Friday, April 28, 2017

Creeping Summer - Reasons 2B Cheerful

Lemon Scented Geranium grown from a cutting.
Parents evening
We had our parent-teacher-student meeting this week. Here the children come with their parents. For us it's good that DD hears what the teachers have to say about her (or to her as is the case here). As a teacher it's sometimes annoying when you want to be honest with the parents of a child who has problems.

We got glowing reports about DD's character and academic progress. We are neither a genius nor a duffer. We are managing to do all the work, in our second language, with good enough grades (and excellent in English and Maths). More importantly, to me, DD is neat, organised and precise in her work, She's a good and caring friend, well liked in the class, and she loves school. Result!

Fireworks and fly past preview
Last night they had the dress rehearsal for the ceremony on Mt. Herzl that takes us from Memorial Day (for fallen soldiers and victims of terror) into Independence Day. It's not until Monday night but we stood on the balcony last night and saw the fireworks. Then this morning they practiced the fly past of air force jets. I could also see this from my balcony. All that's left for me to do on Tuesday is the obligatory Independence Day picnic.

Back to school
The school in which I was miserable for three months during the winter, said they want me to come back next year. Of course I found myself saying yes. They very cleverly wait to ask until the sun is shining, my dungeon classroom has warmed up a bit, and on a day when all the classes are rehearsing for the celebrations next week so I was totally relaxed and enjoying myself doing not much. Of course I said yes on a day like that.

No screens Shabbat
In a bid to cut down on screen time I instigated a no screens on Shabbat rule. You're not supposed to use electricity on Shabbat at all but we do because I tend to interpret my own rules straight from God rather than go through the Rabbis. The Good Book says God rested on the seventh day and the 10 commandments say remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. So we don't work on Shabbat but screen time is leisure, not work.

However, DD was spending too much time on the computer and it was becoming an obsession rather than a leisure activity. As the people we know have all sorts of strange rules and customs for Shabbat, DD was upset about it but accepted it as a reasonable rule (after begging me 100 times to reconsider).

My only reservation was that if DD couldn't be on a computer, neither could I. But actually it's been great. We play games on Friday night after supper, read - she to me and me to her. She even picked up a chapter book and started reading it herself last week - a first. And I'm always happy to read.

Apart from the new willingness to read, DD is also more willing to go out and be sociable on Shabbat. It's really a win-win-win-win move.

Blooming marvelous
The lemon scented geranium that started out as a cutting brought to me from my cousin's house in London, is now blooming. And the mint that was a tiny sprig from the greenhouse at school is thriving. The lemon pips I stuck into some soil are also growing.

I have big plans to move some plants around for a whole window box of mint for tea and salads. And another for parsley. I'm also on the lookout for more cuttings. Unfortunately a spider plant cutting given to us by a friend is not thriving. It's an inside plant but we have no room inside for plants so it's suffering on the sun-scorched balcony. (I hope there's no RSPCP.)

That's it from me as we slide down the slippery slope of lethargy into a full blown Middle Eastern Summer. Even though we still have two months left of school I'm feeling the slowness descend.

There are more Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Memorial Day

In my time I have visited Dachau, the concentration camp near Munich, attended courses and seminars at Yad Vashem, I have taken part in 70 Days for 70 Years, I have visited Anne Frank's hiding place in the attic in Amsterdam, I have listened to the testimonies of many survivors, I have read a hundred books about the Shoah. Despite all this background, each year the impact of Yom Hashoah takes me by surprise.

In 2015 I wrote this 100 word challenge. It took a long time for me to understand the implications of being a 2nd Generation Survivor. (It is capitalized because it's a 'thing'). I used to think - you weren't there, for heavens sake, survive already. But then a flatmate explained to me how it is growing up with parents traumatized and damaged, and I remembered certain friends' parents and grandparents from my childhood.

My family, on both sides came to England to escape the pogroms in the 1880s. If they left cousins behind, which they almost certainly did, my parents probably had 3rd or 4th cousins who perished. But we don't know who they are and 3rd or 4th cousins in large families of 5 to 10 children are distant relations.

However, my mother's family did bring over a cousin from Germany with her two daughters. The collective family employed them as maids and found them accommodation. I know this sounds incredible but that's how you got visa's in those days. After the war they lived on reparations, together, the mother and two spinster daughters who never fully recovered and suffered mental health issues until they died.

My mother also remembers sitting on the stairs eavesdropping as her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles discussed what they should do if Hitler conquered Britain. The options were to go into hiding or to commit collective suicide. There were strong arguments for both options.

During the blitz my Grandmother evacuated from Ladbroke Grove in London to Pitlochry in Scotland with my mother and her brother. Afterwards she would say, "I don't know why we went so far, we should've gone to Edgeware." But the underlying and unspoken reason for going so far, where no one knew them, was that if the Nazis took Britain they could disappear as Jews and continue to live as Christians.

So although my own family are not survivors, my facebook page is full of friends giving testimony about how their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts either escaped or were murdered. I lit my memorial candle and read about very young children sent on the kindertransport to England and who never saw their parents again. Other children who were sent into convents or the homes of farmers or maids for the duration. Others hidden in attics.

I read about men and women who lost their whole families - parents, husbands or wives and their children. They came to England, America, Israel, or Australia alone, remarried and some of my friends' parents are their second families. What must it be like to know that your parents had children before you who were murdered in Auschwitz? How could you ever live up to that legacy? How could you ever be good enough to replace those dead first children?

No cousins. No grandparents or uncles or aunts. Only ghosts and the lifelong pain in your parents' hearts.

Just last week I was talking to a friend about her uncle who was taken in by their Christian maid as a baby and lived with them until he was about 7. I asked her if they gave him back readily at the end of the war as some families refused to return the children without a fight. My friend said there was no problem as from the very beginning the 'mother' told him that he has a Mummy and a Daddy and a sister who love him and they will come back to get him after the war. The Mummy never came back from the camps. And I can't write this without crying. Yes there was also much kindness amidst the horror.

Tomorrow at 10 am the siren will sound over the whole of Israel for two minutes of silence. I've shown photos before of how the traffic, even on the busiest highways, stops and the drivers get out to stand by their cars with heads bowed in remembrance and respect. Every school has a ceremony starting with the siren at 10 am, including every schoolchild. Every citizen stops and our collective memory rises in prayer to the heavens. Lest we forget. Never again.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reasons 2B Cheerful At Home And Away

I've missed two weeks of Reasons 2B Cheerful as we were away for the Pesach holidays. We were staying with my Mum in London where three of us competed for shared one computer. There was also far too much good television to watch and a whole Daily Mail was delivered to the front door every morning (a real paper one, with no clickbait like they use online).

