18 Years: Secret Revealed

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I have been married almost 18 years. By celebrity standards it’s about six marriages combined. By divorce standards, we’ve “beat the odds” and by my standards it still feels like we both learn something new all the time.

Longevity seekers all want to know, the secret. Well, come close my dear, I am about to give you the big reveal:

Marriage is damn, freakin’ hard. But, the secret is we don’t give up.

Yep. There it is. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Marriage is called a Labor of Love. I stress the labor part. Yes, when I’m sad, he’ll make me laugh. Sick? He’ll take over. Bored? He’ll entertain. Kvetch session? He’s all ears. But, easy? HA…

When the shiznitch piles up and his imperfections air their stinky socks on my bedroom floor, we talk it out. We yell. We scream. We even have been known to do the silent treatment. But, we always, always stick it out. No matter how ugly it gets. Oh, and it gets ugly sometimes.

In Hollywood or entertainment magazines you often read the term, “We just fell out of love”. Sorry, I’m not buying it. You don’t just ‘fall’ out of love if you were deep in it the first time. You gave up on the love. Someone stopped trying to rekindle the dulling flame. Someone let interests, a roving eye or anger get the best of the marriage. So,  like any plant in my care – it just shriveled up and died.

That is not to say every marriage that ends can be saved. I get it. Some are meant to fail or not meant to have been to begin with. Some hurts can’t be fixed. The commitment has to be two-sided and wanted by both partners.

Long-lasting, loving relationships have to accept the idea that romantic love full of fun-lusting, passion is just not going to be a mainstay on a daily basis. No french maid outfits, no weekly steak dinners after Year One and the cholesterol kicks in and certainly no candlelit bubble bath waiting at the end of a hard day (usually)…

Marriage is work. Hard work. You gotta give it your all and you will reap the rewards of romance and passion some of the time. Which is awesome. But, constant fun? Nope. Constant lust? Nu-uh. Perfection? Puleez.

So, what could a long-lasting marriage look like? Two people that remember to do their work, put in their giving and loving and appreciate the fact that you have a partner who will do the same for you. A marriage that supports not only the highs but helps with the lows. Learning how to fight fair and really forgive. Walking out is easy (in that moment. Not suggesting leaving afterwards is any easy walk in the park either…). Sticking it out when its tough and extra labor is required is the hard part. As novelist Ivan Turgenev once said,  If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.” So stop waiting for perfection and start living an awesome married life. Now, you know the secret. Go forth and endure…

The Plank Debunked – Day 2 of Getting Healthy or Die Trying

 On Day 2 of Getting Healthier, I began with my usual 210-calorie breakfast consisting of a nonfat cinnamon dolce latte no whip, extra foamy. Getting healthy must include coffee regardless of nutrition (hey it has milk, that’s some calcium, right?!)

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After my coffee I head home to have some oatmeal and strawberries. My nutrition research suggests I am not getting enough fiber in my diet. Although I hate the consistency of oatmeal I suffer through.

Now, on to planks. Anyone who has experienced a C-section (I’ve had 2) likely has very weak stomach muscles. Add the prior appendix removal and you have some seriously jelly core muscles. I did not realize that core is so imperative to your health. But, with a stronger core you can improve your posture, relieve tension on the lower back and knees. It also boosts your ability to get on to more strenuous exercise that will help everything else firm up (the ultimate goal here) So, it’s pretty imperative to start on this ASAP.

Planks are essentially the beginning of waking up your core muscle group.  With fancy names you can see that these muscles are in your abdomen and also holding up your back and spine. Without strengthening this muscle group, your entire body is a mess working overtime to compensate.

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To do a proper plank I suggest having a friend or family member watch you for form. I am still working on this as my muscles are so weak, but in only 2 days I am sort of getting the hang of it.

