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What’s the bravest thing you did in 2018?

People found many varied beautiful ways to act on their courage this year, and their words will inspire you
The bravest thing I did this year

Illustration by Avi Katz
The bravest thing I did this year Illustration by Avi Katz

A few days ago, I asked a simple question on Facebook: 

What is the bravest thing you’ve done this year. 

(I was having one of those weeks when the world felt too heavy, the nights too long – the electricity flickered, and the lights went out — and… well, I’m not afraid of the dark or anything. Except maybe sometimes. ) 

So I was thinking about what it means to be brave — what it looks like, and how we relate to it, and  I wanted to be inspired by the wonderful, courageous things that other people have done this year because I was feeling small and vulnerable there in the dark.  

So I asked that simple question, and within minutes, the answers were pouring in from all over the globe.

And I was inspired — and moved to tears .

So as we move toward 2019, I thought it would be nice to share the answers here — because they’re beautiful, and they’re unique, and yet each answer is connected by our shared thread of human strength and determination.

In other words: We rock.

* * *

  • I started my first small business, private daycare.
  • I’m single so I froze my eggs to take control of my family planning. (My hat is off to anyone who does IVF — it was not easy, especially alone)
  • I returned from maternity leave, realized I could be paid a lot more and move up my career prospects in the long-term — and, only two weeks after I returned from maternity leave (16 weeks post C-section), I put myself out there to the hi-tech world. It sounds like an otherwise logical move, but my previous job was 8.5 hours per day and a short walk from my house, not to mention higher up the corporate food chain. In the end, I was at my new job 6 weeks later, and it involves my husband quitting his low paying job and trading it in for two part time jobs closer to our home. We are, (knock on wood), ending the year with nearly double our income and our first car. (And my baby, who was born end of January.) (And I couldn’t have done it without stepping WAY out of my comfort zone. Everyone told me I was crazy.)
  • Released a video about my abuse to raise awareness.
  • I bought a car and force myself to drive every morning (to drop off and then to work) even though I’m terrified of being behind the wheel.
  •  I sought after a job that I wanted in place of a job that wasn’t working for me. Big leap of faith that paid off. Thank G-d!
  •  I started taking clients for Clutter’s Last Stand, interviewed a father two weeks after his son was murdered (Parkland), published in the Jewish Chronicle London 3 times, including an accepted pitch after Ari Fuld HY”D was murdered, pitched large-scale projects to major companies, had a colonoscopy and MRE (not MRI), drove without WAZE from New Jersey to Vermont, rented an apartment which is too expensive yet needed to move from a very unhealthy community, took my car to the test, and last but not least, realized I can network like crazy… as long as chocolate and coffee are nearby.
  • Mailed my art work and a letter and my book that I wrote (my memoirs) to POTUS…
  • My previous company closed the Israeli operation, I was in my first management position so I decided not to leave ’till the last day. To help me releasing stress and to keep busy I started running and I enrolled in a professional pastry school late in the evening. I have been out of work for 5 months and then instead of going back to crazy routine I started working in a non-management position in a small start-up. I felt very brave, maybe it’s a matter of perspective but I definitely felt brave.
  • I’m in a process of helping someone get through her personal crisis. A tragedy struck her abruptly and on top of raising a family and advancing in my career, I’ve dedicated my time to lending her moral support and have recruited help from caring people to check up on her when I’m unavailable.
  • I began saying no to clients, and refused to negotiate prices with them, even though every little bit helps for me. I did the right thing. I felt brave and empowered, and one or two clients even gave in. Now it’s getting easier to say no and stick to my prices. I am meeting with a major institution next week, who is a potential client. I also have a verbal agreement so far with another big, well-known company. In a addition, I will be signing a contract with a third client for monthly hours; my first retainer ever. I also signed an agreement with a well-known universal company based in the US, but the work is on hold for now. That is four big clients. I am sure that all this happened because I was brave enough to let go of the clients that weren’t worth it.
