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When It’s Time to Walk Away

It was spring of 2011.  I had just gone through a crushing break-up, I was recently ordained, I was having a very hard time securing my first job, I was packing up my life in New York, moving to Chicago, apartment hunting, and starting my career.  The word “whirlwind” barely begins to describe those few months.  My mind was in a million places, and my heart was only beginning to mend, and then he came along.  He was charming, funny, self-deprecating, intelligent, and claimed to really really like me.  It moved quickly – very quickly… he told me that he loved me in the first week, and wanted me to meet his kids (he was divorced) after 2.  There were many, many red flags, but I chose to ignore them because support, stability, and (what masqueraded as) love when I was in a new city, at a new job, with no friends or family around was very appealing to me.  The emotional abuse started gently, little statements here and there to stop me from making new friends or having a life outside of him. He was the master of the guilt trip.  He commented on my clothes, my personal habits, my work life, my family relationships, my friendships and so on.  It escalated gradually, until we were having these huge, all-out fights which were, of course, “all my fault” and “simply a reaction to his fear of losing me.”  He convinced me that I was the problem, to the point that I sought out a therapist to help me with the issues he assured me that I had.  He insisted on knowing every detail of my world, down to what I talked to my best friend about when we texted each other to say hi, and he thought that he had a right to know the specifics of what I discussed with my therapist.  He was manipulative, controlling, narcissistic, and brought out a side of me that was ugly and explosive.  It took me almost a year to end things with him – although I tried many times before that, and, of course, we ended up back together almost a year later.  It lasted about 9 months that time, and only ended because I moved overseas.  The abuse didn’t end after I left – there were phone calls and emails and so many text messages (ain’t modern technology great?!?) cursing me out for leaving him,  and blaming me for every problem he had. I can’t say that everything was his fault – I certainly said and felt some regrettable things, and I definitely wasn’t equipped to handle everything that he had thrown my way.  I hate a lot of who I was and how I behaved when I was with him.  Needless to say, no matter how many times I asked that communication cease, it kept coming.  Sometimes in a trickle, and sometimes in a flood.  Sometimes I answered, and sometimes I didn’t – it didn’t seem to matter.  When I didn’t answer he would get angry and spew more venom at me, and when I did answer, it just encouraged him to keep going.  There were parts of it that were addictive for me as well.  Even though I knew that it wasn’t real love, and that it really wasn’t ME he was obsessed with – rather the power and control that he had – there were still parts of me that felt validated and special that he seemed to need me so much.  I knew that it was wrong, but I didn’t always stay strong enough to stop it.

The written communication continued on and off for a couple of years, until the summer of 2016.  I went back to Chicago.  He knew that I was in town.  He tried to find out where I was to come visit me.  I felt strong enough to handle seeing him, but he didn’t show up, and then he sent me a text message that woke me up at 4 am even though he knew that I had a long drive ahead of me that day.  I also received a Facebook message from another ex of his who told me some of the lies that he had told her about me.  It was enough.  His poison had seeped into too many parts of my life, and I had to put a stop to it.  I knew, from experience, that asking him to stop would only encourage him to be in touch more, and so I decided that all I could do was end it, in no uncertain terms, inside myself.  I didn’t really know how until I was sitting at evening services at camp and we all rose for the mourner’s kaddish, and something within me knew that I was saying kaddish for him, for us, and for everything that he left with me.  Later that night, alone in my room, I had the chance to think and process, and this poem/prayer just came pouring out:

I Said Kaddish For You

I said Kaddish for you, even though you are very much alive.

I said Kaddish for you not because I wish for you to die, but because I wish for that part of my life to finally pass away.

We will not speak again, and when you do meet your end, hopefully for your sake at a ripe old age, I won’t know about it, and so tonight I said Kaddish for you.

