How a trip across the world taught me to enjoy my children more

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I was halfway across the world in a garage full of broken and discarded toys. Tal Tenne Czaczkes is an artist and designer and we were going to do a project with her. I didn’t know exactly what we were in for. But I had a belly full of Jachnun–a delicious Yemenite breakfast and I was pretty much ready for anything else they wanted to throw at us.

This was the fourth day of our Vibe Israel tour. We’d already spent a day in Jerusalem and another with inspiring Middle Eastern women from a Druze community.

Tal showed us an image of her family–Four kids and a husband asleep in the same bed. She stood up to snap the photo. Yes, believe it or not, she was in this puzzle of people before snapping this. I asked her where and how that was possible and she didn’t have any idea either. But it’s an image that sticks in my mind to this day.

a family of 6 bedsharing: Vibe Israel

Photo by Tal Tenne Czaczkes

Brothers, sisters, dad, and mom above, all crammed into one spot. If that isn’t love I don’t know what is. I didn’t know much about her, who she was or her parenting style. But she had my attention, and I was ready to listen.

Moments after stepping into this Israeli art garage, we were each handed a basket full of small toys and instructed to dump them out across the floor. At first it felt a little uncomfortable to be making that kind of mess. But Tal encouraged us. She’s a creative with a childlike love of life. I felt a twinge of satisfaction while I imagined the joy a simple action like this brought to my kids. For Tal, a broken toy is never discarded, but often put to use in another way.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike.

We flipped the baskets over and used them as chairs. Because of course. We sat in a circle around this pile of toys as Tal told us about her philosophy of living life. It’s a conversation I’ll never forget.

If you came home to house flooded with water how would you react? Panic? Cry? Scream? Turn around and walk the other direction, pretending this wasn’t happening? All very understandable reactions.

I listened as she told the story of coming home to a house flooded with water. Many of their belongings were ruined. It was a disaster–If she chose to see it that way. But she didn’t. What was done was done. Instead of crumbling into a pit of sorrow as I likely would have, she doused the floor with dish soap and spawned an indoor slip and slide for her family.

Bad things happen, all the time. But listening to Tal helped me to remember that we don’t have to see it that way. She has a way of transforming frustrating situations into something that brings joy. And memories. And I can’t help but feel like her children are better off because of that.

Becoming childlike

I’m curious when “acting childish” became a negative connotation. Who’s to say being innocent, trusting, accepting, and big dreamers.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike. Mirrors of happiness.

Tal explained how she chooses how she perceives things. We can choose to think and act like adults are expected to, or we can choose to think and act more like children. I look at a messy room as a task I’m obligated to fix. My daughter looks at a messy room as a sign of a fun time that was had.

This mess we made on the floor–The pieces of discarded toys–we turned them into works of art. We dug through to find fragments that reminded us of our childhood, or made us smile. We took a bit of chaos and turned it into something beautiful. Mirrors of Happiness.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike. Mirrors of happiness.

I can stress day in and day out about unfinished tasks, and how good of a mom I wish I was. Or I can enjoy the beautiful mess that is life and see it as my children see it. I can embrace my inner child so that I can cherish my own children more. I’m choosing the latter.



Photos by the amazingly talented Shani Sadicario.

My trip to Israel was organized by Vibe Israel. Their mission is to create conversations – What I learned and decided to share is all my own. You can find out more about Tal Tenne Czaczkes and her art studio by visiting her website.

Here’s a video of the action at Tal’s Art Studio:

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  1. What a beautiful story of resilience and creativity. I often struggle to fight through only seeing the disarray in mess, when in reality, it’s all just beautiful evidence of a vibrant life with kids.

  2. Your story took me back to the time when my own home was flooded in the Flood of ’94 here in Central Georgia. My youngest lost all of her toys. A simple gesture by her Sunday School teacher is still a fond memory because she brought over a few coloring books and some crayons. Sometimes it takes an unfortunate experience to realize what we should be appreciating.
    Your trip has so many wonderful stories and I’ve enjoyed reading them.

  3. I love this so so much! What an amazing woman and a great attitude to have! I struggle sometimes with making the best of an otherwise bad situation but this is so inspirational and I’ll have to try to remember it in the future

  4. What a beautiful discovery. I think we sometimes forget there is beauty in chaos. That messes and disarray are signing of life happening around us. I have always felt there is beauty in the flawed and imperfect things.

  5. This is an amazing entry! I think you are so blessed to have had this experience, I think making the best of a bad situation is so vital to keep your mental health strong and continue that positive attitude! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Jennifer,

    How fun that you go to Israel. My husband and I really want to go there! What’s in this Jachnun dish? I’m shocked that 6 people share a queen sized mattress!

  7. I think we all could really learn from this! What a beautiful goal to be more like our children!

  8. Your family is beautiful! I’m a little embarrassed to say that I only found out about Loving Day recently. It is so crazy that there were laws against interracial families. I’m glad that things have changed and will hopefully continue to change for the better….

  9. This is a great story, I am too. When I see my old toy, it brings back me about childhood. It is the period that I do not care and do not think anything.

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