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Archive for November, 2008

I’m up bright and early to finish off this Thanksgiving weekend with quite a bit of activity.

I’m getting ready to leave for Orlando, where I will be co-officiating the wedding of Megan and Michael tonight at the Winter Park Civic Center.  The wedding is a Catholic-Jewish wedding, and I am co-officiating with Father Tim.  The ceremony is a great blend of traditions, and I look forward to writing more about it when I return.

On Sunday morning, upon my return, I am leading a memorial service for a wonderful man who was a legendary father and grandfather.  The stories I have heard about him made me remember my own, and reminded me that even though I had a short time with him in my life, he left me with memories I will cherish forever, and a legacy that leads me through life even today.  How fortunate we are if we have parents and grandparents who shower us with unconditional love.  I know that this man’s presence was terribly missed at the family’s Thanksgiving this year, but they remembered him with joy and happiness, a true testament to the legacy he left behind.

Shortly after I return, I will be leaving for St. Maarten, where I will be officiating the wedding of Keith & Faith.  This is an amazing power-couple!  I cannot wait to spend time with them and their families, and I know this trip is going to be another life-changing experience.  I love my job!

Stay tuned, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Oh – PS – GO GATORS!

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One year ago, today, my website had just launched, and my blog was in its beginning stages.  I remembered, today, that on that day a year ago, I wrote a blog entry about Thanks and Giving, and I decided it was the perfect time to go back, and see how far I had come, and express new thanks for what has taken place, and for the blessings that had been bestowed upon me in another year.

Honestly, not much has changed, but everything feels different.  I am still thankful for the same things, yet, this year, I want to be a little more specific about the things I’m thankful for, and to look closely at and appreciate the most profound blessings of the year.  My list from last year is below this year’s, at the bottom of the page.  Many things are still the same, and many find their same position on my list, but this year, I feel even more fortunate than last, because so much has changed.  I really hope to convey what I am most thankful for.

1.  I’m so thankful, first and foremost, for my amazing children, Lauren & Trevor.  They are truly the most precious gifts from G-d, they are my source of inspiration, and purpose, every minute of the day.  This year has seen its challenges, for both children, with Trevor leaving home for the first time, and finding out that the world can be harsh, cruel, and unfair – and Lauren, who is just beginning to see the world that exists outside of her limited perspective, and realize she has so much left to learn.  She has realized that while she’s an amazing human being, sometimes, the world mirrors back what it sees most, and she hasn’t loved what she has received in terms of messages.  The constant phone calls from each child this year seemed more than I could handle at times, but through them, we have all grown, and can clearly see new paths being formed for all of us.  I am thankful for the clarity I receive from the experiences with my children.  I am thankful they continue to strive to be independent adults with multi-dimensional personalities.  I am thankful they still call home for comfort, and run down the Turnpike or I-95 just to get a hug (and home cooking and clean laundry) from Mom.  Some might look at my relationship with my children and say I am too involved.  I am thankful that those people are not very important in my life, and that I have the courage to ignore them, and do what feels right.  I am thankful that they are healthy, ambitious, determined, kind, and sensitive.  I am thankful for the inner and outer beauty.  I am most thankful, above all else, for Lauren and Trevor.

2.  My parents and sisters.  This year, I have to put the emphasis on my sisters.  I am in awe of how each of us, quietly, and at the same time, seemed to put the resentment, and trivial annoyances behind us, and began to appreciate each other for who we were.  We stopped looking at each other under glaring microscopes, and realized that we are all flawed, but family is family, and we love and accept each other for who we are, and who we are not.  I’m thankful for Alexa.  My most amazing, precious niece, for whom I would do anything.  Anything, at all.  And I hope I am here to help guide her and listen to her, and be the most amazing Aunt anyone could ever hope for.  She lightens my life, makes me feel so special when she asks for me to come see her, and makes my heart sing, when we skip and gallop down the sidewalk together.  I am thankful for Nancy for giving her to me, and thankful to Nina, that we can share Lexi, and be great Aunts, together.

