Sunday, September 28, 2014

Joyfully Busy in 5775

As the new year begins, I listen to all the sermons, teachings, thoughts from friends in New Year wishes, comforting words in quiet conversations in the hallways, and my own inner voice as I am guided in meditation.  The transition of the new year allows me an opportunity for transformation.  But to what?

This year brings a new professional challenge.  Excitement and ambition drive my creative energy daily and I am approaching this new role with hope, enthusiasm and thoughtful planning.  With this new position, I have received incredible support and love from family, friends, and colleagues.  This transition is clear to me.

Sitting in shul these past few days reminds me of how much I want to continue my Jewish Education.  Before the holiday, I took a Hebrew class to help me read a little better and therefore, I was able to follow along much better and feel connected to the service.  Still not enough.  I used much of the time trying to meditate and immerse myself in my own prayer both in English and Hebrew (when I knew it).  I felt vulnerable, open and emotional.  Following the services, the days were filled with family and friends.

But I didn't feel back at home until I walked into Shabbat Service on Friday night and then again on Saturday morning.  I know I should be trying to dig deeper and feel enlightened during the high holidays, but those feelings have come in the rituals of my expanding Shabbat experiences this past year.  High Holiday services evokes anxiety of expectation: What I should be doing at the service?  Am i doing it right?  Am I listening and am I getting the message?

This morning, I am back to myself.  Meditation and Shabbat service felt like a recalibration.  I'm renewed.  Perhaps it was the 3 days in total and it is all connected, but when I walked into shul on Friday and then again on Saturday, my confidence was back and sense of belonging was at its peak.

When I came out of the fog, I made this decision - no more "to do" lists.  From now on, I'm focusing on an "I did" list.  Celebrate my accomplishments, focus on my successes, baby steps to giant leaps.  This is how I will take an active part in my transformation - reflect on results and enjoy the experiences as they come.

5775 - I'm going to be busy, joyfully busy and I am looking forward to every sermon, teaching, guidance, friendship and connection that will help me grow.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hello 5775

As the Jewish New Year begins, I find myself with mixed emotions.  Tonight, our family celebrated alone.  I worked today, we took our son to the doctor, we grabbed lunch, and then I took my daughter to her piano lesson.   An ordinary day.

After the piano lesson, I went to pick up the special kugel I bought thinking that I might cook a nice dinner for the holiday, but it didn't happen.  My daughter and I had an interesting conversation about how we observe Judaism and why my insides don't match my outsides.  How is it that we are so connectedly Jewish outside our home and to our community, but once we step in our house, we are struggling to find our Jewish spirituality in our home.

I have been on a path of learning for the past 10 years, more seriously the last 3 years.  Meditation, Torah study, conversations with Rabbis, and even a little Hebrew to give me more confidence.   I see this only growing.  I love going to shul to be part of the community and it gives me great joy and satisfaction.  My husband is on a path also, engaged in the community and as a teacher at a Jewish school.  My kids go to a Jewish day school and get a beautiful and rich Jewish education.

We are all immersed in the Jewish community and yet, inside our home, you could never tell.  Our home is not kosher; I cook for my family, but don't feel comfortable inviting others over to our non-kosher home; and frankly, our lives have been so busy outside the home that being at home alone is the only time I can relax.  There is not one answer.  I could easily bring in kosher food, cook only vegetarian and at least, invite over those I know won't care.

Something stops me.  Time, energy, insecurity, and life.  In 5775, I want more.  I want more than to be a guest.  I want to invite people in - to study, to share, and to eat.

And I will also forgive myself for creating a life that is busy within a community that I love so much.

Wishing everyone a year of growing, forgiving, and taking the opportunities that are given to you and making them special and important.

L'Shana Tova!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lessons in August and Welcome back September

 "August" - I needed to know what it meant.  It has been a very emotional month for me as I searched within myself for the answers to some questions.  These are the words that appeared when I searched Webster's Thesaurus.

distinguished, respected, eminent, venerable, hallowed, illustrious, prestigious, 
renowned, celebrated, honored, acclaimed, esteemed, exalted; great, important, 
lofty, noble; imposing, impressive, awe-inspiring, stately, grand, dignified

I was a bit surprised since these are not the words that I have been experiencing in the month.  If asked, I would have chosen words like vulnerable, raw, rustic, helpless, and soft.  August was always the month of dread - we didn't want summer to end, we didn't want school to begin.  August was also the sweet spot of the summer, forcing you to see the end of the fun and step into the next phase of your life.

And it did not fail me.  I did a lot of soul searching this month, deciding what is best for my family, looking to make decisions that are right for so many people (not an easy challenge).  I was at my most vulnerable, thinking and rethinking and overthinking all that could happen to my family if I did, if I didn't, if we did, if we didn't.

And then I asked for help.  Thanks to the guidance of good souls around me - I received the following advice  ( and I am paraphrasing as I heard it):

  • Don't worry so much about making the right decision, spend your time on how you will make the decision right.   (This spoke to me because I often think of decision as opportunities and not always as right or wrong.)
  • What does your mind, your heart, and/or your gut say?  Are all three voices aligned?
The final exercise that someone gave me was the following:  Pretend you are you a year from now, what letter would you write to your "today" self?  Here is what I wrote:

                           Dear Lori,
I am so happy that you made this decision - Good for you!! 
I know it wasn't easy, but I am so proud of you---

That letter I wrote to myself is now framed and will be sitting on my desk for quite awhile.  

So August turned out to be impressive, lofty, noble, grand and in my spiritual search, it has been quite awe-inspiring.  So thank you August for an intense, forceful, spirited and thought-provoking month.  I did more than survive it, I embraced it and held it close.  

Now in search of September and its meaning.  Happy September, may it be all you want in a month.