Ok ok ok ok it’s time for a brain dump!
I have learned SO many things in the past few months.
I’ve learned how to have better boundaries (but it’s a work in progress!).
I’ve learned a new language; how to be more open-minded and logically analyze a question while at the same time hearing the underlying query.
Update: I’m still a madricha (dorm counselor), but this time at a women’s Hostel in the Old City.
Hashem works in hidden ways. I now know how crazy lucky I am to live in center of the world, the holiest place on Earth, but this was actually the last place I wanted to end up. The Old City is the tourist hotspot and has bad transportation, and the idea of living in a hostel surrounded by ever changing faces and with no privacy sounded very unattractive. This is going to sound ridiculous, but the only reason I agreed to move here was because of a dream I had 4 years ago about the day of Moshiach’s arrival.
I’ll spare you the details and just say that it took place in the Old City and it was fascinating, scary and weird.
I’m not one to take dreams too seriously, but this one stuck with me because I woke up and my body was shaking uncontrollably. I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote the whole thing down, then fell peacefully back asleep.
Remembering this dream gave me the hope that maybe, if there’s any truth to it, I’d be living in the holiest place on earth when Moshiach arrived. So I packed my bags and my courage and lugged them to the Old City.
Moving can be a lonely thing, and it certainly was this time. It took me over a month to let go of the sadness and start acting like myself again. I still didn’t have a job, so I gave massages in my school’s private clinic as often as possible, which turned out to be too inconvenient to continue because of the travel time.
The Heritage House (www.heritage.org.il), my new home, is an unbelievable place. It’s the simplest of places, with chipping paint, perpetually dirty looking tiles, and arched doorways. The atmosphere is so positive and open, and the most interesting conversations take place in the lounge. Every Thursday, I run a challah bake, which is both stressful and inspiring. One in a while, I bring my guitar down from my attic bedroom and sing to or with the guests.
It’s interesting how much the guests are teaching me about different ways of life. Many women who come are very liberal, which isn’t a language I grew up on. There’s a certain humanitarian value to liberalism that I very much stand behind, but how those values play out are often not in line with what I believe. In the past, I’ve shied away from conversations where my opinions differs greatly with the other person, but in these past few months, I’ve learned how to navigate them in a way that respects both the other person and myself. In addition to that, the conversations here both drive me crazy and get me thinking and challenging my religious beliefs. It’s been the best environment to strengthen who I am.
As circumstances would have it, the other two madrichot left within two weeks of my arrival (for good reasons- one got a full time job and the other got engaged!), so all their responsibilities fell on me. It was a lot.
Then Pesach came, and I was a different person, surrounded by family and with no responsibilities. I found my creativity again and finally breathed. It was literally awesome.
Real life hit as soon as I got back, and miraculously, an online job dropped into my lap shortly after. It only pays enough to cover my schooling, but it’s a start. I saved my last two paychecks from 7 months ago, so that’s basically what’s holding me now.
My greatest struggle lately has been anxiety, especially around finals. It’s been taking everything out of me. It’s so strong that I am having a hard time even opening my books to study, and I feel so depleted at school that I barely socialize. I can’t say I haven’t had anxiety before, but it’s never been this bad. The finals have also never been this hard, and there’s a real chance of me failing. My teachers rarely give assignments, so around 90% of the grade is from tests, and at least 70% of that is from the finals.
I was up until 4:30am a couple nights ago, trying to face my emotions. It seemed to me like the best option was to take a gap year, because the stress was just too much to handle. I figured I’ll spend a year making money so that school can be my only focus next year, but the idea of postponing school for a year made me fear that I won’t have the guts to start it up again.
I prayed really hard.
When I had no more words, I picked up a tehillim (Psalms) and opened it to a random page. I read the sentence and then closed it and opened it up randomly again. After repeating this a few times, I saw that nearly every place I opened up to spoke of miracles. I took a deep breath and thought about how it would be a pretty convenient time for a miracle.
So since then, I’ve been trying to put all the pieces in place for a miracle to happen. I went to my teacher’s clinic and got a formula for anxiety and focus. Yay for Chinese herbs- there are no side effects! (For curious people: her website is http://www.naomidror.com. It’s in Hebrew but she speaks English fluently). I set up a tutor for every day of the week next week. I made a study calendar and canceled almost all appointments. I made no new plans other than to study. If it is time for a miracle, the stage is set.