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(Note: Reflecting about life and how to best move forward is what I do. One of my favorite teachers/writers, SARK, often talks about living in the “marvelous messy middle”. I think we all do that, but only some of us open the windows or doors for others to peek in. Hineini, here I am in all my rawness and passion. Hang on for the ride. If your interested, here is where this series begins.   https://lightwavejourney.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/time-to-heal-building-a-stronger-foundation/)

No one wants to be misunderstood or told that they are limited. I am no different. Most of my life I have felt the need to defend my thoughts and my feelings. But something is evolving at this point in time. I am learning – slowly – to say what I think without having to pound it metaphorically into anyone’s head. I do like to be heard, but I am becoming ok when people don’t see things my way.

Day 20

The last year has challenged me on a daily and sometimes on an hourly basis. My views on the political climate in the United States and Israel are not always on par with what others think or believe. With Trump and Netanyahu in the leadership of the two countries I profess to love, I struggle with the venom that they bring out in me. The good news is that I am blessed to have a fabulous village of people that share my beliefs. Unfortunately though, not everyone is as enlightened as we are.  :/

This has caused me some grief. Only in the last week or two have I begun to see a shift in my attitudes. I am learning to share my opinions without feeling explosive when I learn that I am not preaching to the choir. In return, I am learning to hear the views of others and usually find an ounce of wisdom if not more.

My intensity is impenetrable at times. With passion overflowing, it is hard for me to cope with how I feel. This must mean that others have found me impossible at times.

In my need for calmness, I am seeking balance in all areas of my life. I am also accepting that while I may believe that I am ‘right’, I need to take time to hear those I respect.  When people share their proofs and articles, their documentaries and diatribes, I am trying to take time to listen– really listen. And sometimes, I am even blessed to gain a new insight.

The key to me is that I automatically shut down when the name calling or nastiness begins. And I am trying to disengage with kindness or at least without being nasty too.  To be honest, a part of me believes in karma…..so I better watch myself. 😀

Over the last few days, I have found a dramatic increase in political arguments. With the tensions in Gaza being what they are, I am struggling with all of the variables only to realize that what’s happening is beyond complicated. In my devastation, I began to understand that some of my views needed to be negotiated differently which means I needed to listen more intently to views that often rubbed me the wrong way.

In truth, I am not evolving too dramatically, I am still liberal in my politics. I am, however, realizing that there are so m any narratives in this world. And if I am going to build bridges and relationships with others, I need to learn to embrace the challenging conversations with a little more openness and respect.

Relationships are complicated – always. Yet if I want to develop healthier and more beautiful connections, I need to remain conscious and mindful that what I say and how I say it makes a difference.  And I have to remain on the path to really listen to what others have to say.

Hineini, Here I am – I have a lot more work to do. I am on it!

Feel free to join me over the coming weeks as I continue to unveil some of the moving parts that I am navigating and myriad of ways I hope to stretch, to grow, and ultimately to heal. My hope is that as I share some of my story, I may inspire you in some small way.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: If you read to the end and if you like what I have to share, I’d love it if you would let me know by liking or commenting on my post.)

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(Note: Reflecting about life and how to best move forward is what I do. One of my favorite teachers/writers, SARK, often talks about living in the “marvelous messy middle”. I think we all do that, but only some of us open the windows or doors for others to peek in. Hineini, here I am in all my rawness and passion. Hang on for the ride. If your interested, here is where this series begins. https://lightwavejourney.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/time-to-heal-building-a-stronger-foundation/)

A succulent wild woman is one of any age who feels free to fully
express herself in every dimension of her life.”
~ SARK, Succulent Wild Woman

About ten years ago, I wrote a chant with two words. Shema Koli, translated to mean, ‘Hear my voice’. This was a sweet reminder that I had to honor my own voice, share my voice with those closest to me, and do my my part to engage fully and authentically with the universe.

