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.

Craziness

I’m usually very bad with titles but not this blog because it’s filled with just pure craziness.
So last I shared with you all I had my fun adventures going around town trying to open my practice or at least making it legit here in Israel. Well that’s still not done because the only day the office stays open late is Tuesday and this past week it happened to fall on a holiday (Yom Ha’atzmaut aka Israel Independence Day) and of course it’s closed on my day off so it will be done this week. I finished a life hanging book called “The One Thing” which is all about how to find your purpose and to make it a priority. So I’ve created a whole new schedule geared toward that and mostly focusing on protecting the time I’ve set aside to focus on my practice. This means using this time to to create stuff such as blogs and resources for my clients, meet with other professionals in order to connect and refer, and finally seeing clients. So far I’ve been tested. Been asked to babysit during one of those times (I’m still on the fence about this) and getting paid late means no food which means I have to switch my shopping day and my time block day. Also I’ve just been flat out tired, not sure why.
So last week after work I went out with two friends from work and we got drinks. I tried this thing called a “spiked lemonana” which is lemonade with mint and vodka. It was so weird tasting but I kind of liked it. Any way it was nice to just sit out in the sun and hang with the ladies. I really don’t do this as much as I would like and I very much enjoy that in just 5 months I’ve managed to make new friends, one from South Africa which is really cool, and to have that connection of being new Olim and working a minimum wage job commonality.

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The crazy guy I went on two dates with attempted to contact me again by reaching out to the friend/hairdresser who introduced us. His stated reason was to apologize to me but since I blocked him he couldn’t contact me so he wanted her to do it. I mean what is this nonesense? We are in our thirties please move on. le sigh*! On the bright side I got a good laugh from it though.
Now the real fun. So the little guy and his brother who I babysit for, I sat for this past Friday. So I was suppose to babysit from 1:30-6:30. So around 6 mom texts and is sorry they are running late but they ran into old friends. Ok no biggie (except in the 8 y/I’d eyes because he wants to have Shabbat dinner with his parents). Any way as the night progresses mom keeps extending the time and is all apologetic. They ended up at a taqueria and then she says they will be right home. She’ll even bring me a burrito on her. Ok fine whatever. So it’s 9:30ish when mom, dad and two other couples come stumbling into the home drunk (in fairness the men were not drunk) and it’s just chaos. I don’t know how those boys slept with the loudness, because there was loud talking and incoherent sentences and I received lots of hugs. And oh yes dear G-d they brought out more booze (this on top of the mixture of wine and margaritas that they all ready had). Then we get a replay of Purim when they tried to order me a taxi and it literally took an hour before they good get one (come to think of it mom was drunk that time too) and so I’m just taking to folks and just watching the hilarity of these drunk women. I wont go into any more details, just in case they happen to stumble upon my blog and get offended (I really do enjoy these parents they are legit the coolest couple I’ve met here so far) but the point, besides the laughing, was that it was a reminder that I need to go out more. I’ll be home in June for a week, there will be some fun times (minus getting drunk, hugging folks, calling someone I’m in the same room with, and damn near passing out on the couch). Then upon my return I plan to integrate more adventures with friends into my life (it can’t be all work).
Then today I’m riding the bus to work (like I do every damn day) and I’m watching this lady sitting across from me. I’m looking at her as she is swaying and closing her eyes looking like shes about to fall asleep. Then she sneezes, except its not a sneeze its vomit and she gets it on the window and on the poor Asian lady in front of her’s hair. The man next to me gets out a packet of baby wipes and we all just calmly move and end up standing. Someone at some point asks her if she is ok and she gets off the bus (at her stop about 10-15 minutes later). I still can’t believe it, like how does one vomit on the bus? If you are motion sick you bring some bags. If your pregnant and you have morning sickness you bring some bags. I’m convinced home girl was drunk from the weekend. I don’t know maybe she hung out with my boys parents and partied after I left Friday.   

