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“If you ask me what I came into this life to do,
I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”
Quote by Émile Zola

Twenty years ago, this saying became an unspoken mantra. A part of me believes that finding this quote empowered me find my voice as woman,  a mother, a friend, a teacher, and mostly as a creative soul that needed to be heard.

Before that time, silence seemed to permeate the core of my being.  And then one day, I woke up and I found a little more of my voice. I learned to write after a very long and painful hiatus. A local magazine wanted to publish the story of our son Dovi’s miraculous adoption. Somehow I found the courage to speak up and let the publisher/editor know that I was the one who needed to write this story; she loved the idea and with that I found my first and most gentle editor. Eventually that story was picked up by a couple of other magazines.

Finding my voice was a long but beautiful journey. With each step, I felt like a butterfly opening to the world with a sense of awe. I literally fluttered from flower to flower. Each flower gave me just a little more nectar to fuel the journey towards self.

And then in 2002, I took a giant leap of faith and left the cocoon of the Orthodox world that I had lived for nearly fifteen years. The journey was lonely and overwhelming. I lost close friends in that transition or should I say transformation? But I did it!!! I listened to the voice that nudged me to create a new life for myself (and eventually my family) and to find a new home for my spirit to rest. It didn’t go far; I found a home in a progressive Jewish community that nurtured my spirit and grounded me in tradition while allowing my creative energy to flourish.

As time progressed, I started to stretch in other ways too. I started thriving as an educator, a blogger, an artist, a chanter, a storyteller, a drummer, a mother, and today as an activist or maybe just a human being. The more I grow the more my spirit yearns to expand my roots as I also reach into the universe that surrounds me.

Now that I have my voice, I embrace all of life with more passion. When I am happy I sing out loud regardless of who is close by; when I feel the need to write, I stop what I am doing and I write; when a picture comes into my head I doodle it. The more doors open, the more ready I am to receive the gifts that continue to flow through me.

A raw intensity has taken over the quiet person that once lived in my body.  My soul gravitates towards life. I am alive and I crave this aliveness that emanates from all life forces.

Sun rise New Zealand May 5 Jai-Jagdeesh

Photo Courtesy of Jai-Jagdeesh via Instagram: jaijagdeesh

This New Zealand sunrise by my “social media friend” left me with tears in my eyes. I found Jai-Jagdeesh through her music, but today I have fallen love with her words, her wisdom, her photos. My hope is that one day have the opportunity to experience Kundalini Yoga with her as my teacher. (Of course, I may have to wait until I complete my healing journey from back surgery.) When I hear her, I feel a fire igniting me towards  self-care and tikun olam (repairing the world).

Meanwhile a heartfelt hug reminds me that the void of love I experienced as a child is no longer with me. When any of my nieces or nephews say “I love you” even though I haven’t seen the since they were little. . .I melt inside, but feel immense gratitude that my beloved brother and sister-in-law have kept me alive in their eyes.

Nothing in my world is taken for granted.

The more authentic and grounded I become, the I am able to “live out loud” and to love.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

Today, I openly love with ever fiber of my being.  I often wonder if I take in the world on a cellular level. When I allow myself to breathe deeply, I find myself connecting with all that I see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. All of my senses are more alive than I could have once imagined.

While love may sometimes change, I love deeply; I love forever. . . My intensity overflows each and every time I see those I adore.

And I have learned to always speak from the deepest part of my soul just in case a door closes suddenly. ….because doors do close suddenly and without warning.

May I be blessed to always “live out loud” with an authenticity that rooted in grace.

Namaste (May the spirit in me honor the spirit in you),
Chava

Note: This entire blog was inspired by:

Love Openly. . .you never know

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(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun - Easel

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun – Tucson, Arizona

There is one way that you will know if I am in a spiritually grounded place. Just one. . . . . If creative projects fill my time or even my mind. I am probably exactly where I need to be.

As long as I am taking time to write, drum, paint, doodle, chant, or move, you can assume life is good. AND when I take time to go to museums, check-out cool neighborhoods, or people watch, you can also make an assumption that I am doing well.

My spirit needs to share space with sizzling energy and emerging innovations.

Creative souls jazz my world. If someone is passionate about some form of creativity, I usually fall in love with them, energetically that is.

Over the years, I have often found myself tearing when I witness beauty or creativity. I can’t seem to stop the release that comes when I see or hear something that deeply touches me.

