Reflections of the past year

Ella and Dave with book2015 will go down as one of the best years of my life.

On Oct 6, 2015 Second Story Press, officially released my book Hidden Gold to the public.

In only 3 months the reviews, comments and sales have been better than I could have ever dreamed.

The editorial reviews, the reader reviews, the book signings, the interviews have all contributed to the success of Hidden Gold and to the joy of knowing that my family’s Holocaust story will live on through generations to come.

On a more personal level, I feel very blessed that my Uncle David Gold is alive to witness how his suffering as a 12-year-old boy is now being used to educate both young and old about the Holocaust. Through the eyes and hearts of my family, people will learn about the darkest chapter in recent human history. Hidden Gold will live long after the last survivor is no longer able to speak for him or herself.

To hear how people talk about my mother Shoshana as a heroine brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. My mother survived the war physically, however the emotional scars were just too deep and she never recovered. She died at the age of 52. I have reconnected with my mother on a spiritual level. Through Hidden Gold I’ve had the chance to show people what a wondrous, selfless, strong and loving women my mother truly was. She wasn’t around long enough to reap the rewards of surviving. She didn’t get to enjoy her life and freedom in Canada with her husband, or savor each moment watching her children grow up. Hidden Gold is the conduit through which the outside world will know her.

Taking a parent or anyone you love for granted is a huge mistake. Life is fragile and you never know what tomorrow will bring.

If you argue, make up. If you feel something, say it. If you have an opportunity to do something today, don’t put it off till tomorrow. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of the daily grind, so prioritize and keep what’s really important to you front and centre. Live for today, live for the moment.

Happy new yearMay the coming year fill your lives with meaning, laughter, charity and love.

Happy New Year,

Ella Burakowski

 

Addicted to Smoking

Smoking

Teens React to Old Cigarette Commercials

Dear Ella,

I’m a hard-core smoker and have been for 35 years. I’ve tried to quit many times, but I barely make it through one day.

Logically I know the horrifying data. Our government has made it extremely inconvenient and expensive for me to smoke, and my kids are angry with me for being so selfish. The icing on the cake? My dear friend Barb just passed away. She had lung cancer and was a smoker, like me. I was physically sick and an emotional wreck dealing with the guilt of “I may be next.” So how do I handle this? I have a cigarette! If this wasn’t the kick in the pants I needed, how am I ever going to get out of this?

Sincerely,

Addicted 

Dear Addicted

Smoking is a complex habit. It is so much more than a physical addiction. There is a strong emotional component. It is therapy for some, as well as an association with daily routines, a nicotine dependence. A smoking addiction has tentacles that hold on tight to your body and your mind.

Sure, there may be all kinds of help out there, and your friends and family will jump for joy and support you, but the buck stops with you. You are the one who has to walk the walk and not have a cigarette after a meal, or after a phone call, or with a coffee. You need to get through this tough part and be prepared to put in the work –  and make no mistake, it is work.

On the bright side, there is help and support available. Most smokers desperately want to be rid of this dangerous habit and the hold it has on them. Start with your doctor for help finding the right aid to help you on your mission. Seek out reading material, online support groups, patches, gum etc.

This is your decision alone. Once you make it, you don’t have to go it alone. Tell people. It will make it more real and force you to be accountable. January 1, 2016 can be the beginning of a new experience, a new commitment and a new path for you.

Whatever it takes, you will never regret your decision.

I’m a Jew on Christmas

Jew on xmasDear Ella,

I’m bombarded with Christmas. Walking through a mall with all the Christmas decorations, walking the dog past the houses with Christmas lights, surfing the radio for a normal song or the TV for a movie without a Christmas theme, and even buying a cup of coffee in a generic cup, I am in Christmas sensory overload!

People are also in great moods. So why am I so sad? As a Jew, I can’t help feeling left out. I want to join in, too, but feel like my parents are admonishing me from their graves. I like the spirit of the holiday, not the religious aspect. It is a warm holiday at a very cold time of year. The point is, I feel guilty even thinking this way. I can’t be the only one feeling excluded, can I?

Sincerely,

Feeling Left Out

Dear Feeling Left Out

Living in Canada, you will always experience this all-encompassing holiday season. It’s the most lucrative time of year for businesses, so it’s very aggressively marketed.

The results are exactly as you describe. Everywhere you turn, Christmas is in its full glory. So what are you supposed to do? Nothing. Stop feeling guilty. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a beautifully decorated house. It’s pretty. The shows on TV are usually good and heartfelt, often with a family theme or a message. As for the tunes, they’re often toe-tappingly catchy. Unless you hibernate in your home without outside stimulus, you cannot avoid this season. Enjoying pretty lights doesn’t make you a bad Jew.

Jews everywhere experience the same feelings. Even Kyle from South Park has a song called A Jew at Christmas.

Chanukah usually falls around the same time of year, and we have the same feelings of gift giving and family spirit through our very own holiday. Lighting candles, family get-togethers, community programs, parties, latkes and gifts will satisfy this warm spirit you are missing. Don’t fight your way through this season. Live through it, enjoy the spirit of the season, and stop feeling guilty.