Posted by Ilana Angel
I had an appointment to get my nails done yesterday. I have been going to the same salon for years and my nail girl, Julie, is the best. She makes my nails look beautiful and I won’t let anyone else do my manicures. I really love her and she has become a friend of mine. She is from Vietnam, absolutely beautiful, and is the mother of a gorgeous 14 year old daughter with a second baby on the way. I look forward to spending time with her.
I was scheduled to see her after lunch but could not remember what time so I called the shop to confirm. The owner told me that Julie had been off for the morning at a doctor’s appointment, and she was coming in to meet me for our appointment. I let them know I could wait a day and she should not come in just for me. I moved the appointment to this afternoon and they called Julie to tell her not to worry about coming in.
I went to my appointment this afternoon and when I got there a couple of the workers in the salon were being interviewed by police. It turns out that yesterday, while I was supposed to be getting my nails done, the salon was robbed at gunpoint. A couple came in and stole all the money from the salon, along with all the cell phones and wallets of everyone in the shop. Julie ran up to hug me and thanked me for moving our appointment.
Nobody was hurt, and it turns out the couple has robbed a couple of other nail salons in the area. I’m glad I was not there, happy my pregnant friend did not experience the robbery, and thankful that nobody was hurt. They were all a little spooked, but the police were lovely and everything is going to be okay. Important to note that in terms of the police being lovely, of course I meant smoking hot. Yummy, yummy ding dong.
Having missed the robbery, I find myself with clarity today. Life is short and you just never know what will happen to you in the course of any given day. I want to live my life out loud. I don’t want to be afraid, nervous, self conscious, or worried. I want to be happy, free, aware, and grateful. I want my son to look back on each day with a good memory, know that I love him with every part of me, and be proud to have me as his mother.
I want a relationship with my family and friends that is connected and joyous. I don’t want to harbor resentment towards anyone. I want to forgive those who I feel have hurt me, I want to embrace all the parts of me that I love, and change those that bother me. I want a relationship with my romantic partner that is fulfilling in terms of love, emotion, sex and friendship. I want it all. I deserve it all. I will value it all.
Life is short and we are in charge of how we live. I must demand of myself that life be all I want it to be. Only I can change things and instead of wondering when things are going to get better, I am simply going to make them better. I feel blessed today. Blessed to be a mother, daughter and friend. I‘m not sure how long I will have this clarity, but when it gets blurred I am going to read this blog and get refocused.
I suppose one must reach a certain point of desperation to walk into a business with a gun and steal from people while scaring the crap out of them, so I wish peace to them. I am a lucky girl and today I am not only counting my blessings but also plotting change. I want to live to the fullest and it is going to start today. I am in charge of my life and everything is possible if I demand more of myself and always remember to keep the faith.
12.5.13 at 3:16 pm | Heaven has received a blessing today.
12.3.13 at 3:05 pm | Every time I go into the kitchen I half expect to. . .
11.30.13 at 10:42 am | "The only correct actions are those that demand. . .
11.29.13 at 1:56 pm | My nest will never empty as my son will always be. . .
11.28.13 at 7:59 am | Think. Laugh. Cry.
11.26.13 at 7:06 am | God places love where we don't always see it.
11.30.13 at 10:42 am | "The only correct actions are those that demand. . . (525)
11.29.13 at 1:56 pm | My nest will never empty as my son will always be. . . (380)
9.15.13 at 3:14 pm | I love you Russell Brand. (291)
July 30, 2012 | 7:40 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I spent Sunday in Malibu, which is one of my favorite places on earth. It was sunny and warm with just the right mix of locals and tourists. It was busy but not overly crowded. We scoped out our spot and settled in. It was about 11 am and our fellow beach bums were families with young kids, older groups of ladies, and a sprinkling of couples. It was a relaxed day and everyone was friendly.
We decided to go for a long walk along the beach and it was glorious. I can walk along the ocean with no thought of distance. The waves were gentle, the sun was bright, I was with my Englishman and his kids, and I felt happy. Having my son away has been hard, but being with his girls makes it easier. I am 12 days from seeing my son and the beach brought me peace and comfort.
When we returned to our beach spot it was as if we took a wrong turn and got lost. In the hour we went walking the beach changed its tune. We were surrounded by kids in their early 20’s who were drinking beers and talking about how they were trashed the night before. One guy was talking in detail about how his girlfriend was mad that he had gotten drunk and kissed another girl.
The boys looked like the after photos of meth addicts you see online, and the girls were covered in tattoos that made me think they must have experienced some sort of trauma to mark their bodies in such a way. To me, their bodies told the story of pain. I love tattoos and think they are art. I have a few of my own and they mean something. They are small and discreetly located.
