Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘joan didion’

Deep breath.

Sharing my story takes a lot of deep breaths and the ability to dig deep so that my experiences may have a purpose. Perhaps I can heal myself from some of my pain and perhaps I can help someone else to realize they can do hard things too.

When I dig deep, I am doing the spiritual work that allows me to emerge as more whole. My writing nurtures me through the narrow pathways and towards my freedom.  My writing opens doors so that I can walk through them. And on a good day, my writing has the power to make a difference to others by inspiring others to face their own narrow places. Even though many of us feel alone, we usually aren’t.

“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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I always believed that I would be nothing like my mother. My mother was too sick and violent to nurture me. Mental illness and substance abuse ravaged her life from my earliest memories.  A long time ago I learned that substance abuse tends to run in families. And in my case, it seems to have run deep. My mother is not the only close relative I have who suffered with crippling addiction.

My family history has always lead me to monitor my drinking.  If I saw myself starting to binge drink, I would simply stop until I could resume drinking more responsibly. I started this behavior as far back as when I was a teenager.

If I am really honest with myself, I’ve always known that I have the propensity towards addiction. From the time I was 11 years old, I started smoking and ingesting any drug I could get my hands on. It was easy for me to access the drugs back then because I looked older and my father was in the record business. Opportunities for getting high surrounded me at every turn. And since I was never someone to back down from a chance to disconnect from the dark realities of my life, I was in good shape.

This lasted until I was nearly 17 years old when I woke up and realized that if I didn’t stop myself, I would become my mother. I am not sure how I had the will to stop, but I did. In part, I tried Alcoholics Anonymous along with some therapy. In the end though, I found new ways to distract myself from life. I took up running, I wrote, I did a little art, and I never looked back.

Drinking was another story.

Over the years, I have watched myself navigate some really tough times when I turned to drinking. Life’s roller coasters were hard to endure at times.  Besides the “normal” headaches of living, I experienced nine miscarriages, a horrific birth experience that lead my first child to the NICU, followed by other serious illness for my sons, a rocky marriage, a dying father, multiple broken hearts, and perhaps the hardest one of all, facing the demons of my childhood. I never drank when I was in a good place. But as soon as life challenged me, I turned to the only thing that could calm me – alcohol. Alcohol gave me a place to go so that I could place a blanket or a shroud of darkness over my intense sadness.

And it worked. Until. . .

One day, I realized that I couldn’t stop.  It started when my doctor made an unwanted diagnosis and told me that I should only drink occasionally and not more than a glass and a half of alcohol at a time. I couldn’t wrap my head around that concept. What is occasionally? And what is a glass and a half? I loved whiskey, so what would a glass and half be? Five shots, maybe six . . . I wasn’t a wine drinker, although I did like the taste of good wine. But when I wanted to numb my feeling, it was whiskey or vodka that I turned to.

Love of truth puts you on the spot.
~Naropa Institute motto

Up to that moment in time, I had always been able to make any necessary lifestyle or dietary changes when advised by a doctor or other healthcare practitioner.  Previously I had three major diet changes. The first was when my then ENT realized that sodium was exacerbating my hearing loss. The second was when I stopped eating regular breads, cakes, and pastas when I found I had celiac disease. And third, was giving up sodas when my nephrologist informed me that sodas were probably the cause for my horrible UTIs, otherwise known as urinary tract infections.  In each of the three occasions, I was given the advice and simply stopped. And except for soda, I didn’t look back. And even now,  I am back on track when it comes to drinking soda.

Before the doctor told me not to drink, I was absolutely AWESOME at navigating what I call non-negotiables in my life.  I had always been able to quickly make the necessary lifestyle changes that would ultimately lead to healthy transformation for me.

When we take an honest and fierce inventory of ourselves, it isn’t too hard to discern truth. If I had never been significantly challenged by removing gluten, sodas, and sodium rich foods from my diet, why was I unable to occasionally drink alcohol.

amazing sunrise

Sunrise in Topsail, NC courtesy of Wendy Delson

Wham!!!!! I woke up!

I couldn’t stop because I had become the nightmare I feared most. I had become a drunk like my mother. OUCH!

But here is the good news, I am not my mother. Almost as soon as I realized I was out of control, I called three of my beloveds and shared that I was quite literally stuck in the deep end and unable to swim; I was drowning. The more I drank, the more I wanted out of this life.  The other good news is that I didn’t go as far as to make a plan. I just wanted my emotional pain to go away.

With the help of these three beautiful souls, I was able to move forward. The first two were Ricky and Eudice, my brother and sister-in-law. My brother got the first call a couple weeks before I understood the full picture of what alcohol was doing to me. He was the person I called when I simply wanted out of life. He listened and I knew I wasn’t alone. A couple of weeks later, I reached out to my sister-in-law who gifted me with her wisdom; she reminded me that my self-awareness was a gift and that I could do hard things. AND finally, I reached out to my beloved friend Joseph who met me at a coffeehouse and without judgement held space for me to share my brokenness; he then offered to take me to my first AA meeting in decades.

As I sat in that first meeting, I was aware that I was in the right place. I left the meeting knowing I had to stop drinking, but not yet willing to do the work to get there. So two weeks later, I started drinking again. For two evenings in a row, I was back to my old ways of drinking late into the evening and then being 100% functional in my daily life. No one, except my sons knew that the only way I could quiet my sense of overwhelm was with multiple stiff drinks throughout every evening.

On the second morning after my drinking binge, I understood that I needed help. My health depended on me to stop drinking.  So, I did what I had to do, I reached out to my friend Joseph and I started going to meetings as much as possible. It was a few weeks before I understood that I was an alcoholic. Initially, I told myself that as soon as I learned to navigate anxiety, I would be able to drink without being excessive. But today, I know better. I am an alcoholic.

While drinking never got in the way of my actual work or functioning, it did impact my life. As the years wore on, I couldn’t quiet my mind at the end of a tough evening unless I downed a few shots. And whenever I was away at a training or retreat, I was one of the people that drank all night long and into the early morning hours. I did this because I didn’t have to be any place until morning. I loved the sweetness of those nights.

Today I am doing the work I need to do. I am sober with the help of AA and all it offers.  Plus I am surrounded by loved ones who are holding space for me to show up as myself. And through it all, I am learning that I don’t have to hide behind a mask, I can be me with all my intensity and rawness.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Read Full Post »

“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

Writing is how I dance with the world around me. Through writing I navigate my deepest pain and my most radiant joy; I process my unrelenting tears and my heartfelt laughter too. And with each strike of the keyboard or stroke of a pen, I find my true rhythm and my soul.

As my younger son expresses so well, “Ima (Mommy), if you aren’t writing, you aren’t in a good place.” Dovi has been reflecting this truth to me since he was about 6 years old and 15 years later, he is still the one to who reminds me that as long as I am writing I am probably exactly where I need to be.

MY MOTTO

Poem by me; AWESOME & one-of-a-kind pen created by Steven Clark!!

Lately, I have been struggling to write freely which has left me at a loss. Since writing is how I process the world I live in, it means that I am wrestling with my life and allowing myself to experience some very deep feelings – not all painful either. I am someone who is always on the path – navigating, seeking, and simply being.

In this moment, there are two significant challenges that I am facing around my writing.

  1. After 8.5 years, I am facing the ending of a relationship that I thought could last forever. How stupid considering the father of my children is no longer my husband and barely my friend. Although, I am happy to say that that may be changing. While I know that this man is not meant to be my partner, I truly believed our connection would last as lovers and friends. As this man and I are building a friendship, I am aware that if I spoke from the deepest part of my heart all the time, I would crumble and/or I would never be able to find peace with the man that I am still hoping will be my life-long friend.
    Since I can’t have the fullness of what I want, I am faced with learning to silence my voice. AND to be honest, that comes at a cost. My writing around him is pathetic. I am afraid that my honesty would close the door to our friendship, so instead I have become an awkward. Whether or not he registers this is irrelevant, it is what I am feeling. And words have power so until now, I have been holding back even when I simply journal.

    My work is to trust my ex-lover knowing that we love each other deeply and we are emerging in a new and very different place. In the meantime, I have to keep putting salve on the wounds of my heart and that means I better go back to my journaling practice.

  2. As a community leader, I am often forced to face the insight of everyone that reads my blogs, my Facebook posts, my emails, etc. While that is the case for everyone, I am struggling. Even though I know that everyone reads my words through their own eyes, I am also so very tired of how people struggle with my transparency. I love being able to openly explore the world as I do.

    I am a writer who thrives by living out loud. I don’t want to be silenced in order to accommodate how other’s walk in the world. I have been silenced throughout so much of my life. I have found myself wearing masks to hide my beautiful face or to protect my loved ones. The good news is that my loved ones can handle me being exactly who I am and so can I; writing is how I embrace authenticity-always!

    I am so very tired of how people put ‘their stuff’ on me. And yet I know that while so many only find the darkness, others reflect the light. The challenge is navigating those that only focus on the darkness. I am so not about darkness.

    Throughout much of my life I have been silenced in various ways and for various reasons.  Ironically, it isn’t always about something difficult happening, more often than not it was simply that I didn’t know that I could speak up or that my voice mattered. For me, learning to share my voice, trusting myself to be articulate, and growing up though my writing was a process. Aren’t we all a work in progress. The more writing became a practice for me, the more I learned to value an intensity that I never knew existed. It was through that writing that I also began to adore the rawness of my spirit. I love my who I am and how I walk in the world. And it was through my writing that I was able to reach this place.

Writing is a sacred act that needs to nurtured daily if not more. I am committing to journaling daily, blogging weekly, and writing letters whenever I can.  If I want to be grounded in life and soar with each breath, I have to put pen to paper and fingers to keys.

Writing,
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul:
Is what makes me whole.

Looks like I may have some work to do so that I can honor my spirit a little more each day.

Love, light, & blessings,
Chava

 

Read Full Post »

Prologue:

Over the coming period of time, I will share how I use writing to quiet my mind, to navigate darkness, to center my spirit, and to propel myself forward.  As Joan Didion says,

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.”

For various reasons, I often feel silenced. This is not working for me any longer. People have every right to interpret my words in any way they want. Take what touches you and move forward as you wish. But here is one thing that you, the reader, should know – Once I release my words into the universe, they have come to do what they were meant to do.

While I share my writing unapologetically, I also write because I have no choice, it is how I am best able to walk in the world.

I am EnoughWriting,
th
e song of my heart;
th
e meaning of my mind;
the 
feeling of my soul;
I
s what makes me One.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 The last few couple of months have stretched me and inspired me to see my reflection in ways that surprised me. I am facing new fears in very direct ways and having the honesty that I need to move forward.

 If you asked me what am I most afraid of in my life? I would have a really hard time answering you. You see, I struggle with overwhelming vulnerability at times and yet, I always emerge. I have a way of doing the dance of life that allows me to navigate even when I feel like I am suffocating.

Recently, I have faced loss and heartbreak, I have also navigated loneliness more honestly than ever before. And I have started spiritual work that forces me to really look at myself in the mirror. Admitting vulnerability can be transformative or crippling. I am shooting for transformative. I am reaching for the stars and moving, always moving, forward. I am not sure that I have a choice.

When I allow myself to go there, darkness seems be a little too present in my life these days (and nights too). So much so that I have wondered, ‘How did I ever think I should change my last name, Gal-Or, or wave of light?’ I must have been a fool. And then I realize that I have to stop then negative self-talk and own what I fear most in my life. I am so afraid that  I am afraid that I will never be enough, do enough to make the world a better place, or be loved enough because I am not worthy enough.

Quieting that ridiculous inner voice and actively engaging in the world as I do should be easier than it is. And yet, I have to consciously decide to:

  • breathe deeply
  • read and listen to inspirational people
  • write and then write some more
  • laugh as much as possible
  • chant
  • walk and keep walking
  • take time to connect with those I adore (especially my sons, my animals, and my closest friends)
  • play
  • always embrace my vocations, my job and my new nonprofit – Door l’Door). I am so blessed to so what I love.
  • have family dinners
  • listen to music that lifts me up

Nurturing my spirit takes so much work and doing the above soul work is the only way I know to come to a place of knowing/believing that I may actually be enough.

While taking care of myself means remembering to do what I need to do, it is also important to release that which doesn’t serve me any longer.  This is profoundly sad to me and so important too. By letting go of what doesn’t work, I make space for the infinite possibilities that surround me. With an open door, new opportunities abound.

Yes, life is hard, but I don’t have to make it any harder than it is. As long as I remember:

Rising above my fears is not an option. I am enough. I got this!!

With that in mind, I want to share this AMAZING and inspirational music video called Rise by Mikey Pauker. If you haven’t heard it or even if you have, listen and then listen again. (link below)

May we all face our vulnerabilities and do the work of growing.

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8l6KS23LKk

 

 

Read Full Post »

Prologue:
Over the coming period of time, I will share how I use writing to quiet my mind, to navigate darkness, to center my spirit, and to propel myself forward.  As Joan Didion says:

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.”

For various reasons, I often feel silenced. This is not working for me any longer. People have every right to interpret my words in any way they want. Take what touches you and move forward as you wish. But here is one thing that you, the reader, should know – Once I release my words into the universe, they have come to do what they were meant to do.

While I share my writing unapologetically, I also write because I have no choice, it is how I am best able to walk in the world.

Writing,
the song of my heart;
t
he meaning of my mind;
t
he feeling of my soul;
Is what makes me One.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Toe in Water February 2018
The only journey is the one within. 

~ Rainer Maria Rilke 

I feel with my entire being.

Every fiber of my body navigates wherever I am in any given moment. My mind, my heart, and my soul are interconnected.

In this moment, I am grappling with loss, darkness, and transformation. I am navigating with an open spirit and with the realization that I am doing exactly what I need to do.

This journey called life is full of moving parts. I don’t think I am alone when I say we maneuver as we need to, we find center, and then we find a sinkhole (sometimes). If we are blessed, we resume the cycle again and again. And if we are really fortunate, the sinkhole doesn’t always have to be so dramatic. Sometimes the sinkhole may feel overwhelming under our feet, but in reality it simply includes peaks and valleys over the course of life.

This past week, I realized that more than anything in my life right now, I crave the feel of holy or sacred ground under my feet. I know this is lofty, but I don’t have time for anything less. My heart is too full and my spirit is too aware. So when reality hits and holy ground is nowhere to be found, I am profoundly aware that I have to believe that what I am doing involves sacred connections or simply working towards doing tikkun olam, repairing the world, with the most godliness of intentions.

Join me as I actively dip my toes into water and open the window to my soul.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Read Full Post »

MY MOTTO

Poem by me; AWESOME & one-of-a-kind pen created by Steven Clark!!

Writing is the only way I know to fully unveil my soul, to figure out my truth, and to be the most authentic that I can be.  I’ve known this since the beginning of time. When I was a young girl, I used to dream of being a writer; in fact, I still do. More than anything in the world, I have always wanted a small writing cabin in the mountains and near water to hide and write.

Just the act of writing creates a cocoon for me to rest, to create, and then to ultimately fly. My younger son, Dovi, has been known to remind me that my actions prove that I am not taking the time I need to write. You see, when I don’t write, that means I have gone down a slippery slope and that I may be enveloped by darkness.

This morning, I woke up with a strong need to simply share my most inner thoughts with a friend. They weren’t the most comfortable thoughts to share, but they were spoken from the deepest part of my soul. That’s the only way I can write.

And then I looked at last night’s blog and realized that it came out wrong even though it came from my heart. I took some time to edit it this morning. I love being able to edit what I write. Since I don’t always think I am articulate, I am often frustrated that I can’t edit what I have said; once my words go out into the universe, that’s where they remain.  I guess the same can be said for when you hit send on your computer. Once anything is read or heard, it’s out there.

Yet, for me, once I write from the deepest part of my soul, my spirit is cleansed and I feel more whole. I know that this doesn’t always leave the reader of my notes or my blogs feeling good. But in the words of Joan Didion,

“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.”

Once I release my heart into the world through writing, I am usually able to find an inner peace that wasn’t there before I spoke my piece.

Writing, 
the song of my heart,
the meaning of my mind,
the feeling of my soul, 
Is what makes me whole!

(Note: I wrote these words in one of the worst moments of my life. At the time, I was 14 years old and I had just experienced a fear like no other. And yes, writing is how I navigated then and I still do that today.)

With love, light, hope, and blessings,
Chava

Read Full Post »

“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

Shift happens. One day you wake up and you realize that your world is changing and you have a choice for how you will navigate the journey. Will you do it with open arms or will you fight what may ultimately be the inevitable? My guess is that throughout my life, I am not alone in that I have probably done both options and variations in the middle.

While I am unsure of exactly where I am going now. . .metaphorically speaking, I am certain that my health journey will involve my body, mind, and soul in ways that are developing as I go. The intensity that is flowing through my body and soul right now is beautiful, harsh, and a little scary too.

What keeps coming up for me as I move through what I call Post Hurricane Harvey is that life is fragile and sometimes fleeting; I know that I have yet to impact the world in a way that works for me. I am not sure when I began to see my presence as insignificant, but I am so aware that I have more holy work to do. And that if I don’t operate with more intention, I will spend my life standing still or riding waves that take me nowhere. OK, let’s get real, I will never ride a wave, at least not via surf or body board. 🙂

In truth, this transitioning is rolling fast and furious since Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Houston, but it started in March when walking and functioning felt nearly impossible. My body was telling me what my mind wasn’t willing to acknowledge. I wasn’t living according to my values. I wasn’t eating right, moving enough, or nurturing my spiritual journey in healthy ways. This led to back surgery followed by 6 weeks of intense healing which is continuing to this day.

In order to thrive, I have to not only have values, but live according to them. That means breathing a little deeper, moving a little more, being intentional in how I spend my time, and listening to the quiet chatter that never stops. Funny that this is coming to me as I am (again) home – this time with a respiratory infection that hasn’t let up in three weeks, in fact it has gotten worse until today. I do believe that healing can happen with more ease when you take care of yourself better and for me that means opening my eyes and really seeing what I need to see; it also means that I need to rest/sleep more, sit quietly, and write from heart. And as soon as I can catch my breath, I need to move my body.

BreatheBreathing has become a metaphor for this journey.

Inhaling Life by writing, moving, dreaming and healing.

Exhaling Life by releasing all that doesn’t serve my essence.

All is for good!

Yesterday, I received an email that supported what has become a driving force for me. People. Touching their lives by being present and supporting them in their life’s journeys. At this moment, I seem to be able to touch people’s lives simply by giving them a mezuzah and supporting them as they navigate loss or devastation of home.  A family member of a clergy leader in Santa Rosa reached out to me and said that she wants to do something for the thirty families that lost their homes as they were incinerated to the ground by the wild fires that scorched their homes this month. Looks like I have more mezuzah scrolls to collect, for more info https://door-ldoor.blogspot.com.

My heart holds a lot of pain for the loss that is facing our world and specifically the United States at this moment. The disaster in the White House, natural disasters that are happening at break-necking speeds, and the very troubling human dynamics that are eroding our climate. This doesn’t mind that I am not also devastated by the rest of the world – I am.

My job is to remain present within my own beautiful world. I am blessed with a beautiful family and precious friends. I am healing from what ails me. I am finding my life’s purpose. And I am beginning to touch lives that extend past my own little world. And through it all, I am finding the time to honor my body, my mind, and my soul by choosing life by doing whatever I need to do to best human being I can be.

I got this!!! Will you join me? If so, how?

Read Full Post »

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

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »