Needing A Little Breather

The winter continues to be brutal. The raining and cold weather is not dissimilar to what I experienced in the Bay Area and yet I find that my mood more often than not to be in the depressed range of things. Every day is the same thing, which typically I like but I’m finding that its all becoming too much. 

Yesterday I finally had enough. I came home and shut my phone off and took Autumn for a long walk. Blasting Demi Lovato I did something I haven’t done in a long time-I just reflected. staying in the present and letting my thoughts and feeling have the space and time they needed. I was exhausted at the end but it was much needed. 

I often talk about leaving the gan and wanting to focus on my business. It’s not because the gan in and of itself is a bad place but its because of me and how I operate. I’m emotionally, flat out exhausted. For 8 and a half hours a day, 5 days a week, I’m at the beck and call of 8 toddlers and their parents. Not to mention having to see and receive phone calls and messages on my day off (which I dedicate to my business) and in the evening from coworkers and these same parents. I feel the urge to respond and I cant turn it off. Now that we are short staffed I cant even take the days off that I request to actually spend time with friends or what have you or I’m being guilted into working on my day off. To top it off we have babies in my class who don’t belong, mothers who are away for business, pregnant or who have just given birth on top of kids who’ve been sick for weeks. So what’s left are incredibly needy toddlers who have decided that they don’t want to play with each other or alone but would rather fight with each other or tantrum if I’m not holding them. We are all tired and emotionally exhausted yet I have to be the one holding it all together, because thats me as a person and also as a therapist (wishing I new nothing about psychology right now). So it’s no wonder that my business is suffering, my personal life is suffering and well I’m suffering. I am burned out and I need a break. The next break isn’t until the end of March which is Pesach (Passover). I fear I wont make it until then. I’m at my wits end. Something has to give and so far it’s been my business and my personal life. 

This makes me incredibly sad. I am not ready to give up on Israel but in truth I didn’t realize the work situation here. Yes I knew there was very little option but i wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll it would all take on me. I thought I was prepared to double down on the work, because I had done it back in my 20’s. But I’m 34 and in a different place in my life. A place where my time is more valuable than money. Where working as a therapist, my passion is what’s important to me, and where I would like to start a family. At the pace I’m going now I’m not sure if its possible for me to stay here. 

I met someone last month who was one week telling me how great things were, despite losing her job and she was happy she made aliyah several years ago. Now this month she’s gone, she left Israel, unsure if she would return. Is that the nature of this place, where one minute you feel like you’ve got it all figured out and the next you’re wondering why your still here. At this point I’m asking myself weekly why I’m still touching it out here. The answers range from not wanting to give up to not wanting to leave my friends. 

Back in 2012 I did some soul searching and discovered that there was more to making me happy than work. All aspects of my life, spirituality, relationships, career, health, and my interests/hobbies needed to be properly nurtured and attuned too. I made an effort to do this and my happiness, satisfaction and optimism rose. I was felt more free and open. My relationships with others improved, my health was better and I even learned that I liked cooking, I was apart of an active Jewish community, and I felt rewarded at my job even with the craziness. I tried new things such as trapeze class and got into camping, hiking, and knitting. I connected with my family, Sunday night board games, football and just sitting around laughing at stupid shit was rewarding. These are the things that are not only missing from my life here but the energy to engage in them is also gone. In it’s place is exhaustion and little desire to do anything but get lost in TV, books, or Sims 3. My shabbats are filled with me sleeping and still waking up tired. 

So that’s been me and why my blogs have been absent as of late. I have just lost my mojo. The thing that makes me, me and I’m on the path to finding it again. Recently a good friend did a tarot card reading on me and it was amazing all that came out but what was even better was just hearing her voice. The following week I had two Skype calls with two good friends and again I felt so happy and reenergized just catching up and hearing their voices. I think out of everything I’m missing my people. The folks I’ve known for years who’ve seen me at my worst and at my best. Who know me so well and can support me when I need it, without me even having to say anything. Relationships like this require trust and safety which happens over time. So I hope to create something similar here, but thats if I can get out of this funk. 

Some positives because its important to highlight these as well. I continue to be noticed and appreciated at work for all the good I do by my parents, coworkers and management. I am getting calls from potential clients which means that I’m making a splash online. Since I haven’t been on the top of my game I’ve let those opportunities pass by but now that my babysitting gig is over I have more time to focus on other things in life. It looks like I’ll be approved as a contractor for which should bring me a string of new clients and my application for Cigna insurance has also been approved so hopefully I can get paneled and have clients soon. I’m also looking forward to attending my good friend of over 10 years wedding the second week of February and having the opportunity to dress up nicely for a change. So those are the things that I’m looking forward to. As for the rest only time will tell, but by just getting it all out there I feel a sense of clarity and release that has been absent for months.

