August 11, 2014

Grateful Summer

As I sat on the deck of our new-to-us home on the Grand Canal in the quaint and a bit touristy town of Ocean Shores, a kingfisher decided to join in my morning reverie. In the distance we could hear the crashing of the waves and the accompaniment of of avian voices chittering, bickering, and announcing the day. The kingfisher and I watched as the swallows swooped and skimmed the surface of the mirror-like water that was broken occasionally by a small fish surfacing to create the most wonderful circular ripples. My companion eyed me warily as I continued to sit quietly enjoying her company and my tea. The smell of my childhood embraced us both - fresh, ocean air filled with salt from the churning water joined with the smell of the lush, green vegetation. It filled my lungs and forced me to remember a simpler, long-ago time.

Suddenly, my companion left her comfortable and familiar perch atop the naked flagpole and dove beak-first into the still water creating the most pleasant splash. She captured her prize and flew across the canal to another naked flagpole that was equally as familiar. I watched as she perched for a few moments, then was on her way to who-knows-where.

This isn't the first time that my friend, the kingfisher, has joined me for morning tea.
And I am glad of it. For who can have such a companion in this life, even for a short time?

I am grateful for all our wild companions here - the wide-eyed deer and the picturesque seagulls, the fish in the canal and the river otter that pokes his head up on his way back to his den under the overhanging branches on the water's edge. This is their home, and I am only a fortunate visitor, truly.

I am most grateful for where I find myself, which is rather unexpected, I might add.

I am grateful for the loving, guiding hand of HaShem for bountiful blessings of provision, comfort, and companionship.

I am grateful for unconditional love, friendship, and commitment.

I am grateful for the far-away sound of a buoy bell.

I am grateful for friendly, new neighbors in this sweet town that tourists will never know.

I am grateful for a place of peace and rest.

I am grateful for the fresh, salt air that fills my aging and asthmatic lungs.

I am grateful for the three swallow babies that sit on a branch close to our deck and wait for their parents to bring them sustenance.

I am grateful for, and apologetic to, the blue heron that likes to sit silent in the reeds closeby; unfortunately, he does not care for our company so always decides to relocate across the canal, scolding the whole way.

I am grateful. Beyond grateful.
I feel almost guilty.

Baruch HaShem.

May 25, 2014

Must-have Treasures

Now that school has ceased for the summer, what's a student to do when the pressure is off? Well, wherever it is, it needs to involve a camera, for sure! Yesterday we made our way down to the incredible Portland Saturday Market. What an awesome thing this is. We found some irresistible treasures that had to come home with us...and I want to share them and the artisans that create them. Don't you need some of these things? (I have included the websites/business information, just in case you do.)

Below you can see an example of the wonderfully whimsical artwork of Karla Dornacher. It reminds me of Mary Engelbreit but lighter and more inspirational. She had a terrific piece of artwork that featured Psalm 1 and the Tree of Life that I was immediately drawn to. However, this one seemed to fit my needs better...

I came home with a really sweet banner set of her encouragements - forgive freely, give thanks, dream big, trust G-d, and shine brightly. They are bright and happy. I love it!

But this item was, hands down, my favorite of the day. Made from 99% recycled materials, this messenger bag gets its texture from used burlap coffee bags - that's right - coffee! How cool is that?? So, it has the burlap on the front and handle (built up with webbing - that's the 1% not recycled), and recycled leather jacket on the backside. Inside they used men's shirts for the lining and clever! I figured a religion student needed one that had a mission featured on the front, and I am currently having a love affair with the color orange, so this was my pick. But, there were many others to choose from; in fact, Lisa got one that is made of recycled upholstery fabric. These bags also sport a special pocket lined with recycled blanket for an iPad or Kindle - perfect! I can't love this enough! The artisans, a husband and wife team, gave me a handful of cards with my receipt saying that I will be asked about this bag...I am sure of it!

This next treasure is so fun. It is a hanging vase with thick copper wire fashioned around it - can't wait to see it filled with the peonies that just exploded in our backyard! I really enjoy stuff like this...

