That’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
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:
- This is not California
- I’m still new and learning about how everything works
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another week has come and gone for me. Tonight I had dinner with a friend from home, who was staffing birthright. She asked me, “Are you missing Berkeley yet?”. I replied, “no”. She was socked and I was too a little. I mean I have had just been living life here in Israel, almost like I’ve been here my whole life, and I don’t have any complaints. Yes its only 5 weeks but I feel just as much as home as I did back in Berkeley. I have my doggy that I come home too, I work my full time job every day and I have my private practice part time. I’m even making time for the dating scene (I know shocking). So for me life here is very similar to back home (except I’m surrounded by more conservatives than I am used too).
Last week I put the wrong pin into the ATM which resulted in the bank taking my card. Well unfortunately I now need a new card but I have to go to my branch in Tell Aviv to get this done. The problem of course is that I work all week and the bank is closed on Sundays. So now I’m learning to make due on the little bit of cash i have while making sure i can still get around on public transportation. This is the most annoying hurdle so far and in truth it’s not really that big of a deal.
I continue my daily commute from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. I take three buses and its a 2-3 hour trip each way. To most people this is crazy sounding (especially since I wake up at 3:45am) but as of late I’ve been using the commute time to work. To write blogs (like I’m doing now) or to commiserate online with other online therapists. As much as i love my job, i have been missing therapy. I participated in a study group for the NMT certification I am apart of last night (for folks living in Europe/outside the US) and it was so nice to talk about my passion-trauma. To reflect upon dissociation and what this looks like in foster youth etc. As i feel more settled (minus having my own apartment) i haven been wanting to jump into my practice and do therapy. So this has been occupying my time as well.
Now let me quickly change topics and talk about apartment hunting in Tel Aviv. It’s absolutely crazy here. The apartments in my budget (4,000 shekels which equals roughly $1,000) are hard to come by. Most apartments have multiple bedrooms (I only want the one) which basically forces you to have a roommate or two. Plus with multiple bedrooms you get to charge 6,000 shekels plus and so your in the money. Now mind you Israel’s wages are incredibly low, its one of the main reasons many American Olin go back because the pay is really ridiculous. If i want a crappy apartment then i can pay far less than 4,000 shekels but the apartments for 2,700 shekels that I’ve seen are the shit. I saw a studio/loft (actually a couple) where the toilet, sink and the shower head (which hung from the ceiling) were all in this teeny tiny space, like maybe 10-20 foot space. There was one window and maybe one counter-it was the size of a bedroom. I believe the apartment used to be a penthouse or something and they just divided up the bedrooms and made them studios. And it was also in the ugly part of town. I decided that since i work my butt off all day plus i do online therapy from home, it’s best to have a nice home to return too/work from. Plus if I don’t like where I live I’ll be miserable, so I said nope to those places. The other option is roommate so living outside of Tel Aviv.I would live outside of Tel Aviv before dealing with roommates. I just can’t be worried about someone else-I need/want my own place, so I will continue to commute until i find one i like.
I was also very sick last week, the worst illness I’ve had in years. I had the chills, sore throat, and lots of coughing. Well the cough is the only thing left, with a sore throat here and there but it definitely made me miss my family. Autumn wanted to walk and play at all hours of the day and night and i was cold and tired. I wished there was someone around who could’ve dealt with her.
So really i think my acclimating to Israel as nicely as i have, despite the language barrier is the fact that I 1. Mentally prepared to be here, by researching jobs and cost of living and 2. Accepting that i would be starting all over at a minimum wage job that was physical. I think if i thought i would come and be a therapist easily and waited for that elusive job i would be incredibly miserable right now and talking about going home. Lucky for me that i have a profession in which i could have my own business.
It’s week 5 and it feels longer than that.i feel like I’ve been here my whole life despite knowing very little I feel comfortable and safe. I am making connections with people and I am keeping old connections alive. The days don’t feel like adventures any more but they do feel special and new. Even on 5 hours a sleep a night i wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start my day. Israel truly is home.
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).
No 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
+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.
The first 24 hours feels so unreal after aliyah. Even though I knew the basics of what was going to happen nothing prepares you for the true experience of coming home. For me the most stressful part was having my dog and keeping her calm. It didn’t work. She barked incessantly when I picked her up from baggage claim. She had to sue the bathroom and she was starving. It was obvious to me that she had been a little traumatized by the experience of riding in the plane. She was scared and definitely felt like I had abandoned her.
I arrived to my temporary home later that night, after spending about 2-3 hours at the ministry of absorption getting my ID card, signing for healthcare, and all the other things new slim have to do once they become Israeli citizens. I was so tired and out of it that I forgot my backpack (with my laptop, iPad, and all the important paperwork) on the shuttle. The bas part was that it took me an hour to notice it was gone. Lucky for me the shuttle driver had dropped the bag off in the courtyard in the place I was staying and all my goods were still there.
The home I am staying at is filled with visits from the states. This is nice but I think it also contributes to the not real feeling as well as the this is not my place feeling, despite me unpacking everything and setting up my temporary room. I think this part did make Autumn feel a little bit more settled but she is definitely exhausted and having a bad case of separation anxiety.
I had a job interview scheduled for the Thursday morning, a little more than 12 hours after my arrival. I am staying in Jerusalem but the job is in Tel Aviv. This meant having to wake up and get on the bus at 5 am. WellI was up at 2 am (after not going to bed until midnight) and I couldn’t fall back asleep so I walked Autumn, showered and gave her a bath, then I was off. I heard her barking from the street the poor thing and I wanted to just call off the interview and stay with her. But I also didn’t want to reinforce her barking so I said a little prayer for her to stop and apologized to all the neighbors (in my head) and keep going.I couldn’t find the bus stop and ended up walking for an hour before just taking a taxi. Well the taxi guy was nice but took me to the wrong city and then of course blamed it on me.
I was late for the interview and feeling very drained emotionally we met and talked about the job. I was able to see a little of what she does and her interactions. She then asked me if I would like to do a trial day to see how it would go. She offered for me to do it this day so I did. I rode over to the nursery school where I would be working with the kids 1-2 years old. At first I felt kind of weird and out of my element. The teacher in charge wanted to talk and ask questions an d it felt so hard. I watched a little and then kind of jumped right in. I don’t know when it happened but I just clicked and had a blast with some really adorable little ones. I didn’t even think about me being on a trial day or this being part of an interview I just enjoyed the kids and it was fun seeing where they were developmentally. I even made a fiend with one little cute boy who was about 2 and had on the best outfit. As we went out to play for the second time a woman from the other classroom pulled me aside and reported that the head teacher had told her I was doing great and she was definitely pleased. So after working for about 2 hours I was done and the boss called me and offered me the position. I told her I would have to think about it, even though it would most likely be a yes. I knew that at least for the first couple weeks to a month I’d be in Jerusalem plus I was still concerned about Autumn adjusting.
When I returned to the apartment, it was quiet. She eventually came down and created me quietly. I had looked up how to cure separation anxiety and it was recommended not to make a big deal of leaving and returning. So I calmly said hey big girl and walked and did my thing with her following me. We had a pretty quiet afternoon as I did laundry, cooked some for (I had not yet eaten that day and it was all ready 2pm), and just walked around, still not feeling real.
Autumn and I dyed down to nap and then the house guests returned, saying hello, and of course causing Autumn to bark. they came up t the room and said hello to us, petting Autumn while she barked and made noises at them (she seems to like them and her them). I apologized for her barking in the morning and they were very sweet and kind in forgiving me/her. They said she only really barked for about 30 minutes and then she was fine so that made me feel a little better. I let them know that the weekend would be dedicated to me working on eliminating the barking when I leave. I let them know about the job and how the woman wanted me to start on Monday.
I then took a nap, because I was really exhausted, and woke up to another guest-I happened to have met her at shabbat dinner a few weeks back when I first came to this home. She was going grocery shopping for the family which would be returning the following day (Friday). I then headed back upstairs, turned on some music and felt my mind kind of clear. I had decided I would take the job. the pay is low but it’s sufficient. I realized that by taking this job and moving to Tel Aviv I would be more free to have my online practice. On the plane I finished reading the book “Pushout” about black girls and how the school system is failing them. About these young women who are being exploited and trafficked by pimps and their process of healing. I thought about what my passion which is trauma work, and I wanted to do more for my community. For black girls. So I contacted Beacon Health options which handles Alameda county medi-cal and asked about online therapy and reimbursement. The paperwork was re-sent to me and I filled it out. I’m hoping that within a couple weeks I will have gotten approval and I can start seeing clients online and taking medi-cal.
So now it’s all beginning to feel a little more real. It’s a little more than 24 hours and even though I didn’t get to open my bank account (they were closed when I returned to Jerusalem) and I hadn’t chosen a phone company (or used my free 200 minutes on my sim card), I have a job and a temporary place to live. I know what my salary will be and I can start apartment hunting. I’m not feeling the inch for this, and I am prepared to hustle. I think once the family returns and Autumn meets them they were will be less anxiety on my part about leaving her in the mornings. I have never planned to live here more than a month, so I will check with the family to see if I can move after receiving my first paycheck just to be on the safe side. I have reached out about a roommate but I kind of like the idea of living alone, if I can make it happen.