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Ellie’s Magic Carpet


For a year now, Ellie has struggled to jump up onto the living room couch. It seemed odd, since she can easily jump up onto my bed, which is significantly higher off the ground, but Mom pointed out that there is a rug surrounding my bed, and no rug next to the couch (because when Ellie first moved in she peed through the rugs in the living room and hallway to the point where we were afraid to replace them).



But it’s been a year, and we were at Costco recently and saw a (very) cheap area rug that would fit right in front of the couch. It wouldn’t be a terrible loss if the flood of pee returned to wash it away, but, maybe, we thought, it could be the magic trick to allow Ellie to jump up onto the couch instead of needing the Mommy elevator (that would be me) every time.

I was not especially optimistic: one, because Ellie still pees on the exercise mat in my room on occasion, and two, because I didn’t really understand Mom’s logic about wood floor versus rug as effective transport up to the couch. But it was worth a try.

We got home from Costco too exhausted to set up the new rug (this is a constant. I always look forward to going to Costco and I always come home feeling like I ran a marathon in cement shoes), but later in the day Mom set out the area rug, trapping it in place under the coffee table (or whatever you call a low table on wheels that sits in front of the couch and holds all kinds of miscellaneous tchotchkes).

At first, Ellie didn’t seem to notice the new rug. She saw Cricket sitting up on the couch and came over to me, as usual, with her front paws up in the air, asking for the Mommy elevator. But Mom said not to lift her up. “Encourage her to do it herself,” Mom said, sounding loving and sweet despite the horrible cruelty she was asking me to carry out.


“But why, Mommy?”

I got distracted by something (dinner, TV show, news alert, whatever) and then noticed that Ellie was stretched out next to me on the couch, with Cricket looking extra grumpy next to her.



And that was it. The magic carpet had done its job! Ellie has been up and down, with no help from me, dozens of times since then. She still can’t figure out how to jump up onto Grandma’s bed – which is no higher than mine and surrounded by a fluffy rug – but I think that has more to do with Cricket’s dirty looks. It is, after all, Cricket’s bed. She kindly allows Grandma to sleep on it, out of noblesse oblige, but that courtesy clearly does not extend to her sister.

There have been no pee puddles on the new rug so far. It’s possible that Ellie has finally figured out that wee wee pads and carpets are not the same thing. Now if only that knowledge could extend to exercise mats…We’ll have to see how things develop.

I might also have to carry a piece of rug with me to place next to the car, so that Ellie will remember that she can jump onto the backseat by herself. Usually she only jumps in after she’s seen her sister doing it, but maybe the rug could work its magic there too.


In the meantime, I started to think that this metaphor might fit me too. Just like Ellie only needed one extra, small step to allow her to make a big step forward, something to help her feel a bit more secure and supported, would the same trick work for me?


Will it work for Platypus?

I’ve been struggling with the social work job search ever since I passed my licensing exam in the spring. I’ve written cover letters and sent out resumes like a good girl, but inside I’m terrified that someone will actually offer me a job, or even an interview, and call my bluff. This next step just seems too enormous to me. Internships and classwork and graduation and the licensing exam were all big things, but they seemed doable. This next jump feels more like jumping off a cliff.


But after watching Ellie’s transformation into a jumping bean, I started to think about what could serve as my area rug, or magic carpet, to make the next step in my life seem more possible. And then I got an email from one of the rabbis at my synagogue, asking if I’d be interested in teaching in the synagogue school this fall. They’d only need me for two hours a week, to teach Hebrew language and Jewish holidays, and I thought about it, for maybe a second, and wrote back: Yes!!!!



I couldn’t believe I’d written that, and I was even more shocked when I went in for my meeting with the rabbi and couldn’t stop smiling. Teaching? Me? Children?


It’s only two hours a week, so that explains some of the doable-ness, but I think the real magic is that the job is at my synagogue. That’s my safe place. I’ve always been able to do things there that feel impossible everywhere else.

Of course, after I accepted the job, the anxiety flowed in and I started feeling like I had to write out all of my lesson plans for the year within the first twenty-four hours, and all of my internal monsters had to have their say: about what could go wrong, and how badly I could fail, and who would hate me, and on and on. But, surprisingly, but I still wanted to do it. How strange!


“Very strange.”

It’s possible that some part of me is thinking that this two hour a week job will be instead of a part-time/twenty-hour a week job in social work, but I think it’s more that a deal has been struck internally, if I can have this, then you can have social work. I didn’t even know I wanted to do this, or that I could do it. Just like Ellie didn’t know she needed an area rug to get up onto the couch.

