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

Friday, April 24, 2009

In Retrospect

In a certain sense
this week
I'm afraid to say
I failed.

I wanted
wanted
to approach the week
serene

to be present
to be perfect
to the point
that the pressure

put me over
the edge

The moment that I
accept
a willingness to fail

will be the moment
that I succeed.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Chometz Is Back

We put so much work into getting rid of chometz before Pesach. (Chometz is the breads, pastas, etc. that we're not allowed to eat on Pesach.)

Now that Pesach is over, I've been going chometz crazy with cravings all over the place.

Some people say that chometz symbolizes ego. For me this year, as I've noted, it was more about taking time out to be present, not shoveling food into my mouth but rather appreciated food and everything else I have from this world... from Hashem.

Yesterday was the first day back at school. I'd been mentally compartmentalizing everything school-related. So within the first hour there I was FLOODED by the input of what I need to work on from phone calls to parents to planning to anecdotals to even thinking about next year! I really rushed through the day a lot, and wondered if I could call back any of what I did over my break.

I'm happy to say that I did retain some of that awareness. I didn't go on food hunts at all and I felt basically calm all day despite the rush. I also felt, particularly in the morning, like I was in tune with both my colleagues and my students.

I know I can't expect it to stay this good, but that's because everything we do in life is actually a cycle. I know I tend to think that I accomplish things and then they're done, but they always need revisiting, even in a different form. The biggest thing I want ot work on now is not WORRYING when the day is done. I work hard in order to reach a point weekly or daily of being able to relax and regroup. I had a hard time with that last night. I had to tell myself, "THIS is what I've been working towards."

I could go into that more, but I need to get ready for work!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pirkei Avot

I spoke to my grandmother yesterday who remarked that I haven't been writing much in my blog. Wouldn't it be great if I could commit to writing once a day, even for the next week? I know it's not realistic, but I can dream.

About ND: Today she went on a big kid swing for the first time. When she did that I felt like she would marry tomorrow and leave me. She also can go up and down stairs sometimes without holding on to anything now. She recognizes songs she's heard before even if sung by different singers. She loves to play with our next door neighbor and we walked with them to a park today. The kids ran most of the way and we taught them how to stop when we said, "Ready, set stop!" before intersections and driveways.

About Judaism: There is so much more Torah learning here than there have been in any of the other places I've ever lived... at least in theory. Not much is happening in my community and I don't have time to go to classes during the week. It's traditional during the 7 weeks from Pesach (about leaving Egypt) to Shavuot (about receiving the Torah from Mount Sinai) to study Pirkei Avot. I'm tired of waiting for others to deliver it to me and tired of complaining. So I spontaneously sent out an email last week inviting people to learn here in my house. I've learned enough about Pirkei Avot in other contextx to start a conversation although I can't really teach about it well. So basically 2 people came and we had some great discussion.

The interesting thing is that before, during and after I felt incredibly self-conscious and anxious to be in this kind of leadership position of actually inviting others over to learn. I just have trouble setting things up and then taking the blame for imperfection, should any blame be placed.

All the more appropriate Hillel's quote,
If I am not for myself who will be for me? Yet, if I am for myself only, what am I? And if not now, when?


One part of that means, be who you are. No one else can do it for you.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Pesach 5769

This was a fabulous Pesach that ended just last night, but already I'm racing to get ready for Shabbat.

These whole two weeks were a big meditation as I referred to in my last post. I've been thinking constantly about time and how we approach each moment. For example, here I was with 2 full weeks off from work, but I spent the first few days laboring harder than ever to prepare for an 8 day holiday. Really... for those of you who may have never witnessed Passover preparations, I had to actively force myself to put aside time to eat. And those of you who know how much I valued my sleep... well, I didn't get my 8 hours every night.

In any case, all along I really valued it and didn't feel the need to complain. I remember once explaining to a Christian religious studies professor at Oberlin from whom I was learning about Utopian Societies. He was an expert in monasticism. I told him my paper would be late because I had so much to do in preparation for Pesach. I described to him the cleaning and contact papering that was going on in my dining co-op. I said, "There's no way I'm getting any work done." He stared at me almost jealously and said "but it's a different kind of work you're doing."

I try to take that to heart every year. I passionately love this holiday because of the preparation. I just feel so much like I've earned a full experience and not just another series of days in shul or at a table eating.

And I was careful about how I spent that tedious time. I put aside time too for Torah, actually preparing content to discuss at the seder. We went out the first night, which was great. But on the second night we led our second seder ever and it was fabulous. Two of the people there were so eager to discuss the Haggadah. And those that weren't so eager to discuss, listened patiently. (Meanwhile ND played with their three year old until 2 AM! And they both participated in the seder when they could.)

No one had far to go after the seder, which was nice. Two stayed the night and all the rest either lived or were staying next door.

But that aside... the work paid off.

So here I am... today was my last weekday of vacation. There is so much I wanted to complete, and of course, I couldn't do it all. I also wanted to have fun time and social time, but it didn't all happen.

I'm still trying to just be happy in every moment whether or not it's what I planned. Echart Tolle, author of The Power Of Now takes an entire book to explain the act of knowing that all that exists is now. The future and past no longer or do not yet exist. I still need to process a lot of what he says. The past and future matter a lot and I need to learn now where to sort of "place" them in my life. And something Torah says will have to come before something Tolle says, obviously. But I'm exploring it.

Either way... I keep wanting to complete things and have them stay completed. One of those things is housework. Everything else is just like housework. So while I have so much more to say, Shabbat is on me NOW and I need to stop and accept the moment.

Leaving things undone.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Once In A Lifetime


This photo is being added on April 14... this is from the events listed below. It shows ND, me, the sun, and the chometz burning...

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Today is a very special day.

1. It's Erev Pesach. Very exciting. It comes once a year. This year is special because we're leading our own seder for the 2nd time ever on the 2nd night. One of the things I want to talk about at the seder is that we're not just telling the story of something that happened long ago, but making history by continuing the story... sitting together and using that act of sitting together as testimony of a relationship with G-d that began long ago.

2. Today we said Birkat Hachamah, a blessing on the sun that is said only once every 28 years.

3. It is even rarer that Birkat Hachamah and Pesach coincide.

4. On top of that, what few people know, is that it's NATIONAL ANT DAY TOMORROW!!! (Do a search for ant day on my blog. I don't have time to link it. Sorry.)

What do we do with all this? Well, I'm excited as all heck for all of it and had a great time taking ND with me VERY EARLY this morning to do the bracha and also to burn chometz at the shul. I'll post a picture once I find time and my cable for downloading photos.

But I'm thinking about Once in A Lifetime opportunities. They're exciting and there's the urge to grasp at them and snatch them up as super special.

But every moment can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I know this already and know it even more as I mature as an adult and especially now that I'm a mom.

I'm currently reading The Power Of Now about living in the present moment. U. and I watched Synechdoche, New York too. It's incredibly uncomfortable but also very profound. It hasn't been consistently well-received and, again, I was terribly uncomfortable -- almost nauseous -- during it, but have decided I really loved it. I think about it constantly. Both the book and the movie -- one fresh and enlightening and one deeply painful and artistic -- are about loving life and experiencing it fully.

So today I was really excited for Birkat Hachamah, but I tried not to grab at it. Just show up, experience it joyfully, and go on to the next thing joyfully too.

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