Sunday, May 1, 2022

...The Person in the Old Headshot


There’s this thing going on in social media where people are posting their old headshots. 

Me, I jumped right on that bandwagon, posting one of mine from the 90’s. It’s a younger, skinnier, flawless-skinned version of me. And it has probably received the most “likes” of anything I’ve ever posted.

 

I could have left it at that and walked away with a win. But nooo. I had to comment on someone else’s headshot, someone I didn’t know when his photos were taken, someone whom I would not have recognized if I saw him walk right in front of me. 

 

I said, “Who is that person?” about his headshot.

 

That, of course, got me thinking – who was the person in my photo?

 

Who was she, and what would I want to tell her? What do I wish she had known? 

 

There’s the obvious - “buy stock in Apple,” but I’m not really talking about that kind of thing here. I’m talking about what would have made a difference in my trajectory, in the joy I experienced along the way, in my quality of life. 

 

For starters, I would tell that Ilene that she was a stone cold fox and to take that out for a spin and have a little fun with it. 

 

I wish that Ilene had an ounce of the self-approval that today’s version has. She might’ve sauntered.

 

I would tell that younger version of me that she was of equal value to any person she admired for any reason and there was nothing she could do to lessen that.

 

I wish the woman in that old headshot knew that speaking up wasn’t optional and that she was a leader, reluctant or otherwise.

 

I wish old headshot Ilene wasn’t so afraid to be seen.


I would tell her to laugh more. It’s good for your health.

 

I would let her know that time goes by exponentially faster with every passing year, and that most of what we fret about is of little consequence. 

 

I would tell old headshot version of Ilene to have the difficult, pointed conversations, no matter how uncomfortable, because they grow relationships. I would tell her that vulnerability is a strength and a gift to those who receive it. 

 

I would thank old headshot Ilene for surviving life with optimism and hope and a tireless belief in possibilities she could see no evidence of manifesting most of the time. 

 

I would love to tell the old version of me some of the outrageous and amazing things we were gonna do together. 

 

The Ilene in that picture dared to dream and dip a toe in the raging waters of a universe she feared more than trusted, but still, she did it.

 

I would tell old headshot version of Ilene that she’d look at that photo one day and smile, with a heart full of gratitude for miles traveled and lessons learned.

 

Still, the Apple thing is kind of a bummer…

Sunday, April 24, 2022

A Barbra Streisand Birthday Blog!

Today, I’ve been pondering why I’m grateful to Barbra Streisand.

 

Historically, when I’ve written about anyone for his or her birthday, it’s been someone I’ve known personally. Not this time.

 

I don’t know Barbra Streisand personally. I’ve never met her. In fact, to my knowledge, I have only been in the same place at the same time with her once, in 1994, at Madison Square Garden, when I sat in the highest balcony to hear her. 

 

She isn’t someone whose picture hung on my wall in a passing adolescent phase. But she is someone whose voice and choices shaped the trajectory of my life, and whose example as a woman in the music and movie business, as well as an activist and philanthropist have paved the way for me and, frankly, for every other woman since. 

 

So today, on her 80th birthday, I want to say “thank you” from this particular songwriter and activist.

 

Hers was the voice that inspired me to write, to become a professional songwriter. Hers is the voice indelibly etched in my mind, the one song cut I still yearn for, and the yardstick by which I have measured both singers and songs.

 

I don’t recall a time before her voice reverberated through my home. My mother was a fan, and I am a year older than her son, Jason. So I was learning from infancy both what great singing was, yes, but also what great songwriting was. I don’t know of any other kid in single digits who read liner notes or aspired to be a member of ASCAP. 

 

My tastes and influences were formed before the era where genres of music were stringently separated. Musical theater and pop songs coexisted on the same album and charts, so in my mind, it was all one big, glorious thing – music. 

 

I can’t say that I have always had an easy go of the music business, but I distinctly remember thinking of Ms. Streisand when I was running a recording session in Nashville with a bunch of guys who were rolling their eyes and pushing back. I remembered a speech she gave to Women in Film, where she said:

 

“A man is commanding, a woman is demanding.

A man is forceful, a woman is pushy. 

He’s assertive, she’s aggressive. 

He strategizes, she manipulates.

He shows leadership, she’s controlling.

He’s committed, she’s obsessed.

He’s persevering, she’s relentless.

He sticks to his guns, she’s stubborn.

If a man wants to get it right, he’s looked up to and respected.

If a woman wants to get it right, she’s difficult and impossible.”

