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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island
And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

~From Paul Simon’s ‘I Am A Rock’ 
For most of my childhood and even my adult life, I grew to treasure Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am A Rock” as a mantra in my life. As soon as the song played, I would feel like this song was written just for me. My heart would begin racing quickly, my spirit would feel at peace and I would sing out the words, “I AM A ROCK; I AM ISLAND” as if I were greeting my best friend.
Subconsciously, I always understood that I needed to protect myself from being hurt by others. And this song reminded me that I had my armor; I was actually doing just fine. Of course, I wasn’t. . . I was alone and even if I wasn’t alone, I felt like I was.
And then I met Louis at my senior prom. I am sorry Shai. I went with one of my closest friends and met the person who would become my first real boyfriend. Louis was and still is one of the most amazing people I had ever met. He loved me deeply and accepted the brokenness that must have been a pain to deal with. Or maybe he didn’t see how broke I was because it took me nearly twenty years after meeting him before I understood the ramifications of my traumatic childhood.
Either way, Louis showed up and held me. He helped me find my voice and allowed me to be who I was. Of course what does any 18 year old really understand about who they are? Louis loved who I was and who I believed I was at that time.
When I say that Louis helped me find my voice, that is true in every way. He listened to me and helped melt away the years of ice that had wrapped my spirit. He wrote me beautiful poems that let me know how loved I was. And he invited me to sing with him and to him. He welcomed me into his world and loved me for who I was.
And later when our relationship ended because Louis came out, he always held a space for me in his life. I was shattered when he told me could no longer be my beloved boyfriend because he realized that that wasn’t who he was. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. And in truth, since the day we met, my life has never been without him. Louis was the first person outside of my family who really loved me forever.
Fifteen years later, when I brought my father to the hospital for what would become his last six weeks of life, Louis was the first person I called and he was the one person who sat with me as one of the worst nightmares of my life unfolded. I was saying good-bye to my father who I had always deeply adored and somehow forgiven for not being able to keep me safe, for not being the father he should have been. I was beyond devastated; and my sons, nieces, and nephews were losing the best Zaydie Morry, grandfather, in the world.
As I sat crumbling in the depths of despair, Louis held me and told me that everything would be OK. Only I didn’t believe him, but he was right, eventually a new norm unfolded and everything became OK once again. Louis has always been there for me.
Chava and Louis - Passover 2016

Louis and Chava – Passover 2016

I jokingly refer to myself as the wandering Jew; I will probably always feel that way. Regardless of where my family moved, Louis has stayed part of my life. When my family moved back Washington DC, he started coming to our Passover Seder every year and then when we again moved away, he still kept coming back every other year. He has been with me through every life cycle event and major life change since I met him. He has showed up even when I didn’t expect him to.

Meeting Louis also meant that I was blessed to connect to his beautiful family. His parents were really sweet to me and I grew to love one of his sisters nearly as much as I loved Lou!  And when we were in college, he introduced me to the most amazing women who while I don’t see them enough, I treasure beyond words.
While I still struggle with feeling alone at times and “shielding myself with armor”, it was Louis’ commitment to loving me that opened the door to me becoming the person I am.  I may sometimes feel like “a rock” or “an island”, but it is also the lie I tell myself as way of protecting my spirit.
May we all have at least one person who embraces us for who we are.

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.

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Chava's Shadow 17January2016Tonight I went to sleep early. After navigating Hurricane Harvey for nearly two weeks, I crashed. For three precious hours, I curled up into a ball and slept. I needed it too!

And then in an instant, I was awake again. For the next three plus hours, I tried to catch up with the world. And for the most part, I felt like a spectator watching my heart break.

Ironically, just as I was facing the darkness that was surrounding me, a new storm emerged. Outside, thunder and lightening shattered the quiet night skies, water started to rise (again), and the lights started to flicker.  While this was reality, it was also a metaphor for how I was experiencing the world.

Being openly vulnerable as I navigate the many storms feels right in this moment. While recently some of my friends have referred to me courageous and brave, they have little idea what is sometimes lurking below the surface. I am feeling ill equipped for the life that surrounds me.           

Hurricane Harvey
Trump
Devastation
Traffic
Deep Sadness
Defending DACA
Nuclear Weapons
Lost Friendships
Changing Realities
New Beginnings
Loneliness

Baseless Hatred
Storms
Normalcy
Hurricane Irma
and so much more. . .  

Life is challenging, as it often is in the middle of a storm. And with each breath, I am becoming calmer. And yet, I am also acutely aware that in this moment, the troubles of the world and my soul are closing in. This is the reality of being alone in the middle of the night as a storm threatens to encroach on your sense of well being.

