Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The truth does not always matter.

One of the first lessons I learned as a child was that no one ever heard my cries which left me feeling unheard and unseen. Sigh. I can still remember how my tears would fall uncontrollably with only me to soothe and quiet my spirit. This reality left me feeling shattered with a sense of aloneness that has stayed with me to this day.

Sadly, even though I feel supported and loved now, the past remains a quiet voice within my head. It reminds me that I am alone; I will always be alone. The open wounds of my earliest memories have never left. While there is no question that I was loved and adored by my brother and father, neither of them kept me safe from my mother’s wrath. Mental illness and addiction had a stronghold on my mother and made her a volatile monster. I don’t think that I ever had a moment in which I felt safe in her presence.

December 2016 - looking outMy adult years have been profoundly different. Even though the sense of aloneness seems to always be part of my inner being, it shouldn’t be. The truth is that today, I feel love surrounding me – always.  And thanks to social media, I always feel seen and heard; in fact, I can’t hide. 😊

Case in point, I was totally blown away with the support I was being offered when I had to have a hysterectomy about ten years ago. At the time I lived in the Washington, DC area where I had a close-knit group of friends. But my close friends from my Jewish educator circles wanted to come in from New York, South Carolina, California, and Washington State. I could not have asked for anything more precious then to be loved by these friends. In the end, my friend Idie from New York stayed with me and tried to keep me from pushing myself post-surgery. I am kind of surprised that our friendship sustained that experience; I’ve never been known for my patient ways.  Another distinct memory I have from that surgery was waking up alone in the hospital room with intense nausea. I felt horrible. But I wasn’t alone for long. A friend of mine showed up to take care of me. Pia held my hand, put cold compresses on my head, and loved me until the nurses could get my nausea under control. That’s love.

Again, when I lost my job in Tucson, Arizona in 2014, my friends supported me financially, making it possible for me to survive. One friend allowed my family to live in her second home without cost to us. Other friends helped me fundraise what I needed to make it through. Another two friends found me contract positions which allowed me to support my family. People showed up to help us unpack our car and to simply be with us. When we had to put down our beloved dog Shachar, our friends David and Jennifer drove two hours to make sure we were not alone in our sadness. While losing my job in Tucson was scary, it was made so much easier because of the love that was showered on the Gal-Or/Grossman household. I will never forget how blessed I felt.

Over the last several decades, I have story after story of how my beloved friends showed up for me.  And yet, those earliest memories remain. It doesn’t matter that I know the beliefs are total bullshit.  Intellectual knowledge can’t replace the imprinted memories of the inner child that was so battered and bruised.  My friend Mary put it beautifully when she said, “It sounds like your support network helped diminish the volume of those painful earlier memories.” I think she is 100% correct.

Now my work is to trust the “real truth”. I am surrounded by love; I am not alone.

I got this!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

The power of practices has been profound to me. It has help to give me to remain grounded while also soaring. In  my post, “Every Day I Choose Life”, https://wp.me/pthnB-3oh, I was able to unpack the inherent wisdom that comes from creating practices around my life.

One thing I know for certain is that without daily practices I wouldn’t be able to thrive as I now do. As a matter of fact, I believe that creating daily practices has given me the ability to handle reality when I’d rather curl up into a ball and fade away.

For those that know how deeply I love, they wouldn’t be surprised to know that after nearly every loss I have faced either by death or a devastating crash. I have crumbled for months if not years. I have gone inward, thought I would die of a broken heart, and simply wanted to give up. To say that I handle all loss with deep devastation is an understatement.  I love forever. AND I never seem to be able to let go of friends and lovers that have died or chosen to walk away. I almost never end a relationship; I love forever.

Nearly each and every time I face loss, I find myself stunned and lacking the emotional maturity to handle it.  Perhaps not having a nurturing childhood left me stunted emotionally. I suffered from loss right out of the womb with a mother who never really knew how to love me. As a mother, I can’t imagine. Although to be honest, I did nearly puke on Aryeh, when the doctor tried to hand him to me right after he came out. BUT it’s not my fault, I didn’t handle the medication from my C-section too well. Luckily that was short lived and I am blessed that he has no memory of this moment.

