What Lies In the Stillness


I. Love. Fall.  Terry gets her groove back.  Even as a child I always felt like a new person the day I could wear my first sweater.  My whole outlook on life changed.  (Here in Cali, I have yet to wear my first sweater … )

Terry and the Sears Christmas Catalog

After I outgrew the Sears Christmas catalog, the fall issue of Seventeen magazine became my new seasonal love.  I would spend hours looking at wool skirts, leggings and over-sized sweaters (it was the 80’s) dreaming about living somewhere with seasons.

To me, perfect weather means you are wearing shorts and a sweatshirt.   Socks with sandals.  Heaven.  Not really socks and sandals, except when you’re in Vermont or Maine.

I remember reading The Preppy Handbook and begging my Mom to send me to boarding school in Massachusetts.  Instead she sent me to Young Jr. High.


I love nothing more than swimming in a pool heated by the Texas sun after the sun goes down.  But there is nothing more draining than the Texas sun in the summer.  It sucks the life out of you.  I feel the same way in Woodland Hills.  By the time the last heat wave breaks I am begging to move anywhere.  Please get me out of here.

I watch specials about hotels made of ice on the Travel Channel.

Fall has always felt like the beginning of my year.  The actual beginning of the year always felt like the second week of Christmas vacation.  I stay up late and watch the ball drop.  Or something worse on another network.  But new year?  No.  From a calendar perspective I really can’t argue with it, but I am convinced we do not keep new year’s resolutions because the new year happens in the middle of a sentence.  After all you spend the first day of the new year possibly hung over and waiting for this huge new year’s day meal.  Then you say, “I’ll start after all of the bowl games are over.”  By then it’s Martin Luther King day, so you decide okay, I’ll start after that weekend.  Then it’s the Super Bowl … so by the time you get around to any resolution you may or may not have made, it’s February.

What’s the point?  You might as well wait until spring.

I have not made a new year’s resolution in so long I cannot even remember.

Fall is the beginning of a sentence.  You start school.  You switch your closets.  Your yard changes.  All sorts of decorating begins. You dress up.


I do make resolutions.  This year, I want to learn to make Challah, but depending on my schedule I might have to settle for Texas Toast.

There is a break from that heat.  That unrelenting heat.

It wasn’t until after I converted to Judaism that realized the new year – Rosh Hashanah always fell in the fall. Perhaps I have been following the Jewish calendar all along?


This year as the new year began all four of us flew to Madrid.  Non-stop.  12 hours.  There and back.  Yes, it was insane to fly with one-year old twins, but if I had it all to do over again … I would do it again, but I would rent an apartment rather than stay at a hotel.  Hotels are hard with two babies.  Vacation Rental By Owner is my new best friend.

Rosh Hashanah came and went without much fanfare.  But I thought about it a lot amidst the nine million other things I was thinking about while in Madrid. This year represents the most monumental amount of change ever in my life.  New mom.  New job.  Constantly feeling pulled in all directions praying I don’t screw everything up. Sometimes I still screw everything up.

I take multi-tasking to a whole new level.  I am constantly failing and forgiving.  Failing to get it all done.  Forgiving myself and getting up the next day to do it all again.  I’m not sure how my Mom or grandmothers or great-grandmothers did it.  There is a certain amount of Texas grit I inherited in my ability to put my head down and power through.  I am grateful for that.

I am told all new moms feel this way, with or without the new job.  I still go to yoga when I can.  I eat gelato often.  Both of these things help.  Talenti Gelato is my new addiction.  Sea Salt Caramel.  German Chocolate Cake.  Oh. My.

While in Madrid, I began to think about the traditions I wanted to implement when the boys were old enough to participate.  I’m not a go through the motions kind of gal, so everything I do has to come from a place of authenticity.  Kids can feel when you’re going through the motions.  I’ve been dusting off all of my Anita Diamant books.  Specifically, this one.

I will never speak Hebrew, but I will sing in Hebrew. I will never keep a kosher kitchen, but I will cook kosher meals.  Unfortunately, my chicken n’ dumplings — even if made with kosher chicken — will never be kosher.  I will make it anyway.  I’ve always said it’s not as important to follow every rule as it is to know the rules and then choosing which ones to break.

As their Mama, it is my job to make sure they know the rules, understand the traditions and hopefully love the rituals I create for us.  So, I contemplate if chicken friend steak is an acceptable Rosh Hashanah meal?  I determine it’s probably a little too out there and look at brisket recipes.  Brisket I can do.

This year I went to my first Kol Nidrei service with my in-laws.  Kol Nidrei is the service held the night before Yom Kippur.  This is where the prayer is recited that ushers in Yom Kippur.  We went to services at Temple of the Arts.  I was exhausted.  We were there for three hours.  Even though I loved the service — the music (my favorite part), the pagentry, the theatricality — by the time we left I was half asleep.

The next day we went to Yom Kippur services.  Famous people like Sela Ward and Mary Hart came to the bimah and read various words of wisdom. As enlightening as it all was (and it really was) my mind wandered.

Day of Atonement.

Even through the beautiful music and the poignant words of many, I “left” the Saban Theatre more than once during the more than three hour service.  I sat quietly amongst many, silently atoning.  My mind scrolled through all the things I wish I had done better since the dumplings arrived.  I thought about how I am constantly over-extending myself in ways that are unsustainable.  I breathe.  I contemplated the times when I was unkind or thoughtless, especially to those I love the most.

Those we take for granted.  Those who love us in spite of ourselves.

At one point, I stopped and focused on the stage as whoever was talking said, “God is not in the storm He is in the stillness.”

It was in that moment the day became clearer.  I opened.  I shifted.  I connected.  I took a really deep breath and vowed to be more still.  That was where I would find my answers.  My kindness.  My calm.  My truth.  All there, living in the stillness.

I cried through the Yizkor service silently thinking about the loss of my cousin David, Selma and my brother-in-law.

Even on the drive home, as I was sweltering in the un-air conditioned car (my husband is convinced he is “allergic” to air conditioning … which is another blog), I was still rocking my new-found stillness.

I walked in the door to two beaming little boys playing, smiling and jumping up and down at the sight of me.  So much joy entered my heart.  Don’t get me wrong, it was complete one-year old chaos.  Jackson ripped my glasses off of my face and James started trying to kiss bite my knee.  In a moment of heat-induced desperation I tried to convince myself that a Dr. Pepper was kosher on Yom Kippur.  I did not give in.

I had a iced tea instead.  Know the rules and then choose to break them.

That night after I sang my nightly rendition of Edelweiss to the Dumplings, I added a new ritual.  The Shema.  The most beautiful of all Hebrew songs.

Of course, James truly still prefers Princess of the Prairie and Wagon Wheel — but I’m sure it will grow on them.

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