Friday, July 29, 2011

Autonomy by Robin Gorman Newman

We received a notice in the mail today from Seth's daycamp.  They don't waste anytime trying to get you to sign on the dotted line for next summer.  This summer isn't even over...thankfully....and I certainly don't want to wish it away.

The flyer was an invitation for Seth, who enters third grade in the fall, to attend one week of sleepaway as part of his daycamp experience next year.  They make special arrangements for kids age 9 and up.

We asked Seth if he might like to do it, and he said he wasn't sure.  I could tell he was intrigued by the notion, but nervous at the same time.  He asked if there would be daddy long legs there.  I said there might be since the rooms are cabins, and the grounds are very rustic. Had to be honest.  He detests spiders.

Seth is growing up....quickly.  To imagine him on his own for a week is something that's a bit hard for me to swallow.  I know the day will come, if he chooses to attend, but how will the house feel without him?

As much as I get overwhelmed with his clutter of toys all over, laundry on the floor, empty drink containers, pee stained toilet seats, etc., I adore his company...well...most of the time. There are times when I need my own space, as anyone does.  But, he's generally an upbeat, kind kid who, yes, tires me out, but who makes me laugh and gives hugs like no other.

Would he like sleepaway?

We put him to bed now...and my husband lays with him most nights until he nods off.  We help him put on pajamas...yes he can do it himself...but he prefers not to.  We help him dress in the morning....sure he can pick out his own clothes and put them on, but he welcomes assistance.  We prompt him to brush teeth and pee before bedtime.  Would he do it on his own?  I imagine he'd mimic the other boys who would be in his bunk.  Would he come home a changed chlid?  Would he resume his old habits?  Would I miss it if he didn't?  It's nice to feel needed, but it's also good to know that, especially if we're in a rush, he can get himself prepared to leave the house.

Parenting is all about raising a child to go out into the world and embrace his autonomy.

We know we've done our job when we can send our child out there with confidence, strength, good values, street smarts, etc.

No parent lives forever, and later moms may have an even higher consciousness of this fact.  Though I don't dwell on it, I already know what it feels like to lose a mom....who never saw me become a mom.  So, I know all too well that the best you can do as a mother is to let your child know they'd be okay without you. I'm not suggesting you need to verbalize that, but rather instill in them a sense of security and inner peace to know they can conquer whatever lies ahead, and to embrace all that life has to offer, and to always hold the love of their parents in their heart, where it will never fade, whatever the future brings.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

These Dreams ... by Liimu

Last week, I told you guys how excited I was to audition for the Voice on NBC. What an experience that was. On my way up to NJ, I heard Alicia Keys ballad version of “New York State of Mind” and got chills –this was really my time. I was going to be the one to make it! I got to Jersey City about 7 pm the night before and picked up my friend, Gabbi, who would be hosting me for the night. We went by the stadium to see if people were already lined up. They were, but for the Rihanna concert rather than the auditions. The security guy said we couldn’t line up for auditions before 3:30 the next morning. I was thrilled that I wouldn’t have to get in line at midnight.

Before turning in for the night, I sang my audition song for my friend and she said I’d never sounded better. I slept only a couple hours, I was so excited that my dreams were finally going to come true.

My friend and I met at the stadium at 4 am and were told that we couldn’t line up for the auditions until 5. We parked in a nearby hotel parking lot and I applied my makeup and redid my braids (it was going to be 102 degrees later that day so I wasn’t taking any chances with curls). As it turned out, we were near the front of the line so we were in the stadium by 7:30 am. The guy in front of me in line asked me if I had ever auditioned for anything before and I told him no, I hadn’t. “But hey, it only takes one time,” I said with confidence, truly believing that this was the only time I would ever have to stand on line to audition.

When we got inside the stadium, I had to go to the bathroom, but everything moved pretty quickly. We stood in corrals waiting for our registration bracelets and were told that we would be auditioning in groups of ten. I remembered to put my high heels on while we stood in line and danced to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” along with a friendly child psychiatrist in a wheelchair in the line next to me who had driven down from New England and was auditioning for the first time.

When we were finally shuttled up to our audition room, I could feel the adrenaline begin to rush through my veins. The assistant producer was counting to ten to determine who would be in the first group and thanks to the fact that the girl in front of me was a minor and her mom wouldn’t be counted, I was lucky number ten. Because I was the last to be welcomed into the audition room, I was the first to audition.

The assistant producer asked me my name and age. When I told her I was 41, she said I didn’t look it. “Great,” I said. “Then can we say I’m 26?” Polite laughter. I sang my song as I had practiced it, and the room erupted in applause when I finished. “Nice,” she said. “Do you have anything else?” I told her I could sing a faster song, either old school or new school. At this, she turned to face the room. “We want contemporary songs. We want to be able to picture you as an artist performing a song that would be on the radio today, so don’t just pick a song that allows you to sing the big notes. Pick a song that shows who you are as an artist.” So why, reader, did I then choose to sing “Forget You,” by Cee-Lo? Any of you who have checked out my reverbnation page ( know that I am nothing like Cee-Lo. The reason I sang it is that every other current song I know jumped right out of my head at that moment. Of course, driving home I remembered I could have sung “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus or “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood or “Because of You” by Kelly Clarkson. But in that moment, I didn’t know any contemporary songs at all.

Still, I have to admit that I was stunned silent with surprise when we got to the end of the auditions and she said, “Thanks to all of you for coming, we’re not going to ask any of you to come back. Hope to see you for Season 3.”

I was devastated. I called my friend Kelly, who is an absolute guru with regard to employing the law of attraction to manifest the reality of your dreams. She had called me the night before to say she had goosebumps and that meant I was going to get it. When she heard I had been rejected, she was truly shocked, she said. I told her I was feeling like giving singing up for good, and I was mad that it’s so deeply in my blood that I knew I’d never be able to do that. It’s like someone who has come to such a low point in their life that they want to kill themselves, but they have been raised to truly believe it’s a sin and so they know they must go on.

She said it was good for me to honor my feelings and be sad, but that she wanted me to work on getting back to positivity and hope in the coming days. That she wanted me to google how many people got famous after 40 (not many, I’ve since come to learn). She said she believed in me. I started to feel better, and hopeful again. Then I got a text from my husband, saying he was genuinely surprised, and even more surprised by how disappointed he also was. Considering the fact that passing the auditions was going to mean many weeks away from home for me and many weeks managing all four kids for him, this was a big deal. He said, “Next year, Max will be better able to travel, anyway.” It was decided. I would audition again. I still cried for about 20 minutes before hitting the road to make my way home.

When I got home and told my children, they cried nearly as hard as I had. This was a family dream, not just mine. We were all convinced it was going to come true. None of us is ready to give up on it. I just have some work to do between now and next year, and I am prepared to do it. I will take voice lessons, I will lose the rest of the baby weight, I will have more songs prepared, I will have a better handle on our finances. This dream is far from over.

When I was helping my sister manifest the job of her dreams, she interviewed for what she thought was her dream job about a year into the process. When she didn’t get it, she was devastated. She pressed on, and I reminded her daily that if her plan was not being realized it’s because an even better one was in the works. How could God’s plan be worse than ours? Sure enough, 6 months later, she landed an even better job that continues to challenge and amaze her. For the first time in her life, she can imagine staying in this job for the rest of her life. If she’d given up on her dreams and taken a safe job at that point, she would have turned off the path right before she happened upon the oasis she’d been promised. I have enough experience with the Law of Attraction and manifesting my desires to know that the only way I can fail is if I give up on my dreams. I’ve come too far to give up now.

