The S.T.U.C.K. Method

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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STUCK on the 10th Commandment

This past Shabbat our fellow kibbutz-member-friends (who also made aliyah from the States and have 4 children) celebrated their son’s Bar Mitzvah.

When I entered the synagogue on Friday night for the Kabbalat Shabbat service (welcoming of the Sabbath), I was overcome with such joy and happiness for their family.

Looking around the room, I saw not only the celebration family all dressed up and excited for the upcoming milestone, but proud grandparents (on both sides),  American siblings, uncles, aunts, and cousins who flew in for the occasion, and some of their Jerusalem friends who came to the kibbutz for Shabbat.

How lucky is this Bar Mitzvah boy, I thought to myself!

To be surrounded by so much love.

So much family!

And, then it hit me.

That moment where I go from gloriously being in the moment to getting stuck on something.

A nervous thought.

A disheartening thought.

A fearful thought.

What about us???

We’re the next ones in line to celebrate such a milestone in our community.

And, that’s when I think my heart skipped a beat.

Because I came face to face with the fact that none of my family will be here for our celebration.

Not my parents.

Or my siblings.

Or my grandmothers.

Or anyone else from America.

And, I got stuck on the 10th commandment.

covet

Stuck on coveting my neighbors.

Stuck on being envious of what they have and what I don’t.

Stuck on worrying: “Who’s gonna show up to my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah?”

Noticing that I was stuck, I paused and allowed myself, in the midst of the festive Sabbath prayers, to feel my sense of sadness and pity and notice the disappointment and fear of embarrassment that was underneath it all.

And then I came to realize other perspectives of this situation.

  • That it’s no one in my family’s “fault” other than mine that we live so far away.  My husband and I made a choice to move to Israel being full aware of the price that we would pay for that.  One of which is the physical distance from my family.  And while I could be hopeful, I cannot expect any of them (for many reasons: jobs, cost, health, etc.) to just hop on a plane over to Israel for every family occasion we have, big or small.
  • My husband’s Israeli family, albeit small, will be there and I am grateful for that.
  • And, our outside of Hannaton friends and community friends will also be there.
  • Which means, we won’t be celebrating in an empty synagogue.

Even more so, by looking at the glass half full, I recognized that:

  • We’ve become part of a larger community on Kibbutz Hannaton over the past 5 years; a community which in many ways is like family.
  • Many of the people who comprise this community are immigrants themselves.  In fact, I’d say most of my closest friends here are American.  And together, in celebration and sorrow, we gather together often: prayer services, community meals, festive holidays, birthdays, national holidays, and more.
  • And, while this community can never, ever replace the family that I have and love, there are still meaningful ways that we can share in celebration together like a family would and like my daughter and I intend to do, in some creative fashion, before her Bat Mitzvah.

Getting stuck in this situation helped me realize that the 10th commandment does not only teach us to train ourselves to be truly happy for others, it helps us gain perspective on the good fortune that we do have and be grateful for that.  For me, it’s the family that I do have (even if we don’t get to see each other so often), the fact that I am living a dream of raising my family in the Land of Israel, and the fact that on a daily basis, my family and I are (tfoo tfoo tfoo) genuinely happy exactly where we are and with everything what we have.


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STUCK on a FOOD Revolution

Cakes.

Cookies.

Muffins.

Chocolates.

Hard candies.

Lollipops.

Marshmallows.

I guess you can say it kind of feels like Halloween these days.

Sugar.

Sugar.

and more

Sugar.

On Purim (the holiday we are now in the midst of celebrating which commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire where a plot had been formed to destroy them), there are several mitzvot (commandments) Jewish people are obligated to fulfill.

One of which is sending “mishloach manot” (literally, sending of portions) to friends and family.

As far as I’m aware, the commandment (which comes from the Book of Esther) is to send a gift consisting of two different ready-to-eat kinds of food to at least one recipient.  

Other than that, there are no guidelines pertaining to which kinds of food should go into these baskets.  Yet most of them typically contain all kinds of pastries (including the most important Hamantaschen – the triangular-filled cookies – as a reminder of the evil villain Haman who sought to destroy the Jews) and wine.

So, over the past few days, my family and I were blessed to have received almost a half-dozen of these relatively large baskets.

And, we were fortunate to have been able to give them as well.

And, while I understand the cultural importance of celebrating holidays and life with food and while I feel incredibly blessed that we received so many baskets this year and in the past, I question why is it that we give and receive baskets with so many unhealthy food options on this (and other) holidays?

Personally, I’m still on my cleanse and didn’t touch anything in any of those baskets (except for the delicious cashews that one of our friends lovingly added into her basket specifically for me), my family hasn’t stopped eating from these baskets for three days now.

Even my husband, who tends to eat incredibly healthfully stated that he feels sick from all the junk he’s been eating.

Why?

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Why, when I try to educate my children about healthy eating habits on every other day of the year, do I allow them to devour sweets endlessly for days on end during this holiday season?

Why, if I disfavor the concept of exchanging unhealthy food gifts, do I perpetuate the tradition by sending out the same exact gifts that I receive?

