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Archive for April, 2012

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When people die in Judaism, we often say, “may the dead person’s memory be a blessing for good.”  Until tonight, I have never realized that it could make sense to say that saying for someone that causes so much pain to her only daughter.  I could never say that saying myself or acknowledge it when another human being said it directly to me in reference to my mother.  Today my entire opinion of the saying has changed.

Twenty-two years ago, Marilyn Bloomberg, my mother, took her very last breath; her life was full of darkness and pain (she felt it and perpetrated it) yet tonight I realized that I could say that my mother’s memory was a blessing for good. My brother and I are both alive and thriving-yay!!!!

My mother was full of darkness; she caused me substantial pain with her physical and mental cruelty.  The wounds cut deep and yet I am a healthy and happy woman raising two amazing sons.  I learned so much from my experience of being Marilyn’s daughter.  I learned to be the beautiful soul that I am.  Two years ago, I shared what I learned from my mother in my blog http://wp.me/pthnB-2o.  Feel free to read.

I’d like to say that I am an easy-going soul that is successful in most every way.  Instead I can say that I am fairly normal.  I am creative, I am intense, and I march to my own drummer.  All of that leads to a few challenges within my life.  Yet I can say with a full heart, that I am who I am because I was my mother’s daughter.  I am feeling blessed.

Tonight I lit a flaming red candle in honor of my mother’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of her death.  I remember her.  Lighting a candle that is less than traditional is a way of honoring her memory and acknowledging reality.  The traditional candle could never adequately represent where I stand in Judaism or with my mother’s memory.  But today I am smiling because my mother has two fantastic children and seven precious grandchildren–I’d say that Marilyn’s legacy is worth noting for good.

May my mother’s memory be a blessing for good. . . .

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 ‘Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.’ ~Thich Nhat Hahn

Lately, I have been considering what I want in my bucket list.  No worries, I have no plans to go anywhere other than to live life fully, but I am considering how do I really want to fill my life.  What do I want to have in my life?  What do I want to do with my life? Who fuels my soul? Who makes my life more meaningful and is worth making the time for?  Living fully means making some very conscious decisions about your life.  About 16 years ago, I worked for a education director in a day school who used to make me begin every lesson plan with “begin with the end in mind.”  That lesson has followed me every where I went since I first heard him use Stephen Covey’s teaching a springboard for my own classroom teaching.

Creating that which I want jazzes me.  I, quite literally, love life and love engaging in it.  There is so much that makes me smile; there is so much that I want wrap my hands and heart around.  The goal is finding the core elements that will allow me to soar as a human being while following my dreams and being reasonable too.

Action needs to be about thriving as the person I am.  It is so easy to fade into routine, to settle for the norm, or to continue on the road that has been part of your life for what seems like forever.  In truth, I have found that settling is no longer an option.  Life needs to be lived to it’s fullest.  The bottom-line of life is that you don’t know when life will be taken from you so living with integrity by honoring your soul with your actions is the only way to go.

After a short hiatus of actively engaging in life, I am feeling empowered to embrace life again.  I am part of the living and all that I do needs to be for the purpose of honoring my soul and actively engaging in life.  My life needs to be surrounded with many creative pursuits including writing, painting, chanting, drumming, and movement; it also needs to incorporate activism for that which I believe in modern day slavery, Israel politics, environmental issues, Darfur, among other things.

Time to follow my passions and to remember from Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark that you “can’t start a fire without a spark’.

Time to ignite the many sparks inside and to create meaningful fires too. The bucket list is a tool that helps me see where I want to go and institute a plan of how to get there.

Interested in seeing parts of bucket list posted, keep your eyes open. 🙂

With light and blessings,

Chava

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“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” 

Thomas Merton

Lessons come when you least expect.

Over the past couple of months I have experienced one of the lowest periods of time in my life.  Functioning was a challenge and breathing deeply was something I couldn’t do.  Fortunately, I started to emerge from the darkness shortly before Passover.  I began to realize that I could thrive again and that regardless of what I was facing, I would be OK.

