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Posts Tagged ‘gift’

In 1982, I received the gift of a lifetime. I was given wings to fly and a safe place to call home. For the first time in my young life, I found solace in the land that my people had called their homeland, Israel. And I was able to close my eyes at night without the fear of being woken by loud screaming or crashing sounds.

For one year, I went to an amazing high school, traveled the country, and found what I thought would be my permanent home. While it wasn’t exactly what happened, it was the most trans-formative experience in my life. With every ounce of my being, I believe I am healthy and vibrant because my brother and his wife gave me the gift of a lifetime; they made it possible for me to go to school in Israel.

Israel provided me with a safety net that had never been afforded to me. I had friends and family that loved the wounded teenager and supported me so that I could emerge into a stronger human being. Kfar HaYarok, the High School I went to, provided me with tools to stretch and to grow as a young woman and a future leader. I am the woman I am, in part, because of my time there.

Thirty-five years later, I am coming to grips that as of Monday Israel is no longer open to me…not really.  It is the country that has closed it’s doors to people who are holding her accountable for her actions and who are consciously choosing to boycott Israel on small or large scales. People that love the land, but feel strongly that the Occupation should cease to exist. The Knesset has voted to close it’s doors to people that question. Israel is no longer open to the Jewish people (at least not all). Sigh.

For now, I need to walk gently not with those that read my blog, but for myself. As I sit here mourning the loss of Israel in my life, I am struggling. Will I ever visit my family again, walk the streets of Jerusalem, hike Ein Gedi, climb the hills of Safed, swim in the Mediterranean? Or will I stand with those that actively support BDS and peaceful/non-violent protests?

Before the Knesset ruling, I supported boycotting those that perpetuate the Occupation, but in this moment, I am doing my best to refrain from going to a more dramatic place. Perhaps I will end up there, but tonight, I will just sit with the deep sadness that comes with losing an old friend.

l’Shalom – May we find it in our day!

Note: When I was a child, I was forced to withstand some pretty horrific family dynamics including child abuse; it is all that I knew.  Just because it was my norm doesn’t mean it should have been. I feel the same way about the Occupation.

 

 

 

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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 . . . .]

TyeDye6

Honoring Our Many Moving Parts

Being a mother has been the most amazing gift in my life. And yet Mother’s Day feels arbitrary in every way. Being a mother is part of my entire being and so is being a woman, a Jew, a writer. . . .I don’t need to be celebrated on any day, my soul needs to be loved every day.

Fortunately, I am surrounded by love – not only from my sons, but from so many in my world. I am a blessed person!

Besides being a mother, a woman, a Jew, and a writer, I am also a teacher, a friend, a sister; and I am a student, a dreamer, and an activist.  And. . . . The list goes on and on; all of us have many roles in our lives. I am far from unique.

I’d like all of us to be appreciated for the whole people that we are. And for me, I want to be accepted for the intense, passionate, goofy human being that I can be. I want those in my life to smile when they think of the person I am, laughing at my Chava-isms or my love of tie dye is fine too.

May we all of us feel loved and supported – ALWAYS.  May we nurture one another’s spirits.

Today is double chai (double life). Somehow that seems totally appropriate as a day to honor the people that each of us are!

Sending love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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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 . . . .]

blue_boat_house_door

Sometimes closing the door is not enough;
sometimes the door must be locked AND barricaded too!
~Quote by Chava

My Journey Towards Wholeness has been profound. With each passing day, I am encountering more and more awareness regarding how to best navigate my life in the healthiest of ways.

While this has been an exciting time for me, it has also been challenging to look at the many relationships that have been part of my life – some for weeks and months, others for years and decades.  And while I treasure what each connection has given me, I am also finding it advantageous to let go of the connections that no longer serve me. If nearly every interaction with someone causes discomfort, it is time to leave the connection behind.

Life is a gift. That means I need to treat it with love and thoughtfulness; I need to treasure what life offers and find peace when some of the relationships end.  Few things last forever.

With every ounce of my being, I am constantly working towards being as considerate and warm as I can be. Maybe I haven’t always been this way, but I have been doing the holy work of walking gently for a few years now.

The pain of closing the door from a once special person can feel overwhelming and yet I believe we are honoring ourselves when we do just that. . And with the really tough or toxic relationships, we need want to consider my friend Sabrina Sojourner’s wisdom, “Sometimes you need to change the door into a wall. Bookcases and shelving work great for that.”

Today I made the painful decision to barricade the door from someone who has been in my life for decades; perhaps I should have erected a wall instead. My heart and my soul are too precious to be continually stomped on.

With a heavy heart and a clear mind, I am taking care of me. I am letting go and finding balance.

