The Background

On September 11th, 2017 I decided to write a blog post every week.

It’s been 26 weeks since, and I haven’t yet missed a week. Halfway – and going strong.
I’ve really liked some of them. Whether it felt like I was finally expressing a deep truth I’ve wanted to express for a long time, or whether those who read it reached out in a variety of ways to let me know what it meant to them, some of my blog posts had a real impact on me.
Some of them kind of floated by. There were a couple of weeks I toyed with the idea of skipping it, because why write when you don’t feel it? Why write when there is nothing to write about? Is putting my random words out there more important than putting something of quality out there?
But at the end of each week, my commitment won out. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to commitments – once I make em, I can’t break em. I get a thrill out of keeping to them. That part of my personality has it’s pro’s and con’s but that’s not what this is about.
That’s really just to explain why even if all my posts haven’t been of the greatest quality, I’ve still been sharing them.
This week, I closed up a short story unit with my students.
We’ve been working on it for a long time because, in comparison to poetry, flaws in short stories shout a lot louder. It’s much harder to know when you are done, it’s much harder to fall in love with a story you crafted because you’re never sure if you did enough.
And my students were feeling that pressure. I could tell.
But this week, I looked at them and told them this week it was going to happen. They were going to finish their short stories.
As I write this, I’m waiting for the last few to submit them.
But so far, I couldn’t be more proud.
Writing a blog post every week has pushed me. It made me realize how similar my posts were. It pushed me to try my best to spice it up a little. That led me to write 3 short stories in the span of 6 months.
I had written about 3 short stories in my entire life before this October.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and bare with me because this post is a little bit of everything, a little bit of everywhere.
I’ve been thinking about growth – which you know from my last post.
I’ve been thinking about risks. Pushing limits. Trying new things. Allowing yourself to be who you are, truly, deeply and authentically. The kind of be yourself that shakes you and wakes you up and reminds you that you are meant for more, that you can be doing things that you never thought possible – as long as you reach inside of yourself and use the tools you’ve been given. I’ve been thinking about owning up to yourself, looking yourself in the eye.
I’ve been thinking about what I want out of this life, and how quickly the days are going by, and how until G-d slowly moves the puzzle pieces of my life into the picture I want, I have multitudes of blessings to work with. But I’ve also been thinking that I don’t have to be content with that – I can stomp my feet and ask for more, as long as all the while, I am thanking Him for what He’s given me.
I’ve always been a bit of a paradox. I’ve lived much of my life fearful of others thoughts and others minds, and the fact that I can’t see inside them.
Yet, I’ve also lived in an almost fearless way of not being afraid of telling others what I feel. Of reaching out, of putting myself in the deepest, most vulnerable spaces for the sake of something so much bigger and better.
I’ve been thinking about perfection. I’ve been thinking about how much I wish my writing was perfect, that I was perfect. Often, I find myself admiring other’s wonderful qualities and wishing for them – before I remind myself that just like dying my hair red, someone else’s best quality would sit oddly on me. And that life is not about being like others, it’s about being there for others in the best way we can be.
I’ve been thinking about my future, because I never stop thinking about my future, and how I spend each day looking for the rest of the characters to walk in at any moment.
I’ve been thinking about how I chopped my hair off, and in some twisted way, my hair knew that I needed something drastic to change before my heart truly admitted it.
I’ve been thinking about 21, and what it means, and how much it doesn’t mean.
I’ve been thinking about all of these things.
I’ve been reading my student’s stories and realizing that doing something that scares you is the deepest reward you can give yourself.
I’ve done things that scare me, and sometimes the result is obvious, the gain is immense.
Sometimes you do things that scare you, and the result is not obvious, and you can barely see any change, any gain.
But I’m realizing that every moment, every thought, every word, every day, despite how meaningless they often seem, are so so full of impact, so so full of development.
And as I make my small plans down here, G-d is shifting the big things up there.
And as I scheme and develop what I feel are big things down here, G-d is moving timelines and space to make my dreams come true.
I’ve written 26 blog posts since September.
Some of them, I could feel the words rush through me, their purpose clear.
Some of them I posted with some shame, some feeling of letting someone down, perhaps me most of all.
But I don’t think any of them were useless.
For they proved to me, if nothing else, that I can do it.
That it’s sometimes not about perfection, it’s not about being inspiring, or funny, or insightful, or writing the best post ever.
My students may not have all fallen in love with their short stories – but they wrote them, and you know what?
For me, for today, that’s what counts.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to remind myself that I only see one tiny sliver of the picture. And I know that in the deep part of my heart, but it’s much less accepted in the forefront of my brain. So when my blog post seems like it’s missing something – yet I post it anyway, and I make plans, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to follow them through, or I pray, and pray, and pray, yet it seems like I’m praying to a closed door – I am trying to remember that this is not everything. I don’t know everything. I never will.
And as I feel guilty for wanting more from life when I have so, so much, I am reminded that I don’t even know how much more I could have, and while it is foolish to feel ungrateful, it is useless to feel guilty.
And as I discover the impact of one moment months later I am reminded that I never know the background story of what is happening around me, and I am reminded that as I pray for G-d to write my story…

He is writing as fast as He can.

