Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"Living honest to your self"

I was watching a movie with my kids today called "Sky High" even though I don't care much to watch Disney animated movies, I sometimes find that it has some pretty interesting things that I can learn from, the movie is about this boy who's parents have super human powers, they are hero's who save the world, his father expect from his son to grow up and be a super hero, he sends him off to a school where he can learn how to use his powers, his all life the boy is trying to make his father happy and not tell him that he does not have this powers.

I very much related to this movie, being that a good half of my life I lived pretending to my family and everyone else, that I'm who they want me to be "Erliche Yiddish tochter" (a daughter who truly obeys and follows the way she was brought up) shaving my hair -wearing a tichel on my head- dressing and acting the part of a frum hasidic woman- I was doing it to make them happy, I had the fear of hurting them, or tell them the truth, my own feelings, of who I truly am- or how I want to live, I pushed aside, But- just like the kid in the movie there came a day where he can't hide it anymore, he has a talk with his father and tells him the truth, he hated the fact that he had to act as IF he is that son he truly wants him to be.

He finally gets the courage and tells his father that truth, that he does not have super human powers, that he might not ever be what he expects him to be, I'm who I'm- and that is okay with me, he says to his father, the father hearing this, gets completely outraged.

We can understand the fathers outrage -many parents have a vision of how they want there kids to grow up, all of a sudden- all of what the father wished for his child to be, falls apart, everything he wanted him to be, The father can't take that his son might just be different.

Why is it that a lot of people pretend and live a life that is not who they truly are?

I have a question? when you end up dead, who is going into your grave? your parents? or maybe those who think you should or shouldn't live how you feel is right for you?

The way I see it is- that I'm responsible for how I live my life, not anyone else, if I end up in my grave (which we all do) I want to know that I lived a honest life to my self, that the way I lived my life was my choice, not a life full of lies, or living to please everyone around me, my believe is that no one should ever live this way, of course its for each and everyone to decide for them selfs, how they want to live there life, but this life-to me is not living.

I truly believe that the reason why a lot of people will stay, living in a community they hate, or a religion they don't believe in, is the fear of rejection, the fear of what will everyone think of me? The fear of losing there children, or simply the fear of the unknown, the fear of change, some don't think they have a choice, they don't think that they have the right to live who they really want to be, It's sad to see how many just live in fear- what kind of life is this? Living a life they hate and resent.

I don't think that this fear is a good enough reason for me - why I should scarify my all life for others, I believe you live once, and besides I don't want to wait to find out differently, my life is happening right now, not some day in the future- you never know when your going.

I do enjoy helping others-and I believe in treating others with respect and show appreciation, but that does not mean I have to give up my own self identity, I believe in living a honest life to your self, not to conform to what a community or family believes is right for you (I'm well aware of what it takes to break away from the way you where raised) your all your life you know what is expect from you, or better said- they tell you what your suppose to be, just don't be your self-you don't know what is right for you- you can't make your own choices- we know what's best for you- all this years its being put into your head, you have to follow with blind faith- Don't ask questions? do what your told, Yes- for some its enough to live this way- But not for me, and not for many of us.

Its hard to make changes to start living on your own, to make your own decisions when your always told how to think- how to look, how to be everything they teach you, but they never teach you to be your self.

There is so much damage that parents/communities do to there children by not allowing them to have there own identity, by treating them like they are some object they own- kids are not some property you bought to do what you want with them, kids are a gift from God, they are precious jewels, you shine it and polish it with care love and affection, you think about what there needs are? you take in account that they have there own Identity, there feelings of who they are, you don't just raise them to do only what you feel is good for you, parents have so much power to shape a child's life, parents have the power to ruin there children, or raise them with love and affection, and bring them up to grow into healthy stable adults.

no matter what religion or faith they want there child to grow up with or how, If its done with love and care there is 99% more chance they will grow up loving it, rather than rejecting it all together.

