Focusing on the Moment

In 1980, I attended a two-weekend (6-day, 60-hour) transformation course known as “The EST Training”. During the training, I gained self-confidence, learned how to make meaningful choices, and enjoy life. The last day of the training, I declared my main goal in life was to make a difference in the world. Forty years later I am still focusing on the same goal.

Yesterday morning, I was thinking about what type of project I could create that would make a difference in a person’s life. This thought stopped me in my tracks. Why was I always thinking about making a difference instead of enjoying the happy moments in my own life?

Yesterday, my daughter was so busy with work she didn’t have time to plant flowers for me. I was annoyed at first that she couldn’t help me. Then I realized that I was jealous because she had a project to work on and I had nothing important to do. How irrational was that thought?

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Carolina’s Dance Recital

My great-granddaughter Carolina was going to be in a dance recital near her home in Georgia. Jill, my daughter, and I boarded a plane at Trenton Airport to Atlanta, Georgia.  Trenton Airport is very small, and the waiting area is almost non-existent. It made me very nervous sitting next to so many people not wearing a mask. I didn’t care what others were doing and wore one.

Jill reserved seats for us in the front of the plane and we were allowed to board the plane before the other passengers. The plane quickly filled up and there were no vacant seats. We landed two hours later in the Atlanta Airport.

The airport is very large, and we had to take a train to get our baggage and another one to the rental car area. Then Jill and I drove over two hours to arrive at my granddaughter’s house. Once we got there it was so exciting to see everyone — especially my great-grandchildren.

Carolina, four years old, had me doing crafts with her as soon as we arrived. After eating, Carolina, Jill (her grandmother), and I got into bed to read books. We all took turns reading a page.

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Trip of a Lifetime

The Western Wall

Speaking to my cousin Roz many months ago about giving myself a memorable birthday gift, we discussed the possibility of an Israeli tour. After researching a few of the Israeli tours, we decided on the 12-day Margret Morse Tour Group. It was one of the best decisions we ever made – the trip of a lifetime.

We booked the trip in November 2021 and hoped the threat of COVID would not cancel the trip. Roz had moved to Israel in August 2021. I decided to fly to Israel a few days before the tour began to visit with Roz and her family.

El-Al requires everyone to have a negative PCR test 72 hours before boarding the plane, and an entry document completed. I worried about the test for about a week and thankfully it was negative. When arriving in Israel I had to take another COVID test and remain in quarantine at Roz’s apartment until I received the results. Fortunately, the second test also came back negative.

The months flew by and before we knew it, March 21, 2022 had arrived. Arriving at Newark airport and going through Israeli security was nerve-racking. The custom agent wore a mask, and his English was hard to understand. I kept saying “What” until finally he was satisfied with my answers and told me to have a safe trip. From that point on the rest of the experience went smoothly.

The plane was packed with most of the middle seats empty. It was a long and smooth ride. When I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, my cousin, her daughter, and her husband were waiting for me. I was so excited, I couldn’t breathe.

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My Food Journey

Throughout my life I have always been obsessed with food. As a young child I never wanted to eat, and my mother made me milkshakes and gave me cookies so that I wouldn’t starve to death. This food drama continued until I was seven years old. At that point, I finally started to like certain foods – and everything changed. To my horror, I started gaining weight.

I discovered that food wasn’t just a substance for survival; instead, it made me feel better for a short while. At times I wish my dislike for food as a young child would have continued.

Through the years I became a Yo-Yo Dieter, losing weight and gaining it back. Reading an article about food obsessions, I learned of a group called Over Eaters Anonymous. They had scheduled meetings near my home. I was always looking for the perfect diet, so I decided to go. That night I found the perfect food plan, which consisted of eating three meals a day and two snacks twice a day. At breakfast I usually had yogurt and cereal with fruit and for lunch and dinner: 3 ounces of protein, 4 ounces of carbs, vegetables, and fruit. The snacks were 2 ounces of protein and fruit. I followed the food plan for ten years and kept the weight off.

Then one day, while out to lunch with friends, I ordered a hamburger with fries and had dessert. It felt so good to eat anything I wanted that I continued through the next three years to enjoy myself. There was only one problem: the numbers on the scale were getting higher. Periodically I went on a diet, but that never lasted for more than two to three weeks.

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Moving Forward

Since March 2020, we have been living with the threat of COVID. When you listen to the news,  the first thing you hear is what is happening in Ukraine, and then COVID. When are we going to get back to living our lives without the fear of COVID?

Now we don’t have to wear a mask when indoors. Is that safe? Whenever I enter a store, the first thing I do is put my mask on. Yesterday when I went food shopping, most people were still wearing a mask.

I was speaking to someone yesterday who is frightened to leave her house. She will only go into a store if there are only a few people there. Otherwise, she just leaves. On the other hand, some of my friends are not wearing masks and even going to the movies. Everyone has their own opinions.

I am careful and still living my life. I’m meeting friends for lunch or dinner, going into stores with a mask, and not going to the movies.

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It’s 7:00 in the morning and Alexa starts playing music by Barbara Streisand. My eyes slowly open and I think, “Oh no — I have to exercise.” After a while I start moving, slowly put on my exercise clothes, and take the equipment out of the closet.