My tattoos have commemorated moments of meaning in my life and they are strategically placed for privacy, or not. They honor my son, father, faith, myself, and my life. Nobody knows what they mean unless I tell them, and while some may think a woman with tattoos is trashy, I was an adult when I got them, knew what I was doing, and do not regret getting any of my ink.
I’m not one to pass judgment on how a person looks, but I found myself disturbed by tattoos I saw on Sunday. One girl in particular made me a little sad. She had beautiful strawberry blonde hair, a truly magnificent body, and tattoos that were shocking. None were particularly pretty, all seemed rather harsh, and from experience I can say must have been painful.
Her tattoos included claws on the breasts, flowers all over her stomach and private areas, tigers, dark images and foreign writing all over her back. She was a beautiful girl who could have been a beauty queen and yet her tattoos painted a picture that inspired sadness. I love tattoos but wanted to cover her up in a towel, give her a hug, and offer her some money and a sandwich.
I am disappointed in myself for judging her. I’m sure she loved hers as much as I love mine because she was not afraid to show them off. That said, it was a hot day and she was covered in tattoos so unless she is going to sit in the sun fully clothed, there was no way to not show her ink. I could not tell if she was proud or embarrassed but I guess it doesn’t matter.
I have seen women with full body art and it was beautiful. This young girl however had tattoos that looked violent. It got me thinking about what tattoos say about people. Do people see me, a “nice Jewish girl” and automatically think I am damaged or broken for having marked my body in this way? Is the assumption that I am a bad Jew for having tattoos?
We are all judgmental of each other I suppose, and perhaps the girl with the tattoos and made her own assumptions about me. In the end tattoos are personal and I hope she looks at hers and loves them as much as I love mine. It was a fabulous and interesting day at the beach and I learned that spending time judging is not as valuable as spending my time keeping the faith.
July 26, 2012 | 2:52 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
My son has gone back east with his best friend for three weeks. It is the third year he has made the trip and he truly loves it. They hang out at the lake, play tennis, go hiking, see movies, and have a classic all American summer experience. Today marks 18 days until I see him.
When he leaves the lake he will meet me in Canada and we will spend a week with my family. It has been three years since I’ve been home and I am excited to be with my brother, sisters, mother, nieces and nephews. I am counting down the days. By days of course I mean minutes.
I love my family and it makes me sad we live so far apart. My son being away is hard and I wonder how it must be for my mother who has had four children grow up and move out. I find myself sitting in my son’s room and remembering every minute I have been blessed to be his mom.
Today marks not only 18 days until I see him, but also the 22nd birthday of the Englishman’s oldest daughter. She is remarkable young woman and she inspires me. She is going to graduate from university this December and her entire life is ahead of her. It is a very special time.
I have a lot in common with this young woman and I find myself smiling when she speaks of her future. She is making plans and dreaming big. I am excited for her and spending time with her reminds me of what my life was like at 22. It is a defining time in that a future is being developed. You know what you want but have no idea how to get it.
She is happy, hopeful, unsure, aware, funny, kind, smart, sweet, naïve, and very sophisticated. She is everything a young woman should be at 22 and I want for her all the things she wants for herself, plus more. She is a wonderful human being and I love her dad more through her.
Being away from my son has given me a look into what life will be like when he goes to university. I keep my phone in my hand all the time should he call. I miss him so much that there are days when I feel like my heart is aching. I am also proud of his independence.
I have raised this child to go out into the world and conquer it, but I wish he could conquer it closer to home and be here for dinner at the end of each day. I take great comfort in seeing how terrific the Englishman’s daughter is and the relationship they have even though she is an adult.
I think ahead to when they have their own families and it is beautiful. We have three children between us and they are independently marvelous people, but together they are truly divine. As my baby grows up I don’t feel like I am losing him as much as I am gaining a family.
I have been alone and in relationships during my time as a mother, and for the first time in his life, I feel like I am going to be okay. I have survived many things over the years and while I don’t consider myself a survivor, I am a fighter. I have fought hard to get to this place in my life.
I am learning to trust myself, trust others, and allow myself to be happy. I never needed a man in my life, but I wanted one and that want guided me to make decisions that led to unhappiness, but also gave me clarity about what it is that I want for my child and myself. I want peace.
I am in a relationship with a man who makes me think, laugh, hope and dream. I am learning to relax and not worry so much. I am counting down the 18 days not as time I will be sad until I see my boy, but rather days of joy that he is experiencing. I never thought I would get to this place.
