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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

It is Passover right now. Passover is a Jewish holiday with many food restrictions. Mostly no unleavened food, aka no bread.

What there is, is a lot of cooking. Especially a lot of cooking with potatoes. Lots and lots of potatoes to peel and some carrots as well. But mostly potatoes.

Did I mention lots and lots of potatoes? Here in Israel Passover is a 7 day holiday. Did I mention it was a 7 day holiday with lots of potatoes?

After Passover, we pack away our Passover dishes until we need them again next year. Usually I am quite organized with typed up lists for the following year. I write down things needing replacing, things to buy and where I put everything.

Last year I was not my OCD self and did not type up the list. So it wasn’t until after I suffered through peeling about 20 pounds of potatoes that I realized that I had written down that I need to buy a new good peeler.

Gosh I wish I would have seen that before the holiday. All I know is that I am having 18 people for the Sabbath and that is a heck of a lot of potatoes to peel. It was not fun peeling them with the lousy peeler that didn’t want to peel. Actually it was a bit frustrating.

The Lousy Peelers

One thing is for certain, there will be a big note with my lists for next year. There is no way I am not going to have a good peeler for next year’s potato fest!

Any peeler recommendations anybody?

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That is a quote that has always resonated with me. I don’t know who said it but I think it is one of the all time best quotes. It is simple but has so much wisdom to it.

"... a happy journey" for the Chinese president
(Photo courtesy of FutureAtlas.com )

Yet like many things in this life, even if you believe that something is true, it does not always mean that it is easy to internalize, achieve and live it. Happiness in your day to day life, in my opinion, is one of the most elusive things in this world.

There are many people who would say they are happy people or that they are happy with their lives, but I think (actually I know) that I can count on one hand the amount of people whom I have met who are happy everyday no matter what life brings them. What I mean is that they have a happy outlook on life and their joy of life radiates from them. I am not saying that these people don’t ever cry or even feel moments of despair when they are faced with something difficult. All I am saying is that their general day to day outlook is one of finding joy in every day and in all that life sends their way. These are the people I admire and the type of life I wish to aspire to.

I believe that the biggest barrier we have to happiness is the belief that we will be happy when….. We will be happy when we are thin. We will be happy when we are rich. We will be happy when we are successful. We will be happy when this stressful period of time at work is over. The list goes on and on and is different for everyone else.

I am not saying that things might not be easier for someone financially strapped if they came into a load of money, or that someone may not feel more confident and happy with themselves after they lose fifty pounds. I am not saying that changing jobs to something less stressful that gives you more satisfaction won’t make it easier to be happy.

That is true. All that I am saying is, why waste all that time waiting for something to be better in order for you to be happy? Find the happiness in the journey itself. Find the happiness in the little things.

A simple example is all the preparations for holidays. For me it is the Jewish holidays, for others it can be their religious holidays or secular holidays. There are some holidays that can be a logistic nightmare, not to mention time consuming and tiring. Tonight the Jewish holiday of Purim started. For this holiday we need costumes for the kids, we need to prepare food parcels to give out, we get together with family or friends for a festive meal and we go in the evening and in the morning to Synagogue to read the Scroll of Esther. The preparations for it require thought, time and money and for me personally, the costumes drive me nuts. Not so much for the little kids, but as the kids gets older they get pickier and pickier and harder to please.

There have been years that I have been so consumed with the preparations that I neglected what was important and that was getting the kids involved and excited. Sure, it is a lot faster to do things yourself. It is also difficult not to lose it when you are trying to help your kids with costumes and they are hard to please. But if you don’t relax a bit, let things slide and get your kids involved, you lose part of the opportunity to bond with your children and share the meaning and the joy of the holiday with them. After all these years, I still sometimes find myself trying to get it all over with and waiting for the holiday to pass. What a waste of time and what a missed opportunity to find joy and give my kids joy.

I am also not saying that we need to live the status quo or that we can’t have dreams, goals and aspirations. I just think that we sometimes get so caught up in trying to make our dreams, goals and aspirations a reality that we forget to see the joy and the learning in the journey. Sometimes we want something so bad that we forget to take pleasure in the process and in what we already have.

I am in many ways an impatient person. My friends who know me well are probably laughing and saying something like “that is an understatement”! If I think of something or I have an idea, I need to get it done and into action as soon as possible. If I leave things too long, I lose the drive to do it. That may be part of my attention deficit disorder, or it may just be my personality. The cause doesn’t really matter, and I have embraced this as a trait of mine, for good and for bad.

I started blogging because I have a lot of thoughts that I want to share with the world and I am hoping what I say can make a difference in people’s lives. In the two plus weeks I have been blogging, I have gotten a lot of good feedback and some neutral feedback. So far none negative, but I am sure that along the way I may get that as well. It has been tremendously satisfying committing to myself to write everyday. I have also for the most part been happy with the writing and the content.

