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Archive for June, 2017

A Letter to a Friend:

On several occasions you have questioned whether Facebook friends are really listening or whether you are being heard at all. You seemed to be wondering out loud whether Facebook is some sort of alternate reality.

You are not alone in wondering about the power or purpose of Facebook. Since joining Facebook in 2009, I have watched myself evolve in how I connect with the world in large part due to my interactions on this form of social media. We seem to be asking similar questions and perhaps coming to different assumptions.

fb

On a personal level, I have grown to love it!!! At nearly anytime Рday or night, I am surrounded by people that jazz my soul, inspire me to be a better person, nurture me when I am down, and/or support me when I need a kick in the tuchus (tush). And sometimes there is little or no real interaction; sometimes friends are just on the ride of life with me. The more direct I am, the more substantial  the help can be. Help has come in the form of information, resources, and/or supportive listening. My response to these interactions have helped me navigate into more healthy connections and out of friendships or connections that no longer serve me.
Facebook is not some sort of alternate reality. It is full of life (gifts and challenges), experiences, politics, information (true and false). People share what they are comfortable with sharing; this is no different than life in any other social realm. People share what they want you to hear and some are more authentic than others. This seems to be the reality whether on the phone with friends, at work, in synagogue or any house of prayer, at the park, or even the local grocery store.
When tough times hit, people can’t always help and don’t know what to say. The same can be said for all interactions.
Finding personal support for me seems to come mostly when I share what is going on and what I am doing about it. When I have been down for too long (which I have), the responses stop showing up with frequency. It doesn’t necessarily feel good, but each of us only have so much time in our lives to deal with our own crap let alone every one else’s crap. Sigh.
Politically, I have had to face that my strong opinions make people uncomfortable. And if someone is a really close friend, we learn to refrain from commenting on political posts or we accept the explosions that follow a ‘confrontation’. AND I have been known to end friendships or lose friendships when passions run deep. I love knowing where I stand with people even when it means that saying good-bye feels like the only option. I don’t have time to hang with people whose values I find troublesome.

I use Facebook to share all of the moving parts of how I walk in the world. I share poetry, sayings, politics, pain, joy, gratitude, and sometimes hell.

For me, Facebook has opened many doors to opportunities for learning, stretching, and connecting. While I love this tool, it is also one tool of many that I use in my life.

With love and light,
Chava

PS – Some examples of how Facebook has added to my life:

  1. Politically now, I have more information at my fingertips.
  2. Advice is always available for the asking!! And sometimes when not asked. ūüôā
  3. When I needed a job, opportunities surfaced.
  4. After I lost my job, friends from all parts of my life showed up to help; I am not sure how I would have survived if people didn’t come out of the woodwork.
  5. If I am sad or lonely, depressed or scared, there is always someone who shows up to comfort me.
  6. While many people have profoundly different views from me, there is always someone there to give me a different way of seeing things.
  7. Whenever I post a link to my blog, it gets read. ūüôā
  8. Whether I need a place to eat in Houston, a place to stay in Washington DC or a good book to read – Ask and I will end up with a ton of answers.
  9. I have found the best sayings just by lurking on Facebook. Did you know probably have over 70 pages of quotes that I have saved?
  10. AND so much more!!!!!!!

 

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I have a problem. I am an addict!!! I just can’t get enough of that white powdery substance. . . .SUGAR.

With this in mind I decided to begin a new health journey  and ask for support from my friends. I did this once before and it lasted for over six years ago; the great news is that I have kept 65 lbs. off, but now I need to go back to the choices I made back then.

The good news is that all of those healthy changes made a difference and now it is time for me to begin again.

Hineini, Here I am!!

Today I started prepping for my latest health journey. Instead of counting 45 days until my 45th birthday, I am counting 21 days of healthier eating, aka no sugar. My hope is that at the end of 21 days, I will start another health journey while remaining steadfast on refraining from sugar too.

Over and over again, I have heard that it takes 21 days to create new habits. So here is the first habit I will be working to change – NO SUGAR!

Making 21 Countdown chartIn preparation for today, I made a fun little check off chart. I did this for two reasons. One, I needed to create a ritual/visualization around checking off the days. Two, I wanted a prop to share my thinking about this journey.

