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Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Inga Roizman
I loved it. Two nights ago I was honored to see my coworkers, our residents, and other members of the community speak about what they need to learn most. I was struck by the vulnerability that each of them granted us with their lesson.
Some discussions were impassioned and animated, some were simply a gentle acknowledgement of shared understanding. All of it was amazing to learn together. I want to thank everyone that took their time to share with us.
Today, I’m still exhausted but inspired to learn MORE. I have the tendency to go way off into the philosophical and ethereal and I have to remember what is right in front of me. I have to be present and take care of the next right thing. This is the fundamental state I need to remain in, the present.
I think that’s the deal. It’s a practice.
There are some things I just don’t want to be mindful about yet. I still smoke although it’s not in alignment with the truth that it can kill me. That’s a space where I am not mindful and it’s filled with unconscious and conscious shame.
I suppose I’m in the contemplation stage.
The recovery culture simply propagates social cigarette smoking but, it is my responsibility to change what I do, I have a choice! Ugh, It’s so much easier to dismiss this whole notion of quitting and go on stinking like an ashtray.
Being present means looking at the truth.
I’ve made some changes that are more in alignment. I do not drink or take drugs. I don’t eat sugar. I’m working on extreme mindfulness with my finances.
Wow, I think I learned something.
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January 31, 2013 | 3:56 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Michael Soter
There is an ancient myth that states that the act of reading is an enlightening experience. Supposedly, the printed page expands the mind— whether it’s Socrates, the Bible, Ginsberg, or Stephanie Meyer. If I were to try to pinpoint the moment in history when anything written on a page was deemed educational, I would guess that it had to be around 1439. Before then, the written word was reserved for academics, priests, and the nobility. It was a sign of education. So, when Guttenburg developed a Western mechanism that allowed for the mass-production of printed material, the word spread—common people had instant access to what was once reserved for the elite.
This allowed for the popularization of ancient texts and in part, gave rise to the Renaissance—but what once opened the door to Homer has since opened the door to Us Weekly. Meanwhile some parents are still living in 1439 and demand that their children read, believing that this will make them intelligent and cultured.
With the advent of television came a new medium that could be brought into the home. A man named Minow, chairman of the FCC, said in 1961 that television had become a “Vast Wasteland.” Television was defined as a numbing medium.
574 years after Guttenburg and 52 years after Minow, we have an irrational dichotomy that goes something like this: “Books=Good and Television=Bad.”
Instead of looking at the medium, it might be more important to look at the content. I don’t quite see how 50 Shades of Grey is more educational than 60 Minutes. I don’t understand how Twilight can be seen as better for your kids than the latest episode of Homeland. After all, Minow also happened to say, in the very same speech, "When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.”
January 29, 2013 | 11:45 am
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Michael Welch
Enter the accelerator--benzoylmethylecgonine-- a continuation of invigoration. Expeditious-thought with sounds of reverberation and body left debilitated. It’s demonstrating an inability for any shot of stability. Psychosis! It’s perspiration due to locomotion begging to be stationary. It’s defined by incoherence but to it, it seems congruent.
Efforts then lead toward a desire to land; to conduct a chemical homeostasis.
Enter the tranquilizer-- diacetylmorphine-- an immediate bounty. It’s soft in spirit with ties to inclination, inclination to habit. It’s known as the seducer the go-getter for the unaccomplished. It’s the Bobby Frost of fixation, demonstrating the ability to shoot stability. It makes absolutely no sense but the sensation is so so sensible.
Egh… I’ve over-shot, or did I under-shoot. I didn’t mean it. Gosh, I’m not ready to go. When did I become it as it needs to be me and I don’t want to leave, but I’m going to go
Not just yet. It ain’t my turn. I need to make sense of this, let me clean this up. This crooked mind doesn’t excuse my crooked actions, action is a gift and I’m the inventor of the crooked. I’ve been taught that I can put anything I want in front of action, so today it will be my foot, followed by the other one. My redemption begins here; it resembles fight, resistance to devastation. It’s my physiological condition’s Emancipation Proclamation. I’ve put my life on the line for the last time, so now I’m putting my life on the line.
Abaddon! I won’t turn a blind eye. I’ve about-faced . I’m face to face. And I’ll tear you limb from limb if you cross the line. I’m committed to this quest, the Don Quioxte of recovery making a redeemer quixotic. I made my stand, and I swear to G-d, stepping on your throat will be effortless. Why would I pick you up? Where were you when I fell?
