Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Building my own pedestal

I'm inspired to write this post after Alissa's empowering comment to my Impressing the world entry.

It's actually quite late, but I just came home from a meeting for the school where I work during the year... yes, in the middle of the summer. Not going to go into that right now. I'm inspired once again about how important it will be this year for me to set some very stern boundaries. Saying NO to myself and to others will be important.

Yes, I have a professional responsibility to the children who will be in my care this year. But I will have an even greater responsibility to my child and, yes, even to myself. I am the only one who can give THAT particular care to both of us.

So since the aforementioned entry, I have been trying to find a voice to talk back to the voices in my head telling me that so-and-so would do things differently. This is a constant dialogue in my head about how so-and-so would have a cleaner kitchen, wouldn't rest right now etc. I am answering back more and more in different ways.

One is that I tell myself my responsibility to my child and myself. (For example, to rest.)

Another is that I say I don't really know what other people do.

Another still is that we are all people, all essentailly equally, and all totally quirky compared to one another so that there is no way in which I CAN compare. (Like comparing different fruits, or fruits to veggies, or apples to hot dogs or whatever.)

The most personal tool I've been using is to ask a character (whose name I'll keep to myself) who I have invented and who represents my own internal knowledge, "What does SHE say right now?" I like that one the best. I need to keep it up.

All of these have helped me today to have a really good day.

Oh, and yes, I'm still a little sick, but it's not bad at all. Pretty much just a sore throat. Thanks to the above tools I rested quite efficiently yesterday and today was able to function almost up to pregnant-lady par. If I'm going to keep it that way, I need to go to bed now.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sick record

Way back when I promised myself I'd see how long I could go before getting sick again. The last time was just a tiny little blip back in May. As always, I wish I were not sick right now, but I'm pleased with myself for making it at least two months, depending on how you count. Let's see if I can squish this by taking it easy today.

Labels:

Saturday, July 29, 2006

impressing the world

I'm not feeling great physically. Could be a cause, an effect, or unrelated to my recent crabbiness. Also very likely related to a week of runny noses at the backyard camp and a depleted immune system due to pregnancy. Just maybe.

Lately it's been getting harder and harder to get around physically. I'm at 22 weeks (I think) and my respiratory system just behaves differently. My body flat out said, "enough" early at the gym recently, and I don't get far on walks. My legs are tired and are a little sore much of the time too.

I'm not complaining about this. Easy enough to deal with and it forces me to relax a little.

But the only time I've ever felt anything like this was with my cancer treatment. I remember a few times then where in the days just after a chemo I might go for a walk and literally take 20 minutes to walk from one end of the block to the other and back... and I felt so proud I could do it at all!

When I was sick, everyone was in awe of me and I was on this weird sick-lady pedestal. Now I'm one of the few around this area who has never been pregnant. People have been very nice, asking often how I'm doing and reminding me to take it easy, but I'm nothing special right now.

The truth is, I find that a little hard. (Yes, I like people to be impressed by me.) It's hard work to be relatively insignificant. I'm learning how to be okay with it and remind myself then how much worth everybody has.

Honestly, I'm not learning very well right now. I'm tantruming a bit about it here and there, but at least I can be honest about those feelings on the blog. Do celebrities get upset when people stop recognizing them on the street (at last)?

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 28, 2006

Children and adults

When I am with kids I tend to feel self-confident, in control, relaxed, happy, love, loved and creative.

When I am with adults I tend to feel judged, self-conscious, afraid, tense, uncertain, embarrassed and withdrawn.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Gratitude

I've been thinking now about what I really wanted to say in that last entry and I've found a new way to say it, I think.

There are many things that I have in this world, that not everyone has, that in fact I may not have always had, nor may I necessarily have them forever. I want to be grateful for all of them. I become distracted from doing this when I become bitter about other people's wealth.

