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A Letter to a Friend:

On several occasions you have questioned whether Facebook friends are really listening or whether you are being heard at all. You seemed to be wondering out loud whether Facebook is some sort of alternate reality.

You are not alone in wondering about the power or purpose of Facebook. Since joining Facebook in 2009, I have watched myself evolve in how I connect with the world in large part due to my interactions on this form of social media. We seem to be asking similar questions and perhaps coming to different assumptions.

fb

On a personal level, I have grown to love it!!! At nearly anytime Рday or night, I am surrounded by people that jazz my soul, inspire me to be a better person, nurture me when I am down, and/or support me when I need a kick in the tuchus (tush). And sometimes there is little or no real interaction; sometimes friends are just on the ride of life with me. The more direct I am, the more substantial  the help can be. Help has come in the form of information, resources, and/or supportive listening. My response to these interactions have helped me navigate into more healthy connections and out of friendships or connections that no longer serve me.
Facebook is not some sort of alternate reality. It is full of life (gifts and challenges), experiences, politics, information (true and false). People share what they are comfortable with sharing; this is no different than life in any other social realm. People share what they want you to hear and some are more authentic than others. This seems to be the reality whether on the phone with friends, at work, in synagogue or any house of prayer, at the park, or even the local grocery store.
When tough times hit, people can’t always help and don’t know what to say. The same can be said for all interactions.
Finding personal support for me seems to come mostly when I share what is going on and what I am doing about it. When I have been down for too long (which I have), the responses stop showing up with frequency. It doesn’t necessarily feel good, but each of us only have so much time in our lives to deal with our own crap let alone every one else’s crap. Sigh.
Politically, I have had to face that my strong opinions make people uncomfortable. And if someone is a really close friend, we learn to refrain from commenting on political posts or we accept the explosions that follow a ‘confrontation’. AND I have been known to end friendships or lose friendships when passions run deep. I love knowing where I stand with people even when it means that saying good-bye feels like the only option. I don’t have time to hang with people whose values I find troublesome.

I use Facebook to share all of the moving parts of how I walk in the world. I share poetry, sayings, politics, pain, joy, gratitude, and sometimes hell.

For me, Facebook has opened many doors to opportunities for learning, stretching, and connecting. While I love this tool, it is also one tool of many that I use in my life.

With love and light,
Chava

PS – Some examples of how Facebook has added to my life:

  1. Politically now, I have more information at my fingertips.
  2. Advice is always available for the asking!! And sometimes when not asked. ūüôā
  3. When I needed a job, opportunities surfaced.
  4. After I lost my job, friends from all parts of my life showed up to help; I am not sure how I would have survived if people didn’t come out of the woodwork.
  5. If I am sad or lonely, depressed or scared, there is always someone who shows up to comfort me.
  6. While many people have profoundly different views from me, there is always someone there to give me a different way of seeing things.
  7. Whenever I post a link to my blog, it gets read. ūüôā
  8. Whether I need a place to eat in Houston, a place to stay in Washington DC or a good book to read – Ask and I will end up with a ton of answers.
  9. I have found the best sayings just by lurking on Facebook. Did you know probably have over 70 pages of quotes that I have saved?
  10. AND so much more!!!!!!!

 

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‚ÄúOwning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy‚ÄĒthe experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.‚ÄĚ

~Brené Brown 

Turning 50 was a huge deal for me! I was excited about the possibilities.  While I still feel sense of joy about the many doors that continue to open, I am also aware that I am single, with a small family, and a village that is beyond measure. On a good day, the gifts empower me to soar. On a challenging day, darkness and fear support how lonely I sometimes feel in our vast world. With a village so spread out, it is hard to feel nurtured when there is no one stroking my head when pain envelopes my entire being.

Today’s blog is my effort at being transparent. While I would prefer that light permeate my essence, I am aware that sometimes the darkness overrides. My hope and prayer is always that by opening the door into the fullness of who I am, I will¬†allow more light to shine into my life and perhaps radiate that light to others.