I said Kaddish for you, but I said it for me, too. I bear no ill will towards you, nor do I wish you any harm. I pray that we are both lifted up, that our spirits are raised higher towards The Source. Please God, let our souls be pure enough that we may truly be able to praise Your name. This is why I said Kaddish for you.

I said Kaddish for you, because you are gone.… Because I need you to be gone. You, I, we need some peace, and so I said Kaddish for you.

I said Kaddish for you and for all that could have been, for who I used to be before I met you. I mourn the loss of my open heart, and I grieve over the years of brokenness.

Oseh shalom bimromav – may the One who makes peace up on high, show us how to make peace down here below.  May we have our pieces put back together, and may we, may I, find myself again



He might see this, and that’s ok.  Every couple of months his name pops up somewhere and I have to block him from yet another social media site, but it doesn’t really bother me… because I’ve done my mourning, and have finally, completely, walked away.


A Literal Trip Down Memory Lane

OK. I’ll admit it. I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately. Things were going rather well for a while and I really believed that my life was turning around…but… I’ve sent out at least a dozen job applications and have been granted exactly zero interviews, the dude that I like doesn’t like me (I believe we’ve heard this one before), I have a lingering injury that has prevented me from being as active as I would like (which of course is exacerbating my body anxieties), and I’ve had to cut out some foods from my diet (again) because I was having some unpleasant reactions, so I’m cranky and hungry.   When it rains, it pours…right??

I completely understand that things aren’t that bad. I have a place to live, a great family, awesome friends, and the little work that I do have, I love. I had an amazing experience last week as faculty at Camp George and, for the most part, I’m able to maintain a positive outlook.  For the most part.

Tomorrow, I’m leaving for a few weeks on a bit of a nostalgic tour of the Midwest. I’m going to be visiting people and places that carry with them a lot of memories and emotions for me (more on the trip in future posts), and I’m a little nervous. Excited, yes… But also nervous.  I’m nervous that the emotions and memories that are brought back will only serve to add to my current feelings of uselessness. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to snap out of this funk and have a good time.  I’m nervous that the people I see will be disappointed in me and where I am now in my life.  I’m nervous that this little foray into my past is going to make me question some of the decisions that I’ve made.

I have a feeling though, that I’m placing way too much importance on this trip. It should be a fun, exciting three weeks. Solo roadtrips are a great opportunity for some self-reflection and self-discovery, but they’re also an opportunity to just  let loose, rock out to some music on the radio, and take my mind off of what’s bothering me right now. That’s what I’m going to try to do. I know that I’m not very good at ignoring  what’s going on in my head, but I hope that the few days of driving and the many days of seeing people that I love and miss will be just the boost that I need.  And heck, I get to spend two weeks at the summer camp where I truly discovered who I am, and give back to them by volunteering my time. What could possibly be bad about that?

So yeah, I’m a little down. I’m a little trepidatious. But what’s the expression? Fear is just a sign of great things about to come?   Let’s go with that…I can work with that.

Wishing you light and love…and adventures




Matters of the Heart

I recently found out that I was born with a teeny tiny heart defect. Now, before I go any further, let me just assure all of you out there that I am fine.  Really really fine. In fact, we only discovered this heart condition because I was undergoing tests for something else that turned out to be benign. The condition that I have is potentially dangerous in other people, but I have such a mild form of it  that  my cardiologist is confident that I do not need any kind of treatment. I have no symptoms, and I am at a very low risk of any kind of issues.   There are a couple of medications that we now know that I can’t take, and if I ever feel faint or like my heart is racing I need to go to the emergency room, but honestly  everything is absolutely fine.

The condition is called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW). The simplest way to explain it is that when the upper chamber of the heart sends a signal    to the lower chamber telling it that it’s time to beat, the signal passes through one electrical pathway. People with WPW were born with two electrical pathways. Anyone who’s interested in what  this means, or wants to know more specifics about it is welcome to look it up – there are plenty of articles online, but the basic idea is that I have extra heart beats.  The only danger comes in the event of tachycardia, but again I am at a very low risk.

