Happy Birthday Yotam: Learning Disabilities as Growth


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Saturday marked the twenty-third birthday of our oldest son, Yotam. Yotam is our eldest son, and like all firstborn, he had a big role in establishing our family. Yotam deserves tons of birthday wishes. He grew up to be a lovely young man, with a lot of love in his heart, and with wisdom and diligence that each of us can learn from.

Yotam was a happy, bouncy child – a delightful kid – full of sweetness. When he reached first grade, we had hard time understanding why homework was an endless nightmare. At school, Yotam had great difficulty just sitting in one place for a long time. The first and second grade teacher in Israel did not really understand what the problem was and moved him to a back row, so his jumping wouldn’t interrupt and disturb her. The same happened with the third grade teacher in the United States.  At last, when we reached fourth grade, his experienced and wonderful teachers spoke to us and suggested testing for learning disabilities.

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The diagnosis revealed that Yotam suffers from ADHD, dyslexia and dysgraphia. I will never forget the day we got the results back. Of course, our hearts went out to our son to for the difficulties he was going through.  More than that, I personally was a mess, feeling disappointment in myself as a mother, and a huge failure. “How did I not realize something is unusual?” “How did I fail to see there is a problem?” “I gave him the learning disabilities!”  I realized only then that I, too, have learning disabilities – disabilities are usually genetic. I had terrible guilt. But it was a huge turning point. From that day on, we looked for tools to help our sweet, charming and unique son. Here are the things we taught Yotam, and those things that I think all parents of children with learning disabilities (and maybe all parents in general) should teach their children:

  1. You are unique and special. We love you as you are, no matter what.
  2. You are smart and creative. Children with learning disabilities will always find creative ways to deal with every problem.
  3. Grades are not valuable and are not indicative of how good you are, not how talented, not how intelligent, and so on…
  4. If you have done the most you could, it does not matter what the results are.
  5. In Hebrew we taught “What does not enter through your head, goes through your bottom.” This means, if you cannot understand or remember something, try harder, keep trying, or try something different – until you get it. We taught this to all our sons, whether they had learning disabilities or not. You do not give up, just try harder.
  6. Failure is a tremendous gift – by failing we learn the most about ourselves and our abilities. Failure always takes us to places of growth. It hurts to fail, but is never the end of the world. The most important thing is to learn from our failures and take our failure as a growth process.
  7. Successes are to be to celebrated. Enjoy and be proud of them – any success is not obvious. These were the main ideas that we tried to teach Yotam and his brothers. Three out of four of our boys have learning disabilities.  So what?

What does it mean to actually have learning disabilities?

Having learning disabilities means we learn in different ways, sometimes unconventional. In addition, each of us has his own talents. The trick is to channel the talents and empower them. The most important value we teach our kids, is that they always have a choice. They can choose what they will do in life. Not everyone has the luck to be born to a supportive, understanding family. Having challenges in life is to be expected. They must always strive to do the most they can in the existing conditions. This is the fifth year of Yotam at the University. He is about to complete a double major degree in Accounting and Psychology, and has already a signed a contract for to work at a Fortune 500 company.

If Amnon (my best friend and life partner) and I had known the future, that this child who had so many difficulties in elementary school, middle and high school, will do great in life, we would had been much more relaxed. Believe in your children; believe in yourself; the rest will come.220-2030_IMG

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Life – What We Were Never Told


Life is quite funny, if you know to look from the side and laugh. Life is also quite serious, and sometimes painful. Life is something extremely complex. Exactly four years ago I went through surgery to remove my thyroid due to Cancer. Ever since my illness, my life has changed forever. It is a bit difficult to explain how our physiology affects our psychology, but it does. Our bodies are very influential – this is what I believe. Life brings us to places and conclusions, sometimes, that we could not even imagine if we looked from the heights of our twenties.
This year I celebrated fifty. I do not take for granted my life. I appreciate every moment and every day, appreciate my beloved family and friends who support me when I am in need and celebrate with me in happy times. I think that in recent years I am much more complete with who I am, happy with the changes I made in my life in recent years.

