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Posts Tagged ‘Anne Lamott’

Life is really messy.

Around every corner there are ups and downs. Moments when you are soaring and moments when you are flopping around like a fish out of water. And if you are intense like me, it may feel like your life is bouncing around as quickly as some people can flip a coin.

Sometimes I wonder if I walk the world this way because my childhood didn’t teach me many tools for coping with life’s grit. And as a young adult and later a young mother, I learned to live as a chameleon. I buried many of my emotions and did what was expected of me. And for the most part I pulled it off fairly well. Or at least I think I did. Of course, what do I really know about how I was received by others.

To be transparent, my life has probably always been far from normal. As a young newly married woman, I faced nine miscarriages, several failed adoption attempts, an adoption, buried my parents, navigated serious illnesses for my children, employment struggles for the family breadwinner, and so much more.

Nonetheless, I engaged in living and doing whatever needed to be done to propel my family forward, support my community, and keep a smile on my face. I simply plugged away at living. I am not sure that I found it easy because interspersed with some really tough moments, but I had dinner on the table every night. We welcomed people into our home nearly every Shabbat. I cooked meals for those who were ill and organized our community to help families in the midst of health crisises. I even kept my home  clean, laundry done, and always held down a part time job.

I had an I can do ANYTHING spirit, only inside that is not how I felt. I used to wonder why everyone in the world could keep their houses clean, nurture their children, and have a full life.  Everyone seemed to do it with an ease that ALWAYS escaped me. It is only since I started following social media closely that I realized that I was never alone. All of us have our own personal struggles.

Fortunately social media, Oprah, and podcasts have helped me realize that I am so not alone in this very real struggle. Only over the last five or so years have I  been introduced to the wisdom of three people that rock my world as creatives because of how honestly they shared their struggles of living in the messy middle. They inspire people to:

  • Live in the “marvelous messy middle”. ~ SARK
  • “Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

And to understand:

  • “Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real.” ~Glennon Doyle

Each of these amazing women choose to share their personal journeys of living in the midst of life’s sometimes very challenging realities while being aware that moving forward doesn’t always present us with easy solutions for living according to what society deems “normal”. They continually inspired me (and still do) to show up in my world as authentically as possible.

Hiking BootsI feel blessed to now walk with ease in my own messy middle and the outer banks too. While it took me over fifty years to emerge fully as myself. I ultimately found my voice through writing, chanting, drumming, and only in the last year through painting little cards.  I am the woman I am because how I have chosen to navigate my own rocky paths.  I am so grateful that I learned to live out loud by sharing my life experiences without apology, accepting that I don’t fit into any box, and loving myself for who I am.

I have also done some really hard stuff including leaving the traditional Jewish community, moving cross country with my sons, divorcing my husband, and publicly changing my name when I realized my parents lost their right to name me.  I wanted a name that honored who I am today, so I gave myself one.  I am Chava Gal-Or. Chava means life because I am a woman who thrives regardless of what sh*t crosses her path and I become empowered by whatever life tosses in my direction. Gal-Or means wave of light; this is my reminder not only to be light, but to find the light in whoever and whatever crosses my path. Perhaps the hardest thing I am doing right now is sharing my life stories via my writing; I am not holding back, I am diving deep and navigating some really harsh realities that have lead me to rise as the woman I am.

Yes, I live in the messy middle. I feel deeply. I struggle to breathe when life overwhelms me. I often believe I don’t do enough to make our world a better place. I wonder if I love enough and do enough for my family, my work, my beloved friends, etc. I struggle with believing that I am worthy and yet I understand that the Inner Demon speaks loudly to me and it is my job to show up and keep showing up. On a good day, I quiet that voice and stretch my arms wide open to life. On a bad day, the demon wins, but I push forward anyway. I am learning.

Living in the messy middle has become a norm for me and I am OK with that. I am “perfectly imperfect” as Anne Lamott would say.  Hineini, Here I am!

