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For These I Mourn

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How do I mourn for a place I’ve never been, a structure I never saw, in a time I never lived? Those are the thoughts that have been on my mind the last three weeks. What does it mean to mourn the destruction of the temples? I am only at the beginning of my Torah journey and my understanding, but I’ve had a few thoughts about it.

Without a temple we are scattered. We can find community within our individual temples and synagogues. We can worship together with others. But when I thought of the destruction of the temples, I thought of the destruction of unity among all those with a soul for Torah. Where do we go to be unified? And we see that we are not. Not in thought, not in action, not in heart. I mourn for the inability for all of us to be together, in physical proximity, in the land that is ours.

There are mitzvot we can no longer do because they require the Temple and it is not there. It feels like praying without a minyan. Incomplete. G-d hears the prayers that I pray when alone. And He sees the mitzvahs we are able to do, and honors them. But just like the prayers we can’t pray without a minyan, so it feels when we are not able to do what G-d has commanded we do when there is nowhere to perform those acts.

The mourning of the three weeks is not just about mourning the temples. There are other things that happened against the Jewish people historically during these three weeks, and in the nine days of the month of Av. And there continues to be plenty to mourn for today. Look around you and I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to find something to mourn for. Recently as I listened to a teenager speak, I was reminded of all there is to mourn for. Generations that have come so far from their intended target. The lives we live so hollow and dishonoring to who we were created to be. We have strayed so far from holiness and have lowered our standards to nothingness. We are quick to hurt each other, and slow to love. Indeed, there is much to mourn for today.

The Sages taught, “Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times” (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1a). And therefore, I mourn the destruction of the temple. I mourn that it hasn’t been rebuilt. And the words in the Amidah ring ever so strongly in my heart.

“May it be your will, Adonai our G-d, and the G-d of our forefathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt, speedily in our days. Grant us our share in Your Torah, and may we serve You there with reverence, as in days of old and in former years. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to Adonai, as in days of old and in former years.”

 

For those reading this blog who are interested in a further explanation of Tisha B’Av, the three weeks, the nine days, and the history and significance of this time, you can find information here

 

Written by No More Tomorrows

August 5, 2014 at 11:46 am

Posted in Being Mindful, Grief

F is for Freedom

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I remember saying that the word for the year 2014 would be freedom. Little did I know in how many different ways that would ring true.

I meant financial freedom and freedom from a job. Not that I would have necessarily built my business big enough to be out of debt and able to quit my job, but that would be the focus for this year, to work towards that end. It still is, only now I have my husband to double that effort with.

But then came April, and another meaning to the word. It was my first year celebrating Pesach (Passover). I’ve started learning and observing various jewish practices. Pesach was the first holiday I experienced. It is a remembrance and celebration that the curse of the first born child being killed among all those in Egypt was not carried out to first borns in Jewish households. It is also a celebration of the Jewish people being led out of captivity from Egypt. I thought again of freedom.

And finally a much bigger meaning that this word has come to mean this year is in regards to all that I am learning about Jewish law and practice. Growing up I always saw all the laws of the Torah as being restrictive, “old-school”, irrelevant and enslaving. It is easy to see that when one looks towards them as individual rules rather than a collective whole. But as I have begun to understand them in context and with the idea that they’re not designed for restriction but for freedom. The freedom to draw near to my Creator and to be closer to holiness.

I had heard of a study done about children playing on a playground with a fence and then playing again after it was removed. I went searching for a source and found several articles that referenced the study, but none that clarified the source. The study concluded that when the fence was in place, the children would play freely, knowing exactly where the boundary was, and feeling safe within the boundary. When it was removed, they would stay closer to the building or their teacher and not venture as far.

Having no fence held them back from experiencing a feeling of freedom.

For a long time I threw around the word “legalism” and scoffed at people enslaved by some old code and tradition they didn’t have to follow anymore. But who was I to say what people had to and didn’t have to follow any more? Who are any of us to edit out parts of the book many of us claim to be holy and inspired? What I have found in Orthodoxy is more freedom than I ever had trying to do things my own way. I know the bounds I can live within for health, for a blessed marriage, for safety and favor. And for holiness. It isn’t legalism. It is life. It is my freedom.