  • Begin with your forearms and toes pressed into the floor. A yoga mat or carpet would be excellent to help you grip with your toes.
  • Slowly push up on your forearms keeping elbows bent 90 degrees.
  • Keep your body in as straight a line as you can. This is NOT so easy your first few times. Your butt will want to sag down – do what you can to keep it level with the rest of your body.
  • Head is looking down to keep the line straight from ears to ankles.
  • Hold position as long as you can. I can only hold like 5 seconds, if you’re good you can get to like 20 or beyond.

Here’s what a perfect Plank looks like (I will NOT show you mine – yet!)

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Once you have a Plank held for like 15-20 seconds you can get fancy and add leg lifts and arm lifts. As I haven’t gotten there yet, I will keep you posted. I look forward to Planking on a daily basis as it sounds super-cool. “Hey Sara, did you Plank today?” Well, yes, yes I did…

Oops I Did It Again!

As owner of the site, stretchingmylimits.com, I am embarrassed to admit that I stretched so far that, I snapped.

It was the busiest time of year for Jewish Mothers. Six weeks prep, approximately 20 Jewish Holiday meals prepared and many school days off for my children. This usually happens right on the heels of finally getting the kids back to school, only to then watch them (and me) bounce in and out routine. Alas, I took care of everyone. During this food prep fest, cleaning frenzy and child-entertaining my husband and I both got bronchitis – adding yet another layer to an already overwhelmed household. In all the chaos, I broke my cardinal rule “Put your mask on yourself FIRST and then your children”.

It was not obvious to me, at first, what my real issue was. I was snappy with my husband, short-tempered with my kids and exhausted. I thought just an evening out with hubby would clear me back for takeoff but, dinner turned into a kvetch-fest which ended in no fun for anyone. Hubby asked me a question, just a simple question and I nearly bit off his head. I was just not ‘right’ and couldn’t figure out why. I went on and on, cleaning and caring for everyone until I literally had a breakdown.

It happened just a few days ago. I was folding laundry, peeking in on the kids on their computers or television, watching my husband read a book in the chair when I just snapped. I yelled at literally everyone in my house, beginning with my poor little three year old all the way up to Big Pappa himself. I felt just awful at the end of the night. I had to take a moment to examine where all of this anger was coming from. At first in my mind, it was all ‘their’ faults. Lazy, didn’t help clear enough. Messy, just dumped her stuff all over the place. Inept, could not possibly ask if I needed help in the kitchen. I named them all. It was when I started feeling worse, instead of better I realized it was time to turn the table on myself.

Truth be told my children and husband were tremendously helpful over the entire six weeks. The children were well-behaved under the circumstances and above and beyond patient with their ever crazed mother. My husband took the kids out, helped in the kitchen and even bought me a beautiful thank you gift. It was me that was the problem. I had forgotten to even take two seconds for myself in over SIX weeks. I put the mask on my children and husband before I put one on myself!

Once this realization hit like a ton of bricks I explained my need for speed. I ran out of the house and spent three blissful hours at the bookstore, my haven. The manicure place, my self care. In the car with my own station, my own quiet and caught up with a few friends on the phone that I hadn’t spoken to in weeks. It was literally rejuvenating.

It’s so difficult to remember to take care of you, when so much else is going on around you. It’s easy to put yourself last on the list because, well, you’re the most flexible with your time.  Just one more thing, becomes ten more things and then someone else needs you.

I cannot allow myself, nor should anyone, to become irrelevant in the business of life. You don’t just hurt your Self, you end up hurting everyone around you. It is my responsibility as a wife, mother and woman to provide self-care and space to recharge the batteries to working condition. I have already planned me time this week, on my calendar, cleared with the family. They were all grateful for it.

Have you planned yours? What will you do?

Birthday Shmirthday

In just 2 days I am having a birthday. Not a big celebratory milestone, just a passage of my thirty-eighth year on this lovely planet. As a child birthdays were very big in my home. Members of our family were expected to all purchase cards, gifts and create hoopla worthy of a month’s prior excitement build-up. I would make countdown calendars and dream up what sparkly bauble or expensive trinket would arrive in my hands. But, alas many birthdays exciting as they may have been, never met or exceeded my tremendous expectations. It wasn’t for lack of effort on my family’s part, it was for lack of realistic expectation on my own childish self.

