Friday, December 21, 2007


I approach this post with a sense of purpose, yet wondering if I'll be able to articulate it how I really feel it inside...

I've been thinking about this topic for years. It's been such a significant part of my conscious thought for so long that I don't think I can remember how or when it began to be so important to me. It's only just recently that I've begun to come terms with the entirety of it, but even now I feel like I'm missing something, and maybe someone reading this will have some insight for me.

Here goes....

For reasons I don't fully understand, I've noticed that I gravitate towards certain people. There are some that I'm drawn to, fascinated and intrigued by, so curious about, and I feel like I'm able to resonate with them better than with their peers. They are a riddle to me, and in a way they silently reach out, pleading to be understood, respected, and validated.

These people are those who have suffered. Whose souls have ached. Whose insides have been torn apart. Who have been through the dark and have emerged, sometimes broken, sometimes resolutely bolstered, to tell their stories.

So what is suffering, I ask? What is the defining line that determines who has suffered and who has merely been inconveneinced?

Obviously, there are multiple levels and facets of pain. There is no person alive who has never cried, who has never tasted the bitter tears of loss, never been burned or spurned or wounded. Even small suffering is painful, and thus marginally worthy of being called suffering.
But yet, not every pain can be called suffering, because (to my mind) suffering in it's complete form is something big, excruciating, impassably intolerable. What determines whether or not whatever a person has been through is considered suffering?

Every person has their own pain threshold, their own perception of how great their pain or discomfort is. None of us can ever understand how painful or pleasurable anyone else's feelings are, because we are too removed from eachothers' inner workings. Considering that fact, it is impossible to gauge or measure what we each individually feel on a communal scale. While that doesn't bother me per se, it makes me feel like perhaps I'm feeling things "wrong"... like as much as I can rate my feelings against the other feelings I've felt, maybe I'm interpreting them as different than they are, or they should be...

But it doesn't matter, really. What I feel has nothing to do with what you feel. I may feel strongly about something you don't, but that doesn't make either of us wrong. We are each right in our own contexts and situations. For years I couldn't understand this; for some reason I grew up thinking that there was a right reaction or feeling to every stimulus, and I became increasingly frustrated when I just couldn't find the universal response codes... Comparing myself to others simply made things worse for me because it set unrealistic expectations for my already too-high goal of self-perfection.

By now I've heard the responses more times than I can recall: Each of us is presented with the challenges we can surmount. We are given the tools we need, the resources and facilities to help us in our quest for Answers and Growth. Our struggles are tailor-made for each of us at the exact time and place they're presented to us. They stand at the exact midpoint of our ability to pass them, that very fine line between too difficult for us to pass and too easy for us to work hard enough. Our nekudas habechirah is programmed into our very beings by the One to Whom lies the Knowledge...

But I've also learned something that scares me.

We're told that if our current challenge seems too big, too hard, too impossible, we should rest assured realizing that we're only given what we can handle, and that big challenges indicate big people... He gives us only what we can surmount. All our current challenges and painful times are somewhere in that nekudas habechirah and somehow we have the tools and the abilities and the courage and the strenth to get through them and emerge stronger, better, more beautiful people.

The big people are faced with big problems. Big people can handle big problems. They are strong and brave and capable and will grow bigger and bigger....


But what about those people who are not tested with big challenges...? What about those who are not faced with death, illness, poverty, childlessness, unemployment, handicaps? Does that indicate that they are not strong enought to handle them? That they are...little....?

I suppose I should answer my own question with what I've already said. Each of our individual perceptions of our pain are subjective views that must not and cannot be compared to those of others. Big to me is not necessarily big for you, and vice versa. I cannot gauge my level of suffering based on others' experinces. After all, the Gemara details how merely reaching into one's pocket for change and retreiving the wrong amount is considered suffering, as is the need to have a garment rewoven because it was made too small.... But for some reason it's so difficult for me to accept that my challenges--whatever they happen to be at any given point--are real and big and hard... I need to see that whatever I am presented with now is a huge hurdle for me. ...Corner, these things are big! They're big...believe it...and they're meant for you to grow stronger, better and more beautiful......

