Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why now? Revelations in the holy land.

It would make a great story if I could say I went to Jerusalem and had an epiphany and came back ready to change my life overnight. Well, I did go to Israel, twice last year as a matter of fact. And it did help me to see it was time to change, but the realization came slowly and not in a burning bush or a clap of thunder. The decision to make a change came over a period of about 3 months and the impetus to act on that decision took another 5.

I came into 2009 in the poorest physical condition of my life. Merely walking was a challenge, not just because of my leg but more so my weight. I was barely able to walk to the car, to the mailbox, from one gate to another at an airport without being out of breath, without having to stop to rest. I was withdrawing more and more from any activities that took exertion and in turn from much I enjoyed in life.

So when life presented me a moment I couldnt pass up, an impromptu trip to Israel in February I didn't go easily. There was a great irony in planning for the trip. Everyone around me was telling me not to go because they feared for my safety. At that time Israel was deeply embroiled in "Operation Cast Lead", a war with Hamas in the Gaza strip, and our trip was purposely planned to put us in southern Israel across the border from Gaza, in towns like Sderot where the missles were falling daily. I did hesitate to go, but not because of bombs or war, but because i didn't know if I could handle the trip. Could I do the walking? Could I keep up? Would I be the one the group was lagging because of.

I went on the trip. It was the trip of a lifetime, it changed me in so many ways. But the whole thing was a struggle. Every time we got off the bus I struggled with the stairs, when we would walk from place to place I would have a hard time keeping up. When we went to the kibbutz and the walking was hills and uneven I can't remember much of what was said, because I was internally panicking over how would I get from place to place.

But for the difficult of all the physical, nothing was more upsetting on the trip than all the photos that were taken. Since I was traveling with a very small group, who quickly bonded over a situation most never face, there were many pictures. And every time I cringed. When I saw myself in these photos I was revolted. As, I stood on a playground in Nitzan and vowed to myself it was time to change, though I wasn't sure how.

The plan to change didn't come for many months, ironically when I found myself back in Israel. I had been invited to attend an incredibly prestigious conference as well as a Young Leadershop program in late October. While I had made some changes to my life in the months since Sderot (I had given up soda, an addiction for me, and had cut back on desserts) I hadn't done much. I had lost maybe 10 lbs. but it wasn't enough to make life any better. I struggled again through the trip. The conference center has few elevators and they were blocked for security for dignitaries, so I missed many sessions due to the stairs.  When a friend wanted to show me how he lives his daily life by taking the bus and walking around Jerusalem I turned him down becuase of small hills. The lowest moment of the trip was the night I passed up going to the airport to meet a plane full of people making Aliyah to Israel because I worried about having to find elevators, about all the walking, about my inabilities impacting the first sacred moment of their lives in Israel. But despite all this, I still didn't find my answer. That didnt come until my last few hours in Tel Aviv.

The beauty of the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv is a big part of why I go back time and time again. There is no where that pulls to me more on the planet. And on my last evening in Israel it was where I wanted to be. I had come to Tel Aviv to have dinner with my friend Laura, someone I had met on the first trip, and as with much in Israel we were walking to dinner. She was showing me her new neighborhood and it was taking all I had in me to keep up. It was the moment she suggested we walk to the beach and I had to say no that I decided that would never happen again. I was done! I had given up enough of my life and decided on the flight home later that night that it was time to do something. And I knew I had two choices....surgery or stubborness!!!!

PS If you are interested in the details of my trips, my Israel travel blog can be found at http://ylcisrael2008.blogspot.com/


  1. Shalom Pam,
    I am looking forward to taking you on a walk along the boardwalk in north Tel Aviv, to the old port and the beautiful spots where the waves almost crash down on your head. We will walk that gorgeous tayelet, along the beach and smell the sea air and get a tan that all your neighbors will comment on.
    Tel Aviv is my favorite city in Israel, the first Hebrew speaking city in 2000 years, as modern as New York and as sun filled as the Riviera. And I promise you, since we are both weight conscious people, that if we stop for a bite along the beach, it will be nutritious and delightful.
    At least, it will be after Passover!!!!!!
    B' ahava,

  2. Hey Mr Nurse...I absolutely can not wait for this trip! For those that don't know, I am headed back to Israel in April to celebrate my 40th b'day and my new life. Going to get to see some very VERY VERY dear friends - one who has been in my life for the 14 years since the nerve damage, and one who is new to my life, but just as special.

    On the tan, well some things we can change, some we can't. I dont tan I burn, but I dont care. I want to spend every minute outside while I am there I can!

    Plums!!! Remember I am coming for plums!!!

    Love ya Mr Nurse!