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Archive for the ‘Time to Heal’ Category

Closed doors have always had a way of blocking me from wherever I wanted to go. Yet few shut doors have kept me from doing what calls to me. Once I can visualize what is possible, determination and perseverance propel me forward.

From my earliest memories, I struggled to function like “normal” children. My home was not the only challenge in my young life. With almost no coordination and poor hearing, I seemed to live in my own little world. Walking didn’t happen until I was well over 2 years old and I don’t remember hearing much until I was 5 or 6 years old when my tonsils and adenoids were removed along with some other surgical procedure on my ears. 

Somehow the little girl that could barely find her place with others learned that she could do almost anything she set her mind to do. Can’t was not part of my vocabulary and it still isn’t.

  • After nearly nine years of speech therapy, I learned to talk with clarity.
  • Somewhere around 8 or 9 years old, my second grade teacher taught us to write in cursive. I really struggled; I just couldn’t do it. So each and every night, I would go home and practice writing late into the evening. The more I practiced, the better I was able to write.
  • Around 10 years old, I was mortified that all the girls in my class could jump rope. I couldn’t – not at all! So instead of giving up, I went home every night and practiced jumping rope from the moment I got home until the moment it turned dark. The GREAT news is that I did learn to be an excellent jump roper; the BAD news is that within a day or so of learning, I woke up to the worst pain I can ever remember. My leg muscles had totally seized up and I could not take even one step. One of my sweetest memories of my father was when he gently picked me up and put me into the hot bathtub to try to loosen up my muscles and ease some of the pain. It worked.
  • Better late than never, at 11 years old, I decided that I would learn to ride a bike. With my friend Elizabeth by my side, I remember feeling freedom and joy as I biked down Pikeswood Drive for the first time. And that feeling returns each and every time I get on a bike.
  • In junior high school, I decided that I wanted to be able to do at least a little gymnastics. It was hard for me to watch all the other kids do front rolls and back rolls during our Physical Education class. To say that I was being a dreamer is an understatement. And yet, I’ll never forget trying to strengthen my muscles, teaching myself to do front rolls, back rolls, cartwheels, and even backbends! After weeks of practicing in class and at home, I was finally able to do all of those things, but also create a really AWESOME routine for the uneven parallel bars. The best moment came when Mrs. Brown, my PE teacher, yelled, “Slow down, you are moving too fast for the spotters to keep you safe.” I never could walk across the balance beam, but that didn’t matter to me. I was so proud of all I did accomplish through sheer determination and perseverance.
  • I always dreamed of being a runner. It didn’t matter to me if I was slow, I just wanted to be a runner. So, at 16 years old, I took up running. At first I could barely go one time around my high school track, but that didn’t last for long. A short time after starting to run, I was able to run three miles daily until I decided to run for 10 miles daily which lasted for years.

Walk Up Hills Slowly 1In reality, I had a lot of time to myself growing up. I didn’t have too many friends until I was older and my family wasn’t there for me either. So I learned to use the time I had to work on becoming a stronger and better me. Every time I was led to believe I couldn’t do something, I responded with silently telling myself “Watch Me!” If I wanted to do something bad enough, I found the inner strength and character to do it.

In truth, I wish I could say that I no longer struggle with poor coordination or bad hearing, but that would be a lie. To this day, I am sometimes sad that I don’t have the coordination to do serious hiking. That doesn’t mean that I don’t go hiking, it just means that I am honest with myself about what I can do. A few years ago, I decided to hike by myself in Madera Canyon, outside Tucson. When I came home, I was pretty battered with some “war stories”. My sons who were in their late teens and early 20s lost it with me. AND they were right. So now, I do a better job at honoring my abilities with honesty.

And to this day, I am initially anxious nearly every time I stand up to speak in front of others. I worry whether or not I am articulate or making sense. When I am really tired, I know that I don’t speak clearly. This doesn’t mean that I choose to be silent, it means that every time I stand up in front of people, I take a deep breath and I do say what I have to say. And for the most part, I have learned that even if I am having a rough day communicating, it’s really good enough and sometimes great!

I live my life by believing that I can and then I do! I take one step and then another. I rest. And then I do it all over again . . . and again . . . until I have accomplished my goals.

One of the things that has impacted me more than I thought previously possible, has been listening to the wisdom of so many others over the last several years. Through reading a lot and really listening to great podcasts, TEDTalks, etc., I am inspired! With nearly every written and spoken word, I am gaining insight and ultimately choosing how I want to better walk in the world. Ironically, my most profound lesson came from the first United States woman to summit Mount Everest without oxygen after trying to do so five other times. Melissa Arnot Reid said, “I walk up hills slowly.” AND that is what I have always done and will always do.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. 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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Day 37 - Choose to ThriveEach and every morning I have a choice about how I will approach my day. In fact, if I am really honest, I have that choice with every breath I take. My job is to keep taking deep breaths and doing the next best thing.

Life is full of gifts and challenges. And while I have grown to accept that life can be really hard, I have also been known to embrace each step as consciously as possible. I know that as long as I am moving forward and doing all I can to navigate life’s journey, I will emerge from most any experience.

As someone who was raised in an incredibly toxic home, I have made the decision to always try to do what I can to make things what I want them to be. And some days, I struggle more than others and on those days I try to remember that I am human. When I am ready to emerge from whatever I am navigating, I will.

I love knowing that I can make life a little more beautiful through how I interact with the environment that surrounds me. This includes:

  • being loving to whoever is in front of me.
  • finding sparks of light in hard and painful moments.
  • actively engaging in actions that I hope will make the world a better place.
  • creating through writing, painting, and in any way I can.
  • opening doors for strangers.
  • showing up at the table – again and again.
  • moving forward even when I feel like I can’t take another step.
  • AND MORE . . .

Even when I was younger, I always did what I could to survive. The difference is that today, more than anything in the world, I want to not only survive, but thrive.

Hineini, Here I am!

Each and every day, I ask myself:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
~Mary Oliver in ‘The Summer Day’

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. 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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December 2016 - looking outThis is what I know. . . .

Life is hard.
I am here for this moment and that is the only given.
Tomorrow may never come.

My spirit is raw.
My passions run deep and so does my pain.
With every fiber of my body, I feel.

This is what I know. . . .

I am driven beyond words and failure is not an option.
With each step, I strive to make a difference.
I strive to be enough.
And sometimes, nothing works as I want it to.

My heart is wide open.
I always listen to the stories that surround me
and to the possibilities that exist at every turn.
Each story  I hear, gives me a reason to thrive and sometimes a reason to hide.

This is what I know. . . .

Tomorrow feels like a dream, just beyond my reach.
Yet I have chosen to move forward.
I take one step and then another.

I soar with joy and drown in the muck.
I wrestle with my demons and celebrate my angels.
Yet. . . in the silence, I struggle.

This is what I know. . . .

I am alone.
Navigating the world in the best way I can.
I take one step and then another.

And if I am lucky,
I will make a difference
and often I fall flat.
Sigh.

This is what I know. . . .

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud. 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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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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