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I dwell in Possibility –
Written by: Emily Dickinson

Always.

I see the gifts within the challenges.
I continuously seek ways to improve all that is unfolding around me.
I find solutions and keep looking for better solutions.

I strive to be the best me,
even as I navigate the messy middle.

And when things get dark, I take a deep breath and another until I become aware of the sparks.
And the good news is light always emerges from darkness.

I dwell in Possibility.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: One 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.

Be A Human Thank You

In her book, On Being Human, Jennifer Pastiloff shares her mantra, “May I be a human thank you and not an asshole.”

I appreciate how beautiful it is to simply be a ‘human thank you’ even when those around me are ungracious or ungrateful. The same goes when I am feeling angry and frustrated at whatever is happening in my orbit. Some days are full of sh*t moments, but I have a choice for how to navigate.

For me, there is power being in a place of gratitude. I soar when I note the gifts even those within the challenges. I started figuring this out in a more tangible way when my sons were seriously ill at different points during their childhood. Their illnesses were horrific for our entire family, but the nurses and doctors which showed up were amazing. At the same time, we were surrounded by some beautiful friends that kept us fed and took care of us in some very thoughtful ways.

While both of my children healed from their various illnesses, the lessons that I learned along the way made a difference. Smiling takes the edge off the pain. Acknowledging the angels makes the assholes less impactful. Noticing the precious moments even during our struggles is the gift I gave myself.

Basically, saying thank you at every opportunity feels right and even profound.

When my father was alive, I distinctly remember how every cashier, waiter/waitress, or store clerk received a smile, a kind word, and always a story. Morry Bloomberg never lost a moment to be warm to whoever was in front of him and he never walked away from anyone without saying “thank you”. . . never. Every person that met my father loved him. He was the epitome of a “human thank you” and he was never an asshole.

While my father didn’t protect me from my mother as he should of, I still feel blessed to have been Morry’s little girl and to learned from him how to relate to the world that was sometimes quite harsh.

This lesson has stayed with me in my encounters with people that forget to say thank you or worse yet have been rude and hurtful to me.  For the most part, I don’t hold grudges; instead, I choose to detach with kindness and love. Mostly.

I am still growing and will always be a work in progress as I try to remember to be a better human thank you.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: One 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 55 - Tears Can Cleanse your heart and spiritTwenty years ago, my brother and I stood by father’s bed as he took his last breath. 

Looking back I don’t recall it being extraordinary, it was simply the end. My father was no longer in pain; he wasn’t waiting to die. He was simply gone.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of him. I am the woman I am because of my father’s love. He taught me how to navigate people and he taught me how to compartmentalize so that I could face each day no matter what I was experiencing.

What I wouldn’t give to hear his corny stories or see how he could make anyone feel at ease in his presence. 

And yet, if I am honest, my father didn’t keep me safe; he didn’t protect me from the wrath of my mother. 

I’m 55 years old and I’ve never known what to do with my feelings about my father. I loved him deeply and he let me down too.  But somehow, I forgave him – mostly. I believe he loved me the best way he knew how.

My dad found ways to create magic even in the midst of the storms. He would take me on long drives that felt like they lasted forever until they didn’t. There was always laughter and singing when it was just the two of us. We we would sing the hits and the oldies. We would make up songs and giggle about the “chewing gum that lost it’s flavor on the bedpost over night”.  He was silly and loving, but then he brought me home. 

The story I tell myself is that he didn’t know how to navigate the realities that took place in my childhood home. On a good day, it doesn’t matter; on a bad day I face the numbness that has developed over time. I just keep moving forward.

I was always daddy’s little girl.  At least I was until the end of his life. Somehow I pissed him off in his last days of life and he let me know. It wasn’t pretty; I am not even sure if it was conscious. But the tension during that fateful summer day was some of the worse pain I’ve ever felt.

Sadly, that horrible day has always left me wondering if my dad would like the person I am today.

My guess is that he would.

I am truly Morry’s daughter in every way. I learned how to be fully human from my perfectly imperfect father. 

My hope is that I took all the best from my father and shared that with my own sons. 

And maybe. . . if he is looking down at me, he will see someone  he is proud of.

Onward with love, light, and 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.

too much. . . .

 
 
and yet. . . .
i have no words. . .
just feelings . . . .
 
i am a deeply feeling person. 
who doesn’t often share the details.
i can’t
nor do i want to.
 
