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Posts Tagged ‘conscious living’

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with
your one wild and precious life.”
– “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver

July - sun 1

Reflection Time Selfie

Each morning, I wake up and ask myself how I will walk through my day.  And each and every day, the answer is pretty much the same. I want to be a light with every step I take.

Now this isn’t as easy as it sounds. What does it mean to be a light? And what do I have to do to get there?

The second question is easier to answer, so I will start with that. In order to be a light to anyone I have to be a light to myself. That means before I reach out to the world around me, I have to go inward and care for my body, my mind, and my soul.  If I don’t take care of me, how can I be authentic with others?

Writing, listening to the others’ wisdom, moving and eating right are key. On a really good day, I will chant, meditate, or drum.  And on a great day, I will do it all! Breathing deeply and living mindfully takes an open heart and a willing spirit.

In fact, most of what I try to do is to live consciously. My entire being craves a conscious life. I want to live with integrity and authenticity.  So for the most part, I do that. AND every day I am learning, stretching, and growing. I am working to be the best me I can be.

Only after I navigate inward can I take an excursion outward.

So to answer the first question:  What does it mean to be a light?

A ready smile greets nearly every person I meet. I have a drive to touch people’s lives in positive ways. This feeling has emanated so deeply that years ago I even changed my last name to Gal-Or, wave of light.

Life has taught me that some of my best plans and my most amazing intentions need to altered due to reality.

When my older son was a teenager, he was plagued with a life and death journey which took over our family’s entire lives for over three and a half years. This meant that everything in my world changed over night and stayed that way until one day I realized he was thriving again!

Shortly after that episode, I woke up to a joyous pitter-patter in my heart. With an overwhelming realization, I realized that I am alive and ready to serve others again. Hineini! I am here!!

While I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, I slowly began to realize that the years of hell inspired me to live a little more like there may be no tomorrow. With that came a new zest for life and a deep passion in my kishka, my guts. Over the coming days, months, and years, that passion has become part of my life force.

Returning back to the Mary Oliver quote above, I have grown to trust where my heart and soul take me. Living a conscious life means that I have work to do not only for myself, but for others.

With each step I take in the world, I really do it with the best intention. That doesn’t mean it is always received with open arms, but it does mean that I am standing in the integrity that is part of my core essence.

Sharing my thoughts and values is the only way I know to inspire change and to empower others. That doesn’t mean that I am always right or that I don’t frustrate or anger those who feel differently. Everyday, I am challenged to stand in the light even when it isn’t easy.

With views that are often off the beaten path or different from mainstream thinking, I have to negotiate the world with kindness. I also have to make sure that I am educated and thoughtful as I navigate conversations and writing. And sometimes, I have to receive the passion of others.

While passion isn’t always full of light, my work is be the light and always remember that I want every “wild and precious day” to live consciously and thoughtfully.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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“It is not up to us to complete the task
(of repairing the world).
Yet neither are we free to desist.”
~Pirikei Avot 2:21

Making a difference matters to me. With every ounce of my being, I realize that taking care of not only myself, but my community and the larger world have to become the forefront of my existence.  While I have done my part, I truly believe I need to do more.

ChavaWithKippah21Nov2015

Don’t get me wrong, I know that I haven’t done nothing to make the world a better place. I have given many dogs a safe home for the remainder of their lives; I have opened my home to a homeless, pregnant woman and her toddler, as well as those that needed a place to stay for a long while; the environment and making conscious living choices have guided my every step; human rights is always being addressed in my shopping choices, my politics, and my teaching others. As much as possible, I walk the walk and I talk the talk. I’ve started a nonprofit and stood up for what I believed in.

I have also had years when I had to step back and take care of my family more than the world around me.  Those years were hard because I always felt like I wanted to do more, but that just wasn’t reality. There were years when I stood by my son’s hospital bed so that he would one day thrive again. And he did.  And the best part of that journey is that he now actively engages in the journey, as does his younger brother. We all do our best to make the world a better place.

Over the last few months, I have been settling in my new home in a new city, Houston.  As is often the case, many of us compartmentalize during transitions. I was no different.  But the last few weeks has created a sense of despair for me. Our presidential candidates have been talking about immigrants, refugees, and the Muslim people as if they were the lowest of human beings. I have hated watching victims turned into villains.

