No More Than My Place, No Less Than My Space

I am overwhelmed. I am trying so hard to fill my time, to grow and learn and expand, to fill the space that is mine to fill. I’ve gone back to school, I’m facilitating a group on Mussar at my synagogue, something I am still wholly unqualified to do, I’m expanding the online presence of my jewelry business in time for the holidays, and I’m preparing to teach a jewelry class in November. Throw in my ongoing search for a job and I’m feeling like all the plates I’m spinning are not gonna stay aloft much longer. Looking for a job is stressful for anyone, but for one as thin-skinned as me, it becomes an exercise in low self-esteem and unworthiness. And admittedly, I’ve gotten a little picky about what I’m looking for. I like being at home. Truth be told, I Love. It. I still apply to every job I can, but I’ve been thinking long and hard about what the next phase of my life will look like. Find the job of my dreams? Go part time? Retire? Work at Target? I got a little spoiled getting unemployment all this time, but that gravy train has expired and I can’t reapply because, strangely enough, 18 months of unemployment benefits do NOT count as a salary. Huh. Go figure. So I’m juggling all sorts of wonderful things, but I’m not completely sure I’m handling any of them well enough and I’m surrounded by plate crumbs. I’m sure I’m not alone in my state of dervish-like anxiety, but I like to think I’m singular in that if I’m feeling something, Imma take you all down with me. So this morning, I decided to, just for today, stop talking for a minute and just do. Stop Raging. Whining. Muttering. Complaining. Spewing. Ranting. Blaming. Stop singing the praises of things I believe in but don’t actually do. And while I’m doing, I’m gonna smile. So this morning, I started my practice with my mantra, my reminder phrase. “No more than my place, no less than my space.” Repeat. Repeat. Smile. Repeat. Journal. Focus. Smile. Repeat. And in between it all, I work on my first numbingly tedious assignment for school and exercise and learn and grow and create and yes, sit in Starbucks for the first time in almost two years, and I’m smiling, and I’m sorry, what? Why am I still talking? Just filling a little space.

Strength. Equality. Courage. Small pendant


Atoning my A** Off

Everybody makes mistakes. The question is does everyone feel like they make more mistakes than anyone else in the free world? Cause, I’m pretty sure that honor is mine alone. If I had a nickel for every time I tripped over my cosmic feet, (and hadn’t made the mistake of spending that nickel instead of putting it in the bank…), I’d be, well, you know the rest. I let an unvaccinated child into our synagogue this morning while volunteering as an usher. At some point, I got left alone at the desk and the entire team of security people and front door greeters had either disappeared or also got bamboozled by a sweet little face. And there he was. I knew this was a vaccinated service only, but somehow, I couldn’t make the leap between that fact and a little boy. I panicked. I f*%#ed up. Chaos reigned. Security tossed them, gently, out. Dad returned, grumbling, older vaccinated child in tow. Peace returned to the kingdom. Well, most of it. My little corner of the realm had been ransacked. I felt bad. I felt guilty. I felt like I shouldn’t be there. I felt stupid. 4 hours later, my little place in the kingdom is still in disarray. I think about years ago, when I worked as a restaurant manager and it was New Years Eve. Mrs. Gold, an elderly woman who’d been coming to the restaurant since it opened and felt more than a little entitled, was having some sort of an issue and said to me, “ you know, Caryn, these sort of things only seem to happen when you’re here”. And I believed her. I still do. If there is a way for something to be misplaced, misused, mishandled, misinterpreted, or misinformed, Imma find it. Why? Am I seriously less intelligent than the next person? Not paying attention? Hard of hearing? Not getting enough sleep? Possibly. A passel of Mrs. Golds has taken up permanent residence in my head, and I can’t get them to move the f*^# out! And just when I get to the point where I think I might have them under control, like, they’ve packed up in search of another vulnerable brain…I do something dumb, I make a mistake. And I feel them all shaking their heads. “Mmm hmmm…what’d we tell you?” And that’s when I get it. As long as I’m alive, I’m going to do something stupid. And so are you. And you. And that guy over there. And that lady over there. And maybe the reason Mrs. Gold was so judging of others was cause she felt bad. Or guilty. Or like she didn’t belong there. Or stupid. I’m not as good at some things as some of my friends are. But I’m better at others. And yea, those things only happen when I’m there.

Bend, Don’t Break. Pin


“How Can I Go Forward When I Don’t Know Which Way I’m Facing?” -John Lennon

Today we buried my Aunt Dollie. My AD has been a fixture in my life forever, literally. The timing of her journey, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is not lost on me. There’s something poetic about straddling the old year and the new; this world and the next. There will always be things we cannot know until we have traveled from here to, well, not here. And these mysterious journeys from here to wherever the f*%# not here is? They are happening all the time. And I’m not talking so much about the obvious. Birth, marriage, starting a family, death. All of the other milestones in life. There are so many smaller journeys that happen, that we may not even be aware of, taking place right this second. Every decision we make takes us from here to an as yet undisclosed not here. Ok, you ask, (yeah I see you rolling your eyes a little), what is the point? The point is…the point, huh? You’re looking for a point. Maybe I haven’t decided yet on what the point is. Maybe point A will bring me to one not here, and point B will bring me to an altogether different and possibly more delightful not here. How can I know? What if I make the wrong point? And of course there’s always point C. Don’t choose. Ah, you say, wisely, but deciding not to decide is also a decision and will also bring you to a completely different not here. Look, life is full of decisions, small, enormous, inconsequential, momentous. And often the smallest choice will bring you the greatest reward. My aunt was a bit of a badass. She graduated high school at 16, she was the first woman in her family to drive; she was a world traveler and a creator, making jewelry, and knitting scarves and pillows for all of us. She had a strong sense of right and wrong. I remember her giving my mom Hell because I didn’t send a thank you card for a gift she got me. She waited until both of her children were with her to take her final breath. She made a choice at the very end of her here to wait, just a bit, to go on to not here. And as I sit on my bed and write, I’m holding an orange knitted pillow in my lap. (For which, I’ll have you know, I sent a thank you card and called to say thank you), and wishing my much loved AD a peaceful journey from here to…not here.

Me, AD, and Mom