I've been back in Poughkeepsie, New York, for a month. Hard to believe. There’s still stuff to unpack from our year in Barbados.
Yesterday I received an email from a friend/ colleague/ mentor and in it she said "How're things back in New York? Transitioning back to the old normal can be difficult (so we make new normals)."
This resonated with me and moved me to write as this weekend (starting Friday evening) was Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – and the start of the Jewish New Year. At the Saturday morning service I sat and listened to the rabbi’s sermon. He started by talking about the idea of resurrection, a foreign concept in Reformed Judaism, but something that was part of early Judaism and still believed by Orthodox Jews. In discussing resurrection, the rabbi said that he felt that one's dying and returning could be looked at more of a metaphor. He thought of it more to mean rebirth, or in my mind renewal, that we may or may not come back from the dead. Who knows? Who among us has seen Moses or Abraham Lincoln? (Though some have claimed to have seen Elvis.) Rabbi said that when we feel we have hit a road block or come to the end of a long road or when we feel the most lost, there will be something that turns it around, we're shown a new road, a new door opens, there's a clearing in the forest. So rather than the literal interpretation of resurrection, he gave us something akin to resurrecting a life, a new beginning a new normal.
Barbados, for me was a glorious journey that fulfilled me beyond measure. After a long spate of personal and professional trials, I was presented with Barbados where my family and I flourished. How could I go back to New York after such an amazing year abroad? They say you can never go back. But it is just not true. Sometimes, you have to go back. And who could not wish to return to the beauty that is found within the Hudson Valley in autumn? The weather is now turning cool and crisp, the leaves are just beginning to change. I love this season. My house is spacious and welcoming. I see neighbors on the street who stop and ask how my year was. They missed me. They missed my family. I am home. You can go back.
For the first time in my life, I do not have a clear plan. Since I was a teenager, I’ve known, career-wise, what I was going to do. I came back home to New York following a terrific Fulbright experience without a paying job, but I am more clear-eyed than ever. I am taking a sabbatical. I am resting. I am excited about the present moment picking my kids up from school, moving back into our house, supporting my partner as she goes back to work, and planting my feet back into my Poughkeepsie community. This is my new normal, a new beginning. What the future holds is still to be determined.
To a sweet, happy, good new year, L’shana Tova!
Photo of the Hudson Valley is from Flickr Creative Commons taken by b.reynolds.