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Posts Tagged ‘Houston’

The Rose That Grew From Concrete
Written by Tupac Shakur

Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.

When Dovi, my now 18 year old, was younger, he used to say, “Ima (Mommy) is that your new best friend.”  He loved how I could connect with anyone. . . . .  anywhere. The truth is that I still have a way with connecting with most people and while I enjoy nearly every person not everyone is My New Best Friend.

All of my closest friends begin as soul friends.  While it may take years to get to know all the stories, soul friends land in my life and quickly become part of my inner circle.  The blessing is that most of those people enter my life and never leave; I really am someone who loves forever.

Today’s gift was “Telli”.  Within minutes of meeting, we connected. We didn’t know each other’s stories yet and still don’t have a lot of the details,but we now realize that our stories have traveled a parallel course.

Every person has a story. For those of us that have faced childhood trauma, our stories fuel our soul and give us a foundation that few can understand (and we really wouldn’t want those we love to ‘get it’.) Yet when we find those that have emerged or thrived from similar challenges, we often feel an intense closeness with a kindred spirit.

This afternoon literally made my heart sing. While I rarely feel alone in my journey, my friends carry me and hold me whenever I need their love. Still it is awesome to connect with someone that doesn’t need explanations for how you walk in the world.

Driving home, I knew it was mutual, but what confirmed it was when “Telli” texted me the poem above. I am so grateful that we both bloomed as we did. Yay!!!!

And the funniest thing is that my GPS added 40 extra minutes to my trek to go to “Telli’s” shop. I almost turned around when I found my first traffic accident.  But something told me that I should make the trek and I am so glad I did.  Because now I can say that I have met my very first new best friend in Houston. (Note: I love the many confirmations that moving to Houston was a great decision.)

While I am bummed that “Telli” and I didn’t take a selfie together, I know we will have a next time. 🙂 In fact, after I told Dovi the story of My New Best Friend, he asked me why I didn’t invite her to join us for the evening.

May we each open doors to new friendships; they really do make our lives more complete.

With love, light and blessings,
Chava

1 Feb 2015Chantalle Brooks

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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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If you do not change direction,
you may end up where you are heading.

~Lao Tzu

While I tend to always land on my feet regardless of what is happening in my world. In the last several years I have discovered something very surprising about my personality.  I love continuity! Knowing I have close friends nearby; trusting the love of an old friend; hosting Shabbat meals, holiday celebrations, and gatherings of all sorts with people that love me and know me for who I am.

With that in mind, I am struggling with limbo. I am getting ready to work in an awesome community where I will make new friends and new memories. I’ve never had trouble connecting with people.  For that I am grateful. And yet, in this very moment, I am mourning the loss of connections and the beauty of old friendships. The blessing is that most of the friendships are still with me, just not close enough to touch.

My ‘wandering Jew’ days are not what they once were.

As I sit in my new home in Houston, I realize how empty I am feeling in this moment. I have no real doubt that I will find myfooting and that new friends will bring life into my home or that I will connect with people that one day will love my quirkiness, my sense of humor, and my rhythm, but in this moment I realize that that time is just out of my reach.

I want to be a friend as intensely as I want to be held in friendship. I simply love life and the beautiful connections that emerge.  I also know that without a doubt that my time in Houston will include actively engaging in my passions as both a Jewish Educator and an activist. I will make a difference for good and impact those that I interact with.  It just takes time. . .I have to trust that reality.

For this moment, I am grieving the many losses I have felt and acknowledging the vulnerability that comes with loneliness. I am in a state I never thought I would live in and I have no one to call, no one to reach out to, no one that would come to sit with me if I needed them. OK-this is a good moment to laugh at myself.  Of course I have people, just not any of my besties.

I will never forget the friends that surrounded me a few years ago when I needed to have surgery. At one point, after being taken to my hospital room, I was miserable and physically alone. At that point, my dear friend came into my room and sat with me when I couldn’t stop puking. At one point, I looked up to her beautiful eyes and asked her how she could sit there and wipe me up in all of my disgust.  She just smiled and said she’s a mother. . . .her love simply flowed.  And then there was another friend who took a few days of work to be with me regardless of my mood. I was such a horrid patient, but that friend is still one of my closest friends and the person I can call when darkness looms.

In every city, I have ever lived, I have found beloved friends that fuel my soul and appreciate the person I am. I just have to trust the universe that coming to Houston will be no different.

After last week’s doldrums, I will forever treasure the words that flowed from Stephanie Fink, one of my closest Tucson friends,

“You are tired in many ways as your inner butterfly prepares to emerge from this cocoon.
You will fly free and dance among sunlit blossoms that have been
awaiting the touch of your vibrant wings.”

