I’m in a bit of a bind.
I don’t know who reads this and how much I really want to say (I realize how annoying that is and I’m sorry), but I need to process a bit.
Here’s the thing. We’re Jewish (which you probably know) and belong to a congregation here in Reading. It has recently come to my attention that a non-Jew (who is married to a non-Jew) has joined the congregation and joined a committee that I also just joined. This person has threatened and bullied me and my family in the past and I do not feel safe. I would like to leave said congregation. And, of course, the committee.
This person is not the only reason, but more the carrot that tipped the scale. I prefer to practice Judaism in a different way that is practiced at this congregation. I want to raise my child in a different way. The people (otherwise) are lovely and the Rabbi is really wonderful. But this is my faith and my spiritual practice. I should like going and praying there, right? And I should feel safe.
The problem is, I don’t want to let the bully win. I want to be indifferent; this is what yoga teaches, to be indifferent toward vice. I don’t know what Judaism teaches. Note taken.
Perhaps I will speak to both Rabbis of both congregations in town to see what Judaism suggests I do. Am I prejudiced for not wanting a non-Jew in the congregation? Am I caving to a bully? Am I just doing what is best for me and my family by leaving? What would you do?
Sigh. Growing up kind of sucks sometimes.
UPDATE: With encouragement from my husband, I have decided to push through and stay. Two main reasons I am ok with this: First World Problems and Impermanence.
David recently showed me a video, a rap song called First World Problems. It is hilarious and a good reminder that people are dealing with real, life and death problems. This is not that (I hope).
AND, my yoga teacher once said (in response to me saying i wasn’t sleeping well due to having a tiny baby) “Impermanence, baby” and I think that rings true here. It is true with Abraham, who is growing up faster than I could have imagined. With this charming person (you can’t tell sarcasm on a blog, can you…?), it will pass. Someone will move on, perhaps the relationship will change for the better. Nothing is permanent.
I’m trying to get my friend Kirsten to move to Detroit because I can’t move there. She lives in Ann Arbor and could get a job in Detroit. She is an artist, a yoga teacher, and a compassionate, creative soul. She could do great things in Detroit.
Then I remembered that I live in Reading, a city that could use some compassion and creativity.
Then this morning, I read this article. And I remembered that I could do great things here.
As much as I actually don’t like growing up, I do like discovering the beliefs that matter most to me. If I observe where my own actions lead (because I believe in the cliche that actions speak louder), commitment to local is high on the list (close to importance of family, open time, thrift, and other things). When I worked at Touchstone Theatre, my favorite projects were always the very local pieces we created ourselves. The very personal/local transcends and becomes relevant to everyone, everywhere.
That is what I want to do in Reading.
Posted in myself, theatre
Tagged Berks, community, connections, creativity, inspiration, learning, personal, slow down, theatre, work
Abraham was recently pictured on Natural Parents’ Network on their Wordless Wednesdays feature about food. After he was pictured and I shared the link with my family and friends, I wondered to myself if I am actually a natural parent. What does that really mean?
There is a long list of what it means to be a natural parent on their website.
I prepared to have a natural birth at a birth center, but I found on my due date that Abraham was breech, so we had a c-section and it wasn’t so bad.
We went around and around about the decision, but we circumsized Abraham because we are Jewish and that heritage is important to us, even though we still wrestle with our choice.
I nurse Abraham and intend to as long as we both are enjoying it, but I also supplement his nursing with formula to keep him on the right weight track.
He sleeps with us, but I’m
looking forward to getting would love to get him to sleep on his own so I can have a little space and time back to myself.
I fed him food at 4.5 months old (which is a bit early) but he was full-body-lunging for it. I also give him food that is not organic or local. Local is preferred, but the child loves avocados, which aren’t exactly native to Pennsylvania.
I have 3 different baby carriers, all of which I love to use, but damn, it is nice to push him in a stroller in this hot weather.
We are vaccinating Abraham on a regular schedule. We feel it is our responsibility to him and to our community to ensure that diseases that have died out stay gone.
What is most true is that I hate all of these parenting labels. They are shortcuts, sure, but they are also pegboards. I never have enjoyed being pegged (though I think I’m pretty predictably peg-able…) in any position, especially being a mother.
So that’s it. I’m a mother. I’m a step mother. Those describe my relationships to my kids. That is all. Every choice I make as either is not because I’m a natural parent, a free-range parent, a whatever parent. It is just because I’m a parent and I’m always trying to do the right thing for each of my kids.
Posted in baby, family, myself
Tagged baby, Berks, breastfeeding, children, community, connections, family, learning, life lessons, love, personal, slow down
I am overwhelmed.
Why did I think it would be a good idea to teach theatre, teach yoga, run a small religious school, and work on writing a play in the months after having a baby? Not to forget my family, the house, and myself. Oh dear.
Up until January 6, 2011 (when Abraham was born), I always kept myself very busy and did well. The busier the better, most of the time. I carefully packed my days with all the things I enjoyed.
I have not only added “Bio-mom” to my list of labels (because I was already a step-mom), but moved it way, way to the top of the list. I love it and wouldn’t trade it, but it is overwhelming. Abraham wants to be held when he is awake, and he wants to be nursing while he is asleep. So much touching. Which is what I wanted, but I didn’t realize how intense it would be.
In the short times that Abraham is not touching me, I am desperately doing things I can’t do with him: showering, laundry, dishes, working, yoga. Yoga comes last.
