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Archive for September, 2014

Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 22 Elul or 8 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“The only people we can think of as normal are those we don’t yet know very well. “
Quote by Alain de Botton

~ ~ ~

Not one soul is ‘normal’ because there is no such thing as normal.  Each and every one of us are unique individuals with our own stories.  We have lived, loved, and struggled; we have known joy, sadness, birth, and loss.  Our experiences are impacted by all of the moving parts that are unique to us.

I love when people try to identify me as being ‘X’, whatever X is.  Sometimes they are more correct and sometimes less correct; rarely do they have me all figured out.  I am blessed to be a chameleon. While I can find a comfortable place in nearly any setting, that doesn’t mean I am always internally at home in the roles that I am playing.  On the other side, it is awesome that I am usually flexible enough to play with others in their sand boxes.  I love that I can meet most people where they are and enjoy my time with them at the same time.

May we each find a norm that works for who we are and allows us to exist with ease whether we are alone or with other unique souls.

With blessings & light,
Chava

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 21 Elul or 9 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Quote by Fred Rogers

~ ~ ~

Sometimes life is hard.  Murders.  Tsunamis.  Job loss. Terrorism.  Genocide. Domestic violence. Homelessness. Unanswered prayers.

And yet, with each loss and with the drama that can sometimes be part of life, there are angels that make a difference for good.  There are people that will drop what they are doing in order to make the handling of a disaster a little less painful.  There are people that are in the midst of suffering that will still try to help others.  Some of us show that we care by offering money, a smile, a hand; some of us do nothing, but many of us do what we can.

Throughout my life, I have been supported and loved by strangers as well as loved ones.  My life wouldn’t be what it is today if people hadn’t helped me along the way.  Even today, I am feeling myself held as I need to navigate some difficult struggles.  And even today and throughout every stage of my life, I have done and continue to do what I can for others.  It really is an amazing gift to be on either side of this scenario.

At some point in our lives, we may need someone to help us navigate life’s harsh realities, may we be blessed to have that person appear with a large enough net.  And may each of us make a difference for good when someone needs us.

With blessings and light,
Chava

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 20 Elul or 10 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

Return Again

Return again, return again
Return to the land of your Soul
Ret
urn again, return again
R
eturn to the land of your Soul

Return to what you are, return to who you are
Return to where you are
Born and reborn again
Return again, return again,
Return to the land of your Soul
Return again, return again
Return to the land of your Soul…

Music: Shlomo Carlebach
Lyrics: Rafael-Simkba Kahn
© Schlomo Carlebach All Rights Reserved

~ ~ ~

The month of Elul inspires me to reflect, to really question have I been honoring myself by living consciously and honestly.  Am I serving the the world I live with integrity and thoughtfulness? Am I nurturing the person I am and striving to reach my full potential?  Am I listening to the silent voice inside of me that has always aspired to make healthy choices for not only my physical world, but for the world that surrounds me regardless of how close or far?  Am I doing the things that jazz my soul?

Everything we do matters? Everything we think can impact our lives and the lives of those around us.  Am I living in a way that exhibits those realities?

During my Elul Journey, I have chosen to take this trek one step further.  I have decided to be more transparent by sharing how I walk through the world with you as well as most of the people that cross my path.  In the recent years, I have grown to like who I am; I want the ‘real me’ to be the person that folks get to know. Today, I am actively returning to my roots and growing stronger roots with each step I take.

Each of us are born with our own essence; may we be blessed to fuel the parts of our being that make us feel the most whole as we strive to grow with each breath.

With blessings & light,
Chava

Live you way - Jung saying

With blessings & light,
Chava

Read Full Post »

Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 19 Elul or 11 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“Find beauty and gifts in simple moments, but acknowledge the entire picture too.”
Quote by Me

~ ~ ~

All of us have default responses that show how we walk through the world.  As someone who has been been beaten in a multitude of ways both violently and emotionally, I choose to see the world as beautiful and to celebrate life at every given opportunity.  Life is hard, but amazing moments happen with each passing day.

Reality is what it is and I am choosing to be transparent about what we are currently experiencing.  At the same time, please know that many blessings surround my family.  Yes, times are painfully difficult, but drowning is not an option.  My sons and I have chosen to thrive by diving into the water, swimming as best we can, and sometimes treading so that we can stay afloat.  There is no question, we will make it to shore.

