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A Letter to a Friend:

On several occasions you have questioned whether Facebook friends are really listening or whether you are being heard at all. You seemed to be wondering out loud whether Facebook is some sort of alternate reality.

You are not alone in wondering about the power or purpose of Facebook. Since joining Facebook in 2009, I have watched myself evolve in how I connect with the world in large part due to my interactions on this form of social media. We seem to be asking similar questions and perhaps coming to different assumptions.

fb

On a personal level, I have grown to love it!!! At nearly anytime Рday or night, I am surrounded by people that jazz my soul, inspire me to be a better person, nurture me when I am down, and/or support me when I need a kick in the tuchus (tush). And sometimes there is little or no real interaction; sometimes friends are just on the ride of life with me. The more direct I am, the more substantial  the help can be. Help has come in the form of information, resources, and/or supportive listening. My response to these interactions have helped me navigate into more healthy connections and out of friendships or connections that no longer serve me.
Facebook is not some sort of alternate reality. It is full of life (gifts and challenges), experiences, politics, information (true and false). People share what they are comfortable with sharing; this is no different than life in any other social realm. People share what they want you to hear and some are more authentic than others. This seems to be the reality whether on the phone with friends, at work, in synagogue or any house of prayer, at the park, or even the local grocery store.
When tough times hit, people can’t always help and don’t know what to say. The same can be said for all interactions.
Finding personal support for me seems to come mostly when I share what is going on and what I am doing about it. When I have been down for too long (which I have), the responses stop showing up with frequency. It doesn’t necessarily feel good, but each of us only have so much time in our lives to deal with our own crap let alone every one else’s crap. Sigh.
Politically, I have had to face that my strong opinions make people uncomfortable. And if someone is a really close friend, we learn to refrain from commenting on political posts or we accept the explosions that follow a ‘confrontation’. AND I have been known to end friendships or lose friendships when passions run deep. I love knowing where I stand with people even when it means that saying good-bye feels like the only option. I don’t have time to hang with people whose values I find troublesome.

I use Facebook to share all of the moving parts of how I walk in the world. I share poetry, sayings, politics, pain, joy, gratitude, and sometimes hell.

For me, Facebook has opened many doors to opportunities for learning, stretching, and connecting. While I love this tool, it is also one tool of many that I use in my life.

With love and light,
Chava

PS – Some examples of how Facebook has added to my life:

  1. Politically now, I have more information at my fingertips.
  2. Advice is always available for the asking!! And sometimes when not asked. ūüôā
  3. When I needed a job, opportunities surfaced.
  4. After I lost my job, friends from all parts of my life showed up to help; I am not sure how I would have survived if people didn’t come out of the woodwork.
  5. If I am sad or lonely, depressed or scared, there is always someone who shows up to comfort me.
  6. While many people have profoundly different views from me, there is always someone there to give me a different way of seeing things.
  7. Whenever I post a link to my blog, it gets read. ūüôā
  8. Whether I need a place to eat in Houston, a place to stay in Washington DC or a good book to read – Ask and I will end up with a ton of answers.
  9. I have found the best sayings just by lurking on Facebook. Did you know probably have over 70 pages of quotes that I have saved?
  10. AND so much more!!!!!!!

 

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This year’s¬†gifts have exceeded anything that I could have thought possible. ¬†To say that I was humbled by the love is an understatement. Now that I am moving to a healing place for both my body and my soul, it is time to reflect inwardly and do the holy work of grounding myself.

Today I realized how the shofar calls to me in a way I never thought of before; it feels like a healing instrument with each sound bringing clarity and strength to my core being.