Living out loud or sharing myself fully to the world around me isn’t easy. As a Jewish communal professional, people often want to put me in a box. And in truth, it is important for me to meet people where they are and to connect with them.  AND at the same time, I don’t have a choice, I have to remain true to myself – always.

drumming with dog

Over the past several months, I struggled with what it means to exist with my perpetual state of darkness. I didn’t think that anyone would really want to navigate how sad I was, so instead I went inside myself and compartmentalized as much as possible. This meant that I was able to keep working, but I also felt painfully alone at all other times.

Fortunately, years of being so rooted in authenticity and sharing my voice made it nearly impossible for me to remain in my self imposed alone-ness for long. Years of being ‘real’ allowed me to return relatively quickly.

I am so jazzed that after years of developing such a beautiful practice of being present, I show up in all of my vulnerability, with all of my passion, and with my amazing spirit. I march to my own drummer and I also try to find a rhythm that allows for connecting with myself, my many communities, and the larger world.

Feel free to join me over the coming weeks as I continue to unveil some of the moving parts that I am navigating and myriad of ways I hope to stretch, to grow, and ultimately to heal. My hope is that as I share some of my story, I may inspire you in some small way.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: If you read to the end and if you like what I have to share, I’d love it if you would let me know by liking or commenting on my post.)

Over the past months, I have struggled to find balance and to quiet my spirit. Inside my soul, I could feel my body, my mind, and my soul wrestling. They were struggling with a broken heart, the feeling that I wasn’t enough in any area of my life, and with this deep seeded pain that I would always be a fat blob.  Yes my body image was in the gutter. There were hours of every day that I felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath or that my heart was shattering into too many pieces to count. Besides. . .who would even want to try counting the the pieces of my broken heart? Who would want to hold someone who has lost all roots and was crumbling to the ground?

This darkness lasted for a few very long months until I realized that slowly I was breathing a little deeper and sparks of light were finding a way into my heart. Tears stopped falling with intensity and eventually they stopped falling with any regularity at all. And then there were the mornings that I could look at myself in the mirror without cringing.

I am not sure if I can quite say what switched, but I opened my eyes a little wider, I listened to the noise around me and the quiet inside me with more awareness, and I took some time to just be where I was.

The process that I went through and that I am still navigating has become about honoring myself the best way I can by building a stronger foundation. In order to become stronger I had to process the pain and darkness that had settled inside of me.

What I have known with clarity is that there was not one thing that left me with such sadness. I feel all emotions with every fiber of my being. This means that on the days that I am unable to compartmentalize life’s many moving parts, I will drown in a sea of sorrows or simply in my own intensity.

Yes the last few months have sucked. . . completely sucked, but they also created the opportunity for me to look inward and the time to heal. Eventually the harsh realities didn’t feel so harsh and with that I began to see my roots take a firmer hold of the earth.

And that is when the real work began. . . .

Reveling in setting the foundation, the framework, the intentions.
Connecting with understanding, compassion, balance, strength and awareness.
Honoring the journey.

Reflection by: Sue Dorfman

Path by Sue Dorfman

Courtesy of photographer Sue Dorfman

Sometimes the perfect words or the perfect picture show up exactly when you need them. As I was waking up, I was looking for what I needed to do so that I could become a little stronger.

This new journey that I am on is not simple.  With a long path ahead of me, I realized that I needed to set up some boundaries for myself. This meant deep reflection:

  • What was missing from my life?
  • Does writing guide my every step? If it doesn’t, it needs to.
  • Am I doing enough to nourish and nurture my spirit?
  • Have I been creative enough?
  • Do I take time to play?
  • Am I moving in a way that feels good for my body?
  • Am I moving enough?
  • How am I choosing to fuel my body and my brain?
  • Can I do more to make this world a better place? Or what do I have to do differently so that my impact in this world is more positive?
  • Is stretching, reaching, and growing an active part of my day?

If I am really going to be the healthiest that I can be, I need to be guided by deep seeded accountability multiple times every day.

  • Am I living authentically?
  • Am I choosing to hide behind a mask that others decorate?
  • Am I being the chameleon that fits into the world as I believe others want me to?

Over the last few weeks, I began to see that I was living behind a shadow of my own making. This realization means that it is time for me to actively return to strengthening my foundation with clear intentions while using this clarity to build the body, mind, and soul I want.