Reality first:

  1. On December 16th, my youngest son’s 17th birthday, I was told that my job would go to half-time and that I would lose all benefits unless I could afford COBRA.  I couldn’t, so not only did I lose half of my salary, I lost health insurance and the ability to take care of my nearly adult children or myself.
  2. In June, after I had learned to manage on half-salary by supplementing my income, I lost my half-time position.
  3. June is too late to find a professional position in my field; now I need to wait until next winter if I choose to stay in my field.
  4. I struggle to afford even the most basic needs and sometimes I can’t even afford them.
  5. My Temple (as well as many spiritual communities) did not pay into unemployment insurance, so I have no benefits that are often available to those that have lost their jobs.  (Note: If you are a leader or a member of a spiritual community, be part of helping the community navigate good and ethical decision making.  Unemployment should be a given-not a loop hole.)
  6. I am a single mother who is barely supporting my sons on whatever I make.
  7. My family moved to Tucson and left many of our closest friends for a job that left us stranded.  Jewish professionals do not make enough to easily save the kind of money that would allow us to move back east.

I am sorry that the congregation I worked for is struggling; I am also tremendously sorry that I live in fear of homelessness because of their choices.

Life is hard, really hard. And the good news is that I get to decide how I will walk through this journey.  And during this weekend alone, I found so many awesome gifts:

  1. Aryeh found my dog playing with my thumb drive; I thought some important documents had been lost forever.  Now I have some back-ups to do.  Can anyone help me create a cloud that can contain all my computer documents?  Unfortunately I do have some significant limitiations. :/
  2. Loved when my friends shared with me what was good about their week before Shabbat when I asked; Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with so many folks in our lives.
  3. The boys and I had a simple salad for Shabbat dinner; we loved just being together.
  4. After dinner, Aryeh and I taught Dovi to play backgammon!!! And he actually won one game.
  5. Saturday morning, I visited my 98 year old friend and took her to the DeGrazia Museum in the Sun. While it wasn’t a total success, I did get my friend out for awhile.  AND I can’t wait to go back by myself later this week.
  6. The DeGrazia Museum is a hidden free treasure for all visiting or living in Tucson; go when you can and be sure to leave a donation.
  7. Aryeh and I had an amazing time at our friends house; we swam, ate good food; and laughed a lot!
  8. Had an hour conversation with one of my closest friends in Tucson.  (Wow, Tucson really has given me some close friends.)
  9. Another friend found me a great High Holiday position in NY, but it ended up not making sense to take it.  But when the offer came in, it brought tears to my eyes and made me feel a little more worthy than I have been feeling.

Continuously Reflection and gratitude:

  1. I have had some amazing time to think about my values and what I want to accomplish during the second half of my life.  What do I really want to do? Where do I really want to be? Who do I want in my life? I want a life that includes thoughtful people doing things that jazz their soul; I want to be that person too.
  2. A good friend helped me sustain myself by giving me a job; another one helped me find more work when the first job stopped producing enough hours for me.
  3. There are many friends that keep calling, sending notes, and believing in me.  They support me when I am feeling good, when I am devastated, and when I am just ok.  My most beautiful friends see me as I am, positive (for the most part) and navigating tough times; they support me by being there and letting me know that they are!
  4. Since December, I have been a caregiver to those that are aging, in medical crisis, and/or dying.  Helping each individual and sometimes their families as they navigate some of life’s hardest times has been an amazing experience for me; I believe that I am making people’s lives a little easier when I am their caregiver.
  5. When we really needed help, financial help has shown up on three different occasions since December.  Still every month since December has been terrifying.
  6. AND last week a dear friend offered me her house in Charlottesville, VA; I am seriously thinking about trying to get there.  I am wondering how to afford getting there and/or the storage costs of that transition.
  7. Two friends offered to drive a U-Haul truck cross country so that I wouldn’t have to pay movers.
  8. Countless friends have offered me real solutions so that homelessness wouldn’t happen; one challenge to many of the solutions is that we have two dogs that for now we are choosing to keep.  They have already been homeless in their lives; I don’t want them to experience that fate again.  (Besides when our newest pup became a problem this summer, we couldn’t find a home for her. Sigh.)
  9. A fabulous congregation in Boulder offered me a position that I’d love to take, but it is half-time.  After the holidays, perhaps I can find another half-time position to compliment the first position.  They have a temp Director of Education there for the next couple of months.

What can you do to help?

  1. Visualize we are good and pray for us to find the sustenance that will help us thrive.
  2. Give me a job.  I am good with people in all sorts of settings.
  3. If you hear of a job that you think would be good for my soul. Let me know.  I am looking for either a career position in Jewish Education or Social Action work AND I am also open to doing a job in a great environment that is a 35-40 hour week job that will allow me the time to write and do Social Action when I am not working.
  4. If you are a doctor or dentist living in Tucson and you are willing to be there for our family for lower or no costs, let me know.
  5. Keep your eyes open. . . .I am considering asking for concrete help that will allow us to go to the east coast.
  6. Light a candle and visualize us spreading light and being full of light.