Seriously, when I allow myself to reflect, I have a sense that I still feel the loss that comes from being stripped of love from my earliest memory. Which is so silly because look at the sweet love that I always felt from my father and brother. Yes my father failed to keep me safe, but I think this reality will always be a complicated one. And from the time I moved to Israel in 11th grade, for a year abroad, through today, I have been surrounded by love. I have this amazing tribe that holds my spirit however I am showing up in the world. I am blessed.

AND the other truth is that although many angels showed up along the way, they could never erase the pain I experienced from enduring such a violent and traumatic childhood; they tried. This truth will be forever etched in my memory leaving treading water when I should be able to swim. Maybe I will never be able to swim, but at least I can tread water.

broken heartedRecently I lost a relationship that while I knew it had some major challenges, I was left profoundly sad when it had to end. And yet in that instance, I have come to understand, for perhaps the first time ever, that while my heart is literally shattered, I am also truly treading water and not drowning in my sorrow. The beautiful practices that I have created have given me the strength to visit my sadness without letting it overtake me.

Hurting isn’t easy, but knowing that I have gained the tools is making a difference. Today, I can get lost in a chanting practice or express my inner pain through my painting. Taking a long walk and remembering to do self care can also soothe my spirit. I’ve truly come a long way in the last few years. My daily practices have given me the support to navigate all the moving parts of my life.

I got this. At least I hope I do.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Hiking Boots

A few days ago, I decided it was time for me to take a look at some of my more recent journaling entries. With a bunch of my writing pieces being in the messy middle and not quite ready to be shared, I decided to reflect on a journal entry from a few months ago that started with the words, “How do I choose life each and every day?”

Daily life can be overwhelming. With every day comes deep feelings, a long to do list, and a desire to hide under the covers for eternity. I am not sure that I have ever totally checked out of life for very long; instead I take one step and then another. I reach for the next best thing and I move forward. Each and every day, I choose life.

I am the architect of my life.  While daily practices sustain me, so does living authentically, engaging in activism, creating a home that nurtures my soul, and by surrounding myself with friends that I adore. Perhaps all of these things are practices.

A rough childhood taught me that I really needed to take care of myself. And I have learned that the best way to do just that is to consciously create daily life practices that ground me one action at a time.

  1. Morning routine
    • Wake-up without an alarm clock by 6 or 6:30 AM (at the latest)
    • Take probiotic
    • Drink water (lots)
    • Make bed, stretch, feed dog, do some quick chores, and journal (30 or so minutes)
    • Take my stomach medication
    • Chant and/or walk for a couple of miles
    • Eat breakfast
  2. Throughout the day
    • Paint inspirational cards, etc.
    • Journal whenever thoughts pop into my head
    • Weave
    • Read
    • Facebook
    • Walk (5-7 miles)
    • Food norms – (This is relatively new for me since I have been doing this only for a few months.)
      • plant based diet (mostly)
      • fish – once a week
      • green smoothies (4 – 6 times/week)
      • no added sugar
      • no alcohol
      • drinking lots of water
      • dinner with my sons (5+ times/week)
  3. Night Routine – Work In Progress (WIP) that needs to be strengthened.
    • Evening walk (4+ times/week)
    • Stretch
    • Golden milk or tea
    • Before bed chanting

Above is not all I do, but it is a skeleton of how I navigate my life.  Without these practices, I would be in rough shape. They provide order when my spirit is in disarray; they ground me so that I can live with more ease. Daily practices always provide me a pathway to healthy living.

Looking Back

I am not certain when I started embracing daily practices as a “thing”. It started slowly, so slowly that I didn’t notice it was happening. Perhaps it can be traced back to when I realized that if I wasn’t writing/journaling then I must be in a dark place. My son Dovi was actually the first person to point this out to me when he was about 8 years old. And ever since that time, he has been the first person to remind me that I must not be writing enough when I am less than grounded, angry, or sad.  He is still the first person to remind me to get back to my writing if I fall off the wagon.

Over time I have learned that daily practices empower me to live life more fully regardless of where my spirit is. And what I love most about them is that they are always a work in progress; as I stretch and grow, they do too.

