Monthly Archives: April 2015

Counting the Omer – Day 24

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day twenty-four which is three weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve arba she hem shlosha shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Netzakh, beauty within power, grace within victory.

Being a gracious winner is no easy task. That unselfish focus on others, the one where I congratulate them if they win, with no resentment, and feel compassion for them when they lose, with no false pride or gloating – that is a skill I can work on. It’s not a skill that comes easily to me, nor I suspect to most. Mostly, we think about ourselves. When we lose, we think, “drat, what could have happened? I must be off my game! I need more practice.” or even worse, “the sun was in my eyes” or “she cheated!”  When we win, we think, “good, I did it; I’m the best, and I rock!’ In some ways, there’s a lot of good to this too – the alternative of not caring at all who wins or loses has its own issues, in which people stop trying, stop feeling any real pride in success, stop appreciating a hard won victory. That robs the victory of its glory just as much. No, it’s an almost global awareness that one needs to have, the godly one where both the cat and the sparrow are seen, treated with compassion, and appreciated. Then, a person could feel pride in her victory, while at the same time, feeling compassion for those that didn’t win. Now, that sounds beautiful to me.

Today, we win further victories by celebrating those we have graciously and with compassion.

Counting the Omer – Day 23

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day twenty-three which is three weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve shalosh she hem shlosha shavuot vey shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevurah be Netzakh, strength within power, might within victory.

Today, I’m thinking of the opposite of the goal in this day. I’m thinking of procrastination – the knowledge that you can’t succeed, and therefore there’s no point in getting started. This is the weakness within defeat – it can bring you down, and start a vicious cycle where one defeat leads to less willingness to start and that leads to a bigger defeat and then, well, there’s no point in even trying. Consumed by panic, one avoids doing anything. This, of course leads to nothing but defeat and weakness. So, today, I tell my mind to shut up. It doesn’t matter if I panic or if I think I’ll succeed or anything else at all whatsoever. The only thing that matters is that I start. I find the strength to start and realize I’m much more likely to get to victory that way than by procrastinating.

Today, we win by taking the first step, and the next and the one after that. We have the strength to keep going towards victory.

Counting the Omer – Day 22

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day twenty-two which is three weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve shtayim she hem shlosha shavuot vey om ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Netzakh, kindness within power, love within victory.

Sometimes, “no” can be the kindest thing we can say. No, I will not rescue you – I will not get you out of the fix you got yourself into. I can stay by your side. I can watch, should you need that. I can even, so long as you own the process and take the steps on it, provide some help. But the limit exists, and I will enforce it, even if it seems silly to you, even if you don’t understand it. Heck, even if I don’t entirely understand it but just know the pattern has to change because it’s become ugly, still there’s a limit, and I will stick to it. No. That is my power. That is sometimes my only power, and I push for it with all the strength at my disposal. When I do, sometimes, you take up my challenge. Sometimes, you do the do things. Sometimes you succeed beyond your wildest imagination, and that is a victory. It’s the only victory worth having, really. Watching you, I am proud of you. I believe in you. I know you can do this, no matter how hard it gets.

Today, we win through supporting without rescuing. We can love others without taking over for them.

Counting the Omer – Day 21

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day twenty-one which is three weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve ehad she hem shlosha shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Tiferet, majesty within beauty, nobility within grace.

I often wish I could draw. There are certain Omer counts that would be so much better done as pictures. For instance – there was one that had a conqueror on a horse. This one, I’d draw a beautiful queen, who uses her beauty as part of her ruling strategy. From Helen of Troy to Jadis in Narnia, from Grace Kelly through Diana, queens real and imagined have been finding majesty within beauty. Now, often, especially in stories, that majesty, and that beauty is misused. People died because someone was beautiful, people fought to possess a pretty face, people obeyed ridiculous commands because they were issued by someone who looked good. So maybe today is a day of caution – don’t misuse your beauty if you happen to be a queen! The thing is, most of us have no throne. I have none, but I do remember those years when I was pretty enough and young enough to rule through beauty. People did what I said because I was young and shapely. Did I use the power well? Who knows? That was many years ago. Now I have children with these powers. (Huh, I wonder if that makes me a queen-mother?) So, what is my beauty? The beauty of wisdom, of kindness, of capability – some of which I have and some of which I really should have done better with over the years. What is my majesty, and how am I misusing it? Well, there are always people who are attracted to me. If I take advantage of them and have them do things for me, out of their attraction, that’s not using my power well. If I treat them coldly, if I ignore their attraction – that doesn’t seem like a good use of my power either. I have to work to develop what beauty I can. I must also, regardless of the age I am work to ensure that when I rule, I bring joy to people. I can do that – give the opening that makes people smile. I can use the attraction people have to make others happy to see someone so beautiful, but caring towards them.

Today, we use the majesty of our beauty to bring joy to others – we aim for the kind of beauty that reflects off others faces, the kind of majesty that rules through love.

Counting the Omer – Day 20

(Still 2 days behind! How does this happen??? But the book list game was so much fun…)

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day twenty which is two weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim she hem shtey shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Tiferet, sexuality within beauty, intimacy within grace.

Beauty is still one of the first characteristics that most people look for when picking an intimacy partner. So, the connection is there. Attraction, that draw between two people that results in love and jealousy and family and rejection and connection and so much more…is it something that can be developed? Is it something that one either feels or doesn’t and if one doesn’t feel attracted, one never will? Is it something that can be grown though attention and focus?  I have heard different views, from different people. I have even held differing views, depending on when. Certainly, when I work on being attractive for another, I am almost instantly more attracted to that person as well. It may be person dependent. What is certain is that forcing it is a bad idea. If attraction can be developed, ether in oneself or another, it would be through gentleness and caring, through being more and more attractive, but never through force. Sometimes, that means letting go of intimacy – and sometimes, it is in that space where we stop trying that intimacy happens.