The only inconvenience of this whole thing, is that I now wear a medicalert bracelet.  I mean, I like jewellery and all, but this isn’t exactly  at the top of my list of stylish accessories.  Before I received the bracelet, I hadn’t really thought about the diagnosis at all.  Physically, there’s nothing to think about,  and yet now, multiple times a day…pretty much anytime I use my right hand… there is a reminder that there’s something not-quite-right with my heart. I’m not scared, I’m not worried, I’m just aware.

This constant awareness has me thinking a little bit more about my heart.  Not the physical one that has a few too many beats, but the metaphorical  heart inside my chest…the supposed centre and source of love within me.  The place where we claim that our feelings come from, the place that holds our joy and our pain.  I’m not one that really thinks about my heart that much. I prefer to live in my head, and I tend to separate myself  from what’s going on in my heart… At least I try to, with varying levels of success.  Heart stuff, emotional stuff, scares me. It  seems irrational and impossible to control, which makes me very uncomfortable.  I’ve always tried to ignore what was going on in my heart, which, as I’m sure you can all guess,  usually ends up backfiring. Instead of feeling things in the moment, I ignore my feelings  for as long as I can, until they eventually build up so big that they blowup and I fall apart.  Not the healthiest  practice, I know.   The problem is that no matter how many times I go through the cycle of pushing my feelings away until they explode all over the place, I never seem to learn. I still feel safer  ignoring my feelings in the moment, and I seem to forget that they’re just going to come back some other time.

until now.

Now I have a silver chain on my wrist. Now I have a reminder that I will never take off.  It’s been so bizarre to be diagnosed with something that hasn’t caused any symptoms at all. It’s been incredibly strange knowing that I’ve had this thing my whole life  and we never knew about it, and that had I not gone in for something completely unrelated we may have never known about it. It’s been terribly odd to have  an official “syndrome” that has virtually no impact on my physical health. I’ve been wondering why  it even matters that we found out about it – nothing about me or my regular medical care has changed.  Why did I need to know about this at all?  Yes, I’m sure that you can all see where I’m going with this.  Maybe, just maybe, having this bracelet on my wrist will be the thing that finally reminds me to take care of my heart.  Maybe the fact that I can’t stop fiddling with it, or that it never feels like it fits quite as well as it should, is so that I won’t forget that it’s there. Maybe the little metal disc proclaiming to the world that I am a person who could potentially need emergency medical care is actually softly reminding me that the real care I need can only come from myself. Maybe my “new bling” (as I’ve been enjoying calling it)  will finally teach me to be gentle with my own heart.  I’d like to think that there was a point to getting this diagnosis at all, and maybe that point is to teach me to stop fearing my feelings and to embrace them as an unavoidable and integral part of the human experience.

I’ve always been afraid that I’m too sensitive. I have always worried that being too sensitive makes me unlikable. But maybe a heart that beats more often than everyone else’s is a heart that requires more care.  I don’t think that it’s going to be easy…I KNOW that it’s not going to be easy, but it’s time.  My jewelry says so.

Wishing you all light and love


You know those times when you get a random, long-distance phone call from a friend who usually texts?  You know how you don’t answer the phone right away because you know it’s something bad and you’re driving and just have a feeling that you probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel?  You know how you just get this feeling that you know exactly what that person is calling about, but it’s just too awful, and so you push those thoughts aside and refuse to acknowledge them, for fear of being right?  You know how you hear the news, the news that you somehow already knew, but don’t believe it could really be true, and so can’t process what’s being said?  You know how the pain just rips through your chest, and you feel like you can’t breathe, and you want to scream, but you don’t, because screaming would make it real?