January 28, 2013 | 3:22 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Yeshaia Blakeney
The Beit T’Shuvah hallways have been an interesting place as of late. What happens when you take a handful of addicts and give them each their own blog once a week? Addicted to Redemption that’s what. If you've been following the Beit T’Shuvah blog, you might be noticing an interesting trend. Many of the blog titles have been provocative and circling around areas where humans are (for lack of a better word) weak. Titles including the words sex, food, marijuana etc.—sounds harmless enough. It's a ploy! They are catering to the lowest, most immature part of you! Don't fall for it! It's like reality TV or cotton candy; seems like a good idea until you’re finished then you have a tummy ache and pink sugar all over your fingers (or pink fingers in your brain with reality tv, (that's a metaphor)). There has been a war inside the offices of Beit T’Shuvah, a war for the most hits on our respective blogs. It started with a ginger friend of mine who shall remain nameless, a crafty salesmen and dubious Irishman who could sell ice to an Eskimo or intelligence to me. Then I got caught up in the competition on accident. Because of my natural charm and charisma, I of course attracted a descent following and unbeknownst to me became a competitor. Then it spread to the younger generation in the prevention office and it even infected our Cantor and Rabbi. The Irishman, the youngsters, (and I hate to say it) but even the cantor and Rabbi will stop at nothing to get your attention and I for one can't participate and intend to keep a steady course on the high road.
In all seriousness I'm all for a healthy competition, but the competition should be about meaning, writing, creativity and ideas, not just about hits and attention. It seems to me what's happening at the Shuv is a reflection of the marketing orientation in our society. No quality, all quantity. Kim Kardashian is one of the most well-known human beings on earth and she has done literally nothing (besides look amazing). But just because I put a provocative picture of her to promote my blog, I’ll win this week’s hit race, pathetic! It is amazing how quick we were all willing to sell our soul for a few quick hits, and it wasn't even crack. Well I am going to make a change. I say we all come together and create meaningful content! Not this pathetic garbage you all have been spewing for a couple of hits once a week. As the most talented writer of us all I would like to validate you by saying you are all equally clever, so enough competition. You all have lost your way, like the Jews in this week’s Parsha wandering in the desert, questioning Moses, wearing him down. I'm not saying I'm like Moses in this metaphor, I'm just saying. You might not all make this transition and not all of you are as wise and have as much sobriety as I do, but I think if we all commit we can stop competing and let our true selves shine for the world to see. It's time to redeem ourselves and get back on track! Addicted to redemption Forever!
January 3, 2013 | 2:30 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By BTS Prevention
Part of addiction is compulsion, and as this blog’s title is “Addicted to Redemption” we find that we must compulsively redeem ourselves. For us, redemption is not relegated to the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and it is not specific to New Years.
Jewishly and Secularly, these days are set aside to look at the past year and look forward into the next one. We make t’shuvah, we make promises, and we make resolutions. Often, these resolutions dissipate by the end of the day, week, or month. By February, we have fallen off the wagon and by May we have forgotten them altogether.
But there is a clear solution to this problem—become addicted to redemption. Make it a daily habit; change yourself every day. As we are fluid and dynamic beings, stagnation is synonymous with regression. If we do not make progress, we will inevitably fall. We must always be moving forward— however, it impossible to do this perfectly. We may slip, mess up, and move backwards. But that does not mean that redemption has flown out the window—it just means that we must recommit and rededicate ourselves to the process.
So, if you have already broken your resolution, don’t beat yourself up, because the process of change does not contain itself to the yearly markings of the Gregorian calendar.
Follow BTS Prevention on Twitter @BTS_Prevention
December 6, 2012 | 1:25 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By BTS Prevention
“But Mom, Johnny’s mom let him do it!”
“If Johnny jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?”
Does this conversation sound familiar?
Since the dawn of Jewish parenting, The Allegory of the Cliff has been used to illustrate the hazards of peer pressure. The pressure to get drunk, to smoke weed, to ditch class is supposedly analogous to a suicidal death leap. But this is not the reality. Peer pressure—especially the pressure to do drugs—is more like seeing your friend jump off a cliff, walk back to the top unscathed, and tell you how awesome it was. In the days before my first puff,
I was under the impression that jumping off a cliff would leave me in a pool of blood, thousands of feet below— this is what I had always been told.
But then I saw the truth with my own eyes. I saw classmate after classmate return from the apparent death leap, choosing to take another jump. They never once pushed me, prodded me, or told me that I had to jump after them. They didn’t need to. All I had to do was observe.
I didn’t see that some of those kids were jumping off the cliff because they were miserable. I didn’t see that some of those kids ended up in rehab, some ended up in jail, and some ended up dead. I didn’t see the whole picture. All I saw was the immediate reality, and the reality was that The Allegory of the Cliff was a lie.
Maybe we should stop lying to our kids. Maybe, instead, we should start telling kids the truth. If we don’t, they may do the unthinkable— they may start thinking with their eyes.
