The Space You Leave Behind

Have you ever felt something that isn’t there?

Every day – especially late at night and first thing in the morning – I feel the space you leave behind. It’s like one of those weighted blankets – it engulfs me and threatens to cut off my oxygen supply while at the same time lending comfort and assurance. Because I know that, even in your absence and in spite of my wanting you to still need me, you are safe and well and whole and happy. But still there’s a vacuum where your noise and energy once was. It’s as if, by cleaning your room so thoroughly, I accidentally also erased some of you.

Then I remember the sensation of how you once slipped your hand into mine. I look around, at the photos on the walls, the relentless artwork you create with your brain and your heart, and the littered legos that somehow are still here, there and everywhere and I’m reminded that your presence is actually – thankfully – indelible.

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How to Join the Movement to End Gun Violence in the USA (Updated)


I am an optimist, pure and simple. Call me naive, idealistic, a dreamer: I don’t care. I believe in speaking up, I believe in taking action, I believe that, collectively, we can be better.

Because gun violence can happen to any of us. Anywhere in the USA.

To do nothing, to say nothing, to sit by and accept this as normal is, quite simply, not an option for me. Yes, you can be scared, angry, sad and frustrated – but you can also be part of the change. You can wait for someone else to speak up – or we can do this together.

But we need A LOT of you to make our voices heard. Unless the noise is deafening – I mean REALLY LOUD – our politicians won’t listen. (The siren call of the deep pockets of the NRA is also really loud.) And P.S. no, we’re not looking to take guns away from responsible owners.

Below is a list of a few of the organizations and petitions that you can support and join today that are actively working for change and to protect us – through grass roots advocacy, through lobbying, through awareness and education. What can you do? Whether you can take 5 seconds to tweet, give 60 seconds to add your email to a petition, spend a few hours making calls to connect people with their representatives, or join a rally or march – every little bit makes a difference.

I believe we can and must do this. Really, what other option do we have?

Thank you.

DisarmHate – join the rally in Washington on August 13 to demand equal rights and realistic gun law reform

Participate in September 25 – The Concerts Across America to End Gun Violence

Sign the pledge to become a gun sense voter

Petition to ban assault weapons

Here’s How to Contact All 535 Members of Congress

Obama: Speak up for gun violence prevention

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – join now, take action

Everytown, formed by mayors across the US

Americans for Responsible Solutions (Gabby Gifford’s organization)

Sandy Hook Promise, research-based prevention programs

BeSmart for Kids – a conversation about guns, kids and safety

Stop Handgun Violence

Newtown Action Alliance

(I will update this list so please check back)

Welcome to Nine!


Once upon a time a baby girl was born.

Boy, were we relieved when we found out you were a girl! Here’s truth #1: I didn’t enjoy it that much when you were inside me, but once you were out and the doc said those three words “it’s a girl!” your Papa and I whooped with joy.

Visions of pink, swirly skirts, glitter, nail polish, braids, Barbies and princesses filled my future and I couldn’t wait. But no, that was not your plan.

Here’s truth #2: I’m more than okay with you not being a girly-girl. In fact, I’m proud that you’re not, in spite of all the branding and stereotyping in society. It’s way cooler that you get to decide who you want to be, what you want to play with, how you want to dress than society and conventions limiting you.

Being you means focusing on your karate because you enjoy the challenge and the structure and you get to work with weapons and to spar against both boys and girls. And you get strong and fierce in the process.

Being you means you can wear leopard print from top to bottom and own it.

Being you means mastering multiplication and reading mystery books and knowing a ridiculous amount of detail about different dog breeds.

Being you means playdates where you play “Rey” and he plays “Finn.”

Being you means loving music. And hating sauce. And adoring your stuffed animals and your “guys”.

Being you means wanting to learn to play the piano, but only after you get your black belt.


Here’s truth #3: I do hope you continue to take care of your long hair so I can continue braiding it. Because it’s the only “girly” thing I get to do with you.

Dear T, please keep on being you.

Because you is the best.

Make 9 your greatest year yet!!



