Friday, November 27, 2015

Ten Random Thoughts on Black Friday

Ever wishful for time to think and read and write, I am grateful for today -- which afforded me the opportunity to do all three. Sitting in a coffee shop on Sixth Avenue and 12th Street, I had the time and inclination to record these random thoughts:
  1. Sometimes it's good to get out of your own neighborhood. My travels today took me to Stevdan Stationers, my intended destination, and then, quite by accident, to the coffee shop next door. It's orders of magnitude better than the ubiquitous Starbucks, and ignited a desire to seek out other non-Starbucks coffee places in the city.
  2. "Stuff" is the thing least likely to lead to happiness. In our culture, unfortunately, today is all about acquiring stuff, resulting in lots of people looking for happiness in all the wrong places.
  3. Although I did a bit of editing on several different blog post submissions this morning, I'm grateful to be able to put aside -- at least for a day or two longer -- the anxiety and stress that comes from having to find, or ask someone to write, a Ten Minutes of Torah essay for every single week-day from now until....forever.
  4. What was Old Navy thinking when their marketing people chose this as the store's holiday slogan: "Hi, holidays!"? Surely they weren't thinking about Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur, right?
  5. Perhaps it's the springtime weather, but Thanksgiving and the weekend don't have the same joyful feeling they did when I was younger. Is it because the holiday and the days that follow (and precede) it have been co-opted by retailers? Or, is it because I'm not the same person I was back then?
  6. I wonder what the world would look like if everyone unplugged from their electronics for the weekend -- or even for the entire period from now until and the end of the calendar year. Would we talk to each other on buses and subways? Would we read real, hard copy books? Would we have withdrawal from Facebook, Words With Friends, Tetris, and Candy Crush?
  7. Speaking of all things candy, I was distressed to see in a gift-giving guide in today's paper that Candy Land, a staple of my childhood, is considered "vintage," and a part of Hasbro's "Retro Series" of board games. Oy!
  8. I'm extremely grateful for many things -- at this season and always -- but I think I would be more appreciative of my job, and of having a job at all, if my current one wasn't two jobs rolled into one. This scenario -- and my inability to right what is, to me, a problem -- makes me angry, negative, and frustrated -- when I'm in the office and when I'm not.
  9. I'm trying to learn to leave the office at the office (even if that happens regularly at 7 or 8 or 9 o'clock) and to swap frustration for fun, anger for joy, and negativity for gratitude for the goodness around me. It's a hard lesson, and in this matter, I'm not a particularly quick study.
  10. And yet, despite the frustration, the anger, and the negativity that I seem to have allowed to seep into every corner of my life, as I watch the passing scene on Sixth Avenue, I'm perfectly content to be living life with the cards I've been dealt. When all is said and done, I suppose there's no more satisfying Thanksgiving realization than that!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I Didn't Forget About Lech L'cha

Dear The Mums,

I hope you didn't think that I forgot about Lech L'cha last week. Of course not! I've been so busy going forth into new things, that I've barely had time to  think, let alone write.

Here are seven places to which I've gone forth in recent weeks and months:
  1. Last week, I went forth to Congregation B'nai Yisrael for the installation of this rabbi.

  2. Earlier that same day day, I went forth into TV land, to tape this show, which aired last Sunday. 

  3. This past Friday, I went forth to my own congregation for the installation of this rabbi.

  4. Back in July, I went forth into a new position -- as the editor of the URJ's Ten Minutes of Torah -- although I still have almost all of the responsibilities from my previous position, so I've been Lech L'cha-ing (read pedaling) as fast as I can, but it generally takes 10-12 hours a day just to stay afloat -- and forget about taking any time off.

  5. Also in July, right after I took over the Ten Minutes of Torah role, I went forth to Gambier, OH, home of Kenyon College for Beyond Walls: Spiritual Writing as Kenyon, a six-day writing seminar for clergy, seminarians, and others who write in religious organizations. Part of the Kenyon Institute, the seminar proved to be an incredible week of friendship, fellowship, thinking, and writing, and last night I submitted my application to return in 2016.

  6. On Tuesday, I'm going forth to Orlando for the URJ Biennial. A whole new team (and an outside company, too) is putting the convention together, and although I can't remember the details, I don't even think the Shabbat dinner options include chicken, fish, and veggie anymore. Whatever...  I'll be focusing on the social media and messaging aspects of the convention -- a whole new realm of work for me.

  7. In preparation for the trip, I'm currently going forth and back to the laundry room, watering the plants, stopping the paper, and preparing to pack for a spot that's going to 90 degrees when I arrive...and 72 and florescent in the place where I'll be spending the majority of my time. I know I'll see friends and colleagues of yours from the URJ board, which will, no doubt, bring to mind a bittersweet mix of memories from past Biennials...Minneapolis, Houston, San Diego, Toronto... and since you've been gone... Washington, DC, San Diego, and now Orlando. Even though you're always with me, I miss you more at these gatherings than at other times -- perhaps because I know how you loved them, or perhaps because "When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them." Actually, I think it's both...
In any case, the timer just went off, reminding me to go forth, yet again, to the basement to put my clothes in the dryer.

~ Boo!