Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

Wrapping it up, starting again…and asking for your help

(Grandma613, courtesy of morguefile.com)
(Grandma613, courtesy of morguefile.com)

If you could pick one word to describe your 2018, what would it be? For me, I think “change” best characterizes mine. If you’ve been reading weekly, you may have seen an occasional blog referencing or about my personal life mingled in among blogs on the world around us. There has been a lot of change: preparing my home of 15 years for a new life (a.k.a. a bit of fixing up and renovating); going through it and deciding what to keep, sell, donate; moving into my then-fiancé’s house; becoming a landlord and watching my house become the backdrop for another family’s childhood memories; going back to school to pursue a dual master’s degree without a clear direction of where it will take me; starting a new role at work that previously did not exist and which did not yet have its organizational home; getting married for the third, yes third, time (though this time to my bashert!); becoming an empty-nester with my husband, as we both saw our two youngest off to school. Yes, “change” is an apt description.

And while it sometimes takes a bit of gumption to alter the path you’re on, I felt no uncertainty or personal risk in any of it. And so, when Sarah Tuttle-Singer asked her Facebook followers for the brave things they’ve attempted in 2018 in order to include it in her blog on bravery, I had nothing to contribute. But in reading the final compilation, I realized how for some, some of the steps might’ve taken a bit of courage.

This made me think about bravery. Bravery comes from overcoming fears. Fear comes from thinking about the unknown and that can make people uncomfortable. The more you think about getting a shot, the more fearful you become. But at the end of the day, the injection is far less painful and over far more quickly than the time spent agonizing over it. Don’t think about it and fear will not build up.

And this makes me think about how we each have the power to control our thoughts, which brings me back to a favorite topic of mine, counting your blessings. As I expressed in the context of Passover’s song, Dayenu, “Once we fully internalize that no one owes us anything,” I wrote, “then we can more fully appreciate both who is in our life and all that is good in it. And we can also recognize that there but for the grace of others, we could be worse off or in another place or…or…or…a million other things. But we are not. We are where we are. We can – and should – always find the good in any situation instead of focusing on the bad.” The idea is that in being grateful, we are shifting how we think about any given situation. In another blog, I actually offered a “how to” on controlling out thoughts, on finding peace of mind; being grateful was once step.

After my wedding, I wrote about turning over a new leaf, mostly in order to strengthen personal relationships. Last week, I took a look at how we can make decisions, and how we have to, knowing that our time on earth is limited. This wasn’t the first time I expressed a desire to be a better person with my time. But I’ve yet to do it. And this bothers me.

To be honest, I think my inability to achieve the changes I want to make – those requiring self-discipline and prioritization – is where I fall really short. I ache for self-discipline, but struggle with prioritizing my time and effort and am almost ashamed to say how difficult this challenge is. It is a cop out to say I enjoy things like Facebook and the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to-o-o much.

The apps and websites that offer help to transform actions into habits are great (I know, I’ve tried quite a few). But only if you stick with them. I’ve not. I could lie to myself and say that the turning of the calendar page into 2019 could be the prompt I need to turn a year of “change” into a year of “conscientious change.”

I can see how visualization can keep something at the forefront of the mind, and I understand how actually scheduling time for the things you want to do is important. But how do you not stop seeing what is constantly in front of you…like that time I moved the scale to the kitchen in front of the refrigerator. It did not act as a deterrent for very long. Or the time I kept a task list in Outlook with dates and times for each item; it wasn’t long before I started ignoring the pop up reminders.

From research I’ve done about knowledge management in the workplace, I know that all the tools in the world won’t change a thing if the employee isn’t motivated or doesn’t see the benefit. We also know how New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside. Breaking goals down into smaller steps helps but that isn’t the issue either. Nor is asking for a partner to help keep me accountable (that seems weak and unfair). We need to own our obligations. I need to own mine. But I am at a loss as  to how. So…in this last blog of 2018, I am asking for your help.

It’s funny. Bravery, courage in Hebrew is ometz. Another form of that verb, lehit’ametz, means to adopt. Please share with me how you adopt new behaviors, that is, specifically how you are motivated to prioritize and follow through consistently when the self-discipline is lacking and the tools are ignored? If I get enough responses, I’ll share in a future blog. Thank you and happy 2019!

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture. Since returning to the U.S. in 2003; she has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta. An Ashkenazi mom to Mizrahi sons born in Israel and the US, MIL to a French Mizrahi DIL and an Israeli DIL whose parents are also an interesting mix, and a step mom to sons born in the South, she celebrates trying to see from multiple perspectives and hope this comes out in her blogs. Wendy recently wrapped up work as a researcher for an Israel education nonprofit and completed two master's degrees in public administration and integrated global communication, and is looking for her next opportunity. Her interest in resolving conflict had her also taking a grad school class on conflict management and completing certification as a human rights consultant, Wendy's interests also have her digging deep into genealogy and bringing distant family together. All of this is to say, Wendy's life has brought her to the widened framework she uses for her blogs: there are many ways to see and understand.