Posted by: Leah | November 1, 2014

My new blog

This is by all means not a goodbye.

I will continue writing here, but I have decided to start a separate blog for running as I have gotten quite into it and would like to have a separate platform for that. If you are interested, please read and follow:

http://runhappyjusrrun.wordpress.com/

Posted by: Leah | October 13, 2014

Attitude of Gratutude

It is funny how the nature has a good way of redirecting you from a wrong path. As soon as my workouts have become unbalanced, I have gotten plantar fasciitis, which is the nature’s way to tell me: whoah, whoah – whatchayadoing?

And I had to stop in my tracks and listen.

It is often that I ignore powerful messages and knocks on mydoors, because I know better, but I must admit that I am almost always wrong on that. Today, on Canadian Thanksgiving I am grateful for all messages I receive – positive and negative. They are all a part of my story and my way. I have learned that pausing is not quitting. It is just a way to reset and return to a proper form.

Posted by: Leah | August 1, 2014

Summer Tripping

I came back from NYC three weeks ago. NYC always speaks to me the language that is between us, the rhythm of the city, pulsing sounds, yellow cabs, local crazies, stuffy subway stations… I will sure be back.

This trip however was not only the perfection of “hi, so long, NYC”. I have learned, finally discovered that I am a grown up woman, and there is no turning back.

Stormy skies on the day of my flight there, both in NYC and in Toronto. Delay, cancellation, rebooked for the next flight, delay again. How much longer? Cancelled for the night. You are likely to fly the following day. Unload luggage. Where is my suitcase? WHERE IS MY SUITCASE?

At this point, a previous immature me would burst into tears, throw a tantrum or three. And hell, I had never been in this situation before alone. Things were always taken care for me.

This time in, however, I was calm and composed, booked myself for the first flight to NYC for the following day, located my suitcase (THANKS GOODNESS), learned it was too expensive to stay in an airport hotel, turned around and went home, called cab for the following early morning. Everything organized. No panic. Things happen. Breathe in and out.

The difficulty of being an adult is there is no somebody will take care of it. I have to make decisions, and I will be held responsible. The beauty of being an adult is that these are my decisions, my emotions and my life, and I have a say in them. ALL.

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”
John C. Maxwell

Posted by: Leah | June 14, 2014

Running Progress

Running is one thing I did not believe I would ever be interested in. As a child, I somehow was never able to run and not be out of breath. I was a chubby kid. As an adult, having lost all that weight, I was still out of breath, and that WAS discouraging.

I tried to follow couch to 5K programs. They discouraged me too. They all suggested I run for 1 minute, and walk for 1 minute, and there is no way I could run for 1 minute without losing my breath.

This time in, however, I took a different approach. I decided I am going to run however long I last, and then walk. Surprisingly, I quickly progressed to running longer and longer, and now my runs are about 70% running and 30% walking. I am mastering running uphill now.

Running is very challenging for me. It is a different type of endurance I need for running, and I am working on it. I love being challenged, but also remember I have to sometimes go easy on myself. 🙂

This all has proved once again, and my body is my best teacher, that following some kind of program without tuning in to what my body can do is not going to lead me anywhere close to my goals.

A person who does not think for himself
does not think at all.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde
(1854-1900, Irish writer and poet)

Posted by: Leah | May 25, 2014

Unbearable Lightness of Being

I have always considered keeping in touch as my strength. I always follow up with people, check up on them how they are doing, make sure we stay in touch, go for catch up coffees.

Recently though, when my time has become even more precious asset, I have realized that keeping in touch itself is a full-time job, that some people who you have grown out of occupy all your time, space and emotional resources but give nothing in return.

I have started learning to let go and reconsider my relationships on whether they are mutually awesome or one-sided, and whether I am a giver or a recipient. Being a recipient only is not cool either. And as I go through my connections and let go of some, I feel more lightness entering my life. If you are longing for a change, you cannot change your life without changing how you see and do things.

If there is no space for something new, it won’t find its way into my routine and life. Newness needs sparkling floors, an empty desk and a chair. It needs space to settle in.

Happy Sunday, my friends.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ”by Anthony Robbins

Posted by: Leah | May 11, 2014

On Strength and Weight Loss Movements

Just this past Friday, I saw a girl in my moksha class, who was visibly struggling with the series not only because of the heat but also she was not used to exercise. I chatted with her after a class for a bit (this is how I know!).