Every day I choose how I want to live. Every day I choose life!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

Alcohol and Me

Deep breath.

Sharing my story takes a lot of deep breaths and the ability to dig deep so that my experiences may have a purpose. Perhaps I can heal myself from some of my pain and perhaps I can help someone else to realize they can do hard things too.

When I dig deep, I am doing the spiritual work that allows me to emerge as more whole. My writing nurtures me through the narrow pathways and towards my freedom.  My writing opens doors so that I can walk through them. And on a good day, my writing has the power to make a difference to others by inspiring others to face their own narrow places. Even though many of us feel alone, we usually aren’t.

“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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I always believed that I would be nothing like my mother. My mother was too sick and violent to nurture me. Mental illness and substance abuse ravaged her life from my earliest memories.  A long time ago I learned that substance abuse tends to run in families. And in my case, it seems to have run deep. My mother is not the only close relative I have who suffered with crippling addiction.

My family history has always lead me to monitor my drinking.  If I saw myself starting to binge drink, I would simply stop until I could resume drinking more responsibly. I started this behavior as far back as when I was a teenager.

If I am really honest with myself, I’ve always known that I have the propensity towards addiction. From the time I was 11 years old, I started smoking and ingesting any drug I could get my hands on. It was easy for me to access the drugs back then because I looked older and my father was in the record business. Opportunities for getting high surrounded me at every turn. And since I was never someone to back down from a chance to disconnect from the dark realities of my life, I was in good shape.

This lasted until I was nearly 17 years old when I woke up and realized that if I didn’t stop myself, I would become my mother. I am not sure how I had the will to stop, but I did. In part, I tried Alcoholics Anonymous along with some therapy. In the end though, I found new ways to distract myself from life. I took up running, I wrote, I did a little art, and I never looked back.

Drinking was another story.

Over the years, I have watched myself navigate some really tough times when I turned to drinking. Life’s roller coasters were hard to endure at times.  Besides the “normal” headaches of living, I experienced nine miscarriages, a horrific birth experience that lead my first child to the NICU, followed by other serious illness for my sons, a rocky marriage, a dying father, multiple broken hearts, and perhaps the hardest one of all, facing the demons of my childhood. I never drank when I was in a good place. But as soon as life challenged me, I turned to the only thing that could calm me – alcohol. Alcohol gave me a place to go so that I could place a blanket or a shroud of darkness over my intense sadness.

And it worked. Until. . .

One day, I realized that I couldn’t stop.  It started when my doctor made an unwanted diagnosis and told me that I should only drink occasionally and not more than a glass and a half of alcohol at a time. I couldn’t wrap my head around that concept. What is occasionally? And what is a glass and a half? I loved whiskey, so what would a glass and half be? Five shots, maybe six . . . I wasn’t a wine drinker, although I did like the taste of good wine. But when I wanted to numb my feeling, it was whiskey or vodka that I turned to.

Love of truth puts you on the spot.
~Naropa Institute motto

Up to that moment in time, I had always been able to make any necessary lifestyle or dietary changes when advised by a doctor or other healthcare practitioner.  Previously I had three major diet changes. The first was when my then ENT realized that sodium was exacerbating my hearing loss. The second was when I stopped eating regular breads, cakes, and pastas when I found I had celiac disease. And third, was giving up sodas when my nephrologist informed me that sodas were probably the cause for my horrible UTIs, otherwise known as urinary tract infections.  In each of the three occasions, I was given the advice and simply stopped. And except for soda, I didn’t look back. And even now,  I am back on track when it comes to drinking soda.

Before the doctor told me not to drink, I was absolutely AWESOME at navigating what I call non-negotiables in my life.  I had always been able to quickly make the necessary lifestyle changes that would ultimately lead to healthy transformation for me.

When we take an honest and fierce inventory of ourselves, it isn’t too hard to discern truth. If I had never been significantly challenged by removing gluten, sodas, and sodium rich foods from my diet, why was I unable to occasionally drink alcohol.

amazing sunrise

Sunrise in Topsail, NC courtesy of Wendy Delson

Wham!!!!! I woke up!

