Yoga in Palestine

I’ve been laying in bed for days now.  The glasses of tea are stacking up on my window sill.  A box of Emergen-C is almost gone.  The hours are moving past me and my mind is returning over and over to Palestine.

I miss my friends.  I miss my family.  I miss Teta Nadia’s piano, and her beautiful sun room.  I miss Teta Abla’s olive trees.

I miss Teta Hanan’s living room and the meals we shared there.  
As I sift through the memories of my year in Palestine, there is so much that I am grateful for.  My year in the West Bank, while often quite challenging, strengthened me as a person and as a mother.  But what really solidified for me during that year is my faith in the path and practice of yoga.  When the going got rough, I turned to my practice with a consistency and tenacity that I never had before.  Among all my memories of my time in Ramallah, what stands out the most to me and makes my heart fill with gratitude more than any other experience in Palestine, is being a part of Palestine’s first ever yoga teacher training program for Farashe Yoga in Ramallah.

Mats ready for students at Farashe’s Ramallah 108 Sun Salutations Mala in Sept. 2011

Farashe Yoga is a studio in Ramallah where, alongside 2 other yoga teachers, I volunteered to teach weekly Viniyoga classes, viniyoga inspired flow classes, and a series of workshops on the use of yoga techniques to manage stress.
During my first week with Farashe it became clear that what was really needed for yoga to take root in Palestine was for Palestine to train its own teachers and teach to its own people rather than relying on foreign aid workers or visitors like me to be instructors.  So, with the help of Farashe’s other 2 yoga teachers and a colleague at a major US studio (who graciously loaned us a training manual to use as a framework), I got right to work.   After many long hours of writing, revising, practicing, and coordinating, our 3 month intensive teacher training program was launched in October of 2011.  17 women from Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah enrolled.  I had hoped for at least 4…but 17??  It was incredible.  I hope it will not be the last time I hear my class on the Yoga Sutras translated into Arabic.
Is there a need for yoga in Palestine?  Yes.

In my 12+ year teaching career I have never worked with more open minded students. These students were under immense pressure, and were dealing with far more than just getting to class on time.

Some could only get to class when a volunteer could drive them into Ramallah from their villages.  Sometimes Israeli military checkpoints closed and made attendance impossible.  There was no Lululemon and no Shambala Press.  No one had their own mat.  Everything that gets through the barricade of the Israeli occupation gets through only when there is a demand, and yoga clothes and books have not made it through the squeeze yet.  So we improvised: long johns under jilbab and pony tails under hijab.  We improvised a lot.  Our textbooks were photocopied from what we yoga teachers had on hand.  We took breaks for Adhan so that the students who are practicing Muslims would not miss their prayer times.  Lessons and discussion were translated into Arabic on the spot by volunteer students.  Outside the calm heart of the studio was the chaos of Ramallah’s town center and the ominous looking police station, while inside we discussed freeing the mind, freeing the body, and freeing the breath.  Freedom within.

my mat set up for class at farashe (OM So Ham.  Ham Sa Ha.)

from the window of Farashe, the police station and Palestinian flag

taxi depot outside Farashe

What I did with Farashe was more important than anything else I did in Palestine.  Yet somehow I barely acknowledged it here in this blog.  Perhaps this is because my life at the time was so much about the mind blowing experience of life in Ramallah.  Perhaps because I was working so hard at the balance of being a yoga teacher while being a full time mom.  Perhaps its because I felt and still feel that for me creating this training in Palestine was as intensely personal as it was an attempt to be selfless.
So today I am thankful for the year I spent in Palestine.  I am grateful to Farashe Yoga for giving me the chance to use my expertise and my love of yoga.  I am grateful to the women who participated in our training.  It was an honor to be a part of Palestine’s first ever yoga teacher training program.

opening up about the surgery.

