Community strength

Anyone in my neighborhood will know who this (incredibly belated) post is talking about. The Rabbi and Rebbetzin of one local shul recently married off their oldest daughter, a friend of mine. The way the community has gathered to celebrate is truly inspiring. Many people went to the states for the wedding, and even more came to celebrations back here. What really touched me though, was seeing how many people have sponsored various kiddushim in their honor.

It’s clear to see how much the Rav and Rebbetzin have used their strengths to build up the community. I give the Chattan and Kallah the bracha to be able to also use their strengths to light up the place they now live in. Not like their parents do, but in their own unique way, and yet with the same strength. Mazal tov!

This article should help send a speedy and complete healing to Moshe Rephael b-n Orah and Chana b-t Rachel Leah

A Much-Needed Brownie

It was just a regular school day, and I had no reason to think that my usual routine would be any different. I started counting on my fingers: after Navi was lunch, then Biology, Business, Writer’s Craft, and English.

I was sitting in a classroom minding my own business, when I saw my sister wheeling through the hallway with a smile on her face. She saw me through the window, and her face lit up. In a moment she was in the door. “Hey, sis,” she said. “I brought you a brownie!”
I felt a smile start to form on my face that could rival hers. It was so unexpected, and yet it was just what I needed. I was so impressed by her utter thoughtfulness.

I couldn’t eat it right away, so when anyone asked me about the box I was carrying, I replied, “My sister gave it to me!” and beamed when people responded, “That was so sweet of her!”

So thank you, sis!

 

Thank you for the nagging

I’ve got a bad habit. A fairly harmless one, that many people do. I know I need to work on it, and yet I justify it. ‘I need it to cope.’ ‘I am working on it… a little.’ ‘I’m working on so many midot (traits), I’m just not up for this one yet.’ ‘I’ll be counterproductive, cuz I’ll just end up being resentful and doing it more.’ These were all valid points; I gave the matter some thought, and they went from real excuses to a battle plan for the future. But still, I was doing pretty poorly in the here and now.

Let’s use an example, for simplicity’s sake, and say this trait was complaining. I don’t whinge about the little minor things ‘oh, we have to share a bus with xyz’ or at least, what I call the little things (I guess the vending machine not being plugged in when I’m falling asleep and want soda is kind of a medium thing,) but I didn’t think I’d ever be one of those people who just quietly absorbed whatever life threw at them. a) They’re all tazadikeses and b) It just wouldn’t work for me. I need to get stuff out of my system, in order to stay healthy and sane. My friends have learned to live with it, and I’ve learned to pick a new friend each time I want to vent (or whatever my bad habit really is.)

So all the anti-complaining messages I’ve been hearing pretty heavily the past year (in a general sense, eg. school-wide campaign, never directed at me) just dropped my self esteem, left me defensive, made me resentful and justifying everything, and on occasion, left me in tears. (Inadvertently. It wasn’t her fault, she was only trying to help.) I just told myself everything you read above, and it was true. But it also seeped in.

I still indulge in my bad habit; I know I just need to let my feelings out. But I’ve also started paying more attention, in small sometimes subconscious steps. ‘Ok, so she needs to know I was sick for a week, but can I say it in a more positive way?’ ‘Ok, I need to vent, but how quickly can I change the topic?’ ‘Can I push off saying this for five minutes (at which point I will promptly forget it?)’ ‘Can I ask about her day first?’ I think it has less to do with a shift in behavior, and more just to do with having a more positive mindset, and realizing that my friends don’t always need to deal with this, even if they’re happy to. I just try and ‘vent’ in a more positive, long term, cheerful tone, and it takes the edge off. I’ll catch myself as soon as I feel better and not go on any longer.

So, this is a very long post to say a very short thing; To all the persistent, annoying, cheerful, inflexible, nagging people/messages over the past year, thank you for being that. I guess that future time I was going to start changing is now. Now, to work on my procrastination… let’s discuss it later 😛

Just because

Yesterday, I saw something my brother had been wanting for a long long while on sale, literally across the street from my school. I offered to pick it up for him, and collected the money. I told him I’d get it today if I could, or by Monday if not. Getting sick and spending lunch in the office was not part of the plan. (When is it?) I knew I could to it another day, but I always feel better when the easy to-do’s are crossed off my list right away. I spotted a friend coming into the office to deal with something else, and on impulse, I asked her if she wouldn’t mind picking it up for me.

It was a serious long shot, and I double checked that she didn’t mind when she said yes. But she confirmed my instructions, went out, and came back ten minutes later with the item, with the receipt and change like I’d asked for. So that’s one point for agreeing so well, one point for making it not feel like a big deal, one point for checking my instructions, one point for being fast, and 10 points for getting the job done properly. I was so appreciative, and she really helped make my brother’s day. It’s nice to know people are looking out for you.

