Monday, March 30, 2015

Reinventing Rhonda: The Not-so-Lonely Gal on the Road

Reinventing Rhonda: The Not-so-Lonely Gal on the Road: "Inspiring you to reinvent yourself." Dear Friends,  The sunroof is back and my hair is blowing in the wind. (Okay, my h...

The Not-so-Lonely Gal on the Road

"Inspiring you to reinvent yourself."

Dear Friends, 

The sunroof is back and my hair is blowing in the wind. (Okay, my hair looks like this even when I stage a still shot of hair blowing in the wind.) I have been on the road for nine days, heading straight south. I am approaching Central Florida, on this, the first day of my trip to go above 60 degrees Fahrenheit

Traveling solo is lovely and not at all lonely.:

I get to see people I love. NJ was a sleep-over with good friends, DC was a sleep-over with cousins, and Raleigh was a sleep-over with lifelong friends plus a night out with less long, but still long, time friends. Savannah was supposed to be a stay where I knew no one. Popping onto the Couch Surfing site to input my request, I found that of over 1100 potential hosts, the very first to appear was a graduate school friend! Savannah became a sleep-over and catch-up with one of the sweetest rabbis I know and his remarkable wife. 

Strangers become (at least) momentary friends. Ken, a new Word With Friends adversary from Philadelphia. David, who hosted me in Wilmington, DE for two nights, a family medicine intern who grew up not far from where my brother now lives. Got an amazing hug from the fabulously witty owner of a yogurt and coffee shop, also in Wilmington, called Scrumptious. Spent over an hour in free-flowing discourse with her and a regular who is an artist. Sid, the band leader in Raleigh, expects me not to miss his show next time! Anya, the restaurateur's wife, also in Raleigh, near-promised a successful shidduch for me and has already invited me to join her and Arthur (the restaurateur) at a Jewish gathering in August.

Brooke, the clerk at Pep Boys in Georgia, sneaked me in for a tire replacement at the end of the day Sunday. (She enjoyed a sampling of my yummy/healthy road snacks to ease the dinner-time delay.) Heath and Leann, my hosts in Jacksonville: HS sweethearts, they each married and divorced, then found each other fifteen years ago. In 27 years of a career in state corrections, Heath has never carried a gun. 

Friends and loved ones remain in reach. Mom: Where am I today and what Haggadahs should we use for the seder? Nephew: Childcare possibilities in Portland, ME? Edison, NJ friend: Textlogue in process until I visit on the return. Friends of a good friend in NYC: Can they stay with me one night during Passover? Yes, but I won't be there: here's my beloved housemate to host you. Facebook: posts, comments and likes. 

Reinventing Rhonda: well, here you are! ;-)  

Spanish Moss: Neither Spanish nor Moss. Discuss.
I should shove off. Most beautiful so far? Strolling where Spanish Moss grows? The lush Ocala National Forest whooshing by as I drive? (Did you know that Florida has a huge national forest?) Sunshine and a temperature gauge that says it's 72 degrees out? The love I'm feeling out here on the road. Hard to say, really.

Please follow, share, like, etc. if you do, indeed: want to follow, feel like sharing, like it, etc.  

To those who celebrate: a Happy Easter, a Sweet Passover, and in general, a warm welcome for budding renewal of earth, spirit, and please, a peaceful human sensibility. 

Love, Rhonda


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Reinventing Rhonda: The Muck Between the Bucket Seats

Reinventing Rhonda: The Muck Between the Bucket Seats: "Inspiring you to reinvent yourself." Dear Friends, I'm just sitting for a moment. Recapturing my breath on a...

The Muck Between the Bucket Seats

"Inspiring you to reinvent yourself."

Dear Friends,

I'm just sitting for a moment. Recapturing my breath on a cold and accomplished day. Homemade sipping chocolate rests cooling close at hand. More to do, more to do. In a bit, I promise.

May this fibro-woman hear an "ooh, ah," for each of these accomplishments?

  • Get out of bed. Get dressed right away. (Huge.) 
  • Feed the cats, water four creatures and let the dogs out. Give each some one-on-one loving. 
  • Resolve a TurboTax issue by seeing if it would resolve itself: It did. Taxes filed. 
  • Fail to design a business card on If at first you don't succeed, procrastinate. 
  • Phone meeting: brief, warm and productive. 
  • In-person meeting: brief, warm and productive. 
  • Get bank paperwork done in under fifteen minutes. (I'd prepared ahead.) 
  • Eat lunch while chatting with my niece. 
  • Get snow tires changes to all-weathers. This meant: clear heavy things from car; put heavy things in car; do crossword puzzles and email; shop on Amazon Mobile; and clear heavy things from my car again. 
  • Remove car muck. I believe the Talmud states that car muck over a k'zayit ("like an olive") must be removed by hand two weeks before Passover. Four freezing months' worth of fallen popcorn, dried pear stems, gluten-free cookie crumbs, seltzer can tabs, faded gas receipts, lozenge wrappers, used napkins and broken tooth-flossers. 
It was the muck that got me. Leaning across the driver's seat, right elbow up on that storage thing, left arm stretched full length into the passenger foot-well, I realized that I could not move. My legs were straight back, toes barely touching ground. My arms had no leverage; whatever muscle tone in the past would have popped me right back up was gone.

This was slapstick. "Stan....ley!" (Young 'uns, no one alive should miss Stanley Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s work:

I scissored my legs, seeking traction. Nope.

I collapsed my right arm. Really!? Why?

I clutched at the crushed pen cap, flopped over sideways and, finally, wormed myself backward until my toes gripped tarmac and I could bend my knees.

Up I bounced, practicing what my feline friends have taught me: Land on your feet; shake yourself off; say, "I meant to do that," then walk away slowly, with your tail in the air.

