Before and After

There are defining moments in everyone’s life. One of mine was the car accident that I alluded to in my last post. Seven months pregnant with Danielle, the youngest daughter, I was in the front passenger seat during a head on collision. As my head hit the dash board, I broke most of the bones in my face and developed a tangerine sized blood clot on my brain.

I had considered including a photo from the hospital with a shaved head and unrecognizable face but, to be totally honest, the daughter asked that I leave it out. Not to mention, I would have had to put up a warning like they do on TV: this piece contains graphic images.

I gave birth to my daughter a month later. Soon after began the long process of multiple surgeries followed by multiple recoveries. There were moments of depression and defeat but with three daughters, being a 90 pound weakling wasn’t an option. Then I discovered weight lifting, something that nice Jewish girls growing up in Syracuse didn’t do.

Despite the fact that I used to be very shy, after a lot of coaxing, weight lifting led to bodybuilding and my first competition!

20160525_091431_1472427293345_resizedELBEE She used to be shy and I took first place at Westminster.

Yes,  I was shy and almost had to be pushed on stage at that competition. What really got me through was the feeling that it was symbolic of my recovery. And I have to say that winning the first trophy of my non-athletic life was major!

ELBEE Apparently it was so major that she couldn’t stop competing for years.

Since the hospital before and after was off the table, I decided to share a before and after that is one of my favorites from my former life as a bodybuilding carpool mom. During that time I wrote a book called, The Desperate Woman’s Guide to Fitness (The Secret to Aging Like Fine Wine Instead of Going Flat Like Stale Beer). While putting the book together, I worked with Paul Chepikian, an amazingly talented Renaissance man who did the cover. As you can see, he is also one of the best sports I have ever met!

20160404_140354_resizedCHARLEY I try not to be judgmental but that is a little disturbing, I may have to go meditate.

ELBEE Sorry Charley, but I think it’s hilarious!


GUS And people wonder why I’m confused. I’m going to take my chew bone and hide in the closet.


Grandma’s Got “Guns”

The greatest thing happened at the gym. I hate to brag but I had just done 200 pounds on the leg press when a normal, working out kind of guy went over to use the machine.img_0590

20160209_171423-1_resizedDOODS We have to admit that we are a little impressed but saying she “hates” to brag. Really?

As I was saying, he saw how much weight I’d been using, walked over to me, punched his chest twice and said “respect.” That may be one of the coolest compliments I’ve ever received. It ranks up there with the gay friend who told me I was a “timeless woman.” I only mention he was gay because I feel that no one compliments a woman like a gay man.

The gym comment actually meant a lot because I have been on a mission to regain my strength after an injury. A few years ago I tore my rotator cuff in yoga.

20160404_140354_resizedCHARLEY In yoga? That is just embarrassing. I don’t advocate lying but in this case it wouldn’t hurt.

After laying off weight lifting for an extended time and then starting from scratch a year ago, it’s been exciting to find out that all my years of bodybuilding really did build muscle memory. Even though my only goal was to regain strength, people have been commenting on my arms getting bigger. I knew I was making progress when the oldest daughter said, “Oh no, you’re not thinking of competing again!”


THE DOODS Okay, she looks good but why is she sitting in the closet flexing? Also, we’re more concerned with the other memory, the one that makes sure she feeds us on time.

On a serious note, I think that strength in a woman is crucial. As a passenger in a head on car accident when I was pregnant with the youngest daughter, now the mother of two, I had near fatal injuries, including a large blood clot on the brain. The long recovery process left me as a 90 pound weakling. Physically and mentally, weight lifting helped lead me back. More in my next post.




Oy Vey


Last Wednesday was Yom Kippur. As far as holidays go, that’s a really big one. It’s a day of atonement, reflection, remembrance, fasting (some of us are not so great at that). Unfortunately, it was also my regular day to bring a Dood into UCLA Medical Center to cheer up the patients. To make matters worse, Gus and his friend Tommy, an adorable Bichon, had been requested for a very special visit.

I was in a Jewish quandary. Would going into the hospital, a good deed referred to as a mitzvah, make up for my total lack of traditional observance? I called Tommy’s person Donna who was having the same dilemma. We decided that dealing with the Jewish guilt would be worth it because what the dogs do is so important.


GUS Excuse me, did anyone ask me or Tommy how we felt about this?

