We have been in a rather prolonged season of challenge, not only societally, but for many of us, personally as well. I know many of you have walked with me as I have shared some of my own hardships over the last several months. The purpose of sharing those, and the few more I’m about to, is not to whine, or to make me more relatable, or to bring you into my world for narcissistic reasons. Rather, I’m making a larger point – I’m guessing my experiences are not unique in the sense of understanding the universality of stress in one’s life. My hope is to inspire you to fight!

In my 45 years of practicing law, over the last several weeks I have never been more challenged. I am receiving emails at all hours of the night and into the early morning day after day, in an area of practice that never has these types of “emergency” issues. I help employers comply with Department of Labor and IRS rules regarding 401(k) plans. Yet the recent “emergencies” do pertain to my area of expertise, but involving intentional wrongdoing instead of mistakes, the usual case, and over a long period of time involving hundreds of thousands of dollars of exposure.

In addition, my cousin who literally escaped the jaws of death after two months in ICU can now talk and feels trapped in her body. She is angry. I am her greatest encourager and needed – a lot. Early morning FaceTime calls have become routine. I’m also even more busy than normal with my responsibilities as president of Ruach. So I am tired and anxious, much more often than has historically been typical for me.

As I talk to others, I know that my feelings of anxiety and stress are not unique. So many are struggling personally, not to mention societally, given the bizarre daily news (except for the fly which was hysterical!)

I realized today as I was encouraging my cousin, that the cope mechanisms I use for myself are helpful to her, too. We clearly have different issues, and yet, the tools to soothe our troubled souls are universal:

Prayer. Personal and communal. An absolute must.

Time with HaShem. I couldn’t wait to jog with Him this morning. A game changer as a multitude of Monarch butterflies surrounded me reminding me of His presence as He knows the special meaning these mystical messengers have in my life.

Helping someone else. There is no doubt I have less time for or interest in my own issues when I’m helping my cousin, and her issues do put mine in perspective.

Uplifting music. A must.

Healthy distractions from the sources of stress. Personally, the “Calm” app bedtime stories really work for me when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night with racing thoughts or pleading texts from my cousin. Scripture reading and prayer at those times also are soothing to keep us centered.

Netflix – well, the funny shows like “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”.

Most importantly, a fighting attitude, which is created by utilizing the above suggestions. This morning I told my cousin I refuse to let my stressful work overload ruin my day! Today I had done everything I could for the moment. There was nothing else in my power to do until the (multitude of) meetings which were to occur later that afternoon. So rather than have stress and anxiety steal my shalom, I was putting those challenges on a shelf and enjoying the time ‘til then. She, too, could look out the window, watch some Netflix, be grateful she could do the planned rehab for the day, rather than focus on the surgery scheduled later to remove her feeding tube, which is a blessing! Just hard to appreciate amidst the negative surroundings and challenges.

What are we fighting for? Our sense of inner well being. Our feelings of gratefulness. Our faith in HaShem. Our hope for a better tomorrow. Our confidence that HaShem has our backs. We just need to do our parts. It is on us to remember that everyone has tsuris, despite outward appearances to the contrary, and to not make our attitudes worse by false comparisons.

Sometimes in life we can wake up with a smile, looking forward to another beautiful day. Sometimes in life we can’t even sleep without waking up thinking anxious thoughts and worries. I’m grateful for the former, for sure!! Yet I’m grateful for the latter as well, for when times arrive such as these, working to soothe our souls and find the light strengthen us for those next days of challenge, a reality too, as we are being tooled for the future, whatever it may bring.

Yes, I relate to my Jewish given name Zelda, now associated with Princess Warrior, and I invite you to strengthen that beautiful soul you have been given. We are here to fight for good, for Him, for He is always with us, just hidden, provoking us all the more to seek His Light and feel His Presence in the myriad of ways He reveals Himself..

Be strong for yourself. Be strong for others. Be strong for Him.

Shabbat shalom.

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