Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2015

I believe that every day is a gift, not to be taken for granted.

Eight years ago next month, my son Aryeh suffered his first debilitating headache. From that first headache until now, life was forever altered.  In the days, weeks, months, and years that followed, I learned that life as I knew it could end in a moment’s notice. The good news for us was that while life drastically evolved, my son thrived in ways that can described as a miracle.

I AM ALIVE!

I AM ALIVE!

At 13 years old, the doctors found 6.5 centimeter arachnoid cyst wrapped around my son Aryeh’s brain.  For over three years, Aryeh suffered from horrific pain, life and death struggles, and deep sadness; we all suffered from loss.  For anyone that has experienced the serious illness of a child or any loved one, you know how quickly life changes after a serious diagnosis.

For years, Aryeh couldn’t handle bright or flashing lights, loud or sudden noises, kinetic energy or any movement.  Our very active household was silenced both physically and metaphorically.  Dovi, Aryeh’s little brother, was the most impacted.  My once very kinetic child was forced to quiet his body and spirit.  And with the silence came the fears that mounted with each passing month. Would Aryeh survive the hell that was taking over our lives?  Would the two brain surgeries save his life? Would his pain ever end? So many questions, so few answers. . .

Every one that knew Aryeh watched in horror as his pain could not be managed. To help us through this journey, we learned to find the gifts – some spiritual and some tangible. One precious gift was both. A group of friends and staff members from Fairhaven School tie-dyed a queen set of sheets for Aryeh. The sheets arrived days before Aryeh and I were to leave Washington, DC to go to Los Angeles for Aryeh’s second brain surgery. Those sheets stayed with Aryeh from the moment they came into our house through the many years of Ayeh’s illness, and beyond.

As a mother, I can’t even begin to explain how impactful the gift was not only to Aryeh, but to his whole family too. Aryeh’s friends knew that he absolutely loved and still loves tie-dye. At 13 years old, Aryeh surrounded his bedroom walls with tie dye wall hangings and wore only tie dye shirts.  🙂 While this might have made his grandparents a little nuts, it put a huge smile on my face!!!  Tie-dye t-shirts are still one of Aryeh’s favorite pieces of clothing (and for that matter Dovi’s too).

The good news is that we were fortunate to have amazing friends who made and sold their wares at Milky Wave Tie-Dye; Aryeh was also lucky to have friends that knew him so well!

The sheets became a comforting treasure very quickly.  The fitted sheets and pillow cases were immediately put on Aryeh bed and pillows.  Aryeh only stopped using them recently when they became threadbare. And when we went to California for his surgery the flat sheet came with us.  In fact, while he was in an induced coma, his father and I wrapped him in the sheet and just made sure the sheet was always on him. On one such day, a nurse came in and told us that the sheet was in his way and we needed to move it. During that particular conversation, the nurse enlightened us by telling us that he didn’t need the sheet nor would he know if it was on him or not.  Needless to say, the sheet stayed, but the nurse was asked not to return.

Once we came home, Aryeh reunited with his pillow cases and fitted sheet; the flat sheet however was placed in a drawer under his bed for safekeeping.

A few years after Aryeh’s brain surgeries, I was learning a chant that lifted my spirit and moved my soul. As I prepared the chant for a service I was leading, Aryeh walked into my room and said, “I’d like the words of the first line to be on my tallit* (prayer shawl) one day.” The words were poignant and perfect for Aryeh.  The Hebrew/English chant written by Rabbi David Zeller (of blessed memory) was:

I am alive. (x4)
And who is this aliveness I am? (x3)
I
s it not the holy blessed ONE.

http://davidzeller.org/aliveness/ – You can hear a snippet of the song from the first track of the CD on the website.

Once Aryeh decided that he wanted the words ‘I am alive’ (in Hebrew) to be on his tallit, then it only seemed natural to use his tie-dye flat sheet. Unfortunately, it took Aryeh and me years to make it happen for him, but last week we did it!!! With the help of our good friend Laurie Dietz, we were able to have the words I am alive (in Hebrew) embroidered for the tie dye tallit. And then I tied the tzitzit, fringes, for his beloved ritual garmet.

Aryeh in his amazing new tallit.

Aryeh in his amazing new tallit.

Full Circle
While the creation of the tallit began with illness, the tie-dye ultimately became a symbol of living and thriving.  Aryeh is very much alive and loving his new tallit too!

