Growing up, life seemed to flow along through college. Nothing too deep, no major crises. I put in my work and achieved: academics, athletics…had my group of friends. Then, it hit a bump in the road. ​

my story:

Being an athlete was a major part of my identity, until that disappeared after a nasty knee injury in college. Didn’t help that I was bombing my 200+ student lectures. Too much social life, not enough studying. At the time, I lacked the self-awareness, discipline, tools, and drive to identify and make the necessary lifestyle changes to achieve my goals. So, I transferred back closer to home, had knee surgery, and felt like I’d fallen back to square one.

 

What I didn’t know, was that the falling would continue a little more before it swung back up. My father, the rock of the family, had a heart attack. He survived and recovered, but life was never the same: we all changed deeply and for the good.

 

I was learning that challenges aren’t always what they seem, and that they often contain a far greater good. Confronted with some serious things in life that “weren’t going according to plan,” my plan, I grappled for answers and found the knowledge of life and the universe I had acquired to that point was – useless. It was a huge dose of things deeply impacting me that were beyond my direct control.

 

It was spiritual journey time, thanks to food…yes, food. As my father began cutting out unhealthy foods, I joined him, and saw the weight I’d gained after my injury, disappear. And, it felt good to be in control, disciplined. I choose what I would or would not eat. It was such a high, such a deep and real pleasure to be in the driver’s seat in my own life for the first time. I wanted more, and I wanted to know why it worked.

 

I asked, read, explored, tried, discussed, and journeyed talking universe, soul, meaning, and purpose with everyone and anyone I could find. I was taking the unknown path unfolding before me, unsure where it was leading me, but certain I needed and wanted to know.

 

Eventually landing in Israel for a travel and volunteer program from the year, I met spiritual people who lived in the world, not the mountains. People with bills who changed diapers and drove cars, not meditated in centers. It was an introduction to my own heritage and roots: ancient spiritual truths and wisdom for living I never knew it possessed. No one ever taught it to me.

 

It would take years of learning, living, and further

self-exploration to integrate it all and make it a part

of me. And then formal training in counseling to

further my understanding and be able to share it

with others, using it to guide, support, and move

others. It’s an honor to help people on their own

journey’s to find themselves, to change their stories,

to craft their lives anew and find happiness.

It's only a failure if you stop trying

Education:
Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, New York, NY

— Masters of Social Work, 2007

Passed New York State licensing boards – 2007

Kollel Menachem, Safed, Israel — Advanced Judaic Studies, 2001-2003

Rabbinical College of America, Morristown, NJ — B.A. Judaic Studies, 2001

Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY — B.A. Psychology, 1997

Me and my daughter, Devorah. I love bath time. It's bed time that's hard! She's #7 out of 8 kids :)

© 2020 by Zalman Nelson

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