  • I quit my job — the only field I’ve been in, and for 10+ years — with NO backup. Everyone told me I was crazy. A month later I was accepting an offer in my dream field (with limited experience but a lot of chutzpah). So far so good, learning lots and grateful for the opportunity!
  • I started learning Russian 🙂
  •  I made Aliyah!!
  • I started substitute teaching and went back to school.
  • I ran for city council
  •  I went back to school….while working two jobs
  •  I told my boss that I wanted to do something new when I came back from maternity leave. And when he agreed, I originated the role of content strategist and the implementation of UX principles at my company.
  • I’m about to have my first baby
  • I sent my 13-year-old son to a new start up school program a 2-hour drive away from home, based on the professional advice of a prestigious psychologist who recommended he learn in a more hands-on environment and less frontal learning. A lot of leaps of faith and blind trust went into this decision, but he is flourishing and it was definitely the best decision for him.
  •  I went from osek patur (freelance tax status) to osek morshe (requires higher income). For me this took a leap of faith, a lot of bravery.
  • Took my three kids to a holiday in Eliat. 4-hour drive, 2 nights, I was the only adult, and I had put it off for over a year. I was petrified of breaking down on the way and being stranded with the kids but it was fine and I felt I had got over a huge hurdle.
  • I made Aliyah.
  • Had my first Christmas as a stepdad officially. Always feel like I am sort of that awkward third wheel when it comes to the kids.
  • Went to Bethlehem by public transport and said how easy and wonderful it was and then got called a criminal by people on Facebook
  • Ran for city council and won.
  • I left an abusive relationship and learned self defense
  • I posted an opinion that didn’t agree with you or your zealot followers and got toasted…
  • Quit my job to pursue a dream of writing a book!
  • Left a well paid high tech job to pursue my dream.
  • Walking the path with my Mom’s progressive dementia. The long goodbye. More about love than bravery.
  • Went on holiday (to Prague) alone
  • Called myself a writer.
  • Went canvassing 4 times for the Democratic candidate for Congress in the closest swing district to me (he won! we flipped the seat!) despite my introvert nature. The first time I went, I went with my boyfriend. The second time I went, I went alone.
  • Changed my life, sold the house I had been living in for 36 years, got rid of my past, finally came to Jerusalem to search for a different past, writing this from my hotel room. First trip in 10 due to bad health. Wondering what 2019 is going to be.
  • I finished grad school and graduated with honors after wanting to throw the towel in multiple times throughout the journey, in which, at multiple points, I didn’t think I could finish. I now have my dream job
  •  I competed in a dance competition and the last time I did that was in 2000.
  •  I learned to grieve and mourn and live after my best friend died… it was brutal and beautiful. And I couldn’t have done it without my sister-in-grief
  • Said yes when asked to edit a special edition of Maariv; turned out to be awesome
  • Quit…
  • Made Aliyah, had a hip replacement just over six weeks ago and immediately after five and a half weeks flew to South Africa for six days to help my daughter pack up her life and come to Israel, confronted a rude, undermining and obnoxious manager at one of the branches where I work, and refused to work in that branch — a first for me, having more than 30 years of work experience..
  • Came to the aid of a woman being assaulted.
  • Decided to get off my moral high horse, sacrifice my beliefs and lie, in order to get a 9-year criminal indictment against me dropped.
  • Rappelled down the cliff at Mitzpe Ramon (see new profile pic!) 🙂
  • Adopted our foster daughter and birthed our son.
  • I said, Fuck Trump when being deep in the MAGA cult, not one of my braver moments but brave for social media.
  • Went on holiday with my ex-wife and our daughter.
  • Traveling for the first time alone for my 40th birthday. No matter how hard it was to take the leap I had unwaivering knowledge I needed to be at HaKotel on that day. The bravery it took to follow my heart and make it happen was intense (reasons not mentioned) …and I did it. It changed my life. The trip woke me, made me alive & filled my soul. I received gift after gift on that journey. I was given life in Israel. Baruch HaShem. I am so grateful.
