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img_2740Life is hard. There are hours, days, weeks, months, and even years that every aspect of living is overwhelming.

Fortunately, I am mostly blessed to face hard hours, but during a rare period of time, I may face hard days or weeks. . . .rarely do I face hard months or even hard years.

I am a thriver.

A long time ago, I decided that I didn’t have time for serious suffering so after a few days, I usually shake off my sadness, my pain, and/or my devastation by taking one step and then another.

But there are two times of year that my body seems to take a hiatus from holding it together. One is around the time of my mother’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of her death, and the other time is the anniversary of when my life was tragically decimated because of the action of others. The funniest part of these times of the year is that I don’t see it coming even if I theoretically know it will.

This week marked 29 years since my mother took her last breath.

Mom’s death nearly crushed me. Even now as I type these words, I am short of breath. And yet, for the first time since her passing, I can see how much I have moved forward. Her memory doesn’t haunt me daily and for the most part I have detached from any real feelings surrounding my mother’s tragic life.

I have been able to move forward so much so that I over the last year I allowed photos of me as a little girl into my house. I guess it was time for me to admit that that little girl really did exist. While I have yet to look at them, I don’t cringe when I see the small stack of photos in my office. Instead I welcome them with an awareness that even though my childhood was seeped in horrific pain, I really was alive and not only did I make it, I became a beautiful soul.

Back to this week:
I have been hurting, creating mountains out of molehills, and feeling painfully alone even as I have been surrounded by loved ones reminding me that I am loved and even adored.  The truth is that my body has been letting me know that this week has forever been imprinted by mother’s mark. The result is that I have a urinary tract  infection (UTI) and a respiratory infection.

I have also found myself sobbing for no reason at all only to smile when in the back of my head I have become the drama queen that I deplore. But for this past week, I couldn’t stop it. My spirit was being assaulted by the memories of my childhood, of a time when I couldn’t protect the onslaught of assault.

My mother was sick, profoundly sick. Her sickness left me ill equipped for thriving and yet I am a thriver. So as the week of her yahrzeit turns into the next week, I am moving forward. I am taking one step and then another.

My UTI will heal as will my respiratory infection. My friends will forgive my antics and some may even hug me and remind me that I am loved.

Tonight, I am taking one step and then another. . . .

Onward with love and light,
Chava

PS – I am profoundly aware that this time of year leaves my spirit bruised, but I am also aware that I will always emerge to find my center again.

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Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
~ William Wordsworth

As a young child, the girl learned that silence was the only way to walk in the world. Since no one heard her screams of terror or noted her continuous falling apart at the seams, it must have meant that her words and her experiences were of little consequence.

No one responded to the cries of this little and very wounded child; no one reached out to the traumatized teen that used drugs to shield herself from the brokenness of her life. No one called the police when the rage in her home yielded screams that must of reverberated through the brick walls and into the streets. No one cared enough about the little girl and her brother that were forced to navigate some very stark realities.

As time moved forward, the girl’s brother moved away and found the inner strength to leave so that he could ultimately find his way. I’m not sure what that little girl felt at the time; my guess is that she understood that her brother was doing exactly what he should be doing post high school; he was growing up and becoming independent. Once he was gone, dysfunction emerged even more volatile and ruthless than before.

And still. . . no one listened.

Even the SWAT team that was called to her residence when her mother had a psychotic episode didn’t amount to her being safe. Returning home from a bike ride with friends, the little girl found the SWAT team surrounding her house because her mom was terrified when her son had been taken hostage; the only problem was that the sick woman’s son was actually living in another country by that time. Once the ‘ordeal’ was over, the SWAT team left, leaving behind the then preteen girl to navigate whatever realities were there. The little girl always had to navigate and when things were really rough, she had to keep herself safe too.

With nearly everyone turning their back on this precious child, she learned to become silent too. As she grew older, she would take tentative steps to find “her tribe”, sometimes they were the “right” people and sometimes they were not. Eventually she found moments when she would have just a little reprieve and she learned to treasure those moments of safety.