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So this weeks conclusions last goals:

1) I need to make more time for the fun stuff
2) I need to make time for self-care (can a sister get her nails done maybe)
3) I need to stay focused on my goals and eventually clients will come

Stories Part 2

You ever just wake up in one of those moods where you feel like everything is going to be ok? Despite waking up every 2 hours last night (thanks Autumn and the weird bad dream I had), I woke two minutes before the alarm was to sound and went on my morning walk. I was feeling that now that I’m into my routine here in Israel it’s time for me to attack my goals.
Now I normally like to attack each goal one by one but as I reflecting last night before bed I can walk and chew gum at the same time. So many of my goals are intertwined that it doesn’t make sense to separate them. The other thing is that I really want to stop worrying so much about my business. No I’m not where I thought I would be or where I’d hoped to be but I think its because i have stayed with and worked a plan. Instead when I don’t see results I try to change it up, which means that every month I’m switching it up. Not helpful.
So today-Business day I decided to go legit. I spent my morning looking at an office that was near the beach. The price is not terrible and I learned two things about he clinic. One: the person who is running it now is a trauma informed acupuncturist (yessss!!!!!) and Two she is meeting wth someone else who may be wanting to rent the space as well and they do trauma informed yoga (double yesss!!!). So we discussed the three of us getting together as it would be a great resource for our clients (me doing the talk and them doing more of the body work). So that had me very excited. As an aside fb shared that me and this woman have someone in common. Of course it would have to be someone I’m very weary of. Yes she knows the teacher at my school who frequently looses her shit. Ididn’t bring it up and I hope it never really comes up.
After looking at the office I went to the bank. I love going to my bank. I have don’t know why I do since I honestly have never have any idea what is going on. I never know if I should be taking a number and waiting in line. I don’t know who deals with what. I just don’t know anything. So I go up to the lady who sits next to my regular teller (my regular teller wasn’t there) and I ask her for help. She then sends me across the room to someone else. She gets my info, tells me to wait, asks me someone questions, then sends me back to the first lady, who is like why did she send you back to me. For some reason I just found this hilarious. I said what the lady said and then shes calling for some other lady and the lady is on her cellphone just chatting away, too busy to help my lady. She tsks and then finds some man, who has helped me I the past. I learn that I must go the tax office and open my business first, then come back to the bank with the sheet of paper and they can open it. Now what this sheet of paper is called I can’t tell you. Now see all of this took about 10 minutes and it makes no sense to me. It reminds me of how little I truly know. For example in the US they have signs, one to open an account or if you need to withdraw money you go over here, etc. But since I can’t read Hebrew I frequently walk around looking like a lost child and I just have to ask people. I have to pray they speak English or I’m still confused. For new Olim I think this part is really a challenge for them and they would be upset with the run around. For me its just more motivation to learn Hebrew and to keep trying to engage in Hebrew, oh and laugh at the women who just look at their coworkers and shake their heads in annoyance.
So after this I made my way to business office people. Yup that’s what I call them because I don’t exactly know what the hell they are called. The ministry of such and such most likely. I do know its in the big building on Menachem Begin street. So I go there and I learn that I need to go somewhere else. So its back on the bus I go, making me thankful for having a Rav Kav (you get unlimited transfer within the hour). So then I get to the tax office and it’s closed on Tuesdays. I really can’t make this shit up lol. After riding for a couples all around Tel Aviv I learn that the office I need is closed on my only day off work. It’s ok though because tomorrow they stay open later so I’ll stop by the ma’am office in order to register as an azmai on m way home from work tomorrow, then Thursday hopefully I can go back to the tax office and open a file. Then sometime next week, hopefully Monday since I’m off early, I can go to the bank and open my business account. 
So I decide to go and finally turn in my one little sheet of paper so I can be covered by my socialist medicine (even still I prolly wont go to the doctor-remember Cammi the bump on my head folks?). So I sit down with someone and the first thing I ask her, which is what I ask everyone I have to do business with is if they speak English. She tells me no! So I’m thinking oh this will be interesting. So we are mostly quiet and she asks me if the address on the paper is the same (in English). I tell her no I live in Tel Aviv now (in English). She asks for my address and I gave it in Hebrew. What? Who knew I could remember how to say the street name, apartment (dira), all in Hebrew. She then proceeds to ask me (in English) if I want the basic plan or Gold). I said basic. So she finishes everything up and then she says all in Hebrew: The telephone number is on the back of the card. They speak English you can call anytime, in the morning, in the evening, at night. If you need to go to the hospital you call the number. Ok?” And I’m sitting there going how the hell did I just understand home girl talking to me all in Hebrew. I mean telephone is telephone and well I do know boker is morning, erev is evening, and lilah is night… but I knew what was going on. It reminds me that when I practice listening I don’t need to translate every single word, just be present and let it all wash over me.
Other wins for today/the week:
1. Riding on the bus I was able to read all the street names that flashed to tell what stops were coming up on the bus.
2. After working for a week as head teacher while my head teacher was away I got a big hug from one of the moms who thanked me for everything. She also sent me a thank you in the group message and the other parents thanked me as well.
3. I got a call from a potential client-it’s looking like a good fit but just not at this moment. Another person looking for a black therapist. I need to focus on this.
4. I signed up for 30 day self-care challenge so I plan to do this Starting in May.
5. Apart of the self care will be reading more-I joined an online book club for trauma therapists.
6. Not caving in and putting in to buy my boss a gift
7. I am going to get a bed-finally no more sleeping on the couch.
8. Part of self care will be cooking more. I was bummed that I couldn’t buy a printer with my gift card (thank you parents) but I will use it to add a little more to the apartment, with a focus on the kitchen. I plan to play around with some home made fun salad dressings
9. Special shoutout to the woman on YouTube who posts softball games so I can catch up-so excited for the Women’s College World Series.
10. I’m coming home in a month.
Until next time…

