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(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

Life is full of opportunities for us to stay engaged. Texts often come at a breakneck speed. Emails offer us a chance to make purchases, support important causes, and connect to family, friends, and work too. And then there is social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.); some of us use it to stay in the loop professionally, socially, or both. We are incessantly being called to stay engaged with our family, our community, and our work.

My guess is that I am not alone in how I am feeling and seeing things.

Day 24 - Do the next right or best thingWith so much noise surrounding us, we have to remember that we can’t do it all. For me, I am learning to prioritize and simply do the next right or best thing. Since I can’t possibly do it all. AND most importantly, I am learning that self-care needs to be a priority if I am going to be able to accomplish much of what calls to me.

Remember, I can’t do it all and neither can you, but we can all do the next right or best thing. And maybe then will we find empowering ways to make a difference for good.

Onward with love, light, & action,
Chava

PS – I’d love your feedback on my blog, my writing, my thinking, and/or my Activist Cards!!! Feel free to like or comment. I will try to respond to all comments to this blog. Input is always welcome.

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Over the last several years, I have learned that creating a practice for myself is spiritually nurturing and enables me to navigate life with more ease.  A few of my daily practices that have nourished me include:

  • not eating gluten or sugar
  • writing morning pages or journaling
  • writing love notes to my IWS (inner wise soul)
  • chanting
  • drumming
  • writing affirmations
  • creating daily mandalas
  • making my bed in the morning
  • drinking water with apple cider vinegar every morning
  • thanking the universe for special moments before closing my eyes at night.
  • and so much more . . .

Creating these daily practices has helped me to become more grounded in living. Just in the last month or so, I have added walking 5 miles in the morning while listening to inspiring podcasts and eating much better than I have in years. With these actions, I can see my overall health improving; I am thriving in so many ways!!!

I am not sure when I found podcasts, but this fairly recent phenomena brings me immense joy and even balance. I know that I feel deeply and process life’s journeys a little longer than maybe I should. The good news is that when I listen to some of the better podcasts, I realize that I am not alone in how I walk in the world. AWESOME podcasts jazz the deep and sometimes dark crevices of my soul while inviting me to stretch, to grow, and to evolve as a human being.

IntroOne of the recent podcasts I tripped over was with Chase Jarvis interviewing Elle Luna who co-wrote the book, Your Story is Your Power. During this interview I realized that I had actually read Elle’s first book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion. No wonder some of the teachings and ideas sounded familiar. After listening to Chase interview Elle for her latest book, I had to listen to an earlier interview with these two exquisite visionaries. If you want to listen to either of the two podcasts that helped birth the #The100DayProject here are the links.

You could also explore it via Dr. Google, there is great information that can be found on the internet. Here is one of the better pieces with links and information/ideas.  https://thegreatdiscontent.com/interview/elle-luna-100-day-project

My hope is to inspire some of you to do this project with me. I am still figuring out the process, but here are my “rules/non-rules”. Basically you do what you want and have fun, but if you want to join me here are some guidelines that you can use:

  1. The only premise is that participants have to do the same action every day for 100 days, and for those of you that want to share the process and have accountability, you can document it on Facebook and/or Instagram. Feel free to tag me or to add your photo onto my comments of either social media platform.
  2. My start day is Sunday, August 12/1 Elul through Tuesday, November 20/12 Kislev . The Hebrew start date comes from the Jewish calendar and is meaningful to me because it is a time of reflection within the Jewish calendar. This is not meant to exclude anyone, it is just that I am making note of it for myself.
  3. While #The100DayProject is an opportunity to be part of a larger group, it can be as solitary of an activity as you would like.
  4. I will be sharing my journey on Facebook (@Chava Gal-Or) and Instagram (@NeshamaWriter) using two hashtags #The100DayProject which is a hashtag that all of us can do and for my personal project, I will use #ActivistCardsByChava. My suggestion is that you make a hashtag for your project if you plan on sharing it via social media.
  5. Finally, if you choose to keep this project private, consider documenting it for yourself. AND besides, if you would like to share with me, I’d really love to see what you’re up to.

