I just lit the candle to mark the beginning of my Dad’s second yahrzeit (anniversary of his passing). It’s just me and the candle. No distractions.

I feel pain, yet not as intensely as last year. I feel the loss more acutely now.

In the past year, I had several complex decisions to make. And I often thought, Where’s Dad? I need his counsel!

Not able to chat with him in life, I couldn’t figure out what he would have advised. Stuck. Unsure.

And then I remembered this: Take a piece of legal pad paper. Draw a line down the center. Write Pro on one side and Con on the other. Then make your list. As I wrote those words, I could almost hear Dad relaying those instructions.

The classic Pro and Con list helped. Trying to hear his voice comforted me.

**

We had happy times in the family during the past year. Dad wasn’t there. I missed sharing the events with him. Did he come in spirit? I believe he did. Yet I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t see his smile.

I could conjure up memories of him smiling at other milestones.

three-generations

Three Generations: Poppy, Grandson, and Great-Grandson

 

 

dad-and-noey

Poppy and Great-Grandson at School

 

The image of him dancing spiritedly with his grandson—my son—at the wedding came to mind.

Picturing the memory of the wedding dance comforted me.

**

On the yahrzeit, some of the observances of mourning are in effect. I won’t listen to music today or go to joyous events. I’ll draw on what I learned about simcha (joy) during the year of mourning: Feeling joyful comes from the inside. I can feel joy without the outside stimuli like music. Today, I’ll catch up on my spiritual studies and listen to classes, especially those with an upbeat tone.

And learning in Dad’s memory will comfort me.

**

L’ilui nishmas (for the elevation of the soul) Yoel Meir ben (son of) Simcha—Joel Sandleman, 26 Tevet 5777 (solar calendar date is January 17).

Photos ©Sherri Leah Henkin 2004-2017.

 

 

Advertisements

Painting Lesson #1

I wanted to paint without focusing on a specific subject or even color scheme. Glenna Rosansky thought I’d enjoy experimenting. First I learned leaf printing. I painted watercolor on the back of a leaf. Then pressed that side of the leaf on the cold press watercolor paper. I chose soft colors and contrasted with vibrant colors. To add some depth, I used an ink pen. I loved experimenting with the media, combining nature and man-made paint. I relaxed during the process, placing the leaves gently on the page. I enjoy looking at the colors, shapes, lines, and design.

 dec-2016-leaf-printing

Painting Lesson #2

In the following session, I learned two new techniques: Wet-on-wet and crinkled plastic wrap. For wet-on-wet, I sprayed water on the cold press paper and then dropped color on the water. Then waited and watched where the color went. I turned the page, and the water flowed down or sometimes to the side. The water didn’t always go in the direction I thought it would, or wanted it to.

Next I painted thick color on the paper. Of course I chose some of my favorite shades—purple, green, blue—and added some yellow for contrast. I crumpled a piece of plastic wrap and pressed the wrap on swabs of wet color. I discovered that I got different designs if I pressed with my fingers than when I pressed with my knuckles or side of my fist. And then I could use the remaining paint on the plastic wrap to print a light design on the paper. There’s not a right way or a wrong way; there’s not one way to do this technique.

jan-2017-wetonwet-plastic-wrap

What I Learned from Painting

My day sometimes turns out like my paintings. I have a schedule that I plan to follow. But something comes up that I don’t expect and I change direction. The day may not turn out like I expected, with all my action items checked off. Yet I can still look back and see that I was productive and the day was beautiful.

There’s not a right way or wrong way to create the action plan for the day. Try one process to create an action plan. Relax with the process. Be open to opportunities of learning new techniques.

How do you create your action plan or schedule? Share your process in the comments!

**

Paintings (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2016, 2017

 

 

While in Israel, I needed two adapters for my American chargers. I knew what the adapter looked like but didn’t know the term in Hebrew. My cousin suggested that I might find the adapters in the local hardware store.

I easily located the store a couple blocks from my temporary Jerusalem home. I couldn’t translate the information on sign. The window display of light bulbs, hammers, and extension cords gave me clues that I’d found the store!

The customers waiting at the counter blocked the entrance. I waited semi-patiently until there was an opening in the crowd.

In my limited Hebrew, I asked the cashier if he spoke English.

Lo.” (“No”)

Uh, oh. How do I ask for this now?

Visuals to the rescue!

On the counter, I saw an appliance that had a plug similar to my charger. Using my stilted Hebrew, I pointed to the plug. Slowly I explained that I have something from America that has a plug and want to use it in Israel. Where is something I can use with this plug?

Sham, b’mageivot,” and he pointed in a general direction down the aisle.