In the past few days I found myself starting to think, okay, where do I take this from here? I don’t know if it was Heather’s post on her blog Notes from Lapland that got me thinking or whether it is just the way I am. It would seem that I am constantly yearning for more. Again, there is nothing wrong with goals and ambitions. What I think is wrong is my feeling of unrest instead of my feeling of joy and happiness. I am proud of the blog and the fact that I have been writing. So why is it that when I start to think what is next and where can I go from here, that I start feeling unrest and I seem to have lost a bit of my joy in what I am doing.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that today I came across a small inspirational book that was tucked away in the closet and that I found the quote about happiness being a means of travel not a destination. I think it was God’s way of grounding me and reminding me to take pleasure in life and in each step as it comes. I am going to do my best to live like that without giving up my dreams or aspirations.

2-people-beach-shadows-003
(Photo courtesy of Mike Baird )

I think that this world would be an amazing and happy place if we all committed to finding joy in the moment and remembering that what is important is the journey not the destination. We tend to get caught up in events in our lives and lose sight of the things that make us happy. I think that we all need to look at our lives and take the steps to make sure that we travel the journey of life by the means of happiness and not wait for happiness at the end of the road.

Nobody wants to get to the end of the road and find that all along they could have had what they spent a lifetime searching for.

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Thank you. Two small words that can make a tremendous difference in a person’s day. I will even go so far as to say that sometimes those two words can make a difference not just in a person’s day but in their life.

We all know the importance of saying thank you to people and we all know how it feels to be thanked and appreciated. Yet sometimes people we should acknowledge and thank are overlooked. They are even taken for granted if you will.

I know at my place of work in the ER there are quite a few overlooked people. The cleaners (am using the literal translation from Hebrew instead of the word janitor) are among them. For the most part they have a really thankless job.

When I am working and a cleaning person comes to change the garbage bag by my station, I make sure to stop and thank them, acknowledge their presence. Just today I saw an example of how much of an impression a simple few words on my part can make.

I started my shift late. As I walked into the ER one of the aforementioned cleaners stopped me and said hello and asked me how I was today. He is a young guy, probably about 20 years younger than me if I had to guess. I can’t believe I just said that out loud or admitted it….I shouldn’t be old enough to say anyone is 20 years younger than me. When did that happen?

Anyways, back from the tangent. I am Jewish, he is Arab. In his job, he is mostly ignored by everyone else. Obviously the fact that I have made an effort to acknowledge him and his work has stuck with him. His simple greeting meant a lot to me. It also lifted my mood dramatically.

Three days from now on Sunday is the Jewish holiday of Purim. It’s a holiday when we dress up in costumes and we give food baskets to friends and needy people. Many times we also send something to teachers or others.

Last year at my little one’s daycare, I made a modest little food package for each of the caregivers. Many of the other parents did as well. I decided to also make one for the cook because I thought she deserved a thank you as well. The cook was a loving grandmother type who doted on the kids.

When my little one handed her the package she was so touched. Later on, the manager of the nursery told me that none of the other parents had given the cook anything and it had deeply touched her that we remembered her and thought to give her something.

A few weeks back when I had taken my daughter to her nursery, I met up with the guard. Here in Israel at all the schools and nurseries there is a little guard’s booth with a guard. Normally the guard is by his booth at top of the steps while the two nurseries are about ten or so steps down.

This particular morning he was walking out of my little one’s nursery and I was amazed when he said good morning to my daughter and called her by her name. I was really impressed because firstly, I didn’t realize he interacted with the kids but mostly because between the two nurseries he guards there are about 70 children. He actually cared enough about the kids to learn their names.

That incident stuck with me. When I started planning my holiday food baskets I right away said that I want to make one for this guard. He deserves to be acknowledged and thanked. When I mentioned to my three year old that we are going to make a package for Alex she said in a very loud voice “I like Alex! And he likes me!” It was so sweet.

So I put together something small and modest. It is more about the thought then the package. I wrote a card about how I admire his devotion and how nice it is that he loves the kids. And I thanked him.

I attached the card to the package and in the morning I plan on adding a big homemade chocolate chip cookie with his name in chocolate on it. My little daughter is excited about bringing it to him.

I am not going to be there to witness the joy on my daughter’s face when she brings something unexpected to someone she “likes and who likes her”. My husband will have that honor. One thing I do know is that I don’t have to be there or witness it to know how touched the guard will be by a simple thank you.

So next time anyone is feeling down and wants a way to brighten their own day, find a way to thank an overlooked person in your life. It can be a note of thank you, a kind word or a little gift. You decide. Just remember by thanking others we bring joy and gratitude into our own lives.

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P.S.

March 1st 2010-Just wanted to add this sweet picture of my little one handing the parcel to the guard.

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Warning: if you don’t believe that things in life have a purpose or a reason, you may not want to continue reading this.

