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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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(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

Those that know me, know that I have often struggled to quiet my mind and I still rarely sleep enough hours during the night. Over the years, I have begun to realize that quieting my mind and sleeping are a necessity if I am going to thrive and actively engage in making our world a better place (or be personally healthy at all).

With that in mind, I am learning to savor the solitude so that I can better nourish myself through doing what I love – writing, drumming, chanting, meditation, and now even art. Creating this quiet space has contributed to be feeling more grounded and ready to live out loud and touch people’s lives more consciously.

Ironically, the quiet also seems to be helping me make the space for more sleep in my life; this isn’t happening with ease, but the more quiet I allow for, the more I seem to be able to rest and sleep – so much more than I can ever move.

Day 7 - Homer and sleep

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” ― Homer, The Odyssey

Thanks to an awesome friend, I decided to dedicate Day 7 of #The100DayProject, also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, to the what those of us within the Judeo-Christian tradition think of as Shabbat/Sabbath, a time to simply pause.

May we all take the time to go inward and honor the silence within ourselves so that when we speak our voices will make sense and be heard.

Onward with love, light, and creativity,
Chava

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Many of my friends know I really do love tie-dye!!! In fact my entire family loves tie-dye!

What I have grown to appreciate is that our friends actually acknowledge our love of tie-dye in a variety of ways.  Over the years, we have received a few special presents that included tie-dyes of varying types.  When my son Aryeh was sick, his friends made him tie-dye sheets that actually covered him and surrounded him when he was recovering from brain surgery.  On other occasions, friends have found great tie-dye shirts and even a scarf at a thrift shop.  And then last week a good friend found an amazing t-shirt at a Grateful Dead Weekend.  And guess what, he mailed me the shirt this week! Why do you think he did this? Just because. . . . .

TyeDye6

Over the last few years, I have thought a lot about how I can connect with people.  I am not the best in staying in touch, but I have been  intentionally trying to change my ways.  Still I know that when I am not staying in contact, it does not mean that I don’t love someone; it is because I have been honoring my need for quiet time in a world that is often too kinetic.  There is always something to do.

Yet, I have to say that I am profoundly touched  by those that somehow find the time to give in any way.  I love when friends and loved ones drop me a card, send me a small treasure, or give me a new rock/stone for my collection.  I never take the small and large acts of kindness for granted; I am in awe of each and every person that reaches out.

When my older son Aryeh was critically ill, people went out of their way to send cards, make us meals, or visit for just a few minutes.  People cared.  Once when Dovi, my younger son, was really sick, an acquaintance came over to give me a new Book of Psalms because she knew that I like to say/chant psalms as part of our healing journey.  To this day, tears come to my eyes nearly each and every time I use my book of Tehillim (Psalms); since I use it nearly every day, I am wondering if I should have saved those tears in a bucket. 🙂

Recently, a new friend took time to find chants that she thought would touch me and then she took time to create a few CDs for me to cherish.  Another new friend has been sharing some amazing musical compositions that he wrote, nearly every one of them takes my breath away.  They are beautiful!  People keep sharing, their music, their art/photographs, their words – Just because. . .

How awesome is that?!?!?!!!!!

With all this in mind, I have been sending ‘thinking of you’ cards to people for every occasion.  The funny thing is that I sent out a ton of cards over the last few months and I am not sure that all of them reached their destination.  Unless people acknowledge them, there is no way to know.  (BTW, I believe a large stack was lost by the mail service; but I can’t know for sure. LOL!) And you know what? I love that I am learning to give just because. . . 

Through watching the many people that have touched my life through giving in large and small ways, I am learning to be a little more thoughtful.  Sometimes I pick up the phone and call an old friend, just because it feels like it is time to do it.  I really do love forever; I care in profound ways.  Today I am trying to show those I love  and/or those that I care for how much I do by taking a moment to reach out.

To give and to receive is such a gift (physical and/or emotional). I love when people do something just because they can, just because they care, just because. . . .

One thing I don’t want to leave unsaid is the power of giving to a stranger.  When Aryeh was really sick, I was blown away by the strangers that reached out to help us over the years.  Why did they do this? Just because. . . . And now as I am in the midst of reaching out and asking for people to help us in our journey to move east by giving to our Go Fund Me account http://www.gofundme.com/g8o220, I have been completely humbled by the lovely souls that have given to the fund without having met me.  I have also been brought to ‘happy’ tears by those that know me. I really never expected that people were give.  I was praying and hoping they would, but not expecting. Wow.

Whether we send cards, give tie-dyes, make meals, or ________ (you fill in the blank), know that giving always makes a difference in the lives of those we touch.

May I remember to always give in a loving way,  just because. . . . .

