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

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


1 Comment

STUCK on G-d

There are people in this world that are blessed to go through transformative life experiences.

Just like I had such an opportunity during my unexpected trip to the hospital a couple of weeks ago.

While in the I.C.U., one of my visitors, Rabbi Serebrowski, said something that struck me more than anyone else’s words of comfort or prayer.

“Speak to Hashem” (one of the many names of G-d in the Jewish tradition), he said to me.

I must have given him a quizzical look, because he repeated it once again.

“Really.  Just speak to Him.  Like you’re having a conversation.  Tell Him your fears.  Tell Him how you feel.  Ask of Him. But, above all, just speak to Him.”

*****

Talk to G-d?

In the I.C.U. hospital room?

Was he kidding?

What should I say?

How should I say what I want to say?

Do I speak out loud or just from the heart?

For how long should I speak?

Yikes!

I’m alone here in this hospital room with all these questions!

********

Now, before I go on, I must take an aside to tell you two things: 1) I am Jewish and 2) I received a Jewish education growing up:

I went to afternoon Hebrew school 3 days a week.

I went (out of my own desire/my parents would drop me off each week) to the children’s Shabbat services.

As a family, we lit Shabbat candles, sang the Kiddush, and had a festive meal each Friday night followed by attending services at our synagogue.

I had a Bat Mitzvah.

I was quite involved in our chapter and regional youth group.

I attended a Jewish overnight camp (which heavily emphasized Jewish prayer and study).

I traveled to Israel for the first time at the age of 16.

I continued to study in an informal Jewish educational setting through the end of high school.

I minored in Judaic studies in college.

I learned to read, write, and speak modern Hebrew.

I returned to Israel at the age of 18 to volunteer on an army base for 3 weeks.

I was a counselor for Jewish and Israel programming for high school youth both in America and Israel.

I prepared youth for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah.

I volunteered on a monthly basis leading Shabbat services to the aged at the local Jewish living center.

I taught in the Hebrew school where I grew up.

I married an Israeli.

I moved to Israel with my husband and children.

I headed the synagogue committee on our kibbutz for one year.

Need I go on?

This is just to say that the path I chose in life is not necessarily the most typical route that a Jewish child growing up in a non-Orthodox home would choose, and to say that I have a decent amount of knowledge of the Jewish heritage and tradition.

******

GodSo, back to the I.C.U.

I spoke to G-d.

Among other things, I told G-d that I was afraid.

I told G-d that I didn’t want to die.

I reminded G-d that I have 4 children that I love and that I want to return to being their mother.

I asked G-d for more time on this earth.

******

And, when I did (thank G-d!) make it to the other side, was in tremendous pain and had too much time on my hands to just sit and rest, I became deep in thought and fascinated with how someone with so many years of Jewish education, could have been stumped by the concept of speaking to G-d.

I thought about how, in the presence of deeply observant Jewish people, I often hear the words “Baruch Hashem” (Blessed is G-d) uttered on their lips so many times during any random conversation:

It’s a sunny morning.  Baruch Hashem!

It’s raining out.  Baruch Hashem!

No matter what the weather was, how one was feeling on any day, what one’s financial situation was – Baruch Hashem!

Because it’s truly all in G-d’s hands and everything happens exactly the way it’s meant to happen.

At least that’s the collective belief of Orthodox Jews.

And while sitting in the hospital, it dawned on me that I don’t have that frame of reference.

And while my Jewish education emphasized Hebrew, and learning how to read Hebrew prayers, and other very practical matters in Jewish living, I never truly received (or at least I never internalized) two basic and utterly important concepts for Jewish daily living:

1) The awareness of G-d in every moment, and

2) Acknowledgement of that awareness.

*******

And while I’m not regretful nor do I have any judgments on the education I received, this recent transformative life experience has encouraged me to consider how I act now as an adult and how my husband and I are raising our four children.

That is, yes, we observe the Sabbath and the dietary laws (Kashrut) in our home; yes, we have mezuzot on all the doors of our home; yes, we live in Israel; yes, we speak Hebrew; yes, our children attend an Orthodox school – BUT

am I aware of G-d in our home on a moment to moment basis?

