Well, its that time of year again. By the time you get this post, I’ll be on my way to Canada and the USA to visit friends, family, and attend a conference in Columbus, Ohio.

What about your cats?

And for those of you who are wondering, some friends of a friend are taking a holiday in Israel, at Hotel Hemstreet, fully furnished, and with two cats to keep them company. They are thankful for the opportunity to be here, and I’m thankful that they can care for my cats and enjoy my home while I’m gone. (Although Pharaoh and Cleopatra may have a differing viewpoint.)

Toronto and Guelph—Here I come

I have not passed through Toronto since I first met Rich in December of 2006 at the Toronto airport. I still remember how nervous I was and how nice he was, and our lovely dinner at the Bo-Peep Restaurant. Rich always wanted to take me back there, but sadly, they closed in 2014 or 15… My reason for passing through Toronto has also changed. In 2006, I was enroute to Vancouver to visit my closest friend, Judy. She died 3 months after Rich did. But this trip is not about mourning, but thankfulness. Because whatever memories may come, I am thankful for them all.

The friends Rich and I visited in Guelph, former Chinese students who attended the Chinese Church in Haifa, are still there. For those who don’t know, and I only just learned, Guelph was the home of John McCrae, author of the famous poem, In Flanders Fields. (Hence the photo with this post).

However, my Chinese friends had a better tourist site in mind for Rich and I. They took us to visit Niagra Falls. It was an amazing time with Rich, and for my friends to get to know him. So I am very glad to be able to visit with them again for a few days. I do not know what we will do, or what they have planned, but even if it is to just sit and catch up with each other… it will be good.

Columbus—Again?

Yup, I’m going on to Columbus. I am attending the Igniting Souls 2018 Conference, which is run by my coach, Kary Oberbrunner. I have learned a lot through the Author Academy Elite program and it is another opportunity to keep on learning, and to meet with others of similar interests. I’m also excited about a special opportunity. Kary has arranged for authors attending the conference to be part of a huge book signing at a local Barnes and Noble book store (October 25, 5-7 pm, Polaris, Columbus). There will be 60 authors (including myself and 3 others from outside the USA). I hope that it will be a good experience and increase the exposure of my book to others. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve just published the audiobook version of my book. But I’m also excited because doing the audiobook gave me the opportunity to really proof my book and I caught errors which have all been corrected. So now a new updated version of my book is available on Amazon, and that is the version that will be sold in Barnes and Noble.

Being in Columbus will also be an opportunity to see a few other friends, and visit with an older friend who knew my mother. I always make sure to visit her when I’m in Columbus, and it is always good. Each trip I see different people from college days, and last time I was able to see my cousins. This time it’s a kind of quick visit… but I’m looking forward to seeing whomever I can, and attending the conference.

Michigan’s in my heart

Before I met Rich I never ever though about Michigan. I recall once going to a conference in Michigan, and that is about it. Michigan was not in my mind or on any map I was familiar with. My heart was in Israel and China.

However, all five of Rich’s kids are now living in Michigan, and between them all, there are now 8 grandchildren, and I am really looking forward to spending time with ALL of them. Every time I see photos of the kids, my heart melts… and they are growing so quickly. I’m looking forward to catching up with the kids and learning more about what they are doing. We keep in touch via FB and occasional messaging, but nothing compares to face-to-face chats and just sharing a meal, and laughing together. I am so thankful for each and everyone of these amazing people who are now a part of my life. I knew intellectually that I would become a part of Rich’s family when we got married, but now they are all in my heart, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of them.

I know some people wonder why, then, am in Israel… and its just plain, that is the door God opened for me with work and a place to live after Rich died. Strangely with all my work experience, finding a job in Michigan was next to impossible. I was either over- or under-qualified.

Affirmation helps

Quite truthfully, after all the negative feedback I’d gotten in the US, and the comment during one interview, that standards for writing in Israel must be different from the USA, I’ve often wondered if I was really good enough professionally.

Yet on the other hand, no one is truly irreplaceable (except the Creator of the Universe), and there is always someone who can do something better than I can. That is just plain reality. So you can only imagine my joy and surprise when I got a letter at work a few weeks ago advising that I’d been awarded Outstanding Employee of 2018 of Rambam Hospital – for my sector. I was stunned. We are talking about a hospital that employs more than 5,000 people, and for sure, hundreds of people are nominated for this every year. Of those, only a handful of people receive the award. When I read the award letter I cried. All I could think was, “Who am I? Who am I?”

God knew I needed that affirmation of my professional abilities. My reality-check attitude remains firmly in place. There will always be someone who can do better than I… but I am so thankful to be appreciated, to be able to make a positive contribution, and to have work that enables me to travel each year so I can visit with my friends and family in the States.

Coming in December

So if you will happen to be in Israel on December 12, 2018, I’ve been told to invite all my friends and family to the award ceremony. You are invited. It would make a great excuse to come to Israel, and there is so much to see here, besides me… but I’d love to see you too!

Since I’ll be travelling until mid-November I look forward to picking up on my blogging when I get back home. (I’m doubtful that I’ll have time to post while I’m traveling, but who knows?) Perhaps I’ll see you somewhere along the way…

Thank you in advance for your prayers for this trip, and may you too be blessed with the joy of family and friends, wherever you are.