Monthly Archives: February 2015

How to let go of negative thoughts and believe in a good outcome

images-411[1]>>I just read your post about wanting to move before Pesach, and how you tell everyone that you are moving even though you haven’t finalized anything yet.

This has resonated with me a lot, because now I am expecting, but I am scared to tell people. Even though I am showing, I am not telling to people who don’t see me, because I am very anxious – what if something happens?

I am generally not the type to tell people about my plans if it’s not 100%, because I guess if it does not work out, it will look like a failure.<<

Let’s say someone tells you they’re moving, or expecting, or something else.  And then something happens and it doesn’t work out as that person planned.  Do you think, “What a loser”?  Or do you understand that things can change unexpectedly?

Last year I was planning to move and told everyone, and then I was burned so we changed plans.  This year when we decided to move, I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was afraid they would think, ‘Yeah, right, that’s what you said last year.’

Did people who heard about our decision not to move at that time wag their heads knowingly and tell one another, ‘She’s an indecisive, wishy-washy person who can’t make a decision and stick with anything she says’?  Most people are compassionate and understanding, or at least neutral, rather than judgmental if something works out differently than planned for someone else.  We’re much harder on ourselves than other people are.

>>Anyway, do you think that pregnancy is different?<<

There is no failure in pregnancy or giving birth, no matter what the outcome.  Embrace every moment of your pregnancy for the miracle and gift that it is.  Don’t steal this special time from yourself with your fearful thoughts.

>>On the one hand, I am really anxious, and on the other hand, I think it is not positive thinking and not helpful to always think that something bad will happen to me. Is it a lack of bitachon (faith)? <<

Yes, being anxious is a lack of faith – and it’s something we all experience regularly.  When I feel stressed, I take a deep breath and remind myself that I just have to do my part and G-d will do the rest, the outcome isn’t all up to me.  Lately I’ve been saying the Serenity Prayer several times a day, particularly when I feel anxious about something – it’s very powerful if you focus on what you’re saying:

“G-d, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

>>Is there a way I could overcome my worries? <<

I do believe that our thoughts are very influential in creating our reality and it’s worth the effort to make them work for you rather than against you.  My suggestion to help change your negative thoughts is to ask yourself, what am I worried about?  Get a clear idea of what your concern is.  Then, flip it around and picture the exact opposite situation.  For example, someone worrying about giving birth prematurely can picture her healthy full-term newborn infant.

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Any time you feel this worry start to slip in, replace it with a better thought.  At first this will feel impossible because your worry seems real and your positive picture is totally fake.  But if you keep it up, your positive picture will start to feel real and that’s the place you want to get to, when your positive thoughts take on their own power because they feel real.

Avivah

 

Signed contract on home today, where will we be moving?

Ramat-Beit-Shemesh-636x477[1]Things are falling into place!

We finally signed the contract for our new home today!  We officially have six weeks to close, which is considered pretty quick for Israel.  Since I want to move at least a week before Pesach, things will need to move even faster than that!

I asked the lawyer what her opinion was as to the feasibility of the process being completed in time.  She said, “It would be a miracle, but I think your chances are good!”

I’m continuing to envision everything falling into place.  :)

I was waiting until we had a signed contract to tell you where we’ll be moving and now that it’s done, here’s our destination:

Ramat Beit Shemesh A.

Are you surprised or is it what you expected?

Karmiel is lovely and I’m appreciative it’s been a good place for our family, but we’re all really looking forward to moving to RBS!

Avivah

A final opportunity for forgiveness

Forgiveness-and-Freedom[1]Several weeks ago, I got a call that a family member I’ve been out of touch with for many years had been hospitalized.

Despite him playing a significant role in my life when I was younger, I didn’t initially feel a strong emotional response to this news because I made the choice not to maintain a connection with him.

Over the years, I’ve thought about this situation and several times tried to identify what I did wrong in this situation.  But despite my efforts I just couldn’t see it; it seemed clear that I was the one who was wronged.

Last week with the encouragement of a friend who pushed me to do this, I finally identified my part – that while I had let go of resentment long ago, I continued to feel judgmental of him.

A day and a half ago, I talked to my sister about this situation and told her I had identified my part in the issue and wanted to make amends before it was too late.  An in-person visit wasn’t possible since we’re not in the same country, so my sister offered to read aloud a letter if I wanted to write one.  He was unconscious and seemingly unresponsive but we both felt it was likely he could hear.   I told her I preferred to speak to him by phone if the nurse would agree to hold the phone to his ear, but would e-mail a letter if I couldn’t speak to him.

As you know, my laptop is broken and my online access is very limited, so after getting off the phone with her, it wasn’t until 24 hours later that I was able to check for the email she sent with contact information for the hospital.  By then, there  was already another message in my inbox, that he was deteriorating very fast and to send the letter right away.  I immediately called the hospital to speak to him, but the connection was very bad and the receptionist couldn’t understand a word I said.

I tried to call my sister but she couldn’t understand me, either.  I immediately got online, and began to quickly write the letter, hoping against hope that it wasn’t going to be too late.  When I tried to send it, it kept stalling instead of going through.  But finally I got an email confirming it was sent, and my sister sent a message that she was going to go back to the hospital with my letter.

This morning my mom stopped by and while she was here, received a Facebook message on her phone that our relative had passed away.  The time of his death was posted and it was apparent that he died before my sister got there to read my letter.  I was glad I had written the letter and released all remaining negativity, but was extremely disappointed that he wasn’t able to hear it while he was alive.

It was the early hours of the morning in the US when I called my sister to let her know I heard the news, and I realized she wasn’t able to read the letter.  She corrected me, saying the relative who posted the time of death was in a later time zone than she was, and she did make it to the hospital before he died. And what she told me was incredible.

The entire day she had repeatedly told our relative, “Avivah said she has something she wants to say, she’s going to write you a letter.”  And she kept checking her phone, wondering where my letter was and what was taking me so long (this was all taking place during the hours I had no online access), until finally it showed up.  By the time she got my email, she was back at her house but despite the expected snow storm and the hour long return trip, she felt an urgency to get to the hospital.

When she arrived, he was still alive but the hospital chaplain already there and a rabbi said the final prayers.

As soon as he finished, she began reading my letter as fast as she could.  I wrote about my appreciation for the positive memories, I apologized for being judgmental, and then I said that I forgave him.

And as soon as she finished reading those words – “I forgive you” – he took his final breath and died.

Blue sky with clouds and sun may be used as background

Afterward, the nurse said it seemed he was holding out for something, and my sister believes he was waiting for my letter.

I am so, so, so full of emotion and gratitude for the opportunity to have closure from a place of forgiveness and love.

This has been an incredibly moving and powerful experience for me to be part of, it’s something that a week ago I could never have imagined being possible, and it has left me with a sense of emotional peace that I couldn’t have anticipated.

Avivah

How to stay calm when important things don’t seem to be going your way

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It felt to me a little like going out on a limb when I said we’re planning to leave Karmiel.

And for me to now tell you what I really want to have happen regarding our move feels like going out on a teeny tiny limb at the very end of the uppermost branches.

The reason it feels so sensitive to me is that I’m in the middle of a situation in which none of the important pieces are yet in place and yet I’m emotionally committed to a certain outcome.

Here’s specifically what I’m talking about.

We found a home that seems just right for us and finished negotiating the price and terms three weeks ago.  However, the owners live overseas and waiting for the some hard copies of important paperwork to arrive has taken a while.  Meanwhile, my desired moving date is by the last week of March at the latest.  Here are the seeming impediments:

– It’s mid February and the contract isn’t yet signed.

– The apartment is currently rented out to tenants who have a contract until the end of July.  There is no clause in the lease agreement to give them advance notice that would allow us to move sooner.

– We need to find a tenant for our Karmiel home.  You can probably understand why it’s a dilemma to commit to rent out your home beginning April 1, 2015 in order to move to a home that you haven’t even signed a contract on, that will be occupied by others for another six months.

And six weeks is of course much too short a time to remedy any of this…

But.

I believe differently.

I believe that it would be best for us to move before Pesach.

I believe that God wants what is good for us.

And I believe He’s right now making miracles happen behind the scenes so that everything will fall into place for us to move in less than six weeks.

What does this mean?

It means that I’ve told people who asked about our moving timeline that we’ll be in our new home for Pesach even though I don’t yet have external confirmation.  It means that I’ve begun selling furniture that won’t fit the dimensions of our new home.  It means I advertised our apartment for rent with availability listed as April 1.

It also means I contacted the real estate agent and asked him to speak to the tenant and ask them if they’d be interested in moving sooner rather than later, and told him honestly when I’d like to move in even though I felt uncomfortable that it would seem unreasonable.  I told our mortgage broker and real estate lawyer that we would like their help so we can be in our new home for Pesach, too.

