Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
As I prepare for the New Year, I’ve started coming up with some resolutions to make it a good year. Here are my top 10 resolutions for 2016 — things I hope I can sustain all year long, and that will make my year that much better, and in a lot of ways, that much more Jewish!
1. Donate to charity. How many times have you been sitting in your car, talking with a friend, scrolling through Facebook— and heard about a charity that piqued your interest, but then you just let that interest pass you by? I’m resolving that at least once a month, I’ll pick one new charity and send a donation — even small donations can make a big impact.
2. Volunteer. Giving of your time doesn’t have to be too time-consuming. You might be surprised at how many organizations are looking for people to come by for a short while — even just an hour or two: Animal shelters need people to walk and bathe dogs, schools need readers, highways need cleaning, and the elderly could use someone to listen to their stories.
3. Look at a new prayer or religious text. How often have you cracked open your prayerbook or Torah commentary… just to read through it? At least once a month, let’s just take a few minutes to try to find something new. I love this activity because I forget the vast number of beautiful, meaningful, and transformational pieces of insight that exist in Judaic texts, which often provide me just what I need to keep going.
4. Schedule some monthly fun. My goodness, it’s easy to forget to have fun. Days blend together — I wake up to my dog’s cold nose nudging me, go to work, run errands during lunch, finish work, walk the dog, eat dinner, maybe watch a show or deal with house issues, go to bed and do it over again tomorrow. Sound familiar? Once a month, let’s very intentionally do something fun — it doesn’t have to be complex but reminds you that life is more than work, bills, and taking care of others; your happiness needs to matter to you in your own life.
5. Participate in some type of group, club, or hobby. This can help amp up the fun, too! We often think of hobbies as something for children, or book clubs for our beloved grandmother. Let’s resolve to reclaim clubs and hobbies in 2016! Whether it’s a sports team, book club, or knitting class, let’s get involved.
6. Cook something new each month. I am not known for my cooking skills. But this year, at least once a month I’m going to find a day to set aside some time to cook a “proper” meal and try something new while doing it. Try making a game out of it with your friends where each of you takes turns hosting a potluck and brings your “new dish” — a great way to get others to share in this resolution (and hopefully, some good meals)!
7. Indulge once a month. Don’t hold back: Splurge and let yourself do something that you would feel guilty doing if you did it daily. (Double order of dessert, maybe?) Give yourself monthly permission to just dig in and enjoy the moment!
8. Laugh till you cry. Although I recommend doing this every day, once a month is better than nothing. I am serious when I say that you should actively work towards finding a way to make yourself laugh so hard you cry. Go to a comedy club, watch your favorite show, hang out with your goofiest friend. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
9. Send a random note of kindness to someone. If you have ever been on the receiving end of this, you know how special this can be. Once a month, actually pick up a pen and paper and write a note to someone randomly thanking them or telling them how much they mean to you — I can’t wait to lift my own spirits and someone else’s each month with this one.
10. Reject passivity. This one is the hardest, at least for me. Each of us has those things that we get frustrated by or feel helpless about. Take a stand. You don’t have to solve the problem vexing you immediately, but work on it so that you don’t feel overwhelmed, defeated, or frustrated. Often the most challenging part of a solving a dilemma is actually starting to work on it.
Join me in these resolutions — or share your own! Either way, good luck in finding ways to make 2016 meaningful, not just in the short-term but all year long. Happy New Year!
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.