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How Israel Saved My Life

27 Jan

There are so many reasons that I shouldn’t have gone Israel this summer. Heck, by the time the trip came around, I was 10 days past the age cut-off! Travelling with complete strangers, without the security blanket of familiarity, put me out of my comfort level, to say the least. At JFK, I constantly called E, sobbing, asking him to let me come home. I was grateful for the opportunity, but so unsure of why I had it.

I’ve been home for almost 6 months, and it’s taken me this long to fully absorb the situation, to understand the why’s instead of the how’s. Long story short? It was meant to be.

In ten days, I saw so much of the country, and was constantly on the move. I learned to make a tour bus feel like home, to have almost 30 strangers feel like family.

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I was surrounded by art, mysticism and amazing falafel in Safed; rode a camel in the middle of the desert. I prayed at the Western Wall, sat in the same place on Mount Masada where I was Bat Mitzvah’d. I had (a vegetarian!) dinner in a Bedouin tent and swam in the Mediterranean. I cried at Yad Vashem, and  laughed loud and long, covered in mud, and floated in the Dead Sea.

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I hiked, swam, rode and rafted; sometimes in the front, and others in the back. Not once was I alone, physically, emotionally or spiritually. When I struggled, there was someone to carry me through, and at times, I was that person for others. Not once did I count a calorie. Not once was I ashamed of my arms, stretch marks or thighs. Not once did I hold back from a conversation or activity out of fear  or feelings of not being good enough. Not once was I ever not good enough.

Pictures may say thousands of words, and for the first time in a very long time, they’re written all over my face. See that smile? The one in every picture? 100% genuine, my friends.

I went to Israel, looking for a free trip, and I ended up taking quite the journey. At some point, at some time, that nagging little voice inside my soul went silent, as if the Universe was whispering, “shhhhhhhh”.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle. It’s work to get through the day, and it takes prioritizing, evaluating and learning to step back in order to do it. The difference between before Israel and after Israel? I want to make it work. I want to grow, to breathe, to be better. I want to be the kind of person that others look up to, and be involved in my community. I want to be a positive force, and be a wife, sister, daughter and aunt that my family is not only proud of, but likes and respects. It’s not about the next 10 pounds or 5 years, even though I’m still aiming for those. Some days might be awful, and some may be filled with light and laughter. And that’s okay. It’s okay to have good days and bad, and even ones that are just okay. I’m not making excuses or giving up; I’m allowing myself to feel, and to be human. Now that I’ve tasted happiness, I’m not willing to give up the craving.

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26

16 May

Happy Sunday, and welcome to the new site! It’s in a state of transition, so pardon the dust, and please update your readers!

It’s been a crazy week, but a good one, with the days I spend at JamieHuntington’s Kitchen being a definite highlight – how could it not be? That place is pure happiness! The semester’s over, grades have been posted, and I feel like I can breathe again. All in all, a ton of weight feels like it’s been lifted off of my shoulders. Unfortunately, it hasn’t come off my ass. I haven’t lost any weight in a month. I also haven’t gained an ounce, but despite the fact I still fit comfortably into my clothes, I just don’t feel right. With everything that’s been going on, I haven’t made exercise a priority, and my eating is a whole ‘nother story. My life isn’t always about a number on the scale, but add up the lack of energy, insomnia, bloat, and general meh I’m feeling on a daily basis, and a change has to be made.

My 27th birthday is in 26 days, and I’m celebrating by challenging myself, making 7 changes to start my new year off right!

  1. Hydrate! No wonder I feel so blah!!! Most days, I don’t even think I reach my full 8 glasses. So the new plan is to drink AT LEAST 2 liters a day.
  2. Cut the crap There’s a huge difference between eating like a normal person and eating for the hell of it. Food is fuel, and I’ve been running on fumes. So, it’s simple – make better choices. Eat more whole foods, up the protein, and limit sugars and sodium.
  3. Take some Zzzzzz My head usually doesn’t hit the pillow until after 1 a.m., and I’m struggling to wake up in the mornings. Two alarms and a vibrating disc can’t wake me up, and my schedule’s all out of whack. Challenge? Short of being on the town for an event, I’m hitting the pillow before midnight, and waking up at 8 a.m., no matter what.
  4. Make meals matter I’m not eating regularly, so by the time nourishment comes along, I’m hangry and stuff my face. For example, Friday’s meals had breakfast at 10:30 a.m., lunch at 4 p.m. and dinner at 10 p.m. with a snack at 1 p.m. Not bad, but I hit a few walls. New rule? Breakfast within 40 minutes of waking up, followed by nourishment of some sort every 3 hours after, for a total of six ‘meals’. No running on fumes for this gal!
  5. Caffeine-a-no-go I’ve been guzzling on caffeinated beverages like they’re about to go extinct, with Diet Mountain Dew being the king of the castle. It’s no wonder I can’t sleep! I’m not willing to cut caffeine completely, but there’ll be none of that after 7 p.m. No unsweet tea, coffee, or diet sodas; caffeine-free is a-okay, but only 16 oz. per day.
  6. Shake it! Now that school’s out of the way for a little while, I have no excuse not to get physical. The gym needs to become a priority again, so the goal is to exercise 4x a week. It doesn’t have to be inside, but it does need to happen. It could be yoga, swimming, cardio, walking, strength training or what have you – the sky’s the limit. I have a 5k trail walk in a couple of weeks, and if I don’t get back in shape, I’m going to be huffing and puffing.
  7. Smell the roses As E would tell you, I’m a little on the tense side, and I need to relax. I’m giving myself permission to do something relaxing at least once a week, and enjoy the moment.

Looking at the list, everything’s connected – I can’t sleep because I’m tense and full of caffeine, I feel sluggish and tense because I’m not sleeping or exercising and I’m eating like crap. I’ll be checking in every 7 days, with my last check in on June 10th, my birthday. Want to join in and help celebrate my last 26 days of being 26 in style? Leave a comment, and let me know what you’re changing for the next 26 days. Don’t forget, you can still help me reach my goal of 50 to 50 for the Epilepsy Foundation; each comment is now worth a dollar, and I’m 17 away, so head on over and make yours count.