As we count up towards Shavuos, I am increasingly aware of time going by – time I aim to use productively. Counting up as opposed to down allowed me to be present in the process, growing each day, and not focused on an end goal/date/next. It is a lesson for life, friends, since this day is all we’ve got. I changed again over Pesach and put goals in place with a plan; goals that involve other people are not within our control. Self-actualization is. I promised new beginnings. No more rinse and repeat. I am determinedly taking massive action on things put off prior, in order to know that I can count on myself. Boundaries are so important for someone like me, who tends to put others first and become distracted. I am learning. I have been blessed with the ability to transform constantly. The many diverse wonderful people who seek me out keep me on my toes. The accountability is important. Working on a singular focus is not natural for me. So I go out of my comfort zone, willingly and repeatedly. Real growth is never easy. We invest our time, our heart, and our money in what matters most. Therapies, treatments, potions, self-care, exercise facilities, coaches are not cheap or easy, but well worth it.

I don’t do almost. Almost people are the ones who repeatedly miss the boat. From a song: I’ll sing you a song that you feel. A wise colleague pinned me in a moment. He told me, “You give people significance, make them feel important, so they can imagine hope.” Hmmm. Well, it’s real. From an ad: What comes from the soul you can’t fake, can’t practice, it just is.

I read some amazing books recently: Hold Me Tight (EFT therapy for couples) and a couple of John Gottman’s books. They changed me, as did The 5 Love Languages. I have and continue to work so hard on myself in order to be the best life partner I can be when I am blessed to stand under a second chupah.

Dating in Israel is a far cry from the way things were back in my dating days of which I have such fond memories. (If you believe that, have I got a bridge to sell to you.) Most notably, as a girl, my dates always picked me up at home, with the exception of the unusually considerate guy who met me in Manhattan and sent me home by train all by myself at midnight. I can’t say I felt unsafe, though. I believe that the smoke that was emanating from my ears during the entire ride encouraged most people to keep their distance from me. If you (the unusually considerate guy) happen to be reading this article, you should just know that I participate in a weekly musar class and I’m currently hard at work trying to improve my midah of forgiveness. I haven’t reached the point of forgiving you just yet, but I’m getting very close.

When we received the invitation to a family engagement party in Zichron Yaakov, I was thrilled despite the distant location. The picturesque town, located 35 kilometers south of Haifa, at the southern end of the Carmel Mountain range, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, is one of my favorite destinations here in Israel. It was one of the pioneer Jewish agricultural settlements of the First Aliyah. The town was founded in 1882 by immigrants from Romania. In 1883, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild became the patron of the settlement and renamed it after his father Yaakov. Many just call the town “Zichron,” which ironically causes the name of the person meant to be memorialized not to be remembered.

Gary and Lisa were a young married couple living happily in South Africa back in the mid-1990s.  They both worked in the field of corporate clothing, with Gary managing the operations and Lisa handling the design.  They were not what one would call religious, but they were traditional. They would always eat a family meal together on Friday night.  They would light candles, eat challah along with their meal, and then head out to the movies and parties.  Lisa’s sister had become religious overnight when she married a religious boy.  At the time, Lisa actually felt sorry for her sister, who was suddenly bound by a myriad of restrictions, which included not being allowed to talk on the phone or watch TV on Saturdays.  Gary and Lisa did not want to be limited in that way.