Thursday, September 18, 2014

#BlogElul: An End-of-Day Haiku

Crazy, busy life.
Too much to do in each day.
Need a bedtime Sh'ma.

Lailah tov.


Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#BlogElul: Looking for Love

As someone who has yet to stumble upon my bashert, I'm always interested to learn how individuals who are one half of a loving couple met originally. Answers often include:  in college, online, at a bar, at a singles' event, sitting next to each other on a plane or train, or fixed up by a mutual friend.

Funny, nobody ever says, "I met my bashert on Craigslist."

That idea got me to thinking...

Cue the dreamy, I'm-leaving-reality music...
 
Dear Craigslist,

I know that in addition to making matches between buyers and sellers of furniture, apartments, cars and jobs, among other things, you’ve also got quite a reputation as a forum for people in search of casual sex, friends with benefits and no-strings attached relationships, none of which is of interest to me. However, tired of waiting around for someone to fix me up, and frustrated with Jdate, match.com, eharmony and other more traditional online and offline venues for finding someone for a date (and maybe, just maybe, a great relationship over time), I’m turning to you in the hopes that you might be able to help me out here.   
  1. I’m 51, so when I say “fifty-something” or “age appropriate,” I don’t mean 28 and I don’t mean 63. Fifty to 57 would be great.
  2. I’m Jewish and although not religious in the traditional sense, it is an important part of my life in a liberal sort of way. Therefore, Jewish guys who still retain some attachment (even if it’s mostly cultural) to their heritage are most desirable.
  3. Although I’m not looking to get married again (at least not at the moment), I also am not interested in meeting guys who already are married or are not quite divorced. It would be great if you could limit your selections for me to guys who are fully divorced, widowed or single, in that order.
  4. I don’t have a specific “type” in mind when it comes to guys and I don’t much care about hair color, eye color or that sort of thing. At the same time, at 5’5”, I do appreciate guys who are at least 5’7” or 5'8". Please feel free to let your pool of candidates know that I’m height and weight proportionate (and stay that way with the help of the treadmill nearly every other day). I’ve got long, curly auburn hair, brown eyes and a great smile. I will be happy to send a recent picture (in which I am wearing neither baseball cap nor sunglasses) to serious suitors once we’ve exchanged a few emails and I expect that they’ll do the same.
  5. Much more important to me than looks, though, is that you do your best to send me a mensch. Of course I don’t expect perfection (I’m old enough and seasoned enough to know that it only exists in fairy tales and the movies), but I would love to spend time getting to know someone who is honest, gentle and kind, seriously interested in finding the right somebody and not into playing games. I don’t really care about how much money he makes, whether or not he travels annually to the Caribbean or how many electronic gadgets he owns. Speaking of electronic gadgets, though, if we do decide to meet and chat over coffee or a drink (my preference for a first get-together), it’d be nice if he’d turn off his phone and wait until later to check his messages and emails.
  6. I live and work in Manhattan and would like to meet a “local” guy. I’m also am open to guys who live in the other four boroughs, as well as close by in Westchester and New Jersey. However, Florida, Maine, and upstate New York are a bit out of the question. Some consideration of geographic boundaries would be greatly appreciated.
  7. I know that these are tough economic times, but gainful, satisfying employment is a big plus as are solo living quarters unless, of course, the guy shares space with his kids – either full-time or part-time. (Although I don’t have any of my own and am way too old to have any in the future--I’m 51, after all—I’m definitely open to having other people’s kids in my life and hope that the guy you send me has a positive, loving relationship with his.) 
  8. Although I don’t expect a response that rivals the Great American Novel, I do appreciate a few thoughtful, carefully written sentences about the guy you’re sending me. I’d love for him to tell me a bit about himself and his life, as well as what positive attributes he’d bring to a meaningful long-term relationship. Most undesirable in the response category are one-liners, canned text, photos with no words (and no shirts), and the totally out-of-context imperative “call me” with a phone number.
  9. I know you won’t necessarily send me a guy who’s a carbon copy of me (that’d be boring), but it would be great if he and I had some shared values. (I know, I know…this is Craigslist. What am I thinking?!) High on my list are smarts, honesty, integrity, intellectual curiosity, kindness, family, friends and other things money can’t buy. Please don't send me guys who lie, steal or cheat.
  10. Lastly, to make this thing really work, I hope you’ll be able to send me someone with whom I have that all elusive chemistry. Ideally, we’ll have an emotional, intellectual and physical spark that together we can coax into a wonderfully warm and glowing relationship that keeps us both from having to be in touch with you again for a long time to come (unless we’ve got an old desk or dining room table to sell!). 
Craigslist, I know that I may be asking for a lot here, but I’m optimistic that with these explicit instructions you may be able to come through for me, helping me bump into my bashert in the new year. Thanks for your careful consideration of my requests. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

~ JanetheWriter

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#BlogElul: Dare

Frieda Vizel is a daring young woman. Based on press coverage alone, I know that she and her young son left the Hasidic community in which she was born and raised, she started her own company giving tours in Hasidic Williamsburg, completed college, and currently attends graduate school.