A couple days ago, my 8 year old daughter found out she did not make elite championships in swimming. She swam hard and well this season, coming in at the front of the pack in all her events. She was sure she would be in A champs this year. Finding out she was at the top of the pack in B champs gave her little consolation. What did console her was when I reminded her of my experience with the Voice audition, and that in the same way, I had worked hard and was surprised and devastated to find that all my hard work wasn’t quite enough. “Honor your disappointment,” I told her. “You have every right to be sad. For a period. Then it’s time to start focusing on what you have to do between now and next year to be in A champs next year.” She smiled. She had seen me go through that disappointment and come out the other side optimistic and determined. Plus, she always likes to think that she’s just like me. I feel honored to think that she thinks that highly of me. Truthfully, I feel the same way about her.

And we are just alike. We’ve got dreams and we are determined to make them come true.
In the past, I have gone after my dreams half-heartedly and then when they didn’t come true, I would blame it on the fact that I didn’t give it my all. It’s really painful and sad when I give it my all and they still don’t immediately come to fruition, but I hold on to my belief that if I continue to believe and continue to pursue my dreams with passion and heart, the will one day come to pass. And that’s not just my dream, that’s the family dream.

To hear my audition song, click here. Please leave a comment and subscribe to my YouTube channel!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mommy Rants - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

Every Mom needs to rant and vent from time to time. Now that it is the unofficial middle of summer, with our “balmy” 100+ degree weather, it is the perfect time to get some “pet peeves” off my chest! And since the air quality alert is so high, it is recommended that everyone stay indoors. The time is ripe for my annual “Mommy Rants” blog! So, since it is so dang hot, I think I will first start with the “balmy” weather rant...
“Balmy Weather”
For close to the past two weeks, the temperatures here in NYC and surrounding suburbs has been either close to, at, or over 100 degrees. So hot, that watering my grass and potted plants for two hours in the early morning and two hours in the early evening still has left them shriveled! So hot that they are keeping the kids at my son’s day camp indoors half the day to watch movies. The early and late parts of the day, they are spending extra time in the pool. They did go to a Water Theme Park one of the days. I can’t help but think though; Why am I spending hundreds of dollars for my child to go to a pool that I could take him to and watch DVDs, which he could do at home? My rational is that he is with his friends all day, plus I get some peace and quiet. That, alone, seems like a pretty decent reason to me. I can also get so much more done when my son is out of the house. Okay, so now that this rant is somewhat rationalized, let’s move on to my favorite rant...
Day Camp
It is only halfway through camp and so far my son and the camp has “misplaced” (ie. lost) several items. The first of the “misplaced” items is two...not one, but two lunch totes!! One has my son’s name embroidered across the front in bright red!! How in the world do you loose two lunch totes in less than two weeks!? Knowing my son, the answer is entirely apparent. But don’t the counselors keep a small eye on some of this stuff?? My son also lost one shoe (yes, only one), a ratty towel (I hadn’t even noticed...the counselor brought it to my attention. At least they keep an eye on ratty towels), and a sport water bottle. Now here’s the best one: The camp also lost my son’s Epi Pen!! A medically indicated device that the ADULTS are supposed to be in charge of!! This completely boggles my mind! Since we are at our insurance limit for Epi Pens until the end of August, it would cost $150 to replace it! The camp told us they would replace it if they couldn’t locate the original. But this is absurd! Also highly negligent! And what have we accumulated in return? About 15 camp shirts! Enough so that I can throw out the small ones at the end of the season and still have more than a week’s worth for next year. If we send my son next year. I’m losing faith in a camp that loses a life-saving medical device! Oy! On to my next peeve...
RSVPing to Birthday Parties
My son’s birthday party is this coming Saturday. I sent out invitations about a month ago. As of the RSVP date, I received exactly 5 responses out of 21 invites sent. I am highly understanding of families that were away for one or two weeks and missed the RSVP date. I understand that this heat is getting to us all and we are all a little lightheaded. But I now have to track down, make calls, leave messages, and find phone numbers of the families whom have yet to RSVP! All this while finishing the final touches for my son’s party!! I even put both our phone number as well as my e-mail address on the invites, to make it even easier to RSVP!! I think I rant about this every year, and every year I think it gets worse. Along with not receiving even a handmade thank you card for a gift you went out of your way to get a party child. As Ms. Manners would say, “Tsk, tsk...”
Last, but not at all least...
Laundry, Laundry and Yet...More Laundry
I know I moaned about this several blogs ago. It seems that no matter how many bathing suits, SPF shirts, ratty towels, shorts, camp shirts and socks I stock up on, I still find that I need to do laundry every other day, for one reason or another. This time, the culprits are my son’s karate outfits. My son has karate after camp three days a week (nice, tired kid!). He only has two karate outfits because he only was able to take two classes a week when school was in session. Now he takes three. I asked to purchase a third outfit, but the karate school is out of my son’s size and is waiting until mid-August to place a large order for the Fall classes. My son is drenched when he finishes his karate classes. These clothes cry out to be laundered! So, after my son’s Tuesday and Wednesday classes, I do a load of laundry to make sure that he has a clean outfit for his Friday class. It is a good thing that they have a home delivery service called In this weather, I hardly feel like shopping for and shlepping home hoards of laundry supplies! I make a purchase online, get free shipping if I meet a quota, and in less than 2 days, I have laundry supplies on my front porch! Now how cool is that?! (Shout out to!!)
Well, that is all the ranting I can stand to give at the moment, although I’m sure there is more!
Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what your favorite Mommy Rant is! I’d love to read them all! Let’s compare rants!
Side Note: Today marks the official, second anniversary of my blogging for! I hope you have enjoyed my blogs just as much as I enjoy writing them! For those of you who are curious about what I wrote for my very first blog, I am adding a link directly to it. I must admit, it was probably one of the most creative blogs I’ve written to date!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

GUEST BLOG POST: 10 Things My Kids Tell Me with Their Hearts by Leta Hamilton

In our family, bedtime is a special time of day when I can focus on my kids without the distractions of media and TV. It gives me a chance to listen with my whole self and not the divided self that juggles work, dinner, dishes and demands from three children, who have their own perspectives on the world.

It is during the bedtime routine that they talk to me with their hearts. They know I am there for them and won’t run off to answer an “important” email (like anything could be more important than my kids, the cultivating of their souls and the joy they bring to the earth). If I were a seamstress, I would make bed sheets of the top ten things they have told me with their hearts during the hour we spend before bedtime brushing teeth, reading stories and just talking. My sheets would read:

• Take time to play with me and learn from the point-of-view of a child whose world is full of curiosity, discovery and diligent determination to understand new surroundings.

• You are only as grown-up as your last birthday – life is a continuing journey, and we shouldn’t be disappointed with ourselves for not knowing then what we know now or what we are just learning.

• If the day seems to be going completely crazy, then a good option is to just sit down and read a book or take a nap.

• Nothing is more important than love – the love you give, the love you receive and the love you grow through kind words and genuine deeds.

• The more tips you give me about life the better. I am learning from your example, so talk to me often about what it all means and there is less chance I’ll be totally confused.

• Your words make a difference. Am I “naughty” or is the thing I just did an uncooperative choice for the good of all? Please refrain from giving the message that I am “bad” in and of myself.

