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Posts Tagged ‘biking’

Some memories can never be forgotten; they are held tightly in the recesses of the mind.

Somewhere in late elementary school and early junior high school, I figured out that biking was the best way for me to be socially and emotionally safe.  I loved to bike and I was blessed to live in the most fabulous neighborhood for biking.

For me, biking was freedom; as long as I rode my bike I knew I was safe from the perilous experiences of being home.  So, I chose to bike often.

After one of my bike rides, I rode up to my house to find a Swat Team surrounding my house.  The experience was pretty surreal. As an awkward young teenager, I stopped to ask the police officer why a swat team was surrounding my house.  The police officer told me that my mother had called the police to say that gunmen had taken my brother downstairs; she was really quite terrified.

The scene could have been out of a one of the cop TV shows that were so popular in the mid to late seventies; the only challenge (well not really) was that my brother wasn’t actually in the script.  He was a paratrooper in the Israeli army and he hadn’t been in the States for a very long time at that point.

The look in the police officer’s face when I told him about my brother’s whereabouts would have been comical if I hadn’t felt totally mortified at the story that was unfolding.

I am not certain how long the scene lasted.  My guess is that once I told the officer that my brother wasn’t even in this country, it probably wrapped up fairly quickly.  While I wasn’t in the house when all unfolded, I will never forget the years of nightmares that followed.  For years, I re-winded the scene in my head and had nightmares as if my brother really had been held captive.  My brother was everything to me, the thought of losing him was devastating back then and still is to this day.

~ ~ ~

Facing mental illness is absolutely horrific for any family.  My mother was emotionally and mentally a very sick woman who had little or no control over her actions during much of my childhood.  The good news is that regardless of what I endured. . .  I survived, I thrived, and I was always able to keep moving forward.

Resiliency!

Another blessing is that with all I endured, I ultimately emerged as someone who chooses to make the world a better place.  If injustice is happening, I will do my part to make things better.  If I hear about abuse, I try to make certain the right people/organization becomes notified and the situation has a chance of getting the help it needs.  When I met a pregnant, homeless woman with a young child, my family took her in for months until we found her the right placement.  When a friend of mine had brain cancer, my older son and I went to St. Cloud, Minnesota to help care for her and her son.  When I am called to help someone in need or to provide shelter for a traumatized human being, I do it!

I learned from watching the world around me. Most people didn’t lift a finger to help me.  My guess is that they felt helpless or didn’t know what to do. My hope is that people now have their eyes open a little wider and are quicker to do their part.

One of the challenges of mental illness coupled with domestic violence is that, as a neighbor, you may just not notice.  I am not sure how this could have been so especially during the seventies when everyone was playing outside and windows were always wide open.

~ ~ ~

After the police and Swat Team realized my brother was safe and no gunmen could be found, they left.  Surreal.  My mother never really did get the help she needed.

My prayer for today is that this situation would never end that way. May we all be blessed with the capacity to reach out and help and if we can’t help, find someone who can.

BTW, I still love bikes, biking, and photos of bikes. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall- Tel Aviv Beach

BTW, I still love bikes, biking, and photos of bikes.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall-
Tel Aviv Beach

Note: Why did I remember this story now? The community I grew up in has a Facebook page, Randallstown, MD – 1970’s and 1980’s,  that suddenly became really active. With that some of my childhood memories have flooded back to me.  At one point, I saw the name of the person who was biking with me on the day of the ‘incident’.  I am not 100% certain he came back with me to the house that day, but I think so. Anyway, judging by his Facebook page, he has grown in very different ways than me. . . so I am not reaching out at this time.   But the memory of this once very special friend brought back the memory of the story above.

 

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Life has been hard. Very hard. And yet. . . .

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin Did you notice the butterfly? :)

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin
Did you notice the butterfly? 🙂

I am blessed that there are so few moments when darkness doesn’t allow me to see clearly.

Today I feel warmth from the amazing sparks that could easily burst into a flame.  There are so many gifts that surround me at any given moment.  And yes, there is also deep pain that is part of my life and part of the lives of so many people that I love.  But for now, I want to focus on the gifts.

