Clear As Mud

Window to the soul

Wouldn’t it be nice if when we plan something it actually pans out the way that we expected? That has rarely been my experience, and I think it’s safe to say that most of you can relate.

It is complicated to figure out a summer plan that addresses to some degree all the diverse needs of our kids. So, this was my plan – Shoshana spends some time working with horses on a ranch in Wyoming. Chaya goes to overnight camp for a month, Zeesy goes to Camp Simcha for two weeks and then they join me, Menny and Chana Laya in San Antonio (where I grew up) for five weeks where they will go to camp, getting a good dose of family that we don’t see all year! 

Perfect plan 🙂 We have done variations of such summer plans for a few years, and it worked well. 

Turns out that this year it’s not working.  All the carefully thought out and intentional plans we spent a lot of time agonizing over are just not cutting it.

I am so grateful that through years of therapy and a very encouraging and supportive husband, we were able to do some serious reevaluating and make some quick changes. I really feel like without this personal and team work I could’ve been so easily stuck and would’ve been like, this is our plans, everything is dependent on each other, we just have to deal with it and survive till it’s over. 

Ok, so I’m sure you’re wondering: what happened already? what did you have to change?

Menny was really struggling. Definitely learning a lot about the kind of environment he needs to function well. The dynamics of camp and a very busy noisy household was triggering him constantly. I gave it quite a bit of time to see if after the transition period he would start to acclimate, but it just progressively kept getting worse. We provided many different creative ways to support him, It just wasn’t working. It just became clear that something needed to change. 

Part of the plan that I haven’t mentioned yet is that when I’m in Texas my husband is holding down the fort in Bozeman and uses this time to get a lot of work done. We each try to be flexible and accommodate what needs to happen. I am alone with kids and my husband is catering and cooking for tourists without me (delving into that is a whole other post).  

When it became clear that we needed to PIVOT (sorry if you’re annoyed with that word) we needed to figure out what felt right. Do we just all go home … that wasn’t sitting well, the other kids were doing well and had nothing to do at home. So, after much deliberation we decided that Menny needed to go home, so on two hours’ notice my husband got on a plane landed at midnight and at 4 AM the next morning turned back around with Menny in tow and headed back to Bozeman. Is it a perfect plan? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Is it the best we can do in the moment? I believe it is and so does my husband.

I’ll tell you how I KNOW it’s the best we can make under the circumstances, which is the real purpose of this post. 

After Chaim Shaul (husband) and I had a plan, I needed to speak to Menny. It was so important to me that he should feel and understand the spirit in which this decision was made. The last thing I wanted was for him to feel like he was being punished in any way or that he was bad, or G-d forbid that I couldn’t handle him. Though I can’t control the way he feels or what he absorbs from the decisions we make for him, I needed to talk to him directly. 

This is how the conversation went. 

“Menny, it seems to me that you are having a really hard time here, is that true?” 

“yes, everything is so hard”

“Aba and I have decided that the best thing for you right now is to go home”

Look of relief “yeah, I want to go home”

A few minutes later “mommy I don’t know, I’m going to miss it here… what should I do?”

“does it feel right though, the decision to go home?”


I felt good about this conversation, but you still never know what’s going on deep inside of them.

I really believe Hashem sent me the greatest gift I can ever ask for.

Unbeknownst to me, while I was packing him, he went to one my sisters’ room and started to paint. 

And this is what he painted….

He says to me mommy did you see my painting of me and you?  I was brought to tears. 

To me it says it all, to me it tells me what’s going on in his soul. And I felt at peace. 

What do you see?


Noah has cooked in a variety of kitchens and has studied many different cuisines, but his favorite meals to prepare are the ones that make his guests smile. Be it Thai, Italian, Caribbean or Latin, there is always a fun surprise waiting for you at meal time. Noah welcomes special requests and guests in his kitchen! Just stop by and say hi.

Yocheved Sidof is a social entrepreneur, psycho-mystical depth work facilitator, writer, educator, speaker, and activist. After a decade as a filmmaker and photographer, she founded Lamplighters Yeshivah, a grassroots, internationally acclaimed, progressive Chassidic Montessori school. Yocheved builds communities with healing at the center. Most recently, she founded Ohm’ek, an intentional collective focusing on meditation, embodied mysticism, and micro-retreats.

A lifelong learner, she’s completed extensive training in adaptive leadership, therapeutic coaching, and systemic change. She is currently in a two-year intensive training with Thomas Hubl, studying psycho-somatic-mystical models of healing personal, collective, and ancestral trauma. She also writes, consults, works 1:1 with clients, facilitates group transformational work, and regularly teaches Jewish spiritual studies.

Yocheved sits on boards supporting innovations in mental health awareness and self-transformation. She has studied Jewish mysticism and meditation extensively, including with Rav Katz since 2018, completing Elevation Teacher Training and sitting on his advisory board for over a year.

Yocheved, her husband, and five children live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Come say “Hi!” if you’re in the neighborhood.