(it took me forever to write this post.  I have to thank Shoes over at shoesonthewrongfeet for inspiring me to open up about difficult things.  I have to thank my friends and family, who listened with sympathy and without judgment to this story when I first had the courage to tell it.  An especially heart felt thank you goes to the family member who actually went to the hospital with us, who supported me, comforted me and Sufyan, and got us through the ordeal.  Here goes…).

waiting for surgery

Trauma Mama
A friend of mine commented that at the moment of a traumatic experience, something is decided about oneself.  That’s an interesting idea.  I have been mulling it over in light of something that was incredibly difficult for me to let go of.  What did I decide about myself in that moment of trauma?
In reality my “moment” stretched over hours.

And though I no longer believe about myself what I believed at the time of the traumatic incident, it was powerful and has taken work to unravel.
What I decided about myself as things fell apart around me is that I am not a good mother.  I have caused my child’s pain and suffering.   I could have stopped the forward momentum of events, but I didn’t (because I am not a good mother).   I am not as strong as I need to be to shepherd the little souls entrusted to me through their early years as humans.   My inner mama bear isn’t up to the job.  The guilt is physically painful, a cold assurance that I am not enough.

The memory

I am remembering my sweet child in his car seat, which we had to install in a friend’s car because our car didn’t have the right license to enter East Jerusalem.  I had to go alone, as my husband and co-parent was/is also not allowed into Jerusalem.

Hezmeh checkpoint on our way in

The occupation seemed especially bleak the morning of the surgery.  It’s amazing how much we rely on subliminal visual cues to orient ourselves.  I wanted something to assure me that my child would be safe, a sign that meant I could trust.  Outside the car, half-built buildings and yellow taxis flashed past us in the no-man’s land of chaos and refuse outside Qalandiya checkpoint.

near Qalandiya checkpoint

Qalandiya

I thought of how nearly every system from water to electricity that I had encountered in the West Bank was incomprehensible to me.  Kafka-esque short-cuts and jury-rigging everywhere.  Improvisations largely made necessary by the occupation.  Improvisations that often fail.  Extension cords over a street.  The lights go out when it rains.  The internet goes out when it’s windy.

This is fine when you are persisting against all odds, showing you will not be stomped out.  But this is not ok when things absolutely cannot fail.  As with surgery.  Still, I had been told that the hospital where my son would be put under full anesthesia was run by French nuns and therefore more orderly and clean that other hospitals.  Phone calls inquiring about the anesthesiologist turned up his past as head of a major anesthesiology clinic in Jerusalem that had served Palestinians as well Israelis (and this point is stressed because Israelis have access to the best care.  They have options.  The implication is that he is good at his job).  Passing beneath the ugliness of checkpoints, guns and hostility, I wanted to shield my son from the very air around us.  I learned how to say good morning in Hebrew and put on my “Nope, nothing wrong here!” face.  All to get to a doctor who I understood to be the only specialist in our area for my son.  I had done what I could to vet her.  Not only had we interviewed by phone but I had come to see her in a preliminary visit.  The doctor practiced in a way that  I approved of.  No holding a child down.  Conservative treatment.  Lots of patience with my son’s anxiety.  She was loving and kind to my son and we both liked her.  I looked into where she studied, but I have no idea how to evaluate an overseas dental school.   I looked into her creds and looked away from the the decrepit building her practice (which was contrastingly clean and welcoming) was housed in.

entrance

walking up

her sweet and clean office. We liked it there.

Looking from the building hallway into the waiting room.

When she suggested a course of treatment, I got a second opinion from our trusted doc in the states by sending my son’s X-rays to him.  We talked extensively.  He gave the treatment plan a (mostly) thumbs up.   My son wanted to listen to Fairuz and ABBA the entire way there.

