Today is Thursday, November 22nd, the first day after the Ceasefire pronounced yesterday evening at 9:00 PM our time.
A week of being directed to our Safe Rooms if we had them, or within 15 seconds distance of any possible Safe Room. A week of being alerted to every little nuance of daily life. No work. No school. Yes work. Yes kibbutz breakfast. No kibbutz dinner. Store hours. Store closed suddenly. And so it went.
A facebook group kept English Speakers in constant touch. We fed one another’s anxieties and applauded our acts of heroism. Going out for a regular walk was cheered, or admonished (mostly admonished with incredulity). Walking dogs within proximity of a shelter became a deed of courage that needed a motivational talk beforehand and a debriefing afterwards.
Interesting times we live in.
Some lived without.
Many residents left the area and still haven’t returned.
Eventually, things will come back to normal.
Normal awareness that we carry with us at all times will sit in our back pockets instead of fully planted in our frontal lobe.
Soon. My safe room will go back to being a safe haven of choice rather than necessity.
J: You come to T’ai Chi in Nir-Oz. How did you discover T’ai Chi?
Zohar: Through Mickey from my kibbutz. The truth is I thought about it a lot for a long time, but just procrastinated until I finally asked him about it. He told me that it would be great if I’d come.
The truth is that I was searching for some form of exercise to help me, because my back is not in great condition and many exercises do more harm than good. With Ta’i Chi I felt that this was what I needed, from the point of view of my health.
Judih: Nice. When was it that you decided to come?
Zohar: About 2 years ago, in January, 2011.
Judih: From the moment you began, what grabbed you, what attracted you to T’ai Chi?
Zohar: These are exercises that I can do. They’re not complicated. And I hope to be able to keep on way past my 80s.
Judih: That shouldn’t be a problem!
Zohar: In things like Feldenkrais and other forms of movement, I felt that I couldn’t do the exercises or that they were doing me harm. Here, I really liked the warm-up exercises and the Chi Cong. I like T’ai Chi a little less. But I stay mostly for the first part of the session.
I don’t relate to the martial arts aspect, I don’t really understand how the movements relate to warfare against an opponent. Since I danced for many years, I relate to the movements themselves.
Judih: Tell me, have you looked into the philosophy of T’ai Chi?
Zohar: No, not really. At the beginning, I searched on the Net to get some background, but not more than that. In fact, until two months ago, I only practiced during our weekly Tuesday evening lessons. But for the last two months, I’ve been doing the exercises every morning: the warm-up and some Chi Cong.
Judih: Excellent. Do you feel that this has helped you health-wise?
Zohar: Absolutely. First of all, I couldn’t stand! I have a slipped disc and I really couldn’t stand on my feet for any length of time. Now with our static Chi Cong (standing in one place), I can actually stand, for a long time!
Secondly, I feel that it helps me in work. It helps my mind, I’m more able to concentrate.
Judih: Has this changed since you began to practice every morning?
Zohar: No, this happened from the very beginning. It works on focus. I’ve worked on this from many different directions and I believe that this is what is really helping me. I need to make myself keep at it, because I know myself and it’s hard for me to stay with something.
Judih: You’ve said so many positive things about T’ai Chi. Can you elaborate? When you sit and work, how do you find that it has helped you?
Zohar: I’m an accountant and the branch coordinator. Along with that, I coordinate Information networks. That means that I have to know a lot and remember many fine details. I simply feel that I’m better able to do my work. I can feel it.
Judih: Do you feel more able to concentrate?
Zohar: Yes, most definitely.
Judih: Would you recommend T’ai Chi to everyone?
Zohar: Yes, and to all ages.
Judih: Great. Do you have any other comments you’d like to add?
Zohar: Yes. I also enjoy the people who come here to do T’ai Chi. The atmosphere is warm and free from judgement. You can make mistakes and it’s fine. I got here after others had already been doing it for 10 years and it’s fine! People are very pleasant.
Judih: Thank you, Zohar. When you’re 80 and I’m 100, we’ll meet and discuss this further!
Zohar: One more thing. I know it’s highly recommended for improving balance and I’m encouraging my mother (who’s in her 80s) to do the exercises of Chi Cong.
