Posted by Ilana Angel
This week I experienced a perfect evening. It was one of those nights where you think everything is good in the world. By world of course I mean the exact place where you are. I was relaxed and happy, focused on who I was with and what was being said, without worrying about anything. I felt safe and comfortable in the company of someone I admire and respect.
I have a lot of things going on. My son is applying to college, I’m having dental work done, my blogs are leading to new things in my professional life, and I have a lot on my mind. I’m not a good sleeper but after my perfect evening I crawled into bed and fell asleep. By letting go of my own noise I was able to embrace quiet and get some much needed rest.
I have a lot of hopes and so I pray. Most of my prayers are for my son, family, and friends. I believe in the power of prayer and when I pray it is for those who matter to me, and a lot of the time for strangers I come across in my everyday life. I went to minyan this week and found myself saying prayers for people who matter to me, but I also prayed for myself.
I felt a bit uncomfortable praying for me. I often pray for guidance, but I don’t pray for myself to receive anything, yet this week I prayed for something just for me. Not a material thing, but something I wanted for my heart and soul. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the day I asked God to help me, was the night I slept so well after so many sleepless nights.
The most important part of Jewish prayer is the time we spend looking inside ourselves to see what our role is in the universe, and our relationship to God. I am very close to God. He has eased my sorrow, given me strength, counted my tears, and guided me to places within myself where my courage can be found. My prayers are simple, yet important. I value prayer.
I pray in English, and Hebrew, in silence and aloud. There have been times in my life where I could feel the presence of God with me, and other times I struggled to feel it. I have been lost and he has guided me home, and times when I didn’t even know I was lost and he found me. I am blessed through prayer and truly have no expectations from God.
I am responsible for my own happiness, but I believe God wants me to be happy, healthy, and whole. I do not question God. I do question myself. I wonder if I am making the right choices and if I am being a good mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I wonder if I will find a beshert to witness the second half of my life. I wonder and I pray. Often.
This week was the most relaxed I’ve been in a long time. I was able to listen, laugh, be quiet, and not think so much that I could not enjoy the moment. Life is full of blessings and we often miss them because life is too noisy. Joy comes from simple things and this week I allowed my life to be simple. In the simplicity came real joy and realized prayers.
I spoke to someone this week about the saying, “There but for the grace of God go I”. I think of this often. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, or that God will not give me more than I can handle. I do believe however that if God leads me to it, he will lead me through it. God is good and prayer allows me to have faith. Not only in God, but in myself.
Faith is the thing I build my life around. It is not about God, or religion, it is just about faith. By definition, faith is the confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. I have faith. In times of both joy and sorrow I live my life with faith. No matter who you pray to, how often you pray, or what you pray for, there is comfort in faith.
It is important to not only pray in times of crisis or fear, but to also pray when things are good. God likes to hear from me, and it is when I am happy that I am best able to hear him in return. I don’t need to be in a place of worship to pray. Prayer is personal and needn’t be formal. Prayer is a free and easy thing we can do for ourselves.
There is a Yiddish proverb that says when man plans, God laughs. I have a lot of plans and it is in those plans where I store my hope. God is laughing with me not at me. I am on a new path and the view is lovely. I will meet many people during my lifetime and today I feel lucky to have met someone who is coaching me on wonderful new ways to keep the faith.
12.5.13 at 3:16 pm | Heaven has received a blessing today.
12.3.13 at 3:05 pm | Every time I go into the kitchen I half expect to. . .
11.30.13 at 10:42 am | "The only correct actions are those that demand. . .
11.29.13 at 1:56 pm | My nest will never empty as my son will always be. . .
11.28.13 at 7:59 am | Think. Laugh. Cry.
11.26.13 at 7:06 am | God places love where we don't always see it.
