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Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

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 . . . .]

drumming with dog

SabinoApril

Chava

Feb 12

Do What Jazzes YOUR Soul!!!

Life is really full. And while there are days, weeks, and even months when my life feels too heavy and kinetic, I know that if I don’t take care of myself, I will struggle with daily life. I am always traveling on My Journey Towards Wholeness.

Writing fuels my soul at it’s deepest level, I also need to be outdoors and moving in order to be whole. On any given day, I need to take time to breathe deeply and take in my surroundings not once by multiple times..

I am blessed with at plethora of things that I like to do. I also adore spending times with my sons, drumming, connecting with friends, and learning. I enjoy life.

If at all possible do work that makes your heart sing or that inspires you to grow. I’ve been blessed in that way, but I work hard to get there and stay there.

Nothing jazzes your soul unless you nurture it, water it, and sometimes prune it.

What do you like to do? Are you making time to do what you love? If not, why not? Consider making the time you need to make yourself feel balanced, content, or even happy. Just do it!

As I get ready to begin my next professional chapter, may I find the gifts in Houston and take time to jazz my soul. May you do the same wherever you are.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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“We are all here for some special reason.
Stop being a prisoner of your past.
Become the architect of your future.”
R
obin Sharma, Author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Each year during the Jewish month of Elul (usually in August) through Rosh HaShana, we take the time to do a cheshbon hanefesh, an inventory of our soul.  For me that means taking the time to reflect deeply about the gifts and challenges of the last year, but this is also simply a kinetic time of year. As a Jewish professional, I am working to prepare the community for new beginnings which include the High Holy Days, school, and new programming.  As a mother, I am helping my now mostly grown sons begin their next chapters.  And in the midst of all this, I am usually feeling the need to write and look inward.

The holidays themselves are not easy for me because it is challenging to stay in a spiritual space when you are in charge of so many logistics. Yet the moment Tashlich occurs, I realize that I need to take time to go onward and allow for reflection.  Tashlich is a ritual which usually takes place on first day of Rosh Hashanah in the late afternoon.  During this time the participants symbolically cast off their sins by gathering along the banks of a river, stream, or the like and reciting prayers of repentance.  While many people choose to do this ritual in community, I love to do it alone.

And this year, I have decided to create Tashlich moments again and again.  This is a year of letting go, of saying good-bye to what was and embracing the beauty that is. In the last several months, I have been blessed to rethink my career path, my relationships, and much of my life.  None of this is easy, but it has been made easier because of my private journaling, my very public blogging, and some very beautiful friends.  I haven’t been alone and yet I have needed to spend a lot of time alone as a way of giving myself the room to gaze deeply into my soul.

On a good day, the journaling strikes chord after chord, but this doesn’t happen all the time or even most of the time.  More often than not, I am left with a rhythm that isn’t quite working for me.  I am a work in progress. At times the work has been bitter sweet; sometimes it is actually heart wrenching; and once the puzzle pieces come together, it can be beautiful.  Soul-searching is an art form and I am learning with each breath I take.

Writing  is the most profound tool that helps me find center, but that isn’t my only means to finding balance.  My world is full of chanting, drumming and physically moving (sometimes dance and sometimes hiking).  In the midst of all the soul work, my sons keep me grounded and remind me that while I have a lot of work to do, I am actually doing well!  My world is in fact quite amazing; I have all that I need and much of what I want.

As fortunate as I am, there is still work to be done. One way of moving forward is to create Tashlich moments by letting go of all that is holding me back.  Last night, it meant that it was time to get rid of a ton of clutter; I deleted thousands of emails from personal and professional relationships that no longer served me well.  In most cases, it was simply about not needing those particular emails; in other cases it was time to say good-bye to old connections. The delete button became a co-conspirator in propelling to close some doors as a way to open new doors. The goal is to make room for my next chapters and to celebrate what is.

As I woke up this morning, I was acutely aware that there was a shift within me.  The rays of sunlight were slowly warming me up and nudging me toward the many gifts that are very much a part of my life today. I am feeling (perhaps) like a butterfly as it begins to take flight.  Last night, I said good-bye to the cocoon that was binding in a myriad of ways.  With each passing moment, the bindings release and my wings are spreading; there is no turning back for me.

Support for my Tashlich moment when I opened up Facebook this morning to find the photo of  the Topsail Island beach where a group of my close friends are gathering this week.  While I am not with them physically, the photo reminded me that I am not alone.  Once I saw that photo, I realized that outside my front door is the space to create my own Tashlich moment.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Topsail, NC Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

Topsail, North Carolina – Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

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“Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.
Quote by: Wendell Berry

(Prologue: I have grown to love life and tire of people wondering if I am for real.  I am. I am human, but I am a thriver. Regardless of what is tossed my way, I will be ok. Always. I have a choice on how to move forward and I choose . . .)

Life happens.

With every breath, I get to decide how I will emerge and how I will face the holy world that I have and will continue to experience.

