First off, thank you to Mozer G over at Hasidic and Jewish Thoughts for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Since this is my first time being nominated for anything related to blogging or writing, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m clumsy about how this works!
You should check out both of their blogs if you are interested in Judiasm and, in particular, the spiritual aspects of it, the parts that aren’t just dry halakhah, but that really get to the heart of it. My favorite post by Jewish Thoughts, at least most recently, would have to be her post My Duty As A Jew, which I think put words to a lot of what I’ve been feeling regarding current events. Over at Hasidic, I find his posts get around my issue of fumbling with too many words and cut right to the heart of a subject and a great example of that is his post G-d’s Hide-and-Seek Game.
And on to the rules of this contest, which sound pretty fun!
- Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
- Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
- Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award.
- Write them 11 new questions.
- List the rules.
- Display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog
Since I got nominated by 2 other blogs, I’ll be ambitious and answer all 22 questions, unless they overlap, starting with Hasidic‘s questions.
1. If you can become any creature, what would you choose to be?
I think I would choose to be a dog. I know dogs are rather looked down on often in Jewish thought, but having lived my life mostly in their company, I find they have a lot of admirable qualities. Their loyalty and devotion to their families, their unconditional love, and their ability to live fully in the present moment no matter what they are doing are all qualities I admire. I also think, if I found the right family, it could be a pretty wonderful, relaxing life full of love.
2. If you can choose to live in any time and place; Where? When? Why?
It may sound a little odd, but the 1700’s in the Ukraine sound pretty interesting. There was a lot going on as far as Chassidic thought is concerned, but every time I read about that time period, I’m also struck by the lifestyle. I grew up on a farm and fondly remember living closer to the land and I think I could be at home on a shtetl. I also admire the simplicity of life, even if it was austere. I know how to pluck a chicken, so I think I could survive! I would also have loved to hear some of the great Rabbis and Rebbes of that time speak.
3. If you need to give up on a shower or coffee in the morning which would you choose to keep?
Coffee, hands down. It’s the warm hug I need to face a dark Alaskan morning!
4. What do you do for fun?
I love hiking and snowshoeing in the mountains. I always see something beautiful that takes my breath away and there’s nothing quite like being out in the woods and fresh air with my family and our dog.
5. What drives you to blog?
I’ve always needed to write even though I’ve rarely shared what I write with anyone but my husband. There is a need for the words to get out and a relief that comes once they have. As I write, I feel like I’m weaving the words together to form a fabric. This blog in particular, however, comes from the same place as my prayers. I cry out in joy or pain or confusion or elation, the same way I do in prayer.
6. What is your dream profession?
Those who know what I do for a living will probably laugh, but actually…I dream of being a housewife and stay at home mother, like my mother. I would love to be able to devote myself fully to my home, husband, and family and really make it a warm escape from the world for all of us. The career I work in may impress other people, but all too often it feels like a distraction from what is really important, but for now, that paycheck and the security of being able to help provide are also very important.
7. Would you live in the house you grew up forever?
Unlike most people, that’s actually a choice I could make. After my parents pass, in their will, I inherit the homestead. It’s a good, sturdy house in the middle of fields and fields of corn and soybeans, with a windmill that my father put up the day I was born. Sadly, though, it’s a million miles from the life I feel called to live. There are no Jews there and no Synagogue. I also think I’d find it too quiet now after living in different cities my adult life. I hope to find a family member who would love to live there and who will take care of it, when the time comes.
8. Movie or Book?
Book, always. The movies leave out SO much!
9. Snow or rain?
I’m fond of both, but snow would have to be at the top. While rain is calming, snow transforms the world into something magical. Even living somewhere where we measure our snow in feet, I still get excited at a fresh snowfall and stick my nose against the glass windowpane to watch the big, fluffy flakes fall. My children dig burrows in the snow and my dog tosses it up in the air with his nose or takes big bites out of it. Here, it heaps up between mountains, forming deep blue glaciers that feed streams of teal.
10. Do you like meeting new people, or do you dread it?
I like the idea of meeting new people much more than the reality. I’m the person who will happily schedule something social, then look at the calendar the day of and wish she could stay home. Once I’m there, I’m fine and I do fine, but getting there requires some willpower. I also often find myself sitting off by myself alone, lost in my thoughts. I think it’s hard for new people to get to know me and I find I struggle to give them openings to do so.
11. What would you want your children to be when they grow up?
I want them to be content and kind to others. I would want them to be thoughtful and caring. Beyond that, I’d hope that they wouldn’t have money or job titles or material objects as their main focus or goal. As long as they are able to earn enough to eat and to provide for their needs, I hope they find a career or calling that gives their life meaning and helps them smile more easily.
And, now on to Jewish Thoughts‘s questions:
1. What is your favourite book?
That’s like choosing a favorite child! At this moment, though, the one that springs to mind is Lonely Man of Faith by Rav Soloveitchik. I read it almost every year since I first read it, usually when I am feeling alone and I always feel comfort in his words that seem to really describe that kind of loneliness so well.
2. What about your favourite recipe?
I enjoy cooking almost as much as I enjoy reading and have a LOT of favorites. My latest favorite, though, would be this lemon herb chicken we had last week. Of course, that might just be because it’s really rare that we get to eat meat here and that chicken was anticipated for weeks!
