To choose life… Choose Joy!

Made-a-move #38: Commitment to live life with more joy

I started this posting two weeks ago.  Time has sped by – but I think the message of this posting is worth it for me to finish writing and try to ingrain in my psyche.

The 23 days leading up to October 10th of this year encompassed the holiest days of the Jewish calendar – starting with Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, followed by the 8 day holiday of Sukkot and concluding with the holidays of Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.  “The Season of Our Rejoicing” is another name for these final holidays.  I have read in several sources, based on the teachings of the great leader referred to as The Bal Shem Tov, that what we accomplish with joy and dancing on Simchat Torah surpasses what we accomplish through prayer and fasting 3 weeks prior, during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  This doesn’t negate the importance of the serious introspection and affirmation of dedication to do better.  But, rather emphasizes the all-too-forgotten message that we need to LIVE life, and to do so be joyful.

In one of the weekly Torah readings not so long ago, The Creator told the beginning Jewish Nation “I give before you a choice … choose life.”  Not just existence.  But, choose LIFE.  It is oh so easy to get caught up in the “rat race” of busy schedules, going with the flow of trying to keep up with what others around us are doing, and would-could-should to-do lists, etc.  We need to choose our life.  Take a stance on what our core values are and choose to live by them…  with joy!  To really move forward into the year, rather than be caught in old holding patterns, we need to make conscious, and continual, decisions to live life with joy Not an easy thing to do by any means!  Still have the lack of chores being done.  Still have the messes in each room.  Still have carpool, work, childhood illnesses, family member melt-downs, housework, finance challenges, and other demands needing attention.  But, to face them with joy… that makes them part of life – not pulling us away from living.

I am struggling to make this shift in my daily life.  Old habits are hard to break!  Fortunately, my DH is working on the same shift and helping me along.  The beginning results… procrastinated housework is starting to get done, a workable budget is underway, more family-time, less arguments, more mindfulness of what I am doing and more awareness of what I want to do/ accomplish… including doing things to make others smile (like making mandel breit to give to others) and thinking up new project ideas I would love to do… and, at the very least can have fun dreaming about with materials in hand. (I think I need to stop my kids from convincing me to take them to Michaels Craft stores!)

So, how can I remember to Live Life with Joy?  This picture of my Rabbi on a zip line is a great inspiration!!

Have a great, and Joyful, week!

- DebBee


Bee Yourself

Made-a-move #37: Being true to myself… even beyond logic

About a year ago, my youngest DD bought this charm for me with a bee on one side and the message “Bee Yourself” on the other.  My “move” during the past week was doing just that.

Last week, I had a busy week between work, family, Yom Kippur observance (which included a 26 hour complete fast and many hours of prayer concluding on Wednesday night) and a Thursday of making challah breads (with many helpers) – from 4:30 am til the breads were done being packaged at about 3:30pm (well almost done, I went back later to finish putting the last away)So, when I heard a voicemail message late Thursday afternoon from someone who forgot to place their orderfor 30 more challahs,… hoping it wasn’t too late… my eyes went wide and I had to remind myself to breath.  In the back of my mind, I knew what my answer would be, but I needed to wait until I got off my feet for a few minutes and cleared my brain of the exhaustion.  As I am trying to be more responsible in communication, I let a couple women that frequently help me make challah on Fridays (that weren’t able to make it on Thursday) know that I was going to be baking again after all, and received confirmation that they were not able to do so this week.  Then I returned the challah order call and, of course, assured the caller that I would be happy to make the challahs for them the next day… no problem… I was planning on making a batch anyways – so I’ll just do a little more…  Afterwards, I was also able to tell the next 2 people who called that I would be happy to make a couple challahs for them as well… No problem… My pleasure...

Walking into the commercial kitchen I use the next morning at about 5:30 am to set up the dough felt so good As crazy as it would seem, I was being true to myself – I love making challah.  I love everything about it.  It is invigorating and touches me to my very soul.  With only the help of my middle DD, we made and shaped 3 big batches of dough (over 12 lbs of flour in each batch) that Friday.  The challahs turned out beautifully and I knew they would be enjoyed by many, many people.  No logic can explain the self-satisfaction that comes from being true to yourself.