Why, when I know my society is hurting itself by overloading on sugar, do I not put a stop to all of this once and for all!

Wait a minute…

I think I’m stuck on a food revolution!!!

And, I think I’ve got the solution!!!

What about if….

instead of sending unhealthy Purim food baskets, we tried sending baskets filled with…

pizza faces

triangular-shaped mini-pizzas, where the kids can decorate faces that depict the different characters from the Purim story?

Or, vegetable sticks along with a home-made Persian dip?

Or, a small fruit salad?

Or, some triangular-shaped sandwich filled with roasted vegetables?

Or, how about a smoothie?

Or, triangular-shaped pieces of cheese with grapes or olives?

Or, triangular-shaped watermelon or cantaloupe?

You got the picture, eh?

So, this is my plan for next year.

I’m going to make a new kind of mishloach manot basket.

And, I’m sure people will catch on.

In fact, they’ll think it’s an awesome idea and won’t be able to wait to create their very own!

And, the following year, as more and more people talk about this great concept that the STUCK blogger wrote about, more and more people will change their food gifts to include healthier alternatives and less sugary options.

Until all of us are sending and receiving 100% HEALTHY Purim baskets.

Right????

Of course!!!

No?

Why not?

Ok…

I see it.

I’m stuck.

Even if it’s on something “good”.

So, I stop and pause.

And, tell myself what I’m feeling (frustrated with all the cakes and “junk” in our house, and frustrated with our society that supports this tradition, and angry that no one is putting a stop to it).

I look what’s underneath this all: fear of getting sick, fear of teaching my kids bad habits, fear of getting overweight.

And, then I consider my options or choose how I can perceive this situation differently.

The truth is, the tradition is lovely in fact.

It really is.

And people (including myself) love to give these gifts as much as (or even more than) they enjoy receiving them.

So, yes, I can make my Purim baskets differently next year (and I will, so beware!)

And, I will teach my kids the concept of moderation.

And remember that it’s possible to freeze home-baked goods that can be eaten at another time.

But, no, I don’t have to create a revolution.

I certainly don’t want, G-d forbid, people to feel insulted or judged by the gifts they send us.

And most importantly, instead of looking into the future to create change, I must remember (and remind my children) that these gift baskets, among other things, are meant to be symbols and visions for our people’s love and friendship for one another.

Today.

and Now.

And certainly no one can overload on that.


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STUCK on INJUSTICE!

A few days ago, the residents of Hannaton were invited to a “happening” at our community garden: an afternoon of weeding, making pita on the fire, and eating vegetables straight out of our plots.

The invitation asked people to bring materials from their homes for the event: large bowl, flour, salt, cooking pan, knife, onions, spades, etc.

My children (quite excited for this event) and I were one of the first to arrive, materials in hand: bowl, flour, and salt.

As one of the adults started the fire and another adult started chopping the vegetables from her plot, my kids started to make dough from the flour that we brought.

IMG_20140306_165603 (1)

Now, while some people brought the exact-amount-of-already-made-dough from home only for themselves, I brought 2 unopened packages of flour (which basically amount to something like 20 pitas at least!).

Within minutes, our dough was ready and my kids each placed their own on the “saj” (see picture).

Holding my bowl filled high, random kids came over to me to ask for some dough.

“Sure”, I said to the first kid, with an open heart.

“Sure”, I said to the second, with a smile.

“Sure”, I said to the third kid, as my heart started to close, thinking: what’s going on here? Am I the dough provider?

I started to get frustrated.

This situation is not fair!

Yup. I was stuck.

Right there.

At this beautiful happening.

On injustice.

(Ok, I have to stop here for a moment, and admit that I feel VERY ridiculous having been stuck on injustice knowing there is real injustice happening in this world all the time, like:

When someone completes work they were contracted to do and doesn’t get paid for it, or

When someone is robbed and the robber doesn’t get caught.

Now, those are injustices!

So, when they talk about “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, this is a GREAT example.

Truly, I wanted to yell at myself, “Give me a break, Shira!”)

I did try to consider:

Perhaps the parents didn’t know they were supposed to bring ingredients to make the dough?

(No, everyone in the community received the email.)

Perhaps the parents didn’t have the materials in their homes to bring?

(No, we have a small shop in our community and they could have easily picked up flour.)

Needing help to get unstuck, I decided to share my stuck story with the organizer of the event.

I warned her, that my “stuck” situation was really ridiculous, and I encouraged her to help me see it differently.

She shared a lot of information with me that helped me see the situation from her eyes, but one of the things I learned from her is that in situations like these, is that each person needs to bring the amount that he/she is comfortable with, assuming he may be asked to share with others.  She suggested that in the future I should consider planning this way.  And, if in the end, there’s not enough to go around because people didn’t bring what was requested, then so be it.  They will learn for next time.

She was right.

And, at the same time, she helped me realize all the other people who played a major role in the event:

those who organized it,

those who made and cared for the fire,

the person who brought the cooking pan and olive oil,

the person who brought the knife and cutting board,

those who cut and shared vegetables from their own garden,

the person who cut up the vegetables,

the people who cooked the vegetables and the pita on the fire,

the person who introduced my daughter to sautéed onion, chard, and fennel to top on her pita.

