Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reader's Response to "Twelve Items or Less"

In case you missed reading the previous blog entry, just scroll down below for a quick read. I am not the only one who has had such experiences, as noted in this response from Teresa Bevins, Clinical Social Worker at UVA Medical Center Pediatric Clinic.

In case there are some new readers of this blog, please know that we are deeply involved with a non-religious, nonprofit public charity which was originated to serve unmet needs for patients and families who come to the UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. Teresa is the coordinator for our on-going food project for caregivers in her clinic and for wider distribution throughout the social worker network in the hospital.

“Dear Elisheva,

Yes, I have experienced this many times over my 30 years as a social worker. I also experience at the hospital the same thing when non-English speaking families struggle to tell the cafeteria workers what they want to eat, or their embarrassment of not having money to eat. It is times like this, the blessings of Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS) enable me to feed these loving parents and to reassure them through the interpreter that it is okay to ask for help. I hear frequently “Gracias,” or “Thank you,” when they realize they will be fed. Please accept my gratitude for all you and IHS do for those with the least.


If anyone else has experienced an opportunity for an act of kindness, with how you or another responded, please do relate for sharing.

Blessings…Rev. Elisheva Clegg

Friday, October 22, 2010

Twelve Items or Less .....

That’s what the sign says on at least one check-out lane at most grocery stores. It’s that aisle where many with only one item wait while encountering those in front of them with a basket nearly half full. It is the lane which is destined to create frustration.

I would like to bring to your attention an event which happened to me in the last twenty-four hours. It happened in the “12 items or less” check-out lane at the local market.

Perhaps you are unaware that this particular check-out lane mixes both those who have rushed in for a pack of cigarettes, or a sandwich, or that one item to prepare dinner and was forgotten. It also is the lane many elderly customers use for meeting their daily, or every other day, food needs.

So you have a mix of many young people rushing to whatever ... and many elderly who need time to review their purchase and collect coins or write a check for their purchases. It is often a very trying time for the elderly, for they are aware of those waiting, and want to be considerate, but not everything is totally in their control.

Have you never noticed an elderly woman lose her coins in the bottom of a large purse, and after a frantic search will give up and switch over to writing a check? Have you never seen an elderly person feel rushed to complete a transaction, and become anxious to the point of wanting to run away to spare others the burden of waiting.

I waited behind an elderly woman who was having just such an experience after discovering she did not have the correct change for her purchase, and had to revert to the tedious task of writing a check. While trying to speed up her efforts, she dropped her purse, and was having a difficult time bending down.

It was so evident, as I helped retrieve her scattered items from the purse, that she was about to burst into tears, so as I collected her valuables, I began to talk about whatever came to mind and assure her that this happens to everyone. “Who hasn’t dropped coins or keys, etc. while checking out? “

It is at that very critical time that intervention is in order, and kind words of reassurance are so prominent. Words such as, “Take your time, the counter is yours; you were here first.” What an easy thing to say, and how often it makes such a difference.

I found out later, when encountering this woman at her car in the parking lot, that she did not know how to use the credit and debit cards, and was totally insecure with the technology, so the check was her alternative, and even that was not a quick process. I also learned in quick order that she was alone, had lost her husband of fifty years, and that buying groceries, although a chance to get out, was becoming a challenging experience.

Most certainly I have never considered a trip to the market as a matter for feeling insecure, but please remember that this anonymous woman is not alone. There is someone in a market line right now, very much in fear of so much you and I take for granted.

There are people in line who cannot read the labels and prices associated with certain goods, and when they arrive at the “12 items or less” line, they are confronted with the embarrassment of not having enough change for a few cans of beef stew and a gallon of milk. They will sheepishly say, “Just take back the milk.”

There are mothers with small children trying to buy enough for the week on a food stamp allotment and not having enough to cover some items not included in a food stamp program. They have to leave items on the counter. Most will seek to turn their backs so that no one will recognize that they are having to use assistance. Have you never seen a sweet treat left behind with children quietly pulled away so they do not notice that it has not been purchased?

