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The book of Exodus starts by remembering Jacob and his sons by name.

Think about this: Our stories don’t start with us. They start with those who came before us, and those who came before our parents, and those who came before our grandparents, and so on. Some of us were blessed with siblings or cousins. Most of us went to school where teachers and classmates taught us a thing or two. Not all the lessons were always welcomed, but they were all part of the stories that made us into who we are. Stories that helped shape the people we became. Each of those people were influenced by the people who surrounded them and those people who came before them.

There is interconnectedness between all life forces even when we don’t understand the entire picture. Which, quite honestly, is most of the time.

The same can be said of the new Pharaoh or king of Egypt. He didn’t know the story of how Joseph, a Hebrew, had saved the day and how most of the kingdom of Egypt would have starved to death if it had not been for Joseph. All the Pharaoh saw is that the Jews were a very fertile people, and, if he didn’t do something to stop them, they would overpower Egypt. Pharaoh had no interest in losing control of what was his.

With this in mind, Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites and forced them to live a harsh and brutal reality. He even tried to completely break their spirits by having the midwives kill all male children, but that didn’t happen. These midwives told Pharaoh that the Hebrew women were not like Egyptian women, they were vigorous and, by the time we get to them, the Hebrew women had given birth by themselves.  

I love this story. This is a story of two woman doing their best to do civil disobedience in order to save lives. Wow. As the story goes, they feared God so much more than Pharaoh. Due to their refusal to murder the male children, Moses was able to survive and ultimately be raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter.

~ ~ ~

Moses is truly one of my favorite personalities in the Torah. Since he was raised as a prince of Egypt, Moses could have lived a cushy life in the Pharaoh’s palace. But instead, he follows the lead of the midwives who probably had a hand in his birth, and he defies Pharaoh’s orders and seemingly the natural order of things. When Moses sees an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew, he kills the Egyptian in a fit of anger and flees to Midian.

Once in Midian, he becomes a shepherd, a husband, and a father. One day as Moses is herding his sheep, he notices a burning bush. The thing is the bush is on fire, but the fire is not consuming the bush. What do you think the chances of that are?

With God’s help and direction, Moses realizes that he’s on holy ground and has work to do. Like many people who are thrust into leadership, Moses is not sure how he can be of service. With some convincing and cajoling, he moves forward to lead the Hebrews out of slavery and through the desert. This holy responsibility begins with that burning bush.

~ ~ ~

I know that I am not alone when I say Wednesday was a terrible day for our country. Having the United States Capitol come under attack was scary; I literally felt my heart breaking. As someone who has met with my representatives and senators in the Capitol many times since my early 20s, I was stunned.

From the moment I caught a glimpse of ‘Breaking News’, I didn’t know what to do with myself; I couldn’t work; I couldn’t think; I couldn’t move. I love Washington, D.C.; it is the home of my heart. Almost immediately, the images of the Oklahoma City bombing of a Federal Building in 1995 came to mind. I wondered if the loss of life would be similar to that attack.  Fortunately, it wasn’t.

Most of us were anticipating that Wednesday would be a stressful day on Capitol Hill.  We were wondering how the day would unfold. I think it is safe to say that it didn’t go as expected. And yet, by Wednesday evening at 8 PM EST, the Congress was back to work. Early Thursday morning, Vice President Pence declared Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election after Congress finished counting the electoral votes.

At our Thursday Lunch & Learn, reflecting on both the weekly Torah portion and the past day’s events, I couldn’t help but see this week’s Torah Portion unfolding in front of us. We know that fire can both lead to destruction and to rebirth. The Capitol has become a modern-day burning bush. There was a metaphoric fire that absolutely raged all afternoon and through the early evening, but nothing was destroyed. The process that needed to take place that day took place. A few hours later then expected to be sure, but it took place. AND, there was a magic in the air. Our beautiful Capitol was still standing, and our lawmakers were inside and back to work.