In my own opinion many of those who rebel- including my self -would have never have turned away if not for the twisted way's of how we where brought up- where many times our parents, teachers, rabbis, communities, where simply using the Torah (or religion) has a tool to manipulate and control us -interpreting the Torah to use to there advantage, there comes a time when you start thinking what's going on here? Why am I living like this? I hate who I see in the mirror, seeing my self living a lie, this is not who I'm inside, or how I want to live, most of us have no idea or uderstanding what it means to live a religious life- we follow a system with out even relating or connecting to what where doing, we end up getting disgusted by everything we where ever told, weather it has any truth to it or not.

I'd like to share something that happened to me a couple of years ago, someone suggested that I go see a rabbi who deals with bal tshuv'as (converts) finally- I decided why not? It can't hurt to go see him, so I went to see the rabbi, I told him my all history, the way my parents brought me up, how I was raised to believe, I was very open with him, he heard my story, and than he tells me YOU WHERE NEVER RELIGIOUS, I was shocked to the core, and in disbelief, How can you say this to me I ask him? I always kept shabbes, I always ate kosher, I always believed that I'm living a religious life, that's not what religion is about he tells me.
I realized that most of the things I was taught had nothing to do with religion- the Torah is not about pushing and shoving it down on others, If its not taught with love than its not worth a thing.

some just don't want to hear about "yiddishkeit" anymore,(and I don't blame them) they run far away from anything that as slightly to do with anything religious, they can't stand the sight of another Jew, (sad indeed) it can take years to come to a place of finding peace inside.

For my self- It took me a while to truly be at peace with who I'm, I needed to work on the damage that was done, to finally come to a place where I gained inner peace in my life, for me to realize that there is another way to live, as hard as it was, and still sometimes can be, I work on forgiving those who hurt me deeply, in order to be free of resentments and live with out anger,
I made a choice not to let my past control my present, but to make a better life for me and my kids.

Friday, December 23, 2005

"Preparation's for Chanukah"

Chanukah is coming up- it's the time of the year like many other holidays, when families get together and celebrate, my sisters invited me to come to my mom for a Hanukkah party, I plan to go with my kids and join the all family.
before I go, I'm mentally and psychically preparing my self for this occasion, even though I respect my family, and I choose to go visit them dressed appropriately, its still something that I don't always like doing, The dressing up part.

One of the many concern that I have is: how am I going to dress up so that I look tzniusdig (modest) I just got a hair cut- normally I put my hair in a pony tail with a hat to cover my hair and I'm good to go, now - my hair is way too short, I'm concerned about it sticking out, this might upset them or maybe seen as disrespectful from my side.
I think my best choice is that I will put on a snood or a turban that I have saved "Hal kol Tzoro Sh'eloy So'voy" hopefully my hair won't be sticking out.
I'm not sure how to translate the above quote- maybe one of you can do a better translation than me, but I will try (in the worst case cenerio - if and when it comes up -it should be available) something to that extend.

When I dress up to go visit my family, my kids tell me Mommy- you look like your dressed for Purim-- Its not you- I take them aside, sit down with them and tell them very clearly, that certain times you do things to show respect to others, whether or not its something that you normally do- or don't- or even if for you its not always what you like doing, I teach them that their are different ways for different people, different doesn't necessarily mean its bad , it means that every person can make a choice on what's right for them , the important thing to remember is that no matter who you choose to be, you respect others for who they are.
especially if you know their standards,and what they expect from you when you come visit their home. I tell my kids that it will make Bobbie (grandma) happy if I dress up this way and therefor I'm happy to do it.

I keep my negative feelings - comments to my self, even if at times I want to really scream damn it- can't I just be ME? But than of course its just a feeling - is it valid? Yes - But, in this case not realistic of me to expect.

I teach my kids that its not about the kippa or the length of the payees that makes one Jew more special than the other , its only appropriate to respect and do something for others, even if its not so much what we do in our home.

My kids are well aware of the differences from being a modern orthodox Jew, to being a Hasidic Jew, maybe not in the exact way I see it , but They go to their father frequently enough to
know the difference, my life -and their way of life.