With much appreciation to The Creator for giving me opportunity and strength, (and  for the assistance of my DD, along with the assistance of the many women who helped me make 8 batches of dough on Thursday!), to be true to myself and complete the challah baking last Friday, I wish you clear vision (that may even go beyond face-value logic) in the decisions and opportunities that come your way, strength and resources to succeed in your efforts, and satisfaction knowing you have done well as you follow the part of you that goes deeper than heart and mind.

Connecting with Life

Made-a-move #36: Connecting with others

Move number “36″… hmmm “Double Chai”.  Chai is the Hebrew word for Life and, as each Hebrew letter has a numerical value, the two letters that spell the word Chai (ח י) add up to the total of 18.  The number 36 is extra-special as it represents a double blessing of Life.  (This is why many Jews have a custom of giving gifts in multiples of 18)

At this time of year, during the time between Rosh Hashana (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Judgement), we reflect on our actions of the past year, make commitments to improve, ask for forgiveness for past misdeeds, and request that The Creator seal a favorable judgement for us with the blessings of health, peace, prosperity, and, most of all, LIFE.  How fitting that this posting carries the number 36 – Double Chai.  May this be a spark towards a doubly blessed life for all those who benefit from the HoneyTreeBuzz blog.

One of the goals I wrote for myself a couple years ago was to be more mindful in my interactions with others.  My previous self of constantly running from one task to another left me disconnected from putting time or focus into what I was doing or who I was interacting with.  I still have a long way to go, but am happy to see that I am being more and more involved with Life.  And, with it, I am now improving in my relationships with the people closest to me – family and friends.  One result of this is my improved ability to understand my daughter’s needs and encourage her in her own personal journey.  As she is thoroughly enjoying the Creative Writing class I encouraged her to take, she suggested I share her new poem with you here.

With the wish that your journeys take you to greater inner strength, deeper happiness, brighter futures and meaningful Life, here is a poem of my DD’s journey… by Shoshana

Where am I From?


Where am I from?
I am from the sky.
I follow the rays of the sun.


Who am I?
I am a bird who soars in the sky.
I paint the sunset,
as I glide through the air.
I rise with the sunrise,
and when my days have come and gone,
I slip to sleep with the sunset.


From where do I come?
Breaking free of the dark shell around me,
I came to light.
From a bed of twigs to a bed of clouds.
I ventured beyond the protective wing of my mother.


To where am I going?
I am going wherever the wind takes me.
I am going to fly high.
I will say “look how high I have gone.”
My wings are like that of an eagle,
carrying me higher than all others.
I will say “look at my strength.”
Built upon generations of strong birds before me.


Whom do I wish to be?
I will add to those wings.
So that my baby can do as I have.
So she can say “look at my strength.”
Built upon generations of strong birds before me.
Where am I from?
I am from a line of great ones.
Who paved the path on which I walk.


Who am I?
I am one amongst many.
I rise with the call of the rooster,
and when my days have come and gone,
I ease into an eternal sleep with the hoot of the owl.


From where do I come?
Breaking free of the dark forces in eastern lands.
I sailed west, to the promise of light.
From a bed of hay, to a bead of feathers.
I ventured beyond the safety of my mother’s house.


To where am I going?
I am going wherever my heart takes me.
I am going to go far.
I will say “look at what I achieved.”
My wings are like that of an eagle,
carrying me farther than all others.
I will say “look at my strength.”
Built upon my generations of strong forefathers.


Whom do I wish to be?
I will add to those wings.
So that my child can do as I have.
So she can say “look at my strength.”
Built upon my generations of strong forefathers.


I am all this when I spread my wings and fly.


The missed Posting

Made-a-move #35: Accepting limits – taking something out of the plan to better accomplish current needs.

