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Posts Tagged ‘blessings’

“From a certain point onward
there
is no longer any turning back.
That is the point that must be reached.”
Franz Kafka

This has been the year of trials and tribulations.  In so many ways 5775 has been a nightmare and in many more ways it has been the year that I will always remember for the many and very real blessings.

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley
Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise always came, despite the floods that seemed to leave me profoundly dark and sometimes fearing for how I would navigate life.

This was the year that I said to good-bye to so many chapters of my life. My marriage formally ended, I nearly lost my profession, and hope was nothing more than a dream. Loneliness became my friend, becoming destitute was nearly a reality, and I was forced to say good-bye to some of the most beloved souls within my life.

5775 was a nightmare, it was a dark tunnel.  AND within the dark tunnel, I found some of the most amazing sparks of light.

Financial Challenges

My position as a Jewish educator ended abruptly, leaving me void of income and the finances to move forward. Yet doors opened up and my family never starved.

Whenever I feared that I would be destitute, jobs came out of nowhere.  Jobs emerged because my friends found positions for me. When my career went half-time and then ended, care-giving allowed me to care for people that were sometimes at the end of their lives, but always challenged by life circumstances. Physical pain was part of their every move; emotional challenges were inevitable. My kindness, my gentleness, and my strength allowed some beautiful souls to live with as much dignity as possible; I made a difference.

And when care-giving couldn’t sustain me any longer, so many friends afforded me the possibility to survive and ultimately thrive. While I feared survival, I never really had to a reason to worry. Everything I needed to survive was available to my family. A friend gave me a home to live in for six months, beloved friends and family gave us what we needed to move and survive until I could start working, at every turn positions allowed our family to have exactly what we needed.  And just as I was getting ready to sustain myself on hourly wages, and another friend nudged me to apply for the position that lead me to be exactly where I am supposed to be at this time. As tears run down my face, I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be in Houston with an amazing community including co-workers that fill my life with joy.

I love forever. 

And this year couldn’t protect me from the pain of loss. I did have to say good-bye or let go of what could no longer be part of my life.

After years of separation, my marriage formally ended. For now, I can share that when I married nearly 26 years ago, I didn’t believe that my marriage could end in any way other than death. It did end and while I have had years to get used to what that ending meant, it is still profoundly sad.

When I was forced to say good-bye to our beloved Shachar, my sweet puppy. I was comforted by the belief that my family gave her enormous love in the year that we had her. Her abused spirit ended too early, but for one year she was treated with the love that was part of our every interaction, even the ending of her life. And as I was struggling for our family’s loss and some very physical pain, Jennifer and David showed up. They didn’t hesitate to come to Aryeh and I who were buckets of tears and pain. They just held us metaphorically and helped us move forward.

Finally, I had to let go of my best friend, a person who I thought would be in my life forever. For reasons that are somewhat beyond my grasp. . .there are no tomorrows. Sometimes all you can say is good-bye. I only wish I had the grace to say good-bye without sharing the deep loss that was a part of me; my heart quite literally shattered as my entire being yearned to understand.  This was the year I was forced to simply let go; I was given no choice.

With each and every step, I was never alone; I was surrounded by love. My friends always showed up in some very profound ways.

This has also been the year when I faced my inability to be present for those I love. I can send love letters, I can pray and send healing energy.  But I have so many friends who are facing very real physical pain.  Their pain is deep and all I want to do is wrap my arms around them and I can’t and I may never again.  The reality that sometimes there are no tomorrows cuts like a knife. While my life has been full in all the right ways, today I don’t have the means to be more present.  And there are people that I love as deeply as I love my family, they are my family of choice. Realizing that I can not be there breaks my heart.

As I get older, I have learned that life ends, accidents happen, physical pain hurts. . .with and without warning.  When my dear friend Helen died a few years ago, I was crushed that I couldn’t be there for her family, but I couldn’t.  At the same time, I have learned the most valuable lesson possible. I have learned to love completely and to treasure what is.  Even when you lose a beloved friend or lover, what you had lives on.  That love is what made you what you are.

The World
And the world, can we talk about Israel, Black Lives Matter, Our Nation, Refugees, Climate Change. . . .the list goes on and on; my mind never shuts off.  The world is struggling and I am struggling with her. Beauty comes as I stand with so many other individuals that care. I am not alone. Regardless of what language we give to each of the issues, I am surrounded by passionate people who care and want to make a difference for good.

While I can never do enough; I am doing what I can and that has to be enough for this moment.

