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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.)

Once I figure out my thoughts around those I love and what I believe, I tend to hold them deep within my spirit for what feels like eternity. The only challenge is that relationships change and so do the issues. Over time everything evolves and people or things that once seemed unimportant become more prominent in our lives. And what once seemed unimaginable becomes the image that invades your thoughts. Politics has continuously reinforced that last thought.

Transformation happens.

“To transform the world,
we must begin with ourselves.

~J. Krishnamurti

As an activist, as a woman, as a friend, and as a mother, I have had to learn to release my desire to hold fast to my ideas. Time and again, I have become enlightened by new information. Feelings change, circumstances change, and it’s my job to ride the waves and do the work of transformation.

As hard as it is for me, I have watched myself change so much over the years. While I have always been Jewish, the denominations I have connected to have varied from time to time; today I am much more grounded in a more ecstatic Judaism. Once I was married, now I am not. My sons have taught me since birth to honor where they are and  we all know that children are always changing; today my sons are on their own journeys as adults. And I have lost lovers and friends, but I have also gained some precious new ones.

The political environment in the US and in Israel have given me many moments of pause. While I was once silent and completely uninformed, now I am far from it. Most of my life I didn’t consider labor practices or the realities of climate change, now I can’t get them out of my mind. I never thought that I would feel compelled to become an ally for LGBTQ or a witness to such blatant racism within our society. And the devastating conditions that refugees are forced to endure at the hands of our government is appalling.

Day 14 - OnwardToday, I have to keep showing up to whatever is in front of me. Moving forward is not an option. If someone needs me or an issue is calling to my attention, I have to find out what I can do to make this world a better place.

My job is to live life fully and out loud. It is to remain empowered “to do the next right thing” (Glennon Doyle) even as I live in the “marvelous messy middle” (SARK). Yes life is not as easy as I’d like, but I am so blessed to be always be moving forward.

How about you? How are you moving forward in your life?

Onward with love, light, & creativity,
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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Today is Day 21 (and the last day) of My Selfie Challenge. This was my time to look at how I walked in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bound my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it was my hope that as I took each photo, I would learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it was my time to find the beauty that was me.

~ ~ ~

 

As a woman, a mother, a thinker, a seeker, a free-spirit, an intuitive, a dreamer, a friend, a sister, a healer, an activist, a loving soul, and a human being, I believe that my voice needs to soar. In fact, I believe that most human beings that are doing their part to make the world a better place need to be preaching their truth as they stand with humanity.

Over the past 21 days, I have felt trapped in the selfie box. While I may have felt trapped, I now feel free because in the end I realized some very important truths about myself.

  1. My voice matters.
  2. I am beautiful inside and out.
  3. Living in these times and in the confines of my life have made me painfully raw and intense.
  4. I am deeply broken and always have been yet I have learned to show up and be the most authentic and loving soul I can be.
  5. Friendships mean the world to me and the pain of unexpected loss leaves me bereft – forever. I move forward, but the pain endures.
  6. Sometimes there is a place in this world for rage AND the time is now. The fucked up nature of our world means that their is no time for silence.  Our voices need to rise up for those that are disabled, the Dreamers, the Native Americans, the marginalized, the minorities, our environment, asylum seekers, and the entire human race. We need to do all we can do to keep the world safe from guns that shouldn’t be used, by the President of our country and by the pathetic government that doesn’t seem to represent our country with dignity and love.
  7. Those that attempt to silence me or alter my words don’t belong in my life. But those that inspire me to reach higher and develop my thoughts more fully – thank you.
  8. My passion drives me and helps me embrace the world fully.
  9. While I show up with warmth, love, and a smile on my face, my intensity leaves me quietly awkward inside with an aching heart.
  10. I love the world and feel a little too deeply.

Living consciously and out loud is the gift I give to the world I love. While it doesn’t always feel comfortable for those that know me, I am feeling blessed to have the soul I have.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable. . .

Sending love, light, hope, and blessings. . . . .

