Counting the Omer

As the sky fades and the second day of Passover begins, so the counting of the omer begins. I have been hard at work making the little omer books I share with friends and family who join me in this spiritual practice that I have come to love.

I do not know where this year's omer practice will take me, but for now, I am simply trying to get started with the practice that I hope to continue through the next 49 days.

When I tried to think of what kind of image best represents Chesed shebe Chesed or the lovingkindness within lovingkindness, the first thing that popped into my head was my two boys together. I feel so much love for them both, and I love to watch them interacting, enjoying each other's company. 

This image is especially dear because they are sitting on the love seat that came from my grandparents' home. My sister and I too loved to sit on this loveseat, and my grandparents fully embodied chesed in the way they made me feel so very loved.

16 Nissan 5774 * April 15, 2014 * Omer Day 1


It felt good to take a little break from this space after the intense process of writing daily in October. As it happens, this evening also marks the beginning of the new Hebrew month of Kislev, so the calendar gave me a seamless return to the Jewish calendar for the next chapter in this sabbatical. 

One morning last week, I awoke with an unbidden thought: what if I write next about my trip to Eastern Europe in the summer of 1990? It is another life-changing event in my life that I have not yet taken the time to curate for myself. It was a long time ago, and I didn't write much about it at the time, but I did take one or two rolls of film, so I have some sort of jumping off point. 

I don't have a clear vision of where this topic will take me, but I am excited by the idea. It is likely to provide a nice bridge to some of the explorations about my ancestors that I am interested in doing, and maybe it will also provide a bridge to a future trip back to Eastern Europe that I would love to take in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, I am also feeling a strong pull to get back to creating art on a somewhat regular basis. Especially with all this writing about memories, I'm finding that I need to do something to ground myself in the here and now. (In that spirit, I include some images from this past week.)

My idea for the month of Kislev (and perhaps Tevet) is to alternate between writing about the trip, and related topics, and making some kind of artwork. I am thinking that I wil try to produce/create something six days a week, and return to taking a proper Shabbat on the seventh. I am not sure yet if that means I will have three or six posts a week, or something else entirely. Stay tuned!

1 Kislev 5774 

31 Days of Curating: In Loving Memory

In October, I am joining the Nester's 31 Days, an invitation to write on one topic for 31 days. Last year, I participated from the sidelines, writing each day about my morning blessings practice (I may yet make those posts public). This year I am taking the leap of joining in properly. Go here to see all the other bloggers participating.

When I considered what topic I might choose this year, I immediately thought of my desire to "curate" the collection of art that I made during my pregnancy with Halia Hope and in the aftermath of her stillbirth. She was due in October 2010 so it seems fitting to devote an October practice to her. I am hoping that by taking this time to explore what I created then, I can share some of my journey of grief and hope. 

I will be updating this post with links to each of the posts in the series, as they are completed (see below).


26 Tishrei 5774

Day 1: Blue Portrait

Day 2: Two Watercolors

Day 3: Holding 

Day 4: Today 

Day 5: Five Generations 

Day 6: Mesmerizing Water 

Day 7: Resting Places 

Day 8: Emergence and Return 

Day 9: Eagle 

Day 10: Soothing Piano

Day 11: Early May Blessings 

Day 12: Passover and Floods

Day 13: Moving Memories 

Day 14: Sesame Seeds 

Day 15: Haida 

Day 16: Space in the Middle 

Day 17: Spotting 

Day 18: Shattering 

Day 19: Trust 

Day 20: Premonition 

Day 21: Getting Real

Day 22: Together 

Day 23: Summer Solstice 

Day 24: Halia Hope 

Day 25:  Burial

Day 26:  Suchness in the Vastness

Day 27: Daring to Survive

Day 28: Mikvah 

Day 29:  Space

Day 30:  Kol Nidre

Day 31: Due Date 

A New Year and a Sabbatical Begins

L'Shanah Tovah! Happy New Year! It's 5774! 

And so my sabbatical year begins.

The Elul warm-up has come to an end, I celebrated two spacious and meaningful days of Rosh Hashanah followed by a lovely Shabbat, and now it's time for me to plunge in. 

I hope to structure my sabbatical loosely around the Hebrew calendar. (I also have a theme planned for October, just to mix things up.)  My plan is to have three layers to my sabbatical journey:

1) Daily Practice: I'd like to set some time aside each day for a variety of practices that give me a chance to reflect, create, and allow this journey to unfold (e.g. walks, collages or other art making, meditation, prayer, writing). I already began with posting my daily Elul practice, and hope to continue with something along those lines throughout the year, with a theme or intention for each month.

2) Projects: a number of projects have sat on the back burner for far too long (photo albums, scrapbooks, and long-promised handmade gifts top the list). Not only do I think I will enjoy working on them, but I also anticipate that I will feel much freer when I no longer have them hanging over my head. When my work schedule slows down starting in October, I hope to be able to devote one day a week to work on these projects.  

3) Home: I plan to focus on one room each month with the intention of decluttering and generally making our home more livable and presentable. I am starting with our newly reconfigured office.

Last week I sat down with a calendar and attempted to sketch out the year ahead. Much of it fell easily into place, but I never did manage to set a theme for Tishrei, the month that just began. And a week later, I still don't have one. So maybe, that is this month's theme:

Be Open, Something Will Surely Present Itself

A large mushroom spotted on a walk this afternoon.

A large mushroom spotted on a walk this afternoon.

3 Tishrei 5774 


Here on Rosh Chodesh Elul, I am beginning what I hope will be a sabbatical journey. My semi-sabbatical from my day job will not begin until at least October, but it feels right to begin this journey with Elul, a month designated as a warm up to the High Holidays, to a new year.

I will start by participating in #BlogElul daily during the month of Elul. BlogElul is the creation of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer at Ima (on and off) the Bima, who offers one-word prompts for each of the 29 days in Elul and invites our response in different formats on-line (see the graphic below.)


 I stumbled upon BlogElul last year and was quite delighted to find a process that I happened to already be engaging in (more on that in a future post). Last year it was all contained in a little journal, but this year I am summoning some courage and intend to publish my daily entries here. 

Journaling Elul in 5773 (2012)

Journaling Elul in 5773 (2012)

Elul 1: Prepare

Elul 2:  Act

Elul 3: Bless 

Elul 4:  Accept

Elul 5: Know 

Elul 6: Do

Elul 7: Be

Elul 8: Believe

Elul 9: Hear 

Elul 10: See

Elul 11: Count

Elul 12: Trust

Elul 13: Forgive

Elul 14: Remember

Elul 15: Learn

Elul 16: Change

Elul 17: Awaken

Elul 18: Pray

Elul 19: Ask

Elul 20: Judge

Elul 21: Change

Elul 22: Dare

Elul 23: Love

Elul 24: End

Elul 25: Begin

Elul 26: Hope

Elul 27: Intend

Elul 28: Give

Elul 29: Return