| LifeTakes |

Cartwheels In the Kitchen

It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty good. My kids cheered, and I looked at them and smiled


The sun was slowly sinking in the sky, and I felt ready to join. The table was covered with debris from a recent art project and cornflakes carpeted the floor. Yakov Shwekey’s upbeat lyrics were drowned out by a chorus of “there’s nothing I like for supper.” The screaming baby joined them.

With each passing minute I was getting more and more stressed out; I felt like I was walking on the edge of sanity and might fall off very soon.

“You know what I’m in the mood of?” I asked my 12-year-old daughter, as I surveyed the chaos in front of me. “I feel like doing a cartwheel.”

It had been many years since I’d last done cartwheels, but something inside pushed me to act a little crazy. Maybe my recently celebrated 40th birthday inspired an inner need to prove to myself that I was still young.

As I began to stretch my leg, I heard a voice inside me say “No way, this is not for you! It can be dangerous. You’re too old. Don’t do it!” Part of me wanted to push myself to do it, but part of me was scared. I remembered the last time I had felt this way.

Last fall my husband and went on a hike to Nachal Og, a stream in the Judean desert on the way down to the Dead Sea. It was the perfect location; close enough to Yerushalayim, but far enough to feel like we had been away.


We began with on an observation point overlooking the mountains. We sat there for a few minutes enjoying the quiet and the scenery, then we set off on our hike, following a trail leading down the mountain. We were doing well, and I was proud of us for daring to try something new. Until we got to the ladders. My kids had warned me about this part. They told me that it might be too hard for me.


I looked up, and all I saw were countless rungs going straight up, built into the side of the mountain. Then something inside me began to tingle, and I felt a sensation similar to what I feel before giving birth — a tinge of excitement mixed with a deep pit of fear. I whispered a few verses of Tehillim.

“Do you want me to go in front of you or to follow you?” my husband asked, feeling out the ladders. I didn’t know what to say. The uneasiness in my stomach was growing by the second.

“Are you okay?” my husband asked me.

“Yeah. I think so,” I said, not wanting to sound like a baby. I had chosen to go on this trip, after all. I didn’t want to admit my fear.

My husband put his arms and legs on the rungs and started climbing. I looked straight up and whispered under my breath, “Hashem, help me do this,” as I put my hand on the first rung.

That moment was the hardest, but the fear was still there every time I moved up to the next rung. One wrong move, and… In my mind I knew that it was going to be okay, plenty of people had done this before me, but that deep survival instinct told me otherwise.

I climbed that ladder and moved on to the next. Each step I took was a challenge and a victory. I thanked Hashem for His support at every step — both here and in my life; my vulnerability underscoring my true helplessness. I got to the top and stopped to admire the view. It was a grey, overcast day but the desert mountains were starkly beautiful. Looking around, I felt a sense of accomplishment.

Even at 40, I can still climb mountains, albeit not with the song in my step and the carefree abandon I had as a teenager. I had to push myself, and I did so with the weight of my life’s experiences behind me, both the successes and failures.

That trip had been wonderful, and I wished I could escape from today’s pre-bedtime craziness to some oasis in the desert. Instead I closed my eyes, gathered courage from a place deep inside, and lifted my legs into a twirling cartwheel. It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty good. My kids cheered, and I looked at them and smiled.

“Not bad for a 40-year-old,” I said as I picked up the crying baby and headed on to climb my next mountain.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 708)

Oops! We could not locate your form.