May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Before the Parade Passes By

Summer 2018 was hot, sticky, humid and rainy, yet most of us are very sorry that it is over. One of the many enjoyable things that I had a chance to do this summer was to see the Broadway production of Hello Dolly starring Bette Midler. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the play, it takes place in New York City some time at the end of the 19th century. Dolly Levi, played by Bette Midler, is a widow and a woman of many talents, including matchmaker. Her latest client is an ornery “half-a-millionaire” by the name of Horace Vandergelder. But he is not only her client, he is also the man she herself plans to marry, though unbeknownst to him. There are other star-crossed lovers in the play, all young and poor, all looking for love. This is Broadway, so everything gets wrapped up in a bow at the end and everyone lives happily ever after – at least until the curtain comes down. If you are looking for a dramatic, thought-provoking play, you will likely leave the theatre disappointed. But I love musicals, and I saw Hello Dolly with Barbara Streisand when I was a child and fell in love with Barbara and the music. I went to the play out of nostalgia – something that I am frequently drawn to at this stage of my life.

While the play was certainly not brilliant, I learned a very important lesson from it this time – not from the play itself, but from the star. Bette Midler is known for her magnificent voice and for her well-known songs. At 73 years of age, however, she no longer has the same magnificent voice, she can’t reach all the high notes, and she thus needed several musical modifications to the songs in the play. Some of the younger stars had more beautiful voices and sang all the high notes, yet Bette remained the star and was the most loved performer by the audience. She was comedic, fast with her lines, made fun of herself and had the audience laughing. There was a kind of love affair between her and the audience and the people simply did not care that she could not sing the way she did in her younger years. She is an actress and an entertainer, and she wowed her audience with her best self now. She did not decline the opportunity to perform just because she couldn’t do so the way she used to.

I left the play inspired by her. Many of us often get stuck in nostalgia not only for the music or favorite activities of our youth, but also in longing for who we used to be. Sometimes, that longing for who we once were prevents us from becoming the best that we can be right now. We hold on so tightly to that person from the past that we don’t develop and work with the skills and abilities we have right now. This desire to hold on to and sometimes even to live in the past can have a negative effect on our professional and personal lives in addition to our overall health. When I was a teenager, I was very involved with NCSY; at one time it was the center of my existence. Many of the people who are my friends today were people I met in NCSY (including my husband!). At some point in my early 20’s, I found that the thrill of organizing, planning, going to, and running Shabbatons and other youth-oriented events was fading, and along with my husband, we decided to pursue the next chapters in our lives, allowing a new crop of talented and dedicated individuals to take over the leadership positions and continue the organization’s important work while we found other ways to be supportive and maintain a connection. I remember that for a few of our friends, it was exceptionally hard to let go of the person standing in the center of the room, the man/woman in charge, idolized by all the participants. It took longer for them to move on, but eventually they did, modifying their roles even if they stayed formally involved in the organization.

A few years ago, I was discussing the many benefits of physical activity with a middle-aged woman. She told me that she loved playing softball and had been a great player in college, but couldn’t find a competitive sports team to play on and therefore wasn’t exercising at all. I feel confident that she has not been able to find a softball team for middle-aged women. I tried to explain to her that her decision about exercise should not be based on her desire to be the athlete she once was but on what she could accomplish now. My husband, who is an educator, has told me about the need for Rebbeim and teachers to periodically adapt the way they relate to their students based on their present talents and skill sets. There comes a point when a teacher may not be as effective sitting on the floor playing the guitar, writing skits, or playing basketball with his students but may be even more effective counseling, guiding, and reaching them in other ways because of wisdom and insight accumulated through extensive life and teaching experience.

Many of us feel that we are identified by our professions. Over the course of our lives, we spend so much of our time at work that our job seems to define who we are. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to change professions due a change in the industry. Or, the time has come to leave one’s job and retire. For many, this leads to feelings of inadequacy or even depression. But it need not! There are other ways to be productive and to contribute to something worthwhile. There is something else which everyone can do that can result in a sense of accomplishment. We are all more than our jobs! If we can take the time to find the person inside each of us, the person we are now, we too can find our voice. A voice that may not be as loud or strong as it once was, but can still be loved and worth hearing.

As we approach Rosh HaShanah, ask yourself where you are today. Is your old self holding you back? Let us each plan to present the very best of our current self and try to find meaning and happiness wherever we are in life.

Wishing you and your family a Keisivah VaChasimah Tovah.

By Beth S Taubes, RN


Beth Taubes RN, OCN, CBCN, CHC,CYT, is the owner of Wellness Motivations LLC. She motivates clients of all backgrounds, ages, and health conditions to engage in improved self-care through nutritional counseling, fitness training, yoga practice, and stress reduction techniques. Sign up for the “count up to Shavous challenge” Gift Certificates available. Beth can be reached at [email protected] or wellnessmotivationsbt.com.

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