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Posts Tagged ‘guide’

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

Day 15 - Walk up hills slowlsyMountains make AWESOME metaphors for life.

We climb mountains as we strive for reaching the goals we have.  Some of the mountains force us to descent once we realize we aren’t quite ready for the climb or perhaps it is that our goals evolve and we realize we need to take a different passage. And then there are times we need oxygen in order to make a climb.

After listening to Chase Jarvis interview badass mountain climber Melissa Arnot Reid, I couldn’t stop myself from reflecting on how many times I think about what it means to climb mountains as I strive and ultimately land where I want to land.  Melissa was the first American woman to summit and descent Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. That is a huge!!!

Most of us need help sometimes. This help can come in the form of an oxygen mask and other times that help comes finding a friend who can show up as a laborer and/or a listener.

May we all remember that regardless of what goals we are working towards achieving, sometimes we have to “walk up hills slowly” and trust reality to become our guide.

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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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 – always. 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 – I 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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I am here to live out loud.
~Emile Zola

The moon is my guide; it allows me to mark the passing of time. Looking up into the night skies, the moon centers my spirit and keeps me grounded in life.  When the moon is whole, my entire body vibrates with an intensity and joy that is an integral part of my being. For some reason, I feel much more whole as a person when the light of the full moon is shining.

Full Moon Elul 5775. Courtesy of Jeff Keni Pulver

Courtesy of Jeff Keni Pulver: Full Moon Elul 5775.

 With the passing days  of Elul (within the Jewish calendar), I know that a little less than two weeks from now, I will be celebrating Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year.  My soul work during this time is to honor the energy that is part of me.  Allowing myself to live in my power and to trust my voice has been strengthened by this month’s full moon.

I am an intense and passionate woman; I love life and choose to live out loud. For various reasons, much of my life was buried away in a cocoon of silence. While I may be an introvert, I choose to allow for open windows into my soul. I know that if I want to make a difference, sharing my values, my views, and the passion is not optional. Years ago, I read a saying that has stayed with me:

“Silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech.”
~Susan Sontag

Without question, I know that my life would have been very different if so many people were not silent.  This realization is not cause for bitterness; instead it is a reminder to embrace life fully with all the intricacies that are part of who I am.

My hope and prayer is that the aliveness that has been strengthened during the full moon of Elul becomes part of my being every day of my life. Silence speaks louder than words, but words have a chance to change a potential collision course.

Hineini. . .Here I am!

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Sometimes my body tells me when it is time to stop and to breathe a little more deeply.  If I am wise enough and make the time to listen, the subtle hints will guide me in the ‘right’ direction; if not, a cyclone will take over my body until I do what I should have done in the first place.

Lavender photo

“Field of Lavender” – Courtesy of Carolyn Riker

How do I know this?

My body is recovering from revolting to life’s journeys.  Over the past many months, I have had to navigate upheaval at every turn. Today I am lucky, I am in the midst of landing in Houston where I will begin a new position in a just over three weeks.  In the meantime, I have nesting to do as well as my consulting work with Lev Shalem Institute.

To say that I feel spiritually great feels inadequate.  My entire world is flowing with fortunate blessings, my cup is overflowing. And yet, I am human.  I have been handling too much, I am still struggling financially and trying to be an incredible mother to my growing sons. I am also making some very holy choices for how to live more consciously and nurture my writer’s soul.

The work can feel overwhelming and last week’s move from Virginia to Texas took my last reserve. The trek was physically hard, the food on the road did not agree with me, and the cyclone hit with a vengeance within 18 hours of arriving in Houston.

To say that my digestive system is trashed and I feel like I have been hit by a Mack Truck is only the tip of the iceberg. Or maybe it is the iceberg. . . And I was too weak to call for help and perhaps a little embarrassed that I needed help. I pride myself on being self-reliant and emotionally strong, but I am very much an average person. In fact I wouldn’t have made it this far over the last 18 months without the love and care from my village of beloveds.

Being slammed with this intense pain and dysfunction upon landing may have been just the gift I needed. Of course, that doesn’t mean this is an easy time, it just means that I acknowledging that life is full of gifts even within the challenges. Last  night my symptoms were joined with a fever and a little respiratory frustration, today I am a little better.

With all of this in mind, I know that I don’t have a choice, I have a body to take care of and a mind that needs loving-kindness. So, I am taking time to rest and move gently, write and hydrate.  This is my life.  I am thinking it may be time to listen carefully to all that my body is saying.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – I am wondering if it makes sense to make a create a lavender pillow to help my body and mind rest.  After seeing my friend Carolyn’s Riker’s photo above, I became aware that I need to surround myself with healing thoughts, healthy life choices, and a pillow to lay my head (metaphoric or real).

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flying

 

My soul is open.
With each breath, I feel all that surrounds me, all that is within me.

Grateful that my life is what it is. And. . . .
Struggling with the transgressions I see in the world
and the angst enclosed in my heart.

Life is full.
The world as I know it is like a mountain range full with peaks and valleys.
Even with knowing the blessings, sadness trickles into the person I am.

If I jump, would my wings work?
Would my wings soar to new peaks?
Could I make a difference?
For myself? For others?

So many are struggling.
Listening to the messages that surround me.
With each beat of my heart, I am trusting the rhythm to guide me.

What to say?
How to respond?

With my heart wide open, my spirit is ready to soar.
Wherever I fly, wherever I land. . .
May my spirit reverberate for good.

 

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

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 the first day following Rosh Hodesh (beginning of the month) Elul; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move forward.  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.

