Posted in Daily Prompt, Life

Doubting

The other day I started to have doubts. I was sitting and thinking. Do I really like my job? Do I really want to stay another year? Do I really think that this is the right choice? What if I am just telling people that I like my job, but inside I don’t?

I was offered a second year chaplain residency in palliative care, in the hospital that I have been working in all year – which is actually really exciting and great. But if I take it, it really does mean that I am actively choosing to not go back to Israel this year. I have been enjoying work (although at times it is hard), I know that is true. I like the other chaplains. I feel like I am part of the teams on the units I am working on. I have connection to staff in other units around the hospital. I really do feel like I have a place. So it would make sense that I would want to stay.

But on the other hand, New York has been really hard for me outside of the hospital. I don’t feel like I have a nice community. I don’t have a shul that I really feel part of. I don’t really think that anyone would notice or miss me if I leave. And so I am wondering, if I like work so much, because outside of work is just so awful.

There is a part of me that does believe that God puts us in the places that we are meant to be in. When I go to that part, it seems fine. But I am finding it hard to stay there. I want to yell out and ask – why here? Why in this city that causes me so much pain and isolation? Why am I doing this? What is the greater goal? What should I be striving for?!

I fear that I no longer have a set dream, and because of that, I don’t really know what I want or who I want to be or what I want to be doing. I worry that I am doing this because it sounds good, or because it is safe or because for the first time in 4 years I won’t be changing every aspect of my life again (and doing that all alone).

I wonder who my authentic self is now? Now after having gone through rabbinical school. After living and working in different countries. Now after being forced to actually speak about my feelings and have people point things out to me. Now after having outsiders tell me that they are sad for me and that I should just leave my community (and yes, that is something I have started to think of and it doesn’t feel good).

I am just trying to figure out (again) who I am and where I am supposed to me. And I pray that this choice I make is an authentic one, and not just one that is the “easy” thing to do.

via Daily Prompt: Authentic

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Haunting Laughter of Joy

For the past month or so, I have been spending a lot of time with a family in the hospital. It is a horrible tragic story, where half of the family died in an accident, and the other half survived. The survivors are two teenagers, one pre-teen, and the father. The teenagers and the father have been in the hospital.

Slowly, the family is physically healing. I go to their unit about once a day, and have somehow created a connection with the kids especially. I am a person that they will ask to come back, or to stay around even if there are other guests that just entered their room.

This past week they started talking to me about their mother, siblings, and just what life was. The conversations are starting, because leaving the hospital is becoming a reality.

I was shocked when the teenage boy saw me and asked me to come to his room, where he began to tell me his feelings about leaving the hospital. How he is scared to go back to where he was living. How he is scared about going back to school and having to go back to “normal” life – because nothing in his life is normal. Everything has changed. How he has seen pictures of where he used to live and thinks that it is haunted. And we spoke and even explored some of his emotions for 20 minutes, and might have been longer if his family didn’t walk in.

I was shocked with the teenage girl started to tell me about her mother. When she wanted to show me a picture of her, although she did not want to look at it herself. When she told me she was annoyed with her friends for telling her that getting back to “life” take time, and actually the best thing they can do is just to hold her hand and say nothing, because there is nothing to say. How she is scared to go to somewhere new – even though she is done with being in the hospital – because it means that she has to learn new people, and new rules, and it means that it is one step closer to going “home”, which is scary right now.

I was shocked when the father spoke about how sad he is. How he still blames himself.

In all these instances, and more, I had to bite my cheek to not cry in front of them (they were not crying at the time). I was shocked and in awe that they were sharing so deeply with me.

But the time that I felt the most helpless, where there were no words in the world that could be of any use, was today. I was sitting with the father and he asked me if I wanted to see pictures. And so we sat, and he went through his phone showing me pictures of the children and the wife that he lost. Celebrations, vacations, just sitting around. Showing me, telling me “look how happy we were”, “look how beautiful they were”, “do you see my beautiful family?”

And then he showed me a video, of his 3 year old daughter, taken only days before her death. She was laughing hysterically while climbing all over his back. And he just played it. And played it.

She will forever be his laughing 3 year old.

And all I could do was just sit there and watch.

via Daily Prompt: Forlorn

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How I Almost Got Set Up With a Doctor by a Patient: A True Story

I am not great at dating. I still have a very hard time finding anyone even to go for coffee at Starbucks with – I’m not even talking about long term relationship material. And yes, I am on websites and apps, and I even talk to lots of people, even people who set people up all the time (really I might have to start paying someone, because apparently I am not able to do this without money). Anyways, sometimes, rarely there is a random person who I meet who tries really hard to find me a mate.

Now this isn’t the first time in my life. About 7 years ago I was walking in the streets of Jewursalem to get to shul, and I ask some lady for directions. Then we get to talking, and she wants to set me up with some guy she knows. Me being me, I said, sure why not. Now it was Shabbat, so there was no way for here to get my information, but I told her where I was studying, and honestly, I thought I would never hear from her again. But then the next day I had school, the secretary brought me a message with this woman’s phone number. So that night I called her, and she decided that actually it was a different guy she wanted to set me up with – and I just said yes. Now I did meet that guy. He was nice – but super boring. But I was thankful to this woman because she actually did what she said she was going to do, and he was even attractive!

