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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

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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.

Prologue:

Over the coming period of time, I will share how I use writing to quiet my mind, to navigate darkness, to center my spirit, and to propel myself forward.  As Joan Didion says,

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.”

For various reasons, I often feel silenced. This is not working for me any longer. People have every right to interpret my words in any way they want. Take what touches you and move forward as you wish. But here is one thing that you, the reader, should know – Once I release my words into the universe, they have come to do what they were meant to do.

While I share my writing unapologetically, I also write because I have no choice, it is how I am best able to walk in the world.

I am EnoughWriting,
th
e song of my heart;
th
e meaning of my mind;
the 
feeling of my soul;
I
s what makes me One.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 The last few couple of months have stretched me and inspired me to see my reflection in ways that surprised me. I am facing new fears in very direct ways and having the honesty that I need to move forward.

 If you asked me what am I most afraid of in my life? I would have a really hard time answering you. You see, I struggle with overwhelming vulnerability at times and yet, I always emerge. I have a way of doing the dance of life that allows me to navigate even when I feel like I am suffocating.

Recently, I have faced loss and heartbreak, I have also navigated loneliness more honestly than ever before. And I have started spiritual work that forces me to really look at myself in the mirror. Admitting vulnerability can be transformative or crippling. I am shooting for transformative. I am reaching for the stars and moving, always moving, forward. I am not sure that I have a choice.

When I allow myself to go there, darkness seems be a little too present in my life these days (and nights too). So much so that I have wondered, ‘How did I ever think I should change my last name, Gal-Or, or wave of light?’ I must have been a fool. And then I realize that I have to stop then negative self-talk and own what I fear most in my life. I am so afraid that  I am afraid that I will never be enough, do enough to make the world a better place, or be loved enough because I am not worthy enough.

Quieting that ridiculous inner voice and actively engaging in the world as I do should be easier than it is. And yet, I have to consciously decide to:

  • breathe deeply
  • read and listen to inspirational people
  • write and then write some more
  • laugh as much as possible
  • chant
  • walk and keep walking
  • take time to connect with those I adore (especially my sons, my animals, and my closest friends)
  • play
  • always embrace my vocations, my job and my new nonprofit – Door l’Door). I am so blessed to so what I love.
  • have family dinners
  • listen to music that lifts me up

Nurturing my spirit takes so much work and doing the above soul work is the only way I know to come to a place of knowing/believing that I may actually be enough.

While taking care of myself means remembering to do what I need to do, it is also important to release that which doesn’t serve me any longer.  This is profoundly sad to me and so important too. By letting go of what doesn’t work, I make space for the infinite possibilities that surround me. With an open door, new opportunities abound.

Yes, life is hard, but I don’t have to make it any harder than it is. As long as I remember:

Rising above my fears is not an option. I am enough. I got this!!

With that in mind, I want to share this AMAZING and inspirational music video called Rise by Mikey Pauker. If you haven’t heard it or even if you have, listen and then listen again. (link below)

May we all face our vulnerabilities and do the work of growing.

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8l6KS23LKk

 

 

Prologue:
Over the coming period of time, I will share how I use writing to quiet my mind, to navigate darkness, to center my spirit, and to propel myself forward.  As Joan Didion says:

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.”

For various reasons, I often feel silenced. This is not working for me any longer. People have every right to interpret my words in any way they want. Take what touches you and move forward as you wish. But here is one thing that you, the reader, should know – Once I release my words into the universe, they have come to do what they were meant to do.

While I share my writing unapologetically, I also write because I have no choice, it is how I am best able to walk in the world.

Writing,
the song of my heart;
t
he meaning of my mind;
t
he feeling of my soul;
Is what makes me One.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Toe in Water February 2018
The only journey is the one within. 

~ Rainer Maria Rilke 

I feel with my entire being.

Every fiber of my body navigates wherever I am in any given moment. My mind, my heart, and my soul are interconnected.

In this moment, I am grappling with loss, darkness, and transformation. I am navigating with an open spirit and with the realization that I am doing exactly what I need to do.

