Posted by Ilana Angel
I am 47 years old, single, open, uninhibited, aware, and sexual. I am also a mother, Jewish, neurotic, beginning a new relationship, not only in charge of my sexual self, but completely intimidated by that part of me. At a time when I should be swinging from the rafters, I wonder what God thinks of me if I embrace sex and all it has to offer.
Sex is complicated and in a city like Los Angeles, it is also creepy. Getting laid is not hard in this town. One can go on JDate and in about 24 hours the invitations will pour in. One can choose to be bold and go on Ashley Madison, where it only takes only about 5 minutes for offers to arrive. Sex is not hard to find, it is monogamy that is elusive.
I feel safe when I am in a relationship, and while I do not need a man in my life, I am happy when there is one. I enjoy the touch, companionship, and wisdom of a good man. I give everything I have to my relationships and all I ask in return is that I receive honesty, decency, and monogamy. Sex is wonderful, and being sexual is important, but I am at a point in my life where I am not willing to have sex without feelings, commitment, and monogamy. I’d love to have sex without a list of requirements, but in the end I can’t, so I applaud those who can and do.
In writing about sex, and hearing from women going through the same things, it occurred to me that we are seeking permission. Permission to be sexual and not worry about what anyone thinks, including God. If we are not married, and mothers, is it okay for us to have great sex? With whoever we want? As often as we want? From the chandelier if we want? We have a lot of questions, so I have invited some powerful and compelling voices to give us answers. When it comes to God and what the bible says about sex, who better to ask than Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom? This is a very cool Rabbi and I am looking forward to talking with him about sex and the role it plays in my being a mother and a Jew.
When it comes to sex and the ridiculous pressure we put on ourselves, there is no voice as important as Dr. Limor Blockman. Dr. Limor holds a PhD in Human Sexuality, a Master’s in Public Health & Community Medicine, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology & Behavioral Sciences. She is brave, bold, honest, and able to uncomplicate and demystify sex for us. I could write a book about how I think men think about sex and it would be one page long because I don’t think men think about sex in any profound way. That is why I am excited to have David Wygant join our panel. David is one of the most popular relationship experts in the world. Specializing in helping men and the male perspective, David’s voice matters.
It is going to be a n interesting discussion of faith, the presence of sex in our religious teachings, and how to connect the dots to be sexually satisfied while embracing a comfortable and satisfying sexual and religious life. Sex is a great thing and being a grown up should allow us to enjoy it without all the rules, most of which we make up ourselves. I am looking forward to talking about sex, always enjoy talking about faith, and am excited to discuss both in an open and safe forum with people who have the same questions, and those who will have some answers for us. I hope you will join me for a cocktail and fun night out. Sex matters, God is watching, and a good sex life requires us to keep the faith.
12.11.13 at 6:58 am | I watch in awe and stare with envy at these. . .
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.
9.15.13 at 3:14 pm | I love you Russell Brand. (381)
7.25.11 at 5:38 pm | We need more Jews! (272)
12.5.13 at 3:16 pm | Heaven has received a blessing today. (201)
October 28, 2013 | 8:05 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
I love my older sister very much and felt the need to write about her today. I mention her often here, but do not think I have ever dedicated an entire blog to her. It is time. This weekend my sister was gracious and kind in a way that I would like to think I would also be. She went above and beyond what was required or expected, and in showing kindness to someone who did not deserve it, touched my heart.
My sister is 18 months older than me. We don’t look anything alike, but you would be hard pressed to tell us apart on the phone because we sound exactly the same. I have our father’s fair English complexion, and she is olive skinned like our Israeli mother. She is a little shorter than me, a littler thinner than me, and a whole lot wiser than me. She is truly a lovely girl and we speak several times a day.
We were very close growing up and shared many friends. Other than the time I caught her kissing my high school crush Gordon in the driveway of our house, we didn’t have any fights outside of regular sisterly stuff. She is brave and strong, although she would never use those words to describe herself. I wish she could see herself as I do because then she would know how really wonderful and beautiful she is.
