Health, Kibbutz, Spirituality, War


I just added a new category to my blog:


I hesitated before I clicked.

I’m a superstitious kind of girl, for one. And, two, I do think our thoughts impact our reality.

If I add a war category to my blog, how does that impact my reality?

Call it what you want: law of attraction; positive thinking; pessimism; subjectivity. I’m someone who believes that we see the world the way we see it.  The world is interpreted by us. And every time we put an idea or an action into the world, we receive an idea and action in kind.

If we want our world to be different, we need to start thinking and acting differently.

If I want a world without war, what happens to that desire when I start blogging about war?

*   *   *   *

This morning, on my drive to work, I spotted a blossoming olive tree on the main road in the kibbutz. It made me so happy to see the baby green olives peppering the branches. On a macro level, it reminded me of what makes me happy about living on a kibbutz in Northern Israel. On a micro level, it reminded me that this August heat is half way out the door and autumn is just around the corner.

I snapped a photo of tree  and shared it on Facebook. I wanted my joy to spread. Spreading joy makes the world appear joyous.

I think it worked, at least a little. I smiled as I left Hannaton and turned left to drive towards Misgav.

Each weekday morning, I pass by Kfar Manda, the Arab village next door to ours. And every morning it’s a stark contrast of how we in Hannaton see the world differently from the people in Kfar Manda.

Of course, I can only guess that we see the world differently: Arab Israelis living in a mini city and Jewish Israelis living in a small kibbutz. I don’t have any friends from Kfar Manda so I have no one to interview and discuss this with.

Today, as I drove by Kfar Manda and held on to the joy that began with an olive tree, I saw smoke coming up from above the Western, residential side of the city. I felt my joy dissipate.

When I rounded the curve and passed the main entrance to the city, I saw the source of the smoke.

I couldn’t tell from my car if it was one of the trash fires I often see or smell burning in Kfar Manda. (A trash fire is exactly that –> burning trash.) Or if it was  intentionally set for an agricultural reason, since the fire was on the edge of a vegetable field. How an intentional fire serves any of us in this dry, scorching hot month of August is beyond me.

In any event, there was no one nearby trying to put out the fire. It just burned. And the smoke seeped into my nostrils as I rolled the car window down to take a picture of it.

And my joy disappeared.

My world was no longer olive blossoms. My world was fires burning at the edge of a beautiful field.

Family, Letting Go, Love, Making Friends, Spirituality

The 5 minute answer to world peace? Imagination

Every other week I have the distinct pleasure of partaking in a woman’s group in the community in which I live in Northern Israel. The woman’s group, which was informally started almost a year ago and has grown to a bi-weekly gathering of about 10 – 12 women, has a multi-focused purpose. Mainly the goal is to gather and grow as individuals in an effort to move forward both as people and as community members. We also get the chance to do inner work and get to know our friends and neighbors on a more intimate level.

Most weeks, I’m happy to go.

Some weeks, however, I have PMS…and I am too raw and irritable to handle deep thinking or to listen with care and compassion to other people’s inner struggles.

Often on those nights, I leave the meeting a bit frustrated with my inability to understand the nuances of conversational Hebrew, and/or emotionally drained.

This week, our women’s group meeting fell on a PMS week. As much as I needed a night off from family time, I was worried how women’s group was going to mesh with my hormones

But lovely Linda was facilitating, which eased my concerns some because Linda is an art therapist, and her activities are ones I typically enjoy and move in and out of with ease. They don’t usually release the beast…or require too much Hebrew.

I was right. Her exercise was relaxing — essentially a visualization activity, but the way Linda positioned it to the group was like this:

Take ten minutes to imagine a dream world. A place of your choosing. There are no boundaries; no limitations. What does that world look like? Who are you there? What are you doing?

As soon as Linda handed us a sheet of paper and said go, I leapt into action. Without thinking at all, I started writing a sequential list. And this is what it looked like when I finished:

1. Money is no obstacle. There is limitless money.

2. When money is no obstacle, I have freedom to choose from a place where money is not an obstacle.

My handwritten visualization

3. I write for a living. I wake up in the morning and  I make myself an espresso. (I edited this from the original. Espresso is a necessity in my dream world.)

I sit down at a lovely wooden desk with a view and I write for one hour. Then I exercise my body. Then my cook and my massage therapist arrive. My cook stocks the kitchen with healthy, yummy food that my family all loves. She prepares our lunch and dinner. My massage therapist gives me a treatment for about an hour. I eat my healthy yummy lunch…slowly.  I nap.  I write or create some more. I pick up my kids at 4 pm. I enjoy them. We eat a yummy healthy dinner together. We laugh.

4. Once a week (maybe twice) my husband and I go out alone. Sex is sometimes involved.

5. We vacation often, and in luxury.

6. We discover the cure for food allergies and for all cancer.

7. We discover the secret to world peace, too. We implement it.

8. All my previous wrongdoings are forgiven.

9. I clean up all loose ends. I am free of guilt and emotional baggage.

10. I complete my book. It changes the way people think about themselves (for the better). It changes the way people treat each other.