9.15.13 at 3:14 pm | I love you Russell Brand. (302)
7.25.11 at 5:38 pm | We need more Jews! (280)
12.3.13 at 3:05 pm | Every time I go into the kitchen I half expect to. . . (250)
October 16, 2013 | 2:53 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I was speaking to someone about Maya Angelou yesterday and in bringing her up in conversation I was reminded to revisit some of her teachings. I have long been inspired and moved by Ms. Angelou. Without her ever having looked into my eyes, I cannot think of another human being who knows me so well. I admire and respect this woman for so many reasons, but today I feel gratitude for her teaching me to be quiet.
I sometimes struggle with allowing my mind to embrace silence. I think about things and the constant thoughts, ideas, worries, and dreams often keep me awake at night. I am not a great sleeper and have tried different medications and homeopathic remedies to sleep better. Sometimes they work, but mostly they don’t. Rather than sit up and worry about my not sleeping, I use my sleepless nights as a time for prayer.
Last night I could not sleep and I turned to Maya for comfort. I searched online for quotes by Ms. Angelou and spent three hours reading through them. Not just reading, but listening. I was willed by her words to be quiet and listen. I decided that with each quote I read, I would really focus on what she was saying by reaching for understanding, not just racing through from one quote to the next without hearing her.
I want to share three quotes I read last night that had me thinking this morning. Not only thinking, but feeling a need to be quiet. Self-reflection is something I need to do more often. These quotes have inspired me to be quiet today and focus on listening not speaking. I am making a conscious effort to embrace quiet, knowing that I will learn things of great value. My words are important, but my silence will bring peace.
“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” I used to read this quote and get fired up. As women we can take this quote to a whole other level. When we apply it to men our voices change and we become angry towards all men and protective of each other. If we viewed it from a different perspective would the meaning be altered to have less value? What if we made someone who had no options a priority?
If I make this thought about the needs of others not myself, it becomes about grace and kindness. Maya Angelou is a lady of grace and her shared words bring me a calmness that allows me to think in a way that does not revolve around only myself. Not everything is about me, which I understand, but how I interpret things determines the direction of my life, so my choice to be quiet allows me to live my best life and experience joy.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This is one of my favorite quotes and I reference is almost daily. In the quiet of last night I saw it with a fresh perspective. Who someone shows me they are, it may only be who they are with me. For example, if a man cheats on woman does it mean he will cheat on every woman he is with? Once a cheater, always a cheater? I do not believe this is true.
Once an asshole, always an asshole? Yes. I was once hurt by a friend and asked a Rabbi for guidance. My friend was in recovery from drug addiction and I felt bad I was mad because she had done so much to be sober and her best self. The Rabbi told me if someone was an asshole and using drugs, then became sober, they were probably still an asshole, just sober. She was who she was and it was okay for me to think she was an asshole.
When someone shows you who they are, and that person is not kind or good for you, believe them. Who we are to each other is not always who we are to everyone. I don’t want to be someone who judges someone on their past. There are exceptions of course, but in the simplest of ways, I don’t want to judge someone for past indiscretions when those indiscretions were not committed against me. People need to be shown kindness.
“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry, to get my work done, and try to love somebody, and have the courage to accept the love in return.” This quote hit home for me. Love requires courage and while I am not always brave and in many aspects of my life, when it comes to love I am courageous. I believe in love and I know it will be found. Courage requires one to be bold, but also quiet. In the end I am only responsible for myself.
I put myself out there everyday. I write my truth, share my feelings, express myself, and try to have no fear in terms of love. I freely tell those I love that they matter to me. I let them know I love them, and when the love is given back I am happy. When my friends, family, and most importantly my son, tells me they love me I am able to experience grace. Today I am loved, able to love, and God willing I will be able to sleep.
Maya Angelou is a remarkable woman and if you are not familiar with her teachings, I recommend you take the time to listen to her. To really appreciate her wisdom you must be willing to be quiet and listen. It has been a hard lesson for me to learn, but today I feel like I did okay. I was able to turn off the noise, focus on the quiet, and was rewarded with comfort. I am finding my way and blessed with the ability to keep the faith.
October 14, 2013 | 3:13 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Am I the last person to learn about Etsy? I had seen the name floating around as I spend so much time online using social media, but I had never taken a look or gone shopping. A friend recently sent me a link to something she bought and I was hooked. Damn it. I am now spending time I do not have shopping from some amazing vendors. My favorite shop is called Ben & Lily. You can find them at http://www.etsy.com/shop/BenAndLily?ref=si_shop# .
This shop has vintage items and they do custom work. I ordered two vintage plates that I am having painted with “Keeping the Faith” and “Keeping it Real”. They are a gift to myself and I am excited about them. Ben & Lily have beautiful pieces and add new items all the time. I am making my way through the Etsy site and have found some really lovely things. It’s like eBay but not really. It somehow just seems more personal than eBay.
I am amazed by how small the world becomes when we connect through the Internet. I love getting emails from around the world. I also love shopping and have a collection of things from places I travel to while sitting in my own home. I will post pictures of my plates when they arrive. If you use Esty let me know who you follow. It will be like we are shopping together. Will you tell me when I am spending too much? I am keeping the faith!
October 13, 2013 | 1:55 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
The process of applying to college is one that calls out for medical assistance. My son is working on his applications and I am not allowed to help him, yet he wants me to sit close by should he need me he can yell out questions he needs assistance with. I sit, he works, I comment, he rolls his eyes, I think about taking a Xanax.
I think all parents sending their kids off to college should get a prescription for Xanax and a bottle of wine. By bottle of course I mean case. I am stressed out and the calmer my son is, the more frustrated I become. He is mellow and going with the flow, while I am acting as if the world will implode if we don’t get it all done perfectly.
I am very organized and good with direction, but when it comes to his applications it is as if they are written in a foreign language. I need to read the questions several times to understand what they want. I think I am so stressed out about his leaving I am unable to properly focus on the thing that will cause him to leave. Damn it.
I know this is about him and following his dreams, but can we just make it about me for a minute? What am I going to do when he leaves next summer? I imagine I will wander around aimlessly touching all of his things, wait for him to call, worry he is not eating enough, think about whether or not he doing laundry, and again need a Xanax.
If admission is the first step to recovery, then I must admit that the admission of my son will cause the admission that I need a Xanax. By need of course I mean want. I don’t really need to be medicated, but I think it might help. I go back and forth between wanting to yell and cry. No good can come of that. I am just not ready.
To clarify, I am ready for him to start the next phase his life, I’m just not sure I am ready to start the part of my life that does not involve taking care of him everyday. I cook and clean for this child daily and I am going to have a lot of time on my hands when he goes away to school. If I worry when he is here, what will happen when he goes?
As I type this I am looking over at my little baby and I see a young man. When he asks me something I thank God he needs me, and when he is working quietly I thank God I have raised him to not always need me. He is my heart and I must remind myself to enjoy these moments and feel pride more than angst. Easier with a Xanax.
I’m not much of a pill taker and can generally cure all that ails me with an aspirin, but I am not ruling out the need for a Xanax between now and the time my boy heads off to start his collegiate life. I am going to try to stay clam, not yell, embrace his independence, stop crying, feel pride, and know we will make it through if we keep the faith.
October 12, 2013 | 12:44 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Adrian Peterson is a running back for the Minnesota Vikings. He is young, handsome, successful, and from all accounts, a lovely and decent human being. As a woman who is raising a son, I look at men like Adrian and am inspired to dream big for my child. Adrian Peterson’s life is not without pain and suffering. He has overcome a lot to be who he is today.
Adrian was born and raised in Palestine, Texas. He was 7 when he watched his older brother Brian get killed by a drunk driver, and 13 when his father was arrested for dealings with a cocaine ring. He turned to sports and excelled. He was a high school football star, a college football star, and is now a pro. Peterson’s journey has not been easy.
I do not know much about this man, and am not a huge sports follower, but I have respect for him as an athlete and the work that goes into his success. The entire business of athletics is interesting and inspiring to young and old alike. Adrian Peterson is a star in the world of sports but today he is all over the news for another reason.
Peterson’s two year old son has passed away due to injuries sustained in a beating from the boyfriend of the child’s mother. The child had been on life support but has now passed and his organs donated. I cannot wrap my head around this story. It makes me think of all the children who are being beaten and killed today who do not have a famous parent.
Who beats a child? Children are precious and innocent and to hurt them is heartbreaking. My father once hit me with a belt when I was young and I remember his telling me it was for my own good. No it wasn’t. It was vicious, did not help me, teach me anything, and only proved to be a lack of judgment on the part of my father. It did however shape me as a parent.
When my son was two years old he tried to shove one of his toys into a light socket. I saw him from across the room and I ran to him, jumped over the couch, and slapped his hand very hard. He dropped the toy, looked at me in shock for what felt like forever, then burst into tears. It was the only time I hit him and he has a vivid memory of it to this day. I don't hit.
Adrian Peterson posted the following touching message on his Twitter: "Thank you to my family, my fans and fans of other teams for their support. The NFL is a fraternity of brothers and I am thankful for the tweets, phone calls and text messages from my fellow players. God Bless everyone and thank u so much," This message made me cry.
I do not know what happened to cause the death of this child, but I hope the punishment is swift and just to child killer Joseph Robert Patterson. Perhaps they should take him to a Vikings game and let him visit the locker room for a minute. I’d like five minutes alone with him myself. There should be no mercy for anyone who harms or kills a child.
We live in a world where athletes are revered and while Adrian Peterson is used to being in the news, there will be no moment as important this one. The loss of his precious son will shine a spotlight on the countless children who are being hurt today. My condolences to Mr. Peterson and his family. My heart is heavy and I am keeping the faith.
October 10, 2013 | 2:36 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I have a date with Coach tonight and I am looking forward to it. He is a lovely man. He listens, values my opinion, thinks I am beautiful, makes me laugh, and through his life experiences I am not only able to respect his bravery and grace, but also value my own experiences in a new way. I have a crush on this man and I look forward to spending more time with him.
We are dating and have removed our online dating profiles. I suppose it is a silly gesture to some, but it is romantic to me. That we want to respect our getting to know each other in a way that does not include advertising ourselves to others matters to me. The conversation we had while making this decision was sweet and I am smiling now as I think of it.
Before I met Coach I was chatting on JDate with a man we’ll call “Jake”. He reached out to me and we ended up having a really great banter over instant message and email. Jake is funny with a nice smile. A successful man who has the world’s cutest dog. Honestly, I think I spoke to him initially because I was in love with his dog.
After several exchanges online I gave Jake my phone number and told him to call. He never called. It was baffling to me because I could not understand how someone I had such a great banter with would then not call. I actually felt bad about it and cancelled my JDate profile before Coach and me decided we would go offline. The truth is Jake hurt my feelings.
If I could have exchanges with Jake that made me actually go online to look for him, and he couldn't be bothered to call me, what was I doing? Then I met Coach and we started to date. Not only did we date, but he courted me, got to know me, let me know my opinion mattered, and made me realize I didn’t need to mend my heart, simply open it up again.
On Tuesday I got a message from Jake on the email people use to contact me about my blog. He wrote me a lovely note telling me he wished me well with Coach, was a schmuck for not calling, and should it not work out he’d like to meet me for a drink. It was sweet and it mattered. I hope people will be kind and for a man I assumed was unkind to correct me, was nice.
I am worthy of great love and Jake’s email got me thinking about timing. I have been looking for someone. My heart was broken and so I was wounded and somewhat fragile. I was certain I needed a man to swoop in and tell me what to do. In the end it was a gentle giant who simply walked up, held my hand, and led me out of the dark. The time was right.
Six months ago I would have written to Jake and told him he really needed to call me because I was desperate. Three months ago I would have told Jake he was an asshole for not calling because I was bitter. Today, right now, I am able to thank Jake for taking the time to write because I am hopeful. I never wear a watch, but am feeling gratitude for good timing.
I am at a point in my life where I am clear on what I want. I am smart enough to not settle for someone, secure enough to know I can be patient, hopeful enough to know he will come, and jaded enough to know when I am dealing with smoke and mirrors. When it comes to affairs of the heart timing is everything and my time is now, so I am keeping the faith.
October 10, 2013 | 1:40 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Michelle Duggar, the woman with 19 kids and a reality show, has announced she is trying to get pregnant with her 20th child and if it is God’s will, her family will be blessed with another child. This woman has lost her mind and I seriously think she has some kind of mental issue. She has three grandchildren, has had difficult pregnancies, and to do this to not only her body, but her other children, is selfish.
This woman needs to call it a day on the baby factory and become a spokesperson for vaginal rejuvenation. She has an odd view of the world, and is teaching her children her beliefs, which is sad for those kids, but bless her. We live in a country where she can believe what she wants, teach what she wants, and have the family she wants. What is annoying however, is how she does not get we think she is a moron.
She is a freak show. She is not in the news or on television because people think she is fascinating and entertaining. She is known because she is a freak. She says her large family is because it is God’s will. Or maybe it is because she has a lot of sex, does not use birth control, and has no respect for her vagina. That poor thing has got to be tired. Bless it. Will it be God’s will if she dies during childbirth of her 20th child?
She has had difficult pregnancies and her focus should be on her 19 kids having a mother, not God’s will for her to have another. Here’s the thing, religion is personal and everyone has their own view of God and faith. That said, no matter how you pray or what you believe in, God wants a lot of things for all of us and 20 babies for some lunatic is not a top priority on his list. Of this I am quite certain and she needs to leave God out of it.
At the end of the day Michelle Duggar has my respect in that she is dedicated to her family and her faith. Where she loses my respect is in how incredibly selfish and unaware she is. To keep having children is selfish in my opinion. To say that God is somehow making her pregnant is offensive. She has a platform and people listen to her so she should be more mindful of that. Time for Michelle to reevaluate how she keeps the faith.
October 10, 2013 | 6:51 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
If you read Keeping the Faith with any regularity, you know I write about sex and faith, a lot. Both are interesting topics and both matter. Sex is wonderful, and being sexual is important, but I am at a point in my life where I am not willing to have sex without love, and I cannot find love without sharing my faith, so I struggle. Throw in that I am a single mother, and beginning a new relationship, and sex becomes complicated.
I am looking for guidance and answers, so I gathered a group of professionals to help. I am very excited about this evening and I hope you will join us. You can’t talk about sex without getting a little racy, and you can’t talk about God without getting a little fired up, so it promises to be a provocative and fun night. I can’t guarantee that it won’t get heated, or the language won't get colorful, but it will not get vulgar.
Rabbi Ed Feinstein is the senior rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom. He serves on the faculty of the Ziegler Rabbinical School of the American Jewish University, the Wexner Heritage Program, and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He lectures widely across the country and is a brilliant and very cool Rabbi. You can learn more about Rabbi Feinstein at vbs.org.
Dr. Limor Blockman is a renowned Clinical Sex Counselor, Educator, Columnist, Speaker and Author. Dr. Limor holds a PhD in Human Sexuality, a Master’s in Public Health & Community Medicine, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology & Behavioral Sciences. You can read Dr. Limor's blog at jewishjournal.com/cradleoflove.
David Wygant has been earning the trust of American men and women looking to transform their love lives, for over 20 years. He has personally coached thousands of people, and is one of the most respected and popular relationship experts in the world. David specializes in helping men, and you can learn about him at davidwygant.com.
Danielle Berrin writes the Hollywood Jew column and blog for the Jewish Journal. It is a values-based take on the entertainment industry. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, British Esquire and The Huffington Post. You can read Danielle's work at jewishjournal.com/hollywoodjew.
Whether you are single or married, gay or straight, having sex or wanting sex, you should join us. Regardless of your your religion, or your level of observance, you should join us. We will discuss faith, the presence of sex in our religious teachings, and how to connect the dots to be sexually satisfied while embracing a comfortable and satisfying sexual and religious life. At the end of the day sex matters, God is watching, and a good sex life requires us to keep the faith.
Purchase tickets at http://www.hotandholyla.eventbrite.com