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Posts Tagged ‘doors’

“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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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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Inca trail to Macchu Piccu -Credit Lauren Rader's Art and Releasing the Creative Powers Within Classes

Inca Trail to Macchu Piccu; Photo Credit: Lauren Rader

A year ago I was in a very different place. Even though I was able to do what I needed to do, I was despondent and not sure how I would muster the strength each day to not only sustain my family, but to create that which would jazz my soul.  I was struggling with all of life’s moving parts.

With a baggage of regret and deep sadness, I began a trek that would lead me to dig deeply in hopes of finding a better direction for my life. With the help of friends, I packed up a storage space with most of my belongings in Tucson and my family moved to a friend’s house between no-where and no-where else in Louisa, Virginia.

Over a tough period of time, I navigated so much loss – job, friendships, and a sense of belonging.  I also questioned whether or not it was time to leave a profession I loved. Today I can look at most of the losses a little differently than I did at first. The best things about closed doors is that you know EXACTLY where you stand.

Each and every step of the way, gifts emerged when I least expected it. When I couldn’t afford groceries, provisions and/or money showed up; other times friends showed up in unexpected ways. Even part time jobs found their way into my life, I, quite literally, had what I needed to care for my sons – ALWAYS. And when the sink busted at my friends house, a neighbor saved the day. And when the toilet busted. . . I saved the day! I really did learn what it meant both ask for help and to rely on myself.

Throughout the journey my sons, Aryeh and Dovi, grew and evolved. It isn’t my place to tell their stories, but I am so proud of the young men that they became. Both of the guys navigated the best way they knew how. And we did it as a family!

Funny how looking back is hard now and yet it was nearly impossible to look forward when but when life was the toughest.

If I am completely honest with myself, my struggles began nearly three years ago when I realized my move to Tucson was professionally not a good move. In retrospect, it was a great decision because that move probably got me to where I am today. I believe that all that happens in life makes up where we are in this moment. If so, Tucson’s toxic work environment made me stronger and more clear in what I wanted for my life. It also gave me some amazing connections and allowed me to more clearly see the many beloveds in my life.  Wow!!

I don’t know how to thank each person/family that gave me money to sustain myself or those that enabled me to find rewarding work along the way. Many guardian angels gave their love, their time, their skills, their money, and their prayers or positive energy. When my computers died, a refurbished one showed up. When I needed enlightenment, an inspiring book showed up. When my car died (many times), people helped. When my tears were falling, music propelled me to new heights. All of this happened because of the graciousness of those that believed in me. Even as I write this, tears are welling in my eyes. I may still be struggling, but life is AWEsome. Because of so many, I am blessed and thriving (and my sons are too)!

Today I am working in a community in Houston that warms my heart and inspires me to stretch; together with so many others, I am working to create an amazing learning environment for all.  I am also starting to plan how to birth my nonprofit, My Second Foundation, which will create retreats for adult survivors of childhood trauma. And I am finally taking steps to make a difference in the world. Human rights for all has always been a driving force, so now I am actively engaging in actions that I believe will make a difference. At least, I am able to show up for all of life.

In my free time, I am doing so much to nurture my spirit. I am working with a beloved friend Rabbi Jill Zimmerman who has created Hineni: The Mindful Heart Community. (Check out http://www.ravjill.com/hineni-the-mindful-heart-community/ and consider joining this group, it is simply empowering.) I am also writing, drumming, chanting, and connecting with the earth. I am endeavoring to honor the person I am by allowing my energy to flow. I am also becoming more authentic with each step I take.

So while the last years have caused me to reflect and to climb many mountains, they have also enabled me to shine and to emerge as the woman I am.  I am finding balance and hopefully allowing my spirit to better shine.

Loving the universe. Feeling the blessings. Treasuring what is.

May I always find the AWEsomeness in life’s gifts and challenges. May I always see my guardian angels.

O N W A R D!!!!
Chava

(Note: My hope and my prayer is that I am as loving a soul as so many have been to me and my family.)

 

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Learned Wisdom – from My Daddy

BeKind

My daddy, of blessed memory, use to talk to EVERYONE. I loved that about him. He showed me by example that regardless of what mood I was in that it was incumbent upon me to connect warmly with each and every person.

