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Posts Tagged ‘breathe deeply’

theLightWhen I decided to write about my life, I truly thought it would be easy. Only it wasn’t. How could it be? The beatings, the screaming, and the fear permeated my earliest years. And yet my entire life has not been dark. In fact, it has been far from dark. But the dark moments seemed to have overshadowed the many gifts. And writing about my childhood plunged me into the darkness leaving me (for a little while) sad to the core.  The pain cut deep and left me treading water instead of being the thriver that I am.

My response to writing about my childhood was to dive deep into an underwater cave that was literally swallowing me up until I realized what was happening. With each passing day, I found myself going further and further underwater until I couldn’t find an air pocket to catch my breath. For over a month, I stopped writing my book and connecting with others more than I had to for my work.

Looking back I see that I had temporarily lost my voice. My voice had become too overwhelming for even me to bare witness. So I stopped talking. I stopped writing. And metaphorically, I was unable to release even the smallest whisper. And during this time, I also physically lost my voice. I am sure this is no coincidence.

As time moved forward, I found a little inner strength. Swimming further into the cave, I was finding the space to renegotiate what I needed to fuel my spirit. While I was still dark, I was learning to breathe a little more deeply and I was becoming more of the person I was meant to be. I was just starting to find a stronger voice from within.

As my voice returned, I saw it as a sign that I needed to do more than speak, I needed to find a way back to writing, “Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey”.  I needed to get back to the holy work of writing my story.

 

My story isn’t easy. In fact, what I am learning about myself is that I am not brave; I am terrified of losing my footing and slipping into quicksand. I often crumble, but I am learning to trust that even when I crumble leaving only cracks behind, light has a way of reaching my soul and on a good day, I illuminate the world with some of my light.

Each year that I remain on this earth, I learn to see myself as a little more beautiful than I ever thought possible. I know how to show up in the world and to add sparks whenever possible.  I ride the waves as I fiercely grasp for life’s many nuggets. And with each breath I take I always try to do the next right thing. In fact that is the only thing I can do on a daily basis.

One of my strongest attributes is that I am resilient. Regardless of what I have had to endure in the past or will have to navigate in the future, I always find the inner strength to show up at the table – again and again. And on I good day, I am able to radiate light as I thrive. That’s my job!

Hineini, Here I am!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. 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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best photo ever!Awakening

Opening my eyes I found:
my spirit soaring.
my heart beating strongly.
my entire being at peace.

The universe has been waiting for me.

With the patience of a lover, she kept calling me from the distance and waiting. . . always waiting.
Beckoning me to breathe a little more deeply
Inspiring me to honor my own rhythm
Asking me to listen to the silence
Empowering me to release what no longer serves me

And I listened. Hineini, Here I am!

***** ***** *****

Yesterday I returned home from the most amazing spiritual retreat I’ve had in over a decade.  After spending nearly five glorious days and nights in South Padre Island at the home of dear friends, I feel more grounded than I have in years.  Sacred time nestled between the Gulf of Mexico on the east, and Laguna Madre on the west was truly a gift in every way.

From the moment I got to my newly found oasis until the moment I left to return home, I felt at peace with the land, the water, the sunrises, the sunsets, the wind, and even the cool weather. I relaxed, I created, I took long walks, and I rested. I felt the sun warm my soul while my friends nourished me in every way.

For so long, I have needed to allow my rhythm to be my guide. I needed the quiet and to put down my ‘to do’ list. I needed to feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin. I needed long walks, awesome food, and love. It feels like forever since I allowed myself to decompress the way I did.

I even took time to watch AWESOME movies, become inspired by some of the most thought-provoking TED Talks. I know my friends wanted to show me the dolphins, the local birds, but all I needed was the water, the sun, and the time we had together.

sunset - bayNext time I need to soar, may I remember to take the time to ground myself with nature, with friends, or if I am lucky – with both. I am so lucky that the universe beckoned to me and that I listened.

