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Posts Tagged ‘angels’

Waking up
I breathe deeply to check in with my soul.
Am I alive? I mean, am I REALLY alive?
Can I move my body? Am I ready to do my ‘Dance of Emergence’?
Is my spirit ready for the day? Will today be a day for soaring, simply navigating, or crashing?

I love fully – always too fully.
Listening to the rhythm of the earth and all her inhabitants impacts me deeply
Chaos reigns
Values don’t make sense
The struggle to navigate makes breathing hard.
But then the angels appear. . .the angels always appear.

The world is challenging for someone who walks like me.
And yet,
every day I open my arms wide
reaching for the world I love
I say
Hineini
I am here to serve.

This is my journey in life.

When I give my smile or share my spirit, it is real. And when I feel grounded and safe in that connection I want it to last forever. Only it rarely does.

Over the years, I have learned that I am too intense for the world I live.  But instead of hiding behind what my gut feels, I honor myself by adhering to the words of Emile Zola, “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: “I am here to live out loud.”

This means that I show up to connect with friends, for meetings, political gatherings, or even the March For Our Lives as I did today. I show up even when I’d rather be in a quieter place. I also choose when I allow for the quiet, when I go into my own space so that I can create, daydream, or simply nurture my spirit.

Chava from behind with kippahFinding balance takes work. I say and do the things that jazz my soul, but also have the possibility of making a difference. I do this as a Jewish educator, a woman, an activist, a friend, a mother, a writer, and a  human being.

Living in the universe as I do means that I climb a lot of mountains only to stumble to keep my footing.  It also means that there are times I reach great heights and soar when I least expect it. The many moving parts of the world are relentless.

I pray with my feet as often as I can, never hiding who I am or what I believe.  At the same time, I am a seeker who chants, drums, meditates, and dreams. I am also an introvert that most people believe is an extrovert.

Actively living in the world and spending so much time navigating my work, my passions, my loved ones, and life has taken its toll. While I will keep my arms and heart open wide, I also struggle to find, to build, and to maintain sweet connections with those that consciously walk in the world. This has become a non-negotiable over the last several years.

I wasn’t always this way. In fact, I am not sure when it changed.

While I have always walked as I loved our world with all of the gifts and challenges that it brings, I used to care with a bit more detachment. And then about 20 years ago, something inside of me changed. I am not sure of the particular event or a triggered memory. But suddenly I couldn’t turn off my feelings with ease.  I wanted to learn more, do more, be more. Slowly I came to understand that I may never learn enough, do enough, be enough.

As a little girl, my mother truly believed I was limited. And as I grew, I believed that too. I hid behind good grades and a passion for learning, but I wasn’t able to absorb what was happening like other kids. I wasn’t articulate or good in math. I couldn’t remember the finer details of anything.  Over time, I learned to do the best I could do, but I wanted to do so much more. I wanted the capacity to synthesize all that I was learning into action and sharing for good.  I wanted to make a difference with my wisdom; I wanted to touch the world in huge ways.

Life took over. I learned to do what I could do. When something needed to be done, I did it. I always did what was asked of me. In my family, in my work, and in my community, I was the solid one. If you needed anything, I would show up and take care of things – and always with a smile.

Eventually, I started looking past the village that I was living. Ouch. Slowly, I dipped my toe into the larger world, the world outside myself. First, a homeless, pregnant woman with a toddler came to live with my family for nearly six months. That was the beginning of me realizing that there was so much to do. The more I learned, the more I realized that I just couldn’t do enough. EVERYTHING was calling to me – the environment, homelessness, the need to protect those that couldn’t protect themselves, and then the policies of Israel became more than I could bare to see/hear/read. Human rights, the environment, politics – everything mattered. Only I couldn’t do enough to make the world a better place. I still can’t. So I take one step and then another – knowing it is all a little too inadequate. But still, it is my job do what I can.

The last few years have been a time for learning and accepting the realities of not only my life, but the world I live. I’ve struggled to come to grips with how I walk in the world. I am blessed to be able to open my arms and do just a little for the family, community, and world that I love. I know that my smile and my warmth makes a difference – sometimes. But I also know that deep inside, I know that I am not done yet, I have more to do! I am not enough because I am not able to keep up with the world I live as I’d like. I am limited. With so much to absorb, I can’t make sense of it all.

