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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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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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I’ve come a long way in 39 years. . .

Thirty-nine years ago, I hit rock bottom with nowhere to go. Literally. At fourteen years old, my world came crashing down and I went to one of the darkest chambers of my being and straight into foster care.  During the preceding months, life had gone from really from terrible to hell. I was repeatedly beaten by my mother (both verbally and physically), living in fear of all that life had to offer, continuously being molested by the man who would later rape me and who’s family had wanted to become my foster family.

My life was far from safe and my spirit was crushed. I was alone and scared. AND yet, even though I did not have all the tools I needed, I was ultimately strong enough to save myself and find the strength on that dark, cool October evening. I left my house before my mother could hurt me yet one more time. I dodged the knife she was using to ‘teach me a lesson’ AND I ran. I made it to my neighbor’s’s house where I felt more alone than I had ever felt before. I knew that everything I knew was gone. I didn’t know who would love me or if I would ever be safe. I did know that there was no going back. The experience traumatized me forever.

Thirty-nine years ago, I stayed home to celebrate my favorite Jewish holiday called Simchat Torah. On this holiday, I went to my synagogue, danced with the Torahs and my community, and celebrated the yearly cycle of reading the Torah. At Beth Israel, my synagogue, I was surrounded by joy, laughter, song, and love. My home-life was everything but that. When services were over, I rushed home to study for whatever science test I had. Only my mother was nuts that night, even more than usual.

While I had suffered at the hands of my mother for my entire life, her abuse was escalating. What amazes me is that I had the fortitude to leave even though I had no where to go – not really.  In the end, my mother didn’t destroy my spirit. Her actions helped me to develop the tools I needed to be who I am! I am alive. I am thriving. I have made it to this time.

My roots go down. . . .MY RESILIENCE HAS ALWAYS PREVAILED!

Resilience has guided me since I can remember. This doesn’t mean I am always able to keep my shit together, but it does mean that ultimately, I keep finding the inner strength to do what I need to do.

Life has thrown me some serious punches, some of them more devastating than others. I have experience serious illness of loved ones, including my sons. I have lost many pregnancies and navigated a hard divorce. I have buried friends and lost friends to life’s circumstances. I know I am not alone in what I have navigated what’s above and so much more. The beautiful reality is that through it all, I have continued to show up at the table – again and again.*

I think I am who I am because the roots of my childhood have kept me grounded. I am resilient.

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.

(*Note – I have been saying so much of what Rising Appalachia says in their song. I LOVE this song; I can’t stop listening to it.)

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December 2016 - looking outEach morning I wake up by taking a few very deep breaths, scanning my body for soreness/tightness, and quietly praying for the inner strength to live with the fullness of my spirit.

I also take time to stretch my limbs, drink water, and check the news to see if our world is more broken then before I closed my eyes. And then I seek stories of beauty and empowerment.

Eventually, I check to see how some of my peeps are doing on social media and send prayers out into the universe for those that are sick – body, mind, or soul.

If I am really honest, the moments before daybreak leave me with a deep sense of darkness for our world, loneliness at feeling so alone as I open my eyes, and a strong sense of loss for all that has slipped through my fingers over the years. AND almost as soon as those feelings emerge, I choose to shake off the doldrums and reach for the light that really does surround me. I choose resiliency and courage with a wide open heart.

And with each breath, I feel deeply. This means that even thought I often smile broadly and reflect a loving energy, I also struggle to hold the courage and remain resilient. Sometimes what I want to do is crumble, but instead I choose to take one step and then another.

While the sadness is very real, I have learned that it is hard to soar if I don’t get out of my own way. With this in mind, I have created some tools to help ground me.

  • One of the first things I do each morning is make my bed. I remember hearing somewhere that just making my bed means that you are starting your day with an accomplishment.
  • Each and every day, I seek to find the gifts that surround me (even those within the challenges).
  • Journaling is part of my daily life.
  • While writing daily has become a centering practice, I now take time to paint and doodle daily.
  • Whenever I can, I sit on the floor and go barefoot on the grass. This helps me remain grounded in our very turbulent world.
  • Ask me how I am and expect me to answer honestly.
  • I am seeking ways to nurture myself through healthy food and healthy living.

Every day I consciously decide what I want in my life and what does not serve me. I choose to thrive by riding the waves that are in front of me.

With each step, I set non-negotiable goals for myself as I negotiate what I can manage in activism, work, and within my many social networks; I also endeavor to live in the easiest possible way so that I am able to eat, to exercise, and to do amazing self-care. It isn’t always easy, but having non-negotiables is what makes a difference for me.  It allows me to focus on riding the waves instead of the alternative.

Over time I have learned that the only way I can thrive it through making certain my life has:

  • order
  • space for creativity – especially writing and watercolor painting
  • authenticity to be real
  • connection with people that nurture my spirit and accept me for who I am.

May we all ride the waves of life and stay on the surfboard as much as humanly possible.