I’m angry, Leah.  I’m so angry.  You fought so damn hard.  Your friends and your family fought hard beside you.  It was work.  It was work pushing through all of the darkness…but you did it.  You did it and we got to watch you come out the other side.  I’m angry that you don’t get to do everything that we talked about a couple of weeks ago – everything that was going to propel your life into even higher strata of happiness and fulfillment.  I’m angry that you don’t get to watch her grow up.  I’m angry that you don’t get to share his love.  I’m angry that you don’t get to live the life that you worked so hard to create.

I’m hurting too, Leah.  I’m hurting for your family whose lives are now torn apart.  I’m hurting for your community who need to find a way to replace you, while knowing that you are irreplaceable.  I’m hurting for your sister who is now missing her North Star, her guiding light.  I’m hurting for your mother, who has to bear the burden of burying her child.  I’m hurting for your classmates, your colleagues, your friends, who are all trying to figure out how to process all of this.  I’m also hurting for me (I know you’d be proud of me for admitting that).  I’m hurting for the role that you played in my past, but more importantly for the role that you should be playing in my future.

None of this makes any sense.

I’m not ready to eulogize you, Leah. I’m so grateful to those who have, and profoundly envious of the people who have been able to beautifully and eloquently express their grief.  I guess that’s one of those weird things about knowing so many clergy members – we know how to put into words the things that people really need to hear.  But Leah,  I’m not ready to share my memories, not ready to tell people about all of your wonderful qualities.  I’m not ready to laugh about your silly idiosyncrasies.  I’m not ready to pass along the wisdom that you left behind.  It’s not time yet.  I will – you know I will… And I’ll try to not embarrass you too much.

Right now though… No.  Right now you are still here.  I can’t say goodbye just yet.  Right now you are too real, too vibrant, too present in my mind.  You’re not gone yet.  I know that you will be soon.  I hate that you will be soon, but I know it.  Then I will reflect.  Then I will remember.  Right now I will keep talking to you.  Right now I will tell you that you’re still wearing too much glitter… And right now I’ll hear you tell me that I’m not wearing enough.

My “Dear John” letter to 2015

Ah, New Year’s Eve.  It’s a powerful time, isn’t it?  We’re supposed to celebrate the year that was, and make resolutions to make our lives even better in the year to come.  We say goodbye to the year in style – we party, and drink, and get all dressed up, blah blah blah.  Well, to be perfectly honest, I have absolutely no desire to celebrate this particular year.  Let’s recap 2015, shall we?

In no particular order:

In 2015 I left a job that I thought was going to be my dream.

In 2015 I lost the war that I have been waging on my body for the past 20 years, and gained so much weight that I don’t recognize myself in pictures.

In 2015 I lost my self-identity as a Cantor, and leader in the Jewish Community.

In 2015 I was single for the longest stretch of time since…well…since I was last this fat (I’m not equating single with fat… It’s just a statement on my comfort with dating!)

In 2015 I burned out both physically and emotionally.  I didn’t really get what burnout was until 2015. I get it now.

In 2015 I lost a lot of money paying for an overseas move that I didn’t anticipate having to make.

In 2015 I had to make some significant life changes, which included a loss of the independence and autonomy that means so much to me.

In 2015 I had to say goodbye to some really wonderful friends.

In 2015 I found myself taking work that is eerily similar to work that I was doing over 10 years ago.  You know…before my master’s degree and ordination.  Some may call this “humbling.”  I would add “embarrassing.”

In 2015 I failed.  A lot.  And hard.

Yes – some good, even great things happened too, but no… I don’t really feel like giving 2015 the fancy, glamorous, send-off that society seems to think I should want to offer.  Instead, I’m going to stay home, do my laundry, and then go out tomorrow.  Tomorrow I will celebrate all of the good that I hope will come in 2016, but tonight…tonight I will write my final break-up letter to this most challenging year.

Dear 2015:

We’re through.  I can’t even begin to tell you how glad I am that our relationship is finally over.  I know that, like all relationships, part of you will stay with me forever –  you have definitely left your indelible mark upon my soul, but for all intents and purposes, we’re done.  I can’t say that you were the best I’ve ever had…far from it really…but I can say that you taught me a lot, and for that I am grateful.