From a young age, I learned that silence is the way to navigate my most intense feelings. As I have gotten older, I have found a way to shed some of what is going on within me, but I can’t do that with multiple layers . I figure it is too much for me to process . . .  let alone others.
 
Feb 2015  Walking from behindYesterday was simply one of those days. I felt like something terribly wrong would happen and I wasn’t wrong. A spiritual tsunami struck. Surprisingly, I was able to keep my spirit in check and continue on with my day. I was clear that I couldn’t let my guard down until I was alone and in a quiet space.
 
So I did what I do. I worked. I allowed myself to do some monotonous tasks which meant that I didn’t have to think too much. I went shopping for a major purchase that I had been putting off for weeks. And I continued on my day.
 
I did what I tend to do so beautifully. I put a smile on my face; I put one foot in front of the other; and I forced myself to breathe. I did all that and I was proud of myself. I was choosing to not slip into the ravine that was calling my name.  
 
In truth, I love how I can compartmentalize. It doesn’t mean that I do it perfectly, but I am seriously ok with being perfectly imperfect. Truthfully, perfection is a figment of most of our imaginations.
 
I think I might have been able to keep myself in check, but instead there was this piece of straw that broke the camel’s back. So I came home and I let myself feel it all and to feel it deeply. 
 
i was alone.
no one could hear me.
so i let myself feel. . . 
too much. 
 
Onward with love, light, and blessings – always,
Chava
 

Somewhere along the line, I lost my courage to write. I am not quite sure where it went, but it temporarily flew out the window one day and left me staggering. 

Writing has been an integral part of my life since I can remember. I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, but for a moment in time the words ceased to flow.  It’s almost like my gift had moved somewhere else and didn’t leave a forwarding address. Losing the ability to write was scary for me at first. My consolation came from realizing that I have always been a writer and I always will be. And I didn’t really stop writing, I just stopped writing my blog and my book. I was simply pausing and that is ok even if it felt a little dark.

In her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert shared that as a 16 years old, she made a vow to always be a writer. When I read that, I found myself reflecting. While I have never made a formal commitment to writing, I have never seen a reason to. Being a writer has always been a given, it’s been in my blood. I believe Liz may be onto something. I think it may be time for me to create a commitment ceremony so that the next time I pause doesn’t feel so scary.

I am a writer. This I know without question. 

And yet, I think it is always good to explore why things happen. Why did I lose the courage to write?

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.””

~Brené Brown

I think what happened is that I began wondering whether or not my writing, my stories were worthy of sharing. I became overwhelmed with how different people felt the need to tell me how they perceived my offerings. So I stopped. I didn’t want my feelings or thoughts to be critiqued. I just wanted my words to flow. I do, however, appreciate when folks let me know my grammar or wording need to be tweaked.

As I am waking up, I am feeling joy with my writing again. What people think of me is none of my business nor is it a concern. I love writing. It fuels my spirit and keeps me grounded too. Writing is how I keep myself in check. 

When I lost my ability to write, I felt like I was being silenced. I couldn’t find the words to say what I wanted to say.  The truth is that I silenced myself. But I am back. I am ready to live out loud as only I can do. 

My full heart is ready to flow out into the world and watch the reverberation unfold. I am here to do the heart work of writing. Writing is what makes me whole. 

Thanks for hanging on for the ride! 

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: If you have any ideas for how I can create a commitment ceremony to take place between me and my writing, I’d love to hear.

#writer #thrivernotsurvivor #CreativeCalling #BigMagic

 

Photo Courtesy of Chava

Each Thursday night or Friday, I write a short blessing and I send it out into the world. While I send them just in time for Shabbat or the Jewish sabbath, they are meant for everyone regardless of their faith based tradition. I love writing and sharing them. First I text it via WhattsApp to my family and then I text or email my words to a few friends from every aspect of my life. Finally, I post it on Facebook. These words are my gift to those that have impacted my life in both small and large ways.

‘my shabbat blessings’, as they are called, were inspired by a friend of mine who died in March 2021. Complications with COVID as well as other health challenges took Stacey Zisook Robinson’s life too soon. On many Friday afternoon’s Stacey would PM (private message) me a beautiful Shabbat prayer. And on most weeks, I felt like her words were written just for me, maybe they were. Nearly every prayer felt like a salve for whatever was filling my spirit on any given week. I regularly wondered how she knew the exact words I needed to hear. I learned to stop asking her and simply receive her gifts.

About two weeks after Stacey’s passing, I felt like I needed to keep her beautiful tradition alive, so I started sending my own Shabbat blessings out into the world. As soon as I did so, I quickly realized:

  • The words I put into my blessings were the exact words I needed to hear.
  • My blessings often touch people in sweet ways; it seems like I am doing for others what Stacey did for me.
  • They have become my way of connecting with people that I deeply care for even if I don’t actively keep in touch.

Writing ‘my shabbat blessings’ has also helped keep my writing alive. Over the last year, my writing has slowed down to a trickle. On a hard week, I used to believe that I forgot how to write. On a good week, I understood that I was simply taking time to inhale or perhaps simply pause before I started exhaling my words into the universe again.

In essence, the blessings I’ve been sharing with others have become balm for my writer’s soul. This realization has released me from the pain I had been feeling about my own easing up of writing my book. I have never stopped writing, but I needed to slow it down. I still write every day. I journal two to three times daily and nearly every day I post deep reflections on Facebook and Instagram. And sometimes, I even write personal letters. 🙂

Below are two of my most recent ‘shabbat blessings’. From now on I will start sharing them in my blog so that they are available for those that would like to see them. Feel free to subscribe to my blog that way you will never miss ‘my shabbat blessing’.

Onward with love,
Chava

June 25, 2021
my shabbat blessing:

life is full of:
light and darkness.
moments to soar and moments to reflect.
gifts and challenges.

may you be blessed:
to rise above the muck.
to thrive no matter what.
and to discern with an open heart.

may today give you insight.
may tomorrow give you wings.
and no matter what always keep listening to your inner voice.

you are on your own journey, trust yourself. 
and never forget to breathe.

onward with love, light, blessings – now and always,
chava

~ ~ ~ 
July 2, 2021
my shabbat blessing:

take a moment
inhale deeply
nourish your body
exhale fully
release what no longer serves you

take a moment
listen 
to the birds chirping 
or maybe the wind blowing

take a moment
see 
the lifecycle of the flowers as they thrive or wilt
or perhaps the creatures as they wander from here to there

inhale
exhale 
again and again

may you be blessed to pause each and every day.

onward with love, light, blessings – now and always,
chava

Thriver Cards by Chava

Life is full of dichotomies and below is how I often choose to navigate.

~ ~ ~

Inhale the love that surrounds me.
Exhale the deep sadness and core loneliness that sometimes nests within my spirit.

Inhale the precious environment that I have created and embraced.
Exhale the tragedy of my first home.

Inhale the gifts of my teachers and my teachings.
Exhale the times that people let me know that I wasn’t enough.

Inhale the memory of lovers that filled my spirit.
Exhale the reality of what is or isn’t in this moment.

Inhale the beauty of my body, mind, and soul.
Exhale the stories that I often tell myself.

Inhale the inner knowledge that I am on an ongoing becoming.
Exhale the struggles that sometimes come with growth.

Inhale my ability to release what no longer serves me.
Exhale the gifts and challenges that comes from what I’ve released.

Inhale the gifts of friendship that keep showing up – time and again.
Exhale the losses of those that choose to close the door or to the doors I closed for myself.

Inhale the light and let it travel to the four chambers of my heart, my lungs, and through my entire being.
Exhale that light into the world.
Again and again.

Inhale the love that always emerges at the perfect time.
Exhale that same love to the life-forces that surround me.
Again and again.

(Now Continue . . .)
Inhale all that is good, all that is beautiful.
Exhale all that is good, all that is beautiful.

Inhale.
Exhale.

Inhale.
Exhale.

I’ve got this!
I can do hard things!

Onward with love, light, and 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.

Rise Up

I am resilient
I trust the movement
I negate the chaos
Uplift the negative
I’ll show up at the table, again and again and again
I’ll close my mouth and learn to listen
*RESILIENT* by Rising Appalachia

My life is a journey. Each day I can open my eyes and decide how I will navigate the world that is in front of me. The choice is mine.

But sometimes I forget this. I am trying to be human in a world that doesn’t quite know how to negotiate with how I walk in the world.

As someone who has worked hard to find my voice and to live out loud. I have been feeling the sting of being silenced by both well meaning people and others who struggle with how I show up in the world. You know the people that need to let you know how you are instead of really listening to not only what you are saying, but the space between the words too. For a while I did what ultimately ended up breaking my own heart. I became outwardly silent. I quieted the sweet rawness had become a part of my essence.

With each day that I felt silenced, I felt a darkness bubbling up inside of me. I allowed myself to sink into those feelings. What they brought up wasn’t pretty, the feelings were sad and lonely. The good news is that I didn’t hide from myself, only from every part of my world.

And then I read a chapter out of Tara Schuster’s book, Buy Yourself the Fucking Lilies.  She has a chapter in her book that says exactly what I needed so that I could propel myself forward, ‘I Tell Myself I Am Grateful for Everything, Even When I Am Grateful for Nothing: Fake Gratitude Until You Feel Gratitude’. This chapter became the catalyst for me to get out of my own way. It took nearly a month, of me waking up and journaling what I was grateful for in my morning pages before I experienced the shift. At first it was hard; I wasn’t feeling grateful about much. Yet rarely did I have to fake it; my life is seemingly full of blessings even when I am not in a good place. Eventually I began journaling my feelings of gratitude before I went to sleep too. I think that is when my biggest shift was ignited.

With the passing time, I nested. I created new opportunities for myself to flourish differently. I put aside my writing and some of my other creative endeavors. Even my beloved journal sat largely empty for months.

In order for me to find my light again, I had to move my energy differently and that is exactly what I did. And then by coincidence on the day my great niece was born, everything shifted. My gratitude journaling began with the following words: “I am grateful for the following realizations.” And with that flowed what I now consider to be my Soul Guidelines.

  1. Focus . . .one task at a time.
  2. Choose to *Live In Power*
  3. Know that I am always on a “journey towards. . . .” (Willy Potts)
  4. Be still.
  5. Trust your knowing (Glennon Doyle)
  6. Hineini – I am here to serve

These words which flowed out of me as if they were channeled have become a catalyst for me to RISE UP and choose how to “show up at the table, again and again and again”.

Hineini, I am here,

Onward with love, light, and 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.

Photo Courtesy: MyIntent.org

“From a certain point onward there is no longer
any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.”
~Franz Kafka’s The Trial

New Zealand Sunrise – Photo courtesy Jai-Jagdeesh

From last Saturday until today, I have had so many f*cking growth opportunities to show how far I’ve come over the last several years. The truth is that I am feeling pretty jazzed by where I am. At a different point in time, any one of these things may have trashed my spirit for a while, but in truth each of the “opportunities” impacted me greatly but didn’t cause an internal tsunami. To quote Leo Babauta, I am showing some serious “mental badassery”. www.zenhabits.net/narrative

Life happens. Cars break down. Politics rumble. Friendships end. Loved ones show up. Learning occurs. Moments matter. People get sick. Gifts keep coming. Sadness does too. My holy work is to keep moving forward, remain clear, and cognizant of the many truths in each situation. I get to choose how I want to navigate – always.

Childhood didn’t teach me how “normal” people cope with a week full of clusterfucks, but that’s ok because life has given me a chance to learn. And this week truly ended up being full of some enormous gifts. Nothing that happened to me was great, yet everything led to me feeling healthier and more grounded. Here are just three of the many examples. This week really was full of learning opportunities.

  1. Last Saturday, Aryeh and I were getting ready to drop my car to the mechanics for my emissions test and a hefty car repair that would have cost about $1200 – $1300 when my entire dashboard lit up to tell me my hybrid system was malfunctioning. So we went to the garage and left the car there. I was pretty certain that would be my last ride in my 2013 Prius and it was. Between the initial car repair and the hybrid system going out, it would have cost me about $4,300 with the possibility of about another $3000 repair. I owed just a little bit of money on my car which I was able to sell and pay it off. Here is the thing. . . it is just a car and I feel so blessed to have dodged a huge bullet. AND what better time to be a one car family; I am working from home as COVID continues to wreak havoc on our nation. With each step, I realized that this was not a huge deal. . . .not at all. Will it be easy? . . .no. Will I stress about what car to buy? . . . sure. But this is not a serious problem. In fact, I am so f*cking proud of myself for choosing to navigate instead of getting lost in the anxiety. Moving forward . . .
  2. After all was said and done with the car, Aryeh and I decided to order food last night from a place that has ALWAYS done well by us. Well, that night was not one of those always nights. As soon as dinner was over, we knew we were in trouble. We had gotten contaminated by gluten; this is not good news for two people with celiac disease. Nearly a week has passed and we are still struggling with GI distress, exhaustion, and joint achiness. Yay!! But again, this is not a huge deal. We know what’s happening. And even with my achy body, I have been able to walk about 6.5 miles every day this week. My body is strong and so is Aryeh’s. A mantra was born out of the gluten ruble, “I am the keeper of my body.” This means I need to keep moving and make better lifestyle choices. I have seen myself drink more water, move more daily, and make time for self-care. I have work to do if I want to keep being healthy. Moving forward . . .
  3. I needed to end a friendship with a soul friend because of how she attempted to negotiate a situation with an organization that we both loved. I am grateful to having my eyes opened even if I am still sad; I am also happy to embrace more beauty in my life with less manipulation. I almost went down a rabbit hole of trying to defend myself until I realized that she had woven a story to make herself feel like a champion for a good cause. The problem is she bullied me forgetting that good friends talk to one another. I was caught off-guard because I didn’t know that the person had created a timetable and a plan. And the best part of this debacle that she created was that I probably would have agreed with her conclusion. Ironic. And now I don’t have to wonder who my true friends are. I love that. Moving forward . . .

