We’re entering my favourite month of the year – Elul! I am a bit of a self improvement junkie, so I connect super well with the spirit of Elul, which is all about improvement and going deep. I’m including here my notes on the month from a range of difference sources (links included at the end), and a video summary of some of those thoughts directly below!
Reflect on the past year, and when we have “missed the mark” and how to move forward.
Take ownership of our lives – don’t be a victim. Be honest with yourself.
Elul is the time of year when the call to become aware of exactly where we are, and — from that heightened awareness — how to proceed is amplified to its loudest levels.
Elul – hit the reset button. A month where we can make choices and have supernatural power to move forward.
Getting ready to forgive others for their “human-ness” too.
“Anger and resentment are heavy, sticky things. These feelings bind us to victimhood and tempt up to ignore our own culpability. Do yourself and the rest of the world a huge favor: act with radical compassion for yourself, and all other humans. In Elul, begin to let go of whatever you’re holding onto so tightly. The release will purify, heal, and liberate you. We promise.” – At The Well
Personal Journal Questions (From At The Well)
As a side note, I wanted to say that I am sharing these very raw and personal comments in an attempt to be vulnerable to help others who feel the same way feel less alone, (hopefully) document a way forward starting at the place I’m at now, and also – I find writing to be therapeutic! Please refrain from comments that are too “helpful” – I’m not looking for suggestions, just for my voice to be heard!
What is it time for you to wake up to? What is the Shofar blowing for?Wasn’t sure about this for a few days, but have realised I need to wake up to my humanity – as in the failings and reality of my body and health circumstances.
If you were on your deathbed today, who would you forgive? What are you waiting for?Myself. My body.
Which pain is pressing on your heartstrings at the moment?Not feeling loved/wanted/appreciated. Simultaneous feeling like a burden to others, but also alone – that there is no one I can rely on.
What are you returning to this year? Joyfulness and vulnerability.
What do you fear in this moment?Going through this conversion, which includes converting the children and for that to end up being a disservice to them – that they will reject parts of Judaism, and therefore would have been better off living as Noahides without the burden of being a Jew.
What do you desire? To be loved, to be in a loving regular (as in, meeting up regularly) mama community, to be close in location to my greatest friends and allies. My old life?
In what ways have you been alienated from your body and self?I think when you’re sick you can become really disconnected from your body. It’s what I imagine being old is like – that your have these moments thinking “I’ll do that” or “I like that thing”, and then in reality your body just can’t do that. Lately I’ve been exhausted constantly, and spend many moments in bed in the day. I still get up and do things, because I have little children to look after, and they need to DO stuff, but sometimes I hold back tears because I am just so exhausted. That’s really hard, because then logically I know that I slept well, and long, and really don’t do much, but the actual physical feeling of exhaustion is just totally overwhelming.
In what ways or moments have you felt alienated from the Divine? A lot. Just lately I feel alienated because I wonder why I have been brought to such a difficult time and place when my life was so wonderful before. I’m not sure why all these feelings are back. I wonder if coming back to these feelings in cyclical, or circumstantial? It’s not a constant feeling, but when it’s here it burns through my soul. I am finding it difficult to connect with Hashem, despite increasing my time meditating on Torah, and praying more.
Mindfulness in Elul
self love <- self awareness <- introspection (hello Elul!)
A big month of preparation – preparing physically for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. But also preparing spiritually and soulfully for change and renewal.
Selichot – days of mindfullness
Elul = mindfulness
Ways to encourage Selichot:
Meditate. Set aside some time to be with yourself, be with your breath, and notice what is.
Time for reflection/year in review. What happened this year? What was awesome? What was hard? What have been the biggest opportunities to rise to the occasion? The greatest joys? How did you grow? What did you accomplish? What are the things you want and need to leave behind? What will you let go of?
Forgiveness. Forgive those who’d hurt you, apologise for your part in bad relationships.
Spend time in nature.
Reconnect with family and friends. Send a card to welcome in the new year!
Set a practical intention.
Perform a ritual/mitzvah that’s like a fresh start.