Stories

Sorry y’all I’ve been absent and really there is no reason why other than the days being just about the same. 5 days a week I wake up at 4:30, walk my dog, return home, shower, get on the bus, go to work, work at 8 and leave at 4:30, get on the bus, go home, walk my dog, eat some dinner, and go to bed. Tuesdays are dedicated to my business, to therapy and networking. Saturdays I walk my dog an do a little work for business, catch up on sleep, and then go back to bed. Oh yes I’m living the life (insert sarcastic laughter now). It’s been like this since I moved to Tel Aviv. There have been some times here and there were I’ve had some fun in my life. I have reached out to therapists here in Tel Aviv and now I have two new friends. One friend and I will be hanging out on my next day off (wahoo) and the other we will be talking about starting to run therapy groups together (yay). I’m also looking at an office space and finally going to some building on Menachem Begin to set up my business in Israel. I also did my taxes (still traumatized so we are not talking about it). I went to the cafe with my friend of ten years and she helped me with a (failed) fb ad campaign and we talked a little about her wedding (so exciting-not sarcasm). 

The only amusement I’ve had since I’ve arrived is not being able to shake a man I went on two dates with (we had no chemistry and dear G-d he was a little to creepy for me) and getting my hair done and visiting the city of Hadera (very cute). Just a note of advice ladies: always trust your gut!! If you think someone is weird or there is just something “off” about a man then take head and say goodbye. Don’t even do the “maybe we can be friends” because these types of dudes take it to another level. 

So this explains my absence. Life has become routine here. The magic has not warn off, especially since I still feel like I’m moving through Israel like a toddler (every day I see or learn something new), but I don’t have to many wow moments any more. So in the spirit of this I’d like to share some stories of the things that I’ve seen here, so you wont feel like you just read a boring as blog. 

The week of Pesach I did not work, but I baby sat two times. I babysit the cutest little guy every and his 8 y/o brother. I also thoroughly enjoy his parents, and if I ever stop making minimum wage I would hire his mom to be my personal trainer just as an excuse to hang out because she’s freakin cool. So during the babysitting there were two boys there, one who was like 6 or 7 and the other maybe around 9.There parent was not around. These boys were awful. The little guy I baby sit for aka the cutest little guy ever is only 1 and a half and the 6/7 y/o boy was trying to hurt him.So I had to yell Di (enough in Hebrew) and lo (no in Hebrew) for him to stop. Side note I really need to get my Hebrew on par because I needed to tell him more. Then the two boys with no parents just kept fighting each other. After being there for an hour their dad came in and it was calm for about 5 minutes. Then the 6/7 y/o hurt the 9 y/o and the 9y/o started to cry. So do you think the dad went and hugged his crying son and then disciplined the 6/7 y/o? The answer is no. What he did do, because the 9 y/o started hitting the 6/7 y/o the father actually grabbed the 6/7 y/o by his ear, threw him to the ground, and kicked him. Now we are at the Gymboree and no one has shoes on and it wasn’t particularly hard the kick but it was the message behind it all. For the whole hour before these boys were out of control fighting and the little one tried to hit me and the cutest kid little guy ever (the 8 y/o is the sweetest kid ever and he could handle his own). I got it all on video because it was so disturbing. 