I have been itchin' to get some of this type of earrings - no backing, just push them through the ear - so simple and light! They are sterling and look so very cool on. The very cheery and fun artisan of these beauties shared some laughs with us as she convinced me to try them on. So glad I did - fun!

Do you like burled wood as much as I do? The beautiful small mantle clock below is made out of Birdseye Maple, which is beautiful, but what really sold it was...can you guess? Gotta have the Hebrew numbers - yes, please! They had so many beautiful things, all of which were polished with super-fine steel wool and wax polish - no poly here. Sometimes, you just cannot bypass these kinds of treasures.

We also snagged these treasures - a pendant made from recycled chandelier crystals and a dictionary from the early 20th century, some incredible lavender body moisturizer that melts as you hold it in your hand, and an uber-cool cutting board made from beautifully crafted woods. I'm gonna use it for serving sliced cheese and other nibbles (and it was only $10 in their sale pile!). I love supporting these local artists and their endeavors. Partly because I am so extremely sick of seeing the same old crap in the mall, but also because I want to enjoy these types of unique pieces in my life. Unique art pieces have so much character and contain the love and care put into their creation. You can't say that about your MK purse or the pair of earrings that everyone else is wearing from the department store. Character - that is what makes these pieces treasures.

I picked the pendant that featured dandelion wishes - love!
Unfortunately, I didn't get the artist's business cards for these treasures - boo.

I hope you feel motivated to check out these artisans noted above, as well as this one below. I didn't buy anything from her, but she had some of the best-made duct tape wallets I have ever seen. I had never seen this ingenious flask idea, but who can't love it? I will be indulging from her website, most definitely.

Street fairs and farmer's markets are one of my most favorite things. Diverse food, smells, music, people, vendor/artists, and preferably sunshine - what's not to love? I also love the market in Ballard on the weekends, and in Tacoma on Thursdays. You have to get to this Portland Saturday Market, if at all possible. It is located pretty close to the Voodoo Donut shop. You will have to wait in line for that, though...just sayin'.

March 2, 2014

The Philosophy of the Donut

Heraclitus – You can’t eat the same donut twice.

Plato – All donuts share in ideal ‘donut-ness.'

Aristotle – A donut contains its donut-ness.

Augustine – Donuts need grace to be fully donut.

Descartes – A donut hole proves the existence of the donut.

Locke – Donuts taste good to me.

Hume – Donuts exist because I imagine donuts.

Kant – A ‘donut’ = my total experience of donuts.

Wollstonecraft – Women deserve donuts, too.

Mill – Donuts are good if they make people happy.

Kierkegaard – I have faith that donuts are delicious.

Marx – Everybody deserves donuts.

Nietzsche – Stop at nothing to get your donut.

Saussure – Beignet/Krappen/Ciambella/Bunuelo = donut.

Wittgenstein  - Fried pastry, zero, parking lot spin, spare tire.

Beauvoir – Patriarchy is responsible for the shape of the donut.

Malcolm X - We should all be afforded the opportunity to get donuts…by any means necessary.

Ayn Rand – A donut is a donut.

Schrodinger – Until someone looks in the box, you are both eating and not eating the donut.

Homer (Simpson) – Mmmmm…donuts.

February 23, 2014

The Oil Cleansing Method - My Turn!

If you haven't yet heard of the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM), surely you will soon. This method has been around for a long time, and I know even the inhabitants of the Ancient Near East used oil as a body cleanser and beautifier.

So, the premise is that soap and chemicals strip and dry the skin, as well as result in sensitivities over time. The consequences of stripping the skin of its protective skin oils can lead to acne, itchiness, extreme dryness, eczema, premature aging, and more. In my ongoing effort to combat all of these nasties (yes, I do suffer!), I am giving the Oil Cleansing Method a try.

my new cleansing routine - no chemicals!

To further research this well-attested method, check out these links:

Alright, are you convinced yet?? Yeah...I was, too!

