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Posts Tagged ‘care-giving’

“From a certain point onward
there
is no longer any turning back.
That is the point that must be reached.”
Franz Kafka

This has been the year of trials and tribulations.  In so many ways 5775 has been a nightmare and in many more ways it has been the year that I will always remember for the many and very real blessings.

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley
Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise always came, despite the floods that seemed to leave me profoundly dark and sometimes fearing for how I would navigate life.

This was the year that I said to good-bye to so many chapters of my life. My marriage formally ended, I nearly lost my profession, and hope was nothing more than a dream. Loneliness became my friend, becoming destitute was nearly a reality, and I was forced to say good-bye to some of the most beloved souls within my life.

5775 was a nightmare, it was a dark tunnel.  AND within the dark tunnel, I found some of the most amazing sparks of light.

Financial Challenges

My position as a Jewish educator ended abruptly, leaving me void of income and the finances to move forward. Yet doors opened up and my family never starved.

Whenever I feared that I would be destitute, jobs came out of nowhere.  Jobs emerged because my friends found positions for me. When my career went half-time and then ended, care-giving allowed me to care for people that were sometimes at the end of their lives, but always challenged by life circumstances. Physical pain was part of their every move; emotional challenges were inevitable. My kindness, my gentleness, and my strength allowed some beautiful souls to live with as much dignity as possible; I made a difference.

And when care-giving couldn’t sustain me any longer, so many friends afforded me the possibility to survive and ultimately thrive. While I feared survival, I never really had to a reason to worry. Everything I needed to survive was available to my family. A friend gave me a home to live in for six months, beloved friends and family gave us what we needed to move and survive until I could start working, at every turn positions allowed our family to have exactly what we needed.  And just as I was getting ready to sustain myself on hourly wages, and another friend nudged me to apply for the position that lead me to be exactly where I am supposed to be at this time. As tears run down my face, I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be in Houston with an amazing community including co-workers that fill my life with joy.

I love forever. 

And this year couldn’t protect me from the pain of loss. I did have to say good-bye or let go of what could no longer be part of my life.

After years of separation, my marriage formally ended. For now, I can share that when I married nearly 26 years ago, I didn’t believe that my marriage could end in any way other than death. It did end and while I have had years to get used to what that ending meant, it is still profoundly sad.

When I was forced to say good-bye to our beloved Shachar, my sweet puppy. I was comforted by the belief that my family gave her enormous love in the year that we had her. Her abused spirit ended too early, but for one year she was treated with the love that was part of our every interaction, even the ending of her life. And as I was struggling for our family’s loss and some very physical pain, Jennifer and David showed up. They didn’t hesitate to come to Aryeh and I who were buckets of tears and pain. They just held us metaphorically and helped us move forward.

Finally, I had to let go of my best friend, a person who I thought would be in my life forever. For reasons that are somewhat beyond my grasp. . .there are no tomorrows. Sometimes all you can say is good-bye. I only wish I had the grace to say good-bye without sharing the deep loss that was a part of me; my heart quite literally shattered as my entire being yearned to understand.  This was the year I was forced to simply let go; I was given no choice.

With each and every step, I was never alone; I was surrounded by love. My friends always showed up in some very profound ways.

This has also been the year when I faced my inability to be present for those I love. I can send love letters, I can pray and send healing energy.  But I have so many friends who are facing very real physical pain.  Their pain is deep and all I want to do is wrap my arms around them and I can’t and I may never again.  The reality that sometimes there are no tomorrows cuts like a knife. While my life has been full in all the right ways, today I don’t have the means to be more present.  And there are people that I love as deeply as I love my family, they are my family of choice. Realizing that I can not be there breaks my heart.

As I get older, I have learned that life ends, accidents happen, physical pain hurts. . .with and without warning.  When my dear friend Helen died a few years ago, I was crushed that I couldn’t be there for her family, but I couldn’t.  At the same time, I have learned the most valuable lesson possible. I have learned to love completely and to treasure what is.  Even when you lose a beloved friend or lover, what you had lives on.  That love is what made you what you are.

The World
And the world, can we talk about Israel, Black Lives Matter, Our Nation, Refugees, Climate Change. . . .the list goes on and on; my mind never shuts off.  The world is struggling and I am struggling with her. Beauty comes as I stand with so many other individuals that care. I am not alone. Regardless of what language we give to each of the issues, I am surrounded by passionate people who care and want to make a difference for good.

While I can never do enough; I am doing what I can and that has to be enough for this moment.

Finally
Moving forward means acknowledging the pain, but willingly deciding that life is worthy of swimming upstream.  Thriving is not optional. The world is precious and full of so many beautiful souls. While tomorrow is not a given, this moment is here. So to quote my ‘virtual’ friend Jeff Keni Pulver, “Live, Life, Now!”