Chava's Shadow 17January2016The Catalyst:
Recent health challenges opened the door to unrelenting vulnerability.  I know because I have spent the last two months virtually alone and in a painful haze that often felt dark and lonely.

During this time, I found out who cares and who cares less. ¬†And regardless of who cares, I still felt¬†deeply alone. Know that while my sons were close by and made a huge impact, it isn’t the same as having a partner, a close friend, or even a supportive community. ¬†Aryeh and Dovi were great, but I needed more.

The love that flowed and continues to flow from my Facebook friends has been amazing and comforting. There is no question; I feel loved from friends that have surfaced from every time period of my life. I am awed by such genuine warmth.

My Reality:
Yet those calls couldn’t help me¬†get a glass of water when walking to the kitchen was¬†far too painful. Or perhaps worse, was the realization that if I slipped in the shower, I would have to scream to my sons for help; no mother wants to do that.¬†Nighttime was the worst, but I was lucky. My brother and sister-in-law live in Israel and therefore they really could be available when I felt most raw. ¬†As those living in the States went to sleep, my family in Israel was waking up. ¬†And truth be told with so many of my friends being insomniacs, I probably could have reached out on Facebook.

To be fair, there were so many factors that made it impossible for some of my closest friends to show up:

  • They don’t live in Houston.
  • My back went out suddenly and surgery was scheduled quickly once the right doctor realized the necessity of my surgery.
  • Surgery was scheduled with less than a week’s notice and hours before the the First night of Passover and the Seder were to begin.
  • There is a huge cost to helping someone who doesn’t live around the corner.

Fortunately, I work for a lovely community in which there were those that would ask me how could they help and a few of those that really did show up. ¬†And if ever I reached out, I didn’t have to ask twice.

Feb 2015 Walking from behindChallenges with friends:
Navigating close friends can be both challenging in fascinating. While, I would have loved to have my friends physically with me, I found the calls to be exhausting. I also realized that the calls and texts came from a place of worry. ¬†I loved that people cared, but I struggled with what to respond. Healing is hard work; I had little energy for small talk, yet that’s what my closest friends seemed to crave.

From past experience, I know that if I was still married, my friends may have called my ex-husband to check on me, but they weren’t as compelled to call my sons. This forced me to interact with people before I was ready.

Friends are sacred to me. I treasure their presence in my life and I don’t take them for granted. ¬†There were a couple beloved friends that didn’t reach out when I needed them. While I knew they couldn’t be with me, I desperately didn’t want to feel forgotten. During some of my darkest moments, I found myself wrestling with the realization that the holy connections could be lost at any moment and that would be ok to some of those I cared for most. Even as I type these words, the pain is almost inconsolable. I love forever and yet not everyone does. I have lost a few too many friends in my life and the sense of mourning is with me. ¬†But friendships do change…. sigh.

As I heal, I am coming to understand that not all is as stark as I initially thought. Yes some of my friends have faded away, but some of them will emerge. AND there are new friends that are showering me with love and warmth. I am not alone, but that doesn’t take away the fact that blanket of loneliness¬†that is all encompassing at times.

What’s happening now?
Knowing that I am not seriously ill has been important for me to remember; I was recovering from surgery-yes. But I always knew and still know that all will be good. Intense pain ended as soon as surgery was over. Yet that doesn’t mean I feel good or energetic. My entire life went out of control two months ago and in some ways it still is. ¬†I may look good or better, but nothing feels good and the exhaustion I feel is bone-deep and overwhelming. While I can get up and do what I need to do, it isn’t easy.

Vulnerability comes from the realization that the doctor is looking at the weakness in my left leg and wondering if he will need to go back in to do more surgery. And what happens if he does? What will happen with my work? Who will take me to the hospital next time? How will I afford the mounting hospital bills when money is tight on a good day? Illness is lonely and in this moment, I am also realizing that as I reflect on the friends that ‘showed up’ over the last two months, I am not always a good friend to those that need me either. Life is busy and my creative spirit yearns for me creative time, yet . . . ¬†How do any of us find balance with a world that needs our attention?

