#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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reflections, week 35

hello from teacher institute week! I’m struggling to stay focused during this meeting, so I’m going to lean into my ADHD need to do multiple things to maintain sustained attention and drop y’all a quick update.

write something every day (except Shabbat). I am actually probably taking a break from writing, including academic writing, until mid- to late-September so I can focus on starting the school year off strong with kids and also give myself a bit of a brain break since, at this point, I have been going year-round with grad school for three straight years (and I embarked on this degree less than a year after finishing two years of nonstop grad school for my previous degree). I will try to get back into bullet journaling full-time for September and I might do some sketching/outlining for my dissertation and my novel project for NaNoWriMo, so there may or may not be updates here—but I’m going to be gentle with myself and take some time.

be better about money. I’m trying to tighten the purse strings to make it work for the next couple of weeks, but that looming strike is really increasing my stress levels and I’m honestly not sure how successful I’m going to be with this. I also had to drop more dollars at the vet this week for different antibiotics for Kiwi—who is too clever to be tricked with tablets in food/treats and refuses to unhinge her jaw for me to pill her directly—so there’s just a lot going on dollar-wise right now.

self-validate more. this was tough this week with the return to work—there is some tension happening within my department at work, which made me hella uncomfortable and, at times, insecure… and then I had to present on something that felt outside of my realm of expertise because it was developed this summer and I had to present it to the toughest group in the building, so I wasn’t the world’s most confident person. however, I wore my fave shirt from my summer job, did a brightening sheet mask last night, did my hair this morning, and I wore my lipstick armor (rockin’ my beloved Fenty Beauty’s Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored to much acclaim today)—so I got through it and I feel like it’s strengthened me to keep working with these folx this year.

thanks for sticking with me through this wild summer! until next time ♥

reflections, week 34

hello from the mad rush of packing up camp! I’m taking my lunch break on this, the penultimate day of camp, to have a quick check-in:

write something every day (except Shabbat). I wrote more this past week than I did most of the rest of the month, which is awesome… but I’m still neglecting my bullet journal and a huge amount of what I wrote was academic, so I’m just hoping that next month will be better!

be better about money. that shopping spree from a few weeks ago, along with vet costs from yesterday (Kiwikitty has an upper respiratory infection so she’s a sad and sneezy baby right now), have really depleted the rest of my summer savings so we’re officially in “spend what you’re earning” mode. I’m stressed out about the looming strike for sure, but at least all my August payments were done and I’ll be good for rent… we’ll see how September goes!

self-validate more. I didn’t use the best language to deal with myself when I realized that I was going to be in a financial pinch despite how much I’d try to avoid it, but that’s really been the one time where I really slipped back into old habits… I just have to make sure it doesn’t become a recurring issue!

until next time, where I will trade the hustle and bustle from camp for the meetings and madness of the new school year!

reflections, week 33

here’s a quick check-in in the middle of camp winding down… pardon the short-and-sweet (and highly uncharacteristic) updates!

write something every day (except Shabbat). I’m honestly not gonna really do this for this week/the next because I’ve got to finish my comprehensive exam paper and then it’s the end of camp and the start of CPS… but I’m going to try to at least keep up with the bullet journal over these weeks and use the weekends to do some writing. we’ll see!

be better about money. as expected, last week’s spending spree’s caught up with me and I need to tighten the reins for the next few weeks so I can get back on track. on a bright side, camp going on for an extra week means I’ll (hopefully) make enough money to be okay until the CPS paychecks start coming in. fingers crossed!

self-validate more. I had to do a fair bit of this yesterday in the midst of freaking out about the comprehensive exam, so I’m glad to report that I am still succeeding in this under difficult times. honestly so, so surprised that the thing I thought would be hardest has been the thing I’ve most successfully and consistently done.

untiil next time, where I will hopefully be a little less (hypo)manic!