Why do I feel bitter about it? I don't think it's that I want a Lexus or a mansion like so many people in this geographical area have, but I do become upset about how many parents can't make the choice to enjoy life with their children at home because they simply can't afford to be with them. It's been a major decision to decide to work part-time next year so that I not only don't go crazy with a hectic work life and a newborn, but also so I can enjoy it. I've seen others have to struggle with this same decision so often, and it's heartbreaking that it has to be this way. When people are struggling with this, it is insulting to see people who are fortunate to have wealth, display it so visibly by owning major things like cards and houses that look fancy, just so that they can.

On top of that, I'm learning just how small a salary people make when they work with children, and it's just not right.

That said, I've been working hard to redesign my work and home life. I have recently learned that between family and finances, you really can't have it all, but I'm trying to find a way to have as much as I reasonably can.

With that in mind, here are just some of the things I'm grateful for:

Even with worries about money, we are wealthier than most of the world and do not have to worry about starving.
We are healthy.
We are expecting good things.
We have supportive families.
That there is a "we."
I have the time, experience, inclination and discipline to do yoga and meditate daily.
I believe in God.
I believe that ultimately my life will make complete sense.
I believe that I have a personal mission (though I haven't completely named it) to fulfill. Currently this is being played out in a career that helps other people.
I have natural skill, patience and compassion for working closely with children.
I am following a career that uses that skill, patience and compassion.
I generally trust myself with words, both spoken and written when I know what I want to say.
I love to write and am skilled enough that others are interested in my work (and sometimes pay me for it).
I have a small but loyal blog-following.
My friends are good people.
I am a good and ethical person.
We have a spacious apartment in a safe and nice-looking area of the world.
I love and respect nature and live close enough to visit small patches of it.
I have free time.
I am able to sleep enough.
I have a Jewish community locally and friends that I can turn to elsewhere.

There is more, but it's time for me to daven instead of write about it further.

Labels: , ,

Righteous rage

One really great way to prevent sleep is to lie awake in the early morning hours and think raging thoughts about the world around you.

Yesterday at the camp that I run we had a petting zoo. A neighbor pulled up in her car to come partake. She got out of the car and just left it running for 5 or 10 minutes. If she's so keen on seeing nature and showing it to her kids, why is she wrecking it so carelessly?

The rest of this post originally had some further discussion of the lifestyle of wealth around me, partly in reaction to Alissa's comment in my post More Feelings that she certainly hopes people aren't judging me by my income.

I edited several times and then finally deleted it because I'm not sure if I'd be saying anything hurtful. It may come out at another time in another way on this blog.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 24, 2006

Israel vote

A friend sent me the message below. It's hard for me to know how much impact something like this really has, but it only takes a second to vote anyway, so please do so:

Israel is losing the CNN vote.

We must vote for Israel on the CNN web site.
This survey is shown all over the world, and will have a strong impact on the world public opinion,
Go in to the following link' roll down to QUICK VOTE, and vote yes' for supporting Israel action.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/07/14/mideast/index.html
Pass it on to every one you know.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

More feelings

Had a difficult Shabbat. Raging feelings of loneliness. It's not unlike me to feel this way in the world as I always tend to overthink my friendships with people and feel afraid to reach out, but the pregnancy doesn't help both in terms of hormones and fear of isolation.

Some other factors:

My schedule is wonky right now. I work very hard from 9-1 each day running a backyard camp for about 9 2-year olds, and then come home to nap and find myself with an empty afternoon and no car. (U. thankfully has a new job 3 days a week upstate which leaves me a little stranded.) Yes, I could bus, but it has been quite muggy and there are not that many places worth going to unless I know I can see someone. I'm finding it more and more difficult just to walk places, heat or no heat. Also, I have a lot of things at home I keep telling myself I want to do, but it's hard to just be home alone. I don't think I'll ever be good at it.

Was stood up by a friend this week. I'm sure it was for a good reason, but I haven't heard what yet.

Have not been sure who to call to invite to do things with. Trying to be braver about this. At least I have a few more things scheduled this week including my first real learning session with a new Torah partner, a writer's group at the library, and hopefully a prenatal yoga class.

