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December 2016 - looking out into water
(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5777, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-2NA)

~ ~ ~

“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” 
~ Brené Brown*

I love fiercely; I hurt deeply; I feel joy with every fiber of my body; I am what I am.

For the most part, the outside world sees me as reasonable and grounded. Maybe I am. AND I am also extraordinarily emotional that I have to remember to breathe into any emotion.

Loving life as I do comes at a cost. Intensity and passion run through my veins. This means that those that love me (including myself) have to  navigate minefields as well as pure exhilaration. I feel with my entire being. And when I feel comfortable, I literally share my whole self.

The minefields are probably the hardest to navigate. Sometimes I wonder what the hell just exploded inside me. At the same time, I love that I can take a ‘time out’ to catch my breath and become more reasonable. While my outbursts tend to be quick, the furious nature of them aren’t easy to navigate.

When my spirit soars, it is really quite enchanting. The electrifying energy is so life affirming and contagious. I absolutely love when my positive energy touches those around me. Sometimes I wonder who feels better after these exchanges; I love that it seems to be mutual.

I don’t remember always being able to honor my feelings in this way, but I sure do feel blessed to feel comfortable enough inside of myself today.

As grateful as I am that I walk through the world as I do, I also struggle. Feeling with ever fiber of my being has a cost. Every morning, I open my eyes and have to remind myself to breathe deeply and trust in the universe. I also have to do everything I can to quiet my mind so that I can better move through the day. On most days, I do this with ease. I get up, I journal so that acknowledge the fullness of where I am, and then I embrace life with open arms and an excitement to see how my personal life will unfold.

This doesn’t mean I forget the world I live in. I never forget that Trump’s venom is sitting in the White House and Netanyahu’s government poisons Israel. I never forget that climate change may destroy our world and that human slavery is alive today. And every continent has horrific disasters that literally destroy life at every turn.

Life’s many moving parts are a reality.  I will always be aware of them and do what I can to make a positive impact while also feeling as intensely as I do. I will also forever feel grateful to my sons who accept all of me (and mostly) accept how I wear my emotions. And I have a few dear friends that are totally present for how I show up. I love that I am (mostly) loved for who I am. That’s pretty awesome considering I can’t be anyone else. 🙂

embrace my scars live my passionAs I was wrapping up this blog, I was notified by Facebook that I shared the following hope card* last year when I posted about My Morning Pages/Writings. I love how this card showed up now.

 

Accepting my own humanity as I try to navigate my many imperfections can be really daunting.  I tend to be really hard on myself especially when anger or deep sadness pour from my soul. At the same time I am embracing the fullness of who I am. I am beautifully imperfect, I am what I am. I am me.

Note:

  1. Quote was from audiobook by Brené Brown from Men, Women, and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough; 2012.
  2. Courtesy of Bone Sigh Arts and Terri St. Cloud. These Hope Cards have been a gift. Find them: https://goo.gl/uVc1lc

December 2016 - looking out into water

(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5777, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-2NA)

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If you are someone who is in my inner circle, at any moment, you might see tears flowing and watch me bounce between being despondent and laughing at the notion that I could feel that way. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. But I process life and my innermost thoughts as the writer that I am. I take the time to weave each letter, each word, and each sentence until I am able to find answers to both questions known and unknown. I am a weaver of words

There are days when I feel silenced by my own inner critic and sometimes the voices of those around me.  Silencing the  critics is nearly impossible. At every given moment, there are so many voices racing through my head.

“You are so limited!”

“You call yourself a writer?”

“Look at yourself. . .”

“Did you really say that?”

My guess is that I am not alone and yet I feel alone. In the inner confines of my mind, there is no one to save me, but myself. It’s time for me to become one with myself and to write with that voice.

Perhaps it is a leap of faith that I need to take; perhaps it is simply that I need to trust myself and the universe too. I’ve been blessed with a net that appears when my heart is racing so quickly that I can’t catch my breath. My beloved village simply shows up and holds me up until I can stand on my own.

Now it is time for me to trust that that same village will hold me tight as I share my soul and reach for the next chapters of my life.

