Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Storyteller's Dilemma

I used to think I was good at everything. At least, everything I put my mind to and am passionate about. But I'm wondering if my passion for something doesn't necessarily mean I should pursue it. Professionally, especially, personally perhaps.

There's one thing I've always been good at, and that's storytelling. When I was a kid I "published" several "books" through our elementary school's "publishing house." One on ballet, another on my dog. I still have them somewhere. For some reason, I thought I had something to say, so I wrote it down and illustrated it.

My oldest diary starts in 1992, when I was 9 years old. Shockingly, it was a Precious Moments journal. We lived a few minutes from the location of the Precious Moments Chapel in Southern Missouri, so it was natural that I loved the stuff. Since 1992, I filled journal after journal. When I was in high school I did what I'll call "mixed media" journals. I took things I posted on my LiveJournal, things I cut out of magazines, and I put them together into an emotional explosion of my life as a teenager. In 2006, I started Just Call Me Chaviva to catalog my Jewish journey. Oddly enough, I didn't start the blog at the beginning of my journey to Judaism, but rather the moment I lept from the mikvah. That was the beginning of a chapter, if you will. At some point in college, I became the Kvetching Editor, and since then I've successfully branded myself, my vision, my story, in kind.

I tell stories. Mostly I tell stories that ooze out of my own experiences, and that's what I've always been good at. Maybe people like me aren't meant to exist in the real world, but rather in words and pages and compositions.

Of course, the question is, how do you monetize yourself?

Or, better yet, do you even want to monetize yourself? In a perfect world, I'd have millions of dollars in my pocket and I'd just write. And write. And write. Until my fingers curled from overuse.

I guess I'm not sure what I'm doing right now. Emotionally, I'm invested in finding a spouse and making cute little mini mes. Professionally, I guess I feel confused. I'm trying to figure out whether my personal passions translate into professional success. And if they don't, then where that leaves me.

I wish I could fall in line. Life would be easier that way. I don't know how I ended up this way, but for some reason all I have in me is letters and words and sentences and paragraphs and narratives.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Here's to You, Rabbi Goren

Here we go again!

In case you ever wondered where this whole "let's revoke conversions" thing came from, the story is simple, and it involves the Langer Siblings.

Once upon a time, a non-Jewish Polish man named Borokovsky married a 16-year-old Jewish girl. Her parents pushed the man to convert, and so he did. After several years, the Jewish girl left the Polish man, but she never sought a get. Then, she remarried a Jewish man and they had two children. When those two children born of the second marriage were of marrying age, they filed for marriage licenses, only to be turned down on the grounds that they were mamzerim (bastard children, basically) because this nice Jewish girl didn't bother to get a get.

The case became incredibly popular, pulling in words from Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir.

Oh hello Rabbi Goren. 
What ended up happening is the genius Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren decided that in order for these two poor children to get married, the only thing to do would be to annul the Polish man's conversion so that her marriage to him was not kosher and that her second marriage was kosher and the children would not fall into the mamzer category.

This rabbi looked and said, well, you know, we really don't know the legitimacy of the Polish man's conversion, nor do we really know that he's living a Jewish life, so, yeah, let's revoke his conversion years after the fact.

The Langer Siblings got married and lived happily ever after.

Conversion, as a result, has suffered the ridiculous and impossible fate of "revoked" conversions after the fact -- all because this one woman decided not to get a get like a normal human being.

It's also worth noting that this Rabbi Goren converted hundreds of people with certificates that said "Only Valid in Israel." Rabbi Goren believed that any conversion done in the State of Israel was sincere, no matter whether the person converting was agreeing to hold to the mitzvoth or not, because (his logic was) who would live in Israel in a Jewish state surrounded by Jews and not be sincere?! The problem was that people who left the State of Israel and went elsewhere were denied the basic rights of a Jew (one case involved a woman whose children couldn't be entered into a school in England because her conversion through Goren was only legit within the State of Israel).

Overall, Rabbi Goren -- for all of his merit that I'm sure exists -- did some horrible, horrible things for conversion and is the reason that cases like this even have to happen nowadays.

