Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Our Hidden Enemy: Perfectionism

     Very early on in my weight-loss journey, I realized that one of my biggest “triggers” to overeating was lack of sleep. And that the reason I didn’t get enough sleep was because I had to “manage” to do “everything”. I had to be perfect.  I tried to be perfect.
       It just didn’t work.
       And I have seen this tendency in many other women as well.
      Why in the world do we push ourselves past the point of what sanity would dictate?  And even if we can answer that question (which I was able to do after a LOT of thought and reflection), to relearn that feeling that I have to do it “all” is SO hard to beat! (Jewish sages say that it takes 70 years of work to undo a bad habit, and quite frankly, I don’t have seventy years! LOL).
    I think the key is:
1)      Practicing here and there NOT being perfect
2)      Positive affirmations when we are NOT able to do it all (Mine is: “G-d created you as an imperfect being. My task is to grow/progress, not to be perfect.”)
3)      Learning to love ourselves as we are

Are YOU a perfectionist? Can you share an affirmation that helps you?


 I WOULD HAVE LIKED to add in here a cute photo, but it is almost time for me to leave for swimming....... So you will get this  sans a picture; the post will be imperfect, and that is OK!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Rio Tramway and Making a Plan!

    Jutting out of the Atlantic ocean waters in  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are several large granite-like pillars. By far the  most famous of them is “Sugarloaf mountain”. Rising 396 meters (1,299 ft) above Guanabara Bay, on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic, Sugarloaf attracts some 2,500 visitors daily. From the top of this granite pillar one sees an impressive panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro.

[image: Panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro from Sugarloaf mountain.]

    When I went to Brazil in 2013, for a short one week visit, Sugarloaf was the first item on my list of things which I wanted to see. I knew that the tramway had existed in the50’s & 60’s; I remember seeing pictures of it when I was in grade school. However, I was surprised when I learned just how long ago the original tramway was built. In 1907, Brazilian engineer  Augusto Ferreira Ramos had the idea to build the cable car. The first section was finished in 1912, and the second stretch in early 1913. And how were the materials carried to the top? By hundreds of  workers climbing the rock face, dragging ropes,  which were then used to haul up heavier items. This  Sugarloaf cable car system was the first in Brazil and the third in the world, and it was longer than the previous two. It was truly a technological feat in its time.

[image: Two of my sons (who are so different yet so similar to each other), horsing around in one of the original tram cars.]
    Now can you imagine that Mr. Ramos built this structure without a plan? Surely not. He had a plan, and he carried it out.  Because without a plan, things just don’t get done!









[image: Mountain scene with the caption: "A goal without a plan is just a wish."]

    Often people who are not overweight look at people who are, and wonder why we don’t just decide to lose. What they do not realize is that deciding is not enough. We need a plan. A plan to deal with all those little things that get in the way of weight loss and maintenance.
    Once I had a friend who told me how TERRIBLE she was; the day before she had overeaten. She had rushed out to her job, forgetting to pack her nutritious lunch, and at 13:00 discovered that the only edibles around were some high calorie pastries, so that is what she had eaten. Then as an afterthought, she added: “Today I made SURE to pack my sandwich.”
    Her inner voice was telling her that she was terrible… and unsuccessful. But in actuality, she had run into a problem… and developed a plan to correct it. To me that is PROGRESS!


   Can you train your inner critic to note what you are doing RIGHT?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

trip to Beit Guvrein

The area of Beit Guvrein, which is about halfway between Beit Shemesh and Hebron, is unique due to the many caves carved out by those living in the area. The limestone stone in the area has a hard upper crust (called "Naari"),. This harder stone gave support to allow the digging out of caves in the softer limestone beneath the Naari.

 The first several photos here are of a family burial cave , apparently of a Hellenized Edomite family. The original drawings had been vandalized, but luckily the first archaeologists there had made extensive drawings of the originals, and from those drawings these replicas were made.







