Coping with stress in a Jewish way

I knew the upcoming school year was going to be rough, emotionally. I didn't know events well beyond my control would ratchet a year I was expecting to be difficult to navigate to an even more confusing and heart-wrenching set of pathways.

Our family measures time by the school year. While we celebrate Rosh Hashanah and the time for renewal brought on by Yom Kippur - as a family of teachers and students, we naturally re-examine our goals, objectives and plans every August before we begin successive academic years.

Several years ago my rabbi gave a Yom Kippur sermon about the trials in life. The bottom line, according to my own very personal interpretation, was: Life is mostly confronting adversity and difficulty. Most people do not float through life devoid of angst, seemingly insurmountable challenge and despair. There is sorrow and surprise and happiness and hopelessness.

This is the norm.

Living with intention - working to see the beauty in the every day - is my way of refusing to succumb to despondency.

Sometimes, however, it's a struggle.

Today, for no specific reason, is a particularly emotional day - and I am immensely grateful the Sabbath is fast approaching.

Heralding the Sabbath Torah study and rest period, for us provides a constant time of refocus. A time to shore up my ability to cope with strife and sadness.

This coming academic year I have a son moving to college, a daughter studying to earn her driver's license while considering colleges - and my youngest entering kindergarten.

I am at once proud and pained.

Add in the impossible challenge of dealing with the sudden loss of my father only a few short months ago - a new job that brings excitement and challenge - and concern over current events that bathes darkness on my soul.

It's a bit much.

So I turn to voices that feel wise and authentic - and the age-old practice of Torah study.

I seek out my sisters and friends. I rely on purposeful ritual and textual study.

And I'm seeking to enlarge my support circle by reading those parents who have lived through and written about the very changes I'm facing.

Today I read Chaya Shuchat: G-d is in the details.

Wishing you peace and rest this Shabbat and always,

- Amy

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Mei creating chalked rock art.

Mei creating chalked rock art.


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