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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57 CollectionLast night, I finished Day 57 of #The100DayProject / #ActivistCardsByChava. Ironically, the card I created was HOPE. From the beginning, this project was supposed to be my journey towards sharing my light, my optimism, and my belief that our world would be good during this time of political divide. I wanted to use these cards as a tool to help us heal from the travesties of our  disastrous political climate. The only problem is that somewhere along the way I slipped into complete darkness around our country’s politics and became despondent for our future. And so, #ActivistCardsByChava became my personal journey towards healing my spirit so that I could keep doing whatever I could to repair the world.

Each of the 3 x 4 inch cards that I have painted using watercolor and markers holds an idea of what activists can do to improve our world. Not only broad actions are included, but self-care ideas too. Activists will burn out quickly if they don’t take care of themselves while also doing the holy work of caring for the larger world. Each and every card was inspired by an article, a picture, a poem, a Facebook post, a song, etc. Ironically on a day when I was really lacking hope, I tripped over ‘Show Up With Hope’: Anne Lamott’s Plan for Facing Adversity.  https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/10/embark-essay-anne-lamott-hope- Day 57’s card, HOPE, was inspired by this reading. In fact, nearly ever one of my Activist Cards was inspired by the wisdom of others.

Another gift came yesterday when I remembered the most inspirational line from Flashdance, my favorite movie of the 1980s, “If you give up your dream, you die.”* So while my spirit may have officially broken this past week it also did some healing too. We all have dreams to birth and work to do.

img_2296While I love each and every one of these cards, my favorite is Choose To Thrive. Maybe that is because regardless of whether:

  1. Trump is POTUS.
  2. Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court.
  3. I am navigating the loss of a dear friend.
  4. Climate change is destroying our environment.
  5. Antisemitism is out of control.
  6. A loved one is healing from sexual violence.
  7. My voice is feeling silenced in so many ways.
  8. Ted Cruz is currently my senator.
  9. I am feeling abandoned by a beloved friend.
  10. I am losing faith.

My job is to show up and embrace the world and to ‘Keep On Movin’ On’.  Personally, I hope you know it’s your job too!  Have you seen the angels? Angels who are organizing the activists to canvas for amazing people in the political arena, to register citizens to vote, to drive voters to the polls, and so much more. And let’s not forget the creatives who are inspiring us all through their art, writing, and music.

Even an optimist like myself has bad weeks of wrestling with darkness around what is happening in the world. The good news is that ‘the sun will come out tomorrow’ and if you are keeping your eyes open, you will find messages everywhere to counteract despair.

Onward with love, light, and hope!

(Note: for fun here is a link to Flashdance, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH4tNhN5gQc}

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years ago I was afforded the opportunity to remain silent for nearly 8 days. a dear friend of mine gave me the keys to his log cabin in the Berkshires which was located in rural western Massachusetts. the time was magical, challenging, beautiful, and wildly needed.

being alone in that silence was a powerful time for me and it became the most transformative time in my life. it was there I cried out the atrocities that I faced in my childhood and began to release the pain. it was there that I found the courage to change my name and allow for further transformation. it was there that I found the inner strength to ask Michael for a divorce (the first time). it was there that I realized that I had the spirit to accomplish what I wanted to in life.

with each step and with each passing day I became profoundly  aware that I am and always will be a work in progress.  each step allowed for stretching, growing, and becoming more grounded in the person I am. the 8 days lead me to new heights and allowed me to face some very real realities too.

Mendocino CA-Sandra G. Wortzel

Mendocino, California Photo Courtesy of Sandra G. Wortzel

moving forward. . .
until this afternoon, I hadn’t realized that I haven’t had real time alone in so very long, perhaps even years. I guess I now understand why I have been feeling like I am on overload; I need to allow for more quiet in my life. while I don’t currently have 8 full days, I will take as much time as I can over the next 11 days when my sons are visiting their dad and grandmother. with work and previously scheduled plans, I have decided to treasure the quiet hours I do have.