What happened and why? What causes trauma to change our perception of the world and to change who we are? It seems to me that one of the reasons for this is the realization that we are only living on earth on borrowed time, and should never take our lives for granted, but keep the good, and if needed let the bad go. Move forward. (Some say that we should do this, since we are not trees – not glued to the ground.) Move. If necessary, make changes.
The present is the right time to transform what needs to be changed. After all who knows what life will bring tomorrow?
The changes I made in my life were not easy at all; they took a great toll of pain and tears. First we went back to live in the United States (after the disappointment and pain experienced in the Israel, my homeland). It does not mean I will ever could stop missing Israel; it’s not that I’m not divided between both lands. I learned to live with the constant yearning in my stomach, and I have realized, I still am divided and probably always will be, but I needed to teach myself how to live with in completion. After all, the lawn of neighbor was no greener than ours, and living in Israel did not let me feel like I belonged, or that it was the right place for our family. We did not fit in. I decided it is ok to live with this dividedness, and it is fine to live where my family finds happiness.
I learned that having a peaceful and calm life is a gift some people cannot afford; I am thankful for my peaceful life; I just cannot live in a roller-coaster, crazy life any more.
Another change was a separation from some people – some of them very close to me. I said goodbye to some of them emotionally, and some of them are not a part of my life anymore. I just do not let people hurt me anymore.
The change that occurred within me was not easy, but necessary for me to live a sane life. I make sure to have supportive, loving, positive people around me. I am surrounded by people I love; that makes me feel good about myself.
Another change is not only giving to immediate family and friends. I also believe in giving to the wider community in which I live by volunteering and taking a leadership role. The children do not need me at any hour of the day, and I can give my time to our wider community, also helping support Israel. In general I am a big believer in “good brings good and giving for giving”. I’m surrounded by people with similar beliefs, to my great joy.
There are a lot of things that we were never told about life, and that’s fine. No one has the axioms of what is right and what is wrong. We are all searching for the right path in life that is just right for us. The road is important: to experience the beauty of what we have, put aside what is not beautiful and good, and move on.
Let goodness accompany you in every way you go.

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Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder: An Unforgettable Experience at the Edge of the World


IMG_5330Each one of us has dreams. It is important to have dreams; it is important to have things to look forward to. I had a dream that I thought would never come true. I’m talking about New Zealand, a country that really is at the edge of the world.
Every year we talked about the possibility of a trip there, my partner in life, the man that I love, and I. It has been many years that we’ve been talking about the dream, and both of us agree “next year will be quite right to go there”, but in our life, as in life, we get carried away with the reality of everyday life, obligations and the day-to-day desires of our children.IMG_5022
Last June when we talked again about New Zealand, Amnon said, “This time we travel,” and I looked at him and thought to myself, “yeah, right”. Doubts always rise when it comes to fulfilling the dreams I have; I always hesitate, don’t know why. Amnon said, “This time I’m serious, I am booking the flights”. I kind of got scared, to be honest. “What shall we do with the kids if they do not want to join?” I said. “We’ll sell them,” he replied, as he always answers questions like this. We called our kids who are University students, and asked if they want to take a trip to New Zealand with us. The answer surprised us: “Of course,” was the answer of both. It was a very unusual answer for our kids, who always prefer to come home, eat home cooking, go to our sports club and meet their friends. Our two younger kids also expressed interest, and Amnon booked the air tickets for all of us, six months in advance “so that there will be no excuses to cancel”, he said.

