Month: November 2018

Poem

poem

I have a little, blue notebook sitting on my bookshelf with almost nothing in it except for a short story I wrote 23 years ago. Sometimes I like to revisit my past. I like to explore complicated emotions from a time in my life that is long behind me.

It also doesn’t escape my attention that my complex emotions of the past are not always entirely in the past.

When I wrote this story, I called it “Poem”. I still remember writing it. I still remember the emotions going through my head when I wrote it. A part of me can even still feel them.

I’ve kept the story nearly entirely untouched. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings about it. What’s it like hearing a voice from my youth?

Poem

“God bless you, the rare, the unique, whose inner beauty and outer beauty struggle viciously for dominance, for each are uncommonly tremendous and alone would pull the most lost of souls toward them,” he said quiveringly to the one he adored.

“Please stop. I’m really not worthy of your praises,” she stated back to him, mildly indifferent.

Poem of Perfect Moments

“Today I watched a leaf fall to the ground. It swayed through the air as if it were the only breathing soul in existence and nothing around it mattered, only to fall gently to the earth in a spot where I pictured it resting for eternity. I felt as if you were standing on top of the tree dropping the leaves in order to give me such perfect moments, as I feel is the goal behind every word you bestow upon me,” he said with his fists clenched and his eyes closed.

“I really don’t deserve what you’re saying. Let’s go for a walk,” she immediately replied appearing somewhat displeased with the emotion behind the words he was saying.

Poem in the Eyes

“Did you know I spent the other night simply peering into your eyes? You were trying to tell me about last weekend, but I was trapped in the world I saw beyond your eyes. I felt as if I finally saw the mind I’ve been trying ever so hard to become one with. I saw you dancing freely. And I saw you rolling in the grass. I saw you picking flowers. I saw the thoughts that made me fall utterly in love with you,” he cried to her with unquenchable passion, fully expecting her to return his thoughts with the most appreciative of smiles.

She looked down. “I’m not really who you make me out to be. Things are not as they may appear. Please put aside your thoughts for a moment,” she replied, bitterly concerned.

Broken Poem

He chuckled naively. “With every sentence you speak to me…”

“Stop…”

“Your voice rests comfortably in my heart…”

“Please stop.”

“I don’t think I could ever possibly be angry with you…”

“Stop it…”

“This is by far the deepest relationship I’ve…”

She stood angrily and walked across the room.

A look of confusion overtook his face. She lifted her purse and turned, never once even giving him the satisfaction of a simple glance. A look of pain overtook his face. She walked from his room only to force him to assume she might return.

He waited and waited. He leaned back on his bed and buried his face in his palms. And he stared through his window at the empty ground beneath. He shrugged his shoulders and pulled at his hair. He pulled apart a flower. Then he grabbed for an old stuffed animal and squeezed it with all the strength he could muster up.

The Poem Ends

He finally settled back and accepted the fact that she was not returning. Thoughts attacked him ferociously. Confusion, pain, anger, and sorrow were whirlpooling through his mind. He couldn’t sit still for a moment.

He talked to himself for nearly three hours before calming himself. But one thought still remained dominant. After all his poetic words, after all his passion was put forth, after all was complete in his mind and after all the smoke cleared… she was right all along.

 

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Posted by jaffeworld in personal story, short story, 0 comments

The Pain is There, and the Time is Now

pain

I was damaged.

I was broken and beaten, and lying on the floor trying to recover.

And I did so in every way I could. Some were very unhealthy. I ate too much, perhaps drank too much, wasted countless hours just trying to forget my pain.

Pain and Distraction

That really was the main point, after all. To forget. To distract myself from the truth. And to never have to dwell on it and pretend like things didn’t fall apart all around me.

But it didn’t really work. At best it was a smokescreen. It provided a temporary relief from my suffering, a moment to forget how much pain my mind was in.

But the pain was still there. And if you took away the distraction for even a moment, all the pain would rush right back in.

I didn’t want an empty life. Nor did I want temporary solutions.

Pain and Greater Distractions

So I sought a turnaround in my life. I looked for greater ways to distract myself from mistakes of the past or struggles of the present.

I immersed myself into a healthy lifestyle and I threw myself into the gym, which quickly became my second home. Riding the high of endorphins, I was loving the process, and especially the results.

I picked up my guitar, which had just been sitting in my room collecting dust for years. Started writing a few songs here and there. And felt the relaxing sensation of stroking the strings and creating pleasant sounds. I felt the release of putting some of my feelings into lyrics.

I sought new friends, meaningful relationships. Meetup.com became another second home to me, and before I knew it, I was volunteering every week, hiking, and playing board games with perfect strangers. And I enjoyed all of it, and I felt myself slowly coming back to life, slowly becoming somewhat whole again.

