Memories


Happy Anniversary to my blog! You’re eight years old!

When I began blogging in 2009, I had just embarked on a new career path. “Life’s transitions and challenges allow opportunities for personal and professional development” (About page). “Throughout my transitions, I learn and grow. And my writing reflects my travel experiences…” (see my initial post) and I set out to record those travel experiences and transitions.

Over the past eight years, I transitioned several times, often travelling paths I didn’t expect. Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” remains my theme poem; my path was the one less traveled by. In all cases, though, I grew from the experience. And I recorded my experiences and growth, either here, in off-line files, or in published articles. I continue to encourage, empower, and inspire others…and be inspired!

For the creative non-fiction I’ve recorded here, roads diverge again. Do I continue recording on the blog or elsewhere? I choose the more challenging road—that of Published Articles. Although that’s an often-traveled road, it’s a new/developing path for me. And I’m sure that path will make all the difference!

Parting Gift—Multi-Media Collage

My art mentor, Glenna Rosansky, decided it was time to create a collage. I usually create collages from cutout shapes, words, or stickers. That’s not what Glenna had in mind. To warm up, we looked at examples of painted string art, rice paper and torn paper collages. We talked about cool and warm colors.

As Glenna read from Nita Leland’s The New Creative Artist, I picked up a small wide brush and daintily dipped it into a small pool of yellow on my palette. “Creativity is a journey of self-discovery.” I added orange and more water to the yellow and painted broad strokes across the page. “What do I most love to do?” Do joyful activities! I chose bright, sunny, joyful colors.

“When the artist is alive in any person…he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature.” (Robert Henri, The Art Spirit.) I experimented with craft scissors and delicate paper doilies. The shiny gold crinkle paper added depth to the white doily. But where was the purple I usually use? I found some wooden popsicle sticks with abstract purple and blue shapes. I glued the sticks haphazardly to the paper. I pressed the plastic teeth of a comb on the thick green paint to create a windy movement.

I wanted to open the pipes to creativity and blessing, and clear the blockage. I leave you, my readers, with this gift. Continue to write–and paint–about transitions and challenges. It’s all good!

Multi-Media Collage, (c) Sherri Leah Henkin, July 2017

Multi-Media Collage, (c) Sherri Leah Henkin, July 2017

 

 

Workshops, presentations, and networking filled my days at the STC Summit. I learned from the best in the field. During early morning breakfast gatherings, I met with colleagues. We used lunch time for SIG meetings or to take part in Speed Networking. In the ever-present Exhibition Hall, I learned about software applications and upcoming events. STC even filled our early evenings with business meetings and an award ceremony.

Constant activity and noise. Sometimes I felt saturated with information. I needed quiet. Where could I go to relax and think through the insightful material?

There was my hotel room. Somehow the room wasn’t conducive to letting my mind wander. That’s it! I wanted a venue where I could just be; simply let my mind wander through the recordings inside my head of the enlightening sessions I’d heard.

But where?

Late one afternoon, I headed down toward the National Harbor boardwalk. 20170508_172812-National HarborAlthough a river cruise sounded lovely, I knew there would be a band and more noise. That wouldn’t work.

As I got closer to the water’s edge, I spotted a small white wooden boat.

Water Taxi

“Where does the Water Taxi go?” I asked the cashier at the pay station.

“Alexandria, Virginia.”

“What’s there to do?”

“At this hour, mostly check out the eateries.”

Hmm…not what I had in mind…that would be more noise. “Could I just ride without getting off in Alexandria?”

“Of course! The Taxi’s leaving soon; wanna buy a ticket?”

I happily handed over my cash and boarded the Water Taxi.

The Water Taxi glided along the Potomac. We passed dark green forested areas and small white houses.

Greenery and White House

Closer to Alexandria, we viewed the urban center along the water’s edge. This SoCal Gal wasn’t dressed for Spring in DC, which was a lot colder than in LA! I chose the cushioned seat inside the heated cabin. I relaxed and watched the video about the city’s history and tourist attractions. Other than a few hushed conversations and the video, I had a quiet ride. The sunlight over the Potomac changed slowly to dull yellow and orange.