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We counted the months and days, every detail meticulously planned, and we made sure there would be a combination of hiking and other sports activities, to make it more interesting: four boys to entertain, you know. We could not believe when our flight landed in New Zealand. My eyes filled with tears of joy, and happiness. Surrounded by my loved ones, I set a foot down in New Zealand. Not every day dreams come true so powerfully complete, when I am surrounded by the most important people in my world.
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I never even thought much I would fall in love with this country. Humans did not yet destroy this piece of God. We visited primarily on the southern island, where the number of sheep is at least ten times the number of people. This island ranges in terms of the landscape: it has amazing beaches, including sea lions sprawled on the huge rocks; it has lakes, huge ones; it has forests that look like a painting (one of them, which we visited, is where they filmed “The Lord of the Rings”). The island is almost all open space with little towns, ranches, and only two small cities. In one of them, Christchurch, a terrible earthquake tragedy happened four years ago; until today, the city never recovered. The other, Queenstown, is a small city at the foot of Lake Infinite where there is a charming mix of landscape and urban life. Everywhere in the South Island there are options for varied and interesting sports activities, including extreme activity. Our oldest son jumped at the very first bungee spot, our two middle boys did glider flying, and we biked, hiked, sailed and fished. Together we watched the stars and the rare birds, and most importantly, coalesced as a family.IMG_5196
As our two older boys have been living away from home, it was a great opportunity to see up close what lovely people we raised; and the two young men had a great time with everyone too. Family cohesion was pleasant to see, the love that flowed from everyone (even though there was teasing and nagging, too – after all, boys are boys ). Couplehood relationship had also its moving moments.IMG_4961
The tour winded down with two days in Auckland, on the northern island: two days of rest and wandering in the big city, which has a million and a half people living there, but it’s hardly noticeable because the majority is constructed on homey small scale rather than up into huge skyscrapers.
Dreams have to be fulfilled, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This beauty, physical and emotional, of this amazing experience with my family I will carry in my heart forever.

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The Iraqi-Israeli situation and the peace issue – One person`s oppinion


DAUGHTERS OF IRAQ by Revital Shiri-Horowitz

DAUGHTERS OF IRAQ by Revital Shiri-Horowitz

Since posting about the special video meeting between the students of the American University in Iraq and me, I got many supportive emails form the western world. I got supportive emails, but also found out that not only people from America, Europe and Israel read my post, many people from Arab countries read it too. I felt like a wall came down, even just for a bit, as I could communicate regarding my book, Israel, Jews and Arabs, and the situation of the citizens of Iraq.

After the post was posted I noticed that many Arabs read it. I wondered how they reached it. After a few days Dima contacted me and said that her dad reposted it, thinking many people will criticize Dima for even speaking to me.  “But the really nice thing was”, she said, “that people really supported the dialogue, and thought the Jews are dearly missed in Iraq”. I was very surprised to hear all this, and actually realized that Iraqis, they don`t have a problem with the Jews, the problem they have is with the existence of Israel.

Dima told me that for Arabs, just the existence of Israel is like “a Holocaust” to the Arabs. I did not speak to her more about it. It is a dangerous place from my point of you to cross. What would I say? That just the comparison gives me the chills? Don`t they know that Jews were taken to the gas chambers just because they were Jews? That the Arabs who lived here were never executed? That they had a choice to leave and had a place to go? A situation that the Jews did not have the benefit of having?

I think that there is so much information and brain wash that still takes place in the Arab world, and I really wish that these days, where internet gives so much information, and people can judge for themselves, maybe they can see the truth.

Everyday life in Iraq is unbearable, suicide bombers, shooting in the streets, Isis, all this brought life to be unbearable, and as Israelis, we can sympathy with that. We were the first country to suffer from suicide bombers. I remember that when our oldest was two years old and I would drive with him, I always tried not stop next to busses, because of suicide bombers, who used to bomb busses. Israel is also living every day with lots of threats surrounding it, and as I said before, if only they could see what Israel is going through, and see that Israelis are just people like them, raising families, hardworking people, who at the end of the day are looking for quite, safe, and peaceful lives, maybe then we could cross religions, cross every other boundaries and just live side by side in peace.

 

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A surprising interview of me, a Jewish-Israeli-American- Iraqi Author by students at The American University in Iraq


A young student from the American university in Iraq contacted me a few months ago. She wrote me that she was very emotional after reading the book “Daughters of Iraq”. I don’t know what gave her the impulse to try and find me. I imagine this was a very bold on her part. I think she did not expect me to open a window for her into my world, even though she  was opening a window for me into her world.  I get e-mails from readers every once in a while, but this was the first time I have been approached by Muslims from an Arab country. I was very surprised and excited even though I didn’t really trust her in the first few exchanges. We began to exchange messages. She was asking me questions related to writing the book and I was gladly answering. At one point I asked her questions about her life. I discovered she is originally from Baghdad, the city both my parents immigrated from to Israel. She is studying in the American university in north Iraq, in the Kurd area that is at the north east, in the mountain territory. I couldn’t hold back and I asked her if she was not afraid to be there, with ISIS in the area and the war with the Kurd. She replied that because the city she studies in is in a mountainous area, there aren`t any concerns right now that ISIS will be brave enough to go there and fight in a mountain territory the Kurd know like their own hand.

