Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘health’

Middah (character trait) focus: Create A Bigger Tent

Create A Bigger Tent - Remember that a large world exists outside of where you stand. Photo Courtesy of Ann Cameron Siegal

    Create A Bigger Tent:  Remember a large world exists outside of where you stand.
Photo  by: Ann Cameron Siegal

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 me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

Over 10 years ago, I saw the following cover page on the front cover of Yoga Journal.

Connect with Yourself; Connect with your Community; Connect with the World.

While I don’t remember the article at all, I do believe that these words have impacted my life more than any other words I have ever read.  They remind me of what is important in life.  Life really isn’t all about me, but I need to always consider who I am as I go out into the world and do the holy work that nurtures who I am and the values I hold so dear.

My job is to take care of myself and those in my inner circle first; the responsibility is vital.  Being healthy or whole can’t happen unless I honor by body, my mind, and my soul.  And once I do, it is important for me to remember that I live in the midst of a larger community.  The community I live in might be different from yours.  My community or my tent, as I like to refer to it, includes those that actively engage in a life of values and political beliefs that are important; they may be friends, neighbors, or virtual strangers.  Our values remind us that there is a larger world that needs our stewardship; together we consider the world around us.  Our local world and the larger world may depend on our nurturing.  Human rights covers every aspect of the world we live and with that comes consideration for the environment, slave/forced labor, politics, etc.  The world encompasses everything that could drive our universe.

Taking care of myself matters, but remembering that the world needs our collective spirit to move us to a better place for not just our community, but for the larger world too.  Join me in finding something that brings you to a more passionate place; find something that drives your spirit to care and then do the work of a caring person.

May each and every one of us reach outside of ourselves and create a bigger tent where others matter; it really isn’t just about us.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Tonight we counted Day 23  of the Omer, which is 3 weeks and two days of the counting of the Omer. Today is referred to as Gevorah sheh b’Netzach or discipline or strength within endurance.

Having the discipline or the strength to maneuver where you want to go with all of the different moving parts of your life takes endurance.  

CafePasseNeeds

Over the years, I have learned that when I want to become the best I can be in the different areas of my life, I need to be focused on creating a daily practice as a means of better developing the skills and connection I need.  With the practice comes a true connection to accomplishing whatever it is I set out to do.  I have also learned that it often takes courage to withstand the challenges that come with any daily practice; nothing happens without a lot of fortitude or character to do the work.  And all becomes possible as long as I am consciously doing the work.

I am getting ready for a new health journey.  For the first time in my life, I am a little anxious about what the journey will look like.  Will I have the strength and the courage to push myself in the healthiest of directions.  A few years ago, I lost 65 lbs; I have kept most of that off, but now it is time to finish what I started out to do.  Being healthy is not an option; my life matters too much!! 

While I am not certain exactly what path I am taking, I realize that this journey has to be fun, rewarding, and make sense within the confines of my current life.   Once I figure out what I want to do to make this journey work for me, I will move forward with more ease.  

Gevorah sheh b’Netzach – Hoping I have strength within the endurance to do what I need to do and to do it  right.

With each and every personal goal, may we all persevere with an open heart and gentle spirit.  

Read Full Post »

‎”Action is the antidote to despair.” -Joan Baez

Life encompasses so many waves of emotions. Frustration, happiness, anger, contentment, sadness, calmness, and despair. . . .the list is infinite.  For the most part, we can allow ourselves the space to navigate each wave by sitting with it, embracing it, or sometimes letting it go out into the world.  Despair, however, needs action or it will literally destroy you.

Sailboat1

Photo courtesy of
Shay Seaborne

While those that are facing despair might need to sit with it for a time, they will ultimately need to reach out of themselves and function in some small way if they will be able to move forward.  Despair is the profound sense of hopelessness that penetrates our being when something happens and we feel out of control. And while those in despair want to curl up in their cocoon and sometimes need to for a time, they equally need to find their way out of the cocoon too.