You probably don’t think that you left me with any gifts at all, considering how much you wrung out of me, but that just shows how little you really know me anyway. Every relationship – even relationships with a year like you, can teach us things.  I’m sure that you’d prefer that I just hang my head and walk away, but that’s simply not me.  You may have beaten me down, but you sure as hell haven’t defeated me.  Here are some of the lessons that this relationship has taught me:

Priorities mean everything – and not just what I say my priorities are – how I behave as well.  If I put work first, then I will never be able to be my best when at work.  Work should never be priority number 1.  Ever.  Work matters, yes, but not as much as people, love, joy, and health.  When those things fall by the wayside, work suffers, too…and then there’s just nothing left.  2015, you taught me that people who put their jobs on a pedestal and do their work so that they can be  “bigger, better, best” are, with very few exceptions, miserable people.  Work should be passion and joy, yes.   I should want to do well at my job and do great things, but not… NOT at the expense of the rest of my life.  Never again, 2015.  Never again will I allow that for myself.  Thank you for helping  me to come to that conclusion.

My body is not an object to be manipulated and controlled.  I know that I’ve written and spoken about this many times before, but you, 2015, you showed me once and for all that years of abusing my body, even under the guise of being “healthy” and “clean” and “taking care of myself” is only going to backfire.  Denying myself nutrients, obsessing about exercise, and analyzing every morsel may work to keep my weight down in the short term, but my body will find a way to rebel.  Big time.  My body will shut down,  it will stop working the way that I want it to, I’ll get injuries, and adrenal fatigue, and hormonal imbalances, and then the new weight that comes on will be nearly impossible to lose through the methods upon which I have previously relied.  Funny thing, that.  2015, you taught me that anything that isn’t respectful to my body will just end up pissing it off…and a pissed off body isn’t likely to do what I want it to do.  Thank you for finally convincing me to honour my body and take real care of it.   Thank you for reminding me that no matter what any “health guru,” or “weight loss expert,” or fitness model says to do, if it comes from a place of denial, fear, and manipulation, it’s just not ok.  It’s not easy.  It still makes me cry, and yet I am grateful that I can finally start to learn how to live fully and gently bring myself back to health.

Bullies are real, and not just on the playground.  Bullies show up in every facet of life, and, for the most part, are insecure frightened children in grown-up bodies.  Most often, they don’t even know that they are bullies, but that doesn’t excuse their behaviour.  I thought that I already knew a thing or two about bullies, but wow 2015, I didn’t know the half of it.  Even though things didn’t quite work out in my favour this time, I learned this year that I am strong enough to stand up for myself, and for others.  I learned how to identify the characteristics of a bully much more quickly, and I promise 2015, in my relationships with each new year that comes, I will get better and better at staying away from those people from the start.  They can be very charming, those narcissists… It’s part of their M.O. But it’s never worth it to get sucked into their world.  People are just pawns to them, simply tools to help further their agenda, and they will turn on anyone who no longer serves them.   Thank you 2015, for helping me to gain a deeper understanding of this personality, and for showing me that, no matter the outcome, I will never regret standing up to these people.  It’s always worth it.

Dorothy was right – there really is no place like home.  More than that though 2015, I have learned that home isn’t just a place; it’s the place where my people are. I’ve lived in some cool cities and had some amazing experiences with awesome people, and yet I’ve been happier in the past few months being with my “tribe” than I have been in a very, very long time.   Sure, I don’t know where my career is going, and my living situation is less-than-perfect,  but I can’t imagine how I could have recovered from the relationship that you and I had without being here.  My family is here.  My friends are here…and the ones that aren’t, the true friends, remain close enough to me that it’s as if they are here.  I am  comfortable, and grounded, and while I feel beaten down by you, I also feel more myself than I have in years.  I’ve even made more new friends and connections is the short time that I’ve been back than I did in most of my time away. I have learned that the most important peopl in my life don’t judge me for the difficult times that I’ve had… I’m the only one who is doing that.  I’ve learned that being happy is more important than being “successful” – and who really gets to determine what “success” looks like anyway?   I think that I’m starting to understand that happiness IS success…or at least a very important first step.

