Starting Nov. 20, Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman of Chabad Richmond will be leading Worrier to Warrior, a new six-session course offered by the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI), to help people deal with life’s challenges by accepting themselves and finding meaning in adversity.
Participants will examine factors that prevent us from achieving a more positive outlook – guilt, shame and fear of inauthenticity – in light of the notion that a purposeful life provides the key to well-being. Like all JLI programs, this course is designed for people at all levels of knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. All JLI courses are open to the public.
“Everyone faces personal challenges in life, whether physical, emotional, professional, familial, social or otherwise,” said Baitelman. “How we deal with these issues is crucial for our ability to achieve lasting satisfaction in life. By finding meaning in personal challenges – that is, seeing them as opportunities – we come to accept ourselves and are emboldened to move forward.”
Worrier to Warrior combines positive psychology with Jewish wisdom to explore questions such as, Is there a meaning to life that makes even our difficulties purposeful? Am I just what happens to me or do I have a deeper core? How can I get off the “hedonism treadmill” and the sense that even life’s successes ring hollow?
“All too often people are thrown off their path in life by hardships that sink them into negative emotions or anxiety,” explained Rabbi Naftali Silberberg of JLI’s Brooklyn headquarters. “In this course, we learn to face our challenges by understanding our lives in a deeper context.”
Prof. Steven M. Southwick, MD, of the department of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine has endorsed this course, saying, “It is well known that positive emotions rest at the heart of overall well-being and happiness, but how to effectively enhance positive emotion remains challenging. Worrier to Warrior approaches this challenge from an insightful perspective grounded in contemporary psychology and Jewish literature.” Worrier to Warrior is accredited in British Columbia for mental health professionals seeking to fulfil their continuing education requirements.
The course starts Wednesday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m., at Chabad Richmond. To register and for more information, call 604-277-6427. The cost is $95/person or $160/couple and includes textbook. Classes are 1.5 hours long.
Worrier to Warrior course is also being offered at the Lubavitch Centre (604-266-1313) in Vancouver, beginning Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m., and at Chabad of Nanaimo (250-797-7877), starting Nov. 12, 7 p.m.
Registration for all of these courses is possible at myjli.com.
Sam Laliberte and Jared Schachter share what they’ve learned about long-distance relationships in The #LDR Activity Book. (photo by Ricky Pang / Sincerely Image)
The first quote in The #LDR Activity Book is from American writer Meghan Daum: “Distance is not for the fearful, it’s for the bold…. It’s for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don’t see it enough.”
Sam Laliberte and Jared Schachter, co-writers of the activity book for people in, or contemplating, a long-distance relationship (LDR) knew a good thing when they saw it, and didn’t let Schachter’s move from Toronto to San Francisco get in the way.
“For two years,” they write in The #LDR, “we were long-distance loves, capturing our visits on Instagram and maxing out our data plans during weekly video calls. We picked up many lessons (most learned the hard way) and fun activities to keep our relationship strong AF despite living three time zones apart. It definitely took work, epic relationships don’t just happen, but we made it through and now we want to share our learnings with the world.”
In an email interview with the Independent, Laliberte and Schachter said they “always wanted the book to be interactive and fun for couples, since long, text-heavy books can be daunting and would be less conducive to creating positive interactions between couples.”
The #LDR Activity Book has eight chapters covering topics at the core of any relationship, even with yourself: understanding your personality, how you like to give and receive love, your values, what triggers you, envisioning the future, and more. Each chapter begins with an explanation of why the topic – expressing love, communication, IRL (in real life) visits, keeping the spark alive, values, trust, conflict resolution and planning – matters, followed by some “best practices”: assuming good intent, for example, giving “your partner the benefit of the doubt and operat[ing] under the impression that they’re trying their best.” Laliberte and Schachter then share a few tips of what worked best for them and, of course, there are several activities, some of which you complete on your own; others, with your partner.
Laliberte and Schachter wrote this book with Schachter’s mother, Beverley Kort, who is a registered psychologist in Vancouver, with more than 40 years’ experience counseling couples. They also interviewed dozens of other couples “who survived and thrived as long-distance lovers.”
“On top of all this,” they told the Independent, “we were also honest about the fact that our long-distance relationship didn’t work out. We too were scared of the associated stigma and didn’t have any resource to turn to, to help alleviate some of our concerns. The ability to create something for other couples [in a long-distance relationship] was really exciting for us.”
Laliberte and Schachter are still together, though, just closer geographically.
“We’ve been in a relationship for almost three years now,” they said. “We spent one-and-a-half years in a full long-distance relationship (Toronto-San Francisco) and, now, because we have flexible jobs, we spend a majority, but definitely not all, of our time together. We were separated for two months at the end of 2018 but are now on an extended travel together in South America for four months.”
Feedback about the book – which Laliberte and Schachter encourage readers to share – has been very positive, they said, giving a couple of examples. Thessa (New York) and Anthony (Dublin) wrote about The #LDR, “Absolutely love it. The quality is great, the art and quotes in the book are gorgeous, and information in the book is spot on.” Sara (Los Angeles) and Charles (Toronto) emailed, “#LDR was a fun way to build our relationship after knowing each other for only a week! We met at a music festival and spent the next year living on different coasts and time zones, and used this book to provide a framework for exploring our new relationship.”
A longtime long-distance couple with whom the JI shared the book completed several sections, some that reinforced what they were already doing – daily rituals (regular texts and phone calls) and planning out IRL visits, for example – and some that either introduced new ideas or suggested activities they wanted to do more often, such as creating a joint vision board and talking about important moments during texts and calls, respectively.
To fund the publication of The #LDR Activity Book, Laliberte and Schachter ran a Kickstarter campaign. Seeking $6,000, they received contributions of more than $10,000 from almost 200 backers, with their initial funding goal being covered in less than 24 hours. The result is a smart-looking, durable, 63-page, full-colour, hardcover (with metal corners), spiral-bound “scrapbook.” More importantly, it is a book full of good advice and beneficial activities and exercises, if you (and your partner) are willing to be open and put in the time. And the learning continues online.
“We’ve also now partnered with a sexologist to create a bonus chapter on ‘Sex from a Distance,’ after a number of readers began asking more detailed questions about this area,” Laliberte and Schachter told the Independent. “It is available for free download if you signup for our email newsletter on our website.”
The #LDR Activity Book is for sale on ldractivities.com for $35 per copy, or $60 for a set of two. Laliberte and Schachter have created a special discount code for Jewish Independent readers: use JINDEPENDENT20 to receive 20% off.
On Feb. 17, Sam Laliberte and Jared Schachter were interviewed on the podcast From Long Distance to Marriage. The episode can be found on audioboom.com.