Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Life is really messy.

Around every corner there are ups and downs. Moments when you are soaring and moments when you are flopping around like a fish out of water. And if you are intense like me, it may feel like your life is bouncing around as quickly as some people can flip a coin.

Sometimes I wonder if I walk the world this way because my childhood didn’t teach me many tools for coping with life’s grit. And as a young adult and later a young mother, I learned to live as a chameleon. I buried many of my emotions and did what was expected of me. And for the most part I pulled it off fairly well. Or at least I think I did. Of course, what do I really know about how I was received by others.

To be transparent, my life has probably always been far from normal. As a young newly married woman, I faced nine miscarriages, several failed adoption attempts, an adoption, buried my parents, navigated serious illnesses for my children, employment struggles for the family breadwinner, and so much more.

Nonetheless, I engaged in living and doing whatever needed to be done to propel my family forward, support my community, and keep a smile on my face. I simply plugged away at living. I am not sure that I found it easy because interspersed with some really tough moments, but I had dinner on the table every night. We welcomed people into our home nearly every Shabbat. I cooked meals for those who were ill and organized our community to help families in the midst of health crisises. I even kept my home  clean, laundry done, and always held down a part time job.

I had an I can do ANYTHING spirit, only inside that is not how I felt. I used to wonder why everyone in the world could keep their houses clean, nurture their children, and have a full life.  Everyone seemed to do it with an ease that ALWAYS escaped me. It is only since I started following social media closely that I realized that I was never alone. All of us have our own personal struggles.

Fortunately social media, Oprah, and podcasts have helped me realize that I am so not alone in this very real struggle. Only over the last five or so years have I  been introduced to the wisdom of three people that rock my world as creatives because of how honestly they shared their struggles of living in the messy middle. They inspire people to:

  • Live in the “marvelous messy middle”. ~ SARK
  • “Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

And to understand:

  • “Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real.” ~Glennon Doyle

Each of these amazing women choose to share their personal journeys of living in the midst of life’s sometimes very challenging realities while being aware that moving forward doesn’t always present us with easy solutions for living according to what society deems “normal”. They continually inspired me (and still do) to show up in my world as authentically as possible.

Hiking BootsI feel blessed to now walk with ease in my own messy middle and the outer banks too. While it took me over fifty years to emerge fully as myself. I ultimately found my voice through writing, chanting, drumming, and only in the last year through painting little cards.  I am the woman I am because how I have chosen to navigate my own rocky paths.  I am so grateful that I learned to live out loud by sharing my life experiences without apology, accepting that I don’t fit into any box, and loving myself for who I am.

I have also done some really hard stuff including leaving the traditional Jewish community, moving cross country with my sons, divorcing my husband, and publicly changing my name when I realized my parents lost their right to name me.  I wanted a name that honored who I am today, so I gave myself one.  I am Chava Gal-Or. Chava means life because I am a woman who thrives regardless of what sh*t crosses her path and I become empowered by whatever life tosses in my direction. Gal-Or means wave of light; this is my reminder not only to be light, but to find the light in whoever and whatever crosses my path. Perhaps the hardest thing I am doing right now is sharing my life stories via my writing; I am not holding back, I am diving deep and navigating some really harsh realities that have lead me to rise as the woman I am.

Yes, I live in the messy middle. I feel deeply. I struggle to breathe when life overwhelms me. I often believe I don’t do enough to make our world a better place. I wonder if I love enough and do enough for my family, my work, my beloved friends, etc. I struggle with believing that I am worthy and yet I understand that the Inner Demon speaks loudly to me and it is my job to show up and keep showing up. On a good day, I quiet that voice and stretch my arms wide open to life. On a bad day, the demon wins, but I push forward anyway. I am learning.

Living in the messy middle has become a norm for me and I am OK with that. I am “perfectly imperfect” as Anne Lamott would say.  Hineini, Here I am!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

best photo ever!Awakening

Opening my eyes I found:
my spirit soaring.
my heart beating strongly.
my entire being at peace.

The universe has been waiting for me.

With the patience of a lover, she kept calling me from the distance and waiting. . . always waiting.
Beckoning me to breathe a little more deeply
Inspiring me to honor my own rhythm
Asking me to listen to the silence
Empowering me to release what no longer serves me

And I listened. Hineini, Here I am!

***** ***** *****

Yesterday I returned home from the most amazing spiritual retreat I’ve had in over a decade.  After spending nearly five glorious days and nights in South Padre Island at the home of dear friends, I feel more grounded than I have in years.  Sacred time nestled between the Gulf of Mexico on the east, and Laguna Madre on the west was truly a gift in every way.

