My Tovah Project: Coping with Grief

I’m grieving. I judge my grieving. Is it enough? Is too much? Will I spin out and lose control? For the first few weeks after my precious daughter died of cancer, I could only tell people, “I am broken”. I felt disbelief, loss, confusion and I was just so, so, so sad. Just sad and lost. I have been trying to find my way out – who will I be? How will I be? What will help to heal my heart? Who do I need? What do I need? What can hold my attention?

I never had a long attention span but since she died, it is even shorter. What can I do to honour Tovah’s memory?I created a memory wall in my home. It is here that I stand each day recite the Mourners Kaddish (prayer).I planted 18 olive trees in Palestine in Tovah’s name. You can do that too https://zatoun.com/trees-for-life/

Tovah’s Memory Wall

Tovah and I had so much faith that she was not going to die. We believed that a miracle would come. She told me every day that she felt her soul was in her body and that she didn’t feel like she was dying. I believed her with all my heart. We prayed every day. We wrote out our gratitudes every day. I wrote sigils on her that symbolizes healing.

Sigil for Refuah Shlemah, a complete healing

I understood we would have a long recovery ahead and that her health would be precarious but I believed that she would live. This was not how it was supposed to be. Tovah lived only 4 months after her cancer diagnosis. I’ve lost my baby girl and I miss her so much.

Tovah had a generous heart. She loved helping people and we know this for sure from the stories her friends continue to share with us. Tovah gave money to causes and she would often come to me to help her with a friend in need.

Recently an old friend contacted me and explained that he doesn’t have the money to send his daughter to university. We met 15 years ago in Jericho and have remained good friends ever since.My first time in Jericho spring 2005.

Jericho spring 2005

His daughter, Alaa, has dreamed of becoming a doctor for as long as she can remember. She and I had a video chat last week and I immediately knew that I wanted to help her. I felt a deep internal call to do this – I know Tovah would get behind me.

Alaa’s graduation 2020

I am calling it my Tovah Project. I want to raise money to send Alaa to university. She graduated with a 94 % average. She’ s sweet and shy and smart!I set up a new bank account and I named it Tovah’s Project. I will send the money directly to the university in East Jerusalem. Alaa will live at home and commute. She lives in a refugee camp near Jericho. She needs $4000 USD immediately for the first 4 month semester.

I lived in Haifa from 2004-2006. The situation in Palestine was very bad then and has only gotten worse over the past 14 years. So much worse and the opportunities for young people are very, very limited. The Occupation crushes the hopes and dreams of Palestinian youth.

I remember the day Tovah and I talked about the situation one day in late 2004 and I explained what I was learning about the situation of the Occupation and the brutal actions of the Israeli government to the Palestinian people. I told her about the organizations I was now working with. A few months later, I told both Raya and Tovah that I was called to stay and that I wanted to continue working to end the Occupation and to help the Palestinian people. I remember how supportive they both were..

I hope you will help me to help Alaa. She will make a difference and so can you. No donation is too small. $5, $10, $100. A share is as good as a donation so please repost the link on your social media. GoFundMe Help to Send Alaa to Al Quds University

My Mother’s Day Rant – Wishing you Joy and Happiness

It’s Mother’s Day and my birthday.  I am such a lucky woman.  Totally blessed with loving daughters, a lovely little apartment, a small pension, a great little job that I can do from home (teaching English to children in China online) and more than enough.  My cupboards are generally filled and I am able to have a few of those luxuries that make me smile and add to my contentment.

 

Some people don’t think I have a lot but I have everything that I want and need. To others I have a heaping helping of abundance.  I have so many friends that have been devastated from the military occupation of Palestine – homes destroyed, children murdered……that is what the opposite of my life can look like.

But my joy and sense of abundance is not in comparison to others, it’s just what I feel.  Nothing works more successfully for my sense of joy than writing out my Gratitudes.  This is a habit I acquired more than 20 years ago.  I was inspired by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her Simple Abundance book, by Oprah, and by the Secret (book and film).  I write out 5 things that I am grateful for from the previous day.  If I get off this path and I start to feel lousy, I reboot with this practice and quickly am restored to my grateful and abundant self. I always urge others to just give it a 14 day trial and just see how it feels.

simple-abundance

I love a little self indulgence – cosmetics, having my hair coloured and styled (yup, folks, I am not a real blonde!!), acquiring new clothing (at least, new to me), dressing up my living space, flowers, plants…………..I love surrounding myself with “pretty things” and I love delicious, fresh and healthy food!  I also totally adore my daughters and my grandson!

