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Archive for September, 2019

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world,
I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”
~ ÉMILE ZOLA

here my voice

Until very recently, I felt silenced.

For those that have known me through my college years and beyond, they may not believe me. But it is true.

I always believed that I wasn’t smart enough, articulate enough, or worthy of voicing my thoughts. I wanted and sometimes still want to be perfect. I hate when I make mistakes or when I share my thoughts only to realize that my thoughts are not clear when the words leave my mouth. AND I know that I am not alone here; none of us want to feel like we sound stupid.

While I could blame the fact that as a young child and teenager, I often went unnoticed or ignored. I also now understand that I ultimately had to find my voice. This came from keeping my eyes open, listening to the world around me, and probably growing stronger with each step I took. Finding my voice took time, a lot of time.

Over time I have learned to accept the many realities of dichotomies of life. Life is complicated. So much of what we perceive is not as clear as we hope. Once I came to grips with that I found that I could speak up and wrestle out loud. The world is really full of challenges that need our collective attention. Finding my voice meant that I can be one of the people standing up for humanity.

Humanity is a mess right now. We are struggling with:

  • food and water,
  • disease and human suffering,
  • economic disparity
  • religious, race and sexual orientation conflicts
  • human rights
  • government accountability, transparency, and corruption (US and beyond)
  • communication
  • climate change
  • and so much more

And here is the thing, any skill we learn evolves as we grow and learn. Being static isn’t an option for me, so I have learned to embrace what I love and to navigate the ebbs and flows that are part of living. We need to be having hard conversations about all of the challenges that humanity is facing.

One of the major keys to thriving, even as I often stumble, is that I surround myself with radiant souls. The people that I choose to be part of my tribe may or may not be from my family, my spiritual practice, my socio-economic circle, political circles, etc,  but they are all kind and supportive loved ones. I am held and loved even when I feel unworthy.

I am aware that the world doesn’t always make sense. Nothing about it does. And yet, I am ok with the journey. . . I am ok with navigating the hard stuff, for accepting that which is complicated, and for making beautiful moments whenever possible. I am finding peace with expressing myself from wherever I stand. AND I appreciate when I am enlightened by others. I am also ok when I have conversations in which I learn the “other” point of view. All of us need to be talking to one another.

AND yes, I know that life is complicated, but I am on this journey and I am doing the dance that I think makes sense. My job is and always will be to share my voice with the purest of intentions and with an open heart.

I choose to keep showing up – again and again. My voice matters. Hineini, I am here. I am alive to live out loud.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

 

Day 11BChava

 

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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I am a Jewish professional, a community organizer, a writer, an interfaith warrior, a political activist, and an artist; I am a visionary, a mother, a sister, and a friend. Above all else, I am human. I want to make a difference as I take my own Journey to Tikkun – Healing Myself and Healing the World. I am a work in progress who works tirelessly to become the healthiest that I can be as navigate the world around me too.

With each step, I am driven to stand with humanity as I show up at the table – again and again. There is so much work to be done and quite honestly, I can’t do enough. I am driven and I am inspired by the amazing people that I keep meeting and hearing about.

Lately, I have been amazed at how people keep showing up to guide me to make a positive impact in the world. In truth, what I have learned is that I don’t have to be creative, although I hope that I am. What I do have to do is listen to the world around me, remain present in those interactions, and finally to build bridges with others whenever possible.

Tonight, I was inspired by Tarek Mounib and his documentary, “Free Trip to Egypt”. I believe that this may have been one of the most impactful documentaries I have ever seen. I was riveted from the moment it started until the moment it ended. I didn’t want it to end. In fact I went up to the creator, Tarek Mounib and asked him to keep writing about this journey.

The film reminded me that I need to leave my bubble and connect with those that walk in the world differently than I do. While I may think of myself as open, I need to make sure that I remain open, leave my bubble, and interact with people that may or may not share my beliefs. I need to listen to what that are saying with an open heart, allowing my silence to be for the purpose of listening and not thinking about what I can say to enlighten those that think differently than I do.

There is so much holy work to do and so many bridges to build. I need to do a better job of building bridges and mending fences. I have so much to learn from others and perhaps the most important lesson I need to remember is that we are all human. Regardless of race, religious/spiritual practice, socio-economic background, education, or gender identification, we all have bodies, minds, souls.