Struggles have been a part of my life – never by choice. In response, I have made a conscious decision to NEVER allow them to define who I am.  The trouble is that there are some people see my life as really hard and need to focus on just that. I see my life quite differently – full and blessed. The gifts have come in all shapes and sizes. Each passing moment has lead to new adventures – some simply divine, others challenging, and still others painful.  Yet, regardless of what has transpired in my life, I have come to find the treasures that have made me the person I am.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a work in progress.  I have had days that leave my heart broken with endless tears falling. But those days have been far and few in between.  When I look back at the trials and tribulations that I have endured, I choose to see the beauty that is often a consequence of life’s difficulties.

Life happens.

During some of the segments of my life, I have faced a few too many arduous junctures.  Ultimately, each has led me to find inner peace, phenomenal opportunities, and many open doors.  I am who I am because I have always found light, maybe not instantly, but eventually.

The last few years have had a few challenges. I recovered from the nightmares that plagued me once my son recovered from years of serious illness, I navigated professional challenges that left me jobless, and I treaded life’s waters as a single mother. Regardless, none of it destroyed any part of me. In response, I have found that I have special friends, people that will help me in countless ways. Struggling alone has never happened for me. My amazing friends have nurtured not only me, but my precious sons too.  Whether I needed emotional support, financial help, or a hand, my friends have been there for me.

Through it all, there is a inner joy that sustains me and allows me to thrive.  When I smile, my entire body feels the reverberations; no wonder, I am drawn to feel happy. I want to share my excitement with every one I meet and sometimes I am lucky enough to do so.  I am not certain where I found the inner joy that sustains me even as I navigate tough realities, but I have.  Yay!

Creatively, I am becoming the person I want to be.  My writing soothes my soul and confronts life’s storms.  Over time, I seem to have impacted others with my words. Wow. . . how sweet is that?  And I have also taken up drawing and painting (just a little); I even have a new piece of artwork that I have been creating.  None of this would be what it is if I hadn’t experienced life in the ways I have.

Educationally, I have learned to trust myself as an educator and to push myself to make more of a difference to those that I mentor and teach.  Only once I believed in myself fully was it possible for me to create and then share my creations with others.

And spiritually, I have found my voice.  Whether I am drumming, chanting, praying, or hiking, I find that I am becoming connected with the earth in profound ways.  I have grown to love how I walk within the world.  Sometimes I find myself dancing, and moving in ways that I have never done before.  I am alive, fully alive.

Nothing has ever destroyed my spirit. Even when I have had moments that I felt broken, I emerged stronger with tools that allowed for healing of my heart, my mind, and my soul.

A long time ago, I learned that while the world is sometimes dark, my spirit is full of light.  I always have the ability to choose to see the light and if I am really honoring who I am, I can be the light.

Only when I live in the light will joy exist within me.  So, I guess I need to choose light; there is no option.

Sunset near Pupukea Hawaii; Photo coutesy of  Kathleen Kendle

Sunset near Pupukea Hawaii; Photo coutesy of Kathleen Kendle

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Middah (character trait) focus: Persistence

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.

 

Courtesy of Shay Seaborne

Courtesy of Shay Seaborne

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean 

What I have learned is that if you want to accomplish anything in the world you have to do the work.   Only though taking one step at a time will you learn how to make things happen or how to navigate the waters so that you can get to where you want to go.

In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to develop a few practices that now guide my life.

  • Writing – Only through writing and reading do I grow my writing in skill and intensity. Since writing really jazzes my soul, I have to do the work to be a good writer.
  • Chanting –   For me, chanting is a way to go deep inside myself and to work on how I see the world and walk through life.  The deeper I allow my chanting practice to go, the more  my spirit seems to evolve to a healthier place.
  • Healthy Living – I love eating healthy foods, going to the chiropractor regularly, and biking/hiking in the desert.  The challenge for me is that this is a practice I’ve yet to find a momentum for. So, this is my work.  Once I set my mind to the holy work of taking care of my entire being only then will I be healthier.  The good news is that I do have a practice and I will continue to take small steps over time.

Only persistence will get me where I want to go.  Is there a practice that you would like to grow? If yes,what are you doing to invest in your journey?

 

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Tonight, we will count or have counted Day 12 of the Omer, which is 1 week and 5 days.  We refer to today as Hod she-b’Gevurah, being actively present in what you are doing without needing to control the outcome of what’s happening within the power of life’s journeys and within our own strength.  The beauty of living, even momentarily, without needing to control how something will work or not work can be profoundly freeing.

The teaching Na’aseh V’Nishma, which is understood to mean do first and understand later ; the translation means we will do and we will hear  (understand more deeply) comes to mind. (Exodus 23:4-7)   Sometimes we are drawn or even ordered to do things that make no sense.  If we are lucky, we might one day come to better understand our actions.
Congested

One of the things I have grown to love is walking, hiking, biking, or driving in an area that is unknown to me.  With each forward movement, I fall in love with where I am at any given moment without an expectation of what is coming next.    In truth, even if I could easily read maps I would still be clueless about what is happening and what I am seeing until I get to where I am going.

