Have a Little Faith

I need to start listening to my own advice.

Today, I was tutoring a friend’s daughter in algebra. A smart, confident girl, she got particularly frustrated at one point, letting her pencil fall, heaving a giant sigh, and saying, “It’s just not worth it. I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I’ll ever do this.”

I picked the pencil up, put it back in her hand, stared straight in her eyes, and said, “Yes, you can. You just need to have a little faith.”

Except in calculus. No amount of faith can save you there. I advise running far, far away.

After a few tries, many eraser marks, and some elbow grease, she was able to work out the exact problem she thought she was incapable of solving. I was so proud of her, but more importantly, she was proud of herself.

Lately, I’ve been finding myself worrying more and more about our friend who has cancer. I find myself oscillating between being very positive, and seeing everything turning out alright, and, well, the opposite of that. I’m an optimist by nature, but sometimes there are certain things you just have to be real about. I’ve yet to decide which this is. I think I need to have a little faith myself.

We got a call from our friend, who let us know that the doctors believed they figured out his cancer had not spread to his other organs (so it’s not stage 4), nor are the cancer cells themselves very mature, so there’s a decent possibility that the stage could be lower. Hopes are high; he goes in for surgery within the next few weeks, where they’ll find out more and hopefully be able to remove some of what’s there. He asked us to keep up with the good thoughts and, coincidentally, faith.

Perhaps that’s my resolution for the year. I never officially set one, and though I don’t particularly feel the need to set one, I don’t see any harm in reminding myself, the same way my student did, that sometimes, all you need is a few tries, many eraser marks, some elbow grease…and a little faith.

Life to the Fullest

I’ve had this post written in the back of my mind for weeks. The one where I come back, enormously apologetic for not posting in ages, and I dazzle you with my wit, my humor, and a couple of out-of-this-world recipes to distract you from my glaring imperfections. Though I am enormously apologetic for being away as long as I have, last night showed my why I shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

You see, though I’ve worked hard throughout my life to curb it, I am by nature a perfectionist, your classic type A+ personality. Writing in a journal was stressful for me because I felt like I needed to write deep, soul-searching entries every single day in order to be “good” at journaling. Sometimes I have the same feeling about this blog: I need to have fancy recipes, artistic photography (ha!), laugh-out-loud prose, and constant, consistent updating in order to be “good” at it. It has to be perfect before I can enjoy it. Never mind what was actually going on in my life; never mind a hectic schedule, work to do, a cat to play with, family to call, or a BF to love.

Last night, I hosted the oneg (a sort of reception for after the shabbat service, for those of you not hip with the Jewish lingo – it’s okay, I’ve got your back) at our temple. I worked all day to bake challah, cut cantaloupe, wash and chop veggies, and plate everything so it looked pretty, perfect, and effortless. It went well: my rabbi and his wife couldn’t get over the challah, people loved the fresh fruit and veggies during winter, and we all had a great time. Everything was perfect, and so, I felt satisfied.

Time it took me to complain that one challah was lopsided? About 3 seconds after I pulled it out of the oven. I loved my mom's comment: "Slice it up first, and no one will know the difference!"

Then.

Then we learned a dear, dear friend of ours has colon cancer. The friend who’s always so happy, so giving, so…everything. And whatever BF and I had going on just stopped. We packed up the leftover food and went out with him and some other close friends. We ate, we laughed, we harassed our good-natured waiter and laughed more. We hugged and kissed and promised to be there, no matter what.

Since our friend doesn’t know yet what stage or how advanced his cancer is, there’s been a lot of praying up in here. But, at least on my part, there’s been a lot of thinking as well. Thinking about how delicate life is, how suddenly and quickly it can be snatched up, regardless of how messy, organized, imperfect, or even – gasp – how “perfect” it may be. I’ve become immensely grateful for the fact that I have life to enjoy.

With that, my dear readers, the ones who still come back and check to see if there’s anything new, even while I’m away (seriously, I can’t believe I’ve had any page views – I fully expected to login and see rows after rows of big fat zeros), I am sorry I haven’t posted. But, and this is a big but, I am not sorry for why. I was busy, I was crazy, the holidays were everywhere and so was I, but you know what? I was living my messy, imperfect life to the fullest. And it was wonderful.

My cantaloupe was also quite wonderful, if I do say so myself. Best excuse to buy a melon baller ever.

I hope to share some of my adventures over the next few days, and most definitely some new recipes, new adventures, and new musings, perfect or imperfect. Either way, this is my life – and I’m happy with it!