Politicians want to turn the Syrian refugees back to the brutality of their homeland.  How disgusting!!!!

Last night, as I was feeling despondent over the realities of the Syrian refugees, I received an email from MoveOn.org telling me about a local rally, Texas Stands With Syrian Refugees.

YES!!!

I couldn’t believe how driven I felt to go. Even the questionable weather didn’t matter.  Nothing could stand in the way of my desire to go to THIS rally. Over the last week, I have written letters, called politicians, but still I felt like I needed to do more and I also felt so alone with each task.

Earlier this week my older son asked me if we would do our part to help the refugees and I said ‘absolutely’. There is no question that I will help if I can figure out how.  I barely have what I need and yet I would open my home in EVERY way I could.  Our family may be struggling, but we really do have all of our needs met.

Over the last decade, I have stood up against domestic violence, Darfur, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, slave labor, and consumerism.  I have helped all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. I have also done my part to care for our environment and animals – although not enough.

But this past week pushed me over the edge. I found myself feeling such intense pain for those that need so much. Every fiber of my being was yearning to hang with people that believed as I did, people that wanted to help those in need of help.  So receiving the email talking about the rally was perfect.

In truth, yesterday’s action felt more poignant, maybe even personal, then many of the3 cultures 21Nov2015 other actions I have participated in over the years.

In case you are wondering why. . . . Back in the late 1920’s or early 30’s, my father’s family escaped from Kiev. Pogroms could have crippled his family, but they never actually succeeded. Instead my grandfather Yidel, his wife Esther, and their two children Jack and Phil made it to Canada where they survived and even thrived having two more children, my father-Morry and his little brother Sid. Had they not escaped, they would have potentially died or suffered great losses. While my father’s immediate family survived, there were many people that were left behind and some of those were killed because they did not have the ability to reach freedom.  As a matter of fact, there is no that we know of who was left behind or that has survived to this day. Between the pogroms and the Holocaust, the only family that survived were the ones that got away.

To make it simple, my brother and I are alive today because my father’s family got away.  Had my grandfather stayed in Kiev, my brother and I would never have been born.

Chava with Federico Salas-Isnardi and Donna Olson-Salas. 21Nov2015

From left to right, Donna Olson- Salas and Federico Salas-Isnardi with me at Texas Stands With Syrian Refugees Rally

What I am learning about our my socially active journey is that none of us could do what we do alone. Today, I connected with passionate people who were willing to do their part to make a difference. None of us are islands. With the political climate what it is today, I am so grateful for the new friends and my friends all over the globe that are doing their part.

“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

A few years ago, I created a nonprofit called My Second Foundation for adult survivors (or what I call thrivers) of childhood trauma. What I learned during the initial process of creating my organization is that you need a village. While I am only now starting to consider how to fully make my nonprofit thrive, I have learned that we all need to help those that are struggling. There is nothing acceptable about anyone suffering from violence of any type or poor health due to poverty.  We have enough resources in this world to keep people safe, so we all need to do our part.  It really is not optional.

And as for me, I am also choosing to do whatever I can to make sure that the human race does not perpetuate another genocide if at all possible. Haven’t there been enough?

Yesterday’s action seemed so simple, but with our current political climate and the ‘limited’ thinking of many, our village needs to stand firm and do WHATEVER we can to save a life. And let’s make sure there is NO QUESTION!

STAY LOUD. STAY CLEAR….REFUGEES ARE WELCOME HERE!

All lives matter!

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L I V I N G is holy work.
 
Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

 
Life is so profoundly full
My body craves less
My mind would love some emptiness
My heart desires just a little more.
 
Dance is the hidden language of the soul. (Martha Graham)
Stretching my entire being
Reaching for the stars
Allowing my body to sway to my own rhythm
 
Losing what I don’t need
Addictions, loved ones, and inner turmoil
Body weight, too much stuff, and lots of old stories
Wanting to celebrate what was
while letting go of what is no longer needed
 
Craving what I need:
Writing time
Creative experiences
and spiritual moments
 
Chanting
Drumming
Journaling
Moving
 
My body
My mind
My soul
Needs so much less and so much more
 
Each time I reach inward, I find more that I want
He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how. (Nietzsche)
My soul yearns to make a difference
My body and mind yearn to see the world through a different lens.
 