I recognized me 3 years ago in her struggles. My only hope that the challenges she experienced on Friday will push her to do more and will not  discourage her at the beginning of the fitness journey.

This is me about 5 years ago. Probably not at my heaviest but approaching it:

 

october 2009 036

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was recently divorced and found my refuge in food. Mostly in baked goods. My slim waistline was quickly expanding.

The wake up call however was only 3 years after the picture was taken. I climbed stairs, and realized that I was out of breath and perspiring. At the age of 31. That sure did not feel so good to me.

I took a long hard look at myself, my exercise, my baked goods diet and started my journey.

This is also me, just recently, 30 lbs lighter and more athletic.

 

leah after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel stronger, not only because of my exercise routine but also because I was able to take control of my life and my diet.

There are all kinds of movements out here: bootcampers, cardio and diet, no excuses, embrace yourself for who you are. but at the end of the day I know one thing it is unlikely anybody is really willing to embrace inability to climb stairs or walk 1 mile without sweating like there is no tomorrow.

I do not have to be size 2,  and will never be and embrace all my curves, but I refuse to feel weak.

Excuses, I have them plenty on any given day. I like to eat gelato and Lindt chocolate too. But everything in moderation.

Most importantly, I am committed to make positive changes to my body, mind and spirit. As I reflect back on perspiring after climbing set of stairs me, I am grateful for that realization. Sometimes the hardest truth helps the most.

I have lots of fitness goals for this summer: getting back into running, improving my strength training routine, kicking even more my yoga. Join me if you wish. It is more fun together.

Posted by: Leah | May 10, 2014

Free Soul. Running.

Wow, it has been a while since I last posted here. Commitments and work and school, and happy moment and heartbreak flew by so quickly.

I have been thinking and reflecting lately  on how some people weigh you down, and the world feels so heavy after being with them, as though I have taken all their worries and carried them with me. But yet there are other people, who lift you up with their souls and beautiful smiles.

” The free soul is rare but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good when you are  near or with them”. Charles Bukowski

I experience being completely free and flying when I dance. And when I run. But until 3 weeks ago I was so sure I was not able to run. Hip and knee injuries, plus IT Band Syndrome – all on my left limit me. I was so sure I was not able to run that then my yoga instructor told me I most definitely could run and should run, I was shocked to hear that my limitations could be at least moved if not removed.

But I decided to try. I bought new running shoes, which I absolutely love and they work so well for my injured left side.

photo

 

 

And I ran. I cannot say that I was running like a wind. But I was running after 4 bloody years of not. And that felt really really good. I will like to be sharing more of my running journey with you 🙂

This spring has been so slow to come. I think the ice storm had something to do with slow appearance of leaves on trees, but I was monitoring the progress:

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think we are almost there. And it is finally warm. And life feels good again.

I wish you a beautiful weekend, full of spring weather, free souls and goodness.

Happy Saturday.

 

 

Posted by: Leah | February 23, 2014

Crispy Not Deep Fried Tofu

I have been planning this post for a while, but today I am a little distracted.

teamcanada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YEAH!!!!! Team Canada!!!!!! Gold in hockey for both women and man!!!!!!!! GO Canada GO!!!!!

Now we return to regular scheduled programming.

I have recently realized that even though I work out and aim to have a clean diet, I have started to eat more junk than I would like to.

I used to be a vegetarian, but started back with fish. I realize being vegetarian does not equal a healthy diet at all, but I decided to go back to my vegetarian diet, and one of my challenges is not to stick with  eating the same thing.

Tofu has always been my challenge. I do not deep fry anything, and if I do not, tofu comes out mushy and disgusting.

But I have finally found the way to make it crispy without deep frying. That is FREEZING it.

Here we go:

take tofu, remove extra liquid with paper towels, cut it in stripes, put in sandwich clear bags and put in the freezer for at least 4 hours.

When ready to cook, boil water, put frozen tofu in, and take it out once it floats.

Take a frying pan, add olive oil, cut tofu in cubes, add some spice (if you wish) and brown it.

Easy.

Crispy.

