The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Journaling the Journey

Posted in personal growth, spirituality by Juliet on March 4, 2010

I have been trying to write in my spiritual journal, but I don’t have anything to say.

I feel foggy today.

I keep blaming it on the fact that I’m caffeine-free, which is very unusual for me. (I am doing a test of adrenal hormone levels and caffeine will throw off the results. Four times a day I have to fill plastic vials with saliva. I feel like a rattlesnake being milked for its venom.)

I’m also tired.

I crawl into bed at night and the second my head hits the pillow….bam. Nothing. I am wide awake. Has our bedroom always been this bright? Has the full moon always looked quite this full?

I am busy. I am away from the house in the evenings a lot lately. I get home and it’s 9:30 or 10 p.m. or later, and instead of winding down, I grab some food. I watch TV. I make sure Tivo captured my shows (which I don’t have time to watch anyway.) I get mad if it didn’t. I re-schedule a taping, and it tapes a sixth or seventh episode of Big Love or Lost or all the other shows we used to watch together.

I say goodnight to Scott. I read. I sort mail. I pay a few bills or do a little paperwork. It’s 11:30, 12:15, 12:55.

And so it goes.

Now I am unwinding, unfolding, decompressing. I’m trying to carve out time, to chisel a personal “me” from this insane schedule I’ve walled up around myself.

I don’t want to become such a dabbler that I never do any one thing well.

Also I want to enjoy life.

I don’t want a schedule so precariously balanced that it hinges on my not hitting a red light, or getting a flat tire, or getting a call from a friend who needs to talk.

I want to care for my family, and our home, but also do stuff I enjoy, just because I feel like doing it, and it brings me joy and fulfillment. And I want to do at least some of it now, instead of putting it off to a “more convenient” or “less busy” time.

I don’t want our house to look ransacked.


I don’t want to forget how to knit.

I took up knitting after leaving the public defender’s office. It was recommended (along with Tai Chi) as a way to relax. When you’re a beginning knitter, it’s not really that relaxing, by the way.

I took a drop-in class at Michael’s and learned. I practiced. Mostly I knit scarves for Barbies and Webkinz.

Then I forgot. I forgot! I couldn’t believe it. One day after a time span not much longer than my previous knitting lapses, my hands just didn’t know what to do.

I signed up for a workshop and now, once again, I know how to do two things. I know a basic cast-on (“thumb casting,” which is way easier than needle casting on) and a knit stitch. Tying a slip knot can be tricky so if you count that, I know three things. I don’t know how to bind off so if I take my work off the needles, it unwinds dramatically into one long, curly strand. I’ll learn binding off when I go back to class next month.

Meanwhile, I’m practicing every single day, without fail. I don’t work for long…just long enough to know that I didn’t forget. Is this what it is to get older? Some day, will I have to remind myself how to knit both in the morning and then again in the afternoon?

I feel the same way about my budding Hebrew. I had my first session with my tutor, Morah Heidi (Morah means “teacher” in Hebrew.) I am cautiously optimistic but man, I don’t want to forget how to knit in Hebrew, either.

Sure, I know the basic letters, but I knew them five years ago too, last time I took on this project. It’s like relearning the same damned thing over and over again. Every morning I pull out my photocopied pages and practice my baby Hebrew, and I’m surprised — shocked! — that I didn’t forget everything overnight.

I could do the splits when I was four. If I’d done the splits every single day from age four, I’d be a forty year old who can do the splits.

Is this regret? Beating myself up for not doing something I should have been doing all along? Should I have guessed 20 or 30 years ago that this was going to become important to me at age 40?

So for now…I’m salivating into a specimen cup. I’m secretly struggling very slowly through my seven year old’s Hebrew homework when she’s at school. I’m knitting in the car between appointments, just to make sure I don’t forget.

All my life I’ve easily done things that other people think are hard. Why now are the simplest things — things that should be easy — suddenly so hard?

The “journey” isn’t signing up. It isn’t filling a brand new notebook with a fresh stack of blank binder paper. It isn’t making a label for the latest project.

The journey is the long and boring part. It’s the 5, when this El Pollo Loco looks just like the one you passed 100 miles ago, and there’s still six more hours to go.

As an experiment in consideration to myself, I am sticking with it.

9 Responses

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