Sermon By Rabbi Jackie Pilossoph

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

Right. I’m a Rabbi. NOT! But, since today is Yom Kippur, I thought I’d write a sermon.

If you just stopped reading, I wouldn’t blame you. I don’t think I know one Jew who looks forward to the sermon part of any Jewish service. In fact, on Rosh Hashanah, I was sitting with my son, and when the Rabbi was about to begin his sermon, the guy behind us goes, “Fasten your seatbelt, here we go.”

In truth, I ended up really enjoying my Rabbi’s sermon on Rosh Hashanah. It was about “Do-overs” and he gave lots of very inspiring examples of people who got a do-over and because of that, did great things to contribute to the betterment of our world.

So, fasten your seatbelt. Here is Jackie’s sermon about Yom Kippur, what it means to me, and a few other bits of info you might appreciate.

Today is Yom Kippur. It’s the Day of Atonement for the Jewish Religion. It’s the day where you reflect on all the mistakes and things you’ve done wrong in the past, and ask God for forgiveness.

So, I’m not supposed to have my computer on, I’m not supposed to be working, but I think in this case, since I am atoning as I write this, God is probably okay with it.

Let’s talk about my mistakes. I have seriously lost count. I just said to my mom the other day, “If I could do so many things over in the past year, I would. I’ve made so many mistakes and made so many bad decisions.” My mom replied, “Doesn’t everyone feel that way?” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made lots of good decisions, and done tons of great things, too. But, for today, as I am supposed to do, I am focusing on my mistakes and my faults.

Life, professionally and personally is about learning. The only way we learn is to try things, some of which work out and some of which are mistakes. When we fail, or get a bad result, we know next time to do it differently. To try something else. To do it another way. That way might fail, too. But at some point, we will learn what works and what is right. And then we’ll make more mistakes about other things. That is life.

Here’s the difference between winners and losers in life (in my humble opinion, of course.) A winner will make a mistake. It might cost him or her a lot of money, or heartache or stress or guilt, but the winner will realize (like my rabbi said) that he or she gets a do-over. He or she will accept the mistake. He or she will forgive themselves and say, “I’m human.”  He or she will ask God to forgive them, if necessary. He or she will do everything they can to fix it. And then they will move on and not dwell on it.

A loser, on the other hand, will play the victim. They won’t fess up and say, “I screwed up.” They’ll blame others. They’ll get angry. They’ll feel sorry for themselves. And they might quit something.

I have had moments of both being a winner and loser. A few weeks ago, it seemed everything was going wrong. Book sales were slow, I was facing losing a few jobs that were the bulk of my income, and my relationship with my ex was at an all time low, making it very difficult and frustrating to co-parent.

I handled it at first by crying, feeling sorry for myself, asking God why I was dealt these cards, why at 47 I was still not where I wanted to be professionally, why no matter how hard I worked that I kept hitting walls. I was pissed off. I felt frustration beyond belief. I was angry. That lasted about 2 days. And then I turned myself into a winner.

I don’t really know how, but this is what I can tell you. I found the strength to have faith that if I kept doing all the right things, things would turn around. I figured if I gave up and stopped working, NOTHING would happen. I would inevitably stop making ANY money, and end up with nothing after years of hard work trying to build a career as a writer. BUT, if I persevered, in other words, “sucked it up,” kept going, kept taking rejection (not personally) and just plain and simple kept doing what I was doing all along, but learning from my mistakes and changing things I tried that didn’t work, things would work out.

Guess what? The job turned out fine and book sales are on the up and up.

Life as a writer is very up and down. One minute, you look at your numbers and you are beyond flattered at how many people are reading your book. The next, you get a really bad review and you think, “Maybe this girl’s right. Maybe my book sucks.” It can be cruel and people can be mean. But, I’ve learned that if you believe in yourself, and if YOU believe you have a market for something, go with your gut and never give up.

A very dear friend of mine (who happens to be a self-made multi-millionaire who is under the age of 40) once said to me, “Promise me, no matter what, that you will NEVER, EVER give up on your books. You have talent. There is a market for what you have. Promise me.” He then sent me the NY Times Bestseller list that he cut out from a Sunday paper and hand wrote  at the top, “#1 Jackpot!” by Jackie Pilossoph.” He wrote next to it, “This will be you if you keep trying.”

He is a winner. Trust me, I know some losers, too. And I feel sorry for them.

One person I never feel sorry for is myself. Last week I felt a lump and found myself in an ultrasound at a breast surgeon’s office. Talk about a reality check. I am healthy. Nothing is wrong. The fact that I have my physical health is reason to believe I can do anything. IF I accept my mistakes, ask God for forgiveness, and then move on and try to do it better, or the right way next time.

I wish all of you, Jewish and non-Jewish, a Happy, Healthy New Year. May God watch over you and inscribe you in the book of life. And may you find the strength and courage to admit your mistakes and faults, accept them, and act like a winner. Because, if you think you are a winner, you are.


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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

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