Do you know the feelings of wanting to do something so bad you can nearly taste it, followed by the uneasy feeling of something being amiss, only somewhat comforted by accepting your own human limits?  That was last Monday, as I accepted the fact I was not able to make my weekly posting.  So, my #35 “Move” was a missed posting.

I had a planned posting.  But, between taking care of details of my starting work at a school, late meetings, and getting my 6 kids settled in 5 different schools, my love of posting to the HoneyTreeBuzz had to take a step back.  Not a permanent step back, but rather the type that leads to a big leap forward. 

My hands nearly twitch in anticipation as a catch glimpses around me of the projects I am eager to leap into.  Like an arrow drawn back in a bow, I can feel the tension of anticipation ready to fly forward.  The “pulling back” and waiting, as the aim is set, is a challenge to be experiencing, but I know that it will result in greater accomplishments beyond my limited field of vision.

Looking forward to flying forward with you.  Wishing you much patience when you need it and success in all your endeavors!


Simple Words

Made-a-move #34: Getting grounded in the basics

The complexities of life so easily sweep us up in their constantly changing flow and draw our attention to navigating the obstacles and rushing current.  How fitting that with the start to the transitions of the new school year, including adjusting to my oldest DS going out of town for school, my move for this week was to delve into basics.  Starting with taking time to stop and marvel at a double rainbow on our way home from dropping our DS off at his new school.

Just as Emily Dickinson wrote that “To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee… and revery,”  I am striving to find and share meaning in life with basic elements – and, this week, my focus was on doing so with further exploring “simple words” – The words that say so much standing alone… Strength.  Health.  Happiness.  As Adin Steinsaltz said so eloquently in his book, Simple Words, Thinking about What really Matters in Life,

“Words are vehicles, and very powerful ones.  To use and ancient metaphor, the connection between the idea and the word can be compared to the relationship between a person and a horse.  The horse is far more powerful and much faster than the person, but it must be harnessed and guided.  The combination of man-horse is a very different thing from each of them as an individual being… We ride our words, but words have a tremendous power of their own.  They form a vehicle that makes the person within it a different being.”

This week I also looked to find out more about Annie Dillard, the author of the quote:

“The way we spend our days is, of course, the way we spend our lives.”

In doing so, I found many more inspirational quotes from Annie Dillard to share (and probably try to read from their original sources.)  Here are several I discovered:

“It is no less difficult to write a sentence in a recipe than sentences in Moby Dick. So you might as well write Moby Dick.”

“The dedicated life is the life worth living. You must give with your whole heart.”

“You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

“You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.”
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

“He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write. He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know.”
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

I wish you an inspirational week, filled with words of insight, blessing, and connectionAnd may the coming year (The Jewish New Year is just 2 weeks away) be good, sweet, healthy, and happy!

- DebBee

A face-lift – inside and out.

Made-a-move #33: Self-care

A couple weeks ago I mentioned reoccurring advice from experts in personal coaching and success that mutually recommend journaling.  Two other big messages these various experts repeatedly give are the importance of Reading and Self Care.

As for the Reading, I found pieces of myself in two poems in the book, Half Hours with the Best Poets.  From Robert Frost (1874 – 1963), The Road Not Taken.  I, too, in so many ways take the “one less traveled by” – it has it’s difficulties, but I think the “difference” that results from it is worth the effort.  Or, at least, I hope so since this is just how I do things.  I stumble through life foraging my own path – somewhere between the lifestyles that look so normal and smooth paths of the people around me.

The second poem describes the habits and direction I was falling into that I am determined to make moves to turn around: Abel Melveny, by Edger Lee Masters (1868 – 1950).  Though for me, rather than equipment left in the rain to gather rust, it has been crafting supplies, past interests, and business ideas and starts that accumulate inside and gather dust.

