Tuesday, November 12, 2013


So, as I am sitting at a local write-in, supposedly writing a 50k word novel in a month, I find myself blogging instead (don't worry, I did some legitimate writing first). I love my story; I think I finally have an idea that has enough substance to actually become something, but there is SO much about the story I've created that I neglected -- not intentionally, I just had no idea where my story was going…and the direction it took me was one I wasn't at all prepared for.

For those of you who have never attempted NaNoWriMo, this is not where I sit down and write a publishable masterpiece in a month (and 50k words isn't nearly a long enough manuscript to begin with). It is a purely word-count driven, get-your-ideas-down-on-paper-as-fast-as-you-can, and don't you dare edit kind of affair. It's good for me, and good for shutting up my inner editor. Most of all, it's fun! You get to novel en masse with the best of them -- from published writers to college students -- share your ideas with other writerly types, and, if nothing else, drink a few good cups of coffee along the way. For the record, I have attempted NaNoWriMo a number of times and have never reached the 50k word mark, but such is life. In fact, I have gotten farther this year than in previous years.

The problem is that I never outline; I never develop my ideas before the November 1st start, and I have learned that I am terrible at developing plot. I may have a beginning, middle, and end -- but when I say middle I mean, "yes, at some point I know that my character will _____." I have no idea how they will get to _____. I have no idea how they will get from _____ to the end. I just know that _____ will happen. This year I fell into the deadliest of plot setbacks. I need to world build. Somehow I went from my "real world" setting into one of my character's design…that means she has to design it! (Which in turn means that I have to design a world for her to design, sigh). I could spend months on world building! And without a world, there is no story. It may be time to stop writing and starting world/plot building for the greater good of my poor, plotless story.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Title Of My Blog

I realized recently that: 1) I think I am at a place in my life where I want to blog regularly again, so you can expect regular weekly posts from me. 2) Sadly, many of the people that I used to follow and whose posts I read religiously are no longer writing…so I look forward to new blogs and new readers. 3) I have never explained the title of my blog.

So to expand on #1 and #2, I am glad to be back! I am back in U.S.A. again (in fact, I returned home on the Fourth of July!) and am so thankful to be surrounded by friends and family again, even if I am shut up in my room writing papers and doing research most of the time. Adjusting to life here has been more difficult than I thought it would be, even though I knew it would be a transition. Even now, four months later, the past likes to tug on my heartstrings. I will go back, someday, because Israel has a special place in my heart.

As for #3, you may have noticed that there is little about the title that is outwardly represented in the content of my blog. You don't see me posting poetry. I don't talk about religion. There are a surprising number of promises -- to myself (unless you're counting the promise to write more often. In that case, dear readers, I have made a number of promises to you as well). The title of my blog is inspired by the John Denver song of the same name (lyrics here).

That is what my blog is about. It's about enjoying life and making the most of it through it all, and about sharing my story. It's a place where I can be thankful for everything in my life and full of excitement for the future…"For though my life's been good to me / There's still so much to do." -- and in turn, so much for me to share.

P.S. You might notice a few changes around here in the next couples of days…it was time.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hanging On...For Dear Life

My goodness, this past week has been packed with news and it's a little hard for me to take it all in right now. Here's what happened:

Monday: One of my former teachers committed suicide (the same day I was teaching and being observed)
Tuesday: My last day teaching in Tel Aviv and a lovely lunch with one of the teachers
Wednesday: My relationship of over three years ended abruptly and unexpectedly
Thursday: Mourning relationship termination, did get up and get dressed, watched Grey's Anatomy
Friday: More mourning, more Grey's Anatomy
Saturday: More mourning...but I left my apartment, got coffee and dessert with a friend, AND finished my presentation for class tomorrow (I call this progress).

Like someone told me just a few days ago: "Sometimes when one thing comes crashing down, everything comes crashing down." Right now, it feels as if those words have never been truer. For weeks now I have been digging myself out of the swampy black hole...with medical issues, academic problems, and a whole slew of emotional and social drama that I would be quite happy to avoid. And I know that breaking up with my boyfriend sounds like such a petty problem, but right now it is everything.

For three years, and almost four months this one person has been my everything and the love of my life.   So often I felt like he was the one thing that kept me grounded...particularly so far from home. I could go on and on about what an amazing person he was and how truly fortunate I was to have him in my life, but that would be accompanied by yet another crying spell (which is really the last thing I need right now). The point is, I've forgotten who I am. I feel lost and confused in a world that was already confusing enough. I need to be surrounded by the people I love, and I haven't even found the comfort of a hug.