And delicious.

tofu

Posted by: Leah | January 12, 2014

Power of Silence

I must admit, this January the world seems a bit of a burden on my shoulders. Everything feels heavier and more difficult that it normally is. Perhaps, this is this year winter – from – 40C to + 6C and all the way back with the ice storm, frost quakes and power outages, perhaps this is just me, a bit more tired than I would like to be.

One thing I know  – sometimes hateful or mean words are about to get out of my mouth. I get very close to snapping at people or lecturing them when something does not happen the way I imagine or planned. I get really tempted to tell them off, or explode in a pharmacy because they do not have the meds I have been prescribed. I roll my eyes at people who are too loud on the subway and curse at neighbours who do not shovel their driveways. Newbies at the gym annoy me too.

Yet then I stop. I do not know what kind of a day my friend who I am about to lecture on the importance of punctuality is having. somebody who is too loud on the subway, may be excited about something good. I mean really GOOD. It is my fault that I have procrastinated refilling my prescription. Neighbours may be out of town. And newbies at the gym? Well, I was them not such a long  time ago.

I stop and count my blessings. And I practice silence. Each and every urge to snap or lecture I counteract with considering: do I really want to do it? Do I really mean to do it? and how about I keep quiet for 10 minutes and see if I still want to say what I am about to.

The heaviness of the world too will pass, but relationships may never be the same.

And I stop, and breathe, and keep quiet, and write how lucky I am and continue with my day, and stop again, and thank the universe and G-d for how blessed I am.

Happy Sunday, friends.

Posted by: Leah | January 1, 2014

2014. Reload.

I gotta tell you – the last ten days of December were rough for many people in Toronto. A major ice storm hit the city. A layer of thick ice accumulated on trees, and they fell, and fell some more on power lines. At the height of the storm 300,00 hydro customers were without power, which is approximated 800,000 or may be even more people. One residential building if without meters in each apartment is one customer. My household was included.

Now I realize that I was lucky. I did not have power for only 45 hours, and I am blessed to have friends who would have taken me in if that continued longer. Having no power in Toronto means no heat. In winter.  Power restorations despite the efforts of Toronto Hydro and crews helping it did take time. Some people were without power for more than a week.

I must say I got a major attitude readjustment. Before, I would bitch about the city being closed for Xmas, and Xmas lights and nothing to do. Now, I am just happy and blessed to have heat, and to see Xmas lights. Being reminded about how fragile our modern life is and how powerful the nature is, is very refreshing.

Yesterday night, I decided to do something very different. I attended a New Year Eve event in a local hot yoga (Moksha yoga) studio. As I was going to the studio through the crowds of already drunk people, I will be honest I was doubting my choices, but as I stepped on my mat in a very crowded studio and started to take deep breaths in and out in a warm studio, I realized that WAS the place for me to be that night. To readjust, stretch out of my limits and comfort zone, have a chance to breathe and mark a beginning of a new year by making a choice to be mindful and present, and to be grateful for a year with its mistakes, anger, happiness and smiles.

The best gift for myself ever. Plus I have discovered a taste to a powder matcha tea. But that is a completely different story.

Happy New Year, my friends. May this year you will be kind to yourself and others, be true to your dreams and do one thing a day that scares you or others.

Posted by: Leah | December 21, 2013

December Cheer

I had a pretty blah month. The Toronto winter weather gets me – I get cold, miserable and whiny; practical people get me some more. I am somewhat practical myself: I go to bed on time if I have to work the next day and make a grocery list, but seriously planning your life up to a dot and trying to rationalize relationship decisions. I ain’t in for that for sure.

Life is short. Dance in the rain. Spend time with who you love. Drink wine (or water). And if you do not want me in your life, I really do not need to know why. Seriously. Do not rationalize that.

But then there were magical things, like my Hannukah this year – I was ready and enjoyed lighting candles and spending time with my friends.

Hot yoga. This is saving me from my winter misery. The best thing ever.

And yesterday. I was tired, cranky and sleepy at the same time and got on the street car. The driver coughed: people around me shouted: Good evening driver and clapped.

I looked around. Are they crazy or what?

Then the driver went over the rules: It is Friday and miserable out, we are all tired and it is almost Xmas. when I cough: say: good evening driver and clap for me.

Good times. We drilled and practiced. Then we moved to saying: Good evening passenger and clapping.

It was priceless. By the time I had reached my stop, I was giggly and all warm and fuzzy inside.

