When I was in high school a lot of my friends pierced their belly buttons as a form of rebellion. Even as a teenager, I thought that was dumb- to mutilate my own body as a way to rebel against somebody else. Dumb.
When I was 22, working full-time, with my own income, living in my own apartment I decided I wanted to pierce my bellybutton – for me- and so I did.
I went with some friends to a piercing and tattoo parlor in the East Village of Manhattan on a late Saturday night and had my bellybutton pierced. I may have been slightly tipsy, yet I remember it well.
I clearly remember that on my keychain I had a little vial of glitter which, after piercing my bellybutton, I sprinkled in my hand and blew onto the piercers face. Of course. Some things never change. That was a memorable night.
Initially the ring that I purchased had a cute little gemstone hanging off of it but as soon as it healed enough to change I replaced the gemstone with a Jewish star. That was my form of “rebellion”. Declaring my Jewish love and pride through a medium that I’d been raised to believe was bad and rebellious. In my mind, the juxtaposition of these two ideas complimented each other as a beautiful truth, and I like to think I’ve continued to live my life with that kind of open-minded mindset.
I pulled out the belly ring when I was just about to turn 30. I was engaged and went for an MRI and they told me I couldn’t wear any metal. Afterwards I just didn’t put it back in. I guess I felt like I was growing older and that it was “inappropriate”.
(Good God how I hate that word- The worst decisions I’ve made in my life have happened when I’ve forgotten how much I hate that word.)
As I see 40 coming around the bend in just three months I’ve been working on making changes in my life, sort of my 40-year-old bucket list. I’ve started doing art for arts sake, (can’t wait to share what I’m creating!) I’m working out, eating better and I just had the brilliant idea to possibly re-pierced my bellybutton for my 40th birthday. When I had it done the first time I remember people saying to me “oh that’s gonna look horrible after you had babies” but now I’ve had babies and guess what? Still cute. In fact, any extra skin wrinkles in that area will just be camouflaged by some lovely razzle dazzle! (I mean, what doesn’t benefit from a lil razzle dazzle, right?)
So this is just me putting that idea out into the universe for anyone to see. (except Elie who doesn’t read my blog.) Time to start thinking about what I might put there this time around!
Yay sparkle shopping!
This morning I dropped my kids off at school for the first time since this weekends terrifying massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. As I was dealing with some mom stuff at the front desk, the fourth grade teacher came in and started asking how on earth she’s supposed to discuss this with her class. What the hell is she supposed to say to our kids about the fact that they live in a country that refuses to protect them? A country that has such broken gun policies that the day after San Bernadino our leaders voted not to restrict gun sales to suspected terrorists who are already on our no-fly list. As a nation, how can we be so resolute, so motivated by money, so straggled by the financial influence of the NRA on our government, that despite horror after horror, in elementary schools and office buildings, movie theatres and college campuses, nothing has changed? How do we explain that to our children?
I stood with my jaw open, unsure what to say. Because it’s horrible. It’s inexcusable. It’s mind-blowing and emotionally numbing and it’s scary. Scary as hell. And there simply is no acceptable explanation.
I walked back to my car feeling like I’d had the wind knocked out of me.
As I drove home, an answer started to form inside me.
I’ve seen a lot of posts about believing in the power of love. Truthfully, they usually sound like pathetically feel-good platitudes that minimize the realities of this broken and terrifyingly complex situation. Touting “Love and prayers” are lovely but they’re not solutions.
But when I think of what I would tell a room of fourth graders looking to understand this non-understandable act, my mind does go to love.
Because while the lack of common sense gun laws are certainly a tremendous part of the problem, it was HATE that pulled the trigger.
I’d like to share with you what I wrote, should it help you find meaning in this senseless act of hatred, or help you help your children find the light to create a brighter tomorrow.
As I drove home the truth is I do have some idea what I would tell my kids if I was a teacher, and what I’ll likely tell my own kids, in an age-appropriate way this evening after they’ve heard about this event at school.
For her biography book report, my 2nd grader chose to read a book about Malala, the teenage Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban a few years ago for speaking up about girls’ right to go to school and receive an education. She loved the book and we were both changed in many ways by the message and story. There is a way to talk about this with kids. There are important lessons to walk away with.
Because the truth is, this isn’t about guns, this is about hate.
Hate caused this- yes- guns are a huge part of the issue but hate pulled the trigger. And as clichéd as it is, the answer is Love. In my kids old school last year they talked a lot about the beautiful Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam– Repairing the World. There will always be hate in the world but it is our job- as moral people, human beings- to balance the hate- to create the love that holds the world together. Every single person has the power to spread love. To demonstrate understanding, to look outside themselves and offer beauty and hope, kindness and understanding.
