Monthly Archives: January 2014

Conflicting feelings about change

change_ahead_signThis has been a period of so much change for members of our family!

Dd17 has now moved out of the elderly woman’s home where she’s been living and working since the beginning of the school year.  She’s SO much happier.  Dd19 called this week to discuss moving from NY back to Baltimore for the coming semester.  Ds20 called me a few days ago to talk about moving to a different yeshiva.  So we’ve been having lots of discussions about how to identify when change is a good thing and how to balance conflicting emotions about making a change.

Here’s a comment from a reader on my recent post about when to stay with something and when to move on.

>>My challenge is: wanting both. I want to live right here where I am…where I have been all these years. And yet..I have serious unmet needs here and feel that a fresh environment could as you say make life good, like it should be. I AM trying to build the missing pieces here. And I cannot make a change for another year or two…Yet sometimes I fear that making improvements here is just making moving get harder and harder to pull off…I have tried to ask Hashem. Is it possible that sometimes Hashem also “wants it all…?”

Also what if the choice you feel…you like and the choice you feel…goes the most deep into growing yourself…are different. Also what if the choice you like is not the one that…feels like the stillness that all of us over-wandered Jews crave.<<

I can really identify with what you’re saying.  You want the comfort of staying in a life space that is familiar, and you want the advantages of being in an environment that will allow you to grow in a different way.    A choice is a choice only because we have these conflicting feelings to work out – otherwise there’s nothing to think about!

What’s comfortable and what’s going to help you grow as a person are usually going to be at odds.  There’s nothing wrong with comfort but it’s doing the difficult that leads us to find new strengths in ourselves.   Change is scary.  it’s scary because you have to consider the possibility of having more and trusting that you deserve it.  It’s scary because you don’t want to fail but remember – anyone who has succeeded has said that failure was part of their journey.  Failing won’t make you a failure.  

Making a Change

It’s a leap of faith to leave the familiar to move toward something you believe will be better.  You can ask God for clarity but you have to be willing to hear the answer He sends you.  This may take the form of gut feelings or instincts that are very strong and don’t go away with time, people you’ll meet or things you’ll hear that ‘coincidentally are seem to be answering ‘ meetings with people who tell you something that fits so perfectly with what you need to hear – here’s a useful list to help identify some ways that God may be sending you answers.

Sometimes our fears keep us from identifying those messages.  I had a big decision I was grappling with a couple of months ago and my mind and my gut were sending me very strong opposing responses.  I was totally overthinking the issue and couldn’t get clarity on what voice was what.  I lay in bed unable to sleep, my mind racing.  After a couple of hours I suddenly sat up, turned on the light and started writing out my conflicting feelings.  I wrote without stopping for four full pages.  As soon as I paused, I knew the answer without looking at anything I had written.  Writing had allowed me to clarify the price of each of those choices.  I was able to see that what I had to lose by not making a change would extract a much higher price from me long term than being uncomfortable for a while in a new situation.  Journaling may or may not be helpful for you but it can be very powerful even if it’s not something you’ve used in the past – just let your flow of thoughts come out without thinking about them.

Another idea that can help is to picture your life both ways, having made the change and having stayed the same.  How does it feel?  It would be nice if making the right choice meant that you felt totally light and wonderful but sometimes even the right choice comes with the pain of not being able to have something valuable to you. Moving towards something means moving away from something else, and it’s not always moving away from something negative.

When the time is right for you to make a change, you’ll be sent what you need to make it happen.  In the meantime, enjoy where you are fully – don’t be afraid to become attached to where you are just because you may leave it one day.  A good goal for us all is to live fully wherever we are in life, for however long we’re there.


Living in northern Israel without a car

north-israel>>Someone mentioned it is very hard without a car in the North.  How is it working out for you? <<

Generally people looking to move to northern Israel are told that a car is pretty much a necessity, but I don’t agree with this.  It really depends where in the north you live.

We had a number of things we wanted in the place we planned to make our home, and one of them was good public transportation.  I enjoy driving but I didn’t want to own a car in Israel.  The reason for that was primarily financial – the cost of buying a car is significantly more than in the US and the cost of gas is currently about $8 a gallon.  Car ownership comes along with other costs as well, like maintenance and insurance, and I was happy to not have these ongoing expenses when we moved to Israel.

Though there are times that I miss the independence and flexibility of having a car, I’m overall pleased with our decision to be car-less.   A big part of why this works so well for us is that we consciously looked to live in a central neighborhood of a city with good public transportation. If someone chooses to live in a much smaller town/moshav/yishuv without public transportation running through it, or even in one of the outlying neighborhoods of Karmiel, it would be much harder and in some places not feasible at all.

israeli long distance bus

Karmiel’s local public transportation is great and it’s pretty easy to get to most major cities in Israel from here.  As of yesterday, the number of daily buses to and from Jerusalem doubled; I heard that there is now increased service to other cities as well.

