Exactly two years ago, at the close of 2014, I wrote a post about that year. It was a gut-wrenching year full of bad news and sad moods. Since that time, I find myself getting especially reflective this time of year, looking back on the year and deciding what I want to say about it.
If 2014 was the year of crying (often) and lying (“I’m fine”), then 2015 was the year of healing and dealing.
But in 2015 we learned to heal. We learned to give ourselves love. We learned to broaden the definitions of people and of labels. We learned, slowly, to love God again and to even, gingerly, seek meaning in our suffering.
This week I found myself embroiled in something that’s been simmering for a long time – since I started this blog. I had been tagged on Facebook in a conversation on a group where someone mentioned that she’d been going through a hard time as her 11-year-old had just been diagnosed on the Autism spectrum; another reader linked my post on the subject. Another reader (herself on the spectrum) wrote that she hopes my son never, ever reads what I wrote.
Greetings, OOTOB readers!
Hope you’ve all been well. Today’s post will be a conglomeration of stuff I’ve been into.
1. CLEANING FOR PASSOVER IN ONE DAY, GONE VIRAL
Firstly, my post from a couple years ago on cleaning for Passover in one day appears to have gone viral this year. That makes me both happy and sad. Happy, that more people can understand that Passover is about joy and that God would never give us an unmanageable task, and sad that so many people are freaking out about Passover. 8,000 hits this week alone tells me that people are kinda into this topic. Ya think? It’s gotten so that when I go grocery shopping, people stop me to say, “I hear you have this thing with cleaning for Pesach in one day…?” Yeah, I’m that girl. So check it out and pass it along.
2. PATRONIZE OUR SPONSOR FOR KOSHER VITAMINS
You may have noticed that ad up there, in green, for kosher vitamins. This company is supporting OOTOB, so please patronize our sponsors and if someone asks you about kosher vitamins, send them the link. Thanks!
This recent Kveller post by my online (soon to be IRL) blogging buddy Nina Badzin – I’m headed to Minneapolis on Sunday to address Aish on Women in Judaism – is a really important post. It’s short and deceptively simple, but don’t be fooled. None of these things are commonly blurted out in a word-association game about Judaism, but all of them are in the Good Book right with shofar, matza, and l’chaim. Read it and tell me what you think. Judaism is meant to lived and expressed every day – and primarily in the home. Check it out.
4. BOOK UPDATE
My book, a women’s prayerbook, is done and off to my editor! The publishing company Mosaica Press is handling it, and I’m feeling a huge sense of relief now that it’s out of my hands – at least this phase of it. It doesn’t have a name yet, so please weigh in on my two options, as developed by my trusty crowdsourcing marketing team on Facebook:
1. Calling God: a women’s prayerbook of conversation and connection
2. Prism of Prayer: a women’s prayerbook of conversation and reflection
Basically, don’t worry about the subtitle so much, but envision yourself at Barnes and Noble or recommending it to a friend. Which title has more punch, interest, and memorability?
It’s due out this fall, so keep your eyes and ears open for that.
5. HAIRCOVERING UPDATE
A couple of months ago I blogged about my evolving views on haircovering; specifically, methods of which to do so.
Each year I put together a shutterfly album of our family’s pictures from that year, and I noticed in my absorption in that project that I really, really, like the way I look in the pictures with scarves. It encouraged me to wear more of them, as opposed to wigs, which I hate wearing.
Anyhoo, that’s what’s been going on around here. Happy preparations for Passover, for my Jewish readers 🙂
When you write a blog post with a lot of personal revelation, several things happen.
First, you get flooded with incredible feedback. Texts, emails, Facebook messages, WhatsApps, even – wait for it – phone calls.
Second, you walk around wondering Who Read It and Who Didn’t. It’s a little weird. And wondering if people feel weird about how to act toward you or mention it to family members or what. A blog post, once released, becomes an organic entity all its own.
So then you have doubts. Should I have written all that? Was it TMI? Am I compromising my family’s privacy (I consulted with my husband before posting, of course). Will someone say something weird to them?
