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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself come from, and where you will go.” Written by Rebecca Solnit, in A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Walking into a total darkness over different terrains is the epitome of sweetness. The darkness soothes my battered spirit, invigorates my entire being, and allows me to go quiet, to get real, allowing me to eventually to emerge a bit more whole.

Only when I go through the ‘open doors’ and into the darkness do I find the light that I am so often seeking.

Chava's Shadow 17January2016

The seeker in me knows that finding the right doors can often be a challenge. I need to find the space that allows for the freedom to move, to think, and to curl up into a ball so that I can simply be. There has to be enough softness to hold my shedding soul or to cushion whatever is being birthed. I am always birthing a feeling, a thought, a belief, and sometimes a new reality.

Only when I allow myself to face the darkness can I find the light. As Leonard Cohen said so beautifully, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

As I get older, I have begun to realize that I am more fragile than I once believed. The skeletons in my closet are at times overwhelmingly heavy. And happiness is an elusive emotion that is always just beyond my reach. Although I can smile broadly and feel momentary exhilaration, I am filled with a deep intensity that often leads me feeling alone in a crowd even when I am surrounded by my closest friends.

Life isn’t easy. All relationships have their challenges. This is reality.

Have you notice how complicated love can be? Over time, I have learned that love is not necessarily everlasting. All relationships evolve and sometimes we are blessed to evolve in ways that work for everyone and often we are not.  This is true for lovers and friends, family members and colleagues. I love as intensely as I live life; that means that there is no protection for my heart. There are times when it will shatter or break. And yet, I love connecting with people even as I understand that all relationships develop in their own unique ways and differently than I think they will.

Butterflies have always excited me. Perhaps this is because they emerge only after they have had their time in a cocoon. Burrowing in the dark allows me to face my deepest, darkest truths; it allows me to face the realities without interruption.

For the most part, I have found that sweetness abounds. Darkness may be part of some of life’s interactions, but not all. My life is full of beautiful connections. Surrounding me are so many beloveds who are doing the holy work of making this world a better place. (Sadly, I lost two friends in the last 14 months; both were engaged in the holy work of living consciously; both lost their lives tragically cut short way too soon.) There are also children that shine their light and give delicious hugs; and there are animals that embody unconditional love. All of this and more make a difference for good.

I am so profoundly aware of the many blessings that surround me at every turn. Inner contentment is often a very real feeling in the core of my being. I love the world I have made for myself and I do not take that for granted.The world I live in is full of beauty; I have learned to treasure that which is worthy. So while I may not be ‘happy’ in the traditional sense, light does fill my world.

Feb 2015  Walking from behind

Darkness and light are always being navigated. My work is to find the light in the darkness and the darkness in the light. Listening to the shadows that emerge may be the only way to make the world a better place.

May blessings keep us from getting stuck in the valleys and grace keep us from soaring too high from solid ground.

ONWARD
with love and light!

Chava

 

 

 

 

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(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)

Over the last year and a half, I have openly been seeing myself more clearly than I had in the past. With each step in the journey or thought racing through my head I ask myself lots of questions:

  1. Does what I am doing fuel my soul?
  2. Am I feeling grounded?
  3. How can I make what I am doing more meaningful?
  4. Can I find contentment and maybe even happiness as I embrace whatever I am doing?
  5. Have I surrounded myself with those that inspire me?
  6. Am I being authentic?

Asking these questions and so many others enables me to focus on the my many moving parts of this growing and strengthening process. As each answer unfolds, clarity emerges. It helps to know where I have been and where I am so that I can best chart where I am going. While I have mountains to climb, I love that I can always grow and evolve.

Regardless of the complexities that surround me, I am enveloped in a villiage of loved ones-near and far. While I may feel lonely at times, I am never alone.

This holy work is transforming me to to better self-care and to build stronger connections with others. With so much to do, I have found myself needing to focus on moving more, consciously doing my part for the larger world, addressing my weight challenges, nurturing my spirit and so much more. . .

Surprisingly, I have realized how much of an introvert I am. I feel intense gratitude when I can allow for quiet days with few or no dialogues with others. I often crave solitude; I fantasize of having days, weeks, and even months to myself. And then I quietly laugh to myself when I wonder how I would really feel if I had that sort of time alone.  I may be an introvert, but I love my village too. And watching people on the streets and coffee shops is one of my favorite things to do!

