Saturday, June 11, 2016

getting dressed: fashion or style?

When you get dressed, are you trying to follow rules, to conform to an image, or are you engaging in individual self expression?

Fashion is a system of ever changing rules, created to sell clothes, accessories and other products and services (think hair style, makeup, body glitter, self tanner)

Style is about adorning and presenting yourself to the world, also using clothes and accessories, products and services.

Recently, I was congratulated on facebook for being "unique and stylish in a cookie cutter world".

So. there it is  - I am not fashionable, I am STYLISH.  I have never been a rule follower.  I am not a criminal, but I do delight in breaking rules and getting away with it.  Dressing up, for me is a fun, easy way to do that.

In Washington DC, where I live, this is quite extraordinary; DC is famously devoid of personal style. A radio promo recently invited people to listen to a program about why people do not take fashion risks in DC.  What would they be risking? I wondered.  I didn't have time to listen in and find out.

Then, a few days later, I was gently chided (criticized seems too harsh) for wearing a dress covered in clear sequins to speak at a law firm downtown.  Sequins are reserved for after five, I was told by one new friend.  Sequins are not for weeknights, advised another.  Hmmm.  I had felt great standing at the podium in that dress and I had also received compliments from the person in charge of the event.

The same person who complimented my style on facebook also wrote: DC is a very conservative dress environment. It's one of the few places where women still routinely wear hose with skirt suits on even the hottest days.

And then I learned that a fashion blogger on had created a list of things women over 30 should no longer wear.  Another blogger responded with a terrific list of what women over 30 SHOULD wear; each photo had the same caption: "whatever the f#$& she wants".  I saw all the fabulous pictures of women over 30 wearing clothes that clearly made them feel terrific, obviously not following anyone else's rules, and I wanted to cheer.

I'm planning on turning 50 in a few months, and I haven't known how to mark the occasion.  But I have decided today to start sharing what I wear, in hope that I might inspire people to have more fun getting dressed.

One thing I have learned is that not everyone feels the same way about getting dressed.

Many people find it stressful.  Some parent friends of mine tell me their kids can have meltdowns while choosing clothes for school.  Other friends worry about not having the right thing to wear.

I love clothes; I was taught by my mother and her mother to love acquiring them and wearing them, and I pretty much always have*

As you will see, I love color, all of it, including ivory, grey, beige, navy and black (yes, yes. I know, not a color) but also deep pink, bright orange, red and purple.  I tend not to dress in bright green or blue or yellow,  but just because I am not drawn to it.

I also love hats.  I find that I wear a hat at some point during almost every day, if only to cover up the bed head I'd otherwise have while walking the dog each morning, or to protect me from wind or sun.

I once went an entire year without buying a single article of clothing for myself, in part to save money but also to observe the impulse and where it came from.  I am a bargain hunter, but I demand quality.  Consequently, I love to shop for gently worn (or new, with tags) vintage designer clothes, especially in Ohio, where I lived for many years.  Whenever I go back to visit, I make a point of stopping in at my favorite consignment stores.

I wear what makes me feel happy, confident, comfortable...and I find that I get compliments on something I am wearing almost every day.  I have to conclude that the way I dress makes other people happy, too.  I hope that is true for you.

* with this exception: when I have not been happy with the shape of my body, I have not enjoyed getting dressed. When I rapidly gained weight as a troubled eighteen year old, and again, while I was pregnant, dressing up was much less fun than it is now.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

take your child/mom to work day

I wanted to check in really quickly just to say that today - take your child to work day - was GREAT. I didn't buy a yacht, although I wanted to. Isaac and I strolled past several beauties that were for sale, but I am acutely aware that we must watch every dollar in an attempt to save money for summer camp, which is only 2 months away!!! Before lunching in Annapolis, we spent a while with the staff of a dental practice, going over all the ways that doTERRA essential oils can improve the experience of everyone in their office, especially the staff. Isaac was a terrific asset, sharing stories and testimonials and making sure I covered salient points about what makes doTERRA oils unique. Tomorrow, I will accompany Isaac as a chaperone on his class field trip (reportedly the best of the year), but I will need to peel off at lunch time and head to the airport. Saturday will be take your mom to work day. I need my mother to drive me to Boca from Palm Beach Gardens because I do not have a car nor am I renting one this time. So, she will attend my training in the AromaTouch technique and get to see what it is I do when I am working, and hopefully understand why I am so passionate about it. As a full fledged member of the sandwich generation, it is a real treat to have tomorrow, a field trip I am NOT missing, for a change, sandwiched between two other very special days. I feel very fortunate. That is all.

