A very busy day.

Item 1 on the agenda, Lovely Husband has gone to South Africa for a week as of this evening. It is our nephew’s bar mitzvah, but since it is term time, we can’t all go. This is the first time in our decade of marriage that he’s gone away without me. It feels very odd. I don’t know if he’s going to be reading my blog while he is away, but just in case… I love you lots and hope you are having a wonderful time in sunny South Africa.

While he’s away, no doubt my meals may look a little different. Watch this space!

Item 2 on the agenda is a shiur (Torah class) I attended today. It was given by Rebbetzin Holly Pavlov of Shearim seminary in Jerusalem while she’s on her yearly trip to the UK. I was a student there for just over a year after I graduated from university. She is such an inspiring speaker and phenomenal person in general, it is always such a joy to catch up with her and learn from her. The shiur was entitled “Stretching Ourselves to be Great” and was given catered to the group who were mothers of children with special needs.

The main message I took away from the shiur was that we often underestimate what we can achieve. We feel that we are very limited in what we can attain, and so do not put in any effort to change. However, as she explained, within every single human being there is the potential for greatness and almost limitless achievement. We have to make our efforts and if we really want to, we can achieve things which we thought were impossible. This is both true in the spiritual realm and the physical realm.

We may feel that our potential, for example, for giving to others is very limited. “I can’t do that”, “I’m not the type to do x, y and z”. However we underestimate ourselves. Because we can probably all think of situations when we went beyond what we thought we could do to help a friend or family member in an emergency situation, where we rose above our usual time and energy limitations. Those of us who are parents know that somehow we can function on four hours of broken sleep for weeks and sometimes months or even years on end. Ask any sane person if that’s possible?!

We have to really want something though to achieve this “beyond our natural capabilities” ability. She distinguished between wanting something and wanting to want something. The example she gave was shalom bayis (marital harmony).  Who doesn’t want that? But do we really want it? Do we want it enough to bite our tongue when that cutting remark is trying to get out? Do we want it enough to actually do something about it? Or do we just want to want it.

If we really want something, and we are willing to put in the requisite struggle and hard work, then Hashem will help us to achieve the apparently impossible.

But we have to really want it.

Someone asked the question that perhaps you are thinking, “what if you really, truly want to achieve something and you put in the necessary effort, and you still don’t achieve your goal?”

The Rebbetzin gave a beautiful answer, which if I understood correctly was that the effort is an achievement of its own, you as a person will be changed by the experience of having put this effort in. It may not have been what you thought you were working towards, but the effort changes you. Life is not about achieving. (That is in Hashem’s Hands). It is all about effort and stretching yourself.

She spoke about how struggle and hard work have a dirty name nowadays. But this is wrong, because only by working hard at something do you see what your true potential for greatness is.

When Hashem tested Avraham (and by extension, tests all of us), Hashem knew what Avraham would do, Hashem knows what we can achieve. So what is the point of the test? We don’t know what we can achieve! By having tests, tests which can be long and difficult, we grow into and through our challenges and show ourselves and the world what we are capable of.

This was what I took away from the shiur and errors in its transmission are with me and not the Rebbetzin. I’m sure you can see the relevance to weight loss and living a healthy physical life as well as a spiritual one. I’m not going to hit you over the head with it.

Breakfast- porridge with almond milk

Snack at shiur – a handful of grapes

Lunch – pitta with pesto and chicken

Snack – prunes

Supper – a bowl of sweet potato/lentil soup around kids supper time. Then porridge with almond milk, maple golden syrup and raisins (this is the most decadent tasting healthy meal ever).

Total food 1282 kcal no exercise

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