Over the last several weeks, I have found myself drawn to showing up to a group of people with various political beliefs for something that we are calling Hard Conversations; I am also becoming more involved in a beautiful organization called Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom and finding my voice within the work of climate change, immigration, and interfaith work. There is no end to what I can and want to do to make our world a better place. And while I keep thinking that I need a little more discernment about how I want to show up in the world, I am profoundly aware that I want to do it all and to do it while I am working on my book which I am currently calling Thriving: No Option . . ..

In the movie ‘Free Trip To Egypt’, I was blown away by Tarek’s vision of bringing people with differing religious and life experiences together. He and his amazing team created the opportunity for beautiful souls to come together and wrestle with how to interact with those that walk in the world differently than they do. How often does that happen? I don’t think it happens nearly enough.

With this in mind, I want to see what I can do to continue my work of Journey to Tikkun (healing). I want to make sure ‘Free Trip to Egypt’ is shown again and again throughout the United States and beyond. This documentary needs to be seen by those that are actively engaged in making a difference and those that are not yet doing this work. This film needs to be shown to middle school and high school students and it needs to be shown to those that are living in their own corners of the world. There is so much wisdom that can be gleaned by every minute of this documentary. Over the coming weeks, I will figure out how I can do my part in getting this documentary viewed by every person I know and those I don’t know yet.

#PLEDGETOLISTEN

In the meantime, consider taking the pledge that was inspired by this documentary. Let’s all #PLEDGETOLISTEN. You can find more information at:
https://www.freetriptoegypt.com/pledgetolisten#what

Onward with peace, salaam, shalom,
Chava

 

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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“When you bring consciousness to anything,
things begin to shift.”  
~Eve Ensler

Inca trail to Macchu Piccu -Credit Lauren Rader's Art and Releasing the Creative Powers Within ClassesI write in order to figure out what is weighing on my spirit, what truths guide me, and what I believe in the core of my being. Writing is how I come to grips with the many dichotomies that fill my life and how I ultimately become more grounded so that I can do the holy work of living with authenticity.

Weaving words together is how I have ultimately been able to heal my broken heart time and again. Life is hard, really hard. I have navigated some very dark and windy roads. And honestly, when I have started each journey, I have found myself wondering how I would ever make it through the pain. Sometimes I have believed that I wouldn’t make it. But thriving is truly not an option.

A lifetime of living has given me so many beautiful tools for living and healing when I need them most. While I find comfort in singing wordless melodies, chanting, drumming, breathing deeply, walking in nature, painting my sweet cards, and receiving the love of my beautiful tribe, my most sacred living comes from writing and it always has.

Writing is how I have found peace within storms, navigated troubled waters, and come to terms with life’s gifts and challenges. I write in order to find the words I need to make healthy life choices, mourn sad moments, and get out of my way when I am making things more difficult than they need to be.

Over the years, I have found humor in how different people relate to my writing. At any point in time, three different people will have three very different interpretations of my writing. Some will see me as broken, some will see me as whole or inspiring, and still others will think that I am using my writing to navigate life. And all three types will be sure that they are correct. And in truth, they may all be correct or they may not have a clue. And in truth, none of this matters. What matters is that my writing invites the reader to explore where they are in life and how they can best embrace their own journeys. My hope is to inspire people to explore their own lives or perhaps to simply open their eyes to see seeing new ways of seeing whatever is front of them.

The bottom-line is that through writing, I am able to gain insight in all areas of my life and in the world around me.

I am who I am because I am a writer.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

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I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island

And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

Song Writer: Paul Simon

December 2016 - looking outBeing alone allows me to ground my spirit and find center. It gives me the space to think, to cry, to create, to feel, to dance, to understand my many dichotomies and then to emerge from my alone-ness when I am ready.

 

While I love people, I also believe that being by myself much of the time is natural and perhaps how I was meant to be. From the moment I was born, I was thrust into a world of alone-ness. Perhaps it began in utero and then continued as the family of my birth didn’t have the skill or wherewithal to raise me in a healthy environment.

 

From my earliest memories, I was blessed to learn how take care of my spirit. There was no one to hold me, to nurture me, or to love me into the person I was meant to become.

