Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘health challenges’

December 2016 - looking out into waterNote: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5777, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-2NA)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This weekend has been wild. Seriously wild. Our family had to do so much to prepare for a short term guest that had the capacity to destroy our sacred space. I am sure you have had guests like that.

Anyway, our visitor is/was none other than Hurricane Harvey.

We had to do so much to prep for his visit. We had to purchase the perfect foods, sandbag our garage so that it wouldn’t flood as it normally does when the rain comes pouring down on Houston. We also had to gather our most important documents and collect things upstairs that we wanted to keep safe.

The stress was tremendous because car trouble had taken my excess money. Money is always tight, but natural disasters, health challenges, and car trouble are three things that remind me of how difficult it is to navigate life’s expenses. And my sons and I have had all three – again and again – over the last few months. Regardless of how much we struggle financially, we still had to prepare for our guest. His timing may have not been the best, but he was expecting to make landfall on Shabbat whether we wanted him or not.

To say, I was overwhelmed is an understatement. AND yet, I was also acutely mindful of how fortunate I am. We have a home, important documents, and what we need. And when I was deciding whether my sons and I would stay or go, I had friends offering me money, hotel points, their homes, and wisdom/insight. I even had a friend let me know that she has a basement that she is willing to open up to my sons and I on a more permanent basis if needed. I had this amazing village that lifted me up and created a safe container.

As a side note, it was the love that was flowing from old friends, new friends, and even social media friends that sustained me when despondency threatened to take over. As someone who doesn’t remember a lot of love as a child, I sometimes have a horrible default mode that leaves me spiritually untethered and feeling alone. But waking up to a sweet text from a beautiful childhood friend helped me re-focus the despondency; she offered to send me $500 so that my family would seek higher/safer ground. Wow.

We decided to stay home, but the offers of help continue to come. I am awed by the love that continues to flow. AND I am keenly aware that even when I become overwhelmed, I have friends that are there to be program managers, supporters, and listeners.

Maddie out backAnd since before the rain started to fall, we have barely gone an hour without a call, a text, a Facebook message asking if  we were doing ok. How beautiful is that?!?!?! And on a bit of a silly note, when I went on Facebook requesting “the best rain and water songs”, I received nearly 60 responses with suggested songs in a couple of hours . 🙂

Over the coming days, I will add more insight that I have received from this experience, but for now I want to take note of what it means to be a beloved friend. My family is truly surrounded by extraordinary souls.

During this time of Elul, I am charged with remembering to be loving and full of light like the village that surrounds me. I wouldn’t be the woman I am if it weren’t for the love that flows so freely within my world.

Sending love, light, and insight,
Chava

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I  AM LOVED

Two Naked Trees - Santa Monica California Beach - Jill Berkson Zimmerman

Photo Courtesy of Rabbi Jill Zimmerman

You are seen, You are heard
You are loved for who you are
You are enough, You are complete
You are loved

I am seen, I am heard
I am loved for who I am
There is nothing I need to change
I am loved, I am loved

I am seen, I am heard
I am loved for who I am
I am enough, I am complete
I am loved, I am loved
I am seen, I am heard, I am safe,
I am enough, I am worthy, I am loved
Words & Music by Karen Drucker

Life has given me incredible moments to stretch, grow, and thrive. Sometimes I  see these opportunities with awe, but other times, not so much.

I’ve always said that ‘the gift is the challenge’ which means that I strive to find light in even the darkest hours. Mostly I am able to reach that goal and at other times that goal feels like an impossibility.

Over and over again, I have faced some daunting struggles. Mental illness and violence destroyed some of the people closest to me and sometimes left me battered not only emotionally, but physically. Loss of too many pregnancies and adoptions forced me to question my belief in God. And watching my son Aryeh face life and death challenges again and again within his life as both an infant and later a teenager could have destroyed me. Dovi, my younger son, also had a very serious health challenge as a toddler.

When life is at it’s most painful, you don’t have time to cry or lash out at the world. You are forced to go through whatever it is you need to do. Survival has never been an option for me. Breathing deeply and pushing forward is truly the only viable option. At least this is so for me.