Self Care As my lack in attending to my self is well known by my family, they (my DH and DD’s) conspired together and got me to go for a make-up make-over (under the pretense that I was taking my daughter there for her to have the fun of the make-up appointment before the start of school).  Completely oblivious to their scheme, I didn’t find out until after the make up artist motioned that I should take a seat.   – Good thing I was sitting down when she told me!  Part of the deal was that I had to purchase make up too… I guess if I divide the cost by the nearly 20 years it has been since I last bought make up beyond a cheap eye pencil and a discounted tube of lipstick…

As one good move leads to another… next step was giving a ‘face-lift’ to the area around me – or at least putting in a very good start…



Keep Moving.  Keep Growing. Wishing you much success and joy in your journeys in this year and beyond.

- DebBee

Made it myself

Made-a-move #32: Taking ideas and making them happen

Busy week with lots of accomplishments. But, as I am attempting to type this posting on a 7 inch tablet (for the 2nd attempt), while on a vacation, I will try to keep words brief.

Sorry for delay on pix for the post – I can say with confidence that I am not able to upload pictures from my 7″ tablet directly to my WordPress site – errrrr. 

Last week in brief…

Saw a new recipe and tried it out – YUM!  Honey Chicken Kabobs – so easy and worth the time to string them (especially with the help of my DD!)

Prototype, testing, modifications, sample market testing, feedback and suggestions:

Swim skirts x 4 for trip (yes, I know only 3 of them are in the picture):

Great vacation with the family and DH’s mom, but…

… it’s good to be home.  I soooo needed a nap today!  at least my DS got a good rest in during the trip:

Keep moving!  Keep growing.

- DebBee

Journal Review Insights

Made a move #31: Reflecting on past to Move Forward

I’ve been reading and listening to a variety of personal improvement advice over the past couple years and one (of many) suggestions that is common to all of them is the importance of journaling… and reflecting on what was recorded in the past.  Whether it is Jim Rohn, Darren Hardy, Barbara Sher, John Maxwell, Cheryl Richardson, my Uncle S, etc – they all start their advice with organizing and putting your thoughts to paper.  This is the starting point of making a move to defining, developing, and succeeding in real changes in life.

Today I was moved to add to my journal.  In doing so, I looked back and saw that my last entry was 3/21/12!  This spurned me on to reflect on what I have accomplished in the past 5 months and beyond…  I began this Journal in December 2010 with the intention to document my progress towards getting out of “Stuck”, my dreams for what I want to do/ build/ accomplish, and insights into my own psyche and my experiences.  It started with:

In looking back through the journal I see myself describing the feeling of “stuck” several times, all in reference to feeling a lack of moving forward to accomplish my dreams, but each time in a different way.  From the first one being of a complete lack of control like being stuck in a web; to the August 2011 feeling of “stuck” in lack of initiating any of the specific things I had outlined to do; to the present feeling of “stuck” not knowing to which path to direct my steps along with the feeling of constraints holding me back.

Subtle differences but very significant.  Through my accomplishments over the past year (including consistently adding to this blog each week!), I have a clearer and deeper understanding of myself.  I now feel confident in my abilities to succeed in whatever I choose to do and  I have a clear sense of how to get started.  My challenge now is choosing my path and to do as my Uncle S told me a year ago – “Just pick one of your ideas and DO something with it.”

How fitting that I wrote in my journal in that 3/21/12 entry (in describing two messages portrayed in the book Winterling by Sarah Prineas) “To define who we want to be, we need to stop and reflect on our actions, abilities and desires.” and “We have powers/ strengths inside us waiting for opportunity to be revealed.”

I’m finally ready.  I look forward to documenting my steps in the new directions next week!

The making of a big celebration

Made-a-move #30: Step back to coordinate for projects bigger than big

After 29 weeks in a row of posting to this blog, I missed last week.  Definitely *Not* out of lack of ‘doing’… but more from an over-abundance of ‘doing’!  In fact, I did have a posting idea and pictures ready to post last week, but I let sanity and exhaustion win out and decided to let it wait for another time.  A posting about making a fruit fly trap didn’t seem so important given the other things more pressing for my time and attention.