*tallit – A shawl-like garment worn during morning services, with tzitzit (long fringes) attached to the corners as a reminder of the commandments. Sometimes called a prayer shawl.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

rawness

Tree Pose180778_10150097427331448_648766447_6518118_7676053_s

feeling the rhythm of life
deeply loving the beautiful connections
surrounding me with each step
my amazing sons, my loving friends
I am blessed

loving the cardinals, the blue jays, the robins
their energy helps my spirit to soar
the frozen earth and icy winds
keep me grounded with each step
I am blessed

writing, working, thriving
breathing deeply, believing all is good
finding balance, reaching for the stars
my transparent soul is alive
I am blessed

moving forward, towards the unknown
taking one step, then another
trusting the universe
living with the rawness of me
I am blessed

Read Full Post »

Truth

Last night, as I closed my eyes, my mind started to focus on the role of truth in our lives.

With that two Jewish teachings popped into my mind.

Teaching One

The world stands on three things:
on justice, on truth, and on peace.
Mishna, Avot 1:18

and

Teaching Two

Truth vs Falsehood
אֱמֶת ושֶׁקֶר

“The Talmud (104a) finds great significance in the form and order of the Hebrew alphabet, devoting nearly a page to understanding the symbolism behind the order and design of the alphabet. The most famous of these passages is the analysis of the Hebrew words for truth and falsehood, emet and sheker. The base of the letters (aleph mem taav) of emet is solid, while the letters of sheker (shin kuf reish) are wobbly, having only one “leg” each. Furthermore, the letters of sheker are the 21st, 19th and 20th letters respectively; whereas emet has the first, last, and middle letters of the alphabet. While one may have to look for truth, truth is true everywhere; whereas lies, readily available, have to be constantly updated for each new situation.”
By Rabbi Jay Kelman in http://bit.ly/1ExqL1c

Both teachings focus on the significance of truth within our lives.  Balance really is much easier to find when you focus on living a life a truth.  I love that Judaism surrounds me with teachings that support the act of living consciously.  And I am fortunate that in this moment it supports what I intuitively believe around truth vs falsehood….Jewish teachings don’t always work so easily. 🙂

Making Truth vs Falsehood Personal

Throughout my life I have experienced deception on so many levels both big and small.  Sometimes it is as simple as navigating half-truths or silence; sometimes it is as complicated as denial or downright lies.  But as I move into what could be the second half of my life, I realize that I want to live in a place of authenticity and grace regardless of where I stand.

In my life, I have, like many of us, been known for being silent or sharing only half truths and I have experienced the same realities from those in my life.  As I move forward in my life, I crave people that inspire transparency and allow me the space to be transparent.  Whether friend or lover, employer or employee, I want to be surrounded with people that don’t need to hide behind half-truths or downright lies. I also want to be the person that can hear both what is being said and what is not being said.

Trusting my heart to receive the truth and to share the truths will only happen as I develop a practice that is worthy of such a life. In order to make trust an integral part of my life, I need to first make practice a conscious one. I prefer to choose to live with integrity and surround myself with those that live in a place with a similar practice.

When considering Teaching One (see above), I find myself faced with a question.  How can we have justice, truth, and peace with each interaction? We can’t – of course.  Justice and truth do not always leave us with a sense of peace.  Dealing with truth and sometimes justice can be hard.  Our feelings are a huge variable in this journey.  And what feels good to one isn’t necessarily good for others.  Ugh!

Lately, I have been considering the role of true friends in my life.  I am actively trying to find a way to navigate those that really see things in a way that I find, quite honestly, sick.  How can they be close friends if their values or thought processes make me extremely uncomfortable.  Recently, a childhood friend became furious with me because of an article I posted on Facebook.  In truth, this person is sort of like family. I shouldn’t have been happy to have her out of my Facebook life, but I was thrilled!  We all have own truths, our own ways of seeing things.  And sometimes, I just don’t want to debate or to hear the other side. . . I have to, how else will I learn?  Sigh. Balance. . .always working towards finding balance.

When you don’t like how someone thinks, it is really challenging to navigate a warm relationship in which peace can grow.  There is no way that someone can convince me that that certain politics makes sense.  PERIOD. I don’t understand how people shop at Walmart when they don’t need to. Why would anyone that understands slave labor purchase products that support such practices.  And if I have to silence my passions, can I be in a place of truth within a friendship.  In the same way that each of us have our own truths, each of us also have to choose how to live and to make decisions based on our values.  Aren’t we all evolving?

I am struggling.

And since I am already a little cranky about how to connect with people when I dislike some of their values and belief systems, why not explore another challenging aspect of my struggle with truth.