In the last few weeks, I have faced moments of despair.  An intense sense of loss takes over me when I fear for my sons’ health.  Both of my sons have faced serious health struggles that could have altered their lives in profound ways. Life is a gift; it is not a given.  So when we had our moment of utter fear that hell was visiting our home again, I literally crumbled.  The reality is that I couldn’t allow myself too long to become despondent because I had to act responsibly .  I had to act by taking my older son to doctors, MRIs, blood work, all while keeping perspective,  seeking information, and ultimately trusting that this was a moment and this moment would pass; I also had to go to work as I could.  There is no option for hope.  And to share the words of Tony Kushner that I shared in a recent blog, ““It’s an ethical obligation to look for hope; it’s an ethical obligation not to despair.  If you look, there is always a possibility of finding a place where action can change the course of things. ” Only through action can you propel yourself forward.  So I did what I needed to do and in the end, it feels like we have dodged a bullet and the moment of sheer fear is gone.  Moments happen; not every moment has to lead to hell.

While the above incident looms large in my life, I have also faced other challenges in life and work over the past weeks that can feel like momentary despair.  Friendships change; loved ones evolve; our children humble us; work struggles happen.  In any given day, we navigate moments of despair when we believe there is no solution.  Giving into those moments does nothing for our souls.  Nothing.  So with each moment, I have learned to acknowledge what is, allowing myself the space for sadness, anger, or tears. But for momentary despair, I have to move forward and find solutions to what’s going on at any given moment; there is no option.

Despair is a very real emotion.  And in truth, sometimes loss penetrates the soul and there is no hope, at least for a while.  For that I am deeply sad and sorry for anyone that has to go through that experience.  For most of us, despair has moments of complete darkness, but when we ride the wave, we find calmer waters and even hope.

Read Full Post »

sugar1As soon as my eyes opened this morning I realized two important realities.  The first one was that I am starting to sleep longer hours then ever before; yay! And second, I am feeling really good about taking control of my life again.  Taking sugar out of my diet is really just a start.  With this one step, I am also seeing a few more changes in how I am walking in the world.  I am:

  1. believing I can be a really healthy woman.
  2. not stressing over momentary lapses of forgetfulness.  Did you know that lemonade has sugar? 😉
  3. listening to my body more.  When I need to rest, I am allowing myself to do so.
  4. not drinking enough water or eating healthy enough foods throughout the day.
  5. enjoying having herbal teas at coffee houses.

The bottom-line is that I am finding new norms for how to handle stress and exhaustion.  I am not grabbing for sugar, so I have to find substitutes.  Herbal tea is great! Yesterday I had two cups of a peppermint-chamomile tea that was amazing.

The journey to health and eliminating sugar is not easy, but it is the right thing to do!

With light and blessings, Chava

Read Full Post »

These feet travel through many doorways.

Not all who wander are lost.  J. R. R. Tolkien

I love life.  With each step I find myself exploring, digging deeply to strengthen my already solid foundation.  I am a seeker who walks through the world with a core intensity.  I am real.

With all of these realities lurking in the background, I truly value who I am.  Exploring leads to new understandings.  While I feel like I am constantly finding a lost part of myself, I never feel lost.   With each step I take through new doorways, I seem to feel more complete.

Below are some of the doorways or passages that are part of my daily trek.  I seem to thrive on analyzing life’s complexities and growing with each realization.

To writing:

I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die. ~Isaac Asimo

“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

For these reasons and more I write.  Simple.  The more writing I do, the more balanced I am.  When writing is part of my daily practice I can move through ever doorway with a stronger sense of calm and in a more conscious way.  Writing helps me to walk through the world.

To Loving Connections 

Moving to Tucson was hard.  I love my friends; I miss my friends desperately.  And the good news is that I am making new friends.  And some of those friendships are becoming nurturing and fun, a nice balance.

