Tuesday, June 27, 2006

prepare for take off

I love travelling.
Whatever stage I am at in my life - whether I’m working, in school, or in transition between the two - the one thing summer always awakens in me is the urge to travel. I haven’t travelled much, but I have been fortunate enough to visit some amazing places. Those places I haven’t travelled to yet, I try to experience vicariously through books and movies.
India, Ireland, Tibet, Japan, and even the United States are all places I dream of one day visiting. These stories whet my appetite and keep the longing alive until I have the opportunity to experience them personally.

The place I’ve travelled to the most is Israel. This often comes as a surprise to Israelis - that we foreigners consider this small country an unlimited source of travelling wonder - but Israel has been for me a place to find myself, my roots, my history and most important the path to my future. What travellers realize is that it's often not the place one travels to, but the experience of travelling itself that changes a person. Foreign lands, exotic cultures and unusual and mysterious traditions capture my heart and imagination all year long, but in the summer it's the idea of travel itself that lures me.
Getting on a train, watching the trees and towns whiz by, like skimming through a book, the pages of those lives flipping by.
Travelling by plane and watching the urban jungles shrink away as you soar through the skies.
Disconnecting from your belongings and reconnecting to your senses.
Loosening the ties that bind you and stabilize you and exchanging them for the freedom and uncertainty to jump into the unknown.
Leaving behind schemas and heuristics and replacing them with wide eyed discoveries.
Finding the freedom that comes from leaving behind the person you are, and are expected to be, and for a short time, reinventing yourself into who you yearn to be.

One of the most amazing things I've noticed when travelling is the long lasting impact it has on people. I am one of many Americans who found their way back to Judaism by travelling, and more specifically visiting Israel. The amazing thing however is that I met countless Israelis who also found their way back to Judaism, by travelling outside of Israel.
It seems that leaving your comfort zone, your safety net, offers you the chance to re-evaluate and reconsider your life choices in a way that is extremely difficult to do when you are entrenched in your every day life. Traveling, to me, is about discovering the wonders of the world, but even more amazingly, it’s about discovering yourself.

Someone recently told me that he didnt feel any desire to travel, he can't see the appeal in finding out how others across the globe live or in discovering foreign cultures. I had always taken it for granted that everyone shared this yearning and was really surprised by his disconnection from the rest of the world. My vision of the world seems so drastically different than his in that sense. There isn’t a corner of the earth that I don’t wish I could see, touch, experience or that I don’t want to connect to.
Can you imagine living in a home and never visiting or using the rooms on the second floor? Feeling so detached, like a stranger, in parts of your own house? The idea is so foreign to me. I told him I’d send him some pictures of places I’d been to try and awaken this desire in him but instead I decided to post them here and share them with the rest of you.

I took these pictures in Asia. I only spent a few weeks there, but I dream of returning one day. Being in such a far away place, in such a drastically different setting really emphasized in me the smallness of the universe. We take ourselves so seriously; we see ourselves and our culture and society so ethnocentrically, completely oblivious to the life going on outside of our direct experience. But the amazing thing is that once you get out there, you realize that despite the very radical differences, the human factor remains a constant. I also cant help but appreciate G-d’s wonders when I travel. Just like I realize that G-d created me, travelling reminds me that every bush and hill, every creature, every human was created just like I was. Who am I to dismiss these as irrelevant, if G-d Himself took the time to create all this beauty?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

things that make you go hmmm...

is this where we're headed? creepy...

it's amazing how much we try to control the things we can't change, but completely ignore those that we can..

Watch your thoughts; they become your words.
Watch your words; they become your
Watch your actions; they become your
Watch your habits; they become your
Watch your character for it will become your
- Frank Outlaw.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

stop.. wait.. go..

A few days ago, I was driving down the street, when I approached a red light at the intersection. As I pressed on the break, I noticed 3 little boys crossing the street. They were walking, completely oblivious to the big dangerous machine that was driving towards them. The car stopped and I watched them, calmly strolling across the street, talking about whatever it is 8 year old boys talk about, one of them holding a ball in his hand, neither of them glancing over at my car.

