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Posts Tagged ‘Elul’

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

 

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 Introduction http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

This is what it takes to create a spiritual home wherever you go.

This is what it takes to create a spiritual home wherever you go.

Reflection

Over the past 4 days, since Rosh Hodesh Elul (the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul), I have been actively preparing for Rosh HaShana and loving every moment of it.  And then suddenly this morning as I sang some of the verses from Psalm 27*, I felt a bit bereft because for the first time in my life, I do not feel like I have a spiritual home.  As a professional Jew, I have previously had communities that were easier for me to be a part of spiritually, but I have rarely felt uncomfortable in a community I have worked.  Only one time, I heard a rabbi give a sermon on Yom Kippur in which he said that Tisha B’Av should be disregarded.  It was the one and only time I almost walked out of High Holy Day services with my family.

Judaism is a part of my essence.  I love how it fits into my life, pushes me to think, and creates a cocoon where I can live.

I am a God-Wrestler.  I question, I pray, I hope, I vision and I wrestle.  And on the days that I don’t quite know how God fits into my practice of Judaism, I let go and trust the universe.  And throughout it all, I try to live a life of Godliness.  Every place I walk is a sanctuary, so why in this moment should I feel like I have no spiritual home.  The mountains and the desert are seriously my sanctuary.  I love the earth; I love so many special spaces that exude God-like energy.  I used to have a yoga studio that felt like God’s sanctuary.  Today, there is no space that is calling me for the Rosh HaShanah, yet I have to take my kids to services for the High Holy Days.

And did I say, I literally have no money for the holidays or for much? What a concept for me.  The good news is that my old ‘congregation’ of employment wouldn’t turn me a way and I believe other congregations would open their doors too, but still it is sad for me.  I believe that if I weren’t a mother, I would choose to create a spiritual space by myself or with a few others.  I love Judaism and I love living it!

So as I take each day of Elul to create a stronger physical and spiritual core, I am grappling with feeling like I have no place to go.  And yet, in reality, I know that my sons and I will feel comfortable wherever we go.  Tucson is full of loving synagogue communities.  Can’t wait to hear the shofar blown as I sit within community.

Feeling blessed even as I struggle with some challenging realities.  The sun and moon always shine brightly in the desert.

With blessings & light,
Chava

*From Rosh Hodesh Elul through Simchat Torah, it is part of the Jewish tradition to say Psalm 27 two times a day.  Here is a link to the Psalm in Hebrew and English. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2627.htm

 

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The world is full of infinite possibilities, but still I have to take the first step. ~Chava Gal-Or

My hope is to relive my running days by beginning a new running/jogging journey with these awesome new shoes. Took the first step by purchasing the shoes…now for the rest of the journey. . . .

Writing Elul Reflections has been a profound practice for me.  Thanks for joining in my journey and sometimes sharing your thoughts.

One of the most precious gifts about this journey was taking the time to actually reflect thoughts that often surface for me.  Grappling with these thoughts has been huge for me; taking the time to write about my thoughts has also helped me to feel more balanced as I go into 5773, the Jewish New Year.

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.
~Joan Didion

Through Elul Reflections, I have begun to realize that I have three non-negotiables in my life:

  1. A writing  practice needs to be part of my daily life.
  2. Whenever possible, I need to spend time with people that nurture my soul.
  3. There is enormous power in silence and solitude.

With that in mind, I will be taking some time over the next 10 days, Yomim Noraim* to build these three practices into my daily life.  My guess and my hope is that I will appear a little more silent in all areas of my life and that I will become a little more present for myself.

Balance doesn’t just happen.  In order to achieve balance, you need to create the space that makes it possible to occur.  My hope is that by continuing my Elul journey and doing more of the sacred work as the New Year begins, I will create the space that allows for more harmony within my life.

May it be so.

Thanks for joining me on this journey.  May you and your loved experience an abundance of blessings, good health, and light as you embrace 5773.

With love and light,

Chava

*The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur. (http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday3.htm)

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As Elul winds down, I am feeling the need to go to a quiet space.  While there might be more to share, I don’t have much more to add at this time.  Over the last month, I have taken the time to open my heart and share honestly not only about my life but tools for creating sacred space within your own lives, tools for reflection, and finding a more balanced foundation.

On Day 28, I want to emphasize my last essential thought for navigating life as a whole and Elul in particular.  The more simple you make life’s journeys, the easier life is to navigate.  Find joy in simplicity; enjoy the realities of what is as you make choices to stretch yourself.  Live honestly with yourself, live with your own integrity; try not to think so much about what others think of you.

May all of us endeavor to find a sacred space within our own lives as we create our own toolbox for growing spiritually and emotionally.

With love, light, and blessings,

Chava

 

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I am a human being; I struggle with how to walk in the world and how to live according to my values.  Sometimes I slip, other times I excel at keeping to my values.  And I often struggle to articulate information about the issues that I hold dear.  I seem to become tongue tied instead of being able to give the facts that support my actions.  This is the time that my introverted tendencies become ridiculously obvious.  Sigh.

When it comes to doing Tikun Olam (repairing the world) or living consciously, nothing is a laughing matter.  There is so much holy work to do; none of us can do it all, but each of us can do our part.  Yet when you decide to live consciously by honoring what you know to be true; life can be so much more precious.

This week I was challenged and called a hypocrite (in humor) for eating a york peppermint patty.   I didn’t buy it, but I picked it up, and ate one.  Being called a hypocrite for eating something which probably utilized cocoa beans that were harvested by slave labor is wrong.  Unquestionably wrong.  The person was being playful, but to me it was/is a value that I hold dear.  How could I let myself partake in something I know to be wrong?