ABBA cd in hand…

Oblivious and sweet.  Happy for the adventure.  I should have turned around when I saw the aging hospital.  The dismal waiting area which turned out to be the ER.  The muddy puddles and gravel visible through gaps in an unfinished wall.

on the way into the ER/waiting area

I begin to think of all the corners that could be being cut here.  All the possible, disaster-making shortcuts.  I am thinking now of the intake nurse with her red scarf tied excessively tightly on her head, making her eyebrows lift.  She is poking a tongue depressor into my child’s mouth so roughly that I grab her arm, push it away, soothe my son.

my first look into the rooms at the hospital. This is the ER. The bed was one of maybe 6 beds.

soothing him when she went away

Later, my son is getting more thirsty, more tired and more nervous.  Things are moving slowly today.  I change Sufyan into a gown that is way too big for him.  He looks very small, like a skinny little angel.

The linens on the bed are mismatched.  The comforter looks like something from someone’s house.  There is a water stain on the ceiling, a mop in the corner.

in our recovery and prep room

We wait and wait.  He’s 3 and now he’s been hours without water or food.  He is cold.  He starts to cry.  I am thinking now of the chipper nurse who told me and my now sobbing child that she had the water he was begging for.  She holds in her hand a syringe full of clear liquid.  Great, I think.  A little water.  I hug him and smile, “They brought you water, baby!”  When he opens his mouth she quickly depresses the entire syringe into it.  He screams, spits, writhes.  It is not water.  IT IS NOT WATER.  Instantly he withdraws.  He is in his lower brain of fear and survival.  I am afraid he must think that now even I cannot be trusted.  Biting back tears, I say, “WHAT WAS THAT???” to which the chipper nurse proudly answers, “Droog,” and walks out.  My mind momentarily goes blank with disbelief.  Ok, a) What drug did you just force into my child?  b) What the f*ck, lady?  c) what will the drug do to him?  Will he pass out?  What if he is allergic?  She’s gone.  No one else is coming.  (Later research shows that this was likely liquid Valium, a drug that they have generally stopped using on children in the US because it doesn’t reliably do what it’s supposed to do, and it causes nausea.  i.e. it doesn’t relax them but makes them feel woozy and powerless.  Plus it only sometimes causes an amnesia effect.  My son remembers everything.)   No time.  I have to comfort my child.  He crying and I am scared.  The machine is railroading us and we move forward.  A man that turns out to be our anesthesiologist appears outside the OR.  We are waiting on a gurney and now my son is looking drugged.

trying to smile

The anesthesiologist sees our little panda stuffed animal that is my son’s comfort toy.  Panda sports a band-aid in the same place as my son from his blood drawn this morning.  A sympathy band-aid.  The anesthesiologist takes Panda and draws a military symbol on Panda’s band-aid.  He keeps asking, “al-Jeysh, ah?”  as if 1) my son knows what the army (al-Jeysh) is at 3 years old and 2) panda needs to man up.  He doesn’t introduce himself and when I ask if he’s the anesthesiologist he barely speaks to me.  He just says “yes” and doesn’t look at me.  This is the man whose hands will hold my son’s life, I think.  The induction for surgery I can’t talk about except to say that it was terrifying.  My husband suggests I write it anyway.  Get it out.  So here is what I can write:   I was in the OR with him.  I am thinking of those eternal minutes before the surgery.  I am telling myself that this is where I have to be really strong for my son.  No tears.  He’s starting to get really scared.  So I get close to his sweet face, I get his eyes on mine.  I tell him he will be ok.  His eyes dart around, and I recognize panic.  The room is small and full of steel tables, lights, tubes, machines and people.

entering the OR

into the OR.