Suddenly I got this thought in my mind, how could they be so careless and indifferent? Didn’t they realize that if I hadn’t stopped the car
, I could have hit them? I could have driven right through the street, just as they were crossing! I was amazed at how calm and unaware they were to the danger they had just escaped. I wondered how it was that these three little boys could cross right in front of a potential killing machine without flinching.. and then it occurred to me that the reason they had barely even noticed me was because I was at a red light and they had the green light. It was my time to stop and their time to safely cross the street.

Now I know you’re thinking 'she cant possibly be writing a blog post about the wonders of traffic lights', well you're right, its actually a post about the wonders and beauty of boundaries.

Whether they're boundaries given to us by the Torah, or boundaries we've established in our relationships, I think these serve not only to protect us, but to enable growth and development. Rules or boundaries give us security, and only when we feel secure can we reduce the fear factor and raise the growth factor. When I have set boundaries I am able to explore and dare much more than when I have complete 'freedom'. In a situation without rules, I'm theoritically free to do as I please, but I lack the ability put that into practice because I am constantly worrying about the potential dangers.

Remember when you were a kid and you would jump on the bed? You’d jump in the middle of the bed, up and down and up and down… and then you’d start to get bored and eventually get a little more daring and get closer and closer to the edge. You could only go so far, though, before you'd risk falling off the bed. Now imagine there had been a fence around the bed that would protect you from falling over, you’d have been able to jump across the entire bed, with no fear of tumbling off. The result would be that by adding this barrier you’d have a much greater area to jump on. This seemingly limiting addition would in fact give you more freedom, the freedom to jump around the entire bed area.

Rules and boundaries act in that way, they delimit how far we can go, but contrary to our intuitive reaction, they don’t reduce how much benefit we can get, instead, they increase the range we can benefit from.

So back to those three little boys, if there was no green light for them and no red light for me, they still could have crossed the street, but they’d have no way of knowing when it would be safe. They would need to approximate and evaluate the speed of my car and how long it would take them to get to the other side, they then would run across just to be extra safe, and in the end they’d either make it..
or not..

Removing those traffic lights would in theory grant me the freedom to drive when I wanted to, and them the freedom to walk when they wanted to, but in reality both of us would be worried to cross at the wrong time. The lawlessness would in fact hinder our peace of mind and freedom to cross freely and carefree.

So.. the next time i feel that a rule I've taken on myself, or a boundary I've established in a relationship, is stifling or reducing my range of movement, I'll try to remember the carefree crossing of these three boys and remind myself that it is precisely those ‘constraints’ that give me the freedom to stroll through life with peace of mind while benefiting from a fuller range of experiences.

Monday, June 19, 2006


by Stabilo

doesn't anybody know how to walk anymore?
doesn't anybody know what a radio is for ?
doesn't anybody wear their hair down low ?
doesn't anybody know? doesn't anybody know?

doesn't anybody hate it when the street light.. turns red?
doesn't anybody want five more minutes in bed ?
doesn't anybody, doesnt anybody have a letter to send ?
doesn't anybody wish they had just one more friend ?

cause eveybody wants, and everybody needs
everybody asks for one more piece
everybody wants to hear someone say please
cause everybody takes, and everybody steals
everybody cries when somethings feels
everybody is looking for the drug that heals

doesn't anybody wanna take another shot at me ?
go ahead the gun is loaded and bullets are for free
doesn't anybody spray perfume to cover up a smell ?
doesn't anybody know where to go to get some help?

cause everybody wants, and everybody needs,
everybody begs for self esteem
why don't you get your mind out of the past
and everybody takes and everybody steals,
everybody's been kicked by other heels

cause everybody wants...