Over the course of the next few years, I felt healed. I felt fine. Strong. Healthy. And for all intents and purposes, I was. Everything was great and moving along smoothly. Not only had I put all the pieces together, but I did it with no help.

The Unnoticed Pain

I would occasionally say things that would provoke people close to me to ask if I had been in therapy. I shrugged off their concerns, since, after all, I was fine. Since I didn’t need therapy. I had the gym. I didn’t need anyone’s help really. After all, I had done so much on my own, why would I all of a sudden seek the assistance of another?

And this slowly but surely became my norm. It was a lot more of the same. I lived from day to day, no concern for looking at anything below the surface, since everything on the outside just seemed fine and dandy.

Until it didn’t. There was darkness deep inside me. Pain I had covered up with more layers than I could ever have imagined. Some friends were able to see bits and pieces in words I would say, but no one could really know how much hurt was still there. How much hurt was eating away at me from way deep into my gut.

And then the flood gates opened. I could no longer hide the pain that was eating away at me.

Pain and the Flooding Tears

I cried more in a matter of weeks than I remember crying in the past decade. And I started seeing that my healing process was far from over. Arguably it hadn’t really begun yet.

And I called forward the troops, those out there who might know how I could proceed. Those who could give me the courage and encouragement to not back down, and to face up to the demons inside me that were creeping to the surface, and swallowing me whole.

I had no choice. The stakes were too high.

I could either retreat back into my bubble and pretend like there was nothing wrong. And I could probably do this indefinitely. After all, was I not happy before? Was I not leading a healthy and productive lifestyle?

Or I could fight back against my fears. I could confront the many pieces of myself that were harming me from the inside out, and preventing me from reaching levels of happiness so far past my comprehension.

The truth is, there really was no choice left. Once I had a taste for how my life could be, there was no going back. It was fix myself and embrace the happiness that could ensue. Or it was crawl back into my corner, pretend that life was as good as it could be, and wonder constantly what I had sacrificed. And why.

Pain and the Now

But was I too late?

I sure as hell hope not.

A few things are certain. I wish I had been more self aware a lot sooner. And taken care of myself right away.

We humans are fragile. But we often can pretend we are a lot stronger than we actually are.

I still have trauma from my youth that I’ve never really addressed properly. Instead of tackling all the issues that have crept into my life over the years, I have just watched them accumulate.

And here I am. Standing at the threshold of major changes in my life. Enormous changes that could promise me happiness beyond anything I’ve ever known.

And I’m terrified.

I’m terrified that I waited too long. I worry that I’ve let my wounds become infected, perhaps beyond repair. I fear that I now have a short amount of time to fix years worth of issues.

Never forget to take care of yourself. Never forget to look deep within yourself to see where pain lies, and injuries need to be healed.

And always remember the best time to do this is right now.

Before it’s too late.

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Posted by jaffeworld in opinion, personal story, 0 comments

Five Health and Fitness Myths that Need to Die Already

Health and Fitness Myth

I have been immersed in the world of health and fitness for several years now, and there are several health and fitness myths that pop up time and time again. Their time has long passed and these myths are not only confusing, but they are downright harmful.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I had the power to somehow put these to rest forever? I know I don’t… But at least I can try and do my part. Or at the very least, I can rant a little… which always feels good.

Health and Fitness Myth #1: BMI is an Efficient Way of Determining Healthy Weight

BMI (Body Mass Index) is the stupidest measurement of healthy body weight in existence, and won’t seem to die. Doctors still use it. Trainers still use it. People still go online to check to see “where they’re holding”.

BMI is useless. It takes into account age and height (and sometimes gender), and not a single other factor. It doesn’t deal with body type or shape. And it certainly doesn’t take into account body consistency. That means an extremely athletic, muscular man can be considered obese by BMI standards, since they are “heavy” due to lean muscle weight.

I have a few pounds to lose here and there, for sure. But I’m broad shouldered with a good deal of muscle. So according to BMI, I’m on the very high end of overweight. Anyone who would look at me would know this is ridiculous, and if these are the standards, then we’re all in terrible, terrible trouble.

There are many fine ways to determine if you’re at a healthy weight, including taking your measurements and the good ole mirror. But please let BMI rest painfully in its grave!

Health and Fitness Myth #2: Running is the King of All Exercises

The story is an old one. He’s decided to get in shape, so he’s grabbing his running shoes and pounding the pavement. And a week later the only exercise he’s doing is mass Cheetos consumption.

The  truth is, running can be a wonderful exercise. It can also massacre your knees, and is frankly a miserable chore to 99.4% of the universe. There are many, many exercises out there that are not only easier on your system, but the most important thing is that you find them enjoyable. It should be a complete given that the exercise you do will always be infinitely better than the exercise you don’t do.

Search around for something you enjoy that makes you feel good. Then do it. Do it often and repeatedly. Go hiking. Play Dance Dance Revolution. Take a combat pole class. Don’t just do something because it feels like it’s the only choice due to society’s unwillingness to embrace diversity. Do what’s good for you!

Health and Fitness Myth #3: Abs Training

I recently got into a bit of an argument with someone because they were looking for an exercise class that focused on reducing fat and shaping the abs area. I told her there was no such thing; those who make the claim are just using a gimmick to get people’s attention.

I realized quite quickly we were going in circles. She wasn’t at all ready to accept what I was saying, and all I wanted to do was just hit my head against a wall.

Fact: There is no such thing as an exercise course, type, or program that can focus on the location where fat is reduced on the body.

Fact: Some exercises are more intense than others. They will therefore burn more calories and have a greater impact on your metabolism. However, if you hate them and stop after a couple of weeks, it’s not really worth it.

Fact: Trends pop up over and over again. One day it’s yoga, the next it’s Cross Fit, the next it’s naked hippo wrestling (not popular yet… but maybe I finally found my million dollar idea). They’re all great! So long as you love them and stick with them, you will get in better shape, burn calories, and ultimately have a smaller waist.

Just don’t fall for anything that claims it is the secret to trimming your core. Because the truth is and always has been, there only is one secret: Hard work.

Health and Fitness Myth #4: Low Fat is Healthy

Yes, it is true that if you reduce or remove the fat from an item, the calories will be inherently reduced. However, there are two major flaws here.

First, there are age-old misconceptions in the perspective of fat. Fat does not make you fat. It doesn’t. I swear to you! Some fats are most certainly better than others. And believe it or not, some are downright healthy and completely recommended in a healthy diet.

Second, it’s rare that fat is removed and then they’re done. Normally fat reduction will interfere with flavor, so they’ll make up for it by replacing the fat with something else, which is likely chemicals or copious amounts of sugar. Chemicals are a whole other discussion, one that is understudied, but come on. I don’t think anyone really believes that stuff is meant to be consumed by humans. Or that the industry cares whether or not it’s harming us. But sugar we know is bad news. So, you’re taking natural fat out of a product that may actually be good for you, and replacing it with something that is likely or definitely causing us harm.

But boy are we ever attracted to that “low fat” label…

Health and Fitness Myth #5: Protein Bars are a Good Source of Nutrients

Protein bars are candy bars with a bunch of soy crap in them. With, of course, brilliant marketing.

Every time I see someone eating one of these glamorized piles of sugar, I wince. They spend an hour in the gym working their butt off, knock out a good solid 300-400 calories, only to suck down two Cliff bars at the end, giving themselves a calorie surplus, a whole bunch of nasty sugar, and a false sense that they have consumed a bunch of muscle-building protein.

Throw these bars in the trash. Save some money. And figure something else out. Anything. A whey protein shake. Beef jerky. An apple with some natural peanut butter. But stop being fooled by an industry that doesn’t really care about your healthy lifestyle goals and just wants your hard-earned cash.

 

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Posted by jaffeworld in Fitness, Health, 0 comments

Eleven Most Defining Moments of My First Two Years in Israel

defining moments

It’s been two years since I’ve moved back to Israel. There have been ups and downs. Many of both. I’d like to dedicate this post to speaking about the eleven most defining moments of these two years. These are eleven events or moments that had and continue to have an endless impact on the success of my experience here.

*Full disclosure: I wrote this post many, many months ago. It was only going to be ten items. I kept #8 in here, more than anything for its irony and retroactive humor. And the newest item jumped ahead to the #1 spot. That is how unexpected this fortune truly was in my life.

Defining moments:

11) I Started Hosting for Shabbat of a Lifetime

The moment I found out this was a thing, I wanted to jump on board. And since then I’ve delightfully filled my home with Shabbat guests from North Carolina to Urk to Adelaide. I’ve met an 82-year old Jew from Switzerland coming to Israel for his first time, making sure to get here before he leaves this world. I’ve entertained college students on an entrepreneurial tour of Israel. And I’ve paused for a moment of silence alongside Dutch guests, as we commemorated the Holocaust while they were doing the same throughout Holland.

I’ve enjoyed every moment. Sometimes I’m shocked it took me so long to find this!

1o) Removed the Stressors

At some point along the way I realized there were little things that were causing me undo stress in Israel. Most obvious were the buses and the grocery store. I know it might sound trite, but both experiences made me so frustrated and hostile, that I knew I needed to seek some sort of change.

At this point, my entire life is basically within walking distance of my apartment. The longer walks don’t bother me. They’re actually quite enjoyable. And much more so than any bus ride here!

And I found a grocery store right under my gym that, despite having definite room for improvement, doesn’t make me want to leave the place and start smashing everything I see.

