Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Determining my Denomination

Funny story, with a lesson. It's long, well, not very, but long enough that I have no patience writing it all down at once, so I will divide it up into two parts. Story today, lesson next time.

Two weeks ago, at the RCCS auction in Williamsburg, my aunt's niece (no, not my cousin- her niece from the other side...) was sitting with her friends towards the back of the audience.

She and her friends are high school girls who read my book and liked it (I would say loved it but that would make me sound big headed...) and were discussing it as they were waiting for my segment of the evening to come up.

Then the lights dimmed and the huge screens lit up with the slideshow. People got quiet in order to watch and listen and so this aunt's niece was able to clearly hear two ladies talking behind her.

They were discussing who Tzipi Caton was and where she was from and who raised her and who cut her sheitels and did her dry cleaning. I may be mixing things up, but you get the gist.

One lady decided that despite certain words I pronounce with a Chassidish havarah; I was definitely not "one of theirs". The other one, despite the picture of myself and my bearded, Chassidish husband at our engagement, decided that I must be from out of town, maybe from the country of Flatbush. Then the first one agreed, saying that despite my light skin and freckles, with my dark sheitel, I must be Sephardic. The second one was quick to nod and remind her that despite it being a known pen-name, the name Caton was a dead giveaway to my Morrocan/ Yemenite/ Marrano/ Mexican/ and not to forget, Chinese heritage.

My aunt's niece, by then laughing hard enough to cause those two ladies to "shush" at her because she was disrupting their disruption of the slideshow, turned around to tell them that I was a from a moderate Chassidish home, was born, raised, live, and will probably be buried within the same two block radius in Brooklyn, was from the most Polish of backgrounds possible and that my real name was common and normal enough to rival whatever theirs may have been.

The ladies looked at her funny and she told them, "Listen, I know her, we share an aunt."

And one lady, (I think it was lady number two) blinked slowly and asked her if that was my Sephardi aunt or if she was from the Chassidish side of the family....

So that's the story. Personally, I find it funny, but my mother had a good lesson to go with it. You know I am never one to pass up a good opportunity to stand on my virtual soapbox, so I will be back with the rest soon enough!

Monday, December 29, 2008

RCCS DVDs!

Just got an email from LadyD at RCCS who said that they are now selling copies of my slideshow (well, not mine, cos I didn't make it, but mine cos it's of me and my scrapbook) for $12 apiece.

It's worth it I think because the money is going to a worthy cause and because it's of ME! And it's so much better than an autograph... I mean, what's my handwriting compared to my face and voice and pictures of me in hospital gowns?

AND...They are also putting together a DVD of the slideshow PLUS my speech, PLUS Reb. Miriam Swerlov's speech PLUS Reb. Lubin's speech. That one will be sold for $18, and I'll make sure to post when it is available.

If anyone is interested in a copy, call the RCCS office at 718-722-2002.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Appreciating Miracles

When do Miracles begin?

I mean, at what point during a Miracle does it happen that we all wake up and realize that it's going on right in front of our eyes?

Chanukah is a time most of us ask these kinds of questions. We can so easily see all the nissim that took place in the Chanukah story but that's because we're looking back at it, years and years later.

When did people start exclaiming, "It's a miracle!!!"? When they found the oil? When it burned for 8 days? When they defeated the Greeks? When Yehudis brought back Eliporni's head? All of the above?

There were so many miracles of Chanukah, I have to wonder if each and every one was noticed and appreciated when it took place, or if it was only seen in hindsight.

Yesterday my miracle began with my son vomiting all over our car. We're talking serious stuff. Like his throw up landing on the windshield all the way from his car seat in the back.

His new coat, his pants, his car seat, his teddy bear, everything was covered.

We were on the way to an appointment and couldn't turn back so we had to strip my kid in the parking lot of random store and wrap him in a fuzzy blanket for the rest of the time. I had to sit in the back with him in my lap, praying that he didn't throw up again and that I wouldn't either.

For the rest of the day I was busy bathing him, washing his stinky stuff, feeding him, cuddling with him, and asking him how his tummy was doing.

Later at night he refused to go to sleep, he only wanted to sit with me and cuddle while I read a book. He was talking away, telling me the kind of warbled stories and thoughts that can only exist in the head of an almost two year old.

When he fell asleep I put him in his crib, covered him up to his chin, gave him a kiss and went on to do everything else that a Mommy has to do before she goes to sleep herself.

I walked into the dining room to close the shades now that the Menorah had finished burning, and realized that it was the third night of Chanukah- exactly five years to the day that I met my husband. Seems like ages ago that I met him in pajamas with a huge mask covering my face, but it wasn't, it was only five years ago.

Five years ago it seemed like I was at my worst- like things were never going to get better. Like I was never going to have hair again, never going to finish treatments, never going to get out of the dark.

But then, at a most unexpected time, my miracle began. I met my husband. None of us knew at the time where that meeting would being us five years later, but looking back, I can definitely say that was the start of my miracle.

Or maybe it wasn't.

Maybe it started when I got sick. Because if I hadn't then I never would have become close to my teacher and my father would never have met her and never considered setting her up with the man who later became my husband.

Or maybe it started when my husband caught a ride home from Shul one Motzai Shabbos with my mother years and years ago. My mother always drives over to pick my father up from Shul and gives rides to the men who are on the way home. Once, a million years ago, my husband got a ride with my parents and it was actually my mother, not my father who thought of my husband when she met my teacher.

Who knows when that miracle began. Maybe it began before we were born.

No, not maybe. I don't doubt it. Because looking back, it's obvious that it was all planned. And it must have been planned way in advance seeing how far back and how many conditions had to be met in order for us to meet and marry each other.

So yesterday, my miracle began when my son threw up. I don't really know what the miracle was or is or will turn out to be, but I decided that I might as well appreciate it.

After all, it led to a day full of cuddles and coziness and warmth and joy and a lot of appreciation for where I am five years to the day I met my husband. Every day is a miracle- even when it's not something definite, something we can pinpoint and put our fingers on, it's still part of a much larger plan that will bring us to bigger and better things.

I'm not sure when I'll be looking back at my life and recognize a Nes years after it took place. If I can somehow find a way to appreciate every part of every day, every second that might be the building block to a bigger, more special moment in time, why not start now?

So my miracle yesterday started with throw up... Hey, anythings' possible!

May we all be zoche to experience miracles and appreciate them for what they are.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two down and one to go!

First of all- a *wave* and a *smiley* for all of the blog readers I met last night. It was so much fun to meet some of the people who spend some time each morning when the boss isn't looking to read my updates.

LadyD- What time are you posting comments? Where do you get your energy? I can barely keep my head up.

And about what I wore- it was the same outfit that I wore on the film and I was nervous that people were going to notice and say something and guess what- the first thing I heard as soon as the film ended and the spotlight shone on me standing on stage, was some ladies in the front saying, "Oh look! She's wearing the same thing like on the slide! It looks like she stepped right out of it!"

So I guess it was not a problem. :-)

One more to go, Lakewood tonight! I guess I can't get away with wearing the same thing tonight again... gotta start obsessing. :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Tonight!

Well the RCCS party in Williamsburg is.

I am so excited and nervous to be there. But more excited I think. :-) You know I'm going to stress all day about what to wear so please compliment me on whatever I chose when you see me tonight. LOL

Seriously, RCCS just emailed me the slideshow production - they already showed it last night in Monsey but I didn't get to see it till about half an hour ago.

It's STUNNING. And not just because my makeup is good.

Actually, I look kind of nervous and I'm talking too fast and you can see how red my face is (It was a mix of my blushing and heat from the camera lights) but still, it's worth seeing.

I can't post it here , at least not now, but I am amazed at how well it was done and how good it looks and everything.

I know, I'm rambling, but really, Wow.

The slideshow was done by On Time productions, their website is www.ontimeprovideo.com. They were so easy to work with when they filmed me for the interview and the job they did on the final product is awesome. Check them out!

I hope to see some of you there tonight- I don't speak until very late, I'm kind of at the end of the program- they're trying to entice people to stay as late as possible to hear me, but it would be nice even if you came and left before I got up to speak- you hear enough of what I have to say here anyway. :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society

I might have mentioned in an earlier post that I was booked for the Chinese Auction season this December. At the time I didn't want to give out particulars because it was not my party and I didn't feel it was right to spill everything before they even advertised.

But now it's out and if you didn't get the auction books already, I'll be speaking at the upcoming RCCS functions in Williamsburg's Rose Castle on Tuesday Dec 16, and then in Lakewood (not sure what hall) Wednesday, Dec 17.

It would be really nice to meet some of my blog readers so if you decide to come I'd love to meet you!

I'm really excited to be speaking about the book especially to benefit RCCS. They're such an amazing organization that helps so many people, myself included. They were the ones who pushed me to meet Dr. Harris whom I was treated by, and they had advice for us whenever we we needed it. They pay insurance and take care of all those small confusing details for people who are not able to do so themselves, and I think that anyone who is looking for a worthy cause to give to doesn't have to look any further.

