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Archive for June, 2016

yahrzeit candle

Upon hearing of someone’s death we say, “ברוך דיין האמת / Baruch dayan ha-emet,” Blessed is the true judge.

While I often feel compelled to follow tradition, this expression is the source of great struggle for me. I don’t think Gd’s judgement causes death or holds truth. . .I just don’t. Tsunamis happen; earthquakes and volcanoes destroy; accidents occur. . . . Perhaps all of these happen because of things that humans have done, but I don’t think there is a force in the world that literally decides ‘who shall live and who shall die’.

I am so tired of people dying tragically, young, or with pain. Every time someone gets sick, gets murdered, tragically dies, or ages painfully – I struggle. Each time, a family has to bury their newborn or young child, I struggle.Basically, I struggle with the concept that any of this can be ordained.

Life is precious – all the moving parts of life, even death can be profoundly beautiful and feel Gd-like. And yet, I don’t feel that way when I hear about terrorism, murder, sudden accidents, or any tragedy. If I believed it all came from Gd, I couldn’t be the person I am. Sh^% happens. People die. Free-will causes great good in the world, horrible atrocities, and everything in the between.

As I embrace life, I find myself traumatized by the very notion that Gd may preordain our lives. I know that there are many that have such a belief, but as for me, I need to stick with the notion that godliness is possible.

May we all give and experience godliness energy in our midst. May we all have a spark that lights up the world for good.

 

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There are few coincidences in life.

This morning, I woke up with a spring in my step. It didn’t matter that I am sick, what mattered is that I am being greeted by My Morning Pages.

For the last month, I have been finding my voice through what Julia Cameron refers to as Morning Pages. Each and every morning (ok, nearly every morning), I have woken up to write 3-6 pages of stream of consciousness writing.  By writing first thing in the morning, I refrain from filtering my thoughts; instead I allow my thoughs to simply flow without editing each sentence before it hits the paper.

This morning felt a little different that previous mornings because I found myself literally celebrating the power of what my morning pages have done for me and how I have grown since I started writing them a month ago.

Here is the synopsis:

  1. One month ago, I started writing my morning pages – after many years away from this practice.
  2. Two weeks ago, I added the practice of ending my morning pages by asking myself questions about how I would move forward from whatever I was navigating during a specific day. And then I would pick a Hope card (from BoneSighArts.com) and an Angel Card. On most days, the card I pick allows me to soar while feeling more grounded.
  3. One week ago, I had the inner strength to let go of a friendship that had broken my spirit and shattered  my heart. Somehow I found the grace to release the bond that had been holding tight for way too long.
  4. Since the beginning of writing my Morning Pages, I have been really sick three times. Through finding my authentic voice, I am finally being able to purge the toxicity that has been festering inside my body.
  5. On at least three different occasions, I have asked friends for what I need. And wow, I have felt so loved and supported.
  6. I am healing in ways I didn’t even know I needed to heal.
  7. Each morning, I start my day by drinking a couple of glasses of water and sometimes a smoothie. I love that I am nourishing my body at the same time I am nurturing my soul.

So while I have navigated some really hard stuff, I have also found a healthier place to live.

With each passing morning, I have found that I am taking better care of myself in more ways that via my writing. I have been painting furniture, cooking good food, taking longer walks more frequently, and chanting.  I am also allowing myself to go inward more and accepting that I can’t talk to everyone, but I have been sending cards to my beloved friends.

Conscious reflection is adding so much more to my life. I am taking time to see the gifts and the challenges. And more often than not I am finding the gifts within the challenges.

There are many mornings, when I have started my Morning Pages with deep pain at the core of my being, but ended my writing time with a calm and peaceful heart. They are grounding me and allowing me to literally grow my roots and become spiritually stronger.

While it may seem that I am more raw or sick more often, in actuallity I am allowing myself to be more of what I am.