And, do I acknowledge His presence regularly?

And, the answer is probably and unfortunately “no” to both.

********

And, so, I’m stuck pondering all of this as I say my goodbyes to my family and friends who have deeply nurtured me during my recovery and I plan my trip back home to Israel.

And while I could go through the acronym of “S.T.U.C.K.” and see if I could “choose” another perspective so that I’m not stuck on God (because the intention of this blog is to be aware of what and for how long we are stuck on emotional attachments), I am reminded of many prayers in the Jewish prayer book (siddur) in which the words attach/cling/stick are actually used to describe our desirable relationship to G-d.

That is, we are supposed to be stuck on G-d and we are supposed to attach our hearts on fulfilling His commandments.

**********

Good thing I’ve got a 12 hour flight ahead of me.

And lots more recovery time at home to continue pondering all of this.

And a wonderfully, open-minded husband who I bet can’t wait to talk about all of this with me.

Advertisements


1 Comment

STUCK on a LONG LIST

I unexpectedly landed in the hospital two weeks ago and I’m stuck on a long list of thanks (big and small), in no particular order:

I am grateful for:

flowersThe luxury hospital (Virtua Voorhees) that I landed in, including single rooms and single bathrooms;

Room service, where they “strive to make my dining experience a wonderful part of my stay” (can you imagine?);

The people who made my bed and fluffed my pillows each and every day;

The peace and quiet in my rooms;

A room with a view;

Respect;

Passing gas with no pain;

Moving my bowels with no pain;

The ability to stand;

The ability to walk (even with a walker);

The wipe board in my hospital room which helped me to remember each day: the date, the name of my nurse, and the name of the tech;

Guided meditations with Allison;

Allison – who dropped her entire life, and sat by my side each day at the hospital, in the ICU, in the PCU, just to be there for me, to comfort me, to help me, to support me, to help me relearn to walk, to be my friend (let alone family member), to be a kindred spirit, and who continued to do all of the above even after my discharge.

Narcotics;

Shoshana – a spiritual guide like no other, who brought prayer and music and Shabbes to my hospital rooms, and who brought her amazingly gifted daughter, Gavi, to help brighten up my days with harmonies of an angel to fill my soul; and for strongly encouraging me to practice using my incentive spirometer;

Dependable nurses;

Experienced doctors;

An outstanding surgeon, Dr. Zuretsky, who was conservative in his approach, experienced and cautious in his manner, and warm with his friendship post-surgery.

Miracles.

Whole Foods.

Deena who graciously offered me to heal at her healing center home;

The Cherry Hill/Voorhees Women’s Tehillin group who prayed on my behalf;

In fact, everyone who prayed on my behalf;

Esther from Torah Links who brought a Shabbes package for me at the hospital;

My Hannaton community who has provided food to my family (while I recuperate thousands of miles away) and spirit to my soul via emails and phone calls;

Adam and Laurie for helping to watch over my kids while I couldn’t and for visiting me while I recover;

Ethan and Jordan just for making me smile;

Aunt Arlene for helping watch and entertain my kids while in Ocean City and for offering to fly back up to help me in my recovery;

Ocean City;

My yoga, breathing, and meditation practice which helped me to recover sooner than expected;

Memory – the important of just one breath at a time.  One breath at a time.  One breath.  During each painful incident.  One breath.

Nancy – for uplifting me while I was down.

Hospital beds;

Marc and Robyn – nothing like visit from old friends;

Dr. Morowitz for stepping in as my attending doctor; taking care of me as if I were his own child, guiding my husband and parents to make decisions for me while I was incapable, staying available at all hours for questions and guidance, and checking up on me each day as I recovered;

Modern medicine;

David Fox, Rob Choi, and Arnie Cohen, friends and brilliant doctors, who unofficially spent endless hours on this mysterious case;

My Mom-Mom for her lovely visits and for keeping me company;

The Mahjong group, the Card group, and ALL of my parents friends and extended family, for their flowers, gifts, donations, prayers, meals, gift certificates, gifts for my kids, and even pajamas!

