Independent Play: The Holy Grail?

Source: Independent Play: The Holy Grail?

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Day 6: Believe (still running behind…)

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Did you ever listen to the NPR five-minute broadcast called This I Believe? A different piece ran every Monday for four years, sadly ending in 2009. NPR re-instituted the concept, which was the brainchild of celebrated journalist Edward R. Murrow, who began radio broadcasts of This I Believe in the 1950s, seeking “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization.” If you have some time, listen to some of these broadcasts – either from the 1950s or the NPR stories from the 2000s. All are worthwhile, in my humble opinion.

I always wanted to write a This I Believe essay. I wanted to find a core belief – something deep inside myself – that I could turn into my personal story. Surely I could find that, harness it, make it mine, and live by it.

Belief, I found, doesn’t work that way for me. There are things I believe in, unquestioningly – though not in any particular order: God. Baseball. The Mets. Puns. But I haven’t been able to find one overarching, meta-belief by which I live my life.

Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detail.jpg  God is a biggie. The existence of God, for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever doubted God’s existence. Not even as a child. How God presents to us – I have no idea. I know it’s not the old bearded white guy in the art of Michelangelo. Not a person at all (although I believe that we are made in God’s image, in a very loose sense). I experience God in nature, in a perfect day in October, in the mountains of New Mexico, in 30-foot waves in Hawaii, in a no-hitter by a much-maligned pitcher, in the pureness of a newborn baby, in laughter, in sorrow.

Baseball and The Mets mr_metare almost as big (though on most days, God wins. (Not during the World Series, however.)

Puns? Well…I’ll leave that to my family and friends to judge. Weigh in, OK?

What I’ve realized, after almost 60 years on this earth, is that I believe in kindness, more than anything else (even puns, for which I feel repuntant). Kindness, even the tiniest act of kindness, changes me. Because it shifts how I look at others. If and when I can find it in myself to be kind, in the midst of anger or fear, I am on the road to my better self. If there is someone else in the mix, my act of kindness may shift where that person is. I hope so.

Yes. This I believe.


Once again, I’m participating in #BlogElul, which I have followed for a few years. I’ve found it helpful as I ponder and reflect in the month before the High Holidays – Yamim Noraim. Check out some of the amazing  themed posts geared around the work and joy of Elul – of introspection and reflection in the days leading to the High Holy Days (Organized by Ima Bima.) You can read prior years’ #blogElul posts via the Elul tag.

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Day 5: Accept (Better late than never)

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I’m pretty good at accepting others, warts and all. My strong belief is that it’s best to meet people where they are. That nobody’s perfect. Any expectation that a person “should” be is ludicrous.

Except, of course, when it comes to me. A different standard applies in my case. I must succeed at being perfect – it’s an imperative. (It’s an impossibility – I can attest.) Anything less is abject failure. I have failed a lot in my life, in large part because of this ideal.

Is it an ideal, though? Or a setup? I’m leaning toward the latter. In a Jewish sense, we are made in God’s image. God is perfection, some would have us believe. I actually don’t subscribe to that belief. Sometimes, I think that if God had been perfect, Adam and Eve  would never have had to leave Eden. They wouldn’t have been tempted by the apple (Eve by the snake and Adam by Eve, as the story goes). God wouldn’t have had to test Abraham’s loyalty by having him bind Isaac for sacrifice. God would have trusted the creatures of God’s creation. What a boring story that would have made, though. Right?

So – maybe we’re all imperfect beings. If I’m made in God’s image, and God is imperfect, then I can also be imperfect. Even if God is perfect, I can still be imperfect, because I’m not God. Although…I tend to hold God to a high standard.

Today, then, is about acceptance of my imperfection. Its inherence. The acceptance that the sparks of light inside me are themselves the result of imperfection. The imperfection of the vessels that originally held the divine light of God – vessels that were too weak to hold such power. According to Isaac Luria, a/k/a The Ari (a 16th century Kabbalist), those vessels shattered into shards, spreading the sparks of holy light throughout our world. (Read here for more – it’s quite interesting.) If that is true, we are, each of us, imperfect and broken. Together, I believe, we can reach toward an imperfect perfection.