For more fun on the colorful history of conversion, I seriously recommend picking up Pledges of Jewish Allegiance. It's eye-opening, depressing, but a least lets the modern convert know who is responsible for the jack-upedness of today's bureaucratic, impersonal conversion system!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Shavuot Note and Roundup

Well, Shavuot is upon us and with the three-day chag, I couldn't be more excited. It's a chance to swing into Shabbat and recommit to your Jewish self and the Jewish people over Shavuot. All while consuming dairy. Yes, I've been rocking a largely vegan lifestyle at home, but after my quick trip to Boston (details forthcoming) to participate in an exciting conversation about Birthright NEXT with the Schusterman Foundation, I have to say my diet hasn't been so stellar. Dairy has been partaken of, so I'm going to continue the trend.

I'm spending the next three-four days up in Vail, Colorado, with Minyan Na'aleh for a Shavuaton experience, and I'm super stoked. As I sourced before, you know I'm going to be teaching about Rachav (Rahab), the Rabbis' Convert. As such, and if you want some Shavuot reading, feel free to download and read my take on this prized convert.

If you're in the mood for some Huffington Post, check out this piece I wrote last night that got posted today: On Shavuot, Recommitting to the Convert. If you're a reader of Makor Rishon, a right-wing Israeli newspaper, check out their section on Shavuot -- you'll find a story with me in it. (If I can find a link/translation, I'll post it.)

And, if you're interested, there's an article by Haaretz that highlights not only my story, but also that of the illustrious Leah Jones. Unfortunately the link is dead, but hopefully it will end up online here.

With that, friends, I hope that you find honey and milk under your tongue (Exodus 4:11) this Shavuot. Learn, live, breathe, and embrace all that HaShem has given you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ask Chaviva Anything!: The Sartorial Stuff

More questions ...
Two sartorial questions: (1) Aside for uncovering your hair, have you changed anything about the way you dress since you got divorced? (2) What do you wear when you exercise? Sorry if this one seems tactless or tone-deaf, but I'm fascinated by the way people who uphold sundry modesty standards deal with dressing for the gym and I remember you had some posts about athletic wear on the old blog.
My dress hasn't really changed since I got divorced. So that's an easy answer. Wait, I take that back. Since I don't live in Teaneck anymore, I'm a lot more chill about my attire. I take a lot more time to feel good about what I'm wearing and to be very relaxed (yet professional) in my clothing choices. Dressing is a lot more fun now, I think.

As for what I wear to work out? Well, I'll probably get a lot of flack for this, but when I work out I wear workout pants and a baggy short-sleeve shirt. When I lived in Teaneck, I wouldn't have dreamed of doing this but as I take my health more seriously, I have to be realistic about working out and being comfortable while doing it. The thing I've realized is that, at the gym, people are too busy focusing on themselves to pay attention to me. If anything, I think the girl who shows up in a full hijab to work out stands out more than I do. So, from a tznius perspective, I'm doing myself a service by not standing out with long sleeves, a skirt with pants under it, etc.

FYI: Find all the goodies from The Tzniut Project here!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ask Chaviva Anything!: Mamaloshen

Another one from the ole' question box for Ask Chaviva Anything!
Do you think a person can be part of the Orthodox community without being fluent in Yiddish and/or Hebrew?
I think it's completely possible to be part of the Orthodox community without a fluency in Yiddish. Now, it's different if you're in the Chassidish world, in which Yiddish is standard and kids grow up learning it. I can't imagine not knowing the language my children speak!

As for Hebrew, I think it's more difficult. Sure, there are people who survive in the Orthodox world without a fluency in Hebrew, but my question is this: Why would you want to? Hebrew can be an intimidating language, especially when you consider the differences between the Hebrew of prayer and spoken, Modern Hebrew. But as someone who went through the process of learning both, I can tell you that having that knowledge is incredibly empowering and makes me feel so much closer to HaShem when I daven.

It doesn't have to be an overnight success, but I think that a commitment to learning and understanding Hebrew should be a part of any Jew's plan, period.

Then again, I'm a big evangelist for the Hebrew language. What do you think, dear readers?

(Note: Mamaloshen is Yiddish for "mother tongue.")

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ask Chaviva Anything!: Seminary?

This question (from Ask Chaviva Anything!) just came in, and I thought, well, why not answer it right now before I haul myself through the "go-to-bed" routine.
Have you ever thought about studying in seminary? What is your perception of converts who decides [sic] to do that? 
The answer: Of course! Who hasn't dreamed of sitting around learning all day, especially this girl, right? I have an MA in Judaic Studies, but I know the kind of learning that goes on in a seminary is more on the religious end of things, but I think my extensive learning and study of rabbinic literature, the Tanakh, and historic texts, would give me a unique upper-hand in the seminary environment.