In 2007, I legally changed my name to Chava Gal-Or. I wanted my name to be a testimony to who I was and what I wanted to continually be. I chose the name Chava as a celebration to my surviving a sometimes traumatic existence. In my heart of hearts, I have always seen myself as a thriver; regardless of what experiences have come my way, I find a way to soar. And my last name is reminder that I want to find light in those I meet and to find the beauty or light in that which I endure regardless of how it appears on the outside. For the most part, I have done what I set out to do.

And over the years, I have also created the most amazing village that has supported me emotionally, spiritually, and even financially. My world has been full of gifts at every turn. Without a doubt, I know that blessings abound.

Today I shared with my chanting siblings how a recent car wreck challenged me physically and emotionally; in fact what I didn’t say is how broken I was actually feeling since the accident.  Just before the car crash happened, I was finally landing on my feet after a roller coaster ride that has been going on longer than I care to admit. The grand finale, in particular, caused me enormous self-doubt. How could I end up in a community capable of causing such spiritual chaos? As my position in Tucson came to a crashing halt, my spirit tumbled. The good news is that I chose not to openly stay in the rubble; I chose to do what I had to do so that I could ultimately emerge. But the being rear-ended suddenly reinforced that I was not doing nearly  as well as I thought.

The last few years have been hard, really hard. And there have been so many times that I felt alone and afraid how I could support my family; I honestly did not know how I would feed my family or handle another serious illness. Going to the dentist was and maybe still is a luxury. And I wasn’t sure how my closest friends could continue to hold me metaphorically or otherwise. And in truth, I was blessed with friends that were there in most ways. Some couldn’t be, but most chose to be.  When I felt most alone, it was because I couldn’t recognize what was in front of me.

When I was completely honest with myself, I knew that my name should have never been changed. I was so far from life or light; I was not thriving and I certainly had no idea how I would emerge. And yet, I persevered. With some incredible fortitude and a village to guide me, I was able to do what I had to do.

When I initially reached out to my chanting siblings today, I was bordering on lost.  Yet within moments, three of my chanting siblings reminded me that I have work to do.  There is a world that I have touched with my light and I have more work to do. Wow. . . I needed to be reminded just that. I am full of light, but I needed the reminder.

The moment of impact reinforced me to face the vulnerabilities that lie just below the surface. I live in fear that at any moment my life could end. Who would take care of my sons? Who would birth my dreams? I have so much left to do. Would anyone besides my sons miss me? Do I really make a difference in the world?

We all have our own skeletons, our hidden secrets, our intimate fears. I am no different.

My teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold reminded me that I am “surviving and thriving and reaping the hidden blessings.” And my friends reinforced it again and again.  The evidence is and was clear, I need to turn off the inner voice that sometimes tells me that I am a farce; I am a strong and vibrant woman.

I love that  I am healing, moving forward, navigating vulnerability, and feeling blessed. I am doing exactly what I needed to do.

(Note: in the early morning hours, I found a gift from my friend Rabbi Jill Zimmerman, she emailed me a link to I AM LOVED. Words & Music by Karen Drucker. I am still trying to wrap my head around Jill’s timing. This was the song I needed to hear as a reminder that I am loved and that I also really do love myself.)

Read Full Post »

In theory I love biking; I always have.

While it took me until I was 11 years old to get on a bike, once I did I always wanted to ride.  That was until one of my college housemates lost my bike or had it stolen while she was borrowing it.  I loved my Sears 10-speed, I still remember it fondly. Once my bike went missing, it took me years to get on a bike again and quite honestly, it wasn’t what one would call a natural experience.  Do you remember the saying “once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget”?  Well that wasn’t true for me; the first time I got on a bike after decades of not riding, I couldn’t remember how to turn the wheel. The good news is that it didn’t take long; I fell in love again.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall- Tel Aviv Beach

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall-
Tel Aviv Beach

Jump ahead to the last few weeks, bicycles have become part of the ongoing message.  I see them everywhere I go.  I also realize that I have always wanted to be a healthy biker chic of the manual bike variety; it has  been a dream of mine to use a bike as transportation not just recreation. Over the years, this has been an ongoing  message that has come to me time and again and yet I have been afraid of pushing myself to build endurance.  Failure is not something I do well and yet I will never succeed if I don’t give it my all.

