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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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Writing
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul;
Is what makes me WHOLE.

In the last few weeks, my writing has gotten me more in touch with a new internal rhythm. I have found myself filling my schedule with solitude. I am craving quiet in a way that I have never done before.

An old fashioned planner is starting to take shape and allowing me to become more accountable not only to my solitude, but also my work and my health journey. Very consciously, I am making choices on how to navigate time. As serendipity would have it, I I found this amazing quote presumably by Henry David Thoreau as I was beginning to write this blog entry.

‘Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it,
the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you,
it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”

black butterflyI am being drawn to actively engage in life through choosing a more conscious way of moving forward with my daily life.

Why now? AND How will it look?

Health Journey – I want to be the healthiest I can be. So, I have made some AMAZING changes in my life over the last couple of months.

  • Diet – I am eating:
    • three healthy meals a day.
    • no added sweeteners in my diet. The exception is that I do drink alcohol occasionally.
    • almost no animal products.
    • or drinking lots of water and no sodas!!!!
    • mostly whole foods.
  • Movement – I am seeing myself as someone who can live life actively.
    • Each day I am walking 10,000 steps in the morning and I am also taking walks in the evening.
    • Next summer, I hope to take four to six weeks and bike along the west coast. The plan is to drive to British Columbia and then travel south towards Northern California and beyond as possible. Taking each day to explore the world via my bike. I have yet to map out the trip, explore the financial feasibility of making this happen, or to purchase the bike I will train on. BUT I have decided that I will make some version of this trip happen; I am so excited!
    • In the fall, I will purchase a new or used bike and start my training including how to make simple bike repairs. Wondering if anyone in Houston is up for teaching me. 🙂
    • Even this past weekend, my oldest son and I took a trip to Austin and basically walked and walked some more. We had high hopes of going to some artsy areas, but found ourselves drawn to simply taking in the downtown area.
  • Overall Health Exploration – Simply doing what I have to do.
    • At this point, I have lost about 25 lbs since June. While I seem to have temporarily plateaued, I am simply continuing to make more right choices daily. The weight and my health will continue in a fabulous direction as I continue my health journey.
    • Recently went for a physical and found out that I no longer pre-diabetic for the first time in decades. Now I am working on lowering my cholesterol through exercise and eating better.
    • Just had my vision checked, purchased a new prescription for my glasses, and new glasses. The best part about this vision journey is that I can now see.
    • Recently saw my orthopedic surgeon as follow-up because my back has been hurting.
    • Will have my annual mammogram and bone density scan next week. It was scheduled for last week, but the office called to let me know that the air conditioner was not working. If this had been six months ago, I would have yet to reschedule.
    • Waiting for the results for my brca test to see if I have the genes that will up my chances in having breast or ovarian cancer.
    • Still need to schedule my colonoscopy. . .this seems to be the one appointment I have yet to make. I’ve called, but for some reason, I do not have an appointment yet. I will make that happen before the end of the day.
    • Finally, I need to see the dentist. It’s time. . .it has been far too long.
  • Sleep – I am trying to allow myself more time to sleep. So far, I am not as successful as I’d like to be. And yet, I am going to take a nap in a few minutes.
  • Spiritual Journey
    • Taking time to explore SARK via her books and a facebook group.
    • Listening to podcasts by people that make my heart sing.
    • Allowing for more time to chant and pray daily
    • Looking forward to my Elul journey as I prepare for Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.
    • Studying Torah each week and helping a friend write her D’var Torah or sermon for her upcoming anniversary of her Bat Mitzvah.
  • Creative Journey – Let me count the ways :). . .
    • Writing daily
      • journaling
      • working on my book (and deciding if it needs to be two)
    • Creating Vision Boards – I even lead a vision board workshop a little over a week ago and can’t wait to lead another one.
    • Doodling
    • Trying to do some watercolor
    • Being inspired  by AWESOME podcasts and books

All of this and more is leading me to make different decisions in how I navigate life. I have decided to allow for the quiet by engaging in far less chatter. So for now, I will not take as much time connecting with friends, social media, and the news.

For the next nearly 60 days until after all the fall Jewish holidays are over, I will focus inward. I will do whatever it takes to love my body, my mind, and definitely my soul. I will use this time to dig deeper and explore through my journaling and doodling what it is I want and need to live a more holy and grounded life.

Most of my life has been filled with what I think I should do and less about what my spirit needs to thrive. I am at a fabulous crossroads right now; this is the perfect time for me to go inward and make some decisions about how I am going to best nourish my life and reach for all that I want. (Note: Inspired by Elle Luna’s book, The Crossroads of Should and Must.)