Anyway, we're back and just as we started to catch up with our lives, a whole load of new stuff was thrown into the mix. I'm reminded of that fridge magnet that says: I try to take one day at a time but sometimes several days all throw themselves at me at once.

Here are some Reasons 2B Cheerful as I battle my way through the 'To Do' list:

The London Duck Titania
We spent two weeks in London with family and friends. As usual we didn't rush around seeing everything but rather had a couple of outings and lots of hanging out. There may have been some clothes shopping involved.

DD and I went on the London Duck. I'd never heard of this tour until I read about it in my 6th graders' English textbook where there is a unit about London. It was a lot of fun. The tour guide was very amusing although the jokes went right over DD's head. As we went into the water however, she started laughing away when he showed us the MI6 building on the South Bank of the Thames.

DD: He's very funny isn't he? Everyone knows spies are only in stories and films. Hilarious.

Into Summer
Summer has officially started. I know this because DD went to school in shorts this morning. That makes it official. There's no going back now. Hot days for five months from now until October. I'm cheerful about it now but of course I'll be yearning for cold weather by the middle of June.

Hanging out at the bar at the photography exhibition

Photography Exhibition
My friend Yael Katz held her first photography exhibition yesterday evening. It was so impressive that it deserves a whole post to itself. Watch this space, it's coming soon.

My friend had her annual visit to her mother's graveside accompanied by close family and friends. After visiting the cemetery on The Mount of Olives, they return to the house for a breakfast. Obviously this isn't the reason to be cheerful but my job is to stay at home and set out the breakfast. And I love preparing food and setting it out. I was singing away to myself as I cut up fruit and vegetables, arranged cheese and dips on platters and chose matching tablecloth and napkins. (S - Sorry for being so happy on your mother's yarhzeit but please think of it as me helping to celebrate her life.)

I'm linking up to R2BC over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum blog.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits #44 - The Pesach Holiday

Standing on a London bridge
Possibly Lambeth Bridge
Who knows
Revising for a geometry test at school.

Me: We'll have to look up what these angles are called in Hebrew, I only know right angle, obtuse angle and acute angle.
DD: Really? A cute angle? Awwww!

No bread
On Pesach (Passover) we don't eat bread for a week. There are loads of other rules but this is the main thing. I am trying not to eat bread and DD doesn't like it very much so we often don't have bread in the house for weeks.

Me (to my nephew on the last evening of Pesach): If you weren't coeliac, if I wasn't on a ketogenic diet, and if DD liked bread, we could have sandwiches in 10 minutes. But you are, I am and she doesn't so we're not. And we don't have any bread in the house anyway.
DD: What? We're not allowed bread on Pesach?
Me: No, of course not. That's the main thing about Pesach. Why do you think we're all eating matza instead?
DD; Oh. No one told me. I seem to have missed that piece of information.

On arriving early for our tour on the London Duck.

Me: The London Eye is right here. Maybe we'll go and see if we can get tickets for today.
DD; Oooh yes. I really want to go on the London Eye.
(As we turn the corner and see the London Eye up close.)
DD; It's very big. I do want to go on it but not today. Maybe I'll go on it when I'm 12. Or when I'm 16.

We finished reading Heidi and went on to Heidi Grows Up. In the first chapter Heidi says her prayers and includes the line, "God bless the Grandmother up in heaven."

DD: Wait. Is she dead?
Me: Seems so.
DD: So that's it? They just mention that she died? Just like that? No expressions?
Me: What expressions do you want?
DD: Like if Heidi was sad...if they did she die...about the funeral.... Not just she's dead and that's it! I hope we get a few more expressions when the Grandfather dies.

DD went to a park in London with Grandma and she made friends with a Muslim girl who was wearing a long black abaya and a black hijab covering her hair, forehead and neck.

Me: Did you ask her why she was dressed like that?
DD: Yes. She told me she was Muslim but I didn't understand what that meant.
Me: Did you tell her that' you're Jewish.
DD: Yes but I don't think she understood what that is.
Me; So what did you talk about?
DD: We found we watch the same You Tube videos.

Talking of You Tube...

DD: You know like when a series ends and you're like, "I'm so sad?" And you're like, "I'll never find another good series," And then you do find one and you're like....
Me: Will you stop saying 'like' for everything. You know when a series ends and you FEEL sad because you THINK you'll never find another good series....
DD: You know when a series ends and you feel so sad and you feel like, I'm allowed to say that, you've lost a friend and you feel like, I'm allowed to say that, almost crying?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Different Smugs - R2BC

Already dreaming of my matza brie
Pesach and Spring Cleaning
Today we broke up for the Pesach holidays. Obviously Pesach cleaning takes over from teaching but the beauty of it is that you can start at 9 am and not have to leave the house at all instead of getting up at 6.45 and running out the door at 7.30 am.

I've said it before but in case you weren't listening or have forgotten. Pesach is the festival of Passover in which we celebrate the exodus from Egypt. Part of the ritual is spring cleaning which is elevated to a religious level by requiring one's home be spotlessly clean as we enter the eight-day festival. This is a good thing as you want to spring clean anyway so making it a requirement ensures that you get it done and then you feel smug.

At school the children all helped to clean the building. Have you seen those Japanese videos of schoolchildren cleaning? Well it was like that. The school lunches that are delivered daily were sandwiches and we all ate outside.

We saw where babies come from.
During the mass picnic, someone suddenly cried, "Look up!" We all did and saw a whole flock of storks doing a fly past. Israel is on the main flight path for many migrating birds as they fly from Europe to Africa in the autumn and back again in the spring. It was an amazing sight. I am not a twitcher by any means. To me bird watching is about as interesting as watching other people play golf, but you could see their long necks and wide wingspans as they carried all the little babies in bundles tied around their beaks.

National Assessment Tests....done.
Yesterday we had the Grade 5 Meitsav in English. It's like the SATS, a national assessment test that everyone hates. Thankfully this year we we're not on the external examination list, unlike last year, so we could give the exam ourselves and mark it ourselves. The marking is quite complicated with points for relevance, verb conjugation, word order, use of pronouns, spelling, capital letters and full stops, etc... And try doing this for 30 questions times the number of students. Anyway, I stayed up late last night and got all my meitsav papers marked and all the record pages filled in. Smug was not the word when I waltzed into school this morning.