As a sugar addict, I need to own that part of my personality and look for ways to make better choices.

AND here is the ask, please celebrate my successes and support me through my challenges. If this isn’t comfortable for you, simply ignore me. ūüôā

Transformation needs to happen. Being healthy is literally a non-negotiable.  So tonight at sundown, I will officially begin my 21 day countdown.  I will share my journey via Facebook and my blog.

Don’t hesitate to ask me how I am doing. Your mentioning it won’t sabotage the work; in fact, it will probably help me remember that I am not alone!

l’Chayim, to life,

Chava

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Your energy introduces you. . . .Truth.

While I am far from perfect, I tend to walk into almost any new environment with warmth and love in my heart. I can’t help but smile at babies or any child, seniors, and animals. Beauty always brings tears to my eyes and authenticity jazzes my soul.

With each step, I remember that my energy is what people meet first.

I love that people are drawn to my energy. My only hope is that I wish I could be healthier, more vibrant, and even more inspirational. And yet, I also love that even if I am not all of these things, I still have the ability to make strangers smile, dogs wag their tails, and children play with me.

On a good day, I make new friends wherever I go and sometimes, I am blessed to connect with a new soul friend with barely a word spoken.

Beauty surrounds me.

On a bad day, I can become hyper-focused and forget that regardless of what is happening, life is not all about me or what I need to accomplish. My hope is that when I get like this, I can turn it off quickly. Sometimes I am lucky enough to do just that.

A few years ago, I visited one of my congregants post surgery. As she laid surrounded by loved ones in ICU, I walked into the room. With tears in my eyes, I was instantly transformed. I remembered another time and place when I had no words for my own family who painfully and awkwardly stood vigil for one of our loved ones. But within moments, I asked the family if I could pray with one of the most beautiful souls I knew. And when they said yes, I found myself chanting and praying with an intensity that felt right for that moment. Fortunately, this horrific chapter had a happy ending; my congregant was able to not only live, but thrive again.

Pain and memories are part of life.

For some reason, the above hospital visit touched me deeply. Walking into this congregant’s hospital room nearly paralyzed me. And yet, I quickly realized that there was no time for self-absorption; this was a time for unconditional love. In fact nearly every time I walk into a new environment, I find myself propelled towards warmth and love.

Over time, connections evolve and become grounded in a beautiful reality. But it is always my hope that when you meet me, you will meet a sweet energy that makes you want to get to know who is walking through the door.

 

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Dear Sleep,

The time has come for us to have a serious conversation. While I understand that you are indeed in hiding, I would welcome the opportunity to visit with you. Now that it is 4:33 AM, I am not certain that the visit will be as long as I desire, but you know I have learned to take what I can get.

Though we don’t seem to know one another well, there are a few things that I’d like you to know about me so that we can build on our relationship.

  1. After a painful period of time and back surgery, I am taking really good care of myself. So. . .you’d be settling with someone who is strong and fit.
  2. I am open to a long term relationship. Snuggling up with you would be a gift.
  3. There is no need for jealousy. While I am blessed to have a fabulous group of friends, I don’t want to sleep with them.¬†At the moment, there is no one else that will compete with our relationship. . . so it will just be the two of us. Wouldn’t that be special!?!?
  4. Do you believe in keeping me from all sweetness or are you upset that I sometimes indulge in different forms of sweetness. If that’s a problem, I will stop partaking in sweet products. I truly don’t want you to be feel like too much sweetness is a good thing.

    tea latte in favorite mug

    Kosi R’vayah-My Cup Runs Over (Psalm 23:5)

  5. Just for the record, I don’t have a drinking problem. ūüôā Did you know that a shot of whisky does not help you sleep, so instead I drink chamomile tea.
  6. Do you think exercise before bed will interfere with sleep? Tonight, I did my new stretches per instructions from my new Physical Therapist. . . .Wondering if that is what kept me awake.
  7. At 51, I seem to be struggling with my internal thermostat. Hoping that you don’t mind that I sometime violently kick off the covers in my sleep. If this is a problem, I can re-think how I address the whole carbon footprint reality. You do know that #45 doesn’t believe in climate change, so he maybe he is correct and I can keep the air conditioning as cool as possible.
  8. You don’t have to go “changing, to try to please me, I love you just the way you are.”