Reality check

Tikkun Olam – Repairing the World

While I’d love to go completely inward, there is a lot going on in the world that needs my attention.

  • We have less than 100 days to get elected officials that will speak more for human beings and for love of our world.
  • We also have children and parents that need need be reunited.
  • Accountability needs to happen both in the United States and Israel.

This is not the time for me to shut down completely.

#The100DayProject – I will be starting this project in just less than a week; I am still exploring my options, but I have a few GREAT ideas.

Will you join me? Starting Sunday, August 12/1 Elul through Tuesday, November 20/12 Kislev would love to play with others in generally a solitary activity. “Basically, if you can dream it, you can do it. The only premise? Participants have to do the same action every day for 100 days, and they have to document every instance of 100. Sounds totally cool, right?” For more information check out this link, #The100DayProject.

For the first time in years, I am excited (and really nervous) about the possibilities that are surrounding me. The last several years have been really full, but today I am blessed with the ability to go mostly inward with a goal of living authentically in every way.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

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Prologue:
My father died 17 years and one day ago. While the loss feels fresh, it really was 6,206 days since my beloved father took his last breath. He left behind seven grandchildren who adored him along with their parents too. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of him or the way he walked in the world.  My father loved to tell stories, he was always telling stories. 

~ ~ ~

 “There’s always room for a story that can
transport people to another place.”
~J.K. Rowling

As a little girl, I remember devouring story after story. It didn’t matter how a story came to me. Good storytellers and good books held equal footing as far as I was concerned, but the man who will forever be remembered as the most amazing storyteller in the world is none other than my dad, Morry Bloomberg.

My father had a way with words. He could engage friend or stranger, child or adult. Wherever he went, he would find a perfect story to share and a way to lift people’s spirits.

As a young girl, I remember going into Giant, our local grocery store, and each and every cashier wanted Morry in their lines. It seemed like everyone would address him by name and take a moment to say hi to him. I loved how people knew my father and wanted to connect with him.

booksDad gave me love of words, all words. While he riveted me with his stories, he also loved reading and encouraged me to read and then read some more. It was through my own reading that I was able to visit far away places and navigate childhood as I did.

Gratitude Abounds:
Today, I can always be found with a book that I am reading, a podcast that is keeping me on the edge of my seat, and my own creative writing. Words fuel my soul.

And as luck would have it, I love telling stories and can sometimes be found sharing those stories with others whether in a grocery store line, an elevator, a classroom, or even a stage.

I am the storyteller and writer that I am because my father filled my world with stories.

My father will always hold the sacred space in my heart as being the best storyteller ever! If he is looking down at me, I hope he is proud of how he taught me to honor the power of words and inspired me to share my own stories.

NOTE: Please offer feedback by commenting on this post or letting me know that you like it after reading it. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud Maya Angelou

Enter a caption

There is so much power that comes from silence or from speaking the right words.

Over the last month plus, I have been loving and caring for people that have been facing enormous changes, pain, impending loss, and loss. Most often, there are few or no words to say.

Some people need to feel the love, some know it is there even if it goes unspoken, and some need to talk, to cry, and to be. This makes navigating these connections so very challenging.

Tonight, I received a call from a friend who suffered one of the most tragic losses one could imagine. She needed to talk, to pray, to receive words of comfort.

With little or no voice, I prayed with her. I offered her words of comfort, and I shared prayers and poetry to help her navigate her pain. AND most importantly, I listened. I was so grateful to be there for her and so grateful I answered the phone in my quiet and squeaky voice. (My voice has been on vacation this week.)

I wish I always had the right words to share at every moment and the supportive silence to flow at the right time. I don’t, but I really do my best.

In this moment, I am grateful when I can give what people need and sad when I can’t.

These past months have been humbling. As I have watched so many I adore navigate tough times, I have learned much about human nature and also even more about myself. One of the most challenging truths is that not everyone walks through the world as I do. Their tragedy or struggle is not the same for me as it is for them. My job is to meet those in pain where they are.

Another thing that has become crystal clear is that I need to emerge more authentically as the spiritual soul that I am. And yes, there is always so much to learn with each step. It is time for me to seek more environments/opportunities that allow my full spirit to shine.

Many years ago, I did a chant training in which two of my now dear friends created a chant that said, “Hineini (I am here); How can I serve YOU.” I don’t remember the chant as much as I’d like, but I the words still resonate.

This has been a time of deep reflection for me. I am learning; I am growing.

May I be blessed with the right words or the silence to support those I love and serve.

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