Life’s Whispers: Oprah, Kol Nidre and Me

Life’s Whispers: Oprah, Kol Nidre and Me

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“Your life speaks to you in whispers first, then thumps, bricks and brick walls. Learn to get it in the whisper.”  -Oprah Winfrey

As most of my friends and readers know, I became a stay-at-home mom in January.  At the time, I had great plans: lose weight, take art classes, organize my house, become a cookie-making, super organized mom with tons of time to make projects and cuddle with my daughter.  Those were great plans.

But I wasn’t listening to the whispers; the ones telling me that I needed to address a bigger issue: myself.  At an early age, I believed that I was not as “good” as others. I was not as good a runner as someone else in my class, or as smart as one of my sisters, as pretty as my mother…Oh!  The list could go on and on. The “whispers” were telling me that I was not important and I listened.

And, like most people, I grew up.  I grew up beating myself up that I was lucky to have the LUXURY of thinking that I was not important or good at anything.  If I was really good or important, I wouldn’t be bemoaning my lack of goodness, I would be busy being the best at something.

It’s easy to distract oneself with these thoughts and avoid listening to the new whispers.

By now, you may have heard that Oprah Winfrey has started a new series of television shows entitled: Oprah’s Lifeclass. It’s on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) everyday this week. These shows (5 weeks/5 shows) are the next step in Oprah’s on-going quest to share the lessons that she learned from the past 25 years of her show.  There are multiple interactive features that allow a viewer from any part of the world to tune into her show, interact with other viewers and connect with Oprah regardless of the time or day.

Why do I mention Oprah’s show?  Even in her much heralded and last season, I didn’t pay too much attention to the day-to-day goings on of Oprah Winfrey. I was too busy ignoring the whispers, you know?

But last week, seemingly out of the blue, I was invited to the Harpo studio to pre-screen an episode of Oprah’s new show.  There I sat with some of the biggest names in the Chicago blogging community watching her show last Thursday and a brick hit me upside the head (not literally): I need to listen to me  and stop hiding behind my husband and my daughter. It’s time to make space in my life for me.  It’s time to run, dance, leap towards transforming myself into the person who I was meant to be and not the one that I always thought others wanted me to be.

I started this change last year by taking on Hebrew lessons in preparation for being a Bat Mitzvah.  I didn’t need to do it; no one pushed me into doing it. Learning Hebrew is a lot of work and languages do not come easy to me.  But my “soul’s whispers” told me to do it and don’t take crap from anyone who doubted my conviction or my reasons.

The next day was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. I went to the Kol Nidre service. It is an ancient declaration that is recited to ask for God’s forgiveness of sins both in the past and in the future.  And for the first time in 30+ years, I actually enjoyed it.  Why?  Because, I could read the Hebrew! I I no longer needed to mouth or mumble the prayers because I could read them! I did not need to hide.

As if Thursday’s experience with Oprah was not enough for me to learn the lesson to listen.  In his sermon on Friday night (Kol Nidre Service), the Congregations’ rabbi, shared the following thoughts:

To know what is truly important, we need to be honest with ourselves. We need to acknowledge what we are avoiding. We need to look at our own hiding places. Doing so is not easy. We all know the extraordinary lengths we often go to avoid dealing with something that is difficult or painful. Yet, if we wish to grow and change, we have to stop hiding. As Martin Buber once put it, ‘We can be redeemed only to the extent that we see ourselves.’ –Rabbi Evan Moffic, 2011

Do I really need another sign that it is time for me to come out of hiding and face myself?