Coming Up On My 1 Year Lithuania Anniversary: My Own Personal Shehecheyanu
Updated: Mar 3
Can you believe it's been almost ONE YEAR since The Scientist and I moved to Lithuania? We've been doing a whole lot of reflecting on what that means for us, how we feel as newcomers, how we've felt leaving America, and trying to take its best aspects with us.
So where are we at, just about clocking in for the one year mark? Well, fortunately and unfortunately for our families, we do actually really love it here - in Europe and Lithuania. We like it so much that there would have to be a really good reason (ie. emergency) to move back, at this point. Of course, much like the cycles of the seasons, I do feel like I'm making my way through the four stages of culture shock I wrote about - and if I'm not in the Acceptance stage, I'm damn near close. In my previous blog post, I wrote this about the Acceptance stage:
This may look like a feeling of home or belonging, rather than an outsider looking into a new culture. The word that comes to mind here is integration. However, if you're currently in this stage, I'd recommend keeping a flexible mind, because my internal nudge says that things may not automatically ease up for you. You are still a human being going through a huge transition, and the other side may look completely different from what you expected. Be open to the changes that await you on the other side.
You know what, Past Me? You're pretty wise. I may be almost a year in, but this is still very much a tender transition and time of newness for me. And you know what that calls for?
A Shehecheyanu, only my favorite blessing. Check it out (with the Hebrew in a photo below!):
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam
shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu la’zman hazeh
Blessed are You, Majestic Spirit of the Universe, who gives me life,
sustains the rhythms of my body and brings me to this moment of renewal.
It's my favorite Hebrew prayer for not only moments of renewal, but also a really sneaky way to come back to the present moment. Have your first Seder in Lithuania? Shehecheyanu. Visit your first country after moving abroad? Shehecheyanu. First signs of Spring popping up in the forest near your home? Temperature miraculously reached above 80 degrees? Beginning of a new week? Meeting a huge new oak tree friend in Anykščiai? Visiting Panevėžys for the first time after learning you have Lithuanian ancestors? Yep, you guessed it: All Shehecheyanu.
Honestly, I'll come up with any reason to say this prayer. Days before getting married, a Jewish bride typically visits a mikveh (healing waters) for a powerful ritual to get spiritually aligned and present for the days ahead. So, being the spirit I am, y'all know I did this my way - or rather, the way that brings my heart the most meaning. Instead of stepping into a bathhouse provided by a synagogue (no, thanks!), I jumped into Barton Springs, a wonderfully chilly natural spring water in Austin, for my own spiritual purification and intention setting. Any guesses as to what prayer I said right before jumping in?
Shehecheyanu. And now that we've been here for almost year, I have another shehecheyanu coming my way, and I ain't even mad. In fact, I'm incredibly proud - proud that we did all the work to make this move (which both was and wasn't easy, thanks to spreadsheets). I'm proud of the fact that I moved into a freelancing career and have the opportunity to write for a living, plus getting to share myself with all of you.
I'm proud that we've made it through this rainy Spring and Summer, much less the Winter everyone so kindly warned us about. I'm proud that I still have the bandwidth to create weekly meal plans, make new friends, cultivate new relationships, visit a different part of Lithuania almost every week, harvest new herbs, experience new festivals, maintain connection with my friends in the US as best I can, share my life with my family from far away. Seeing all of these things written out help me see that I'm much closer to the Acceptance Stage than I even thought - with obvious fluctuation. And I really do think there's something to the fact that The Scientist and I chose to move to a new country on our anniversary - what better day to make such a huge move?
Wait, does this mean I get to do a DOUBLE Shehecheyanu? This is too much for my little spiritual Jewish heart to take.
So much beauty here.
I'm sure I'll have more to say next week as we get closer, but I do want to thank you all for being along for this ride with me. You've seen that it hasn't all been rainbows, that I've had my struggles, that moving to a new country is HARD. Answering the call of adventure can be hard. But we're all doing this together, right?
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Or as we like to say here in Lithuania, ačiū! And I suppose, happy early Lithuania-versary to me! Vilnius-aversary? (Either way, that's a mouthful.)
Until next time, viso gero! Please find ways to treat each other with kindness - we could all use some of that.