Monday, April 21, 2014


It's okay to cry, and to let others nearby, both young and old, see tears streaming down your cheeks. You don't need to hide your face as you sit in the sanctuary, surrounded by others who have known loss, who understand what it is to grieve. But be careful not to let your tears fall onto the thin paper page of the prayer book. If one of them does, the paper will pucker and thus be forevermore dimpled, a memorial created by a single tear that streamed from your heart, from the depths of your soul, out of your eye, to trace a rivulet down your cheek, to splash a puddle, the smallest ocean of grief, quietly upon it, leaving its mark, permanent proof that the letters printed there, the words of the prayer you just read, were effective at reaching into a heart, whispering into a soul, resonating at your very core. Take a breath. Take another. There. Relax, breathe, you are safe; all is well; you are not alone. You hold a book that is a living thing, about as much as the scrolls that were just held aloft on the bimah. This little volume connects you to your community, to your past, your ancestors, to those who held it before you and those who will hold it tomorrow, next week, next year. The brass plaques on the wall are memorials, but so too is this book. Inside it, on the page marked Yizkor, is the smear of a tear wiped in vain by a slightly soiled hand. Just as the tears streaming down a cheek are proof that a person has a soul, so is a smear proof of a book's humanity. I have damaged the siddur, but nothing human lasts forever. Certainly none of us remains alive without acquiring a blemish, without sustaining an injury, without manifesting signs of aging and decay. As much as tears are proof that we have a soul, the unwelcome scars ands wrinkles that permanently alter us are signs of our humanity. Sorry, where was I going with this? Oh, yes, tears. It's okay to cry.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Atrophy, at a glance

I suddenly realized, yesterday, that I have let myself go, in a very specific way that had utterly escaped my attention. The background for what happened is this: I currently live in a house essentially without mirrors. We have small mirrored cabinets in the bathrooms, so I can watch myself think as I brush my teeth, but there is not a single spot where I can get the whole impact of myself such as the world does when I am out and about. On moving day, back in June, I gave away my scale to a friend who stopped by during the final hours of packing, so I have also not weighed myself since moving to this house. I have been held accountable only by my clothes, occasional photographs, the mirrored wall in the Bikram yoga studio, and randomly occurring glances and comments. It's a big change, having neither a three digit number or a reflected image to help me gauge how I am doing each day. But I walk the dog daily, or hike through airport terminals, and I try to get to yoga class on a regular basis. The waistbands of my clothes are tighter and then looser, then a bit tighter again, back and forth, within a moderately fluctuating range that I consider normal and healthy. As a person recovering (for the rest of my life) from an eating disorder, I've been very grateful to feel strong, flexible and healthy and I have tried to focus on all the wonderful things I am able to do with my body and not what it looks like or what it might weigh. So yesterday, I show up to teach the AromaTouch technique to a room full of women and I'm confronted by a solid wall of mirrors, illuminated by florescent bulbs, no less, and I avoid my reflected image, not intentionally, but just because I want to focus on my students. Until, at one point, I face the mirror to demonstrate part of the technique to three students standing behind me, because for a confused moment I think that by facing the mirror, I will give them a better chance to see both sides of me at once. (Of course, they have been seeing both sides of me all day long, but I have been avoiding the mirror, and with it, any awareness that I have a reflection) Now, I lift my hands high in the air to simulate reaching for the base of the spine, and then, I lower them slowly, my arms bending at the elbows as I do so. What I see in the mirror as I do this shocks and appalls me. There, on the underside of my upper arms are large, soft flaps of flesh swinging loose below the bone. I have to demonstrate this motion two more times, and as I do so, briefly overcome by the trauma of my soft, dare I say flabby, arms, I try to focus my gaze on anything other than that particular anatomical feature. The one glance was enough information to last a lifetime; I never want to see that much atrophy in a mirror again. More background: A Mother's day concert, two years ago: I finish playing music in a chamber ensemble, put my instrument away and come out to meet the audience at a small reception in the lobby of the church where we have just performed. Several older women approach me eagerly and ask about my toned, shapely, muscular arms. How do I get them to look like that? They simply must know. At the time, I was disappointed that they did not comment on the music, but now, I miss having arms worthy of admiration. Today, as much as I miss playing chamber music, I really just want my muscle tone back. My eldest son paid me a compliment, not too long ago, by asking what exercises he could do to improve the definition in his upper arms, and when we were together again, just weeks later, I could tell that he had taken my advice. When we saw Pippin on Broadway for his most recent birthday, he said, about the lead actor "Wow, Patina Miller has the most amazing arms. Mom had arms like that, not too long ago." My arms were never that luscious shade of brown, I think, but other than that, gosh, perhaps he is right. When was that? I wonder. And exactly when did they go away? Macho Mommy muscles, the boys used to say, referring to my arms. I haven't heard that in a while, but still, I was genuinely shocked yesterday to see what has happened from the extended cessation of downward dog, handstand, and forte tremolo. I mostly blame Bikram for this state of atrophy, or rather, I blame myself for not noticing that my arms haven't done any weight bearing exercise since I abandoned my vinyasa practice in favor of the purifying sweat room that is the Bikram studio. But not playing the violin much lately hasn't helped either. My bowing arm, at least, got a daily workout, when I practiced, when I had something to prepare for. But sadly, I have left my piano trio back in Cincinnati, along with my scale and all those mirrors. So today, I rise with the first light, awakened by the pleading meow of my hungry cat. I go downstairs to feed both pets, and then, rather than sitting at the computer to check my email and Facebook, I descend another level to the basement to find the free weights and do some tricep extensions, some bicep curls, a few other exercises for my arms. When I grow tired of this, I do a handstand, resting the toes of one foot against a beam in the low ceiling of my basement, and hold this pose for a count of 20 before letting my legs drop back to the ground. I'm going to get my macho Mommy muscles back. Just a little bit of work, every day, the reverse of how I let them go. I don't need a mirror. I have a feeling someone will let me know when they're back. I'm not trying to be skinny. I truly believe that I have sworn off that compulsion for life. But I do want to be healthy, and part of that means being fit and strong. As a natural wellness advocate, I care about maintaining good muscle tone just as much as I care about being clean and well groomed, if not more so. Meanwhile, let me know if you hear of someone looking for a good, amateur violinist in the DC area. I need to rosin up my bow.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Power of Plant Medicine meets the Power of Touch - the AromaTouch technique

