Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Burning Bush

This is a hard one for me. It’s more written in frustration after hearing another story of a brave woman who is doing her best to protect her kids and herself from an abusive father/ex-husband. I fully accept that G-d gives us challenges so intense that it takes our breath away. What I find tragic and unacceptable is that people make it harder. We are not victims of our circumstances, we are survivors of our circumstances, yet sometimes we are your victims. Victims of slander, of pity, of judgement, of communities who don’t know the truth but assume they do. I am privileged to hear so many heartbreaking stories and I hope someone will read this and recognize the consequences of that type of behavior. 

We do what we have to in order to survive this life. We find comfort and enjoyment wherever we can and we hope you don’t judge us to harshly for we are not you. We use whatever means possible to get through what you don’t even imagine our lives are. We turn to books or to music or to food or to drink or to hours of mind numbing screen time. We are currently surviving. We survive sickness or abuse or divorce or loss of jobs and friends and family and community. Whatever we are going through, it’s harder then we imagined and we are actually surprised we got out of bed today. We are all being tested and challenged and broken and healed. We are quiet in our deepest pains and fears and bite our tongues when you think you know. What good will it do trying to reason with people who know what’s best for you but don’t know who you are. Why waste an ounce of our precious energy trying to explain the way we cope when you don’t care what it is we are living through. You are not the one drying our tears, you don’t even want to recognize the tears. This life we all get to live is our journey set out to us by G-d to reach a destination only He knows. So why judge us that our path is not your path, that our way is not your way? If it makes you uncomfortable just move aside. Don’t be part of the problem. The ones who sit on their thrones in judgement and gather in the hen house clucking their “heartfelt” concerns for our wellbeing. Recognize that you are not given the vision of G-d to know what is in our lives and in our hearts and minds. Give us the dignity of honest support and love and friendship. Hold our hands and wipe our tears and silently bear witness to the struggle, or sit in your place of judgement reminding us all that you don’t approve and you would do it differently. I know that you like to pretend that life is a math equation, sterile and logical and if you do the right thing, you will succeed, but in your heart you know that is a falsehood. But that makes you fearful so you perpetuate the lie and punish those who have the bad fortune of knowing the truth. Every so often you catch a glimpse of that truth in the life of someone you come across and it enrages you so much. The loss of control the chaos of it all, it challenges all of your beliefs and instead of recognizing it, you punish the one who made you feel that way. You take the person surviving the storm and you make it worse. You punish them and condemn them and turn their storm into a blizzard. You, the righteous, and upstanding citizen. The do gooder and the educator. Let me help you understand this. The people you are hurting are the burning bush. They are in the fire and still living. They are living their worst nightmares and still feeding their kids but you are telling them to clean their kitchen. They didn’t voluntarily walk into the fire, they were put there with no choice but to survive and that is exactly what they are doing. You cannot gaze into the bush and live like you did before. So please, either take off your shoes or walk away. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Next Year in Jerusalem

Many years ago, we were taken out of slavery and taught how to live as free people. We became a nation at that time. A strong vibrant and shining example of goodness and kindness and righteousness in this world, that doesn’t always appreciate it. But this is just a prelude to the ultimate redemption. This is learning to live with faith despite the pain we all endure. This is trusting that G-d is good and that all of our suffering is for a reason. The final redemption will be so different. It will be understanding why all of that was so necessary but now we are completely redeemed. Free from our fears, from our past, from our pain, free from our challenges, free from our sicknesses, free from our guilt, and free to live without all of that. This is why we talk about it every year at the Seder. We started something and haven’t finished it yet. We started a journey of faith and growth and haven’t yet reached our destination. So let us check our map again every year and make sure we are still on the right path. The path that leads to “Next year in Jerusalem”. I am confident that we are on the right path, that G-d sees the good and that we will truly celebrate our ultimate redemption “This year in Jerusalem”
Have a beautiful and enjoyable Pesach. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Trachea Change

