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.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

What Time Do Life Coaches Go To Bed?

This is what 5 a.m. looks like in the real world.
This is a serious question because I don't get it. The numbers just don't add up. I've been watching a lot of inspirational videos on You Tube recently, I'm trying to find inspiration to do something. Anything really - doesn't matter what. I'm in a rut, it's not a secret.

Partly it's the physical conditions of one of my work places. It's a school built like a kibbutz (because it is a kibbutz). This means buildings with the rooms opening to the outside, i.e. not onto an internal corridor. So whenever you go anywhere you have to go outside to get there.

Also English is taught in smaller groups (a good thing) and the school population has grown so much over the past few years (it's a popular school) that I don't have a proper classroom to teach in. I'm either in a freezing basement bomb-shelter (the windows have holes in them for ventilation and the heater is on a weird timer) or sitting in the drafty entrance hall by the continuously used front door.

This is lovely for 6 months of the year (actually 4 because two of those months are the summer holiday) and bearable for another 2 months. However, for 4 months of the year I am freezing and spend the whole day in my coat. It's totally miserable and uncomfortable. So I actually hate three days a week from December until April.

Of course, this spills over into everything else because if you're not happy at work you're not happy. Even if you love the other two days at your other place of work - which I do.

So, back to the subject in hand - inspirational videos. Do you know what the secret  to an amazing life is? Apparently it's getting up early and doing a list of morning rituals. These include some or all of the following: meditation, mindfulness, or prayer, exercise, gratitude exercises, affirmations, journal writing, juicing, and reading at least 10 pages of something educational or motivational. It's about an hour's worth of rituals. I pity the slow readers.

Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, fabulous speaker with an amazing life-story (so far), with many You Tube videos and interviews, says that getting up at 5 a.m. is so brilliant and life-enhancing that for the past seven years he's been getting up at 4 a.m. to do his rituals. What I want to know is - what time does he go to bed at night? He has a wife and young children and presumably a social life so how can he realistically expect to be in bed by 9 p.m. in order to get the recommended seven hours sleep? [Update: I did some googling and I just now saw that Hal Elrod is battling cancer. I wish him a full and speedy recovery. In a recent podcast he says that he's bumped up his sleep from six hours to seven hours/night. I acknowledge that he might not be getting up at 4 a.m. at the moment.]

Another guy gave the game away (I couldn't find his name). He went into great detail about how he starts each day and how it sets him up for enjoying every minute of his life. He said, "I don't even need an alarm clock anymore. I naturally wake up around 8 a.m. every morning." That means he doesn't need to start work until 9.30 a.m if he works from home, which he does because he's a lifestyle guru. Translate that for people who commute to work and this wonderful message is actually only for those who can start work at 10 a.m. or later. I have to leave for the bus stop at 7.30 a.m.

Yes I could go to bed at 9 p.m and get up at 5 a.m. (I need 8 hours sleep). Of course I could. If I did that my morning routine would necessarily look like this: toilet, shower, teeth, and dress (15 minutes - 20 if I bother with what my face looks like), wash dirty dishes in the sink from last night (10 minutes), make packed lunch for DD (7 minutes - 10 if it involves hunting for her lunch-box from the previous day and washing it), put on a load of laundry (3 minutes), make coffee (3 minutes), check phone and email for any surprises (up to 10 minutes if anything needs answering or leads to a discussion), do the hour of work, grading and lesson planning that I didn't get done the night before before because I had to be in bed by 9 p.m. (1 hour), wake DD and chivy her along to full school-readiness (10 minutes - not concurrent), hang out the wet washing (12 minutes), pack my bag (3 minutes), and go down three flights of stairs and then up again because we've forgotten something (5 minutes).

I can do my inspirational and motivational reading on the 40 minute bus ride to school. And I can do more inspirational and motivational reading on the way home. This is good because I will need all the inspiration and motivation I can muster after the morning I've had.


Thursday, February 2, 2017


Here are my reasons 2B cheerful this week. For more R2BC pop over to Becky's at Lakes Single Mum.

Mint grown from a cutting, on my balcony. About 4 cups of tea's worth I reckon
We finished Harry Potter. All seven books in seven months.

At the final fight Bellatrix almost kills Ginny Weasley. Her mother, consumed with maternal fury, jumps up shouting - and I read out loud to DD - NOT MY DAUGHTER YOU! (I missed out the last word).
DD: You Binch.
I looked at her.
DD: I saw it on a You Tube clip. She shouts, "NOT MY DAUGHTER YOU BINCH!" Mummy, what's a binch?

We finished Harry Potter and I, at least, went out laughing.

We have house guests for the night. DD and I babysat for a friend's 6yo and then she came home to sleep over too, rather than wake her son to take him home in the middle of the night. I feel like a student again with a flatmate. No entertaining involved. We're each doing our own thing together separately, iykwim.

My sister and b-i-l are here to visit my nephew who is studying in Jerusalem this year. We will be hooking up with them at some time over the weekend - to be finalized.

There are 13 weeks of school straight, from after the Hanukkah holiday until the Passover holiday, with only two days off in between. That is correct - no half term. We've done 5 of them so only 8 weeks to go.

Its February! This is the beginning of the end of the winter. It's still cold but March is definitely spring-ish so only one more month tops of this uncomfortable chill. I can't complain as it's been a very mild winter so far.

Happy February!