2. Do you like travelling?
I love traveling, particularly to other countries, but any excuse for an adventure is fine.
3. Is prayer important to you?
Yes! I do find more meaning, though, in praying in my own words most days, unless I’m at shul, then I can find myself getting lost in the songs and words and finding a connection there that doesn’t need words. In my daily prayer, it’s more a conversation, but praying in shul, when it’s really good, is more like a dance. My daily prayer is more a connection from my head and communal prayer, at its best, is more a connection from my heart.
4. What is your favourite place in the whole world?
There is a (mostly) ghost town in the Eastern part of Alaska called Kennecott. It was built by wealthy men of the East coast, the Guggenheims among them, as a copper mine. At one time, it had its own railroad and was the most developed place in Alaska, boasting the first x-ray machine. Now, it’s mostly a historic site. It’s an adventure just to get there. After a day’s drive through Tundra and past glaciers from Anchorage, you have to stop for the night because the road at Chitna, the closest real town, turns to gravel and is dangerous. The next morning, you wake up and it takes 1-2 hours to travel the gravel road that winds around where the old railroad right of way used to be, along the copper river. There are steep dropoffs and often large boulders have fallen into the road, which is mostly a single lane winding through canyons and across deep ravines and around mountains and through forests. It’s not uncommon to have to stop to wait for moose. Then, the road ends. You park and walk across a foot bridge to the first mostly ghost town, McCarthy, four miles later, up a trail made for wagons, you reach Kennecott. It’s nestled between the wild, snow-capped mountains of the largest National Park in the US and root glacier, the dirt and sand covering it looking like a landscape from another world. From there you can walk through the town with it’s historic exhibits and ruins and to the glacier itself which you can walk on.
I love it because it is such an adventure to get there and not nearly so many tourists take the trouble. I also love it because it is a place that seems trapped in time and distance. It’s breathtaking and well worth the journey every time we go.
5. What’s your favourite way to spend friday night?
At home, with my family, for Shabbat. None of us can really sing well, but we always try. We each tell 3 things we were grateful for that week. My daughter reads us the parsha. My husband and I each read a commentary or story about it. We eat things we can’t or don’t eat the rest of the week. By the end of the meal, my daughter will have snuck slowly into my lap and I will have pretended I didn’t see her sneaking, catlike, to cuddle against me. We’ll bentch horrifically out of key, but we’ll sing the entire thing, then, if I’m not too tired, we’ll play a board game of some kind, my son always getting distracted from winning, yet enjoying talking a big game anyway. It’s perfect.
6. Would you rather it was always winter, or always summer?
Having moved from Florida, I really like that there are different seasons! That being said, with our long winter still not over, I can’t say I’d want it to always be winter, either. I guess if I had to choose, winter?
7. Why do you enjoy writing?
Writing brings release. If I’m feeling very strongly, I write, whether it’s a strong positive emotion or negative one, there is a pressure there to let it out into the world through words, similar to the pressure to cry out in prayer. Once those words have a form and have been woven together, I feel a sense of relief. I give birth to them, but like my children, they come through me and then have a life of their own.
8. Are you proud of your blog?
I’m not sure. I’m proud that I finally gave my words a home, but my blog itself…is just as winding and complicated as my life. I don’t usually go back and read something after I’ve written it. I let it out and then I let it go. It no longer belongs to me. I am grateful for my blog and for anyone who gets something from it. I think that fits more how I feel about it than pride because I often don’t feel like it’s really “mine” if that makes sense.
9. Do you prefer emails or telephone calls?
Emails. I call my mother, but that’s about it and I do it because I feel like I’m a bad daughter if I don’t!
10. Would you rather read, or write?
I need both in my life. That being said, I read a lot more than I write and I’d rather read what others have written than my own writing.
11. What is your favourite memory?
Right now, it is my son when he was small and I had done something to upset him. He looked up at me with the most pitiful expression and said, “You cracked my world.” I remember crying with him because that was just such a perfect way to express that feeling. I could picture his little world with a huge crack down through it, like a globe ripped in half and I could absolutely remember having felt that way. It was such a beautiful, completely unfiltered and innocent expression that he shared with me.
Whew…that got heavy! Now, on to the bloggers I nominate in return. I don’t know if I have 11, but I’ll try…
And yeah…that’s all I’ve got.
My questions, if those nominated would like to answer!
- Have you ever had a moment that completely changed your life? What was it and did you know its significance at the time?
- At what age did you begin to write?
- Have you ever had a moment that made you feel tiny in comparison to creation? What was it?
- What is the thing that makes you get out of bed on days you’d rather stay curled up?
- What is something few people would guess about you?
- What is your favorite song?
- What is your greatest comfort when you feel sad or sick?
- If you could change one moment in your life, what would it be?
- What would you like for people to remember most about you after you are gone?
- What is the best joke you’ve ever heard?
- Where would you be and what would you be doing right at this moment if you could be anywhere doing anything?
Thank you to those who nominated me. I hope I didn’t let you down. To those I nominated, please only respond if it feels good to you, but know I do enjoy your blogs and would love to hear your responses!