Happy Aliyahversary and Other Random Musings

Wow things have been crazy for me. Lots of stress and questioning myself and my decisions. When things don’t go as we planned or hope we can do it ourselves and thats where I was. As my first year living in Israel came to a close I was confronted with past demons that I thought I had stayed. I discovered that I had lost myself which in turn left me with a lack of motivation and hope that my situation would improve. Forced to be vulnerable and ask for help, I learned something about the power and importance of having an emotional support system. Although I frequently tell y clients this, and help them build support, its interesting that I had forgotten about my own.

As I reflected at the closing of the year I realized I had to stop running. I had to stop avoiding the hard stuff (finances) and fully embrace all that life has to offer. I looked back on all the reasons I decided to make Aaliyah and forced myself to confront all the toxic behaviors and thoughts about what I deserve which were holding me back. In this I dedicated myself to reconnecting with friends and family, making sure that I made them a priority and not work. I also forced myself to make my health and eating well more of a priority than I hand over the course of the past year. I found my bucket list and my goals list that I created back in 2014 which changed my life and looked at all that I had accomplished.

Sometimes when we are in the thick of things its easy to see all of our short comings and to feel like we haven’t accomplished much, and thats how I was feeling. Especially when things were not going as planned. But by sitting down and really hashing out my finances (and realizing that I was better off than I thought) and connecting to loved ones, I was in a great place.

Finally by creating a plan for transitioning out of my full time job so that I can fully focus on my business I felt more positive about being an entrepreneur which I think G-d heard as I finally booked my first client (and after receiving three total inquiries in a week which is the most I’ve had since starting out).

So I write this blog on my second birthday here in my home of Tel Aviv (well technically I’m on the bus but you know semantics) I am grateful for my wonderful family back in the states who love me unconditionally, support me emotionally and financially (thanks mom), and who can always make me laugh. To my good friends who live all over the states I just love you all and the families your creating (can’t wait to see all the new babies in the summer G-d willing) and for putting up with me when I was in self doubt mode. Lifting me up and reminding me of my value. And finally to my new friends (and old) here in Israel I love getting to know you and being able to come to you for help with Hebrew or just words of encouragement, especially those who made aliyah from the states.

Mourning Our Old Lives

Making aliyah is a huge decision, one not taken or done lightly. There is much planning a person does to uproot their lives from the US to a new life in Israel. Israel is a tough place to live. The language is different. The culture is different. Even the foods are different. It can be both a beautiful and overwhelming process, adjusting to your new life.

For many of us we come as adults. Many of us with our US degrees and years of experience making a certain amount of money. We come from  place a privilege, no matter how small it is. This is something that you don’t really notice until you’ve spent significant time here. When I was on my pilot trip I loved getting around by bus, it was so easy and efficient. Now living here for almost a year I miss having a car. Having two hour commute daily is no longer exciting. Having to carry groceries on the bus is also not fun. She days its eat only at work because I don’t have the energy to stop off at the market, wait fr the bus and then go home and cook.  These are the things you don’t really think about in the early stages or even the planning stages of making aliyah. We are told to learn Hebrew (yes this is important), to save money (also important) but the day to day struggles when working full time and being exhausted and sometimes lonely are the parts that are not covered so well. Feeling lonely, even if you have friends, can occur because your new friends are just that new friends. They haven’t known you for years so when your struggling you don’t feel like you can turn to them or if you do they don’t really know how to help/support you, so you wind up feeling even more alone than you did in the beginning.

When in the planning stages for aliyah you are told to save a lot of money. “Save” they tell you because things are more expensive and finding a job can be tough (which is true if you compare pay to how much things cost). So you plan for this. In my case my goal was always to have my own business, a therapist with her own private practice. Anyone in the private practice world knows that this takes a lot of time and effort. So my plan was to work at a gan (nursery school) until my practice was self sufficient. This all went as planned except for 1) underestimated the time it would take for my practice to be self sufficient and 2) the emotional energy of working full time with 1 year olds 8 and half hours a day would actually be. Check this the emotional and physical impact working as a teacher would take. Any one who knows me I have been sick more often than not since I’ve made aliyah and I did not plan for this.

So this leaves me to the topic of mourning your life in the US. If you are on fb you will hear many American olim “complaining” about their lives here. It upsets others for a variety of reasons but I think we really do have a different kind of struggle. Just because an Americans struggle is different than someone from South Africa’s struggle, doesn’t make their struggle any less real or important. In fact I want to take the shame away from Americans who struggle when they make aliyah by normalizing their pain, because we honestly give up a lot to make aliyah. We do it for a variety of reasons, religious/spiritual, love of country, larger community, a calling, a sense of adventure, love of partner etc. We give up our careers, our homes, our cars (cars=freedom said my good friend Pauline and she was so right), paid sick leave, paid vacation, language, culture, good customer service, and hell just knowing how the hell everything works and how to google something if we don’t know the answer. This is a lot. Let me reiterate WE GIVE UP A LOT! So yes our STRUGGLE IS REAL!

So we mourn our lives in the US and contemplate moving back. Some of us do and thats ok too. No one should feel shamed for making the choice of returning back to their lives in the US, which are easier. Why struggle unnecessarily if you don’t have too? But for those of us still struggling and wanting to push through for whatever reason here are just a couple of tips to help you get through.

