So if you know me in 'real time' or have been following this blog for any length of time you know I enjoy writing my own little ditties. Well, I would like to share with you two I have written for the children at school. Hope you enjoy them! If you do decide to use this at a school of your own please remember what you teach your children and treat others the way you wish to be treated, in other words please just mention I wrote these. I dunno, just seems right. Besides someone suggested I put my ditties in a booklet and I am thinking about doing that. Who knows I could be the next Raffi or Uncle Moshe? °Ü°
With this one I give each child a cut out or silk leaf and tell them to imagine they are a tall tree and this is their very last leaf of autumn. They stretch their arms up and hold their leaf high. During the first verse I ask them to wave their hands gently. During the second verse the sway their arms side to side. Third verse they release their leave and watch them float to the floor. During the last verse they pretend to splash colors about. We have a lot of fun doing this!
Autumn leaves are changing, bright colors do I see. Autumn winds are blowing, the leaves from every tree. Autumn leaves are falling and floating to the ground. Splashing brightly colored leaves on every lawn in town.
I haven't figured out anything yet to do with this one, mostly we just sing it!
Hashem gave us seasons I love them one and all! Winter, spring and summer and brightly colored fall! I love the cold of winter and the warmth of spring. But the cool and autumn colors just make me sing!
Autumn colors are bursting all around! Leaves are changing yellow, orange, brown. Pumpkins and squash are growing in the field! And mommy cooks them up for our favorite meals!
It is about 8:30pm and I am taking a break from my day to write here. My daughter is playing 'Victor's Piano solo from the Corpse Bride' in the background and the house is peaceful. I lit my candle chandelier and several other of the many candles scattered about my home and it smells of autumn spices and cinnamon. I am grateful to be able to breathe in the gentle fragrances and sit at peace here. I have been busy all day doing all sorts of things. I placed an order for school and made up some lists of things to do. I need to still make a rough draft of what I want to teach for the month of Chesvan. I really love Chesvan. I know it is also called marcheshvan, because of the lack of holidays, but I myself and quite happy for the non events in my life. Status quo and trying to get back to 'normal' are enough happenings for me, thank you.
There was a time when I loved and lived for the drama. Oh yes, drama was the soup du jour of my lfie and I enjoyed many helpings of it each day. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I have come to truly revel in the quiet and the moments that come to me. I try very much to turn my heart in gratitude for each moment and blessing that comes my way. It does take a certain amount of discipline to develop this awareness. I am also sad to say that in my case it took a certain amount of loss also to develop this. As I saw dreams and perceived realities slipping through my fingers I realized I better get grateful for my life and fast. I know I do not need to tell you this is not so easy a task and I confess, there are times that I am far better at it than others, but like many of you, I am a work in progress.
Being grateful for me means acknowledging as much of the good and as many of the blessings that comes to me as I can. It means to say it out loud, speaking to the Universe and thanking my Creator for them all. Not trying to take anything for granted.
Today I am grateful for these among other things:
A day spent at home. Laundry done. A beloved friend bringing coffee and uproarious laughter over embarrassing girl talk. My youngest daughter sharing her day with a friend and then telling me all about it. My son's devotion to his family and deep consideration for each one of us. My husband listening to me even though it can be very hard at times. My sister's phone call. My friend's love for her father. My oldest daughter's phone call home as soon as she got up. (she is away with her beloved cousin) My burnt finger tip. (which means I was working with my glue gun today and made a magazine holder out of the empty diaper box left here after my youngest neice and nephews visit. Blessed creativity!) Peace in my home. The peace I feel in my heart right now in this moment.
The quietness of this upcoming month will, b'ezrat Hashem, enable me to focus even more on this gratitude and peace. Spending more time tending to my home and nurturing my creativity. Spin some wool, knit some, read and learn some and grow some. Refocus my intention and connect. As the earth pulls deeper into her rest I can join in with the season and rest my mind and heart too.
Barukh haba! Notice I still have some cheerful zinnias and lovely lavender blooming! Help yourself to the lemon balm, I have more than enough! Sidewalk view of the sukkah. Open either door, I am somewhere lurking about.
