Monday, November 2, 2009

"If not now, when?"

The day is short and there is a great deal of work; the laborers are lazy but the reward is great and the Master is pressing. (Pirkei Avot 2: 15)

A modern American proverb would have us believe that “Time is Money.” This ancient Jewish parable from Pirkei Avot tells us that time is infinitely more precious than money: Time is life. Life is so short and there is so much to do; it’s so easy to procrastinate, but when we use our time well, we accomplish so much.

Being human means living in time and with awareness that time is passing as we live. To get the most from life, we need to put first things first. For most of us, the top priority is our families. And, I would maintain, that as we gain in wisdom, our sense of 'family' can be markedly expanded as our concerns and caring can reach well beyond our biological families. It’s always the right time to become a Green Bubbie, to spend time building new connections, and on the relationships that we already cherish, to actively pursue a spiritual path, to learn in new ways, to live passionately each day. To make a difference. To make ourselves more vibrant, vital, and compassionate. If not now, when?

Friday, October 9, 2009

You're a Doll!

Charting a life course for yourself as you get older is an incredible gift to yourself and to those you love. Also, think of yourself as a gift even to those you haven't met yet. When you look in the mirror, or in your closet, what do you see? What else would you like to see? What else would you like to do? to learn? Where have you not yet traveled to? IS there a color you've never worn? Are you wondering how you would look in glitter? Could you see yourself in a net enclosed tent wearing white gauze and khacki- perfect for a safari? Are these the clothes of a daring artist? A cook? A globe trotting celeb? A monk? I have found that this time of life is a wonderful time to explore not only alternate identities, but without using any of your 'miles' you can cover a lot of ground by just looking at color, texture, shape and form. And what better way to play out all the possibilities than through art- or, in this case possibly a craft.
Even if you can't thread a needle, you can get a glue gun, a doll form, and all the fabrics that capture your imagination. Cut, wrap and glue- and viola! You are a doll maker- and if you can tell stories, the theatre arts are about to unfold around you.
Children love dolls, puppets and stories. Truth is, adults love them as well. It is great fun even to lay out the elements of a 'potential wardrobe' and depending on the age, interests, and skills of those around you, you can involve them in the development of your dolls and stories. OR, for your own sanity and a great deal of fun, treat yourself and your friends to a night of imaginative dressmaking, and a new way to think about 'character development.' Trying on the world is how children learn their place in it- as adults we too can try on worlds we've never encountered, or cultures we have yet to see. Try beginning a fabric collection (you can buy 'fat quarters' which is about a quarter of a yard depending on the width of the fabric- it has nothing to do with waistlines or hips! Exercise your imagination- it's good for ever part of you!
I remember once reading a poem, something about women, and there was a line in it- maybe it was, 'when I am old, I will wear a purple hat' Well, my fabric collection is well beyond purple, and the possibilities of designing my life are wide open to new color, new textures and new ties of all kinds. Try to imagine....

One of my first Green Bubbies, Harriet Heany of Blessed Memory

Almost thirty years ago I met Harriet Heany, who, along with her husband Hal, had the most marvelous, enchanted garden I had ever seen. We lived around the corner, and over the years I would bring my very young children to their garden. If the gate was open, it was a sign that you were welcome to enter the garden. (great pre-reading experience) Behind that garden gate were all varieties of perennials flowers and all sorts of vegetables- including asparagus, which I had never seen growing in a garden- especially a garden in a residential neighborhood in the city of Philadelphia. In fact, all those years ago, until I met Harriet, I think I could only identify Dandelions and Roses, and the smell of lilacs comprised my entire portfolio of gardening knowledge. However, as I listened to Harriet explain to my children how Lady Slippers and Jack in the Pulpit got their names, and as she shared her ‘pulmonaria’ and forget-me-nots, my own garden began to blossom along with my Latin, and vocabulary of ‘common names’ of all things floral. And she also showed us how vegetables grow, from her seeds, to her cold frames, to the giant asparagus which grew each year, we learned not only where vegetables ‘come from’ but how you could plant them yourself! She was also a genius as far as I could tell- because in addition to vegetables and flowers the garden also featured ‘sponges’ that grew on vines, and friendly insects which had their own names too. For me, Harriet and Hal were like a warm neighborly personification of Mr and Mrs MacGregor who inhabi
ted the Tales of Peter Rabbit. The day that Hal show my preschoolers how to build a low cement wall- by using the giant watering can to get just the right consistency, he was forever ‘cemented’ in my mind as the timeless literary figure come to life.
Harriet and Hal were well into their 80’ when I would visit them. They were Presbyterians and had no children of their own. However, by opening the gate to their garden, and sharing the joys of gardening from the depths of their hearts, they gave life to generations of gardeners who learned to love the earth, because of the love you felt when you entered the gates of their garden. Their memory as well as the thousands of perennials they ‘split’ over the years live on in gardens and hearts of all who took root in the richness of their Mt Airy garden.