3.  My ex-husband, Wayne.  Yes, I still learn very important life lessons from you, and am eternally grateful that you are the father of my children.

4.  I have found an even greater appreciation for the voice I have inside of me, and the sensitivity that God gave me.  I have far more confidence this year in my voice than last year, and it grows daily.  Not the singing voice, but the inspirational voice.  The one that shows compassion, boldy speaks my own opinions, and allows me to set my own direction, regardless of input from others.  The voice that is connected to its source, who knows where I belong, and has given me the unlimited power to get there.

5. The roof over my head, the friends in my life (most specifically – Mindy, Alison, and Nancy), my comfortable car that gets me everywhere, my guitar, the beautiful community I live in, and peace.

6. Air. Food. Mountains. Nature. Highways. Technology. Friends. Chocolate.

7. Courage. Independence. Abundance. Freedom. Satisfaction. My job(s). Little did I know last year that this would be such a powerful segment of my gratitude.  I have pushed all of these to their limits this year, and it has proven to be the most rewarding experience of my life.  I thank G-d for the courage to fight for my independence, which created the most satisfying freedom and ability to create the job(s) that gave me the most joy and pleasure, and hence, abundance has sprung from sheer determination to do anything but fail – even when I was staring failure right in the face.  I am so grateful.

8. Tolerance. Understanding. Acceptance. Peace. (Yes, I know I said it already, but it’s important enough to say again)

*** New for 08/09 ***

9.  My commitment to health and physical well being.  I am thankful to know what I should and shouldn’t eat, and to finally begin to understand that I am what I eat.  I must honor my body by eating only that which empowers me, and fats and carbs just won’t do.  I feel so powerful when I know I am eating for success, and that enables me to pursue exercise and mental well being as a result.

10.  Meditation, and The Power of Now – The ability to tune “in” as well as “out” is incredibly empowering.  It seems that the universe opens up and the most dramatic changes occur, shortly after deep meditation and introspection.  When I stay focused on the Now, my energy is reserved for what is important, and I am so thankful for the perspective it gives me.

11.  The past.  Looking at it, I am able to find life’s lessons I might not have learned when it was the present.  Therefore, I try to remain thankful for the present, and also the future, as I know that the greatest lessons will be learned there.

12.  Love.  There is so much love in my life.  I love my family, my children, my career, my home, my community, my world, and my friends.  I am blessed many times  over, and could not hope for anything more than what I have been given this year.

13.  Optimism.  The ability to choose the positive over the negative.  To find silver linings.  To empower, and cheer – myself, and those around me.  To smile, just when I need to cry, and remember, that someone always has something worse to worry about than me.

14.  God.  How is possible He was not on last year’s list?  He brings all gifts, bestows all blessings, and provides all things.  I am so grateful to know him.

I didn’t do as well as I could have in the giving department this past year as I had hoped.  I gave of myself hundreds of times over, and I intend to make more of an outward financial commitment to help those less fortunate than I.  Perhaps there’s an opportunity for balance?

I believe that it is imperative that before we ask G-d for anything at all, that we count our blessings and show our gratitude.  Perhaps it is that once we do so, there is actually far less to ask for?  For me, I ask for nothing, this year, other than the continuation of the blessings I am already fortunate enough to have received.  They are enough.  They are everything.

My you and your families find peace and contenment in your hearts this holiday season.  May you find the abundance that exists, even when money is scarce.  May you find the love, even when conflict arises, and May you find peace, among the angry stress of the day.  May you be blessed.

B’Shalom..

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Thanks…..
1. I’m so thankful for my awesome children, Lauren & Trevor. Truly the most precious gifts from G-d, they are my source of inspiration and purpose, every minute of the day.