~ ~ ~

Over the last months, I have realized that MAGiC is my absolute favorite word. I believe in the power of magic and my ability to make magic happen. Have you ever noticed how beautiful moments and creations feel magical? Awe is a part of life AND magic will always be a part of awe. Don’t we all want to be surrounded by awe?

Making life work with all of her moving parts takes magic. The more I trust and work with the magic, the more authentic I am. And living authentically may be one of my strongest desires. Yet living authentically and trusting the magic is complicated and it makes me feel so very vulnerable.

 

Some of those voices are so f*cking loud! All of those voices have been spoken at one time or another, some by friends, some by respected teachers, some by loved ones (including myself), and some by strangers.

With these voices challenging me, I have decided that this is the season to plow through these voices and begin to shower the world with my most authentic self.

I know that how I am received is rarely about me, it is about how people choose to interpret my transparency or my spirit. With that in mind, I have already started sharing my evening doodles and over time I hope to share my voice with all of the moving parts that make me who I am:

PASSIONATE
COMPLICATED
INTENSE
SPIRITUAL
CREATIVE
VULNERABLE
EMPOWERED
CONSCIOUS
SENSITIVE
INTUITIVE
PLAYFUL
&
BEAUTIFUL
(inside and out)

Comfort-ZoneThe good news is that as I choose to live more consciously and authentically, the more I am guided by Emile Zola’s  sage advice to “live out loud”.

With all of the voices in my head, this isn’t necessarily easy.  Yet I am doing the work!!! Because if I don’t, I will never thrive as I aspire to. I can’t let my own vulnerability take over my life; I am too good for that!

Breathing deeply, I am learning to trust that when I trust the universe and leave my comfort zone. Only when I do will the magic unfold.

May we all find our own way to trust the universe and the journey that is ingrained in our soul.

Sending love and light,
Chava

 

 

 

Elul Reflections: Coming soon

December 2016 - looking out into water

I BELIEVE IN LIVING CONSCIOUSLY AND ALWAYS BEING REAL. This isn’t easy. You see, like all of us, I have many roles in my life. I am a mother, a sister, a friend; I am an educator, a community leader, and an activist; I am a woman, a thriver, and an intuitive. AND I am also a writer, a chanter, and a drummer; I embrace life with open arms and a passionate neshama, soul.  My creative and spiritual essence craves the freedom to share the fullness of who I am in all that I do.

According to Glennon Doyle, being real means getting ‘naked and unashamed’. While this leaves me vulnerable, it also gives me the wings I need to fly higher than I have ever flown before. Am I scared to unveil my core as a way to touch those that trip over my writings? ABSOLUTELY! My friend Diane Foushée (z’l) inspired me to reach deeply into my soul and share the fullness of my thoughts with my friends and readers. Until a couple months before her sudden death, I had no idea that she looked forward to the two times a year that I shared my journey as a seeker. During those times, I write a daily blog as I take the time to actively self-reflect and unveil my deepest thoughts.

Last year, I was too sad to write my daily Elul Reflections; although I did write a couple. Without Diane, I didn’t want to write.  I also didn’t know if my writing impacted anyone.  This feeling has changed. Over the last month, I have been blessed to have friends tell me how I have impacted their lives in a positive way.  Those friends have given me the courage to dive into sharing from my heart. As we move into Elul, the time of reflection just before the Jewish New Year, I will return to my writing practice that provided the sacred space to become more aligned as the woman I am. I will embrace the world with an open heart and a willingness to reach to a healthier and more balanced place in all that I navigate. I will share the rawness of my spirit with the gifts and challenges that are part of my reality.

As a ‘TRUTH TELLER’ and a writer, I want to weave my words and share my soul.  Join me.

Elul Reflections: Sharing My Inner Soul – Will begin Tuesday evening, August 22nd.

(Note: I have been impacted by some amazing writers and thinkers over the past couple of years. Glennon Doyle coined ‘truth teller’ and helped me through her podcasts to better understand what it means to be ‘naked and unashamed’. I am here!!! Hineini!

Other writers include Anne Lamott, Rebecca Solnit, SARK, Sheryl Sandberg (all from the Bay area – WOW!) and Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Martha Beck, among so many more. I read their books, listen to their podcasts and strive to embody their wisdom. If I ever say something and do not honor them by annotating their work, please forgive me. Over time I have realized that so much of how they think has entered into my subconscious.)

