Smadar Prager, CGP
Smadar's Sane Way
For my Hebrew Blog please click here
Life is all about relationships. With others, and with ourselves.
It's also full of conflicts, with others and... with ourselves :-)
Happiness and contentedness are a result of learning how to balance those contradicting forces.
|Posted on September 12, 2016 at 11:25 AM||comments (25679)|
I had a very great Zechut (privilege) to know Rebbetzin Jungries personally. Not for very long, and not so close, but enough to feel like I lost my grandmother.
I met her by chance. I know there're no coincidences, and all is orchestrated from above, but at the time it happened it felt totally random.
In the beginning of 2015, while sweating in physical therapy after a knee surgery, the back door opened, and there came into the room the Rebbetzin herself. I didn't notice at first how fragile she was, or how tiny and thin. All I saw was a very pretty woman with a huge smile on her face, and sparkling stars in her eyes.
I was immediately drawn to her. I recognized her from the picture on the back cover her book "Life is A Test" I recently finished reading.
"We cannot disclose other patient's names" was the reply I got when I asked if she is who I think she is.
I gathered my courage and went to play with the weights next to where she was slowly paddling on the stationary bike, smiling.
"Shalom", I started in Hebrew, and her eyes lit even more.
"Come, come" she signaled with her hand patting the bicycle's handlebar "stand next to me".
And this is how we started talking. She had lots of stories; looking back I deeply regret I did not memorialized immediately, because now I cannot remember all of them. What a miss.
"How shall I call you?" I asked, and she smiled even more and said: "Rebbetzin! Call me Rebbetzin! I am The Rebbetzin."
"Rebbetzin, you know" I kinda complained after a few minutes of conversation "I have to tell you, I cried while reading your book. You really made me cry."
"Well of course" she giggled and then became serious for a second "I cried when I wrote it" and smiled again.
And that was it. I was in love. Just like that.
The next week I noticed that the PT receptionist brings over to the Rebbetzin goods from the supermarket: a Challah bread in a plastic packing material, a few fruits or vegetables and maybe a couple of other knickknacks. The Challah bread shocked me. "How can it be that this holly lady eats a store bought Challah?" I was so sad about this.
The next time I came to the PT I brought with me a home baked Challah and asked her if she would honor me and receive the Challah from me. "Of course" she said "thanks you so much, you are so sweet."
The week after that we met at the PT again. As soon as she waltzed into the room she called me "Smadar, your Challah was so good. It's been years since I ate a Water Challah, and yours was really really good."
I was on cloud nine.
The next week I did not see her in PT. I asked about her, but of course no one would give me privileged information. Since she previously gave me her email - not just gave me her email, hovered over me and pointed with her finger to the letters I was typing to make sure I enter it correctly so there's: "no chance you might not be able to get in touch with me if you need me" - I emailed her to ask her if it'll be okay with her if I bring her my home backed Challah every week, and where to.
She emailed me back:
Thank you so much. I enjoyed your challah immensely . Please G-D I will be back at physical therapy soon. In the interim, if you could write a note with the challah this is for the Rebbetzin and no one else
and email me when you drop it off, someone will pick it up for me.
Shabbat Shalom and Chang Sameach
Much love and many Brachot,
This was last October during the Holidays, just after Rosh HaShana.
Her son, HaRav Israel Jungries, while giving his Hesped (eulogy) cried yesterday and said: "She wanted so much to hold and stay for this coming Rosh HaShana..." But she couldn't. HaShem had other plans. It seems like He is taking all the Tzadikim before He's bringing Mashiach.
And so it was. I made Hafrashat Challah every week, blessed on it for the Refua Shlema of my dearest Rebbetzin, and brought it over to the PT with a not: "This is for the Rebbetzin and no one else! Refua Shlema, much love and Shabbat Shalom, Smadar & family".
Yesterday, sitting in Agudaht Israel Shul in Far Rockaway, listening to the eulogies, I realized how little I knew the Rebbetzin.
I heard Rabbi Reisman, other great Rabbanim and her children and grandchildren, talking about her, saying their farewells with cracking voices, and bursts of sobbing.
They talked about her relentless fight with the American Holocaust, the assimilation; Fight that was always done with love.
She was propelled by pure love:
love for the every Jew,
love for the Torah,
love for her tradition, our people's tradition,
and love and utmost respect and inspiration drawn from her ancestors & the family Yichus (pedigree).
