You have covered so much, so graciously and with such obvious wisdom and caring!
Sandra Burt and Linda Perlis
Hosts of the award-winning weekly radio program, Parents’ Perspective
Authors of Raising a Successful Child: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Talents (Ulysses Press, 2007), Washington, D.C. with Kids, 5th Edition (Fodors, 2010), and Parents as Mentors (Prima, 1999).
Dr. Ludman, a renowned clinical psychologist, family therapist and trauma specialist, provides cogent descriptions of life’s challenges, mental exercises that lead to personal insights, and practical advice for dealing effectively and meaningfully with people and events throughout the life-cycle.
Topics include: effective communication, marriage, child-rearing, technology and its challenges to family life, the senior years (our parents’ and our own), bereavement, the role of religion and cultural differences. There are chapters specific to adjustment difficulties of olim, dealing with the effects of terrorism, and having children in the Israeli army.
The book is very clearly written and includes concrete exercises for clarifying one's own thoughts and feelings and for communication with others.
Geulah Grossman, M.Sc.
Certified Family Therapist
Reading Dr. Batya Ludman’s wonderfully wise Life’s Journey: Exploring Relationships, Resolving Conflicts (Devora Publishing, 2011) sparked some memories.
In 1970, when I had my first child, two best-sellers sat on my night-table: the umpteenth edition of Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care and the just-published Future Shock, by Alvin Toffler.
Spock’s message to parents was: "Be confident -- you know more than you think you do – and the rest is clearly explained in this book." Even in 1946, when the book was first published (it’s still going strong, having sold more than 50 million copies in 42 languages), many young parents needed both the encouragement and a friendly knowledge-source, because – like today’s olim -- they were living far from their extended families.
Toffler defined future shock as “a personal perception of too much change in too short a period of time". Although Toffler wrote before anyone could even imagine specific changes like computers in every home (or room) and cellphones in every pocket, he was spot-on in predicting that masses of unexpected or unfamiliar information would weaken one’s sense that “I know how to get along in this world”.
In 1975, when I came on aliya, the only useful book was The WonderPot Cookbook. It taught me about unfamiliar ingredients and non-oven ways to prepare them, but any other info I needed for navigating into Israeli society, and for raising my children within it – was totally unavailable. Knowing Hebrew gave me the illusion that I understood what was going around me. In reality, it’s the culture, not the language, that takes time, patience, and human guidance to understand.
Although future shock now engulfs everyone in “western” society, groups enduring extra-large doses are new parents, parents of teen-agers, and new olim, each making their first entries into unfamiliar worlds. Many people belong simultaneously to two or all of these groups. Oh for a map, and a helping hand!
In her book, Dr. Ludman, a renowned clinical psychologist, family therapist and trauma specialist, provides cogent descriptions of life’s challenges, mental exercises that lead to personal insights, and practical advice for dealing effectively and meaningfully with people and events throughout the life-cycle.
The mental tasks are of two types. The “macro” exercises encourage you to examine (or re-examine!) the values and aspirations which mold your personality and lifestyle. The “micro” exercises focus on small units of thought and behavior. For example, most of us would like to improve the way we deal with anger, both internally and outwardly, but don’t know where to begin. Fury can rise so fast that we experience it as out of our control, unstoppable and unpreventable. Thinking about this in vague general terms will probably get you nowhere, as you discover ruefully the next time anger overwhelms you. Instead, Dr. Ludman suggests a very specific and concrete approach:
- Pick a time in the last week when you were angry. Now, go back and ask some questions as you review your scenario, only this time with some added distance, given the perspective of time.
- What was the situation that made you angry? Who are you angry with, and why? What triggers does this situation evoke that are deeper than those that might actually appear at first glance?
- What are your physical and emotional symptoms (e.g., jaw-clenching, insomnia, palpitations, depression, guilt, other)?
- How do you respond behaviorally (e.g. scream, cry, withdraw, et al)? How long does this response last?
- What do you feel you handled well, and what could use improvement? What were your strengths and weaknesses in this situation?
The ever-pressing routines of daily life lead some of us to neglect the relationships most precious to us, and then to wonder why they have suddenly gone flat. Yet, a very small investment of time can yield exhilarating results.
Catch your partner “being good”. Pick five things each day that you can praise your partner for. These don’t have to be big, but you do have to search a little some days. Tell your partner what you liked and write them down for yourself. Do this for a week and then go back and ask yourself how it went.
Reading the above, you might think “Big deal. Of course every partner likes stroking and praise.” However, the deeper benefit of this deceptively simple exercise is the way it changes the perceptions of the “catcher”, who develops the habit of seeing his/her spouse’s best qualities and deeds.
As we all know (sigh), life in Israel provides endless opportunities for stress. Fortunately, it also has built-in stress relievers, such as strong family support systems and community cohesiveness. However, in their first years here, olim may not yet have these supports. Furthermore, even those of us who do have such supports can need more during acute or ongoing crises. Ludman gives detailed explanations of relaxation and breathing exercises, which can be practiced as a daily routine and/or mobilized when we need them most. The Hebrew connection between neshama (soul) and neshima (breathing) underscore the mind-body interactions that make breathing exercises so effective.
Other topics raised in this book are effective communication, marriage, child-rearing, technology and its challenges to family life, the senior years (our parents’ and our own), bereavement, and much more. One chapter, “Take Your Foot Off the Gas”, should be translated into Hebrew and read together by all Mediterranean parents and their new-driver teenagers.