I am so excited to hopping into bed with you tonight My Beloved Sleep. May this be the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.

With love & light,
Chava

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A friend of mine just send me a quote that resonated to the deepest part of my soul.

The only way you can endure your pain is to let it be painful.
~Shunryu Suzuki , Zen monk and teacher
who helped popularize Zen Buddhism 

After over 11 weeks of pain and now healing, I have a new insight into the rhythm of life. The challenge of dealing with excruciating pain gave me the opportunity to reflect on not only myself, but on the larger wold.

Almost nothing about life is simple or easy; sometimes it is simply hard or feels like too much.

While March’s hell took over my ability to function and forced me to ground myself differently than I ever have, the sadness that permeated my being over the ensuing weeks may have been worse in many ways. With too much time on my hands and an inability to focus on writing, reading, loved ones, or work, I went towards darkness. Sometimes it was as if I was in a very long tunnel; the only problem was that I couldn’t see the other end of the tunnel; I couldn’t see the light.

Even with my beautiful sons, sweet phone calls from loved ones, and a couple of visitors, I felt more alone than I may have felt since my early years. My heart and soul ached with deep loneliness and the world’s politics made me feel hopeless. Even as my body healed, I understood that I was grieving deeply. I was grieving from the lost dreams – personally and globally. With each passing day, the daily beatings left me battered and bruised and sometimes even hyperventilating.

What I learned during the darkest moments was that I couldn’t hide from my pain. There was no cocoon big enough to hold me and no one there to hear the depths of my pain. Although my beautiful sister-in-law reached out to me daily, I wasn’t able to be consoled; I also chose to only share about the physical pain. I believed and still believe that the depth of what I was feeling was too much to put on any one person’s¬†shoulders. So instead, I allowed me the time and space to go through it.

The good news is that I have always found light in the darkness and as the sparks have begun to make room for more and more light, I have slowly become more grounded. With each passing day, calmness emerges and light shines a little more brightly; not only my body is healing, but so is my soul.

The single most valuable tool for healing came from giving my pain a voice. As we all know, it is impossible to sweep boulders under a carpet. I’ve tried, but to no¬†avail. So with perseverance, I started naming my fears and addressing my pain by actively allowing myself the room to feel and even to cry before trying to move mountains.

Even as I share a taste of what was weighing me down, know that I am aware that all is intertwined with each other and nothing stands on it’s own even if it may appear that it does. There are many parts of life’s puzzle that impact each of us; I am no different.

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.

Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.

All things connect.
~Chief Seattle

“My back hurts!!!!
The physical pain may have been hurled at me the way that bombers explode their targeted locations with precision, but finding the right doctors and medications put me on a healing journey. Surgery probably saved my ability to walk and now physical therapy, yoga, and losing weight will move me to an even better place. My health journey has had horrific moments, but loving practitioners and doctors have made each passing day less painful.

Core Belief Tree June 2017.FinalOnce I started finding ways to navigate the pain, I began to see that my back’s pain was in part due to my need to strengthen my core¬†and better align my soul with my roots (values) while working towards what I really want in my life (the fruits of my labor). I needed and still need to become a healthier¬†and stronger me so that ‘real’ healing can occur on every level. That meant and still means that in order to be healthy I need to better engage with my root values so that my core can thrive. And only through pollination will¬†blossoms sprout fruit. This realization lead me to understand that I had to navigate a lot of moving parts in order to blossom and ultimately see the fruits of my labor. This light bulb moment followed a fabulous online class art class that I took before surgery.

The vision above is what emerged. I have drawn several different versions of this tree and each one brings more clarity.

What the ‘F’ am I going to do? I never have enough money!
As a Jewish Educator and a single mother, money has often been a challenge for me. I have always faced without hesitation and mostly with a positive attitude. It is what it is. Yet. . . .illness, medical bills, and reality got to me during much of my recovery. Still, I tried to seek positive solutions to overwhelming fear.

