Category Archives: Iyar

Omer 44

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 forty four, which is six weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’arba she hem shisha shavuot ve shtey yamim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Malkhut, strength within majesty, might within presence

I was talking on the facebooks yesterday, and ran into this bit about executive dysfunction. On “That Spoonie Feel”, a blog, someone wrote:

The more I find myself having to explain executive dysfunction to people the more I realise it’s near impossible. There’s a thing. I wanna do that thing, I really do. But no matter how hard I try to tell my brain to do the thing, it won’t do the thing. I can’t tell you the amount of hours I’ve spent scrolling mindlessly through social media wanting more than anything to stop, but I can’t. This concept is so ridiculously alien to abled/neurotypical people and makes awareness/acceptance for it so hard to achieve. If an abled/nt person wants to, say, have a shower, or get some food, they just up and do it, no second thought. But the amount of mental exhaustion that goes into getting myself to get up and do one of those things can honestly be disabling in itself. It’s not laziness, or not caring. It’s a total mental block between wanting something and doing something about it. I really wish the concept of this was more widely acknowledged. We are not lazy.

So, I thought about it and here was my reply:

“Tell me about it. I actually explain this using a business. Think of the executive function as the boss. I have a terrific brain – my r & d team. My workers, who make the stuff – my arms and legs – quite functional. My sales staff – mouth, ears – very well trained – does their job well too. I have people buying supplies, and stocking shelves. But my admin staff – the foreman who says, “keep working “, the secretary who manages the schedule and says where everything is, the boss who sets priorities and directs staff to tasks – in fact, the executive of the company- is missing. Imagine how well a company would work with no admin: no one to deal with bickering staff or conflicting priorities, no one to schedule anything or make sure that a team doesn’t go off on a tangent, no one to find the flipping replacement light bulbs! That’s what it’s like for me when I want to shower.

The other thing I do is i spell it out in painstaking detail. So, first, I have to decide it’s time to shower. Then, I have to convince myself to put the phone down. Then I have to stand up. I have to make it past 2 bookshelves without picking a book up. Then I leave the room, and remember to close the door quietly. Then I walk to the bathroom, but once there don’t remember why I’m there and return to the bedroom and pick up my phone. Then I repeat all this ten minutes later, and make it to the bathroom at last, only to realize I need a towel and I forgot to bring mine. Back to the bedroom I go!

By then, people are staring at me with a horrified expression on their faces, saying, “stop; please stop!’ ”

For me, strength is making myself get through the morning routine, making myself mark papers, making myself prep materials, and then STILL show up in front of people and lead them too. Strength is never giving up even if it took me 7 attempts just to make it to the shower this morning, because the blog isn’t going to write itself, and neither are the midterm report cards. Strength in leadership is being clear with people that no matter how hard it gets, it’s doable and worth the effort and I know, because I do it every day. Whether it’s with lists or games, sticker charts or points, candy treats or check boxes, I keep looking for ways to inspire myself, direct myself, lead myself and be the executive.

Today, may I have the strength to keep working out ways to be my own leader.

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Omer 43

Today is day forty three, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’shalosh she hem shisha shavuot ve yom ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Malkhut, kindness within majesty, grace within nobility

This is the last week of the Omer and today, we might as well look at what Malkhut is trying to tell us because Malkhut in modern day times doesn’t seem to be well understood or appreciated. Most people think of the ruling, bossy, yelly aspect of kings – the telling you what to do, ignoring your needs, never listening, able to impose random punishment kings. The inheritors and perpetuators of the white supremist patriarchy, in fact. It’s how some kids see parents or teachers, too.

So what the heck, ending 49 days of self-analysis and hopefully, self improvement with Malkhut? Shouldn’t it be something useful, like Service, or Kindness, or Joy, or whatever? Why majesty? Because that’s not what is meant by majesty. Here, the ruler in question is God. God has no need to yell, God always pays attention, God isn’t white or male. So, what kind of majesty is this? This is the parent or teacher or leader of any kind that we aspire to. This is the one who inspires rather than bosses, who people follow because that person does things so well that following them makes sense. This is the ruler about whom people would say “I would follow them anywhere.” This is a true leader.

