Monday, November 25, 2013
It seems like it's been gray and raining for three weeks. I'm sure that's not right....I vaguely remember cool sunshine...pretty leaves...but the last few days seems to have cemented my image of gray and rain lasting forever. Three weeks ago, I had some orthopedic surgery, something that I needed but put off because of my bat mitzvah. I've been hobbling around but not in much discomfort. The surgeon told me key to a good recovery was to pace myself and rest. Rest. I almost wanted to ask him how he defined rest...like sitting? like take to your bed? like do nothing?
And so while I'm healing ....I've struggled to rest.
I realized I didn't quite know how to rest. I'm always a vortex of activity....always have long to-do lists....always waking up early and going to bed late. But trying to accomplish to-do lists after surgery and hopping around, made me real tired...and so I made a to-do list for resting. My early list went something like this.....have breakfast, tidy up a bit in the kitchen.....then sit and read for at least an hour..small activity then relax on the couch.....small activity then snuggle under the covers. Only by pretending resting was an activity was I able to rest.
After a week at working on resting, it's easier. I've read three books .....gone through one large shopping bag of old family photos....and went through a stack of papers and organized them for genealogy research. Not taxing....and certainly relaxing.....and an activity which can be done leisurely while in a chair, on a couch or even in a bed. I've asked the men folks in the house to pick up the slack....finish the dishes, get the laundry moved up to the right rooms....and some things I've just had to shrug...and say oh well...it can wait for a couple of weeks.
I've really enjoyed reading again, I've had two different requests from friends to rejoin the book clubs I used to belong to.....but after years of working in a book store....I have hundreds of titles in my bookshelves that I've been waiting to read. So I'm hesitant to be told what to read....and am enjoying the process of trying to find a book in my own collection that fits my mood or the day. I realized now why people don't read as much anymore....it's not that reading isn't enjoyable....but when you are a center of activity it is difficult to sit down quietly for a hour to read....it's difficult to find that hour. The to-do lists and projects always trump the quiet time necessary for reading.
I've also discovered music again....purposeful music. I often have music playing in the background ...but it's more of a drum beat to help my activities go faster. Now I coordinate the music to my rest periods. When I'm looking at old photos....I often stream a favorite Indie radio station from Minneapolis which seems to have the right balance of cool music. Classic musical helps sorting and casual reading......and NPR fills a nice gap when you're under the covers but don't want to sleep.
Sometimes I wonder if everyone has a hard time resting....or is it just me? Does everyone rush around everyday....with long to-do lists and projects? Am I the only one on weekends....redoing the upholstery on my dining room chairs, gardening, cleaning out the attic.....or do some people on their off days actually rest? Do they put on carefully selected music and muse? or read? or doing something small and enjoyable that doesn't take much effort?
I'm sure the doctor would be pleased at my resting and maybe Mother Nature decided to help by making the days cold and gray and rainy so I'm not tempted to wander outdoors and do something active. But I must say...sipping tea and thinking and letting life slide by a bit is quite profound for an activity-addicted person. I wonder as I come off "resting" if I can keep or choose to keep any of the ways I'm now resting. Resting.....it still a bit of a surreal proposition.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Looking through my dad's photo album, I came across this picture of a guy at a wedding my parent's were attending. Don't know who he is but whoa....that is one stylin' leisure suit from the 70's?? I like the knit cuff sleeves and the short jacket with expandable waist....so comfy. Reminded me of the Two Wild and Crazy Guys from SNL....can't you just hear this guy say, " Hello American girl with large breasts. Would you like to see my American-sized apartment?"
Sunday, November 03, 2013
Wow.....what a month.
It's gone by so quickly that I hardly had time to take a deep breath.
First my bat mitzvah. Yes....as the ripe age of...well, lets say beyond 13....I completed my bat mitzvah. Since I shared the ceremony with another woman....it was called a b'not mitzvah....the plural of bat mitzvah.
