Monthly Archives: September 2017

Boy, you gotta carry that weight, carry that weight a long time…



I have to be honest, Rosh Hashana never really feels like a new year.  I don’t know if it is because I am a convert, or if it’s because I live life on the Gregorian calendar, I don’t even know if other people feel this way.  But generally it’s just a nice day to spend with family, go to services and eat.   The feeling I get on December 31st is not the feeling I get on Erev Rosh Hashana; the anticipation, the traditions, the leave-it-all-behind attitude to start anew, none of it is there.

However, this year it feels a little bit more like December 31st is fast approaching.  I feel rundown and long to take a deep breath.  But I also feel hopeful.  That’s generally how I feel as the year ends.  The last two weeks have been complete madness.  For days I worried about the safety of my loved ones (and, admittedly, about the safety of some of my worldly possessions).  I packed up my apartment, prioritized my belongings and went on a journey northwest (Tampa).  The northeast (Orlando).  Then braced for the inevitable (Irma).  My parents decided not to join us on that journey at the last minute.  It, inevitably, caused a huge blowup before we parted ways.  I left in tears and filled with regret.  I wondered if I would see them again.  I cried for some of the drive and apologized as best I could from afar.  Another blowup followed a day later.  We were all on edge and not handling it well, at all.

Yet, what followed was a week of witnessing humanity at its best.  Family and friends from afar checked in filled with love and concern.  They all helped as best they could.  My sister sent me weather updates when we lost power and had no radio, my mother-in-law helped us find dog-friendly accommodations, a cousin I reconnected with online offered here home, another offered her calming voice.

The monster storm passed and we were all safe.  I felt great relief when I was able to communicate with my parents again, despite the spotty cellular signal.  We got on the road early Monday, eager to reunite.  We returned to find our city rattled, but not broken.  Our homes were fine, albeit dark and hot.  I made friends with neighbors and we helped each other as best we could; we shared information, food and comforting words as necessary, even some laughs.

Sleeping in our apartment without electricity to power our air conditioning was not easy (especially for Finch and my mid-western husband, in that order), but we were quickly taken in by my aunt and uncle who had electricity, with love and a spare room to share.  The news from loved ones trickled in: my friends were safe my grandparents were safe, extended family members were safe.  Facebook became a lifeline for information and everyone was willing to share what they knew and offer what they could.  My grandmother was able to send a few e-mails from Cuba to let us know she was okay and how things were progressing there.  My grandfather’s home in Key Largo weathered the storm for the most part.  Some weren’t so lucky, like my aunt, but they knew their material losses would be restored with their loved ones by their side.  I felt infinitely grateful.

This week I have seen the worst of Miami make a comeback -the rude drivers, the short tempers, the self-centeredness- but it will not phase me (too much).  I am grateful for the safety of my loved ones, I am grateful to have weathered the storm both literally and figuratively, and I am grateful for an unexpected lesson on letting go of the stuff.

Before we left on our evacuation journey I secured what I felt was most important (family pictures and what I consider heirlooms) and felt at peace with coming back to an empty wardrobe and no electronic distractions. I had never felt so detached from the stuff that clutters my apartment.  It was freeing.  Now, I won’t lie and tell you I am not psyched to have come back to a closet full of nothing to wear and hours of mindless television to watch, because I am, totally; I have invested a lot of hard-earned money into both.

Still, I will carry that feeling into the new year with me, this new year that is feeling so new.  I will carry that gratitude and freedom, I will carry that love and that view of humanity into 5778 (and through what’s left of 2017).  I am taking my leave-it-all-behind attitude to start anew, carrying with me only what is necessary and truly important, and trying to peacefully leave all of that other stuff behind.

Shanah Tovah Umetukah


Red Hair, Don’t Care


I’ve thought about henna-ing my hair on and off for a while.  I’ve been trying to lead a cruelty-free life, as you know, and it seemed like a great alternative to those awful chemical dyes.  However, every time I looked into it I was dissuaded.  It’s messy.  It smells.  It’s permanent.  You cannot dye over it.  It can react badly to dyed hair (that is, it can turn weird colors and cause serious breakage).  But this long weekend, as I stressed about the hurricane headed straight for us, I decided to focus my nervous energy into my hair.  It was a bit brash; especially since I am kind of obsessed with my hair, but that is just what I jumped into.  I watched some YouTube videos on Saturday, read some articles, blogs and the like.  Then on Monday I decided to just do it.  I knew the only henna readily available to me was from Lush or Whole Foods, anything else I would have to order and wait for.  And that’s just not my style.  So I went to Whole Foods and picked up Rainbow Research henna.  I have read some mixed reviews about their henna (something about twigs, I didn’t find any in mine, and how it would fade quickly, that one we will see about), but it didn’t have any extra ingredients and it was on sale, so why not?


After reading their instructions I realized they were not dissimilar to most online suggestions, so I followed them.  The only thing I altered was the wait time of the product in my hair (I went with four hours) and the time I let the mix sit (about 2 hours).  I also did something I had never cared to do before (given my adventurous and brash spirit I usually chance it, that has resulted in green hair (unintentional) and highlighted eyebrows (also unintentional)).  I only let the mix sit about thirty minutes before my strand test, and about an hour on my stand of hair, but it seemed fine so I went ahead and applied it to all of my hair.

The mix I used consisted of a little more than half of the container of red and 2-3 plastic tablespoons of light brown (I didn’t want the color to be too orange and I read that the Cassia used in the brown is also very moisturizing).  I added about a cup and a half of just brewed Rooibos tea (only one bag) and a few drops of vitamin-e oil.  I did so slowly and whisking it together with a plastic fork until the mixture was smooth, shiny and had the consistency of yogurt.  It was initially mud green, but as the dyes released it was more brownish.  The smell is awful.  At first it smells like tea, but as you’re applying it (and wearing it) it smells like a farm, even my dog was grossed out and he is of the “the stinkier the better” variety.


The application was not as messy as I had read and the color did not really stain my skin (even the parts I had not covered in oil seemed relatively normal, like my arms and neck), but gloves are a must!  I was also not really bothered by keeping it on my head for four hours while I cleaned my apartment and watched 90 Day Fiance.  I had rinsed my hair immediately before applying it and I felt that the wet (towel-dried) hair made the mix a bit cold so I did blow dry a couple of times (heat is an important part of this whole process).  I also wore two Publix shopping bags over my head.  It was a very romantic experience for my husband all around.

I washed it off with a Giovanni shampoo and conditioned with the same.  Still, my hair smelled faintly like tea (at least the barn smell was gone!).


I am THRILLED with the results.  No itching or burning on my scalp (like with chemical dye), great gray coverage, less hair loss when washing and brushing, thicker and shinier hair, and my hair is still just as wavy as it was before the henna.

I must also note I have been dying my hair for years (decades).  The last time I had dyed all of my hair (root to tip) was late May so I had a pretty noticeable root growth (with so many grays!).  I think the roots blend pretty well with the rest (especially since my grays now look like highlights), and the variations in color look relatively natural.  The tips of my hair (which were so fried they were blonde) look much healthier too!  I guess, in my case at least, three months was enough to avoid any issues with the chemicals.


My roots, before and after (wet and dry).IMG_8991

My hair in dark lighting, before and after.

Overall I think this is a great option (for going red at least, not sure about the other shades) and one that I will stick with. I only hope I can maintain this golden red.  I will share updates, come what may!