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Archive for December, 2012

May you be blessed with an amazing Shabbat and/or weekend! 
May sweetness follow your every step!
May the rhythm of the earth help you get where you want to go!

Sabino Canyon's Road to Blessings

Sabino Canyon’s Road to Blessings

I love giving blessings.  It’s my way of letting people know that I care and that they matter. In truth, all human beings matter to me; some matter a little more.

Without a doubt, I know that life is hard.  While I  get to decide how I will walk through the hard times, that doesn’t mean life isn’t difficult at times.  At any given moment, most of us are struggling with a small or large challenge and if we aren’t, someone we love is.  And if we are fortunate enough to be void of conflict for not only ourselves, but for those we love, there is an entire world struggling with human rights, environmental challenges, and political strife.  The world around often feels dark.

With that in mind, I try to start every interaction with a warm and loving beginning.  I struggle with people that lack a caring nature when you first meet them.  When interactions begin with kindness, they often end with kindness.  So I walk through my life with that realization in my mind.

And within every interaction, I try to remember to bless people.  When giving a blessing I focus on the journey that each person is taking as an individual; I acknowledge where they are.  Sometimes, I don’t speak the blessing out loud; not everyone is comfortable with receiving blessings.  But for me, giving blessings makes the harsh world feel a little brighter and it reminds me that possibilities always surround me and the world I so love.

Try giving someone a blessing sometime; watch their face light up and their expression change.

May we all be blessed as we go on our way.

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Networking has always been a part of the world; Human beings connect with people to seek information, share skills, and help one another.

Today’s networking is different than the networking of 10-15 years ago because people who know each other and virtual strangers alike are literally lending a metaphoric hand.  People are willing to share without payment or expectation. Kindness permeates the social networking world as well as strengthens human relationships.

computer2

Friends share their reservoir of knowledge easily and without question.   Sometimes they even share their hearts and souls.   Over the past years, I have received and shared everything from simple to complex information including:

  • news
  • recipes
  • music
  • lesson plans
  • information to save the world and human lives
  • health information
  • coaching
  • photos
  • emotional support
  • philosophical insight
  • finding safe houses for those in need
  • Judaic knowledge
  • political insight
  • tech resources
  • friendship
  • inspiration
  • trails to hike
  • jobs
  • skills
  • etc

The list is infinite, really infinite. . . .each day I am amazed at the interconnectedness of the world through social media.  With a few clicks of your smart phone or your mouse, you share.

Even today, I was trying to equate the virtual connections with karma, but was looking for a Jewish value to connect to this idea.  Karma is not a Jewish concept per se.  So I went onto FB and asked.  I received two answers that resonated with me from three people.  Mitzvah k’neged mitzvah* (measure for measure or good deed leads to a good deed) and basheret (it was meant to be).  The conversation was fun and made a few of us think.  When you take the time to share what you know, you ultimately receive it back ten-fold. People tend to want to give freely and ultimately you never know how the connections will help people make a living, find answers to unsolved questions, or feel loved.

I was trained to share through working in one of the noblest professions I know.  Jewish Education. Educators, by enlarge, share freely and try to help their colleagues be the best educators they can be.  I have found that when my teaching or administrative experiences seem to be at a lacking, my colleagues are always up for helping me work through whatever challenges I am facing.  In truth, I would say this to be true for most Jewish communal professionals that I have worked with, not just the educators.  Anyways, aren’t we all educators?

About 6 years ago, I realized the enormous power of networking when my son and I needed a place to stay in California for an extended period of time.  With little or no extra money and fear of the unknown, we were faced with the darkest period of our family’s life when Aryeh needed to have brain surgery to save his life.  Ultimately, my connection with the national organization paid off, via email I reached out to friends and family around the globe and asked for help.  Many people offered and in the end I stayed with one dear friend who I had known through my beloved and now defunct organization, CAJE (Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Educators).  Through networking we found everything we needed including a car.