Constructive Criticism 2

I hesitate to point an issue to someone, partly because often, it’s sad to hear that the person is fully aware of it and just doesn’t really care, and partly because I value my hard-built relationships with my friends and don’t wish to be so critical of them. So, when I saw a friend in an iffy situation, right after I’d politely mentioned that her hair looked perfect except for that one little spot, I didn’t say anything. Even with a good, positive-outlook friend, two ‘nags’ in five minutes, however minor, just felt bad to me. I couldn’t imagine how much worse it must feel on the listening end, especially first thing in the morning.

But later that afternoon, I saw it again. And though my instinct these days is ‘look right by’,’ this time, it wasn’t. I mentioned that I was sure she didn’t know, but that this was technically something that could end in a ‘rule infraction mark.’

Her response was genuine disbelief, and an immediate ‘thank you for telling me!’ She made me feel a little better about judging my friends favorably– some people truly do want to be corrected, provided it’s done with kindness and tact.

Constructive Criticism 1

It’s somewhat sad to write about something that you wouldn’t even notice is a good and positive thing if it weren’t that so few people did it. But the fact is, we all notice the bad things anyway. I choose to also highlight the good.

I overheard two girls today talking about a particular teacher and a particular class. But what made them different was that they weren’t griping, exaggerating, blaming, or speaking lashon harah.

Rather, one told her friend that she was having xy and z issue, and that this was why. She added, in a reasonable, calm voice, that she knew she should respect this teacher, and she did, but that nevertheless, this was still an issue, and she had no clue what to do about it. Her concerns, I can attest to personally, were valid, and it was an issue. But the way she handled it showed maturity and respect.

Though poor behavior cannot be denied to exist, I also choose not to highlight it. If you don’t understand why this was music to my ears, kol hakavod for you.

Memories of London

Reading someone’s article brought back fond memories of my family’s’ trips to London, England. Specifically, what I’m thinking about now are the times we were in a Tube (Subway, properly known as the London Underground) station with a long curving staircase down from one platform to another when we needed to change trains. Often, when my father would pick up one end of the stroller to carry it down, some random stranger would rush to help him so that he didn’t have to do it alone, or enlist one of his older children (we were pretty strong, having done it before, but being short back then it really was a help.) Said person would help, against my father’s protests, the entire way down and sometimes, offer to help us the rest of the way. It’s happened more than once, and it makes me smile.

Communication

Thank you to the friend, who spent the morning wondering if she paid on her cellphone for incoming calls, or just outgoing. (I though yes, she though no.) She still doesn’t know.

Even so, when a friend called from her seminary in Israel while we were on the bus home, she happily gave in to my nagging and gave it to me so that I, cellphone-less, could also have a quick turn to talk. It was really above and beyond and I was very glad for the opportunity.

Change is good

When I cry out to G-d in a fit of frustration, it seems that the most often comment is– “Why so soon after the last test?! Can I not be allowed to breath freely or smile without worry for a minute?!” It seems that the tests come one after the other– as soon as one finishes, the next is less than a day away, and sometimes hours or even only 30 minutes past the last one. And I’m not talking about little things. I’m not going to get into an objective ‘is this an issue or not’ because we could spend all day topping each other; but to me at least, these are very big things. Things outside my ability to handle that can often take months to resolve.

The past two days have been the first two days of school. And, looking back, I really have had that break I asked for. Sure, I spent the first day back telling people not to hug me because my guts might fall out onto the floor (yes, I really was feeling that sick at first, and it was beyond hilarious when I said it to an over-enthusiastic teacher); I had a dilemma with my lunchbox and a horrible time with my safa diagnostic test, and I still don’t have my new headphones. But all of these, in the grand scheme of things, are pretty minor. Most importantly, I had the resilience to treat them as such.

But I’ve never laughed so much on the first day of school before. Ever. Or nearly any day, in fact. It turns out I can take better care of myself then I though, and so my health’s basically been stable. (To the utter shock of the resource room director, who’s known me for a while.) I won’t say the past two days have been so easy, but they’ve been amazing fun, amazing growth, and a lot of a lighter load then I’m used to getting from Above.

No doubt, even if I wasn’t ‘due’ for another test right now, writing this will seal the deal. But that’s ok. It won’t erase what a wonderful start of the year it’s been. I hope I’ll cherish these simple sweet memories for a while.

It’s ok to get upset when bad things happen. For me, acknowledging it’s hard, and that each test pushes me past what I think I can do, even as I usually come out ok, is how I get the strength to pull together and move on with life. But there’s a flip side. You have to knowledge the good. Believe it or not, I just did.

Thank you G-d, from the bottom of the healthy heart You gave me, written with the fingers that feel pretty good today, recognized with the amazing brain You gave me to use, on the computer that works well, for a day that was good not just in hindsight, but right here and now.

Simchas for all

Imagine going to an engagement party/vort. YAY!, right?

Now imagine going to a vort after a whole day of being on your feet setting up for and hostessing another party. Imagine that you’re hungry, tired, and not fond of crowds. Oh, yeah, and you don’t know anyone there. And to top it off, you are severely under-dressed.

I was SO happy for the kallah, but a small part of me was cringing for myself inside. I was sort of glad at times like that that I don’t know anyone, because it would have been almost worse if I did.

Thank you to all the people who smiled at me. I can’t say it more, or better. Thank you.