Climate Changes, Community, Food, Survivalism

I’m really the farthest thing from a gardener

My photos on instagram paint a pretty picture.

broccoli 2013

The above broccoli and cabbage are part of the harvest from our backyard vegetable garden. We took advantage of the beautiful weather today (70 degrees and sunny) to weed and pull.

It’s the second season we planted; and the second season we’ve tasted vegetables we grew ourselves.

And, yes, our broccoli tasted delicious. And yes, it was exciting for us and for our children.


And, while I am so proud of us; because even a backyard garden takes effort and intention and love, part of me judges me in a way I imagine some of my Facebook friends silently judge me:


“Oh how quaint. Look at us. We grow our own vegetables. Look at us. We teach our kids how to get their hands dirty.”

I can see how people might say that when they see my posts.

I can see it…because … um … sometimes I have thoughts like that about you.

Facebook tends to make you look like a braggart, a goodie two-shoes, a whiner, or an asshole.

But the people who really know me, know that I grow my own food as practice.

Practice being the perfect mom I’ll never be, but moreso practice being Caroline Ingalls … for the day when the grid goes.

My green lifestyle … the green gardener I play on TV?

It’s still practice.

Every day I am practicing how to be less dependent on stores, stuff, and things.

Less dependent on electricity; less dependent on gas.

Less dependent on the internet, too, though that proves to be a bit more challenging.

I’m just a formerly semi-spoiled Jersey girl looking for meaning and hope on a semi-vanishing planet.

If I can do it, so can you.

Start small.

Buy less. Recycle more. Eat less. Grow more. Take less. Share more. Drive less. Walk more.

Find five minutes to talk to your kids about the impact of trash.

Find five minutes to talk to your neighbor about the impact of pesticides.

Find five minutes to strategize with your partner about taking small steps that make a big difference.

Then actually take those steps. Do something. Anything.

And then write about it. Talk about it. Paint about. Blog about it. Scream and shout about it.

Pass it on.

Family, Living in Community, Love, Making Friends, Middle East Conflict

I can’t remember growing older

When you’re a parent, each day is a struggle not to live in the future.

What if?

What will be?

What will she look like?

How will he make it through?

And some days are harder than others.

The days when fear grips you.

When headlines make you want to keep your child locked inside a bubble-wrapped, sterilized room forever.

You want to be locked inside, too.

This morning, my 10-year-old son and his friends are enjoying a weekend morning.

They’re playing Playmobil and singing as they manipulate their imaginary worlds.

They’re chilling out, numbing their minds in front of the Wii.

As I hear their squeaky pre-pubescent voices belt out a mix of Shabbat songs and Rhianna, I laugh.

For a moment, I’m in the present.

They are cute.

But a moment later, I’m in the future.

They are tough. Or pretending to be.

These boys?

These four boys?

They’ll be soldiers some day?

boys playing

I don’t believe it.

I can’t picture it.

I wish it away.

How many other mothers in Israel have wished it away?

Countless. As many as there are mothers.

How many other mothers saw 10 turn into 18 in an instant?

How many other mothers can touch 10? Taste 10? Smell their 10 year old boy’s sweating, dirty self walking in the door at 6 o’clock?

They scream!

Someone has fallen into an imaginary Lego hole. Someone has knocked down a Playmobil brigade.

Oh please.

Please let those screams,

please please please,

always be screams of play.

Always be screams of who gets the first turn

Not screams of agony.

Let this moment last.

Community, Living in Community, Making Friends, Mindfulness, Parenting

Other people’s garbage

What I am about to say doesn’t apply to everyone.

It doesn’t apply to the immigrant family just arrived from Darfur.

It doesn’t apply to the disabled veteran living in a box on the corner.

But it DOES apply to anyone with enough money and sustenance to afford a computer, an IPhone, a tablet.

What I am about to say applies to those of us lucky enough to be in the middle or upper class.

What I am about to say applies to the family who pays 150 NIS to send their kid to basketball class, and another 500 NIS on the uniform.

What I am about to say applies to the family who owns a car, a three-bedroom home.

What I am about to say applies to the family who takes their kids on vacation to Eilat.

