3 years – it’s been 3 years since I packed up all my craft boxes for what was supposed to be a very temporary move. Three years since I blogged.
We had so much going on at the time I packed those boxes up. I had just learned some insights about myself and one of the kids that I am still trying to come to terms with - I was entering the last stages of my residency in psychiatry and had to go back to working full time, and endured changing workplaces twice over a two year period. My oldest was becoming a teenager and finishing middle school, my youngest was in the midst of her terrible two’s and my middle one was getting the proverbial squeeze. On top of all that, we started building a new cabin on an island that does not allow cars. In hindsight I think we were nuts! But something had to give and so we decided to give up our beautiful 4th floor walkup. In a glimmer of self-insight, we decided not to buy and potentially renovate a new house at the same time as we were building a new cabin. We thought it would only be 8-10 months or so before the cabin was finished and we could get on with our lives. Or so we thought. Thank G-d we did not start yet another project! As we got into zoning trouble at the island and the actual work at the cabin got delayed, and all of a sudden it was time for B’boys Bar Mitzvah and, let me tell you, that really was like planning a little wedding.
At this point it was almost a year since my craft boxes had been packed down and I missed them, but how could I allow myself to ”indulge” with all the more important stuff we had going on around us? Time out for a blog post? Unthinkable!
Gradually more and more of the things I really thought was important, like eating healthy and not using disposable cutlery, started falling to the way side. This way of life could so easily have slipped into the norm. Around us we saw that being Jewish in Norway was getting harder and harder. There had been a horrible attack on an event in Copenhagen. My children had experienced open anti-Semitism in school and our community house and kindergarten was being guarded by police with loaded guns. Norwegian police ordinarily don´t wear arms. I was on alert daily and surely came of as paranoid to all my non-Jewish friends and colleagues. But as Woody Allen puts it, ”just because you are paranoid, does not mean that no one is out to get you.” And this tension, it made it hard to calmly raise our kids with the values we hold important.
Then one day my husband came home and asked “how do you feel about moving to London for a year or two?” Oh an adventure! I thought YES YES YES. But, the decision meant a halt to my residency and even more crazy stress before we left. But oh what a gift to our family and us. A chance to recalibrate and stake out a new course of direction mid- life? An opportunity for the kids to take part in a bigger Jewish community? How could we possibly let such a chance slip by? So about a year and a half after my craft boxes got packed up and we got the bar mitzvah behind us (B’boy did such a great job!) I started preparing for my second switch of hospital department and our move to London, all the while the construction out on the island was still going on. At this point we were no longer nuts, we were absolutely in the denial of what is within reason to get everything done. And last summer it all came to a crunch. Within the same three weeks we furnished the cabin (still not completely finished) moved out of a rented house, placed most of our stuff in storage and shipped half a truck to London.
Arriving here a year ago I felt like a rag doll. I usually have more thoughts and ideas before I have my first coffee in the morning than most people have in a week, but at this point had no idea what I wanted to do, or could manage to do with all this time on my hands. Of course none of us had thought about the fact that just moving to a new country and settling with a family of five would be rather busy in of itself. Making the adjustment was more challenging than I thought. Then we got a dog and I started walking and thinking. And gradually I caught up with myself and the family has settled. We’ve joined a lovely synagogue and slowly a rhythm has started to emerge. It took a year.
And now right before Rosh Hashanah I have unpacked the last of my boxes!
What I have found over these past few years is that what really matters to me finds a way to manifest itself and bring me about. It always has. I have found that the more hectic your lifestyle, the more strained your relationship to yourself and the people around you becomes. Not to mention how much more junk you consume under the” busy” excuse for convenient choices. I have experienced firsthand that the more stress you are under, the first thing you let go of are the things that helps you cope – they don’t seem as vital or urgent at the time – but letting them go could have detrimental consequences.
Most importantly, I have learned to accept that balance is not static – balance is having faith that you will rebound in the bad moments but even more so its knowing that the good moments are not the norm you are striving towards its the moments you somehow express gratitude for because that’s how you maintain the balance.
For this insight I am grateful and I wish you all a healthy , meaningful and sweet new year! Shana Tova! - May we all be inscribed.