Below is the symbolism of the Shofar as I relate to it. This is inspired, but not necessarily derived from the Jewish tradition,

  1. Tekiah ‚Äē one long, straight blast.
    Meaning: Remember that I am part of a larger universe. ¬†With that knowledge, I need to do the¬†Godly¬†work of tikkun olam, repairing the world; this isn’t a choice, this is a calling.
  2. Shevarim ‚Äē three medium, wailing sounds
    Meaning: “When we think about the year gone by, we know deep down that we’ve failed to live up to our full potential. In the coming year, we yearn not to waste that opportunity ever again. The Kabbalists say that Shevarim ‚Äē three medium, wailing blasts ‚Äē is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart ‚Äē yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve.”* May I connect, grow, and evolve to do the holy work that is part of my calling.
  3. T’ruah ‚Äē 9 quick blasts in short succession
    Meaning:¬†We “need to wake up and be honest and objective about our lives: Who we are, where we’ve been, and which direction we’re headed. The T’ruah sound ‚Äē 9 quick blasts in short succession ‚Äē resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness, and focus.”*

Chava with Shofar Elul 5775

Another more personal way to look at the each breath into the shofar:

Tekiah
The Universe is calling to me; I have so much to do! It is time to be more present.

Shevarim
Sometimes I can’t hold back my sense of desolation:
the plight of abused children,
poverty,
climate change/global warming,
human rights.

So much is calling my name; I have yet to do enough. Can I ever do enough?

T’ruah¬†
Step by step, I will continue to do what I must do. And while there is much to do, I can only do what I can do. Maybe I can inspire others to do the same. And perhaps that can be enough.

Finding a new rhythm as I create new spiritual space in Houston and continue to serve the larger world.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The sounds of the shofar inspire me to wake up and live more consciously. Over this coming year, may I make a difference for good and impact the universe that I am blessed to call home.

*   From http://www.aish.com/h/hh/rh/shofar/Shofar_Symbolism.html

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Today I realized that I am happy.

With every ounce of my being, I realized that the pain of the last few years has been easing up and evaporating. My entire focus is now on growing healthier, nurturing friendships, soaring spiritually, and gaining knowledge at every turn.

Today I am blessed with two healthy sons, a new home, a new city, a new position, some new friends, and healthier lifestyle habits. I am aware of the infinite possibilities that are available.

Somehow, yesterday doesn’t matter – not really. ¬†What matters is that I have learned from each and every experience. I am who I am because of the way I walk in the world¬†and what I have endured – the good, the challenging, and simply life.

The last several years¬†have included some intense pain and loneliness, but I have been blessed at nearly every step. I was never really alone; I was shedding life’s extra weight while a community of beloveds gave their love, their money, many precious gifts, and heartfelt¬†prayers.

While there were moments when I literally feared for my¬†family’s well-being, they were few and far between. Friends and acquaintances opened their homes, offered food, and made it possible for us to thrive. All of our basic needs and more were met.

I am in awe of how beautifully things worked. Reflecting honestly has caused my spirit to soar.

May I be a person that shows up when I am needed and who gives in every way I can.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

This week, I started filling my happiness jar with positive things that happen each day.
This week was the week I started filling my happiness jar with positive things that happen each day.

PS – Intensity is part of who I am, but I am grateful to the fact that my personal life is landing in a great place; I haven’t forgotten that I was brought into this world so that I could make a difference for good.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Keep returning home

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.

As I was flying home from Boulder  to my sons this week, I was overcome with ambivalence. I found myself wondering, what makes a place home?

At this moment in time, I am in an incredibly expansive space; I am open to any and all opportunities.  I am happy to continue in the field that I have loved for almost three decades and I am excited that an entirely new doorway may call to me.  My physical home may continue to exist in Tucson or perhaps I will end up somewhere completely different.  The world is wide open to me and possibilities abound.

In some ways it is so simple to say that I am going home. ¬†Home is where my family lives, my dogs await my return, or where my ‘stuff’ is. ¬†And yet when you are navigating a possible transition to a new locale, a physical home feels more like limbo.

And then the idea of home came again on Saturday morning when I went to the Temple I used to work. ¬†I was quite surprised that I felt comfortable there in spite of my losing my position due to financial challenges within the community. ¬†I am still feeling lots of mixed emotions as I struggle to make ends meet. ¬†Even so, I do have very warm feelings towards the community; I am not sure why I am shocked, but I am. ¬†One friend let me know that she hopes that I still find Temple to be my home community. ¬†While¬†I¬†don’t have the answer, I realized that the mentioning of Temple as my home left me again wondering. ¬†Where is home?

