Welcome to Ask Gail – a place to share questions and answers about what matters to us most: family, friends, community, health, peace, books, favorite resources, what feeds our soul… Ask Gail is also where we can create and share very important information like “Gail’s Guide to Going to the Hospital” and “Gail’s Storm Checklist.” Stay tuned for more…


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Survivors…a dance by Kayla Kuzniewski

Posted By Gail Ostrow on February 6th, 2014

Kayla choreographed and danced this piece as her final memorial project for our Literature of the Holocaust class Fall ’13.  She has been dancing with this group for over 10 years.  It is a powerful and moving piece.  Please feel free to pass it on.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.com

askgail blog wordle

Posted By Gail Ostrow on November 9th, 2013

Check out wordle.net.
This is a wordle I made this morning from my blog.

Posted in WHO KNEW?
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The Dance Hall

Posted By Gail Ostrow on August 17th, 2013

The air smells of sweat and beer and fiddle resin and every kind of perfume sold in the county. It hints at wet kisses later in cars or on back porches for the lucky single ones. The married couples will go home to bed—to sleep.

Dogs curl under tables and next to walls keeping out of the way of the moving feet. As the music builds to what they know is the last dance, heads up, noses twitching, they seek out the moving shape of master. Muscles begin to ripple under their skin, rearranging themselves to shift from relaxed and nearly asleep to alert, frisky, playful, or just plain happy to be going home.

The lone cat remains curled up under the bar, waiting for the noise to leave so she can stretch and hunt. She can’t work while they play. “Go away, go away, go away,” she purrs.

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Heart on the move…

Posted By Gail Ostrow on October 5th, 2011

I began my Clinical Pastoral Education program at Bridgeport Hospital yesterday where I will be learning and doing as a first-year chaplain intern from now until the end of April.

To learn more about the program, click here.  Wish me luck.

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Back to school…

Posted By Gail Ostrow on September 1st, 2011

The Bridgeport Public Education Fund makes books available to all first graders on the first day of school, so yesterday I read Memoirs of a Goldfish to 18 enthusiastic first graders.  The book is beautifully illustrated and it tells a  funny and sweet story about friends and family and community.   Such excitement and potential.  I am so juiced.

But I am also outraged.  (more…)

Posted in BOOKS, WHO KNEW?
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Happy V-Day 2011

Posted By Gail Ostrow on February 14th, 2011

One of every 3 women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.  Visit Eve Ensler’s VDAY site to learn what you can do to stop violence against women and girls.  Attend a V-Day production of  “The Vagina Monologues.”  Donate the money you would spend on Valentine’s Day gifts or dinner to helping stop violence against women and girls wherever it occurs—around the world or right in your neighborhood.

Watch Eve Ensler’s TED talk on happiness here.

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Once more to the lake…

Posted By Gail Ostrow on August 31st, 2010


Since my return from Beth’s 40th birthday gathering in WI, I have been at a loss to write about my experiences there.   Lots of conflicting and bittersweet feelings.  And some interesting surprises.

First, I finally got it that my daughter has three siblings.  There is of course her brother Richard, my oldest child.  Then, there is Nicholas, her 30-year-old half brother from her Dad’s second marriage.  And finally, there is Maddie, her 16-year-old half sister from her Dad’s third and current marriage.  I had never seen them all together before outside a picture frame.  But there they were—looking so much like each other and their father.  I saw my children as part of a larger constellation, one that I hope will offer love and stability and support to each of them.

The next thing I realized was how much of an accomplished horsewoman Beth is, and how big a part that plays in her life.  So no surprise that Beth wanted to commit to having a horse of her own.  When I left for home, I thought she was buying a 6-year-old horse from Sheila’s ranch.  But in fact she bought a beautiful 16-month-old Friesian/Arabian named Bela Luna, who will spend another year growing up in WI and will join Beth in San Francisco in the fall of 2011.

Bela Luna

I also felt the strong force field my ex-husband stays behind, and I had to let go of my hoped-for chance to sit and talk and kvell about our children, and maybe make amends to each other.  Through meditation and Al-Anon, I realized that I too had been a part of the breakdown of our marriage, and I wanted to tell him that.  Well, such are expectations—they easily turn into disappointments.

And how could I have forgotten how wondrous it is to canoe on a northern lake in the morning or evening and listen to the loons calling to each other.

Finally, I came to see in a moment of clarity that each of us was where we were supposed to be.  And how lucky I was that Robb was there with me, with us, with the children he has helped parent all these years.  The universe usually delivers but I am not always looking in the right direction.  At the lake, I was…

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International Literacy Day — September 8th

Posted By Gail Ostrow on August 30th, 2010

What does literacy mean to you? Can you imagine not being able to read your child’s homework or report card? A birthday or valentine card? A bus or train schedule? Driving directions? A prayer? The newspaper?

International Literacy Day focuses attention on worldwide literacy needs. More than 780 million of the world’s adults (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write, and between 94 and 115 million children lack access to education.


To view more information about the event, click here.

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I didn’t know I cared…

Posted By Gail Ostrow on May 19th, 2010

My daughter Beth is turning 40 in July and we are having a family reunion of sorts at a lake house in Wisconsin.  Robb and I, my son Richard and his son Jordy, Beth’s half-brother Nicholas and his partner Amanda, and Beth’s father Fred and his wife Trudy and their daughter Maddie will all be there.

I haven’t bought a bathing suit in years.  When necessary I wear an old tankini top and a pair of Robb’s bathing trunks–all very shabby chic and looking like I don’t care.  I also don’t wear shorts anymore.

In March we went to Mexico on spring break and I wore this boob and tumy reducing bathing suit I bought years ago.  The condo we stayed in was all windows and mirrors and there I was reflected, in all my old, square dumpiness, into infinity.   Oy vey, as my grandmother used to say.

I noticed that most of the women on the beach and in the pools—old, young, skinny, fat, white, brown, black–wore two-piece bathing suits, appearing to like and enjoy their bodies a lot more than I did.  One day sunning on the terrace in my bra and pants, I caught a look at myself in the glass and thought “I look better in my underwear than I do in that hideous bathing suit.”  So when I got home I went through the catalogs and ordered a new suit.

The package arrived and I was all for sending it back unopened.  Robb was unexpectedly curious and even excited.  “Come on, open it up, I want to see how it looks on you.”  There was even a moment when we each had an end of the package and were tugging on it.  So I tried it on.   And then I took it off, wrapped it up, and mailed it back.

It took a few hours for me to realize that this whole exercise in vanity was because I would be spending time with my ex-husband and I wanted to look good for him.   We were married when we were both young and beautiful.  But I’ve grown old with someone else and so has he.

If I go anywhere near the lake, I will be wearing a t-shirt and pants.

My hands are now blessed…

Posted By Gail Ostrow on May 4th, 2010

This week is National Nurses Week, and yesterday I attended an event at Norwalk Hospital, created by my friend and dharma sister Meg Burdett. Called “Nourishing the Nurses,” Meg gathered healing arts practitioners to offer chair massage, Reiki, singing bowls, acupressure, yoga instruction, reflection & intention writing, and even a labyrinth—all to remind the nurses to practice self-care.

The most moving part of the day for me was when I stood in front of Carol Bauer and her assistant Elaine Sleath, my hands held in prayer position above a beautiful white shell-shaped bowl. Carol asked me what I do. I said I am a teacher. She then poured warm water over my hands and asked G-d to bless these hands that labor for others and shape young minds and hearts. Her words washed over my heart as the water over my hands.  Her blessing was so intimate and immediate that I felt it flowing from the universe through her into the water and onto me.  And I wept.

Blessing of the Hands