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Joy Focus
Mom with a View

Joy Focus

This new year, I'm looking forward, not backward.


I’m not doing teshuva this year. I’m not subjecting myself to the browbeating repentance of the past. I’ve done it every year for too long to count and I’m just not satisfied with the results (from my end of course; not from the Almighty’s!). I make lists and charts of areas that need improvement. I make plans and strategize and push grimly onward.

But I don’t feel like I’ve been successful. The same mistakes are back to plague me year after year. The same character traits continue to haunt me. And the “nose to the grindstone” theory has become a joyless burden.

So this year, no teshuva for me. Well, not quite. I’ve just decided to focus forward instead of backwards, to dwell on increasing the positive instead of allowing myself to get mired in the dreariness of trying to decrease the negative.

I’m not about to adopt an “eat, drink and be merry” theory (that was Esau’s thing). I’m just going to seek out more joy.

I’m going to look at my marriage and appreciate the strength and pleasure it continually brings to me and my children – and ignore the (small) areas of frustration.

I’m going to look at my children and focus on the wonderful adults they’ve become or are in the process of becoming – and ignore the (sometimes small, sometimes not so small) ways in which they still behave like infants.

I’m going to look at my grandchildren and only see how adorable they are (Don’t you all agree?) – and not focus on how far away they live and why their parents haven’t yet hooked up their web cam.

I’m going to look at my home and concentrate on the color and the warmth, on the opportunity it gives me to raise a family and be hospitable to guests – and ignore the fact that it’s 80 years old, all the plumbing is going, and there’s not enough wood left on the floor to polish.

I’m going to look at my garden and appreciate the new buds and blossoms (and that orchid plant that surprised us by bursting into bloom anew) – and try to remain oblivious to the dead leaves and dried out plants (how much am I paying that gardener anyway?).

I’m going to look at my life and only focus on all the wonderful gifts God has given me (Okay, who am I kidding?) – well, at least I’m going to try. I’m going to laugh more and cry less, smile more and try to erase the frown lines (sounds like an intro to a pop song!)

I guess I am doing teshuva this year. I’m repenting all the lost opportunities for taking joy that I’ve missed in the past and committing myself to try not to make the same mistake in the future.

September 13, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 8

(8) goldie leona hayes aka gg, September 17, 2009 10:48 PM

I am in agreement completely! in with the new, leaving no room for the old!

me too!

(7) Tzip T, September 16, 2009 6:18 PM

i really loved you article!

All that you said is really true! it is easier in life to focus on the negatives so we forget at times all the good we have in life! Chaval to those who do not get to see the good g-d has given to each of us in our daily lives.there is always something good that happens to us each and every day and if we start looking out for the good we will find a lot and will become happier people.

(6) SusanE, September 16, 2009 2:55 PM

Well Done Emuna

Regrets and repentance are learning tools and I suppose we should use them when they are needed. For all of us, I hope those negatives are few and far between because we we are Commanded to have joy. Unless the repentance is very very sincere, I'm not sure it keeps us from repeating the same negative actions and thoughts as last year. We are in a constant battle to do better and when we fall short we return to the old ways. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I am following you this year in looking ahead to good times, good deeds and productive actions. Last year when I needed to repent I asked that of G-d at the time of my failing and have asked him to help me to redirect those negatives through positive actions. I am looking forward to this new year as one with fewer failings more wisdom, and much joy. With G-d's help it will be a good and sweet year for us all. Thank you Emuna for expressing your thoughts so well.

(5) Minna, September 15, 2009 5:29 PM

Loved this!

This and the "bamboo" movie outdid all the tapes and shiurim that I've listened to this Elul! Thanks very much Emunah, from your old neighbor in LA, Marla.

(4) Goldie Klelin, September 14, 2009 9:55 PM

With positive thinking you can reach the 'top of the mountain' in living a joyous and filfilling llife BSD. Hatzlacha Raba.

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