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Mountain WomanLoving people can make your heart soar; losing people can shatter your entire foundation.

Over the years I have learned love isn’t the panacea for navigating the pain that I have endured, am enduring, and will endure throughout my life. Love isn’t enough to sustain me through dark moments or crushing disappointments. Love isn’t enough to help me navigate hard conversations or devastating realities. And yet, I, like most of us, still choose to connect and to love others.

And I do love deeply and with an open heart. I actually love with my entire being. Which means over my lifetime, I have experienced a lot of heart-ache as well as hurt a few people too.

When one of my dear friends recently said that “I disappoint no matter what I do”, I found myself taking a deep cleansing breath.  His words really struck a chord with me.

Suddenly I was aware that I have spent my entire life breaking hearts and struggling with what it means to exist the many dichotomies of life while honoring my spirit. In truth, I have found the rocky terrain to be crippling at times.

Standing between a rock and hard place means that my work is to do the next right thing day in and day out by:Heartbreak is Inevitable September 2019

  • loving fiercely
  • breathing deeply
  • speaking truth
  • honoring my soul
  • living authentically
  • remaining kind
  • walking gently

I wish living wasn’t so hard; I wish relationships could be easier. And sometimes they are easy. But when you love someone long enough, heartbreak happens. As I have learned to live my many truths, I have also experienced an evolution to some of my beautiful relationships. Connections have changed because we, as humans, are static.  As our hearts and souls change, so do the paths of our relationships. And since my personal motto comes from the words of Émile Zola:

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world,
I, an artist,

will answer you:
I am here to live out loud.”

I learned heartbreak for the first time from my father. I have no doubt that I was loved by my father. I felt that love with every fiber of my being, but he didn’t really do what it took to make sure I was safe. In fact, he let me stay in harm’s way.  As I got older my heart was shattered again and again by family members, lovers, and even a few friends. They were people who I thought would be in my life forever and who I believe loved me deeply, only when push came to shove they left me hanging.

And then there were those that I hurt because I needed to step back or say things that were painful to hear. My entire childhood was filled with tsunamis at every turn. It took me a long time to reel in my ability to create emotional tsunamis in my head. It took me a long time to know how to navigate hard conversations. Sometimes I still struggle because I am pretty damn sensitive.

Over time, I’ve come to understand that very few people will be in my life forever. Love changes. Relationships change. People change. Heck I have changed a ton over the years. If we are lucky, those we love deeply will stay in our lives even as relationships take on a different hue. This is something I have tried to do with old lovers, beloved friends, and even a few family members. Sometimes it works and sometimes my heart get’s broken. Relationships are so complicated.

I still feel devastated when I look back on my two beloved best friends who left my life when I moved to Tucson. It was a coincidence since one them lived in Ohio and the other in New York.  I still miss both of them and pine for those connections that are etched in my memory. Both were people that I could share my heart and soul with and both are completely out of my life today. It was a total coincidence that both friends left around the same time and for very different reasons, but the effect still squeezes my heart from time to time.

In my dreams, I believe in forever. AND in truth, I have some amazing friends that have been part of my life since my teen years and early professional years.  For my friends  Lisa, Linda and Louis, I don’t understand how they still love me and put up with me after decades. Since I tend to live out loud, they have seen me move around a lot, take a few different religious journeys, navigate my childhood memories, cope with serious illnesses for my children, divorce Michael, and so much more.

My closest friends know that I am not an angel and they love me anyway. They hold space for me to screw up, fall apart, and sometimes soar. I do the same for them. Recently, I emailed one of my soul sisters and let her know that I may not be able to make it to her daughter’s wedding because I am having a hard time coping with life in the present.  I expected her to be furious with me because my friend had been awesome to me over the years. While her initial response was short, it wasn’t unkind. Later she followed up and perhaps realized that I was really not in a good place. Isn’t that what beautiful connections are supposed to be.

Life isn’t easy. When we love deeply, we tend t say exactly what we are thinking and feeling; this often leads to dark moments in even the most solid relationships.  And then there are times when we grow and evolve from what we were when we first met. I have so many friends that have become grounded differently then I would have ever expected. My guess is that my friends would be saying the same about me. For those of us that are seekers and explorers, our world evolves whenever we learn new information from spiritual to more tangible. If you had asked me 30 years ago if I would be chanting and drumming as part of my spiritual practice, I would have giggled.  If you had told me that my political beliefs would put a wedge between me and others, I wouldn’t have believed it.

A broken heart though, that comes from having everything you believe to be true turned upside down. But what I know after years of broken hearts is that sometimes relationships can heal and new connections can be forged. And sometimes all we can do is say good-bye.

For me all sudden loss breaks my heart more than anything in the world. A friend who shuts the door on your relationship feels no different to having a friend die suddenly without warning. In truth, each time this happens, I have a harder and harder time forging new connections. I’m really not sure how any of us heal from a broken heart, but as I get older it is harder and harder to do so.

AND yet, I keep showing up at the table – again and again. Most of us do.

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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Life is really messy.

Around every corner there are ups and downs. Moments when you are soaring and moments when you are flopping around like a fish out of water. And if you are intense like me, it may feel like your life is bouncing around as quickly as some people can flip a coin.

Sometimes I wonder if I walk the world this way because my childhood didn’t teach me many tools for coping with life’s grit. And as a young adult and later a young mother, I learned to live as a chameleon. I buried many of my emotions and did what was expected of me. And for the most part I pulled it off fairly well. Or at least I think I did. Of course, what do I really know about how I was received by others.

To be transparent, my life has probably always been far from normal. As a young newly married woman, I faced nine miscarriages, several failed adoption attempts, an adoption, buried my parents, navigated serious illnesses for my children, employment struggles for the family breadwinner, and so much more.

