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.

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.

Autumn’s First Week

autumnNo one tells you how hard making aliyah with you dog is. I’m not talking about the expense of getting vaccines and health certificates nor am I talking about the plane ride which is a challenge in and of itself. I’m talking about when your settled in your apartment/relative/friends house and your dog is confused and in distress. With this confusion and distress comes separation anxiety. My Autumn was all ready a little prone to this but it has seemed to multiple with our arrival to our new home. 

Those first 12 hours: We arrived late on Wednesday to the new temporary home. I unpacked all my stuff in the room and let Autumn wander around the home. I went to bed around midnight and then woke up around 2 because I could not sleep. Around 3:30 I walked her and then got ready for my interview in Tel Aviv. When I left her at 10 minutes to 5 am she barked and whined so loud I could hear her from the street. I later learned that she barked for about half an hour and then she was quiet and calm. As I spent the following day home, exhausted, she followed me from room to room. When the home owners returned she had to learn the rules. No bedroom and no kitchen (this one is more lax). The other we discovered was she needed to be put away while guests were over for dinner. Very good choice since she is a food thief but extremely hard for both her and I. 

I looked online about how to stop the barking and crying when I leave. I have been implementing them during the day, practicing leaving for short periods of time and not giving her any excited emotional attention when I leave nor when I return. So far it has not fazed her. She continues to cry and whine when I leave, although during dinner she made it about 20 minutes without making any noice (she had a large tree to attend too). Unfortunately this has not stuck and I am at a loss as to what to do.

I became incredibly tearful with the stress and pressure of trying to pacify my dog, who I love and I know she’s afraid and confused, while also being a good house guest and trying to make keep the home quiet and peaceful. To add insult to injury so far Autumn is not a fan of the family dog. She seemed scared by him even though he only wanted to play with her. So he has been confined to the bedroom of one of the kids which he does not like. I felt that Autumn should be confined as well and I thought it would be easier if she remained in the room we have been staying in while we ate dinner and my hope would be for when I leave for work Monday. 

So due to my anxiety and feeling like I needed to do something I started watching Cesar Milan videos. I watched one on Separation anxiety. He talked about exuding confidence when giving command to your dog as well as making sure your dog is nice and tired as well as in a calm state when you leave. So later in the day when the house was relatively quiet I practice with Autumn. I took her for a walk and then I waited for her to be laying quietly on the bed. I got my jacket and my purse and I sat on the bed. Just like in the video as I move Autumn watched me with her ears back looking confused. But she then laid back down.This is when I left. I stepped out, telling her in a calm confident voice to stay and that I would be back. I left the room and walked a little bit down the stairs to hear if she made noise. She made a little noise but then she was quiet.I repeated this a couple of times before stopping. 

So the following day was the true test when I left the house for work. I walked her for an hour and then left at 5:30 am for work. She stayed in the bed calmly when I left and I didn’t hear a peep as I left the house. When I spoke to the family that evening (12 hours later) I learned she did not make a noise at all. The second day of work was the same thing and I felt that we had mastered the Separation Anxiety. 

 Other things that I noticed in Autumn which let me know she was in distress:

+Throwing up blood (once and could be because she found something on the ground to eat)

+Bloody poop (same as above)

+Lack of Appetite-eating once a day

+Refusing treats

+Increased Thirst

+Very quiet-she’s a vocal dog usually

+Trouble sleeping during the night and wanting to go to the bathroom all night

A full week after our arrival Autumn was back to her normal self. She was back to eating twice a day and she would make noise when it was time to eat. Her bathroom habits were good and she was sleeping through the night. 

So that has been Autumn’s first week. Unfortunately due to my host family having their children back in town Autumn and I are staying the weekend at the downstairs neighbors house.I’ll create a separate blog about this experience.

Saying Goodbye

It didn’t hit me until after I dropped Autumn off at the Oversized baggage area.

On Sunday morning I left my home and my siblings in Berkeley. I packed my bags into my car (my back was killing me) and headed off to my cousins house in Manteca. Due to some last minute logistics (lots of hugs and tears, as well as cancelling of Directv). We left about two hours after I had planned (it was 11:15 when we hit the road) and it was awful. I-5 sucks when everyone is driving home from the bay area. So Instead of it taking 4 hours it took about 8 hours. Everyone in the car was miserable. Autumn did amazing though, only whining a few times when the car slowed down.

