Monthly Archives: March 2015

Saying goodbye to Karmiel

It’s our final night here in Karmiel and while things are moving along nicely, there’s a certain amount of things you just can’t pack in advance which makes the final hours busy.  I’m here blogging because I’ve been going and going all day on very little sleep, and need to have an early night.  But I’m feeling relaxed and calm even though I’m tired.

The movers are supposed to be here by 6:30 am, which means everyone and everything has to be ready by then.  I’m going to be taking ds9, ds7, ds5 and ds2 with me on a bus to Jerusalem, where dd20 will meet us and we’ll all take a bus from there to Ramat Beit Shemesh.  The plan is to be there before the movers so I’ll be able to direct them where to put things.  Ds21 and ds16 are at our new apartment now, painting so when we move in it will feel fresh and clean.  They’ll be there when the movers get there even if I’m delayed on the bus.  Dd18 and dd14 will take a bus a couple of hours after me, and dh and ds12 will stay behind to finish cleaning and painting our Karmiel apartment.

I have a good feeling of closure here in Karmiel.  Last week one shul made a kiddush for our family and we got to say goodbye to some people.  Then midweek there was a goodbye party for me and I got to say goodbye to other friends. This Shabbos there was a kiddush at a different shul for our family and that was a chance to say goodbye to others.  Also this Shabbos a friend was making a bar mitzva, and when I went to say mazel tov to her, I was able to say my goodbyes to a number of Hebrew speaking women with whom I’m friendly at yet another synagogue.

Shabbos afternoon I went to our corner park where my kids spent hours every week with friends, and chatted with the regulars there.  Then I went to the home of a close Israeli friend and visited with her until Shabbos was over.  Tonight my mother had us for dinner which was a huge help, and we got to spend time with her.  It’s all come together to be the perfect way to say goodbye to a number of the people we feel connected to here.

While it feels like the right time to be making this move and that RBS is the right place for our family to be moving to, I am just done with moving.  I’m grateful that our kids are so willing to work with us to get everything done, and they’re a huge part of why our moving preparations are going smoothly.  Even so, I don’t want to have to do this again.  Our hope and plan is that this will be where we plant ourselves for good.

My goal is to get our home fully unpacked by Tuesday evening.  I realize that’s just a day and a half after moving in but I want to direct my attention to settling in physically as quickly as we can so it will leave two days to figure out where to go shopping and prepare for Pesach.  It’s not a lot of time but I’m optimistic that we can get it done in a calm and joyful way.  I’ll try to check in before Pesach to let you know how things are going!

Avivah

 

Miracles are happening and our moving plans are going forward!

In November dh and I began to reconsider moving to RBS, an idea we put aside last spring.  On Jan. 28, I consciously set an intention to be living in RBS by Pesach, two months later.  Considering that we hadn’t yet signed a purchase agreement on a home, this was an ambitious goal!

There have been a number of bumps in the roads, obstacles that made this vision of mine look highly unrealistic.  With each bump I kept holding on to my desire, reminding myself that while it would be impossible for me to accomplish this goal on my own, what are big obstacles to me are nothing to God.  There have been a lot of steps involved in holding on to my goal – it began with having the courage to admit to myself what I wanted, then having the courage to believe I could have it, and then continuing to believe it would will work out every time some new challenge made it seem impossible.

Remember I told you there were tenants living there and they had a contract to be there until the end of July?  About a month ago I was told that they found a place to move to and our new apartment would be vacant 2 – 4 weeks before we wanted to move in.  This was very exciting, it was the first of the three major pieces that needed to fall into place for us to move – and then those plans fell apart and ten days ago they told me they didn’t know when they would be able to find something else since it’s so hard to find rentals.

I kept holding on to my vision of moving before Pesach, picturing them finding an apartment that would suit their needs very soon.

Three days later, I called them and they told me they found something and would be moving a week later!  Today they moved out, less than a week before we want to move in.

On Thursday I spoke to my lawyer, who said due to a delay in some paperwork they were waiting for from the seller, it would be impossible to close the sale before our moving date.  It looked obvious that we had hit the brick wall at the end of the road.

But I didn’t give up – I still held onto my vision of moving at the end of March.  I decided to contact the sellers and ask them if they would consider letting us move in even if the contract wasn’t closed.  I trusted that whatever would they would say would be God’s answer to me.  If I wasn’t meant to move, it wouldn’t be because I gave up but because it was clear that was what was meant to happen.

While waiting to hear back from the sellers, I contacted our mortgage broker.  I had hoped to close within five weeks of the contract being signed, which is extremely fast for Israel.  Clearly with just two weeks to work with, he would need more time and I wanted to know how much more time he anticipated it would take.

I wasn’t prepared for his answer.  He told me he should be able to push our paperwork through by by Sunday (the day before we move), possibly even by this Thursday.  I already posted about him and told you he’s amazing but this puts him up in the miracle worker category, seriously.  I’ve never ever heard of anyone in this country being able to get their mortgage paperwork done in a week and a half.   I told him I didn’t see how he could do this so fast, and he said, “Well, you told me you scheduled the movers on Monday!”  God has many messengers.

