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elita clayman
Life and Also A Little More

Back in about 1955 or thereabouts, my employer Meyer who was CEO of a printing firm called Diamond Press (see I was destined to have diamonds several years later in 1959) was trying to establish with about 6 other men a new house of worship in the Jewish faith. There was no lack of synagogues in the area; there were dozens of them. These men wanted to start a new one with the idea that children were welcome even if they cried during services, ran about and talked a lot, old people would be comfortable in their padded not hard wood seats, and the Rabbi would be smart enough to know all the congregant\’s names and would be available to all in need. They interviewed several men and they toned it down to one. This man was at another smaller house of worship and was looking to use his talents and personality for a larger environment.

I was a confidant of Meyer in this search and I did a little forced volunteer work when Rabbi would come in and needed some printing work done for free and some secretarial work. I liked him, he was full of charm and personality and not stiff like some clergymen are. Finally, Meyer said to me, a 23 year old young woman \”what do you think?\” I said \” I am knowledgeable in lots of things but not so much in religion though I was brought up it and knew lots about it as a layman.

I spoke with the Rabbi and he treated me like I was a big shot and he tried to impress me how he would be to the regular congregant of even older ages, married with children instead of a young inexperienced office worker. Meyer said \”well what do you think?\” I said \”I think he would make a friendly and eager type of clergyman who would benefit the congregants.\” With my approval and their competence, he was voted in to become the first and long staying clergyman. The ladies loved him, his kindness, his charm ( all of us girls and ladies fall for manly charm) and the male members adored his manner and his knowledge and his perfect way of giving sermons. I went to services every Saturday just to listen to his great sermons on daily matters, his interpretation of Jewish literature and the Holy Scriptures etc. I joined his Bible class and every Tuesday morning I was pleased to hear his views etc.

I offered to edit his sermons for a forthcoming book and he made me editor. All this about ten years after being part of the committee who chose him, I got married in 1960 and we joined the synagogue and so every thing I thought he would be; he was and even more. He met with me every Friday morning after I came home from the hair salon. I stayed up for hours many weeknights and edited this and that out of selected sermons I felt would be fascinating in a book. We even ,my idea for the title, it was called Life and Also A Little More. One day he decided we had enough for a slim book and he made arrangements to meet with a publisher, not knowing it was what is called a vanity publisher. For them, they publish your book for a fee of about 10 thousand and they put certain amounts of copies in bookstores. Well, he was disappointed that it was not the regular publisher who would give you thousand ads or more just to print it. Harper Lee who wrote To Kill A Mockingbird is about ready to make 30 million for the publication of her first novel which they are calling a prequel, not a sequel to the Mockingbird book. She wrote it first and was rejected and then she wrote Mockingbird which was a famous book made into an award winning book and an award winning movie with Gregory Peck 40 years ago.

So Rabbi Herschel Leibowitz was disappointed on the vanity publisher and I felt I had had a fine experience being chosen to be his editor. One day before the vanity appointment, he had been on his summer vacation in the mountains of New York. I stopped by and caught the secretary giving out copies of his sermons from his office to a young and inexperienced clergyman who wanted to \”borrow\” his thoughts as if they were his own. I immediately called him up where he was on vacation because his sermons were possibly going to be published and here this guy had conned the secretary to let him borrow the Rabbi\’s words for his own. He immediately called her and she got the papers back where they belonged in my hands or in the office. He was joyous that I happened to be there at that moment. A bit of cheating had been in the making.

A year rolled by and he became ill and passed on, but I was always proud that I had been involved being his editor and even though they never got published in print; I enjoyed the experience because everything we accomplish whether it winds up where you want it to be and even if it does not, you have jumped a huge leap and plateau in your life.

Life and Also A Little More was that, an important and solid endeavor and even more Elita Sohmer Clayman July 17, 2015

How Long Do You Want to Live?

I dreamed about my father last night. That isn’t something odd, today is his birthday. Had he lived until today, he would have been 90 years old. I don’t think he would have liked that. You see my father was always an active busy man, but he was always ready for a good conversation. I remember days growing up and as an adult sitting at the kitchen table with my father. He would be nursing a can of Schlitz and a Salem cigarette espousing words of wisdom or at least something that would make me say, “Wow, I never thought about it like that, Daddy.”

So many times our conversations went a little like this though, “I don’t want to get that old,” my Dad would say as we discussed someone older than him that had become infirmed or failing. “It’s not good to get that old,” he would say.

“Why not,” I would usually ask, knowing the answer already.

“It ain’t worth living sick,” he would say something to that effect. “When you can’t get around and take of yourself, it’s time to go,” he would say or imply.

