Sunday, June 22, 2014

Feeling a Bit "Wicked"

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, Sara asked us to write about the following:  What are some of your favorite song lyrics? And why?

For a Hanukkah present this past year, I bought a ticket to see the show Wicked. AMAZING doesn't even begin to capture what I thought of the show.  Of course, the music in the show contributed to that how I felt about it.  So, I decided to use this topic to talk about my top 3 favorite songs from the show.  Of course, I'm sure the ones I choose are the same ones lots of people deem their favorites, but whatever...

One of the things I love about Wicked is that it give you a different point of view of Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.  The song Popular was one of the first times it really hit me that Glinda was kind of a stuck-up bitch who was very full of herself.

Defying Gravity:

I love this song because I feel it speaks to me in terms of how I want to live my life.  That I want to go beyond the boundaries and limitations that have been set for me - by both myself and others.

For Good:

This song is special to me because it reminds me of two people I've known a very long time.  Both of these individuals have truly had an impact in my life and helped shape me - for the better. 

Though these are my top 3 favorite songs from the show Wicked, it doesn't mean I don't like the others.  It was a phenomenal show that I highly recommend seeing.

Now that I've shared with you some songs I enjoy, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about their favorites:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

We Need to Talk

At this point, if you know anything about me it's that I hate (with a passion) the words, "we need to talk."  Rarely does anything good come after those words.  However, they are the only words I know to say to start this conversation, so here I go...

I will openly admit, I once embraced you tightly.  However, at that time I didn't know any better so holding on wasn't that hard.  Then, I made a decision to open my eyes, and my mind.  Instead of holding on to what I had learned, I decided to learn for myself.  To form my own opinions and conclusions.  It is for that reason I can no longer hold onto the stereotypes I once held true about observant Jews.

This journey started out quite innocently almost three years ago when I spent a full Sabbath (from sunset Friday to 25 hours later) in a very observant neighborhood located in Chicago.  I remember calling my mom after Shabbat was over to touch base with her.  I told her that she didn't have to worry about anyone persuading me to do this ever again and this wasn't a lifestyle to which I would ever adapt - or something like that.  I felt bad saying that, especially since I was still in my host family's house, but I did nonetheless.  Little did I know that I would be spending more time around that observant community, amongst others, only to realize that despite a few lifestyle choices they weren't so different from the rest of us.

Most recently, my break up with these stereotypes took an unexpected turn when several people started to label me as "observant."

"Moi?!  No, no, no!  You're mistaken.  I'm the farther thing from observant."

That's what I would say when such a remark was made.  However, after this happened several times I decided it was time to take a step back and examine why people were making these comments.  Then at Shavout late night learning I figured it out.  My epiphany came while talking to an acquaintance of mine.  As I was talking about the things I wanted to learn he reacted with surprise.  I asked myself why he did this.  He didn't look uber religious, but I knew that he himself leaned towards the observant side as well.

That's when it hit me...

Even though I knew that my observance level had changed, dramatically, since I first moved to the city you'd never know it if you just saw me walking on the street.  There is no visible sign that screams, "I take Judaism seriously!"  However, this is just one of the reasons I have a hard time, labeling myself as "observant."  Even though I know how I practice my religion since there is no visible signs of my observance level one the outside I have a difficult time lumping myself with the observant crowd.  Since I hold a stereotype that all observant women dress modestly and wear only skirts I often forget my female, modern orthodox friends who follow the mitzvahs of Judaism (as I do), yet infuse secular life (such as wearing shorts and pants) into their life as well.  Or how about my modern orthodox friends who hug/hold hands with members of the opposite gender who aren't family, eat out at non-kosher restaurants while still maintaining some level of kashrut (kosher dietary laws) and/or maintain feminist and/or liberal view points on a range of topic, including religion. They, like me, have no blatantly obvious outward signs that advertise to the world they are observant, but inside proudly observe the practices that are near and dear to their heart and soul.

It's for all these reasons, and more, that today I happily break up with the stereotypes I once held and embrace new truths about being an observant Jew.  I'm sorry if you are saddened or shocked by this declaration, but it's just one more way I am moving forward in my life.

