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Women, Romance, Fantasy & Reality Blog

Women, Romance, Fantasy and Reality Blog on next Year in Jerusalem

One of the critical mistakes that Natalie makes in her marriage in Next Year in Jerusalem! is not making her desires and needs clear to David. She is a woman with an amazing memory for detail and she is also passionate. The combination is wonderful. But that is a combination of talents that demands a feeling of frequent intimacy with a partner. Natalie needs and craves that intimacy. However, she doesn't understand that in order to get intimacy she has to be willing to share with David more of her inner life and herself. Ok, he's kind of a preoccupied guy. But that doesn't mean he can't make himself available. He loves her. He would probably feel very sad to know that she has busied herself with some very old memories that have nothing to do with him.

Here are some suggestions, Natalie:

  1. Bring David closer to you, not further away by reaching out to him. Don't wait for him to reach out to you! You have the talents. Use them.
  2. Plan a great sexy evening for the both of you and surprise him. He will love it. I promise.

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Natalie, one of the two main characters in Next Year in Jerusalem! isn't that different from a lot of us.  She is married, she has had a 'good' marriage and she has not cheated.  But there is a serious problem looming on the horizon.  She is beginning to feel bored.  David is not as exciting to her as he used to be.  And what is worse, she has been in touch, via Facebook, with an old friend who was quite a lover.  But that was years and years ago!  Yet....the memories linger.  She is about to face fantasy and reality issues that many women face!  The results...well, I don't want to give the plot away.

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Many of you may wonder how I came up with the plot for a romance, mystery, travel book that has a lot of spiritual and religious overtones. My girlfriend and I were chatting over lunch on a summer's day.  We were lamenting the loss of a special teacher in our lives, who now that she had left to teach elsewhere, had become almost like a mystery figure in our lives.  We started to imagine a film where one of the main characters was like this wonderful kind woman.  Suddenly the plot emerged, set in Israel.  Why not?  We would love to visit Jerusalem ourselves and could easily see how this mystical city would lend itself to meeting a mystery woman, some romantic nights, intrigue and the anxiety of unanswered questions. Of course we decided that the two women who meet up with the mystery woman had to be based on us!  Such fun.  Two hours later, the plot for actually two books of three parts each and hopefully a film was launched.

Because my friend Susan and I worked so diligently on the plot together, this book did to some extent stick to the outline.  However, as I began to write the characters began to direct me.  No Natalie didn't want to live in Manhattan!  Norwalk worked much better for her.  And Maggie I guess needed two love interests, one in White Plains and one in Jerusalem. That was certainly not in the original plot!  And I never expected Natalie to be as obsessed with her old boyfriend Jack as she turned out to be.  Wow, all of this was beginning to get very interesting, particularly when Jack showed up in Jerusalem.

I thought a lot about Natalie, Maggie and Chaya Sarah, the mystery women, and did create back stories for each of them that don't actually appear in the book.  Some of the back stories are in Natalie and Maggie's notes to each other on my blog: .  For example, Maggie is struggling with self-esteem issues around dealing with a guy, after coming out of a bad marriage.  In the book we see her doing quite well with two guys, but her issues are still there to some extent.

One of my favorite parts of  Next Year in Jerusalem, Part 1 is the love scene between Natalie and Jack, her old boyfriend, right at the end.  I like the love scene because I think it is very realistic as to what might happen between oneself and an old flame if one goes down a dark alley at night!

Yes, there are so many universal themes in this book.  Issues that are so universal, like the return of  old feelings about someone who was in our life, or simply the yearning to travel and maybe indulge in some romantic or mystical travel.  And who wouldn't like to solving a mystery, as long as nothing really bad happens. I love speaking as a psychologist and an author about these themes and look forward to skype interviews with Book Clubs and giving webinars around some of these themes.

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You may be wondering why I chose the title Next Year in Jerusalem! for my new novel.  Why not Forbidden Romance or Romantic Travel or Spiritual Awakenings or Lust, Memories and Old Friends on Facebook?  After all Natalie and Maggie are two women, both caught up in issues that many of us face: a somewhat dull but faithful husband; a bad marriage leading finally to a divorce; a desire for adventure; unsatisfied spiritual longings.  They have a great friendship with each other, something research keeps confirming, keeps us young and emotionally happy, but life is far from easy for either women. 

So again, why would I focus on a strange title that comes out of a book written thousands of years ago? 

Here is one of the reasons.  Next Year in Jerusalem! is actually a phrase that shows up at the end of the Haggadah.  Those of you who are not Jewish may wonder what that is.  The Haggadah is a book that the Jews have used for thousands of years to celebrate and relive the Passover experience.  Many people know that the central theme of the story is how the Jews, who were slaves in Egypt, were finally able to escape and began their long journey of 40 years to get to the promised Land, which was Israel.  However, what a lot of people don't realize is that this theme is universal and can be taken metaphorically for all of us.  That is why when the Haggadah ends with the fourth glass of wine being drunk, and the words, Next Year in Jerusalem! the phrase becomes so significant. 

