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  • Writer's picturecharlie kesem

‘Tis the Season

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

Christmas Day. England. 2017. Another year has passed. And oh so soon, I’ll turn 31.

This is the year.

This is my year.


Living in Israel as an olah chadasha (new immigrant, 2 years to date in this fine land), one often gets asked the question, “so why, Israel?” Some ask with an air of complete disbelief that someone would actually choose to come and live there, especially with no family. And some, with or without simple explanation, just get it.

Depending on who asks, when they ask and my current mood, different answers bubble up. The weather, the warm people, the warm culture; these are some of the short answers. I’m looking for a nice husband; the comedic answer that usually shuts people up! The extended version is that I simply never “found” myself or my place in England. And every time I came to Israel over my twenties (travelling independently, volunteering), I found myself opening and blossoming like a sunflower. That’s not to say that all times were rosy in Israel – this land was the backdrop to the beginnings of a psycho-spiritual (mental) breakdown that happened in 2014 and irrevocably changed my life. But somehow, somewhere (over the rainbow), I always knew it was the place for me.


Whenever I return to the UK, this visit being the second time in 2 years, I notice the triggers and discomfort it seems to arouse in me. I know, I know, rain and clouds and winds are a blessing, but the grey skies that consistently cover the Sun in this country seem to make my inner sunflower wilt and droop and retreat into her cave. I seem to associate the greyness of this place with a lot of unhappy memories.

And now, after almost 31 years of existence on Planet Earth, I see the bigger picture. My life in London and around, I now see in hindsight as a rich training ground that prepared me for moving to a new country alone and establishing my life and art there. After many years of considering living in Israel, I am truly delighted and grateful that I took time to make the step, and had the experiences that I had prior to moving there. These experiences shaped who I am and gave me a solid foundation and roots in my Motherland, from which I could fly.

From early days spent at Moishe House in Willesden Green (a Jewish community building organisation for 20-somethings), to co-founding a community house up the road (based around conscious movement practices), to organising a festival for 150 people in our back garden, to studying at the International School of Storytelling, and many, many other things – I learnt from exceptional teachers, facilitators and my peers around me. I learnt how to “hold space” for groups, with sensitivity, inclusivity and playfulness. I learnt how to stand on a stage and tell a story or perform with confidence, opening my voice and my heart and inspiring others to do the game. I gathered many tools for my magicians’ toolbox, with which to create and weave magic. I even took on the name Kesem (meaning magic in Hebrew). And by the time I reached Israel, I learnt that what I needed most was to plant my feet in the ground in a place that I adore, surround myself with people I adore, and fill my days with doing things I adore.

It’s amazing what can happen if we really just give ourselves permission, take the limits off and dare to live our dreams.


So back to Christmas Day in the UK.

I promised myself I would simply try to enjoy my time here and not over think and analyse too much. The reality is, although it’s hard being far away from my family, its also hard being close to them. It doesn’t help that I have a phobia of group social situations that are centred only around food and talking! As soon as the guitar comes out, phew, I can relax.

For me, there is also a distinct flavour in the air, inescapably present in this holiday season – the tension between joy and depression and the feeling of “supposed” to be feeling happy. My mind cannot help but wander towards the excessive consumerism that this holiday is entrenched in, and the vulnerable, isolated people in this world and am I doing enough to give to those in need?

We’ve just passed the Winter Solstice, the darkest time of year, and so once again, we are heading into the light.

I find it’s important and a good time to reflect and act on the ways I can improve my contribution to the world – whether that’s through deep healing from within or outward reaching action. Mostly, as long as we can be kind to ourselves and cultivate a good relationship with our heart centre, I’d say we are on the right track…

I wish for all of us a year where we can tap into this authenticity – what do I really need to walk in joy, beauty and grace in this world? What are my unique gifts to bring to the world? What gifts would I wish to be granted for myself?

Wish upon a star, give thanks, dream big, reach out… and let’s make it happen. Together.

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