I spoke for one of their functions last night and it was a beautiful event- so if hearing me speak is not enough to get you to come, let me bribe you with yummy food, beautiful setup and the greatest hosts/organizers an event can have. Oh! And the prizes are worth putting your tickets in for too!

Added a little later...commentor number 5 just gave another reason for all of you to be there... RCCS will IY"H be showing a stunning slideshow of my SCRAPBOOK!!! So all of you who read about it and wanted to see it- RCCS has it on film together with an interview we did so you get to hear me speak a little on the film while seeing some pages of the scrapbook my mother put together for me when I was undergoing treatment. RCCS put it together- it was their idea, and they included some pictures of me as a kid and of my son JB. I can't believe I forgot to mention that earlier!

Hope to see some of you there!

For more info, visit www.rccsauction.org

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Joey Reynolds Interview

Thanks to MS who introduced me to YouSendIt- I uploaded the audio file of the Joey Reynolds interview show. You can download and listen to it but it will only be available on their site for seven days or for the first 100 downloads.

Listen HERE

Happy Thanksgiving and A Gutten Erev Shabbos!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shidduch Spiel

The other day I came up with a great idea for a post- it's a shidduch spiel based on the twisted questions people ask when it comes to shidduchim.

My sister has a friend who's father is diabetic. Diabetes is kind of a normal accepted thing today and is very liveable in most cases. It means a different diet, being careful, and some insulin. Maybe I'm making it more simple than it really is, but it's out there and people cope with it every day.

My sister's friend's parents kept it a huge secret until one day her father collapsed in shul when her mother was away and no one knew what to do for him. Then the secret came out.

Originally, they kept it quiet because they were afraid that people wouldn't do shidduchim with their kids if they knew that the father had diabetes.

I think that's stupid. I mean, yeah, this stuff can be genetic- but that's all the more reason not to keep it a secret- so that people who get involved with this guy's son should know what they are facing. And even if it weren't genetic, anyone can get this at any time in their life and face it, you gotta live with it. You don't divorce someone because they have a sugar problem.

Unless we're talking about my brother who eats way too much and gets hyper and then sings Tradition on the roof of my parents house.

But anyway, this is the shidduch skit, or at least the outline of it as it came to me in the car the other night. My mother and I were talking about keeping diabetes a secret (we both agreed that diabetes is nothing compared to a sibling who can rinse his mouth with Coke and then go skiing down the basement stairs...) we agreed that in the end everyone dies anyway, so what does it matter as long as you are happy with who you are and the way you have to live your life. (We were on the way home from being menachem aval someone...can you tell?)

Here it is...

MOTHER OF GIRL: Hello, I'm calling to find out some information about a boy you might know. I understand he's your cousin's mechutan's nephew. Fishel Weiss?

INFORMER: Sure, I practically raised the boy. He's the redhead?

MOTHER OF GIRL: No, I heard he's dark.

INFORMER: Oh, sure I knew that. What would you like to know?

MOTHER OF GIRL: Well I was calling to ask, would you by any chance know if there is any history of illness in his family?

INFORMER: His mother's side or his father's?

MOTHER OF GIRL: Both, I guess.

INFORMER: Let's see. Well on his mother's side I know his aunt Betty had Breast cancer and that his Uncle Henry had Hodgkin's and that his Grandpop had an ingrown toenail.

MOTHER OF GIRL: Ingrown toenail?

INFORMER: Oh yes, it was a doozy too. And then on his father's side, there was Grandma Lucy who had Lymphoma and Great Uncle Melvin with Melanoma, and then the cousin with the tumor.

MOTHER OF GIRL: What kind of tumor?

INFORMER: Oh, I don't remember exactly, it was benign anyway, but his cousin made such a fuss that it didn't matter. The whole world plus a few neighbors knew every little detail.

MOTHER OF GIRL: Every little detail? Like what? Because this is very important for me to know of my daughter might one day marry into the family.

INFORMER: Oh, I don't remember all the details, but don't worry, your daughter would fit in so well there! Can she cook for a diabetic?

MOTHER OF GIRL: What does that mean? Why would she need to do that?

INFORMER: Well you see Fishel's mother is diabetic and since his father is suffering from his eighth nervous breakdown she will need someone to look after her once he is put into an institution for good. Someone who knows how to count carbs and sugar and give insulin shots.

MOTHER OF GIRL: Doesn't Fishel have other siblings?

INFORMER: Of course he does! But you know how it is...

MOTHER OF GIRL: No, please, tell me how it is!

INFORMER: His older brother has a heart problem, he has high cholesterol and his blood pressure is through the roof. His wife and his mother are always at each others throats- at least they were ten years ago when they were still talking, and I know that if his mother came to live with him and he had to hear those two fighting, he would for sure drop dead of a heart attack. The first two didn't kill him but the doctor said the third would definitely work where the others had failed.

MOTHER OF GIRL: Heart Attack?

INFORMER: Sure, and then his next sister has thirteen kids, and she's not a coper at all. She's the one you see in the grocery with the screaming kid and the mismatched shoes. But it's really such a nice family and you shouldn't think twice about marrying your daughter in.

MOTHER OF GIRL: But with such family history!

INFORMER: Lady! You mean to tell me you have no family history at all?

MOTHER OF GIRL: (stiffly) My parents are Holocaust survivors and my husband and I are only children. Our parents may they live and be well, are exceptional and my husband and I have taken care to only set a good example and to be the Model Jewish family. We have no history except for that which we created on our own. There is no history before our parents as their entire families have been wiped out. We are our own history and we have no secrets to hide.

INFORMER: Don't worry! The Weiss' have no secrets either! How do you think I know all this stuff??

MOTHER OF GIRL: I'm not sure all this talk of illness in the family is making me feel any better about this shidduch. I don't want my daughter exposed to this, and IY"H one day when she will have children of her own, I dread to think of these awful genes running through their veins.

INFORMER: Ach! Don't let that bother you at all! Genes aren't the things you should worry about. How are his middos?

MOTHER OF GIRL: I don't know, can you tell me anything?

INFORMER: Not off the bat. But you know what they say about redheads...

MOTHER OF GIRL: I thought he was dark?

INFORMER: Right. But you know what they say...

MOTHER OF GIRL: Yes, of course.

INFORMER: But really, don't worry about all the genetic stuff. It won't come through your daughter's kids anyway.

MOTHER OF GIRL: How can you be so sure?

INFORMER: First of all, have you studied genetics? It's like 10% chance he won't be able to have children to begin with.

MOTHER OF GIRL: What?!

INFORMER: Everyone knows that. Nobody has more than a 90% chance of having kids at all- so add him with your daughter's 10% and there's a 20% chance they'll never have kids to pass on those genes to anyway. Then again, if you add his 90% and her 90% there's like a 180% that they will have lots of kids with ingrown toenails and crooked teeth.

MOTHER OF GIRL: Crooked teeth? I didn't know it ran in his family!

INFORMER: Oh, it doesn't! But don't think the whole world forgot what your daughter looked like before she had braces...

MOTHER OF GIRL: !#)@#U%$#@%

INFORMER: But anyway, really, rest assured, there is nothing to worry about from either side of the Weiss family. I know for a fact that Fishel is adopted.

MOTHER OF GIRL: WHAT?!?! ADOPTED? How do you know?

INFORMER: Well it's not every day you see a Schvartze yingel in the Weiss mishpacha...

Monday, November 10, 2008

B-I-N-G-O Spells What?

Overheard:

My husband singing to my son as he tried to feed him a few more spoons of Orzo at supper.

"B-I-N-G-O...B-I-N-G-O...B-I-N-G-O... and Popeye was his name-o!"

I know this isn't really related to the blog, but I couldn't resist running to my computer and getting it down for posterity.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

So Now I Owe You?

I am a little confused today. And yesterday. And the day before too.

You see, Chinese Auction season is coming up in a few weeks and it seems like Tzipi Caton is the hot speaker to bag for the various organizations this year.

Let me preface by saying that I am already B"H booked and taken for the season with the promise of not speaking for anyone else before I speak for the specific organization that got to me first.

I have no objections and understand them completely. No one wants to be stuck with me if I already gave the same speech at ten other fundraisers in the last month. They want me fresh and new and exciting.

But it seems like I was booked early and since the word isn't out yet, I'm still getting calls from different chessed organizations in the community.

*Disclaimer* What you are about to read is exaggerated based on my mood and on how tired I am. Just take with a pinch of happiness and some salt. Which is not to say this didn't happen, just that people aren't as obnoxious as I make them sound on my blog. Well except maybe me...

CALLER: Hi, Tzipi?

ME: (Hesitant) Hi...

CALLER: How are you???? It's Mrs. A, (or B, or C, whatever)

ME: Do I know you?

CALLER: Of course! Don't you remember me? I taught your little sister six years ago. I met you once in the grocery. I was wearing the pantyhose with the run and the sideways turban.

