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Archive for the ‘Writing: A Window Into My Soul’ Category

Prologue: I wrote this for a Sisterhood Friday Service at my Temple a few weeks ago. With each word came a deep awareness. Life is hard and yet as long as I can see the possibilities, I can navigate life’s many moving parts. AND I am blessed with both beautiful days and challenging days that lead to better days.   While sad moments crush my spirit, those moments pass allowing me to embrace blessings, light, and love.

~ ~ ~

Hiking Boots

Moving Forward. . . .Always

Awakening

Opening my eyes I found:
my spirit soaring.
my heart beating strongly.
my entire being at peace.

The universe has been waiting for me.

With the patience of a beloved (lover), she kept calling me from the distance and waiting. . . always waiting.
Beckoning me to breathe a little more deeply
Inspiring me to honor my own rhythm
Asking me to listen to the silence
Empowering me to release what no longer serves me

And I listened. Now I am ready to show up.

Hineini, Here I am!

What does it mean to be here? Right here?

The answer is simple and yet not simple. I am called to show up with a full heart and a full spirit. I am called to serve the best way I know how.

What does it mean for me to say Hineini, I am here? It means that I do what I can to make this world a beautiful place. I try to be authentic and loving. I try to put a smile on my face even when my heart is breaking.

It also means I hold the door open for the stranger. And I give all that I can to someone who is in need. Sometimes it means that I stand up strong for what I believe in and sometimes I remain silent because it isn’t the right time to speak my truth or share my thoughts.

Hineini, I am here. My job is to love humanity and to do my best to add a little light to our world.

Will you join me on this journey? What will you do to make this world just a little better for someone else, maybe a stranger, maybe a beloved?

Hineini, I am here. Are you?

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(Note: This blog is full of raw honesty and may be hard for some of my beloveds to read. Please don’t feel obligated. With my 53rd birthday on the horizon, I am being to drawn to share an awareness that has been emerging over the last month as I have been writing for my upcoming book, Thriving: No Option.)

img_2681As a young child, I saw my father as my knight in shining armor. I adored him with every fiber of my being. I could never get enough time with him. Never. Wherever he went, I wanted to follow. His love for people and music was so contagious that I followed in his footsteps. He adored me and showed me in so many ways. But in truth, he didn’t show me in the most important way he should have. He left me navigating a life of pure unadulterated darkness. My father was the first man to leave my spirit shattered. A cycle that I’ve allowed to perpetuate itself time and time again.

While there is no question that my father loved me, he didn’t keep me safe. In fact, his silence permanently scarred me by allowing me to be regularly beaten, verbally assaulted, and ultimately raped. It is only recently, that the full impact of his actions and inactions have left my spirit gasping for air.

How could a man that loved me as my father did allow my own mother to beat me? How could a man that loved me as he did stay with a violent and mentally ill woman instead of providing a safe place to call home. My mother’s violence lead me into foster care and into the hands of a man that would rape me. My best friend’s family wanted to take me as their foster child, but I knew enough to say no even though I couldn’t stop the initial assaults.

My father might have been able to make a difference if he had been stronger, but that wasn’t my father. Instead I never learned that I was worthy of love and care. . . not really.

A few weeks ago, I was stung by the onslaught of this very  unwanted realization. Since then my sleep has been troubled and I have found myself shedding tears at some of the most inopportune moments. The nightmares and clenched teeth of my sleep have become unwanted guests. Although, as soon as I identified what was going on, the healing began.

At first, my awareness was about what my father had done and not done, but later I was stunned by what has become an even more problematic realization. The first relationship I ever had with a man overshadowed every interaction with men that followed. Instead of finding loving relationships with men that loved and cared for the person I was, I found loving relationships that ultimately left me hurting. How could it have been any different, I didn’t know how I needed to be cared for and loved. Besides that, relationships can be challenging. . .especially when they are ending.

The men were not intentionally hurtful,  I think I just struggled more because of the baggage I was holding. I lacked the inner strength to navigate reality.  Some relationships aren’t right or meant to last. Some relationships offer you the most treasured packages, but not forever. I believe that that’s life. The challenge is that my heart and spirit just didn’t have the grace when it was time to release old loves so that we could both move as we needed.

Today, I know this: I want someone to hold me when I need to cry inconsolable tears. I want to be loved through the pain of major surgery. I want someone who loves me when my entire being is on overload and I am celebrating both silly successes and major programs. I want to love someone who can listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s wisdom and “embrace the glorious mess that I am.”

I have chosen people that can’t show up for me, but that cycle is breaking now.

Hineini, Here I am!!!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – I am sad that my father never kept me safe or loved the fullness of my spirit, but my responsibility to make healthy choices now. I learned a lot from my beloved father. I am just sorry I learned some really hard lessons too.

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“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
― Vincent Van Gogh

Have you ever been paralyzed by taking your first step in something that you really wanted to do? Of course you have, we all have!

Tonight as I was talking to my dear friend Sami (not her real name) when I intuitively felt drawn to share with her that it is time for her to get out of her own way. I strongly suggested that she choose to do‘4 ACTIONS IN 4 DAYS’.

The goal is simple. I suggested that my friend stop allowing herself to get stuck in the ruts. In fact, I specifically told her to stop hugging the ruts. We all do this sometimes; I am no different. For me, my challenge is staying in loving relationships with men that are beautiful, but not available for me on a soul level. This realization has been with me for a while, but it is only over the last several weeks that I have finally found my voice, realized what I had to do, and become empowered to release and heal from my previous cycles.

Creatively, I have also had a few ruts. Some of these ruts include:

  • Fear of painting and sharing my work. For that I started #The100DayProject after listening to the most amazing podcast, The Chase Jarvis Live Show, in which he interviewed Elle Luna. The two interviews that Chase did with Elle Luna lead me to do my own #ActivistCardsByChava. You can google it if you want to see a few examples. Needless to say that this 100 Day Project stayed with me for well over 100 Days AND it has opened several new doors for me.
  • Sharing my writing was really difficult for me at first.  After hearing a professor of a graduate level writing class tell me that I was a horrible writer and that I should give it up, that is exactly what I chose to do in early twenties. And then after over a decade of refusing to write, I started writing again after my second son was born when a few magazines wanted to publish his story. BUT I wasn’t writing with any regularity. That all changed in March 2009 when I started this blog.
  • Choosing to take care of myself has often been one of the hardest ruts I have had to navigate. Today, I openly share my weight journey, track my steps, and reach out to friends so that I can ask for creative solutions for moving forward. Success has come as I have actively embraced my health journey by eating better, moving more, and losing about 85 lbs. I am literally growing into a healthier person.

In my conversation, I suggest that she simply move forward tomorrow by deciding what 4 actions she’d like to do over the next 4 days. For me, I can say that while I may have been thinking about each of these possible transformations for a long while. Once I realized it was time, I didn’t look back. The plans came to me in moments and I simply started taking one step and then other.  I literally opened my eyes and my heart and without looking back I found my way.

The most valuable lesson can be summed up by the wisdom found when Chase Charvis  interviewed his friend mountaineer and philanthropist Melissa Arnot Reid:

Day 15 - Walk up hills slowlsyStanding still will not propel any of us forward. I am so hoping that Sami can find the inner strength to take one step and then another. May my friend and all of us find the actions we need in order to transform ourselves in a way that helps us become more grounded while soaring as human beings.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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The blanket of darkness
often brings crystal clear visions.
~Nighttime Reflection by Chava

When I was a little girl, the middle of the night was filled with fear of the unknown. Blood curdling screams would fill my reality as I my parents screeching voices would penetrate the night air. While in reality, they surely didn’t live this ritual every night, it felt like they did because interrupted sleep was always my reality – first because of their outbursts and than because of my reactions to their outbursts. I never did learn to sleep.

Later, years later, as I sat by my father’s bedside during his last days. I distinctly remember coming to the realization that I was grateful to how much healing had taken place from all the childhood drama; it was a good thing because we basically had no more tomorrows; my father’s days were numbered. And yet, my all night vigils brought a little extra healing and peace too. I forgave my father for the pain of my childhood and moved forward as I tried to calm his spirit and love him towards his death. While this brief period of time was hard, it was also trans-formative.  Somehow this time started my journey towards seeing the healing power of darkness.

Unfortunately, the night skies along with the darkness once again became painful a few years later when my oldest son became critically ill.  During this time, I sat in devastation mode, but night was absolutely the worst. Sitting  by the bedside of my very sick teenage son, I knew that his life was nearly over before it began. There were moments when I would drift off to sleep only to wake up in a panic. And yet, he did ultimately thrive! But during his years of healing, it was in the darkness of the night that left me most devastatingly alone. There was no one to call, no one to hold me as I trembled with fear and exhaustion; I was often alone hoping that I could just make it until the sun came up. In those years, the sun always brought a sense of calmness and moving forward, but the moon reminded me that sometimes tomorrows never come.