2. My parents and my sisters. The road to today certainly hasn’t been an easy one, but it’s the best path we have ever been on. I’m so grateful for having them in my life, and the relationship we share.

3. My ex husband. Thank you Wayne, for being you. Whether you know it or not, you play a huge role in my being on this path, and there are some very important lessons you have taught me in life. I will always treasure you – no matter how angry we get at each other.

4. I’m thankful for the voice G-d gave me. I’m thankful that I am sensitive, and sometimes overly emotional. It means I have feelings. And the opposite of that is unthinkable.

5. The roof over my head, the friends in my life, my comfortable car that gets me everywhere, my guitar, the beautiful community I live in, and peace.

6. Air. Food. Mountains. Nature. Highways. Technology. Friends. Chocolate.

7. Courage. Independence. Abundance. Freedom. Satisfaction. My job(s).

8. Tolerance. Understanding. Acceptance. Peace. (Yes, I know I said it already, but it’s important enough to say again)

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I recently returned from Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, where I had the pleasure of officiating the wedding of Yelena and Lennie, an amazing couple from New Jersey

Yelena & Lennie

but what I loved most was to have the opportunity to once again connect with more fabulous Russian families.  Strangely enough, Yelena was referred to me by my friend, Rabbi Andrea Frank, who was unable to perform her wedding.  When she called me to see if I could fill the role of their officiant, I was SO excited, because of the recent connections I have had with Dan & Rita, and Felix & Evelina, so I was totally on board!

Plans moved quickly, and I was booked to fly out to Punta Cana, where we stayed at the Bavaro Princess Resort.  I arrived just before the rehearsal dinner, and was invited to join the families, and began to get to know everyone.  What a great time I had!  Yelena couldn’t wait to introduce me to Sharon, a work mate of hers, who quickly became my soul sister, and we were inseperable the entire time we were there.  Sharon is an amateur photographer, who was snapping unofficial pics the whole weekend, in between all the laughs we shared!

Yelena – what can I say about her? The first think you notice about Yelena is her big, giant, authentic smile, and after you see her smile, you can’t help but feel her soul shining through.

At the Beach Party

At the Beach Party

One of the friendliest women I have met in a long time, she was so consumed with MY happiness during my stay, and I couldn’t appreciate her more.  Lennie, her reformed wild-side husband was attentive and loving, and the families were all so much fun to be with.  Yelena’s Mom, Alla, was an absolute DOLL, so gracious and kind, and the friends and family were so much fun to be around.

I have to say, the wedding ceremony backdrop was amazing.  Yelena arrivedin a horse and carriage, and the gazebo had a chuppa set up underneath.  The gazebo location just off the ocean made the most romantic setting.  It was raised up, so you could look out across the ocean, and feel the divine presence among us all.

Horse & CarriageGazebo/Chuppa

Then, later that evening, was the beach party reception, and that was SO much fun!  The tables were decorated beautifully out on the ocean.  A dance floor was created in the sand, and they had a fabulous DJ, playing a mix of ethnic dance tunes – many the Russian ones I have come to love, since Dan & Rita’s in Mexico.

The weekend flew by in a flash.  We all enjoyed a beautiful day in the sun together on Saturday, and breakfast and a quick swim Sunday morning, and then it was back to reality.  Yelena and Lennie – THANKS for letting me part of your incredible day, and may you both continue to be blessed with Love.

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Last night, Lauren, my daughter called me crying.  She had just found out that an old friend from High School’s little brother had been killed in an accident, the night before.  He was 16.

When Lauren was friends with Jen, in 9th and 10th grade, they were inseperable, and, as parents do, her mom and I became friendly too.  Jen and her sister, Danielle, were always such good girls.  Ritchie, their little brother, was a bit outside the box.  At 10, he was wearing a Mohawk.  He marched to the beat of his own drummer.  And his mom would just laugh, and say…”That’s Ritchie”….

