I am having such an emotional day, which is good! When I start feeling sad or vulnerable my usual instinct is to push back in the opposite direction, amp up and look outside myself for something to cheer me up. Today I’m trying to relax into the feelings even though they aren’t comfortable, because I know this is the way to work through them and let them pass. I won’t avoid and push them away, because then the sadness lingers in the background, keeping me from fully experiencing the joy that presents itself in other moments.
First of all, my sister and brother in law took my sweet niece to daycare for the first time today. I have been thinking about this for about a week now, trying to figure out how to reach out and offer support. I want to empathize but I’m not in a similar situation so I can’t offer the easiest “I’ve been there, I hear ya, it’s tough.” I did send my son Ben to daycare which was totally heart wrenching, but by then he was two so it was a very different scenario than sending a five month old. I worked at the daycare where I sent him, downstairs from his classroom in the baby room so I saw both the before and after of drop off every day. Most of the kids were super happy to come to “class,” some were tearful but they really did stop crying within a minute or two of mom or dad leaving- it’s not something that the teachers say just to make parents feel better! I have been trying to figure out what I can do or say to offer my love and support to our closest family members (literally and figuratively, they live down the street from us) but I haven’t figured it out. This morning I was tearful hearing about Whitney and Yoni dropping their little peanut off so I reached out to offer a kind word to them. It just didn’t feel like it was enough.
Then I read this article about a journalist who had interviewed a Sandy Hook victim’s mother. The author had included graphic descriptions of a child’s wounds in an article she wrote for the Forward, and she felt conflicted about whether it was gratuitous or totally necessary. Reading her story was the first time I allowed myself to think about the actual humanity (or rather, inhumanity) of what had happened.
If I wasn’t feeling emotional enough, I received the amazing news that one of my closest friends and midwife in Israel gave birth to a baby girl today! I have been so excited awaiting the birth and I wish so much to be with her and her family now. We lived across the street from them during one of the most intense years of all of our lives, as both of our families had just made the move to Israel. We shared meals with them almost every day and our lives became quickly intertwined. Not having Leigh at my birth was really sad for me, and not being there to help with hers is equally sad. Of course, more than I’m sad not to be there, I am incredibly happy and filled with love for their whole family. Mazal tov Leigh, Tzvi, Eden, Meir, Levav, Tanya, Yosef, and Noam! Did I mention the lucky baby girl is number seven in their family? Amazing.
Then I went ahead and read this blog post from a woman who was dreading turning forty so she came up with an amazing way to transform her feelings about the big day. She enlisted a group of friends to help her offer forty acts of kindness to her community, and boy was she thorough! She spent a total of $1000 (which could easily be spent on an extravagant party) and reached out to friends, family, strangers, children, even shelter animals and wild birds! Her story was the last straw for me and I spent the rest of the morning crying on and off. What she did was so inspiring in a direct way, but also in a broader conceptual way. When we are feeling low the best way to feel better is not to pity ourselves, but to reach out to others. We can reach out and ask for help, and we can also reach out and offer our help. Both are necessary, and both give us opportunities to work through our sad feelings and raise our spirits.
If I were in Israel right now I would be making dinner for Leigh’s family. I realized the best gift I can offer my family is whatever I’m best at, usually cooking, so I made a big pot of lentil pumpkin soup, full of broken-hearted love, happiness and longing. I sent some along to my family up the street, enjoyed a bowl for lunch, and Ella even liked it. The rest is in the freezer for a rainy day.
I like to think I took the opportunity to help transform my feelings with food, instead of using food to push uncomfortable feelings away.
Sad Day Soup
Just for good measure, and because once I am in the kitchen I feel like I should make about five things at once (personal chef habit), I made a small batch of applesauce.
I wish you a sad day if you’re sad, and a sunny other side.