Lessons from my 2 year old: Why husband doesn’t notice your new dress

Ella (2 1/2 years old) is jumping on the trampoline in her new skirt from Israel which she refuses to take off.

Her best friend David (3 1/2 years old) comes down to the garden and sits on the grass showing me his new truck books with some car named Mater in them.

Ella stands on the end of the trampoline: “David, look at my new flower skirt, it’s pretty”, she squeals at him.

David looks up at her quizzically and after a few moments looks back into his book.

Ella shouts louder: “David, look at my beautiful skirt”.

David looks up again and is confused. He scrunches his eyes together in concentration and then he goes blank. She may as well be talking to Chinese. He returns to his book.

This happens a few times. Ella is desperate for her best friend to appreciate her new skirt which she loves so much.

But David doesn’t get it. He tries to, but just has no clue how to respond. Her pretty new skirt is out of his universe.

She eventually gives up; and they both go fight over the blue bike.

This small interaction, almost insignificant, stays with me all day.

I imagine this scenario in 25 years from now.

Girl is married, and she gets a new shirt. As she did at 2 years old, she assumes & wishes that the world around loves and appreciates what she does. So she expects that her husband will compliment her new shirt. But of course he doesn’t.

Depending on her level of maturity and self-worth, it could go many ways. It could easily turn into hurt and anger and disappointment. It could spiral into defensiveness and disconnection.

“If he really cared about me, he would notice”

“If he loved me, he would remember…..”

Yet this toddler interaction is the truth. There is no malice or cruelty involved. There is no intention or viciousness. David tries to understand. He looks up and hears her words. But he just has no ability to respond.

And likewise, Ella takes no offence. She tried a few times, and then moved onto a subject they could connect over.

Imagine. Imagine our relationships if these disconnects were handled with such neutrality. Imagine if our spouses/friends/parents’ limitations were simply experienced for what they are and forgiven in the moment.

And Ella? David and her play/jump/fight happily for a while, and later she shows her new skirt to her granny and together they obsess over the flowers and the colours.


Why I want to live and die like Oliver Sacks

My tears surprise me. I am reading Oliver Sacks’ New York Times op-ed (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/opinion/oliver-sacks-on-learning-he-has-terminal-cancer.html?_r=0) where he shares that his cancer has metastasized to his liver and in a few months he will leave this world.

These are not the tears I cry when I hear of a young mother stricken with incurable cancer, or a teenager plucked from this world tragically before his prime. In his 81 years Sacks has achieved dazzling success and acclaim as both a scientist and an author.  His ground-breaking discoveries in the field of neuro-science have transformed modern medicine’s understanding of the brain. Hailed by The New York Times as “the poet laureate of medicine,” Sacks will leave the world of both medicine and literature infinitely richer.

It is the fullness of his life which moves me. It is specifically the fact that he stands facing death with not a whisper of regret in his words. Quite the opposite, his words are dripping with fulfilment and gratitude. Till his last day, he chooses to embrace the world: “It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me,” he writes. “I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can.”

I cry because I, too, will one day stand at the edge of my life. As unwilling as I am to think of death, I know it will inevitably happen. But what terrifies me most is to stand at the brink of my life and to have not lived fully. I am so full at the moment, brimming with dreams and plans and hopes and goals. I want so much – for myself, for my relationships, for my children. Yet I am constantly unsure that I will get there. I find myself pushing off my dreams to another day.

Oliver Sacks does not live in the world of “another day.” He faces death with courage and serenity because he is living a life replete with vitality. To stand at the edge of the this world, looking back with regrets and saying to yourself, I had dreams but I was afraid. I held grudges because I was too proud to let it go. I wanted to do so much but I got distracted. I thought there was more time – that is frightening.

Often one hears of stories of near-fatal events where a person was miraculously saved from an illness or an accident. A bucket list is written and dramatic changes to their lives are made. Relationships are prioritized, old feuds are settled and a heightened awareness of purpose and the sacredness of each moment is awakened. Do we have to wait for a tragedy to realign our goals?

Each of us is born with infinite potential for greatness. Yet we hold back. The what-ifs, the have-tos, the should-haves often cloud our choices. Sometimes we don’t examine our choices fully. We let the expectations and social norms dictate. Our dreams remained buried among fears and complacency.