As I got older and birthdays passed being cool to celebrate with parties and splendor, it was then time for my boyfriends or best girlfriends to make my day feel ‘special’. With fancy dinners, trips downtown to an off broadway show and finally, many a sparkly bauble; still birthdays felt too contrived, too materialistic and too much hype.

I have never enjoyed being the center of attention. I do not know what to do with all that fawning over me and other’s love being worn on the sleeve. Middle children are born to squeeze in under the radar, we were not born to be fussed over. Perhaps this is why birthdays always made me well, sad.

In the past fifteen plus years I have been blessed with children, birthdays have taken on new meaning for me. Celebrating the birth of my own child is a beautiful gift and I cherish their own birth day full of memories and happiness for all they have accomplished so far. My own birthday has become about allowing my children and my husband the opportunity to shower me with whatever silly, affectionate or loving things they can come up with, no expectations necessary.

This year, as I inch closer to the top of the hill, I have a new feeling about birthdays. Maybe it’s odd, but I feel this tremendous need to give gifts to those who enhance my life and create my years on this earth spectacular everyday. I want to show gratitude to my own parents, who have given me the gift of life and cultivated me into who I am becoming everyday. I want to give thanks to my children for allowing me the ability to be the very best version of me, so far, so that I can represent them well. They have taught me the value of seeing things for the first time, taking it all in and not being so darn in a rush to grow up. I want to buy gifts and give cards to my wonderful husband for having tremendous patience with me and showing me what unconditional love truly feels like – despite my craziness, my drama and my woman-ness, he still accepts me regardless. I want to shout from the rooftops that I am so tremendously gifted with the very best of friends. My girl friends (and I include my sisters in my girlfriends) are the absolutely most supportive group of women I have ever met. They have held my hand while I’ve cried, laughed at my not so funny mistakes and pretended that they actually value my opinion (which makes me feel really important 🙂

When my children begged me to know what I wanted this year and I answered, nothing, I wasn’t just saying that and hoping for a diamond necklace. I really do not want for anything else. I need to thank G-d for the tremendous, amazing and gifted life these nearly 38 have been. If I could just ask for no more crow’s feet and a few less pounds, I would accept those gifts 🙂

Here’s to many more celebrations for all….

Ode to Dads


Being a mother is always touted as the ‘hardest job on Earth’ and as a mother, I do agree. However, I think that often poor Dads get a bum rap.In most 2 parent families it is the father that is the breadwinner. Having the tremendous responsibility to bring home that bacon and then divide it up amongst the many hungry mouths is a tremendous burden. Many Dads do not have the luxury of choosing a job they enjoy – they choose the employment that makes the most money or affords the the most growth potential.

Aside from working a full-time job, Dads also have the responsibility of coming home exhausted but, placing their own personal feelings aside to be ‘on’ for the kids and the overworked wife. I get the luxury when my husband walks in to dump my kids and take a few minutes breather.

Dads also need to be role models for their sons and daughters both in very different ways. Dad is meant to teach son to be strong, adept at household repairs, sensitive to a woman’s needs while maintaining a sense of keeping it all together. Dad is meant to teach daughter what kind of man she should look to marry as well as teach her that women are to be respected as an equal, and given the appropriate amount of hugs on both sides.

Dad often, at least in my house growing up and in my house now, defers to the Mom on all matters of scheduling, discipline and often money doling. Dad, helps out with the housework (at least in my house) and does supplementary childcare when he can be flexible with his schedule.

Dads are fun, funny, awesome, huggable and extremely talented at juggling all that life throws at them (and my husband can actually, literally juggle!) They are perfect at giving horseback rides, coming up with an innovative last minute dinner idea (noodles and milk, anyone?) and always ready for anything spur of the moment.

Dads have a way of smiling at you and making all the boo-boos disappear…

Here’s to my Dad, my husband and my father-in-law – Happy Father’s Day!!

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