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Posts Tagged ‘chanting’

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space
between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
― Maya Angelou

Music was a huge blessing to me as I sought reprieve from the nightmares of my childhood. It gave sweet moments to get lost in my own cocoon and to momentarily hide from the explosions that threatened life as I knew it.

drumming with dogI nearly always had music playing; I could never get enough. And because my father was in the record business, he introduced me to all the popular music, hot musicians, and and all the records, cassettes, and eight tracks I could possibly want to hear.

 

Even as I left home in my late teens, my love of music never left me. Once I reached my middle to late 30s, I added drumming and chanting to my sweet repertoire of music. 

This new love affair came at the perfect time. It was during my late 30s that the pain of my childhood came roaring back to me when I was recovering  some long forgotten memories. The new wave of despair could only be quieted when I was chanting or drumming.

The good news is that now that I am just entering my mid-fifties, I have found a new rhythm to navigate my traumatic childhood and I still love music! Music will always be my refuge during the hard times and fuel for healthy living too.

What music inspires you on your darkest days? I am always looking for new musical inspiration.

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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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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The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

by William Stafford From Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems. 
Graywolf Press (January 7, 2014).

As a little girl, my father would cup both of his hands over my ears and say, “Listen to the quiet.” Each and every time he did this a calmness washed over my spirit. While my father has been gone for 17.5 years, I have never forgotten that sensation or released my longing to ‘listen to the quiet’.

Over the last several years, I have become aware that I am navigating a life with many moving parts; I often find myself overwhelmed and struggling how to get my to do list done and show up for life in a healthy way. As a seeker, this has invited me to find options for how to best nurture my spirit and to literally practice being me.

100 Collection.2

Making Artist’s Cards is only one of my daily practices. 

The great news is that creating and doing practices comes naturally to me. While some of them could have been considered detrimental in my youth or for moments in time, today they tend to be quite beautiful and grounding. I am the person I am because I take significant time to ‘listen to the quiet’ and to honor my needs.

Making conscious choices for how I spend my time has truly made it possible for me to process the darkness that has been known to blanket my being. I feel deeply and love unabashedly. My heart has been shattered by those I should have been able to trust and by those that have loved me differently then I have wanted. I don’t tend to do well with a broken heart; my entire being seems to hold that feeling unable to emerge with ease.

While this truth is painful for me, the awareness has lead me to engage in healing practices. In the last eight months or so, I have found a new rhythm that includes new rituals or what I prefer to call daily practices. They have empowered me to move forward and to better embrace self-care. Yes, I feel the wounds of my broken heart and spirit, but they don’t devastate me. I am choosing to live within my truth. I am practicing being me!

I love how I walk through the world and how on a good day I radiate light. Yes there is sadness, but it is what it is. What matters is how I move forward and that I always choose to move forward. Creating practices has literally saved my life; it has given me tools to cope and made me stronger for living with all the moving parts of my life.

I am able to thrive because of what I do to take care of my body, my mind, and my soul. Here are some of my daily rituals/practices:

Morning Rituals:

  1. Make my bed
  2. Drink water:
    • two cups – usually room temperature
    • with apple cider vinegar
    • with fenugreek seeds
    • with spices (aryuvedic )
  3. Peel and eat 12 raw almonds with local honey (Peeling raw almonds that have been soaking in water is a real meditative treat.)

Daily practices

  1. Journaling – My daily check in helps me negotiate whatever is weighing on my spirit. Only through journaling can I really find out what I think and what I feel, what I need and what will help me to better function.
  2. Reading books – Right now I am working on four:
    • Becoming by Michelle Obama
    • Practice Me  by Elena Brower (This inspired me to write this blog.)
    • Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, & Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford AND
    • Diana, An Allegory of Awakening Herself by Martha Beck (This book just arrived and will be started tonight.)
  3. Making Artists cards using watercolor and words of empowerment
  4. Keeping the kitchen sink clean and clear

Regular Practices (4-5 times/week)

  1. Walking 10,000 + steps
  2. Listening to AMAZING podcasts while I walk
  3. Chanting/Prayer
  4. Deep breathing exercises and/or meditation

Developing Practices (I am always trying to make healthy choices, but I haven’t quite mastered the following, but I am fairly consistent :). . .)