Navigating vulnerability is what follows both the devastation and the kindness that I have seen since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday, August 25th. This pain also comes from seeing who in your life will show up and who will not. In some ways, everything has changed; in other ways nothing has changed.

The good news is that after 51 years of life, I am aware that calm will come after this storm has passed. For now, I am simply acknowledging where I am.

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One of Jamie's last photos  - Kauai: Paradise Found

One of Jamie’s last Facebook photos – Kauai: Paradise Found

I love deeply.

As someone who loves people as I do, I often connect with people instantly.  It is not something I think about, it simply is. What I have learned over the last fifteen or so years is that I either have a connection or I don’t.  Are there exceptions to this rule. . .absolutely, but it is still a guiding principle within my life.

Some of my closest friendships have been made in 20 seconds or less on a good day, up to a minute on a questionable day. For the most part, if a friendship takes too much work initially, it isn’t a friendship worth keeping.

The people that come into my life in under a minute quickly become my soul friends. I often forget that they haven’t been in my life forever. Which can become awkward when I KNOW they know something, that of course they don’t. Those relationships tend to transcend time or space. Those are the friendships I want to keep and hold forever.

The only problem is that those friendships don’t always last.  Sometimes they end because they had an expiration date and sometimes they end because of serious illness or death.

Just this week, I lost a new friend, Jamie Zimmerman. You wouldn’t have known it by how we connected, but it is what it is.  In my heart, I think we both believed that we would one day do something profound together; I don’t know what I mean by that. . .it was just a hunch. The only problem is that earlier this week, an accident on the beaches of Hawaii took her life. As soon as I heard this, I couldn’t stop sobbing.  We had just had a couple of hours together when she came to Houston a couple of months ago. Loved our time and couldn’t wait until we would meet again.

But sometimes there are no tomorrows. http://wp.me/pthnB-5i So as I am wiping my tears away, I wonder how to best remember this brilliant woman. With an amazing gusto for living her passions, she wanted to share all she knew and inevitably spread her light too. She was a born leader who generously gave her heart and soul. While Jamie was nearly 20 years younger than I am, I had so much to learn from this beautiful soul.  I am so sorry I don’t have more time with her, but also grateful for the time I did have.

Jamie’s death has forced me to look at how I walk in the world.  How can I face the reality of sudden loss? How do I process accidents at all? Last month another friend of mine had a cycling accident.  I took that one hard too and he really was ok by the time I knew of his fall – battered and healing.

Over the last several years, I have learned that dread and vulnerability fill me when I hear of sudden accidents and loss whether they cause death or simply physical challenges of all sorts. Perhaps it is because I realize that as a single mother, I fear that my children would be alone if something happened to me. Or perhaps I have felt and witnessed the effects of sudden loss.  Either way, I am struggling internally right now.

Early onset of dementia took another close friend away a few years ago.  In fact, my friend Sharon was the person, I had planned to give my most personal information before I realized that the door of opportunity had closed.  Life doesn’t always work as we expect. Sigh.

With every fiber of my being, I hope I never lose the ability to connect with people as I do.  And yet I do need to find a way to accept the realities that come with loving people.  Those that I love will not necessarily always be present. Nor is it a given that I will be present for them.

The responsibility to live in the most authentic way possible becomes a necessity when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  It also means that I am responsible for being fully present in life and with those I love.  Tomorrow will be what it is, so I have to actively engage in this moment and to be the best person I can be within each of my interactions with the world; whether I connect daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or even less, my hope is that I will always the best person I can be.

Thinking about Jamie
Jamie was full of life; she actively engaged in life and strived to embrace all of life.  She also had a keen sense of how to honor herself and reach for her highest self.  I didn’t know Jamie well, but I wish I did.  Her spirit was full of light, she illuminated not only where she was standing at any given moment, but her beautiful energy brightened the world.  The world is a much better place because of her presence in it.

While I don’t know what Jamie and I may have accomplished if given the opportunity, I do know that I need to take the lessons I learned from our brief friendship.  And that is exactly what I will do.

~ ~ ~

May I learn to kiss the ground with my feet and reach for the stars with every bone in my body.

May I be blessed with the fearlessness to let my full light shine as I nurture my spirit a little more fully.

May I never stop loving as deeply as I do out of fear of losing the beauty of what was.

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If you do not change direction,
you may end up where you are heading.

~Lao Tzu

While I tend to always land on my feet regardless of what is happening in my world. In the last several years I have discovered something very surprising about my personality.  I love continuity! Knowing I have close friends nearby; trusting the love of an old friend; hosting Shabbat meals, holiday celebrations, and gatherings of all sorts with people that love me and know me for who I am.

