VOTE!

Here I am with my newly grown hair after a year of chemotherapy. To my surprise it came back all gray! I had a few white strands going in, but this new sassy look is surprising. I’m thinking …gray is the new blonde! So I am delighted that I finally have some hair and a few eyebrows! AND that I survived long enough to vote! Yay!

Ovarian cancer is a beast. Remission isn’t an option at this stage, but treatment fortunately is. I’m alive and I was able to vote blue by mail to “bring back better”. The link in Florida let me know my vote was received and counted! Boom!

It’s been difficult enough to deal with cancer and to also have to turn on the news every day and watch our inept leader mishandle a pandemic. I’ve fought way too hard to live to succumb to COVID just because our President wants to deny scientific safety measures for his own political gain!

Well, he’s not going to defeat me! I voted, my entire family voted (in different states) and we ALL crushed it! I pray we made a difference so that intelligence, reason, kindness, science, and constitutional knowledge will once again find its way back to Washington  DC. It will take time to undo the damage and division created in the last four years, but I am confident we can fix things!

I’ve been off WordPress for months. This site has changed considerably and I’m clueless how to manipulate or manage the settings. But, on days when I am not throwing up or feeling crummy, I will try to write a little. I hope to be back. And, when I figure out what happened to the settings that allowed me to change my profile picture I will update to my new gray look.

The times they are a changing… and I am so grateful I am alive to see things improve. ✌️❤️🎸

Out, Out, Damn Cancer!

The hospital just called and told me I have to arrive at 6:00 am on Monday to prepare for surgery. And that Surgery begins at 8:00 am. Suddenly this all is becoming REAL!!! Yikes!

So Early Monday morning it’s SHOWTIME! And I will be taking on the most challenging role of my lifetime. One that requires me to dig deep down and re-discover my Stanislavski method acting training that I learned in the late 1960’s where subtext and sensory imagery took my mind to other places so that I could draw upon all the courageous women who walked upon the stage before me. I need to use them now as my guides and my muses to become strong enough to endure this new role I must face.

When I was younger the part I always wanted to play was Lady Macbeth. I was told back in the days when I was still acting, that because I gave off a “virtuous” or “righteous” vibe, I was more suited for such roles as Juliet, Cordelia, or Ophelia etc. I was young and exuded way too much innocence to play the wicked Lady Macbeth. Sigh…

So sadly, I never got to jump into her murderous skin on stage. For years I thought that was the role of a lifetime and I missed it. Now I know there is a more difficult and important role that I must play. However, in the Lady’s defense,I never really saw her as evil per say, but rather easily corrupted and unscrupulous when the play begins…And yet Shakespeare’s character moved me to tears as well. (Especially the way Judy Dentch played her.)

I always thought my version of Lady M would transform her into goodness as she slowly descended into madness. In my mind, I would often see her represented as if she were walking down a grand staircase and by the time her character finally reached the bottom, she would have totally redeemed her soul and found virtue once again.( BTW, At fifty, I think I would have played an excellent Lady Macbeth and could have pulled her off to perfection. I am not quite sure why I am suddenly thinking about a role I always wanted to play but never had an opportunity to audition for. Perhaps, because her character was brave, even though she was dastardly. I just found her brilliantly written and never got to play her… oh well.

On Monday I want to draw from all the brave women written down in books, or in plays, and mostly in real life that I have met…. I want to capture their energy when I get to the hospital and go under the knife.

I have no idea what condition I will be in when I wake up. The Last time the cancer was too large and too plentiful to be removed. This time I am hoping my doctor can remove it all and that chemo shrunk all the tumors enough so that he can get them out of my body. That is why Lady Macbeth came to mind. She said… “Out out damn spot.” For me It is “Out Out, damn cancer!!!!!”

And so I am going to go on Monday and try to conjure up method acting skills from long ago when I used to transport myself to different places in my head when I was a young actress. Back then I donned my soft ballet slippers that would delicately glide across the stage and often I’d be wearing a long gown as I turned myself into someone else. Whether it was the fair Juliet, the pleading Cordelia, a tragic Ophelia, or a comedic character mimicking Judy Holiday, and even the extraordinary young Anne Frank, being dragged off by Nazis yet still believing that mankind was basically good.

