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Over the past months, I have struggled to find balance and to quiet my spirit. Inside my soul, I could feel my body, my mind, and my soul wrestling. They were struggling with a broken heart, the feeling that I wasn’t enough in any area of my life, and with this deep seeded pain that I would always be a fat blob.  Yes my body image was in the gutter. There were hours of every day that I felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath or that my heart was shattering into too many pieces to count. Besides. . .who would even want to try counting the the pieces of my broken heart? Who would want to hold someone who has lost all roots and was crumbling to the ground?

This darkness lasted for a few very long months until I realized that slowly I was breathing a little deeper and sparks of light were finding a way into my heart. Tears stopped falling with intensity and eventually they stopped falling with any regularity at all. And then there were the mornings that I could look at myself in the mirror without cringing.

I am not sure if I can quite say what switched, but I opened my eyes a little wider, I listened to the noise around me and the quiet inside me with more awareness, and I took some time to just be where I was.

The process that I went through and that I am still navigating has become about honoring myself the best way I can by building a stronger foundation. In order to become stronger I had to process the pain and darkness that had settled inside of me.

What I have known with clarity is that there was not one thing that left me with such sadness. I feel all emotions with every fiber of my being. This means that on the days that I am unable to compartmentalize life’s many moving parts, I will drown in a sea of sorrows or simply in my own intensity.

Yes the last few months have sucked. . . completely sucked, but they also created the opportunity for me to look inward and the time to heal. Eventually the harsh realities didn’t feel so harsh and with that I began to see my roots take a firmer hold of the earth.

And that is when the real work began. . . .

Reveling in setting the foundation, the framework, the intentions.
Connecting with understanding, compassion, balance, strength and awareness.
Honoring the journey.

Reflection by: Sue Dorfman

Path by Sue Dorfman

Courtesy of photographer Sue Dorfman

Sometimes the perfect words or the perfect picture show up exactly when you need them. As I was waking up, I was looking for what I needed to do so that I could become a little stronger.

This new journey that I am on is not simple.  With a long path ahead of me, I realized that I needed to set up some boundaries for myself. This meant deep reflection:

  • What was missing from my life?
  • Does writing guide my every step? If it doesn’t, it needs to.
  • Am I doing enough to nourish and nurture my spirit?
  • Have I been creative enough?
  • Do I take time to play?
  • Am I moving in a way that feels good for my body?
  • Am I moving enough?
  • How am I choosing to fuel my body and my brain?
  • Can I do more to make this world a better place? Or what do I have to do differently so that my impact in this world is more positive?
  • Is stretching, reaching, and growing an active part of my day?

If I am really going to be the healthiest that I can be, I need to be guided by deep seeded accountability multiple times every day.

  • Am I living authentically?
  • Am I choosing to hide behind a mask that others decorate?
  • Am I being the chameleon that fits into the world as I believe others want me to?

Over the last few weeks, I began to see that I was living behind a shadow of my own making. This realization means that it is time for me to actively return to strengthening my foundation with clear intentions while using this clarity to build the body, mind, and soul I want.

The work is daunting and yet it is also profoundly rewarding too. Each day I am gaining ground and celebrating more and more successes. I am also taking responsibility for navigating my life with intention as I actively engage in putting together the puzzle pieces of my body, mind, and soul. Only through that journey will I be able to soar and better become the woman I want to be.

Join me over the coming weeks as I unveil some of the moving parts that I am navigating and myriad of ways I hope to stretch, to grow, and ultimately to heal. My hope is that as I share some of my story, I may inspire you in some small way.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: If you read to the end and if you like what I have to share, I’d love it if you would let me know by liking or commenting on my post.)

 

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Egypt to the Promised Land or from Slavery to Freedom. On many of these days, I will share my reflections via my blog.

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.

~ ~ ~

The days leading up to Passover are often crazy with anticipation, angst, and joy. I love Passover; this year was no different. The most exciting thing about this year is that although I felt all the angst of what needed to get done, I also felt ready. I didn’t feel the sense of overwhelm that comes with having 15 – 22 people per  seder (Passover meal). And this year seemed to be the year for health challenges to keep taking our guests. Still it doesn’t matter if I am prepping for five people or 20 people, prepping for Passover takes work.

As the holiday was approaching, I was ecstatic. . .I was in great shape. Except that I forgot one very important step. I didn’t go inward. I didn’t take the time to reflect on how Passover usually inspires me on my own growth journey. Instead, I focused on prepping my house for company and the upcoming seders.