The next photo is of a small columbarium (dove-house), located under a house, essentially a small family fertilizer business.


An oil press:












Entrance to a water cistern located beneath a house.: 


An enormous Columbarium:

The  most famous site in Beit Guvrein are the Bell Caves.  A small hole was made in the Naari sone above, and then the stone below was quarried out. These caves are from the late Byzantine/ Early Islamic periods.


The original entryway to the quarry:


Friday, December 26, 2014

After the Holiday; A Letter to a Friend

You tell me that you “blew it” over Channukah!
1) First, I hope that you had a lovely holiday! If you had extra food, at least I hope that you enjoyed it, and that the whole day (week!) was GREAT!  I hope that your kids also enjoyed the holiday.  Holidays give us the break, the inspiration, and the happiness that helps us navigate life .Even if you overate, holidays are meant to be enjoyed.

2)   Learning HOW to navigate the holidays without destroying your eating/exercise program completely takes time. You are pretty new at this; hopefully you will be better on the next holiday, and better next Chanukah as well.

#3) I used to think that making a firm resolution to
"eat within reason" at holiday time would get me through "OK".IT WASN'T. I learned that I MUST track (even if just keeping a running tally mentally), EVEN IF OVEREATING. Being honest about HOW MUCH I was eating (even if deciding to allow myself some "extra" ) helps me stay within reason (or half reason)

4) Rather than moan about the fact that you went overboard, turn this around to a "learning experience". Evaluate:
a) Where did I go wrong? When? What were the biggest temptations, the biggest triggers? Who was I with? How was I feeling?
b) were there other factors involved? Did I get enough sleep? (THAT is probably pretty hard for a young mom like you!) Was I under stress due to ______
    Then after you evaluate , make a PLAN how to decrease the "other factors", and how to cope with the temptations. WRITE this plan in your calendar for the next holiday (Tu B’Svat? Purim?) .  [And turn to a middle page  of ELUL (last month of the Calendar) and write there: “Write in next year’s calendar my pre-Chanukah plan.”] After the next time evaluate HOW it went, and fine tune. Consider giving yourself some type of prize for success.