I couldn’t stop because I had become the nightmare I feared most. I had become a drunk like my mother. OUCH!

But here is the good news, I am not my mother. Almost as soon as I realized I was out of control, I called three of my beloveds and shared that I was quite literally stuck in the deep end and unable to swim; I was drowning. The more I drank, the more I wanted out of this life.  The other good news is that I didn’t go as far as to make a plan. I just wanted my emotional pain to go away.

With the help of these three beautiful souls, I was able to move forward. The first two were Ricky and Eudice, my brother and sister-in-law. My brother got the first call a couple weeks before I understood the full picture of what alcohol was doing to me. He was the person I called when I simply wanted out of life. He listened and I knew I wasn’t alone. A couple of weeks later, I reached out to my sister-in-law who gifted me with her wisdom; she reminded me that my self-awareness was a gift and that I could do hard things. AND finally, I reached out to my beloved friend Joseph who met me at a coffeehouse and without judgement held space for me to share my brokenness; he then offered to take me to my first AA meeting in decades.

As I sat in that first meeting, I was aware that I was in the right place. I left the meeting knowing I had to stop drinking, but not yet willing to do the work to get there. So two weeks later, I started drinking again. For two evenings in a row, I was back to my old ways of drinking late into the evening and then being 100% functional in my daily life. No one, except my sons knew that the only way I could quiet my sense of overwhelm was with multiple stiff drinks throughout every evening.

On the second morning after my drinking binge, I understood that I needed help. My health depended on me to stop drinking.  So, I did what I had to do, I reached out to my friend Joseph and I started going to meetings as much as possible. It was a few weeks before I understood that I was an alcoholic. Initially, I told myself that as soon as I learned to navigate anxiety, I would be able to drink without being excessive. But today, I know better. I am an alcoholic.

While drinking never got in the way of my actual work or functioning, it did impact my life. As the years wore on, I couldn’t quiet my mind at the end of a tough evening unless I downed a few shots. And whenever I was away at a training or retreat, I was one of the people that drank all night long and into the early morning hours. I did this because I didn’t have to be any place until morning. I loved the sweetness of those nights.

Today I am doing the work I need to do. I am sober with the help of AA and all it offers.  Plus I am surrounded by loved ones who are holding space for me to show up as myself. And through it all, I am learning that I don’t have to hide behind a mask, I can be me with all my intensity and rawness.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

theLightWhen I decided to write about my life, I truly thought it would be easy. Only it wasn’t. How could it be? The beatings, the screaming, and the fear permeated my earliest years. And yet my entire life has not been dark. In fact, it has been far from dark. But the dark moments seemed to have overshadowed the many gifts. And writing about my childhood plunged me into the darkness leaving me (for a little while) sad to the core.  The pain cut deep and left me treading water instead of being the thriver that I am.

My response to writing about my childhood was to dive deep into an underwater cave that was literally swallowing me up until I realized what was happening. With each passing day, I found myself going further and further underwater until I couldn’t find an air pocket to catch my breath. For over a month, I stopped writing my book and connecting with others more than I had to for my work.

Looking back I see that I had temporarily lost my voice. My voice had become too overwhelming for even me to bare witness. So I stopped talking. I stopped writing. And metaphorically, I was unable to release even the smallest whisper. And during this time, I also physically lost my voice. I am sure this is no coincidence.

As time moved forward, I found a little inner strength. Swimming further into the cave, I was finding the space to renegotiate what I needed to fuel my spirit. While I was still dark, I was learning to breathe a little more deeply and I was becoming more of the person I was meant to be. I was just starting to find a stronger voice from within.

As my voice returned, I saw it as a sign that I needed to do more than speak, I needed to find a way back to writing, “Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey”.  I needed to get back to the holy work of writing my story.

 

My story isn’t easy. In fact, what I am learning about myself is that I am not brave; I am terrified of losing my footing and slipping into quicksand. I often crumble, but I am learning to trust that even when I crumble leaving only cracks behind, light has a way of reaching my soul and on a good day, I illuminate the world with some of my light.