A very awesome and well-known rabbi is trying to talk me into going in the fall (this has been a consideration in process since November, mind you), and who knows. My life is an open book at this point, and after spending five weeks in Israel this summer I might just be sold on it.

As for my perception of converts who study in seminary or opt for yeshiva learning, I think it's great. It's just one more way to let a neshama grow in its natural habitat.

What about you questioner and others -- what do you think about seminary education? Yay? Nay?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ask Chaviva Anything!: Wait, What Happened?

The tune: "Breaking up is hard to do ... "

Okay, holy wow! I didn't expect so many people to go "Wait, what happened with you and Taylor!?" followed by questions of "Would you date a non-Jew again?" I was trying my best to avoid talking about it, mostly out of respect for Taylor but also because I didn't want to hear "I told you sos" from the camp of "She's just acting out post-divorce," but since it wasn't a bad or mean breakup, I'm pretty sure he'll be kosher with me posting about it.

I left my relationship with Taylor roughly a month ago. The reason? There were many. There was an evening I found myself frustrated with him and called him by my ex-husband's name -- twice. I started to realize that I did what I always do -- I jumped into a new relationship shortly after relocating without focusing on myself, the things I need, my own spirit and growth. Although Taylor wanted to go on that journey with me, it was something I needed to do alone, because in the past I never was able to do it alone. On that note, it's amazing that in the past month I feel like I've grown and altered my perspective on life in so very many ways. Taylor really helped me to see so much in myself that was positive and worth banking on, and for that, I'm eternally in his debt. To that end, Taylor treated me better than any man I've ever dated, with a patience and calm in arguments and with emotions the likes of which I have never experienced, and may never will again. But if there's one thing I got out of our relationship, it's that I deserve the best, the kindest, the most patient, and the most loving man out there. Period.

We haven't spoken in the past month, and probably won't until I return from Israel (a three-month separation to calm the pain of a breakup that was literally "it's not you, it's me"), and I hope that he'll continue to play a part in my life. We're both foodies, love coffee, we both love rodents, we're vegetarians (although I'm going vegan), museums, you name it. We have so much in common.

Did Judaism come into play? Believe it or not, no. Sure, it was strange not being able to schlep my boyfriend along to Shabbat dinners because he was working or doing movie stuff, but we kept our own lives, our own habits, and just came together for us. He was inquisitive and we talked about existentialism, Judaism, atheism, and agnosticism. We discovered that many of his views aren't so different from many of the values and ethics of a Jewish lifestyle. But he had no intention of converting, and I wasn't about to make him. He learned the ins and outs of my kitchen, and I gave him my cRc Kosher Card with all of the hechshers on it so if he ever brought anything into the house, it was properly labeled. He did so much to make me comfortable. I really can't express to you how simple of a relationship it was. Five months flew by like nothing.

Would I do it again? Well, here's the thing: I've always been one to fall for a person, not their creed or color or shape of their face. Would it happen again? Who knows. Would I do it again? Who knows. Of course, it's easier to seek out a Jewish mate for one million reasons. It's funny that it took me dating a non-Jew to really understand what I deserve in a mate. Am I going to seek out a non-Jew? No, of course not. I've never sought out the non-Jewish mate, sometimes life just happens.

So, in a nutshell, that's that. And if you're missing the old blog, the archives, then just look up at the top of the page and bam! There they are! Also, if you have questions, ask away right here.

Ho-Hum, Hum-Drum

It's weird how I feel like my life is a lot less interesting and mundane being single in Colorado. You'd think I'd have all sorts of interesting and wacky stories about the community or the people I meet or what it's like to be a traveled-everywhere Jewish girl in a state with 83,000 Jews -- most of which are secular.

But for some reason, and maybe this is a good thing, the ho-hum, hum-drum that is my life right now feels good. At times, it's uncomfortable because I feel like something should be happening, that I'm still in a state of flux. Instead, I feel calm, rested, excited.

So I figured now would be a good time to open it up to questions. All you have to do is click here, and ask away. I'll try to be super prompt on answering questions this time around, too.