So if I can just get this place cleaned I'll be smugged to the hilt (and ready for a fall?). I'm joining the Linky over at Mummy from the Heart for the final hosting of Reasons 2B Cheerful for March.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mothering Sunday

Mum & DD, April 2012. I don't have a recent one #rubbishphotographer
Tomorrow is Mothering Sunday in the UK. Traditionally the second Sunday in Lent, it's about going home to pray at your mother church as well as visiting your mother and bringing her gifts. In the US it has turned into Mother's Day and is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. In Israel we celebrate Family Day (which used to be Mother's Day) on the Yahrzeit of Henrietta Szold who had no children of her own but saved 22,000 children from Hitler in Europe. This year it was on February 26th and I think I missed it.

Anyway, as I grew up in England's green and pleasant land, this post is honour of Mothering Sunday, even though I have no mother church to visit.

Six Things My Mother Did That I Don't Do:

1. Ironing. I don't buy thin cottons and I hang our clothes carefully on the line so that they dry smoothly. And if there are a few creases, body warmth soon deals with them. In fairness to my mother, she did have four of us wearing daily button-down shirts: my Dad, my brother, and even us two girls had to wear them for school uniform.

2. Make a three course dinner every night. You have to feel sorry for women in the 1970s as they were caught in the middle of old fashioned housewives on the one side and women's liberation and a severe economic depression, on the other. My mother went back to work full time when I was about 10 but she still felt that she needed to make a three course dinner every night. Sometimes we would be still eating at 9 pm. In hindsight, it was completely crazy.

3. Host Mid-Week Dinner Parties. Nowadays, especially in Israel, we entertain for one of the meals over Shabbat (Friday night or Saturday lunch). But I think that even in the UK, people tend to entertain mainly at the weekends. We go out to a film or a concert mid-week but having people over not so much. Our lives are too busy and we're too exhausted after a day's work, children's activities and homework, and preparing more work for the next day. If we do go round to friends mid-week it's called a light supper and usually comprises of soup, pasta and a salad.

4. Knitting. I can knit and crotchet but, as my mother herself pointed out, it's more expensive to buy the wool these days than it is to go out and buy a jumper or cardigan.

5. Wear make-up every day (including foundation) and go to the hairdresser once a week for a wash and blow dry. I just don't and my mother still does.

6. Make fabulous desserts - Lemon Cream Gateau, Black Forest Cherry Cake, Chestnut Pavlova, Eton Mess, Cheese Cake, Steamed Syrup Pudding, Lockshen Kugel, Bread Pudding, Cherry Shissel, Apple Strudel, homemade biscuits, and the list goes on. Well I'm doing Keto aren't I? But even before I discovered the keto diet, I was never a baker - too much like chemistry lessons if you ask me. My forte is pastry and salads. (Obviously the pastry is now off the menu.)

Four Things I Do That My Mother Didn't Do:

1. Take photos. This was Dad's job and the camera was his. My mother only got her own camera when her first grandchild came along. I'm a rubbish photographer and I often forget, but if I don't take the photos, there aren't any so I have to.

2. Write and publish.

3. Speak two languages. My Hebrew is rubbish but I can use it for everything I need. Mum told me that she once went on a French exchange and stayed with a family for a week. By the end she says she was pretty good at French. She'd forgotten it all by the time we used to go on holidays in France.

4. Wear leggings and ankle boots as part of my 'uniform'. Mum never wears anything less than proper clothes as opposed to what she describes as going out in pyjamas.

Four Things We Both Do:

1. Go to bed extremely late. We are both night owls and not larks.

2. Play cards and Scrabble. She plays Bridge. I'm a Kalooki girl - up to 150 points and you can come in twice. We're also both up for a game of Rummikub, which is a sort of card game with tiles.

3. Watch Escape To The Country and read The Daily Mail.

4. Love the social side of religious life but make up our own rules about the ritual.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Beauty And The #Post40Bloggers - R2bC

Beauty And The Beast
I was going to buy tickets for us and take DD to the Israel premiere of the new Beauty film. It was a charity performance and, for once, the premiere was in Jerusalem and not in Tel Aviv. However, our lovely friend Sally-Ann bought a spare ticket and invited DD as her treat.

It was indeed a treat as they went for pizza first and had ice-cream and sweets during. DD loved it all and came home after 9 pm, all smiles and excitement. She said, "Mummy, I saw Hermione, I recognised her straight away because she had the same face."

Thank you Sally-Ann, you and Hermione were a big hit.

Featured Blogger
I was invited to join Post40Bloggers so that they could feature one of my posts. And here I am - this week's featured blogger. I'm absolutely chuffed, bowled over, feeling like the bee's knees and full of it. Well why not?

Thank you Mel, I'm flattered to be chosen.

And then there was this. It came home from school and was dropped in my lap. I'm going to send one back in the lunch box on Sunday. I know it's soppy but who cares. (Remember that though she's 8, DD's school education is almost all in Hebrew.)

I'm linking up with Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Mich's Mummy From The Heart. I took a quick peek earlier and there seems to be some extra activity this week. I hope so. It's spring and if bloggers can't find a few R2BCs in the first week of spring it's going to be long sad summer for them. The linky's open all week....

Monday, March 20, 2017

Yedidya Bazaar - The End

They let you drop off stuff for the Yedidya Bazaar on the Sunday before. However, everything remains piled high in a store-room in the bags and boxes it came in, until the following Saturday night.

The beginning, every section is piled high like this
When Shabbat goes out the evening the before the bazaar, the volunteers arrive and they stay half the night  unpacking, sorting, folding, piling and hanging. There are books, household items, toys, and accessories but by far the majority of the bazaar is clothing. Women's, men's, youth girls', youth boys', little girls', little boys', and babies' sections. And each section has tops, bottoms, sweaters, coats, suits and dresses, nightwear, sportswear, shoes, etc...

I cannot help on Saturday night as I have DD at home. But first thing Sunday after I've dropped her at school, I'm on to it. I, and about five other regular Sunday sorters, greet the steady flow of bags and boxes still arriving all day Sunday. We are a team who meet up once a year as the Sunday crew. They say that nobody is indispensable but we sort of are.

The doors open at 4pm and as the first customers arrive, I slip away to collect DD from school. Sometimes I bring her back to choose some books but this time I chose some for her before I left. The toys are already too young for her. Doors close at 9pm. And open again at 4pm on Monday, closing finally at 9pm on the same day. That's it. Two days and it's over.

I've never seen the end. I only ever have before pictures. So tonight while my nephew was here, I slipped back to take a look. I also had to return because I'd taken some books and a couple of other items the day before and I'd not had any money with me.

The End, and every section finished like this
I arrived at 8.20 pm. With 40 minutes to go there were still some things left that would be sent to charity shops. Lisa, the new organiser this year, was sitting in the front desk looking exhausted. Some people were till browsing and choosing. I picked up another book, took my photo, paid my money, and bade fond farewells to the Sunday Sorters who, by chance, had also all come back for the finish (except for one who has a young child at home). See y'all next year!!