Yesterday (Friday) I woke up to a text message from two coworkers. They created a group chat about my bosses birthday. So they stated that they wanted to do a Stars Wars theme for her and everyone would have to put in 28 shekels and then do something else. I didn’t read it all because it made me mad. Why the hell should I buy my boss a birthday present? You know who I buy presents for? Loved ones! And I can tell you with complete confidence she is not a loved one. She attempted to friend request me on fb and she got the block. I’m sure she is a nice woman but we are not friends-this is an employer employee relationship. So I called my mother (hey mama) as I walked my dog to the beach and basically talked her ear off about why I wasn’t doing this. Might I also add that I make minimum wage (35 shekel an hour) and I’m all ready not getting paid for a weeks worth of work because of vacation. So now I’m not putting in an hours worth of work into a present for my boss. Now I’ll sign a card. And while I’m on this, do men do this shit? I mean really men do you decide your going to buy your boss a gift and then expect your coworkers to put in money for it? I need to know, because I’ve never met a man who would do this. 

Also happened yesterday at work is one of the head teachers for the other class losing her shit (which she pretty much does once a month as far as I can tell) about some bubbles. So I’m head teacher (insert sarcastic yay) while my head teacher is in the States. So my kid are outside (this is Thursday) and here comes the head teacher who loses her shit “Jess here are some bubbles“. Now let me share that I never asked her or stated I’m looking for bubbles so I said ok thanks. I blew a few and then I went to take a child to the bathroom. My assistant I gave her the bubbles and she could have at it. So the day finishes and I notice the bubbles were gone so I toss the container in the garbage. So fast forward to yesterday and teacher who loses her shit says “Jessica do you have the bubbles”. And I said “yeah they are all gone”. She goes (voice raising) “What? How do you go through a whole thing of bubbles.” I said “I gave them to (assistants name) and she used them with the kids.” So she says (voice still raised) “I lent them to you and when I let you borrow something I expect it back”. She then turns to my poor assistant, who came in feeling sick, and yells at her “How could you go through a whole thing of bubbles? I got those from Greece…”. So of course I apologize to my assistant and now I feel bad for home girl because she is going to be working with her next school year. 

3bubble wand

Said bubbles looked like this but in yellow

If they told me I would work with her next year I would quit-lol. Now I might add this is not the first time that she has lost her shit (hence her name is the teacher who lost her shit). She once yelled at me randomly because papers from child’s party had fallen off the wall in the side yard and they were on the ground and she “was tired of picking up after our class”. Now that one you can blame on my head teacher haha. But let me tell you I do not send my kids to that yard when I am head teacher because she is just yells all the time. And the interesting thing was that When she yelled yesterday I was holding one very sleepy and whiny child (who I love oh so much). So teacher who loses her shit yells and my poor child puts her head up and looks terrified. So of course I stayed calm, because if you yell at me I’m ready to box, but I had the baby so my heart needed to be a steady calm (that’s a child therapist for you there) and I handled her. But really she is so inappropriate. I also know, because I overhear these people talking all the time, that she feels stressed at home and she has a very small support system, so she becomes easily triggered at work when those feelings come up (like people not helping her or people taking advantage of her).

Also yesterday I’m on the crowded gotta get home before the buses stop running for shabbat bus and I sit across from some weird man. Well I suddenly see a cockroach crawling up his leg and I’m thinking how gross this is and I should say something and then this fool begins to pick his nose. Just sticks his fingers up there and wait for the best part. He then flings the contents almost hitting the guy sitting in the set across the aisle from him. So I just stare at him as he keeps picking his nose and getting rid of the contents around him. I’m telling you this is why you gotta stay aware of your surroundings because you might get boogers flinged on you or you might end up taking a cockroach home with you. 

Lastly I attempted to buy a bed (finally) but it was a fail because I didn’t have enough credit left on my credit card. The lady attempted to explain it all but hell I don’t know what the hell she was talking about. So when I go to the store to tell them never mind the guy was very persistent with the sale and also not happy that I was saying take it all off. I’m like I’ll come back in May (after pay day) to just buy it outright but he was having none of it. I was too tired to argue so I said fine whatever-so now I’ve bought a mattress and I’m looking for a frame so the mattress doesn’t have to be on the floor. 

So because this blog deserves a little ending which also serves as y’all holding me accountable for things that I need to do. 

#1 learn Hebrew. At this moment I don’t have time or energy for Ulsan but I would like to start after the high holy days in the fall. In the meantime its going to be a lot of listening to music, watching tv, attempting conversations, and just learning key phrases. 

#2 my practice. I have to get clients and get my own office. I have found that my ultimate dream would be to have my own clinic for english speakers looking for mental health support here in Tel Aviv. It’s so hard for English speakers to get treatment from native English speakers and the insurance doesn’t help so I would like to create something large to fill this gap. I also really want to do consultations at pre-school, man I would love to help the teachers at my job be less stressed, learn how to regulate themselves, stopping being disrespectful to assistants, and understand child development. I also feel like my boss needs a little help in this area too. 

#3 I want to see every city in Israel and have a friend in every city. 

#4 kind of ties with #3 and that’s to just have more fun in my life. The weather is getting nicer and Jaffa is right here. Tel Aviv is a cool city where you can take your dog everywhere so I want to walk around more with her and just sit and relax. Read a book. Drink some tea or limonana (aka mint and lemonade). 

#5 I’m hitting that dating scene (but please G-d! No more crazies). 

So until next time my friends…

3 Month Aliyahversary

3 month aliyahversary .JPGThat’s right folks it’s been three months and I’m not disillusioned…yet! I’m feeling pretty inspired actually. Yesterday, my day off from the  Gan which is my private practice day (Side hustle Tuesday folks) I met with an MFT here in Tel Aviv. As we talked she shared all the wisdom she has gathered in her short time practicing here and it has inspired me to focus on getting clients here in Tel Aviv. Up to now I’ve been focusing on getting California clients and it has not paid off. As we did therapy talk I became rejuvenated in a way I haven’t felt since I arrived. I love the kids at my gan and the familiarity of the place is nice but really it’s not my passion. As we walked to Habima square it was “Good Deeds” day and we chatted with a woman named Efrat (my hebrew tutors name which made me smile warmly) and she told me she was going to Silicon Valley to visit her sister over Pesach. (An aside she also wanted to adopt me and bring me something back from the states-until you move abroad you don’t know the excitement of getting your favorite home country delicassies-I’m still jonesing for Cheez-its). Any way she asked about what we did, which my new friend replied that we were therapists, and we chatted about this (the different services in the area and she gave me her card so I can reach out to her as well). This got me thinking about how I have been failing at marketing myself since I arrived (and really I don’t know why). When people ask me what I do I usually say that I am an assistant teacher at a gan but I should actually be saying that I’m a therapist and I work with trauma survivors. Since Pesach is in just 2 weeks I need to get myself an office ASAP so that I can spend my week off networking.  Continue reading

Week 13

This week has been pretty good for me. First off I wrote an amazing blog which I am very proud of, discussing sexual abuse in the African-American community. It has inspired me to focus my practice on African-American female child sexual abuse survivors. I have been feeling very settled in my apartment and neighborhood despite it still being very lightly furnished and I have not had the time or energy to paint so it’s a mess…but it’s my mess. I’ve been diligent about staying on a budget but tracking my expenses when I get paid once a month is very hard. I’m also still paying off stuff in the US so that also really sucks. I had hoped that my practice would’ve taken off by now so I can use that money for my US expenses but it hasn’t…and you know what that’s ok. I was listening to a podcast, The Abundance Podcast, which is by a therapist and business coach. She had a wonderful woman on there named Rajani Ventrakaman-Levis  who said something that has stuck in my head for the past week. She said something to the effect that sometimes the universe gives us what we can handle. We may think we want or need something at a particular time but it may not actually be the right time. About a week before that my friend from work, who I ride the bus with sometimes said to me “Give yourself a break. You’ve only been here three months and look at what you’ve accomplished”. I’ve literally been sitting with these two statements for the past couple days. Of course I wanted to have a full time practice and be back financially where I was when I lived in California but:

