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Posts Tagged ‘connections’

A Letter to a Friend:

On several occasions you have questioned whether Facebook friends are really listening or whether you are being heard at all. You seemed to be wondering out loud whether Facebook is some sort of alternate reality.

You are not alone in wondering about the power or purpose of Facebook. Since joining Facebook in 2009, I have watched myself evolve in how I connect with the world in large part due to my interactions on this form of social media. We seem to be asking similar questions and perhaps coming to different assumptions.

fb

On a personal level, I have grown to love it!!! At nearly anytime Рday or night, I am surrounded by people that jazz my soul, inspire me to be a better person, nurture me when I am down, and/or support me when I need a kick in the tuchus (tush). And sometimes there is little or no real interaction; sometimes friends are just on the ride of life with me. The more direct I am, the more substantial  the help can be. Help has come in the form of information, resources, and/or supportive listening. My response to these interactions have helped me navigate into more healthy connections and out of friendships or connections that no longer serve me.
Facebook is not some sort of alternate reality. It is full of life (gifts and challenges), experiences, politics, information (true and false). People share what they are comfortable with sharing; this is no different than life in any other social realm. People share what they want you to hear and some are more authentic than others. This seems to be the reality whether on the phone with friends, at work, in synagogue or any house of prayer, at the park, or even the local grocery store.
When tough times hit, people can’t always help and don’t know what to say. The same can be said for all interactions.
Finding personal support for me seems to come mostly when I share what is going on and what I am doing about it. When I have been down for too long (which I have), the responses stop showing up with frequency. It doesn’t necessarily feel good, but each of us only have so much time in our lives to deal with our own crap let alone every one else’s crap. Sigh.
Politically, I have had to face that my strong opinions make people uncomfortable. And if someone is a really close friend, we learn to refrain from commenting on political posts or we accept the explosions that follow a ‘confrontation’. AND I have been known to end friendships or lose friendships when passions run deep. I love knowing where I stand with people even when it means that saying good-bye feels like the only option. I don’t have time to hang with people whose values I find troublesome.

I use Facebook to share all of the moving parts of how I walk in the world. I share poetry, sayings, politics, pain, joy, gratitude, and sometimes hell.

For me, Facebook has opened many doors to opportunities for learning, stretching, and connecting. While I love this tool, it is also one tool of many that I use in my life.

With love and light,
Chava

PS – Some examples of how Facebook has added to my life:

  1. Politically now, I have more information at my fingertips.
  2. Advice is always available for the asking!! And sometimes when not asked. ūüôā
  3. When I needed a job, opportunities surfaced.
  4. After I lost my job, friends from all parts of my life showed up to help; I am not sure how I would have survived if people didn’t come out of the woodwork.
  5. If I am sad or lonely, depressed or scared, there is always someone who shows up to comfort me.
  6. While many people have profoundly different views from me, there is always someone there to give me a different way of seeing things.
  7. Whenever I post a link to my blog, it gets read. ūüôā
  8. Whether I need a place to eat in Houston, a place to stay in Washington DC or a good book to read – Ask and I will end up with a ton of answers.
  9. I have found the best sayings just by lurking on Facebook. Did you know probably have over 70 pages of quotes that I have saved?
  10. AND so much more!!!!!!!

 

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Your energy introduces you. . . .Truth.

While I am far from perfect, I tend to walk into almost any new environment with warmth and love in my heart. I can’t help but smile at babies or any child, seniors, and animals. Beauty always brings tears to my eyes and authenticity jazzes my soul.

With each step, I remember that my energy is what people meet first.

I love that people are drawn to my energy. My only hope is that I wish I could be healthier, more vibrant, and even more inspirational. And yet, I also love that even if I am not all of these things, I still have the ability to make strangers smile, dogs wag their tails, and children play with me.

On a good day, I make new friends wherever I go and sometimes, I am blessed to connect with a new soul friend with barely a word spoken.

Beauty surrounds me.

On a bad day, I can become hyper-focused and forget that regardless of what is happening, life is not all about me or what I need to accomplish. My hope is that when I get like this, I can turn it off quickly. Sometimes I am lucky enough to do just that.

A few years ago, I visited one of my congregants post surgery. As she laid surrounded by loved ones in ICU, I walked into the room. With tears in my eyes, I was instantly transformed. I remembered another time and place when I had no words for my own family who painfully and awkwardly stood vigil for one of our loved ones. But within moments, I asked the family if I could pray with one of the most beautiful souls I knew. And when they said yes, I found myself chanting and praying with an intensity that felt right for that moment. Fortunately, this horrific chapter had a happy ending; my congregant was able to not only live, but thrive again.

