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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.)

Once I figure out my thoughts around those I love and what I believe, I tend to hold them deep within my spirit for what feels like eternity. The only challenge is that relationships change and so do the issues. Over time everything evolves and people or things that once seemed unimportant become more prominent in our lives. And what once seemed unimaginable becomes the image that invades your thoughts. Politics has continuously reinforced that last thought.

Transformation happens.

“To transform the world,
we must begin with ourselves.

~J. Krishnamurti

As an activist, as a woman, as a friend, and as a mother, I have had to learn to release my desire to hold fast to my ideas. Time and again, I have become enlightened by new information. Feelings change, circumstances change, and it’s my job to ride the waves and do the work of transformation.

As hard as it is for me, I have watched myself change so much over the years. While I have always been Jewish, the denominations I have connected to have varied from time to time; today I am much more grounded in a more ecstatic Judaism. Once I was married, now I am not. My sons have taught me since birth to honor where they are and  we all know that children are always changing; today my sons are on their own journeys as adults. And I have lost lovers and friends, but I have also gained some precious new ones.

The political environment in the US and in Israel have given me many moments of pause. While I was once silent and completely uninformed, now I am far from it. Most of my life I didn’t consider labor practices or the realities of climate change, now I can’t get them out of my mind. I never thought that I would feel compelled to become an ally for LGBTQ or a witness to such blatant racism within our society. And the devastating conditions that refugees are forced to endure at the hands of our government is appalling.

Day 14 - OnwardToday, I have to keep showing up to whatever is in front of me. Moving forward is not an option. If someone needs me or an issue is calling to my attention, I have to find out what I can do to make this world a better place.

My job is to live life fully and out loud. It is to remain empowered “to do the next right thing” (Glennon Doyle) even as I live in the “marvelous messy middle” (SARK). Yes life is not as easy as I’d like, but I am so blessed to be always be moving forward.

How about you? How are you moving forward in your life?

Onward with love, light, & creativity,
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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If you do not breathe through writing,
if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing,
then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.
~A
nais Nin

I am a writer. In the core of my being, I am most comfortable expressing myself through the written word.

Recently, I have been astounded by people questioning the transparency of my writing.  Is there any other way? I think not.

My teacher (who has no idea who I am) is Anne Lamott; she has taught me to write with complete integrity, to share fully, and to not be ashamed of my thoughts and feelings.  One of my favorite teachings that can be found in her book, Bird by Bird, and also in her CD titled, Word by Word, is that I have a right to share my story.  If people didn’t want me to talk bad about them, they should have never done the things they did.  So while, I generally refrain from giving a ton of the darker details of my life, I do have Anne’s voice as my guide.  And her voice resonates-always. Each of her books (and now Facebook status lines) is an example of someone who speaks what she feels from her kishkes (guts). Lamott shares the good, the challenging, the ugly; Anne is a beautiful work in progress. I aspire to have her voice as my guide whenever I am sharing my voice, my thoughts, my writing.

Each and every one of my  written (and spoken) words come from my heart and are part of my essence.  If I write them to you personally, imagine that I am giving you the gift of my heart and soul. Imagine that you are worthy of my truest love.

And for the reader that reads my blog. . . I am sharing with you my purest being. In the moment that I am sharing my thoughts, know that they are coming from the deepest part of me.

Writing,
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul;
Is what makes me One

I am a writer. My words matter and have the power to impact.  My hope is to touch people in ways that make a difference in their lives; simultaneously I feel a positive energy with each and every letter and space that is part of my writing.  The rhythm of my soul is out there for anyone to treasure or to toss out.  Why would I want it any other way?

When I write, I am giving you, the reader, a part of my me.  With each word, I am weaving a personal idea, a thought, a dream; I am sharing the deepest part of the person that I have become.  And yet, what I write one moment, may evolve in another moment; I never stop thinking or growing.

With each breath, I have experienced the fullness that life has had to offer – sometimes with beauty, sometimes with pain, always finding sparks of light.  I am the person I am because of the life I have lived.  Life has blessed me with the ability to look inwards and to evolve as the trek emerges.  With each step, I write as a way to process all that was, is and will be. Capturing the many moving parts of my heart, my soul, and my mind is what I do.  Through writing, I allow the words to flow onto the page and to cleanse my being.  And sometimes, if luck will have it, my words can do something magical for someone else too.