The chameleon in me has slowly stopped fitting in quite the same way; I have learned to say what I need and what I want. I have learned to share my deepest dreams, my hopes for the future, and my innermost thoughts.

Sometimes my thoughts and feelings are embraced and sometimes it is obvious that friends and community would rather I stop approaching the world with such an open heart. But what I have come to learn is that I am so much happier being transparent. I don’t have to walk alone and close my intensity off from the world.

One of the best parts of this transformation is that I am not sure that I need anyone’s approval now. Maybe I am only able to say that because I really do have several different pockets of friends that value me for the person I am. With that reality, I have come to a better place and I am having an easier time.

Oct 20 - sunrise Pantano Wash
I love where I am now – professionally, spiritually, and personally. And I am a work in progress; I am a seeker. So I am constantly stretching, growing, and navigating new paths. And with each new path, I am surrounded by beloveds.

My Morning Pages journey has helped me to find  more calmness and inner peace with who I am. I am living by the values that I so strongly believe. Confirmation came to me when I found  these two wonderful saying in the last few days:

To tell the truth is to become beautiful, to begin
to love yourself,value yourself. And that’s
political, in the most profound way.
June Jordan

~ ~ ~

and the universe listened. 
Terri St. Cloud

There is a huge shift taking hold;. I am AWAKENING in every way.

Politically, I speak my mind.
Spiritually, I share my soul.
Consciously, I live my life.

I have found my voice and I now live in a world that I can be me – totally me.
How awesome is that?!?!?!

Onward!
Now & Always,
Chava

Note: OK, I do bite my tongue when I find out someone likes Donald Trump or Binyamim Netanyahu because I have decided, for the most part, that anything I say would not penetrate their skull. If you like either of these two characters, chances are you are probably not part of my inner circle. So, why spend too much time trying to enlighten you. I don’t need to talk just to hear myself heard.

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My entire being has grown raw.

50 dead!

And we are now starting are next political crisis. Progressives vs Conservatives. Both defending their views while hundreds of children, partners, and loved souls are no longer alive in this world.

AGAIN!

One man causes terror in the name of his radical beliefs and many are ready to condemn all Muslims.

I am so sick to my stomach. 50 dead. 50 people who were tragically murdered. 50 human beings who never got to say good-bye to their loved ones. And thousands of people, hopefully millions are now mourning for 50 now dead souls.

Tragedy strikes again.

This is not ok!

 “AR-15 Rifle Used in Orlando Massacre Has Bloody Pedigree. it was used to slaughter first graders at Sandy Hook, murder Batman fans at Colorado movie theater, kill county workers at a holiday party in San Bernardino.

Now the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle has the dubious distinction of being the weapon of choice for a homosexual-hating gunman” CORKY SIEMASZKO

Something has to be done.

This afternoon Aryeh lit a candle in honor of those lost to this brutality and to the beautiful soul that opened up this bar in honor of her brother’s life journey.

Tomorrow I will go to a vigil. There I will hopefully meet the right person, the person who will open the door to my activism around making sure that an aggressive bastard has no legal ways of carrying a gun or rifle of any kind!

My heart is breaking. So many people lost in the name of mental illness, radical beliefs, or simply because of some of their deep seeded desires.

Years ago, my friend Susan Windle referred to me as a Spiritual Warrior. It is time for me to birth the Warrior’s spirit and better learn how to sit down at the table with those who have different roles so that we can really stop the massacres that keep happening.

And to my friend that shared the horrific rhetoric of one Muslim shiekh, I want to say that I have heard some repulsive words come out of both rabbis and other faith based leaders. In fact there are those people that firmly stand with the following Judeo-Christian teaching that is found in the bible. It says in Leviticus 20:13, within the Judeo-Christian Bible, “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” Sometimes religion sure focuses on narrow minded thinking. I am so happy to stand with those that seek understanding and healthy ways to interpret or maybe re-frame some of the difficult texts that our part of all faith based traditions.

Without modern day interpretations or a respect for when ancient texts were written, all of our teachings can lead to darkness. The reason I left Orthodox Judaism so many years ago was because I did not believe the Torah was written or inspired by God.  I see the Torah as our guide to life. And like any good book, we learn to synthesis the information and then grow as we study. As a progressive Jew, I think of our Torah as the Living Torah, it is my job to find meaning in the teachings and practices. It is my guide and I treasure it. But do I believe all of it’s teachings are just? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Before I understood the complete ramifications of prejudice, there was a persOne_race_human_eV2on in my life who was extremely prejudiced. For the first time in my adult life, I encountered someone that repulsed me because of their  core beliefs, so I found passive aggressive ways to cope. While this wasn’t a fabulous way to move forward, it felt right at the time. One thing that I did was to engage in conversations so that I could enlighten this man. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over too well. And then one day, I found the most wonderful t-shirt. And thanks to Google images, I found it again. I don’t know who made this, but I do know it was the final way that I knew, at that time, to cope with hatred. Until it fell apart, I wore it every time I saw this person. My guess is that he wondered if I owned any other t-shirts. 🙂

I am now a little wiser than I once was. With that in mind, I realize that it is time to navigate the very real realities that exist and do my part to help things evolve. Lighting a candle was introspective, going to a vigil is supportive, but perhaps I need to connect with some of the organizations doing good work with gun violence issues. Here is one important link, I know I have a few friends that have worked with Everytown for Gun Safety, http://everytown.org/act/.

50 human beings dead, let’s not pause any longer.

There are so many layers to taking care of the human race. Let’s make connections with one another and  do our part collectively. We can make a difference.

“If you want connection, it’s because you are connection. Be what you want, and then it happens all around you. If you want love, be it. You’ll have more love than you know what to do with. Whatever you are inside, you receive a thousand fold on the outside.” ~ Adyashanti

Onward – Now & Always,
Chava

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Feb 2015  Walking from behind

be softer with you.
you are a breathing thing.
a memory to someone.
a home to a life.

Nayyirah Waheed’s Precious Words

 

 

(Note – Over the coming weeks, I will be exploring the power of social media. The connections I have made and the growth I have experienced has helped me to grow exponentially more than I ever would have before social media touched my life. I want to shout out a special thank you to those that engage in this platform and inspire all of us to stretch and to evolve into even healthier human beings than we already are. I adore my tribe, all of my tribes. )

Transformation. . . I am a work in progress.

Creating a healthy body image has been and continues to be a very real struggle for me. I could probably find someone to blame for my fairly horrific body image – my mother, my childhood neighbors/classmates, or maybe even the media. And yet, that wouldn’t be fair.

Whatever happened in the past or how I have seen women portrayed in the media is irrelevant; I am responsible for who I am today and what I do with my memories and perceptions of the past. It is truly a blessing to be able slowly transform my self image and fall in love with woman I am.

While I still pause when it is time to look at myself in the mirror, I have mostly stopped the negative self talk. I am relieved to know that I no longer feel trapped in these words that I recently found in an old journal:

“If given a choice, I’d much rather not look at myself in the mirror or get on the scale. I’d rather not see a photograph of me or see my reflection over the water. I hate the way that I look. Sigh.”

Over the last several years, I have done the holy work of transforming how I see myself. Five years ago, I shared my health journey via blogging and social media; that was huge for me, I shared information about my diet/lifestyle changes and subsequent weight loss – 65 lbs. Later, I consciously looked at myself in the mirror and actively re-framed how I saw myself. I stopped calling myself fat and started seeing beauty in the person I was. Quietly, I began seeing myself as an Amazon Woman – strong, vibrant, healthy, and physically beautiful. I grew to really love me! And selfies, I learned not only how to take selfies, but to revel in how good I sometimes looked in those photos. I started having fun seeing myself in a photo.