The hours of solitude have left me even more conscious than I was about EVERYTHING in my world. I am not sure where this deep¬†reflection will lead, but I have a sense that certain changes are on the horizon. ¬†Over the coming months, I will unpack what is filling my heart and soul via my blog, Facebook, journaling, and even talking — everything from aging/saging, relationships, finances, lifestyle choices, the world, and even my passions. And through it all, I need to embrace finding the gifts and engaging in actions that will move not only me, but our world forward.

Immense Gratitude:
When my orthopedic surgeon told me that surgery was needed as soon as possible, I was most sad about picking up the phone to tell¬†my friends Kathleen and Eric that I wouldn’t be able to have them for our Passover Seder this year. ¬†I had been so excited about them coming in from South Padre Island some 6 hours from Houston, but for all intensive purposes, Passover was being canceled. Their reaction shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. They said they would be coming anyway, they wanted to be here for me.

Even as I type this, tears are flowing from my eyes. One of my biggest fears was who would advocate for me. Hospitals are so scary to me; they literally terrify me. While I don’t necessarily show it, it is true. I struggle anytime I have to go to the doctor, support my sons when they need medical treatment, or go for any test. Even my blood pressure runs high as soon as I walk into the doctor’s office.

The years of having sick children have really impacted my life. And to make things even more complicated, I never thought I would be alone to navigate health challenges without a partner. When I first decided my ex-husband and I would part ways, I was sure we would always be there for each other. But reality is different from any illusions I once held.

The funniest part of having Kathleen and Eric come in was that not only did I have close friends, I had two doctors who could advocate for me and make sure that all was going smoothly. I so treasured how they showed up ready to do everything they could to make this experience as easy as possible. And they did.

Being spoiled by two beautiful souls was a gift. I hope the next time I have a friend that needs me that I show up with such an open heart and willingness to do whatever I need to do to make a difference.

Most of us have a few friends that we touch base with regularly and other friends that we may not talk to for years. I loved that three friends who I rarely talk to called me the days before surgery. Just prior to surgery, I was devastated and overwhelmed by my pain. Intellectually, I knew that I would land on my feet (literally), but that didn’t change how difficult it was for me to cope. ¬†Each call made a huge difference and lifted a piece of the darkness.

Shortly after surgery, I received a lovely fruit basket from old friends and a sweet call from someone who I connect with rarely at best. Actually, he calls whenever he catches on Facebook that I am having a rough time. Again, these folks simply showed up and made me feel like I was worthy of their warmth.

Locally,  some special angels show up from my community. One member called regularly to check on me Рalways reminding me that she lived close by and would love to do whatever was needed (and she did too)! Another member of my community came to visit me weekly always with a baked goodie in hand. One of my favorite visits came from friends who brought me flowers, but more importantly brought our dog a new rope toy. The day after surgery, one loving soul brought us yummy leftovers from their seder. This routine of periodic visits and an occasional special delivery helped throughout the first weeks following surgery.  Sweet texts and cards (especially from my students) kept my spirits from plummeting.

Reality Check:
When we are ill it can be hard to ask for help, but people aren’t mind readers. ¬†One thing that wasn’t so helpful were the many people that said let me know if you need anything. What I learned from most of those people was that they didn’t really want to help, they simply wanted me to know that they cared (and they would have helped if I asked). Next time, a friend is struggling, I will do my best to say that I am going shopping and would love them to have what they need and not what I want them to have. ūüôā Or perhaps I can offer to do their laundry, clean their bathrooms, or simply come over and sit with them.

I loved when the friends that I am in better contact with learned that a simple text was lovely. I was exhausted by those that expected a response from me every time they reached out. The good news is that I knew they cared!!

What I really needed was for people to be present without expectation. I think the hardest part about living in Houston for such a short time is that new friends don’t really know how to be present for you. And then there was the silence that came from people I would have thought cared. In truth, they don’t (not really) and that is a good thing to know too. I did feel horrible when I found out that one of my friends was having a hard time and that is why she didn’t reach out. I was, subsequently, relieved that she did care, but then miserable that I had temporarily made the wrong assumption. I am learning.

