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The Serenity Prayer

 

For one of my classes this semester I had to sit in on an (open) Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and they ended with the Serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. We recited it as a group, holding hands in a circle, and it struck me all over again as both brilliant and impossible to live up to: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

But I can’t tell the difference between what I can and can’t change. I feel responsible for everything and everyone. Instead of calming and reassuring me, the Serenity prayer makes me think of all of the things I should be able to fix, if only I could figure out where I left my super powers. I wish that saying it over and over again could make it sink in, along with all of the non-judgmental, one day at a time, generosity that plays such a big role in AA. I wish that I could say that I am starting to really get it, but I’m not sure. I try to tell myself that by self-publishing Yeshiva Girl I have at least taken another step forward, and that each step counts.

I have been so lucky with all of you, and the reviews you wrote for me, and your encouragement and kindness. And when I reached out to people from all different sectors of my life, they gave me such kind responses. I know so many good people now, so many inspiring, generous, warm-hearted people. It’s a whole different world from the one I grew up in, but, part of me still lives back there, in the dark and cold, short of breath and struggling to survive. I want that part of me to understand that things have changed, and that all of you wonderful people are in my life now. Maybe one day, she will.

Here’s to taking many more small steps in the New Year, towards happiness, friendship, health, accomplishment. Miss Ellie is hoping to get me to spend more time taking her to the dog park, and Miss Cricket is praying for heavy snowfall, and daily snowball fights throughout the winter, and long walks as soon as the snow stops. We can all dream, and, in the meantime, there are lots of chicken treats to keep the peace!

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“You should have taken me to the dog park, Mommy.”

Cricket in snow 2

“Zooooooooooooom!!!!!”

 

 

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl.

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Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish girl on Long Island named Izzy (short for Isabel). Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes that it’s true. Izzy’s father decides to send her to an Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain, smart, funny, and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment.

 

 

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

80 responses »

  1. Praying for a lot of things to get better, in the New Year.

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  2. You are hard on yourself, Rachel, harder than you ever would be on your doggies. It’s only hard to distinguish between that which one might be able to change and that which one can’t change if one concerns herself with such matters: and that itself says a lot about the kind of person you are. You care about the right things. And you are a fine and serious writer, who has taken a big step this year. Your dogs love you like God does. Take that as your cue. And brava for your accomplishments and more importantly for your heart. Keep up the wonderful work in 2019. Don’t be afraid. Write.

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  3. That photo of Cricket….I thought she had gotten a haircut and that was her hair on the floor. Her expression says it all. Too funny. When I was younger, we used to add a line (jokingly) at the end of the Serenity Prayer about ‘hiding the bodies.’ It was some high school joke, but that is one heck of a prayer to live up to. I say we pray for each other….!

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  4. Change can be very hard to achieve. You have made a big change during 2018 by getting your book into the hands of readers. So far, the results have been very positive.You have found an appreciate audience. Congratulations! Best wishes for 2019 and beyond!

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  5. Also praying for a better year. I love snow, so Ellie and I have something in common. We had a dog who ate a good bit of the couch, along with one shoe each from several pairs of my shoes. (on sale for 1.99 a pair!) So, I asked him if he wanted a purse to go with the shoes. He wasn’t into chicken treats, but loved getting his own cup of ice cream at the Dairy Queen drive through. Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year! 😊

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  6. Yes, I wish I could live up to the Serenity Prayer. Benji is not a shoe eater – thankfully. He is also not a “stick your head out of the car window” kind of dog more of a “Wake me up when we get there” dog. I did buy your book but I have been so busy these last few weeks that I have not had time to open it – but I will ! Every step forward is a good step to take.

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  7. Maverick will eat anything as long as it takes like stuffing or paper. Sigh – this is something I’m trying to learn to accept because it doesn’t seem like I can change it! Also, I hate snow, so he can come play with Cricket if we get any of the nasty stuff.
    You don’t realize the changes in yourself – I’ve read your blog for it seems like forever, and you’ve really blossomed over the years. Someday that little girl will realize that the darkness is gone, and then you’ll truly come into your light. I pray that this is the year.

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  8. It is a curse borne by social workers (and probably teachers) that we feel responsible for everyone and everything. Courage we have. The wisdom to know what we can’t change and the serenity to accept those things are harder to come by, although dogs seem to have no such problem. We should learn from them. When you find where you left your superpowers, let me know. Mine are probably there, too.

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  9. WOW – and neat – and remarkable. Be pleased with you as you are.

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  10. I always love the Serenity Prayer. Have a happy and prosperous 2019.

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  11. Here’s hoping that 2019 reminds you that you just need to be you.

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  12. Most things in life can be changed. Decisions can be reversed, career paths altered, locations moved away from, even marriages left behind. Circumstances of birth, and upbringing, are perhaps the most difficult. But many have been able to change the outcome of those too.
    The reality is that most of us, myself included, lack the courage to act on impulse or to face the uncertain prospects of such major changes.
    You have already made a significant start, and I am sure you will go on to make more progress in the years to come.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  13. the running through the snow photo is quite adorable

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  14. Happy New Year Rachel and treats and hugs by proxy for the girls.