While I believe that ‘when one door closes, another door opens’, I don’t want to hear that right now.  Instead I want to be spiritually held and allowed to grieve.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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If you do not breathe through writing,
if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing,
then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.
~A
nais Nin

I am a writer. In the core of my being, I am most comfortable expressing myself through the written word.

Recently, I have been astounded by people questioning the transparency of my writing.  Is there any other way? I think not.

My teacher (who has no idea who I am) is Anne Lamott; she has taught me to write with complete integrity, to share fully, and to not be ashamed of my thoughts and feelings.  One of my favorite teachings that can be found in her book, Bird by Bird, and also in her CD titled, Word by Word, is that I have a right to share my story.  If people didn’t want me to talk bad about them, they should have never done the things they did.  So while, I generally refrain from giving a ton of the darker details of my life, I do have Anne’s voice as my guide.  And her voice resonates-always. Each of her books (and now Facebook status lines) is an example of someone who speaks what she feels from her kishkes (guts). Lamott shares the good, the challenging, the ugly; Anne is a beautiful work in progress. I aspire to have her voice as my guide whenever I am sharing my voice, my thoughts, my writing.

Each and every one of my  written (and spoken) words come from my heart and are part of my essence.  If I write them to you personally, imagine that I am giving you the gift of my heart and soul. Imagine that you are worthy of my truest love.

And for the reader that reads my blog. . . I am sharing with you my purest being. In the moment that I am sharing my thoughts, know that they are coming from the deepest part of me.

Writing,
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul;
Is what makes me One

I am a writer. My words matter and have the power to impact.  My hope is to touch people in ways that make a difference in their lives; simultaneously I feel a positive energy with each and every letter and space that is part of my writing.  The rhythm of my soul is out there for anyone to treasure or to toss out.  Why would I want it any other way?

When I write, I am giving you, the reader, a part of my me.  With each word, I am weaving a personal idea, a thought, a dream; I am sharing the deepest part of the person that I have become.  And yet, what I write one moment, may evolve in another moment; I never stop thinking or growing.

With each breath, I have experienced the fullness that life has had to offer – sometimes with beauty, sometimes with pain, always finding sparks of light.  I am the person I am because of the life I have lived.  Life has blessed me with the ability to look inwards and to evolve as the trek emerges.  With each step, I write as a way to process all that was, is and will be. Capturing the many moving parts of my heart, my soul, and my mind is what I do.  Through writing, I allow the words to flow onto the page and to cleanse my being.  And sometimes, if luck will have it, my words can do something magical for someone else too.

My transparency is a gift.  I welcome you to experience a world that is mine.  Is it rational? Not always.  Is it precious? To me.  Are the moments when my emotions are intense? Of course.

May my words continue to be real –  now and always.
May my words help me stay balanced in a world that often feels off balance.
May my words inspire people in small and large ways.

May I always have the character to ‘say what I need to say’.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Morning Pages Binder

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“. . . do small things with great love.”
Quote by Mother Teresa

As I approach some profound changes in my life, I am navigating the most intense vulnerability that I have ever experienced.  If left to my own devices, I would be crying non-stop with each bridge that I am crossing.  The tears wouldn’t all be sad nor would they all be happy; they would fluctuate from moment to moment.  Transparent transition is the gift I am choosing to live by. (Note: I almost feel like I am embodying Anne Lamott’s spirit with each and every blog entry. :))

Over the last year, I have felt sucker-punched and loved at nearly equal proportions.  The good news is that today I am feeling more love and support than I am feeling the harshness of being sucker-punched.  The journey that I am taking has been both challenging and intense.  I have had to face what it means to lose a job and left without the financial ability to take care of my sons; I have also experienced the gifts of having friends and acquaintances help me to secure positions that mostly allow me meet my family’s most basic needs.

As the Gal-Or/Grossman Family prepares to move to the East Coast, I know that it would not have been possible if it weren’t for the support of so many people.  We have been touched by people helping us in a myriad of ways, too many ways to list.  Ironically, I believe that I have personally felt equally impacted by each and every person that has given in whatever way they deemed appropriate.  There have been absolutely no small offerings.

With each step, I have had no expectation that anyone would reach out and help.  For some silly reason, I initially felt alone and very scared.  It is quite daunting to go through dark experiences and believe you will land on your feet.  But truthfully, while life has tossed me some vicious punches; I have been enveloped by love and support for entire second half or more of my life.  I am surrounded by people that have held on to our family while we walked through fire.  Over the years, I have truthfully been far from alone.

Monday night was another example of how one friend brought happy tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.  I am blessed, so very blessed.

Before I share about the amazing treasure I received from Indianapolis, I have to tell a story.