My Project:
#ActivistCardsByChava are cards that I will be creating to motivate  people (or perhaps just me) in the journey of making the world a better place. There are a lot of moving parts that go into making a difference. Simple smiles, rallying for human rights/dignity, making phone calls, writing letters/articles/social media posts, quotes, and self care are all possibilities of what will be included in the Activist Cards. I have been thinking of doing this project for a few months and now I have the opportunity to make it happen. Ultimately, I hope that these cards are full of inspiration. (Note: I am open to suggestions if you have another suggestion of what to call these cards.)

I am so excited about pushing myself differently than I ever have. While I love to write and doodle, I have rarely shared my doodles with others. I am using the #The100DayProject to play and see how and if this evolves in any way. Regardless of how this project works for me, I am so excited to be stretching in a new way.

As an activist, I have decided to add one more part to my project. While I am being transparent, I have no expectation that anyone has to join me in this. At the same time, feel free to do so. I will be making colorful pictures with simple designs with sweet sayings in Spanish that I can ultimately pass on to DMRS, Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services. HUGS is a creative heart initiative for sending loving notes to 300 kids, 0 to 17 at four detention centers in Texas. If your card contains images only, like you art and/or loving drawings you can send directly to:

DMRS
2400A Yandell Drive
El Paso, Texas 79903.

If you are writing words or letters, feel free to reach out to my friend Dana at danablechman@yahoo.com or make sure that you have another Spanish speaker check your translation.   If you are interested in joining me in this second part of the #The100DayProject, here is some information:

  • Do not use on-line/computer translation. If you do not speak Spanish fluently or know someone who does, Dana has offered to help.
  • Suggested size is 1/4 page on cardstock
  • Keep cards non-political
  • Make the card as creative or as simple as you’d like
  • Remember that there is a wide range of ages who will be receiving these cards.

In any case, feel free to join me in the #The100DayProject. Just the thought of having you join me makes me really happy.

Onward with love, light, and creativity,

Chava

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Mendocino CA-Sandra G. Wortzel

Mendocino, California Photo Courtesy of Sandra G. Wortzel

. . . .some days are just hard. Regardless of how upbeat I usually feel, there are days or parts of days when I struggle to find center. I am human.

I believe that at some point in time or another, this is a reality that all of us face, but that doesn’t make those down moments any easier. And yet while it is important to allow ourselves to feel however we are feeling, we also need to allow ourselves to actively navigate the depression so that we can land in a better place.

The beautiful tree to the left flooded my spirit with  so many emotions when I noticed it on my friend’s Facebook page today. Literally, I started bouncing all over the place. I found myself finding center, feeling sad, loving the water, wanting to do tree pose, or Vrksasana in Sanskrit, for balance and centering. And then I found myself taking a deep breath and breathing in the sunset over the water in what of my favorite areas of the country. While the photo is absolutely stunning, it also reminds me of the deep loneliness that I sometimes feel. Remember, I did warn you that this photo took my emotions all over the place.

And yet, I rarely feel lonely for long. Today, I reached out and asked for help. I let my Facebook tribe know, “Inspiration Needed. . .  All pick ups welcome (sayings, stories, TedTalks, songs. . . ) My spirit needs a lift.” And with that,  I received nearly a dozen suggestions of what to sayings, photos, TedTalks, beautiful reminders to let me know I am loved, and reasons to laugh at life’s absurdities at the expense of adorable babies and kittens.

Yes I am sad, but by acknowledging how I am feeling and reaching out to my tribe, I can start moving forward and finding balance. While I understand some of my sadness, I also know that my spirit needed to go inward this past week and I didn’t really have the time, so I am paying for it on my last day off for a while. AND I am aware that although Houston is my home now, everyone is busy and I have yet to find chanting/drumming circles or hiking trails and friends that want to go with me. (Note: When I lived in Tucson, I used to go off on my alone a lot until my sons found out. It was one of those days, I tripped, skinned my knees, ran into a fox, struggled climbing down a mountain, and then found a scary snake in my path. 🙂 Needless to say, my sons now forbid to hike alone. Oh, have I told you that I am a total klutz?)

Reality Check
Since starting this blog, my spirit is lifting. I was able to share my spirit with the most amazing Torah Study Group EVER! I took some time to shed a few tears. . .ok, I didn’t have a choice. . .the tears came whether I wanted them or not. And I just found out that Door l’Door was in Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle this week and with that came an email saying that someone wanted to support my efforts. Around that same time, another friend, a rabbi in New York, reached out to me to share that he and a couple of his congregants will be supporting the work of Door l’Door.

Time to stand a little taller, ground myself a little more deeply, and to reach my arms out into the universe. I got this. Hard days come and challenging days go!

What I learned today is that if I show up with the both the vulnerability and authenticity that drives my spirit, I will be held until I can better hold myself.

Onward with blessings & light,
Chava

 

 

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Life is amazing and full. AND with that fullness comes gifts and challenges.

Over the years, I have chosen to follow my calling which was originally coined by Émile Zola:

Sonia's Sunflowers

“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.”

Literally. I embrace life openly and share my full spirit when possible. This means that when someone asks me how I am, I answer. It also means that when I want to share on social media, I do that too.

Hiding behind a shadow of my making is something I gave up doing long ago.  That doesn’t mean that when I am at the grocery store or at work that I spill my guts, but it does mean that I am open to being authentic when I am on my own time.

This disposition creates fascinating exchanges for those that walk through life with preconceived notions of who I am or who I should be. My transparency and intensity often confound those that hold me to expectations of their making or simply don’t understand how I walk in the world.

And yet for people to fully know me, they need to listen to this verse from John Legend’s song, All of Me:

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you.

These words may be the words of one lover expressing his love, but they are also the words of all healthy connections. When we engage fully in relationships, we have see the realities of the person in front of us and they see our core being if their eyes are wide open.

Life is messy and beautiful. Being real means that in every closet there are skeletons. They may not all be dramatic, but they are there.  There are sweet moments of sunshine and harsh moments of rain. There are moments of health and moments of illness. There are your opinions and my opinions. The question is how do we as friends and acquaintances choose to navigate each individual in our lives.

In my transparency, I share my thoughts and my soul work in my writing and on social media.  My heart and spirit are open whenever I feel comfortable sharing. In return, people receive what I share through their eyes.  And I love how in any moment, I can hear completely diverse insights into how I am perceived. Examples include:

  • “You are always so happy. I love your posts on Facebook.”
  • “I know you’ve had some ups and downs and I hope you are doing better.”
  • “Looks like you have had a lot on your plate. Are you doing ok?”

On any given day, I can hear variations of each of the above comments. In truth, I love that people care enough to reach out and I often wonder if people are really able to see the world outside of their own tunnel vision.  Yet regardless of where people are coming from, I love that people embrace and sometimes wrestle with how I show up.

Shouldn’t we all try to see those in our world for the people they are instead of who we think they should be?

What I have learned from how people both get excited or struggle with what I share is that it is my job to really listen what people are bringing to our conversation or what they are posting on Facebook.

Yes, my life is full and I feel deeply, but I am also hanging on for the ride of my life and embracing life with open arms.

ASK & I WILL TOO
If you really want to know who I am, what I think, and how I am feeling – Ask. . .don’t assume. AND if I want to know anything about you, I will ask you and not assume.

Beautiful relationships come when we are open to sharing the fullness of who we are and when we open our arms to the fullness of whoever is in front of us at any given moment.

Looking forward to getting to know you better!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: YES – LIFE IS REALLY FULL RIGHT NOW! 🙂

  1. Door l’Door is thriving
  2. Loving my work
  3. Aryeh and Dovi . . . .
  4. Writing a ton
  5. Finances are tight
  6. Engaging in my health journey (again)
  7. Simplifying daily
  8. Emerging from some darkness
  9. Navigating connections
  10. and, and, and

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Flooding 1Life is forever altered.

(Note: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant address this again and again in their book, Option B. If you haven’t yet read it, rush to purchase it and embrace the wisdom.)

No one ever wakes up one day expecting a moment (or many moments) can change the course of life, but sometimes it happens. For us living in Houston, Hurricane Harvey did the job.

Option B is my new norm and has been for just over a week. Although, it has only been over the last few days that I am feeling the long-term impact. Our new norms have left me unable able to take a deep breath (literally); I have, at least temporarily, shed the calm armor of grace and bravery.  AND I do know that at some point soon calm waters will appear. I have faced enough challenges in my life to trust that somehow I always find a way to navigate new norms.