Here’s a personal example of how I did this as regards Passover:
2011:
The First Step in the “twelve steps” is admitting that we are out of control.
Before Passover, knowing full well the family “custom” to (over)eat chocolate during the pre-Pesach (pre-Passover) days and during the holiday itself, I bought several bars of the finest Swiss type with trepidation. I knew that these bars of “instant energy” were a potential diet bombshell, especially as I was running at that time on about 4 hours of sleep nightly.
The question was, why should I buy at all?
Well, Orthodox Jews take seriously the command not to eat leaven over the holiday (unfortunately the command to guard one’s health seems less critical at this juncture), and the types of food available with a really good kosher certification (for Passover) are somewhat limited. (Especially for those who also do not consume legumes over the week.) I wanted to have good treats to give the grandchildren, and my husband might very well see non-purchase of an essential like chocolate to be grounds (almost) for divorce…..
So I ate some before Passover, and although I was eating much less than once, it was surely enough to cause a dent in my plans not to gain over the month. I realized that sleep-deprivation and stress were factors in play, and consoled myself that once the holiday entered, these factors would fall by the wayside, and I would be able to get my eating under control. After all, salads and vegetable soups are great Passover foods, not just matzah with butter.
So the holiday has started, I have returned to having time for aerobic walking, and I discovered to my horror, that my consumption of fattening foods has stayed out of control.
Finally last night I admitted to myself step number one: I am powerless over the Swiss bars. So I passed them on to someone else to distribute to the grandchildren.
This does not mean that I am perfectly in control already. The lack of many of my regular diet “substitutions” has still made dieting this week very difficult, but I am beginning to get a semblance of normal intake.
2012:
For those readers uninitiated to Pesach (Passover) cleaning, the words “spring cleaning” is a mere whiff of what I do before Passover. We are enjoined not to eat, own, or use “chometz” (leavened products) during Passover. And while there are easier ways to clean for the holiday, basically one needs to rid the house of every crumb of bread/cake/etc. And after that, the kitchen counters, stove, etc need to be covered before being used for the preparation of scrumptuous holiday repasts…. So Passover cleaning tends to be a LOT of work. And as much as I try and plan ahead, and to work by a schedule, I invariably fall behind, have less time for walking, and get too little sleep. The usual outcome for me is overeating and weight gain.
    Wednesday (ALL day) and Thursday morning I cleaned my kitchen for Passover. For the last few years I have “done” the kitchen before the living room, where we continue to eat non-Passover foods. I prefer to do the heavier work at least a week before the holiday, so as not to arrive to the holiday “seder table” exhausted. In former years I have used “cleaning the kitchen” as an excuse to consume “instant energy”, in the form of fine Swiss chocolate. Even last year, well down the “diet road”, I succumbed to temptation (albeit much less than in previous years), and this year I hoped to do much better. The chocolate I had purchased for holiday baking use I placed along with other groceries for the holiday in sealed boxes. And for several days, even though I was VERY hungry (blame habit and lack of sleep), I was doing GREAT. Then, when emptying out some of the closets in the kitchen on Monday afternoon, I found a stashed-away half bar of chocolate. And as the evening progressed, I slowly and surely polished off the entire 90 grams of creamy smoothness…. Having given in to temptation once, on the marrow I was craving chocolate with my whole soul. But, determined not to gain too much over the holiday season, I decided to allow myself on Tuesday a few high calorie items, but not chocolate. Then on Wednesday, I allowed myself extra calories, but not sweet items. The idea was to allow myself a bit of leeway, but to progress back gradually to a normal eating plan. Now why did I do this? BECAUSE WHEN I FOUND MYSELF NOT FOLLOWING MY EATING PLAN, I TOOK NOTE, AND ANALYZED THE SITUATION, AND DEVELOPED A PLAN FOR ACTION. If we want to redeem ourselves from our bad habits, we need to Think and PLAN. The redemption for Egypt was quick, and given as a gift. Redemption from our evil inclination is not going to be that easy.

2013:
After cleaning our house, we need to store away our regular dishes, cover all counter tops, and get out the Passover dishes. And while doing this, we need to feed our families without the benefit of kitchen facilities. (For example, imagine making a salad where to rinse each vegetable you need to run to the other side of the house to a water source.) And if you are overworked and tired, the temptation to reach into a cupboard for some luscious Passover chocolate (read "easy instant energy fix") can be pretty great. Then, you start cooking holiday meals, hopefully festive ones, which generally are NOT that low in calories. So it is no surprise that each year I gain over Passover, and I am skeptical of my ability to withstand the temptations that are impending.
   And, as I indicated in the previous post, wishful thinking about "doing better this year" is just not enough. If I want to emerge on the other side of March without a gain, I need to take some concrete action. Here's my plan:
1)      I will buy the chocolate for cooking (and the grandkids) ONLY after the kitchen is ready for Passover and fully functional. When I am able to cook up a pot of vegetable soup, the lure of the sweet "fix" should be more manageable. Yes, it will cost more in the local grocery than the supermarket, but that's OK. (And if my husband insists on having the tan temptation, he will have to buy and hide for himself.)
2)      Plan menus which are easier and less time consuming for the holiday. There is no need to cook gourmet that leftovers are "a pity" to dispose of. There are lots of pretty, healthy, and easy menus out there.
3)      Work on getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Even if that means less spring cleaning and less time online.
4)      Try to maintain a minimum of "walking" (exercise) time (even if only half an hour). I know that walking not only keeps my metabolism going, but it decreases my appetite, and busts away stress.
  And then, for the holiday of redemption, I hope to celebrate redemption from my former bad eating habits.
2014:
   I bought the fancy chocolate only at the last minute.
I had a six week plan before the holiday, where I recorded exercise (TNT at least once a week, aerobic at least half an hour 5X weekly, staying on trackcalorie wise, and tracking sleep
I had a prize for myself (EXPENSIVE jewelry) that I would  only wear on the holiday if I kept in line (90% or better) with my plan.
This plan worked. I gained a smidgen over the holiday, but in general I was OK. I can live with that smidgen, I think it was pretty darn good!
2015:  (YES! I am already planning how to get through Passover in one piece this year!)

