High Holy Days and Reconnection

The last few months have been an utter whirlwind. That’s a major understatement! Any of my friends or family reading this post know, it was a topsy turvy year for me, starting with an expired passport.

My husband and I missed the winter in our beloved village of Ajijic and spent two and a half months on the Jersey Shore through the gracious generosity of one of my dearest friends. Finally getting to Mexico at the end of March, staying until mid August to witness the most beautiful of seasons, the rainy season, and then to Northern California for a family function and reconnection. I’m setting the stage here so bear with me! Northern California was followed by a short stay at another dear friend’s apartment in Jersey City, then back to the Shore to pick up our car, and then a week at Hunter Mountain until we could get back into our rented-out house at the end of August! It makes me laugh just to type this! My husband called this “a Joy trip!” A bit convoluted, over stretched, circuitous. but in my mind, oh so logical!

The beauty of the last several months, both in Mexico and the U.S. has been reconnecting with people, whom I had not seen in a year and a half to two years. Like many of us, Covid left me afraid, cautious, super aware of our potential to infect. It was only after being double vaccinated that I felt liberated, free. The opportunity to hug, wrap one’s arms around another human being, kiss on the cheek, double kiss, embrace was wonderful. You don’t realize how much you miss it until you are deprived of it.

I always knew that family and friends were important to me and I try very hard to maintain relationships. I know who is good at calling, initiating, texting, Facetime, What’s App. I know who is not, but that they are thinking of me and they just didn’t get around to reaching out.

This brings me to Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, just celebrated by observant Jews around the world. Yom Kippur is a day of reflection, a day of prayer, heavy duty prayer, much standing, chanting, singing, repenting. We ask God for forgiveness on this one day with an open heart, keen focus, and humility. I have celebrated what are called the high holy days all my life, from childhood to now. Many of us fast from sundown the previous evening to sundown the next day, a period of 24 hours, no drink, no food, no marital relations no bathing, no work, nothing but prayer and thought. I light candles in memory of my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents, as my mother did before me. I say Yizkor, a service in remembrance of those who have died. With tears in my eyes, I recite Kaddish, an ancient Jewish prayer for the dead. It is a one day solemn holiday, but also a time for hope, joy, and optimism, as we are given a chance to start anew. We ask God to inscribe us in the book of life, to be granted a year of good health and happiness.

I think about the power of reconnecting with people who are dear to me and the holiday I have just observed. I feel hopeful that life with all its ups and downs, will deliver whatever is meant for me, for my family.

And so this topsy turvy year that started with an expired passport, a missed winter in sunny Mexico, and a wealth of riches in seeing people I love comes to an end , at least on the Jewish calendar. We celebrate 5782 and look forward to the world’s new year 2022 in January. We pray for more hugs, more visits in person, more celebration, peace and good health.

Today’s Takeaways

-Know how fortunate you are to reconnect with friends and family. A global pandemic might take that away at any time.

-It is not a given the people you love will be there tomorrow.

-Reflect, ponder, think, be grateful for what you have on this earth.

And as always, enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay & Joy

Spring Forward!

The entire elementary school was to participate in a play called, The Season of Happiness. My fourth grade class was assigned the part a “jury” of forest animals who one by one had to stand and vote for a season. I was decked out as a squirrel and had one line. “Spring!” Being shy to the point of selective mutism, I was quite nervous anticipating my big moment. Would I trip on my bushy tail? Would I forget my one syllable line? Well, I guess I nailed it because I remember thinking, Ah, this is my future! I had heard that shy kids come alive when they adopt another identity on stage. My squirrel self would obviously lead to Shakespeare. Or maybe an appearance on one of my favorite TV shows like Get Smart (Agent 99’s young assistant?) or Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingall’s best friend?)

But alas, my one and only line remained just that. The following year my class was the choir and the music teacher took me aside and asked that I mouth the words and refrain from belting out what was apparently not exactly on key. (I never sang aloud again, thanks to Mrs. Thayer.)

But one thing did emerge from my brief but stellar theatric career. Spring still gets my vote for the happiest season! And that’s not just the squirrel in me talking. I love March in Chicago where snow makes valiant attempts to demand shoveling, but then is rained out two slushy days later. I love April when robins debate whether to rehab an old nest or try a new build. And I love May when flowers blast their color combinations and our wintry, nightmare-ish forest preserve is transformed into full green glory.

Spring IS the season of happiness and there is science to back that up.

According to The Massachusetts Daily Collegian: An increase in exposure to sunlight in Spring and Summer is able to produce an increase in feelings of positivity on two counts: our bodies’ natural and chemical reaction to getting more vitamin D and the consequences of getting to spend more time outside. Exposure to sunlight also increases the production of serotonin in the body.  Psychology Today calls serotonin “The Confidence Molecule” because higher serotonin levels are associated with increased self-esteem and happiness.

Spring of 2021 brings light that goes beyond the normal burst of serotonin – we are emerging from the tunnel of Covid and catching a glimpse of brighter days – when vaccinated Grandmas can hold their arms wide to receive running hugs from toddlers or finally get to hold their four month old grand baby for the first time.

When we move our clocks forward this Spring of 2021, let’s celebrate that tunnel giving way to light. Let’s raise our glass in remembrance of those who succumbed to the virus, let’s toast the nurses and doctors who held phones to their ears as they lay dying; let’s thank God for the companionship of dogs who never left our side, and let’s hail the robins as they show us what rebirth looks like.

This Spring I may just have to dress up as a squirrel and relive my glory days on the stage!

Today’s Takeaways

-Hey Mrs. Thayer, you can’t dismiss me from singing to myself, joining a choir of angels thanking God for reminders of rebirth.

– Not everyone can pull off that bushy tail look. It takes practice. 🙂

Enjoy the ride!


Barclay and Joy