 

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Elul Reflections: Coming soon

December 2016 - looking out into water

I BELIEVE IN LIVING CONSCIOUSLY AND ALWAYS BEING REAL. This isn’t easy. You see, like all of us, I have many roles in my life. I am a mother, a sister, a friend; I am an educator, a community leader, and an activist; I am a woman, a thriver, and an intuitive. AND I am also a writer, a chanter, and a drummer; I embrace life with open arms and a passionate neshama, soul.  My creative and spiritual essence craves the freedom to share the fullness of who I am in all that I do.

According to Glennon Doyle, being real means getting ‘naked and unashamed’. While this leaves me vulnerable, it also gives me the wings I need to fly higher than I have ever flown before. Am I scared to unveil my core as a way to touch those that trip over my writings? ABSOLUTELY! My friend Diane Foushée (z’l) inspired me to reach deeply into my soul and share the fullness of my thoughts with my friends and readers. Until a couple months before her sudden death, I had no idea that she looked forward to the two times a year that I shared my journey as a seeker. During those times, I write a daily blog as I take the time to actively self-reflect and unveil my deepest thoughts.

Last year, I was too sad to write my daily Elul Reflections; although I did write a couple. Without Diane, I didn’t want to write.  I also didn’t know if my writing impacted anyone.  This feeling has changed. Over the last month, I have been blessed to have friends tell me how I have impacted their lives in a positive way.  Those friends have given me the courage to dive into sharing from my heart. As we move into Elul, the time of reflection just before the Jewish New Year, I will return to my writing practice that provided the sacred space to become more aligned as the woman I am. I will embrace the world with an open heart and a willingness to reach to a healthier and more balanced place in all that I navigate. I will share the rawness of my spirit with the gifts and challenges that are part of my reality.

As a ‘TRUTH TELLER’ and a writer, I want to weave my words and share my soul.  Join me.

Elul Reflections: Sharing My Inner Soul – Will begin Tuesday evening, August 22nd.

(Note: I have been impacted by some amazing writers and thinkers over the past couple of years. Glennon Doyle coined ‘truth teller’ and helped me through her podcasts to better understand what it means to be ‘naked and unashamed’. I am here!!! Hineini!

Other writers include Anne Lamott, Rebecca Solnit, SARK, Sheryl Sandberg (all from the Bay area – WOW!) and Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Martha Beck, among so many more. I read their books, listen to their podcasts and strive to embody their wisdom. If I ever say something and do not honor them by annotating their work, please forgive me. Over time I have realized that so much of how they think has entered into my subconscious.)

 

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(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)
easel-in-corner
Learning has always caused me a tremendous amount of excitement. Not only do I love to work as a Director of Congregational Learning, I also love to stretch and grow myself in different ways. There is NEVER a time I stop being the seeker that I am.

With this in mind, I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons (a series of podcasts) when I heard:

At the end of the day, the only thing that’s perfect is a blank sheet of paper
– untouched with nothing on it. And if you’re questing for perfection,
then you will leave that blank paper blank.”
Neil Gaiman (Podcast: Magic Lesson Episode 207) 

As a passionate writer, an amateur artist, a mother, a storyteller, a friend, an educator, and more – I tend to struggle with a strong desire to reach for perfection.  And yet a person who plays so many roles, I know for a fact that I can do little or none of these roles perfectly.

My guess is that if you took time, to read every word that I have written in this blog post, you would find a spelling mistake, a grammar challenge, and a few unclear phrase or two. And if it is a natural skill or your personality, you could probably find something wrong with most everything I do.  Oh well. . .

My holy work is to create, to play, to explore, and to connect with the world around me. And to make sure I do this while finding peace in the mess that I sometimes leave in my wake.  I can’t always say the right thing or use the ‘right’ color/word/whatever. Life is full of imperfections. And many of those realities lead to beauty.  And while I may seek perfection and get frustrated by my many imperfections, the interactions with the world around me are too delicious to stop.

Always learning. . . .

