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New Naturally Nancy Post

pumpkin.pasta.13If you’re looking for a new, healthy twist on pasta (which can be made gluten-free), take a look at my latest recipe, Pumpkin Veggie Pasta, at Naturally Nancy. Here’s the link: https://nancywriteon2.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/pumpkin-veggie-pasta/

Three Thursdays In February – Or My Left Foot

I’m sure no one would blame me for having heart palpitations as I approach each Thursday this month, after you hear my story. I never used to have this issue. But last year, I had three disastrous Thursdays in a row, to the point that when the fourth Thursday of the month loomed, I pretty much spent it in bed, hiding under the covers. Supposedly, these events were all random and I shouldn’t assign any special meaning to the fact that they occurred three weeks in a row – all on a Thursday. But human nature begs to differ.

february--calendar-53244e39213a5The first event is kind of personal, so I’m not going to go into it here. Let’s just say, it wasn’t positive and it was life-changing. But it happened the first Thursday of the month last year. And I had no idea that was just the beginning.

 

The second Thursday, my beloved Hershey – funny and loving, and my constant companion of almost 16 years – had a stroke. I wasn’t there when it happened, but it was apparent that night that things were pretty dire. He tried to rally the next day, but although he had had several similar incidents in the past, I knew this time he wouldn’t be able to come back to me. He died the next morning, on Valentine’s Day. I spent that Valentine’s Day with a broken heart.hershey.on.deck

 

 

 

 

 

ankle.castThe third Thursday, I tried to be strong and assure myself that the fact that these other awful events had occurred on Thursdays was just a coincidence. School had been out for a few days due to a winter storm, and it was my first day back tutoring. I was so happy to get back to work. All went well, until it didn’t. Black ice got me, my leg shot out from under me and I then landed on it, causing a spiral fracture. Aside from the constant pain and inability to get around very well, it turned out two months later that I had ended up with blood clots in the leg as well! It’s been almost a year now, and things are still not back to normal, – but I’m just grateful I no longer need the knee scooters, the boot, or the crutches.

 

So now, here we are a year later, with two Thursdays down. The first Thursday went by without incident. I started to breathe. The second Thursday was very odd. Let me crutchesfirst say that the ankle that was fractured was my left ankle. So I went to tutor my first student yesterday. She was hopping around on crutches because she had pulled a muscle in her leg – her left leg. I went to see my next student. She had a giant boot on – you guessed it – her left leg. She had fallen and twisted her leg. I came home and let the dogs out. When we came in, Maddie (my six-year-old pup) was hopping around on 3 legs – she must have stepped on something in the yard that hurt one of her rear paws. Which paw, you might ask? Ding, ding, ding! If you guessed the left paw, you’d be correct. I have no idea what the significance of this left foot business is, but I find it to be very odd.

 

There are two more Thursdays to get through this month, hopefully without incident. I’ll let you know if there are any further events. But then again if there are, you might not hear from me. If you don’t hear anything, you’ll most likely find me in bed, hiding under my covers.maddie.undercovers

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

You Are Beautiful

seventeen.twiggyWhen I was younger, I never felt good about how I looked. I was too skinny, not pretty enough, not graceful enough, just not enough. Looking at the models in Seventeen Magazine made things even worse. I was 5 foot 7 inches, and in my last year of high school, I went from 115 pounds, to 118 pounds. That sent me into a total panic, so I decided I had to take drastic measures. I started skipping lunch at school, instead eating only a box of raisins in a desperate attempt to stop the normal curves of approaching womanhood from overtaking me.

 

In retrospect, for a girl with self-confidence issues, moving to California – specifically Los Angeles – was probably not the best move to boost my self-esteem. Particularly, working in the entertainment industry where every female looked like she had come out of the live-edition Barbie factory. The message that was reinforced again and barbieagain, both at work and in the dating world was, appearances matter. Youth, beauty and near-starvation were the values that ruled – and (lots of) money was the only thing that might help alleviate the lack of any of the first three values.

 

 

From a young age, girls are praised for being pretty. As we get a little older, we’re praised for being beautiful. Or thin. Or both. Brains and talent often take a back seat, or are mentioned almost as a consolation prize.

 

Two things I saw today brought all of this home to me once again. The first was a photo of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. You might be aware that Ms. Fisher has been relentlessly derided by many online users for having had the temerity to actually age. She has ably shut down the haters, but it’s still disgusting that she has to put up with this kind of garbage. So the words that go along with this photo (from Being Liberal) are: Men don’t age better than women – they are just allowed to age. Exactly. star.wars.awakens

 

The second thing I saw was a post about a young actress named Ashley Benson who was told she was told she was too fat to get a role. Ms. Benson is a size 2. Wrap your head around that. A size 2 is considered too fat. Will Hollywood only be happy when they cast skeletons in their films? And young girls see this. Or they see completely unrealistic, air-brushed images of other young women, thinking this kind of perfection is the only way they will be accepted – and acceptable.

dove-campaingThere are people fighting against this, most notably the Dove campaign for real beauty, attempting to widen the definition of beauty.  According to one of their studies, only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful. How sad is that?