I wish you all the best,
Tracey (Tova)

Now that I've shared my break-up letter (the Thursday Blog Project topic given to the group by Denise for the week of June 13th), I ask that you take time to read my fellow bloggers break up letters:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Friday, June 6, 2014

"The Worst Mistake I Ever Made"

For many, many.... MANY years a lot of people have been telling me that I needed to be in the city.  I understood why this was the case.  I didn't fit the suburban demographic - married with children.  Furthermore, I was one of six Jewish individuals (I'm sure there are more than just six, but it makes it sound more dramatic and funny if there are only six) living in a predominantly, Christian suburb.  However, over the years I stood firm to the idea that I wasn't a city chick.  That is until late 2012/early 2013.  I'm not sure exactly what prompted the shift in my opinion, but I believe it happened about 2 years earlier.  Whatever it was that prompted my yearning to move to the city, I could no longer ignore it.  So, I spent the spring of 2013 looking for a place to live - and I found one.

The weeks leading up to my move were stressful... very, very, very stressful.  Not only was I trying to go through my life trying to decide whether or not it came with me or got thrown away, I was also dealing with the unknown of living in urban area.  Sure, I had hung out in my particular area many times, but this time it would be MY area.  I would give up the running trail I loved so much, for street running.  The places I could afford weren't as nice as the one I was leaving behind, but I still looked at it with the hope of making it into a nice home for me and Elsie.

Moving day was a complete and utter clusterfuck that did not help my state of mind.  Anything and everything seemed to be going wrong... that is until it started going right.  However, before the "right" part happen, I was a mess and instead of trying to pull myself together so I could rally through I just let myself dive into the mess further by sitting on the floor, against one of the walls of what would soon be "my old place" and began to cry.  During this cry-fest I proclaimed - "This was the worst mistake I ever made!!!!!!"

A mistake I couldn't take back.  I was stuck. I was stuck in a lease for the next 12 months.

Once moved in and trying to get settled into my new home (at least in theory) I continued to see the move as an epic fail on my part.  It seemed that no matter what I tried, nothing made me feel that things would be better and that I had made a good decision.  I was so convinced of this I seriously contemplated subleasing the place and hauling my butt back to the burbs.  However, a friend of mine asked me to do them a favor.  They asked me to give it until the end of the summer.  If I still felt like the city wasn't for me then, and only then, they said I should move.  After giving it some thought, I promised myself, and my friend, that I would give it until the end of the summer; however, I was sure I'd be packing up after that and heading back.

That was a year ago.

I'm not sure when or how it happened, but over time I have not only adapted to city life, I've embraced it.  To say I enjoy living in the city and the place I chose to live is an understatement.  Sure, city life isn't perfect and I'd like a "better" place, however right now I can say with full confidence I am where I am suppose to be.  More importantly, I know the decision to move to the city has made me happier in life overall.

At the end of the day, it is funny to think how one of the things I've considered "the worst mistakes I mistakes I've ever made" (my topic for this week's Thursday blog project) has turned out to really be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Now that I've told you about one of the "worst" mistakes I've ever made, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about their worst mistakes:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Never, ever will I again!

Thursday Blog Project Topic for May 22nd given by Sara: What is something (or more than one thing) you've done or tried (been there, done that) that you will never do again?

On my wall in my kitchen I have all the "race bling" I've earned, including this one....

As you can see, this particular race took place in February 2013.  Now, I'm not a cold weather runner, but a friend of mine was participating in the race and after some consideration I decided to have an open mind and try a cold winter race.

Yeah..... That was the first AND last time I will ever do one of those!  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not putting down anyone who runs in cold temperatures.  As far as I'm concerned, more power to you for doing such a thing.  However, that is just one way in which I am not a bad ass.  I clearly don't have what it takes to do such a thing.  I was THRILLED to finished that race and get back inside.

Once I was finished, I sat on the bleachers, inside the gym we had waited in before the race, and cried.  That's how cold and uncomfortable I had been.  I felt so crappy, I didn't even text my friend whom I had met up with at the race because I just wanted to be alone and work through my not so great feelings.

These days, I look at that "race bling" and smile.  It no longer represents a crappy racing experience.  Instead, it serves as a time when I stepped outside my comfort zone for a brief moment.

I'd like to say I'll "never" participate in such a race again - because let's face it, I could one day change my mind.  However, at this moment in time I feel fairly confident that a winter race, such as this one, is something I will NEVER do again.

Now that I have written about something I will never do again, please see what things my fellow bloggers will never do again:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)