  1. Stay connected. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day life of Israel. Long ass days and a whole lot of stress makes a person want to go home and hide (in youtube or tv). Don’t! Send a message or call your friends and/or family back and talk with them. Tell them how hard it is and let them support you. Connect with your friends here and just be in the presence of others can help you get out of your funk, even if its temporary. We all need relationships and connectivity and you will find that the more you reach out the less lonely you will feel.
  2. Don’t struggle alone. The hardest thing is reaching out when you’re struggling financially. Unfortunately or fortunately its very easy to get into debt here and then not have a way out. Creating a financial plan we all know is essential but sometimes we need a little help from friends and family. So reach out before it gets out of control. It will feel shitty, I won’t lie to you but so will being stuck in a whole lot of debt with no way out. The biggest fear is rejection and there is just no way around that until you ask. So ask and sit with being uncomfortable, as hard as that will be
  3. Reflect. Really figure out what you want out of life and go after it. You’re feeling like you want to return to the US explore why and talk it out. If it feels right fr you do it, don’t let others shame you for your choice. If you want to stay figure out how you can make it work for you. IT’s all about what we want in this life and going after it. It can be really hard to decide what to do but thats were I recommend taking a long walk with soothing music or being in silence to just listen to your own thoughts. Right them down and bounce them off of others.
  4. Mourn. I think it’s ok for you to mourn your old life back in the US because you gave you gave up a lot to create a new life here in Israel. It’s ok that as you’re adjusting you’re comparing and contrasting, because your just trying to make sense of it all. You’re going to question your choice and thats ok too. You’re going to want to leave and thats normal as well.

Making aliyah really is hard and no one really prepares you for the grieving that you will inevitably go through. Its normal to miss the US and want to go back. It’s normal to wish you could have things you gave up here. None of these thoughts and feelings make you a failure.

The First (of many) High Holy Days in the Holy Land

The high holy days are my favorite time of year.  I’m celebrating them for the first time in Israel and they seemed to occur as the weather began to change. Night is coming sooner. There is now an evening and a morning breeze where in the summer it was just hot hot hot all day long. 

As I reflected this past Yom Kippur I am grateful for my journey, my first nine months in Israel, my home. The first few months were an easy adjustment for me. Filled with awe and wonder as I got to know my new home. I was happy daily and felt I had little worries. As time moved on of course, the worries came. The anxiety and the self doubt about my business and about money became paramount. The goals I set for myself were cast aside as survival became imminent. But as Yom Kippur came, I reflected on the beauty of the whole journey. 

On my journey I have met and created my wonderful JOC family…fellow Jews of color who made aliyah from the states who live from Jerusalem to Hadera. My family who has welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. Who give me sage advice and support when I need it. From the gan I work at which gave me my first job and has allowed me to learn something new but has also introduced me to some wonderful moms who’ve become my friends.  From the family who first took me in when I first arrived, giving me love and support even though times were not easy for me or them. From the other therapists here I’ve connected with and become friends with. From my good friend of over a decade and her wonderful husband who I love dearly. Then of course theres my loved ones back in the states who know me inside out and even with a 10 hour time difference I can still count on them. 

One of the most amazing things I saw on Yom Kippur was how the country shut down. Kids were riding their bikes and scooters in the streets and on the freeway. People were walking around in white or sitting outside enjoying each others company. There was a quiet in my neighborhood were all I heard was the birds chirping. Because I was so swamped and in survival mode I didn’t even think I would fast because I had not prepared until a couple hours before Yom Kippur was to begin. 

Yet, as I fasted, I noticed that this was the easiest fast I have ever had for Yom Kippur. Normally I have headaches and I start to count down the time when I will be able to eat a couple times throughout the day, yet that did not exist this year.

As I sat and caught up on some much needed rest and reading I reflected on all that I had achieved the past year and what I let go to my detriment. That is the beauty for me of this time of year. Yes of course we repent and ask for forgiveness of our sins. But for me this time of year has always been more than that. Its about being reconnected to G-d and reconnected with our souls and spirituality. I realized that I lost a little bit of that in the chaos (for lack of a better word) of making aliyah and adjusting.

Even though I’m still adjusting I cannot let life pass me by. I cannot allow goals to be unchecked and I must make my priorities a priority again, even if that means saying “no” to other opportunities, which don’t support my goals. This is my first experience of the high holy days in Israel and it reminded me of the connection I felt back in 2015 when I visited for the first time.There are no words for the feelings of feeling at home, but watching the country shut down and realizing I’m amongst my larger family celebrating in our own ways was beautiful. This is my home and I love it. Now it’s time to make all those dreams I had before I made a aliyah a reality.

8 months down, 4 more to go (before its my 1 year aliyayversary

Entering the 8 month of my aliyah and I just can’t believe how fast time is moving. Last August I was at an agency job that I didn’t really enjoy, (I mean who wants to work 8 hours straight 5 straight days a week) and now I’m living in Israel.  I was counting down the time back then and to think now I’m here. Wow!

8 months ago I thought I would be living in Jerusalem. I envisioned a full practice by this time and a beautiful apartment in the Germany Colony or some place like that. 8 months in and I’m living in Tel Aviv working at a gan and still not where I want my practice to be, still dreaming of something more. 

It’s been such a crazy 8 months and I’ve been through 2 seasons and I’m about to enter fall and the high holy days. Still no synagogue or religious community but friends who have become family and friends who are natives helping me with my Hebrew-these are the goals that were not necessarily on my list when I was thinking about where I would be at this point in time and yet they have occurred. This is something that keeps me going when times get rough.

As I continue to reflect I cannot believe I have been at my job at the gan for 8 months. I was only planning on being here until August. I had hoped that my practice would be full by this point in time and stable enough so that I would only need one job. But my boss liked me and clients haven’t found me so I am here for another 6 months. In truth I have mixed feelings about this. Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely hate being told what to do and I crave my freedom and autonomy even more. So working for someone else is not really what I want to do. Yet I’m continuing on with 2-3 year olds next year, working with a teacher who will be cool and getting to spend time with a couple kids I all ready know and love which will only teach me more about this population which I like working with. Yet I feel some fear that having this job, which is honestly suppose to be back up not primary in my responsibilities will take over and I will be stuck. Moving further and further away from my goal. The further I move away from therapy and psychology the more uncertain about myself and my skills I become. This is what worries me and keeps me up at night. 

While working at this gan, I’ve made some friends-some are moms and some are coworkers, and it’s great. In a weird way they all have inspired me to continue to dream. It’s almost like when I moved I was so caught up with the newness of it all that I lost a little bit of my vision and a whole lot of my fire. I have three weeks off from work and I plan to use this time to act as if I was working full time my practice-so it wont really be a vacation. As it is I’ve been hit up for babysitting in Italy, which I sadly hd to turn down because they asked my boss about it first and she said no (another reason to be mad at my job) and then I was hit up by a parent to do some babysitting this week (I offered for only two days because I have to practice saying “no”). These are the interesting work things that are happening to me right now. 

On the other hand I am apart of a wonderful consult group with therapists building their ideal practice and we have each other as support. So I’m looking to them and the coach in charge to help me get grounded. Just this past week she and I met online and she helped me focus on the online therapy part of my business which feels right for me at this time. I really do believe in online therapy and it’s no different then meeting face to face in my humble opinion. I just wish others weren’t so apprehensive about it. 

Any way the next three weeks will be good for me, not focusing on the gan. I’m going to use this time to live my ideal life. To create a boundary between work and personal and make sure I attend equally to both parts. With the full time job and then the practice on the side I’ve pretty much neglected my personal life, which is terrible self care. So I’m hoping to get in a couple hikes, spend some time with friends I haven’t seen in forever who live all over this small ass country, and to just lay out and read or something.

July Reflections

Hello my friends from here in Israel, back home in California, and of course the few IMG_6799random folks who’ve some how found this blog. Hope your all enjoying my crazy life adventures in Israel. Next month is my friend and trusted hair dresser, Chaya Lev’s aliyaversary so I basically invited myself to her home in Haderah on my day off to do some morning Yoga and just hang out. I really do love celebrating accomplishments, birthdays, etc with my friends and loved ones, so I’m looking forward to a whole lot of laughter because really when we hang out we just bust up all the time. 

As her aliyahversary approaches I have been reflecting on my 7 months in Israel. I am a big dreamer and I always have a lot of goals. I think it’s the Capricorn in me, but I’m always striving for more and more. I can’t just settle for anything. Since my life goal is to be happy, I’m proud that even in the face of tough times the moment of happiness and gratitude always finds a a way of shinning some light in my life. 

So with all this in mind I’ve had really interesting past week, thats got me thinking. I joined a consult group, which is online, and with other American women who have private therapy practices. Part of our work together includes homework, getting to know each other, and really just supporting each other as we grow and achieve our individual (practice) goals. Bonus is that the woman running it is kind of  genius and I really love working with her. So part of the homework included networking, which I really love. I really like meeting people and hearing their stories. I love having a massive circle of friends and acquaintances, people who are both different and similar to me. I like to think of myself as a complex person and no matter who I meet if I click with them I always find we have a little something in common. So in that regard, networking is fun because I just never know who I will meet. Who will be a source of professional but also personal support. Will we just be business acquaintances or will we be friends? 

Well I had two encounters this week where I really liked the people yet I found that they had a different attitude with regards to business and their practices than I did. Now again I’ve only been in Israel 7 months and these people have been here for years, and they can speak better Hebrew than I do, so maybe they know a little bit more than I do about life. So I’ll take heed, even these woman, who basically told me that its a waste to network in Israel because people were all competing for the same clients blah blah blah, was something Just don’t agree with. This is an example of what we call a “scarcity” mindset at it’s finest. 

On top of all these interactions I had a conversation with a coworker about home buying in Israel. I said emphatically that I was buying a home some day in Israel to which the coworkers reply was unless I had some family member to give me money or had a home all ready it just wouldn’t happen. What pops up on fb today is someone asking a question about getting money for a down payment and people said the same thing-it just isn’t gonna happen for this woman and her family. 

This week I was surrounded by negative talk and beliefs from folks. It’s like everyone is feeling financial stress around me and they can only see life through those filters. Or maybe they tried really hard to accomplish their own goals and failed so they want to pass on their wisdom to others. While at the same time as I’m surrounded by negativity, I’m doing a rejection challenge with my friend (we basically have to do one thing a day where we ask for something with a high likelihood that the person will say no so we can find out the reasons why its a no and also get used to feeling rejected. It sounds deeper than it is but here is the video) and also finding inspiration in Neil Gaiman with his speech “Make Good Art” (You have to see it to understand it). 

With all of the competing interests swirling around me this week I got the idea to make a list of all the things I want to do that people tell me are impossible (for whatever reason) and go about knocking them off my list. I just don’t believe things are impossible but I do think that much of what we want to do or accomplish require a lot of smart hard work, which can be a challenge for most of us, especially in the age of distractions and instant gratifications. When I am having a hard time here, sad because I’m missing friends weddings in the states or wishing that I could afford the taxes and delivery charges from things in the US to Israel, I remind myself that this life I’m building is a marathon not a sprint. That I have planned to start over and just see where the journey takes me. As long as I have friends, both here in Israel and back in California, I can’t go wrong in this life. And when I was really feeling overwhelmed my good friend Barbara reminded me that I have accomplished so much in just the 7 months that I have lived here. That I should take a moment to be proud of myself for these accomplishments and know that I will achieve the goals I desire, step by step. So this blog is for you Barbara, missing you tons. 

So here is my list to knock off:

  • Buy a home/Apartment
  • Bring my car from US
  • Live Debt Free
  • Do Napa Fellowship
  • Have Full time successful private practice that supports my lifestyle
  • Learn Hebrew (this one is not really impossible but for now I’m learning with talking with friends not at Ulpan which everyone wants me to do like yesterday) 

July-Living in the Red

Today I  scrolled through my Facebook feed and spotted a comment on one of the many groups for olim-Keep Olim, that caught my eye. The man mentioned that his wife was pregnant with their second child and he wanted to know how to make ends meet. Or rather how others made ends meet. This will not be a blog about my views on his lifestyle but rather on the question, how do people make ends meet?

One of the reasons I made aliya was because I felt connected to the country but the reason I wanted to move away from the US in general was for a better quality of life. A quality of life not bound up in work-trying to make money to pay off what seems like an endless list of bills. No I wanted to start a family, see the world, learn Hebrew, and be surrounded by the love of family of friends. Yes work is important, especially for me as a therapist, healing trauma survivors, but it’s not the only part of me.

As a new olim I received, for 6 months, money from the government to start life here. July is my first month without it and man did I feel it. It wasn’t a lot to begin with but for the first time I did what I didn’t want to do and that was live in the red. I shake my head as this is common practice for Israeli’s but I don’t like it. Prior I was making ends meet, but with an hourly wage that’s dependent on how many hours per month I work, its hard to create a budget. 

So I can say this move has not taught me anything more than before about living within my means. It’s very hard to do, especially when you come from a place of having abundance, to starting all over and your back to hustlin. In the past my salary was enough for me to cover expenses for my practice but now its a tough choice trying to invest in myself. The options are to take out a loan or continuously be in overdraft. It’s a lose-lose situation. 

And yet I work at a private gan in which these parents have money. Many of the moms do not work and they have multiple children and multiple cars. Some have homes, which is tough in Israel according to many because its so expensive, while others live in nice apartments. Some how they have managed to live within their means. Many are either natural born Israeli’s or they are the spouse of a natural born israel, living here and starting a family much like I want to do. So they have made it work. 

So what’s wrong with the likes of the man who posted the question, me and the other people who responded not having a clue? Why is it that some people have managed to live within their means, not struggling? I once had this life, but it’s because my job, however much I wanted out, was some place that needed me and paid me decently. My masters degree was worth something, and even though I lived the lower middle class lifestyle, I made enough to save, take a big vacation, own a car and pay off bills. Twice a month I was paid and I could still enjoy a meal with friends or have a weekend getaway. Now this life alludes me, which I knew it would at least for the first year I lived here, but now that i’m experiencing it I’m going through a little bit of a mourning process. 

At the same time I miss doing therapy, so much my heart hurts. Theres a huge piece of my identity that is missing. My work at the gan is good, I love those kids and the moms are the best (and well the dads I know are too), but these are typically developing children. They of course need my love, they are little ones missing their parents while they are at work, but next year I’ll be with 2 and 3 y/o’s who have moved past the separation anxiety phase. It’s going to be a lot of limit setting and need for autonomy so my days will be different. The love will be there because I just cant work with a child, get to know them, and not love them. But it will be different for sure.

So it’s more than one thing I think at play for me this month which is why it has taken forever for me to update you all on my life. I’m feeling lost but not alone. I’m feeling overwhelmed and like I’m grieving for the first time. I’m lucky to have found amazing connections in Israel…that keeps me a float…but I still need to make money. I still need to do therapy. I want to move out of this place of hustling for everything to feeling steady.

As part of reconnecting with therapy and my business I joined a consult group in which we are all trying to build our practices or make our practices ideal and more conducive for our lifestyles. It’s a exercise in having us move from a scarcity mindset in which we feel that clients and resources are limited. It makes me wonder if this is actually the key to peoples success with money, the understanding and belief that resources are not scarce, and that there is enough out there to sustain us all. But how does one move into that place, change your mindset? I’m still trying to figure it all out, but in the meantime I will continue to live in the red, make connections with friends new and old here in Israel, and stay fully present and active in my consult group.

It’s a sign…It’s time

It’s been a week since I’ve returned home and I all ready wrote about my vacation and missing home. Since my return, there have been these little things, whether it’s things people have said or what I’ve been listening too podcast wise or the opportunities that are coming my way thats telling me that my attention needs to shift. Shift back to my passion of helping others. 

As I have had to start over in Israel growing my practice, since there really is no option for me to work at an agency here, I am forced to confront any of my fear points and blocks. We all have them, and for most of it the fear resolves around failure, which is obvious but there is it’s lesser known cousin, the fear of success. Especially for those of us who grew up in homes where money was tight and struggling was/is has the dual message of not being desired but also something that makes you stronger. We look at people with money as the other, and I think in order to distance ourselves and soften the pain of not having the ability to do things as easily as those with money, we talk about their character (whether we know them or not) in negative ways. 

I find myself having the fear of success more than the fear of failure. Being a therapist means the world to me and it’s a huge responsibility, people are hurting and have often suffered repeated blows relationally and emotionally. I want to help this, not exacerbate this. 

During vacation I had the opportunity to hang out with friends, many of whom are in the field. Some work at agencies, there are are those who have their own practices or are involved in group practices. As I talked about my difficulties with starting my practice with all of them, I realized that much of it has to do with niching and trying to decide who I want to work with. 

Yes trauma survivors but there’s more to it than that. More things I’m interested in.  I talked about wanting to work with kids under 5 and their moms. I wanted to do consulting at pre-schools and work with teachers and parents with kids with difficult behaviors. I received welcomed advice from all the people but hey it’s vacation so it was harder for me to keep track of it all. During this timeI also had  a meeting with a woman who was creating a nonprofit for survivors of domestic violence and was looking for trauma therapists who could serve on her board. We talked and we clicked and I said yes I’ll do it. I don’t even know what I’m doing but the thought of being able to be at the beginning stages of creating a program for survivors and their families was very appealing to me. 

As I returned with my sister I got back into the groove of things here I continued to be confronted with things related to my therapy practice. I listen to podcasts talking about niching and picking one thing (yet I’m interested in everything), so I continued to ignore because it was overwhelming me.  While at the same time I’m having former clients and people connected to former clients reaching out to me. Some still struggling and wishing they could wrk with me again (but they can’t) or wanting to update me on how they are doing.  A reminder of the impact that the work I do has impacted other’s in a meaningful way, which is really why I do it.

I then had an opportunity, well two, to join consultation groups. One for those building a private practice and the other for therapists of color. I’m trying to decide if I should pick one or just join both, I see the value in both, plus connecting with others and building relationships is important to me. With one of these groups I get to work with an amazing practice building coach who interviewed me on her podcast (and it’s airing next week which has me a little anxious). But since I decided to invest in myself I signed right up for this group (glad I did it early because it’s full now) and I’m thinking I’ll join the other. Being a therapist of color has many dynamics and it’s good to be connected and supportive to each other. 

Prior to going on vacation I sent my resume for an online school based therapy program in the US that someone recommended to me. While I was in California they replied and said they weren’t hiring for people with a California license. Then this week they emailed me wanting to schedule an interview online. The job is cool because I am a contractor not an employee and I can make my hours, it just has to add up to 5 hours a week minimum. 

Yesterday I had drinks with two friends from work.  We had such a great time, just getting lost in it all, it reminded me of why I missed being home in Israel. I have, in just 6 months made some great friends.  Well one friend was telling me how some words I said to her months ago played in her head as she dealt with high emotions from someone she cares about. She was able to stay calm and all went well (when maybe in the past her emotions would’ve taken her to another place because  the other person was losing it). This lead her to then talk about how I should talk to our boss about doing assessments or consulting with the kids at the school we are working at, the value the school would have using someone like me. This meant the world to me but also was just too ironic because I had been thinking and discussing wanting to do this with my friends the previous week when I was on vacation. Of course my immediate thoughts were like, who me? Why me? Am I really that good? But I pushed them aside and remembered yes I am good and it’s really something I am interested in. So I must find a way to confront my fears and talk to my boss about it. Especially since she wants to open a 3rd school. How fun would that be to be on site working with teachers and/or parents with kids that have behaviors that are concerning. Helping to see the spectrum of development and how to help children who may be at the extreme ends (slightly delayed or advanced) adjust and manage in school. 