And maybe that means I'm big...

For some reason I feel worse having written this. Sometimes blogging lets off steam, but now I think I just made things more tzefloigen in there. I'll post this anyway, though, because maybe someone will have something to say that will help clarify things to me a bit....or a lot....

Please comment :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


From inside the cave...
I am here because I want to be
But also because this is how things are
I am on my own
I cry out
A prayer.

With my voice I cry out, pleading.
Plaintively, distressed,

I declare, whisper the thoughts heavenward.
My spirit is faded, dampened
You know how hard this is for me...
They try to encroach me in peril, lay traps,
Making moving difficult
I want to grow
reach higher
but I can barely walk,
or breathe...

And my comrades...?
I look around,
see none.
Nobody able to help me out of this
Escape seems impossible it?

I have cried out
To You, O G-d
"You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living..."
Please, guide me onto the right path...
Please listen
Heed my muted voice
I have been brought so low...
Slipped, fell...
Rescue me from my demons
for I am so weak against them...

Release my soul from imprisonment
so that I may acknowledge Your name
I want so badly
to be crowned among the righteous ones
when You bestow Your kindness upon me...

The day will come when I will see it...
Until then
I will believe it

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tangle factor


"Hmmm...?" Absentmindedly. Busy reading a college textbook.

I hear thumps up the stairs. Must be Turtle.
"Hey, Corn," Sure enough, Turtle pops her curly brown head into the doorway. "You busy now?"

I gesture at the half-read chapter. "Sort of. What d'you need?"

She unceremoniously dumps a tangled mess onto my book. "Can you unknot this for me? I don't know why, but my necklaces always end up getting messed up."

A subtle thrill tingles through my body. Although I never fully understood why, untangling things has always appealed to me. I find it calming, theraputic, and immensely satisfying. I've watched others give up over facing the tiny metal knots, slippery chains, and painstaking patience and frustration tolerance it requires. Oddly enough, I'm not a particularly patient person, nor do I tolerate frustration too well, but I guess the combo of having the opportunity to use my hands in fine motor coordination and the challenge of a difficult task spurs me to tackle every knotted necklace chain I've ever been acquainted with.

Having deposited her job for me, Turtle goes back downstairs, her "Thank you, Corner!" brightly swishing up as she runs down. I smile to myself and push away the text to make more room for me to work.

I lean close to determine the tangle factor.

Ahhh...a difficult one...5 knots in 3 places, some quite large. Bless you, Turtle, you're a funny one. But good. Bring it on.

But it's harder than I'd thought. The knots are tight. Especailly the bigger ones. Each part of the chain loops around, over, under, through, tightly twining the knots to themselves. Each section of chain that I loosen ends up in turn tightening another one so that the knot just get harder to untangle. Hmmm.... There's gotta be some way to get this done...

Thus begins my lesson of the day.

We're continually faced with challenges. Sometimes we willingly accept them, while other times we try to put them off for as long as we can, but it's always our job and our right to try to meet those challenges that are presented to us.

We appraise the challenge. Look at it from all sides. Assess the damage and determine the tangle factor. And then we tackle it, in whichever form of tackling we choose to use.

And sometimes the tangle is worse than we'd thought. Tighter, trickier, harder to crack. We try to take things slowly, attempt to disentangle each section on its own to see what works, but sometimes that seems to make things worse. Frustration builds. We entertain the thought of giving up.

But...Hmmm..... There's gotta be some way to get this done...

Sighing, I put the knotted mess aside. I lean back in my chair and flex my cramped fingers.
When it comes to chains, I'm not easily deterred, but this one is simply impossible. I'd tried everything. All the tricks that worked the last time didn't work now. All the tried and true methods were failing me. I felt discouraged, frustrated.

But then it hit me.

It's supposed to be like that.
If each challenge contained the same difficulty level, there'd be no work involved. We wouldn't have to exert ourselves. We'd go through the motions and *poof*--problem solved. We wouldn't get frustrated. But.....we also wouldn't grow.