By the time we go to the hotel (at around 8) we were all tired. My cousin got food, I took autumn to the bathroom and put the pajamas on. I felt anxious though about the following day-my aliyah day. I was worried forAutumn. I was worried for myself and carrying these bags by myself.

Autumn did not like the hotel. Every time  people got loud (running up and down the hall way) she would bark-so loud and aggressively, scaring us half to death (because we were sleeping). She did this 3 times during the night. Autumn has been in hotels before and she did well. I think the stress of driving to LA and saying goodbye might have also affected her behavior.

My alarm sounded at 6 am but I was tired and she was sleeping so I went back to bed…Well the barking woke me 15 minutes later so we were off for our walk. Autumn hated it-she did not want to go for a walk. She kept pulling to go back to the hotel but I knew I needed her to be tired. I also was very anxious about taking her to the airport and he woke process because I didn’t know what to expect or how to manage all by myself. I also know Autumn has separation anxiety and I feared she would make so much noise because she was in distress. The good thing about walking during that time was that I was able to come up with a plan to deal with Autumn and the bags at the airport and that was very regulating. I then spoke to my mom while we both walked and that was nice too.

Upon return Autumn did not eat. She also didn’t really eat the night before either which was concerning. (When I say she didn’t eat I meant she didn’t eat her dog food but she was about that Panda Express. She was very thirsty though. But knowing she had a fourteen hour flight plus her wait time (3 hours) she wouldn’t have a chance to use the bathroom so I let her drink her water cutting her off at 8:45.

Well we headed to the airport and I initially tried to check Autumn first but that did not work. I had to call my cousin back so I could get my bags, then pay the bell guy to bring the stuff in and then go through the line. This part was the part I had been dreading the whole time. Being alone with all my stuff and Autumn. I had this feeling of not knowing anything and it was so disconcerting. I also was anxious because my bags were heavy, which I knew and I had hoped that they wouldn’t charge me because some bags were heavier than others.

After passing through the security screening (he asked about my aliyah and the process of making aliyah. They asked me about my Hebrew name and other stuff). I went to the scales to weigh it all. Well Two bags were too heavy, with one being entirely too heavy that I’d have to chuck stuff. Well I panicked on the inside. I mean I had meticulously packed my bags and this was all the stuff I wanted that I could bring. I couldn’t afford to pay the extra money for the two heavy bags ($100) each plus Autumn ($200).

The man was very helpful though. He was like listen you have this small carryon here. go over there get a cheap bag at the store and take stuff out. I’ll let you have this extra carry on (so that would be three bags including this bag, backpack, and purse). So they let me leave my bags, I walked Autumn outside where she used the bathroom again, and I bought a new duffle bag for ($40). I then walked back over and sat on the ground rearranging stuff. In the end I gave up my laptop bag, a roll of  garbage bags, two old notebooks, my purple stappler, my purple tape dispenser and my huge bag of markers which included my favorite scissors. Some bags were slightly over but with all that commotion they had to take my bags because it was loading time.

With relief I paid the extra $100 for the one heavy bag and the $200 for Autumn. After they took the bags I walked Autumn over to the oversizeded baggage area where her kennel with through secuity, before she hoped in with her treat and we said goodbye.

As I walked away it hit me. All the avoidance and one track mind of getting to the airport was over. I had nothing to distract my feelings any more. I felt the tears well up as I mounted that escalator and looked around at sunny Los Angeles through the windows. California, my home. Where my family and friends are. PeopleI’ve known for my whole life or for large portions of my life. People who I could quote inside jokes or rap songs from my childhood with. The loss of everything that was familiar to the unknown where nothing is familiar. I didn’t hear Autumn at all as I left and yet I felt her loss as I left her. Like she was my last little bit that was tethering me to my life in California.

I had thoughts of turning around and “escaping”. Literally that’s howI felt like if I left an dissed my flightI was on the run or something. Because the drama of the bags I didn’t have a chance to sit. I got some good (I hadn’t even all day and it was 1pm). I walked through the airport to my terminal to catch the bus to get to the airplane. I continued to feel this heavy weight that I could not explain. As I sat in my seat watching them drive the bags and things over, wondering which one was Autumn in, I continued to feel that sense of loss. Saying goodbye was so hard. I no longer had any distractions because I was on the plane. We were doing it.

