Monday, October 08, 2018

A "Sometimes it's Hard" Party

Today I ran away from something very hard.
I didn’t actually RUN away.
I actually took my bags and walked away. Got in my car and drove away. 
I couldn't stay.
It was too hard.
And not worth my time to stay and be frustrated.
So I left.

I’m trying to face the shame of walking away from this hard thing.
I feel embarrassed and ashamed of not being smart enough. Good enough. Hebrew-speaking enough. Brave enough.

So I walked away instead.

I try to tell myself, I’m still good enough. 
I’m smart.
In English, I can do hard things. I can be brave.
But in Hebrew, it’s just too hard.

This week I had the opportunity to be an assistant in a week-long training course, of which I have already completed the training. I was looking forward to going to assist/help out the new students learning the material for their first time, and deepen my own understanding of the material while I was there.

I changed my weekly schedule around. I woke up early. I sat in traffic on my way to the course, and fought for parking.

I walked into the classroom late, and right away realized I had made a mistake.

The teacher was speaking in Hebrew and the students all seemed to understand what she was saying.

Except me. 

I sat down and tried to understand. I heard a few Hebrew words here and there that I understood. But like what usually happens for me when I go to a Hebrew speaking meeting or event, I hear words I know, but can’t put together enough to understand the context of what is being spoken about.

Very quickly the shame crept in.
“You should know this stuff in Hebrew by now. You’ve been here 15 years.”
“You’ve heard these words in other courses, you should recognize them enough to make some sense of it all.”
“There will definitely be two or three students who speak English and are willing to work in English so you can assist them.”
“It’s so embarrassing to have to admit to everyone that I can’t work in Hebrew.”
“Don’t leave or they will think less of you. They will think you’re not a good therapist because you can’t work in Hebrew.”
“They will think you’re weak if you can’t stay and try to understand the Hebrew.”
"Just be brave and fake it. That will look better."

These and so many more.

At the break, I approached the teacher, who remembered from the last time I came to assist and had to leave because of the Hebrew (I had forgotten that), and who hugged me saying into my ear, “How are you doing with my Hebrew?”
“I’m not,” I answered. “I’m leaving.”
“You need some EMDR,” was her response.
To which I answered, “To help me better understand the Hebrew? How exactly does THAT work?!”
She said something about how EMDR, in one session, will help get rid of the block I have to understand.

She thinks I have a block?
So, I thought, great, there’s one more shame monster to add to the others. If only I would get rid of the block, I could stay and be helpful and learn.

No thank you.
I left.

I’m home now, trying to fight the embarrassment and shame of not being Hebrew-speaking enough, or brave enough to try anyhow...

I don’t want to make excuses.
I don't want to write about how it would just be a waste of my time.
I don't want to write about the reality of my low level of Hebrew speaking and comprehension skills.
I don’t want to write about how after 15 years living in a Hebrew speaking country, I still don’t have the confidence to understand or express myself in Hebrew.

I only want to write about the shame I feel right now.
I want to name it.
I want to lessen it’s power.
I want to tell shame that it cannot take up space in my head and body today.

I want shame to know that it’s annoying and not useful to me.
I am capable.
I am smart.
I function very well in many places in my life.
I love to learn.
I love to assist.
I love to understand.

Just not in Hebrew.
And that doesn't make me a worthless person.

Dear Shame,
Sometimes things are just hard. It doesn't mean you need to get involved. Hard doesn't mean that everything is hard. Just some things. And it doesn't make me a bad or weak or worthless person because I think it’s hard. Today I walked away from something hard because it was hard. Period.
And you are never ever invited again to my “Sometimes it’s Hard" party!! 
Yours truly,


Sunday, September 30, 2018

I miss my Rabbi

Today is the Hebrew date. 2 years since he left us alone in this world. I don’t even know the English date. This day on the Hebrew calendar that will always be remembered. 

I miss my Rabbi. 
Rabbi Kosman left our world too fast. Too fast for me, at least. 
I didn’t get to tell him how much I appreciated what he taught me.

I wanted to tell him that he taught me to look at every person. Even when they annoy me. Even when they make me feel awkward. 
Even when I feel uncomfortable around them. 
Even when I feel frustrated by something they’ve said or done. 
Even when I allow them to hurt my feelings. 
To look at them, with total love in my heart, and accept them as a human being, Understand them to be a human being, created in the image of our Creator.

I can no longer call him and ask him what he would recommend in any situation. 
But I can feel his spirit in my heart, and in my body, and know exactly what to do or what to say, or how to react.

Rabbi Kosman modeled love.
Rabbi Kosman modeled acceptance. Deep, non-judgmental, acceptance.
Rabbi Kosman modeled being human, with every flaw.

And so even when I struggle with this person or that. 
With the choices people around me make that I may not agree or feel comfortable with, I still can love and accept their humanness. I close my eyes. And I feel Rabbi Kosman within me. Around me.

This is what I feel today. A combination of sadness and loss and complete joy and gratitude.

