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Posts Tagged ‘health journey’

Sun rise New Zealand May 5 Jai-Jagdeesh

Photo Courtesy of Jai-Jagdeesh via Instagram: jaijagdeesh

This I believe:

Illness and wake-up calls come when you need to listen to your body, your mind, and your soul. So when I finally listened to what my body was saying a few weeks ago, I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with bronchitis.

But 10 days later, I realized that I was still in bad shape and getting worse, so I went back only to receive the same diagnosis and a change in medicine. AND this time I realized that what I needed more than anything else was to stop and really rest.

But then something in the report caught my eye.

10/12/2017
Body Mass Index 30+ – Obesity; Bronchitis

Ouch!!!

As a past runner and someone who is totally conscious of my health, I am so aware that¬† something has to change; I’ve known this for a very long time. In fact, I started a serious health journey 45 days before my 45th birthday. That journey was amazing and changed my relationship with food. I took off nearly 65 lbs and I have kept nearly every pound off for over 6 years. But now I need to begin again and take the rest of my weight off.

As someone who is basically healthy, I strongly believe there is no excuse for “obesity”. This isn’t about looks (except that I HATE my double-chin); this is about becoming the healthiest that I can be. In fact this entire year has become about becoming the healthiest I can be.

Needing to have back surgery in early April was the first very loud message, but then there were others. So with that in mind, I am actively taking the words of my dear soul sister, Arlene Berger and the Torah, “Choose Life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). If I want to thrive and to be the healthiest that I can be, I have to consciously life into my realm. I love knowing that while Arlene and I live in different cities, we are on this journey together.

I have 123 days or 4 months between now and my 52nd birthday. And I have goals of what I want for my body, my mind, and my soul. I do believe that light is surrounding each and every step of this journey.

This health journey is not only about weight, although I do need to manage my weight better in order to be one step closer to better health. There is also such beautiful spiritual and emotional work that is calling my name.

I got this.

As I own my health journey, know that what is listed, is some of my current soul work and some new things based on my doctor’s notes and his feedback when we met this past summer. My goal is to be the healthiest I can be – body, mind, and soul. And while I am being transparent, I’d love to have your support, but I am conscious that too much good advice can be a bad thing. If I let you know that something I am choosing to do is a non-negotiable, please don’t try to convince me that I am wrong.

So, here is my list:

  1. Go dairy and meat free! I am considering whether or not I will continue eating eggs and fish. I think that I will be removing fish from my diet after tonight because we purchased salmon for tonight’s Shabbat dinner. (Note: I have been virtually meat free for many years so meat free is not a big deal. ūüôā AND I will be working with Weight Watchers guidelines.)
  2. Prepare three new vegan recipes a week. Take time to enjoy living a more healthy lifestyle.
  3. No added sugar to my diet. I will continue having fruit and sometimes fruit juices with no added sugar. I know this has sugar, but I am doing it anyway.
  4. Allow for more silence in my life. Breathe a little deeper.
  5. One of my favorite quotes by¬†Franz¬†Kafka is ‚ÄúWriting is¬†prayer.” With this in mind, I want to surround my life with more spirituality through my writing.
  6. Do more soul work! Hoping and praying that I can touch people’s lives with Door l’Door.¬†https://door-ldoor.blogspot.com/
  7. Exercise more – this includes walking 7-10 miles daily and/or finding a piece of equipment to do daily at home. I am thinking about an elliptical. Thoughts?
  8. Politically and spiritually, there is so much work that our world needs me/us to do. With this in mind, I want to listen to the wisdom of one of my favorite songs in the world, “Keep On Moving Forward” by Emma’s Revolution.¬† https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtiXT5c5jBQ
  9. Live my truths without apology. Allow for my authenticity to shine.
  10. Chant, Drum, and Dance

By choosing to do this holy work, I am choosing to fuel my soul. I guess my soul sister can’t tell me I am ignoring her wisdom!

Time to get to work!

 

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I have a problem. I am an addict!!! I just can’t get enough of that white powdery substance. . . .SUGAR.

With this in mind I decided to begin a new health journey  and ask for support from my friends. I did this once before and it lasted for over six years ago; the great news is that I have kept 65 lbs. off, but now I need to go back to the choices I made back then.