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August 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm

D is for Discipline

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I am participating in #tellyourstory2014. You can read about it here. I love this exercise. 2014 is the year of my breakthrough.

Not that I will have “arrived”. Just that there are things I’ve been trying to get hold of for awhile and this is the year it is going to happen. At that point, at the end of this year, those things that I have standing in my way, once removed will give way to the next things. There are things on the other side. Things for me to learn. Ways for me to grow, in things I can’t imagine, in areas I don’t even know I need to.

A recap so far.

A.. Attention, giving instead of seeking. Being others focused more than I am me focused.

B…Bravery, doing what makes me afraid.

C…Consistency , Still a daily struggle.

D..Discipline, AND finding joy in it.

A mentor did a talk on the joy of the disciplined life. It sounded much like me when he spoke of his past. Straight C student, waiting until the last minute to do homework.  He changed. Now he mentors others on many subjects. He teaches people to be successful. He is a multi-millionaire. I counsel with him and have access to learn what he learned. I must take him up on that.

Too many people talk about discipline like it’s a bad thing. Boring. It leaves no room for imagination or exploration. But it does. You can schedule those times. One thing I am working on in the area of discipline is to plan meals 15 days at a time. Then I spend one day making all of the meals. It takes about an hour to shop, 3-5 hours to cook, and then I don’t have to think or plan the rest of the 15 days on what I am going to eat, or take the time to cook it. It’s a time saver.  I wonder how much time we spend wasted on decisions because we are going for what we feel like in the moment. I am working on getting to the place where food is food.  It’s my nourishment and my fuel.

One thing my mentor advises is to sit down each night, write a list of what you have to do the next day, and place beside it the time that you’re going to do it. It helps to consistently fit things in the same time each day if your schedule is one that mostly stays the same.

The meal plan I am succeeding at pretty well. The list making and accomplishing I am failing at pretty well.

Consistently disciplined. It is at the heart of my goals for this year.

What is your D?

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March 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Being Mindful, Lessons

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C is for…

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“Be Consistent.

Expect Consistency.

Respect Consistency.”

I must say, I have always been pretty good at expecting consistency. Isn’t that the case? Isn’t it always easier to hold someone else to a high standard than it is to grow ourselves? I will admit though that my last relationship sort of wore that down a little. Okay, you said you’d call be back and a couple days later you still haven’t. The first few times were disappointing. The next few made me angry. Then finally I just stopped expecting it. “Let me call you back” became the equivalent of what “How are you” is in our daily lives. Just meaningless words. It was a way to end the conversation, not a promise of action. Recently I’ve been communicating a lot with a dear friend that I would like someday to be more. After becoming used to “I’ll call you back” meaning nothing, imagine my surprise when my phone rang and it was him! And then it happened again. And again. I had forgotten what it was like when someone follows through on his word to me.

This person is the same one who quoted to me, “Be Consistent. Expect Consistency. Respect Consistency.” His mentor quoted it to him, and I don’t know if his mentor read it somewhere or if it was a product of his own thought. But I wrote it down and I think about it often. We’ve already covered the expecting consistency part.

I struggle with being consistent. If you look back over this blog that will become evident. Promises made. Grand gestures that I couldn’t follow through with. A failed relationship in which neither one of us were consistent. Roller coaster emotions that make me think short term instead of into the future. Failing to follow through on my goals. When it comes to my promises to others I have a little easier time being consistent. But when it comes to promises I make to myself, and goals I set to change my life, there’s a lot of back and forth. And that is something I am striving this year to really change. It isn’t something that I will probably ever be perfect at. Who is? But it’s truly something I find value in. Because I know how important it is when someone follows through with me, I want to hold myself to that same standard. In being consistent to my goals, I will get further. What good is it to work out for 2 hours one day if I don’t work out again for a few weeks? What if it was just 15 minutes a day? Wouldn’t the habit of 15 minutes a day consistently over a year make a bigger difference than 2 hours every couple weeks?

