Sunday, October 26, 2008

Procrastinating past first frost

Tonight is forecast to be the first frost of the season. This is a few weeks later than average, which should have helped my fall gardening plans work out.

But, I haven't planted any of my bulbs. Not the new garlic that I bought after being encouraged by this summer's harvest. Not the tiger lily bulbs or daffodils that I dug up planning on moving to a new location.

Partly from having my weekends and my last few days of vacation more scheduled up than I expected. Partly from this bug that hit me two weeks ago. Partly because I kinda expected to plant the garlic in September, but the weird weather this year pushed back the harvest and the company didn't mail it until the first part of October.

This coming weekend is looking good, though. Hopefully being planted November first will still work out for my bulbs.

One less... or one more?

A member of our Bible study group is now deceased. We had actually had the study group at the hospital last week so she could participate; she seemed tired, and we knew her prognosis was very poor. But it was still a shock to have her actively participating in the group one day, and the next day pass away.

The partner and I talked about how she was one of just a few people either of us has had a relationship with that died. I don't know if that's fortunate that we have had so little of that pain, or unfortunate that we didn't have meaningful relationships with our relatives that passed away. Perhaps a little of both.

A mean sick

Last week, while feeling sick, I found myself thinking about what un-nice people my co-workers were. I made fun of my boss to his face (fortunately, he took it light-heartedly). I complained about my partner to my coworkers. I left mean-spirited comments on people's blogs. And all this just weeks after Yom Kippur, where I attempted to erase or at least mitigate exactly these kinds of sins.

Yikes. I'm really glad I'm getting over whatever bug got me, but I would have liked to think I could be a good-hearted person even when not feeling chipper. Apparently that's an area I need to work on.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell on Islam

This morning, one of the threads I read on Ovusoft was about Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama's bid for U.S. President. Apparently, during his interview, Powell brought up the mistaken belief that Obama is Muslim, and refuted it, then went on to say:

But the really right answer is: What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president?

He also told the story of this mother, whose son died while serving in the U.S. army:
Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son

Yesterday, a Muslim poster on Ovusoft expressed fear of being attacked for voting in two weeks: she wears a hijab and is readily identifiable as Muslim. Extremists in the U.S. have, for whatever reason, decided their message spreads well during this election season, and it is disheartening. I was really impressed that Powell took this opportunity to make a statement against hatred. I pray the American people take his message to heart.

Feeling better

I've been feeling under the weather lately. I haven't being able to sleep as long as I typically do, which would normally disturb me. But an article I read recently, in addition to talking about the immune system and stress, explained that an immune system rev-up prevents a person from having deep sleep. Knowing I'm normal (that being sick often means sleeping less, despite being tired all the time) makes the phenomenon easier to take in stride.

So, I got up at 5:30 this morning; instead of wondering what I could possibly be doing awake at that hour on a weekend, I just went downstairs to get breakfast. Only to be confronted with the fact that most of my mugs were dirty, including all of my favorite ones. Like I had done many times over the past few days, I gazed despondently at the sink. This time, though, I didn't feel like I was going to suffocate or like my ears would explode. Wow, that was neat. So instead of turning my back on the kitchen sink, I walked up to it and did the dishes.

That's a bright spot in several days of poor productivity. Little things like that make feeling down not so, well, down. So, here's to feeling up!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Improved connection

For the past few weeks, I have been attending a communications class my employer sent me to. As a lifelong introvert, I was surprised when exercises during class showed that I have a problem with listening. Since that realization, I have been making a conscious effort to listen more attentively; it seems to be making small but cumulative and important differences in my interactions at work.

Last Wednesday evening, we went to synagogue to celebrate Yom Kippur. Part of the worship service was to ask the people around me for their forgiveness. The emotion this stirred up wasn't a feeling of forgiveness, really, but a connection with those people sitting around me. Having overcome my inner turmoil, I could pay attention to them, listen to them, feel a connection to them.

In retrospect, improving my relationships with those around me is definitely more rewarding than directing my focus inward. I'm glad the class and my religious practice are helping me to see and practice this truth.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Is this just assimilation?

I started going to the annual Rosh Hashannah services when I began dating the partner; last week was the ninth such service I've attended. Now, in a normal worship service, the rabbi says, "Turn to the people who surround you, the people to the left and to the right of you, the people in front and behind you, and wish them a Shabbot shalom" (a restful Sabbath). Not an instruction I ever wrestled with. But in the Rosh Hashannah service, the rabbi says, "Turn to the people who surround you... and wish them l'shana tovah" (happy new year). The entire time there was a little voice inside my head babbling, "Don't wish them a happy new year! New Year's isn't for another three months! It's not New Year's! Don't do this, you'll sound crazy!" I did it anyway.

Last week, the voice didn't make an appearance. I was so comfortable wishing people a happy New Year I even did it in the lobby before and after services. Is this a theological step for me? I'm not sure. Maybe it's just an example showing that if you repeat something often enough, you will start to believe it. Maybe by returning to this service year after year, I gave myself aversion therapy to my discomfort with this phrase.

But maybe it is a growth of my faith. This week is the Yom Kippur service (Day of Atonement). At Yom Kippur, the rabbi says, "Turn to the people who surround you, the people to the left and right of you, the people in front of an behind you, and ask for their forgiveness." Talk about awkward. But this year, I've experienced how the service can open my eyes to how my actions hurt others. And I attended a discussion group on the Jewish approach to forgiveness. I feel like I've studied and understand and agree with the reasons for this instruction. I think I will be comfortable asking my neighbors to forgive any wrongs I may have done to them, even unknowingly. And repetition doesn't explain this one: this will be only my third Yom Kippur service (as opposed to number nine for Rosh Hashannah).

Most of my life, I've been involved with but passive about religion. This whole looking forward to a major holiday service is a completely new (and positive) experience.

And to any readers I may have: for any wrongs I have done to you in the past year, for any hurts that I have caused, I am sorry. I apologize from the bottom of my heart. Will you forgive me?