I am teaching something today that I wish you could be present to learn, but I am glad that at least I can tell you about it here. It is called the AromaTouch Technique and over the last year and a half, it has become my favorite way to empower others to improve their health and quality of life. I cannot properly put into words how grateful I feel to have been given the opportunity to share this healing practice with others. One of the things that is unique about AromaTouch is that, unlike massage, which can be taxing to the practitioner, the technique is actually pleasant and beneficial to the person who gives it. When massage therapists of a certain age discover AromaTouch, they rejoice; not only do they not hurt after a session, but they feel emotionally uplifted and physically relaxed. Doctors and nurses love it because they can achieve a positive clinical outcome quickly and naturally, without drugs or surgery. Clients and patients may experience immediate restoration of range of motion, reduction in pain and more. They describe their feeling afterwards as "light and heavy at the same time" "clean and refreshed" and say "massage feels like it's working on the outside but this works on the inside." When I first discovered doTERRA essential oils, I was working as a reiki energy healer, and my dental hygienist thought to put me in touch with her aunt, Priscilla, a nurse who loves doTERRA essential oils and had made a business of sharing them in her spare time. I soon received a set of sample vials of the oils to use on my clients. I immediately fell in love with the extraordinary purity and potency of the oils and the benefits they delivered for my clients, myself, my husband and my kids; I began to read and learn about the company and its mission. As I did my research, it was the AromaTouch technique that intrigued me the most. I told Priscilla that I wanted to learn the technique so that I could share it with my clients. I asked when I should plan to go to Utah to learn from Dr. Hill, doTERRA's chief medical officer, who had developed the technique. Miraculously, Priscilla announced that she had just been deputized by Dr. Hill as one of several instructors trained to certify others as practitioners of the technique. Although we had not yet met, Priscilla offered to conduct a certification training in my living room if I could gather a dozen or so folks who also wanted to learn. I posted what I knew about AromaTouch on Facebook, basically, that it is a clinical application of essential oils designed to enhance health well being, and the response was rapid and strong. I quickly filled the room with other like minded individuals: a couple of massage therapists, an esthetician, a personal trainer, a life coach, a nurse, a healing touch practitioner, and a mother of teenaged athletes, and my own teenage son. We were all excited to learn something new, to acquire a natural way to help the people we care about. I didn't have any idea how much my life was about to change. Let me pause for a moment and explain: The AromaTouch technique has three fundamental objectives. It offers even a novice essential oil enthusiast a way to use oils effectively and appropriately to enhance quality of life. It addresses known constant disturbances to overall health and well being: stress, toxic insult, inflammation and autonomic imbalance. Third, it helps re-establish a state of homeostasis within the body. Without overloading you with too much of the science behind it, let me just say that it based on a whole lot of study of the neuroendocrine, nervous and endocrine systems, as well as the hypothalmus, which connects these last two systems. Walter Bradford Cannon, a Harvard physiologist and neurologist who dedicated his career to understand the autonomic nervous system, suggested the term homeostasis to describe a state of balanced and effective activity that promotes long term health. When homeostasis is achieved, we are able to react more healthfully both to emotional and physical stressors. What AromaTouch has meant for me, so far, is this: (1) I have a safe, effective way to make people feel better, to help them with chronic fatigue, chronic pain, chronic stress, even with grief and depression. (2) As a regular host of AromaTouch certification trainings (Priscilla would return to my spacious living room each month for the next six months, until I moved from our sprawling ranch in Ohio to a tiny city house just outside Washington DC), I was filled with joy each time a set of healers would leave my home armed with this new way to help the people they meet. I had fallen in love. (3) I set a goal for myself: to become one of Dr. Hills' deputies. Last month, I achieved this goal. I achieved Gold rank in doTERRA, which entitled me to spend a weekend learning with Dr. Hill in Columbus, Ohio, and I am now one of 32 newly minted trainers in the AromaTouch technique. (4) I am now the only trainer in the state of Maryland able to offer certification training in the AromaTouch technique. I also travel to teach the technique, as Priscilla did for me, when I first reached out to her. Earlier this month, I returned to Ohio to train a new group of people in Cincinnati in the technique and I am receiving feedback that they are already busy changing the lives of the people with whom they've shared it. Next weekend, I will visit my mother in South Florida and while I am there, I will train another group of folks in Boca Raton. And right now, I'm going to have breakfast with my family and then, pack up my doTERRA oils and go teach AromaTouch just a little way up the road in Rockville, Maryland.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

