Thursday, September 07, 2023

Week 3: For-Real Friday

This week was a challenge to find something I was willing to write about that was real and authentic. This specific exercise has made me more conscious of my boundaries and what I am willing to share on social media. Although, I find that I usually have no problem sharing most things about my own life, when other people are involved, I know I need to respect them, their privacy, and their story.

This week I had several challenging situations with other people in my life but it is not my place to share those challenges without their permission.

I can think of one frustration from my week that borders on involving others, yet is not their fault and is a clear example of needing to take responsibility for my choices.

In 2020, when we decided to sell our house and move to the beach, we started our search for apartments. We only looked for places that had 4 bedrooms. 1 - Master bedroom, 2 - Ari’s office, 3 - Elysheva’s room, and 4 - a guest room.

Not until the very end of the packing process, when I was going through my home office, did I realize that we hadn’t thought of having a 5th room as an office for myself, with a place where I could sit with my computer to take care of the bills and communications, make doctor appointments online, or have private zoom meetings.

When I started packing my art room, I also realized I had not even considered a place where I would be able to create my own art or store my supplies. 

With all the other decisions about remodeling the apartment and which pieces of furniture we would keep or give away, it was decided, although I don’t recall how or by whom, that my home office would also be the guest room. The decision was made, and the possibility of finding an apartment with 5 bedrooms for an office and creative space was not thought of again.

In February 2020, we bought our impressive 135 square meters (approximately 1453 sq. ft) apartment with 4 small bedrooms, a large living room/dining room area and kitchen, and a small balcony with a perfect view of the beach.


For the most part, I absolutely love living in a small apartment. There’s less to take care of and everything is where I need it to be.

It is only the times when we have sleep-over guests that the reality of the decision to combine my home office with the guest room becomes the most challenging for me. When Elysheva is home and her room is not available to guests, my office becomes the guest room.

This week, I became frustrated with myself remembering that when we were looking for apartments, I did not think about myself or what I would want for my own space. I was concerned for Ari’s space, our bedroom space, Elysheva’s space, and my kitchen space, but not my own personal space. I didn’t even think about it. I never considered what I would want.

I know that sacrificing our needs and wants for others is something that many women struggle with. Most of us don’t know how to live any differently. Either this behavior is how our mothers lived and modeled, or society tells us. I admit that until now, I did not know any other way of living either.

This week I was reminded of this decision all over again. I have watched Elysheva go into her room and shut the door, while Ari sits at his desk working, also shutting the door when he needs to. For our sleep-over guests (whom I love dearly!!) my office is now their tight-fitting space with an opened trundle bed for two people to sleep and a small closet for their clothes.

I have nowhere to go for my personal space. For the time being, I have no room to go into to shut the door.

Of course, it’s not their fault. I am happy to have them here. 

All of this just reminds me of the disregard for my own needs. If I want or need something, I have to ask for it. I did not value that then. It honestly did not even occur to me to ask. Instead, I have spent this week trying not to react with anger at myself and accepting responsibility for my choices.

That’s about it for this week.

  1. Knowing what I need and asking for it.
  2. Taking responsibility for my choices.
  3. Appreciating what I have.

At the same time, still leaving space for feeling the frustration of not doing these things.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Week 2: For-Real Friday - Disappointments


This has been a doozy of an eye infection that has led to a lot of disappointments.
I am now ending week 3 and am still only at the tail end of this thing: itchy, uncomfortable, and swollen eyes, blurry vision, and light sensitivity. (If you look carefully at the picture I posted from our anniversary dinner, you can tell my eyes are swollen.)
Some days I have more energy than others.
This week Ari and I had a short getaway planned for our anniversary.
We were going to save money by flying on the points that Ari had accumulated with all his travel, staying with some friends, and just walking around the city. We were looking for a change of scenery and some time to create some memorable moments together recognizing 35 years of working hard in our relationship.
Sunday night I had to make the difficult decision to push myself to go on this trip while feeling crappy or to cancel.
I do not know about any of you but I have a very mean bully that lives in my head and tells me not to be pathetic. It tells me to push myself so I don’t disappoint anyone else. It tells me I can do anything if I push myself enough. It tells me that I will become a lazy bum if I don’t keep going. It tells me to suck it up.
I am very aware of this constant internal bully and spend a lot of time and energy fighting it.
On Sunday I spoke back and kindly asked my internal bully to sit back and chill. This was not the time I needed it to push me. I told my bully that I needed to listen to my body, which I knew needed to rest.
This hasn’t been easy.
Ari and I will reschedule our trip for another time.
Meantime, I am dealing with disappointment, wishing that my body would cooperate with my life plans, and wishing healing came in the time frame I needed it to.
Accepting disappointment when things are out of my control.
This is a really hard one!

