s we prepare to celebrate Pessah this year, now is the time for our own personal
renewal, as Spring approaches and the beloved rains of winter slowly diminish.
When we think of Passover, the first things that come to mind are the intense
weeks of pre- Pessah cleaning and lots of planning of meals in anticipation of
the weeklong celebration.
As a result, we often come to the Seder table
dropping from exhaustion and weakened by the dread as to how the various family
members will get along. On top of this, as we review the past several weeks,
many feel drained and devastated by world events.
The concept of freedom
and renewal, one of the central themes in the Haggada, the retelling of our
ancestral journey, may seemingly be overlooked unless we remind ourselves that
this is what the celebration of Passover is really all about. Perhaps now is the
time to do some real emotional spring cleaning. Maybe this night, this
week, this year can be different from all others if you actively take stock of
where you’ve been and where you’d like to be going with your life – as an
individual, within your family and as part of the greater community.
individuals, personal growth and renewal can come from examining who you are and
what you value. What gives you meaning in life? How do you define yourself and
your role? Are you living the life you’d like? What are your dreams? What are
your short and long term goals and how do you plan to achieve them? If you
discuss or write down a concrete plan, you’ll be more likely to
Choose projects that are realistic. For example, if your goal is
to actively change your health habits, see a doctor, start a practical nutrition
and exercise program, plan how to get more sleep, keep a journal, monitor and
reevaluate your efforts. Or perhaps you feel that time eludes you and you’re too
busy to do things that are important for your own well- being.
need a break from intrusive technology. Turn off your cell phone after six and
check the computer only once a day. More time, energy, and greater balance in
your life might enable you to enjoy the freedom of a good book, a walk in nature
or simply quiet time relaxing. You must recharge your own batteries before you
can help others.
It is, as well, a rare person who would not benefit from
taking time to work on their relationship with their partner and other family
members. Assess how you spend your time and when you last spent quality time
with someone you cared about. What values are important to you as a couple or
within your family? Can you make yourself available to both hear and listen to
what your loved ones would like and can you share your thoughts, beliefs and
dreams? When did you last tell your loved ones you love them? Did you tell them
why? What makes them special? And as we go through the Passover story, when did
you last look back at past generations and personally retell your own family’s
history to your children and your grandchildren? This is the time to involve
your children, pique their interest and encourage them to ask questions, lots of
questions. If you don’t have the answers, maybe now you can speak with older
family members or work with the younger generation and learn together. These are
the projects that children will remember for life.
Finally, spring is a
time of hope, of rebirth. As individuals, how can we rededicate ourselves to
enhance our small community, our city, and our country? How can we give to
others who are less fortunate than us? This giving back to our community is a
big step in creating happiness for ourselves and in creating real freedom for
all those we care about.
Perhaps as free men, women and children sitting
around the Seder table, you can explore ways to work together to enhance our
collective survival. Like the wise son, determine which questions can and should
even be asked. Here are some suggestions to start that process of your
own renewal: Imagine a 24 hour vacation and then make it reality. Be
spontaneous and try something different. This opportunity to pause and
rejuvenate may consist of a night camping or a stay at a local B & B, a trip
to a museum, a day playing tourist, taking a course, or a long bike ride, hike
and a picnic.
Nurture every relationship that is important to you. Make
sure you have a non-judgmental friend who you enjoy being with and
Turn off technology. You can control your devices rather than
having them control you. What we once thought would save time, may actually
deprive us of time and deplete us of energy.
Don’t make yourself promises
that you don’t passionately want to keep. Separate your goals into “have
to’s” and “want to’s” and then prioritize things to ensure a healthy balance
between self-nurturing activities, family, work and leisure. “Ought to’s” and
“shoulds” just create guilt so strike them from your vocabulary! Look at what
you can minimize or omit all together. You can’t do everything so be
Let go of perfectionism and acknowledge that you can’t be or
do everything for everyone. Put on your own oxygen mask first and make sure your
own needs are being met before you try and help others. Let others know what you
need. They cannot read your mind.Time, energy, money and ability can
either enable or prevent you from reaching your goals and being
Listen to both your body and your mind. Get enough sleep, eat
properly and take care of your basic needs. Life looks much better when you
Take time to be your own best friend. Remember, how you treat
yourself lets others know how you are willing to be treated.
declutter your personal and professional life. You will feel lighter and better
If you tend to procrastinate, focus on getting started
and not on finishing a task. In life it is the journey and not the destination
that is often important.
Vary your activities to avoid boredom and
Volunteer. Do something for someone else and you will
Be positive. See problems as
Find ways to be grateful and appreciative.
to pray, meditate and enjoy life. Take the time to smell the roses and make
every minute count.Dr. Batya L. Ludman is a licensed clinical
psychologist in private practice in Ra’anana. Her book, ‘Life’s
Journey. Exploring Relationships Resolving Conflicts,’ is to be published