a time to dance

Dancing is good medicine. Powerfully good. I went to bed feeling foolish, angry and misunderstood last night, and woke up with an emotional hangover. I get in the bath and add a few drops of frankincense to the hot water for a restorative soak, but before I know it, I find myself surrounded by unhappy people. One who hasn't slept well, another who doesn't want to face his day. Minutes later, breakfast dishes are cleared, lunches are packed, and I am walking to school with my youngest son, who has video club on Wednesday morning. I asked him where the club is in the video making process, and he says they are about to begin filming. "Great!" I say, feeling anything but. I think about the fact that the video club members are lip syncing Pharrell Williams' ubiquitous anthem to being in a good mood, Happy. As we continue to walk, I recite the first lyric "It might seem crazy what I'm 'bout to say" My son replies "Sunshine, she's here, you can take a break. I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space. Oh, and I think it's about his mom, not his girlfriend" he says. "Really?" I say, "Why's that?" "Because...the next word he says is 'Momma.'" I am silent, but I feel a small spark of happiness ignite within me, and then a small smile transforming my face. "What do you think about dancing to that song on the way to school tomorrow?" I suddenly ask. It's too late for us to do it today, we agree, but I resolve to program my iPhone to remind me at 7:45 to cue the song so that we can dance-walk to it on our way to school tomorrow morning. We are happy with our resolution. We smile in anticipation of making ourselves happier, and of sharing that increased happiness, together. We hug goodbye at the school door, which always makes us feel better, and as I walk away, I take my iPhone out of my coat pocket and glance at the screen. Just one minute earlier, a text was sent by my eldest son, who's in college in NYC, about four hours away. He woke up feeling less than happy this morning, too. He writes "I wish I could just have a hug." I feel a pang - sad that he is not closer, sad that he can't have a hug from me now like his little brother just had. I think of how much I could use another hug, too, and I call him up. I tell him about my morning and about his brother's and my new resolution to start dance walking to school, beginning tomorrow. "But what about today?" he asks. It's a good question. The day is waiting for us; there is still time to reboot. "I don't know." I say. Then I tell him about a study I read about in last Sunday's New York Time. Evidently, Botox TM injections, by preventing depressed people from frowning, brought significant relief to 52% of the subjects who participated. It's really powerful to realize that when we do certain things, we really do feel happier. And it's sad to realize that we have this perverse tendency sometimes, not to choose to do these "happy-making" things when we are in a bad mood; rather, we may choose to sulk, to wallow in our bad mood, to bring others down. It's those times when we most need to hug someone, to smile, to dance, but we don't always make that choice. I wish that I always would. "Okay," I tell him. "I'm walking into the house right now. I'm going to hang up and play the song and dance along. Will you do it, too? It will be like we are dancing together!" He promises that he will, and I feel something inside me start dancing even before I hang up the phone. My soul WANTS to be happy. "Okay, so, I'm sitting on the kitchen counter right now and I find I'm wiggling a little bit, just knowing that I'm about to do this." I tell him, and he laughs. "Are you ready?" "Yes." "Let's go!" We hang up and I pull up the music video on my phone. The lyrics are uplifting, affirming. The song commands you to clap your hands and once you do, the rest of your body cannot help but join in. Singing the words, obediently clapping, dancing because I solemnly promised to, I am caught up in the affirmation of indomitable joy. My dog reclines on the kitchen floor, looking up, watching my every move, wagging her tail to the rhythm, a small, happy floor dance. And then, there's the bridge - "can't nothing bring me down", repeated over and over, and I sing along until I realize it's true. I am not down anymore. I love this silly little dance I'm doing, and I am delighted to discover that it can really be just this easy to resurrect my joy. I take another look at my phone and there's another text from my son in New York. "It's working!!" it says and below the words is a smiley face, the one with an open mouth, its bright white upper uni-tooth peeking through. A dance a day keeps the blues away. Take two and text me in the morning :-D