Yesterday, I found myself vulnerable for a little while; the vulnerable scared me because for a few long moments I felt alone.  So I chanted the words Patach Libi, Open My Heart.  The more I chanted these words, the less alone I felt.  As my day progressed, I received a couple of texts and emails from friends.  By opening my heart and allowing the gifts of friendship to touch me, I was able to lose some of the layers of vulnerability.

And throughout the day, people kept reaching out.  New friends and old friends were with me.  By opening my heart to the friendships that surrounded me, I was able to move through another metaphoric doorway and to feel connected to those I love and to those I do feel a connection.

To Health

I am on another health journey. I am walking more, moving more, and seeing a wonderful homeopath who is unlocking some of my stagnant energy as she helps me become a healthier me.  I also chant more and actively seek spiritual opportunities through my movement.  Living in Tucson has connected me with the land more than ever before.  Wow, let’s talk about a spiritual connection.

My hope is to work on my spiritual and physical health simultaneously.   The most beautiful example of this for me is when I go walking or hiking in the beauty of the southwest; with each step there is a chant whether I voice it or not.

To Balance/Consciousness

My hope is that I continuously make choices that align with my values.  Where do I shop? What do I eat? Do I think about the packaging of the things I buy? What about my carbon footprint? Do I actively engage in navigating the political circles within the US and Israel? Am I kind to strangers? How do I treat those that work with me?  Do I smile and laugh?  Do I help those in need?

I hope I do all of these things and more.  In truth, I am a work in progress.

Living consciously with my values makes a difference; finding balance comes from honoring my values and trying to make the world a better place.

To Gratitude:

Gratitude is what happens when you feel grateful for the small things instead of fixating on the challenges. Today had moments when I forgot to find gratitude, but fortunately I was surrounded with reminders to keep me in line!
How I walk through life?

Challenges are always opportunities. Embers or sparks of light can be ignited even in the darkest of moments.  Doorways represent possibilities, opportunities, hope.  Each time I go through a new doorway, take a new journey, or climb up or down a new mountain, I am stretching myself and growing as an individual.

May each of choose to live with integrity by consciously moving through each and every doorway within our lives.

 

Read Full Post »

We live in a broken world.  Inside us there beats a heart that has been broken more times than we’d care to remember, but there will always be someone to help us pick up the shattered pieces and begin the process of repair.  Sometimes with glue, sometimes with love, sometimes with miracles.  Always with God.

~Naomi Levy Hope will Find You  (p.152)

Washington DC skies following a storm.

My son is sick.  And it could be very simple or not.  We don’t know, but we are navigating the both modern medicine and alternative medicine. That’s what we do.  For over three months, he has been plagued by pain; the last 6 weeks have been out of control.  In my heart, I believe that all will be good; the journey might be difficult, but we are handling the current reality.

Last night, as I sat in a circle of new and loving friends, I felt caged; I had to get away.  Everyone was asking questions, sharing the curiosity, and offering insight.  All I wanted to do was dodge the conversation not because I didn’t want to share per se, but because sharing makes me re-live the pain and sadness again and again.

Throughout our lives all of us will experience periods of mental and physical challenges and periods of mental and physical health.  This is reality.  Personally, I have been blessed with both and my guess is that you have too.

In my reality, I have faced critical illness multiple times for my children.  Life threatening and ultimate survival has been our experience.  For the most part these experiences have taken years to recover both the physical and emotional trauma.

Being a friend to someone who is experiencing ill health is not easy.  And each family being challenged or plagued with chronic illness deals differently.  The one thing that I know is that words have power, so saying less and asking less is often what I need from others.  I want to know you care, but I don’t want to share each day, each ache, or my fears.  Once I share, the realities loom in front and the emotions flow; what I need is to navigate the realities and to stay focused on what I hope will be the end result – HEALING.

With that in mind, I wanted to give some guidelines that help many of us that have experienced serious illness. Regardless of the outcome, these guidelines offer insight into what I need:

  1. Trust that I will share the details if I want to share the details; don’t ask.  When my older son was ill, everyone wanted to know his prognosis.  There was a chance he might die and I didn’t want to say those words.  If there is something you need to know the grapevine will ultimately work by design.
  2. Each experience is unique, don’t share your experiences with a similar illness.  If I need your insight, I will ask.  Unsolicited experiences lead to fear mongering.
  3. Trust that I am getting medical help and if I need help finding a different practitioner, I will ask for guidance.
  4. Smiles and hugs make a huge difference in how we walk through the day.
  5. You can ask how we are, but don’t dig for answers.  I will share when it feels right.  Remember I don’t want to feed the energy of illness.
  6. Offer food or hanging out opportunities.  Having someone who doesn’t feel good in the house takes a lot of energy.
  7. Don’t judge how individuals are handling their journey.
  8. Don’t hold abruptness or grumpiness against the ill people or their care takers.
  9. Pray and vision for good health.  And when health looks depleted, pray for  those that are being challenged to find balance or peace within the storm.

Caring is a form of art; what works for you isn’t what will work for me.  Saying less will allow those in need of healing to maneuver their journey.  While the journey can be long, it is what it is.

Hang on for the ride.

Read Full Post »

Over the last few weeks, I have been reflecting about what tools I need to walk in this world.  Blogging, walking my dog, and creating spiritual space has helped formulate paths that resonate with how I want to evolve over the coming period of time.  I am a seeker and with that comes a responsibility to act on the insights that come to me.

Commitment is not something I take lightly.  One of my favorite quotes in the world is:

“If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you:
I came to live out loud.” ~Emile Zola

This quote exemplifies how I walk through the world.  While I have an introverted spirit, I also embrace the world and that which jazzes me with enormous energy.

Nearly two years ago, I  embarked on what I then referred to as my Journey to Health.  During this journey, I altered my lifestyle and strived to make more conscious health choices.  For those of you that followed me, I did a lifestyle count off which started 45 days to my 45th birthday.  Mostly, I was successful with the journey.  I was able to begin significant weight loss (65 lbs. over many months); stopped eating sugar, sodas and caffeine; and I started moving more.  This year, I started writing more for myself and I also allowed myself to become more transparent with my blogging.  These two journeys have been about taking care of myself by honoring the person I want to be.

But now it is time for me to allow space to cultivate the two journeys together.  The Journey to Health is about finding balance between my physical and spiritual beings.  I need both to be an active part of my life.  In some ways my body is in shock because I haven’t been honoring my whole body simultaneously in years.  My guess is that most of us don’t, but some of my circumstances have made it nearly impossible to really take care of me.

With one body, one soul, one being – I need to allow myself the space to take care of me in ways that are fundamentally intuitive.   That means I need to look at my whole body as I strive for balance.

Writing has been happening a lot over the past months, but now I will continue my blogging but also take time four or five days weekly to work on two books that have been half written for too long.  And as I do that, I will also be eating better, moving more, and taking time to connect more with nature.

Creating ritual is one of the ways that enable me to reach a spiritual content space.  In order to find spiritual and physical health I need rituals like writing daily, jogging, walking my dog, hiking weekly (if not more), and drumming/chanting.  This is how I find balance in the world.  Fortunately, my boys like doing many of these things with me and they also like when I do them by myself.  🙂  I am truly blessed.

Tucson is allowing me the room to do what I need to do.  My position as a Jewish Educator fuels me professionally; my physical environment touches me deeply; and my family is supportive in both.  I am a fortunate person.

By sharing my journey, I am making myself accountable to those that care enough to question.  I love that people care.  Regardless of how the journey develops, enjoy the process with me.  Good days and challenging days are part of life’s realities.  And know that so many of you inspire me to become a better me; for that I am eternally grateful.

Tomorrow, I will take a good part of the day and go to Madera Canyon where I will do some light hiking, a little jogging, and some writing too.  Each day I will take time to nurture my entire physical and spiritual being.

May my journey to wholeness make me a better person first for myself and then to those I treasure.

I really did come into this world to ‘live out loud’ so here it goes!

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »