin.  It did not feel any more moisturized with it than it did without it.  They have other really good products, but this just is not one of them.

Hair

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Daily Nourishment Leave-In Fortifying Spray (Buy or Cry) – Neither – My sister gave me her half full bottle (half empty if you are a pessimist) of this when chemotherapy led to her losing most of her hair.  That makes me sniffle a little.  These is OK for a leave-in, but will never replace my Biolage Daily Leave-In Tonic.

Moroccan Oil Treatment (Buy or Cry) – Buy – I love this product!  I re-purchase it constantly.  It’s an all-in-one styler, conditioner and makes my hair shiny.  It also smells amazing.  I’ve been using it for years and always go back to it.  You only need to buy 3 a year so it’s not that pricey when you do the math.  I would not recommend it if you have fine hair – it may weigh it down.  Remember to use it only on the ends or it can make your hair look greasy.

Cosmetics

Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick (Buy or Cry) – Cry, because I love this product so much, it’s the perfect lip tint, but Clinique is not a cruelty-free brand (they sell in China which has mandatory animal testing).  If you are fine with that, then buy away.  I’m in the process of using up any of my cosmetics that are not cruelty free and avoiding them in the future.

Wet N Wild Pout & Love in 955B (Buy or Cry) – Cry – this product was supposed to be a tinted lip balm.  It was not terrible, but it smelled exactly like you put an entire stick of butter on your lips.  Seriously, the smell is overwhelming.  I tried to use it, but every time I put it on, I felt like I had just eaten a tub of movie theatre popcorn drenched in butter and was too lazy to wipe my lips with a napkin.

Make Up Forever Artist Liquid Matte in Shade 105 (Buy or Cry) – It’s not fair for me to provide an opinion.  This was a Sephora freebie (100 point gift).  The colour was way too nude for me so I decluttered it and gave it to my sister.  I will not buy Make Up Forever because it is not a cruelty free brand.

Quo Double Dip Lip Gloss (Buy or Cry) – Neither – it was just a very clear gloss that was fine.  I believe that the product has been discontinued.

Laura Mercier Lovers Lip Colour in Sensual (Buy or Cry) – Neither – again, this was another Sephora freebie and the colour was just not for me and I decluttered it.  I cannot figure out if Laura Mercier is cruelty free or not, so I’ll reserve judgment.

Ciate Liquid Velvet Lipstick in Voodoo (Buy or Cry) – Cry – this was part of a Sephora Favourite’s lipstick collection and this liquid lipstick took up valuable real estate.  It’s formula is drying and the colour is a big yuck.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss in Potion (Buy or Cry) – Both – the lip gloss is really good – it has an excellent formula, but the colour was completely wrong for me.  If you are a fan of very dark lip colours that are on the other side of goth, or if you have a deeper complexion, this would work well on you.  I found mine at Winners (Canada’s version of T.J. Maxx).

Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Volume Mascara (Buy or Cry) – It was a Sephora Freebie so I can’t cry, but I would not buy it.  It is quite clumpy and it flaked on me.  There are better mascaras out there for the price – not the free price, the retail price.

Hourglass Illusion Hyalloronic Skin Tint in Vanilla (Buy or Cry) – Buy – I did not love this product at first, but over time, it really grew on me.  It had more coverage than I was expecting and a really nice formula.  It is not my favourite, but I would go back to it.

Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer (Buy or Cry) – BUY – this is an amazing eye primer.  It’s one product that I almost always re-purchase.  You need to use a very small amount and blend it in very well before it dries.  It really makes your shadows last all day and through the night.

There you have it.  My next list will not be as long and it will not be in six months either.  So what about you?  Are you doing your own declutter?  Which products are on your buy or cry list?  Let me know in the comment section.

 

 


2 Comments

Beauty YouTubers Glossary

maxresdefault

Image courtesy of YouTube

Have you just started watching beauty videos on YouTube?  May you are a Jaclyn Hill Fan?  Or are Emily Noel, Tati or Stephanie Nicole more your speed?  If you are a proud Canadian, Jamie Paige or Samantha Ravndahl may ring your subscription bell.  Either way, you are going to hear things consistently from all of these lovely ladies.  There is a language that you have to get used to that is common among all of these digital celebrities that you are going to have to learn.  Once you get used to it, you can make a drinking game out of it every time they say the following:

