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Posts Tagged ‘growing’

A Letter to a Friend:

On several occasions you have questioned whether Facebook friends are really listening or whether you are being heard at all. You seemed to be wondering out loud whether Facebook is some sort of alternate reality.

You are not alone in wondering about the power or purpose of Facebook. Since joining Facebook in 2009, I have watched myself evolve in how I connect with the world in large part due to my interactions on this form of social media. We seem to be asking similar questions and perhaps coming to different assumptions.

fb

On a personal level, I have grown to love it!!! At nearly anytime Рday or night, I am surrounded by people that jazz my soul, inspire me to be a better person, nurture me when I am down, and/or support me when I need a kick in the tuchus (tush). And sometimes there is little or no real interaction; sometimes friends are just on the ride of life with me. The more direct I am, the more substantial  the help can be. Help has come in the form of information, resources, and/or supportive listening. My response to these interactions have helped me navigate into more healthy connections and out of friendships or connections that no longer serve me.
Facebook is not some sort of alternate reality. It is full of life (gifts and challenges), experiences, politics, information (true and false). People share what they are comfortable with sharing; this is no different than life in any other social realm. People share what they want you to hear and some are more authentic than others. This seems to be the reality whether on the phone with friends, at work, in synagogue or any house of prayer, at the park, or even the local grocery store.
When tough times hit, people can’t always help and don’t know what to say. The same can be said for all interactions.
Finding personal support for me seems to come mostly when I share what is going on and what I am doing about it. When I have been down for too long (which I have), the responses stop showing up with frequency. It doesn’t necessarily feel good, but each of us only have so much time in our lives to deal with our own crap let alone every one else’s crap. Sigh.
Politically, I have had to face that my strong opinions make people uncomfortable. And if someone is a really close friend, we learn to refrain from commenting on political posts or we accept the explosions that follow a ‘confrontation’. AND I have been known to end friendships or lose friendships when passions run deep. I love knowing where I stand with people even when it means that saying good-bye feels like the only option. I don’t have time to hang with people whose values I find troublesome.

I use Facebook to share all of the moving parts of how I walk in the world. I share poetry, sayings, politics, pain, joy, gratitude, and sometimes hell.

For me, Facebook has opened many doors to opportunities for learning, stretching, and connecting. While I love this tool, it is also one tool of many that I use in my life.

With love and light,
Chava

PS – Some examples of how Facebook has added to my life:

  1. Politically now, I have more information at my fingertips.
  2. Advice is always available for the asking!! And sometimes when not asked. ūüôā
  3. When I needed a job, opportunities surfaced.
  4. After I lost my job, friends from all parts of my life showed up to help; I am not sure how I would have survived if people didn’t come out of the woodwork.
  5. If I am sad or lonely, depressed or scared, there is always someone who shows up to comfort me.
  6. While many people have profoundly different views from me, there is always someone there to give me a different way of seeing things.
  7. Whenever I post a link to my blog, it gets read. ūüôā
  8. Whether I need a place to eat in Houston, a place to stay in Washington DC or a good book to read – Ask and I will end up with a ton of answers.
  9. I have found the best sayings just by lurking on Facebook. Did you know probably have over 70 pages of quotes that I have saved?
  10. AND so much more!!!!!!!

 

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There are few coincidences in life.

This morning, I woke up with a spring in my step. It didn’t matter that I am sick, what mattered is that I am being greeted by My Morning Pages.

For the last month, I have been finding my voice through what Julia Cameron refers to as Morning Pages. Each and every morning (ok, nearly every morning), I have woken up to write 3-6 pages of stream of consciousness writing.  By writing first thing in the morning, I refrain from filtering my thoughts; instead I allow my thoughs to simply flow without editing each sentence before it hits the paper.

This morning felt a little different that previous mornings because I found myself literally celebrating the power of what my morning pages have done for me and how I have grown since I started writing them a month ago.