Finally
Moving forward means acknowledging the pain, but willingly deciding that life is worthy of swimming upstream.  Thriving is not optional. The world is precious and full of so many beautiful souls. While tomorrow is not a given, this moment is here. So to quote my ‘virtual’ friend Jeff Keni Pulver, “Live, Life, Now!”

Every morning the sun rises. Life may sometimes have painful moments, but I know that I am always surrounded by light.

5776 – Hineini, Here I am!

Onward with love,
Chava

PS – To each and every one of my friends that have been there for me – thank you! I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

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“there is no map.
you gotta write your own.
you gotta carve your own.
you gotta sweat, cry, grieve,
laugh, and love your own.
and when you’re all done,
that’s all that will have mattered.”
© Terri St. Cloud

Life has been filled with amazing gifts and undeniably difficult journeys. Yet, I have been blessed with the ability to ALWAYS find ways to navigate. In my younger years, I often felt alone; over the last half of my life, I have felt held and loved with every step.

As I move towards my 50th birthday, I am intrigued by how far I have come. But lest you think it is about the specifics of my life, it isn’t. Each and every one of us are unique. While we may have those that guide us in our journeys, there is no one like me (or you) out there. We can learn from others, but they can’t make the trek for us.

Tonight, as I was talking to a friend. I realized that I could tell her how I would move through a challenging situation, but then I stopped myself. Sharing my intuition or my insight is one thing, but I am not qualified to do more than share. My friend has to make her own decisions.

Light and blessings surround me at every turn. Dark moments happen, but enlightening sparks are never far behind. I have always emerged from sadness, pain, violence, and challenges. That has been my choice. . .it is what I do. Not only do I emerge, but I soar. I find the gifts within the challenges, the light within the darkness.

I love that my map is guided by my spirit; I am one of the luckiest people I know.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed? Yesterday was my day! But with my mattress on the floor, I didn’t have far to go.

Nearly every moment of the day, I was either close to tears or crying. I felt like a storm that left tons of puddles. My spirit felt crushed and my heart felt broken. Sometimes it is hard to believe how deeply I feel.

Over the course of yesterday and probably most any day, if I allowed myself, I could cry for all the injustices that have surrounded my life. I could also cry because nine spiritual souls were murdered in their House of Prayer. I could cry for the homeless people I see on every corner in Houston. I could cry for my perceptions of US and Israel politics. I could cry because I have some friends that are struggling with their lives. I could cry for the wildfires that are destroying land I love (and making life challenging for so many.) I could cry because I am missing one very beloved soul that was in my life who for various reasons is essentially dead to me. Yesterday was one of those days that I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.

Raw intensity is absolutely a reality of my being. I love deeply; I feel deeply. When I allow myself the time and space, I am a very gentle soul that can usually manage all of my moving parts. Usually. Not always.

Yesterday was not a day for holding back my tears. I cried. I sulked. AND regardless of how I was feeling, I kept finding rainbows. Bright beautiful rainbows.  Nearly every moment of my day included beautiful ironies that imbued a sense of balance within my melancholy spirit.

  • As my eyes my opened this morning, I saw an absolutely beautiful photo taken by the amazing Jade Beall. All of Jade’s photos fill my eyes with tears; she has a way of capturing the most awe-inspiring women and children. Now that would have been enough, but then I read the words of an absolutely stunning woman who had never seen her beauty before she saw Jade’s photos of her. Both women were full of pure grace in my eyes.
  • After a little while, I read David Bedrick’s thoughts on self-love. In that moment, I wanted to skip it. I wasn’t open to the possibility. And then I read the Gregory Orr poem:

    Squander it all!

    Hold nothing back.

    The heart’s a deep well.

    And when it’s empty,
    It will fill again.