So, here is what I'm doing. I have been using a Clarisonic tool in an effort to get my irritating breakout under control, and it did that. However, it completely stripped my face of any oil it ever had! My skin kept getting dryer and dryer, but I still had an occasional blemish here and there. Ugh. I tried just about every skin cleanser on the market, from the Clarisonic cleanser, to specialty brands like Mary Kay, to cleansers for sensitive skin with no soap at all...nothing was working. I finally resorted to no cleanser at all, and was more dry and itchy than ever!! That's when I stumbled upon this DIY experiment.

My OCM Recipe

.5 oz. avocado oil
.5 oz. jojoba oil
.5 oz. castor oil
1.5 oz. grapeseed oil

This is my facial cleanser in the shower. Most OCM sources say to hold a hot washcloth on your face after massaging in the oil for a minute, but that it a bit harsh for my hyper-sensitive skin. So, I massage it onto my face in the shower a good bit (relaxing is good!), then rinse in the spray while continuing to massage. It will still be oily-feeling, but that's OK. Go about the rest of your routine, and then blot with your towel when you get out of the shower. In the evening, I dampen my face a bit with warm water, then massage in about a quarter-size amount onto my face with my fingertips. I then splash the warm (hot-but-not-too) on my face a few times, continuing to massage, then blot with a clean washcloth (be careful not to get oil into your eyes...not so good - use the spritz below for removing eye makeup). I follow with the spritz #1 below.

My #1 Facial Spritz-On Moisture

4 Tbsp Aloe Vera Juice (not the gel)
1/4 tsp jojoba oil
1/4 tsp sweet almond oil
1/4 tsp avocado oil
1 tsp vegetable glycerin

This #1 spritz is the BEST makeup remover I have ever used! I spray a few pumps onto a round cotton cosmetic pad and use that to remove eye makeup. Sweet! You could also use this spritz (or either of them, really) on hot days to freshen up.

My #2 Hand 'n Body Spritz-On Moisture

2 Tbsp Aloe Vera Juice (not the gel)
2 Tbsp Rose Water
1/4 tsp jojoba oil
1/4 tsp sweet almond oil
1/4 tsp avocado oil
1 tsp vegetable glycerin

These are great after I get out of the shower...I gently blot my face dry and then spritz! The #2 smells good, too! I carry a small mist bottle of the #2 spritz in my bag in place of hand cream.

I will probably continue to use the Clarisonic, but not every day. Probably 2-3 times a week will most likely be sufficient for deep pore cleansing (which is its specialty). I will use the Clarisonic in the shower with water only, followed by my oil concoction, as usual.

For the occasional breakout, I have mixed up my own blemish-control oil - maybe you would like it, as well.

My Blemish Treatment

.5 oz. Tea Tree Oil
.5 oz of a mix of 20% castor oil and 80% sunflower oil*

I just dab a bit on the problem area with a Q-Tip. Tea Tree Oil is very drying, and so is the castor oil. The sunflower oil is the necessary carrier oil - you don't want to use Tea Tree Oil by itself on your skin!

*I had started this journey with this oil mix of 20% castor oil and 80% sunflower oil. However, I soon discovered that this is way too drying for my skin. I quickly switched to the mix you see above. I thought this mix would be a good base for my Tea Tree Oil blemish treatment.

UPDATE: This blemish treatment is the BEST! It takes away the redness and swelling, as well as drying up the blemish fast. You have got to have some of this on hand!

One other thing I did was invest in washcloths devoted solely to my OCM. They will be washed separately, as well, for obvious reasons (don't want oil all over my clothing in the wash!). Another item of note: I have stayed away from EVOO because of the risk of breakout - don't need more of that! A lot of sources suggest it, and some are warning that it causes a lot of folks to breakout. Use your best judgement.

I have very high hopes that this will be the answer to my sensitive skin woes. It has been for so many I have read online. Let me know if you give it a go...I want to hear of your experience!

UPDATE: This is the best thing since sliced bread! No, really!! After only one week of using the OCM faithfully (morning and evening) my skin looks better than it did when I was 20! OK, maybe 30...but still! The #2 spritz-on moisture is the bomb for my legs and hands - love it, love it, love it!!  I am just so pleased. I wish I would have stumbled upon it much, MUCH earlier!

