The Gift of Grief #1

Every year around Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, I get a little down. Most often it starts a few days to a week before the holiday. This year it hit me the day before and now, a few days after.  I never noticed this actually until my good friend Aviva pointed it out to me a few years ago.  I was feeling sad, tearful and “blue” as my mother, may she live and be well, call it.  I was telling Aviva my woes and she said “Chaya, I have known you for several years now. It’s a week before Rosh Hashana. Your father’s yartzeit (anniversary of his death) is the second night of Rosh Hashana. Haven’t you noticed that you always get a little down around this time of year? I certainly have!”

My father, Harvey Michael Werstein (Zvi Moshe ben Eliyaleb of blessed memory) died on the second day of Rosh Hashana 50 years ago. He was 28. My mother was 24. My sister Leslie was 4. I was six months old. Wow! I never noticed it before Aviva told me about this pattern she had observed. But boy did it make sense! So for the next few years, I wasn’t so puzzled when I landed up with a box of tissues on my lap. Then two years ago, after having some major insights into how we human beings truly operate psychologically (see http://www.3pgc.org), I innocently “expected” that I would be immune to my yearly grief experience.  So I was quite shocked when three days before Rosh Hashana I found myself all weepy. I was talking to my colleague and mentor Rivkah Krumholtz about my surprise and she said to me something that absolutely changed my whole attitude towards loss and grief.  She said something like “Chaya, did it ever occur to you that the feelings of grief are a sign of CONNECTION. Why would you NOT want to feel the loss of something so special as your father?” It was then that I realized that the Creator of the Universe gave us ALL of our emotions to experience. Not just the ones we label as “good.”  We get to experience EVERYTHING. And that is GOOD.

This has helped me tremendously in my work as a Social Worker in Hospice.  I share this with the families that I serve and they all seem to give a sigh of relief when they hear it.  We don’t have to be afraid of grief. We can welcome it. Like the waves of the ocean, we can let it wash over us when it comes and watch it roll into the shore. Waves will always come. Sometimes the water is still and quiet, and at other times it is strong and loud.  Some waves are big and feel scary, some less so. But they all ultimately roll into shore. So does grief.

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Inspiration: A Blast from the Past

I keep seeing this principle of life. It is becoming more and more clear to me. The world works like this:  1. A burst of energy  2. Work  3. Transcendence.  Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz spells this out in his incredible work Living Inspired. Since looking at the world and my life in this way, I am seeing it EVERYWHERE. And it has huge ramifications.

Think about it. An egg is fertilized in a BURST of energy (biologically and physically).  Then the woman works for 9 months to gestate that embryo into a baby – a human being.  And the moment of birth is the transcendence – the harmony of the first two parts.  It keeps going.  The baby is born is a BURST of energy – that last push, or more and more often these days, the emergence from the cut of a c-section. And all is (please G-d) wonderful and exciting. And then there is WORK.  Work for years to raise the child and hopefully get to a place where they can transcend and emerge an individual with their own purpose and direction. There’s more…I couldn’t wait to be a “grown up.” And when I became one it was exciting. And since then it has been WORK.  It takes inspiration to upgrade the iPhone, but it is the huge amount of work by the engineers to actually produce it. I like to think that I am an upgraded version of myself each year..and boy is that work. The Torah tells us that this is our job until 120. To “give birth to ourselves.” We are born (burst of inspiration), then we live my life (the work), and after 120 years our soul (the True “I”) transcends to the Next World of Eternity.

Marriage is like this too… The moment under the chupah (the wedding canopy), the two souls become one and the wedding celebration and the wedding night are that burst of inspiration.  I am a therapist and coach for people mostly  in their late 30’s all the way to 120 (ok, my oldest client was 101).  I can tell you from personal and professional experience that marriage TAKES WORK.  That burst of energy from the wedding day is NOT what a marriage is  made of.  It is the WORK, the day in day out, the ups and the downs and everything in between that makes a good marriage and makes a marriage last and transcend to higher and higher levels of unity and love.  After 26 years (bli eyen hara) I am starting to see that in my own life. And the marriages of 50, 60 and 70+ years  that I am blessed to see in my work proves this time and time again.  Burst of inspiration. Work. Transcendence.