A young woman sat next to me and she began to talk to me. She was on her birthright trip with her brother. She had not heard about aliyah and I talked about it. Her mother is a Marriage and Family Therapist like me and she is transitioning to online counseling like me. the young woman works with human trafficking survivors and wants to go to law school where she can do human rights law and change policy with regards to how we treat victims of exploitation. We chit chatted and that heaviness began to dissipate. Those tears and feeling sob anxiety and loss were replaced by the awe of what I am embarking on. There is so much healing that needs to happen in this world and I get to still do it, while I also get to be in my spiritual home. I realized that the thing that makes this experience so great is that all the things I wanted for myself, interpersonally I will get to do. I want to get out of my comfort zone. Done! I don’t like talking to strangers yet I want to meet knew people and enjoy those platonic relationships with people who are different (and similar in ways) to myself. I will do that since I will be forced to make ew friends and new colleagues. I want to take risks and see the world. I want to have my on business as a therapist. I want to learn Hebrew and Arabic and whatever other language I encounter. Mostly I want a do over. I constantly say to myself that if I knew what I know now I would’ve done_________. As I threw away stuff from my bag I kept thinking your doing it all over. Your starting from the bottom again but this time with a different knowledge base and skill set.

Autumn makes Aliyah Part 3

I decided to dedicate this part to the part I found the hardest and that was having all my luggage and Autumn. I arrived at LAX around 10. Initially I wanted to arrive around 9:30 but that didn’t happen. 

So I arrived and walked with Autumn so she could use the bathroom. We then walked into the airport and I asked if I could check her in first but they wanted me to do it with all my luggage. So my cousin had to come back and I found a “bellboy” to get my bags out of the car. He told me that they were too heavy and that I would most likely have to take stuff out. I wish I had listened and my cousin could have taken the stuff back with her in my car. Any way I was able to walk with Autumn on her leash while the cart was pushed ahead. I waited in line and surprisingly Autumn did really well. She was definitely confused and stayed close by me. 

The security guard asks me questions and then I move to the weigh station. My bags were too heavy and so I had to deal with that. This whole process took about two hours and the whole time Autumn was really good. She only cried a little but really people loved her and my fear that people would look at me and judge me was gone. 

After getting the bags situated I then had to take autumn to the oversized baggage area where the separate security would check her Kennel and then Autumn would go with them. OF course she passed and I put her in a long with her treat. I didn’t say goodbye or anything because I didn’t want to make her more upset and anxious. 

I was really anxious about bringing my dog Autumn on the plane because she has a little separation anxiety and I didn’t want her losing her shit aka barking loudly and whining incessantly. Amplfying my nervous was that I didn’t really know what to expect with it all. I had googled stuff but nothing went into the type of detail I needed. So I want to be able to provide that for you-the person wanting to make aliyah with your dog. 

First: You will get to the airport and you will need all of your bags with you. My advice out the kennel on the cart with your bags and then walk with your dog on the leash. before entering the airport let the baby use the bathroom. 

Second: You go through the line like usual and then your stuff gets weighed. If your bags are all good your dog gets weighed and then you will pay for her.

Third: You will walk over, with your dog, carry-ons and the kennel to the oversized bagged section. At Lax it was a smaller area that was walled off with a large conveyor belt which your dog will go on after they are done. The security guard came over and checks the kennel for any residue using those chemical strips (sorry I don’t know the name). They don’t take your kennel apart. After you pass that you put your dog in the kennel and lock it up. 

Fourth: You say goodbye and walk away while the airport folks take your dog and put her on the belt so she can go down to the plane. 

Tips that I found really helped and I think made everything smoother for Autumn. 

#1: walk your dog and make them tired. Autumn did almost 6 miles and combined with the anxiety of not knowing what will happen and lack of sleep she was exhausted. 

#2 Feed your dog well before you leave. I fed Autumn about two hours before and I got to the airport three hours early so I was able to take her to the bathroom twice (the second time she went poo, on her walk she also pooed). 

#3 Walk with your dog in the airport while everything is getting ready. For Autumn it was all overwhelming and confusing so she stayed close to me and was quiet. She also got attention from people who talked to her and petted her. I think this helped her stay calm too because she wasn’t all alone in her kennel. 

#4 Have a really big treat for your baby in their kennel. When you say goodbye you can give them a treat and say goodbye calmly. Because they will be distracted they wont be as upset to see you leaving. 