With blessings & light,

Chava

PS – When I buy Tie Dye for my family, I only buy from Milky Wave Tie Dye in Opal, Virginia; it’s our family tradition.  We found this Tie Dye shack years ago; it was a gift in every way.  The moment my family walked into the store, we became a tie dye family and the family that owned Milky Wave Tie Dye became our family too.

PPS – Take a moment to like Milky Wave Tie Dye on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/milkywavetiedye?fref=ts

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Middah (character trait) focus: Imperfection is reality

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 me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” –  Salvador Dalí 

I have a challenge; I am hard on myself when I don’t complete tasks that I wish to in a way that I believe they should be done.  And yet, sometimes it has to be reality.

Finding the saying of Salvador Dali is a gift because it absolutely helps me keep perspective and reminds me that I will always keep growing.  Striving for improvement makes so much more sense than striving for perfection.

When I was a teenager, I used to paint as much as I could; I loved art, all art.  And  often I would find my self reflecting about Salvador Dali with each stroke of the paintbrush; he was my hero.  So many of the pieces of my younger years were inspired by him.  Years later when I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a good friend, I was again  reminded of the power of Dali’s work.  He touched me like no other artist has ever touched me before or since.  Again after seeing his exhibit, I tried to find my artistic place although that time it was and still is with writing.  Although, after meeting my hero’s work again, I did start to pick up markers and colored pencils so that I could try to doodle on my journal books.

While I was at Philadelphia Museum of Art, I purchased the a mounted poster of the below painting; it reminds me that I can navigate through time, I just have to keep pushing through, doing what I dream of, and believing that I will succeed.  Not everything happens when I want it to, as I hope it will, or even at all.  Sometimes I fail and sometimes I don’t.  I just need to remember to keep on moving forward and doing the best that i can do.

Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory  Courtesy of http://www.themost10.com/famous-salvador-dali-artworks/

Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory
Courtesy of http://www.themost10.com/famous-salvador-dali-artworks/

Imperfection will always be a reality, the question is will I find the gifts that are part of the journey?

 

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Note: I am not a yogi, not really; still I have learned from the wisdom of my many yoga classes.  With each breath, I should breathe deeply as I reach towards the heavens and the earth. This allows my blood to flow as the energy moves to where it needs to move.

With the concept of reaching in mind, I want to share one of the strongest metaphors of my life.

TreesFromAbove

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Libowitz

Looking at the nakedness of a tree in winter, I wanted to share some stream of consciousness that is deep inside of me.  It all started with a song.

My Roots Go Downwords and music by Sarah Pirtle, © 1979 and 1989 Discovery Center Music BMI

Chorus:
My roots go down, down to the earth.
My roots go down, down to the earth.
My roots go down, down to the earth.
My roots go down.

Love the chorus to the song My Roots Go Down – I once did a workshop where we all wrote our own verses. The metaphors that were created by the different groups were both meaningful and deep.  With that in mind, I wanted to make myself naked like the trees for a moment.  I want you to know where my heart and head are in this moment.

My version #1:
I am a woman, intense as can be.
I am a woman seeking to be me.
I am a woman creative in my soul.
 I am a woman.

My version #2:
I am a writer sharing from my heart.
I am a writer creating my own art.
I am a writer striving to be clear
 I am a writer.

With each word, I am stretching myself and hoping that my roots go down and become rooted to the earth as they reach out to the heavens.  I want my words to matter.

Today, I touch those I meet with my soulful energy.  I have so much to give and many receive it and crave it.  That hasn’t always been the case; during much my life, I was a chameleon.  I would blend into world around me.  What I thought didn’t matter-it didn’t.  The good news is that I didn’t always realize it until later when I looked back.  Learning from my past experiences only strengthen my roots today.

So, I stand tall and proud, I now know that my energy reaches out into the world.  When I walk into the room, people often smile.  When I post a blog or a positive status line on Facebook, my written words count.  And with each relationship, I build stronger roots and develop stronger branches to reach out into the world.

I am a woman.  I am a writer. I am a mother.  I am so many things.  I am someone who strives to have integrity with each and every step.  Sometimes I succeed; other times I fail.  After all, I am human.

My roots go down. . . .

With Blessings and light,   Chava

P.S. – May we all strive to make our roots healthy and as our branches emerge to towards light.

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Last night we counted Day 24 of the Omer, which is 3 weeks and three days of the counting of the Omer. Today is referred to as Tiferet sheh b’Netzach, beauty within endurance.

Writers_Clock_ Black

To me there is nothing as beautiful as someone who is actively and passionately engaged in some aspect of life over a long period of time.  This could doing acts of Tikun Olam (Repairing the World) or an art form or maybe even someone who loves some aspect of physical movement.  Beauty comes from loving to learn and sharing that love with others.  Passion and drive take incredible amounts of endurance.

May we all find the drive and passion that fills us with beauty as we develop, grow, and move forward.

 

 

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