Many of the five-minute speeches I heard were being made by passionate leaders trying to figure out how to build bridges instead of destroying them. To be honest, many of those who spoke are people that I don’t normally agree with, but I listened. I heard some of them speak from their heart with an understanding that it is time to take a step forward and to accept that insurrection does not work but building bridges does.

Democrats and Republicans spoke of the horror that happened that day and of coming together to do the holy work of running our country.

Reflecting deeply, it became profoundly clear that the United States Capitol with all of the people, the building, and even our spirits are all standing and even more so – thriving.  Yes, the metaphoric fire reigned earlier in the afternoon, but everything would be alright.

Another sign that a positive shift was underway came on Wednesday when Georgia, in their runoff elections, elected two firsts to the US Senate. Reverend Raphael Warnock became the first black senator in Georgia’s history and Jon Ossoff became the first Jewish member of the Senate from Georgia. Change is now on the horizon in Washington DC and beyond.

~ ~ ~

Moses stood in front of that burning bush and asked God what he should tell the people when they inquired as to God’s name. God responded that you, Moses, should tell the Israelites, Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh which can be translated or interpreted in many ways including:

  • I am becoming what I am becoming or
  • I am that I am or
  • I am who I am or
  • I will be what I will be

A name is powerful; it can ultimately tell your story. What were we, as a nation, as individuals, yesterday, a week ago, a month ago, a year ago, even a decade ago? What will we be, as a nation, as individuals, tonight, tomorrow, and beyond?  Everything we do matters, and, if we can do the right thing, we can walk through our world, navigate hard times, and still keep standing — like the burning bush. Like the Capitol.

Wherever we are can be sacred ground, if we make it so.

Shabbat Shalom!

How is the US Capitol like the Burning Bush?

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Running to the Quiet

Thriver Cards by Chava

My world is a little too frenetic and it is time for me to quiet it down.

Over the last month, I have been drawn to the wisdom of those who preach the power of going inward so that they can better navigate the life they seek. Through really listening to both written and spoken words of poetry, books, and podcasts, I have come to realize that in order to move forward and to where I want to go, I have to go inward and nurture my spirit. For the most part, I have not connected to this part of myself in many months.

With just over 40 days until my 55th birthday, I have decided to run to the quiet. While work will remain a focus during my work hours, I am looking forward to “listening to the quiet” as my father used to say when he lovingly cupped his hands over my ears as a little girl.

It’s time for me to give myself the space to do the things that nurture my spirit so that I can hear what my heart is calling me to do in all areas of my life. Two of the biggest ways that I will try to reconnect with are writing and chanting.

Writing
The good news is that I have been writing daily. Each and every day, I find 30 – 60 minutes in which I get lost in journaling. But that is not enough for me. I have two books that I have actively been working on for quite some time – one as a writer and the other as an artist. Somehow, I have lost the rhythm to move forward with my books and it is time for me to refocus my efforts there. With all of life’s distractions, I have not been thriving as a writer. Ironically, my memoir is currently being called Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. Looks like it’s time to find my rhythm again. I’m on it!

Chanting
Recently two beautiful chants have invited me to breathe a little deeper and to become more grounded. How is it that I stopped doing the very things that bring me the most tranquility? Each time, I chant or simply sit on my zafu, meditation cushion, I find center. So why aren’t I doing these things more frequently?

Chanting is my soul work; it empowers me to get in touch with my inner voice, to listen to what others are saying and not saying, and to sit with the rawness of who I am. Through chanting, I learn to trust where I am, where I am going, and who I want to join me in this journey. Somehow the practice of chanting nudges me to open the doors that are good for my soul and close the doors that are no longer serving me.

