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Day 37 - Choose to ThriveEach and every morning I have a choice about how I will approach my day. In fact, if I am really honest, I have that choice with every breath I take. My job is to keep taking deep breaths and doing the next best thing.

Life is full of gifts and challenges. And while I have grown to accept that life can be really hard, I have also been known to embrace each step as consciously as possible. I know that as long as I am moving forward and doing all I can to navigate life’s journey, I will emerge from most any experience.

As someone who was raised in an incredibly toxic home, I have made the decision to always try to do what I can to make things what I want them to be. And some days, I struggle more than others and on those days I try to remember that I am human. When I am ready to emerge from whatever I am navigating, I will.

I love knowing that I can make life a little more beautiful through how I interact with the environment that surrounds me. This includes:

  • being loving to whoever is in front of me.
  • finding sparks of light in hard and painful moments.
  • actively engaging in actions that I hope will make the world a better place.
  • creating through writing, painting, and in any way I can.
  • opening doors for strangers.
  • showing up at the table – again and again.
  • moving forward even when I feel like I can’t take another step.
  • AND MORE . . .

Even when I was younger, I always did what I could to survive. The difference is that today, more than anything in the world, I want to not only survive, but thrive.

Hineini, Here I am!

Each and every day, I ask myself:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
~Mary Oliver in ‘The Summer Day’

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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Oncoming storm - Chesapeake - Paul Zeitz

Incoming storm on the Chesapeake Bay.    Photo Courtesy of Paul Zeitz.

My Inner Demons have been busy over the last few days. They have been telling me all sorts of harsh things:

  • You don’t do enough for humanity.
  • You need to push harder.
  • You really do feel too deeply.
  • Why can’t you let go of _________.
  • Why aren’t you able to save more money?
  • And so much more. . . .

My journey (always) is to quiet those Inner Demons. Because these demons are a storm raging inside of me that can only become destructive if they get out of control.

Fortunately, they aren’t telling me what they often tell me like:

  • You are limited.
  • You’re so f*cking fat.
  • You are nothing without good hearing.
  • What do you have to give to the world?
  • Why can’t you be more articulate?
  • After all of the writing that you have done, your grammar sucks.

UGH!!

Here is the good news here, I know that these Inner Demons aren’t really helping me nor are they being truthful; they are simply distracting me from being my best me.

These are the voices of my childhood. This is what my mother said every day. Some of this is what the neighborhood boys told me as they bullied me. This is what I heard when I closed my eyes at night.

Silencing those voices has been my life work. As an adult, I have been blessed, but the damage of childhood hell runs deep. I have to keep reminding myself that I am awesome just as I am, but I at times the struggle is real.

On a bad day, my Inner Demons hang close. The most frequent time they visit is when I am having a bad day at work because I have made a mistake or I have a challenging moment with a co-worker or a member of my congregation. Every time a friend decides they no longer want me in their life, the demons visit. Each time a relationship ends with a man that I believed would be part of my life forever, I know that I will spend the rest of my days alone. Who would want a person like me? The biggest challenge comes from tough moments with loved ones. The good news is that I can usually remember that moments happen, but sometimes I forget.  Sigh.

Fortunately,  the Inner Demons only visit me initially when I am feeling challenged, really hurt, or super sad. With some real soul work, I have been able to find amazing tools to help me navigate. Sometimes it is as simple as taking a deep breath and then another. Eventually after enough deep breaths, the demons silence themselves and I accept life’s challenges with a little more ease. I also chant, dance, walk, drum, paint, get quiet, or do whatever I need to do in order to change my childhood and earlier adulthood patterns.  Altering patterns is my work, I am ok with that.

I am a work in progress (WIP).

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . 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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(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

Day 28 - HineiniNearly every day, I take time to go inward through my journaling, meditation, and chanting practices, I often focus on remaining present. Breathing deeply, focusing inward, and ultimately figuring out where I am truly meant to be. This isn’t always easy because in truth I am also a bit scattered.

With Rosh HaShana on the horizon, this reflection seems more poignant than ever. Learning from those moments that I allow myself to go inward, I know that I need to navigate my life differently then I did this past year so . The goal is to ultimately show up for others as needed, but also honor my own needs.  It’s time for me to prioritize all the moving parts of my life while also creating boundaries around the things that I hold sacred.