I have already bought my prize for “plan compliance” for this year’s Passover holiday! (It’s GORGEOUS! My best friend doesn’t know HOW I can resist wearing it NOW. I explained that my fear of going back to being fat overrides everything else! And I KNOW that I need a prize that I REALLY want!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The “Shawl” Girls

Preface:
     In the Orthodox Jewish community there is a dress code.  Women are expected to dress within certain standards of modesty, specifically long sleeves, skirts below the knees, and if married, some type of hair covering (scarf, wig).   Now there are variations in what is considered “best” or appropriate, but there is certainly a certain amount of leave way to find your own style within the bounds of modest dress.

    Now some small groups have taken upon themselves extra strictures, dressing in loose capes and almost always black.  [There is a cult-like group that dresses almost like the “Taliban”, I am not talking about them.] And even if one does not agree with this type of dress (especially when people dress their little girls this way), I suspect that their intentions are generally very good. Most of the women wearing these shawls are normal women trying to be extra modest. [I admit that when I personally see little girls dressed like this, I feel that this is really taking things to“overkill”.]

And finally, after that intro, here is the blog:
    I begin by recounting my “sin” of yesterday: After a lovely healthy breakfast, I went to the health-fund to take care of some paper work.   And on exiting the building I suddenly had a good desire for a butterscotch Hanukah doughnut. Now I allow myself a doughnut each year on Hanukah, but I had HAD one small one already, at the family get-together last week.  But each year I buy myself a butterscotch doughnut, and I decided that yes I would buy one. However, there is a condition to this purchase: The day I treat myself to the doughnut, I have to go on a LONG walk, to walk off the extra calories. And at about 400 calories in a doughnut “bomb”, that means a LONG walk.
        Now I had already been planning to take a walk… and even to grab a new geocache in our area on the way. And then, at noon, when I looked at the geocaching site I noticed that there were even a few MORE new caches. PERFECT! If I would walk to all of them, the extraneous calories would be taken care of. So I set out. 
       The first two caches were in an area that while not too close to my house, at about 30-40 minutes away, they were certainly not too far . The other two were on the other side of the national park in Ramat Gan, which is itself about an hours walk away. However, being at the first two caches, I was already most of the way there.  So I crossed the big highway and set out for the third and fourth caches.
    Then I saw them: three young girls, dressed in shawls, the oldest being about ten years old.  They were obviously headed back to my town from the national park. I was shocked to the core. There were no adults with them.
    WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WRONG WITH THESE PARENTS? You are worried about modesty and you let your little girls out alone?!!? You let your little ones be supervised by a ten year old?
       About ten minutes later, I regretted not having turned around and escorting (or following) them home.   -To see that they would arrive safely, and to give the mother an education about how dangerous this is. Also I realized later, that maybe the ten year old had done this “outing” on her own, and the mother would be more than pleased to hear where her little darlings had disappeared to.

PARENTS: The period children have vacation from school is not a vacation for you. Kids need to be entertained. And not by their ten year old sibling. Keep them busy. And keep them safe

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 32 Colored Yogurts

    The middle-aged lady next to me in the grocery was dressed in a typical housedress. She plunked three packages of colored fruit yogurts onto the counter, and asked the owner “Don’t you have more of this flavor tucked away somewhere?”
   “Aren’t there any more in the fridge?”
   “No….”
    “Well, then, that’s what we have. Why not buy another flavor for the rest?”    
     She shook her head, and I understood perfectly.
    “ You have to understand,” I chipped in, “She’s got a slew of grandkids coming for Hanukkah, and she HAS to buy the same flavor for all, or there will be squabbling over who gets which flavor.”

