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Posts Tagged ‘butterfly’

black butterfly

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

Maya Angelou

Ever since I can remember, I have imagined myself wrapped in a sweet cocoon of warmth and safety. Knowing that I can stay there until I am ready to spread my wings and fly. Sometimes I even imagine that I may stay there forever.

Life is full of so many moving and overwhelming parts. On a good day, our hearts and minds are in a good place with a realistic to do list that needs our attention. But the hard days are not far behind. On those days, our hearts are broken open and in need of mending while the to do list goes on for miles.

On the later days, I love the idea of spinning a cocoon around myself with the aspirations of navigating what will ultimately become a deeply reflective transformation.

Only through going inward, can I honor the deepest parts of who I am and who I want to become. While my stories have often empowered me to be the woman I am, they also need to be released in order to birth an even more vibrant me – not so different from shedding the cocoon so that I can fly and reach new heights.

In the last few years, I have been celebrating how perfectly imperfect I really am. My flaws and vulnerabilities are part of a bigger picture – maybe even a masterpiece in the making. I am a spiritual warrior whose resilience has made it possible for me to thrive as I have.

While there may be times when my brokenness leaves me navigating the darkness, more often than not, I am able to take the pain and emerge into a better spiritual space much as the caterpillar emerges a butterfly.

There is so much healing that needs to take place inside of me and around me right now, so for just a little while I will spin the cocoon and allow for the quiet to soothe my spirit. At the end of this journey, may I be ready to take flight and soar to new heights.

With love, light, healing, and blessings,
Chava

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“If you ask me what I came into this life to do,
I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”
Quote by Émile Zola

Twenty years ago, this saying became an unspoken mantra. A part of me believes that finding this quote empowered me find my voice as woman,  a mother, a friend, a teacher, and mostly as a creative soul that needed to be heard.

Before that time, silence seemed to permeate the core of my being.  And then one day, I woke up and I found a little more of my voice. I learned to write after a very long and painful hiatus. A local magazine wanted to publish the story of our son Dovi’s miraculous adoption. Somehow I found the courage to speak up and let the publisher/editor know that I was the one who needed to write this story; she loved the idea and with that I found my first and most gentle editor. Eventually that story was picked up by a couple of other magazines.

Finding my voice was a long but beautiful journey. With each step, I felt like a butterfly opening to the world with a sense of awe. I literally fluttered from flower to flower. Each flower gave me just a little more nectar to fuel the journey towards self.

And then in 2002, I took a giant leap of faith and left the cocoon of the Orthodox world that I had lived for nearly fifteen years. The journey was lonely and overwhelming. I lost close friends in that transition or should I say transformation? But I did it!!! I listened to the voice that nudged me to create a new life for myself (and eventually my family) and to find a new home for my spirit to rest. It didn’t go far; I found a home in a progressive Jewish community that nurtured my spirit and grounded me in tradition while allowing my creative energy to flourish.

As time progressed, I started to stretch in other ways too. I started thriving as an educator, a blogger, an artist, a chanter, a storyteller, a drummer, a mother, and today as an activist or maybe just a human being. The more I grow the more my spirit yearns to expand my roots as I also reach into the universe that surrounds me.

Now that I have my voice, I embrace all of life with more passion. When I am happy I sing out loud regardless of who is close by; when I feel the need to write, I stop what I am doing and I write; when a picture comes into my head I doodle it. The more doors open, the more ready I am to receive the gifts that continue to flow through me.

A raw intensity has taken over the quiet person that once lived in my body.  My soul gravitates towards life. I am alive and I crave this aliveness that emanates from all life forces.

Sun rise New Zealand May 5 Jai-Jagdeesh

Photo Courtesy of Jai-Jagdeesh via Instagram: jaijagdeesh

This New Zealand sunrise by my “social media friend” left me with tears in my eyes. I found Jai-Jagdeesh through her music, but today I have fallen love with her words, her wisdom, her photos. My hope is that one day have the opportunity to experience Kundalini Yoga with her as my teacher. (Of course, I may have to wait until I complete my healing journey from back surgery.) When I hear her, I feel a fire igniting me towards  self-care and tikun olam (repairing the world).