I set the timer on my watch, read over the planned exercise program, and begin. After the second exercise I can’t say I am enjoying myself, but my mind stops complaining. The best part is that I have more energy, can get down and up from the floor, and have strength in my upper body. I must admit, my body is looking better!

In 1995, I hired my first exercise trainer and became obsessed with exercising. Each morning before work for an hour, I would go on the treadmill and lift weights. After work I followed the same routine. Eventually, my left knee said “no more,” and started hurting. After going to the doctor for shots and physical therapy, it was suggested to only do exercises that would strengthen the knee until my knee healed.  

This gave me permission to stop exercising for years. Every so often I would start exercising again, but within a brief time stopped again.

Not exercising took a toll on my body. I had trouble getting out of a chair, sometimes my balance was failing, and I just felt like a couch potato. I hired a trainer who was also a physical therapist. She created an exercise program focusing on my balance, strength, and flexibility. We have been working together for the past twenty years.

I would work with her every five weeks. For years I kept to this schedule. Then as the years passed, my exercise commitment started to evaporate. I would cancel appointments and not reschedule. Every so often I would feel guilty and schedule an appointment. I’d exercise for two weeks and then decide to rest my body. This pattern went on for years.

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Life Stresses

“Negativity” makes me crazy. At a networking event, I was speaking to another entrepreneur about the merits of social media. He felt that social media was a waste of time and anyone who used it was making a big mistake. Then he quickly changed the subject and told me about the terrible selection of breakfast food being served. I felt my stress level rising as I don’t feel comfortable with negative people. My first reaction was to tell him about the benefits of being positive. Instead, I just smiled and remained quiet.

Later, while driving home, I was angry at myself for not saying anything. I thought of ways in which I could have responded, especially about social media. I could have told him how social media has helped my blog to grow and allowed me to read posts from my grandchildren and learn about friend’s happy occasions. I promised myself that next time, I will share my thoughts instead of smiling and remaining quiet. Let’s take bets it will never happen.

Whenever I am overwhelmed – with answering too many emails, going out every night of the week, doing taxes, or cooking meals – I start shoving food into my mouth. Start with crackers, peanut butter from the jar, ice cream, and anything else that is crunchy or sweet, and always end the binge with fruit.

In order to control these bingeing tactics, I could meditate, take long walks, or call a friend to vent and find solutions. Recently, I have been trying these techniques and sometimes they work. I need to practice more. In some ways stress can be healthy, as it helps me cope with demanding situations.

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It was a cold, snowy day in March 2021 when I received calls from my daughters suggesting I sell my house. My first reaction was “NO Way.” They both tried to convince me, but I stood my ground and would not budge.

A few months later my cousin decided to sell her house and move to Israel. In a matter of days, the house was sold and she had made a substantial profit. Between the seed planted by my daughters and the success of my cousin, I started thinking that maybe I should sell my house.

Speaking to my daughters, I told them my idea, and the very next day a real estate agent was sitting in my living room. The next couple of days were a complete blur. The house was listed, and visitations were scheduled for that weekend. My cat, Lady Deva, and I left for the day. That night my agent called and reported he had received 16 bids. The two higher bidders were in a bidding war. I became very nervous and wanted to run away.

After discussing the bids with my agent, daughters, and son in-law, we decided to accept the next-to-highest bidder. Our feelings were that they would be easier to work with – what a big mistake.

I hired a lawyer and was excited about the next chapter in my life. The Agent scheduled appointments to view properties for sale or rent in 55-and-over communities. I fell in love with one house, but the monthly rental was very high. Having a limited time frame, I decided to rent the house.

The prospective buyers’ lawyer took forever in accepting the contract for sale. Then the nightmare began, as the buyers hired an inspector who found 32 items needing repairs on my 60-year-old home. At that point, I reevaluated the idea of selling my home.

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Lady Deva

The first time I saw Mini, a 10-year-old rescue cat, I fell in love. She had the greenest eyes, the shiniest blue-black coat, and white paws. Mini was living in the apartment above the vet’s office for over a year. Due to COVID, I was introduced to her though a window. Two days later Mini was in my car going to her new home.

When we got to my house, she explored every room and lay down in a corner to take a nap. I let her sleep and called my family and friends to let them know about my new companion. After a while she woke up and kept exploring, careful not to take a step near me.

After leaving her alone, Mini finally ventured towards me for a pet on her back. I spoke quietly, telling her how happy I was that we would be living together. Listening for a few seconds, she then walked back into her corner. Between her naps she ate very little and (thankfully) used the litter box. When I got into bed that night, she climbed onto the bed and slept a distance away from me.

The next day she was very comfortable and even slept on my lap. We became fast friends. I didn’t like her name and decided that I had to change it. While speaking to my sister we had a good laugh over her name. My grandparents named my mother Mini, which she hated and changed to Mona when she was a young girl.  We then discussed new names for Mini and, after telling her what a Deva she was, I decided to rename her Lady Deva, also known as Deva. She sleeps on the bed until 10:00am each morning and only eats foods with gravy. After calling her Lady Deva a few times, she became friendlier. I guess she really didn’t like her name either.

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