Managing a Writing Life in Beit Zayit

Writing is hard, even on a moshav in Israel. You need all the help and support you can get. This winter I’ve managed to organize a whole team to support my writing life. First, I have a landlord who rents me a room next to a horse stable so I’m always promised the strong smell of horse pee. This is excellent for inspiration.



When I get tired of writing in my room, let’s say after thirty minutes, I jump on the landlord’s trampoline. This is excellent for the circulatory system, as long as you don’t get a heart attack in mid-air. I have my landlord to thank for an endless supply of lemons, as well as apathetic dogs, curious cats and silence.

To deal with the damp and cold in my writing room, I have contracted the services of a local master of Shiatsu, who is also studying So Juk. This woman of the magic hands warms my kidneys, locates stoppages of chi in my intestinal track and gets the chi flowing again. When her hands are not enough, she supplements her treatments with Moxa, putting small dried leaves that look like incense on key points on my hands and lighting them (the leaves). When the fires are not enough, she painlessly inserts needles into certain blocked passages in my meridians, as reflected in points on my hands, and within minutes, I am not only physically warm, but flooded with warmth toward my fellow human beings, starting with her. All this attention to my hands is excellent for writing, since I use my fingers.

To keep the chi flowing through the week I attend two Chi Quong classes, both in the morning before my writing sessions. I cannot recommend this highly enough. I go to my writing room calm, open, flexible, balanced and energized.

But this is not all, no this is not all, to quote the cat in the hat.  Recently, after I heard that my mother is again in hospice care in Cleveland for the third time, I hired a woman who is an expert in treating trauma victims through short-term NLP.  NLP stands for neuro linguistic processing, I think, unless it’s neo-Lacanian psychobabble.  After the first session, I had a week of rich dreams that kept me in bed until 9 a.m. Mmmmm. I look forward to NLP helping me cope with writing about the mother I had when I was five while my current mother is dying.

A friend who is a professional choreographer tops off my support staff. She comes to Beit Zayit once a week and dances with me and my friend Sarita, who is partially disabled from juvenile arthritis. After the first week of dancing together, I realized I was partially disabled too, so this intimate class held in Sarita’s living room nurtures all three of us.

With all these professional helpers behind me, I am able to write my memoir on delayed grief for 10-15 hours a week. I am not interested in writing any more than that, because I believe in leading a balanced life and, truth be told, I am a little sick of the book.

To balance my life, I frolic with my grandchildren in Tel Aviv and Haifa at least twice a week, do a little cooking of grains pulses and grasses, a bissel gardening, and take a short walk in the wadi below my house, where, recently, I happened upon these anemones.b

Though some writers do, I rarely go to movies, plays or any kind of entertainment. With such a heavy schedule of writing and the caregivers who support it, I am wiped out by 10 PM and enjoy retiring early. I neither volunteer, nor participate in demonstrations. I could be living in Vermont, for all my involvement in Israel.

If you are interested in becoming a serious writer, I am sure there are a zillion models you could follow, but however you live your writing life, I cannot recommend highly enough the addition of horse pee for inspiration.

About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
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11 Responses to Managing a Writing Life in Beit Zayit

  1. Jane says:

    no anemones in Feb in VT 🙂 Love hearing about your days, Judy


  2. Joan Leegant says:

    I love this support system. I noted too the anatomical portion(s) of the horse you chose to stand beside and photograph. 🙂 Its (his? her?) pee may inspire you, but this post has just inspired me. I’m going to take a walk now past a sheep barn (no wadis in Oklahoma) to get what I can. Love reading your posts.


  3. Stephan Schenker says:

    Not at all a bad way to start the day and the week! Cool! Have a good one, Stef

    Sent from Samsung Mobile


  4. estherhecht says:

    Seems to me that it’s the human contact–in whatever form–that counts. The horse pee, well, that’s just gravy.


  5. Your hands chose just the words today to boost smiles and laughter. Thank you.

    Friday I had the opportunity to smell horse pee near Nes Harim as my family and I watched the daughter of the cheesemaker (Bar) groom their horse after we gorged ourselves on goat cheeses. Thanks for helping me understand part of the source of my inspiration.


  6. saritaperel says:

    You are an integral part of my support system and my inspiration with no smells attached! Love you, Sarita


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