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Archive for May, 2012

L’chaim

David Bailey|dreamstime.com

Singing with the choir on a Sunday morning, we plodded through I Will Sing of My Redeemer as if it were a dirge. I felt the weight of the cruel cross on my back as we sang.  Then a chorister reminded us that the song was supposed to be sung Energetically. Lightening our hearts, picking up the pace and focusing on the outcome of Christ’s sacrifice, we sang of His wondrous love and being made free. Oh, the joy!

In a couple of weeks I’m heading for Eastern Europe on a Rick Steves tour. Why Eastern Europe, people ask me?  To blog in a café by the Charles Bridge will be a fantasy fulfilled. But also on my itinerary is something I never wanted to see—Auschwitz. Does my discovery that I have Jewish heritage change my reticence? Not really. However, reading the review of a three volume tome, The Jews in Poland and Russia by Antony Polonsky, has given me added focus for this trip.

Polonsky reminds us that memory is about what we choose to record. The Jews have an eastern European history and Eastern Europe has a Jewish history that is vivid, deep and rich.  To feel only the weight of the Holocaust does my ancestors, the Wolffs, a disservice. I will reach out to this unexplored corner of my history by paying attention to the cultural history in the Jewish quarters I will be visiting.

Joy was meant to play a central role in Jewish life—feasting, singing, the love of family and friends.  The writer of Deuteronomy 30:19 exhorts us: Choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! To truly live takes the kind of energy that Marty Parks infused into his arrangement of the Philip B. Bliss hymn.

L’chaim!

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Nana

I am now the matriarch; the moral compass.  It’s a position of leadership and responsibility I can embrace or abdicate, but what does it mean?

In my Universal Dictionary of the English Language (1938), passed down to me by family on my mother’s side, matriarch is given a sentence and patriarch a whole paragraph.  A matriarch is the wife of a patriarch with corresponding status.  A patriarch is the head of a family, clan or tribe who rules by paternal right; a venerable old man, the senior member of a society or community.

A Google search turns up this definition of matriarch: a woman who rules or dominates a family, group, or state; specifically: a mother who is head and ruler of her family and descendants.

It’s interesting that the word dominate shows up in the more modern definition of a matriarch and the concept of partnership gets dropped. Wikipedia offers the view that associating the word domination with matriarchy is a patriarchal attempt to condition society to reject the concept of matriarchy.

Pshaw, I say. I prefer the definition that describes a partnership where mom and dad each have something to say based on their seniority. They probably say the same thing, only differently. Deciding what to say how and to say it is the challenge. Here are three guidelines. (more…)

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Going to Twitter is like moving to the big city and starting a new high school. Will the kids like me? Do I have enough friends? Did I choose the right group? If you are a small town girl with big town aspirations it can be overwhelming.  Everyone knows so much more than I do. How will I ever get noticed?

I recently had a conversation with a high school girlfriend  I’m traveling to Eastern Europe with this summer. She started our high school in her senior year. Sipping wine on her spacious deck overlooking Laguna Hills we reminisced about our connection. She said:

 

You all had known each other since kindergarten;I honestly don’t remember why we became friends.

I remember. (more…)

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Detroit Institute of Arts

I am holding a 3 am wake for the deceased day when the shadowy muse darts past a distant door. It occurs to me that I should give more thought to entertaining her.

In the classical sense, a muse embodies the arts and inspires their creation. As she passes by, she may float a memory that wants flesh or whisper a prompt for our improvisation.  The muse is grace personified.

The traditional muses had monikers, genres and logos. For example, the muse known as Polyhymnia specialized in sacred poetry, hymn and eloquence. She also dabbled in agriculture and pantomime. Today, she would adopt a pen name for those activities so as not to alienate her more meditative fan base. Polyhymnia’s badge was a veil. That serves the concept well but is difficult to illustrate in modern graphics.

I don’t see a muse on the list (three to ten ladies—the list expanded with time) that I could invoke. Writing novels and blogs are not classical activities. I confess that my muse looks more like Tinkerbell than Calliope or Thalia; more like a forest sprite circa the Bard or a Greek chorus that assembles from the cast to offer commentary and then does a quick costume change.

I should give her a name, focus her attention on a popular genre and design a logo for her. No, I should ask her to tell me her name, reveal her passion and leave her imprint on my heart.

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I’m not just flirting with Twitter; we are in a committed relationship.  I’m testing this new partnership, pecking through the seed to find kernels of true value and discarding the husks that prove unfruitful.

 I’m told there are apps that build your audience for you. You can PayPal your way to stratospheric numbers, following tens of thousands around the globe and culling those who don’t return the favor.  Or you can build your relationships the old fashioned way—slowly, selectively, one at a time.  This approach won’t get you the big numbers, but you can get some momentum by being genuinely friendly.

Here’s what I’m learning:

Push your borders. Having tweeps of all ages in all parts of the world is one of the true values of Twitter.

Set your boundaries.  I check profile descriptions and recent twitters and filter out profanity and shameless self or product promotion. Your boundaries may be different but hopefully you have some.

Do the math. If someone has 20,000 followers, 20 people they follow and 2 tweets, I’m not sure I see the point.

Join a conversation.  I’m not doing too well on this one, but it’s on my list. It ‘s the difference between going to a party, sitting in the corner entertaining  your hors d’oeuvres, and mingling with the guests, laughing at their jokes and adding an entertaining bon mot of your own.

Focus your tweets.  I think of Twitter as a modern day set of Psalms and Proverbs. Kings David and Solomon shared their experiences in poetic reflections, passionate revelations and prudent advice that has been read and re-read through centuries.  Try that in 140 characters!

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