 

Until you’re the person experiencing that firsthand, you cannot appreciate the veracity of it. I can’t say that my job was made easier, but there was something inspiring about knowing that someone else had called it out, named it, and moved forward in spite of it, that made me able to move forward, too.

 

And that brings me to what we use our voice and platform for. Artists are criticized for using their celebrity for things outside the arts. And I’d like to thank every damn one of them who does it, especially Barbra.

 

Our time on this earth is brief, and if you are one of the fortunate few, who have an opportunity to reach and influence people or raise money to save this planet and the people on it, then I say have at it, it is incumbent upon you, make a difference, be the change.

 

Whether it’s been standing outside a congressman’s office with a bullhorn and a news crew to get universal healthcare passed, or live streaming concerts to raise money for humanitarian aid in the Ukraine, I stand on the shoulders of people like Barbra, who aren’t afraid to take a stand and do what they can with what they have from where they are. For that, I will be forever grateful.

 

As for the elusive song cut, I still hold out hope. Not because I’m delusional about statistical likelihoods, but because I believe there is still something of value that needs to be said, that can best be said by the sum of the parts.

 

So Barbra, if you’re reading this – I wish you many more happy, healthy, joy-filled years…and thank you.

 

Love,

Ilene




Sunday, February 13, 2022

My Annual Super Bowl Blog!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I do an annual Super Bowl blog, dedicated to this one day a year when America, at its finest, exhibits socially acceptable tribalism while gorging itself on obscene amounts of salty, processed, and frequently deep-fried foods. God bless America.

 

I’m not one to pooh-pooh how anyone makes an honest living, but I really think there has got to be a better way than jumping on each other until you’ve got traumatic brain injury. 

 

I’ve been schooled by fans of the sport that there is, in fact, strategy involved. Teamwork. Camaraderie. Some form of ingenuity. 

 

My question is, with all that strategy and ingenuity, is there any play that doesn’t end up with men piled on top of each other? No? I rest my case.

 

This year, I’m a little sentimental about the event, largely because Joe Namath, the one name in football that I unequivocally know, has been doing commercials for Medicare. Medicare. Is that what it’s come to?

 

I saw the Manning brothers on TV recently. I’m not really sure if my knowledge of them is because of their past football prowess or because they have a good agent.

 

You’ll be pleased to know that I actually googled who is playing in the Super Bowl today. Yes, I’ve managed to circumvent that information for an entire football season, but now I know - Rams and Bengals. 

 

More important than the teams and who is playing in the halftime show, I would like to talk about the one lasting, greatest legacy that the Super Bowl has ever given us, and that is Whitney Houston’s version of the The Star Spangled Banner. 

 

For those of you old enough to remember it, you know that her rendition has outlasted our memory of who actually played that year. And for those of you whippersnappers who are not old enough to know, Whitney is the only artist in history to make The Star Spangled Banner a top ten single in Billboard’s Hot 100. Yes, people, myself included, bought a cassette tape single of our national anthem and actually rode around listening to it. 

 

I mention this trivia, because two days ago marked the 10-year anniversary of Whitney’s death, and I thought it only appropriate. Also, I hate football.

 

So what will I be doing while most of America is watching the game tonight? I plan on trying to catch up on a few of the Winter Olympic events I’ve missed. I love all the winter sports, but figure skating has been my favorite thing to watch since early childhood.

 

Oooh, speaking of which, there’s a great documentary out on Public Television about Randy Gardner. It’s called Go Figure and it is chock full of stunning skating. If you are a fan of the sport at all, you must see it.

 

See that - I can talk about sports…or at least figure skating.

 

Meanwhile, I’ll be listening to Whitney today, hoping she found the peace she never knew while she was here.

 

Whatever your Super Bowl Sunday activities might be, I hope you stay safe, healthy, and enjoy them.

 

Until next year…Happy Super Bowl!


Whitney Houston Star Spangled Banner



Thursday, November 25, 2021

Good Stewards, a Thanksgiving Blog for 2021



May we be good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given.

 

That’s the sentence that popped into my head just now. It stopped me in my tracks and grabbed my attention, like someone tapping me on the shoulder; only in this case, I think it was the Great Someone tapping me on the shoulder.

 

I’m mulling over what it means to be a good steward, and what constitutes a gift, and why that specific verbiage. So this blog is being written in real time, after a long absence and frankly, more than a modicum of avoidance. 

 

The truth is I have two responses to the question, “How are you?” 

