Monthly Archives: April 2014

A touch of homesickness

Russian Ridge 11-2011

Home is where the heart is.

It has been just over three months since I landed down under and while we are having a grand time in Oz, last week I had a touch of homesickness for the first time. The last time I was homesick was when we moved to Vienna, Austria in 1990 for the year. Back then we landed in winter, which was cold and dreary, weeks of grey skies. I barely spoke the language and all the food seemed to have vinegar in it. I was pregnant for the first time and while excited about having a baby, it felt like there were just too many hormones in my body. I had no clue on how to mother myself, much less a baby. The world seemed larger then. International phone calls were expensive, there was no such thing as email or Skype.

Now, 24 years later, we are in an English speaking country and organic produce is abundant; no more pregnancy (actually no more hormones, but that is a story for a post on aging). While the weather has recently turned gloomy: lots of grey skies that promise rain, I think my homesickness is due to something else, something more fundamental in me.

I know I am influenced by my environment. I have a strong need to feel at home and this means a home in which I feel comfortable. We have lived in rented homes and we have owned our homes, ownership is not as important to me as being able to make our house a home. Turns out that I am a homemaker after all. Nesting with my own things is central to my well being. Mothering myself means recognizing what makes me feel ‘at home’ and then creating it in our living space.

Please don’t get me wrong,  I enjoy traveling. I enjoy the excitement of going somewhere new and experiencing life in a different place. I like staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. Packing and unpacking doesn’t feel like a burden. But after about three months of traveling I hit a wall.

This isn’t about comfort, our life in Melbourne is comfortable: we are renting a condo with great views and lots of space. I can walk to yoga, an outdoor market with organic produce (the Queen Victoria Market is terrific). David walks to his office at the Melbourne University Law School. There is easy public transportation. And the coffee shops here are great, do I hear anyone saying long black?

I have made friends here. Our life feels full, but it feels temporary. And this takes me back to Vienna all those years ago. It always felt temporary, because I knew we were only there for a short time: one year then, 5 months now.

One of my friends, who lived in Melbourne years ago, advised me not to tell people I met that we were only here for five months. She worried that they wouldn’t be bothered for someone who is barely here. And while that might be the case for some people, the majority here have been kind, open-hearted. We feel embraced by the locals.

The real person I shouldn’t have told is myself. Because the heart of the matter is that I have been holding back in some ways, knowing that we are just here for five short months. Living ‘temporary’ is fine for me but at about three months it starts feeling inauthentic, temporary, like waiting for a plane and just killing time.

I hit the homesick wall because I know in five weeks, we will be ‘moving’ back to our stuff, closer to our kids, our friends, our family. I just started thinking about the trip back, unpacking our stuff, reclaiming our home. It feels like living in two places at once, but not really in either. Mothering myself means living in the present while remembering that all things are temporary.

Note to self: “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Laugh. Play with abandon. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Practice wellness. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”

Have you ever been homesick? Would love to hear where and when and perhaps why.

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Oh Shit, I’ve Turned Into My Mother!

When my mother retired in 2000, I gave the following toast to her at her retirement party. She was a trail blazer professionally, after dedicating herself to raising her two kids. I was proud of her then and am proud of her now. 

I am happy to be here, celebrating one of my favorite women, my mother, Gloria Tener. In some ways, I can’t really believe that we are here today, marking a milestone in her career: the occasion of her retirement and observing a change in her focus from professional mediator to that of busy citizen. Where did the time go mother?

It feels like yesterday when she returned to paid employment after taking a 10 year hiatus to raise children. The reality is that it didn’t happen yesterday, but rather over 30 years ago! Maybe it feels familiar because I am following my mother’s footsteps: I have recently returned to paid employment after 10 years (or so) of raising two of Gloria’s four grandchildren. They say that mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery, in that case, mother, my life is following the path you blazed. Thank you for the inspiration. The path you have chosen has been unique, creative, inspiring and you’ve made it look fun. Mom, it feels good to be following in your footsteps.

And what a path to follow, what great shoes to fill: 30 years of working while balancing children, family and creating a unique professional career. My mother, the original sequencer!

I have a small collection of quotes on refrigerator magnets that I want to share a few with you and how they relate to my mother.