November 6, 2012 | 1:45 pm
Posted by Cantor Rachel Goldman Neubauer
In my experience, Beit T’Shuvah is the sort of community where it’s hard to fit in unless you are either aware of or are in the process of becoming aware of your dark horses and battling them. And no, those dark horses do NOT need to include alcoholism of some sort (hopefully you have picked up on this from previous blog postings.) However, since every human being has at least one demon that they struggle with, it’s actually a pretty easy community to become a member of—maybe the easiest and most inclusive of all—and your membership hinges only on your level of openness. Since I am, first and foremost, a proud member of the Beit T’Shuvah community, I will introduce myself like this:
Hi my name is Rachel and I am a perfectionist (amongst other things, one of which being the acting cantor at Beit T’Shuvah). How did I come to that conclusion, and why is that relevant to Beit T’Shuvah?
I started singing at a very young age, and hit a professional level when I was only 11. By the time I had finished high school, I was on a path to train to be an opera singer as a permanent career. What had started out as an extracurricular hobby that made me smile turned into the end-all be-all purpose of my life by the time I hit college and declared myself a Vocal Performance major.
There are so many aspects in the music world that are terrifying. In the classical world, perfection is constantly sought after and applauded. In the recording world, perfection is even electronically manufactured and therefore expected as a norm. For me, when I took the hobby and passion that had grounded me and handed it over to this world of demanding perfection, I was completely unprepared. Nothing could have more greatly demonstrated to me how un-whole I was. The only thing I was aware of in my early college days was this: anything less than perfection made me feel unequivocally unworthy, and I was supposed to be ok with that. As soon as things got even the slightest bit difficult, I started to drown. My body and my mind could handle this constant striving to be perfect, but my spirit could not. I thought it was my singing voice that was my curse and for many years had stopped singing altogether, but I now know that it was buying into this belief that was being shoved down my throat—this belief that, if I tried hard enough, I could be perfect.
Letting go of this belief could very well have been as hard for me as it is for a junkie to kick heroin. The thought of being perfect and chasing after its possibility is alluring, intoxicating, and incredibly addicting. And it is just as false as the belief that drugs will make everything better. Being in recovery from perfectionism, though, is just as rewarding to me as I witness any other recovery to be (and I get to witness a lot of recovery).
Though music is back in my life, I no longer buy into perfectionism. Instead, I put my stock into knowing that I am ok as I am, no matter what. No longer do I have some impossible standard that I hold myself to or perceive others to expect of me. And that, in my opinion, is also redemption.
October 19, 2012 | 11:33 am
Posted by Michael Welch
Since the dawn of my conscious self, I have been ruthlessly preoccupied with productivity. My father initially instilled the belief that being productive was paramount for success. As I matured, I began asking myself questions; where did I finish today? Was I in the black or the red, up or down? I fallaciously believed that if I was not creating or building, strategizing or negotiating, then I was not living.
King Edward VII and I share a similar demeanor of persistence. While I likely will not have an era named after myself, and he likely did not fill syringes with cocaine, his last words became my mantra: “No, I shall not give in. I shall go on. I shall work to the end.” But eventually, I lost the spirit of the words and could only reiterate the letters; I failed to apply my whole self, and remained only partly working. I could never feel fulfilled throughout my busy life, and I never experienced any sense of wholeness. Because of this, I have fallen and lost my way more times than I care to account for.
A good friend of mine recently pegged me as a “serial redeemer.” I’m not just addicted to redemption; I’m addicted to climbing out of the hole. I’m addicted to the malicious cycle of working hard and feeling low, unable to simply be. I want contentment and obligation to be balanced, and I want to understand my existence in terms other than profits and losses. I have been stumped looking for the answer because the answer is ridiculous, petulant, and unfortunately necessary. I have been living in the familiar comfort of my despair and I have been avoiding uncharted territories. I always thought that new experiences meant vulnerability, and vulnerability meant failure. And then I realized that successful people are vulnerable, too; top executives and other influencers display vulnerability with grace and ease.
To clarify, being vulnerable is not the same as being weak, or helpless. Vulnerability has been defined to me as “being able to live in uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” The answer to my problems is what I had avoided all along: human connection by vulnerability. This is where Judaism saved my life, and this is the inception of me learning how to come whole.
Beit T’Shuvah has proved to be the catalyst to my vulnerability. I have slowly been striving to become whole by learning how to stand up for myself, how to ask for help, and that it’s possible to say “I love you” without knowing if I’m going to be loved back. I can ask for forgiveness when I have wronged, and I can ask for help when I am afraid. I always thought that vulnerability would be my Achilles Heel, but it is instead my secret weapon. By showing up defenseless and bare, I have learned how to live outside the prison of what I thought I was supposed to be. Authentic connection has led me to live courageously, without the social and financial hindrances that I was once consumed with. And Beit T’Shuvah has proven me with the tools to access my own vulnerability with confidence, so that I can free myself from the cycle of misery that I’ve been so accustomed to.