And then this morning, the answer came to me loud and clear when I listened to the brilliant TEDTalks¬†of Elizabeth Gilbert. ¬†When she said, “I am not going to quit (writing), I’m going home”, I realized then Gilbert eloquently expressed what I know to be true. ¬†For me, going home means that I am writing and that I am in a writing place. ¬†Writing makes me feel at peace, it makes me¬†whole.

For me, I feel balanced and complete when I am writing; it really does make any place feel like home sweet home..  Where is your safe place? When do you feel most at peace? Where is your home?

May we all keep returning home to the whatever jazzes our soul, makes us feel centered, and nurtures who we are.

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Coming to Tucson was bold for me, perhaps even crazy.

With each day I am finding out more about myself.  Some things I like; some things I like less.  Mostly I am learning to acknowledge that life as I knew it is different, not necessarily better or worse, just different.  I am also learning to accept the dichotomies of each and every reality.

My goal in coming here was to be the best educator I can be; I want to soar and to bring light to my work.  I also want to improve my writing and nurture my creative soul.  My art, my writing, my healing work. . . .over the coming years I want to soar in every way.  Mostly, I want to create a place that I can call home.  I crave a spiritual sanctuary and a way of life that inspires me.

Each morning, I wake up grateful and aware of that I am in a time of rebirthing.  As my eyes open, I find myself acknowledging that while I am a very strong woman, I am also more vulnerable than I have ever been in my adult life.  I have little support and too much to do! My friends are too far away, but I am making friends nearly every day.  I travel the roads around Tucson, but I am having trouble navigating out of the city; everything I do is in Tucson and my soul yearns to be out of the city.

And then there is the fabulous house I am renting.  Wow. . .I am really lucky and yet I am so ill equipped for taking care of it.  Somehow the dishes get done, the laundry too. . . but the floors, the garden always seem to wait.  With each day, I am learning how to manage and I am looking forward to 8 -10 months from now when I can find a smaller home or maybe even dream of buying a home (probably not for awhile longer).

The desert landscape makes me want to cry each and every day.¬† ‚ÄúHow great is your work, oh God, how very deep are your thoughts!‚ÄĚ Psalm 92:6.¬† When I look to the mountains, I know I am home; for now I am finding myself and creating a new foundation.¬† Today I worked in my yard; I have so much to learn.¬† And with each action I am doing, I am finding myself calm and centered.¬† Raking and mowing, weeding and pruning are so profoundly meditative.¬† I can‚Äôt believe I like it, but I wish I wasn‚Äôt such a novice.

The one thing that blows me away is the amount of water I am drinking.  I sure do seem to need the hydration.  In my imagination, I believe that I am cleansing my soul and my body with each class of water.  The cleansing sure does feel good.

Yesterday, I took a hike or should I say a stroll that left me lost in many ways.  For those that worry about my free spirit nature, I wasn’t alone this time.  But I was out of shape and ill equipped for a gentle hike at a higher altitude than I have been in a while.  I should be celebrating my life, my health, but instead I am bummed that I am not as healthy nor vibrant as I want to be.  I am trying to keep perspective, I know that I have lost over 60 lbs and managed to keep it off for a year or so.  I also know that I have more to go and I am starting to do it.  The sadness at my lack of physical stamina is intense.  Did I ever really run every day? How could I let my body go? How can I live with the realities of health challenges that made me sedentary?  I want to be vibrant; I want to reach my 50s as a healthy and vibrant soul, but I wonder if it is possible.  Tomorrow I will head out to the mountain alone; this time I will move slowly and breathe deeply.  I will chant and keep moving; I will push myself with each step.

With each breath, I am seeking a stronger foundation; I am yearning to find solid ground and to grow the person I want to be.  As I sit here in the holy month of Elul, I realize that I have made so some mistakes in my life, yet I am striving to surpass them and be a better mother, a friend, and a person.  I want to be the best me that I can be. I always want to be the best that I can be. This is great time of year for appreciating soul reflection.

May each of us explore ourselves as we navigate where we are.

With love, light, and blessings, Chava

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