Today, I watch with fascination how organizations like Facebook, Twitter, 140edu Conference and Darim Online have transformed my life.  Each of the above resources are there when I need them.  I can post a serious question, a curiosity, an emotion online and I will get feedback.  It is beautiful.  I am now living in Tucson, Arizona far from the worlds I have lived on the east coast.  Regardless, my friends and colleagues are still answering questions from Montana to Brazil, from New York City to Oregon.  The internet has enabled me to remain connected to the larger world and to feel supported in all my endeavors.

Over the last years, I have learned to love people I have yet to meet.  When I had major surgery two and half years ago, friends from all over send me healing words to put on my vision board. People care; people are giving.  Most of the folks who mailed me words on beautiful paper were friends that I had kept in touch via social media.

Over time, I have learned to ask for what I want and need; some are willing to give, some not.  Each person has to find a balance that makes them feel comfortable. I have asked professional photographers if I could post their photo on my blog who often say sure.  The key is to always give credit for any information you receive.  And to graciously accept when someone responds no.  Everyone is navigating life with the tools they have. Some people are concerned that if they share, they might hurt themselves professionally.  Ironically that seems to be furthest from the truth.  The more you give, the more people want to support your endeavors both financially and  emotionally.

Professionally, I received a huge gift two or three years ago when I watched a webinar from 140 Characters Conference.  Information about Jeff Keni Pulver’s brainchild can be found at 140edu.com.  For two days I became riveted by what this conference offered.  Following this conference, I was able to receive information via Twitter from some of the most amazing educators of all time; the experience of learning from some of the wisest people I have ever encountered in my life was empowering.  Holy Wow!!! I haven’t stopped learning from these people that give so unselfishly.  It all started because Jeff Keni Pulver, and perhaps others, had a vision.

Networking has opened up my world.  Today I have an amazing job, I am starting a non-profit, I am editing two books, writing my own books, blogging with a following, helping other people work towards their dreams, and more.

Opportunities are flowing; my spirit is soaring.  Networking has added to the quality of my life.

If you haven’t been networking yet, give it a try. . . .

 

*mitzvah – more accurately means commandment, but in this case good deed works too.

 

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My Cup is (literally) overflowing. – כוסי רוויה, comes from Psalm 23:5.  today (December 24th) has been an amazing day in every way.

CupOverflows

In nearly each and every moment, I felt at peace even within the moments that were less than peaceful.  From experience, I know that life and health are not a given.  There are real struggles taking place around me and within me, but today, I was able to transcend all of them.

Nearly everything I did or wanted to do today worked.

This morning, I slept until nearly 9 AM. Ok, I did wake up for an hour or so earlier in the morning and blogged, but I was able to go back to sleep.  And you know what? Sleep was really sweet.

And then I woke up and took a really long walk with Maddie, my precious dog. With each step I chanted for both myself and for my friend who was having major heart surgery.  In fact the chant, I chanted for myself was the chant he told me to chant last week when I was facing some very dark demons and fear.  I also chanted beautiful chants for his precious heart to be healed and his body to be at peace.

Coming home, I realized I needed dog food.  Well Maddie is incredibly spoiled; she eats an overpriced specialized dog food that can only be purchased at one location.  The good news is that I was able to purchase the very last package of dog food that the store had! Wow did I feel fortunate.  Now let’s hope that next month the dog food can still be purchased; I’ve never seen a pet store run out of food.

Then I came home, picked up Aryeh so that we could walk around Sabino Canyon.  The views were awesome even though Aryeh still claims he hats the fuckin’ desert; I think he’s lying, but we still had a great time.  The view was beautiful, we found paths that were secluded, and we had some good mother and son time.

Returning home after being gone for a few hours, I was able to take Maddie for another long walk.  With each step I found myself feeling joy for the first time in weeks.  Towards the end of the walk, I decided to take some cookies over to the Firehouse around the corner from my house.  So I did just that.  It felt great to do something simple and kind; for some reason I have always felt shy about doing those sort of acts of kindness.  Today I did it.  On the way home, I decided to run for a few minutes.  With each step I felt like a gazelle; perhaps I can start to run distance again. . .I am hoping. Running with Maddie makes each step pure joy!