A few weeks ago, I was kvetching on Facebook about how much I am missing the changing of seasons.  I love seeing the leaves change; it rocks my world.  At the time, I was just whining, I had no expectation that I would see autumn leaves this year.  Why would I? I am in the middle of the desert.  🙂  (To be honest, there are changing leaves on Mount Lemmon; that’s not so far.  I just couldn’t get there because of my work and packing schedule.)

Well. . .all my kvetching got the attention of my beloved weird sistah, Ren Fortang, in Indianapolis.  During our exchanged she promised to send me some leaves from her yard.  AND SHE DID!!! Her little package was full of happiness for me. I couldn’t have been happier if I tried.

Leaves from Ren

 

To be honest, the leaves made me the happiest; I couldn’t believe Ren pulled off such an amazing gift.  AND I loved every square inch of the gift from the envelope it came in, to the pin which quoted Mother Teresa, “. . .do small things with great love.”  Ren even included the new CD from Bruce Springsteen, one of my favorite singer/songwriters.  Every square inch of this little gift package nurtured my soul.  (Do you think this blog can replace a thank you note?)

Now just because I love the term basheret, it was meant to be, I want to share that after opening Ren’s gift I was reading Stitches: A Handbook On Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott and on page 14, I found Mother Teresa’s quote, the same quote that was on the pin.  My guess is that there is a huge lesson there, so I better listen up!

Ren’s gift is symbolic of the beauty that continues to flow as I emerge from some challenging times and take on my next adventure.  I couldn’t have made it this far without the enormous support that has surrounded me; I have received so many treasures over the past year and years before that too.  I truly believe that when we consciously walk in the world with an open heart and love to share, the world will ultimately grow into a healthier place.   My friends have shown me this and I hope to continue paying it forward with each and every step of my life.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – We have been blessed with nearly 70 people giving to our Go Fund Me Drive – http://www.gofundme.com/g8o220

 

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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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Three Deaths in Two Weeks

The gift is often the challenge.

Professionally, I have always worked within community.  For the most part, I have been blessed to work in the synagogue world.  Within that role, I have had the opportunity to connect deeply with many people from staff to congregants and their families too.  My students, their parents, my teachers, and their families have always become a part of my life.  And now is no different; I work the aged, most if not all are in the last years of their life.  My guess is that regardless of where I work or where I choose to be, I will always build relationships with those that surround me.

People are born; people die.  And in the middle of it all, people live.   They have experiences that fill their lives – including gifts and challenges.

Life is full of cycles

Life is full of cycles.

Over the last two weeks, I have been touched by the strength and integrity of the living and the pain and/or resolve of death.  And in the middle of it all, I have been touched by those that have lived and those that have died.

Three Deaths in Two Weeks

Loving people is what I do; no one is a stranger for long.  All are welcomed into my life including my home.  And within each connection, I try to give fully and be as present as I can be.  Sometimes people are part of my life for moments, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days, and sometimes much longer.  And for that moment that I am blessed to be in a relationship, whether a close friend or for a momentary exchange of words, I treasure the moments however large or small.

Within my work, I build relationships.  And within each relationship, I care deeply.  Whether I connect with people daily, once a week, or only on the holidays, they impact my life and I pray that I impact their lives for good.  Often I do, sometimes I don’t.    The bottom-line is that I hope and pray that most of my connections are full of light and positive energy.  When people go through hard times, I struggle with them – it is simply what I do.  And when they live fully, I celebrate with them – that is also what I do.

Three Deaths in Two Weeks

So far in two weeks, I have gone to one funeral, one shiva minyan (memorial service), and another funeral on Sunday.  I also needed to help transition a client, who is now a friend, to a 24-hour care facility.  She is having a rough transition; her husband is profoundly sad too.  Life keeps moving forward.

Today, I saw a baby in a sling and a toddler eating dinner with his parents and puppy.  I also had a few hours talking and hanging out with my 17 year old son.  Life keeps moving forward.

Life-cycles happen.  I am learning to say good-bye with more regularity than I wish, I am also learning to take note of the life that surrounds me.  The baby, the toddler, the aging, and everyone in between.  I am also noticing the birds and the saguaro cacti; I am watching pomegranates thrive on a tree and flowers open and close on the cacti.  And each evening I look up at the sky and I take note of the moon and her cycle.  I am also waiting and hoping the sky opens up and the rain comes storming into my beautiful desert.

Life. Death. Everything in between.

May I treasure what is and continue to build relationships with the living.  And when people die, may I remember them and honor them by continuing to build connections with the living.

Three Deaths in Two Weeks

People matter and each of these three souls impacted my life for good.

l’Shalom – May their souls go towards peace.

 

 

 

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