Counting the Omer with Locally Grown: Week 3, by Naomi Less

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April 8, 2013 by mcknz

Naomi Less raises questions about living day to day with yourself – how you can continuously work towards being a better human being to those around you, and equally important, to yourself.  Activist, musician, feminist and educator by trade, Naomi shares some practical questions for living this week as we continue to Count the Omer.
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Sunday night: Day 13 of Counting the Omer: Foundational Support in Discipline – Yesod in Gevurah
I’m struck by self-help books, inspirational workshops, and other ways of kickstarting someone’s self-improvement.  But one of the challenges I always find with activities such as these is that they’re difficult to sustain.  Even this process of counting the Omer – it’s something I’ve actually never completed to date.  So what will help me follow through?  I think each of us has to answer the question of what kind of foundational support will we need to follow through with the discipline we want to undertake?  This is part of our responsibilities to ourselves.  Not just the high moment of learning something new at a retreat or workshop but how do we build a practice by developing some support to help carry us through.

Monday night: Day 14 of Counting the Omer: Self-Reign in Discipline – Malchut in Gevurah
On this auspicious day, we have sovereignty paired with strength or discipline.  I like to think about this in terms of self-reign and discipline.  On the one hand, we as western, Jewish folk, have never lived with such freedom and self-determination – with so many ways of expressing our identities.  To me, this day’s spiritual path is all about exploring the balance of total free-reign with the need for some kind of consistency and practice.  How many communities can one belong to without feeling totally un-rooted.  On the other hand, if only in one community, how much are you able to express the full extent of yourself and your multiple identities. And if we are unhappy with something in one of those communities, we do have the freedom of just leaving as there are so many options…but should we?  


Tiferet is a tricky concept to uncover.  As this week starts, we look at beauty, light and how we adorn ourselves spiritually and physically.

Tuesday night: Day 15 of Counting the Omer: Loving Kindness in How We Adorn Ourselves – Chesed in Tiferet
I have tried to start this post three times, but each one became a rant.  You see, when we think about how we adorn ourselves, is it with love? I speak particularly about the real challenges the fashion, beauty and advertising industries place upon us.  I think back to “Hernando’s Hideaway” – it’s better to look good than to feel good – and I wonder, how much of what we wear on our skin, in our holes, on our bodies, in our hair, is a reflection of self-love.  I don’t think I can say more – other than to encourage a self-experiment – consider adorning yourself as an act of self-love and then see what actually ends up going on your body.

Wednesday night: Day 16 of Counting the Omer: Strength in Radiance – Gevurah in Tiferet
I’ve determined to translate Gevurah in this counting as Strength, though typically I look at it as discipline.  The reason being – I am interested in looking at what fuels our radiance?  You know that person in your life, that when you see them, they seem to be glowing, radiant, alive.  And it’s a pretty typical thing for them.  I have a few friends like that – no matter what’s going on in their life, they seem to be fueled by an inner radiance that allows them to be positively present in the world.  I have my moments, for sure, but it’s not necessarily my natural state.  For some of us, it takes some inner strength and discipline, or rather, perhaps a consistent practice to be present and radiate your light outwards. I think it’s possible for all of us, just for some of us, it actually takes some work, some discipline, some extra attention. 

Thursday night: Day 17 of Counting the Omer – Beauty All Around – Tiferet in Tiferet
I recently facilitated a workshop of 9 girls aged 12-17 – after they watched the film “Bully”.  As I worked with them, to unpack differences between conflict and bullying, we started to get to the root of why we think some people bully others.  Almost unanimously, they said, in various ways, the bully is really insecure, is not happy with themselves, perhaps has issues with self-esteem.  Now, hearing an adult say this, I would have the reaction, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that one before, but hearing the girls really understand that there are underlying reasons why people are mean really woke me up to how astute they are.  We listened to “Beautiful” sung by Christina Aguilera – and they loved the song.  Why, I asked one of the girls?  Because, that’s what we all want to believe.  Beautiful – inside and out – words won’t bring me down. 

I want to give you a challenge – for the next 24-48 hours, whenever you see a woman you know, change the first thing you say to her from “you look great” to commenting on something that relates to her inner beauty.  Examples: ‘You seem really happy!’ ‘I’m so happy to be with you.’ ‘I love to see you smile.’  ‘I missed you. How are you?’  Don’t let the first thing someone hears from you be focused on outer beauty, let the inner shine through.

Fri night: Day 18 of Counting the Omer – Enduring Beauty – Netzach in Tiferet
If I see one more wrinkle cream commercial on TV I may scream.  Or one more completely botoxed face.  Beauty lasts – but not in the commercial way we think about it. 

This post is short and simple – figure out what is beautiful about you as a person – and grow that part of you – let it radiate through – let it be your legacy.

treating myself as a precious object will make me strong

treating myself as a precious object will make me strong

Sat night: Day 19 of Counting the Omer – Majestic Light – Hod in Tiferet
Hod is another concept I have trouble wrapping my brain around – majesty, submission, splendor.  This is where I leave off my Omer Counting with the blog (though I still count on my FB page:  I guess for me the end thought I want to leave you all with is a celebratory one – celebrate yourself! You only have one you – and you are the king or queen of you – you are your own royalty – Julia Cameron, I believe, said, “Treat yourself as a precious object” – and I believe this is how we can all radiate out even more to share light with the world.  When we take care of ourselves, both in terms of health but also in the internal messages we give ourselves (being your own best friend and coach) we can’t help but be kind and supportive and shining to others. 

I have that sign up on my bathroom mirror, I swear I do: “Treat yourself as a precious object.”  What would be the thing you would need to remind yourself of each day that would ultimately enable you to share your majestic light with the world?


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