The challenges we're presented with are personally designed for us each time they're given. We are supposed to use some of the methods we'd learned from last time, and also some new methods that we need to make up specially for the new challenge at hand. Somehow, that proccess of coming up with novel ideas helps us develop into more complex and special people.

And we don't always need to do it alone. Sometimes we're allowed to call in professionals who can steer us in the right direction. There's no sin in taking a particularly stubborn knot to a jeweler if that's what will work best. But it's not okay to give up because that knot is too hard for us to handle by ourselves.

And sometimes all that's required of us is to put that knot aside for a little while. Rest our cramped fingers. Take a cleansing breath. We don't need to take care of everything in one day. I've learned the hard way that at times rushing will only make things worse. Steady, slow hands and a clear head are the only things that can work.

I breathe deeply. Look around the room. Notice the sun has traveled across the carpet to the doorway, filling the room with golden warmth. I walk to the window, stepping over some unfiled papers that are silently entreating me for attention. A little voice inside me soothes, "'s okay to take a little breather..." The trees outside are almost bare. Just a few sunny leaves still stubbornly clinging to the branches. Sunshine trees make me smile. I watch the last leaves, drinking in their vibrance like a thirsty child.

Feeling slightly more full inside, I turn back to the task at hand. The knots are still there. Running away from a problem never accomplishes anything.

I let out a breath. Turn on the desk lamp. Focus.

I pull a strand. Nope. Another. It gives, but not enough to come loose. I keep at it, methodically trying each exposed bit of chain, hoping to find the one that will release the rest.

And then,
I find it.
Slowly ease it out. Pulling, not too hard, but enough to make it slowly slip out, link by link.

And from there, other tangles come loose. New sections of chain are exposed, now ready to be worked on. The satisfying feeling creeps up. I can do it...I'm doing it...It's working...

Sometimes all we need is to take a little break. To pause for a moment, or an hour, or a day, or a few months, so that we can reflect and rejuvinate and come back to our challenge with renewed vigor.

Every challenge is designed to be overcome.

Every test is meant to be passed.

Come on, can do it... I can do it...

"Hey, Turtle! Come on up, I've gotten it out..."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ki li'olam chasdo...

Hodu laShem ki tov......


Sometimes I fail to see it
Sometimes I don't even try to see it
But it's there
Plainly staring me
in the face
If I sincerely want to see it...

He is good, so good...

I stand before Him
head bowed
I want to be good
I really want to change

He listens

He answers
Takes my hand and
so quietly that I only hear it inside
Look, mamaleh,
My child...
I love you more than you'll ever know...
I will hold you
Guide you
Show you
Forgive you....

You're never alone...

And I feel it

I am never alone
He is with me
Holding me
Guiding me
Showing me
Forgiving me

Loving me...

And granting me so much kindness
More than I'll ever know
More than I'll ever deserve...

Chasdei Hashem ki lo samnu,
ki lo chalu rachamav...

All scars fade. He is so good to me...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Eyes wide open

Every so often it suddenly occurs to me how amazingly awesome this world is.

I remember sitting in a high school classe hearing, "Girls, this world is a microcosm of the olam ha'elyon..." and although I understood the meaning of each individual word of the lesson then, I simply could not comprehend what exactly a microcosm was, let alone understanding it in relation to the Upper Worlds...

I still don't. Of course I understand what it means literally...but what does it mean that we live in a world that's a mini representation of another, higher world? Maybe it's not for us to understand--at least not in the way I'd like to understand it--but G-d has presented us with this concept here in our world so that we can learn something from it.

So what can we learn from it?

Here's one thing I was thinking of...

Just as the world we live in is a miniscule representation of the lofty one up there, our world contains within it smaller "worlds" through which we can better understand it; microcosms to better understand our own microcosm...

Everything in our world is designed with the capacity to assist us in our quest to become better avdei Hashem. There is something we can learn from every creature, every creation, every invention, every person, every situation. Fortunate are those who live life with their eyes wide open, drinking in every detail of the world around them, trying to glean lessons from every person, thing, and situation they encounter.