So what tangible things have I done in the past 3 weeks?…  My youngest DD’s Bat Mitzvah celebration was this weekend.  She said a long speech.  I said a short speech.  We served a luncheon to over 250 people – a combination of people in the wonderful community we live in, friends, family and a few new faces as well.  From sending out the invitations (that I designed and printed) to room set-up plans; from the menu, to the shopping, to the food preparations; from the center-piece plans, to preparing the speeches; etc … I did a major part of the ‘doing’ – all completely tailored to my DD’s personality and wishes.  And, I did it with accepting and coordinating help from others!!  Including taking the ‘back seat’ and being the assistant to my oldest DD’s fancy desserts – only a few of them were:

The whole event went beautifully with a great deal of help from friends who pitched in, my DDs, my DH, my DSs, and, especially, the tremendous help from my mother and mother-in-law! (Not the least of which was for details I couldn’t handle like getting a dress for the Bat Mitzvah girl and taking her to get her nails done – nails done.. really??! What a foreign concept :)   But, she was sooo happy with her bright blue nails, 2 of which with tiny pretty flowers painted on them… really??  I somehow missed the girly stage of life!)  And, she even had one of her sister’s friends straighten her hair.  – Really??! – sit still for that long just for a hair-do?? – I can be so clueless when it comes to this stuff!

…I’ll get by with a little help from my friends…

I am so grateful to everyone who helped and participated and to Hashem for the strength, guidance, and opportunity to make this celebration.  Now, to write those thank-you notes… and to earn some extra $ to pay the bills…

Wishing you all many happy occasions to celebrate with family and friends and the ability to enjoy them in good health!


Morning Musings

Made-a-move #29: Putting ideas into writings to share.

Building on last week’s posting, this week I decided to work on developing my ideas for compiling information on Emuna, Bitachon and Kavana.  I especially delved more into the concept of Kavana – heartfelt concentration and mindfulness.  Instead of mechanically reciting morning prayers, I went to the beginning of them and really thought, and wrote, about their meaning.   I didn’t get to far… I ended up writing three pages of notes on just the first 12 words that are said when first waking up in the morning.  I’m not including all of them here, but here are a few of my ‘morning musings.’

In this crazy age of running around and constantly doing there are increasing messages from the ‘self-help’ industry advising us to take a break to recharge ourselves – to live life with more mindfulness and purpose, to live life with “an attitude of gratitude,” and to think about where we are, where we were, and where we want to go.  One technique I’ve heard from several sources (including John Maxwell) is to use affirmations to start the day on the right foot… “Just for today I will…”

These suggestions are all encompassed in a spiritual way in the Modeh Ani prayer that, by Jewish tradition, is said first thing in the morning when the person first wakes up and opens their eyes.

Modeh Ani Lifanecha — I give thanks to/ before You

Melech Chai Vikayam — King who is living and eternal

Shehechazarta bi nishmati — For You have returned within me my soul

Bichemla rabbah emmunatecha — with compassion, abundant is Your faithfulness.

With these 12 (Hebrew) words, we start our day with gratitude to, and an acknowledgement of, a higher power that exists and is a constant force in this world – a point of stability in our ever-changing surroundings and circumstances.  A force that is not distant, but close enough to be talked to directly and referred to as “You.”   That our soul that infuses us with life was in safe-keeping with The Creator while we slept and He now entrusts us to have it back, take good care of it while we are awake, and use the life it gives us to the best of our potential.  That regardless of the mistakes we have made on previous days, He does not hold that against us and has faith that we will live up to using the gift of life in good ways, and towards our purpose, today.

When we know that someone (whether it be parents, employer, friends, etc) has faith in us, we don’t want to disappoint them.  We want to do things that will prove that their faith and belief in us was well placed.  It makes us more conscientious of what we are doing – especially in front of them.

By saying the Modeh ani prayer with kavana, we can carry these awarenesses with us into this day.  We can thereby live our life (Remember that quote from a few weeks ago? – “How we live our days is how we live our lives.”) with more gratitude, stability, compassion, faith, integrity, and purpose.

Wishing you a great, successful and meaningful day!