 

One is a slight hesitation while I imperceptibly contemplate a) if you are just being polite in asking, b) if you warrant the length of the real answer to that question, and c) what I want to speak into the Universe, because words have the power to create and recreate what we say.

 

The other response is to burst into tears. 

 

In a world that frequents the expressions “man up,” “put on your big girl pants,” and “get over it,” my admission might be frowned upon. And when I consider all that I have and am grateful for, and how good I have it compared to most in the world, my troubles are few, indeed. 

 

But few isn’t none. And pain is pain, no matter the person or their station in life or how they look to the world on the outside. 

 

So I want to talk about what I’m thankful for differently this year, with greater depth, and maybe some of it will resonate with you, too…

 

I’m thankful to be alive. I am aware that it is a gift to open my eyes each morning, and every moment is a choice point of what I am going to create with the day I’ve been granted.

 

I am thankful for my father still being here. It is an excruciating honor to be with someone I love at the end of his time here, but oh, what a gift it is, too. I never forget to revel in the joy of our lighter moments, and try to breathe through the harder ones that remind me that the clock is ticking.

 

I am thankful for my family, near, far, here, and gone. Since last November, I have lost an aunt, uncle, and four cousins. That’s a lot to take in. And Covid made funeral attendance and the proper grieving process impossible. I know I speak for an entire world that suffered unfathomable loss in isolation when I say that it prolongs the loss in ways we cannot measure. 

 

I am thankful for community and relationships that were forged in the unlikeliest of ways – virtually. I have made new friends, deepened relationships with old ones, and stayed connected during this period of disconnection. So huge kudos to the book of faces, the zoom, and the StageIt, my concert platform of choice.

 

Speaking of StageIt, I am thankful for the gift of music – both the music I get to make for and with others, as well as the music I get to be the benefactor of. 

 

Nothing has made me a bigger fan than people whose work has given me solace and whose energy, even virtually, was that of kindness. I’m talking about you, Gary, Georgia, and MBNation.

 

Being a caregiver to someone you love isn’t easy. It takes effort to carve out time that’s your own and ways to nourish your soul and rest your body. Though it might not have started out that way initially, the Wednesday night Pajama Party with Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr fast became the “me time” I cherished and looked forward to all week.

 

For 50 blissful minutes, there was beautiful music, laughter, and a community that began to build. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and yes, losses were shared. Stranger cared about stranger, and little by little, we weren’t strangers, we were just friends who had never met. 

 

These concerts paralleled my own monthly ones. And soon, there was overlap in audience. I can only hope that people who need it get the same support from my shows as I get from Gary and Georgia’s.

 

I am thankful for my niece, Samantha, who grows into a more amazing person with every passing day. This kid makes me have hope for the future of the world, that it will be a more loving and inclusive place for everyone. 


I am grateful for LA traffic. That's right, you heard me. My brother always calls on his way to work, and thanks to LA traffic, we have had some wonderful and lengthy conversation about all the taboo subjects, mainly politics, religion and where the best deli sandwich can be found. It's been a gift, truly.


I am grateful for my Inspire Project bandmates, Tanya and Lorraine. One of the happier highlights this past year was our unexpected sleepover because tornados descended upon our area after practice ended. For all our rehearsals that became lengthy discussions about life and art and what we want to do with ours, I am profoundly grateful.

 

I am grateful that I look for and find the gift in every situation and relationship. It’s easy to see the gift in someone’s presence, but not always so easy to find it in their absence. Lately, I’ve been realizing that there is a gift in both. Not everyone is meant to stay.

 

I am grateful for inspiration. I can turn just about anything into a song – maybe not a great song, but a catchy confection nonetheless. I have started having fun with that. I know, took me a minute, but I’m onboard now.

 

I am grateful for friends who walk this life with me, who keep me sane, grounded, and laughing most of the time. 

 

Lastly, for this Thanksgiving blog, I am thankful for the courage to be vulnerable. I believe it is a gift that grants the recipient of our vulnerability permission to be the same.

 

Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with me. 

 

May we all be good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, August 16, 2021

A Birthday Blog for 2021!



Every year, for the past decade or so, I have written a blog on my birthday, pausing to reflect on the past year of my life and contemplating the year ahead and what I intend for it. 

 

This year, I feel like I’m in limbo, not because I don’t have that on which to reflect, but because I feel incapable of planning a future in a world that is so uncertain and unfamiliar. 

 

So I’m doing the most logical thing one can do in such a situation – I’m writing a musical. Nothing says irreversible demise of the planet like bursting into song and dance…or flames, as the case may be. 