This week helped me to realize that how we walk through life is a choice. And no, I don’t believe everything can be seen as a gift. Although I do believe you may find some beautiful gifts even after some really tough times. I know I have. Moving forward . . .

Onward with love, light, and 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.

Running to the Quiet

Thriver Cards by Chava

My world is a little too frenetic and it is time for me to quiet it down.

Over the last month, I have been drawn to the wisdom of those who preach the power of going inward so that they can better navigate the life they seek. Through really listening to both written and spoken words of poetry, books, and podcasts, I have come to realize that in order to move forward and to where I want to go, I have to go inward and nurture my spirit. For the most part, I have not connected to this part of myself in many months.

With just over 40 days until my 55th birthday, I have decided to run to the quiet. While work will remain a focus during my work hours, I am looking forward to “listening to the quiet” as my father used to say when he lovingly cupped his hands over my ears as a little girl.

It’s time for me to give myself the space to do the things that nurture my spirit so that I can hear what my heart is calling me to do in all areas of my life. Two of the biggest ways that I will try to reconnect with are writing and chanting.

Writing
The good news is that I have been writing daily. Each and every day, I find 30 – 60 minutes in which I get lost in journaling. But that is not enough for me. I have two books that I have actively been working on for quite some time – one as a writer and the other as an artist. Somehow, I have lost the rhythm to move forward with my books and it is time for me to refocus my efforts there. With all of life’s distractions, I have not been thriving as a writer. Ironically, my memoir is currently being called Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. Looks like it’s time to find my rhythm again. I’m on it!

Chanting
Recently two beautiful chants have invited me to breathe a little deeper and to become more grounded. How is it that I stopped doing the very things that bring me the most tranquility? Each time, I chant or simply sit on my zafu, meditation cushion, I find center. So why aren’t I doing these things more frequently?

Chanting is my soul work; it empowers me to get in touch with my inner voice, to listen to what others are saying and not saying, and to sit with the rawness of who I am. Through chanting, I learn to trust where I am, where I am going, and who I want to join me in this journey. Somehow the practice of chanting nudges me to open the doors that are good for my soul and close the doors that are no longer serving me.

The two chants that are calling to me right now are:

  1. ALL LOVE: KULAM AHUVIM:
    https://www.rabbishefagold.com/all-love-kulam-ahuvim/

    I love how this chant by Rabbi Shefa Gold’s reminds all of us to “. . . rise above the illusions of limited perspective and enter the truth of our love, clarity and power.”
  2. OM MAKOM SHALOM:
    https://ravshoshana.com/chanting-prayer/om-makom-shalom/

    In this beautiful chant by Rav Shoshana Mitrani-Knapp, I am being guided towards the “deep grounding and a connection to a universal Oneness” that I crave and have not been able to access for quite some time.

Both of these chants came to me through my beautiful mentor Anael Atara Joblin. I am grateful she shepherded me back to where I belong! When I am chanting, I feel more at one with the universe, so why haven’t I been doing what calls to me? Time to begin again!

Releasing the Energy Vampires

We all have what I have now come to see as energy vampires. People or activities that distract us from doing what calls to us. With this in mind, it is time for me to limit all distractions and to make time to do more of what jazzes my soul. I actually appreciate how Facebook, along with all social media, and my cell phone keep me informed. The constant barrage of information allows me to find out how people are doing, who has lost someone they love, what is going on in the world, and what I can do to make our world a better place. It also gets in the way of me emerging in healthy ways and actively engaging in life.

One More Thought
A couple of days ago, I listened to my favorite podcast, “The Chase Jarvis Live Show”. In this episode, Chase interviewed Paul Ninson, an extraordinary documentary photographer and aspiring cinematographer, born in Ghana. The title of the podcast was ‘When Preparation Meets Opportunity’. In this podcast, Paul said something that has inspired me to go inward and focus on what is most important to me. He said, “I know where I come from. I know who I am. I know where I am going.”

The truth is I tend to think of myself as having similar clarity to Paul. At the same time, I have not been living as someone who is clear minded and actively embracing their goals. My many distractions have caused me to lose focus. Unless I return to the work of moving forward and reaching for my goals, I will not end up as planned.

Running to the quiet will galvanize me to be more intentional in every area of my life. I want to thrive as a mother, a friend, a human being, a creative, and an activist. This means that for now and probably for a a long time, I need to go inward and really listen to what is calling to me. And then I need to act accordingly.

I am running to the quiet so that I can live in alignment with my spirit.

Hineini, I am here.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

Thriver Cards by Chava

pathway-after-monsoon-john-judin-june-2016If you can see your path laid out in front of YOU 
step by step you know it’s not your path.
Your own path you make with every step you take.
That’s why it’s your path.”
~Joseph Campbell

 

The good news is that while I may not know exactly what turns will get me to where I am going. I do know that thriving can only when I nourish my soul. Only through breathing deeply, moving my body, and being creative can I fuel my essence into being. It takes intense work, but I am up for the holy work that comes with choosing life.

 

I am not sure if I saw myself as a creative before the last few years. In fact, I think I may have seen myself as a wallflower or perhaps even a little insignificant. I surrounded myself with people that were dreamers, artists, musicians, activists, and so much more. While I was a loving soul, a passionate writer, and a giving human being. I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t smart enough, creative enough, or beautiful enough.

 

Looking back, I know that was a bullshit story I told myself.

 

Today I feel much differently. I have found my rhythm. I trust that I am enough. I have a way of staying grounded while soaring. At the same time, my open heart invites others to do the same. I am inspired by humanity even as I struggle with parts of what I see. I show up, I strive to do the next right thing, and I take time to live authentically as a mother, a friend, an activist, and a creative. I embrace the magical world and allow it to guide me with each step.

 

My happy place is anywhere that I am being creative. Over the years I have moved from being ‘just” a writer to becoming a creative in so many different areas of my life. I love to watercolor and to weave, but I also love to play with sand or food or really anything. As an educator, I seek ways to inspire kids and their teachers to simply play. My hope is to empower people to leave their boundaries behind and allow themselves to explore new horizons. None of us need to stay in a box that was often chosen for us.

 

There is nothing self indulgent about navigating the world as I do with an open heart, mind, and spirit. In fact, my entire being has not only the right, but the responsibility to show up fully in my own life. And what I know today is that I can only do this if I listen to my inner voice that so clearly nudges me (ok shoves me) towards creative endeavors.

 

Over the last couple of years, I have been blown away by the many messages that keep showing up while reminding me that I need to do the same thing in every area of my life.

 

  • Working with an incredible rabbi and community that invite me to show authentically.
  • Elle Luna’s book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion and amazing podcasts inspired by her book.
  • SARK’s teachings – Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy’s mentoring focuses on giving her students tools so they could begin Making More Alive Choices.
  • The following creatives continue to fuel my work including Chase Jarvis, Glennon Doyle, Indie Arie, Jennifer Pastiloff, Brené Brown, Seth Godin, Elizabeth Gilbert, P!NK, Mary Oliver (z’l), Indigo Girls, Katy Perry, Neshama Carlebach, Shoshana Jedwab, Tracy Chapman, too many scholars to mention, and so many more
  • Watching how “This Is Me” unfolded and ultimately touched so many lives in “The Greatest Showman”. As I viewed this scene, tears rolled down my face as I processed my own journey towards finding inner courage and bravery to stand strong as the woman I am. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLFEvHWD_NE

 

As someone who has been battered and bruised, I literally lost it when I first heard Keala Settle sing:

 

I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

 

As a THRIVER, no one would want to see the darkness that I have seen. I am blessed because today I have emerged into the beautiful and strong woman than I am. My writing and my art have become my roar. And I would have never been able to do it without guides and beloveds that have come with me on my journey.

 

Life continually calls to me in new ways. With each word I hear or read, I am carried to somewhere I have never been. I am learning, stretching, and evolving on a daily basis. I am literally moving in directions that I have never seen before.

My path is not obvious. I seem to have to do a lot of weeding along the way. And yet, I am finding the path that was meant just for me.

 

Hineini, Here I am! I am alive; I am thriving; and I have made it to this time!

 

Onward with love, light, & peace,
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.

We make our habits, and then our habits make us.”
John Dryden

Life is a journey that can totally deplete us, but can also empower us to stretch and grow. Personally, I do a much better job once I realize that living consciously makes a profound difference with every step I take. Sure, I wish my heart never shattered and my body didn’t hurt, but sometimes they do. Damn.

There are periods of time when I feel broken and ill equipped to navigate life, but once I realize my role in the hard stuff, I can plunge right into action. That starts by taking a deep breath and beginning to put the puzzle pieces of my life where they need to go. While at first it may be painfully challenging, it is also a non-negotiable . . . although there are moments when I forget this reality. The truth is each of us need to go through our pain; I am no different.

Healing is holy work.

The beautiful news is that once I open up to the possibilities, I can choose how to proceed. My deep sadness, my physical achiness, or my overall intensity doesn’t have to take over my spirit – at least not on a permanent basis.

And yet, how often do I go to unhealthy defaults. For me, it may mean eating the wrong foods or not doing what I need to be healthy. Over the years, I have often forgotten that my habits can either keep me healthy or burden me. Without question, I believe that everything I do matters.

With that in mind, I want to share a few of the ways, I cope with some of the deep sadness that I have been feeling since March. In March, our country lost our norm with COVID and my heart broke when a beloved relationship needed to dramatically shift. Both left me treading water and crying big ugly tears. And on a bad day, both still do.

Pain has a way of causing watershed moments and at the same time, water has a way of healing.

As much as I cry big, ugly tears and tread water to stay afloat, I also run to the water when my spirit needs calming. And when my body aches, it is water that seems to ‘oil’ my body so that it better functions.

Running to the water – always

Water is one of the hugest gifts in my healing toolbox.

  1. I ride waves daily and sometimes I simply tread water. I do what I need to do.
  2. I drink a ton of cold water and sometimes warm water to help me stay hydrated, clear headed, and physically malleable.
  3. Whenever I can, I run to the water (ocean, bay, river, or lake) and just stare out to the soothing waters – sometimes for hours.

AND there are a few morning practices that guide me daily or nearly daily:

  1. As soon as I open my eyes in the morning, I start moving. For the most part I rarely use an alarm clock, instead I wake up when the universe shakes me up and then I start functioning.
  2. I always make my bed as soon as I can (or as soon as my puppy, Magic, allows me). This habit allows me to always be successful at the start of my day.
  3. Do The 5 Second Journal – This journal invites me to reflect where I am and to plan my day too. For the most part, Mel Robbins’ journal opens my spirit while easing me into my day.
  4. Stretch my very stiff body. Ever since I had back surgery a few years ago, I can’t seem to leave the stiffness behind, but I am grateful that my stretching routine helps me feel to keep moving.
  5. On a good day, I walk 3-5 miles. I love when the cooler weather conspires to have me meet what has become a daily goal.
  6. Thanks to Chase Jarvis, creativity has become a daily part of my life. Since hearing his amazing podcasts, The Chase Jarvis Live Show, I have found a creative rhythm that propels me forward, inspires happiness, and keeps me grounded.

Holy living is possible because I have learned to honor my journey to healing and ultimately to life. Yes it’s hard at times, but I always get to choose how I will negotiate moving forward.

Holy living is a gift. AND water has a way of making nearly everything better.

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 book of Exodus starts by remembering Jacob and his sons by name.

Think about this: Our stories don’t start with us. They start with those who came before us, and those who came before our parents, and those who came before our grandparents, and so on. Some of us were blessed with siblings or cousins. Most of us went to school where teachers and classmates taught us a thing or two. Not all the lessons were always welcomed, but they were all part of the stories that made us into who we are. Stories that helped shape the people we became. Each of those people were influenced by the people who surrounded them and those people who came before them.

There is interconnectedness between all life forces even when we don’t understand the entire picture. Which, quite honestly, is most of the time.

The same can be said of the new Pharaoh or king of Egypt. He didn’t know the story of how Joseph, a Hebrew, had saved the day and how most of the kingdom of Egypt would have starved to death if it had not been for Joseph. All the Pharaoh saw is that the Jews were a very fertile people, and, if he didn’t do something to stop them, they would overpower Egypt. Pharaoh had no interest in losing control of what was his.

With this in mind, Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites and forced them to live a harsh and brutal reality. He even tried to completely break their spirits by having the midwives kill all male children, but that didn’t happen. These midwives told Pharaoh that the Hebrew women were not like Egyptian women, they were vigorous and, by the time we get to them, the Hebrew women had given birth by themselves.  