He Is Not The One

You are standing in the airport lobby, fists balled at your sides alongside your luggage, smarting with fury and disappointment. The hubbub around you is a blur as you grind your teeth and hold back hot tears, wrenched from your own stupidity and the damning futility of having dared to believe.

You just got dumped.

He had invited you to stay the weekend, a few months after you had met one hazy, late summer weekend in Nantucket. You bought a plane ticket, some new clothes and you fell hook line and sinker into that dangerous playground of hope and anticipation.

And why not? There were sparks. You had connected, could talk for hours on the phone.

So off you flew, into the lair.

The first 24 hours were divine. But it slowly nosedived from there. Then he dumped you.

It’s me not you and all that.

And here you are, among the faceless travelers rushing from A to B, seething with disappointment. At first, rage at him for being so spineless, for not being brave enough to take you on.

There, in front of the Delta check-in desk, you fought the self-loathing, targeted squarely at your pathetic foolishness, such an infantile romantic. The sheer stupidity of daring to think that he might be the one. Dumbass.

You loved someone before and he didn’t love you back. Didn’t you learn from that experience? At least he didn’t give you pause to hope. His was love cloaked in friendship. But it hurt.

This time around, it felt like you had due cause to let hope in. But you were wrong, and you were wronged. Stupid, stupid you.

He is not the one.

(You don’t know it now – as you take a deep gulp, pick up your bags and your self-esteem, and board the flight home – but The Real One, well he’s actually waiting in the wings. Give it a few weeks, and you’ll see.)

My 2016 Word of the Year is: Listen

Do you hear that? No, nor did I.

Since my 2015 word of the year was energy, my year was noisy, filled with the throes of everyday life, with busyness and activity. It was a good year overall: I felt like the family and I thrived. I achieved a consistent exercise routine, I slept consistently well. I felt like I hit a new stride at work – while the demands and pressures didn’t change, I was able to sail through. The kids were well and happy, my husband nurtured his passion for karate and reiki. Overall it was a year without too much personal or family drama and for that I am grateful.

But it sped by so fast. Scary fast. So fast in fact, that I worry that I didn’t take the moments in. I missed some cues. I was so involved in the busyness that I neglected some people who matter enormously to me and in the process, damaged relationships – something I never intended to do and am working to fix.

Bottom line, I didn’t listen enough.

Strangely enough, in Hebrew the definition of my name – Samantha – is Listener.  And, as a communicator by nature and by profession, I know that listening is as important as talking or writing, maybe more so.

So this year, I’m committed to being a better and more active listener. This will force me to be more present and to slow down. I’ll need to attune my radar to the signals and inputs all around me – both the explicit and the inferred – from my kids, my husband, friends (both near and far), colleagues, clients, even strangers. I’ll need to look up more, open my eyes and my ears, say less. Lean back and take it in before speaking up. Maybe the cues might exist elsewhere – in music, art, books or nature – but unless I’m open to them, I’ll miss them. To quote Paulo Coelho, “I believe in signs … what we need to learn is always there before us.”

I’ll also need to listen to myself more. Not to the voice that often says “eat more cheese” or “go back to sleep” (instead of going to the gym.) But to my instincts and my gut. I tend to second guess myself a fair deal, apply too much logic, but sometimes the better answer is found in the instinct. So, I’m going to listen more to that too and see where that takes me. Less rationale, more impulse-based listening and action.

So bring it, 2016, I’m listening.

Familiarly Unfamiliar

Home. It once was. It still is. Or is it?

It fits like an old sweater. Comfortable. Like muscle memory, it all falls into place. Right here, left there. Memories like yesterday; places I once went; people I once knew. Good times. Other times. Real times, three decades yet almost two decades past. 

Put the kettle on and let’s reminisce about the good old days.

It’s different now. A bit shiny and new in places, blurry in others. What was once familiar is altered. Recognizable. It’s bigger and stranger yet also smaller and authentic and just around the corner.

Curiosity piqued, I’m compelled to immerse myself in it anew. See if I can expose what was once there, unbury memories from behind those new glassy facades. Travel along paths that had existed all along but were eclipsed. Maybe discover something to change my perspective. Reframe the past. Recast my future. 