We see this equation play out in good times and in bad times. Each year for the last 4 years I have been given the gift of taking a group of Jewish mom’s to Israel on an incredibly inspiring trip. It is amazing how we all come back so pumped up, so ready to implement the incredible insights we gained.  And despite everyone’s commitment to do so, most or even all of the burst fades. I am always inspired by the ones who really run with it. It is such a beautiful thing to witness and support them along their journey. Last year one of my kids came back from camp so inspired. She went on and on to me about how she wanted to implement these insights into her life. I said “Write it down! You are going to forget!!!” I forgot the rule of parenting teens…never tell them what to do as it almost always ruin your chances of it happening!  And most of it did fade.  She is a great kid thank God, however, the inspiration did fade. A more mundane example is how often people get inspired to go on a diet and after a while their commitment dwindles.  Many weight loss programs count on this happening and make lots of money because of it.  So do gyms. Gyms are filled in January! Resolutions are made and memberships are bought.  And sometime around mid-February they become less and less crowded.

We can get these bursts in bad times too.   This past Shabbat a couple we have been friends with for over 16 years – the husband died. Since learning the news, I have had several conversations with various people who knew him and all of them said something like “Well this was a wake up call!”  And I saw it clearly…..the WAKE UP CALL is the burst of energy, the inspiration. Whether it is realizing that the thing I was annoyed at my husband (theoretically speaking of course!) seems so trivial now to “I need to never take my health for granted,” to “I am going to make sure I do everything I can to go to my friends kids weddings, because I don’t want to only show up for the funerals.”  All of these ideas are great and important and TRUE.  But they won’t last unless I follow through with work.  I will get annoyed at my husband as soon as today (hate to admit that), I will complain about a minor ailment without realizing how trivial it is (and I also work as a  hospice social worker – and I see over and over again patients themselves realize “it could be worse.” Or- they tell me that they regret not appreciating the health they had, their spouse, their children…

It am seeing over and over again that it is my job to take a burst of inspiration and then ACTUALIZE it thru what will often feel as hard work, or uncomfortable. However, that is the road to transcendence.  This actually happened to me last year when I went to my dear friend’s mother’s funeral.  She had been diagnosed a few months earlier a terminal illness. I thought to myself “I really should go visit her.” Yet I didn’t.  And then one day she took a turn for the worse and she was gone.  When I was at the funeral I was so blown away by the stories that people told about her. I kept saying to myself (as I have often do at funeral), “I want to be like that.”  And maybe I will think about it for a few days but then it fades away.  But this time something shifted.  I literally ran to my car after the funeral and typed into my phone everything I could remember.  I talked about it for days and since then I would often say “Although there are things in my life that I would definitely do differently if I could go back, I really have no regrets in life*, except ONE. I regret not visiting this person when they were sick. I regret that I missed the opportunity to be in the presence of such greatness. My work shows me over and over that there is greatness in everyone.  If I spend the time getting to know them. And I missed this. I could kick myself.”   I carried that regret for several months.  Until the father of another friend of mine became terminally ill.  It was right before Passover. And I had EVERY excuse not to visit. However,  I had the gnawing feeling that this was my chance to repair the error from months before.  So the day before Passover I drove over to his house and visited him. (I had met him a few times before then as my friend hasd brought him to my home for Shabbat lunch a couple of times.) I brought him some herring and we shmoozed for a couple of hours.  We talked about his daughter/my friend and how much she has grown since the burst of inspiration she got when she came on The Jewish Experience-JWRP women’s trip to Israel in 2014 (with me and the daughter of the one regret!)  He asked me how I got into hospice work and I told him the story of when my step-father died and how I somehow stepped in and knew what to do and part of that was making sure he had a proper Jewish burial. And then I said “Because that is REALLY IMPORTANT Joe (not his real name).”  Then he asked me how I became Torah observant and I told him that I started learning about what I like to call “pre-denominational Judaism.”  And he said “Do you think I could learn too?” I said “Of course, The Jewish Experience participates in a world-wide program called Partners In Torah.  We meet at the Center on Tuesday nights, but I can arrange for someone to come to your house.”  “Really,” he said with the smile of a little boy although he was a few months short of 90 at the time. I told him I would work on it.  I left him watching a TorahAnytime.com video of Rabbi Paysach Krohn. He was overjoyed.