ME: I guess it rings a bell.

CALLER: Well I MUST talk to you about your book.

ME: (wondering how these people manage to get hold of my unlisted number) Okay...

CALLER: Well first of all I loooooovvvved it!

ME: Thank you. (Talking with the phone jammed between my ear and shoulder while struggling to get my kid into the bath.)

CALLER: And I must ask you, were you in any way helped by or affiliated with (insert name of organization she fundraises for here)?

ME: No.

CALLER: Are you sure?

ME: Yes.

CALLER: Because sometimes we help people but they don't even know. We do things behind the scenes through friends and family and even other organizations so the patient doesn't necessarily know we were involved.

ME: If that were the case for me then I would definitely not know so I couldn't give you a "yes" either way.

CALLER: Oh. Because you see, we really would like for you to help us and we were hoping that maybe if you felt an appreciation to our organization for everything that we did for you maybe you would want to....*voice trails off as if waiting for me to offer my services*

ME: (sits quietly, not about to offer anything I am not ready to do.)

CALLER: (after long pause) Well anyway. We heard you speak in public.

ME: Yes, I do.

CALLER: Well we were wondering if you would speak at our upcoming Chinese Auction (or other event planned)

ME: I am already booked with so-and-so but any time after then, as long as you meet my fee I will be more than happy to speak.

CALLER: You wouldn't do it for free?

ME: No.

CALLER: But we are a chessed organization!

ME: So is everyone else who calls me.

CALLER: But it would be such a zechus on your part and you'd be giving so much chizuk to others.

ME: If I wanted zechusim I could be out every night for the rest of my life and three lifetimes plus, but I just can't. I do my chessed in other ways, for me this is parnossoh. And I can give chizuk when I get paid too. I promise.

CALLER: Oh. I just thought that since we did so much for you...

ME: I'm very grateful. But I didn't know that you put a price on the volunteer work you did for me five years ago. Believe me, I am grateful, but if I were to act on my gratefulness in the way that you and every other organization wishes me to, I would very quickly start resenting everything you ever did for me.

CALLER: I don't understand.

ME: Skip it. It's not important.

CALLER: So you'll do it?

ME: If you meet my price.

CALLER: Okay, we'll get back to that. Another thing. I was wondering if maybe you and your husband would donate a prize to our auction.

ME: What?

CALLER: Well it would give people such chizuk to see that a prize was donated by the author of Miracle Ride.

ME: Even if I would donate something it would be under my husband's name- people wouldn't even know we had anything to do with the book- I don't see how that would give anyone chizuk.

CALLER: Aha. I see what you are saying. Would you consider donating something now anyway?

ME: What do you have in mind?

CALLER: Maybe a trip to Eretz Yisroel?

ME: Do you normally ask young couples at our stage in life to donate a trip costing a couple of thousand dollars?

CALLER: Why? Are you not up to it financially? What does your husband do for a living?

ME: I wasn't aware that I had to balance my checkbook with you.

CALLER: Not at all! I just thought that you having been in a matzav to benefit from our help would want to give...

ME: Funny, I would have thought that someone who has once been a young couple themselves would understand where the average kid my age stands financially and would know better than to ask.

CALLER: I just thought that you would want to give.

ME: And I thought you'd understand that I can't just give even if I want to.

CALLER: Will you talk it over with your husband?

ME: (defeated) I will.

CALLER: Will you call me back?

ME: (Wondering how soon I'm allowed to call back with a "no") IY"H.

CALLER: If you don't call me may I call you back?

ME: Of course.

CALLER: Because I wasn't sure if I should, I mean your number is unlisted and I assume that means that you don't want to be bothered.

ME: That's okay. It's never a bother.

CALLER: Oh good! So I will be in touch!

I love all these organizations, and I love Chinese Auction season- don't get me wrong, but I will start appreciating the donors and entertainers at these functions ten times more now that I know what they put up with to get there....

Friday, October 31, 2008

For you Guys in Washington DC, VA and MD!

Just got a request to do an interview with the Awake, Alive, and Jewish radio station this Sunday at around 10:30 am. If you're familiar with the station- tune on in! They sound a lot more excited to have me (and better prepared) than Joey Reynolds.

They also have archives that I'll be able to post here after- I don't think you can hear the show online, but they said they post the archives on their site later and I'll link it here.

Gut Shabbos!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Miracle Sheitel!

This post is my response to the comment of an Anonymous poster who liked the sheitel I was wearing in my pictures below.

LOL thanks anonymous and Mazal Tov! (LOL Are you who I think you are CRF? Then you already know this sheitel! This is the one I wore when I got to know you!)

Let me tell you about my wig and why I am laughing.

This wig is as of this week celebrating its 5th anniversary on my head. I bought it when I first got sick (this is the ACTUAL wig I mentioned in my book) and I wore it day in day out for about four years before getting another weekday sheitel.

Last year I didnt wear it so much because the ends were looking blah, so right around Rosh Hashana time I decided to buy a new wig and throw this one out.

Then I figured that before I bought a new wig and tried a short hairstyle (new for me) on it, I should rather cut up this old one that I wanted to throw out anyway, and test the style on this first.

I didnt feel like spending a lot on a cut for a wig that was probably garbage, so I had a friend who enjoys cutting wigs chop it up for me just for fun.

It came out so awesome and looks so fresh and new, that the money I saved for the new sheitel will just wait another few years!

I still can't believe it when people compliment the wig (even though I know it's a good one) because I was all set and ready to trash it. I wash and blow dry this wig myself, I even dyed it a couple of times in my kitchen sink. I was seriously not afraid of ruining it because I was ready for a new one. Now I wear this one every day and want to cut up my other ones that are looking a little blah.

This is a Global Wig - it costs in the same range as most others out there that the kallahs are getting. It's extremely flat and natural looking (I have two of them- one for Shabbos) and super easy to take care of.

I don't know many people who have Globals, just because most kallahs end up getting what all their friends are getting (ie: Shevy's and Kiki's) but I have been very happy with both of my Globals and I keep getting compliments on them even though one is five and the other is four years old.

I hope Global appreciates the free advertising here...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pics from the Joey Reynolds Show

Still can't get the audio file onto the blog, bear with me. It wasn't anything amazing, but I was glad to do it and see what it's like to be in a real live studio and for the experience. And I give in, there are pics of my face :-) I'm the one in the short sheitel. My sister wanted to tag along and see what it was all about- she's the one with me in most pics. In the picture where I'm not facing the camera you can see Joey Reynolds on the right, half hidden behind his mike.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hear me! Hear me!

The big smash opening for my book is over, but I just landed a spot on the Joey Reynolds show tomorrow night (Or early Wednesday morning as it's after midnight...).

Joey will be hosting a panel about cancer. From what I heard, this show is supposed to be about the positive effects of humor on illness. I have yet to find out who else will be featured (I have yet to find out pretty much everything as they just notified me this morning that I will be coming in to the studio tomorrow night)but it sounds fun.

I mean, if fun for you is staying up to do a show in the wee hours of the morning that's too late for me to listen to on any regular night...

But if you tune in at 1am to 710 am I'll be there schmoozing...

Hope you get to hear me!

http://www.wor710.com/pages/46370.php
http://joeyreynoldsradio.com/Home_Page.html

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Glad Game

I think I discovered the secret to being happy. I haven't worked out all the kinks yet, but really, I think I'm on the way there.

The only stupid part is that PollyAnna figured it out before me. She had the Glad game all set and going before I was even born.

I realized over time that as long as I keep looking for things to be thankful for, I will always feel lucky and happy and special.

When I was in high school my friend Miri and I would play the Kvetch Game. We would take turns kvetching to each other about our lives and the only rule was that we couldn't repeat any of the kvetches.

We used to laugh at how long we were able to keep going, like it was cool how much we had to complain about.

Looking back I think of the stuff we used to kvetch about and I laugh and cringe at the same time. This was before the days that I had cancer and before anything really momumental ever happened to any of us. We had such easy lives compared to so many other people we know and even knew then, but still, we let ourselves wallow in our miseries by turning it into a game.

No wonder we were such attitude ridden kids.

But when I got sick a lot changed.

One of the big things that changed for me was the kvetch game. Miri wouldn't play it with me anymore because I would always win. So I offered to change it, but still she wouldn't play.

Instead, I developed a small ritual. Every night, no matter what time I pulled myself into bed, I said Shema and played the Glad Game. I listed three things I was grateful for. I sorted out my day in my mind, thought about tomorrow, and thanked Hashem for at least three things.

They could have been anything. I could have been thanking for getting the small needle instead of the big one or for getting a blood transfusion or for even making me go down another skirt size.

It didn't matter, as long as I went to sleep feeling thankful for something.

Today people ask me all the time what was the secret to my being so upbeat when things seemed so bad. It's hard to give a real answer because I'm not a special person or anything who can see Hashem's plan in all of this and know that no matter what it all turns out for the best.