Their are conflicts that I myself have at times and I feel the same way about my kids having some difficulties adjusting, when the are by my parents they will not discuss some of the things we do, for instants- when they play with my nieces and nephew they seem to understand to keep things on the down low and not discuss movies they watched the other day.

I get sad when I feel that maybe they are bothered by it too? Maybe this is confusing-
but I try to be as open as I can with them, I can't always protect them from everything, I need to allow them to learn in their own time, and eventually they will have a better understanding of this all situation.

It is nice to hear my kids speak in Yiddish, to my nieces nephew's, my oldest speaks it more fluent then my younger child, I sometimes listen and watch from the side, Its interesting to see how they switch from English to Yiddish with a very American/litvish accent, it sometimes cracks me up , but of course I don't laugh in front of them.

I love the fact that my kids speak Yiddish, and understand it, the Yiddish language is so expressive and beautiful (one of the things that I will always cherish) you can never translate a joke from Yiddish/English its not going to have the same "Taam" the Juiciness.

Wish me good luck - I pray that I will find the right dress- head covering -or what ever else I will need, and have a beautiful time with my family, I wish you all " happy Hanukkah"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Just for today"

I have this key chain hanging in my rear view mirror "JUST FOR TODAY" I look at it every day, Its my daily reminder to live in the moments, just for today I can leave it to God to take care of me, to give him my worries, to let him handle it for me, Their isn't any other way to live but to live in the moments, the seconds, to appreciate the day.

I sometimes let my thinking take me over, I start thinking to much, I have to remind my self to give my thinking over to my higher power the God of my understanding, Stop worrying where I will be? What is my purpose here? Maybe I'm not doing enough? I learned that no matter what I can never predict where I'm gonna be the next month the next year, why waste my days worrying about all this unpredictable things, why don't I just do the best I can for today, If I'm were I'm than this is were I'm supposed to be.

God has a plan for me, I have to allow him in to guide me, when I look back where I was a year ago, sometimes I would say I would have made different choices, But NO - If I go back a year ago I will be exactly where I was a year ago.

I once heard a 60 year old lady share in a meeting , I laughed to my self when she said: I gave up on trying to figure -IT OUT-
I realize that If someone that is twice my age can say that, I can learn from her and allow my self to let life take me where ever It takes me, There is always that unanswerable question no matter how old you are.

Of course its sometimes easier said that done to allow my self to live just a day at a time, I'm a human being and I tend to get lost in the daily struggles, Work- bills- raising Kids-relationships- But its the awareness that I try to live by to remember on a daily basis that I'm exactly were I'm suppose to be today, Just for today.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The True Meaning of UNCHOSEN v's Rechosen:

I just returned home from a Jac's retreat (an organization dedicated to helping Jewish alcoholics, drug addicts and their friends and families to achieve recovery in a nurturing Jewish environment) I have not slept all night, being that I sat in the lobby talking till 8 o'clock in the morning laughing crying and listening to every one's stories, sleep was the last thing on my mind I had such an amazing experience, My heart is just so over whelmed with emotions, I feel the needs to share what I witnessed this weekend.
has I walked into the hotel Lobby, Immediately my eyes caught the sight of a group of Hasidic men and woman from boro park, Williamsburg, monsey, Monroe, sitting all together, not only this, they are sitting with a group of men and woman who you normally would think are not Jewish, sitting around in the lobby and having heartfelt conversations, on one side I notice a rabbi with his son sitting right by his side, let me give you a little bit of a clearer picture what I saw, The son clearly does not look like he is sitting next to his father, wearing a pear of jeans with a gray t'shirt his head not covered with a kipa, seeing this brought tears to my eyes, to see a father and his son sit together like nothing is even a bit off, A all group of Jew's from all walks of life sitting (bachdus) accepting, non judgmental, every single person who sat there looked has if they where brothers and sisters together united, some people where playing there guitar's violin's, everyone singing and dancing together, you could feel and touch the love that was present there.
I can't begin to describe what I feel when I see this in front of my eye's , I feel touched moved and inspired, to see that there are people like this around where everyone is accepted and loved for exactly the way they are , has someone who sometimes feels not fully accepted, who has to fight to be acknowledged, I'm just so overwhelmed by this, I get back to my daily life, and in my wish full thinking I dream of seeing all of us Jew's around the world treat each other like brothers and sisters , this is by far one of the very few times that I see such unity between a group of Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, including secular Jew's all together like one.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"How my yiddish Bought me a mitzvah"

