- Monday: Brentwood, clinical practice
- Tuesday and Thursday: Studio City, classes and sessions at private company
- Friday: Brentwood, clinical practice
- Saturday: Agoura Hills, clinical practice
Four Lines (a Long Poem)
she kept in the kitchen pantry, I found a poem.
Soon after she died, I went through her rooms, carefully opening drawers and closets, remembering her smell in the unwashed clothes, the scent of her perfume softly permeating the drawers I opened.
Like an eavesdropper, I inspected shelf after shelf, getting
to know her intimately through the objects I found.
As I opened the cupboards where many meals had so recently begun their preparations, I separated the dishes to be kept
and the pots and pans to be given away to
those who needed them. In a large and beautiful antique cabinet
she kept in the dining room, I found her silverware, used only for special occasions. I opened the lid of the dark mahogany box
lined with burgundy colored velvet, and remembered
how often I had polished each piece before a party, rubbing them with polish and a soft cloth until they shined, getting to know them.
It is astonishing how objects can hold memories,
how you can be lost in them, just by looking, touching.
Feeling the weight of each serving piece in my hands,
the small and large forks and spoons, the knives, some tucked
in soft pouches to protect them from scratching, the memories of Passover dinners and holiday celebrations, year after year,
the rituals of tradition were all there among the silver, waiting to be used again.
Recently, I heard the story of a Buddhist monk who came to
America and, when presented with a fork, had no idea
what it was, or how to use it. Coming from Tibet as a young boy,
he had never seen one. What would he think of the box of silverware and the many sets of dishes carefully wrapped?
There have been long years since the dining table has been set, since the silver has been removed from its resting place, and all the special things placed carefully in front of each chair, and
I wondered what the Tibetan monk would think of these things as I unwrapped each piece and waited for the flood of memories to settle in my brain.
On an index card, mixed in with the recipes
my mother hoped to make one day, some torn from the newspapers
read daily without fail and the hand written recipes
she copied from memory, the poem was there. Although it
was a poem, not a recipe, my mother thought it belonged there,
in the box, loosely filed with the rest.
Written by my grandmother, my mother's mother,
it was printed on newsprint and she had
cut it out and taped it to an index card so it would fit the box.
On the card was the caption, "Read my poem from
our News and Views,” written in my grandmother’s hand. I think she
must have been referring to the Jewish paper
put out by the Community Center in Brooklyn she
visited each day, where she took painting classes, and I
noticed how both their handwritings, my mother's and grandmother's,
appeared the same; I had to look carefully to tell them apart.
I picture my grandmother sitting at her table in the
middle of the main room of her small Brooklyn apartment,
perhaps after a night's sleep, writing the poem.
In it, she talks about sweeping her hair from her eyes and,
immediately, I see her soft, beautiful white hair, not
yet braided, and her sleepy eyes. When I visited her,
she would ask me to help her put her hair up, and I would brush the
fine strands of silvery white hair, braid them and pin
the braids to her head, like a crown. And then, I would help her
fasten her corset before stepping into her dress, as she bent forward to position her large breasts inside the cups; there were so many hooks, they went down to her waist and when she took it off,
after a day of being cinched in, the body that had been
tightly secured all day inside its stiff bones became itself again,
able to move.
As a child, my grandmother's life was like a foreign land--
the Brooklyn apartment, the corset, the silver thimble,
always on her thumb when she was darning a sock, and the
pain—I didn't know that pain.
The poem is simple, just four lines, but in it,
I knew her; I knew her struggles, her dark thoughts and,
most of all, her courage. In the poem, though her name
was not written, was her mother, my great-grandmother and namesake, tragic in her own right; I felt her there, I felt her struggles. My mother, who endured a motherless childhood, was there, too.
In the courage of those few lines, I could see the months of pain and
separation my grandmother spent away from her children, hoping to find relief from the depression that plagued her. My grandmother suffered deeply; manic depression is a cruel companion. She was removed from her home, plucked away for months at a time, hidden from her sadness, put out of her misery, relieved of her duties, relieved of her life, until she could return to being a mother again.
You never know what you will find in a recipe box. Amid the recipes filed loosely, mixed in with the cakes and pies, there was a poem.
But, where in the box, do you file sadness? Where does that belong?
struggling to free myself from the depths of sadness, passed down
from generation to generation of women, each one, rising slightly above the rest, defeating the sadness, defiantly denying the genes that were so stubbornly put in place. Many generations in four lines,
that's all, a prayer of sorts, that's all it is, heartbreaking and yet, hopeful.