One of my most favorite sayings in this world is:

“Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke, “Letters to a Young Poet”

 

Book

This one saying is a guide that stays with me each and every day.  In fact, I often carry Rilke’s book with me wherever I go; I need this reminder that while the steps of life’s journey can be overwhelming, I know that I am not the only one who is trying to wrestle with the questions of what is unsolved in my heart.  Nearly every day, I ask myself:

  • Am I following my heart?
  • Am I impacting people/the world for good?
  • How can I be a healthier person?
  • With all that I have done for my sons, is it enough? In what ways did I and do I fall short?
  • Do I walk gently in the world?
  • What do I need to be more whole? more beautiful?
  • Can I find a way to support myself financially while following my passion?
  • Is there a way to make writing an active part of my professional life?
  • Have I done all that I can do in order to repent for any wrong-doings I have done?
  • Am I remembering to count my blessings and to find light as I walk through the world?

The questions that plague me are never-ending.  And yet, I am fortunate, instead of letting them trouble me, I use them to empower me so that I may move forward with an open and loving heart, mind, and soul.

Today is Day 1 of my Elul Journey.  I am excited that while it is only 10:45 AM, I have accomplished nearly all of the six daily goals Yay!

Don’t forget to ‘live the questions now’.

Make today a great day!

With love and light,

~Chava

 

 

 

 

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Everyone needs someone to guide them as they walk through their life.  As a child, I was no different.  While I needed to dodge what was happening at home, I also needed the direction to grow in spite of what was happening to me and around me.   While the elders cared for me and supported me, none of them let me wallow in my pity parties; each gave me tools to survive and ultimately thrive.  The ‘elders’ in my life kept me alive by simply opening the door and allowing me to walk through it.

Where does the journey begin?
Where will we go?
Hours pass, the answers might change
As we keep moving along.

words by Debbie Friedman z’l and Tamara Ruth Cohen

As a young girl, I found drugs more intriguing than most anything else in life.  By the time I was 11 years old, I was enjoying a few of the ‘lighter’ drugs on a regular basis.  At 14 years old, I had tried or was using nearly every street drug available to me with the exception of heroine.  Funny, I distinctly remember that I prided myself on never shooting-up.

And then sometime around the spring following my 16th birthday, I stopped and I let go of all of the drugs that had been part of my young life.  One day, I woke up to the realization that I didn’t want to be like my mother.  During much of my childhood, my mother was a very sick soul and an abusive monster.  I didn’t know what it meant to choose a different path, but I believed that I wanted to be better and very different from the person who birthed me.

Over the years, I’ve come to understand that while I was really alone throughout my childhood, there were some angels that touched my life along the way.  The most important person for me was a man named Mike Gimbel.  Mike was real, a recovering addict, a therapist, and someone who believed in me.  And he was the person that helped lead me towards a different life.  Mike probably saved my life by somehow helping me believe that I could change the course of my life in every way.  While he was a social worker, he also reached me by going out of his way to be present when I needed him most.  I remember two or three times, he picked me up in his car and listened as I dealt with the crumbling of my heart and soul.

Mike Gimbel

Mike Gimbel is he man that had the most profound impact on my life, he gave me the tools to save myself.

Growing up was hard, really hard.  The journey lead me to be self-reliant.  There was no one who could really keep me safe or healthy except for me.  Mike was probably the most influential angel, but there were others who took time to make the difference.  One man was a mentor/leader in my Alateen (a group for children of alcoholics) community, his name was Tom Beam.  Tom opened his heart and gave all the love he could to his children.  I don’t believe he had any of his own, but he had hundreds of teens that looked up to him. Even after I drifted away, Tom always remembered my birthday by sending me a birthday card and calling me too.  Without fail for a decade or more after I fell off the Alateen journey, Tom remembered me.  There were years when no one else celebrated my life with me.  To be fair, the good news is that my brother always remembered my birthday regardless of where he was and what he was doing.  So at least I was remembered.  As long as I needed Tom, he would pick me up in his big Volkswagen Van; sometimes he would make sure I was eating, sometimes he would take me back to his house, and sometimes he would just sit with me while supporting me as I navigated my dark moods.

And then there was Goldie Gorn.  Mrs. Gorn was the principal of the religious school where I grew up.  She took time to listen to me and to allow me to cry.  She also gave me a huge gift a few years before her death; she helped make it possible for me to leave my home at 16 years old and go to Israel for 11th grade.  At Kfar HaYarok, my school, I was given wings to fly and the belief that my childhood would not destroy me.  Without Mrs. Gorn’s nudge and my brother’s perseverance, I would not have taken the final leap towards becoming a healthy human being.  Well maybe not that healthy. . . .very few teenagers are healthy, but I was moving in the right direction.

As a teenager, I must have been a profoundly sad being.  Melancholy was part of my every step.  How could it not be?  But these three ‘elders’ believed in me and helped me become the person I am today.  Each elder had several things in common, they:

  • were authentic in the way they walked in the world.
  • listened with an open heart.
  • believe every word that I shared and that allowed me to share a little more of myself.
  • gave me tools to help myself.
  • nurtured me sometimes with love, sometimes with a warm meal.
  • cared not only for me, but for many others.
  • and so much more. . . .

I feel so blessed that Mike Gimbel, Tom Beam, and Goldie Gorn took time to guide me through a part of my life.  I would not be who I am today without having them helping me navigate the journey called life.

My hope and my prayer is that I am walking the walk that these ‘elders’ modeled for me.  As I write this blog, I realize I have work to do.  How about you?

PS – If I lived in Baltimore, I would sit at Goldie Gorn’s grave; I would try to find Tom Beam’s grave and visit his church too; and I would welcome the opportunity to give Mike Gimbel a huge hug and thank him in a very personal way.  I would not have been half the person I am if it wasn’t for these loving souls.

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