The World – sigh…
While my little world may challenge me, there is also the larger world that has me oozing with vulnerability.

  • Trump is a lunatic and the President of the United States. He is a sick bastard that is digging his professional grave. And when he goes down, we still have a Republican government and the next few possibilities in line are prejudiced and biased in how they walk in the world.
  • Millions of people are suffering and our country would rather close their doors than save the lives of entire families and villages. My father’s family would have been left to die if they wanted to enter this country today.
  • Our country feels like it has taken hundreds of steps back as it actively discriminates against people based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
  • The environment is being devastated by the actions of the human race.
  • The Occupation in Israel is in it’s 50th year. With this in mind, no wonder Israel is a mess. Hatred breeds hatred and Israel has done more than it’s share to destroy what could have been an awesome homeland for the Jewish people. I can’t believe I once wanted to make aliyah, move to Israel. (And yes, it is a complicated; I am not delving into those complexities in this blog.)
  • What about health insurance for my sons. The FUCKING government is actively trying to dismantle the amazing work of ObamaCare also known as the Affordable Care Act. My older son is thriving today, but that was not always the case; medical coverage could become an impossibility for him and so many others.
  • . . . and so much more.

I am disgusted by what I am seeing going on in our world. And the hardest challenge comes from the realization that I can never do enough to make our world a better place. Yet, I have no choice, but to do all that I can. Living in Texas and having Trump as POTUS, has totally impacted my plans for the immediate future because I need to take nearly every free minute I have, roll of my sleeves, and work towards undoing the damage of those that are either doing nothing as well as those that are actively destroying the fabric or our world.

Conclusion:
Two months have passed since pain rocked my world on Saturday, March 11th. I am blessed that the pain didn’t last for too long and yet it lasted just long enough. It gave me time to reflect about friendships (old and new), money, values, and needs versus wants. Illness has been a great tool for weeding out that which does not nourish me.

Mostly though, I have learned that I need to better care for my body, mind, and soul. And I need to nurture my village Рnear and far by both being present and allowing others to be present for me.  And when vulnerability rocks my world, moving forward is the only way to ultimately thrive.

Giving up is never an option. . . .there is too much work to be done!

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Lori took of Ren crossing the bridge

Photo Courtesy of Lori Fortang taking a beautiful photo of her beloved Ren crossing the bridge.

The world is feeling a little dark lately.

Am I unique in this journey? Nope. . .I am really not. I am surrounded by friends that are grappling in very similar ways; they are actively engaging as seekers who simply want to make the world a better place.

In fact a couple of days ago, I asked my friends via Facebook, “Does anyone else feel like they are ‘on a narrow bridge’?” Twenty-eight people responded with the emoticons (like, love, ¬†sad) and about thirteen people had more to say. The good news and the bad news is that I have now confirmed that I am not alone.

With every fiber of my being I struggle with the harsh realities that continue to permeate our world, the world of those I love, and even my own personal life. Devastation and destruction can be found everywhere. The world’s climate is struggling at every turn. And people I love are in their own depths of despair. Life is hard.

Here is a taste of what is filling my soul:

  • Our political climate is a disaster.
  • How could our Trump have been elected to be our next President?
  • Finances are tight, but we are navigating.
  • How could¬†prejudice and hatred have so much momentum?
  • The Middle East is a disaster and Africa isn’t much better.
  • The Standing Rock Protests in North Dakota Pipeline are¬†breaking my heart. I want to stand with our brothers and sisters. I want to physically support them with my presence.
  • Sometimes I can’t make a difference in the lives of those I love.
  • I am struggling to stay connected with all of life’s moving parts.
  • I could use help cleaning my house.

When I allow the painful rhythm of the world to carry my spirit, I can find myself lost with a sense of unrelenting helplessness. The beauty is that the moments don’t last, but they seem to be surfacing a little too often these days.