Then I would tease him about living to the age of Methuselah. For those of you who don’t know, that was a character in the Bible that reportedly lived 969 years. Daddy would make a comeback that he was going to die before getting too old, and then he would give me these instructions.

“When I die, I don’t want a funeral. I want you to take my body to the nearest alley and leave it. Let me return to the dust.”

Then he would recite, “Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. If the good Lord don’t want you, the devil must.”

It’s been over ten years now since I had a conversation with my Dad. He left in 2005 after finding out he had colon cancer. I don’t know if it was curable at the stage it was found, but I think my dad’s words came to fruition. All of his life, he knew that he had no intention of living in a sick body. When he could no longer live a vibrant life, he was ready to go. He had told us so over and over.

This morning, I woke up thinking, what am I telling myself. What are you telling you? How long do we want to live? Have we already embedded the words that will determine our lifespans in our heads? Just a thought about the words we use to live our lives one story at a time.    simplydilsa



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elita clayman
My Gift Of Spirit, Keep Sharing It

My dear email pal and friend said about my articles that I have a gift of spirit and he is glad I am back writing and sharing it. Steven Behr, Sr. is from Steilacoom, Washington State and he is a wellness educator, a ballroom dancer, a husband, a dad, a grandfather and my favorite email writer of emails to me. When I was unable to write my articles due to a fall and being in bed for about six months in 2014, he constantly emailed me to keep on keeping on and never give up. His encouragement and inspiration to me then along with Dr. Jonelle R. Brown, a young physical therapist enticed me to succeed and that I did. Last year this time I could not walk or sit up or standup and then Jonelle came into my life on 9-15-14 and she said she would get me to walk after five other physical therapists with in home visits could not stir me to do it. They threatened me that if I did not walk NOW after a few visits, Medicare would not pay them etc.


Jonelle walked through my door and she said I would and she prepared for her three or two visits a week a plan on how I would do it. Each visit was another accomplishment when you have not done it for months is a hurdle overcome. By 12-30-14, I had walked 15-20 feet with a walker and now I am up to 700-800 feet each day and getting stronger. 800 feet is the size of almost 3 football fields. I kid that Joe Flacco of our Ravens is going to ask me to walk the football field this coming September for one of the games
to show everyone that we seniors do not give up.

My mom was a spirited person. When things were tight financially, she went to work in an office as a typist. No computers then, just ordinary typewriters and when the boss saw how efficient she was, he bought her the first electric typewriter and she was the only one in the office to get one. Her speed escalated and instead of wearing out her underarm material in her dresses, she was able to wear them longer and buy new ones for the extra money she earned with her speed. Before that she made up her way not to have to throw the dresses out because of tattered material. She bought some new material and carefully cut out a piece and hand sewed the damaged part and no one could see it because she matched it so well and sewed like a sewing machine had done and repaired it.

My mom was a lady of valor and she had spirit even in economical times and she cooked and baked like she was a gourmet cook; long before that word was associated with cooking and long before dozens of cooking shows on television.

My friend Steven Behr,Sr. and my Jonelle R. Brown are my heroes and my buddies for life. Jonelle for her constant care, compassion and hope that I would prosper and walk again and take care of myself and Steven for inspiring me to do all I could and to get back to writing, living and even maybe ballroom dancing again of which he is a part of in his life. He is going to Hawaii in August with his student dance partner to continue on as he has done for 30 years teaching the people to dance, to love dance and to always dance. He is a senior like me, about 3 years younger and he said someday we will meet and dance together to show the world that we seniors are still successful, sexy, stimulating, satisfying, sincere and super. Thank you Dr. Jonelle R. Brown of Odenton, Maryland and Steven Behr Sr. of Washington State for your kindnesses to Elita.You both have the gift of spirit and you shared it with Elita.

Antionette Blake
I fear for my husband’s health

I fear for my husband’s health…

…not from the back pain that keeps him from grooming his feet

I fear for my husband’s health…

…not from the x-rays and stitches caused by students that he was there to educate

I fear for my husband’s health…

…not from the cancerous cells that have invaded his body and has made his lose so much weight


I fear for my husband’s health…

…because yesterday as I sat nervously in the car as he parked to pray…laying his Prayer Rug beside the car

Prayer Rugs

Praying to Allah for the 3rd time of the day…praying for guidance, love, safety and good health not only for himself, but for his family, friends and all mankind.

I fear for my husband’s health…

…as I watched an elderly woman peer across the lot, grab her purse a little tighter and begin to walk a little quicker


I fear for my husband’s health because we live in a country that many have died to protect their religious freedoms, yet find it easy to bear arms and spew hatred against another’s religious beliefs.