Before I took my first step on stage I believed in myself enough to BECOME that character. On Monday I have to believe that I am strong enough to handle whatever happens. And so my costume this time will be a green hospital gown, not the soft flowing medieval garb a beautiful maiden might wear. And my hair won’t be braided and set with pearls or ribbons, I will be bald. But in my mind I will be playing the role of survivor. I got nervous each time I went on stage but the applause abated my butterflies. This time whatever they inject me will ease my nerves I suppose.

I must tell myself what always got me to take that first step through the curtain… “ YOU CAN DO THIS, LESLEY! YOU CAN DO THIS!”

Cancer!

How on earth do I write this post? Carefully I suppose.

Two weeks ago, I went into the hospital to have some biopsies and a hysterectomy done. Or that’s what I thought would happen. I woke up to learn I had a stage 3 cancerous tumors that were too large to be removed. Shock is a mild description of how I felt hearing that news.

My doctor decided that after I healed from the surgery he’d start me on chemo with a goal of shrinking the tumors first and then removing them. So next week my oncologist will let me know the kind of chemo treatment I will be facing. There’s a lot more to this story but I’m not brave enough to write everything down yet.

As I heal from the initial surgery I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster. Lots of crying, feeling numb, disbelief, more crying, feeling scared, and a million other emotions.

I think I’m getting to a more positive place. One where I can take on this fight. But, my body is pretty much in pain all the time and that makes it challenging. The doctor was honest. If I do nothing I’ve got about 6 months. Chemo can hopefully shrink the tumors and give me some added years so that’s the option Ive chosen.

I’ve received a great deal of love and support from family and friends and that is very appreciated. But at the end of the day my mind wanders… you see everyone tells me how strong I am. But, I’m not. I’ve been a fighter for truth and justice, yes. For my children, yes. But never for myself.

Spiritually I’ve always prayed for others, but not for myself. It’s not something I’m comfortable doing. I’m not used to asking for help, I’m used to offering it to others. I don’t know how to play this new role. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

So, here’s to the future… I’m hoping the Universe gets some good vibrations to send my way.

One Giant Leap…

It is difficult to believe that it has been 50 years since we put a man on the moon in 1969. I was in college 50 years ago, and that seems equally hard to believe!!! But it is true none the less.

In the summer of 1969 I decided to stay at the University of Miami because I wanted to graduate in 3 years rather than four, and so I took summer classes. Now that I think about it, that seems like a ridiculous plan because I should have just cherished my youth and my freedom and enjoyed every second of my college days. However, I thought I knew everything back then and so I had other goals.

Anyhow, I can clearly remember watching the moon landing in the dorm room of a girl on my floor. She had a tiny TV set up on her desk. The only other television in the entire dorm was downstairs in the lobby, so a group of girls gathered around and we huddled together and watched in amazement as a hazy black and white Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon. It was surreal. I recall getting chills at the wonder of it all. It is complicated to explain the feeling to someone living today where technology is everywhere you turn. But, back in 1969 it was like seeing a Jules Verne novel come to life.

In fact, my memory of the event is so clear that I even recall every detail of what I wore because I had just come in from spending time with a group of my Theatre friends and had made sure I dressed extra “cool” before going out with that “groovy” gang. After all, we were all actresses and actors and needed to stand out in a crowd!! LOL (Funny what one remembers 50 years later).

I wore a bright yellow peasant top, long black hip hugger bell bottom jeans, and weaved a flowing flowered, multi – colored scarf/sash through my belt loops that hung to the floor. In my hair I had the left side partially braided and clipped a flower to it with a bobby pin. (I made the sash myself out of a mixture of bright prints and sewed fringe on the end so it would sway as I walked.) On my feet I wore what were referred to as “Monster shoes”. They were large healed slip on oxford like clogs that got the nick name Monster because they were reminiscent of something Frakenstein’s monster might wear. 

So, there I was, the epitome of what a cool girl in 1969 looked like, sitting on the floor in my bell bottoms, amongst a group of girls from a variety of different backgrounds watching American Astronauts land on the MOON!!!!!!!