Pain and memories are part of life.

For some reason, the above hospital visit touched me deeply. Walking into this congregant’s hospital room nearly paralyzed me. And yet, I quickly realized that there was no time for self-absorption; this was a time for unconditional love. In fact nearly every time I walk into a new environment, I find myself propelled towards warmth and love.

Over time, connections evolve and become grounded in a beautiful reality. But it is always my hope that when you meet me, you will meet a sweet energy that makes you want to get to know who is walking through the door.

 

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My entire being has grown raw.

50 dead!

And we are now starting are next political crisis. Progressives vs Conservatives. Both defending their views while hundreds of children, partners, and loved souls are no longer alive in this world.

AGAIN!

One man causes terror in the name of his radical beliefs and many are ready to condemn all Muslims.

I am so sick to my stomach. 50 dead. 50 people who were tragically murdered. 50 human beings who never got to say good-bye to their loved ones. And thousands of people, hopefully millions are now mourning for 50 now dead souls.

Tragedy strikes again.

This is not ok!

¬†“AR-15 Rifle Used in Orlando Massacre Has Bloody Pedigree. it was used to slaughter first graders at Sandy Hook, murder Batman fans at Colorado movie theater, kill county workers at a holiday party in San Bernardino.

Now the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle has the dubious distinction of being the weapon of choice for a homosexual-hating gunman” CORKY SIEMASZKO

Something has to be done.

This afternoon Aryeh lit a candle in honor of those lost to this brutality and to the beautiful soul that opened up this bar in honor of her brother’s life journey.

Tomorrow I will go to a vigil. There I will hopefully meet the right person, the person who will open the door to my activism around making sure that an aggressive bastard has no legal ways of carrying a gun or rifle of any kind!

My heart is breaking. So many people lost in the name of mental illness, radical beliefs, or simply because of some of their deep seeded desires.

Years ago, my friend Susan Windle referred to me as a Spiritual Warrior. It is time for me to birth the Warrior’s spirit and better learn how to sit down at the table with those who have different roles so that we can really stop the massacres that keep happening.

And to my friend¬†that shared¬†the horrific rhetoric of one¬†Muslim shiekh, I want to say that I have heard some repulsive words come out of both rabbis and other faith based leaders. In fact there are those people that firmly stand with the following Judeo-Christian teaching that is found in the bible.¬†It says in¬†Leviticus 20:13, within the¬†Judeo-Christian Bible,¬†“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” Sometimes religion sure focuses on narrow minded thinking. I am so happy to stand with those that seek understanding and healthy ways to interpret or maybe re-frame some of the difficult texts that our part of all faith based traditions.

Without modern day interpretations or a respect for when ancient¬†texts were written, all of our teachings can lead to darkness. The reason I left Orthodox Judaism so many years ago was because I did not believe the Torah was written or inspired by God. ¬†I see¬†the Torah as¬†our guide to life. And like any good book, we learn to synthesis the information and then grow as we study. As a progressive Jew, I think of our Torah as the Living Torah, it is my job to find meaning in the teachings and practices. It is my guide and I treasure it. But do I believe all of it’s teachings are just? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Before I understood the complete ramifications of prejudice, there was a persOne_race_human_eV2on in my life who was extremely prejudiced. For the first time in my adult life, I encountered¬†someone¬†that repulsed me because of their ¬†core beliefs, so I found passive aggressive ways to cope. While this wasn’t a fabulous way to move forward, it felt right at the time. One thing that I did was to engage in conversations so that I could enlighten this man. As you can imagine, that didn’t¬†go over too well. And then one day, I found the most wonderful t-shirt. And thanks to Google images, I found it again. I don’t know who made this, but I do know it was the final way that I knew, at that time, to cope with hatred. Until it fell apart, I wore it every time I saw this person. My guess is that he wondered if I owned any other t-shirts. ūüôā

I am now a little wiser than I once was. With that in mind, I realize that it is time to navigate the very real realities that exist and do my part to help things evolve. Lighting a candle was introspective, going to a vigil is supportive, but perhaps I need to connect with some of the organizations doing good work with gun violence issues. Here is one important link, I know I have a few friends that have worked with Everytown for Gun Safety, http://everytown.org/act/.

50 human beings dead, let’s not pause any longer.

There are so many layers to taking care of the human race. Let’s make connections with one another and ¬†do our part collectively. We can make a difference.