I love how time has mostly healed what I once thought of the night’s darkness. Over time I have again been able to meet the dark skies with new appreciation. Initially, the middle of the night still brings a moment of angst, but only when I first open my eyes. Easing into wakefulness, I’m often able to find tremendous inner peace leading to the knowledge that calmness will follow. I have grown to love the solitude and the quiet. In the darkness, I find peace with who I am and how I walk in the world; I am better able to navigate the many moving parts of my spirit.  This poem by David Whyte does an amazing job of putting words to how I now feel.

‘SWEET DARKNESS

When your eyes are tired 
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone, 
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark 
where the night has eyes 
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure 
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home 
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon 
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing. 
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds 
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet 
confinement of your aloneness 
to learn

anything or anyone 
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

Louisa - late winter 2015The darkness is where I find what I need, what is good for my soul, and how I will best navigate the world I live.

There is so much power in re-framing the hard stuff. Transformation is possible. 🙂

May darkness always be a gift that allows me to go inward as a means to living in my truth.

Onward with love, light, darkness, & blessings,
Chava

 

 

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“If you can see your path laid out in front of you
step by step,
you know it’s not your path.
Your own path you make with every step you take.
That’s why it’s your path.”
~Joseph Campbell

Choosing the life I want is no longer an option. If I want my spirit to thrive, I have to create the moving parts that will ultimately nourish my soul.

There is nothing self indulgent about navigating the world with open heart, mind, and spirit. In fact, my entire being has not only the right, but the responsibility to show up fully in my own life.

pathway-after-monsoon-john-judin-june-2016Over the last several days, I have been blown away by the messages that keep showing up while reminding me that I need to do the same thing.

  • Elle Luna’s book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your  and amazing podcasts inspired by her book.
  • SARK’s teachings – Specifically this month, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy mentoring focused on giving her students tools so they could begin Making More Alive Choices.
  • Watching how “This Is Me” unfolded and ultimately touched so many lives in “The Greatest Showman”. As I viewed this scene, tears rolled down my face as I processed my own journey towards finding inner courage and bravery to stand strong as the woman I am. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLFEvHWD_NE

As someone who has been battered and bruised, I literally lost it when I heard Keala Settle sing:

I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

As a THRIVER, no one would want to see the darkness that I have seen. I am blessed because today I have emerged into the beautiful and strong woman than I am. This comes with tremendous responsibility for me to show up and to do the dance of life in the most authentic way that I can.

Hineini, Here I am!

Life is calling to me in ways that it has never lived before. I am learning, stretching, and evolving on a daily basis. I am literally reaching in directions that I have never seen before.

In less than two months alone, I have started taking care of myself in new ways. I no longer eat sugar nor most flour. I walk five miles daily, journal regularly, and am working on a book. I am also working for an amazing community and I have started to see new ways for me to  bring my love of life to my community. I am learning/ I am stretching; I am growing!

Even before the last two months, I have found myself over the last several years growing my creative spirit by surrounding myself with beauty and order, connecting with artists, dreamers, and  philosophers, and developing enduring spiritual and creative practices.

Each step has lead me to find balance and grounding on some profound new surfaces. If you had asked me a decade ago or even six months ago, where I would be today, I wouldn’t have had a clue because I don’t think I understood the infinite possibilites. Today, I am allow the opportunities to guide me as I walk.

I am alive; I am thriving; and I have made it to this time!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

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Ocean Sept 2014

Photo courtesy of my beloved friend, Shay Seaborne.

Awareness flows through me.

Regardless of how ridiculous I know a feeling may be, it doesn’t take the feeling away.  There are simply times when inner pain and loneliness settle into my soul. Those are the days that darkness is my closest friend and profound sadness has infiltrated my essence.

On those days, my broken heart has prevailed and the storms that sometimes lay dormant have overtaken my spirit. While these days can feel debilitating, they don’t overtake me for long. But while they are visiting, they leave me void of the strength to rise as high as I’d like to.

While today started off as one of the gloomiest in a long time, I remembered to breathe and pushed myself to keep moving. I even allowed myself to share my deep sadness with a couple of people that seem to love me regardless of the open wounds. Miraculously and unexpectedly, I emerged. I was able to reflect the love and kindness I was receiving back to wounded person that needed it most – me.

What I know without a doubt is that bad days happen, but even the worst moments can become a little easier with the help of breathing deeply, taking time to journal, and loving kindness from others mirrored back to me.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Over the last several years, I have learned that creating a practice for myself is spiritually nurturing and enables me to navigate life with more ease.  A few of my daily practices that have nourished me include:

  • not eating gluten or sugar
  • writing morning pages or journaling
  • writing love notes to my IWS (inner wise soul)
  • chanting
  • drumming
  • writing affirmations
  • creating daily mandalas
  • making my bed in the morning
  • drinking water with apple cider vinegar every morning
  • thanking the universe for special moments before closing my eyes at night.
  • and so much more . . .