From the moment I got to my newly found oasis until the moment I left to return home, I felt at peace with the land, the water, the sunrises, the sunsets, the wind, and even the cool weather. I relaxed, I created, I took long walks, and I rested. I felt the sun warm my soul while my friends nourished me in every way.

For so long, I have needed to allow my rhythm to be my guide. I needed the quiet and to put down my ‘to do’ list. I needed to feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin. I needed long walks, awesome food, and love. It feels like forever since I allowed myself to decompress the way I did.

I even took time to watch AWESOME movies, become inspired by some of the most thought-provoking TED Talks. I know my friends wanted to show me the dolphins, the local birds, but all I needed was the water, the sun, and the time we had together.

sunset - bayNext time I need to soar, may I remember to take the time to ground myself with nature, with friends, or if I am lucky – with both. I am so lucky that the universe beckoned to me and that I listened.

South Padre Island nurtured me on down to each and every one of my cells. My heart feels a little more whole, my spirit feels more grounded even as it soars, and I feel ready for the rhythm of the next six or so weeks. I needed this sacred time so that I could refuel for all that is ahead!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,

Chava

 

 

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

Onward with love, light, & action,
Chava

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

Read Full Post »

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.”
~Rumi

No one heard me when I was younger. No one. I got used to it – so used to it that I nearly buried myself in drug abuse. With no way out and no one to hear my cries, I found solace in remaining wasted.

I started young and covered up the disarray  of my soul with more blankets of dysfunction. And no one knew; no one heard my cry for help. Instead I had to find my own way out. At 16 years old, I decided to leave the world of mind altering drugs behind and to build a new foundation.

The only trouble is that I never learned how to handle my emotions when I thought no one was willing to listen. Even now, I feel a deep sense of loss when I am not being heard or my thoughts are even temporarily being ignored.  Intellectually, I know that people are busy, but inside I am still the little girl no one heard.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday, I wrote about how I was feeling drawn to listening to the quiet (https://wp.me/pthnB-3bP), but I do so with the awareness that my beloveds need to be seen, to be known, and to be loved as my spiritual mentor and writer SARK would teach.

Over the past weeks, I have been amazed at the silence I have needed to surround myself with, but I have been equally aware that I have had some friends that have needed me to be present. So, that is exactly what I did. I found myself taking a flight from Houston to Tucson so that I could nurture a friend who was recovering from major surgery. I also, connected with friends that were struggling with other challenges, and I almost helped a woman reunite with her 5 year old son by driving her four hours to pick up her son and then return to Houston. Fortunately, I ended up not needing to take the drive, but I would have.

Life happens.

AcknowledgeHere is the thing I have learned over the years. I am virtually alone. I have amazing family in Israel, but they are too far away to help without notice. AND I have the most dedicated friends in the world, but they are all over the map. Currently, I live in Houston and if it weren’t for barely a couple of people from my community and my sons, I would struggle if I really needed help; I just don’t have a support system here.

There is some really good things that come from feeling lonely and being virtually alone. I have come to understand that even when I know that my beloved friends and family are busy/distracted by life, I need to feel like I am seen.  Not all the time, but sometimes feeling ignored can hurt me deeply. Unfortunately, my childhood sense of alone-ness is never too far behind.

That realization is helping me become a better friend. If I need to be acknowledged, so do others. Everyone wants to be seen.

I am far from perfect, but I am improving over time. I am also getting better at telling those that I love, that sometimes I need a quick response with a promise that the other person will reach out as soon as possible.

My own loneliness has lead me to becoming a more beautiful friend; I think that is a good thing.

May we all show up the best way we know how; may we give those that need light, a spark from our own reservoir. And if you need me, please let me know. I am not a mind reader.

Onward with love and light,
Chava

Read Full Post »

Gratitude abounds.

Over the past weeks, I have found that my entire being has craved quiet. The chatter of loved ones has been too much for me. Voices on the phone, chatting via text, and conversations with strangers have all nearly stopped.

The good news is that I have been able to show up for work, for family/friends, and for the world as needed. If, however, I was not needed, I have learned not to show up.

With every ounce of my being, I want to make this world a better place. Wandering our beloved universe, I have always wanted to serve those in need and our earth too. At the same time, I have also had to temporarily release my sense of responsibility for the world.

Honoring my need for quiet has forced me to wrestle with the question, ‘Am I enough? In truth, the answer is that I could be more, do more, and give more. AND I am also aware that if I didn’t take time to move towards a quieter place, I wouldn’t be able to emerge as one of the many caregivers of our world. We have to take care of ourselves first so that we can ultimately do the holy work of showing up for our world.

Growing up, my father used to gently and firmly put his hands over my ears and cradle my head lovingly between his hands. With love he would say, “Listen to the quiet.”

While my father no longer walks in this world, his sweet words resonate inside my soul.