Now of course these tips worked for me because my dog has horrible separation anxiety which leads to very loud barking and whining. This only happens in a place she’s unfamiliar with (not at home) so I was nervous that Autumn would melt down in the airport. She didn’t and that helped a lot. 

Autumn makes Aliyah: Part 2

Look at all the work I needed to do and that I was able to complete. 

Preparation before the flight: Checking off the pre aliyah checklist. 

NBN gives you a pre aliyah checklist for those making aliyah with their dog from the US. If your from another country your requirements may be different But below are mine. Man was it overwhelming at first. 

Health Certificate-this is done at your vet. they do a check up and fill out the form. At my vet the check up was $86 and for them to fill out the form was over $100. 

USDA Certified vets/CFIA certified vets-after I drove to Sacramento to my local USDA office. They checked the paperwork the vet submitted, including the rabies vaccine, tither test, microchip, and health ceritifcate. for them to endorse all this they charged me $121. If the rabies wasn’t involved it would’ve been $38. Smh my dog is expensive…but she is all done. 

EL AL-Impt info that I used to dot my i’s and cross my t’s. 

Pre-Aliyah Checklist

  • Health Requirements: 
    • Rabies Vaccination: Admin w/in 1 year but no less than a month prior to arrival 
      • My plan: Aliyah in December 2016—Rabies Vaccine done in June/July I did this due to fear of a reaction of IMHA)
      • Rabies Serological (Titer Test) is done after the Rabbies vaccine. This test measures he levels of rabies antibodies in your fur baby. 
        • Positive results are required prior to the completion of the health certificate. 
        • The results of the test must be obtained from an authorized laboratory. They need to show that your pet is responding to the rabies vaccine and that it is producing a sufficient level of antibodies.
        • Obtaining the results of the rabies serological test may take anywhere from 1-3 months depending on the lab in your area.
        • If your pet fails the test, another rabies vaccine will need to be administered and your pet will need to be retested a month later.
        • Once your pet has passed the Rabies serological test it is good for life if you have the results officially documented.
      • After receiving the vaccine get a copy of International Certificate of Rabies Vaccine issued by your veterinarian. 
      • Confirm how to obtain endorsement with your regional USDA/CFIA Branch ahead.  Make appointment if necessary 
        • David Ewey, Director
        • 916‐854‐3960
        • 10365 Old Placerville Rd, Suite 210 Sacramento, CA 95827
  • MicroChip/Electronic Chip Requirements (I used this site) I bought it on July 21, Wednesday and received it in earl August—-
    • Regulations require that the chip transmits on a frequency of 134.2 Kilohertz and can be read with a chip reader that conforms to the provisions of the ISO standard No. 11784 or of Annex A of ISO Standard 11785.
      • If the chip does not conform to these standards, the importer or the importer’s representative is required to be in possession of another means to read it. This is not the standard chip used in the United States.
      • Before getting your pet chipped, verify that your veterinarian is implanting the correct model. If not, you may be required to have your pet chipped again within five days of arriving in Israel.
      • If your vet does not carry them, ask if he/she can order it, or if he/she would be comfortable implanting the chip if you order it online. The chip is available for purchase on some pet websites.
    • At least a week prior to your pet’s flight (earlier is better)
  • Kennel Restrictions
  • Cost of Flying with Pets
    • The cost of carrying a pet is based on the weight of the animal + carrying container + its food

•Prices apply to animals accompanying a passenger on the same flight

•Payment can be made at the EL AL cash desk at the airport or at any EL AL branch

•The payment for carrying pets is made separately.  In other words, it is not included as part of the permitted baggage allowance

•If there any connection flights with other airlines, payment must be arranged directly with the other airline

For an animal weighing up to 8 kg. – $100 in each direction.

For an animal weighing from 9-50 kg. – $200 in each direction.

For an animal weighing from 51-100 kg. – $400 in each direction.

Animals weighing over 100 kg. will be handled by EL AL Cargo (03-9716679).