Creating these daily practices has helped me to become more grounded in living. Just in the last month or so, I have added walking 5 miles in the morning while listening to inspiring podcasts and eating much better than I have in years. With these actions, I can see my overall health improving; I am thriving in so many ways!!!

I am not sure when I found podcasts, but this fairly recent phenomena brings me immense joy and even balance. I know that I feel deeply and process life’s journeys a little longer than maybe I should. The good news is that when I listen to some of the better podcasts, I realize that I am not alone in how I walk in the world. AWESOME podcasts jazz the deep and sometimes dark crevices of my soul while inviting me to stretch, to grow, and to evolve as a human being.

IntroOne of the recent podcasts I tripped over was with Chase Jarvis interviewing Elle Luna who co-wrote the book, Your Story is Your Power. During this interview I realized that I had actually read Elle’s first book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion. No wonder some of the teachings and ideas sounded familiar. After listening to Chase interview Elle for her latest book, I had to listen to an earlier interview with these two exquisite visionaries. If you want to listen to either of the two podcasts that helped birth the #The100DayProject here are the links.

You could also explore it via Dr. Google, there is great information that can be found on the internet. Here is one of the better pieces with links and information/ideas.  https://thegreatdiscontent.com/interview/elle-luna-100-day-project

My hope is to inspire some of you to do this project with me. I am still figuring out the process, but here are my “rules/non-rules”. Basically you do what you want and have fun, but if you want to join me here are some guidelines that you can use:

  1. The only premise is that participants have to do the same action every day for 100 days, and for those of you that want to share the process and have accountability, you can document it on Facebook and/or Instagram. Feel free to tag me or to add your photo onto my comments of either social media platform.
  2. My start day is Sunday, August 12/1 Elul through Tuesday, November 20/12 Kislev . The Hebrew start date comes from the Jewish calendar and is meaningful to me because it is a time of reflection within the Jewish calendar. This is not meant to exclude anyone, it is just that I am making note of it for myself.
  3. While #The100DayProject is an opportunity to be part of a larger group, it can be as solitary of an activity as you would like.
  4. I will be sharing my journey on Facebook (@Chava Gal-Or) and Instagram (@NeshamaWriter) using two hashtags #The100DayProject which is a hashtag that all of us can do and for my personal project, I will use #ActivistCardsByChava. My suggestion is that you make a hashtag for your project if you plan on sharing it via social media.
  5. Finally, if you choose to keep this project private, consider documenting it for yourself. AND besides, if you would like to share with me, I’d really love to see what you’re up to.

My Project:
#ActivistCardsByChava are cards that I will be creating to motivate  people (or perhaps just me) in the journey of making the world a better place. There are a lot of moving parts that go into making a difference. Simple smiles, rallying for human rights/dignity, making phone calls, writing letters/articles/social media posts, quotes, and self care are all possibilities of what will be included in the Activist Cards. I have been thinking of doing this project for a few months and now I have the opportunity to make it happen. Ultimately, I hope that these cards are full of inspiration. (Note: I am open to suggestions if you have another suggestion of what to call these cards.)

I am so excited about pushing myself differently than I ever have. While I love to write and doodle, I have rarely shared my doodles with others. I am using the #The100DayProject to play and see how and if this evolves in any way. Regardless of how this project works for me, I am so excited to be stretching in a new way.

As an activist, I have decided to add one more part to my project. While I am being transparent, I have no expectation that anyone has to join me in this. At the same time, feel free to do so. I will be making colorful pictures with simple designs with sweet sayings in Spanish that I can ultimately pass on to DMRS, Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services. HUGS is a creative heart initiative for sending loving notes to 300 kids, 0 to 17 at four detention centers in Texas. If your card contains images only, like you art and/or loving drawings you can send directly to:

DMRS
2400A Yandell Drive
El Paso, Texas 79903.

If you are writing words or letters, feel free to reach out to my friend Dana at danablechman@yahoo.com or make sure that you have another Spanish speaker check your translation.   If you are interested in joining me in this second part of the #The100DayProject, here is some information:

  • Do not use on-line/computer translation. If you do not speak Spanish fluently or know someone who does, Dana has offered to help.
  • Suggested size is 1/4 page on cardstock
  • Keep cards non-political
  • Make the card as creative or as simple as you’d like
  • Remember that there is a wide range of ages who will be receiving these cards.

In any case, feel free to join me in the #The100DayProject. Just the thought of having you join me makes me really happy.

Onward with love, light, and creativity,

Chava

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