Here is just a short list of how life has been altered:

  • The air quality is making it difficult to breathe.
  • Four or five hours of driving time have been added onto our daily commute. Although we will be looking for ways around this.
  • The possibility of flooding is a constant fear. With water levels so high. . .
  • While Houstonians are resilient, they are also bone weary.
  • Time to take care of myself via exercise and whole food cooking is gone. Although, a recent physical has dictated that I make some significant changes.

These are the biggies, but their are so many more.

Last night, the new realities hit me or should I say sucker punched me – knocking all the air out of me. The good news is that today, I am reflecting on how to navigate the new norms without allowing a sense of despondency to envelop me – Option B. I have NO doubt that my family will find new norms that work and a healthy new center.

Keep sending your prayers and sweet visions our way!

Even with the stress, I am immensely grateful.  We have our home and I have a widespread village to support me. While the harshness of the new landscape is not easy to integrate into my life, I am hoping that those that love me will be able to handle that I am a little more sensitive than usual.

Maneuvering Option B is going to take some time, but it is happening – a little by little each hour. And the only way that I can do it is with my amazing village by my side.  While my village is extraordinary, I want to share some insights and advice for better supporting me.

  • Sometimes I just need a ‘witness’ to listen.
  • Being transparent on Facebook is what I do, if you want to know how I am. . .check out my status; it will probably let you know exactly how I am.  AND for the meantime, I will continue to do my Facebook Live at 5 (or as close to 5 as I can).
  • While I know that I didn’t lose my house or anything of significance, this new norm is hell. I don’t need to be reminded that I should be grateful. I am. AND I am also acutely aware that Hurricane Harvey is even more devastating for others. Still, I have a right to feel as I feel.
  • Suggesting that I take care of myself doesn’t serve either of us well. In the early days of the disaster, I was constantly on the phone and connecting with those in need. Drumming and chanting would have been great, but when I had time, I needed to sleep/rest. The one thing I do multiple times a day is journal. Trust that I will find the pockets of time and embrace them. Telling me to take the time is a reminder that time is not what it once was. And hearing that again and again by the same people makes me crazy.
  • Social media offers so many gifts. At any moment, I may choose to engage or disengage, that is my prerogative.  I love the support of it, the information I glean, the sayings, the inspirations, and stories/music shared.  Telling me to unplug is infuriating; I am more than capable of deciding what I need to do at any moment.
  • While I love the support that surrounds me, I am fairly clear about what I need. If I ask you to connect with me or not in a certain way, please listen. I won’t be demanding or disconnected for long.

The vulnerability I feel right now can be earth shattering at times. The new norms petrify me. I can’t explain it all just yet, but I will over time. I am comfortable with transparency, but I am hurting right now and I am not always clear that I have the resiliency to navigate.  Yet I have a long history of thriving and my guess is that Hurricane Harvey will be no different.

Hineini, here I am, riding the waves. . . .  I don’t have Option A any longer, so Option B will simply have to do.

A few days ago, I shared that I am finding myself creating and humming a lot of niggunim, wordless melodies. There really are no words to adequately describe the mixture of emotions that each and every person in Houston is feeling. Today was my first effort in writing.

Moving forward. . .

Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
with your one wild and precious life?

~Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

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December 2016 - looking out into waterNote: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5777, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-2NA)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This weekend has been wild. Seriously wild. Our family had to do so much to prepare for a short term guest that had the capacity to destroy our sacred space. I am sure you have had guests like that.

Anyway, our visitor is/was none other than Hurricane Harvey.

We had to do so much to prep for his visit. We had to purchase the perfect foods, sandbag our garage so that it wouldn’t flood as it normally does when the rain comes pouring down on Houston. We also had to gather our most important documents and collect things upstairs that we wanted to keep safe.

The stress was tremendous because car trouble had taken my excess money. Money is always tight, but natural disasters, health challenges, and car trouble are three things that remind me of how difficult it is to navigate life’s expenses. And my sons and I have had all three – again and again – over the last few months. Regardless of how much we struggle financially, we still had to prepare for our guest. His timing may have not been the best, but he was expecting to make landfall on Shabbat whether we wanted him or not.

To say, I was overwhelmed is an understatement. AND yet, I was also acutely mindful of how fortunate I am. We have a home, important documents, and what we need. And when I was deciding whether my sons and I would stay or go, I had friends offering me money, hotel points, their homes, and wisdom/insight. I even had a friend let me know that she has a basement that she is willing to open up to my sons and I on a more permanent basis if needed. I had this amazing village that lifted me up and created a safe container.

