2017 Year-end reflection questions:
  1. The most important goal that I achieved this year was:
  2. My biggest fitness accomplishment was:
  3. My biggest career accomplishment was:
  4. My biggest relationship accomplishment was:
  5. These are the skills I acquired this year:
  6. A big mistake that I made this year—and the lesson that I learned as a result—was:
  7. An obstacle or a challenge that I overcame this year:
  8. This year, I learned the following about myself:
  9. Here’s something I learned about other people:
  10. This made me laugh the hardest this year:
  11. The most fun I had all year was:
  12. My best memory of the year was:
  13. My biggest regret of the year was:
  14. My biggest disappointment of the year was:
  15. The books I read this year were:
  16. My favorite movie of the year was:
  17. A TV show I really enjoyed watching this year was:
  18. I really enjoyed this live performance (concert, play, musical, or dance performance):
  19. Here’s a song I listened to over and over again this year:
  20. This is something I wish I hadn’t bought this year:
  21. This is the best thing I bought all year:
  22. Someone I really enjoyed spending time with this year was:
  23. I adopted this new positive habit:
  24. I dropped this negative habit:
  25. One time I stood up for myself this year was:
  26. The scariest thing I went through this year was:
  27. A really cool thing I created this year was:
  28. My most common mental state this year was:
  29. Here’s how I grew emotionally this year:
  30. Here’s how I grew spiritually this year:
  31. The best gift I received this year was:
  32. The nicest thing someone did for me this year was:
  33. The nicest thing I did for someone else this year was:
  34. I showed real gumption this year when I:
  35. If I could change one thing about this year it would be:
  36. A new food/dish I tried this year was:
  37. This year my physical health was:
  38. Here’s a new friend I made this year:
  39. This year I traveled to:
  40. Here’s one adventure I had this year:
  41. One contribution I made to my community was:
  42. This year I spent a lot of time here:
  43. This year I broke out of my comfort zone by:
  44. A hobby I loved spending time on this year was:
  45. This year I practiced self-care by:
  46. My biggest time waster this year was:
  47. Here’s a great time-saving hack I learned this year:
  48. What I am most grateful for this year is:
  49. Here are three words that would sum up this year:
  50. If I could travel back to the beginning of the year, here’s some advice I would give myself:

Questions light the way

Journeys without a purpose


Some stories begin with sparks and fireworks,

Others with the dull light of dawn.

Shadows fleeting between the trees,

Birds chirping quietly in the twigs,

As the world yawning, extending its arms.


Softly as butterflies hardly making a mark,

We can slip through life shaping our bodies to match.

While we watch, others sculpting their form,

Forceful and coarse like sandpaper on glass,

Leaving their inscriptions for others to surpass.


Some journeys come to an end before they even began;

 Others last for eternity and never collapse.

Who’s to say which kind exceeds the other?

A journey to the end of the land,

Or merely a mile up the road.






Journeys without a purpose

The woman in my head


* picture taken from google images


There is a woman, who lives in my head,
I hardly ever see her,
But her voice, vexing and grating,
Is rumbling in the hollows of my brains

She does not stop talking,
From morning till night,
The only way I can quiet her rattling
Is close my eyes, and take a nap.

She wants to know, why –
She interrogate me on, how –
She likes to discuss, when –
But she really get stuck on what if.

She insists that it is for my own good,
But we both know this is a lie.
She keeps bringing up” the truth,”
As if she was there at the time.

Her capricious moods keep me alert,
I cannot ever lay off my guard,
On the lookout day and night,
For her next ingenious camouflage

This woman who lives in my head,
The other day, I caught her glimpse,
In the bathroom mirror’s bright lights
She looked unerringly like me.