Here is the synopsis:

  1. One month ago, I started writing my morning pages – after many years away from this practice.
  2. Two weeks ago, I added the practice of ending my morning pages by asking myself questions about how I would move forward from whatever I was navigating during a specific day. And then I would pick a Hope card (from BoneSighArts.com) and an Angel Card. On most days, the card I pick allows me to soar while feeling more grounded.
  3. One week ago, I had the inner strength to let go of a friendship that had broken my spirit and shattered  my heart. Somehow I found the grace to release the bond that had been holding tight for way too long.
  4. Since the beginning of writing my Morning Pages, I have been really sick three times. Through finding my authentic voice, I am finally being able to purge the toxicity that has been festering inside my body.
  5. On at least three different occasions, I have asked friends for what I need. And wow, I have felt so loved and supported.
  6. I am healing in ways I didn’t even know I needed to heal.
  7. Each morning, I start my day by drinking a couple of glasses of water and sometimes a smoothie. I love that I am nourishing my body at the same time I am nurturing my soul.

So while I have navigated some really hard stuff, I have also found a healthier place to live.

With each passing morning, I have found that I am taking better care of myself in more ways that via my writing. I have been painting furniture, cooking good food, taking longer walks more frequently, and chanting. ¬†I am also allowing myself to go inward more and accepting that I can’t talk to everyone, but I have been sending cards to my beloved friends.

Conscious reflection is adding so much more to my life. I am taking time to see the gifts and the challenges. And more often than not I am finding the gifts within the challenges.

There are many mornings, when I have started my Morning Pages with deep pain at the core of my being, but ended my writing time with a calm and peaceful heart. They are grounding me and allowing me to literally grow my roots and become spiritually stronger.

While it may seem that I am more raw or sick more often, in actuallity I am allowing myself to be more of what I am.

The chameleon in me has slowly stopped fitting in quite the same way; I have learned to say what I need and what I want. I have learned to share my deepest dreams, my hopes for the future, and my innermost thoughts.

Sometimes my thoughts and feelings are embraced and sometimes it is obvious that friends and community would rather I stop approaching the world with such an open heart. But what I have come to learn is that I am so much happier being transparent. I don’t have to walk alone and close my intensity off from the world.

One of the best parts of this transformation is that I am not sure that I need anyone’s approval now. Maybe I am only able to say that because I really do have several different pockets of friends that value me for the person I am. With that reality, I have come to a better place and I am having an easier time.

Oct 20 - sunrise Pantano Wash
I love where I am now – professionally, spiritually, and personally. And I am a work in progress; I am a seeker. So I am constantly stretching, growing, and navigating new paths. And with each new path, I am surrounded by beloveds.

My Morning Pages journey has helped me to find  more calmness and inner peace with who I am. I am living by the values that I so strongly believe. Confirmation came to me when I found  these two wonderful saying in the last few days:

To tell the truth is to become beautiful, to begin
to love yourself,value yourself. And that’s
political, in the most profound way.
June Jordan

~ ~ ~

and the universe listened. 
Terri St. Cloud

There is a huge shift taking hold;. I am AWAKENING in every way.

Politically, I speak my mind.
Spiritually, I share my soul.
Consciously, I live my life.

I have found my voice and I now live in a world that I can be me – totally me.
How awesome is that?!?!?!

Onward!
Now & Always,
Chava

Note: OK, I do bite my tongue when I find out someone likes Donald Trump or Binyamim Netanyahu because I have decided, for the most part, that anything I say would not penetrate their skull. If you like either of these two characters, chances are you are probably not part of my inner circle. So, why spend too much time trying to enlighten you. I don’t need to talk just to hear myself heard.

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Honor Yourself

Courtesy of Terri St. Cloud of BoneSighArt.com 

One of the most powerful transformations that I have made since the fall Jewish holidays has been learning Torah twice a week with two groups of passionate woman (by coincidence). Both have become the highlight of my professional and healing journey. I am processing life with others and the Torah is fully becoming my guide to living more fully. Simply put, I have found a new way to honor myself differently than I ever have before now.

Last week in my Thursday afternoon Torah Study, we spoke about Jacob’s devastation over the loss of Joseph, the son who who he loved “best of all”. ¬†While I don’t understand what it means to love one son over another son¬†or to have one of my children die, I do understand that¬†losing a child is perhaps the worst kind of loss that any of us can imagine. ¬†So after Joseph learns that¬†his son was devoured by a beast, his reaction is totally understandable:

Jacob rent his clothes, put sackcloth on his loins, and observed mourning for his son many days. All of his sons and daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, saying, “No, I will go down mourning to my son in Sheol.” ¬†(Genesis 37: 34-35)
The conversation that followed our reading of the above verse was heartbreaking and enlightening.  One person understood such a loss and allowed us a window into her experience and I finally understood more clearly why in traditional shiva houses, houses of mourning, we do not supposed to reach out to the mourners until they initiate a conversation.