It does not take much. Go ahead. Spread December cheer. Consider that me tagging you. You are next.

 

Posted by: Leah | November 16, 2013

November

Time is slipping through my fingers these days. I make big plans, but achieve nothing. In a way, this is a perfect state of being, and doing just the way I crave it so much, and yes Mother Nature helped me in that and presented me with a cold last week, so I had an official excuse of why I was not doing anything at all.

But here are some moments I captured, and would like to share with you.

Apples:

apples apples3

Trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake and gorgeousness there, and yes they have 365 days a year Xmas store 🙂

fall

winter

A friendly pumpkin at home.

pumpkin

More pumpkin! A pumpkin sugar cookie from Starbucks.

pumkin1

And my rediscovered addiction to Moomins!

The-Moomins

(the image source is http://www.blog.homeandkids.co.uk/tag/moomins/)

Somewhere in Finland, I am pretty sure Moominvalley is hidden far far away close to a lake.

November has always been a challenging month for me, cold and dreary with little sunshine – not exactly fall and not winter. In. Between. This November, I am trying to do better, to be better and stop hibernating.

Posted by: Leah | November 10, 2013

Sweet Potato Burritos with no Beans

Living with multiple food sensitivities sure makes your life super interesting. I have to navigate between – I can’t eat, and I do not like eating, and the list in between is not that long.

When I saw this recipe at allrecipes.com:

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Addictive-Sweet-Potato-Burritos/Detail.aspx

I really wanted to give it a try, but my body strongly disagrees with beans, so I had to change ingredients.

This is how I changed it:

(makes five portions)

Canned corn  – 150 grams

Quinoa – 80 grams

Mozzarella – 25 grams

Two medium sized sweet potatoes

Two table spoons of ready made hot salsa

black pepper

salt

One tea spoon of olive oil

How to:

Make quinoa – use two parts of water and one part of quinoa, bring water to boiling on stove and cook on medium heat until water is absorbed.

Bake or microwave sweet potatoes until very soft.

Take cooked quinoa, add corn from a can, mash sweet potatoes in and add them, grind mozzarella in, and mix it all together, add two tablespoons of hot salsa, one teaspoon of olive oil and black pepper, mix together and warm in a deep skillet.

Warm a large tortilla and wrap the mixture in.

Enjoy!

burritos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back, I find sweet potato really overpowers quinoa, but quinoa adds protein, so I may repeat the recipe exactly the same.

One large tortilla is about 190 calories, and the no beans burrito mix is approximately 160 calories, 3 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein per one portion.

Posted by: Leah | October 5, 2013

October. Inspire Me.

I love summer. I love leaving my place and feeling hot humid air, warm nights and summer vacations.

I also like fall, the early part of it, September-October with crisp air and colorful fall foliage.

My favourite fall activities include:

Pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. I look forward to it every year.

PSL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apples, sweet flavorful Ontario apples. I used to only bake them and have as cider 🙂 But now I am back into apple eating too.

apples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My birthday is in September,

and this year I have received one of the best birthday gifts I have ever received.

The t-shirt reads : Because Dance is My Life. So True.

Tshirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My new Bento box addiction.

bento

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My October resolutions are:

– stretching. Literally and stretching my limits, comfort zone and dreams. I grow only by stretching and allowing myself reach for more, dream to do more, meet more new people and get inspired more.

– dancing. Dance is my meditation, hobby, the most favourite thing to do and life. Music moves me, and if it does the same to you, please join me.

– friends time and experiencing fall colours. Do I need to say more? 🙂

I hope October has many wonderful things in store for us.

Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.  ~Carol Bishop Hipps, “October,”In a Southern Garden, 1995

 

Posted by: Leah | September 28, 2013

Listening

I am a very visual talker. I need to maintain an eye contact when talking, and if somebody does not look at me, I even sometimes stop talking to make sure I am being listened.

Have you ever talked to somebody who listens really well? As a member of Toastmasters, (here is the link to my home club WCB Toastmasters the best Toastmasters club in Toronto for sure http://wcbtoasmasters.toastmastersclubs.org/ ) I am surprised that we spend that much time speaking and less time learning to listen.

Good listening skills can take us far. I recall the first time I have encountered a really good listener – I had the impression that whatever I say was VERY important, the person listened carefully and not only sid u-huh, yeah but I asked good questions, how I felt about it and what my overall experience was. It was amazing.