While I’m taking these forward moving actions, I’m working on letting go of the results, of trusting that everything will work out as I want without me getting stressed.  I’ve noticed in situations in which I’m powerless, I have a tendency to get anxious or worried because it makes me feel like I’m doing something at a time that I’ve reached a point that I have no more actions to take to affect the outcome.  Because obviously all my stress and negative energy  is creating the outcome I want, right? :)  When I write it like that, it’s obvious that it’s ridiculous but it feels like doing something.

It can be so, so hard to let go of the results when something really matters to you, to trust that everything will fall into place and work out for the best.  I’ve been really working to keep my serenity and that means for me, finding a daily balance between taking actions while letting go of the results.  It’s not so easy.

But I’m feeling an unusual amount of peace in a situation that would usually have had me pulling my proverbial hair out, so that’s a sign I’m finding the balance.

Sharing here with you is part of my process.  I tend to be hesitant to share about things that aren’t yet firmly set, because maybe it won’t work out.  And then I’m afraid I’ll look foolish and flaky and feel embarrassed.

But what would I do if I knew it would work out, if I already had the technical external details in place?  Well, if I really, really believe that everything would fall into place before Pesach (and I do), then it was clear to me those are the actions I should be taking right now.  I would actively prepare to move and part of that is telling people about it now.   So that’s what I’m doing!

I’m looking forward to seeing how everything comes together to make our plans to move for Pesach happen (‘in a calm and pleasant way’ – that’s part of my vision).  I will definitely keep you updated with details of how it happens!

Avivah

My simple laundry system for large families

>>Can you write about laundry system? I do laundry only once a week and I have been contemplating increasing that since the amount seems to be more than I can handle in one day! It was more convenient for a long time because asking the kids to put away their clean clothes once a week, was a lot better than twice (or three) times a week<<

I’m happy to share my laundry system though it’s so simple that’s it doesn’t seem like a system!

There was a time I used to do laundry once a week, but it became overwhelming.  It was so much laundry that one day a week was devoted to just that.  I switched to doing laundry daily – I usually do about 2 – 3 loads a day and it fits in between doing other things so I don’t think about it much.

After it comes out of the washer, I hang it outside, then take it down once it’s dry and make piles of clean laundry according to bedrooms.  So the girls get a pile that they sort through and put away, the older boys have a pile (Yirmiyahu has a drawer in their room so his clothes go in their pile), the younger boys have a pile and dh and I have a pile.  I put away the laundry for dh and myself as well as for the younger boys.  It takes about five minutes daily to put away each pile.

Since the laundry doesn’t have a chance to build up, once it’s clean it doesn’t take long to put it away.   I find doing laundry gratifying and it’s relaxing to hang it to dry (except when it’s super rainy but now that I have three racks that can be moved indoors, the rain isn’t an issue!).

Another bonus is that by washing clothes more frequently, I don’t need as many clothes so that means less money spent on clothing and less clutter in the closets. It also means less laundry since at least in my house, younger children have a way of dumping their clean clothes on the floor, which then gets put in the dirty laundry hamper when they clean their room.  :)  They can’t dump as much when there are fewer clothes!

I rarely iron clothes – I shake out clothes and hang them so the wrinkles fall out, and for things like dress shirts that might need more care, I let the people who care about that level of perfection do the ironing themselves.

So there you have it, my super easy and low pressure laundry system!

Avivah

Why everything breaking at once is a good thing!

On Friday, my washing machine broke.  A few days before that, my laptop was declared corrupted and unfixable.  My phone stopped working completely last week, along with our haircutting machine.

Ds7 exclaimed, “It seems like everything is breaking at the same time!”

Hmm.  It does seem like that.

While hanging the first load of wash from my new machine this morning, I was thinking about what a gift it was to me that all of these things broke simultaneously.  It not only forced me to replace each item with something more suitable (other than no laptop yet :)), but showed me some subtle ways that I’m not honoring myself.

Our phone was having problems for a while – the phone itself was fine but the answering machine was the source of a malfunction.  If we didn’t answer within four rings, instead of the answering machine picking up the caller would get a message that our line had been disconnected.  The electronics store wasn’t close to where I do my regular errands and so I kept pushing off making this purchase.  We lived with it like that for quite a while – for much too long – until the phone totally stopped working and we bought a new one.

I called in the washing machine repair guy a couple of months ago to fix my machine when it wasn’t working.  He told me that it would be so costly to fix it that I’d be better off replacing it but that it would be usable for a while longer if I wanted to play around with the buttons and coax the wash cycle to begin.  That’s what I did, until no amount of coaxing worked.  I got my new (to me) washing machine yesterday, and it’s bigger, faster and more efficient.  It’s a big help in getting through the backlog of laundry I have from four days of not doing wash.  :)

I’ve been thinking about where frugality ends and self-denial begins.  On one hand, it’s a good thing to use something fully and well, to appreciate it and not be hasty to discard it if it can still serve you.