 

As early as I can remember, my young life was filled with tears as I learned that the best thing to do when in distress was put a pillow over my head so no one could hear me cry or even scream. At one point, I remember believing that even God couldn’t hear my pain. I think that was the beginning of me wrestling with whether or not God had a role in my life. I am still wrestling with that today which is to say that there are times I am completely aware of how alone I actually am.

 

I always wanted to be like a rock or maybe like an island. I believed (and sometimes I still do) that I was safer navigating the world alone, turning inward, and being silent.  The idea that I could surround myself with my poetry, my books, and even my creativity, was profound. I could navigate this world alone.  All I ever wanted and still want is safety. I want to feel the cocoon of love and softness around my spirit.

 

My childhood and teenage scars remind me that safety is never given. If I want to be safe, I have to love myself enough to honor my needs at any given moment and to shield myself from harm whenever possible. I’ve got this!!! AND I am also a part of many loving tribes including my family, my friendship circles, my faith based communities, and activists.

 

Love is so complicated. Those we love have the ability to hurt us more than anyone else ever can. And the older I get, the more I realize that I don’t have what it takes to recover from the pain that I once brushed off with ease. The good news is that this has led me to nurturing friendships that truly fuel my soul.

 

For the most part being alone is not sad for me. I thrive on all that I love to do and how I walk in the world. I treasure those people in my life, I just find it easier when I am in my own little cocoon breathing, creating, and being in the fullness of who I truly am.

 

My work will continue to be honoring my need for alone-ness while not getting stuck in the alone-ness that I learned as a young child. I need to keep doing the holy work of living. AND to fully live means that I have holy work to do! I need to keep listening to the inner voice that both reminds me to take time to thrive in my alone-ness while also remembering my love for humanity.

 

And while I may constantly be developing my foundation so that it is as strong as a rock, I also have to keep showing up to the table – again and again and again.

Hineini, I am here!

 

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

 

 

 

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img_2784

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about our need to keep fear out of the driver’s seat. This is my daily work. Yes, fear is part of nearly every journey, especially when I am traveling in unknown territories. If I let fear drive me, I will either be stopped before I get very far or perhaps before I even leave the gate. Or I could end up making decisions that leave me treading water instead of moving forward.

As someone who has been significantly challenged by anxiety whenever I am starting something new, I often must do some serious self-talk as part of my kicking fear out of my way. Instead I try to welcome fear by greeting her with love and acceptance and then gently nudging her to the side as I do whatever is scaring me anyway. And in truth, few people know that I wrestle with uncertainty because I tend to embrace the world with two wide open arms and say, Hineini, Here I am! Fear rarely stops me in my tracks.

Since reading Big Magic when it first came out a few years ago, I have been able to better identify when fear has too much control. When that happens, I take a moment to pause, breathe deeply, and proceed intentionally and usually without looking back.

As a young child, I learned that fear is what kept me safe. I was constantly aware that landmines surrounded me wherever I turned. At home, my mother was a loose cannon that could erupt without notice, my neighborhood bullies often left me afraid to go outside, and the realization that I was alone left me with a deep seated need to make safe choices. There was no one to pick me up if I stumbled.

And then for a few years when I was a teenager, I shoved fear out to the way so that I could jump moving trains, embrace all sorts of street drugs, and basically make some of the stupidest life choices possible. Isn’t that what many of us did back then? Life didn’t matter much so I pushed the envelope and did whatever caught my attention.

The self-destructive behavior continued for decades. I would push through fear by doing things like hiking by myself, driving too fast, and inviting people into my life that maybe should stay out of it. Only in the last few years have I begun to understand that these actions were fear driven in a different way. I was afraid of growing old and being alone so I was living like there was no tomorrow or like my last breath could happen at any time.

Today, fear comes from a different place. I fear sudden death or serious illness of my loved ones. I fear abrupt endings of any type. I fear deep sadness when I lose a friend who has simply decided that what we have is no longer what they want. I also fear the devastation that comes when loving partnerships end. I always believe I can’t take it, but I do. Although I must say that another part of me has come to understand that my broken heart can’t take too many more breaks or losses.

My work is to push through my fear when I start telling myself stories that perhaps I am  unlovable or too intense. For the most part, but not always, I am learning that if I feel that someone is backing away from me, I can ask directly if there is truth to the story that I am telling myself or if it is something else. Usually it is something else altogether. On a rare occasion, I need to accept the inevitable and move forward.

