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Note to Seeing the Door series:                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Wherever you go, possibilities surround you! By opening both your eyes and your heart, a door will always appear.

Have you ever noticed how many different types of doors exist in the world?  Nearly each and every door leads to an opportunity.  Some doors are physical; other doors are metaphoric.  All doors lead to opportunity.  

Words have power.

Words can heal; words can hurt.  Each of us have experienced the power that can come with words.

Healing with words can be life changing.  Healing happens when you sit across from someone who is hurting and you have an open and loving conversation.  Listening is a key to moving forward as is really speaking from your heart and saying what needs to be said.

Living honestly and walking gently have an awesome power.  As human beings, living in a place of warmth, kindness, and truth creates relationships that fuel our soul.  Personally, I try to spread sunshine with words; it really isn’t difficult.  It just means thinking before you speak and being conscious of the power of both your words and your mood.  If you really take the time to think before you speak, positive interactions will happen.  No question.

The beauty of my dog Maddie is that she loves always with good intentions and never speaks ill of anyone; we could all learn from her.

The beauty of my dog Maddie is that always loves with good intentions and never speaks ill of anyone; we could all learn from her.

Over the past months, I have seen the power of words time and time again.  What I have learned is intention is a powerful tool.  When you share your thoughts about people you know and people you don’t know, the words have the capacity to damage others.  When you do it with the intention of destruction, that is called lashon hara, otherwise known as the evil tongue or gossip.   Chofetz Chaim (a.k.a. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan) describes lashon hara as the potential to be both truth or lies.  Words can hurt; words can destroy; it almost doesn’t matter if they are truth or not.  As time has passed, I am watching lashon hara destroy people and hurt those around them.

The cycle of destruction is demoralizing to everyone that is part of the chain.  Those people that speak it, those folks that hear it and those individuals that the gossip is about. Lashon HaRa has the capability of literally bringing down each and every one of those that are part of the chain.    Sad and true.

Over the years, I’ve found myself contemplating how to handle truth that needs to be spoken for whatever reason.  What I have come up with is that the key to walking gently is to monitor your intentions.  Are your sharing because change needs to occur or are you sharing in order to be hurtful.  I often say what is on my mind, but my intentions are rarely to destroy, to hurt, or to create problems.   My intention is normally how can we move forward.  I really try to walk gently and spread sunshine.  And I am not perfect; I can still be better.

Lately I and many that I care for have become the object of manipulative conversations and slander; I am struggling with this reality.   Why was the Second Temple destroyed? Because of sinat chinam, senseless hatred of one Jew for another.  We haven’t changed as much as I would have hoped since the time of the Second Temple.  We are still in the midst of baseless hatred.  Instead of being reflective and looking at someone’s intentions, we tend to slander them and their beliefs or we spread lies and exaggerations.  Often there is truth in what is being said, but if you don’t look at the complete picture, you begin single handedly hurting communities and people you once valued.  We are all human beings.

As we move towards the High Holy Days and as we reflect on how we hold ourselves as human beings, may we remember to walk gently, trust the silence a little more, and let go of anger a bit more quickly.  May we remember that most of us have good intentions and do the best we can with the tools we have.  Learn to give the benefit of the doubt and believe that most folks have a kindness about them.

What have I learned about how I hold myself as I watch others? I have learned that there is power in silence; I have learned that words complicate truth; and I have learned that I have my own work to do.  Each experience I have with others leads to seeing new doors.

May we all learn to be more silent and believe in the good intentions of the people that exist in our lives.

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Over the course of the last several days, I have experienced many hours without a voice.  While it appeared to be challenging for others who had to communicate with me, I ultimately found peace in my own silence.  I loved having the time to sit quietly with my thoughts and to sometimes just be present without thinking at all.  I also loved quietly watching what was going on around me without having to connect to the conversations.  In the last few days I grew to love the silence and wish I could find more ways to put silence in my life.

no-talking1

In my silence, I have learned or reinforced many lessons that I already knew.