When my father was dying she sat with him and wrote letters to me and our siblings for him so he could tell us how much he loved us. When I called every 20 minutes to see how he was, yelling at her to not let him die until I got home, she answered every call and told me he would wait. My father died the morning of my flight to Canada and she wove a story that eased my pain.
I love and respect my gentle and kind sister. She is a great mom, loving daughter, and dependable friend. She has two teenage children who are fun and smart. She is a talented hairdresser and insanely funny. She has a giving and forgiving heart and this weekend when someone who caused her unimaginable pain died, she provided dignity to an enemy.
My sister would never refer to her as an enemy, but I would. My loyalty is to my sister not only because she is family, but because she has earned it. Life can be complicated but in the end decency is required. The Coach reminded me not everyone deserves kindness, but everyone needs it, and those who are unkind need it the most. My sister provided true kindness and she will be rewarded in countless ways.
It has been a long time since I sat across from my sister. When I see her I will hug her, kiss her, and hold her close. I will think of my father holding her hand as he passed and as I hold the same hand I will feel him deep in my heart. Life is fragile and when given a chance to be decent we must do it because it is a blessing to provide comfort to someone who needs it. My sister is my hero and inspires me to keep the faith.
October 25, 2013 | 12:44 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I went to see the movie “Mondays with William” last night and I was deeply moved by it. If you have an opportunity to see it I would recommend that you do. It is the story of a homeless man in Los Angeles who lives his life with the amazing gifts of an artist, and also schizophrenia.
The movie follows art dealer Marcelle Danan as she meets painter William Laga and becomes invested in him as both an artist and a human being. Mr. Laga is a kind and gentle soul who is seemingly unaware of his illness. He is smart, funny, handsome, talented, and a little broken.
We are quick to throw away things that are broken, and this movie shows us that sometimes real beauty lies in things that are not perfect. Nothing is perfect in life so why do we judge so quickly? Marcelle met a man that was broken and made a conscious decision to see beauty.
The scenes with Mr. Lago’s mother made me cry. As a mother myself I struggled to understand the depth of her pain, but also heart retching to completely understand the depth of love she has for a son she no longer knows. I left feeling blessed to have my beautiful son.
You will leave the movie in awe of Willian Lago’s talent, and inspired by the generous heart of Ms. Danan. I was honored to meet them both at the event and without even thinking about it I hugged Marcelle when I met her. She makes me want to be a better person and I admire her.
William was lovely and I hope that he understands what his work and story have meant to those who know him, and what it will mean to all of us who are discovering him through this film. There is undeniable beauty in the broken and we can all see it if we look closely and keep the faith.
October 23, 2013 | 7:54 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
I have long thought my home is haunted. Fiddles the cat will go onto the balcony and just start talking. She will sit on a chair and appear to be having a conversation with someone in the other chair. She tilts her head during the silence as if she is listening, and will then respond. When she comes back in she will always look back over her shoulder as if to give a final glance goodbye. She has been doing this since the day she got here.
It used to freak me out but Fiddles is so calm when she is chatting to the ghost that I assume it is someone friendly who likes cats and is happy for the company. I really believe she talks to someone and it is sweet. Scary as hell if I allow myself to think about it with any seriousness, but still lovely they chat. It would now appear that our balcony guest has moved into the house.
On Monday at about 2:30 in the morning, I heard a drawer in my son’s dresser open and get slammed shut. It was so loud it caused me to sit up in bed. I immediately called out to my son thinking he must be awake. He responded by asking if I heard his drawer. I told him I did and asked what he was doing up. He said he was in bed sleeping and he woke up from the sound of the drawer slamming. We were both a little spooked.
The drawer closed again, my son ran to my room in one second, and we waited for it to happen again, which it did not. My almost grown son was suddenly my little boy again and he finally fell back asleep in my arms as we both tried to sleep with one eye open. We talked about it in the morning, deciding it must have been the cat because you know cats like to open and slam drawers with their paws just for fun in the middle of the night. Right?