I am about to turn 30 (which I was thinking was making me an adult for real, but in fact, I think it is really young). I was feeling like I needed to do things I’ve been wanting to do: have a real job again (instead of 4 small ones), join boards, make a big difference. But I think what I am realizing is that I want fewer commitments now. I have time. Hopefully lots of time. I can get a real job when I’m 40 and still get to do it for a long time. I can join boards when I’m 50 and still serve my community for a long time. I can make a big difference when I’m 60 and still be younger than my friend Lane was when she joined the Peace Corps.
What has been my hurry? Why are we all in such a hurry?
I don’t anticipate having more children (sorry, Mom) because 3 is enough. But it means Abraham will be my only baby. Which is ok, babies are hard. But I don’t want to fret about his sleep because I need to do things during his nap time. I want to cuddle up and sniff his little head.
you can come cuddle with him too
Americans for the Arts‘ ARTSblog had an interesting article about Art/Artists working in and with Communities.
I tried to leave a comment but was unable, so here are my thoughts:
I have seen, through my own work, that the arts are deeply connected to our communities, through art for art’s sake that is also art for humanity’s sake. I prefer when art is both – why can’t art be quality, creative, and meaningful to more than just us, those who make it.
The challenge I have faced, working independently or as part of a small ensemble, is that artists don’t often have the knowledge to “prove” their value to granters or community leaders, nor do they have the finances to pay someone else to do it.
It is exciting to hear that HUD and Kresge are thinking more broadly about change and encouraging relationships between communities and artists. I hope that it reaches all levels of artists, not just those who are big and known, but also all of us who are small but creating great work.
As I work toward revitalizing the Reading Theater Project, I have these conversations with myself a lot: what is the value of art (of theater)? what kind of art do I want to make? do I want the art to serve the artist or the community? What I keep returning to is YES – I believe that art can do all of these things and we don’t have to choose. We can produce a place, write a play, develop a performance as an ensemble; it can be high quality art and highly creative AND be meaningful to the community we live in.
This is my goal. Maybe I am naive. Maybe it is possible with the right people.
David and I are spending Thanksgiving weekend in NY with his parents, and today we are going into the city to sing Georgian music at a workshop lead by Carl Linich of Kavkasia.
David introduced me to Georgian music (among other freaky types of music). My first response was, “I like Georgian Music. The Indigo Girls are my favorite!” David’s response was probably something like, “oh, I didn’t know the Indigo Girls sang Georgian Folk Music,” confusing me with his combination of sarcasm and sincerity.
The first Georgian song I learned, here sung by Carl and his sons:
We haven’t been singing in a while, and singing is getting more and more difficult as Raspberry pushes upward into my diaphragm and lungs. I have barely been able to keep up with my favorite Georgian duo, holding now-gasping sing-a-longs with the Indigo Girls.
I miss singing. It is hard to be sad or angry when you are singing (unless singing along with Alanis or Pink or something, which I don’t usually do). Singing in a group, whether during Shabbat services, Sacred Harp sing-a-longs, or choir practice, builds community effortlessly.
I’m excited to introduce Raspberry to Georgian Music. And everything else.
GOOD Magazine recently had an issue on work. Some interesting job perks I found perusing the online version of the article. Some of the perks support people who are working at the company for philosophical reasons and other honor family life in very admirable ways:
- At Google, new parents get more than maternity leave: up to $500 of reimbursements for take-out when their newborn’s needs mean no time for home cooking.
- Patagonia offers an employee internship program, allowing workers to take paid time off to intern at the environmental nonprofit of their choice.
- Trader Joe’s has a company-paid retirement plan that automatically pays an amount equal to 15.4 percent of a worker’s annual income into a retirement account—without the employee having to contribute a single cent.
- Target will connect employees to “wellness coaches,” who help them lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthily, and de-stress.
- Netflix full-timers not only get unlimited rentals, but also unlimited vacation days, as long as they get their work done. (brilliant!)
Note to self: If I am ever in a position to run a company of any size, take this list to heart.
In college, my friend Rob always called me a Gentleman because I hold doors for people. I didn’t think action of mine was so revolutionary. I just didn’t want to let doors slam on people behind me. Apparently, this intention makes me a gentleman.
I kept hearing from other pregnant women and those with small children (the carrying not walking kind) that people will hold doors and do other gentlemanly things when you are pregnant.
When I was 3 months pregnant and looked like I ate too much at lunch, I could understand why no one held doors for me. They were probably thinking “that woman could use some exercise” and were happy to give me the opportunity to hold the door for them.
Now that I am 8 months pregnant, clearly pregnant, and not looking like a pregnant teenager now that my skin has cleared up and my grey hairs are shining in the autumn sun, I was actually looking forward to people holding doors and offering to help me with things.
I am sad to report that Berks County is full of non-gentlemen. I have one friend who is a gentleman and will barely let me hold my own purse when we are together. He always holds doors. But he always did.
Everyone else still lets them slam.
Sigh. I suppose I’ll put this on the ever-growing “con” side of the Living in Berks County list.
Last night, David and I went with my dear friend Joel to see a The Marriage of Bette and Boo, a play from the 80s by Christopher Durang, at the Ephrata Playhouse.
The play was about marriage, children, family, and all the absurdity and sadness that goes along. It was as funny as devastating. I like this about art – its ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time.
The theatre is an excellent community theatre, where I would be interested in volunteering to act (no actors get paid in community theatre), except that they rehearse at night. No way that is happening any time soon.
It keeps becoming more and more clear to me: If I want to make theatre in Berks County, I have to do it myself with the artists I respect and trust. Which is exciting and at times overwhelming. How will I meet more of these artists if I am not out in the community doing theatre? How will I connect with any amount of audience if I am not out in the community doing theatre?
And am I insane for committing to make new theatre when I’m 33 weeks pregnant?!