• I love you. I love spending time with you. I love making things with you. I love sharing my life with you. Can we spend a portion of each day just telling each other how much we love and appreciate the other?

• I make mistakes sometimes and so do you. Let’s learn the art of forgiveness together.

• What you did yesterday is a distant memory. What I did is too. The time is now. The time is always now.

• If you can learn from me as much as I learn from you, then we both will be enlightened during this journey toward my adulthood. It’s a learning curve for both of us. I have lots to teach you. Are you ready to be a student?

If I had these 10 things printed on my kids’ sheets and was forced to read at least one of them every night while tucking them in, I would be a much less neurotic mother. They are telling me all the time through their antics that life is about more than how successful I am as a radio show producer or writer. It is their wisdom from the heart that reminds me that I am the sum of my inner most beliefs about myself and they give me the courage to continually search within to remove the obstacles that are keeping me from being at least mostly at peace.

What I “do” is not nearly as influential as who I “am” in the world. With kids to keep me on my toes, I can strive to always be the highest version of myself: that person I want to be. In this way, I know I am a better mother and they reward me with their words of affirmation and cuddles. If not all of the time, then enough of the time to let me know I am on the right track. Their hearts speak volumes, and I am learning to listen.

Leta Hamilton is mom to 3 boys with another on the way (possibly a girl this time?) and host of the parenting radio show "The Way of the Toddler Hour." She teaches simple techniques for practicing inner peace in the midst of poopy diapers and piles of laundry to moms groups across the Seattle area. Her book The Way of the Toddler is an honest look at the craziness of modern motherhood and the spiritual lessons we learn from kids. More information about Leta, her radio show and upcoming guests can be found at

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Selfish Summer—by Jamie Levine

Before I had Jayda, I used to take two-week adventure travel vacations, during which time the days blurred together and I never knew if it was a Monday or a Thursday or a Sunday. But since my current overscheduled, school-plus-work-plus-Jayda-filled life has forced me to stay on top of everything and to plan what’s happening every minute of every day, it’s been a long time since I’ve forgotten what day it is. Then this summer began: While I do have a bit of freelance work to do, and four days a week during which I am obligated to entertain Jayda—days which I always keep jam-packed with fun activities—I also have quite a bit of free time for myself. And sometimes, I even forget what day it is. It’s amazing.

When the beginning of this summer first approached, I’d feared it: Months before, I’d made plans to spend much of my free time with Library Guy—who also had this summer off—and worried that following our break up, summer would only bring me too much time during which to think about him (and to be a miserable, crying mess). But I’m over that now. I now realize my greatest revenge on Library Guy is to experience bliss without him. So I’ve challenged myself to have an amazing, fun-filled, selfish summer—to do all the things I’ve missed doing for myself while I was immersed in the last few stress-filled semesters—and years. So far, I’ve gone to the movies during the day with a friend, spent hours on the beach (with adult companions—sans Jayda!), read countless trashy novels, dined on lobster for lunch on an outdoor veranda with a friend, traveled to the city to see much-missed former colleagues and acquaintances for meals and cocktails, and have been flirting up a storm and dating as much as I can: I even drove to Connecticut for a mid-day blind date with a guy who already jokingly calls my parents his “future in-laws.” We’ll see about that…

Of course I’m also using some of my time in practical, not-so-exciting ways: I’m going to all of my annual dentist and doctor's appointments, enjoy almost-daily workouts that are making me stronger than ever, save money on food-shopping by schlepping around to a variety of supermarkets instead of doing one-stop-shopping at a potentially pricy store, and have done a bunch of favors for friends whose schedules aren’t as flexible as mine is this summer. But even those favors seem somewhat selfish because they make me feel happy to be able to do them for people who have been so wonderful to me. I love this summer.

I still have a gift certificate for an hour-long massage that I need to use, have not yet taken a long-desired afternoon nap, have a bit of organizing I need to accomplish, and would like to embark on at least one interesting day-trip before summer’s end. But what else? Find inner peace? Fall in love? Change my way of thinking about some things (and some people)? The options are endless…and I do still have six weeks. Stay tuned…

Friday, July 22, 2011

ROBIN'S SHOW REVIEW: Naked in a Fishbowl

Daphne Rubin-Vega joined the fully improvised live sitcom, Naked in a Fishbowl, at The Cherry Lane Theater in NYC, for the opening night of a 5-week run that started Monday, July 18th.  It was fun to have the opportunity to see her up close 'n personal. I've been a huge fan since she originated the role of Mimi on Broadway in Rent, earning her a Theater World Award and Tony and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress in a Musical. She was nominated again for her role as Conchita in the Pulitzer Prize winning “Anna In The Tropics.”

While she didn't sing (not that I expected she would), she demonstrated impressive comedic chops and the ability to act on her feet, reminding me of the versatile talent she is. Cast ensemble regulars rallied around to create an evening that  makes for a light-hearted, "fearless" and affordable girls night out.  You never know what's gonna come out of someone's mouth.  Improv has always intrigued me in that way.  It takes real skill.

Naked in a Fishbowl chronicles the lives of six "fearless" friends in New York City who laugh together, cry together and tell it like it is...completely unscripted.  It premiered in the NY International Fringe Festival in 2007, and the cast was presented with the Outstanding Ensemble Award and hailed as the “brightest lights of the festival.” Since re-launching in 2010, this female comedy troupe has created over 30 original episodes in front of a live theatre audience. The resulting web series has garnered over 250,000 hits online and has been viewed in over 80 countries.

Situated in a landmark building in Greenwich Village, The Cherry Lane Theatre serves as a lab for the development of new American works and a home for groundbreaking productions of both new and classic theater. As New York's longest continuously running Off-Broadway theatre, Cherry Lane has helped to define American drama, fostering fresh, daring, and relevant theater for 85 years.

Naked in a Fishbown, which is not a production of The Cherry Lane Theatre, is produced by Donna De Stefano and Lauren Seikaly, and stars Kahtarine Heller, Breanna Palughi, Lauren Seikaly, Molly Knefel, Daliya Karnofsky and Rachel Axelrod.  Associate Producer is Matharine Heller, and Creative Producer is Breanna Palughi. 

The Cherry Lane Theater is located at 38 Commerce Street near 7th Avenue South. Naked in a Fishbowl is performed Monday Nights @ 7pm, July 18 – August 15th.  Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at  Running time: 1 hour, no intermission.  A new guest star is featured each week.

To see clips, episodes, or for more information, visit:  Follow them on Twitter @nakedinfishbowl 

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Follow Your Liimu

I’m excited. I’m really, really excited. Friday I go to audition for the Voice on NBC. Now some people may think I’m completely crazy to do this. I have four kids aged 8 and under, the youngest of which is a four-month old. I have my own business and I’m the primary breadwinner. I’m 41 years old. I’m probably about 40 pounds overweight. I also have an absolute passion for singing. And anyone who has ever known me knows that it’s something that’s just in my blood.

I was talking to my sister weeks ago when I was debating whether I should audition for the Voice, keeping in mind that it would probably involve waiting in line with the other masses of people who believe they were born to sing. Of course, she suggested I try to get an appointment to audition the way I did when I auditioned for Clash of the Choirs. We all know how that turned out ( During that audition process, my fears of not having the perfect situation in my life were offset by the fact that I was able to slide in at 4:30 or 5 pm, sing my song and still make it home in time to have dinner ready for my family when they got home. That’s not the case this time. This time, when I asked if I could get a special appointment time, I was told if it wasn’t convenient for me to wait in line at the appointed time, they’d be more than happy to accept an online video submission. Something in my heart told me that wasn’t going to cut it.