All of the above, that I didn’t do.

That I didn’t even think to do.

And, that my children and I benefited from because of the good heartedness of others in our community.

And, in realizing this, I see how embarrassing I was to be stuck on injustice in the first place.

And realized that the next time I (or anyone else) cries out injustice, we must first look at ourselves and see what role we may have played in the scene.

Because it seems that perhaps more times than not, there is a choice for the once crying “injustice!”.

So, maybe next time I’ll choose to bring a little bit less flour.

Or, maybe I’ll bring the same amount, but know in advance that I’m bringing that amount, on purpose, to share with all of those who forgot to bring.

And realize that I can “just” be happy.


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STUCK in the SHABBAT LIMBO by Vanya Green

With permission from Kveller (the on-line “Jewish twist on parenting” magazine) and blogger, Vanya Green Assuied, please enjoy this guest post on feeling stuck in limbo on Shabbat.  Notice how Vanya changes her perspective on Shabbat concluding that, for now, “it’s about doing what’s right for her and her family.”

light-switch

It was my second time meeting with Chana with the hopes of renting her Jerusalem apartment. I was in Israel on a research grant and following an ulpan (intensive Hebrew immersion course) in Jerusalem, had moved to Tel Aviv to be closer to my university. After just a few weeks of living by the water, I felt pulled back to Jerusalem.

Chana went through a checklist of the idiosyncrasies of the apartment. It would be furnished and I would not need to, nor would I be permitted to, bring my own bed. The school across the street could be loud at lunchtime. There was no dishwasher, of course, but I was welcome to use the laundry machine provided. And then almost as an afterthought she added, “Shabbat. Of course you keep Shabbat.”

“Well,” I started. And that was the beginning of the end. “I may turn on the lights here and there.”

“No. No turning on and off the lights. You must keep Shabbat.”

“But—,”

To read the rest of this blog, please go to the original posting on Kveller.


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STUCK on REJECTION

I’m starting a business.

It’s called “Yoga at Work“.

It goes like this: People who sit hours on end in front of the computer experience pain (repetitive stress injury, head/neck/back pain, headaches, etc.) and stress (both physical and mental) on a regular basis.

Research supports this evidence.

My idea (similar to the business I had in S.F.) is to provide on-site yoga classes during the work day to such employees, educating them and giving them the tools to reduce the pain and stress they experience at work.

The hard part, of course, is to sell the idea.

Even though I’m not 100% ready (still finalizing the website, business cards, flyers, etc.), I started to pitch my ideas to companies last week.

And, voila, one company invited me in to get more information.

I was amazed at how quickly there was a “catch”.

So, I got all dress-up in a business-like way, yoga mat in hand, and drove over to Nazareth to meet with the HR person of this 130 person hi-tech company.

And, how did it go?

Incredulously smoothly.

As if I were preaching to the choir.

In fact, it couldn’t have gone easier.

I said my price.

It was accepted as reasonable.

Would there be space for me to teach such classes at this company?

Yes, in the room that is designated as the “prayer” room that is used several times a day by the employees.

The HR person assured me her bosses would go for it.

And, she would get back to my the following week.

So, I waited.

Patiently.

Though, quite convinced there would be no issues.

But, the call that I received today was not what I expected.

“A no starter”, were her words this morning.

But, she was rushing into a meeting, and I’d only be able to speak to her again at 5 PM.

To say the least, I was quite disappointed.

For the entire day.

How did this happen?

I thought it was a shoe-in!

What went wrong?

Wallowing in self-pity, I thought maybe I’ll just forget this business idea.

And just go back to bed for the day.

Or better yet, have a cookie.  Who needs this “no-sugar” stuff anyway?

Agh.

But, alas, I caught myself.

Stuck on rejection.

And, so I stopped for a moment and took a breath. (S)

And told myself how it feels to be rejected, especially in a new business venture. (T)

And, looking underneath this all, I saw fear.  Fear of failure. (U)

Then, I realized I could change perspective. (C)

Maybe there was a good reason that the company rejected me?

I’ll stay open and calm and friendly when I have this conversation at 5 PM.

And, reminded myself that it’s ok to get stuck.  (K)

So…. I picked up the phone to find out what happened.

Apparently the HR person was still gung-ho on the idea and her bosses were as well.

Yet, when she checked in with her employees, she found no interest.

Her claim is that because the company is 90% Arab, (and about 1/3 of that women), there is much less awareness of things like yoga in their world.

And, even after offering to come in and do a free trial class, she was quite persistent that it wouldn’t come to anything.

So, instead of being upset, I just saw it as an opportunity:

That I had a chance to present myself at a company,

That it pushed me to move other things forward that have been lagging behind,

and for meeting a fantastic HR person, who apparently has friends that she’d be quite happy to share my business idea with.

And with that, I hung up the phone happy and smiling… laughing at the irony of this whole scenario:

While I thought it would be a struggle to convince HR people to give me a chance to come in and show them what I have, here it was the employees that didn’t want to give me the time of day.

Oh well.

Another day of learning.

And, tomorrow’s another day for more.