I knew her and, from those lines, I know me.
She also cooked and baked well, tasting everything until it was perfect; her small refrigerator was stuffed to capacity with neatly wrapped packages of exotic treats, and her purse always had some kind of hard candy in it, wrapped and twirled at the ends. During the Jewish High Holidays, there were heavy, moist fruitcakes she made from dried fruit soaked in brandy, butter, flour, and sugar. Also in her repertoire of dishes were noodle kugles, rich with cream and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon; heavy meatloaves laden with chicken fat and tomatoes; and soups made from homemade broths and marrow bones from the local butcher. After the soups were simmered for hours and cooled, she would skim the fat off the top and keep it in a jar near the stove for frying. There was always an egg bread on the table and soft butter and sour cream to put on thick slices. In many ways, this was real food, but I wonder what she would think about my refrigerator, filled with fresh vegetables from the farmer's market, with no bread, no noodles, no granulated white sugar, no dairy or gluten, and no meat in sight.
Why do I compare the two refrigerators, one filled with rich foods laden with sugar, flour products, dairy, and animal fat, the other filled with vegetables, fish, and whole grains? I compare them because it is known that the foods in the first fridge—my grandmother's—creates an inflamed internal environment, lending itself to pain in the joints, inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, and depression. The second fridge—mine—creates an anti-inflammatory condition, so that those autoimmune conditions can't fester. I have the genes for rheumatoid arthritis, and my joints are beginning to look enlarged from the beating that I've put them through during my life of work; however, there is a big difference here: My joints don't hurt because I am not inflamed!
From the time I can remember, my grandmother was short and stout. Her body was soft and round and her gait was labored; she looked like the food she ate, and if you look closely, you can also see what other people are eating by how they look and, more importantly, how they feel. Are they eating greasy hamburgers and French fries washed down with a super-sized soft drink, or did they have a salad for lunch with an unsweetened iced tea? It's there for all to see. Do you look like a bag of French fries, or do you look like a salad filled with veggies?
My grandmother wasn't lucky. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and bipolar disorder, she was a clear example of how our bodies and minds talk to one another, and how our daily habits contribute to our symptoms. The quote from Esther Sternberg, MD, from her book The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions, is powerful, and another reinforcement from a scientist about the connection between the body and the mind. Without guessing or assuming that there is an absolute connection between our mental health and the health of our physical bodies, she shows us the science of how it works, how the same pathways created by stressful events are those that create depression and inflammatory disease. They are all linked, with no separation. I have often wondered whether my grandmother would have suffered less had she been born at a different time. Her life was hard, from beginning to end, but if her circumstances had been different, would her physical and emotional diagnoses have also been different, or at least, minimized? If the same pathways that create mental stress lead to inflammatory conditions, there are ways to prevent the consequences. This is good news for all of us, although a bit late for my grandmother.
We live in a time where yoga and Mindfulness meditation are part of popular culture; both are powerful tools to help soothe the symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and mental illnesses such as chronic depression. We also know that there is a direct link between certain foods and inflammation. If you could ease the pain from rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory autoimmune conditions and lift depression by choosing whole grains in place of flours, eating fresh fruit and vegetables in place of packaged and processed products, and most important, choose "good fats" found in fish and raw nuts in place of saturated fats that create inflammation, wouldn't that be worth doing? If the suffering from depression and swollen joints could be minimized by taking daily walks outside, meditating each day for ten minutes, and creating a restorative yoga practice, wouldn't that be worth trying? I think it's worth considering...
"We listen to pleasure and we obey pain..."
I became a chiropractor in my forties, after practicing for years doing Structural Integration Bodywork, the work of Ida Rolf and Joseph Heller. My first yoga teacher, when I was in my twenties, was a student of B.K.S. Iyengar, and his style of teaching was very much as a healer, focusing on structural balance to maintain health. I delved deeply into both these modalities, knowing that when people use their bodies well, they stay healthy—at any age. Add good nutrition to this way of living—another passion of mine—and you understand the experience of how I work. I truly believe in this work—yoga, nutrition, Structural Bodywork—and although it is tedious at times, and time intensive, it gets results if people are committed to learning. This is not quick fix chiropractic, but rather an intense, thorough experience...
Come in for a summer session, and of course, referrals are welcomed and appreciated!