Every three months
We remove the lifeline and put in another. 
It’s necessary and seems so routine. 
But it feels like I might die
Every three months. 
I watch and hold his hand and look into his eyes because he can tell from my eyes if he is ok. 
So I lie, deep into my eyes. 
I watch and listen as he begins to deflate. 
The air escaping makes a gurgling sound. 
His chest falling and not rising. 
His eyes wide with fear looking into my lying eyes as I reassure him his next breath is coming. 
There is a calm frenzy getting the new one in and watching and hoping his chest will rise again. 
Cleaning the blood, making sure he is breathing well, cleaning more blood. 
When all is done, he drifts to sleep with the help of amazing drugs. 
I am still holding his hand looking at his eyes, 
so grateful that no one is looking at mine. 
Every three months. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

There Are No Words

It’s been a while since I wrote last. Generally, I write when I have something to say, but this time I am writing because I have nothing to say. My words have stopped working. Words are merely names we have given to feelings and emotions and things. They don’t begin to scratch the surface of the depth, the intensity, the fear, and the pain. A month and a half ago I almost lost my Yitzi, my heart, my soul, and my best friend. What words would even remotely work to describe that?  It is taking me a very long time to get past that. In the past, I have prepared for all sorts of emergencies, just in case something happens. I told myself-although we need to be prepared, thank G-d, we have never had an emergency. Now not only can I not say that but I know how one minute may mean all the difference in the world.  I fooled myself into thinking we are stable and are not in any imediate danger. So how can I possibly sleep? What if this time I don’t hear his machine’s alarm? How can I even think of traveling? Yitzi of course bounced back five minutes later. He has totally refocused on writing even more, learning even more, and telling the kids where they come from so they can see where they are going. He is so busy living in the best way possible, and I find that both amazing and slightly annoying.  He is thriving and I am not.

At the same time we have had a huge shift in our nurses. All of the nurses we had 4 months ago, left. One had a baby, one got an awesome job as a hospital administrator, three went back to school and the last was just working too many jobs. We have had some luck on getting new ones and will keep working at it until we are fully staffed. As you can imagine, or better yet, as I hope you cannot imagine, this has not made anything easier. The many nights I have stayed up just watching the man I love sleep- making sure he is still breathing and listening for any changes in the sounds of the flow of air- has made things even more challenging. It is  lonely to sit in silence just watching for hours on end. I can almost hear the sound of my heart breaking. If I ignore the tubes and the machines, I can fool myself into thinking nothing has changed, he is just sleeping.  I took a little break from anything public. No talks for two months, no traveling, and just focusing on my family. I thought this would be a good way to recharge and reassure the kids and find some sort of strength from somewhere so deep I am having a hard time locating it. I had hoped I could take the kids out on sundays, do things Yitzi used to do with them. The beach, the mountains, play games, ride horses, eat ice cream. But what I have done is stay up every weekend night and sleep all Sunday and cancel time after time on my kids. They know someone has to be nurse, but as they say, neither their father nor mother can do regular mommy and daddy things. I am so tired of disappointing them. Thankfully there are a few young men in the community that have been helping out the last few weekends and I actually got to take one daughter to the dentist but we have yet to make it to the horses. There are times when I wish we could lock the doors and hide from the world. Just hug the kids and focus on them. They want so much to be a regular family with privacy and routine. The younger three have really been struggling with the constant flow of people at all times. We tried implementing certain visiting hours. 
Monday through Thursday from 5pm and on is family time, but there has yet to be a day where it was enforced and that is my fault. I want Yitzi to be happy and he loves all of the visitors, and I have a really hard time saying no. But Yitzi has reminded me that he is a father and wants the kids to be happy and he will be happy if they are. So from here on we will be closing our door on occasion and perhaps telling you it’s not a good time. And hopefully soon the kids will feel 'normal' again.  
I am looking forward to a day when this trauma becomes the foundation to something positive that can be built on it, but for now, I am doing my best to practice what I preach.  Find things that bring some joy and some peace of mind. Be patient and kind to myself until I am able to stand a bit more firmly on my own two feet. And recognize that when things are not OK, its acceptable to not be OK (temporarily). I am looking forward to the day that I can once again smile from my heart.