They talked about Her Kedusha (purity) that emerged from her deepest and sincere caring about others.
And they talked about her humbleness and humility that had no boundaries, but moved mountains and people.
She had so much love to each and every one.
And then it hit me.
I suddenly understood.
She did it for me.
She didn't really need my Challah.
She realized how happy she made me by accepting my Challah, and because she has so much love and caring for everyone, she just wanted to love me too. She wanted to make me happy. She did it for me.
HaRav Desler zt'l said that love is the outcome of giving. I felt it with all its might as my soul became tied with bounds of love to the Rebbetzin.
So what did I learn from this tiny giant?
I learned that love is also to know how to receive. Even if you do not need anything, or this specific thing.
Love is to know how to make the other person feel important and needed.
Love is to be very humble and to know to accept from anyone.
Love is to stay simple and accessible no matter how great you are.
Love is to greet everyone with a genuine warm smile even when you suffer pain.
The Rebbetzin taught me that Receiving is the outcome of Love.
I want to engrave this lesson on my heart, and by that to continue her legacy and keep spreading the light she shined on me. I am a very giving person, and I know this is not going to be easy for me. I hope I have the Rebbitzen blessing from above, and I hope that with it I'll be able to pass this Life's Test.
I miss her presence. Nafshi Keshura BeNafsha.
May she rest in peace, and may her Zechuyot protect us.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.
Tehe Nishmata Eden Tzerura BiTzror HaChaim.
[© Smadar Prager, CGP]
Smadar Prager, CGP is an Israeli Certified Group Psychotherapist since 1998 with a home based private practice located in South Valley Stream (Five Towns area, Long Island). She focuses on relationships with self, in the Family, Parenthood, Couplehood, and Eating Disorders.
To schedule an appointment please contact at [email protected] or 917-513-1490.
|Posted on July 15, 2016 at 4:15 PM||comments (7345)|
Last week, 7.7, we are celebrating 30 years of marriage.
This is some of the things I learned over the years:
1. That HaShem loves me very much – He sent him to me.
2. That being stubborn is an advantage – holding and not letting go, insisting on the togetherness even when is though.
3. That to be lenient is required – it’s just not worth it to spoil the ‘us’ on account the personal.
4. That there is no point in trying to change the other – hardly ourselves is difficult.
5. That children are the bridge to ourselves – together and separately.
6. That it’s not just more important to give then to receive, it’s preferable.
7. That at the end of every giving there’s receiving.
8. That inner bliss does not depend on an outside approval.
9. That happiness is contagions.
10. That the house needs to be taken care of just like we take care of us and the kids.
11. That accepting the other as is – begins with accepting ourselves as is.
12. That there is nothing like waking up the house with the smell of frying egg and fresh salad.
13. That only when it’s good in the company of myself – it’s good in the company of others.
14. That your spouse cannot replace a best friend – but he is the best friend in the whole wide world.
15. That devotion is very moving.
16. That doing something only because the other wants to – is love.
17. That good couplehood is not how he fulfills my needs 0 but how can I fulfill his needs.
18. That loving him is a privilege.
19. That we are not identical – but we are so much alike.
20. That we are not the same – but this is what makes it all so worth it.
21. That I love him more every day.
22. That I still envy him – even though it happened over 31 years ago.
23. That when it’s hard on the outside – getting closer makes it all much more easy.
24. That what we have now – it the best thing to have.
25. That it’s better not to take it personally – even though it’s impossible to tale it publicly.
26. That it’s possible to say whatever you want to – but it’s really the tone that makes the music.
27. That there is no one that knows me so well – truly.
28. That it is a miracle every day.
29. That there is nothing like the moment he enters home at the end of every day.
30. And that being wrapped up in his hug – is the most at home that there is.
Love. Always. Forever.
[© Smadar Prager, CGP]
Smadar Prager, CGP is an Israeli Certified Group Psychotherapist since 1998 with a home based private practice located in South Valley Stream (Five Towns area, Long Island).