Today I miss my Rabbi.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I have to write something....

"You have to write something," a voice inside keeps repeating. 
"But I don't know what to write." Another voice answers back. "And I fear words aren't enough."
I've read so many other more prolific and articulate words. 
I tell myself, "Don't bother, you don't have anything important to add." 
And then another voice becomes adamant, "You can't stay silent!! Someone, somewhere will learn or be inspired or hear...And besides, Yom Kippur is tonight. Life is too short."

So, I am forcing myself to sit down and write, as my chicken roasts in the oven, and my turkey soup bubbles on the stove.

I want to say I'm so sad.

And so shocked.
And so angry.
And so disillusioned.
And so inspired.
And so sad.

The 45-year-old man, father, son, brother, and friend who was murdered on Sunday, for being a Jew (and it seems an English speaking Jew), was my next-door neighbor's brother. On one hand it feels really close. The entire Fuld family has been coming to Chashmonaim and staying at my neighbor, Moshe's house, twice a year for the past 12 years.

But really, it doesn't matter. Ari Fuld was a innocent human being. It doesn't matter whether I knew him or not. 

He was at the shopping mall, sent on errands for his wife. He was on the phone, as many of us are many times a day, when the terrorist came up behind him and stabbed him. He was targeted because he was a Jew. (And again, it seems from reports on the scene, that the sick, dagger wielding animal was looking for an English-speaking Jew.) He was a man going about his day.

All the rest of the details are not what I want to focus on here.

Tonight is Yom Kippur. The important day on the Jewish holiday calendar where I look at myself and ask, "What have I done this year to hurt another, to disregard or disrespect, to embarrass or shame another? What have I said or done without consciousness? What have I done to diminish my relationship with G-d?"

I have a responsibility to answer for myself, my words, and my actions. I want others to call me out when I have said or done something hurtful, or have overstepped my boundaries. But ultimately, I am responsible for myself.

Life is so so so so so (did I say, so?) precarious. So precious. So short. Every day is a blessing if I wake up in it. I don't have the energy anymore to spend my time on people or things that I have no control over. Although I do feel that I have responsibility when I can make a difference, to be silent when I have something to say is undermining my power.

What I want to share following Ari Fuld's murder is the main message I take from this tragic loss. And that is that the small stuff just doesn't matter. I can control my reactions and what I tell myself. And I can only make a difference first to myself and then to my family. And then, if I have energy leftover, I can make a difference out side of my house. 

We cannot fight for a nation unless we are fighting for ourselves.

This has been a conceptual understanding for many years. A message that I believed in, but didn't know exactly how to follow. I understand now.

The loss of life, whether awaited or sudden, makes me look at my mortality and really take in the message that life is too short.

My blessing to myself and anyone who has read this far, is that we take the time to set our priorities and values. Make them clear, and then live our lives based on these choices.

My nephew posted this a couple weeks ago that I will leave here:





Thursday, September 06, 2018

What you don't know about this picture...

Following my post on Facebook from this past Monday, I would like to give an example of how I think we look at our Facebook friends’ posts, and make assumptions about what we are looking at. When we see so many happy, smiling pictures, we might assume there is only a happy smiling life behind those pictures. If we live in a realistic world, we know that’s not always true. But when the only pictures or posts we see are positive and happy, we may forget about reality and what could actually be happening.

There are any number of positive, sweet thoughts you might have when looking at this picture. 

It is a sweet picture. 
Full of love and connection. 

But the story behind it, or the hours that led up to it, are nothing but scary, traumatic and miraculous! 
What you don’t see, is that our 6-month pregnant daughter, Nechama, and our 1.8 year-old grandson, Shachar, were in a car-totalling highway accident on the way to the airport on Sunday with our three nieces. 
Thank Gd, none of them experienced any internal injuries or broken bones. Lots of bumps and bruises and sore necks. 
The car that they were driving was totaled. There was an accident on the highway in front of them, for which the car in front of them slowed down. But the driver of the car behind them, didn’t. 
Coincidentally, there already were emergency vehicles on the scene. And, the police that were present saw the approaching car ram into the car our children were in. 
There were loud booms, screaming, crying, body pain, and bewilderment. 
They were taken by ambulance to the local hospital immediately. Nechama was sent to the maternity ward where she was put on a fetal monitor for 4 hours. 
Upon receiving a phone call from their daughter who was in the accident, my brother and sister-in-law immediately drove their van to the hospital. Once everyone was evaluated and then discharged without any crucial physical injuries; our daughter’s luggage retrieved from the damaged car; and a new car seat purchased at the nearest Wal-Mart, they drove back to Baltimore to figure out what to do next.
Because our daughter took insurance before they traveled, and the hospital discharge doctor wrote on her papers that she needed to travel with an escort due to her body pain, pregnancy and having to manage a lively toddler on her own, it was decided very quickly that Ari was the best choice to fly in and bring Nechama and Shachar home.