My sons:

  • Today Aryeh and Dovi went biking together for the first time in forever!!!! Now that may seem silly because they are 21 and 17 years old; yet for so many reasons, it really is quite amazing.
  • AND Dovi has asked for shorts so that he can be more comfortable biking; he hasn’t worn shorts in nearly 10 years.  Now this is a shehecheyanu moment (a blessing that is recited when you do something for the first time in a long time or ever).
  • Dovi decided to excel in math and that is exactly what he is doing!
  • This week, we have had some incredibly sweet moments as a family.
  • Aryeh continues to amaze me in the way he takes care of everyone in the family; he is truly growing into a man! Wow.

Friends:

  • I love how my friends reach out and are totally present for me.  As I type, one group of friends is trying to find ways to help me thrive emotionally; they are working towards creating options for me to make it through a challenging period of time.
  • A few different friends have found ways for me to support myself after losing my livelihood. Yay!
  • One friend just embroidered a bath-sheet with my name on it!!!! She even used my favorite colors.  I can’t wait to see it and use it!  (If you are curious, I love sage and lavender. . . but in truth all shades of purple are awesome.)
  • A couple of friends have given me great gifts when I wasn’t sure how I would move forward.
  • I am held by some profoundly loving souls.

Taking care of me:

  • I found a care-giving position that is giving me more normal hours so that I don’t have to work all-nighters.
  • I am on Day 8 of not drinking any sodas!!!!!
  • I am getting more hours of sleep than I had been getting previously; this week I have gone to sleep by 10 PM nearly every night.
  • I am taking time to write.
  • My blog reached 30,000 viewers today.  Sometimes I even hear that my writing is inspiring those that take time to read my writings. YAY!  I so love sharing my inner thoughts through writing.
  • I spoke with one of my closest friends this week after a too long hiatus.

Insights for the week

  • Omm backwards is Moo. (Thanks Dietz Family)
  • My intuition keeps getting stronger and stronger; I love that I am learning to actively listen and respond to my gut.
  • Finding answers to questions is not always so simple. . . .Never ask your friends what is better a Vitamix vs. Blendtec OR Nutri-Bullet vs. Ninja. 🙂 Can you tell my blender is dying and I am into making green smoothies?
  • Everyone has a different perspective about the practices of the High Holy Days.  I am thinking next year I may create my own practice and share with those that are interested.
  • Words have meaning and attitude; just when you think something makes sense, you learn it doesn’t.

I love that I can always find light even when I am walking down a dark alley.  Hoping the same for you too!

With love, light, & blessings
Chava

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: Persistence

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.

 

Courtesy of Shay Seaborne

Courtesy of Shay Seaborne

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean 

What I have learned is that if you want to accomplish anything in the world you have to do the work.   Only though taking one step at a time will you learn how to make things happen or how to navigate the waters so that you can get to where you want to go.

In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to develop a few practices that now guide my life.

  • Writing – Only through writing and reading do I grow my writing in skill and intensity. Since writing really jazzes my soul, I have to do the work to be a good writer.
  • Chanting –   For me, chanting is a way to go deep inside myself and to work on how I see the world and walk through life.  The deeper I allow my chanting practice to go, the more  my spirit seems to evolve to a healthier place.
  • Healthy Living – I love eating healthy foods, going to the chiropractor regularly, and biking/hiking in the desert.  The challenge for me is that this is a practice I’ve yet to find a momentum for. So, this is my work.  Once I set my mind to the holy work of taking care of my entire being only then will I be healthier.  The good news is that I do have a practice and I will continue to take small steps over time.

Only persistence will get me where I want to go.  Is there a practice that you would like to grow? If yes,what are you doing to invest in your journey?

 

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In theory I love biking; I always have.