On Thursday, all of that changed when I slipped and landed on my tailbone as a tabletop fell on my head/neck. While I felt really sore I was amazed that even this didn’t upset me too much. I was functioning at a slower rate – yes. But, I was in good shape with what I had accomplished prior to the accident and I was blessed with a couple of extra hands to help in the final day’s preparation. So I went inward, just a little bit. I allowed myself some extra time to breathe and move a little more slowly. In truth, I had no choice.

Now let’s jump ahead to the end of the seders. While I LOVED our first seder and thought our second seder was good too, I was totally wiped after the second seder and it showed. So my company told me to go to bed and they cleaned up along with my sons. Yay.

Omer - Day 2 - water

L’Chayyim – To Life!!!

At about 2 PM, I woke up and found myself in awe of where I was. For about 30 minutes, I sat up in bed and drank a lot of water and realized that I didn’t have a plan for how I was going to take my Omer Journey this year.  For me, the journey is about ridding myself of the toxins in my life and consciously deciding to move forward in a very real way.

(Note: I had signed up for a Counting the Omer to Fitness with with Rabbi Howard Cohen. So while I wasn’t 100 % reflective, I did have a fleeting thought about the journey.)

As I sat there, I was happy to be drinking my water. Isn’t drinking water part of the cleansing process? In general, I know that if I am taking the time to drink lots of plain water, I am doing some good self-care. At that moment, I was proud of myself. And then it hit me, I needed to come up with a plan for flushing some of the toxins and/or schmutz out of my life.

Within an hour of that time, I was totally releasing the toxins. In fact, for the next 15 plus hours, I was hanging out with my old friend the porcelain goddess or sometimes it was a simple trash basket. Let’s just say, I had plenty of time to release the toxins and to feel sorry for myself too.

Early in my stomach bug, I was blown away by the timing of it!! Didn’t I just say that I needed to release the toxins from my body, my mind, and my soul? As the hours wore on, I was acutely aware that my journey had begun. I had no choice, but to listen.

Approximately thirty hours since the release began, I am feeling myself on a de-cluttering mission. I want to rid my yard of unwanted weeds, overgrowth, and weight. I want to clear my closet and home of things I don’t need. I want to take time to reflect on how to make some of my friendships healthier and more vibrant than they have previously been. Finally, I want to keep what is good and let go of that which doesn’t work any longer.

And let’s not forget the Thursday’s klutzy moment, I want to move a little more slowly and breathe a little more deeply. Accidents often happen because we are trying to do too much and to do it too quickly.

The Counting of the Omer is the perfect time to go inward and do a little self-care. Leaving Egypt so that I can ultimately find the Promise Land will take some work. Basically, I get to embrace the good parts of my life by better taking care of me and releasing that which doesn’t serve me.

L’Chayyim, To Life – Time to drink a lot more water. 🙂

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
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 – Over 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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At this point, my beautiful village is probably wondering why I would ever have called myself a loser, but I am. Or at least I have been and sometimes it is still my reality.  The good news is that I do some very holy work; I am always trying to become better person and more healthy too. What I know and trust is that I am definitely a work in progress.

Reflections:
You see I have been known to love the wrong person, to value a connection that has outlived it’s benefits, and to hold on to beliefs that stopped serving me well. My guess is that we all have these moments, but lately I seem to be feeling it more intensely than I have in a while.

  1.  A few mornings ago, I awoke early and found myself reading a new Julia Cameron book. In each of her books, Cameron inspires her readers to begin writing what she refers to as Morning Pages.  Morning Pages are stream of consciousness hand-written writings to help jump start your spirit and often allows you the room to work through some of your own garbage without a need to filter each word. (Who has the wherewithal to filter what you are writing first thing in the morning?)

    This morning, I found myself processing the wounds that my original Morning Pages brought me years ago when someone I should have been able to trust went through my writings. I never quite got over that open wound even though that person is no longer part of my life. But it is time and today, instead of writing the three mandatory pages I wrote six pages of long hand writing and released some of the pain that has been getting in the way for years.

    Taking the time to write Morning Pages helped renew my spirit and give me balance.

  2. Holding too tight to Barbed WireAnd then later in the morning, my friend posted the following photo on her Facebook page. “Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spend a lot of time making it.”

    Wow, this saying forced me to consider all of the ramifications of not only the challenging relationship that took away my love affair with my original Morning Pages and the relationships that were crushed from that betrayal. That experience  literally changed the course of my life.

    Regardless, my job is still to move forward. Being stuck for years did not serve my future writing, it did not allow me move forward from the relationships that I saw as being non negotiable parts of my life, and it didn’t allow me to build trust with new people who would value all ot even most of the moving parts of me.