What I am about to say applies to some of my friends and neighbors.

What I am about to say is going to piss you off.

Your kid disgusts me.

Yes, your kid.

The 13-year-old who just threw a plastic cup under the bushes next to the preschool without thinking twice.

He disgusts me.

Sure, it’s only for a moment. A passing moment.

He’s only a kid after all.

Until it happens again.

Until the 6-year-old, the one who is in the same class as my son, rips the wrapper off his popsicle and drops it onto the street without worrying for a second about getting in trouble.



Today was not the first time I’ve seen a young person throw trash on the ground here in my community; here in Israel.

Today was not the first time I saw your kid throw trash on the ground as if the ground was going to take care of it.

As if the ground serves as his garbage can,

The same ground that braced your child’s fall when he was just learning to walk.

The same ground that nourishes the wildflowers you use as a beautiful background for family photos.

The same ground that you pay taxes to tend to.

Your kid just trashed that ground.

Now, you might think me harsh or judgmental.

You might think me smug.

You might spend the next two weeks watching my children like a hawk to see if they ever once throw trash on the ground.

They might.

And if they do, I hope that you will call to them, gently but not so gently scold them, insist they pick their garbage off the ground and place it in the proper receptacle.

Do what I didn’t just do.

Teach them.

I missed an opportunity. I let your kid walk away.

I let my ego get in the way — too afraid that I wouldn’t use the right words in Hebrew, I waited til he walked away and I picked up the cup myself.

And then I shook my head. At him. At you. At me.

It’s easy to make excuses.

My excuse is language.

My excuse is fear.

What is yours?

The truth is: There are no excuses for our children throwing garbage on the ground.

Not children who go to basketball, and play Wii, and own their own phones.

Not children who eat organic tomatoes or gluten-free pita.

Not children who are raised on hikes along the Jordan River; on a deep love for this land.

There are no excuses.

plastic on the ground

Is this the land we're fighting over?

Plastic bag dots the green


The marketing professional who went to vote

No one understands better than a marketing professional how much emotional triggers impact our decisions.

Fear. Despair. Hope.

A feeling that your choice matters.

A hunger for power. A desire to belong.

Competitiveness. Trust.

A belief that you are smarter, more sophisticated, more right.

Ego. Ego. Ego.

I voted today in Israel for the first time.

jen voting 2013
Voting in our cute little library on Hannaton

As I made my way up to the voting booth, still a bit unsure, I said to my husband:

“This election, this choice, reminds me of how I choose a bottle of wine:

The label draws me in.

I reach for the bottle, seduced by the design.

And then I laugh.

Even the professional may be enchanted by marketing.

But I buy the bottle anyway.

And while I know the quality of the label isn’t necessarily indicative of the quality of the product, I remain hopeful.

I buy the bottle because a person that cares so much about his label may indeed care as much about his product.

If not, at the very least, if he was savvy enough to entice and convince a savvy marketing professional, he deserves my purchase.

At least once.”

I voted Yesh Atid.

I almost voted Meretz. I almost voted Hatnuah.

I never even considered Bennett, though I appreciated his marketing savvy.

And Bibi lost my attention long ago.

I voted for the pretty label.

And the pretty label wasn’t Yair Lapid. He’s not my type.

The pretty label was freshness. Hopefulness. Youth. Passion. Engagement. Community. Diversity.

A feeling.

That my vote matters.

And that I may be an instrument of change.

But, Yesh Atid: Listen up.

Don’t embarrass me.

Don’t be the bottle of wine I have to apologize for.

Don’t be the bottle of wine that leaves a terrible after taste in my mouth.

Don’t be a bottle of wine that ruins the dinner.

Be the bottle of wine that makes me feel not just like a savvy marketer, but a trendsetting prophetess.

Make me proud.

Climate Changes, Education, Environment, Family, Food, Health

What matters to me most

What matters to me most in life and politics is what’s closest to my heart. It’s related directly to my own personal experience.

Isn’t that true for everyone?

And, perhaps, why I haven’t connected to the elections in Israel is because what matters most to me doesn’t matter to most of the people voting in this election. Or most of the people that live in Israel.

But what I still don’t get is why?