With my father as my guide, I always aspire to live up to his example. As a result:

  1. I always have a smile for those I face.
  2. Whenever possible, I hold the door open for whoever is behind me and behind them.
  3. If someone needs help, I don’t walk away or act like you don’t notice.
  4. Cell phones have their place; they should not be used in grocery store lines or any time it detracts from making connections with strangers. (Note: Dad died before cell phones were smart.)
  5. Take a moment to share a kind word, a kibitz (chit chat), a story with others.

There really is no option for taking a moment, to reach out and try to impact someone’s day.

May we all remember that kindness matter.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – The bells in the photo above come from one of my favorite places in Tuscon, Ben’s Bells. The mission of Ben’s Bells is  to inspire, educate, and motivate people  to realize the impact of intentional kindness, and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby strengthening ourselves, our relationships and our communities. For more information go to BensBells.org.

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July 24

A few weeks ago, I realized that I was falling in love with myself.  For the first time in my life, I have come to accept where I am, my own unique beauty, and the many realities that are me.  There is no man telling me that I am beautiful; there is no job that affirms my self-worth; and, I am a human being with deep loss and a violent past that has made me who I am today.  I am a mother, a sister, a friend, and lover of life; I am a woman.  And through it all, I have grown to deeply love who I am and how I walk in the world.

My entire childhood was surrounded by the barrage of angry words and mannerisms that showed me of my unworthiness.  One of my first memories was when my own mother tore my pajamas off and beat me.  She was the one to tell me that I was fat and ugly; she was also the person who believed that I was ‘retarded’ and limited in every way.  While I had a loving brother and a loving father, they never could make up for the damage that penetrated my earliest days.  And yet, knowing that I was loved was still a blessing.

Protection rarely came as I prayed and hoped it would, but it did come.  As a young girl, I was sexually abused at the hands of a neighbor and then raped by a man that was supposed to protect me from my family.  He didn’t.  Violating a child at any age can rip her spirit and shred it into nothing more than confetti.  And yet, even with those realities, I found my footing with an amazing therapist, a loving brother, and a strong inner core.

I grew up; I am still growing up.

A white picket fence has never been part of my life.   That doesn’t mean that I didn’t experience a loving family as an adult or many precious experiences throughout my life.  I am truly fortunate.

My body has been both my protection and my tormentor.  It has kept me safe even as it has suffered pain and defeat.  Each scar is very real.  While I have birthed one amazing baby (who is now 21 years old), I have lost at least 9 pregnancies by treating each as a toxic impurity that needed to be destroyed.  Thanks to the universe, one child survived.  A C-section, a hysterectomy, many laparoscopic procedures, exploratory surgery with a resulting appendectomy are part of my many physical scars.  And then there are the scars that no one will ever see, unless I choose to share.  Yet my body did protect me.

Chava with her first fruits

Chava with her first fruits

My heart beats strong; it has supported me at every turn.  My heart allowed me to run non-stop as a teenager and young woman; by running I was able to leave the world of drugs and stupidity behind me.  Each and every heartache could have destroyed me, but my writing kept me alive and gave me the room to sort out my pain and heal.  The strength has always come from my heart and allowed me to soar as a human being.

In spite of some of my challenging experiences, the parts of me that were once full of pain have become filled with beauty.  When I was a little girl, my mother chopped my beautiful hair off (perhaps for a reason, but I don’t recall).  Over the years, my hair has become a part of me that I have grown to love.  The texture, the curls, the wildness are all part of what I have grown to see as quite stunning. My body has received emotional and physical beatings at every stage of its life until now; today, I have come to not only accept all of my parts, but to see how precious and lovely they are.  And finally, I do not see myself as brilliant, I used to hate that I couldn’t figure things out like other people.  I wanted to have a mind that could do whatever I needed to do, but today I have learned to ask for help and to figure out that which I can.  In fact last night, I learned how to add a Hebrew keyboard to my iPhone.  I know that seems like small potatoes to some of you, but to me it was huge.  There is nothing about me that is retarded, there are things I can do well and things that I have not yet mastered. The very facets of my life that had once caused me pain have actually become what has helped me find my inner and outer beauty.

Over the years, I have learned to treasure who I am.  My writing has allowed me to touch people in positive ways and to make an impact for good.  My dreams to positively affect people are coming true over time; I have people in my life that I value and that value me.  And today, my dream of growing my non-profit called My Second Foundation for adult thrivers of childhood trauma is starting to take shape.

I am finding my inner and outer beauty.  Today, I look at some photos (mostly selfies) and see a beautiful woman.  I am a little stunned that I can see myself as beautiful.   I no longer cringe when I see all the photos of me.