  • How can we create a world with racial and economic equality?
  • How can the countries I love care so poorly for all of their inhabitants?
  • What can we learn from science to make our environment safer for all? Why does big business and the government continue to literally destroy the fabric or our world?
  • Guns – WTF should be done? AND what truths make sense? 17 people were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida; more are still struggling with their lives. People of color are at a disproportionately greater risk for violence – always.
  • How can our government have so many people that believe that hatred and white supremacy should be a guiding message?
  • Wasn’t our country made with immigrants? YET, all over the country, beautiful people are forced to rally and chant, “No Hate! No Fear! Immigrants are welcome here!”
  • We are so far away from taking care of the world we live in. Homelessness, veterans, domestic violence, animal cruelty, and ___________ – You fill in the blank. How can we do what we need to do in order to improve the world for our people?
  • . . . .and so much more.

With so much that needs to be done, I am not where I want to be, but the message I am hearing in my head is clear.  While I may not feel like I am enough, I am doing a little bit every day. AND on a good day, I do a lot more. Continuing the holy work of rolling up my sleeves is no option; there is still too much to do.  I may not feel like I am enough, but that doesn’t mean that I should stop doing what I am doing. And yes, I do realize that it is time for me to reframe my inner critic; I know I have some work to do.

MeFueling my spirit, I will continue on this journey. I will do what I can and eventually as I keep taking one step and then another, I will believe that I am enough.

My work, my writing, my beautiful nonprofit, and my warmth need to be my focus. So I will continue to do what I do best, wake up every morning with my arms and heart wide open. I show up. I am here. Hineini.

With love, light, hope, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: This rambling piece is following the amazing March For Our Lives which inspired me in every way, but also left me in a pool of tears. I wish their wasn’t still so much to do and yet, there are so many angels stepping up to do the work.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mendocino CA-Sandra G. Wortzel

Mendocino, California Photo Courtesy of Sandra G. Wortzel

something inside of me broke this past week. the details don’t really matter, but it happened. at first the darkness felt like it would devastate me. while I knew that I was surrounded by a loving village, I still struggled . . .

the tears rolled down my cheeks daily (sometimes hourly) and my soul broke open. breathing wasn’t optional; if I was going to push through, I had to take one breath and then another. there were moments when all I had was my breath to get me from moment to moment. and you know what? it worked.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

there was another gift or many gifts that helped me move forward. it was the realization that as alone as I felt that I was being held by so many people that simply showed up. most of them had no idea how broken I was feeling, but I kept hearing nearly the same message time and again.

whenever I found myself the most fragile, an angel whispered. “I see you.” or an old friend would call and say, “I just want you to know how much I love you.” another phenomena that kept coming up was that virtual strangers and close friends kept reaching out to me for advice, for insight, for help and sometimes for loving energy.

barely a couple of hours passed without me being reminded that I touch peoples lives. this helped me (mostly) navigate out of my cocoon of sadness. it’s hard to stay trapped in a cocoon when angels keep forcing sparks of light in.

by the time, I realized that I wasn’t as invisible as I felt, I received the following ending email from Sark, one of my favorite writers:

You are seen, You are known, You are loved.

I remember opening up her email and thinking ‘how did she know that I needed to see those words?’

even as I am in the midst of writing this, my brother reached out and asked if I was ok, my childhood big brother showed up even though I haven’t connected with him in months, and I received an email from another friend who I have not been in close contact with.

all week long, old friends, new friends, strangers, other activists, and members of my community kept reaching out. I’d say almost none of those people had any idea that inside I was crumbling and feeling strangely invisible.

so. . .while things within my heart and spirit feel overwhelming and conflicted. the universe is communicating. hiding isn’t an option during this bout of internal pain. the angels are letting me know that there is work to do.

how beautiful is it that I truly feel loved and held through all that I am navigating. wow. what a gift to know that I am not alone.

I just need to remember in the words of Jai-Jagdeesh’s:

Know you are loved
Rest in peace
Dream your sweet dreams
“Til your soul is released

Beloved Child
My heart is yours
Beloved Child
Go out and open doors
With your love
With your faith
With your compassion
With your grace
Oh, with your grace

Beloved Child
You are the light of the world
Beloved Child
Go out, spread light to the world
Be strong, be kind, be brave
Know your mind
know that you’re are divine
Know that it’s alright to be afraid

if you want a treat, take a few minutes to get lost in not only Jai-Jagdeesh’s word, but the actual song too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om3e4qOxdLs

may the lights that shines in every corner of my world reach me and may I always remember that regardless of where I am to share that light with others. feeling grateful to live in a village that never lets me hide for long.

i got this and so do you!

