Monthly Archives: March 2013

The face and force behind the battle for marriage equality, the magnificent Edith Windsor: “I am today an out lesbian, O.K., who just sued the United States of America, which is kind of overwhelming for me.”

quote Thea-Clara-Spyer--Edith-Windsor-jpg

Edith Windsor (on right), shown with her wife Thea Clara Spyer, talking about what makes marriage different, and why the ability to marry makes a difference.

Edith Windsor was only married for two years, but she was with her partner Thea Clara Spyer for more than 40 years. Now she is the face of the fight for marriage equality before the United States Supreme Court.

Thea and Edith married in 2007, when Thea was gravely ill and was given less than a year to live. After only 21 months of marriage, Thea died, leaving her estate to Edith. Because their marriage was not legally recognized, Edith was responsible for paying more than $300,000 in estate taxes on her inheritance – money that she never would have owed, as she said, if her spouse’s name was Theo and if it was a man she had met only the day before he died.

Edith and Thea led a full life in the 42 years they shared together. They traveled, owned a house in the Hamptons, loved dancing, and shared an apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Through the years, they shared a committed relationship, but they something was missing. They found that missing element once they were married.

From the New York Times: 

Even though they were married for only the final two years of their 40-year relationship, she said something intangible but unmistakable changed after they were married. “For anybody who doesn’t understand why we want it and why we need it,” she said, “it is magic.”

Anyone with a beating heart should be able to understand that.

Edith Windsor, you rock. Thank you for your courage and your brave heart. I stand with you.

Getting the perfect wedding photos – what not to do if you want memories that you’ll want to relive, not bury

sleepybrideAs one of my former bosses used to say, “everybody is useful for something, even if only as a bad example.”

Thanks to Buzzfeed for sharing some really bad examples. Friends don’t let friends have bad wedding photos.

See them here:

What’s the worst wedding photo you have seen? If it is one of yours, are you brave enough to share it?


The color scheme of your dreams for your wedding – would it have anything to do with the wearing of the green?

The Pantone color of the year is emerald, as we all know, and what better day to talk about it than on St. Patrick’s Day?

Badge of the Order of St. Patrick's

Badge of the Order of St. Patrick’s

It is interesting to note that the color originally associated with St. Patrick was blue – there actually is a shade of blue known as St. Patrick’s Blue. The Order of St. Patrick was established in 1783 as the senior order of chivalry in the Kingdom of Ireland. The color associated with the honor needed to differentiate it from the Order of the Garter (dark blue) and the Order of the Thistle (green). So they went with blue.

For a number of reasons, the color that became associated with St. Patrick’s Day evolved to green  – the use of the green shamrock that St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people, the growing number of references to Ireland as the Emerald Isle, and the green uniforms worn by solidiers on March 17, 1798 to draw attention during the Irish rebellion. Even the term “wearing of the green” became popular in 1798 as part of a popular folk song associated with the rebellion.

Invitations in shades of green - love the white calligraphy!

Invitations in shades of green – love the white calligraphy!

So back to emerald – really, to green in all of its many variations. If you’re looking for ways to incorporate green into your wedding color scheme, you have a lot of options. For your convenience, I have created a Pinterest board for Emerald weddings, were you can find ideas related to everything from invitations to flowers to bridesmaid’s dresses to shoes and cake. And cake pops. And jackets, bow ties, and boutinnieres for the groom.

Are you adding green to your color scheme? Were you influenced by Emerald being named the color of the year?

Happy International Women’s Day, and celebrating my mother on the 100th anniversary of her birth

My mother, Sara Becker Gurvitz, and her granddaughter Zoe Colman, 1992.

My mother, Sara Becker Gurvitz, and her granddaughter Zoe Colman, 1992. Sara is 79 years old in this photo.

Happy International Women’s Day! The celebration of this holiday has varied over time and across geography. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements.

I like to think of it as a day to stop and reflect and where we are as women, and I always think about the progress that was made during my mother’s lifetime because this holiday always falls on her birthday, March 8. This year, she would have turned 100 years old.

My mother was born at a time when women definitely took a back seat to men. I don’t think she ever got over the fact that her older brother was able to go to college, while neither my mother nor her younger sister were educated beyond high school. That didn’t stop either one of them from entering the workforce in supporting roles. Perhaps it was good that her brother went to college because while he was in pharmacy school, he became friends with the man who was to become my father.

My parents were married in January 1940, when my mother had reached the advanced (for that time) age of 26 and my father was 30. My brother was born in February 1942 but I didn’t follow for another 12 years. So when I was born, my mother was 40 – and back then, there was no prenatal testing. Today, giving birth later in life is more common, but back then it was unusual, to say the least.

There was one thing about which my mother was fanatic – she never revealed her age. The birth date shown on her driver’s license, marriage license, and the birth certificates of my brother and I were all different. It did make me a bit uneasy that I didn’t know how old my mother was, which was a great contrast to my father who would proudly proclaim to anyone within earshot that he was born on 10-10-10 (that’s 1910 we’re talking about).

In fact, we never knew for sure how old she was until I cleared out my parents’ apartment three years ago when I found her actual birth certificate. She always looked younger than her age, so she saw no reason to destroy anyone’s illusions. Toward the end of her life, when she was dealing with illness (she beat lung cancer, but it came back five years later to her pancreas), she would announce her age to a chorus of disbelief.

I thank my mother for blessing me with many things, not the least of which are good skin and high energy, along with a youthful appearance. My mother was intelligent and strong-minded, and boy, did she know how to hold a grudge. If she had an opinion about something, whether it happened a minute ago or a decade ago, she would let you hear about it. I think I may have been “blessed” with that, too, but I am working on it.

My mother and my father had a love affair that lasted almost 60 years. She always took care of him until, in the end, he took care of her. And among the many blessings she left him with was the motivation to join a daily prayer group at a local temple, in which he was active for the remaining decade of his life and through which he made friends of all ages who were astonished by his energy, memory, and sense of humor.

That sense of humor kept my mother laughing at the same jokes, over and over, for nearly six decades. Not a bad role model for sharing your life with a partner. I am grateful for a husband who makes me laugh every day.

It is impossible to reflect on my mother’s life without thinking of my daughter. Upon hearing that my due date was March 2, I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice for my child to share a birthday with her grandmother.” My mother had other ideas, basically warning me that she wasn’t interested in sharing her birthday with anyone, even a grandchild. As my due date passed and we got closer to March 8, there was a level of stress about when the baby would be born. Fortunately, Zoe cooperated and came out on March 7. I am so glad to Zoe got to know her beloved Bubbe, who lived until Zoe was almost seven years old.

It thrills me to think of the span of progress that will have been achieved from the time my mother was born in the early 20th century to where we will be by the time Zoe is a grandmother. Progress for women may move at a snail’s pace, or so it seems, but as I mentioned in a previous post about the 100th anniversary of the march on Washington for women’s suffrage, we must keep working at it. And I would be willing to bet that my daughter and her generation will make quantum leaps toward equality and making things better not just for women but also for men. We may hold up “Half The Sky”, as the title of the wonderful book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDun says, but if only half the sky is held up, the sky will fall.

Celebrate the women in your life, privately and publicly. And women, let’s celebrate ourselves, for what we have achieved and what we are determined to accomplish. As my mother used to say, “you never know what strange turns life is going to take.” Mother, as usual, was right.


Milestone birthday celebration: my daughter Zoe turns 21

My daughter Zoe, taken when she was still 20 years old.

My daughter Zoe, taken when she was still 20 years old.

On March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone. Which is appropriate because March 7, 2013 is the day that my daughter, Zoe, celebrates her 21st birthday. It is appropriate not necessarily because she spends a lot of time talking on the phone – as is the case for most people her age, she uses her phone more as a device for texting and sending messages rather than actually talking – but her phone is attached to her almost surgically.

Zoe has always had a lot to say. Deep in her heart and soul, Zoe is a communicator and takes advantage of whatever technology is available to get her point across. She manages to speak more words during a day than I would have thought was humanly possible. When she was young and just learning to talk we used to ask her at the end of the day, “is your mouth tired?” Zoe takes justifiable pride in her writing and is an experienced public speaker. She wants to change the world and understands how the power of words – of clear communication – is key to making things happen. She always used to ask us, “what are you talking about?” This is a person who wants to be on top of whatever is going on.

It is not without irony as a writer that I consider what words to use as I contemplate the meaning of my only child turning 21. She is a full-fledged adult now in the eyes of the law, legally able to drink and drive (although not at the same time) and vote and get married and live independently of her parents. In some senses, our job as parents is done, and we are bursting with pride at the person she has become, and at the potential contribution she can make to the world. But we are incredibly blessed to have her still close enough to us that we remain important in her life, consulted on important decisions and asked for help solving problems large and small (mostly large, or small ones that loom large, for the record). And there is still one more year of undergraduate tuition to pay, for which we are primarily responsible.

Zoe is in many ways her father’s daughter – she has his sense of humor, determination, and ability to get along with almost anyone. I like to think that from me she got her dedication, persistence, and commitment to clear communication, along with a love of action movies and education in the history of rock and roll. (We’re looking forward to seeing Fleetwood Mac together in April.)

Zoe also is creative. She took ballet and jazz lessons, fell in love with ceramics during high school, and played cello for eight years. She is my biggest supporter in the adventure that is my career as an artist, which combines my interpretation of words presented in artful ways – when you think about it, that is exactly what an invitation provides.

We’re meeting Zoe in Connecticut on Saturday for a brief official celebration of her milestone. I’m looking forward to ordering her a legal glass of champagne and hoisting it high in a toast to her past, present, and future. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say.