As sad and tragic as it was, however, I cannot say I was shocked at the news Lauren was telling me on the phone.  Ritchie died instantly.  He was on a bike, and the driver of a Jeep Cherokee had killed him.  It was 5:00 in the morning.

We cannot figure out what Ritchie was doing at 5am on Griffin Road, but while our first instinct is that Ritchie was once again bucking the system, perhaps he was delivering newspapers, or trying to get to school early for extra credit.  The fact is, we don’t know, and might never know.  Honestly, Ritchie was one of the sweetest kids you ever wanted to know..

Either way, Ritchie is gone.  In an instant, a precious child’s life is gone, and a Mother and Father, and 2 sisters are left to wonder why.  It seems so unfair.  There are no answers.  Except one.  And it’s a story we hear all the time, but I wonder, how many of us live this lesson?

Live each day as if there were no tomorrow.  Do any of us know if we will really make it to work or home?  Are there any guarantees?  Children die at any age, and so do grownups.  We have no crystal balls, and no way of knowing.  So, why do we live lives of unhappiness, malcontent, and general blahness?  Why do we not smell every rose, wish on every star, kiss everyone we love, twice just in case, appreciate what we have, go for what we want, change careers as many times as necessary to find happiness, and reach back in our past to find people we once loved but lost our way from?

Why do we take our children, our parents, our siblings for granted?  How would we act if we knew today was our last day on earth with that person?  Why don’t we act that way every day?

I am reminded, and I hope you are, too.  I hope my children remember this, my ex husband, my parents, and my sisters remember, too.  I hope every friend on my Facebook accounts remembers, and I hope everyone goes home, and kisses someone they love very much.  I hope we appreciate everything and everyone we have, and that we consciously thank God for giving those people and things to us.

I am thanking God right now.  And praying that Ritchie’s memory be for a blessing to all of us.

May he rest in peace..

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After the amazing wedding in St. Pete, I rushed right back to South florida, to get ready for Rachel and Mara’s Havdalah Bat Mitzvah.  Rachel and Mara are sisters, almost 2 years apart, who prepared for their special day together, and it was a great experience, for them, and me.

I always learn from my experiences, and this was no exception, but in the process, the girls became very special to me, as did Robin, their Mom.  I think because the parents were divorced, and I could feel the dynamics of that divorce as it was something I went through myself, I identified even more.  But, Jeff and Robin did a great job of creating a unified front, and making their daughters’ day the priority.

The Bat Mitzvah was held at the Hyatt Bonaventure, on Saturday evening.  The girls’ theme was New York City, and it was really beautiful.  Learning their Torah portions were not easy for both girls, but I must say, they did the most incredible job.  Especially Mara, who had the hardest time, so I just want her to know how PROUD of her I really was that night.

The girls each did 3 Aliyot, the V’Ahavta, and I must say, they both wrote amazing D’var Torah portions.  Their parsha, Lech Lecha, was about Abraham’s journey to a new land, and each girl related their experience of their journey into young adulthood, comparing it to Abraham’s journey into the new Land.  Both girls were amazing writers, and will always look back and remember the special moments of  listening to them express themselves through their own written words.  The opportunities to write personally really made this experience more meaningful to both of them, which…isn’t that the purpose??

Yasher Koach, girls.  I’m so proud of you both.

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What is a Lyceum, you might ask?

Well, Wikipedia tells us:

A Lyceum can be

The precise usage of the term varies among various countries.

But, for me, the Lyceum in St. Petersburg was the location for my most recent wedding, and it was so much fun!  A bit different from most, David and Katie’s wedding was a fun, sincere, down to earth, REAL, and beautiful wedding weekend.  I really liked them both when I met them in Aventura several months ago, and having spent time with their family this past weekend, I am so happy to have had the chance to work with them.  For starters, I left home early Thursday morning, and drove as fast as I could to St. Pete, and met them and their wedding party at the Mirror Lake Lyceum for the rehearsal.  Immediately after the rehearsal, David’s Dad hosted the bridal party, friends, and family at Cafe Aura, in downtown St. Pete.  I had the pleasure of sitting with Ken, David’s Dad, and his 2 sisters and brother in law.  They were a lovely family, and so sweet.  Lunch was delicious, but it was the ambience of this little downtown cafe that really hooked you!

