Summer Excursions

The end of summer is near, fortunately and unfortunately. I am excited to get back into my routine, be on my own schedule, see my friends up in Orlando, and meet my new roommates. but I am sad leave my friends and family from back home. Looking back on my summer memories, there are a few in particular that stand out. I call them my “excursions” and I would like to elaborate:

Excursions

  1. Atlanta- Beth and I have a close, close friend who lives in Atlanta. We went to visit her and her mom for a long weekend and we had the most amazing time. It was so wonderful to spend time with people who seem like family. I have only been privileged to have friends like Shira and her mom, Debra for about 5 years, but it feel s as if I have known them a lifetime. To view more about my experience, click here
  2. Miami- Jill is one of those kind of friends who you know now will be in your bridal party—a true friend. We met in college, but she has since transferred to a different school, much to my dismay. She now lives and studies far away, but we are so lucky we had this time during the summer to spend together. We have discussed a day trip to Miami for at least a year and we finally had our day this summer! It was so much fun, enjoying a delicious meal at a café called Aroma, which made us all reminisce about trips that we’ve all taken to Israel (both together and separately). After a scrumptious meal, we walked around Lincoln Road and went into some of the shops. We all indulged in some freshly squeezed juices that were out of this world and visited a “Chabad on Wheels.” This experience was so meaningful to us because we originally met in our campus Chabad.
  3. Orlando/Gainesville- With Ashley, our confidante since Parkland Kids Camp when we were about 8 or 9, we went to visit our schools and apartments for about 5 days—mine and Beth’s being in Orlando, and Ashley’s being in Gainesville. In Orlando, we visited with some of our friends from school and spent time both shopping in the wonderful outlet malls and being big kids in Disney—Epcot, to be specific. We then drove up to Gainesville where we saw what Ashley’s school life is like. We met some of her dearest friends and devoured a home-cooked Shabbat meal at her school’s Hillel.
  4. Naples- This was my last “excursion” of the summer with my grandparents, parents, sister, cousin, aunt, and uncle. Every summer, we all drive over to the west coast of Florida for a few days. This year, our trip entailed yummy meals, shopping, tanning on a beautiful beach, swimming in a brand new pool, and being with loved ones.

These are all experiences that I will never forget with people I will never forget. Reflecting on this summer, seemed a tad disappointing (I think in comparison to last summer when I went to both New York and Israel, it looks kind of dinky) and not all that I had planned for it to be. BUT, I have accomplished so much this summer—growth as a person and growth in my knowledge and my abilities. So, how could I be disappointed in that? It turns out that I really enjoyed myself and my quality time with family and friends this summer and I have absolutely no regrets—wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Maybe it wasn’t as exciting as last summer, but fond experiences and memories will always be present.

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A Special Place in My Heart

My grandparents are some of the most important people in my life. They have always taught me the most valuable lessons like how to love and how to be loved; how to make the most of any situation; how to be grateful for what I have; how to cherish every moment; how to be proud without having a big ego; how to be compassionate and kind to others… and have helped shape me to become who I am today. Obviously I love all of my grandparents equally, but I would really like to focus this blog on the men in my life: my grandpas (Poppy and PopPop).

Poppy, my mom’s dad, is one of my favorite people ever! He passed away last year when he was almost 94 years old and I miss him terribly. Please bear with me because I’m getting a little teary-eyed as I sit here writing this. I always loved sharing with him about my life, current events, music, and much much more—and he always loved listening (and contributing, too)! He always said that we (my sister, my cousin, and I—his 3 grandchildren) are what kept him going, but really, I honestly feel that the lessons that we all learned from him are what will keep us going and aid us with success in our futures. Poppy always had a love for music and we always joked that he knew a song for every word. He always taught me to follow the music in my heart and to march to the beat of my own drum. I can’t thank him enough for all of these valuable lessons. I miss him so so much and would give anything to share one more moment with him!

PopPop, my dad’s dad, is one person I know I can always rely on—for a good laugh, to help me make a decision, to support me in all of my endeavors, to brag about me and show me off to all of his friends, to make me think, and just to give me a hug and kiss and tell me he loves me. His passions are his family, music (like Poppy!)—he walks around our office singing show tunes and other favorites, and food (he is Mr. Food, the television chef, after all). PopPop has always welcomed anyone into our family and has always made sure that everyone was included and never left out of anything (maybe that’s why all of our family gatherings are so large!). It is his warmth and inclusion that that have really taught me so much. Because of him, I have learned to accept everyone for who they are and not to make any preconceived judgments.

My two grandpas didn’t seem like in-laws to me, “Machutin,” which is Yiddish term of endearment that they always used to describe each other. They acted more like brothers than anything. They always embraced each other with a warm, enormous hug and were always so happy to see each other. I love my grandpas more than words can even describe.

WWF—Words With Friends or WorthWhile Friends?

Now that I have left the Stone Age and entered into the modern world by becoming a smart phone user, I feel so up-to-date and in-touch with the world. I am absolutely in love with my new phone! Like most other new smart phone-users, I have gone app-crazy! There are just so many to choose from… what’s a girl to do! Among my favorites, however, is Words with Friends (or WWF as I like to call it—Words With Friends is just too long to keep repeating).

For those of you who have never played the game before, WWF is very similar to Scrabble—each player builds words based on the seven letters in his/her hand and based on the letters already placed on the board.

Not only is WWF a wonderful game to keep my mind going, it is also a fabulous way of keeping in touch with friends and family! There is a chat tool in the game where you can communicate with the other player (whether it’s to brag about your high score or complain about only having vowels). Because I am away at school most of the year, it is sometimes difficult to keep in touch with friends from home; so, the chat tool (as well as all of the technology available to us today) really helps with this dilemma.

Besides the great fun we have playing the game, my friends provide me with strength, comfort, and the ability to always help me see the best in the game of life; it is essential to maintain relationships with them. I am fortunate enough to have friends that share memories which date all the way back to elementary school and I know that they will be the ones that will be in my wedding party, the ones I will race down the halls in our wheelchairs when we are too old to keep walking. They will continue to always stick by my side for the rest of my life and I will be by theirs. Each one of my friends holds a special place in my heart.

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” – Bernard Meltzer

For now, we’re just happy to enjoy a few rounds of WWF!