I love this story. This is a story of two woman doing their best to do civil disobedience in order to save lives. Wow. As the story goes, they feared God so much more than Pharaoh. Due to their refusal to murder the male children, Moses was able to survive and ultimately be raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter.

~ ~ ~

Moses is truly one of my favorite personalities in the Torah. Since he was raised as a prince of Egypt, Moses could have lived a cushy life in the Pharaoh’s palace. But instead, he follows the lead of the midwives who probably had a hand in his birth, and he defies Pharaoh’s orders and seemingly the natural order of things. When Moses sees an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew, he kills the Egyptian in a fit of anger and flees to Midian.

Once in Midian, he becomes a shepherd, a husband, and a father. One day as Moses is herding his sheep, he notices a burning bush. The thing is the bush is on fire, but the fire is not consuming the bush. What do you think the chances of that are?

With God’s help and direction, Moses realizes that he’s on holy ground and has work to do. Like many people who are thrust into leadership, Moses is not sure how he can be of service. With some convincing and cajoling, he moves forward to lead the Hebrews out of slavery and through the desert. This holy responsibility begins with that burning bush.

~ ~ ~

I know that I am not alone when I say Wednesday was a terrible day for our country. Having the United States Capitol come under attack was scary; I literally felt my heart breaking. As someone who has met with my representatives and senators in the Capitol many times since my early 20s, I was stunned.

From the moment I caught a glimpse of ‘Breaking News’, I didn’t know what to do with myself; I couldn’t work; I couldn’t think; I couldn’t move. I love Washington, D.C.; it is the home of my heart. Almost immediately, the images of the Oklahoma City bombing of a Federal Building in 1995 came to mind. I wondered if the loss of life would be similar to that attack.  Fortunately, it wasn’t.

Most of us were anticipating that Wednesday would be a stressful day on Capitol Hill.  We were wondering how the day would unfold. I think it is safe to say that it didn’t go as expected. And yet, by Wednesday evening at 8 PM EST, the Congress was back to work. Early Thursday morning, Vice President Pence declared Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election after Congress finished counting the electoral votes.

At our Thursday Lunch & Learn, reflecting on both the weekly Torah portion and the past day’s events, I couldn’t help but see this week’s Torah Portion unfolding in front of us. We know that fire can both lead to destruction and to rebirth. The Capitol has become a modern-day burning bush. There was a metaphoric fire that absolutely raged all afternoon and through the early evening, but nothing was destroyed. The process that needed to take place that day took place. A few hours later then expected to be sure, but it took place. AND, there was a magic in the air. Our beautiful Capitol was still standing, and our lawmakers were inside and back to work.

Many of the five-minute speeches I heard were being made by passionate leaders trying to figure out how to build bridges instead of destroying them. To be honest, many of those who spoke are people that I don’t normally agree with, but I listened. I heard some of them speak from their heart with an understanding that it is time to take a step forward and to accept that insurrection does not work but building bridges does.

Democrats and Republicans spoke of the horror that happened that day and of coming together to do the holy work of running our country.

Reflecting deeply, it became profoundly clear that the United States Capitol with all of the people, the building, and even our spirits are all standing and even more so – thriving.  Yes, the metaphoric fire reigned earlier in the afternoon, but everything would be alright.

Another sign that a positive shift was underway came on Wednesday when Georgia, in their runoff elections, elected two firsts to the US Senate. Reverend Raphael Warnock became the first black senator in Georgia’s history and Jon Ossoff became the first Jewish member of the Senate from Georgia. Change is now on the horizon in Washington DC and beyond.

~ ~ ~

Moses stood in front of that burning bush and asked God what he should tell the people when they inquired as to God’s name. God responded that you, Moses, should tell the Israelites, Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh which can be translated or interpreted in many ways including:

  • I am becoming what I am becoming or
  • I am that I am or
  • I am who I am or
  • I will be what I will be

A name is powerful; it can ultimately tell your story. What were we, as a nation, as individuals, yesterday, a week ago, a month ago, a year ago, even a decade ago? What will we be, as a nation, as individuals, tonight, tomorrow, and beyond?  Everything we do matters, and, if we can do the right thing, we can walk through our world, navigate hard times, and still keep standing — like the burning bush. Like the Capitol.

Wherever we are can be sacred ground, if we make it so.

Shabbat Shalom!

How is the US Capitol like the Burning Bush?