When I lived in Tucson, I used to go to the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun which was literally around the corner from my house. Every time I saw the easel above, I would want to curl up into a ball and weep. I believe that some of that comes from my sadness that I want to be more of an artist than I am, but it is also because I adore that worn look and obviously beloved easel.

In the last several years, I have begun to go to museums alone so that I can take the time to fully appreaciate the energy  (and yes cry without navigating the reaction of others). Most recently, I have felt the incredible wave of emotion nearly everytime I see one of Mark Rothko paintings or when I go to the Rothko chapel close to where I live in Houston. I am not such an art connoisseur that I understand exactly why I have this reaction, but nonetheless it is what happens. Another time, many years ago, I couldn’t contain myself when I was at a Salvador Dali exhibit in Philadelphia.  The only  way to explain what seems to be happening is that my heart simply breaks open.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Quote by Henry David Thoreau

May we all me inspired by the beauty not only surrounds us, also what comes from within.

Onward with love & light,
Chava

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(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)

Chava's Shadow 17January2016

Over the last many years, I have found myself struggling with communicating my thoughts and my feelings within close relationships. While intellectually, I know that I am articulate, the inner child in me has had to cope with feelings of inadequacy and feeling like I am sometimes invisible.

In truth, I understand why this is. This has been a reaction to losing a couple of my closest friends who didn’t want to hear my voice any longer. I may never know the full story, but it probably doesn’t matter. It is what it is. At the time, those experiences triggered memories of my childhood. During those early years, I learned that that I was insignificant; no one heard my cries or helped me in any tangible way. So I learned to hide behind the shadows. Sometimes that is still my safe space; sometimes I still go there.

What’s beautiful is that there is a part of me that understands how articulate I am. And there is another part of me that knows that my thoughts mean something to my family, my friends, and my community. My holy work is to fight the demons that try to silence me.  You know the voice in your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough to share your thoughts; or that voice that reminds you that you are showing too much passion. My job right now is to stop that voice from affecting how I communicate.

 

Moving to Houston just over 16 months ago has contributed so much to my healing from loss of loved ones. It has also helped me to see that I have not been silenced by those closest to me unless you count me.

People want to hear my thoughts, my stories, my ideas, and most don’t mind hearing me fumble with words. I don’t always have to be articulate.

Over the last year I have listened to Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert. I love these podcasts that have inspired me to honor my creative soul and was especially touched by Episode 205 that I heard earlier this week. In it, Liz shared that our words are “better out than in.” While my passion sometimes feels unweildy, it is always intensely real and from my heart. As long as I remember that sharing my voice is like speaking my truth, I can ride the waves of life with a little more ease.

Plus it came at a time when I am planning to share more of my stories and ask others to share their stories of childhood and life traumas. I am starting a project in which I collect stories of positive souls that have had to overcome harsh traumas. I want to hear how people navigate the darkness and ultimately find light.

Hearing the podcast felt like a huge punch into my gut because it helped me to realize that I have been minimizing my voice instead of sharing it with the passion that is part of me. The good news is that this didn’t happen all the time, but it happened too much. So as I get ready to address some hard stuff in my writing and storytelling, and even within my personal relationships,  it is ok for me to also say that “it’s really scary for me to let this out, but I’d so much rather it come out all wrong than stay in all wrong.” My voice matters.

Being emotionally honest is how I navigate the world. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Onward with light & love,
Chava

 

 

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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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“Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.
Quote by: Wendell Berry

(Prologue: I have grown to love life and tire of people wondering if I am for real.  I am. I am human, but I am a thriver. Regardless of what is tossed my way, I will be ok. Always. I have a choice on how to move forward and I choose . . .)

Life happens.

With every breath, I get to decide how I will emerge and how I will face the holy world that I have and will continue to experience.

Struggles have been a part of my life – never by choice. In response, I have made a conscious decision to NEVER allow them to define who I am.  The trouble is that there are some people see my life as really hard and need to focus on just that. I see my life quite differently – full and blessed. The gifts have come in all shapes and sizes. Each passing moment has lead to new adventures – some simply divine, others challenging, and still others painful.  Yet, regardless of what has transpired in my life, I have come to find the treasures that have made me the person I am.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a work in progress.  I have had days that leave my heart broken with endless tears falling. But those days have been far and few in between.  When I look back at the trials and tribulations that I have endured, I choose to see the beauty that is often a consequence of life’s difficulties.

Life happens.

During some of the segments of my life, I have faced a few too many arduous junctures.  Ultimately, each has led me to find inner peace, phenomenal opportunities, and many open doors.  I am who I am because I have always found light, maybe not instantly, but eventually.