To this wonderful woman, Happy Birthday! I am blessed to have you in my life and lucky to count you among my friends. You are a special person and you are going to change the world one day. I am excited to see all the things you will do and all the places you will go.
To my son, you are a blessing. Thank you for loving me with an open heart. I am proud of you and want you to know I am okay. I miss you, but you don’t need to worry about anything but being safe and having a fabulous time. Squeeze all the joy out of your vacation.
To my Englishman, thank you. For all the things you know I am talking about, and for all the things you will never know. You are an amazing father and you have raised remarkable children. I am enjoying my life in a way I never thought I could because of you, and that is a true surprise.
In the end we can’t rely on other people to make us happy. We must be able to be happy on our own, and when we get to that place is when we are able to surround ourselves with people who make happiness greater. For these 18 days and 22 years I am grateful and keeping the faith.
July 23, 2012 | 5:19 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I have been divorced for 16 years. I left my husband when my son was only a few months old and while it was very difficult, staying would have been harder. I knew I needed to leave and if I hung on for my son he would not have been in a happy place. In the end the marriage would be over anyway and since he was so young, I thought it would be easier for him.
Turns out I was wrong. Divorce is painful for a child. It does not matter if you are a newborn, teenager, or adult, divorce is painful. My son never saw his father and me married. I too am a child of divorce. My parents split up when I was 16. I felt like I was being pulled in a million directions and needed to pick a side but was lucky I had 3 siblings to help.
My son has no siblings and so he is on his own in the battleground of divorce. I spent a lot of years being angry with my father, which is hard for me to deal with now. Having lost my Dad to cancer, I am angry I wasted time being angry with him. I don’t want my son to ever be angry with his dad or me about our divorce. He was born into love and that matters.
This week I watched my son struggle with a decision that in his mind was about picking sides between his parents. It was very sad and my heart broke for this wonderful young man. He is only 16 years old but his life will forever be shaped by the choices I have made. He will always have two sides to deal with within his own family and that sucks.
Every important moment in his life will be tainted by the divorce of his parents. From tickets to his high school graduation, to his wedding, to where he will take his kids for the first night of Hanukkah will require him to pick a side. As a mother it is crushing to watch and I imagine depressing for him to know it may always be like this.
I have a 25 year history with his dad and while most of it is dark, the darkness is trumped by the gloriousness that it this remarkable boy. He has all the best parts of both of us and while I like to think he is just like me, he is like his dad just as much. We couldn’t build a life together, but we did create a wonderful human being together.
Our inability to get along has nothing to do with our son. We love him very much and in a perfect world we would all get along and there would be no need for him to ever feel like he needed to pick sides, but at the end of the day the world is not perfect and I don’t want to live an insincere life so I will always be honest with my son.
The decision he made this week was hard for him and in the end he was a true mensch. I am very proud of him for taking everyone’s feelings into consideration. He made a choice that he felt was fair and kind and while it was painful for him and brought him to tears, he had peace with the path he took and so for that I feel very fortunate.
Some of his choices will seem to go my way and others will not. The lesson I learned with this weeks struggle is that it does not matter whose “side” he is on. What matters is that I support my son and value the time and energy he puts into finding a balance. I can never be upset or offended by what he chooses because he is inherently kind.
I have raised my son to have a compassionate heart and a Jewish worldview. He is respectful of his parents and the people we share our lives with. He is my son, my friend, my hero and my inspiration. I have done my job well and need to now trust him. His only obligation is to himself and he will be happy if he listens to his heart, and keeps the faith.
July 20, 2012 | 7:12 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Last night my son went to a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. As he sat in the theater enjoying the movie, a night of terror erupted in Colorado. I sat up all night watching the news and praying for the victims and their families. It is unfathomable that this has happened.
When my son came home I hugged him just a little longer, and just a little tighter than usual. We send our children out into the world everyday and we have no idea what will happen to them. I feel sorrow for not only the victims, but for the gunman and his family. It is truly heartbreaking.
I join the entire country as we unite in prayer and support of those touched by this tragedy. My heart is filled with sorrow that one human being can do this to another. Use this senseless pain as a reminder to embrace those who matter to you and let them know that you love them.
We must be kind to not only those we know, but also to a stranger. Extend your hand in kindness and don’t ever underestimate the power of a smile or a kind word. The world is dark and only we have the power to bring it light. This is a time of loss, fear and hope. Loss of innocence, fear of the unknown, and hope that life will go on. May God Bless us all as we struggle to understand.
Rest in Peace.
Keep the Faith.
