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