My transparency is a gift.  I welcome you to experience a world that is mine.  Is it rational? Not always.  Is it precious? To me.  Are the moments when my emotions are intense? Of course.

May my words continue to be real –  now and always.
May my words help me stay balanced in a world that often feels off balance.
May my words inspire people in small and large ways.

May I always have the character to ‘say what I need to say’.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Morning Pages Binder

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Three Deaths in Two Weeks

The gift is often the challenge.

Professionally, I have always worked within community.  For the most part, I have been blessed to work in the synagogue world.  Within that role, I have had the opportunity to connect deeply with many people from staff to congregants and their families too.  My students, their parents, my teachers, and their families have always become a part of my life.  And now is no different; I work the aged, most if not all are in the last years of their life.  My guess is that regardless of where I work or where I choose to be, I will always build relationships with those that surround me.

People are born; people die.  And in the middle of it all, people live.   They have experiences that fill their lives – including gifts and challenges.

Life is full of cycles

Life is full of cycles.

Over the last two weeks, I have been touched by the strength and integrity of the living and the pain and/or resolve of death.  And in the middle of it all, I have been touched by those that have lived and those that have died.

Three Deaths in Two Weeks

Loving people is what I do; no one is a stranger for long.  All are welcomed into my life including my home.  And within each connection, I try to give fully and be as present as I can be.  Sometimes people are part of my life for moments, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days, and sometimes much longer.  And for that moment that I am blessed to be in a relationship, whether a close friend or for a momentary exchange of words, I treasure the moments however large or small.

Within my work, I build relationships.  And within each relationship, I care deeply.  Whether I connect with people daily, once a week, or only on the holidays, they impact my life and I pray that I impact their lives for good.  Often I do, sometimes I don’t.    The bottom-line is that I hope and pray that most of my connections are full of light and positive energy.  When people go through hard times, I struggle with them – it is simply what I do.  And when they live fully, I celebrate with them – that is also what I do.

Three Deaths in Two Weeks

So far in two weeks, I have gone to one funeral, one shiva minyan (memorial service), and another funeral on Sunday.  I also needed to help transition a client, who is now a friend, to a 24-hour care facility.  She is having a rough transition; her husband is profoundly sad too.  Life keeps moving forward.

Today, I saw a baby in a sling and a toddler eating dinner with his parents and puppy.  I also had a few hours talking and hanging out with my 17 year old son.  Life keeps moving forward.

Life-cycles happen.  I am learning to say good-bye with more regularity than I wish, I am also learning to take note of the life that surrounds me.  The baby, the toddler, the aging, and everyone in between.  I am also noticing the birds and the saguaro cacti; I am watching pomegranates thrive on a tree and flowers open and close on the cacti.  And each evening I look up at the sky and I take note of the moon and her cycle.  I am also waiting and hoping the sky opens up and the rain comes storming into my beautiful desert.

Life. Death. Everything in between.

May I treasure what is and continue to build relationships with the living.  And when people die, may I remember them and honor them by continuing to build connections with the living.

Three Deaths in Two Weeks

People matter and each of these three souls impacted my life for good.

l’Shalom – May their souls go towards peace.

 

 

 

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From beginning to end, yesterday was challenging and full of gifts too.  Sigh and yay!!!

The only thing that got me through was drumming and chanting niguunim (melodies).  As my heart was hyperventilating, I took time to release the energy through drumming and chanting.  With each beat of the drum, I released the tension in my soul; with each deep breath followed by my chanting, I felt my sadness leave me.

6730685121_996af44d65

The drum of my dreams. . . .

What affected me the most deeply was the deep sadness that surrounded me at nearly every turn.  So many folks were struggling with real darkness and others were just creating challenges through their actions.  For those that were struggling with their own darkness or perhaps their own demons, I found myself wishing I could share with them this beautiful rendition of Katy Perry’s Roar by Olivia Wise who is currently suffering from brain cancer.  http:/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_An8xNwupo

Olivia’s rendition of Perry’s Roar brought tears to my eyes and deep pain to my heart.  Imagining what Olivia and her family are facing hurts; I can relate and yet I can’t.  After years of the deep pain that accompanied Aryeh’s illness and to the pain that has at times accompanied my life, I couldn’t stop crying.  Life is such a gift and some people can’t find the gifts that are in front them.  Olivia made this video so that those who love her will always hear her ‘Roar”.  How beautiful is that?!?!?!

