Surviving Miserable Afternoons in Rhode Island by Sara G.

Surviving Miserable Afternoons in Rhode Island by Sara G.

Here’s another wonderful response I just received to my post Improving My Miserable Afternoons from one of my most long-time readers, Sara G. from Providence.

Sara writes:

When I was about to give birth to my 4th child, Penina (I have 5 children now, BH), I made little chizuk cards on stock paper to encourage myself through the birth.

I wrote the words in dark black permanent marker because I wanted the messages to really go into my brain, despite the labor pains coming on stronger and stronger.

I planned that during labor, I would flip through the cards and find one that spoke to me. “Ain od milvado” [there is nothing besides Him] spoke to me the most back then. It reminded me that there is only Hashem and nothing else in the world has any power. Whatever was happening was all about Him and me.

However, right before the actual birth, when nothing else was working, I suddenly stopped on the card: “Hashem is kinder than the kindest person in the world” and that one made me cry and cry.

This baby came after many miscarriages and when I saw that card, it reminded me where I was, about to meet my live, healthy child after so many tefillos and pain and I couldn’t stop crying.

Sara with her four older children.

Sara with her four older children.

After Penina was born, I don’t know how it happened, but I started using those cards to help me just cope with day-to-day motherhood. I started picking out one for each week.

I find that if I have a motto in my head for too long, it starts losing its power. It needs to be something new and exciting. So every week I pick out a new card and display it on my dresser where I will see it.

sara ain od milvado

One of my children has really connected with these mottos too, since they help her cope with anxiety, so I started also writing the weekly motto on a new whiteboard which we bought for our kitchen. Every week I write it for the family to see, so they can internalize it too.

I’ve been reading “Serenity” by Rabbi Pliskin. He writes how our minds can be trained to stop thinking negatively and switch our thoughts to thinking positively. The more we do it, the more our minds can make that switch.

I think by doing this motto thing for so long, I have trained my mind that the moment something negative comes into it, I switch to something positive.

sara signs

If we stop and listen to ourselves, we will hear how much negative we tell ourselves all the time. “I am stressed out!” or “I am so tired!”

I’ve been learning to switch my negativity off and accept more.

How do I come up with my personal stash of mottos?

When I hear something that really speaks to me and brings me comfort, I write it down with a black permanent marker on a small piece of card stock. These are my personal chizuk cards.

Here’s an example: I have a friend who sends “Good Night” text messages to all of her phone contacts. One night my baby woke up and he was sick and couldn’t breathe well. That was really scary. Right when he woke up, my friend’s text came in. It said, “Good night. Hashem runs the world. Let Him.” And that thought is what saved my mind that night.

Through calling the nurse line and trying to nurse my son and putting him in the hot steamy bathroom with the shower running, I kept that line in my head. “Hashem runs the world, let Him.” It was so freeing. I was able to talk to Hashem and relax, without freaking out. That line became one of my cards.

Here are a few others:

*Hashem KNOWS me. (i.e. He knows exactly what I’m going through and what I know or like or hate and He is putting me through this moment right now. He KNOWS me. and It’s okay because this is from Him and He’s helping me through it).

*MAKE it a good one. (as in – I don’t want to be washing dishes now, but “MAKE it a good dish-washing!” I have to do it anyway so I will do something to make it good, like call a friend or turn on my favorite speaker.)

*I may be tired/stressed/overwhelmed but this is exactly where I want to be (i.e., with my family, with this amount of children, in this life…)

* Hashem loves me.

sara smile

Sara would be happy to volunteer as a mentor for other JewishMOMs in creating their own inspiring mottos. You can contact her through


  1. Wish Sara could have been my mentor when my kids were little! However, since we say it’s never too late change, hopefully I can incorporate this system into my life now.. Go, Sara!

  2. Wow. This idea of chizuk cards is amazing. I am going to make my own. I SO needed this idea today! THANK YOU!

  3. I have done this in the past with cards that I got from Miriam Adahan, which are wonderful. But I love the idea of making your own. And of rotating them every week to keep the ideas fresh. How wonderful! Beezrat Hashem, I hope to incorporate this into my family too… Thank you 🙂

  4. Great!thank you chana jennyfor posting these two beautiful and helpful articles on afternoons!

  5. Thank you for sharing this and mazel tov Sara on the birth of your 5th child BH! So happy for you!

  6. We miss you here in Seattle! 🙂

  7. Thank-you for this wonderful idea 🙂

  8. What a great idea! I think most of the time We are rushing and dont have enough time to think and calm down and the yetzer hará takes advantage!!

    I Will try tus cards….i am sure all the family Will be benefit from it.

    Shabat shalom 😘

  9. Love this – wonderful idea

  10. There is evidence now that the brain can actually rewire itself. So the idea of changing negative thoughts into positive ones could have an actual basis phyisically. For anyone interested, there are 2 great books,”The brain that changes Itself”,abd “The Brains way of healing” both written by Notman Doidge MD. Very fascinating and inspiring, since it also presents personal stories of people overcoming many physical obstacles.

    • I read some of these books, and thought they were amazing chizuk!! we are not stuck, we can actually change!

  11. This is such a great idea! “Bite-sized” portions that lift the heart during even the most difficult times. The KEY to success . . . Joshua 1:8 – KEEP “this Book of the Law” . . . “always on your lips” – “meditate on it day and night” . . . “Do everything written in it” . . . “Then you will be PROSPEROUS and SUCCESSFUL”!

  12. Right, I find that my brain is on overload so much that it’s too much to think about what positive thought to switch to. So as you said “bite-sized” thoughts. Works well for really busy lives. Just think of this one thing and it’ll help you relax!

  13. Love! Thank you so much.
    Everything you wrote resonates so much. I hope to replace automatic negative thoughts with positive ones.

  14. I was glad someone mentioned Miraim Adahan. Her books, and the EMETT process has helped me through some of the toughest times. The trick is remembering to use our tools. Thanks for sharing and bringing it back to the ‘front burner’ for me.

  15. Thanks so much Sara for the idea! I’m going to try it. BTW, miss you here in Seattle!!

  16. Rabbi Pliskin’s books are the BEST

  17. This is a wonderful idea! We have a white board we keep in our dining room and when our home renovation is done, I’m going to start write a motto for our week on it. Thank you!

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