February 27, 2020

Ripple Effect: Attention

The holiday season has been crazy. 

The Advot Project moved to a different office in the same building.  

Work, family, parties, end-of-the-year fundraising.

And a crazy sprint to try and fulfill last New Year’s resolutions that I have, of course, neglected, well, all year. And so much more.

 I found myself running around trying to be everywhere for everyone. 

Trying to do everything, sometimes all at the same time.

 I went to pick up something from a friend, had to put it in the garage and then run into the house to prepare for a holiday party at one of my kid’s friend’s house. 

 I ran into the bathroom. I had been holding my pee all day and, I’m sorry to share this information, but my phone fell into the toilet and I peed on it.

Not my finest moment. Definitely a sign that I need to slow down, pay attention, especially to what is in my pocket before I pull my pants down.

I work with broken, traumatized young adults who have been deprived of love, affection, and the security of a home.

I have learned more from these kids than from any school, workshop, or mentor in my life.

I have learned that change can happen, but it happens slowly.

I have learned that addiction can be conquered, but it takes time.

I have learned that you must pay attention.

I also know you must stop before you can go.

I am humbled again and again by the awareness of all the good in my life. 

I want to go into the new year with more commitment to my resolutions. I want to pay attention (especially to where I put my phone!) and to the people I care about.

I hope to work harder on what I know to be true. 

  • My biological children will grow out of being teenagers and the beast that has occupied their existence will subside.
  • Be good and spread good, because goodness travels far.  It also loops around in the most unexpected ways. 
  • We don’t need to change the entire world, but we must make a difference in someone’s life.
  • What I know more than anything is that making a difference is in the tiny, little mundane actions.  It is not hard to do. 

It simply requires us acting and paying attention.

 

In this New Year we will be going into new county lock up facilities.

I am excited about bringing my growing team behind the walls.

I remembered the holiday season a few years ago and shared my memory with them. It was something that happened in the girls’ detention center that I was working in.

Together with the probation officer, I filled the gym with an abundance of holiday decorations. When the girls walked in, they were shocked.

 “How did you do that?” they asked. 

“Aren’t you Jewish? Don’t you light a candle thing or something?” one asked.

“I light a menorah,” I tell them.

“I know that you all celebrate Christmas. I thought that this would be fun,” I add.

To be honest, I had the best time going to the dollar store and buying three massive bags of Christmas decorations. This Jewish girl got the bells, socks, reindeers… the whole nine yards.

Happiness and abundance for a little less than thirty bucks. 

“Ms. why did you go and do this?” she asked me. 

 “Because I can,” I answered her.

 “Damn, you care about us, don’t you?” she said. 

 “Yes, I care a lot.”

I remember sitting in the lock up facility.

 It was a little bit chilly. All around us were the Christmas decorations.

 It was very quiet. One of the girls started singing “Silent Night”.

Let me tell you, this dark, cold place became filled with joy and turned into a sacred place.

 

 “I feel like I’m in church,” one girl said.

 Another one said, “No, Stupid, you feel love.”

 She was right. It wasn’t just me loving them. It was all around us.

 It’s crazy.

A little attention.

A lot of affection.

 And $28.50 at the dollar store can do so much. 

So, I am now trying to STOP.

S – Slow down.
T – Take time.
O – Overview –of what, where, who needs what.
P – Pay attention. 

PAY ATTENTION.

Look around to see what is missing. Be the person who does, who brings, who is.  

Who knows? Someone might just be doing that for you.

I know, because it happens to me all the time.


Naomi Ackerman is a Mom, activist, writer, performer, and the founder and Executive Director of The Advot (ripple) Project a registered 501(c)3 that uses theatre and the arts to empower youth at risk to live their best life.

"Please note that the posts on The Blogs are contributed by third parties. The opinions, facts and any media content in them are presented solely by the authors, and neither The Jewish Journal nor its partners assume any responsibility for them. Please contact us in case of abuse."