When my Saturday finally came around, I was ready. I had studied for two years....knew my prayers....knew how to say prayers, knew how to chant my prayers and Torah portion. I was well prepared although I wondered what and how things would come out of my mouth since I didn't know how my anxiety and nervousness would affect my performance.
I woke up early in the morning since I was going to get my hair done. I went downstairs into the empty kitchen and picked up my practice sheet and tried to chant. Nothing came out but a squeak. Somehow overnight, my slight allergy to ragweed went nuclear. I panicked. It was 6am....4.5 hours till I needed to sing and speak and all I could do was squeak. I sat down took and deep breath....and tried to remember all my nursing. Okay....warm tea....a little honey.....orange juice...a warm salt gargle. I did them all. As I dashed out the door, I brought along a thermos full of tea and a spoon with a jar of honey. I shut off the radio in the car and just tried to relax....sipped my tea....take a deep breath. By the time I arrived at the hair salon....I tried talking to myself in the car and my voice had mostly come back. I still kept sipping my tea.
After my hair was done....I drove to the Temple...surprised how calm I was. There was nothing much I could do...the day had arrived...the material had been studied....what will happen will happen. I dressed in the bride's room and was putting on my shoes when my partner blew in. She was a ball of electric....bouncing off all the wall as her clothes flew from one chair to another. I almost had to step out of the room because all the anxiety was starting to seep into me. Fortunately, my daughter came along to ask me a question and I left the dressing room and could gain my composure again.
And then it started....people were in their places...in their seats....and we walked out to begin the service. I read the first prayer in English just fine....but the first time prayer that was in Hebrew that had to be sung was a little warbly. I could feel my voice shake and with an incredibly good sound system...my small vocal quivers sounded magnified to me. But I kept going...and it got easier and I remembered I didn't have to look up at the audience...I could just look down at my prayer book and go on. And I did.....one prayer that had a difficult chant went down smoothly....another prayer with a tricky word...I passed by without problems. Even reading from the Torah....went well. All that rehearsal....all that studying came shining through.
My partner was doing as well as I was....after two years of working together I knew where she stumbled or had problems just as she knew the sections I had problems with. But we sailed through them....and before long....we came to the part were I sang the last blessing and then we could both sit down and relax. The service would be finished by the Rabbi. We both wanted to high five each other but thought that was not a good idea. So we nodded and smiled....realizing we had made it to the finish line.
After it was over, people congratulated us....gave us positive feedback and comments. We had a celebratory lunch, but I don't remember eating much. I was still sort of floating around....thanking people....saying hello. By the time the luncheon ended and we gathered all the decorations (mostly mums)...it was 3pm. Somehow I drove home...tossed my clothes off....and just sank back into my bed. The family roused me in an hour....or so...and then we went out to eat. My partner said to come over for dessert around 9 or 10 pm....but after we ate....I grew so tired...I was so exhausted ...I excused myself and went to bed at 10pm.
The next day I was still limp....I couldn't believed how tense I must have been or nervous....because now I was like rag doll....all wiggly and without a bone that worked in my body.
My daughter stayed for a few days afterwards and that was the only thing that roused me. She had several stores she wanted to look at for ideas and a few things to bring back home...so I had to rally to drive around and make some decisions. After she left....I was really in a daze ...and was bewildered. What do I do with my evenings now? How do I handle the days of the week? After two years of studying and practicing at least every other day....I was startled I didn't have to spend my evenings studying. So I decided to just tidy up and use these last couple of weeks to organize and reorganize. Put things away...get rid of things I don't need from my studies ...and write thank you notes to people who gave gifts or helped with the luncheon. Time has just zipped by.....and now this week I have to prepare for a medical procedure .....and after that....transition to a new segment of my life.
My son asked me the other day, "What your next project?" ...and I told him....I'm still deciding.....it's good sometimes to finish something big...and know you can decide what to move on to next.