Ironically today was one of the first days I woke up with a smile on my face again.  Over the past couple of weeks, I had started chanting again and finding the light inside of me as I believed in the light of the universe around me.  I am absolutely a work in progress. 🙂  In fact, I had been chanting “Shining” http://www.rabbishefagold.com/Shining.html for a good 30 minutes while I was driving until I got on the back roads of my son’s school and then I had gone into the silence in anticipation of the wonderful chattering that happens when I first see my son after school.

Chanting ‘Shining’ helped me remember that there is a light in me and that there is also a light that surrounds upon me too.  My teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold, interprets this verse as follows:

  Arise and shine for your light has come, and the Glory of God is shining upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1)

But the silence didn’t last long, as soon as I hit the country road, I felt intense fear like I have never before faced.  Approximately, ten minutes from my son’s school a car started following me.  The pick up truck swerved all over the road, slowed down, sped up and then would stop suddenly near my bumper.  I was being threatened in a way I have never experienced.  I am quietly laughing at the last sentence because I have faced extreme violence in my life, but this was different.

As the car was following me, I found myself terrified, but also doing some incredible spiritual work.  I was breathing in light and sending it out into the world and I was chanting.  The chant that came to me was ‘Sowing Our Tears’.  Those who sow in tears will reap in joyous song. (Psalm 126:5) The words and the breathing filled me as I managed to keep moving.  At some point, I was able to call 911, but the call was dropped because of the lack of a signal on my cell phone.  The bottom-line is that I emerged from experience.

Since coming home, I have found myself in a quiet space filled with gratitude; I have also been shaking inside and trying to breathe in the light.

I am so grateful to the universe that nothing happened to me; I am also relieved that my day began with a smile and that I am actively emerging from darkness.

Breathing deeply and chanting helped surround me with light; I truly do not know what would have happened if I didn’t have these tools and the beautiful practice of chanting.

May we all be blessed to find the light within ourselves and the chant that speaks for us when we need it.

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Through constant reflection I navigate the world around me.  At any moment any one of my philosophical beliefs are up for consideration and reconsideration.  That’s me – always reflecting. A few years ago, one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, spoke about how sometimes our stories stop serving us.  If that happens she inferred that perhaps it is time to re-consider what the role of our stories plays in our lives and whether they are worthy re-telling or even thinking about at all.  With a smile on my face, I have decided that sometimes it is not only our stories that need to be re-defined, so do the ideas that we embrace.   Without a doubt, darkness is a core concept/idea worthy of exploring and rethinking.

The word darkness has always had a challenging connotation to nearly everyone I know.  As a child, a dark bedroom was scary; stormy nights provided great backdrops for our own personal horror story.  As adults, darkness is the metaphor for depression and/or loneliness.  Darkness has generally been feared; light has been celebrated.  Until now. . . .

The power of darkness can permeate life in a myriad of positive ways. In the last few days, darkness has grown in stature and is now one of the most potent words to explain how creativity can be embraced.  There is enormous power in realizing that life begins in darkness and only through kneading the darkness, can we experience that darkness is in fact a condition that enables sparks to fly.

On an NPR interview with Sir Paul McCartney, he was asked how one of his recent songs evolved.  His response took my breath away.  Literally.  He spoke about each and every one of his pieces begins as “a black hole”.    He went on to explain that each and everything we create begins in darkness. The more we nurture our creation the more the darkness is left behind.  Darkness is where creation begins.   Instead of referring to a challenging reality, deep sadness, etc, the dark hole or darkness has become a word that manifests transformation and creation.

Supporting this new realization is two phenomenal sayings/teachings.

Creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness.”

~Julia Cameron

and

A beautiful chant by Rabbi Shefa Gold can be found at http://www.rabbishefagold.com/Seeds.html

Or zarua laTzadik, u’l’yishray lev simcha (Psalm 97)

Interpretation by Rabbi Shefa Gold:

Plant the seeds of Joy and Light; Tend them carefully day and night,

In this soil so dark and deep, I plant the dreams that Love will reap.

Even if we sometimes look at darkness as being sad or as part of struggling with life, it is also helpful to see darkness as a tool for working through challenges and towards healing.  Soaring is possible as long as you can keep perspective and strive to find solutions regardless of what is being faced.

Remembering that darkness encompasses all forms of creativity and birth leads it to be an illuminating word.

May each of us find a spark of light to help us navigate through the journeys that often begin with darkness.

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