The Woman in my Head

Mitat Neshika (death by a kiss)

fishing the sun

“So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. “Deuteronomy 34:5

My mother was seventy-four when she died in her sleep, on a Friday night. She checked into the hospital that same morning for what was described as a routine check-up. The reason for her death is unknown. I knew that she was not healthy, and in the last two years of her life, she was irritated and disoriented. Still, her death was unexpected. My father refused to authorize an autopsy to clarify the reason for her death. He told us that in Judaism death while asleep and on a Friday night, is a privilege kept only for the righteous. People like Moses and his brother Aaron are but two examples. It is called Mitat Neshika, “death by a kiss.”

It was a strained relationship between my mother and me. I felt that I disappointed her. Not good looking as my younger brother, not as successful. She always tried, without success, to understand my life choices; why I married a man she did not think was ‘good enough,’ my career and the ways my husband and I educated our four daughters.

She ended every conversation, and those were many, with the same words; “I do not understand,”

“I do not understand why you married this man;” she said to me a week after the wedding and repeatedly in the coming years. The fact that we had a stable marriage did not stop her from restating the question, year after year.

“I do not understand what it is that you’re doing,” was about my professional choice (a school counselor and learning disabilities consultant). She had no problem with my brother’s profession (an interior designer) even though both her and my father were educators.

“I don’t understand why the kids never eat,” was another favorite one. My daughters did not like her cooking so routinely declared a hunger strike on our visits.

Sixteen years had passed since that Saturday morning when my father called to tell me about her death. He gave me the news and informed me that the funeral would be held on Sunday, as according to the Jewish tradition a funeral must take place no longer than twenty-four hours after the death. My husband and I ‘packed’ the kids and rushed up to Jerusalem from our home in Arad two hours to the south.

There will be no autopsy to clarify the reason of death; my brother told me when we got to my parents’ home. The funeral took place, as planned, early Sunday; we went back to my parents’ home for a light lunch, we stayed for the week as tradition dictates, then we returned to our life.

The unanswered question about my mother’s death was not discussed in the coming years. Once, shortly after her death, when I asked my father for some of her jewelry, for my daughters and I and it turned out that every piece she ever owned mysteriously disappeared, I tried to talk to him about her unforeseen death, but he was adamant in his refusal to discuss the whereabouts of her jewelry, as he was about his decision to decline an autopsy.

Two years after my mother passed away my husband and I left our home in the south part of Israel and moved to the US. Then my father died, and with his death, I had to give up on the hope that I will ever get an answer.

A few weeks ago, I raised the question of her unexpected death once again, this time I asked my brother, the favorite ‘chosen’ golden boy. At sixty-three, his seamless façade cracked a bit, and he admitted to feeling tired of his work and life in general. For the first time, he confided in me and confessed that, like me, he does not know the circumstances of our mother’s death.

“It always troubled me, “he wrote in a rare e-mail that contained several full sentences, unlike his usual telegram like correspondence.

“I can’t get the thoughts of my mind,” he wrote,

“I think of her dying alone, on a Friday night with no family by her side,”

When I read his email, I remembered the legend my father told us of Moses who was not allowed into the Promised Land. How he climbed, alone, up Mt. Nebo to see the land from above, and God took his life with a kiss.

Mitat Neshika, “death by a kiss,” is a privilege kept only for those who are righteous; I concluded my email to my brother.

While writing, I remembered something from the day of the funeral that I did not think about for many years. After the funeral, in my parents’ home, surrounded by relatives and friends, I felt restless, pressed to do something to relieve the pain.

I walked out of the house, took the long bus ride back to the cemetery on the other side of town and walked up to her grave. There was the bare ground; the gravestone will be put in place and unveiled thirty days later.  I stood there and looked at the patch of earth mixed with stones; I looked at the view of the city stretched all the way to the hazy mountains of on the Jordanian side, I thought I could detect Mt Nebo in the distance.

In few months, as I do every year since we left to the US, I will ‘visit’ her grave. It is on a mountain- side overlooking the entrance to Jerusalem. At times it feels like the family visits we had in the past; my father’s grave is next to hers and my grandmother’s few rows away. The town is spread below, bigger and noisier with each passing year. White apartment buildings climb the hills around, new roads stretch all the way to the pink, hazy horizon but in the cemetery, time stands still.