On the other hand, it’s not a good thing to hold onto things that are hampering your functioning in the name of using it up.

These things were functioning.  They weren’t working well but I didn’t feel a sense of urgency to replace them even though they were inconveniencing me and others.  I move clutter out of my house regularly and often and don’t think of myself as having a clutter issue, but these items showed me that nonetheless I sometimes still hold onto things that aren’t serving me well.

Whenever we hold on to things that we don’t need or that don’t serve us, to some degree we give ourselves a subtle unspoken message about our own personal value as well as reflecting a lack of trust that our needs can and will be fully met. Just like by keeping clutter around, I was compromising myself by not prioritizing my needs and getting what I needed when I needed it.

Getting rid of what doesn’t serve you makes room for better things to come into your life.  Thanks to these items breaking, my life is now filled with more things that meet my needs and that makes me feel abundant.   Out with the old, in with the new!

Avivah

Recommendation for mortgage broker in Israel

Frugal as I am, there are times that paying a professional is the absolute best use of your money.

Choosing to work with a mortgage broker is one of these times.  It was thanks to our mortgage broker, Adam Siegel, that were were able to buy our apartment in Karmiel.  We spoke to another broker who works for the same office who said there was no way to get a mortgage for our purchase approved.  Adam was referred to me by a friend who was a real estate investor in the US and now works in real estate in Israel, and this a referral that I’ve been very grateful for a number of times.

Adam is amazing at thinking out of the box and finding solutions.  Not only is he highly efficient at finding financing solutions to unorthodox purchasing situations, he’s a very nice person.  This is something you especially appreciate when you have a complicated loan and things get delayed somewhere, but rather than adding to the stress by getting upset, he stays calm and reassures you it will all work out.  And it does.

Now that we’re living in Israel and I can go into banks myself to apply for loans, would I still recommend using a mortgage broker?  Yes, one thousand percent!  A broker can generally get better terms than what you can get for yourself when walking in off the street.  But even if the terms were the same, the sanity that having someone else handle this aspect of home buying brings to my life makes it worth every single penny and more.

The paperwork for buying a home here is much more complicated than in the US and there are huge penalties for not closing the purchase within the time specified in your sales contract.  I appreciate not having to worry about making sure the banks get the paperwork done in the time specified in the contract; the broker does. We didn’t have much paperwork when when we bought our house in the US.  The file when we bought our Karmiel apartment was literally several hundred pages.  I hate paperwork.

Also, it’s extremely helpful to have an English speaker who can explain all the technical legal terms you’re signing on.  The terms of a mortgage are quite important to clearly understand before you sign anything.

Obviously, Adam is once again handling our mortgage for our new home. :)

I strongly encourage people to buy a home in Israel if it’s at all possible, and finding someone who knows how to effectively facilitate the process makes a huge difference in being successful in this or not.

If you want to reach Adam, here are his details:

  • email: asiegel@mortgageisrael.com
  • if calling from Israel – 052-714-4056
  • if calling from the US – 845-364-7476

If you give Adam a call, be sure to let him know that I recommended him!

Avivah

And this is what I’ve been busy with lately….

Lately I’ve been dealing with the kind of tension that strongly reminds me of when we were preparing to move to Israel.

I had a lot of anxieties about our moving plans and sometimes wanted to share about it here as well as how I countered those anxieties.  However, I didn’t want to give more power to my worries by writing about them.   I didn’t want to say anything about it until all the details were worked out because of my fear that it wouldn’t work out and then once it all worked out, it didn’t seem worth writing about because it was in the past.

Later, I regretted not having shared about it because it was an incredibly powerful time that forced me to develop a lot of faith and trust that things would work out for us despite everything around us seeming to point to it being impossible.  Well, the spiritual muscles I developed at that time have gotten flabby and now I’m having to work them out again!

Here’s what’s going on:

We’re planning to leave Karmiel and move to a city near the center of the country.  

You probably remember that last year I announced we were planning to move, and then I was burned.  It was clear after my accident that it wasn’t the right time to move.  When we decided to stay in Karmiel, we were hoping it would be for the long term.  We wanted it to be for the long term.  But as lovely as it is here, we have many reasons for moving and these have only gotten stronger with the passage of time.  We’re not moving away from anything but moving toward something that better fits our needs.