9) Started this Blog

Blogging for me is a profoundly important hobby. I’ve got four decades worth of processing to do, and I know that if I can get my thoughts, feelings, and experiences onto paper in a coherent fashion, each time I’m a step closer to healing the many wounds that have accumulated over the years.

Writing these 60+ posts for over a year now has provided a high level of catharsis, so much so it’s inspired me to write and publish my first eBook. And the moment I clicked the button to publish, I was already starting to write the next one.

8) I Stopped Dating

When I moved here, people started to try and set me up with dates right away. Everyone knows someone who’s looking to get hitched… and, well, I guess I could potentially help them cross names off their hit list.

But I wasn’t enjoying it. At all. I wasn’t ready. Didn’t know when or if I ever would be. But one thing is for certain: I was enjoying every day of my life. And removing an element from it that just annoyed and frustrated me had freed up my days to just grow and learn and smile and thrive.

7) I Got My Current Job

I love the company I work for and the lifestyle it allows me to have. But what’s truly amazing is how my work situation came to be.

When I was moving back to Israel, I heard from countless sources that securing a job before stepping foot in Israel is impossible. Impossible! Not challenging, not unlikely. Impossible.

But I couldn’t accept that. With not a whole lot of cash at my disposal, four children, and pushing 40, I was not about to cross the ocean and start over again without a source of income. I was not about to sleep on couches and hope for the best.

I persisted. And I pulled out every resource I could find. And in a matter of months I was training for my current role, getting myself ready to work full time on my second day in Israel. It feels like a miracle. And I feel blessed.

6) I Jumped out of a Plane

Yes, it was a fun, once-in-a-lifetime thrill. But it was so much more than that for me. I’ve maintained a bucket list for years, but since then I had watched as only one barely significant item got crossed off the list. That is, until I tackled bucket list item #1. There were times along the way where I thought many of the items would just be forgotten. Going skydiving gave me renewed hope that there’s nothing I can’t and won’t try and accomplish.

5) I Moved into the Right Apartment

I’ve amassed ten years of living in Israel. Throughout those years I have faced more apartment issues than you can imagine, from plumbing issues to cockroaches to crazy neighbors. And in all those years I have never had a landlord I  liked or trusted… until now. My apartment is fantastic. I love my neighborhood. And my landlord is absolutely wonderful.

I’ll never forget when there was a tiny drip in my bathroom. Based on prior experiences, I was afraid to even tell him. He began dealing with everything right away and thanked me for letting him know!

In my previous neighborhood, I felt like I was living inside one gigantic, loud, dirty party that I wasn’t even invited to. But I can actually see myself living here for quite some time. Who knows? Maybe forever.

4) I Moved Closer to My Daughters

One of the perks of my new apartment is I am super close to my daughters. We can and do see each other all the time. For my first ten months in Israel I was not just living in the wrong neighborhood, but it was bit of a schlep to get to and from my three beautiful angels. Now we can see each other whenever we want. It’s never complicated or inconvenient. I sometimes bump into them by accident. Need I say more!?

3) I Got a Dog

March 4th, 2017, the most amazing, adorable creature became a huge part of my life. I adopted Frank knowing full well there would be challenges and tons of responsibility. However, I had three goals in mind: 1) I wanted my son to have some more responsibility in his life. 2) My two youngest daughters were terrified of dogs, and I wanted to get rid of that. But more than anything: 3) I wanted my son to feel what I call “dog love”. That incredible, unadulterated, unconditional love that dogs excel in more than any human.

My son embraced the responsibilities like a champ. My daughters not only adore Frank, but they will interact with all dogs now. And my son couldn’t imagine a world without him. Frank has truly become a member of our family.

2) My Son Moved in with Me

On my second day in Israel, my amazing son moved in with me and has been living with me ever since. Every single day our relationship gets better and stronger.

When my children moved away from me, it easily could have destroyed me. It almost did. This has been the biggest factor in my recovery. I returned to Israel not just to be closer to my children, but to actively be a father to my son every day of his life.

He’s so happy to be living with me. But my joy is worlds beyond what he could ever fathom.

It was without a doubt the most significant of my defining moments since returning to Israel.

Until…

1) I Met, Dated, and Got Engaged to Devorah Levine

Oh, the irony. I stopped dating (#8)… and a year later met the woman of my dreams (basically by accident). There’s so much to say about our beautiful relationship. I imagine there will be many posts to come on just about my favorite subject.

You could easily argue I should have left #8 off my list, but I still think it’s a big part of my story, and arguably the only reason I was able to meet and date Devorah was because I was not looking.

Devorah, meeting you isn’t just the most defining moment of the last two years. It’s the most defining moment of my entire life. Moving back to Israel was not easy, and I’ve doubted the decision many times along the way. But I doubt it no longer. I am beyond grateful that you are in my life.

I love you. Now and forever!

 

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Posted by jaffeworld in personal story, 2 comments