Archive for June, 2012

Traveling through Texas has been easier than each of us thought it would be.  Even through some of the boredom, we have found our time to be both enlightening and fun.  We are gaining insights and laughing as we explore and enjoy each others company too.  We are also exhausted to the core from traveling and would love to curl up into three balls today instead of hitting the road, but we need to keep moving, so we will. 🙂

The Texas terrain is absolutely majestic in places, yet we have also struggled through some of the obvious industrialization we have seen.  Fortunately the beauty is what sticks in our memories now.  Aryeh is surprised that he likes the landscape, but he still misses the green.

With each mile closer to Tucson, we are anxious about new beginnings.  Will I be able to serve Temple Emanu-El with the deep love that I feel for all Jewish communities? Will we all make friends and find our places in Tucson? Will we have what we need? We don’t know the answers, but we are hopeful and a little anxious too.

With the final leg of our trip expected to begin in a little less than hour. Here are some of the insights from yesterday’s excursion.

  1. On a road trip, Aryeh thinks it is OK to be a terrible person.  At one point, we bought some gas at an Exxon station (sigh) because the only other station was a Chevron (sigh).  We feel like we might have picked the lesser of two evils.  Still Aryeh and Dovi would not let me purchase a chocolate bar that was not fairtrade.  So, I guess we couldn’t be completely terrible poeple.
  2. We are absolutely out of element driving down the Texas highway in our Mazda 5.  A large pick up truck would be the only ‘real’ way to socially be comfortable as we drive on the Texas roads.  We might feel like we fit in a little more if we were driving a RV or an 18 wheeler :), although maybe not.
  3. Baird is a well kept dive with nothing but friendly people and tons of antique shops that were mostly closed.  We found ourselves wanting to remove an open flag when we parked at a cute store and it was closed.  We didn’t do it! 😉
  4. Also in Baird, we found an automotive parts store that also happened to be the town’s pawn shop, hardware store, cast iron cookware, gold and silver buyer, and finally real estate office.
  5. Aryeh’s loud burp startled Dovi and I; his burp was nearly worthy of causing an accident.
  6. In Texas, we found a lot more RV stores and less adult novelty stores being advertised along the roads.  We are wondering what that might mean.
  7. Ann Patchett obviously did not spend much time in Baltimore as the ending of the book Run demonstrates.
  8. Aryeh and Dovi were perplexed by waiting for four minutes behind a man who was buying expensive water and trying to choose which chewing tobacco to purchase.  Sounds a lot like people who purchase a chocolate bar to go with their diet soda.
  9. Rest stops are always worthy of rating.  Some are clean, some are artistic, and some are really gross.
  10. Hunger made us notice some things from fields growing food to Noodle Dome Road.
  11. We noted in our notes from yesterday that the signs that say Drive Friendly made us snicker, but as we are wrapping up our time in Texas, we want to acknowledge that Texans do, in fact, drive friendly even at a brisk 90 mph.   (The speed limit was 80 mph – wow.)
  12. Time changes are part of traveling.

Looking forward to seeing what today will bring.

With light and blessings,

Chava (and the boys)


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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

For most of the day, Aryeh, Dovi and I have been traveling through Texas.  We started off  in North Little Rock, Arkansas on Interstate 30 and then crossed over the state line in Texas and stopped tonight in Weatherford, Texas.  Today’s trek was uneventful and a bit boring, but all was fine too!!!  We drove all day long and while google map said it should have taken just over 6 hours, that isn’t the truth, it took a lot longer.

While we are finding the trip to Tucson to be a little grueling, we are doing well.  Without the time to explore and without the stamina I had in my 20s, the trek is taking a little longer than we expected and in truth we haven’t really enjoyed the terrain we have passed on the road.   At the same time, we enjoy each other and we have really enjoyed talking to each other, listening to books and music on CD, and stopping to take short walks.