The work is daunting and yet it is also profoundly rewarding too. Each day I am gaining ground and celebrating more and more successes. I am also taking responsibility for navigating my life with intention as I actively engage in putting together the puzzle pieces of my body, mind, and soul. Only through that journey will I be able to soar and better become the woman I want to be.

Join me over the coming weeks as I unveil some of the moving parts that I am navigating and myriad of ways I hope to stretch, to grow, and ultimately to heal. My hope is that as I share some of my story, I may inspire you in some small way.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: If you read to the end and if you like what I have to share, I’d love it if you would let me know by liking or commenting on my post.)

 

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at,
what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

~Joan Didion

Writing is how I dance with the world around me. Through writing I navigate my deepest pain and my most radiant joy; I process my unrelenting tears and my heartfelt laughter too. And with each strike of the keyboard or stroke of a pen, I find my true rhythm and my soul.

As my younger son expresses so well, “Ima (Mommy), if you aren’t writing, you aren’t in a good place.” Dovi has been reflecting this truth to me since he was about 6 years old and 15 years later, he is still the one to who reminds me that as long as I am writing I am probably exactly where I need to be.

MY MOTTO

Poem by me; AWESOME & one-of-a-kind pen created by Steven Clark!!

Lately, I have been struggling to write freely which has left me at a loss. Since writing is how I process the world I live in, it means that I am wrestling with my life and allowing myself to experience some very deep feelings – not all painful either. I am someone who is always on the path – navigating, seeking, and simply being.

In this moment, there are two significant challenges that I am facing around my writing.

  1. After 8.5 years, I am facing the ending of a relationship that I thought could last forever. How stupid considering the father of my children is no longer my husband and barely my friend. Although, I am happy to say that that may be changing. While I know that this man is not meant to be my partner, I truly believed our connection would last as lovers and friends. As this man and I are building a friendship, I am aware that if I spoke from the deepest part of my heart all the time, I would crumble and/or I would never be able to find peace with the man that I am still hoping will be my life-long friend.
    Since I can’t have the fullness of what I want, I am faced with learning to silence my voice. AND to be honest, that comes at a cost. My writing around him is pathetic. I am afraid that my honesty would close the door to our friendship, so instead I have become an awkward. Whether or not he registers this is irrelevant, it is what I am feeling. And words have power so until now, I have been holding back even when I simply journal.

    My work is to trust my ex-lover knowing that we love each other deeply and we are emerging in a new and very different place. In the meantime, I have to keep putting salve on the wounds of my heart and that means I better go back to my journaling practice.

  2. As a community leader, I am often forced to face the insight of everyone that reads my blogs, my Facebook posts, my emails, etc. While that is the case for everyone, I am struggling. Even though I know that everyone reads my words through their own eyes, I am also so very tired of how people struggle with my transparency. I love being able to openly explore the world as I do.

    I am a writer who thrives by living out loud. I don’t want to be silenced in order to accommodate how other’s walk in the world. I have been silenced throughout so much of my life. I have found myself wearing masks to hide my beautiful face or to protect my loved ones. The good news is that my loved ones can handle me being exactly who I am and so can I; writing is how I embrace authenticity-always!

    I am so very tired of how people put ‘their stuff’ on me. And yet I know that while so many only find the darkness, others reflect the light. The challenge is navigating those that only focus on the darkness. I am so not about darkness.

    Throughout much of my life I have been silenced in various ways and for various reasons.  Ironically, it isn’t always about something difficult happening, more often than not it was simply that I didn’t know that I could speak up or that my voice mattered. For me, learning to share my voice, trusting myself to be articulate, and growing up though my writing was a process. Aren’t we all a work in progress. The more writing became a practice for me, the more I learned to value an intensity that I never knew existed. It was through that writing that I also began to adore the rawness of my spirit. I love my who I am and how I walk in the world. And it was through my writing that I was able to reach this place.

Writing is a sacred act that needs to nurtured daily if not more. I am committing to journaling daily, blogging weekly, and writing letters whenever I can.  If I want to be grounded in life and soar with each breath, I have to put pen to paper and fingers to keys.

Writing,
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul:
Is what makes me whole.

Looks like I may have some work to do so that I can honor my spirit a little more each day.

Love, light, & blessings,
Chava

 

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Egypt to the Promised Land or from Slavery to Freedom. On many of these days, I will share my reflections via my blog.

For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way.  For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness.  The more I am whole, the more free I will become.

~ ~ ~

The days leading up to Passover are often crazy with anticipation, angst, and joy. I love Passover; this year was no different. The most exciting thing about this year is that although I felt all the angst of what needed to get done, I also felt ready. I didn’t feel the sense of overwhelm that comes with having 15 – 22 people per  seder (Passover meal). And this year seemed to be the year for health challenges to keep taking our guests. Still it doesn’t matter if I am prepping for five people or 20 people, prepping for Passover takes work.

As the holiday was approaching, I was ecstatic. . .I was in great shape. Except that I forgot one very important step. I didn’t go inward. I didn’t take the time to reflect on how Passover usually inspires me on my own growth journey. Instead, I focused on prepping my house for company and the upcoming seders.

On Thursday, all of that changed when I slipped and landed on my tailbone as a tabletop fell on my head/neck. While I felt really sore I was amazed that even this didn’t upset me too much. I was functioning at a slower rate – yes. But, I was in good shape with what I had accomplished prior to the accident and I was blessed with a couple of extra hands to help in the final day’s preparation. So I went inward, just a little bit. I allowed myself some extra time to breathe and move a little more slowly. In truth, I had no choice.

Now let’s jump ahead to the end of the seders. While I LOVED our first seder and thought our second seder was good too, I was totally wiped after the second seder and it showed. So my company told me to go to bed and they cleaned up along with my sons. Yay.

Omer - Day 2 - water

L’Chayyim – To Life!!!

At about 2 PM, I woke up and found myself in awe of where I was. For about 30 minutes, I sat up in bed and drank a lot of water and realized that I didn’t have a plan for how I was going to take my Omer Journey this year.  For me, the journey is about ridding myself of the toxins in my life and consciously deciding to move forward in a very real way.

(Note: I had signed up for a Counting the Omer to Fitness with with Rabbi Howard Cohen. So while I wasn’t 100 % reflective, I did have a fleeting thought about the journey.)

As I sat there, I was happy to be drinking my water. Isn’t drinking water part of the cleansing process? In general, I know that if I am taking the time to drink lots of plain water, I am doing some good self-care. At that moment, I was proud of myself. And then it hit me, I needed to come up with a plan for flushing some of the toxins and/or schmutz out of my life.

Within an hour of that time, I was totally releasing the toxins. In fact, for the next 15 plus hours, I was hanging out with my old friend the porcelain goddess or sometimes it was a simple trash basket. Let’s just say, I had plenty of time to release the toxins and to feel sorry for myself too.

Early in my stomach bug, I was blown away by the timing of it!! Didn’t I just say that I needed to release the toxins from my body, my mind, and my soul? As the hours wore on, I was acutely aware that my journey had begun. I had no choice, but to listen.

Approximately thirty hours since the release began, I am feeling myself on a de-cluttering mission. I want to rid my yard of unwanted weeds, overgrowth, and weight. I want to clear my closet and home of things I don’t need. I want to take time to reflect on how to make some of my friendships healthier and more vibrant than they have previously been. Finally, I want to keep what is good and let go of that which doesn’t work any longer.

And let’s not forget the Thursday’s klutzy moment, I want to move a little more slowly and breathe a little more deeply. Accidents often happen because we are trying to do too much and to do it too quickly.

The Counting of the Omer is the perfect time to go inward and do a little self-care. Leaving Egypt so that I can ultimately find the Promise Land will take some work. Basically, I get to embrace the good parts of my life by better taking care of me and releasing that which doesn’t serve me.

L’Chayyim, To Life – Time to drink a lot more water. 🙂

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Waking up
I breathe deeply to check in with my soul.
Am I alive? I mean, am I REALLY alive?
Can I move my body? Am I ready to do my ‘Dance of Emergence’?
Is my spirit ready for the day? Will today be a day for soaring, simply navigating, or crashing?