For me it was just being thankful. I guess that as long as I went to sleep each night knowing that I had something going for me, how could I wake up really miserablt and upset in the morning?

To give credit where credit is due, I didn't even learn this from PollyAnna. I got this from my 6th grade teacher.

It was the first day of school and she told us all to open our Chumashim to whatever page and hers happened to fall open to the exact page as soon as she turned the cover.

She smiled and said out loud "Thank you Hashem!" and we, being 6th graders, of course, laughed.

She looked at us all in sincerity and asked why we were laughing. Hashem just did her a favor- he spared her from turning pages and making her look flustered in front of us on the first day of class.

Most of us laughed and thought she was a little weird, but for some reason that moment popped into my mind sometime during my illness. I started figuring that she was right. We complain to G-d all the time, but when do we ever tell Him that we are happy? Doesn't he deserve to hear that too?

So later on, when I started this little ritual all to myself late at night, half asleep, it made perfect sense to me, even if I wouldn't neccessarily say it out loud like my teacher did.

And I really think that this is the true way of finding happiness. Being thankful for everything. No one says we can't kvetch too, but I think we have to remember to give thanks along with the list of complaints.

Life is what we make it out to be. We get to choose the way we want to see the world. The unfortunate part is that most people just expect the world to see them a certain way, when really they should be the ones adjusting the tint on their glasses.

The world aint gonna change for you if you won't even change for yourself.

So let's make a change.

I dare everyone who reads this to be happy for three things every night. I DARE you.

To start you off, this is what I was thankful for last night:
1. My KA"H cutie son who was sleeping in the next room.
2. My husband who was snoring in the next bed.
3. The extra chocolate cake in the fridge that I couldn't wait to eat for breakfast.

Your turn!

Monday, October 06, 2008

The fun of Being Me!

Sorry for neglecting the blog recently, but you know how it is... Writer's block I guess....

Well, here's a long overdue post:

I was out with my son the other day and I called him JB. This lady stopped and looked over at me and asked me what I just called my son. I told her I called him JB cos those were his initials.

She asked if my last name was Caton and I looked all confused and told her it wasn't.

She looked so disappointed and walked away.

I guess she didn't know I wrote under a pen name LOL.

That's my fun anecdote.

More later!

G'mar Chasima Tova everyone!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

In My Shoes

Black with a buckle, a dull leather shine
Comfortable tread, these shoes that are mine
Soles worn at the heels, rubbed out at the toes
With me so long, wherever I go

They click as I walk, running, they slide
In bad moods they carry me in good ones they glide
Black with a buckle, pair that I choose
Wear them a while, do a mile in my shoes.

They know my imprint, recognize my shape
Arch lends support on those days not so great
Instep just right, room still to grow
Step after step, with me they go.

Walking the pebbles, the dirt, and the path
Molding to me faithfully, whatever I ask
I shine and polish to keep them like new,
For only they know what it is I go through.

Do you know how it feels, size six and a half?
To be in my shoes when I cry and I laugh?
Each scuff on the toe, the story of all
Every time I trip, each time that I fall

The mileage on this pair has taken me far
Only your shoes can take you where you are.
But if you really want to know me, take a little time
Take off your worn loafers, and walk a mile in mine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reflections, a Letter/Song

REFLECTIONS

Dear World,

I'm just a reflection of what you want to see.
I'm a mirror- I show you an image but not the real me.
Your facial expressions, I copy your actions,
Whatever you do, I am the reaction.

Those labels you give me you think you're perceptive,
But let me tell you, I can be deceptive.
Before you define me as something not quite norm,
Believe that I reflect what you exude on my form.

CHORUS:

I can appear changed in someone else’s eyes,
And what different people see may come as a surprise.
You want to see anger, confusion, and despair?
I keep in mind it’s not me, and I try not to care.

You ask why I keep you guessing and why I don’t just tell
But like a mirror I’m a myth that you need to dispel.
You say mirrors are fickle, they can distort and lie
But mirrors don’t talk, and neither do I


You can keep staring, define me with your gaze.
But you won't get to know me till you travel my maze,
Most people are content to judge but not try,
They are fine with my image staring them in the eye.

How can you be sure when you don't really know?
My personality is within me, outside it won't show.
So when you walked away with whatever you knew,
Know now it's not me, but a reflection of you.

CHORUS:

I can appear changed in someone else’s eyes,
And what different people see may come as a surprise.
You want to see anger, confusion, and despair?
I keep in mind it’s not me, and I try not to care.

You ask why I keep you guessing and why I don’t just tell
But like a mirror I’m a myth that you need to dispel.
You say mirrors are fickle, they can distort and lie
But mirrors don’t talk, and neither do I

But if you had tried to come with an open heart,
I should tell you that I'd also echo that part,
I am a mirror; I reflect what you do,
Extend your friendship and I'll give you mine too.

Stop talking and scheming, for once just don't plan,
Forget my image and get to know who I am.
But who ever looks beyond imperfection?
Until someone does I remain,
Your Reflection.

CHORUS:

I can appear changed in someone else’s eyes,
And what different people see may come as a surprise.
You want to see anger, confusion, and despair?
I keep in mind it’s not me, and I try not to care.

You ask why I keep you guessing and why I don’t just tell
But like a mirror I’m a myth that you need to dispel.
You say mirrors are fickle they play with your mind,
Mirrors don’t talk, but I could try.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Moved in! And Wondering...

You know what I find weird?

Well, lots of things.

But you know what struck me over the last couple of weeks as being strange?

How is it that some people face tremendous challenges with the powerful faith and strength that leave us all speechless, but then can break down when the hairdryer goes bust?

Over the last few months all I've been hearing is feedback about the book. I've heard it all- the good, the bad, the ugly. There are the people who think it's too sad, some that think it's too upbeat, and some that think it's just right.

But what I think everyone agrees with is that the route I took when I was ill was the best one for me. Maybe not for anyone else, but for me, yes.

And another thing most people like to embarrass me with is the part about me being soooo strong and blah di blah and how I had such amazing faith and blah more blah. I say blah, not because it's not nice to hear this, but because there is nothing to answer and because I know from where I get my strength and bitachon. I had lots of people helping me along the way and it was mostly them, not me, getting me through everything.

But ANYWAY. The point is, that whatever the case may be, I've been through the runaround. And not to brag or anything, but I would like to think I came out reasonably stable and okay from everything I have been through.

So what I couldn't wrap my head around last week was why after everything so far, what caused me to really break down in tears, and I mean really wracking, sobbing, cry your heart out tears, was when the locksmith I was using installed a broken buzzer into my new home and then wanted to charge me $200 to have it replaced- five days after he installed it when it never worked to begin with. When I insisted that it had never worked he got all huffy, called me a liar, took his tools and drove away without even saying good-bye or working it out.

And so I sat down on the stairs and bawled. So much so that my son came over to give me a kiss and his pacifier.

Of course, this is kind of a stupid embarrassing story to put on a blog, but I wonder- it seems so weird to me. I've seen this happen to other people and always thought it strange but now it happened to me too.

What makes us weird weird people tick? I wonder.

Anywho! I'm back!!! Any readers still around?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Not in Hibernation...

To answer a commenter's question, I am not in hibernation, don't worry.

I am though in the middle of moving and getting settled into a new place where the internet isn't working yet (neither is the hot water or stove...) but should be up and running within the week.

So bear with me till then!

Hope everyone is fasting well, I'm already counting down until I can have a J&J cappucino...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Amy's Army

I recieved an email asking for help in finding a stem cell transplant for a young girl named Amy. This is not one of those dumb pranks that you get in your emails where they say that Google will donate 5 cents for every person that reads this sob story. Those, by the way, are all fake. Google and Yahoo and Aol and whatever can NOT track who you are sending your emails to and they are not interested. Before you pass on those dumb annoying inbox-cluttering emails, please verify them. You can just go onto Google and search the name of the "sick girl" or the "doctor" and a bunch of sites will come up and tell you that this stuff is all nonesense.



Back to Amy. Amy Katz was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) in 2003. She volunteered to participate in a worldwide study for Gleevac in order to “help other kids..” But, while the drug allows her to lead a somewhat normal life, the only known cure for CML is a stem cell transplant. Although Amy’s whole family has been tested, none of them are a match (although ironically, her two sisters are perfect matches for each other.)

Amy’s Army was founded by friends and family soon after learning about Amy’s diagnosis. They held their first marrow drive in 2004 and had a turnout of over 1,620 people! The second drive drew 500 people in the midst of a Pittsburgh snowstorm! Although the many marrow drives that have been hosted by Amy’s Army have found 22 other donor matches for other patients, none has yet been found for Amy.

The most likely matches for Amy are Jews of Eastern European descent. The Pittsburgh Jewish community has been enthusiastic in their support of the cause, but we are now trying to expand by encouraging national Jewish organizations to host donor drives. Amy’s Army has already hosted donor drives in 12 states and is hoping to increase this number.

Amy’s Army has received a lot of local press coverage. If you are interested in reading the articles you can find them on the website at: http://www.amysarmy.org/press.htm.