The beauty of our time together is that we have really been getting along.  Moments come and go and yet we start our days and end our days with smiles on our faces.  My hope is that we find something fun to explore tomorrow, but if not we are looking forward to landing in Arizona in just a couple of days!  I keep wondering when we will stop having something to talk about; I don’t think that will ever happen.

As we drive, we often think about Michael and hope he is doing well in Florida.  The boys have a great idea for a gift for their abba, but I can’t share the idea here.  😉  Will share after the idea comes to fruition.

Aryeh is enjoying keeping a log of our travels and Dovi reads constantly.  As for me, I drive and drive and drive. . . . . While we aren’t loving the drive, we are rarely bored!  We are looking for simple ideas of where to stop on our way into Arizona, any ideas?   Both boys seem to enjoy their roles in the trek.

Now for some realization or insights that we have from today’s trek:

  1. There are more adult novelty stores than churches, gun stores or antique shops.
  2. New favorite Dovi-ism to get out of work – Instead of just folding paper to put in an envelope, Dovi asked, how do you fold paper.
  3. Hope was following us to the next two exists; Emmet (truth) followed us too.  (Note: Hope and Emmet were the names of two towns that we passed.)
  4. We accidentally drove back into Arkansas after we had left.  We really do like driving in circles.
  5. Drive Friendly seems to be the Texas’ driving motto.  Even with the printed words on the signs, we are wondering how this is possible with a speed limit of 70 MPH on both rural roads and rocky roads.
  6. Texas is full of acknowledging the different leaders from President George Bush (although we aren’t sure which one) and Cesar Chavez too.  We find ourselves wondering how both can be acknowledged on the same interstate.
  7. We are missing our loved ones and wondering how we will maintain the beautiful connections we have been blessed with during our lives.  We are hoping everyone comes to visit soon!!!

May the journey continue to be mostly easy.  May we find new opportunities that give us moments to pause.  May we find peace within each interaction we have not only with each other, but with those we meet.  May we continue to grow with each mile.

Thanks for taking the time to see how we are doing.

With love and light,

Chava and the boys (Aryeh and Dovi)

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Day 3 – June 24, 2012

“If you want to enjoy the rainbow, be prepared to endure the storm.”  ~Wendel Wiersbe


Day 3 included some fun, beautiful skies, and one hell of car trip through Arkansas.  By the time we get through this trip, I don’t believe we will remember our awesome time at the Rock and Soul Museum in Memphis, but the 3 + hours it took for us to get about approximately 3 miles was rough. Literally one mile per hour sucks!  Once we made it through the grumps, we actually laughed a lot.  Why stay grumpy when there is no choice.  Besides, we really do feel grateful knowing that we are OK and just a little inconvenienced.

Each day of our trek, we are keeping a journal with notes of what stands out.  Yesterday’s realizations include:

  1. When people who prepare/serve our food our happier, the food tastes better than when they are not.  This is obvious even for simple Subway Salads.
  2. We have had two hotel rooms over two days that were #212, does that mean I should have been born on that day instead of 2/13.  🙂 What do you think that could mean?
  3. Books on CD make any trip easier.  Aryeh and I are really enjoying Run by Ann Patchett.  Dovi is continuing to read; yesterday he read one book.  🙂
  4. Arkansas sucks.  Two reasons.  One, to quote Aryeh, “The Arkansas Rest Stop is like a prison made for midgets with its unkempt tile and cement room and squared off stainless steel appliances all kept uncomfortably low to the ground.”  Chava’s response is at least some folks will find this comfortable.  Two, the interstate is a mess because the state stopped funding work way before the work was complete.  (Note: An accident plus one lane interstate traffic is messy business.)
  5. Sunsets and newish moons are always worthy of shechayanu prayer, a moment of thanking the universe for the moment in time.
  6. Aryeh has missed not finding antique shops and Ruby Tuesdays along the way.  Dovi couldn’t a care a less.  He, however, is always on the lookout for ice cream.

So, the time has come for us to travel again.  And we all agree, Arkansas should never be visited again.  The good news is that I have one friend who is awesome from here, so perhaps this was just a problem visit!

