Playing Jenga Without You

Grief is a crazy thing. 

You can be having a regular, normal day. A great one, even. You might even be the one giving Chizuk to a friend in need. 

Then WHAM! 

It is really like being blindsided. You don't sense it coming, but when it hits, it's like being hit by a truck. 

Tonight it was a small disappointment, but it is one that makes this Jenga tower we are living on a little more unstable.  

Maybe tomorrow someone will place a piece to make it more balanced. For right now, I feel the weight of single parenting and the loss of Trip'n Daddy immensely.  He was always there.  Maybe not the best in a crisis..but there.  We would be in this together. 

Of course, it didn't help that as I am getting this piece of news the following song was playing on my iTunes DJ. (True confessions, it was the Glee version.  I had never even heard of it before Rachel sang it on Glee...)

Without You (David Guetta)
I can't win, I can't reign
I will never win this game
Without you, without you

I am lost, I am vain,
I will never be the same
Without you, without you

I won't run, I won't fly
I will never make it by
Without you, without you

I can't rest, I can't fight
All I need is you and I,
Without you, without.... You!
I can't quit now, this can't be right
I can't take one more sleepless night
Without you, without you

I won't soar, I won't climb
If you're not here I'm paralyzed without you, without you

I can't look, I'm so blind
Lost my heart, I lost my mind without you without... You!

I am lost, I am vain,
I will never be the same
Without you, without you, WITHOUT YOU

Mountain Climbing

This is for you. You know exactly who you are.
The view from Mt. Hermon

Listen to me. You are incredibly strong. You are doing everything you can to make your life better.

It is an uphill climb, but trust me, when you get to the crest you will look back and say, "Look what I did!"

The view will be beautiful. 
You will feel strong, empowered, and renewed. 

You can live your dreams. Just get through each day one step at a time.

Remember to look behind you as you climb, because you will see a posse of people following. We are all ready to catch you if you fall and we will support you in whatever way you need. You can even ask us for help, hugs, and scream, rant, and rave at us. We can take it. Our reward is seeing you succeed.

You can be happy. You WILL be happy.
We won't have it ANY other way. 

Loving Living in Israel #1

This is a new series that I am starting to record those "Only in Israel" moments that remind me, usually out of the blue, why I love living in Israel.

Driving around the Yishuv today I noticed a whole bunch of these harbingers of Purim welcoming the joyful spirit of Adar into our little town.

At the Yishuv Doar (Post Office)

On the Door to the Mazkirut (Office)

Writing Workshop: Listening to a Loved One

The assignment came via email: 

Please read and consider the following quote from Natalie Goldberg's excellent book, Writing Down the Bones.

"Writing is 90 percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you....You don't only listen to the person speaking to you across the table, but simultaneously listen to  the air, the chair, and the door. And go beyond the door. Take in the sound of the season, the sound of the color coming in through the windows. Listen to the past, future, and present right where you are. Listen with your whole body..."

I'd like you to practice listening to someone you care about, someone you feel close to. Perhaps during a conversation with them sitting across the table from you. Practice listening the way Goldberg describes. What do you hear beyond their words? What else can you capture as they speak? Write about it. 

Wishing you all a week of listening with your whole body!

Late Night in Tzfat
We are spent, physically and emotionally, but we lay across from each other in the dark sharing thoughts, secrets, our hearts’ desires and pains as if we were teenagers again. I can’t see her, but I know the crinkle of her eyes as they smile, the furrow of her brow as she worries, the wonder in her face as we reminisce. 

“This reminds me of when we used to do this, what, 18 years ago?”  she says. 

I hear: 

Remember before we were sisters? Before legal-ties bound us, before our childrens’ blood bound us?  Even then, we were soul-sisters. 

I know you better than anyone on this earth. Better than anyone, now. I understand you. I know your fears, your pain, the place where it all begins, and I understand the true roots of it all. 

I was there, I watched it all.  I saw you fall for him and watched him love you. I know that it is because of me you were together. I know you are grateful for that. 