I don’t know where any of this will lead, and it’s possible that I will need a few more metaphorical area rugs to get to the long term goal of becoming a therapist, but now I think they might actually be out there, waiting for me to be ready for them, or waiting for me to imagine them into existence.

We’ll have to see. But for now, I really need to memorize the Alephbet (Hebrew alphabet) song, and practice my Hebrew print writing, and figure out what a lesson plan might be. Wish me luck!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl. And if you feel called to write a review of the book on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Izzy. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. Izzy’s father then sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?


About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

85 responses »

  1. Yay for Miss Ellie! We have had a couple of dogs who feared our floors unless they were rug covered. One of ours, our old hound Tucker, was fine until his eyesight began to go. Then he couldn’t manage the hall, couldn’t get across the living room, couldn’t get on or off the couch. Our solution was a whole bunch of cheap and not very attractive rugs.

  2. Rachel–yay for you! I think Ellie’s leap on the couch was a leap for joy (stay with me on this) that something good was coming your way. I am grinning ear to ear. How wonderful is this?!

  3. Dogs often don’t like jumping from a wooden floor because with their nails, they’re afraid they’ll slip. Your rug is knowing that if you can handle kids, you can certainly handle adults! Ellie will be so proud. Good luck! (And a prayer or two, too.)

  4. Weaving Simplicity

    I’m so happy and excited for both of you. One day at a time – sometimes, one hour at a time. Just before my heart surgery, a nurse who worked in a cardiac ICU told me – “You can do this”. And with God’s help – I did. You can do this, Rachel. The same God is there for all of us. Hugs and love to all of you. ❤

  5. Nice opportunity for you. Cheers!

  6. These dogs are adorable! LOve you stories Rachel.

  7. The bald guy next door wears a rug but he doesn’t jump.

  8. Good job with Ellie and the carpet and good luck with the teaching and wherever else God leads you.

  9. Hooray for Ellie! Hooray for you! And for a Rabbi who asks! And for the children! Enjoy this next step (leap?).

  10. This is sensational news—for Ellie and for you. Amazing how a small something can make all the difference. And no need to rush into lesson plans just yet. The kids will guide you on that matter. You’ll get a feel for how they learn and at what pace, and then you’ll be able to plan accordingly. One lesson at a time. Congratulations on taking this wonderful step.

  11. I’m so excited for you Rachel! You’ll be a great teacher 😊❤️

  12. Congratulations, on rug and job.

  13. I think you’re right this important work down at the synagogue could be your very own launch pad.

  14. This is wonderful Rachel! I am thrilled for you and you’ll be fine!
    As for wooden floors, Barney hated it when we put laminated flooring in the bedroom and wouldn’t walk on it. Maggie isn’t keen, but we have all carpets here other than the kitchen and bathroom. Her legs tend to slide on the bathroom though. She doesn’t get up on the couch here, but she odes jump up on the bed as soon as her blanket is in place, then she knows it’s time for bed.

  15. Two hours with the kids is a valuable first step on the way to the rest of your social work career. You didn’t really need a rug, as you said “Yes” without thinking. It’s all there, inside of you. You just have to let it out. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  16. The parable of the rug! I thoroughly enjoyed you post today, Rachel! What a great story!

  17. Yay for Ellie! And yay for you, too! The biggest thing that keeps us from trying is the fear of failure. Once you conquer that fear, you’re good to go!

  18. I love the metaphor! Great post.

  19. Yay for Ellie and the rug! Some dogs can’t jump from laminate or other smooth flooring and a rug or carpet gives their claws something to dig into before take-off. It’s a wonderful metaphor and many congratulations with your teaching job at the synagogue too! 🤗🐾💖🐾 xxx

  20. Congrats on securing a position. Good luck! And kudos to Ellie for managing to overcome the sofa hurdle.

  21. This sounds like a wonderful and fulfilling step forward! Good for you!

  22. Wow, lots going on here. Your mother’s smart about the rug. Xena won’t jump up from my side of the bed because there’s no rug there. Instead, she hopes up and down wanting the Mommy elevator. I tell her to go around and jump up (on her dad’s side) and she runs and does it.
    Ella wil continue to pee on your exercise mat because you can’t get the urine smell out of rubber or whatever it is made of. A new one is your only hope.
    Yay for taking that opportunity to open new doors for yourself. I think that as long as you cannot envision yourself working a job in your field, no offers are going to come. I think once it’s clear to you what you want and feel comfortable doing, the opportunity will arise. What do you think?

