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(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)
easel-in-corner
Learning has always caused me a tremendous amount of excitement. Not only do I love to work as a Director of Congregational Learning, I also love to stretch and grow myself in different ways. There is NEVER a time I stop being the seeker that I am.

With this in mind, I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons (a series of podcasts) when I heard:

At the end of the day, the only thing that’s perfect is a blank sheet of paper
– untouched with nothing on it. And if you’re questing for perfection,
then you will leave that blank paper blank.”
Neil Gaiman (Podcast: Magic Lesson Episode 207) 

As a passionate writer, an amateur artist, a mother, a storyteller, a friend, an educator, and more – I tend to struggle with a strong desire to reach for perfection.  And yet a person who plays so many roles, I know for a fact that I can do little or none of these roles perfectly.

My guess is that if you took time, to read every word that I have written in this blog post, you would find a spelling mistake, a grammar challenge, and a few unclear phrase or two. And if it is a natural skill or your personality, you could probably find something wrong with most everything I do.  Oh well. . .

My holy work is to create, to play, to explore, and to connect with the world around me. And to make sure I do this while finding peace in the mess that I sometimes leave in my wake.  I can’t always say the right thing or use the ‘right’ color/word/whatever. Life is full of imperfections. And many of those realities lead to beauty.  And while I may seek perfection and get frustrated by my many imperfections, the interactions with the world around me are too delicious to stop.

Always learning. . . .

The blank paper or intense silence doesn’t necessarily lead to the sparks that ignite when I take chances to interact with all the moving parts of my environment.  And yet the blank piece of paper or the silence may be exactly what I sometimes need to become grounded and ready grow or learn. Isn’t it all perspective?

As and educator, a mom, and a friend, I believe that most of us thrive using the myriad of tools to tap into learning. When free choice is coupled with the capacity to trust our spirits, it can be rather easy to soar.  This sort of awareness enables us to interact with the many environments that surround us in the  most authentic way possible.

For me and so many others, the innate curiosity  courses through our veins; it has a way of inspiring each of us to explore the world by using each and every one of our senses. That is, if we allow for our spirits to take that leap.

Always learning. . . .

Learning doesn’t have to take place at a desk in order to be called learning. Gaining knowledge takes place when I take the time talk to people, listen to the birds chirping, read an amazing book, or sometimes when I paint on the blank canvas.

All learners and all facilitators of learning know that it takes a certain amount of chutzpah, to stretch ourselves. You have to be willing get a little messy sometimes, take chances, trust your instincts, and yes, sometimes you need to make mistakes.

Hmmmm. . . .I see a metaphor forming here.

None of us succeed without doing “something” with a blank sheet of paper or a blank canvas. Success comes when we push ourselves out of comfort zone, create using all the tools at our disposal, and choose to consciously live life in the ways that feel right for you.

With the High Holy Days being right around the corner, may  we celebrate the opportunities we have had this year and seek new opportunities in the coming year. While perfection would be awesome, sometimes messing up leads to greatness.

Perhaps it is time to paint on that blank canvas at the top of this blog? What do you think?

May we find peace in the journeys we have taken this year and find new ways to stretch this coming year.

Onward with love & light!
Chava

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

Written by Elizabeth Alexander
for President Barak Obama’s Inauguration; January 2009
 

Words are powerful and empowering.  Whether I am reading them or weaving them together to articulate my own thoughts, words inspire me to explore what is and to make sense of what can be.
 
Words give my free flowing thoughts foundation; they ground me. When I read other’s thoughts, I realize that I am either not alone or that I am surrounded by both brilliant and limited thinkers. Time and again, I am amazed how all people can influence others by how they articulate themselves in speech or writing.
 
Personally, writing allows me to feel like I am being heard. As someone who has been marginalized, I have found that simply the act of writing my thoughts allows me to release the myriad of ideas that are sometimes trapped inside my head; the release also opens my heart space so that I somehow feel heard even if it is only the paper that is receiving my thoughts. In truth, once I have written my thoughts, I often feel more comfortable sharing them to anyone who will listen.
Lisa Libowitz Prescott, Arizona

Prescott, Arizona; Photo Courtesy of Lisa Libowitz

Have you ever heard the echo when you yell from a mountaintop? I love the exhilaration that comes with the responsive echo. That is the way I feel each and every time I take time to write what is weighing on my conscience and even within my subconsciousness.  The more that I write, regardless of whether it is my own personal journals, my blog, or my Facebook/Twitter posts, the more I feel at home within my being.