The last few years have had a few challenges. I recovered from the nightmares that plagued me once my son recovered from years of serious illness, I navigated professional challenges that left me jobless, and I treaded life’s waters as a single mother. Regardless, none of it destroyed any part of me. In response, I have found that I have special friends, people that will help me in countless ways. Struggling alone has never happened for me. My amazing friends have nurtured not only me, but my precious sons too.  Whether I needed emotional support, financial help, or a hand, my friends have been there for me.

Through it all, there is a inner joy that sustains me and allows me to thrive.  When I smile, my entire body feels the reverberations; no wonder, I am drawn to feel happy. I want to share my excitement with every one I meet and sometimes I am lucky enough to do so.  I am not certain where I found the inner joy that sustains me even as I navigate tough realities, but I have.  Yay!

Creatively, I am becoming the person I want to be.  My writing soothes my soul and confronts life’s storms.  Over time, I seem to have impacted others with my words. Wow. . . how sweet is that?  And I have also taken up drawing and painting (just a little); I even have a new piece of artwork that I have been creating.  None of this would be what it is if I hadn’t experienced life in the ways I have.

Educationally, I have learned to trust myself as an educator and to push myself to make more of a difference to those that I mentor and teach.  Only once I believed in myself fully was it possible for me to create and then share my creations with others.

And spiritually, I have found my voice.  Whether I am drumming, chanting, praying, or hiking, I find that I am becoming connected with the earth in profound ways.  I have grown to love how I walk within the world.  Sometimes I find myself dancing, and moving in ways that I have never done before.  I am alive, fully alive.

Nothing has ever destroyed my spirit. Even when I have had moments that I felt broken, I emerged stronger with tools that allowed for healing of my heart, my mind, and my soul.

A long time ago, I learned that while the world is sometimes dark, my spirit is full of light.  I always have the ability to choose to see the light and if I am really honoring who I am, I can be the light.

Only when I live in the light will joy exist within me.  So, I guess I need to choose light; there is no option.

Sunset near Pupukea Hawaii; Photo coutesy of  Kathleen Kendle

Sunset near Pupukea Hawaii; Photo coutesy of Kathleen Kendle

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Note: I am not a yogi, not really; still I have learned from the wisdom of my many yoga classes.  With each breath, I should breathe deeply as I reach towards the heavens and the earth. This allows my blood to flow as the energy moves to where it needs to move.

With the concept of reaching in mind, I want to share one of the strongest metaphors of my life.

TreesFromAbove

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Libowitz

Looking at the nakedness of a tree in winter, I wanted to share some stream of consciousness that is deep inside of me.  It all started with a song.

My Roots Go Downwords and music by Sarah Pirtle, © 1979 and 1989 Discovery Center Music BMI

Chorus:
My roots go down, down to the earth.
My roots go down, down to the earth.
My roots go down, down to the earth.
My roots go down.

Love the chorus to the song My Roots Go Down – I once did a workshop where we all wrote our own verses. The metaphors that were created by the different groups were both meaningful and deep.  With that in mind, I wanted to make myself naked like the trees for a moment.  I want you to know where my heart and head are in this moment.

My version #1:
I am a woman, intense as can be.
I am a woman seeking to be me.
I am a woman creative in my soul.
 I am a woman.

My version #2:
I am a writer sharing from my heart.
I am a writer creating my own art.
I am a writer striving to be clear
 I am a writer.

With each word, I am stretching myself and hoping that my roots go down and become rooted to the earth as they reach out to the heavens.  I want my words to matter.

Today, I touch those I meet with my soulful energy.  I have so much to give and many receive it and crave it.  That hasn’t always been the case; during much my life, I was a chameleon.  I would blend into world around me.  What I thought didn’t matter-it didn’t.  The good news is that I didn’t always realize it until later when I looked back.  Learning from my past experiences only strengthen my roots today.

So, I stand tall and proud, I now know that my energy reaches out into the world.  When I walk into the room, people often smile.  When I post a blog or a positive status line on Facebook, my written words count.  And with each relationship, I build stronger roots and develop stronger branches to reach out into the world.

I am a woman.  I am a writer. I am a mother.  I am so many things.  I am someone who strives to have integrity with each and every step.  Sometimes I succeed; other times I fail.  After all, I am human.

My roots go down. . . .

With Blessings and light,   Chava

P.S. – May we all strive to make our roots healthy and as our branches emerge to towards light.

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