With love, light, and blessings. . . .our trek to Tucson continues.

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Day 2 – June 23, 2012

“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”  ~Ursula K. Le Guin

Heading to the Tucson is synonymous (for Aryeh) to heading to the f*cking desert.  With that in mind, my friend Laurie Siegel posted on Facebook, “You’re Jews. You’re going to the desert. It’s a a natural thing. Maybe you’ll find manna there…..”  So with that in mind, we are now in search of more gifts and knives; each step of this trek and becoming connected to Temple Emanu-El has been an example of basheret (it is meant to be).  I love how Laurie gave us yet another new insight for this journey!

Last night is a bit of a blur because we got into the room and I crashed hard!!!  Our day ended up both fairly good and fairly grueling too; it isn’t easy to keep driving for days on end without really chilling.  My hope is today will be an easy day with a little fun in Memphis and an early night.  We aren’t going to make much ground and I need to be good with that!

What’s fascinating about this trek is that we are meeting kind people wherever we go.  Everyone has a story that they want to share; fortunately our family likes to listen.  After one such conversation yesterday afternoon, the waitress gave me her email address and Aryeh asked me why I don’t become a professional coach/therapist.  My response was simple, I love people; I love listening and giving people new tools for how they can engage in life.

One reality that has become obvious on this trek is that many people are born in an area, stay in that area, and never have or make the opportunity to leave what they know.  Of course, I know this on one level, but that has never been my world.  Even in my own family, there are those who still live within miles of where they grew up in a similar economic setting too.

Aryeh and Dovi have been fabulous troopers.  We have been laughing together and enjoying each other’s company.  We have had to navigate each others rhythms and moods with grace.  Mostly we have done a great job with brief moments of attitude in the mix.  Yesterday, we found a dive of a location with a fabulous knife shop and later we found Dovi a bookstore and an ice cream shop too!  Dovi has read 3 books in two days and needed a new fantasy series, so we purchased three books of a new series.  Wondering how long it will take for him finish these books.

Each day of our trek, we are keeping a journal with notes of what stands out.  Yesterday’s realizations include:

  1. Each of us love meeting strangers who quickly become friends.  At Cracker Barrel, two waitresses and the manager kept hanging out at our table while we spoke of everything from the area, to sick parents, health challenges, unwed motherhood, and life.
  2. Chava’s love of finding cool names for roads continues.  Yesterday’s finds include Lovers Lane, Rural Retreat, and Butter Milk Road.  Each name has a story I am sure.
  3. Dovi can be relentless when it comes to finding ice cream or a bookstore.  Wow….who knew he was so tenacious about getting what he wants. 😉
  4.  Aryeh may plan to get one new knife on a road trip, but sometimes three call his name. 🙂  Aryeh decided that knives are neither space or stuff. (Chava thinks that is wishful thinking.)
  5. Time change is  worthy of a great argument.  Dovi wanted to honor the old time while Chava had already moved forward (or should I say backward).  And Aryeh couldn’t figure out how to write the correct time in our journal.
  6. Chava remembers more country music than she thought;  either that or the words/tunes of the new music is just like the old music.
  7. We really do need to stop driving by 8 or 8:30, we were all wiped when we ended up at a retro-cheesy Motel 6 in Dickson Tennessee.

Today we head to Memphis.  We are hoping to hang out on Beale Street, The Rock and Soul Museum, and find kosher meat for Aryeh too!

All is good in the world.


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Day 1 – June 22, 2012

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” ~Lao Tzu

The boys and I are heading to Tucson.  Unbelievable.

Aryeh refers to this trek as ‘our journey to the f*cking desert. So off we go.