  3. One of my more significant challenges has been how I care for my body through food, exercise, and sleep.  This is one of those areas of my life that I need to build a stronger practice of self care. And in truth, I am doing the work, but I have so much further to go.

    Sleep and exercise seem to be faltering behind, but my eating habits are improving by exponentially.  The last few years I have made a ton of changes for good and now I am making more. Except that I am humbled by how often I backslide.

    Even this past week when I was really sick with a virus, I made sure I had some Coca-Cola nearby. As a child and into adulthood, I have always believed that drinking the caramel flavored ‘stuff’ could make anyone better. It is OK to laugh at me now. . . we know:

    • Coca-Cola can corrode a battery.
    • The sugar in Coca-Cola is a huge contributor to obesity.
    • For me, Coca-Cola causes urinary tract infections or UTIs and it feeds into my sugar addiction.
    • Coca-Cola Company has questionable business practices with many human right violations.
  4. How many times have I created friendships with people that I Believe what People tell yousimply adore even though they have told me something that should have been a red flag. I really should embrace Maya Angelou’s insight, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Had I embraced these words, I may have saved myself so much pain over the years.

    A few years ago, I had a friend who I loved deeply.  She used to voice that she felt like she was living in my shadow. She would say things like, “Chavale, you are so strongly rooted in ethical choices”; I don’t know how you do it.  She seemed to love my strong spirit, but in the end she voiced that it also made her feel  inept in some way. One day, she closed the door and ended a friendship that I believed would last a lifetime. Today I realize that I am happiest when I surround myself with conscious individuals who live by their values.

Going Deeper
May I surround myself with those that inspire me to be a better human being as they seek to be the best they can be too. Let me also remember to live with integrity always and to strive to be authentic as I walk in the world not only for myself, but for the world I live.

Life is full of many moving parts. Individually, each part can appear to be overwhelming and if I don’t watch myself, I may see myself as a loser. My job is to look a little deeper, if I do I will most definitely see myself as the work in progress that I am.  Conscious living means giving myself the space to stretch, to grow, and to evolve.

May I always be blessed to see the world clearly and not clouded by my own spiritual low – Keeping perspective and remembering to take one step and then the another. There is always more work to do.

 

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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 . . . .]

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller: Western Minnesota

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller:
Western Minnesota

How many times have you felt like you were sinking in quick sand?  Or perhaps you felt like you were simply treading water and getting absolutely no where? Hard times happen.  Deep sadness breaks our hearts. Health challenges take the vitality and sometimes the lives of those we love.  And there are days, weeks, months, years, when our own lives are feeling challenged physically or emotionally.  Life isn’t easy – at least not all the time.

Over the course of my life, I have faced some really horrible moments, seriously ill children, financial difficulties, a broken heart (or two), and more.  And quite honestly, I have always sought to stay clear of devastation. Even when each of my children suffered serious illness at different points in time, I quietly told them to go if they needed to go. . .I let them know that I would always love them and that I would somehow be ok if I lost them. I am not sure if I was being truthful, but each time I said that, I believed what I was saying.

Moving forward is the only I way I know to persevere through the hard times.  We have to take one step and then another; we have to cross the bridge or bridges the best way we know how.  I am not suggesting that this happens instantaneously, sometimes it takes a while to figure out how we will survive or thrive the roads we are being forced to endure.

I live in a place of gratitude. I am grateful for what have, when I have it.  And while it sometimes takes a while, I usually find the beauty in what was –even the things or loved ones I have lost.  Although, I do love those that have been in my life and struggle to let go.  That is my holy work, because relationships often don’t last forever. Some end; others ebb and flow.

And as I am getting older, I realize that health is not a given. Emotionally and physically, people go through their challenges.  My own children did and countless friends have been faced hell. I have had my own ill health, but I have always chosen to seek the best route possible.When illness strikes, it is my job to pray, actively life to the fullest and help others to do the same.

I love that I have experienced working with both children and seniors that have endured emotional, physical, and mental disabilities. The individuals and their loved ones have taught me that thriving is a non-negotiable.

Moving forward is the only I way I know to persevere through the hard times.  We have to take one step and then another; we have to cross the bridge or bridges the best way we know how.  I am not suggesting that this happens instantaneously, sometimes it takes a while to figure out how we will survive or thrive the road we are being forced to endure.

Photo Courtesy of Lori Fortang taking a beautiful photo of her beloved Ren crossing the bridge. Each of us find our own ways to cross the bridges of life.

Photo Courtesy of Lori Fortang – Lori captured Ren, her beloved, crossing this stunning and secluded bridge.
Note: Each of us find our own unique ways to cross the bridges of life.