All of these things hitting me at once feel like I need to shift my attention back to my practice.  I’m thinking it’s a sign…time to confront my fears of success and fears being seen to have a conversation with my boss but also look for opportunities to actually grow this part of my practice, well and to just grow my practice in general. 

As an aside, especially since I was about to post this blog I realized I needed to update about the banking situation.  My friend (shout out to TL) helped me call the bank and credit card to figure out what’s happening with my money. Well it turns out I was taking out 750 shekel every month a nd moving it to my savings account. So I called and got that rectified and then I transferred money (that wasn’t supposed to be in my saving account) back to my checking account so I wasn’t hurting so bad. Also my checking account/credit card has this terrible idea that rather than listing every individual transaction I make they will lump all money spent in a day together and charge me at the end of the day. (Yes it makes 0 sense) So I have to confront my other demon, finances, and start tracking every single thing I spend and where I spend it or lose my mind. So thats a goal for over the weekend, to get financially organized.

A Tale of Two Homes

This week I’m back in California and it feels nice. At first it felt weird. Over the past 6 months Israel has felt like home, despite me not knowing the language and being confused about banking, I love the life I’m beginning to create in Israel. 

On the other hand being able to see friends, friends that I’ve had for decades, is so nice. It’s so safe and familiar to be with these friends and the same with my family, particularly my cousins. I just love the ease at which we communicate with each other and how most of these folks I still talk to fairly regularly so I don’t miss them so much. I think this has helped my adjustment to Israel, knowing that I have unconditional support from my cousins and my friends here. 

Being in the same time zone as my potential online clients is nice as well. Just in the couple days I’ve been here I’ve connected with other therapists and we talk about building our practices, how we found our passions/specializations, and talked about our hopes and dreams for our businesses. This has made me realize that I need to invest in myself and my business. I have to get rid of the scarcity mindset that plagues me and hijacks my thinking. 

But this blog isn’t about work but about the differences between he two homes.

One of the biggest surprises of this week’s trip was how much my appetite changed just in these short 6 months. Before I made aliyah I could eat endlessly it seemed, loving the feeling I would get when I was full. As I visited people and ate out at restaurants I noticed how large the portion sizes were and that for the most part I couldn’t finish my meals. I also no longer enjoyed the feeling of being stuffed, finding it made me feel uncomfortable and sick. I enjoyed the foods I hadn’t eaten in 6 months, burritos and Thai food, but they also tasted different. In the past I could eat these foods every day but now I was fine just eating there once. This part was the most surprising. 

Another thing I noticed was how much I shifted in terms of the weather. The cloudy mornings I used to love, I was annoyed by, because it was summer and I wanted to wake up to the sun. Also it was truly cold in the morning, and some days stayed cold, which I also didn’t like too much. The last day I was home it rained off and on. I honestly dislike rain the most.

I went to my synagogue and received so much love. One woman walked up to me after services and said I remember you talking abut making aliyah but I didn’t realize you were doing it. This made me laugh. Otherwise I got lost of hugs and smiles. Also it made me realize how much of this I really miss because I haven’t found or looked for a conservative synagogue in Israel. It’s important to me that it’s conservative, not reform or Orthodox, so at this pint I’d rather not attend. But I also think a goal I have by the time summer ends is that I need to find one here in Tel Aviv and find a way to go at least twice a month if not every day shabbat. 

I found myself really missing my home in Israel this week which also surprised me. I enjoyed catching up and going to my synagogue but otherwise I missed my routine, my motivation to write, speaking Hebrew (poorly), my kids from work, my dog, and also the friends I made. That was most surprising. I didn’t realize that in this short amount of time I had made meaningful connections. 

Israel and California could not be more different from each other. I love them both for different reasons but I was surprised by the fact that I missed Israel as much as I did. I want to make aliyah because “it felt right” and my first trip back to the bay area confirmed that Israel really is my home.