Today’s realizations:

  1. For Chava, Denny’s is not a place to eat.  For Dovi and Aryeh, Denny’s is not that bad.
  2. Dovi loves to read in the car.  He read nearly three books today alone!!!
  3. Cheese helps cheer up any mood! Right Aryeh?
  4. Naming your children Amber Rain and River are a good indication of how you walk in the world.
  5. Everyone can teach you something; take time to listen.
  6. Don’t drink while driving!  (Note: WATER can go down the wrong way.)
  7. When you plan to leave at a certain time, it can happen!!!
  8. Love notes on FB and email help make any journey easier!
  9. Tie dye clothing leads to several conversations with strangers!
  10. Finding gas at Valeros in Roanoke, VA for $2.99 can make any girl giddy with excitement.
  11. Dublin, VA. . . .it is no Dublin, but the folks are really awesome. Every one we have met has been really sweet!
  12. There is no shortage of things to talk about.

And with that my friends, I will go to sleep.

Shabbat Shalom to MOTs; and Blessings to all,


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Recently I honored my soul in ways I had never considered as an option before.  Taking the leap of faith was extremely scary and I was blessed with an amazing outcome.

A little more than a month ago, I resigned from a job that was damaging to my soul on a core level.  While the community I worked for was loving and fabulous; there were also some significant hurdles that challenged me and sometimes hurt me on a core level.  I had lost my voice and I had stopped soaring in a way that made me proud.  The blessing was that as I look back, I believe that I was able to manage my darkness privately and thrive for the community.

Moving forward isn’t always easy and I wasn’t quite certain how I was going to navigate this journey, but the journey unfolded beautiful with very little navigation needed.

Less than 24 hours after writing my resignation letter, I received the call from the leadership of Temple Emanu-El in Tucson, Arizona.  The timing could not have been better.  I called out and the universe responded.    Not only did the universe respond; she responded really clearly.

Somehow, all the pieces of the puzzle fell and are continuing to fall into place.

Sabino Canyon – Can’t wait to see it

The beauty is that I am hopeful that I am moving to a community that will give me wings to do what I love to do as a Jewish educator in a supportive environment too.  Rumor has it that Tucson, is a place that will nourish my soul.  May both be true.

Many have asked how my children are moving through this journey.  They are doing it with a lot of grace and sadness too.  All of us have loved living in DC, but it is time to experience something new.  I am certain we will all be back soon and the boys will be back even sooner.

Now let’s hope the universe opens up for them too.  May Tucson have Dungeons and Dragons, among other role-playing games.

Throughout this journey, I found myself singing Debbie Friedman’s  Lechi Lach.  Below is a link of not Debbie signing her song, but many of my favorite musicians singing her song.  This song is definitely helping me stay sane as pack up and head to the southwest.

With love, light, and blessings,


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Welcome back to my journey towards Seeking My Own Path to Simchah (Happiness):  My Own Personal Happiness Project

Reflections Continued:

Since posting yesterday’s blog, I found myself contemplating what happiness means.   It Pirkei Avot, Ethics of Our Fathers, it says, “Who is rich? He who is happy with what he has.” (4:1)  When I think about happiness on that level, that means that I am happy, yet when I think of happiness on my own, I think there should be a moment or more of radical joy.  Simchah for me is about that moment when you want to scream out in delight.  Yet the joy of Pirkei Avot is a lot more sustainable.

Based on Pirkei Avot, I am feeling really positive.  I am someone who finds the blessings in the present moments, the realities of life, and with those that are part of my life.  At the same time, I will always look for the moments of ecstatic joy.

Over the next 12 days I will be sharing my own personal commandments to be utilized as I seek my own path towards Simchah (Happiness).  I see the commandments as tools that have the ability to propel me towards meeting my goal and building a stronger foundation in terms of the role that simchah can play in my life.

Commandment 1: Be myself

In order to be myself, I need to know myself.  That isn’t necessarily easy, but it is a necessity.  In truth, I do know myself very well, but the next step can sometimes be a little more tricky.  Being yourself means trusting that it is ok to be yourself.

How can I make this happen?

  • trust myself
  • live according to my values
  • take time to write daily
  • honor my writing spirit

Being myself is a work in progress.  While I actively engage in being real or being myself, I also love connecting with people where they are.  I am a chameleon who can often fit wherever I am in that moment.