Sometimes I feel like the only way people can relate to me in shul is that I take care of their children. And I realized that of the 4 of us at shul that I know are teachers, I'm the only one who works with kids from the shul itself. I suppose it's better than not being noticed, but I take on a different role as the children's teacher than as another shul member. Both plusses and minuses to this, I suppose. On one hand, I think the parents are grateful for the work I do. On the other, I can't help but think they all know teaching doesn't pay too well, and I'm not sure if that in any way lessens the respect I receive. (The opposite question of course is whether or not I respect them enough for NOT working with children.)

In any case, I allowed the lonely feelings to go through, and U. was a good listener. He certainly is an antidote for loneliness, but I need women friends too, and in person, not just online. In any case, I'm feeling better at least for now. After Shabbat U. showed me this new Where The Hell Is Matt? video roaming the web that just seems gloriously cheerful to me.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 20, 2006

How can I say this nicely?

It might be that I have a lot of time on my hands right now, and that it's at my worst time of day, which is afternoon. But I think it's just as likely to be hormones.

I feel very angry much of the time now, and it's not always for the most noble of reasons. I do think everything I'm angry about is legimitate, but maybe not in quite the same proportion as the frustration I feel.

Labels:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Torah infertility

I have so many friends who have difficulties having children for whatever reasons and often they don't get the support they need from the Jewish community. We as a community are very family-based, and this can be difficult for someone who can't get it on it whether they are single, or have medical problems or whatever.

I belong to a local listserv that sends out announcements for local classes, furniture for sale etc. within the Jewish community. I was impressed to see a series of classes being given locally on this topic by some sensitive-sounding people. I wrote to them to thank them for their work and they responded by telling me about their organization A T.I.M.E. (Torah Infertility Medium of Exchange) I felt the best way for me to support them is by mentioning them on here.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 17, 2006

A little art on the side

At the beginning of the summer I said I would write for an hour each day.

Ha.

For the first time in days I just got around to doing a little and all I managed was to revise one poem from a big stack I have on my desk.

On NPR today I heard this story about The Long Tail Of Sales. In a nutshell, what interested me was that with internet selling things like music online, store owners do not need to just stick to big pop music to make money because they don't have a limit on shelf space. In other words, there is a place in our word for the obscure and less popular. One thing he mentions is that most musicians are not musicians full time. So you sell a little here, a little there. You don't need to make it your life. If I can publish one article a year to a market I know how to write for, I can feel quite satisfied with how I'm doing with the professional part of my writing life, and I'm happy too with the writing I do for fun.

How reassuring!

Labels:

Friday, July 14, 2006

Israel

Following up on my last entry...

There is a limit to the number of things anyone can do to support Israel and its current situation, but there are still things to be done. Here are the things I will be doing. Normally I take on things like this in private, but I want to support Israel by encouraging others to do the same. (So technically, THAT is action #1.)

2. I very very rarely read tehillim (psalms) but am going to take on doing that with my davening each day.

3. Also, some extra learning.

3a. I was going to write a bit about this already, but now I'm motivated to do it in honor of this crisis. I recently received an email encouraging me to study Shmiras HaLoshon, or the laws of proper speech. Doing so helps on the practical level of helping us to behave more ethically towards each other and to be more aware of our own impact on the world. Some say that it has sort of an extra impact too of causing less visible repair in the world. You can study it very easily to through visiting the Chofetz Chaim website and subscribing to receive one or two laws each day by email to learn very quickly.

3b. I'm also trying to set up a chavruta (Torah learning partner) through Partners In Torah. I admit that particular group is not for everyone, but I've worked with them in the past and have spent a year feeling very disappointed that I haven't developed any regular learning. Again, I was going to do this already, but I'm doing it now because of the situation.

4. I'm not sure what else I'll do. There are organizations I can donate money to including but not limited to Magen David Adom (the Israeli Red Cross). I may go so far as to write a letter to President Bush thanking him for his support of Israel. That would take a HUGE conflicted effort on my part as I have major major issues with him in every other area. However, Israel needs U.S. support right now, and he gives it.

Labels: ,

Duality

Just a quick note...