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Okay, now that my disclaimer is out of the way and only the believers are left I can continue. When I say believers I am referring to those of us who believe that life is not just a random jumble but that life has an order, a sense and a purpose to it.

Of course there are those of us, myself included, who believe in God and are not ashamed to admit it. Okay, I will come right out and say that I am proud to believe in God and higher powers.

I was just reading a blog post yesterday over at Sleep is for the Weak about people being hesitant to talk about religion on blogs, but I think it is fine. Everyone just has to learn to respect each others opinions. Or maybe I am just a new blogger, so I don’t know what I have stepped into yet. Am hoping that my naiveness and belief in people’s goodness will serve me okay.

So anyways, back to coincidences.

I personally don’t believe there is such a thing. It’s always been my motto. I think my friends and family are probably sick of me saying, there is no such thing as a coincidence. Oh well-that’s their problem I guess.

I think you might not always see a connection between things occurring in your life, but many times somewhere along the road, you might have that epiphany as to why something happened. Maybe some horrible event left you stranded somewhere and it was there you met your soul mate. Maybe it was a stranger’s smile that gave you a boost of self confidence on your way to a job interview. Or maybe some random fortune cookie got you thinking and prompted an action by you. There are even sites like this one that has lists of interesting coincidences.

fortune
(Photo courtesy of Robert S. Donovan )

It can be a random comment or it can be something as stressful as a disease that changes your whole perspective on life. About six years ago I was hospitalized with mild hemiparesis. The doctors had no idea what the problem was. Those 10 days were some of the worst in my life. They were racked with fear and worry. (They were also filled with reading 7 books, staying in pj’s all day, not cooking or cleaning and getting served 3 meals a day, but really I was worried.)

It was only a few years later that I realized that my illness or “dis-ease” was the best thing that could have happened to me. (And before someone comments, my kids and husband are also the best things that happened to me, but a different category of best thing).

That hospitalization led me to alternative medicine professionals and others who changed my whole view on life. It has been a process of quite a few years, but it sure as heck was the disease that was the catalyst. Again, no coincidence.

I am the kind of person who is spontaneous and maybe sometimes a bit too naive. Most of the time, when it comes to people and emotions, I am a good judge of character. Even more so if it is someone I don’t know at all, or not very well.

So it is not a surprise to me when I suddenly hear or read something from someone and feel that the person was led into my life at the moment for a reason. Sometimes it is the message in their words-written or verbal. Sometimes I am meant to connect with the person and open up to them-both for myself and for them.

I have been chatting on the internet for about 3 years now and have made quite a nice group of online virtual friends. Some of these friends I have spoken to, one I have actually met, and quite a few I correspond with by email or *horror* snail mail. I got to the forum I chat on by accident. I was looking on the site for something else and happened across the forum. Again a “coincidence”. Uh uh! I don’t think so.

I Thank God For You
(Photo courtesy of vistamommy )

It was on this forum that I stumbled onto that I have been helped and helped others. I have made friends. I have come to understand cultures and religions other than my own. Others have come to understand things about my culture and religion.

It was also through some of these friends that I was exposed to the world of blogging. The blogging that has become a source of great satisfaction for me. I have also in just a few weeks in blogland, made quite a few more like minded virtual friends who I really enjoy corresponding with.

Even just yesterday, I happened across a blog I have never read before. With blog reading it is kind of like a blog to blog treasure hunt. You start with one blog you like, click on that blogger’s favorite blogs and then on and on. Focus Susie! You are digressing!

Okay back to the story about this blog. The blog’s author is a single mum named Nicola. The post was one that intuitively sparked something in me and I asked her to contact me by email which she did. Being total strangers, LOL, we of course hit it off right away. The emails that followed were for both of us the exact hit over the head we both needed at this moment. We both have many common views and we both believe that this connection is not a coincidence.

There is a beautiful poem by an anonymous author that goes like this:

A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or
a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you
will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON . . . It is
usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have
come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you
with guidance and support, to aid you physically,
emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a
godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason
you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an
inconvenient time, this person will say or do something
to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die.
Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.

What we must realise is that our need has been met, our
desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you
sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON . . .
Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount
of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things
you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional
foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the
person, and put what you have learned to use in all
other relationships and areas of your life. It is said
that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

I believe that even the season and lifetime relationships are for a reason. Every coincidence is like the swell a tiny little a rock makes when it is thrown into the ocean. Everything is connected. I believe everything happens for a reason.

No one is going to convince me that there is such a thing as a mere coincidence. In my book, everything truly does have a reason, even if at times I have no idea what that may be.

So next time something less than pleasant happens to you, instead of bemoaning your fate, think positively. Remember it is no coincidence you are going through this event right now. You never know, you might even be lucky enough to be able to look back and see the blessing it has become.

P.S. You don’t think it is a coincidence you read this today do you? *wink wink*

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