Meanwhile a heartfelt hug reminds me that the void of love I experienced as a child is no longer with me. When any of my nieces or nephews say “I love you” even though I haven’t seen the since they were little. . .I melt inside, but feel immense gratitude that my beloved brother and sister-in-law have kept me alive in their eyes.

Nothing in my world is taken for granted.

The more authentic and grounded I become, the I am able to “live out loud” and to love.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

Today, I openly love with ever fiber of my being.  I often wonder if I take in the world on a cellular level. When I allow myself to breathe deeply, I find myself connecting with all that I see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. All of my senses are more alive than I could have once imagined.

While love may sometimes change, I love deeply; I love forever. . . My intensity overflows each and every time I see those I adore.

And I have learned to always speak from the deepest part of my soul just in case a door closes suddenly. ….because doors do close suddenly and without warning.

May I be blessed to always “live out loud” with an authenticity that rooted in grace.

Namaste (May the spirit in me honor the spirit in you),
Chava

Note: This entire blog was inspired by:

Love Openly. . .you never know

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This Photo of Philadelphia Tunnels/Doorways is given by courtesy of my beloved friend and fellow writer Wicca Davidson. I love how she captured this view. Wow.

This Photo of Philadelphia Tunnels/Doorways is given by courtesy of my beloved friend and fellow writer Wicca Davidson. I love how she captured this view. Wow.

Life is beautiful; life is also hard and messy.

Sometimes we look at people and we forget that inside their soul lies many layers of complicated thoughts and feelings, life experiences with sparks of pain and light, some on the surface and so many more on the layers that lie beneath what you see.  None of us know what is happening or has happened beyond the scope of what we see.

This Shabbat, we read the story of creation from this week’s parsha, weekly Torah reading. If you have ever followed this story, you know that all of creation started with darkness.  What a profound metaphor, only after we face the darkness can life or light emerge.

At the moment, I am considering this metaphor in a myriad of ways.  Besides the creation story, life often evolves from dark. The list is endless. All of us started in the womb, caterpillars spin a silky cocoon before they can emerge as a butterfly, seeds take root in the soil before they sprout, and life’s messiness sometimes leads to beautiful gifts (and sometimes not). What all of these things have in common is that so much is happening below the surface.

Yesterday nurtured my intense spirit as profoundly as I have seen in recent times.  And throughout each and every step of the day, I kept finding myself reflecting.

Things are not always what they seem.

As I sat at the memorial service for a 28 year old man who walked into interstate traffic without making it past all lanes of traffic, I realized that there was so much more to this story than I could have known by watching the news or even understood before knowing the fuller story. While some of you will judge this story based on your own experiences, you should know that appearances may be different than reality. And in this case, there is no doubt that what the average person would ‘see’ is far from what was.  May this man’s family and loved ones find solace in his memory being for a blessing. After hearing his siblings and his father speak, I have no doubt that that is exactly what will be.

And then I came home to find the eulogy of a 15 year old who committed suicide. As I read my friend’s eulogy, my heart broke open wide. So often we see what’s in front of us, but if our eyes are not open wide, we miss the entire story.

Every person has a role in the world we live. As a mother, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a human being, I know this. As someone who was a daughter, a wife, and a friend to many that I have lost, I know this even more. It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a universe to make sure the child makes it to adulthood or at least it feels that way. And through our lives, it takes compassion and grace to support those we love and to receive what is offered too.

Things are not always what they seem.

When I look at a long and winding road. I treasure the beauty and notice the flowers, the bridges, the terrain, the wildlife.  I may even notice the tractors, the cars, or the people I pass.  But what I don’t know is what colored that beauty. Did someone die on that road? Did a flood or fire once leave the land barren? Did someone’s heart break when their beloved partner of 20 years told them that their relationship was over. All I know is what I see, that’s it.

