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.

Weeks 8+9: February is rough

This week has been pretty tough. I’ve spent the past couple days feeling completely overwhelmed with everything. I can feel the shift by the two instance five had on the bus two different days where I had to yell at people and then while walking today yelling at someone on a bike. 

The top of my plate is finding an apartment. I’ve been searching for the past couple months for an apartment in Tel Aviv within my 3500-4000 shekel/month budget and I haven’t found anything that I like. I set the goal to be in my own apartment by March 1st and I’m scared and kind of grieving the fact that I most likely wont get an apartment that i really love but i’ll have to settle for a studio or an apartment in a bad neighborhood. Hey no one said aliyah was easy, but things had been going so well I almost forgot about this fact. I wish I had more time but I just don’t. On the positive there is an apartment that is back on the market that I’ll be seeing tomorrow so fingers crossed it works for me.

The other thing that makes me feel a little bit a lot sad is the my practice isn’t growing and I really miss doing therapy. I feel sad that I don’t make enough to just take a couple huge leaps and so I am in the process of looking for a second job online. 

So that’s kind of where I am at this week in my aliyah journey. I am so grateful for my friends and family back home for supporting me as well as the few friends I have here plus a couple of my coworkers who make work feel more fun and less like work for being there. Autumn too is having a little bit of a hard time with moving around and transitions but I am happy to have her here with me. 

So my hope for the next week is that I can get the apartment I really want, land a second job and start to get some clients online.

Week 7: The Worst Week so Far

Well I have had a pretty good run at things running smoothly overall since making aliyah. Over the course the past 7 weeks, despite my very limited Hebrew, I have gotten a cellphone plan, opened a bank account, gotten a Rav Kav, found a job, received my first paycheck, gone on a date, and generally have a clue about the way things work. I have not had the time to spend with friends, except for my birthday, go to Ulpan or make new friends but I know in due time this will happen. The job is going well and I’ve been finding time to work on my private practice.

So the week started off like any other…I discovered I could wake up at 4am and not 3:30 or 3:45 and get to work on time. So I’ve taken advantage of that. I’ve been using my commute to write blogs and do some marketing for my private practice in California rather than sleeping.

So its the first week of February and I’m waiting to get pid. I have 100 shekel to my name and I’m making it stretch. I go to the ATM at 4 am to get cash so I can catch the bus to work on Monday and the machine ate my card again. So Now I have a problem. The money situation is not great in the states as I wait for my last couple checks from Victim’s of Crime so I don’t want to use the card. Theres my business credit card and my business ATM card left but I don’t want to mix this but what choice do I have? So I use my business debit card and it works. I have cash for the bus. When I check my account online I saw that I got paid from work (yay). Except when I go to the office my boss is asking me about bank details and she tells me she hasn’t yet paid me (yet there is a miraculous 5,000 shekels in my account). Well it turns out it’s my government money (thanks Israel) but it’s twice what I was expecting which makes me nervous. But I get paid from them and then my boss later that day and I feel like one rich woman (10,000 shekels looks like a lot of money even though its only like $3,000).

I go to the bank on Tuesday to retrieve my card and after a whole lot of drama she tells me she mailed my card to my house. I withdraw cash and I’m on my way.

Now the best part of the week (sarcasm). I was informed the following week I’d need to vacate my current room for a couple days while one fo the daughters comes home and stay in the guest room. So the night before she arrives I learn that there was an overbooking so I would stay in my current room for the night while the daughter stays with one of the siblings until Wednesday when the guest whose staying in the guest room leaves. Well at 7 on Tuesday I’m informed that I will actually be staying in one of the boys’s rooms until Wednesday and then moving to the guest room, but she wasn’t entirely sure and she was still trying to figure it all out. Well I fall asleep at 9 (excited that I might get 7 hours of sleep for my 4am wake up call) but theres  knock at the door. Guess who gets to move to the couch because “no one wants to move rooms”. So At 9pm I am clearing out of the room and the daughter is not even home yet. Now all I hear around me is noise, Autumn is super discombobulated and wont settle down and I am wound up too. Since it’s 11pm at night and this girl is not home yet I cannot sleep because I just know I’ll hear her when she comes in and wakes me. Now I want people to comment on this to see if it makes any sense. Why would you have someone be a guest at your home only to constantly play musical rooms whenever your child comes home? Especially if said child isn’t even coming in until late, why can’t she come crash on the couch for the night? Why am I crashing on the couch and I have to get up at 4 am?

Any way I’m upset and frustrated. I’m tempted to either spend my money on a sublet until I find a place or an airbnb because this is crazy. I don’t want to move around a million times and I don’t want Autumn moving a million times either but this is fucking crazy. If I ever offer to let someone stay at my house I would never do this to them. It’s humiliating and it feels cruel. I understand you want your kids to feel at home but you don’t care that your inconveniencing me. It makes me feel unwelcome and like a burden. So To say that this is the worst week so far is spot on. I hope next week will be better.