Friday, August 25, 2023

 Week 1: For-Real Friday - Pain

The past two weeks have been horrible! 

I woke up on Monday, August 14th feeling something funky in my left eye, gave it a couple of wipes, and then drove over an hour to pick up two of my grandkids to bring them back for a Grama sleepover. 

As the day progressed and I woke up the next morning, my eye worsened. I went to a family doctor and started taking drops. By Wednesday morning I had a full-on, looked-like-the-devil double eye infection. My eyes were swollen and weepy and felt like I had the entire beach in my eyes!

The week continued and my ability to be present with my family lessened. My friend and pharmacist graciously tried to counsel me via text, but my eyes were not getting any better. 

The drops were not helping and on Sunday morning I learned how to get an emergency appointment with an eye doctor in the city. I was in terrible pain and just wanted it to end. The doctor checked my eyes and told me I had a severe case of double conjunctivitis. It could take anywhere from 1 week to 1 month to heal. I started to cry, which made the pain even worse.


She gave me new drops and sent me home, warning me that the virus was very contagious and that I should be very careful. I couldn't see to drive, and the pain drained my energy. I could physically feel my body running down and under attack.

I canceled clients and important meetings. I couldn’t go to my son-in-law’s sister’s wedding. I couldn’t go to the pool. Being out in the sunlight was excruciatingly uncomfortable, which meant no walks on the beach. I stayed inside. My son did my food shopping and took care of me. We spent a quiet Shabbat together. While I lay on the couch with warm compresses on my eyes, he read to me from the very meaningful book, Being Mortal - which I highly recommend!

Being in pain is exhausting. I live with chronic pain, so my threshold is high. But this felt different. It’s also a scary feeling of being vulnerable and out of control. When my body doesn't work as I expect or need it to, the pain and discomfort send me down a spiral of not wanting to do anything and just wanting life to end. I don’t want to go to sleep at night because I don’t want to wake up (if I sleep at all) in the same amount of pain. The fear of no change and having to endure another day of fighting pain creates high anxiety. 

My mind starts to play tricks on me, making up stories of what if…

What if I lose my eyesight and can’t ever watch the sunset again? 

What if I can’t see my beautiful children and grandchildren? 

What if I can’t see to color or create anything?

What if I wake up blind and don’t know what to do?

What if…

What if…

What if…

I admit. I take my eyesight for granted. I take a pain-free moment for granted. I expect to be able to see, even with my daily gratitude of seeing the sunset. There is an unconscious expectation. I expect to wake up and be able to see.

Yesterday was the first time in 12 days that I had the energy to do anything. 

The drops are working and along with the homeopathic remedy I found of using green tea bags on my eyes, the pain is almost gone. 

12 days and although I still have some blurriness and eye crude, healing has begun to happen, even though I never thought it would.

So that was my hard thing for this week.

Moving on…


The silver lining? Being stuck inside forced me to work on a new project that will be revealed soon! It might not be as perfect as I had hoped since I could barely see, but at least I got it done!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

On Turning 33 - Being a Gift

This birthday year for my son feels very different for me. 

Because it is.

When DB was born 33 years ago, I was a very young mother. He was my first. All parenting experiments were played out on him.

Then he grew up. We moved him to Israel, and he grew up.
He was in the Israeli army for 4.8 years.
My mom always reminded me that having a son in the army was practice for being a mother-in-law: 
I can have an opinion, but no one cares. 
He does not answer to me. 
And I can ask when he is coming home, but I will most probably not get an answer.

The army was great practice for when he traveled post-army in Central and South America for 12 months. 
I could have an opinion about what he was doing or where he was going, but it didn't matter. 
He was totally independent so he didn't have to answer to anyone. 
And I never knew when the next time I was going to hear from him.