The reasons should be familiar to all of us, IF WE PAY ATTENTION. Each situation allows us to say something so simple as, “Allow me to help with that,” or “Would you be offended if I assisted with those items?”

Just keep the voice low, and allow your assistance to be directed, and not draw more attention than is necessary. You will instinctively know when to step up and make a difference. You must learn not to avoid what is so needed, when you are fully aware and next in line. You are the person who can offer an ACT OF KINDNESS.

The opportunity for the most profound acts of kindness are just as close as your local food market.

Love…Rev. Elisheva

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Who Are You?

We have all heard the stories about “so and so” being such a nice person – polite, sensitive, compassionate, helpful – just the perfect gentleman or lady. Mostly we hear these comments about this person from co-workers, friends or neighbors.

Unfortunately, all too often, when in counseling, I speak to the wife or husband of this “angelic” person and the opposite characteristic or behavior is described. The complaints range from impatience, sarcasm, selfishness, rudeness, short of temper, and in some cases, vulgar and nasty.

It appears there are two personalities contained within the one body. Is this a rare situation? No, I hear these complaints quite often.

An example: “He is willing to help the neighbor in moving a heavy piece of furniture, but I can’t get him to take the garbage out the door.” Or “his/her friend needs to talk, and he/she listens for hours, BUT I can’t get five minutes of attention."

The complaints and comparisons would fill up page after page if I listed all of them. The question always asked is, “Why can he/she not treat me the way he/she treats others? This is not the way I was treated before we got married.”

I get really concerned when after a while this type of behavior effects not only the couple, but is witnessed by the children and has a tremendous effect on them. Is this how married life is? How many of you have a split personality? Are you aware of the person who leaves the house, and then the person who enters the house? Are you one of those people who is possibly beginning to take their partner for granted?

I have recently witnessed a couple up close for the past three days with these exact symptoms and problems. If you meet both of them casually, or even in the workplace, believe me, they are very polite, helpful, and compassionate people. Yet, after 10 years of marriage they have lost the sensitivity towards each other, which of course has lead to a lack of respect for each other. All too easily they disperse sarcastic statements to each other, are short tempered, and in some instances rude to each other.

I know they love each other, BUT there is a quality of love. And, I don’t see the quality of love when they got married so many years ago. What happened? When I inquired, the excuses were “different work shifts, no time for each other, too many credit cards and outstanding debts,”… and the list goes on.

Are these really justifications? … Of course not! I have seen this same behavior in elderly couples and senior couples that have been together over half their lives. There seems to be a complacency setting in which has built up over the past years.

As you know, being aware of these behaviors allows one to take stock; however, the deliberate efforts to change must go far beyond simple recognition.

I would like to hope that none of the couples I have married have entered this phase as of yet. Be aware when you enter your home and see your family that you show them, not just the same respect, sensitivity and compassion, but rather ten times more because they ARE YOUR LIFE! … and why would you hurt your own life?

This is something to think about ….

While thinking about it, allow me to share a poem from A.L. Alexander’s book, Poems that Touch the Heart. This a keeper. Store it in a folder and visit it often. Love…Elisheva

The Tone of Voice
It’s not so much what you say
As the manner in which you say it;
It’s not so much the language you use
As the tone in which you convey it;

“Come here!” I sharply said,
And the child cowered and wept.
“Come here,” I said –
He looked and smiled
And straight to my lap he crept.

Words may be mild and fair
And the tone may pierce like a dart;
Words may be soft as the summer air
But the tone may break my heart;

For words come from the mind
Grow by study and art –
But tone leaps from the inner self
Revealing the state of the heart.

Whether you know it or not,
Whether you mean or care,
Gentleness, kindness, love and hate,
Envy, anger, are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid
And peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger not only out of your words-
Keep it out of your voice.

Author Unknown

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Tears

Some of you may be familiar with the TV series “The Golden Girls.” One of the characters is Sophia, the mother of Dorothy. Sophia is an immigrant to this country from Sicily.