Today, we check to make sure we are not forcing attraction, but letting it grow. .

Counting the Omer – Day 19

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day nineteen which is two weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom tisha-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Tiferet, gratitude within beauty, humility within grace.

Am I grateful for anything connected to beauty? Well, when the weather is somewhere between raining and snowing and one is in a school full of the usual graffiti, cheerful posters, and uniforms, it’s hard to find beauty. It’s hard to be grateful. Sure, one can say “I’m grateful for the bits of beauty I can find here and there” and one can try to look for them, but it just feels so forced. It’s nowhere near as pretty as the time that…It’s nothing like that day when I… And that memory – that is a beauty I can appreciate, one I can be truly grateful for.  I realize that I’ve created a bank of pretty things in my head, and with humility, I express my gratitude for these memories.

Today, we remember beauty even when not surrounded by it, and express gratitude for our amazing memories.

Counting the Omer – Day 18

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day eighteen which is two weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom shmona-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Tiferet, power within beauty, conquest within grace.

What is beauty’s power? The power to convince people to do ridiculous things without even thinking why they do them. Now, of course, we are evolved past that – we do not have wars because of a pretty face, or force hundreds of people to work on a structure just so it would look good. That is good – but for me personally, I may have lost something small along the way, and now that I look around, I may need to find it again. Maybe, there are places where I need to stop and breathe and recognize beauty and let it conquer my heart and let it sing within me and give me the power to do impossible, ridiculous – but sometimes, very wonderful – things.

Today, we notice beauty’s power, and where appropriate, let it rule us.

Counting the Omer – Day 17

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day seventeen which is two weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom sheva-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Tiferet, beauty within beauty, grace within grace.

‘Ogres are like onions’ says a line from one of my favourite movies. ‘Ogres have layers.’ In the movie, under the princess exterior was an ogre appearance, and under the ogre appearance was a strong, fun, pushy person, and under the strong, fun, pushy person was someone really lonely and under the loneliness was someone kind and caring, and so on…Today, I look at people, and sometimes, I see onions. (No, not literally! That would not be beautiful! Humph! How do I find all these people?) There’s that outer appearance level, and the naked level underneath. There’s the outward presentation we show others (How are you doing today? Fine, just fine.) and the irritation we’re hiding underneath. There’s the friendliness we can sustain because someone needs us and the pain we have when we’re finally allowed to acknowledge it, and under that, the caring that let us sustain that friendliness, and under that, the loneliness that led to the pain, and under that…Again, I find myself in the truth=beauty equation, as I look for the loveliness within the person, the beauty of those hidden layers. Sometimes, that’s hard, because many of our in-between layers are downright ugly. That’s where we keep that murderous rage that it’s not OK to show openly, that’s where we keep the whiney jealousy, the self-indulgent sloth, the intense greediness – it’s all there. (OK, maybe not for you – but for me, peel back the calm layers, and what’s underneath is less calm.) It’s the layer under that which is the goal though, the layer at the very core – and that layer, that layer is God and Love and Beauty and Truth. In all of us, that layer is very, very beautiful.

Today, we take a deep breath and show the beauty we have hidden at the core of our many layers.

Counting the Omer – Day 16

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day sixteen which is two weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shesh-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Tiferet, limits within beauty, strength within grace.

I’m not a makeup kind of person. It’s the first thing I thought of when I wrote the title – I don’t like and don’t do makeup and that’s one of my limits within beauty. People have limits to what they will do for appearance. Sometimes, those limits are ability induced (there are those of us for whom it makes no sense financially or time wise to keep up with the latest fashions,) sometimes style based (I know plenty of women who should *not* wear skirts as it would look dreadful on them,) and sometimes personal preference based (weird it may be, but I don’t like green.)  Often, we are told to overcome our limits – to use strength to learn how to use makeup, to get creative with our fashion finances, to find just the right skirt, to get over colour dislikes. Sometimes, that’s the strength we need. Other times, we need to answer, “no thank you, I like my appearance as is.” How do I know how to find the balance? I look at the reason for my answer. Am I staying with no makeup out of weakness – it’s too much work, it’s too much money, it’s too much time – while I’d really like to use it? Or am I staying with ‘no makeup’ out of strength – it’s not the way I want to spend my time and money and effort and I like my appearance just fine without it? Because one of the deeper understandings of Tiferet is truth – the underlying notion that what is true is inherently beautiful.

Today, we decide on our appearance from a position of strength, not weakness.

Counting the Omer – Day 15

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day fifteen which is two weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom hamesh-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve yom ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Tiferet, love within loveliness, kindness within beauty.

It is the week of beauty – but not everything one sees is beautiful. Sometimes, one really does want to say, ‘wow, that is a hideous hat.’ Of course, I don’t do that – I may not have perfect courtesy, but even I know better than to tell someone they or something or someone they love is ugly. So, I pick something to compliment – a warm smile, a vibrant colour, a great sense of humour, a capacity for caring…The effects of this are double and sometimes, mysteriously positive. First, the person I compliment may focus on that positive aspect of the situation and may actually come up with something truly beautiful. So, if I tell someone their hat is a very vibrant blue, they might go for vibrant and exciting hats and might actually pick a beautiful one. Second, it changes the focus in me. If I just complimented something, I’m more likely to find it appealing. It’s a weird sort of thing, but it works and it’s kind of neat.

Today, we pick 5 people we know and love, and find something about them to compliment.