After we passed under the highway bridge, I spotted Old Town Alexandria.

20170508_183707-old town alexandria

The Water Taxi slowed as it neared the shore. I excitedly watched one of the crew jump onto the dock. From my camp experiences, I knew what was next: tying the boat to the piling. Once secure, the crew lowered the gangplank and some of the passengers disembarked.

I walked to the cabin door and checked the outside temperature before I left the warm cabin. Funny. We weren’t all that far from our point in the National Harbor yet the wind had subsided. Weather in Old Town Alexandria was warm with a light breeze. I strolled onto the deck to enjoy the fresh air and scenery: more greenery and wood-planked walkways lined the area. Behind the Water Taxi was a paddleboat, fresh out of a Mark Twain novel! From another side, I saw a floating wooden gazebo next to docked boats—perhaps a gathering place for the boat owners? 

Picturesque and peaceful.

I spent the return trip on a deck seat and enjoyed the scenery without a window barrier. The gentle gliding motion of the Water Taxi soothed me. The lapping sound of water against the boat reminded me of earlier times when I’d sailed or canoed. I smiled at the memories.

After I returned to the hotel, I realized I hadn’t thought about the workshop material. Yet I did notice less noise in my head. This Water Taxi ride readied me for another day of learning and hob-knobbing with my fellows!

 

“Bubbie, you didn’t give me a present for my birthday!” wailed my four-year-old grandson.

“Of course I did!”

“Nooooo!”

Trying to reason with a sobbing child, I calmly explained: “Remember, I gave you the matching game with the colorful pictures?”

“But that wasn’t a present!” he yelled.

“What? Why…”

“The game wasn’t wrapped! You didn’t give me a present!”

“Ohhh…you mean if I give you a game that’s not wrapped, then it’s not a present?

“Right. You didn’t give me a present!”

Oh! I never knew that a wrapped box made the item a present…at least for a four-year-old. But how could I correct this egregious error? I didn’t want to be known as The Bubbie Who Doesn’t Give Presents!

This conversation happened in December, shortly before Chanukah. Perhaps I had a chance to redeem myself.

“Chanukah is coming. What would you like?”

Said child responded with interesting toy choices such as Ninja turtles and PJ Masks Headquarters.  “OK. I can buy one of those toys for you!”

“But Bubbie…remember to wrap it!”

“Of, course!” I smiled back and gently patted his face. We continued chatting, played some games, read stories, and I visited with the other kids. And of course played catch with Jax, their two-year-old frisky Lab.

As I walked to the front door to leave, Mr. Wrap-the-Present reminded me, “Bubbie, don’t forget to wrap my toy!”

The Importance of Wrapping

Typically, kids excitedly and hurriedly rip the wrapping paper off the box, toss the ribbons to the side, and tear open the box. Wouldn’t simply handing the kid the toy they wanted do the trick? I could smile and say “Happy Birthday”.

Apparently, wrapping the gift matters. From my research—outside of speaking with four-year-olds—I discovered that a wrapped box:

  • builds curiosity: “It’s a large box; what’s inside?”
  • increases anticipation: “Did she get me what I asked for?”
  • boosts the surprise element: “I wonder what this is?”
  • is something people prefer: “It would have been so much more fun to have a cutely wrapped box!”

Redressing the Egregious Error

My oldest grandson and I shopped for his little brother’s gift. We found the oversized PJ Masks toy easily. As we approached the checkout line, I saw wrapping paper and bows. “Better buy the wrapping equipment now so we can bring the gift home prepared.”

“Yup! But how will we wrap it before we get home?” N. wisely asked.

“In the car!” Then I realized I didn’t have scissors and tape in the car. “We’d better duck into the drugstore and get scissors and tape.” I figured it’s always helpful to have spare scissors and tape in the car. Never know when I’ll have to wrap another gift on the road!

Supplies in hand, we set to wrapping the gift. The Honda Civic seats were too small for us to wrap the gift in the back, so we opened the trunk.

“Bubbie, we’d better work fast. I think the weathermen were right for once; looks like rain any moment.”