As I was driving down the street the other day, I see this hasidic lady standing on the side of the road with a little boy by her side, outside is freezing, At first, I continue driving thinking to my self why should I stop? It's more likely she will say no If I offer her a ride it has happened so many times before. it's not like they easily trust random strangers and specially to get into a car with a woman that looks like a shiksa (Gentile) I couldn't just drive off watching her and her son freeze off, me sitting in a comfortable heated car just doesn't sit well with me. I decide to take another chance, I backed up slowly not to scare her, I roll down my window and with a welcoming smile I ask politely do you need a ride? At first she says, Oh no- I'm fine, I'm waiting for someone to pick me up, just like I expected her to respond. Don't get me wrong- I totally understood her reaction, that use to be me, I can read her facial expressions, the lines on her forehead strike out as she checks me out from head to toe. I decide to take a different approach, I raise my voice a bit louder and say, Veilst Ha Ride? S'iz zier kalt indrosen.. I see her eyes open wide as if they are about to pop out of their sockets, Oh--Dee redest yiddish she asks? I say yes, I took classes for yiddish in collage I really enjoy learning different language's, she seems totally intrigued, she goes, wow-your really good you even have the accents out so well, I try to keep a straight face and smile at her, I can see she feels more calm now as she asks me So- are you Jewish? I Say yes, my mother is Jewish, So I guess that makes me Jewish. I prefer not to get to personal with everyone that asks me how I speak yiddish I don't want to be asked a million and one questions just cause I speak their language. finally, she starts pulling on the door handle to open the back door, I can see a big smile forming on her face she looks like she just found a big metzeya in Macy's. she sits into the back sit with her little boy on her lap, and off I go with my mitzvah..

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Share a bit of my life with you!!

When I decided to move out from my orthodox Jewish community and start living a different life, my views of the world were extremely limited, my life was filled with resentments, anger and blame, I went from one extreme to the next, I left my faith and religion out of my life.
I turned to drugs and alcohol to escape the pain and misery that I felt inside, I did not want to face them, It took a while for me to finally have a moment of clarity and realize that this is not who I want to be, especially after all that it took for me to finally get out of a unhappy marriage and a life full of pretending and acting being someone that I'm not, I was not going to go from one miserable life to another, but I did, When I started admitting that I have a problem, I still didn't know how to handle my addiction, the pain was unbearable, I finally reached a point and surrendered by getting into a 12 step program. my life started to change drastically, the real me came out, I stopped running away from my pain, I started dealing with the pressing issues that was never dealt with, I realized that life is worth fighting for, unlike the past I had totally given up on it,

I see so many people that come out from similar communities I grew up with and turn to drugs and alcohol unfortunately, taking the destructive path I took, a lot of them simply don't have the tools of what it takes to live a different life other than what they were raised with, they have no guidance in how to go about living in a world totally unfamiliar to them. it sadness me to see how many of them end up were I ended up, from one miserable life to another, I'm very grateful that I am no longer bond to my addiction and have taken the steps to start living a life that I love a life that is filled with fulfillment, I no longer run from my pain, I no longer need to suffer. I'm able to be a healthy mother to my children, I'm able to give them the love that I never received, I learned to take my negative experiences and use them as lessons to live a better life, its a wonderful journey.. sometimes we need to end up on the bottom to reach back to the top. Life isn't about perfection but progress. I hope that by sharing my experiences some of you might learn something from it and maybe gain strength not to have to end up suffering like I did.