Last night my phone rang at 1:00 am. Someone was looking for Brenda. I don’t know who Brenda is but I was pissed to get her call. I let them know it was a wrong number, but I was now up. I made a cup of tea and read Torah for a few minutes. I was finally able to fall back asleep after about an hour. Then at 2:30 my phone rang again from a blocked number, nobody was there, but now I was up. That is when things started to get weird.
There was banging under my bed as if someone was hanging a picture on the bottom of my box spring. Important to note that there is nothing under my bed. Not one single thing. I turned the light on and looked under the bed. Sidebar: Who does that? It was like in a horror movie when the stupid kids go into the woods and you are yelling at the screen for them to not go but they do. I looked, there was nothing, but I was scared.
I sat up in bed and then the banging started again. I was in my son’s room in under a second, he asked what the banging was, and again we snuggled up and fell asleep with one eye open. Just in time for Halloween, there appears to be something going on at my place. Not sure if it is Fiddle’s friend from the balcony, or if perhaps they invited a few new pals over, but I have not had a good night’s sleep for two days and it has left me tired.
I don’t even know if I believe in ghosts, but I am certainly more open to the possibility now. It will be interesting to see if anything happens tonight. By interesting of course I mean it is scary and not at all interesting. There is something going on in my home and perhaps an interrogation of the cat is in order. Fiddles knows what is happening and she needs to spill the beans. Did I just say my cat needed to tell me something? Dear Lord.
It is not bad enough my home is haunted, but now I am the crazy cat lady who is going to sit her cat down to get some answers? Oy vey. There is something quite comforting about having a spirit here because I figure they needed a place to go and my home was comfortable for them. On the other hand I don’t like it. Not one bit. I will be sleeping with one eye open again tonight, hoping for sleep, praying for silence, and keeping the faith.
October 22, 2013 | 7:26 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
I am stressed out this week and am somewhat overwhelmed. Between college apps for my son, working on a book proposal, writing, watching way too much reality television, shooting a new reality show for BiteSize Networks, and dating someone new I really care about, it has all made me a little crazy. Not bad crazy, just unnecessary crazy.
When you date at this stage of life there are a lot of variables. Kids, work responsibilities, and just the daily complications life brings. I am dating the Coach and not afraid to say I adore him. He is really lovely and I feel very thankful to have found him. We are both parents, have different schedules with our kids, and each work a lot of hours.
The mature and practical side of me knows things are great and we are together when we can be, but the part of my heart that has a schoolgirl crush on a wonderful man wishes we could be together more. It is odd to be dating at this stage of life and I worry I am not handling it well as my desire to be honest is coming out more as crazy than my simply sharing.
I have not really written about Coach because I don’t want to blow it. He is special and I worry that I will write something to make him uncomfortable, so I don’t write about him, when the truth is I could write about him a lot. I’m only writing about him now because so many of you have written to ask me how it is going. It truly is so sweet that you care about us.
I have written about bad dates, good dates, winners, and losers. I have shared an important relationship here, and also cried to all of you when my heart was shattered. Today I feel like I am stumbling a little bit and know sharing it here will help get me back on track. I’m already feeling better than I did earlier and am reminded how all of you matter to me.
Coach makes me happy. He is calm, level headed, smart, funny, kind, decent, sexy as hell, and such a good kisser that on occasion this nice Jewish girl from the valley can see Jesus floating above me as we kiss, giving me a thumbs up. He is a calming influence on me because he is a grown up and there are no games. We are honest, open, and decent to each other.
I enjoy his company, am proud to be with him, and look forward to seeing where it goes. He is lovely and that you inquire about him makes me smile. I feel like the Coach and me, along with my readers and me, are invested in each other and it makes me proud that I am writing in a way that connects us. Not sure I could try another relationship without your support.
Last night the Coach called and I was a crazy person. I allowed my insecurity and girlish madness to affect what I heard and what I said. I texted a passive aggressive response to a kind gesture from him, and while I wrote it I knew I was being crazy, and simply could not stop myself. In the end it was ridiculous but his response shed light on who he is.
