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Posts Tagged ‘fair-trade chocolate’

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

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

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  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 26 Elul or 4 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of  difference you want to make.”
Jane Goodall
Primatologist, Anthropologist, and U.N. Messenger of Peace

~ ~ ~

(Note: Before you read this blog entry, know that I am fairly hard on myself.  I believe that everything I do in life can impact the world for good and for bad.  Every interaction I have with people or the environment can make a difference.  So I try to walk in the world knowing that I need to be mindful at all times.  And since I am being brutally honest, I try to surround myself with people that embody conscious living as they walk in the world.  I want to connect with people that believe in their power and actively want to make a difference for good.)

Everything we do matters.

AND we cannot sustain equal intensity in all areas of our lives.  Sometimes we have to decide what focuses we will have.  My hope is that each of us decide on 3-5 actions that can impact the world in positive ways.   And while I am at it, let me throw out the idea that living positively needs to begin at home.

Each of us will define home according to our own uniqueness.  For some of us, it is simply our own little family unit; for others, it could be their spiritual community; and for others, it could be their neighborhood, their community, their spiritual community, their ethnic group.. . .the list can go on and on.

Take a moment and consider what you can do in your life to make the world a little bit healthier than it currently is.  Below I will share a few things on my family’s list.

  1. Take a moment to smile or have a sweet verbal exchange with nearly everyone I meet.
  2. Make time for the people and things that jazz you.
  3. Always consider your carbon footprint.
  4. Conscious eating and shopping – organics, local, human rights, fair-trade
  5. Adopt rescue animals
  6. Recycle, Reuse – Try to obtain and pass on as much as we can at thrift shops, free cycle, Craig’s List, friends, etc.
  7. Share your views/listen to others’ views
  8. Listen to music that inspires living positively
  9. Connect with people who share our beliefs/values – interest groups (political, environmental, social, spiritual, human rights, etc.)
  10. Spread light

In truth, I am in the midst of thinking what I need to focus on so that I can make a positive impact in our world.  I am fortunate that I can do a ton, but I do believe it is time to focus a little more heavily in one area of my life.  I will let you know once I decide.

How about you? “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of  difference you want to make.”

With blessings & light,
Chava

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(Disclaimer: Long-winded diatribe)

Life has many moving parts and it is our job to navigate each and every one of them.  Even when the journey is challenging, we really have no option.

Those of you that know me well,  know that I use writing as a means of working out all that goes on in my brain.  It is what I do.  If I am not writing, it usually means something is seriously wrong; only rarely does a busy schedule keep me from what I love second only after mothering. This is one of those times that I am working towards figuring out what I really think, so here it goes. . . .  So here is the quiet voice that sometimes goes unspoken. . . .

Loving life comes naturally to me.  I love animal-kind, the earth, and all that surrounds our world.  Yet I struggle on a very deep level; I struggle because so many people make choices to live their lives in ways that I find questionable.  And while I am not perfect; I openly grapple and when I do get thoughtless, I have my sons who remind me to follow by beliefs.

The reality is that life is a finite amount of time.  Death is a given; we will all die at the end our journeys.  My hope is that at the end of my journey I will have made a difference for good.  With every ounce of my being, I pray that my words are always thoughtful, that my actions exhibit kindness for the world I live, and that I live a life with integrity.  I truly want to be the best human being I can be.  And whether I am alive or not, my hope is that my life has touched people and made a difference.

Climbing towards the beach -Topsail, NC  Photo courtesy of Wendy Harris Delson

Climbing towards the beach -Topsail, NC
Photo courtesy of Wendy Harris Delson

As someone who lives consciously that means I have to consider the world around me and the ramifications of my actions.  While there are many non-negotiable in my book, I also realize that I have a lot to learn and I can always be better.  I also believe that we are all a work in progress; it takes time to change.