  1. Yoga in the morning – I made it through one week, but felt really sore. . .tomorrow I start again.
  2. Nutritious smoothie
  3. Eating vegetables with every meal
  4. No sweets and almost no sugar

When I picked up the book Practice Me last week, I was blown away by how well I am doing it. I am living as authentically and constantly working on the non-negotiables in my life. And I am learning, always learning about how I can show up and live life more fully.

What practices do you do that make you a healthier you?

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – Keep your eyes open for later today or tomorrow when I share my practices for nurturing our world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

Day 18 -Choose Life 1‘Choose Life’ is a mantra that I say every day. Yes, I often struggle with my wide-open spirit and I feel with a depth that I sometimes wish I could lessen. And yet, I show up – always. The below blog could have been written by me today. Only I am not drumming and chanting as I should. This weekend, I am taking a long weekend. With a full heart, I think I need to take the time to reconnect with my drumming and chanting.

(Originally written in November, 2013)

From beginning to end, yesterday was challenging and full of gifts too.  Sigh and yay!!!6730685121_996af44d65

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.

What affected me the most 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. 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 five 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
L
ouder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.’
K
aty 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’.

Onward with love, light, creativity, & action,
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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(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

Those that know me, know that I have often struggled to quiet my mind and I still rarely sleep enough hours during the night. Over the years, I have begun to realize that quieting my mind and sleeping are a necessity if I am going to thrive and actively engage in making our world a better place (or be personally healthy at all).

With that in mind, I am learning to savor the solitude so that I can better nourish myself through doing what I love – writing, drumming, chanting, meditation, and now even art. Creating this quiet space has contributed to be feeling more grounded and ready to live out loud and touch people’s lives more consciously.

Ironically, the quiet also seems to be helping me make the space for more sleep in my life; this isn’t happening with ease, but the more quiet I allow for, the more I seem to be able to rest and sleep – so much more than I can ever move.

Day 7 - Homer and sleep

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” ― Homer, The Odyssey

Thanks to an awesome friend, I decided to dedicate Day 7 of #The100DayProject, also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, to the what those of us within the Judeo-Christian tradition think of as Shabbat/Sabbath, a time to simply pause.

May we all take the time to go inward and honor the silence within ourselves so that when we speak our voices will make sense and be heard.

Onward with love, light, and creativity,
Chava

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Writing
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul;
Is what makes me WHOLE.

In the last few weeks, my writing has gotten me more in touch with a new internal rhythm. I have found myself filling my schedule with solitude. I am craving quiet in a way that I have never done before.

An old fashioned planner is starting to take shape and allowing me to become more accountable not only to my solitude, but also my work and my health journey. Very consciously, I am making choices on how to navigate time. As serendipity would have it, I I found this amazing quote presumably by Henry David Thoreau as I was beginning to write this blog entry.

‘Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it,
the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you,
it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”

black butterflyI am being drawn to actively engage in life through choosing a more conscious way of moving forward with my daily life.

Why now? AND How will it look?

Health Journey – I want to be the healthiest I can be. So, I have made some AMAZING changes in my life over the last couple of months.