South Padre Island nurtured me on down to each and every one of my cells. My heart feels a little more whole, my spirit feels more grounded even as it soars, and I feel ready for the rhythm of the next six or so weeks. I needed this sacred time so that I could refuel for all that is ahead!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,

Chava

 

 

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BreatheThere are days and weeks when I know that I don’t belong – anywhere. The loneliness seeps in and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am alone. The sadness settles deep inside my core until I can take a deep breath and navigate the jagged edges of my soul.

I know that I am not alone when I say that certain seasons are a trigger. The good news is that after decades of being reintroduced to the darkness every year, I have learned to ride the waves and trust that these feelings will not last forever.

I have learned to breathe deeply.

This week has been really tough in some ways, but profoundly enlightening in other ways. I have allowed myself to ride the waves of emotions and to take the time to face whatever I am feeling at any given moment.

And yes, I am alone, but that is ok.  I don’t believe most people want to hear about what the winter holidays were like for me growing up. And I don’t think anyone wants to hear what I was doing 28 years ago this week. The stories are part of what was, but not really who I am today. And yet. . .

The memory is a funny thing. Even when you think all is ok, you find out that it isn’t when the watershed opens at the least expected moment.

Earlier this week I had the honor of joining an Episcopal church for Christmas Eve services. From beginning to end, it was a really beautiful service. Except there was this moment that triggered a flood of emotions. The only problem is that I stood paralyzed by my inability to cry, to run, or to scream. As I listened to Hymn 97, I remembered 37 years prior when I was forced to solo sing the chorus of that very hymn in front of a congregation in a Methodist church.

At the time, I was a young Jewish girl living in a foster home somewhere in Arbutus, Maryland. The family made me go to church every Sunday; I don’t know if I realized that I could say ‘no’ or that I could simply refuse to go. I didn’t have the tools and no one would have heard me if I did.

While the memory flooded my spirit on Sunday night, I also had this incredible moment that that hymn was transformed into something beautiful instead of the memory of a young girl who was alone at one of the hardest times of her life.

No child should be forced to practice a faith that isn’t their own. No child should lose their voice to a system that is broken, but the good news is that the story didn’t end there. On Sunday night, I was able to get lost in the memory only to be ignited by the beautiful passion that that same hymn was able to transform a beautiful community into a holy one. In a spiritual moment, I was able to transform a dark memory and create new memories.

So while I sometimes feel alone, what I know today is some beautiful things can evolve from a moment alone. May I be blessed to remember that while I may have moments when I feel alone, I have a village to hold me tight and love me for the person I am.

Breathing deeply – now and always,

Chava

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“It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude,
of breathing and stretching one’s arms again.”

~Mark Rothko

I am not sure that I was ever an artist, although that is the way I think of myself.

Today my canvas is any blank journal, my blog, and any word document. My writing makes me an artist with words. But when I was much younger, I loved my opportunities to express myself through the visual arts. Drawing, painting and crafts were part of my daily life.

Now the closest I get to the visual arts is that I doodle in my journal and sometimes on small rectangular canvases that will make up a piece of art work that I am calling the ‘Dance of Emergence’.  It is the gift I am currently making for myself to be unveiled for  my 50th birthday in February.  I have yet to decide if the artwork will be ongoing, but my guess is that it will.

And of course, I have an easel holding two blank canvases waiting for me in my office. Every day I walk into my office and feel like I am neglecting my  forlorn lover. And yet, I feel like I have nothing to give. I wake up with images that I want to paint or illustrate, but I don’t because I fear that I will neglect another piece that is calling to me. Another part of this painting relationship that leads me to no where is that I am afraid of doing it poorly.  What if I am really not the artist I remember?

With the above thoughts racing through my head, I often find it difficult to walk into an art museum or a fabulous gallery.  If I allowed my intense mind the room to be totally present, I would probably simply crumble to the ground in a heap of tears.  If you are wondering why that is, it is simple. As I look at amazing works of art, I feel like I missed something. I never learned about the different artists or artist expressions as I would have liked AND I’ve never done anything with my art.  (Note: I know that blogging is my medium and I definitely share that with the world, but still I haven’t nurtured my other love affair, the one that is waiting for me in the corner of my office.)

The good news for art patrons is that I simply put one foot in front of the other and when I love an exhibit, I allow myself to feel and to get lost in the works of art.

Chava looking at large canvas 3

Photo Courtesy of David J. Cooper

On Thursday, I may have finally been transformed when I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and saw the Rothko Exhibit. As I walked through the exhibit, I realized that I AM an artist; I am unique; I AM ME!

The moment of transformation came when I noticed how Mark Rothko’s paintings evolved over time especially after he suffered and aneurysm in 1968 which caused him to switch to less toxic paints and smaller canvases. This moment helped me realize that I have also evolved from the person I thought I would be to the person I am. While this realization is so simple, it is also so very profound to me.

For me, I can’t help but focus on the beauty of his creations and the hope I have from the little time I had enjoying each piece. I was mesmerized, totally enchanted. I can’t wait to go back in the next week or two.

Following the Rothko exhibit, I went to my new favorite creative space. I went to the Rothko Chapel which is also set in the beautiful Museum District of Houston. This tranquil space is quite possibly the most sacred environment that I have experienced in Houston. (More on that in my next blog. . . )

Mark Rothko’s work warmed my heart and gave me hope. I am not sure how that will impact me in the long run. Perhaps the two canvases sitting on my easel will be given the love that they deserve. Perhaps, my writing will continue to nourish my artistic soul. Anything is possible. The bottom-line is that Mark Rothko’s artistic gifts have ultimately inspired me to become more grounded and breathe more deeply .

I will embrace my new found knowledge; I am an artist. 🙂

 

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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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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 28 Elul or 2 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

Breathe!

~ ~ ~

Regardless of how much I need to navigate, I am determined to take time to breathe-deeply.  Lately, I have been taking time each day to take three to five breaths; my hope is to feel the breath flow through me to every part of my body.  And for those few minutes that I am taking the time to breathe deeply, I feel myself grounding and feeling centered.

My life is busy, crazy busy.  Still I believe it is in my best interest to nurture my body, my mind, and my soul.  Breathing is just one tool I use; I also take time to stop and do things that inspire conscious breathing.  I:

  • watch the cycle of the moon
  • write
  • smell flowers
  • connect with friends
  • actively enjoy my sons
  • pet my dogs until they become mush in my hands
  • remain present with those that need me as a care-giver
  • take long walks
  • chant
  • hold the door open for strangers
  • see the beauty surrounding me
  • read spiritual and books poetry
  • etc

The bottom-line here is that while I am sometimes overwhelmed by the life I am leading, I am able to endure when I connect deeply to the earth and the things I love to do.  Only through breath, can I be fully connected to the world I live.  So. . . .I am learning to take more time to breathe.

With blessings & light,
Chava

pet-rock

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Last night we counted Day 27 of the Omer, which is 3 weeks and six days of the counting. Today is referred to as Yesod sheh b’Netzach, foundation within endurance.

Living life takes endurance; consciously or not, we endure the lives we live.  When we actively build a foundation for ourselves by meaningfully engaging in life, we are building a foundation within the lives we endure.

Breathing is not optional, yet most of us breathe unconsciously.  Try taking five deep breaths right now or when you have a moment ; to do this you will need to inhale slowly through your nose giving your entire body a moment to feel the breath as you take it in and then exhale through your mouth just as slowly.  Try to do this exercise evenly by taking as much time to inhale as you do to exhale.  Does this exercise relax you, give you more energy, or make you feel more centered.

Finding ways to more actively engage in life is part of building a foundation.

I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.  ~Isaac Asimov

For me, acknowledging Yesod sheh b’Netzach, foundation within endurance, is empowering.  There are so many ways in which I choose to build a stronger foundation for myself and for my family.  Each and every step we take matters and helps strengthen our cores.  Whether it is about how we breathe, eat, move or whether it is about how we relate to our interests, our money, or our role in tikun olam (repairing the world).  When I consciously develop how I do these things, I am creating a more solid foundation for myself and ultimately my family.

As we move through today, may conscious living empower us as we build a stronger foundation within our our lives.

Keep on Moving! Reaching!

 

 

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