reflections, week 37

taking a break from blogging about feelings to check in on how things are going with my goals for the year…

write something every day (except Shabbat). since I’m doing this blogging project for the month, I’ve actually been doing pretty well on this! I haven’t touched any other projects this month, but I think that’s just as well—I’m taking time off grad school also so I can jump right back into dissertation prep in October, so it’s nice to have some time to clear my head and focus more on my spiritual side during this month (especially with all the hustle and bustle of a new school year). I’m also actually bullet journaling with some sort of regularity and doing okay with my habits now that I’m back to tracking, so overall it just seems like I’ve got my act together a bit more this month. 🙂

be better about money. the first CPS paycheck is so close that I feel like I can breathe again and that’s really exciting! I also got some money from friends whose cruise deposit I put down and my grandma sent me a little something, so I’m actually in a good place right now! provided I get my student loan dollars this week also, I should be able to pay myself back so I can knock out all my payments for the month and put a chunk towards our cruise—and still get back some rainy day savings so I can try to work only one job this fall in order to knock out the dissertation behemoth.

self-validate more. I’ve been trying to eliminate ableist words like moron and idiot from my vocabulary lately—but I find that I’m struggling to not use them to describe myself. it seems so easy to fall into the self-deprecating humor whenever I’m embarrassed; it’s so much more comfortable to say you’re right, I’m such an idiot and brush off the correction in a way that prevents me from being vulnerable and/or emotionally engaging with the cognitive dissonance. since I have improved so much in being kind to myself about mistakes in private, I’m now trying to be better about it in public and take responsibility without trashing myself (and thus inviting the trashing from other people also).

until next time, y’all!

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#BlogElul 10: Forgive

(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)

forgive is an interesting word for me to consider because it’s such a heavy concept. despite my zodiac sign’s stereotype for holding grudges, which people remind me of very often, I am actually the type to forgive others—but I cannot forget, not really, and I have a very different relationship with forgiveness when it comes to forgiving myself. I very much subscribe to the idea I grew up with, where forgiveness is not a gift to the person I forgive but rather a gift to myself—a way to let go of things before they fester and I just end up poisoning my own life with bitterness. this makes forgiving other people easy enough, but it creates issues with forgiving myself, as not forgiving myself poisons/punishes me and that seems more appealing than letting me just move on.

that is why I decided to be transparent about having missed days in blogging instead of just backdating some posts in the darkness and pretending nothing happened—which is definitely what I would’ve done in literally every other blog I have ever had—or just giving up like I have done in many other occasions and in many contexts. but I think that part of forgiving yourself is being honest about your errors and shortcomings so you can move past it, so I’m being transparent and just doing a catch-up post for the inevitable days that I miss so I can find ways to keep going.

and since is the season of atonement, I think that I’m not just going to make sure I’m atoning for however I’ve hurt people in the past year—but I’m also going to work to be more open to other people trying to atone so we can move on. in particular, I think that I have exhausted myself having the same conversation with people over and over and, in the situations where we have to continue to interact, I’m going to let go of the past and find a way to move forward. I recognize that on most cases our relationship will never be the same, but I’ve made peace with that—and I think that, once we open the door for a new kind of relationship, there’s a chance that we’ll even end up better than we started. only time will tell, but it seems to me that it’s a much better alternative than just obsessing about what has been lost. I know it’s not going to be an easy thing to do, but I have been trying to work on this with some people in my life and it has honestly removed a lot of the anxiety that our interactions have been giving me.

until next time, y’all!

#BlogElul 5-9: Commit, Want, Understand, Hear, See

(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)

I wrote some notes for every day that I’ve missed, so I’m just gonna do a catch-all with some thoughts so I can jump back in the saddle today… here are my thoughts for the last five days!

commit. ah, commitment. this is such a double-edged sword for me because once I commit, I really jump in with both feet—but it takes me forever to make a decision I can commit to, as I discussed in my first post for this month. if anything, I think my issue with commitment is not so much with the commitment as it is with the follow-through; often, no matter how committed I am to doing something, I struggle to get it done (thanks, ADHD). my big push to hold myself accountable and recommit on a constant basis so that I keep making small decisions to bring me to those larger goals is how I am trying to deal with that—and that is why I am blogging these reflections rather than just journaling about them. this way, there are other people to hold me accountable also!

want. there is so much that I want—and I struggle so much with feeling like it’s okay to want. so many times it feels selfish and almost shameful to put my wants and desires first—or even to follow them at all—but part of my journey to start trusting myself again involves trusting that I can learn and grow and, therefore, I should listen to myself when it comes to making decisions. it also involves unlearning the shame that there is wanting more for myself—and the process of beginning to believe that I am enough and I do deserve better. throughout this month, when I am looking into myself so much and really processing my feelings and coming to terms with my actions, I will find it extra important to be kind with myself and accept what I want even if I choose not to pursue it.

understand. we’ve been talking a lot at work about what it means to understand—as this is essential to our work with students—and one of the things that is included as a facet of understanding is being able to empathize. it’s such an incredible notion, that empathy belongs in the classroom, and it has made me realize that it is not enough to be able to conceptualize someone else’s situation—to understand someone means to be able to empathize with their feelings and circumstances. (NB: obviously this can be a problematic idea for neurodiverse people who struggle with empathy, so I do not mean this as a blanket statement—but then again I believe that it is likely that said neurodiverse folx are actually showing empathy in ways and situations that are different from “the norm” rather than being incapable of empathy.)

