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Tu B'Shevat - Challenge, Effort & Growth - The Message of the Trees - From an Astronaut!

I have a confession to make. I’m terrible with time. I’m often late or remembering things at the last minute. That’s why, when I woke up this morning, I felt terrible. You see, I thought I had missed Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees. It’s one of my favorite days to send you a message, a meditation, and some of my special Artnotes. I love trees. I spent more than 20 years living in the redwood forests of Northern California, walking in the woods and fields every day, talking to G-d. So, I was especially delighted to learn that I had not missed it, and I get to send you this letter on time. Hurray!

Here's a beautiful and timely message for Tu B'shevat, the New Year of the Trees -- all the way from the International Space Station! Astronaut Scott Kelly, in his Year In Space blog, showed a picture of the first flower grown in space. He wrote, “When there is no ‘up’, which way does a flower grow? Through challenge and continuous effort comes growth.”

Isn’t that profound? The holy Baal Shem Tov taught us that we can learn important spiritual truth from everyone and everything in our daily lives, so what can we learn from Astronaut Kelly's insight? When there is no “up,” no solid values upon which to base our decisions and actions, the world becomes so confused, violent, and self-destructive. But, when we have the solid foundation of Torah to guide us, we can blossom and thrive – even in strange environments.

As Astronaut Kelly points out, our work in this world, our growth, is based on challenge and effort. Hashem created a beautiful garden here – and then locked us out of it! “Go plow the rocky fields of this world,” G-d commanded us, “Unearth the Holy Sparks that are hidden for you to discover in your challenges and make this world into a garden of Light!”
So, here are some good questions to ask on this special holiday that celebrates the growth of fruit trees.

Am I growing? Where do I need to grow more?
Am I tending to my orchard? What IS my orchard?
What are the special things that only I can do in my own little orchard?
How can I reach, like the branches of a tree, beyond anything I’ve achieved up to now?

When we do this introspective work, it’s like the sap rising in the tree. We can’t see the results, yet, but the energy is intensifying, preparing us to bloom.

Today is Tu B'Shevat, the New Year of the Trees. The sap is rising for growth today. Our blossoms of faith are bursting forth. May it be a sweet and fruitful year for you. Celebrate today with grapes, dates, pomegranates, figs, and olives, the fruits of Israel. Thank G-d for the goodness and life in the earth. Enjoy your Tu B'Shevat meditation for today. Go for a walk and hug a tree (even science says it’s good for you). Enjoy!

How would you like to blossom and grow? I'd really like to know, so please comment below and share your thoughts with me. Here’s my Tu B’Shevat blessing for you:
May the seeds of our heart, watered with our tears, and nurtured with our faith, blossom in our prayers, take root in Heaven and bear fruit on earth. 
Holy Sparks Book News
​The Joyfully Jewish Coloring Book
​Is Now Live on Amazon!
Coloring is all the rage right now - and no wonder! Coloring for grown-ups has proven to be relaxing and meditative, a great way to relieve stress and let your mind wander in pleasant creative pathways.

But, you want your coloring to be kosher, right? I've been going through my Artnotes and selecting some of my best doodles and meditative quotes to inspire you to come closer to ​G-d through coloring. 
Order Joyfully Jewish here:
The Secret Art of Talking to G-d

Amazon is currently discounting my book at a $1.00 off, so if you've been wanting to buy the book or give it as a gift, now is a good time. I'm not sure how long this special will last. It could go away any minute.
Order the Book here:

My Blessing To You,  -

May you blossom in your spiritual growth and bloom in good health, flow with abundant livelihood, and stay grounded in Torah and joy - and especially merit to experience the revelation of Moshiach today!

May you be blessed with success and only good things!

Rae Shagalov
Author, Master Calligrapher & Founder of Holy Sparks
Ignite Your Spark! 
Energize & Elevate Your Jewish Connection.
Visit Holy Sparks today! www,

P.S. Here's the link again for the Joyfully Jewish Family & Adult coloring book:

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