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Archive for January, 2016

Connecting is what I do. I have grown to love that about myself. And yet, I have had the door slammed in my face. . .not once, not twice, but multiple times. I have had other doors close more gradually without intense pain.

To say that I am strong doesn’t really cover it, sometimes I move forward with ease and sometimes the pain has been known to stay with me – forever (at least to-date).

When doors close or sometimes feel like there closing, I struggle to breathe deeply. The pain is so very overwhelming and my heart feels the need to race. At first the tears feel like they will never stop falling and then the metaphoric tears continue to fall. Those tears create puddles around my soul and remind me that perhaps it is time to protect myself by building a moat.

While the moat may surround me, it won’t ever protect me fully. As long as I love and connect as I do, I will remain open to loving connections and profound losses.

May I be blessed to hold and be held in a fullness that nurtures my spirit and builds bridges that fortify my soul.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chava's Shadow 17January2016Silence is an answer.
While your love is deep
Your quiet resonates more deeply.

As vulnerability courses through my being
Your silence triggers the pain that rests just below the surface.
Distance is our reality and yet it hasn’t always been that way.

Trust evaporates when it isn’t contained.
Sometimes I need to be metaphorically held.
Stroked. Nurtured. Hugged.

A kind word
A sweet note
A present message

Sharing my vulnerability isn’t easy
Yet it is part of growing connections
I am not as strong as I thought I was
and maybe I never was.

Breathing in the truth. . .
Silence speaks louder than words. . . .
I’m listening.

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Tornado Sunrise 17January2016

Sunrise with hint of looming tornado Photo Courtesy of Iris Koller

Each day I awake
to the rhythm of my heartbeat.
to the intensity of my soul.
to my breath.

Each day I
feel the holiness of the world.
thank G!D for the beauty that surrounds me.
pray for the strength to move through the storms of life.

Each day I
believe in human kindness.
trust in my beloved village.
hope that life’s nightmares will go away.

Each day I
watch the waves of life crash against the waters’ edge.
sensing that that there is more I can do to make the world a better place.
and yes, doubting that I have what it takes.

And yet
giving up is not an option.
managing the turbulence that often guides me is my work.
striving to NEVER GIVE UP.

Hineni, Here I am. . .
navigating passion that resonates deeply.
dreaming that calm settles the turbulent rush of the water.
believing that the rippling of pebbles makes the world a holier and more beautiful place.

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“It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude,
of breathing and stretching one’s arms again.”

~Mark Rothko

I am not sure that I was ever an artist, although that is the way I think of myself.

Today my canvas is any blank journal, my blog, and any word document. My writing makes me an artist with words. But when I was much younger, I loved my opportunities to express myself through the visual arts. Drawing, painting and crafts were part of my daily life.

Now the closest I get to the visual arts is that I doodle in my journal and sometimes on small rectangular canvases that will make up a piece of art work that I am calling the ‘Dance of Emergence’.  It is the gift I am currently making for myself to be unveiled for  my 50th birthday in February.  I have yet to decide if the artwork will be ongoing, but my guess is that it will.

And of course, I have an easel holding two blank canvases waiting for me in my office. Every day I walk into my office and feel like I am neglecting my  forlorn lover. And yet, I feel like I have nothing to give. I wake up with images that I want to paint or illustrate, but I don’t because I fear that I will neglect another piece that is calling to me. Another part of this painting relationship that leads me to no where is that I am afraid of doing it poorly.  What if I am really not the artist I remember?

With the above thoughts racing through my head, I often find it difficult to walk into an art museum or a fabulous gallery.  If I allowed my intense mind the room to be totally present, I would probably simply crumble to the ground in a heap of tears.  If you are wondering why that is, it is simple. As I look at amazing works of art, I feel like I missed something. I never learned about the different artists or artist expressions as I would have liked AND I’ve never done anything with my art.  (Note: I know that blogging is my medium and I definitely share that with the world, but still I haven’t nurtured my other love affair, the one that is waiting for me in the corner of my office.)

The good news for art patrons is that I simply put one foot in front of the other and when I love an exhibit, I allow myself to feel and to get lost in the works of art.

Chava looking at large canvas 3

Photo Courtesy of David J. Cooper

On Thursday, I may have finally been transformed when I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and saw the Rothko Exhibit. As I walked through the exhibit, I realized that I AM an artist; I am unique; I AM ME!

