Out in the garden where we planted the seeds, There is a tree as old as me.

 

I swear every year when it gets close to my birthday I start this period of reflection. Of the choices I’ve made and where my path has lead me in the year prior. My mortality becomes ever present and hits me in the chest so hard. Like I’m being told to pay attention. Not to forget just how sweet life can be, and how bitter it can be just the same.

I’ve seen so much sorrow in my life, and even in the last year of my life I’ve felt pain I’ve never known. The ending of something I thought would be lifelong. Having to be truthful with myself. Like, GUTCHECKINGLY honest. That’s tough guys. To be that honest with yourself hurts. I wanted my marriage to work. I really did. I also had a lot of feelings in my heart early on that it wasn’t going to. I willed my way forward in something that didn’t feel totally right because I believed in us both. I think that’s what some call being blinded by your feelings.

The ugliness that came out of the person I knew hurt the most I think when it came to myself. It tore me down more than I ever thought possible. It was a lot to process. What hurt more than anything else, and still does, is trying to help my son understand. He still doesn’t fully get it, and that may take a while. We are looking at therapy for him. What a blow right? Not only did I feel like I failed at being married but as a parent. I know many will say that’s not true, and I know in time I’ll accept it. I just never want him to feel pain or dejection. That boy has brought more to me in life than I could ever explain to him. He’s my baby boy. He always will be.

So now home has changed, into something different. Something beautiful and unexpected. In truth I’m not sure how to deal with a lot of what’s inside me right now but I know that my heart, mind, and God will help me with those things. I struggle a lot. I am so very limited compared to what I once was. Physically, mentally, and in general. There are so many things I want to be again but I just can’t. Being trapped inside myself is something I’m going to have to learn to deal with. It’s a process of grief on it’s own. The mourning of what I once was. I lose a little more of me every year.

Ever since my conversion and embracing God in my life I feel pulled magnetically forward toward certain things though. The path is often tough but wow the outcomes are so beautiful and marvelous. The risks are so difficult, but I feel like that level of mortality I have allows me to let go and do what I feel I must. Get out of my own way if that makes sense? When I do the rewards I am given are so incredible I feel I may burst at times.

When I wake up, even though I am often in pain or still tired, I take a few groggy blinks around and realize where I am, and smile. There are so few days that I feel heavy. My heart is filled with joy, even though I know I have to drag my way to the bathroom and take a literal handful of pills and wait for them to kick in for me to move around more. Even though my son will want me to pick him up and I’ll have to tell him I can’t, but instead I’ll sit down and let him crawl in my lap (which at five years old he’s getting a bit big for but I dread the day he can’t anymore.). Some days I wake and Matt isn’t up yet and I get to put a hand on his face with the peeks of the sunlight in the morning shining on his cheeks. His lips perk up into a smile and I touch my forehead to his and just drink in the silence and breath him in before we have to get out of our bed.

There has been a great deal of pain in my life, and I don’t know how long I’ll be here. I try not to ask, I try not to think about it. What I do know is this. My life is beautiful, in the now. Even with all the flaws, pain, and difficulty of functioning. I am surrounded by love, joy, and happiness. The business of living and time passing, which it does so quickly. Six months has gone by in the literal blink of an eye. I want to live in it and take every single moment I have in my life and make it extraordinary to whatever degree I am able. For me that may mean coloring pictures in the basement playroom with my little man while we make crazy lion noises. Or watching from the couch as Matt lifts him up and fly’s him around the living room and gives him strong hugs just one more time before he has to go to work. I’m going to do my very best not to forget that these times are so important. I’ve got to hold on to them all.

 

Shari

 

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Learning to Breathe

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I wonder if I’ll ever fully develop a good sense of self or ability to function.

If any of you have followed me for a while you know that I am incredibly hard on myself. Literally no matter what I do I’m always over analyzing what it is that I’ve done and if I made the correct choice, and also if what I’m doing at that current time is the correct thing. I honestly never know if I’m doing the right thing or if BEING ME is enough. Hell I think the only time I felt semi secure was when I was in therapy over the last six months or so, and my therapist has since quit and I haven’t been able to see her in the last few months, so I don’t have her anymore/a therapist at all. Right now though for the first time in my life I feel happy but so scared. I have plans but I’m SO NERVOUS. I am on the brink of so many things that I have wanted for so long but I initiated so many changes directly before all those things. It’s mildly terrifying.