I started by canceling three sets of plans for today and tomorrow. 🙂 I bet you are wondering what I will do with the time. this is easy to answer. I will take time just to sit in the quiet, write without distraction, and breathe a little more deeply. I will also take naps, work on some of my art, and chant. and finally, the dogs, Maddie and Magic will get some undivided attention.

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up
and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
~Anne Lamott

allowing for the sadness
the world has been dragging my spirit down a little bit of lately. how can it not?

once I realized that I haven’t had or taken the time I needed to center myself, I understood why I was taking the harshness as hard as I have. yes, life is not easy for someone who walks in the world as I do, but I do have the responsibility to find the light and the angels in this world. I can’t move forward in any are if I don’t take that time to nurture my own spirit.

I do have some reasons both personally and within the many worlds I exist to feel sadness. so with that in mind, I am allowing for the tears to fall. in truth, there is no container that can gather the tears, but that’s ok. I believe that tears plant seeds towards new growth. you can’t move forward without navigating the darkness. once through the darkness, all of us can slowly catch the sparks that will create more light in our worlds.

and in truth, my life has so much light too. I live in a world of angels that are doing all they can to make the world a better place. in fact, I am showing up to make our world a better place too. I, sincerely, feel blessed in the world I have and continue to create for myself.

as my teacher SARK might say, it is my job to embrace “the messy middle”; I am perfectly imperfect. so I am doing just that as I take time to listen to the quiet.

may we all move towards the light and do whatever we can to create more sparks.

with love, light, and blessings,
chava

 

 

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Elul Reflections: Coming soon

December 2016 - looking out into water

I BELIEVE IN LIVING CONSCIOUSLY AND ALWAYS BEING REAL. This isn’t easy. You see, like all of us, I have many roles in my life. I am a mother, a sister, a friend; I am an educator, a community leader, and an activist; I am a woman, a thriver, and an intuitive. AND I am also a writer, a chanter, and a drummer; I embrace life with open arms and a passionate neshama, soul.  My creative and spiritual essence craves the freedom to share the fullness of who I am in all that I do.

According to Glennon Doyle, being real means getting ‘naked and unashamed’. While this leaves me vulnerable, it also gives me the wings I need to fly higher than I have ever flown before. Am I scared to unveil my core as a way to touch those that trip over my writings? ABSOLUTELY! My friend Diane Foushée (z’l) inspired me to reach deeply into my soul and share the fullness of my thoughts with my friends and readers. Until a couple months before her sudden death, I had no idea that she looked forward to the two times a year that I shared my journey as a seeker. During those times, I write a daily blog as I take the time to actively self-reflect and unveil my deepest thoughts.

Last year, I was too sad to write my daily Elul Reflections; although I did write a couple. Without Diane, I didn’t want to write.  I also didn’t know if my writing impacted anyone.  This feeling has changed. Over the last month, I have been blessed to have friends tell me how I have impacted their lives in a positive way.  Those friends have given me the courage to dive into sharing from my heart. As we move into Elul, the time of reflection just before the Jewish New Year, I will return to my writing practice that provided the sacred space to become more aligned as the woman I am. I will embrace the world with an open heart and a willingness to reach to a healthier and more balanced place in all that I navigate. I will share the rawness of my spirit with the gifts and challenges that are part of my reality.

As a ‘TRUTH TELLER’ and a writer, I want to weave my words and share my soul.  Join me.

Elul Reflections: Sharing My Inner Soul – Will begin Tuesday evening, August 22nd.

(Note: I have been impacted by some amazing writers and thinkers over the past couple of years. Glennon Doyle coined ‘truth teller’ and helped me through her podcasts to better understand what it means to be ‘naked and unashamed’. I am here!!! Hineini!