The good news is that all of those healthy changes made a difference and now it is time for me to begin again.

Hineini, Here I am!!

Today I started prepping for my latest health journey. Instead of counting 45 days until my 45th birthday, I am counting 21 days of healthier eating, aka no sugar. My hope is that at the end of 21 days, I will start another health journey while remaining steadfast on refraining from sugar too.

Over and over again, I have heard that it takes 21 days to create new habits. So here is the first habit I will be working to change – NO SUGAR!

Making 21 Countdown chartIn preparation for today, I made a fun little check off chart. I did this for two reasons. One, I needed to create a ritual/visualization around checking off the days. Two, I wanted a prop to share my thinking about this journey.

As a sugar addict, I need to own that part of my personality and look for ways to make better choices.

AND here is the ask, please celebrate my successes and support me through my challenges. If this isn’t comfortable for you, simply ignore me. ūüôā

Transformation needs to happen. Being healthy is literally a non-negotiable.  So tonight at sundown, I will officially begin my 21 day countdown.  I will share my journey via Facebook and my blog.

Don’t hesitate to ask me how I am doing. Your mentioning it won’t sabotage the work; in fact, it will probably help me remember that I am not alone!

l’Chayim, to life,

Chava

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Wherever I turn, I find angels, the people that show up with an open hand to help me navigate life’s journeys.¬†Throughout my adult life, I have¬†been blessed to have people enter my life just as I was facing a dark reality. The reason I emanate so much light is simply because I am surrounded by light. I find the light in life and my path always includes beautiful angels/helpers that emerge at the perfect moment.

Last night as I wrapped from¬†writing my blog, I realized that I missed something vital when I shared that I am now beginning a new life journey. (I meant to type health journey, but somehow life journey feels a bit more on target.) I didn’t mention my gratitude for the angels that have showed up during this journey.

On October 1st, I was poisoned by gluten. After eating gluten that was served to me as a gluten-free panini, my health did a downward spiral which I am still recovering from to this day and probably through the coming weeks. The good news is that I have turned the corner, but I wouldn’t have moved forward if it wasn’t for the help of so many.

Over the next 124 days, I will be counting down to my birthday (see above blog link). Each and every day, I will do something to care for myself, probably a lot of somethings.  But before I delve into a series of blogs, I really wanted to note those people that have showed up over the past weeks/months.

Tzadi

Drawing courtesy of Jennifer Judelsohn from her book Songs of Creations

  1. The Healers
    • Sita Chopra, my Ayurvedic Practitioner, responded within minutes of receiving my note¬†saying that I was contaminated with gluten. I believe that her quick advice and my ability to follow her directions¬†made it so that my gut did not suffer as harshly and for the usual¬†period of time¬†from being poisoned. I am looking forward to experiencing better health as she utilizes her knowledge and wisdom to support better¬†health.
    • Katrice Gullens of¬†Fifth Element Acupuncture & Wellness for her lovely energy and for the beautiful ability she had and continues to have so that she can hear what is¬†needed. Her acupuncture treatment enhanced my ability to function and lifted my spirit. I felt like her needles opened my soul up from some of the armor that once needed to protect¬†me.
    • Tom Pierson of Tranquil Heart Yoga, a massage therapist extraordinaire, who was able to listen to¬†what my body was saying and nurture it towards a healthier place.
  2. My Friends
    • Out of state friends – Many people showed up to support me with love and prayers when I shared what was happening on Facebook, but my friends Jennifer, Cheryl, Idie, Ilan, and Karen reached out via telephone and reminded me that I was loved. BTW, what they may not of known was that I was literally despondent from two days of unrelenting pain. And my friend Dr. Scott, an ER doc, who opened his door to help me decide what the best protocol would be at 12:30 at night.

      Each and every love note and call made a difference. While the pain was pretty horrible, I knew I was being held by so many.

    • Local friends – Reminded me that I could of and should have called instead of driving myself to the hospital. To be honest, I felt painfully alone and like no one cared. Chalk it up to drama. . . not reality, I forgot that I am surrounded by a community and friends that would not have wanted me to feel so alone and would have taken me to the hospital if I had only asked.

