Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mommies Know Best

You know that moment when you're out with friends, shivering, wishing you had listened to your mother and taken a darn coat?

Well that's happened to me. A lot. And with much bigger things than occasionally forgetting a coat.

Here's a list of some lessons – from my Mother – that I only learned to appreciate later in life...perhaps they'll come in in handy for you, too.

By the way, happy birthday Ima. You are truly the best.

  1. A tidy room is a tidy life:(I wish I could tell this to my High School self.) I learned that it's really not about the clothes strewn across the floor. It's the habit of keeping things in their proper place. I found that my mind is messy enough – I don't need a messy room, too.
  2. Be your own best friend: You always taught me to value alone time. Now, I can't get enough of it.
  3. Shop for quality, not quantity: Unfortunately, I cannot take back all the meaningless hours spent in Forever 21, buying clothes that unraveled soon after. Fortunately, now I know better.
  4. Find good deals but don't be cheap: The difference between the two is critical. I am now a thrift shop addict, but love buying others' meals and presents. The former does NOT negate the latter.
  5. Creativity is everything: Whether is was building junkyard sculptures on Rye beach or doodling bugs on restaurant napkins, we never lacked creative inspiration. I now seek creative solutions to all of my problems.
  6. Take good care of your things: You still have belts that you saved from the 1970's...good for me that hippy style is cool again. Perhaps in 30 years my daughter will want my awesome Genie pants.
  7. Minimize the things! You can't take stuff with you to the grave...and until then, things are simply a burden. Have a few things you love and refer to #6.
  8. Confront issues head-on. Don't wait until tomorrow. Deferring the issue exacerbates it, always.
  9. Don't be afraid to get deep: Even when I didn't feel like talking about the meaning of life over my morning Cheerio's, in the end, I was always glad to have had the conversation. Now, I'm the same way. Ive learned it's the only way to really get to know someone.
  10. Keep it natural: You were always way ahead of the kale-curve. No lunchables, Poptarts, or fruit rollups for me. Today, I am a very healthy human being. Not sure if was the 2 years of breastfeeding, the excessive amounts of Kale, or just good genes, but something you did worked.
  11. Say sorry: Sometimes it's the hardest thing to do, but it's always worth it in the end. Swallowing your pride → smaller ego → better relationships.
  12. Cry it out: Not once did you tell me to “suck it up,” or “grow this skin” when I was sad—quite the opposite. You sat with me while I cried and admired my sensitivity. Now I see my sensitivity as a strength and share my crying playlist with those who need it. If you don't have one, I highly recommend creating one, starting with “The Scientist” by Coldplay.
  13. Only depend on Yourself: In the end, it's all we've got. As much as we can trust others, being self-sufficient is the only way to ensure things will turn out as planned. After navigating NYC Subways and Condo laundry machines by age 13, I can confidently call myself a strong independent woman.
  14. Little creation of Hashem (G-d) ”: Calling me this instilled in me an innate sense of security. Feeling connected to something bigger than myself has helped me strengthen my intuition, sense of belonging, and find meaning in everyday life.

Ima--

Though I may not have gotten all of the Tiffany bracelets or Juicy sweatshirts I needed in Middle School, I got the stuff that really mattered. For these intangible gifts, I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Humble Warrior

Humble warrior 
The wind sings his tune; 

Flute whistling grace 
Shofar calling moon 

The earth, his fortress
protected by the trees 
Fueled by natures fire 
Safeguarded by the sea 

He drinks from the river 
Before he sets out to fight
A courageous mission 
To spread Hashem's light

He's propelled into duty 
When a song rings 
Inside 
And so begins 
The dance 
"The Warrior and his Bride"

The dance  
Is a marriage 
Physicality and Spirit 
He turns it to song
So others can hear it 

An alchemist of wisdom 
uses Truth as his shield 
Perseverance, his sword
So The enemy must yield

Yet
His mind knows not 
The enemy's face 
Like a candle flickers
Unaware
Of the darkness it displaced 

This warrior 
Is a vessel
Of Chesed loving-kindness 
Needs no ammunition 
Just intuitions guidance 

He is but one droplet
Though his impact ripples on  
Circles growing and unfolding
Mirroring the sun 

His warmth, it travels far 
the earth is born anew 
And when he wakes each day he bows 
To all that's good and True 


Friday, April 3, 2015

Free Yourself

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is miracle.”

This quote – said by the brilliant Einstein – is my mantra. Every since I discovered it while surfing the Internet one night (procrastination at its finest), it has been a guiding light for me.

It just makes so much sense.

It’s not really an inspirational quote, because it’s not a line that makes me strive for greatness or success. It’s not going to help me make my first million. (That will surely come from my first job in nonprofit).

Rather, it’s more of a perspective—a lens though which to experience the world. It’s a line I want to paint on my ceiling so I wake up always to the thought: Damn. It’s a miracle to be alive. It’s a miracle I’m free. My body is a miracle, my cells are miraculous, this whole thing we call living is one GINORMOUS miracle.

Tonight, I will kick-off Pesach with this sense of awe and gratitude; awe at the beauty of this country I live in, awe for my many blessings, and gratitude for the freedom I too often take for granted.

Yesterday, I met with a Holocaust survivor who now spends his days speaking to IDF soldiers and helping “lone soldiers" like myself.  When he found out my Garin was raising money, he added me on Facebook, gave me his number, and after I called him, he came to the Absorption center with a check in hand within two hours. 

I am always astounded when I witness the Holocaust-IDF juxtaposition. Yesterday, it hit me that my kids will never meet a man who survived the darkest persecution (because of his Jewish identity) beam with joy while handing a check to a volunteer soldier in the army of the Jewish state.

I am grateful to have bore witness to the stories of that generation, but to have been born into comfort and freedom.

Freedom.

It’s a tricky two-syllable, two-sided word.

On the one hand, I am pretty darn free. In America I was free to be a Jew. I had all the basic freedoms of democracy plus the freedom (due to a stable home situation) to pursue self-actualization, exploration, and spiritual development.

Then I was free to move to Israel, to express myself as a Jew here and take as many twists and turns and shortcuts and long-cuts as I please.

But then comes along Passover to remind me that - PLOT TWIST - we are never truly 100% free.

Yes, through the help of G-d and Moses we were freed from Egypt. And we have the Torah, which binds us to laws, morals, and rules to help us find spiritual freedom and elevation within physical boundaries.

Wait, that makes us free then, right?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, on the one hand, as Victor Frankl elucidates in his brilliant work Mans search for Meaning, we always have the freedom to choose our state of mind, no-matter how severe the physical deprivation.

Yet, despite this beautiful gift of choice, we are still only human. We are fallible. We succumb to superficiality. We let technology rule us and even worse—we let our critical minds dictate our moods, our behavior…essentially, our lives.

This year, I’m going to focus on freeing myself from “mental slavery.” Thank you Bob Marley, and Passover, for this brilliant and oh-so timely advice. Every year I strive to be more mentally free; to let go of attachments to future outcomes, to others' perception of me, to my own unnecessary self-criticism.

I am lucky to have the awareness necessary to really work on freeing myself, slowly but surely. One of the tools I find most helpful is relishing the present moment. It’s taking a pause – a holy pause – to notice the beauty in small moments. 

It’s due to this awareness that I noticed a sheet of paper hanging on my host family’s door yesterday. On this paper was a familiar quote:

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is miracle.”


Chag sameach to you all. May it be joyful, food-full, wine-full and miraculous ;)