In the last several years, I have been fascinated with Facebook. Some people believe that they know who I am based on my posts. Perhaps they are correct, perhaps not. My guess is that those who only use my facebook status lines to know how I am are only getting part of the story. I am far too intense to share my heart and soul so deeply. And in all honesty, I am quite private too.

Things are not always what they seem.

Yesterday, I learned what it means to look a little deeper. Since all creation can be messy, I know that I have to get down and messy with it. I have to plant the seeds, by playing in the dirt; paint a picture, by painting lots of mistakes before my skills emerge or a masterpiece is created; by kneading the dough before it makes yummy bread; and by writing poorly before I can write coherently at worst and meaningful at best.

Each and every day that I am alive reinforces what I already know. ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’.  As hard as it is, take the time to dig deeper and forge beautiful connections. Find out what is happening deep inside, so that you can really understand what you see on the outside.

May light follow as it did in creation. May humankind find peace in our lifetime.

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Everything we say and don’t say matters; everything we do and don’t do matters.

Words and Silence – Action and inaction. . . .

Over the past many weeks, I have been more selective with what I say and what I do. Allowing myself to room for silence of voice and action has sometimes grounded me and has sometimes left me profoundly uncomfortable.

Too much is going on in the world. Every day, we are bombarded with information on the Iran Deal, US politics, climate change, the illness of loved ones, poverty, racism, human trafficking, refugees, immigration, gun control (or lack of control). The world feels really dark and painfully out of control. Opinions, prejudices, and biases emerge as if they are fact. And the facts are skewed by whoever is sharing them.

While each of us may see or hear about the same event, we tend to interpret what is happening based on our life experiences and views. I am no different. And I am realizing that so many people lack the power to discern what is happening in the world because they are being influenced by whatever sunglasses they are wearing instead of by interpreting the facts with the openness to really embrace the facts.

With so many human travesties and a feeling of hopelessness, I find that I am doing less than I should. I am not visiting the sick, helping teens navigate the world; I am not taking the time to care for others or the environment as much as I should.  Instead I am feeling stuck; I am unable to process the world as I once did.

Add the above to life’s normal challenges and some not so normal challenges, I have been feeling paralyzed and unable to make a difference in the world.

With all of this in mind, over the recent period of time, I have found myself going a little more inward and looking for quiet ways to care for myself more. This week alone, I have slept more, read a little more, taken some amazing yoga classes and listened to some amazing podcasts. I have allowed myself some time to invest in close friends and my sons. This time has brought core exhaustion to my core, but it has also brought about some intense realizations.

When I allow my momentary sense of hopelessness to surface, I live in fear that the world can never recover from the human conditioning that exists today. And then. . . just as I settled in myself sparks began to emerge, so many beautiful moments. There are people that are really trying to address the horrific issues of our century. A couple of days ago, I received an email with the following link http://www.globalgoals.org/prayer-for-everyone/.  Open it up and allow yourself to dream, to believe, and then to join those that have created Global Goals, those that have yet to give up on the human atrocities. There is work to do; we can make a difference.  At the same time, that I woke up to find the above link in my mailbox, a couple of new friends and old friends alike have found ways to let me know that my voice matters.

A day doesn’t pass without me looking deeply into the world.  With that responsibility comes the opportunity to listen and to share; we can learn from one another.  Listening and sharing leads to action and sometimes inaction. There are things we must do and sometimes we simply can’t do it all.

As I move towards 5776, I am aware that my voice matters so I need to find my voice even as I listen to all of the voices that surround me. In the coming year, may I leave the very tight cocoon I have woven for myself and be the butterfly that brightens the world around me. May I truly make a difference by impacting the world and doing things that make improve the lives of not only my family, my community, but the larger world too.

Can I be a butterfly that makes the world a little more beautiful? Courtesy of Karen Judin

Can I be a butterfly that makes the world a little more beautiful?
Courtesy of Karen Judin

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If you do not change direction,
you may end up where you are heading.

~Lao Tzu

While I tend to always land on my feet regardless of what is happening in my world. In the last several years I have discovered something very surprising about my personality.  I love continuity! Knowing I have close friends nearby; trusting the love of an old friend; hosting Shabbat meals, holiday celebrations, and gatherings of all sorts with people that love me and know me for who I am.