      I loved that people care and knowing that I am not alone. Although I do need to remember that my friends aren’t mind-readers; sometimes I have to ask for what I need.

  3. My Sons
    • Aryeh and Dovi took care of me. Aryeh wouldn’t let me go to the hospital by myself. And he confirmed that ER doc wasn’t listening to me or understanding how much pain I was in. While it didn’t really help to have him advocate for me at the hospital, he was so loving and tried to comfort me. Only after taking care of my parents and my sons in hospital settings did I learn what it means to advocate with medical professionals. . .it isn’t easy.

I would not made it if so many people to give their love and warmth so freely. I received that love with open heart that is still overflowing in this moment. I am especially grateful those friends who are rabbis and Jewish professionals who were able to take the time to reach out as they were preparing for one of the most demanding and holy days of the Jewish calendar.

The timing of ‘this episode’ was perfect. I had just scheduled/started my work with the above healers and I was in a good spiritual space for the first time in years. So with all this in mind, I am ready to move forward and strive for better health.

Grateful for each and every person that has offered and continues to offer their wisdom, kindness, love, and light.

Onward – now & always,
Chava

 

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Every time you go into the fire,
you come out with a new life and it’s better than the last one.
~Martha Beck 

Twelve days ago I ate gluten for what I hope will be the last time.  To say that I felt absolutely awful is an understatement.  Every fiber of my being hurt to the extent that nine days after the accidental consumption I ended up in the ER.

Within 20 minutes of eating the gluten-filled panini, I knew I was in for a challenging evening. Within an hour, I felt so sick that for a dramatic moment, I was praying that life would cease.  The good news was that even when I felt the extraordinary discomfort, I knew I would find a way to cope quickly; I also knew that I was in for up to three months of core exhaustion and intense joint pain. Saturday night, October 1st ended up being a total bummer that ruptured a period of spiritual calm. It is hard to remain calm when you are in the midst of being over the top dramatic and crippled with pain.

And then there was this past Sunday, when the pain had escalated to about 8.5 or higher on the 10 point pain scale and I started feeling nauseous, was fighting a fever, and struggled to walk. Going to the ER seemed prudent at the time and like the only option too. With the sense of vulnerability overflowing, I caved into going to a place that lacked the ability to treat me with dignity and made me feel small and insignificant.  Sigh.

Fire vs Shredder

Photo Courtesy of Aryeh Grossman

AND I am now emerging!

My visit to the ER was a reminder that I had recently surrounded myself with a fabulous team of healers. Some of them know me and are directly helping me navigate my health and others are people that are inspiring me spiritually via books, podcasts, and social media. I am so excited to actively engage in my new healing journey!!!

For someone with celiac disease, the gluten¬†fire petrified me, but it is now helping ground me in my health journey. With a team consisting of my sons, my friends, amazing health practitioners, and some very wise souls, I am surrounded by support. The fire of October 1st ignited the importance of what Glennon Doyle Melton refers to as the¬†“trinities ‚Äď body, mind, spirit. The warrior lives out all three lives: a physical life, an intellectual life, and a spiritual life.”

I consider myself to be a spiritual warrior. My journey to self care has been intense over the years. I have struggled to loosen and/or release some tightly wound ropes that kept me bound to pain and darkness.

Through chanting, drumming, writing, movement, and other creative endeavors, I have found new norms. Six years ago, I openly did a health journey that focused on staying away from eating foods that caused me health challenges.  I lost a ton of weight and I stopped getting UTI infections just be giving up soda, caffeine, and sugar.

While I kept off most of the weight, I am now doing low levels of the above mentioned foods, although effective tonight, I am making a conscious decision to go back to refraining from those foods, plus making some lifestyle decisions.

Perhaps it isn’t ironic, that the decision to create a list of non-negotiables and to openly share my health journey happened on Yom Kippur. ¬†As I sat in services, I was overwhelmed with both a sense of loss and a sense of joy. The loss was that I wasn’t the healthiest that I could be, but the joy came from the realization that I am in the midst of doing good work and I can do even ¬†better work. All three of the ‘trinities’ will get my attention each and every day of this journey.