So reading Sacks’ reflections as he nears the end of his time in the world, I am envious. He is confident that he has given his all. “But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written.” To be overflowing with gratitude in the face of death can only be a result of life lived with constant appreciation of the blessings.

So with the courage, engagement and creativity that he lived his life, he approaches his death. The self he has cultivated – the self of love and gratitude is what he will carry through the rest of the days on this planet.

The tears I shed tell of a profound yearning for such a life. I imagine of myself at the end of my days as an old woman. My limbs may be frail and weary; and my face may be wrinkled, but I dream that I will hold a deep satisfaction that I gave my all. That I was brave and I loved and contributed what only I was able to. I want to know without a shadow of a doubt that I did all I could have done.

Behind the Scenes – Diary of a TS Wannabe

(Background: I am very involved in the More to Life program, which teaches transformational personal growth and evolution towards each of our best selves. It has been an invaluable part of my journey to who I am today, and was one of the greatest blessings I ever received. This coming training weekend I have volunteered to lead the the volunteer team in making it happen… a gigantic step into the unknown. I am sharing how I arrived at this point, and my invitation to every and any More to Lifer to join our team. And if you are interested in doing the weekend, I would be very happy to share more information about it – this is the only one this year not over shabbat)

I always wondered, how do you become TS (Training Supervisor) of a More to Life weekend. So, before I invite you to join our team, I want to share with you what went on for me behind the scenes…….

Wednesday afternoon 3.07pm.


Amichai:  “Eliana………..!!” (Amichai’s exuberance booms through my phone and the cacophony of my toddler’s tantrum)


Me: “Um hi, Ami….what’s up?”


Amichai: “I hear you are TS for April!”


Me: “I am?” (Nervous chuckle, stomach drops…)


Amichai: “Yes! Come on why not…?’


Me: “I never said anything about being TS…we’ll see… I have commitments; my life is so busy at the moment”



But the seed was planted.


My mindtalk (one’s inner script, often unchecked and untrue) goes wild, shooting objections at the speed of light.

You are too young (I am almost 30)

You are too busy (I work and have 2 small delightful and demanding children)

TS is for real More to Life people

TS is for the big league


But I can’t say no yet.


A few days later, bumping into a friend from More to Life:

Friend: “So, I hear you are TS, Ami told me”

Me: “No, I havent agreed”.. Nervous laughter & confusion…(Mindtalk; I am going to kill Amichai)


Later that same day, Whatsapp conversation between me and Amichai.


Eliana: Ami, I havent agreed to be TS, you know

Amichai: What’s going on?

Eliana: I need to figure my intention

Amichai: No need, just breathe and go where your full breath takes you


I listen to his advice. I breathe and breathe some more. And with each breath I sink deeper into fear and excitement and fear and unknown and anticipation. But mostly I breathe into a YES I WANT THIS FOR MYSELF.


Phone call with Franki:

“I am up for TS…” (I feel nauseous at the sound of my words. Is this possible? Can I really do it? Can I make it work? It’s such a big commitment. Yet deeper than the mind’s nattering is a primal YES pulsating through my veins. YES. YES. YES. I can. I will)




And this is how I found myself writing an invitation to being on team as TS. I did the More to Life weekend 5 years ago. And slowly it changed me, and still changes the paradigm I see life through. As I step forward, I am terrified, beyond excited and wildly curious as to what is possible. And to make anything possible, we need a team of dreamers and doers and thinkers and planners and talkers and writers and organizers and walkers and runners and carriers.


So I personally ask you to hear this invitation. Hear the no’s. But let the YES talk louder. Say yes, even if there’s every reason to say NO. Say YES because we need you. We need your unique light, your passion & your energy.


Whether this is the first time or your twenty-first team,I will bet that there’s a little person in you saying “Pick me, pick me”. The weekend is a space to see and be seen. To grow and watch growth. To see the beauty of the human spirit in its rawest form. It’s a chance to come back to yourself.


So take a moment and ask yourself honestly, “Do I want to be on team, do I want to give of my best, to find out who is the best version me, and be part of transforming our universe?” And if your breath screams YES, it would be our honour to have you as a fellow passenger on this journey.