I’m grateful the cashier pointed, because that was all I initially understood. As I walked down the aisle, I repeated his instructions. I knew that sham meant “there”. OK. I wracked my brain’s RAM and figured out that mageivot meant “drawers”. Progress!

Down the aisle I found drawers—lots of them—and all neatly labelled…in Hebrew!

My ability to read Hebrew is slower than my conversational ability. Methodically, I read some labels to figure out the system: From Location Name (such as Europe) to Israel. Finally, I found the drawer for America. Success! I pulled out two of these precious adapters. I clutched them as if they were my trophy for winning a marathon!

 

After I paid for my trophies, I asked the cashier, in Hebrew, “How do you say this item in Hebrew?”adapter

“Ahdaptor!”

 I learned a new word!

charger-and-adapter

“May I use your cell phone?” my bus seat mate asked, in perfect Israeli Hebrew.

Huh? She doesn’t have one? I thought everyone had a cell phone!

“I need to call my daughter. May I use your cell phone?” my seat mate persisted.

“Oh, sure! Here.”

“Will you be charged for the call?”

Confused by the question, all I could say is “Huh?” She repeated the question and added, “I’ll pay for the call.”

“Oh! No, need. The calls are free,” I responded in my broken Hebrew.

That settled, my seat mate called her daughter. I didn’t want to eavesdrop, yet couldn’t help overhearing the exchange with her daughter.

“Hi, dear,” my seat mate said in the Queen’s English! Mother and daughter chatted quickly about meeting details or something. After she ended the call, she handed me the phone with a pleasant Toda (thank you).

“No problem,” I responded in American English. “We could have done the initial conversation in English!” We giggled about the conversation and chatted how we were both trying to be Israeli. A lady standing near us joined our laughter and conversation. The three of us heaped blessings on each other for a year of health, joy, blessing from our families, abundant income, and anything else we could we could think of.

Where else would a cell phone loan lead to blessings?

**

The four double-busses, packed with passengers stood on the street.

egged-double-bus-from-egged-website

Nothing moved. Clearly I wasn’t getting on a bus anytime soon, so I took a seat on the low cool stone wall outside Jerusalem’s Old City…me and hundreds of other bus-less passengers.

“Hey! That lady has a cell phone; ask her to use it,” a 10-year-old boy said to his buddy in colloquial Hebrew.

[I don’t know their names, so let’s call them Yishai and Doron.]

Doron turned to me and in rapid-fire Hebrew asked if he could use my cell phone. From my previous experience, I knew that question meant he didn’t have a cell phone. Without questions—my Hebrew is no match for a 10-year-old—I handed Doron the phone. He punched in a number and waited. No answer. Doron closed the call, and sighing returned the phone to me with a quick Toda. Yishai said something to him that I couldn’t understand and we parted ways.

I decided to trek back through the Old City and head home via the Jaffa Gate. That meant hiking up the road inside the Old City in 90 degree heat, without water. (Why had I forgotten to take bottle of water?) As I walked up the hill, I realized I had lots of company! Part way through the Old City, the police redirected us to a different exit route. Unfamiliar with those roads, I asked a friendly-looking woman if she knew the way; she did. I tagged along with she and her family.

I kept my eyes on this woman, intent on not getting lost. The shrill ringing I heard shocked me. I wasn’t sure what rang and looked around expecting some emergency vehicle to show up! Finally I realized that the persistent tone was my cell phone. I looked at the number, didn’t recognize it, and planned to press the Reject button.

Oh! Wait! Maybe it’s the person Doron called from my phone! I answered the call. Sure enough, it was Doron’s mother. She spoke in the same speedy Hebrew as her son. I patiently explained that I’m not fluent in Hebrew and Doron’s Mom slowed down.

“Did you see my son? Is he with you?”

“No, he’s not with me now. We met at the bus stop and he used my phone there.”

“When was that?”

“About 40 minutes ago” I guessed.

“So he got on the bus?”

“I don’t know. None of the busses were moving. I left the area to walk home.”

“But do you think he got on the bus?” she anxiously asked again. I really wanted to help her even though I didn’t know her. If it were me, I’d want as much information as I could get!

Calmly I said, “I’m sorry. I’m not sure what he did. But he was with his buddy and I’m sure they stuck together. There were lots of people; none of us could get on the bus.”

“Ah. Good! He’s with his friend.”

“Yes. I’m close enough to walk home so I decided to leave the bus stop. That was about 40 minutes ago.”

“OK. Thank you so much! Chag Sameach!” (Happy Holiday!)

I’m sure Doron and Yishai made it home safely.

**

Where else in the world would I loan a child my cell phone? Where else in the world would I take a call from an unknown person and try and piece together what happened?

And where else in the world would the person I couldn’t help thank me enthusiastically and bless me?

Only in Israel!