We unrolled the paper and tried to straighten it out in the confined space. Giggling, we unevenly cut the paper. I placed a portion over the front of the box and taped down the paper. And then the drizzle started. We worked as quickly as we could, laughing about the absurdity of wrapping a gift in the parking lot, in the rain!

The effort paid off! We brought in the large box, covered in blue and silver paper, and topped with navy blue bows. Little brother greeted us wide-eyed and a with a large smile: “You bought me a present!”

Redeemed, at last!

**

Why do you wrap presents? Jump into the comments and let us know!

**

Resources:

http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2008/12/04/the-psychology-behind-wrapping-1/

http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-we-wrap-presents

 

 

I just lit the candle to mark the beginning of my Dad’s second yahrzeit (anniversary of his passing). It’s just me and the candle. No distractions.

I feel pain, yet not as intensely as last year. I feel the loss more acutely now.

In the past year, I had several complex decisions to make. And I often thought, Where’s Dad? I need his counsel!

Not able to chat with him in life, I couldn’t figure out what he would have advised. Stuck. Unsure.

And then I remembered this: Take a piece of legal pad paper. Draw a line down the center. Write Pro on one side and Con on the other. Then make your list. As I wrote those words, I could almost hear Dad relaying those instructions.

The classic Pro and Con list helped. Trying to hear his voice comforted me.

**

We had happy times in the family during the past year. Dad wasn’t there. I missed sharing the events with him. Did he come in spirit? I believe he did. Yet I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t see his smile.

I could conjure up memories of him smiling at other milestones.

three-generations

Three Generations: Poppy, Grandson, and Great-Grandson

 

 

dad-and-noey

Poppy and Great-Grandson at School

 

The image of him dancing spiritedly with his grandson—my son—at the wedding came to mind.

Picturing the memory of the wedding dance comforted me.

**

On the yahrzeit, some of the observances of mourning are in effect. I won’t listen to music today or go to joyous events. I’ll draw on what I learned about simcha (joy) during the year of mourning: Feeling joyful comes from the inside. I can feel joy without the outside stimuli like music. Today, I’ll catch up on my spiritual studies and listen to classes, especially those with an upbeat tone.

And learning in Dad’s memory will comfort me.

**

L’ilui nishmas (for the elevation of the soul) Yoel Meir ben (son of) Simcha—Joel Sandleman, 26 Tevet 5777 (solar calendar date is January 17).

Photos ©Sherri Leah Henkin 2004-2017.

 

 

I arrived in Israel right after Rosh Hashanah (early October). I sensed the spirit of the chagim (holidays) as soon as I landed when I saw the Shanah Tovah (loosely translated as Happy New Year) signs at the airport! My Israel Adventure had begun!!

And it’s been quite a spiritual and physical adventure! Here’s the wrap-up:

  • A long-time friend met me at the airport—her beaming smile warmed my heart! And off we went in our private taxi to my Jerusalem cousins.
  • Friday early afternoon, I visited the Kotel (Western Wall) and merited to pray Mincha (the afternoon prayers) there. kotel-first-friday-afternoon-erev-shabbos-shuva
  • Early Tuesday morning, I travelled to Alei Zahav and spent Yom Kippur with other long-time friends. I enjoy the spirituality in this place, and the view from their porch grabs me each time, since I see the Mediterranean in the distance! alei-zahav-view-from-the-porch
  • Sukkah-building got underway; I heard hammers and drills late into the night after Yom Kippur! My cousins fill their sukkah with original paintings and decorations. As a friend put it, “You are eating in an art gallery!” What a privilege. sukkah-with-succos-painting                                             Artist: Elya Succot
  • Being at the Kotel for Birkat Kohanim (public priestly blessing) is my favorite Succot activity. This year, I was one of the 70,000 who attended! The thunder of that many people answering Amen to blessings inspires me for many months! And in the midst of the crowd, the doves peacefully watched over us. birds-at-birkat-kohanim-blog
  • The lighting effects, fireworks, and sound during the concert in Brechat Sultan (Sultan’s Pool) blew me away! Real feet-stomping and hand-clapping music—with many people dancing in the aisles!lights-brechat-hasultan-concert