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After a few conversations the student told me that her name is Dima, and that she is studying English literature and education, and that she is supposed to teach two lessons in her class, and she chose my book, “Daughters of Iraq” as the subject. I was very excited and offered to help in any possible way.

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Dima asked if I was willing to answer students questions if that could be arranged. I replied that I will gladly do this. I didn’t imagine how emotional and surprising this whole experience is going to be, and how much it will impact me. We set a date, which was quite far out, and as the date got closer we agreed that we will arrange a first face to face conversation, just to make sure the technical part works. I saw Dima for the first time and was touched. She was very sweet, shy, a beautiful girl and I think very brave. It is not at all obvious that a young, Muslim girl living in Iraq, should talk face to face with a much older women, Israeli, living in the US. Our first meeting was very exciting. We made sure everything works, checked the time zones and made sure that we both understand the local time during the lesson, because there is a 10 hour time difference (same difference as from Israel).

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Finally, the exciting day arrived.  Truth is I didn’t really know what to expect, but I thought to myself, these are only students asking questions. I simply thought they will ask more about writing and fewer material questions about the world as it looks like from my side. The entire conversation was in English. I was surprised by the quality of the English they were speaking, and I was surprised by their western clothes, boys and girls together. Dima introduced me and I said hello nicely to everyone. We waved to each other and then they each approached the computer in turn to ask questions.

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The very first question I was asked was if I would like to visit Iraq one day. I answered immediately, “Sure, I would love to visit someday”. I did not realize what I brought on myself, because the next question was hard to answer: “Why are you interested in visiting Iraq after all the hard time the Iraqis gave the Jews”. I admit, I was a bit surprised, because I thought this wasn’t the message I sent in my book. I answered that the Jewish history in Iraq is very long. Many generations of Jews lived in Iraq. Actually Iraq was one of the main and biggest centers for Jews for hundreds and hundreds of years. There were good times and bad times, but I was grateful for the fact the Iraq was a home for Jews for so many years. It is true, my grandfather could not wait to immigrate to the newly established country, -Israel. In his times, and since declaration of Israel as a country to be established, the Jews went through really rough times, but my roots are located in Iraq. I am very curious to see the place that my fathers and great fathers lived in. Israelis are not allowed in Iraq, even my own family, but as an American citizen I can visit.

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And then they asked a little bit about the book. Am I Noa? (A question that shows up a lot in other forums as well). I was asked what led me to write the book (also a very logical and human question to ask), and then I was asked a questions that I found very hard to answer. They asked: “What are you? Iraqi? Israeli? American?” I was confused for a minute and then answered that I am Israeli first, because this is my primary identify and I am American second, because I hold an American passport, and my children (some of them) were born  in America. I am also Iraqi and also Jewish. I told them that I feel like a citizen of the world and I hope they are as well, because at the end of the day we are all human. They then asked if I see myself as Palestinian. I think they maybe didn’t really understand who I was. I said I don’t. I am Israeli, and then I talked to them about the problem of the refugees. I said that the Jews that came from Arab countries are all refugees and that the Palestinians are refugees, and if it was possible to exchange populations it might have solved the conflict.

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I’m not sure they understood what I said, but the conversation ended, we took selfies together and I received an email from Dima with deep gratitude. She said all the students were very excited by the event and especially by my candor that they did not expect at all. There were even students that were not registered to the class that asked to join the interview. Dima said that the students felt very comfortable asking questions and I was glad I made it possible for them to feel they can ask whatever they wanted. Later, Dima sent me an article she wrote on the book “Daughters of Iraq” and only from it I learned that she chose to read the book and thought it will be about Jews defaming Iraq. She was so surprised to read a book that does not judge Iraq and doesn’t judge any of the other characters and events that happened but only tells their story. This was a very interesting point for me, because it was the first time I ever thought about my book in the terms she was using.