As I write, Olivia is more unconscious than conscious; her wakeful moments are few and far between.  What her family is telling the world is that Liv woke each day seeking light and finding light too.  While none of us can do that all the time, I wish more folks would go out of their way to find light and make things work with each step.

If I could make a difference for even a moment, I would shatter the illusion that there is no way around pain.

For nearly four years, I watched my son struggle for life and yet I almost never gave in to the darkness.  I always, always, always reached for life and light even as I accepted what could have been inevitable.

With every ounce of my being, I wish that the people around me could find the gifts in the challenges instead of reaching for the darkness and letting that darkness be their guide.

Choose life.

The rhetoric of the anti-abortion world and the teaching of Deuteronomy is perfect for this moment.  While I am far from the anti-abortion world, I do choose life.  Every day, I choose to wake up and find the light within the challenges.  Darkness rarely encompasses my heart and soul.

Choosing life is what I do.

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire

‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

Louder, louder than a lion

‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.’

Katy Perry’s Roar

My son Aryeh is alive.  How ironic it is that Aryeh’s name means lion.  He is alive. In spite of a fatal diagnosis at times, he has always decided to be a thriver that is very much alive.  We are all alive; each and every one in my family is alive and thriving and yes, even roaring.

Yesterday as I sat in the midst of so much pain, watched some folks make troubling choices, and also experienced little things getting blown out of proportion, I wanted to help others find the light when only darkness seemed to persevere.

There are so many people like Olivia or Aryeh that choose life until no more breaths can be made.  There are so many folks that have chosen to thrive as opposed to bury their head in the sand.  May those folks be our role model.

May we all find our ‘Roar’.

PS – I forgot to mention, I saw some beautiful vibrant life yesterday.  I met people on the street that grapple with life and win.  From a distance, I watched my dear friend and his wife move towards the impending death of their father and father-in-law.  I also watched beautiful young minds embrace their own love of learning.  And finally, I had a delightful evening with my son.

While darkness surrounded me, it wasn’t part of me.  Still, may I and those that are part of my life always remember to ‘Roar’.

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Over the course of the last several days, I have experienced many hours without a voice.  While it appeared to be challenging for others who had to communicate with me, I ultimately found peace in my own silence.  I loved having the time to sit quietly with my thoughts and to sometimes just be present without thinking at all.  I also loved quietly watching what was going on around me without having to connect to the conversations.  In the last few days I grew to love the silence and wish I could find more ways to put silence in my life.

no-talking1

In my silence, I have learned or reinforced many lessons that I already knew.

  1. Silence allows me the time to create a container for my own thoughts.  Sometimes the chatter that I engage in takes away my ability to be present and to trust my own thoughts and desires. The silence has given me the space to allow what is in my heart to resonate more fully within me.
  2. As a Youth Education Director, my voice is often used as a tool to lead people, to tell stories, to connect with my students, their families, and my teachers.  Losing my voice forced me to trust others to lead in ways that I couldn’t lead.  And guess what, while no one will ever be me, those that stepped up to the plate were awesome in their own right.
  3. Writing jazzes my soul! Now in all honesty, I have not felt well enough to write for a bit, but it helps to know that in theory I always have writing.  Laryngitis can never silence me!
  4. Words are not needed to convey thoughts.  Body language, facial expressions, and silence can be part of an entire conversation.
  5. My sons are awesome at reminding me to slow down or to stop entirely.  They have stepped up to the plate in many ways to make certain that I push myself less. Those that know me well know that I always push myself.
  6. Vulnerability is a reality of life.  Sometime illness takes away our ability to function; it also makes me realize how we sometimes need to rely on others.  I haven’t asked for too much help, but when I did, I felt supported.  Still acknowledging my own vulnerability has been painful.  It is what it is.

For me, losing my voice has essentially forced me to find my footing. Over the past few months, I have been going at a breakneck speed and trying to navigate many thoughts, emotions, and realities.  The last couple months have been especially tough in different ways.  I have always done what I needed to do, but at times I have been overwhelmed.

