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.

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…


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.

Week 6: Dating+

A few weeks back I received a message from a fellow Olim who met a nice man that she thought i might be interested in dating. So i said yes when she asked to connect us and we spent weeks messaging. He immediately asked me out for a meeting within the first couple days but due to my commute and multiple bought with illness it was put off, until today.
Now i am not the most excited about going on dates, for a multitude of reasons. I know i want to get married and have children some day but the thought of sifting through eligible bachelors sounds awful, especially when compared to laying in bed with my dog under a cozy blanket binge watching crap on Netflix. Or if I’m thinking about my therapy practice  and focusing my attention on my clients, then I’m even more distracted. So when the time came, i got up and got dressed and went to Bet Shemesh to meet this nice man. Now self disclosure i cannot remember the last time i went on a date, but it’s been a couple years for sure. But this time,unlike in times past, i was not nervous. I also placed no expectation on the encounter, which was nice. Of course i critiqued the things I noticed about him that were different that what i thought or expected such as the photo i saw of him on fb and i thought he was more religious than what i saw. But the focus was on personality and compatibility. The other thing which surprised me was that there were no thoughts about the future. What will this person be like as a husband or a father? All in all it almost felt like a networking encountering, i just met someone and we are getting to know each other. I definitely liked the feel of this much better than previous dating experiences and i ended up having a good time. With no thoughts about the future coming into my mind i felt relaxed and free. At the same time i wasn’t attracted to this individual or particularly interested in moving things further romantically. I of course talked with loved ones who encouraged me to give him a second chance so i will. Since I’m not super enthused by him i was happy we were able to put this off for a couple weeks.
Work is going good/well/fine etc…i really don’t know what adjective to use. I’m good when i get to hang with my kids but when I’m placed in another class I don’t feel as happy or delighted to be there. One of the reasons i really enjoy my little ones is because i get to just observe their interactions and the ways in which they show off their personalities. There is not anger or malice or colicky behavior because they are all under 2 while the other lasses there is a little bit of the click mentality that’s forming. The work in and of itself is very physical but I don’t feel tired like i did as a full time agency therapist. I think because there are natural breaks in place but whatever the reasons I’m still happy.
Lastly I’m back to focusing on my private practice. As much as i enjoy my day job my love and passion will always be therapy-specifically trauma and child abuse survivors. So now I’m back to marketing and networking but this time with the caveat of doing it all online. I created some goals and so far I’ve done well in staying on top of them. Now i just need to get clients again and ill be where i want to be professionally.

Week 3 & 4

It’s been a while since I last updated and there’s a lot that has gone on, hence the challenge with writing. 

First things first I’m still commuting from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv five days a week. I’m heading into week four in Israel and three weeks of commuting. I’m commuting because I have not found an apartment in Tel Aviv in my budget. There was a couple I liked but got snatched up within a day. So not there is an apartment I really want and the guy is very slow responding. I had hoped to spend my first birthday in Israel in my new apartment but that was not possible. Not sure what type of advice I can offer people apartment hunting other than be weary of any apartment in Tel Aviv for under 3,000″ shekels a month. They are super teeny in ridiculous way. 

The day of my birthday was not so great. I worked and got yelled at for returning late from my break. That’s also the day I lost out on the apartment I really wanted. The following day I celebrated with my friends and had some yummy Thai food and a little dessert. Hanging out with them in Tel Aviv, even briefly was really nice, I haven’t done that since I made Aliyah. The commute is so crazy and I’m apartment hunting so there feels like there is no time to do anything else. On the weekends I have to leave the home I’m staying in and so also adds to the challenges I’m having. 

Then capital one made an error and charged my account twice so I have to wait for a refund from them plus my phone unlocking was having challenges. All in all this past week has been tough. 

But I accomplished a lot of other stuff. I got my debit card and my checks from the bank. I signed up with a cellphone company and I got my Rav Kav (metro card). I’m still happy and loving Israel (kosher meat everywhere) and I’m not missing the states yet. I miss my friends and family but I talk to my mother daily and social media keeps me connected so I feel good. 

