Response to Is “the clock” ticking?

Thank you, everyone, for your comments and your stories. I love it that you are sharing and I hope that you will want to continue to respond with your stories, thoughts and feelings.

There are some common themes in our thoughts, it seems…strength, trust, faith.

We make the decision to follow a path…yes, that’s the first step. But the hardest part is actually then choosing to follow through. It’s hard to follow through because others will judge, we will face challenges, we will face the chain of decisions that follow the initial decision. We’ll probably face loneliness, if we’re going against the grain. We face doubts and then fears. And THAT’s when we need faith. One would hope to have faith in the path that they’ve chosen…faith that it is the right path and that it will bring fulfillment.

If we don’t have complete faith in the path, maybe we’ll have faith in ourselves, in our sense, to know when to turn back or fight on. If we don’t have faith in that, what is left? For the ones who are spiritually inclined, there is having faith in the universe…that the universe is a place of goodness and that it will conspire to help us on the path (The Alchemist).

The Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, has a message that I find helpful when I feel like I’ve lost faith (in almost everything). The key in life is to do your best, fight your hardest, get off the fence and be brave…but relinquish the fruits of the battle. The victory, the prize, even the success should not be the goal. The battle you forge, the Process, is where the growth lies. If you divorce yourself from the hunger for a specific fruit, a specific outcome, you make yourself an open vessel to be filled with endless possibilities.

We cannot control outcomes…this idea solidifies, I think, the older we get. We waste so much time and energy, chasing after castles in the sky.  My good friend Barbara always tells me, “Try, Shiva, for once, to explore living in the unknown.” We can’t imagine all that could be in store for us…if we would just let go and make room for those things to come.

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Is “the clock” ticking?

It’s always been interesting for me that of all the 613 mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah, only 3 (THREE!) are considered chovah, mandatory for a woman. The commandments are split up into to general categories, commandments that time restricted and commandments that are not. The Mishnah (the compilation of Jewish oral laws) explains that women are not required to fulfill laws that are time-restricted, and they may voluntarily choose to do the laws that are not time-restricted. This leniency is granted because of their constant demands, children, the household, etc. Requiring them to do all time-based laws would be unrealistic.

Isn’t it fascinating? For a gender that time is so much of the essence,  Judaism decided to give a break on exactly that issue? Women are not bound by time!

As I grow, as a woman, time is becoming more and more of an issue. What do I want to do with my life, when do I want a family, how will it all figure in, if I do this now how will I become successful, if i wait will I be able to have kids and raise them as I want to…it’s actually quite terrifying. I know people, friends and family who have gone through fertility issues, first and second marriages, first and second careers. Culture and society, obviously, play into this a lot. It’s more acceptable now to put off having kids, to pursue a career and make professional success a priority…but is it? I am sandwiched between modern culture and the modern orthodox (Jewish) culture. I would say that at least 50% of the people I went to high school with are married…and that is a conservative estimate. So am I late? According to a woman in our community I am; she once told me, “Nuu, come on, when I was your age (22 at the time) I had 2 kids!” Ehem…

Yeah, it’s a different generation, but different, in a big way, in that it is confused. Mixed messages are all around. Teen pregnancy, divorce, adoption, motherhood at 65, in-vitro at 25. We know we have options, but how can we hear our own voice over all the bantering, all the suggestions, all the PRESSURE?

It’s about perspective…objectivity to be precise. At the end of the day, time is an illusion. At best it is a social construct. “Norms” don’t entirely exist anymore, as far as I can see. I think as a woman who struggles with expectations, ambitions and guilt, the first and healthiest thing one can do is to just throw that clock away all together. It is a hindrance to creativity and a burden. We/I need to always remember that the world is wide and age is a number. This is not to say that one can just float like a dandelion seed  to wherever the wind blows. My point is that life is not about reaching checkpoints in a timely manner. It’s funny, that game “Life” that we play as kids is just like that. You get a job or go to college, you get married, you buy a house and have kids…but we need to remember, that’s just a game. It’s not the real thing. Forget the checkpoints. The only way to have peace of mind is to be efficient in whatever it is you are doing. Live. Whatever you are doing, do it with purpose, with mindfulness and with love.

Once in college I went to career guidance to talk about and plan graduate school. I came into college as a naive, sheltered (very sweet) observant girl from a religious high school. I asked the career counselor, “so how does all this figure in if I get married? How do people balance?” She gave me this funny look as if to say, “You got plans to get married, hunny?” And she said, “I…wouldn’t PLAN around marriage. You do your thing, and if something comes up like marriage, then you fit it around what you are doing.” It was SO incredibly important that I heard that piece of advice.

I think the moral and my message are first, as I said, throw out that old clock. It’s meaningless, a waste of time and causes the secretion of unnecessary stress hormones (bad for the skin). As a woman I know I need to be mindful that I am living for myself and not for a mold or a norm, imposed by others or even by myself.

Just look for a minute at the mystical aspect of things: The soul is timeless, isn’t it? So what is age? A number…not more. And we all have as much time as we want to have…we are as free as we allow ourselves to be.

Chag Shavuot Sameach :)

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my meaning of life

Hello, it’s such a pleasure to finally be here and to have the honor of your attention. This blog will be a place of exploration, at first for me, and for me it will always be that way. But my hope is that over time this will be a place for exploration for people who are also interested in the things that I have begun to explore.

At this point my aim with this blog and my interests are wide, which is a good thing…lots of food for thought. But here are some of the issues that move me and pushed me to seek a more expansive arena for my thoughts…

I want to learn more about women, women all over the world, their thoughts, their conditions, their convictions, their beliefs, their families, their hopes and dreams, both revealed and secret…the secrets which can be revealed and voiced here.

I want to find a way to connect to women in places where they may be disconnected from a global community. The objective is not to change a culture or a belief, the objective is to add to all of our collective understanding, to respect and build on what exists. If change will happen it can only happen from the inside-out.

I want this to be a place where questions can be asked and answered from life experiences, memories and answers that we hold in our hearts.

I want this to be a place to exchange ideas, and I want this to be a springboard from where we can be inspired to do little and big things to create a loving, healthy global community for women around the world. And this community is crucial, because after all, women nurture this planet, and if this planet has been lacking nurturance it is because the women haven’t been nurturing themselves enough. That will change :)

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