Monday, September 1, 2014

Books of July

I've read some interesting books this month.

A beautiful book, the best I've read this year so far.  Parallel stories during World War 2 about a blind French girl and an orphan German boy and their experiences during the war.  A+ for sure.

I was so looking forward to this book in his series about Israeli spy/assassin/art restorer Gabriel Allon, but I was disappointed.  About midway the story suddenly changed and I felt like I was reading a different book.  I'll go back and read some of his earlier books which I've heard were much better. B-.

When I noticed an excerpt of this book in Texas Monthly, I was intrigued.  Being a graduate of UT and a native of Austin, I remember the shooting from the Tower in almost the same way I remember other milestone days.  The book follows three people who were on campus that horrific day so I expected it to be a deep psychological novel, but it really wasn't.  The story was superficial but after a while I got interested and the final third held my attention.  I'd give it B+

The story of a young woman from an Orthodox Jewish family whose husband disappears and leaves her chained to the marriage because only men can divorce.  One day she stops on the street where an artist is selling his work.  He paints her picture, and this starts her on a new life.  She opens a gallery, eventually finds a lover and  ignores the restrictions of the Jewish community.  The author's descriptions are lovely, the main character only moderately likeable.  B+

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Top Eleven Trips for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood #4

If you're already a widow, this tip is too late.  (It was too late for me.)  I added this tip when I was speaking to a women's group because 50% of all married couples will someday lose their spouse. Keep that in mind.

I imagine most of you have some responsibilities in the marriage and your spouse has different ones, and often never the twain shall meet.  I strongly recommend, however, that you learn your spouse's jobs and switch places occasionally.  Then you won't be left like me, totally clueless when it came to my husband's chores.  I had to learn them afterward.  (No, that's not me changing the tire.  I wish.)  If you can't manage the new responsibilities, then hopefully you can hire someone to help.  I once passed a storefront office in New England called Rent-a-Husband.  I checked to see if they had

an office in Houston, but they didn't so I hired a handyman.  Actually I've hired various handypersons and haven't found the perfect one yet.

Good luck and take care.  Tip #5 will be posted next Thursday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quote for the Week

There would seem to be nothing more obvious, more tangible and palpable than the present moment. And yet it eludes us completely.  All the sadness of life lies in that fact.
        Milan Kundera

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge #1: Creativity

Isn't the Ice Bucket Challenge the coolest (No pun intended.) fund raiser you've ever heard of?  You do know it's a fund raiser, don't you?  It has raised almost $50 million for ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The "take the icy bath or write a check" was not an idea of the ALS Association.  It was, allegedly, launched by a young
ALS  sufferer named Peter Frates, who challenged athletes in the Boston area to take an ice bath to fund research on ALS and aid for ALS patients.  And then it seems the whole country joined in, from President George W. Bush to Jimmy Fallon to LeBron James.  I've been listening to a group of CD's on creativity from The Great Courses, and I think this is one of the cleverest and most creative fund raising ideas I've heard of, much more so than the typical "walk for..."   Yes, an article in Slate suggested it's simply a spin-off from those "jump-in-an-icy-lake" or "keep-your-hand-in-ice-water" challenges, but I think it's much more fun.

As for ALS research, I recently learned that Hadassah Hospital in Israel is experimenting with using stem cells in treating ALS, and one of their patients may be the first sufferer of this terrible disease to be cured.  Stand by for more info when it becomes available.

P.S. Would you choose the bucket of ice water or a check to ALS or both?  I'm afraid I'm wimpy enough to just write the check.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Top Eleven Tips for Widows/Widowers: Tip #3

When you're feeling overwhelmed with sadness, therapy may be the answer.
There are various options.  You may find solace in a group of people who are in the same situation as you.  Grief groups can be found at churches/synagogues, at hospice programs, at hospitals.  There are grief groups for people whose loved ones have died of a particular disease.  I found a leukemia/lymphoma grief support group after my husband died.  One caveat:  your goal in seeking such a group should be to come to terms with your loss and "graduate" from the group.  This doesn't mean you won't see the friends you've made there any more.  One plus about groups is that you may find friends to socialize with outside of the group.

If you're not a "group person," you may want to seek individual counseling.  That's what I did.  I began at the height of my husband's illness when I was so sad and stressed, I could hardly function.  That helped me then and in the time of transition when I first was widowed.  You can get referrals from your family doctor, from friends, from your spouse's doctor.  Just be sure you and your therapist are a good match.  If you don't feel comfortable during your first meeting, find someone else.

If nothing else, think about book therapy.  There are tons of books on widowhood--memoirs, advice for managing daily life, coping with grief--I probably read them all, or anyway, a lot of them.  I have a huge collection now of books about widowhood, and I'm always surprised when I'm lecturing and ask if people have read any helpful books and I get a lot of no's.  I guess it was natural for me to seek books.  No matter what stage of life I've been in--parenting, step-parenting, transitions, loss of a parent--I've always looked for books.  Some of my favorites on widowhood are:
     Widow to Widow
     It Must Have Been Moonglow
     The Five Ways of Grieving
     The Widow's Story

And no, I didn't include The Year of Magical Thinking--it is not one of my favorites.

Take care, and stop back next week for Tip #4.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Quote for the Week

To cease to exist creatively is but little different from ceasing to exist.
        Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Scams New and Old

Do you get calls offering to lower your interest rate on your credit card?  Once I asked for a live person and he immediately wanted to know my balance and my credit card number.  Like, Duh.  When I asked since he was calling about my credit card why didn't he already know the number, of course he hung up.

Lately I started getting calls from a person listed on my caller ID.  The first time, I answered, then I stopped but I noticed the call back number was only a few digits from mine, so one afternoon I called and left a message to quit calling me about credit card interest.  No luck.  I called again and left a message that I would start calling her.  I called a third time and she answered, said she'd heard my messages and had no idea how her number was used because she didn't work for a credit card company.  I still get calls from that number and sometimes from an out of state call that has the very same phone number.  So annoying.  You're wondering why I'm not on the do-not-call list.  I finally got around to registering after I got a weird call on my cell.

The call caller started by saying he was calling from the Treasury Department,  That got my attention.  Then he said I had been selected to receive a government grant of $8400 which I could use for anything except gambling and drugs and I would receive this grant in an hour by Western Union.  When I asked if he was from the government why did he sound like he was from a foreign country, he immediately hung up.  That must be a new scam because I've never heard it before, but it seemed eerie, like what did they want in return for this marvelous grant and who would fall for it?  I hope no one does and hopefully, now that I'm back on the do-not-call registry I won't get any more weird calls.

Stop by on Thursday for my #3 tip for widows/widowers.

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