Okay, so we know to expect consistency. And we know it’s best to be consistent. But what about respecting consistency? Do you acknowledge when you’re on the right track? Do you acknowledge and appreciate when someone is consistent with you? Perhaps the problem with all of this is that we don’t respect consistency. We don’t make it a priority. Our friends will understand if we can’t follow through with something. Our family loves us anyway. Is that an excuse? Does it make it okay to let people down because they understand and love us anyway? Do you respect the consistency? Or do you just expect it without offering anything in return?

 

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February 4, 2014 at 10:34 am

Posted in Being Mindful, Lessons

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How do you measure a year?

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“You never know the biggest day of your life is the biggest day. Not until it’s happening. You don’t recognize the biggest day of your life, not until you’re right in the middle of it. The day you commit to something or someone. The day you get your heart broken. The day you meet your soul mate. The day you realize there’s not enough time, because you wanna live forever. Those are the biggest days. The perfect days. You know?”  Izzie, Grey’s Anatomy

 

I don’t know if I would say that was necessarily the biggest day of my life, but it was sure one of my top 5. It was the day I met a man who would forever change my life. I wrote about our first date here. It was one year ago today.

The year has been quite a year, that’s for sure. We had a good couple of weeks right away and then two months of not seeing each other. It was my fault. I did something dumb, and that could have been the end of that story, and I’m not sure who I would be right now if our story had ended there. But something brought him back to me.

I had seen people go from relationship to relationship without being able to be single. That wasn’t me. I spent my life being single, something that at times I hated, but I also am so glad I took the time to be alone with myself and figure out who I was. I didn’t get distracted with someone else, I was able to grow me, and be at peace with me.

That doesn’t mean I was perfect. Through this relationship I have learned so much more about myself, lessons that could only come from navigating through a relationship and figuring it out. It’s not been easy. But it’s been worth it all.  I’m not an expert on relationships, not by any means, but I believe that by being open to change, and by allowing myself to learn, that I am able to pass a few things on to others that might help.

Things I know for sure:

Women and men have forgotten what it means to be ladies and gentlemen. Our first date, he yelled at me for opening all my doors. He told me he doesn’t look at other women when he’s with his lady. I figured that was a line, but then I saw him back it up. When we are together, he looks at me. He doesn’t struggle with not looking other places, he just doesn’t do it. I see that it’s natural. I watched him in a store once when I was out in the car. He was surrounded by women, and he never looked at any of them. (And trust me they were all looking at him, because he’s hot.) He’s truly a gentleman. He treats me like a lady. He opens doors, carries in my groceries, checks the oil in my car, takes my coat from me and hangs it up. He lets me be a lady.  In fact, he expects it. It’s not some misogynistic outdated gender roles he forces on me. It’s just the standard he holds himself to. And in him being a gentleman, it naturally forces me to be a lady.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communicating effectively means knowing when to speak up and when to shut up. Sometimes we have a disagreement and he pushes me to talk about it, because he cares about my feelings, and wants to know what’s on my mind. And sometimes he doesn’t want to talk, and doesn’t want to hear what I have to say, because what I’m saying isn’t constructive. Women, sometimes we need to shut up. Truly. Some things are not important to be said. If we’re overreacting about something, and making something about us that isn’t about us, we don’t need to vocalize that and bring negativity into our space. Some things really can just be let go. Talk about things that are important, but sometimes, remember to shut up.

Independence should only be exerted when single, not when in a partnership. I can change my own oil, fix my own toilet, take things apart and put them back together. I don’t need anyone to do it for me. That independence has carried me a long way. But exerting that kind of independence in a relationship would destroy it. If I want him to be my partner, I need to let him do the things that are important to him to do. Refer to my first point about being a lady and being a gentleman. If I never let him do things for me, he’d start to feel unimportant pretty quickly. So I don’t need him to check my oil for me. But I ask him to do it before I leave town, because it allows him to do something to take care of me, and that is what fulfills him in the relationship. Not exerting my independence does not mean I have become weak and needy. He’d run away fast if that were the case. He likes my intelligence and my ability to stand on my own two feet. He knows if we were to have a family and something were to happen to him, I could take care of our family. He is attracted to my strength. So I choose to be softer, and let him be a man.