Biking is for those folks that are in shape or maybe for those people that can really make time to bike.  Biking is not meant for an overweight middle-aged woman.  At this point, you and I both know that that is not an excuse and the messages keep telling me so.  Here are only some of the messages that have come my way:

  1. A few weeks ago my friend Stephanie Randall posted the above photo of a bike leaning against some bars as she was viewing the Tel Aviv sunset.  In an instant, I fell in love and wanted to both get on my bike and to find a beach to ride near.  At least I could get on my bike; there is no ocean front property in Tucson.
  2. “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.” – Mark Twain  – This is the tagline that a good friend has all of his emails.  This truth seems to be calling to me.
  3. On Friday, my friend Bob got on his bike after his own health challenges; I loved his selfie of the experience.
  4. My friend Daniel is coming to Tucson next week for our Passover Seder.  NOT.  He is coming to bike and because he is here, we will have a chance to reconnect.  I love the passion that propels him forward as a cyclist; I, quite literally, yearn for that passion and wish I could have some of his skill and endurance.
  5. Yesterday another friend had a minor biking accident.  He had a small break in his hand and needed some stitches too; today he got back on his bike.  Wow, I can learn from that kind of attitude.
  6. And then this morning, another friend posted the following article on Facebook.  Riding Away From A Broken Marriage – http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/biking/The-Flat-Tire-Project.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=facebookpost  As someone who is struggling myself, the article gave me hope.

In fact all of the points above inspire me to bike and to push myself to be more healthy.  So with all of this in mind, I got on my bike today.  For the first time since pulling out my lower back (twice) in recent months, I returned to my bike.  And today was a really grueling day.  I was suffering from horrible abdominal pain, physical exhaustion after working five 12 hour night shifts, and finally emotional darkness after losing the job that brought me to Tucson in the first place.  Everything about me was depleted and yet today was the day that I felt compelled to push myself.  And you know what, I feel so much better for it, although I sure don’t look that way 🙂

Don't I look great after my first 45 minute bike-ride in months.

Don’t I look great after my first 45 minute bike-ride in months?

Feeling inspired. . . .my plan is to ride tomorrow too!!

Read Full Post »

Years ago, I learned that there is no option for walking through life with a positive disposition.  This lesson has been handed to me again and again on a silver platter.  I’ve chosen to find light in darkness and light when there was seemingly little or no hope.  Early in my childhood, I strived to find something good in each and every challenge.

As someone who has been battered as a child, struggled with tremendous loss as an adult, watched her children struggle with health/life within their short lifetimes, and struggled with some hard challenges as an adult, I don’t believe in letting the tough times bring me too far down.  I believe in always finding the gifts within the challenges!  And I have received so many gifts over the years!!

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin Did you notice the butterfly? :)

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin
Did you notice the butterfly? 🙂

I didn’t realize that I had the ability to find the gifts within the challenges until one day when one of my sons was in critical condition.  He had been struggling with health for so long and I didn’t want him to suffer any longer.  As sedation was enabling him to rest in his hospital room, I quietly told him that Imma (mommy) and Abba (daddy) would be OK if he needed to stop fighting for his life.  With tears streaming down my face, I told my little one that we were the luckiest parents in the world to have him in our lives for as long as we did.  I didn’t want to let go, but I knew that I might not have a choice; I didn’t want him to worry.  Little did I know that I would have to say that again in my lifetime, but I truly believe that people are gifts for as long as they are in our lives.  Today, I am profoundly grateful that my children are both vibrant and healthy individuals; I am grateful that both of them survived their health challenges and one doesn’t even remember them.  I am also happy that I learned something positive about myself as I faced the years of darkness.  There are always gifts within the challenges; sometimes they are more difficult to see at first, but over time they can be found.

My hope for you is that you shouldn’t be faced with the challenges that were once part of my life.  In my case, I did make it through and you can too.

Many years have passed since I faced that kind of darkness, but the lessons have stayed with me.  There is truly no option for allowing darkness to control me.  Yes there are moments when I am angry or sad, lonely or unhappy; they are moments.  The key is that I have to trust that the moments will pass and all will be OK.

I always get to decide how I navigate the harshness that life sometimes brings.  Working within a large community, I face all sorts of people and all sorts of moods.  My job is to embrace those people where they are and to move us forward without allowing their sometimes bad mood to bring me down.  I have a choice; I always have a choice.  And the great news is that most of my interactions with the world around me are really quite beautiful; enjoying life as I do means finding the gifts at every turn.

For me, finding the blessings that surround me is really not an option.  Can you say the same thing? I hope so!

Read Full Post »