  • A short time later, also on David Bedrick’s discussion on self-love, I saw a photo of a mural that seemed to be reminding me how to live my life. Great message for the perfect moment. (see below)
  • One of my closest friends called.
  • After being told that one of my congregant’s dog was essentially afraid of his own shadow and does not go to anyone, Rocky couldn’t stop coming to me for love. I felt so blessed to receive this pup;s love!
  • Aryeh, my older son, called from where he is working at a camp in California. I am so proud of him for persevering the wildfires and the very rustic conditions that are a result of the wildfires.
  • A friend mailed me a fabulous book!!! I was so surprised and touched!
  • Dovi and I cooked a great dinner together.
  • On Facebook, I admitted how lonely I was feeling in Houston and people reached out. So many people reminded me that I was loved. In the end, new friends invited me into their lives and other friends helped make connections so that I wouldn’t feel so lonely. Now I will experience a chant group tonight, Gay Pride over the weekend, and new friends and new experiences over the coming weeks. I may even try karaoke with my new friends. 🙂
  • I read a blog by Amanda Palmer who’s best friend just died. That opened up the floodgates and allowed me to cry. Remember, I was also in the midst of actively grieving my own loss.
  • Students voted to take down the Confederate Naval Flag at the The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, SC.
  • I took a long walk with my dog and used that time to chant!!! Awe-someness!!!
  • And then there were the sayings that kept showing up guiding me how to live life with more grace and personal integrity. Here is the one that resonated, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. KEEP THE CHANNEL OPEN!” As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille.
  • A couple of friends called and allowed me the safe space to feel and share what I was feeling.
  • While I was looking forward to the Gratitude and Trust Summit or #gratitudetrust140 for today, I was so grateful that late last night Jeff Pulver and I chatted on Facebook and he messaged me the info so I could log on to LiveStream!!! I am so fortunate to witness Jeff’s inspirational journey and how his visions impact the so many.

Reflection: Even as I struggled with intense sadness and pain yesterday, I kept finding blessings at every turn. And while, the blessings couldn’t heal me from my pain, they sure filled my spirit with light. Now that’s what I find ironic.

Just in case you may be wondering, rainbows make me cry too!!!

REMINDER:

Photo Courtesy of Joel Gunz-Portland, Oregon's Alberta Street

Photo Courtesy of Joel Gunz-                     Portland, Oregon’s Alberta Street

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Sometimes my body tells me when it is time to stop and to breathe a little more deeply.  If I am wise enough and make the time to listen, the subtle hints will guide me in the ‘right’ direction; if not, a cyclone will take over my body until I do what I should have done in the first place.

Lavender photo

“Field of Lavender” – Courtesy of Carolyn Riker

How do I know this?

My body is recovering from revolting to life’s journeys.  Over the past many months, I have had to navigate upheaval at every turn. Today I am lucky, I am in the midst of landing in Houston where I will begin a new position in a just over three weeks.  In the meantime, I have nesting to do as well as my consulting work with Lev Shalem Institute.

To say that I feel spiritually great feels inadequate.  My entire world is flowing with fortunate blessings, my cup is overflowing. And yet, I am human.  I have been handling too much, I am still struggling financially and trying to be an incredible mother to my growing sons. I am also making some very holy choices for how to live more consciously and nurture my writer’s soul.

The work can feel overwhelming and last week’s move from Virginia to Texas took my last reserve. The trek was physically hard, the food on the road did not agree with me, and the cyclone hit with a vengeance within 18 hours of arriving in Houston.

To say that my digestive system is trashed and I feel like I have been hit by a Mack Truck is only the tip of the iceberg. Or maybe it is the iceberg. . . And I was too weak to call for help and perhaps a little embarrassed that I needed help. I pride myself on being self-reliant and emotionally strong, but I am very much an average person. In fact I wouldn’t have made it this far over the last 18 months without the love and care from my village of beloveds.

Being slammed with this intense pain and dysfunction upon landing may have been just the gift I needed. Of course, that doesn’t mean this is an easy time, it just means that I acknowledging that life is full of gifts even within the challenges. Last  night my symptoms were joined with a fever and a little respiratory frustration, today I am a little better.

With all of this in mind, I know that I don’t have a choice, I have a body to take care of and a mind that needs loving-kindness. So, I am taking time to rest and move gently, write and hydrate.  This is my life.  I am thinking it may be time to listen carefully to all that my body is saying.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – I am wondering if it makes sense to make a create a lavender pillow to help my body and mind rest.  After seeing my friend Carolyn’s Riker’s photo above, I became aware that I need to surround myself with healing thoughts, healthy life choices, and a pillow to lay my head (metaphoric or real).

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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 . . . .]

Vision Your Journey
Create Your Future

The only journey is the one within.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Life is a journey.

With that in mind, I have to be willing to take My Journey Towards Wholeness with a full heart and a willing spirit. Instant gratification will probably be a wish and not a reality.

On April 1, 2010 – I had to face surgery to end debilitating pain and also to hopeful keep me from becoming a statistic. The surgery worked with flying colors and my life has evolved substantially since that time. Reflecting back, I believe that that journey propelled me to new places and opened my mind to new possibilities.  I also love that when I look at the goals I had just 12 days post surgery, I am blessed to be able to say that my vision for myself then is pretty much where I am today.

Today, I am in a much healthier and spiritually stronger place as I continue to grow as a person while honoring what I believe.