So, 2015, I’m pretty happy to let you go.  Actually, 2015, I think that I’m pretty happy in general…or at least am on my way there.  Hunh.  I guess I have you to thank for that as well.  I see what you did there, 2015…maybe you’re not the bad-guy here at all…maybe that thing I always say to everyone else is actually true for me, too… Maybe I am exactly where I need to be, at exactly the right time.  Maybe you were the exact relationship that I needed in order to get where I am, and where I’m going.  Thanks 2015. While I hope that 2016 is a little bit gentler than you were, I’m grateful for the lessons that you taught me, and I know now that I’m better for them.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wishing you all light, love, and gentle lessons in the New Year.

A Weighty Issue

It’s time to admit it. I’ve gained some weight. Ok, more than some. Ok, enough that none of my clothes fit and yet I’m too ashamed to go out and buy new ones. Enough that I almost never date, mainly because I think that I’m too large for anyone to find me attractive. Enough that I’m anxious about seeing my friends and family this holiday season, because I don’t want to hear anything about how I look – good or bad…being told that I look good, especially when I don’t feel it, just seems disingenuous and condescending…and I REALLY don’t want any pictures taken of me. I’ve gained enough that I’m pretty much dreading going to Mexico on vacation next week… yes… dreading.

I know that I SHOULD (should? according to whom?) be able to go to the beach, no matter how I look, and just have a good time. I SHOULD be big and bold and proud of who I am at any size, and just have fun. It’s true that most other people probably don’t care how I look in a bathing suit, and most likely aren’t even looking at me anyway, but it’s not about them, it’s about me. I KNOW that instead of just enjoying my vacation, I’m going to be looking around and feeling ashamed. I’m going to cover up, and think about how, a year ago, I was able to wear a two-piece swim suit and, after a moment or two of feeling a bit embarassed, just have fun at the pool without worrying (too much) about what I looked like. It’s going to be a challenging week.

Here’s what happened: I was a chubby kid, and a fat teenager. Everyone in my life seemed to think that it was not just ok, but in fact their responsibility to comment on my size. I can’t remember a single meal with my extended family, from the time that I was very young, where someone didn’t make some comment about my weight – whether I had gained or lost, or just something about “she’ll grow out of it” or other such ridiculous comments. It didn’t stop at family, either. I very clearly remember a friend of mine, when I was only 9 or 10 years old, poking me in the belly and saying “you’re starting to get a bit chubby. Maybe you should do something about it.” He thought that he was being helpful. My weight, my eating, my exercise were a constant subject of conversation. It’s no wonder that those things have become something of a mental and emotional obsession for me as an adult.

Around the age of 15 I started the cycle that has lasted almost 20 years… diets, eating plans, restricting certain foods, pills, potions, books, websites, clubs, exercise programs, nutritionists, etc. etc. etc. Being able to control my body became the most important thing in my life. To be honest, some of it really really worked…temporarily. I have had times where I would have called myself ‘normal’ or maybe even ‘thin.’ I, of course, still wanted to be smaller, but I was able to wear clothes that I liked, and didn’t feel ashamed stepping outside my front door. But… something would always happen. I would put on a bit of weight, or be bloated for a few days and my clothes would feel tight, so I would throw myself into another plan/diet/exercise program etc. As time went on, those attempts at ‘fixing’ and controlling my body have become less and less effective, and yet my eating has become more and more restricted. I honestly believe that it was the restricted eating that made my food allergies so much more prominent – If I hadn’t been so worried about eating ‘cleanly’ then a little bit of ‘unhealthy’ food now and again probably wouldn’t impact my body nearly as much as it does now.

