The Rhythm of the World

The world marches to its own beat, which those of us living life just sort of have to try to keep up with. Yesterday I announced I was going to give NaNoWriMo a try since it looked like I wasn’t going to be employed during the month of November. The world, therfore, in its inimitable way, today put two job possibilities in my path (by the way,  I am completely not complaining…I’m just bemused).

These job possibilities are not brand new…I’d been chasing them for the last week. But neither did they come out of any of the previous four months of job search I’ve been doing. It’s not as though work I’d done earlier was finally paying off, but rather the blooming of two new possibilities.

I’m not going to describe either possibility in detail, both because they are very potential at this point, and because I don’t want to jinx them, but they are two positions that probably best use my business skills of any I’ve looked at. They are both small business generalist positions: some marketing, some administration, some finance and some community outreach. In both cases, I believe I am the only candidate (in fact, in at least one case, the position would be built around my skill set).

My point is, however, that yesterday, when I announced I was going to do NaNoWriMo, I wondered whether that announcement was the surest way to produce a job. After all, as the saying goes, humans plan, God laughs. And while God isn’t laughing yet, things are beginning to line up in a way that would be both lovely and make it difficult to complete NaNoWriMo.

I am sure you all will  be watching the progress of this as closely as I (okay, I might be somewhat more interested in the results than you), so I will keep you posted. After all, the fate of a novel hangs in the balance.

New Project: NaNoWriMo

Up until now, I haven’t been taking on any longer term (like, say a month-long) projects, because I wanted to be ready to start a job at a moment’s notice. Therefore, I did not sign up for NaNoWriMo back in August, thinking that if I were at a new job by November, NaNoWriMo might not be a good thing to have on my plate. But now, I am announcing my participation.

Wait, what’s that? You want to know what NaNoWriMo is? Oh, just this little cult thing…

Well, not quite.

Actually, it is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. Every November, people dedicate themselves to producing 50,000 words of text, often fiction. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last few years, but haven’t felt like I had the time to do so, what with CubeSpace and all. So this year, with no CubeSpace, and no steady employment to interfere, I’m in.

Do I have a plot for my great work of fiction. Umm….I have a premise, isn’t that enough? Okay, I’ll grant I need to flesh out my plan a little. I might even give tidbits of progress and hints about where it’s going here and on Twitter. And if you’re really nice I’ll shut up and keep quiet about it.

Let’s just say that the plan is for a challenging, funny, theological novel. Not necessarily my own theology, but theology. Oh, and it will probably be written in the 1st person (though I have one plot in mind that might be partly written in the first person subjunctive).

So, as I set out on this writing adventure, any words of advice? Any tools I should know about? Any jeers from the bleachers? Bring it on, ’cause I’m a NaNoWriMoer.

Setting Apart Time

I’m a rabbi. Yet even I struggle with celebrating Shabbat and the holidays, setting them apart the way I wish to. I don’t tend to work on Shabbat, but lately it hasn’t felt as special as I’d like it to feel. And I’m realizing that a part of this is that I don’t use all the tools at my disposal to make it special.

Jewish tradition teaches that we should begin the sabbath by lighting candles, saying a blessing sanctifying the day over a cup of wine and eating a relaxed meal. Many people also go to synagogue to begin Shabbat with a service. The end of Shabbat is marked by another ceremony, maybe 5 minutes in length, called havdalah. These rituals serve as signposts in time, separating a day of sanctity and rest from the rest of the work week. Yet recently, I’ve been neglecting all of these rituals.

Shabbat happens whether I observe the rituals or not. I even observe Shabbat by not working whether I observe the rituals or not. However the time feels different when set apart by ritual. I am able to mark beginning and end, to know when the computer must be turned off, and when I can turn it back on. These markers are important to feeling the full impact of the day, not because it changes what I do on the day, but because it changes the intentionality with which I do it. The closest comparison I can make is the difference between killing time by playing a video game and playing a video game with the intention of giving oneself a break from work. When one is consciously taking a break, one is more refreshed afterwards. The rituals of Shabbat are sort of like that.

So with all these good reasons for using the rituals of Shabbat, why haven’t I been? Habit. When at CubeSpace we got out of the habit because when we got home at the end of the week we were too tired for anything other than complete collapse. After CubeSpace’s demise, I think it just didn’t occur to us to change our pattern. But now, it is time to change patterns. It is time to engage with the rituals once again. To make shabbat rather than just letting it happen.

Controlling Time

Recently, I’ve noticed that time seems to be flying by at an outrageous rate. I wake up Monday, and all of a sudden it somehow gets to be Friday, and I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as I plannned. It’s the end of Summer, and now, suddenly I find Halloween just over a week away. Time is flying with exceptional speed. And I feel like I’m looking around, trying to figure out where I am and what I’m doing.

Part of the fleeting nature of time, at the moment, is the lack of ordered markers. There are days when the calendar is altogether empty (admittedly, there are also days when I run from meeting to meeting, but fewer of those). Somehow, when I’ve got more things on my calendar, I’m more productive.  The current light schedule is absolutely killing my productivity.

I’m looking to change this, to schedule more of my life. To schedule my time in the yard in the morning, to schedule specific work times, and to schedule play times. It is time for me to take control of time, rather than let it sift through my fingers like sand.

Wow, Turns Out I am Competent

As anyone who has been unemployed can tell you, the toughest part of unemployment is the hit your confidence takes. After hearing “I don’t think we have a use for someone with your skill-set” enough times, you begin to feel like you just aren’t useful. At least, I do.

This isn’t an intellectual belief, but rather an emotional reaction. Intellectually, I know I am outrageously competent. I have both extensive life experience, academic credentials and work experience that are hard to match. I know this, but when I hear enough people telling me their organization can’t use me, it begins to erode that intellectual confidence.

But, it turns out, I am competent. I spent about an hour on the phone doing what I do best: problem solving. Someone wanted some advice on contracts for visiting rabbis. I happen to have signed several such contracts myself, as well as cleaned up messes in congregations when such contracts didn’t work out the way they wanted. I’ve also signed lots of contracts in the business world, and dealt with lots of contractors of various kinds. All of which means, I have a lot to offer someone who is less familiar with contracting for rabbinic services.

Admittedly, I didn’t get paid for this advice. On the other hand, I got my name out there. And more importantly, I reminded myself that I am competent and my work is valuable. Now I just need to convince someone with money to hire me of this.

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