On returning home at not quite 9 pm, I remembered three box games I'd not brought down from the Yedidya cupboard because I didn't want DD to see that I was donating them. I had forgotten to take them to the Bazaar. I have officially beaten my own record by starting next year's collection before this year was even over. Go me.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cousins At The Marathon

We pushed ourselves further this year. Instead of stopping at the end of the road to see the full marathon runners and the half marathon runners, we walked up to the top to catch the 10k runners. Well we had an ulterior motive. My nephew was running the 10k. We saw him and got this lovely photo before he ran on into the horizon. Off again with the crowd.

He didn't wear the kilt, in case you were wondering.

So we passed the bouncy castles and other activities for the kids at the end of our road and we turned up towards the old city. There was something extra magical about seeing all the runners descending from the ancient city of Jerusalem. Like it was the original marathon run from ancient times or something. The photo looks a bit cartoony as it's cropped from a much wider vista.

We saw lots of runners we knew including many we didn't know were running. One of my heads of department from college suddenly called my name as she jogged passed. Friends older and younger. Past pupils and parents. And finally the head of English at the school I teach in walked passed us heading in the opposite direction. "What are you dong?" I asked. "Where are you going?"

She had arrived at the central bus station from staying out of town over night with her married daughter and had to walk home - a three hour walk and probably a good 10k - because there were no buses. Actually there were some buses but they were being used to block the side roads.

DD liked seeing the police horses best.

And when I got home I saw hundreds of photos all over facebook of people running the 10k right past where we were standing and I'd missed them all. How could that have happened? I guess with 30,000 runners you can't see everyone. Although they were spread over five different races and only the big three ran past where we were standing.

Kol Hakavod to everyone who ran today. It was a great morning to run and to watch.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Usual Springtime Events - R2BC

This week sees three of our regular springtime events. Three very good Reasons 2B Cheerful. I'm linking up with Mich on Mummy from the Heart where you can find more R2BCs.

After 6 years of refusing to dress up for Purim, DD suddenly decided that she wanted to be a unicorn this year. I was delighted. I took her down to the toy shop and said she could choose whatever she wanted from the costumes and accessories, Here the toy shops stock up on costumes espeially for Purim, like in America before Hallowe'en. With only one child I was willing to pay for whatever she wanted. There was no unicorn and she didn't want anything else so she came home and made her own costume. It was only a head-dress worn with her normal  clothes but this was a huge step forward for us.

The Yedidya Bazaar
The Yedidya Bazaar is next Sunday and Monday. I have a top cupboard where I save things for the bazaar. The first item went into it about one week after last year's bazaar. Don't you hate it when that happens? Anyway, the cupboard was full and I pulled everything out last weekend. The picture shows my hoard before I've even finished. There are a few games and toys I didn't put on the bed because I know that DD won't let them go if she sees them. We also went through DD's clothes and thinned them out. Remember that we took a whole load of games and books to her school market only a few weeks ago.

In the end we have 10 bags of stuff for the Bazaar, 3 bags to return to a friend, 2 bags of outgrown clothes for my downstairs neighbour (aged 4), and a couple of items that DD's very slim friend might like. Result! (Although where we get it all from every year still baffles me.)

Jerualem Marathon
Tomorrow we are bunking school (along with 90% of the pupils) to go and cheer on my nephew in the Jerusalem Marathon, He's running the 10k and the route goes relatively near where we live. Not as near as the full and the half marathon routes which we usually go to watch but near enough to walk to. We'll also see the full and half marathon runners but we won't be standing at the end of the road with our neighbours like last year.

He is threatening to run in his kilt (more of a tartan skirt than a kilt) which he wore for his Purim costume. Well at least we won't miss him if he does.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Limiting And Empowering Beliefs - #Breakthrough 5

This was last week's Breakthrough session but I got a bit bogged down with it (and then it was Purim).

I'll explain. The session was about the ways in which we limit ourselves and thereby limit our lives. We are so sure of what we can't do and what can't possibly be, that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I tried to do the homework an interesting thing happened.

The homework was in two parts. Part one was to write down all my strengths, capabilities, and all my successes. No problem. I know what I'm capable of but success in this big wide world mostly depends on other people playing along - that's where the doubts set in. I mean, I know I can write that great novel but someone has to agree to publish it right? I know I can teach another couple of courses at my college but they need to give me the hours. I know I could write great publicity posts for Filofax and Eilat hotels but they need to agree to collaborate with me.

OK, enough of that because the limitation comes when you don't knock on the doors, send the emails, do the diet, write the book, in the first place. If you are ready with the best product at the right time and you send enough emails, you'll eventually nail it. If you worry about if its worth starting you'll never have anything to sell.

Part two was to write a detailed description of the life you want to be living. I cannot tell you how hard this was. Every time I thought of something that I'd like I damped it down to be realistic in my limited way. For example, I kept writing about earning enough money to live comfortably in the way we live now. I can write anything I want so why write that I want to go on a real holiday once a year when I could write that we can go anywhere we want whenever we want - we're that rich. Why write about minor improvements to my apartment, a new sofa and new windows? Why not write that we buy a fantastic new place to live with a proper garden or a bigger balcony?

Some of it is the Maeve Binchy Syndrome. I love Maeve Binchy. Simple feel-good books in which someone has a good idea for a business. They work hard, all the neighbours come together to help babysit and offer their relevant skills for free, and a few pages later they're successful, rich, and famous. This is also known as 'suspended disbelief' or the 'pinch of salt effect'. But could there be something in it?

I think it was Marisa Peer (not Miri Sapir as Israelis often mishear- a normal Israeli name) who said that if you ask for enough money to get by you'll get just that - enough money to get by. In other words you get what you ask for. Or rather you get what you aim for.

So why why why is it so hard not be so darn 'realistic'?

I'm still working on writing the life I want to be living. It's not all about money. It's also about health, happiness, and balance, I enjoy having time to potter. Pottering doesn't make money. But I'd prefer to have the time to potter than to be earning a fantastic amount of money and have no time in which to enjoy it.

One particular thing that Devorah said in this week's podcast that resonated with me is: Imagine if you had a an enormous amount of money in the bank or from passive income, so that you didn't have to go to work. Your children are grown up and you have no commitments on your time. What would do with your life? The thing you come up with when all obstacles are wiped out of the picture, is probably your life's calling.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Carnivale! - Reasons 2B Cheerful

It's Purim this weekend. Basically it's the Jewish Carnivale, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, etc... Of course we have a religious story to go with it along the lines of: they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat. We have a miracle that we attach to it and traditional food, songs and blessings. Seriously though, it's all about celebrating the spring equinox as it is all over the world and with every religion. (Trust me on this, I've done research.)