i love this song. from the first time i heard it, the lyrics just struck a chord with me. it's simple but you can feel that it comes from the heart. it expresses this sentiment i always have lingering in the background, a craving for another time, or another place, where things are simpler, slower. sometimes you get tired of fighting the tide, all by yourself. everything is rushing by, and you're trying to hold on to something, to someone to stop you from getting caught up in the whirlwind.
the amazing thing though is that when you stop and look around, you realize everybody wants that. everyone wants the same things, the same peace of mind. we all yearn for things that are pure and simple and peaceful, but somehow we perceive the world as a big blur, with everyone grabbing and shoving and we end up getting caught up in it.
when I hear this song it reminds me im not the only one out there who wants to just take a step back for a minute, to stop pushing and grabbing, to take a few more minutes to hear and feel and be aware of what’s going on inside of me and to relate to the world realizing that everyone deep down wants the same thing.
Everybody can be heard here, enjoy!

Friday, June 16, 2006

chasdei hashem

I got a job!
After months on this long and grueling job search
I have finally found a job I look forward to starting!
I have written so many resumes, cover letters, emails, thank you notes... but this is the one I've enjoyed writing the most!

Dear G-d,

I am pleased to inform You, that I have accepted the job offer You have sent me. I have enjoyed our many conversations and feel that my experience with this job seeking process has made me a stronger, more confident person. As I mentioned a number of times, I firmly believe that I am ready for this next stage in my life and I am grateful for the confidence you have shown me. Obtaining this job was the first step in achieving my goals and I am eternally thankful for the great opportunity You have provided me with. I appreciate that throughout this long, energy draining, heart-wrenching job search You have not given up on me and have given me the strength to hold on. I am especially thankful for the camaraderie and support I have found in others.

I have spent a good deal of time reviewing this process, and I am confident that it was conducted with my best interest in mind. Although there were times when it seemed like it would never be resolved, and times when I had difficulty making sense of it, it has become abundantly clear to me that a clearly defined plan was being followed. My goal now is to apply the lessons I have learned in this situation to future challenges that arise and I look forward to being able to use these newly developed skills in establishing a long-standing relationship with You. In addition to finding me a job which will help me fulfill my material needs, I especially feel appreciative for the kind of job You have found me. I look forward to utilizing the knowledge and experience I have amassed in an intellectually stimulating yet meaningful way. As my resume indicates, I have been trained in various fields but my career goals have always been to utilize these skills and experiences to work in my community and to develop a closer relationship with my Boss through this work. I strongly beleive that this job offers me a perfect opportunity to use my talents to pursue this goal.

Many thanks again for Your interest in me, for Your patience with me, and for all Your assistance. I am confident that this is the next step in the development of a rewarding and successful relationship between us.


p.s. special thanks to:

joe - for the kick in the butt, for setting my head on straight, for your clear headed advice and most importantly for scrubs

eran - for your patience, your confidence in me, and your kind and caring poopiliciousness

and to the millions and billions and gazillions of others who have had to hear me whine, vent, cry, despair and beg for encouragement, who have helped me out and given me good advice, who have been patient with me and my kookiness and mostly who have given me the energy and the confidence not to give up - you have no idea how helpful you've been.

thank you thank you thank you!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

taking the plunge

I woke up this morning to a clogged up toilet.
Plunger in hand, I set in to make things right!
How can you start the day with a blocked toilet drain?!
As I was plunging, I had a thought..
I’m so glad its my toilet .. and not me!

Blessed are You Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe,
Who created the human with wisdom
and created within him many openings and many cavities.
It is obvious and known before Your Throne of Glory
that if but one of them were to be ruptured
or but one of them were to be blocked
it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You.
Blessed are You Hashem, Who heals wondrously

This morning, I said my morning blessings with renewed vigor
thank you hashem for making it all work
my body, my heart, my brain, my mind
thank you for giving me my soul back
thank you for giving me another chance
in a working body
in a working world
and for those days when things are on the blink -
thank you for all the friendly plungers who help me unclog the blockages!

The most overrated pleasure in life is sex;
the most underrated pleasure is a good bowel movement. -Hemingway

Monday, June 12, 2006

you're not the boss of me!

I keep getting complaints that my posts are too long! I realize that if i shorten them, more people might read them and/or enjoy them, but I’m not blogging to raise my ratings, I’m not blogging to preach and teach, I’m not blogging so others will like me.