Let go of the old, make room for the possibilities
 
In front of me is a bridge
Only once I shed what I don’t need
Release what no longer serves me
Take one step and then another
Only then, will I be able to cross the bridge
 
L I V I N G is holy work
So I will do ALL that I have to do.
Hineini
Here I Am
Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

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Don’t be afraid to tread when you can’t really swim
Dance in the rain and find the rainbows when darkness prevails
Find the good in every challenge that crosses your path
And always soar and reach for your best.
(Excerpt: Sometimes Life Gives Us No Tomorrows
written by Chava Gal-Or)

Have you ever had those moments when your were furious about something only to find that you may be looking at the whatever is happening the wrong way?

One of the most significant practices of my life is to try to find light in the midst of life’s challenges.  I even changed my last name to honor the way I hope to walk in the world.  My last name Gal-Or means wave a light. Years ago I decided to acknowledge that I have mostly been able to find light in darkness or within troubling moments AND I wanted to remind myself to continue to walk the world in this way.  Having said that, I also realize that I am human, there are times when I have to take a moment and reflect.

Over the last few days I found myself reflecting that I really do need to pay attention and to take a deep breathe before allowing frustration to penetrate my heart and mind. As conscious as I am, I am taking a few minutes to openly share exactly how I find the good in the following scenarios.

  1. Accidents happen.  Often times I count my blessings when I am stuck in traffic; I find myself feeling relieved that somehow I was blessed to be running late and missing my potential role in the traffic accident which is just ahead of where I am.  At the same time, I pray for all that are involved in the accident; I never take spiritual or physical health for granted.
  2. Recently, I lost my position at Temple Emanu-El, a local congregation, because of their financial challenges.  For the most part I have chosen not to share the impact of that loss too fully; it wouldn’t serve me well. What I will say is that it hurt my spirit very deeply.  And yet out of the pain, I have come to grips with some spiritual and emotional needs  that I may not have faced so directly if I had not received my walking papers. Living consciously is a powerful gift that I am giving myself.
  3. A few nights ago, my son left all the lights on in the house.  Sigh.  I am so sensitive to light and it ultimately woke me up; I needed to wake up fully so I could turn off all the lights. 😦  To say that I was thoroughly annoyed is an understatement.  So, in order to distract myself and manage some of my agitation I went on Facebook to check out was going on in the world.  And what I found was a friend that was in serious crisis and needed me.  Two hours later, I was profoundly grateful that I could be there for my friend and to help her manage some intense darkness.  If it weren’t for my son’s mistake of leaving the light on, I wouldn’t have been there to listen and to offer some potential ways to navigate all that she needed to cope with.
  4. How many times have you been at a doctor’s office only to be stuck waiting an extra 30 minutes or maybe even an hour?  Well for nearly five years, we were blessed with doctors that didn’t rush my then teenage son through their office visit because they had other patients.  We also had doctors that created a slot for our son because he was too sick to wait.  After such a positive experience with so many medical practitioners, no longer do I get agitated when I have to wait.  Having a doctor that is compassionate and present when we most need him/her makes a world of difference to me.  Ultimately my son emerged healthy and vibrant, but the journey to get there was full of loving souls that really took the time needed to care of my son when he needed it most.
  5. While initially, I may feel frustrated when I get stuck in the Car Repair place or anywhere, but over the years I have come to appreciate the ‘accidental’ gift of time which allows me time to walk over to the coffee shop and take some time to write and people watch.  To me there is nothing better than having time to sit quietly and write and/or people watch.

We never do know what is on our horizons; life happens and so does death.  My job is to try to make the best of every moment.  Sometime the moment is all we have. . . .

Oct 20 - sunrise Pantano WashMay we all be blessed to find the light shining in the horizons.