I hurt with you and for you.  I hurt for all that love you. Most of all, I hurt for me. Because I loved him too. Because I love you and love all who love you. Because I understand your emptiness. 

What more can I do for you? How can I help you through? I am doing everything I can think of, everything you ask, but I will do more. I need to do more, even though I am  beyond exhausted with my life, my challenges, I will shoulder your burdens. I will bear more. More than I can. 

She listens to my tears. 

I hear the darkness. I hear the peaceful night. I hear the whispering, mystical Tzfat wind. 

I hear that there will be light again, there is hope, and no matter what, I have love and am loved. 
The night sky, Safed, Israel

This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Megila reading, Museums, Night Hike

Hakarat HaTov - Recognizing the Good

There is a wonderful organization called Standing Together whose mission it is to thank the IDF soldiers for the work they are doing WHILE they are doing it.  We know how important their job is, and we want them to know that we recognize it.  Little things like ice cream in the summer, pizza, hot chocolate, and gloves in the winter can make such a difference in a soldier's morale.

There are some really special campaigns and events throughout the year that go above and beyond the little things.  One is the Yom Ha'atzmaut Managalim. In Israel, Independence Day is spent with family having massive barbecues. For a soldier on duty, missing this cuts deep. So Standing Together gathers families and sends them to bases with the grills, meat, and salads.  The families prepare the Mangal for the soldiers and everyone celebrates together.  This year was our first Yom Ha'atzmaut as Israeli's and we went to a Standing Together Mangal.  I can't think of any other way I would've wanted to spend that day.

Right now, they are running their Purim campaign which is to Send Mishloach Manot to IDF soldiers.  You can either make a donation (if you are outside of Israel) but even better, if you live in Israel, you can actually assemble the packages yourself and include pictures and notes of gratitude.

What better way to teach your children about Hakarat HaTov - "Recognizing the Good" that these soldiers are doing for us?

Writing Workshop: Personification

For this assignment, we were asked to choose from a variety of objects.  We were told to select the item that spoke to us. We were then assigned to speak in its voice. 

Fading Feathers
I am a masquerade mask and have been to many a party.
How I love to be wrapped around my bearer's face,
A night of rejoicing, flirting, and mystery ahead.
I have seen sumptuous tables laden with fare,
Drunken men making fools of themselves,
And beautiful women seeking attention.
Now, I sit on a shelf with faded feathers, torn and untidy.
Aging, as my bearer does.
I wish to be taken out for a night once more.
To feel her eyes wrinkle with amusement, the tears of her laughter.
To party again.

Writing Workshop: Personification and Indentification

For this assignment we were asked to choose from a selection of pictures of animals.  We were supposed to choose one that we felt some connection with, that we felt we shared a trait - either good or bad.

We then had to write a poem in the voice of the animal.

This is the picture that immediately jumped out at me.  
Here is my response:

I am enormous.
Big legs, big feet,
Big nose, ears, and rear.
My footsteps fall heavy
On the savannah floor.
Others shy away, frightened by my size.
Do they know I am loyal? Fierce? Gentle?
Do they know I love to splash? To laugh? To play?
Huge grey mass is all they see.
I only want them to see ME.

When Good Traits Go Bad

Year One without Trip'n Daddy is like riding a roller coaster with a blindfold on and all sound on mute. You never know when the next drop or hairpin turn will be.  You know you are surrounded by others, but you cannot hear them scream.  Actually, you can plan on some of the bumps, because you've seen the map of the coaster and you know they are there (Holidays, Birthdays, etc.).  It's the ones you didn't notice at the sneak peek at the map that really send you reeling.

I have bad days. Many of them.  I am working on it, but like those twists and turns they are inevitable. I am on a roller coaster!!

The sudden drops are the worst. One day you can have a great day where you and your intrepid partner and supporter (AM) get to THREE Israeli Government offices before noon and then have a fantastic time in Machane Yehuda planning for Purim. Later, you have a family meal to celebrate a beloved nephew's birthday (no cooking!)  The day ends with a great Book Club meeting with friends.  We shmoozed more than we talked about the book, but it was fun!