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I told Dima that I am always open for more questions and I will answer to the best of my ability. I was moved by how much the world has become small, how simple it is to cross borders, physical and emotional, via the internet. I did not ever imagine that an Arab population will read my book and could even identify with my characters.  I feel I have won a great gift.

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Tips for life


I ran into my friend M, this morning, at the “French Bakery”. “I think I need some help”, she told me. “How can I help?” I asked her, when she was putting her younger son in the stroller, getting ready to go grocery shopping. “I think I need some help with organizations. I just cannot even get to write my resume, not to mention other things, and I am forgetful too. How do you do it? How did you do it all these years, with four boys?”

I smiled at her, and hardly kept my eyes dry. The reasons for that are multiple. I will try and explain. You see, I raised four boys (and still have two living at hope, thank God for that). I am also a published Author, but what Martha never knew was that I have learning disabilities. I have ADHD and some kind of Dyslexia. I am very forgetful, and not so organized myself, and every day was and still is a struggle with that. She did not know how many times I skipped meetings, how many times I wrote only a few lines and how many years it took me to write each book, because I am forgetful, unorganized  and tends to day dream instead of doing what I really love doing, which is write. She never knew how many times I forgot to pick up my boys from school or other activities, even last Friday, I forgot to pick up my youngest from Basketball, just because Basketball just started, and was not inside my brain routine yet. My son called to ask if I forgot him, and did not realize how much those words were so painful to me.

I looked and M and said: “you know? I have learning disabilities too…I managed to do it all but look, I am still making mistakes, things don’t always work well, but I have the best suggestion to you, something I use to. I have this real smart phoneJ, and it is very smart. Every night sit down for a few minutes and organize the following day. Put times and assignments, and put the remainder buzz on, so it will remind you what you need to do at a specific time. Without my phone I am totally lost, I am forgetful and I never get to what I really would like to do.”

What I did not tell her, because I was forgetful, was that it is important to keep my space organized. I get lost with a mess, so my house is always tidy and clean, just because of this. So I can function. Us, women, have so many chores, and things we are dealing with every single day, if we are happy and content our families are happy and content, so don’t ever forget to put in your day, every day, something you really love doing, and even for just a short time, just to make sure there is “a you time” in all this endless giving”. It is the same for men who are the main caregiver. Every caregiver should do this, so they feel they are not getting all lost in all this “giving to others circle”. And one very important this too. Every day stop for a minute and think about all these thing you are thankful for, and give a big hug to someone, even yourself.

May peace and happiness will always fulfill your days.

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Fifty years of insights – celebrating fifty


Two weeks before I turn fifty…Wow! Just this number takes away one beat from my heart. Although many people would say that age is just a number, the real age is the one in our hearts, but still, fifty…I feel respect for this number, because it is not that obvious to reach fifty, each day is a gift, each year a great gift, and turning fifty is even greatest.  Fifty is a great time for soul searching, just to stop and think, remember and feel everything you experienced in your life. That was then... Revital Shiri-Horowitz and friends

The first fifty years of my life passed too fast…They were interesting, variable, challenging, funny, happy, sad, annoying, frustrating, just regular life. Life itself is built from lots and lots of small minutes and big ones, from long hours and very short ones, days that passed in a flash, some were slower, whole life (almost..).

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The road I took brought me to be the person I am today. I feel happy and content with who I am today. I learned to accept myself, and even like myself for who I am, the way I am, with the good and bad within me, with the beauty and the ugly, with the laughter and the cry. Life was good to me, thank God; I so much appreciate what I have, what I archived in fifty year, and would never trade my life with anyone else.

How do you summaries fifty years on a piece of paper? Complicated! There are so many ways to do so, and billions of moments to describe. Through my memory I go back to many moments that went by, stopping for a while at the most meaningful ones, where I experienced a full life in minutes, that influenced me forever. Passing through my memory in many meaningful moments, stopping at the happy moments, at challenging ones, at those I learned something about life itself. Stopping at the moments that I felt I missed something, thinking what if I had done something different, stopping at many moments I felt just happy, moments that were hard and sad.

I go through fifty years in a brief, stopping at places I have been, and people who were there with me, people who are still a part of my life, people who are not anymore, people who came back after many years, and people that I lost, some of them forever. All this is still a mystery.

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All those moments, all those people, all those experiences, turned me to the person I am today.