Over the last few weeks, I have realized:

  1. how important writing has become to my soul. . . . even more than before if that is possible.  This sweet realization is leading me to feel more whole.
  2. how I love to write notes and journal entries with my own handwriting. I love the feel of the pen or marker in my hands, the touch of the paper, and way the writing tools flow over the paper.
  3. how I equally need pen/paper and my  computer. I need both handwriting and electronic keyboard to articulate my thoughts; I also need my voice.
  4. being able to articulate my need for wrapping things in a box with all the words that I need to say before I can let go. Only once I give voice to my feelings am I am able to move forward. Just the act of releasing my thoughts or sharing my heart space allows me to let go. When I can’t do this for whatever reason, I tend to grow sad or frustrated that my purging of words does not always work well for others; I am learning to navigate this.
  5. if I am not writing, I must be in a dark place. Writing fuels my soul.

Words empower me to do what Emily Dickinson called  ‘dwell in the possibility’. I would not be the woman I am if I did not have my writing.

May all writing always exhilarate my spirit, give me wings to soar, and help me to navigate the many voices in my head.

Onward!
Now & Always

PS – Over the next few weeks, I will be playing with ways to my very own gift box of my favorite words. Let me know if you have any creative ideas for how to do this. 🙂

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Elizabeth Gilbert rocks my world. She inspires me to look deeply at all that I am and some of what I am not. She makes me laugh and she reminds me that I need to strive to make my true spirit emerge.

Ever since reading Eat Pray Love, I have been transformed and I have continued to transform. Through reading it, I realized that all of us can create experiences that move themselves forward. And when I am really honest with myself, I realize that I am on that list.

About a year ago, maybe more, I became reacquainted with Liz Gilbert when I tripped over her on Facebook.  Each of her posts caused me to reflect as well as yearn to create. My life started to become even brighter because I entertained the possibility that I really could be creative, not only as a writer, but as a visual artist too.

With the book, Big Magic on the horizon, Gilbert teased her followers with her sayings, her teachings, and her podcasts; she personally galvanized me to reach inside myself and nurture my creative soul and even my spiritual being.

To say that I am feeling positively energized and profoundly more whole as I allow myself the space to become who I really am is an understatement. AND YET, it is really hard work. Sometimes it hurts to realize what you need to do and how far away I am from where I want to be, my roots.

Life is a never-ending journey. My job is to listen to the words of Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

By openly embracing the possibility of living ‘into the answer’ and by really doing the work I need to do, I can grow and be an even healthier version of me.

This mindset has caused me to go inward a lot over the last year. But sometimes I am surprised by ferocity that comes when I am struck by the right teaching at the right time. As I was writing a blog that I was calling, I Wish, Liz Gilbert posted a beautiful and poignant piece that she call NOT THIS on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/GilbertLiz/photos/a.356148997800555.79726.227291194019670/1002190543196394/?type=3&theater

My response to this piece was,

I needed to internalize this. . .

I made some very challenging NOT THIS decisions in the last few years. . .it is hard to get up and breathe deeply when facing the fears, and yet. . . .I am exactly where I need to be in this moment EVEN as I have a few more NOT THIS things going on in my life.

Tears are running down my face and I am SO OK!

When I say that Liz’s original post took my breath away, that is not an understatement. Since yesterday, I have not been able to shake the feeling that instead of writing I Wish, I needed to write my own version of NOT THIS!

There are some non-negotiables that are shaping up in my life. My comfort zone is not as comfortable as I’d like. While I am fortunate enough to be in the perfect place for me at this time, I am also realizing that I need to make this place even better.

NOT THIS! has to become more of my motto even as I do the work of becoming more grounded in the person I really want to be.

Rocks from Sedona

Rocks from Sedona

One thing that I love about my life is how doors open exactly when the time is right and messages unveil themselves when I need them most. If Liz Gilbert’s Facebook note was not enough, I also received a gift that caused me to cry even more.

Rocks!!!

Many of my friends know that I love rocks because I often ask those who are traveling to bring me home or mail me a rock that they find on their vacations. Rocks remind me to stay grounded in the beauty of what is as I reach for what will be. So when I opened the mail to find my friend Carol’s gift, it reinforced that I really do need to remain grounded even as if the growing pains sometimes feel overwhelming.

Looking forward to turning more of NOT THIS! into more of YES – THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT!

May we all find the messages we need at the right time! I got this!! Do you?

 

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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 . . . .]