This journey called life is full of moving parts. I don’t think I am alone when I say we maneuver as we need to, we find center, and then we find a sinkhole (sometimes). If we are blessed, we resume the cycle again and again. And if we are really fortunate, the sinkhole doesn’t always have to be so dramatic. Sometimes the sinkhole may feel overwhelming under our feet, but in reality it simply includes peaks and valleys over the course of life.

This past week, I realized that more than anything in my life right now, I crave the feel of holy or sacred ground under my feet. I know this is lofty, but I don’t have time for anything less. My heart is too full and my spirit is too aware. So when reality hits and holy ground is nowhere to be found, I am profoundly aware that I have to believe that what I am doing involves sacred connections or simply working towards doing tikkun olam, repairing the world, with the most godliness of intentions.

Join me as I actively dip my toes into water and open the window to my soul.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

black butterfly

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

Maya Angelou

Ever since I can remember, I have imagined myself wrapped in a sweet cocoon of warmth and safety. Knowing that I can stay there until I am ready to spread my wings and fly. Sometimes I even imagine that I may stay there forever.

Life is full of so many moving and overwhelming parts. On a good day, our hearts and minds are in a good place with a realistic to do list that needs our attention. But the hard days are not far behind. On those days, our hearts are broken open and in need of mending while the to do list goes on for miles.

On the later days, I love the idea of spinning a cocoon around myself with the aspirations of navigating what will ultimately become a deeply reflective transformation.

Only through going inward, can I honor the deepest parts of who I am and who I want to become. While my stories have often empowered me to be the woman I am, they also need to be released in order to birth an even more vibrant me – not so different from shedding the cocoon so that I can fly and reach new heights.

In the last few years, I have been celebrating how perfectly imperfect I really am. My flaws and vulnerabilities are part of a bigger picture – maybe even a masterpiece in the making. I am a spiritual warrior whose resilience has made it possible for me to thrive as I have.

While there may be times when my brokenness leaves me navigating the darkness, more often than not, I am able to take the pain and emerge into a better spiritual space much as the caterpillar emerges a butterfly.

There is so much healing that needs to take place inside of me and around me right now, so for just a little while I will spin the cocoon and allow for the quiet to soothe my spirit. At the end of this journey, may I be ready to take flight and soar to new heights.

With love, light, healing, and blessings,
Chava

Today is Day 21 (and the last day) of My Selfie Challenge. This was my time to look at how I walked in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bound my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it was my hope that as I took each photo, I would learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it was my time to find the beauty that was me.

~ ~ ~

 

As a woman, a mother, a thinker, a seeker, a free-spirit, an intuitive, a dreamer, a friend, a sister, a healer, an activist, a loving soul, and a human being, I believe that my voice needs to soar. In fact, I believe that most human beings that are doing their part to make the world a better place need to be preaching their truth as they stand with humanity.

Over the past 21 days, I have felt trapped in the selfie box. While I may have felt trapped, I now feel free because in the end I realized some very important truths about myself.

  1. My voice matters.
  2. I am beautiful inside and out.
  3. Living in these times and in the confines of my life have made me painfully raw and intense.
  4. I am deeply broken and always have been yet I have learned to show up and be the most authentic and loving soul I can be.
  5. Friendships mean the world to me and the pain of unexpected loss leaves me bereft – forever. I move forward, but the pain endures.
  6. Sometimes there is a place in this world for rage AND the time is now. The fucked up nature of our world means that their is no time for silence.  Our voices need to rise up for those that are disabled, the Dreamers, the Native Americans, the marginalized, the minorities, our environment, asylum seekers, and the entire human race. We need to do all we can do to keep the world safe from guns that shouldn’t be used, by the President of our country and by the pathetic government that doesn’t seem to represent our country with dignity and love.
  7. Those that attempt to silence me or alter my words don’t belong in my life. But those that inspire me to reach higher and develop my thoughts more fully – thank you.
  8. My passion drives me and helps me embrace the world fully.
  9. While I show up with warmth, love, and a smile on my face, my intensity leaves me quietly awkward inside with an aching heart.
  10. I love the world and feel a little too deeply.

Living consciously and out loud is the gift I give to the world I love. While it doesn’t always feel comfortable for those that know me, I am feeling blessed to have the soul I have.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable. . .

Sending love, light, hope, and blessings. . . . .