But back to feedback. The feedback itself came in a variety of forms. Mostly, overwhelmingly, kind. Messages of love, solidarity, and warmth. Messages promising to keep us in people’s prayers and hearts. Messages that reminded me of my core belief in the inherent goodness of mankind.
Also, hope. Messages from people who have been there, and prevailed. Despaired, then succeeded. Fell into the dark pit and emerged. These messages uplifted me. Especially stories of successful adults with Aspergers (bring ’em on!).
Concern. Was I OK? (Yes, thank G-d, I really am – with a lot of help.)
There was also gratitude – from fellow sufferers in this journey called life. Gratitude for making others feel normal. For reminding them that no one’s life is all put together. For making it OK to be real.
And while I really wrote the post for myself – to process, as catharsis, and as part of my healing – it is the last reason that makes me feel vindicated.
For part two of the hair covering discussion (can you say “controversial”?), I’ve polled women of all kinds on their feelings on hair covering – why they cover, or not; with what and when; and how it makes them feel. I still have not heard from a woman who does not cover her hair as to why she doesn’t, so open invitation for that, but here’s a sampling of the responses I’ve received, including a woman who isn’t Jewish (see Kajsa’s response at the end).
Note: the word “tichel,” not to be confused with “kichel,” is a Yiddish word for kerchief.
my mind, I am always worried that I will be somewhere where I will be required
to remove a hat for security purposes i.e. airport, border crossing etc. Then
whoever would require me to remove it, would realize that I was Jewish which
might result in my safety being compromised etc. (childhood throwback days
growing up in anti-semitic neighborhood in Canada).
Kajsa, a Christian woman, finds covering has helped her see her inner beauty:
my answer on your questions.
I cover for several reasons: first, it’s a spiritual choice – I feel connected to
G-d. Many Christian women would refer to Paul’s letter to Corinth but that is
not one of the main reason I cover. My cover reminds me that I am a beloved
child of G-d.
I think it’s a bit romantic to save something to my husband: my hair is for him
alone (and close family).
Thirdly, I wanted to take back the right to my body, As a woman I am tired of being
objectified by men and society.
I primarily cover with tichels, and sometimes with a knitted hat or a bandana at the
gym (swim cap when swimming).
3) The most important feeling is that I feel good about myself and how I look. I
struggle with extremely low self-esteem and covering has helped me to start
seeing my inner beauty. I now hold my head high, feeling that I am the queen of
my marriage. I feel more connected to G-d and my husband, but also to the
sisterhood of the Wrapunzel community. I now have sisters all over the world
that will encourage me, pray for me and laugh with me whenever I need it.
11 years before I started covering full time (I used to wear a doily when I lit
the candles or went to shul). I had breast cancer and was on my way to Israel
in the TSA line when I decided to cover what I called “full time” (at
work, out of the house, etc.). I didn’t want any of the TSA people poking or
prodding me when I was sick, so I told the TSA people I needed a private room
to take off my hat. After that, it was like a commitment. Then I had cancer
surgery and decided that I needed some spiritual protection and it happened
naturally. When I first got married my husband told me to cover my hair with
dye, so that’s what I did then. 2. I cover with tichels now exclusively. Before
I used biker doo rags and bandanas, berets, etc. When I moved to NYC I figured
I would wear what ever the hell I wanted on my head and embraced the Wrapunzel
way. 3. Covering has a spiritual protection for me. However, something WEIRD
has been happening since I’ve been wrapping…men treat me like I’m BEAUTIFUL!
I’ve never had this before EVER in my life–I’ve been told I’m ‘cute’ or ‘the
smart one,’ but I’ve noticed people treat me differently with the tichel on. I
got a cat call from a construction worker yesterday! All of a sudden! I have to
admit, I am also wearing more makeup than I was because I’m not sick anymore
and don’t want to look sick. I want everything to look put together, but I
always have known what someone wears is critical to how people treat you, but
this is just insane! A young religious man (well, in his
the Sprint store! And I’m obviously married! Sorry for going on and on…:)