May each of find the strength to take one step and then another until we can cross the bridges that need to be cross.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Don’t be afraid to tread when you can’t really swim
Dance in the rain and find the rainbows when darkness prevails
Find the good in every challenge that crosses your path
And always soar and reach for your best.
(Excerpt: Sometimes Life Gives Us No Tomorrows
written by Chava Gal-Or)

Have you ever had those moments when your were furious about something only to find that you may be looking at the whatever is happening the wrong way?

One of the most significant practices of my life is to try to find light in the midst of life’s challenges.  I even changed my last name to honor the way I hope to walk in the world.  My last name Gal-Or means wave a light. Years ago I decided to acknowledge that I have mostly been able to find light in darkness or within troubling moments AND I wanted to remind myself to continue to walk the world in this way.  Having said that, I also realize that I am human, there are times when I have to take a moment and reflect.

Over the last few days I found myself reflecting that I really do need to pay attention and to take a deep breathe before allowing frustration to penetrate my heart and mind. As conscious as I am, I am taking a few minutes to openly share exactly how I find the good in the following scenarios.

  1. Accidents happen.  Often times I count my blessings when I am stuck in traffic; I find myself feeling relieved that somehow I was blessed to be running late and missing my potential role in the traffic accident which is just ahead of where I am.  At the same time, I pray for all that are involved in the accident; I never take spiritual or physical health for granted.
  2. Recently, I lost my position at Temple Emanu-El, a local congregation, because of their financial challenges.  For the most part I have chosen not to share the impact of that loss too fully; it wouldn’t serve me well. What I will say is that it hurt my spirit very deeply.  And yet out of the pain, I have come to grips with some spiritual and emotional needs  that I may not have faced so directly if I had not received my walking papers. Living consciously is a powerful gift that I am giving myself.
  3. A few nights ago, my son left all the lights on in the house.  Sigh.  I am so sensitive to light and it ultimately woke me up; I needed to wake up fully so I could turn off all the lights. 😦  To say that I was thoroughly annoyed is an understatement.  So, in order to distract myself and manage some of my agitation I went on Facebook to check out was going on in the world.  And what I found was a friend that was in serious crisis and needed me.  Two hours later, I was profoundly grateful that I could be there for my friend and to help her manage some intense darkness.  If it weren’t for my son’s mistake of leaving the light on, I wouldn’t have been there to listen and to offer some potential ways to navigate all that she needed to cope with.
  4. How many times have you been at a doctor’s office only to be stuck waiting an extra 30 minutes or maybe even an hour?  Well for nearly five years, we were blessed with doctors that didn’t rush my then teenage son through their office visit because they had other patients.  We also had doctors that created a slot for our son because he was too sick to wait.  After such a positive experience with so many medical practitioners, no longer do I get agitated when I have to wait.  Having a doctor that is compassionate and present when we most need him/her makes a world of difference to me.  Ultimately my son emerged healthy and vibrant, but the journey to get there was full of loving souls that really took the time needed to care of my son when he needed it most.
  5. While initially, I may feel frustrated when I get stuck in the Car Repair place or anywhere, but over the years I have come to appreciate the ‘accidental’ gift of time which allows me time to walk over to the coffee shop and take some time to write and people watch.  To me there is nothing better than having time to sit quietly and write and/or people watch.

We never do know what is on our horizons; life happens and so does death.  My job is to try to make the best of every moment.  Sometime the moment is all we have. . . .

Oct 20 - sunrise Pantano WashMay we all be blessed to find the light shining in the horizons.

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

 

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

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

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 10 Elul or 20 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  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.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart…”
Steve Jobs 1955-2011

All of us will die; some of us will die before we hit old age and some of us will live into our senior years.  We don’t know when the end will come.

With that in mind, I am trying to live each and every day to my fullest.  I am actively trying to embrace a life that honors who I am and how I want to be.  Sometimes it feels like a struggle, but more and more I am becoming true to myself and helping my sons to do the same.

One challenge for me is that when I my job went to half-time and then nothing, I lost my health insurance.  For me that leaves a big gaping hole in my heart.  I fear what it means not to have a mammogram or not to be able to get something checked on my skin to make sure it is ok.   I try not to worry about my family, but I know only too well what can happen when your health falls apart.  My hope and my prayer is that all is ok with me and my family now and always.  And I am visualizing that we will have what we need in health insurance as soon as possible.

Life happens; death happens.

For now, it is my job to care for my family in the best ways I can.  That means nurturing my sons and caring for all of our bodies, minds, and souls.  And while I am at it, I will pray and visualize that we will all live a full and healthy life!

What do you need to do in order to best follow your heart?

With blessings & light,
Chava

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