Hope is My Middle Name

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Today is January 9th, one year since I started my blog (born of last year's new year resolution) and 9 days since many of us made resolutions for this year. Only 9 days have passed, but how quickly we forget what we were determined to do only moments ago, or get distracted, or lose resolve.

PoohandPigletI'm sitting at the airport having just finished a 5 day Jewish Spirituality Retreat for Rabbis and Cantors. Rabbi Sheila Weinberg, my blessed meditation teacher, shared this story with us on the first morning of the Retreat.

Two friends, Pooh and Piglet meet. "What day is it?" Pooh asks Piglet.
"It's today," Piglet answers.
"Today! My favorite day!" shouts Pooh.

Today! My favorite day! How often I have to remind myself that. Today, even if it's raining, or I have a doctor's appointment, or a late night of work, or have no time for lunch or get disappointing news or worse. Today is what's in front of me. My favorite day. "ZEH hayom asah Adonai – THIS is the day that God has made." THIS is the day to rejoice.

My colleague, Beth Huppin, shared a story with me about her father-in-law, Mike Bennett. Mike had a difficult childhood, losing his mother at the age of 3 -- this is also the age my own father, of blessed memory, lost his mother, so the story was particularly meaningful to me. At the tender age of 3, Mike was moved to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, where he stayed for 9 long years. Then, when he turned 12 and was old enough to work, an uncle took him in, for Mike to help at the uncle's brothel. As soon as he was old enough, Mike joined the army, where he got 3 square meals a day. Despite his rough start, Mike's adult life was blessed. He got married, became a piano-tuner, had 5 children and put each one of them through college. After Mike's beloved wife died, he took to putting sticky notes everywhere. Post-its in the kitchen, on the bathroom mirror, by his bedside and even in the elevator to his apartment building. The notes all said the same thing:

"Smile."

Despite his tragic childhood and despite his loss, Mike knew he had created a life of blessing. Mike knew he had reason to smile. He just needed to remind himself – all the time.

We all need reminders. Today might seem ugly or hard or frustrating or disheartening but we remind ourselves that it is simply a blessing to be alive. May this year of 2015 be a year where everyday is our favorite day.