Every morning the sun rises. Life may sometimes have painful moments, but I know that I am always surrounded by light.

5776 – Hineini, Here I am!

Onward with love,
Chava

PS – To each and every one of my friends that have been there for me – thank you! I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

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Life has been hard. Very hard. And yet. . . .

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin Did you notice the butterfly? :)

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin
Did you notice the butterfly? ūüôā

I am blessed that there are so few moments when darkness doesn’t allow me to see clearly.

Today I feel warmth from the amazing sparks that could easily burst into a flame.  There are so many gifts that surround me at any given moment.  And yes, there is also deep pain that is part of my life and part of the lives of so many people that I love.  But for now, I want to focus on the gifts.

My sons:

  • Today Aryeh and Dovi¬†went biking together for the first time in forever!!!! Now that may seem silly because they are 21 and 17 years old; yet for so many reasons, it really is quite amazing.
  • AND Dovi has asked for shorts so that he can be more comfortable biking; he hasn’t worn shorts in nearly 10 years. ¬†Now this is a shehecheyanu moment (a blessing that is recited when you do something for the first time in a long time or ever).
  • Dovi decided to excel in math and that is exactly what he is doing!
  • This week, we have had some incredibly sweet moments as a family.
  • Aryeh continues to amaze me in the way he takes care of everyone in the family; he is truly growing into a man! Wow.

Friends:

  • I love how my friends reach out and are totally present for me. ¬†As I type, one group of friends is trying to find ways to help me thrive emotionally; they are working towards creating options for me to make it through a challenging period of time.
  • A few different friends have found ways for me to support myself after losing my livelihood. Yay!
  • One friend just embroidered a bath-sheet with my name on it!!!! She even used my favorite colors. ¬†I can’t wait to see it and use it! ¬†(If you are curious, I love sage and lavender. . . but in truth all shades of purple are awesome.)
  • A couple of friends have given me great gifts when I wasn’t sure how I would move forward.
  • I am held by some profoundly loving souls.

Taking care of me:

  • I found a care-giving position that is giving me more normal hours so that I don’t have to work all-nighters.
  • I am on Day 8 of not drinking any sodas!!!!!
  • I am getting more hours of sleep than I had been getting previously; this week I have gone to sleep by 10 PM nearly every night.
  • I am taking time to write.
  • My blog reached 30,000 viewers today. ¬†Sometimes I even hear that my writing is inspiring those that take time to read my writings. YAY! ¬†I so love sharing my inner thoughts through writing.
  • I spoke with one of my closest friends this week after a too long hiatus.

Insights for the week

  • Omm backwards is Moo. (Thanks Dietz Family)
  • My intuition keeps getting stronger and stronger; I love that I am learning to actively listen and respond to my gut.
  • Finding answers to questions is not always so simple. . . .Never ask your friends what is better a Vitamix vs.¬†Blendtec OR Nutri-Bullet vs. Ninja. ūüôā Can you tell my blender is dying and I am into making green smoothies?
  • Everyone has a different perspective about the practices of the High Holy Days. ¬†I am thinking next year I may create my own practice and share with those that are interested.
  • Words have meaning and attitude; just when you think something makes sense, you learn it doesn’t.

I love that I can always find light even when I am walking down a dark alley.  Hoping the same for you too!

With love, light, & blessings
Chava

 

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Living life actively is what I do, but at the same time I have always tended to play it safe within certain parameters.  At least I did until my job situation changed and I had no choice; I had to face my deepest fears.

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.  ~Jim Morrison

On December 16 of this past year, I was called into my executive director’s office at work. ¬†My job had been cut to half-time. The congregation I was working with lost members and our school lost students. ¬†Initially, I was stunned, never had I heard of a Jewish Educator going to half-time mid-year.

Instead of licking my wounds, I started really thinking about what I wanted with my life. Did I want to remain in Jewish Education? Did I want to stay in Tucson or move closer to the water? Could I find a way to focus on ways to grow while also sustaining myself financially.  There was and still is so much to consider.  The questions I was asking myself were endless.

What I had initially decided is that I wasn’t ready to push myself hard to find the ‘right’ position, I needed some time to breathe deeply and consider what I really wanted to do. ¬†And the good news is that while I now had no health insurance, I did have a half-time salary. ¬†Even with¬†everything being strained financially, I was willing to take the time to seek the best working environment for me by deciding what I needed to best thrive in a new work environment.

As the days of my new work situation turned into weeks, and then months, I have been allowing¬†myself the quiet time to figure out what would be next. ¬†I interviewed for new positions and learned how to live with less; I grew angry for what I was enduring and I let the anger go. ¬†I allowed myself to take this journey with few preconceived notions. ¬†I wasn’t sure how I would emerge from where I was; I am still not sure how I will emerge, but I will.

