For most of her adult life, Dara Kurtz kept a Ziploc bag of letters written by her mother who passed away from cancer when she was twenty-eight years old. The bag also included other letters written by her long-departed grandmothers. Many times, when facing different life crises and turning points, she longed to talk with her mother and grandmothers to gain their advice and hear what they think about the life she had created for herself. This was especially true after Dara, like her mother before her, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of forty-two. For many years, the Ziploc bag of letters remained buried somewhere in her house as Dara feared reading them would bring back the pain and sadness she had worked so hard to overcome. For a long time, she never had the courage to find the bag and re-read these letters. Then suddenly, at the age of forty-eight, after a random sequence of very challenging life events, Dara remembered the Ziploc bag and finally felt courageous enough to open it and re-read them. These letters, written so long ago by the three Jewish women who had loved and raised her, brought Dara an unexpected sense of peace, love, and connection to her mom and her grandmothers. They brought back many beautiful family memories and refreshed her admiration for the women whom she had loved and lost. These letters gave Dara a glimpse into their lives and personalities at the time the letters were written. They offered her so much wisdom and relevance and taught her so many beautiful, life lessons that Dara decided to share their story, the incredible love between Jewish mothers and daughters, and the wisdom passed on from one generation to the next. As a mother, Dara has passed down these family traditions and wisdom to her two daughters, who now carry on the legacy contained in the Ziploc bag bridging the generations of women in their family. She unexpectedly discovered that this is best done through the lens of love and through the hand-written word. After being diagnosed with breast cancer herself at the age of 42, Dara left her 20-year career as a personal banker and financial planner to focus on a new career in writing, speaking and mentoring. Today her personal blog, "Crazy Perfect Life" (www.crazyperfectlife.com) reaches over 180,000 followers.
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I Am My Mother’s Daughter: Wisdom on Life, Loss, and Love