  23. I am delighted for you! מזל טוב!

  24. I remember the feeling of being terrified of actually being offered a job after getting my PT liscence – I actually cried after my first phone interview because I was so overwhelmed and scared. Luckily, I eventually got through it and now I feel confident in what I’m doing *and* in my ability to keep learning and improving. I hope you find the teaching position fulfilling! That sounds like it would be fun and interesting. Good luck!

  25. Yay! Ellie did it and you can do it too. Happy for both of you.

  26. the first class I taught, I almost threw up before going in. Who was I to think I could teach this subject? What did I really know about accounting, let alone how to teach? I took a deep breath and remembered my mother saying that if you say anything with enough certainty, people will think you’re a genius. (I think we’re seeing this is action in the news lately) Eleven years later, I still get the “oh, crap, I’m gonna be a miserable failure” butterflies before class, but then I walk in there, and dazzle them with bullshit!

  27. Rachel, this post was such an eye opener for me! Thank you! I don’t have to climb the highest mountain first. I can start with smaller steps to work up to that bigger challenge. (Metaphor; I’m too old to climb mountains). I read your blog every week. I love the stories and pictures of the dogs too. I have two, who are aging. Sniff. But thank you, again.

  28. Yes, a very good start for you – and naturally, one of your dogs offered the little bit of encouragment you needed to accept your own magic carpet.
    Last week Pretty and I had the opportunity to see Avenue Q at a little local theater. I knew nothering about the play except for what Pretty had told me: muppets having sex. Hm. Interesting – and certainly true.
    My favorite muppets, on the other hand, were the ones called the Bad Idea Bears which came along at the most inopportune moments in the muppet “stars” lives.
    My point is that I think all of us have what I now think of as our very own Bad Idea Bears. Beware – I can testify that they are alive and well in my own life so probably in yours, too. My feeling is that your Bad Idea Bears might try to convince you that you are not enough. But they are just that: annoying and wrong.
    You are enough.
    Good luck with your teaching – your students are in for a treat.

  29. Don’t know if you can stream music, but Carrie Newcomer has a great song “You Can Do This Hard Thing.” It encourages me a lot. I am most excited because the offer of the class shows you that you are seen and valued at the synagogue even though you are not married and don’t have children. I know you have struggled with that in the past.

  30. Congratulations on your new teaching opportunity!

  31. Good luck. Sounds like a perfect first step! I am excited for you!

  32. Rachel, congratulations on the part-time job at the synagogue. I have no doubt that this will improve your self-confidence and faith in yourself as well as being a help to others. I struggle with a lack of confidence myself and am wondering about going back to paid work when my health is unpredictable and whether I’m still capable. Indeed, some days it feels like I never was, but then I encounter others who make mistakes and it’s reassuring. We are all human. You might’ve seen that I played my violin recently at an in-house concert and while I was practicing that day, I was absolutely brutal to myself. Told myself I couldn’t do it. That I wasn’t ready. I was turning the audience into their awful, judgement monster to be afraid of. However, the audience was actually very encouraging and made me feel better about myself and were on my side. I took note of that. Most of the time, people are on your side and not trying to bring you down.
    Now, I am having to extend my motivational talks to my daughter. She went away on a school ski trip during the week. It was optional and her closest friend didn’t go and there were a few girls in her room who didn’t like her. She had also been away when they were setting up the bus buddies and she hadn’t met hers before. She finds this sort of thing difficult and I think teenagers find it much more difficult as well. She had a great week away and I hope this experience will stay with her. She will remember how well things new experiences can turn out.
    Hope you have a great weekend.
    Best wishes,

  33. Cute dogs. My 30-something daughter is a social worker in San Francisco, walking her crew all over the city helping them with work issues. They have Downs and other problems. It’s pretty low pay but luckily her tiny flat in the Tenderloin (mixed slum and gentrified) is rent controlled. It does relieve some of her load of terrifying student debt, here in the trumpified USA. But it is a real job that provides real needed help for people, unlike so many ‘bullshit’ jobs that might provide a paycheck but are not even needed and sometimes even harmful-telemarketing, multi-level marketing, real estate, car sales, spam calling, lobbying, mafia hit men, bureaucrats, …
    You will do fine and at least it’s a foot in the door for other useful work. Good luck.

  34. I really love your Elie from your story ….and your patience is gpod for him 😊

  35. Congratulations to Ellie on her new accomplishment! She must feel so happy and proud of herself. Hope your new job at the synagogue works out well.


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