Each year that I remain on this earth, I learn to see myself as a little more beautiful than I ever thought possible. I know how to show up in the world and to add sparks whenever possible.  I ride the waves as I fiercely grasp for life’s many nuggets. And with each breath I take I always try to do the next right thing. In fact that is the only thing I can do on a daily basis.

One of my strongest attributes is that I am resilient. Regardless of what I have had to endure in the past or will have to navigate in the future, I always find the inner strength to show up at the table – again and again. And on I good day, I am able to radiate light as I thrive. That’s my job!

Hineini, Here I am!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Aryeh in the ER 3.8.2020

Aryeh humored me and kept drinking lots of water and doing breathing exercises in the ER as we waited over four hours to be seen.

I am exhausted. Beyond exhausted actually.

Yesterday was a hard day. It started hard because I was craving time alone and simply couldn’t find it. It was hard because I wanted to clean my creativity cave (creative space), but didn’t have the energy to do so. It was hard because I couldn’t ground myself which means that I just didn’t have what it takes to be productive in the ways that I wanted to be.  AND  in the end none of this mattered at all because Aryeh got sick and for a few hours, my world felt like it was suffocating me.

A bad headache ended up causing his blood pressure to rise pretty high which lead the nurse practitioner at CVS’s MinuteClinic to send Aryeh to the ER. It didn’t matter that that logically I believed that he would be fine or that I figured whatever was wrong would ultimately lead him to a better place. It didn’t matter that I put a smile on my face when navigating the hospital or that I didn’t go into panic when I shared what was happening on Facebook.  Inside was a different story. Inside my heart was breaking because I will never forget the years that Aryeh struggled for his health.  As a teenager, he was plagued with a 6.5 centimeter arachnoid cyst wrapped around his brain. Two brain surgeries and years of excruciating pain plagued my son’s teenage years. And as I learned last night, those memories are never really too far from the surface.

While I outwardly, gathered the supplies I needed to take to the hospital, called and texted Aryeh’s dad as well as a couple of friends to let them know what was going on, and took Aryeh to the ER at Memorial Hermann Hospital, inside my entire spirit was crumbling. It didn’t matter that I really believed he would be ok. . . it didn’t matter at all. Because logic doesn’t shut down the memories that came flooding back. I used to be petrified of taking Aryeh to the hospital because I didn’t know if he would be able to return home with us. Or if he did return home, what his condition would be. For two years, Aryeh’s life was a question mark. Would he survive his hell? AND if he did survive his hell, how would he navigate life? Fortunately, he did so much more than survive. Aryeh struggled with health crisis after health crisis for three and a half years and then he moved forward to become the thriver that he is today.

Thirteen years have passed since Aryeh first went through his health crisis. But waiting in the ER for over four hours yesterday reminded me how profoundly fragile life can be.  The good news is that my intuition was spot on and it looks like Aryeh will be emerge from yesterday a healthier man.

Gratitude abounds and now it is my work to quiet the anxiety and deep seeded pain that is bubbling up post our visit to the ER.

Logic doesn’t always make a sense, sometimes emotions, memories, and anxiety get in the way. The good news is that hard moments don’t have to last forever.

Moving forward – always . . .

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

Much of my life I have felt trapped and it totally sucks.

I wonder if you can imagine what it is like to be stuck in a cold, dark cave – day in and day out for years. No one can hear you if you cry out in pain. And you can’t hear anything going on in the world around you. This was my life for much of my first two decades.

As a child and even now, I often feel like I am stuck in that dark and cold cave. Perhaps it is the reality of someone who barely heard until I was about 5 or 6 years old. Perhaps it is the story of a young child who was abused because her mother couldn’t escape her own demons. Or perhaps it is one of the many truths of a young teenager who was raped at the hands of someone who was supposed to support and protect her when the world had let her down.

Shattered - Believe you are whole even within the cracksWith almost no one to hold me or love me through the pain or realities of my life, I learned to dance around the quiet and ultimately to find my footing whenever I was alone. To this day, I stumble with close ones. I probably do this because after living my informative years in a metaphoric cave, I am comfortable there – most of the time.

Since I often still feel that I am alone in that dark cave of my childhood, I can find myself in hot water with friends who don’t quite know when I may be triggered or feel insignificant, unworthy, or silenced. The good news is that today I surround myself with beautiful and loving people who fill my world with sweetness.

