I am supposed to be writing. I have numerous deadlines.

I’m unable to organize my thoughts.  I’m unable to find words in the silence.

I consider that sitting at the computer a moment longer will cause me to drown in frustration. I decide to spend the day in the studio. A day turns into a week of productivity, just of a different sort.

Three things I accomplished this week:

1. Meeting in person and speaking by telephone with several people with whom I hadn’t connected in some time. If, God forbid, I die tomorrow, no one will miss the words I failed to write this week. I would, however, regret if I neglected the people I love. I was deeply affected and inspired by this reflection in the New York Times Magazine.

2. Making a mess in the basement studio; I was throwing on the wheel with red clay. I’d love to post pictures, but I’m afraid that my spouse would see them and feel compelled to comment. (Guess which one of us works in a Nanotech Clean Room and which one of us prefers to play in the dirt…)

3. Participating in an art class with my friend and co-teacher Flora Rosefsky. I’d led the text-study session last week and planned to attend her studio-art session this week. I could have stayed home and used the time to write. Instead, I chose to connect with our students through creating art-midrash.

Here are photographs of my Found Art Sculpture titled “One Breath.” If you want to read the only words I’ve written this week—an artist’s statement explaining the piece—click here.  Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

found object 1 web

One Breath (front)

found object2 web

“One Breath” (back)





Comments (6)

Ahhhhh. Productivity. What a narrowly defined and important word it has become to so many of us: quantitative, measurable, affirmed by others, and visible! Thanks for reframing and for sharing your delight in the moment. I actually like the back of “One Breath” best….and choose to believe that our lunch fits in the category of “people with whom I hadn’t connected in some time”. A highlight for me, most definitely 🙂

Our lunch was definitely in the category of “connecting with people,” and one of the conversations that encouraged me to reframe my concept of productivity! Thank you for being such a wonderful spiritual guide and friend.

This is awesome! And exactly what I needed to hear. Constantly being on a quest to “do” something or “be” something or somewhere or accomplishing tasks is something that I have trouble letting go of. I really like that you acknowledge your compliments not in relation to the amount of work you did, but the quality of the things you did. Kol ha kavod, thank you for sharing!

Ariella, I struggle with letting go of “striving to accomplish tasks,” so this week was a growth experience for me. I hoped that by sharing my thoughts about this week, I would help others who face similar challenges. Thanks for encouraging me and letting me know that my words were well-received.

So glad that you chose to come to the art class last Wednesday – your insight, thoughtful comments, helped several of the Melton course participants reflect upon the Tower of Babel Parshah while developing their original conceptual found object sculptures that used the now antiquated flip phones, to create their contemporary towers, Communicating with blogs, emails, facebook, twitter, SKYPE,texting, iPhones, (did I leave anything out?) is wonderful, but face to face conversations with our voices, not just fingers moving across a phone, need to be revived before spoken language becomes a lost art. Wishing you continued success – in finding your refleciton spaces. Happy that Kim Goodfriend and Shelley Buxbaum brought us together to co-teach this fall’s Melton course on the first Parshiot.Developing the curriculum has been most thought provoking and very creative in its own way. Everyone did a great job intepreting the Torah text with the art activity including you!

Flora, thank you for your kind, supportive & encouraging words! I, too, am happy that Kim & Shelley made such a terrific shiddukh (match). I am learning so much from your approach to the Torah text. You are helping me refine my lessons, hone my teaching skills. I hope that we will have many opportunities to work together in the future!

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