Going to Sheol after learning of a death of someone you adore makes sense Рalways. Even if we are surrounded by loved ones, we are also feeling desolate and alone. And with that discussion came an enlightening discussion about mourning practices within the traditional Jewish world. Torah came alive.

Today’s Torah study was a fountain¬†of flowing energy that ignited my soul – it always does. While we explored the difference between being a sage and showing discernment, we grew to understand what it means to have knowledge and the ability to impactfully work with others. ¬†We also spoke about our health journeys and how we need to take care of ourselves. We also¬†spoke about the mourner’s kaddish and the problem with how many progressive¬†congregations do it today. How can we support mourners when we all rise together? We spoke about the options. ¬†Finally, we wrapped up with how we say perhaps the holiest prayer in our tradition. We spoke about how we say and teach the Shema, our communities proclamation that we have One God.¬†(Note: In Progressive Judaism there are many ways to see God and Godliness. What I LOVE about our tradition is that even if some of us see this a little differently, the Shema is a central prayer for all of us.)
Woven through every discussion was a thread of knowledge that came from the way Joseph interpreted dreams and how he, his father and his brother lived their lives. There is so much to learn from the tangents that are all part of Torah.
Each and every time I learn Torah my heart feels broken open differently than it was before we started. ¬†My Monday morning Torah Study has strengthened my connection with five people. I can not imagine this connection ever fading. For one hour women from all corners of the United States talk Torah, education, and life. ¬†Individually we are broken vessels that somehow emerge more whole when we grow/learn together. ¬†Another way that my friend and study partner Iris Koller articulated our experience¬†was that, “We each bring our fragments of lights that shine through”; our time together creates one of the most beautiful rainbows that I have ever seen.
On a side note, it has only been in the last 15 or so years that I have developed close connections with women. Before that time, I was rarely close with more than a couple of women at a time, but now I am so much more balanced because of the many soul sisters that have touched my life. Wow РI feel blessed.  I find myself thinking and opening up different that I ever have and it makes me want to cry.  I love that Torah is coming alive as it is.

There is so much¬†holiness that comes alive when the two groups of women I study with bring our many moving parts together ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†in order to study together. The learning of life’s lessons through our study of Torah is making me more whole.

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Truth

Last night, as I closed my eyes, my mind started to focus on the role of truth in our lives.

With that two Jewish teachings popped into my mind.

Teaching One

The world stands on three things:
on justice, on truth, and on peace.
Mishna, Avot 1:18

and

Teaching Two

Truth vs Falsehood
◊ź÷Ī◊ě÷∂◊™¬†◊ē◊©◊Ā÷∂◊ß÷∂◊®

“The Talmud (104a) finds great significance in the form and order of the Hebrew alphabet, devoting nearly a page to understanding the symbolism behind the order and design of the alphabet. The most famous of these passages is the analysis of the Hebrew words for truth and falsehood, emet and sheker. The base of the letters (aleph mem taav) of emet is solid, while the letters of sheker (shin kuf reish) are wobbly, having only one ‚Äúleg‚ÄĚ each. Furthermore, the letters of sheker are the 21st, 19th and 20th letters respectively; whereas emet has the first, last, and middle letters of the alphabet. While one may have to look for truth, truth is true everywhere; whereas lies, readily available, have to be constantly updated for each new situation.”
By Rabbi Jay Kelman in http://bit.ly/1ExqL1c

Both teachings focus on the significance¬†of¬†truth¬†within our lives. ¬†Balance really is much easier to find when you focus on living a life a truth. ¬†I love that Judaism surrounds me with teachings that support the act of living consciously. ¬†And I am fortunate that in this moment it supports what I intuitively believe around truth vs falsehood….Jewish teachings don’t always work so easily. ūüôā

Making Truth vs Falsehood Personal

Throughout my life I have experienced deception on so many levels both big and small.  Sometimes it is as simple as navigating half-truths or silence; sometimes it is as complicated as denial or downright lies.  But as I move into what could be the second half of my life, I realize that I want to live in a place of authenticity and grace regardless of where I stand.

In my life, I have, like many of us, been known for being silent or sharing only half truths and I have experienced the same realities from those in my life. ¬†As I move forward in my life, I crave people that inspire transparency and allow me the space to be transparent. ¬†Whether friend or lover, employer or employee, I want to be surrounded with people that don’t need to hide behind half-truths or downright lies. I also want to be the person that can hear both what is being said and what is not being said.