This rawness can easily control my spirit if I allow it to.What I have learned over time is that I have to allow the deep sadness to visit, but I also have to do the work to mitigate it. So that is what I am doing by:

  • Surrounding myself with people that nurture my spirit and share my core values.
  • Letting go of “anything or anyone that that does not bring you alive.” David Whyte
  • Embracing the many truths that are part of my life and becoming transparent with each step.
  • Eating better and doing¬†more self care. over a month with nearly no sugar!!! ūüôā
  • Standing up for what I believe in!
  • Donating money to causes that move my soul – not a lot, but what I can.
  • Painting and writing, journaling and doodling

With every step, I am actively engaged in the journey of life. Living life fully is not optional; there is too much work to be done. Still some days, I have to listen to the quiet voice that is talking to me and allow for myself to hear the messages of my soul.

Traveling the very narrow bridge means I am moving forward. . . and wow how beautiful is it that I am not alone!

Onward towards the light,
Chava

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Feb 2015  Walking from behind

be softer with you.
you are a breathing thing.
a memory to someone.
a home to a life.

Nayyirah Waheed’s Precious Words

 

 

(Note РOver the coming weeks, I will be exploring the power of social media. The connections I have made and the growth I have experienced has helped me to grow exponentially more than I ever would have before social media touched my life. I want to shout out a special thank you to those that engage in this platform and inspire all of us to stretch and to evolve into even healthier human beings than we already are. I adore my tribe, all of my tribes. )

Transformation. . . I am a work in progress.

Creating a healthy body image has been and continues to be a very real struggle for me. I could probably find someone to blame for my fairly horrific body image¬†– my mother, my childhood neighbors/classmates, or maybe even the media. And yet, that wouldn’t be fair.

Whatever happened in the past or how I have seen women portrayed in the media is irrelevant; I am responsible for who I am today and what I do with my memories and perceptions of the past. It is truly a blessing to be able slowly transform my self image and fall in love with woman I am.

While I still pause when it is time to look at myself in the mirror, I have mostly stopped the negative self talk. I am relieved to know that I no longer feel trapped in these words that I recently found in an old journal:

“If given a choice, I’d much rather not look at myself in the mirror or get on the scale. I’d rather not see a photograph of me or see my reflection over the water. I hate the way that I look. Sigh.”

Over the last several years, I have done the¬†holy work of transforming how I see myself. Five years ago, I shared my health journey via blogging and social media; that was huge for me, I shared information about my¬†diet/lifestyle changes¬†and subsequent weight loss – 65 lbs. Later, I consciously looked¬†at myself in the mirror and actively re-framed how I saw myself. I stopped calling myself fat and started seeing beauty in the person I was. Quietly, I began seeing¬†myself as an Amazon Woman¬†–¬†strong, vibrant, healthy, and physically beautiful. I grew to really love me! And selfies, I learned not only how to take selfies, but to revel in how good I sometimes looked in those photos. I started having fun seeing myself in a photo.

In the midst of my transformation, one of the world’s most radiant¬†souls entered my world. ¬†It was truly an accidental meeting. While living in Tucson, I decided that I had to find a source for purchasing fair trade clothing. Via the internet¬†I found a little photography/dance studio that sold the clothing. The only problem was that the studio was in the midst of transitioning the clothing to another location. I was so bummed because I couldn’t figure out where to find the new store. Jump ahead a week or two, I found Fed by Threads (fedbythreads.com) and then I tripped over the stunning¬†work of Jade Beall, a co-owner to this awesome¬†business. (Note: While Jade’s work as a photographer has helped me see all women, including me, as beautiful. Fed by Threads is a business that values everyone; experiencing the warmth and care of the other co-owner¬†Alok¬†Appadurai has also been transformative.)

Jade was a photographer who captured so many precious women for her book, The Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project. Each and every photo had women that were seen as beautiful for the who they were; no photo was altered in any way. The photos showed women in all their glory; stretch marks and post birth bodies alike were celebrated, as they should be.

After finding Jade’s website,¬†http://www.jadebeall.com/, I felt like I met an angel. Not only were her photos full of love for all people, so were her words. From there I started following this incredible soul via Facebook; I couldn’t and still¬†can’t get enough of her energy. She values people deeply; she treasures all life forces.¬†And through viewing how Jade struggles and ultimately embraces her¬†¬†own journey, I have learned to better embrace my essence¬†and the journey that is part of my being; I have learned to see myself as beautiful.

One of my deepest disappointments about leaving Tucson was leaving Jade Beall without having her photograph me. And I am hoping that the day comes when I can have that opportunity. This amazing photographer has helped heal so many of my open wounds. How awesome to know that I am not alone; there is a stunning tribe of women who have emerged from her love and guidance, her insight and wisdom. It is, in large part, through her work and the love of her Facebook community that I have evolved to where I am today.

I still have a lot of work to do. Transformation is a continuous process.

A car accident this past December triggered a downward spiral that lasted too long. Suddenly I had to face my old demons as my body image plummeted. I stopped taking good care of my body and gained some previously lost weight. Fortunately, over the last several weeks I am again re-framing how I see myself and starting to take control of my health journey. As long as I actively take care of me, I am better able to boost my confidence while becoming more grounded.

The journey is not only about making better life choices, it is also about taking time for my soul through writing, chanting, drumming, and just allowing creativity to flow through me. I am so excited to be emerging from my darkness!!! I am returning to healthier choices and nurturing the woman I am. And I am also reaching out to new and old friends; I am asking for what I need and feeling supported in return.

An important part of my returning to a better place was not about all the changes I was making. Before I could evolve, I had to find my own beauty that what not wrapped up in what the scale told me. I had to love the person – inside and out.

Being transparent is the gift I will continue to give myself; it is ultimately how I will thrive and become a healthier me.¬†I don’t want to hide, I want to open my arms wide and embrace the world as I am while always trying to be the best me possible.

Onward!!!!
Now & Always

 

 

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We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

Written by Elizabeth Alexander
for¬†President Barak Obama’s Inauguration; January 2009
 

Words are powerful and empowering.  Whether I am reading them or weaving them together to articulate my own thoughts, words inspire me to explore what is and to make sense of what can be.
 
Words give my free flowing thoughts foundation; they ground me. When I read other’s thoughts, I realize that I am either not alone or that I am surrounded by both brilliant and limited thinkers. Time and again, I am amazed how all¬†people can influence others by how they articulate themselves in speech or writing.
 
Personally, writing allows me to feel like I am being heard. As someone who has been marginalized, I have found that simply the act of writing my thoughts allows me to release the myriad of ideas that are sometimes trapped inside my head; the release also opens my heart space so that I somehow feel heard even if it is only the paper that is receiving my thoughts. In truth, once I have written my thoughts, I often feel more comfortable sharing them to anyone who will listen.
Lisa Libowitz Prescott, Arizona

Prescott, Arizona; Photo Courtesy of Lisa Libowitz

Have you ever heard the echo when you yell from a mountaintop? I love the exhilaration that comes with the responsive echo. That is the way I feel each and every time I take time to write what is weighing on my conscience and even within my subconsciousness.  The more that I write, regardless of whether it is my own personal journals, my blog, or my Facebook/Twitter posts, the more I feel at home within my being.

Over the last few weeks, I have realized:

  1. how important writing has become to my soul. . . . even more than before if that is possible.  This sweet realization is leading me to feel more whole.
  2. how I love to write notes and journal entries with my own handwriting. I love the feel of the pen or marker in my hands, the touch of the paper, and way the writing tools flow over the paper.
  3. how I equally need pen/paper and my  computer. I need both handwriting and electronic keyboard to articulate my thoughts; I also need my voice.
  4. being able to articulate my need for wrapping things in a box with all the words that I need to say before I can let go. Only once I give voice to my feelings am I am able to move forward. Just the act of releasing my thoughts or sharing my heart space allows me to let go. When I can’t do this for whatever reason, I tend to grow sad or frustrated that my purging of words does not always work well for others;¬†I am learning to navigate this.
  5. if I am not writing, I must be in a dark place. Writing fuels my soul.