Smells…Pictures… Like little pieces of the past…Smells is one of the strongest things, easy to take me back with just smells: a baby smell, citrus blossom, the smell of the ocean, and many other smells that reminds me of people and places.

Insights…Which insights do I take with me to the next fifty years?

If there is something good in your life, that makes you happy, do your best to protect it.

Life is short, too short, and they are built from little pieces of moments. Just enjoy the moment, enjoy what you have.

Revital Shiri-Horowitz at her booksigning

Go with the flow…Teaching myself to go with the flow. I used to do this more in the past, today much less, sticking too much to the familiar.

Beauty is at the eye of the person, we can choose beauty. We can choose to see the beauty in everything and anything.

To let go…Let go of fears, let go of hardships, to let go of people, to let go of myself. Not to torture myself with things I cannot change.

Breathe. Breathe deeply before saying something. Breathe deeply when you have experiences, breathe deeply when there are hardships, breathe deeply when you love, breathe real deeply when you are angry or mad.

Anger, guilt, negativity, all of the above is worth of letting go. I still have a long ways to go.

A very important insight is the journey itself. Every part of the journey has its own beauty. We are all taking a journey we cannot stop or go back. Time is passing so quickly, so fast, what we have today may not be there tomorrow. Just enjoy the journey.

Giving – Giving in the sake of giving awards the giver much more than the receiver, so just give with open heart and open hands, because it benefits everyone.

Heath – one of the most important insights. Without good health we are not able to fulfill all of the above. So, put energy and effort at maintaining good health, body and soul.

Never be afraid to ask for help – extremely important. Everyone has tough times, where we need a shoulder to lean on, a word of wisdom, support. It is only human, we are all humans. We all need love.

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Wishing for myself to love and be loved, to hug and be hugged, smile and have lots of great laughers, enjoy the journey, have less stress and cherish everything and each and every moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Travel back in time, but with thirty years of experience…


What would you say if you were taken back in time for three days, in a time machine, to one of the very meaningful periods in your life? If they asked me I would say it’s kind of unreal, maybe I would add that this is not even something I would have liked to go through, after all, it has being almost thirty years.

My time travel happened about two weeks ago, while I was visiting Israel. For three days I was with my Army friends in Kibbutz Eilot, the most southern kibbutz in the world.  I was an urban girl who joined a youth movement including kids all over Israel. Our Army service was a special program that combined Kibbutz life and protecting Israel. I joined this program and it influenced me so much and really shaped me as a person.

I was sixteen when we met and twenty one when we went our separate ways. Five years of maturing and a mandatory Army service, so crucial for the existence of the tiny country of Israel.  It was the first time we were away from home, serving our country. In that time I learned about myself so much:  who I was as a person, as a woman, as a part of a bigger community, society. I learned how to be independent, to choose well. Many moments I experienced came back again and again in my dreams throughout the years. I cherished those years and people I shared my life with, in my heart and mind forever.

Thirty years passed since our paths separated. These years passed so quickly, too fast. We all did different things. There were times I kept in touch with some of them, and times I had no connection at all. Keep in mind – the world shrunk and became so small only in the last few years.  We all met in Tel Aviv for one magical night of a reunion three years ago.  It was then I learned that what I thought about life when I was twenty, turned out to be very different. The paths people took were different from what I envisioned when I was twenty. I never imagined I will be living and raising my four sons on the other side of the world. Didn’t know I will only dream in Hebrew, speaking English in real life.

I waited, like a little kid who is waiting a whole year for their birthday party. I was so excited and counted the days. These three days passed way too fast just like a birthday party. In the very first night we just hugged, laughed and remembered. The following day we took a day trip to Timna Mine. It is an ancient copper mine that has existed for the last 3000 years. We enjoyed the beautiful desert, with its limitless colors and character. We climbed, crawled, laughed, and of course remembered. At night we danced. I don’t even remember when I danced so much the last time. At nights I shared a room with one of my girlfriends. We talked and talked every night, soul talking, that reminded me why I loved her. We fell asleep exhausted. Those hours reminded of the many years has passed, because we had so much to talk about – thirty years, summarized in just hours.