  • Left my husband.
  •  I fought for my kid to get the right diagnosis and the right treatment to help him soar.
  • Called it quits on my colon after years of struggling with ulcerative colitis, had a colectomy and learned to live with an ileostomy (poop bag). Outed myself on Facebook and described my years of pain and incontinence to the world to help build awareness of inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Left my country and my confort zone and I came to live to Israel, ’cause I fell in love with an Israeli.
  • I’m going to take this in a different direction because nothing I’ve done matches the bravery I saw first-hand: two weeks ago, my brother and sister-in-law watched their home of 34 years burn to the ground (thank God, all the humans escaped unharmed, but two pets perished). The next day, they began the long road to recovery. Nothing I’ve done this year compares.
  • Left my job to heal and write a book.
  • Let my kid turn 18 and accept that he doesn’t need me that much.
  • Learned to do a handstand. At 59-years-old.
  • Opened my heart up to love again.
  • I created my own business with a new, amazing business partner!
  •  I took a job for half the pay so that I could start my legal internship AND I registered to take two exams to the same end, even though I’m totally sick of taking tests for my profession.
  •  3 months in Israel and West Bank, alone — best decision I ever made.
  • Released an album, five international tours, and I was both Mom & Dad to my 2-year-old son alone for 2 weeks twice this year.
  • Took a leave of absence from work to care for my father during the last five months of his life. I tried to anticipate his needs and provide him with round-the-clock love. Priceless.
  • I loved unconditionally.
  • Accepted that I am a chronic pain warrior for life, and started advocating strongly on my own behalf. I feel more empowered and in control.
  • Ended two friendships because they refused to support my friend who had been raped. My friend is in the same performing art as them and his rapist, but the rapist is a lot more famous. Because of my friend’s courage, other victims have come forward. But not before my friend was excoriated by dozens.
  • I just cut a big piece of my hair because it was full of gum.
  • Moved from a safe, cushiony Anglo bubble community to a hardcore Israeli town.
  • Started a new career and went back to school at the same time. I’m on my way to become a teacher at 31!!!!
  •  I started for the fourth time writing my thesis to finish my degree (every time a different subject).
  • Accepted a position that I didn’t believe I was qualified for.
  • 46 y.o….decided to get my drivers license.
  • I switched fields from nonprofit to high-tech and am braving a long commute a couple days a week for the first time.
  • Posed for someone’s art photography assignment that made me feel really vulnerable and exposed…
  • Applied to a PhD program.
  • Presented at a professional conference.
  • Moved my mother and emptied her apartment.
  • I didn’t jump in front of the train.
  • Not sure if this is brave, but me & husband made 2 bike tours (was my first time) in Europe. The first one was around the Geneva Lake 275 km in 6 days, the second one was in Holland 375 km in 5 days (last day we biked for 13 hours). Planning the 3rd one, probably will be in Poland and will be around 500 km.
  • Stood up to my boss in order to protect my rights.
  • Already a single-mom to a 2-year-old. But kids need siblings. So now I’m pregnant…with twins!
  • I took my 3 kids camping alone for three days.
  • I signed up to give a professional lecture (totally out of my comfort zone).
  • I had a baby.
  • Our family flew to America, 4 kids, one of which a newborn.
  • I stood up for my rights at work — I told them they can’t change my position when I come back from chufshat leida.
  • 12 day road trip, One car, 6 sleeping bags, 2 national parks, Redwood forests, a lot of driving: Portland, Oregon, Seattle, California, Montana, Minnesota.
  •  Got out of bed and faced the day with a smile on my face, despite the knowedge that it was going to be a day from hell… and it was.
  • Moved from better paying (but very crazy) jobs in the tech/start up world to working at a non-profit.
  • Went back to school to finish my BA that I started 9 years ago, while also working the rest of the week. And I am starting the process of getting my driver’s license after I haven’t been behind the wheel of a car on over a decade, and never in Israel…
  • I took a job teaching English in a local school (my Hebrew is terrible making it a very intimidating thing to do).
  • Gave birth to our second child after a fews years of fertility treatment!