Most recently, she was called for an aliyah, and marked the occasion with a shechecheyanu blessing: 
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam,  shehechehyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higianu laz'man hazeh.
In the new year, may Frieda -- and we -- continue to be daring, pushing the boundaries of our own comfort zones and creating opportunities for shechecheyanu blessings in our lives.
Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

#BlogElul: Change

Having passed the half-century mark more than 18 months ago, I am, for the most part, comfortable with who I am, and with the skin I'm in.

Nonetheless, if I had my druthers and could make some changes in my life, I might attempt to be:
  1. Less impatient
  2. More relaxed
  3. More irreverent
  4. Less eager to please
  5. Less of a yekke
  6. More forthright
  7. Less gullible
  8. More outgoing
  9. More inquisitive
  10. More flexible
On the other hand, if I was able to make all these changes successfully, would I still be me in all my quirkiness?  Would I still be comfortable with who I am? Would I still be the one in my skin?


Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

#BlogElul: The Jewish Cellist


As regular readers of this blog know, my sister runs her own company, The Art of Perception, providing training to law enforcement and medical personnel, as well as other professionals in various fields to enhance their observation, perception, and communications skills.  She uses various works of art as the "data set," encouraging participants to describe -- objectively, concisely, and clearly -- exactly what it is they see.  

The following anecdote from one of her training session illustrates just how important it is to listen carefully, how dangerous it can be to make assumptions and judgments, and how necessary it is to step back and ask if we are justified in relying on those assumptions -- or if they cause us to misjudge or prejudge. 
  
Upon showing Thomas Eakins' The Cello Player to a roomful of law enforcement agents, the following exchange ensued:
Amy:  "What do you see?"
Participant:  "The man in that picture is Jewish." 
Amy:  "Well, that is a conclusion. What observations did you make to get to that conclusion?" 
Participant:  "That's easy; all musicians are Jewish." 
Amy:  "Well, now you have drawn two conclusions--that the man is a musician and that all musicians are Jewish. Walk me through your thought process." 
The participant proceeded to narrate her thoughts: "During WWII, the Nazis put Jews in concentration camps. In some of the camps, they formed chamber music groups so that when the Red Cross came through, they could see that everything was ok." 
Amy cut her off and said that in the painting, there was a man sitting in a chair playing a cello. Where did she see the Nazis, chamber music groups, or the Red Cross? 
The participant looked at my sister, irritated, and snapped back, "Well, you asked me what I thought of when I looked at the painting." 
To which Amy replied, "With all due respect, I did not.  I asked, 'What do you see, not what do you think.'"
We all have Jewish cellists in our lives. 

How did they get there?

What can we do to get rid of them?


Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

#BlogElul: Ask

Last year as part of #BlogElul, I wrote this post about whether or not I ask too much of myself.

More recently, various events in my life have been so stunning and, in some cases, so frustrating that the only question I find myself able to ask, isn't even one suitable for a "family blog."  More and more often, I find myself throwing my hands in the air in disbelief and uttering, "What the #!$%@^$#%?!?"

I'm not particularly proud that this is the question I've been asking (and I certainly don't expect an answer), but sometimes, it's just the most appropriate initial inquiry one can make.


Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

#BlogElul: Pray

You know that old Jewish joke about synagogue services?

You know?... The one where Schwartz says that Goldberg attends synagogue to talk to God, but that Schwartz goes only to talk to Goldberg.

In the world of worship, I'm definitely a Goldberg...and I love when we get to this part of the Shabbat service:
We sit in community:
elbow to elbow, eye to eye.
So close, perhaps, we brush against each other
as we move in prayer.
Ears filled with the voices of friends, teachers, fellow travelers —
who pray with us from the next seat, from across the room.
We come to silence.
Rhythm of words, shared melody, hushed.
Connected first one to one to all,
we now let go.
To be alone
with the Holy One.
To speak in mind, and heart, and soul,
but not with lips.
The prayers we weave together cannot replace
that private conversation:
God, our partner awaits us:
One by one,
a miracle.
Just God and me...and the hopes and dreams, fears and wishes, gratitude and praise that are in my heart.

Just God and me...alone together.


Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year.