I tend to say that my mother’s mental illness set me free.
But that way of putting it came only after having digested the challenging experiences of my childhood and realising the deeper sense of meaning it had to offer.
The biggest irony is that for the better part of 30 years of my life I didn’t believe in mental health support (“look how it failed with my mother!” was my thought). So the last thing on earth I’d envisioned as a future for myself was to be one of those people.
I was to become a ballet dancer in New York. Or a ferocious activist fighting to save the planet. Now, I’m somehow doing a bit of both by dancing with the waves of life and helping people heal the wounds that otherwise create more wounds.
So let me tell you more about that.
It was a sunny day. I was sitting on a street bench with Liat, my then best friend from ballet class. Liat’s face lit up as she told me about her latest session with her psychologist.
If it hadn’t been for our strong bond of friendship and our shared childhood stories I’d have dismissed her comments with my usual cynicism and unbelieving.
I thought I had left the past in the past—the dark room with a weeping mother I came back to from school every day, the suicide threatened and attempted, the theft of money from the family followed by her disappearance in the middle of the night when I was 16. While we were tossed between different family members who didn’t really want us she came back only to sell our house and blow all the proceeds somewhere abroad.
For my first meeting with Rivka, Liat's psychologist, I decided that, "If she says 'look how wonderfully you grew in spite of ..." I'd just leave. Who wants to be that kind of hero?!
In Rivka’s room I started to realise that it’s not normal to have a nightmare almost every night, that I don’t need to keep carrying my mother-story like a shameful secret, that there are fabulous professionals who can make a real difference in one’s life, that I can stop trying to fit into other people’s ideas about me and start doing something real to be my own person in spite of my past.
I dived into Jungian dream studies, shamanic journeys, channelling, and later traditional astrology.
During that time, I divorced the stable, have-it-all-right man I had married as a way to be unlike my mother and went on to pursue the few dreams I had back then.
The time I spent as a professional dancer was fun, but I began to feel an itch for more mind and heart stimuli.
Finishing my Master’s degree with distinction in Special Education at Tel-Aviv University helped me to feel more confident about myself (I used to believe that if you don’t have a big forehead like Einstein you are not that smart).
But not without having my own breakdown along the way as a result of working my a*s off as a research assistant to the Head of Department and a couple of other big-shot professors. Following a heart break, both romantically and professionally, I ditched the fast track to a PhD in Boston and went to my first meditation retreat.
I began to fall in love with life.
Orphaned from future plans, I dedicated my life to Buddhist meditation with some of the most renowned Western teachers today, such as Christopher Titmuss, Charles and Patricia Genoud, and Stephen and Martine Batchelor. I also immersed myself in Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gong and Aikido.
To earn a living I turned to accomplish another dream. I created a successful business selling sandwiches, became a cook in gourmet restaurants, ran my own catering business and partnered in a trendy coffeeshop in central Tel Aviv.
After this detour, I finished my studies, gained few more certificates such as appreciative inquiry and group facilitation, and within five years of working as a business consultant and an evaluation strategist for effective social change, I became one of the leading experts in the field in Israel.
I hope you didn’t get dizzy, because that was a lot of zigzagging.
Yet, despite the flourishing career and wealth I had created for myself with my own hands, despite my own cute little white Fiat 500 and a thriving network of friends, I somehow still felt not yet ‘there’.
That decade of rich experiences and education now felt like another phase in the gradual disentanglement from the mother wound, and I wanted to dive deeper.
I spent hree years on the road in the East, carrying my house on my back, and this time I was homeless out of choice. My heart was my home, the earth was my home and the dreams that dreamt me were my home.
I gained more certificates, for instance as a Chi Nei Tsang therapist, but it was the people I met on the road who asked for my help to alleviate their pain of living that initiated me into gathering up all my life’s formal and informal experiences and stepping into the space of someone who holds it for others in their search for a more comfortable and stable home within themselves.
In that role, first in Italy and now in Switzerland, I began to notice that 90% of the women who sought my help had a mother story working in the background which they didn’t consider relevant, or perhaps even the source of their current life challenges.
My favourite quote is by Parker Palmer: “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen to what it intends to do with you”.
My life‘s many switch-backs and convolutions have taught me how to listen to life itself. I’m inspired to help others turn back to their own lives in order to find a sense of self that is filled with meaning, belonging and the joy of a successful vocation.
My journeys are an emblem for other women’s healing of the mother wound and finding their sovereignty. I’m hoping to make this path more articulate through the book I’m writing about the mother wound.
My approach, which I have come to name Life Alignment, has been shaped by my life experinces and training. The main sources that inform my work are 20 years of Buddhist practices, Polyvagal Theory, Hakomi Somatic Psychotherapy, Embodiment Training, writing for healing and Jungian psychology.
My physical home is in the eastern hills of the Canton of Zürich. This is where you can find me at least once a day wandering through the lush pre-alpine pastures, picking herbs for tea and talking to the cows, horses and sheep.
I’m blessed to share life with Robert, my soul partner, and our two white cats. I'm excited to see how life will unfold.
NO ONE DOES IT ALONE
And you don't have to either. There's something I want to give you for that.
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I wasn’t actually looking for a coach, and in fact, never done any coaching before, but I heard Shelly on a podcast and thought she might be the person to help me find my next vocatinal step.
Six months later, I can say that it has been and continues to be a great gift to have met Shelly.
It’s difficult to fully understand with the mind how our time together affected my life so profoundly. It's like magic. I remember the numerous times when we entered my inner world through meditation and the images or feelings that came from within helped me see and understand parts of myself that I never really encountered before.
Shelly's profound knowledge and fine intuition make her such an incredible value to one's journey. I can claim today that thanks to Shelly's subtle, warm presence and support I now have such a kind, beautiful and conscious relationship with myself, like never before.