I love fully – always too fully.
Listening to the rhythm of the earth and all her inhabitants impacts me deeply
Chaos reigns
Values don’t make sense
The struggle to navigate makes breathing hard.
But then the angels appear. . .the angels always appear.

The world is challenging for someone who walks like me.
And yet,
every day I open my arms wide
reaching for the world I love
I say
Hineini
I am here to serve.

This is my journey in life.

When I give my smile or share my spirit, it is real. And when I feel grounded and safe in that connection I want it to last forever. Only it rarely does.

Over the years, I have learned that I am too intense for the world I live.  But instead of hiding behind what my gut feels, I honor myself by adhering to the words of Emile Zola, “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: “I am here to live out loud.”

This means that I show up to connect with friends, for meetings, political gatherings, or even the March For Our Lives as I did today. I show up even when I’d rather be in a quieter place. I also choose when I allow for the quiet, when I go into my own space so that I can create, daydream, or simply nurture my spirit.

Chava from behind with kippahFinding balance takes work. I say and do the things that jazz my soul, but also have the possibility of making a difference. I do this as a Jewish educator, a woman, an activist, a friend, a mother, a writer, and a  human being.

Living in the universe as I do means that I climb a lot of mountains only to stumble to keep my footing.  It also means that there are times I reach great heights and soar when I least expect it. The many moving parts of the world are relentless.

I pray with my feet as often as I can, never hiding who I am or what I believe.  At the same time, I am a seeker who chants, drums, meditates, and dreams. I am also an introvert that most people believe is an extrovert.

Actively living in the world and spending so much time navigating my work, my passions, my loved ones, and life has taken its toll. While I will keep my arms and heart open wide, I also struggle to find, to build, and to maintain sweet connections with those that consciously walk in the world. This has become a non-negotiable over the last several years.

I wasn’t always this way. In fact, I am not sure when it changed.

While I have always walked as I loved our world with all of the gifts and challenges that it brings, I used to care with a bit more detachment. And then about 20 years ago, something inside of me changed. I am not sure of the particular event or a triggered memory. But suddenly I couldn’t turn off my feelings with ease.  I wanted to learn more, do more, be more. Slowly I came to understand that I may never learn enough, do enough, be enough.

As a little girl, my mother truly believed I was limited. And as I grew, I believed that too. I hid behind good grades and a passion for learning, but I wasn’t able to absorb what was happening like other kids. I wasn’t articulate or good in math. I couldn’t remember the finer details of anything.  Over time, I learned to do the best I could do, but I wanted to do so much more. I wanted the capacity to synthesize all that I was learning into action and sharing for good.  I wanted to make a difference with my wisdom; I wanted to touch the world in huge ways.

Life took over. I learned to do what I could do. When something needed to be done, I did it. I always did what was asked of me. In my family, in my work, and in my community, I was the solid one. If you needed anything, I would show up and take care of things – and always with a smile.

Eventually, I started looking past the village that I was living. Ouch. Slowly, I dipped my toe into the larger world, the world outside myself. First, a homeless, pregnant woman with a toddler came to live with my family for nearly six months. That was the beginning of me realizing that there was so much to do. The more I learned, the more I realized that I just couldn’t do enough. EVERYTHING was calling to me – the environment, homelessness, the need to protect those that couldn’t protect themselves, and then the policies of Israel became more than I could bare to see/hear/read. Human rights, the environment, politics – everything mattered. Only I couldn’t do enough to make the world a better place. I still can’t. So I take one step and then another – knowing it is all a little too inadequate. But still, it is my job do what I can.

The last few years have been a time for learning and accepting the realities of not only my life, but the world I live. I’ve struggled to come to grips with how I walk in the world. I am blessed to be able to open my arms and do just a little for the family, community, and world that I love. I know that my smile and my warmth makes a difference – sometimes. But I also know that deep inside, I know that I am not done yet, I have more to do! I am not enough because I am not able to keep up with the world I live as I’d like. I am limited. With so much to absorb, I can’t make sense of it all.