‚ÄúIf you want connection, it‚Äôs because you are connection. Be what you want, and then it happens all around you. If you want love, be it. You‚Äôll have more love than you know what to do with. Whatever you are inside, you receive a thousand fold on the outside.‚Ä̬†~ Adyashanti

Onward – Now & Always,
Chava

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Connecting is what I do. I have grown to love that about myself. And yet, I have had the door slammed in my face. . .not once, not twice, but multiple times. I have had other doors close more gradually without intense pain.

To say that I am strong doesn’t really cover it, sometimes I move forward with ease and sometimes the pain has been known to stay with me – forever (at least to-date).

When doors close or sometimes feel like there closing, I struggle to breathe deeply. The pain is so very overwhelming and my heart feels the need to race. At first the tears feel like they will never stop falling and then the metaphoric tears continue to fall. Those tears create puddles around my soul and remind me that perhaps it is time to protect myself by building a moat.

While the moat may surround me, it won’t ever protect me fully. As long as I love and connect as I do, I will remain open to loving connections and profound losses.

May I be blessed to hold and be held in a fullness that nurtures my spirit and builds bridges that fortify my soul.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chava's Shadow 17January2016Silence is an answer.
While your love is deep
Your quiet resonates more deeply.

As vulnerability courses through my being
Your silence triggers the pain that rests just below the surface.
Distance is our reality and yet it hasn’t always been that way.

Trust evaporates when it isn’t contained.
Sometimes I need to be metaphorically held.
Stroked. Nurtured. Hugged.

A kind word
A sweet note
A present message

Sharing my vulnerability isn’t easy
Yet it is part of growing connections
I am not as strong as I thought I was
and maybe I never was.

Breathing in the truth. . .
Silence speaks louder than words. . . .
I’m listening.

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HIDING
is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves
until we are ready to come into the light.

Excerpted from CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
2015 © David Whyte
Spruce Knob, WV. Mark H Schneider!- Shai's cousin

Photo Courtesy: Mark H Schneider Spruce Knob, WV

This is Blog #500. Wow.

AND yesterday I hit 40,000 views of my blog! Another wow!!!

For me, writing is as important as my heartbeat or my breathing. If I am not writing, I am probably doing my own version of dying. What a gift that I am very much living!!!

For me, writing is the way I share myself fully, it is how I share my soul.  If I have taken the time to write, know that the words spoken were written from the fullness of my being in THAT moment. Writing is how I feel most comfortable in my skin.

~ ~ ~

When most people ask how¬†any of us are, they are looking for simple responses. “Good” or “Fine” are the best answers for small talk. A quick and easy reply is what is¬†expected.

Years ago, I determined¬†that small talk doesn’t serve me well. Professionally and among strangers, I do what is expected; over time though, I have found ways to remain more authentic¬†whenever possible. I have found friends and loved ones that inspire my true self to shine and for¬†transparency.

There is a passion that runs deep within me. While people often describe me as warm and fun-loving, those that know me well know that I am much more complex than I appear at face value.  A simple description defies the essence of who I truly am.  In fact, it may be better to describe me as an similar to an onion; there are so many layers to who I am as a person.

When I connect with a soul¬†friend, I’d rather be silent than share small talk. There is always so much going on inside my head and my heart. Life is full of ‘many moving parts’; my mind rarely quiets down. ¬†At any given moment, I am contemplating my inner thoughts. At any given moment, I could be thinking about what is going on in my life or the lives of those I love; I may be thinking about my students, my community, or the world. ¬†My soul friends tend to understand that my silence does not mean disinterest; it means I can’t wait until we have time to truly share.

Reality is that there are days I feel alone.  I know that my intensity is too much for my soul friends to absorb with regularity. I realize that it is through writing that I release my thoughts and I also realize that as I grow writing is not always enough; sometimes I have a deep sense of longing to share myself not only through my writing. Again, this is the gift of personal growth. There is a time for writing, a time for conversation, and a time for silence. This is called balance.

The rawness that is part of my every breath stopped being held by the container called my body. But I have learned to shed that container by allowing my passion to flow, sometimes through my tears, sometimes through my connections with others, and mostly through my fingers/hands. It is through my writing, journaling, and doodling that I find balance and that the triteness of my soul flows out into the universe. I love that I am not bound by any one way of living and communicating.