With that in mind, I am sharing my writing from this time and hoping that some of you become inspired by The Chava Project.

Sending love and healing thoughts to all!
Chava

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Originally this post was written April 12, 2010 following what could have been serious surgery. The good news is that all went well and healing went well.

The Power of the Chava Project

Vision Board for Chava Created March 31, 2010

Vision Board for Chava
Created March 31, 2010

Approximately a month ago, my friend Jennifer Judelsohn suggested that we create the Chava Project http://journeycircles.blogspot.com/2010/03/chava-project.html by having people send a word to her post office box.  The word would represent a prayer, a hope, or a vision you had for me.  We probably had about two-dozen words mailed via snail mail and then another two-dozen words emailed to us.  Each word was mounted on a painted canvas that was meant to become my vision board and to inspire me as I journeyed towards a stronger physical and spiritual essence.

The beauty of each and every word,  the embellishments,  and the intentions was that they were transmitted to me in a very core way.  With every fiber of my being, I felt the love and warmth that surrounded my healing and my growing journey.  I couldn’t believe that so many people cared enough to take the time to let me know their word for my evolution.

In my life I have had times that I felt completely alone, but not any longer.  I feel loved, cherished, and cared for.  Today, I know that many people are my soul friends.  They celebrate my journey towards physical and spiritual health.  And nearly all of my beloved friends would help me in any way if I let them know my needs.

There are many people who empowered me and continue to support me as I move through my journey.  Both family and friends from all over as well as those that are specifically part of  my CAJE friends and my Kol Zimra/Jewish Renewal friends, you know who you are.  I’ve been blessed to be surrounded world-wide with people that illuminate my world and the world that they live in too. Through my friends, I have been granted the space to explore the roads that I currently travel.

Many voices are in my head at any given time.  Most of the thoughts begin with the overarching wisdom of Theodore Herzl, “Im tirtzu, ein zo agadah. If you will it, it is no dream.”  There is so much that I want in my life and most of it is within my reach if I admit my feelings and do that which needs to be done in order to make things happen.  Only through action and consistent discipline will I attain that which I desire to have a more fulfilling life.

My life is somewhat complicated and also quite simple too.  I love life and I consistently strive to reach for the different goals that are continually emerging.  There is much to strive for-always.  Mountains to climb; valleys to descend. With each step, there is a plethora of new options that come into view.

Each step leads to beauty.  Sometimes I see myself as the young girl looking out to the ocean of a Dali painting I love.  The vastness of the water or the life potentials surrounding me is endless; all I need to do is to make a decision on what step or stroke needs to be my next.  As simple as that sounds, limiting the options that surround me is not an easy task.  I want to do it all; I want to feel the rhythm of each and every desire, but I can’t do it all.

Nearly two weeks ago, I had a hysterectomy.  It wasn’t traumatic in any way; it needed to be done, so I did it.  The beauty of the hysterectomy is what happened before and after the actual surgery.  Initially, my friends and some strangers supported me by sending me a word/prayer/hope to put on my vision board.  The artwork sits with me as a reminder of the work that I have left to do in this world.  There are so many things I want to accomplish.  At the moment though, the goal is to be healthy!!!!!! And while it is taking more time than I would like; it is happening nonetheless.  And other friends offered me prayers and meditations, chanting and drumming; one friend mailed me a self-guided visualization to prepare for the big day.  And since coming home, a couple of friends stayed in the house to help, other friends have been as present as I would like them to be.  Two friends came out of the way to sit with me in the hospital the day of surgery as I was fairly sick and less than fun to be around.  And since coming home, I have received, cards, emails, Facebook notes, calls, and plants/flowers.  Wow. . . I feel loved.

And through each and every step of my healing, my boys have been taking care of me.  Whether it is about being with me as I heal or supporting me as I make decisions and work towards all my many goals.  It is amazing to live in a family that honor where each and every one of us is.  My children know that Michael, their father, and I are trying to explore how work will evolve for both of us and how my creative and intellectual pursuits will be nourished.

Creating a list of 100 things I’d like to do before I die is not difficult, my top pursuits include:
1.    teaching from my soul.
2.    writing about my life journeys.
3.    creating a series of Jewish retreats for survivors of childhood trauma and their loved ones.
4.    becoming a rabbi.
5.    physically thriving.
6.    growing my hair just a little longer ☺.
7.    kayaking and hiking throughout the spring and summer.
8.    finding my own path for doing Tikun Olam (repairing the world).
9.    living consciously and with integrity.