I’m blogging because I have a lot on my mind and this is a good place to articulate and analyze my thinking. I like having firm beliefs and strong convictions, but I also strongly believe in thinking critically. Blogging seems to be a great medium to develop my ideas, while getting feedback from others. In examining and verbalizing my beliefs, I get to plays devil’s advocate, I’m able to question my beleifs and feelings and I get to see myself think from an observer's perspective. Isn’t that the basis of critical thinking?

Now I know what you’re all thinking:
do i check my stats?
how often?
doesn’t that prove that I blog for the readers?
why not just keep a private diary if I’m only writing for myself?

I’ll tell you why. Writing in a public domain motivates me to be more sincere and more analytical about what I say. It pushes me to listen to myself more objectively. The readers are not the goal, they are a tool. I don’t think my desire for feedback necessarily means I'm trying to win a popularity contest, it’s simply an additional way to help me figure myself out, my ideas, and where I stand.

I’m sorry for those of you who don’t appreciate my long posts, I promise that when my mind clears up, the world makes sense and I no longer require lengthy posts to verbalize what goes on in my head – ill write shorter posts! (I would however recommend not holding your breath!)

hmm.. I do have a problem now...
This is a short post, and due to my rebellious nature I’m feelnig very uneasy posting this.
How can I write a short post about how I refuse to write short posts to please those who don’t like my long posts?
I guess not posting it would make me feel better about not being a sell-out, but I'd be biting my nose off to spite my face and letting others control my behavior which defeats the purpose of being rebellious! i guess that since it only took me this many words to write out my thoughts, and I didn’t write a short post purposely, I am in essence remaining loyal to my goal of posting for myself, and not for others. sincerely and honestly! right??!

hmm.. now if I could only justify why I’m explaining myself to an audience I claim is simply a means to an end…

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Round 2

First of all, thank you all for your thoughts and concerns regarding my last blog post. I’m sorry if it sounded alarmist. Some of you have spoken to me privately asking if I’m alright. I am, thank G-d! Like I mentioned in the comments, I found it really helpful to step into an objective observer’s shoes and see myself and my inner struggles from that perspective.
This post is the continuation, it’s Round 2 of the boxing match!

I wrote my last blog post in 2 stages. The first one I wrote when the event I described actually happened. Feeling intense anxiety after an argument I had with a friend, I decided to jot down what was going though my mind. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it, but I just felt this impulse to record it. I’ve recently been trying to be more aware of these "inner fights" and I'vee been trying to catch them as they happen so I can manage them before they spiral out of control. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it, but without thinking I just started typing.

A few days later I went back to it, this time from a more objective, calmer point of view and reread it and I was amazed to find how disturbing it was. Even though I had said those things in my mind, and even though I had recorded them myself, reading it over was shocking.

This is how I speak to myself?! How sad!

Needless to say I felt perturbed by it, but I didn’t want to let myself get dragged down by it. I decided to watch a movie a friend of mine had recommended a while back,
What the bleep do we know? I had heard from a number of friends that it was amazing and inspiring and I figured it would be a good way to step out of my skin and re-focus the way I was feeling.

I wont go into describing the movie. I found it complex, overwhelming, incredible, therapeutic, bewildering... I sat spellbound for 2 hours. There was so much information, such amazing graphics and such deep concepts in it. I’m sure I didn't internalize the bulk of it – but it left me speechless nonetheless.

The movie is controversial and has received opposite reviews. Some love it and completely relate to it, and others consider it complete trash. I just want to mention one part which I loved.

The movie brings up a study conducted by a Japanese researcher named Dr Masaru Emoto about the impact of thoughts, words and feelings on the shape of water crystals. His claim is that the shape of water crystals depends on which human thoughts and feelings were directed at the water before the water was frozen; depending on whether the thoughts were positive or negative, the crystals will turn out beautiful or ugly.
Here are some examples of what he’s found:

Water crytal that was exposed
to a label:
'You Make Me Sick. I Will Kill You'

Water crytal that was exposed to a label 'Love & Thanks'

Water crytal that was exposed
to heavy metal music

Water crytal that was exposed
to prayers

"If thoughts can do that to water, imagine what our thoughts can do to us"

Now, as amazing as this appears, I want to mention that the study is controversial. Dr. Emoto admits that he doesn’t necessarily use double blinding in his experiments, and his evidence is not conclusive according to traditional scientific methodology - but is that reason to dismiss it?