 

Climate Change – The Musical.

 

I jest. My show has nothing to do with climate change, although, now that I think about it, it could totally work.

 

I did not start lockdown thinking I would be writing a show. I think, like most of us, I began lockdown merely hoping not to die from Covid. So far, so good on that front.

 

So here I am, one year older, and closer to the end of my first draft than the beginning, fully embracing the fact that nothing has come as naturally or as easily to me as writing show tunes. And for that, I have my parents to thank. 

 

I think my mother was playing the cast recording of Funny Girl while I was in utero and for sure, my father’s love of Man of La Mancha set me on a life path of tilting at windmills long before I even knew what that meant. 

 

This past year has been one of redefining myself, of exploring and learning new things and being willing to let go of previously held images and versions of myself.

 

While hibernating, I’ve remained woefully ignorant about shows to binge-watch, but I have finished crafting a course on self-publishing, started writing my next book, done monthly concerts on StageIt, begun to learn guitar, and immersed myself in a new software to sell all manner of my work online. 

 

For those of you who don’t know me well, I am also the 24/7 caregiver for my 92 year old father. That is my primary job and focus now. Up until a little over a year ago, he was doing incredibly well, but then things took a turn for the worse, from which they have not and will not likely fully recover. 

 

While it is an immense privilege to be with my father during this time in his life, it is also an excruciating journey, rich in moments of beauty and gratitude and heartbreaking in the certainty of future solitude. One day, I will have all the time in the world and that freedom will be agonizing. 

 

So in an effort to find balance, those other projects keep me sane, productive and moving forward, while still in my house. 

 

The year ahead is uncertain for all of us. No one knows the path this virus will take and how it will impact us. So I revel in what beauty there is in any given moment, on any give day. I savor the time spent with my father and with close friends.

 

Our time here is valuable, priceless, and brief. And I am so grateful that you chose to spend some of yours with me. 

 

In the spirit of a true birthday celebration, please feel free to eat some cake, celebrate the moment, and occasionally burst into song and dance.

 

Peace and blessings to you always,

Ilene

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Redemption and Resurrection in 2021

Every year, I write a blog during the Passover/Easter week about redemption and resurrection. This year, in particular, I feel like I myself need to reflect on it more than ever. 

 

On Passover, we celebrate going from slavery to redemption as a people, but in order to do that, at least biblically speaking, we had to accept God in such a way that we would agree to be obedient to His set of rules.

 

Frankly, if the Ten Commandments were all there was, I’d be fine with it. I think the world would be pretty good if people just adhered to even two of the ten – don’t kill anyone and quit taking what isn’t yours. (I’m paraphrasing a little.) 

 

But the world doesn’t really adhere to any of the commandments, as I see it, and so we seem to be in a bit of a pickle, and I haven’t even gotten to Christianity yet. 

 

We’ve become enslaved to so many things – to our fear, to our needs, to our politics, to money, to the idea of what we consider the true God or religion to be, to seeking vengeance and retribution, to wanting more, to settling for less. We are slaves to the constant barrage of headlines and sound bites, to MSNBC and Fox. We are slaves to our negative thoughts and stunning lack of faith in the one thing, the embodiment of which would solve all our troubles – love. 

 

We have put ourselves in shackles and said, “That’s just the way the world is.” We are holding ourselves captive, and I don’t mean by quarantining during the pandemic. 

 

Speaking of which, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it’s not over. And for those of you who want it to go back to the way things were before the pandemic, I’m sorry to break it to you, but it can’t and we won’t.

 

Loss changes us. I will never be who I was a year ago, nor would I want to be. Stunning and staggering pain doesn’t just impact us negatively. If we let it, it can be the bridge to our transformation into something better. It can be the road to our redemption. 

 

I know so many people who have felt like caged animals for a year, pacing, gnawing, seething, trying to break free. But freedom, much like happiness, is an inside job. We will never be freer than we are in our minds, souls, and hearts. Until we master the thoughts we are slaves to, no amount of running around will suffice to satisfy that longing deep within. 

 

What we’re longing for is resurrection, which is the perfect segue to talking about Jesus. I know, my family gets a little nervous when I start talking about Jesus and resurrection, but I have known since early childhood that He was sent to be the human embodiment of what love is supposed to look like. Shocking that we couldn’t figure it out for ourselves, but no, evidently we couldn’t. 