So on that day with my sister, I told her about my dilemma – how I wasn’t sure if I should go and audition. She asked me to tell her what it was that made me not want to do it. I said, “Fear. Fear that I have too many kids, fear that I’m too old, fear that I won’t be able to continue earning enough to support my family, fear that it’s a ridiculous crapshoot to think that I can find that needle in the haystack.” She reminded me that I always profess to live by the philosophy that decisions shouldn’t be made motivated solely by fear nor by money and that I should continue to live by that philosophy.

Then she asked me why I would want to go to the audition. I said, “That week in 2007, when I was doing Clash of the Choirs in New York, the days were long and arduous. We woke at 5 am and were going all day long from 6 am till 10 or 11 at night. Shuttled from choreography to blocking to wardrobe to vocal rehearsals, to on-camera interviews, we were pushed to the limits every minute of the day. It was hard to be away from my family and the tension and anxiety about performing each day was almost unbearable. That being said, I loved every minute of it. In fact, it was the closest I have ever come to experiencing bliss in my entire life.” She said, “Well, when you put it like that, the answer is clear. You need to follow your bliss.”

So that’s what I’m doing this week – I’m following my bliss. And I can’t wait to come back here next week to tell you that I’ve been chosen to fly to LA to audition on television in front of the blind judges. Until then, I challenge you all to step out of your comfort zone, put your fears aside and follow your bliss.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cara’s Musical Comedy Review: The Voca People - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

I had the delightful honor of seeing the most innovative, exhilarating musical comedies of all time! This past weekend my son and I went to see the new 90-minute musical, the Voca People, now playing at The Westside Theatre. This highly talented octet, singing a cappella, brought an amazing show to everyone in the audience literally to their feet!

The Voca People are a fun loving group of aliens newly arrived from the planet Voca. The Voca People realize they are visiting the planet Earth, in the heart of New York City. While frightened by the appearance of humans at first, they overcome their fear and realize they can communicate with the audience through the English language, specifically through singing. They even poke fun at a few unsuspecting audience members!

The Voca People seamlessly interact with the audience either by having them come up to the stage, bringing them on stage, or in my son’s case, asking him to assist one of the Voca People by holding the microphone for her! He was thrilled!

My son sang along to the song,“The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” He was laughing his head off when the audience was requested to sing, “Do-Re-Mi.” He especially enjoyed a musical clip of, “Who Let the Dogs Out” and “Move It, Move It.” His favorite part, however, was when the duo of Voca Scratcher and Voca Beat-On did their own skit of Urban and Hip Hop music that he was familiar with! My son was in such awe!

This new inter-galactic phenomenon is unlike any other musical I’ve ever seen. The Amazing vocal sounds, a cappella singing, with the artistic enhancement of beat box, created an unbelievable range of sounds and vocal “instruments.”  The Vocas believe that music is the source of life that brings harmony, joy and ultimately refueling of their ship, to make their way home. The show demonstrated over 70 songs, which left the audience giving the cast a standing ovation at the end!

Voca People was created by Lior Kalfo, and Shai Fishman and produced by Doron Lida, Revital Kalfo, Leeorna Solomons and Eva Price.

Cast members include: Ryan Alexander, Mercer Boffey, Laura Dadap, Emily Drennan, Tiago Grade, Chelsey Keding, Jermaine Miles, Christine Paterson, Gavriel Savit and Jonathan Shew.

The Voca People is now playing at The Westside Theatre. Tickets range from $25 - $79.50 with premium seating available. The schedule is as follows:

Monday and Tuesday at 8 pm
 (Wednesdays are excluded)
Thursday at 7 pm
Friday at 8 pm
Saturday at 3 pm and 9 pm
Sunday at 2 pm and 7 pm

If you want to see a show that will have you clapping along, snapping your fingers, and even singing out loud to vocal “fireworks,” go see Voca People! It is unforgettable!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cyma Shapiro Chats with Author Donna Scrima-Black

Q: What was your inspiration for writing "MommyBest: 13 Inspirational Lessons Derek and Dylan's Moms (and maybe yours) Never Learned in School"?
A: I had two major inspirations: my two boys, my two joys! First and foremost, it’s my way of paying tribute to the greatest gifts ever bestowed upon me - giving birth in my mid-thirties to my first and then second son—18 months later. It’s also my way of shouting out to the world: “Hey, do you women out there feel the same as I do, blown away by the transformative journey you’ve taken into motherhood? What happens to the carefully laid-out itinerary for our lives once we have children? Like me, do you need to connect with other moms about traveling into these unchartered waters, often losing your way? Do you need some Cliffs Notes and a way to share your thoughts about discovering which choices make the most sense for you to live the life you and your family so desire? “

Q: What are some of the lessons you offer the readers?
A: The lessons found in MommyBest are designed for “everyday” moms and aspiring moms who are the real “Superstars” in changing the lives of those they touch! MommyBest was designed with the understanding that women have little time, so they can read the lessons in any order, whichever seems relevant at the time, and then use the Reader Reflection Page to jot down their own responses to one day use as a springboard, if they so choose, to create their own family story. The topics range from dealing with children growing-up so quickly, to parenting opposite children, the importance of moms’ friendships, to what it was like to be an identical twin to the importance of nurturing a child’s relationship with “Grandma.”

Q: You chart an interesting course from professional woman to CEO of your house. Can you describe this change?
A: Moving up the homemaker ladder of success takes time as it took time to climb the corporate ladder. In exchange for a business plan, you’ll be following a different set of guidelines orchestrating your Life plan—preparing for your greatest investment ever: your child. During the first few months of staying at home with my son, I was in overdrive. I set tangible goals including reading several books daily to him, in order to feel as if I was accomplishing some measurable level of success, as I had at my job. Although others were urging me to rest when my baby slept, I continued to run on autopilot. I was programmed to perform on an efficiency schedule at work, so I transferred that mindset to my motherhood role, even trying to bake homemade cookies for my guests who visited. In contrast to my job, I felt completely scattered in my homemaker role at first. There was no job description, paycheck or accolades from my boss/coworkers; no power lunches or even coffee breaks. In fact, I didn’t even know when to eat lunch and had very little social interaction. It took me a long time to learn how to simply enjoy the time with my son and celebrate the many intangible moments of play and wonder.

Q: What has been your greatest challenge and your greatest failure, as a mom?
A: My greatest challenge and failure as a mom has been taking time for my husband and I to nurture our own relationship, separate from the time we spend together as a family. Since we don’t have relatives close by, we don’t have a ready-made support system for us to schedule “alone time.” It’s been a long road for me to begin to trust others with my children, but now that my boys are older, I’m becoming more relaxed about it.

Q: You are also an identical twin - an experience that has shaped your view of the world. What advice would you give women raising twins/multiples?
A: First and foremost, treat your twins/multiples as separate siblings: nurture each sibling’s strengths and recognize what makes each unique and develop those skills. Celebrate their individuality by allowing each to choose clothes, hairstyles and more.

