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Posts Tagged ‘community’

(Note: Reflecting about life and how to best move forward is what I do. One of my favorite teachers/writers, SARK, often talks about living in the “marvelous messy middle”. I think we all do that, but only some of us open the windows or doors for others to peek in. Hineini, here I am in all my rawness and passion. Hang on for the ride. If your interested, here is where this series begins. https://lightwavejourney.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/time-to-heal-building-a-stronger-foundation/)

A succulent wild woman is one of any age who feels free to fully
express herself in every dimension of her life.”
~ SARK, Succulent Wild Woman

About ten years ago, I wrote a chant with two words. Shema Koli, translated to mean, ‘Hear my voice’. This was a sweet reminder that I had to honor my own voice, share my voice with those closest to me, and do my my part to engage fully and authentically with the universe.

Living out loud or sharing myself fully to the world around me isn’t easy. As a Jewish communal professional, people often want to put me in a box. And in truth, it is important for me to meet people where they are and to connect with them.  AND at the same time, I don’t have a choice, I have to remain true to myself – always.

drumming with dog

Over the past several months, I struggled with what it means to exist with my perpetual state of darkness. I didn’t think that anyone would really want to navigate how sad I was, so instead I went inside myself and compartmentalized as much as possible. This meant that I was able to keep working, but I also felt painfully alone at all other times.

Fortunately, years of being so rooted in authenticity and sharing my voice made it nearly impossible for me to remain in my self imposed alone-ness for long. Years of being ‘real’ allowed me to return relatively quickly.

I am so jazzed that after years of developing such a beautiful practice of being present, I show up in all of my vulnerability, with all of my passion, and with my amazing spirit. I march to my own drummer and I also try to find a rhythm that allows for connecting with myself, my many communities, and the larger world.

Feel free to join me over the coming weeks as I continue to unveil some of the moving parts that I am navigating and myriad of ways I hope to stretch, to grow, and ultimately to heal. My hope is that as I share some of my story, I may inspire you in some small way.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: If you read to the end and if you like what I have to share, I’d love it if you would let me know by liking or commenting on my post.)

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If you don’t like the news. . . .
go out and make some of your own.
~Newsman Wes Nisker’s closing salutation
on radio station KSAN in the 1970s

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
hatred doesn’t need a disguise.
police aren’t here to protect you.
the kindness of neighbors is not a given.

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
red traffic lights allow for another three more cars to pass.
minorities expect disdain from every direction.
prejudice can be worn on your sleeves.

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
giving up is not an option.
I am surrounded by an activist village.
when I feel alone, all I have to do is open my heart..

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
that things are not always what they seem.
sometimes life is not black or white; in fact it is often grey.
what you see is not always what you get.

Living in Texas, I have learned . . .
there are beautiful people wherever you turn.
sometimes you need to look deeper to find the gems.
patience has a way of paying off.

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
the importance of finding those that fuel your soul.
that my voice matters and can make a difference for good.
working with others makes all of our voices stronger.

Before coming to Texas, I believed that my voice didn’t matter. In fact, I was so sure of it that I loved my ability to fade into the wood work. That isn’t the case today, I have begun to realize that I have a purpose. And even if I want to hide, I can’t.

There is work to be done – a lot of work to be done.

Over the last two days, I have been blown away by beautiful souls that make up the Pantsuit Republic: Houston Chapter. I have found like minded souls that are willing to do what it takes to make our leaders accountable for their actions and to support the work that needs to be done so that no group of people go marginalized.

I am in awe of what I have found right here in my back yard, in Houston.  And I am even beginning to believe that together we can make our world a better place.

Authenticity and compassion reign.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

Chai Wallhanging

presented by: Milky Wave Tie-Dye*

  • The tie dye says life in Hebrew; a friend made this for my son Aryeh when he was suffering a life threatening illness. . .it somehow feels appropriate now (different, but right).

 

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Tonight, it seems like my entire being is playing a wrestling match with itself. It has been such a tough match then when I tried to wake myself from the jarring movements, I couldn’t find lamp on my nightstand. It was gone; the light had literally moved.

While I found some of my pillow, a few of my limbs were knotted up in a blanket and my dog was sighing deeply wanting me to stop kicking her. Poor Maddie became so unhappy with my erratic movements that she did what she never does by choice…she went to curl up in her kennel.

After fighting sleep I decided at 3:30 AM that it was time to stop wrestling whatever demons were visiting me and try to redirect myself. LOL!  That didn’t work too well as well as I would like either. So I decided to do what I do best. I picked up my laptop and started writing.

‘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.’
Quote by Joan Didion

In the midst of my disconnected sleep, I couldn’t imagine what subconscious thoughts were keeping me awake. Now that I am awake, it isn’t difficult to imagine what is filling my mind.

