Craving life

One of the major down sides of social media for me is access to second degree sadness.

I just don’t need it.

Sorry if that sounds cruel, harsh.

But it’s true.

I’m a sensitive girl already.

I feel people’s eyes. Their frantic glances, their furrowed brows.

I’m pained by the way they walk with their head down low.

I’m frightened when their steps get heavy behind me.

I’m deathly afraid of a silence that emanates from thousands of miles away. Because it must mean that something is very wrong.

I absorb another’s anger as if it’s mine

And I jump high at a cough from another room or from a firecracker from across the street or from a chair falling backwards with the wind.

I’m easily startled.

As much as I love how connected we all are through the technology webs, I am also overwhelmed sometimes by

sadness.

Death, sickness, loss, hunger, pollution, destruction.

Hurricanes, typhoons, murder, suicide, bullying, anorexia, drug overdose, car accident.

Cancer, anaphylaxis, SIDS, amputation, chemical warfare.

Cancer.

The photographs, the videos, even the messages of love and care sent from strangers to other strangers.

They all hurt my heart.

My heart can’t hold the sadness, though it’s soft with compassion,

it’s too too thin for the empathy.

And while sometimes my heart can hold it all,

Other times it feels filled up.

Like right now.

Tragedy, one-degree removed,

is life at 40.

Until it’s tragedy, no degree removed.

It was like this, I imagine, for my mother and her mother.

At 40, you start to know sick people, and people caring for sick people, and people who have lost people.

And you start to be afraid you are soon going to be one of those people. Or more than one. All three.

I am afraid.

And while I know that my fear is not a new one, not one invented by me or my generation, there’s something so much more vivid about this knowledge when it’s brought to you in full-color, in a row of announcements on the monitor in front of you via social media

every day, every few hours, every touch of a button

it’s there.

I need a newsfeed of life.

Call me naive, call me ungrateful, call me callous, call me whatever you like, but this is what I need.

A newsfeed of life.

An Israel Story Only I Can Tell

The title of my blog references my aliyah.

Aliyah is the Hebrew word used when a Jew moves from somewhere outside Israel to Israel.  If you have been to a synagogue on Saturday, you might have heard the word also used to reference someone being called up to the Torah for a blessing. The word aliyah literally translates as elevation or ‘going up.’

My going up was from New Jersey.

Depending on how much of a Jersey fan you are, you might not have difficulty seeing how moving to Israel from New Jersey was ‘elevating.’ (I’m staying out of that debate.)

On the other hand, depending on how much of a fan of Israel you are, you might have a lot of difficulty understanding why my husband and I picked up our three young children and moved here. (I’m staying out of that debate, too.)

We’re not particularly religious. Nor are we ardent Zionists.

We are reasonably observant moderate Jews from New Jersey, emphasis on the word reasonable.

This — reasonableness  — is what Israel, and the world that talks about Israel, needs more of. So, you can say, we’re contributing to that cause.  When I blog from Israel, I hope to share stories that most people outside of Israel never hear. The stories of the people who live here: Our daily lives, minus the conflict, minus the politics, minus the fear.

I don’t blog often about what I do during the day when I’m not blogging. I’m the Chief Marketing Officer for an investment group that invests in and develops start-up companies.

A lot of new olim (immigrants) try to break into high tech when they move here because a) it’s a great marketplace for English speakers and b) Start-up Nation is where it’s at.

Not me, though.

That wasn’t my plan at all.

My plan was to move here, get adjusted, learn Hebrew, grow an organic garden, and write a few freelance articles for The Jerusalem Post.

However, a few months after landing here a job opened up at a nearby company and the job description basically described me. My husband encouraged me to apply for the job. I did. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 2 1/2 years all day, 5 days a week — helping grow start-up companies.

I never write about my job because it’s not what I think about when I am not working. I like to leave my work at work.

Mindfulness, and all.

But last night, something incredible happened that is still with me today.

Two companies who I’ve worked with — portfolio companies of my employer, The Trendlines Group — won awards for best start-ups of the year. Out of dozens that were eligible, the award was offered to three companies, and two of the companies were from our group.

That in and of itself is something to take pride in — companies who I’ve worked with are now award-winning companies. But my greater pride comes from the types of technologies the companies are developing. One, Sol Chip, has created a tiny chip that harvests energy from the sun in a way that’s going to change how we use electricity everywhere from offices to farms. The other, ApiFix, has revolutionized treatment for adolescent scoliosis. It’s literally going to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of young girls with severe curvature of the spine.

These are the kinds of companies Trendlines invests in — companies really poised to improve the human condition.

These are the kinds of ideas and technologies that come out of Israel.

Not just technologies that help you find your way from the bar to the post office.

waze

But technologies that will save your life some day. If not yours, than your child’s or your neighbor’s.

Technologies that will one day be used not just in Israel, but everywhere.

Even in countries that are anti-Israel.

This. Is. Quite. A. Story.

And so, I blog about it.

You see: The Israel story — and my story living here — is even more complex than you ever thought.

When I moved to Israel, I braced myself for potential backlash from friends who, for reasons of politics or ignorance, might see my move to Israel as a statement, or worse, as a mistake.

But that didn’t happen.

What did happen was a door opened.

I got to be a part of an Israel that people who live outside Israel hardly ever see.

