This week was quite difficult. Probably it was simply the all-consuming exhaustion of post-Pesach coupled with going back to work, but I felt as if I was almost crossing the threshold into needing a vacation for the sake of my sanity.
Thankfully, my husband's minhag is to start the issurim of the omer on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar, i.e. tonight. Now, in general, my husband and I do not take time out to relax and enjoy ourselves. While we may often acknowledge to do so is critical for our health, and while we often make plans to spend a Sunday afternoon enjoying ourselves out and about, historically, for a multitude of reasons, our plans fall through. In brief, I do not remember the last time we took a day trip anywhere, or even just went to see a movie.
You can imagine my delight then that we actually made it to the Queens Zoo an hour and a half before it closed; we had adequate time to make it once around and for me to pet a goat at the petting zoo part before they closed the gates. I was deliriously happy, bli ayin hara. To quote my husband, I looked more relaxed than I had looked in months. Small wonder.
We learned an important lesson today, namely that Hashem wants you to take care of yourself. My husband and I both realized how critical it was to all levels of our health to get out today. And Hashem responded: just when we had given up on finding the zoo yet again (today was our third attempt in the last year to locate the zoo in the park), when my husband made a turn and lo- there were the animals. Then, another beracha: despite the throngs invading the park for Cinco de Mayo, we found street parking right around the corner. I could go on...
Going forward, I am going to try to alway remember how restorative the day was. The next time I push myself to the breaking point to clean the apartment for Shabbos (i.e. every week), I may stop and ask myself: yes, you're exhausted, but if you clean will you go over the edge? If I can answer affirmatively, then maybe I should subsequently recognize that while Hashem appreciates my cleaning in honour of Shabbos answer, that appreciation is dampened when I am placing my health in jeopardy.
To all my friends out there (you know who you are) who similarly push yourselves to the point of madness, let's remember that point, which I am dubbing the Lesson of the Zoo for future reference. If we do not do for ourselves in terms of our health, we cannot expect Hashem to do so. In other words, let's make a kayli for our health and sanity just as we do for parnassah, for shidduchim, for everything. Let's help ourselves, so that Hashem can respond in kind.
In the end, health and happiness are everything. And both start with ourselves.