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

 

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 26 Elul or 4 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of  difference you want to make.”
Jane Goodall
Primatologist, Anthropologist, and U.N. Messenger of Peace

~ ~ ~

(Note: Before you read this blog entry, know that I am fairly hard on myself.  I believe that everything I do in life can impact the world for good and for bad.  Every interaction I have with people or the environment can make a difference.  So I try to walk in the world knowing that I need to be mindful at all times.  And since I am being brutally honest, I try to surround myself with people that embody conscious living as they walk in the world.  I want to connect with people that believe in their power and actively want to make a difference for good.)

Everything we do matters.

AND we cannot sustain equal intensity in all areas of our lives.  Sometimes we have to decide what focuses we will have.  My hope is that each of us decide on 3-5 actions that can impact the world in positive ways.   And while I am at it, let me throw out the idea that living positively needs to begin at home.

Each of us will define home according to our own uniqueness.  For some of us, it is simply our own little family unit; for others, it could be their spiritual community; and for others, it could be their neighborhood, their community, their spiritual community, their ethnic group.. . .the list can go on and on.

Take a moment and consider what you can do in your life to make the world a little bit healthier than it currently is.  Below I will share a few things on my family’s list.

  1. Take a moment to smile or have a sweet verbal exchange with nearly everyone I meet.
  2. Make time for the people and things that jazz you.
  3. Always consider your carbon footprint.
  4. Conscious eating and shopping – organics, local, human rights, fair-trade
  5. Adopt rescue animals
  6. Recycle, Reuse – Try to obtain and pass on as much as we can at thrift shops, free cycle, Craig’s List, friends, etc.
  7. Share your views/listen to others’ views
  8. Listen to music that inspires living positively
  9. Connect with people who share our beliefs/values – interest groups (political, environmental, social, spiritual, human rights, etc.)
  10. Spread light

In truth, I am in the midst of thinking what I need to focus on so that I can make a positive impact in our world.  I am fortunate that I can do a ton, but I do believe it is time to focus a little more heavily in one area of my life.  I will let you know once I decide.

How about you? “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of  difference you want to make.”

With blessings & light,
Chava

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Feeling restless in Tucson. . . .

My mind never stops.  Never.  I seek, I reflect, I rewind, I consider and reconsider.  I love the way I walk in the world.  Mostly.

And that is just my mind.

Grappling with the life that surrounds me is not always about confrontation, it is about reflection and conscious living.

Alas, the time has come for me to silence my mind and allow my quiet to overtake my restless mind.

AND I am constantly moving.   Work. Dogs. Parenting.  Exerce. Did I say dogs?

Many journeys happen with these feet.

Many journeys happen with these feet.

This week, I found myself struggling with the constant motion in my world.  To be fair, I am coming off of an active period of work;  we found a new dog last Monday; and I don’t seem to have enough time to chill.

The good news is that I am acknowledging reality and looking for ways to quiet my restless spirit so that it becomes possible for me to walk a little more gently.

Part of quieting my mind is to quiet the constant inundation of information that is surrounding me.

  • Turn off Facebook
  • Stop texting
  • Give myself set times to connect online
  • Allow uninterrupted productive time
  • Exercise daily
  • Take time to chant, to read, and sit in silence

The time has come for my restless mind and my restless body to stop and become more present with what is.

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character. Author Unknown

Everything we do matters….

Reflection time. . . .  Over the last few days I have had moments for pause.  With the High Holy Day upon us, I have asked myself so many questions about how I walk in the world and have been honest about myself about I feel about the different interactions I have with not only those I know personally, but the world around me too.  Facing life head on takes courage; it isn’t easy.  But in order to be authentic with my own self, I need to openly reflect and seek understanding for what is, who I am, and who I am becoming.

Human Connections

I love people; I love interacting with nearly each and every person.  I am also sensitive about the interactions with those I adore and much less sensitive with those that matter less as a friend or loved one.  In the last few years, I have come to accept that my spirit can be crushed by the ending or a dark turn in a friendship.  Today, I also embrace the fluttering of my heart when someone walks into my life who I feel has always been there whether the connection is part of my life for an hour or a decade.  I am learning to accept what is.  Reflection. . . .

All of us have to reflect sometime. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Rockland

All of us need to reflect sometime.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Rockland

The first half of my life, I was blessed with some great people at times and many sweet interactions, but I haven’t always experienced deep connections with people.  While loving people deeply has added a beautiful layer within my life experiences, it can hurt too.  Sometimes I miss the life I lived before I felt or cared intensely.  I am not sure why some people touch me deeply and others less so.  The bottom-line is that I am learning to accept that relationships can be complicated and that has to be OK.  I am learning.

