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.