 

waking up this morning, the universe has felt totally aligned for me.

my body moved as I needed it to move. my heart felt and still feels whole. by 5 AM, I was on my ayurvedic journey. i had done my loving-kindness meditation, drank a cup of fenugreek tea, and now I am drinking holy basil tea.

it’s only 6:22 AM and I feel ALIVE, beautiful, and centered. everything feels balanced. WOW!

i have already journaled, and now I am writing a short blog.

sure there are bills that I am struggling to pay, weight that I need to lose for my health/back, and family challenges. there are also amazing and inspiring friends, a snoring pup at my feet, and a job that I can’t wait to get to today.

there are also paint brushes that need to be used, books that are being read, and a world to explore.

music-of-her-soul

courtesey of terri st. cloud of bone sigh arts at: http://bit.ly/2tzcBxD

perhaps best of all was opening up my morning email from terri st. cloud of bone sigh arts to see this amazing prose and picture. I love terri’s work, it always shows up at the perfect time!

each and every word here speaks of my soul; my entire being is reverberating with a rhythm that reminds me that:

I am alive.

I am thriving.

I have arrived to this exquisite time.

synchronicity abounds.

 

ps: confirmation that I really am a writer came when someone ‘liked’ a blog and then became a follower. when I went to the specific blog (http://bit.ly/2uSVhry) that was ‘liked’, I found that it resonated with me too. and then WordPress asked me for feedback about their blog platform. I am not sure if they will respond to my feedback, but I hope so. I so want to grow THIS blog!

A Letter to a Friend:

On several occasions you have questioned whether Facebook friends are really listening or whether you are being heard at all. You seemed to be wondering out loud whether Facebook is some sort of alternate reality.

You are not alone in wondering about the power or purpose of Facebook. Since joining Facebook in 2009, I have watched myself evolve in how I connect with the world in large part due to my interactions on this form of social media. We seem to be asking similar questions and perhaps coming to different assumptions.

fb

On a personal level, I have grown to love it!!! At nearly anytime – day or night, I am surrounded by people that jazz my soul, inspire me to be a better person, nurture me when I am down, and/or support me when I need a kick in the tuchus (tush). And sometimes there is little or no real interaction; sometimes friends are just on the ride of life with me. The more direct I am, the more substantial  the help can be. Help has come in the form of information, resources, and/or supportive listening. My response to these interactions have helped me navigate into more healthy connections and out of friendships or connections that no longer serve me.
Facebook is not some sort of alternate reality. It is full of life (gifts and challenges), experiences, politics, information (true and false). People share what they are comfortable with sharing; this is no different than life in any other social realm. People share what they want you to hear and some are more authentic than others. This seems to be the reality whether on the phone with friends, at work, in synagogue or any house of prayer, at the park, or even the local grocery store.
When tough times hit, people can’t always help and don’t know what to say. The same can be said for all interactions.
Finding personal support for me seems to come mostly when I share what is going on and what I am doing about it. When I have been down for too long (which I have), the responses stop showing up with frequency. It doesn’t necessarily feel good, but each of us only have so much time in our lives to deal with our own crap let alone every one else’s crap. Sigh.
Politically, I have had to face that my strong opinions make people uncomfortable. And if someone is a really close friend, we learn to refrain from commenting on political posts or we accept the explosions that follow a ‘confrontation’. AND I have been known to end friendships or lose friendships when passions run deep. I love knowing where I stand with people even when it means that saying good-bye feels like the only option. I don’t have time to hang with people whose values I find troublesome.

I use Facebook to share all of the moving parts of how I walk in the world. I share poetry, sayings, politics, pain, joy, gratitude, and sometimes hell.

For me, Facebook has opened many doors to opportunities for learning, stretching, and connecting. While I love this tool, it is also one tool of many that I use in my life.