The blank paper or intense silence doesn’t necessarily lead to the sparks that ignite when I take chances to interact with all the moving parts of my environment.  And yet the blank piece of paper or the silence may be exactly what I sometimes need to become grounded and ready grow or learn. Isn’t it all perspective?

As and educator, a mom, and a friend, I believe that most of us thrive using the myriad of tools to tap into learning. When free choice is coupled with the capacity to trust our spirits, it can be rather easy to soar.  This sort of awareness enables us to interact with the many environments that surround us in the  most authentic way possible.

For me and so many others, the innate curiosity  courses through our veins; it has a way of inspiring each of us to explore the world by using each and every one of our senses. That is, if we allow for our spirits to take that leap.

Always learning. . . .

Learning doesn’t have to take place at a desk in order to be called learning. Gaining knowledge takes place when I take the time talk to people, listen to the birds chirping, read an amazing book, or sometimes when I paint on the blank canvas.

All learners and all facilitators of learning know that it takes a certain amount of chutzpah, to stretch ourselves. You have to be willing get a little messy sometimes, take chances, trust your instincts, and yes, sometimes you need to make mistakes.

Hmmmm. . . .I see a metaphor forming here.

None of us succeed without doing “something” with a blank sheet of paper or a blank canvas. Success comes when we push ourselves out of comfort zone, create using all the tools at our disposal, and choose to consciously live life in the ways that feel right for you.

With the High Holy Days being right around the corner, may  we celebrate the opportunities we have had this year and seek new opportunities in the coming year. While perfection would be awesome, sometimes messing up leads to greatness.

Perhaps it is time to paint on that blank canvas at the top of this blog? What do you think?

May we find peace in the journeys we have taken this year and find new ways to stretch this coming year.

Onward with love & light!
Chava

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anxious and Humbled
How can that be?
Really?!?!
That’s me

What's beyond this bend?  Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Loebman  Jamaica

What’s beyond this bend?
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Loebman
Jamaica

 

Transition has been happening since last December when my full time job went to half-time without benefits.  And then again in June when my half-time position went to unemployment.  Along the way, I keep moving forward, finding part time gigs and navigating in the only way I know how.  The good news is that I am navigating.

The moment anxiety starts to rear it’s ugliness to me, a friend or an acquaintance show up and offer me tangible help, a way to move forward.  On the moments, that I have felt most afraid this year, a door has been opened for me.  Sometimes it happens in the way of a job, a call, or a gift.  I seem to be surrounded by people that are trying to make my life easier for not only me, but my sons too.  Most recently, some of my closest friends got together and convinced me to start a Go Fund Me drive gofund.me/g8o220; never in my wildest dreams did I think people would reach out to help me.  But they did.  Friends and strangers alike are trying to help my family move back to the East Coast.  I am feeling surrounded by those that are propelling me to a better place.

What’s astounding is that so many folks have stepped forward and are nudging me to a place of healing; financially and spiritually I am being supported.  People from my past and my present gave; People that I love dearly and people that I don’t know gave.  My friends are reaching out to their friends and sharing my story. Sometimes though, the anxiety wells up in front of me and I can’t believe believe both how far I have come and still how far I have to go; it can be daunting.  And yet, I am not alone, I have beautiful friends that are trying to making it possible for me to move forward.  I am breathing deeply and praying that I can hang on for the ride.

A warmth spreads over me when I reflect on the myriad of ways that I am receiving loving treasures.  So many have given and offered their sweetness. Some have given without being asked over the past many months.  Some are calling me and reminding me that I am loved.  One friend send me a box of amazing food goodies and another friend send me awesome fair-trade chocolate from London.  My soul is being nourished in all ways that count.  My hope, my prayer is that I am truly worthy of the trust and love I am receiving.

On Thursday, I was feeling overwhelmingly vulnerable.  And within moments of being completely overwhelmed, a friend called from Oregon just to let me know he was thinking of me and then another friend wrote and shared this poem to me.