Words empower me to do what Emily Dickinson called ¬†‘dwell in the possibility’. I would not be the woman I am if I did not have my writing.

May all writing always exhilarate my spirit, give me wings to soar, and help me to navigate the many voices in my head.

Onward!
Now & Always

PS – Over the next few weeks, I will be playing with ways to my very own gift box of my favorite words. Let me know if you have any creative ideas for how to do this. ūüôā

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At this point, my beautiful village is probably wondering why I would ever have called myself a loser, but I am. Or at least I have been and sometimes it is still my reality.  The good news is that I do some very holy work; I am always trying to become better person and more healthy too. What I know and trust is that I am definitely a work in progress.

Reflections:
You see I have been known to love the wrong person, to value a connection that has outlived it’s benefits,¬†and to hold on to beliefs that stopped serving me well. My guess is that we all have these moments, but lately¬†I seem to be feeling it more intensely than I have in a while.

  1.  A few mornings ago, I awoke early and found myself reading a new Julia Cameron book. In each of her books, Cameron inspires her readers to begin writing what she refers to as Morning Pages.  Morning Pages are stream of consciousness hand-written writings to help jump start your spirit and often allows you the room to work through some of your own garbage without a need to filter each word. (Who has the wherewithal to filter what you are writing first thing in the morning?)

    This morning, I found myself processing the wounds that my original Morning Pages brought me years ago when someone I should have been able to trust went through my writings. I never quite got over that open wound even though that person is no longer part of my life. But it is time and today, instead of writing the three mandatory pages I wrote six pages of long hand writing and released some of the pain that has been getting in the way for years.

    Taking the time to write Morning Pages helped renew my spirit and give me balance.

  2. Holding too tight to Barbed WireAnd then later in the morning, my friend posted the following photo on her Facebook page. “Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spend a lot of time making it.”

    Wow, this saying forced me to consider all of the ramifications of not only the challenging relationship that took away my love affair with my original Morning Pages and the relationships that were crushed from that betrayal. That experience  literally changed the course of my life.

    Regardless, my job is still to move forward. Being stuck for years did not serve my future writing, it did not allow me move forward from the relationships that I saw as being non negotiable parts of my life, and it didn’t allow me to build trust with new people who would value¬†all ot even most of the moving parts of me.

  3. One of my more significant challenges has been how I care for my body through food, exercise, and sleep.  This is one of those areas of my life that I need to build a stronger practice of self care. And in truth, I am doing the work, but I have so much further to go.

    Sleep and exercise seem to be faltering behind, but my eating habits are improving by exponentially.  The last few years I have made a ton of changes for good and now I am making more. Except that I am humbled by how often I backslide.

    Even this past week when I was really sick with a virus, I made sure I had some Coca-Cola nearby. As a child and into adulthood, I have always believed that drinking the caramel flavored ‘stuff’ could make anyone better. It is OK to laugh at me now. . . we know:

    • Coca-Cola can corrode a battery.
    • The sugar in Coca-Cola is a huge contributor to obesity.
    • For me, Coca-Cola causes urinary tract infections or UTIs and it feeds into my sugar¬†addiction.
    • Coca-Cola Company has questionable business practices with many¬†human right violations.
  4. How many times have I created friendships with people that I Believe what People tell yousimply adore even though they have told me something that should have been a red flag. I really should embrace Maya Angelou’s insight, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”¬†Had I embraced these words, I may have saved myself so much pain over the years.

    A few years ago, I had a friend who I loved deeply. ¬†She used to voice that¬†she felt like she was living in my shadow. She would say things like, “Chavale, you are so strongly rooted in ethical choices”; I don’t know how you do it. ¬†She seemed to love¬†my strong spirit, but in the end she voiced that it also made her feel¬†¬†inept in some way. One day, she closed the door and ended a friendship that I believed would last a lifetime. Today I¬†realize that I am happiest when I surround myself with conscious individuals who live by their values.