As I am learning now to be a better listener, I have developed my own strategy to approaching it. It includes:

– switching off my personal opinions and judgement, so I am not tempted to judge as I hear the story

– listening carefully and trying to also hear the message behind it – what feelings and intentions behind a situation are

– showing my interest and asking questions

– not interrupting

– and yes maintaining an eye contact

I do find I still have a long way to go to be an awesome listener, but these tips help me in my pursuit.

Posted by: Leah | August 3, 2013

On Caring

I used to have firm principles in life, such as – never give money in the street to homeless people. They will buy drugs or booze.

The first time I gave in, was when I saw a homeless man taking out anything that could be remotely edible out of garbage at a subway station, squatting next to his treasures and eating them from the floor. I do not know about you, but I am not able to watch this kind of scene without going into a mild heart attack and checking if I have any cash on me to give it to him.

After that, I started to give the money in the street every now and then – if I felt I could relate to a person I would give a dollar or two.  Today, I was stopped in the street by a guy who was asking for extra change to buy food. He looked extremely nice,  and he was sober, and I thought well why not, after all bad things happen to all kinds of people. Then, he said something to me that resonated to how I feel about relationships and human interaction: “Sometimes it only takes to make an eye contact with somebody and stop for a second to check on them, and they will feel like they belong somewhere.”

I used to think that somebody was not Jewish, or an immigrant, or a woman, or a gay, or a senior citizen or youth etc etc etc that is why they could not understand certain struggles. Now I think it is so much simpler. It only takes to care, and if you care you at least will attempt to understand.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around”. Leo Buscaglia

Posted by: Leah | July 28, 2013

Book Review – The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

storyteller

I will be honest: I have a love-hate relationship with Jodi Picoult books. Sometimes, I feel emotionally manipulated by her choice of topics, and sometimes I am in love with writing and the depth of characters.

When I started reading the book I did not know what I was getting myself into. The book is about Holocaust, and I have been trying for a little while to avoid books about Holocaust. I have read a way too many.

The book starts easy by describing a grief support the main character, Sage is attending and sets up a plot. I am almost always able to tell where Jodi Picoult intends to go with her plot, but not this time in. She had me guessing this time in. Sage, her job in the bakery, friendship with Mary, ex-nun, Sage’s sex affair with a married guy, friendship with a Nazi, Josef, Leo, an FBI agent, and Sage’s grandma, Minka, the storyteller.

The book tackles a very heavy topic – forgiveness. I, myself, am the worst when it comes to it. I tend to eliminate not to forget, and it was very interesting for me to see how characters wrestle with the idea of forgiveness in the book.

When Sage decided to turn in to FBI, her new friend Josef, who confessed to her he was an SS-officer during the war, she had to go through many conversations with him, and get to know his story, and then as a result of that the story of her grandmother, who is a Holocaust survivor.

As the story unfolds, I get to ask myself many times – what is forgiveness? How can it be done? what is it in the characters that has me so interested in them?

I loved how the book took the whole new perspective of WWII from the point of view of German youth, being brainwashed and pressured into doing something they could not imagine doing a day before, and then crossing lines and boundaries – one or ten at a time and transitioning to completely different existence. How can you say “never again” if you do not understand how this starts? The book helps to understand.

I am really happy that I got to read this book just before the month of Elul starts, the month that prepares us. Jews, for High Holy Days and when we ask for forgiveness and do our homework.

The book is a must read.

Some quotes from it:

..what he did was wrong. He doesn’t deserve your love. But he does deserve your forgiveness, because otherwise he will grow like a weed in your heart until it’s choked and overrun. The only person who suffers, when you squirrel away all that hate is you…forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, you’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me. It’s saying, you don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.

“It doesn’t matter what it is that leaves a hole inside you. It just matters that it’s there.”

“I don’t believe in God. But sitting there, in a room full of those who feel otherwise, I realize that I do believe in people. In their strength to help each other, and to thrive in spite of the odds, I believe that the extraordinary trumps the ordinary, any day. I believe that having something to hope for — even if it’s just a better tomorrow — is the most powerful drug on this planet.”

“That’s the paradox of loss: How can something that’s gone weigh us down so much?”