And I got to be someone who shares that story.

So, thank you.

Thank you for reading.

And thank you for letting me be a reasonable voice in a very noisy, and complex world.

team at awards jm

Part of the Trendlines team with Chief Scientist Avi Hasson and Israel’s Technology Incubator Program Director Yossi Smoler, June 2013

ocs award

Ideas that spread

I love TED talks.

I love the concept.

I love the execution.

TED

As a marketing professional, I think TED talks are often brilliant examples of storytelling and I often share them with my clients to show how delivery can reel a person into a topic that might be dense or unfamiliar.

I have watched TED talks that seem to have nothing to do with my life — that are by people so foreign to me or about ideas that are a million miles away from what I think or care about.

And yet, by the end, I’m crying. Or nodding. Or shaking my head in stunned disbelief.

That’s what a good story does to you.

As a human being, I think TED talks enrich my life.

I love learning about problems I never knew existed.

And being surprised by how the solutions to those problems end up applying to my own life.

I have the TED app downloaded on my smartphone and when I remember, I will often listen to a TED talk on the drive home from work.

I hardly ever spend time browsing the videos. I choose one of the top three recommended.

Today I chose “Phil Hansen: Embrace the shake.”

I had no idea who Phil Hansen was before I watched his talk, nor did I understand the reference to the word, “shake” in the title.

But I love the word “embrace.”

embrace

It’s physical.

It’s emotional.

And this word alone in the title was enough to pique my curiosity and press play.

I’m very much into embracing. (And tips on how to do it better…)

Embracing my uncertainty.

Embracing my fear.

Embracing the new and unfamiliar.

Embracing …so that you may let go.

What Hansen suggests in his talk is that embracing our limitations actually opens us up to limitless possibilities.

I agree with him.

I won’t spoil the 10 minute talk.

Enjoy it for yourself, but be prepared to be surprised.

And to let go … of your expectations.

About the speaker.

About the talk.

About everything.

“As I destroyed each project, I was learning to let go,” Hansen says. “Let go of outcomes. Let go of failures. And let go of imperfections…”

See what happened, when he did.

Kadima!

Spring is often used as a metaphor for rebirth. Combine this with the Jewish tradition of cleaning house before Passover and you’ve got yourself a good season for change here in Israel.

And so it is for our family.  Changes abound that are already impacting our immigrant experience…and more so mine than anyone else’s.

I blogged recently (in my regular Patch.com column, “That Mindful Mama”) about our family’s “team trade.” More specifically, how I recently accepted a full-time position as a marcom specialist for a hi-tech incubator here in Israel, and will be leaving my position of the last five years: part-time primary caretaker and work-at-home freelancer. In addition, my husband will consult part-time (he’s a grant-writer and fundraiser, work that may be done from home), but will take over responsibility of caring for our kids and maintaining our home needs. 

This is a huge shift for us as a family, and for me as a new olah.

First of all, it means I need to leave my bubble. My safe little kibbutz cocoon. It means I need to get in my new car, figure out the different mechanisms (like how to work the windshield wipers), and brave Israel’s roads. Worse than navigating the hilly, foggy roads in the morning is navigating psychotic Israeli drivers who are either constantly riding up my rear or trying to run me off the road as they pass me.

Most of all, getting a job means I need to interact with a lot more people who might want to speak Hebrew with me. However, I have a feeling, that just like an enema, this decision might make me momentarily uncomfortable, but is likely exactly what I need to get things moving in the right direction.

My new job is at a mainly English-speaking company with many Anglos on staff. It’s also primarily an English-speaking position.  While a high level of Hebrew is not required for the position, the office is not a Hebrew-free zone. Mostly everyone except for me speaks a fluent Hebrew and when an Israeli is in the conversation, the language quickly converts over to Hebrew. Therefore, I’m required to listen and understand or, at the very least, nod as if I do.

Most of my new colleagues have been told that my Hebrew is still “a work in progress,” but that hasn’t kept all of them from trying. Which they should and which I reluctantly encourage. Reluctantly because it usually leads to some level of humiliation and discomfort for me.

At least twice during my first week here, I thought someone was speaking to me — they were looking straight at me, after all– but it turned out they weren’t.  I’ve also been spoken to without realizing it was me who was being spoken to. In those cases, I learned, a smile and nod only get you so far. If the statement ends in a period, there’s a 50-50 chance I can get away with a simple smile. If the statement ends with a question mark, however, I might be in trouble. “Ken” or “lo” only get you so far in the workplace.

Thankfully, I haven’t yet been made fun of or chided for my lack of Hebrew. So far, most people here seem to think my broken Hebrew is cute and endearing. However, I am fully aware the “olah hadasha” tag will only work its magic for so long.

The big question is: How long?

When are you no longer considered an new immigrant? When do you make the transition over to just plain old immigrant? Or “olah vatika?” (“Seasoned oleh”) How is my status measured? In “daylight, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee?” Is it when the sal klita ends? When my kids are fluent in Hebrew? When I make five Israeli friends?

I certainly hope getting a full-time job doesn’t prevent me from milking this status for as long as I can.

I need all the help…and breaks…I can get.

(This was previously published as part of my blog, “Israeli in Progress,” on The Jerusalem Post.)