blogging

Can I Just Be Honest?

As the High Holidays sneak closer, this time of year is one of introspection. A closer look, an uncovering of what I’ve safely kept hidden all year – the more difficult parts of life, and myself, that I’d rather not confront on a regular basis.

Every year, for the month before Rosh Hashonah begins, it is customary to listen to the shofar blow, a spiritual version of an alarm clock, a wake-up call to take stock of what counts. This year, we received a very real and cruel wake-up call.  When my cousin passed away, long before the world could afford to lose her, it was a harsh reminder that life is fragile and how easy it is to lose focus.
I’m a very passionate person. At times, I’ve even been told I’m too passionate.
But I have so many dreams, so many hopes for the future, so many ways we can be doing better as a nation, as educators, as people.
There are so many ways I can be doing better as me.
I know that I am not the best version of myself yet. I know there is so much more digging, so much more discovery to do – but do we ever really become our best selves? Is there ever a time that we can put down our tools, put our hands up and say “done”?
This Elul, this month leading up to Rosh Hashonah, has been one filled with lots of thinking, lots of looking within and facing some hard truths.
Why have I been putting certain things off?
Why do I hold back from doing certain things?
Why do I hold back from saying things that are difficult to say?
Why do I consistently and constantly allow for the things that don’t matter to get in the way of things that really do?
One thing my cousin Hindi was really good at was honesty.
How many times will I lie to myself before I realize that we only benefit from honesty, no matter how hard it seems at the time?
As much as I love to say that I love vulnerability, and sharing my deepest thoughts, I suffer too from the normal human condition of being terrified to open the door at times.
Because when we open doors, the world is allowed to judge what is within, and allowing people to judge our most inner selves is scary stuff.
But. Honesty. Ugh, honesty.
There is this moment in time, always, right before I say something I’m scared to say. It’s this moment in my mind in which I must make a decision – silence, or share?
Every time I choose the latter it’s like an adrenaline rush, as soon as I commit to being honest, to sharing what hurts, or what may be scary to say.
And want to know the truth?
I’ve never regretted it.
That fact alone should be enough to motivate me the next time, but each time it’s a fresh new battle.
Vulnerability and honesty are not easy. But they are the only things that keep us human.
If we can’t relate to each other, if we don’t know each others weaknesses as much as we know each other’s strengths, how can we connect on the level necessary for human connection?
Sometimes my honesty and openness makes others uncomfortable, and I apologize deeply if you have ever been on the receiving end of this.
But for as long as I live, I hope to never lose the ability to be vulnerable, and I pray that this is a year that each time I choose to open up, I lose a little bit of the fear that comes with it.
For we are all only human.
Life is fragile and comes with no guarantees.
Why should we hide? Why should we fear being real, when that is what we are all craving anyway?
We live in a world of edited realities – let’s not let that determine who we are.
I’ve had so many beautiful, raw, vulnerable conversations with people since the start of this blogging-for-a-year stint, and that has taught me that when you open a door, others will walk through it.
I hope to always be able to keep this door open, and I invite you all to open your own.
I’m not promising that it won’t scare the heck out of you.
It will.
But that’s the point.
This post is a kind of a mess, and I’m not sure if it all flows, but it’s what’s on my mind today, and this is me.
Here’s to a year of truth and honesty, and being unashamedly myself.
Here is to a year of not being afraid.
Blog Post: 49/52

Featured Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Watching the Pot

I’m a firm believer in G-d, but I often struggle with Him.

