I was eating healthy - all whole grains – and walking daily. Yet the fetus I had been carrying passed away in the sixth month of pregnancy without warning, despite the fact that I had been playing by all the rules. Tragedy struck when I was doing everything right. Since then I have come to re-examine the rules that I live by - the cautious, and safe routes that I had trodden faithfully - in the fictitious belief that they would protect me from real pain. When tragedy finally came, these rules could not protect me, and it forced me to confront the real costs of playing it safe. How much had I missed out on, I wondered, as I traveled the safe route?

Tragedy struck when I was doing everything rightReal life comes with suffering, but it also comes with very possible and permissible pleasures, like ignoring the mess, and sitting right down on the dirtiest part of the floor to build mega blocks towers with my kids. Like standing on a chair to take the Purim costumes out of the closet, and using them to transform a Shabbat morning instead. Like telling my Shabbat guests to kick the toys aside as they come in, since before the meal I was saying my prayers instead of tidying up, and the kids are just going to make a mess again as soon as the meal starts.

This past Thursday, I went away with a friend, despite the shopping required for both this week's Shabbat, and a major event I was hosting the following week. Both the shopping and the cooking got done, and despite the simple food, everyone enjoyed Shabbat. The pleasure of this Shabbat didn't come from gourmet food. It came from a mother who had chosen to take a day for herself with a friend in order to be relaxed on Shabbat, and ready for major work and organization after Shabbat.

It's the pleasure that comes when you stop playing it safe. I am no longer too busy to learn Torah and attend classes. (Perhaps I never was since I always found the time to read a novel or a magazine that didn't really take me anywhere.) Since learning that I cannot avoid suffering, I have also decided not to avoid what makes life worthwhile.

I have convinced my husband that this year we really should go away as a family for a few days, despite the fact that we still can't afford it. Instead of a hotel, we are going to stay by friends up north, but we are going.

Losing this baby made me realize that the things that I am waiting for may never happen, both good things as well as bad. But in the meantime there is the gift of this day to be savored and shared with the people I love, especially these two miracles who for months now had to put up with a mother who was just too tired…. - it doesn't matter for what. Fill in the blank. Playing it safe made me tired.

There are rules, real rules, called mitzvot, which give structure and meaning to our lives. These are the rules worth keeping. But there are other rules, the ones we make up ourselves. We usually make them up during childhood in order to help us feel safe. These are the ones worth re-examining. My rules made me tired. Perhaps yours make you feel sad, or dull, or old. Perhaps they tell you that you need to have a certain amount of money in the bank in order to be prepared…

It's time to start living the life we already haveNow is the time to re-examine these old scripts and look at the ways they are holding us back. It's time to stop preparing for whatever we are hoping for or fearing from the future, and start living the life we already have.

This year I am not the mother of that hoped for third child. That's already a given. But I still have a choice. My choice is between fully living this given reality, or playing it safe and just going through the motions while I wait around.