Waking up from anesthesia, I said the words that I say upon waking up in the morning “Modah ani lifanecha. . . I thank You, living and eternal Spirit, for restoring my soul. What an awesome responsibility I now have to choose to live life in a healthier way while honoring my spirit as well as the spirit of the world around me.

The vision board with all her words is a reminder that I am striving towards honoring myself and working towards incredible growth.

With love and light,
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 . . . .]

Photo courtesy of Simon Rosenblatt. Being called up to the Torah for an aliyah is amazing, but it is time for me to read from the Torah again.

Photo courtesy of Simon Rosenblatt. Being called up to the Torah for an aliyah is amazing, but it is time for me to read from the Torah again.

How I LOVE learning Torah!!!!

Being whole means doing things that jazz my soul. fuel my being, and nourish my body. When I am doing these thing, it means that life is good.

While any one thing may not be enough to keep me happy, doing the things that have the capability of making me more whole can only lead to being a better me!

Early this week, I was going to cancel doing a D’var Torah (Torah Talk) at a local chavurah (group that gathers together).  At the time, I was realizing that I had really missed the opportunity to daven (pray) with this group while living in Louisa, Virginia and I wasn’t sure that what I had to offer would touch them.  Upon further reflection, I realized that this group was one of the most holy groups I have been privileged to daven with. With that in mind, I started the holy work of preparing to lead a Torah study.

The particular parsha (Torah portion) was initially not the easiest one for me to conquer, but as time progressed, I found a way to navigate that made my heart sing. And through the learning, I found the perfect chant to lead into the honoring of this portion.

In Parshat Emor (The Torah Portion called Emor), I learned that while practices may often feel harsh and judgmental, it is important to look deeper at the wisdom and the person before you.

הינך יפה רעיתי
Hinach yafah rayati, hinach yafah!
H
ow beautiful You are, my friend, how beautiful are!
– Song of Songs 1:15

Often times, I see the blessings and the gifts for things that I originally saw as difficult or even ugly. But some times I need the reminder to dig for a deeper understanding. The Torah challenges us to look and explore the wisdom even when it makes no sense.

When you look at what many of us refer to as the Living Torah, you can find real tools for leading an ethical life. Sometimes, the initial lesson may inspire us to live differently than what we perceive the written word to be saying. But when we give ourselves the time to deeply examine what is being said than we may find something altogether different. This is what happened to me this week.

I am blessed with wise friends and teachers that inspire me to learn and who share their knowledge freely. And I am surrounded by books and wisdom of many people throughout all ages.

The blessing of this particular parsha is that I learned to see the Torah through different eyes and to treasure the many offerings that I understand and even some that I don’t yet understand. And the most beautiful teaching that I received was in learning the power of digging deeper.

Each of us are beautiful. Each of us have our own unique gifts to offer. Each of us are part of what makes the world exactly what it is.

May we choose to impact the world with beauty and acceptance for all. May we find value in the gifts that each unique person brings into our world.

Sending you love, light, and blessings,
Shabbat Shalom,
In chant,
Chava

PS – After Shabbat, I will share a version of my D’var Torah.

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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 . . . .]

Sometimes You Simply Have to
Howl at the Moon

Today was hard, really hard.

Many days have passed since I slept well.  Some of this is because I am struggling with the death of someone that was once in my family. At the same time, I am trying to figure out how I will make the move to Houston.. And through it all, I have holy work to do.

At dawn, after sleeping only a couple hours, I woke up to a really sick dog. My beloved Maddie wouldn’t eat, couldn’t drink, and was lethargic. In my worried state, I kept saying that all of us have moments we don’t feel good. Fortunately, she perked up, started eating ice cubes, and  eventually ate some dog treats, chicken and rice. And more good came when I had an awesome conversation with someone I needed to connect with via work. But then. . .

Tonight grew hard again when the exhaustion seeped into my bones yet I had to drive for over two hours so that I could try to navigate a potential challenge. Ugh! I had to go to the Staples in Charlottesville so that I could try to uncover my credit report; for some reason it is in hiding. The good news was that I was able to spend some time connecting with friends. And through it all, I also had to be present for someone in serious emotional distress.

Coming home, I was greeted at the door with a late dinner, a few minutes with my sons, a hot cup of chamomile tea, and a hungry, but happy dog. At the same time, I am feeling profoundly grateful to my new communities support in Houston!

Regardless of what type of day and evening I had, I realized that while the day had really hard moments, it also had amazing blessings too. And in the end of it all, the full moon was calling my name.  The moon was waiting for me to howl at it. So I did!

Moon May 2015

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