When I was about 15 years old in camp one summer, our shiur division head posed a challenge to us; she asked that we come in to shiur the next day with as many lessons we can learn from the mundane things around us. The next day we spent the entire hour describing what we had learned from CD players, mosquitoes, too-tight shoes, wet towels, pillowcases, shower stall doors, and hundreds of other seemingly insignificant aspects of our world. After the lesson, (which to our chagrin was not enough time for each of us to give over all of our examples), we each walked out with real food for thought. I remember thinking, "Oh my's such a huge world...and everything in it really means something..."

It's a daunting task--to see every individual thing in this world as an opportunity for learning--but one that is so rewarding and meaningful...

I once ate a meal by my seminary madricha's house, and a ba'al teshuva who was eating there as well made a comment at the meal that I don't think I'll ever froget. Referring to a bit of an awkward situation that had just occurred, he happily exclaimed, "Good! I love MDOs!" We looked at him, waiting curiously for an explanation, to which he replied, casually spearing some string beans on his fork, "Middos Development Opportunities. They're all around us. Everywhere. The question is, will you know one when you see it?"

A thrill ran down my back...oh, my...he's right......but will I...?

How many MDOs do we pass up every single day because we forgot to look for them...?
They're the long line at the bakery, the perfectly round, ripe, glossy apple, the malfunctioning computer, the casual game of chess, the ripped page of notes, the window overlooking the park...everywhere. Knowing that everything we see was purposely put there so that we could see it makes every blink meaningful...

I always thought I lived with my eyes open. But I never realized just how open they could--and should--be.

And how breathtaking the world is once I really learned how to see...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Come back...

I really don't know how to get this off my chest, but I know I want to, and I think I might need to, so I'll try...

What do you do when someone you love with all your heart is not doing so well inside? When you can't even imagine the entirety of the situation because things are not said out loud...and you're almost too scared to ask those who know? What do you do when your parents are hurting so much...and you feel powerless to do anything about it...? When you feel it was your achrayus to have done more, and maybe things could have been prevented or fixed earlier if you had done more for that someone.....?

Things progress slowly. Sometimes you don't realize what's happening until things get big and scary. And then it's almost too hard to take another breath because the feelings are stuck in your throat...choking...suffocating...

So I swallow. Try to take a steadying breath. Whisper a wordless prayer...wordless, because I have absolutely no idea how to ask for advice, pray for clarity in this, or even cry...

Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe it's not really as hard as I think it is...but I'm scared. Nervous. Fearing things spiraling out of control.

I know.

I should ask the One to whom lies all the answers...
I should ask Him...
Only I don't know what to say...

My father just asked me for advice. Me? What do I know...? How could I help...? I told him I'd think about it, and he answered back, "Now, soon as possible..."

Daddy, I just don't know...
I just don't know.......

And...Tatty....Tatty...I don't know. But You do. So please show me...please show us...
We are lost without You...

And that specail person in my life....Hang in there...
I love you so much. More than I can ever express to you...
If there's anything else I can do to help you...take away some of the confusion you must have inside...please, please, please let me...
One day you'll be the most amazing person imaginable...I know it...
Just keep trying.....

Monday, November 12, 2007

You can do can, you can, you can...

how i wish i could tell you
all that i see in you
your strenghts
positive qualities
all the beautiful things that we all see
so strongly displayed
in your essence

my sister
my friend
a piece of me...

i reach down and touch you
in your deep pit
you are cold
seeking warmth don't know where to find it...
i am right here

and you tell me you see me
you do see
but you still feel alone
alone and

you are hurting
in pain
so lonely
but i am here for you
trying to show i care
...maybe care too much...
how can my love
joined with the love of
so many others
for you
not keep the pain
at bay
for even a little while

i don't understand...

how i can hold you
try to bring some warmth back
into your cold, shivering self
but when i leave
you feel
more alone
than ever...

but one thing i do understand...

while i can give you some

i cant fix things

only He can


You can.

yes, You...beautiful strong one...

you don't believe me
you look up in despair
saying you're too tired
too alone
too cold

but i say again
i believe in you
because i really really do

you are a pillar
but you don't see it

please look
here, here's a mirror...
just look
there? don't you see?
this is how everyone else sees you...

you, strong girl...
you can do it
we can help support
hold onto your hand
give you guidance


it's your battle
your fight
you were given it
so you can triumph over it

and you can...

we can help
but we can't do it for you

you can do it

i believe in you...


my love for you is

i'm here
until you don't need me anymore
but keep repeating to yourself
keep saying over and over in your head
i can do it
i am strong
i'll get out of this

because You will

and when you finally get out
of that seemingly endless pit
reach that point where
you can pull yourself
over the edge
i will be here
to grab hold of your wrists
and hold on to you
for dear

and hold you as long as i can

for now...
keep remembering
and hoping
and dreaming

because you can do it
you can
i believe in you
we all do
that you can do this
get through this

i love you

You are


Saturday, November 10, 2007

On the Old

Every so often I'll be hit with a thought that seems to have sprung from nowhere. My mind works that way a lot. I kinda find it funny, and most of the time I can amuse myself for a while by retracing my thoughts in an attempt find out where the random thought could have stemmed from.


Last week I was taking care of something at home, when all of a sudden I started thinking about elderly people. Severely random. But once I got over my self-chuckle on the weirdness of my brain's workings, my mind kept on whirring and produced some interesting thoughts which I decided I want to air out here.

I was never too fond of visiting nursing homes. Maybe it was the antiseptic-yet-stale hospital smell, or the fact that so many old people didn't understand when I spoke, (my grandparents often wonder out loud how anyone understands me...) or how the patients used to be self-suffieint and independant and now need help even for their most basic needs, or simply the tangible weight of all the emotional memories pervading the halls... I went to visit a couple of times purely as an act of chessed required of me by my high school, or because all my friends were going, but all the time I was there I felt unsettled, unhappy, and...frightened. Not so much scared by the thought of, "This could be me or someone in my family," but more like, "What happened to the people that used to be living in these bodies...?"

Old age happens to everyone. We mature, go through life stages, get old, and eventually die. Just as surely as young adults start dating, get married, have kids, buy homes, go on vacations...they get old...and then pass on. Even us young people will get old. It's so hard to believe it now, but it's true. And scary. We forget that one day we'll be needing help even for those most basic of tasks which we find so easy to do now. I really don't intend this post to be depressing or morbid, but this is real, it's life, and I think it's important to think about it some time, while we can still appreciate the freedom and spirit of our youth...

I'd once heard that one of the worst feelings in the world--yi'ush, despair--is often felt by the elderly who reflect back on their lives and realize that they could have been better, could have done something differently, should have been something else... And I keep thinking, "Oh, Hashem, let me not know of such feelings. Please allow me to live my life so that at my end I don't regret what I did or lament what I could have done..."

And then there's the beauty of old age... Society so exults youth that so often we forget that the elderly are a product of so many years of self-toil and development. They have wisdom, knowledge, experience, and so much to share...if we just slow down enough to listen. I wish I had more time to sit patiently with my grandparents and hear thier slow tales of their lives and their lessons for how to better live my own. An old person is so complexly beautiful if we learn to look past their wizened exterior...

I was really hoping this post would be shorter than I usually write them. It's just that I always have so much to say, and few words never seem to be enough. I can go on for days; succinctness was never my forte... Eventually I'll find something to say that I can write concisely :-)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cry, mammaleh, cry...

As per a concerned parent's request, yesterday morning's circle time was devoted to glorifying the exciting first visit to the dentist. We extolled the virtues of the special chair that goes up and down, the exciting made-in-China prizes for well behaved patients, the delectable bubble gum flavored toothpaste...

The class was enraptured, eyes wide, drinking in the glorious world of dentist visits. Most of the children who'd never had the delight of such rides and prizes were noticeably jealous of little Ahuva, but at least the rest of the class gleaned some sort of benefit from the lesson; Ahuva was lost unhearing in her own spaced-out word of dental anxiety. Alas, poor child...

The lesson then turned to discussion. As with most circle times, the girls were each allowed to raise their hand and contribute something on topic. Most of them related how they had once gone to the doctor/dentist/allergist and how they'd gotten prizes and the like. I listened to their accounts, mildly enjoying my 10 minutes and my adorable students, until one small child said something that bypassed my mild interest and stunned me into instant concentration:
"Morah, one time in the summer, I got a shot and it hurted and I cried a lot cuz it really hurted..."
Oh, my child. My naive yet brilliant and knowledgeable child... That is how we're born to be. We hurt. We cry. There is something inherent in hurt that spurs tears, and something inherent in tears that eases the hurt.
And yet...yet...
We live in a world where we are told to suppress those inherent reactions. We are told, "Be a big girl, don't cry. Crying is for babies." And as young chilren, we listen, internalize, acknowledge and identify with the fact that yes, we need to be brave and control our emotions outwardly so we can fit in with the mature world of adults. For a child of 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, being called a baby is one of the most heart-wrenching insults, and so these children will supress their tears if they can rather than release what is so big and painful for them...
And as adults we are not spared that painful choice either.
So often society demands stoicism, does not permit open emotion, turns away from outward displays of passion. Upon witnessing a heartbroken wailing father, or grief-stricken families, or individuals unable to cope with their raging inner worlds, most people feel uncomfortable and try to ease that discomfort by either ignoring those situations entirely, or attempting to ease the situation as best they can. Nobody wants to witness pain like that. But why must it be so awkward? Why do we feel that crying is so shameful, so embarrassing, so wrong?
I am not saying that everyone in slight emotional, physical, or mental anguish should walk the streets proclaiming their misery outright and cry incessantly. Obviously, that is not beneficial for those in pain, nor for those who must deal with them, and there are various coping methods available to help them handle their problems. But on the other end, when it comes to real, valid, excruciating pain, why should we have to suffer by feeling that asking for help or shedding tears is embarrassing or shameful?
We hurt. We need to cry. My Mindy understands it so clearly...
Is there anything we can do to make others--and ourselves--less uncomfortable?
I am so grateful to all those who have personally heard my pain and have supported me through the times I felt it necessary and theraputic to cry...Thank you...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Breaking out of the box

Boxes inside boxes. That was the standard doodle for boring classes. As a rule, I was pretty interested student, but every so often a teacher would lull me into the box-inside-box monotony. The worst thing a teacher could ever say is that the material taught in that lesson would not be on the test...

But that day, as I picked up my pen to occupy my mind with aimless scribbles, I didn't know that I was to learn a lesson so important, a mere test on paper or scantron could never accurately record my knowledge of it, or its practical application. Indeed, the test of the day would

When I heard one word my ears perked up. Family? Since when do we talk about family in Chumash class? I looked up, bemused, but suddenly curious about what Mrs. Jacobs had to say about family.

"Hashem created the family structure to serve as a workshop for each of us...."

She's talking in a general sense. Surely not my family...

"Each neshama was put in the perfect family for it to have the ability to grow to its fullest potentail. Your family is perfect for you. You would not grow as well or reach your potential if you were put somewhere else..."

No. Mine must be a yotzei min ha'klal. Maybe someone else's family, but mine...? No. My family is not the perfect place for me.

"Hashem in His infinite wisdom matches each child with his or her family. And do you know what, girls? Each of you, before you were born, actually chose your own family to be sent to..."

Can't be. This is just too weird. Why would I have chosen my family?

The bell rang. We packed up our books and left school. On the way home, my mind was still whirring with the last lesson. My family? The perfect place for me? No...can't be...

But that lesson stayed with me that whole week. Through Shabbos when I was so angry I just wanted to storm away from the table and run upstairs...but I didn't. On Sunday when I couldn't imagine having to go to the park with my family...but I agreed anyway. Throughout the week when all I wanted to do was run away from them and stay alone in my room, or go visit a friend, the words of my Chumash teacher echoed inside my head...
"Your family is perfect for you. You would not grow as well or reach your potential if you were put somewhere else..."

Oh, how I had wished to have belonged somewhere have been part of Esti's family, or Shana's, or Sariva's...any but mine! How could my family possibly be helping me grow? It just didn't make sense...