When Sophia tells a story, the opening is always, “Picture this … Sicily 1920 …. “ Now, I am asking you to picture this:

A beautiful Saturday late afternoon in the month of June 2010. The scene is a lovely garden setting, beautifully decorated for an elegant wedding. The guests are of all ages and appropriately attired. The groom is handsome, trying to contain his nervousness standing there awaiting the arrival of his bride. The bride, looking like a goddess, radiating beauty and love. A Mona Lisa-like smile is upon her face; not too much, not to little – almost trance like.

After some opening remarks by the minister, the father places the bride’s hand into the hands of the groom, and takes his place next to his wife. Up to this point, everyone has displayed a spirited joyfulness.

So, why are there now tears flowing down the faces of the families and guests - even down the faces of our beautiful bride and handsome groom? It’s because the group has tapped into that well of “Happy Tears!”Those are the tears which are the pearls of the soul. Perhaps it’s that point where the smiles need a splash of added happiness, and behold, it’s a gusher and it’s contagious!

Later while preparing to leave, T. Wade was inside the house collecting our items for departure, when Abbey (age 5) came up to him while he was alone, pulled on his pants leg and asked very quietly, "Will you be my minister at my wedding?" Wade said he had to bite his lip to keep back his emotions, but assured her that he would make every effort to be present. He said the smile came quickly, but a deeper feeling was hiding with that happy little face which had just seen so much joy surrounding her. She wanted that joy in her future.

All tears are representative of some deep emotion. Some are summoned by painful, hurtful events. They come from a place of sadness. Thank God – some are flowing from our sense of the beautiful, the invigorating, the healing and the rejuvenating. They are coming from a place of happiness.

Happy tears are often seen on the faces of parents when their baby enters the world. I remember seeing young mothers weeping as they shared with friends and family the day their little one took that first step. I’m sure there are many more life experiences which create happy tears – tears of relief.

I would love to hear your stories of your happy tears. Take a moment and share with me.

Reverend Elisheva

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why I Love Anniversaries ....

Every contact with friends in life can be a renewal and so invigorating. It’s an attitude!

I enjoy contact with the couples I marry. So once in a while, but especially on their anniversaries, I either send an email or call them personally. I inquire as to how is married life, and are those promises which were made on their wedding day being kept!

I refresh my memory about the couple before I contact them. I re-read their questionnaires, in which the couple expressed their hopes, dreams, goals for the future, and what lead up to the decision to get married. There are notes in my files on the couple including conversations we had before the wedding. Some of those conversations were even with parents and siblings.

But mostly, I pay attention to the promises the couple made to each other on their wedding day. So, once or twice a year, I check up on them. I am happy to say that most of the couples tell me they are doing well in upholding their promises.

Some of the feedback includes:
  1. The purchasing of a new home
  2. The birth of a baby
  3. The change of occupation intentionally or non intentionally
  4. Renewed interest in an educational path finally being pursued
  5. Taking that much needed vacation delayed
  6. But mostly, Planning a deliberate activity surrounding the anniversary date to honor the beginning of the most important journey they will ever take together.
For the most part, they are within reach of achieving their goals they set before their wedding day. Some of the couples admit that one of the biggest challenges has been to set aside enough time for each other, but they are aware that this has to be a priority in their marriage.

So why do I have such an intense interest in the couples I marry? It’s actually pretty simple. The more couples who are happy and loving – the more positive examples are being given to those who struggle with love and hate. Love is contagious! No one is happy with disappointments and hate. In my mind it is possible to create at least something resembling utopia. If enough examples are given of loving, caring and lasting relationships then perhaps this will have an affect on those who are discouraged, pessimistic and afraid to commit themselves in a relationship.

Am I a dreamer? YES! But everything starts with a dream and a vision. So, this is why I follow up with my couples. This is why I continue to tell them, “Don’t wait until the little pebbles of problems turn into a boulder of a problem. Call me! I married you so your happiness is my happiness.”