Other writers include Anne Lamott, Rebecca Solnit, SARK, Sheryl Sandberg (all from the Bay area – WOW!) and Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Martha Beck, among so many more. I read their books, listen to their podcasts and strive to embody their wisdom. If I ever say something and do not honor them by annotating their work, please forgive me. Over time I have realized that so much of how they think has entered into my subconscious.)

 

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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 . . . .]

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller: Western Minnesota

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller:
Western Minnesota

So much has happened to me in my life. On a good day, I always push through without thinking about those who may have hurt me or those I may have hurt. And I remember what Anne Lamott says, “Sometimes this human stuff is slimy and pathetic…but better to feel it and talk about it and walk through it than to spend a lifetime being silently poisoned.”

Healing from the tough life experiences happens only by giving myself the time to feel the pain, to write about my experiences, and to sometimes share what has happened with those that are willing to listen. Since I am a work in progress, that means that I have to allow myself the time to heal. And I have to allow myself the space to let go.  While, pain may return for moments, I don’t have to let in own me.

Beauty happens when you realize how grateful you are to having had experiences that may have broken your heart, but also gave you wings to fly.  Not all the challenging things that have happened in your life have to leave you broken.  It fact, learning from life’s hard moments is a good way to grow.  For me, that is a non-negotiable.

So I have been hurt; sometimes by others and sometimes by my own actions.  I get to choose how I move forward.  With that in mind, my goal is to ALWAYS allow for healing.  Life is too precious to do otherwise.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Always Healing

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If you do not breathe through writing,
if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing,
then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.
~A
nais Nin

I am a writer. In the core of my being, I am most comfortable expressing myself through the written word.

Recently, I have been astounded by people questioning the transparency of my writing.  Is there any other way? I think not.

My teacher (who has no idea who I am) is Anne Lamott; she has taught me to write with complete integrity, to share fully, and to not be ashamed of my thoughts and feelings.  One of my favorite teachings that can be found in her book, Bird by Bird, and also in her CD titled, Word by Word, is that I have a right to share my story.  If people didn’t want me to talk bad about them, they should have never done the things they did.  So while, I generally refrain from giving a ton of the darker details of my life, I do have Anne’s voice as my guide.  And her voice resonates-always. Each of her books (and now Facebook status lines) is an example of someone who speaks what she feels from her kishkes (guts). Lamott shares the good, the challenging, the ugly; Anne is a beautiful work in progress. I aspire to have her voice as my guide whenever I am sharing my voice, my thoughts, my writing.

Each and every one of my  written (and spoken) words come from my heart and are part of my essence.  If I write them to you personally, imagine that I am giving you the gift of my heart and soul. Imagine that you are worthy of my truest love.

And for the reader that reads my blog. . . I am sharing with you my purest being. In the moment that I am sharing my thoughts, know that they are coming from the deepest part of me.

Writing,
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul;
Is what makes me One

I am a writer. My words matter and have the power to impact.  My hope is to touch people in ways that make a difference in their lives; simultaneously I feel a positive energy with each and every letter and space that is part of my writing.  The rhythm of my soul is out there for anyone to treasure or to toss out.  Why would I want it any other way?

When I write, I am giving you, the reader, a part of my me.  With each word, I am weaving a personal idea, a thought, a dream; I am sharing the deepest part of the person that I have become.  And yet, what I write one moment, may evolve in another moment; I never stop thinking or growing.

With each breath, I have experienced the fullness that life has had to offer – sometimes with beauty, sometimes with pain, always finding sparks of light.  I am the person I am because of the life I have lived.  Life has blessed me with the ability to look inwards and to evolve as the trek emerges.  With each step, I write as a way to process all that was, is and will be. Capturing the many moving parts of my heart, my soul, and my mind is what I do.  Through writing, I allow the words to flow onto the page and to cleanse my being.  And sometimes, if luck will have it, my words can do something magical for someone else too.

My transparency is a gift.  I welcome you to experience a world that is mine.  Is it rational? Not always.  Is it precious? To me.  Are the moments when my emotions are intense? Of course.

