A Second Glantz at 2015

Okay, I guess it’s really a first glance since I didn’t publish a single post to this blog last year. Thanks to a mixture of Mommy brain and anemia-induced memory issues, I couldn’t give you a month-by-month recap if my life depended on it, so I’m turning to these great Personal Year in Review questions to help me reflect before moving onto my One Little Word tomorrow.

What did I do this year that I’m really proud of?

I’m so proud of the work I did as the Community Relations Director of a local non-profit. From being one of only 15 programs that received a grant out of 55 applicants, to helping a group of students combat marginalization on a university campus, to publishing a new community magazine, to taking on local government officials when they were doing wrong, to working with the FBI to keep our institution safe when potentially threatened, to assisting victims of the “1,000 year flood,” I truly feel as though I made a difference in my community this year. Even when I was teaching, I’m not sure I felt like I was contributing the way my current job has allowed me to – and as I write the words, I realize – this isn’t just a job; it’s a passion. How lucky I am to have finally found it.

This may sound silly, but I’m really proud of myself for achieving my reading goal of 30 books this year. Granted, some of the success is owed to my child for the nights he refused to sleep anywhere but in my arms, but I’m proud of myself for reading instead of playing Words with Friends, and I’m equally proud that I took time for myself before bed to read instead of watch TV. I’m most proud of myself for reading more adult titles than young adult ones this year (which I attribute, in large part, to my mother-in-law and her awesome book recommendations).

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EXHIBITIONDespite my lack of presence here, I wasn’t completely absent from the blogosphere. As a contributor to Columbia SC Moms Blog, I published several heartfelt posts, but the one I was most proud of this year is Five Unbelievable Superpowers All Moms Develop. Why? Because this was an idea that I had been sitting on for months. Tried as I might to finish it, it seemed an impossible task. It’s hard to write a funny piece when you’re not in good humor. But, for whatever reason – perhaps just to prove to myself that I could still write with a sense of humor – I was bound and determined to finish and publish the article. While the article wasn’t my most successful one in terms of how many times it was “liked” or shared, it’s the one that I consider to be the greatest success.

What are the top three lessons I learned?

I finally learned to listen to my body and do whatever it takes to make my doctor hear it, too. If something feels “off,” chances are there’s a legitimate reason behind it. You have to be your own advocate, and you can’t be afraid to share all the details, no matter how trivial they may seem.

Through a terrifying near-accident, which found me doing figure eights into oncoming traffic, all of which – thankfully – somehow managed to avoid hitting me, I learned just how important it is to be present. I wasn’t texting, talking on the phone, drinking coffee, or eating while driving. But I was thinking – fuming, really – about something that happened at work before getting in the car. Even now, I shudder to think how those absolutely pointless moments of fretting about something beyond my control could have resulted in my son losing his mother. Thus, I try really hard these days to clear my mind before getting behind the wheel.

While this is not a lesson that I have put into action as of yet, I’ve learned that I need to write everything down. This lesson is twofold. First is the practical application: I am one of those lucky people who used to be able to rely on an elephant-like memory for appointments, meetings, and the like. But because “Mommy brain” is not a myth and because my brain is so cluttered with work and all other aspects of “adulting,” I will forget to show up to a meeting if it’s not written down (confession: sometimes I forget even if it is written down). The other meaning of this lesson is a sentimental one. Surely, I thought, I will remember this [whatever adorable thing my child has done or said] when I have time to write about it. Nope. Not even a little bit. When my son one day asks, “Mom, what was my first word?” I may have to make it up. If I go back to social media and 23 Snaps, an application we use with our family, I can probably piece things together, but that will ultimately take more time that the minute it would have taken to record the moment when it happened.

What increased my happiness and joy this year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need I really explain?

No matter how your 2015 was, I hope this year is an even happier one! I look forward to connecting with you more in 2016.

An unexpected answer

18-year-old Cheryl with Aunt Ruthie and cousin Ellen
(along with Uncle Sam and cousins Ricky and Allen)