I'm feeling conflicted this morning, good and bad in both hands.

I've had a wonderful week with a great first week of my summer job, the ecstatic experience of the ultrasound this week and another success that I'll share later on...

and at the same time, things in Israel are bad bad bad and it's scary as hell.

A number of months ago I was feeling so happy about my pregnancy and then U. had a really bad day. I remember I woke up in the middle of the night and went to meditate on whether or not it was really okay for me to be happy when things were not good for him too, and of course I also thought again about people who want to be mothers and can't right now. I tried to focus on how G-d has chesed and gevurah simultaneously... what feels like good in the right hand and bad in the left.

I guess that will be my meditation again this morning.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

20 weeks

Had my 20 week midwife/doctor appointment today. It was wonderful.

One thing I need to keep in mind about it is that I am now under doctor's orders to put my feet up as often as I can. It has to do not only with my swelling feet and need to rest, but more importantly with getting enough circulation to the baby. He said that babies born in European countries tend to be healthier because women take more time off before the birth. If we would just learn this, the public would get back the money it loses from having women take time off, by having fewer babies in the hospital. He said ideally I should rest for an hour every 3 to 4 hours.

"ME?!?!?!?!" I wanted to ask.

Being as busy as I tend to is not out of necessity. It's a means of proving myself, unfortunately. After all, everyone else is super busy too and my work environment certainly demands it unless I really put my foot down, or up in this case.

I have to learn the following mantra, "Being a good mother means slowing down right now."

In the meantime, for your viewing pleasure, this picture was taken about a week ago. I wore this new outfit to my supervisor's daughter's wedding. (Yes, people wear black for weddings in this part of the world. And yes, I was in a good mood, even if I don't look like I'm smiling.)

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ye Olde Day Trippe

Today we went to Philipsburg Manor and learned about life in Colonial times.


We got to see a stone mill really work and see how barrels, firkins and hogsheades are made. (All look like barrels but are different sizes.)





We talked to this lady about herbal remedies and such, both useful and not-so-useful.



Looked at animals...


and scenery...

I'm proud of us for doing something neat on a Sunday other than housework.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Want to publicize your blog?

First I just have to note how COOL it is to live in a neighborhood where there are fireflies!

One of the pregnancy blogs I like to follow is called babyfruit.. I got a little curious about the woman who writes it and she's a published author, so I surfed around a bit through her various sites and found this. She's writing a book about blogging and is doing a virtual blog/book tour. You can get in on it if you send her an email.

I'm not sure what this would mean, ultimately. Do you think I should shoot her an email?

And just as an upcoming preview... a new card reader arrived in the mail for me on Friday. This means I'll finally be able to start posting pictures more regularly... starting tomorrow. I'm already getting veeeeerry sleeeeeepy.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 07, 2006

Making a living

One of the difficult decisions we've made in relation to the announcement in my last blog entry is that next year I get to work part-time. I'm absolutely thrilled about it. I know I'll still be incredibly busy with all of the changes coming up, but a full-time week teaching is just exhausting. I've been discovering that there are little things I can do on the side to make as much money in far fewer hours including tutoring which pays very very well in the east. I always feel conflicted about accepting this kind of money since I know that a lot of the kids who need it the most could never dream of affording it. On the other hand, this part of the country contains money and I might as well get in on it from those who can pay.

Yes, I feel guilty writing that, but it's what I've got to do now and does not preclude my making a difference in the world in other ways.

So on that note, I've been daydreaming this morning (and doing a lot of math) to figure out my ideal way of making a living in the next few years for fewer hours per week. Within my brainstorming is a dream I've had for several years but am very uncertain of how to realize and would love your help.

I want to teach meditation to kids.

I don't just mean teaching kids to sit and stare at the wall. That's for adults (and I do it every morning for at least 5 minutes, sometimes much more). But in addition to my own practice which is more extensive than what I've just described, I've done lots of reading about meditation with children and have sort of subversively brought it into classrooms before in the form of relaxation exercises, yoga and visualizations. This stuff works wonders and sometimes makes kids and parents fall in love with me. So it certainly seems useful.