A thick armed man is trying to shove a mask on Sufyan and Sufyan…Sufyan swims back to the surface from his haze and begins to fight and scream.  His eyes get wide, wet, and he screams, “MAMA!!!!”  and I act on instinct.  I push this man’s hands away.  The anesthesiologist is talking to me, the thick armed man wants to force the mask immediately.  Our doctor keeps them at bay for a moment.  She is giving me a chance.  Sufyan is sort of like attached to my eyes with his eyes, his arms are around my neck, and I lay down with him this way, I talk to him.  I know he is listening.  The anesthesiologist is pushing us, saying let’s just give him the IV.  I look at Sufyan and I know the mask is the problem.  He is terrified of it.  Here is what I wrote at the time about the next few minutes:  So I think quickly and I tell Sufyan, “we have a choice baby.  You can try to take a couple breaths with the mask or we can do a little pokey.”  He chooses the mask.
At this point, the thick armed guy whose role I cannot discern except that now he is getting impatient and wants to hold Sufyan down, is getting pushy.  I tell him to back off.  Please.  I move his hands off Sufyan again.
There is more crying, I am crying.  Sufyan is crying.  I can’t see anything but Sufyan anymore.  Sufyan is fighting me, resistance turns to shear terror for Sufyan.  Sufyan is screaming.  I help him take the mask, I actually hold the mask on his face myself.  At this point I think, I know, he needs me to help him.  There are only 2 options:  strangers can hold him down and be rough with him, or I can help him accept the mask while I whisper in his ear how much I love him.  I whisper over and over “I love you so much and I will be right here.  I am right here.  I love you so much.”
In reality, it was probably about 4 or 5 breaths before he was under.  But those 4 or 5 breaths that he struggled under the mask under my own hand are an eternity of terror and agony and regret for me.  He screamed, “MAMA!!! HELP!!! KEEP ME SAFE!!!!”  He screamed into the mask.  “Keep me safe”.
And then his breathing changed and he was under. 

Breath

His breathing got weird.  It got mechanical, though no machine was attached.  I practically yelled, “IS HE ALRIGHT???  IS HE OK??? HE DOESN’T BREATHE LIKE THAT!!!” and they said, “No no.  This is right.  That is the way.  It’s perfectly normal.  It’s ok….”etc.
And they press me toward the door.  At the door the doc’s assistant, my escort out, turns to go and I fall apart completely.
“No!” I sob.  “They said I could stay! I can’t go back inside?”
“No, mama.”  She says to me, and says other things in arabic.
“But he’s my son!”  I sob.  She starts to tear up, too.  No, she shakes her head.  I beg.  She says no, it’s the rules.  So I go back to the room.

Then we wait.  We wait and wait and wait and it’s so much longer than it should be.

our view as we waited

and waited.

Eventually the assistant comes out and tells me Sufyan is fine and he is waking up.  I want to see him immediately.  She says not yet, a few more minutes.
After 10 minutes the doc comes out.  She tells me that he is fine, but that she had to do ________ and this was not in our plan.  My brain is screaming, “SERIOSLY!?!?!  you did ______ and only now you tell me?”

But I can tell she is certain this was necessary and I trust her.  Throughout this all, she has been nothing but forthcoming and kind to us.  Calmly, I ask to see him.  They consent to let me back into the initial recovery room.  Apparently this is because I am pushy enough, as no one else there that day gets to go although many people are waiting.  I quickly surmise why.  It’s ugly back there.  People are in a very vulnerable, post-operative state.  I try not to invade anyone’s privacy as I walk back.  And there he is.  Here is what I wrote at the time about these next minutes:
My baby boy, so small and so pale, is lying semi-conscious on a gurney.  He calls to me, wraps his skinny arm around my neck, and cries weakly.  He has bitten his lips and has bled at some point but it’s dry now.  He has a little dry snot and dry blood under his nose.  I don’t know why, and I don’t care because I just want to get out of here.
A brisk and slightly arrogant male nurse comes to take his vitals.  All he will say is Sufyan is fine.  “Normal,” he says to me in a thick accent.  The doc’s assistant is with us, and she is saying soothing things in Arabic.  She is kind, though I don’t know what her role is exactly.  I’m glad she’s there.  She’s very hands off.  She doesn’t touch Sufyan.  She just comments about him.
The doctor is there.  I have no idea what she is saying because I am focused on Sufyan.  She’s saying that he’s fine, probably.

second recovery room

I got him back, thank God.  He was so nauseous.   So small.  Pale and coughing, crusted and dried out around his mouth.  A little blood.  He was miserable.  Maybe this is normal after surgery, but assuring the parent of the normalcy is second only to making sure the child is actually ok.