Unfortunately though, being silenced was already instilled. That silence lead her through the years of new beginnings. The default was her protection. She learned to encapsulate any pain and to withhold her traumatic stories. She learned to close off even the deepest hurts.

And then came the day that the little girl stopped remembering, stopped feeling, and disassociated from her previous life. She married, had children of her own, and created a beautiful life with an amazing friendship circle. BUT with time she began to feel the trickling of a breaking reservoir.

At first, only brief memories floated to the surface, but as time went on her heart exploded into shards of glass that sliced open her spirit and caused unrelenting pain.  But again she learned that no one could hear her and no one could look into her eyes while she released the dam. . .there was no one to hold the little girl’s spirit that lived inside a woman’s body.

Years passed and eventually that little girl grew. She found her “tribe”, beloved friends who could handle the trickling of her stories. And that was enough. That little girl had become a woman who felt seen and heard. The woman understood that her loved ones couldn’t bear hearing the stories, they loved her too much for that. But that little girl now a woman understood. . . she was not alone!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – After decades of silence, I know that silence is one of my natural defaults. Talking is still sometimes hard for me, but I have found other ways to unleash my silence through writing, art, and sometimes drumming. I have emerged and I am blessed to know that I do have a tribe that could now handle my stories even the hardest ones. I also know that I am loved.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

 

 

Prologue: I wrote this for a Sisterhood Friday Service at my Temple a few weeks ago. With each word came a deep awareness. Life is hard and yet as long as I can see the possibilities, I can navigate life’s many moving parts. AND I am blessed with both beautiful days and challenging days that lead to better days.   While sad moments crush my spirit, those moments pass allowing me to embrace blessings, light, and love.

~ ~ ~

Hiking Boots

Moving Forward. . . .Always

Awakening

Opening my eyes I found:
my spirit soaring.
my heart beating strongly.
my entire being at peace.

The universe has been waiting for me.

With the patience of a beloved (lover), she kept calling me from the distance and waiting. . . always waiting.
Beckoning me to breathe a little more deeply
Inspiring me to honor my own rhythm
Asking me to listen to the silence
Empowering me to release what no longer serves me

And I listened. Now I am ready to show up.

Hineini, Here I am!

What does it mean to be here? Right here?

The answer is simple and yet not simple. I am called to show up with a full heart and a full spirit. I am called to serve the best way I know how.

What does it mean for me to say Hineini, I am here? It means that I do what I can to make this world a beautiful place. I try to be authentic and loving. I try to put a smile on my face even when my heart is breaking.

It also means I hold the door open for the stranger. And I give all that I can to someone who is in need. Sometimes it means that I stand up strong for what I believe in and sometimes I remain silent because it isn’t the right time to speak my truth or share my thoughts.

Hineini, I am here. My job is to love humanity and to do my best to add a little light to our world.

Will you join me on this journey? What will you do to make this world just a little better for someone else, maybe a stranger, maybe a beloved?

Hineini, I am here. Are you?

וּמָתוֹק, הָאוֹר; וְטוֹב לַעֵינַיִם, לִרְאוֹת אֶת-הַשָּׁמֶשׁ.
And the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing
it is for the eyes to behold the sun.
[Kohelet 11:7]

sunset beginning bay

South Padre Island Sunset January 2019

As a seeker, I often look for meaning in all that is happening within me and around me. I take horrible moments and make them a little easier to stomach by re-framing them and finding the gifts within the challenges. I find the light even within the darkest moments.

Maybe that is why I changed my name so many years ago. My last name means ‘wave of light’. Waves could be disturbing, but they also propel us towards change whether it be in the ocean or in life. And as long as you can find the ‘light’ anything is possible.

Lately I have been drawn to the AWESOME power of choosing life with all of it’s moving parts. Life is really hard sometimes. Reality can be daunting when you open your eyes in the morning. Sometimes we have to make hard decisions when there is no right or wrong. Sometimes you have to say good-bye to a loved one way too early. Sometimes you don’t have what you need and you have to make due with what you have.