I am placing an enormous amount of trust in the people around me. Some have absolutely earned it. Others have not. I have so much legal work to do it is legitimately overwhelming me and I don’t even know where to start. I’m watching everything happen and time is running away from me. It’s all happening so fast and I just hope and pray I can keep up with everything. Even thinking of it all gives me the feeling I get when I’m around too many people and I want to explode and disappear at the same time.

I know this. I need to reach out for help more now that I have that. I am so used to taking everything on my shoulders that I forget I can lighten my load. It really is as simple as just asking. I have always had to be the one in control. I don’t need to do that at all. Quite frankly I’m better off if I don’t. I have a partner who shares responsibilities with me. I forget about the strong girl inside of me. When my body is full of weakness, it’s easy to lose sight of the strength I do posses.

I really feel like in some respects I’ve spent the last three years alone. So it’s a shock, albeit a wonderful one, to have someone to lean on regularly, and a partner to count on. The last few months have been wonderful, but also tiring. I’m glad for some events to have passed. I would say my life is beginning, but that’s not true. My life is a wonderful and amazing tapestry of positive and negative choices I’ve made and experiences I’ve had that have brought me to this point in my life. Despite it all, pain, hardship, damage to my self worth, and divorce, I still wouldn’t change a thing as always. I learned a lot and it has brought me to this moment in my life.

Expect more blogs, and possibly more Vlogs as well. I’d really like to start doing that again. I want to look into getting a good digital camera if anyone has any suggestions feel free to chime in.

Until next time darlings,

Shari

Whoever does not see God everywhere does not see Him anywhere.

Raphael Abecassis - Passover

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The title quote I’ve listed is attributed to Kotzker Rebbe. While I totally agree with this ideal, it does not always mean it works for everyone. One of the things I absolutely love about being in the Reform movement is that your spirituality and practice is yours to own to a degree. What I do is on me, and what you do is on you. I am not your judge, I am your sister.

I have taken a liking to the works of Heschel over the last year and I have always been of the philosophy that if you don’t have the best words to start yourself off, seek to those more intelligent than yourself. They have probably said it better well before you.

 Last night we had what is to be one of our last classes, and on that note, I have a date set for my Beit Din and, God willing, my Mikvah and conversion alongside my young son. The amount of reflection in me right now is unreal. Unfortunately it’s been coupled with a great deal of health issues, however, they are beginning to even out. I’ve had to be incredibly careful with myself, which has meant my rationale winning at times over what my heart wishes. Which really brings me to the initial point. The topic for our class was the Judaic ideal of God. We spent the night discussing (with one of my most favorite facilitators of the year to be frank, discussion, banter, and debate in Judaism go hand in hand which I adore) the many different meanings across different movements of Judaism of God.

We talked about the components of God in the world. We explored how many struggle with it, not just in conversion, but as even born Jewish individuals. I mean truly, what a concept! We as humans are built with egos well beyond our own comprehension and sometimes control so at times the idea of the LACK of control over our own lives and destiny and the idea that there is something more powerful, much less something we can’t interact with, that’s a big pill to swallow. Many, grapple with the concept their whole lives, I am certainly in the category of a person who did that for most of my life. That is not to say that I may never go to those mats once more, but for now there is rest, for me. I spoke up some, but as this is my space I want to expand, from my viewpoint, here. Maybe it will help those looking to enter the process, or perhaps those simply looking for some hope or perspective in their Jewish life.

I am an incredibly rational person. I always have been. If you go back and read when I started this journey, conversion was a flatout choice of mine, end of story. I already knew what I was doing the moment I walked into the synagogue my family is now active members of and has made a home at. I put long and hard though and searching into my choice to commit to this. This is not the first time I have made decisions this way and it will not be the last. My belief? This is part of how God plays a role in my life.