With that in mind, I am struggling with limbo. I am getting ready to work in an awesome community where I will make new friends and new memories. I’ve never had trouble connecting with people.  For that I am grateful. And yet, in this very moment, I am mourning the loss of connections and the beauty of old friendships. The blessing is that most of the friendships are still with me, just not close enough to touch.

My ‘wandering Jew’ days are not what they once were.

As I sit in my new home in Houston, I realize how empty I am feeling in this moment. I have no real doubt that I will find myfooting and that new friends will bring life into my home or that I will connect with people that one day will love my quirkiness, my sense of humor, and my rhythm, but in this moment I realize that that time is just out of my reach.

I want to be a friend as intensely as I want to be held in friendship. I simply love life and the beautiful connections that emerge.  I also know that without a doubt that my time in Houston will include actively engaging in my passions as both a Jewish Educator and an activist. I will make a difference for good and impact those that I interact with.  It just takes time. . .I have to trust that reality.

For this moment, I am grieving the many losses I have felt and acknowledging the vulnerability that comes with loneliness. I am in a state I never thought I would live in and I have no one to call, no one to reach out to, no one that would come to sit with me if I needed them. OK-this is a good moment to laugh at myself.  Of course I have people, just not any of my besties.

I will never forget the friends that surrounded me a few years ago when I needed to have surgery. At one point, after being taken to my hospital room, I was miserable and physically alone. At that point, my dear friend came into my room and sat with me when I couldn’t stop puking. At one point, I looked up to her beautiful eyes and asked her how she could sit there and wipe me up in all of my disgust.  She just smiled and said she’s a mother. . . .her love simply flowed.  And then there was another friend who took a few days of work to be with me regardless of my mood. I was such a horrid patient, but that friend is still one of my closest friends and the person I can call when darkness looms.

In every city, I have ever lived, I have found beloved friends that fuel my soul and appreciate the person I am. I just have to trust the universe that coming to Houston will be no different.

After last week’s doldrums, I will forever treasure the words that flowed from Stephanie Fink, one of my closest Tucson friends,

“You are tired in many ways as your inner butterfly prepares to emerge from this cocoon.
You will fly free and dance among sunlit blossoms that have been
awaiting the touch of your vibrant wings.”

After only two years of friendship, my friend knows me and loves my spirit! With that I know that I wings are ready to take flight and all will be good. My experiences in Houston will be awesome!

Remember . . . Let It Go Courtesy of Karen Judin

Courtesy of Karen Judin

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“We are all here for some special reason.
Stop being a prisoner of your past.
Become the architect of your future.”
R
obin Sharma, Author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Each year during the Jewish month of Elul (usually in August) through Rosh HaShana, we take the time to do a cheshbon hanefesh, an inventory of our soul.  For me that means taking the time to reflect deeply about the gifts and challenges of the last year, but this is also simply a kinetic time of year. As a Jewish professional, I am working to prepare the community for new beginnings which include the High Holy Days, school, and new programming.  As a mother, I am helping my now mostly grown sons begin their next chapters.  And in the midst of all this, I am usually feeling the need to write and look inward.

The holidays themselves are not easy for me because it is challenging to stay in a spiritual space when you are in charge of so many logistics. Yet the moment Tashlich occurs, I realize that I need to take time to go onward and allow for reflection.  Tashlich is a ritual which usually takes place on first day of Rosh Hashanah in the late afternoon.  During this time the participants symbolically cast off their sins by gathering along the banks of a river, stream, or the like and reciting prayers of repentance.  While many people choose to do this ritual in community, I love to do it alone.

And this year, I have decided to create Tashlich moments again and again.  This is a year of letting go, of saying good-bye to what was and embracing the beauty that is. In the last several months, I have been blessed to rethink my career path, my relationships, and much of my life.  None of this is easy, but it has been made easier because of my private journaling, my very public blogging, and some very beautiful friends.  I haven’t been alone and yet I have needed to spend a lot of time alone as a way of giving myself the room to gaze deeply into my soul.