There are 124 days until my 51st birthday which is:

  • 10,713,600 seconds
  • 178,560 minutes
  • 2976 hours
  • 17 weeks and 5 days

Over the course of this time, via my blog I will share how I am moving forward, who is inspiring me, my practitioners, and the impact that this journey has on my life. Via Facebook, I will share the daily countdown to my birthday and the daily highlights/challenges with each step.

I am so blessed to have my daily writing practice, a new Ayurvedic Practice, a new Acupuncture Practice, and hopefully what will be regular massages with an AWEsome healer. And then there are the daily gifts that I continue to find each and every day. And finally, I feel humbled to have an amazingly supportive work environment to keep me grounded as I find new ways to care for my body, my mind, and my soul.

As Yom Kippur came to a close, I became aware that my physical pain was slipping away and the gates were opening to some very profound and enlightening possibilities.

Onward with love & light,
Chava

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Feb 2015  Walking from behind

be softer with you.
you are a breathing thing.
a memory to someone.
a home to a life.

Nayyirah Waheed’s Precious Words

 

 

(Note РOver the coming weeks, I will be exploring the power of social media. The connections I have made and the growth I have experienced has helped me to grow exponentially more than I ever would have before social media touched my life. I want to shout out a special thank you to those that engage in this platform and inspire all of us to stretch and to evolve into even healthier human beings than we already are. I adore my tribe, all of my tribes. )

Transformation. . . I am a work in progress.

Creating a healthy body image has been and continues to be a very real struggle for me. I could probably find someone to blame for my fairly horrific body image¬†– my mother, my childhood neighbors/classmates, or maybe even the media. And yet, that wouldn’t be fair.

Whatever happened in the past or how I have seen women portrayed in the media is irrelevant; I am responsible for who I am today and what I do with my memories and perceptions of the past. It is truly a blessing to be able slowly transform my self image and fall in love with woman I am.

While I still pause when it is time to look at myself in the mirror, I have mostly stopped the negative self talk. I am relieved to know that I no longer feel trapped in these words that I recently found in an old journal:

“If given a choice, I’d much rather not look at myself in the mirror or get on the scale. I’d rather not see a photograph of me or see my reflection over the water. I hate the way that I look. Sigh.”

Over the last several years, I have done the¬†holy work of transforming how I see myself. Five years ago, I shared my health journey via blogging and social media; that was huge for me, I shared information about my¬†diet/lifestyle changes¬†and subsequent weight loss – 65 lbs. Later, I consciously looked¬†at myself in the mirror and actively re-framed how I saw myself. I stopped calling myself fat and started seeing beauty in the person I was. Quietly, I began seeing¬†myself as an Amazon Woman¬†–¬†strong, vibrant, healthy, and physically beautiful. I grew to really love me! And selfies, I learned not only how to take selfies, but to revel in how good I sometimes looked in those photos. I started having fun seeing myself in a photo.

In the midst of my transformation, one of the world’s most radiant¬†souls entered my world. ¬†It was truly an accidental meeting. While living in Tucson, I decided that I had to find a source for purchasing fair trade clothing. Via the internet¬†I found a little photography/dance studio that sold the clothing. The only problem was that the studio was in the midst of transitioning the clothing to another location. I was so bummed because I couldn’t figure out where to find the new store. Jump ahead a week or two, I found Fed by Threads (fedbythreads.com) and then I tripped over the stunning¬†work of Jade Beall, a co-owner to this awesome¬†business. (Note: While Jade’s work as a photographer has helped me see all women, including me, as beautiful. Fed by Threads is a business that values everyone; experiencing the warmth and care of the other co-owner¬†Alok¬†Appadurai has also been transformative.)

Jade was a photographer who captured so many precious women for her book, The Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project. Each and every photo had women that were seen as beautiful for the who they were; no photo was altered in any way. The photos showed women in all their glory; stretch marks and post birth bodies alike were celebrated, as they should be.

After finding Jade’s website,¬†http://www.jadebeall.com/, I felt like I met an angel. Not only were her photos full of love for all people, so were her words. From there I started following this incredible soul via Facebook; I couldn’t and still¬†can’t get enough of her energy. She values people deeply; she treasures all life forces.¬†And through viewing how Jade struggles and ultimately embraces her¬†¬†own journey, I have learned to better embrace my essence¬†and the journey that is part of my being; I have learned to see myself as beautiful.