The girl whose room it was stood up and began explaining to everyone what was happening. She said she wanted to be an astronaut and was studying engineering and majoring in math. I remember being impressed with her knowledge of space travel and asked her this question, 
“Do you really think in our life time that girls will actually be allowed into the space program? And if they are, do you think they will really let you go into space?” 
Everyone became quiet as she answered. 
“I honestly don’t know. But, I am still going to try! I am going to study hard and apply for a job working for NASA. I won’t give up and if I get the chance to train I will take it. It’s my dream. I have heard that they are starting training programs for women and I want to be apart of that. “
I told her how brave she was and that I hoped her dreams would come true. I also said I’d be rooting for her. 

So while I watched everything that was happening on the moon and found it unbelievable…. I kept my eye on the girl whose name I don’t remember. She wasn’t one of the girls I knew during the regular school year, she was just there to take classes during the summer and I didn’t get to know her well. But, I was as impressed with her determination and the lust in her eyes for space travel watching Armstrong, as I was with the whole experience of seeing our men jump around the moon. Yes, there I was, a little hippie flower child watching the moon landing and standing next to someone I knew would be one of our first female astonauts.

I figured, that if we could put a man on the moon, then girls could do anything too. THAT is how I remember 1969 and the moon landing. One giant leap for mankind and also as the day I became a feminist.

So This is 70!?

BIRTHDAY GIRL AT 70

I made it! This week I turned 70!!! I was surrounded by my two sons, my precious grandchildren, and my sister. What could have been better?

My children planned a Sherlock Holmes Escape Room Mystery Birthday Party for me and we had a fabulous time deciphering challenging puzzles, figuring out unusual clues, and finally solving where the mystery person was hidden, and still found our way out of the locked room before our time was up! It was the best birthday ever! I highly recommend an exciting event room party! It stimulates the mind and is filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Or legs actually, since you will be running around finding clues!!

I have been a Sherlock fan for decades, so being able to shout, “The Game is Afoot” after walking into a duplicate version of 221B Baker Street was absolutely delightful!!! I can’t tell you how much fun I had!!


I learned that age is indeed a number and as long as you spend time with those you love, the number isn’t important. But, solving mysteries is ageless!

Come celebrate with me as I dance my way into my 70’s. I plan to have an exciting decade ahead!! So WordPress buddies, rock on with this gal and keep on dancing right along with me!!! I’m going to tell old age to just “Hit me with your best shot. Fire Away!” Because I am still dancing!!!!

The Woman

The Woman 

Down a narrow corridor the image of a woman approaches far in the distance.  A soft stream of light dances off the walls and casts an ethereal glow in her direction as she slowly glides towards me. I am instantly intrigued by her familiarity and mystery.

The illumination of her face enables me to observe segments of her features in the hopes of discovering who she is. Attempting a closer glance, I study her face and notice a faint smattering of freckles sprinkled across her cheeks and a wide-eyed astuteness in her demeanor. I am puzzled by her contradictory expression. She somehow blends innocence and experience together painted with a splash of wisdom as she gazes in my direction in bewilderment.

I’m temporarily surprised by her youthful aura, since my eyes tell me she has walked this earth for eternity.  I see fine lines at the corner of her eyes revealing a life’s journey well traveled. Young and old co- mingle together, as if in a dance, whirling to form a pirouette swaying jointly to create an enigma.

Hers is a face that has experienced the complexities of life; the power of love, exciting adventures, births and deaths, sorrows and joys. Her eyes stare right through me, twinkling as if they hold all the mysteries of the universe deep inside.

We smile at one another and she nods knowingly in my direction. Sudden laughter erupts from her lips and it is instantly contagious. I catch myself laughing along side of her creating a synchronized sound.  As I continue to examine her image carefully, my confusion becomes amplified.

I notice her strength, determination, and the plethora of memories she embodies. I can detect that she carries a reflection of childhood playfulness, teenage angst, young love, ambition, a carefree spirit, peace protests, rock concerts, limitless novels and plays, motherhood, a successful career, and being called grandma for the first time.