Q: What methods do you utilize to take care of yourself?
A: (Some of my) Methods include listening to music, walking and yoga. The music helps me connect my past, present and future because I became an avid lover of music when I was a toddler, listening and dreaming all my “big girl” dreams. Walking allows me to exercise my body and soul while yoga helps me to connect with my inner being. I also spend time with my childhood best friend who, no matter how old we become, we still feel as if we’re teenagers getting into mischief.

Q: What preconceived notion did you have prior to embarking on this new career, which is now clearly dispelled?
A: I never even thought motherhood was a career—and I never gave my own mother enough credit for all the hard work she performed and how she never once complained about anything she did for us. Since women have so many more opportunities today, I thought motherhood was something women should do--in addition to whatever else they were doing. I learned it’s the most challenging “career” there is and finding the unique balance in my own life of home and career is constantly changing as I evolve as a woman.

Q: As new older moms, the experience of raising children is often intermingled with caring for aging parents, combining successful careers, and maneuvering through a "new world." What methods have you used in charting your own course?
A: When we wait to have our children in our thirties or even our forties, as many of my friends have, we often have to chart the course of our lives and possibly change directions. My best strategy for dealing with balancing all of our lives, including dealing with aging parents, is to handle one piece of your life at a time. Otherwise I become overwhelmed and I don’t do anything well. I get quiet during an overwhelming period and assess, then prioritize what I need to do first. I also find talking with friends who are going through, or have gone through similar struggles, really helps.

Q: You talk about the "Birth of a New Mother" - a phrase which resonates with me and one that I clearly love for myself. Tell me what this means to you?
A: “The Birth of a Mom” is a phrase that I use to describe the moment when my son was born. A Mom was also born: ME! I never could have imagined that the instant I held him for the first time, he reached into the depths of my soul in a way that no one before had. An indescribable bond was created and my life was magically transformed. From that moment on, no matter what else I became, or did, I was Derek’s Mom-- and then Dylan’s Mom—above all else that I have or will do.

Q: What's the single most important lesson you'd like to share with other mothers?
A: The single most important lesson I would share with other moms is to trust your “mother’s instinct” in everything involving your children. It’s the most accurate compass out there, more powerful than all the so called “experts” who will advise you on ways to raise your children. Gather and listen to those who try to help. Take what works and leave the rest. This also applies to those who will tell you that you may be “too old” to raise children. When I was a young girl, I recall sharing how I wanted to be a “young mom.” Well, while I was in my twenties, I was too busy exploring my own life. I wasn’t ready for kids. Our lives are not cookie cutter images for us to follow. Each of us has a unique path to follow, regardless of those breadcrumbs our cartoon characters left for us to search for in a make believe world. Keep it real when it comes to your own motherhood journey.

Donna Scrima-Black is a former advertising executive and teacher with a Master's Degree from Fordham University. "MommyBest” a tribute to her sons and dedicated to all moms journeying through the joyful-sometimes-tumultuous-motherhood waters to create the best life for themselves and their families. Visit

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Blinded by Love—by Jamie Levine

Two-and-a-half months ago, Library Guy broke up with me—and broke my heart. And for two-and-a-half months, I’ve held on: Held on to the fact that our break up was filled with more emotion and intensity than either of us had ever experienced in our lives…and held on to Library Guy’s admission that he’d let me go not because he didn’t love me, but because he needed to “figure out who he is without me.” It seemed to be an issue of timing and I knew in my heart that we weren’t “finished;” thus, I chose to believe that it was only a matter of time before Library Guy came back to me. And so I cried a lot…pined away for him every night…and waited.

Well, it wasn’t as completely pathetic as it sounds—I did keep super-busy with Jayda, and super-social with my friends. I went out to dinners, hit several happy hours, enjoyed a great vacation with Jayda, and even went on a bunch of dates. But I wasn’t really interested in being with any man who wasn’t Library Guy. I couldn’t let go. I didn’t want to let go. And when other men expressed an interest in me, I told them that I wasn’t ready for anything serious. I told them I was still hung up on my ex—and pushed them all away. I believed I needed to be alone—or with Library Guy.

Eventually, I did hear from Library Guy; at first, he had something I needed and we set up a time to get together. When that meeting ended in another emotional parting, I knew for certain that Library Guy wasn’t finished with me yet. And the next two times I saw him, it was clear that neither of us wanted the encounters to end. But aside from me texting him, “I try hard not to, but I still miss you…” and him responding “I know,” nothing changed between us. Until finally, last week, he reached out to me and said he wanted to talk…so I went to see him. And after another outpouring of emotions, following Library Guy’s profession of how much he misses me, how amazing he thinks I am, and how important I will always be to him, but how he can’t be in a relationship now (despite the fact that he’s been dating), I finally started to see Library Guy for who he really is: An incredibly selfish, cowardly, extremely confused and immature man. For the first time, his actions spoke to me much louder than his words. I won’t describe here exactly what happened that day—how much he tarnished my image of him and his reputed respect for me—but I will say that he unintentionally hurt and angered me more than any man ever has. And by doing so, he showed me how much better off I am without him. I finally realized that even if I’ll miss Library Guy, he doesn’t deserve me; he can’t have his cake and eat it, too. And I walked out on him this time, without looking back.

I have a good friend who’s been married for over a decade to an abusive alcoholic, yet keeps hanging on to her marriage; I also have a relative with an emotionally detached husband who’s been grasping on to her loveless relationship for years. It’s always been easy for me, an outsider, to point out both of these husbands’ flaws and wonder why these beautiful, smart, amazing women choose to stay with their less-than-worthy spouses. But now, as someone who’s been on the inside, and has overlooked many of Library Guy’s selfish actions and unreliability time and time again, I finally understand. We love who we love—and we can’t help that. And our passion, adoration for, and sometimes just simple comfort with our partner, often makes us overlook, or not actually see, the mistakes they make, or the ways in which they wrong us when we deserve so much better. And that’s a shame.

For the first time, I’m not making excuses for Library Guy, and instead, I’m calling him out on his thoughtlessness and inexcusable behavior; I’m finally seeing everything clearly. I’ve stopped holding on to a relationship—and a man—who is unworthy of my devotion because I’m no longer blinded by love. I’m disappointed…in a bit of pain…and still feeling confused about how something so good could have turned so bad. But I’m looking ahead now, instead of behind me—and best of all, I’m finally letting go. Now I’ll be able to see Mr. Wonderful when he steps into my life—because I’m no longer waiting around for Mr. Wrong.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

GUEST BLOG POST: Staying Anchored in Safe Waters by Lisa Levine Bernstein

My daughter, Jordana, barely one year old, wanted to join the “party.” A cousin of mine and I were enjoying an after dinner chat in the living room of my tiny NYC apartment and Jordana was wailing and crying in an effort to be released from her crib in the bedroom.

Jordana, now an amazingly social 20 year old, must have been angry with me for maintaining her bedtime routine while there was still an opportunity to socialize. I was not uncomfortable with her anger which I credit to my first job in psychiatric nursing.

As a staff nurse on the brand new eating disorders unit at the now defunct Gracie Square Hospital, I was anxious to be liked by my patients. It was a struggle for me to maintain the unit protocols, intended to maintain a therapeutic milieu, when it involved the wrath of one of my patients. Then, while I was discharging Julia, one of my particularly rude and aggressive patients, she thanked me. Julia appreciated that I kept her on track and made her “tow the line” despite her angry outbursts. What an amazing lesson in human nature!