 

 

The most important lessons in life, are not easy to learn, and do not come without pain. We have had some difficult conversations. And he has said some things to me that are hard to hear. It’s something that I love about him that he won’t beat around the bush, he cuts straight to the issue. My being the emotional person I am, it’s sometimes hard to take that, but I wouldn’t have him any other way. He has taught me to cope with my emotions, to master them so they don’t master me. Emotions aren’t bad, but nobody should live by them, and sometimes I’m guilty of gut reactions instead of thinking through things. He doesn’t coddle my irrational emotions. I’m a Cancer, and a woman, I have a lot of them. He’s a Gemini and a man, he doesn’t understand them.  Good relationships will teach you important lessons about yourself, and other people, if you are open to learning and bettering yourself.

 

Life is short. Have fun always. That is a pretty easy one. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills. Laugh a lot. Smile. Don’t hold grudges. Don’t pick fights. Enjoy life. Enjoy each other. Make memories.

Never in my life did I imagine myself with someone like him. If I had looked at my “list” (if I had even made one) he might have met half of my criteria. But I had no idea what I should be wanting in a man, and I’m glad I could see to open myself up to the possibilities with someone who was so different than I was. As social as I can be sometimes, I never thought my favorite nights with a man would be spent staying in, fixing a meal, and listening to lectures. Sharing knowledge is hot. Sizzling. Trust me.

And one more thing, cut the cord from your phone to your hand. Turn it off, put it down, and put your eyes and your attention on each other. Facebook can wait.  I promise.

Written by No More Tomorrows

December 6, 2011 at 11:18 am

Responsible to Who?

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“You can please all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot please all the people all the time.”

(Quote attributed to being a variation of Abraham Lincoln’s original quote)

Being a public person seems like it’s a tight rope to walk. Everybody has an opinion, as I’m sure you’re familiar with that popular quote as well. I’m not that public and not that popular, but I do have narcissistic, self-aggrandizing aspirations to be important and popular. Because I saw another post today where the blogger wrote something and then got jumped all over for it, it made me think about responsibility when you’re a public person.

Caitlin’s post today, “10 Personal Questions, Part III” is a giveaway for her readers. In that she admitted to cheating in college and getting an A. Because she received backlash over it, she chose to edit it. Then she received more backlash about lying and about deleting the earlier comment for a new one. It just seems like she can’t win no matter what she does. This is where you refer to my quote at the beginning of this post.

Jen spoke about birth control once, asking opinions when she was considering changing her type of birth control. She received a comment calling into question her faith and her lifestyle.

I have seen it happen in every blog I regularly visit. A reader (or readers) decides it’s their duty to call out the blogger. Now, it is NOT my intention to say a reader should never disagree with a blogger. Absolutely disagree. I don’t think it’s wrong that readers responded to Caitlin by questioning her decision to put her cheating out there as she did. They said the comment seemed flippant. That is their right to say what they observed and the manner in which they interpreted it. What I don’t agree with, is when readers revert to a public flogging, when the comment is not stated respectfully or with kindness and instead seems to bring the blogger before us to stand trial and defend themselves. That is sad to me. But it happens. A lot.

It makes me think about my responsibility on this blog. Do I have a responsibility to be careful what I post in regards to weight loss so that it does not trigger someone with an eating disorder? Do I have a responsibility to not post my authentic opinion about something so as to not offend someone? Do I have a responsibility to post for my readers as opposed to posting for myself?

The conclusion I have come to is this: my responsibility is to myself and myself only.

Now, before anybody jumps on that to say I don’t care about my current and (hopefully) future readership, let me explain.

I blog because I like getting my thoughts out there, because it will help me track my life’s journey with weightloss and more, and because I have a passion for helping others and I believe that I am capable of helping others change their lives. I enjoy blogging and if it was only for me, I’d keep it private. I publish it because I DO want readers, and I DO care about my readership. But I say that I am only responsible to myself because if I operate that way I believe I will continue to keep my readership in mind.