When we listen to a teacher who inspires us to learn more of a subject by his sheer love of it, when we finish a project just so as not to disappoint the manager who has herself put endless hours into it, when we ride into battle following a leader who has always fought on the side of goodness and peace – we are looking at the divinity within a person. When we ourselves are that manager, leader, parent or teacher, we are emulating God. We are practicing Malkhut.

True majesty must, by its very nature, be founded in grace and kindness. Without a deep inner understanding of the other and love of our fellows, we have no chance of leading the way we want to. So, today, we take the extra step, we do the work, we lead with kindness and through inspiration, and we embody Malkhut.

Today, may I inspire others by the kind ways in which I lead.

Omer 42

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 forty two, which is six weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’shtayim she hem shisha shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Yesod, majesty within intimacy, nobility within sexuality.

Nobility? Eh, it’s not very noble, sex is. It’s sweaty and people have fat rolls and sometimes they make gross noises and as far as I know, it’s about as un-noble as it gets. As for the ‘purer’ love between a kid and a parent, somewhere between changing the diapers and putting up with the temper tantrums, paying for the lost bus pass (again) and explaining that going to the dentist and doing taxes are things that you have to do without reminders from mommy, that love seems less noble and more just tiring too. And yet – yet it is. It is beautiful, because the simple act of loving makes everything shine and look better and sound better and feel easier. That loving can be the rose coloured glasses through which one sees the world and which make everything look better.

Today, I realize that the nobility of love is that it can make even very unappealing moments seem majestic.

Omer 41

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 forty one, which is five weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’ehad she hem hamisha shavuot ve shisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Yesod, intimacy within intimacy, foundation within community.

Today, I think about building friendships. Sometimes, it’s so easy – the other person says something funny, I laugh, and presto, a connection is made – a friendship is built. Sometimes, it’s a boatload of work – of getting poison thoughts out of my head, of maintaining limits and boundaries even when it feels artificial to ensure there is no power imbalance, of calling even when they’re boring or overemotional or both, of doing favours – and accepting gifts, of little things that make others smile, not laugh. It’s a lot work which I don’t always want to do. But that is where the intimacy within intimacy comes from – doing that work, finding those answers and building those connections.

Today, I build the foundation within the foundation of my relationships – I do the work even when I don’t want to.

Omer 40

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 forty, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim she hem hamisha shavuot ve hamisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Yesod, gratitude within foundation, humility within intimacy.

Today, I am grateful for love. It transforms everything. Really, it is shining bright rainbow colours added to an otherwise bland palette. And the thing about love is that there is no way whatsoever that I can do it by myself. By its nature, Yesod – whether defined as sexuality or intimacy or connection – requires two. So, I have someone else who needs to play in order for Yesod to be successful, someone who I may as well be grateful to. In its meaning of foundation, Yesod confirms that basically, love underlies everything. And today is an excellent day to express gratitude about that foundation, to test it, to see that it remains firm and to enjoy a life built on love.

Today, I am grateful for love. I express that gratitude to those who love me.

Omer 39

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 thirty nine, which is five weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve tesha she hem hamisha shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Yesod, victory within sexuality, conquest within intimacy

The victory we need when it comes to sex is victory against society’s lies. Society tells us bodies are ugly. The only bodies allowed to be seen in public are unrealistic ones that have had certain attributes exaggerated for the sake of sales. Society tells us that our bodies are trying to bring us down because they are fat, or ungainly, or whatever it is that’s wrong with us. Society tells us that the smells our bodies produce are disgusting, and that we need to rid ourselves of them. Most of these messages aren’t said out loud. They’re just there. So, our victory is to recognize them, to fight them, to reject them and to affirm: our bodies are good, beautiful, important and exciting.

Today, I remember that my body is good, beautiful, important and exciting. Appreciating my body is a victory against society’s dictates.

Omer 38

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 thirty eight, which is five weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve shmone she hem hamisha shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Yesod, beauty within sexuality, loveliness within intimacy

You know, there are two ways to look at everything. From one side, sex and everything about it is disgusting. It often smells funny, and it is associated with private parts and some of it is in the same area as we eliminate, and it’s not something we do in public or even talk about. It’s gross and that’s all there is to it. On the other hand, it is a way to bridge the gap between person to person, to have our bodies participate in acts of sharing and creation which bond our minds and hearts together. It is a beautiful way to relate to each other and to build connection. When done right, we call it making love, because that is what we are making or building. But it’s entirely in how one chooses to look at it.