In the midst of my transformation, one of the world’s most radiant souls entered my world.  It was truly an accidental meeting. While living in Tucson, I decided that I had to find a source for purchasing fair trade clothing. Via the internet I found a little photography/dance studio that sold the clothing. The only problem was that the studio was in the midst of transitioning the clothing to another location. I was so bummed because I couldn’t figure out where to find the new store. Jump ahead a week or two, I found Fed by Threads (fedbythreads.com) and then I tripped over the stunning work of Jade Beall, a co-owner to this awesome business. (Note: While Jade’s work as a photographer has helped me see all women, including me, as beautiful. Fed by Threads is a business that values everyone; experiencing the warmth and care of the other co-owner Alok Appadurai has also been transformative.)

Jade was a photographer who captured so many precious women for her book, The Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project. Each and every photo had women that were seen as beautiful for the who they were; no photo was altered in any way. The photos showed women in all their glory; stretch marks and post birth bodies alike were celebrated, as they should be.

After finding Jade’s website, http://www.jadebeall.com/, I felt like I met an angel. Not only were her photos full of love for all people, so were her words. From there I started following this incredible soul via Facebook; I couldn’t and still can’t get enough of her energy. She values people deeply; she treasures all life forces. And through viewing how Jade struggles and ultimately embraces her  own journey, I have learned to better embrace my essence and the journey that is part of my being; I have learned to see myself as beautiful.

One of my deepest disappointments about leaving Tucson was leaving Jade Beall without having her photograph me. And I am hoping that the day comes when I can have that opportunity. This amazing photographer has helped heal so many of my open wounds. How awesome to know that I am not alone; there is a stunning tribe of women who have emerged from her love and guidance, her insight and wisdom. It is, in large part, through her work and the love of her Facebook community that I have evolved to where I am today.

I still have a lot of work to do. Transformation is a continuous process.

A car accident this past December triggered a downward spiral that lasted too long. Suddenly I had to face my old demons as my body image plummeted. I stopped taking good care of my body and gained some previously lost weight. Fortunately, over the last several weeks I am again re-framing how I see myself and starting to take control of my health journey. As long as I actively take care of me, I am better able to boost my confidence while becoming more grounded.

The journey is not only about making better life choices, it is also about taking time for my soul through writing, chanting, drumming, and just allowing creativity to flow through me. I am so excited to be emerging from my darkness!!! I am returning to healthier choices and nurturing the woman I am. And I am also reaching out to new and old friends; I am asking for what I need and feeling supported in return.

An important part of my returning to a better place was not about all the changes I was making. Before I could evolve, I had to find my own beauty that what not wrapped up in what the scale told me. I had to love the person – inside and out.

Being transparent is the gift I will continue to give myself; it is ultimately how I will thrive and become a healthier me. I don’t want to hide, I want to open my arms wide and embrace the world as I am while always trying to be the best me possible.

Onward!!!!
Now & Always

 

 

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We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

Written by Elizabeth Alexander
for President Barak Obama’s Inauguration; January 2009
 

Words are powerful and empowering.  Whether I am reading them or weaving them together to articulate my own thoughts, words inspire me to explore what is and to make sense of what can be.
 
Words give my free flowing thoughts foundation; they ground me. When I read other’s thoughts, I realize that I am either not alone or that I am surrounded by both brilliant and limited thinkers. Time and again, I am amazed how all people can influence others by how they articulate themselves in speech or writing.
 
Personally, writing allows me to feel like I am being heard. As someone who has been marginalized, I have found that simply the act of writing my thoughts allows me to release the myriad of ideas that are sometimes trapped inside my head; the release also opens my heart space so that I somehow feel heard even if it is only the paper that is receiving my thoughts. In truth, once I have written my thoughts, I often feel more comfortable sharing them to anyone who will listen.
Lisa Libowitz Prescott, Arizona

Prescott, Arizona; Photo Courtesy of Lisa Libowitz

Have you ever heard the echo when you yell from a mountaintop? I love the exhilaration that comes with the responsive echo. That is the way I feel each and every time I take time to write what is weighing on my conscience and even within my subconsciousness.  The more that I write, regardless of whether it is my own personal journals, my blog, or my Facebook/Twitter posts, the more I feel at home within my being.