The first one is a quote by Marian Thompson, a co-Founder of La Leche League International:

“No matter how far our world advances technologically, the decisions of how to use that technology still have to be made by people. And so the kind of people we produce is crucial to the direction our world takes. You know that raising a loving, caring child is the most important contribution any of us can make to the progress of the world.”

Well my mother lived that philosophy by making my brother and I her priority for our early years. It worked so well, that I had to follow her example and do the same with my children.

The 2nd quote is by Ma Hershey. It reflects what I hope I inherited from my mother—her approach to life:

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Laugh. Play with abandon. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Practice wellness. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”

My mother has always lived with intention. She could have written that one herself. I feel lucky that I was able to watch her shining example of doing what she loved and living in the moment.

The next quote I want to share is a bit hokey and I am not sure who said it, but bear with me:

“Reach for the moon. If you fall short you may land on a star.”

Going to paid employment in 1970, and creating a career in labor relations took a lot of courage, a bit of chutzpah and a huge leap of faith. My mother’s eternal optimism had her reach for the moon. And the fact is she didn’t fall short, she landed a star!

And the last magnet on my refrigerator says:

“Oh shit, I’ve turned into my mother!”

Not a bad thing all in all. Here’s to you Mom–congratulations on your retirement! Love you.

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Country visit to Bowral

Imagine if you will a countryside visit from another era. That is what our visit to Bowral, in the Southern Highlands of Australia outside of Sydney, felt like. Maybe it was the lush green countryside. Maybe it was the layout of the homes and gardens we visited. Maybe it was the ‘English’ feel of the town and surrounding area. Or maybe it was getting to drive around in a classic Rolls Royce. Whatever it was, we had a wonderful time exploring this part of Australia with our hosts from Sydney, Justin and John.

Heidi David Rolls Bowral Bowral 2

In addition to exploring the towns of Bowral and Mittagong, we also wondered the grounds of Milton Park and walked on the suspension bridges of the Illawarra Fly over a rain forest with views of the Ocean.  The weather was misty and at times a bit gloomy, but that just added to the English Country Side feel as we explored galleries, art museums, cheese tastings and shops in the area.

Milton Park Sculpture Heidi Sweet Dreams Cheese
Illawarra fly David Bridge Heidi View
Pastoral Australia Heidi David Cafe Australia

It is a rural, pastoral part of Australia, but lush and green, with rolling hills. Other then the names of the towns, it almost felt like we were in the English countryside.  Not many tourists end up in this part of the country, but it felt great to explore a part of Australia, with a long rich history surrounded by such beauty.

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary!

The traditional gift for a 25th wedding anniversary is silver. But for our 25th anniversary this year my husband gave me so much more than the traditional gift. This year he gave me Australia. Not to own or be mine per se, but rather to live and travel and experience life down under for 5 months.

Since January we have been based in Melbourne, Australia. This has meant trips to New Zealand, Tasmania and Sydney so far. Still to come are trips to Uluru (indigenous name for Ayers Rock), Kakadu National Park, Hamilton Island, The Great Barrier Reef and then island hopping in Indonesia to Komodo and the yoga resort the Temple Lodge. As you read this post, we are on Kangaroo Island, celebrating our actual 25th wedding anniversary (and David’s birthday).

Akaroa Beach NZ

Akaroa Beach NZ Jan 2014

Freycinet Park Tasmania

Freycinet Park Tasmania Feb 2014

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb April 2014

World travel is a very big deal to me and I feel like in some ways, our marriage has given me the world. Before we were married we traveled to Bermuda and Switzerland. Afterwards we moved to Vienna Austria for a year. In fact in the first 10 years of marriage we had lived in 6 homes on 2 different continents. And now half a year in Australia. What a ride these 25 years have been.

And the funny thing is that our relationship is kind of like the movie, Harry Met Sally. We met in 1978, while in college. My friend and I were trying to find an apartment on campus. David was living in an apartment with 3 other roommates who were looking for two women willing to share the double room in their unit. But the real reason we got the room was that one of David’s apartment mates had a crush on my friend. David and I dated for a month or two that semester, but soon after his 22nd birthday he broke up with me. Said I was too intense and he was probably right! It broke my heart at the time, but we continued our friendship and never lost touch. I considered David an important friend, but not at all a romantic possibility.


10 years later David invited me to go on vacation with him, as friends. He thought he had two tickets to Hawaii, but that didn’t work out, so we ended up in Bermuda. What a romantic place! In my mind this was supposed to be a week-long ‘fling’, but it turned out to be the beginning of a 25 year marriage.