  • How can we create a world with racial and economic equality?
  • How can the countries I love care so poorly for all of their inhabitants?
  • What can we learn from science to make our environment safer for all? Why does big business and the government continue to literally destroy the fabric or our world?
  • Guns – WTF should be done? AND what truths make sense? 17 people were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida; more are still struggling with their lives. People of color are at a disproportionately greater risk for violence – always.
  • How can our government have so many people that believe that hatred and white supremacy should be a guiding message?
  • Wasn’t our country made with immigrants? YET, all over the country, beautiful people are forced to rally and chant, “No Hate! No Fear! Immigrants are welcome here!”
  • We are so far away from taking care of the world we live in. Homelessness, veterans, domestic violence, animal cruelty, and ___________ – You fill in the blank. How can we do what we need to do in order to improve the world for our people?
  • . . . .and so much more.

With so much that needs to be done, I am not where I want to be, but the message I am hearing in my head is clear.  While I may not feel like I am enough, I am doing a little bit every day. AND on a good day, I do a lot more. Continuing the holy work of rolling up my sleeves is no option; there is still too much to do.  I may not feel like I am enough, but that doesn’t mean that I should stop doing what I am doing. And yes, I do realize that it is time for me to reframe my inner critic; I know I have some work to do.

MeFueling my spirit, I will continue on this journey. I will do what I can and eventually as I keep taking one step and then another, I will believe that I am enough.

My work, my writing, my beautiful nonprofit, and my warmth need to be my focus. So I will continue to do what I do best, wake up every morning with my arms and heart wide open. I show up. I am here. Hineini.

With love, light, hope, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: This rambling piece is following the amazing March For Our Lives which inspired me in every way, but also left me in a pool of tears. I wish their wasn’t still so much to do and yet, there are so many angels stepping up to do the work.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beto For Senate!

Beto O’Rourke, the 2018 Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas, will get my time, my money, and my vote.

For the first time since Paul Wellstone (z’l) started his career in Minnesota, I am totally turned onto the possibilities of what a politician can actually accomplish for his home state and perhaps for our country.

In truth, I have never lived like I wasn’t interested, but I didn’t always believe in one person making a difference. Tonight, after listening to Beto in person, I have hope. . .real hope. Truth be told, watching Beto over the last several months has inspired me! He is such a powerhouse!!!!! I love how he is meeting with every possible person regardless of economics, race, party affiliation, religion, address, gender identification, citizenship, education, etc. He is meeting Texans and trying to not only hear their concerns, but absorb them so that he can improve the lives of all Texans.

You see, I have tried to connect with Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn to no avail. They are completely ill-equipped to meet with their constituents, especially those that disagree with them or those that have little money. Instead they hide and deny those they represent a voice. Congressman John Culberson also lacks the ability to hear or speak for many of his constituents.

Chava and Beto March 2018With that in mind, I have work to do and I can’t hide behind my busy schedule, my work, my budding nonprofit, my writing, or even my family. Even tonight, I was not feeling too much like hearing Beto or anyone else for that matter. In fact, I really wanted to hide underneath a rock or curl in a ball. I haven’t been feeling too energetic or even remotely positive in the last couple of weeks. Still I showed up exactly as I was and I left invigorated and ready to get to work for my candidate, my now home state, and my country.

What I like most about Beto and what I have been really learning since the election of our current POTUS (who I hope is history real soon) is that listening to those I feel are the most limited is EXACTLY what I need to do. My work and the work of every activist who wants to make a difference is to listen and try to understand where others may be coming from. Only then will we get things done or know what we are up against.

Here is the deal, I am not sure that I agree with everything that this man stands for. In fact, I probably don’t. BUT I do agree with everything I heard tonight. He understands the issues; he knows how to address them. And while I didn’t want to join in this town hall style meeting, I know that I made the right decision.

Now let’s all get to work and get Beto O’Rourke elected to the U.S Senate 2018.

With love, light, hope, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Coming soon, I will share some of the issues that I find most troublesome and fascinating; I will also share some of the questions I hope that Beto will answer as soon as he can – he promised he would.