Procedure for booking flights for animals

•All requests to carry animals accompanied by passengers in the cabin must be submitted to EL AL’s Reservations office, indicating the pet’s weight including its container and the container’s dimensions

•The Service Call Center will confirm receipt of the booking to the relevant travel agency

Required Documents

•All animals approved for carriage must have vaccination certificates and entry permits from the relevant authorities in transit and final destinations

•Carriage of animals to Israel:  dogs, cats and birds (more than 2 of each kind) and other animals, arriving with or without their owners, must have a veterinary import permit, issued by the head of the Veterinary Service

•Address: Ministry of Agriculture, POB B-12, Beit Dagan 50250, Israel

•Telephone: +972-3-9688986

•Fax: +972-3-9688963

•Ministry of Agriculture website: Veterinary Services Unit or the quarantine station in Ramla, address:  POB 63, Ramla, Israel; Fax:+972-3-9229906

•A written request for these permits, together with a valid check (rates are subject to change), must be sent no later than 10 days before the planned flight date for the animal

•The request must include:  the type of animal, sex, species, age, information about arrival in Israel, country of origin, other details

•Dogs, cats and birds (up to 2 of each type), accompanied by their owners in whose possession they have been overseas for at least 90 days, will be exempt from the need for an Israeli veterinary permit, but they must have a vaccination certificate and a health passport issued by a government veterinary official in the country of origin, declaring that the animal is healthy and free of infections or infectious diseases.  In addition, the certificate must indicate that the dog/ cat has been vaccinated against rabies, no more than one year and no less than one month before the date of arrival in Israel.  Dogs and cats under the vaccination age (three months) are not permitted to enter Israel

•When flying with animals from Israel, it is the passenger’s responsibility to ascertain the relevant documents and certificates required in transit and final destinations

Acceptance and hand ling

•The animal (pet) must be carried in a strong, closed container, purchased by its owners and approved by an EL AL representative

•The animal must not emit any bad odors

Flight Kennel preparations:

•Make sure your Flight kennel is marked according to instructions. The kennel must be recognizable for the airline staff as well as ground handlers and/or any other operator at the airports. The pet’s name, flight number, your name and phone numbers should be attached to the kennel throughout the journey.

•Remember to bring security seals in order to secure the kennel once entering the airport.

•Make sure that the kennel is clean and contains all the items your pet will need or want during the flight: Diaper, a bottle of water, a blanket or a toy etc.

•Make sure that the kennel does not contain food remainders, sharp objects or the leash.

•In case your traveling with a cat, make sure that the kennel wheels are not attached to the Flight kennel (if so, make sure you detach them before you reach the airport).

Pet Flight Documentations:

Make sure you bring all the forms necessary and that they are accessible:

•Imports/exports certifications (Import Permit, USDA etc.) and health certificates.

•Pet Passport (when traveling to/from or domestically in Europe)

•Vaccination booklet / records.

Preparing your pet for the flight:

•Do not feed your pet prior to the flight (feed him/her maximum 4 hours before the flight)

•Try to encourage your pet to drink as much as possible during the date of the flight.

•Dog owners, it is highly advised to take the dog for a very long relaxing walk before leaving towards the airport.

•Refrain from tranquilizers and all sorts of drugs that might calm your pet or put it to sleep unless a flight veterinarian advises otherwise.


IMG_6080.jpgTrying to decide what to pack has been incredibly hard. When you make aliyah you get three bags to take on the El Al flight but they must each be under 50 pounds or else you pay extra. (although I just learned that if you make aliyah this December then you get an extra bag for free). Now it’s not super expensive to pay more but really who wants to carry around bags that way more than 50 pounds any way. This is just the physical demand of it. Emotionally it is hard to. When you pack you essentially look at your life-like a history of all that you have done and accomplished. It’s kind of surreal. Because I’m packing a week earlier than I had intended I have been avoiding tapping into any time of emotions around this, essentially dissociating and only thinking about what is right in front of me (or watching episodes of the tv show Monk). 

So today I decided it was time for packing. I took down my massive desk and then set about putting materials into bags. I decided to divide them into 1) Therapy Materials 2) Kitchen and Bathroom 3) Bedroom/Living room materials. Well after filling my therapy bag to the brim I didn’t feel a sense of relief. Instead I felt the weight of the bag and knew that I had stuffed it to much and  would have to take things out.

Whats also going through my mind right now is my renewed focus on developing my private practice. So I feel conflicted about bringing all of my play therapy materials or just leaving them. I do plan to sublet an office in Jerusalem that is kid friendly. So really do I need to bring my own toys. (So later I decided to take almost everything out except for the books and place the toys into bins to bring at a later date. I then felt a sense of calm). 

The other awesome thing about making aliyah is that you get to bring in 3 separate tax free shipments. 1 shipment will be my car (in just under three years) and the second was going to be a lift. I have plans/hopes that I’ll be able to send for a lift around March or April when I have my own place and some money in the bank. So maybe, if I’m smart, I should think about the long game. The long game is to work my butt off, save up money and then bring in a lift. So again I feel a sense of calm over this decision.

