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New Year's Resolutions

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It’s (OK, it was) Tu b’Shvat! Yes, I know it was last week, so technically I’m a little behind, but remember the twins? I have an excuse! (If you are thinking, “Oh boy, she’s going to be using that line forever,” then, yes, you are correct.)
 
So here we are once, again, at the holiday of the trees. This year, I give you:
 
The Great Outdoors: An Ode to Trees and Such
 
This past Chanukah, we took a little vacation. It was the first time we had taken a non-August vacation in Israel. Here’s a thing I learned—hiking in December is amazing. More of the green and less of the sweat! What, you mean everyone knew this already? Well, this was our first experience, thank to my husband taking paternity leave and being off during Chanukah break.
 
Instead of heading to Eilat like the rest of the country, we headed up north for two days. Day one of vacation was soggy, soggy, soggy. Not that I, as a tried and true Israeli, am complaining about the rain. In fact, we are very careful never to speak ill of the rain. “Look how much blessing is falling on our car right now!” we say instead, “Oh! Some blessing got inside my shoes!” we exclaim. And even on this vacation day full of blessing, we still drove to a hiking spot, thinking perhaps the rain would abate and we could get out and climb around. However, there was no abatement, just more blessing, so we left.
 
But then, day two dawned sunny and beautiful, the kind of clear, post-rain day where everything looks scrubbed and shiny. We packed up the car and headed out, ready to hit up some parks before driving home. At the first park, each parent strapped on a baby, did a quick count of the other kids, and we started walking. The combination of the blue skies, crisp weather and intense greens was almost overpowering. As we hiked, I was filled with a sense of completeness, of fulfillment, of true awesomeness. Hiking, I realized, was not just about walking around. In fact, I would go so far as to say it wasn’t just enjoyable, it was necessary. I felt a visceral need to be outside, walking on dirt, surrounded by grass and trees. It was as near to a spiritual moment as I get these days. (And I mean spiritual, not religious, which is an entirely different kind of moment altogether). For us, being outside, connecting with the natural world, is not a lark but a passion.
 
Since Tu b’Shvat is the New Year for the trees, it seems fitting to make some New Year’s resolutions now. For me, it’s to get outside, as much as I’m able. And I mean real outside, hills-and-clouds outside, clear-your-head outside, not “Hey look I’m outside while running into my car and then to the grocery store!” We all need to find those moments, find the thing that has the power to take us out of our own world and connect us with something greater, even for just a few moments. Find the thing that makes you feel whole and complete, and do it, as often as you can.
 
For me, it’s the Great Outdoors. What is your passion?

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