     The lady nodded in agreement, adding, “So I’ll just have to get the rest somewhere else….” 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Finally, some photos from My Last Trip

Two weeks ago I took a trip to the Maaleh Adumim area.  Located between Jerusalem and Jericho, it has its name ("Red Assents") because in the downward trip from Jerusalem to Jericho and the Dead Sea, it is the only ascent, and a lot of the stones in the area are reddish.
    Also located in this area is a museum of Mosaics, all from the area, mostly from the Byzantine period.
    So here are a few photos:

[image:an intermittent spring  in the Judean desert, Wadi Kelt.]


[image: Canyon walls at Wadi Kelt.]

[image: Me at Wadi Kelt.]


[image: view of the Maaleh Adumim area, from inside ruins of a small fort.]


[image: Windows, Byzantine period.]

[image: small part of Mosaic synagogue floor, from Gaza, Byzantine period.]

Jewerly: First Try

A few years ago I bought several jewelry-making supplies but never (except for fixing some broken pieces) used them. When I mentioned this to Mom during my last visit she told me that DAD had also bought a lot of stuff for jewelry. I looked through it and took some of the stuff. (That REALLY weighed down the suitcase on the way home; I BETTER use the stuff!!)  Tonight I decided to try and make a bracelet to match an outfit I have. The beads are from Dad's supplies, the stones and glass from mine. But I think I need to take a good course......maybe after Passover. But not too bad for a first try.

[image: bracelet of beige and rust-colored beads and stones]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Showing Their True Faces

    The Arabs have all sorts of excuses for killing/maiming Jews. They are “settlers”, “soldiers”, or “people profaning the Temple Mount”. Another excuse is that they were “enraged” after some type of provocation. This morning they showed their true face.
    For those of you who do not live in Israel, let me describe to you where this morning’s terrorist attack took place. Har Nof is a quiet residential neighborhood, NOT in east Jerusalem. The population there is “chareidi”, which means that the occupation of a large percentage of the men is to study G-d’s law.  This is not a community of “settlers” or “soldiers”. [NOT THAT I CONDONE THE KILLING OF SETTLERS AND SOLDIERS; MURDER IS MURDER. I AM JUST MAKING A POINT HERE.]

[image: a street in Har Nof]

     In addition, the terrorists knew what hour to come to the synagogue, and they came well armed. This was not a spontaneous “in the heat of the moment” attack. It was planned in advance, as the Jewish leaders were trying their best to return quiet and calm to the area.
    These terrorists entered a house of prayer, attacking unarmed people. People who were praying, amongst other things, for peace.

    It is time for the western countries, and the media to wake up and realize that as long as the Arab population continues to incite terror, and educate their children to terror, there will be no end to this. People often dream that if we only give a bit more, peace will materialize. They do not understand that the mentality of our foes is not a Western mindset. They should stop believing the lies, and realize that just as the Arabs have escalated their attacks from the “territories” to a quiet neighborhood in central Jerusalem….. the rest of the world is not immune.

Update: In addition to the four worshipers who died in the attack, the Druse policeman who was the first to arrive on the scene has died. May his family be comforted. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Haveil Havalim, The Chaye Sarah Edition

A blog carnival is a round-up of blog posts, sort of an internet magazine.  Haveil Havalim is the most veteran of the Jewish blogger carnivals and probably one of the longest running blog carnivals there is

Haveil Havalim, the international Jewish blog carnival, was established by Soccer Dad,
and was then run by Jack.

Now it is run via the HH facebook page. Anyone interested in contributing to Haveil Havavalim should join the group.

[The term “Haveil Havalim” is from Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon. It means “Vanity of Vanities”.]

    I have always been hesitant about hosting “Haveil Havalim”, as I may be asked to give publicity to blogs which I disagree with. Please note that  I DO NOT NECESSARILY AGREE WITH ALL THE BLOGS PRESENTED  HERE!