The actual day of Purim is Sunday (or Monday in Jerusalem and other walled cities - I forget why.) But today the schools went wild. I was at DD's school this morning. Everyone came dressed up. Even DD agreed to wear a costume of sorts this year (More about that later.)

Vending machines meet Buzz Lightyear

See the princesses in the background?

The most brilliant costume imo
Marge and Homer Simpson

The Principal and the drama teacher

More teachers
Even the adults dressed up
The children exchanged Mishloah Manot - food parcels of nosh that they made and decorated. There was a fair with the children manning the stalls and each class rotating to different venues. There was candyfloss and popcorn and the grand finale was five big bouncy castles on the basketball court.

Then my batteries died and I came home to write this blog.

I'm linking up with Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Mummy from the Heart.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

There's Always One...

Can you spot the snail?
A week ago I gave my students an English test. We worked on the material beforehand, I made sure they really really knew it. I designed the test so that they would pass.

It was a comprehension test with a text about the life of Henrietta Szold. There were 20 vocabulary words to translate into Hebrew. Then there were 13 questions to answer about the text.

As with all tests, you have to assign points to each answer. The easiest way to do this is to, if possible, have all the points adding up to 100 so that you don't have  to do that percentage calculation at the end of each paper. I gave 20 points for the vocabulary - one point for each word, and 6 points for each of the other 13 questions - 78 points. This gave me 20 + 78 = 98 points in total.

Here it is.
What should I do about the missing two points? Simple. Rather than playing around with the maths and giving fractions (or decimals) of points for some questions, I decided to award the last two points for writing their name,

A couple of questions were, 'in your opinion' questions so there was a lot of leeway for getting it right. There is no right for someone's opinion but the answer does have to be relevant and not too silly. ('Silly' is defined at my discretion.)

Everyone got all the questions correct. (One student was away so she has to make up the test.) So that's 100% across the board, right? Except that one student didn't write her name.

I nearly gave her 98%. I very really nearly did. But in the end I awarded those two points to two other questions that possibly required greater thought and a more detailed answer.

There's always one, isn't there?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Deborah's Friends - R2BC

We had our annual Deborah's Friends evening last night. Our dear friend Deborah left this world ten years ago and every year since, her childhood, teenage, and college friends, about 30 of us in Israel, have been getting together around her Yahtzeit in March to celebrate friendship.

We always have an activity. We've had formal lectures, practical demonstrations, informal talks, and intimate soirees (usually if the weather is bad) of conversation and discussion. Someone gives a short Bible lesson. we serve a light supper, and we make a collection for a local charity - Zichron Menachem who give information, support, activities, visits, sibling treats, outings and holidays to families with children who have cancer.

This year we decided to make it all about Deborah as it's the 10th anniversary of her passing. Twenty friends reminisced and told stories about our times with Deborah. We looked at pictures going back 40 years. We were all together at summer camps, winter camps, a gap year on a kibbutz, and weekend visits. In between there were inter-city phone calls.  Deborah grew up in Cardiff and the rest of us are from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Sunderland, and Glasgow. (We were only allowed to call after 6 pm and calls were strictly limited - remember how expensive it was to call out of town in the 1970s?). We were college students together, at each other's weddings (well not mine obviously) and watched each others' children growing up (mine is still growing up obviously).

Deborah, aged about 19
After University many of us moved to Israel and kept in touch. Deborah and others stayed in the UK (although some of their grown-up children are now moving here). A couple moved to the US and one to Denmark. There was a void between student days and the internet when it was harder to keep in touch but we now have contact with almost everyone again.

Deborah's husband wrote a moving letter from London as did another close friend. Her sister, Lisa sent a letter from Tel Aviv and Deborah's son, now living in Israel, came with his wife. We laughed and we cried - but mostly laughed.

As a result of Deborah's illness Lisa started BRACHA (which in Hebrew means Blessing). This is an organisation based in Israel to give information, support, advice and to advocate for people with the BRCA 1/2  genetic mutation and anyone living with a high risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. It's an amazing initiative that has saved and will save many lives. If only Deborah had had this information 20 years ago when she first became ill.

I feel truly blessed to have been part of such a wonderful community of friends. All good people who have journeyed together over 40 years and still enjoy each other's company.

Back on track with Reasons 2B Cheerful taking the weekend slot and the Linky is with Mich at Mummy from the Heart for the month of March.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Marching On With #Breakthrough 4

This week has been busy. I, who never go out in the evening, have two events this week. One I wrote about yesterday and one is tomorrow evening. Tomorrow will be a very late night out of town so my friend is coming for a sleep over with her 6 yo son. He and DD are great friends so they'll have fun. We've done this before when my friend has gone out for the evening but this time she'll be hanging out at my place while I go out.

Of course this means that I was supposed to clean the apartment today. She told me not to but I have my pride. However, I got home from school at 2 pm (today is my early day when I leave at 1 pm) and found some absolutely pressing things that needed seeing to on the computer. No, not watching you tube - sending in my payable hours for February, doing some light editing and translating that I'd promised a friend, answering some emails from college, etc...

Before I knew it, it was time to collect DD from school. Then I had to make supper because 1. my nephew was coming for supper and 2. I've made a new month resolution as part of the whole Breakthrough process that we sit down and eat a healthy supper at around 6 pm rather than remembering that I've not fed DD at 7.30 and she's been filling up on crisps and baby-belle cheeses from the fridge. (In fact I'm no longer buying crisps.)

That took us to 7 pm when nephew left and DD remembered a big chunk of Hebrew homework that's due tomorrow. That took almost an hour. Then it had to be hair-wash night because I'm going out tomorrow and we have our friends here. So now she's finishing off in the shower and I'm blogging.

I had to blog today. I'm still trying to claw my way back into the top 1,000 of the TOTS100 and this month my rank has risen by 139! I'm still 214 away from 999 but it made me happy. Another Breakthrough promise is to blog more consistently this year - I'm aiming for at least 10 posts a month. I only managed 9 in February. Well it's a short month isn't it?

I also have to wash my hair because I'm leaving home an hour after returning from work tomorrow. The dishes from supper are still in the sink and that's another resolution - they will not be left until tomorrow morning. And of course, I have to be in bed by 11 because sleep is essential for achieving everything else.

I don't know how this happened that I didn't get to do any cleaning tonight - although I will fold and put away the laundry on the spare bed and tidy up a bit. One good thing is that I'll definitely do that early morning thing tomorrow as I absolutely must do some cleaning before school. I can't call it a Miracle Morning as I won't be doing any meditating, visualizing or reading self-development material but it will be a miracle if I do it,

This week's Breakthrough session was about not being a child and expecting everything to fall in your lap without any effort on your part. It was a, "Just Do It!" message. Nothing new, but reinforcing the fact that we're more than half-way through the course and I'm still planning and writing but not doing very much yet. March 1st was a great opportunity to turn over a new leaf.