Morning Candle LightingWe do have a choice of how we absorb life’s gifts and challenges. So this morning, I started my day by breathing in the light, lighting a couple of candles, and chanting “Shining”, a beautiful chant by Rabbi Shefa Gold. http://www.rabbishefagold.com/shining

Choosing to wake up and breathe in the light while chanting in Hebrew

Arise and shine for your light has come,
and the Glory of God is shining upon you.

[Isaiah 60:1]

helps me navigate all that is filling my spirit – the good, the sad, the hard, the frustrating, and the many realities.

My holy work is to consciously thrive regardless of where I stand. I am choosing to find light and allowing that light to soothe and comfort my spirit. Join me!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Note: This blog is full of raw honesty and may be hard for some of my beloveds to read. Please don’t feel obligated. With my 53rd birthday on the horizon, I am being to drawn to share an awareness that has been emerging over the last month as I have been writing for my upcoming book, Thriving: No Option.)

img_2681As a young child, I saw my father as my knight in shining armor. I adored him with every fiber of my being. I could never get enough time with him. Never. Wherever he went, I wanted to follow. His love for people and music was so contagious that I followed in his footsteps. He adored me and showed me in so many ways. But in truth, he didn’t show me in the most important way he should have. He left me navigating a life of pure unadulterated darkness. My father was the first man to leave my spirit shattered. A cycle that I’ve allowed to perpetuate itself time and time again.

While there is no question that my father loved me, he didn’t keep me safe. In fact, his silence permanently scarred me by allowing me to be regularly beaten, verbally assaulted, and ultimately raped. It is only recently, that the full impact of his actions and inactions have left my spirit gasping for air.

How could a man that loved me as my father did allow my own mother to beat me? How could a man that loved me as he did stay with a violent and mentally ill woman instead of providing a safe place to call home. My mother’s violence lead me into foster care and into the hands of a man that would rape me. My best friend’s family wanted to take me as their foster child, but I knew enough to say no even though I couldn’t stop the initial assaults.

My father might have been able to make a difference if he had been stronger, but that wasn’t my father. Instead I never learned that I was worthy of love and care. . . not really.

A few weeks ago, I was stung by the onslaught of this very  unwanted realization. Since then my sleep has been troubled and I have found myself shedding tears at some of the most inopportune moments. The nightmares and clenched teeth of my sleep have become unwanted guests. Although, as soon as I identified what was going on, the healing began.

At first, my awareness was about what my father had done and not done, but later I was stunned by what has become an even more problematic realization. The first relationship I ever had with a man overshadowed every interaction with men that followed. Instead of finding loving relationships with men that loved and cared for the person I was, I found loving relationships that ultimately left me hurting. How could it have been any different, I didn’t know how I needed to be cared for and loved. Besides that, relationships can be challenging. . .especially when they are ending.

The men were not intentionally hurtful,  I think I just struggled more because of the baggage I was holding. I lacked the inner strength to navigate reality.  Some relationships aren’t right or meant to last. Some relationships offer you the most treasured packages, but not forever. I believe that that’s life. The challenge is that my heart and spirit just didn’t have the grace when it was time to release old loves so that we could both move as we needed.

Today, I know this: I want someone to hold me when I need to cry inconsolable tears. I want to be loved through the pain of major surgery. I want someone who loves me when my entire being is on overload and I am celebrating both silly successes and major programs. I want to love someone who can listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s wisdom and “embrace the glorious mess that I am.”

I have chosen people that can’t show up for me, but that cycle is breaking now.

Hineini, Here I am!!!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – I am sad that my father never kept me safe or loved the fullness of my spirit, but my responsibility to make healthy choices now. I learned a lot from my beloved father. I am just sorry I learned some really hard lessons too.

4 ACTIONS IN 4 DAYS

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
― Vincent Van Gogh

Have you ever been paralyzed by taking your first step in something that you really wanted to do? Of course you have, we all have!

Tonight as I was talking to my dear friend Sami (not her real name) when I intuitively felt drawn to share with her that it is time for her to get out of her own way. I strongly suggested that she choose to do‘4 ACTIONS IN 4 DAYS’.