Recently, I had to reach inside my heart and decide how to best honor my soul.  The decision was painful, but making that decision led me to inner clarity and the ability to move forward.  Yay.

Moving any journey forward means listening to the inner voice that is meant to guide us.  Sometimes it can be an easy thing to do, but sometimes it is really hard.  For those that know me, I am often seen as being ‘crunchy granola’ in a non-granola world.  These are the values that make me who I am today.

Another way in which I can best honor myself is to make certain that I am writing on a regular basis.  Years ago I wrote:

Writing,                                                                                                                                         the song of my heart;                                                                                                                   the meaning of my mind;                                                                                                           the feeling of my soul;                                                                                                                   Is what makes me One.

Writing soothes my being.  If I am writing on a regular basis, it must mean that I am reaching for new heights and actively engaged in life.  The more I write the more centered I am.

Commandment 1: Be myself – May I continue to strive to reach new heights as I continue to grow.   By honoring the soul that is within me I will soar as the person I am.  And the simchah or happiness of Pirkei Avot will continue to flourish and the happiness radical joy will occur more frequently too.

Can you think of a personal commandment that you could create in order to develop a stronger foundation of simchah within your life?  If you’d like to share, I’d love to know.

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The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin has inspired me to take stock in how I walk through the world.  While I am generally someone who almost always finds the light within challenges, I am not someone who expresses pure joy easily.  I will benefit from developing my own tools or personal commandments to better strive for not only more contentment, but dare I say simchah (happiness) within my daily life.  For the next 13 days, I will become transparent as I actively develop my own personal Happiness Project.

I am struck by a very simple reality.  Even though I feel a strong sense of inner peace and contentment, I don’t necessarily feel real joy or happiness on a regular basis.  Intensity permeates my being; I am constantly reflecting the realities of world, the communities I live, and my own life too.  I love life and yet I, like so many, have become trapped by life’s realities.   Allowing oneself to be trapped does not serve us well.  My hope Is that by creating more simchah tools, I can go to a ‘happy place’ more frequently.

Perfection is far from my realm.  With each breath, I make mistakes.  This journey is a work in progress. Regardless of how perfect or imperfect things seem, feeling inner happiness more frequently is the goal. I’d love to find moments of pure simchah each and every day.  For me, finding simchah, can only happen when I find balance in spite of all the realities that exist as I celebrate the good.

As a seeker. I need to embrace the light more and to figure out the meaning of happiness on a personal level. While this may be the busiest time period in my life, I will post each day over the coming 13 days.  I will explore my own personal commandments towards my own search for happiness.

Simchah, joy, is one of the forty-eight middot (values) that are expressed/taught in Pirkei Avot, Ethics of our Fahers. Each word in the book teaches us how to walk through life.  With that I will use my writing to explore my own personal eleven commandments over the coming days.  Who says there has to be only Ten Commandments?

Looking forward to finding out how my Eleven Commandments evolve through my writing and actions.  Hang on for the ride and consider letting me know your thoughts.  Over the next thirteen days, I will explore my personal commandments each day discussing one of the below commandments in order.  My guess is that some posts will be short and sweet and others will be a bit longer.

Growth can only come with action; my hope is that as I delve into my thoughts, I will utilize the tools that exist as a means of striving towards actively feeling and engaging in simchah.  On the last day, I will wrap up with this writing journey and try to move into more actively engaging in joy while utilizing each of the tools that touch me.

Personal Commandments are

  1. Be myself.
  2. Be the change you want to see in the world
  3. Take spiritual time each day
  4. Live more consciously
  5. Seek peaceful connections
  6. Honor your body
  7. Breathe deeply
  8. Listen before speaking
  9. Find the light
  10. Trust the universe
  11. Allow nothingness

This list is inspired by the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

Catch you tomorrow as I explore the first commandment and work towards transformation.

l’Chayim (To life),


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