Family comes in all forms

My brother and sister-in-law’s wonderful dogs have recently passed.  This is dedicated to Duffy & Ozzy and all the wonderful critters who bless us.

Ozzy & Duffy

Thanks LYN!!

“To blessed animals the utmost kindness must be shown, the more the better. Tenderness and loving-kindness are basic principles of God’s heavenly Kingdom. Ye should most carefully bear this matter in mind.”

Baha’i World Faith

Antidote for Santa – Peace & Good Cheer

My Annual Christmas pome – Sick Ole St Nick undoubtedly struck a chord among my many many followers – well at least one . . .

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By Sharon Bonin-Pratt*

Goodness, I feel sorry for the poor man in red his weary reindeer and sled
Don’t blame me cuz I’ve never participated in dragging that man from his bed
The worst you can say is I’ve not enough candles and therefore can’t light
All my eight menorahs, yes, count ’em, eight Hanukkah for eight days of light
Tell Santa to give up the late ride and eat chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil
Safer to spin driedles, tell stories of brave Maccabees and the miracle of oil
And he’ll feel much better when he rises well rested at the end of this year
Not having delivered gifts heavier than a wish for peace and good cheer

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Happy Chanukah!!

*Disclosure:  Printed without permission from the author . .  

I should’a announced retirement 10 years before I retired – A Valentine Love Letter

I’m a bit upset with all of you who have e-mailed me or commented on my retirement with such incredibly loving, affirming messages and gifts.   I’m upset because it’s now too late to use all of you for testimonials to promote my services.  Where were you when I could have taken advantage of you?  I could be retiring a millionaire.

There are so many people who have touched my life I can’t begin to list them all. These are just a few in recent time:   Sherry, Lisa, Linda, Margo, Susan, Joyce, Bryan, Adele, Liz, Peggy, Cathy, Doug, Chris, Ramesh, Paula, Ron,  Kathy, Denise, Ann, Rich, Nan, Kate, Erin, Alma, Kathe, Ruta, Lyn, Abbie, Jackie, Jan, Ida, Jan, Alma, Rosemary, Denise, Fariba, Margi, Diane, Vivian, Christine, Theresa, Mike, Becca, Carolyn, Vandi, Kim, Daru, Bernice, Deborah, Laura, Tessa, Hank, Jamey, Carol, Theresa, Mary, Blair, Barry, Sandyha, Marc, Cindy, Sam, Laurie, Sally (if I’ve left anyone out please be forgiving as there are literally hundreds and hundreds). 

I have met the most wonderful people in my life and career – people who dedicate themselves to helping others, giving to others, people who have gone through painful, frightening, confusing times only to come out stronger and wiser and more loving on the other end.  You all have been an inspiration to me and I say that from the bottom of my tired, irregularly beating heart.

I’ve been a psychotherapist for 30+ years and needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) it’s been a huge part of my identity.  I painted this canvas a few decades ago when I was in another “identity” shift – 

Acrylic on canvas

Acrylic on canvas

struggling with who I was as a person with a chronic medical condition.  The picture was done in about 15 minutes, spontaneously, without planning or forethought.  It surprised me.  It is symbolic to me of emergence and hung in my office.

It’s probably time to paint another and see if I’m growing a third head.

With love and gratitude to each and every one of you who have touched my life,

judyJudith

P.S.  I suggest you consider announcing your pending retirement or your demise (which ever you think may come first) as soon as possible so you can enjoy the nice things people say . . . . and find out who is keeping mum .  . .

In case you missed my announcement: Are the rumors true I’m retiring?

Friday the 13th – my LUCKY day

Seventy years ago I emerged from the womb – my mother’s to be precise.  If that isn’t lucky I don’t know what is.  

As you know,  I had decided to celebrate my Birthday Season for 70 days in advance this year.  However, it didn’t work out as I had planned because no one followed rule #3.  So I am giving you another chance.  Starting today I will continue to celebrate for another 70 days.  

Please review the rules so you understand what your part is.

Here are The Birthday Season* Official Rules that start again today:

  1. Beginning on the day of your birth your season lasts the number of days you are old.  You may start your Birthday Season before the day of your birth.  But you cannot exceed the number of days you are old. Consequently, every year your Birthday Season is one day longer.  With me so far?
  2. You are to celebrate your birth the entire season by choosing whatever you wish to do, or NOT do,  each day.  So far so good!
  3. People give you presents the entire season.  SO GOOD, so far!
  4. You must be over 50 to qualify for Birthday Season status.  (Over 50 you need more time to celebrate because it takes you longer.)
  5. Those who are under the age of 50 can celebrate a Birthday Season as long as they don’t tell anyone or demand presents. (Gargle thoroughly after breakfast to eliminate tell-tale “Birthday Season Breath”.
  6. You must eat doughnuts everyday for breakfast during your season. (If you don’t like doughnuts you can choose anything you want as long as it isn’t healthy).
  7. Every day of your season you must be grateful for being born and still being alive.  (After your Birthday Season is over you can revert to moaning about your age).