She focuses on relationships in the Family, Parenthood, Couplehood, and with self.
|Posted on May 31, 2016 at 1:30 PM||comments (1661)|
Mr. and Mrs. H. have an endearing habit. Every morning, they sip tea together and chat a bit before each turns to his/her daily routine. Their favorite location is their small kitchen table located next to the big window which overlooks the greenery outside and the neighbors’ houses. For the past few weeks, every time their neighbor comes out to hang her laundry, Mrs. H. gets this look in her eyes. She clicks her tongue and says in disapprovement, “Can you believe her? Can’t she see that her laundry is dirty? I do not understand why it is so hard to wash your laundry properly! Maybe she needs a few lessons from me.”
One morning, as they drank their tea and gazed outside, Mrs. H. sharply straightened in her chair and opened her mouth in surprise. “Look, look!” she said. “Finally! Her laundry is clean!”
Mr. H. very calmly replied, “Oh no dear. I just cleaned our window.”
It is always the same story. Sure, there are different players and other scenarios, but it’s always the same. We see faults in the other person, and never in ourselves. She fell in love with him because he was so caring and loving, and only wanted to make her happy and feel good, and now she can’t stand him because he leaves her no room to breathe; he is always there, suffocating her.
He fell in love with her because she was so lively and energetic and risk-taking, and so different from all the others, and now he can’t stand it; she is never home, she is always out doing something, and she doesn’t take care of him or the children the way he thinks that she should.
She fell in love with his calmness and now she can’t stand his indifference. Or he fell in love with her quietness and now he can’t believe how quiet the house is. It’s like living all alone.
What is happening here? How come the same person they fell in love with is the one that now drives them crazy, or leaves them feeling hurt or alone or neglected?
Well, it’s all the expectations’ fault. Like everything else in life, expectations, too, surely have their advantages, but they also have a problematic side. This side usually comes into play when our expectations do not match the other person’s realistic capabilities or nature, or if our expectations do not line up with someone else’s expectations, someone with whom we are required to collaborate or spend our lives with. Another possible way for the problematic side of expectations to raise its head is if we think that everyone should uphold, or actually is upholding, the same moral values as we do. Or if one only sees the other’s deficits or limitations, while thinking that they themselves are perfectly okay (or even perfect) in comparison.
Each time we cross paths and interact with another human being, we are in a relationship. And every time a relationship is formed, a clash of expectations occurs as well. It’s like two currents in the sea that meet up from different directions; a splash or a whirlpool is bound to happen.
When we fall in love, and when we fall in love with a certain quality in the other person, we do not expect that one day this exact quality will be the source of our pain.
We need to understand that each quality exists on a continuum. It is neither good nor bad. It just is. It’s the interpretation that we give to the meeting point of that specific quality with ourselves that determines whether it will feel good or bad.
A piece of chocolate cake, for example, can be so delightful, but guess how you would feel after the fifth or the seventh piece?
Nothing had changed with the chocolate cake. It’s only your perspective that’s changed.
When you found your spouse, it felt like connecting two pieces of a puzzle. Finally, the one you were waiting for. At last the one that completes you. He finally found someone that yearns to receive all that he has to give, and she finally found that giving one. She finally found a strong man, and he found his delicate flower at last. We are so amazed by the fact that the other fits us so well, complements the absence, and perfectly fills our gaps, that we think that the other simply knows us so well, can read us even without words, and supplies us with our deepest desires almost telepathically. At the same time, we are on cloud nine because this perfect person also finds us flawless.
The problem is that we expect this to continue forever and ever. But once what was lacking is no longer in such dire need of being filled, we do not need the other as much as we once did, or with the same amount of intensity. But that doesn’t mean that the other person is also at the same stage of his or her personal development; he or she might not want to end the original perfectly synced exchange. We expect our spouse not only to telepathically know that, but to also know the exact dosage that we need, the same way it used to be in the beginning, and back when we were babies when our mother knew when to change our diaper, or carry us, or give us food whenever we needed, without us even saying anything. We expect that this telepathic understanding will continue even if we changed and are now wishing and desiring other things for ourselves.
Instead of looking within and working on ourselves, we turn outward and expect the other person to change. Instead of talking to our spouse, we start sending all kinds of hints that he or she doesn’t really understand. The more hints we send out, and the more he or she doesn’t respond the way we expect them to respond, the more hurt we become, and angry and frustrated. And to stop the pain, we lash out and hurt back, thinking that if the other person would be hurt enough, they’ll understand just how it feels and stop hurting us. And a horrible cycle begins. (This process is mostly done on an unconscious level when we aren’t really aware of why exactly we are doing what we’re doing. At this stage, a couple would greatly benefit from some professional help.)