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Wherever I turn, I find angels, the people that show up with an open hand to help me navigate life’s journeys. Throughout my adult life, I have been blessed to have people enter my life just as I was facing a dark reality. The reason I emanate so much light is simply because I am surrounded by light. I find the light in life and my path always includes beautiful angels/helpers that emerge at the perfect moment.

Last night as I wrapped from writing my blog, I realized that I missed something vital when I shared that I am now beginning a new life journey. (I meant to type health journey, but somehow life journey feels a bit more on target.) I didn’t mention my gratitude for the angels that have showed up during this journey.

On October 1st, I was poisoned by gluten. After eating gluten that was served to me as a gluten-free panini, my health did a downward spiral which I am still recovering from to this day and probably through the coming weeks. The good news is that I have turned the corner, but I wouldn’t have moved forward if it wasn’t for the help of so many.

Over the next 124 days, I will be counting down to my birthday (see above blog link). Each and every day, I will do something to care for myself, probably a lot of somethings.  But before I delve into a series of blogs, I really wanted to note those people that have showed up over the past weeks/months.

Tzadi

Drawing courtesy of Jennifer Judelsohn from her book Songs of Creations

  1. The Healers
    • Sita Chopra, my Ayurvedic Practitioner, responded within minutes of receiving my note saying that I was contaminated with gluten. I believe that her quick advice and my ability to follow her directions made it so that my gut did not suffer as harshly and for the usual period of time from being poisoned. I am looking forward to experiencing better health as she utilizes her knowledge and wisdom to support better health.
    • Katrice Gullens of Fifth Element Acupuncture & Wellness for her lovely energy and for the beautiful ability she had and continues to have so that she can hear what is needed. Her acupuncture treatment enhanced my ability to function and lifted my spirit. I felt like her needles opened my soul up from some of the armor that once needed to protect me.
    • Tom Pierson of Tranquil Heart Yoga, a massage therapist extraordinaire, who was able to listen to what my body was saying and nurture it towards a healthier place.
  2. My Friends
    • Out of state friends – Many people showed up to support me with love and prayers when I shared what was happening on Facebook, but my friends Jennifer, Cheryl, Idie, Ilan, and Karen reached out via telephone and reminded me that I was loved. BTW, what they may not of known was that I was literally despondent from two days of unrelenting pain. And my friend Dr. Scott, an ER doc, who opened his door to help me decide what the best protocol would be at 12:30 at night.

      Each and every love note and call made a difference. While the pain was pretty horrible, I knew I was being held by so many.

    • Local friends – Reminded me that I could of and should have called instead of driving myself to the hospital. To be honest, I felt painfully alone and like no one cared. Chalk it up to drama. . . not reality, I forgot that I am surrounded by a community and friends that would not have wanted me to feel so alone and would have taken me to the hospital if I had only asked.

      I loved that people care and knowing that I am not alone. Although I do need to remember that my friends aren’t mind-readers; sometimes I have to ask for what I need.

  3. My Sons
    • Aryeh and Dovi took care of me. Aryeh wouldn’t let me go to the hospital by myself. And he confirmed that ER doc wasn’t listening to me or understanding how much pain I was in. While it didn’t really help to have him advocate for me at the hospital, he was so loving and tried to comfort me. Only after taking care of my parents and my sons in hospital settings did I learn what it means to advocate with medical professionals. . .it isn’t easy.

I would not made it if so many people to give their love and warmth so freely. I received that love with open heart that is still overflowing in this moment. I am especially grateful those friends who are rabbis and Jewish professionals who were able to take the time to reach out as they were preparing for one of the most demanding and holy days of the Jewish calendar.

The timing of ‘this episode’ was perfect. I had just scheduled/started my work with the above healers and I was in a good spiritual space for the first time in years. So with all this in mind, I am ready to move forward and strive for better health.

Grateful for each and every person that has offered and continues to offer their wisdom, kindness, love, and light.

Onward – now & always,
Chava

 

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Recognizing the Angels

Kosi R'vayah-My Cup Runs Over (Psalm 23:5)

Kosi R’vayah-My Cup Overflows (Psalm 23:5)

My world is full of angels that keep supporting my spirit and lending a wing (or a hand) at every flight.