May my words continue to be real –  now and always.
May my words help me stay balanced in a world that often feels off balance.
May my words inspire people in small and large ways.

May I always have the character to ‘say what I need to say’.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Morning Pages Binder

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“. . . do small things with great love.”
Quote by Mother Teresa

As I approach some profound changes in my life, I am navigating the most intense vulnerability that I have ever experienced.  If left to my own devices, I would be crying non-stop with each bridge that I am crossing.  The tears wouldn’t all be sad nor would they all be happy; they would fluctuate from moment to moment.  Transparent transition is the gift I am choosing to live by. (Note: I almost feel like I am embodying Anne Lamott’s spirit with each and every blog entry. :))

Over the last year, I have felt sucker-punched and loved at nearly equal proportions.  The good news is that today I am feeling more love and support than I am feeling the harshness of being sucker-punched.  The journey that I am taking has been both challenging and intense.  I have had to face what it means to lose a job and left without the financial ability to take care of my sons; I have also experienced the gifts of having friends and acquaintances help me to secure positions that mostly allow me meet my family’s most basic needs.

As the Gal-Or/Grossman Family prepares to move to the East Coast, I know that it would not have been possible if it weren’t for the support of so many people.  We have been touched by people helping us in a myriad of ways, too many ways to list.  Ironically, I believe that I have personally felt equally impacted by each and every person that has given in whatever way they deemed appropriate.  There have been absolutely no small offerings.

With each step, I have had no expectation that anyone would reach out and help.  For some silly reason, I initially felt alone and very scared.  It is quite daunting to go through dark experiences and believe you will land on your feet.  But truthfully, while life has tossed me some vicious punches; I have been enveloped by love and support for entire second half or more of my life.  I am surrounded by people that have held on to our family while we walked through fire.  Over the years, I have truthfully been far from alone.

Monday night was another example of how one friend brought happy tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.  I am blessed, so very blessed.

Before I share about the amazing treasure I received from Indianapolis, I have to tell a story.

A few weeks ago, I was kvetching on Facebook about how much I am missing the changing of seasons.  I love seeing the leaves change; it rocks my world.  At the time, I was just whining, I had no expectation that I would see autumn leaves this year.  Why would I? I am in the middle of the desert.  🙂  (To be honest, there are changing leaves on Mount Lemmon; that’s not so far.  I just couldn’t get there because of my work and packing schedule.)

Well. . .all my kvetching got the attention of my beloved weird sistah, Ren Fortang, in Indianapolis.  During our exchanged she promised to send me some leaves from her yard.  AND SHE DID!!! Her little package was full of happiness for me. I couldn’t have been happier if I tried.

Leaves from Ren

 

To be honest, the leaves made me the happiest; I couldn’t believe Ren pulled off such an amazing gift.  AND I loved every square inch of the gift from the envelope it came in, to the pin which quoted Mother Teresa, “. . .do small things with great love.”  Ren even included the new CD from Bruce Springsteen, one of my favorite singer/songwriters.  Every square inch of this little gift package nurtured my soul.  (Do you think this blog can replace a thank you note?)

Now just because I love the term basheret, it was meant to be, I want to share that after opening Ren’s gift I was reading Stitches: A Handbook On Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott and on page 14, I found Mother Teresa’s quote, the same quote that was on the pin.  My guess is that there is a huge lesson there, so I better listen up!

Ren’s gift is symbolic of the beauty that continues to flow as I emerge from some challenging times and take on my next adventure.  I couldn’t have made it this far without the enormous support that has surrounded me; I have received so many treasures over the past year and years before that too.  I truly believe that when we consciously walk in the world with an open heart and love to share, the world will ultimately grow into a healthier place.   My friends have shown me this and I hope to continue paying it forward with each and every step of my life.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – We have been blessed with nearly 70 people giving to our Go Fund Me Drive – http://www.gofundme.com/g8o220

 

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