With that in mind, I am struggling with limbo. I am getting ready to work in an awesome community where I will make new friends and new memories. I’ve never had trouble connecting with people.  For that I am grateful. And yet, in this very moment, I am mourning the loss of connections and the beauty of old friendships. The blessing is that most of the friendships are still with me, just not close enough to touch.

My ‘wandering Jew’ days are not what they once were.

As I sit in my new home in Houston, I realize how empty I am feeling in this moment. I have no real doubt that I will find myfooting and that new friends will bring life into my home or that I will connect with people that one day will love my quirkiness, my sense of humor, and my rhythm, but in this moment I realize that that time is just out of my reach.

I want to be a friend as intensely as I want to be held in friendship. I simply love life and the beautiful connections that emerge.  I also know that without a doubt that my time in Houston will include actively engaging in my passions as both a Jewish Educator and an activist. I will make a difference for good and impact those that I interact with.  It just takes time. . .I have to trust that reality.

For this moment, I am grieving the many losses I have felt and acknowledging the vulnerability that comes with loneliness. I am in a state I never thought I would live in and I have no one to call, no one to reach out to, no one that would come to sit with me if I needed them. OK-this is a good moment to laugh at myself.  Of course I have people, just not any of my besties.

I will never forget the friends that surrounded me a few years ago when I needed to have surgery. At one point, after being taken to my hospital room, I was miserable and physically alone. At that point, my dear friend came into my room and sat with me when I couldn’t stop puking. At one point, I looked up to her beautiful eyes and asked her how she could sit there and wipe me up in all of my disgust.  She just smiled and said she’s a mother. . . .her love simply flowed.  And then there was another friend who took a few days of work to be with me regardless of my mood. I was such a horrid patient, but that friend is still one of my closest friends and the person I can call when darkness looms.

In every city, I have ever lived, I have found beloved friends that fuel my soul and appreciate the person I am. I just have to trust the universe that coming to Houston will be no different.

After last week’s doldrums, I will forever treasure the words that flowed from Stephanie Fink, one of my closest Tucson friends,

“You are tired in many ways as your inner butterfly prepares to emerge from this cocoon.
You will fly free and dance among sunlit blossoms that have been
awaiting the touch of your vibrant wings.”

After only two years of friendship, my friend knows me and loves my spirit! With that I know that I wings are ready to take flight and all will be good. My experiences in Houston will be awesome!

Remember . . . Let It Go Courtesy of Karen Judin

Courtesy of Karen Judin

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“Friendship is one soul dwelling in two bodies.”
~Aristotle 

Topsail 2011 - Surrounded by lifetime friends - I miss them every day!

Topsail 2011 – Surrounded by lifetime friends.                   Think about them each and every day!

I have been blessed with friends, good friends, loving friends.  Both new and old friends have touched my life again and again sometimes for years and sometimes for moments.  Some of my friends have touched my life since childhood and some since moving to Tucson less than a year ago.

Over the past weeks, I have been blown away by the love and connections I have felt surrounding me.  From all over the globe I have had moment after moment where my friends have touched me or reached out to me at exactly the right time.  New friends and old friends have reminded me of the power of friendship.

In the last week or so alone:

  • Received a gift in the mail – a mug that said “It is what it is.” While the mug broke, I LOVED it nonetheless.  This is the one motto that has guided my life since 2001. . .These are some of the last words I remember my father saying before he took his final breath.
  • Another friend told me she was trying to book a ticket to see me just because she thought I needed her.
  • Learned from a friend about new possibilities for embracing my newest dietary journeys/struggles.
  • Meanwhile, a childhood friend told me he needed to send me a product he loves because he thought it would be good for my health.
  • A bunch of friends called at the perfect moment just to surround me with a cocoon of love.
  • One friend emailed me ideas with tools to re-ignite my non-profit dream.
  • New friends emerged with ideas to grow the religious school experience my students have.
  • My writing was acknowledged by friends who want me to keep writing because my words make a difference in their lives.
  • Love notes/emails from members of my community that are happy I came to Tucson.
  • Text messages reminded me that I am both thought of and loved.
  • Laughter, fun, stories, and song. . . .all with friends.

The melancholy that is filling me at this moment does not come from sadness, it comes from awe.  How can I be so blessed to have friends who love me and reach out as they do?  My hope is that I am am truly worthy of the love and warmth I receive.

May the love of old and new friends touch us now and always.