Nonetheless, I engaged in living and doing whatever needed to be done to propel my family forward, support my community, and keep a smile on my face. I simply plugged away at living. I am not sure that I found it easy because interspersed with some really tough moments, but I had dinner on the table every night. We welcomed people into our home nearly every Shabbat. I cooked meals for those who were ill and organized our community to help families in the midst of health crisises. I even kept my home  clean, laundry done, and always held down a part time job.

I had an I can do ANYTHING spirit, only inside that is not how I felt. I used to wonder why everyone in the world could keep their houses clean, nurture their children, and have a full life.  Everyone seemed to do it with an ease that ALWAYS escaped me. It is only since I started following social media closely that I realized that I was never alone. All of us have our own personal struggles.

Fortunately social media, Oprah, and podcasts have helped me realize that I am so not alone in this very real struggle. Only over the last five or so years have I  been introduced to the wisdom of three people that rock my world as creatives because of how honestly they shared their struggles of living in the messy middle. They inspire people to:

  • Live in the “marvelous messy middle”. ~ SARK
  • “Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

And to understand:

  • “Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real.” ~Glennon Doyle

Each of these amazing women choose to share their personal journeys of living in the midst of life’s sometimes very challenging realities while being aware that moving forward doesn’t always present us with easy solutions for living according to what society deems “normal”. They continually inspired me (and still do) to show up in my world as authentically as possible.

Hiking BootsI feel blessed to now walk with ease in my own messy middle and the outer banks too. While it took me over fifty years to emerge fully as myself. I ultimately found my voice through writing, chanting, drumming, and only in the last year through painting little cards.  I am the woman I am because how I have chosen to navigate my own rocky paths.  I am so grateful that I learned to live out loud by sharing my life experiences without apology, accepting that I don’t fit into any box, and loving myself for who I am.

I have also done some really hard stuff including leaving the traditional Jewish community, moving cross country with my sons, divorcing my husband, and publicly changing my name when I realized my parents lost their right to name me.  I wanted a name that honored who I am today, so I gave myself one.  I am Chava Gal-Or. Chava means life because I am a woman who thrives regardless of what sh*t crosses her path and I become empowered by whatever life tosses in my direction. Gal-Or means wave of light; this is my reminder not only to be light, but to find the light in whoever and whatever crosses my path. Perhaps the hardest thing I am doing right now is sharing my life stories via my writing; I am not holding back, I am diving deep and navigating some really harsh realities that have lead me to rise as the woman I am.

Yes, I live in the messy middle. I feel deeply. I struggle to breathe when life overwhelms me. I often believe I don’t do enough to make our world a better place. I wonder if I love enough and do enough for my family, my work, my beloved friends, etc. I struggle with believing that I am worthy and yet I understand that the Inner Demon speaks loudly to me and it is my job to show up and keep showing up. On a good day, I quiet that voice and stretch my arms wide open to life. On a bad day, the demon wins, but I push forward anyway. I am learning.

Living in the messy middle has become a norm for me and I am OK with that. I am “perfectly imperfect” as Anne Lamott would say.  Hineini, Here I am!

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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Feb 2015  Walking from behind

I don’t think I am alone when I say there are so many things I used to fear and that there are many things that I still fear. . .

I used to fear being destitute with all that that would mean. But bankruptcy in the 1990s and a significant job loss in 2014 didn’t destroy my spirit. While both experiences were anxiety inducing, I found ways to change the tide and become grounded again. I learned to live better within my means and to trust the universe a bit more. Things are still not easy, but for the most part life financially work s (except when it doesn’t). My family really has what it needs.

I used to fear losing my husband and being alone to raise my sons.  Divorce after a long separation ended up empowering me to live a more authentic life and provided me with wings to fly.

I used to fear being traumatized by violence, but I not only survived serious childhood abuse, but I survived rape. Some may even say I found a way to not only thrive but to to help others navigate to a safer place whenever possible.

I used to fear loss, but since I live life as fully as I do. I find myself loving intensely and losing those I love sometimes through death, sometimes through abandonment, and sometimes through the realities of time and space. With each loss, I take the good memories and create new ways of living life more fully in the wake of those losses.  And I know that while the deep sadness may always inhabit a part of my heart, the ‘dance of life’ continues.

I have always feared for my children’s lives. After nine miscarriages and devastating illnesses, I still do. AND that doesn’t mean I allow the fear to infiltrate the way I live. Instead I open up my arms and reach for life with the many moving parts that that entails. And I (mostly) trust that my sons will take their own journeys.

As Émile Zola said, If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: I am here to live out loud!”

I know that I am blessed. Regardless of what has transpired in my life, I find the inner strength  to emerge as the woman I am. On more than one occasion my friends have referred to me a warrior. While I love that term, the term spiritual warrior resonates more deeply for me. All that I do, I do because of love.

Now for honesty, I have always emerged from fear. Always. BUT that doesn’t mean that I do not live in fear.

This past week, I have faced being stalked and feeling threatened by three neighbors. I have been forced to explore what I think about guns, how to handle the myriad of views about what is happening to me, and how to move forward.

Over the last week, I have had people tell me that I have asked for the violent energy by living my life as I do and I have had to wonder if maybe there was truth to what was being said. In the end, I am furious with those that think I should silence the way I live. That is not the world I live in; that is not the world I want to live in.

I am a writer, a protester, and an activist; I am a woman, an educator, and a dreamer. There is so much work to be done and I can not do it by walking in silence.

The man who now sits in the White House and surrounds himself with darkness needs to be held accountable for the way he walks in the world and the trauma he is causing humankind. So, while I am afraid of my neighbors, I have work to do.

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