I fear for my husband’s health and my son’s future….

So help us God!

cheryl stewart
Taming fear through Gratitude

Every problem we have is just fear. Fear is a powerful force. It automatically cranks up the volume of the internal voice to HIGH. “DON’T” it screams. Don’t move, don’t try, don’t answer, don’t act, don’t think it’s all going to work out and don’t push forward. Stop.

There we sit – stuck in fear.  From this vantage point we may as well stop living, afraid to be vulnerable, make a mistake, look foolish or be less than perfect. Reduced to a puddle occupying the space where our former vibrant selves used to be.

We’ve all been there.

Last year I discovered a way out.

Gratitude – it will immediately disable fear and transform your life. It happened to me.

It was my biggest challenge to date, finding out I needed open heart surgery to repair a rapidly deteriorating heart valve and then w-a-i-t-i-n-g 7 months for it. The thought of the surgery activated every fear cell in my body – “was I going to die???”   I was terrified, stuck in a loop of why me/poor me until I determined this would kill my spirit before I even got to surgery. So I started practicing gratitude –slowly at first since this didn’t appear to be the  ideal situation to be grateful for.  But what I found is that this is exactly where one can experience the most growth, those times when when fear has you in a death grip and life is hard.

I started out by being grateful for a couple of things every day, which quickly progressed to starting a journal and expressing gratitude for 10 things every morning and 10 things every night. From that point it was easy. I was even expressing gratitude for my current situation – it was an opportunity to review my life, transform it through the practice of gratitude, have a surgery that wouldn’t have been possible 5 years ago, be in the hands of medical professionals at the top of their game and be given a normal life span instead of a shortened one. I was obviously greatly blessed! The transformation was well underway.

By now gratitude was taking over my life.  I needed to understand how it worked.

I could see that expressing gratitude was shutting off the oxygen supply to my fear completely disabling it. In the presence of gratitude, fear simply couldn’t survive it just shriveled and died. I realized I had been given new lenses through which to view the world, these were vastly up graded from my last ones and saw blessings in everything. It was miraculous.

It’s been almost a year since my surgery.  Today I not only engage in a daily gratitude practice but it is continually deepening. I know first hand how I feels to be filled with gratitude and how  in that place life is transformed.

If fear is calling the shots in your life express gratitude. Start right now…this very minute…I promise the clouds will lift, your heart will open and the fear will be chased away.

Daily Gratitude Practice

  1. Start a gratitude journal and set aside specific time(s) every day to note what you are grateful for. Start small – try 2 like I did and work your way up.
  2. Note why you’re grateful—(i.e. I’m grateful for the women in my 8am daily workout class because their smiling faces and positive energy fills me up and fuels my day.)
  3. Express grateful for the little things-(i.e. I’m grateful to the spider spinning its web outside my kitchen window it reminds me of the beauty and simplicity of life).
  4. When I feel fear sneak up on me…I silently repeat…thank you thank you thank you….until I feel it pass. Within 15 seconds the corners of my mouth are turning up and the fear has been swept away. *This is truly amazing!
  5. Express gratitude for something in the future… (i.e. I am grateful for the many doors that are opening to me) It allows us to feel gratitude for what’s on the horizon and a reason to look forward.

These are the 5 ways I practice gratitude every day, there are many more. Here are 2 highly recommended Gratitude books that will not only inspire but help you create a practice that is uniquely yours.

  1. The Magic by Rhonda Byrne – author leads you on a 28 day journey and teaches how to apply gratitude. Byrne offers strategies to transform your health, money, job and relationships and how to make your smallest desires and biggest dreams come true. You will also learn how to practice gratitude to dissolve problems and transform any negative situation. This is a consecutive 28 day intensive gratitude course, I engaged in it with 3 friends, we did it together imposing an accountability challenge to keep us on track (If you miss a day you have to go back 3 days and begin again). Who wanted to be the friend who sent us all back?? It worked! I highly recommend not only the book but doing it with a partner!
  2. Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons. Dr. Emmons Ph.D. has devoted his life to studying gratitude and is the world’s leading scientific expert. For his recent book, he conducted an experiment where he studied 3 groups. All participants were tested at the start to determine their happiness level. They were then divided into 3 random groups. The first group identified 5 things they were grateful for each week, the second group identified 5 hassles and the third group 5 experiences. At the end of 10 weeks the happiness level of participants was tested once again.  What they found was that those identifying what they were grateful for had happiness levels 25% higher than when they began.  If your personal goal is to be happier, this book will give you strategies to do that.

PS Can’t sleep? Try counting your blessings it will reframe your thinking, still the noisy mind and hopefully provide you with some zzzz’s. Works for me.

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