Now to share how I really feel:

  1. When you shop for anything consider those that have done the work to bring the product to you.  Are they treated fairly? Buying fair-trade makes sense; We should all do our best to shop at stores that pay their staff living wages.  I do realize this isn’t always easy or economical, yet shouldn’t human beings be safe both physically and emotionally.  Possible offenders of not treating the workers fairly include Walmart, world-wide sweatshops, the chocolate industry-to name a few.  Know as much as you can about the products you purchase; know that child slave labor is still alive today.
  2. We aren’t doing our best to create an accessible world.  We can have the best programs, but if our communities are not made in a way that is as accessible as can be that it doesn’t matter what we service or product we are offering.  And as consumers, it is important for us  to make it not-optional that all of us are responsible for making our environments work for as many as possible.  One challenging example is clothing stores:  Wheelchairs need to be able to me freely through the store.  Another example is to provide ASL interpreters when requested for community events; community events should be opened to all.  We need to create better mechanisms to be more inclusive to meet the needs of as many people as possible.
  3. All human beings should have been born to equality.  And it is human beings that are not always operating with that premise.  How sad! And yes, it frustrates me and even angers me too.  Marriage equality for all should be a given.  In terms of religious choices, I respect nearly all religions, but they need to be kept within their houses of prayer.  While some of our teachings do not accept homosexuality, our country should not be guided by religious principles. The Boy Scouts should be accepting leaders that are good human beings; the leaders should not be chosen by their gender preferences.  I love that so many of my Eagle Scout friends have made the choices that they have made; some are trying to change things from within and some have reversed their affiliation with the Boy Scouts.  Making conscious choices is a good thing.
  4. Our carbon footprints matters.  Why are we so wasteful?  I love how people say they recycle, but do they not realize that recycling takes energy.  We are literally wasting paper reams every day.  We are not considering all of the issues of product packaging and how the products come to us.  How far do the products have to travel to make it to us?  Can we go to the store once instead of going 10 times over the course of the week.  Can we walk or  bike to the places we need to get to.  We really can make a difference by learning about how our carbon footprint impacts the world around us.
  5. I love Israel; I do not like her government.  I despise when people think I hate Israel because I don’t like her actions.  Wrong.  I have a right to speak my mind and to make conscious choices in how I live with the knowledge I learn.  I also have to hear what other sides of the story are saying.  Human beings matter and I have the responsibility to care about all humans.  Darfur, Bangladesh, China – I need to be caring about all human beings; if I know governments are making poor choices, I need to use my voice in order to make a difference for good.  This is not just about Israel, this is about taking care of and sometimes supporting those who’s voices aren’t being heard.
  6. If you tell a story long enough, it becomes your truth (even if it is a lie).  The question we all need to ask ourselves is whether or not the story we are telling is in fact the truth.  I have watched how stories and lies have been woven to become truths; and for the first time in my life I am watching people’s positive reputations become altered because of partial stories being told for the purpose of destruction.  I wish some of the adults I knew would get out the high school mentality and stop talking about people.

I am trying to walk gently as I share how I feel.  We are all a work in progress, but I wish that more people cared a little more than they already do.  The good news is that many people are doing amazing work to make our world a better place.

Silence speaks words; so don’t sit in silence.  While we have to navigate the many moving parts of our lives, don’t forget about that we are responsible for making our world what it is. .  Conscious living is a practice; it takes time to develop.  Being thoughtful in our how we walk in the world, our consumption choices and in our activism will ultimately lead to a better world.

May we all choose to live consciously and consider the world that we live in with each and every step we take.

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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.  

Photo courtesy of Ann Cameron Siegal!

Photo courtesy of Ann Cameron Siegal!

Like the bears above, I love ice cream. Pure and simple. I don’t allow myself to eat it often, but I do love it!!! So when I had a craving last night, I decided to share it with my friends on Facebook! So often I am both intense and reflective on Facebook, but last night I just had fun sharing my ice cream journey with others.  And people responded.

After writing that “I think I need ice cream,” my friends had a discussion lasting 18 comments to date.  The next comment was a little less well received, but certainly made me giggle – I was proud of myself when I asked everyone if they thought it “would be too obnoxious to knock on a neighbor’s door and ask for ice cream? I really don’t want to go out (as Simon suggested); I do want instant gratification.”  When 19 people liked, “How many people believe eating ice cream can be a holy experience?” and another 13 comments were made, I knew that ice cream is indeed a holy experience for many.  🙂

In a little more than 6 months, one of the holiest days of the year will arrive.  The day encompasses intense joy for those that celebrate; the sweetness permeates even the most bitter of moods.  And no, I am not talking about Yom Kippur, or Xmas, or Ramadan – the day is International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.  On Saturday, February 1, 2014, those that find ice cream to be an ultimately holy experience, will join together and have ice cream for breakfast; some will even partake in eating ice cream all day!