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Networking has always been a part of the world; Human beings connect with people to seek information, share skills, and help one another.

Today’s networking is different than the networking of 10-15 years ago because people who know each other and virtual strangers alike are literally lending a metaphoric hand.  People are willing to share without payment or expectation. Kindness permeates the social networking world as well as strengthens human relationships.

computer2

Friends share their reservoir of knowledge easily and without question.   Sometimes they even share their hearts and souls.   Over the past years, I have received and shared everything from simple to complex information including:

  • news
  • recipes
  • music
  • lesson plans
  • information to save the world and human lives
  • health information
  • coaching
  • photos
  • emotional support
  • philosophical insight
  • finding safe houses for those in need
  • Judaic knowledge
  • political insight
  • tech resources
  • friendship
  • inspiration
  • trails to hike
  • jobs
  • skills
  • etc

The list is infinite, really infinite. . . .each day I am amazed at the interconnectedness of the world through social media.  With a few clicks of your smart phone or your mouse, you share.

Even today, I was trying to equate the virtual connections with karma, but was looking for a Jewish value to connect to this idea.  Karma is not a Jewish concept per se.  So I went onto FB and asked.  I received two answers that resonated with me from three people.  Mitzvah k’neged mitzvah* (measure for measure or good deed leads to a good deed) and basheret (it was meant to be).  The conversation was fun and made a few of us think.  When you take the time to share what you know, you ultimately receive it back ten-fold. People tend to want to give freely and ultimately you never know how the connections will help people make a living, find answers to unsolved questions, or feel loved.

I was trained to share through working in one of the noblest professions I know.  Jewish Education. Educators, by enlarge, share freely and try to help their colleagues be the best educators they can be.  I have found that when my teaching or administrative experiences seem to be at a lacking, my colleagues are always up for helping me work through whatever challenges I am facing.  In truth, I would say this to be true for most Jewish communal professionals that I have worked with, not just the educators.  Anyways, aren’t we all educators?

About 6 years ago, I realized the enormous power of networking when my son and I needed a place to stay in California for an extended period of time.  With little or no extra money and fear of the unknown, we were faced with the darkest period of our family’s life when Aryeh needed to have brain surgery to save his life.  Ultimately, my connection with the national organization paid off, via email I reached out to friends and family around the globe and asked for help.  Many people offered and in the end I stayed with one dear friend who I had known through my beloved and now defunct organization, CAJE (Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Educators).  Through networking we found everything we needed including a car.

Today, I watch with fascination how organizations like Facebook, Twitter, 140edu Conference and Darim Online have transformed my life.  Each of the above resources are there when I need them.  I can post a serious question, a curiosity, an emotion online and I will get feedback.  It is beautiful.  I am now living in Tucson, Arizona far from the worlds I have lived on the east coast.  Regardless, my friends and colleagues are still answering questions from Montana to Brazil, from New York City to Oregon.  The internet has enabled me to remain connected to the larger world and to feel supported in all my endeavors.

Over the last years, I have learned to love people I have yet to meet.  When I had major surgery two and half years ago, friends from all over send me healing words to put on my vision board. People care; people are giving.  Most of the folks who mailed me words on beautiful paper were friends that I had kept in touch via social media.

Over time, I have learned to ask for what I want and need; some are willing to give, some not.  Each person has to find a balance that makes them feel comfortable. I have asked professional photographers if I could post their photo on my blog who often say sure.  The key is to always give credit for any information you receive.  And to graciously accept when someone responds no.  Everyone is navigating life with the tools they have. Some people are concerned that if they share, they might hurt themselves professionally.  Ironically that seems to be furthest from the truth.  The more you give, the more people want to support your endeavors both financially and  emotionally.

Professionally, I received a huge gift two or three years ago when I watched a webinar from 140 Characters Conference.  Information about Jeff Keni Pulver’s brainchild can be found at 140edu.com.  For two days I became riveted by what this conference offered.  Following this conference, I was able to receive information via Twitter from some of the most amazing educators of all time; the experience of learning from some of the wisest people I have ever encountered in my life was empowering.  Holy Wow!!! I haven’t stopped learning from these people that give so unselfishly.  It all started because Jeff Keni Pulver, and perhaps others, had a vision.

Networking has opened up my world.  Today I have an amazing job, I am starting a non-profit, I am editing two books, writing my own books, blogging with a following, helping other people work towards their dreams, and more.

Opportunities are flowing; my spirit is soaring.  Networking has added to the quality of my life.

If you haven’t been networking yet, give it a try. . . .

 

*mitzvah – more accurately means commandment, but in this case good deed works too.

 

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