A couple might realize they are in a vicious cycle, but they have no idea how they got here and how to get out. Each points a finger at the other, each blaming the other. But recognizing the existence of the cycle is actually the key to break out of it, because you can only fix what you see. All that is really needed now is to understand that you got caught up in the expectations cycle, and once you do – find the courage and talk about it. Be brave enough to take 100% responsibility of your 50% share in this relationship, and stop expecting the other person to change for you. Do it yourself.
Trust each other and reveal each other’s deepest needs. Let the other person know what you expect them to be for you. Hear if it is at all realistic and or possible, and be there for each other in the same way you have been in the beginning. Only now, it will be in a much more mature way, a way in which you communicate with each other and do not expect the other to telepathically know what you need and then magically supply it.
Start here. Understand that no one is really perfect; we are all full of flaws. And then simply start doing for the other what you wish the other would do for you: stop hurting the other person. And the rest would follow.
Originally published in the Jewish Press Mind Body & Soul insert on May 27, 2016
|Posted on May 3, 2016 at 3:35 PM||comments (1601)|
While watching ‘Rehab Addict’ on HGTV, Mr. Chester Bushman, Nicole Curtis’s 90 year old grandfather, said this heartfelt sentence, "When you are building a home, you are building yourself into it, just like marriage!"
I watched and thought to myself that there is no substitute to old age wisdom; that we have so much to learn from our elders and that there's so much unparalleled value of strength and support in keeping, maintaining, and investing in our family ties.
A client of mine told me yesterday that she is exhausted from the holiday. It was the first time they celebrated at their own home, and she said she doesn't understand to what end is all of this hard work that left her wiped and empty and in desperate need of a vacation.
I sympathize with her; After all, preparing Pesach (Passover) is quite a project and an enormous undertaking if you are also hosting at your house.
She was my first client after a two weeks Pesach vacation. While I was still wearing my housewife hat, it took me a split second while I was puzzled to understand how come it is not obvious to her, as it is to me, that the reward is as huge as the exhaustion.
Meaning, you cannot create meaningful, unforgettable bonding experiences and memories with your family and friends, without investing in creating the set for it.
Whether it's by planning an eventful vacation, or by paying a small fortune for an all included eventful vacation in a resort, some kind of an investment is definitely required and the more you invest the greater the return.
The split second dissipated in the blink of an eye. I was back with my therapist's hat on, and with the understanding that this is a case of distorted subjective interpretation of reality.
Meaning, it's a choice to feel that way. You can choose to feel differently.
This is the million dollar question and the answer is? [drum roll please]
By changing the way you think.
Our thought creates our feelings, and our feelings create our actions.
It's usually an automatic unconscious or unaware process which I fondly call RIFA:
Reality --> Interpretation --> Feeling --> Action.
If my client interprets her reality of preparing the holiday as slaving in the kitchen to no avail, there’s no wonder she is feeling used, abused, drained and very bitter. It also means that in an even deeper level she separated herself from the activity. As if it's a repulsive chore some outside force is compelling her to do for lack of any other option.
As if she did not choose this. As if she was coerced.
We talked a bit about these ideas and insights. We tried to understand together what was the ground on which the seeds of "Hi, I am all alone here in this business" came from, and what sprouted them and/or fertilized them. And then, we tried to think together about a different way of looking at all of this.
The reality may have not changed at all. Same incidents, same conflicts, same work load, the same self centered teenagers, etc. . ., but the new angle in which she chose to look at it changed, and as a result, so did her feelings.
The new angle she chose was, “It's not against me, nobody is doing anything just to spite me, and I am choosing to do this because I want to invest in my family; because I love them, because I want to give from myself so we can bond together.
And then I told her about Mr. Bushman.
And then we wrote this down:
When you build something, you HAVE to build yourself into it!
This is the only way you'll enjoy it, benefit from it and grow from it.
This is probably the only way to really live life to its fullest. . . and smile about it.
[© Smadar Prager, CGP]
|Posted on February 6, 2016 at 12:25 AM||comments (7894)|
There are three ways to respond when another lashes out at you, yelling and complaining.
The first one is to stay quit and indifferent, and allow the other to explode with anger.
The second one is to lash out right back at him/her.