On the west coast I think people would have loved to enroll their kids with me if I had ever gotten the courage to start a class. But that's the way the west coast thinks. The east does not think that way except, I guess, for some trendy New Yorkers. But all the more reason I think kids here NEED it. They run from this to that all the time. Kids in yeshiva have to do twice as much with academics with less time in the day and they are constantly rushing. So are their parents who often seem frantic and are talking on their cell. phones every minute. Many of these kids desparately need help with grounding themselves in all this chaos, and this kind of shift could pay off in the long-run with creating much healthier and more sensitive adults.

As for me, I only love some parts of teaching and want to make a shift. I love being with the children, but I wish I had more spiritual interactions with them and had to deal less with producing academic perfection. This is a long subject for another time and for professional reasons I probably ought not to write too much here. But I wish I could work with children more from the heart and less from the head.

So my very important question to you...

How can I market this? What should I do? If you have kids, what kind of ad would you respond to? I won't start doing this until I get a handle on my new life, but I want to start thinking about it now. It's such a lovely daydream.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Confession

I've been holding back.

While I've been talking about food and fireworks and birthdays, something else important has been going on.

I'm pregnant.

I'm very happy about it. This is something I've been wanting and something that I hope is also meant to be (regardless of my want).

But I've been holding back on the blog.

I have some good reasons for it:

One is that I read some other blogs of pregnant women and sometimes they irritate me. I guess it's because someone in that point in their lives can't help but be a little self-centered. It's a major change taking place, it's very spiritual as well as very physical, and it requires a lot of personal reflection that is sometimes awkward to watch from the outside. So I've felt unsure about expecting others to care about my journey.

Another reason is that some people don't tell basically for superstitious reasons. I don't even want to talk about this and my fears surrounding it. The truth is, I'm pretty scared about posting about this at all, but really want to be able to write on here about my experiences.

Finally, and this is very important, I have friends for whom pregnancy is a very very difficult issue and I don't want to hurt them. On the other hand, when I was sick, I remember people tiptoeing around me on some things that I would rather have heard directly, so I don't want to be hurtful or unreasonable by holding back either. I think I've tried to communicate either directly or indirectly already with most of the people who read my blog who might be affected in that way. If not, I apologize. I know this is extremely sensitive. In fact, as I've been wondering for the past few months how I would write about this, that was the main thing I want to discuss, but for now I'd rather move on.

On the other hand, anyone who looks at me now can tell.

So in short, that is my news. I feel afraid to share it, but, as I said, there is just so much I want to write and so far, thank G-d thank G-d thank G-d, all has gone well so far.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Webcam possibilities

I'm exploring the possibilities of my webcam. See my first blogging experience with it at my old entry about Member Canoe Day.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 03, 2006

3rd of July fireworks

Yes, you read that correctly. 3rd of July. I guess a lot of the towns around here want to host the fireworks, so they do it different nights. Tonight was local. Instead of going to the park early to get a good seat (concert started at 7:15) we waited until just before when the fireworks were supposed to start and drove down. We parked on the street in front of someone's driveway and just watched from there, ready to move the car if necessary. (Everyone was doing it.) It was a crowded active street and the fireworks were LOUD LOUD LOUD. I really enjoyed it. Usually I'm not into noise but I found these quite satisfying.

Pretty impressive finale. It looked like they just threw a torch into a box of fireworks to set them all off at once.

Labels:

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Food gone bad

Ironic that my last entry about the trip was about food. I'm home again now, but your trip to Texas did not end as we would have liked. All families have their issus and ours came to an uncomfortable head the day before we left. I'm not going to write any details here, as fascinating as they are, to preserve privacy of others.

I will say though, that one catalyst or maybe focus, of the conflicts that took place had to do with food. Keeping Kosher amongst family that doesn't is extremely delicate. I feel comfortable with the part about getting the food I need, but helping others see WHY you need it and that you have no judgment on them for having different needs is a nearly impossible task.

This is one of those situations I need to process away from the blog.

Labels: , ,