When it hurts to smile …

10 Feb

This past Thursday I had gum surgery (my gums are failing at their one job … thanks, genetics!), and while I’m not really in much pain, it does hurt to smile.

For anyone who knows me, can you imagine what it must be like if it hurts to smile?

So over the past week, if I saw you and gave you only a lukewarm smirk, I apologize for that. The story you told or the warm hello you gave would have normally received an ear-to-ear grin!

Having trouble smiling has given me a new perspective on all of the things I wish I could have smiled at. Even though this list might bring me a bit of physical discomfort, I’m going to use my written words here to express things I’ve wanted to smile about over the past few days.

  • Childhood memories. I used my post-gum-surgery recovery time as an opportunity to begin cleaning out my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house, and boy did I come across many smile-worthy mementos. I found birthday cards from friends, positive comments from teachers on school essays, old books that I loved reading, and approximately 30 journals with 2-5 entries in each. A trip down memory lane.
  • Visiting my old stomping grounds. On Sunday I attended a memorial service for an elementary school teacher at Solomon Schechter Day School, and it was such a meaningful experience to see former teachers and hear the songs from my school days.
  • Conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. Sorry I couldn’t make my face properly react to your stories, but as always, I do enjoy talking with you!
  • Our wedding video. We got to see an early draft of our wedding video, and I loved reliving that amazing day. But, oww, my mouth hurt after watching it!
  • Tutoring. Since the surgery, I have tutored seven different Bar/Bat Mitzvah students. I didn’t think it was necessary to tell them the gory details of my surgery, but hopefully they believed me when I verbally said “Great job!” but my facial expression said, “I think you’re a terrible student” (not true, of course!!).

I look forward to getting my smile back in the next few days. Until then, forgive me while I express my happiness via thumbs up and positive language. And hmm … since people only speak in emoji these days, maybe I should just print some big versions of the textable symbols to express my mood.

Thanks, everyone!


The ONLY problem with Grease

3 Feb

greaseYou should have seen me Sunday night. I was eating pizza and ice cream with seven of my favorite people, watching the live TV broadcast of one of my favorite musicals: “Grease.”

I had a blast, hopelessly devoted to this musical. Grease and I go together, clearly it’s the musical that I want. Hey, there are worse things I could do.

The movie ended, the cast had fun at a carnival, and ahh, sigh of relief. Isn’t it great when your characters have a happy ending and end up together?

But … wait a second. What just happened here?

Conflict: Sandy and Danny love each other, had a great summer together, but back at school they fulfill different high school roles (the cool guy, the goody-two-shoes girl) that can’t go together. Resolution: Sandy changes her appearance and her personality and all is good in the world again.

Wait, what?

Clearly the moral of the story is that if you change your looks, you’ll get the guy. You weren’t good enough before, but in black leather pants, oh baby you’re perfect.

How should the movie have ended, you ask? Well, didn’t we learn in High School Musical that basketball players and math nerds can have meaningful relationships? Be who you are, even if you’re a skater boy who plays the cello! Is there a world in which greaser Danny and poodle skirt Sandy could have ended up together as they were, sans wardrobe changes or personality makeovers?

Maybe those are the kinds of things that only happen in a malt shop in the sky.

Just looking out my window

27 Jan

Even on days when it’s freezing cold, when it seems like summer was a distant memory, when it seems like spring may never come; on the days when nobody can recognize you because of all of your bundled layers; I still think Chicago is the most beautiful place.

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The five books that changed my life

20 Jan

I’d like to use this space to share with you the five books that have changed my life. Please let me know if these books have changed your life, too; and feel free to comment with books that have changed your life!

I’ll share these in the order by which they changed my life.

1. “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell


It’s possible that “The Tipping Point” was the first real non-fiction book I willingly read. The book teaches us how small changes can make a big difference. One of my favorite takeaways from the book is the idea of a “connector.” If you’re planning an event, you don’t need to make 100 phone calls to invite people; instead, call the five “connectors,” the people who have a million friends, and they’ll bring their networks. I use these concepts every day in my work life, volunteer life, and social life, and I’m grateful to this book for piquing my interest in marketing and communications.

You should read this book if … you’re looking for easy fixes to increase your success with friends, business, or volunteering.

2. “Curly Girl: The Handbook” by Lorraine Massey with Michele Bender


Curly girls, make some noise! Throw away your hair straighteners! Let your curls shine! “Curly Girl: The Handbook” is a curly manifesto, encouraging girls (and boys!) with curly hair to wear it proud. In another generation, curly hair was considered unprofessional, Lorraine Massey writes; but today, it’s fun, hip, smart, sexy, and appropriate for the office. This book offers both encouragement for curly girls and step-by-step tips on how to manage, maintain, and enhance curly hair. The advice offered in this book has helped me feel confident with my wavy hair, and since reading the book more than six years ago, I have not once straightened my hair (sorry, Mom!).

You should read this book if … you have curly or wavy hair and need some emotional or shampooical support.

3. “The Spirituality of Welcoming” by Dr. Ron Wolfson


Many of you have heard me discuss this book as the reason I got into my current line of work — synagogue membership and community. Dr. Ron Wolfson writes about the power of creating welcoming spaces and friendly communities. Synagogues (and really, any congregation or organization) can’t just be about a big beautiful building — people must feel comfortable and cared for. Do your synagogues have directional signs? Would a visitor know where to hang her coat? Have visitors’ needs been anticipated? After reading this book, I applied to work at Temple Jeremiah as the membership director and have never looked back. (Side note: When I met Dr. Wolfson a few years after reading this book, I was completely starstruck and felt I was meeting my celebrity idol.)

You should read this book if … you’re involved with welcoming newcomers (and aren’t we all?).

4. “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” by Gary Chapman


Adam recommended that I read this book when we first started dating. This book discusses five different ways of expressing love, and while this book focuses on romantic love, I think it can be applied to friends, family members, and even co-workers. People express love differently and it is important to understand how your partner expresses and receives this love, whether it’s in the form of words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service (like taking out the garbage or doing the dishes), quality time, or gifts. I found this book to be so eye-opening and a fascinating study on relationships.

You should read this book if … you’re in a romantic, friend, work, or family relationship.

5. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo


This is my new Obsession. With a capital O. I never, ever thought that tidying actually mattered all that much — everyone has a room that’s off-limits during dinner parties where you throw all of your stuff into, right? — but boy do I think differently now. In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo writes that you should only keep items that bring you joy, and everything else should be thanked and then discarded. Once you’re left with only joy-sparking items, every item will have a home and should be returned to its home when you’re finished with it. Since I read this book in November, I’ve focused on little else other than tidying using Kondo’s method. The result has been that I’ve donated a dozen bags of clothes, three bags of books, and two bags of DVDs; thrown away another dozen bags of garbage and papers; bought a scanner so I can aim towards a paperless lifestyle; and given each of my items a home. There’s still more work to be done, but our apartment is on its way to being a much happier place.

You should read this book if … your house or apartment isn’t what you want it to be (or if you just have too much stuff).


What books have changed your life? Leave a comment and let us know!

My new favorite salad

13 Jan

Well, friends, I think I’ve finally found a salad that I’ll feel good about:

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(I found it in the deli section at Jewel!)

Shabbat dinner hosts, next time you ask me to bring a salad, I’m bringing this.

Thank goodness the rest of the world is finally figuring out that taffy apples are actually vegetables!

Hawaii honeymoon: Part II

6 Jan

We’re back on the mainland and reminiscing on our fun trip. Here are our highlights, part dos:

Day 6

We flew to the island of Kauai, known as the “Garden Island.” We walked through the small town called Koloa, where we enjoyed seeing chickens walking through the cutesy shops; and then ended the evening by gathering with other hotel guests to watch the sunset.

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Day 7

Waimea Canyon: We drove through the beautiful Waimea Canyon, which is said to be the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. We didn’t have time to hike, but we got to see it from some great lookout points!


Ziplining: We loved experiencing Kauai while dangling from a rope and harness, swinging through the trees.

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New Year’s Eve: They joke that people on Kauai are in bed by 9 p.m., and New Year’s Eve was no exception on this “Kauai-et” island. But we were still able to see some fireworks on a nearby beach after enjoying a lovely dinner.

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Day 8

Helicopter tour: There’s no better way to see Kauai’s beautiful terrain than from above, so we went on a helicopter tour.


But not just any helicopter tour — this one allowed us to land at the site of the famous waterfall from “Jurassic Park.”


When I wasn’t closing my eyes out of shear fear and vertigo, I got to see great views like this:



Days 9-10

We checked into our last hotel of the trip, where we got to see this view from our window:

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So for two days, we relaxed at the beach, just us and our beloved “cock-a-doodle-doo”-ing alarm clocks:

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Day 11

We had brunch in the town of Kapaa and then finished our trip with a (slightly bumpy) boat ride to the Na Pali coast of the island.

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We saw the cutest little dolphins, the size of small puppies.

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The end

The end of our honeymoon and the beginning of a wonderful life of “How may I help you, Mr. and Mrs. Goldfarb?” Those of you at home, thanks for following along.

Hawaii honeymoon: Part I

30 Dec

The newlyweds have arrived in Hawaii and are having even more fun than when the Brady Bunch came here in the 1970s!

We’ve spent the past few days on Maui and will soon be heading to Kauai. We’ll share some of our trip highlights with you.

Day 1

Slappy Cakes: What a fun restaurant idea — literally making your own pancakes! You get your choice of batter flavor (like buttermilk, gluten-free), dozens of add-ins (bananas, chocolate chips), and several toppings (chocolate-macadamia sauce, cinnamon sauce) and then make your pancakes right there on your table’s built-in griddle. No honeymoon would be complete without an opportunity to make pancakes exactly as you want them!


Day 2

Shave ice: It pains me to type “shave ice,” as obviously the grammatically correct wording is “shaved ice,” but journalists also have to honor proper nouns. Maybe when describing this amazingly refreshing dessert, I should write it as “Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave [sic] Ice”? In any case, it’s delicious, especially when you add a scoop of ice cream at the bottom.

Whale watching: We watched for whales, but my theory is that the whales were secretly watching us, too.


Did I mention there’s a rainbow every day in Hawaii?


Day 3

Snorkeling: We found Nemo, the Little Mermaid, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles under the sea!


Luau: It ain’t a Hawaiian vacation without their version of dinner theater!



Day 4

The Road to Hana: Also known as “The Long and Winding Road that Happens to Have Banana Bread.” We stopped and took photos and went on little hikes along this crazy road. I only slipped in the mud and landed on my behind twice; and Adam enjoyed wading through a 125-year-old Chinese irrigation tunnel.





Day 5

Hula Pie: It’s more like a well-organized ice cream sundae, but hey, it’s part of the local cuisine so we had to do it.

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‘Ulalena: We concluded our day with a song and dance production about Hawaii’s history and culture.

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We’re excited for Part II! Aloha for now!



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