Trusting my heart to receive the truth and to share the truths will only happen as I develop a practice that is worthy of such a life. In order to make trust an integral part of my life, I need to first make practice a conscious one. I prefer to choose to live with integrity and surround myself with those that live in a place with a similar practice.

When considering Teaching One (see above), I find myself faced with a question. ¬†How can we have justice, truth, and peace with each interaction? We can’t – of course. ¬†Justice and truth do not always leave us with a sense of peace. ¬†Dealing with truth and sometimes justice can be hard. ¬†Our feelings are a huge variable in this journey. ¬†And what feels good to one isn’t necessarily good for others. ¬†Ugh!

Lately, I have been considering the role of true friends in my life. ¬†I am actively trying to find a way to navigate those that really see things in a way that I find, quite honestly, sick. ¬†How can they be close¬†friends if their values or thought processes make me extremely uncomfortable. ¬†Recently, a childhood friend became furious with me because of an article I posted on Facebook. ¬†In truth, this person is sort of like family. I shouldn’t have been happy to have her out of my¬†Facebook¬†life, but I was thrilled! ¬†We all have own truths,¬†our own ways of seeing things. ¬†And sometimes, I just don’t want to debate or to hear the other side. . . I have to, how else will I learn? ¬†Sigh. Balance. . .always working towards finding balance.

When you don’t like how someone thinks, it is really challenging to navigate a warm relationship in which peace can grow. ¬†There is no way that someone can convince me that that certain politics makes sense. ¬†PERIOD. I don’t understand how people shop at Walmart when they don’t need to. Why would anyone that understands slave labor purchase products that support such practices. ¬†And if I have to silence my passions, can I be in a place of¬†truth within a¬†friendship. ¬†In the same way that each of us have our own truths, each of us also have to choose how to live and to make¬†decisions based on our values. ¬†Aren’t we all evolving?

I am struggling.

And since I am already a little cranky about how to connect with people when I dislike some of their values and belief systems, why not explore another challenging aspect of my struggle with truth.

I am learning; I am growing.

Not¬†everyone feels the need to share their soul or raw energy as openly as I do – that has to be ok. ¬†I am blessed with so many different types of people in my world and not all of them walk in the world as I do. ¬†Just because someone chooses not to share the entire picture, doesn’t mean they are speaking a half-truth or falsehood. ¬†Does it?

Close relationships may be the perfect place to hold back just a little.  Do we really need to fully express our feelings to those closest to us? As a mother, I wonder.  Part of helping my sons to develop into secure adults is by allowing them the room to express themselves without me needing to influence them.  With them, I am learning to say that I think it is best for me to refrain from sharing my thoughts at this time so that they can best figure out their thoughts for themselves.  But what about a partner or a spouse, sometimes we feel like we need to know everything, but other times people need their space.

The key to all interactions is realizing your non-negotiables, what aren’t you willing to be flexible about. Finding balance is not as easy as always being in truthful place, but to me I keep seeking to find¬†the best¬†way to navigate with others; I need to cultivate¬†the solid footing that comes with walking the path of¬†◊ź÷Ī◊ě÷∂◊™, truth. Perhaps what I need is to hold myself with transparency and grace, then I can hope to surround myself with those that do the same.

Relationships are so complicated.

‚ÄúThe Universe doesn’t like secrets.
It conspires to reveal the truth, to lead you to it.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Lisa Unger, Beautiful Lies

May truth emerge in each and every human interaction.

 

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sugar1

Giving up all added sweeteners is a journey worth taking, but in the beginning mistakes happen.

Yesterday, I walked into my day with a positive attitude and a conviction to succeed. ¬†For the most part I did until lunch time. ¬†My work serves this awful powered lemonade drink and it is often what I drink out of habit. ¬†Can’t really understand why that is a habit except for maybe it has SUGAR. ¬†Well I offered lunch and drinks to my teachers for our teacher meeting and I did what I always do. . . .I took a cup (or 3) of the lemonade.

Ugh, on my way home from work I realized that lemonade has sugar! OY!

Mistakes happen, especially in the beginning.  I have also not created my new rule list for moving forward, but I do know that lemonade is not on the approval list.

I am learning; I am growing.

Let the journey to being kinder to my body continue.

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