Then the drop. Some stupid bot sends me a reminder about the first anniversary of an event. This event was extremely personal to me, involved no one else, and was supposed to change my life forever.  I had a goal for the one year anniversary of this event, and I am only about halfway there. It is a sore point. Sure, we can blame it on the reality of the past year, but it still feels like a personal failure.

I am not good at failure. It's not that I am so motivated that I am consumed with success, but I am a bit of a perfectionist and like things done right. I put a lot of value in my own personal responsibilities and getting them right. It has been a lot of who I am and how I define myself.

Example A is the Mishloach Manot of Purim's Past that you all loved reading about yesterday.
Example B might be my college and graduate school transcripts.
Example C is any meal where I have company coming.
Example D is my work ethic.
Example E  is my kids - until this year when I learned to cut them a lot of slack.

You see, I can cut them slack, but I can't do it for myself!

AM has a new mantra for me "Manage your expectations! Of yourself!"

How did one of my best traits now become my Achilles Heel?

Writing Workshop: If You Were A ....?

I am currently taking a 4 part writing workshop here in ND run by a creative, earthy, inspiring friend. At each meeting (and sometimes in between) we are given assignments meant to spark our imagination and fuel our writing.

I will be posting some of the pieces from the workshop as I feel they offer a great picture into my life and psyche right now.  They are only slightly edited.  Please comment, offer constructive criticism, etc.

Here is one of the pieces from our first session.

The Workshop Facilitator asked us a number of questions that we were supposed to answer with the first thing that popped into our minds. The questions were all in the format of:

If you were a ____, what/who/where would you be?

Once we had a list of terms, we were charged with making them into a poem. This is my result:

I am a Mother
I was once 25, but now I am a puzzle.
Or am I a 2004 Blue Minivan?
My heart quivers and sobs,
And prays like Chana in Shiloh.
My life is a forest,
Full of twisted olive trees.
I hide like a bear amongst the musky scent.
I hear the strains of a cello calling me.
I want to feel the glow of my candlesticks,
The warmth of my oven, my soft, cozy bed.
I was once 25, but now I am a puzzle.
Now, I Will Survive.

You are welcome to try and guess some of the questions!!

Welcome to a Brave New World

My last blog post was on April 20, 2010.  Trip'n Daddy was fighting cancer. Life was too overwhelming to blog. 

A lot has happened since then and I think it is only fair to give you a timeline before a full relaunch of this blog.

I am sure that the full story will be flushed out as I move forward on the blog. 
  • Summer, 2010 - Trip'n Daddy has a successful stem cell transplant and the Trips spend 8 weeks with Saba and Savta at AM and UM
  • October, 2010 - Trip'n Daddy officially loses his job, just as he gets medical clearance to return. We decide to read the signs and finally make Aliyah in July, 2011.
  • February, 2011 - Final tests results indicate that Trip'n Daddy is in remission. 
  • March, 2011 - We leave on a 5 week pilot trip that will include Pesach with AM and UM. Trip'n Daddy has the okay from the doctors to go.
  • April 7, 2011 - Trip'n Daddy has a really bad chest cold with some breathing problems. He is admitted to Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. 
  • April 8, 2011 - He is intubated, medically sedated, and moved to ICU with a nasty cases of PCP pneumonia. 
  • April 14, 2011 - We officially make Aliyah. We are not returning to the U.S. 
  • Rest of April -May 24, 2011 - Trip'n Daddy fights for his life, including battling 3 different types of pneumonia. His heartbeat is strong until the rest of his body gives out. 
  • May 25, 2011 - Trip'n Daddy is laid to rest on Har HaMenuchot in Jerusalem.
  • We start the rest of our lives. Stumbling in grief, but always looking up.
This blog is going to become something very different from what it was.  I plan on including creative writing entries along with the plain old blog posts. I know there will be tears, but I hope there will be laughs as well.

I am leaving all old posts as is, with the only differentiation being the formatting of the posts.  


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