Beginner’s Guide to Spirituality

By: Ali Benz

You don’t need to take Peyote with your favorite Shaman to be spiritual. Why does it seem like everyone’s doctor suddenly has them “micro-dosing”? Party drugs, but make it medical. My therapist was just telling me about how amazing her ketamine retreat was and I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe she and my roommate were both on ketamine retreats the same weekend, except one was at EDC Orlando and the other was in the Catskills. For legal reasons, this is a joke. The point is, you don’t need drugs or a near-death experience to have a spiritual awakening. It can be as simple as looking inside yourself, meditating, or just being in nature. I know I sound like some hippie, but I’m telling you, it’s life-changing.

We need to stop looking for connections on the surface level. If I see one more guy on Hinge saying the biggest risk they’ve taken is moving to Florida from NYC, I’m calling the cops. Wow, you’re so brave, Jonathan. Don’t tell me you love going to the gym and crypto, too. It’s fine if that’s what you’re into, I just want something more meaningful. It’s easy to ignore the red flags like if a guy tells you he’s “developing an app.” Don’t be shy, just say you’re unemployed. We have enough apps. Like Tik Tok, where you might find yourself dancing—which can actually be a very spiritual practice. Dancing and movement are major expressions of connection—unless you’re my little cousin.  I saw him doing a cringe dance on Tik Tok and had to throw him a “like” for charity. He’ll be in prison or viral soon but that’s for God to decide.

If you don’t think you’re spiritual, think about how you pray to Santa every year (at least that’s how I think it works – I’m still Jewish). Mr. Claus is your higher power, and your wish list is a vision board. Without even realizing, you pretty much manifest what you want via Big Nick and the universe. If you’re naughty, it’s likely your chakras are not aligned—or you’re a Scorpio. Good luck with your coal, moonchild.

No matter your religion, the holidays are a great time to practice spirituality. For example, I’ve been praying that my mom would get me a new car for Hanukkah, but all I got was a mug. I guess all she had this year was the audacity. Tragic.

Still, with so much chaos in the world, sometimes our only hope is to have some faith. I miss that phase one era of COVID where everyone’s coping skills were reduced to watching Tiger King and buying toilet paper. My dog is now uncomfortably codependent on me (and me on her) but we’re working through it. It was this time last year that no one was sure (and everyone was hoping) that they wouldn’t see their families for the holidays. I could only buy gifts because I was ballin’ off the unemployment checks and living rent-free at my dad’s house. Now everyone has bills and stuff, but luckily, I’m not materialistic. All I really want for Hanukkah is some serotonin. That only counts for one night, though. The other seven better be designer.

Also, this year Grandma better not try to pull a fast one on me by giving me a card with no cash in it—might as well save the tree. I haven’t been that disappointed since my Bumble date showed up in those flip-flops with the built-in bottle opener. Take your Reefs elsewhere, buddy, I’m not falling for it. My third eye will protect me from men in sandals. Can’t Santa just send me a financially stable man who’s spiritual and has abs and wears close-toed shoes? Is that too much to ask? I will continue to man-ifest. Pun intended.

Taylor Swift is Kind of a Big Deal

By: Ali Benz

There is no tougher security in the world than the ladies of the JCC front desk. I have literally snuck into clubs by telling bouncers I was already inside, but these women at the J are relentless. I could’ve known some of them since birth and they still wouldn’t let me in without ID. I’d have a better chance sneaking a guy into 1Oak by saying he’s my gay cousin.

Men are so quick to shame women of power because they’re intimidated. They troll them for being unladylike when they are fierce, brilliant, and courageous. No matter the position, women need to continue to stand their ground and fight, not letting misogynistic labels fear us into weakness. That’s why Irene at the Jewish Community Center is my hero, no matter how many times she kicks me out. Apparently, you need an actual membership, not proof of Bat-Mitzvah.

Whether you’re a female CEO, athlete, drug-dealer, whatever; you deserve equal rights. Growing up in a family of therapists was a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because I was able to learn empathy. My siblings and I were encouraged to pursue our dreams, regardless of gender barriers—though I do wish someone stopped me from wearing basketball jerseys in every school picture. It was a curse because I was constantly being analyzed. If I was crying, my mom would always hit me with the “what’s this really about” line. I’d think I was crying because I fell off my pogo-stick again, but she’d help me realize I was acting out because I carry the burden of my great-grandfather who suffered through The Depression or something. I love therapy.

I am blessed to have my mom as a role model. She went back to school to get her psychology degree while we were growing up. In a time and place where she was expected to be a stay-at-home mom, my mother decided to get her Masters and begin a fulfilling career (not that raising me wasn’t fulfilling enough). It’s amazing to see more and more women become entrepreneurs and embody positions of power. However, we still need a steady number of housewives so that we don’t lose Bravo.

Seeing the way my mom runs her business and has evolved into a highly-respected psychologist has been incredible—especially because I have the best therapists in the city at my fingertips. I only wish she’d gone into a slightly less holistic field. I can’t tell you how many rocks and shells I’ve received as gifts that have a “spiritual meaning.” I appreciate the effort Cheryl, but I’d rather have a scarf, not this stone from your Healing Garden.

Regardless of current political outcomes, women cannot back down and need to be heard. Don’t let insecure, frat boys scare you from sharing your truth. Who knew Taylor Swift was capable of more than making us cringe at award shows? Ever since T-Swizzle got candid about her opposition to sexist candidates, voting registration rose by 65,000—ironically the same value of assets Bart O’Kavanaugh claims to have. Taylor Swift, a female, has a net worth of $280 million. Just saying.

Unfortunately, Trump is now only 75% a Swiftie, so I doubt he’ll be attending her Reputation Tour. Maybe he can use that time to hit happy hour with the Pope. They can discuss how much they love rape but hate abortion. Always nice to find common ground with a new friend. Tragic.