  • Started studying for a BA in Law: I am 52, I have a full time job, 7-year old twins, and a great husband.
  • I  had twins…. and I went back to work
  • I got divorced — I initiated it — after 22 years of marriage to a man I’ve been with since the age of 18. I feel reborn! Like 20 kilos lighter 😉
  • I cried at work in front of my coworkers despite working in a male-dominated field.
  • Took on managing a team for a project and rocked it!! Something I was always terried of and am so proud of.
  • I had an abortion.
  • Went hiking in Georgia alone.
  • Converted my medical license and started my first job in Israel less than a year after aliyah.
  • Faced an abusive bully and stood my ground.
  • Went treking around a foreign country for 3.5 weeks with 4 kids.
  • Ran my first official timed race, 5km
  • Worked for the first time in an all Hebrew-speaking environment (was for 3 months). My Hebrew isn’t on a high level and my colleagues pretty much spoke zero English. There were a lot of laughs!
  • Changed my nutrition and went on a health journey
  • Studied basic Arabic and then went go a joint photography class for Palestinian and settler women together.
  • Returned from maternity leave after 2.5 months (split it with my husband).
  • Applied for a higher ranked job (did not get it).
  • Going to be in a fashion show of nursing dresses in a few days (totally out of my comfort zone).
  • Immigrated to Ireland, with my family (wife, 3 kids, 4 pets).
  • Finished an 8-year relationship that was going nowhere! And went back to being a fabulous single mom after 2 years of making aliyah with no family in Israel, but Israel itself.
  • I’m a full-time working mother for the 10th year in a row.
  • Started a new career as an overseas tour guide and began performing in a playback troupe.
  • I faced my fear and made an appointment to see the Dr. about something that didn’t look right. Then had to deal with the fear, being diagnosed with breast cancer. TG I went and it was caught fairly early. I had surgery and finished treatment. And I feel good, and energetic.
  • I said “I’m sorry.”
  • I completed a year long program that helped me overcome my f*****d up relationship with food and eating. Because my relationship to food was just a symptom, it also helped me deal with other issues that I was struggling with.
  • I put my only child into gan and found a job nearby.
  • Did my first exam in Hebrew at 39 weeks pregnant, 10 months after making Aliyah and just got my first job in Israel in this new field and it’s gonna be all in Hebrew.
  • Made aliyah after dreaming about it for 30 years….then, drove on the highway, alone to Tel Aviv, for a job interview. Got the job too!
  •  I got hired when I was almost 6 months pregnant with hyperemesis gravidarum. Worked a lot on mind over matter and went to work every day despite feeling sick and throwing up multiple times a day…
  • Finished the last semester of my MA with my 6 m.o. coming to every class, office hours, and program with me. I even successfully defended my MA final exam with him!
  • I got thrown out of the Knesset while fighting to stop the special ed. law reform which torpedoed the rights of kids with disabilities to be included in “regular” schools.
  • The fact that I dealt with my in-laws on a trip recently was brave for me. (It was my SILs wedding and I really could not get out of the trip). I’m very proud of the way I handled myself considering that there was lots of drama the last time we saw them. In the end the trip went very well.
  • Filing for divorce and becoming self-supporting.
  • Said “No.”
  •  I worked on shifts, also night shifts till 4 a.m. while I raised my 1-year-old girl. My husband also works on shift so it was really a challenge! But I loved the experience and I definitely feel stronger 😉
  •  Opened a business this year: women’s cIothing boutique.
  • Became gluten-free because of medical issues. This caused many of my unable-to-be-diagnosed symptoms to disappear. I also lost 12 kilo and counting! Hears to a healthier me in 2019!
  • Making Aliyah and agreeing to let my husband let his creative juices run so he can figure out what his calling is instead of working right away while I work and make a fraction of what I made in the States
  • I quit my job of five years and got a new job (starting in two weeks) in a different sector. Then I flew to America alone with my 2-year-old to visit my parents for a week during that break.
  • Quitting a job I hated!
  • Made aliyah with my family. Confronted the Israeli vice-consul in New York, who made the process very difficult. I even yelled at him (not sure that’s brave though but I’m pretty shy so maybe it is?!).
  • I dared to wear leopard print!!!!
  • Laser eye surgery
