Red Zone

The Red Zone of Overwhelm

Image: Tachometer with “red zone” on fire. (visualgeneration/shutterstock.)

Some of us are well into the red zone of Overwhelm. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

I’m still digesting the message of Pittsburgh, which is that anti-Semitism is back in a big way in the USA.  My Facebook feed and email are running over with evidence of that: destructive acts and cruel taunts and nasty stuff galore. I am sick of swastikas.

My nose and eyes are still recovering from the Butte County Fire – both are still running like faucets. I peer uneasily at the golden hills not far from my house and check to make sure that I’ve opted in for ALL the fire warning services in the area. It has begun to rain – that’s good! – but now we have to watch for mudslides.

The news is beyond horrible. We’ve gone from putting innocent babies in cages to tear gassing them. The second biggest Federal “holding facility” (read: prison)  in the United States as of this week is a center in Tornillo, TX, where over 2300 teens are held without due process.

I twisted (sprained?) my knee on Thanksgiving and it is taking its sweet time healing. There is nothing to do but be patient and RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Everything hurts.

A number of people in my support networks are hurting, too. We try to take care of each other, but it is hard when everyone is running on fumes.

So this morning I put my nose to the grindstone to do what needed to be done so that Shabbat could be a shelter of peace. My to-do list isn’t empty, but it’s a lot better than it was.

For the next 24 hours I will take the opportunity to say the ancient words, to ground myself in the tradition, to count my many blessings. I will rest the knee. I will recall that I have family and friends and students and work that I love. I will give a little tzedakah before the sun sets, and I will remember thereby that it all could be worse.

If there’s someone you love, hug them. If there’s something good in your life, cherish it.  Remember that none of us are much good to anyone when we are physically, emotionally, or spiritually depleted.

Let’s take care of ourselves and be as kind as we can be. Ok?

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

3 thoughts on “The Red Zone of Overwhelm”

  1. Shabbat Shalom. Thru your writings, you have helped me find peace. I wish the same to you. May you be refreshed.

  2. Wishing you a healing Shabbat and a bright and light-filled Hanukkah. Thank you for the reminder that Shabbat is a wonderful opportunity to care for ourselves in a way we’re often not able to do during much of the rest of the week.

  3. Oh, wow, Rabbi Ruth. Full plate of anguish. You didn’t ask for advice, so feel free to ignore or delete the following, which I offer with a caring heart:

    Your 2 physical miseries pop out at me.

    Nose/eyes afloat are signaling your acute need for clean air, right? If you have access to an oxygen tank, now might be a good time to tap in.

    Limited mobility with knee: I’m sure you keep your extremities moving, even @ rest, to keep your blood flowing smoothly & without clots. It’s a challenge!

    If your JCC has a Jacuzzi, your doc might recommend it when you’re able.

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