A¬†couple of weeks ago, I posted the following question on Facebook, “How are you becoming fiscally more socially responsible?” The first response came from someone who believed that this question can only be asked of people that have a means. Initially, I I was asking that question because I literally don’t have enough money to thrive, but yet I really do have what I need-mostly. On most months, I can prioritize, but it is really tight. And getting sick did nothing to make it easier.

My tight budget got tight enough to put me over the edge. With an inability to drive, my sons had to start taking Uber (no good transit system here), I had to buy medications and more medications, I had to meet a deductible that was outside of anything I could afford, and I had to pay co-pays for every doctor’s appointment. And when I needed to go to the ER because I was fighting an infection, I opted out of going; I just didn’t have the mandatory¬†$400 for an ER visit. (Fortunately, my decision to wait until morning worked out just fine.) The good news is that I had a credit card or two; the bad news is that I used them. A tax refund paid off most of the debt and this month, I finished paying off the rest except that left me with barely enough to navigate this month.

Even as I write¬†about my realities, I am so grateful that this is simply a ‘first world problem’. I profoundly aware of how fortunate I really am; I am always ok. I am blessed that one of my sons works and gives nearly every penny towards our household. And while¬†things are tight, I always make it and I always have. Mostly. Are things easy? No. Do I waste much money? Sometimes. . .still I am careful. Was I fortunate enough to navigate the hundreds of dollars that illness has thrown in my direction? Yes. In my illness, I figured out how to pay down payments for surgery, medications, other unexpected expenses.

Regardless of the monthly medical expenses, the doctors and hospital still need to be paid, I am making it and even starting to hope I will have a solid savings plan in place by September if not sooner.  I have food on the table, an ability to cook in a sweet little kitchen, a beautiful home with an amazing landlord, a car (with car payments), and a lovely neighborhood. Basically, I really do have most of what I need/want. I have a beautiful life.

Back to my Facebook question, I believe that everyone of us can make socially conscious financial decisions. Are you directly supporting sweatshops or purchasing your clothing through thrift shops and clothing swaps?  Do you buy chocolate bars at dirt cheap prices or limit yourself to a fair-trade chocolate bar every few months? Are you using the dryer or hanging your clothing on a clothesline or drying rack? When you go to grocery stores or any store, do you use paper or plastic? Perhaps you simply bring your own bags; I know I do. While I am far from perfect, I am trying to make socially conscious decisions at every opportunity and if I am really thoughtful, I am also saving money with each decision.

This month, I am fixated on three very real realities, I want to purchase a compost, I need to put off going to a dentist for¬†a little bit longer, and I am sad that I can’t make all the donations that I want to make. There are a lot of beautiful nonprofits doing amazing work. Let me know if you’d like to give to any my favorite organization; I definitely have a bunch I could suggest. Some of my deepest sadness comes from the fact that I am not giving as I would like or doing enough. But I do know that I am doing the best that I can AND the more I learn, the more I try to make responsible and loving decisions not only for our family, but also for the greater world.

Our World Feels Like It is Falling Apart
Mother Earth is crying. Human beings are being delegitimized based on where they live, the color of their skin, their religion, their socio-economic status, their gender, and/or their sexual orientation. Add these realities to the fact that not only the United States government, the Israeli government, as well as so many other governments are filled with ill equipped leaders who are toxic at the least and seemingly fascist at the worst.

And regardless of how bad it is, I am amazed at the angels that are showing up. Whether at rallies, at organizing meetings, at the offices of elected officials, or on the street, I am meeting passionate people who want to make our world a better place. I have even been touched by elected officials who have integrity and are helping guide those that want to do whatever they can.

Healing My Body, My Mind, and My Soul
I took the weeks needed to heal not only my body, but also my mind and my soul. Admitting that the pain felt overwhelming and I felt alone was the only way to move forward. At times crying cleansed me and sometimes it paralyzed me for a moment or more, but in the end I have worked through the deepest depths of loss. I have allowed myself time to grieve and at times I am allowing myself the space to¬†still grieve.¬†In so many ways it feels like I have nine lives or perhaps twenty-nine lives. ūüôā

Living is holy work and I am absolutely up for the task. Hineini, Here I am!

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – To remind me of the power of ‘Choosing Life’, I think back to John Denver’s song, I Want To Live. There is so much beautiful work to do! Are you with me?

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