After only two years of friendship, my friend knows me and loves my spirit! With that I know that I wings are ready to take flight and all will be good. My experiences in Houston will be awesome!

Remember . . . Let It Go Courtesy of Karen Judin

Courtesy of Karen Judin

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Sometimes my body tells me when it is time to stop and to breathe a little more deeply.  If I am wise enough and make the time to listen, the subtle hints will guide me in the ‘right’ direction; if not, a cyclone will take over my body until I do what I should have done in the first place.

Lavender photo

“Field of Lavender” – Courtesy of Carolyn Riker

How do I know this?

My body is recovering from revolting to life’s journeys.  Over the past many months, I have had to navigate upheaval at every turn. Today I am lucky, I am in the midst of landing in Houston where I will begin a new position in a just over three weeks.  In the meantime, I have nesting to do as well as my consulting work with Lev Shalem Institute.

To say that I feel spiritually great feels inadequate.  My entire world is flowing with fortunate blessings, my cup is overflowing. And yet, I am human.  I have been handling too much, I am still struggling financially and trying to be an incredible mother to my growing sons. I am also making some very holy choices for how to live more consciously and nurture my writer’s soul.

The work can feel overwhelming and last week’s move from Virginia to Texas took my last reserve. The trek was physically hard, the food on the road did not agree with me, and the cyclone hit with a vengeance within 18 hours of arriving in Houston.

To say that my digestive system is trashed and I feel like I have been hit by a Mack Truck is only the tip of the iceberg. Or maybe it is the iceberg. . . And I was too weak to call for help and perhaps a little embarrassed that I needed help. I pride myself on being self-reliant and emotionally strong, but I am very much an average person. In fact I wouldn’t have made it this far over the last 18 months without the love and care from my village of beloveds.

Being slammed with this intense pain and dysfunction upon landing may have been just the gift I needed. Of course, that doesn’t mean this is an easy time, it just means that I acknowledging that life is full of gifts even within the challenges. Last  night my symptoms were joined with a fever and a little respiratory frustration, today I am a little better.

With all of this in mind, I know that I don’t have a choice, I have a body to take care of and a mind that needs loving-kindness. So, I am taking time to rest and move gently, write and hydrate.  This is my life.  I am thinking it may be time to listen carefully to all that my body is saying.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – I am wondering if it makes sense to make a create a lavender pillow to help my body and mind rest.  After seeing my friend Carolyn’s Riker’s photo above, I became aware that I need to surround myself with healing thoughts, healthy life choices, and a pillow to lay my head (metaphoric or real).

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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 . . . .]

Creating Your Makom Kadosh,
Your Sacred Place

pet-rock

As a writer, I have always fallen in love with sweet nooks that inspire my words to flow.

Until the last few years, I would plop myself down anywhere and write, but that isn’t the case now. But during my two-year Kol Zimra, Chant Leader’s Training with Rabbi Shefa Gold, my relationship to space changed. During this amazing series of workshops in New Mexico, I began to appreciate how creating a spiritual space enhanced my ability to dig deeper within myself allowing me to ultimately pull out ideas and thoughts worthy of sharing with others. I also began to understand that if I surrounded myself with beauty and calm energy, my entire spirit would soar.

My spirituality has developed significantly now that I am more cognizant of my surroundings. Today not only do I spend time writing, but I also take the time to chant, drum, dance, and pray. I think about my space when I eat, cook, read, and simply take time to breathe. Surrounding myself with what resonates within me enables me to a happier and calmer person.

Many moving parts combined create a sacred space for me. Over the years, I have learned that less is more. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist exactly, but I aspire to surround myself with only that which jazzes my soul. I want to love each of every fiber within my space. I am sensitive to colors, lighting, textures, smells. In the background, I always have a sense of the sounds; sometimes I want to hear nigunim (wordless melodies), sometimes chanting, sometimes rock, sometimes folk, and sometimes the sounds of the outdoors is perfect for my spirit. There are times I want to listen and times I want to sing, but I creatively ignite when hearing the songs and melodies that touch me deeply.

Years ago, I also discovered that life needs be part of my surroundings. Plants, flowers, herbs, and animals only enhance my mood. There is something heart-warming about being enveloped by life or by natural beauty.  My disposition tends to do better when I am around earthiness.

With all of this in mind, I am so looking forward to moving to Houston in ten days where I can establish a nurturing foundation that embraces who I am and where I can feel at home with my soul.