He has given us various ways to begin to feel the joy He feels.
He gave us artistic talents so that we can feel the joy of creating something beautiful, something awe-inspiring with our own hands.
He gave us words so that we can weave them together into stories, build universes, and create characters with extensive personalities.
He gave our bodies the miraculous ability to create and birth humans, allowing us to feel an unbreakable and impossible joy in their achievements and pain.
He gave us the ability to teach, inspire and care for others. He gave us the power to be the pavers of our own paths, to make choices every day, to build a life made up of so many various different activities and people.
He gave us the ability to believe that we are the masters of our own destiny.
He went so far as to take Himself out of the picture, to allow us to think that we are the ones creating the lives we have, forgetting that we are but characters in a storybook, a paintbrush in an artists hand, a body at the mercy of its mind.
To me, the reason He did all of this, despite the pain it must bring Him, is so that we can relate to Him. So that we could begin to imagine the magnitude of what He has done.
One who has never felt the joy of creating something all their own could not possibly understand how it aches to let it go, to allow others to criticize, adapt, and misunderstand their work.
G-d watches us do this each day, take His perfect handiwork and destroy it.
I constantly walk the tightrope of knowing that I’m not in charge, yet believing that I am. I constantly struggle to let go, to fall backward and allow life to happen to me, for the dangers of that seem to outweigh the benefits.
I watch the pot, achingly waiting for it to boil. I daydream and write my future story so clearly, I often worry I’ve ruined it for myself. I so desperately want to be the author of my own life, yet I am deeply aware that that would make for a terrifying reality.
I often wonder – what does G-d want from me?
Do I plant the seeds or do I stay away from the garden?
Do I raise the flame, or walk away from the kitchen?
Do I write in pen, or do I drop the pencil?
How do I find the balance between grabbing life by the horns, yet allowing life to follow its natural unfolding?
I take great joy in creating something new – a poem, a meal, a story.
I know that my abilities in creation are limited, much more limited than His.
Yet when I look at my life, and my heart aches to make life happen on my own, without waiting, without holding back, without watching the calendar turn pages, I turn to G-d and beg Him to allow me to hold the pencil.
Allow me to feel as if I am writing my story.
Allow Your plan and my dreams to collide, to leak into my life.
G-d, allow my dreams to come true.
For when they do, I’ll know without a doubt that I am only a character in Your story, only a sketch under Your pencil. I’ll know because only You know the intricacies of my brain, my soul, my heart. You handcraft my dreams just as You handcraft my reality.
You’ve given me the ability to create – now allow me the joy of taking life into my own hands and watching my dreams blossom from the seeds I plant, the water I boil, the life I live.
Blog Post: 47/52

Featured Photo by Kowit Phothisan on Unsplash

A Poem for Today

Tomorrow is when
the flowers bloom
The grass grows
The project ends
And the diet begins.

Tomorrow is when
things come easy
Dreams come true
Tasks get done
And life makes sense.

Tomorrow is when
I’ll write the poem
Start the book
Call the friend
And chase my dreams.

And one day
I’ll make tomorrow
Into today
And I’ll stop saying
Tomorrow.

And I’ll start
With writing this poem
On a day
In which there are no more tomorrows
To push today upon.

Blog post: 46/52

Featured photo via Unsplash.

Finding Time

Last week I wrote a blog post with my eyes half closed, forcing the words to come out, one after the other, in a way that made any sort of sense.

I wrote it, I published it in the last couple of hours of the week, and called it a day.
I didn’t share it on my facebook like I usually did. I didn’t attach a photo. I even forgot to write what number blog post it was.
I was really close to skipping it altogether. In fact, in my mind, I was already writing this weeks post, all about how I finally missed a week.
But my heart, my soul, my words wouldn’t let me cop out.
So, I put everything aside and got it done.
It wasn’t great. I wouldn’t even say it was good.
But sometimes, life demands everything you have.
Sometimes things get so busy that hobbies, projects, and pretty much anything selfish has to take a back burner for a while.
And I came really close to breaking my blogging streak. Before camp started, I could count on one hand how many times I’d skipped my daily morning prayers in the last 3 years. Since camp started, I don’t have enough fingers to count.
Sometimes, life demands everything you have.
But I didn’t want it to take this.
I’ve been blogging weekly for 43 weeks now.
In a big way, it’s selfish. I don’t expect anyone to care if I miss a week. I don’t expect anyone to care to hear my thoughts. So it’s pretty much entirely selfish.
But then, there are those times that my writing reaches a soul, and it transforms that piece of writing for me.
And this week, someone texted me after Shabbat to tell me that they were quite alarmed when they thought I had missed a week.
And my heart sang.
Because it is moments like that that assure me that I am not yelling into the abyss.
Yes, these blog posts are selfish.
I was so close to not writing one at all last week. My brain was too full of schedules and games, to-do lists and errands to find any creative words floating around.
But then, in the quiet night, I sat and I reflected and I wrote.
And it put everything into perspective.
I didn’t push that blog post, I didn’t share it on Facebook. Almost nobody saw it.
But I did. I reflected. I wrote. It put my exhausting week into order, it reminded me of what it was all for.
With just a week and a half left to camp, I will be able to give my blog more attention soon.
But for now, I couldn’t skip a week, because for one moment, I had to be selfish.
Blog Post: 44/52

Featured Photo via Google.