Well, now here is this story. So I am working in a hospital as a chaplain, and I meet lots of patients. There are a few patients that come in and out, and so there is a chance that I will meet them again.

I met Mrs. G about a month ago, she requested a Jewish chaplain so I went, she wasn’t on one of the floors that I cover, so I saw her once and didn’t really think more about it. Well, just this past week she was back in the hospital and on my floor. I saw into her room, and went to say hi. And then here is the conversations:

Mrs. G: Oh Rabbi, it is so good to see you. I’m back again. So, did Dr. A find you?

Me: No. Who is Dr. A?

G: Oh, he is this very nice, young doctor. He always came to see me the last time I was here, and I told him to try and go to the pastoral care department and find Rabbi L.

M: Oh…

G: Yes, he is very smart. He did med school in the Carribbean, and now has a fellowship here, he must be very smart. And he is good looking. And of course he is Jewish. And single. He always came in with Dr. L, but he is nice to. I didn’t want him to feel left out, so I asked Dr. L about his marital status too, and he is actually engaged. I then didn’t feel bad about telling him to try and find you. It is a shame that he didn;t. Well, maybe you can find him?

M: Do you have his first name?

G: No… but if he comes back around I will be sure to tell him to find Rabbi L. I am looking out for you.

Well, that was last Monday. I went to see her on Wednesday and she had new news for me.

G: Rabbi, it is great that you came. I called the front desk to see if you were around today, and they were not sure. Anyways, I met another very nice doctor the other day, Dr. P. He is Jewish and from Baltimore. I didn’t get a chance to ask him if he is single, because he was in here with this other doctor, and I didn’t really like him, and I didn’t think it would be right to have such a conversation.

M: Oh

G: Yes, but Dr. P is in cardiology. He is very nice, actually much nicer than Dr. A. I will try to see what I find out, and you should see if you can find him.

M: Thank you

Well, besides for this being really funny that a patient is trying to set me up with her doctors. I can only imagine the conversation she is having with them – or the conversation we would end up having if we ever crossed paths…

It sounds like one of those romance novels or movies – like it shouldn’t happen. But who knows – maybe I will meet Dr. A or Dr. P, and maybe she is my matchmaker.

All I can say is thank you Mrs. G for trying so hard, and really going out of your way to help me find someone.

via Daily Prompt: Almost

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Bundle Up

The weather over the past couple of days has been freezing! I mean really cold, like in the middle of the day today it was 17F (-8C).

Now the is something to walking a bit outside in the very brisk cold. But after a few moments, no matter how many layers you might be wearing it is just cold. Anything that isn’t covered with winter wear kinda goes numb.

And while outside, all I want to do is curl up in cozy clothing. Sweatpants and sweatshirts. Fuzzy socks. Warm and cozy blankets.

It makes me miss the days when I was a kid and we would light a fire in the fireplace, and just sit there snuggling up and enjoying the warmth, and sometimes eve roasting marshmallows.

Last night as I was curling up in bed, the house still a bit chilly (it turns out one of my roommates that went away left her window open and the heat off so the living room was freezing), all I wanted was someone to curl up with me and keep me warm. I wanted to feel the heat and connection of another person.

I wanted to feel wanted and to be touched. It is a type of coziness that blankets can’t bring.

via Daily Prompt: Cozy

Posted in Daily Prompt, Life

Sunny Days

It’s been a while, since I’ve been happy and had a really great week. Since finishing school about two weeks ago, I’ve been having a mostly enjoyable time, seeing friends and exploring things in New York.

I get to wake up (for the most part) when I want to, which then also lets me stay up late and not worried about getting home at a certain time.

I went to the Cooper Hewitt Museum, which is a really nice design museum. I really want to go back for their Thursday night cocktail parties.

Yesterday I went to MOMA with friend’s of mine from Australia. This was my first time there, and we just had a good time. The security people are surprisingly funny and nice- so if you go, I suggest chatting with some of them. Just ask their favorite exhibits, it’s one way to find cool things in such a large place. We also went to an interactive lecture on one of the exhibits, called “Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction” , which was really great. It was really interesting to see and think about the role of women in the “man’s world” of art as well. How there are many women who waiting for their husbands to move so they can have a name for themselves; or women who needed to push just to be noticed; or how even in the art world women need to prove themselves more than any man, even if they are just as good, if not better. It was interesting to see how some even used “women’s” material to create new things, to take control of what society gives them and to change them and make it their own.

I found a festival of accordion playing, called Accordions Around the World at Bryant Park. There were multiple circles throughout the park of accordion players, switching to a new player every 15 minutes. It was actually quite cool.

This week I went dancing THREE times! I went to my usual place on Saturday night, and then went to the first two days of midsummer night swing. I got to dance with some really great people. The first night was swing dancing, which was a lot of fun. But the second night was salsa, which there was even more spirit. There was an “after party” when it shut down, in a tiny park right across the street from Lincoln Center.