Western Minnesota Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller           Location: Western Minnesota

The only journey is the one within.
Quote by Rainer Maria Rilke

For the last several years, I have been seriously impacted by the writings of Rainer Maria Rilke.  His words touch me deeply and inspire me to reflect inwardly while trusting the insight that will come over time. Rilke’s wisdom seems to be telling me how to walk in the world.  To be fair, most of what I have read has been in his book, Letters to a Young Poet, which can often be found next to me or in my computer case when I travel.  (Note to myself: This year I will take time to read more of his works and perhaps his biography too.)

Within me a storm is constantly blowing. As someone who never stops thinking and feeling the rhythm of the world that surrounds me, I often think or wrestle with what is happening around me.  And as I grapple, I sometimes have trouble silencing my mind so that I may be able to relax or shut down.

In this moment alone, I am thinking about the 150 murdered Kenyan students and their loved ones, the fatal shooting of another African-American teenager, Justus Howell, by a Illinois Police officer on Saturday, how the water crisis in California will affect so many people, the bi-partisan reaction to Iran deal, and how to make chickpeas without leaving too much of a carbon footprint.  And then there is my work, my future work, and my sons to consider.  And finally, I am pondering about my writing – What shape do I want my upcoming blogs to take? Should I take the time to work on my book this week? The bottom-line is that these thoughts have been racing through my brain over the last several hours or maybe the last 10 minutes.

If I am totally transparent, I am also struggling with Facebook conversations. How I personally relate to people who see Israeli politics so much differently than I do? What do I do with the “friend” that referred to those that like Obama as morons. (I did delete his message and wrote him a gentle note back.) How can I make the last days of Passover meaningful? And finally, hoping to remember to send cards to the couple of friends who lost love ones over the last week.

What I am thinking about doesn’t end there. I am also deliberating on how to best make a positive difference for the slaves within the chocolate industry. (That came up during our 2nd night Seder) And I am also wondering whether J Street would be interested in letting me create a cabinet or focus community of educators. And then there is a personal issue tugging at my heart. Sigh.

The beautiful reality of the storms that happen within my head and my heart is that I am consciously intertwined with the world. I find joy in walking outside, spending time with loved ones and friends, and chanting or drumming by myself. With every ounce of my being, I am alive and thriving in the world I live. 🙂

May each of us find peace within the storms of life and within all that fills our minds.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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(Note: Recently, a very dear friend of mine questioned me about why my blog is important or why it was vital for me to share my writing. To say that the question felt like a violent blow to my soul may be an understatement.  I was profoundly stunned that someone close to me could wonder about the importance of writing and sharing my writing. This friend is really one of the best kinds of friends I have ever had, but time and distance has had an impact.  I wrote this because I wanted to respond the best way I knew how.)

Feb 12 Close UP

 

Hello Friend

I hope your day is going great in every way.

After we hung up today, I realized how many miles apart we really are.  We haven’t spent time together in years and it shows.

You really don’t know me or know what jazzes my soul.  You don’t listen to what my hopes and dreams are. You and I love one another because we have 22 years of history, but it has been over 12 years since connected for more than 24 hours and the one time we did for hours it was lovely.

Let me be clear with you. . . .I want you to know what nearly every other friend knows about me.  I live with a deep authenticity; I am happy in my own skin and with my own needs/desires.   And I know that my voice matters whether it is verbal or written.  There was a time in my life that I was silenced and today I am blessed that that is not the case!

When I say that the act of writing and sharing my writing is a non-negotiable in my life, you don’t seem to grasp the power of my writing to me and to others.  For me, writing has kept me moving forward and grounded as a person.  For others, there seems to be beauty in how people connect with my experiences and the way that I think.  My writing impacts others deeply. The more I write, the more I am asked to write.  AND the more I write, the more I am driven to write. Whether I am writing about my personal journeys, the way that I walk in the world, or the way I see the world, I touch people’s lives; sometimes I even inspire people in some small ways.  And the bottom-line is that I love that my writing touches others, but I also simply write because it centers me and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Writing has always been part of my life.  This is a love affair that has nurtured my soul, given me hope, and held me when I was feeling a sense of loss.  This love affair has kept me close at times and also pushed me over the edge.  I have been forced to navigate deep emotions with this lover and to sometimes let go.  I have been writing to and about this lover since I can remember.  This is the only lover, I have fully trusted with my entire being.  At 14 years old, I wrote. . .

Writing,
t
he song of my heart;
t
he meaning of my mind;
t
he feeling of my soul;
I
s what makes me One.
(
Note: Today, I sometimes write Whole instead of One.)