 

As we age, women become invisible as far as our society is concerned. But in spite of that, we’re still expected to be stylish, wrinkle-free, and as always, thin, or we’re discarded like yesterday’s trash.

We’ve made some strides over the years, but just like the lack of income equity, there is no such thing as age equity when it comes to gender. Or body image equity. Since Hollywood – which is where so much of our societal expectations come from – is still mostly ruled by testosterone, I guess this should come as no big surprise. But maybe we can work on the vocabulary of gender. I’m not saying it’s wrong to tell a girl she’s pretty, just as I believe it’s OK to tell a boy he’s handsome. But let’s not stop there. Let’s make sure our children see the beauty in what’s inside a person. And that different sizes, shapes, colors, and abilities reflect diversity, which is a good thing. A beautiful thing. How poor this world would be if we were all the same. Let them celebrate the fact that everyone is unique. And that no matter what society says, they should love themselves. Which is something we all need to remember, no matter how old we are.

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Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

Life

This is not my typical post, but after so many losses recently, this is my rant/ PSA:

 

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The past year and a half has taught me that nothing lasts forever. You think you have time, but you don’t know when your time – or that of a loved one – is up. Life is precious. Cherish each day. Cherish your loved ones – let them know what they mean to you. Enjoy the sun and the sky and the ocean and the beauty that surrounds us. Stop sweating the petty stuff – it’s all crap. It doesn’t matter in the end. It’s all about love, not stuff, not prestige or money or anything else. Be kind and help whoever you can help. And try to make a difference for the speck of time you’re on this earth. Because it’s over in the blink of an eye.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

The Turning of the Key

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Several years ago, I wrote a post titled “Moving On,” about my parents moving from our childhood home to a continuing care community. It was a wonderful move for many reasons, and at the time I wrote that in spite of the move being bittersweet, I was grateful for the fact that my parents were leaving our childhood home for a better life for them.

Little did I know that in just a few short years, we’d lose our mom to the devastating diagnosis of cancer. But we were so glad that our dad had the comfort and support of so many kind people who surrounded him in his relatively new community. We were aware that Dad was having a very rough time without his bride of so many years. And when he had a heart attack earlier this year, we knew the broken heart was literal. What we didn’t expect – not that you can ever expect these things – was that we’d lose Dad, too, just a little over a year after losing Mom.

The loss of both of our parents in such a short period of time has been beyond devastating for both me and my sister. They may have been considered old in years by some, but they were active, vibrant, and youthful, and it’s still hard for all of us to wrap our heads around the fact that they’re both gone.

And then came the emptying out of their home. Every piece of furniture, every article of clothing, every dish, every memory from our childhood needed to be gone through and assigned a category: give away, throw away, donate, or hold onto for dear life. In spite of my current mindset of having to declutter my life, there was no way I was going to leave so much of my parents and their lives to others, without taking those pieces that were so meaningful to me.

Lots of tears have been shed, lots of agonizing over so many things, and full-on  meltdowns over these losses have all been experienced over the past few weeks. And the photographs pose one of the toughest dilemmas. Albums upon albums filled with happy times and long-forgotten memories – what does one do with all those remnants of their – and our – lives?

We also didn’t have the luxury of time, for many reasons. So barely a month after losing Dad, my sister and I made a final trek to our parents’ home to empty out everything that had made it their home. At first, I made it through by attempting to be dispassionate – to distance myself from these “things” and not assign any emotional  value to them. I actually managed to do that with some items. But then I’d get blindsided by something unexpected, and be once again reduced to a puddle of grief.

By the fourth night, it still seemed as if there were mountains of belongings to still get through and bag. My sister and two of her friends had made a trip to start emptying things out several weeks earlier, and she needed to get back home on that fourth day after being gone and working as hard as she had. The furniture was to be picked up the next morning, when I was scheduled to leave. Only half of it had been spoken for – the rest was apparently going to be trashed, which was affecting me deeply. One of my wonderful cousins was going to oversee that part of the process. And I had no one left to ask to take more bags of things to a donation bin. We had received help and generosity from so many friends and family over the past month, how could I ask again? But if I couldn’t ask for help, what would happen to everything left? I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing out things that someone else could use. A wave of helplessness and hopelessness overcame me. I sank down on the floor, completely overwhelmed. And then, I truly believe, my parents stepped in and rescued me.

The first thing was, I suddenly realized there was no way I could leave the next day – I needed one more day in order to hold onto my sanity. So I called the airline and explained my situation. Now you all know how I feel about flying and the whole airline experience. However, the woman on the other end could hear that I was at the end of my rope and she was so compassionate and kind to me, I couldn’t believe it. She told me that they still had me in the system from the bereavement fare of the previous trip, and since this was all still part of the same event, they would NOT charge me a change fee! So I got re-booked to a flight one day later.

Next, I got a call from another amazing cousin who had come earlier to help with her wonderful sister, that she was returning with her son and a truck to take any clothing I had left to the donation bin she had gone to earlier with several other bags of stuff.  That was another lifting of the weight off my heart.