The goal is simple. I suggested that my friend stop allowing herself to get stuck in the ruts. In fact, I specifically told her to stop hugging the ruts. We all do this sometimes; I am no different. For me, my challenge is staying in loving relationships with men that are beautiful, but not available for me on a soul level. This realization has been with me for a while, but it is only over the last several weeks that I have finally found my voice, realized what I had to do, and become empowered to release and heal from my previous cycles.

Creatively, I have also had a few ruts. Some of these ruts include:

  • Fear of painting and sharing my work. For that I started #The100DayProject after listening to the most amazing podcast, The Chase Jarvis Live Show, in which he interviewed Elle Luna. The two interviews that Chase did with Elle Luna lead me to do my own #ActivistCardsByChava. You can google it if you want to see a few examples. Needless to say that this 100 Day Project stayed with me for well over 100 Days AND it has opened several new doors for me.
  • Sharing my writing was really difficult for me at first.  After hearing a professor of a graduate level writing class tell me that I was a horrible writer and that I should give it up, that is exactly what I chose to do in early twenties. And then after over a decade of refusing to write, I started writing again after my second son was born when a few magazines wanted to publish his story. BUT I wasn’t writing with any regularity. That all changed in March 2009 when I started this blog.
  • Choosing to take care of myself has often been one of the hardest ruts I have had to navigate. Today, I openly share my weight journey, track my steps, and reach out to friends so that I can ask for creative solutions for moving forward. Success has come as I have actively embraced my health journey by eating better, moving more, and losing about 85 lbs. I am literally growing into a healthier person.

In my conversation, I suggest that she simply move forward tomorrow by deciding what 4 actions she’d like to do over the next 4 days. For me, I can say that while I may have been thinking about each of these possible transformations for a long while. Once I realized it was time, I didn’t look back. The plans came to me in moments and I simply started taking one step and then other.  I literally opened my eyes and my heart and without looking back I found my way.

The most valuable lesson can be summed up by the wisdom found when Chase Charvis  interviewed his friend mountaineer and philanthropist Melissa Arnot Reid:

Day 15 - Walk up hills slowlsyStanding still will not propel any of us forward. I am so hoping that Sami can find the inner strength to take one step and then another. May my friend and all of us find the actions we need in order to transform ourselves in a way that helps us become more grounded while soaring as human beings.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Creating Sacred Time

best photo ever!Awakening

Opening my eyes I found:
my spirit soaring.
my heart beating strongly.
my entire being at peace.

The universe has been waiting for me.

With the patience of a lover, she kept calling me from the distance and waiting. . . always waiting.
Beckoning me to breathe a little more deeply
Inspiring me to honor my own rhythm
Asking me to listen to the silence
Empowering me to release what no longer serves me

And I listened. Hineini, Here I am!

***** ***** *****

Yesterday I returned home from the most amazing spiritual retreat I’ve had in over a decade.  After spending nearly five glorious days and nights in South Padre Island at the home of dear friends, I feel more grounded than I have in years.  Sacred time nestled between the Gulf of Mexico on the east, and Laguna Madre on the west was truly a gift in every way.

From the moment I got to my newly found oasis until the moment I left to return home, I felt at peace with the land, the water, the sunrises, the sunsets, the wind, and even the cool weather. I relaxed, I created, I took long walks, and I rested. I felt the sun warm my soul while my friends nourished me in every way.

For so long, I have needed to allow my rhythm to be my guide. I needed the quiet and to put down my ‘to do’ list. I needed to feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin. I needed long walks, awesome food, and love. It feels like forever since I allowed myself to decompress the way I did.

I even took time to watch AWESOME movies, become inspired by some of the most thought-provoking TED Talks. I know my friends wanted to show me the dolphins, the local birds, but all I needed was the water, the sun, and the time we had together.

sunset - bayNext time I need to soar, may I remember to take the time to ground myself with nature, with friends, or if I am lucky – with both. I am so lucky that the universe beckoned to me and that I listened.

South Padre Island nurtured me on down to each and every one of my cells. My heart feels a little more whole, my spirit feels more grounded even as it soars, and I feel ready for the rhythm of the next six or so weeks. I needed this sacred time so that I could refuel for all that is ahead!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,

Chava