Four months down in Israel. This month flew by, but then again, I was in London during the first week of December and spent last week in Jerusalem for my Leadership Summit. Like other months, this has been a month full of firsts. My first chance to be a leader, thanks to Masa. The first time going to and from Tel Aviv by myself. The first time I have spent Christmas in another country; when I lived in London three years ago, I made it back to Boston three days before Christmas. I know the New Year will bring me my first New Year’s Eve in a foreign country, along with my first Valentine’s Day/Singles Awareness Day, St. Patrick’s Day (hey, I am Irish on my mother’s side), Passover and my 25th birthday, which falls during Passover. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead as 2014 approaches.

This month I can see happiness in the trees, ruddy swatches against blue sky, there one day and not the next. I hear the wind drifting through the branches and hope the stray cats that climb them will fall down into my arms.

I am still processing everything I learned at the Leadership Summit last week. I had planned to network and gain leadership skills, but I did more than that. I made connections with other Masa participants—true, emotional connections. Although I enjoy my work here in Netanya, it is always nice to switch routines for a bit.

I met people at the Leadership Summit I may never see again. Conversation inevitably turned toward why I came to Israel and what I plan to do when I leave next June. My answers were a little different with each new query. When I am with people I imagine will be part of my life for awhile, I do not hesitate to talk about my experiences here, but last week I stumbled over what should be simple answers to straight-forward questions. What made you come here? What’s the next step?

After long days at the Summit, I made it to my hotel room just in time to crawl into bed. I would wake to a sunrise that stretched open its arms, an invitation to explore the white snow, throw snowballs and climb over puddles. These are all solid reminders that nature builds the best playgrounds. I felt anchored in moments that had not yet extended into the future. And also vaguely aware of the past, leadership opportunities denied to me in college like a floater in my field of vision.

These days, all is calm. Except not really. January is less than a week away and there is still so much to do. I am skipping out on putting new songs onto my iPod and watching movies in order to write this post. I could rattle off reasons for the uncalm, but they would pretty much sound like everyone else’s. Everything feels fast this month. Everything is calling loudly and I do answer all the calls, except for the one inside—the one that might actually calm the noise that makes it impossible to focus fully on any of the things I am hearing.

December really has been busy, as slow as I have tried to make it. I can hear the quiet voice, well, I hear some of my Fellows blowing noisemakers in the hallway since our Fellow, Michael, is celebrating his birthday. At least when I get into my zone, the quiet voice is telling me to slow down. And I am listening.