I went home and posted on our local Jewish women’s whatsapp chat, asking if anyone thought their husband might want to learn with Joe.  And two people responded right away.  One of them is the son-in-law of the woman who I regret not visiting!  Since then, each of them visits Joe once a week.  A couple of months ago Joe said to one of them “You know, Chaya mentioned something to me that I have been thinking about.  She said that a proper Jewish burial is really important. What is a proper Jewish burial and why is it important?”  So the man said that they could learn about it!  Well, this man had plans to be cremated.  A HUGE mistake for a Jew. (See my colleague’s website www.peacefulreturn.com). And he was pretty set on it, and all of his children were fine with cremation except my friend. (Remember…she took that inspiration from the trip and has been growing in her Judaism since then due to her efforts. So she knew how important this was for his eternity.) However, I know that through the learning, the prayers and the visit from our community Rabbi (who happens to have a law degree and brought with him a codicil to reflect a proper Jewish burial and said “we can take care of this right now if you want.”), he is now thank God set up for a proper Jewish burial for whenever God determines.
I just saw him at shul on Shabbat yesterday.  He is loving life.

I take no credit for this chain of events. But I do see the power of doing something with the inspiration instead of letting it take its natural course of atrophy unless ongoing effort is put in.  There is such obvious transcendence on so many levels from this story.  Now I am blessed to say that I truly have NO REGRETS. I have said throughout these course of events that this is all l’elui nishmas (for the elevation of the soul) of my friend’s mother Shayna Sara bas Yosef Yisroel, and for a healing of the body and soul of Joe. And now, may we all merit to take our inspiration and may any bit of inspiration-work-transcendence that comes from this blog be also include l’elui nishmas of Nehemia ben Sarah whose levaya/funeral I am booked on a flight to attend tomorrow.

*Why no regrets…that is whole other blog about the Power of Teshuva.

 

The Pickle Jar

I think in metaphors.  It’s just the way my brain works. My newest insight is that of the pickle jar.

I and many others are desperately awaiting the arrival of the Messiah, that person who will be able to illuminate the world with the Truth. We are very close. Jewish sources tell us that we are on the heels of the Messiah.
I even have my outfit picked out that I will wear when this glorious day arrives. It is hanging on the door of my closet. I try to live each day as the 12th of Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith states “I believe by complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he tarry in waiting, in spite of that, I will still wait expectantly for him each day that he will come.”

But what will it take for us to get there?  Last, my then 11 year old son Zvi were talking on Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning for the loss of the Holy Temple (due to baseless hatred) and the countless other losses and tragedies that the Jewish people have experienced on that day over the course of Jewish history.  I said to him “Zvi, God willing, next year, Moshiach will have already arrived and we will be dancing and eating instead of crying and fasting on Tisha B’Av.”  Without skipping a beat, Zvi said to me “Mommy, I don’t think it is ‘God Willing” but ‘Us Willing.'”

I think Zvi is right. Judaism understands that God created humans with free choice. The ability to choose between good and evil, between caring and apathy, between baseless respect and baseless hatred, between life and death.  Can God override our choices, of course….its God we are talking about. Perhaps, however, God wants us to make a choice to bring the Messiah. God is willing, but are we?

Here is where the pickle jar comes in.  I was thinking the other day how it often takes several people to open the pickle jar.  One person tries and after futile attempts asks someone else to try. They try but it doesn’t budge. So the next person tries and boom….it opens. And that person seems like they are the strong one that was able to open the jar.  Really though, it was each person putting in their effort that contributed to the pickle jar finally opening. It took everyone’s contribution to make it work.

For Moshiach to come it will take ALL OF US.  No matter where a person falls on the spectrum of Judaism, we are all part of the whole that is needed to bring True enlightenment, world peace, clarity.  Don’t we all want that? Don’t we all want a world where we put our energy into love rather than hate, seeing the commonalities rather than the differences, working together rather than feeling that others are a threat?  Jewish sources tell us that when the second Holy Temple was destroyed, the Shechina “Divine Presence” left and went inside each person. Look inside. Ask yourself “How can I contribute to peace on earth? How can I grow just a little bit in the direction of clarity and Truth? What can I do to make this happen?”  Perhaps we all need to willing, and together we can allow Moshiach to “open the jar,”  please God, may it be very very soon.