*For those of you who don’t know how “The Birthday Season” came into being here’s the link My Birthday Season or you can have your donut and eat it too. 

Chocolate is proof that God wants us to be Happy

Only time will tell

if I’ll go to hell

But at this moment in time

chocolate is sublime

Thanks Rick for the “spoof”

YOU are proof 

God loves me!

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Opened a surprise birthday season package today from my brother Rick.  He stuffed this “cocoa” mug with chocolate.  I unstuffed the mug and stuffed me.

Criticism is good when it’s feedback (parenthetically speaking)

This comes under the heading of “If I knew then what I know now”.  

After years of hearing from Daru Maer, my friend and colleague, about how wonderful, creative and incredibly accomplished her daughter Jenn Maer was I finally got to verify that myself when I met Jenn last year.

I’m sharing Jenn’s article that appeared in the San Francisco Egotist because it is timely.  During the holidays we are particularly sensitive to other’s expectations, needs, wants and their “feedback”.  Jenn’s realization that feedback, most of the time, is given for precisely the reasons she identifies is spot-on.  I wish I knew that when I was Jenn’s age.

(Sorry Jenn, I couldn’t resist the parenthetical feedback) 

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What I Learned in 2014: Jenn Maer, Design Director, IDEO

“This was the year I finally learned to take feedback.”

“Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been “addressing” feedback for my entire career. Early on, I mastered the art of smiling whenever somebody eviscerated my work—nodding thoughtfully while saying, “Hmm. Interesting. Let me have a think on that.” But until recently, I never truly meant it. Feedback was something to be dodged, outsmarted, and begrudgingly incorporated when pressed to do so.”

“I realize this makes me sound like a world-class a_ _ _ _ _ _ (Feedback: Sorry for the edit, Jen, but this is a PG 13 rated blog and your description is not appropriate for those of us emotionally under the age of consent). But I don’t think that’s the case: I love (and insist on) working collaboratively, I always look for opportunities to help other people shine, and I’m pretty easy-going all around. I think I just hated the feeling that I hadn’t done something perfectly right off the bat.”

“Then, after having a really enlightening conversation with a mentor of mine, something shifted in me. I would get a piece of feedback and listen to it. I mean, really listen to it. Like the kind of listening a therapist does, when you say, “I hate the color blue” and they hear you say, “I’ve got deep-seeded issues with my mother.” (Feedback:  Sorry Jen, your mother IS a therapist – how could you NOT have deep-seeded issues with her?)  (Sorry Daru, but since you are a therapist you know that all things lead back to the mother . . .)

“I stopped being so quietly, inwardly defensive, and realized that each piece of feedback is delivered in service of making things better. Now, with every comment or red-Sharpied suggestion, I ask myself, what’s behind the issue that’s being raised? How can I use this as a chance to make my work clearer, tighter, smarter, funnier…whatever it needs to be?”

“I’m not saying I’ve got this new skill down pat. There are certainly still moments when people make inane, counter-productive comments that make me want to bash their heads in with the Polycom. (Sorry Jen, but I don’t know what a Polycom is so if you want to bash in my head I hope it’s soft . . . ). But you know what? I’m learning to hear what’s beneath those comments, too. It’s usually something like, “I need to feel important here.” (Sorry Jenn, I am important here – it’s MY blog) Or, “I don’t know what’s happening and I’m freaked out about it.” And with a little bit of empathy, I can help them through those issues, as well.”  (Sorry Jen, if you don’t want to help me with my issue of compulsively commenting, maybe your Mom can?)

(ALL things are ultimately the mother’s fault –  You are one smart, insightful daughter)

Read more at San Francisco Egoist 

Something to Relish – cranberries & HORSERADISH! and experimenting on guests

I like to experiment on my guests.   I rarely cook (or have dinner parties) so when I do I want to try new recipes (except for my 500 degree 7 minute per pound turkey).   People who have been to my “experimental dinners” know that,  after tasting something I made and don’t like, I announce “This tastes terrible”.  First time guests always try to appease me saying, with a forced smile on their face: “It’s good”.  

Most (not all) friends and family know that I take NO offense if a dish doesn’t taste great and will offer their opinions too.  I also make sure to tell them if they like something  “Eat up cuz I will probably never make it again.”

It makes cooking an adventure and takes all pressure off of me worrying about whether others will enjoy the meal!

ALthough we aren’t having anyone over for Thanksgiving this year I just may try this recipe because it’s strange and interesting.  I’ll freeze it for my experimental dinner party next year . . .

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Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish 

(complements of Susan Stamberg)

2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed

1 small onion

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar (“red is a bit milder than white”)

  • Grind the raw berries and onion together. (Use an old-fashioned meat grinder or  food processor that will give you a chunky grind — not a puree.)
  • Add everything else and mix.
  • Put in a plastic container and freeze.
  • Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw.

0030149003908_500X500The relish will be thick, creamy, and shocking pink. (“OK, Pepto Bismol pink. It has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. Its also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.”)

Makes 1 1/2 pints.