   [By the way, simple gratitude means that if  posts of yours are included here,you should try and visit several of the blogs listed here (at LEAST 2- posts).  And try to leave a note that you came by way of Haveil Havalim.]

So here goes:

Torah Thoughts:
   Ben-Tzion,  of ben-tzion.com, talks about the main topic of this week’s Parsha (Torah reading), Match-making, in “AfternoonMatchmaking”




Politics / Terror  
The ever-prolific Batya  (has “ever prolific” become your middle name, Batya??) of Shiloh Musings
     and Me-ander is an avid political/security commentator and she gives us a post, with some interesting pictures added, about the security situation on the Temple Mount, written by Batya


Another  post, also from Shiloh Musings, is about the attack at Kafr Kanna.

Dalia Lemkos, h"yd


   Ester, of It’s All From HaShem , gives us a post about the murder of Dalia Lemkos h”yd,  but even more, about our response to living under the shadow of terror.

Romi Sussman  (of Sussmans b'Aretz), also shares her reactions after Dalia’s death,  poignantly sharing in Talking about Terror, Tefillin and More about the effort to raise healthy children in a world touched by terror.


Life In Israel

Ruti Mizrachi , in her blog Never Ruthless, gives us a cute post, There's a girl messing with my little boy's head, which I can easily identify with. It is on the interesting things that happen to our grown children (and ourselves!) when those sons become parents.







        Batya gives us an account of how several people contributed to a deed of kindness, inThat Chessed חסד Kindness MitzvahBonus”

      She also gives us a glimpse of what her transportation difficulties and solutions are in Travel,Tremping and Public Transportation, a "Typical" Day.



Tzivia, of ALIYAHLAND, tells us of  an unexpected urban oasis in the middle of Haifa,
............ and also talks about naming Jewish babies!

   Rickismom (that’s me) writes about how dieting need not be a prison, in “Dancing and Diet”.


    And to end on a definitely light note,  any beer lovers here should enjoy Doug Greener’s ( Israel Brews and Views)  tale of his experience with a  Porter BeerTasting Panel   



That’s it for this edition!

    Heidi Estrin of the Association of Jewish Libraries asked me to include the link to this, the guidelines for submittingto the Jewish Book Carnival.

Next week’s Haveil Havalim will be presented by the ever-dependable Batya of ShilohMusings.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dancing and Diet


"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It's to enjoy each step along the way."
                          -Wayne Dyer


I saw this quote, and really enjoyed it. I had to look up who-in-the-world "Wayne Dyer" is (on WIKIPEDIA), and I'll just say that quoting these words does not mean that I endorse his viewpoint or anything else.

    But this quote expresses to me, my own belief that successful weight-loss needs to be enjoyable.  Weight loss is not a temporary prison to be endured until you reach your goal weight (and then you can spring out of jail with a “get-out-of-jail- free” monopoly card).
Losing and maintaining your goal weight can be fantastically fun.

Find those exercises that you enjoy, go to places you can delight in. Every once in a while try something new. Even doing your “normal” standby walk can sometimes be spiced up by doing it from the opposite direction.

Experiment with new ways of dressing …. Your old style might not fit your new shape and (hopefully) new self-confidence. If you wear a wig, consider having it styled in a new way, or tie your scarf in a different fashion.

Occasionally you might attempt to cook with a vegetable you have never, or rarely, used.  Never cooked Moroccan style? Experiment! (Just don’t add too much oil, my friends….)

     One of the points that successful dieters said helped them to lose and stay there was this trait of making weight-reduction FUN.

  So no matter what shoes you wear, get out there and DANCE.


    

Monday, November 10, 2014

R-word

sharing a link with you: , on use of the R-word.


I've always said that as each derogatory word gets " outlawed", the new term eventually gets a new connotation, and also gets used to stereotype and insult. The problem is the underlying attitude to those we feel are "beneath " ourselves. ..... However, as it turns out, "intellectual disability" is such a cumbersome long word, it just doesn't get used as slang or an insult, and that is definitely the way to go.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Alone” On Simchat Torah?