I also remind couples that as long as I am alive, counseling is always available without charge, sometimes in person if in Charlottesville area, but most certainly by phone and email. My invested interest is my vision of a better world which can only be created with love – not discord. So – I often say, “Call me…let’s do coffee or flavored water. Who can afford the calories over extended lunch?” Love me…Elisheva

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Special Kind of Celebration

Perhaps it’s time to consider renewing your wedding vows. Renewing vows can be so meaningful, not just for yourself, but also for children, grandchildren and other family members and friends.

I hope and believe that those couples who allowed us to perform their wedding really enjoyed that special service. I say this with the knowledge that their imprint was firmly imbedded in its arrival at text and tone.

When I hand a couple their wedding book, I tell them to place it in a special place for quick access for revisitation, especially each anniversary, and recite those promises to each other. I strongly encourage planning each anniversary with special attention to themselves and to rekindle the flame. It is so vital.

However, many couples were not afforded the opportunity for some personalization, and settled on making parents happy by having a large church wedding. What they may have wanted was to exchange spiritual vows out under a big oak tree in a park or forest setting. Or perhaps they had a small civil ceremony many years ago, and now have that urge for a more festive celebration.

Perhaps the original ceremony was absolutely marvelous those many years ago, and it just feels right to face each other again with all those new faces which came afterwards, and allow them to know your happiness.

An anniversary is an excellent time to consider a vow renewal, revisiting those promises stated publicly and adding some more.

It doesn’t matter if the parties have been married, five, ten, twenty-five or fifty years. A couple may want to reflect where they have been, what they have conquered, along with their ups and downs, joys and sorrows, but mostly, where they wish to go from here.

A wedding vow renewal ceremony offers children and grandchildren a beautiful example about marriage and love, especially the love between parents or grandparents; a love that did not fade but continued to strengthen over time. In a society where 50% of marriages unravel, this sets forth a pure example to young people. A vow renewal can give hope to the institution of marriage.

Some general thoughts

A vow renewal is not a second marriage. It does not require a license. It does not require a bridal shower or a bachelor’s party. It is inappropriate to have a bridal gift registry. Of course, if friends and family members present an anniversary gift, it is perfectly OK to accept it. At a vow renewal ceremony, the couple is the host and responsible for the finances – not the parents anymore if they are still alive.

It is also not appropriate to wear a wedding gown. More appropriate would be an elegant evening gown or dress. Of course location will also dictate what to wear as well as the style of the event. Typically, vow renewal attire is less formal than wedding attire.
What about rings? Do you give each other another ring? Yes and No … Some couples have a strong bond to their original wedding rings. Some like to use this occasion to exchange new rings. You can also use this occasion to add to the existing wedding ring with another piece of jewelry commemorating the date and the event.

The receiving line after the ceremony is appropriate for larger gatherings just to make sure that family and friends get acquainted with all the guests. If the guests all know each other, then a receiving line is not needed.

A toast is a great way to celebrate a vow renewal ceremony reflecting on the couple’s continued love as well as their life and future. Since there is no bride’s maid or groomsman – anybody can step up to the plate to yield the toast.

There is no tossing a bouquet or a garter. This only applies to your original wedding. You may use the original wedding vows during your ceremony or add to the vows to include promises made since your wedding day. You may even want to prominently display a photograph of your wedding day.

The cake, or the reaffirmation cake, can be a recreation of the original wedding cake, but the writing should indicate “vow renewal.” Husband and wife should walk towards each other from the opposite sides of the room or area versus the aisle procession. Another nice touch is the blessing of the original wedding rings, or in some cases, the new ones.

If the couple is capable, they should find the original officiant, minister or rabbi who married them. If not available or desired, they should find a new qualified person. Also, a beautiful vow renewal certificate should be obtained in advance to be signed by the minister and witness.