In between fighting wars, and between reading the newspaper in the morning and watching the news at night, don’t we all need/want to live healthy lives?

Don’t my neighbors, friends, relatives understand that nothing else matters once your health is poor?

Taxes won’t matter.

Housing prices won’t matter.

Military duty won’t matter.

Statehood won’t matter.

Once a health crisis takes over, little else matters.

And each and every one of us are in some stage of a health crisis right now.

Many of us are only days, weeks, years away from cancer due to chemicals in our food and self care products.

Many of our children are only days, weeks, years away from debilitating asthma due to air pollution.

Many of our grandchildren are…

Many of our grandchildren are…

Many of our grandchildren are…

an impossibility

due to rising infertility rates … climate change … drought…. famine…diminishing resources on our planet.

Vote what matters.

Policy wordle

Religion, Spirituality

One Shabbat


All it takes is one Shabbat

annie shabbat jan 2013

One morning to clean

One afternoon to cook

One evening to shower and dress  in your handsome clothes…

Just one Shabbat.

One morning to sleep in … until 7.

One weekly meditation group.

One quiet admission.

One hour to sit

with your coffee.

One hour to zooooooooommmm down the slide

with your son

oliver january 2013

Just one Shabbat.

One new idea.

One minute to hold your husband’s hand.

One glimpse of your children with your weekend pair of eyes.

kids forest jan 2013

Just one Shabbat.

Just one

to remember how it feels to laugh

late at night

in bed…

without looking at the clock.

Just one

to remember what breakfast tastes like.

Just one

to rediscover your purpose.

Your passion.


Just one

Just one Shabbat.

Education, Politics

Is it smart to vote with your heart?

The other day, I asked Israeli politicians via my blog on The Times of Israel, if any of them wanted my vote.

Apparently, Dov Lipman does. In fact, he’s really the only one who answered the call. It could have something to do with the fact that my “call” was in English, Dov’s mother tongue (he’s also an immigrant from the U.S.). It also could do with the fact that he too is a Times of Israel blogger, and perhaps the only political candidate who actually read my post.

Understanding this, I sent the link personally to English-proficient Bibi and American-born, greenie like me Alon Tal via social media outlets to try to get their attention. Neither responded. Not even their twitter-bots.

I did get a Facebook shout out from the English campaign manager of HaBayit HaYehudi asking me to call him, and an offer from one of their volunteers to come to my kibbutz and speak about the elections.

But Dov was the only one who hunted me down on Facebook  (not hard to do) and engaged me in a one-on-one Q & A  about his agenda — and mine — and that of Yesh Atid, the party ticket he’s running on.

This is one of those moments where we say:

Only in Israel.

(Or in Newark, where one particular politician  makes voters feel like they matter.)

I liked what Dov had to say (type) to me — but, moreso, how he said it.

He was nice.






He listened.

He asked me for my questions.

And answered them. To the best of his ability.

And was honest when he didn’t have the answer.

He asked me what mattered to me.

He made me feel as if I matter.

Smart guy.

A politician in the making, but not politician enough to sound inauthentic.

Which is a good thing in my book.

And while important issues to me are sorely missing from Yesh Atid’s platform –environment and health, in particular– I don’t think any one party in Israel is addressing the issues that matter to me. (Which is stupid, since religion and government will mean nothing to nobody if this land is either flooded over or otherwise uninhabitable due to the effects of climate change; or if we’re all dying of various of forms of cancer thanks to air, water, and land pollution.)

So I have a few choices in this election:

1. Choose not to vote

2. Choose the party and politician most of my close friends are choosing (In my case, HaTnuah, Labor or Meretz– which is probably why HaBayit HaYehudi didn’t waste even a 5-minute call on me)

3. Choose the guy/party who makes me feel like I matter

Choosing 1 is completely reasonable for a new immigrant. I mean, to be honest, I’m surprised they let me vote at all. I can barely make it through the grocery store on my own.

Choosing 2 would put me among the majority of the people in this country. Most people, especially immigrants, vote half-heartedly or with little research. Most of my friends told me they are still undecided or are choosing a party based on who they don’t want to win or based on who their father/husband/sister wants to win.

Is it so wrong, stupid, or immature then to choose option 3? To choose to vote for the one person on the ballot who made me feel like my vote matters?

Obviously, there is something in Yesh Atid’s platform that speaks to me  — education improvements, for one. Focus on helping small businesses succeed and giving opportunities to the middle class to afford homes.

And then there’s the fact that Yair Lapid, the party leader, actually thinks Israels should be nicer to each other.

Me, too.

Niceness goes a long way.

Obviously, Dov Lipman could be telling me exactly what I want to hear to get my vote. That’s what a few of my friends said when I told them I was considering giving Yesh Atid my vote after my correspondence with Dov, followed by a careful reading of their English web site and Facebook pages, and speaking to one of their hard-core supporters..

But isn’t that’s what all politicians do any way — on a grander scale? Tell us what we want to hear to motivate us to vote for them?

Really, when it comes down to it — after all the newspaper articles, the televised debates, the advertising: none of which I was audience to, in all honesty, because they were either in Hebrew or took place far away — how educated can we really truly be before an election?

How rational can we really truly be? Most of our decisions, any decisions, are biased anyway.

So is it so stupid, so wrong, such a waste for me to vote for the guy, the party who made me feel like I matter?

Religion, Spirituality


Last night, as I was trudging through the final half hour of John Carter with my husband, I noticed a word in the Hebrew subtitles at the bottom of the screen.


This is something I like to do when watching an English program on TV. Especially, when I’ve lost patience for the show I’m watching.

Subtitles make for good learning opportunities.

But, the reason this word caught my eye is complicated in the way that only religion can be.

My mind didn’t just notice this word. My mind remembered this word.

In a sing songy sorta way. In a dressed up in my Shabbat clothes sorta way.

השתחוו לאדוני

I could hear a familiar tune in my head. Feel joy in my heart.

I knew this word. From Kabbalat Shabbat. From Friday nights on Hannaton.

I recognized the word, but had no idea what it meant.

I turned to my husband, and asked.


What does it mean?

Bow, he told me. That woman just told John Carter to bow to him.

Ah, now I understand.

It’s a funny thing, this journey of mine.

As I become more Israeli, I become more Jewish. And as I become more Jewish I become more Israeli.

I’ve known the Shema prayer by heart for more than three decades, for instance, but only now do I understand many of the words.

I can’t say that they resonate with me. But at least now I understand most of what I’m saying when I sing it.

Is this what they call prayer?

Is this what they call “observance?”

Is it prayer when you sing a Hebrew song praising God, but don’t know exactly what you’re saying when you sing it?

It it prayer when you finally do understand the words but they still don’t resonate with you?

It is prayer if you don’t believe?

Is it prayer if singing it opens your heart?

Is it prayer if your heart closes once you know the meaning of the words?

Many Jews in America learned Hebrew; learned Jewish prayer; the way I did.

We were taught the letters, the sounds, how to string them together so we could read them, speak them, sing them.

But through all my “learning,” I was never inspired enough to feel those words — old, antiquated translations of old antiquated words.

Not until I made Aliyah — until the language became a language I needed to use to express myself — did the words touch me.

The words haven’t changed.

But I have changed.

And my understanding of the words has become deeper. On many levels.

Is it my connection to Israel that connects me to the prayer? Or my connection to the prayer that connects me to the language of this country?

Or neither? Or both?

And does it matter to anyone else but me?


How do you say Grinch in Hebrew?

The freak storm has almost passed.

And while I’m still huddling in front of our wood-burning stove like a Depression era bum, the moody hail-filled clouds have moved on to harass someone else.

My house still stands.

The big one at least.


Sure, it’s covered in wall-to-wall mud.

Sure our boots and winter jackets line the floor of my hallway.

But it’s here, planted on solid ground. Not upside down; not on top of a smushed witch in Kansas.

And we have power. And internet connection.

All is well.

And I will be a good gracious little girl. I will not begrudge my friends in Jerusalem their snowman-building pleasures.

Or my friends in Neve Daniel their snow day.