In the coming days, I am going to take an idea from one Liz Gilbert’s readers. I am going to start writing my many fears on a chair by gluing or mod-podging strips pieces of paper with actual fears written on it. This way, I can metaphorically place my fears on the chair instead of letting them take up space in my spirit.

I got this – one breath at a time!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Note:
Life is hard. On a good day, we navigate with ease. On a bad day, we tread water and hope we can stay afloat. On most days, most of us have moments where the pendulum swings throughout the day.

What I am writing about below is where I have been over the last weeks. I am writing with transparency knowing that this will make some people feel uncomfortable, but the good news is that I make through challenging times by remembering that I have a tribe that is holding me.

If you are part of my tribe, thank you for being there.

May we all find our tribe.

~ ~ ~

When you’re down and trouble
And you need some love and care
A
nd nothing, nothing is going right
C
lose your eyes and think of me
A
nd soon I will be there
T
o brighten up even your darkest night.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

Songwriter: Carole King

I have been blessed with a tribe that holds my spirit and reminds me that I am loved. All I have to do is let them know that I am in a dark place, and they show up.

The last weeks have been painful for me. In fact, I have been feeling crushed and struggling to breathe. All I have wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry. And yet, while I have had some really dark hours, I have been doing what I do. I have been taking one step and then another, and still another. I am not out of the woods yet, but I am doing what I need to do as I slowly emerge.

Day 55 - Tears Can Cleanse your heart and spiritI have cried. I have journaled. I have cried some more. I have sat in silence. I have stared at my computer screen only to get nothing done. I have painted my little cards with the wisdom I needed or sad truths. I have written some really hard pieces that can only be written when I am in significant pain. Did I say I have cried?

Last weekend, I wrote one of my closest friends and told her I couldn’t make her daughter’s wedding because I wasn’t able to get my shit together. I was honest. And then this past week, I blew the shofar at a climate change rally and spoke about how the shofar was a call to wake up; we need climate action now. Just showing up helped me get out of my own way for just a little while. I still went to sleep with tears in my eyes and a hole in my heart. But on that night, I slept really well for the first time in a while.

BTW, this is the first year in decades that I haven’t blown the shofar or rams horn nearly every day during the month of Elul, the month before Rosh HaShanah.  In Jewish tradition, we blow the shofar as one of the tools for inspiring us to to wake up and do the spiritual work of stretching and growing so that we are ready for the new year.

Instead of blowing the shofar, I have been allowing myself to be exactly where I am.

AND

My tribe is showing up.

One by one, my friends are reaching out and reminding me that they are holding space for me. The most impressive is my friend whose daughter is getting married. She offered to come to me anytime. I can’t ask, but I love that she means it. I wouldn’t be good company and I don’t know how to be taken care of when I want to bury my head in the sand. Another friend of mine who is busy beyond words offered to drive an hour both ways just so she could give me a hug. A couple of others called, some offered to listen, and others opened their homes to me whenever I am up for a visit. Living in Houston is hard because most of my loved ones live elsewhere.

And then a couple of nights ago, I asked my friends who live by the water if I could run away to their house even if I am dark. Of course, they said yes and then they called other friends who live close to them and texted me that everyone wanted to see me. And what I heard in that text is that they will welcome me however I show up. Unfortunately, I need to wait until after the Jewish holidays, but I think healing will happen by the water.

Over the last couple of days, I have started answering the phone or responding to text messages. Mostly, I am still hiding, but a little less than I was. I haven’t wanted to talk to many people, so I haven’t. But I have decided to be real a couple of times on social media and within my blogging. I have cried at work and felt loved even if I felt unlovable. I am being transparent. I am “living out loud” as Émile Zola would say.

The truth is that why I am sad doesn’t really matter. There are a lot of reasons and I think I have only shared all of them with one of my friends who called at the ‘right’ moment. I wonder if I chewed his ear off. Since he has kept reaching out this week, I don’t think I scared him away. I am really blessed And the beautiful reality is that I know that most of my friends would do what this one friend did for me.

I’ve also been blown away by the love texts, the sweet private messages, and even a couple of notes. I am allowing my friends to see that I am living in the messy middle. And instead of ignoring me, they are quietly showing up and letting me know that I am loved.