With love and light,
Chava

PS – Some examples of how Facebook has added to my life:

  1. Politically now, I have more information at my fingertips.
  2. Advice is always available for the asking!! And sometimes when not asked. 🙂
  3. When I needed a job, opportunities surfaced.
  4. After I lost my job, friends from all parts of my life showed up to help; I am not sure how I would have survived if people didn’t come out of the woodwork.
  5. If I am sad or lonely, depressed or scared, there is always someone who shows up to comfort me.
  6. While many people have profoundly different views from me, there is always someone there to give me a different way of seeing things.
  7. Whenever I post a link to my blog, it gets read. 🙂
  8. Whether I need a place to eat in Houston, a place to stay in Washington DC or a good book to read – Ask and I will end up with a ton of answers.
  9. I have found the best sayings just by lurking on Facebook. Did you know probably have over 70 pages of quotes that I have saved?
  10. AND so much more!!!!!!!

 

I have a problem. I am an addict!!! I just can’t get enough of that white powdery substance. . . .SUGAR.

With this in mind I decided to begin a new health journey  and ask for support from my friends. I did this once before and it lasted for over six years ago; the great news is that I have kept 65 lbs. off, but now I need to go back to the choices I made back then.

The good news is that all of those healthy changes made a difference and now it is time for me to begin again.

Hineini, Here I am!!

Today I started prepping for my latest health journey. Instead of counting 45 days until my 45th birthday, I am counting 21 days of healthier eating, aka no sugar. My hope is that at the end of 21 days, I will start another health journey while remaining steadfast on refraining from sugar too.

Over and over again, I have heard that it takes 21 days to create new habits. So here is the first habit I will be working to change – NO SUGAR!

Making 21 Countdown chartIn preparation for today, I made a fun little check off chart. I did this for two reasons. One, I needed to create a ritual/visualization around checking off the days. Two, I wanted a prop to share my thinking about this journey.

As a sugar addict, I need to own that part of my personality and look for ways to make better choices.

AND here is the ask, please celebrate my successes and support me through my challenges. If this isn’t comfortable for you, simply ignore me. 🙂

Transformation needs to happen. Being healthy is literally a non-negotiable.  So tonight at sundown, I will officially begin my 21 day countdown.  I will share my journey via Facebook and my blog.

Don’t hesitate to ask me how I am doing. Your mentioning it won’t sabotage the work; in fact, it will probably help me remember that I am not alone!

l’Chayim, to life,

Chava

Energy Comes First

Your energy introduces you. . . .Truth.

While I am far from perfect, I tend to walk into almost any new environment with warmth and love in my heart. I can’t help but smile at babies or any child, seniors, and animals. Beauty always brings tears to my eyes and authenticity jazzes my soul.

With each step, I remember that my energy is what people meet first.

I love that people are drawn to my energy. My only hope is that I wish I could be healthier, more vibrant, and even more inspirational. And yet, I also love that even if I am not all of these things, I still have the ability to make strangers smile, dogs wag their tails, and children play with me.

On a good day, I make new friends wherever I go and sometimes, I am blessed to connect with a new soul friend with barely a word spoken.

Beauty surrounds me.

On a bad day, I can become hyper-focused and forget that regardless of what is happening, life is not all about me or what I need to accomplish. My hope is that when I get like this, I can turn it off quickly. Sometimes I am lucky enough to do just that.

A few years ago, I visited one of my congregants post surgery. As she laid surrounded by loved ones in ICU, I walked into the room. With tears in my eyes, I was instantly transformed. I remembered another time and place when I had no words for my own family who painfully and awkwardly stood vigil for one of our loved ones. But within moments, I asked the family if I could pray with one of the most beautiful souls I knew. And when they said yes, I found myself chanting and praying with an intensity that felt right for that moment. Fortunately, this horrific chapter had a happy ending; my congregant was able to not only live, but thrive again.

Pain and memories are part of life.

For some reason, the above hospital visit touched me deeply. Walking into this congregant’s hospital room nearly paralyzed me. And yet, I quickly realized that there was no time for self-absorption; this was a time for unconditional love. In fact nearly every time I walk into a new environment, I find myself propelled towards warmth and love.

Over time, connections evolve and become grounded in a beautiful reality. But it is always my hope that when you meet me, you will meet a sweet energy that makes you want to get to know who is walking through the door.