This Is Not A Blog Post

I’m not ready to put up the blog post I’ve been working on in bits and pieces this week. It’s not a complete thought yet, because I’m still living the thought out.

But I can’t not post this week.
I’m too far in.
I could technically skip it. It’s been a really really busy week. I’m away from home at the moment, traveling, visiting a world that is both old and new to me at the same time.
But I can’t yet share about it because it’s still processing and whirling around in my brain. There’s too much, and it’s unfolding in pieces.
So perhaps next week, when I’m settled back in my routine, it will make more sense. For now, I’ll share this.
Is it a cop out? Who knows. Honestly – who knows.
But in some ways, I’m on vacation this week, and while I never can separate myself from words, I’m going to give my brain a few minutes this week. Just a few minutes to collect itself, to decipher all the emotions coming through it, to unpack and restructure everything I’ve seen and all the conversations I’ve had.
So excuse me while I duck out just for this week.
I’m still writing a blog post, it’s just a really lame one. And I do apologize for that. With this post goes a little bit of my blogging dignity. But as much as I usually force myself to write even when I can’t, I have to respect the process if I ever want my words to work in the future.
So.
Next week, I’ll be back to regular programming. When the dust settles. When my emotions find their places. When my brain can slow down enough for me to hear all the words it’s trying to say.
Blog post: 36/52

I Have No Words.

Sometimes,
Writing is an escape,
A place to feel at home.
Sometimes,
Writing is a way to build,
Stories and poems,
Worlds that may not exist.
Sometimes,
Writing is communication,
A way to express
What is clogging my heart.
Sometimes –
Writing can take a moment,
A deep breath,
A bit of time off.
Writing can step back,
Have to be woken from its slumber,
When I must write.
But this week
I’ve been living,
Reading,
Loving.
Sometimes…
I don’t need words.
And words don’t need me.
But I made a promise.
52 weeks.
Whether words and I
Are together
Or taking a break.
So here.
Here are my words.
Sometimes,
it’s important to live
To be able to have
What to write.
Sometimes
Words must sit inside my heart
Before I can allow them to live
On paper.

 

Blog Post: 29/52

Featured Photo by Jelleke Vantoogeghm via Unsplash.

Where Blog Posts Go to Die

People often tell me I’m good at being vulnerable, but the truth is, I’m okay with anything I put out there.
To me, being vulnerable is opening up to what is truly fragile.
But perhaps that is just stupidity, and knowing what you should share and what you shouldn’t share is just maturity.
I’ve been struggling with this idea this week.
I wrote 4 blog posts this week.
Not one of them are fit to be shared, either because they’re too boring, too personal, or too controversial to unleash on my Facebook page.
Do you know how frustrating it is to write 4 blog posts and not want to share any of them?
I’ve always been a sharer – I’ve never been one to avoid sharing my feelings, not as a child, not as an adult. I’ve never been afraid of putting myself out there with my emotions. Trust me, I’ve put myself in some very vulnerable, embarrassing situations because I don’t believe in letting things stop you when you have something to say.
But these blog posts are not meant for the world, maybe just for now, or maybe for forever.
I tried a lot of things to produce a blog post this week.
I tried writing at different times of day, in different locations, all different forms of writing.
I sat in a coffee shop, with a coffee I didn’t even want to see if I could reproduce that famous coffee shop inspiration.
It’s time I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am not a coffee shop writer. It just doesn’t work for me.
But the point is, I’ve been working hard this week.
And it’s felt fruitless.
As I finished each blog post, I knew immediately it was not the post I was looking for.
And then, while I was walking back from the coffee shop, this line popped into my head.
“Where blog posts go to die.”
And I clung to that line, not knowing where it would go, not knowing if it meant anything.
And I got home, and I started writing.
And I decided- I’m going to honor each of this weeks failed blog posts by giving you one tiny excerpt from each:

1. And as I finish writing this, I know that I’m not going to share this because it is empty of thought and meaning. It is simply a rambling, and the level of ego I need to imagine that people should be reading my ramblings is not a level of ego I want to admit I have.

2. This attitude towards school has carried me through to my adult work life. I tried once explaining to someone that I am not capable of becoming a workaholic, of putting work before life.
She stared at me, puzzled.
“Without work, what is life?”

3. Each night, as I fall asleep, I remember all the mistakes I made, all the bad choices. I resolve to do better tomorrow – no, not better, to do it perfectly tomorrow.
I’ll wake up early, do a quick workout, eat a healthy breakfast, have an incredibly productive day, still have time to hang out with people I love, and most importantly, go to sleep earlier.

4. It is not something that is in my control.
I’ve berated myself, I’ve tried to remind myself time and time again that a watched pot never boils. But alas, I can not stop myself from thinking these thoughts.
Every wrong turn, every delayed train – heck, every train ride I’ve ever taken.

Perhaps one day these posts will be revitalized, fine-tuned and shared. Or maybe they won’t. Maybe they don’t need to. Maybe there are things I can tuck inside my notebook, keep inside my heart, and not share with the world.
Maybe these blog posts have lived and died, enough for me to open up my heart, let the words out, and close up the story.
I’m a writer. I love sharing.
But maybe not everything is meant to be shared.

Blog post: 19/52


Featured Photo by Jose Fontano via Unsplash.

Dear Old Me.

I have written a lot. I have an enormous collection of terrible writing. When you write something almost every day of your life, it starts to really build up. Recently, I sifted through my writings from twelfth grade. That year was one of the most transformative years of my life. I had the lowest of lows, and the highest of highs. As a result, the writings swing from seemingly depressed teenager, to exhilarated young adult.

It’s almost my birthday, which means I’m turning a new age. Every time I turn a new age, it’s only my responsibility to look back at my past and pat myself on the back. Or slap myself across the face. Depending if I have gotten further up the mountain or slipped back down from laziness. Not kidding though, the climb is hard.

Why wait until the day I turn 19 to look back though? My twelfth grade writings gave me an idea. There are plenty of people out there who are twelfth grade me. People going through a myriad of emotions. So, why not pull out some of the oldies and respond to them? Below is a poem I wrote when I found out I was rejected from a school that a lot of my friends were going to. At the time I convinced myself and everyone else that I didn’t care. That it was okay. Obviously, it was all meant to be.

But, and as I have grown this has become even more clear to me, pretending just hurts you and everyone else around you. It makes you feel guilty for feeling angry, and it makes others feel like they are doing something wrong when they feel upset about it happening to them. I wrote this poem at the time, and in it you can see the sheer fear I felt.

The day I was born
I had two arms around me
A crib
A carriage
Mothers arms
A baby seat
They all protected me
Held me close
Then my desk kept me
For 12 years.
I knew it would be there
It knew I was coming
And it never let me down.
There were always arms
A secure embrace
A place to be safe
My happy place.
Until today.
The net was pulled away
But I already jumped
Where will I fall?
Is this failure?
Or will I fly?

Dear Rejected Etti,

It hurts. Let it hurt. You tried your best, you went to that interview and please, you totally aced it. I know everyone is telling you this right now, and you want to punch them all in the face, but I need you to know that it’s true. This rejection is not about your qualifications.  But be angry at them. Please. They actually weren’t that nice to you at that interview, and you were anxious. You should have been accepted. You should have been one of the people who are celebrating today. You should have been. Because you deserve it, and the fact that you even applied to that school is a testament to your growth this year.

But, I need to tell you a secret. I’m future you. I know what happens next. I know what happens after you put that pen down. You won’t believe me, but I can promise you that it got so so much better. Because, a few weeks after this rejection, you chose a different school. A school that would allow you the freedom that you craved all four years of high school, but also a school that had incredible teachers who fed the desperate hunger of your soul.

The net was pulled away with that rejection, and yes, you already had jumped. You already had seen yourself on that plane across the ocean, heading to that school with all your friends. But I can promise you this- you flew. Well. First, you landed. You landed safely. With all the parachutes. But then, you ran fast and took off again. I can tell you with certainty that it was a bigger challenge and ultimate accomplishment to get yourself up and flying again than to free-fall and consider it flying.