May I always be present – not only for my family, my friends, and my world, but also for myself.

Hineini. Here I am. I am present. I am exactly where I should be.

Onward with love, light, & authenticity,
Chava

PS – I’d love your feedback on my blog, my writing, my thinking, and/or my Activist Cards!!! Feel free to like or comment. I will try to respond to all comments to this blog. Input is always welcome.

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With a broken heart, I take a cleansing breath. Aren’t all of our hearts broken by living life as we do?

I inhale the light
I exhale the darkness

I inhale the blessings
I exhale the pain

I inhale the love
I exhale the loneliness

I inhale the gifts
I exhale the challenges

And with each breath, I am responding to the rhythms of our universe, of my world. I inhale the beauty and I exhale that which needs to be released.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

I have always opened my heart and spirit to feel the realities that surround me. And yet, I have moments when I simply feel invisible – that is only part of the story.

I inhale when I am seen
I exhale when I feel invisible

Everyone is invited to a gathering, but me.
My heartfelt text messages go unanswered.
Someone I love closes the door without so much as a word.
All of the above leaving me to wonder and wonder some more. . . .

And yet I wake up each day knowing that I matter even in the moments that I feel unseen. My village shows up and surrounds me with love even when they sometimes forget to invite me into their lives.

The connection ultimately transcends the ego – always.

The call in the middle night from a friend in crisis reminds me that I am seen. My friend knows that my door is open any time I am needed.

And then there are the friends that reach out when they want me to create a sacred cleansing ritual for their new home. I am known for burning sage, chanting, and drumming as a way to allow for a new and sweet energy to emerge into any new home.

I am here to listen to both pain and joy.
I am here to ride the waves of devastation and new beginnings.
I am here to climb mountains and navigate valleys.
I am here for life and I am here for death.
I am here, Hineini. 

With an open heart and deep love, I am here – I will always be here through gifts and challenges.

Breathe

Artwork by Chava Gal-Or; Text is from A Reflection On Nishmat by Rabbi David J. Cooper

Dichotomies fill every moment or reality in life; and with each moment comes an inhale followed by an exhale.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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December 2016 - looking out into water

While not a selfie, this is my favorite photo of me in the world! I love the Bay!

Today is Day 17 of My Selfie Challenge. This is my time to look at how I walk in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bind my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it is my hope that as I take each photo, I will learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it is my time to find the beauty that is me.

~ ~ ~

Life is messy.

As a writer, a dreamer, and a seeker, my world is feeling a little daunting right now as I navigate new beginnings. With each step, I am embracing the journey – even the hard parts.

Somehow I am able to stay afloat – most of the time.

And then there are days when I’d like to curl up on the beach and just let the waves soothe my spirit, but I simply don’t have time for that. Instead I have some tools that help me to keep riding the waves through:

  1. writing/journaling as much as possible.
  2. listening to inspirational podcasts, Ted Talks, and now Facebook lives.
  3. chanting, drumming, breathing, meditation, and other mindful practices.
  4. taking time for creativity and movement.
  5. dealing with the hard stuff even if it makes me cry.

Always stretching, growing, and evolving.

Sending love, light, hope, and blessings. . .

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Introduction:

Today is Day 11 of My Selfie Challenge. This is my time to look at how I walk in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bind my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it is my hope that as I take each photo, I will learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it is my time to find the beauty that is me.

The only journey is the one within.”
~Ranier Maria Rilke

The journey within is one of the most profound treks we take.  The range of feelings and emotions can be intense. The confines of our mind have the ability to empower us to soar or to take a deep dive into despair or every emotion in the middle.

Without a doubt, I believe that life can be really messy with every gift and challenge that emerge. So with that in mind, I tried to allow for a quieter day today; I wanted to honor my life on my birthday.

My day was really not what I expected. I wanted to be outside hiking around and/or sitting in a cafe totally breathing in the smell, breathing deeply, and writing for hours. Instead I worked for a good part of the day, felt cold and achy from the cold rain at times, and connected with my family in Israel and a couple of other dear friends.  AND I sat in a chair and drank a hot cup of tumeric and ginger tea, I pulled some weeds outside with my dogs doing everything they could to distract me, and allowed for moments of quiet to settle my kinetic soul.

