Settling In

Up to this point, I have been rebuilding my own life from the ground up. Rebuilding inside and outside. Therapy has helped on the inside and for the outside I have acquired shoes and clothes and lots of books and yarn.

This week I have taken a new step in the rebuilding process.

I had some of my furniture still left in my old house. It hurts me so much to be there that I cry tears of such pain every time we have to go there. Scott and I had planned to get the boys to help and on Thursday this week, we would move my cherished furniture from my old house to my new house — the house Scott and I share.

I was entirely too upset to be a part of the “festivities” so I stayed home and worried myself into a migraine and upset stomach while the move was made but I was so happy when they arrived home and everything was brought inside.

We celebrated with pizza and donuts and by putting our bed together last night. We couldn’t get the box springs up the steps (they say that love grows best in small houses but come on!) but we still had the slats under the mattress so until we can get a set of separated box springs, it works.

In the meantime, there’s a lot more storage space which after rebuilding with clothes and shoes and books and yarn, I need a LOT of. AND there’s a lot of organizing, rearranging and homemaking to do.

And that, I think is the next step in my rebuilding. When I was out shopping last evening, I looked at tablecloths and bedspreads and dishtowels instead of clothes and cute socks. I think I am moving onto thinking of things around me and outside of myself.

I am moving onto making my house into my home and that’s a huge step forward for me…a long way from where I was two years ago and yet, a long way still from where I hope to be in two years.

There is a difference though that is the key. This time around I have dreams and I see myself in them.

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Recapturing Shabbat

I’ve talked before about how all of my issues over the last two years caused me to fall horrendously down the ladder of observance.  I particularly miss my Shabbats.

Shabbats in Israel were particularly special to me.  I spent them usually alone with my Boy, and we’d often take some smoke on our nargila (hookah) which I know is BAD but which we found to be SO Israeli and so relaxing, to start our Shabbat.  We’d listen for the Shabbat siren to sound signaling when we’d watch the Jerusalem sun begin to set and we’d light candles together.  Then we’d bless the wine and challah I’d bought that day and have the wonderful meal I’d cobbled together.

I loved it.  WE loved it.

Then we came back and were separated and even though eventually we were brought back together, baruch Hashem, I’d seemed to have lost everything.  I was pretty much homeless and couldn’t drive.  I was living in a home that I wasn’t yet comfortable in and I wasn’t comfortable with being me.  I was deeply troubled and depressed.  That year I couldn’t even bring myself to acknowledge the High Holy Days, much less celebrate them.

I HAVE started to feel better and I feel much more at home both in my skin and in my surroundings.  I made it to Rosh Hashanah services this year and celebrated the holiday as best I could with festive meals at home but Shabbat, Shabbat has eluded me for some reason.

Oddly since Scott and I became engaged, I have stressed that it’s very important for me that he convert before we marry.  So…since he was interested anyway, he has chosen to take the step now.  And…given that, we are attending conversion classes together.

The topic this week was Shabbat and on the way home Scott said it was curious why sometimes I lit candles and sometimes I didn’t.

Right then and there I knew that as important as I knew it had been for Evan when  was growing up (and even now – he will light sometimes when I don’t but not every week) it is now just as important for Scott’s fledgling neshama…maybe more so since he is so new to ALL of this and religion in general.

So this week I got over it.  I made challah (which I HAVE been doing pretty much every week since the beginning of this year) and I baked a sour cream bundt cake for everyone to enjoy.  I made chicken in the crock pot and a cholent in the other crock pot for today.  We lit candles, blessed the children, blessed the wine and challah and ate together.  Havdallah candles were found and grape juice placed at the ready.

I made Shabbat come and I am really glad I did.  I watched the Shabbat candles glow and then fade out and I felt happy that I had tried and succeeded.

We attended services on Saturday morning and as I prayed the long lost but familiar prayers I knew they were and always would be a part of me, just like Shabbat.  I just had to make them come out and just like Shabbat…they were there all the time.

I really just had to light the candles to see that and watch it glow in everyone’s faces.

What Makes You Happy

It’s easy to write a blog post about those things that make me unhappy…and Lord knows I have written a lot of those lately.  But what about those things that make me happy?  I know it shouldn’t be that hard so why don’t I write more about them?  Tonight I plan to do just that.

Sometimes when I am in the abyss it’s hard to think of anything that would make me really HAPPY.  I mean what IS happiness anyway?  But the reality is I know what happiness is.  Happiness is beig with my son even when he’s rambing away for the gabillionth time about exacting revenge on the unsuspecting victim of the day as his alter ego, the Oera Ghost.  Happiness is looking at my two freaky dogs when they are sleeping and wanting to hug and kiss them.  Happiness is listening t o “I’m Just a Gigilo” at the end of my walk when I am on my way home.  Happiness is hugging Scott when he comes home from work.

See?  That’s not so hard.

Happiness is knowing Shabbat is right around the corner.  Happiness is being an Israeli citizen and aving had the greatest experience in my life of living in Jerusalem with my son.  Happiness is having a warm home and a soft bed and heat and air conditioning and a mixer to make cookies with.  Happiness is having running water.  Really.

