B. Shira Levine
Navigating new wilderness

Elul Day 1: An accounting of my living room

In an attempt to walk my talk, I’m … attempting Elul.  I’m also very big on the Julie and Julia type “blogsperiment” stuff (something I dabbled in back when I was on the dating scene), so assuming I can keep up, you’re all going to get to hear about it.

Accounting of the soul, huh?  OK… let’s start with an accounting of my living room, which is pretty much a metaphor for my soul right now:

My husband often riffs about being slaves to habits — e.g., in his song “Creatures of Slavery,” “We are all creatures of slavery; bound by the habits that keep us from being free.”

One thing that’s great about starting at the beginning of Elul is that I can take my time and do an audit of all those habits without feeling rushed to make immediate change. The hope is, by the Yamim Nora’im I’ll have come up with a way to improve them.

Looking at my living room/soul, a few things jump out at me

  • laziness / lack of follow through — especially after travel, coming in and dumping everything on the ground is a perpetual problem for me
  • procrastination / rushing — we rushed out the door, leaving the house fairly messy before we traveled, we rushed in the door and made it worse
  • prioritization — while I think household chores don’t need to be #1 on the priority list, they should probably be higher than they are on mine
  • hypocrisy — asking my kids to clean up after themselves when I clearly can’t

Other things I’ve done to kick off Elul, and which I plan to write more about in the coming days:

  • Downloaded an app that measures my phone usage
  • Started a 2-day juice detox (I actually do these every few months except while I was pregnant/breastfeeding) — afterward I plan to either go vegan or find some other way to eat healthier
  • Listened to Kirtan Rabbi’s Achat Sha’alti

Stuff I didn’t get to yet, but plan to incorporate:

  • Shofar… not realistic for me to get to shul every day, but maybe I could aim for a couple minyans a week? Looking into livestreaming options too.
  • Tzedakah — going to try to incorporate tzedakah into family Shabbat practice, and also try a “give away a toy before getting another toy” for my kids
  • Plan to recite Achat Sha’alti myself before bed — maybe come up with our own melody, as the traditional tune seems too upbeat, and Kirtan Rabbi’s never quite worked when Michael and I tried it
  • Creating and finding other -psalm melodies

Please feel free to contact me or comment below with your Elul observance – would love to hear!  I am not currently on Facebook, so commenting here or emailing me is the best way to reach me.

About the Author
B. Shira Levine writes about Jewish spirituality and observance, parenting, intersectionality, and the U.S. and Atlanta Jewish communities. Views are her own and not those of her employer, synagogues, or any other organization.