But that lesson stuck with me. For years it comforted me when I felt that things were not fair, that everyone else was so lucky to belong to their family...except me...

And as the years went by, I started understanding things a little better, seeing more of the picture. I began to see the middos I developed and the wonderful traits I had that were only brought out as a result of me being part of my family...a product of my parents' parenting and my interactions with my siblings.

And the more I realized how true Mrs. Jacobs's words were, the more I realized that all those years I'd been squishing myself into tiny boxes, each one smaller than the one before... Instead of realizing that my family was a place for me to grow, I pushed them away and retreated into my cramped quarters, thinking I could better myself alone, without their help. I closed myself away from them, failing to realize their potential to help me soar, climb, reach out, be loved for being myself....

Now I can see it. It's taken me a long, long time, but with His help I can now understand a little better that where I was placed is indeed the best place for me to grow. Not only that, but it was me who chose to be a part of this family when I saw things more clearly up there...

Even with this knowledge and acceptance, it can still be very hard. Excruciatingly hard at times...painful, lonely, misunderstood... But I still repeat that lesson of many years ago to help me get through those struggles. He knows. He runs the world. He planned it all. In His wisdom He picked this one for me... And I try my hardest to extract myself from my self-imposed imprisonment inside my tiny, blue-penned boxes inside boxes...

I break free. And it feels wonderful. It feels strange, because I'm unused to it...but I feel like a newborn child... to soar, climb, reach out, be myself.....

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Human Becomings

I'm not sure why I decided I want to write about this, but the idea was tugging at me for a while, and today when the sentences started formulating themselves in my head I decided maybe I should sit down and sketch out my thoughts in some form of semi-cohesive text.

How I wish I could open up a door into possibly the deepest section of my emotional mind so that all of you could glimpse how I really feel about my job... I doubt anything I write here could possibly give over the exact feelings and meanings I want to portray, but I'll try anyway, so that perhaps at least one person will walk away from this post with a newfound appreciation for what I do.

Every job has its perks, its negative points, its benefits, and its acutely annoying aspects, but some jobs are innately more gratifying than others. I suppose it's a matter of opinion and personal taste, but there's a reason why so many teachers describe their jobs as intensely rewarding and emotionally satisfying, while most office personnel do not. There's something about watching children's eyes light up in understanding, about feeling little shoulders ease under a loving touch, about listening to laughter wafting out of brightly-lit classrooms, that almost can't be described in any other language than love.

I know a lot of you reading this are teachers and appreciate exactly what I'm saying. So big deal, Corner, what's the chiddush here? Why are you making it sound like you are different than any other teacher out there? Maybe it's just because as unappreciated and bashed the teaching profession is, there is still something glorious about saying you teach 10th grade Chumash, or 12th grade Bio, or even 6th grade Tefilla. But when you tell people you teach Kindergarten, most look at you, almost struggle to conceal the sympathy in their eyes, and comment, "Oh really? you enjoy it?"

Are you kidding? Do I enjoy it?

It's my inspiration. My air. My life right now. I may be an overly passionate soul in most aspects of my life, but when I talk about my job, I feel such a pride, such a wonder, such a privilege to be able to carry out this amazing responsibility.

So many people consider early childhood education as a babysitting service. Parents drop their little ones off at school, run errands, go to work, take care of the real world while some Morahs keep an eye on the kids that "can't even read yet so how can they be learning...?" Our children are more than just learning--they're drinking up every word that's uttered within their earshot, putting words to things they're not even able to consciously understand yet, growing in self-awareness and self-worth, and building the foundations of love for learning that will be the cornerstone of every other lesson they'll ever learn for the rest of their lives.

The thrill of watching a little girl finally realize that the little black characters on the pages of books really mean something is simply breathtaking...As is watching from afar as a child with behavioral difficulties finally works out her own problem without resorting to hitting...As is hearing the exclamation of delight from the little one who runs by in the playground, legs pumping, heart soaring, flying by with nothing to anchor her to the ground...As is the glow on the face of the child who proudly holds up her clay masterpiece, explaining, "Morah, I made this for you..."