Here is what I wrote about the next few hours:

We get a male orderly to wheel Sufyan back to his room.  I have seen this guy before, and my mental note on him said “avoid at all costs.  Weird energy.”
Which could not have been more right.  He is at Sufyan’s head, wheeling the bed.  He literally leans down into Sufyan’s blinking face so that there is no more than 2 inches between his nose and Sufyan’s eyes and says over and over in a weird low voice “HEY. BEBE.  YOU HEAR ME?”  When we get to the room, his only job is to lift Sufyan into a bed.  That’s it.  But he pauses, and my little tired, confused sufyan is laying there, and he demands, “HEY.  BEBE.  Which bed yours?  You know?  Which one?”  Sufyan can barely move, but the man keeps insisting on this question.  He asks loudly over and over.  It’s awkward.  I am trying to intervene, but I am not being allowed to get close to Sufyan, who finally realizes this man is not going away without an answer so he points to the bed on the left with one very weak finger.
“NO!”  shouts the guy.  “It’s THIS ONE! hahahahah!”
So clearly now we are in a Felini film.  Now I know this is a fever dream.  This is me freaking out.  What. The. F*ck.
The ensuing hours are Sufyan sleeping, puking, refusing to pee, no interest in water, complaining of pain in his legs and back.
Once and only once a man comes to get Sufyan’s blood O2 level and pulse (though I only found out later what it was he was measuring because no one told me at the time).  The reading on the machine was 153 and a red light flashes one word:  “HIGH”.
The guy looks at me and says, “Normal”.   And leaves us.  Forever.  I’m no expert but a red flashing word “HIGH” does not seem to mean normal to me (later research has revealed that a high pulse rate of 153 is relatively normal and expected after surgery.)  No one came to check on us for hours.  Forays into the hospital got no one’s attention.  Before she left, our doc told us no food or liquid.  The assistant, who is with us, says let him eat and drink.  I am sure she meant well, but here is what the assistant offered us in terms of help: “This is weird.  They don’t usually sleep this much,”  and “Strange.  They usually want food,” and also a shrug of the shoulders as to whether or not Sufyan’s extreme nausea was normal.  She left after an hour or so.  Maybe 2 hours.
After that, we were completely on our own.

disheveled mama takes picture in recovery room bathroom to remember the emotional impact of the moment we were about to go home. I tend to do this…not sure exactly why

Eventually Sufyan began to get better.  He used the bathroom with my help.  A male doctor came to dismiss us…he walked in like a gunslinger and pulled a hand from behind his back long enough to shine a light in Sufyan’s eyes, mouth and nose and say, “Fine.”  Then he was gone, too.
That was it.
We left.  All I cared about was getting him home.  If I could have held Sufyan on my lap all the way home I would have.  I would have let him crawl inside my skin if he had needed to.

No Wonder

No wonder I sometimes wake up in a sweat at night, reliving this.   At night I sometimes hear his breathing change from waking breath to sleeping breath and flash back to that day.

No wonder I can’t talk about it without utterly falling apart.

The surgery left Sufyan in terrible pain, by the way.  He has needed 2 subsequent surgeries to be pain-free.

The surgery, this experience, is the reason we left Palestine.  It wasn’t the occupation, it wasn’t the doctor herself, it wasn’t the adjustment or the language or the distance from “homeland” and it wasn’t the reality of daily life there (some parts of which I will probably always miss–particularly my friends).  It was this:  I no longer felt safe about having my children there.  I could no longer believe what I’d been told over and over:  that if we needed a good hospital we’d find it in Jerusalem.  To my mind, the safety net was gone however imaginary it may have been.