 

 

I know there are so many people that just can’t acknowledge Joy – they feel so deeply the hurting in our world.  I understand it but if I don’t indulge myself, if I don’t create balance for myself, I won’t have the energy to help others and to be a dissident voice on this planet. I am all about balance.

Now on my Priestess path – my ordination as a Kohenet is just a year away – I believe that we are created in the image of the Divine.  I am so blessed to feel that Love and Inspiration. I encourage those of you who can find that Presence to embrace it – to Love yourself.  I encourage you to acknowledge your Gratitudes, to indulge in what you love, to smile even when it hurts.  “Fake it til you make it, Baby.” The People are rising – let’s change this world.  Let’s make a difference!  Let’s spread love and respect.  This is your day!

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Story of commitment, a boat, justice and peace

Ten years ago, I planned a 1 year sabbatical to travel as a volunteer to 4 different countries.  The first stop was Palestine and it was there that everything changed.  I chose to stay for 2 years and become part of the struggle for a just peace for Palestine.  It was very important to me as a Jewish woman.  If you are interested in this story go to my blog at Sandra for Just Peace and read the archived blogs listed from January to June 2006. They tell the story from December 2004 – June 2006.  http://miriamswell1.wordpress.com/  I refer to this time as unpeeling the onion as I discover the atrocities inflicted on the Palestinian people.

Women in Black
Naomi O’Hara and me, Women in Black, Haifa 2004

I have been very fortunate to have traveled to many destinations but most of that travel was through work – as an activist and also back when I was a travel agent and travel instructor.  I travelled on fam (familiarization) trips with groups of agents and also as a Tour Escort.  When my daughters were growing up, our holidays usually were car trips to the east coast (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) or to Clearwater, Florida.  We did spend a summer in Oslo, Norway selling t shirts, costume jewellery and African crafts but that is a whole story in itself. Later I travelled as a peace activist.  This 3 week holiday is just that – a holiday- to visit an area I have fantasized about and to open a new chapter in my Life Story. Ten years later, I am still passionate to see this Just Peace become reality but it time for me to change how I am walking in the world.  I am rebirthing my business as a healer and teacher, “Miriamswell Healing Care” in Toronto.  I am a Reflexologist and a Doula who uses a variety of  healing modalities in my practice.  I facilitate workshops in foot massage, aromatherapy, homemade beauty products, homemade cleaning products, vision books, meditation and more.

Imagehttp://miriamswellhealingcare.com/

I came to Greece in March, 2011 for the Canadian Boat to Gaza.

The steering committee realized the only way to complete our project was to have someone on the ground in Greece.  They sent me to buy a boat.  The boat needed to be refurbished to take 45 activists from Aghios Nicholas, Crete to Gaza, Palestine.   I hired a captain and a crew. I hired a lawyer who we could trust.  Together he helped to open a company and a bank account. We chose a country to flag the boat.  We purchased insurance.  I found help to plan a menu for 45 people for 10 days and then purchased the food.  I also purchased $30,000 in medicines to take to Gaza.  Everyday involved a huge learning curve.  I was away from home for 5 months.  When the Greek government locked down our boat refusing to let us leave the port, we decided to stage an escape in protest.  The Greek coast guards captured our boat after about 20 minutes.  Everyone on board in a great Spartacus moment claimed to be the captain.

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Awesome international Tahrir team of Canadians, Australians, Danish and Belgium with our Greek crew

The Greeks were reluctant to arrest 35 foreigners so they arrested me instead since I was the registered owner of the boat.  I was arrested with two others, convicted and given a 30 day suspended sentence.

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Released from detention and overwhelmed from the support of my friends, Aghios Nicholas, Crete, July, 2011

Eventually the other activists left and I stayed another month in Aghios Nicholas living on our boat “The Tahrir”. Finally we had permission to leave and I sailed with the captain and 2 crew members to Turkey.  I even got to drive the boat for an hour or so, on my own.

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Me on the Tahrir, July 2011

Now I am back in Greece and this time I am a tourist.  I am here to see Greece without an agenda.  Greece holds many memories. I made lifelong friendships.  I am here to remember and I am here to appreciate this wonderful country.