Keep on truckin’, Mama.
Know that you are loved
by sooo many
by the Moon
and Sun and Stars
by the Universe
by God

You are light
a special spark
let it burn low for a little while
let life feed the fire for you gently
follow the wind east
pace yourself
breathe

you who give so much
receive
and be peaceful.

Written by Melissa Schaffer

What’s beautiful about my life is that somehow it works out.  Somehow the sun always rises in the east in the same way that somehow I always land on my feet and discover a better place.  So while I am not sure how moving back to the East Coast will work, I have to believe it will.  I have to do the best I can and tread beyond the bend.  Wondering what beauty I will find as I emerge?

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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 28 Elul or 2 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!

~ ~ ~

Breathe!

~ ~ ~

Regardless of how much I need to navigate, I am determined to take time to breathe-deeply.  Lately, I have been taking time each day to take three to five breaths; my hope is to feel the breath flow through me to every part of my body.  And for those few minutes that I am taking the time to breathe deeply, I feel myself grounding and feeling centered.

My life is busy, crazy busy.  Still I believe it is in my best interest to nurture my body, my mind, and my soul.  Breathing is just one tool I use; I also take time to stop and do things that inspire conscious breathing.  I:

  • watch the cycle of the moon
  • write
  • smell flowers
  • connect with friends
  • actively enjoy my sons
  • pet my dogs until they become mush in my hands
  • remain present with those that need me as a care-giver
  • take long walks
  • chant
  • hold the door open for strangers
  • see the beauty surrounding me
  • read spiritual and books poetry
  • etc

The bottom-line here is that while I am sometimes overwhelmed by the life I am leading, I am able to endure when I connect deeply to the earth and the things I love to do.  Only through breath, can I be fully connected to the world I live.  So. . . .I am learning to take more time to breathe.

With blessings & light,
Chava

pet-rock

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Ann Cameron Siegal Huntley Meadows

Huntley Meadows                                                  Photo Courtesy of Ann Cameron Siegal

So many paths are guiding me to new horizons.
As one chapter ends, it is leading to many new chapter beginnings.

A part of me broke as my move to Tucson came to be.
I lost a part of my heart; I lost a part of my soul.
And with each passing day another piece of me chipped away and is still at times peeling.
My spirit lost one friend, then another, and looking back. . . .
I lost the only home I ever knew.

Tucson was a chance, a chance to grow, to evolve, and to find a new home.
Instead for a time, it was the place that I became lost.
Friends were gone; community no longer existed except via Twitter, Facebook, and phone.
For a time my sons and I had only each other.

With each loss, I found the strength to keep moving, even with the gaping hole in my heart.
I began reminding myself to breathe deeply, as deeply as I could.
And I believed that one day I would be OK.
In truth just being Ok has never been enough; what I really have always needed was to thrive.

I am ultimately stronger now than I was when I first arrived in Tucson.
There are moments when my life feels overwhelming, when drama takes hold.
But more moments fill me with blessings as I honor the human being I am becoming.
So many dichotomies, so much adversity, and yet. . .
I breathe in devastation and I breathe out wholeness.

I am becoming whole, always building and rebuilding my foundation, my yesod.
The Tucson mountains remind me to reach higher,
The desert provides warmth for my soul.
The monsoons wash away the losses and devastation as the storms lull my pain to sleep.

Being in Tucson has given me the opportunity to explore where I really want to be and who I want to be. When I came to Tucson, I believed in possibilities. Two years since arriving and I am now believing in different possibilities. My job is gone, some of my friends are gone, and new connections have emerged.

The journey. . . .
Today I am looking deeply inside my soul.
What do I want for my life, my family?
Where do I want to be?
What do I want to keep with me?
Who nurtures my life? Who needs more boundaries?
How much solitude do I crave?
What do I need to do to be heathy?
Do I have what it takes to create the next chapter of my life?

The world is full of open doors.
Now is my chance to choose which doors to go through.
Only after going through new doors will I soar to new heights.

Going
Moving
Leaping
Flying
Soaring . . . .

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