A good part of the day was taken up with reflection about what I want and need so that I am in the healthiest place I can be this year. What do I need to do to beautify this life I am living. I realized that I had to do a little more grounding work so that I could soar and better reach some of my long term goals.

Day 11BThe universe is ready for me. Am I ready to show up and give the world the best parts of me and the fullness of my spirit? I think I am. I am also willing to be challenged and to challenge as long as it is with good intention. Holy living is worth it!

Yes life is hard, but it is also exceedingly precious.  One of the most treasured realizations that I have from the last two days that I should have taken completely off is that I need to celebrate the moments. While I didn’t get to have hours in the woods, I took time to talk Torah and philosophy, to breathe in the scent of our puppy and snuggle with both of our dogs, and to take a couple of long walks too.

I didn’t write. . . .not until 10 PM tonight, but what I did was far better I just moved my body, my mind, and my soul in whatever way it needed to move at any given moment.

My birthday was perfect in nearly every way.  What a beautiful way to celebrate my life.

Sending love, light, and blessings . . . . .

PS: AND to make it even more special, I received nearly 250 birthday wishes from nearly every stage of my life. #GratitudeAbounds

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Mendocino CA-Sandra G. Wortzel

Mendocino, California Photo Courtesy of Sandra G. Wortzel

something inside of me broke this past week. the details don’t really matter, but it happened. at first the darkness felt like it would devastate me. while I knew that I was surrounded by a loving village, I still struggled . . .

the tears rolled down my cheeks daily (sometimes hourly) and my soul broke open. breathing wasn’t optional; if I was going to push through, I had to take one breath and then another. there were moments when all I had was my breath to get me from moment to moment. and you know what? it worked.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

there was another gift or many gifts that helped me move forward. it was the realization that as alone as I felt that I was being held by so many people that simply showed up. most of them had no idea how broken I was feeling, but I kept hearing nearly the same message time and again.

whenever I found myself the most fragile, an angel whispered. “I see you.” or an old friend would call and say, “I just want you to know how much I love you.” another phenomena that kept coming up was that virtual strangers and close friends kept reaching out to me for advice, for insight, for help and sometimes for loving energy.

barely a couple of hours passed without me being reminded that I touch peoples lives. this helped me (mostly) navigate out of my cocoon of sadness. it’s hard to stay trapped in a cocoon when angels keep forcing sparks of light in.

by the time, I realized that I wasn’t as invisible as I felt, I received the following ending email from Sark, one of my favorite writers:

You are seen, You are known, You are loved.

I remember opening up her email and thinking ‘how did she know that I needed to see those words?’

even as I am in the midst of writing this, my brother reached out and asked if I was ok, my childhood big brother showed up even though I haven’t connected with him in months, and I received an email from another friend who I have not been in close contact with.

all week long, old friends, new friends, strangers, other activists, and members of my community kept reaching out. I’d say almost none of those people had any idea that inside I was crumbling and feeling strangely invisible.

so. . .while things within my heart and spirit feel overwhelming and conflicted. the universe is communicating. hiding isn’t an option during this bout of internal pain. the angels are letting me know that there is work to do.

how beautiful is it that I truly feel loved and held through all that I am navigating. wow. what a gift to know that I am not alone.

I just need to remember in the words of Jai-Jagdeesh’s:

Know you are loved
Rest in peace
Dream your sweet dreams
“Til your soul is released

Beloved Child
My heart is yours
Beloved Child
Go out and open doors
With your love
With your faith
With your compassion
With your grace
Oh, with your grace

Beloved Child
You are the light of the world
Beloved Child
Go out, spread light to the world
Be strong, be kind, be brave
Know your mind
know that you’re are divine
Know that it’s alright to be afraid

if you want a treat, take a few minutes to get lost in not only Jai-Jagdeesh’s word, but the actual song too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om3e4qOxdLs

may the lights that shines in every corner of my world reach me and may I always remember that regardless of where I am to share that light with others. feeling grateful to live in a village that never lets me hide for long.

i got this and so do you!

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