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Have you ever felt invisible?

  • You know the moment when you have a FABULOUS idea and no one will listen.
  • Or perhaps, when you were waiting for a call from someone who simply chooses to disappear without warning.

For me, I think I was invisible for nearly my entire childhood until I went to Israel for high school when I was 16 years old. And even then, I wonder if I was mostly invisible until I was in my forties. I may never really know.

As a child, I am not sure that I understood how to engage in normal ways. I had no idea how to interact as others did. My guess is that I learned to fake it because I was an actress. In truth though, I was invisible. No one really knew me or much less saw me. If they did, they would have had to look inside themselves in order to understand why they stood by and did little or in most cases nothing for a thoroughly battered young girl.

I grew up in what many refer to as idyllic neighborhood outside Baltimore. Yet I will never understand how the neighbors growing up on Pikeswood Drive, my extended family that lived within 3 miles, and my school community could have closed their eyes to the child that stood in front of them, next to them, or within their worlds. Perhaps I was a fabulous actress, I doubt it. More than likely, the adults simply did what felt easiest for them. They closed their eyes, their ears, and their hearts; more likely than not they choose to stay disengaged.

With that disengagement, I had to learn how to navigate a world that made no sense. As a young child, I never wondered why folks didn’t show up. I do now, but back then, it was simply my norm. And that norm was so lonely to navigate.

I have a distinct memory of believing that all my screams were silent when I was a little girl. They weren’t. I have one distinct memory of seeing my mother passed out from one of her many drunks and me screaming at the top of my lungs.  There were no words just what I would describe now as a guttural cry. At a ripe young age, I learned that no one could hear my cries and no one really cared. As I got older, I remember creating a silent scream, I would feel my mouth open, my heart race, and my tears roll down my face, but no sound came. My life experience had taught me to hold my pain inside.

To make matters complicated, I was seriously hearing impaired as a young child. If my memory is correct, I didn’t really hear until I was about 5 years old. I am not sure how I communicated or even if anyone understood me before that time. While I remember other sensations, I don’t remember real communication.

And even when I did start to hear, I knew without a doubt that I spoke funny, everyone struggled to understand me, and besides I could barely hear what people were saying anyways. Somehow along the way I was blessed to learn how to read lips. And over time, I learned how to “act” normal. I even learned how convince my schools that I understood what was going on in the classroom, but that was another one of my lies; I was simply acting.

Reading lips opened up the door to real communication. I am not sure when I figured out that I needed to see people’s lips in order to hear them, but wow did my life get a little easier. While I have never read lips fluently, what I do does help me connect with people.

Lock EyesAs I got older, I learned that I could really connect with people by looking at their lips, reading their expressions, and really locking deeply into their eyes.

Eyes speak volumes and when you look deeply into the eyes that you are facing, you remind yourself and the person in front of you how present you are. When you are locking deeply into the eyes of whoever you are facing you are actually saying “Hineini/I am here”! Our conversation is the most important conversation in the world.

While I don’t always lock eyes, it truly is one of the most holy ways to fully engage with another human being. After a childhood of believing I was invisible, being seen and heard and doing the same for others feels INCREDIBLE.

SARK, my spirit mentor and teacher ends many of her letters with:

You are seen, You are known, You are loved.

After years of being invisible, I believe that the only way that I can see people, know people, and love people is by listening to both their spoken and unspoken words.

To this day, I still have brief moments when I feel invisible, the only difference is that all I have to do is reach out to my beautiful tribe of beloveds that are there for me.

Make sure you take time to lock deeply into other’s eyes. I promise you that it will by one of the holiest connections you will experience.

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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Prologue:

Over the coming period of time, I will share how I use writing to quiet my mind, to navigate darkness, to center my spirit, and to propel myself forward.  As Joan Didion says,

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.”

For various reasons, I often feel silenced. This is not working for me any longer. People have every right to interpret my words in any way they want. Take what touches you and move forward as you wish. But here is one thing that you, the reader, should know – Once I release my words into the universe, they have come to do what they were meant to do.

While I share my writing unapologetically, I also write because I have no choice, it is how I am best able to walk in the world.

I am EnoughWriting,
th
e song of my heart;
th
e meaning of my mind;
the 
feeling of my soul;
I
s what makes me One.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 The last few couple of months have stretched me and inspired me to see my reflection in ways that surprised me. I am facing new fears in very direct ways and having the honesty that I need to move forward.

 If you asked me what am I most afraid of in my life? I would have a really hard time answering you. You see, I struggle with overwhelming vulnerability at times and yet, I always emerge. I have a way of doing the dance of life that allows me to navigate even when I feel like I am suffocating.

Recently, I have faced loss and heartbreak, I have also navigated loneliness more honestly than ever before. And I have started spiritual work that forces me to really look at myself in the mirror. Admitting vulnerability can be transformative or crippling. I am shooting for transformative. I am reaching for the stars and moving, always moving, forward. I am not sure that I have a choice.

When I allow myself to go there, darkness seems be a little too present in my life these days (and nights too). So much so that I have wondered, ‘How did I ever think I should change my last name, Gal-Or, or wave of light?’ I must have been a fool. And then I realize that I have to stop then negative self-talk and own what I fear most in my life. I am so afraid that  I am afraid that I will never be enough, do enough to make the world a better place, or be loved enough because I am not worthy enough.

Quieting that ridiculous inner voice and actively engaging in the world as I do should be easier than it is. And yet, I have to consciously decide to:

  • breathe deeply
  • read and listen to inspirational people
  • write and then write some more
  • laugh as much as possible
  • chant
  • walk and keep walking
  • take time to connect with those I adore (especially my sons, my animals, and my closest friends)
  • play
  • always embrace my vocations, my job and my new nonprofit – Door l’Door). I am so blessed to so what I love.
  • have family dinners
  • listen to music that lifts me up

Nurturing my spirit takes so much work and doing the above soul work is the only way I know to come to a place of knowing/believing that I may actually be enough.