Photo by Laura Ben David on @instagram
Photo by Laura Ben David on @instagram

I won’t gripe out loud that it’s not fair that you get to spend your day making snow angels and sipping choco, while I have to spend mine behind the computer working or behind the Israeli version of a mop doing sponga.


Nope, I won’t moan or groan or say how unfair it is. (As if Jerusalem doesn’t already have big malls, natural food stores, a good public transportation, and the blessing of God. Now you get SNOW?)

Nope. I’m happy for you guys.

Really, I am.

I’ll prove it. Post links to your pics below. I want to revel in your snow joy!


Earth Changes (sung to Lara’s Theme)

Two years ago, it snowed like the apocalypse in Newark, New Jersey.

Nevertheless, the airports were open the next day and early in the morning December 28, we packed our three kids and 15 duffel bags into a shuttle bus. As the sun rose, we headed up the NJ Turnpike from my mother’s house in Cherry Hill to Newark International Airport to meet a plane full of Jews preparing for a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight to Israel.

13 hours and five barf bags later, we landed.

But not to the Israel I had imagined in my mind.

Not the Israel of USY or Birthright.

Not the Israel that threatened to burn your skin lobster red or put you in a hospital in Beer Sheva for dehydration.

We landed in winter Israel; which, apparently, gets really wet and cold. For months.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but do you know that I did not pack in one of those 15 duffel  bags a pair of sweat pants? Not for me; not for my children.

I’m pretty sure I packed two pairs of pants for each kid and about 10 pairs of shorts.

I kid you not.

For January.

In Northern Israel.

To be fair, I had only been to Israel once in winter. And, while it’s true, I DID spend two weeks volunteering on a God Forsaken army base outside of Tzfat, during which I vaguely recall sleeping beneath a wool blanket in my large, down-lined khaki army jacket; I think my memories of being dehydrated by the Dead Sea prevailed.

I thought it was perpetual summer in Israel. I thought the worst it got was windbreaker and jeans weather.


Luckily, a month after we arrived in Israel with our duffel bags, our shipping container arrived in Haifa. And, two weeks after that, following a port workers strike, our winter jackets and hats arrived. And my two pairs of Wellington boots.

The boots have been my best friends through two and half winters.

Jen in boots

Now I know better: Winter in Israel, on a good year, is wet. And cold.

And on kibbutz — very, very muddy.

But, as naive as I may have once been about winter in Israel — I feel very out of place in, and a tad bit disturbed, by the winter wonderland brought on by this storm.

I'm lucky I brought my down jacket from New Jersey with its faux eskimo hood
I’m lucky I brought my down jacket from New Jersey with its faux eskimo hood
B-ice-cycle in our backyard
B-ice-cycle in our backyard

Ice raining down on my porch?

Driving winds slamming against the side of my house?

Flooding (and drunken tubing ) on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv?

Something feels…amiss.

And if it were one random stand alone instance of freak weather, I’d probably chuckle and enjoy the cheers of my 4-year-old who doesn’t remember the snow of the  blizzard we left New Jersey in. She thinks this freezing rain is snow.

But, I don’t have to tell you it’s not a stand alone instance of freak weather.

Where ever you’re reading this from — Australia (where wild fires rage), the midwestern and southern U.S. (where the impacts of drought are still being felt), Seaside Heights (still soggy from Sandy), flooded Great Britain — you know what I’m talking about.

Freak weather is becoming less freakish; and more freakishly common.

Winter in Israel was never this wintery. At least, not in a long time.

And after we make it through this storm, I wonder if anyone is going to be talking about it.

Or if they’ll simply shrug their shoulders in a “Huh, wasn’t that interesting” sorta way and praise the Lord for the rising of the Sea of Galilee.

Don’t get me wrong — we need water here. I am certainly grateful for the water.

And yet … suspicious.

Sensitive to the ominous winds of change.

Clouds loom over Hannaton
Clouds loom over Hannaton
Education, Love, Mindfulness, Work

The long road to desire

Bragging moment: I was accepted into the University Honors Program in college. I even got a scholarship.

That letter in the mail was likely the pinnacle of my academic career. That, or the poetry award I won from Mr. Schaeffer at the end of 9th Grade.

I was your classic underachiever in school. And in retrospect, I completely wasted the distinction The George Washington University placed on me.

In order to maintain the scholarship and my place in the program, I was required to take at least one class each semester offered by the honors track. As always, I did the bare minimum. I followed the rules and aimed for a grade acceptable to me and my parents. (A “B” or above.)

The only classes I remember are two semesters of “An Introduction to Soviet Cinema”– from which I walked away better educated about cinematographic license and with the easiest “A” I ever earned — and my senior seminar with Professor Harry Harding, an expert on Asian-American relations.

I don’t remember why I took this class with Harding, since my interest area was the Middle East. I probably heard from someone that he was kind or didn’t give a lot of homework. I do remember, however, the brilliant research thesis topic I dreamed up for the paper I had to write at the end of the year:

The Influence of Zen Buddhism on American Pop Culture

I wish I could get my hands on that paper. And, then completely rewrite it.  Because whatever I wrote was complete crap and/or borderline plagiarism, I’m sure.

This time, if given the opportunity, I’d actually do the research. I’d read more than the three required books. I’d actually do primary research. Find people to interview. Listen to their stories. Imagine what their lives were like. Swim in their memories. Meditate on them. And then produce a paper that truly encapsulated my brilliant findings and analysis.

But, like most 20-year-olds, I hated writing research papers.  And this was a 25 page research paper, which was the longest by far I was ever required to write before or since.

I loved learning, but I was too bound by the rules and the concern for a good grade  and the concern for a good job and a good career and a good paycheck and a good pitcher of beer to actually do what I imagine most teachers want you to do — learn about something and carry that education forward into your life.

I remembered this research paper yesterday when I watched a video a friend shared on Facebook.

It’s a series of images that illustrate a lecture given once by Alan Watts entitled “What If Money Were No Object?”

The name sounded familiar.  I Googled him. Oh, yeah. He was the guy  in my research paper from senior seminar; recognized as one of the key individuals responsible for bringing Zen Buddhism to the West.

I chuckled. Here was the voice of Alan Watts speaking to me — primary research, 20 years too late.

If only the internet had been more than a chat room on AOL when I was in college.

If only I had heard Watts say:

“What do you desire?
What makes you itch?
What would you like to do if money were no object?

How would you really enjoy spending your life?”

I might have spent more time on my research paper. I might have spent more time wondering if this Alan Watts guy was more than just page filler.

What would I have thought if I had been in that crowd? Would Watts have inspired me?

What message would I have taken away from that lecture?

Would I be the philosopher, the novelist, the soap opera star I sometimes wish I was?

 “Crowds of students say, ‘We’d like to be painters. We’d like to be poets. We’d like to be writers.’

But as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way…

When we finally get down to something which the individual says they really want to do, I will say to them, “You do that. And forget the money.”

Amen, I thought to myself, when I heard Watts challenge the audience to “forget the money.”

And then, “I wish someone had said that to me when I was 20.”

Easy for me to say now.

Easy now, at 38 years old, with a steady paycheck and two decades of experience making it on my own.

But would I have been able to really hear Watts then?

Would his words have led me to walk a different path?

I don’t know.

My life might have turned out exactly the same.

I was a lot more stubborn then. A lot less likely to listen to someone wiser than me. I might have done exactly what I did. Graduate. Get a job in a non-profit. Be happy that I was finally earning my own paycheck and had my own money to spend on jeans at The Gap in Georgetown. Or on big scrunchies.

Jen in college.
Jen in college.

I really wanted my own money back then. I wanted freedom from my parents. I wanted room to make my own choices. I didn’t see any possible way to achieve both freedom and my desire.

Which makes me think Watts’ advice would have registered only as a temporary instigation.

Not inspiration.

Learn more at
Learn more at

Because in our current society set up, it’s practically impossible to forget the money.

We have to follow our desires in spite of the money.

What you need to know if you choose to forget the money is  how you will stay true to your desire when the rest of the world says you need money over everything else. You need to know how you will navigate the expectations of your family, your friends, your neighbors. You need to know how to avoid the pitfalls of consumerism. How to live without a TV; without an SUV; without a weekend getaway.

You need to build your life so that your life is your weekend getaway.