Judih: Yes, others have spoken about how their own sense of balance improves immediately after doing the exercises and in general. You make a good point. Thank you, Zohar!
During T’ai Chi practice, questions arise during the break. Sometimes a question leads to many stories ranging from Masters all over the world to specific anecdotes regarding health. Ruthy, one of those who regularly comes to practice T’ai Chi posed 3 health questions to Doron.
Doron Lavie answers questions (transl from original Hebrew by judih)
Does T’ai Chi affect one’s posture and balance
Doron: Absolutely. Studies that have been conducted on practicing adults in various locations in the world over a 3-month period (note: adults with no previous history of having done T’ai Chi), compared with groups of adults who engaged in alternate forms of movement strategies. The T’ai Chi group showed 15-17% fewer falls or diagnosed physical damage in conducting their daily lives.
2. Are there standards of physiology that can be measured after practicing T’ai Chi?
D: There are many studies available of research, observations and experiments on the effects of T’ai chi on health, agility and motor skills. The most studied are: the Cardiovascular system (heart and circulatory), the Nervous system (mostly brain and memory). One of the pioneers in the field and a real ‘Nut’ in in the field of Stress Management and the spirit, is a teacher of T’ai Chi, Lawrence Galante. In his book “T’ai Chi the Supreme Ultimate” he’s devoted an entire chapter to this, bringing inspirational examples of those who have been affected by T’ai Chi. It’s possible to find a wide network of detailed information, if anyone is interested in examining the data.
3. Is it accurate to say that practicing T’ai Chi can lower high blood pressure?
A: Yes, that’s correct and in fact the practice of T’ai Chi has a positive and significant effect on your heart’s health and maintaining the balance of blood flow.
Living in the desert, our homes are built on sand, some of which includes termite nesting grounds and some ant breeding grounds. Take your pick. I’d prefer ants.
Termites in the Negev. Wooden, fine wooden furniture built especially for mini living spaces as are our kibbutz places, offer invitations to these aboriginal termites. Such was my day when Zappa was revealed as chomped.
In other news, the Kibbutz Dining Room was well filled – lots of second generations with their children.
Tonight is the official New Year’s Party at the Pub. Since tomorrow is not a working day, it’s only natural that the New Year would be celebrated a day later than the rest of the planet.
Hope your New Year brings you closer to longer days and creativity within.
September eleventh brings a rush of associations. We still mourn our loved ones in New York. We still quake at the reality of urban terror and know it could recur anywhere, anytime.
September 11th is also the birthday of some fine virgos: Wendy, Jamelah, Craig and Krista.
September 11th is almost getting serious. Almost getting Autumn.
In school, it’s jumping into new technology at a new hi-tech school.
We’ve got Smartboards in our classrooms and teachers bring laptops into class in order to maximize their use.
School’s been heralded off to this start with weekly staff instruction. Our English staff got its first private class on Wednesday. About half of us, or more, are already using the boards in class. We’re finding that the kids enjoy the sessions. Flashcards have never been so high resolution before. Our painstakingly prepared powerPoint presentations do their magic. For us it means hours and hours of prep. Theoretically, we’re building up a reservoir of materials.
As English teachers in Israel, we’ve always needed to put in huge amounts of creative time in readying our materials. We’ve had to adapt authentic materials so that our students can work on mandatory projects. We’ve toured the globe to bring them sound clips and interesting activities to stimulate their many intelligences.
We’ve investigated techniques to focus students with ADHD, and now the SmartBoard, I feel, will aid us in all of these components.
I feel the focus and I love it when students ask to go one more time through the vocabulary flashcards and I burst out laughing when a class of Special Ed kids finally all pronounce ‘laughed‘ correctly along with the magenta framed flash card.
So, it’s good.
The laptop is, however, heavy! And the distances between classes and the English Centre is not small. On Sunday, I strapped on a pedometer to measure the distance. Sunday I did 5,000 steps just going back and forth. Tuesday was a lot less: 3, 695! Together with biking to school and back, I’m just about commuted into aerobic health. Unfortunately, it’s never enough. A good walk around the fields is the best and I hope I’ll still have time when the clocks go back to Winter time and throw darkness on those precious early evening hours.