Laryngitis felt like a metaphor for some recent challenges.  Since moving to a totally new city, I have sometimes felt like my voice didn’t matter.  In part that was due to moving to Tucson where I am not quite sure how to navigate my politics nor do I have the time I want to do that which I love.  I am also working in a new community, this means that I feel compelled to listen and observe during the first year; perspective comes from seeing what has been done before making changes.  Moving also means that I have been so busy that I don’t have enough time to really connect with those that I have always been able to speak freely; I am missing what I have lost for the time being. And finally, I have two sons that have grown more independent and don’t always feel compelled to hear my thoughts.  None of these challenges are everlasting; they are present realities which will absolutely evolve over time.

With each and every gift, there are challenges.  Losing my voice has given me time to reflect and to make some decisions for how I will navigate my life a little differently.  Perspective has come from the silence.  Instead of me just speaking the words that come to me, I have had the opportunity to stop and take the opportunity to reflect before acting too quickly.  Much can be learned in the space between the words (spoken or written).

My hope is that I will create a little more silence in my life as I continue to navigate what life has to offer.

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Time has always been a challenge.  Finding time. . . .Taking time. . . .Creating time. . . .

Writers_Clock_ Black

Yet time is our gift.  Taking time to do what you love. . . . . Using your time so that you can make a difference. . . . . .Finding beauty within the time that you do have.

While I have been overwhelmed by how time has seemingly evolved over the past week, I am also feeling a moment of intense gratitude.  This week has also been full of amazing gifts that would not have been possible if I had no time.

  1. Completing many tasks at work (of course, there is more to do.)
  2. Writing
  3. Hanging with my kids
  4. Watching my kids navigate life
  5. Missing what I can’t have, but learning to accept what is
  6. Finding time to write in my favorite place, Cafe Passe
  7. Staying up until 3:30 AM so that I could complete two mailings
  8. Eating dinner with an amazing couple that I have grown to love
  9. Freezing as I walked my dog
  10. Opening a package from our favorite store in the world, Milky Wave Tie Dye
  11. Breathing deeply
  12. Whistling, chanting, thinking. . .
  13. Fighting illness and winning!
  14. Teaching an amazing adult education class on liturgy
  15. Feeling anxiety when I dealing with hard stuff
  16. Working until I can’t keep my eyes open
  17. Making new friends
  18. Creating (in my head) new classes I want to teach
  19. Smiling, dreaming, being. . . .
  20. Coming home too hungry to cook and finding my son has already cooked dinner for our family
  21. Feeling my other son gently take my computer from my lap so he could guide me to my bed
  22. Living

Without time, none of this would happen.  When you have time; you have life.

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Nothing in life is a given, yet we can choose how to walk along the way.

Registering that reality can feel like a gift or feel like a challenge.  I can usually maneuver whatever comes my way.  I can choose to wrap myself in in my cocoon  or I an spread my wings and keep navigating forward.

butterflyBranson MO

Photo courtesy of
Judy Caplan Ginsburgh

The warmth of the cocoon is sweet and comforting; spreading my wings and fluttering about like a butterfly is pure ecstasy.  Both choices are the dichotomies for how I walk through life.  Sometimes I nestle into my thoughts and feelings as I face life somewhat privately or quietly; sometimes I flutter about reaching for new horizons or moving gently in the world.  There is a place for embracing life quietly or actively; life is what you make of it.

We can learn lessons from all of our different realities or we can grow stagnant.  Learning from life’s realities is a key to moving forward.  If you sit in darkness and despair for too long, little is gained.  At the same time if you let the joy of a moment flood you with happiness for too long, you also gain little.  Balance comes from not only acknowledging life’s realities, but also actively engaging in life’s journeys.  Feeling is important.  Acknowledging your thoughts/feelings is essential.  Sitting where you are for as long as you need can be healthy.  No one can dictate the right amount of time one needs to nestle into an emotional space, except for the person facing their own lives.

This month, I have faced many moments of fear, loss, pain, emptiness, anger, and relief, balance, hopefulness, peace.  Life’s dichotomies have been a little too intense at times.  My breathing has sometimes been labored; my emotional and physical state has been wobbly too.  As this period of time wanes, I am really grateful for my beloved friends and family who have allowed me both the space to sit quietly and the space to fly.  I have felt loved and held in a cocoon of inner warmth; I have also been free to flutter wherever my heart and soul took me.

Life is a journey of the unexpected; the gift is that I always have the power on how I will navigate.

May each of us find the balance to navigate life’s realities in a way that serves us well.

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