Tupperware
You know that place where your stomach, brain and heart overlap?  That spot in your gut that turns when you think about falling in love or the time you loved and lost something that mattered deeply?  For me, the sadness, anger, regret, and guilt are locked in a box right at that spot.  Once I look inside, I can’t easily close it up again.  I just fall into the sadness and chaos that are remnants of the trauma.  The box keeps the trauma fresh.  The box is Tupperware, apparently.  That’s a joke.
Yet clearly I want to talk about it.  It’s been absolutely begging to come out.  I don’t usually hold back, so why haven’t I, before now, written specifically about the event here on this blog?  I think it’s mainly because I want to keep the people who were involved in that day from feeling accused.  I believe the main characters had only the best intentions for us.   I believe in the midst of the chaos we also had people who showed us love and kindness.  Also, because it happened in the politically charged atmosphere of the occupation, in East Jerusalem, Palestine, I hesitated to write anything that would support anti-Palestine feelings.   Not to mention that over there, pretty much everywhere you look people have it way worse than my little story of woe.  I got my son back, after all.  I think, too, that I am sheltering myself from the judgment of the “other, better mothers” who have not made any mistakes and can therefore throw the first stone.  Never mind that they don’t really exist.  They think they do.  We moms can often be the harshest critics of other moms.  Judging each other is a way of keeping our own inner turmoil at bay.  You know how it goes:  “Well, at least I’m not doing ______ to my kid”.  Or whatever.

Lasting Effects
Another friend of mine commented that when a trauma is experienced by a mother about her children, that trauma holds a special kind of long lasting power.  Yes.  I think that might be true.

Fading Effects

However, this event is losing it’s power over me.  Finally.  I have been working very intently on letting it go.  Writing this post was a big part of it.  I no longer believe I am a terrible mom.  I see these events now as something we lived through.  Something that makes me grateful for the medical care I can access here.  I look at these events as part of our story.  The event is also losing it’s power over Sufyan.  He has been slowly getting over his fear of dental work (we are working on this together diligently) and I believe he will not be one of the many unlucky folks suffering from dental phobia.

Found Object for Today:

found in Ramallah downtown in 2011.  Looks like test prep?

Parenting Thought and Yoga Thought will return next post.  This post is long enough. 

Single Parenthood post #2. Not so bad…

New Appreciation

magnolia tree in full bloom. For my friend C, back in Austin with her new baby.

Tonight I am sitting in the dark of the playroom.  The new playroom.  Actually, the 6th new playroom my kids have known in 2 years.  Last week was abysmal.  This week has been pretty damn good, all things considered.

travel weary on the plane

Laila and Mama on the plane on the way to this new life. Also travel weary.

On a morning last week, after posting about failing as a single parent and crying myself into a tears-hangover that lasted the entire next day, I got an email from a friend who is a veteran of single motherhood.  In the email she gently reminded me to cut myself some slack in certain areas of life.  Then a flood of comments with a theme:  be more gentle to yourself.  And also:  This time is fleeting and you will have good memories of your season as a close-knit family of 3.   So true.

Since landing here, though things are difficult given that we miss Baba and Mama is taxed by trying to make things feel light and childhood-like while not dismissing anything this family has gone through, life has actually been easier than it was in Ramallah.  Easier here in someone else’s house, thousands of miles from my husband, living with an inordinate number of animals in various stages of old age and sanity, life is easier.

I might as well admit to enjoying American life a little more than I remember.  I have a totally new appreciation for the perks of life here:  hot water on demand.  Well tended roads.  Traffic laws.  Municipal systems to turn to when you need a system (who operate with a feeling of urgency in returning things to normal when something goes awry—like if the power goes out).  Public parks.  Recycling.  No Israeli Military check points, no occupation, I have not seen a dude with a gun standing on my street in nearly 2 months.  I have not seen sewage.

Deserving it?

I don’t deserve these perks more than people I left behind in Ramallah.  It’s not about deserving, it’s about access (among other things).  Access to money and political power.  Palestinians and their situation might as well be invisible here.  While cleaning in the first days here, I came across a photo from a few weeks ago that was in the NY Times, maybe even the front page.  It was of 2 Israeli soldiers firing automatic rifles.  The note under the photo simply said that Israeli soldiers had fired upon Palestinian stone throwers in the village of Al Ram.  Ho-hum.

