I’m standing barefoot in my too hot kitchen/dining room/ living room with piles of dirty dishes, cooling down food, and the air conditioner on full blast trying to get Shabbat ready. I’ve reached the point of a typical Friday where I begin to doubt I’ll get everything done on time even though I always do. My computer is perched on the edge of my table, playing the first episode of The WOV Life. Bari, a popular Jewish Instagram blogger known as barianna, voice fills the room along with the smell of Shabbat.
“Can I do it all? Do I want to do it all? And the magic epiphany that I had that all women should come to is that you cant do it all. Not because you are not capable… a woman can achieve anything she sets her mind to- but if you try- you will crash and burn.”
Something about that stops me in my tracks, the way a simple idea that’s truly resonant does. My shoulders tense as I watch the water flow over my dirty dishes, splattering over my food-stained clothing. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in 2018 it’s that I can do it all, but I’ll be miserable trying. I turn the faucet off and sit down.
How many women do you know who are working full time [or not], taking care of their homes [or not], their families [or not], their marriage [or not], their friendships [or not] and have no time for themselves? How many women are on their way to “having it all” and are shamed for trying, shamed for not trying enough? How many times do we as women push ourselves to go to sleep “just an hour later”, skip that meal, run out to do a chore that “can’t wait until tomorrow” because we hear our families singing Eishet Chayil in our heads and wish we felt like we deserved it?
How many times am I going to feel shame in my life because there is some image in my head of what it means to be a Jewish woman? Certainly no one is expecting me to weave cloth or plant vineyards anymore but maybe what’s expected of me, of all Jewish women, is impossible?
To quote Bari herself, the concept behind this podcast is “For all intents & purposes right now she [the Woman of Valor] is dead within us, and by taking steps to love ourselves and take care of ourselves we will in turn really understand what we want in a woman of Valor and be able to create that within ourselves.” By tearing down our shame and shifting our expectations of excellence, we can begin to appreciate our unique role in this world. Self love, self discovery, self appreciation in my experience hasn’t ever played a role in “having it all”. It should. Bari’s talking with the popular personalities in our community we strive to emulate- these leaders or “influencers” aren’t perfect and are struggling with the things we struggle with. Different women and men will be coming onto her podcast each week, discussing how we should be defining being a woman of virtue.
I heard a brilliant D’var Torah once about how each line of Eishet Chayil is dedicated or inspired by a different woman in Tanach, meaning that no one ever really has been all of these things. No one can be perfectly organized, perfectly virtuous, perfectly put together. The WOV Life podcast is going to celebrate what it really means to be a Jewish woman- trying.