I have had to diminish my makeup use, as the Sheer Cover foundation I was using doesn't do so well for some reason. It began to get real splotchy through the day. So, I ditched it in favor of what I used to do when I was much younger: just a dusting of powder. I like the Sheer Cover finishing powder, personally. No blush or bronzer needed - the natural glow of my skin is more than enough! A little eye shadow, liner and mascara, a swish of lip gloss and I'm done! The best part of all is that my skin doesn't feel dry, prickly or itchy anymore, nor do I have uncontrollable flakiness - what a miracle!

A couple of more recipes you may appreciate:

Sugar Scrub Recipe (for the softest hands EVER)

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup part avocado oil (or sweet almond, olive)
4 capsules Vitamin E (squeezed out!)

Stir and store in an airtight container. No refrigeration needed.
To use: take a glob of sugar mixture and massage into hands (for as long as you like!); rinse with warm water and pat dry with paper towels. Aaaahhhhh.

Ultimate Body Oil

1/4 cup avocado oil
1 T jojoba oil
1 T sweet almond oil
1 T castor oil
4 vitamin E oil capsules (or 1/4 tsp)

Use this anywhere you need extra can even use this as an all over after-shower body oil.

January 15, 2014

Owning my story.

We, my besties and I, are currently working through Brene Brown's book, Gifts of Imperfection. In this book, she talks quite a bit about shame (since she is a shame researcher) and 'owning your story'. This owning is essential to becoming shame-resilient. I have borne a lot of shame for the past, as I never have felt as if I have achieved the expectations of others I considered important in my life. My failed efforts to be smart enough, strong enough, good enough, talented enough, pretty enough, thin enough, funny enough, and to never to smile "too big" or laugh too loud have gained me nothing but shame and an every-present drive to be perfect. However, I am now striving to learn to accept my colorful journey, along with past hurts and destructive events, as essential in the process of becoming who I am today. Below is a re-post of the About the Author on another of my blogs, which is a start to owning my story, and not feeling shame as a result of it.

This has really come to the forefront in my life not only as a result of reading Brown's book, but also as a result of the first real revealing of my story to an interested professor. Yes, I will have to own this story, or else (I fear) it will cripple my progress in my educational career in religion and ancient Near Eastern studies. I don't want to be ashamed any longer - I am not who anyone has said I am. I am thankful for every day that I have lived, and I earned the right to own my story through laughter, dreams, heartbreak and tears, regardless of the judgments and opinions of others, either real or perceived.

* * * * * *

Hendel D'bu lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved partner, her best friend and her youngest son. She loves to study, write, photograph and travel.

Hendel strongly believes:

in keeping Torah, including Shabbat and the moedim,

in a historical (contextual) hermeneutic of interpreting Scripture,

that there is One Law for both Jew and Gentile,

that Yeshua of Nazareth is the promised Messiah, and thus fulfilled all that was written in the Tanakh.

Hendel was raised in a G-d fearing home, but did not participate in organized religion until the birth of her first child. She attended a large Assemblies of G-d church for eight years, participating heavily in the choir, dance performance and women's ministries. Upon leaving the church, she came home to pray and wait on the LORD for direction. During this time, she attended a women's retreat where one of the workshops featured Hebrew dancing. Being a dancer, Hendel was fascinated and returned home diligently seeking a place to continue to learn Hebrew/Israeli folk and worship dancing.

Upon the leading of the Holy Spirit, she found her way to a messianic synagogue led by a Torah/Pauline scholar and former Baptist pastor. For nearly nine years she sat under his intensive training and teaching, learning the ways of Judaism, biblical and covenant theology, ancient Hebrew culture, the basics of the Hebrew language and re-learning how to interpret Scripture. While studying and living in this Torah-observant community, Hendel discovered her Jewish heritage. She was honored to serve in the community as manager of the small Judaica shop, children's Yeshiva teacher, Festival (and special events) Coordinator, as well as singing in the musical worship team. She also learned Hebrew and Israeli dances, enjoying many Shabbat afternoons dancing with beloved members of the community.