There are so many values that are guiding principles for how I walk in the world and sometimes I act irresponsible and do things that aren’t really ok for me to do.  If I hold a value dear to my heart than I should be living consciously with that value.  I do not preach to others unless they ask questions about my choices; sometimes I will speak publicly or actively engage in actions that show my values, but mostly I am fairly silent.

As I move into this year, perhaps it is time for me to live more honestly with my values.  I have a choice in how I choose to walk in this world.  Walking gently in the world is a value that parallels my love for family and Judiasm; I don’t want to be a hypocrite with values that I hold dear.  It is time to walk one way.

 

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Photo from this morning courtesy of Judy Shepard Gomez

As I settle into life here in Tucson, I am astounded by the beauty that surrounds me.  Each and every morning, I look to the north and with a tear running down my face I chant Hebrew for the words,

“How great is your work, oh God, how very deep are your thoughts!”          Psalm 92:6

Sometimes I wonder how I am blessed to see such beauty.  And in truth, we all are, we just need to open up our eyes and our hearts to that which surrounds us.

Today a friend walked into my office and gave me mint to plant.  I have no idea what I am doing, but I will try.  The smell waffled through my office today and left me with a huge smile.  And then I came home to try to dig a hole in my yard so that I could plant the mint.  It didn’t work; tomorrow I will buy soil for a pot I have so that I can plant my mint.  I am so excited!!!

Life is full of moments.  I am always amazed how beautiful my world is! I have precious children that I teach, a fabulous caring community that I joined only recently, and my own family and friends that I treasure.

The key to life is remembering to open your eyes, your heart, and all of your senses so that you can see, feel, hear, the beauty that surrounds you.  Even on the days when you feel moments of darkness, take the time to look a little deeper, don’t forget to take a deep breathe and focus on one beautiful aspect of your life.  While perfection is worthy of desire, try to notice the small gifts.  The more you do; the more you will find.

In most any given moment, gifts can be found.  May we all be blessed to see them.

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Writing Elul Reflections has given me the opportunity to share my intense side without delving into any drama.  On any given day, I reflect about the world around me.  I notice the small things; I notice the large things.  What I notice more than anything is how people handle life’s realities.

Accidents happen; moments happen.  It takes a moment to create positive and challenging reverberations that affect the rest of your day and sometimes the rest of your weeks, months, or years.

Over the past few days, I have excitedly been considering taking up running again.  I can’t wait to try, to gain physical strength, and to ultimately succeed.  I believe in myself; I believe in my power to  move forward by physically engaging in life.

Accidents Happen; Moments Happen.

Today was one of those days, I slipped and now I am in some physical discomfort.   To say I am just a little bummed at the timing is an understatement.  There is so much to do and in this moment I don’t have the physical endurance to do it. Not to mention, I want to run more than almost anything I have wanted to do in a long time.  Unfortunately, that probably isn’t going to happen for a little while longer; my entire right side of my body and now my lower back is feeling the impact of a little accident.

Reality is that I will absolutely be fine in a few days or maybe a week.  But in this moment, in the coming days, I get to decide how to move through this reality.  Tonight I am bummed and feeling just a little uncomfortable, but in truth the accident also feels like a message.  As I write this Elul Reflection, I get to decide how I will move through this moment.  Will I have a positive attitude? Will I whine? Will I ignore the discomfort and still push myself to what needs to be done regardless of how I feel.  The jury is still out for me in this situation.

Life is full of moments and we all get to decide how to move through each and every one of them.  Honoring your feelings is a good thing, but letting your feeling detract from healing isn’t so good.  When you realize that even some tough situations can be remedied, then you will truly be able to make a challenging situation better.

Just under two years ago, I had to have some surgery.  Friends from all over the country and even a few outside the country mailed me a thoughtful word to help me move through my healing journey.  With each word, I created a vision board.  The vision board helped me to focus on the positive opportunities that were possible.

We always have a choice how to cope with the moments regardless of how complex they might be. And for the most parts, while I often have initial moments of frustration, sadness, or anger, I am usually blessed to find the positive realities of those challenging moments.  And if I ever forget, I have a beautiful vision board to help me refocus my attitude.

Ultimately, I know I will be 100% fine; I always am!  Sometimes I just have to remember that reality.  I will be running again in no time, just maybe not exactly on the day I wanted to begin.

May we all be blessed to find the kernels of positive thoughts as we navigate life’s situations.

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“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.”

– Joan Didion

Writing the Elul Reflections has given me tremendous joy.  As the writing for Elul I am wondering what words will emerge next.  Writing is how I work through issues, move through the world, and ultimately find joy.

I love being alone! The solitary time of a writer has been a gift for me.  I can be present with paper and pen, ideas and thoughts, and fingers and keyboard.  Each writing tool makes me a little more free to be the person I am.  I have even found a couple of places to be alone in a crowded room; that is always a wonder to me.  No one bothers a focused writer.  🙂

For me writing literally jazzes my soul; it makes my heart sing.  When I am down, the art of writing lifts me up;  w When I am happy and peaceful the art of writing brings me even higher.

Writing,

the song of my heart;

the meaning of my mind;

the feeling of my soul;

Is what makes me One!

~Chava 

Honoring my essence as a writer is how I sustain myself.  I am profoundly touched by how whole I feel when I am weaving words together.  And over time, I have become touched by how my thoughts and ideas are touching others.  As a little girl I used to dream of being a writer and today I am one.  Perhaps in time, I will have the opportunity to share my thoughts on a broader scale; perhaps I won’t.  Regardless, as long as I am writing nurturing the person I am while also growing a stronger foundation for myself.

May each of us be blessed to find solace in what you love love to do.  May we make time to develop the skills it takes to move forward in doing whatever it is you love to do.

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