Us Willing: Words of Comfort for Shabbat Nachamu

While I am disappointed that yet another Tisha B’Av came around and it was still a day of mourning and fasting instead of a day of celebration which it will be when Moshiach comes and the Holy Temple is finally rebuilt. Instead, I spent this last Sunday fasting and crying. Crying because all of the pain and suffering that we go though today, is only due to the loss of the Holy Temple.  I heard an amazing talk by Chevi Garfinkel where she said that if a person lost their father (G-d forbid) before they were born, then it is really, really hard for them to truly know what they are missing. This is precisely what it is like for all of us! None of us lived during the First or Second Temple, where G-d’s Presence was SO OBVIOUS!!! Therefore, we don’t even know what we are missing!!! I happen to relate to this in a big way, as my father was diagnosed with cancer when I was 5 months old and he died when I was 6 months old. I am told that he hardly held me because he was afraid that the radiation treatments he was receiving would somehow poison me.  So even though I was blessed to have a step-father from the age of 4 years old, I cannot really comprehend what I lost. We don’t even  know what we lost….However, we DO KNOW HOW TO GET IT BACK!!!

We are told that the Second Temple was destroyed by the baseless hatred that the Jews had for each other. Last time I checked, we still have that!  You know the saying, “Anyone who is more religious than me is a meshugena, and anyone who is less religious than me is a gentile.”  We judge in our minds and with our words, and we keep doing this, until a tragedy hits us (G-d forbid), and we pull together as one people with one heart.  That last’s a while and then we go back to our old ways.

On Sunday afternoon, as I started preparing food to break the fast several hours later, I said to my 11-yr-old:

“Zvi, G-d willing next year we will be dancing and feasting on Tisha B’Av instead of crying and fasting.”

He said the following to me:

“Mommy, we should not say ‘G-d willing,’ but instead we should say ‘US willing!’  G-d is ready to bring Moshiach and to rebuild the Temple. It is up to US to stop the baseless hatred!  It is up to US!”

This Shabbat, the Shabbat following Tisha B’Av is called “Shabbat Nachamu,” “The Shabbat of Comfort.”  It is called this because the first sentence of the Haftorah has the words “comfort, comfort.”  However, I believe that we can also take comfort in the FACT that we have the answer in our very hands and WE CAN DO IT!!!  Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein said in a beautiful Tisha B’Av talk that we need to stop pointing OUT and start pointing UP! I would add that in addition to pointing UP, we must also point IN. As my Rav, Rabbi Joey Friedman says (paraphrasing, but it’s pretty close), “Our job is to perfect ourselves. And that is a FULL TIME JOB! So if I am really doing MY job, I will be way to busy to judge others!”

Let’s take comfort in knowing that G-d is ready NOW.

US WILLING, we will be too!

Mental Health Insights From Parshat Chukat: There Is Always More to Know

This week’s parsha can be very perplexing. We are given a set of commandments called “chukim” (as opposed to those that are known as “mishpatim.”) The Talmud defines mishpatim as laws that “if they had not been written, reason would require that they be written.” Essentially, even if God hadn’t had commanded them, human beings would have recognized the need for them anyway: they make sense!  On the other hand, the Talmud says that “Chok implies something that is nothing but a decree by command of the king.”  These laws, such as pushing a cow over the side of the mountain and burning its ashes, or the prohibition of wearing garments that are made of both linen and wool, do not make any sense at all! Chukim seem completely irrational.

The Rambam, however tells us that if any of the chukim seem irrational, it is merely due to “either to the deficiency of our knowledge or the weakness of our intellect.” Whoa! That is pretty strong language!  Rambam states clearly that every single commandment (both positive and negative) has purpose, however, in some cases the usefulness of the commandment is generally evident, and these are called “judgements” (mishpatim). In other cases, however, the usefulness is generally unclear, and these are called “statutes” (chukim).

What we must know is that all of the mitzvot have reasons, however their reasons are not always known to us!

I don’t know about you, but so often in my personal life I cannot make sense of what is going on. No matter how hard I try, it just doesn’t make sense. So I keep trying to the point where I am figuratively (or literally!) banging my head against a wall! What about the ongoing violence in Israel and the UN’s response? What about the 2016 election? Does any of it make sense?

I think we can learn some powerful lessons from this parsha.

The TRUTH is (you can disagree if you want, but I know it is true!), that while we human beings are by definition limited, we must realize that every single person is created and powered by the Ultimate Source of Knowledge.  It’s the difference between limiting myself by getting caught up in “personal thought” (“I know everything there is to know” or at the very least “I will figure it out!”) and the reality that I am always (as in never-gonna-not-be!) connected to the Boundless Power and Source of Wisdom, and it is by looking towards that Source that something fresh and new get in.