Over the last six months, I have been awed by the many gifts bestowed on me and my sons. We have been and continue to be held with love, warmth, caring as well as tangible gifts of food, money, home and jobs.

While there have been some very challenging chapters of my personal and professional life, I am amazed that the support literally overflows at every moment.

As I type, I am struggling to find a home in Houston, where I will be moving within the month. For some reason, the planets have not aligned just yet – but I know they will. And it is without question that I feel it deeply that I am going home (and I hope my sons will one day feel the same). The warmth of the new community and the kindness of strangers makes me feel like I belong.

Even today, as I turned to my amazing realtor and asked her if she wanted to continue working with me. . .she was beautiful. She said, “of course.” And she seemed befuddled that I would ask such a question. Yet, I am sure I am taking more time than anyone wants. While I am blessed with a great job, the struggle is that years ago I made a very conscious decision to stop using any credit; even with the challenges, I believe that I made a great choice at that time.  Still, that decision has come to create a challenge. So paying my bills may not be enough. Sigh. (But I am feeling grateful for my time in Tucson which showed me that I could take care of my children, sustain my family, and have no trouble finding a fantastic house.)

And then there is the leadership in my new community. . .one person has spend hours looking for a home for me. I am not sure how I became so fortunate, but I am.  In the meantime, the spiritual leader of the community has already begun to inspire my work and I haven’t even “officially” started.  I really do feel like the luckiest Jewish Educator in the universe. My Cup Overflows.

So while, I may feel concerned that I won’t find a home. I know that that is silly.

I feel the angels surrounding me, keeping me grounded even as I am ready to take flight.

May we all take the time to see the angels in our midst and thank them for all they give and will give.

Feeling loved!

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Sometimes life can feel brutal with all the relentless curve balls.

My life has been a little too full of darkness; it is a reality.  Yet, I have always chosen to find a way to find sparks of light as I have dealt with the trials and tribulations (even the earth-shattering ones).  The bottom-line is that I have never let the darkness or hard times shut me down for long, instead I use many different tools that have helped me to navigate since childhood – here are a few:

  1. Smile – Smiling helps me feel more centered and it calms my spirit too.  Smiles also make those around you feel more at ease which ultimately helps you.  While a smile can’t erase the challenges/pain you may be feeling, it can ease some of the sting.
  2. Notice the angels that come your way – When you least expect it people show up in your lives to offer a moment of comfort.  Sitting in ICU is always rough; losing relationships makes us sad; and moving cross country only to become unemployed isn’t ok.  Find the sparks of light in each painful moment.  I will never forget the friends that made sure we had food even though one of Aryeh’s hospitals was over 1.5 or more hours from where our friends lived.  Or the friend that shared with me a song he wrote to help heal my breaking heart.  And of course, as I am facing unemployment now, my friends are rallying to help me land on my feet.  There are always angels that show up to help you navigate even if they are only there for a moment in time.
  3. Inch by inch – When the to do list overwhelms you, just do one little thing at a time. Try not to get lost in looking at the big picture and all that you have to do to move forward.  Always remember to keep moving forward.
  4. Allow yourself the space to mourn or to feel sadness – Just because I move through life with a smile on my face, doesn’t mean I don’t take time to cry or to scream. . . I just try to give myself the space to do what I need to do.  And then as much as possible, I allow myself to find small sparks of light that will ultimately help me through the darkness.
  5. Quiet time is a good thing, but don’t shut the world out for too long – Most of us need to be surrounded by silence at some point in time, but remember that ‘it really does take a village’ to navigate life.   Let the right people impact your world for good when you are ready to come out of your cave.
  6. Don’t allow those around you to bring you down unintentionally – When Aryeh, my son, was critically ill for a few years, I had two amazing friends that tried to connect with me every day, the only problem was that the connection was not always good for me.  They wanted to know the play by play happenings, but they didn’t come to see us; they supported us with their love and even financial support, but it didn’t help me to share what was going on each and every day.  I also grew weary of hearing about life outside our world.  I just didn’t know if our lives would ever be happy and healthy again.  So at some point, I let go of the daily connections again until they worked for me.  And the good news is that not only did Aryeh heal, but our friendships survived too.
  7. Say what you need to say – Ask for what you need and set the parameters of how human interactions work.  When we are in crisis, we have the fundamental right to set the environment that works for us.  Hopefully our loved ones can honor that.
  8. Take time to write/journal – Writing is the way I come to understand what is truly on my mind and in my heart; writing helps me process the world around me.
  9. Sleep – You can’t take care of yourself if you don’t find the time to sleep.  If you need help, ask; there are medical and natural remedies that can make a difference.
  10. Believe that all will work out in some way – In the midst of a crisis, we don’t always think that things will get easier or work out.  And sometimes they don’t work out as we want them too, but in time new norms evolve and healing begins.  While we don’t always heal from the pain, we do often find new ways to thrive.