Over the last few weeks, I have realized:

  1. how important writing has become to my soul. . . . even more than before if that is possible.  This sweet realization is leading me to feel more whole.
  2. how I love to write notes and journal entries with my own handwriting. I love the feel of the pen or marker in my hands, the touch of the paper, and way the writing tools flow over the paper.
  3. how I equally need pen/paper and my  computer. I need both handwriting and electronic keyboard to articulate my thoughts; I also need my voice.
  4. being able to articulate my need for wrapping things in a box with all the words that I need to say before I can let go. Only once I give voice to my feelings am I am able to move forward. Just the act of releasing my thoughts or sharing my heart space allows me to let go. When I can’t do this for whatever reason, I tend to grow sad or frustrated that my purging of words does not always work well for others; I am learning to navigate this.
  5. if I am not writing, I must be in a dark place. Writing fuels my soul.

Words empower me to do what Emily Dickinson called  ‘dwell in the possibility’. I would not be the woman I am if I did not have my writing.

May all writing always exhilarate my spirit, give me wings to soar, and help me to navigate the many voices in my head.

Onward!
Now & Always

PS – Over the next few weeks, I will be playing with ways to my very own gift box of my favorite words. Let me know if you have any creative ideas for how to do this. 🙂

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Sacred Vessel

“it was when she dipped deep inside,
and scooped out her very essence –
and then stretched her arms outwards
with her hands full of stars –
it was when those stars passed thru
her fingers and out to the world –
it was then she understood she was a sacred vessel.
that we are all sacred vessels –
with the entire universe flowing thru us –
and all we need to do is open and be.”
© Terri St. Cloudfrom https://www.bonesigharts.com/store/sacred-vessel

https://www.bonesigharts.com/store/sacred-vessel

Rewritten to honor where I am at this moment. A week off is leading to some empowering realizations and growth:

Moving Forward:
The treasured time between now and later.
Days, hours, minutes, pass. . . .each moment brings me closer to finding balance.
This is my opportunity to do a cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of my soul.

I will never experience this passage of time again. While I am in awe of how I emerged with the love and devotion of many throughout every step of my life; I am also aware of how much I have learned to renegotiate life whenever needed. Thriving is a non-negotiable, yet I am, like each of us, navigating the gifts and challenges that have been part of my life; I am also celebrating how the tides turn and  the many ripples soothe my core at any given moment.

Now comes the holy work of grounding myself. Finding a new rhythm, processing the experiences of the last years. I am creating a my spiritual space in Houston and more importantly within my nefesh, my soul.  The work can be a little overwhelming, but incredibly sacred too.

Over the last year, I have felt like I was standing in quicksand on more than one occasion. And yet, I never went down. While the trek taught me a ton, it has also been hard at times. And yet, I stretched and I grew. . . how beautiful is that!

I love that I always find good within the challenges; I love that I find beauty in nearly every chapter of life. And yet, there is a cost.  As someone who is profoundly intense, I struggle to shut down and simply free my mind of all thoughts. Instead I actively engage in life by consciously going inward, reflecting, and healing; I also do what I can to make the world a better place by caring and loving others.

What does Moving Forward look like? I seem to be in a quieter place allowing for the silence to penetrate my being. Taking time to connect with people that want to see my soul; reading writings that touch my core; and writing from the deepest parts of my heart.

My body, my mind, and my soul is reaching for the stars, clearing the fog, and striving to settle into a new rhythm.

Emerging
Thriving, reaching, living
Becoming the woman I was always meant to be.
I am making it!

Inside and out – I am trusting each step as I reflect where I’ve been, where I am, and where I am going.

Onward – now & always,
Chava

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