Falling asleep last night, I found myself focusing on:

  • The many Muslims being murdered through terrorist acts during Ramadan,
  • Jews being murdered in Israel,
  • Another black man (possibly) being executed by police last night,
  • and watching Donald Trump’s candidacy for presidency make it acceptable for bigotry and baseless hatred to become a norm in our country.
  • Baseless hatred – The hatred that makes a man go into a nightclub and massacre 49 people. And then there is the random and not so random acts of violence that happen on the street corners, in front of mosques, or in market places. . .
  • US and Israeli politics infuriate me. I believe the world could be a lot better off without those that attempt or actually create policies that inspire intolerance and damage our environment at every opportunity.

So if the list above wouldn’t have been enough, I also always have my own internal struggles:

  • Will I ever have enough hours in my life to fully honor the creative soul that I am?
  • Why can’t I find the time to call those that I adore who need to hear my voice? Wait, I guess I have to find my voice first. My throat is still so raw from the bronchitis and laryngitis that I had a couple of weeks ago.
  • How will I best protect myself against the insanity that I see daily in the world?
  • Did I say that I am craving another furry friend? This time I want to train the pup to be a therapy dog. Before going to sleep, I think I may have found the perfect way to make that happen.
  • There is a new table in my office that I was hoping I would have refinished this week.
  • My car needs another repair.
  • What have I done to make this world a better place?
  • My sons need to get their license so that they can rely on my less.
  • Did you know as soon as I heal completely from my bronchitis and laryngitis, I will be training for a Couch to 5K? I want to keep my heart beating as healthy as possible so I can still do what I can for myself and the world around me.
  • And so much more. . .

My mind literally never stops.

Loving the world as I do has a cost. As an introvert who was born to live out loud, I have always wrestled with my role in my home, my community, and the world while also nurturing my creative spirit, fueling my spiritual practices, and navigating significant alone time.

No wonder, I woke up with my sheets in a knot and a weary body.

Writing really is the way I process the many thoughts that fill my mind, my heart, and my soul. But I won’t be healthy unless I finish my sleep. Wish me luck. . . .

Onward!!!!
Now & Always

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Feb 2015  Walking from behind

be softer with you.
you are a breathing thing.
a memory to someone.
a home to a life.

Nayyirah Waheed’s Precious Words

 

 

(Note – Over the coming weeks, I will be exploring the power of social media. The connections I have made and the growth I have experienced has helped me to grow exponentially more than I ever would have before social media touched my life. I want to shout out a special thank you to those that engage in this platform and inspire all of us to stretch and to evolve into even healthier human beings than we already are. I adore my tribe, all of my tribes. )

Transformation. . . I am a work in progress.

Creating a healthy body image has been and continues to be a very real struggle for me. I could probably find someone to blame for my fairly horrific body image – my mother, my childhood neighbors/classmates, or maybe even the media. And yet, that wouldn’t be fair.

Whatever happened in the past or how I have seen women portrayed in the media is irrelevant; I am responsible for who I am today and what I do with my memories and perceptions of the past. It is truly a blessing to be able slowly transform my self image and fall in love with woman I am.

While I still pause when it is time to look at myself in the mirror, I have mostly stopped the negative self talk. I am relieved to know that I no longer feel trapped in these words that I recently found in an old journal:

“If given a choice, I’d much rather not look at myself in the mirror or get on the scale. I’d rather not see a photograph of me or see my reflection over the water. I hate the way that I look. Sigh.”

Over the last several years, I have done the holy work of transforming how I see myself. Five years ago, I shared my health journey via blogging and social media; that was huge for me, I shared information about my diet/lifestyle changes and subsequent weight loss – 65 lbs. Later, I consciously looked at myself in the mirror and actively re-framed how I saw myself. I stopped calling myself fat and started seeing beauty in the person I was. Quietly, I began seeing myself as an Amazon Woman – strong, vibrant, healthy, and physically beautiful. I grew to really love me! And selfies, I learned not only how to take selfies, but to revel in how good I sometimes looked in those photos. I started having fun seeing myself in a photo.

In the midst of my transformation, one of the world’s most radiant souls entered my world.  It was truly an accidental meeting. While living in Tucson, I decided that I had to find a source for purchasing fair trade clothing. Via the internet I found a little photography/dance studio that sold the clothing. The only problem was that the studio was in the midst of transitioning the clothing to another location. I was so bummed because I couldn’t figure out where to find the new store. Jump ahead a week or two, I found Fed by Threads (fedbythreads.com) and then I tripped over the stunning work of Jade Beall, a co-owner to this awesome business. (Note: While Jade’s work as a photographer has helped me see all women, including me, as beautiful. Fed by Threads is a business that values everyone; experiencing the warmth and care of the other co-owner Alok Appadurai has also been transformative.)

Jade was a photographer who captured so many precious women for her book, The Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project. Each and every photo had women that were seen as beautiful for the who they were; no photo was altered in any way. The photos showed women in all their glory; stretch marks and post birth bodies alike were celebrated, as they should be.

