blogging

An Ode to NYC

Over the last few weeks, my words have been stagnant. Unavailable, I should say.

I’ve had ideas, yet their formation was distant, just slightly out of reach.
It took approximately 45 seconds on the subway for my words to come rushing back, fighting to be heard and written and that’s why I’m standing in a subway car, writing.
This city is magic.
It usually smells bad, it’s overcrowded, it’s nearly impossible to get anywhere by car, and there’s only a few days a year that the weather is pleasant enough to actually enjoy the entire experience of walking down the street.
But man, what it gives in place of all the above is pure magic.
It’s a city that never sleeps, meaning people don’t stop doing. People spend less time dreaming and more time exploring, demanding and making things happen.
Today, I overheard a woman talking about climate change and it threw me for a loop – I was shaken by how much we share this world, how much we intake all the same images and words and messages, and we all live our lives so, so similarly.
Oh man, this city is magic.
Today, the fog covered all the tops of the buildings, almost begging me to just focus on the here and now. I couldn’t see the soaring sky scrapers, I could only see the people who walked near me, on ground level.
I’m obsessed with the way that I’ve lived here for 7 years, and I know my way around, yet I’ll never stop finding new treasures, new ways, new adventures.
What could be more inspiring than sharing a city with thousands of souls, all sharing this city that has stories etched into every stone, a city in which every path is so beaten it’s already new again.
I’m in love – in love with a city that keeps giving me reasons to smile, that promises to never be boring or slow or tired. It promises to show up when I seek inspiration, when I seek different and unique and excitement.
And I know, I know one day I’ll leave this place behind, for another lover – a quieter world in which I can once again hear myself think. Expansive space in which my imaginary children can run and not get hit by cars or kidnapped by strangers. Somewhere I don’t silently curse all the way home from the supermarket, the bags not digging into my palms, because I’d be driving  and they’d be in the trunk.
But that’s tomorrow, and today is today, and the fog told me to stop trying to peek at what else is out there, what might be next, what else can I find.
Today, I still have a wealth of adventures and treasures, a world far from completely explored, new alleyways and tiny bookshops, people to observe, these busy streets are waiting for me to hurry down them, and watch, and write, and learn, and write.
Because man. This is a city of magic.

25/52.

Bare Feet

What is it about an airport,

that everyone’s soul shines through?

I see it through the little holes in their socks,

and their bare feet at security.

Who doesn’t think to wear socks on airport day?

I see it through their sweet voices,

explaining to their five-year-old,

why must we go through this security line –

“to check if anyone has snakes or spiders in their bags, dear”

I can see a world in which that is why we must all bare our feet

for TSA to peek through our shoes

and find our secrets.

I can see the soul in the woman whom I’m begging

to switch my middle seat to an aisle seat,

I see her long day, her long future,

I’m tired, but so is she, and I am not the first, nor the last, to beg her for something that is not in her control.

I see the soul in the man who sits beside me,

who talks about the old days

when corporate airlines didn’t charge for hot meals

and headphones.

I smile at him and I reach out to buy some headphones because I’m not doing this middle seat flight solo. 

What is it about airports?

They say airports are a no-mans-land, no country can claim it, and perhaps that’s what it is.

None of us are home, yet none of us are lost, we are all in between the beginning and end of a journey.

And we’re in our socks.

For some of us, it’s bare feet.

And we all hope there are no snakes in someone else’s bag.

 

 

19/52.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Chasing Happy

Not too long ago, I was catching up with someone I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

As I finished bringing her up to speed about where I was in my life these days, she remarked: “You sound so happy.”

The statement startled me.

While attempting to attain happiness was no strange concept to me, someone letting me know that I was happy was a little unsettling.

After a moment or two of silence, I looked back at her, and while grasping it in my mind at the same time, I replied:

“I…am. I am happy. Thank G-d.”

I’ve been thinking about this non-incident ever since.

Am I happy?

What is happiness, really?

This is a concept I’ve grappled with in my mind for probably as long as I’ve been able to grasp that happiness was more than getting the lollipop I wanted (don’t worry, I still get confused.)

My life has been filled with ups and downs, learning and disillusion, mistakes and triumphs, as I walked my slow but steady path towards where I was headed. For a long time, I was very confused about where I was headed, career-wise. I tried all kinds of different things.

Friends and family laughed as I made self-deprecating jokes about being a quitter, about conveniently leaving jobs just in time for summer break, about how I’m a millennial who is just lazy and wants to do nothing and get paid for it.

But really, what was happening is that I tried new jobs to find a depth of happiness, and time and time again, my job was doing the opposite of bringing me happiness – it was dragging me down, silencing my creativity or leaving me completely unfulfilled.

Am I happy?

I certainly do not always feel happy. There are days that I wake up tired, stressed and anxious. Lack of sleep, an awkward interaction, missing a good meal, having too much or too little of a social life – all of these things seem to impact my day-to-day happiness on a much larger scale than anything else I’m doing with my life.

There are bad weeks and good weeks, there are painful experiences and joyful experiences, and these are all extremely intertwined on a daily basis.

There are days that I want to hurl heavy, hurtful things at G-d, stomp my feet and yell as loud as I possibly can, because I’m just so mad at Him.

Do all of these things mean that I am not happy?

I’ve often allowed myself to believe that.

When I’ve woken up in a bad mood, I have allowed that bad mood to control my day, because I was obviously just not happy. Why try to fight something that is not in my control? I’m not happy, why try to be?

Once, during a conversation with a close friend about happiness, sadness and all that comes in between, I mentioned something of that nature. I said, “I don’t feel like I control my moods, it all depends on how I wake up.”

She laughed, startling me, and refused to accept that that was the truth.

I took her laughter as a challenge, and the next time I woke up in a bad mood, I did all I could in my power to fight it, and transform that mood.

I succeeded.

The next time I woke up in a bad mood, I tried it again, with the memory of my prior success giving me confidence.

I failed.

Because there is no absolute path to happiness.

Because I’m learning that happiness does not mean that we don’t cry, that we don’t have bad days, that we don’t fight or say stupid things. Happiness does not mean that we have everything we could need or want, that everything is working in our favor, or that the sun is shining brightly.

True happiness is so much deeper, and I’ve finally begun to really understand that.

I want to say that true happiness comes from having a job you love, or being surrounded by people who love you, but these are privileged things to say. These are things that bring me happiness, but are often not possible for others to achieve, for various reasons. I have barely yet lived my life, and I am not foolish to think that I have dealt with life’s most painful challenges, and maintained my happiness through them. I have experienced pain, but in no way that compares to the level of pain that others have, thank G-d. So I feel cruel to claim that I have the key to happiness, because I most certainly do not. But, I will share the one thing that I have discovered that has brought me happiness, that I hope all can have as well.

It is an awareness that I try to sharpen every, single, day of my life:

I am not the most important person in my world.

Are you laughing? Maybe you’re saying “are you kidding, you absolute child? Obviously you aren’t, you spoiled, privileged, little girl.”

Did you say that? If yes, that’s okay. I get it. It seems like an incredibly simple concept that literally everyone should be aware of.

Yet, it is the single most powerful contributor to my happiness.

I am not the most important person in my world.

How does that practically make a mark on my happiness?

It reminds me that my job on earth is to give.

I have been given skills, gifts, and opportunities that are for me to use to make this world a better place.

It has allowed me to build a strong relationship with my G-d, even when I want to hurt Him with all my might. It has allowed my ego to step aside, even for just a few minutes each day, and recognize that it’s not about me. This world is so much bigger than I am, and it is filled with incredible, unique individuals, and I am a part of the tapestry. I have an important role to fill, and nobody else can replace me – but my contribution to this world is much more valuable than my happiness.

You may say that is the path to negative thoughts of oneself, but I’ve found it to be quite the contrary – it has made me value myself in a whole new way and keeps my perspective on how I can give, rather than in which ways I can take.

And I am happy.

Are there things that I really, really want?

Are there things that I believe I need, and that I don’t have?

Are there moments in which I collapse from the pain that life brings?

Are there nights and days that I wonder about my future, afraid?

The answer to all of these is a resounding yes.

Yet, I am grateful to G-d that He has allowed me to feel happiness in my core.

Like everything good, happiness too, comes from good old-fashioned hard work, quite conflicting with the path to happiness that we are often fed in modern day media.

Perhaps, to be happy is our generations greatest struggle.

But is it achievable?

Yes. Without a doubt: yes, it is.

 

 

Disclaimer:

This entire piece was written with the idea that what is stopping someone from attaining happiness are mindsets that they have control over. If you are struggling with depression or severe anxiety, please seek the assistance of a trained therapist or speak to your doctor. Speak to someone, reach out, and ask for help. Happiness is achievable for you too.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741, or call the suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255

You don’t have to do this alone.

2/52.


Featured Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

52/52.

All year, I fantasized about writing this post.