At the same time, I believe that one day I will find the create a beautiful partnership with a man who touches my soul and allows me to touch his. Someone who cares for the world and takes a serious interest in making the world a better place without forgetting to care for himself. The right person will treasure who I am and be comfortable with how I walk in the world. And regardless of who we are when we begin our relationship, may we both stretch and grow into better human beings together and as individuals. May our beauty and light flow out into the world.

I am a seeker in every way. Living consciously as a Jew has allowed me to see the world  as I do. The path has lead me to  teachers that have inspired me to push myself, opened my heart to see how I can better impact the world, and taught me how to honor the woman I am. Writing, chanting, drumming, drawing, learning, and dancing have become part of my nearly daily life. Wow – I am so lucky to have grown as I have.

 

Learning to accept the person I am has been hard at times, heart-warming at other times and always profound.

May blessings abound – for all of us as we continue to travel the world as we do.

Onward with light & love,
Chava

 

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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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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 . . . .]

If You Want to Be Happy Be 2

Quote by Leo Tolstoy

I believe that happiness is a choice. Nearly every day, I wake up and decide that today I will be happy. That doesn’t mean I am happy every  day or that I am happy when life challenges feel daunting, but it does mean that as a rule I choose happiness.

During the many months and years of my son’s illness and his long recovery, I learned to find the sweet moments that happened at every turn. Amazing friends, some fabulous doctors, and even the weather could give me moments of joy when all seemed impossible.

Walking through the world this way means that I will always find moments of joy even when life feels overwhelmingly hard.

The last 15 months have been full of challenges. Yet nearly every step of the way I have believed that all would be ok and for the most part it was. There were days and weeks that I found myself struggling with the finances of life and taking care of myself physically when my schedule was too grueling. The beautiful news was that:

  • My friends made it possible for me to stay afloat; they supported me at every step of the way. Some friends gave me work, others gave me money, and two gave my family their home.  All of our friends provided emotional support in their own unique ways.
  • I fell in love with care-giving and treasured the relationships that grew from my initial place of desperation. I learned to take care of people during the most vulnerable times of their lives.
  • Strangers walked into our family’s life and made a difference for good; and this is still true for today.
  • We learned new ways to live consciously.
  • Playing board games brought us hours of enjoyment.
  • My writing improved.
  • My dreams became more vibrant.
  • I made decisions about what was important to me and learned to trust myself more.
  • I found blessings wherever I turned.

Being whole means navigating life the best ways that we can. For me, it also means finding joy in the small stuff and seeking happiness with each step of life’s journey.

While I am always seeking happiness, not every day is as good as today has been.

Today, I am totally humbled and awed by the love and warmth I feel. To each of you that are celebrating my new position and my spirit – thank you! I would not have made it without you in my life.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

(PS – Over the last couple of months, I have been thrilled to work with Lev Shalem Institute and hope to continue that work in some capacity of the coming months/years. And today, I am excited to share that as of July, I will be the Director of Congregational Learning for Temple Sinai in Houston. I feel like I may be going home.) 🙂

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Look what I found on my journal page as I was writing this morning. :) Every moment can be the start of something great!

Look what I found on my journal page as I was writing this morning. 🙂 Every moment can be the start of something great!

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking,
what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.
What I want and what I fear.

~Joan Didion~

Writing is the way I come to understand the deepest part of me.

My son Dovi often looks at me when I am cranky and asks have I written lately.  Usually when he asks, the answer is ‘no’, hence the reason for my crankiness.

Lately, I haven’t been writing nearly enough.  Life’s challenges have been overwhelming and I haven’t wanted to note it in any way; I wanted to hide my thoughts from myself.  The good news is that this time, my lack of writing was not a sign of darkness; I was simply trusting the silence and allowing myself a little space from knowing navigating the intensity of my soul.

After flirting (in my head) with some new realizations about life and friends last night, I woke up ready to journal for the first time in over two weeks.  While I have been blogging and editing some of my writing for what will be a future book, I wasn’t journaling.  For me journaling is the most intimate form of self-expression that I can experience. In my journals, I have shared thoughts and feelings that I would rarely (if ever) say out-loud.  I use my stream of consciousness writing to unlock pain, process happiness, hope without judgement, and believe in endless possibilities.

In my journal, I reach for the stars and navigate pain; I allow myself to feel deeply.

This morning’s journaling practice woke up my spirit and calmed my sense of overwhelm.

While I often feel like I am treading water or peddling backwards, today I realized that I am always moving! I NEVER give up!!!  As long as I keep moving, I am doing the holy work of living!