At last night’s Women’s Passover Seder, the leader posed the question, “Which woman/women from your life had the biggest influence on you (Judaically speaking)?” The first participant spoke about her mother. Pondering the question for myself, my mind turned to my own mother. No doubt, she has influenced me in many ways, the vast majority of which I’m truly grateful for, but she’d be the first to tell you that she had little to do with my present-day observance of Judaism. The next participant spoke about her grandmother. And so my mind turned to my 95-year-old Gram from the Bronx and my Grandma Lil, who I only knew for a few years before Alzheimer’s transformed her into a stranger. I learned a LOT of Yiddish from Gram; I didn’t realize how much I knew until I started having regular conversations with Jewish people outside my family. “You probably don’t know all these words I’m using. They’re Yiddish,” an older someone from my community once said. “Actually, I do,” I responded in surprise. But how? I thought to myself. And then I remembered how my Gram, when I was younger, would give me a rough English translation after every Yiddish word and phrase she used. Eventually – unknowingly – they became part of my vocabulary. According to my dad, I would have learned equally as much about Jewish cooking from my Grandma Lil, but by the time I was old enough to understand, let alone appreciate, the meaning of her keeping a Kosher kitchen, she was too far gone for me to learn from her. She did take me to synagogue for the very first time, but I was so young that the only thing I remember about the experience was the Stella Dora cookie I ate there. Her sister, my great-aunt Rose, popped into my mind next, as I remembered that her kugel was the first one I ever tried. Aunt Rose, Uncle Arnie, and their daughter Barbara gave me my first taste (that I can remember) of Jewish observance, as I watched Barbara’s oldest son, who wore a kippah (yarmulke), wash his hands and say a blessing before our meal. Would my answer then be my aunt? Or would it be my Great Aunt Ruthie or my cousin Ellen, both of whom introduced me to the rituals of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur? As I discussed it with Hubby later in the evening, I realized that while these strong Jewish women were definitely influences, my answer was surprisingly not them.

We’re on a camel!

The woman who was the biggest influence on my Jewish identity was a young college student who was virtually a stranger to me. Last minute, Rachel was “randomly” placed as my third roommate on our Birthright Israel trip. Nervous about accidentally offending our other, Orthodox roommate with my lack of knowledge about Judaism, I relied on Rachel to answer my questions about keeping Shabbat, which she did with the utmost patience and respect, never once making me feel as stupid as I was afraid I sounded. At services, she explained the unfamiliar prayers that I now say from memory every weekend. She unlocked for me what I thought could only be accessed with a key given to you at Hebrew school.

Rachel and I remained friends after we returned to the States. Continuing to live Jewishly together on the University of Florida campus, Rachel helped me host my very first Passover Seder, guiding me through the foreign rituals, and helped me navigate the dining hall so that I didn’t accidentally eat anything I shouldn’t. After college, Rachel introduced me to Temple life, and years later, I was by her side as a bridesmaid in her Jewish wedding, as she was by my side at mine.

Had I had a roommate who was not as open as Rachel, not as patient and understanding and nonjudgmental, I might not have had the same Jewish experience, might not be living Jewishly the way I do today. And so it is to Rachel that I raise my Manischewitz, with sincere gratitude for her selfless sharing of knowledge and the hope that I can pay it forward.

Then & Now

Then & Now

Moi circa 2001

December 2001
Ten years ago I had just come back from a Hillel conference in Washington DC. I remember feeling a renewed commitment to Judaism, as well as excitement about my future involvement in the Jewish community at the University of Florida. At the same time, I was studying to become an English teacher, enjoying the company of new friends, and exploring a relationship with this really cute TA of mine. I went home (Orlando, FL) to spend the holidays with my family and then went to NYC to celebrate my grandmother’s 85th birthday.


December 2011

Reunited with Rabbi Andy, 2011

Life, in many ways, has come full circle. I just came back from the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial in Washington DC, where I enjoyed the company of new friends and experienced a renewal in my commitment to Judaism. It reenergized me to do my newish job as the Community Relations Coordinator for the Columbia Jewish Federation, a type of job I wanted to do after grad school but ultimately forwent in lieu of a teaching career and a life with that cute TA, with whom I celebrated my sixth wedding anniversary last week. I thought the ship of professional involvement in the Jewish community had long sailed, but, as the saying goes, it’s apparently never too late. The icing on this circular cake for me was reconnecting at the Biennial with the man who is largely responsible for my involvement in Jewish life. After taking my seat to hear President Barack Obama speak, I turned around and happened to see my Hillel rabbi, the one who sent me on my trip to DC ten years prior. As I write this, I am in a place I now consider one of my homes with my (married into) family and am looking forward to calling my Grams to wish her a happy 95th birthday.


December 2021
I have no idea what the next ten years hold, but I hope I’ll be able to look back with the same awe, fondness, and gratitude as I feel for the past decade of my life.


Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!