About two houses from coming home, Maddie met a new friend.  A humanoid named Eva fell in love with Maddie and because they were connecting I met a new friend too.  I love how good dogs open up doors for people like me!!! In the end, I spoke to this woman from Finland for about 15 – 20 minutes while Maddie soaked up the love!

The day continued when I was able to get a hold of a book that I wanted.  I met my friend at the Chinese Food restaurant that he was hanging out at with his cousins.  You probably realize by now that he must be Jewish.  Well, I can’t wait to read a book about a cave he founded a few decades ago.  One of life’s biggest highlights for me is having friends that are explorers, creators, dreamers, and visionaries.  Sometimes, I can’t imagine what they are doing with me; but I will be grateful for the creativity they share with others and they bring out in me!

Coming home for the final time of the day, I found out that my friend made it through surgery (which was never a doubt) and that the surgery was a success; wow!!! Now remember that I never take health for granted.  While I wasn’t worried, I was concerned and when the surgery seemed to take longer than expected, I was getting anxious.

At some point during the evening, I realized that I had exactly 12,500 views to my blog.  I love writing, really love writing.  I didn’t even realize that I was getting close to that number.  Another WOW for today.  I am still not sure why people follow my writing, but I am blessed.  If I understand it correctly, I have about 85 followers to my blog.  To be fair, not everyone that follows read my blog nor is the number necessarily counted in the viewing numbers.  But I love knowing that people are reading my writing, my rambling.

With each step and each breath, I have felt surrounded by a cocoon of blessings today.

As I was winding down my writing and getting ready to go to sleep for the night, my sons are engaged in deep conversations, but they keep checking in with me to see if I need or want anything.  How lucky is that!!! My guys are great and they like one another too!

So much more could be shared . . . lots of internal thoughts and processing, but the bottom-line, I found light at every crevice.  Even the tough interactions were ok.  We all get to decide how we walk through our journeys and today I chose to be real, to be honest, and to be me!

To wrap up the evening, the Tucson skies were exquisite tonight.

December 24

Today wasn’t perfect, but it was overflowing.  My Cup is (literally) overflowing. – כוסי רוויה, it usually is!  I just have to remember to embrace each day with a smile, a positive attitude, and the belief that all will be good.  Try it and see what your day looks like.

With blessings and light, Chava

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PatienceSand

Throughout much of life, we wait. . . .

We wait for many things:

  • to grow up
  • the phone to ring
  • letters to come
  • life cycle events
  • to make a difference
  • the perfect job
  • news
  • sickness to turn to healing
  • appointments to happen
  • the right words to come
  • pain to end
  • joy to emerge
  • time to pass

Change takes time.

Living into the moment takes time.

With each breath, I am profoundly impacted by what is happening around me.  Just below the surface is beauty waiting for the right time to sprout up into the world.

Always waiting; always seeking patience.

But for now, I have to navigate life one breath at a time.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart

and try to love the questions themselves.

Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be

given you because you would not be able

to live them.  And the point is to live everything.

Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then

gradually, without noticing it, live along some

distant day into the answers.

 

~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letter to a Young Poet

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My mind, quite literally, never stops.  Yet I often have the ability to push forward in a state of inner peace and contentment.  I notice everything, I feel deeply, and I live passionately.  Still even as I grapple with the background called life, I am motivated by a higher challenge: Living in the present moment and absorbing the beauty of what is or what could be.

Living an intense  existence doesn’t negate the value of finding the gift in the challenges and seeking inner peace and contentment through life’s storms.  Yes I feel deeply, but I also strive to find the light and reflect it back into the world.  It’s what I do.

A day or two ago, I saw a couple of amazing and thoughtful posts on Facebook.  Both reinforced how I try to walk through the world.

With each step, I walk through the world with an inner warmth and a gentle step.  I believe in goodness even though the first sights I experienced were that of darkness and pain.  I love life, truly love life.

The funny thing about the two posts I saw were that they came during some incredibly dark days when I was navigating the deepest of pain.  Even with that, I felt empowered by the timing of each post.  I was struggling, but I wasn’t crumbling;  I was actively facing intense pain and challenges. I wasn’t giving up; I never have.