Some events are to be treasured

There have been several memorable vow renewals in my experience. One included a ritual to introduce a new addition to the family, namely a two year old girl. Another was the most unselfish wedding in memory, when the bride included in her ceremony her parents 50th wedding anniversary. The elderly couple renewed their vows and then listened happily to the wedding of their daughter. Both were touching variations so worth celebrating with family and friends.

One doesn’t really need an excuse to get together with family, but some gatherings provide an exceptional opportunity to speak of the deepest essence of the human experience. An eternal memory is created when a couple recommits to each other and to family, and maybe for once, have family offer thoughts which have never been shared. One never knows until the opportunity is granted.

I recall a day on a Florida beach for a 25th anniversary vow renewal. The husband had literally rescued his wife and her four children from a life of desperation and abuse. They lived in a dilapidated trailer and he had come to make repairs. He cared deeply for them, and in due course, married her and nurtured the children. The four children, all grown, had never expressed their deep love and appreciation, but on this day as the sun set, each child poured out every feeling for this couple. It was an opportunity never to be forgotten.

There are so many variations on bringing this celebration to life. One must select that which has the right “feel.” So think about it! Perhaps it is time to rekindle, renew, be grateful and continue the journey in love together.

Blessings…Reverend Elisheva

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cindy has a few tips for keeping the romance alive ...

In early February I sent out a blog entry entitled, “Keep the Romance Alive in Your Marriage.” In case you missed it, check it out. Almost immediately, I received a note from Cindy. Allow me to share her exact submission.

“Matt and I are celebrating our 7th year together this year (and our 2nd wedding anniversary already!), so in response to your inquiry about our ideas and activities here are a few things that Matt and I do in order to keep the romance alive.

I leave Matt notes frequently. In years past I used this as a way to communicate when we had little time together during the day. Now I use it as a way to let him know I am thinking about him. I use materials I have around the office to make little cards for him and then I write in them. He has kept all the notes I ever wrote him over the past 7 years. I don’t want him to ever think that he is not constantly on my mind.

I keep track of how often we are intimate together. Life can get so busy that too much time can pass between love-makings if I don’t consciously think about when was the last time. So keeping track of it, even mentally, helps me make time for intimacy which helps strengthen our relationship.

We take ‘snuggle naps’ together on the couch and spend time everyday just lying in each other’s arms, even if we’re just watching TV. We started this a few years ago when our work schedules finally started to coincide. I would get home by 4 PM, make dinner, Matt would come home by 5 PM, we would eat and then take a nap together before I had to go to class at 7 PM. We enjoyed this time together so much that we have continued it for years now. There is something so special about lying in each other’s arms with our bodies pressed together.

Thank you for all the suggestions. I will be using them and I look forward to sharing your blog with Matt later today. Warmest Regards…Cindy”

Thank you for sharing Cindy. Now others can begin to invigorate us with their ideas and suggestions.
Blessings…Rev. Elisheva

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Keep The Romance Alive in Your Marriage

Statistics show that 50% of all marriages end up in divorce. The number one reason is drifting apart. What does “drifting apart” mean? I’m sure that many pages can be filled with answers. When the romance is gone from the marriage the foundation of the union begins to crumble.

Romance and sex are not the same thing. But, romance can lead to sexual intimacy. And, if there is no more romance and sexual intimacy, then the marriage is dead for all intensive purposes. One might say it has entered into a business relationship even if the couples stay together in spite of everything.

Some remain for financial reasons, business reasons, or for the sake of the children. In the case of children, a happy marriage makes for a much better parent to the kids. But this type of atmosphere is not only an unhealthy atmosphere in which children might live but also destructive for the couple as well.

Most marriages without intimacy and romance will end up in divorce anyway in spite of trying to hold everything together. It is not hard to find somebody to marry, but it is very difficult to stay married. The work towards a happy marriage begins from the very second you both say, “I do!”

So, I come back to my original question – How do you keep romance and intimacy alive in your marriage especially after children are born? For those of you whom I have married, I suggest you pull out your questionnaires that you completed before your wedding day and re-read the questions and answers for each of you, specifically those questions dealing with how he/she makes you feel loved. Also, why do you love him/her?