As for me, I will plan a celebration with lots of ice cream and fair-trade chocolate treats; many flavors and toppings will add to the delight!!!.  We will also serve the alternative options for the vegan and allergy sensitive folks among us; did you know that coconut milk ice cream is amazing!   We will dance, play music, sing, tell stories, and eat ice cream and then eat more ice cream.  For those in need of real food, we will have some of that too.  The key is that my family will take time to open our door and flood it with good food, fun company, and a warm environment.

So last night, as I lamented to my Facebook friends and community that I wanted ice cream and I didn’t want to leave the house to get it; an idea was formed.  The time has come for me to finally have an International Ice Cream for Breakfast Open House.

So, who’s coming and what instruments, songs, and ice cream will you bring to share?  Time to start planning for some holiness!!!

Our door is always open! C’mon on over! February 1st really isn’t so far away!

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Last night, we counted Day 14 of the Omer, which is 2 weeks of the counting of the Omer.  We refer to today as Malchut she-b’Gevurah; the powerful essence within strength.

When we stand strong firm with our  powerful spirits, we are in a place of strength.  Living honestly and with integrity takes courage.  My hope for each of us is that we listen to the inner voices that guides us.

Arms spread

Each time we stand with a willingness to live within our own individual powers, we are in a place of strength.  Openly possessing and exhibiting this power can lead to doing profound good not only for individual selves, but for those the world we live in too.  Only when we listen to that inner voice can we touch the world for good through our thoughts and actions.

Recently, I experienced a brief conversation in which an friend tried to convince me that when the majority of good people respond according to what they believe, it must be a good or correct choice.  We would all love to have the majority’s opinions guide our lives, but jumping on the bandwagon is not always the right choice.  As someone who buys only fair-trade chocolate, never shops at  Walmart, and who constantly considers my carbon footprint, I know what it is like to stand within my power to make  what I perceive to be good decisions.  I also know that not everyone thinks as I do.   Over time, I have observed how people slowly entertain making similar  choices for how they move within the world.  Only through action, can we begin to stand within our own strength and with the possibility to make a difference.

May each of us live within our powers so that we can stand strong wherever our journeys take us.

 

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reeses

Today is Day  7 of my eliminating sugar from my diet.  In this moment, I am feeling pretty good, but tired too.  I haven’t been partaking in the sugar and caffeine pick me ups in the middle of the day; this is a good thing.  The biggest challenge in this journey is that when I am feeling anxious or just bummed, I really want ‘junk” and I have chosen to function differently.  All day yesterday, I would have loved peanut butter (the kind with sugar and hydrogenated oil) and chocolate.  In fact, I would have loved to chow down on a fair-trade chocolate and peanut butter bar (homemade or even a commercially made bar).

Yesterday was full of blessings, many of them, but still I had a few hours that felt a bit dark and overwhelmed.  I was feeling challenged by some intense issues that don’t usual wipe me out.  To begin with, I have four friends that are having intense physical challenges and I fear for their journey.  Secondly, I am navigating some financial challenges that sometimes feel overwhelming, but really aren’t.  And lastly, I needed time to write, to rest, and to chill, but that didn’t happen.  With all of this going on, I still found myself allowing my mind to wander to Israeli politics, the United States economy, and our environment.  My mind was full, too full.

With all of the intensity, I functioned well and didn’t let my mood stay down for more than an hour or two.  Work was busy, but manageable.  I even went with Aryeh to the 4th Avenue Street Fair in Tucson; I liked watching the people, but NOTHING really caught my eye.  We wandered without really feeling a strong need to pop into many booths and when we did stop, I was amazed by how many artists/booth operators ignored us, so we kept moving.  When I stopped at one booth, I would have asked some questions and perhaps purchased a mobile, but when no one noticed us, we just kept walking.

