acts of kindness
Saying Nothing, The Thirty-Ninth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That was a common idiom of our mother’s lexicon. She lived true to that statement. Even when she attempted to comment on something she disapproved of, she did her best to soften it. As a teen, I often was asked the question, “Janet, do you think that’s the most complementary outfit?“ Or it could have been make-up, pants, hair style or any other appearance-related observation. As a sensitive teen I was crushed no matter how much she tried to say it diplomatically.
Hygge, The Thirty-Eighth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
Hurt by Half, The Thirty-Sixth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
I was ten years old. The person who I had considered my best friend was in the Stafford School auditorium with her class, and I was with my class for a school-wide assembly. Assemblies felt important. Usually the principal spoke. He was a tall, somber man who communicated in hushed tones lending an atmosphere of solemnity to childhood gatherings.
Behind the Facade, The Thirty-Third Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
Growing up my mother and her mother were sticklers for good manners. I made a point of saying please and thank you. I was afraid they would view me as rude, and I didn’t want that moniker. My grandmother would point out other children who might have been louder than us, or publicly whiny, and she’d use those children as cautionary tails of behavior we were to stringently avoid.
Summer Relief, The Thirty-Second Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
Although this cannot be said of much of the country or world, we in New York City have enjoyed a reprieve from the intense heat of July. It has been delightful. Today I relished a breezy morning riding my low-to-the-ground bicycle up and down Park Avenue for the annual Summer Streets event. The Department of Transportation closes streets on Saturdays in all five boroughs throughout late July and August for pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists as a way of promoting greener transportation.
Mundane Day, The Thirty-First Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
What am I doing this weekend? Nothing special and everything essential. In an Instagram world of glamourous posts, my weekend is the antithesis of awesome. I started early to ensure I could easily access the washing machines needed for the weekly laundry. Luckily for me, it was a ghost town before 7 am, and I peacefully and quietly secured my machines and loaded them from the full hampers.
Lost in Brooklyn, The Twenty-Ninth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
I set out to go to The Brooklyn Museum to see the Africa Fashion exhibit. I had intended to see it twice before but got waylaid, so my determination to get there yesterday was fierce. My plan was to slowly jog in Prospect Park getting out at the arch and walking the few blocks to the museum. Once I made it to Prospect Park at an unfamiliar entrance, I opened up Maps on my iPhone and set off.
Ai Instillation, The Twenty-Eighth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
I was tired, it was hot, and I was happy to be at MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art, on West 53rd Street. The galleries were crowded, but I took my time enjoying new exhibitions and old favorites. After the slow perusal of four floors, I was spent. But I still had almost an hour before our dinner reservation down the block.
Bickering, The Twenty-Seventh Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
My son told me last weekend that he hoped he won’t have disagreements in his relationships like I have with my husband when he’s older. It was interesting to hear, and as far as I understand he believes that with the amount of therapy, mindfulness practice, as well as the fact that I am a psychotherapist, I should be further along in my personal development, especially when it comes to my marriage. There was a time I would have agreed. I would have seen my defensiveness when my feelings are hurt, and that my feelings get hurt at all, as a fault in my character.
Rest & Activity, The Twenty-Fifth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
Fathers Day, The Twenty-Fourth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
Happy Father’s Day. When I say that it conjures up so much for me and for so many others, I expect you included. Many of us have had varied relationships with our fathers nothing like Father Knows Best, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Blackish, or even Home Improvement. If only we could tune in for 30 minutes a week and enjoy the comical moments that focus on the highlights of the best parts of them, with a little silly thrown in.
Goodbye Grumpiness, The Twenty-Second Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
I noticed that by the end of my work week I was short on compassion. My go to was frustration, impatience, or barely disguised anger. It was simple things. I was missing paperwork that had been promised me. A pair of reading glasses broke. And then there were a string of simple annoyances.
Train Delay, The Twenty-First Week of the Second-Year in the New Abnormal
The Q train came to a halting stop. An announcement immediately came on asking “Who pulled the emergency cord?” At the end of our car, a good citizen thinking there was a request to pull the cord, got up from her seat, pulled the cord, even as the train stood idle. She sat back down returning to her book. A hardcover, old school, though she looked barely 25.
Mother's Day Ambivalence, The Nineteenth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
I, like many, have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day.
As a daughter I knew that I loved my mom, and I also yearned for her acceptance, spending far too much of my babysitting money to bask in the momentary approval of an expensive Mother’s Day gift. I’d set up Arlene’s Kitchen, honoring our mom. It was a made-up restaurant in our home with hand-written menus for the family. Nervous about what I might cook, I’d prep all the possibilities from eggs, any type of French toast or bagels & lox. As down home as those brunches were, they were followed by the certainty that my clean-up techniques would be met with inevitable disapproval. No one could make a countertop shine like my mom.
A Full Moon, The Eighteenth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
It was a full moon this week. I love looking up on a clear night and viewing the magical, mystical moon between the high rises. Ever since I was a child I’ve found the moon an enchantress. Myths have their place, and for many years I counted on myths to justify my outsized love of a full moon. In times of feeling invisible I felt seen by the moon.
Our Relationship With the Weather, The Seventeenth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
Growing up we wore rubbers or rubber boots, gently stretching them until they covered our shoes. It was a hassle taking them on and off. But to keep our leather saddle shoes somewhat dry, we sported rubbers over our two-toned oxfords. These days my low rubber boots are the only shoes I need when it’s wet outside. They keep the water from soaking my socks and allow me to walk about in the rain.
NYBG, The Sixteenth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
My mom had a green thumb. She could keep any plant or planted flower alive for years. One of her favorite flowering plants was orchids. She loved the dramatic curve and the delicate flowers. She had a knack for keeping them alive and thriving for years. A couple of times I found orchids I thought she would love. I carefully brought them home reading the instructions and tending to them so they would make the perfect gift. However, by the time they made it to her doorstep the blooms would fall and the sad gifts never reflected the hope I had of a lush and luxurious present.
Let's Do Better, The Fifteenth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
I came home late last night after seeing a beautifully moving theater piece by Suzan-Lori Parks. Retrieving our mail, I saw a broken glass and a brick on the lobby carpet. Apparently, a group of teens were told to leave the area while smoking. So one of them in anger threw a brick through the window to show ‘them.” It created more work for the porter and super who had to clean up and repair on their weekend off, when they were nowhere near the incident.
Tattle Tales, The Fourteenth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
I grew up with three siblings. If you grew up with siblings, as I did, you are familiar with the age-old enterprise of tattling. My younger sister, Susan, now Chova Sara, was the tattletale. She was the one that thought it important to report to my parents, usually our mom, whatever misadventures we were enacting. When I was six to her four, she ran to our mom to say I wasn’t letting her play with my Barbies. This was true, but only because she cut their hair and drew on them with crayons. Nonetheless, I had to release more dolls to her based on “fairness.” This made no sense to me, but she got what she wanted, and it spurred her on for years.
Dashed Plans, The Thirteenth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
I am a planner. Though I am open to spontaneous experiences, I usually rely on my calendar to settle into the day. In recent months I have had to change plans a good number of times. Often, I’ve enjoyed folding the new into what I had expected. But this last week too many plans changed, and my equilibrium is off. My sense of self along with my comfort levels are being tested.