  • Finally got up the nerve to approach a colleague who got me accepted to join a learning/work journey to Jewish villages in Ethiopia for the first time, following 20 years work with the Ethiopian israeli community. I’m sooo excited!
  • Decided to opt out of the crazy housing market circus in the center of Israel and move North.
  • Opened up my own marketing firm!
  • I told my boyfriend I love him. I have pretty bad clinical anxiety that we only diagnosed this year, and emotions have always been my biggest trigger. So verbalizing that commitment was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
  • Dropped out of college and decided to move to a new country on my own.
  • Does not killing myself count? Coz I didn’t do that…despite all the 27 club potential.
  •  Said yes to the referral of three young children who’d just lost their mom to cancer.
  • Told my story to strangers on TOI.
  • I connected with thousands of voters in 10 states via phone, text, and door-knocking to help oust a racist, nihilist GOP House majority.
  • Wrote enough of the first three chapters of my dissertation to be accepted to Proposal Seminar this upcoming semester. At age 63.
  •  I paid a shiva call last week in the house I sold that the new owners rented to friends, and she was suffering with cancer and passed. I knew that I had to go back to my old house where we lived for 32 years, where I sat shiva twice for my parents, and from the minute I parked my car, I was fighting back the tears. When the deceased’s husband said to me in front of everybody that his late wife loved me and stated the reasons, I lost it even more. So, what is brave? Bravery is realizing, that in the grand scheme of things, you are only as “brave“ as the people whom you know generate strength that you are able to absorb. Bury the ego, appreciate what you have and who is in your life and be grateful every day.
  • Went back to school to get my Education Specialist teaching credential.
  • Ended a relationship I never thought I would be able to end.
  • I finally decided to pursue my dream job. I am a well-established oil and gas trader. I got into this business because my father died and I could not leave my mother. I completed my Bachelors from Uni of South Wales I was on my way to get my masters in Germany, then the above incident happened and I had to stay. It took me 8 years to realize what I really wanted, but by that time I was married with 2 kids and runing our family oil and gas business. I was afraid. What if I do not succeed, I have a good thing going here, I will screw up my own and children’s future. I could not sleep for 3 nights. When I informed my family about my plans (it entails leaving everthing in Pakistan and moving to Europe), I faced alot of resistance but I kept my ground.
  • Redrafted.
  • I went through an airport not disguised as a white person
  • I made Aliyah by myself this year with no family here and no Hebrew yet! I just finished Ulpan Etzion (a tiny bit of Hebrew now) and now starting to build a life in Jerusalem. I am very happy with the decision so far 🙂
  •  I blocked a sword with my arm and got 9 stitches for it because I confronted a now former friend over his abusive behavior to his boyfriend.
  • Went to Yemen (although not sure if that was brave or rather stupid), moved to a new country and new region, and started my first real job.
  • Went through chemo and a double mastectomy, all the while parenting and continuing to work with teens — I put on a brave face and showed positivity!
  •  I woke up in the morning.
  • Ran two different 5k obstacles courses — the Rugged Maniac and the Spartan Sprint — having never run a race in my life.
  • We went tubing down a river after a long hard rain. The river was pumping and dangerously fast. We came upon a couple who had capsized, lost their tubes, were pinned against an embankment, holding onto a branch for dear life, unable to climb out of the water and in a death grip on the branch. I passed them, made my way to shore but on the opposite bank, hiked back upsteam to them, carefully waded through the rapids holding my tube till I got close enough to them. I got my tube as close to them as I could and coaxed them into letting go of the branch and making a reach/leap for the tube. Got them in, held on as the river took us again, and used all my.remaining strength to drag them to shore…all of us at the edge of exhaustion. Totally saved their lives. Pretty cool.
  • Moved from the suburbs to Tel Aviv.
  • Started a new career at age 45.
  • Got my health in order! Lost 64 kilo and counting.
  • Left my whole life and extended family and all of my friends and my job and uprooted my husband and children and made Aliyah! Two and a half months in and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made!
