I grew up in Greenwich Village, New York City to a dysfunctional artist family. I tried making the status quo work for me by going to college thinking I would be happy doing exactly what my Mom wanted me to do – getting a college education. She said I would a nobody without a college education, but I was unhappy trying to meet the demands of the status quo. But during one a worldly summer volunteering at my aunt’s kibbutz in Israel, I started listening to my own voice. For the first time in my life, I created distance between myself and my neurotic, worry wart of a mother. That next summer, I became fully aware how stifling it had become living under my mother’s roof, and I realized I had no choice but to rethink the way I responded to challenges, and deepened my faith and courage – this time as a IDF soldier.
So after two years, I dropped out of college against my mother’s wishes. In her words, I was “a goner.”
The challenges I faced while in Israel pushed me to my limits. While serving in the IDF, I tried to get along with a number of Russians, British and other foreign mentalities. I was bullied, ridiculed, but I tried to always keep in sight the path and why leaving my mother at the time, was necessary. My service in the IDF wasn’t mandatory. Initially, I volunteered for the service to separate from my mother, and in that way, my service was “an accident,” thus the title of my memoir Accidental Soldier: What My Service in the Israel Defense Forces Taught Me about Faith, Courage and Love was born.
I stayed in Israel for the next eighteen years and pursued my BA and MA degrees in English literature as well as a teaching certificate for teaching English. As a native English speaker, I found myself uniquely positioned to teach English to Israeli students having now struggled to finally adapt to this strange and foreign Israeli culture. Over time it became clearer to me that my chosen profession of teaching English to Israelis wasn’t just to satisfy Mom so she could see me follow her chosen path for me as a teacher.
In 2007, a year after the second Israel-Lebanese war, my husband and I tried our luck at a Jewish community in Pittsburgh. I was burnt-out from teaching English to high school students and my husband couldn’t get a decent job as the war hit our area severely. We didn’t have friends, job or family waiting but I didn’t look back for a minute. Although I was a returning American who spoke English fluently, I felt everyone around me spoke a “foreign” language. I left the US in 1989 as a teenager and came back as a mom and a wife almost twenty years later. I had no idea what was Target and a SUV and it was embarrassing to ask acquaintances. Coming back to live permanently in the US triggered deep and painful memories from my NYC childhood home – mainly of social and emotional isolation.
As a returning American, I felt a calling to speak to those who were feeling some similar kind of disconnect from a world. I started a journal to help me cope with these new experiences while teaching ESL (English as a second language) courses applying what I’ve learned about communicating across cultural barriers in Israel to the multicultural US adult classroom. Beneath the pain and silence of my own story, I felt my healing voice wanting desire, recognition and compassion. In 2007, I began writing stories on a freelance basis to various magazines and online outlets, which ultimately culminated in the writing of my memoir.
I launched the Giving Voice to Your Story website in March 2012 and took a great leap of faith transitioning from a teacher’s diversity coach to a freelance writer and coach. Either months later, I took a second leap of faith and started writing my memoir which will be published by She Writes Press in spring 2016. On a personal level, my mission is to teach and inspire others to know that with courage supported by faith and love, we can take the next step (as scary as it may be!) to change our lives and overcome our circumstances.
In July 2013, I gave birth to my global radio show, “Giving Voice to Your Story” where I’ve interviewed entrepreneurs and authors of note such as Julia Cameron of the well-known The Artist’s Way and Linda Gray Sexton, the daughter of Pulitzer prize winner, Anne Sexton.
On a business level, my mission is to help heart-centered small business owners and heart-centered authors find their brand voices, share their unique stories, gain more visibility, establish themselves as experts, and create authentic marketing messages, increase their impact whether it’s through copywriting, memoir writing or blogging.
I teach adult ESL (English as a Second Language) courses to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. My “writing office” is in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh where I live with my two children and my blessed husband, Haim Sasson, who I met in Israel.
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