So I didn't clean my apartment but I taught all morning in school, I did some admin, I cooked us a healthy supper which we ate without resorting to snacks either before or after, DD's homework got done, she's hair-washed and ready for bed - I know it's 9 pm but that's par for us. (I'm trying to make her bedtime earlier but it rarely happens). We're going to read one chapter of Heidi now. Then I'm going to wash my hair, do the dishes and tidy up some. I'm satisfied with today.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Tale Of Two Parties - R2BC

R2BC got all out of sync last week so this one is late. I'm joining the linky with Becky at Lakes Single Mum as it's her last week of hosting for another month.

Pyjama Party
Last night both DD and I had parties to go to. DD had a class pyjama party at school from 5.30 till 7.30. The class all came in pjs, slippers and dressing gowns. They brought sleeping bags, pillows, bean-bags and cuddly toys for snuggling up. Each student brought an item of food from the list that was sent round. They watched a film and played games. DD went to bed talking about it and woke up still talking about it this morning.

The group experience is very important in Israel. We were a strongly socialist country for many years with many trials - wars, mass immigration and absorbtion, austerity, and a totally new country to build. Social ties were essential for mutual responsibility. It could only work if everyone was working for the good of the whole, like one big family, and not only for themselves.

Thankfully, socialism brought us through those years and sadly, much of that social responsibility has gone (like everywhere else). But the team-building spirit lives on in the schools, clubs, and of course in the army where it's vital. It's great that DD's class are all friends and have so many fun extra-curricular activities together. I used to think it ridiculous and unnecessary that school policy is to invite all the children in the class to birthday parties (or all the boys or all the girls) but now I totally get it and I love it.

Grown-Up Party
I brought DD home from her Pyjama Party and she took the laptop upstairs to our neighbour, a lovely student whose nightlife starts late enough for her to babysit for DD and go out with her friends after I get home, LOL.

I went to a very special 50th birthday party. It was special because it was exquisitely executed of course - my friend is a great hostess and entertains on a grand scale. But it was even more special because we go back a long way.

Expats are often missing that nostagic element of childhood friends to connect you to your roots. The birthday girl and I lived across the road from one another when we were growing up. She is four years younger than me of course so we weren't exactly friends then, it was more of a family connection. And there was another neighbour at the party from way back when, and four others from our neighbourhood who all belonged to the same synagogue and went to the local schools (my Mum was her maths teacher in primary school). We took some Stanmore, Mddx photos together. When you're an expat these things are important.

Tomorrow is March and the sun is shining. I'm sure I'll find more reasons 2B cheerful by Friday so we'll be back on schedule.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Reading Around The Subject - #Breakthrough 3

When my parents downsized from the family house into a flat they found all our old school reports carefully filed in chronological order. We were each presented with a file on our next visit. I read mine once through and promptly destroyed the evidence.

One thing I remember from my sixth-form reports, the ones from when I was supposed to be studying for A' levels, is the comment - Rachel does not read round the subject, or, Rachel needs to read around the subject. The truth was that I was having trouble keeping up with the prescribed homework let alone giving myself more. Obviously I wasn't passionate about my subjects and of course there was no You Tube. (You Tube is the new reading doncha know.) This time I can tick both those boxes for my Breakthrough makeover.

Breakthrough Session 3 was about Making It Happen - getting off your backside and actually doing whatever it takes to get you to whoever it is you want to be. (Notice I said 'whoever' and not 'wherever' - see last week.) So first I did some procrastinating 'reading' around the subject.

I looked on You Tube for 'attracting the life you want' and similar phrases. There was a lot of Oprah on this subject. I'd read The Secret years ago but it scared the life out of me. I missed the bit about 'doing' and thought it was only about 'visualizing'. I got scared that if a tragic or negative picture popped into my mind then the Universe might make it happen. I totally missed the point. As the guy on Oprah said, "you can sit and visualize until they come and take your furniture away and repossess your house. Then you'll be visualizing on the curb." Makes sense.

I watched The Secret Full Movie.

The most interesting thing I found is that there are believers in this philosophy from every religion, whether you call it The Secret, Breakthrough, Miracle Morning, or whatever. I've heard that Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed all knew the secret. Well they must have known something to inspire millions of believers centuries later. There are equal numbers of secular followers turning to The Universe (forces of nature, etc.) as there are those who thank God for giving them everything. This is for everyone, it's not just for Jews or Christians.

I considered what it would take to be all the things I want. There is no getting away from the fact that you need to start early in the day. I joined Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning group on facebook. To be fair, I was sick last week so I've not got round to actually getting up early and doing some of it yet. And I will be aiming for a 6 a.m. start not a 5 a.m. start because you have to be realistic.

I prepared myself by buying beautiful new notebooks to use for the affirmations and planning my life. I changed my affirmations from last week as they were too wishy-washy. I wasn't ready to commit yet but I am now.

This morning I set the alarm for 6 a.m. but I couldn't make it out of bed until 7. I just couldn't. The Universe heard me and came to my rescue. The meeting at college that I thought was at 11 a.m is actually at 12. So I still have the five hours I'd planned for the morning. Thanks Universe, I owe you.

I get it now and I'm onto it. Sometime today I'll receive Session 4. Watch this space.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

More Money Than We Could Spend - R2BC

DD and her friend man the toy stall
Last week they had a fair at DD's school. I mentioned it last week before the actual event so I want to return to it today. It was a fascinating experiment in human behaviour as well as being lots of fun.

Anyone who wanted to set up a stall could do so. Usually the stalls were run by teams of two or three friends. If you had a stall you started with a float of 200 Gs (for change) and got to spend all the money you made. Prices were capped at 200 Gs (school money) for even the biggest item.

Everyone else gave 10 shekels (about 2 pounds) in exchange for 1000 Gs. So a G is actually only 1 agorah - 1/100 of a shekel or about 0.05p. In this way the children could price their wares with realistic numbers without any money lying around and at no great expense to anyone. Having said that, there were some elaborate cupcake stalls for which some dedicated parents had obviously paid for the ingredients.

All around the basketball court and more inside the gym at the back.
Among the sweets and cakes there was a hot-dog stall, a felafel stall (in pita bread with salad, and pickles as it's served here), homemade lemonade, jellies, and fruit salad. Many stalls carried crafted items like key-ring pom-poms, bookmarks, masks, and fridge magnets. There were a couple of book stalls, face painting, and manicures, I'd say there were about 50 stalls in all.