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Traveling with PACS - the Night Bus to PEK

The most recent time I chanted the shechechiyanu prayer, it nearly turned out to be my last. If you are not familiar with it, the shechechiyanu is a Hebrew prayer that you can say pretty much any time the spirit moves you, as it is not specific to any one occasion, but rather. simply designed to thank God for sustaining you to reach a special moment you wish to make even more holy or celebratory by reciting a blessing.

On the last night of Hannukah 5772, I decided to tack this blessing onto the tail end of two other holiday specific blessings. It just felt right. For many of us on the PACS/NYS China tour, it was the first and only time we could celebrate Hannukah this year, so busy had we been during the past week what with packing and performing and racing back and forth all over China.
Our tour's advance team had earlier examined the sleeper buses upon which we were supposed to spend the night curled up and resting on our way to the Beijing airport; they were pronounced unacceptable for our purposes. Instead, the orchestra members were being distributed among three traditional coaches, where we would each have two adjacent seats in which to spend the next 6 hours or so traveling to catch a flight to our next concert venue. Even though many of us knew it was unlikely we would get a good night's sleep on any sort of bus, we were in fairly good spirits.

Crazy as it was, day to day, we appreciated that we were in the middle of a unique adventure, giving 9 concerts all across China in the space of two weeks with an orchestra many of us had just joined days before. We were, for the most part, doing a pretty great job of staying positive and in good humor despite general exhaustion and scattered illness. Some of us had dressed for camping in the frozen tundra, wearing pajamas, warm blankets and coats, eye shields and ear plugs, and were determined to sleep on the road, while others of us were resigned to the fact that we were unlikely to sleep very much until we got to the airport and/or boarded the airplane, later in the day. I was among the latter group, as I'd already had enough experience folding myself into similar bus seats on this tour as to know with almost complete certainly that it would be too tight a squeeze to be conducive to sleeping. Additionally, we soon realized that, on our particular vehicle at least, the rear half of the interior space was entirely without heat. Consequently, if a person in the back were small enough to curl up and find either a horizontal or diagonal position in which to rest, they would soon find that they were freezing their ass off.

Before we reached that point of the evening however, it was time for a very short hannukah party. Once we reached the highway, I crept down the aisle toward the back of the bus, set the brass hannukiah on the floor and being as careful as I could not to set off a smoke alarm in the process, used a match to melt eight candles into the little brass cups at the top of the menorah's eight arms, then passed the shammas candle among the several Jewish orchestra members who had come to huddle together at the back of the bus for this occasion.

