January 30, 2018

Gam Ze L'Tovah

Yes, it's a foot. In fact, it's my foot. It's my foot adorned with a tattoo. I love my tattoo. I didn't think I would ever get one. My body was an "unblemished temple" and I couldn't imagine putting a permanent mark anywhere on my body. It was ultimately a swift 180 degree turn when the time came. 
In 2014, I decided I needed to have a daily affirmation to help me remember purpose and plan. My daily affirmation became Gam Ze L'Tovah. Gam Ze L'Tovah in English means This Too Is For The Good. I chanted and repeated and chanted and repeated but it just wasn't enough. One morning I awoke with a half remembered dream, a dream of art, color, memory, and joy, a dream where The words Gam Ze L'Tovah surrounded, encircled, and danced around my body. At that moment, I knew that I needed to put my affirmation on my body, in a place where it would be seen by me and others daily. 
But why Gam Ze L'Tovah? What does it mean to me?

  • This Too Is For The Good-I truly believe that even in my darkest moments, light exists. I truly believe that even when my heart aches there is something good brewing, something that will change me or someone else in the process or even change process.
  • This Too Is For The Good-I truly believe that I am only given what I can handle. Sometimes I don't handle. Sometimes I sit and do nothing and nothing changes and nothing gets better. But when I look and focus and remember Gam Ze L'Tovah and I stand tall, I Can Handle, even if it looks totally different than I expected.
  • This Too Is For The Good-I truly believe that hindsight is sometimes the best sight. There may be no understanding of the why in the moment. It may only become clear as time passes. It may only make sense when we are older and look back. I use my affirmation as a way to surrender, as a reminder that purpose and plan may not be immediately evident.
Every morning when I shower and put on my shoes, I see these words painted quite beautifully on my left foot. They remind me to center, focus, and approach each moment with the belief that whatever happens, Gam Ze L'Tovah!

January 21, 2018


The word change as a verb means make or become different. As a noun it means the act or instance of making or becoming different. What does that mean exactly? Does that mean that the simplest change will transform me, that I will become different? I pondered this question at length. First, I thought about the big things that transformed me, the things I can easily say happened and I became different.

  • I left a small town in Indiana, Elwood to be exact, and moved to the metropolis of Miami. I would never be the same. I learned that it's possible to live in a place and be anonymous. It's possible to be alone when surrounded by others. I learned what the word stranger really means. And it was exhilarating and refreshing.
  • I walked into a synagogue and realized that my soul had always been Jewish. I would never be the same. The bits and pieces of my childhood religion that didn't make sense to me were the bits and pieces that didn't exist in Judaism. My heart opened, every piece fell into place, and I soared.
  • I had a home birth, a birth that instantly confirmed that I too wanted to follow in the footsteps of every birth attendant that came before me. I would never be the same. I could feel this aching in my bones. I waited patiently until my children grew and the time was right and midwifery school made sense. I ran and jumped and practically somersaulted into my new life.

Then there are the things that at first look seemed to be everyday and ordinary but in the end I definitely became different.

  • I walked into a party and met a funny man and that was that. I left. We didn't exchange numbers. We didn't plan coffee or tea. We didn't make a date. Nothing. But several weeks later when he tracked me down and asked me out, I would never be the same. I never looked back. We will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in February.
  • When I had small children at home, I volunteered as a La Leche League leader. I answered multiple calls a day. Many calls were similar and sometimes I felt as if I was just reading from a script and not making much of a difference. I never knew the outcome. I saw a snippet of their lives and usually never heard back from them. Fast forward to the checkout line in Publix. As I was talking to the cashier, the person behind me asked, "Are you Mary Harris?". When I said yes, she said she recognized my voice and that my words helped her through a very hard time. I would never be the same. Even the smallest words can make a difference.
  • A friend asked me to speak about midwifery at a career fair at the local elementary school. I talked to many different classes that day. The talks were short. There were a few questions, the kids moved on and another group sat down. Some of them were collecting business cards. They turned it into a game and were trading them as if they were gold. I had fun and the day ended. Two years later, I received a phone call from someone requesting an interview appointment. When at my office I was shown a ragged old A Loving Start business card. I was told that the business card was pulled from the drawer in the child's room by loving hands. The card was handed over with these words, " I think this will be the best for you and the baby". I would never be the same. Even our littlest ears can hear.
Then there are the "ordinary" things we do. The things that allow us to grow and become different and transform slowly, constantly, and continually each and every day.

  • Every time you hold a child's hand you grow.
  • Every time you bring soup to a sick friend you become different.
  • Every time you hold your words, take a deep breath, and speak patiently you are transformed.
After all this pondering, yes, I do believe the simplest change will and does transform me and I do believe that I will and do become different. Right now I'm taking a moment just before sleep to look through my entire day and acknowledge the obvious, the not so obvious, and the ordinary moments that transformed me and made me different today.

January 20, 2018

Good Midwestern Stock

I've been thinking a lot about my grandma these last few nights since Friday night was the anniversary of her death. She lived to a ripe old age of 97. She was feisty, fantastic, and I loved her dearly.
My Great Grandma Nancy Ellen Elizabeth Owen Georgel (wow, so many names) was born in 1901 in a small midwestern town where she was the eldest of 7 daughters. The same small town where her family had lived for generations. It was a very different world, an extremely different world. When she was born :

  • there were few cars. The Ford Model T wasn't mass produced until 1908.
  • there were no passenger planes. The first demonstration flight occurred in 1914.
  • there was no phone in her house. Most households didn't have phones until after 1907.
  • there was no penicillin. Its antibiotic properties weren't recognized until 1928 and it wasn't commercially available until 1938.  

  • the Civil War was a recent memory to her elders. It had just ended on May 13, 1865.
  • World War I hadn't happened yet. It lasted from July 28,1914 - November 11, 1918.
  • the Great Depression wouldn't come until 1929.
  • World War II was a far off conflict that wouldn't start until September 1, 1939.

She also:

  • buried three of her four adult children before she died.
  • lived to have great great grandchildren.
  • traveled the US picking fruit and veggies off and on from age 57-62.
  • watched her great granddaughter graduate from college, something she wasn't able to do because of family beliefs and circumstances.
 The world changed around her and she embraced it. Being of good midwestern stock, she stayed strong and persevered. She kept going and rocked on. I think of her strength and my grandma's strength and mom's strength every time a challenge comes my way. I own my good midwestern stock and rock on. Every change and every challenge is a reminder that historically we are strong in my matriarchy and that CHANGE is just an invitation to grow.

January 19, 2018

Why so many changes?

Well, here it goes. My very first post. Not my very first post of 2018. My very first post ever. I'm always a little skittish about putting my feelings into writing but decided this was a good year to start. I decided to take the bull by the horns and make some changes I want this year. The last few years have been full of challenges beyond my control and even though I'm sure I will be brought more of these challenges I am embracing change in a proactive way.  So many changes have occurred already.

I have done all of this in an attempt to get my voice heard. A way to be an advocate, an educator, and a teacher and in the process I know I will learn from others and grow. I hope to inspire and be inspired, to teach and be taught, and to give and to receive. I am looking forward to sharing with you as each new change happens. I hope to embrace each one with zest and gusto and come out a CHANGED person on the other side.

Come celebrate with me on Sunday January 28th from 3-6 at Wynwood Yard. We are coming together to celebrate the launch of my new website with music, good food, and great company.