  1. Silence allows me the time to create a container for my own thoughts.  Sometimes the chatter that I engage in takes away my ability to be present and to trust my own thoughts and desires. The silence has given me the space to allow what is in my heart to resonate more fully within me.
  2. As a Youth Education Director, my voice is often used as a tool to lead people, to tell stories, to connect with my students, their families, and my teachers.  Losing my voice forced me to trust others to lead in ways that I couldn’t lead.  And guess what, while no one will ever be me, those that stepped up to the plate were awesome in their own right.
  3. Writing jazzes my soul! Now in all honesty, I have not felt well enough to write for a bit, but it helps to know that in theory I always have writing.  Laryngitis can never silence me!
  4. Words are not needed to convey thoughts.  Body language, facial expressions, and silence can be part of an entire conversation.
  5. My sons are awesome at reminding me to slow down or to stop entirely.  They have stepped up to the plate in many ways to make certain that I push myself less. Those that know me well know that I always push myself.
  6. Vulnerability is a reality of life.  Sometime illness takes away our ability to function; it also makes me realize how we sometimes need to rely on others.  I haven’t asked for too much help, but when I did, I felt supported.  Still acknowledging my own vulnerability has been painful.  It is what it is.

For me, losing my voice has essentially forced me to find my footing. Over the past few months, I have been going at a breakneck speed and trying to navigate many thoughts, emotions, and realities.  The last couple months have been especially tough in different ways.  I have always done what I needed to do, but at times I have been overwhelmed.

Laryngitis felt like a metaphor for some recent challenges.  Since moving to a totally new city, I have sometimes felt like my voice didn’t matter.  In part that was due to moving to Tucson where I am not quite sure how to navigate my politics nor do I have the time I want to do that which I love.  I am also working in a new community, this means that I feel compelled to listen and observe during the first year; perspective comes from seeing what has been done before making changes.  Moving also means that I have been so busy that I don’t have enough time to really connect with those that I have always been able to speak freely; I am missing what I have lost for the time being. And finally, I have two sons that have grown more independent and don’t always feel compelled to hear my thoughts.  None of these challenges are everlasting; they are present realities which will absolutely evolve over time.

With each and every gift, there are challenges.  Losing my voice has given me time to reflect and to make some decisions for how I will navigate my life a little differently.  Perspective has come from the silence.  Instead of me just speaking the words that come to me, I have had the opportunity to stop and take the opportunity to reflect before acting too quickly.  Much can be learned in the space between the words (spoken or written).

My hope is that I will create a little more silence in my life as I continue to navigate what life has to offer.

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Shemati. . . .

 

I used to love the word Shemati, I hear you. . .I’ve heard you. . . I am with you. . .

Chava'sEar

Recently I fell out of love with the word that had once centered me and helped me feel like I was totally present in a conversation that needed no response.  And then came a day, when I really wanted to be heard. I needed my voice to be heard, to be felt and to be listened to.  My feelings mattered; my thoughts were important; and my wisdom was worthy of considering.  And somehow I felt too alone to believe the one word that had once been dear to my heart.

When I said “Shemati”, I was saying I hear you; I am listening.  I meant it with all my heart. . .Shemati.  And in truth, I believe that others meant it and probably still do mean it when they say the word after I have spoken.

Still I am realizing that  something changed. . .

The day came when my heart and my body yearned to be heard deeply.  I needed my tears to be heard; I needed my heart beat to be felt.  I needed to be heard in a way that needed more than the word Shemati.

I used to feel that whatever I was saying was being heard and felt deeply. When others said the word Shemati in response to my words, I felt heard.  And when I said that word as a response to listening to another soul, it meant that I was being fully present in the conversation.

Becoming challenged by the word Shemati probably did not happen overnight.  I believe the first time I struggled with the word was the day someone kept trying to prove a point they were making.  At first I listened and I understood what they were saying even if I didn’t agree.  Each time I said Shemati they became more irate.  The fact that I heard them did not mean I agreed to what they were saying; it meant that I was respectfully listening.

Following that conversation, I realized that I was a bit uncomfortable with a word that was once full of positive meaning.  😦 I loved connecting with people by saying “I have heard you” or I am listening.  I loved feeling the warmth of that connection regardless of what the conversation was.

And then there was a day that I felt painfully alone and I needed to be comforted.  The word Shemati somehow reinforced how alone I really was.

I have grown challenged by the word that had once resonated deeply for me.

Even as I struggle with the word Shemati; I know that it is my job to find the power behind that one word once again.

Listening to others and really hearing what they are saying is the gift we give not only the person who is sharing, but ourselves too.

Debarti – I have spoken

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