Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘finances’

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

 

 

Read Full Post »

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

If You Want to Be Happy Be 2

Quote by Leo Tolstoy

I believe that happiness is a choice. Nearly every day, I wake up and decide that today I will be happy. That doesn’t mean I am happy every  day or that I am happy when life challenges feel daunting, but it does mean that as a rule I choose happiness.

During the many months and years of my son’s illness and his long recovery, I learned to find the sweet moments that happened at every turn. Amazing friends, some fabulous doctors, and even the weather could give me moments of joy when all seemed impossible.

Walking through the world this way means that I will always find moments of joy even when life feels overwhelmingly hard.

The last 15 months have been full of challenges. Yet nearly every step of the way I have believed that all would be ok and for the most part it was. There were days and weeks that I found myself struggling with the finances of life and taking care of myself physically when my schedule was too grueling. The beautiful news was that:

  • My friends made it possible for me to stay afloat; they supported me at every step of the way. Some friends gave me work, others gave me money, and two gave my family their home.  All of our friends provided emotional support in their own unique ways.
  • I fell in love with care-giving and treasured the relationships that grew from my initial place of desperation. I learned to take care of people during the most vulnerable times of their lives.
  • Strangers walked into our family’s life and made a difference for good; and this is still true for today.
  • We learned new ways to live consciously.
  • Playing board games brought us hours of enjoyment.
  • My writing improved.
  • My dreams became more vibrant.
  • I made decisions about what was important to me and learned to trust myself more.
  • I found blessings wherever I turned.

Being whole means navigating life the best ways that we can. For me, it also means finding joy in the small stuff and seeking happiness with each step of life’s journey.

While I am always seeking happiness, not every day is as good as today has been.

Today, I am totally humbled and awed by the love and warmth I feel. To each of you that are celebrating my new position and my spirit – thank you! I would not have made it without you in my life.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

(PS – Over the last couple of months, I have been thrilled to work with Lev Shalem Institute and hope to continue that work in some capacity of the coming months/years. And today, I am excited to share that as of July, I will be the Director of Congregational Learning for Temple Sinai in Houston. I feel like I may be going home.) 🙂

Read Full Post »

Living life actively is what I do, but at the same time I have always tended to play it safe within certain parameters.  At least I did until my job situation changed and I had no choice; I had to face my deepest fears.

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.  ~Jim Morrison

On December 16 of this past year, I was called into my executive director’s office at work.  My job had been cut to half-time. The congregation I was working with lost members and our school lost students.  Initially, I was stunned, never had I heard of a Jewish Educator going to half-time mid-year.

Instead of licking my wounds, I started really thinking about what I wanted with my life. Did I want to remain in Jewish Education? Did I want to stay in Tucson or move closer to the water? Could I find a way to focus on ways to grow while also sustaining myself financially.  There was and still is so much to consider.  The questions I was asking myself were endless.

What I had initially decided is that I wasn’t ready to push myself hard to find the ‘right’ position, I needed some time to breathe deeply and consider what I really wanted to do.  And the good news is that while I now had no health insurance, I did have a half-time salary.  Even with everything being strained financially, I was willing to take the time to seek the best working environment for me by deciding what I needed to best thrive in a new work environment.

As the days of my new work situation turned into weeks, and then months, I have been allowing myself the quiet time to figure out what would be next.  I interviewed for new positions and learned how to live with less; I grew angry for what I was enduring and I let the anger go.  I allowed myself to take this journey with few preconceived notions.  I wasn’t sure how I would emerge from where I was; I am still not sure how I will emerge, but I will.

There was and still is a thrill in learning how to live with less and accepting help.  From the beginning, I thought about my needs and wants, my space and how I craved simplicity.  And then my son Aryeh found a job and helped financially.  And then a friend gave me a job as a care-giver for the agency she worked; this allowed me to supplement my income.  When my car broke down, a friend lend me part of the money to fix it and when I was short the rent money one month, it showed up as a gift.  I am still reflecting and learning how to deal with where I am today.

Torrey Pines State Reserve Photo courtesy of David Davidson

Photo courtesy of David Davidson: Torrey Pines State Reserve

The Journey continues. . . .

And then in April or May I learned that the congregation that moved me from Washington, DC to Tucson two years ago could no longer afford me.  Effective June 1st, I was no longer employed as a Jewish Educator.  I had no guaranteed income and I had lost my community.

While I was aware that I could lose my position, I was also hopeful that I could continue working part time as the Youth Education Director.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, the congregation said that they couldn’t afford my salary.  The new reality made it time to figure out the next chapter and quick (or maybe not so quick).

Moving forward is not optional.  Choosing to find light in the dark moments propels me to soar.  Allowing myself time to ask some important questions as I make this new reality work is scary, but feels wise too. With each day, I choose to celebrate the blessings that always surround me. My friends, far and near, have never wavered in their support; the desert mountains and the magnificent skies nurture my spirit even though I miss the ocean.

And in this moment, I am blessed to be working as a care-giver with some amazing people and earlier this week a friend gave me a short-term  freelance job within Jewish education. I seem to be staying afloat for the most part.