~ ~ ~

Growing up, I used to hear that we make plans and God laughs. #Truth

Last Saturday, a friend, who is also a congregant, called my cell phone. When I saw his name on my caller ID I decided to pick up the phone. I, incorrectly assumed something must be wrong because he generally doesn’t call me out of the blue. Looking back though, I realized that this friend always calls me out of the blue and it is ALWAYS a welcome surprise.  Fast forward, I am not sure how he started the phone conversation, but he quickly said, “I’d love to do karaoke with you. Let me get with my wife and let’s just do it.” This was in response to me saying on a silly Facebook questionnaire that I have wanted to do karaoke since my 50th birthday nearly four years ago. LOL! And then this friend made the serious mistake of asking me how I was. Ugh! And with that I could barely hold it together, so I started to cry. Damn!

Guess what I am doing to do tonight.  Karaoke. Of course, he and his wife meant it when they said that they would arrange something and get back to me. At the time, I was hoping it would be months away, but no such luck.  And you know what, it is time for me to do something like this. While I don’t know if I will have the guts to sing in front of others, I am going to spend some time with friends. It’s time for me to move forward differently.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking I need to start having fun. I know that I am too serious. My spirit is wrapped up in making the world a better place through activism, writing, other forms of creativity, and even my work. And while my creativity brings me real joy, I don’t really think of it as fun. While people tend to see me as someone who smiles and laughs easily, I am also someone who needs to work on having fun. More on that later.

Living authentically these last weeks has been hard. I want to hide, but somehow this hasn’t been an option this time around. My broken spirit is out of the closet. And while I am (somewhat) working and showing up in life, I am also being real with every step I am taking.

My loved ones are an AMAZING testament to what it means to be in my tribe. All I have to do is be me and they love me just as I am. I better stop here before I cry yet again.

Hineini, Here I am! I am doing the holy work of healing.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

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img_2267Being a truth teller isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is downright hard.

Since facing Hurricane Harvey over two years ago, I have seen friends post that they are really perplexed, even angry at those that decided to ride out a hurricane or any other natural disaster and stay home instead of seeking safer ground.  These diatribes often leave me feeling a little stunned at how inconsequential I feel in settings that I usually feel valued.

While I love what I do as a Jewish educator, I do not make an income that affords me to live with any sort of financial ease. As someone who has essentially raised two sons on her own from teenagers into adulthood, I’ve done great, but that doesn’t mean that life has been easy. And it doesn’t mean we have had all of our needs met.

Well-meaning community members and sometimes friends don’t see the larger picture, the realities of my life. In truth, I don’t tend to share either. But here are some realities, if you looked at my finances as a Jewish educator:

  1. I would be forced to stay home if a hurricane or another natural disaster was on the horizon if it wasn’t for my beautiful tribe of friends all over the country that love me unconditionally and who always want to save my family from sadness and/or hardship.  In fact, as Hurricane Harvey was getting ready to bare it’s ugly teeth, I was faced with wondering whether I could even afford to be stuck at home for two to three weeks. At first leaving wasn’t even an option. I couldn’t afford a hotel and besides, in our case, the mayor and my neighbors were telling us to ‘stay put’. But as I went to the grocery store to buy protein bars, non-perishable food items, and other necessities that we would need in the event of being stuck in our home, I was really worried. I mean I was scared. Without the extra funds, I wasn’t certain that we would be ok. AND we have a tribe. One childhood friend offered me money just to leave. Another friend from Philly, started looking for hotel rooms. And then others offered their homes on the east coast.
  2. Basic needs sometimes fall by the wayside.
    • When my back started hurting badly last year, I couldn’t afford the physical therapy co-payments, I simply did what I could at home. Good health insurance doesn’t make a difference unless I can pay for co-pays. The only reason it is good is if something major happens.
    • Sometimes I wait for an extra long period of time to do some of the basics. Yes, it is time for me to take the guys and I to the dentist. AND yet, we know it is important.
    • My sons have really yucky health insurance policies; we pay for the best we can afford.
    • Since Hurricane Harvey, my breathing can be a challenge sometimes, but running the air conditioning is costly; this means I have to decide whether or not I can afford to keep it on (in more ways than one).
    • Life is what it is.
  3. When Maddie, our aging dog, had an accident and tore her ACL. We couldn’t afford the surgery, nor did we think it was the right choice. Instead we decided to do palliative care, only that had a cost too – about $200/month. Our old girl kept hanging on and we have made the value choice to keep her alive as long as her pain is totally managed. Once her pain couldn’t be relieved any longer, there was a part of me that was relieved that we wouldn’t have to pay for the medicines any longer. And even now that she is gone, I miss her deeply. How wrong is that! I didn’t want her to suffer, but there was a cost at keeping her alive. AND I’d never have let her hurt or euthanized her for my convenience.
  4. Until a year ago, my son Aryeh and I shared one car. It was ok and it was what we had to do. It used to drive me crazy when people would tell us to simply buy a second car. Affording a second car is complicated. Car payments and car insurance are realities. At the moment though, I am eternally grateful to the fact that someone actually made it a possibility for Aryeh to buy and pay off a car.
  5. My brother and his five children, their partners, and now one great niece live in Israel. I haven’t been there in years. Sigh. . . .