[explanatory note to non-Jewish readers: On the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, which this year fell on Wednesday evening and Thursday day, it is customary for the men to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls. Women often watch from their section.]

     As I mentioned a few days ago, we had no guests for the first day of Sukkot, and only on Shabbat. Then on Simchat Torah we were again “guestless”.
    Somehow, being by oneself for the holiday is worse than not having guests for Shabbat. On the holidays, nearly all my friends had oodles of visitors. Many had to limit the number of couples coming, due to the logistics of fitting everyone into the succah.
    I understand very well why my children were unable to attend. They all had excellent reasons. Yet I still felt rather “stuck”.
    Somehow, we all tend to base our “simchas yom tov” (holiday happiness) on the externals: the food, the clothing, etc, which is OK, up to a point. After all, there is a REASON why our sages tell us to honor the day with wine and meat, and tell men to buy presents for their wives. The externals affect us.
    However, that should not be the entirety of our pleasure in the holiday. A good friend asked which synagogue I would be attending Wednesday evening for the dancing with the Torah scrolls. My reply was that I saw no reason to push myself through a crowd of other women to watch THEIR families dance. If I have no husband, children, or grandchildren there, why should I bother?
   However, on Wednesday evening I felt differently. I decided to YES go to the synagogue, to hear the dancing and singing. The simcha (happiness) of the Torah is also mine. I have participation in my offspring’s Torah study. And I have made sacrifices to keep the Torah as well. My happiness on the holiday should not disappear just because I have no one dancing downstairs to point to (and brag about). Even if no one will notice the delicacies that I cooked for the holiday, nor the new dress I purchased for myself, I can foster my own connection with G-d, based more on internals than externals.

   So I “invited” G-d for the holiday, and I was not alone.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Sukkah Table Porter

    During the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), we eat for the entire week in a “sukkah” (see HERE if unfamiliar with this).
[image: our sukkah]
  
     Although I had no guests expected for the first day of the holiday (there might be a blog on this later….), for Shabbat (the Sabbath) I was expecting our son and his large family to come spend the day and a half here. So at noon on Wednesday I decided to set up one table, planning to open my second folding table on Friday. One table is in good condition, the second is getting old, and I knew that it was on its “last legs”. I decided to open the second one… and I am glad that I did, as it promptly broke. “Broke” as in: “died”, “croaked”, “kaput” and “terminally finished”.  It was 12:30. Stores were closing, and would not reopen that day , or on Friday.
   Sizing up the specter of everyone partaking the Shabbat meals without benefit of a table, I grabbed my purse and dashed out the door. The first two stores I tried had no folding tables left, with trepidation I headed over to the third (and last) hardware store in the area. It happens to be my favorite; the manager there is both honest and helpful.  He informed me that I was in luck. He had a final table in his storage area, and sent his brother to haul it out for me.
-          “But how in the world will you get it home?”
-          “I’ll carry it. I only live three blocks away.”
-          “You don’t have anyone to carry it for you? It IS pretty heavy….”
-          “If necessary, I’ll take a taxi.”
   Well, the second I lifted it, I realized that a taxi was definitely in order.  I turned around , heading away from home, and towards the taxi, when an eighteen year old asked “Hey, do you need help with that lady?”
-“Oh, I think I will need a taxi.”
-“A TAXI? In this traffic jam??”, as he gestured towards the street. “Which direction do you live?”
-“I live three blocks away, THAT way.”
-“I’ll take it for you.”
   I agreed, after ascertaining that he would let me pay him, although he refused to take more than a Taxi (in non-traffic jam situations) would. In addition he lugged it up the three floors to my apartment, as well as the additional flight to my roof.  I offered him a cool drink and suddenly he said “I know you from somewhere.  Do you maybe know my mother, H___?”

