Slow motion

At times when I am very busy, when the tendency is to become unsettled, upset, panicked, I employ a coping mechanism that works for me. I think the idea actually came from the opening of the old TV show, the Six Million Dollar Man. Whichever show it was showed someone running very fast, but in slow motion. He’s making all of the rapid moves, but slowly.

I picture that slow running man when I am in situations that require a lot of thinking and a high level of activity. I picture myself slowing down, taking things much more slowly than usual. The background music becomes slower, softer, more gentle. So do the thoughts swirling around in my head. By slowing down, I avoid all of the hazards of haste- the frenzied movements, things being misplaced, bumping into things, feeling stressed.

I have my list. I do things one at a time. And I take my time.

Hanging out with my buddies


(and I stay less focused)

To B- or not to B-

This week should be a very happy one. Our wonderful grandson, Yehuda, will be celebrating his becoming a Bar Mitzvah this coming shabbat. He has worked very hard, learning to chant two full torah portions (it’s a combined reading) and a special maftir and his haftarah- quite an accomplishment for a boy of 13. We have been looking forward to spending a happy, peaceful shabbat, the whole family together, at kibbutz Ein Tzurim.

So what’s the problem? Well, for about a week, the people who wanted Gaza to themselves, the ones for whom we uprooted thousands of Jews from their homes, have been firing rockets at our cities and communities that are within firing range of Gaza. They are aiming for our civilian population- firing, hiding behind their own children, safe in the knowledge that we will not target the innocent.

On Ein Tzurim, there have been sirens and people have run to shelters.

So what do we do?

Oh, I know. Both sides should show restraint. Thanks, world.

Sisters 3

This is my third post about sisters.

There was this one http://drsavta.com/wordpress/2007/07/23/sisters/

and this one http://drsavta.com/wordpress/2009/10/07/sisters-2/

because to me, this relationship is very special.

If  you have been reading my blog, you probably know that in December, my sister finally made aliya.  After over 45 years of living very far away, my sister is a 5 minute car ride away.  I can bump into her at the mall, we can see a movie together, and we can sit and talk about things that no one understands the way we do.

When she was far away, we kept in touch.  She was great about making sure to visit no matter where we were living.  She was present at most of the important times in my life.  I appreciated her and loved her.

But now, I know what a wonderful thing it is to have her here, nearby, and to not have to think about when her flight home leaves.  She is home.

If you really loved me…

I have been a family therapist for a very long time. I should have figured it out sooner, but only yesterday I realized that I had been missing something very important when thinking about certain types of cases.

From time to time I would have cases where one family member would say about another “if s/he really loved me s/he would…”

Tests of loyalty, to me, seem so beside the point. In fact, they seem foolish. Why would we expect someone to “prove” they love us by performing a specific task or acting in a manner we prescribe?  The people we love are separate from us. They have their own loves and hates, likes and dislikes, ways of expressing themselves. They show us love in their own way.

However, in this type of a relationship, they may show warmth and consideration, but heaven forbid, if they fail the litmus test the other has created, the whole relationship is at risk.

Sometimes, couples, in order to feel more appreciated and loved,  have to adjust the ways in which they show love. She would like flowers. He shows love by filling up the car. He would like homemade soup. She lights romantic candles. They clearly love each other, but by asking for the show of love to be more in line with their own concept of love, both members could feel more valued and cared for.

,

But that is different than a test of love.

Tests of love usually involve one person expecting the other to know what s/he wants and to do it, despite any obstacles. And then, if it doesn’t happen, well, then “s/he doesn’t really love me.”

But let’s look a little closer…

Who is making the relationship contingent on specific behaviors. It’s not the “uncaring” husband or wife or friend or relative. It’s the person who has decided that the relationship consists of a series of tests all of which must be passed for it to continue to be loving.

Who has the problem?

As a therapist, it seems to me that the person who is making the statement “If you really loved me…” is in fact the person with the problem. S/he has not learned the nature of relationships. Relationships are formed between two individuals, both of whom have wants, needs, and limitations.  Appreciating the other person as a distinct individual is the only way to have a truly satisfying relationship.

When ultimatums exist in relationships, it is not the person who fails to meet them who is the problem.

Aliya: a feline perspective

This is a guest post by my sister’s animal companion, Roxy who made aliya yesterday (as told to her publicist Ben Michelson).
************************************************************************************

It took some doing but I finally convinced my person, Vicki, to make Aliya.