For more information you can also visit: www.amysarmy.org.

If people are unable to attend a specific Amy’s Army donor drive, they are still encouraged to register and provide the donor bank with Amy’s CBB tracking number, #Z0020553.

This is as much as I can really write here because most of what anyone needs to know is on her website. If people reading this could maybe forward her website to others, maybe someone who is interested in donating will get to read it and we can make something happen for a girl who needs it.

Tizku L'mitzvos!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Whirpools and Maytags and Kids! Oh My!





I recently found my son and great nephew hanging out together in my sister-in-law's dryer. The laundry had just been taken out and since her hands were full, my sister in law left to put the laundry basket down before coming back to close the dryer door. Of course, by that time, her grandson and my tzaddik were already making themselves at home inside.

After the initial freak out stage, we grabbed our cameras and saved the moment for posterity. It was all very cute.

And then I went to buy a dryer for myself. I wanted a similar one to what my sister in law has and went into the appliance store to check out the features and decide between similar models.

The sales rep there showed us around and when he overheard me fielding a call from my sister (babysitting my munchkin) he said that this specific dryer that we were looking at was great for kids.

Now I don't know about you, but all that comes to mind when I hear "dryer" in the same sentence as "kids" is "IF YOU DON'T GET OUT OF MY DRYER RIGHT THIS SECOND I WILL DO A LOAD WITH YOU IN IT!!!!"

Remember the days of hide and seek?

Well I couldn't imagine that this is what the rep meant, and so I asked.

"Oh," he said happily, "this is the best model for playing hide and go seek in!"

I think I did a double take.

"You see, this was specially built to withstand up to 50lbs of a child's weight so that if yours chose to hide in there it would not break. It even has an easy close from the inside and an air vent so that he can breathe..."

My husband did the double take then.

"Oh yes, and here is a sensor that can feel if there is a child or a pet in the machine and it won't let you do a load if it isn't all right. It will make you check first and open the door before letting you dry the clothes."

Yippee do dah. So because parents were lazy and tired of screaming their kids out of the laundry room all the time, the companies just caved and adapted for hide and go seek.

Not only do they sell this as a safety feature- the fact that it's kid friendly is a selling point for these machines! Wow. Times have changed.

I can't help but get annoyed at the companies- yeah, I know its a safety issue and all and I'm going to buy the machine anyway and take pictures of my son in it whenever he climbs in, but why does our society bend so much to give in to laziness and childish antics?

I see it everywhere these days. I can't complain because I am a part of it all, but I can't help thinking that it's ruining us in a way. When I was growing up there was no such thing as every single kid haveing all the same toys as everyone else in the class and the same $100 backpack and the mandatory iPod for the bas mitzvah present.
What are we subconsciously teaching our next generation? That they deserve it all? That we have to cater to their inability to think for themselves and play by their own rules? We have to make our dryers child proof and give them all permission to play in them?

I know this is kind of taking it out of context, but after spending a few years in the classroom and watching my siblings grow up and thinking about how I'm going to raise my kids and buying new dryers that are rasing my kids for me... It just gets me thinking...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hashem Set that up Years Ago!

In a United States convention of neurologists from all over the world, one of the main topics was the phenomenon of people fainting upon getting up from bed.

One of the speakers was Professor Linda McMaron of Great Britain and she gave a lengthy speech regarding her study on this issue. She elaborated that after many years of study and investigation on this subject, she came to the conclusion that the fainting is caused by the sharp transfer between laying down and standing up.

Professor McMaron said that it takes 12 seconds for the blood to flow from the feet to the brain. But when a person quickly stands up upon waking up, the blood gets 'thrown' to the brain too quickly and the result is fainting. She suggested that each person, even one that does not have a tendency to faint, upon waking up should sit on the bed, and count slowly till 12 to avoid dizziness, weakness, and/or fainting.

Her speech was rewarded with loud applause and enthusiastic feedbacks.

Another Professor, a Jewish religious man, asked permission to speak.

He said: "By us, the Jews, there is an old tradition, thousands of years old, to say a prayer of thanks to the Creator of the World for meriting us to wake up healthy and whole. The prayer is said immediately upon waking up, while one is still on the bed and sitting down. There are 12 words in this prayer and if one regulates himself to say it slowly with concentration, it takes exactly 12 seconds to says it... 12 words in 12 seconds.

He said the prayer slowly in Hebrew:
Mode Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai VeKayam, Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati Bechemla Raba Emunatecha
“I thank Thee, O living and eternal King, because Thou hast graciously restored my soul to me; great is Thy faithfulness.”

The auditorium burst into a standing applause that roared throughout the auditorium. This time, it was for the Creator of the World.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Now Eye Know

On the first day of school in third grade two of my best friends came in wearing glasses. I decided then that I needed glasses too. Of course, even with excessive squinting and horribly misreading signs, my mother wasn't convinced that I needed a prescription.

So I began to read in the dark, stopped eating carrots, and did whatever I could to ruin my eyesight enough to need glasses.

I finally got them the day before school started in sixth grade.

I have hated them ever since.

Almost as soon as I got my first pair of frames they were out of style. Because my insurance didn't cover them, I couldn't get new ones until they broke in the summer before eighth grade. When I got new ones I decided they were dead ugly and when I lost them a month later my mother thought it was done on purpose. I walked around half blind for almost a year until my mother was finally convinced that I really didn't know where my glasses were.

My memories of eighth grade all have a blurry quality... as if I was walking through that year not really seeing what was going on around me...

Of course I found those ugly glasses (Pesach cleaning) the week before my appointment with the eye doctor and when I showed them to my mother she finally agreed that they were as ugly as I insisted they were.

And then I finally got contact lenses!!! For the next six years no one even knew I had ugly glasses because they never saw me in them.

And then I had chemo and I had to stop wearing my lenses because my eyes were sensitive to them. I started a search to find special lenses that my eyes could deal with and finally ended up wearing Acuvue2 like everyone else in the world.

And then I had my baby and after many many many sleepless nights my eyes just wouldn't cooperate with my percious contacts on a day to day basis. And so I went out and bought a new pair of cool frames.

Of course, walking into class this past September, I found that I was wearing the same pair of cool frames as half of my students.

Luckily, JB began sleeping through the night right about then and it was back to my lenses most of the time.

But then I noticed I had a problem seeing certain things. I saw everything around me just fine but for some reason couldn't read street signs until they were right above me. I missed way too many turns on Ocean Parkway before I realized I should check it out.

Mind you, I was determined to check this out almost a year ago, but just got around to it now...

My oncologist told me to check out the possibility of cataracts because it was a side effect of one of the chemos. My father had just finished cataract surgery that week even though he was still too young to have them, and I decided right then that I must also have cataracts.

My eye doctor checked my eyes and found nothing wrong with me and so I made an appointment with an Opthamologist. I was getting all excited thinking about how I was going to have cataract surgery and then never need to wear glasses again.

I reminisced about the times I read with a flashlight under the covers and squinted on purpose and promised that if my kids ever asked for glasses I'd give them a pair of empty frames like my grandmother wears just to look good so that they shouldn't have to ruin their eyesight for it. That way when they decide they're as sick of glasses as I am they can forget about them and never have to live with the curse of a real prescription.

I was getting all emotional about getting my vision back and starting over when I booked my appointment.

I had my appointment last week. The doctor looked at my eyes and said that even though I had a white cloudy spot in one of them it meant nothing much and he wasn't going to touch it now.

When I asked him what I could do to correct whatever was wrong with my vision he laughed and said I should find a new doctor because my other one didn't know what he was talking about. Within five minutes he had me written up for a newer higher prescription and I walked home from his office wearing those huge offensive ugly sunglasses feeling like an idiot.

Hypochondriac that I am, and all I need is yet another new pair of glasses.

So I'm off to fix my prescription (which did I mention hasn't been updated in 5 years?) and I hope this will be the last episode in the saga of my eye wear until I'm ready to do Lasik...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Practice Makes Progress

Not the type of thing that's really related to the blog, but the newest poem off my press and couldn't wait to share!

My pencil pressed hard on that paper with lines,
As I practiced my script in a writing so fine.
My teacher gave stars to the work that was best,
“Practice makes perfect” she said to the rest.

My little tongue poked out as I rounded a letter.
Knowing this time it was sure to be better.
I waited for approval as teacher checked my swirls,
And finally got a sticker like the other girls.

But even with the shiny star I got at the end,
I knew my script couldn’t compare to that of my friend.
I really tried my best and I knew that I did good,
But others always seemed to do better than I could.

All through the years perfection was the dream
And I practiced all the time so I could see what it would mean
But somehow even when I pulled out all the stops,
Perfection was out of reach- somewhere at the top.

It got me down as I grew to understand
That I was never going to attain the goal I had at hand.
Perfection was unreachable, it got me really blue.
“Practice makes perfect” just didn’t ring true.

