Yesterday was the holiest day in a Jewish person’s year. It was the day of atonement where we fast and apologize for all the mistakes we have made yearlong. Spending my day hungry, thirsty and headachey, I spent most of the day doing what I always do – beating down on myself.
“I’m sorry for not being a better mother (too much tv, too much yelling, not enough sitting down and playing with my kids, etc.).”
“I’m sorry for being focused on all the wrong things (not spending my time giving back more to those less fortunate, too focused on possessions, hung up on petty things, etc.).” Yadda yadda. It felt like the holiest day in a Jew’s life was my typical day, minus the starvation aspect.
Today at the gym, my teacher reminded us to have a focal point when doing our punches. Ironically, I was punching myself in the mirror. I spend the majority of my life beating myself up, although never really changing. Yet here in my exercise class where I’m specifically told to “beat myself up,” I am at my most peaceful place. Huh?
I definitely look at myself in all those many mirrors and scrutinize every inch of my body. I definitely try to work to the point of sheer exhaustion and if I get there sooner than others, spend the time frustrated that I couldn’t work harder. (Maybe the truth is I will never find complete contentment). The gym, however, has become my temple. It is a place I go where I work hard, feel good and am happy. In some ways, finding somewhere that can bring me to that place of happiness is a religious experience.
I have never been shy about my feelings of Judaism. Most of my devotion comes from the fact that my family is very important to me and my family has been practicing these beliefs and behaviors for longer than I can even wrap my head around. From a faith perspective though, I’d like to believe there’s something more but past that I’m just not sure. I will not forgo synagogue next year to go to the gym, although I would like to. In many ways, taking a moment to be FIERCE, look myself in the mirror and kick my own butt feels like my religion.
My mornings are often more stressful than UN negotiations. That wound up person follows me until I have my workout where I almost have a baptismal experience (a sweat cleansing). That experience gives me the strength to manage the rest of my day.
Yesterday I spent the day repenting – apologizing for what I have done, apologizing for who I am not and apologizing for apologizing. Today, however, I spent the day celebrating who I am and who I want to be (which is all in my control). Thank you to my teachers (my Rabbis), to my workout friends (my fellow congregants) and to my endorphins for that!