Even though the dog next to me, H.G. Clipper, stank a bit, my flight really wasn’t so bad. I don’t think I’ll fly ELAL any more though. They offered me neither a window nor an aisle seat. The entertainment system did not work the entire flight and there was a dearth of reading material. Fortunately Clipper didn’t snore too loudly, and I spent most of the flight cat-napping.

I was pleased that my fans came to greet me at the airport. Fortunately, I had a box to protect me from the mobs.

When I arrived at my new domicile, all I wanted to do was rest. Unfortunately, Vicki had different plans and invited my fans for a party. I let them have their fun downstairs. I am after all a creature of the night. Vicki did come upstairs during the party, eager to play hide-and-seek. I’m not sure why she still enjoys playing this game. In any case, I let her win the first round, but when I saw that she wanted to continue playing, I did not let her win the second round. I was able to avoid detection sufficiently long to send people hunting me not only in the apartment, but up and down the stairwell, and out on the street as well as calling the local veterinary service and alerting them to my disappearance. Only the tempting aroma of an aliya treat sent over by the man at the pet store lured me out of my hiding place behind the bed.

Some of the locals from outside paid me a call yesterday. I am not a racist, but some of these cats are absolutely feral. I greeted them politely nonetheless, though I’m still working on my voiced uvular fricative.

Ten reasons why it’s better to make Aliya in 2011 than in 1984

This is a guest post, written by my son Ben in honor of my sister’s aliya tomorrow!!!!!

Ben arrived in Israel in 1984, a day before his 17th birthday.

 

Telephones

 

  • Cellphone networks did not exists in 1984
  • In 1984, getting a landline phone installed in your house took months, and in some cases took up to 10 years.
  • In 1984, payphones were often out of order. They worked only on telephone tokens.
  • In 1984, if you wanted to make an international call, and didn’t have a phone in your home you had to either call collect or go the telephone room in the central post office. There you paid about $2/minute and the post office took an extra 8% cut. They explained it this way, “Every minute is five seconds less.” This meant that you paid for a minute, but only got 55 seconds.

 

Inflation

 

Aug 1984 – 14%

Sep 1984 – 18%

Oct 1984 – 19%

Nov 1984 – 16%

Dec 1984 – 4%

 

 

2011 – 2.5%

 

Email

 

In 1984, Email was available only to university staff and people who took university courses requiring use of a computer. Businesses used Telex’s. (Faxes were not in widespread use until the 90s.)

 

Public busses

 

In 1984, only express bus lines were air-conditioned.

 

Television

 

In 1984, there was one Israeli channel. In many parts of Jerusalem, you could watch Jordan TV. At high altitudes you could also receive Middle-east TV from Lebanon. Cable and satellite television service was not available. Importing a satellite dish large enough to receive American television was illegal.

 

Israeli Currency

 

Towards the end of 1984, the largest denomination bill was worth only $3.50. My friend’s father bought a Volvo in 1984 with a duffle-bag full of bills.

 

Foreign Currency

 

In 1984, it was illegal to change Shekels outside of banks. It was illegal for Israelis to own foreign currency except for traveling outside the country. (Yitzchak Rabin was ousted from his position as Prime Minister for breaking this law.) Everyone I knew bought shekels only on the black market.

 

Hi-Tech business sector

 

Did not exist in 1984

 

Modiin

 

Did not exist in 1984.

 

Travel Tax

 

In 1984, Israeli citizens had to pay $100 tax in order to leave the country

 

Food

 

In 1984, ketchup was watery with red food coloring

In 1984, the only mustard available was actually mustard flavored mayonnaise

In 1984, the only chocolate available was Elite (whose factory was inRamat Gan)

In 1984, low fat cottage cheese was unavailable

In 1984, fresh baguettes were unavailable

In 1984, supermarkets did not bake bread and pastries

In 1984, bagels were unavailable

 

 

Ben             .

19 Dec 2011

Are you in your pajamas?

Last week I gave a lecture. I had lectured at this place before. Usually there is a room full of maybe 20-30 people. They are bright-eyed, attentive, and a great audience. I hadn’t lectured there in a couple of years. In preparation, the secretary sent me an email and asked if I had any handouts to give to the students. Then she asked, “Do you plan to come in to lecture?” Come in??? I had no idea what she was talking about.

Well, what she was talking about was the fact that they now provide distance learning. Only a few people, if any, were going to be listening in the room. Everyone else was going to be watching and listening in the US, in Canada, in Belgium, in England and who knows where- over their computers.

When I arrived in the venue, I was handed an earphone/microphone and had a camera set up with a monitor and with two computers, one in front of me and one beside me with readouts as to who was listening on two different connections.