The moment of transformation came when I noticed how Mark Rothko’s paintings evolved over time especially after he suffered and aneurysm in 1968 which caused him to switch to less toxic paints and smaller canvases. This moment helped me realize that I have also evolved from the person I thought I would be to the person I am. While this realization is so simple, it is also so very profound to me.

For me, I can’t help but focus on the beauty of his creations and the hope I have from the little time I had enjoying each piece. I was mesmerized, totally enchanted. I can’t wait to go back in the next week or two.

Following the Rothko exhibit, I went to my new favorite creative space. I went to the Rothko Chapel which is also set in the beautiful Museum District of Houston. This tranquil space is quite possibly the most sacred environment that I have experienced in Houston. (More on that in my next blog. . . )

Mark Rothko’s work warmed my heart and gave me hope. I am not sure how that will impact me in the long run. Perhaps the two canvases sitting on my easel will be given the love that they deserve. Perhaps, my writing will continue to nourish my artistic soul. Anything is possible. The bottom-line is that Mark Rothko’s artistic gifts have ultimately inspired me to become more grounded and breathe more deeply .

I will embrace my new found knowledge; I am an artist. 🙂

 

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HIDING
is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves
until we are ready to come into the light.

Excerpted from CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
2015 © David Whyte
Spruce Knob, WV. Mark H Schneider!- Shai's cousin

Photo Courtesy: Mark H Schneider Spruce Knob, WV

This is Blog #500. Wow.

AND yesterday I hit 40,000 views of my blog! Another wow!!!

For me, writing is as important as my heartbeat or my breathing. If I am not writing, I am probably doing my own version of dying. What a gift that I am very much living!!!

For me, writing is the way I share myself fully, it is how I share my soul.  If I have taken the time to write, know that the words spoken were written from the fullness of my being in THAT moment. Writing is how I feel most comfortable in my skin.

~ ~ ~

When most people ask how any of us are, they are looking for simple responses. “Good” or “Fine” are the best answers for small talk. A quick and easy reply is what is expected.

Years ago, I determined that small talk doesn’t serve me well. Professionally and among strangers, I do what is expected; over time though, I have found ways to remain more authentic whenever possible. I have found friends and loved ones that inspire my true self to shine and for transparency.

There is a passion that runs deep within me. While people often describe me as warm and fun-loving, those that know me well know that I am much more complex than I appear at face value.  A simple description defies the essence of who I truly am.  In fact, it may be better to describe me as an similar to an onion; there are so many layers to who I am as a person.

When I connect with a soul friend, I’d rather be silent than share small talk. There is always so much going on inside my head and my heart. Life is full of ‘many moving parts’; my mind rarely quiets down.  At any given moment, I am contemplating my inner thoughts. At any given moment, I could be thinking about what is going on in my life or the lives of those I love; I may be thinking about my students, my community, or the world.  My soul friends tend to understand that my silence does not mean disinterest; it means I can’t wait until we have time to truly share.

Reality is that there are days I feel alone.  I know that my intensity is too much for my soul friends to absorb with regularity. I realize that it is through writing that I release my thoughts and I also realize that as I grow writing is not always enough; sometimes I have a deep sense of longing to share myself not only through my writing. Again, this is the gift of personal growth. There is a time for writing, a time for conversation, and a time for silence. This is called balance.

The rawness that is part of my every breath stopped being held by the container called my body. But I have learned to shed that container by allowing my passion to flow, sometimes through my tears, sometimes through my connections with others, and mostly through my fingers/hands. It is through my writing, journaling, and doodling that I find balance and that the triteness of my soul flows out into the universe. I love that I am not bound by any one way of living and communicating.

The game ‘Hide and Seek’ has empowered me to stretch and grow, to heal and thrive.  Going inward when I need to collect my thoughts, but not needing to stay there; my voice matters. . .I don’t have to hide any longer.  I still have to choose the right time to be fully present with other, to write from my heart, or to go inwards until the right forms of expression emerge.

Thanks for reading. . . .can’t wait to see what will be in the next 10, 20, 30, 50, or 500 blogs.