In the last ten weeks I’ve been busy looking for a new home and though the details aren’t all worked out, things are moving forward!

As of now I’ve found a home to purchase, gotten financing approval, gotten a verbal approval from the seller, and last night approved the sales contract our lawyer forwarded to us from their lawyer.  I hope we’ll be signing a purchase contract very soon (the sellers live overseas so all parts of the process take longer).  I just made a process that has been emotionally draining sound really nice and easy, didn’t I??  :)

It hasn’t been nice and easy.

I’m happy to say that even though there are some things that I could be stressing out about right now, I’m feeling calm and relaxed.  I’m a person who finds uncertainty stressful and I’ve had to remind myself a number of times that if I’m feeling stressed, it’s because of how I’m thinking about things. It’s helped me to say the Serenity Prayer several times a day and actively try to apply this perspective to the challenges that come up.

I’m not yet able to answer questions about when and where we’ll be moving but will share that with you as more specifics are worked through!

Avivah

 

A return visit to the burn unit to say ‘thank you’

I’m sorry I haven’t been around much lately.  I’ve been super busy and on top of that my laptop has been out of commission and when I have access to my husband’s computer in the later hours of the evening, I’m too tired to think straight anymore!  But I miss you all when I don’t write.

A while ago I took Yirmiyahu for a standard hearing test.  It wasn’t clear at that time if he was hearing well or not.  Initially he responded to all the tones but after several times turning his head to the sound of someone calling his voice and seeing no one there, he began to look intently at the woman in the glass enclosed room when she spoke into her microphone (though her mouth was covered) instead of looking to the speakers that her voice emanated from.  I’m not concerned about his hearing but this is something that has to be checked out to be sure there’s no issue and the way to do it with a child this young is via the BERA test which tests the brains response to auditory stimulus while a child is asleep.

To make a long and exhausting story short, after traveling for the BERA test to a hospital in a different city that’s only a thirty minute drive away but an hour and a half trip on two different buses, he fell asleep after being given the medication.  The technician attached the electrodes to his head, and as she was almost finished, he stirred and sleepily opened his eyes.  If he hadn’t seen a strange woman looming over him and had black wires hanging down over his eyes, he probably would have fallen right back to sleep but he was very alarmed.  I waited 2.5 hours for him to fall asleep again, but the same thing happened then. So I had no choice but to reschedule for this week.

It was very frustrating to spend so long traveling and then waiting there for four hours and return home late in the afternoon not having been able to get the hearing test done, which takes maybe 15 minutes at the very most.  But one thing I was able to do while walking him around in the stroller trying to lull him to sleep was to visit the nurses in the burn unit where I was hospitalized in April so they could see how well I’m doing.

I had such a powerful emotion that came over me as I walked into the unit.  I had never walked in to the unit before – when I was admitted ten months ago, I was wheeled in with bandages covering my face.  Though my eyes weren’t burned, my sight was affected for the first few days and on that evening I could hardly see anything.

I didn’t expect the nurses to recognize me since I looked very different at that point than I do now, but both nurses I saw remembered me when I started to speak.  I started to say hello, and I hardly had a chance to say anything before I started crying.   It’s interesting that other than the exceptions that I wrote about, I didn’t cry much during my hospitalization but since then, I’ve had a  number of waves of emotion that come over me when thinking about my accident and God’s amazing kindness to me.  I told the nurse I don’t know why now I’m getting so emotional when everything is fine and then when things looked so bad I wasn’t crying.  She smiled and said, “They’re happy tears,”  and she’s totally right.

She told me how wonderful I look and told me that she would have to look with a magnifying glass to see the remaining signs of the burns. To me it’s noticeable but many people have said they can’t tell I was ever burned, and I’m not going to point out the signs of the accident!  That same evening I went to an event and saw many people who I hadn’t seen since before I was burned, and all of them were exclaiming that they couldn’t believe that I look ‘perfect’.  I’m telling you, you get so many compliments on how good you look after an accident like this!  In all the years before this put together I didn’t get as many compliments as I have in the last eight months.  :)

Beginning three days after I was burned, I took a picture each morning while in the hospital.  Not because I wanted to see how bad I looked – I didn’t – but because I believed that one day I would be healed.  And I knew that I would look back and think it must not have been so bad, that in the intensity of the experience it felt worse to me than it really was.  The pictures are a tangible proof for me to remember that, yes, it really was that bad, but I don’t have to look at them to appreciate how incredibly fortunate I was.

Avivah