You know the questions. There were MANY OF THEM, and your answers were powerful, uplifting and inspiring. According to those answers your marriages will NEVER FALL APART!

So, from where does this 50% divorce rate arrive? I know that mortgage payments, money pressures, seemingly endless children’s activities without help, two jobs, a bad economy, and many more things have contributed to the stress and strain leading to divorce. Sometimes one partner may escape into the computer world, or another form of seeking fulfillment, but THAT IS THE TIME FOR TALK. Don’t let it bloom into neglect! Remember - the most important thing is the love shared between the two of you. This is the foundation upon which everything else in your lives is built upon.

Here are a few tips which I give to you hopefully keeping the romance alive.
  1. Bring home a rose or a flower outside of birthdays and anniversaries.
  2. Float rose petals in a scented bath for two.
  3. Place a sheet in front of the fireplace. Cover the sheet with rose petals, and light your room with candles. Then ….. (I don’t need to tell you from here )
  4. Leave a trail of rose petals that leads towards a romantic gift.
  5. Say, “I love you” at least once a day.
  6. Say, “I love you” in a different language.
  7. Throw a kiss from across the room.
  8. Dance with each other in your own living room.
  9. Write unexpected love notes to each other.
  10. Hold hands while you are having a disagreement.
  11. Plan and cook a meal together.
  12. Give your spouse an unexpected massage.
  13. Have a date night, and arrive at the restaurant or special place separately, pretending that you just met each other.
  14. Be spontaneous with physical intimacy.
  15. Engage in impulsive and romantic interludes, and rediscover each other, while you let your imagination run wild.
  16. Thank your spouse in an email and cyber-flirt – laying the groundwork for later.
  17. Take a shower together.
  18. Give each other a foot rub.
  19. First practice “sensuality” and then “sexuality.
  20. Turn off the machines and take frequent walks and TALK.

A special note for her: (Explanation: Men have emotional needs too, and they like to hear and feel that they are appreciated. So, tell him the following things.

  1. “I like you”
  2. “You are the best!”
  3. “I am so lucky that I met you!”
  4. “What would I do without you?”
  5. “We are a team!”
  6. “You drive me crazy, and I’m mad about you!”
  7. “You are so hot”
  8. “What would please you tonight?”
  9. “I had an erotic dream and you were in it”
  10. “Let’s do lunch in town today, or dinner after work at (you know).”
More suggestions for both …

  1. Dress up in a special way once in a while. Remember when you were dating you did not show up in jeans and a t-shirt all the time.
  2. Pretend you are dating
  3. Be spontaneous
  4. Listen and observe
  5. Revisit those places you loved to go to while you were dating
  6. Listen to the music that you loved when you were dating
  7. Try, once in a while, to do all those things that made you fall in love with each other in the first place.
Now, if there are children in your lives, it is even more important to be vigilant and aware of not losing focus of your romance and intimacy together. The few points mentioned above are just the tip of melting what MAY be the making of an iceberg. These are NOT trivial suggestions! They may simply lead to your own innovative ideas. The point is however very clear: STOP and FOCUS on your mate.

I am fully aware that I have married many of you who are closer to my age, children grown, second marriages, and a marvelous new beginning. BE KEENLY AWARE that old habits do not totally melt away as time progresses. Do not think for a moment that you can relax with a new partner and not observe the ideas presented in this little essay.

There are all kinds of ways to say it, but ONLY YOU CAN SPRINKLE THE MAGIC DUST WHICH CAPTIVATED YOUR HEART NOT SO LONG AGO. Find the magic and use it again and again.

I am interested to know of your own ideas and activities as to how you keep romance and intimacy alive in your marriages. Again, you don’t have to use your name. You can email me privately if you wish at webelisheva@gmail.com .

Many, many blessings, and happy honeymoons,

Reverend Elisheva