Today, I choose to see intimacy as beautiful, not ugly.

Omer 37

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 thirty seven, which is five weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve sheva she hem hamisha shavuot ve shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Yesod, strength within family, endurance within intimacy

I was thinking of a lullaby today, and I was thinking of how long I’ve been singing it. I sang it in Russian before I knew English and I still sing it in Russian, so most of the people I sing it to don’t know what I’m saying. Here are the words, roughly translated by yours truly:

“Fields of moonlight shining, night is bright as day.
Sleep my child, my darling, sleep as I once lay,
In your pillow’s corner, tuck your little nose
Stars, the sky’s performers, like freckles look below.

Gutters out the candle, fading ray by ray
Sleep my heart, my handle, sleep as I once lay
In your pillow’s corner, tuck your little nose
Stars, the sky’s performers, like freckles look below.

Gutters out the candle, fading ray by ray
Sleep my heart, my handle, sleep as I once lay
Like all lullabies, it is fairly meaningless, and evokes emotions more than a story or coherent thoughts. The words, however poorly I may have translated them, take one from one time to another. With this lullaby, that’s particularly appropriate. I’ve been singing it for almost 40 years. One of the people I sang it to is 38 now, and another is 8, and many are between those ages, with their own interests and lives, loves and lullabies. Because it was always in Russian, I don’t know if any of them remember or know this one – it was not my main one for most of them, it was the “Gosh, I’m so tired, won’t you please go to sleep so I can stop singing” one. But it was often there, somewhere, and today, it’s the one I think of.

What does it mean, “as I once lay?” I myself had poor sleeping nights, and nightmares. There were nights I’d really rather not have, never mind wishing them on a child. I was certainly not the innocent sleeping child of postcard pictures. Yet, this day, it struck me – this lullaby builds. It builds connection and relationship, it builds intimacy, it builds and as it builds it strengthens.

Maybe that’s exactly what I want for those children that I sing to – that strength of having lived through all those different nights, that intimacy of built relationships one lullaby at a time, that vision of the stars as little freckles on God’s tousle-haired face, looking down on me, on the kids I’ve sang to, on the kids I’ve yet to sing to – pulling us all together in a deep intimacy against the darkness of the night.

Today, I think of all the little ways I’ve used to build intimacy, and all the people I’ve built that intimacy with. They are my strength.

Omer 36

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 thirty six, which is five weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve sesh she hem hamisha shavuot ve yom ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Yesod, kindness within sexuality, grace within intimacy

Oh, never liked this week! All secrets and intimate stuff and stuff we shouldn’t really be talking about but here it is the sexuality week. This week is dangerous! It’s so easy to hurt someone that is family, that one is intimate with. Who knows what will destroy that relationship? Calling too often and being labelled as annoying? Showing too many emotions to the point that you’re scary? Being reserved and private, and people think you’re disconnected? Not coming over often enough so that you’re just plain neglectful? People’s opinions of us are made much too easily and are much too hard to change in this area. People get easily offended and quickly turned off. We can think of Yesod a bit like a minefield – if we aren’t careful, there could be an explosion. So, we must walk through this minefield with caution. What’s one of the best ways to be cautious in the area of intimacy? I think it’s to act with Khesed, with kindness. If I make an effort to think of the other person, to think of her needs, to think of her areas of offence, and act with as much kindness and grace as I can muster, I am less likely to cause an explosion that destroys the sexual relationship. I am more likely to succeed in creating intimacy and closeness.

Today, I am kind in my relationships – it helps to build intimacy.

Omer 35

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 thirty five, which is five weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve hamesh she hem hamisha shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Hod, nobility within gratitude, majesty within humility

A humble king – one of the oddest but in some ways, most beautiful images and an excellent description of the Jewish “chosen people” concept sometimes. Yes, one can be special and humble. One can remember that majesty doesn’t have to mean robes or crowns, jewels or cups, or anything else of that ilk. It can mean service and responsibility, a need to bring light unto the people, and a desire to represent others rightly, to ensure that one sets the best example. It can be a life of giving and caring for others, quietly and serenely lived. To achieve that humble nobility, we begin with gratitude. We express gratitude for the world we’ve been given and the mantle we’ve been asked to wear. Then, we go on to do the next necessary task.

Today, we are quietly, gratefully, humbly doing our best to be holy.