I will drive up the steep hills into the city that used to be my home. When I will reach the last curve on the road, I will turn and park at the bottom of the hill then walk up to her grave. I will pick few stones and put them on the grave, then I will update her on my life in the year that just ended.

Still married to the same man,

Kids are all grown up

Not an educator anymore.

Always when I get to the last part, my current profession, I hesitate for a minute. I know what she would say if she was still alive;

“I don’t understand, why you went to school and got a master degree, so you can become an innkeeper,”

When I think of it, it makes me smile.

Mitat Neshika (death by a kiss)

The questions I should have asked my parents

tova and daynushand ariela



The questions I should have asked my parents

The ones I will never ask, for they, the objects of the queries

Are forever beyond reach. The unrequited uncertainties irk me,

In the still, dark nights,” should have when there was time,”

Roll like thunder in my mind.


Where will I find them, keys to unasked questions,

Those that come uninvited, like trying guests.

Knock on the door, push a leg in the narrow opening.

They want to be served. But I have nothing to feed them

I have no answers to the questions I never asked.


In desperation, I scrape old memories

I search for the colors behind their gray veneer

Run old scripts in my mind, raged at the crackling soundtracks.

Why I did not ask, is the main quandary,

Why they never told, will forever haunt me.


Like slow drifting clouds, lost in the play-act of colors,

Indefinable answers waver my sight. Then I grasp it,

With an abrupt freeing of sight, I know,

These questions I should have asked, are my arsenal of arrows,

My lasting connection to the past.


The questions I should have asked my parents

The last Hanukkah with my mother





Some months more than others bring up old memories. Some of them appear as vibrant as on the day they happened. The other day I looked at the calendar and saw that Hanukkah is only twelve days away. Suddenly it hit me, the memory of my last Hanukkah with my mother emerged from a faraway memory land.

It was Hanukkah of 1999 when, for the last time, I spent time with my mother.

We always went to Jerusalem to celebrate this holiday; my husband our four girls and I together with my parents would lit the candles. The girls, each had their own Hanukkiah. They got to choose the colors of the candles, listen patiently to my father’s instructions which candle to lit first. Then we placed the lit Hanukkiahs in front of the big window in the living room, and the dancing flames framed our images in the dark glass.

My mother insisted on going through the ritual of blessings and traditional songs, which we did rather hurriedly to make it to the best part of the night; food and games.

Her homemade jelly donuts covered with fine powdered sugar never looked like the store-bought ones but tasted so much better. The dreidel games made for hours of fun.

That last Hanukkah did not feel the same. For the past two years, my mother wasn’t herself. Irritated, forgetful, disoriented at times. Even without an official diagnosis, we could tell.  We went to Jerusalem like we did every year but spent the night in an old monastery, in a small village on the outskirts of town. We thought that the sense of adventure would distract the girls from the fact that they couldn’t stay at my parents’ house. But the rooms with their soaring ceilings and the thick walls of Jerusalem stone were bone freezing.

The lightning of the candles was a somber event that evening. Did we know, in the way one sometimes sense things before they happen?

Less than two weeks later my mother passed away. The windows of her hospital ward looked over the small village and the monastery where we spent our last visit.

The day she was buried, the tenth day in the Jewish month – Tevet, is also a day of mourning and fasting commemorating the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in the 6th century BCE, resulting in the destruction of the first temple and later it became Memorial Day for Holocaust victims whose date of death is unknown.

Completely irrelevant, perhaps.

Why I started this blog



My first post

I have many blogs. I start them, then stop using them in favor of another topic that attracts my attention. So here I am starting another one to capture my thoughts transformed into writings.

The power of the written word only second to the one of a powerful image. I like to use them both.

So here to a new year of writing.