I’d like to think that teaching English to Israeli schoolchildren was the ultimate cultural journey, but my life coach saw it as one that would allow me to connect all the dots of my life purpose and help guide me forward.
It all began in March of 2011, when she asked in an email: “Where do you think your life story could lead you – if you allowed it to lead the way? What do you think you could gain, both personally and professionally, if you came out fully with your life story?”
After years of living on a kibbutz and teaching English to Israeli schoolchildren, both my husband and I felt we needed a professional change. We decided to try our luck in a Jewish community in Pittsburgh. Unlike other newcomers from Israel we met, we didn’t have friends, family, or a job waiting.
Even though I was a returning American who spoke fluent English, I felt everyone around me was speaking another language. I had left the US in 1988 as a teenager, and came back a mom and a wife almost twenty years later. “What’s an SUV?” I would ask. “What’s Target?” But what I was really looking for was a deeper connection to family and friends. Coming back to live permanently in the US after all those years in Israel had triggered deep and painful memories from my childhood home in New York City – mainly of social and emotional isolation.
In Pittsburgh, I didn’t have the support system that most women my age with young children had, and I had another problem – I felt like an outsider. I was uprooted. At times it seemed that the strangers sitting next to me on a bus were my only family. Perhaps they could even understand me at that moment. Maybe because they looked lonely too. I didn’t know how to react to this new environment at first, so I started a journal to help me cope with the social and emotional isolation I felt from sacrificing my own home, family, and friends. I recorded what people said and how they looked – no matter how painful the scenario – in order to get perspective. Sometimes the small-town mentality of Pittsburgh was too friendly and it unnerved me. Other times it was too unsettling. The theme of “finding a connection in a world of darkness” very quickly emerged in my writing.
Flashbacks were everywhere. If I heard a chopper, I would immediately flash back to the news of a terrorist attack. When I stood in front of twenty quiet, motivated, and eager ESL (English as a Second Language) adult learners, I kept waiting for that Israeli high school student to speak with chutzpah, as they say, with audacity.
During that first year, I said to my adult ESL students, “We share a global language. I know what it’s like to live in a foreign country and be misunderstood, alone, and isolated. I know what it’s like to give up everything for the sake of something new and unfamiliar.” They smiled. Like a bowl of hot chicken soup, my words warmed them.
Up to that point, no one had ever “heard” or “seen” me in my writing, but in the program I had the chance to finally strip myself down. I shared some of my snippets of writing with other professional women. They loved the imagery and the feelings they evoked, and how I tapped in to my “now guidance” to help me step into my own light.
One day, I got this email from my life coach: “My very strong sense is – there’s a whole new path waiting for you. It will make use of your talents as a storyteller, your training as a teacher, your very natural gifts for connecting with those who feel like they ‘don’t fit in,’ and your brilliant gifts as a writer.”
This really spoke to me. Could this be the big break I was looking for?
Being heard and seen gave me a reason to let my soul shine for myself and for others. There was a certain magic that happened in the following months, when I felt recognized and valuable.
How many times had I wanted to say something and didn’t? How many times had I tried to transform the silence into something creative? When I was surrounded by other English teachers in Israel, I felt like a foreigner because everyone came from different worlds. When I was among native Israeli-born teachers, I stayed silent because I knew I was “the English-speaking American” who wasn’t taken seriously.
I created a blog called “The Voice of My Life Story” that allowed me to experiment and let people see my “pain stories.” For example, in the post “Finding My Tribe: From Israel to Pittsburgh,” I describe the process of hearing two different voices from two different linguistic settings, always trying to remember where I came from.
I got comments like:
- “I like what you shared about acculturation.”
- “Very personal and heartfelt. You have found yourself and you know where you are going. Good for you.”
- “This is eye opening and should make every reader who is native to the United States have some empathy for those who have chosen to come here. Thanks for sharing your insight.”
- “Wow, love this post, all the tribes we have joined, and continue to join daily!”
People were actually reading and commenting on my writing. Wow! In creation mode, my enthusiasm about my new direction jumped. The new blog made it real.
I take this as a sign that my purpose is slowly aligning with the universe.
And so each morning, I gracefully welcome in my tribe and all possibilities of who I can be.
Dorit Sasson Bio: Dorit Sasson, The Story Mentor, is founder of Giving Voice to Your Story and Market Your Compelling Story with Passion System that shows you exactly how to attract more clients using your compelling story. To get your F.R.E.E. 2 part MP3 teleseminar series and receive her bimonthly marketing & story success articles on attracting ideal clients, visit http://www.GivingVoicetoVoicelessBook.com
Here is where you can get a copy of Dorit’s book.
Sonia Marsh Says: I am intrigued by your concept of “looking for was a deeper connection to family and friends.” I can relate to what you said about not belonging or perhaps the word is being “accepted” in any one particular country. You made me realize through your writing, that this may be the reason why you, and I, look for those meaningful connections. I also admire that you have a natural gift for connecting with those who feel like they ‘don’t fit in.’
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