These tools allow me to walk through the world as I do, my hope is that one of these ideas impacts your life for good.  Let me know what helps you maneuver life’s challenges?

Remember, if you look real hard, you might be able to find the light in nearly every dark moment.

December 24

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Messages come regardless of whether or not you are ready to receive them.

Doing the dance of life means that my entire being is in a state of aliveness.  Stopping has not been part of my rhythm, but that has to change.  I just can’t keep moving as I have been doing.  I am thinking too much, dreaming too much, doing too much, and generally not being as present enough in each moment.  While I am driven, I also need the rest that comes between the beats.

Those that know me are probably asking me why am I noting these above realities today of all days.  Well the reason is simple.  Today I met an angel; today I met someone who must be a healing force in this world.

While I was driving, I was in my own world.  Dangerous. Yes it was.  I wasn’t texting; I wasn’t talking on the phone; I didn’t even think I was lost in thought, but I must have been.  I am always lost in thought. And then came the moment, the moment when I didn’t note what was going on around me.  In that moment, I ran a stop sign and I hit another car.

Stay Alert

 

I should have been more alert; I wasn’t.

The car I hit went flying flying across the road like a pinball in the games of my childhood; only this was no game.  In the other car was a woman, a kind, gentle woman.  We both rushed out our cars to check on the other driver.  As I had my hand on my phone ready to call 911, she stopped me.  We looked at her car; we looked at my car.  Almost no damage.  My bumper will need some work, her car was well loved and aging.  She looked me in the eyes with a deep kindness and asked if I was OK.  She asked me if I was OK. I looked at her and I wanted to know how she was.  Her well-being was really all I could think about.  I had just caused what could have been an accident with grave consequences.   And she wanted to know if I was OK.  I was and so was she. Miraculous, truly miraculous.

With that, she said, no worries and got in her car and drove away.  As she drove away, I pondered what had just happened and I thanked God and the angels that must have been surrounding me.  It was in this moment, that I realized that I had just met a beautiful angel.

The message was loud and clear; it is time for me to slow down, to stay alert, and to be more present in each and every moment.

Thank you universe for waking me up;  I am alive.

 

 

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Artwork courtesy of the Museum of Psalms

Artwork courtesy of the Museum of Psalms

My father loved music; his entire world was influenced by the music or our times.  For part of  his life, he was a music promoter;  he also owned the only wholesale record store in the Baltimore-Washington corridor as well as a few small record stores too.  But beyond that, he loved listening to music and sharing all he knew about the artists and performers who wrote and sang each piece.

My father also hated the sound of my voice; he used to tell me to sing softly.  The good news is that he never told me to stop singing, so I didn’t.

In July 2001, my father was barely hanging onto life as he lived out  his last days in hospice.  For a couple of nights prior to his death, the hospice nurses suggested that ‘tonight might be his last’.  So on one of his last nights, I sat with him all night.  Throughout the night, I sang his favorite show tunes as well as many other songs that he had always loved so dearly.  As the night wore on, I felt his life ebbing away as I watched his body seemingly become a skeleton without his soul.

So, I took out my very worn Book of Psalms and chanted/sung it for hours.*   As the morning sun started to rise, my father sat up for his last time; I was never sure how he had the strength.  In fact, even though it was his body sitting up, it felt like the most surreal moment of my life – it felt like he was being lifted up by angels.

The last words, I ever heard my father speak were perhaps the most beautiful too.  My father sat up in his bed and asked if I had heard the beautiful music.  With tears streaming down my face I told my father that perhaps it was the malachim (the angels) calling him home.  With that, my father gently laid back down and closed his eyes for the very last time.

*In Jewish tradition, people often chant from the Book of Psalms when people are either seriously ill or dying.

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