Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Mirror of a Beautiful Soul

This is a reflection of a gutte neshuma, a beautiful soul; a tribute not only to the loving mother and Bubby now physically untouchable, but to her her son who loved her with a brimming heart and lives his days worthy of a lifetime of nachas, joy and blessings, for any mother. 

The gathering of men at 6:30 am on a random Monday morning, packed side by side, numbering over thirty...this is the reflection of an honorable man, a kind soul, a pure and spiritual son living his life righteously.  they showed up to ensure the required men for the morning prayer service, far in excess of the required ten.  

They showed up to say "Here I am, here for you, here to pray along side you, to prop you up in these times of grief, and join my voice with yours to share your pain. They showed up out of respect, to act as a witness, to pay homage to your beloved mother, but mostly to the man, son, father, leader, doctor, friend, uncle, and brother that you have become that indisputably would make any mother ache for such a son.

It was a full house last night, friends gathering from all stages of our lives, all corners of the city, touchstones from different eras throughout the evolution of his life, from fresh-faced doctor to spiritual leader, from work-all-day young doctor to a man who invests more in his soul and spirit than in the stock market, who leads his life guided by age-0ld wisdom and rituals rather than ego-driven wordly desires. Crammed with only a sampling of lives that his has touched, it was a community standing there with open arms ready to walk along side during saddened days, listen to stories while sipping coffee, and simply be a rock for the shakey legs of an orphan. They showed up as a physical reminder that he is loved, cherished, and never alone. 

Community doesn't happen by luck or get created merely by the address of your home.  This sort of network, where they rush in to help before even being asked, where food overflowed and arrangements are taken care of without request is the greatest love gift.  It's born from decades of leadership, passionate volunteering of time and money for his vision of a vibrant Jewish community, a healthy family, and the ability to wrap all those he loves in a bubble to protect them from any and all pain and suffering.  

It's born from years of willingness to endure growing pains, make sacrifices, and humbly admit that there's always more to learn, more to do, more to improve upon, becoming a man any mother would clamor to claim as her own.

She would have been so proud.  She was proud - from the moment her first born son was born. It's a lot of pressure being the son that all hopes for a new and better life are pinned upon.  It's a lot of pressure to make up for the pain of all of those murdered senselessly; to hold the dreams of a new future, a life worthwhile of surviving, the meaning in parent's days found in the birth of a son born in freedom.  She was proud...proud of his success, of his family he created, grateful for the gift of grandchildren, and mostly, proud of her first born son who holds up his entire family with both hands and an open heart.  She had to have rested easy knowing that her beloved moishe serves as a pillar in his ever-widening circle, living a life worth emulating, and serves as a role model to more people than he will ever realize.  

She knew all along what a good husband, father, son, and brother he was, as do the rest of us lucky enough to know the man behind the doctor and businessman facade.  Sometimes it takes us longer to recognize what everyone else can see. The reflection in his mirror can become warped and the precious crucial gem that we all see gets skewed by the chatter in our brains. 

So today, while the mirrors are covered and he spends the day uncomfortably shifting on a low, hard mourners chair, his community will act as his true mirror-image - the validation of a mother's greatest wish - to raise a menche, living a life of torah and meaning, with honor, spending his hours healing, supporting, giving and loving those within arms reach.

We gather to pay tribute to Tosha Rene Bottner, his mother, my last remaining grandparent, but the reflection in the mirror tells the story of why it's standing room only in this ample sized house. It's the pair of glasses that portray the true man that we all can see and adore. 

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

House Lust

My apartment finally feels like a home - at least inside the walls. Yet, a sad disappointment of what i was actually looking for.  I need outdoor space to garden and a yard where i'm allowed to leave out a chair.  I want to sunbath with my puppy in the morning rather than sit inside because I have no patio.  We'll skill complaining about schlepping laundry and heavy groceries up the never-ending flight of stairs and glide right into the drawers that don't glide at all, or the nonworking deadbolt, sure to ease parental anxieties.

Regardless, is it worth packing up this place that I just spent two months perfecting? Is it worth the hassle of getting out of my lease? It might be a xanax-craving event but would it be worth it?

That answer is clear.  As long as I can remember, its that one question that strikes panic in my heart.  "What are your dreams? What are your goals? What do you want to do with this life?"

AAAAHHHHH. Time to hide under the covers.  How did i miss that class? Where was I when they taught dream creation? How is it that i draw a blank when it comes to dreams and aspirations? What is wrong with me that i don't have a burning passion to be something, go somewhere, accomplish some great feat? I don't itch to travel or yearn to do any profession that offers an income seeing as what I love more than anything is writing, and that's not such a great monetary 5 year plan.

My answer to the dreaded question? There is only one and it's remained steadfast for as long as I can remember. I yearn to own a home.

A sanctuary I can create with produce planted lovingly from the garden and hand-tended jasmine lining my walls.  I drool over a sun soaked backyard where I can write and play in the grass with my puppy.  I ache to paint walls without wondering if its worth it since i'm just going to have to paint them back white when I move, or be able to mount my tv on the wall without worrying about repairing the damage when my lease is up.  Staunchly against reality television, I've crossed over to the dark side when it comes to "love it or list it", "house hunters" and "property brothers", sure that i'm now fully qualified to just knock down that wall and rip up the old carpet to reveal gorgeous hardwood floors.

My one and only dream is to own a home of my own, my security insurance policy and the sense of grounding that occurs knowing I have a place to call home for forever.

Home is my safety zone - where i get to shrug off labels, expectations, facades and stiff jeans and ease into pjs and exhale. Rooms filled with meaningful objects and set up exactly to my liking allow my eyes to rest anyway and still feel an unmatched sense of peace.

It's not the same renting a one bedroom apartment. Not the same when your music competes with the neighbor's tv, and i worry about the noise from playing fetch with Gracie for my downstairs friends.  Not the same when you must become a quarter whore for laundry or park in an alley behind your building. Forbidden from painting, planting, and upgrading, i'm left feeling like a house guest, powerless to do any improvements other than replacing the faucet head of my sink.

Perhaps its stupid, but even just walking to my own mailbox where i could actually send and not just receive mail makes me smile.

I'm a nester.  I can't help it.  I arrived in phoenix at 7:40 last night and by 8:04 was fully unpacked and transformed the room into my own.  I can't help it. It's something about belonging, finding space to breathe, and the calmness that ensures from everything in it's rightful place.

At heart, i'm a small town girl ironically living in LA. I was happier living in Buffalo Gap, middle of nowhere texas, pop. 637 including the actual buffalo i lived next to. With its two restaurants, one movie theater, and 24-hour walmart, i was perfectly happy and entertained. I like the quiet life, living outside and spending days with the sunshine, friends, and my four-legged shadow.

So that's it. I might wish to publish a book or expand my professional organizing business. It'd be nice to travel to luxerious beaches or explore foreign lands.

But ask me what I ache for? There's only one answer.

A home-base to call my own.

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