Happiness is having a best friend who listens when the going gets rough and who isn’t afraid to say, hey, listen to ME when I get lost in myself.  Happiness is being safe.  Happiness is being loved.

There are so many things to be happy about.  Probably way more than there are to be sad or angry about but sometimes it seems that the bad things seem so enormous and overwhelming.  At least to me they can be consuming.

I hope that when I am down or sad or overwhelmed I’l remember to come back to this post or even just to my private journal and be happy in the moment because there are so many happys to put the bads in their place.

Taking Back My Name

Everyone always tells me that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet when I get sad about losing my Israeli name – Eli.

For 2 years I was Elianah or Eli and I loved it.  Elianah-Sharon.  I still say it the Israeli way – Sha-RON – in my head.  Of course once my plane touched down back in the US, I was Sharon again.  It just never felt right after that.  Not Israeli Sharon – a foreigner even to myself.

I wish there was some way I could just retake the name I took when I immigrated, the name on my Israeli papers.  But I can’t without changing it legally here.  There’s a little hope that MAYBE when I marry again I can change it, making Sharon my middle name and Elianah my first name.

With my luck though….

Tonight though I did change it a little.  I changed it on Facebook and while that seems insignificant and petty and really, it is….it meant a lot.

I am socially phobic.  The only people I regularly interact with ARE on Facebook so while it was a trivial step, it was an important one to me.  I changed it here as well.  This is my home on the web so I should be myself here.  I should be who I am inside and that person will always be Elianah-Sharon.

Yeah, I get that a rose by any other name…and that’s true.  But I also get that we have to feel comfortable in our own skins and this makes me feel comfortable in mine.  I’m kind of letting a flag fly and that’s kind of scary because whereas I have been hidden for so long, this kind of puts me right out there for everyone to see.  And maybe hurt.

It’s scary.

But being me is more important and we shall see what kind of a risk this really is won’t we?

Memories – Tic Tacs, Velveeta and Baseball

I spent every summer with my grandmother to the point that a lot of my childhood memories revolve around the things that we did together and the memories I have of her.

I remember the blankets on the beds – blue flowery bankets edged in teal satin.  Her perfume – that dark brown, “grandmother” perfum from Estee Lauder called (interestingly) Youth Dew.  Her Adorn hairspray.  The aluminum gliders on the porch.  Fireflies in the twilight.  The tree in the back yard.  The peonies in the front yard.  How she would sneak a cigarette on the back porch while my grandfather was working in his study.  Laundry day and the laundry chute.  Sewing with her in the basement.  The way the books in the basement smelled and being scared of what really was behind THAT wooden door down there!

She, my grandfather and I would sit on their bed and watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball on KDKA every night they were on.  If they weren’t on we would listen to them on the radio and if it was a really special night, we would go INTO Pittsburgh to see the game at Three Rivers Stadium!  I loved each of those nights and love the Buccos to this day!  I can still hear her kvell about her favourite players.  When I was an exchange student in New Zealand the Pirates made it to the World Series and not only did my grandmother send me Heinz ketchup that year but she also send me all kinds of Pirate memorabilia that was in all of the stores so I wouldn’t miss out.

She was a home ec teacher and taught school for 30 years before she retired.  My dad decided to take bartending school in Pittsburgh so while he would be in school, my grandmother would teach me to sew.  I made a really geeky polyester outfit but the time we spent together making it remains priceless. I wish I had a sewing machine even now because I love sewing that much.  When I was little and lived with her before my mom married my dad, my grandmother not only dyed her own shoes…she also made all of her own clothes.  That’s some serious respect you’re seeing from over here!

I still have her teaching cookbook which I use a lot.  Her favorite recipes are marked in it.

One thing though she couldn’t stand were vegetables and the way she choked them down was copious quantities of Velveeta melted on them.  I was basically starved at home since my parents were never there and school lunch was our only meal most of the time so this delicacy of Velveeta and broccoli or french cut green beans was like nectar!

And as far as I was concerned, her only really bad habit was her smoking.  I think because of it I can jokingly say she became addicted to Tic Tacs.  I know now that when I pop one in my mouth, that sweet vanilla mint outer coating makes me think immediately of her.  The smell of Youth Dew wafts around me and my grandmother is right there again.

I hope she knows how many memories she gave me and how very much I miss her.  She is so much a part of who I am and tehe person I have become…more so I think than even my mother.

Tic tacs, velveeta, baseball and everything.

 

 

Today

Today is a day where I feel really good and am getting a lot accomplished.  So far:

  • I have slept until 6:00AM (not a small feat at all given MY track record of being up at 4am which, to be honest, I kind of felt cheated out of when I lost some of my “quiet time)
  • Done a load of dishes (the kitchen threw up on itself this weekend…I didn’t feel good Saturday or yesterday so there was a LOT of catchup since I forbid Scott to do them)
  • I vacuumed the living room AND the dining room
  • I got the trash together for The Boy to remove
  • I watched countless episodes of Say Yes To The Dress and cleaned up the DVR
  • I combed my hair
  • I watched Morning Express a gazillion times
  • I read an article about the Israeli offensive, “Protective Edge”
  • I read an article about the migrant crisis down south
  • I took my meds on time
  • I dusted the living room, straightened up my “nest” area and have two sleeping dogs to show for it
  • I made french toast
  • I have eaten 5 slices of provolone cheese
  • I drank two steaming mugs of tea and learned there is a HUGE difference between Yorkshire Gold and your top shelf store bought US variety (sadly)
  • I watched a preview for “Tammy”
  • I washed my bear, Edward’s, hair after a BAD cedarwood essential oil mishap
  • I ordered Evan a new ACCESS card (don’t even ask…his was thrown away)
  • I listed to Evan tell the dogs a story before he left with his “colleague” (read: aide)
  • I watched the rain
  • I checked out how my shamrock plants are doing

Not bad for 11:30 AM huh?

Fireside Chat With The Autism Mom: Life After the Autism Waiver

My son, Evan, is 21.  We were out of the country immediately after his graduation from high school which was an incredible experience.  I have to tell you, Israel is DA BOMB for autism services.  There are services for babies, little kids, big kids and adults.

TONS OF SERVICES!

So many services that they apologize to you for not being able to get your kid into a group home (if they so choose) for 6 months to a year.

SERIOUSLY???

In the US, you’re lucky to have a multi-year wait much less the blink of an eye that is a year. We really appreciated the services there but…all good things much come to an end and we returned last March for various reasons.

I got Evan back into therapy again at the John Merck Center here in Pittsburgh that specializes in autism spectrum disorders and their treatment.  Then I got him back with his case management service that helps provide various services he needs.  Unfortunately, the state cannot provide adequate services to everyone who needs them.

You know the drill…there are other children more severe than your child, yada yada yada.  So we got limited funding which would get him a community aide for a few hours a week and at least get him out of the house and into the community. This was especially important since I was having seizures (and still am) and lost my license last September.  We live in a pretty happening area but you need wheels to MAKE it happen.  It’s kind of disappointing to me to miss out on it all (although since I am agoraphobic it’s really not as bad as I make it sound – I’m all “big dog on the porch” though, to talk about it!)

Evan feels so isolated because in Israel we were in Jerusalem and it was like paradise. He figured out the bus system and with his monthly bus card, he could go anywhere the buses or light rail went, including school which made him so much more independent.  He knew the bus system so well, when stranded at the mall by a visiting friend, he called and told me he had it covered and walked in the door 20 minutes later. He could shop on his own, buy iced coffee (an Israeli treat and very unlike the US version) and generally do the weekly shopping if asked and given the credit card.  He was Mr. Jerusalem and absolutely blossomed there – including becoming fluent in Hebrew!

But now we’re home and there aren’t any buses and so he does feel kind of trapped.

Well, I was informed by our case manager that some full waiver slots were coming open.  What that would mean is that Evan would have $30k to use for aides, supported work situations, camps, programs and other goodies we can’t even begin to imagine.  When we had the original money for the aide for a few hours a week, we couldn’t even find an organization that could provide a local aide or even an aide close to Evan’s age.  We had used the services before Israel and basically he would go out for dinner and an evening at Barnes and Noble with a kid who probably couldn’t get a better job.  That discouraged us this time too since we wanted someone local to keep him in touch with his new community but also someone closer to his own age (they sent a grandma once) who could be more of a buddy and not so obviously an aide.

Once I heard full waiver slots were open, I started my campaign to get them for my son.  I called everyone I could think of, including the county social worker who would hold the determination conference, and begged.

I talked about my epilepsy and how my inability to drive really limited Evan’s life. I knew he was on the list but I didn’t know if he’d make the cut.  After all, they were reviewing ALL the individuals, some older and some younger, and some with greater need.  It was a crapshoot whether we’d get funding or not but I made sure I brought his case before the right people and fought the good fight.

And…he was the first to receive waiver funding this year. What this means is that he has this funding for life.  FOR LIFE!  Unless we move, of course, which I don’t think we would even consider unless we went back to Israel but I don’t see that happening except for vacations. He has 25 hours a week of aides who come to take him out, play basketball and do artwork with him.

It’s overwhelming actually to go from zero to 100 mph in such a short time period but I can see, while he is tired and a bit overwhelmed, he is happy. He gets to go to baseball practice and play on another league he wanted to join.  The girls who are his aides are his age and they play basketball and catch and color with him when he wants to.  They take him shopping with them and out to lunch.  He is 5th on a waiting list now for supported employment.  His psychiatrist and I think this is a great option right now as he prepares for regular employment (if he wants…but its his choice.)

Right now his days are filled which is exactly what I wanted for him.  And my heart is filled for him.  His world has opened and it’s his for the taking.  He arranges what he and his aides will do, he makes calls to schedule things and actually used the internet to find the local library’s address the other day so he could go there. I am so proud of him and glad that people listened to me with compassion for him.  That’s what we need more of.  I thank those people who made this possible.  I actually called and thanked the county social worker who I doubt gets much thanks for the hard decisions she has to make. But we thank her.

And every time I see the smile on my kid’s face after his aides are gone for the day, I thank her even more.