Going Deeper
May I surround myself with those that inspire me to be a better human being as they seek to be the best they can be too. Let me also remember to live with integrity always and to strive to be authentic as I walk in the world not only for myself, but for the world I live.

Life is full of many moving parts. Individually, each part can appear to be overwhelming and if I don’t watch myself, I may see myself as a loser. My job is to¬†look a little deeper, if I do I will most definitely see myself as the work in progress that I am. ¬†Conscious living means giving myself the space to stretch, to grow, and to evolve.

May I always be blessed to see the world clearly and not clouded by my own spiritual low – Keeping perspective and remembering to take one step and then the another. There is always more work to do.

 

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Elizabeth Gilbert rocks my world. She inspires me to look deeply at all that I am and some of what I am not. She makes me laugh and she reminds me that I need to strive to make my true spirit emerge.

Ever since reading Eat Pray Love, I have been transformed and I have continued to transform. Through reading it, I realized that all of us can create experiences that move themselves forward. And when I am really honest with myself, I realize that I am on that list.

About a year ago, maybe more, I became reacquainted with Liz Gilbert when I tripped over her on Facebook.  Each of her posts caused me to reflect as well as yearn to create. My life started to become even brighter because I entertained the possibility that I really could be creative, not only as a writer, but as a visual artist too.

With the book, Big Magic on the horizon, Gilbert teased her followers with her sayings, her teachings, and her podcasts; she personally galvanized me to reach inside myself and nurture my creative soul and even my spiritual being.

To say that I am feeling positively energized and profoundly more whole as I allow myself the space to become who I really am is an understatement. AND YET, it is really hard work. Sometimes it hurts to realize what you need to do and how far away I am from where I want to be, my roots.

Life is a never-ending journey. My job is to listen to the words of Rainer Maria Rilke:

‚ÄúBe patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.‚ÄĚ

By openly embracing the possibility of living ‘into the answer’ and by really doing the work I need to do, I can grow and be an even healthier version of me.

This mindset has caused me to go inward a lot over the last year. But sometimes I am surprised by ferocity that comes when I am struck by the right teaching at the right time. As I was writing a blog that I was calling, I Wish, Liz Gilbert posted a beautiful and poignant piece that she call NOT THIS on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/GilbertLiz/photos/a.356148997800555.79726.227291194019670/1002190543196394/?type=3&theater

My response to this piece was,

I needed to internalize this. . .

I made some very challenging NOT THIS decisions in the last few years. . .it is hard to get up and breathe deeply when facing the fears, and yet. . . .I am exactly where I need to be in this moment EVEN as I have a few more NOT THIS things going on in my life.

Tears are running down my face and I am SO OK!

When I say that Liz’s original post took my breath away, that is not an understatement. Since yesterday, I have not been able to shake the feeling that instead of writing I Wish, I needed to write my own version of¬†NOT THIS!

There are some non-negotiables that are shaping up in my life. My comfort zone is not as comfortable as I’d like. While I am fortunate enough to be in the perfect place for me at this time, I am also realizing that I need to make this place even better.

NOT THIS! has to become more of my motto even as I do the work of becoming more grounded in the person I really want to be.

Rocks from Sedona

Rocks from Sedona

One thing that¬†I love about my life is how doors open exactly when the time is right and messages unveil themselves when I need them most. If Liz Gilbert’s Facebook note was not enough, I also received a gift that caused me to cry even more.

Rocks!!!

Many of my friends know that I love rocks because I¬†often ask those¬†who are traveling to bring me home or mail me a rock that they find on their vacations. Rocks remind me to¬†stay grounded in the beauty of what is as I¬†reach for what will be. So when I opened the mail to find my friend Carol’s gift, it reinforced that I really do need to remain grounded even as¬†if the growing pains sometimes feel overwhelming.

Looking forward to turning more of NOT THIS! into more of YES РTHIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT!

May we all find the messages we need at the right time! I got this!! Do you?

 

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