Feminine month – month to receive as we turn within.
Letter of the month – Yud.
Yud represents the selflessness needed to come closer to Hashem.
First letter of Hashem’s name, Yisrael, and Jew (Yehud?).
Hashem is the inner point within us – meditate on this (the Yud) this month. The power of smallness and humility.
The first letters of the Hebrew verse “Ani Ledodi vidodi li” I AM MY BELOVED’S AND MY BELOVED IS MINE” ( SONG OF SONGS 6:3) spell our Elul, signifying that there is an intimate and loving closeness between God and people during this month.
Teshuva – the inner work of spiritual accountability and returning to one’s true essence.
Closeness with Hashem
Elul – Moshe returned to Mt Sinai to plead for forgiveness for the Israelites after the golden calf. So Elul is also a month of asking for forgiveness and self reflection of our sins throughout the year.
As liberating as it is to forgive others, it is even more important to love and forgive yourself.
In Elul, it is our “job” to get close to Hashem, and pursue this closeness.
In Elul we try to get close to Hashem. In Nissan it is the opposite – Hashem tries to get closer to us.
Blow the shofar every day in Elul except Shabbat, and except Erev Rosh Hashanah.
Elul is the month to be trying to be a better person in our aim to get closer to Hashem.
Fear of G-d is not the idea that if you eat a prawn you’ll get hit by lightening. This is not a truth of Judaism. True and right fear of G-d is the idea that if you eat a prawn you’ll be separated from G-d, and THAT should be where the fear is.
Relationships need constant renewal, and Elul is a great opportunity for this.
What can you add more this month?
Womanhood in Elul:
To meditate on the maiden on her wedding night – expectant, ready for her King, full of love and desire, happy and celebrating.
Goals fo Elul:
Meditate/Practice Mindfulness every day this month.
Once a week do deep inner work in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
All these ideas are from the following places:
At The Well https://www.atthewellproject.com/moon-manuals-all Mindy Ribner’s emails (email her to subscribe – beitmiriam (@) msn.com )
Live a Little Higher.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl16zFfgRsY
On my mind at the moment is preparation for the high holidays. Rosh Hashanah is just over 4 weeks away, then of course Yom Kippur a week later and Sukkot is hot on it’s heals.
In the lead up every holiday I always end up a grumpy ball of stress, usually at being the one who’s had to do everything, and no one else in my family opening their eyes to help. This year to try and combat that I’ll be having a sit down with everyone in the next week or two and detailing my expectations of everyone, which will involve everyone being proactive to help and keep things rolling. Okay, so this might be a bit of a stretch for my youngest two children, but it hopefully the message will be understood and taken on board by my husband and eldest son.
After going pretty hard core with children centred craft prep for these holidays for a few years (while we were just playing with the idea of this, and not committed to converting), the last year was much more focused on the technicalities of the days. This year I want to get in early and have a bunch of activities for my kids prepped and ready to make in the week or two before Rosh Hashanah, through to the end of Sukkot.
Here are some idea of things I want to do:
Colouring in activities
Maybe a big poster?
Stained glass hanging pomegranates
dried orange garland
Mini edible sukkahs
Plush items for holidays (plush strong and lulav, torah scroll, honey pot?)
Other items on my to do list:
Order some kosher meat and develop some menus
Get out boxes of decorations from last year and see what we need to be fixed/replaced/kept
Do a declutter in the house so that everything feels free and clean for the new year
Email all the fam to start the ball rolling for a family get-together
Hey everyone! I have an art journaling process video for you today. I used some pages from a children’s book for this page, which is part of my “Play” altered book.
I am keen to do a few more pages using bits from this book. The illustrations are beautiful, and because they have a watercolour-ish style they are relatively easy to add to and turn into a cohesive page!
Let me know what you think! Do you ever use book pages in other languages in your art journaling?
Hey everyone! Over the last two months we’ve made a bunch more zero waste changes, which I thought I would update you on. I’ve done a vlog, which you can watch below, or continue down further to read all about what we did in June & July.