You see, I see God in everything. I feel God in everyday life. Be that the amazing milestones my son undertakes that we have waited a very long time to see and watching him and his dad build models together. Or sitting at my dining room table and watching as the sun sets over the hill behind my back deck and waiting with baited breath for the gardenia bush to bloom, ever reminding me of the blessed memory of my mother in law. I breathe in those moments just as much as the oxygen I need to survive and when I do it’s like being lifted up by God. True, I feel just the same when bad things can occur to even still. I feel comfort at times when there is no one there to rightly be comforting me, or my sons small hand will find mine when I cry and say “It okay mama” and I know it will be, and is. I find that strength and I know my strength of will is not just my own. This world rationally is so much larger than is possible to just be. I can’t believe it any other way and I feel otherwise every single day, in every single thing I do. In the music that I hear and sing that touches me so much I can’t help but shed tears.

My husband and I almost weren’t, but we are because I made a choice and I made that choice because I was shown it was the right thing, practically by yellow flashing lights in front of my face. I may not know the big picture and what the plans are and I remind myself of that all the time, but I know that I am not alone. The Rabbi used the word relationship a great deal last night and I couldn’t agree more that it is a relationship. Just as advertised it’s a covenant and you’ve got to work at it, by doing your part to keep things together, in your own life, and the world. You can’t ever give up and give in to settling for good enough, do better, and be better. I spent most of my life turning completely away from that and now that I haven’t my life has been filled with more blessings as has my families than I ever thought possible. Find your way to find God, however that fits for you. You’ll not regret doing so and it will fill your life with more joy to have those people and that covenant in your life than I could ever say if I was given a lifetime of words.

I still cannot fathom that this part of my journey is almost at an end. I have been finishing up some of the books I started this year. Looking into which ones I want to acquire next (There’s one about the first female Rabbi I’ve been REALLY wanting), and making my next plans for continuing my Jewish education when possible. I also need to begin shopping for a Tallit. They are a bit pricey and with our medical expenses I haven’t been able to fit one into our budget, but I dearly want one, especially for the high holidays. Which, I’ll be singing for! On Erev Rosh HaShanah and for N’liah. I’m very excited. What an amazing start to an amazing new part of my life. I’m looking forward to all of the amazing things to come, and watching all the blessings our son will receive in the years to come.

 

 

Give em land with a good view, to start a family

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Things in our country are tense right now. A lot has been going on the last few months and as someone who follows politics pretty closely, and who has been a pretty avid follower of it since I was in high school it’s all hit pretty close to home. I have seen a great deal of hate, sorrow, and ugliness in the days following the presidential election, and I feel the need to turn away from these things.

With some of the important holidays just around the corner I’ve felt it’s important to reflect on the things I’m thankful to have. Before I know it Alexandr will be three years old. His Birthday is in February, and I cannot believe he is growing so fast. His mind amazes me on a daily basis. My husband is my love light still and that flame burns with a ferocity that I’ve never known in life. I could look into his eyes for hours. Pretty sure he could do the same with me, though I cannot pass words from his lips in his absence, I think I could make a close appraisal of his level of affinity.

This year will find this house void of company come Thanksgiving. The sounds of my husbands voice and laughter will not be here. As a result, our footsteps shall not grace it’s floor either. Alexandr and I will do what most people do, and for once fit into a strange societal standard I’m not accustomed to meeting. We shall travel for the holiday. We will make new memories with my wonderful sister, and her beautiful children. We will forge fresh beginnings, and I’ll be invited into the warm and open arms of family. We’ll cook turkey, drink wine, and share our lives in a way we are not always able. I am grateful for the opportunity.

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Not all people are as blessed as I, nor do they lead as warm and loving a life as I do.

I face challenges, with my health, and my sons.

I do not lay my head down at night worrying about the roof over my head, or if there will be food to eat in my home anymore, I do not worry if we will be able to provide an ample Christmas to our child. The contrary, I wonder where we will put the new gifts he will be provided!

I realize now more than ever, that the love, and family that I have, albeit small compared to some, is so warm and strong, that I could wrap up in it like a thick blanket, and carry it with me. It would shield me from so much harm if I would let it. That is a true blessing, and for it I am incredibly thankful.