October 2010 brought Hendel home to worship in a small group, away from a congregational setting. This small group worshiped and studied every Shabbat, and had the privilege of sharing festivals and other important events together. Maintaining the liturgical feel of the synagogue, they enjoyed the traditional prayers, oneg, fellowship, and studying various Torah scholars and teachers. As of the turn of the year 2014, Hendel is not attending (or hosting) any formal or informal liturgical meetings, but still seeks to keep the mitzvot and moedim, and continues to long for the day of the LORD, always.

As one chapter of her life nears it's end (homeschooling her three children), a new one begins. HaShem has led Hendel to seek education in religion and classical (ancient civilizations) studies, and anthropology, with the ultimate goal of a doctorate degree. She currently attends Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, Washington, as an undergraduate.

Hendel is eternally blessed with her journey and values all her religious and non-religious experiences for what she has learned, and will learn in the future. She is more than honored at the fellowship she has been privileged to enjoy. However, being outside of community has facilitated a type of ownership and validation of her own strong faith and beliefs that has sustained her through the heartbreak of difficult and trying times. She has come to the strong conviction that none of us truly understands how to love as the Master commands, and that loving one another is far more important than we ever realized. It is only when we love each other unconditionally can the love of HaShem be truly witnessed.

Without the presence, grace and mercy of our LORD, no one would be able to do anything. To Him be all the glory forever.

January 4, 2014


It is pretty frosty outside. That's is not so unusual at the beginning of January in the PNW, as a general rule. And, as it is the 4th of January (the anniversary of my entrance into mortality), I will luxuriate in a little retrospection. One more year and I will be at a milestone, of sorts.

I am eternally grateful for this journey, always. So many amazing things happened this year that I would have never imagined. I am blessed beyond my wildest imagination. Just for my own gratification, and for the sake of posterity, I will attempt to encapsulate all that still leaves me thanking the Holy One daily and profusely...

This year I won a scholarship, entered university, and am 'livin' the dream' of higher education. I am still amazed at this one - every time I walk onto campus, I wonder what the heck I am doing here! As of this moment and after much contemplation, I have decided upon my goal: double major in religion and classics, with a minor in anthropology. This is very settling and feels right - and makes me smile. Big goals!

This last summer I, along with my beloved, my bestie, and my youngest, traveled the country for nearly 4 weeks. We loved every moment of it! We experienced the Salt Lake Temple, the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Hearst Castle, and a million other things along the way. There is absolutely nothing I love more than travel.

This year I bought a new car! Can't even express how much I love this sweet piece of machinery (a black, tinted window, personalized-plate, 2013 Subaru BRZ). What a ride!

I jumped into a DSLR this year...finally. I love photography, and it was just time for me to expand into higher technology. I love the Nikon D3200, and am still playing with it to establish relationship.

I truly learned so much this year. It is like the whole world opened up to me...and my curiosity is definitely peaked! I have studied theology, gender-related sociology and feminists movements, and religious cults. We have read, studied and researched quite extensively here in our household - I am so blessed!

I purchased a Kindle Fire this year. This thing is amazing. I tried a tablet (Samsung) at first, and then ended disappointed and up giving it to my youngest. But, the Fire is exactly the ticket - internet access and books! It goes with me everywhere. (I also splurged on a 'Hot Spot' to have internet anywhere I can get phone signal - what a luxury!)

We have enjoyed and explored many, many local destinations this year. We drove to Leavenworth, Ocean Shores, Seattle, Portland, the Oregon Coast, Lynden, Snohomish, Whidbey Island and north, Spokane, and more I can't think of right now. We rode the ferry, shopped street fairs and farmer's markets, graduated my middle homeschooler, walked on the beach, enjoyed the lavender fields, ordered a lot of coffee at Starbucks, scoured antique shops, got lost in bookstores, ate at too many restaurants, made up new cocktails, surfed too many hours on facebook, and celebrated the feasts. We struggled through legal headache then happily celebrated two divorces, searched for perfect items to decorate our home, given each other necessary therapy, made new friends and made time to love dear ones, dressed as Star Wars characters, prayed together, watched too many movies to count, shared many laughs and shed necessary tears. Oh, and I studied, studied and studied some more! Through it all, we have hugged beloved family and friends, and have missed those who are gone. And through it all, we loved each other.