While I would love to have a career that will financially sustain me as well as give me the opportunity to be fully me, I am strongly aware that my job doesn’t necessarily define who I am.  Today, I help people in ways that I never knew I could.  As a care-giver, I help people at the most challenging time in their lives as they are aging and sometimes losing their mental abilities; I do make an impact for good.  This is not what I ever planned to do, but it is a blessing that I can be where I am today.  And today, I have been given windows of opportunities to do things that allow me a greater understanding of me and what I hope to one day accomplish.  I am not bound or limited by the expectations I once had.  In fact, I know that when I take a new position in Jewish education, non-profit work, or in something I have yet to see coming my way – the decision will allow me to be impactful and to touch lives professionally or as an activist.

 

Doors have never been closed to me; they are and have always been wide open.  I just have to be aware of the opening and to decide which side of the door I should stand or whether standing in the doorway is exactly what I need.

I love being loved, healthy relationships, and feeling beautiful in another person’s eyes.  AND I know that while I treasure that, I don’t need someone else in order to see each and every square inch of me as loveable, precious and worthy.  (OK, I’d love to lose my double-chin and it is time for me to deal with the excess arm fat, but neither of those things makes me cringe.)  My body, all of my body puts a huge smile on my face because all of it is part of who I am.  I feel blessed to have the ability to care for myself and to work on whatever parts of my body I want to.  While I want to have a man to hold and treasure me for who I am, I don’t need another person to label me in order for me to have self-worth.

Yoga gives me many of the tools I need to create a stronger and healthier yesod (foundation).

Yoga gives me many of the tools I need to create a stronger and healthier yesod (foundation).

My vulnerabilities are also part of who I am.  I am far from perfect.  My writing gives me the space to develop my ideas and share the real me.  I look forward to the time when I can financially and physically return to a regular schedule of yoga with a class that is safe for me to grow physically and spiritually. I’d like to lead a chant group or another spiritual group so that I can share all the tools that have made me who I am today; I am deeply introverted even if people see me as an extrovert.  I struggle with the fear that I won’t be articulate or that I will be laughed at for my spoken words.  As a young girl, I needed 9 years of speech therapy in order to be fully understood.  Whether I like it or not, that is still part of who I am.  My voice matters and I love sharing who I am through my voice – written or spoken.  I hope that I always continue work on myself and be the best that I can be.

I am who I am because of the many parts of my life that made me that way.  Today, I have a beloved family consisting of my sons, my brother and his family, and friends that love me for who I am and who I also love.  I am beginning to realize that I don’t have to be anything less than what I am with each of the individuals that I call my family.  There are also other people in my life that have taught me valuable lessons at every step, not all are friends; but each person has impacted me deeply.  I am blessed.  The people around me are a reflection of exquisiteness that can be found within my essence; perhaps I have grown to be as charismatic as those I adore for who they are.

I am emerging as a butterfly after feeling surrounded by a loving cocoon called life.  I am thoroughly beautiful, inside and out.

Arms spread

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“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all of my heart.”

~Vincent Van Gogh

 

A long time ago I realized that I always have a choice on how to navigate my life’s journeys.  And while it may take a little time to decide how I will ultimately maneuver, I absolutely still have a choice.  And yes sometimes I have to simply allow myself to feel before figuring out a plan.

Two years ago, I came to Tucson for a position that I had hoped would be great for my soul and maybe even take me into retirement.  Eighteen months later, my dream job went to half-time and then the position was eliminated six months later.  Financial challenges for my employer was the ultimate reason that I was left without a position,  Regardless of the reason, it still left my sons and I in a part of the country that we had few friends and now little money to support ourselves.  And it also left me with an opportunity to actively explore what options I have for my next chapter.  (Note: While my sons are living with me now, I realize that as I type this that they are emerging into adulthood.  I love watching them grow and look forward to seeing how they evolve.)

Yes, the journey invokes some fear and at the same time it mostly inspires me to seek the possibilities that will honor my essence.  How cool is that?  With each passing day, I can consider what doors I will go through or whether or not I will simply sit in the doorway and get a taste of what could be.

With each step I have taken in this journey, I have been touched by the generosity of a few awesome friends and the love and caring of many others.  One friend gave me a job to help support myself as I look for a position that would allow me to not only survive financially, but thrive as a human being.  Another friend gave me a computer that he rebuilt after my computer stopped working.  One dear friend gave me a substantial amount of money to fix my car and a few others have offered to help if need be. And other folks have helped me improve my resume, given me an ear, and found little ways to show they care.  There seems to be no shortage of ways that my friends are willing to help; in truth, some of the love is sometimes overwhelming.  