Glimpses of a life filled with unusual adventures and ordinary daily events pass before me as I approach the tall mirror in the hallway.  And for an instant I see a flash of mini skirts, bell-bottoms, guitars and peace signs transforming into the grandmother standing before me in the mirror. I see myself.  

I see me at 16, 20, 40, 60 and today. I see 70!

Suddenly, I look away for a split second to double check if the girl I used to be is still there behind my reflection. I need to know that she still exists in the likeness radiating from the hallway mirror.

I blink to make sure the essence of who I was still lingers somewhere in the glass before me and I let out a gasp.

YES!!!!! Oh, YES! I see her. She is indeed still there!

Older, softer, rounder, not quite as tall as she used to be.  Hair drizzled with a few silver streaks but ever full and luxurious, Eyes, expressive and large, ready to explore the unknown, all while surrounded by laugh lines from decades of smiling.  And as I recognize my reflection I sigh and then speak aloud.

“Hello old friend. I see you in there, I’m so glad you’re still here to continue this journey with me.”

And a few tears softly slide down my cheeks as I realize that years and age cannot change who I am inside. I tightly shut my eyes and envision that vibrant and vital young girl protesting for peace. I open them again and stare into my reflection. I inspect the determined woman I am today. Older, smarter, and ready to keep fighting for change.

I may walk a little slower, but I’ve become quite a bit wiser. I take nothing for granted and appreciate every moment I am given. Always trying to find a new pathway to creativity, and ready to gain more knowledge with every decade I’m allowed to endure.

I take one last look at my image in the mirror and then smile.

“So this is 70? Happy Birthday to me! 70 doesn’t seem quite as old and scary as I thought it would be.”

And then I hum a few bars from a song that I identified with in 1967 and dance my way out the door.

Where Have All My Blog Posts Gone?

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WHERE HAVE ALL MY BLOG POSTS GONE?

Where have all my blog posts gone?
Long time passing
Where have all my blog posts gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the blog posts gone?
I have avoided them every one
When will I ever learn?
When will I ever learn?

(Adapted from the song Where have all the Flowers gone by Pete Seeger.)

Dear Readers,

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted on my blog since the beginning of 2019.The good news is… I haven’t stopped writing for months; I just haven’t posted anything on my blog. I assure you that I still write routinely and produce daily Facebook posts about current events and do my usual grandma bragging. I also respond frequently to Word Press friends with lengthy philosophical answers, as well as working on my current novel. But, I have certainly neglected and avoided my Word Press blog.

Why you ask? Well, I’ll attempt to explain. You see, In January I set a personal goal/promise to myself, to write less about politics and focus more on positive topics. So, I told myself when our current President did something extreme, to wait at least a full week before freaking out and writing yet another political blog. In trying to avoid posting something negative (brought about by the madman in White House), I discovered that I was unable to write anything at all. My hands were tied because “45” was always doing something infuriating! And in my intent to avoid continuously writing how frustrated I was with this administration and the lack of courage and core values I saw in many of the current GOP representatives, I was left helpless and unable to abide by my promise to myself.

Therefore, every time something happened, I took a deep breath and decided to wait before blogging about it. And so I waited, and waited, and waited. A full week never passed without our President behaving badly, acting ridiculous, inept, or unconscionable. Since he couldn’t make it an entire week without a crazy tweet, or a rambling unintelligible TV appearance, or a bizarre trip to meet with one of his favorite dictators, I  was forced to stay away from my blog lest I succumb to discussing his appalling behavior. And because his actions were worse than ever  I tried my best to ignore what was happening…  However, I was unable to turn on the news without hearing about former colleagues or WH staff members being sentenced to jail.  AARGH! How could I write anything positive with a daily Trump corruption soap opera revealing itself? I promised myself 2019 would be more upbeat and less about this administration or politics around the world. But today I had to go back on my word and forget the goal I made.

With the horrible tragedy that happened in New Zealand I just can’t stay quiet any longer. I care too much about humanity to remain silent. I am terrified of the hate crimes inundating the world. I will never understand this! No group of people should ever be targetted because of their faith or their color. There is no logical reason for this kind of bigotry!!!!!