  • Took a chance of a relationship with a guy that I was falling in love with. It was scary. Especially after all the hell I’ve been through with other guys. I found out that there are some really great men out there who treat you well. It’s taking some getting used to, but I’m definitely OK with that. I think I found me a keeper!
  • Moved to a new city and state, then started a new career as a model and commercial actor at age 67, after 40 years in a “real” job in the professional Jewish world.
  • Started my first internship — that’s small, but that’s something to me.
  • After suddenly starting to get panic attacks behind the wheel after 20 years of driving, forcing myself to drive even though I was terrified every single second. And getting help.
  • I had weight-loss surgery and lost 100 lbs going against everything I always thought I felt about bodies and my body. I took one barre workout class and found something that truly changed the connection I have with my body’s strength. Yes, becoming a stereotypical hot girl is fun, but it’s also super complicated and confusing. And I’m still gathering what I need to truly write about what goes on in my head because I’m not sure people are ready to hear it.
  • And falling in love. Falling in love has taken far more bravery than surgery. It challenges me in ways I never imagined.
  • Honestly don’t think I’ve done anything brave this year. Maybe admitting that counts? 🙂
  • Flew by myself (I am a nervous flyer) to Boston to read a short story I wrote in front of an audience.
  • I have a list!! But at the top of the list I said to myself screw it, after divorce, I’m taking care of ME and I’m gonna go after my passion to open an art gallery, and that’s exactly what I’ve done!!
  • Went to rehab and maintained sobriety for 7 months.
  • Went to Ethiopia alone, spending over 2 weeks with the Jewish community in Gondar to understand the situation with my own eyes & ears…..because nothing I was hearing/ reading in the media of the remaining Jews in Ethiopia waiting to make Aliyah made any sense to me. (And now I am passionately fighting for their right to come home.) *Note, I didn’t think it was brave at the time, but being there during a “state of emergency” & virtually no tourists/foreigners in Ethiopia & getting a bit stuck in the country makes me look back & think, “ummmmm, wow.”
  • Well, I did place myself between a woman and a Haredi man on the Tel Aviv station platform to stop him insulting her for dressing immodestly. Does that count?
  • Took initiative to meet friends and familiy I’ve not seen for years and did not feel embarassment or guilt!
  •  I saw my only child off to college three-thousand miles away. As a single/solo mom, who raised him without another parent (he had a village, so I can’t take credit for raising him “alone”)…that was probably one of the hardest/bravest things and most fantastic things Ive done. All the hard work, the struggles, the successes, finally paid off seeing him off — brave for him to go, brave for me for not letting him see how heartbroken and excited I was to see him go. Being a solo parent with one child was not easy — but we got through and now, to see him soaring and coming into his own as a college student has been amazing. Allowing myself the simple joys once he left has also been a journey — purchased a few tickets to see shows/music on my own — hadn’t done that in 18 years — couldn’t afford it and he always came first. Well, now that I’m thinking about it, putting myself first for the first time in 18 years was pretty brave. Hope that makes sense.
  •  I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 13 years, taking care of my 3 kids, 2 of whom have special needs. This year, I put myself out there and got a job. I am so proud of myself. Even if I have a LOT of learning to do, I was terrified, but I did it.
  • Opened an indoor play space with coworking and child care. While pregnant. Hardest thing we’ve ever done, opening a brick ‘n mortar business.
  • Packed my suitcase and flew from Israel to NYC for 11 days to refill my creative bucket. I didn’t know a soul in the city except a few FB friends. Was my very first time in the USA. The freedom I felt was indescribable and for the first few days I was speechless, walking around NYC, absorbing all the sounds, the sites and the smells. I miss Central Park.
  • Moved to Israel. Three days ago.
  • Told my job that I’ll quit in a few months to go to the end of the world, to make a road trip in Oceania.
  • Got married.
  • Talk about what I have in mind to President Mahmoud Abbas oo Abu Mazen, who is heading to Jerusalem.