The third one is to calmly and pleasantly respond to the ‘what’ and not to the ‘how’. Meaning to the issue and not the way the issue is being presented (with yelling etc,).
The first way makes the other person really miserable.
The second way discourages the other person.
And the third way is the middle way, the golden way: it allows the other person to repair, and it brings peace and love to the both of you.
|Posted on September 11, 2015 at 1:45 PM||comments (9952)|
In the house where I grow up, I didn’t get the chance to learn couplehood first hand.
Being in awe from the fact that there are couples that not only live together after the age of 50, but actually really like each other, I asked my future mother in law an advice before our wedding, “How do you do that? How do you get to this fantastic achievement?”
Her answer was short and decisive, “Never go to sleep if you are angry at each other.”
I embraced her advice and placed it very near to my heart, and I never forgot, and I never let it go.
As the years went by I learned both in my private and professional life, that there is no such thing as quarrel-free, angerless couplehood.
I learned that good couplehood doesn’t become good (just like that) and fall from the sky (even thought HE definitely has a part in it).
I learned that good couplehood is a result of real persistence to find a way,
in spite of, and regardless of it all.
Of daily hard work,
sometimes tough, sometimes frustrating, sometimes painful, sometimes sad, sometimes lonely,
but it is always a result of work.
Work is not only about things that you do, it is also about things that you do NOT do.
So today we are learning what not to do: Do not go to sleep angry at each other!
Stay up until you resolve whatever needs to be resolved,
even if it means to stay up all night and not going to sleep at all.
Cry together, laugh together, talk, listen, and compromise, let go, stand your ground,
but mainly remember, that at the basis of it all, there is a big enormous and impossible love that brought you together to begin with, and to this place where you are now,
and with this love help, you can move mountains --
[© Smadar Prager, CGP]
 Couplehood (n) - The state of being a romantic couple. (yourdictionary.com)
|Posted on September 1, 2015 at 2:25 PM||comments (1785)|
1. Always prepare cloths and backpacks with the child the night before.
2. Make sure going to bed is a pleasant experience (and on time!).
3. Wake up the kids relaxed & with a smile (music is always a plus).
4. Allow enough time to calmly organize (you too).
5. Don't skip a nutritious breakfast (not milk & cereal).
6. Send a nutritious snack with a loving smiling encouraging note inside.
7. Make sure the child knows who picked them up.
8. Don't forget to send them with a big hug and a kiss, a loving blessing and lots of reassuring.
9. Remember: homework are for your child, not for you.
& 10. Always always, always... love them and remember how precious they are (at any age / grade).
* Have a wonderful blessed & successful school year *
Shana Tova from Smadar Prager, CGP
|Posted on May 20, 2015 at 6:25 PM||comments (8774)|
Once upon a time there was a very enlightened and holy Buddhist monk.
He lived in an isolated cave, on a mountain side, and occupied his time only in prayers and reflections all day and all night.
And one day he returned to his cave only to find that it is full of sassy and ugly demons.
They completely took over his cave,
cooked and ate his food,
slept in his bed,
ripped apart his holy books,
and screamed and irritated him in every possible way.
The monk tried is hardest to get read of them: fasting, praying, meditating, convincing, bargaining, arguing, even just grab them in the tail and through them out...
And little by little he succeeded.
All the demons left, except one. The most annoying and disgusting one.
Against him -- nothing helped.
The more the monk was more spiritual, more rational, more firm, more assertive -- the more bothersome and sassy was the demon.
Finally the monk realized that nothing worked.
He turned to the demon and told him:
"OK. I guess there's no other choice. We're gonna just have to learn to live together, you and me."
And the demon left....
It's the nature of all the part that we don't like about us, to stick to us more and more.
It's the nature of all the traits that we don’t like about us, to persist, and raise their head especially where we list want.
It's the nature of all the thoughts that bother us, to glue themselves to you like an old gum to a shoe; they lose their taste nut not their stickiness ability.
Until the time...
Until the time you make peace with them.
Until the time you accept them: the parts, the traits, the thoughts.
You have to truly accept them, from your guts.
to make yourself a container, to make room within yourself.
But there are no miracles here, no Mac-Fast.
To make peace takes time, it's a process.
And processes you cannot speed up, you cannot hurry.
They have their own pace. They march to their own beat;
The beat that makes the most beautiful music in the world;
[© Smadar Prager, CGP]