I hope that everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season... meaning Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. I find the month of Tishrei to be a sprint and a marathon all rolled up into one. Every week is a new holiday, and we try to find personal meaning in all of them while running through them at full speed. One moment you're prepping Rosh HaShana, the next it seems, you're building a sukkah!
The following month is Cheshvan, otherwise known as MarCheshvan - the "mar" meaning bitter since there are no holidays to bring us closer to HaShem - and that's true, there are no specific holidays that push that closeness (except Shabbat) - however, this is also a special month in its own way. Cheshvan is the time where we take that 'forced' closeness and make it our responsibility.
Around Rosh HaShana time we like to have New Year's Resolutions - what we'll do better for the coming year - and by the time we blink we've set those resolutions aside as unrealistic and we don't even bother trying. To be honest, I do the same.
Over the last few days, I was looking at a "Goals" workbook (I bought it last year) and I thought I might give it a chance. It started with asking what my dream life would be. I'm not good at these things so I thought about where I'm at today - things I feel good about and things I thought I could do better... I was then able to figure out where I wanted to be in general and more specifically. Then the workbook asked: what small things could you do to head you in the right direction toward your goals. I then realized that it's not the big stuff that moves you along to your goals, but the small choices and small things you do that get you there.
It reminded me of 25 years ago when I was about to leave Israel, after learning about all the Jewish things I didn't know (and there's even more to know!), when my Rabbi told us to make sure to spend five minutes learning every day. At the time I couldn't imagine only spending five minutes a day when at the time I was spending my entire day learning! After returning to everyday life and a fast reality check, my Rabbi was absolutely correct - 5 minutes a day is your anchor to your soul and the meaning of life.
Five minutes, of course, is just the beginning - but it is a beginning to moving in the right direction of bringing HaShem closer to us in our lives. Tishrei is 'forced' closeness - it's a way of HaShem showing us what it could be like to spend our time with Judaism in the forefront of our consciousness, instead of fitting our Judaism into our already busy lives... and here we are in Cheshvan... it's time for the effort to come from us - what habits are we going to create that only takes a few minutes a day but gets us closer to our Creator?
Start small and before you know it you'll be on your way.