Putting myself first means I’ll post in a way that will keep readers and not push people away. It means I do and will continue to, put things under a microscope to make sure I’m posting what is true and writing in a way to where my words have the least possibility of being misunderstood. I received a comment once in response to my statement on keeping my kids out of public school in my post “Too Extreme?” The reader felt I had been harsh in making that statement. I don’t feel my intention was to come off that way at all.

At the end of the day, my only responsibility to my readers is honesty. If I were to reach my goal weight by a pill or a surgery and then tell you I used no alternative method but eating right and working out, then I have done wrong by you. I pledge to you, my reader that anything you read from me will be completely honest and authentic. I want you to get a glimpse of who I really am by being a reader. I will apologize for what I have said that hurt others when I did not intend to, and I will welcome questions and criticism. I will hold myself responsible to maintaining the kindness and compassion on here that I attempt to live by in my non-blog life. But I will also demand respect from my readers, to me and to other readers. I will also stand by the fact that this is my blog, and that I hold all rights and responsibilities to my work. When I feel strongly enough about something, I won’t apologize for it. There are hills worth dying on, and things worth standing for without retreat. But I will walk that tight rope the best I know how to. And I hope my readership will always know my true intentions and will read my words with that understanding.

Check out these other blog posts on blogger responsibility.

Struggling with blogger responsibility

Diary of a Stay at Home Writer: The Real Freedom of Speech

Two Cents

What are your thoughts?

To what extent do you believe bloggers have a responsibility to their readers?

And to what extent should readers simply exercise their right to not read a blog whose writer they’re not thrilled with?

Written by No More Tomorrows

September 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm

A Fund for Jennie

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I discovered internet communities very early on in the internet age. I was in high school and had joined an online community for Christian teenagers. I “met” some pretty amazing people on that site. I understood kindred spirits, or Soul Friends. It wasn’t weird to me to be talking to people in a box that I never met face to face. I was able to connect with people, my age, going through similar things as I was, talking about things I liked. It seemed so natural. It never seemed odd.

The first time I crossed the internet veil into in-person meeting was my sophomore year of college. One of the guys from that site went to a college not far from mine and we decided to go to a movie. Nothing romantic, just something to do. It didn’t seem odd to meet him. It made me nervous, because I didn’t know how an online friendship would transcribe in person, but it wasn’t weird. We had had deep conversations, meaningful conversations. I felt like I knew him, and that he knew me. We had fun.

Since then I have wondered into various dimensions of online communities, more message boards, blogs, dating sites, etc and found people I connected with. Some I have met face to face, some are still just internet friends until the day we pass each other’s way and I hope to share coffee or such with them. There are people who I have been on the phone with at 2 am crying my eyes out, or vice versa with me being the listening ear. There are people all over the world with whom I am totally in love with as people and some of whom I’ve never seen face to face. To some that would be odd, but I know there are those of you who understand.

This very idea has been put into practice recently via Bloggers Without Borders. I recently discovered a new blogger when others that I had read mentioned a woman in the blogging community who had just suddenly lost her husband. I went to her site and have been reading it all the time since, with a heart that breaks everytime I do. She writes beautifully, and she captures her emotions in a way that only the best of writers can do. In Jennie’s Kitchen used to be a food blog. If you go back in her archives you will see plenty of drool-worthy eats. But now she shares about her husband, the last memories she has of him, and the road she is now forced to walk without him. Bloggers Without Borders has set up A Fund For Jennie. It was not only Jennie who was left without her husband, but her two young daughters were also left without their father. The blogging community has pulled together to raise money for the family.

It’s a beautiful thing to see what others will do for people they’ve never met. I cannot tell you how many times I find myself grateful that the internet exists and that I discovered the many wonderful people who live in my computer. In times where we see how many selfish people there are in the world, it’s beautiful to see the light of the compassionate, making a difference in others’ lives.

I’d also like to ask my readers to take a look and see what you can do to donate for Jennie and her girls. And thank you for being a part of my story and of my journey. Thank you for sharing life with me.

Written by No More Tomorrows

September 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm