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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

A friend of mine just send me a quote that resonated to the deepest part of my soul.

The only way you can endure your pain is to let it be painful.
~Shunryu Suzuki , Zen monk and teacher
who helped popularize Zen Buddhism 

After over 11 weeks of pain and now healing, I have a new insight into the rhythm of life. The challenge of dealing with excruciating pain gave me the opportunity to reflect on not only myself, but on the larger wold.

Almost nothing about life is simple or easy; sometimes it is simply hard or feels like too much.

While March’s hell took over my ability to function and forced me to ground myself differently than I ever have, the sadness that permeated my being over the ensuing weeks may have been worse in many ways. With too much time on my hands and an inability to focus on writing, reading, loved ones, or work, I went towards darkness. Sometimes it was as if I was in a very long tunnel; the only problem was that I couldn’t see the other end of the tunnel; I couldn’t see the light.

Even with my beautiful sons, sweet phone calls from loved ones, and a couple of visitors, I felt more alone than I may have felt since my early years. My heart and soul ached with deep loneliness and the world’s politics made me feel hopeless. Even as my body healed, I understood that I was grieving deeply. I was grieving from the lost dreams – personally and globally. With each passing day, the daily beatings left me battered and bruised and sometimes even hyperventilating.

What I learned during the darkest moments was that I couldn’t hide from my pain. There was no cocoon big enough to hold me and no one there to hear the depths of my pain. Although my beautiful sister-in-law reached out to me daily, I wasn’t able to be consoled; I also chose to only share about the physical pain. I believed and still believe that the depth of what I was feeling was too much to put on any one person’s shoulders. So instead, I allowed me the time and space to go through it.

The good news is that I have always found light in the darkness and as the sparks have begun to make room for more and more light, I have slowly become more grounded. With each passing day, calmness emerges and light shines a little more brightly; not only my body is healing, but so is my soul.

The single most valuable tool for healing came from giving my pain a voice. As we all know, it is impossible to sweep boulders under a carpet. I’ve tried, but to no avail. So with perseverance, I started naming my fears and addressing my pain by actively allowing myself the room to feel and even to cry before trying to move mountains.

Even as I share a taste of what was weighing me down, know that I am aware that all is intertwined with each other and nothing stands on it’s own even if it may appear that it does. There are many parts of life’s puzzle that impact each of us; I am no different.

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.

Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.

All things connect.
~Chief Seattle

“My back hurts!!!!
The physical pain may have been hurled at me the way that bombers explode their targeted locations with precision, but finding the right doctors and medications put me on a healing journey. Surgery probably saved my ability to walk and now physical therapy, yoga, and losing weight will move me to an even better place. My health journey has had horrific moments, but loving practitioners and doctors have made each passing day less painful.

Core Belief Tree June 2017.FinalOnce I started finding ways to navigate the pain, I began to see that my back’s pain was in part due to my need to strengthen my core and better align my soul with my roots (values) while working towards what I really want in my life (the fruits of my labor). I needed and still need to become a healthier and stronger me so that ‘real’ healing can occur on every level. That meant and still means that in order to be healthy I need to better engage with my root values so that my core can thrive. And only through pollination will blossoms sprout fruit. This realization lead me to understand that I had to navigate a lot of moving parts in order to blossom and ultimately see the fruits of my labor. This light bulb moment followed a fabulous online class art class that I took before surgery.

The vision above is what emerged. I have drawn several different versions of this tree and each one brings more clarity.

What the ‘F’ am I going to do? I never have enough money!
As a Jewish Educator and a single mother, money has often been a challenge for me. I have always faced without hesitation and mostly with a positive attitude. It is what it is. Yet. . . .illness, medical bills, and reality got to me during much of my recovery. Still, I tried to seek positive solutions to overwhelming fear.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the following question on Facebook, “How are you becoming fiscally more socially responsible?” The first response came from someone who believed that this question can only be asked of people that have a means. Initially, I I was asking that question because I literally don’t have enough money to thrive, but yet I really do have what I need-mostly. On most months, I can prioritize, but it is really tight. And getting sick did nothing to make it easier.

My tight budget got tight enough to put me over the edge. With an inability to drive, my sons had to start taking Uber (no good transit system here), I had to buy medications and more medications, I had to meet a deductible that was outside of anything I could afford, and I had to pay co-pays for every doctor’s appointment. And when I needed to go to the ER because I was fighting an infection, I opted out of going; I just didn’t have the mandatory $400 for an ER visit. (Fortunately, my decision to wait until morning worked out just fine.) The good news is that I had a credit card or two; the bad news is that I used them. A tax refund paid off most of the debt and this month, I finished paying off the rest except that left me with barely enough to navigate this month.

Even as I write about my realities, I am so grateful that this is simply a ‘first world problem’. I profoundly aware of how fortunate I really am; I am always ok. I am blessed that one of my sons works and gives nearly every penny towards our household. And while things are tight, I always make it and I always have. Mostly. Are things easy? No. Do I waste much money? Sometimes. . .still I am careful. Was I fortunate enough to navigate the hundreds of dollars that illness has thrown in my direction? Yes. In my illness, I figured out how to pay down payments for surgery, medications, other unexpected expenses.

Regardless of the monthly medical expenses, the doctors and hospital still need to be paid, I am making it and even starting to hope I will have a solid savings plan in place by September if not sooner.  I have food on the table, an ability to cook in a sweet little kitchen, a beautiful home with an amazing landlord, a car (with car payments), and a lovely neighborhood. Basically, I really do have most of what I need/want. I have a beautiful life.

Back to my Facebook question, I believe that everyone of us can make socially conscious financial decisions. Are you directly supporting sweatshops or purchasing your clothing through thrift shops and clothing swaps?  Do you buy chocolate bars at dirt cheap prices or limit yourself to a fair-trade chocolate bar every few months? Are you using the dryer or hanging your clothing on a clothesline or drying rack? When you go to grocery stores or any store, do you use paper or plastic? Perhaps you simply bring your own bags; I know I do. While I am far from perfect, I am trying to make socially conscious decisions at every opportunity and if I am really thoughtful, I am also saving money with each decision.

This month, I am fixated on three very real realities, I want to purchase a compost, I need to put off going to a dentist for a little bit longer, and I am sad that I can’t make all the donations that I want to make. There are a lot of beautiful nonprofits doing amazing work. Let me know if you’d like to give to any my favorite organization; I definitely have a bunch I could suggest. Some of my deepest sadness comes from the fact that I am not giving as I would like or doing enough. But I do know that I am doing the best that I can AND the more I learn, the more I try to make responsible and loving decisions not only for our family, but also for the greater world.

Our World Feels Like It is Falling Apart
Mother Earth is crying. Human beings are being delegitimized based on where they live, the color of their skin, their religion, their socio-economic status, their gender, and/or their sexual orientation. Add these realities to the fact that not only the United States government, the Israeli government, as well as so many other governments are filled with ill equipped leaders who are toxic at the least and seemingly fascist at the worst.

And regardless of how bad it is, I am amazed at the angels that are showing up. Whether at rallies, at organizing meetings, at the offices of elected officials, or on the street, I am meeting passionate people who want to make our world a better place. I have even been touched by elected officials who have integrity and are helping guide those that want to do whatever they can.

Healing My Body, My Mind, and My Soul
I took the weeks needed to heal not only my body, but also my mind and my soul. Admitting that the pain felt overwhelming and I felt alone was the only way to move forward. At times crying cleansed me and sometimes it paralyzed me for a moment or more, but in the end I have worked through the deepest depths of loss. I have allowed myself time to grieve and at times I am allowing myself the space to still grieve. In so many ways it feels like I have nine lives or perhaps twenty-nine lives. 🙂

Living is holy work and I am absolutely up for the task. Hineini, Here I am!

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – To remind me of the power of ‘Choosing Life’, I think back to John Denver’s song, I Want To Live. There is so much beautiful work to do! Are you with me?

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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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Chava looking at large canvas 3

Rothko Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts;             Photo Courtesy of David Cooper

Last night, I learned to listen to that quiet voice that reminded me to remain silent when what I really wanted to do was share the thoughts racing around in my head. Somehow I knew that I needed some time to reflect before expressing myself in any serious way.

Communicating is easy. At any moment, I can pick up my phone, send a quick (or lengthy) text, quickly shoot of an email, blog from my soul, shout out to my Facebook/Twitter community, or scream at my sons. I could do that, but I didn’t. At least, I did not do that last night.

Instead of going for instant gratification, I took a deep breath, a long walk, and a shot of vodka. I decided to refrain from major conversations, long involved letters, intense blogging, or even small talk. While I wrote a few quick responses on Facebook status lines, I did not pour out my heart, make any major decisions, or say something that I would later regret.

For once in my life, I (mostly) listened to that quiet voice that provided a shadow over my soul. Sometimes it is better to allow for the quiet.

When I was a little girl, my father used to loving put his hands over my ears and give a gentle squeeze. As he did, he would whisper the words, “Listen to the quiet.” I believe that act may have been the most loving act my father ever did. He knew that when I was sad, tired, sick, or struggling that I needed the cocoon of silence. I probably also needed his loving hands to remind me that I am loved.

While I don’t have my father’s hands nurturing my spirit with his gentle touch and loving words, I do have the ability to remember that sometimes, I need to listen to the quiet. And sometimes, I simply need to allow for the silence before finding and sharing my voice.

Writing is how I best communicate. If you want to know what I really feel, don’t ask me to tell you, ask me to write. Years ago, I learned:

“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

Through writing, I share the deepest part of who I am. And while I know how to use my voice, I am a much more honest writer.

So when last night’s darkness loomed, I did the only thing that made sense. I allowed for the silence, refrained from making any ‘real’ decisions, and I sat in my sadness, my frustration, and my anger. And the hardest thing that I did was refrain from writing. I didn’t send words out into the universe that could never be taken back.

At this point, you may be wondering what was feeling so heavy. Was it that one of my sons was acting out? Was it an internal struggle I am having? Was it that I have an upcoming meeting that is reminding me of my many vulnerabilities? Yes, it was all of those things. AND it was the sense of foreboding I feel with the upcoming election that was intensified by this week’s AIPAC conference. It is also the growing rift I see in the larger Jewish community. Maybe it has always been there, but in the last few years I feel the rift growing. Whether we are talking about Israel or the Jewish people, politics or immigration, human rights or the environment, each and every issue seems to create clouds over our people and the larger world too. And with each serious challenge being brought to our attention at break neck speed, the struggle is inevitable.

Last night, I did my best to take a deep breath and to listen to the silence. I chose to go inward, to cry, and to sleep for a couple of hours. It helped.

I am not sure that the world is a better place or that the elections will bring out the best in people. I do know that this morning I have a little more clarity about what I need to do today, tonight, and in the upcoming weeks, months, and years. Mostly I know that I have to sometimes trust the silence and sometimes trust my voice. And perhaps, what I need most is to:

“Step out today not seeking to be in the spotlight but seeking
for a spot to light
– be a blessing to someone.”
Bernard Kelvin Clive

 

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“It is not up to us to complete the task
(of repairing the world).
Yet neither are we free to desist.”
~Pirikei Avot 2:21

Making a difference matters to me. With every ounce of my being, I realize that taking care of not only myself, but my community and the larger world have to become the forefront of my existence.  While I have done my part, I truly believe I need to do more.

ChavaWithKippah21Nov2015

Don’t get me wrong, I know that I haven’t done nothing to make the world a better place. I have given many dogs a safe home for the remainder of their lives; I have opened my home to a homeless, pregnant woman and her toddler, as well as those that needed a place to stay for a long while; the environment and making conscious living choices have guided my every step; human rights is always being addressed in my shopping choices, my politics, and my teaching others. As much as possible, I walk the walk and I talk the talk. I’ve started a nonprofit and stood up for what I believed in.

I have also had years when I had to step back and take care of my family more than the world around me.  Those years were hard because I always felt like I wanted to do more, but that just wasn’t reality. There were years when I stood by my son’s hospital bed so that he would one day thrive again. And he did.  And the best part of that journey is that he now actively engages in the journey, as does his younger brother. We all do our best to make the world a better place.

Over the last few months, I have been settling in my new home in a new city, Houston.  As is often the case, many of us compartmentalize during transitions. I was no different.  But the last few weeks has created a sense of despair for me. Our presidential candidates have been talking about immigrants, refugees, and the Muslim people as if they were the lowest of human beings. I have hated watching victims turned into villains.

Politicians want to turn the Syrian refugees back to the brutality of their homeland.  How disgusting!!!!

Last night, as I was feeling despondent over the realities of the Syrian refugees, I received an email from MoveOn.org telling me about a local rally, Texas Stands With Syrian Refugees.

YES!!!

I couldn’t believe how driven I felt to go. Even the questionable weather didn’t matter.  Nothing could stand in the way of my desire to go to THIS rally. Over the last week, I have written letters, called politicians, but still I felt like I needed to do more and I also felt so alone with each task.

Earlier this week my older son asked me if we would do our part to help the refugees and I said ‘absolutely’. There is no question that I will help if I can figure out how.  I barely have what I need and yet I would open my home in EVERY way I could.  Our family may be struggling, but we really do have all of our needs met.

Over the last decade, I have stood up against domestic violence, Darfur, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, slave labor, and consumerism.  I have helped all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. I have also done my part to care for our environment and animals – although not enough.

But this past week pushed me over the edge. I found myself feeling such intense pain for those that need so much. Every fiber of my being was yearning to hang with people that believed as I did, people that wanted to help those in need of help.  So receiving the email talking about the rally was perfect.

In truth, yesterday’s action felt more poignant, maybe even personal, then many of the3 cultures 21Nov2015 other actions I have participated in over the years.

In case you are wondering why. . . . Back in the late 1920’s or early 30’s, my father’s family escaped from Kiev. Pogroms could have crippled his family, but they never actually succeeded. Instead my grandfather Yidel, his wife Esther, and their two children Jack and Phil made it to Canada where they survived and even thrived having two more children, my father-Morry and his little brother Sid. Had they not escaped, they would have potentially died or suffered great losses. While my father’s immediate family survived, there were many people that were left behind and some of those were killed because they did not have the ability to reach freedom.  As a matter of fact, there is no that we know of who was left behind or that has survived to this day. Between the pogroms and the Holocaust, the only family that survived were the ones that got away.

To make it simple, my brother and I are alive today because my father’s family got away.  Had my grandfather stayed in Kiev, my brother and I would never have been born.

Chava with Federico Salas-Isnardi and Donna Olson-Salas. 21Nov2015

From left to right, Donna Olson- Salas and Federico Salas-Isnardi with me at Texas Stands With Syrian Refugees Rally

What I am learning about our my socially active journey is that none of us could do what we do alone. Today, I connected with passionate people who were willing to do their part to make a difference. None of us are islands. With the political climate what it is today, I am so grateful for the new friends and my friends all over the globe that are doing their part.

“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

A few years ago, I created a nonprofit called My Second Foundation for adult survivors (or what I call thrivers) of childhood trauma. What I learned during the initial process of creating my organization is that you need a village. While I am only now starting to consider how to fully make my nonprofit thrive, I have learned that we all need to help those that are struggling. There is nothing acceptable about anyone suffering from violence of any type or poor health due to poverty.  We have enough resources in this world to keep people safe, so we all need to do our part.  It really is not optional.

And as for me, I am also choosing to do whatever I can to make sure that the human race does not perpetuate another genocide if at all possible. Haven’t there been enough?

Yesterday’s action seemed so simple, but with our current political climate and the ‘limited’ thinking of many, our village needs to stand firm and do WHATEVER we can to save a life. And let’s make sure there is NO QUESTION!

STAY LOUD. STAY CLEAR….REFUGEES ARE WELCOME HERE!

All lives matter!

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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 ― 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 ― 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 ― three medium, wailing blasts ― is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart ― 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 ― 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 ― 9 quick blasts in short succession ― 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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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 26 Elul or 4 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!

~ ~ ~

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of  difference you want to make.”
Jane Goodall
Primatologist, Anthropologist, and U.N. Messenger of Peace

~ ~ ~

(Note: Before you read this blog entry, know that I am fairly hard on myself.  I believe that everything I do in life can impact the world for good and for bad.  Every interaction I have with people or the environment can make a difference.  So I try to walk in the world knowing that I need to be mindful at all times.  And since I am being brutally honest, I try to surround myself with people that embody conscious living as they walk in the world.  I want to connect with people that believe in their power and actively want to make a difference for good.)

Everything we do matters.

AND we cannot sustain equal intensity in all areas of our lives.  Sometimes we have to decide what focuses we will have.  My hope is that each of us decide on 3-5 actions that can impact the world in positive ways.   And while I am at it, let me throw out the idea that living positively needs to begin at home.

Each of us will define home according to our own uniqueness.  For some of us, it is simply our own little family unit; for others, it could be their spiritual community; and for others, it could be their neighborhood, their community, their spiritual community, their ethnic group.. . .the list can go on and on.

Take a moment and consider what you can do in your life to make the world a little bit healthier than it currently is.  Below I will share a few things on my family’s list.

  1. Take a moment to smile or have a sweet verbal exchange with nearly everyone I meet.
  2. Make time for the people and things that jazz you.
  3. Always consider your carbon footprint.
  4. Conscious eating and shopping – organics, local, human rights, fair-trade
  5. Adopt rescue animals
  6. Recycle, Reuse – Try to obtain and pass on as much as we can at thrift shops, free cycle, Craig’s List, friends, etc.
  7. Share your views/listen to others’ views
  8. Listen to music that inspires living positively
  9. Connect with people who share our beliefs/values – interest groups (political, environmental, social, spiritual, human rights, etc.)
  10. Spread light

In truth, I am in the midst of thinking what I need to focus on so that I can make a positive impact in our world.  I am fortunate that I can do a ton, but I do believe it is time to focus a little more heavily in one area of my life.  I will let you know once I decide.

How about you? “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of  difference you want to make.”

With blessings & light,
Chava

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Note to Seeing the Door series:                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Wherever you go, possibilities surround you! By opening both your eyes and your heart, a door will always appear.

Have you ever noticed how many different types of doors exist in the world?  Nearly each and every door leads to an opportunity.  Some doors are physical; other doors are metaphoric.  All doors lead to opportunity.  

Know your non-negotiables and honor them.

Over the years I have learned to walk alone.  I am not a loner, but I do value following the quiet voice that guides me without the interference of others ‘enlightening my sorry soul’.  In truth, most of the people I have crossed paths with really do enlighten me and help me gain a better understanding of whatever issue embodies my mind at any given minute.  Just the same, I have come to appreciate the learning I do from others while synthesizing the information silently.  Ultimately, I have to think for myself and come to my own conclusions.

Of course, many of the issues that encompass my brain don’t allow for my silence (even if I wish I could be silent).  Some of the issues I consider on a daily/weekly basis include:

  • Modern day slavery
  • Creating a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine
  • Honoring children (educationally and spiritually)
  • Giving a voice to those that have experienced trauma
  • Being innovative with Jewish education while engaging them where they are
  • Caring for the environment and thinking about our carbon footprint
  • Human rights for all (skin color, religion, sexuality, gender, etc should never be a factor)
  • So much more. . . .

In short, our guts tend to tell us what is right and what isn’t as right. When we allow the quiet (and sometimes) loud voice inside of us to guide our actions, we live with integrity. If something doesn’t feel ‘right’ to us, it probably isn’t. Listen to that voice as you walk in the world. Over the past few years, I have learned to honor myself by not doing what doesn’t feel right. If for some reason, I can’t ‘get out of something” I am in the middle of, I will as soon as I can.

When injustice surrounds you, it becomes part of you.  When you eat food or where clothing that was created by the modern day slave labor chain, you are perpetuating the  crime to humanity.  The environment matters; living as it doesn’t destroys our world.  Children are quite literally our future; it doesn’t serve us to silently standing allowing things to happen without actively trying to make a difference for good.

Over the years I have found that silence is my friend.  I don’t like bringing attention to myself all the times, but it is what I do.  While it can be difficult to go against ‘the norm’, it is also an amazing feeling to be able to share the information I have while sometimes inspiring people to learn on their own.  Only through gaining knowledge, following up with action, and ultimately sharing what you know/do is it possible to open the door that leads to a little (or a lot) of tikkun olam (repairing the world).

By listening to the quiet voice and living by the values I hold dearly, I am honoring myself. Quite honestly, if I don’t live according to my values then I have no way of thriving as a human being. While I accept that sometimes I have to do things I would prefer not to do, I still won’t cross the line for big ideological challenges.

May we honor our non-negotiables as we listen to the voice that guides us (especially if that voice is for good).

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