I am learning; I am growing.

Not everyone feels the need to share their soul or raw energy as openly as I do – that has to be ok.  I am blessed with so many different types of people in my world and not all of them walk in the world as I do.  Just because someone chooses not to share the entire picture, doesn’t mean they are speaking a half-truth or falsehood.  Does it?

Close relationships may be the perfect place to hold back just a little.  Do we really need to fully express our feelings to those closest to us? As a mother, I wonder.  Part of helping my sons to develop into secure adults is by allowing them the room to express themselves without me needing to influence them.  With them, I am learning to say that I think it is best for me to refrain from sharing my thoughts at this time so that they can best figure out their thoughts for themselves.  But what about a partner or a spouse, sometimes we feel like we need to know everything, but other times people need their space.

The key to all interactions is realizing your non-negotiables, what aren’t you willing to be flexible about. Finding balance is not as easy as always being in truthful place, but to me I keep seeking to find the best way to navigate with others; I need to cultivate the solid footing that comes with walking the path of אֱמֶת, truth. Perhaps what I need is to hold myself with transparency and grace, then I can hope to surround myself with those that do the same.

Relationships are so complicated.

“The Universe doesn’t like secrets.
It conspires to reveal the truth, to lead you to it.”
― Lisa Unger, Beautiful Lies

May truth emerge in each and every human interaction.

 

Read Full Post »

“The most significant gifts are the ones most easily overlooked. Small, everyday blessings: woods, health, music, laughter, memories, books, family, friends, second chances, warm fireplaces, and all the footprints, scattered throughout our days.”
~Sue Monk Kidd

Chava.cake

All of life has a rhythm.

For me, the rhythm comes from an inner light that radiates out and allows me to honor the beat of my heart and the song of my soul. With each step, I feel myself become more and more grounded to the earth.

Yesterday, I celebrated my life; I found joy in the love that surrounded me and in the peace within the storm of life.

For the days prior to my birthday, I was considering ignoring my birthday, removing any mention of it on Facebook and closing the door to my bedroom so that I could ‘lick my wounds’ from a challenging last year.  And then I realized that the last year does not define who I am as  a person.  But if it did define me, I would be a woman who defies darkness by always doing what it takes to succeed.

With each breath, I navigate the very real realities of life’s journeys, where I am, and where I want to go.  I dream big and then work towards making my dreams happen.

One of the most treasured gifts came from my friend and poet Susan Windle who said, “Love to you in your birthing time, dear Chava”.  Those sweet words reminded me that not only am I loved, but I am actively becoming the person I want to be.  This sacred birthing process is empowering me to grow in ways that would not have been possible in the not very distant past.

Authenticity is flowing from the core of my being.  I am seeking simplicity in all that I do; I am working towards living a life of transparency and integrity.  I am weaving words together and finding center by speaking with the fullness of my voice. Vulnerability no longer is filtered by the bravado that I don’t really feel.  I have learned and am continuing to learn how to use my voice in all of it’s forms.

Over the last year, I have been expressing my most purest of feelings without holding back from those closest to me. Sometimes tears fall down my cheeks as I try to cope with deep sadness; sometimes passion flows from my lips and from my fingertips. And then there is my laughter the reverberates the core of my being.  While I have always been real, I am trying to remove the shield that has sometimes protected me from my deepest of feelings.

I really do believe what my friend Marc Hershkowitz said, “I know it’s going to be a great year!” I am determined to shine and to be the best person I can be.

While life has been a little harsh of late, it doesn’t have to put an edge into my spirit. I am alive and I intend to celebrate the gifts that surround me with each and every rhythm that is part of my journey.

May this year be the year for my writing to inspire people, my creativity to flow, and my heart to emerge in new and beautiful ways.

This is my year to thrive; I hope you join me!

 

Read Full Post »

(Note: Recently, a very dear friend of mine questioned me about why my blog is important or why it was vital for me to share my writing. To say that the question felt like a violent blow to my soul may be an understatement.  I was profoundly stunned that someone close to me could wonder about the importance of writing and sharing my writing. This friend is really one of the best kinds of friends I have ever had, but time and distance has had an impact.  I wrote this because I wanted to respond the best way I knew how.)

Feb 12 Close UP

 

Hello Friend

I hope your day is going great in every way.

After we hung up today, I realized how many miles apart we really are.  We haven’t spent time together in years and it shows.

You really don’t know me or know what jazzes my soul.  You don’t listen to what my hopes and dreams are. You and I love one another because we have 22 years of history, but it has been over 12 years since connected for more than 24 hours and the one time we did for hours it was lovely.

