🕯A #Shabbat reflection of gratitude (TL;DR: how candles ground me, in good and in bad times):
5 years ago I took on lighting #ShabbatCandles; because life sucked.
For years, I was running from myself, running from my gender identity. As a result I used addictive substances to suppress myself. Finally, in December 2014 I went sober, and stayed sober.
Yet, I was still running. Depression hit me, hard, and on top if it, I was fighting NOT to suppress it with narcotics or alchohol. I would go days, weeks, and months wailing in depression, not talking to anyone, not socializing. I couldn’t socialize the way I presented, and thought I wouldn’t survive transitioning.
Starting to light #Shabbos candles, was not for religious reasons at all; purely as a mental health practice.
Shabbat candles, and celebrating Friday nights, forced me to stop. It forced me to reflect for a bit, live in reality, and go out and socialize.
In many ways, it kept me sane.
5 years later —
Life couldn’t be more different, and I couldn’t be happier with where I am in life. Perfect? Na, what is perfection even? But 5 years ago, in my sweetest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined how well my life would be now.
Now, for almost the exact opposite reasons, Shabbat candles, and celebrating Friday nights, keeps me grounded.
Wherever in the world I am:
Whether across the US for a scholar-in-residence weekend, or at a conference in Europe presenting for hundreds.
Whether shooting a short segment with a national network, or on-set for an activism related photoshoot.
Whether in DC getting ready to speak live to hundreds of thousands of people, or hosting a Pride Shabbat in Singapore.
Whether home with a friend, or at synagogue with community, or at a movie with a group.
Shabbat candles, Shabbat Eve, helps me stay in focus. It helps celebrate life, rejoice. It helps reflect on the good and the bed, and take time to plot how we make the world better for all ❤
Pardon my unplanned rant turned essay, and just have a #ShabbatShalom, and a #HappyWeekend🕯 (at New York, New York)