  1. This is not California
  2. I’m still new and learning about how everything works
  3. I’d be exhausted and maybe not be doing as good of a job as I usually do

So taking these statements into heart I have given myself a break. I’m giving myself more time to grow my practice and meet people. After the podcast I sent an email to Rajani and she invited me to join her online consult group for minority women. (Interestingly the first meeting would be on Wednesday but I had plans so I wouldn’t be able to join. I message my friend who I was suppose to meet that Wednesday and she had to cancel so now I get to join the consult group. I’m excited to connect with other therapists of color). I’ve also set up other meetings with therapists. I had one last week online and enjoyed it. I have another next Tuesday with an MFT here in Tel Aviv and a week after that I’m meeting with a psychologist here in Tel Aviv. So I’m excited about building my therapist community all over again. I really miss some of the folks i worked with before, my friend whose an OT, my friend who does 0-5 mental health, and my marketing group. But it’s also exciting to branch out and meet other people as well. 

My boss at the nursery school I work at asked me what my plans are for the next school year. I told her I  didn’t know. I didn’t go into details about why I didn’t know-my hopes for having a full time practice by August and being my own boss. So she told me about the different pops out ties which are available. I could stay as an assistant there and work with my same teacher or go to another class. She also mentioned that a head teacher for the littles at the second school is going on maternity and that’s an option too if I wanted to do teaching. So I went on about my day with some thinking about the different roles. I just knew teaching wasn’t for me and I didn’t really want to go to the second school. I’m not familiar with it and I like the comfort of where I am. I know the people and the bus route. I know the system, the kids and the parents. But the following day I went into work and my boss pulls me aside and basically tells me she really wants me at the second school. She likes my professionalism, that I’m older and that i have a masters degree. She tells me the pay is 5 shekel and hour more (so not a whole lot different) and we could start the training now. So now I’m thinking about doing this. I’m still setting up for my practice and it will take time. In the meantime I can continue working like I am at the nursery school, get the consistent paycheck and meet with parents. A bonus is that I’ve all ready been asked to babysit for a family and to me it’s not so much about the babysitting as it’s about the parents trusting me and feeling confident leaving their children in my care which means the most to me. As a therapist and a (assistant) teacher at this school that’s what matters to me. At the same time a coworker was telling me about their autisitc son and not liking the therapist who is currently working with him and the family. She wanted to hire me she was so fed up. Now I don’t do autism but it’s a reminder that there is a niche out here. Native English speakers who want other native English speakers to help them. 

So this week feels really nice. It feels good to have hard work appreciated and noticed by others. It’s a good feeling after a long day to know that it’s meaningful to the people around me and the families who trust me. My love and my passion will always be therapy, trauma healing really, but until that takes off this will be good. The bonus is that the position is only nail February of next year so it gives me the time that iI might need to reach my goal, while also making the time commitment more manageable. 

The other big thing was going to my friends house and picking up the rest of my belongings. Now if i could recommend anything to someone making aliyah-if you decide that you want to make a pilot trip pack a bag of stuff you’ll want and then leave it at your friends house. I packed a computer, clothes, shoes, lotions, etc and I actually had forgotten exactly what I had left but when i picked up my stuff and went through it I was so happy to discover all the nice things I still had and it actually made my new apartment feel even more like home.

Other little wins for the week: frying chicken, finding canned corn just like what I had back home as a kid, successfully navigating the post office for the first time (I still don’t quiet understand the Israeli postal system since there are no mailboxes where I can just drop stuff off while walking Autumn), finding chicken patties, watermelon season, my gaming computer and the resurgence of playing sims 3 in my down time, finding a tea shop by my house and discovering hibiscus tea and fresh peach tea, buying two cute purple bowls so now I don’t have to only eat out of Tupperware, my second babysitting gig this month with my little guy from the school, finding cheetos, and being able to talk with my family as they celebrated my cousins birthday and feeling like I’m still apart of it all even from halfway around the world.