Until then, I'll be watching my tomato plants grow out on the balcony, with the silhouette of the mountains not far behind.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 8: Learning to Love Myself

Okay, I've lazied out on my attempt at blogging from this list every day, but not without good reason. You see, this week has been insanely busy at work, which means that I've decided to skip a few days to Day 8's task, because, well, it was the next in the list that seemed to resonate the most with me.
Start being more polite to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will.
I had to be taught, at the age of 28, to say "thank you." If you think I'm joking, I'll put you in touch with the therapist who forced me to figure out how to say it without deflecting, explaining away, or just ignoring whatever kind words were sent my way.

I grew up a fat kid with eczema and glasses. It was suggested at the of 13 or so that I could be the first fat Miss America. I had the butterball turkey song offered up to me at the pool. Etc. Etc. Etc. Yes, we all go through growing pains, but most people get some shot at kindness and a "normal" body. Not this girl! Nope, from day one I was a chubster and up until now, I've maintained that "fiercely real" body that Tyra Banks talks about. Except that my skin isn't as taut and shiny and perfect in those trouble spots like thighs and tummy and tushie. I'm more "real" than even Tyra's girls.

I struggle daily with being okay with how I look, and it's become apparent to me that the way I see myself and the way others see me are two very different things. Most are shocked by my weight, my BMI that categorizes me as "morbidly obese."

"No way! You can't be that weight!" they say.

I am. The truth is, as many have said, I wear my weight "well." My goal for many years has been to be healthy, not thin. My current adventures in eating, body products, exercising, and such are geared toward the former, not the latter. The truth is I'll never be thin. And I'm hoping that someday soon I'll be able to be okay with that.

They say you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you, but I'm starting to believe that isn't true. Loving yourself, seeing the positives, and being polite to oneself are life-long struggles and journeys. Having someone else stand by you and help you see the beauty that you might miss in the day-to-day.

So here I am, learning to be polite to myself. My first compliment? Good lord Chaviva, you sure know how to rock headband!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Because the Internet Doesn't Know from Adam ...

I just got this in my inbox, and, seriously, too funny for words.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Days Four and Five: Being Happy, as Me

I missed the chance yesterday (and practically today, Saturday) to do days four and five of my month of self-re-discovery, so here they are, two of them now! If you're curious what this is all about, it derives from this post.
Start making your own happiness a priority. – Your needs matter. If you don’t value yourself, look out for yourself, and stick up for yourself, you’re sabotaging yourself. Remember, it IS possible to take care of your own needs while simultaneously caring for those around you. And once your needs are met, you will likely be far more capable of helping those who need you most.
I spent most of Shabbos finishing up Rachel Dratch's "Girl Walks Into a Bar" -- blog post forthcoming -- and starting and finishing a book called "Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind -- and Keep -- Love." Written by a few stellar academically minded yidden, the book's subject matter is ...
We rely on science to tell us everything from what to eat to when and how long to exercise, but what about relationships? Is there a scientific explanation for why some people seem to navigate relationships effortlessly, while others struggle? According to psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, the answer is a resounding "yes." In Attached, Levine and Heller reveal how an understanding of adult attachment-the most advanced relationship science in existence today-can help us find and sustain love. Pioneered by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s, the field of attachment posits that each of us behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways: anxious, avoidant, secure. 
So, what did I get out of this book? (Note: I don't usually read self-help books because I don't buy a lot of it. But this book? Holy moses.) My attachment style is anxious. It not only describes me in romantic relationships, but I seem to have realized that it is my style in just about every relationship I have. A fear of loss, a fear of not being loved, and of rejection ... among other things. Hello me! And as for where the marriage went wrong, well, I think that my former spouse was of the "avoidant" style. And avoidant-anxious doesn't match. I'm out to find myself a secure fella.