July 18, 2012 | 10:00 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I have been dating a man for a little over four months. By dating of course I mean I have been in a relationship. From our first date there was a connection and we simply fell into a relationship without really dating. It has been fun, effortless, complicated, and exhausting. I have been divorced for 16 years and I am 46 years old. My last serious relationship ended over 3 years ago and in retrospect, was not that serious. I am now with a man who has children, his own business, an ex-wife, a family he is very close to, and a full life that he has fit me into.
I’ve been alone for so long that while I have longed to be in a committed relationship, it is difficult. I find myself trying to talk myself out of my happiness and it’s rather strange. I am in love with a terrific man and I am a great dancer, but when it comes to the dance of love, I am stepping on my own feet. Could it be fear that is causing me to lose my rhythm? I was so certain I knew what I wanted, that when I am now faced with something different, I am panicking. Did I waste time imagining the wrong thing? Am I talking myself out of what I thought I wanted?
Relationships can take an emotional toll on a woman. We are taught to not settle for less than what we deserve, but when you have had a relationship end badly, you question what it is exactly that you deserve. I am worthy of love, but is it the love I envisioned for myself? My heart tells me I am in love. My head tells me I am an idiot for thinking I found love. My head has convinced me that I pick bad men and my choices cannot be trusted. Not the men, just my choices. I have a romantic heart, which I love, but it is screwing with my head, which is starting to annoy me.
It turns out I am scared of the one thing I have been looking for. Love. When my last relationship ended I wondered why he didn’t love me. I am now with a man who loves me and I am curious about why he loves me. What makes him different from the men who didn’t? Is this what it means to find your Beshert? When you find someone you feel you were meant to be with, why can’t you just enjoy it? Why do we make it so difficult for ourselves? The fairytales tell us that love is grand, but they don’t say it will turn us into bad dancers who are crazy.
I always thought the key to finding love was to open your heart to the possibilities, but I am changing my mind. The key to love, for me, is to close my eyes, listen to the music, and allow my partner to lead. If I can stop thinking and focus on listening, maybe I have a shot. I was so sure I needed to lead, I lost focus and stopped dancing. I’m not sure if I’m tired from work or the dancing analogies, but I’m tired. To my Sweetheart, thank you for being such a good dancer. You are wonderful for embracing my two left feet, taking the lead, and keeping the faith.
July 17, 2012 | 4:07 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I like grocery shopping. I cook most everyday and I especially love the produce section of my local market. I am big on fresh ingredients and tend to buy a lot of organic. I don’t use recipes or cookbooks unless I’m making something I’ve not made before. I cook a lot of my mother’s dishes, which I know by heart. I’m big on flavor and creativity in the kitchen. I am a pescatarian, but cook meat for my son, which can be a challenge.
It’s a challenge because it sometimes makes me sad to cook meat. I go through phases where the smell of a roasted chicken is simply divine, and others where the smell of a grilled steak reminds me of burning flesh and I am disgusted by the sight of carcass. I like to try new combinations, layer flavors, and think outside the box. I am very talented in the kitchen and all my dishes and inspirations begin at my favorite market.
I went shopping this morning. I took my time picking out all of my favorite things and was happy the market was not too busy. I was relaxed and happy, until I got to the check out. It was at that point that I experienced an episode of shopping cart road rage. My peaceful shopping trip was abruptly brought to an end and I found myself aggravated. By aggravated of course I mean I wanted to punch a stranger.
There were 4 cashier lanes open. 2 were express lines for people with less than 15 items, and two were regular lines with no restrictions. The two express lines had 3 or 4 people waiting to check out, while the other two lines each had a large order in the process of going through. I got in line behind one of the big orders and started to read about Katie and Tom in the gossips rags while I was waiting.
As I started to unpack my groceries, a woman from the express line came over and told me she was in a hurry and would I mind letting her go ahead of me because she only had one item. I let people in front of me all the time but this chick had a bad attitude. I told her there were not only express lines for people with only one item, but there was also a self-check out line where she could do it herself very quickly.
She gave a puzzled look and then proceeded to say it was selfish of me to not let her go. Really? She had 3 fast and viable options to get out of the market quickly and I was selfish? Really? I am the selfish one? I almost felt sorry for her for a second, and then I thought better of wasting emotion on this chick, and let her know there was market etiquette and no, I would not let her in line ahead of me.
She flipped her hair, called me a bitch, and went over the express lane. Well, I did the only thing I could do. I walked over to the lane she was in, grabbed a pack of gum from the register, and told the gentleman behind her, who was buying a diet coke and sandwich, that he could go in front of me if he wanted as I had a large basket of items. He thanked me profusely, told me he was on his lunch hour, and followed me over.