I really delight in decorating my sukkah. As you see it is very simple but we call it home. I put pictures of tzaddikim, particularly sephardic, (hey, I'm proud, what can I say?) one of the future beit hamikdash (soon and in our time!) and others. I have some leaf garland hanging with tiny orange lights that give the sukkah a very warm glow. This is where we place our candles and anything we may need food, extra paper products etc.. This is where we eat. You'd be surprised how many people we can fit here! The sukkah is on our front porch off of my living room. The windows ensure us of not having to worry too much if the eruv goes down on shabbat. Thanks for visiting! Please be sure to have a snack and make a bracha! Chag sameach!
and what did I do, (upon a certain friend's prompting of course)? I queued about 21 projects for myself. Mostly simple things like dishcloths, scarves and shawls. I am really not so into making dishcloths, but they are a great small project and I thought a really good opportunity to practice new stitches. The shawls are lovely, one I especially picked out for my oldest daughter, a cute funky chunky one. I enjoy making scarves and a few of the scarves I am really excited about. I chose one hat to try out too. See, all of a sudden my family is on my case about making them stuff. I am working on a scarf for my son and have made for my daughters already. Last night my sister informed me that the knitting torch has been passed to me now that mommy is not with us anymore, so I better get knitting. Well, there are a bizillion patterns on ravelry.com to choose from so I have plenty to choose from to keep the torch burning brightly!
Check out Ravelry, apply for an invite, and join me in the fun!
First thing I did today was put on my apron. I know, it's not so 'yontif-dik' but I assure you it is my fanciest apron, it makes me feel warm and good which to me seems pretty 'yontif-dik'. I am happy to be at home and have my little neice and nephew here visiting. My youngest made a breakfast of pancakes for us and I took the little ones out to the sukkah to eat. They really enjoyed their breakfast and looking at the posters decorating my sukkah. My nephew pointed at my poster of the future beit hamikdash and said 'It's a house'. I told him actually it is the Holy Temple, but then I remembered the verse that says, "...for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 57:7) and thought better of my answer.
While making his way through airport security, my son was questioned, not about liquids over 3 oz. but about the suspicious looking, funny shaped item in his carry-on suitcase. What, you ask could he possibly be carrying?? Why it was his ominous looking etrog! Obviously there was no problem and my son made sure to give the airport security the heads up that they may be seeing several more of these things coming through. One thing you have got to admit, they are on the ball here in Philly!
Supersize amounts of food have infiltrated my home for some time now and as we all know superzing food only adds up to a Supersized me and you. It is especially hard during shabbat and the chaggim to have control, and especially sukkot when it seems all you do is eat. On top of that there are so many wonderful fall recipes to try out and that I want to make plenty of.
If you are anything like me, you make enough food to feed your family and another ta boot. For some reason I am always afraid there is not going to be enough to go around. I know it makes no sense at all but I am pretty sure it's genetic. °Ü° Lately I have been trying to make more reasonable amounts of food.
After reading Rabbi Brody's post here on eating well during the chag and keeping the weight off I am re-inspired to mend my ways for mine and my family's sake and the sake of my guests. I always try to make healthy foods but even those foods in excess are not necessarily good. Besides I am not above putting excess brown sugar on my yams. I am going to endeavor not to do it this year. If you happen come by my sukkah this year I am planning to have healthy yummy food to eat and healthy snacks to enjoy. Even more than that though, we will have the sweet fellowship to enjoy and the joy, peace and simply beauty that flows from the holiness of the sukkah.
Yom Kippur is over and I pray that you all had a very meaningful fast. I am grateful to be able to tell you that I did, although I worked very hard for it. Kol nidre always sets my mind and heart reeling and I honestly could not tell you why. I have no absolute thought pattern going on, I just get this awesome anxiety that comes over me. I really tried very hard to be into very moment and read the prayers in English regardless of if I knew them in Hebrew. Let's be honest, rattling through a bunch of 'al chets' just doesn't mean as much or hit home as hard as 'For the sin of tale bearing' etc, does. I mean that just gets me every time. 'Yeah, did that, crud did that too, ouch...' I feel so awful and truly want to do better. I think it is a pretty good moral inventory, so no matter where you are holding there is always room for marked improvement.
Where my working hard came in was not allowing negativity and worry to take over. There are some things happening in my life that could have me very nervous if not downright frightened if I let them. But I keep fighting that, knowing that worry is praying in the negative. All during the services if I allowed my focus to drop, worry would come scampering in like a pesky rodent trying to get me to focus on it. I fought and fought and made it through each of the services. During the break it came back again and again I fought. Actually, I don't know if fighting is the right word, more like I refocused my attention. Yes, this is a better description.
I don't know if it was me but it sure seemed to me that there were alot more folks really into the davening this year. The energy felt higher, felt more intense. I don't know what was different about this year but it surely seemed that way and it was good. I pray that all of that kavana, all of the earnestness of prayer reached the portals of Heaven and we will see a real shift in the cosmos.
It's so amazing to me the ease of the fast itself too. Again I don't know if it's the kedusha of the day or what but I was not even hungry the whole day. The worse I felt was a heavy head and mostly I was tired. I did take a break during shacharit and sat outside in the lobby just reading prayers and having some one on one with the One. This too was very good.