It was a constant conversation: Be in touch. Send an SOL (sign of life)
He didn't want to. Only when he had a wifi connection. Or only when he wanted to.

That year I decided that I no longer believed in the saying: No news is good news. I didn't want to wait to hear from him when there was only bad news. Send an SOL. 
Each time I heard from him, I realized how I had been holding my breath and suddenly could breathe again.

Still, it was a constant challenge for me to keep my worry and curiosity in check.
That year, I learned that worrying was a waste of energy. 
I understood and internalized the concept that my son was a gift to me, to us, to our family, and to the world.

He didn’t belong to me. He was a gift. G-d gave him to me as a gift.
And for me to think that I had any control over what he did, or to worry about where he was or what he was doing, was a waste of energy.
He didn’t belong to me. He was a gift
I had to keep the nagging reminder going in my head that he was an adult, and I trusted that he loved us and knew how I felt about being in touch.

This past October, my son got married.
He found the woman he wanted to share his life with.
Even more true, I was now the mother-in-law, and all the lessons I learned while he was in the army and traveling for a year became much more real.

Now, I tiptoe around having an opinion, but it doesn't really matter.
He no longer answers to me, because his wife is ultimately the only one he has to answer to. 
It is no longer any of my business where he is or what he is doing. That is between him and his wife.

Today is my son's 33rd birthday. On August 14, 1989, I became a Mother.
The day I birthed him as a gift into this world.
He made me a Momma and filled my heart with constant love.

This year my son and his wife are on a road trip in Stan, my Grand-van.
They have been driving across the United States. 
He sent a message last week that he was going on a 7-day solo hiking trip in Denali National Park in Alaska. 
A dream, he wrote, and something he has always wanted to do.
His wife would be doing her own thing while waiting for him to return.
He wanted to be alone and not be found.

So today is another day for me to remind myself of all the lessons I have learned about having a son in the army, traveling for a year, and now being married.

There is no purpose in worrying. 
Instead, I am sending out a prayer for his safety with lots of love, and the hope that he is having an adventure of a lifetime!
I can hope for his safe return and realistically know that if anything bad does happen, I will know what to do. 
Worrying does not help.

This is part of the message I sent him today, hoping that he will see and read it eventually:
Wherever you are in the world, I want you to remember that my life changed for the ultimate good when you were born! You carry with you a load of love from me every moment of every day. Even if you want to hide, and not be found, that love is there!
Thank you for being born so I could learn how to love even when I don’t know where you are or what you are doing. 
I hope you are enjoying your birthday adventure and may this 33rd year bring many more exciting adventures to enhance your already amazing life!

And then I remind myself that my son does not belong to me and he is a blessed gift.

Happy Birthday, Dovie. Thanks for being born! I love you 

Sunday, June 19, 2022


I Found a Stick


I pushed myself out the door this morning. So glad I did.

I knew I needed the beach, but wasn’t sure how much time I would have or how far I would go.

I have a favorite walking route where I wind my way north along the long exercise path above the beach and at an opportune opening, I climb down a rocky, dirt-filled cliff to get to the beach, and then head back along the sea's edge. 

As usual, I was alone on the beach and passed only 2 or 3-morning beach walkers. I took off my socks and sneakers to enjoy the feel of the sand and cool sea water on my feet. As I walked along, listening to a meditative Audible book, I found pieces of green polished sea glass and perfect soft stones and dropped them in my bag.

The tide seemed to be going out, so there were open spaces of hard-packed untouched sand, which usually leads my mind to start looking for a stick so I can draw in the sand.

I continued walking and there it was. I found the stick. 

My sand drawing is never purposeful. I allow myself to take the stick in my hand and begin to draw in the sand in whatever direction it wants to go.

Honestly, I could keep going, drawing forever in the sand. Usually, there’s always a time limit. An appointment I need to get home for or an errand I need to run. I do believe that if I allowed myself unlimited time, I would keep going, filling the entire beach until I got tired or hungry or the sun went down.

Today I needed to get home because I thought I had an appointment. I “completed” my sand drawing, pushed the stick into the sand, and stepped back to admire my work.

I smiled and took a picture. Undecided if I would post it.

Then, continuing to walk south, toward the busy public beach, I passed an elderly man walking the other way. I nodded and wished him a good morning, but he did not respond. When he was a short distance passed me, I turned around to see if he noticed my drawing in the sand. I watched for a few minutes, making up the story in my mind that he would see it, and look back to see if I was the one who drew it. We would make eye contact and he would give me a thumbs up. 

Instead, he walked right passed the drawing, without even noticing it.

I turned to continue my walk and instantly recognized a pang of disappointment. A pang of not being seen, and of not being recognized or given positive reinforcement.

I immediately sat down in the sand and journaled:

I found a stick. 

As I was drawing, I thought about taking a picture and sharing it. There are many other sand drawings I have taken pictures of and haven’t shared, just to test myself. This time I really felt that test. 

If no one sees my drawing and I don't get recognized for it, did I do it? 

Do I still enjoy it? 

Does the drawing itself have value? 

Does my act of drawing have value? 

Does the creative act of drawing have value in and of itself? Just the fact that I wanted to be creative and then drew?

Why did I draw it? 

Does it matter if no one can tell me they saw it?

This time I took a picture to capture the drawing for myself. So I can remember for myself. 

But what if I didn’t even do that. What if I didn’t take a picture so I can look back and remember. 

What if I just drew. And felt the feeling in the moment and in my body when I am drawing. Enjoying the process just for myself - at that moment. Could I do that?

What if I drew. No picture. Grounded the experience and process in my body. And moved on. 

What if that’s what I did?

What if that’s all I did?

So, I found a stick.

And I drew.

And it felt different.

I asked myself many new questions. Many questions that at the moment have unknown or uncomfortable answers.

I think about how social media has changed the process of creating for me, just to create.

I think about how my craving for positive reinforcement has changed my deep need to be seen.

Where do I find the balance between being seen and acknowledged, and just being?

And then what about my knowing existentially that I exist and have value.

With or without being seen?

I am posting the picture now to share my experience. 

So that maybe someone else can relate to these feelings. 

Maybe that’s the balance.

When the sharing is done in order to let others know that I see them too.


Does it have to be purposeful? It’s a process.

I found a stick.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Both, at the same time

My 22 kilometer bike ride last week gave me time to process a concept I have been working on personally to internalize and share with others over the past several years.

The concept, simply described, is that two seemingly opposite emotions can be felt at the same time. We don’t have to get stuck completely in one emotion at a time. We can allow them to happen together. Allowing two opposite emotions to happen at the same time creates emotional and mental balance. Although we might have been told by our parents, or we somehow came to believe otherwise, we don’t have to live in extremes of one emotion or the other. 

Allow me to use a personal example to explain: 

This time of year, in Israel, in the off-road/mountain biking world is the most magnificent time. Biking in the forest or fields of Israel in the winter months is a sensory experience. The air is crisp, the sun is comfortably warm, and the smells of wet mud and trees after a rain are sweet and exhilarating. The shades of green are like fresh paint on a canvas. The blooming cyclamen create beds of purple and pink fairy angels and we begin to see dots of red poppies appear in the green fields. The experience is breathtaking. 

This past June, Ari and I moved further away from the forest and closer to the beach. Unfortunately in Israel right now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a lockdown, and we are legally not allowed to put our bikes on the car to travel for exercise. 

I love living by the beach. I am so grateful to have the daily morning sea view, a 7 minute walk to put my toes in the sand and the ability to breathe the salty air.  Biking near the beach is only on paved bike trails, some parallel along the beach, others through the streets or not-yet-constructed neighborhoods. My biking experience has changed and become very different to biking in the forest. 

As I was peddling up an incline last week, on a long strip of black topped bike path, it came to me, and here is where I needed to integrate: While I really miss being able to bike in the colorful, sweet smelling forest right now, I am so happy to be living near the beach. 

Both. At the same time. Appreciating where I am and missing where I could be. Not just saying, I “should be happy where I am,” but feeling both: grateful for where I am and sad that I can’t be closer to the forest.