Traveling – tried out a cutlery kit. It was a good experiment, but it needs some more refining. I will probably try some bamboo cutlery rather than stuff from my cupboard just because I have to carry a few sets with me.
Plastic Free July – this was a fail for me. I wasn’t prepared, and neither were any of the members in my family. We’ll try this again another time.
Signed up to Spiral Garden’s zero waste course. I’m excited to have bought this course and have started this week. I particularly love the family meeting questions they have, and long lists of resources. I think it’s important to have the kids totally on board and educated about this!
Zero waste event hosted by The Source with Anita Vandyke (Rocket science) – Luke and I attended this together, and it was great to listen to her story and ask our questions. I wish we’d gone to the Bea Johnson event as well!
Continued with all things from May update.
Made spaghetti from scratch (holy delicious batman)
Added new compost bin
New keep cup so Luke & I both have one
Bought super cheap tomatoes to turn into puree/freeze to use instead of canned tomato
As you know from other blog posts our family is in the process of converting to Judaism. One of our recent lessons included learning the brachot for food, and when to say each blessing. We had already been practicing this for a while, so this wasn’t a big hurdle, but it was great to have some of our more weird questions, for example – what bracha do you say for nori when eating sushi? Still trying to find out the answer. I don’t even know if you can buy kosher nori. We’re doing kashrut next, so that will be the biggest shake up so far I think…
Anyway, back to this art journaling page. I feel like I need to make some sort of disclaimer to say that this isn’t a complete “decision tree”, and it’s not intended to be used as a teaching tool or anything. Heck, I’ll probably not even look at this page again unless I randomly flip through this journal! I just wanted to make something relevant and this seemed fun. 🙂
Hope you enjoy this video! I will have another video on this blog over the weekend, and another one next week, yay!
I want to try and share my art journaling pages more regularly here. Not with big explanations and things that will stop me from sharing – it’ll mostly just be the pictures and that’s it! But I hope you enjoy them. I share my art way more regularly over on my instagram – @taliamakesart, so follow me there if you have insta!
Hey hey! I’ve got a vlog today sharing what’s in my bag! As a stay at home mum with three little kids (1 at school, 2 at home), I usually have a few random bits and pieces in my bag. Spare undies, a random toy, a lonely shoe, or even a few pens and a notepad. I took these totally random things out, and just showed you what I actually intentionally have in my bag. No one wants to awkward conversations about kids undies on youtube… Oh, and I put all the loose coins away too before my middle son confiscated them to add to this money box!
As we’re trying to be more sustainability focussed at home I have a few items in there to really help us with that journey! I’d love to know if there’s something you think I should have in my bag that I don’t have yet, or something I have in there that surprises you!
In just a month we’ve made a whole swag of changes to our lifestyle to bring us a step closer to living more sustainably. There is still a bunch of changes to make, but I’m feeling really positive about this journey, and what it’s teaching our children.
Here are some of the improvements we’ve made in May.
Consistently buying F&V from Charlie’s – and specifically buying ugly produce where possible, and requesting no plastic.
Consistently shopping at the bulk store for relevant groceries.
Made note of any groceries that I couldn’t buy bulk, or in a recyclable container. This list will be used in later months to either stop buying them, or find a suitable alternative. For example, this month I bought spaghetti in a cardboard box instead of in the plastic bag. It was more expensive, but my son specifically requested spaghetti over regular pasta shapes (which we can get from the bulk store). It would be easy enough, and easily zero waste to just make my own spaghetti (I already own a pasta maker), but it turns pasta from a quick “oh gosh, I can’t be bothered making dinner” kind of meal into a “okay guys, we need a few hours in the afternoon to get this done!” I would like to experiment with freezing spaghetti, as that would make it a more “easy” dinner…
Compost is going well. Have had to trouble shoot it a few times, but that’s going pretty well! Will need to consider a second compost of some sort as this one is already almost full!
I sewed those cloth bags for bulk dry goods, but my sewing machine died half way though, so I need to get that repaired to finish them off.
Sewed some extra shopping bags from some favourite fabric.
