Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Category

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We have been getting ready for Hanukkah/Solstice/Winter here. This year I am going with a “candle light” theme. I like the idea of Hanukkah as a Festival of Lights. I am also decorating with green branches of Holly, White Pine, and Juniper. I bought three more menorot/hannukiot so we have six now, which really helps light up the darkness during the long nights of winter.

We have been having a really lovely holiday season in Philadelphia. B’s work holiday party was extravagantly fabulous. They even had a Candy Bar, which I hear is the new rage at parties. It was cool. I mean, who hasn’t wanted, at some point in their lives, to be given a bag and be allowed to take whatever they want from a candy shop? It really makes you feel like a kid again.

Here are some pics of our holiday festivities so far.

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Last night I was feeling kind of insecure about mistakes I’d made earlier in the day, about times when I was not my best. My mind went to the old familiar place of shame and fear that I am not good enough. Then I went to the next habitual place of “what can I do to be better?”

I think I set a lot of challenges for myself, like Nanowrimo, or this month’s, “exercise everyday for 60 min”, for not totally healthy reasons. I think I am often trying to better myself as opposed to loving myself. And maybe, probably, those two things don’t have to be opposed. But for me, loving myself hardly ever enters into my mind, or my life. I am not sure I even know how to love who I am, without the constant striving. I have a really hard time forgiving myself for not being better.

But that is not how I treat people that I love. I love my husband, my daughter, my friends, for every little part of them. They don’t have to be perfect, or better than they are. I love the whole package.

So, how do I turn even a fraction of that love towards myself? Last night, in my quasi-dream state I thought I might make it into a challenge (of course I did), something like “Try loving myself for 30 days.” Heh.

I am really not sure how to do that. I have some vague ideas about being attentive to what I am feeling when I am eating, drinking, walking, reading, etc, to see if I like how I am feeling, as well as notice my self-talk and try to develop a more loving “inner voice.”

I don’t know. I feel like I have come a long way in the last few years. Therapy and avoiding situations that reenforced a negative self-concept have really really helped. But there are so many layers to this onion. I need to keep working at it.

So, how do you love yourself? Do you have any insight? Practical, spiritual, psychological? Cause I would like to feel better about not being better.

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Snow! We got an uncharacteristic pre-Halloween snowstorm on Saturday. It was pretty to look at, but not so nice to drive or walk through. I know because I did both.

First I took Zoe to her friend’s Halloween party, then Brian and I walked a mile in pelting snow/slush to dinner to Stella Sera.

Today our Temple had a cute event, The Blessing of the Animals. Kids brought their dogs, cats, hamsters, and guinea pigs to be blessed by the rabbi and sung to. LOL. It was very cute.

Here is Charlotte with Rabbi Linda.

I really love our temple. It is full of interesting people and we are usually talking about interesting things. I am so happy we found it.

In the afternoon we went and looked at some houses with a realtor. I realize now it is really too early to be looking, it is just so hard not to want to see inside some of these houses. But I think I will try to stick to open houses, at least until spring.

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Wednesday, after Brian got home from work, we drove out to Doylestown at Mercer Museum – Fonthill Castle. The drive seemed longer than the 40 min google maps said it would take. Night fell fast and the windy country roads I thought would be more scenic than the freeway were lost to darkness.

Fonthill Castle was built between 1908 and 1912 by Henry Mercer, archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian.

The Castle was his home and also housed his collection of 30,000 artifacts from pre-industrial society life.

Our Halloween event was being held after normal museum hours, so we did not get to explore the castle.

But we did get to eat authentic Pan de Muertos.

This is our Bread of the Dead with it’s legs already eaten off. (dead body bread. . . nom nom nom)

And we had skull cookies

And talked some about the differences between how religious Festival Day of the Dead and the more secular Halloween are celebrated. This candy skeleton in fancy dress is a good example.

We also each got a chance to talk about our own Halloween traditions, wherein I learned of even more cool Halloween festivals and Haunted houses in the area. And I learned of something called Hell Night or Devil’s Night, which is a night of petty vandalism and general mischief making on Oct 30th. Have you ever heard of Hell Night or Mischief Night? I am wondering if it is a geographic thing that never made it down to South Florida, where I grew up.

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You are having a bad day. You don’t want to face the obvious, that you have little control over your life, or even your own feelings about it. You’re so far from being able to pull yourself out of this that you don’t even want to.

Then you see it, a bush full of butterflies. At least a dozen of them, fluttering like animated jewels on the bush in your yard.

Then, just like that, your day is all better. And all it took was a miracle.

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Forgive and Forget

Today I participated in the Rosh Hashanah tradition of Tashlich (casting off). You cast off your sins from the previous year, usually through bread crumbs, into a body of moving water.

Zoe and I met a group from our new temple at Vally Green and threw sins, from A to Z, into Wissahickon.

But, other than feeding the ducks and geese there, what were we doing? Can we really give ourselves permission to have a clean slate? Can we just step forward into a new life, leaving behind an alphabet of sins (arrogance, betrayal, cruelty, doubt, envy, fear. . .)?

Putting aside the, IMO, controversial idea of “sin” itself, I wonder, not only if I will be forgiven, but I can forgive myself?

Can you? Can you forgive yourself for being human? I realize that sometimes we are no better than small children who don’t want to share, who need to get their way, and and who acts out when they haven’t had enough sleep or food or attention. So, can we, like a loving parent, reach down and gather up the imperfect child in ourselves and forgive her? Can we say to ourselves, “I love you and I understand living is hard. It’s okay and I forgive you.”

Let’s just recognize that we are not perfect adults. We have not finished growing. We can welcome mistakes as opportunities to learn. And we can also forgive our mistakes. As a friend of mine would say ‘”It’s in the past.”


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