   Yes, I do. And he is just a “chip off the old block”. She is also the active, impulsive type, eager to help anyone that she can. (After he left I gave her a quick call just to let her know how fantastic a teen she has…….)

PS. By the way, HE could walk faster WITH the table than I could WITHOUT it. He kept telling me I didn't have to try so hard to keep up. (I was carrying his bags for him, so I was not concerned that he was going to take off with it.)  Women, men are a different species....

Resilience

 Dictionary.com defines RESILIENCE as:
1.
the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
2.
ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.


  In Wikipedia the following points are made:
“Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had. There is a common misconception that people who are resilient experience no negative emotions or thoughts and display optimism in all situations. Contrary to this misconception, the reality remains that resiliency is demonstrated within individuals who can effectively and relatively easily navigate their way around crises and utilize effective methods of coping. In other words, people who demonstrate resilience are people with positive emotionality; they are keen to effectively balance negative emotions with positive ones.”

     I believe that a large part of this flexibility and inner strength can come ONLY when you have come to accept yourself as an imperfect human being. When we expect ourselves to be perfect, not acknowledging the pain of certain situations, we are sitting ourselves up for self-bashing. [When talking to parents of new infants with Down syndrome, I worried most about those who were in the “Gee I’m so grateful G-d chose us!” mode; those who admitted to the pain where better able to take the steps needed to keep their families emotionally healthy.] When we engage in overthinking how terrible we are, we waste our energy there, instead of taking active steps to cope.
    Here are my ideas on weathering challenging foibles of life:
    First we need to ascertain exactly what is bothering us, what is the situation. Is this caused by something you have control (even partial) over, that you can rectify? Is this caused by someone else that you cannot control (or choose not to control)?
     If the distressing situation was caused by something you did, you need to forgive yourself for not having been perfect. (This does not mean absolving yourself from taking rectifying action in the future, by the way….) For example:
1)       I think I should have done more fun things with my children when they lived here, and been less concerned on accomplishing my “to do” list. This does not make me a bad parent (I DID do things with them, just not as much as I think I should have) or an evil person. I was trying my best, and there were definite reasons for what I did. (However, this does not mean that I shouldn’t be careful not to let my “to-do list” preempt time with my grandchildren!)
2)      I was terribly overweight for many years, and that was because I made poor choices. It does not mean that I was an un-worthy human being. It means that I needed to take action, but that means NOTHING about my value as a human being.

    If the situation is caused by someone (or something) you can not control (including   G-d), you can acknowledge that the situation hurts, and that you wish things were different. You need to accept the fact that you can not necessarily change the situation.  Your Uncle Al may one day wake up and decide that his low opinion of you is wrong (and therefore stop criticizing you), but it may not be likely. Neither is your teen likely to become more neat, nor are you very likely to win the lottery and become rich. YOU can only decide what you are willing to live with, which may often be things you do not like, but the ramifications of change may be worse (ie, “jumping from the frying pan into the fire). The major point here is that you do not need to feel bad that there IS the situation, that you don’t like it, and that you are doing the best that you can.  For example:
-          Shortly after  Ricki was born, I was at a friend’s new baby’s son circumcision feast. Several people there praised me for being so “upbeat”. I turned to a good friend and confided “Sometimes I feel like SCREAMING that this was not the baby I had prayed for.”   SHE had a baby with cancer; she understood, nodding. She said that “accepting G-d’s will” does not mean saying that everything is great. It is simply keeping your connection with G-d, and not throwing everything out the window.

     Some situations are very painful. Acknowledging that you feel that way is what allows you to move on and deal with it.
    Once we have accepted our feelings, and recognized ourselves as fallible human beings, we can move on to the next step. The next step is to make an action plan to deal with the situation. I will not go into great detail now, as I have covered this before  HERE and HERE:   
  

    But let me add that when dealing with stressful situations, part of the plan needs to be dedicated to reducing contributing triggers (ie, the need to eat healthy, sleep well, etc). And try to be kind to yourselves as well.