 

dancing-in-aisles-breachat-hasultan

  • And then, I travelled to Tzefat (Safed) for the Shabbat during Succot. I toured part of the Artists’ Colony with a friend—and made some purchases, of course! artists-quarter-sculptureOne night a few of us drove to a quiet spot near the Jordan River…we chatted and enjoyed the gurgling of the rushing river. And the stars! WOW—millions of them! I could even pick out some constellations!
  • Back in Jerusalem, a friend and I took in the Valley of the Gazelles…right in the center of the city! gazelle-running
  • I’ve even done some mundane activities such as food shopping, clothes-buying, and helping a friend declutter!

Although my cousins put away the sukkah and the chagim are over, the festive spirit continues. We have a family wedding this week! Our dancing shoes are ready! If you hear loud lively music this week, it’s coming from that wondrous simcha (joyous occasion)!

Wishing all my readers a year full of health, success, joyous occasions, and exciting adventures!

Birch Aquarium. For over 20 years I’d seen the sign. For over 20 years, I drove past the entrance, on to other sites in La Jolla. Why? I like aquariums! They’re all about the water!

Enough of just looking at the coastline…ocean view of coastline

…the time had come to personally discover Birch Aquarium. aquarium sign2 (2)

I meandered through the exhibits, appreciating colors…orange fish in tidepool

Big Blue Bass

Butterfly Fish

…and the curators’ creativity.

sunken boat with fish

I learned about fish who blend into their environment. Some fish look like plants…tidepool…others look like the surrounding flora.

Dragon Seahorse

Birch even boasts a nursery—for fish!

Baby Seahorses

Juvenile Moon Jellyfish

Juvenile Moon Jellyfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breathing in the salty fresh ocean air energized me. And viewing the grey whale statue jumping out of the water reminded me that I too, can jump up and move!

 

grey whales (2)

**

All photos (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2016

 

 

“Welcome to Kiev.”

Three words I never thought I’d hear in my life. The KLM plane had just touched down at Borispol Airport.

I had flown with a group of women from the US. In Kiev, we met a group from Israel and Europe. Our spiritual journey to the birthplace of Chassidus was about to begin. For me, the trip was a family reunion of sorts, since I met up with my Israeli cousins and friends.

**

Kiev, Berditchev, Mezhibuzh, Breslov, and Uman had not been on my list of places to visit. I’d studied about the former USSR and learned about the roles these cities played in Jewish history. Over the last few decades, I’d heard the first-hand stories of visitors to this part of the world. While the experiences interested me, I never expected to travel to Ukraine.

So what changed?

A suggestion here: “I’m going to Uman in July; why don’t you come with our group?” Debbie had asked. A hint there: “It’s a healing, life-changing trip!” The emotional video on the Holy Journeys website drew me. And Hashem [G-d] created life circumstances that made the trip possible.

I traveled through time and physical space to a mystical—but very real—place. Learning, praying, laughing, crying, dancing, and singing—all the raw emotions rattled my core and catapulted me into a positive direction. With immense gratitude to Hashem [G-d], I share with you some of the photos from this trip.

Tomb of Rav Levi Yitzchok from Berditchev

Tomb of Rav Levi Yitzchok from Berditchev [For historical description, see: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1007604/jewish/A-Brief-Biography.htm.]

Berditchev Cemetery from Sara

Berditchev Cemetery (Photo Credit: Sara Melman)

 

 Baal Shem Tov

Tomb of the Baal Shem Tov and others (Mezhibuzh) [For historical description, see: http://www.chabad.org/generic_cdo/aid/388609/jewish/The-Baal-Shem-Tov.htm.]

Hotel in Mezhibuzh on Left

Hotel building in Mezhibuzh

Night Sky En Route to Mezhibuzh

Painting of Night Sky en route to Mezhibuzh

In Uman, we prayed and learned at the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. I was drawn to the exquisite beauty of Gan Sofia (Sofia Park).

Fountain near entrance                        Lily Pad                                        Waterfall

**

Photos (except Berditchev Cemetery) and painting (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2016

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