Qassams? We’ve had a few in this area. In Mifalsim, they had a Red Alert. We’re always reminded that the fortified school and the ongoing construction of home shelters is not for nothing.
There were qassams in Sderot today, one landing in a yard. People were treated for shock. Just last Thursday, I was in Sha’ar HaNegev High School talking to Grade 12 students about how they like living in Sderot. It’s great! most of them said, except for the qassams.
Well, hmmm. I can hear planes overhead right now. During T’ai Chi, a member of Kibbutz Nir Itzhak reported that they had a Tzeva Adom alert. It’s hard to keep students in line these days. Summer’s approaching and that, alone, is enough to rain pre-mature freedom in the minds of young learners. Now, with the added anxiety of war sounds, I wonder how it will be to enforce quiet attentiveness in the class.
It’s also hard to be creative these days. I wish a troupe of Pilobolus, or Cirque du Soleil would show up to remind us that life is incredible no matter where or when.
We’ve had a few Tzeva Adom alerts in the area. Just this afternoon, Kibbutz Nir Itzhak had a flashback alert at four p.m. The qassam landed somewhere close by. One day this week, we were surprised by a huge boom just beside us as an old forgotten weapon ‘slick’ was discovered in Kibbutz Nirim and evacuated to open fields for safe detonation.
Yet, today while walking , I had the pleasure of seeing quiet fields and a serene horizon over Aza. Life changes from moment to moment, as we all know.
Benji Davis writes about his experience in Sderot
I read a very good article that appears in Sderot Media Centre. Perhaps, you’d enjoy taking a look.
Here’s an excerpt:
From 90210 to Sderot: Get the Story Right!
By Benji Davis Tue Jan 26 200906:29:08
I just returned from a two week visit to Israel. I spent my last weekend in Sderot and the Western Negev. One year out from volunteering in Sderot, I have written this piece on the international media’s lack of context in covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Hundreds of journalists from all over the world just left Sderot and the surrounding areas covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. Where were they one year ago? Where were they four years ago, eight years ago? I spent six weeks volunteering in Sderot exactly one year ago, and I can tell you, the journalists were nowhere to be found.
Unfortunately for Israel, it took eight years for the international community to understand that innocent civilians in a western democracy live daily under the current threat of rocket fire. During this time, the range of the threat expanded from a tens of thousands to over one million innocent Jewish and Muslim Israeli citizens.
In these eight years, has the UN Security Council ever condemned nearly a decade of rocket fire on innocent civilians of one of its member states, Hamas’ use of human shields, and its use of schools, hospitals, and mosques to store and launch rockets at Israel?
We’ve gone from absolutely unpredictable days of rocket alerts and sunshine, Army-restricted daily schedules together with supremely gorgeous weather to this: return of school, tests, Matriculation exams, weather featuring colder and hotter temperatures, sand-hazy air to moments of rain.
My perfect health and oh-so-careful regime of letting off stress and steam during Operation Cast Lead has progressed to getting through the day and promptly catching a cold.
I didn’t like it. (What? Did I say that out loud?) It’s not cool to not like it. It’s won awards and is up for an Emmy.
What about the Charity Concert for Gazans? Achinoam Nini (Noa) and her open letter to Palestinians commiserating with their rule by Hamas (even though they elected them) and promising to come sing anyway has faced huge uproar from Palestinians and has cancelled her appearance at that concert.
Friends donating goods to citizens in the Strip are faced with applause from some and amazement from others. The opinions are fast and furious. You can read about it in this JPost article.
I don’t know what to think and hence, I haven’t been writing. My throat grew to the size of a skinny straw surrounded by huge glands of angst. No swallowing, and stuffed up confusion render this human being unable to blog.
My photos are of an innocuous nature: my sons, my nephew, my friends, their friends. These are too private to post here on this community blog. What can I say? Laundry goes on, crows are verbose, the orange groves are still filled with fruit. Where are the pickers? What will become of those waiting for the luscious citrus fruit?
I hope to return with something, something, soon. Meanwhile, hope you’re safe and well,