Reconnecting with My Dream


I honestly don’t know where to put this because I am all mixed up. This week has felt like hell. Not just because of my banks mix up and the mysterious disappearance of 1,300 shekel but work wise.
The head teacher was gone for a week because her brother was getting married. This meant it was me and a new person working together with my kids. She was with my kids just prior to me starting on and so my boss thought it would be nice to have her back. She isn’t bad but my kids are so attached to me (and also the head teacher) that it has been hard having her do anything for them. Also we are a lot less strict around certain things so it’s kind of hard for them.
As head teacher for the week I needed to teach the class and for a couple days I was in charge of actually planning the lesson not just implementing it like before. To say I’ve hated it is an understatement. I’m so glad I didn’t take the head teaching position. It sounds awful and this week has been awful.
I’ve really not been feeling my job over the course of the past week. I feel unfulfilled but I’m so tired that trying to do any amount of work after work seems daunting. Two things just made me loose it inside. The first was when my boss basically demanded that I work next Tuesday even though its my day off because shes short staffed. She also made me do that this week and I’m not happy. Tuesdays are my days to see clients and I can’t just move at a whim, so I felt frustrated. My bosses husband made the joke “Don’t quit” after his wife made the demand and I said I don’t know. I think for next year her and I will need to have a talk with each other. Then she added me to the group for the 2-3 year old class for next year which means I am not with the same teacher. I feel devastated because I like working with her and I don’t know who this new person is.
This week has really felt crappy. Not because of anything in particular but because I’m bored at work, I really miss doing therapy and being around therapists, and the long days and low pay are starting to impact me. Yesterday as I did some organizing around my apartment, which always makes me feel better, in preparation for the person who will be watching Autumn while I’m home. Normally I’m all about wanting to add this or that to my apartment but as I looked around I felt pretty satisfied with it all. I actually don’t want to glam it all up like I thought when I first moved, I’m happy with the character it has in it’s natural state.
As I walked this morning I reflected about how I want my life to be. I realized that I’d lost sight of this just going through the motions of life. Before I moved I pictured myself waking up, walking Autumn, coming home, taking a shower, drinking a nice cup of tea while sitting on my balcony and eating a nice warm breakfast while reading, and then going off to work. I wanted to slow down. Now I’m at this quick pace all the time and exhausted too. I’m not happy about the momentum and the way life is going for me at the moment.
I have nice sparks, meeting new people, or just hanging with the few friends I have here but really the job front-my career is what I’m really missing. My identity is wrapped up so much in being a therapist. I know people say that you are not what you do but really it is for me. I am not 100% anything but a large pool of what makes me, me, is the work I do helping others. I really love and miss that. My kids, for the most part, have secure attachments. Yes some of the parents need a little bit of help but overall they are good-living parents and their kids are wonderful. But it’s not exciting. I am not using my psychology knowledge here and my role is not to help provide psychoedcuation so it feels boring when your doing it 8 hours a day. Furthermore I really hate having a boss who just dictates to me what to do and I gotta do it. I don’t like that piece where I’m relying on her, in a sense, because she pays me.
I had this thought while walking this morning about my boss and working for someone else. It definitely mirrors our parent-child dynamics to have a boss. They tell you what to do and you gotta do it or face the consequences. If you disagree with them you have to find a way to tell them delicately or else face their wrath and /or consequences. I think the rebel inside me has a hard time with being told what to do so having a boss is frustrating to me, especially when they try to be you friend-it’s like dude we are not equals like that.
So with the hoopla for work I wish I had worked harder at marketing my business before and after I arrived-being tired be damned-because I’m not going to meet my goal of being full by August this year which means I have to stay at my job. The good thing is that I only committed for half a year so I don’t feel so stuck, but I’m tired and I need a break. She asked me if I wanted to do summer camp and I think I will say no. I am just damn tired.
Some more amusing things that have happened this week. I went to the Ma’am office to get my business registered as self-employed. The woman helping me spoke very little English and she didn’t know what a therapist was but some how between my busted Hebrew and her busted english we figured it out. She was super nice and friendly. It also served as motivation for me to get back to learning Hebrew. I thought working at a gan would help my Hebrew but I’m forced to speak English so I constantly stay in an English bubble, only to be slapped upside the head when I try to do any business on my own, that Hebrew is still the language and I need to get on it.
Trying to get my banking situation fixed is causing me so much anxiety. I don’t know what to do about it and how to fix it, just thinking about it makes me want to throw my hands up in the air or bury my head in the sand. I’m hoping my Hebrew speaking friend can help me because I cannot help myself in this situation.
Today I met with two other therapists who’ve made aliyah. One person had a kid client that she introduced me today because she doesn’t see kids. So I met the dad (seems nice) and also the kid, who speaks English at home but preferred to speak Hebrew. He was no different than any other anxious teen and it was nice to fall into something familiar. I’d be anxious that I’d lost something, sine it has been five months since I’ve done therapy, but I hadn’t. It all came back to me and it felt great. Not sure if it will work out but I just felt so sad going home and into the evening because I really have missed being a therapist.
The other is an African-American female who made aliyah and she took a break from therapy but she teaches psychology courses and also does contracting work online for folks in Arizona. She will send me their info in case they have something in California (please say yes). Otherwise we just connected and it’s nice to build community here, it makes Israel feel even more at home. Plus I really want to be making American dollars, I have so many American debts that trying to spend shekels on them feels awful.
So in some ways this week feels really hard and in other words it feels like things are coming together. It’s a surreal feeling. I’m working on blogs and resources for clients as well and that feels really nice, that I feel like I can be available to help people even if they don’t come to me for therapy services. I’m currently working on a piece about mentors and inspiration but it feels really personal and private so I’m torn between wanting to share it and wanting to just keep it to myself and use it as something to keep me going when I’m overwhelmed. I guess we will have to see.