And then one day it hit me, it was sparkling clear,
Perfection wasn’t the reason that I was put down here.
If Hashem wanted perfect he wouldn’t have created me,
He just wanted the best- the best that I could be.

It didn’t stop my practicing; I just set different heights,
And I didn’t want perfection to ever cloud my sight.
Now my dreams of perfect; I dismissed ‘em,
“Practice make progress” was what I put into my system

No one here is perfect, it’s an unattainable score
But we can progress in life and grow a little more.
Life is all about changing, learning, and growing,
And those that think “perfect” are not all- knowing.

I think we can never stop learning and practicing to fly,
Because we are only here as long as we try.
We exist to work on and better our souls,
Progress, not perfect is the name of our goal.

Today when I see my kids keeping up with demands,
I take their little chins and lift them in my hands.
And tell them “Practice makes progress” that’s all you need to know,
Hashem is very happy just to see you grow!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fair's Fair

This poem was sent to me by a 12 year old girl who goes by the name TaliHotTamale. I thought it was beautiful and wanted to share it with everyone. The nicest part about having this blog and the book is getting feedback and learning how awesome other people can be.

Teacher said that life ain't fair,
Mommy said so too.
But what I’d really like to know, what I wonder is if it’s really true.
If you get a cookie instead of me, do I have right to cry and say,
Life ain't fair?
If I fall down out of carelessness do I have right to scream and say,
Life ain't fair?
If you are funnier, smarter, or nicer than me do I have right to whine and say,
Life ain't fair?
If I get sick one day instead of you does that give me the right to groan that,
Life ain't fair?
For the King of all Kings sits on His throne on judgment day and looks down in His book
And if He thinks you should be He’ll let you off the hook.
But if that’s not the case and we don’t deserve to swim away,
Do we have the right to go and cry and then complain?
For our Father in Heaven only does what’s best, and never Judges unfairly while he throws at us those tests.
So are Mommy, teacher, and the rest right to say that life ain't fair?
I don’t think so.
In my eyes there couldn't be anything fairer.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

To Teachers

This song was sent to me by Freeda Goldman. She wrote it for a teacher who helped her through a hard time.

(to:shema [shwekey])

I leave the classroom, "thanks goodbye",
see the worry in your eyes
you can't approach,
is there what to say..
with a heart locked up in a wall of stone
to cover up the stress at home
here I sit in your class each day..

In the shadows, I sit in back
Life's confusing
So much looks black
Yet some people linger
They show me a kind face
Help me out, wrap me in an embrace....

(chorus) you watch,
don't know what to do...
know that I also
am confused too
I long to learn, to participate,
just know that it's not your class I hate
Teacher it's all right,
It's not about you

I wait for these times to pass
So I can reapply myself to the tasks
Of a normal student with a normal home...
I travel far in my mind
To find a place where all is kind
Perhaps there I won't feel so alone

My heart will warm,
And melt the cold
"all is well" I'll finally be told
"Hashem above" I cry out
"Please help me get through
Only You can help me, only You"

(chorus) you watch,
don't know what to do...
know that I also
am confused too
I long to learn, to participate,
just know that it's not your class I hate
Teacher, it's all right,
It's not about you

So from afar, you watch me
This is the way, it has to be
but don't worry,
I know you're there
It means a lot for me to know
You care about me and so
Please overlook my behavior and blank stares

My heart will warm,
And melt the cold
"all is well" I'll finally be told
Teacher, please understand,
I feel torn in two
I can't but want, to listen to you....

(chorus)you watch,
don't know what to do...
know that I also
am confused too
I long to learn, to participate,
just know that it's not your class I hate
Teacher it's all right,
It's not about you

Thursday, July 03, 2008

First Aid for Men

Dedicated to my dear husband who makes sure I take my vitamins but will never swallow a Tylenol.

When it comes to boo-boos, every man thinks he’s real tough,
“First Aid? Pshaw! That’s just baby stuff!”
A man may be feeling deathly sick and ill,
But you’ll never see a “real man” taking any pills!

Hallmark cards are silly; men don’t read ‘em,
And doctors?Ha! Who needs them?
‘Cos every man is just like you,
Thinks he’s Bob the Builder too!

You’d think men run on batteries the way they keep on going,
And pain? They’ll do everything to keep us from knowing!
And it’s only when they feel like being really nice,
That they’ll “do you a favor” and use some ice.

See, when they are hurt they don’t need no help.
They can find their own way to the “fix it” shelf.
They don’t see why stitches should do the trick,
When Crazy Glue can also make a cut stick.

Between paper clips, rubber bands, and colorful tacks,
Men have their own way of getting on track.
Hammers and screwdrivers, nails, and glue,
They accomplish everything a doctor can do!

“Don’t worry,” “I’m fine,” and “It’s really okay”
Are typical phrases you’ll hear them say.
‘Cos they’re sure they can fix anything, after all, in the end,
There’s a reason why Duct Tape is a man’s best friend!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Don't Judge Me (please)

You talk down to my heart, my pride,
You challenge my journeys and my ride
You put down my success and joy,
All for your own selfish ploys.

You think you have a right to judge me,
Just because you can’t begrudge me,
The happiness I stand to gain,
While you’re still riding on your train.

You think you have a right to this,
To smack down my smiles and bliss,
You say you know me but you don’t,
You only see me through what I wrote.

You haven’t been through thick and thin,
You have no idea what shape I’m in,
You weren’t with me through the sludge,
I don’t think you have a right to judge.

Say what you will, I can’t care now,
I know I’m here and I know how,
You had nothing to do with who I am,
And so I’ll ignore what you say as you talk to the hand.

I know it’s not over; you’re not the only one,
There’ll be many more of this until it’s done,
But for right now I am not ready to budge,
Say what you will, but please don’t judge.

It might be jealousy; it might be for real,
But scars you cause are hard to heal,
Who are you to shout out loud?
What have you done that makes you proud?

When you stand with and hold my hand
Then if you want to judge I’ll understand,
But until I say you have an in,
I only answer to myself and Him.

Monday, June 30, 2008

What's Within

"What lies before us and what is behind are tiny compared to what is within us."

Today I went back to Hackensack for a routine checkup. I go back about twice a year and usually to a different "post cancer" office building. Today it just so happened that my appointment was back at the clinic where I took chemo almost five years ago.

I haven't been inside the clinic in at least two and a half years and it was really strange to be back there again. It felt so familiar, like my second home, but then it felt like I was an outsider now. I didn't recognize a single patient there. All the ones I knew have finished up and are out of there a long time already.

The doctors and nurses were busy tickling and entertaining JB who was there for the first time, and I was signing copies of my book that I had brought along to give out.

I felt a little out of place talking about my book in a room full of kids who were so sick and seemed to have it so much worse than I did back then, but then the phrase at the start of this post caught my eye.

It was framed on the wall above the secretary's desk and I thought it was so beautiful. It made me feel so at peace with my illness and how long or short or hard or easy it may have been compared to others.

I realized it's not about comparing. Hashem doesn't compare. He gives us all different lives to lead, and different strengths to deal with our different struggles. Hashem doesn't look at us and compare our nisyonos with others', He knows what He has given each of us and expects us to use what He gave us to live with it.

He won't ask me after 120 why I didn't deal with my illness the way Leah'le did, or why I wrote a book about it when Michal kept quiet. All He will want to know was if I used the tools he supplied me with in the best possible way that I could.

He won't ask me about the details in my life, He will already know them as He is the one who maps out those details. He will only want to hear about what was within me. What I used from my own resources to navigate the road he chose to be my path in life.

So when I left my hospital today after a short checkup and a long visit, I left reassured that no matter who may compare me and judge me and criticize, the only two answers I need to give are to Hashem and to myself.

I am growing and learning and changing every day and there is no possible way for me to answer something now that will have to last for eternity, but I can say that I am happy with where I stand right now.

I didn't write this book for me, I wrote it for others. I know what role cancer has held in my life and now I hope that others can take hope and inspiration from my story, whether they like the book or not.

My book comes from that which is within me- my writing was a tool that G-d gave me to use in my personal life struggles and I know that people can say all they want about where I have come from and how far I have gone, but no one can judge me about what is within. That is between me and my creator.

I'm proud that I was able to work my outside experiences into something I was able to internalize. It doesn't matter to me anymore that my illness was maybe a little shorter than someone else's or that my story had a nice ending, what matters is how I dealt with it. I took a look within today, and I guess you can say I like what I saw.

And now I just took a look in the mirror and discovered that my head is once again bloated.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Looks Like we Made It!

Now I'm starting to feel like this is all real.

I got an email to my inbox from Aish.com and it was a link to their new articles this week, Guess what was headlining??? Mine!!

I was asked to write an article for them and so I did and Gavriel Sanders polished it a little (okay, a lot) for me and today it hit the site! I'm so exctied.

Plus, my mother woke me up this morning to tell me that my book was listed as number one seller of the month in the Country Yossi magazine.

Talk about dreams come true!!