DD and her friend had a stall of all the old games, toys, and books that they'd grown out of. We had 35 books in Hebrew that we never read. We got them free over DD's two years in kindergarten as part of a programme to give each child a personal library. Funded by some charity, she came home with new picture book every month.

It was hilarious to see all the different personalities. You could tell which children would be shopaholics and were just amassing as much 'stuff' as possible. I'd told DD beforehand that the idea is not to get rid of a load of stuff we don't need and come back with a whole other load of stuff to take its place. She was very good. She'd take from their earnings and go looking around. She bought a few sweets, a drink, and a jelly cocktail. In the end we only came home with two pom-poms and a small sheep with ice-lolly stick legs.

Jelly Cocktails
DD's business partner was taking it all very seriously, considering her prices carefully and keeping track of the money. DD was just having fun. When she came back from one of her shopping excursions she said to me, "I'm not bothering to get change. What do I need it for? We've got so much money we can't even spend it all." (From your lips to God's ears my darling.) And indeed, they were doing a roaring trade.

I manned the book section. I mainly sold to some mothers who were there and other teachers. Many of them had the exact same collection of books at home but others were delighted to purchase amost new books for 20 Gs a book (1p). I mostly persuaded them to take 5 for 100 Gs.

There was so much money it was blowing in the wind. Children were giving each other spare money when their friends ran out. The giving of change was a loose approximation depending on what notes were available. No one really cared - it would all be worthless in a couple of hours.

As the fair drew to a close the shopaholics desperately tried to use up all their money before it turned into a figurative pumpkin. We were cleared out apart from one book which I donated to the class library. And when we got home DD announced, "we reached our goal. We sold all our things and didn't have to bring any of it back home."

I'm joining the R2BC linky over at Becky's on Lakes Single Mum .

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

You Get What You Are - #Breakthrough 2

After the the first Breakthrough class with Devorah Sisso I kept up the commitment not to be angry, not to complain, and not to indulge in self-pity. It was fun and certainly a lot more pleasant than getting angry and complaining about things.

Lesson Two arrived on Sunday and I was excited. I loved this one. The first session was lots of theory which was fascinating, but this one was where the work started. I listened to the podcast, rapt. At one point Devorah said, "this is going to blow your mind!" And it did. It blew my mind. There was so much information that I couldn't possible take it all in and remember it all, even though I'd jotted down some notes.

On Monday I remembered that the lesson had blown my mind but I couldn't remember why. I listened to the whole thing again and took more notes. This time I got it.

The main message is that you don't get what you want, you get what you are. So it's not enough to tell the Universe (or God) that you want this, this and this. You have to be this, this, and this and you will attract more of the same like a magnet.

This is how I understood it (with my own examples).

For some obvious examples - if you want a loving family who enjoy spending time together then you must be a loving mother who enjoys spending time with her family (and actually spends the time). If you want to be a slim, healthy, beautiful woman you have to be the woman who eats healthy food in moderation and exercises. You didn't need a life coach to tell you these but if you're not practicing either of these examples then you don't really believe it or you're not really doing it. And you have to believe it and do it to be it.

Let's take it up a notch. You want a lot of money? You have to be rich. We're all rich in the hierarchy of wealth in the world but sometimes we don't feel rich. If you stop comparing yourself to others and start being grateful for how rich you are, you will attract more riches. I've not tried this one yet but it's part of this week's homework.

The bottom line is that you have to become what you want. There was a fascinating lesson in quantum physics to explain why this works scientifically - all about the core of every atom in every cell being pure energy. The message is that you can change your very being by changing your energy.

It all starts with affirmations (yes these are mine).
- I am a slim, healthy, and radiantly beautiful woman who eats healthy food in moderation and exercises regularly.
- I am rich, Money comes easily to me and I will always have enough.
- I am an excellent writer and could definitely write a great novel.
- I am self disciplined and accomplish everything efficiently by blocking time, using the early mornings, and a 20 minute nighttime routine to pick up from the day before.

Of course you actually have to do all the things you affirm to. It's not just about 'ask and you will receive' (I knew it was too good to be true).

There's nothing new here in the things you have to do. The new, for me, was the explanation and the linking it all to Jewish and biblical sources. Devorah herself says she didn't make any of it up - it's all there in history, the Bible and other spiritual guides. Many great people have discovered the secrets of success and there are libraries of self-development material readily available. But if you're not doing it, or doing it only half heartedly, maybe you need it explained in a way that can break through to your brain and get you with the programme.

This course is not a cure all for every problem. Devorah explicitly says that her relationship advice is for normal relationships that can improve. If you are in an abusive relationship, don't try to change it - just run. Similarly, it's not going to take away all your life burdens instantly, but it might turn them into opportunities rather than burdens. And what you think you want isn't always what you need. If you have everything and you're still not happy, you won't be happy anywhere unless you change yourself from the inside. Finally, it's a valid affirmation to say, "Everything that is happening now is happening for my ultimate good. Though these times are difficult, they are only a short phase of life."

Monday, February 13, 2017

It Was Hard To Move On - #Harry Potter

After spending seven whole months reading Harry Potter almost every night, DD found it hard to leave Harry, Hermione, Ron and the crew behind. She once even suggested that we start again from the beginning. I told her that I read it to her the first time, next time she's on her own.

I know she'll read it all again herself when her reading skills improve and I'm happy that she will. Talking to a friend who is also reading the series to her son, we both said that we read the books so fast the first time round - through one weekend and through the nights because we couldn't put them down - that we missed or forgot much of the detail. This time round I found depths and subtle (and not so subtle) allusions that I'd not thought about the first time.

Meanwhile I was trying to get DD to agree to starting a new book. All she wanted to talk about was how we don't know who Luna married and do I think it's Neville or Dean? What she doesn't know is that I'm going to buy Pottermore and The Cursed Child (when it comes out as a novel rather than a play script). - UPDATE: I've read the reviews of The Cursed Child and I'm not going to bother.

I offered many options but over a week passed with no story. I was sad. I have so many of my old favourites waiting for me to read to her. Books I saved 40 or more years ago to one day read to my hypothetical daughter. Others I lost but have bought replacements over the years because I love them like childhood friends.

Look at the photo - how many do you recognise? There are others of course, which I fully intend to get. The Children of Green Knowe, When Marnie was There, Carrie's War, Marianne Dreams, to name but a few.

Eventually DD agreed to let me try reading Heidi to her. After a long trek up the mountain from Mayenfeld to the Alp Uncle's cabin via Dorfli and Peter's house, DD said, "I bet they like each other." She's astute. As I read the second chapter she squirmed around in bed exclaiming, "I love hearing this story. She's so cute. Aaaah he loves her!"