One of my deepest disappointments about leaving Tucson was leaving Jade Beall without having her photograph me. And I am hoping that the day comes when I can have that opportunity. This amazing photographer has helped heal so many of my open wounds. How awesome to know that I am not alone; there is a stunning tribe of women who have emerged from her love and guidance, her insight and wisdom. It is, in large part, through her work and the love of her Facebook community that I have evolved to where I am today.

I still have a lot of work to do. Transformation is a continuous process.

A car accident this past December triggered a downward spiral that lasted too long. Suddenly I had to face my old demons as my body image plummeted. I stopped taking good care of my body and gained some previously lost weight. Fortunately, over the last several weeks I am again re-framing how I see myself and starting to take control of my health journey. As long as I actively take care of me, I am better able to boost my confidence while becoming more grounded.

The journey is not only about making better life choices, it is also about taking time for my soul through writing, chanting, drumming, and just allowing creativity to flow through me. I am so excited to be emerging from my darkness!!! I am returning to healthier choices and nurturing the woman I am. And I am also reaching out to new and old friends; I am asking for what I need and feeling supported in return.

An important part of my returning to a better place was not about all the changes I was making. Before I could evolve, I had to find my own beauty that what not wrapped up in what the scale told me. I had to love the person – inside and out.

Being transparent is the gift I will continue to give myself; it is ultimately how I will thrive and become a healthier me.¬†I don’t want to hide, I want to open my arms wide and embrace the world as I am while always trying to be the best me possible.

Onward!!!!
Now & Always

 

 

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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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Sabino Canyon's Road to Blessings

Sabino Canyon’s Road: ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†One Step at a Time

In the last third of 2007, my son Aryeh needed to have two brain surgeries in order to live.  The years that followed were some of the worst years of all of our lives.  There is no way I can describe accurately what we faced or how we were able to sustain ourselves, but we did.  We survived and ultimately after over three years of hell, we thrived.

In the months, prior to Aryeh’s surgery, he suffered with horribly debilitating headaches, inability to undress himself easily, and a very poor sense of his body.  Daily tasks took the wind out of him and he often lacked the ability to take care of himself as a 13-year-old boy should.

His illness came quite literally out of nowhere.  He was a well-adjusted teen, loving his school, and thriving emotionally.  At the moment, we thought Aryeh was the happiest he had ever been, our lives crumbled and his life was not a given.  Nothing in life was ever to be a given again.

The good news is that nothing surprises me, but sometimes the wind takes down my sails for a few minutes, days, or weeks.

About a month ago, Aryeh had an earache; it has never gone away.  And then his head started hurting at first mildly and then excruciatingly.  At that moment, I literally became paralyzed with fear.  How could my son hurt again? How could he face more headaches, just as he is getting ready to begin Community College?  In truth, I didn’t know what to do.  Last time, we went through hell, it was a dark time of our lives and we had to advocate at every turn.  Doctors seemed almost clueless about what to do to save our son; some even were stupid.  In the end, two surgeries later, a 6.5 cm + arachnoid cyst was removed from his brain in a painfully long surgery.  He survived.

And over the last three weeks, Aryeh started to be plagued with some of his previous neurological symptoms (although they have lessened significantly in recent days).  Sigh.  While he is allowing me to blog about this, I will refrain from sharing details.  The good news is that an MRI was fairly good; although the doctor was perplexed by what the right side of his brain looks like.  Two brain surgeries and a filler to replace the location of the cyst, makes for a funny looking brain.

With each passing symptom, my heart dropped and I found myself unable to function outside of work.  Work allowed me to function somewhat, but fear kept me from eating, sleeping, or even connecting with people in any meaningful way.  I had to go to a silent place.

Today, I am more hopeful, but still scared.  Fear can’t guide this journey.  While all health journeys feel daunting, there is one lesson that crosses all boundaries:  You can only navigate this journey by taking one step at a time.

Isn’t this the truth for everything we do?

If you pray or vision, please keep Aryeh Yaakov ben Chava in your thoughts and prayers.

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