The challenge is that once I go down the slippery slope and start wrestling with my own past demons, it takes a “real” friend to ease me out of my darkness.  The good news is that I am blessed; there is rarely an individual in my life who is trying to hurt or silence me.  I wish this reality made it easy for me to navigate tough moments, but the truth is that I can’t help but go there when I am feeling unheard or misunderstood.  When I visit this cycle with friends, I have to do the work of moving forward and the hardest part is showing up to the table and not giving up. In some ways, it is easier to let go of what hurts, but I also know that that is ridiculous. Remember, I surround myself with amazing souls.

Releasing myself from living in my metaphorical cave has been and may continue to be a lifetime journey.  On a good day, I know that  I am ABSOLUTELY not lost in a cave. On a bad day, I find it hard to breathe because there is no oxygen where I am. The good news is that I have come a long way since my beginnings.

But my early childhood often looms over any wisdom that should prevail. Still I keep moving forward and navigating relationships that will allow me the space to be real, to crumble, and to move forward.

Always moving forward; this is my journey.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

I Can’t? Watch Me!!

Closed doors have always had a way of blocking me from wherever I wanted to go. Yet few shut doors have kept me from doing what calls to me. Once I can visualize what is possible, determination and perseverance propel me forward.

From my earliest memories, I struggled to function like “normal” children. My home was not the only challenge in my young life. With almost no coordination and poor hearing, I seemed to live in my own little world. Walking didn’t happen until I was well over 2 years old and I don’t remember hearing much until I was 5 or 6 years old when my tonsils and adenoids were removed along with some other surgical procedure on my ears. 

Somehow the little girl that could barely find her place with others learned that she could do almost anything she set her mind to do. Can’t was not part of my vocabulary and it still isn’t.

  • After nearly nine years of speech therapy, I learned to talk with clarity.
  • Somewhere around 8 or 9 years old, my second grade teacher taught us to write in cursive. I really struggled; I just couldn’t do it. So each and every night, I would go home and practice writing late into the evening. The more I practiced, the better I was able to write.
  • Around 10 years old, I was mortified that all the girls in my class could jump rope. I couldn’t – not at all! So instead of giving up, I went home every night and practiced jumping rope from the moment I got home until the moment it turned dark. The GREAT news is that I did learn to be an excellent jump roper; the BAD news is that within a day or so of learning, I woke up to the worst pain I can ever remember. My leg muscles had totally seized up and I could not take even one step. One of my sweetest memories of my father was when he gently picked me up and put me into the hot bathtub to try to loosen up my muscles and ease some of the pain. It worked.
  • Better late than never, at 11 years old, I decided that I would learn to ride a bike. With my friend Elizabeth by my side, I remember feeling freedom and joy as I biked down Pikeswood Drive for the first time. And that feeling returns each and every time I get on a bike.
  • In junior high school, I decided that I wanted to be able to do at least a little gymnastics. It was hard for me to watch all the other kids do front rolls and back rolls during our Physical Education class. To say that I was being a dreamer is an understatement. And yet, I’ll never forget trying to strengthen my muscles, teaching myself to do front rolls, back rolls, cartwheels, and even backbends! After weeks of practicing in class and at home, I was finally able to do all of those things, but also create a really AWESOME routine for the uneven parallel bars. The best moment came when Mrs. Brown, my PE teacher, yelled, “Slow down, you are moving too fast for the spotters to keep you safe.” I never could walk across the balance beam, but that didn’t matter to me. I was so proud of all I did accomplish through sheer determination and perseverance.
  • I always dreamed of being a runner. It didn’t matter to me if I was slow, I just wanted to be a runner. So, at 16 years old, I took up running. At first I could barely go one time around my high school track, but that didn’t last for long. A short time after starting to run, I was able to run three miles daily until I decided to run for 10 miles daily which lasted for years.

Walk Up Hills Slowly 1In reality, I had a lot of time to myself growing up. I didn’t have too many friends until I was older and my family wasn’t there for me either. So I learned to use the time I had to work on becoming a stronger and better me. Every time I was led to believe I couldn’t do something, I responded with silently telling myself “Watch Me!” If I wanted to do something bad enough, I found the inner strength and character to do it.