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  15. I find that I have to acknowledge both the good now and the bad then to help that small child feel accompanied. I have not had much success just telling her how good things are now. She seems to want to know that I get how things were then. She is afraid I will move on and forget her, I think. It is a real challenge to embrace both now and then.

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  16. Zooooom! I love pictures like this and have many of Charlie! So much joy and energy.
    It’s interesting that you are saying it’s difficult to distinguish between what you can and cannot change. My critique group talked about this the other day as we shared 2019 goals.
    The goal – get an agent is something I cannot control.
    The goal – research and query X number of agents is something I can control.

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  17. Hi. Loved this post! Thnx for stopping by my blog—I greatly appreciate it! I have some thoughts on this post but prefer to share privately. Feel free to message me on FB or email me via my contact page. Happy new year and thnx again!

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  18. I always love reading your posts Rachel & congratulations on your published book!!

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  19. Happy New Year, keep your spirits up, keep the dogs happy, and enjoy each moment as your gift this year.. keep writing 🙂

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  20. Prayers for the world to have more love and compassion in 2019, and it spills over into you. Happy New Year 🎈.

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  21. Nice post. I remember going to an A.A. meeting for the first time to support a coworker who was having an 8 year sobriety anniversary. (I sadly later watched her spiral down into a deep relapse a few years later😿) I regret that my response was not nearly as thoughtful as yours.

    Of course, everything is about the balance between courage, acceptance and ultimately wisdom. Happy New Year 🎆

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  22. Rachel, I enjoyed this post. I enjoyed how the active writing engaged me. The material helped as I related to it, but I loved how you wrote it as well. Good work. I get what you are saying about the serenity prayer. I’ve had many subtle messages over the past few years about beginning a gratitude journal and finding that which to be thankful for. I finally started one right after I lost my job. I still get frustrated when I get no response to resumes sent out and no calls for interviews, but it’s the holidays. Alas, I’ve still decided to find something to be grateful about. I was kicking around the idea of incorporating the serenity prayer into some of my gratefulness routine when I read this. I too struggle with what I can and can’t change. I try to remember if I’m using the word should, it’s probably not mine to change. Also, if I need superpowers beyond understanding (which is the real superpower), then I probably cannot change that…but go ahead, ask me what I think about work policies that could be changed, if they only had a heart. I still want them to change…but I’m going to move on today and be grateful for time with friends, for connections that matter and send out a big hug to you and anyone else who needs it. If you’re not a hugger, put your hand up for a high five or a fist bump.

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  23. Congratulations on publishing it!!! I added it to my amazon cart and will buy the next time I am able to shop! Can’t wait to read it.

    that zoom pic … IS THE BEST PHOTO EVER. You should submit that to a newspaper or something. I’ts awesome!

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  24. oh also – we have the exact same duckie!!!! my 7 year old does, not the dog. And his got torn too, but Grammy was able to repair him. He has an unfortunate scar on his face but we love him even more because of it! He sits at the head of Alex’s bed!

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  25. It’s hard to learn to feel safe. Or that we CAN. I feel your pain on this one. Keep walking. It will come. A little at a time I suspect. You may not even notice it happening. But it will come. I”m so proud to know someone as courageous as you are being to change your reality. I think you do know what and when and you do great at it. You are an inspiration to so many of us reading your blog.

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  26. I wish we could fix everything–some of us find joy in helping make things better for others. The Serenity Prayer incorporates a request for guidance; we ask for the WISDOM to know the difference between what we can and can’t change, and sometimes we have to wait it out while that knowledge comes–typically, in God’s time and not ours. Be blessed.

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  27. Pingback: The Serenity Prayer — rachelmankowitz – SEO

  28. I was so happy to see that you wrote a novel. I raced right over and bought it. You truly are a wonderful author. I feel like I was right there with Isabel listening and witnessing her struggles. Bless her heart, she suffered so much. I rooted for her and cheered her on.
    I hope you’ll continue to write and publish more books.
    I look forward to another year of visiting your blog, reading your thoughts on life and sharing in the antics of your precious puppy-dogs.
    Happy New Year!

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  29. I relate to what you’ve said. I memorized the serenity prayer because it gives me a starting point but I do get hung up on where my responsibility begins and ends. I need to remember that I am not responsible for every possible twist of fate!

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  30. Happy New Year! I love the serenity prayer and recite it often in my head. I have to remember that I can’t fix everything and I have to accept the times I can’t and move on. Love the picture of your puppy flying through the snow! Wishing you all the best in the new year!

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  31. Happy NY Rachel. Being happy that’s so important isn’t it.

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  32. By letting go of the stuff you can’t change you give yourself more energy and patience to change the things you can change. So letting go isn’t a weakness, it is a strength.

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  33. Hi Rachel, Thanks for your “like”. Nice to meet you! As a compassionate control freak in my 7th (!!) decade, I have decided to work the most on the first part — the serenity. It may seem a little late to start meditating at this age, but it’s making a significant difference in my practical atheist world.
    Great photos! My “bad doggie” story is the foster dog who had separation anxiety I didn’t know about — she destroyed the mud room, including managing to splatter a chewed up bottle of Maalox around and scatter a box of 64 crayons. Found rainbow poop in the yard for some time after!

    Reply

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