Finally, I walked into the living room to find several people gathered there. One woman had come for a different reason, but asked me about the furniture. I told her which pieces were spoken for, and which ones weren’t. She called her daughter who needed any furniture we had, and that night she and her husband and another friend got all of it out of there – and, they came back the next morning for the bed! So the extra furniture was going to someone who really needed it, where it would again have a good home.

It was tough enough watching everything my parents owned disappear. But the things that were going to help homeless or disadvantaged people, which went to family, or which went to friends, made me happy. Our parents were generous, kind people who also would have been happy to know that their things would now make others happy. Some of the sadness lifted.

All of the lamps were taken by family and friends before the next night, and there are few overhead lights there, so once the sun set, it was pretty dark. And empty, with all the furniture gone. With all the life gone. There were still a few things I needed to go through, to either take or throw out, and I found myself dawdling as I went through everything. I took pictures of the emptiness. I sat on the floor and communed with my parents. I cried again. And finally, I had no excuses left, not to leave. And I left a huge piece of my heart there as I shut the door behind me, and turned the key in the lock for the final time.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

 

Fly the Friendly Skies

I have had many ups and downs when it comes to flying – both literally and figuratively. I recently had a few experiences with the airlines that were somewhat unusual, and I’d like to share them with you.

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It seems there are no longer direct flights to New York from my little corner of the South. Lately, I’ve been taking the early-morning flight on an airborne sardine can to Charlotte, where I then transfer to a somewhat larger tin can to get to New York. This time, I flew a little later in the morning, so I went through Washington DC instead. This meant boarding a plane that actually had more seats than a bus. It was a nice change of pace.

We boarded on time, and since I had a little over an hour between flights, I was hopeful I might actually make the connecting flight, since that’s always a crap shoot. We waited on the tarmac for awhile after boarding, without any sign of motion on the part of the plane. And we waited. Finally, one of the flight attendants got on the PA. She announced that one of the seats was broken. She informed us that this was a full flight. She then morphed from friendly flight attendant to angry schoolmarm (I think she might have even wagged her finger at us), and warned us that if someone didn’t volunteer to get off the plane, we would just sit on the ground until someone did volunteer. I felt like I was back in 2nd grade. Of course, whoever did offer to get off the plane would be compensated and rewarded, and receive the eternal gratitude of everyone else on the plane. I considered it, and if I didn’t have to make a connecting flight, I might have done so. But taking non-direct flights are very tricky, and I needed to get to New York.broken.chair

Everyone just sat, looking hopefully around the plane, praying that someone who had nothing else to do would volunteer and let us leave already. Finally, a hero arose. He was sitting toward the front of the plane and, in what could have been slow motion, stood up, talked to the flight attendants for a few minutes, and then jauntily exited the plane. We all  heartily applauded our thanks, then breathed a collective sigh of relief when the doors finally closed and we rolled down the runway. The flight attendant glared at us as if we were all a bunch of naughty children.

mean_teacher_w_ruler_LargeWideMy question is, why was this our problem? Aren’t we the ones paying them hundreds of dollars to get us from one place to another in the least uncomfortable way possible, which would include intact seats? Why were we scolded and intimidated by a flight attendant for something that was clearly the airline’s problem? But that’s just one more thing being par for the course when it comes to making flying as not-fun as possible these days.

I did have one actual fun experience, however, while waiting to board the flight schumerfrom DC to New York. As I was waiting for my zone to be called, I turned and there was Senator Chuck Schumer standing next to me! At first, I didn’t want to bother him, but after one of the airport workers tried to usher him to First Class, and Senator Schumer told him he was flying Coach, I smiled and began chatting with him. What do you say to a Senator whom you greatly admire without sounding like a blithering idiot? I don’t remember everything I said, but I am fairly certain I was speaking English. And Senator Schumer smiled at me, asked me questions, and didn’t have me escorted from the airport, so all in all, I think I did OK.

No such excitement for the trip home. While I was in the airport waiting for the flight from DC back to South Carolina, I found a seat where I could relax away from all the hubbub. A man sat down two seats away from me. To my left, were about 20 empty seats. Within minutes, the rest of his very energetic, young family came bounding over. They all crowded around him and the one empty seat to his left. They kept glancing at me like I should get the hint and get up and not intrude on their family fun. Finally, his young son who was very cute and very active, started jumping up and down, and his foot landed right on top of my foot. None of the adults seemed to notice, even when I grimaced and said, “Ouch.”

water.bottledSo I caved, and got up, semi-certain that the foot contact incident had been carefully orchestrated in order to get me to move. I was hungry anyway, so I made my way over to the vendors who can legally sell you a bottle of water for $4 and a small bag of popcorn for $6. And then I found another seat. Where I could sit quietly and pray that my next flight would leave on time and wouldn’t have any broken seats.

 

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

New Naturally Nancy post: Gazpacho

If you’re a fan of gazpacho, this is a delicious recipe to try. It’s healthy and refreshing, and pretty easy to make!  Here’s the link:

https://nancywriteon2.wordpress.com/2015/08/06/gazpacho-and-more/

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