Healing from within – My Birth Experience, Part 2

The birth was approaching. With 10 days to go, the baby was dropping even deeper as I struggled to walk. Still, I hadn’t chosen a doula. I thought that if I went into labour I would just call one. And then on Friday, I finally told my husband to pay Doula A the deposit. Yet G-d was kind to me and did not allow me the same error as the last time. On Friday morning when I saw what looked the very beginning of a show, which was how Ella’s labour began. So as I walked clumsily waddled across the road to work, I knew that labour was possibly imminent and coming in the next few days. And suddenly, I knew exactly who I wanted there with me. Not Doula A or Doula B, but dear Nadine. Gentle and supportive, strong yet non-intrusive, I had shared so much with her over the past few weeks. I called to let her know, and to arrange just in case it was on shabbat from a halachic point of view. I carried on the day, and with no further signs of labour the day went as usual. When I got home and some of the plug came out, I knew it was time to make contingency plans. Even though it could still be days, we needed to be prepared.

I barked off a list of orders to my husband to arrange and went to see my gran as usual. When I came home, all the bags were packed and we readied ourselves for a normal shabbas with me eagerly looking forward to an early night. At around 10am, I woke up to a soaking wet bed. I realized that the early night was over and woke my husband who phoned the midwife to reserve the bed, and to go fetch my sister who would stay the night if we had to leave. I tried to go back to bed but no avail. I pottered around, finished packing and read a bit. There were contractions but very short and sporadic. Everyone else went back to bed. At around 3am the contractions were getting worse. I lay on the floor and rested and when one came, every 15/20 minutes, I got up and breathed as we practiced (my poor sister who had to hear my labour breaths through the night!). I did not feel panicked or scared, and stayed like that till about 6am. They got stronger and more sore, and I woke my husband. He called Nadine, who arrived in my bedroom. We got up and dressed and all had breakfast. It was jovial and relaxed and Ella was delighted to find visitors there! Nadine held my hand through every contraction which were still far. At one point, I felt terrified and did not ignore it. With tears in my eyes, I turned to her and said I am so scared. She gave me a big hug, and told me she was there for me. I dressed Ella and sent her delightedly on her way with her aunt ‘HaHa’ (Michal).

The rest of the morning passed with more regular but short contractions. Nadine held my back and hands through every one, as I focused intently on the breath as I had practiced. At 9am we woke Marc again to time them. They were still only 30 seconds and 6/7 minutes apart. The contractions intensified in length to over a minute and in intensity but did not get closer at all. At about 10.15am, a contraction suddenly came 3 minutes after the next. Nadine asked me if I felt any pushing urge. A very small one, I said, but nothing urgent. Nadine realized that things were moving faster than we anticipated, despite the distance of the contractions. She said it was time to go, and I listened. As we got ready in the bedroom, I got her and my husband to promise that if any induction was needed, I would get an epidural. They agreed and Nadine chuckled, you are not getting an induction. I didn’t fully believe her as every birthing book stated there was no need to go to the clinic until contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. Which they were not. I still thought there were hours to go.

We all piled into the car with my ball, and bags and made our way in the gentle rain and grey skies to the clinic. Poor Nadine said at one point she thought I may deliver in the car! We went straight to the room, and I insisted on the bath being put on. The room was the identical one in which Ella was delivered 2 years prior! As we got there, I started shaking violently and getting very anxious. Nadine and the doula on call calmed me down and made me breath slowly, and we waited for the midwife. She arrived and after examination sat back, and said six words I will never forget, “You can push when you want”. I went into shock and burst out crying. She grinned. What do you mean, I asked? She said, you are 10cm. I could not believe it. I had made it this far feeling so calm, so in control and so support every step of the way. We were at the final stage. I was overwhelmed with a sense of immense gratitude and disbelief. I immediately got into the bath, still relishing in the amazing events. I relaxed there for about 20 minutes, chatting away and feeling utter joy; until I realize that I better push this baby out sometime soon. Nadine was there every step of the way, as was my husband; staring into my eyes and offering me encouragement. Never once did I feel alone or isolated in my pain. After what must have been an hour of very (I won’t lie) painful pushing, our precious son was born. The rest of the shabbat was spent relaxing quietly in our room; and 8 days later our son was named Yehuda in testament to the indescribable thankfulness I felt to G-d for the enabling a birthing experience of complete healing which I so desperately needed.