The two chants that are calling to me right now are:

  1. ALL LOVE: KULAM AHUVIM:
    https://www.rabbishefagold.com/all-love-kulam-ahuvim/

    I love how this chant by Rabbi Shefa Gold’s reminds all of us to “. . . rise above the illusions of limited perspective and enter the truth of our love, clarity and power.”
  2. OM MAKOM SHALOM:
    https://ravshoshana.com/chanting-prayer/om-makom-shalom/

    In this beautiful chant by Rav Shoshana Mitrani-Knapp, I am being guided towards the “deep grounding and a connection to a universal Oneness” that I crave and have not been able to access for quite some time.

Both of these chants came to me through my beautiful mentor Anael Atara Joblin. I am grateful she shepherded me back to where I belong! When I am chanting, I feel more at one with the universe, so why haven’t I been doing what calls to me? Time to begin again!

Releasing the Energy Vampires

We all have what I have now come to see as energy vampires. People or activities that distract us from doing what calls to us. With this in mind, it is time for me to limit all distractions and to make time to do more of what jazzes my soul. I actually appreciate how Facebook, along with all social media, and my cell phone keep me informed. The constant barrage of information allows me to find out how people are doing, who has lost someone they love, what is going on in the world, and what I can do to make our world a better place. It also gets in the way of me emerging in healthy ways and actively engaging in life.

One More Thought
A couple of days ago, I listened to my favorite podcast, “The Chase Jarvis Live Show”. In this episode, Chase interviewed Paul Ninson, an extraordinary documentary photographer and aspiring cinematographer, born in Ghana. The title of the podcast was ‘When Preparation Meets Opportunity’. In this podcast, Paul said something that has inspired me to go inward and focus on what is most important to me. He said, “I know where I come from. I know who I am. I know where I am going.”

The truth is I tend to think of myself as having similar clarity to Paul. At the same time, I have not been living as someone who is clear minded and actively embracing their goals. My many distractions have caused me to lose focus. Unless I return to the work of moving forward and reaching for my goals, I will not end up as planned.

Running to the quiet will galvanize me to be more intentional in every area of my life. I want to thrive as a mother, a friend, a human being, a creative, and an activist. This means that for now and probably for a a long time, I need to go inward and really listen to what is calling to me. And then I need to act accordingly.

I am running to the quiet so that I can live in alignment with my spirit.

Hineini, I am here.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

Thriver Cards by Chava

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Running to the Water

Running to the Water

(Note: I am so blessed to have amazing friends who live on South Padre Island in Texas. They have given me the gift of their love and their home. From their home, I see the Laguna Madre Bay and two blocks away, the beach whispers my name.  Running to the water has always nurtured my spirit and grounded my energy. Hineini, I am here. I am exactly where I need to be.)

I am visiting my beloved friends, the Kendles who live on South Padre Island. It is here that my head clears from the fogginess that has been clouding my thinking over the past several months.

The early morning hours have a way of jolting me awake and demanding that I visit the places that I’d rather not see. This happens when the time is right, regardless of where I am. Initially, it is hard to wake up this way, but once I ride the crashing waves, I usually emerge to where I need to be. This morning was no different. Something magical happens nearly every time I face my demons as the night skies turn to dusk.

An inner knowing is taking hold of my spirit.

As soon as I opened my eyes, I found myself remembering that a few of my friends had given me awesome gifts, their writing, their music, and so much more. The challenge is that I have been too busy to take the time to absorb their gifts. And then in the back of my mind, I was trying hard to remember the details of a project that I wanted to create. All I can recall is the feeling of awe when I thought of the idea, but whatever it was is now long gone. This realization left me in tears. How could I forget something that once made my heart melt? Is this what getting older is going to be like?

Perhaps the gift that followed is bigger than any other gift I have received of late. I realized that I am shutting down from a world of too much.

Too much information
Too many obligations
Far too many needs

They come from others and from within. With so many voices calling to me, I can’t seem to keep track of it all. I am losing ground and need to go quiet. I fear what may happen if I don’t listen to what I now know.