  • Diet – I am eating:
    • three healthy meals a day.
    • no added sweeteners in my diet. The exception is that I do drink alcohol occasionally.
    • almost no animal products.
    • or drinking lots of water and no sodas!!!!
    • mostly whole foods.
  • Movement – I am seeing myself as someone who can live life actively.
    • Each day I am walking 10,000 steps in the morning and I am also taking walks in the evening.
    • Next summer, I hope to take four to six weeks and bike along the west coast. The plan is to drive to British Columbia and then travel south towards Northern California and beyond as possible. Taking each day to explore the world via my bike. I have yet to map out the trip, explore the financial feasibility of making this happen, or to purchase the bike I will train on. BUT I have decided that I will make some version of this trip happen; I am so excited!
    • In the fall, I will purchase a new or used bike and start my training including how to make simple bike repairs. Wondering if anyone in Houston is up for teaching me. 🙂
    • Even this past weekend, my oldest son and I took a trip to Austin and basically walked and walked some more. We had high hopes of going to some artsy areas, but found ourselves drawn to simply taking in the downtown area.
  • Overall Health Exploration – Simply doing what I have to do.
    • At this point, I have lost about 25 lbs since June. While I seem to have temporarily plateaued, I am simply continuing to make more right choices daily. The weight and my health will continue in a fabulous direction as I continue my health journey.
    • Recently went for a physical and found out that I no longer pre-diabetic for the first time in decades. Now I am working on lowering my cholesterol through exercise and eating better.
    • Just had my vision checked, purchased a new prescription for my glasses, and new glasses. The best part about this vision journey is that I can now see.
    • Recently saw my orthopedic surgeon as follow-up because my back has been hurting.
    • Will have my annual mammogram and bone density scan next week. It was scheduled for last week, but the office called to let me know that the air conditioner was not working. If this had been six months ago, I would have yet to reschedule.
    • Waiting for the results for my brca test to see if I have the genes that will up my chances in having breast or ovarian cancer.
    • Still need to schedule my colonoscopy. . .this seems to be the one appointment I have yet to make. I’ve called, but for some reason, I do not have an appointment yet. I will make that happen before the end of the day.
    • Finally, I need to see the dentist. It’s time. . .it has been far too long.
  • Sleep – I am trying to allow myself more time to sleep. So far, I am not as successful as I’d like to be. And yet, I am going to take a nap in a few minutes.
  • Spiritual Journey
    • Taking time to explore SARK via her books and a facebook group.
    • Listening to podcasts by people that make my heart sing.
    • Allowing for more time to chant and pray daily
    • Looking forward to my Elul journey as I prepare for Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.
    • Studying Torah each week and helping a friend write her D’var Torah or sermon for her upcoming anniversary of her Bat Mitzvah.
  • Creative Journey – Let me count the ways :). . .
    • Writing daily
      • journaling
      • working on my book (and deciding if it needs to be two)
    • Creating Vision Boards – I even lead a vision board workshop a little over a week ago and can’t wait to lead another one.
    • Doodling
    • Trying to do some watercolor
    • Being inspired  by AWESOME podcasts and books

All of this and more is leading me to make different decisions in how I navigate life. I have decided to allow for the quiet by engaging in far less chatter. So for now, I will not take as much time connecting with friends, social media, and the news.

For the next nearly 60 days until after all the fall Jewish holidays are over, I will focus inward. I will do whatever it takes to love my body, my mind, and definitely my soul. I will use this time to dig deeper and explore through my journaling and doodling what it is I want and need to live a more holy and grounded life.

Most of my life has been filled with what I think I should do and less about what my spirit needs to thrive. I am at a fabulous crossroads right now; this is the perfect time for me to go inward and make some decisions about how I am going to best nourish my life and reach for all that I want. (Note: Inspired by Elle Luna’s book, The Crossroads of Should and Must.)

Reality check

Tikkun Olam – Repairing the World

While I’d love to go completely inward, there is a lot going on in the world that needs my attention.

  • We have less than 100 days to get elected officials that will speak more for human beings and for love of our world.
  • We also have children and parents that need need be reunited.
  • Accountability needs to happen both in the United States and Israel.

This is not the time for me to shut down completely.

#The100DayProject – I will be starting this project in just less than a week; I am still exploring my options, but I have a few GREAT ideas.

Will you join me? Starting Sunday, August 12/1 Elul through Tuesday, November 20/12 Kislev would love to play with others in generally a solitary activity. “Basically, if you can dream it, you can do it. The only premise? Participants have to do the same action every day for 100 days, and they have to document every instance of 100. Sounds totally cool, right?” For more information check out this link, #The100DayProject.

For the first time in years, I am excited (and really nervous) about the possibilities that are surrounding me. The last several years have been really full, but today I am blessed with the ability to go mostly inward with a goal of living authentically in every way.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

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