Over 6 months ago, I shared my first blog post, Craving Connection. Just a few weeks later, I boarded an EL AL plane to Israel with 47 other women from Toronto – each with her own story, her own reason for surrendering to the flawlessly orchestrated 9-day adventure we couldn’t even imagine lay before us.
On the final night of our trip (which many of us described as sleepover-camp-meets-spiritual-boot-camp-meets-I-am-a-strong-Jewish-woman-hear-me-roar-camp), having been one of the trip bloggers, I was asked to say a few words in front of 200+ Jewish women from around the world at the farewell gala. There was no time to prepare – I just spoke from the heart. And there really was no question what my heart wanted to say. While I came seeking connections, I left not only with stronger connections to these amazing women, but with a rock solid foundation to build a more connected life.
The truth is, even more important than connecting with others, I was discovering what it truly meant to connect with myself. To be totally and authentically me. To understand, question, and grasp the meaning and lessons from day-to-day events and challenges (and there have been many!) To appreciate my Jewish identity, and take the time to understand the lessons from our past, with each historic event oozing with meaning and significance I’m only just beginning to absorb.
Today, 25 blog posts later, when people ask me what I write about, the answer is simple: Living a more meaningful and connected life.
Sometimes it’s about courage. Other times it’s about happiness. And then there are times it’s about laughing with friends while playing a very un-politically correct card game and watching Amy Schumer’s R-rated HBO comedy special.
Regardless of the details, the foundation is always the same: Meaning and Connection.
Of course, I’m only as inspired as the content that seeps in – combined with my willingness to take it in like a super-sized sponge! (I secretly – okay, not so secretly – wish I could spend my days reading, watching TED Talks, attending lectures, and writing blogs…and maybe a book one day!) And while it wasn’t necessarily my intention to primarily draw inspiration and wisdom from the female tribe, I’ve happily found myself with an incredible amount of insight from a diverse group of women. Some who I know personally, and others whose books/blogs/articles I’ve read and will likely never meet face-to-face.
Strong, brave, wise women are everywhere I turn…and their insights are a true gift.
Today, six months into my writing adventure (which I hope will be a lifelong trek), while it’s hard to pick favourites and I know I’ve only just scratched the surface of “life wisdom” available to me and anyone who chooses to make space for it, I’ve compiled some meaningful words and lessons that I’ve recently heard and read. Forgive me…I do need to sneak in one Y chromosome…you’ll have to read to the end for that special nugget. Maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s worth it.
Thanks for taking this ride with me….I hope it’s just the beginning…
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences – good and bad.”
“The tricky thing about holding onto pain is that it buries you. It also forbids the possibility of lightness and liberation…Letting go is not just a gift to the person who hurt you. It is an empathetic offering to oneself.”
“When we give ourselves compassion, we are opening our hearts in a way that can transform our lives.”
“It’s such a waste of mental energy to be furious that something isn’t the way you want it to be.”
– Jane Green, best-selling novelist and cancer survivor
“I don’t feel like complaining. I can’t change what happened, so it feels good to change how I think about it.”
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”
“It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly light-hearted. Yet everyone takes the happy person for granted.”
“Jacob’s appreciation for the little things in life gives me huge perspective on everything life has to offer. He expects so little and is always surprised by what he receives. Lucky for me, I get a front row seat to view pure gratitude in action. He is forever grateful and due to this he is always smiling. I follow suit.”
“I used to find it difficult to feel grateful. I don’t think I knew what I was supposed to feel grateful for. Well I knew, but I didn’t feel it like I do now. Unfortunately, it took a cancer diagnosis for me to see what was in plain sight – life is good and people are kind.”
“I am and will be eternally grateful to the special soul who donated their lungs. Because of them I have this second chance at life, to watch my kids grow. Nothing else could be more amazing.”
“If we can recognize the voice inside that is trying to take us down, point our finger at it and remind our soul-selves we can get back on the road, no mistake is too great to learn from.”
– Ilana Rubenstein, Torah Educator, Public Speaker, and Storyteller
“The human brain easily wanders and it wanders more to worries than to happy musings on what a blessed life you have. Such ruminations steal happiness. If a child wants to snuggle with you, it is madness to ponder the laundry that needs to be done and all the work necessary to get everyone out the door. You can think of that later. Nothing need exist but those little pyjama-clad arms wrapped around your neck.”
– Laura Vanderkam, Author: I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of their Time
Adrienne Gold – while there is always space in my heart, there is not enough space in the WordPress world for the wisdom you share through your spoken words.
“If you see or hear something that inspires you, it’s not because you want to be that person or be like that person, it’s because you see that potential in yourself.”
– Natan Gropper, Tour Guide and Educator, JWRP
While Natan doesn’t take credit for these words (when I asked, he said he recalled hearing them during a Torah lecture), I was nevertheless so touched (and a bit stunned!) when this young man shared them with a bus full of women during our last ride of the JWRP journey. He knew exactly what we needed to hear and I will be forever grateful for these simple yet powerful words.
(Didn’t I tell you it was worth the read to the end?)
I look forward to continuing this journey, and thank you as always for reading.
Please take a moment to share your favourite wise words. There is always space for more.