As a side note, it was the love that was flowing from old friends, new friends, and even social media friends that sustained me when despondency threatened to take over. As someone who doesn’t remember a lot of love as a child, I sometimes have a horrible default mode that leaves me spiritually untethered and feeling alone. But waking up to a sweet text from a beautiful childhood friend helped me re-focus the despondency; she offered to send me $500 so that my family would seek higher/safer ground. Wow.

We decided to stay home, but the offers of help continue to come. I am awed by the love that continues to flow. AND I am keenly aware that even when I become overwhelmed, I have friends that are there to be program managers, supporters, and listeners.

Maddie out backAnd since before the rain started to fall, we have barely gone an hour without a call, a text, a Facebook message asking if  we were doing ok. How beautiful is that?!?!?! And on a bit of a silly note, when I went on Facebook requesting “the best rain and water songs”, I received nearly 60 responses with suggested songs in a couple of hours . 🙂

Over the coming days, I will add more insight that I have received from this experience, but for now I want to take note of what it means to be a beloved friend. My family is truly surrounded by extraordinary souls.

During this time of Elul, I am charged with remembering to be loving and full of light like the village that surrounds me. I wouldn’t be the woman I am if it weren’t for the love that flows so freely within my world.

Sending love, light, and insight,
Chava

 

 

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December 2016 - looking out into water
(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5777, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-2NA)

~ ~ ~

“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” 
~ Brené Brown*

I love fiercely; I hurt deeply; I feel joy with every fiber of my body; I am what I am.

For the most part, the outside world sees me as reasonable and grounded. Maybe I am. AND I am also extraordinarily emotional that I have to remember to breathe into any emotion.

Loving life as I do comes at a cost. Intensity and passion run through my veins. This means that those that love me (including myself) have to  navigate minefields as well as pure exhilaration. I feel with my entire being. And when I feel comfortable, I literally share my whole self.

The minefields are probably the hardest to navigate. Sometimes I wonder what the hell just exploded inside me. At the same time, I love that I can take a ‘time out’ to catch my breath and become more reasonable. While my outbursts tend to be quick, the furious nature of them aren’t easy to navigate.

When my spirit soars, it is really quite enchanting. The electrifying energy is so life affirming and contagious. I absolutely love when my positive energy touches those around me. Sometimes I wonder who feels better after these exchanges; I love that it seems to be mutual.

I don’t remember always being able to honor my feelings in this way, but I sure do feel blessed to feel comfortable enough inside of myself today.

As grateful as I am that I walk through the world as I do, I also struggle. Feeling with ever fiber of my being has a cost. Every morning, I open my eyes and have to remind myself to breathe deeply and trust in the universe. I also have to do everything I can to quiet my mind so that I can better move through the day. On most days, I do this with ease. I get up, I journal so that acknowledge the fullness of where I am, and then I embrace life with open arms and an excitement to see how my personal life will unfold.

This doesn’t mean I forget the world I live in. I never forget that Trump’s venom is sitting in the White House and Netanyahu’s government poisons Israel. I never forget that climate change may destroy our world and that human slavery is alive today. And every continent has horrific disasters that literally destroy life at every turn.

Life’s many moving parts are a reality.  I will always be aware of them and do what I can to make a positive impact while also feeling as intensely as I do. I will also forever feel grateful to my sons who accept all of me (and mostly) accept how I wear my emotions. And I have a few dear friends that are totally present for how I show up. I love that I am (mostly) loved for who I am. That’s pretty awesome considering I can’t be anyone else. 🙂

embrace my scars live my passionAs I was wrapping up this blog, I was notified by Facebook that I shared the following hope card* last year when I posted about My Morning Pages/Writings. I love how this card showed up now.

 

Accepting my own humanity as I try to navigate my many imperfections can be really daunting.  I tend to be really hard on myself especially when anger or deep sadness pour from my soul. At the same time I am embracing the fullness of who I am. I am beautifully imperfect, I am what I am. I am me.

Note:

  1. Quote was from audiobook by Brené Brown from Men, Women, and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough; 2012.
  2. Courtesy of Bone Sigh Arts and Terri St. Cloud. These Hope Cards have been a gift. Find them: https://goo.gl/uVc1lc

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