Over time, I’ve noticed a pattern I follow for creative gigs. I say yes to a number of opportunities, not realizing that the deadlines will all coincide roughly around the same time, then work frenetically to meet said deadlines, vow to never do it again, feel a pleasant sense of accomplishment, forget the feeling of panic over time, say yes to a number of opportunities. Ad infinitum.
Two weeks ago was one such week. I had said yes to a handful of delightful opportunities, but failed to take into account that three writing deadlines all fell in the week 75% of my kids were not in camp, which was also the week before my husband and I took a four-day vacation.
But now I have many links to share with you!
First, this piece for Aish.com, where I share how my former obsession with astrology and online personality quizzes (so addictive!) is connected to middos and mussar.
Second, this piece for Jew In The City about how I learned to make time for cheshbon hanefesh, how it’s made a huge difference in my life, and how it’s something we can all do.
Thirdly, this piece up on Hevria
Finally, keep your eyes out for a piece coming in the next issue of Nashim Magazine (an online magazine for Jewish women where Jewish women are literally seen) coming out this Wednesday. It’s also about cheshbon hanefesh and has practical advice for how to make it happen in your life!
Also! Bonus! I got an email from someone named Joshua Becker who created this seriously fantastic Elul Workbook that you should totally check out.
Ksiva v’chasima tovah everyone!
9 thoughts on “The Week I Wrote More Articles Than Ever Before”
I haven’t done a cheshbon nafesh yet this year and it’s looking like I might not do one for the first time in twelve years or more. I failed miserably at last year’s targets. I’m dreading Yom Tov and I’m not sure how much time I’m going to be in shul for (depression, social anxiety). More to the point, I feel really angry with HaShem for the way my life has gone. I acknowledge I’ve made some bad choices, but in a lot of ways I feel I was set up to fail and even a highly competent person (which I am not) would not succeed with the mental health and other issues I’ve been given. It’s hard to do a realistic cheshbon nafesh coming from that place.
I’m sorry you feel that way, that’s really hard. I apologize if this is an obvious or inappropriate suggestion, but maybe set your goals much much lower? Maybe recalibrate what you consider success.
Well, last year my goals were study one Mishnah a day (with commentary in the Artscroll Mishnah); daven the first paragraphs of the Shema, Amidah and bentsching with kavannah and try to do something to improve my mental health, and I didn’t succeed on any of them. Not even close. I’m not sure what lower targets I could set, as those felt ridiculously low. I feel that I do so little compared to other frum Jews as it is that if anything I ought to be setting really high targets, e.g. do an hour of learning a day, daven with a minyan at least once a day, but I know I wouldn’t be able to reach those.
I’m going to try to see if I can do some CBT to work on my social anxiety, but even that depends on various other factors outside of my control, like my employment situation (plus I’ve had a mixed record with CBT in the past). I do feel that maybe I should have some kind of kavannah target, but I’m not sure what is sensible, particularly as it’s a struggle to daven at all right now. Plus I have less motivation to do frum stuff than ever before. It just seems so pointless to expend so much effort on a religion that I’m not good at and which gives me no satisfaction, joy, sense of community, meaning or purpose.
That’s a lot of goals, in my opinion! And don’t compare yourself to other frum Jews. You pointed out earlier that you have a different situation from other people. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with scaling back on those goals. See what you *did* do, and maybe set your goal exactly there. Not more, just to even maintain the things you were able to do this year, without focusing on what other people are doing, or what you wish you were doing, or what you think you should be doing. What are you actually doing? Then just do that again. Find one small small thing that does give you satisfaction (it could even be something as seemingly small as remembering to say asher yotzar after the bathroom) and just pick that. If davening is a challenge then don’t make it a goal this year.
Okay! That is a preachy and advice-y as I feel comfortable getting! I will be thinking of you!
No, that’s not preachy at all! Thank you! I just always have lots of goals at Rosh Hashanah. Having only three last year was me trying to reduce them! Maybe that’s not a good strategy.
I know I compare myself to other people too much, but I have the impression, which may be completely wrong, that everyone in my shul is basically a tzaddik. OK, not a tzaddik exactly, but that they are all doing exactly what they should be doing and only need to refine their middot even more. Whereas I feel that I have a lot more to do even to get back to where I was the last time the depression was in remission for a long time, let alone to move forwards.
I wonder sometimes what sort of targets people have if they’re FFB or if they’ve been a BT or a ger for a long time. When they do all the ‘basic’ stuff (Shabbos, kashrut etc.) and their goal is just to be even more grateful or patient or generous or whatever. I guess I mean that I know that we’re all on a never-ending life-long journey, but everyone else seems to me to have arrived, and I haven’t even left yet.
I’ve been mentally ill for as long or longer than I’ve been frum and certainly longer than I’ve been an adult, so I don’t really know who I am away from mental health issues. Because of that, It’s hard to tell what is the ‘me’ that needs to be worked on and what is just poor mental health. (I’m not sure if that paragraph even made sense, sorry…)
It made total sense. I try to remember, when I’m assuming that everyone is doing better/more religious than me, that everyone has their own struggle and their own challenges, most of which are invisible to others.
I don’t know if this is helpful, but I’ve been frum for about fourteen years now (ish) and my goals are still very basic. I still feel like I need to review hilchos Shabbos (and yet, every year, I don’t!), and I need to work on my shmiras halashon. My emunah needs work, I struggle with lashon nekiah. There’s lots of basics that I’ve backslid on over the years through atrophy or going through stressful circumstances that brought out old habits. One of my goals this year is to be less critical because I see so much negative all the time, in my family, in myself, and it’s a really bad habit. A goal I had one year was to say morning brachos every day because I wasn’t doing it. I tried to say hamapil at night and it didn’t take. I’m hoping some time in the next five years I’ll get to that. I don’t know if sharing any of that is helpful, but that’s where I’m holding after over a decade of solid observance.
That is helpful, thanks for sharing it.