The good news is that I believe all will be ok.  I am patient and hopeful; the right door is emerging as I type :).  Today’s text response to a local friend that had asked me how I am was –“up & down. . . .but mostly navigating with a positive outlook.”  This is how I walk through life.  I believe that blessings surround me and I pray that all of us will remain healthy (medical emergencies are not an option).  I am actively engaged in living positively as we also play the waiting game for a good job/position that will help sustain my family.

May light surround our family and flow through our family now and always; may that light help make the world a better place.

With blessings & light,
Chava

 

 

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 17 Elul or 13 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Quote by Dr Seuss

~ ~ ~

When I was in my late teens or early 20’s, I worked as a counselor for the Tikvah Program, a fabulous special needs program at Camp Ramah in Palmer, Massachusetts.  While there, I learned important lessons that continue to impact my life to this day.  The most significant one came from the head of the program who enlightened me by sharing that each and every one of us is unique and also has special needs.

If every one is unique and special, that means I should be cognizant of this reality by consciously honoring each person for who they are.  One of  my biggest goals in life is to make people feel good whenever they connect with me.  I am far from perfect, but I try to interact with others in a very conscious way.

The bottom-line is that every being in this world matters.

I am so tired of living in a society where people show disdain for those those that may have limitations or for those that are the wrong color, size, religion, economic background, etc.  All people are human beings.  Showing someone respect or kindness should be a given unless they have done something very tangible to hurt you.

As a child, I was picked by my own mother and the kids at school because of my own limitations.  I was:

  • slow
  • hearing impaired
  • Jewish
  • fat
  • from a dysfunctional family
  • and more. . .

Eventually I grew up and became more self assured, but growing up sucked in every way.  The good news is that a long the way, I did have friends and family that helped me navigate the harsh realities of being who I was.  And I was able to grow up and become comfortable in my own body.  The point here is that it hurts when people are picked on because. . . .

Since we are all part of the same universe (“no matter how small”), may we all act as if everyone counts.

With blessings & light,

Chava

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 16 Elul or 14 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

We can change the world and make it a better place.  It is in your hands to make a difference. 
Quote by Nelson Mandela

~ ~ ~

Today is September 11th, a day in which so many of us are remembering pain and feeling the destruction that happened 13 years ago.  While we all remember the pain and destruction, let us also remember how strangers were helping strangers, how people wanted to help, and how we supported those that lost their beloveds.  9/11 was  full of darkness that has lasted, but there were sparks of light that impacted the world too.

Many people did what they could to make a very dark world seem a little brighter.  We can learn from that; we must learn from that.

Let us all use our two hands (metaphorically speaking) to make the world a better place for good.  We may not think we can do much, but we can all do something.

With blessings & light,
Chava

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Sunset near Pupukea Hawaii; Photo coutesy of  Kathleen Kendle

Sunset near Pupukea Hawaii; Photo coutesy of Kathleen Kendle

(This poem is being re-posted in memory of 9/11/01)

Sometimes Life Gives Us No Tomorrows

Know that I love you wherever I may be.
Always treasure that reality.
Life comes and goes.
And sometimes it goes without warning.

Cry the tears that a broken heart leaves.
Scream out your sadness to the world, the universe or Gd
But never question the love that was part of our every interaction
I am always in your heart.

Sometimes life gives us no tomorrows
Allow yourself the room to mourn
Move forward knowing I am always with you.
What we had can never be taken away – even in death

Some tomorrows never come
Don’t forget the good that I did
Learn from the less than perfect attributes of my essence
And become the best you that you can be.

I have always loved you
I love people just for being who they are
Finding light in the darkest of moments has kept me thriving as I have.
Chanting, writing, dancing, and praying made me into the person I was.

Don’t be afraid to tread when you can’t really swim
Dance in the rain and find the rainbows when darkness prevails
Find the good in every challenge that crosses your path
And always soar and reach for your best.

Know that my life is with you no matter where I stand.
Sometimes life gives us no tomorrows
But I will still always be where you are now.
I love you.

~ ~ ~

Note: This poem was originally written on May 27, 2011 after I witnessed a fatal car crash.  After hearing the accident and seeing what a moment’s difference would have made, I wanted my sons to have something tangible if ever I were the one to die suddenly.  The above words are what flowed from my heart. On that day in May, I realized that accidents, terrorism, sudden illness, etc. can take those we love.  Life happens. Death happens.  And you never expect the sudden death to be you or someone you love.

Somehow it felt appropriate to re-post this poem today on 9/11. The attacks resulted in the deaths of  2,977 victims. The victims included 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon.  All of these people and their loved ones believed that tomorrow would come – why wouldn’t they have?  But Sometimes Tomorrows Never Come. . . .

With blessings & light,
Chava

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