So, there it is - my 49th year of life here on earth. As I head into my 50th year, I have to ask myself what have I learned?

I think I have learned that I am still the same on the inside as I was when I was much younger; it is just my body that is aging. That I will never be able to suppress my insatiable curiosity and a deep, abiding love for others. I will never stop loving all those that have crossed my path in significant ways, despite how they have treated me. I have learned that I was a part of a cult group, and that I am finally in a position to work through the psychological aspects of that experience. And that while my long-standing marriage wasn't what I wanted it to be, I will always love and care about my ex-husband, and want the best for him (and his family).

I have learned to love my children from afar as they begin their lives as adults. I am learning how to make sure they know I am, and always will be, there for them when they want or need me.

I have learned how much I needed sisters by the two that have been placed in my life. I love you, Lisa and Laura...I couldn't have asked for better or more loving sisters. I know that I have been truly blessed with true friends - the kind that don't leave - through beautiful souls such as Kevin, Patty and Chana. I pray for their protection and blessing from the Holy One, as I look forward to meeting new friends on my academic journey.

But, more than anything else I have learned this year, I have learned what true love is from my soul-mate and the love of my life, Chuck. He is my rock, my grounding, my twin. He is gracious and kind, caring and compassionate beyond any I have ever met. He talks with me, walks with me, and gives his time freely without any thought of himself. Somehow, my life was never complete without him. Now that he is here, I thank G-d every day for his presence. What a beautiful gift and lesson of love the LORD has given to me!

from the Song of Solomon

I should set goals for next year, I suppose. Perhaps my educational goals are enough for now. I do know this, however...that through whatever lies in store, that my G-d will be with me, that my friends will stand beside me, and I will forever love all whom the LORD gives me to love. My dear sister picks a word every year to focus on, and I think this is interesting. If I were to pick a word for this coming year, I think I would choose OPEN. I want to be open - open to others, open to new ideas, open to new situations and people. Open as opposed to closed, available as opposed to elitist, humble as opposed to self-righteous. A worthy goal, it is, to be open, available, and humble as I move through another year of life, love, and learning.

December 29, 2013

Winter Break

My first semester at university was pretty intense. I have heard from many experts that the first year is the hardest for any number of reasons, but I think it was intense for me due to the nature of the classes I took. Heavy gender study focusing on violence probably wasn’t the way to start, eh? My last final was on the 18th, and we, my roomies and I, have been trying to cram a whole lot of down-time into this two-week break. Here’s some of what we did:

Saw a couple of movies

If you haven’t seen Saving Mr. Banks, then stop reading this immediately and go see it. Yes, I mean it. It is that good! I am a non-stop Tom Hanks fan, and again, he does not disappoint. What a film! We also had the pleasure of enjoying Frozen with two of my favoritest people in the whole world, Laura and Patty. I was expecting to come out of the movie with a rippin’ feminist critique of the newest animation from Disney, but no dice. Except for a couple of minor feminist glitches, it was great. Gonna catch it again so the Mr. can see it, just for fun.

Read a few books

What in the world does one do when there isn’t several academic projects pressing for attention? Read, of course! While Lisa shares nuggets of wisdom from the latest book she is reading about codependency (which she says is excellent! and, here is her thorough review of another worthwhile book on the subject), Chuck is thoroughly enjoying the book I suggested he read by Steve Allen entitled Dumbth.  Allen writes brilliantly in this book about how society has been dumbed-down and lazy in critical thinking skills and everyday common sense. We are currently working through the 101 ways Allen suggests to exercise the grey matter – most excellent! We are also getting to know more about introversion and extroversion from another scholarly offering Chuck is tackling from author Dr. Susan Cain called Quiet. Cain lays out quite succinctly that society has forsaken introverts for the more gregarious extroverts, despite the fact that the population is not split evenly in this regard. She refers to current research and many examples to show the need for both types of personality in our society to achieve the ideal balance of extroverted go-getters and introverted thinkers.