Heidi BK Sloss David Sloss

Just friends in 1984

Anyone who has been in a long term relationship will tell you that it isn’t always easy. And when you throw in a few spirited kids and a bunch of moves, both in and outside of the USA, it means some work. But the work isn’t onerous. And best of all we both still make each other laugh–humor being a wonderful ingredient to a long and happy marriage.

Our relationship has gone through a lot these 35+ years, from secret crush (mine on him!), through ‘dating’ and a breakup. When I was living in NYC, David used to couch crash in my place because we were good friends. When we started dating for the second time, ten years after our first dating ‘misadventure,’ I really did think it was just a short term moment in time. But it grew and grew and grew to a now 25 year marriage to a man I respect and still want to be with. In other words it has been a love affair and i consider myself to be very lucky to get to marry my best friend.

At our wedding David’s brother, Michael, gave us some advice. He compared marriage to being in the marines: it wasn’t just a job, it was an adventure. And he was right. So far we have had lots of great adventures, this man has kept me on my toes (and always with a suitcase stocked for the next trip).

Who knows what the next 25 years will look like, but I say, Bring it on!

25th Anniversary

Happy 25th Anniversary darling.

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Learning the Weaver’s Handshake

Last weekend, while up in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales (about an hour outside of Sydney) our hosts took us to a textile exhibit called, Ordinary/Extraordinary at the Sturt Australian Contemporary Craft and Design school/gallery/center. This is a very cool center focusing on teaching Australian contemporary craft and design. While walking around the grounds, we wondered into the textile weaving cottage and got to meet the weaving goddess, Kay Faulkner. She is a master weaver, designer and teacher and was working on a loom that the woodworking students had built for her. She was weaving a piece of linen that she was planning on adding embroidery to, hence my interest.

She has been a full time professional hand weaver since the mid 1980’s and has been working, studying and playing in the textile field all her life.  She considers herself to be both a textile artist and an exacting craft worker. She was the 2013 artist-in-residence in the Weaving Studio at Sturt and is currently the studio leader, living and breathing textiles. She travels, exhibits and teaches (including master classes) around the world.

Kay Faulkner Weaver Weaving Sturt School

Kay was wonderfully entertaining as she was educating us about weaving, the Sturt School and the piece she was creating. As we said good bye, I put my hand on her sleeve and started to feel the linen shirt she was wearing, without thinking about it. She told us that I was giving her the weaver’s handshake–something that those of us who create with threads, cloth, textiles do all the time. For those of us in the textile/stitching world, we love the feel of what we work with as much as the process of making it!

Here is me giving Kay the weaver’s handshake. The photo is not in focus, but you can tell I am touching her sleeve!

Sturt School Weavers Handshake

The Sturt school teaches courses in jewelry making, ceramics, wood working and weaving. If I were to come back to Australia, it would be to get lost in some course work here for sure!

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Happy Birthday Dad!

Birthdays come and they go. For most of us they aren’t a real accomplishment. They just happen, like the tides, naturally and mostly unavoidable. But for some people, reaching a birthday milestone is a real achievement. So I want to wish my father a very Happy Birthday and congratulations for making it to 80–because in this case is a real accomplishment!

My father credits modern medicine for outliving every known male relative in his family and this certainly had a hand in his longevity. But at a certain point, living to 80, and beyond, also means making good choices for lifestyle, diet and exercise.

When people hear about my parent’s divorce while I was in college and that they each made marriages to younger spouses, I hear comments on how weird must be. But the reality is that it works just fine. And I know that it is part of the secret to my father’s achieving 80. You see, about 30 years ago my father married a younger woman. Not a full generation younger, but just young enough to make a difference. I attribute a lot of his current good health and well-being to his need to keep up with her. The two kids they had together didn’t hurt either–having people to live for make a huge difference. So thank you Karen, Heather and Bradley.

My father is an incredibly loving and kind hearted man. Growing up, his love and acceptance was incredibly nurturing. His legacy is his four children and the love he gave us. I hope that I have been able to share that kind of love and acceptance as a parent with my kids.

When it turned out that my husband’s sabbatical meant our living overseas for the first half of 2014, I knew that I had to find a way to get back to NYC for his 80th birthday. So early in our planning for our time in Melbourne, Australia, we built in a two week trip for me back to the United States to coincide with his birthday. With the cooperation of relatives up and down the USA eastern seaboard we pulled off surprising him for the big event.