The last post.
I thought about which direction I’d take it, the options being quite endless.
For a while, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to reveal a brand new project, something exciting. Alas, no project has been underway that is ready for reveal this week.
It took until this week, the actual completion of the 52 posts, to realize exactly what I want to say.
In honor of the last 52 posts, I’d like to take a few steps back, back to the very beginning of this blog.
The truth is, it began as a Tumblr account back when I was in 10th grade.
I came upon the name ThisPublicDiary rather accidentally. I had been wracking my head for an idea, something creative, something that represented me and my words.
I chose HerPublicDiary. That was already taken as a Tumblr username.
I wrote at first anonymously, but then, always a sharer at heart, the identity behind the account was revealed slowly but surely.
In twelfth grade, my brother asked me why I don’t just start a real blog.
Thus – ThisPublicDiary.com was born.
When I chose the name, I didn’t quite know how accurate the title of my blog would be. But when I read back into my old writing, my newer writing, I’m amazed at how much of a public diary it is.
From those very first posts up until the post last week, I have bared my heart and my soul on this platform, leaving a trail of markable growth behind me.
The last 52 posts have been a journey all of their own.
When I embarked on my year of writing, I was about to step into a classroom as a teacher for the very first time, and I was 100% terrified.
I needed to prove to myself that I could work hard at something I committed to. I had to prove to myself that I could write even when I didn’t feel like it. I had to prove to myself that I could be absolutely and completely vulnerable and let the world take me as I am.
I did it, folks, I did it.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I stepped into a classroom again, for my second year as a teacher, and I felt the strength of my 50 posts behind me, my incredible year of proving myself wrong, and I did it. The nerves were there – change is always scary, but the nerves were completely different. I had proven I could do this. It was a whole different story from the year before.
This past year, so, so much has happened, so many milestones met, milestones that had weighed on me for so long.
I also traveled to Europe for the first time.
I’m also back in school now, having finally focused what exactly I want to do, and finally being ready to do what it takes to get there.
I’m a passionate person, you know this. I have ideas and plans and all kinds of opinions, and at times I’ve feared I’m all talk, and no do.
This year, I discovered I can also be a do-er. It doesn’t always come easily, but I can do it, and knowing that only propels me further into my future.
This past year, I did some really scary things.
I learned that in a million ways, I’d rather wear my heart on my sleeve than keep it locked up.
And that I sincerely hope I can help others trust this world enough to wear it on their sleeves too.
And I still dream of a world that is trustworthy enough for them to do so.
I’ve had some really, really good days.
And some really, really, really bad ones.
I’ve always known life could hurt, but man, have I learned that life hurts.
But on the flip side, man, have I learned about joy, about goodness, about true, raw kindness and connection.
So, what’s next?
What’s next for me, what’s next for ThisPublicDiary?
I don’t know what comes next for me, that’s hardly in my control.
And what comes next for this blog is largely in your hands, dear readers.
For the past year, I’ve selfishly handed you whatever I wanted. There were a couple times that my posts were so bad I found myself really, really close to just deleting it.
The entire year, the whole project was almost entirely selfish – I made a commitment, I wanted to keep it, I needed to keep it, and so I gave.
The weeks you read, my writing had so much purpose.
The weeks you didn’t, less so.
But the year is over.
This past year, I put myself first in a lot of ways.
I needed to. The things I got done, the things I accomplished, they required my full focus and selfishness.
And now…I want this blog to be less about me, and more about you.
Don’t worry – I’ll never stop being ridiculously vulnerable.
But I want to give you better quality content.
I don’t want to write for the sake of writing, not here. I’ll do that on my own personal time.
I want to know what you want to see from me.
It’ll mean probably no weekly posts. I hope to upkeep a certain sense of consistency, but my priority will be quality.
Like I tell my creative writing students – first you have to wring yourself out, get to know the real, raw parts of yourself. Then, you can think about your audience.
This past year, I turned myself inside out, I analyzed the depths of me.
This past year I’ve written short stories, poetry, vignettes and endless ramblings.
What do you like best?
I’m ready to focus on my audience.
At the risk of sounding completely ego-centric (although I hope you know confidently that I don’t mean it that way,) I have a request: If you have ever considered reaching out to me for any reason, please do.
If you liked what I wrote, if you didn’t, if you related, if you found it ludicrous, I want to hear from you. If you wished I wrote more about a certain topic or in a specific style, please tell me. If nothing else, I want this blog to foster human connection, and inspire honesty and vulnerability in all of us.
Here’s to a new year.
Here’s to a year of new connections, new friends and new experiences.
Here’s to a year of quality content, honest writing, and new stories being written.
Here’s to a year of ThisPublicDiary being not only mine, but yours too.
Here’s to a year of maintaining the balance of inward and outward.
 Here’s to a year of ThisPublicDiary: Scene 2.
blank
blank
blank

Blog Post: 52/52!


Featured Photo via Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

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.