Wait, wait, wait…they fired AUTOMATIC RIFLES on STONE THROWERS.  This is not apples to apples, or tit for tat.  This is not 2 parties at “war”.  This is automatic weapons on people wielding stones.  On a playground, if kids throw sand at other kids and the other kids retaliate with metal baseball bats, we’d say that was uncalled for, unfair and even PSYCHOTIC.  To say nothing of the fact that the people wielding stones have been living at the mercy of the power of the Israeli military and political machine for generations now.  And still, no one was talking about the incident around me.  You would think that people would be concerned about the use of such force against essentially unarmed captive civilians, particularly in America where a huge amount of our tax money pays for those weapons.  You’d think that people might be concerned enough to mention it to us, fresh from life in Palestine.  All this talk of Palestine around us ought to jog someone’s memory…but no one mentioned it.  I saved the picture for a while before it got too depressing and I tossed it.

Back off the soapbox

When I was living in Ramallah not so long ago (and a lifetime ago), I felt strongly the lack of play spaces for my kids.  Maybe that’s an understatement.  Let me rephrase:  I never shut up about the trash, dangerous playground equipment and unpredictably locked private playgrounds.  Particularly I felt the lack of outdoor play spaces that were safe enough to just let kids roam, get dirty, jump and fall without much fear (of broken glass or things that poke or things that are just too icky to mention).  We are making up for lost time it seems!

Playing outside in the mud and rain?  Check.

wet foot print art. we've had some awesome rainy days.

Beautiful nature preserves and outdoor exploring?  Check.

waterfall over a recess cave

exploring off road with grandpa.

she's so tiny.

us behind the waterfall in the cave.

of course, the outhouses left a little to be desired...here they are NOT braving the outhouse. We braved the leaves behind a tree instead.

Family neighborhood for walks and bike rides?  Check.

first real bike!

Playgrounds with a distinct lack of broken glass and/or inherently dangerous equipment?  Check.

running!

However, even with all that American life has to offer, I finally miss Ramallah.  There is always a wall of sound here, for example.  No quiet nights with echoes across the wadi.  I miss it.  There is a sense of personal freedom to do whatever you are interested in doing, but no common cause to unite people.  No occupation (good thing) but also no instant common ground (not so good).  People stay wrapped up in their own lives more, and are not as close to family.

In a way this feels like homesickness.  But as always, I am hard pressed to say where exactly home is.   I am still wondering where we belong as a family and where I belong as a person.  Luckily my kids keep me too busy to wonder for long.

Yoga Thought for Today:  on starting over

no asana photo...just this peaceful scene.

It was only 40 minutes.  My sacrum ached, my shoulders were grumbling.  I felt like I was made of lead pipes filled with cold water:  unbendable, off-balance, heavy.  But it was a yoga practice… and that’s where it starts.  It’s the fact that I have started again that matters.

Parent Thought for Today:  sleep routines that don’t match.  Soliciting advice.

sleeping Laila. It took 2 airplanes to do this.

I am currently trying to figure out what to do for my daughter.  She will not go to sleep.  After brushing and flossing my 2 kids teeth, I read books then kiss them goodnight.  I turn off the lights.  My son is asleep within 10 minutes.  My daughter stays up for another hour or more whispering to herself, talking to me, rolling side to side and up and down the bed, laughing, kicking the bed, telling jokes.  It’s super sweet…but it’s really hard to be amused instead of frustrated when the night is literally the first chance all day for me to have a moment to myself.  By which I mean clean, do laundry, put away toys…you know.  Real “me” time.  HA.

I am thinking of buying her a little tent and filling it with simple, soft toys and books and a little flashlight.  I am thinking that she might need a more time to stay up and read or play quietly while I wash my face or put away laundry nearby.  Or maybe while I wait/sleep in the bed until she is ready to sleep.  That’s my best idea.  Anyone have a better one?