 

 

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I  AM LOVED

Two Naked Trees - Santa Monica California Beach - Jill Berkson Zimmerman

Photo Courtesy of Rabbi Jill Zimmerman

You are seen, You are heard
You are loved for who you are
You are enough, You are complete
You are loved

I am seen, I am heard
I am loved for who I am
There is nothing I need to change
I am loved, I am loved

I am seen, I am heard
I am loved for who I am
I am enough, I am complete
I am loved, I am loved
I am seen, I am heard, I am safe,
I am enough, I am worthy, I am loved
Words & Music by Karen Drucker

Life has given me incredible moments to stretch, grow, and thrive. Sometimes I  see these opportunities with awe, but other times, not so much.

I’ve always said that ‘the gift is the challenge’ which means that I strive to find light in even the darkest hours. Mostly I am able to reach that goal and at other times that goal feels like an impossibility.

Over and over again, I have faced some daunting struggles. Mental illness and violence destroyed some of the people closest to me and sometimes left me battered not only emotionally, but physically. Loss of too many pregnancies and adoptions forced me to question my belief in God. And watching my son Aryeh face life and death challenges again and again within his life as both an infant and later a teenager could have destroyed me. Dovi, my younger son, also had a very serious health challenge as a toddler.

When life is at it’s most painful, you don’t have time to cry or lash out at the world. You are forced to go through whatever it is you need to do. Survival has never been an option for me. Breathing deeply and pushing forward is truly the only viable option. At least this is so for me.

In 2007, I legally changed my name to Chava Gal-Or. I wanted my name to be a testimony to who I was and what I wanted to continually be. I chose the name Chava as a celebration to my surviving a sometimes traumatic existence. In my heart of hearts, I have always seen myself as a thriver; regardless of what experiences have come my way, I find a way to soar. And my last name is reminder that I want to find light in those I meet and to find the beauty or light in that which I endure regardless of how it appears on the outside. For the most part, I have done what I set out to do.

And over the years, I have also created the most amazing village that has supported me emotionally, spiritually, and even financially. My world has been full of gifts at every turn. Without a doubt, I know that blessings abound.

Today I shared with my chanting siblings how a recent car wreck challenged me physically and emotionally; in fact what I didn’t say is how broken I was actually feeling since the accident.  Just before the car crash happened, I was finally landing on my feet after a roller coaster ride that has been going on longer than I care to admit. The grand finale, in particular, caused me enormous self-doubt. How could I end up in a community capable of causing such spiritual chaos? As my position in Tucson came to a crashing halt, my spirit tumbled. The good news is that I chose not to openly stay in the rubble; I chose to do what I had to do so that I could ultimately emerge. But the being rear-ended suddenly reinforced that I was not doing nearly  as well as I thought.

The last few years have been hard, really hard. And there have been so many times that I felt alone and afraid how I could support my family; I honestly did not know how I would feed my family or handle another serious illness. Going to the dentist was and maybe still is a luxury. And I wasn’t sure how my closest friends could continue to hold me metaphorically or otherwise. And in truth, I was blessed with friends that were there in most ways. Some couldn’t be, but most chose to be.  When I felt most alone, it was because I couldn’t recognize what was in front of me.

When I was completely honest with myself, I knew that my name should have never been changed. I was so far from life or light; I was not thriving and I certainly had no idea how I would emerge. And yet, I persevered. With some incredible fortitude and a village to guide me, I was able to do what I had to do.

When I initially reached out to my chanting siblings today, I was bordering on lost.  Yet within moments, three of my chanting siblings reminded me that I have work to do.  There is a world that I have touched with my light and I have more work to do. Wow. . . I needed to be reminded just that. I am full of light, but I needed the reminder.

The moment of impact reinforced me to face the vulnerabilities that lie just below the surface. I live in fear that at any moment my life could end. Who would take care of my sons? Who would birth my dreams? I have so much left to do. Would anyone besides my sons miss me? Do I really make a difference in the world?

We all have our own skeletons, our hidden secrets, our intimate fears. I am no different.

My teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold reminded me that I am “surviving and thriving and reaping the hidden blessings.” And my friends reinforced it again and again.  The evidence is and was clear, I need to turn off the inner voice that sometimes tells me that I am a farce; I am a strong and vibrant woman.

I love that  I am healing, moving forward, navigating vulnerability, and feeling blessed. I am doing exactly what I needed to do.

(Note: in the early morning hours, I found a gift from my friend Rabbi Jill Zimmerman, she emailed me a link to I AM LOVED. Words & Music by Karen Drucker. I am still trying to wrap my head around Jill’s timing. This was the song I needed to hear as a reminder that I am loved and that I also really do love myself.)

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