In the years to come, in subsequent psychiatric nursing jobs, I often experienced the anger of patients and became more comfortable acknowledging their anger while still maintaining good limits. Admittedly, raising children is different than taking care of psychiatric patients, however, I have found that the practice of firm but loving limits apply to both. Children do not want to be in charge, and find it frightening to feel like they are the captain of the family ship. Even when they protest (and they will because that’s what various developmental stages “require” them to do), they want to know that an adult is steering the ship and keeping the family anchored in safe waters.

The world can be a frustrating place. When a child runs the show at home, she does not learn that there are barriers to getting what you want. Setting and keeping clear limits allows your child to build tolerance for frustration and actually makes his or her life out in the world happier.

When Jordana was born, followed twenty months later by Zoe, I was able to be a strong, loving parent who set limits from the start. I felt secure in their love despite tantrums directed toward me. Now that my daughters are nineteen and almost twenty-one, I know that learning how to care for patients like Julia was great training for parenthood.

So what can you do to stay anchored despite the ups and downs of childhood?

• Set clear limits and provide simple explanations (I cannot talk to you right now. You will have my full attention when I am off the telephone.)

• Be consistent but flexible depending on the circumstances (You can stay up past your bedtime because we have company.)

• Give your child time to adjust to changes and stick with what you have communicated (We will be leaving the party in five minutes.)

• Provide “time out” in the same room as the parent or caregiver so your child has time to calm down without feeling rejected.

• Let your child know when your own feelings are getting in the way (I am so angry right now that I will take a few minutes to calm down before we talk.)

Setting and keeping firm limits when your child is angry can be difficult but you will get better at it with practice. The bonus is that, over time, your child will protest less when she learns what to expect and you will enjoy each other’s company more!

Lisa Levine-Bernstein, MSN, RN, FNP has been dedicated to helping families create meaningful relationships. Her direct experience with parents and children spans over two decades. Lisa is a psychiatric nurse, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at LaGuardia College of the City University of New York and a school nurse at Great Neck North Middle School. She is a parenting workshop leader and teaches parent/child yoga and nutrition.

 Lisa holds a BS in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, an MS in Nursing from Hunter College of the City University of New York and qualified as a Family Nurse Practitioner at SUNY Stony Brook.

Having been on the front lines of parenting herself, raising four children (including two step-children who lived with her as teenagers), Lisa personally understands the challenges and rewards of raising successful children. Visit her site


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Saturday, July 16, 2011

I Want To Be An Old Woman by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

Do you ever wake up and just feel old? Could be hormones, or I’m just tired or who knows what, but I think it’s just the waning of my youth seeping ever so slowly out of me. Aging is mostly attitude, right? If I feel young, I am young. Maybe...

In my mind, aging is understanding how helpless and inconsequential one really is and not caring. The warrior self of my youth is giving way to a sense that I have little impact in the world beyond my family and even then I am but fleeting.

Oh to wax so poetically when really I am just feeling pissy. Right now, I am reading Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. It’s the third book of really profound, life-changing books I have recently read and I’m feeling depressed, sad, helpless and finally wondering how to make the world a less nutty place. The other two books I finished include The Mask of Motherhood by Susan Maushart and The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden.

I know that I am sensitive person and others might read these books and not feel as deeply or as emotionally impacted as I do. My guess is that society has always asked the question “What are we coming to...” But, when one starts asking the question and feeling powerless to change things then there is that feeling of being “old.” Now maybe if becoming old wasn’t such a horror than I might feel differently. I remember telling an older friend—a woman who was 35 years older than myself—that her time for being a “warrior” was over, but remembering and educating and sharing her wisdom was of great importance and equally as valuable.

We had been talking about Bella Abzug, who was this woman’s personal friend and who knew that Bella died feeling she was a failure. My friend was explaining that feeling and I—in my youthful exuberancewas trying to console her. Now I am beginning to understand what my friend was talking about. The wisdom of age is not valued and when the warrior self is too tired to carry on the fight (of anything that we believe in) then the feeling of hopelessness can harden in the heart like a bitter lump.

So maybe this pissiness is just mid-life angst. Angst from the German meaning a great abiding fear. Do I feel fear? I do. I am reading Skenaky’s book and feeling it deeply. Not even the reflection of seeing all that I am doing right with my daughter can remove the underlying fear I feel about everything. Fear of aging, fear of not being successful, fear of being a bad parent, fear of isolation, fear of waking up wondering how did I end up...where ever. Fear is a great motivator, but one can choke on too much of it.

When I see an old woman wearing shorts with spider vein legs, baggy knees, no makeup, gray hair and her oldness hanging all about her and she is just having fun out in the world, I know that she is not afraid. She just doesn’t care anymore. I would like to have that freedom too. It looks a lot more appealing than the old woman who is trying to be youthful in clothes, hair, makeup etc. Right now I am in the in-between stage. I sometimes feel old, but I don’t really look it and I am still very invested in maintaining a youthfulish appearance because of fear. Oldness has not fully settled on me. I am walking a fine line. I have a sense of my mortality, my smallness and a part of me still wants to fight...the warrior that is down, but struggles to their feet...a hero's journey. Yeah right, this is just life, not a movie with a three act structure and dramatic arc. Oh well...

As I often say about my daughter, she is just going through a development phase...she’ll get beyond this (whatever this is). You know, she’ll grow out of it—hopefully sooner rather than later. I think I am going through a phase and I hope I grow out of it sooner rather than later.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

A Tighter Hug by Robin Gorman Newman

I wasn't sure what I planned to blog about this week, and sadly, I've decided.

I wish this topic wasn't a viable option.

Like so many, I am horrified and sickened to the core by the senseless killing of a young boy.  An innocent child going to day camp, as does my son.  Leiby Kletzky in Brooklyn, NY, got lost walking home for the first time from his camp, and when he stopped a man to ask for directions, that man went on to ultimately make headlines as his killer.

Leiby didn't see it coming.  He just wanted to get home. Home where I imagine he felt safe and loved and probably never thought twice about his welfare. He was taken care of to the best of his parents ability. 

I can't imagine for even a second what it must feel like to walk in his parents shoes now.  In hindsight, are they questioning their decision to allow him to walk home himself? But, it was broad daylight, and he's 8.  Is that too young?

There are times when my son wants to ride his bike inthe neighborhood, and I'm in the middle of something, so I tell him to ride no further than a few houses down the block and come back.  Am I allowing him to potentially get in harms way?  Until now, I didn't look at it that way, but now I do.

Does this mean that we can never let our children out of our sight?  And, if so, at what age does walking home from camp alone become okay? 

My son saw it on the news, and we had a talk.  I told him, as I have before, never go with a stranger or ask them for help, unless it's a policeman, fireman or some other "official" figure, so to speak..I've said these things before, but this time felt different. 

Leiby could have been anyone's boy.  The killing was so random.  And, particularly, given the community, he lived in, perhaps somehow it felt secure.  But, you never really know your neighbors, I suppose, as awful a thought as that is.

We choose where we live...the town....the home we buy or rent.  But, we can't control who moves in next door or nearby.  Most of the people in my community I don't know.  Some of the faces are familiar, especially when I see them in summer at the pool, and we say hi in passing, but that's it.  I don't know what happens behind closed doors.  We want to give people the benefit and believe in goodness, but evil does lurk around in unexpected places.

That said, I certainly don't want to become paranoid or alarm my son.