The other interesting thing about making aliyah for me is that I spent all year saving money. This was so I could have a fusion while I job hunted. Well now that I’ve been without a job for a month and I’m tapping into the savings account I have been thinking more and more about my private practice. This is really my big dream. I had always thought I would split time between an agency and a private practice but the longer I have been in the game at the agency the more I’ve craved the autonomy of private practice. So I have decided to recommit, now that I have the time and the energy, to focus on my work dream. There is such a need for therapists out there and I really want to be more available less burned out to heal others. 

So I spent the day creating my goal sheet-a vision board for me to be able to visualize and make a point to achieve my goals. 

Through the whole aliyah process I have felt like I have had to opportunity to start over. To do all the things I wished I did before. To focus more on the long goal rather than the short term-the ability to delay gratification and seek comfort and stability.

New Standard of Living

One of the biggest adjustments I hear about from new olim, which I’m sure happens to immigrants from all over, is adjusting to a new standard of living. For people who are rich I think this adjustment is relatively easy…I mean duh! But when money is tight that’s a different story.

Since I’ve always worked with kids I’m used to not getting paid a decent wage. In grad school I had three jobs because the pay was so crappy and I knew that these jobs were stepping stones. Jobs that would introduce me to the ins and out’s of the mental health system so that I could be employable once I graduated. The ironic thing is that I started started graduate school just when the market was crashing and by the time I was looking for job (after graduation) the market had not fully rebounded. I spent the year unemployed.

Over the past 3 years I have worked and got a decent amount of money as compensation. The first year I was worried about money so I spent very little. I did save but not a lot, I wasn’t good at it. The point is I had a decent salary and was able to accumulate things that I both needed and wanted. As I embrace on my aliyah journey, I cant help but be slapped with the irony that I am starting all over.

I am going to be immigrating into Israeli society. I do not know the cultural norms or how the system works. This will all take time. As I look for jobs I notice that the pay is not listed. This is common across Israel with regards to all aspects of the economy. What do I mean? If I want to go furniture shopping not at ikea I can search online for furniture stores and I’ll find some. They show off their beautiful furniture and you look at it going “nice” “nice”. But you know what’s missing? the price of said item. I’ve realized that this is how competition is controlled. The only way for you to know how much something costs is to physically go down to the store. I’ve even heard people calling up the store and asking about a price only to be told that they don’t tell prices over the phone. Well things become more intimate when you walk into a store and begin th search. 

So this has me thinking about adjusting to the new standard of living. People make a lot less here, unless course you are in hi-tech then you can make some money. If I want to continue working with children, which I do, I’m looking at making about 6-7,000 shekel (roughly $2,000) a month. The good thing about this is that usually working at a school I’m only working in the morning, until about 2 or maybe 3. This gives me time to work a second part time job (yay). So this will be how I will introduce my private practice. If I can find a job that pays in the above range and then have my practice maybe 10 hours a week then I’m feeling pretty good. My ultimate goal within the next couple years is to have a full time private practice. It’s a game of patience. Again something else I’m constantly working on. 

I am expecting that I will need to be working at two different locations, and I’ve also decided that I’m not going to be accepting insurance here in Israel but I will do a sliding scale fee. 

So one of the reasons for compiling this blog is that I want to see if I can make the same amount of money every month that I made in the states. Even if I’m mixing between two jobs thats ok as long as the take home is what I want/need/deserve. 

Full time gan reacher/assistant: 8-2/3=6-7 hours/week=7,000 shekels

Part time Therapist: 10-15 hours/week=5,000 shekels 

I want my take home pay with all my jobs to be 14,000 shekel/month 

What keeps going through my mind is that I have a masters degree. I have worked hard and did my sacrificing in my early 20’s to finally be stable and make a decent pay. As I wrote before I really think this is a huge reason why we Americans struggle with making aliyah and why some eventually return home. I don’t want finances to be the reason that I don’t stay. I’m flying back to my home in the states and I’m missing Israel. It’s so surprising to me that this soon I’d be missing my home…the home to which I don’t have a job or an apartment.