Last month I flew to the states, stopping in Fiji for the day, before flying to Washington, DC to visit with relatives there. Both kids met me: my daughter on her spring break from Syracuse University and my son in from Silicon Valley. The three of us then drove to Princeton., NJ to see my mother and her husband and then onto NYC to surprise my father for his birthday.

At the pool on my layover in Fiji.

At the pool on my layover in Fiji.

Seeing the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere, also in Fiji.

Seeing the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere, also in Fiji.

With my kids for lunch in Philly at the Oyster House.

With my kids for lunch in Philly at the Oyster House.

On his actual birthday, we waited in a restaurant in Manhattan, me my kids and my son’s girlfriend. at the right time we watched them come in. It was priceless: seeing the look on his face as he saw us and realized I had flown in all the way from Australia to be with him for his 80th. On his face I saw his surprise, his delight and his love all rolled into one. We both were overcome with emotion. 

It was a wonderful moment and a great evening. Two days later we threw him a big party. Here is a photo of my dad with his four kids and one of his four grandchildren.


I am very lucky that I have had such a long and loving relationship with my father. He has been a source of love and acceptance my whole life. I can’t imagine not being there with him to celebrate this great milestone.

So whether it is modern medicine, your second family, making good health choices or just great luck, I am thrilled that I got to celebrate your 80th birthday with you Dad. I challenge you to make 90–no matter where I am in the world, I’ll show up if you do!



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

6 Helpful Things to Say or Do for a Cancer Patient

I wrote this in honor of my 30th year being cancer free. In April of 1984 I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Luckily it turned out alright and here I am 30 years later to tell you that cancer is not an automatic death sentence. I have since gone through cancer diagnoses and treatments of my husband, my mother, my brother and my father-in-law. additionally, my mother-in-law and my aunt are also both cancer survivors. 

Last post I called the 10 Things Never to Say or Do to a Cancer Patient. This time I want to share helpful things that were said or done for us as we went through our cancer adventures. Here is a list of actions and activities that most cancer patients will welcome.

1) Offer to listen. And then really listen. No talking about your own fears and agenda (or anything on the list from last time). Listen, help them process. If this makes you uncomfortable, then offer something else from the list below.

2) Take them a meal. Don’t offer, just do it. Better yet, organize their friends to bring meals. This was one of THE best things our friends did for us when my husband was sick. Frankly, with all the decisions that had to be made at the time, choosing what to eat or to cook or even to buy was overwhelming. Being able to open the front door and find healthy cooked meal was perfect. Our friends organized meals that came 3 times a week for 8 weeks. It was a lifesaver for us.

3) If they have kids, make play dates and or sleepovers. This was one of the hard parts for us when my husband had his cancer. Our kids were 6 and 1; our daughter was still nursing and couldn’t be separated, but our son was in 1st grade and had tons of energy. Unfortunately, the parents at the private school where he was enrolled really let us down. There were very few offers to have him over and it was a drain on me. We moved him out the school the next year because of this. I yearned for caring people to spend time with my son so that I could be there for my husband.

4) Offer to come over and do laundry, especially if they have kids. Laundry does not stop because someone has cancer. It needs to be done and it is very helpful when someone else does it. Having my laundry washed and folded was a real treat and helped us out immensely.

5) Offer to listen to the cancer patient’s spouse/partner. If they are married, the spouse is the one who is most likely doing everything, frightened out of his/her mind and receiving very little support. My husband and I both agree that while it awful to be a cancer patient, it is equally awful to be the spouse of one. So many people are focused on the patient, rarely is anyone offering to help the spouse.

6) If you can’t figure out what to do or what to say, then say so. Speak from your heart. It is okay to say that you don’t know what to say, and that you are there for them. Tell them that you are thinking of them and that they are not alone. One of the most comforting things I heard was from a friend who told me that I was not alone, going through this terrifying experience. She told me that all our friends were going through it with us. Even though we were on the ‘front lines,’ they were all freaked out with and for us as we moved through the cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery period. This was very helpful for me.

I always tell people that belonging to the cancer survivor club is one of the best clubs ever–it sure beats the alternative. Have you had a personal experience with cancer? Would love to hear what helped you get through it in the comments section.

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!