There are other places I call home and that call me home right back. Is it okay to have so many homes? Geographies that make you feel as if you never left but which are foreign all at once. They stick to you like Velcro tabs; the fibres snap together as if they were always destined to but when ripped apart, they breathe a sigh of relief and blessed independence.

You were home to who I was back then. We’re both different now but the DNA remains. I feel the Velcro pull, London Town. 


10 Pieces of Advice for My 11 Year-Old Son

Dear Gabriel,

Welcome to 11 and your pre-teen years! This is the impressionable time when the world comes into sharper focus, when your character (and body) begins to mold from child to teen. It’s also the year when you’ll graduate from elementary to middle school. When you’ll go to sleep-away camp for the first time, take formal art classes at an art museum, and stay home alone more. (It won’t be the year when you get a phone, sorry.)

There’s so much to look forward to in the 12 months ahead, and your papa and I will be here for you every step of the way. But, knowing that your desire to let us physically hold your hand is waning every day, we want to share the following advice to help steer you through the year ahead.

  1. Be yourself:You are the one and only ever you,” says one of my favorite books On The Night You Were Born. There will be days when you will feel down or when criticism from teachers or your peers might make you doubt yourself. But know that you are special, an individual, and hold your head high.
  2. Slow down: Your default mode is fast! Please try to pace yourself so that you can savor all the good times that are coming your way. (Related: don’t race though your homework, please take the time to review and check your work!)
  3. Be kind everyday: You never know how someone else is feeling. Be quick to offer to help, or to listen. Know that your smile or a few words of encouragement can make someone’s day.
  4. Ask questions: Lots of them. Always be curious. There are so many resources to fill in the gaps in your knowledge and even spark new interests.
  5. Be a good friend: Friendship is so much more than a playdate or being in each other’s Minecraft worlds. It means being there for your friends in good times and bad. Listening to them. Sharing with them. Making their needs your priority.
  6. Pursue your passions: While it’s important to try new things, knowing what excites and motivates you is important. Let it guide you.
  7. Try to make good choices (see #2): You already know right from wrong. But silliness, peer pressure and hormones can cloud any pre-teen’s judgement. You are a good, smart kid — so, please, use your head.
  8. Make mistakes: Yes you read that right. We’re going to let you make lots of them. It’s going to suck. But it’s one of the best ways to learn.
  9. Be grateful: Remember that you are extremely fortunate. Don’t take it for granted.
  10. Be satisfied with what you have (see #9): More doesn’t always mean better.

Happy 11th birthday Gabriel – we love you!

Mama and papa

355 Mass Shootings in 2015: America, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself

I’m ashamed of you.

I’m disgusted. I’m sad. I’m mad. I’m weeping as I write this.

This is not a civilized society. We freely (and easily) arm our population so that we can turn and gun each other down with mind-numbing frequency.

This is not a democracy. This is not liberty.

America, you think you are so great. But take a good look at yourself. How can you be a proud nation, and yet so impotent to do what needs to be done? Politicians, you talk a good talk but where’s the conviction, where’s the action? Where are your balls? It’s shameful.

Last year I became an American citizen. After living here for 15 years, and raising a family here, I decided I need a vote. I believed that maybe, just maybe, my vote might make a difference.

Today I’m not so sure. Today I told my husband I don’t want to live in a country that just sits by and lets these godawful things happen to good people.

Screw “thoughts and prayers.” Those are empty words.

Yes, I’m emotional. Yes, I know this is a divisive issue. But this I also know. I cannot stomach it any more.

So I am seriously considering packing my bags and leaving. Because I don’t want to live in a country that has no respect left.

Control and “The Science of Parenthood”


One of the most frustrating parts of parenthood is the assumption that you have control of anything. You know it’s true. I see you over there nodding.