The game ‘Hide and Seek’ has empowered me to stretch and grow, to heal and thrive. ¬†Going inward when I need to collect my thoughts, but not needing to stay there; my voice matters. . .I don’t have to hide any longer. ¬†I still have to choose the right time to be fully present with other, to write from my heart, or to go inwards until the right forms of expression emerge.

Thanks for reading. . . .can’t wait to see what will be in the¬†next 10, 20, 30, 50, or 500 blogs.

 

 

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One of Jamie's last photos  - Kauai: Paradise Found

One of Jamie’s last Facebook photos – Kauai: Paradise Found

I love deeply.

As someone who loves people as I do, I often connect with people instantly. ¬†It is not something I think about, it simply is. What I have learned over the last fifteen or so years is that I either have a connection or I don’t. ¬†Are there exceptions to this rule. . .absolutely, but it is still a guiding principle within my life.

Some of my closest friendships have been made in 20 seconds or less on a good day, up to a minute on a questionable day. For the most part, if¬†a friendship takes too much work initially, it isn’t a friendship worth keeping.

The people that come into my life in under a minute quickly become¬†my soul friends. I often forget that they haven’t been in my life forever. Which can become awkward when I KNOW they know something, that of course they don’t. Those relationships tend to transcend time or space. Those are the friendships I want to keep and hold forever.

The only problem is that those friendships don’t always last. ¬†Sometimes they end because they had an expiration date and sometimes they end because of serious illness or death.

Just this week, I lost a new friend, Jamie Zimmerman. You wouldn’t have known it by how we connected, but it is what it is. ¬†In my heart, I think we both believed that we would one day do something profound together; I don’t know what I mean by that. . .it was just a hunch. The only problem is that earlier this week, an accident on the beaches of Hawaii took her life. As soon as I heard this, I couldn’t stop sobbing. ¬†We had just had a couple of¬†hours together¬†when she came to Houston a couple of months ago. Loved our time and couldn’t wait until we would meet again.

But sometimes there are no tomorrows.¬†http://wp.me/pthnB-5i¬†So as I am wiping my tears away, I wonder¬†how to best remember¬†this brilliant woman. With an amazing gusto for living¬†her passions, she wanted to share all she knew and inevitably spread her¬†light too. She was a born leader who generously gave her heart and soul.¬†While Jamie was nearly 20 years younger than I am, I had so much to learn from this beautiful soul. ¬†I am so sorry I don’t have more time with her, but also grateful for the time I did have.

Jamie’s death has forced me to look at how I walk in the world. ¬†How can I face the reality of sudden loss? How do I process accidents at all? Last month another friend of mine had a cycling accident. ¬†I took that one hard too and he really was ok by the time I knew of his fall – battered¬†and healing.

Over the last several years, I have learned that dread and vulnerability fill me when I hear of sudden accidents and loss whether they cause death or simply physical challenges of all sorts. Perhaps it is because I realize that as a single mother, I fear that my children would be alone if something happened to me. Or perhaps I have felt and witnessed the effects of sudden loss.  Either way, I am struggling internally right now.

Early onset of dementia took another close friend away a few years ago. ¬†In fact, my friend Sharon was the person, I had planned to give my most personal information before I realized that the door of opportunity had closed. ¬†Life doesn’t always work as we expect. Sigh.

With every fiber of my being, I hope I never lose the ability to connect with people as I do.  And yet I do need to find a way to accept the realities that come with loving people.  Those that I love will not necessarily always be present. Nor is it a given that I will be present for them.

The responsibility to live in the most authentic way possible becomes a necessity when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. ¬†It also means that I am responsible for being¬†fully present in life and with those I love. ¬†Tomorrow will be what it is, so I have to actively engage in this moment and to be the best person I can be within each of my interactions with the world; whether I connect daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or even less, my hope is that I will¬†always the best person I can be.

Thinking about Jamie
Jamie was full of life; she actively engaged in life and strived to embrace all of life. ¬†She also had a keen sense of how to honor herself and reach for her highest self. ¬†I didn’t know Jamie well, but I wish I did. ¬†Her spirit was full of light, she illuminated not only where she was standing at any given moment, but her¬†beautiful energy¬†brightened the world. ¬†The world is a much better place because of her presence in it.

While I don’t know what Jamie and I may have accomplished if given the opportunity, I do know that I need to take the lessons I learned from our brief friendship. ¬†And that is exactly what I will do.

~ ~ ~

May I learn to kiss the ground with my feet and reach for the stars with every bone in my body.

May I be blessed with the fearlessness to let my full light shine as I nurture my spirit a little more fully.