And I can accept that.


Once again, I’m participating in #blogElul, which I have followed for a few years. I’ve found it helpful as I ponder and reflect in the month before the High Holidays – Yamim Noraim. Check out some of the amazing  themed posts geared around the work and joy of Elul – of introspection and reflection in the days leading to the High Holy Days (Organized by Ima Bima.) You can read prior years’ #blogElul posts via the Elul tag.

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#BlogElul 4: Understand

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When I saw today’s theme, I was tempted to write: “See Day 3.” Because I kinda sorta wrote about understanding yesterday. (Silly me…didn’t look ahead.) But that would be the easy way out. And I’m not really known for that – not by those who really know me.

I’m a ponderer. A digger. Tenacity is my middle name. (Not really.) So I went back a day, and re-read my post. Which was about searching for understanding. And realizing that sometimes one needed to stop the search. Hit the reset button. The undo arrow. You get my point, right?

This Elul, that’s what I’m doing. Hitting the reset button. Going back to Square One, in a positive sense – this time with the understanding that I don’t need to understand it all. That my endless life-long quest for knowledge and self-awareness has landed me in limbo-land (or worse) far too often for my own good. Instead, I need to go back –and move forward – by just being…without expectations, without fore-knowledge, without the oversized baggage I’ve schlepped along for the endless rides to failure.

No expectations, no disappointments. That’s my theory. It’s mine. And mine alone. (Two points if you catch the reference. Leave me a comment and let me know.)


Once again, I’m participating in #blogElul, which I have followed for a few years. I’ve found it helpful as I ponder and reflect in the month before the High Holidays – Yamim Noraim. Check out some of the amazing  themed posts geared around the work and joy of Elul – of introspection and reflection in the days leading to the High Holy Days (Organized by Ima Bima.) You can read prior years’ #blogElul posts via the Elul tag.

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#BlogElul 3: Search

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For much of my life, I have searched. For reasons. For answers. For relief.

For a way out of this amorphous pain I felt. An unknown, and un-understood something.

I had no idea what. Or whether. Or why. I knew who. I thought.

I was right about the who. I found out the what. And the whether (yes). But the why?

Never the why.

Never a road to understanding.

I have searched.

My soul. My memory. My history. My “inner child” (who has a name, but I don’t speak it in public).

I have researched. Googled. Read. Looked for clues. For that elusive why.

Do you know what I found?

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter why. Sometimes, it just is.

All that searching. For what?

For an understanding that “why” doesn’t matter.

There is power in knowing.

There is greater power – and freedom – in turning away.

Not back. Not into the pain.

Forward. To a new search.

An “Advanced Search.”

For peace. Trust. Love. Never forget love.

Trust and love – in and for me.

Peace will come.

Not this Elul. Probably not.

But some Elul, or Tishri – during the Yamim Noraim.

Or during the Amidah, some Shabbat.

It will come.

I know.

Because I no longer care why.


Once again, I’m participating in #blogElul, which I have followed for a few years. I’ve found it helpful as I ponder and reflect in the month before the High Holidays – Yamim Noraim. Check out some of the amazing  themed posts geared around the work and joy of Elul – of introspection and reflection in the days leading to the High Holy Days (Organized by Ima Bima.) You can read prior years’ #blogElul posts via the Elul tag.

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#BlogElul 2: Act

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Today was a day of action, after a rocky start.

Recently, my days have been starting with inaction. Stopping before they start. Staying in bed, head buried in my pillow, willing myself not to move. These days, nothing feels better than something. Actions may speak louder than words, but to me, words screech in my head: “YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO TO STAY IN BED. GET UP, YOU IDIOT! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? GET THE &#*@ OUT OF BED!!”

Not an auspicious beginning of the day. Week. Month.

Today was a little different. Yes, I stayed in bed for a while. My back has been hurting lately. I forgive myself. I’m kind to myself. Exhortation speaks louder than shrieks: “C’mon – you can do this. I know you can. There’s fresh iced tea downstairs, and the cats want company. You know how much better you’ll feel once you’re up and doing stuff. You’ll feel lighter. You’ll start singing again. You know you will.”

Today, I got out of bed and didn’t get back in at all. Progress. I hung out with the cats while I ate breakfast, and then got to work on the house. Lots to clear out. Lots to clean. Lots of work to get ready. To sell my house. To move. (No freaking out…not now.)

Some background:

My house used to be a horrible mess. Stuff everywhere. I hated coming home. I hired an organizer – not just any organizer, mind you. The queen, supreme being of organizers. Susan Pinsky. I say her name with respect and more than a bit of awe. Susan is a sage. A force of nature. A gift from God. After a long time (and the best money I have ever spent), I was Organized.  8 liv rm after to dr arch.JPG

My house was in order – I could find everything, because everything had a place. It was a place I wanted to come home to again.

More than just organizing my house, the work I did with Susan organized my brain. I could think more clearly, I could do my work more easily. I could also straighten out any room in 10 minutes. Susan taught me more than I have words to explain.

This summer, I had a very hard time. Depression and anxiety hit hard. My house suffered along with me. It cried as I cried, and we devolved together into the same addled, muddled state. As I began to emerge from my cocoon, I looked at my house and began to cry. It was a mess. All that work, and it was a mess.

Breathing helped. And exhortation. And reminding myself that I knew how to organize. One room at a time, one pile at a time. Each small victory feels large.

Today, I acted. Organized the front porch, the front hall, and the downstairs bathroom. Started on the dining room. I feel strong. I feel happy. I feel accomplished. I am smiling. I am singing. Today.


Once again, I’m participating in #blogElul, which I have followed for a few years. I’ve found it helpful as I ponder and reflect in the month before the High Holidays – Yamim Noraim. Check out some of the amazing  themed posts geared around the work and joy of Elul – of introspection and reflection in the days leading to the High Holy Days (Organized by Ima Bima.) You can read prior year #blogElul posts via the Elul tag.

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#BlogElul 1: Prepare

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Today, I’m preparing to sell my house. That, in and of itself, is a Big Thing. In the world of a person with ADD, it’s a Huge Thing. And in the world of a person with a trauma history and a lot of baggage – metaphorical, not physical – it’s an Epic Thing.

I don’t transition well. Not even with small changes. I’m one of those “kicking and screaming” transitioners. I have lived in this house for almost 17 years. I moved here, full-time, after my daughter was born, almost 17 years ago, in NYC. NYC – my real home. (See what I mean about the “kicking and screaming” thing?)

This is the only home I have known since I’ve lived in Massachusetts. I moved lot in NYC, starting when I was 20. From my parents’ home in Queens to three different apartments in Brooklyn, and then into Manhattan, also in three different apartments. But none of those moves mattered. New York itself was my home. The city of my birth. The city of my childhood and adolescence. For six years (from age 11 to age 17), I traveled to school on the subway. That’s where I did my growing up. Not in any residence, in particular. On trains, on buses, on streets. With lifelong friends who helped me find my way.

I wasn’t prepared to live in Massachusetts. I didn’t know how to “be” outside of New York (I often still don’t). It’s a very different world here. A strange world with different rules. I haven’t figured them all out yet. I’m still working on it. Slogging away.

It’s a perfect time to do this. Elul – a time of retrospection. A time to ponder. To look at what’s worked and what hasn’t in my life. In the past year – definitely. For me, it’s a time to figure out the work I still need to do. It’s my time to work on me; to move forward toward growth.

So – I’m preparing. Looking at what’s gotten in my way in the past. What I need to be mindful of and about. Trying to be proactive and protective at the same time. Preparing. Yes. That’s what I’m doing.


Once again, I’m participating in #blogElul, which I have followed for a few years. I’ve found it helpful as I ponder and reflect in the month before the High Holidays – Yamim Noraim. Check out some of the amazing  themed posts geared around the work and joy of Elul – of introspection and reflection in the days leading to the High Holy Days (Organized by Ima Bima.) You can read prior year #blogElul posts via the Elul tag.

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