I think we've found another winner and we have moved on.

Friday, February 10, 2017

All Shuk Up - Reasons 2B Cheerful

35 books in Hebrew that we don't read - out!
The festive season has begun - the one that starts now and ends after the Jewish Holy-days some time in October. Tomorrow is Tu B'Shvat, otherwise known as the New Year for Trees.

Tree planting
Yesterday at work half the school was out planting trees with their Youth Movements. Notice I said Youth Movements with capitals, and not youth clubs? It's a strong tradition that most kids belong to something like Scouts, with differing ideologies, and the Movements have political clout all the way to the top. It's part of the the social system that the State is very involved in bringing up your children.

Obviously the kids in school were not in the mood to work. There was a lot cake making and chocolate creations. Rehearsals for a big event tomorrow night meant a fair bit of music, singing, and dancing. It was more like a party than a school.

We ended up watching Les Choristes (The Chorus) with Grade 6. Only it was in French with Hebrew subtitles. I sort of kept up but I need to find it on You Tube with English.

15 toys, puzzles and games that we've grown out of - out!
School Fair
DD's school is having a school shuk (market) today. You don't have to make a stall but loads of cupcakes, cookies, candies were being brought in so I reckon there will be a lot of food stalls. DD and her friend are doing a stall of toys, books, and games. I'm thrilled that we got to donate loads of items that we have grown out of out.

It's very sweet the way they're doing it. Everyone gives in 10 shekels (about 2 pounds) and in return they get 1,000 Gs (school money). This means that there is no real money lying around and the numbers are more realistic. You can charge 10 Gs for a cupcake which feels better than its actual price of 1 agorah (0.2p). All the fun of the fair without large sums of money involved.

I'm going back at 10 o'clock to help. I can feel my organizing hormones getting all excited already.

I'm keeping up with my Breakthrough homework by not complaining or getting angry about anything. It really does make you more content and the days are just more pleasant.

I listened to my podcast of Session 1 again to make sure I'd internalized all the points. I also found Devorah Sisso Stieglitz on You Tube and listened to some of her other lectures. Devorah is an Orthodox (you could say ultra-Orthodox but these things are subjective) Jewish woman who primarily caters to other Orthodox Jewish women.

The lectures are peppered with Hebrew terms and her teachings are linked to the Torah (Old Testament) and Jewish sources. And whereas you can interpret God in whichever way is meaningful for you - a higher power, the energy of the universe, the forces of nature, etc... - Devorah talks about Him with a capital H.

It's not going to appeal to everyone. However, the underlying principles of feeding your soul with healthy attitudes and actions are universal and I believe they do apply to everyone of any faith, race or creed. (What is creed anyway?)

I'm looking forward to the next session on Sunday although I realize from Devorah's other lectures, that it's not just going to be about opening up to let the Universe shower you with gifts. There's going to be a lot of work involved that will involve leaving one's comfort zone. I have trouble leaving my bed in the morning, let alone my comfort zone. But I've committed to the course so I'll be doing it.

So there are my R2BC for this week. I'm linking up to Becky at Lakes Single Mum who's hosting us this month.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Beginning With #Breakthrough

As you will know from my previous post, I've been watching all sorts of inspirational videos on You Tube to try to get to a more comfortable place in my life. If you were following me a few years ago you'll know that things were financially quite scary in a way I never imagined possible until I had to deal with the time and energy constraints of being a single mother. Since then I've secured better employment and we can manage as in, we can get by. However, it's not always easy, I'm not totally happy in one place of work (should I expect to be?), there is no money for extras (like holidays, extra-curricular activities for DD, or babysitters), and there are things I'd rather be doing for a living.

One of the perks of writing a blog is that every so often you get offered something in return for writing about it. (I've got a couple of cookery books this way but I'm still waiting for my free Filofax and a holiday in Eilat.) Last week I was asked if I'd like to do Breakthrough with Devorah Sisso Steiglitz. I said I'd like. I don't know how much Breakthrough costs but I do know that some of the courses offered by other gurus (for want of a better word of less than 20 characters) ask many hundreds of dollars for their courses. There must be something more that they don't tell us on You Tube. I wanted to know what it is.

I have a good idea of what's involved to get everything you want from the universe - happiness, fulfillment, a free Filofax, etc... I even started to put some of it into practice over the weekend before Breakthrough began. I stopped complaining about the physical conditions of my school and instead focused on how lucky I was to be head-hunted for a job which allows me to finish the month in the black (well sometimes in the grey but only for a short while). I thought about how friendly the staff and students are rather than how cold the building is and the fact that I teach in a dungeon-cum-room of requirement for things that need to be hidden.

On Saturday night I received my introductory letter from Devorah. And on Sunday morning I got the first session. I was psyched and ready to open my mind, let go my fears and let the universe in. However, I had to go into college first and meet with students.

Here's what happened on Sunday morning at college. The book-keeper called me into her office to tell me they'd awarded me an extra hour/week of payment back-dated to last September. I'm not exactly sure what happened there but I think it's something to do with the fact that one of my courses is online so, because there are  no physical constraints on classroom size, I have bigger classes than anyone else. And they are spreading the payments for my summer courses over the year instead of me being broke in July and having to wait until the end of September to get a lump sum.

I was amazed. Could things be happening just because I'd started looking on the bright side? Before I'd even started listening to the course and doing the assignments?

I listened to Devorah's lecture on Sunday afternoon and did the assignment. The first page was the usual things you'd expect from any self-development course. You have to write down how you feel about various aspects of your life, presumably to acknowledge where you stand and to be able to see how much you change over the course of the sessions.

Part B was to commit to refraining from three poisons that you feed your soul. She gave as examples: stop complaining, stop feeling self-pity, and stop being angry. I couldn't think of any others so I committed to the examples, even though I'm not a big self-pityer.

On Monday morning the sun was shining, it was warm outside with a bright blue sky. (Yes I know everyone got that not just me.) I appreciated the beautiful scenery of the Jerusalem hills from the bus window. (Is this what they call mindfulness? It's a 40 minute bus ride.) At school I gladly gave up my free period to work with pupils who weren't involved in some rehearsal for something. I did shout a few times during other lessons but I didn't get angry. There's a subtle difference and I felt it. I smiled and was calm throughout the day. I didn't wear my coat even though it was a bit chilly - it wasn't freezing as last week was. I resisted all temptation to eat the bread that's always in the staff room. The day went like a breeze and I came home happy. (Btw, that doesn't mean I'm accepting the conditions for next year, just that I'll not suffer for the remainder of the winter this year.)

I think I might be turning into Pollyanna.