I am grateful to have my whole family together with me during the chaggim. It is the first time in three years. I have come to a point to mark these moments and not take them for granted. I focus on the good and am grateful for each moment.
Well, I guess I am done rambling for now. Thanks for letting me share. Again, I hope you also had a meaningful day and that you and yours and me and mine are all sealed for blessing in all ways this year. That we are blessed with excellent health, parnasa, hatzlacha, simcha and much shalom. May our tefillot rise to shamayim and bring about the change in the universe and in this world that we all truly need. Blessings and peace to us all.
was a good day. I started my day by making a 'To Do' list. Here is what it looked like:
-Smile -Keep thoughts happy -Speak words of life to yourself and others -Assume the best -Laundry -Organize closet -Clean Bathroom -Dust bedroom
I managed to get most things accomplished and am quite proud of myself. The best part was keeping an eye on my thoughts. I had a peacful and productive day. This may just have to become a habit I pursue. I also did a short study on thoughts which you can see in the post below. I even printed it out in order to look at it daily.
You are wherever your thoughts are. Make sure your thoughts are where you want to be.
Make sure you don't allow your thoughts to become chometz--leavened. Don't dwell on bad thoughts or desires at all.
When a person purifies his heart and expels all unholy thoughts from his mind, thinking only good thoughts, he can bring about real miracles.
A person's entire destiny-for good or ill-depends on the thoughts in his heart.
If you allow yourself to be depressed about these kinds of thoughts (negative) it simply feeds them with more fuel. It is no good being upset or afraid of them. Just don't pay attention to them. Try and be cheerful.
The simple fact is that it is impossible for two thoughts to be in the mind at one and the same time. It is therefore an easy matter to rid yourself of bad thoughts by being quite passive. Simply don't think them. Think something else instead-think about Torah of devotion to G-d, or even about your work, and so on.
A person's thoughts are in his power completely. He can turn them in whatever direction he wants.
You must be very careful about what you think: a thought can literally take on a life of it's own.
...thoughts have great power.
Guard your thoughts carefully can literally create a living thing.
I think that I have become a professional crier. Seems I have become quite good at it and do it an awful lot. Most times I cry because I miss my mother so much, today was 6 months since she passed. I guess that is to be expected and is normal. Lately though I cry over things I no longer have control of. Maybe I never did. It's hard to let go. To let go of dreams, let go of memories, let go of plans, let go of who I was. They say, "Man plans and G-d laughs." Doesn't seem very nice if you ask me, but who I am to question right? Hmmmm...not really sure how to answer that one. Someone told me recently that the Rebbe of Lubavitch said we could make demands of G-d. Demands, eh? Yep, sounds about right to me. Maybe now is the time to pray in a different way. Maybe I need to set forth a few demands and hold Him to some promises I read He made me. Maybe, just maybe, the tears will end and turn to joy.
Hear my prayer, O Lord, listen to my cry; do not be silent to my tears, for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner like all my forefathers. Tehillim 39:13
You have counted my wanderings; place my tears in Your flask-are they not in Your record? Tehillim 56:9
My soul thirsts for G-d, for the living G-d, "When shall I come and appear before G-d?" For me my tears were sustenance day and night, when [they] say to me all day long, "Where is your G-d?" Tehillim 42:3-4
“How very good it is, when you can awaken your heart and plead until tears stream from your eyes, and you stand like a little child crying before its father.”
“Speak to G-d and understand your purpose in life. Think about yourself and beg for God to help you find Him."
"The main time King David secluded himself with God was at night, under his covers in bed. Hidden from the sight of all others, he would pour his heart out before God. This is the meaning of the verse; 'I speak every night on my bed in tears (Tehillim: 6:7).'"
Happy is he who follows this for it is above all else” (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom # 68).
Then by all means check out the new issue of Spin-Off magazine. Along with all the wonderful projects and tips on spinning fiber, this month's issue has a several page layout of information on almost all the wheels on the market. Of course the best way to find a wheel is to try it out but this list is pretty comprehensive, including prices! If you want a personal recommendation I can tell you I love my Ashford Traveller.
Keeping up with the chaggim as a preschool teacher has more than it's fair share of challenges and insights. Today we were back at school with only today, half a day tomorrow and two days next week to prepare for Yom Kippur. I think you would be surprised at all there is for the children to learn about this chag. I decided to start with the story of Yonah. I used the Artscroll children's version of the book of Yonah and read it loosely from the text. I adore reading to children and am particularly fond of voices and dramatizing the story. The children sat through the whole story which is no easy feat for active 3-5 year olds. They asked alot of great questions like, "Why was Yonah upset at Hashem for saving Nineveh?" Neat, huh?