While it took me until I was 11 years old to get on a bike, once I did I always wanted to ride.  That was until one of my college housemates lost my bike or had it stolen while she was borrowing it.  I loved my Sears 10-speed, I still remember it fondly. Once my bike went missing, it took me years to get on a bike again and quite honestly, it wasn’t what one would call a natural experience.  Do you remember the saying “once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget”?  Well that wasn’t true for me; the first time I got on a bike after decades of not riding, I couldn’t remember how to turn the wheel. The good news is that it didn’t take long; I fell in love again.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall- Tel Aviv Beach

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall-
Tel Aviv Beach

Jump ahead to the last few weeks, bicycles have become part of the ongoing message.  I see them everywhere I go.  I also realize that I have always wanted to be a healthy biker chic of the manual bike variety; it has  been a dream of mine to use a bike as transportation not just recreation. Over the years, this has been an ongoing  message that has come to me time and again and yet I have been afraid of pushing myself to build endurance.  Failure is not something I do well and yet I will never succeed if I don’t give it my all.

Biking is for those folks that are in shape or maybe for those people that can really make time to bike.  Biking is not meant for an overweight middle-aged woman.  At this point, you and I both know that that is not an excuse and the messages keep telling me so.  Here are only some of the messages that have come my way:

  1. A few weeks ago my friend Stephanie Randall posted the above photo of a bike leaning against some bars as she was viewing the Tel Aviv sunset.  In an instant, I fell in love and wanted to both get on my bike and to find a beach to ride near.  At least I could get on my bike; there is no ocean front property in Tucson.
  2. “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.” – Mark Twain  – This is the tagline that a good friend has all of his emails.  This truth seems to be calling to me.
  3. On Friday, my friend Bob got on his bike after his own health challenges; I loved his selfie of the experience.
  4. My friend Daniel is coming to Tucson next week for our Passover Seder.  NOT.  He is coming to bike and because he is here, we will have a chance to reconnect.  I love the passion that propels him forward as a cyclist; I, quite literally, yearn for that passion and wish I could have some of his skill and endurance.
  5. Yesterday another friend had a minor biking accident.  He had a small break in his hand and needed some stitches too; today he got back on his bike.  Wow, I can learn from that kind of attitude.
  6. And then this morning, another friend posted the following article on Facebook.  Riding Away From A Broken Marriage – http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/biking/The-Flat-Tire-Project.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=facebookpost  As someone who is struggling myself, the article gave me hope.

In fact all of the points above inspire me to bike and to push myself to be more healthy.  So with all of this in mind, I got on my bike today.  For the first time since pulling out my lower back (twice) in recent months, I returned to my bike.  And today was a really grueling day.  I was suffering from horrible abdominal pain, physical exhaustion after working five 12 hour night shifts, and finally emotional darkness after losing the job that brought me to Tucson in the first place.  Everything about me was depleted and yet today was the day that I felt compelled to push myself.  And you know what, I feel so much better for it, although I sure don’t look that way 🙂

Don't I look great after my first 45 minute bike-ride in months.

Don’t I look great after my first 45 minute bike-ride in months?

Feeling inspired. . . .my plan is to ride tomorrow too!!

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Tonight, we will count or have counted Day 12 of the Omer, which is 1 week and 5 days.  We refer to today as Hod she-b’Gevurah, being actively present in what you are doing without needing to control the outcome of what’s happening within the power of life’s journeys and within our own strength.  The beauty of living, even momentarily, without needing to control how something will work or not work can be profoundly freeing.

The teaching Na’aseh V’Nishma, which is understood to mean do first and understand later ; the translation means we will do and we will hear  (understand more deeply) comes to mind. (Exodus 23:4-7)   Sometimes we are drawn or even ordered to do things that make no sense.  If we are lucky, we might one day come to better understand our actions.
Congested

One of the things I have grown to love is walking, hiking, biking, or driving in an area that is unknown to me.  With each forward movement, I fall in love with where I am at any given moment without an expectation of what is coming next.    In truth, even if I could easily read maps I would still be clueless about what is happening and what I am seeing until I get to where I am going.

Life is full of things that are hidden from us or that are unclear to us.  Sometimes we are fortunate enough to gain perspective after we have completed a task, sometimes later, and sometimes not at all.  Learning to trust the process of life is a gift you give yourself.

May we all be blessed to have moments in time that we can trust our role in life without needing to understand each and every moment that is coming or will ultimately come.

 

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