Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Four-Letter Word of the New Year

Rosh Hashanah just ended, and here we are in the new year, 5770. Every Rosh Hashanah I spend a lot of time thinking about the year that's past. In some ways I'm not sad to see 5769 go. It had its fair share of aggravations and heartaches. But, it was the first year in the past several years that actually showed some forward movement, with the new house and the adoption. So, it ends up, by the end of 5769 the cup was at least half full.

Rosh Hashanah is always difficult for me, not because of looking back at the past year but because it means I'm faced with looking forward. We do have so much to look forward to this year! But for me, looking forward at the start of a new year means making resolutions. I hate making resolutions. I am really, really bad at keeping them. Until now, I thought that was because I'm a big procrastinator - why do something today when I can do it tomorrow? Or next week/month/year/decade? I also thought that my inability to keep to resolutions was because I tend to set my goals really lofty and often unrealistically. But I've realized, that's not it either.

It's because for a long time, "SELF" has been a four-letter word to me. And that has in many ways kept me from keeping my resolutions - because by definition, a resolution means a goal that you set for yourself. It's hard to attain a goal you set for yourself when "self" is a four-letter word.

I don't know when this happened. I think it set in after college, when I started teaching high school. I really loved teaching, and loved those kids (the ones I spent the most time with - two years as 9th and 10th graders - just had their 10-year reunion this weekend!) - and for probably the first time in my life I had to give my all to something and put 125 kids, in some ways, before me. The person who was "Alison" became "Miss Edelman." Then she became "Mrs. Zimbalist." Then "Mom." And all these other hats, and all the responsibilities that came with them - education editor, rabbi's wife, nursery school founder, business owner, curriculum writer, PTO mom.

At some point, I brainwashed myself into thinking that "self" meant "selfish" - that if I spent 1/100th of the time on doing things for me instead of for others, that this was somehow wrong. Better I be selfless than selfish. And somewhere along the way, I became self-less.

So, 5770, I'm taking you on. If there is one thing I'm really good at, it's multitasking. So I am resolving, to myself, that this year I am adding one more thing to my plate. I'm going to do things for myself - for my self. I am going to do things that I like to do more often, things that have nothing to do with anyone but me - like reading books, and getting pedicures, and going back to the gym! And more importantly, I'm not going to feel badly about it! (Or, at least, I'll try not to feel badly about it. I am a Jewish mother, you know.)

I am looking forward to seeing my self again.

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