I often find myself stunned at how often people want to enlighten me. They want to tell me how I should spend my money or that let me know that I should do more for myself:

  • pedicure
  • concert
  • the latest movie
  • shop
  • take a trip

Before Aryeh, my older son, was sick years ago, I worked for a community that included me at every step. I felt part of that community in every way. In fact just today, I had the chance to connect with one of my dear friends and email with another from that community. Sadly, that experience is the exception, not the norm.

The good news is that after four years in Houston, I am finally having sweet windows of loving connections. I adore the rabbi and the amazing administrator I work with! It did take a while, but a couple of the congregants have become dear friends. AND due to Hurricane Harvey, I have made close friends from the church that now shares space with my synagogue until they find a new spiritual home.

The reality is that I am so blessed to be able take care of all my family’s needs and I am grateful that one of my sons is able to make a difference in that journey. We keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. . .such a blessing.  And I am profoundly aware that even as I share reality, my challenges really are  #FirstWorldProblems.

I don’t waste money; I don’t make frivolous choices, but still I don’t have much. If a natural disaster happened and my friends couldn’t show up, I’d be stuck. In fact, if I got sick and couldn’t work for a period of time, I’d have to simply leave Houston and ask for help from those I love.

Looking into the future

As I get older, I am now fearing what aging means. Without a savings, I wonder where I will end up in 15 years or when I can’t work any longer. The good news is that I am starting to make different decisions and looking ways to supplement my income outside of my full time job. At the same time, I know that if I were to lose my position at the end of my contract or to be fired for whatever reason, I would not be able to receive unemployment. Most Jewish organizations and nonprofits do not have to carry unemployment insurance which leaves those professionals in a tough spot. How lovely it is that these organizations save themselves money with this loophole, but how difficult it is for those of us that have been faced with unemployment. A few years ago, I worked for a congregation that lost 150 families over a short time which meant that they could no longer afford a full time educator. In the end, I found odd jobs, seriously pulled out my back when I took a position that I was poorly trained to do, and had a tribe of beloved friends that ultimately saved me from the dire straits that I was in with my sons. I am one of the lucky ones – really.

Hopefully different financial choices will allow me to better prepare for retirement or perhaps just a rainy day – no pun intended. I am always moving forward!

Reality is what it is, for the most part, I have been ok with what is, but this week, I found myself triggered. I am so tired of people that don’t understand the realities of those that aren’t where they are financially.

Over the last year, I have seen two painful GoFundMe campaigns from beloved friends, Jewish communal professionals, that needed support so that they can get the support they need.  My heart breaks for these people and it hurts for many of my colleagues that seem to constantly be paddling upstream against the current. The good news is that I know that I am not alone; the challenging news is that most non-clergy Jewish communal professionals struggle especially if they don’t have a partner to help them manage.

In all honesty, I am struggling for myself and for the many colleagues that are now my dearest friends. So many, including my ex-husband have been negatively impacted by their experiences as a Jewish communal professionals. Passionate Jewish professionals, like my ex-husband have left the field so that they could better sustain themselves and their families or simply because they needed a retirement fund. For a community that is so awesome at caring for the larger world, it is time for them to step up to the plate to care for their professionals.

We need to do some holy work within the Jewish world to make things rights.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

 

 

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