Last week, the lecture required a lot of interaction and clarification and by the end of the evening, I was really enjoying talking over the air with these disembodied voices and answering their questions.It was like having my own call-in talk show.

This week, however, it was a bit disconcerting. I was speaking about using humor and metaphor in therapy. Of course it meant that I was telling some jokes. Somehow, telling a joke that people usually enjoy and hearing no one laugh was really strange.

And then I realized the absurdity of the set up. Here I was talking to people who were sitting in front of their computers. They could be doing pretty much anything and I would never know. So as the session drew to an end, I decided to ask. I asked “What are you all doing when I’m talking? I’m just curious. Like are you sitting there eating salami sandwiches? Are you wearing your pajamas?”

All of a sudden I had one of those movie montages in front of my eyes, my voice ringing though empty rooms at scattered locations throughout the world as people sit in bed in their pajamas eating salami sandwiches.

Mixed up

Today I had a most pleasant experience. I taught my first class in a program to train marriage counselors. I left Modi’in for Jerusalem early in the morning, missing breakfast, to avoid rush hour traffic. I had not yet met any of the students and was pleased to find a room full of interesting, bright, and versatile women. What a pleasure it was to meet them! I look forward to spending time with them in the weeks and months ahead.

After three hours of teaching, I headed back home to Modi’in and on the way, passed a sign that looked like this:

I must have been hungry, because a quick glance had me thinking that instead of Magen David, it said “Haagen Daz.”

But I’m not the only one who’s mixed up. The International Red Cross has made Magen David Adom drop its six pointed star and instead adopt a red “crystal” as its symbol when appearing outside of the country’s green line so as to not offend the Palestinians. You figure out the logic to that!

Parting

June 1967

I am 7.5 months pregnant with my first child. My husband of just a year is serving as a chaplain in the US Army. We are planning to leave the Army after our baby is born and to go to a civilian congregation. He has been hired as the new rabbi at the House of Peace synagogue in Columbia, South Carolina. We have just visited there a second time to talk with them about where we will be living and what changes we would like to see in the house the congregation owns. We are in the Atlanta airport. He is flying in uniform back to Fort Knox. I am flying to Philadelphia where I must take final exams at Gratz College so that they can see that I really did study on my own that year so that I can receive my BHL (Bachelor of Hebrew Literature) degree.

I am young, 21 years old, and very pregnant.

We wait for my plane. When we are called to board, we embrace. I cry. I will miss him.

I take my seat on the plane. The man next to me starts to speak. “He’ll be all right. Lots of men return healthy and whole from Vietnam. He’ll get to see that baby of yours.”

December 2011

I am a bit older. That baby is now a man with 6 children of his own. Soon I will be saying goodbye to my husband once again. This time he really is going to Vietnam.

But I am not worried.

He is going to supervise the kosher cooking for a tour. We have been to Vietnam together several times. We lead tours there. It is a lovely place to visit. It is beautiful and has rich traditions and friendly, welcoming people. The war years are barely a memory by now except for in places they have designated as war museums or in Cu Chi where the Vietcong built an elaborate tunnel system. A tour there is a treat and I look forward to returning.

This morning I bought him some instant coffee to take along because Vietnamese coffee is “different.”

We’ll keep in touch over his iPad and my computer.

But there still may be tears when he leaves.

Thanksgiving 2011

I will spare you the usual blah-blah of how wonderful my family is and how amazingly great it is when we adults all get together and tell you instead about the good things that have happened recently and wonderful things to look forward to that make me really thankful.

We recently returned from a trip to the US. In a few weeks time my sister, the last member of my immediate family not yet living in Israel, will be coming to Israel to live. All of us are very very excited. I will finally have my sister nearby after 45 years of living varying long distances from each other (all my fault… she stayed in the same place while I roamed planet Earth.) I wanted to go and be with her to visit some of the places we shared, to reminisce, and for me to say goodbye to Philadelphia, the city where I was born, where I grew up, and where I got my education. It is unlikely I will visit there again.

When we drove up to the house we used to live in, we were surprised to find the woman who had bought it from my mother out on the lawn. She was friendly and chatty and we enjoyed speaking with her. My sister pointed out that the “new” owners had lived in the house about as long as we had.

We enjoyed walking in the downtown area. I loved seeing my cousins and hearing about their lives.

I even enjoyed the antics of a future Israeli immigrant

There’s more to tell about the trip, but that’s a small taste of some things that made me happy with the promise of more to come!