I don't know why it is that the few people that DO know about what happened seem to think that I'm going to do something crazy (I have no history of diving off the deep end or anything), and I find inquiries such as "How are you?" and "Are you okay?" exceedingly annoying. What do you want me to say exactly? I'm too honest to lie just so that YOU can feel better about my suffering...seriously. If you were more realistic in your expectations, I would be happy to give status updates. I can't tell you that I'm "okay" -- I'm really not -- but I COULD tell you that I'm doing better than I was yesterday. I could tell you that I am satisfied with the baby steps I have taken toward okay-ness. I could tell you that I'm not okay but that I'm working on it...anything except "I'm okay."

Letting go was one of the hardest things I have done in my life. I said goodbye to someone that I loved deeply enough to marry and who loved me back. I said goodbye to a relationship that at one time we both thought would end in marriage. We went to hell and back together and leaned on each other when we felt like we could hardly stand. We endured thousands of miles of distance, air raid sirens, and the threat of war. I sent him off to the army and didn't know if he would come back. He supported me after I was injured in a car crash and lost my short-term memory. We have stood strong through all that life threw at us...and I just said goodbye.

I learned the terrible lesson that sometimes love is NOT enough -- that just because we loved each other didn't mean that we were right for each other. THAT is why right now I cannot stand, THAT is why I grieve, THAT is why I can't stop the tears. The more that that lesson sinks in, the more painful it is to accept...THAT is why I'm not okay and the reason why I need time to heal.

I promise more uplifting news in the future...but today, I needed to tell this chapter of my life.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pausing to Give Thanks

There are so many things in my life that I am thankful for, but there are also days when -- even though you know that you are thankful -- you just can't feel it. I may have had a few too many of those lately. I am aware of all of the blessings in my life, of the wonderful people who have crossed my path over the years, and I have become even more acutely aware of the little things (having been away from many of them for so long now). But right now, I just want to be thankful for LIFE. I may be so very alive that it hurts, but the pain and hardship is part of it all...and I have to believe that it leads to bigger and better things.

Today I learned that my high school geometry teacher took his own life. That's the news that I started my day with...the day I needed to be 100% focused on my lesson (and, of course, the day I would be observed). Death, three hours of sleep, and the profound question: how could someone who has touched so many lives value his own so little? My teachers have shaped the person and the educator that I am today, and he was one of them. I learned something from him, not about geometry (well, that too), but about life. He was a teacher who advocated for his students, who made them laugh, who rewarded correct answers with Jolly Ranchers, and who threatened to take away your chair if you didn't keep all four legs on the ground...and it wasn't just a threat.

I learned something about myself today too. I was reminded of the importance of valuing yourself and of recognizing the difference you have made in the lives of others, particularly your students. They DO remember the little things...they'll remember the Jolly Ranchers, not to lean back in their chair, and how hard you worked to explain new concepts so that they would understand. They may never know your first name, but they will know you -- the teacher, the coach, the mentor. Today I taught my last lesson with my eighth grade class; it was a lesson about superheroes. They may not remember the lesson, but if they use just one piece of knowledge that I have given them...maybe that's all it takes to touch a life.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Have...

I always have the grandest plans to chronicle my travels and experiences, and then I find myself too caught up in life to preserve those moments, let alone share them. So I find myself almost at the end of my journey in Israel and a bit at the end of my rope (though I'll manage). I am homesick, but with the knowledge that when I return home in about a month I will miss Israel. The United States will always be my home, but Israel hasn't been a bad second home...all-in-all. My experiences here have been intense and diverse, from the incident with Gaza and the air raid sirens to teaching in the Israeli school system to weekends in Jerusalem.

What have I done here? I have taught in both Arab and Jewish schools, grades 7-12, Jews and Christians and Muslims. I have taken classes in all things language education related. I have walked the empty streets of the Old City in Jerusalem at night...like something out of a movie. I sang, I prayed, I lived and ate shabbat dinner with families who were kind enough to welcome me into their homes. I attended classes at a yeshiva school, just to see what it was like. I learned to embrace a new culture and sometimes grumble about it. I learned that Israel will always have a special place in my heart, and I know that someday I will be back.

When I have time I plan to compile a complete "You might have lived in Israel if..." list, but for the moment, I will leave you with these five:

1. Eating or considering eating non-kosher food makes you feel guilty
2. For you, Jerusalem is a weekend getaway
3. You only remember non-Jewish holidays because of Facebook
4. You no longer believe in the existence of lines (it's more of a funnel effect)
5. Shekel no longer sounds like just a funny word, but an actual form of currency

Tonight I might add "...If your arm is lumpy, swollen, and itches like crazy because the bugs here apparently have especially potent venom" but instead I'll try to ignore the itching and get some sleep!