  • Ride or Die – This was a makeup tag (basically a way for a YouTuber to start a “viral” mini-series with other YouTubers) created by Jaclyn Hill.  It’s your top of the heap, absolute favourite cosmetic item that you cannot live without.  If you got stranded on a deserted island, it’s the one thing that you would bring.  YouTubers cheat and do this by makeup category (eye shadow palettes, primers, blushes, lipsticks, bronzers, etc.).  It’s also the name of a Violet Voss eye shadow palette.
  • Holy Grail – see above.  Either way, the terms sort of annoy me, especially when you see the slightly crazy look in their eyes as they gleefully discuss these items.
  • Project Pan/Project Panner – A plan to hit pan on a number of cosmetics throughout the year.  This refers to all cosmetics even those that come in a bottle like foundation or concealer.  The beauty guru may select a set amount of products (i.e. 18 in 2018) and chart their progress for you.  They may relish in the fact that they have “hit pan” on 3 shadows out of an 18 shadow palette to meet their goal.  Like a sucker, I watch these videos.  They have at least 300 items in their collection, but I’m happy if they feel like panning a few makes it seem like they are less wasteful.  You may also hear about “pan porn” – which is about the same topic, nothing creepy.
  • Declutter – When a YouTuber goes through their make up and gets rid of items that are expired, that they don’t use or that they never liked.  This often leads to them saying…
  • I don’t reach for this – Basically, they don’t stick their fingers into their IKEA Alex drawers for a product that they don’t use very often.  This is usually something older and often seems like the Urban Decay Smokey Eyed or the old Too Faced palettes are victims of these clean sweeps.
  • Obsessed, Amazing, LOVE, So Inspired By – a dramatic way of saying that they like the product.
  • Creamy/Smooth/Buttery or Creamy, Smooth and Buttery – an eye shadow, blush or powder formula that feels like your favourite toast spread.  Not really – basically it just means that a powdery product has enough dimethicone in it to feel smooth versus dry.  It won’t feel gritty at all.
  • Limited Edition – A product that is out for a limited period of time.  Do I really need to explain this to you?  Sigh – I feel like a rocket scientist some days.
  • Swatches – The beauty expert in questions rubs their grubby fingers over the product onto their hand or arm so that you can see the colour of the shadow, blush, foundation, highlighter, concealer, lipstick, etc.  Many will then tell you that you shouldn’t go by the swatches that you see because the product will perform differently on your….eyelids, lips, brows, lashes, nose, toes, etc.
  • GRWM – Get ready with me…a chatty video where the YouTuber walks you through their makeup look for an event that they are going to and gives you information about their lives that you may or may not care about.
  • First Impression Video – A product reviewed based on the first time the Influencer is trying it out AKA self-explanatory.
  • “Please Subscribe” or “Hit the Notification Bell” – begging you to follow their channels and find out when they are uploading a new video.  In fairness to them, YouTube rules are seriously eating into how they make their living.
  • “The Product is so Pigmented” – The colour that you see in the pan contains a lot of pigments so when applied, it looks as rich on the eye, cheek or lip as it does in the pan/tube.
  • Fall Out – A minute amount of eye shadow or eye shadow glitter that may end up on your cheek when being applied.  AKA – drama for no reason.
  • Kick-Up – Similar to fall out, it’s mostly something that you hear about with eye shadows.  It’s just a small amount of powder that flies up slightly when you put your makeup brush into a shadow that is soft and/or exceptionally pigmented.  AKA – drama for no reason.  Seriously….
  • Dupe – A lower priced item that performs almost the same as a more highly priced item.
  • Haul – When the beauty guru goes to Sephora, a drug store or a similar type of place and spends obscene amounts of money on a ton of things that look like what they already have in their drawers.
  • Depot – removing your eyeshadow, blush or other makeup from their original package and putting them into a larger palette.  It sounds counter-intuitive but it takes up less space.
  • PR/Unboxing – The Influencer rubs their free product into your hard-working face.  Sorry – the YouTuber helpfully shows you the items that they received for free from the makeup public relations’ teams for them to endorse on their channels.  They give a little smug look into the camera as they gleefully say “I got this in PR” and promise to do a review of the product(s).

beauty-box-5-review-unboxing-05-640x460

Image courtesy of Glamorable.com

There you have it – everything that you need to know to do what I do and waste countless hours on your iPad watching makeup videos.  Let me know if I’ve missed any of your favourite expressions or if there are more that you need me to define for you.

