Reflections on the Past Year During the Jewish Holidays

It seems like the only thing that’s constant these days is change. As the future is increasingly shrouded in uncertainty, it’s clear we must learn to cope with change.  Last year was a year none of us will ever forget.  The COVID-19 pandemic shook the world and touched each and every one of us.  The past eighteen months have certainly had its ups and downs, but the one theme I’d like to echo is how grateful and fortunate I am every single day to be alive and healthy.

Our family is Jewish and last week was Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday of the year.  It’s a day when we fast and have a lot of time to look back and reflect upon the year ahead.  I like to think of it as a blank book with 365-pages to celebrate the New Year. Our family has been very fortunate to have the flexibility to work from home for most of the year.  We sent our kids to summer camp and are hopefully returning to school fully for the 2021-2022 school year.  Most importantly we’ve all been fortunate to remain healthy.

The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the “Ten Days of Teshuvah,” often translated as a time of repentance.  This period is seen as an opportunity for change.  We’re asked to think about the people who we may have harmed over the past year, either intentionally or accidentally, and whether it was by words or actions.  It’s a time when we’re invited to reach out to people and make up for our mistakes.  It allows us an opportunity to directly address anyone we may have wronged, seek forgiveness, and make amends.

The Jewish Holidays always make me feel grateful to be part of my local community.  We were fortunate to attend Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at our local synagogue outdoors this year and see many of our friends who we haven’t seen throughout the pandemic.  It restored a sense of “normalcy” to be back together sharing Rosh Hashanah dinner with some of our closest friends in town and break the Yom Kippur fast with family and friends.  The Jewish holidays have been a part of the rhythm of time for centuries and many Jewish communities all over the world are gathering and connecting in solidarity.

Building on the idea of leaning into community, last year I was the co-president of a local club in my town, “Newcomers and Neighbors of Short Hills and Millburn.” It was eye opening to see the strength of our community uniting during dark times. Last year our club ran initiatives to give back, which included feeding front-line workers during the peak of the pandemic, sending holiday and Valentine’s Day cards to troops deployed overseas, supporting our local food pantry and other organizations through diaper and food drives, and more.  This experience is one I will cherish and reflect upon with pride as I continue to support the community around me. 

As a business owner myself I’ve certainly felt the bumps in the road throughout the pandemic, but I have adapted and embraced change within my own company, Marissa Pick Consulting.  I’ve learned several lessons, which have helped me to remain agile and hit the ground running this year.

  • Embrace Change.  I’m the first to admit that one of my worst qualities is embracing change.  I’m a self-described “Type A” control freak and I like to plan everything out as far in advance as possible to ensure I have as much control as possible.  Well, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, this forced me to tackle my issues with change headfirst.  I really struggled not exactly knowing when and where we could go and what the future would hold for school, camp, life, business, and everything else.  Change is scary.  People crave routine and rely on doing things the way they have always been done.  I like predictability.  I’ve learned to adapt and become more flexible this past year and focus much more on my communication skills.  Routines in our household have become a bit steadier with school, sports and schedules ramping back.  One of my goals for the year ahead is to be more flexible and really embrace and not fight change.  Whatever it will be, will be, so I may as well get onboard.
  • Address Mental Health. I’ve struggled with anxiety over the past few years.  Last spring, when it became apparent that lockdown wasn’t coming and going quickly, I found myself totally overwhelmed.  I reached out to family and friends for support and contacted my doctor to go back on my anxiety medicine.  The pandemic was an unprecedented time when many of us were balancing working, parenting, trying to be a teacher and keep it all together mentally amidst fear.  I was really scared and going back on medicine helped me better take on the world (most days, at least). I’ve found my anxiety to be an ongoing battle as we re-enter this “new normal” world where COVID is still very much a threat.  Since our two young kids aren’t vaccinated, we’ve tried to remain as cautious as possible.  My anxiety still impacts me, but I’m coping better than before.   I encourage you to reach out to your friends, family, or a doctor for help if you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed to get the help you may need.
  • Find an Outlet to Release Energy or Stress. As a college athlete I’ve always tried to stay in shape, workout, and channel my emotions into a healthy outlet.  I’ve always enjoyed cycling and last year we swapped out our bike for a Peloton.  As often as possible, either after the kids finish school or activities, or in between client work, I prioritize time for myself to workout.  I love taking live classes and riding with friends near and far.  I am a competitive person and I love tracking my progress and pushing myself to work harder to understand how far I’ve come and how far I have to go.  If working out isn’t your thing, see if you can find something that helps you stay healthy and regularly releasing the stress we all carry around within ourselves.
  • Smile.  Life is overwhelming, and some days it’s hard to not get lost in the endless media circus of life.  The highlight of my day is having my kids run into my arms after school and telling me about their day.  Kids have a view of the world that is so innocent, pure and refreshing.  My boys are so inquisitive, curious and hopeful about the future.  They inspire my husband and I every day to smile and have fun and remind us that family comes first, no matter what.  Whatever it is that makes you smile, recognize it and make it part of your daily routine.

Thank you for taking the time to read my New Year reflections.  On Yom Kippur we say “G’mar chatima tova,” which in English means, “May you be sealed in the Book of Life.”  As the New Year begins in the Jewish world, I hope that all your wishes got sealed this Yom Kippur and wish everyone a sweet, happy and healthy New Year ahead.

I’d love to know what you’ve done to embrace change over the past year or so.  Please leave a comment below or send me a message via email.


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