  • Saw a girl being abused by a boyfriend late at night in the pouring rain. Turned the car around and pulled up to the fight. Opened my car door. She jumped in and I sped off with the boyfriend holding onto the door of the car until he flung off and I took her home to her parents.
  • A few months after (still this year), I saw another girl being physically abused by her boyfriend and I tried to stop it. He charged me with a metal bar and I backed off, but I had enough time to film him and his car and plates prior to him speeding off with the girl screaming from the car. Called the police for the second incident, but not the first.
  • Went to Geneva to give witness to a UN Committee Investigating the Protests in the “Occupied Palestinian territories” (aka: Gaza /Israel border).
  • On an invite, I “cold” swam the Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA pier! Almost died, second bravest thing I ever did in my life.
  • Walking the path of caretaking husband with Parkinson’s — very demanding!
  • Fell in love. Seriously. Scariest shit I’ve done in years.
  • Ran for local council.
  • Closed my store and retired.
  • Recognizing I need help and getting that help I need.
  • As a formerly squeamish person, I just started an EMT course. Because I think it is common knowledge everyone should know.
  • Giving away all the clothes that are too small on my kids.
  • I went back to school and became an English high school teacher at 54.
  • I was going to die on my birthday. I had it all planned out. I even went to the place. Then I made one phone call (granted to someone I should probably stop bothering ’cause they have their own things to deal with), and let the person talk me down. Not killing myself, with all the shit in my life, might have been the bravest thing I’ve done in the past 5 years.
  •  I spoke at my father’s funeral. It wasn’t something I knew I wanted to do, but something I didn’t want to regret not doing, so I pushed myself, I cried my way through it, but I’m very glad I did. I don’t believe in having regrets,
  •  I wrote my first TOI blog post, which was very personal.
  • This year, I became a mother.
  • I flew by myself with my 3 kids, 4-, 3- and 1-year-old kids.
  •  I got pregnant again after 3 miscarriages in a row. (Thank God have a beautiful 2-month-old now).
  • Started the process of having a second child and failed two IVF cycles. Getting ready for a third one now.
  •  I crossed the one-year mark in dating an Israeli boy long-distance.
  • Moved my husband to my company and then took him and kid to another country on a two-month assignment. Brave — yes. Successful — not so much.
  • I decided to study event production amd design at the academy in Hebrew! Even though my Hebrew is little and I don’t understand most of the lessons, just because I love this job a lot.
  • I moved my entire family to the US to do a postdoc in the hopes of staying in academia in Israel.
  • Got pregnant with my 3rd and quit my job to start my own business. It’s still scary af and it literally feels like I have to re-collect my courage every day to keep going.
  • I gave birth, including getting the IV and epidural I was terrified of. Then went through recovery and learning to breastfeed almost entirely in Hebrew and with zero separation. I know other mothers had a lot worse, but for me having to haul my swollen self, pee bag, and newborn to the chadar ochel (dining all) flimsy chad pa’ami (disposable) buffet a few hours after labor was tough, brave, and involved a lot of tears. I guess I was foolishly expecting coddling.
  • I studied for and lained a very long aliyah in a women’s Torah reading to help a stranger have an aliyah on her bat mitzvah. First time reading Torah in at least 16 years.
  • I converted my passion for health and fitness into a business! I attained my Fitness Training Certification and opened my business!
  • I gave my baby up for adoption.
  •  I filled out a lot of paperwork I’ve been pushing off, including paperwork to start the process of foster care.
  • I moved to a new community with my family, and I’m being proactive about making new friends, even though it’s really hard for me.
  • I also got myself braces.
  • I began my masters in developmental psych after a rigorous application process, had my third baby in my first semester (5 weeks ago), and went back to school at 2 weeks postpartum
  • I was feeling unfulfilled at my job in high tech so I found another job once a week working for a prominent pediatric ophthalmologist (I’m an optometrist). My first job agreed to let me go down to four days a week. Finding the job at the eye clinic took a lot of initiative and guts. I’m so excited to be improving my clinical skills! I start in three weeks!