Local transportation – in Karmiel an unlimited in-city daily bus pass is just 8.10 shekels for the entire day; this can only be purchased after 9 am.  You can also get an unlimited monthly pass, which is a better deal if you take the bus daily (I don’t).  A one way bus ticket was 5.50 shekels but probably just went up on Jan. 1 but I don’t yet know how much it is.  Our local buses are all new and comfortable. The buses run frequently – I rarely wait more than ten minutes – and there’s not usually any difficulty getting a seat; sometimes you have to wait a stop or two but rarely more than that.  Taxis are a fixed rate of 15 shekels for anywhere in the city; 20 shekels to the industrial zone.

I appreciate being able to relax and let someone else do the driving, worry about traffic, parking, repairs- when the bus I was traveling on broke down, it wasn’t my problem.  Someone else had to deal with it, not me.  If I’m not with kids, then time on the bus is an opportunity for me to read, unwind or rest.

Since so many people don’t have cars, stores routinely offer delivery service.  That means when I go into a grocery store, once I check out I don’t see my groceries until someone brings the boxes into my house.  Very nice for just 15 – 25 shekels a delivery!

Another advantage of not having a car is that you get more exercise.  Nothing is too far away but we’re either walking where we need to go or walking to the bus stop to where we need to go!  It keeps us much more active than we’d be otherwise.

Not having a car has limited me in some ways and freed me in other ways.  I have to say ‘no’ to places I would want to go because they’re not easily accessible for me – so that simplifies life in some ways.  I can’t do the shopping or have the kind of trips I did in the US and that creates more time in my week.  Obviously it also means that sometimes I’m unable to do some things that I would really like to do.

There have been times it’s been challenging to be without a car (mostly when our kids have been hospitalized).   However, due to the cost of driving many people who have cars choose to use public transportation when traveling long distances unless they can find people who will pay for a ride to cut down on the costs.  So at times when you need door to door service it’s a viable option to take a taxi (if within an hour drive) or pay someone with a car for a ride if you can coordinate it.  It’s cheaper than maintaining a car throughout the year.

The main time I’ve felt the lack of a car has been when I take Yirmiyahu to the osteopath every 4 – 6 weeks.  She’s only a thirty minute drive from our home so by car it would be two hours round trip but by bus it’s at least five hours.  Since the bus drops me off on the side of the highway and I have to cross five lanes of highway traffic by foot without a bridge or even a crosswalk (yes, I think this is insane but it’s not uncommon), I’d rather have a better way to get there.  I told her this past week that I dislike this trip so much only something really valuable to me (like her services) justifies it!

There’s also the cost and inconvenience of traveling with kids.  In a car, it doesn’t cost more to bring your kids along.  On a bus, the costs start to add up  pretty quickly and of course you can’t make bathroom stops for young children when they need it!  My osteopath charges me a family rate per visit, but I haven’t taken advantage of this the way I’d like to because it’s such a pain in the neck to bring the kids with me for the appointments (particularly with the highway crossing to deal with).

For the most part the negatives have been minor and the advantages of not having a car have have outweighed the times we would have found a car useful.  Overall, we’ve been really happy to have shed car ownership from our list of obligations!


The value of a good friend – more precious than gold

2a42b895622dc0dc7206b17f3a39e5f9[1]Last week I traveled to Jerusalem to spend time with one of my very closest friends who was here for a short visit.  And I was struck once again at the power of friendship.

When I was in the US, I didn’t value my friendships enough – as the saying goes, you don’t know the value of something until you don’t have it.  I took for granted the easy access and frequent chats and support of my friends.  But then I moved overseas and all of that disappeared.  And what I had instead was a big blank space.

I think this is something really hard about making aliyah.  No one knows you when you move to a new country.  Hopefully you move to a place where people start to see who you are and appreciate you sooner or later but it’s also possible you’re living in a place that isn’t a good fit for you and what you bring to the table isn’t recognized.  I’ve been fortunate to have been seen as someone with a lot to offer in the other communities I’ve lived in, and living in Karmiel has been a different experience for me.  But until I spoke with her I didn’t realize how subtly but steadily not being valued communally has worn away at me and affected my vision of myself.

I’m so grateful for a friendship that is nurturing and affirming, for a friend who doesn’t let me forget who I am or what I bring to this world.  It’s amazing to have someone who knows every part of you – the good, the bad and the ugly – and can with total belief and sincerity encourage you to step into life with the fullest expression of yourself.   I didn’t realize how much I wasn’t doing that until we spoke, and I’m making a commitment to myself to more consciously move towards that.  And since I know lots of you reading are also living too small for yourselves, I’ll be sharing my baby steps with you.