Later that same day the sellers called me and said they’d be willing to let us move in before the sale was finalized if a few conditions were met (all of which we agreed to).  I told them this was our backup plan, not our first choice, and that if things go as expected the sale will be completed before we move.  They were very pleasant to deal with.  It’s a wonderful feeling to know that whatever happens, we can move forward as planned.

All of this happened yesterday and I’m so grateful to have this confirmation a full week before we move!  There’s been a lot of uncertainty.

This experience has been very powerful for me.  Once everything works out, it looks like it was a natural matter of course for things to fall into place as they did.  But when you’re on the other side, it doesn’t look like that at all.  A couple of days ago a friend said that when I told her I was planning to move to RBS for Pesach, she thought to herself, “She’s dreaming, it’s impossible!”

Someone else called me yesterday to tell me she hoped I wasn’t going to be too disappointed when nothing worked out the way that I wanted, that I was hoping for things that weren’t realistic and I needed to accept God’s will and timing.  I told her that this is all about me accepting God’s will and timing – instead of living down to my old ‘realistic’ expectations.

Miracles are happening!

Avivah

Enjoying our adult children visiting on Election Day

Today is election day in Israel and though of course I went to vote, I’m not into it this year at all.

But the positive part about election day is that I now have three children who are of age to vote.  And the significance of that is, to vote they need to come to Karmiel.  Dd20 couldn’t make the trip (over seven hours roundtrip by public transportation), but ds21 and dd18 came.  (We take our civic duty to vote seriously around here!)

Dd18 got a ride and arrived home at 1:30 am.  We had a nice chat before we both headed off to bed.  The younger boys always get excited when there older siblings come home and this morning I had some very happy boys when they woke up and saw she was here!  We went to vote together; I took ds8 in to the polls with me and she took ds5.

Ds21 arrived home at 2:30 in the afternoon, an hour after dd18 left.  He hasn’t been home since Chanuka and though he was initially planning to stay just 45 minutes – long enough to vote and turn back around and go back – he told me about three hours later that it’s just too hard for him to leave as planned.  He enjoys being home too much.  Oh, the problems we all have.  :)

I sometimes think about how different it is being a child in our home now and ten years ago.  It’s pretty amazing having older siblings who bring you things and take you on trips and give you lots of attention.  Ds8 was so happy to see ds21, and about two hours into ds21’s time here, spontaneously exclaimed, “I just LOOOOOOOOOOVE you so much!” followed by him throwing his arms around his big brother’s waist and squeezing him as hard as he could.  They really love their siblings and their siblings really love them.

Ds21 ended up staying 4 hours and 45 minutes, and we all thoroughly enjoyed his company.  I shmoozed with him while he packed up his stuff for the move and somehow he made time to talk and play with all of the kids.  He and dd18 both asked if I minded if they would come back three days before our scheduled move instead of coming earlier to help pack up our home.  (Yep, as of last night our move has been scheduled!  March 30 in case you’re wondering.   :))

I’d love it if they could come a week earlier when their spring break begins, but my older kids financially support themselves and before Pesach there’s a lot of work helping people clean available (last year ds21 started a cleaning and painting service with a friend).  They asked if I minded if they stayed in Jerusalem longer to work and though I’d love to see more of them, I appreciate that they’re financially responsible and hard-working.  Last year they asked ds16 to come to Jerusalem to work with them, which he did for a few days.  One family in Jerusalem has now had my four oldest kids working for them!  (They met dd20 when she took over for dd18 when her arm was broken after her car accident.) If they ask him again, I’ll probably agree.

I figure that once they all get home, even though we’ll only have a Friday and Sunday for them to help pack before we move, we can get a lot done working together!

Avivah

The power of interacting with others from a place of inner strength

inner-strength-2[1]Someone asked me if I’m happy to be leaving Karmiel because of some less than pleasant experiences I’ve had with neighbors, and someone else asked if I’m relieved that once I move I will no longer be the building representative.

The short answer is that I’m not running away from anyone; my neighbors are for the most part nice people but at times I was given the opportunity to work on being compassionate without losing my sense of myself.

While I can’t claim my thinking created miracles (though someone else who used to live in my area said my relationship with one of these people is miraculous), I’ve always been pleasant to my neighbors and am leaving on good or at least neutral terms with them all.

Now for an update on being the building representative!

As the volunteer building representative for my apartment building who handles the finances and maintenance for the building, I’ve experienced some challenges in dealing with people who are used to communicating very aggressively.

This week, I hosted a meeting of building residents for which I had a list of things I wanted to go over.  In addition to electing a new representative to replace me when I move, I also wanted to give a financial report, establish a set policy for dealing with those who don’t pay, get approval for electric repairs, decide about what to do with the tiles I bought that weren’t used, get agreement to hire someone to find the source of the new leaks, and changing to a different cleaner.    Meetings usually take a long time but my goal was to finish the meeting in an hour.