As for me, I chose a personal narrative from one of the former members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, which is highly informative. Lauren Drain’s perspective from inside the family-cult is engaging, but sad. I appreciate her open honesty and innocence that many experience when becoming an active part of a religious community. In addition, I am also reading a more academic work entitled The Body Project, An Intimate History of American Girls. Now, this one is definitely worth the read. Author Joan Jacobs Brumberg explores how the changes of the female adolescent experience has changed in the last hundred years. I am really enjoying this choice - the writing and information are both excellent.

And, last but not least, we read together the excellent offering from Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection. We just love reading out loud in the car because if makes for some awesome discussions!

Bought a camera

I finally took the plunge into DSLR! Lisa got a new camera, as well, and we have been taking little forays out into the world to practice our photography skills! (And, Lisa is getting quite good, I might add!) The Nikon D3200 is a challenge for me, especially after being absolutely spoiled with my hybrid Nikon P510 (lovingly called “sportscar” due to its lovely red color). When the new camera gets too frustrating, I reach for sportscar and get the shot I am looking for! But, I am continuing to work with the new camera, and at the suggestion of my friend Erik, added a 1.8/50mm portrait (or normal) lens to my camera bag. So much to learn!

Went to the beach

We not only spent Thanksgiving/Hanukkah down in Ocean Shores, but the Christmas holiday, as well! It was lovely weather – crisp and winter-misty, but with the most beautiful sunsets anyone could ask for. No decorations, trees, gifts or grand feasts for us – just good things for the soul: breathing crisp, fresh ocean air into our lungs, walking on the beach, relaxing, and enjoying a beautiful condo with close friends.

beautiful sunset from Aberdeen

Thanksgiving/Hanukkah 2013 @ Ocean Shores

Indulged in a Lovesac

OK, if you have never seen these, you must! These are glorified bean bag chairs for grown-ups, and they are fabulous! Once it was fully ‘fluffed’, I have been sinking into it ever since! Naps, reading, more naps…you get the picture!

Slept in

Well, kinda. I’m not much of a sleeper-inner, but I did sleep until 9am one day! Just sleeping without waking worrying about the next paper that is due is refreshing.

Went to court

Right after we returned from the beach, the three of us got up uber-early to be in court to hear the gavel drop on Lisa’s divorce…finally! There was many unnecessary delays and too much unwarranted foot-dragging involved with this should-have-been-simple divorce, but well after a year of separation, it is complete. We determined that the ‘other’ interested parties were not present due to court fees due, but that is to be expected. Thankfully, the judge was merciful to Lisa even though the respondent’s so-called attorney made errors in the final paperwork. I am so very happy for her, and honestly, you can visibly see the weight lifted from her shoulders - she had to struggle through every (dirty) detail of this lengthy process. There are some things in life that just need to happen, regardless of what anyone, religious or otherwise, says. It is true that “G-d hates divorce,” but it also says that G-d also hates a man who deals treacherously with his wife. Yep, it really says that. More people should add that part when they parrot what G-d ‘hates’. [end of rant]

Geared up for January-term

Am I ready for my first J-term? Good question! 15-weeks of a 4-credit class crammed into 4 weeks – I can do it! I am ready – got my books – cleaned up my study-cubby from last semester’s chaos - and can’t wait to delve into Ancient Civilizations of the Near East. Sounds right up my alley!

Long-overdue visits with friends

In the remaining days of this break, I have lovely plans to visit my dear friend on the other side of the bridge (that would be the Narrows), and spend some much-needed phone time with my beloved Louisiana friend. All my friends are so important to me; I am grateful that they are willing to hold my hand and wait for me while I bash my head against the wall trying to get good marks in school.

Phew! That’s a lot of stuff! School starts back on the 2nd, two days before my 49th birthday. This winter break, as well as this last year, has been a whirlwind, but I have NEVER been happier in my life. Never.

Onward and upward!

Baruch HaShem.
Everything happens for a reason.
The good, the bad, the indifferent.
They all have a purpose.

Never forget who you are.
Never forget Who you serve.

And no matter what happens,
keep your face turned to the Light.