In my every day life I am a happy person. I share peace, love and joy to those around me. But I care way to deeply about the world in which I live to turn a blind eye. I want this country and the entire world to be safe for my grandchildren and all the children who will be around long after I am gone..

And so I must do something!!! I can protest the high prices of medicine in my country (Which I do), I can protest for equality and stand up for safer gun laws, I can write my representatives and volunteer to help others. I do all those things. But I NEED to write about politics too. My voice, your voice, WE THE PEOPLE have a voice and need to use it! And so I write.  My blog will continue to be about politics when it needs to be.

Righting the wrongs of the world is who I am. It was who I was in college when I protested against the Viet Nam War. When I fought for women’s rights. It was who I was when I marched outside the campus library wearing jeans with protest signs because girls could only wear skirts in the library and to class.(This was 1967, girls believe it or not had to wear dresses everywhere in public on campus.) I wanted equal rights. BTW, my protest got news coverage and the next school year women were allowed to wear pants or jeans in class AND in the library!!! VICTORY!!!!

I played in the first all girl’s rock band in South Florida and my political voice was heard through my music and my lyrics.

I could go on and on about everything I have stood up for over the years and how I protested for what I felt would benefit women, children, minorities etc. It is who I have always been. So why should I stop now? If you are looking for contests on my blog site you won’t find them. I spent 36 years teaching and every year I created a  million poetry or writing contests for students. So I am done with that now. I write to enlighten and to blow off steam. I write to find joy and I write because I must!  Freedom of speech.  I am woman hear me roar!

Yes, at the beginning of 2019 I wanted to approach the new year with a different vibe but I have decided that the old vibe is working just fine. So, since next month I begin an entirely new decade (I will soon write a blog about that.) I had planned to turn over a new leaf. Instead, I am embracing the old leaf. It might be turning brittle, cracking and breaking apart. (That happens when living things age). But, like a leaf, I am as colorful and vibrant as ever. And I will be blowing in the wind for as long as the universe allows me to do so.

Note to you younger folks…I got the title for this blog from a Pete Seeger song I used to sing. In fact it was the very first song I learned to play on my guitar when I was in middle school. I heard it on a Peter Paul and Mary album and by ear I figured out the chords. It was my introduction to folk music and I strummed away and sang this song along with many others by PP&M, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger etc. After that I wrote my own protest songs and eventually saved up for an electric guitar and switched to rock music. But this particular song has always stuck in my head and seemed the perfect title for my blog.

Yep, I suppose I am just going to have to write what is in my heart. I’ve fought for change for too long to give up now. So where have all my blog posts gone?? No where!!!!! They are right here. I’m back baby!!!! I have never really been gone…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgXNVA9ngx8

Happy 2019!!!

Happy

We are about to embark on another new year. How exciting!

In the past, I’d always make New Year’s resolutions. Being a teacher, it would be the first assignment after winter break, and my personal list would be the example I’d show my students. Then, our individual resolutions expanded into a discussion, which led to a creative writing session. Year after year a variation of this activity transitioned into a positive goal experience and a way to allow the students to get back into the swing of things.

This year I think I might try a little mini version of that concept with my grandchildren that involves crayons, playdoh, and perhaps hand made sock puppets, culminating in a puppet show presentation of their goals for 2019. Yes, I am always using my teacher brain to think of new and excting ways to enlighten children. And I must admit, it is even more fun when the lesson is created for my own grandchildren!

However, now that I’m in retirement, this year I think I’m going to skip making my own list. Why? Because I always tell myself to drop ten pounds, to exercise more, to read more, and take more “me” time to write, or finish projects etc. Bla bla bla. 

I think perhaps, I’m just going to try to survive this New Year. I’ll do my very best to endure this administration and make it through until “you know who” is either voted out or impeached. And I’m going to trust in our newly elected representatives to bring a sense of calm, rationality, and decency back to our government.

Also, my little goals are rather petty in comparison to the resolutions our nation needs to make in healing the divide created by the current resident in the White House.