Amazingly, I am really OK and my sons are good too!!!  Going through each and every emotion is what needs to happen; sometimes I am focused and sometimes more distracted.  Life is moving forward and I am not only hanging on for the ride, I am making decisions all the time.

The great news is that overall I am really happy taking this journey.  It isn’t easy, but I am actually forcing my to look deeply at who I am and what I want in my life.  The obvious options or ideas are not necessarily the given paths for me any longer.  I am open to finding the best place for me to go whether it be for long or short term.

Catalina Mountains remind me to keep climbing. :)

Catalina Mountains remind me to keep climbing. 🙂

Every morning, I see the beauty of the Catalina Mountains outside my bedroom window.  As I gaze to the north, the mountains appear like a metaphor reminding me that I can always keep climbing the mountain and striving to become the best person I can be.  

Not only have I taken this time to explore what to do for a living, I have also considered where I want to live, what I want to own, how I need to evolve creatively, what writing projects would give my life more meaning, how to live more consciously and healthy, who I want in my life, and how can I serve the world I live in the best way possible.  There are so many options to consider and so many ways to navigate this journey.

The choices I make now may not be the choices that stay with me forever – that is truly fine.  The key is to explore each option and at some point let the universe open up for me as it will.  Living as authentically as possible feels like the best way to emerge with inner peace.

I am starting to learn a little more about what I love, what and who I need, and what jazzes my soul.  At this point, I can’t share too much because I am just letting it resonate inside of me.  Once it takes root, I can’t wait to let you in.

Every night, I look up to the skies and I watch the cycle of our beloved moon.  Watching the moon’s cycle, reminds me that life is full of cycles too.  And I am going to continue to embrace my exploration for all the days of my life. 

Let the journey continue. . . .

 

 

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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.  

Know your non-negotiables and honor them.

Over the years I have learned to walk alone.  I am not a loner, but I do value following the quiet voice that guides me without the interference of others ‘enlightening my sorry soul’.  In truth, most of the people I have crossed paths with really do enlighten me and help me gain a better understanding of whatever issue embodies my mind at any given minute.  Just the same, I have come to appreciate the learning I do from others while synthesizing the information silently.  Ultimately, I have to think for myself and come to my own conclusions.

Of course, many of the issues that encompass my brain don’t allow for my silence (even if I wish I could be silent).  Some of the issues I consider on a daily/weekly basis include:

  • Modern day slavery
  • Creating a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine
  • Honoring children (educationally and spiritually)
  • Giving a voice to those that have experienced trauma
  • Being innovative with Jewish education while engaging them where they are
  • Caring for the environment and thinking about our carbon footprint
  • Human rights for all (skin color, religion, sexuality, gender, etc should never be a factor)
  • So much more. . . .

In short, our guts tend to tell us what is right and what isn’t as right. When we allow the quiet (and sometimes) loud voice inside of us to guide our actions, we live with integrity. If something doesn’t feel ‘right’ to us, it probably isn’t. Listen to that voice as you walk in the world. Over the past few years, I have learned to honor myself by not doing what doesn’t feel right. If for some reason, I can’t ‘get out of something” I am in the middle of, I will as soon as I can.

When injustice surrounds you, it becomes part of you.  When you eat food or where clothing that was created by the modern day slave labor chain, you are perpetuating the  crime to humanity.  The environment matters; living as it doesn’t destroys our world.  Children are quite literally our future; it doesn’t serve us to silently standing allowing things to happen without actively trying to make a difference for good.

Over the years I have found that silence is my friend.  I don’t like bringing attention to myself all the times, but it is what I do.  While it can be difficult to go against ‘the norm’, it is also an amazing feeling to be able to share the information I have while sometimes inspiring people to learn on their own.  Only through gaining knowledge, following up with action, and ultimately sharing what you know/do is it possible to open the door that leads to a little (or a lot) of tikkun olam (repairing the world).

By listening to the quiet voice and living by the values I hold dearly, I am honoring myself. Quite honestly, if I don’t live according to my values then I have no way of thriving as a human being. While I accept that sometimes I have to do things I would prefer not to do, I still won’t cross the line for big ideological challenges.

May we honor our non-negotiables as we listen to the voice that guides us (especially if that voice is for good).

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