Bus photo from egged.co.il site

I arrived in Israel right after Rosh Hashanah (early October). I sensed the spirit of the chagim (holidays) as soon as I landed when I saw the Shanah Tovah (loosely translated as Happy New Year) signs at the airport! My Israel Adventure had begun!!

And it’s been quite a spiritual and physical adventure! Here’s the wrap-up:

  • A long-time friend met me at the airport—her beaming smile warmed my heart! And off we went in our private taxi to my Jerusalem cousins.
  • Friday early afternoon, I visited the Kotel (Western Wall) and merited to pray Mincha (the afternoon prayers) there. kotel-first-friday-afternoon-erev-shabbos-shuva
  • Early Tuesday morning, I travelled to Alei Zahav and spent Yom Kippur with other long-time friends. I enjoy the spirituality in this place, and the view from their porch grabs me each time, since I see the Mediterranean in the distance! alei-zahav-view-from-the-porch
  • Sukkah-building got underway; I heard hammers and drills late into the night after Yom Kippur! My cousins fill their sukkah with original paintings and decorations. As a friend put it, “You are eating in an art gallery!” What a privilege. sukkah-with-succos-painting                                             Artist: Elya Succot
  • Being at the Kotel for Birkat Kohanim (public priestly blessing) is my favorite Succot activity. This year, I was one of the 70,000 who attended! The thunder of that many people answering Amen to blessings inspires me for many months! And in the midst of the crowd, the doves peacefully watched over us. birds-at-birkat-kohanim-blog
  • The lighting effects, fireworks, and sound during the concert in Brechat Sultan (Sultan’s Pool) blew me away! Real feet-stomping and hand-clapping music—with many people dancing in the aisles!lights-brechat-hasultan-concert

 

dancing-in-aisles-breachat-hasultan

  • And then, I travelled to Tzefat (Safed) for the Shabbat during Succot. I toured part of the Artists’ Colony with a friend—and made some purchases, of course! artists-quarter-sculptureOne night a few of us drove to a quiet spot near the Jordan River…we chatted and enjoyed the gurgling of the rushing river. And the stars! WOW—millions of them! I could even pick out some constellations!
  • Back in Jerusalem, a friend and I took in the Valley of the Gazelles…right in the center of the city! gazelle-running
  • I’ve even done some mundane activities such as food shopping, clothes-buying, and helping a friend declutter!

Although my cousins put away the sukkah and the chagim are over, the festive spirit continues. We have a family wedding this week! Our dancing shoes are ready! If you hear loud lively music this week, it’s coming from that wondrous simcha (joyous occasion)!

Wishing all my readers a year full of health, success, joyous occasions, and exciting adventures!

Sometimes I don’t know whether or not I can complete a project. At times, I doubt my ability to write a new article. There are times when the mountain of action items just appears plain overwhelming.

And I want to give up. Why even start?

I worked hard to hear my higher voice encourage me: “You CAN do it. Take one small action!”

As I’d start the action, the lower voices (Why are lower voices in the plural? There seem to be so many of them!) clamored for attention: “Oh really? What’s one small action going to do? Just give up! You know you won’t finish.”

Most times I’d plod methodically through the tasks. Eventually, I finish the project. Sometimes, I put the project on hold.

Recently I heard Eli’s* father describe his young son’s attitude. Eli battled cancer valiantly for four years. No matter how hard the treatments were, how he felt, how many times he had to stay in the hospital, Eli never gave up. He implored others to also never give up. When someone many times his age asked for advice, Eli told this to person to have a never-give-up attitude.

I now envision Eli with his bright smile telling me, “NEVER GIVE UP!”

**

*L’ilui nishmas (for the elevation of the soul of) Elimelech ben (son of) Menachem Mendel Malkiel Gradon.

Client work, personal writing, socializing, studying…lots to juggle. My schedule shows back-to-back appointments. Some reminders conflict with appointments. And some tasks don’t even make it to the calendar! Ooops, when can I do laundry?

Which action do I take first?

The true question: What are my priorities today?

I shut off the ringer and close down the email. Breathe. Calmly, I look at my action list and calendar.

  • Let’s get a bit more centered—perhaps some spiritual work. Priority 1.
  • A meeting with Client A that requires prep. How much prep? Determine that and since it’s a meeting, this activity becomes Priority 2.
  • Throw in some socializing or a fun activity. How long? I think I have an hour…at the end of the day. Although I’d like to assign the activity Priority 3, I really need to defer.

And so it goes. I look at the action items and due dates. Have I figured enough time for the activity? I weigh the pros and cons of taking action now or pushing it off. What are the consequences to me if I push off an action? Can I negotiate a due date—even with myself?

action-list

I still haven’t learned to juggle real balls in the air. I have learned to juggle proverbial balls and enjoy the process!