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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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“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking,
what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.
What I want and what I fear.”
~ Joan Didion

Shift happens. One day you wake up and you realize that your world is changing and you have a choice for how you will navigate the journey. Will you do it with open arms or will you fight what may ultimately be the inevitable? My guess is that throughout my life, I am not alone in that I have probably done both options and variations in the middle.

While I am unsure of exactly where I am going now. . .metaphorically speaking, I am certain that my health journey will involve my body, mind, and soul in ways that are developing as I go. The intensity that is flowing through my body and soul right now is beautiful, harsh, and a little scary too.

What keeps coming up for me as I move through what I call Post Hurricane Harvey is that life is fragile and sometimes fleeting; I know that I have yet to impact the world in a way that works for me. I am not sure when I began to see my presence as insignificant, but I am so aware that I have more holy work to do. And that if I don’t operate with more intention, I will spend my life standing still or riding waves that take me nowhere. OK, let’s get real, I will never ride a wave, at least not via surf or body board. 🙂

In truth, this transitioning is rolling fast and furious since Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Houston, but it started in March when walking and functioning felt nearly impossible. My body was telling me what my mind wasn’t willing to acknowledge. I wasn’t living according to my values. I wasn’t eating right, moving enough, or nurturing my spiritual journey in healthy ways. This led to back surgery followed by 6 weeks of intense healing which is continuing to this day.

In order to thrive, I have to not only have values, but live according to them. That means breathing a little deeper, moving a little more, being intentional in how I spend my time, and listening to the quiet chatter that never stops. Funny that this is coming to me as I am (again) home – this time with a respiratory infection that hasn’t let up in three weeks, in fact it has gotten worse until today. I do believe that healing can happen with more ease when you take care of yourself better and for me that means opening my eyes and really seeing what I need to see; it also means that I need to rest/sleep more, sit quietly, and write from heart. And as soon as I can catch my breath, I need to move my body.

BreatheBreathing has become a metaphor for this journey.

Inhaling Life by writing, moving, dreaming and healing.

Exhaling Life by releasing all that doesn’t serve my essence.

All is for good!

Yesterday, I received an email that supported what has become a driving force for me. People. Touching their lives by being present and supporting them in their life’s journeys. At this moment, I seem to be able to touch people’s lives simply by giving them a mezuzah and supporting them as they navigate loss or devastation of home.  A family member of a clergy leader in Santa Rosa reached out to me and said that she wants to do something for the thirty families that lost their homes as they were incinerated to the ground by the wild fires that scorched their homes this month. Looks like I have more mezuzah scrolls to collect, for more info https://door-ldoor.blogspot.com.

My heart holds a lot of pain for the loss that is facing our world and specifically the United States at this moment. The disaster in the White House, natural disasters that are happening at break-necking speeds, and the very troubling human dynamics that are eroding our climate. This doesn’t mind that I am not also devastated by the rest of the world – I am.

My job is to remain present within my own beautiful world. I am blessed with a beautiful family and precious friends. I am healing from what ails me. I am finding my life’s purpose. And I am beginning to touch lives that extend past my own little world. And through it all, I am finding the time to honor my body, my mind, and my soul by choosing life by doing whatever I need to do to best human being I can be.

I got this!!! Will you join me? If so, how?

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Connecting is what I do. I have grown to love that about myself. And yet, I have had the door slammed in my face. . .not once, not twice, but multiple times. I have had other doors close more gradually without intense pain.

To say that I am strong doesn’t really cover it, sometimes I move forward with ease and sometimes the pain has been known to stay with me – forever (at least to-date).

When doors close or sometimes feel like there closing, I struggle to breathe deeply. The pain is so very overwhelming and my heart feels the need to race. At first the tears feel like they will never stop falling and then the metaphoric tears continue to fall. Those tears create puddles around my soul and remind me that perhaps it is time to protect myself by building a moat.

While the moat may surround me, it won’t ever protect me fully. As long as I love and connect as I do, I will remain open to loving connections and profound losses.

May I be blessed to hold and be held in a fullness that nurtures my spirit and builds bridges that fortify my soul.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chava's Shadow 17January2016Silence is an answer.
While your love is deep
Your quiet resonates more deeply.

As vulnerability courses through my being
Your silence triggers the pain that rests just below the surface.
Distance is our reality and yet it hasn’t always been that way.

Trust evaporates when it isn’t contained.
Sometimes I need to be metaphorically held.
Stroked. Nurtured. Hugged.

A kind word
A sweet note
A present message

Sharing my vulnerability isn’t easy
Yet it is part of growing connections
I am not as strong as I thought I was
and maybe I never was.

Breathing in the truth. . .
Silence speaks louder than words. . . .
I’m listening.

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HIDING
is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves
until we are ready to come into the light.

Excerpted from CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
2015 © David Whyte
Spruce Knob, WV. Mark H Schneider!- Shai's cousin

Photo Courtesy: Mark H Schneider Spruce Knob, WV

This is Blog #500. Wow.

AND yesterday I hit 40,000 views of my blog! Another wow!!!

For me, writing is as important as my heartbeat or my breathing. If I am not writing, I am probably doing my own version of dying. What a gift that I am very much living!!!

For me, writing is the way I share myself fully, it is how I share my soul.  If I have taken the time to write, know that the words spoken were written from the fullness of my being in THAT moment. Writing is how I feel most comfortable in my skin.

~ ~ ~

When most people ask how any of us are, they are looking for simple responses. “Good” or “Fine” are the best answers for small talk. A quick and easy reply is what is expected.

Years ago, I determined that small talk doesn’t serve me well. Professionally and among strangers, I do what is expected; over time though, I have found ways to remain more authentic whenever possible. I have found friends and loved ones that inspire my true self to shine and for transparency.

There is a passion that runs deep within me. While people often describe me as warm and fun-loving, those that know me well know that I am much more complex than I appear at face value.  A simple description defies the essence of who I truly am.  In fact, it may be better to describe me as an similar to an onion; there are so many layers to who I am as a person.

When I connect with a soul friend, I’d rather be silent than share small talk. There is always so much going on inside my head and my heart. Life is full of ‘many moving parts’; my mind rarely quiets down.  At any given moment, I am contemplating my inner thoughts. At any given moment, I could be thinking about what is going on in my life or the lives of those I love; I may be thinking about my students, my community, or the world.  My soul friends tend to understand that my silence does not mean disinterest; it means I can’t wait until we have time to truly share.

Reality is that there are days I feel alone.  I know that my intensity is too much for my soul friends to absorb with regularity. I realize that it is through writing that I release my thoughts and I also realize that as I grow writing is not always enough; sometimes I have a deep sense of longing to share myself not only through my writing. Again, this is the gift of personal growth. There is a time for writing, a time for conversation, and a time for silence. This is called balance.

The rawness that is part of my every breath stopped being held by the container called my body. But I have learned to shed that container by allowing my passion to flow, sometimes through my tears, sometimes through my connections with others, and mostly through my fingers/hands. It is through my writing, journaling, and doodling that I find balance and that the triteness of my soul flows out into the universe. I love that I am not bound by any one way of living and communicating.

The game ‘Hide and Seek’ has empowered me to stretch and grow, to heal and thrive.  Going inward when I need to collect my thoughts, but not needing to stay there; my voice matters. . .I don’t have to hide any longer.  I still have to choose the right time to be fully present with other, to write from my heart, or to go inwards until the right forms of expression emerge.

Thanks for reading. . . .can’t wait to see what will be in the next 10, 20, 30, 50, or 500 blogs.

 

 

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