I shared words of wisdom (in my head, warning) that I hope will resonate with him.   I believe they will.  And, after we finished our chat, I gave him an even tighter hug than usual.  I was grateful to be able to put my arms around him.  It also felt a bit like a hug for Leiby in heaven.  He deserved to experience many more hugs in his lifetime.  Now I send a hug to his parents, whose lives are changed forever.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Weekend of Reality Checks - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

I went to my High School Reunion this past weekend. Although it was rather pricey, I am glad that I went. My best friend was my “date.” I took this as a serious event because I truly haven’t been out anywhere on the weekends for close to two years. This was my one exciting night to “live it up!” I had my nails manicured, my hair professionally done and even splurged on a fancy dress! After such a long time, it felt so good to be pampered and feel special. Especially when you consider that I usually walk around in “lounging” clothes that are four sizes too big for me, no make up, and my hair up in a hair clip. For one night, I truly wanted to feel like Cinderella! And Cinderella I was!

The reunion, however, ended up being a rather eye opening experience for me in many ways. I went to the reunion knowing that I would probably disclose to a handful of people that I was getting divorced. I was shocked to discover that about a handful of people already knew through reading my blogs!! None of these individuals had ever commented on anything I had ever written, so it was quite an overwhelming experience to discover that not only do they read them, they read them every week!! This was my first reality check: people actually read the stuff I write. I’m still dumbfounded.

My next reality check came about through speaking openly with a couple former classmates who disclosed that they were also having trouble with their marriages. Thankfully, they were seeking counseling.

I then ran into a woman who has quite a meek personality. She has three sons, all in their teens; the oldest being 17. This woman flat out told me that she gave up parenting her eldest child because he was such a challenge. She even stated that she couldn’t wait until he turned 18 because she was going to tell him to leave the house. In this same conversation, she was discussing how “delightful” her other two sons were and how they obeyed and never gave her a lick of trouble. I felt for her eldest son. It sounded as if he was completely misunderstood by his mother because he was “more difficult” than his two younger brothers. He sounded very much like my own tenacious son. I said a silent prayer that I have the knowledge and fortitude to not only understand my son so well, but to channel his “tenacious,” “challenging” strengths and establish limits on his occasional “over the top” behavior. I left our conversation feeling disappointed that this lovely woman will probably never have a strong, loving relationship with her eldest son. Deep in my heart, I know that I always will. Another reality check: I have finally learned how to parent my son effectively.

I then spoke with women who were dealing with the “Sandwich Gap.” These women were faced with not only raising their immediate families, but they had to deal with caring for their medically unstable or ailing, elderly parents. The women that I spoke with all lived several states away from their parents. Some had siblings who lived across the country. They all related how painfully difficult it was to do the very best for their parents but physically be so far away. I certainly know firsthand what they were all facing. I had to single-handedly take care of my stubborn, ailing, elderly father for approximately ten years. And once I had my son, the burden was so large, we ended up having him sell his house and live with us. He was heartbroken leaving his house. But I just could not drive two hours, round trip, with a baby, at least twice a week, to tend to my father’s medical needs. My father died four years ago living a somewhat completely independent life, watching his Grandson grow a little more each day, until he reached 89 years old. I am both thankful for that and thankful that I don’t have the added stress of caring for him at this rocky time in my life. Thank goodness for small (and large) miracles. Reality check: I thankfully am beyond the “Sandwich Gap” stage.

I then discovered that there are more Later Moms than I even realized. And I blog for a Later Mom website!! Even more interesting was the fact that many of their children were “only children” and non of the moms made a single comment about regretting that they couldn’t / didn’t have another child or that they felt “badly” that their child was an “only.” Instead, we all sat and discussed our children’s individual strengths, or in my case, some difficulties. We lamented about being “so damn tired!” all of the time. Mostly, though, we were just so thankful to have our children and be able to parent them with wisdom, more tolerance and, when necessary, a pinch of humor! I wanted to shout out, “bravo!” that the stigma I faced growing up as an “only child” was now fading away throughout society. Reality check: “Only” children are finally accepted by the world around them!

I left the reunion late, as a group of us were still reminiscing. I fell into bed remembering that my son had a birthday party to go to at a local park the next morning.

“Beep, beep, beep, beep...,” I heard as my son, the human alarm clock, woke me up at 7 am. I had less than 4 hours of sleep. He was excited to go to the party and didn’t want me to “oversleep.” If I had espresso in the house, I think I might have eaten it, I was so dead tired. I perked myself up with quite a bit of coffee. We dressed and I packed a bag with extra clothes, towels and a bathing suit as I knew there were sprinklers at this park. Off we went.

As we walked into the park and approached the party, I noticed a neighbor whose older son is in my son’s class. I hadn’t seen her in over a year. Little did I know, she would be my next reality check.

We sat down in the shade. She inquired about my son and his learning challenges. I gave her the latest update. I then said, “We should catch up more! I hardly see you any more!” Then the reality hit. She explained how her younger son was “severely” developmentally delayed in every category imaginable. He was receiving 25 hours of assorted therapies each week, from physical and occupational therapy all the way through speech therapy and other behavioral therapies. I was absolutely stunned. She said that the worst part was that her son did not display enough deficiencies in any individual, typical disability category, so he could not be officially diagnosed as Autistic, nor having Aspergers Syndrome, nor any other developmental behavior disorder. She explained that although she is able to get all of this therapy through Early Intervention, when he gets to grade school level, she doesn’t know how she is going to get services for her son if she doesn’t have a true diagnosis for him. I sat there with my jaw dropped open, utterly speechless. What struck me as quite odd was that she explained all of this with practically no display of emotion. She was almost too calm. As I watched my son, the social chairman, organize what the children at the party were going to do next, I said another blessing that although my child had learning difficulties, he eventually will overcome most of them. And the kid could make friends with a doorknob. Literally. Reality check: My son’s learning disabilities could be far worse. I feel blessed that they are manageable.

The last reality check of the weekend also occurred while at this party. I saw a mom I knew who had battled breast cancer in the past, but had been in remission for quite a while. As we began to talk, she disclosed to me that at her recent follow-up, they discovered that the breast cancer was back and “highly aggressive.” She began to tear up when she said, “I might not be alive to see my daughter turn 9!” This hit home the hardest. My own mother died of ovarian cancer when I was 19 years old, and my biggest fear in life is getting cancer as a divorced mom, with a young child. This woman had also gone through a very messy divorce recently. Reality check: Beyond self-explanatory.

After hearing all of these stories, each one even more devastating than the one before, I came to the conclusion that I should consider myself blessed. Yes, my divorce has devastated me almost irreparably, but I will go on with my life and have my precious son by my side. I’ve already been through dealing with an ailing, elderly parent. I don’t have to fit that stress into my already over-stressed life. Yes, my child has learning disabilities. But they are not affecting his sense of self-esteem and he can function in a mainstream classroom; at least up to this point. And he truly is an intelligent kid, learning disorders and all. He will be able to overcome his learning difficulties. And I am most blessed that even with my myriad of medical problems, none of them are life threatening and all are being managed very well with proper medications and routine follow-ups. I am eternally thankful for that.