So what does that have to do with the Day 4's topic of making my own happiness a priority? A lot. At least, I think so. Being successful in a relationship has a lot to do with taking ownership for your own emotions and know how you react, what makes you happy, what makes you sad. When I was married, I learned in a very abrupt way what I need, what I want, and what happiness looks like to me. But what I didn't learn is that it's okay for me to be me, to need certain things. In line with putting my own happiness first, I'm reevaluating what I need and want out of a potential spouse. And for some reason, being able to do that just makes me burst with happiness.
Start being yourself, genuinely and proudly. – Trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are. Be yourself. Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else. Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms. Above all, be true to YOU, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.
This sort of goes back to what I've been experiencing as I figure out how to be more comfortable in the skin that was once my own. I am absolutely ridiculous. I'm strong-willed, highly opinionated, and I can be overwhelming on first contact. I'm passionate about being an observant Jewish woman, and I'm passionate about the food I cook and what I put into my body. I get really into television shows, I dream of being a 1950s housewife (but liberated, you know), I love Kurt Vonnegut and Philip Roth. I have weird obsessions with the organization of my kitchen and my spices, and I put my clothes in order in my closet by color. I have insane allergies and tend to have little patience for the heat and sweating, unless I'm working out. I have very little will power, I eat a pint of gelato in one sitting more often than I care to admit. Oh, and I speak to myself in Hebrew just about every second that I am alone. I'd love to move to Israel, but, let's be honest, I'm a child of seasons, and I need winter. I have a large collection of Judaica books and I'm obsessed with getting more (when I can afford it). I'm horrible with finances, I love my little brother more than anyone else on the planet, and I'd do anything for him. I love penguins and meekats, and I'm obsessed with zoos and drive-in movie theaters. I have a thing for classic cars, and I hate pampering myself (I've never had a manicure or pedicure).

That's me, myself, and I. I don't think I've ever had a problem being myself, except for those 16 months of marriage strangeness. Now that I know my attachment type, I can definitely see why I was who I was during those months.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Day Three: Let's Get Honest

It's a new month, and if you recall from this post, I promised to focus on a different thing every day that will help me refocus on myself. So I give you ...
Start being honest with yourself about everything. – Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed. Be honest about what you want to achieve and who you want to become. Be honest with every aspect of your life, always. Because you are the one person you can forever count on. Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are. Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there. 
Honestly? Done and done. I'm finding that I'm more introspective than I ever thought, and there's something about the people I'm surrounding myself with and the Colorado air and life that is making revelations and realizations come out of the woodwork.

Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are.
Ultimately, that's what this is all about. Figuring out who I am, who I truly am. Getting back to that person whose skin I once was comfortable in, but having grown with the knowledge of what I need and want out of a spouse, out of life, out of relationships. 

And, of course, it's these things that will show me where I want to go. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Votes Are In!

Well, there's a clear winner in the Shavout teaching/learning query, and that winner is Rachav. Coming in at a close second is Qohelet, followed by Ima Shalom and then Tobit (Comedy Absurdum).

Really, no one is curious about Tobit and/or Tobit and Herman the Jew? Yes, I know Tobit isn't a canonical book for us Jews, but good lord is it a Jewish book. If you haven't read it lately, sit down and take a gander. Or email me and I'll send you a copy of either of the papers.

Thanks for voting, friends!

Day Two: Hello, Problems

It's a new month, and if you recall from this post, I promised to focus on a different thing every day that will help me refocus on myself. So I give you ...
Start facing your problems head on. – It isn’t your problems that define you, but how you react to them and recover from them. Problems will not disappear unless you take action. Do what you can, when you can, and acknowledge what you’ve done. It’s all about taking baby steps in the right direction, inch by inch. These inches count, they add up to yards and miles in the long run.
UGH. Seriously? Day Two and I have to take all of my problems head on. My problems, as you well know, are vast and ridiculous and I'm really good at shoving my problems into tiny little holes and forgetting about them. Despite being one who often preaches that the only thing we can control is how we react to problems, I rarely practice what I preach.

Wait, I take that back.

When it comes to life's small problems, this is precisely what I do. When it comes to divorce, family excision, financial problems, and the like, I react poorly. Despair has become second nature for me. It's the easiest way to react to any situation. Pain and hurt and hate are always easier than healing and learning to love again.

I'm working hard right now not to push the pain of the past year and a half of my life. It's what I know, it's what easy, but it's also stopped working. For years, it worked. And then something broke and it stopped working. So acknowledging what I have done is all that I can do now. Baby steps!

I'm just eager to make those steps turn into miles. Because once there are miles, I'll be ready for all that life has to offer.

Also, I have to add an anecdote I recently read about worries. There's a classic Yiddish blessing that says:
May you have many worries.
At first glance, it seems like a horrible blessing. Why would you tell someone to have many worries!? It's counterintuitive. However, when you think about it, many worries are better than one gigantic worry.

