#BlogElul 5776 #ElulGram – Elul 17: Awaken

yellow_flowersNow that I have become an adult orphan, I often think that I am next “in line” and this is an unsettling feeling.

My children are entering adult age, and I am entering another age too. I feel it is time I become wiser and that some of the unhealthy behaviors I have held to for all those years of rushing through my own adult life have to really go away, otherwise I might end up with not being able to answer the question: who was I? what did I do to be who I was meant to be?

The more I am progressing with this year’s Elul series, the more I feel like more than just last year is being reviewed as I try to see how to apply the theme of the day.

In some ways, life already gave me ample opportunities to work on some of the middot (characteristics or virtues, values by which we “measure” the accomplishments of a life lived by the Torah, the “teachings” literally).

As we are quickly heading towards the season of repentance and forgiveness, I still feel the resistance though to tackle those that are more difficult to deal with, and I want to retreat in a space of sleepiness, where it is easier to ignore the work still to be accomplished. It becomes easier to make excuses then, to argue of how tiring it can be to revisit what is past and cannot be undone, to just let it sit as it is and not even attempt to redefine it so it brings more meaning and leads to more intentional actions in the future.

It is in this movement of back and forth that my soul pushes me, gently but firmly, and won’t let me off the hook until I commit to stand up and make amends to vow to do better. Because I always can.

 

 

This year, I have committed to a daily blog in English to participate in @imabima’s project of Elul. I will dedicate my endeavor for the רפואה שלמה complete healing of   מרדכי אלעזר בן חנה מרים (Mordechai ben Chanah).

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Transformations

Roberval Antic ScaleNew Years are opportunities for clean slates. This is why we love it to make goals and resolutions that we generally forget one or two weeks later, if not less, after we have made them.

I am ready for changes but I fear them so much.

I wonder what is so scary in my letting go of bad habits, of clutter, of useless papers or old clothes, and most of all, of letting go of my paralyzing fears.

Four years ago, I started a new business and I was very excited about it. Because of my previous experience with small business, I knew that if by the end of the third year I was not making any profit, said business was to be considered as a hobby, rather than a business. I managed to make profit at the end of the first year, but never enough to hire myself in my own business. The end of the third year has come and getting my books ready for taxes is scaring me, because I am afraid it is showing my failures and my shortcomings, when in reality I should be really proud of myself.

 

But I come from a culture where I was taught how to spot mistakes rather than catch successful endeavors, how to improve and strive for the perfection, rather than to value the effort and the enthusiasm.

It is very hard for me to let go of those cultural messages, to shake my bad habits of judging myself harshly all the time.

 

At the same time, I was getting so enthusiastic about my new venture, I started to log in a lot of data, in the move of self-quantification and some amazing transformations occurred because I did so: I was able to lose 40 and some pounds, I managed my bouts of severe depression and hypomania to an acceptable level of function among the most remarkable feats.

Logging data was not the solution to the underlying problems I have with my food or mood disorders. It was merely a guide for me to not bury my head in sand and then realize when it is too late that I have sunk at the bottom of a pool or smashed into a wall because of speed. And I am forever thankful for the apps that help me keep my life in check that way. Otherwise I really can’t say how I would have navigated those years.

 

But what happened about transforming myself was also too scary, obviously: when I was slimming down, people were taking notice, everyone was but me. I was not feeling different. I was feeling lighter and flattered of course, with the compliments and encouragement I was receiving, but I was most of all feeling annoyed by the attention it was getting me, as if it was signaling some looming doom in the future because of that.

 

And I knew it exactly when it happened. Like a switch one day, the binges were back.

I fought them for twenty-four months. And on the second anniversary of that fatal switch, I kind of gave up, feeling like it was a lost battle.

 

But this is a new year, a new slate, and I know that the mental negative messages that I keep hearing inside my head are just that, mental negative messages. Not any reality. I can replace those messages with positive ones, like if I have done it once, I can do it twice (and thrice, why not! oh do I love the word thrice!!)

 

So for a first start in 2015 I will transform the look of this blog and change its theme, because it is time.

Do NOT get on your email before breakfast

Email Clipart For some reason, I followed this rule this morning, for the wrong motive, in fact I was waking up and did not get up right as usual, certainly because it felt coldish outside: I can sense it even though the home temperature would remain the same, but the furnace was roaring, that is the first indication, for sure.

Then because it was a little later, I realized I was sleepy, and dragging and getting everyone late in my trail. Having two teenagers to get ready for their respective schoolbus can be a morning chore, that needs no distraction, and believe me, checking my emails can be a distraction: I generally get a good fifty new emails during the night, because some of my correspondants are already operational since they live in different areas of the world: the late owls from California, as well as the early birds from Europe and Israel, when we are not talking about the news flowing from the very far-East that are always interesting too, even if they may be less personal to me.

Of course, today, there was an email that I should have seen, that contained an attachment to be printed and handed to one of my sons before he goes to High School. I missed it. He left without the handout, which he generally enjoys reading prior mentoring in a 3rd Grade religious school class. I feel a little guilty about it, but not so much, the teacher sent it at her usual active hour of the day, which seems to be 3 a.m, I’ve always wondered…

I’ve always wondered how my imagination can go fly into other people’s lives, with little such indications as the time they post an email, or how they format their documents, or how they write their thank-you’s, etc. Those indications go through my own filters and they become the drip that opens the flow to many representations. I do not necessarily attempt to correct my representations, and I assume that the image I start forging is going to flicker soon enough, and that the next time I meet this person, I won’t be prejudiced, it has never served any other purpose than entertaining me for a couple of seconds, while noticing the oddity or the difference.

However, this rule of never checking my email before breakfast proved once again that it was not the right rule for me! If I do I am doomed and get late, if I don’t I am doomed and get even later!

What’s your rule of thumb? When do you check your email? What are your practices with email? Are you disciplined? Are you carried away? Has email become less important to you because you prefer other means to communicate with others? How do you master your communication with the people you work with? Please comment! I am genuinely interested in others’ habits and hurdles!