Nothing has changed since I wrote these words nearly 35 years ago.

My writing is sacred.  I choose what to share and what not share, but I write every day of my life.  If I am not writing, you know that something is seriously wrong.  While you may not like my transparency, my nonfiction nature, or my writing style, I have many people that do.  And even if I didn’t, I love it and I love doing it!

Over time, I have begun to treasure the people that stop into my writing life.  I love that one friend periodically tells me that it is time to deepen my writing or watch my grammar.  I smile that I have about 4 or 5 religious leaders that follow my blog even though I am not from their tradition.  And then there is the distant friend, that let’s me know that one particular blog has transformed how they look at the challenges that they face.  Finally, I am touched that strangers and friends alike find the gifts in what I write.

Each and every day I grow as a writer.  I look back to what I have published over the years and I laugh.  How could anyone have ever published my articles? My writing is a work in progress. Each and every day I  continue to grow as a writer and pray that I do until my last breath.

Sharing my writing is the gift I give myself and the world (or those that choose to read).  🙂  The impact that my writing has on many others is humbling and beautiful.  So while you have no reason to see my writing as impactful, many do.

Taking a deep breath. . . . I was really stunned by your questioning my writing and your subsequent attitude.

No need to talk about this again. . . .Just wanted you to know.  There are two non-negotiables in my life. . .Loving my sons and my writing journey.

Hope we one day can spend time knowing each other better. . . it has been such a long time.

With love,
Chava

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“Writing is like breathing, it’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what.”
~Julia Cameron,
The Right to Write: 
An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life

December Sunset

LightWave Journey, my blog, was created as a tool for finding light with each step of life’s journey.

I love the power of weaving words together.  Each word has the power to supply food for thought.  I actively strive to be impactful. Sometimes I succeed; often I don’t quite make it.  But the power of blogging is that I can go back and edit my thoughts and openly rethink my ideas. The bottom-line is that it is all about writing.

Mostly I don’t know who reads my blog; on a rare occasion, a post I have written gets 100 or even 200 hits. I am always touched when someone stops me and says that my writing has been inspirational.  Or when someone stops me and shares a story that they just needed to share.

My fingers have always helped me to explore the wild web of my thoughts.  I am a seeker who aspires to find sparks within the world I live.  Challenging times happen; tragedy and pain emerge with and without warning. My hope is to always find sparks even if only in the briefest of moments.

I was a born writer. From my earliest days, I remember dreaming that I would touch people with my words.  I used to think I would write children’s books, later I wanted to be a powerful journalist. Most of my life I have kept journals and today I dream of writing two books.  One of the books is being rooted from my blog and the other one is in the midst of being birthed; I will share more when the time is right.

Today writing is a springboard for the holy work I hope to one do and perhaps that I have already begun to do.  With every ounce of my being, I want my written voice to inspire others that are on their own journey. Sometime in my  teens, I figured out that each of life’s storms gave me kindle to ignite my words which would ultimately become my strongest tool towards healing.

My earliest years were filled with destructive storms and impenetrable darkness; my adult years included blocks of health challenges for people I adored. Life is what it is.  The gift is that I have ALWAYS strived to find the gifts within the challenges.  That is how I walk through the world; may I always do so!

Being transparent about my thoughts, my dreams, my hopes, and my memories is what I do! My fingers are the tool that I use to dig down deep into my soul and allow my being to emerge.

Many years ago, my journals became compromised due the the act of someone close to me.  The devastation left me unable to write again for many months; I just couldn’t do it.  Until the day that Dovi, my then 9 year old looked at me with tears in his eyes and told me that I needed to write.  My little boy knew that I would not emerge from my then darkness without taking my time to write.

For many months following that time, Dovi would check in with me daily to make certain that I was taking time to write.  As time moved on, he would ask me if I was writing whenever I had a moment of the grumps.  Forget when I was still having PMS, I had to spend my time acting like I was writing or my son would become crestfallen.  I love how Dovi intuitively knew that my writing had a core role in my mental health; both of my sons know that now.

The funny thing is that my kids have rarely ask me details about what I write.  They trust that as long as I am taking time to write that I am balanced and feeling at peace.  I know that Aryeh sometimes checks out my blog.  And Dovi will sometimes ask me to share my short children’s stories or ask me what I am creating.  Guess I will have to always continue to write if I want the guys to be ok. 🙂

May writing, like breathing, always be an active part of my life.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

 

 

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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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