Posted by: Leah | July 10, 2013

On Being and Doing and Being Flexible

I am just back from the vacation. In New York City. The most perfect and the most of everything I did not expect. You know how if you really want to go somewhere, you have all those pictures in your head of what it is going to be, how it is going to feel, and what you are going to experience?

Yup, so I had them, those pictures but then when everything started to be a little different – from my hotel transferring me to another one (literally two steps though), and me missing July 4th fireworks and the hotel being a bit further from Manhattan than I expected, and then for a second I even became upset. Come on now, how about all my perfect pictures and ideas, and most importantly PLANS?!

Yet then, I realized – I could not really help that, if things were not going to happen the way I WANTED them to happen, nothing I could do, and the following day I saw this in The Jewish Museum:

ny2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there, I just enjoyed the state of being, the one I was longing for such a long time. Sometimes, I find when there is so much DOING in our lives, I can’t fully embrace just BEING, without rushing or thinking I only have one hour and then I need to get going, running, rushing and doing.

And here are some of my pictures of being:

ny3 ny4 ny7 ny9 ny10 ny12 ny13

ny14

Truly, “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” – Joseph Campbell

Posted by: Leah | May 26, 2013

One Tribe

I know somebody’s comments went a tad too far when I feel a sudden urge to debrief them with several people over several days trying to prove THEY (not me) were wrong. I was right; they were wrong. Let’s discuss.

To cut a long story short: I was told my opinion did not count because I was not born into a particular culture. Wha? I thought, look at me, yes, exactly look at me – you see how wonderful I am? Dig that? That much hard work I have done too. HUH. Now look at yourself. Not THAT wonderful.

Of course, I get it. I am a grown up. An adult. We have our opinions and perceptions. Where we come from often defines what and how we think. That is valid. Was I born say in a far far away land, I would possibly be thinking like most far away people, talking like them, moving like them and making friends with people like me only. We are cosmopolitan though. Citizens of the world. Multicultural Canadians, embracing cultures, languages, foods and experiences. This far away stuff is cool but seriously huh so out of date.

Which brings me to the point. Sometimes I desperately feel the need to say to somebody: hell, you do not get  me because you are not me, you are not Jewish, your heart does not ache the same my does, your soul does not transcend when your hear traditional music, your mood does not descend thinking about all heartache and pain of my people.  You do not get it, and you will never get it. I do feel the urge to say exactly that. I even did that a couple of times!

Now I stop though. I think. I reflect. I think. At the end of the day how do I know? They may feel the same pain I do being non-Jews; they may be rejoicing and crying with me, and they may feel it even stronger.

We are the one my friends. One tribe. Humanity. I shall never forget that.

“We be of one blood, ye and I, ..my kill shall be thy kill if ever thou art hungry. (Mowgli)

Posted by: Leah | May 25, 2013

On Celebrating the Differences

Right about this time of the year, I now get profoundly sad. I terribly miss my beautiful friend, Leah. Leah died almost two years ago, and life will never be the same. Yes, I get the basic concept of loss – you never completely get rid of the emptiness inside you, but you learn to live with it.

There is more to that, though. Leah was my best and the most cherished teacher. Whenever I am faced with a religious dilemma, or uninspired to do something, I ask myself what Leah would have done. She taught me how to believe in something with all my heart, how to celebrate life, how to disagree and how to be different.

We WERE very different. She was an Orthodox Jew, and I was not. She had strong opinions about LGBT-Jews, and I did not. And we disagreed, with passion, clashing our hearts over observances, gay issues and Israel.During those times, I learned that differences and disagreements only add to our life if we know how to disagree and to be different with tact, respect and love. I learned that I do not have to have an identical twin thinking exactly the same as a friend. I miss our fights. Nobody else is able to fight with the same strength, passion and love as Leah did.

And now, whenever I hear addressed to me or to somebody else: you will never get it because you are.. or you are not; you won’t be able to walk the walk, to talk the talk or dance the dance, I always always think how wrong it is, how being different brings so much beauty to our lives and how getting to know and experiencing somebody else’s walk, talk or dance changes your life forever. And then, I feel the emptiness creeping my heart for a second or longer.

The most wondrous experiences often enter our lives unnoticed and unappreciated at times, but when we lose them, life is changed forever.

I so terribly miss you, Leah.

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