In the last morning we went on a guided tour to the fields of the Kibbutz. The tour was full with interesting information, colors and tastes. Again, lots of hugs and smiles, and just a bit of sadness, because we all knew that our paths will separate in just a few hours.

During those three days I was engulfed with love.  A feeling of peace took over, the kind that makes you just be, no words needed. I had the time to think about decisions in life. Lots of what ifs…came to my mind: What if I stayed at the Kibbutz, what if I stayed in Israel and never left, what if I insisted on things I wanted back then. I believe we all had the same thoughts; it was just hanging in the air. But at the end of the day, I did it my way in my own way. I regret nothing: I am happy and appreciative of what I have and what I have become.

The people we were are long gone. But the ties that are in our hearts are there forever. These people helped shaped the person I am today, and I am so grateful to each and every one of them for their gift. On that weekend I was just Revital. Not someone’s nom, or wife, or daughter or anything else. I was simply myself, a twenty year old with thirty years of experience.IMG_2178IMG_2165IMG_2360IMG_2153IMG_2435IMG_2439

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From the depths I called for you – An unconditional love


Idan Reichel preformed yesterday evening in Seattle with his partner for the Tour Vieux Farka, a very talented and well known Guitar player. The concert was based on World music, leaning on Israeli-Jewish music and African music, a fascinating combination that left me amazed and touched to the bottom of my heart. There was something special about those specific musicians that made yesterday night special. Their modesty and clear loving souls made a huge impact on me.

 

Beyond the great music, there were some very touching moments yesterday evening for me. First, the fact that I shared this evening with my friend Vered who sat next to me, made me laugh and just have such a good time. The other thing was that we brought our boys with us to watch the show and they loved it! We even got a CD and waited to speak to the artists and get a signature from them.

The highlight of the evening surprised me very much. Idan sang this beautiful song that I heard so many times before: “Mimaamakim” – “From the depth”, Originally a poem from the Bible, a love song for God, but Idan Reichel changed that song or idea to a love between a man and a woman (in Hebrew language there is masculine and feminine). A man is calling for his love to come up from the depths. It was the very first time I really, and I mean really, understood what this song meant, and suddenly there were things flooding me. Here is my translation to some lines in this fantastic song that made me so touched by an unconditioned love:

 

“Who is calling for you tonight – listen

Who is singing towards your open window, tonight?

Who is putting all his soul – just so you will be happy?

Who will be building your house with his hands?

 

Who will give his own life, to put them under yours?

Who will live as the dust under your feet?

Who will love you the most, among all others who loves you?

Who will save you from any bad wind blowing your way?”

 

This song describes an unconditional, true love and giving everything you have and can to the person you love. Those words gave me the chills. I have no idea why just then. After all, I listened to this song so many times before, and yet at that place, that moment I was able to connect to this song in the deepest way, and I thought about the men in my family. I thought about my grandfather, Jacob, may his memory be blessed, and my father, David, may his memory be blessed, and the man that I share my life with for twenty six years, and I thought how all these men did (my husband still does) everything in their for their families and for the women they loved, even though some of these women turned a cold back to them.

My grandfather loved my grandmother until his very last day, and did everything in his power to make her life happy. They started their life together in Iraq. My grandfather was an accountant, in charge of budgeting building bridges over the rivers of Iraq. They had to move from city to city, but my grandfather, who was an amazing, warm and loving person, did everything in his power to make my grandmother`s life as easy as he could. He would wake up very early in the morning, walk to the local market, in the heat of the desert or frozen cold winters, getting very fresh product for the day. Then he would go to work, and when he got back, and very unlikely to other Iraqi men, my grandfather would help with the kids (seven of them). He would shower them, talk to them and help them out in their homework. When the family immigrated to Israel did not wear his white suit anymore, and my grandmother lost any respect towards him. They lived in tents for a couple of years, and then they moved to a tiny, one bedroom house, all nine people. My grandfather would spend the week in distant small villages, doing some accounting work, and would be home only for Shabbat. My grandmother not only lost respect towards my grandfather, she stopped loving him or caring for him, but he kept loving and doing everything he could for her.

