Happily Eva After: When the going gets tough...

... The tough look at adorable pictures of flamingos in top hats.

Painting by Pepe Fainberg (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
Painting by Pepe Fainberg
(photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
Even in the best of times, life in Jerusalem is not the most relaxing.
Filled with Jews from around the world – all of whom think they’re mayor – we have a real mayor who despite his merits, thinks it’s a good idea to close major roads literally days before Succot to race Formula 1 cars. Our various religious groups struggle for the soul of the Holy City, often on overcrowded public transportation.
Add on to that the tenuous political situation. While Arabs have been killing civilians at random at light-rail stops and in knife attacks that have intensified in recent months, we are judged by a different, more critical standard in the eyes of the world – which are always upon us. The noise of police helicopters overhead, keeping calm on the Temple Mount, have become a part of everyday life.
Many among us, including moi, have purchased pepper spray. While I feel safe in my everyday life in my well-to-do neighborhood, and trust in God, you just never know.
Add on to that the unique pressures of dating, an impending birthday (Yay, cake and Facebook greetings! Boo, another year older!) and the prospect of a Thanksgiving missing my family in America – and you have a recipe for one overstressed olah.
(Me.) To give myself a little breathing room, I recently took a little break from dating, to rest and recharge and get back into a healthy emotional space to put my best self forward.
However, this increased time to think is not always great, and at times I’ve struggled to stay positive.
Add on to that bizarre instances that make you question everything you hold dear, such as this past Shabbat when walking home from lunch between Nahlaot and Sha’arei Hessed, I was approached by a frum-looking young man who couldn’t have been more than 19. First he asked for directions, which I gladly provided. Then he ran back, asking if he could touch me.
It appeared he thought that given that my calves were showing, I was a common prostitute.
Well, clearly this olah – and I’m betting countless others – are in need of some cheering up. To that end, I thought about some things I do to be happy when the going gets tough; I also asked some friends for tips. Hopefully, some of these strategies will resonate with you as well!
Laughter is the best medicine
For me, the Internet has been a godsend, and nothing does it quite like adorable animal photos.
That porcupine in sunglasses! That chickadee holding a beer bottle! The giggles are endless.
Talking to friends who make you snort Coke Zero through your nose – or you crack up – is just as good, binding you together in happiness and intimacy.
The two Cs: Coffee and comfort food
I loooove a good cup of java, and I am a huge fan of food, and tachlis, Israel does it like nowhere else. Even a good cup of Elite Wild African instant coffee with 3% milk from a bag can do it for me. Never mind the homemade pasta, transcendent humous and alfajores (South American caramel cookies) readily available! So indulge, but...
Make sure to look extra fab
Don’t give up on your beauty routine.
Moisturize! Wear the outfit that make you feel like a million shekels.
Put on that prized pair of heels! I have a pair of Stuart Weitzman velvet pumps with the most luscious trim I haven’t worn since my New York days; I think it’s time to put ‘em back on.
And of course, don’t forget to...
Work out
There’s nothing like pumping up the music and going for a run, for both burning those ravioli calories and manufacturing those feel-good endorphins.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of getting a bike to stay active, with the added benefit that I won’t have to be dependent on the buses.
Go out, but have nights in
Be socially active: Go to a lecture (there are tons of free talks and classes around Jerusalem), attend a reading, get drinks at that charming pub in the shuk. But make sure to have some time to yourself at home, doing things you enjoy. I love nothing better than a night in, cooking and watching my favorite shows.
Such nights are enhanced by one of my favorite friends: Vino. The pleasant glow of a glass of Gamla as the shakshuka sizzles makes me feel as if all is right with the world.
(Window) Shopping
There’s nothing like browsing the stores to make you forget your worries. Since spending money I don’t have would make me more depressed, I keep it at window shopping – though a small treat, like a graphic mug at Fox Home, is more than OK.
Though many women prefer clothes, I like housewares – but whatever floats your boat.
Stay in touch with your cheerleaders
Among your friends and family, you have your “cheerleaders,” those who make you feel extra-supported and loved.
I have one friend I’ve known since age 13, and together we form a mutual admiration society. Even when I’ve done things I’m not proud of, I know I can tell her the truth and she won’t judge me, and that gives me comfort.
We make time to take long walks along the old train tracks in Baka, and just pour out our hearts. I leave feeling lighter each time.
Do things you can be proud of
Be productive and do what makes you feel accomplished. For me, it’s reading a great book (the last one I loved was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, an arguable modern classic; finally reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in 2012 still has me on a high); and writing (so thank you for this opportunity, dear readers!).
Realize it’s all part of the journey
Everyone has ups and downs. It’s the hard times that give us strength and courage, and make the easier times that much meaningful. So though it’s normal to run through “what-if” scenarios (“What if I’m alone in my old age – who will rub my feet?”), try not to fret too much and let the present get away from you.
While planning somewhat for the future, try to stay focused on the beauty of this very moment.
Fake it till you make it
I read a study that the act of smiling and laughter has been proven to make you feel better, triggering positive changes in the body. Even if you don’t start out feeling that way, the physical act of doing so leaves you better off than before. So plaster a grin on your face, and get ready to take on the world! And if all else fails, I leave you with these three words: YouTube cat videos.