 


1 Comment

100 Days, 100s of Memories, 100s of Items

Mummy and Me Bday

It’s been 100 days since my mother died.  That’s just a little over 3 months.  It’s the time in the mourning process when you get the head bob – you know those people who sympathetically look at you, nod and say: “Oh, it’s so good that you had CLOSURE….”  “She’s in a better place…” “At least she isn’t suffering.” “Every day gets a little easier, doesn’t it?” Grief is not something that can be wrapped up into a neat little package, and there is no timeline.  When people give me the closure speech, I often want to say what does that even mean?  Closure in that I realize that my mother isn’t coming back?  I know that she isn’t.  Closure in that there was nothing left unsaid?  That’s true, but can be more properly defined as a comfort, not closure.  Closure implies a sense of resolution, and I don’t know anyone who can properly resolve themselves to the finality of losing a loved one.  It also doesn’t get easier with time, every day is different.

People mean well, but it’s a long process.  There is a beginning to grief, but no middle and no end.  There is just a level of coping.  I can get up, go to work, do many things as well as I did before.  The brief fog that was part of the early days of loss has lifted.  I can carry on conversations with people and they would never know that there is anything wrong unless I told them.  It just isn’t something that you can adjust to overnight or over the course of three months.  Keeping occupied helps – it’s when I stop to think about things that reality sets in.

Outside of work, upcoming travel, socializing and settling my mother’s affairs, I need another project to keep me busy.  Something useful…something cleansing…and there is nothing more cleansing than a good declutter.  I’ve recently watched a number of YouTube videos where Influencers declutter cosmetics.  I’m a little obsessed with these videos, but I saw another video where the Influencer decided to get rid of 1,000 items from their home.  That’s a little ambitious for me, I did a huge declutter in 2015 – here is a small sample of things that I got rid of:        https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/konfessions/

I did think carefully about it, and while 1,000 seems to be a daunting number, why not try for 300?   I’ll provide a progress report for you with every 100 items that I’m getting rid of and a few special features.  Some items will be thrown out, most will be donated and a small amount will be sold.  I’m excited to simplify things and to have a goal in mind.  My mother would definitely approve.


1 Comment

Snow White and the Seven Cosmetics AKA Bésame: A Love Story

Snow white

Photography me (obviously with an iPhone).  PY Artistic Adapatation

Before I explain my love of Disney, I have to tell you about Bésame Cosmetics.  It is an unusual beauty company that was founded in 2004 by artist, cosmetic historian and designer, Gabriela Hernandez.  Hernandez has a love of vintage make up which is reflected in the product selection and packaging that you see with the cosmetics. I love what they have written on their website:

“Through a keen eye for color and historical expertise, we recreate modern reproductions of classic luxury makeup from the 1920s, ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, designed to make women feel elegant, inspired, and empowered by their beauty.”

Snow White 2

Bésame collaborated with Walt Disney on an 80th Anniverary Collection for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (or should we say little people now?).  The company painstakingly matched the colors from the original color palette provided by Disney’s Ink and Paint Department to create the beautiful palettes and lipstick colours in the collection.

I LOVE Disney but it isn’t always easy finding products that do not feel childish as much as I may appreciate the cute stuffed animals and snow globes, there comes a time when you have to move on.   There is an innocence and a lot of childhood memories that come with Disney and the movie adaptations of the fairy tales that I used to love so much growing up.  Cinderella is, has been and always will be my favourite princess but I love Snow White too!  These beautiful cosmetics are a perfect tribute to this beloved film. The packaging is, by far, the most perfect that I’ve seen out of any collabs Disney has done in the past with any of the cosmetic giants.  MAC, Lorac and Sephora also worked on collections, but nothing has ever been done with this kind of attention to detail.

Snow White 3

The lipsticks are far more beautiful in person – the packaging is perfect too!

I went a little crazy and bought the Snow White Travel Bag, Icon Book Bag (a makeup case), the Ever After Translucent Pearl Powder, the Keep Singing and I’m Wishing Eyeshadow Palettes and all 4 Classic Colour Lipsticks (Snow White Red, Make A Wish, One Bite and Love’s First Kiss).  I can’t give you a true review of all of the products, I’ve only tried the eye shadow once.  They are almost too beautiful to touch.  I can tell you that the lipstick is long lasting and true to the colour in the tube.  It’s intense and likely more pigmented than what you may be used to.  There is even a specific way to apply their lipsticks – here is a link to see how  https://besamecosmetics.com/blogs/blog/how-to-apply-besame-lipstick  It really works – my lipstick stayed on all morning AND because of the unique shape of the bullet, I didn’t need a separate lip liner.  It is perfect, but it does take a little getting used to.  You cannot put this product on with a heavy hand.