We all have a struggle in our lives.  We all are searching for personal freedom, whether we are unfortunately in a horrible situation, such as a prison, or whether we are simply trying to be true to our own selves as we age and develop.  I'm going to talk a lot more about this theme. 

However, to make this more real.  Let me give you an example that somewhat parallels some of the struggles that Maggie goes through after her divorce.

Here is what a friend told me about a bad time in her marriage. She had gone to a lecture where the speaker talked about how we all have to go out of our own personal Egypt, at times in our lives. She said that was certainly how she was feeling, struggling through some bad days with her marriage where she often felt criticized or misunderstood. She felt that the language between them no longer worked. All words seemed to lead to further arguments and put-downs. She was trying to find ways to honor herself through speaking 'her own language'. Again, I mean that metaphorically. For example, one day she went out with her fiends, shopping and having so much fun. She felt as if she and was leaving her Egypt for a day and meeting her own needs. She could speak in ways that were understood, and relax without fear of conflict. She could laugh. Her friends 'got it' -whatever 'it' was, they all understood each other. She quickly found herself feeling uplifted during that day's outing.

My friend left her own Egypt, at least for the time being, by maintaining a sense of her own needs and what made her joyful. In her case shopping, good conversation, and laughter with friends was a successful recipe for well-being.

She knew she hadn't reached the promised land yet. She knew she had a difficult marriage to work on and/or ultimately leave, but she found a way to at least temporarily release herself and be was true to herself.  And in this sense she was already on her way to her promised land.  It might take another year or more, but she would get there.  And by the way she did!

So for her, she could honestly say, Next Year in Jerusalem!

I hope you are beginning to understand why it really was important for me to call my book, Next Year in Jerusalem! Romance, Mystery & Spiritual Awakenings.

 Next Year in Jerusalem! An Expression of Hope for All

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As women we have many needs. Some needs are met through personal and intimate relationships. Other needs are met through friendship. Other needs through work and professional lives. Still other needs are met through raising or caring for families. And still other needs are met through fantasy. For example, it is perfectly normal to have fantasy thoughts that we never expect to live out, yet help us get through some very dull or trying times. I don't know if I could have mentally made it through the first few months of caring for my first baby without reading almost all of Agatha Christie's mystery novels and watching As The World Turns on television. Leaving my home via fantasy to follow a murder in a mansion in England or loosing myself in the latest romance taking place on a soap opera, somehow helped me have the energy to change the next diaper and get the formula ready for the next bottle.

On this blog I'll be discussing lots of needs that we have as women and how we can satisfy them and understand ourselves. As a psychologist I'm looking what works for us and what may not. I am sharing advice and also encouraging you to live a passionate life that suits you. I'm encouraging you to be yourself and enjoy the romance of a friendship with yourself. So that means helping you recognize your talents and potential. It means sharing the adventures of life and the fantasy adventures that we all need to keep us going. It means being aware of the spiritual mysteries of life and yet feeling safely grounded as a woman with purpose and meaning in her life. Stick with me, we are going to have a lot of fun!

So what is it that fantasy is doing for us? It almost sounds like it is a battery charger.

Dr. Holstein:

That is a good way to put it. Fantasy does make up for what is often lacking in our lives. It is a free ticket to anywhere. We need stimulation as human beings and we need change. We can't always get either in real life. Fantasy helps make up the gap. That's why it is so important to help kids learn how to properly use their imaginations when they are young. Listening to books read aloud or to drama on audio is very helpful as it forces kids to create scenes in their own minds rather than relying on someone else's creation of the image, like on television.

But let me talk a little more about women and fantasy. Fantasy is a must in so many areas of our lives. As I mentioned before, we can meet stressful times in life. Actually for most of us life is a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs. We never know when we will be walking with a pebble in our shoe or facing a tragic event. One of the ways that we deal with life's mishaps and surprises is through fantasy. It is a lot safer than a handful of pills or a rash act we may regret. Certainly, I'm glad I didn't toss my baby out the window-just joking. But even a crying baby can eventually wear a woman down. That's when other releases and ways to rejuvenate in life become mandatory.

For example, take humor. No one would really want to live through some of Lucy's dilemmas on I Love Lucy. Who would want baking bread rising so high in the oven that it took over the kitchen, or trying to eat so many chocolates you were almost choking. But it is great fantasy to identify with Lucy and her dilemmas. We can feel her pain and delight in her crazy solutions and breath a sign of relief that all is okay in her life at the end of the episode. This is an example of using fantasy to move away from our own daily burdens.

That type of fantasy is totally normal. Thank goodness we have it. It has saved many a child from extra yelling from a frazzled mom and helped plenty of women recover from a boring job or endless traffic to get home.

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