Blog Post: 26/52

Featured Photo courtesy of a birthday gift from a very thoughtful friend.

Getting Out Of My Way

Ambition, hard work, success. All these great, exciting words.

Why is it all so elusive?
Me and big ideas – we work really well in the honeymoon stage. New notebook, new pens, a plan. There is nothing more invigorating for me than the night before I plan to do something. In that moment, emotions are running high, I am so unbelievably motivated and excited.
Then, I wake up in the morning.
Suddenly, there is nothing less inspiring than whatever it is that I need to get done. In the moment that I decide I want to do something, I really truly do want to do it. When it comes to actually doing it, I look at the path I have to take to get there, and it’s riddled with pot holes. It is covered in anxiety and situations in which I will have to leap out of my comfort zone. It is filled with things I have no idea how to do.
That is when I lose my resolve.
It’s not that I want the end result any less, but the time, patience, and good old hard work it will take to get there makes it all seem much less glamorous.
In school, I was the master of getting away with things. I worked to make things easier for myself then, not realizing how much harder things would be later without the skill of working hard.
You know in the movies, when time is passing, years maybe, and the character is killing it? Working long hours to get the promotion, isolating themselves so that they can ace the test, etc. Movie-makers always put those scenes into a fast-paced montage, speeding through a lifetime of hard, hard work.
I always love those scenes. They’re so satisfying. They’re so fast.
Movies can not make rags-to-riches stories without these scenes because it is impossible for riches to come from rags without hard work.
Yet, they must make these scenes fast-paced and exciting – because hard work is ugly. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody wants to think about it.
I am privileged. I have everything I need. I have enough basic skills for me to hold down a job. I don’t suffer from any major physical or mental difficulties, thank G-d. I have a loving and supportive family. I have people who believe in me, people who love me, people who look out for me.
Yet, hard work is my biggest challenge. Persevering and pushing through, even when I am handed all the tools, is my biggest road block in achieving my goals.
Then there are those who have nothing that I have.
They build futures out of the sand, they craft homes out of dust. They keep going, they fight through the searing pain, the hot tears, and continuous crash of everything collapsing again and again. They stand back up and keep on going. 
I dream about being those people. The people who know that the end result is worth the mind-numbing tasks it takes to get there. The people who can continuously remind themselves of their goal, and how much they want it.
Dreaming is what I’m good at – action is my weakness.
Somehow, one of my big ideas became an accidental reality. I’ve always wanted to run some sort of creative writing club, the kind of club that I was lucky to be a part of in High School.
While speaking to a principal that I am thoroughly in awe of, I brought up that idea, and in a moment of bravery, asked if I could teach a creative writing elective in her school.
She said yes, and here I am, the day before my first class.
It is something that scares me like nothing else has ever scared me.
It has made me face myself in so many ways.
As I was working through some of the most important things I wanted to impart with my class, I came upon a big one.
Hard work.
I instantly felt like a total fraud.
I am being careful to teach only what I have been taught, and nothing more. I can only teach what I know deep inside of me.
Hard work just isn’t one of them.
Yet, teaching a creative writing class without explaining to my students the importance of hard work is also an impossibility.
So, I have only one more choice.
Learn how to work hard.
We are now in the month of Elul, approaching the month of Tishrei quickly. It is said that the month of Elul is an opportune time to reflect on the past year, on who you are as a person.
My last year was an interesting one, but without a doubt, I want this one to be even better. I want to be stronger, braver, smarter.
I will start by working on not being afraid of pushing myself.
Of course, I have a million ideas on how to do this, much of will never come to fruition.
But that’s the key – being aware of what I can actually accomplish.
Therefore, I will not promise to finally get into shape, publish a novel, or travel the world. Those are all things that I hope will be a part of my year in some ways, but can not be my one goal.
To prove to myself that I can work hard is something simple:
I will blog once a week. 
I’ve made that promise a million times to myself, but I’ve always broken it.
This is something I know that I can do with hard work and perseverance. I chose this goal for a few reasons:
1. It is exactly what I want to impart to my students: Writing is something that can come out of pure hard work. Waiting for the inspiration is lazy.
2. It is something I’ve wanted to prove to myself that I can do for years.
3. It will push me to write when I have nothing to say. Because when I have nothing external inspiring me to write, that is when I turn inwards and find a part of myself I never knew existed.
While I expect to learn a lot about life and a lot about writing from my students, I am glad to say that even before I’ve met them, they are pushing me to become the person I’ve always wanted to be.
Blog post: 1/52

Featured Image: Photo by Jared Erondu on Unsplash