It’s Labor Day, and along with our national holiday, this evening marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. At first glance the two have little to do with each other but leave it to me to find a connection.
When I think Labor Day, I am immediately brought back down memory lane. Labor Day was a big deal back when I was a kid. For me and for many other children around the country, the holiday meant the start of a new school year, and, sadly, the end of summer. No more days to laze around without a schedule. It was time to get those marbled notebooks and pencils together. Sharpen them with a nice pointy point. Maybe go to Woolworth’s for a new pencil case or lunch box.
My memories of Labor Day also include images of men—yes, mostly men—going off to labor each morning in some sort of uniform, pressed (with their names embroidered onto a patch), carrying metal lunch boxes of their own. I think of Macy*s One Day Sales and mattress discounts and commercials featuring men (again) screaming about once-a-year car deals.
And, of course, there would no Labor Day without Jerry Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Kids with MD paraded around to the lyrics “Look at us we’re walking, look at us we’re talking, we who never walked or talked before.” I shudder, now, when I think of that. How could that have ever been a thing?
New Year Evolutions
Labor indicates work, often work of a physical nature. It also brings to mind the very physical aspect of giving birth, which, in turn, brings me to the celebration of the Jewish New Year.
My family was never religious, but Judaism lived in every crack in the ceiling, every corner of each wall. We were nonobservant but were cultural Jews, and given my parents’ place in time and history, the Holocaust was always lurking close in the background.
Jews all over the world celebrate Rosh Hashanah with a treat of apples and honey, symbolizing hope—hope for a sweet new year. And while January 1 is not far behind, with its New Year’s resolutions (which I embrace full force, by the way), the Jewish New Year, for me, is less about resolutions (and revolutions) and more about evolutions. It is a time for reflection on the past year and the year going forward. What were the fruits of my labor/labors? How have I evolved? And what would I like to birth in the year ahead?
It’s an especially interesting time to look behind and forward. We’ve all experienced changes due to the pandemic. Next month will be a year since I moved to Florida. And I’m a year older, as are well all. I hear the clock ticking, and while that is not a bad thing (at least I still have my hearing!), that tick-tock does add a greater sense of urgency. I’m not in a hurry or rushing to get anywhere, but I am taking my labors more seriously. No longer do I take them for granted. Now, I ask myself where I am placing my energies, my focus. I ask, where and what is my work?
Labors of Love
For me, the work is writing. I would love to birth my novel this year! And continue to write short memoir pieces and fiction. I will continue my book on the formerly incarcerated men, and plan to keep up with a young adult novel I’ve started writing about a feisty teen named Jessica, who has an eating disorder—and an attitude! (I’m so grateful–and honored–to have been selected the winner of The Writers’ Colony of Dairy Hollow’s 2021 Dancing in the Rain fellowship for a work of young adult literature in progress.)
I’m teaching writing classes. The latest is Mirroring the Masters. It’s one of my favorites. There is so much to learn from those whose work we admire—whose work takes our breath away. It’s starting on September 13 and runs for three consecutive Monday evenings. There are still a few spots left–I’d love to see you there!
I’m taking on clients for book coaching, memoir and fiction editing, brainstorming and writing support of all kinds.
There are so many wonderful opportunities I am embracing currently and looking forward to in near the future.
I think about my labors. I feel grateful that I am able to choose them. Mine are labors of love. One of those labors of love is this blog. This month marks the end of three full years of WomanPause. I want to thank everyone who’s been here from the start of the journey and all those who have hopped onto the WomanPause train along the way.
And … I have come to the decision that, starting in October, I will be moving from bi-weekly to monthly posts. (There will be additional surprise posts some months.) I don’t want to shortchange any of you or the work I post on the blog, so I believe cutting back a bit will be the wisest and kindest decision.
These past 60 years have been a glorious journey. I’m so grateful to have connected with so many of you as we walk our paths. I look forward to continued correspondence and connection, through the blog and through other portals too.
As Always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What have been the fruits of your labors? What would you like to birth in the new year?
Please leave a comment or send an email.
See you September 20 for a most wonderful interview with the most wonderful Alison McGhee!
Until then, and always, may your labors be labors of love and may your days be sweet.
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P.S. If you are inspired by wonderful writing, I’d love for you to join me on September 13, 20 and 27 for “Mirroring the Masters,” a writing class I am offering through the New York Writing Room.
P.S.S. I’m also sooooo excited to announce that I’m adding some “Work with Me” options on my website! I’m offering book, essay, and story coaching as well as group and one-on-one craft sessions! I’d love to work with you and help you elevate your voice!