The vitality of life that permeates every square inch of my classroom is other-worldly. It is there that children develop their essences, their dreams, their pride in themselves, their life skills, their middos, their love of learning. We may not teach the difference between Rashi and Ramban, but we can help them discern the subtle differences between speaking nicely and hurting feelings. My girls do not yet understand how to add or subtract, or anything about the U.S. government, but they do know that they live in a community of chessed and middos and want to emulate those they see around them. Mitzva notes are not just a bribe; they impart to our children that not a single good deed goes unnoticed, that each mitzva is recorded, cherished, held close, rewarded. Creative play is not just a time filler; it's a forum for children to learn consequences of thier actions, how to interact properly and successfully with their peers, how to be mevater and be patient and be kind. To those who wonder what exactly their children are learning besides for the weekly Parsha, I ask, "What are they not learning...?" Pre-school is the workshop where children develop the tools they need to succeed in grade school, and more importantly, in life...

Maybe now you can see why I so adore what I do. There's no question about it--It's a physically draining, emotionally taxing, and sometimes very frustrating job, but I can't imagine another I'd rather be doing right now.

Seeing that life, that joy, that sheer bliss of being and living and learning and growing helps me strive to be and live and learn and grow myself. It's in my classroom that I learn anew how to be mevater and be patient and be kind. It's not just my students that are learning; I am taught countless lessons as well every single day.

So when those people who don't appreciate my achrayus look at me in pity, almost as if I'm taking care of something distasteful, I warm myself up with the knowledge that I'm making a difference in 22 different worlds...and 22 different future families of children who will comprise the next generation of Klal Yisrael...

My girls are each stunning jewels. And I have the privilege and the honor of helping make that first cut into the faces of those jewels so that at the end of 14 years of schooling, those same jewels emerge from the school system as refined, happy, polished, proud daughters of our King.

The director of my school has a sign in her office:

"Children are not human beings; they are human becomings."

And I have the opportunity to nurture those precious becomings...

My beautiful girls.

Monday, October 29, 2007




Blips on a screen.
The thin green line
reaches a peak,
turns, and
only to rise again...

clean curves up and down.
Other times

But yet...
the rise and fall


The line will always fluctuate.
The ups
always fall,
the downs
always rise.

A flat line means

And so,
we rise.


Sometimes haltingly,
sometimes sure of ourselves,
but then,
when all seems good,


The blip
turns downward,
darkens our eyes,
makes us feel
a failure...

But in reality
is only found
in a flatline.

The downs
are a component
of life.
The valley,
the trough,
the exhale,
are as essential to life
as the vast mountain peaks,
the foam-tipped wave caps,
the cleansing, nourishing breaths
of lifegiving air...

We fall and rise.
Life is dark, then light.

We must prepare
for falls,
cushion ourselves,
steady ourselves,
reach out for support.
But we must also
The line will


The dark never lingers
longer than its wavelength,


If we know the secrets
of how to climb
out of the troughs


and ride the crests
as long as we can hold on to them,
we have





Sunday, October 28, 2007

Corner Takes the Plunge...

This seems a little strange to me...

My own blog? Mine?

Well, after all this time, I guess I'm savvy enough in the blogging world to have my own venting space, but it's still weird that I've joined the ranks. I hope I can live up to my own expectations...(as I'm sure nobody else here has any expectations of me yet!!)

I suppose I should introduce myself a bit. It seems appropriate, although some of you probably have some inkling as to who I am based on my comments on your blogs. Eventually, some of the details will probably come out as they become relevant, but for now let me just say that I am a frum, twenty-somewhat girl with some things to say and the passionate desire to be acknowledged, understood, and part of something big. I'm intesely curious, I love learning new things, and I'm self-critical to a fault. My purpose for starting this blog is twofold: I want to hear what others have to say, and I'm enticed by the concept of a place where I can say what's on my mind and not worry about what others will think of me.

Comments are very welcome. I hope to meet a lot of new and interesting people through this blog, and I hope I can spark others to think or ponder or contemplate things they hadn't thought of or wondered about or contemplated before. I can't promise to post too often, but I'll try my best.

And with that, let the thoughts begin...