I'll take that. I just have to let those many problems and worries stop defining me.

Shavuot: Help me Decide!

I'm super stoked that I'm most likely going to be teaching as a part of Tikkun Leil Shavuot -- Rectification for Shavuot Night -- the custom of engaging in all-night Torah study over Shavuot, this year during the Denver Na'aleh Minyan's Shavuaton up in Vail, Colorado. Yes, it will be three days of awesome learning, shmoozing, and enjoying the great outdoors.

When I was in West Hartford, I got to teach on my most-favorite topic: "Rachav the Harlot: The Rabbis' Convert." I haven't taught any other years, but I'm stoked and debating what to teach on this year. I have many specialties, but I thought I'd crowdsource the final topic.

So vote!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

To Prep You for the Parshah ...

This week's parshah is Acharei-Kedoshim, which is chock full of mitzvoth. When it comes to the commandments, there are huge discussions to be had about the laws from the Torah versus mitzvoth from the Rabbis, as well as the "fences" that the ultra-Orthodox build around the basic halachot (laws).

This story is my favorite example of the mitzvoth in Judaism:
As a seminary student in Israel, my wife and her friends had to cook their own meals. One evening, as my wife was about to broil a chicken, a roommate stopped her, horrified at what was happening. "Don't you know that you can't cook a chicken whole, that you must remove the legs first?" her friend exclaimed. 
My wife had never heard of such a thing, and neither had the few rabbis they spoke with about it the next day. So the roommate asked her mother why she cooked chicken that way. Her mother said that she had copied her own mother who was fastidious in the observance of kashrut laws. So they asked the grandmother: "Why did you always cut the legs off the chicken?" 
"Simple," she explained, "There wasn't enough room in the pan!"
Then again, when it comes to fences, as Vayikra 18:30 says, "guard my guardings" (וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת מִשְׁמַרְתִּי) ... which suggests, perhaps, HaShem wanted us to put up some fences. The question is: How many? How big are those fences?

Also: Every time I go to someone's house for the first time and observe their own minhagim (tradition) quirks, I wonder and ask where they came from. Often times, people don't know. It makes me wonder how easy it would be for me to simply create a tradition, to build a fence around a mitzvah and make it standard. Oh the options!

Day One: Good Times, Good People

It's a new month, and if you recall from this post, I promised to focus on a different thing every day that will help me refocus on myself. So I give you ...
Day One: Start spending time with the right people.
These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways. They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally.
The funny thing about this particular item is that my therapist has tasked me with integrating myself into a community, with good people, healthy people. Over the past week, I hit up some YAD events, spent Shabbat with friends and spent Sunday up in Boulder getting to know new and awesome Jews. I think I'm off to a good start. 

The bummer is that so many of the people who love and appreciate me are in far-away lands like New York, New Jersey, Canada, Israel ... and I have them only in my online world. Despite how strong the connections and emotions are, it's not the same as in-person interactions. 

So what can I do to start spending time with the right people? Well, I think that canceling my internet and cable will go a long way in forcing me to be more social. Either that or it will drive me to become quite the hermit. But then I think: Doctor's orders!

I'm trying to spend regular time at the gym, but lately it's only been about three days a week, which is my commitment on GymPact. This past week I flaked and ended up suffering my $15 pact fee. I've never been good at talking to people at the gym, but every time I see someone wearing a remotely Jewish shirt I think "I should talk to that person." Not that I only want to make Jewish friends, but you know, it's the easiest connection for me. 

And, of course, I want to spend more time in Boulder. I feel like the people there, even if they don't know me well, love and appreciate me. 

So Day One: Start spending time with the right people. It's more challenging than you think. I might seem like an extrovert, but shockingly I spend a lot of time with me, myself, and I. 

Do YOU spend time with the right people? If you've also struggled, how have you made it happen?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Get Googly Eyed and Help a Friend!

I had a request emailed to me, and I thought, of course I'll help! I love anything with googly eyes!

A friend (of a friend) has a 9-year-old daughter who is participating in the Yaldah Magazine Jewish Life Photo Contest, and voting ends at midnight tonight! This 9-year-old entered her photo -- Funny Hamantaschens, and she needs your vote.

So take two seconds, and help a little yidden out by clicking here and choosing No. 22 by Flora Ginsburg!