He wrote back right away even though he could not speak, so I could be calm and not panic about being crazy. He then called me, and not only explained himself, but allowed me to also explain myself. He let me cry, made me laugh, and was kind even though we both knew I was being a crazy person. It is a very fine line between being honest and being crazy.
It is a new relationship and also a friendship I value very much. I believe communication is the single most important thing to ensure a successful relationship and I always want to feel secure and safe enough to share my truth. However, when my desire for honesty crossed into crazy he embraced me with his words and it was lovely because he gets me.
I won’t write about Coach too much because I want to be selfish and keep him for me. Know he is wonderful and I am grateful to have been brave enough to try again. My bravery can be credited to those who come to read everyday. You may be just one try away from something great so keep trying. There are no guarantees of course, but trying is required.
Coach, thank you for being a mensch. You allowed me to talk it through and figure it out. To those of you who read, borrow the bravery I get from you to be brave yourselves. In the words of A.A. Milne, by way of my darling friend Danielle, "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." Thank you for encouraging me to keep the faith.
October 20, 2013 | 4:36 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I went to a BBQ on Saturday that was unlike any BBQ I have ever been to. I ventured out of the valley, which I rarely do, and headed for the marina where I was in for an interesting afternoon. It was an eclectic group of people and I was fascinated. By fascinated of course I mean it was hard for me to not pull out a pen and paper to take notes.
When I arrived the concierge welcomed me with a smile. I felt quite fancy as I mentioned the group I was to meet and was quickly elevated to A List status. I’m just a girl from the valley, and this was a little out of my element. I headed to the pool to meet my new friends and it was as if I entered another world.
There were beautiful people in the pool, countless people walking around, and my group shouting out to all with familiarity, even though many were strangers. If you mix Spring Break with Melrose Place, throw in Breaking Bad and a visiting day at the United Nations, you get a picture of what it was like. I loved with the whole thing.
There was a celebrity chef, a television star, geniuses in the world of video gaming, literary giants, a mish mash of others, and little old me. Liquor was flowing, food was abundant, and I quickly learned that not only does everyone have a story, when it comes to love and relationships, everyone’s stories are the same. We are all looking for something.
Married, divorced, single, dating, gay or straight, people are all wounded when it comes to their relationships. I arrived thinking I would have nothing in common with these people, and in the end we were all connected by our search for love. Our view of love may be different, but the search is the same. People are lonely, broken, and jaded by love.
From going through a divorce and dating again, to dating the wrong kinds of people, to cheating on your partner, to hating going home because you can’t stand your partner, to swearing off love due to a broken heart, everyone at the BBQ had a story, and a golden nugget of information I needed in order to have a successful relationship.
I also happily gave my opinion about relationships to people I just met. I could say I was able to share due to a little push from my pal Jose Cuervo, but the truth is I didn’t drink anything. I was soaking it all in and interested in the opinions. Men have different views than women on these things, and my head was spinning from the information.
I think the most important thing to a successful relationship is communication. Couples fight when there is a miscommunication of needs, or when they don’t say what they are thinking, but get mad at their partners for not reading their minds. People want companionship, friendship, touch, support, and a witness to their lives. That takes communication.
I am an advanced communicator. Some men can handle it and some cannot. I am low maintenance in more ways than I am high maintenance. I am someone who is looking for a partner. I want to share my life, embrace and build a family, and have someone to turn to and be able to say, “Do you remember when we….?” I want a new history.
I am not good at dating. I am however, brilliant at relationships. I am independent enough to be able to embrace time on my own, and old fashioned enough to want to take care of my partner. I can work a 10 hour day, go home clean the house and make dinner, and still want to make out. The only thing I ask in return is respect, decency, and communication.
It is fun to discuss relationships with new people. You can ask ten people one question and get a hundred different answers depending on the day you ask them. To be in a group of handsome men is eye opening. It shines a light on not only how I am perceived by the opposite sex, but how I perceive myself. Turns out I am quite fabulous.
Everyone deserves to be loved, and the search for love would be easier if we stopped judging each other and realize everyone has their own view of what love is. We must allow everyone to feel they are worthy, but it is up to them to determine what, or who, they are worthy of. In the end if we feel unworthy, we will attract unworthy.
