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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

11th Remission Anniversary

A very special one this has been so far.

I didn't know how to mark it really. Last year I sort of gave myself permission to stop finding enormous meaning in it. The chagim have just finished so I barely have had time to prepare in any way, and then I got this horrendous cold Friday night, right after Simchat Torah. I thought at first it was from all of the singing, but I was short of breath during some of the dancing in a way that meant more than just overexertion. ND and I were both up much of the night. As much as I rested through the weekend, I had fever Sunday night which is so odd for me! So I missed Monday and Tuesday of work.

Here's where this starts to turn. I spoke to my meditation teacher on Tuesday at 11:30 and as we spoke I went deep deep deep into my vulnerability again. I haven't touched this place much recently as I've been trying to be calmer about feeling illness. I remembered too that I often get sick at this time. I cried a lot. We had a very special conversation that I'm going to keep mostly to myself now.

But beautifully, when I got off the phone, I felt so much more energy! So good that today when I returned to work one of my other dearest friends said I just didn't look sick and said, "Your body always remembers, doesn't it? Now you know though that you can heal."

I got so much today. So many well-wishes, sometimes in the midst of little frustrations. To have someone sincerely wish me "from strength to strength" while I'm wrestling with a copy machine makes me zoom out in perspective rapidly and forcefully.

11 years I saw the ending of a renegade part of me -- a tumor -- tried to grow so fast that it could have killed me. I loved it out of existence (I know that sounds weird, but it was a part of me) and walked into life again. And here I am.

I don't feel fear or sadness or illness, guilt or shame today. Just love.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Throwing In The Towel

Sorry, but I'm just not up for it anymore.

Every year at Hoshanah Rabbah the rabbis tell us that it is a much forgotten holiday, that it has significance, that please please please they'd like us to come to shul.

On days like that what you see in shul is a group of men looking very awkward as they go through this very odd ritual of walking in circles carrying lulav and etrog, then flogging the ground with willow branches. It's supposed to be very very important and must be or else why would they do something that looks so odd.

I try to do what I'm asked to do. I try to listen to my rabbis. I try, especially so soon after the days of awe, to participate as fully as possible.

Our rabbi said once that part of what feels so good about Yom Kippur is that you know exactly what you have to do that day.

The last time I went to Hoshanah Rabbah, though, I was the only woman standing on my side, with no stage directions, no camaraderie. The awkwardness already present in the room was magnified for me by my having no one else to join me. So I didn't know what to do. You tell me one thing when you ask everyone to come to shul. You tell me something else when I'm left all alone.

I "lean in" frequently. I make myself feel simultaneously vulnerable, brave and pushy every time I go to kiss the Torah at shul and no other women do.

Many women have given up. They sometimes might say they just aren't interested, but I have never lacked interest in participating and I suppose many of them haven't either. They feel their presence is not wanted or they can't take the pain of isolation. I refuse to give up in most things. But in this way, forget it. It's just not worth that pain again. So this morning I davened at home and I'm trying not to feel as if I missed something.

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