In addition to the high quality and scope of its advice, what makes the book unique is its chapters on life in Israel – the initial aliya adjustments, the difficulties of living far from loved ones, dealing with children’s teachers, coping with terror and the threat of terror, worries about our soldier-children, the roles of religion and culture in our lives, and all these combined. Here’s one of my favorite paragraphs (it was hard to choose...): Pretend for a moment that you are from another planet. Remember, life is not what you knew back home. Appreciate all the things your new life has to offer and enjoy your adopted country’s strengths.....Where else do you see pink and red flowers growing on the same tree?..... You have to be moved when the bus driver, the woman at the checkout and the gym instructor all say Shabbat Shalom.
Life’s Journey is an excellent gift for anyone at any stage of life’s journey – especially (but not only) if that journey includes aliya.
Geulah Grossman is an individual, marital and family therapist practicing in Raanana, Jerusalem and Karnei Shomron.
Dr. Ludman wrote a book that should become mandatory reading for future and present parents, future and present couples and anyone who wants to learn about themselves. The book deals with feelings, relationships and conflicts from birth to death and everything in between. It has a chapter dealing with cancer (as a survivor, I can really appreciate it), fear of dentist, dealing with your teenager, anger, separation, divorce, mixed families and so much more.
The tone of the book is warm, understanding, down to earth, well researched with many examples from the doctor's practice. There are questionnaires about your parenting and partner skills that can be used in a professional office or casually .
Love and respect for each other, for other people, for your country-there are all in this beautiful book, a life's journey indeed. Read it and tell your friends to read it. This book is a gift for us all.
Dr. E. F.
5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com
A wonderful book, August 19, 2011
I have just finished one reading of your book, and will go back and re-read some of the relevant chapters again. I must say I am very impressed by how comprehensive the contents are, you have managed to cover everything, as far as I can tell.
I was a little surprised at the style, I am just not used to the American way of writing, with questions, and comments, but they certainly have their uses, I can see.
Otherwise, I think you have not forgotten anything. I was particularly moved by the chapters about illness and dying, which I think you put very kindly and tactfully.
My heartiest congratulations on a clear, concise volume. Waiting for the next one!!!
Rusty Mike Radio
In her acknowledgements Dr. Batya Ludman sets the tone for this excellent guide to the twists and turns in the road of life. She writes with warmth about her husband and children, her in-laws, her dear departed parents, as well as her love of Israel.
How, I wonder, will this mellow person impart advice and wisdom to the reader. The answer is, skillfully!
Dr. Batya, as she is known to the readers of "The Doctor is In," an advice column she has been writing for the Jerualem Post for more than 10 years, gives universal answers to personal questions.
A look at the Table of Contents and I couldn't wait to turn to the headings that reached out to me: I'm an in-law, a senior, have teenage grand children ... and a case study and suggestions for handling a gnawing problem, internet addiction.
When my children were young I wish I had known "The Ten Commandments of Parenting." Dr Batya recommends working together to solve problems and find appropriate solutions. That, along with the other commandments: trust, picking your issues, working together, respect, values, rewards, keeping promises, fairness ... all contribute to the possibility of obeying commandment 10, "Make Your House Into a Home."
From "Help! I'm Having a Baby." to "Where Did I Come From," to "The Teenage Years," through young adulthood, marriage, bereavement ... it is all here.
Now, I'm picking up this excellent guide to all stges of living and intend to read the chapter on the senior years, specifically "Retirement, I Can't Wait."
Coral Springs, Florida, USA
5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com
Yes, resolving conflicts ..., October 9, 2011
Dr. Batya Ludman's sage, cogent, kind and sane psychological outlook/interventions permeate her book: Life's Journey: Exploring Relationships, Resolving Conflicts. Written in a style that is beckoning, readable and erudite, I highly recommend this book to both laymen and therapists.
Dr. Judith Guedalia
Director of the Neuropsychology Unit and Chief Psychologist at Shaare Zedek Medical Center
A soothing, hopeful, optimistic tone - and a whole lot of common sense - reverberate throughout the pages of this wise and beautifully written volume. It is chock full of perceptive formulas for achieving a healthy balance in one's journey through life's stages, relationships, challenges and obstacles. Though especially relevant to our lives here in Israel, Dr. Batya Ludman's words of great wisdom and insight address situations and circumstances that are universal. Her advice applies to diverse cultures and populations. The format of her chapters is unique, with interactive questions and exercises for the reader - all those who are seeking guidance as they travel down life's path from birth through death. This reader feels that this is a book to live with, live by, and love.
S. J. L.
Life's Journey is written in very straightforward language, with the author discussing the challenges that people face in life, sensitively, while providing insights and sensible solutions. This book is a road map for people to live more fulfilling, satisfying lives, while bringing them closer to the people they care about.
I couldn't just kick back and relax though when reading Batya's book. She asks questions and rouses readers to look at their own life situations. It's not always easy to peer closely at oneself and the possible disharmony within one's own household. But if readers can be honest with themselves and recognize that they have problems, then they can benefit from Batya's well thought-out resolutions...
ESRA Magazine Issue 164
I finished reading your book for the first time and am now selectively rereading the chapters that are calling out to me!!! It was wonderfully written and you should be very proud of your work. Thank you from a grateful reader!