It starts at home- in your family, your classmates, your community. Appreciating people for their uniqueness and beauty even if it’s different than yours.
It starts by knowing that every voice has power. Every individual – even a child- has the capacity to make change and spread light throughout their world, on a micro scale and the waves travel and grow. Our actions matter. The way we treat people matters.
Teach our children that their voice, their words, their behaviors have power and consequence well beyond their understanding, so they should use their words wisely. Teach them to use their voice, their actions, to stand up for those who have no voice. Defend those who can’t defend themselves. To lift up those who are down. Each of us must do our part to combat the hatred that creates events like this. People like this, who have so much hate in their heart they can no longer see any light- People are not born that way, darkness makes them into that kind of monster.
We need to be the light.
– So, that’s my two cents. I’m glad I was there at that moment to hear that question asked, so it would spark me into thinking of a response. I hope each of you find the right words, for yourself, your children. I don’t envy teachers that responsibility yesterday, today, – hopefully not also in the many tomorrows to come. But I do believe we can impact our children in a way that will leave an everlasting positive impression in the wake of such horror. ❤️
This past February was the 25th anniversary of the FIT Toy Design BFA program of which I am an alumni. The two years I spent in that program were easily two of the most profound years of my life with regards to self-discovery and learning to understand and apply my creativity. I was sad I couldn’t go to the reunion, now that I live across the country, but, those are the trade offs.
Anyhow, the invitation, in typical Toy Design fashion, was fun and creative. It was a box of cards with inspiring quotes on the back about play and the magic of childhood. The back of the cards contained a “puzzle” that assembled into the actual invitation:
You know I have a thing for inspiring quotes and so I decided they needed to be hung on the wall.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in love with the card color choices, and wasn’t really sure how to find inspiration to fall in love with them so I sorta just taped them up there and framed them with some washi style tape.
But they were hidden in the back of the house, by the laundry room… Waiting for inspiration to find me.
I started with a $20 IKEA frame and some very old tissue paper I found at the bottom of my craft closet.
(It’s opposite a glass door, the glare is harsh in the pic but more natural in person.)
Molly’s refused to ride her bike forever because she is embarrassed by her “babyish” Pinkalicious helmet.
I have refused to buy her a new helmet because it’s a practically new helmet and… spray paint.
Now that I’ve forgotten/procrastinated doing this for months and months, Molly finally lost hope in it happening all together. Which means the time had come to finally do it.
Because I’ll be damned if she hasn’t waited so long for something that she doesn’t really learn to appreciate it. (Did that sentence structure make sense? I can’t tell, but you get my point.)
Behold, the offending, embarrassing, babyish before:
Prepped and ready:
I was thinking of glueing more rhinestones, maybe turquoise colored, onto the swirls, but she doesn’t seem to care and if I offered to do than she’d hold me to it, and then it wouldn’t get done till her 14th birthday.
Ya know, so she really appreciates it. 😒
It’s meant to be large, but I didn’t have a large canvas- I didn’t even have a clean canvas. I just found one of the kids’ reject canvases and started creating the lines.
Funny story: I decided, on a whim, to go into my front yard to paint this on Saturday morning. I have a nice, sunny, large backyard but the front was calling to me. We live on a dead end that’s at the corner of a dead end, so basically, not a lot of foot traffic. The kids joined with a friend:
20 minutes after I started a couple walked by on a morning walk. I said good morning and looked back down. Then I heard “oh my god, Tova?” And I looked up and saw one of my oldest friends in the world walking by my house. We met at 14 and she was a really important person in my life in high school. We were especially close through college in NY and for a few years after, before losing touch. She doesn’t live in San Diego. She just happened to be staying in my neighborhood and just walking by on my dead end street. How crazy bananas is that???
I decided it was fate that I was painting in the front of the house on that very day. The next day I basically got to the point where I thought it was finished-y.
I hung it on the wall of our family gallery but it felt really flat. Especially next to the kids glitter art. In my mind this painting is strategically sprinkled with Swarovski crystals, but in my mind it’s also 3 feet tall.
So I pulled out the glitter.
Seems, I lied.
I took the glitter in the back room and got busy.
And I still don’t love the painting. It’s called Lifeline and it’s the beginning of a series I plan to create that uses color to represent the people, experiences and influences that spiral through our lives. Creating it was kinda like writing in a diary and I found myself uncovering feelings about things and people in my life that I didn’t really know existed in me… things I never would have discovered with words.
I think a little door may be opening….