Happily Eva After: Ushering in 2015 the Eva way

Painting by Pepe Fainberg (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
Painting by Pepe Fainberg
(photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
 I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve.
Unlike the upcoming Purim (Costumes? A feast? I can get behind that!), it all seemed forced and not particularly fun or meaningful.
Oh sure, growing up in America everyone made a show of New Year’s resolutions, but to my mind, they largely seemed to revolve around cosmetic issues like losing weight – and the grand gym plan was forgotten by the time February rolled around.
Besides, us Jews had the High Holy Days with which to atone.
As for the eve itself? Oh, the pressure to go somewhere good! (I blame you, Dick Clark, of the televised ball dropping!) It usually ended up being overpriced, overcrowded and under-enjoyable.
Unexpectedly, one of the most memorable New Year’s Eves of my adult life was here in the Holy Land a few years ago. A group of us, good friends, got together in one of Jerusalem’s most upscale restaurants for their holiday special. We all dressed up – moi in a slinky lamé dress I hadn’t worn since my Manhattan days.
The ambiance was festive, the food delicious, the champagne toast made the countdown less twee.
The irony is that I am no longer friends with most of those people.
One girl, in her usual way, had too much champagne, and sodden with drink, spent much of the evening crying in the bathroom about her latest ill-fated hookup. Ultimately, I couldn’t take the drama and put distance between us. Another, one of my closest compadres since making aliya, had fallen in with a shady man. Eventually, despite my efforts, he isolated her and made our friendship impossible.
While sad, it was the right decision to put an end to the camaraderie, as our group dynamic was unhealthy and we needed to disband.
Despite my lack of affinity for New Year’s Eve, I now find it fitting that the tipping point for these particular amies was that holiday night – since it is supposed to have some component of reflection of the past year, amid the revelry.
As such, I’ve kind of seized the opportunity in the years since to do a mini-evaluation of The Year That Was.
I respectfully submit some lessons learned in 2014:
Continue to cut the drama out of life: While some level of excitement is clearly a positive, repeating the same actions that have gotten you into hot water in the past and expecting different outcomes is Benjamin Franklin’s definition of insanity. The dude was a genius – and he was right. Despite engaging in many of the same patterns for years, in 2014 I suddenly had less stamina for the same old consequences. Getting physical with a guy too early would make him lose interest in what seemed like a promising connection? I had to constantly walk on eggshells with that supposed good friend, and didn’t feel comfortable around her? Halas.
Unfollow: In my quest to surround myself with good energy, I found it increasingly hard to deal with some of my social circle’s questionable life decisions and negative patterns, playing out before my eyes on Facebook. Yet to unfriend them would bring the unwanted dramz (see above). The solution? Unfollow! I no longer get their updates and selfies on my feed, and they are none the wiser. It’s all very #ModernProblems, but I’ve honestly felt mentally healthier since I stopped seeing this crap on my computer screen every dang morning alongside my oats.
Cultivate role models: As part of said quest to surround myself with good energy, I needed to find those I could go to for advice for those thorny dating dilemmas and/or everyday issues that pop up. My mother, sadly, was back in the US of A; a lot of my friends had gotten the heave-ho or were in Tel Aviv. What to do? I searched for those I could admire, and happily, found a healthy outlet at my workplace: where one woman, a few years older, had been through many of the same issues, yet managed to get happily married – and understood perfectly what I was going through. Another was around my dear mother’s age, and offered hand-holding and encouragement. These women have stable lives; luckily, I now have the benefit of their advice to guide me in my journey toward stability.
Let go of the lingering shame: Growing up in Woody Allen-esque New York City, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, is it any wonder I have an instinct toward Jewish guilt? This, in my case, often manifested itself as feeling shame about life events that “weren’t part of the plan.”
One such event was my divorce in my late 20s. Growing up, most of those around me had healthy marriages; it never occurred to me I could make a mistake in picking a partner. But out of naïveté and a desire to settle down, I did. Luckily, I was able to rectify it after a short time, without the complications of children – and with the full support of my family.
Yet the shame came – from me, and others who didn’t have my best interests at heart. I’ll never forget hearing about what a supposed friend from high school had said, explaining to another former classmate why she didn’t call me back when I phoned up after my divorce.
Happily married herself, she simpered, “I just couldn’t bring myself to speak to her. The divorce... it’s just so terrible.”
The words haunted me. Never mind that a year later her husband was thrown in jail for being a slumlord.
Karma, I bow to thee.
In any case, I’m no longer friends with that beer wench. But beyond that, this year I resolved to let go of that kind of self-destructive shame.
I hadn’t murdered anyone! I had tried to do the right thing, and it didn’t work out. I had moved on, and tried to rectify my choices.
Why not demonstrate a little compassion for my late-20s self? It’s an ongoing process, of course, but I’ve definitely felt lighter since.
Recognize how far I’ve come, and the work yet to be done: Every time I’ve found myself breaking a pattern, I’ve given myself the proverbial pat on the back. It ain’t easy! I set boundaries with that admittedly cute guy whose idea of a second date is coming over with peach schnapps? I got up at 5 a.m. to write an article, instead of hanging out at the bar the night before and putting it off for another day? Sababa – “You’ve come a long way, baby girl.”
Eat what is healthy, filling and delicious, work out copiously and do what I want on weekends. Lather, rinse, repeat: Since I was very young, I’ve been obsessed with food; it’s a hobby, a love affair. But I’ve also been very conscious of maintaining my health and figure. It always seemed hard to reconcile the two.
Yet in Israel, land of the Mediterranean diet, I seem to have found the solution above, which works for me.
Watch it during the week, exercise like a fiend (also does wonders for my mental health) and relax and enjoy on Shabbat. I’m not the size I was when I was 20, but I can live with it.
• Moisturize: This anti-aging magic bullet needs no explanation. Clinique, I am forever indebted to you for your glorious “yellow” moisturizer, which enables me to still get asked out by fellers eight years my junior.
Wishing you all a very healthy, happy and well-thought-out 2015!