In my heart, I believe that in order to be content with what is, each of us need to love wherever we are standing or work towards whatever it is that we think we feel would be right for us.

Think about it, what do you need in order to make your personal space sacred.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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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 . . . .]

Honoring My Bruised and Fragile Heart

Picture by Chava

Picture by ME

Life is good. Really good. My sons are growing into awesome men. My dog still loves to herd. Over the last year, I have been held and supported at each and every step I have taken.  I have a job that I love now. . .one that I am hoping to continue in some capacity as time moves forward. And in less than two weeks, my sons and I are moving to Houston so I can begin an amazing new position.

So. . .while my world is blessed and full, I also have some shadows that keep me stretching and growing. As someone who honors the intensity that is within me, I have to acknowledge that there is so much on my mind at any given point.  I grapple with past hurt, deep feelings, and the state of our world. I struggle with wanting to me wiser, healthier, more beautiful, and most importantly impactful to the world I live. I wonder if I will ever be enough, do enough, and learn to articulate my thoughts better than I do now. Sometimes I simply feel bruised.

We all have so much to learn. I am certain that I am not the only person out there that wants to become a better version of myself. After a lifetime of struggles, there are parts of me that are wounded. So not only do I manage my body, my mind, and my soul, I also navigate the fear of the unknown. Will I have what I need in the coming months? home/food, health insurance, necessities, a way to help my kids with their education.

The beautiful part of my life is that I ALWAYS land on my feet – ALWAYS! But the years of challenges don’t go away just because things have ultimately worked. There are moments that I feel the pain of my heart being stomped on, remember seeing my child in ICU multiple times, or felt the wrath of someone’s anger. There are arguments and challenges that I remember clearly and moments when I felt silenced even though my voice should have mattered.

Part of my ability to live in a place of joy and inner peace is that I also recognize the dark moments. I allow myself to remember, to feel, to cry, and to mourn. I also celebrate that whatever happened to me didn’t permanently hurt my spirit. All that I went through fertilized my foundation so that I could become the person I am.

Each and every one of us have done a lot of work to grow into the people we are.  How beautiful is that?!?!

Today, is one of those days that I value who I am and how I got here, but in this moment, I am remembering and mourning some of the losses that got me here.

May we be blessed to live a life that leaves us celebrating the gifts even as we sometimes feel fragile.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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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 . . . .]

Louisa - late winter 2015

Lake Louisa – late winter 2015

I Love Hummus AND Life is Awesome TOO!

Life is a long and winding road.

Living in a place of gratitude makes living a lot easier; it sure beats only focusing on the tough stuff. I am very aware of the tough stuff that happens both around me and in the larger world. Even with life’s difficulties, I choose to celebrate the life I am living.  I am SMILING!! I AM HAPPY!!!!

Today, I am celebrating:
A. New home in Houston
B. Blog follower in Swaziland
C. International Hummus Day
D. Vatican to Recognize Palestinian State in New Treaty
E. Focused and productive morning
F. My sons hid the peanut butter from ME!
G. Networking with Colleagues
H. SO MUCH MORE. . . .
I.  ALL OF THE ABOVE

Today has been amazing!

From the moment I woke up I felt productive and content. The day started with my work flowing in fabulous ways. I couldn’t believe that I was feeling so accomplished. And then moments after I showed incredible restraint and kindness when I really could have acted differently, I received the information I have been waiting to hear! We found out we have a house and can now ‘officially’ move to Houston.

And then I tripped over the best news in the world. . . .Today is International Hummus Day!!! I love hummus.  So much so that my family named one of our most precious dogs Chumi, short for hummus.  (OK- all of our furry creatures are precious.) Unfortunately, just as my sons were going to make me a fresh batch of hummus, I got a belly virus that my son Aryeh had a few days ago. Sigh.  Still, I am so thrilled that one of my favorite foods has a day of her own!!! YES!!! I will wait for a few days before I eat hummus, but I am patient.  🙂

Every step of my day has been beautiful. Even when I needed to spend $268 on my car, my mechanic saved me from spending a ton more on a hitch could have lead to blowing out my transmission if I hauled a big U-HAUL. So, life really is good!

Today included networking opportunities with colleagues, loving exchanges with friends, and took a long walk with my son.

So while I could be lamenting about bills, a belly ache, or the state of politics everywhere, I choose to note them, consider them, and allow the good of my days to flow. I am always considering the plight of so much in the world, but that doesn’t mean I can choose to make the best of my life.

In My Journey Towards Wholeness, I want to remember that I am living on a long and winding road, may I see the light and remember to find the moments worthy of gratitude.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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