While lack of excess funds and a strong value for Voluntary Simplicity often guide me, I was still intrigued that I navigated a Fair that we were told about since arriving in Tucson 5 months ago.  It was an experience . . .I think  Aryeh and I enjoyed people watching more than anything!   I really do love walking on 4th Avenue and I was sad that I didn’t have time to curl up with my computer and go to Cafe Passe.  The one thing Aryeh and I noted with alarm was that we love amazing Tie-Dye and none existed at the 4th Avenue Street Fair.  Of all the things we could be judgmental about, it was Tie-Dye.  We love Milky Wave Tie-Dye; not only are Laz and Jess amazing artists, they are phenomenal people.  We love their business, their art, and their family too.  We loved their parents’ work too; we miss them.  So, Tucson, if you want to purchase real tie-dye, go to Opal, Virginia or look on FB. https://www.facebook.com/milkywavetiedye?fref=ts.

Tangent over. . . .

My biggest trigger food in the world is junky peanut butter.  If you ever see me eating junky peanut butter, you have two choices: get out of the way or gently ask me if I am ok.  If I am eating it, I am not ok.  And if I am eating peanut butter and chocolate together, do yourself a favor and get out of the way.  When I am dark, my natural inclination is to build a cocoon around myself and eat the foods that do nothing for my waist-line or my blood sugar level.  What I learned two years ago and what I am learning now is that tough stop happens and I can manage my emotions without the junk.

The blessing of today is that life happens and if I manage my emotions without sugar, I will soar to a healthier place.  Navigating discomfort and pain is hard; there is no way around it.  For me, today, comforting myself with unhealthy food is not an option.  I need to find a new ‘normal’ again.  Yesterday, I allowed myself tears, quiet time, and ultimately I functioned; I did everything I needed to do without feeding into my sugar addiction.

There really are many payoffs that are coming with this journey, I am:

  • learning to manage my emotions without sugar.
  • taking control of my life a little bit more than before.
  • losing weight (nearly 4 lbs. since last Sunday).

Today is a new day and I am thriving.

With blessings and light,  Chava

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sugar1

Last night, the lightbulb went off and it was a little too bright for my eyes.  After looking back at my day, I realized that I was facing a head on collision with my arch enemy – sugar.  I’ve always struggled with weight, but last’s nights realization wasn’t about weight, not really.  It was about my inability to stop eating all foods with sugar.

Looking back I am seeing a cycle that began early in the afternoon.  I wanted something sweet so I settled for a trigger food of mine, nut butter.  I ate a spoon full of almond butter and that was enough.  I was proud of myself for getting under control.  Well then I went out for a meeting with some colleagues and I ordered something I never order; I ordered hot chocolate.  By the way, I had also had hot chocolate one week prior as well.  Wait, I ordered a hot chocolate last Saturday night too.

For those of you that know me, at this point you should be nodding your head at me.  For years, I have only supported the purchase of fair-trade chocolate.  Slave labor in the chocolate industry is rampant; my entire family stopped benefiting from slave labor years ago.  Well, in the last few weeks maybe even months, I have found myself eating any chocolate and then saying, well I didn’t purchase it – of course that makes it ok, right? NOT so much.

Addiction is not something I have thought about much over the years, but this is what I think I know.  If you are willing to forfeit your values so that you can enjoy what you know to be ‘blood’ food, then perhaps you have a problem.  For me personally, I have felt a strong conviction that our family has no alternative to purchasing fair-trade chocolate.  This has been a non-negotiable practice in our home.  So, last night, I realized that I had fallen hard off the bandwagon.

There really is no time to lament.  I have decided that I need to go back to my values and learn to control my eating habits again.  Just over two years ago, I did a count down for getting myself off of sugar, caffeine, and soda.  I counted down 45 days to my 45th birthday.  The good news is that I was fantastic and maintaining this practice until this past May when too many transitions hit at the same time.  Moving cross country nearly wiped me out and the reserves it took pushed me to my limit.  While I ultimately succeeded, there was a cost, I started eating the foods that were toxic to me.

With 73 days to my 47th birthday, I think it is time to actively take my life back.  Lately, I have made some great choices. I have been biking more, moving lots, chanting, connecting with friends, and spending quality time with my sons.  Now I need to rid myself (again) of toxic foods.  I also need to remember to live according to the values I hold.

How did I lose sight of my values?  Addiction.  Sugar Addiction.  What I know is that I don’t have to succumb to the addiction, I have to reach inside myself and do the physical and spiritual work of listening to the inner voice; I have to simply stop eating food that is not good for me.