Reality 

From the moment I was given my walking papers from the temple, I was forced to look at my deepest fears directly.  As a result, I have always been terrified of not having the money I need to sustain my family with even their most basic needs.  Growing up without healthy food or the clothing appropriate for a girl in the suburbs was hard.   And for the first time in my adult life, I know that I there are times when I may not afford  rent, utilities, or basic necessities.  If something goes wrong, I will not have what I need to make things work.  And yet, I am blessed with friends and a belief that all will ultimately be good.

As a young teenager, my family  didn’t have enough food and the fear of foreclosure was constantly looming. Potential homelessness was a possibility then and now it is again.  And while it would be easier if I lived on the east coast because we do have friends there that would shelter us, my guess is that I have friends in Tucson too.  The beauty of where I am today is that I am beginning to heal from the experiences of my youth; I also realize that I have more tools now.  I understand what it means to thrift shop, borrow, and cook from scratch.  As a child, I really didn’t have the tools to help myself.  And today, I have something I never had before, I have friends and loved ones that are there for me and I am able to find the gifts within the challenges.

I am no stranger to financial struggles, as a Jewish professional (not clergy), I have always just made it financially. And when my children suffered health crises, we sometimes didn’t know how we would afford even their most basic needs. Yet, in the end, all of our needs and many of our wants have always been met often with the help of friends.  For me, darkness always turns into light.

What’s next?

I want to live consciously in all areas of my life.  Being authentic matters whether it is with people, my environment, or the larger world.  My words and my actions should support my beliefs and my spirit.

My foundation is what it is because of the role Judaism has had in my life.  The teachings have given me the wisdom to grow and the room to wrestle. Doors have opened to me because of my many interactions with the social actions of my previous communities.  When one door opens, I often find many other doors ajar.  Some I will go through; some I will not. I am who I am because I listened to the values of my faith and used it as a springboard to move me through life and learning from others.

So now, I have to figure out how to have a career that either nurtures who I am and/or allows me the time to make a positive impact within the world I live.  My hope is that I can do both. I love people and working with people; I also love the idea of working behind the scenes to get things done.  Even though, I have only really worked within the Jewish community, it doesn’t mean that I have to stay there. I have learned so many skills that can take me wherever I go.  I really am looking forward to the next chapter and hoping that it allows me the room to be creative either on or off the job.

My purchases should be mindful of the people and the physical planet I live; my interactions with family, friends, and others should always be sweet and caring.  Living in the world means I have a responsibility for walking gently and lovingly with each step and with each word.  Everything I do matters.

Today, I am considering ways to ignite my non-profit organization, find or create a meaningful work environment, taking time to write, and living into the answers of my many questions.  Today I am fully embracing life.

Each step in this 8 month journey has been scary. Yet it is also exciting to explore what is now meaningful to me and how I will afford my needs for now and into the future.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know that I am trusting the universe and doing what I need to do to move forward.

May today and every day lead us beyond our fears and towards freedom.

Read Full Post »

Middah (character trait) focus: Moving forward with grace

Wondering if this is graceful. . . .

Wondering if this is graceful. . . .

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

I am a person who acknowledges who I am and what my intentions are; I attempt to always walk forward with both integrity and transparency.  At times, it isn’t easy to walk as I do, but it is a part of me.  At the same time, I journey towards peace (both inner and outer peace).  While the journey is sometimes difficult, in the end, each step propels me towards a more authentic life allowing me to be impactful for good.

Making an impact for good is profoundly important to me.  Those of you that know me personally, know that I sometimes offend people with my directness; I am honest and intense in how I walk in this world. While I may offend people, it is often because of how I grapple with what I see not because I want to make others uncomfortable.  And I am also a loving human being that thrives on positive interactions and sweet connections.

With that in mind, I have chosen to navigate my latest journey in the most graceful way I know how.  (We all have our journeys, don’t we?) My hope is that I hold myself in a positive way.  I love life, I love the people that I have chosen and that have chosen me for their world.  I connect with people whether I walk in a store, on a mountain, on the sidewalks next to a busy street; I couldn’t make these connections if I didn’t embrace life as I do.

Deep anger and dark energy would not make me approachable in any way.  I love being the person that touches people with my warmth and smile; I can’t imagine being any other way.  That doesn’t mean that I am not sad right now; I am struggling with taking care of my family financially and how I will transition if I have to move.  And guess what – it really is about finances and I believe that as long as my family does what it needs to do that we will land on our feet even if I have to ask for help.  Moving forward with grace is about focusing on the many positives and not harping on what was.  Each step of my journey has been full of open doors.  Sometimes the doors are open briefly and sometimes the doors are wide open for a lifetime.  I need to see the world as being full of opportunities; I need to concentrate on the good; and I need to move forward by doing all that needs to be done with a gentleness within me.

And with every step, I need to remember that my family is blessed with good health, loving friends and a ‘can do’ attitude.  We will be ok for sure and probably even great in just a short time.

With all of this in mind – May I move forward with grace – now and always.

Read Full Post »