random job thoughts

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Japan 035

Three years ago I retired from teaching dance. For 35 years I had owned a dancing school, I was very blessed to spend my “working” career doing something I loved and enjoyed. I also love and enjoy my retired life. On occasion as I watch people do their jobs I think I would like to try that not as a career but for a day or two. Does anyone besides me ever think that?

Here is the list of jobs I would like to try for a day or two:

flight attendant
toll booth collector
the person who directs the planes with the flashlights
registrar of participants at a big event like the Olympics
usher at a Broadway show
fund-raiser for a non-profit
assistant to a party/event planner
TSA agent who checks passports not the one who looks at the x-ray screen
work in an independent book store

A few things I noticed about these jobs:
1. no animals
2. no manual labor
3. inside jobs expect for the flashlight person
4. no food service expect for flight attendant

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Japan 2014 – part 1


When I told my daughter I had been invited to go to Japan again with the Tribute Center, she said “wow, mom! You get your once in a lifetime trip twice.” I was very surprised and pleased to be part of the “3rd International Outreach Program for School Children and Community Survivors of 3/11 Great East Japan Disasters.” It was wonderful to be back in Japan. I felt I was better prepared this time to understand that “none of this is about me.”

The schedule of the trip was similar to last year. To be honest, the schedule is grueling. You are up early, sleeping in a different hotel just about every night, traveling for hours between appointments, you are meeting and interacting with many people and most of the time you are being translated. Even after all of that, I can say it was absolutely the most amazing experience. The country of Japan is beautiful and clean. The Japanese people are gracious, giving and kind. This year’s trip was 12 days instead of 8 so we had time to do some tourist type things which was an added bonus.

Our journey started with a very long flight but thanks to American Airlines we flew business class to Japan. I have been spoilt – lots of leg room, a seat that can go flat, Boise headset, movies, delicious food, hot towels, blanket, pillow. storage space and no one was seating next to me. I don’t think I can ever go back to economy class. 🙂 Fast forward to the flight home that was economy class but I can’t really complain. American Airlines donates the miles for our trip. Thank you, American Airlines.

Our first official function was to attend the International Academic Conference with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Fukushima Medical University (FMU). The Mount Sinai members of our group (2 doctors and 3 medical students) were presenting at this conference. On Saturday, Dr. Craig Katz was presenting about “Displacement Post 3/11:The Anxiety of Feeling Placed”. On Sunday, the Mount Sinai & FMU medical students presented a paper on “Post-Traumatic Stress and Growth in Medical Students after Natural Disasters”. It was very interesting and informative.

On Saturday as we arrived at Fukushima Medical University, one of my fellow docents commented to me whether I thought there would be translation equipment available. I said “I think I am going to need more that Japanese to English translation. I am going to need what are you talking about translation.” Many of the presentations were in English and if not there was translation to English. There were presenters from all over the world and I felt like a little kid, who had been invited to the big kid table.

The part that was a little bizarre to me was hasn’t nuclear energy been around for a long time and now “they” are discussing what to do when things go wrong. It is a good thing they are discussing it and formulating a plan but I thought what other things do we use and there is no plan for when it goes wrong.

Japan 124

Mount Sinai travelers are missing from this photo. They were getting ready to present. More about my Japan trip to follow in next blog or two.


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244Tomorrow morning I travel to Japan as a member of the "3rd International Outreach Program for School Children and Community Survivors of 3/11 Great East Japan Disasters". Amazing!!! Last year I was privileged to represent the 9/11 Tribute Center on the second trip. This trip will be similar as we will visit mental health clinics and temporary housing units, attend Rotary Club dinners/receptions, visit a school for the deaf in Koriyama and have a photo-op at the "Soaring Crane" Memorial in Kaiseizan Park. Even though some of the places we visit will be the same, this won’t be a “repeat” of the last trip. How could it be. It is a year later. Much can and does happen in a year. Things we deem good, things we deem bad and things that seem totally ordinary. I hope to see some of the people I meet last year but I also hope that they are no longer living in temporary housing. I hope those caring for so many people at the mental health clinics have not grown weary. I guess what I hope is that there is HOPE.