We chanted the two candle lighting blessings and then I added the shechechiyanu and some others sang along. Once the candles were all lit, some people took pictures, we smiled at each other briefly in the candle light and then the candles were promptly extinguished. Surely it was the shortest hannukah celebration any of us had ever had, but still, it seemed to make people happy. Next, we passed around a bag of hannukah gelt, milk chocolate coins wrapped in golden foil. With that little bit of sweetness melting in our mouths, we got back to the business of getting comfortable for the ride to PEK, the Beijing airport.

A kind and chivalrous trombone player and gentleman, realizing that his seats had heat and mine had none, invited me to share the pair that had been allotted to him. After a few repetitions of me refusing and him insisting, I found myself awkwardly settled beside him, uncomfortably aware that I was surely making him less comfortable by my presence. I knew it was less likely, when next he turned back to the folded blanket that was serving as both pillow and insulation and curled to face the window, that he would be able to sleep, whereas I was pretty sure I wasn't going to sleep under any circumstances.

Very soon, I became deliriously tired, so that I began to imagine I was on the verge of perceiving at a very profound level the true nature of life, humanity and our role in the universe. I decided that the best way to receive such a valuable insight would be in a position involving more ample leg room. Accordingly, I stood up and tiptoed to the front of the bus and took a seat on the floor, with my legs dangling freely down toward the driver's seat and the top of the stairs. I rested my left cheek on my left arm, which in turn lay across my legs and then gazed up through the wide windshield into the night sky.

At first, I thought perhaps it was an optical illusion, but before long I realized that not only was our bus really traveling right down the center line between the two lanes of highway, but also swerving from one side of that line to the other and back again.

Alarmed, I glanced at the driver and observed him massaging the entire circumference of his head. At first I felt sheepish for watching him, the way I sometimes do when my cat is lying in the sun, licking his entire self clean and thinking he is alone. But in the next moment I realized that rather than indulging in a private pleasure, the driver was trying to create enough friction by rubbing his face and scalp so as to wake himself up. His head was nodding toward his chest, his eyelids drooping like two lead curtains over his eyes.

With a rush of adrenalin, I imagined us one big swerve away from crashing over the guardrail to a fiery death. I'm not afraid to die, but I had promised my inlaws when I left that they would only have to keep our children for two and a half weeks, and besides, there were another 30 passengers to consider, in addition to the driver himself. I decided that I was sleepless in precisely the right place at the right time, and so I stepped down next to the driver and lacking any Chinese vocabulary, waved hello. He in turn gestured to the folded jump seat commonly used by tour guides, clearly inviting me to sit in it. I accepted his invitation, telling myself that I would somehow find a way to keep him awake for the next 4 hours and we would all be fine. When, in the next moment, he reached for a cigarette, our brief friendship came to an abrupt end.

I signaled to him that smoking was NOT OKAY, and then I poked Paul, who was sleeping right behind the driver's seat, trying in vain to wake him up.

Next, I poked David Bernard, our music director and mastermind of this crazy tour, somewhat more vigorously than I had poked Paul, and when he opened one eye, I said something like "Help! the bus driver is falling asleep and I don't know what to do!" David woke up fast and immediately roused Jong, our translator, urging him to have the driver extinguish his cigarette, open the window and, failing that, to pull over and do jumping jacks, or drink some coffee. According to David's GPS we were about 3 1/2 hours from reaching our destination, the largest airport in all of China. Soon the driver did pull off to the shoulder of the highway, but rather than exercise or find a cup of joe, he lit up another cigarette for what would be the first of several face to face, roadside conferences held among the drivers to discuss the route to the airport. Evidently, this team of bus driving professionals had neither a clear idea how to get to the largest airport in China, nor any communication technology to enable them to confer with each other while operating their respective vehicles. Somehow I got wind of the fact that there were 4 drivers in the team and I requested through Jong that a better rested one of them be sent to our bus to relieve our exhausted driver, but the translated and untrue response we got back was that we had four vehicles in our entourage, so that was not possible. We were so tired and confused that for the moment we accepted the lie and returned to the matter of helping them find the route to the airport. It was absurd to be sure, and of course David found it baffling and infuriating that they had taken the wrong route and were now further away from the airport than they had been at least half an hour earlier when he had had first consulted the map on his iPhone, but I was frankly relieved because the sun was coming up and it seemed we were no longer on the verge of perishing. All of which seemed more important at that moment - shechechiyanu - than whether we would get to the airport in time to make a flight that would take us to play a concert on little to no sleep. Which we did anyway, and did well - yet another Hannukah miracle.