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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Chava'sEar

Until I was 5 or so years old, I don’t remember hearing too much of anything. Perhaps I did hear, perhaps I didn’t hear. I don’t really know.  The story I tell myself and that I recall my parents telling me is that I didn’t hear too well until a few weeks post-surgery when the doctors took my adenoids and also did some exploratory surgery with the bones in my ears.

The truth doesn’t really matter. What I do know is that I have always struggled to hear. And when I was younger, I had nine years of speech therapy just to teach me how to articulate myself clearly. Sigh. And to this day, I often worry that people can’t understand what I am saying. But I digress.

When I was in elementary and junior high school (which is now called middle school), the teachers always assigned me to sit in the first row of the classroom or to sit closest to the front of the room. As a child, this made me made me feel like I was being singled out and I was. For this reason, the first days of school always left me trembling in fear. I hated being different; I so wanted to be like all the rest of the children. Only I never was. In so many ways, I was different, only it took me years to understand them all.

Growing up hearing impaired, I struggled to understand what was going on in the world around me and on rare occasions I still do. While I have always outwardly adapted, inwardly I felt and often still feel awkward and inadequate. At the same time, I have always pushed through these feelings so much so that most people often have no clue how poorly I hear or how I feel about it. From a young age, I learned to compensate by reading lips. While I can’t read lips fluently, what I do makes it possible be able to catch most of what is being spoken. Ultimately, I usual find a way to navigate this internal reality.

Feeling invisible has always plagued me and yet it is so silly because I am far from invisible. My holy work is to quiet or silence the Inner Demon that relives the loneliness of that little girl that often felt unseen and alone.

The good news is that for the most part I rarely allow myself to get bummed about my lack of hearing; however, that is not to say I am OK with it either. Mostly, I go through life teetering through the momentary patches of stupid comments that come out of people’s mouth when they think they are being cute as they say “huh” when I let them know I am hearing impaired. While I outwardly laugh because those people are trying to be funny, I also cringe inside because I have been haunted by this reality my entire life.

Every once in a long while I spiral to that dark place that comes from hating that I miss so much of the world that I deeply love. I miss precious words, social interactions, beautiful music, the rolling thunder, and so much more.

I am blessed to travel in circles that mostly allow me to hear with as much ease as possible. I tend to sit where I can best catch the conversations with as much ease as possible. And when I go to a workshop or a lecture, I hope for amplification, but when there isn’t amplification, I sit either close to the where the speaker will be standing or sometimes where I can best see the facilitator’s lips.  This tends to work most of the time except when it doesn’t.

There was the time that I was at an advocacy training when the facilitator wanted to have all the participants sit within close proximity of him. GREAT IDEA! The only challenge was that all the seats were taken that would have allowed me to be where he wanted me to be and to hear too. So, I did the next best thing, I sat one row back so that I would be able to read his lips. Only that wasn’t what he wanted. He was so focused on preparing for his talk that he seemed to be ignoring that I told him that I needed to sit where I am sitting so that I can read his lips; I was advocating for myself. Instead of saying no problem, he dug his heals in and made me say that I need to read lips two or three more times before he just gave up frustrated. In the end, I stayed where I was sitting. Only by that time I was feeling so marginalized that I barely heard a word he said, and I certainly didn’t want to look at his lips.

The experience made me go into my default mode. Instead of simply being happy that he gave up and I could then go on to hear his talk, I found myself despondent with old wounds opening. I felt so sad and small. I’ve always known I was hearing impaired. Yay! This is my f*cking reality; I live it every day. Reality.

For that 90 minutes, I couldn’t soothe my brokenness. I hated not hearing and I hated missing what people were saying. It was what it was. The shame and embarrassment of having to say that I needed to read lips because I can’t hear was too much for me. No one wants to be differently-abled, but sometimes we have no choice.

My guess is that the presenter had no idea what can of worms he had opened up for me as he was prepping for his lecture. I’ve been there. Nonetheless, I found myself deeply sad and crying throughout the entire day. His one moment of thoughtless left me crumbling inside. Does it make sense? Absolutely not! I am stronger than that, but for the better part of that day old wounds were oozing out and it took time for a new scab to form. The good news is that the presenter apologized after he was done speaking and I gently let him know what he had done.

Meanwhile, I know that once triggers happen, I will ultimately be alright if I take time to nurture my spirit by breathing deeply and feeling the sadness, pain, or any emotion that comes my way. I may not like my lack of hearing, but it is what it is.

Life happens. I am the woman I am because of my life experiences. I am: strong, intuitive, brave, emotional, smart, sensitive, passionate, hearing impaired, and so much more. I do hear now. AND I will one day, probably sooner rather than later, need hearing aids.  I am so OK with this.  In fact, I have “theoretically” always been OK with this. I have simply struggled to find the right hearing aids and the money to purchase them. In truth, if I found the right ones, I would find a way to make it happen.

I got this! I have always had this!

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.

Day 55 - Tears Can Cleanse your heart and spirit

 

 

 

 

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