hear. ah, here’s a word I struggle with as I recite the Shema every day. is it enough to hear? would it not be better to say listen or, better yet, focus or pay attention so that the language does not exclude those who are deaf or hard of hearing? what does it mean to hear, anyway? is it enough for the sound waves to make your ear drum vibrate so you have an awareness of the sound? or do we mean the point where the sound turns into comprehensible input and you can parse it out into words or musical notes? do we mean the extra step where you have taken what you recognized and thought on it, and figured out where to go from there? the issue for me is that it is such a broad concept that I cannot really answer those questions, so I am stuck in a cycle of feeling like hearing is not enough. perhaps this is also because I am not an auditory learner—in fact, I have auditory processing issues so I really struggle with auditory input—but it just does not seem like enough to hear, as if by coincidence. this season, I want to listen instead. (you can find more on this topic, including some beautiful examples of prayer in ASL, here.)

see. another word I sometimes struggle with, although to a lesser degree. while there are potential ableist connotations here, my work with inter-epistemology—in which we discuss learning to see what was previously hidden—has opened my eyes (there we go again!) to the possibilities in which the metaphors for seeing can be immensely useful and even powerful. still, I want to go deeper, especially this season—so I am interpreting see more as observe or even examine. what are the parts of my life on which I have not shone a light recently? what are some things I have not considered with the care they deserve? what are ways in which I can be more intentionally aware of what and what surrounds me as well as what they bring to my life?

that’s that for these terms… there’s another post to come today, in which I talk a little more about why I chose to approach this post the way I did—so stay tuned for that!

#BlogElul 4: Choose

(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)

I’m trying to get caught on posts at the moment—I have thought about the right word on the right day but struggled to get my thoughts down on paper (or screen, in this case). yet the delay meant that I got the opportunity to have an experience this morning that helped me figure out what I wanted to say about choosing, so perhaps I just need to be patient with myself.

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#BlogElul 3: Prepare

(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)

it’s interesting that this is the post I do hella late because it has to do with preparation—and I was gone from the internet for most of yesterday because it was the first day of school and i was absolutely exhausted after all the preparation I did. as is often the case, though, no matter how much or how well we prepared, there were still surprises… and that’s really why my goal right now is to prepare for the unexpected.

allow me to elaborate.

I’ve previously mentioned that I’m not good with change—uncertainty makes me hella uncomfortable—so I’m working on preparing myself emotionally to deal in the ambiguity and uncertainty that makes up a pretty large part of life. I’m preparing to be a little less prepared, in a sense; I’m prepared to let go a bit more and try to focus more on enjoying the moment as it’s happening instead of panicking about preparing for the next moment. I’m hoping that this will help with my anxiety, but also improve my quality of life and relationships.

so as I’m going through this month to try and prepare spiritually for the next Jewish year, I’m also looking to let go of my need to be prepared for everything and improve my prioritization—no one can do everything, so I need to stop trying and focus on doing what I can do as well as I can possibly do it.

let’s prepare for the unexpected together this year!

#BlogElul 2: Seek

(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)

the most interesting part about today’s word being seek is that the thing I need to seek the most right now is time—time to do things, time to reflect, and, yes, time to do nothing and refresh myself. (you can read more about my complicated relationship with time here.) I also think, though, that the idea of seeking is more complex than just searching; that seeking has a connotation of going on more of a journey during that search—which is what this month is.

I suppose the obvious route to think about today’s word, then, is to think about what has prompted this blogging journey for me—the fact that I am seeking community again and hoping to feel connected again. so this month is about finding a place where I fit in and where my relationship and story are celebrated. before I do that, though, I think this month is a good time for me to also seek some direction for myself since I’m taking some time off from grad school and it’s time to start thinking about the next step. is it a career change? a move? finishing a book? getting another cat? there are so many possibilities, which is both exciting and terrifying, and the time before the new year seems like a great time to examine those possibilities and try to figure out what steps I can start taking to prepare.

that said, we all know I’m not keen on just the obvious—so I want to think about a broader idea that seek brought to mind. one of my favorite bits of scripture is actually from this week’s parshah, which is tzedek tzedek tirdof—or, as more commonly cited, “justice, justice, you shall pursue.” so something to think about this month as I prepare for the upcoming year is, “what have I done to pursue justice? what will I do next to continue that work? how can I support others in their pursuit of justice?” as I consider the answers to these questions, I think I’m also going to be encouraging the people around me to consider these, including my students—and I am hoping to continue letting these questions guide my work moving forward.

#BlogElul 1: Decide

(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)

it’s interesting that the first thing I have to write about is deciding because it is… not my forte, to say the least. I’m not sure if it’s because I have anxiety about change or because I just find decision-making very emotionally exhausted, so I often struggle to even decide what to eat or wear to work. there is also the fact that, even when I have made a decision, I often struggle to follow-through and complete whatever task I have set ahead for myself. so whether it is a lack of decision or a forgotten decision, this is definitely not a verb that I am very comfortable with.

perhaps that is why this is the word I have to start with as I prepare for the new year—or perhaps it is because deciding is such a big part of my Jewish journey.

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