I love this story because much like Yonah I do not get Hashem sometimes. Where is the justice, the vengeance? The people of Nineveh were bad people, really bad, they deserved their come uppance, didn't they? Even now there are bad, truly evil people inhabiting the planet and yet, they continue to breathe. I just don't understand, but I suppose like Yonah, how Hashem deals with them is really none of my business. Heck, I even happen to have a fig tree outside my home and I could sit there and pout about it, but my luck the worm would miss the tree and eat my lavender plants.
See the thing is, if that were the case we surely would not be reading this story at Yom Kippur because this story is not about paybacks or getting what we deserve. It is about teshuva and forgiveness. Tough ones aren't they. It is also about not being able to run away from G-d. Try as you might apparently there is just no getting away from the Creator. It is amazing story of Hope and of Divine Love.
After reading the story of Yonah, I reflected a bit. Although I do not plan on wearing sackcloth and ashes or sticking my dog in sackcloth and making him fast next Thursday, (all the people of Nineveh, young and old and all their livestock wore sackcloth and fasted) I will don white, fast and I will pray and I will mean what I say. I will try to do and try to be better and I will even try to forgive.
Forgiveness is never easy, forgiving others is difficult, (no matter how Big or small they are), but to be sure forgiving myself is by far the hardest.
5769 is here and as I said before I pray that it is a year filled with blessing and good things. I think the hardest thing for me this year was to watch and guard my thoughts. Negativity is such an easy habit to acquire and not such an easy one to lay down. As I observed my thoughts, I was amazed at how they would wander ever so subtlety to the negative side. I purposed in my heart not to allow that and it was no easy task. I attended services at a local Sephardi minyan both days and I really enjoyed being there. It felt very much like being with family and it was a good way to start the year. On top of that I was able to focus my tefillot (prayers) and try to have some kavanah (intention). Truth be told I was shocked when at a seemingly random time I found myself sobbing. Sometimes my own emotions shock me, they really do. I have felt so empty inside that to find tears streaming down my face, particularly during the service, startled me. I chose not to stop myself and allowed my heart to have it's way. I only hope that this is a sign of hope and and my heart will heal.
The first day I was particularly exhausted so fortunately my family and I had a lunch invitation. I was able to relax as far as the meal went and spent some lovely time with good friends and their families. It was particularly fun because two mommies I was doula for were there with their babies so I had a chance to reconnect with them. All of the children were delightfully distracting and their joy comforted me. I was even able to play a bit in spite of my immense over tiredness. Another of the great blessings of being there was having the opportunity to spend time with three dear sisters, two of which are Breslov and the other a dear Chabadnik friend. Seems silly I know to label them like that, but being a struggling talmidah of Rebbe Nachman it was good to have them there and gain a bit of chizuk from them. Mind you, we had no great chasidic debates, just simple conversations and encouraging stories about our respective Rebbes and others. It was good and very gentle. If this is an indication of what my year will be, then I look forward to the peace, comfort, and b'ezrat Hashem healing, that will come.
As many as 40,000 Jews of all stripes, mainly Breslover Hassidim, are already in Uman, in Ukraine, to spend the holiday at the grave site synagogues of their spiritual leader, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, who passed away in Tishrei of 1810. Many say that their "Rosh HaShanah in Uman" is a life-changing experience, or at least provides them the spiritual replenishment they need for the coming year. Some rabbis, however, oppose the idea of leaving the Holy Land to spend holy days in the Diaspora.
This is amazing to me! Every year it grows and grows. It seems to me there must be a very good reason for this. Why would you pack up, leave your family at the beginning of the year and spend time in a not so modern town in cramped quarters to bring in the new year by a grave site? There must be something very special, very beautiful and very inspiring there to make this sacrifice. To be by the Tzaddik is the ikar. Rebbe Nachman teaches us that the Tzaddik sweetens the judgement of Rosh Hashana, therefore you should strive to be with him on this day. I can only imagine the energy that is there and the fervency of prayer that is occurring. It is really quite amazing. I should think this would grant us a shift in the cosmos. I pray it does! L'shana tova to all of you and may you all be inscribed in the book of life for all good things this year!
I am Lover of my Beloved, Imma to my three blessings, a dreamer of dreams and maker of my home. I have homeschooled now for about 13 years and it is our way of life. I am a preschool teacher, doula, childbirth advocate, Jill-of-all-trades, Mistress of none and aspire to someday become the local village Wise Woman.