My parents (oh, this will be long): for helping me find the best care possible, the best doctors, the best medicine, for watching my kids while I was unable, for staying with me with every step of the way, for doing endless behind the scene stuff that I probably will not even know half about; being in constant touch with all my doctors; for providing me a place to recover, for renting a chair and hospital bed (whether it would be covered by insurance or not), for running around town to get me three meals a day, for buying me books, for allowing endless visitors to come, for schlepping me to appointments, and taking me on walks, and for their love.

22 Indian King Drive;

My bedroom;

Gorgeous weather;

The picturesque view from the family room sofa;

Quiet roads;

Marilyn, for the crocheting material to keep me busy;

Jen who watched my kids (more than once!) to help relieve my parents and husband, visited and brought a delicious Whole Foods lunch;

Jamie for bringing her Siddur to the hospital, which I used there and till this very day, her visits to the hospital (and staying even while I was in intense pain), her visits and food during my recovery at my parent’s home, and for hosting a bunch of friends on Shabbat which brought more happiness during my recovery than anyone can imagine;

Edite and Mark for their visits and sharing of Eliana’s Bat Mitzvah photos to keep my mind off of my pain;

All the random hospital people, in the hallways especially, who gave me encouragement, as I made intense efforts to take my first few steps;

Angie, my angel nurse (see my last post);

The “main line” which went through my neck, which provided for me nutrition and antibiotics;

Whole Foods (did I mention that yet?)

My strong, strong kids;

Ayalah and Aitan who flew back to Israel alone (that is, without parents, but with each other, and I’m glad they figured out who would get the window seat without much fuss);

Avi Chai and Amir for sending beautiful get well pictures to the hospital;

And to all of them who put smiles on their faces, even when their Ema probably looked quite scary to them;

And for not making me feel badly (even though they probably want to tell me) that they want me to come home NOW;

And, for Ayalah is basically replacing me the best way she can – with no complaints as I understand.

Dina, our dear family friend, who generously and successfully assisted us with gan issues and decisions we were having with Amir as he prepared to start a new school.

Traveler’s insurance;

Eran at the Traveler’s insurance;

Ensure;

Physical therapy for their help and encouragement with practicing to walk up steps for the first time after surgery;

Flowers from Kibbutz Hannaton (what a surprise!)

Katelynn, the tech, who always walked into my room calmly and carried a genuine happy stride to herself;

Nurses: Cindy, Dana, Alyson, Beth, and Donna;  (there are probably more, but that’s who I remember);

Drs. Bruce Silver and Marc Rothman who helped me with my locked jaw (as a consequence of being intubated for 24+ hours);

Rabbi Krupnick who traveled to Israel the day I went to the hospital and told me afterwards that 30+ rabbis prayed for my recovery daily;

Rabbi Miller who visited me at the hospital at 9 PM when I was about to fall asleep and who spoke softly like an angel escorting me to my dreams;

Rabbi Serebrowski for his visits and for encouraging me to talk to God (which I did… Boy, did I!);

My one-of-a-kind sister, Amy, who from far away, offered on countless occasions to fly up to NJ to be with me at the hospital and also during my recovery and for the beautiful flowers and endless emails and phone calls;

Did I mention Whole Foods?

Boaz – my Rock. who has done everything right, who has held me together, who has held this situation together, who held me while I was crying, who helped me to stay non-emotional when making important decisions, for visiting me in the hospital everyday, for staying on top of my care, for encouraging me to walk, for walking me, for giving me a shower (as ugly as those staples may have looked to him), for entertaining the kids and keeping them out of trouble; for keeping down the fort in Israel including back-to-school-night, arranging the kid’s classes, helping the kids with their first days of school, for calling each day to keep me abreast to what’s going on, and in general, for being a role model to all about what it means to be a dedicated husband.

Rachel, my mother-in-law, for temporarily replacing me, driving to our home each day, preparing lunches, helping the kids with their homework, taking them to their extra-curricular classes, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and keeping a sense of order and sanity while I’m away;

Ian, who brilliantly thought to Skype the Hannaton kids’ triathalon, so that I could “participate” in it along with the rest of the community.

Ayalah, for doing the entire triathalon alongside AviChai who wasn’t quite ready to do it yet on his own.