I guess if I was a scientist running my life like a lab, I might write it off.
But I dont want to live my life that way. I beleive there are lessons to be learned everywhere. Free will, the way I understand it, implies that there are no black and white clear-cut answers and proofs when it comes to matters of the soul. If anything is found to help me work on myself and grow, I know that there will be an equal pull in the opposite direction.

I don’t want to get into a whole issue here about science and/or free will, the point is that I think there is merit in the concept displayed in this study, even if it hasn’t yet been scientifically established.

Anyone who has gone through a few minutes of internal self bashing and emotional self mutilation cannot deny the harm it causes. You’re left feeling drained, empty, helpless and completely disconnected. Now, I tell myself, if this is what I feel after one internal fight, and if this is the impact words and thoughts (might) have on water, how much more so should I worry about the impact these thoughts and words have on my long term mental health and personal growth..

If I decided to internalize one thing this week, this is it. The idea isn’t new to me, but like with all my ideas and beliefs I try to continually revisit and re-internalize them on a deeper level. The visuals of these water crystals has given me an additional coping mechanism.

The body is made up in large part of water. Next time I start to feel bad about myself, I start to put myself down, I start to resent myself, ill try to picture, in my mind, all the water particles in my body. I’ll visualize them transforming from beautiful crystals, to broken, ugly ones. Ill try to make myself consciously aware of the damage I am creating. Ill try not to let myself be victimized and take the abuse passively, but ill stand up to ‘myself’ and take an active role in creating my reality.

Someone asked me in the comments on my last post whether I was winning or losing the fight. I don’t think the fight will be won or lost before I reach 120, but at this point, I’m aiming to win... one drop at a time

Sunday, June 04, 2006

fight! fight! fight!

"Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else."
- Tyler Durden

I hate you.
I am so sick of you.
Why do you always mess everything up?
Such a failure.
Don’t you see, you can’t keep anyone close to you, you scare them away, you drive them away with your incessant whining and stupidity.
You’re annoying, you’re demanding, constantly nagging and spewing incoherent nonsense no one cares about.
Look around you, everyone is moving ahead in life. People are happy, people are going places, people are achieving things.
And you?? You?
You’re a lazy good for nothing! You're a failure
Look at how lucky you are, all the cards were stacked in your favour, and what did you do? Nothing! You’ve gotten nowhere! The worst part is that it's all your fault, there's no one to blame. You just can't get it right.
You make me sick.
You repulse me.
And you actually wonder why you’re alone.
I know you, I know you inside out, I know what you’re capable of and I know how much of a failure you are.
Such a waste.
Don’t you see how they all look at you?
Don’t you hear how they talk about you?
Don’t you know what they think about you?
Pity, shame, disappointment.
I just hate you so much!

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” Sun Tzu

They say ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ but this enermy can't get any closer.
This cancerous enemy destroys me, devours me cell by cell, tears me down.
It lodges itself in the deepest crevices of my being.
Wherever a weakness develops, it plants itself; wherever a doubt arises, it hides.
It manipulates and outsmarts me and I keep feeding it, enabling it.
It suffocates me and I keep giving it room to grow. Its bigger than me.
It continually and ruthlessly hollers at me from within me.

"Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.” -Ezra Taft Benson

But, I’m so tired.
I just want peace and quiet.
I'm tired of the one step forward, two steps back.
I'm tired of the mental ruminations.
I'm tired ot the emotional flagellation.

When does approval overcome rejection? When does acceptance disable judgement? When does self love outsmart hate? When does inner harmony replace inner-discord?
When do I learn to push this enemy out?

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” - Lao Tzu

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