After finding Jade’s website, http://www.jadebeall.com/, I felt like I met an angel. Not only were her photos full of love for all people, so were her words. From there I started following this incredible soul via Facebook; I couldn’t and still can’t get enough of her energy. She values people deeply; she treasures all life forces. And through viewing how Jade struggles and ultimately embraces her  own journey, I have learned to better embrace my essence and the journey that is part of my being; I have learned to see myself as beautiful.

One of my deepest disappointments about leaving Tucson was leaving Jade Beall without having her photograph me. And I am hoping that the day comes when I can have that opportunity. This amazing photographer has helped heal so many of my open wounds. How awesome to know that I am not alone; there is a stunning tribe of women who have emerged from her love and guidance, her insight and wisdom. It is, in large part, through her work and the love of her Facebook community that I have evolved to where I am today.

I still have a lot of work to do. Transformation is a continuous process.

A car accident this past December triggered a downward spiral that lasted too long. Suddenly I had to face my old demons as my body image plummeted. I stopped taking good care of my body and gained some previously lost weight. Fortunately, over the last several weeks I am again re-framing how I see myself and starting to take control of my health journey. As long as I actively take care of me, I am better able to boost my confidence while becoming more grounded.

The journey is not only about making better life choices, it is also about taking time for my soul through writing, chanting, drumming, and just allowing creativity to flow through me. I am so excited to be emerging from my darkness!!! I am returning to healthier choices and nurturing the woman I am. And I am also reaching out to new and old friends; I am asking for what I need and feeling supported in return.

An important part of my returning to a better place was not about all the changes I was making. Before I could evolve, I had to find my own beauty that what not wrapped up in what the scale told me. I had to love the person – inside and out.

Being transparent is the gift I will continue to give myself; it is ultimately how I will thrive and become a healthier me. I don’t want to hide, I want to open my arms wide and embrace the world as I am while always trying to be the best me possible.

Onward!!!!
Now & Always

 

 

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“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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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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  • Hebrew text reads - Kol haolam kulo gesher tzar meod vehaikar lo lfached klal

 

Kol ha-o-lam ku-lo gesher tzar me’od
V’ha-i-kar lo l’fached klal

The whole world is a very narrow bridge;
the important thing is not to be afraid.
~R
abbi Nachman of Bratslav

It is never too late
To start over again,
To feel again
To love again
To hope again…

(Adapted from Rabbi Harold Schulweis’ “It is Never Too Late”)

Near Eric's house

 Life has always been full for me.

Mostly I find the sparks of light and keep pushing forward.  Mostly.  And there are days that I simply live in the metaphors.  I ‘climb every mountain’, ‘shovel shit’ and of  course ‘cross that bridge when I come to it’.

The key is that I always keep moving. Sometimes I ‘tread water’; sometimes I ‘pedal backwards’, but I always navigate in hopes of landing in a better place.  And while I may have to cope with some fear, I remember that moving forward is not optional.  As long as I am striving to live authentically and working towards reaching my dreams, I will have what it takes to cross over ‘the bridge’.

Even now as I seek solid ground as I look for a professional position that can be positively impactful in every way AND as I try to grow as a mother, a writer and a human being.  I have come so far and have so far to go. Don’t we all?

One of the first songs/verses that helped me navigate the many bridges of my life was Reb Nachman’s, The World is a Narrow Bridge’.  This song has joined me in every step of my life since I can remember.  I remember singing these words to myself for hours during my very dark childhood, when living in Israel and facing the War in Lebanon and with the painfully health challenges that plagued my children’s lives.

With each and every personal, community, and world crisis – this melodic tune would soothes me and coaxes me into action and into believing that while the world is a narrow bridge’, we can’t get stuck.  We have to trust that we can keep moving forward. As long as we realize that there is no room for allowing fear to get in the way of healing, life has the possibility of moving to a better place.

Even with loss comes memories.
Even with failure comes knowledge.

Life is a journey full of so many bridges that each of us will need to cross during our life times.  So many of them will feel daunting; some will feel freeing; all will lead us to transformation. May we have the strength to keep perspective with each and every step as we cross ‘our bridge’.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS-I have fallen in love with Elton John’s, ‘The Bridge’.  It is another reminder of how bridges ultimate add to the fabric of my life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5EOnArzU5Q

“The Bridge”
Music: Elton John
Lyrics: Bernie Taupin

I’ve seen the bridge and the bridge is long
And they built it high and they built it strong
Strong enough to hold the weight of time
Long enough to leave some of us behind

[chorus:]
And every one of us has to face that day
Do you cross the bridge or do you fade away
And every one of us that ever came to play
Has to cross the bridge or fade away

Standing on the bridge looking at the waves
Seen so many jump, never seen one saved
On a distant beach your song can die
On a bitter wind, on a cruel tide

[repeat chorus]

And the bridge it shines
Oh cold hard iron
Saying come and risk it all
Or die trying

[repeat chorus]

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