We moed house this month and didn’t use any new boxes (just got second hand ones off Gumtree) or any packing material – we just used the towels, sheets and clothes we already have!
Significantly downsized our home. This is important in keeping us more accountable for our space and what we bring into it, but also not using more than what we need.
Improvements to make in the coming months:
Stop buying grocery items that don’t come in appropriate packaging
Next Summer – bulk buy tomatoes and turn into passata to freeze (so save the bottles now!)
Start to shop at op shops for clothes instead of new shops
Put together a take out pack of plate and cutlery to go with water bottles. We started at a new playgroup this week that provides morning tea, but they use a lot of disposable crockery etc., so it would be ideal to bring out own. I have a bunch of wet bags I bought a few Summers ago, and I think that’ll be perfect to store this stuff in in our car. It won’t leak anywhere!
Thinking of reduced plastic ways to start our new veggie garden
Explore making a few of my own beauty products, or buying sustainable alternatives. I don’t use many beauty products other than face wash, exfoliator, deodorant, and mascara so hopefully this won’t be too hard…
Today we had our first class for our conversation to Judaism!
I feel like it’s a pretty momentous occasion! We sent off our application to the Beth Din in February, had our first interview in April, and our second interview in May. We were assigned a teacher, and have started classes! Nothing about this journey seems “quick” – I feel like it took an agonisingly long time to come to the decision to move to Brisbane and be part of the community, then just as long to get our act together and make some official decisions about converting, saving some cash, and putting in our application. Though some parts of that went quickly, in general this is something I’ve found we’ve had to be on top of, and keep pushing forward.
I was so glad that our first class involved an actual lesson, and not just chit chat about what we’re doing and why we’re converting (though it did include a bit of that!). We are started with the 13 principles of Jewish faith, and working through them one by one. We got about half way today, and will continue with the rest next week.
I feel really in two minds about the conversation stuff. On the one hand I am so excited about what we are doing, and on the other hand I feel the weight and seriousness of what we are doing. I mean, I feel the sense of commitment even more with this than when I got married! Perhaps in some ways it’s because I’ve been married for 10 years now that I have a more true understanding of what commitment is, and how it affects every part of who you are. I kind of hope that that sense of seriousness doesn’t leave me thought this process. This is truely not a light decision to make, and I want to make it with as full sense of its weight.
Of course I love Hashem, and I truly do love Judaism as well, and my heart is completely all in for keeping Halacha, so all this seriousness is weighed up with excitement and joy!
I suppose we’ve been downsizing for ages now. Years really. Let me think… probably when Eli was still a baby (he’s 4.5 now), was when this all started. Before this I was a moderate level hoarder. I come from a line of moderate level hoarders on both my mother and father’s side. I actually find quite a lot of joy in “stuff”, and things that bring back memories, and more than anything in having just the right and perfect things for a project somewhere in my stash!
For many years it has been with great pride that I can help my kids to make, on the spot, any craft project Mr Maker sends our way. Just a few months ago a friend sent me a photo of some lovely candles and suggested we make some for a girl’s day, and I said “Oh yes, I have a heap of soy wax we could use!“. In actual fact, I had a whole kit of candle making supplies including wicks, dyes, and scents.
I still like this part of me, even though we are downsizing and becoming more minimalist. For sure I do almost all of this to please my husband. Not in a weird “he’s controlling me” kind of way – just in a way where I know this is his preference, and that it would reduce his stress a lot if we had less stuff. Plus he is always going on about the cost of keeping “stuff”.
But on the topic of the cost of keeping stuff, let it be know that there is also cost in always having to buy new things. And there is also an emotional and stress-level cost in getting small children into the car and taking them out on an errand to get the “stuff”.
I do agree that physical clutter in your house, or space contributes to mental clutter, and I suppose that’s another of the reasons I am into downsizing and decluttering, because I certainly have plenty of mental clutter to get rid of. Plus I like to not have so many decisions to make all the time, and less things to clean up and tidy!
Anyway, I think that’s the end of my ramble post! Not sure what the point was other than to get this stuff out fo my head!