On a good day, the journaling strikes chord after chord, but this doesn’t happen all the time or even most of the time.  More often than not, I am left with a rhythm that isn’t quite working for me.  I am a work in progress. At times the work has been bitter sweet; sometimes it is actually heart wrenching; and once the puzzle pieces come together, it can be beautiful.  Soul-searching is an art form and I am learning with each breath I take.

Writing  is the most profound tool that helps me find center, but that isn’t my only means to finding balance.  My world is full of chanting, drumming and physically moving (sometimes dance and sometimes hiking).  In the midst of all the soul work, my sons keep me grounded and remind me that while I have a lot of work to do, I am actually doing well!  My world is in fact quite amazing; I have all that I need and much of what I want.

As fortunate as I am, there is still work to be done. One way of moving forward is to create Tashlich moments by letting go of all that is holding me back.  Last night, it meant that it was time to get rid of a ton of clutter; I deleted thousands of emails from personal and professional relationships that no longer served me well.  In most cases, it was simply about not needing those particular emails; in other cases it was time to say good-bye to old connections. The delete button became a co-conspirator in propelling to close some doors as a way to open new doors. The goal is to make room for my next chapters and to celebrate what is.

As I woke up this morning, I was acutely aware that there was a shift within me.  The rays of sunlight were slowly warming me up and nudging me toward the many gifts that are very much a part of my life today. I am feeling (perhaps) like a butterfly as it begins to take flight.  Last night, I said good-bye to the cocoon that was binding in a myriad of ways.  With each passing moment, the bindings release and my wings are spreading; there is no turning back for me.

Support for my Tashlich moment when I opened up Facebook this morning to find the photo of  the Topsail Island beach where a group of my close friends are gathering this week.  While I am not with them physically, the photo reminded me that I am not alone.  Once I saw that photo, I realized that outside my front door is the space to create my own Tashlich moment.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Topsail, NC Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

Topsail, North Carolina – Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

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The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
~Rabindranath Tagore 

Intensity permeates my being at nearly every moment.  It is what is – my essence.

Recently, I made a decision.  I needed to choose a state of being that would allow me to walk a little more gently with myself.  With the help of my coach, I developed a new way of thinking and a respect for one of the most beautiful creatures on this earth.

Phot courtesy of Jack Kanis

Photo courtesy of Jack Kanis

Butterflies.

Butterflies are absolutely breathtaking; they touch what they need and then flutter to the next place, never seeming to stay in one place for very long.

As part of my mission to simplify life and how each moment affects me, I imagine my energy being similar to that of what I think a butterfly might be.  Instead of allowing my intensity or anxiety for life’s realities to wrap me in a cocoon, I am breaking out and doing what I need to do with a purpose.  There are tasks/actions that need to be accomplished, so I do them and move onto the next thing.

With the butterfly as a guiding metaphor, it is helping me function better with daily life tasks like dishes and laundry.  At work, I am being more successful at completing the administrative tasks that often hang over my head.  And as I simplify, the butterfly image is allowing me to clear away space by space, instead of becoming overwhelmed by the entire picture of what ultimately needs to be done.

By utilizing the butterfly as a state of being, I am finding that many personal interactions are also evolving.  My relationships are improving or perhaps I am choosing to navigate them differently than I ever have; they feel healthier.  As I spend less time needing to explain myself or make things right, I am letting go and moving forward much quicker than I have ever done before.  If it isn’t about me, I am not owning it.  At the same time, if it is about me, I am dealing with things much more directly and then letting go.  I am learning to accept the dynamics that each human interaction brings – some are good; some are more of a struggle.

Seeing the butterfly as a state of being that I can capture is transformative.  Slowly I am learning to find the nectar that exists in each and every moment without needing to capture it in a permanent way.  While instant gratification would be amazing, the butterfly takes time to work itself outside of her cocoon.

Courtesy of Karen Judin

Photo courtesy of Karen Judin

 

 

 

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