I can’t share the whole story with you right now. You don’t need to know the whole story. You’ll learn it as you live it.

I just wanted to tell you that it turned out to be the best rejection you have ever received.

You won’t regret not getting the chance to go there. You will be grateful for the experience you had instead.

You will grow more than you could have ever imagined growing.

Sometimes the thing you need in life is to be terrified for a few minutes. To not be sure of where to go. To be forced to grab on to a lifeline. That lifeline might just be your way to the top.

I’m sorry for your pain that  you feel right now, Rejected Etti. It will hurt, and please let it hurt. But don’t lose belief in yourself. Because you are stronger than you think, and capable of more than you ever could have hoped.

Sincerely,

Your Future.

 

Irony

One, I’d like to say that the more you look at the word irony, the more you’re sure it’s definitely not a word.

But it’s important that it is the title of this post, because I can’t think of anything better.

I’d like to take a brief break from my school system rants to rant about something else.

I submitted something super deeply personal to a website. They said no thanks. I’m not angry that it got rejected, I just find it super ironic.

BECAUSE the post is about how whenever I write, it’s not meaningful, elegant beautiful essays that are always saying something.

The reason it was rejected is because it was too abstract, and didn’t mean enough.

C’mon, laugh with me.

So here it is, because the beauty of having a blog is when people say “please don’t put that in my face,” I get to put it in their face.

Here goes:

I have never identified myself as a writer.

People ask me all the time “So you’re a writer?”
I always say “Well, I like to write”
It might just be a confidence thing. Maybe I just need to grow up. If I like writing, and I want to write all the time, maybe I should just assume the title.
But it doesn’t feel right.
I am not a writer.
I don’t know how to write.
I have terrible grammar. I forced my English teachers to take my papers without an outline, because I don’t know how to write an outline.
I don’t write outlines.
My words don’t wait to be organized, or proper, or in the right places.
 Sometimes they don’t even give me the pleasure of showing up to my party. I’ve been stood up by words. It hurts.
I am not the owner of what I write. I don’t write.
I express.
I open a door and let whatever wants to come out, come out.
I am not a writer.
I am a struggler.
I am a fighter.
I am a worrier, and a little bit of a warrior.
I am a climber, and a crier, a dreamer and a skeptic.
People say to always look up.
I’m always looking down. Or looking too high, so all I see is just how far I am from my goal.
I want to live on a farm and home school my kids, but I can’t even motivate myself to go do something some days.
I am a human.
I am faulty, and broken.
I am loving, and searching.
I am not a writer.
I can not be elegant, or beautiful. I am too loud and too much, I get headaches from my thoughts sometimes.
I am not saying all this to earn a compliment, or a pat on the back. I am not writing this to be told that I am, in truth, a writer, and I will go far.
I am saying this because these are the words inside of me, these are the words that are angry at me for trying so hard.
These are the words that want me to stop trying to be what I think I should be.
They want me to stop trying to fix the girl in the mirror.
They want me to unclench my fists, to open my fingers a little and let myself in.
I write. I write. I write.
I am not a writer.
When I was a kid, after getting patted on the back by a few much older grown ups, I asked my mother “I don’t get it. I’m not doing anything except for putting words next to each other. Everyone can do that”
She shook her head and laughed and said “No, not everyone can”
As a child, I thought I was writing. When people asked what I’m going to do when I grow up, I said I want to be a writer.
It is not writing that gives me such solace though. It is not writing that I turn to at 9 am and 3 am.
It is my heart.
I open the door a crack.
I let the struggle come out and write itself into a poem, a story, a novel.
I let the happiness dance across my phone, my notebook, my desk.
Sometimes I share.
Sometimes I fold the paper into a tiny square and tuck it back inside where it came from, because it’s not ready yet. I’m not ready yet.
I’ll never be beautiful.
I’ll never be perfect.
I will never be not struggling.
Maybe I will live on a farm and home school my children.
Maybe I will live in the city and send them to the nearest school.
Who can know?
I’ll never be a writer though.
To be a writer, I would have to follow the rules of the writing world- a place that every time you write, you mean something.
You say something important, and heart-warming, and game-changing.
I can’t follow those rules, because my words don’t know how to move under my command.
They move with me, they can only write what is inside my heart, and sometimes what is in there is only selfish, and full of self-doubt instead of letting itself feel for others.
When I began writing this, I didn’t know where my words would take me.
I’m not at the end, this can never end, because as long as my heart is beating, it will have words it wants to say.
I’ll never be a writer.
I may author novels, and write poems under the stars, or write non-sensical blog posts twice a week for the rest of my life.
I’ll never be a writer, but I’ll always be writing.
I am not a writer. I am a human who is searching and I am a human who is finding, and I am finding myself between the words.

