Eishes Chayil

3
457
Art by Cassie Clark

On Friday nights, we sing a song about a Woman of Valor. Written by Shlomo Hamelech almost 3,000 years ago, it has withstood the test of time, describing and praising the many virtues of women. Sadly, though, over the centuries, women have not necessarily internalized the need to praise these virtues in ourselves. In modern times, we often focus on our shortcomings or faults.

Here’s to the woman whose mother died 3,000 miles away, and who had to prioritize herself and her family’s health and safety, and choose not to fly out for the funeral and shiva.

We are living through a pandemic, the likes of which we’ve not experienced in our lifetime. It is stressing us to the point of breaking.

Now is the time for us to focus on our strengths, our virtues, and our skills, and to extol our accomplishments. Not in a haughty way, but in a real, objective way, which reinforces our abilities to cope with, survive, and maybe even thrive, in this current climate of crisis.

Like many of us, I am quarantined at home due to Coronavirus. Both my husband and I were sick.  Our lives were interrupted, threatened, and, ultimately, rearranged, because of this horrible virus.

I’m a psychotherapist who has, thankfully, been practicing tele-health for half of my practice for over a year prior to this current pandemic. Because of this, it was relatively easy for me to move the remaining 50% of my practice online. But what wasn’t easy was doing this while caring for a husband who was very ill, needing to be present and providing an empathic, safe space for all of my clients who were trying to manage the same overwhelming feelings that I was experiencing, and, oh yes, cleaning and preparing for Pesach without my usual help.

Thank G-d, my husband was able to remain at home during his illness, but this required constant monitoring and advocating for him to doctors who were not able to see him in the traditional manner. I never thought I would say this, but thank G-d we live in a relatively small space and don’t have children at home. I was able to keep things clean enough that I didn’t require help (or really, a hazmat unit, like I feared!). This year, I was able to adopt a #whatever, #goodenough attitude toward cleaning and preparing for Pesach (finally practicing what I preach!). All of this led me to say, genuinely, and without a hint of bragging, that I was amazed at what I was able to get done before Pesach. This also led me to reflect over the holiday (as I had lots of uninterrupted time!) about all the other amazing things that women are doing right now.

It’s so easy, in this time of social media overload, to compare ourselves to others and feel less-than. But now is the time to build ourselves and others up. Not that it’s ever ok to put ourselves and others down; it’s just unfortunate that this is often our go-to response. But, without exaggeration, our lives depend on staying away from this attitude now. Comparing ourselves negatively to others increases our stress, sends our body a surge of Cortisol (the stress hormone), and weakens our immune system. Now is the time to strengthen ourselves and others.

Now is the time for us to focus on our strengths, our virtues, and our skills, and to extol our accomplishments. Not in a haughty way, but in a real, objective way, which reinforces our abilities to cope with, survive, and maybe even thrive, in this current climate of crisis.

Here are some highlights of the resiliency I have seen from the women in my life, and now is definitely the time to highlight them:

Here’s to the mother of many young children who is managing to work, coordinate online learning, and clean and prepare for holidays and Shabbat. Please take some time for yourself, so you can recharge! I recently supported a friend in doing this, and I had to reassure her that nothing horrible would happen in those 30 minutes she took for herself in her car to breathe.

Here’s to the woman whose mother died 3,000 miles away, and who had to prioritize herself and her family’s health and safety, and choose not to fly out for the funeral and shiva.

Here’s to the women who are home alone and managing isolation, loneliness, depression, and anxiety, but manage to go on, day after day.

Here’s to the women who are doing mitzvot for their communities and going shopping for others who cannot.

Here’s to the women who are checking in on others, even while experiencing deaths in their own families and communities.

You are all strong; you are all resilient; you are all amazing in your own ways. Pause for a moment and celebrate all the ways that you amaze yourself, then share them, in order to model for other women that it’s not just ok to highlight your accomplishments, but necessary.

Here’s to you, Eishes Chayil!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, Robyn. Beautifully written and a beautiful reminder. If I don’t know everyone you describe, I know someone just like them. Thank Gd your husband recovered. And thank you for the reminder that we need to appreciate our own strengths.

  2. Robyn. You write fluidly and sincerely. Your words are definitely from the heart because they enter mine. I need this advice now. I am impressed with your strength and buoyancy through this challenge. Yashar Koach.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here