You don’t have to believe me. Try it for yourself!

Mental Health Insights From the Parsha: Korach: Don’t Always Act on Your Thinking

The story of Korach is fascinating! And it is no wonder that it takes place right after Parsha Shelach, the parsha of “the spies.” The Jewish people were at a low point; the current generation would not be able to enter the Land of Israel as a result of the bad report that the spies brought back.

Korach was annoyed that Moshe appointed himself the leader of the Jewish people and made his brother Aaron the high priest. He also felt slighted that he was not appointed the leader of the tribe of Levi, and his cousin was instead. HE wanted to be the leader, HE wanted to be able to have the closeness to God that Moshe had.
Korach gathers over 200 men and leads a revolt again Moshe. As a result if the revolt, Korach and the others are swallowed up by the earth.

There are several important insights from this parsha that point to the keys to mental health.

First, Korach was all about ME! Today we might say he had a “selfie” mentality! He was caught up in HIS thoughts about how things should be, the titles HE should be given, and wanting for HIMSELF what someone else had (ie. Moshe’s unique relationship with Hashem). He could not see that everyone had their part to play, and Moshe’s was different from his. He literally got swallowed up by his own personal thought.

Lesson #1: When I am caught up in personal thought, I am innocently cutting myself off from divine wisdom.
This happened to me just yesterday, in synagogue of all places! There I was basking in the spirituality of Shabbat, feeling the reality of the Presence of God, when two women in the row in front of me started talking. Sure, they were whispering, but no matter the whisper, it was very distracting as they kept turning back and forth to each other.. They are ruining MY davening (praying), I thought to myself. I like these young women, but it took everything for me to hold myself back from shooshing them or giving them a dirty look (a big no-no in our shul). I went from feeling in the Presence of God to the presence of ME-MYSELF-AND-I! Yes, we are not supposed to talk in shul unless we are talking to God or it has something to do with the service. Nevertheless, I was wrapped up in ME, and how they were ruining MY experience, and thus, I felt completely disconnected. Good thing I had the presence of mind to just move my seat. It’s funny, sometimes the talking just roles off my shoulders, but for some reason, it really bothered me yesterday, so I knew the reaction was really all about ME and that limited me. In reflecting on it now, I bet if the thought occurred to me that perhaps one of them was having a hard time and was getting support from her friend, I might have actually been more connected instead of disconnected….hmm…

Secondly, the Jewish people were at such a low. Although had just spent a year witness to countless miracles such as the splitting of the sea, water coming from a rock, manna falling from the sky, they knew that they would not get to merit to enter Israel and instead would die in the desert. Korach took advantage of their low mental state and got them to buy into his plan. This decision they each made cost them their lives.

Lesson #2: Making big decisions when you are in a low mental state is not a good idea! We make all sorts of bad decisions when they are not thinking clearly. People will quit jobs, yell at their kids, fight with their spouses, have affairs, even murder. I remember several years ago I was going through a low state-of-mind period and my thoughts took me to the “good idea” to sell my thriving business. I was feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of working and family and I thought that this was the right decision. No one could convince me otherwise (more about that later), and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  While I eventually could see the Divine plan in making that decision (details for another blog post), I painfully regretted it for several years!  When we are in a low state, it is as if clouds are covering the sun, and it looks like the clouds are the reality. We need to know that the sun is ALWAYS there, but we can’t see them until the clouds pass; which they always do! Making big decisions when our thinking is “cloudy” might not be the ideal time.

Lesson #3: When you are in low state, you are very susceptible to more negative thinking. They bought into Korach’s negativity. So instead of getting interested in the negative thinking and taking it seriously, let it pass. Don’t add fuel to the fire, so to speak. Who you surround yourself with is really important. When I am in a bad place, hanging around people who are negative just digs my negative thinking deeper and deeper. Of course I am also totally capable of spiraling down in my own head when I am in a low state (you know the old saying “staying in your head when you are in a low state is like driving through a bad neighborhood…don’t go in there alone!) Having people in our lives who practice gratitude, and look to raise people up is a much better idea than hanging around complainers.

