About Carolyn Pace
Before this Schmita year, I would have told you I’m an entrepreneur fighting climate change. I started a composting company, and that’s a big part of my identity. However, right now I’m not doing that. I’m on a sabbatical year living in Africa with my husband. We’re taking time to learn French and slow down. Now I’m a painter, and a dancer. I love to partner dance and try to capture the feeling of creativity and closeness on paper.I am also becoming Jewish. I grew up in an agnostic household, with no religious practices. I’ve been together with my husband for 13 years, and his cultural rituals are the first I’ve known. I’ve been celebrating with his family for a long time and it’s the closest thing I have to a religious identity. I love feeling part of a group of people who want peace and equality across the whole world. We want to raise our children in this faith, and I want to convert to make that possible. We are so lucky to be able to take this Schmita year in our modern way, and I have time to think about my intentions around converting to Judaism.
This portrait in aquarelles is of my dear friend, Daniel Meer. He became my close friend the first week of College. I did not grow up Jewish, and he introduced me to so much about the faith. He brought me to the Chabad house while I brought him to the climbing gym. We learned from each other. He always started the niguns before Shabbat dinner was served. We were climbing buddies, and over the last 12 years he became my husband’s closest friend as well. We were going to ask him and his fiancee to be the Godparents for our first child. He died this last June, in a climbing accident. All summer, I had to compartmentalize. I couldn’t just fall to pieces in front of my customers and my team. When I set my grief aside, it was hard to believe that he actually passed away. Thankfully, my husband and I had this Schmita year planned and I’ve taken a break from my company. I actually have time to process his death, doing the very thing we loved to do together. I can let the grief wash over me, cry all day if I need to. I tried to get his joy and the twinkle in his eyes just right. He was brilliant, kind, silly, and mischievous. He always wore red and blue, together. He loved to shimmy to pop music. He motivated me to get up super early for big outdoor adventures. He would take pictures of me and my husband whenever he visited, and physically mail them to us to put on our wall. He would have loved our Schmita year. Painting this portrait let me spend time with my memories of him.