My spirit is begging me to create, but a world of too much is shutting down that creativity.

This feeling started to crash me into the waves of despair, but then I took a deep breath and another. I inhaled and I exhaled – again and again. At first it really hurt. The feelings of overwhelm washed over me and left me treading water. And then I remembered these precious words:

“if
the ocean
can calm itself,
so can you.
we
are both
salt water
mixed with
air.”
― Nayyirah Waheed

Running to the water was the most precious gift that I could give myself. Today, I will walk along the beach and listen to the breaking of the waves; I will go into the quiet and let myself feel. I will probably cry from the overwhelm I am feeling and ground myself as much as possible too. I am listening to my inner knowing. Something deep is shifting within me right now. . . I don’t actually know what it is, but if I listen, really listen, I may figure it out. And if I am lucky, maybe I will remember the project that left me awestruck. Just maybe.

Without a doubt though, I know that before I can be more grounded, I have to stop and release what is weighing me down. There is just too much.

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, 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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Have you ever had a devastating day? A day that leaves you feeling shattered and beyond words. . . . unable to take a deep breath or physically move without intense emotional pain. Unfortunately, I have faced these days too many times over the course of my life. I am sure I am not alone here. These are the days that crush my spirit. I can often remember the day of the week that the emotional trauma occurred.

There was the morning after what I now refer to as Black Monday; it forced me to navigate some of the most challenging pain I had in a long time. As soon as I opened my eyes the morning after, I began doing what Pema Chödrön calls the ‘journey of the warrior’ by staying on the (metaphoric) mat. There really was no option, I was born to thrive.

Later in the morning, I sat in awe as I realized that regardless of how raw my heart was feeling and how my spirit was reeling, I was navigating:

I woke up this morning
I took a deep breath
And another

I put my feet firmly on the ground
I took another breath
And I reminded myself…

I can do this heart thing… I can do this hard thing…

I stood up
What I really wanted to do was crumble
I stood up anyway
And then I took one step
And another

I can do this heart thing . . . I can do this hard thing . . .

I fed the dog. I watched him do downward facing dog.
I wondered….Can I do that?
I don’t even know if I can move.
But then I did . . .
I painted.
I went out for a walk
I even spoke to two different neighbors and petted their dogs

I can do this heart thing . . . I can do this hard thing . . .

All I have to do today and any tough day is just keep taking one step and then another. I believe I am on the journey of what Sheri Salata calls the “ongoing becoming’.

~ ~ ~

Looking back, I am amazed that I have learned to stand when I feel broken. I may want to hide, but that is not the only option for me. Life has challenged me, but it has also invited me to negotiate even the cloudiest of days.

Yes shit happens, but shift can happen too.

I can thrive. I am thriving. I will always thrive.

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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Loving ourselves can be so hard, especially when we are navigating inner turmoil and pain. Our holy work is to simply love ourselves for all that we are.

Over the years, I have had amazing healers remind me to hug myself (SARK) or simply to look in the mirror and say, “I love you. I love you so deeply.” or to look in the mirror and tell myself that “I am beautiful and amazing.” Be specific when you do this practice and focus on the honoring the sweetness of who you are instead of the IA (inner asshole) or the bullshit story you often tell yourself.

At first, these practices are hard and if I am honest, I initially feel awkward each and every time I do these things, but still I do them. And on a good day, I can alter my entire spirit with just a minute (or more) of loving myself in these ways. While this practice is hardly natural for me, I tend to soar, nonetheless.  Loving myself makes it possible for me to emerge from some pretty harsh self-talk that could start to control my psyche if I am not careful.

Frequently, I have been known to wake up feeling a little rough around the edges, but on one of  the most the most beautiful impromptu moment I found myself looking in the mirror and singing Crystal Gayle’s song, ‘You Never Gave Up on me’:

“You never gave up on me when I was giving love up on you,
E
very time I thought this love can’t work
Y
ou stayed to see it through.
Y
ou never gave up on me when I was making
Things
rough on you
A
nd you showed me what it really means to love somebody.”
You Never Gave Up On Me

Just singing those words to myself as I looked in the mirror helped me emerge from the momentary struggles so that I could prep for the many moving parts of my day.