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My mind, quite literally, never stops.  Yet I often have the ability to push forward in a state of inner peace and contentment.  I notice everything, I feel deeply, and I live passionately.  Still even as I grapple with the background called life, I am motivated by a higher challenge: Living in the present moment and absorbing the beauty of what is or what could be.

Living an intense  existence doesn’t negate the value of finding the gift in the challenges and seeking inner peace and contentment through life’s storms.  Yes I feel deeply, but I also strive to find the light and reflect it back into the world.  It’s what I do.

A day or two ago, I saw a couple of amazing and thoughtful posts on Facebook.  Both reinforced how I try to walk through the world.

With each step, I walk through the world with an inner warmth and a gentle step.  I believe in goodness even though the first sights I experienced were that of darkness and pain.  I love life, truly love life.

The funny thing about the two posts I saw were that they came during some incredibly dark days when I was navigating the deepest of pain.  Even with that, I felt empowered by the timing of each post.  I was struggling, but I wasn’t crumbling;  I was actively facing intense pain and challenges. I wasn’t giving up; I never have.

The first posting was shared by a very deep friend who told me that this post reminded her of me.

ToDoList

Regardless of the darkness I am navigating, I am am fairly good at following the above list.

  • I always look to find the gifts within the challenges.
  • I love people so I show it.
  • I struggle with trying to let go of what I can’t control, but I try. . . I really try.
  • My heart guides how I walk through the world.
  • I consciously keep moving forward regardless of what I am navigating.
  • Breathe is written on a plaque I made for my 40th birthday and it is one of my mottos for living a healthy life; I value it now as much as I did when I created the plaque.

pet-rock

Life is a blessing with many challenges.  If I ever give up for too long, it means that something must really be wrong and I might be in need of spiritual help.

The other fantastic posting I saw on Facebook listed 12 Things Happy People do differently:

12SignsHappiness

Without discussing each of the 12 points, I found it fascinating that in some way I negotiate at least 10 or maybe even 11 of the above list. Yay!!! At the same time, I can always do better.  Seriously.  I am a work in progress; I am always striving to become a stronger and a more positive human being.

The bottom-line is that life is a journey and each of us needs to decide how to walk though the journey.  Positive energy and thoughts propel us to a better place than does the looming fear and sadness.  I have learned to seek silence when I am taking difficult journeys; if I keep fueling the darkness with empty words, I will crumble and fall.

Behind the smile there is a deep intensity that moves my soul.  I am consciously maneuvering the world around me and trying to navigate the long roads ahead.

Gotta keep on moving forward. . . .

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Are you taking care of your soul?  If not, how can you expect to be happy?

Seriously.

Look at yourself – Are you doing things that can be considered fuel for your soul?  I know that I am not doing as well as I need to, but I am trying.  I am actively engaged in the journey of Seeking My Own Path to Simchah (Happiness).

Commandment 4: Living more consciously

Taking a moment to observe the world around you can open your eyes to exquisite beauty.

In a sense, this entire journey is about living more consciously.  Specifically though, I am aware that I have to embrace my intensity and become more accepting of my nature. I love that I am aware of my surroundings.  I love noticing people, caring about nearly every aspect of the world I travel and the world that surrounds me.  Many people would say that I over- think things.  While that is OK, I do find myself challenged when people note this reality in a teasing way.  And yes, I would benefit from allowing myself to let the comments ride a little.   The bottom-line is that I actively consider life, engage in life, and that leads me to loving  the life I live.

Living more consciously is also about not only noticing your surroundings, but also taking stock of your needs.  What is it that you really want/need at any moment.  At this moment, I know that I need more sleep/rest than I have recently had; I need to drink more water; and I need more alone time so that I can take time to be more present for myself.  If I were living more consciously, I would be listening to my needs better.  Instead I am just noting them.  As I type these words I realize that in a moment I will save what I am working on and then take a long drink of water.  After that I will turn off the computer and go pack to sleep for an hour.  If I don’t make sure my basics needs are met, how will I be the best me that I can be?

In order to find happiness I need to take care of my soul.  While this blog series will take approximately three weeks to write, it will take me months to implement.  If I am going to succeed in this journey in a healthy way, I need to take change a little slowly.  Healthy and sustainable change can’t happen overnight.

*****

Note: While seeking my own path to simchah (happiness), I am touched by the many responses.  In grappling with my journey, I love hearing that I am actively making other people think.  Thanks for letting me know.

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