07 February 2009

the lonely scrapbooking Jew

Well, I tell ya.  When you ask for a sign, YOU GET ONE.  Or in my case, three.

Last night, I went to All About Scrapbooks for an "open crop."  This is when all kinds of ladies go sit in a tiny back room and cut up paper, and glue it to other paper, with EMBELLISHMENTS.  Wooo!  I went because I was hoping to get some quiet time to work on something crafty, and also because I thought they'd have free stuff to use (they did, but it wasn't anything fantastic).  I ended up only staying about an hour -- it just wasn't for me.  Too many women in too small a space.

Anyway, while I was there, I noticed that a lot of women were working on religious-themed pages (Xmas, Easter, etc.).  There was also a lot of talk about pastors, "my" church, and Veggie Tales (which I've since learnt is a Christian-themed kids' show).  Don't get me wrong, I thought it was great!  I love it when people are excited about their faith.  But instead of that sad, longing feeling to be like them, I felt kind of proud to NOT be like them.  Does that make any sense?  Proud doesn't seem like the right word, but I can't think of something different.  I kind of wanted to whip out a Passover-themed scrapbook layout -- do they make a gefilte fish die-cut? -- not to be all "I'm Jewish, in YO FACE!" but ... I don't even know what.  It just made me happy.

When I got home, Charlie had cleaned up all the dinner mess, Austin was in bed asleep, and everything was quiet.  After a little TV (and reorganizing my craft stuff, which had gotten all messed up on the way home) I headed upstairs with my latest Real Simple magazine.  I flipped around and found an article called "Good Advice for Tough Times."  It featured five people talking about how to survive crises.  The second page of the article had advice from Rabbi Niles Goldstein, who leads the New Shul in NYC.  His advice:

"View life itself as a condition without guarantees, one in which anything can happen to anybody at any time."


"Muscle tissue gets stronger after being broken down.  I believe the same is true for our souls.  Feeling broken from a crisis opens our hearts and helps us appreciate things we previously took for granted."

I got tinglies up my spine when I read this.  It was EXACTLY what I needed to read.  So, Rabbi Goldstein, if you're reading this, THANK YOU.  And yes, I will be getting off my heiny to count my blessings.

It occurred to me that I've been whining a lot lately, and whining about things that I totally have the power to change.  Weight?  Yeah, I can fix that.  Spiritually hungry?  Yeah, I can fix that.  I just have to do some work.  It's not going to fall in my lap, and I certainly won't get much help if I don't make some effort myself.  And as far as the stuff that's beyond my control (i.e. surgery, no more bebes), well, I can't control that; I can only control how I deal with it.

My third sign actually happened before I went out last night, but I didn't put it together until this morning.  Right before Charlie came home from work, I was flitting around, finishing up dinner and straightening up the house.  I looked around and didn't see Austin.  The downstairs of our house is baby-proofed, so he has free run, but I still like to keep him in sight (or at least in earshot).  I walked over to the front door, because sometimes he'll sit there with 'Bama to wait for Daddy to come home.  He wasn't there.  I turned my head, looking up the stairs, and he was HALFWAY UP THE STAIRS!  My first reaction was, "Holy sh*t, I'm a terrible mom, he could totally die if he fell! And it would be my fault!"  I ran up and got behind him, but I didn't stop him climbing.  He kept on going, and got all the way to the top without any help from me.  I couldn't believe it.  My little guy, not even a year old yet, not even WALKING yet, climbed up a steep flight of stairs all alone.  This little tiny person used all of his effort and will and did something that probably seemed terrifying and impossible.  He did it without whining or crying.  He did it without help (just a watchful eye behind him).  If he can do all that, I can, too.  I HAVE to.  Otherwise, what kind of example am I setting for him?

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