So as I near the 3 month mark of my aliyah I’m feeling reflective. I had so many goals and things I wanted to accomplish and I’m hoping it will happen soon…or at least in the time that is right. I’m feeling so a home right now in a very different way from California. I talk to my friends and family so regularly that its like I’m still there (therefore i don’t miss them). I do miss my car and the ease of getting around but on the bus i get so many things accomplished. As an aside I’ve seen cockroaches 3 times this month on the bus and in a weird way it’s helping me get over my fear of them (I also see them outside), so that’s a weird win. As I continue to settle I am beginning to create a schedule. I’ve failed on my 30 day blog challenge opting instead to go back to blogging for work once a week and also doing this blog once a week.I want to start doing yoga again but as I’m still a struggling immigrant I’m going to be doing it at home using YouTube videos so that will start this next week. I’m also increasing Autumn’s walk from 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes so we can maybe get in about 3.5 miles. Oh and at some point I need to get my hair done. I have the week off for Pesach so that seems like a good time to schedule something. Until next week.

Feeling Settled: Week 12

So It’s been a week and a half since I moved into my apartment and I’m loving it. It was very trying the day I had to move. I attempted to rent a car but was unable too which mean that I had to hail a taxi. So me Autumn and all 6 bags piled into a taxi and luckily it wasn’t too expensive it was just stressful. Autumn does not like the car and she has a hard time with change. The first couple days in the new apartment she barked and cried when I left. I felt horrible form neighbors. But she is feeling more settled. When I leave she tries to come with me and she cries for about 10 seconds and then she’s all good. I no longer hear her down the block.

My neighborhood is pretty colorful. If you google Hatikva neighborhood in Tel Aviv it says “a working class neighborhood…” and that’s what it is. It’s a mix of Africans, Asians, Sephardic, Ethiopian, and Russian jews. There are a lot of families and not many people who speak English. My bus ride to work is about an hour because I’m literally going between the two ends of Tel Aviv (from the very south to the very north oft he city), but at least I don’t have to transfer bus lines. 

The best part of my commute is that I get to spend the time reading. I started reading Bessel Van der Kolk’s book “the Body Keeps the Score” and it’s amazing. IT has reminded me of my passion-complex trauma and my desire to jump back into therapy. It’s very hard to focus on building my practice when I work full time because I feel so tired afterwork, but I know that I have to dedicate myself to building because it’s important to me. IMG_7366.JPG


Lately I’ve been very reflective-I have been dreaming of having my own apartment again and as I came home, cleaned out my lunch bag and washed dishes I began to smile thinking about how far I’ve come. Sometimes I’m in awe that I just packed up and moved and that things have fallen into place. I’m starting to make a couple friends at work which is nice. Autumn feels safe and settled here and now I need to find her some dog friends. I have bought some cute used furniture to go in my new apartment (a desk, a microwave, a toaster oven, a washing machine and dryer) and the only two new things I’ve bought have been my purple couch (which has a bottom part that turns into a bed) and a water filter that does hot and cold water (so when they come to install it I will no longer have to boil a pot of water on the stove top). 

Now even though I love my apartment-it needs a lot of work. I’ve decided to turn part of the apartment into a little office space where I can see my clients online. So I’m wanting to paint the apartment. I know the office part and the bedroom will be purple and the kitchen, bathroom and living room will be a green-blue color. 

So all in all I’m feeling settled in a new and different way than I have felt before. As I walk through my neighborhood or walk Autumn around beautiful Menachem Begin Park daily I feel a sense of home and calm. I feel like everything I want to accomplish is possible…starting with this 30 day blogging challenge I will do to promote online therapy (by me) for adult complex trauma survivors. I also want to start doing a new morning routine than the one I had before. When i lived in Jerusalem I woke up at 4am to walk Autumn, then I would jet off to work. I continued doing the same thing (except I was getting up at 5 am. Starting today I’m getting up again at 4 am to do some writing, and some yoga, before walking Autumn and jetting off to work. We will see how these two things go for me over the course of the next week.