No one saw. (A wiser woman might not have blogged about it.)

Tonight, you ask? There's a bedroom to tidy, laundry to load, a Paypal account to open, and an office to organize. So if you need me, look for me in front of an episode or two of NCIS.

Please share, follow, like, and comment. I don't yet understand why, but I think it matters.

Thank you.

Love, Rhonda

Here's what warmed me, besides your company: Rhonda's Almost Vegan Sipping Chocolate:

6 oz        Silk Almond-Coconut Milk
6 chips   Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 packet Stevia, any brand
1.5 Tbs   Unsweetened cocoa, Hershey's or finer
1 dollop  Whipped cream, chilled

Microwave nut milk for 1 minute. Assemble other ingredients. Add cocoa, chips and stevia. Stir with a fork to dissolve powders and attain a foamy top. Heat again, 30 seconds at a time, until desired warmth is achieved. Peak with whipped cream. Sip, being sure to establish nose-tip to whipped cream contact. Moan happily.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reinventing Rhonda: A Religious Experience at the Attorney's Office

Reinventing Rhonda: A Religious Experience at the Attorney's Office: "Inspiring you to Reinvent Yourself" Artist: Jennifer North Two days ago I turned 53. Today I signed my Last Will &...

A Religious Experience at the Attorney's Office

"Inspiring you to Reinvent Yourself"

Artist: Jennifer North

Two days ago I turned 53. Today I signed my Last Will & Testament. The sequence was a coincidence of attorney-client mutual convenience but nonetheless struck me as meaningful.

Here's the story: In the first 68 days of 2015 (minus one hour stolen by the Spring Ahead demon), I:

  1. Stepped down as head of my school, ending a 32 year Jewish education vocation.
  2. Started
  3. Served divorce papers on my husband after 13 years of marriage and three of estrangement.
  4. Began a freelancing business of writing, editing and proofreading.(
  5. Consolidated various 403b and IRA savings so that they will grow faster.
  6. Put myself on a spending budget and a healthy-for-me eating plan.
  7. Labeled myself "semi-retired," to relax into my Fibromyalgia rather than fight it.
Not bad for a person who is chronically fatigued and in pain. (Though I don't think I yet understand the meaning of semi-retirement.)

With many changes looming, the time seemed right to organize my pre-death and in-death experiences. Control freak or kind soul? You choose. Either way, I chose now to convey my wishes.

Besides the legal forms, I wrote an Ethical Will, which is a deceased person's final soapbox, on which she can climb in death to share with loved ones her gratitude, values and wishes -- with no back talk. Ethical wills are a minor, long-held, Jewish tradition. Though not exclusively Jewish, I believe. 

See Jack Riemer's now classic text, So That Your Values Live On: Ethical Wills and How to Prepare Them, December 1, 1993 ISBN-13: 978-1879045347  ISBN-10: 1879045346

Back to my attorney's office, today. I thought: In for a quick check of corrections and my John Hancock; in by 2, out in 30.

Instead, I had a religious experience. Re-reading my end of life instructions, my Last Will and Testament, and my love-soaked Ethical Will, my spirit began to well. The chik-chok-watch the clock attitude I came in with left. Time slowed and so did my breath. 

I used each moment alone in the conference room to meditate. It came easily for once. Empty my lungs and shut out air with my adductors; fill my lungs and shut air in with my glottis. Feel the rushes -- in and out -- when I unlock the muscles. Think only of each breath and, to be honest, of Jeanette Miller, the yoga instructor who taught me this practice long ago. 

In walked the attorney and three witnesses, bearing documents on heavy, ivory paper, with headings in elegant type, bearing my penultimate and final wishes. I rose and shook hands with each witness. We took seats around an oval table. I laid my hand on the pile of documents, accepted a pen from the attorney, and thought, "There should be a blessing." I couldn't think of one on the spot, so I did the birthday candle thing instead: Closed my eyes, made a wish, opened my eyes and got to it. My wish? 
"May this do its job to ease and obviate the pain of others."

I found the first blank places and wrote "9th," then "March," then "2015," very carefully with a blue pen. Found the line with Rhonda Lea Rosenheck centered under it and signed Rhonda Rosenheck, because Lea is never part of my signature. Handed the pen and paper to the first witness, who filled in her part while we silently watched. She handed paper and pen to the second witness, who wrote her part and then handed it across the table to the third witness. The attorney laid it down, first of a stack invisibly labeled, "Done." 

We reenacted this for the Health Care Proxy, the page that attests that the witnesses are who they say they are, something else procedural and my Last Will and Testament. This was then notarized, to demonstrate that I am who I say I am. 

The last document was my Ethical Will. As a letter to my loved ones, only I signed it: Love, Rhonda Rosenheck. I was going to sign "Rhonda," but out of kindness to genealogists in the next century, I added my last name.  

Can you feel the religion? Ritual, grounded in tradition, shared among officiants with specified roles, meaningful in perpetuity, and giving structure to the most uncomfortable questions of life, death, pain, hope, faith and grief. 

There should have been a blessing. Here's my stab at it tonight. Not an experienced liturgist, I have chosen the essential Jewish formula for blessings over mitzvot, commandments.

Baruch atah adonai...
Blessed are you, Adonai, my God, Ruler of the Universe, who blesses us with your commandments and commands us to prepare for death in life. Amen.

Amen, my beloveds who will, one day, have to listen to a recitation of my less-than-terse Ethical Will.

Amen, readers who can choose now to express their end of life wishes, saving their loved ones the agony of guessing. 

Amen, readers who can already check off these tasks: "Done."

I'd love to hear your experiences. Please share freely in the comments.

Thank you. 

Love, Rhonda