*Hugging myself with joy with right hand, left hand is trying to squeeze my head into before-ego size...- hands too tied up to write more!*

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Doctors don't know Everything

Doctors think they know everything. I used to think so too.

If the doctor told me to drink toilet water and smear toothpaste on my hair because it would help my vocal chords, I would listen blindly. I used to think that if the doctor went through x amount of years in medical school and made it here, it must be that he knew what he was talking about.

Of course, that was before I found out that they were passing by using Google and then getting drunk every night in the local bar...

Then I started seeing things happen that the doctors themselves couldn't explain. Kids who lived through "fatal" tumors, and kids who died from
"minor surgery."

I proved my heart could withstand pregnancy after chemo without a single drop in performance, and that my lungs went through each round of chemo without losing even a decimal of its former ability.

Kids like me were told the facts before we even started and some of us went and turned those facts into myths, right in front of our doctors' eyes.

I feel like slapping the kid who called me up crying that she only had a 90% chance of ever having kids- the same chance as almost anyone who never went through chemo anyway, and feel like bursting her eardrums with the stories of patients I knew who shocked the world with a baby after being declared 95% infertile.

I would never go to a doctor who said he didn't know anything, but then again, I would never go to a doctor who claimed to know everything. My doctor always impressed on me that he was Hashem's shaliach and that he was obligated to tell me what it said in the textbooks, but that he knew that nothing had to be true if Hashem didn't want it to be.

I still think doctors know a lot, but now I know they don't know everything. (Especially after the toothpaste and toilet water regimen...and yes I'm joking about that one! *rolls eyes*)

***Just as an addition, I was at the doctor for a random checkup today (a few days after the original post) and I had a funny rash he wasn't sure what to do with. My husband suggested a cream he had used on a similar rash. The doctor had never heard of this medication and so right in front of us he took out his blackberry and Googled it. He found out what the cream was made of and found that it would serve my rash very well indeed. I was so impressed that he listened to my husband's suggestion when he could have easily insisted that he was the doctor and that he knew what he was talking about...***

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Deal With My Name

Okay, here's the post you all deserve.

What's the deal with my pen name?

Well.... Long story, let's start at the top.

To begin with this was an anonymous blog just because I was trying to protect my family and the names of all the people I associated with at the time of my illness. I had to respect everyone's privacy, and even though my story was very recognizable to those people who know me, I had to keep it on the low for those that didn't.

I also wanted to keep it identity free because of all the readers who were reading this while trying to keep their illness a secret. For them, seeing that someone they might have known wrote this blog might make them afraid of reading it. I once had a reader email me to the blog addy and beg me not to tell anyone that she had read my blog. She thought I could tell who visited my site just by running it. She emailed me in a panic when she realized who I was and begged me not to tell anyone we knew. I know it sounds weird, but there are people out there who honestly know nothing about computers... and about how keeping cancer a secret (doesn't) work.

And then the idea came up for making this into a book. I was all for it, but I didn't want my name on it for a few reasons. One, I didn't want my students coming into class next year and on the first day waving the book in my face and asking if I was the bald kid who sassed her teachers.

Second- I didn't want to walk into a shop, hand over my credit card and have my name recognized. I can only imagine buying some clothing for my JB and having the salesclerk lean over and say "OMG EVERYONE!!! THIS IS JB!!! HE'S THE BOY WHO WAS BORN AFTER CANCER!!! THE ONE WHO LIVED AFTER HIS MOTHER FACED "THE DISEASE THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED!! LET'S RAKE OUR EYES OVER HIS FOREHEAD AND SEE IF WE CAN SPOT HIS LIGHTENING SHAPED SCAR!!" Yeah, I don't think so.

I also didn't feel right having my name on the cover of a book. I like attention, but I know when it becomes an ayin hara. It's one thing if I had written a fiction novel, it's another when the book is about my true life story and fairy tale ending for all to yenta about.

And then my book became more than a book. It's becoming a movement. People are asking me to speak all over the place and obviously, that means I'm not just Tzipi Caton, I have a real identity too.

I still chose to stick with Tzipi- (well by that time the book was already in print and I had no choice) but I had another reason for doing so. I have no problem getting on stage and introducing myself with my real name- and then explaining why I have a pen name.

This is why.

As much humor as there is throughout my book, cancer is a big deal. A scary, terrifying, nightmare of a thing to go through. I did it. I went through it, wrote a book on it, and hopefully gave and will continue to give a lot of chizuk with my story. Veni, Vidi, Vici.

But the fact remains that it is a very hard thing to live with every day. My trademark phrase is "That was then. I am now." Let the world associate the name Tzipi Caton with the kid who laughed through cancer. My name should not be stuck to that part of my past all the time- I want my name to just be me. The ME who is living life today, happy and healthy.

I always say that cancer has changed who I am as a person but has not defined me. I know that very clearly, but it's hard for others understand. I don't want to give them the permission to label me forever as that cancer person. I was, and I still have times that I am, but as a general rule, my life today does not scream "I WAS ONCE SICK!"

Even now that my book is out and some people have put two and two together and realized it was me, I am getting swamped with calls begging me to mentor this kid or that one who is going through treatment. This may sound so selfish, but I have a life, and a great one at that, and I can't invest my energy into developing close personal relationships with kids in tough times. It will kill my spirit as well as sap all my kochos. I wrote my book to help as many people as I can, but I know my strengths. My best tools are my writing and speaking. NOT my personal phone calls and the stresses of keeping tabs on a million kids on chemo.

I know this may be shocking to people out there, but I am not the expert on cancer. Far from it. I just touched the tip of the iceberg with my round. Yes, I chose to write about it and give the world a peek into what life forms on other planets are like, but that does not mean I have all the answers or that I would make a good mentor to others.

I have a family member who totally gives me that fish-eye every time she hears I got another speaking arrangement. She also went through treatment for another type of cancer and she thinks I know nothing because I didn't have the same symptoms as she did. Well Duh, She and I had two different diseases and took different chemos. I cannot speak for her pain as she cannot speak for mine.

I am involved and I do mentor the odd kid here or there, but it's proving to be a huge strain on me. I would rather keep my lives separate, my names separate, so that I can have the kochos I need to give strength to others and then forget about it all when I need to be a wife and a Mommy.

I hope this all made sense to you because it's all a little garbled in my mind right now- I am exceptionally tired right now as I had four phone calls just today from people I don't know who asked me to talk to people I don't know either to give them emunah from I don't know where. I am slightly annoyed that people don't respect my privacy and the decision I made by putting Tzipi Caton on the book instead of my real name, and that they still went and tracked down my unlisted number which is that way for a reason.

Oh well, can't win em all. :-)

Now, for those of you still following my kvetch rant for today- if you have been reading my blog long enough and still haven't figured out who I am, then why do you think that if I tell you my name it will mean anything more to you than Tzipi Caton does?

And my face? I blocked it off for tzniyus reasons... :-P

Mwhahahahahaha!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To Speak or not to Speak...That is the Question

Have a little debate going on in my head. Well not so much my head as between my husband and I and now on the blog.

My husband is not very happy with this whole publicity thing around my book. He is really excited with the book and the fact that I'm an author but he's afraid of all the speaking arrangements and the public appearances.

He claims that even though I'm passing myself off as a young spunky stinker kid of speaker, the fact that I will get up in front of dinner crowds and speak in public will automatically cause people to expect more of me as a person. He thinks that I will be forced to change some aspects of my life to fit a certain image that people will have of me from now on.

I keep saying that it isnt true and that even as a speaker I'm not hiding who I am, but he insists that now if I walk out in a badanna or a slinky skirt, or take my son to the beach, people might look down on me, sort of expecting more.

So that's our disagreement. I wonder if he has a point. I'm sure some aspect of it is right- people are going to view me differently, they already are. But I wonder if I will really have to change my lifestyle for it and if I dont, will it have a negative affect.

It's not like I don't practice what I preach- and it's not like I'm speaking about Torah topics that turn me into a rebbetzin- I just talk about what I know- Cancer and my experience.

Does he have a valid point? Do I have to start watching my back from now on and start dressing my kid in only Jacadi outfits to stop people from avoiding my speeches because my kid only wears Old Navy?

Opinions please!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ego Boost!

Having so much fun being Tzipi Caton...

I just walked into a local bookstore to buy a book for a student of mine and I noticed a beautiful display of Miracle Ride on the shelf.

JB was with me and he pointed at the bright butterfly which I took to mean he recognized Mommy's book. But then again, he also yelled "Pamper!" when he pointed at a stack of yarmulkas...

I couldn't find the book I was looking for and so I asked the lady behind the counter if she had it in stock. Turned out she didn't. She didn't have the other, backup book I wanted either.

Dreading the thought of leaving the cool bookstore to face the heat outside, I stalled for time.

"That book," I said pointing over at mine, "is it a good seller?"

She looked over the counter to where I was pointing and she starting raving about how she had just finished it and that it was a great book and that it so far was a good seller even though it was pretty new.