Let’s Talk About: Words

I blog. I’m not a blogger- it’s not my life. I work too. But I definitely blog. I barrage your facebook feed with posts. You know what I’m talking about.

I write.
You read.
We all move on.
Honestly, it reminds me too much of real life.
I talk.
People listen.
People talk.
I listen.
We move on.
Talking is nothing. Talking is useless, when it’s not followed up by action. When it’s not followed by discussion that results in change.
I talk about all kinds of things on here. Mostly about myself, and therefore I should be the only one who has to change.
But.
I want to try to make this a little more about the action and a little less about the talking.
I try to post something at least once or twice a week. Last week, I posted 3 things, because I just had that much to say. Sorry. Two weeks ago, I almost posted nothing. It was just that kind of week.
Ideally, I’d like to post twice a week.
But I don’t want this blog to be just a place for me to vent all my feelings, and then receive your support (which I very much appreciate!)
There are SO many things that I see in my life, and in others lives, that can be changed.
I want to change the world, and I’m starting to realize that to do that, it takes a lot of little actions done by a lot of “little” people.
So those big things I hate in life, can actually be changed, slowly. With all the incredible people that are in my life, and my friends lives, and my friends friends lives- isn’t that how facebook works?
I want to start posting, once a week, a post titled Let’s Talk About: ____.
Then, I beg you. Don’t just like it. Don’t just tell me you liked how it was written. (Although, you can still do those things)
Join the conversation.
Help make change.
Whether it be on facebook, or directly on my blog, help get things moving in the right direction.
You can say your opinion.
You can give ideas on how to create a better world.
Just give of you. Make this a little less of me talking, and you listening. Let’s not stop at the talking.
Let’s practice.
The  first topic I want to talk about is something that I find so often. It comes from all kinds of unlikely sources- people who have lived sixty years, to twelve year olds who don’t understand what they are saying.
I’m talking about that ridiculous habit of saying things like:
“She’s so schizo”
“He’s, like, bi-polar or something”
“That’s retarded!”
You get the point.
Why do people do that?
Why?
Unless you are a mental health doctor, please don’t diagnose people with very real and very serious mental health conditions.
Whenever I ask people to stop using those words while in conversation with them, I always get a roll of the eyes.
“You know what I mean”
Um, no I don’t.
Are you trying to say that your teacher suffers from a severe psychological condition and that is what causes her to give you extra homework?
Are you trying to say that your co-worker has manic, restless highs and depressive, listless lows? Or are you trying to say that he was angry when his coffee spilled after coming in to work with a big smile? Yes, I googled it, because I care to not mis-speak about something that is extremely serious. 
And are we really still using the word retarded?
Talking about this might not change the world. But it might make anyone who reads it think twice before using words like this.
They don’t mean what you are trying to say. There are millions of words in the English language. Use some other ones instead.
If we can all remind ourselves to think twice, maybe we can create a kinder world. A more thoughtful world. 
Start a conversation about this with someone who uses those words frequently.
Next time you use them in a conversation, or hear someone else use them, don’t ignore it. Talk about it. Encourage other people to stop using them.
Think of the people you are talking about, and think of the people that actually in reality do deal with those issues on a day to day basis.
Let’s start being better people.
We can do it.
Share in the comments why or why not you think this is an issue in today’s world, and how you think we can make a real change.
I look forward to changing the world with you.
PS. If you or anyone you know has access to high quality filming equipment, or you want to join me on a social experimental adventure, contact me: ettikrinsky@gmail.com