 

I remember asking an orthodox rabbi in Hebrew school when I was young, if Jews believed in resurrection. For those keeping score, we do. We just can’t seem to agree on who the Messiah is and when we’ll all be resurrected. 

 

Anyway, my point is that it is time to resurrect our lives and this world, in such a way that there is no doubt what love looks like and in whose hands the responsibility for it lies. 

 

As I envision a post-pandemic life, I try to see my future self simply as happy. Ecstatic, in fact. It occurred to this goal-driven writer, that historically speaking, I have always thought my happiness would be found in achieving certain goals. And if there is one enslaved way of thinking I choose to release right now, it’s that. And if there’s one thing I’d like to resurrect, it’s the idea that happiness is, in and of itself, the goal, the journey, and the place I choose to reside. 

 

Are there things I want to do? Yes. But if I can’t find happiness every step along the way, then I won’t find it when I get there, either. 

 

I want to release my enslavement to things having to look a certain way, and resurrect the idea of flow and ease. Wow, that seems foreign to me, even as I say it. 

 

I think we have lost our way. I think we have forgotten our own divinity, not to mention God’s. I think we need to think bigger, be bolder in our declaration of what we want, and take a leap of faith in the direction of a world that works for everyone, where nothing happens to us, but it all happens for us. 


I think we need to resurrect the vision of peace, of people loving one another, of no one life being worth more than another. I think we need to revisit and embrace forgiveness. I think we need to resurrect seeing the God in everyone. 

 

The stories of Easter and Passover are not about slavery and crucifixion. They are about redemption and resurrection. In the worst moments are found the greatest potential for miracles. I think that is the takeaway. 

 

So wherever you find yourself this moment, I hope you can pause long enough to see God in yourself, to practice being love, and to know that at any given moment, we are poised for the miraculous to take place, if we would but trust it. 

 

Peace and blessings to you all…

 

Ilene





Thursday, March 11, 2021

Happy Anniversary...

There are some events that are indelibly etched in my mind – blizzards, blackouts, 9/11, the insurrection…and March 12th of last year. 

 

I remember details of such events, like which day of the week they were on, what I was doing, how I felt, if it was hot or cold, if I was scared. 

 

I wasn’t scared.

 

March 12th, 2020 was a Thursday and I was going to see the new Broadway musical about Princess Diana that night. 

 

I took my father to his cardiologist appointment that morning. It was the last time we would go anywhere without a mask, but I didn’t know that then.

 

We ate lunch at our local diner on our way home, like we typically did. It was the last time we would do that, too.

 

We saw our friends and fellow diner regulars. We hugged, kissed, and shook hands, without hesitation or forethought. Maybe if I had known it would be the last time, I would have lingered longer. 

 

By the time we got home and settled in, I was getting ready to go back into the city for the Princess Di show that evening. Before 5 p.m., my friend Anthony called to say Broadway had shut down. 

 

Life as I knew it ended that day. Silently. Stealthily. Abruptly. 

 

The next morning, I got up early and bought enough groceries for a month. 

 

And then I waited. Hunkered down. Watching the news. Eyeing the ever-increasing number of human casualties from a strange new virus we had no way to treat, or to stop, or to prevent. 

 

I was in the first stage of grief – denial. 

 

I told myself that this would last maybe a few weeks, at most. Surely, this strange illness would pass or we’d figure out a solution. We’re crafty like that. Besides, even after 9/11, Broadway was only dark for 48 hours. The show must go on. 

 

But it didn’t.

 

Like anything new, there’s novelty to it. I’m an introvert, working from home and now I had an excuse never to leave. It wouldn’t be hard for me, I told myself. And if I’m being honest, staying home hasn’t been. That was the least of it. 

 

True to form, I started to ascribe a deeper spiritual meaning to the global time-out. The planet needed to heal from man’s abuse of it. Humanity needed to be sent to its collective room to think about what we’d done. The incessant hurrying needed to stop. We all needed to take a deep breath, to reflect, to regroup, and reset. 

 

That would have been a life-transforming accomplishment. Unfortunately, most seem to have used their time to binge watch every cockamamie show ever streamed. So not so much on the whole “think about what you’ve done” thing. 

 

Me, I didn’t binge watch until at least eight months into it. I didn’t watch anything other than news for a long time. 

 

I thought it would be the perfect quiet time to write and get a lot done. I wrote nothing. I was just glad that my father and I were well. He was in really good shape for a 91 year old when this pandemic started.