There was and still is a thrill in learning how to live with less and accepting help.  From the beginning, I thought about my needs and wants, my space and how I craved simplicity.  And then my son Aryeh found a job and helped financially.  And then a friend gave me a job as a care-giver for the agency she worked; this allowed me to supplement my income.  When my car broke down, a friend lend me part of the money to fix it and when I was short the rent money one month, it showed up as a gift.  I am still reflecting and learning how to deal with where I am today.

Torrey Pines State Reserve Photo courtesy of David Davidson

Photo courtesy of David Davidson: Torrey Pines State Reserve

The Journey continues. . . .

And then in April or May I learned that the congregation that moved me from Washington, DC to Tucson two years ago could no longer afford me.  Effective June 1st, I was no longer employed as a Jewish Educator.  I had no guaranteed income and I had lost my community.

While I was aware that I could lose my position, I was also hopeful that I could continue working part time as the Youth Education Director. ¬†Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, the congregation said that they couldn’t afford my salary. ¬†The new reality made it time¬†to figure out the next chapter and quick (or maybe not so quick).

Moving forward is not optional.  Choosing to find light in the dark moments propels me to soar.  Allowing myself time to ask some important questions as I make this new reality work is scary, but feels wise too. With each day, I choose to celebrate the blessings that always surround me. My friends, far and near, have never wavered in their support; the desert mountains and the magnificent skies nurture my spirit even though I miss the ocean.

And in this moment, I am blessed to be working as a care-giver with some amazing people and earlier this week a friend gave me a short-term  freelance job within Jewish education. I seem to be staying afloat for the most part.

Reality 

From the moment I was given my walking papers from the temple, I was forced to look at my deepest fears directly.  As a result, I have always been terrified of not having the money I need to sustain my family with even their most basic needs.  Growing up without healthy food or the clothing appropriate for a girl in the suburbs was hard.   And for the first time in my adult life, I know that I there are times when I may not afford  rent, utilities, or basic necessities.  If something goes wrong, I will not have what I need to make things work.  And yet, I am blessed with friends and a belief that all will ultimately be good.

As a young teenager, my family ¬†didn’t have enough food and the fear of foreclosure was constantly¬†looming. Potential homelessness was a possibility then and now it is again. ¬†And while it¬†would be easier if I lived on the east coast because we do have friends there that would shelter us, my guess is that I have friends in Tucson too. ¬†The beauty of where I am today is that I am beginning to heal from the experiences of my youth; I also realize that I have more tools now. ¬†I understand what it means to thrift shop, borrow, and cook from scratch. ¬†As a child, I really didn’t have the tools to help myself. ¬†And today, I have something I never had before, I have friends and loved ones that are there for me and I am able to find the gifts within the challenges.

I am no stranger to financial struggles, as a Jewish professional (not clergy), I have always just made it financially. And when my children suffered health crises, we sometimes didn’t know how we would afford even their most basic needs. Yet, in the end, all of our needs and many of our wants have¬†always been met often with the help of friends. ¬†For me, darkness always turns into light.

What’s next?

I want to live consciously in all areas of my life.  Being authentic matters whether it is with people, my environment, or the larger world.  My words and my actions should support my beliefs and my spirit.

My foundation is what it is because of the role Judaism has had in my life.  The teachings have given me the wisdom to grow and the room to wrestle. Doors have opened to me because of my many interactions with the social actions of my previous communities.  When one door opens, I often find many other doors ajar.  Some I will go through; some I will not. I am who I am because I listened to the values of my faith and used it as a springboard to move me through life and learning from others.

So now, I have to figure out how to have a career that either nurtures who I am and/or allows me the time to make a positive impact within the world I live. ¬†My hope is that I can do both. I love people and working with people; I also love the idea of working behind the scenes to get things done. ¬†Even though, I have only really worked within the Jewish community, it doesn’t mean that I have to stay there. I have learned so many skills that can take me wherever I go. ¬†I really am looking forward to the next chapter and hoping that it allows me the room to be creative either on or off the job.

My purchases should be mindful of the people and the physical planet I live; my interactions with family, friends, and others should always be sweet and caring.  Living in the world means I have a responsibility for walking gently and lovingly with each step and with each word.  Everything I do matters.

Today, I am considering ways to ignite my non-profit organization, find or create a meaningful work environment, taking time to write, and living into the answers of my many questions.  Today I am fully embracing life.

Each step in this 8 month journey has been scary. Yet it is also exciting to explore what is now meaningful to me and how I will afford my needs for now and into the future. ¬†I don’t have all the answers, but I know that I am trusting the universe and¬†doing what I need to do to move forward.

May today and every day lead us beyond our fears and towards freedom.

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