May I never stop loving as deeply as I do out of fear of losing the beauty of what was.

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Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed? Yesterday was my day! But with my mattress on the floor, I didn’t have far to go.

Nearly every moment of the day, I was either close to tears or crying. I felt like a storm that left tons of puddles. My spirit felt crushed and my heart felt broken. Sometimes it is hard to believe how deeply I feel.

Over the course of yesterday and probably most any day, if I allowed myself, I could cry for all the injustices that have surrounded my life. I could also cry because nine spiritual souls were murdered in their House of Prayer. I could cry for the homeless people I see on every corner in Houston. I could cry for my perceptions of US and Israel politics. I could cry because I have some friends that are struggling with their lives. I could cry for the wildfires that are destroying land I love (and making life challenging for so many.) I could cry because I am missing one¬†very beloved soul that was in my life who for various reasons is essentially dead to me.¬†Yesterday was¬†one of those days that I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.

Raw intensity is absolutely a reality of my being. I love deeply; I feel deeply. When I allow myself the time and space, I am a very gentle soul that can usually manage all of my moving parts. Usually. Not always.

Yesterday was not a day for holding back my tears. I cried. I sulked. AND regardless of how I was feeling, I kept finding rainbows. Bright beautiful rainbows.  Nearly every moment of my day included beautiful ironies that imbued a sense of balance within my melancholy spirit.

  • As my eyes my opened this morning, I saw an absolutely beautiful photo taken by the amazing Jade Beall. All of Jade’s photos fill my eyes with tears; she has a way of capturing the most awe-inspiring women and children. Now that would have been enough, but then I read the words of an absolutely stunning woman who had never seen her beauty before she saw Jade’s photos of her. Both women were full of pure grace in my eyes.
  • After a little while, I read David Bedrick’s thoughts on self-love. In that moment, I wanted to skip it. I wasn’t open to the possibility. And then I read the Gregory Orr poem:

    Squander it all!

    Hold nothing back.

    The heart’s a deep well.

    And when it’s empty,
    It will fill again.

  • A short time later, also on David Bedrick’s discussion on self-love, I saw a photo of a mural that seemed to be reminding me how to live my life. Great message for the perfect moment. (see below)
  • One of my closest friends called.
  • After being told that one of my congregant’s dog was essentially afraid of his own shadow and does not go to anyone, Rocky couldn’t stop coming to me for love. I felt so blessed to receive this pup;s love!
  • Aryeh, my older son, called from where he is working at a camp in California. I am so proud of him for persevering the wildfires and¬†the¬†very rustic conditions that are a result of the wildfires.
  • A friend mailed me a fabulous book!!! I was so surprised and touched!
  • Dovi and I cooked a great dinner together.
  • On Facebook, I admitted how lonely I was feeling in Houston and people reached out. So many people reminded me that I was loved. In the end, new friends invited me into their lives and other friends helped make connections so that I wouldn’t feel so lonely. Now I will experience a chant group¬†tonight, Gay Pride over the weekend, and new friends¬†and new experiences over the coming weeks. I may even try karaoke with my new friends. ūüôā
  • I read a blog by Amanda Palmer who’s best friend just died. That opened up the floodgates and allowed me to cry. Remember, I was also in the midst of actively grieving my own¬†loss.
  • Students voted to take down the¬†Confederate Naval Flag at the¬†The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, SC.
  • I took a long walk with my dog and used that time to chant!!! Awe-someness!!!
  • And then there were the sayings that kept showing up guiding me how to live life with more grace and personal integrity. Here is the one that resonated, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. KEEP THE CHANNEL OPEN!”¬†As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille.
  • A couple of friends called and allowed me the safe space to feel and share what I was feeling.
  • While I was looking forward to the¬†Gratitude and Trust Summit or #gratitudetrust140¬†for today, I was so¬†grateful that late last night Jeff Pulver and I chatted on Facebook and he messaged me the info so I could log on to LiveStream!!! I am so fortunate to witness Jeff’s inspirational journey and how his visions impact¬†the¬†so many.

Reflection: Even as I struggled with intense sadness and pain¬†yesterday,¬†I kept finding blessings at every turn. And while, the blessings couldn’t heal me from my pain, they sure filled my spirit with light. Now that’s what I find ironic.

Just in case you may be wondering, rainbows make me cry too!!!

REMINDER:

Photo Courtesy of Joel Gunz-Portland, Oregon's Alberta Street

Photo Courtesy of Joel Gunz- ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Portland, Oregon’s Alberta Street

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