 

I began doing concerts from my living room. It was a way to connect and still make music. The first time was the strangest. Performing to dead silence, but knowing there are people out there listening. After a while, I made it a regular thing – the first Tuesday of every month at 8 o’clock you could find me on StageIt. If it did nothing else, it gave me the only thing I had on a schedule. It was something in a time filled with nothing.

 

Runs for necessities were all consuming. Lines for hours to get inside the store, and an eerie quiet once there. There was none of the usual frenetic energy of people out and about. Everyone looked like a trauma victim, and what we most feared was each other. To ignore the peril was increasingly difficult. Though the elderly were targeted, this virus was claiming younger people in enough numbers for no one to be safe.

 

It wasn’t long before I knew someone who died from Covid-19. Then parents of friends and friends battling it, some at home, some in hospitals fighting for their lives. 

 

The economy was in a free-fall. And I was praying daily for our frontline workers, which now included the people stocking the store shelves and picking up the garbage on my street. 

 

The president was clearly in over his orange head and lacked not only empathy, compassion, and the ability to tell the truth, but the one thing we desperately needed – a plan to get us out of this mess. I was beyond pissed off.

 

Anger – the second stage of grief.

 

By July, my father’s health took a turn for the worse, though it was not Covid-related. That’s when I got to experience, firsthand, the hellish nightmare we were in, in a different way. 

 

It was summer, and my only saving grace was that the virus spread had slowed down enough for me to at least be allowed into the hospital for 3 hours a day to be with my father. I was there, waiting when visiting was permitted, and I only left when security made their rounds and told me I had to leave. It was excruciating. The staff was sparse and overworked and the care suffered for it.

 

My cell phone was my only lifeline in July, August, and September, when my father was in and out of hospitals. Relatives and friends could support me by phone, but no one could be there in person, for him or me. 

 

I prayed for more things than I can articulate – strength, wisdom, protection as I navigated hospitals and my own potential exposure to the virus. I would have traded anything to secure a positive outcome. 

 

Bargaining, - the third stage of grief.

 

Autumn saw my father home, finally, but not nearly the same as he had been or will ever be again. What once was designated for old age now became the pervasive thought in my mind – the inevitability of death…and the utter fragility of life. 

 

Everything was meaningless and meaningful, excruciating and beautiful at the same time. Nothing mattered and everything did. The fact that we even got up in the morning was a fucking miracle. And this has yet to leave me. I still feel that way. 

 

Depression – the fourth stage of grief.

 

Birthdays came and went quietly, and holidays approached with no possibility of gathering. I made the best of the masked drop-offs of gifts and the elbow bumps that replaced hugs. I tried to find humor in it somewhere, but nothing about it was funny, except the potential it had for being behind us one day.

 

The hardest thing, by far, was missing funerals. From the time the pandemic started until now, I lost four friends, an aunt, uncle, and three cousins. Though only two were due to Covid, the enormity of the loss would have been unfathomable even during normal circumstances. And these were not normal circumstances. 

 

For as hard as a funeral is, it is the start of the healing process. Absent that, there is a piece missing, a step skipped. And you can’t skip crucial steps when it comes to processing grief. 

 

The New Year carried with it the promise of a new president, a vaccination, and the chance to at least hope for a better future. Me, I was skeptical by now, and January 6th didn’t help matters.

 

Not only is life too damn fragile, but also, it turns out our democracy is only one successful insurrection away from toppling like a house of cards. 

 

That was it for me. I started learning the Canadian national anthem, brushing up on my French, and googling the path to citizenry. 

 

Fortunately, Biden took office and got busy trying to help us out of this mess. And I started to look at life with an ever-so-slight glimmer of hope. If the pandemic continued, I would survive lockdown. If it vanished, I would face the new world with everyone else. 

 

Acceptance – the last stage of grief.

 

Friends started talking about post-pandemic life. One said not to underestimate people’s capacity to forget. 

 

I don’t think we can go back. At least, I hope we can’t. I am not the same person I was at the start of this a year ago. I could never be that person again. The only value there is in any experience is who and what we become because of it. 

 

What would you tell your year-younger self? 

 

I’ve been giving this some thought, as this anniversary approached. I think I would tell her that, no matter what happened, she was enough to handle it, that no matter how isolated she ever felt, she was never truly alone, and that Schitt’s Creak is really worth the binge watch.

 

Wherever this anniversary finds you, I hope it’s on a path to healing. I hope that as we re-enter the world, we do so a little bit kinder to ourselves, the planet, and each other. 

 

Happy Anniversary, dear readers. 

 

xo

Ilene