I wasn’t raised with this concept. I was raised with “Let me see a smile,” or “Dont worry, be happy!” Or even this one, from my Grandma Rose, “No one wants to be around a bitch!” People in general have difficulty hearing or dealing with their own difficult emotions, and have even greater difficulty managing another person’s. So many people feel shame about the negative emotions. We tell ourselves, “I should be happy,” or “I should be grateful,” or “I need to be more positive.” When we recognize these difficult emotions and allow them the space to exist, we validate them. And then we fight the shame of “how I should be...”

I find this concept freeing. I find it empowering. I find it easier with practice. Finding the comfortable balance changes with each situation.

Another cute example of this happened recently while reading a children’s book to my grandson. In “Franklin Goes to the Hospital,” we see that we can be brave and scared at the same time. Franklin was brave to face having the surgery he needed in order to fix the crack in his shell, while still expressing his fears. My grandson repeated the concept several times: “Right, I can be brave and scared at the same time, Grama?” Brave and scared at the same time. Two opposing emotions, that we can allow ourselves to feel simultaneously. Being able to teach this concept to my grandchildren, is such a gift.

So too, the same as with this pandemic, allowing ourselves to feel frustration and impatient at being cooped up inside for so many hours of the day, while at the same time feeling grateful to be healthy and well. Consciously allowing ourselves to feel both emotions at the same time.

That’s what I mean by Both, At the same time.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Never assume you know what you are looking at!

This picture has you fooled, I am sure of it.

You might say, “It’s so sweet!”
Or think, “Look how comfortable you both look.”
Or, “You’re both so relaxed.”

You might feel the love between us.
You might be in awe of the sweetness between grandmother and grandson

And all would be true.

But, once again, you don’t know the story behind the picture.

This picture was taken last Thursday, December 6th, at around 3:00 pm in the afternoon. 
I had finally gotten Shachar to fall asleep on my shoulder while I was standing up and holding him. I laid down in my bed and we both slept there for 2 hours.

Again, you might be thinking, “That is so sweet…”
But, remember, there’s always more story behind a picture. 

The story is that the night before, I mistakenly and without second thought, gave my grandson a minuscule piece of macadamia nut. 
For those who don’t know, my grandson, Shachar, is THAT kid who is allergic to peanuts (and dairy, and sesame, and eggs!) His mother asked me if I had given him a macadamia nut before, and I thought I had.

Not more than 1 minute later, the poor little guy was drooling, lips swelling and breaking out in a rash. His parents very quickly gave him Benedryl. But it did not seem to do the job. They took him to our local Urgent Care facility, where they gave him steroids, and then an epipen, as the symptoms were not getting better. At that point protocol dictated that he be sent to the hospital.

Ari and I met them at Urgent Care around 11:00 pm, as they were getting into the ambulance. Ari followed in our children’s car, and I drove home in our car to quickly gather phone chargers, toys for Shachar, some allergy free snacks, and hospital admission forms, in case Nechama went into labor.

When I arrived at the hospital, Shachar was in the children’s emergency room, being monitored, where they would keep him all night. They were no longer concerned that the symptoms would get worse, as it seemed the epipen did the job, but they wanted to keep him for observation. Ari and I left Shachar and his parents at the hospital around 12:30 am, to return home.

I was drained. I felt horribly guilty. I was questioning my memory. I was second guessing myself. I was so unsure as to whether I had given him a macadamia nut before or not? If I would have been more conscientious, everyone would be home in their warm snuggly beds. I felt guilty for making my daughter and son-in-law have to (try to) sleep in a hospital all night. I felt responsible. I kept thinking about the trauma I had caused him. And his parents. And there was nothing more I could do.

They returned home the next day, after receiving the OK from the doctor to be discharged. I sent Shachar’s parents to sleep, and then fed, played with and basically followed Shachar around the rest of the day. Until the moment when we both needed a nap. He was so tired, but he was not cooperating to lay down without me.

So I left everything I was doing and took him to my room. I held him, sang to him and spoke quietly in my dark room, until he fell asleep with his head on my shoulder. 

It was heaven. I couldn’t decide if I was feeling guilt or gratitude. Or both. I just wanted to make the whole scary night go away!

It was sweet.
It was loving.
It was comfortable.
It was very relaxing.

But it was also for a very scary reason!
And for a mistake that I plan not to repeat!

So, bottom line, when you look at this picture, and any others that I post:

Really, just don’t ever assume you know the full story….