11. My book is transformational. It brings an abundance of love into the world.

12. The abundance brought about by my book brings abundance into my own life.

13. I am extraordinarily happy and at peace.

14. And, most of all, I’ve managed to not mess up my kids or my marriage along the way.

As I completed the exercise, I had an overwhelming, yet unexplainable feeling that the entire kit and kaboodle was actually attainable. From the smallest triumph (write for a living) to the largest (world peace), that somehow the solution was as simple as imagining it.

I know for most people this concept is heresy — that all it takes to solve a problem is to dream up the answer. That all it takes to live the life we imagine, is to imagine it.

I mean, really, if it was as easy as all that, why haven’t we achieved world peace or cured cancer already?

And I see the truth in this way of thinking.

And yet, I see the truth in the accessibility of all I list above.

Really, what are dreams?

Are they involuntary and insignificant images that pop up during sleep? Are they the stories we concoct and ruminate over each day? The visions of the not so distant tomorrow that terrify us? That keep us in unhappy relationships or stressful jobs?

Are these really our dreams?

Or are our dreams the vehicles with which we create our reality?

One could say this visualization practice of mine the other night was no different from the anxious thoughts that keep us from doing what we really want. Except, in this case I let my mind spiral towards all that I want — not all that I am afraid of.

In the past, I’ve daydreamed a wish into reality. I bet you have, too.

My dream to fall in love. My dream to have children. My dream to move to Israel.

Once upon a time, those were dreams written out on a piece of paper — in a journal, or on an application.

And now, those dreams are my reality.

How do we reconcile this truth with the one we sell ourselves everyday? That dreams don’t come true?

Everything, in fact, begins as a dream.

And therefore everything — from personal cook to world peace — is ours for the taking.

Community, Letting Go, Love, Parenting

Tell me you love me

When someone dies, we often use that opportunity to express how we truly feel about them. And how we truly feel about them is often… beautiful.

“You were a light in my life.”

“I’m so grateful we were friends.”

“Thank you for making a difference in the world.”

It used to be that homages were reserved for funerals. Eulogies over a coffin or flowery obituaries. But now we eulogize everyone everywhere. RIP hashtags on Twitter. Memes on Facebook. Dedicated blog posts honoring people we’ve loved and lost; as well as people we never knew at all.

On the one hand, I think that this modern way of grieving and of consolation is extraordinarily cathartic and moving. On the other hand, online memorials and tributes often make me wonder how much goes unsaid during our lifetimes.

What drives us to bare our heart after someone dies? What prevents us from showering the people we know with our love and gratitude before they die? Before they fall ill?

It’s an age-old question; not one that was created by and for the new media age. But I do wonder if the new media age might not also offer us a platform to be just as generous with our love, gratitude, and praise in advance of death as we are after it. We’re already doing this for people we don’t know in real life.

One of many memes that circulated after Jobs’ death

Those of us active on social media likely spend more of our time updating our Facebook statuses with fond remarks for celebrities or politicians we have never met, than people who have directly impacted our lives — even if only for one moment. The neighbor who made you feel welcome when you moved into the community. The teacher who spent extra time working with your child. The co-worker who always remembers to ask you at the beginning of the week how your weekend was.

With ease, we acknowledge celebrities more readily than the folks who could match our picture with our first and last name if asked. And likely, one day, we will publicly mourn these dead celebrities in 140 characters or less more readily than we will tell our friends and neighbors how much they mean to us while they live. It’s only after they’re gone — the people who truly fashion the days of our lives — that we find ourselves moved to the point to express how much their being in the world made a difference in ours.

Buds of hope do surface every once in a while. Today, a friend commented on a picture of me I shared on Facebook by saying, “You grow even more beautiful as you grow older.”

I felt flush with love and gratitude when I read that.

But soon after — because my thinking often overpowers my feeling — I wondered, “Would she have told that to my face?”

I’m not sure she would have. Though not because she doesn’t think it, obviously.

The screen provides a bit of a safety net. Or else the speed with which we are used to responding on social media prompts us to type out the words we really mean rather than the ones we allow after self-censoring.

And while I’m often outraged at what people are willing to say online that they wouldn’t say to my face (think anonymous talkbacks on this blog), I cautiously posit that this impulsiveness may be used for good.

Tell someone you love them today.

Tell someone how pretty she is.

Tell someone how her smile makes you feel better about the world.

Tell someone that he was a role model for you.

That he turned a bad day into a good one.

That he taught you how to be a better man, a better dad, a better friend.

There is one day a year I can count on for public displays of affection. My birthday (which is in a few weeks, by the way.) On my birthday, my Facebook Wall is all a-clutter with love. But not in the same way I imagine it would be if I were dead.

“Have a great birthday” doesn’t carry the same weight as “You were a light in my life.”

It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the sentiments. Of course, I do.

But I think we can all do a better job at acknowledgment. Use talkbacks for good. Out our anonymous admiration, and be the light of someone’s life while they’re alive.

This was originally posted at The Times of Israel.