Let me be clear with you. . . .I want you to know what nearly every other friend knows about me.  I live with a deep authenticity; I am happy in my own skin and with my own needs/desires.   And I know that my voice matters whether it is verbal or written.  There was a time in my life that I was silenced and today I am blessed that that is not the case!

When I say that the act of writing and sharing my writing is a non-negotiable in my life, you don’t seem to grasp the power of my writing to me and to others.  For me, writing has kept me moving forward and grounded as a person.  For others, there seems to be beauty in how people connect with my experiences and the way that I think.  My writing impacts others deeply. The more I write, the more I am asked to write.  AND the more I write, the more I am driven to write. Whether I am writing about my personal journeys, the way that I walk in the world, or the way I see the world, I touch people’s lives; sometimes I even inspire people in some small ways.  And the bottom-line is that I love that my writing touches others, but I also simply write because it centers me and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Writing has always been part of my life.  This is a love affair that has nurtured my soul, given me hope, and held me when I was feeling a sense of loss.  This love affair has kept me close at times and also pushed me over the edge.  I have been forced to navigate deep emotions with this lover and to sometimes let go.  I have been writing to and about this lover since I can remember.  This is the only lover, I have fully trusted with my entire being.  At 14 years old, I wrote. . .

Writing,
t
he song of my heart;
t
he meaning of my mind;
t
he feeling of my soul;
I
s what makes me One.
(
Note: Today, I sometimes write Whole instead of One.)

Nothing has changed since I wrote these words nearly 35 years ago.

My writing is sacred.  I choose what to share and what not share, but I write every day of my life.  If I am not writing, you know that something is seriously wrong.  While you may not like my transparency, my nonfiction nature, or my writing style, I have many people that do.  And even if I didn’t, I love it and I love doing it!

Over time, I have begun to treasure the people that stop into my writing life.  I love that one friend periodically tells me that it is time to deepen my writing or watch my grammar.  I smile that I have about 4 or 5 religious leaders that follow my blog even though I am not from their tradition.  And then there is the distant friend, that let’s me know that one particular blog has transformed how they look at the challenges that they face.  Finally, I am touched that strangers and friends alike find the gifts in what I write.

Each and every day I grow as a writer.  I look back to what I have published over the years and I laugh.  How could anyone have ever published my articles? My writing is a work in progress. Each and every day I  continue to grow as a writer and pray that I do until my last breath.

Sharing my writing is the gift I give myself and the world (or those that choose to read).  🙂  The impact that my writing has on many others is humbling and beautiful.  So while you have no reason to see my writing as impactful, many do.

Taking a deep breath. . . . I was really stunned by your questioning my writing and your subsequent attitude.

No need to talk about this again. . . .Just wanted you to know.  There are two non-negotiables in my life. . .Loving my sons and my writing journey.

Hope we one day can spend time knowing each other better. . . it has been such a long time.

With love,
Chava

Read Full Post »

“Writing is like breathing, it’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what.”
~Julia Cameron,
The Right to Write: 
An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life

December Sunset

LightWave Journey, my blog, was created as a tool for finding light with each step of life’s journey.

I love the power of weaving words together.  Each word has the power to supply food for thought.  I actively strive to be impactful. Sometimes I succeed; often I don’t quite make it.  But the power of blogging is that I can go back and edit my thoughts and openly rethink my ideas. The bottom-line is that it is all about writing.

Mostly I don’t know who reads my blog; on a rare occasion, a post I have written gets 100 or even 200 hits. I am always touched when someone stops me and says that my writing has been inspirational.  Or when someone stops me and shares a story that they just needed to share.

My fingers have always helped me to explore the wild web of my thoughts.  I am a seeker who aspires to find sparks within the world I live.  Challenging times happen; tragedy and pain emerge with and without warning. My hope is to always find sparks even if only in the briefest of moments.

I was a born writer. From my earliest days, I remember dreaming that I would touch people with my words.  I used to think I would write children’s books, later I wanted to be a powerful journalist. Most of my life I have kept journals and today I dream of writing two books.  One of the books is being rooted from my blog and the other one is in the midst of being birthed; I will share more when the time is right.

Today writing is a springboard for the holy work I hope to one do and perhaps that I have already begun to do.  With every ounce of my being, I want my written voice to inspire others that are on their own journey. Sometime in my  teens, I figured out that each of life’s storms gave me kindle to ignite my words which would ultimately become my strongest tool towards healing.