That said, who are we to determine what is unworthy? For me, a successful relationship is one where I never have to wonder what my partner thinks about me and us. If he loves me, I want to know it. If he is mad at me, let me know. If he wants to jump my bones, share your desire. If the way I jump his bones needs a tweak, teach me. Communicate.
I planned to go by the BBQ for an hour and spent the better part of the day with a fabulous group of people. They made me laugh, think, hope, and learn. I left with new friends, and a clear desire to not judge how love looks to other people. In the end love is like BBQ. it’s ready when it’s ready and best when not rushed. There is no need to hurry.
In sitting with this fabulous group of people and hearing their stories of dating in Los Angeles, I laughed, cringed, shook my head, and was reminded it is not easy, but it is possible. It requires patience, kindness, decency, and communication. For the lucky ones who are able to find a Coach, we are reminded anything is possible if we keep the faith.
October 17, 2013 | 6:57 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
This week I experienced a perfect evening. It was one of those nights where you think everything is good in the world. By world of course I mean the exact place where you are. I was relaxed and happy, focused on who I was with and what was being said, without worrying about anything. I felt safe and comfortable in the company of someone I admire and respect.
I have a lot of things going on. My son is applying to college, I’m having dental work done, my blogs are leading to new things in my professional life, and I have a lot on my mind. I’m not a good sleeper but after my perfect evening I crawled into bed and fell asleep. By letting go of my own noise I was able to embrace quiet and get some much needed rest.
I have a lot of hopes and so I pray. Most of my prayers are for my son, family, and friends. I believe in the power of prayer and when I pray it is for those who matter to me, and a lot of the time for strangers I come across in my everyday life. I went to minyan this week and found myself saying prayers for people who matter to me, but I also prayed for myself.
I felt a bit uncomfortable praying for me. I often pray for guidance, but I don’t pray for myself to receive anything, yet this week I prayed for something just for me. Not a material thing, but something I wanted for my heart and soul. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the day I asked God to help me, was the night I slept so well after so many sleepless nights.
The most important part of Jewish prayer is the time we spend looking inside ourselves to see what our role is in the universe, and our relationship to God. I am very close to God. He has eased my sorrow, given me strength, counted my tears, and guided me to places within myself where my courage can be found. My prayers are simple, yet important. I value prayer.
I pray in English, and Hebrew, in silence and aloud. There have been times in my life where I could feel the presence of God with me, and other times I struggled to feel it. I have been lost and he has guided me home, and times when I didn’t even know I was lost and he found me. I am blessed through prayer and truly have no expectations from God.
I am responsible for my own happiness, but I believe God wants me to be happy, healthy, and whole. I do not question God. I do question myself. I wonder if I am making the right choices and if I am being a good mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I wonder if I will find a beshert to witness the second half of my life. I wonder and I pray. Often.
This week was the most relaxed I’ve been in a long time. I was able to listen, laugh, be quiet, and not think so much that I could not enjoy the moment. Life is full of blessings and we often miss them because life is too noisy. Joy comes from simple things and this week I allowed my life to be simple. In the simplicity came real joy and realized prayers.
I spoke to someone this week about the saying, “There but for the grace of God go I”. I think of this often. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, or that God will not give me more than I can handle. I do believe however that if God leads me to it, he will lead me through it. God is good and prayer allows me to have faith. Not only in God, but in myself.
Faith is the thing I build my life around. It is not about God, or religion, it is just about faith. By definition, faith is the confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. I have faith. In times of both joy and sorrow I live my life with faith. No matter who you pray to, how often you pray, or what you pray for, there is comfort in faith.
It is important to not only pray in times of crisis or fear, but to also pray when things are good. God likes to hear from me, and it is when I am happy that I am best able to hear him in return. I don’t need to be in a place of worship to pray. Prayer is personal and needn’t be formal. Prayer is a free and easy thing we can do for ourselves.