Mirele Goldsmith, PhD a green bubbie!

I’d like to introduce you to Mirele Goldsmith, PhD.

Mirele is a perfect Green Bubbie- she is passionate about the environment, passionate about sharing all that she knows, is always learning- she can even chart your carbon footprint. And she is devoted to making new friends- of all ages. Along with her wonderful husband Rick, their home is known form welcoming singles, marrieds, and even families with young children to their home. Their Shabbat and Yom Tov table is always a meeting place for diverse minds and lively souls. Mirele's dissertation was all about WATER- and she has been speaking internationally on the topic- so turn your water off, and value every drop, and invite the neighbors over for a cup of tea.

Mirele is a Green Bubbie!

Are YOU a Green Bubbie- let us hear about you, and let us learn from your example, contact us at

Or, would you like to tell us about a Green Bubbie in your life?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

how old is a green bubbie?

One of the original spurs to the creation of the Green Bubbie concept was the physical move of my mother-in-law into our home over 3 years ago. At the time, she was in her late 80's, and as I was becoming a grandmother in my own right, I began mentally charting the differences in being a 'grandmother' and a great-grandmother.
On a purely numerical basis- health aside, I would say a green bubbie is anywhere beginning in your 40's 50' or 60's and easily stretching into the early 80's. As 5o becomes the new 30, I would say that from my vantage point 80 plus to 120 is beyond the scope of what I mean as a 'green bubbie' There are always exceptions.
For me 'green' means young, new and pliable. Just as in a twig or branch, if it's green it is very much alive and capable of new growth.
I also want to put forward the idea that there are probably a good 30 years for a green bubbie to grow and sprout new roots, nurture and thrive.
Stay tuned for my 'hole in the bucket list' video coming to a you-tube near you.

digging in

Here is where we get to know the green bubbie in each of us- and identify the people who have been the green bubbies in our own lives. The ‘green bubbie’ is really a name of a relationship. It is about charting a course in our lives, about what kind of person we want to be and become as we age. It is about the kinds of relationships we can create and nurture. You can “grow your own” family. Nurture the relationships you have, and branch out to establish new roots with the people who live near you- its a bio-regional focusl it’s about giving life through sharing yourself and helping those around you connect.

what is a green bubbie

First of all, a 'Bubbie' is a Yiddish word for grandmother- every culture, language had its own name for this relationship, and within families idiosyncratic names emerge -- usually from the first adorable utterance of a first grandchild. The warm associations with the name "Bubbie" may be from previous generations, when families lived within inches of each other, and generations shared language and religion as well as meals together.
Today families are spread out geographically and spiritually. The definition of 'family' keeps changing, and in many corners, the multi-generational Jewish family could be nominated for the endangered species list.
So, in this rapidly changing world, I'd like to offer a new relationship for consideration: it's "the Green Bubbie." I have been toying with "the Green Bubbie" for over a year- I wasted months thinking of it as a non-profit organization, or considering it as a for profit company. I concluded that there is nothing the Jewish community needs less at this time that another non-profit, and on the other hand, there is nothing we need more that a renewed sense of 'family.' And who could be more nurturing, accepting, connecting than a Bubbie- full of the wisdom of our sages, coupled with the passion and know how to plant real seeds and bring beauty and meaning to the (younger) generations around us.
So, I see a " Green Bubbie" as a person who can draw on her roots to establish relationships. She also knows how to plant real seeds, and how and when to pull the carrots out of the ground. Now, you don't have to be Jewish to have a Green Bubbie- and when I first started with this idea, people thought it was about teaching preschoolers how to garden. Well, that may be true, but it is also about establishing relationships with 30 and 40 somethings- it turns out, people are 'open for wisdom' and and there seems to be no limit on the number of caring relationships you can build. In this world, the more you give away materially, the less you have, But on a spiritual level, the more you give , the more you 'are' the more you 'become' and realize all you can be. It's shifting perspectives from a world defined by what you have, to a world of becoming all you can be!