Snow white 4

It was impossible to take the photo without glare – the packaging and colours in person are much more vibrant.

One more tidbit about the company itself.  They have AMAZING customer service.  Sephora only carried a very limited collection of the Snow White line, so I bit the bullet (lipstick bullet that is) and ordered them from the US site.  I pre-paid duty and shipping so that there wouldn’t be an issue on delivery.  Sure enough, I got a notice from UPS that they tried to deliver my product twice but duty wasn’t paid.  I had proof of payment, so I contacted them and they basically told me that if they tried to deliver it one more time it would get rejected, and that I had to pay the duty AGAIN or go to their depot which is out of my way.  I explained my situation to 3 different people and they all told me that it wasn’t their problem and to contact Bésame.  I thought that I was going to get the run-around from them, instead, they could not have been more helpful.  They looked into everything, confirmed that I had indeed paid the duty and they gave me a full refund on the duty and threw in free shipping for the hassle (which wasn’t their fault).   Not only is their packaging impeccable, but so is their customer experience.

These products (minus the powder) and others like a mini-lipstick collection, lip balm, rouge and a scarf are still available their website.  If you are interested, and a Disney lover, I highly recommend the collection, particularly their lipsticks.

 


1 Comment

A Motherless Daughter?

IMG-7037

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. – Khalil Gibran

Mother’s Day without your mother is a special kind of torture.  Everywhere you look, in the weeks before the holiday, you see signs – “Something Special for Your Mom”,  “Show Your Mother that you Care”, “Mom, the Heart of the Family” or just “World’s Best Mom.”  It hurts when you can’t participate in a celebration of something so meaningful because your mother simply isn’t with you anymore.

My mother died ten weeks ago.  In some ways, it seems like a lifetime, in other ways I’m struck by how short a time that really is.  I’ve thought a lot about her and why her death has been so hard.  One of the things that I realized is that my mother had a life before me, 31 years to be exact, but I’ve only had a very brief time without her.  I’ve never known a life without a mother and it is a huge adjustment, especially with one as special as mine.

My mother taught me almost everything I know.  She taught me how to talk (she probably wished, at times, that she didn’t), to walk, to cook, to do my laundry, how to save and invest for my retirement, how to appreciate a nice purse and how to live a good life.  She taught me the importance of family and how to put someone else’s needs ahead of my own without feeling like I’m sacrificing anything.  I recently looked up quotes for Mother’s Day, and this one came up, “My mother taught me everything, except how to live without her.”  Well, my mother taught me how to do that too.  I once asked her what I was going to do when she wasn’t here anymore, and she said “You’ll live your life.”  She didn’t say it in an off-handed way, she looked at me directly and said it in her firmest voice.  My mother was a Daddy’s girl, and when my grandfather died, she was devastated, but pushed forward with her life.  You see, she was an example, that as hard as it may be, life goes on.

Since my mother’s death, I’ve been reading a lot of books about people that have lost their parents and about grieving.  It doesn’t depress me, it makes me feel less alone in the world to see how other people handle things.  One book that I haven’t read yet, but is on my night table is “Motherless Daughters” by Hope Edelman.   Initially, after my mother died, I felt like I was one of the club of these women.  A motherless daughter, a mourner, a griever.  The more I thought about it, over time, the less I believe it.    My mother is still present in my life, even if her physical presence is absent.  As much as I still cry because I miss her, I laugh because I remember something that she said.  As much as I miss all of our in-jokes, I think back on them and smile.  As much as I miss her daily, and believe me, there are days like today, when I think I can’t bear it, I know how strong she was and that I have to find a way to try to be strong too.

My mother was described by people as a force of nature and of strength.  She was called a happy warrior.  She never shied away from a challenge and she never quit once she started something.  She said, often unapologetically, what was on her mind – she felt at her age, she earned the right.  She didn’t suffer fools well, but she was also never unkind.  She tried to manage my expectations, but never squashed my dreams.  She was always proud of whatever I achieved but never let me rest on my laurels.  She was both my harshest critic and my biggest fan.  I was her biggest fan too.  I don’t have an idealized view of her – she was exactly the person that I’m describing.  Ask anyone that ever knew her.  She was, simply the best.

So on this Mother’s Day, my first without her,  I’m not a Motherless Daughter.  I’m really lucky to say that I’m every bit my mother’s daughter and I always will be.