So, Happy New Year dear friends! Here’s to a better future! To a 2019 that brings us more peace and calm. More hope, more world allies, safer schools for our children, more kindness given to our neighbors, more empathy and tolerance for our fellow human beings, and more love in our hearts to share.

And if we ALL just resolve to show kindness and respect to one another, then 2019 will be a fabulous year.  Happy New Year! Good health to you all! ❤️xo

Chanukah, Christmas, New Years, Oh My!

2018 is almost over and what had been a dreadfully turbulent year, ended with the most delightful holiday season, filled with love and joyous memories spent with my beautiful family.

December started off with a Chanuakah filled with laughter, spinning dreidles, candle lighting, and holiday songs.  Then Christmas Eve began with my youngest son flying home in time to spend the rest of the holidays with us. So, I had both my sons and my grandchildren with me, how perfect!!!!  A year that started out so filled with turnmoil ended with complete joy.

I thought I would post a few family photos of my precious blended family. We celebrate everything and embrace it all.  So, take a look at my gang. We even were able to take a train ride on the Polar Express.  In MIAMI!!!!!!

Happy Everything! From my family to yours, may you all have a very Happy New Year.

Haunted By The Past

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I have a peculiar feeling deep down in my gut as I write this post…

My newly discovered Kluchinski cousin who lives in France, is working on our family tree. One that includes pictures of our blended relatives.

So, here I am staring into the faces of Kluchins (Kluchinski’s) and I am wiping away tears looking at relatives that I never got a chance to meet because the majority of them were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

These people are so beautiful to me. They look like my father, his brothers, and a lot like my sons. And they look like ME!!!!

These pictures are the faces of my relatives who died in Auschwitz. Good people I never got to know. Adults, teens, and children, who were never able to live their lives because Hitler’s Nazi’s cut them down in their prime. And I am literally sobbing because they look so much like my family. Like the people I love. It is like staring into the mirror and seeing MY eyes, my smile… And I am utterly heartbroken.

It is one thing to read the names of someone on a wall. It is another thing to look into their eyes. For the first time seeing my Father’s side of the family, the Kluchin relatives, I feel like the wind has been punched out of me. I have a lump in my throat from forcing back pain. I so wish my Dad were still alive and could see their faces too. All we knew was that my grandfather took his family and left Paris to come to America around 1918.  I didn’t know that he had several brothers and sisters that stayed in Paris. What my siblings and I assumed was that my father’s side of the family was lost in the war. But none of us could have suspected that one of my father’s first cousins survived because she hid from the Nazis, and years later her daughter found me while doing ancestry research.  She thought she was the last surviving Kluchinski, until she discovered me. Pretty miraculous I’d say!

Before my father died he began an ancestry quest to find out about his family and my sister and I, in our retirement, took up where he left off. And luckily our precious cousin, Sandrine is compiling a tree filling in the blanks with the Paris Kluchinski’s. We are seeing new names, new faces, and it is overwhelmingly emotional.

It is wonderful to say their names aloud so they can be remembered. (Judaism says our loved ones need to be remembered in every generation. We say their names and give our children their names so their memories live on.)

But this is gut wrenching too. My heart literally hurts. These souls didn’t deserve to be dragged out of their homes and killed. Nobody deserves to die like that. These people need to be more than just a name on a wall. They need to be a face with a smile and a name that my children and grandchildren can look at and remember. Because their lives mattered!!!!!!

Now perhaps those of you who read my blog will understand why I am continually fighting for truth and justice. Why I persist and resist the madman in the White House. Because, I understand how dangerous fascism is, and how easily corruption can take over a nation. How hatred can take away those we love.

I am going to take one more look at the faces of my long lost ancestors tonight and say a prayer to let them know they are still loved. Below are just a few.

Thank you, dear cousin Sandrine for this gift of placing faces to names.

*On the memorial wall in Paris, the names of those who died in Auschwitz were based on Nazi records, which were spelled phonetically. Therefore they spelled Kluchinski with a C. (Cluchinski )or in other areas of the wall just Chinski.

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My newly discovered cousin, Sandrine on the bottom, facetiming me from Paris. I am in the top of this picture using my phone to snap a pic as we are chatting on my iPad. The wonders of technology and DNA!