The woman about lost her mind and let me know her unhappiness by calling me a selfish bitch. Here’s the thing, I have been known to be a bitch on occasion, but I am anything but selfish. There is nothing selfish about me or my life. That’s not important here, I just wanted to clarify. What is important is that there is grocery store etiquette and people need to get on board with it, and back the hell off.
Here are the top 5 rules when it comes to etiquette in the grocery store:
1) Don’t ask people to let you in line. We are all busy and in a rush. If someone wants to let you go ahead of them, they will offer.
2) Don’t leave your cart in the middle of an aisle while you go off to find something. Take it with you, or roll it to the side.
3) Roll your cart to the storage area or return it to the store. Do not leave it in the middle of the parking lot.
4) Don’t get into a detailed conversation with the cashier about your bunions. That is what doctors are for.
5) Don’t call a complete stranger a selfish bitch because if she is one, she might respond by hurting you.
A selfish bitch temporarily ruined the calmness of my shopping trip, but when I got home and started to unpack my groceries, she was quickly forgotten. It’s sad people are so angry and wound up. Life is a blessing and people need to get perspective. I’m glad I didn’t let that woman in line and happy I let the young man go ahead of me. I am going to make dinner, count my blessings, and keep the faith.
July 15, 2012 | 2:53 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Sadly I am often surprised by how, when given the opportunity, people are not kind to a stranger. We live in a harsh and cynical world where there is not a lot of kindness. I understand people are jaded, but when you make a conscious decision to not lend a hand to someone in need, it is a lack of decency and compassion that makes me sad and hurts my feeling.
Yesterday was a gorgeous day in Los Angeles so we drove along the coast and ended up at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. It is an outdoor shopping street with lots of places to eat, street performers, and no cars allowed. There are an insane amount of tourists, many homeless people, tons of kids, and while crowded, a fun way to spend the afternoon.
We decided to eat at a place called Yankee Doodle. Not my cup of tea, but when we are with the kids they get to choose and so we settled in and started to check out the menu. Two tables over from us was a group of about eight people having lunch. I noticed them when we sat down because the majority of the table was young, handsome, athletic men.
Sidebar: The bathroom in this place was horrific and I was tempted to call the health department. The garbage was over flowing, there was no toilet paper, toilet seat covers, or soap. I asked to speak with the manager to tell him what a nightmare it was, and he truly could not have cared less. He said it is cleaned every 15 minutes, which was a blatant lie.
I let him know the bathroom had not been cleaned in 15 days and he told me he would take care of it. No apology, no embarrassment, just a smug attitude that implied he could not be bothered with me or my concerns. That’s not part of this story really, except to say that if you have a choice of using that bathroom or the street, the street is cleaner.
As we ordered lunch, I noticed a commotion with the group of young men. One of them appeared to be choking as another one of them gave him the Heimlich maneuver. Everyone in the restaurant could see what was happening and not one person went to the aid of this young man. I went over and lifted his arms over his head like I did when my son was young.
He was clearly shaken and afraid, so I treated him as if he was my own child and tried to relax and comfort him. I rubbed his back, and leaned over so I could talk into his ear. I told him he was fine, to breathe and not be afraid. I assured him I was there and everything would be okay. I offered to call paramedics but he was better and they were not needed.
I stayed with him for a couple of minutes to make sure he drank some water and could breathe deeply and without discomfort. I turned to his friends, who were all standing and visibly shaken, and told them it was okay. I let them know I never missed an episode of ER or General Hospital, and I had it covered. The young man was fine, so I went back to my table.
In the several minutes that I was with this lovely young man not one person come over to see if he was okay, of if we needed help. Waiters and waitresses continued to work and the manager I complained about the bathroom to simply looked on. People continued to talk and eat as they looked on. They watched his distress without moving a muscle.
I found the entire thing to be sad and pathetic. Sad that it never occurred to anyone to extend kindness to a stranger, and pathetic that we live in a society where when given a chance to be decent, people turn the other way. It was also upsetting from the perspective of a mother. What is it were my son choking? Would nobody help out my baby?
As we were eating our lunch the young man came over to thank me. He told me he appreciated my help, that I made him feel safe, and he was so thankful I got involved. It was a lovely moment and I let him know I was happy he was okay and that I appreciated him coming over to say thank you. I was thankful he was fine and happy I was able to comfort him.
Being kind to a stranger matters. In fact, as I was reminded by one of my Twitter followers, being kind to people you know matters just as much. It costs nothing to be kind. It does not take courage or an education. It simply requires that you are decent. Does every human being have the capacity to be kind and decent? I am keeping the faith.