Jeanette, fellow Tribute Center traveler and friend, sent me this prayer. It is my prayer for this trip:

Prayer for a Safe Journey

Blessed are You, Lord God, for You have created a wide and wonderful world
in which we can travel.
We ask Your blessing upon us as we are about to leave on this journey.
Be our ever-near companion, our guide of travelers, and spread the road
before us with beauty and adventure.
May all the highways ahead of us be free of harm and evil.
May we be accompanied by your Holy spirit and your angelic messengers, as
were the holy ones of days past.
On this trip may we take with us as part of our traveling equipment a heart
wrapped in wonder with which to rejoice in all that we shall meet.
Along with the clothing of wonder, may be have room in our luggage for a
mystic map by which we can find the invisible meanings of the events of
this journey – of possible disappointments and delays, of possible breakdowns
and rainy day troubles.
Always awake to your Sacred Presence and to Your divine compassionate love,
may we see in all that happens to us, in the beautiful and the bad, the
mystery of Your holy plan.
May your blessing be upon us throughout this trip and bring us home again
in safety and peace.


doesn’t it make you sad?

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001 The other day a friend asked me a question that I have been asked before, “doesn’t doing tours and speaking to school groups make you relive September 11? Doesn’t being at the WTC make you sad?” I responded “No, it makes me feel blessed. I don’t associate the WTC site with Bruce. It is harder to be at his firehouse because that is where I think of him as being. I am tired after a tour but feel that I have accomplished something but mostly I am hungry.” 🙂 It is strange but I don’t picture Bruce being at the WTC site. I know he was there but I don’t try to imagine him there on the fateful day. I do sometimes think that he may have walked down Liberty Street on his way into the South Tower that thought gives me comfort as I walk that same street telling his story.

In further conversation with my friend I shared what does make me sad or allows memories to seep or rush in is the things I hear on the radio or news. The crash of the Malaysian airliner, the anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing, a mudslide in Washington, the death of 2 firefighters in Boston or a police officer in New York give me pause and cause me to pray for the families because on some level the events are a “repeat” of what I have experienced. An event that captures the attention of the nation or even world, a loved one lost but no body, an act of terrorism, a line of duty death, I can identify and so I pray. I pray that their families will have peace and know that there is hope. I pray that people will gather around them as people gathered around me and my girls. I pray that in the not so distant future they will have strength to put one foot in front of other and smile. My heart is sad that another family will know the saddest that I know, that they will have to navigate a journey they never expected to be on. 😦

On another note: when I was in the stall in Ladies Room at the Tribute Center on Monday, the lights suddenly went out and I thought this is not happening, give me a break. Then a voice said “sorry” and lights went back on. Someone had leaned against the light switch. I laughed because I was in fight or flight mode within a split second. No PTSD here. 🙂

New every morning…

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The other morning I was thinking about time and how I view time and I experienced a small “aha!” moment. For years I have held to the theory that time seems to go faster as you get older because 1 year is a smaller part of your entire life. When you are 5 years old, 1 year is 1/5 of the whole but when you are 20 years old 1 year is 1/20. So as I approach a big birthday thoughts of 1 year being 1/60 of the whole seems unfathomable. “Aha” moment was that any single day is even less of the whole. So the fact that I made some less than stellar eating choices the day before was a very tiny part of the whole. Yes, I should make better choices but it was one day out of many so I shouldn’t be discouraged. Later in the week as I was proud of myself for going to the gym I realized the same theory applies – 2 days is a small part but everyday I add is a bigger part of the whole. Each day is a small part of my year and each year is a small part of my life. Small parts matter but sometimes I need to remember that it was one day not a lifetime. And tomorrow Lord willing there will be another day. “The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning; Lord, your loyalty is great. I say to myself, “The Lord is mine, so I hope in him.”