And yet, we keep trying. When my kids were toddlers, my diaper bag would always be stuffed full, ready for every possibly eventuality: extra diapers and underwear, wipes galore, changes of clothes for them, change of clothes for me, wipes galore, first-aid kit, toys, wipes galore, snacks, toys, snack, snacks, more wipes, toys, children’s’ motrin, adult motrin etc, etc. Sometimes I’d actually use them (like the time G picked and ate so many blueberries, washed them down with apple juice and carrot sticks, and ran around and around in the sun and then puked, not once but twice, all over himself and all over the back seat of the car on the drive home.) More often than not, I didn’t need every item in my bag but I felt assured and confident that I was prepared for everything. My husband, on the other hand, would simply scoop up a child and head out – with barely a diaper or a wipe on him and have a perfectly successful outing. Nary a blow-out, projectile barf or low-sugar-induced meltdown. I never understood why that happened. Isn’t it ironic? (Secretly I wished for a spectacularly embarrassing poop incident, but alas.) The laws of probability were rarely on my side.

Whether it was strategizing a feeding schedule that would surely induce an infant to sleep through the night or, even now, figuring out how to inspire bribe motivate a child to assist with the laundry, the sad truth of the matter always is: parents have no/limited control over the outcome.

Because kids.

So when I read the new book “The Science of Parenthood,” created by Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler, I saw myself on every single page. I laughed. I cried. Then I chuckled some more.

Because kids.

The book is chock-full of pithy humor, colorful cartoons and amusing/helpful decision trees, each aiming to decipher and decode the “science” behind the daily irony of life as a parent, the choices we make as we stumble through, trying to make sense of it all. From pregnancy, to the challenges of interacting with our spouses, other kids and other members of the parenting species, the book analyzes the entire spectrum of parenthood through the tongue-in-cheek lenses of biology, chemistry, physics and math. Now, I’m not going to spoil this book for you but I did want to extract a few choice excerpts that spoke to me. Like, directly to me. If you’d have been there, you’d have seen me nodding vigorously, maybe sobbing gently or more likely, convulsing with laughter.

Here’s one from the section on Biology, in the chapter entitled: Post-Birth Conditions Your OB Might Forget to Mention (Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You!):

“Acquired Distraction Disorder: Marked by an impatient Now, what were we talking about?, Acquired Distraction Disorder (A.D.D.) is the progressive loss of the ability to follow a train of thought. A.D.D. typically develops among parents with toddlers who’ve just learned how to run. The adult brain becomes overwhelmed with the strain of excessive multitasking and begins shutting down “nonessential” functions to conserve energy for chasing tiny humans intent on leaping from garden walls and licking electrical outlets. Fortunately, A.D.D. lasts only until middle school, when children stop interacting with their parents altogether.”

Equally amusing was the chapter entitled: Poopology 101: The Gushy, Gassy, and Gooey. I’ll save you the, um, colorful details  but I know you will see yourself on this page. Wait, that sounds bad.

I most definitely identified with the section that served to (ironically) update the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM-V or the “psychiatrists’ bible”):

“Delusions of Launder: The perpetual belief that one day, eventually, the laundry will get “finished.” Symptoms: Moms laboring under this delusion may initially appear upbeat, even enthusiastic, aiming to dominate the heaps of dirty clothes and pee-soaked toddler bedding. But as the laundry piles grow, these moms can sink into a depression as they ruminate on existential questions such as Where does all this laundry come from? and Why is all this laundry here? Fixating on “finishing” the laundry may lead to secondary physical problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, the result of folding endless pairs of teeny-tiny socks and superhero underwear.”

Other highlights to look out for: the Beverage-to-TV Index, the pie chart analysis of where your kids’ food actually goes, the Law of Urinary Dynamics, and the Wintertime Scatter Graph that investigates that annual dilemma “where did all the gloves go?”

And, I’m fairly sure the venn diagram on page 218 pretty much sums up my life right now.

Bottom like: I am no scientist. I’m just a parent, trying to make sense of it all, trying over and over to impose some iota of control over something that is scientifically uncontrollable. “The Science of Parenthood” sums it all up brilliantly. You can buy it for yourself (to reassure you) or for a friend (to reassure him or her they are not alone) over here.

Because kids.

the law of when you kid needs to poop


Today’s Gratitude: Neighbors & Raspberries 

What’s better than freshly-picked raspberries? A big bag of fresh raspberries given to you by a generous neighbor. 


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