  • I stopped breast feeding my son when it wasn’t working for either of us. And I took a job when my son was under a year old because it was what I needed. And gosh, I love my job, but it was so hard to leave my son after having such a hard time bonding with him and then succeeding.
  •  I tried a new career. I wrote the first draft of an awesome book. I started to give webinars in my new field.
  •  I (finally) got my driver’s license at 32 and a week later leased my very first car, so my daughter and I could move in with my boyfriend.
  •  i quit my job to become my own boss!
  • Admitting my mistake in front of a student and their parent and apologizing.
  • I have 3 daughters and a baby boy… I got rid of almost all girl clothes that my girls grew out of (that have been in the machsan for 5 years) & as my baby grows out of his clothes, been giving those away too. Difficult, but needs to get done!
  • Signed unemployment every week for 6 months, with my baby, rain or shine
  • 2 open mic’s with my sometimes nsfw poems.
  • Had a baby at objectively the worst time in my career. Still killed it professionally and learned to advocate for myself (at least a little, sometimes). Went back to work, with my baby still waking up every 2-3 hours all night, and started understanding how life is going to look as a mother-lawyer. And did not regret any of it
  • Gave a presentation in Hebrew to reps from the iriyah (city municipality), bituach leumi (national insurance), and misrad harevacha (social welfare). Gave birth 3 days later. I still don’t know which was more painful.
  • Decided I need a divorce and started working towards that goal.
  • Got my driver’s license this year, at age 30, and started driving right away!
  • Started attending a painting class even though I am not naturally good at art.
  • Signed up my kids to an after-school program. They’ve been with me at home after school and/or gan always before this, so it wasn’t a decision that came easily to me. Thankfully, they like it.
  • Also started taking active, consistent steps to improve my health.
  • I’m curating an exhibition honoring my parents.
  • Started running.
  • I have been trying to think of *anything* brave I did this year, and coming up empty. There are plenty of years where there would be examples, I just didn’t think this was one of them. And then I remembered that we hosted a birthday party for 30 5-year-olds, and survived (without hiring entertainers). And we had a birthday sleepover for eight 10-year-old boys, and we survived that too. Those were both pretty brave!
  • Ooo, here’s a good one. I yelled at a bunch of teenagers in Hebrew on the playground for cussing loudly in front of my kids. It worked.
  •  I made Aliyah at age 45. With two teenagers (and a 7-year-old). Bravest thing I’ve ever done!
  • I said no to my 3-year-old when she asked for candy even though I know she would throw a fit for 2 hours.
  • I got a puppy even though everyone thought (and still thinks) I’m crazy.  I said it was for the kids and my disabled husband but as my husband worsens I realized I needed something cute and comforting, too. Some days I want to give him away because do I really need yet one more thing dependant on me (and following me everywhere and crying when I leave), but the kids are growing up and soon enough it will be just me and my ever-worsening husband, so I’m sticking it out. And NO I did NOT adopt because I wanted the kids and husband to bond with a puppy and I wanted the best as possible guarantee that he’d be in good condition and healthy and also because I don’t have the time or energy to track down a dog. And I’m brave every time I need to explain why I didn’t adopt to self-righteous animal lovers. I believe adopting is the right thing to do, it just didn’t work for me.
  • Oh, and I started and stuck with therapy.
  • Picked up and moved my life to a Balearic island
  • Leaving my current life for love.
  • I said “Yes.”

* * *

All of these answers are in the style and wording as people responded. The only changes are to correct grammatical errors or typos, and to explain Hebrew terms.  I didn’t censor.  I also have not included names — if you see your contribution here on the list and you want to take credit, I hope you will in the comments. And if you aren’t on the list here and you want to be included, please add your story to the comments.

Wishing all of you a beautiful 2019 — may we all go forward strength to strength.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Times of Israel's New Media editor, lives in Israel with her two kids in a village next to rolling fields. Sarah likes taking pictures, climbing roofs, and talking to strangers. She is the author of the book Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered. Sarah is a work in progress.
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