I even met someone- not really sure what if anything will come out of it. But on Tuesday night, at swing dance I caught a guy’s eye and asked him to dance. We started talking, and one dance turned into a number that I don’t even know. He even took my number that night. And then last night, in the giant crowd of people I saw him again, and once again we danced together. I don’t know if he will call, but it was kinda nice to meet someone, even for the short term.

And now it’s almost the weekend and July 4th. Next week I’m off to Toronto, mostly to see my former roommate from Israel, but now I will also be teaching a class. At the end of the month I’ll be teaching in Atlanta. And it looks like I will be going to Columbia (the country) at the beginning of August. So even though I am still waiting around to find out which hospital I will be working in, trying to find a new apartment, want to be dating, miss Israel and my friends– things might be starting to work out.

via Daily Prompt: Sunny

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Walking Like a Zombie

This week has been exhausting and will only continue as such. All I dream of is being able to stay in bed late and not having to move…maybe that will happen next Friday.

On Saturday my heart broke to say goodbye to everyone. It was a day full of tears and confusion.

Saturday night not only was I figuring out how to pack, but when I opened my emails after Shabbat I saw that my friend’s daughter had died- at that point I didn’t know any details.

Without sleeping on Saturday, on Sunday I got onto my first flight at 5am and arrived in New York at noon. I then had to go food shopping and readjust to being back.

On Monday I got to school to have process group. To find out that my friend’s daughter took her own life. My friend was in class that morning and only found her in the afternoon. My teachers and friends had gone out for the funeral, and throughout the week people were flying out to pay a shiva call.

In addition to holding other people’s pain, I was broken in my own way. Saying goodbye, trying to figure out what is next, trying to figure out how to find happiness. And so then on Tuesday in process group I spoke, well cried and spoke about my pain and loneliness and inability to figure out what is next. It took a lot out of me, but I spoke, and then it was done, and I was left in my head, only to have to travel to Philadelphia to teach a class.

On Wednesday I woke up in pain and exhaustion. But I decided to go to school because my head was still whirling with thoughts of Tuesday. In some ways there were no more tears, but the pain in my heart was still present. I made it through the day and even had a very interesting and different conversation with a friend…but then I didn’t go to sleep till 1.

On Thursday I was still tired and still alone and in some ways felt it even more. Only to end the day hearing my friend and colleague crying because every avenue that she has tried for next year has almost worked and then failed. Her husband doesn’t have a job in a place he likes, and her daughter needs to go to a special school. I went home will intention of writing a sermon, packing, cleaning and going to sleep, but I was unable to fall asleep till 3.

And then I come to today. After four hours of sleep I woke up and knew that I had to get on a plane. I got to the plane and immediately passed out and slept for the entire trip. Upon arrival I hopped into an uber and went to my friend. To see her sitting was painful. It was obvious that she was grateful that myself and others were able to come be with her this week, but still it was a loss. During Mincha, I almost starting crying. Looking up the stairwell and seeing photos of her family and of her late daughter, knowing that there will never be any more of her. Wondering to myself what will they do with her room. What will this time of year look like for the rest of their lives. What will next week be like when they are supposed to go back to “normal”.

It was from there that I hopped another Uber to where I am for Shabbat. I spoke at length with a man who started a community health program in Chicago. He now works around the world and teaches public health. And I got to where I am staying, and they immediately offered me a ¬†beer and some food, and told me to go to the room I’m staying in, “go rest a bit” they said.

So here I am, drinking beer, knackered, trying to unwind from the day, but trying to find energy to teach this weekend, as well as be a good guest. Hopefully I will get some sleep and it will be a Shabbat of peace, to start next week off with something positive.

via Daily Prompt: Knackered

 

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Put Everything on Hold

Pause. Put everything on hold.

Say goodbye to where you thought you had meaning. Goodbye to your friends. Goodbye to your job. Goodbye to your support system. Goodbye to parts of your identity.

Just wait. You just have to be and do what we tell you do to. You need to go through the actions to get to the end. The end that you have been waiting for. You just need to accept what is happening around you. Your control is on pause.

If you are smart you would use this time for growth and change. You would stop feeling bad for yourself. You would take this time and learn what you want to learn. You would find ways to push yourself. It is the last time in your life that all your responsibility is to just be. You should find the things that you bring your joy. You should take this time to see where you want to go, what you want to do.

You chose to go into this path. You chose to follow your heart, and you wouldn’t stop even when it was difficult.

You know they saying, “Man plans and God laughs” – well, obviously the plans you had are not going to come. God has other ideas for you. You just need to follow. This is all part of the plan – to teach you that you have no control.

Stop all you were doing and all who you are. Your identity is no longer what you assumed it was. Maybe you’ll find a new one, you better otherwise you will just be sad and angry, and that is not a way to be in the world. Just accept what is happening.

Life is on pause. It is not stopped…just paused for the time being.

via Daily Prompt: Pause