My dad adored my mom. I know this for sure, although he never said it out laud, but his very last words were a promise he made me take to take care of my mom. As usual, he was to care for others, not himself. My dad did everything in his power to be a good husband to my mom. He owned a business and worked hard, but just before he was about to retire he lost everything…My dad never used my mom`s first name “Valentin”.  He called her “your mom”, “your grandma”, and when he needed to say something to her directly he would say “would you like to…or can you come here etc..” I think that my mom`s name was sacred to him.

And the man that I share my life with for twenty six years. He is a hard working guy that was always there besides me in happy times and harsh times. My special person wakes up next to me every morning. I do appreciate so much what I have, and bless God every day.

I feel so thankful for being surrounded by these three men who showed me what an unconditionally love means.  I feel blessed I got to know them and love them, and learn from them. Three generations of these men around me taught me so much.

Wishing all of you peace and love and happiness.

 

 

 

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ADHD and other learning disabilities as life experience


Lately I found myself dealing with lots of information and people inquiring regarding HDHD or ADD, and the impacts it has on people`s life. I even read an article that claims that actually, both, ADD and HDAD do not exist. People actually are suffering from luck of sleep or hunger or other influences of things that makes them think they are lucking with these learning disabilities. Before I even start writing, I just want to make sure you know I am not a professional in this matter. I come from a lifelong experience, where three out of four of my children and I suffer from learning disabilities, and actually even my husband has Dysgraphia.

When I grew up there was nothing like learning disabilities. I was considered as a jumpy kid who cannot sit strait for five minutes. I was chatty, impulsive, unorganized, who never paid attention to the small details, even sloppy. I will never forget all the times I thought I was the stupidest person on earth, tears in my eyes, after I figured I wrote the opposite answer to a question I was supposed to answer. This happened not once or twice, it happened many times. Or, the times I only answered partially for the question I was supposed to answer, because I didn’t even notice there were a few parts in the question.  The subject in High school that I had most difficulties was Geometry.  In Geometry there are many details you need to pay attention to, and multiple stages until you reached the correct answer. Other subjects that had a few stages or parts in the questions always failed me.  I struggled through this in High School, and found my ways at University. I taught myself how to avoid misreading instructions by going over the again and again, making sure I covered everything I had to answer. I had problems with big loads of materials, so I summarized and highlighted things I needed to remember. For those who would be worried that I didn’t make it, rest your minds, I gained two Masters Degrees and I am a qualified High School teacher. I am also an Author who has published two books; I am a Poet and a Blogger. It looks like I turned out ok :). Thanks to my learning disabilities, and because of them. The fact that I have them made some things really difficult, but on the other hand, I also benefited from them. Learning difficulties taught me I needed to be stubborn and work harder, and I taught my kids the same lessons. If I failed once I made it the second or third time, I became an expert in failing, but never gave up. Yes, I cried many times, and felt insulted by my own brain, but I was able to prove to myself that if I wanted something, and I mean REALLY WANTED something, all I had to do is work harder.

ADHD not only challenged me, it gave me also many gifts I am so grateful for. I am able to write, speak on the phone and listen to music at the same time! I was able to raise our four boys mostly by myself with very little help, since my husband used to travel so much for his work, and still, I was able throughout these years to study or write. The greatest gift of all is my creativity, mostly in writing, but also in problem solving. I am able to think “outside the box”, and I give the credit to ADHD.

If it was up to me to choose whether I can be born with or without learning disabilities, I, for sure, would choose to be born with what I have, because of the challenges and thanks to them.  And, BTW, even the fact that I can blog in English is a great achievement for me, I am so grateful to be able to be able to express  thoughts and feelings in both Hebrew and English languages.

When we realized that our oldest has a few learning disabilities that made studding process more challenging for him, I was very sad. I felt awful. I actually only then, learned that he got some of them from me (at age 35 I realized for the first time that I have learning disabilities). I felt responsible and helpless and sad, but things turn out ok. Our son is an excellent student in University. With lots of support my husband and I gave him throughout the years, he was able to come up with his own tools for success, and learned that hard work pays off.

At the end of the day it is us who make the decision whether we let our challenges in life take over and control our lives, or we use our challenges for learning and growing, not only in our studding process, but at all areas in our lives.

Have a wonderful week; hope that kindness and goodness will feel your days.

 

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