Prior to the meeting, I repeatedly mentally set my intention to have a positive meeting, to be of service and to stay calm and focused.  I wanted to be very settled internally because a lot of emotion comes out in these meetings.

I started on time and went right down my list of issues.  Sure enough, someone started attacking me, saying I did something against what was agreed on.  I took a report from a past meeting out of my file and read it aloud to everyone, noting everyone had agreed to the action that I had consequently taken regarding a given repair, with signatures – including the person who was making claims against me.  Two more times in the meeting when I was attacked I pulled out minutes from past meetings to prove that everything I had done was in accordance to what was agreed on by everyone.

There were times when people began to argue and yell.  Each time I cut them off, firmly reminding them that right now we’re only discussing things that relate to building business, and only discussing what the issue at hand.  I also told them to lower their voices and speak calmly so we could have a productive meeting – and though I had to do this several times throughout the meeting, they were responsive.

I saved the topic of elections for last.  I hadn’t yet told anyone that I’m moving, and some people thought it was the actions of someone in the past against me that was causing me to step down.  One woman told everyone that there’s never been a time in this building that everything has been taken care of so well, and she’s renominating me.  Everyone began to agree, so I had to let them know at this point that I’m not going to be living here much longer and that’s why I need to transfer this position.

There was hesitancy to volunteer so I reminded them that they don’t have to start from scratch like I did.  When I took over in Aug. 2013, no one was filling this role for a number of months.  There was hardly any money in the account, there were repairs that hadn’t been attended to for years, the electric bill was overdrawn by six months and the building was filthy.  No one wanted to take on the job because frankly, it’s a thankless task and in this case, there was so much that hadn’t been dealt with for so long that it was a bit overwhelming.

Now  the building is clean and for the most part in good repair (there’s always something new that comes up), there’s a healthy balance in the account, and all the technical aspects of smoothly transferring the position up are in place.  Finally three people agreed to jointly take it on.

An hour and three minutes after we began, I officially called the meeting to an end and thanked everyone for their participation.  We covered every single item, voted on a new committee and I felt very positively about how it went.

One woman waited for everyone else to leave and said to me, “You’ve transformed how meetings in this building are run.  There’s never been so little fighting and so much accomplished, and it’s because of how you manage things people are willing to participate.”  I was doubtful that anything I did would have made such a difference but she insisted that in twenty five years meetings have never been as efficient and productive as when I took over.  I thanked her for her feedback and told her I hope that whatever positive change there was will continue when I leave.

Often when  people ask me about how to deal with their children  I say it’s important to find a place of loving strength inside themselves.  This is a hard thing to put into words because it’s something you sense rather than see but it’s critical in giving your children the confidence to follow your lead.  Finding this place in yourself is true not just in parenting, but in other situations as well.

It’s taken time to get to know the different people here and understand their way of communicating.  When I began, I felt my effort to treat others respectfully was construed as weakness.  I spoke to a businessman about how to handle the dynamics of the situation and he told me in such a difficult situation as what I was dealing with, it would require bringing in a very aggressive outside person since they would only respect someone like that.

But in the end, I was able to be effective in this situation by finding my place of inner strength and calm, and communicating with the people here from that space.

With all the challenges and frustrations I’ve had while in this position, I’m nonetheless very grateful for the opportunity to internalize certain qualities in myself that I wouldn’t have been forced to develop had I been consistently treated as I would have liked.  It’s been a real growth opportunity and what it brought out in me is something I’ll take with me when I move.

Avivah

‘Bought’ movie, view free until Mar. 6

Sometimes I feel discouraged about the direction the world is moving in and wonder what it will be like when my children are raising children.  I wonder if they will have the freedom to make choices that are in line with their beliefs and values.  Will they be able to choose (for example) home birth, home education, and alternative health care choices for their children?

Last week I watched the new documentary Bought with dh, dd14 and ds12.

The goal of this program is to open a conversation about who is manufacturing our food and medicines, who is dictating policies regarding both, and how this is affecting our health.  We don’t have much transparency in these areas and consumers deserve to know more about this so we can make informed choices for our families.

This program confirmed much of what I already know, but it didn’t depress me.  Actually, it gave me hope.  Hope that there are a lot more people out there who are doing the research that I’m doing, who are coming to conclusions that I’ve come to, who are concerned about the same things that concern me.

As dh said when we finished watching, it was very nice to feel that we’re not alone.

‘Bought’ is available to watch online for free until March 6.  It raises valid issues that would be of concern to almost all of us if we knew what was involved.  I’m a proponent of the concept of ‘informed consent’, and we can’t make informed choices when critical information is withheld for the sake of financial profits.  I would love to believe that people are rising up and demanding transparency from the major manufacturers, but the real power will come from a critical mass of educated parents making these demands in unison.

Avivah