Sorting Things Out

I’m feeling a bit discombobulated…out of sorts, confused, and a bit overwhelmed. When I write my weekly blog, I’m usually sitting in my kitchen in Atlanta on a Thursday evening, cappuccino in hand, with a very clear idea about what I want to say. My fingers dance along the keyboard, with the rhythm of the tune playing in the background, and the words just flow onto the screen.

Not today. Today I’m writing this week’s post on a Wednesday morning from a bed in the Marriott Courtyard in Montvale, New Jersey. The sun seems to be shining outside my window, promising to be a pretty day. The coffee I’m drinking from the hotel room’s machine is plain BLAH! Brown colored water that won’t clear the fog from sleep or get my heart and blood pumping. (There isn’t a Starbucks remotely near here!) I had much to say this week, but now it’s all jumbled inside my head and I can’t seem to sort it all out.

Here’s the challenge. I came up north for my nephew’s Saturday bar mitzvah; stayed for the festivites and Labor Day weekend; and took a couple of days off work…lots of wonderful activities in a very short period of time. I’ve been with grandparents, parents, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends. I’ve been completely distracted by and focused on others and my relationships with them.

Suddenly, tonight starts Rosh HaShanah – the Jewish New Year. The holiday is uncharacteristically early due to some relationship between the solar and lunar calendars. (Who ever heard of Labor Day and Rosh HaShanah falling in the same week? Apparently they’ll actually be on the same day in 2032, but then not again until 2089. ) Usually the holiday falls mid- to late-September, on or around my birthday, giving me adequate time for introspection and self-reflection. This year it’s two weeks early – catching me by surprise and denying me the “real time” chance to self-assess and develop a plan for self-improvement. It also is leaving me unable to offer a profound message to my readers. But, not one to miss a deadline, all I can do is hope that a review of the past year in my life will provide some clarity.

September of 2012 through August of 2013 was comprised of some of the following [extended] family transitions and events — some planned and some not:

  • The birth of a baby;
  • Two bar mitzvahs;
  • New romantic relationships;
  • New friendships;
  • Passover in Israel;
  • Two college graduations;
  • One law school graduation;
  • New jobs;
  • Moves to new cities;
  • Three engagements;
  • Some milestone birthdays and wedding anniversaries;
  • Some travel abroad;
  • Some illnesses;
  • No deaths (thank God!); and
  • My grandfather’s ninety-fifth birthday (worthy of individual and notable mention).

Whether or not I personally was ready for these happenings, they occurred – and would have occurred with or without my involvement. But herein lie the choices…and my “AHA” moment. Sometimes, we know a happy occasion is coming and we actively (and eagerly) prepare for it. For example, we buy new outfits, make reservations early (i.e. hotel, air, car rental), redecorate, rehearse, send out invitations, etc. Sometimes, a not-so-happy-event is looming and we end up procrastinating or using other avoidance techniques. We might forget, for instance, to put the event on the calendar, put off buying airline tickets to wait for a sale, not put in for vacation time at the office, etc. Sometimes, however, an event is sprung on us and we simply must take stock, regroup, and react – whether we are ready and prepared or not. Certain events – good or bad – are unpredictable and we have no choice but to “deal.” And, it is HOW we deal — how we process the situation and what we do about it — that’s most important. It’s the HOW that we are judged by. It’s the HOW that we must learn from. It’s the HOW that we must get better at.

Rosh HaShanah seemingly caught me by surprise this year, but I’ll be ready for it thanks to life skills I’ve learned and the attitude with which I try to live. I can look back at the events of the past year, reflect on how I reacted to them, and take steps to do better this time around.

To quote Rabbi Joshua Heller:

“May this be a year of resilience, where we adapt and thrive no matter what we face.

May this be a year when we find ourselves ahead of schedule for the good things in life.

May this be a year where we manage to [side-step] life’s bumps and disruptions.

May this be a year when all of our surprises are pleasant ones.”

Shanah Tovah u’Mitukah!

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