In truth, I wish I could say that I no longer struggle with poor coordination or bad hearing, but that would be a lie. To this day, I am sometimes sad that I don’t have the coordination to do serious hiking. That doesn’t mean that I don’t go hiking, it just means that I am honest with myself about what I can do. A few years ago, I decided to hike by myself in Madera Canyon, outside Tucson. When I came home, I was pretty battered with some “war stories”. My sons who were in their late teens and early 20s lost it with me. AND they were right. So now, I do a better job at honoring my abilities with honesty.

And to this day, I am initially anxious nearly every time I stand up to speak in front of others. I worry whether or not I am articulate or making sense. When I am really tired, I know that I don’t speak clearly. This doesn’t mean that I choose to be silent, it means that every time I stand up in front of people, I take a deep breath and I do say what I have to say. And for the most part, I have learned that even if I am having a rough day communicating, it’s really good enough and sometimes great!

I live my life by believing that I can and then I do! I take one step and then another. I rest. And then I do it all over again . . . and again . . . until I have accomplished my goals.

One of the things that has impacted me more than I thought previously possible, has been listening to the wisdom of so many others over the last several years. Through reading a lot and really listening to great podcasts, TEDTalks, etc., I am inspired! With nearly every written and spoken word, I am gaining insight and ultimately choosing how I want to better walk in the world. Ironically, my most profound lesson came from the first United States woman to summit Mount Everest without oxygen after trying to do so five other times. Melissa Arnot Reid said, “I walk up hills slowly.” AND that is what I have always done and will always do.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

.

img_2527

Enter a caption

Note:
We all struggle, the question is how do we choose to navigate. 

On a good day, I hold onto hope.
I remember:
the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
that the moon is my constant companion and my guide.
the North Star reminds me that I can always connect to those I love.

On a good day, I hold onto hope.
I believe:
that the world is full of beauty and goodness.
angels show up and do all they can to make a difference.
the universe has a tribe working together to make the world a better place.

On a good day, I hold onto hope.
I know that many of us are:
standing up for humanity and against tyranny.
planting seeds and keeping the soil watered.
embracing those who struggle as we love them through their journey.

The bad days come too – again and again.
On those days, I wake up and wonder:
how will I take a deep breath and then another?
what words can I say when hatred seems to be surrounding us?
can sunlight emerge from the stormy skies?

The bad days come – again and again.
On those days, I choose to:
keep moving forward – one step and then another.
connect with my beloveds as we do love together.
create rays of light to illuminate the darkness that often overshadows us.

YES, life is full of good days and bad days.
This means that I will:
navigate each and every road that lies ahead.
nourish the world that I live.
keep hope alive!

sunset beginning bayWill you join me?

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

 

Day 37 - Choose to ThriveEach and every morning I have a choice about how I will approach my day. In fact, if I am really honest, I have that choice with every breath I take. My job is to keep taking deep breaths and doing the next best thing.

Life is full of gifts and challenges. And while I have grown to accept that life can be really hard, I have also been known to embrace each step as consciously as possible. I know that as long as I am moving forward and doing all I can to navigate life’s journey, I will emerge from most any experience.

As someone who was raised in an incredibly toxic home, I have made the decision to always try to do what I can to make things what I want them to be. And some days, I struggle more than others and on those days I try to remember that I am human. When I am ready to emerge from whatever I am navigating, I will.

I love knowing that I can make life a little more beautiful through how I interact with the environment that surrounds me. This includes:

  • being loving to whoever is in front of me.
  • finding sparks of light in hard and painful moments.
  • actively engaging in actions that I hope will make the world a better place.
  • creating through writing, painting, and in any way I can.
  • opening doors for strangers.
  • showing up at the table – again and again.
  • moving forward even when I feel like I can’t take another step.
  • AND MORE . . .

Even when I was younger, I always did what I could to survive. The difference is that today, more than anything in the world, I want to not only survive, but thrive.

Hineini, Here I am!

Each and every day, I ask myself:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
~Mary Oliver in ‘The Summer Day’

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.