As it turned out, the visits were a huge success. Tommy and Gus brought so much joy. People were laughing, smiling, picking up the dogs and cuddling them. And on a a bright note none of us was hit by lightening and we all made it home safely.


Later in the day to add insult to injury or to celebrate the holiday, depending on your perspective, I hiked up into the mountains, my own spiritual place. I needed to see the ocean. My brother’s ashes and those of my dearest friend Eileen, both of whom passed away too young, are in the Pacific. Looking out over the water is my special way to connect with them. I stood on a hill with tears of remembrance rolling down my face.


I made it down the trail unscathed, no bruises, scratches, broken bones. I decided that was an excellent sign. Then it dawned on me. My mother had died 47 years ago to the day. I had to believe she was up there shaking her head, but smiling at me.



Pit Bulls, Parolees and a Doodle


Charley has quite the resume, especially for a dog. He was in the movie I Love You Man. He’s been in several parades.


He’s been on TV, in magazines and newspapers. He worked at an academy awards gifting suite.

He was even in the Bedhead pajama catalog.

Image 16







CHARLEY I regret that I’ve never been asked to do a radio interview. I actually think I could pull it off.

What few people know is that he was on the tv show Pit Bulls and Parolees, a program about a woman who rescues Pit Bulls and has parolees help train and rehabilitate them.

20160525_091431_1472427293345_resizedELBEE I’m sure Pack Leader was wondering if there was an audience for her blog in prison.


During our episode a parolee was testing a large Pit Bull to be a therapy dog. Charley and I were there as the neutral dog team.  It’s the exercise in the Pet Partners evaluation where the two teams approach, the handlers greet each other, and the testing team then walks on by. The dogs aren’t supposed to show more than passing interest in each other.

Unfortunately, Fido, the Pit Bull and Fred the parolee (fake names) failed the test. After walking by, “Fido” circled back to get Charley. A big no no.

CHARLEY I was terrified. I’m a lover not a fighter.

Since the producers knew the outcome, when they were editing the show, they made a big dramatic deal about the neutral dog exercise coming up. “Fred” had to say how nervous he was about it. It was like the obligatory part of a cooking show where someone says, “this is a disaster.” As they went to commercial, they had a shot of big, scary Charley with a kind of Jaws music playing.

  20161006_193948_resized CHARLEY It was humiliating, almost as humiliating as this shirt.

After “Fido” failed, they went to “Fred” for reaction.  He commented that the big, fluffy white dog had been their downfall. Maybe I should have used fake names for me and Charley instead.

Fortunately he was a very sweet parolee and said he totally understood. Hey, maybe he would like my blog.





“Tails” from the Trails


get-attachment.aspxTHE DOODS We love the play on words in the title and are very happy that this post is going to focus on us.

Sorry about the misleading title Doods. It was just too good to resist. I actually have a few “tales” from the trails to share.

THE DOODS That is not even funny!

If you hike long enough, you’re bound to run into some strange people. The daughters think I’m one of them and I almost object. Until recently the naked hiker, yes naked, was at the top of my list. Well, he was naked unless you count his red baseball hat and hiking boots.


ELBEE Excuse me, but how does a naked guy decide that a red hat works with his non-outfit? And the weirdest thing is that Pack Leader and the guy casually said “hi” to each other as if nothing was out of the ordinary. 

Another time I saw a cyclist in a mesh onesie. That almost scarred me for life, but was nothing compared to an early morning encounter with a young, seemingly homeless man. Yes, Im judging.

I was hiking with my friend Mary when the man approached and casually asked if we knew what time it was. He was disheveled and caked in dirt as if he had slept in the mountains. He was carrying a small thick tire on a heavy chain, and what appeared to be a large quilt.

He seemed a little confused but knew exactly where he was headed, a donut shop on one of the streets leading up to the mountains. Suddenly he asked, “Do you want to see what I found?” As he started to slowly unwrap the filthy quilt, all I could think was that he was going to pull out a shot gun.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, the blanket fell open and there was a big, white drone. I don’t know if we were more shocked or relieved. Then he very politely inquired, “Do you happen to know who lost this?”

THE DOODS OMG Do you have any question about why we’re sometimes hesitant to go hiking with her? And what’s even more disturbing is that she doesn’t make this stuff up! We need to talk to the daughters!