For YOUR forgiveness, if I haphazardly missed you, anyone or anything.

And last, but not least, G-d, oh Hashem, for all of the above and more; You deserve a post just for Yourself, indeed.

Upcoming.


6 Comments

STUCK on an ANGEL

This post was hand-written (while I was half sedated) during my time in the I.C.U. and dedicated to Angela Meraviglia.

I believe in angels.

***

During my recent and unexpected visit to Virtua Hospital, I had one nurse assigned to me during each 12-hour shift in the I.C.U.

All of them did what was required of them: they gave me my pain medications, they took my vitals, they came to me when I rang for them…

But, when you are scared to death like I was, and you can’t speak because you have a breathing tube down your throat like I had, you really need something more than a nurse.

You need an angel.

Because the last thing you, the patient, wants to be feeling, is to be a burden on anyone.

Which, on many occasions, I have to admit, I did feel.

Like when a nurse would walk into my room, after having rang for her, and she pops her head in and asks, “Yes?”

HELLO?!?!?!? (I’m saying/screaming to myself!)

I’ve got a BREATHING tube down my throat!

Don’t you KNOW that?

I CAN’T SPEAK!?

What do you mean, HELLO????

I need a PEN and PAPER to COMMUNICATE with you!!!

It’ll take a few seconds of your time…

I’m SORRY for the bother!!

***

But, I tried not to get stuck on that.

And, thank G-d, it wasn’t always like this.

Because I was blessed with an angel.

This angel was the antithesis of all the other nurses that I met.

This angel was caring, funny, experienced, and compassionate.

How can I help?

She would ask, before I even rang for her.

Can I fix the way you’re sitting?  It looks to my that you’re sitting kind of funny, she’d say.

And, she had a sense of humor that could make you roll over laughing until you die (God forbid!)

Like her conspiracy theories that my father and husband were F.B.I. agents – each having their own swipe cards leading up to the back entrance of the hospital – allowing them to enter on their own time and at any time.

You see, I wasn’t afraid to bother this angel.

Just the opposite.

I was encouraged and calmed by her.

Like when she found a spot of blood on the pillow that was underneath my knees.

I freaked.

She didn’t.

Do you have your period, she asked?

NO!!!!

CALL THE DOCTOR!!! I strongly suggested.

Wait a minute, she said calmly.

Let’s see if we can make sense of this.

And, she did.

It was the heparin shot in my leg, that slightly bled into the pillow (which, in case you don’t know, heparin shots don’t get covered up with bandaids like most other shots.)

***

I always bring gifts from Israel when I visit the States.

This time, I brought beautifully painted rocks.

With words from the Bible painted on them, in Hebrew.

After giving out three of them to my friends, I found myself with one remaining.

The smallest one.

Small enough to put into the palm of your hand.

And I was deliberating what to do with it.

And it came to me while laying in that hospital bed.

I couldn’t think of a better person to whom to give it.

Written on this particular rock was not a sentence, like the other rocks I brought back, but rather just one word.

ahavaAHAVA.

LOVE.

This word is composed of 4 Hebrew letters: Aleph, Hey, Vet, Hey.

And, as a lover of Hebrew, please allow me explain the root of this word.

The letter Aleph in the Hebrew alphabet (the first letter in the word LOVE), represents the self, “I”.

The letter Hey in the Hebrew alphabet (the last letter in the word LOVE), represents God.

The two letters in between – Hey and Vet compose the root of the word: Hav, which means – TO GIVE.

In other words, LOVING is synonymous with GIVING.

That is, LOVE is the constant choice to GIVE to another.

It’s a relationship.

A process.

For example, with my angel, her unconditional GIVING was the method that created a connection between the two of us.

Her GIVING was the condition that created and sustained love between the two of us.

Without her giving, there would have been no connection that could have been sustaining.

And lucky for me, she worked most of the shifts during my stay in the I.C.U.

And, for obvious reasons, I was quite stuck on her.

And grateful to see her as the sun rose each morning.

****

So many people continue to tell me that this whole ordeal must have happened for a reason.

That is was orchestrated from above.

Which I do believe, however crazy that may seem.

And, I guess meeting one of my angels was supposed to be part of that scheme.