So one of the things I’ve been thinking about is how to educate new Olim about Israeli society, particularly with regards to career. As this trip has taught me, and to which no online research was able to teach me, is that Psychotherapy/Counseling is not regulated. Anyone can call themselves a therapist and it’s not something the Ministry of education is cracking down on. You can’t call yourself a Social Worker or Psychologist thought because those are regulated and you need to go through the necessary steps to get your degree recognized by the Ministry of Education. 

More important in my area of specialization/field, child trauma therapy there is a whole procedure around disclosures and prosecution of child abusers/pedophiles. In the states and specifically in California I know how the government and prosecutions work. I know how social services work and the numbers to call when I suspect abuse. I don’t know if there is a website in English for therapists to navigate this. 

So I think that my practice in Israel will be to support English speakers, primarily Americans as they navigate the challenges of their aliyah. I will of course continue to work with child abuse and I think it’s important for me to continue networking and making sure that people refer to me. Also I do wonder about a space for African-Americans who have made aliyah and wanting counseling services. Again I think this is a niche I can sow up quickly.  So here is how I will brand myself:

  1. Child Trauma Therapist for English speakers-Has your child been abused? Are you an adult who has experienced abuse in your childhood and your finding that it’s rearing it’s head and sabotaging your relationships? Your looking to connect with a therapist who speaks your language and understands your Anglo culture?
  2. African-American Therapist here to help you with your managing aspects of this new culture. How to find yourself and achieve the fulfillment you desire when making aliyah? Maybe you just want to work with someone who understands the dynamics of being an African-American jew in Israel.
  3. Adjusting to a new culture can be very hard…we struggle all the time in our interactions in Israel but how nice would it be to not struggle? To work with a therapist who speaks your language, who has made aliyah too and understands the ins and outs of not knowing what’s going on and feeling overwhelmed (wanting to give up) but also wanting to be successful? 

So I will work with children, teens and adults. 

Day 9: Last Day

Today I was so hopeful. I was to see two apartments and have a meeting about a job at a mental health clinic in Jerusalem. Well it took forever for the bus to get from Tel aviv to Jerusalem, reinforcing the idea that I am not going to be commuting between the two for work. It’s crazy.
So the first apartment I saw in Rehavia was really cute and reminded me of my place in Berkeley. It was a stand alone cottage with it’s own backyard and locked gate. It was pretty big but the only probably was the damn bars on the windows. I really hate the bars on the window. Also weirdly enough it made me feel isolated and all alone. I don’t know why but that little place made me feel lonely.
The second place was in the German colony, which is one of my favorite places. It was not he first floor (not the ground floor but up a flight of stairs). Everything was new but it was a studio with an enclosed balcony. The windows were small as well. Therefore screens on the windows which I liked and no bars.
But neither places called me. I looked at two others in Nachlaot but they were definitely not me and not worth talking about.
As for the meeting at the clinic, it was in the heart of an Orthodox neighborhood. When I arrived it ws in this make shift apartment and pretty nice. The problem is that they were not really hiring for staff but there was an option to sublet. Part of the issues continues to be that I do not speak Hebrew.
I lef feeling completely defeated. I mean I knew that it would be hard to get a job as a therapist here in Israel without any Hebrew which is why I never really explored it. But there were all these people who we telling me about these clinics with English speakers and it rose my hopes. As I walked back to the bus I just felt like I couldn’t do this after all. I miss know what’s going on. I missed my degree having some type of value and weight. How can I enjoy Israel and create a life when I’m not ding what I love, which is therapy.
As I rode back to Tel Aviv I was on the verge of tears feeling like a huge failure. I did not get an apartment nor did I get job on this trip. More importantly I felt like there was nothing out there for a therapist.
As I sat with my feelings it dawned on me. This is why people don’t make aliyah and why we Americans will leave after some time. There is no support for us. Israel is very different from Israel in so man ways but I think there is this morning of our old lives that happens. We work so hard in college to get a degree and make a career. We slowly climb the career ladder and we find some stability. In the states we are multi dynamic…complex people. In Israel I was finding myself feeling one dimensional. During this trip I felt like I was forced into this binary option.I was not my complex self. Also because I was so focused on the two areas, finding job and finding an apartment, that my creativity left me. As I pulled into Tel Aviv I was just writing and writing. Coming up with ideas with how to help anglos here in Israel as well as to take the weight off my living arrangements by asking if I could stay someone for free until I find a job. My flight leaves in a couple hours and I no longer feel hopeless and like I can’t do this. Now it’s time to get to work.