Monday, September 25, 2017

Another Year? I Think Not

Two years ago we left the synagogue I called home for 38 years. For a multitude of reasons it was no longer the right fit for our family of four. So, we "shul shopped."

This year during our shul shop, we decided to pray with our Chabad Rabbi, his wife, their children, and a community we are just starting to get to know. While our daughters attend religious school with these wonderful people, our family had yet to pray with them.
(Make no mistake, at this point "these" and "them" is now an "us.")

During the service, which by the way I enjoyed, the Rabbi delivered his sermons. In years past I have listened to sermons, but not with the concentration I had this year. This year, with a smaller community, my husband on the other side of the mechitza, and my children participating in a meaningful children's program, I was able to truly listen.

The message? A new year or another year? Interesting.

As the Rabbi explained, there is always another year. The Jewish new year happens each year (and I thought so does January 1st). With two chances at a new year, was I really making it a new year or another year? The Rabbi went on to discuss how we all get another year, but it is up to us to make it a new year. Will we change how we react to people, will we change our family dynamics, will we make a conscious decision to have a true new year.

The Jewish new year this year happened right after Hurricane Harvey hit our area. Devastation occurred physically and emotionally for all those involved.

A new year? Was it possible to take something like the hurricane and find a spiritual connection to it all? Maybe, just maybe for me the hurricane is a reminder to let all the "stuff" wash away in an effort to have this new year.

My girls have a new year. It is almost inevitable. As you grow your desires, needs, expressions, mannerisms mature. As a child, your year is new whether you're in control or not. You learn new things in school, achieve new milestones, make new friends, have new, age appropriate challenges - all of which allow you the courtesy of a new year. I do not believe my children have ever had another year.

But what about us? The adults. Are we blessed with the same unconditional new year? The answer is no. We may have new challenges and new joys, but the majority of us react the same way. We continue to yell at traffic, get pissy with a friend, spouse, sibling for not meeting our expectations, experience frustrations at what could be considered small stuff, while being completely overwhelmed with the big stuff. Yes we laugh and smile, but is it the same laugh and same smile?

At 40, is it possible for me to look inward enough and guarantee myself a new year? I sure hope so. I am self aware enough to know that I have tried (for a long time now) to give myself a new year vs. another year. Some days resemble this new year. A year filled with new hopes, renewed patience, a more genuine smile, and a deeper laugh. And then there are days that resemble another year.

My prayer for this year, my new year, is that each day I remember to have this new year. I want to fulfill that promise to myself, my family, my friends. I want to be able to have a fresh outlook, see the world with a new pair of eyes, and relish in the newness that I may have forgotten. I want to let go of any judgement, anger, or frustration that I am holding onto and let it wash away with the horrific flood waters from a few weeks ago.

Another year? No.

A new year filled with hopes, possibilities, and anything else I dream?  Yes. Yes, indeed.

Thank you Rabbi. Your words are powerful.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Making A Come Back


It has been awhile since I last blogged. My last entry was a month ago as I was bracing myself for the emotions that come with sending your last child off to Kindergarten.

Fast forward a month and I cannot even believe what has happened.

We started school! Third grade and Kindergarten! We had a wonderful three days and then school was closed. Cue: Hurricane Harvey.

My family survived Hurricane Harvey and while we did sleep in closets due to tornado warnings and we did evacuate our home, we are very fortunate to not have suffered any physical damage to our property. We have many friends and family that were not so lucky. We did, however, suffer from emotional trauma. I will not go into too much detail but protecting your children in a closet while a tornado tears through the street your friends live on is unimaginable. Evacuating your home at a moment's notice knowing your home town is under water and your current community is taking in flood waters, rips a hole in your heart. The whole experience has left all of us looking for actual blue skies and rainbows.

When we did return to our home, we had play dates with our friends to help their working parents because school was still closed. We collected items for people who lost everything in the hurricane.
As we were trying to emotionally recover from Harvey, The Weather Channel and family group texts were all on again due to Hurricane Irma. We have A LOT of family in Florida.

Again, for the most part my family was spared. We do have family that has some home damage, but we do not the extent as they have been unable to return to their home. We continue to pray for them daily.

Finally school started again (yesterday) and we literally had a SECOND first day of school.

Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) is next week and while I typically get super anxious about The Book of Life and all it represents, I am so grateful to have a holiday that symbolizes a fresh start. It is time for a do over.

This past year was rough, emotionally. The girls had struggles from anxiety to peer pressure to social acceptance to typical growing pains and more. I felt like each week we were on this emotional roller coaster and it was anybody's guess as to which one was going to lose their shit and become hysterical.

Add to that, I really feel like my family has not recovered from my grandma dying. And when I say my family, I am not referring to just us four. My family is my aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and my parents. Losing our matriarch was devastating. Everything is the first without her and it makes the pain that much worse. Some days are better than others, but we all miss her.

I am so grateful for all we have. I truly am. I am healthy, my girls and husband are healthy, and we are happy. But at the same time, I am actively praying for a better year for all of us.

I am not praying for happiness as that is a choice you make yourself, but rather praying for peace. I am praying the girls have peace in their hearts and in school, I am praying for peace in our home, and praying for peace in my husband's business.

Rosh Hashana begins at sundown September 20th and as my family begins to pray and celebrate this holiday I will keep my eyes on our future.

A new year awaits us and we are ready to make the most of it.