Love Myself FiercelyI have learned a ton of good information through these Mirror Self-Talk practices. Being loved by others is a blessing, no question. But it’s my job to love myself fiercely and to sooth my soul when it is feeling it’s heaviest. Others may help, but I need to be able to take care of myself even when I am surrounded by deep love. Each of us needs to know that we can truly hold our own spirits when life is crushing us. Because even if we want to be held and loved by someone, we might end up needing to handle things by ourselves. #Truth.

My holy work is to keep doing the next best thing. . . so that’s what I am doing. I got this!

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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Every one has stories that they tell themselves. Some are true and some are true only in their head.

I believe one of my greatest sources of pain comes from feeling silenced or unworthy of being heard. This goes back to childhood. I don’t have too many memories of being heard and listened to. In fact, my guess is that no one could understand me. I could be wrong. Who knows what others felt when dealing with me; I only know what I was feeling and even that is a little fuzzy sometimes.

Not only did I grow up in a completely dysfunctional home, but I grew up significantly hearing impaired too. To say that it sucked is an understatement. By not being able to hear well, I couldn’t learn how to speak clearly.  I grew up assuming that since no one could understand me, why would they have even wanted to listen to what I had to say? That feeling was reinforced by experiences at home. Maybe that’s why my mother didn’t adore me; maybe she couldn’t deal with her perfectly imperfect child. Unfortunately, I have contended with these feelings nearly every day of my life. On most days, this is a fleeting thought, but not always.

Nine years of speech therapy, a lot of good counseling, and an amazing tribe of beloveds have made it possible to move forward, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve totally stopped feeling like a sputtering idiot. This is my lizard brain at work. These realizations are sadly my default when I am struggling with intense vulnerability and heartbreak.

Stop telling myself bullshit stories JPThis cycle has impacted my entire life leaving me to wrestle with deep seeded feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy. In her book, On Being Human, Jennifer Pastiloff referred to this self-talk as a bullshit story. She’s right!  Regardless of my inner knowing, I have been left with what at times feels like an indelible imprint on my soul. On a tough day, it does not matter that I’ve shown up in amazing ways as a mother, a friend, a writer, an activist, an educator.

Still the challenges I encountered as a baby, a toddler, and a young girl left me with deep wounds. My work is to remember that wounds can heal.

I am a powerful woman, a spiritual warrior, and a thriver. It’s time for me to believe in myself, to rewrite my bullshit story, and to know my voice has impacted the world in some beautiful ways. I was meant to live out loud and do good. Perhaps my voice is strong after all.

Hineini. I am here.

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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In the Introverts Manifesto which can be found in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain says, “It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.”

Only in the last year or two have I learned to honor my need for more quiet. This means that sometimes I don’t pick up the phone when it rings, other times I ignore the constant chatter that comes into my Facebook Messenger, and often I cross the street or walk in the other way in order to avoid making small talk. Simply said, I crave less interaction with people and more time inward time for my soul.

December 2016 - looking out into water

Once I committed to following the path of the creative, I had to design the space for the creative within to be birthed. This journey opened the door for me to live more authentically in all areas of my life, but mostly it allowed for my creativity to flourish and my voice to grow stronger as a writer, a painter, an educator and sometimes an activist.

What amazes me is how most of those that know me think that I am a complete extrovert, but they are wrong. I do love my tribe of beloveds and I love time with them, but not all the time. I love that I can stand in front of a community no matter how small or large to share a thought or a story, but then I like retreating into my inner cocoon. This is where I feel the most safe and even happy.