From there, I had the evening to myself, and experienced one of the nicest evenings I’ve had in a while.  David and Katie had 2 hotels for their guests, the Marriott Courtyard and The Ponce deLeon Hotel, and they chose the Ponce deLeon for me.  (YAY)  What a treat this was!  From the moment I walked in, Erica greeted me at the desk, and was the most vivacious hostess I had ever met.  (Except for my Mother in Law at The House of Sea and Sun!).  The hotel is an adorable vintage style guest house directly across from the Marina and Park, and I had hours upon hours to walk and take in the beautiful downtown scenery in St. Pete.

A great place to stay!

A great place to stay!

While I was walking, I came across an adorable floating chapel – a perfect location for a wedding!  I have to give them a call to see if I can possibly officiate there!  (Maybe it’s an idea for a new angle of my business??)

in the Harbor in St. Pete

in the Harbor in St. Pete

For dinner, I went to Ceviche, and could not recommend it more!  It was a great night!  (But, this is not a travel review, it’s a wedding review – so on to the venue!)

Brian at the Lyceum was also an amazing participant, and he led the rehearsal and managed all the details with impeccable style.  David and Katie did a great job of blending their Interfaith wedding, not to mention step parents, and extended family.  David’s Mom had passed away several years ago, and so Katie’s Mom walked David down the aisle, with his Dad, Ken.  Since Katie’s Mom had remarried, and her Dad and Step Dad were both there, she chose to walk down the aisle with both of her Dads.  It was so sweet, and it paid tribute to all of the parents, in just the right way.  I was touched at their ability to blend and adjust the way they had.

David and Katie chose a sand ceremony, and we signed the Ketubah in the presence of their guests.  Their ring exchange was the traditional Jewish style, where we first place the ring on the right Index finger, and move the rings over to the left ring finger after the vows are repeated.  They had a beautiful wedding party of 5 bridesmaids and 5 groomsmen, with 2 junior bridesmaids and 2 ring bearers.  Everyone was dressed in black, and they looked beautiful.

David and Katie are a beautiful couple, inside and out.  They had a simple style, and a strong commitment to each other as a couple.  I have faith that this will be a long lasting relationship that will flourish and grow, and I’m so happy to have been a special part of their weekend!  Thanks, David and Katie!

At the Lyceum, after the wedding

At the Lyceum, after the wedding

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Is looking for blog mates, selling some really cute stuff that she makes by hand, is selling a beautiful dress on Craigslist, is working on her Graduate degree, AND is planning a wedding to her really cute fiancee.  On top of all of that, she is celebrating a 4 year anniversary of sobriety.  All of this might sound overwhelming, but on a recent blog post, Banjo expresses her over-running cup of enthusiasm, and tells us that she feels like a million bucks.

Her positive attitude and love for life is what made me decide to write a blog post about her.  I bet she makes a conscious daily decision to CHOOSE happiness.  She is someone who at her very young age has obviously found a lifestyle that makes her happy on the inside, and so she exudes happiness on the outside.  I wish all young people could learn that in order to find happiness, they must go in search of it, and that search begins with a clear mind and a conscious choice as to how they want things to be.

Great lives don’t just happen to us by accident.  How many of us have those friends who ALWAYS seem to be in drama and trauma, and overall chaos?  How many of us look at others who seem to have everything going right for them?  Is it fate?  Is it accident?  No – it’s a conscious choice about how things should be.

Banjo – Kudos to you for choosing your positive life.  I hope you spread it around some more, and I hope more people give you some real estate on their blog.  You earned yours on mine!

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