There is a Yiddish proverb that says when man plans, God laughs. I have a lot of plans and it is in those plans where I store my hope. God is laughing with me not at me. I am on a new path and the view is lovely. I will meet many people during my lifetime and today I feel lucky to have met someone who is coaching me on wonderful new ways to keep the faith.
October 16, 2013 | 2:53 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I was speaking to someone about Maya Angelou yesterday and in bringing her up in conversation I was reminded to revisit some of her teachings. I have long been inspired and moved by Ms. Angelou. Without her ever having looked into my eyes, I cannot think of another human being who knows me so well. I admire and respect this woman for so many reasons, but today I feel gratitude for her teaching me to be quiet.
I sometimes struggle with allowing my mind to embrace silence. I think about things and the constant thoughts, ideas, worries, and dreams often keep me awake at night. I am not a great sleeper and have tried different medications and homeopathic remedies to sleep better. Sometimes they work, but mostly they don’t. Rather than sit up and worry about my not sleeping, I use my sleepless nights as a time for prayer.
Last night I could not sleep and I turned to Maya for comfort. I searched online for quotes by Ms. Angelou and spent three hours reading through them. Not just reading, but listening. I was willed by her words to be quiet and listen. I decided that with each quote I read, I would really focus on what she was saying by reaching for understanding, not just racing through from one quote to the next without hearing her.
I want to share three quotes I read last night that had me thinking this morning. Not only thinking, but feeling a need to be quiet. Self-reflection is something I need to do more often. These quotes have inspired me to be quiet today and focus on listening not speaking. I am making a conscious effort to embrace quiet, knowing that I will learn things of great value. My words are important, but my silence will bring peace.
“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” I used to read this quote and get fired up. As women we can take this quote to a whole other level. When we apply it to men our voices change and we become angry towards all men and protective of each other. If we viewed it from a different perspective would the meaning be altered to have less value? What if we made someone who had no options a priority?
If I make this thought about the needs of others not myself, it becomes about grace and kindness. Maya Angelou is a lady of grace and her shared words bring me a calmness that allows me to think in a way that does not revolve around only myself. Not everything is about me, which I understand, but how I interpret things determines the direction of my life, so my choice to be quiet allows me to live my best life and experience joy.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This is one of my favorite quotes and I reference is almost daily. In the quiet of last night I saw it with a fresh perspective. Who someone shows me they are, it may only be who they are with me. For example, if a man cheats on woman does it mean he will cheat on every woman he is with? Once a cheater, always a cheater? I do not believe this is true.
Once an asshole, always an asshole? Yes. I was once hurt by a friend and asked a Rabbi for guidance. My friend was in recovery from drug addiction and I felt bad I was mad because she had done so much to be sober and her best self. The Rabbi told me if someone was an asshole and using drugs, then became sober, they were probably still an asshole, just sober. She was who she was and it was okay for me to think she was an asshole.
When someone shows you who they are, and that person is not kind or good for you, believe them. Who we are to each other is not always who we are to everyone. I don’t want to be someone who judges someone on their past. There are exceptions of course, but in the simplest of ways, I don’t want to judge someone for past indiscretions when those indiscretions were not committed against me. People need to be shown kindness.
“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry, to get my work done, and try to love somebody, and have the courage to accept the love in return.” This quote hit home for me. Love requires courage and while I am not always brave and in many aspects of my life, when it comes to love I am courageous. I believe in love and I know it will be found. Courage requires one to be bold, but also quiet. In the end I am only responsible for myself.
I put myself out there everyday. I write my truth, share my feelings, express myself, and try to have no fear in terms of love. I freely tell those I love that they matter to me. I let them know I love them, and when the love is given back I am happy. When my friends, family, and most importantly my son, tells me they love me I am able to experience grace. Today I am loved, able to love, and God willing I will be able to sleep.
Maya Angelou is a remarkable woman and if you are not familiar with her teachings, I recommend you take the time to listen to her. To really appreciate her wisdom you must be willing to be quiet and listen. It has been a hard lesson for me to learn, but today I feel like I did okay. I was able to turn off the noise, focus on the quiet, and was rewarded with comfort. I am finding my way and blessed with the ability to keep the faith.