Thus, my weekend of reality checks. I think I needed this splash of cold water on my face. Nobody’s life is perfect. And there are so many people that I know personally who are going through the same if not worse calamities in their lives. I consider myself blessed. And I pray for those whose lives are even worse than mine. You can never foresee what life has waiting around the corner for you.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011


AGE: 54
BIO: Associate Artistic Director Roundabout Theatre Company; Director/Executive Producer of Showtime's cable television series Weeds; Five-time Tony-nominated theatre director
NAMES/AGES OF CHILDREN: 18 month twins, Charlotte and Parker

What made you want to be a dad? I don't think there was ever a time growing up when I didn't think about becoming a dad. I always liked kids....sort of a DNA thing. Of course, being gay, I thought this probably won't happen. I had started a domestic adoption process 10 years adoption....and stopped it when I met someone because kids were not on his radar. We broke up largely due to that. I didn't want to regret not becoming a father. Because some time had passed, I thought the process of surrogacy would be faster, so I contacted an agency. Plus, I had a little more control. I knew when the babies were coming and could work my schedule around that. I was able to stop work for several months. My priority was to have a healthy child. Having the children be part of me biologically was never a burning desire. I look at them and just think they're my kids.

Did it unfold as you hoped? No. I told the doctor I didn't want twins. He implanted two eggs in the surrogate anticipating only one would take. He guessed wrong. My concern was that my life was too full for two children. Coincidentally, I'm a twin and am close with my brother who is married and has a three year old and lives in London. Now, with my kids, I know things are as they were meant to be, even though two is a handful.

What do you see as the upsides and challenges of being a 50+ dad? I don't think of age at all. Luckily, I've kept in pretty good shape and take care of myself. I'm better prepared than I would have been 20 years ago. Life. Financially. No resentment when it comes to all that parenting requires. I am ready to share my life. I'm dad...age is a non-issue to me.

Any parenting words of wisdom you’d like to share? Two things I've learned very quickly....everyone parents the way they need to parent...there's no right or wrong. I used to be much more judgmental. No more. You do your works for you, and that's great. The other thing is really really try to take one day at a time. It gets overwhelming if you over think and look ahead.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has offered you re: parenting? Someone said that you’re gonna get a ton of advice from lots of people. Just listen, and pick what’s right for you. And, be okay with it. Don’t self judge. Go with your instincts. Trust your gut. This has proven true. It’s great to have someone to bat things around with, but I’m also not someone who calls the doctor constantly.

What do you most want to share with your children? We all go back to our own childhood when we become a parent...I came from a divorced home (I was 12 when my parents split) and want to raise my kids with a sense of stability and security, since I didn’t have that.

What has parenthood taught you thus far? No matter who I think my kids are or want them to be, they are who they are. They're both so different, and I can't change them...I can't direct them. I'm used to that, given my work. They're in the director seat. I'm learning to let go, have patience. Not try to push them...but to guide, provide a loving home and good education ......and establish rules, but also accept/embrace who they are and support their journey.

What excites you about being a dad? A lot! The constant discovery. The changes. You get to know their personalities every day. They’re starting to talk, and I’m always amazed re: where they get their language from. It’s fascinating.

Any particular experiences you can’t want to share with your children? Introducing them to theatre for sure. Taking them to a Yankee game would be a highlight. I didn’t travel that much growing up, but would love to share that with them when they’re older. I’m curious to see what they like to do as they grow and will build upon those interests.

How have you found juggling work with parenting? I have a live-in nanny. Once they go to school, we'll revisit the situation. I feel like I have to work so much more to take care of all this...but on the flip side, I don't want to be an absentee dad. I'm working to find that balance. Time management is critical as is having support. I'm surrounded by great friends, etc., and that makes a difference. My dad passed away, but my mom loves the twins!

What would you like to share with others contemplating later in life parenthood or becoming a parent period? If you're contemplating, go for it. I didn't want to have regret. But, you have to accept that there's no perfect time. There's never enough money. We're here one time, pretty quick, so why not do it?!

Note: Scott is one of the subjects of the film LOVE, ETC., which I highly recommend.  He shares his heartfelt road to parenthood in this compelling new documentary. 

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Moment in the Life of.... by Patricia St. E. Darlington, author, You Can't Get to Heaven Wearing Tight Shoes

.....Ms. Anoycan Doytal...the image conscious, perfectly prepared, Renaissance woman, with the 'perfect plan,' but who forgot You Can't Get to Heaven Wearing Tight Shoes.

“Pssst, pssst, lady, yes you, the one carrying the baby in the gym bag and the workout shoes in the diaper bag. Can we chat for a moment?” “Yeah, I know, too busy to pause for idle chat. Gotta get to the office?” “Oh, but now you do realize that you forgot to drop off the baby at daycare right?” “Now you’ll have to schlep your way back across town and still get to the nine o’clock meeting. But not to worry, you’ve got your net book and you can Skype in from the cab, right?” Damn it, where is the net book? “No way!…..Did you really leave it on the kitchen counter after last night’s marathon *itch fest with the gals—all of them complaining about how much they have to get done, will never get done, and right now don’t give a crap if it ever gets done—at least until tomorrow morning when it starts all over again?” But wait, we were on the subject of dear little Jimmy whom you accidentally stuck in the gym bag when you picked him up from the play room at the gym this morning while managing to lose your workout shoes in the diaper bag.

“I don’t mean to add to your present discomfort dear, but did you happen to notice that you’re limping?” “Not to worry though, it’s not a result of the tight shoes you wore to the office party last night—shoes that had you propped up against any available vertical surface just so that you could relieve the pressure on your big toes and the blister on your left heel, where the Band-Aid had long ago slipped off and was now bundled up and snugly lodged under said heel. That’s not why you’re limping this morning. Honestly, Hon, it’s because in your mad dash to get out of the house and get in that life-sustaining, stress-relieving, mental health affirming, 45 minute workout at the gym this morning, you inadvertently put on two different shoes, one with a two inch heel and one with a three inch heel, both black, and that is where the similarities ended! Now here you are, frazzled, still sweaty even after the 3 minute shower at the gym, and late.

How in heaven’s name did you get yourself into this predicament? After all, you are a planner, you are an organizer, and you are known in the industry for being the best at what you do. You are so organized you actually worked out every conceivable detail of the timing of the entrance of your bundle of joy in your life. Everything was going to be rosy. You would get up in the morning, spend thirty minutes meditating and preparing for the day—just like you always did while you were building your career and moving up the corporate ladder. Then you would enjoy a great cup of coffee from that greatest invention in the world—surpassing even sliced bread and pockets--your Keurig coffee maker. Your awesome hubby would be packing the diaper bag and dressing little Jimmy while you got in an hour of working out, ten minutes in the sauna, a blissful shower to cool you down and thirty minutes to select your power outfit for the day at the office where you would earn all the money that you would need to send Little Jimmy to the Ivy league school of your choice. . . .

“Pssst, pssst, lady. . . is this the address that you wanted? You seemed to be daydreaming there for a minute. Want the Cabby to keep the meter running while you drop off the kid?” “Go on dear, I’ll wait for you here…keep the Cabby company. . No, no dear, wrong bag, you’ll need that briefcase today.”

“But wait, before you dash off, I didn’t catch your name” “I’m sorry, I must have missed that. “Did you say your name is Anoycan Doytal?” “Well I’ll be! So pleased to meet you Ms. Doytal…Think we can find some time to catch up again sometime soon?”

Check back at a later date for another installment of “A moment in the life of Ms. Anoycan Doytal" by Dr. Patricia St. E Darlington, author of You Can't Get to Heaven Wearing Tight Shoes: A Book About Personal Honesty.