I finally realized that so many years of trying so hard to be ‘healthy’ has made me anything but, and so when I felt myself putting on some pounds this time, I did a different kind of research. What I found was that I’m not the only one who has come to this conclusion. To put it plainly, years and years of restrictive eating and over-exercising has basically thrown my hormones out of whack and killed my metabolism. It’s no wonder that the slightest indulgence can cause buttons to pop off of my clothes. I did this to myself. The cure? Well, apparently, the only way to fix a metabolism is to rest, and eat… a lot. The theory is that on a restrictive diet the metabolism shuts down, because there’s just not much to metabolize… and so you have to force the metabolism to wake up by giving it work to do. Yes, that means an initial weight gain, but, supposedly, after a few months of this the body will even itself out with a properly functioning metabolism.

So, I tried it…. and I failed. I simply can’t eat that much. I tried – I really did, but after a couple of weeks I just couldn’t keep forcing it. I gained the weight, but I don’t think that I can continue the ‘re-feeding’ process until things even out… It just doesn’t feel good.

So, what now? Sure, I could go on another diet. I could try, once again, to force my body to do what my brain wants. I might, we’ll see, but what I really need to do is change the narrative, change my thoughts. My weight, my food, and my exercise take up the majority of my brain space. It’s there when I wake up, when I go to sleep, in the car, at work, when enjoying time with my loved-ones. Sometimes it’s the predominant thought, sometimes just somewhere in the background, but it’s there. Far too much. As long as the thoughts are there, I will never truly enjoy this life. I know that I was “happiest” (not that I’ve ever been truly satisfied) with my body when I wasn’t thinking about food – when I treated myself to nice meals, ate without worrying too much about what exactly I was eating. Yes, I realize that my allergies do dictate that I have to be a little bit more careful, but strict diligence isn’t healthy for me, either. It only feeds the obsession.

I’m not the only one who is obsessed with weight, size, and appearance. It is everywhere! It is a constant topic of conversation – in both positive and negative contexts. We are always talking about how each other looks – I’m guilty of it, too. Even when we say things that are meant to be kind, the focus on body and image is just too prevalent. I’m not even talking about the idea that we are all beautiful (which we are) and that standards of beauty in the media are ridiculous (which they are). I’m talking about how we can’t seem to stop ourselves from talking about appearances. We comment on how great someone looks after losing weight. We comment that someone has put on a few. We refer to people as chunky, if they’re not as thin as their peers. We smile and say “you look great today!” as a casual greeting. We use appearances to define and distinguish each other. Sure, I understand that looks and image do matter. Sexual attraction is what keeps our species alive. How we dress and present ourselves in our workplaces can really impact how seriously we are taken by others. I get all of that, and am actually ok with it. I just want the conversations that we have to shift focus.

I’m not naive enough to think that we’re ever going to stop talking about how people look. It’s too ingrained in how we interact. I just want us all to take it down a notch or two. We have been hearing a lot about body-shaming lately, but I think it’s even more than that. Body-shaming is horrible, but body-discussing in general needs to go, too. I’m not saying that having my body spoken about was the ONLY cause of my current issues, but it was one of them… a big one. There is a summer camp in upstate New York where the kids are not allowed to comment on each others’ appearances – no “you look nice today” or “great hair style!” Nothing. They can only talk about each others’ personalities, skills, accomplishments. That sounds really tough to me… and really wonderful too. Sure, it feels great to be told that I’m beautiful – I think that we all crave that kind of affirmation, and I think that it’s ok to seek it out once in a while, but the obsession is just too powerful. I’m going to try to stop focusing so much on appearance – both mine and everyone else’s. I’d love it if you all tried, too.