I asked her if she got any regards on the book and she shrugged and said that it was selling well but that it was still new. She asked if I read it.

I grinned and told her I wrote it.

Without even asking for ID as confirmation, she grabbed six books and asked me to sign them for her kids.

Mwahahah. Even the heat was okay after that ego boost.

Okay, time to deflate my head...

Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm Still a Stinker!

Wow, my life is getting weird.

People are calling me up and asking me to speak in schools and stuff. Some people are talking to me like I'm some rebbetzin or like I'm the authority on all things cancer.

It's so strange to me because even my mother is talking about me to her friends like I'm just some angel she rasied by mistake. Ma!! Wake up!! Remember the time I tanned with star stickers on my cheek?!

I feel like slapping people and telling them that I didn't change- only their perception of me has. I'm still a little stinker- I was alaways this amazing person deep down inside, but now I wrote a book about it so they all know it.

Why did my husband actually listen to me and stop on the way home for the milshake I wanted? I guess fame and fortune have its merits...but oh, it feels sooooo strange!

The only one who hasn't been affected by my new status is my son, he proceeded to empty the tissue box an hour before Shabbos and climb into my cabinets Friday morning.

I am totally loving the ride I'm taking with Miracle Ride, but whoa, can I snap out of it when I want my old life back for a bit??

Please??

Just kidding... But still, it does feel weird.

Does being an author mean I'm not a stinker no more?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Signing

Well here's my late post about the book signing last week.

It was awesome!

I was so nervous before it started that no one would show up and that my book was going to be a dud, but then at 6:30, people started pouring into Eichler's.

There were lots of people I knew, and many more that I didn't, and some just walked in when they saw the crowd in the store and others came because they heard me on the radio.

At the end of the night I signed 150 copies- a total record!! My hand was suffering from writer's cramp the whole weekend.

It was so great to meet some of my fans and other bloggers, and to see how many people were excited to get the book.

I got a call from my publicist- Gavriel Sanders, this Friday. He called to tell me that we needed to fix as many typos as possible in the next hour because the book was going into a second printing before Shavuous. In the first three days my book sold 3800 copies of the 5000 printed and they were rushing to get more on the shelves!

Thank you to whomever out there bought this book!!!! I feel so cool!

The book signing ended at ten- two hours after it was supposed to, and it left me on a high!

My students came too, and three of them bought me a helium balloon with a little teddy bear at the bottom- they said that they wanted to get me a HUGE white bear that cost $80 but after reading excerpts from my book all year, they sort of figured I wouldn't be too thrilled. (For those of you who read the book, you know what I mean!)

They are so cute!!

When I came to class on Thursday- 95% of my kids had Miracle Ride on their desks. I think it became a new textbook in my school.... I took a picture of them all reading it- I'll put it up here later.

So now that school is ending and I have summer open, people are starting to ask me to come speak for them. I'm speaking in a girl's school this Friday and then in New Jersey in a week. I'm getting stage fright already, but I'm so excited!!

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Some Reviews...

wow, the book came today. while waiting for the cheesecake to cool i started to read... i'm nearly done - i had to force myself to stop reading so i'll have SOMETHING for Shabbos!!!!

G'shabbos,
Stam



I just finished reading your book. I ordered it online (since all the stores I went to in Monsey didn't have it yet), and I sat down to read it the minute I got it. Its amazing! A real source of inspiration. I really have to thank you for all the chizuk you put in there. I really enjoyed your book. I cried on one page and laughed the by the next. I hope your part on shidduchim for people who aren't the typical because they have gone through something... will help to change the way people think and act.

Thank you!

Miriam


Dear Tzipi's Mom,

I dont know where to begin...

First of all, thanks for the most beautiful gift,
My intent was to save it for Shabbos, after all I havnt been home at a
decent hour for over a month, so I couldnt indulge in a good book,
However, I couldnt resist and I just peeked in...

Well of course I couldnt put it down,

I cried and laughed and cried some more, I didnt know that a human has the
capacity to laugh and cry so intensely at the same moment, not the laugh so
hard till you cry kind of combination, but the real tears of emotion from
the pain and the hysterically humorous wit...
Well your girl is something special!!!!

Every part of the ride touched me all over again. Your strength throughout
the ordeal and the ability to document it, photograph it, laugh about it and
run your household through it all continues to amaze me.

I have lots more to say, but the sun is rising, and I'm scared my husband will
catch me still up

SO I will end with wishing you much nachas from your daughter, her husband, and JB (is that his real name?) and much much nachas from the rest of your mishpacha.

May this book inspire and encourage Klal Yisroel, and may this disease and
all sickness be eradicated from our people.

See you later, I"yH

Privileged to know such amazing people.

Esther


I just wanted to let u know that I skimmed the book yesterday (especially the last few chapters) cause I remembered part of the story from when it happened and it’s great! It’s such an easy read, I read much more than I meant to (being that I was in middle of giving my son a bottle at 12:45am). My husband was actually reading it too, and he really liked the Jewish Santa part. I’ll let u know when I finish it.

Book Signing Pics!

Will post on how it was last night when I get back from my day job...





Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Half my Nerves Gone

Half of my nerves for today are taken care of! Just done the Nachum Segal interview and I had so much fun! He was so funny and easy to talk to. The archives should be up later so I'll post a link to them soon.

Mr. Segal actually called me after to tell me that he was so unexpectedly surprised that I was from Boro Park and yet so worldly. I told him that he got me and that I was really an alien invader from another galaxy just posing as a chassidish kid from Brooklyn. Mwahahahaha!

I must thank two blogs, Serandez and BadforShidduchim, for posting about my upcoming book signing this evening. I hope news of the book has gone out to a large audience and that we will totally bowl ArtSroll over with the demand for the book.

We must show the world out there that there is a huge need for literature on this topic and literature that can be spunky and humorous and honest. This is really just about me making more money off it, but seriously, be there. The cancer community wants to come out of hiding and the only way it's going to happen is if there is a really positive response to Miracle Ride.

So far I got really good feedback from the people who have already read the book (it was put on shelves yesterday) and people are still calling to tell me about it. I hope that tonight Eichler's sells out of the 250 books they have in stock for the signing.

Hope to see you all there!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Legally Me



So this is what being 21 is like....

I hosted the Friday night meal here in my tiny matchbox apartment for my family -15 people in total- l'kavod the book and my birthday. It was lots of fun and all order was kept at the expense of my sanity. Just joking mother- please come again! The ice cream cake was heavenly, (thanks to Sprinkles of Boro Park) and you have half a tray of leftovers in my freezer....

The next part of becoming 21 was getting stuck in that splendid display of thunder and lightening we had this morning- oh yes, and also the rain. My little JB refused to take the stroller today so we were both caught in the rain and soaked, him in his new outfit and shoes and me in my freshly washed sheitel that was supposed to make me look good for Wednesdays' signing. But JB had so much fun splashing in the puddles that I stripped him down to his striped undershirt and let him live and enjoy his toddler hood...until we got back home...

Then came the presents. The presents that remind me that I am no longer a teenager, but a (young) woman about to take on life... and allowed to legally drink...okay, well Vitamin Water is the most I drink, but its nice to know I can if I wanted to.

Soon comes my new diver's license in the mail- to replace the one I've been hiding away in my wallet for three years because it has "UNDER 21" printed right near that ugly picture of me.

Also comes the excitement of having published my own book, and the nervousness about putting it out there and becoming a voice representing people in my situation. I never meant to be anything but an author, but this year, being 21, might teach me a few things I might not yet know about myself.

Along with my new age comes the honor and challenge of standing behind my upcoming book- the honor to acknowledge the praise and the challenge of facing opposition from those who think I am too young and naive and too nervy to have a real opinion on life.

Turning 21 is a big deal for me, it means that I have 21 years of experience behind me, with 21 years worth of friends and family and blog readers along with me, and the world at large recognizing me as an adult. Now the last part of being 21 is to recognize myself that way and know that I am ready for whatever my 22nd year will bring me.

Can I be 21 and still be a little stinker?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Starting Something Big

Okay cyber-readers, I need your help.

With all the publicity that I'm trying to do for my book, I got a very unexpected call from a good friend of my father's.

This is man who lost a son to cancer years ago, and feels strongly about my book getting out there to help other patients laugh and see the brighter side of things.

He offered to buy $500 worth of books to be given to patients, and then he said that if ArtScroll would offer him a discount he'd give another hundred. ArtScroll said they'd definitely do a discount for people wanting to donate books.

Another pal of my fathers loved the idea and also pledged $100.

Now we're all thinking about spreading the word and trying to raise money to get my book out to hospitals and to Jewish patients and their families free of charge. It does mean money though.

We are trying to raise (for starters) like $1200 which will give us about 80 books to work with. 80 books doesnt sound like an awful lot, but having been on the other side, I will tell you that if someone had given me a humorous book about my situation when I was sick, it would have meant the world.

We are hoping my book will mean the world to 80 patients out there- maybe more.

Will anyone care to join the quest?