Life is full of things that are hidden from us or that are unclear to us.  Sometimes we are fortunate enough to gain perspective after we have completed a task, sometimes later, and sometimes not at all.  Learning to trust the process of life is a gift you give yourself.

May we all be blessed to have moments in time that we can trust our role in life without needing to understand each and every moment that is coming or will ultimately come.

 

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My Cup is (literally) overflowing. – כוסי רוויה, comes from Psalm 23:5.  today (December 24th) has been an amazing day in every way.

CupOverflows

In nearly each and every moment, I felt at peace even within the moments that were less than peaceful.  From experience, I know that life and health are not a given.  There are real struggles taking place around me and within me, but today, I was able to transcend all of them.

Nearly everything I did or wanted to do today worked.

This morning, I slept until nearly 9 AM. Ok, I did wake up for an hour or so earlier in the morning and blogged, but I was able to go back to sleep.  And you know what? Sleep was really sweet.

And then I woke up and took a really long walk with Maddie, my precious dog. With each step I chanted for both myself and for my friend who was having major heart surgery.  In fact the chant, I chanted for myself was the chant he told me to chant last week when I was facing some very dark demons and fear.  I also chanted beautiful chants for his precious heart to be healed and his body to be at peace.

Coming home, I realized I needed dog food.  Well Maddie is incredibly spoiled; she eats an overpriced specialized dog food that can only be purchased at one location.  The good news is that I was able to purchase the very last package of dog food that the store had! Wow did I feel fortunate.  Now let’s hope that next month the dog food can still be purchased; I’ve never seen a pet store run out of food.

Then I came home, picked up Aryeh so that we could walk around Sabino Canyon.  The views were awesome even though Aryeh still claims he hats the fuckin’ desert; I think he’s lying, but we still had a great time.  The view was beautiful, we found paths that were secluded, and we had some good mother and son time.

Returning home after being gone for a few hours, I was able to take Maddie for another long walk.  With each step I found myself feeling joy for the first time in weeks.  Towards the end of the walk, I decided to take some cookies over to the Firehouse around the corner from my house.  So I did just that.  It felt great to do something simple and kind; for some reason I have always felt shy about doing those sort of acts of kindness.  Today I did it.  On the way home, I decided to run for a few minutes.  With each step I felt like a gazelle; perhaps I can start to run distance again. . .I am hoping. Running with Maddie makes each step pure joy!

About two houses from coming home, Maddie met a new friend.  A humanoid named Eva fell in love with Maddie and because they were connecting I met a new friend too.  I love how good dogs open up doors for people like me!!! In the end, I spoke to this woman from Finland for about 15 – 20 minutes while Maddie soaked up the love!

The day continued when I was able to get a hold of a book that I wanted.  I met my friend at the Chinese Food restaurant that he was hanging out at with his cousins.  You probably realize by now that he must be Jewish.  Well, I can’t wait to read a book about a cave he founded a few decades ago.  One of life’s biggest highlights for me is having friends that are explorers, creators, dreamers, and visionaries.  Sometimes, I can’t imagine what they are doing with me; but I will be grateful for the creativity they share with others and they bring out in me!

Coming home for the final time of the day, I found out that my friend made it through surgery (which was never a doubt) and that the surgery was a success; wow!!! Now remember that I never take health for granted.  While I wasn’t worried, I was concerned and when the surgery seemed to take longer than expected, I was getting anxious.

At some point during the evening, I realized that I had exactly 12,500 views to my blog.  I love writing, really love writing.  I didn’t even realize that I was getting close to that number.  Another WOW for today.  I am still not sure why people follow my writing, but I am blessed.  If I understand it correctly, I have about 85 followers to my blog.  To be fair, not everyone that follows read my blog nor is the number necessarily counted in the viewing numbers.  But I love knowing that people are reading my writing, my rambling.

With each step and each breath, I have felt surrounded by a cocoon of blessings today.

As I was winding down my writing and getting ready to go to sleep for the night, my sons are engaged in deep conversations, but they keep checking in with me to see if I need or want anything.  How lucky is that!!! My guys are great and they like one another too!

So much more could be shared . . . lots of internal thoughts and processing, but the bottom-line, I found light at every crevice.  Even the tough interactions were ok.  We all get to decide how we walk through our journeys and today I chose to be real, to be honest, and to be me!

To wrap up the evening, the Tucson skies were exquisite tonight.

December 24

Today wasn’t perfect, but it was overflowing.  My Cup is (literally) overflowing. – כוסי רוויה, it usually is!  I just have to remember to embrace each day with a smile, a positive attitude, and the belief that all will be good.  Try it and see what your day looks like.

With blessings and light, Chava

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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.

 

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