The first posting was shared by a very deep friend who told me that this post reminded her of me.

ToDoList

Regardless of the darkness I am navigating, I am am fairly good at following the above list.

  • I always look to find the gifts within the challenges.
  • I love people so I show it.
  • I struggle with trying to let go of what I can’t control, but I try. . . I really try.
  • My heart guides how I walk through the world.
  • I consciously keep moving forward regardless of what I am navigating.
  • Breathe is written on a plaque I made for my 40th birthday and it is one of my mottos for living a healthy life; I value it now as much as I did when I created the plaque.

pet-rock

Life is a blessing with many challenges.  If I ever give up for too long, it means that something must really be wrong and I might be in need of spiritual help.

The other fantastic posting I saw on Facebook listed 12 Things Happy People do differently:

12SignsHappiness

Without discussing each of the 12 points, I found it fascinating that in some way I negotiate at least 10 or maybe even 11 of the above list. Yay!!! At the same time, I can always do better.  Seriously.  I am a work in progress; I am always striving to become a stronger and a more positive human being.

The bottom-line is that life is a journey and each of us needs to decide how to walk though the journey.  Positive energy and thoughts propel us to a better place than does the looming fear and sadness.  I have learned to seek silence when I am taking difficult journeys; if I keep fueling the darkness with empty words, I will crumble and fall.

Behind the smile there is a deep intensity that moves my soul.  I am consciously maneuvering the world around me and trying to navigate the long roads ahead.

Gotta keep on moving forward. . . .

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Lamott writing sayingYou own everything that happened to you.

Tell your stories.

If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.
Anne Lamott

Memories always come back.  The good, the bad, all of them return at the most auspicious moments.

My mother was a sick woman.  Some might say she was physically sick; others might say mentally ill.  Both are true.  During most of my lifetime, my mother was under the influence of enormous amounts of alcohol and/or drugs.  She wasn’t particular good to me nor was she kind; she was violent and repulsive during much of my life. . .it is what it is.

For the most part, I have been able to move past that part of my life to find health and beauty on the other side.  But sometimes I meet people that remind me of my earlier years.  When that happens, I find myself detaching from the interaction completely. It is quite fascinating to observe myself as I navigate the interaction.  Sometimes I grow dark and shut down for days, but not always; I am growing.

Last night I was blessed with an experience that forced me to spend time with someone who reminded me of my very sick mother.  The woman I met was unable to walk or to communicate as a healthy person; she was totally out of it.  The blessing was to work with others who had one goal in mind: Each person wanted to make certain this woman would not get in her car and drive.

In the end the police came and helped enforce what needed to happen.  Between the Tucson police doing their jobs with such respect and working with a group of people that wanted to keep the woman and the roads of Tucson safe, I felt one step closer within my healing journey.

Times sure have changed since my mother tormented both herself and her family’s world.  Today more people understand that driving under the influence isn’t acceptable; they also understand that sometimes it takes a community to stand together to make a difference.

Blessings come in so many different packages.  While the difficult memories came flooding back last night, I am touched to have been part of a resolution instead of sitting painfully stagnant without a way out of a challenging situation.  Perhaps the biggest gift in last night’s situation was having my sons nearby and having them understand the importance of working towards keeping a very sick and potentially dangerous woman off the roads.  I love that I learned from my past and didn’t become my past.

May each of us find ways to make a difference for good.  We can all learn from the past.

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I am a story teller.

I am a writer.

I love to weave words together; I also appreciate silence between each word.

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Over the years I have learned that words and silence are equally as sweet.  The silence between the notes can be as precious as the notes themselves.

Have you ever noticed a beautiful sight; the beauty is enhanced by what we are looking at and by the texture that exists around and within the sight.  The same can be said for words and the white space around each word.

When I notice the world around me, I love the empty space as well as the outlines of what is.

Words often fill the needed space; silence often allows us the space to be more present with where we are at any given moment.

May we each find the space to live within our words and within our silence.

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