I’m leeeeaving on a jet plane…

The best gift I’ve given myself this year is that of travel. From the weeklong vacation I took to California at the beginning of January to see a dear friend get married, visit my dad, and meet my stepfamily

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to a Memorial Day reunion with my best friend in Chicago

to the impromptu Charleston dinner cruise I took with Hubby during the summer

to our return trip to Charleston over Thanksgiving weekend…

these little getaways provided much-needed mental holidays. Though the trip I’m leaving for today is not purely a vacation – I’m attending the URJ/WRJ Biennial in D.C. as a representative of my temple’s sisterhood – I’m looking forward to one last getaway, catching up with people I haven’t seen in over a decade, having fun with new friends, and OMG hearing the President of the United States speak.

Yes, the best gift – one that I am incredibly grateful for – is being fortunate enough to travel and experience fun times with good friends.

#Resound11: The Year in Review

The start of December has been BUSY, and I’m afraid there’s not much promise of it slowing down anytime soon. Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t try to squeeze in some time for reflection. After all, you have to consider where you are to know where you’re going. Jaemie, from my old stomping grounds in Johnstown, started a wonderful site, #Resound11: Reflect & Reinvent, to focus participants’ and readers’ reflections about this past year as we think about the year ahead. As I can use all the help I can get these days when it comes to focusing, I decided (albeit a little late, as per usual) to play along.

One Word
My intended one little word for 2011 was REALIZE. One could argue that, through what became a very trying year, I did realize according to the first definition of the word, to understand; I realized a lot about myself, and that’s always a good thing. The fact that the second definition of the word, to make real (a plan, dream, etc.), didn’t come to fruition saddens me. In fact, it led me to think that the real word for 2011 should be disappointing, but I concluded that this wasn’t a very fair evaluation as there was a lot of good that happened this year. Really, the word that sums up the year is SURPRISING. Some surprises were not so great (hi, third layoff in two years!), and some, like getting to meet a favorite author, were happy, welcome surprises. For good or bad, the bottom line is that this year didn’t turn out anything like I had planned. As such, I was reminded that I can’t control everything; the only thing I can control is how I react to what happens, and that’s a realization I’m going to take with me into the New Year.

Vices
I successfully gave up caffeine… for less than a month. Diet Coke is my kryptonite. As far as vices are concerned, it’s not the worst I could have, right? The vices I need to give up still remain negative self-talk and procrastination, which I’ve realized only fuel each other.

Virtues
Fortunately, I think the good I’ve done this year outweighs both the inaction and not-so-great habits. I’m most proud of how I’ve jumped into the community and have begun practicing what I preach through volunteerism. In the past year, I’ve dedicated my time to sit on boards, head committees, raise money, and – most importantly – teach.

Superpower
Sadly, my most recent superpower is being bitten by fleas. Seriously, guys, I fought the fleas, and the fleas won. Hm, is it a superpower to parody songs? In all seriousness, I think my greatest superpower is that of flexibility. Whether in my classroom on Sundays, at work, or while planning an event, if something doesn’t go as anticipated, I’m pretty darn good at rolling with the punches. Perhaps I can one day learn to apply this superpower to my personal life.

Theme Song
Neko Case and Nick Cave’s version of She’s Not There really spoke to me this year. Of course, it helps that the song was the theme for the first episode of True Blood this season, but more than that is the fact that, until recently, I spent the majority of the year not feeling like myself, as though I wasn’t there.

I thankfully feel less like that now; however, it’s still a great tune to dance to!

Thelma & Louise
Having been fortunate to find a great group of friends here in Cola, there are a number of Thelmas to my Louise. Some would bail me out of jail, some would probably be sharing the cell with me, and a few would be there afterward to help pick up the pieces. There might even be one or two who would be willing to drive off the cliff with me…given enough alcohol.

Achievement Unlocked
Though I’m by no means great at it, I can say that I learned to read Hebrew this year. This is something I’ve wanted to learn for the last decade and simply never took the time to do. I’m glad I allowed myself the opportunity to finally realize this goal.

Catch Phrase
While I still love my catch phrase from 2010 (so much so that I had to include a video of it again),

there is a phrase that I found myself saying a LOT this year. SRSLY. Written, spoken, or texted – whether you end it with a period, question mark, or exclamation point – “seriously” gets the job done. Don’t know what I mean? Watch the clip below. Seriously.

I’ve always loved this word, but since I started working with middle schoolers again, I find it’s become a more frequently used part of my vocabulary: Seriously, did you just do that after I told you not to? Seriously?! Yes, you’ve earned the right to lose your recess – seriously.


And thus wraps up the first week of #Resound11. I’m looking forward to a little more reflection this month and a whole lot of thinking about how to make the coming year better.