My earliest years were filled with destructive storms and impenetrable darkness; my adult years included blocks of health challenges for people I adored. Life is what it is.  The gift is that I have ALWAYS strived to find the gifts within the challenges.  That is how I walk through the world; may I always do so!

Being transparent about my thoughts, my dreams, my hopes, and my memories is what I do! My fingers are the tool that I use to dig down deep into my soul and allow my being to emerge.

Many years ago, my journals became compromised due the the act of someone close to me.  The devastation left me unable to write again for many months; I just couldn’t do it.  Until the day that Dovi, my then 9 year old looked at me with tears in his eyes and told me that I needed to write.  My little boy knew that I would not emerge from my then darkness without taking my time to write.

For many months following that time, Dovi would check in with me daily to make certain that I was taking time to write.  As time moved on, he would ask me if I was writing whenever I had a moment of the grumps.  Forget when I was still having PMS, I had to spend my time acting like I was writing or my son would become crestfallen.  I love how Dovi intuitively knew that my writing had a core role in my mental health; both of my sons know that now.

The funny thing is that my kids have rarely ask me details about what I write.  They trust that as long as I am taking time to write that I am balanced and feeling at peace.  I know that Aryeh sometimes checks out my blog.  And Dovi will sometimes ask me to share my short children’s stories or ask me what I am creating.  Guess I will have to always continue to write if I want the guys to be ok. 🙂

May writing, like breathing, always be an active part of my life.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

 

 

Read Full Post »

  • Hebrew text reads - Kol haolam kulo gesher tzar meod vehaikar lo lfached klal

 

Kol ha-o-lam ku-lo gesher tzar me’od
V’ha-i-kar lo l’fached klal

The whole world is a very narrow bridge;
the important thing is not to be afraid.
~R
abbi Nachman of Bratslav

It is never too late
To start over again,
To feel again
To love again
To hope again…

(Adapted from Rabbi Harold Schulweis’ “It is Never Too Late”)

Near Eric's house

 Life has always been full for me.

Mostly I find the sparks of light and keep pushing forward.  Mostly.  And there are days that I simply live in the metaphors.  I ‘climb every mountain’, ‘shovel shit’ and of  course ‘cross that bridge when I come to it’.

The key is that I always keep moving. Sometimes I ‘tread water’; sometimes I ‘pedal backwards’, but I always navigate in hopes of landing in a better place.  And while I may have to cope with some fear, I remember that moving forward is not optional.  As long as I am striving to live authentically and working towards reaching my dreams, I will have what it takes to cross over ‘the bridge’.

Even now as I seek solid ground as I look for a professional position that can be positively impactful in every way AND as I try to grow as a mother, a writer and a human being.  I have come so far and have so far to go. Don’t we all?

One of the first songs/verses that helped me navigate the many bridges of my life was Reb Nachman’s, The World is a Narrow Bridge’.  This song has joined me in every step of my life since I can remember.  I remember singing these words to myself for hours during my very dark childhood, when living in Israel and facing the War in Lebanon and with the painfully health challenges that plagued my children’s lives.

With each and every personal, community, and world crisis – this melodic tune would soothes me and coaxes me into action and into believing that while the world is a narrow bridge’, we can’t get stuck.  We have to trust that we can keep moving forward. As long as we realize that there is no room for allowing fear to get in the way of healing, life has the possibility of moving to a better place.

Even with loss comes memories.
Even with failure comes knowledge.

Life is a journey full of so many bridges that each of us will need to cross during our life times.  So many of them will feel daunting; some will feel freeing; all will lead us to transformation. May we have the strength to keep perspective with each and every step as we cross ‘our bridge’.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS-I have fallen in love with Elton John’s, ‘The Bridge’.  It is another reminder of how bridges ultimate add to the fabric of my life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5EOnArzU5Q

“The Bridge”
Music: Elton John
Lyrics: Bernie Taupin

I’ve seen the bridge and the bridge is long
And they built it high and they built it strong
Strong enough to hold the weight of time
Long enough to leave some of us behind

[chorus:]
And every one of us has to face that day
Do you cross the bridge or do you fade away
And every one of us that ever came to play
Has to cross the bridge or fade away

Standing on the bridge looking at the waves
Seen so many jump, never seen one saved
On a distant beach your song can die
On a bitter wind, on a cruel tide

[repeat chorus]

And the bridge it shines
Oh cold hard iron
Saying come and risk it all
Or die trying

[repeat chorus]

Read Full Post »