What I have learned is that people matter; they always matter.  Finding the beauty in each interaction is the gift I give myself.  Yes some touch me a little more,, but each and every one touches me.

Life Forces

We are surrounded by beauty, by trees, animals, cactus.  The earth is below me; the skies hover above me.  Life surrounds me.  And I am responsible to do my best with the world around me.  I believe that each of us needs to walk gently with the earth at all possible times.  When we have a choice, we should always be live consciously and thoughtfully.  The earth and the skies will be here long after we are gone; we need to remember our role in making that happen.

Last week, I had a conversation with someone who was perplexed why I didn’t want to make the trek with others up to Phoenix for a short meeting.  The  reason was simple to me, but not to this person.  One of many reasons I gave was because it made little sense to drive 4 hours for a 2-3 hour gathering.  His response was that the little things don’t matter, it is the big picture how we live our life.  I didn’t agree; I don’t agree.  Every step we take matters.  Does that mean I am perfect?  Not at all, but I am working on being the best I can be.

This morning, I read the status line that one friend expressed after having a car-free Sunday; this attitude makes sense to me.  May we all have car-free days!

Everything we do matters.

Eating

I am back on my health journey.  With each passing day, I make good eating choices and less than good eating choices.  When I make good choices, I feel great and my weight is easing down.  When I make less than good eating choices, my weight inches up and I don’t feel too good.

I am also becoming more conscious of the different considerations possible for each and every item I purchase.  While I don’t have the money to do everything I want, I do have the ability to make choices and to grow in a specific directions.  My considerations include, buy are not limited to:

  • organics vs. conventional foods
  • whole foods vs. processed foods
  • packaging
  • animal by-products vs. non-animal by-products
  • carbon footprint (local vs. distance)
  • fair-trade vs. slave labor/poor employment practices
  • cost
  • etc.

With each choice comes many layers of complexity worthy of consideration.  My job as a human being is to consider what goes into eating and to make the best choices as I move forward.  Over time, my hope is that I will better align my values with my food choices.

Reality

Yesterday, I drove an hour each way to be with a community that I adore that was having a traditional ‘memorial service’ that takes place during this time of year.  I joined the community to honor both those that have passed and those that are alive and thriving.  Did I have to drive over two hours? No, but sometimes I need to make choices that have many implications.  In this case, I did what was right!

When we live consciously, we make choices every day.   And every choice we make has an impact on the world we live.  And each choice comes with a cost to our health, our environment, our world.

May we all do our best as we walk in the world.  Everything we do matters.

Here is a small list of what I have been doing over the past weeks.  What are you doing that makes a difference for others in some way?

  1. After reading one of my blogs, a reader took the time to tell me how my writing touched her.  While that doesn’t happen often, the fact that it keeps happening keeps me inspired and writing.
  2. A couple of months ago I reached out to a man who might have single-handedly saved my life.   Approximately 33 years ago, I worked with a counselor who gave me some well needed to tools for taking care of myself.  While many of my friends were experiencing normal junior high trials and tribulations, I was struggling to survive a traumatic childhood and using mind altering substances to help me on this journey.  With the help of this one special man, I was able to make different decisions and while the next years were far from good, I made it!!!!Last month, I found him and told him.  The timing was great and in the end, I was able to touch his life when he needed it! I am so happy that I reached out.
  3. Every time I go to the grocery store, I smile at the cashiers, the baggers, the stockers – I love making them smile.  And when I go to the check-out stand, my phone always goes away so that I can interact with those around me.
  4. So often I notice trash on the ground and then I pick it up.  Why not?
  5. A friend called to tell me that they now by fair-trade chocolate because of our family.
  6. I have donated boxes and boxes of good items/books to those in need and to organizations that run thrift shops that benefit organizations that are doing good work.  As I simplify, I am hoping that others can benefit.
  7. Gave money to a friend who nearly ran out out of gas and asked her to pay it forward when the time was right.
  8. Saved a rabbit from a coyote!!!! 🙂

Everything we do matters.

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