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Friday, October 3, 2014

The Day of Atonement


Its Friday and its also Yom Kippur.  I am working tonight, but Adam is taking the girls to Kol Nidre.  Tomorrow morning we will all attend synagogue. Adam will fast and the girls have decided they will do a kids' fast (i.e. giving up one thing they enjoy).  Sunday the girls have Hebrew School while I'm teaching my spin class, then Big A has a birthday party, then we are all going to a Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur/Sukkot celebration with all the Jewish families in our neighbourhood.  Its going to be a busy but wonderful weekend.

Now that the girls are really old enough to participate, I am experiencing a new found appreciation for the Jewish holidays. Being Jewish has never been a religious thing for me, always a cultural thing with the significance being around family and community.  I am so glad the girls are growing up in such a diverse and multicultural environment, which is very different from my own experience being Jewish in a small city where it just made me not fit in.

If there is anything I have to atone for this year, its for not being sufficiently grateful for everything I have.  I am as guilty as anyone else for fixating on what isn't perfect in my life.  Being a perfectionistic, worrier, I can also quickly fall down the rabbit hole of negativity and feel like one imperfection discounts everything else.  Its an easy trap to fall into.  For my weight-loss clients, it becomes the belief that being overweight makes them worthless, despite all their other accomplishments and qualities.  For my infertility clients the inability to conceive diminishes everything else in their life. 

My current angst is about career and money.  I have established a career I love and a solid name for myself.  I am proud of my work and I know I do it well.  But none of this has translated into an income that is anywhere near what Adam and I had hoped when I decided to pursue this career path.  While my income may grow, I highly doubt I will ever make 'a lot' of money, although that's a relative term.  I am just grateful Adam has been so supportive of my career change, which really affects us all.  I can't help but feel guilty sometimes when there are bills to pay and children to raise and I cannot contribute equally to the household income.

Its so easy to compare myself to others in this regard and feel I don't measure up.  Most of our friends are professionals well established in their careers, with household incomes far beyond what Adam and I can probably ever hope to achieve.  They have bigger, more expensive houses, fancier cars, and they take more holidays.  If I focus on all this too much, it is very easy for me to feel like a complete failure.

But what I've realized is, if I avoid focusing on these comparisons, I am actually perfectly happy.  I have a job I love and am passionate about.  We have a lovely, cosy house.  We live in a wonderful neighbourhood near the girls' school. We have a car that drives well (even if it does have a few dents).  We have two happy, healthy kids.  We have loving families.  Adam and I both have jobs we enjoy.  I am actually happy...like really happy, when I stop making comparisons between how much we have and how much others have.

Also, its all relative.  While we may have less than most of our peers, we are still very fortunate.  We have more, and a better quality of life than probably 90% of humans on this planet.  Failing to acknowledge that is shameful.  On my 40th birthday, as the love poured out to me from friends and family, I realized how absurd my depression about all this was and how lucky I am to have everything I have.  Do I need a bigger house? A fancier car? Expensive jewellery?  Not at all.  I need the love of friends and family and I've got that in spades.

Have a lovely weekend and a good Yom Kippur, if you are celebrating.  I hope your name is inscribed in the book of life!