In reality my life is kinetic. If I really wanted, I could interact with both people and my to do list for  24/7 without fail. But that isn’t how I can propel myself forward. The more I find my voice with my writing and my different forms of art, the more I seek aloneness. Creativity tends to materialize in the space between the words and actions.

Also, as a rule I no longer want to “be on” all the time. I love people. I adore my friends and family, but I’ve also come to embrace the beauty of silence. 

Learning that it is ok for me to wait to respond is a practice. There are days I do this with ease and other days when I remain present for every possible interaction. Those days are the most exhausting ones for me. 

At the same time, I have begun to treasure connecting with those I love differently than ever before. When I answer the phone or reach out to a friend, it is because I want to connect. By the same token, when I hold off on connecting, it is because I am trying to honor my new boundaries or perhaps my limitations. This need is new to me.

As a child, I was often left alone in the isolation of a deeply troubled home. So as I grew older I needed something completely different. I became captivated by the power of healthy and dynamic interactions. Who knew that that was possible? The more I surrounded myself with loving interactions, the more I wanted. Ultimately, I became someone who was able to establish beautiful friendships, have a family of my own, and create a platform to do the holy work of positively impacting the many life forces within our world. In essence, I found my voice through all of these interactions.  The synergy has been remarkably; I am more whole because I was able to transform my earlier years. 

Once I found my voice, new realities began to emerge. I wanted to engage with everyone I met. Dovi, my younger son, used to ask me if every new friend I met was also my new best friend. I loved that he intuitively knew that I connected deeply to nearly everyone I met. Whoever was in front of me was the center of my universe even if it was just for a moment or for much longer.

Some of this changed when I started to see myself as a creative. I needed more quiet in order to create whether it be with words, with painting, or with weaving. Being creative happens best when I am able to quiet my soul and allow my spirit to guide me wherever I am meant to go. Only in the silence, can I hear myself think, feel the keyboard on my fingertips or the paintbrush in my hand. Only in the silence can I see the colors I am supposed to see or what is calling to me and asking me to be noticed. Silence is how I find what I am supposed to be doing. 

As a creative, I have started to do what my sweet father taught me from my earliest memories. He would cover my ears and say, “Listen to the quiet.” I loved those moments. I loved the gentle feel of his hands covering my ears and the calming voice that soothed my spirit. 

With all of this in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that in the midst of our COVID pandemic I decided to leave my adult sons and run away to a hotel for the weekend. I just needed some alone time. What amazed me is that as soon as I got into the room, I eased into the quiet by surrounding myself with absolutely no extraneous noise – not even music. I ignored my phone and I sat in complete silence for about 5 or so hours. The only sound that I heard was the white noise of the air conditioner.

Only after I immersed myself in silence was I able to settle into doing what I love to do. I listened to podcasts, started working on a new project, and finally, I was ready to do what I love most of all – write.

Listening to the quiet is the magic sauce that nurtures me when I need to go inward and find my most authentic voice.  

I got this!

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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Aryeh in the ER 3.8.2020

Aryeh humored me and kept drinking lots of water and doing breathing exercises in the ER as we waited over four hours to be seen.

I am exhausted. Beyond exhausted actually.

Yesterday was a hard day. It started hard because I was craving time alone and simply couldn’t find it. It was hard because I wanted to clean my creativity cave (creative space), but didn’t have the energy to do so. It was hard because I couldn’t ground myself which means that I just didn’t have what it takes to be productive in the ways that I wanted to be.  AND  in the end none of this mattered at all because Aryeh got sick and for a few hours, my world felt like it was suffocating me.

A bad headache ended up causing his blood pressure to rise pretty high which lead the nurse practitioner at CVS’s MinuteClinic to send Aryeh to the ER. It didn’t matter that that logically I believed that he would be fine or that I figured whatever was wrong would ultimately lead him to a better place. It didn’t matter that I put a smile on my face when navigating the hospital or that I didn’t go into panic when I shared what was happening on Facebook.  Inside was a different story. Inside my heart was breaking because I will never forget the years that Aryeh struggled for his health.  As a teenager, he was plagued with a 6.5 centimeter arachnoid cyst wrapped around his brain. Two brain surgeries and years of excruciating pain plagued my son’s teenage years. And as I learned last night, those memories are never really too far from the surface.