Monday, September 18, 2017

We Can Make The World Better

As this year comes to a close, it is time to look back at the last year and see what we have accomplished and where we could have done more. Personally and professionally. The highlights of the year and the lowlights. Where our strengths lie and where our weaknesses lie. Professionally, it was a good year. I spoke over 50 times in over 30 cities. I fully acknowledge that with this challenge of ours, G-d has given both Yitzi and I a gift. A job and a mission. Although I am certain I can always do better and do more, it was quite a year. I cried with and laughed with and hugged people around the world. We shared our pain and our challenges and our love with each-other. And then I went home and fell apart. It is so hard to hear the pain that is in your hearts. I am not the type to forget it and not too good at compartmentalizing. It weighs heavily on me and on some days when I have not slept enough, it seems that the pain of this world far out weighs any good, and I feel so sad. I realize that there appears to be two different sources of our pain. One is Directly from G-d, and the other is indirectly. We know that really it is all from G-d, but the way of the world is that it appears to be brought on by other people. This second kind of pain is much harder to carry and tends to make people so bitter. In traveling around, I have heard so many stories of injustices brought on by friends, family and people we work with. Injustices so severe, they cause health problems. Some as serious as heart attacks and some as seemingly benign as headaches and lack of sleep. I know for myself that I can pretty much cope with my life, but when someone I rely on is not reliable, I do get mad. When a night nurse does not show up, I become an angry monster. How dare people make life harder then it needs to be? This is where I think we can all do better this coming year. G-d has given us enough challenges, who do we think we are to add to it? My resolution for this year is to NEVER add to the pain of another person. Whether they are my friend, my family, strangers, or people I work with, it makes no difference. They are all people who have enough pain in their hearts to last a lifetime. I beg of you to join me in this. Make it your mission to only be a source of goodness and kindness and compassion and love and generosity and discipline. (For now, I think honesty is going to be put on the back burner. Honesty can be mean and hurtful when it is spoken without compassion, and yes, it hurts me to say that.) If what you want to accomplish cannot be done with positivity, then don't do it. If G-d is good, and we are in his image, we need to be good. If what you are doing is causing pain to others, you are not acting in His image. It does not matter what your job is and it does not matter what the other person did. You are responsible for you. If you want this world to be better, be better. Next year, at this time, I want to be able to honestly say, I made this world better. I listened and I cried and I laughed and I helped. There are parts of our lives we have no control over, but how we treat others is well within our control. Let's do better. Let's be better. Perhaps we cannot fix the whole world, but we most definitely can make it so much better. May G-d bless you with a good and kind heart, with good health and beautiful families. May you always have plenty of resources to give- time, money, love and kindness, and may this year bring us everlasting peace, the ultimate healing, the coming of Moshiach. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Few Thoughts on Love

Today is a fabulous day. It is the day we began writing our special Torah, 4 years ago in a beautiful Vinyard in Temecula. It is also the day Yitzi comes out with his fabulous marriage advice for men. He works so hard in the hopes of bringing couples closer together. I am really no match for him, but I would like to share a thought or two on marriage advice for wives. It's more important to have a beautiful marriage then to have the perfect husband. It is our choice weather we engage fully in our marriage or not. It is up to us to cherish what we have everyday, because who knows what tomorrow may bring. We need to recognize that our heart beats in our husband's chest, and when he is happy, our heart is safe. When he feels unappreciated and alone, our heart that he holds suffers. Be loving and creative in ways to connect to each other. Do not live in the past, live today and dream about an even better tomorrow. None of us are perfect and hopefully we all learned from any mistakes we have made. Let it go and be open to positive change. As long as there is life, there is hope for love, for connection, for companionship and for dreams. BE ALIVE.

As I write this, I am waiting to board a plane to Australia. I am so excited to meet so many people there, and I am terrified to go so far from Yitzi. He has given me his word he will be there waiting when I get back. I travel and speak because Yitzi believes I must and his faith in me has made me a much better person. This I believe is the most powerful gift G-d has given us. The ability to love so much you go beyond yourself. As this auspicious day comes to an end, I bless all of you to love and be loved so strongly that there is no room left for fear, for doubt, for hurt, for anger and for hate.