= = = = =

If anyone had asked me when I was 20, I wouldn’t have said then, “I’d like to be a philosopher.”

I wouldn’t have said, “I’d like to be a craniosachral therapist.”

I absolutely would not have said, “I want, more than anything, to be a full-time, paid-loads-for-a-living celebrated writer.”

I didn’t know it then.

And I couldn’t see the way.

And yet, I’ve been fortunate to find my way. To have either landed in or created circumstances in which I’ve been able to recreate my career based on my passions and desires.

I’ve been a children’s book author.

A magazine promoter.

A think tank thinker.

I’ve been a newspaper reporter and an editor.

I’ve designed t-shirts. That celebrities have worn.

I’ve been a web master.

A freelance writer.

A publicist.

I’ve been a business owner. A wellness pusher. A community resource.

I’ve been a brand strategist. And a stay-at-home mom. A Facebook goddess.

I’ve been a C-level executive. A blogger. A consultant. A coach.

I listened to and followed my itch; years before hearing Alan Watts’ speech.

But, along the way, I’ve had to give up desires, too. Ignore certain itches.

I’ve had to choose.

Sometimes I’ve been able to forget the money.

And sometimes not.

Watts does not talk about choices…and consequences.

It’s not easy to follow your desire instead of following the money.

= = = = =

What would I say to a crowd of young people today?

How would I guide them?

I might say something similar to what Watts says: “Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.”

I believe this to be true. And I like to think that somehow, accidentally, when I was writing that research paper in college, Watts’ advice penetrated my tired mind as I was lazily investigating the influence of Zen Buddhism on American pop culture.

Perhaps, subtly his words have been guiding me ever since.

But I would also suggest being as flexible as you are determined.

For who knows what you will be when you grow up?

You don’t.

I didn’t. I still don’t.

I still ask myself every day, “What do you desire?”

And then listen for the answer.

Forget the money, yes. But be flexible. At every turn, there is an opportunity if you are primed to notice it.

Ask yourself every day, “What do I desire?” And be strong enough to acknowledge the answer and take action, even if the answer is, “Money.”

Community, Family, Living in Community, Love

A woman on the brink of death

(This was originally posted on the Times of Israel)

Sometimes I imagine I am a woman on her death bed.

How else to explain the sense of wonder I have the minute I pull out of my driveway each morning to head to work?

Before I even leave the boundaries of my small community in Northern Israel, my head turns from side to side looking out the car window for a sign of nature’s wonder.

Morning light breaking through a stunning cloud formation overhead.

cloud formation

The sun rising over the Eshkol Reservoir.

sun over eshkol

The first kalanit popping up in the fields lining the road into our neighborhood.


Who else does this but a woman about to die?

Sometimes I catch myself imagining I am her — a woman on her death bed.

I am paralyzed. Frightened.

Could it be true?

What if it was?

And then I laugh with the realization that it is true.

We all are.

We are born to die.

And as much as we fear it, we spend our lives rushing towards it…towards death.

Rushing through breakfast; pushing the kids out the door; grabbing three different bags – a laptop bag, a lunch bag, a pocketbook – and throwing them into the back seat. We drink a to-go cup of coffee on the way. We turn on the radio and scan the words for news. News that will help us make decisions; make us feel right; make us feel wrong.

Get us there quicker.

We breeze by our coworkers; we tweet through our days. Our fingers sore from scrolling, from typing, from pointing.

Who else but a woman about to die notices the teeny tiny wren perched on the tallest branch of a pine tree across the street from the entrance to Rafael?

Who else catches through her passenger side window the hearty laugh of a teenage girl in a bronze glittery head scarf waiting for the bus to Karmiel?

Who else but a woman on the brink of demise notices the blend of hope and fear on the faces of the black men – the ones standing on the side of the kikar at the entrance to Kfar Manda — as she passes them during rush hour?

Who else but a woman about to die?

We characterize our behavior as “living,” but really we are rushing towards death. Getting there quicker, richer, righter.

Until we stop.

And in the moment we stop – in the slow minutes spent behind a tractor trailer chugging up a hill, for instance – we slow down death.

We drink in life.

Drink it in.

annabel bowling