And me? I went out for a nice lunch today. I sat in a restaurant and really, truly enjoyed my meal. I didn’t count calories. I didn’t obsess over the micro-nutrient ratios. I didn’t over-eat. I didn’t under-eat. It felt really great. It was only one meal, and I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but… well… baby-steps.

wishing you light and love

The green-eyed monster strikes again!

Jealousy is a challenging emotion… a very challenging emotion. I recently found myself reconnected with an old friend, and wow… was I ever jealous of him. I found myself absolutely coveting his lifestyle, his attitudes, his friendships, his everything. The details of his life that I was jealous of are, in reality, kind of ridiculous, but the feelings were very very real. He is one of those guys that seeks fun over everything else… and not just normal-people fun, like going to movies or hanging out with friends, but rock-star fun. Serious parties, Vegas, over-indulgence, large circles of people who are up for just about anything, at any time of the day or night… and for some reason I was jealous. The jealousy that I felt cut me very deeply. It made me question, well, everything about myself and my choices.

I know. I have a wonderful career. I have the privilege of helping people, teaching people, bringing meaning and comfort into people’s lives. It really is an honour and one that I don’t take lightly… and yet… yet I was jealous of this guy. A part of me wants to know what it’s like to live in a world where feelings don’t matter, and sheer excitement and pleasure take precedence over all. A world in which anything goes, in which choices don’t need to be weighed against morality, and ethical dilemmas don’t really factor. A world in which consequences are irrelevant, the word “serious” is considered dirty, and life is simply fun.

Even as I write this now I recognize how naive and presumptuous I am being. I know that it’s not true that morals and ethics don’t exists in that world – this guy is a good man… his life has just taken a very different path than mine has. I also know that I sound shallow, childish, and ungrateful – all of those things that I work so hard to avoid. I know that all of the work that I have done on myself to be open, warm, kind, and positive (and yes, I know that I still have a long way to go) has been and will continue to be worthwhile. I also know that most people can’t party forever without eventually wanting something more meaningful….most people…and so I’m left feeling even worse about this envy. It is irrational, and, as anyone who knows me well already knows, I don’t do well with irrational. I have to try to figure it out and make sense of it all.

Here is what I’ve come up with so far: Jealousy, I think, is really just tied to feelings of self worth. When I was around this guy I definitely felt like I wasn’t cool enough, wasn’t fun enough, wasn’t stylish enough, wasn’t etc etc etc enough. It was nothing that he said or did, it was all me and the expectations that I placed upon myself. There is something in me that compares myself to others, and almost always I come up short. I see what other people have, what other people do, and using that all-important positive attitude that I work so hard on, I only see the good, the shiny, the enviable. I also hate to think that the people I care about are anything less than happy and fulfilled, and so I don’t even think about the ways in which their lives may not be sparkly… and I get jealous. I think that I can’t possibly be worthy of the wonderful lives that they live. I assume that I’m not good enough, in whatever way, to be able to ‘make it work’ the way that they do.

I am fully aware of how unrealistic and blatantly untrue that all is.  I get that there’s so much more to everyone’s story and that all people have both beauty and pain in their lives.  I also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am EXACTLY where I need to be right now, and so the feelings of jealousy and feelings of not being worthy are very unsettling.  Envy, obviously, is incredibly detrimental, especially when it is based on half-truths and misunderstandings.  Jealousy can cloud one’s vision and be a painful distraction from real life… and yet, maybe a little bit of jealousy isn’t so bad – especially when one can step back and take a really close look at the source of the jealousy.  Maybe the feelings of not being worthy are a sign of needing to take a break, or relax, or stop trying so hard.  Maybe the envy is just an indication of something small that is missing, and easily found, rather than some major life changes that need to take place.  Maybe the jealousy is just the trigger that is needed to stop, look around, and learn to appreciate what is, instead of what could have been.  The more that I’ve examined it and the more that I’ve pulled it apart, the more I have realized how much better off I really am with what I have, and what I’m capable of achieving… and for that, I am infinitely grateful.

Wishing you light and love