This picture was taken the moment Ari arrived in Baltimore at my parent’s home where Nechama and Shachar were staying. 
It does show the realistic love Ari has for his daughter and grandson, and the deep love and connection Nechama has for her father. 
It doesn’t show the intense fear, body pain, tears, anxiety and feelings of “what’s going on?” felt by Nechama and Shachar.
What is not known without this information, is the story behind the picture that makes it so much more real and authentic!

If you just looked at the picture and didn’t know the story, you might think, “That’s so sweet.” 
And now that you know the real story behind it, do you understand how your thoughts about it and the feelings it evokes are different?

Sunday, April 08, 2018


Isn’t that always the first thought or question we ask when we hear surprising news?

When we hear that a married couple we admired is getting divorced. What?!
When we hear that a dear friend is diagnosed with breast cancer. What?!
When we hear that a young mother-to-be does not carry her pregnancy to term. What?!

Or the devastating, inexplicable news we hear that one of our best friend’s 24-year-old sons has died suddenly. WHAT?!

What? We ask. What?
We immediately want to make sense of what we are hearing. 
Our brains need to make sense of the information we are hearing.
Our brains need to understand the words and make sense of them.
So we ask questions to help our “what?”
What happened? How did it happen? When did it happen? Who found out? And when? What happened first? Then what?
Our brains make order of traumatic information by asking questions.
It calms down our confusion and disbelief. It calms our fear of the unknown.

But really, can we really make sense of tragedy?
There is nothing logical about the emotion of pain and grief and loss.
It’s an extreme emotion.
It never makes any sense. 

And really, what difference do any of the answers make?
The heart of the tragedy is broken. A mother’s heart is broken. A father’s heart is numb. Brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and a whole community: all with broken hearts!
The loss is unbearable.

Can we try to let go of our brain’s need to understand and makes sense?
We know it doesn’t. 
Instead can we focus on just the fact?
Loss. Gone. A young life over. 
Can we just try to hold that?

That is what I am trying to do.
Letting go of my need to know how or why or what or when?
And instead, remind my brain that it’s never going to make sense. Never.
So I prefer to take that energy and give it, instead, to holding and loving and caring and supporting my friend and her family in my heart.
Because that, I can make sense of:
Love in my heart, for my friend in pain. That is real.
And that is much more helpful to my friend, than the senseless questions that don’t really matter now.

I challenge us all to let go of the need to know and make sense.
And just send love from our hearts.

May all our broken hearts find healing, in the right time...

Sunday, February 25, 2018

I feel responsible...

I feel responsible to teach people what I know.
I feel responsible to help each individual in the world know the truth about life and themselves.
I want to teach about shame.
I want to teach about courage.
I want to teach about regret.
I want people to be more solid and knowing in themselves.
I feel responsible to teach what I know. Because I have to. Because I have something to teach. And I want people to learn it.
They will be happier.
They will be more fulfilled.
They will feel more complete.
I know it.
And I feel responsible to teach it.
But how...?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Why I've been missing...

I stopped blogging for a couple reasons.
But I think the return explanation is more important. No reason to blame. Better to take responsibility and move on.
I have been spending a lot of time trying to decide how to restart my writing. Really feeling how much I missed it. But hearing the critics in my head saying all kinds of mean things.
Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown have had a lot to do with my return.
Here's what Elizabeth wrote in her newest book, "Big Magic," that got me to write again:

“Let me list for you some of the many ways in which you might be afraid to live a more creative life: You’re afraid you have no talent. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored. You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it. You’re afraid somebody else already did it better. You’re afraid everybody else already did it better. You’re afraid somebody will steal your ideas, so it’s safer to keep them hidden forever in the dark. You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously. You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life. You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing. You’re afraid that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of work space, or financial freedom, or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of training or degree. You’re afraid you’re too fat. (I don’t know what this has to do with creativity, exactly, but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we’re too fat, so let’s just put that on the anxiety list, for good measure.) You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist. You’re afraid of upsetting your family with what you may reveal. You’re afraid of what your peers and coworkers will say if you express your personal truth aloud. You’re afraid of unleashing your innermost demons, and you really don’t want to encounter your innermost demons. You’re afraid your best work is behind you. You’re afraid you never had any best work to begin with. You’re afraid you neglected your creativity for so long that now you can never get it back. You’re afraid you’re too old to start. You’re afraid you’re too young to start. You’re afraid because something went well in your life once, so obviously nothing can ever go well again. You’re afraid because nothing has ever gone well in your life, so why bother trying? You’re afraid of being a one-hit wonder. You’re afraid of being a no-hit wonder” 

I could not have said it any better.
And so now I am going to fight that voice and write because I WANT to.
I'm going to push myself to do many things just because I want to! 
Today, for example, I spent an hour in my garden pulling weeds. Just because I wanted to.
So I want everyone to fight that voice. I want everyone to find their creativity and write, or play, or draw, or bike, or run, or sing, or dance, or colour, or organise that closet.
Do a little bit of what you want to do everyday...not just what you have to do!