The third thing to note from this parsha is Aaron’s response to Korach. Korach is all riled up and Aaron says……NOTHING.  Aaron does not respond. Why? Because when someone is all caught up in their own personal thought and thereby lots of feelings such as anger, resentment, jealousy, etc., there is nothing you can really say to the person until their thinking settles a bit (which is always will if we leave it alone and let it do its thing). Aaron says nothing because he knew that at that moment, nothing he said would be heard by Korach.

Lesson #3: When someone is in a state of anger, and the like, trying to have a rational conversation with them is almost always futile. Wait until their mind settles (which it will eventually), as they have a much better chance of seeing it then. A couple of weeks ago I was in a bad mood. I was feeling overwhelmed and cranky, and I was not fun to be around. I got into an argument with one of my children and they very respectfully said to me “Mommy, you are in a low state right now, so I am not going to talk to you now,” and she walked away.  I was annoyed, but you know where she learned that? From me and Seth! She was right. Nothing she was going to say was going to be “right” and I was “whirling” in my own negative thinking. She intuitively knew that eventually the whirling would settle down, and I then we could have a conversation, and I would have a fresh perspective.

There is so much more we can learn from this parsha but I will end with this: It is a FACT that were all created and are sustained by the Source of everything. We are never disconnected from that Source, we only THINK we are.

 

Lessons From a Bike Ride

Last week I went into Performance Bicycle to see if we could somehow make my 22 year old bike somewhat comfortable for me to ride. So I got a much-needed new seat, and had it raised a bunch. I also had them put on clip-in pedals. Of course I have only “clipped-in” to a stationary spin bike before, so when the guy told me to test it out by riding around the store, I ended up falling over into a display rack!

Viola, an earth-mother looking woman said “That shouldn’t of happened. I would have coached you differently. When they bring the bike back to the front of the store (there was an issue with the pedal), I will coach you on how to get on. So she did, and I didn’t fall into the display! She is such a fabulous, supportive coach, and she gave me the confidence to ride. She also told me that she leads a women’s ride every Sunday morning at 9am from the store.  So I planned to ride this morning.  I was so excited!

When I arrived, I learned that “Vi” (Viola for short) was out of town and that Dave would be leading the ride. I was quite disappointed at first, but I am very grateful actually.

Dave arrived with his wife Susan and their bicycle-built-for-two. Susan was disabled and walked with the kind of crutches that go around your wrist. Dave took one crutch at a time as Susan mounted the bike, and he slipped the crutches on either side of the basket at the front of the bike, and secured them with a bungie cord. I said “You have that down to a science!” And Dave replied “Well you would think after all of these years we would!”

So it was just me and them, and since I am relatively new at riding we decided to do an easy ride along the trail down to REI on Platte River. When we got there we parked our bikes and shmoozed for a while. Dave asked me if I had any questions about the ride, so we talked about how to know when to switch gears, and reviewed clipping out when stopping (I guess I should admit here that on Friday afternoon when I biked over to the library, I fell into a pole because I didn’t clip out fast enough!)  We talked about my triathlon last week and the blog post I ended up writing about it. (You can read it in the archives if you missed it.)

Then I learned about by riding coaches. Dave is a Vietnam veteran and came to Colorado to ski after his tour. He met Susan while she was “adaptive” skiing, as she has been disabled since birth. I had imagined that she had been able-bodied and got hurt in a biking accident. But I was wrong.  She has been doing adaptive sports for a long time. They met and got married and had a daughter who is now 30.  Dave is retired from the RTD and Susan is retired from being a case worker for people with disabilities. Susan used to ride her own bike, but they prefer to ride tandem now. They recently completed the “Five Boroughs” bike race in New York.

When we got back to the store, Susan said that she would love to get my blog posts. We chatted a bit and I said how I was so excited to finally enjoy bike riding. It was never really that appealing to me, but with the new seat and terrific coaches, I can see this going somewhere! I told her that it took me a while to fall in love with running, but I love it now, and she said

“I can’t imagine why anyone would NOT love running if they could.”

That stopped me in my tracks. It is so easy to take so many things for granted, and then complain about things too! I told her that as Jews, we have blessings that we say each day on the ordinary things in life, such having a straight spine, eyes that can see, feet that walk, elimination (as in bathroom). Susan never had the option to run, yet she has made the absolute best of what she COULD do.

I thought I was going for a bike ride today. Instead I got a big dose of gratitude, to God for my able body, to Dave, for his sacrifice for our country, for Susan for teaching me the power of human resilience.

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Dave and Susan

This entry was posted on July 3, 2016. 1 Comment