For those of you that live in Tucson, help me by not giving me sweets or making me goodies.  And everyone else, feel free to support me on my journey and to send good thoughts my way.

Let the journey begin. . . .

With light and blessings, Chava

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The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. ~Gustave Flaubert

Welcome back to my journey towards Seeking My Own Path to Simchah (Happiness):  My Own Personal Happiness Project.

Writing allows me the space to cultivate ideas. Through writing, I hope to challenge others as well as myself to grapple with ideas and seek the answers to questions that we sometimes don’t even know we have. For the next two to three weeks, I will be sharing 11 or more commandments or guidelines that I am developing for myself in my journey to simchah.  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas as I openly work towards growing into an even happier human being.

Simchah (happiness) is a beautiful emotion.  Personally I perceive it as being an ecstatic emotion that is somewhat beyond what I have been known to feel. There have been moments of joy, but I am seeking more.  Here is where I tell those that know me personally to stop feeling melancholy for me.  OK? I am a really content person overall: I love life and love living in it.  At the same time, I am on a journey to actively seek what I think might be a higher level of contentment; I am seeking inner simchah, a more enduring sensation than contentment, maybe even more contagious too.

Over six weeks ago, I had planned to do a 13 part series called, “Seeking My Own Path to Simchah (Happiness): My Own Personal Happiness Project”.  The first two parts of the series are:

Now I have decided that although I am extraordinarily busy, I am absolutely ready to continue this journey that was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.

Moving forward – Commandment 2: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Wow, this theme seems to come up in my life again and again.  Even last night I mentioned this commandment in my last blog.  Little did I know it was a recurring theme in my life.

About 8 plus years ago I changed my first and last name.  My first name is now Chava and it essentially means life.  I love life; I am alive.  I feel that gift each and every day.  My last name is now Gal-Or, meaning wave of light.  I gave myself that name for two simple reasons:

  1. I wanted to acknowledge the light that exists in others and in most situations.  (That is how I made it through tremendous darkness within my childhood and in the years my son was ill.)
  2. I always want to remember the light within me.

For me, living in this world means that I need to consciously be engaged in how I connect with the world.  While I feel compelled to navigate the world by considering my footprint in every way; I also find myself considering how I can share what I know.  My goal is never to make someone feel bad, but it is important that folks make conscious decisions when they can.  Perhaps they will consider new realities or share what they know if I am making an incorrect assumption based on incorrect information.  In the end, we all benefit.

‘Be the change you want to see in the world” means that I need to live consciously and treat others with kindness and love even when challenges exist.  Sometimes it means that I need to walk away when the space that I am standing is no longer sacred and when I stop being able to be the person I think I should be.  Admitting it is time to move forward is an extension of living with integrity and therefore taking one more step so that I can “be the change. . . .”

Here is just a small list of what our family does to be the change:

  • buy fair-trade chocolate.  The chocolate industry utilizes child slave labor at every turn.
  • use environmentally friendly products and make our own cleansers.
  • use an electric lawn mower instead of gas.  We would love to find a manual lawn mower next.
  • try to send thoughtful cards to people.
  • purchase and consume organics.
  • limit our trash as we can. (moving was not good for us in this department, working on improving again)
  • support businesses that have good business practices.
  • refrain from using businesses that do not share our values.
  • refrain from purchasing gas at Chevron, BP, Exxon, Shell, Mobile.  Trying to figure out who might be good.  Any ideas?
  • remember the workers.  We always try to tip for service rendered even when it isn’t the norm.
  • are always kind to strangers and people we meet wherever we go.
  • do not purchase anything made in China unless it is used or recycled.
  • actively pursue human rights in any way we can.  We actively do our part for Palestinians, folks in Darfur, workers in China, immigrant workers, etc.  Sadly, the list goes on and on.

We have much to learn, but with each new piece of information we try to incorporate the knowledge so that we can be conscious consumers and human beings.  Change in the world begins with each individual actively doing his or her part (large and small).  If each of us made a difference in some small way, our collective consciousness would grow.

My second commandment is that I need to be the change I want to see in the world.  I need to remember that with each step I take.  Complacency can never become a part of who I am.

With each smile, with each small step, I can be the change I want to see in the world.  Can you?

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