My biggest source of stress is this apartment thing and I wish I was rich so I can just pay for an overpriced one just to be done with it all. I know soon it will happen just be patient. There is a place I really want so fingers crossed that it works out for this week. 

I got sick this past Sunday. It’s the second time since I’ve arrived that I got sick but this was way worse. I had the chills and aches and pains. IT was bad I had to call out of work, but it was worth it because I’m feeling a little better. I also realized that I have not been focusing on my private practice and that pains me. I really miss doing therapy. I love my job, the kids are so darn cute it’s ridiculous and the day just flies by, but I miss therapy and healing. I don’t really know what to do to get this part kickstarted. I applied for insurance back in the states (did it in October in hopes that I’d be ready to go in December but due to some hiccups it never happened so I’m back at it again). I know it’s a good way to get busy quickly but I don’t want a practice filled with dealing with insurance paperwork haha. Plus the time it will take to get paneled will be a couple months so for the time being I have to try to generate clients. I’m really looking into doing more work with teens who have been sexually exploited and so this is really why I want to get on with insurance panels so I can help them. I read an amazing book called Pushout, which talked about the ways in which schools almost force African-American girls to drop out due to the policies (mostly around fighting/violence and missing school) and ignoring how many of these young girls are being sexually exploited/sexually abused. IT broke my heart reading this, especially since it was happening in my backyard (Oakland, California). The book talked about how we sexualize African-American girls, like they are not even allowed to be children because of the way men treat them and see them. So any way I want to be apart of this healing, more so than anything so I am feeling very frustrated and stuck not knowing which steps to take in this process other than insurance. 

So overall as my first month in Israel has arrived I’ve pretty much done everything that I had planned with the exception of turning in my health insurance paper and finding an apartment. I know my way around my neighborhood and the bus systems have been easy to navigate. I’ve done some minor socializing and I continue to work. I’ve also decided to update my blog weekly, every Wednesday, since Wednesday was the day I arrived it feels fitting to blog about my aliyah on that day. Now it’s time to wind down for bed (it’s 8:40 pm and I get at 3:30 am). 

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.

Day 8

I went for a walk around Jerusalem this morning and I got to see the Talpiyot and Arnona neighborhoods. I really liked Talpiyot it reminded me of my childhood in the UC Berkeley Village. The apartments wont little parks and people with their children all around. I saw an apartment there that I really wanted but when I contacted the number listed the realtor said it was a 3 bedroom and had tow balconies. As nice as that would be it would definitely be too big. The cool thing was that he had a one bedroom in Rehavia available so I scheduled a time to see it tomorrow.
When I got on fb to continue to apartment hunt I received a message form someone I messaged about room mating with a while back. Well her message was short and curt and for some reason it ticked me off. I’ve had a couple people I reached out too for room mating because they had dogs and they were also looking. Then when I reach out they act funny. They say they found someone else (yet post again like 2 hours later that they are looking) or they say they don’t want to live with a dog, yet they have a dog. So it’s a good thing I decided not to go the roommate route because if it’s this annoying to find a roommate then it probably would not be good. Besides I like living alone.
I took the busied up to Beit Shemesh today to meet with two therapists who are here in Israel. On my way I was surrounded by Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox jews. Men in black suits and women with wigs and head scarves. It’s great that these people have found a home in Israel, thats really what having a Jewish state is a ll about. Any way up the mountain to Beit Shemesh was very pretty. It reminded me of parts of California outside the major cities. It was very clean nd cute. Very family oriented and filled with Anglos.
In meeting with the two different therapists in Beit Shemesh I learned a lot about the Israeli criminal justice with regards to perpetrators of child sexual abuse. As i talked I thought about how much I missed working with children and childhood trauma. How I missed talking with colleagues about their cases and different family dynamics. It’s been so long and yet it all came back to me. This meeting really reinforced my desire to work as a therapist here in Israel.
So tomorrow I have a meeting with the coordinator at a clinic here in Israel. I didn’t really think much of it when it was first arranged but now I’m ready to kill it. I’m ready to put my therapy skills to work here in Israel. The one thing that concerns me is the pay. I know how much I need to live on here in Israel and I’m a little afraid that the pay will not be enough. I have it in my mind to ask about salary and then see what would happen if I asked/demanded for more.