While I outwardly, gathered the supplies I needed to take to the hospital, called and texted Aryeh’s dad as well as a couple of friends to let them know what was going on, and took Aryeh to the ER at Memorial Hermann Hospital, inside my entire spirit was crumbling. It didn’t matter that I really believed he would be ok. . . it didn’t matter at all. Because logic doesn’t shut down the memories that came flooding back. I used to be petrified of taking Aryeh to the hospital because I didn’t know if he would be able to return home with us. Or if he did return home, what his condition would be. For two years, Aryeh’s life was a question mark. Would he survive his hell? AND if he did survive his hell, how would he navigate life? Fortunately, he did so much more than survive. Aryeh struggled with health crisis after health crisis for three and a half years and then he moved forward to become the thriver that he is today.

Thirteen years have passed since Aryeh first went through his health crisis. But waiting in the ER for over four hours yesterday reminded me how profoundly fragile life can be.  The good news is that my intuition was spot on and it looks like Aryeh will be emerge from yesterday a healthier man.

Gratitude abounds and now it is my work to quiet the anxiety and deep seeded pain that is bubbling up post our visit to the ER.

Logic doesn’t always make a sense, sometimes emotions, memories, and anxiety get in the way. The good news is that hard moments don’t have to last forever.

Moving forward – always . . .

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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Much of my life I have felt trapped and it totally sucks.

I wonder if you can imagine what it is like to be stuck in a cold, dark cave – day in and day out for years. No one can hear you if you cry out in pain. And you can’t hear anything going on in the world around you. This was my life for much of my first two decades.

As a child and even now, I often feel like I am stuck in that dark and cold cave. Perhaps it is the reality of someone who barely heard until I was about 5 or 6 years old. Perhaps it is the story of a young child who was abused because her mother couldn’t escape her own demons. Or perhaps it is one of the many truths of a young teenager who was raped at the hands of someone who was supposed to support and protect her when the world had let her down.

Shattered - Believe you are whole even within the cracksWith almost no one to hold me or love me through the pain or realities of my life, I learned to dance around the quiet and ultimately to find my footing whenever I was alone. To this day, I stumble with close ones. I probably do this because after living my informative years in a metaphoric cave, I am comfortable there – most of the time.

Since I often still feel that I am alone in that dark cave of my childhood, I can find myself in hot water with friends who don’t quite know when I may be triggered or feel insignificant, unworthy, or silenced. The good news is that today I surround myself with beautiful and loving people who fill my world with sweetness.

The challenge is that once I go down the slippery slope and start wrestling with my own past demons, it takes a “real” friend to ease me out of my darkness.  The good news is that I am blessed; there is rarely an individual in my life who is trying to hurt or silence me.  I wish this reality made it easy for me to navigate tough moments, but the truth is that I can’t help but go there when I am feeling unheard or misunderstood.  When I visit this cycle with friends, I have to do the work of moving forward and the hardest part is showing up to the table and not giving up. In some ways, it is easier to let go of what hurts, but I also know that that is ridiculous. Remember, I surround myself with amazing souls.

Releasing myself from living in my metaphorical cave has been and may continue to be a lifetime journey.  On a good day, I know that  I am ABSOLUTELY not lost in a cave. On a bad day, I find it hard to breathe because there is no oxygen where I am. The good news is that I have come a long way since my beginnings.

But my early childhood often looms over any wisdom that should prevail. Still I keep moving forward and navigating relationships that will allow me the space to be real, to crumble, and to move forward.

Always moving forward; this is my journey.

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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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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