While taking care of myself means remembering to do what I need to do, it is also important to release that which doesn’t serve me any longer.  This is profoundly sad to me and so important too. By letting go of what doesn’t work, I make space for the infinite possibilities that surround me. With an open door, new opportunities abound.

Yes, life is hard, but I don’t have to make it any harder than it is. As long as I remember:

Rising above my fears is not an option. I am enough. I got this!!

With that in mind, I want to share this AMAZING and inspirational music video called Rise by Mikey Pauker. If you haven’t heard it or even if you have, listen and then listen again. (link below)

May we all face our vulnerabilities and do the work of growing.

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8l6KS23LKk

 

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: Create A Bigger Tent

Create A Bigger Tent - Remember that a large world exists outside of where you stand. Photo Courtesy of Ann Cameron Siegal

    Create A Bigger Tent:  Remember a large world exists outside of where you stand.
Photo  by: Ann Cameron Siegal

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

Over 10 years ago, I saw the following cover page on the front cover of Yoga Journal.

Connect with Yourself; Connect with your Community; Connect with the World.

While I don’t remember the article at all, I do believe that these words have impacted my life more than any other words I have ever read.  They remind me of what is important in life.  Life really isn’t all about me, but I need to always consider who I am as I go out into the world and do the holy work that nurtures who I am and the values I hold so dear.

My job is to take care of myself and those in my inner circle first; the responsibility is vital.  Being healthy or whole can’t happen unless I honor by body, my mind, and my soul.  And once I do, it is important for me to remember that I live in the midst of a larger community.  The community I live in might be different from yours.  My community or my tent, as I like to refer to it, includes those that actively engage in a life of values and political beliefs that are important; they may be friends, neighbors, or virtual strangers.  Our values remind us that there is a larger world that needs our stewardship; together we consider the world around us.  Our local world and the larger world may depend on our nurturing.  Human rights covers every aspect of the world we live and with that comes consideration for the environment, slave/forced labor, politics, etc.  The world encompasses everything that could drive our universe.

Taking care of myself matters, but remembering that the world needs our collective spirit to move us to a better place for not just our community, but for the larger world too.  Join me in finding something that brings you to a more passionate place; find something that drives your spirit to care and then do the work of a caring person.

May each and every one of us reach outside of ourselves and create a bigger tent where others matter; it really isn’t just about us.

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“It’s an ethical obligation to look for hope; it’s an ethical obligation not to despair.  If you look, there is always a possibility of finding a place where action can change the course of things. ” ~Tony Kushner

While I might be one of the most intense and introspective people I know, I am also someone who believes that life is worth living and light will prevail regardless of how dark life feels.  I believe in the future even as thunderbolts are within striking distance.  After each and every storm, a new light dawns.

Within life there are many potential gifts and challenges that touch our lives at any given moment.  Our world is surrounded with both external and internal factors that empower us to embrace life and all she offers.  For me, embracing life is not an option.  The question is finding the actions in life that will allow me to do my part to repair the world  and to honor my soul with each step.

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Sometimes it is hard to trust that light and rainbows come after the falling rain, but they do.  Most of us find a way to embrace life even after devastation; it isn’t easy.  It doesn’t happen quickly, but it can happen.  Minutes turn into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, months into years. . . .  One day, without knowing, a story makes you smile; you find comfort in a sweet thought, and maybe laughter can emerge from your heart again. On another day, you might be able to start taking steps to live outside of your darkness.  It might start when you hold open the door for someone in the grocery store and than find yourself smiling because even though they are in obvious discomfort, they are smiling at you and thanking you for your help.

Life has thrown me a few hardballs that knocked me down.  I have faced intense loss and intense physical/emotional pain; I have also wanted to curl up into a ball and ignore the world around me.  Regardless of how covered in muck I have become, I have ultimately been able to find joy in the face of strangers and friends alike.  Animals and nature remind me that when I can’t deal with people, there is a whole other world that craves my attention.  With each hardball that I experience, I am awed my the possibilities that often follow.

With each step I take, I know that there is a huge world out there that is calling my name.  I always have a choice about how I walk through the mud or the hard, dry sand alike; the choice is always mine.  Sometimes I need to lick my wounds and other times I need get up and save the world.  Years ago, I saw the following words on the front of a Yoga Journal magazine:

Connect with yourself; Connect with the Community; Connect with the World

This one motto is a great reminder of how I want and need to walk through the world.  There is time for me to take care of myself, time for me to do my part within the community, and there are times that I need to be remembering that I am part of a larger world.  When I remember these realities, I can also remember that hope surrounds me as long as I actively live in the world.  Giving up is not optional; believing in hope is!

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My heart races

So much to do

Mountains to climb

Valleys to descend

I look to the mountains, from where my help will come. Psalms 121:1-2

With each breath

I realize that life is sacred

With each breath

I realize that life is a gift

With each breath

I realize that life is not a given

~

Striving to live fully

I move through life

Finding light in the darkest corners

I move through life

Believing in that the sun will shine

I move through life.

~

My heart races

So much to do

Stories to tell

Love to be realized

~

The sun does always rise in the east

The sun does always set in the west

The moon is but a sliver at the beginning and the end of each month

The moon is beautiful and full in the middle of each month

~

Living means connecting

With others and with the earth

One heart; one beat

Feeling the rhythm, connecting with what is.

~

My heart races

So much to do

Life to be lived

Until the last the breath.

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