Abba*, I am listening. I hear the quiet.

rocking chair

*Daddy

 

 

Read Full Post »

With a broken heart, I take a cleansing breath. Aren’t all of our hearts broken by living life as we do?

I inhale the light
I exhale the darkness

I inhale the blessings
I exhale the pain

I inhale the love
I exhale the loneliness

I inhale the gifts
I exhale the challenges

And with each breath, I am responding to the rhythms of our universe, of my world. I inhale the beauty and I exhale that which needs to be released.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

I have always opened my heart and spirit to feel the realities that surround me. And yet, I have moments when I simply feel invisible – that is only part of the story.

I inhale when I am seen
I exhale when I feel invisible

Everyone is invited to a gathering, but me.
My heartfelt text messages go unanswered.
Someone I love closes the door without so much as a word.
All of the above leaving me to wonder and wonder some more. . . .

And yet I wake up each day knowing that I matter even in the moments that I feel unseen. My village shows up and surrounds me with love even when they sometimes forget to invite me into their lives.

The connection ultimately transcends the ego – always.

The call in the middle night from a friend in crisis reminds me that I am seen. My friend knows that my door is open any time I am needed.

And then there are the friends that reach out when they want me to create a sacred cleansing ritual for their new home. I am known for burning sage, chanting, and drumming as a way to allow for a new and sweet energy to emerge into any new home.

I am here to listen to both pain and joy.
I am here to ride the waves of devastation and new beginnings.
I am here to climb mountains and navigate valleys.
I am here for life and I am here for death.
I am here, Hineini. 

With an open heart and deep love, I am here – I will always be here through gifts and challenges.

Breathe

Artwork by Chava Gal-Or; Text is from A Reflection On Nishmat by Rabbi David J. Cooper

Dichotomies fill every moment or reality in life; and with each moment comes an inhale followed by an exhale.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Read Full Post »

Mendocino CA-Sandra G. Wortzel

Mendocino, California Photo Courtesy of Sandra G. Wortzel

something inside of me broke this past week. the details don’t really matter, but it happened. at first the darkness felt like it would devastate me. while I knew that I was surrounded by a loving village, I still struggled . . .

the tears rolled down my cheeks daily (sometimes hourly) and my soul broke open. breathing wasn’t optional; if I was going to push through, I had to take one breath and then another. there were moments when all I had was my breath to get me from moment to moment. and you know what? it worked.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

there was another gift or many gifts that helped me move forward. it was the realization that as alone as I felt that I was being held by so many people that simply showed up. most of them had no idea how broken I was feeling, but I kept hearing nearly the same message time and again.

whenever I found myself the most fragile, an angel whispered. “I see you.” or an old friend would call and say, “I just want you to know how much I love you.” another phenomena that kept coming up was that virtual strangers and close friends kept reaching out to me for advice, for insight, for help and sometimes for loving energy.

barely a couple of hours passed without me being reminded that I touch peoples lives. this helped me (mostly) navigate out of my cocoon of sadness. it’s hard to stay trapped in a cocoon when angels keep forcing sparks of light in.

by the time, I realized that I wasn’t as invisible as I felt, I received the following ending email from Sark, one of my favorite writers:

You are seen, You are known, You are loved.

I remember opening up her email and thinking ‘how did she know that I needed to see those words?’

even as I am in the midst of writing this, my brother reached out and asked if I was ok, my childhood big brother showed up even though I haven’t connected with him in months, and I received an email from another friend who I have not been in close contact with.

all week long, old friends, new friends, strangers, other activists, and members of my community kept reaching out. I’d say almost none of those people had any idea that inside I was crumbling and feeling strangely invisible.

so. . .while things within my heart and spirit feel overwhelming and conflicted. the universe is communicating. hiding isn’t an option during this bout of internal pain. the angels are letting me know that there is work to do.

how beautiful is it that I truly feel loved and held through all that I am navigating. wow. what a gift to know that I am not alone.

I just need to remember in the words of Jai-Jagdeesh’s:

Know you are loved
Rest in peace
Dream your sweet dreams
“Til your soul is released

Beloved Child
My heart is yours
Beloved Child
Go out and open doors
With your love
With your faith
With your compassion
With your grace
Oh, with your grace

Beloved Child
You are the light of the world
Beloved Child
Go out, spread light to the world
Be strong, be kind, be brave
Know your mind
know that you’re are divine
Know that it’s alright to be afraid

if you want a treat, take a few minutes to get lost in not only Jai-Jagdeesh’s word, but the actual song too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om3e4qOxdLs

may the lights that shines in every corner of my world reach me and may I always remember that regardless of where I am to share that light with others. feeling grateful to live in a village that never lets me hide for long.

i got this and so do you!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »