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Posts Tagged ‘journey’

Over the past months, I have struggled to find balance and to quiet my spirit. Inside my soul, I could feel my body, my mind, and my soul wrestling. They were struggling with a broken heart, the feeling that I wasn’t enough in any area of my life, and with this deep seeded pain that I would always be a fat blob.  Yes my body image was in the gutter. There were hours of every day that I felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath or that my heart was shattering into too many pieces to count. Besides. . .who would even want to try counting the the pieces of my broken heart? Who would want to hold someone who has lost all roots and was crumbling to the ground?

This darkness lasted for a few very long months until I realized that slowly I was breathing a little deeper and sparks of light were finding a way into my heart. Tears stopped falling with intensity and eventually they stopped falling with any regularity at all. And then there were the mornings that I could look at myself in the mirror without cringing.

I am not sure if I can quite say what switched, but I opened my eyes a little wider, I listened to the noise around me and the quiet inside me with more awareness, and I took some time to just be where I was.

The process that I went through and that I am still navigating has become about honoring myself the best way I can by building a stronger foundation. In order to become stronger I had to process the pain and darkness that had settled inside of me.

What I have known with clarity is that there was not one thing that left me with such sadness. I feel all emotions with every fiber of my being. This means that on the days that I am unable to compartmentalize life’s many moving parts, I will drown in a sea of sorrows or simply in my own intensity.

Yes the last few months have sucked. . . completely sucked, but they also created the opportunity for me to look inward and the time to heal. Eventually the harsh realities didn’t feel so harsh and with that I began to see my roots take a firmer hold of the earth.

And that is when the real work began. . . .

Reveling in setting the foundation, the framework, the intentions.
Connecting with understanding, compassion, balance, strength and awareness.
Honoring the journey.

Reflection by: Sue Dorfman

Path by Sue Dorfman

Courtesy of photographer Sue Dorfman

Sometimes the perfect words or the perfect picture show up exactly when you need them. As I was waking up, I was looking for what I needed to do so that I could become a little stronger.

This new journey that I am on is not simple.  With a long path ahead of me, I realized that I needed to set up some boundaries for myself. This meant deep reflection:

  • What was missing from my life?
  • Does writing guide my every step? If it doesn’t, it needs to.
  • Am I doing enough to nourish and nurture my spirit?
  • Have I been creative enough?
  • Do I take time to play?
  • Am I moving in a way that feels good for my body?
  • Am I moving enough?
  • How am I choosing to fuel my body and my brain?
  • Can I do more to make this world a better place? Or what do I have to do differently so that my impact in this world is more positive?
  • Is stretching, reaching, and growing an active part of my day?

If I am really going to be the healthiest that I can be, I need to be guided by deep seeded accountability multiple times every day.

  • Am I living authentically?
  • Am I choosing to hide behind a mask that others decorate?
  • Am I being the chameleon that fits into the world as I believe others want me to?

Over the last few weeks, I began to see that I was living behind a shadow of my own making. This realization means that it is time for me to actively return to strengthening my foundation with clear intentions while using this clarity to build the body, mind, and soul I want.

The work is daunting and yet it is also profoundly rewarding too. Each day I am gaining ground and celebrating more and more successes. I am also taking responsibility for navigating my life with intention as I actively engage in putting together the puzzle pieces of my body, mind, and soul. Only through that journey will I be able to soar and better become the woman I want to be.

Join me over the coming weeks as I unveil some of the moving parts that I am navigating and myriad of ways I hope to stretch, to grow, and ultimately to heal. My hope is that as I share some of my story, I may inspire you in some small way.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: If you read to the end and if you like what I have to share, I’d love it if you would let me know by liking or commenting on my post.)

 

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“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

 

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Egypt to the Promised Land or from Slavery to Freedom. On many of these days, I will share my reflections via my blog.

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.

~ ~ ~

The days leading up to Passover are often crazy with anticipation, angst, and joy. I love Passover; this year was no different. The most exciting thing about this year is that although I felt all the angst of what needed to get done, I also felt ready. I didn’t feel the sense of overwhelm that comes with having 15 – 22 people per  seder (Passover meal). And this year seemed to be the year for health challenges to keep taking our guests. Still it doesn’t matter if I am prepping for five people or 20 people, prepping for Passover takes work.

As the holiday was approaching, I was ecstatic. . .I was in great shape. Except that I forgot one very important step. I didn’t go inward. I didn’t take the time to reflect on how Passover usually inspires me on my own growth journey. Instead, I focused on prepping my house for company and the upcoming seders.

On Thursday, all of that changed when I slipped and landed on my tailbone as a tabletop fell on my head/neck. While I felt really sore I was amazed that even this didn’t upset me too much. I was functioning at a slower rate – yes. But, I was in good shape with what I had accomplished prior to the accident and I was blessed with a couple of extra hands to help in the final day’s preparation. So I went inward, just a little bit. I allowed myself some extra time to breathe and move a little more slowly. In truth, I had no choice.

Now let’s jump ahead to the end of the seders. While I LOVED our first seder and thought our second seder was good too, I was totally wiped after the second seder and it showed. So my company told me to go to bed and they cleaned up along with my sons. Yay.

Omer - Day 2 - water

L’Chayyim – To Life!!!

At about 2 PM, I woke up and found myself in awe of where I was. For about 30 minutes, I sat up in bed and drank a lot of water and realized that I didn’t have a plan for how I was going to take my Omer Journey this year.  For me, the journey is about ridding myself of the toxins in my life and consciously deciding to move forward in a very real way.

(Note: I had signed up for a Counting the Omer to Fitness with with Rabbi Howard Cohen. So while I wasn’t 100 % reflective, I did have a fleeting thought about the journey.)

As I sat there, I was happy to be drinking my water. Isn’t drinking water part of the cleansing process? In general, I know that if I am taking the time to drink lots of plain water, I am doing some good self-care. At that moment, I was proud of myself. And then it hit me, I needed to come up with a plan for flushing some of the toxins and/or schmutz out of my life.

Within an hour of that time, I was totally releasing the toxins. In fact, for the next 15 plus hours, I was hanging out with my old friend the porcelain goddess or sometimes it was a simple trash basket. Let’s just say, I had plenty of time to release the toxins and to feel sorry for myself too.

Early in my stomach bug, I was blown away by the timing of it!! Didn’t I just say that I needed to release the toxins from my body, my mind, and my soul? As the hours wore on, I was acutely aware that my journey had begun. I had no choice, but to listen.

Approximately thirty hours since the release began, I am feeling myself on a de-cluttering mission. I want to rid my yard of unwanted weeds, overgrowth, and weight. I want to clear my closet and home of things I don’t need. I want to take time to reflect on how to make some of my friendships healthier and more vibrant than they have previously been. Finally, I want to keep what is good and let go of that which doesn’t work any longer.

And let’s not forget the Thursday’s klutzy moment, I want to move a little more slowly and breathe a little more deeply. Accidents often happen because we are trying to do too much and to do it too quickly.

The Counting of the Omer is the perfect time to go inward and do a little self-care. Leaving Egypt so that I can ultimately find the Promise Land will take some work. Basically, I get to embrace the good parts of my life by better taking care of me and releasing that which doesn’t serve me.

L’Chayyim, To Life – Time to drink a lot more water. 🙂

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Waking up
I breathe deeply to check in with my soul.
Am I alive? I mean, am I REALLY alive?
Can I move my body? Am I ready to do my ‘Dance of Emergence’?
Is my spirit ready for the day? Will today be a day for soaring, simply navigating, or crashing?

I love fully – always too fully.
Listening to the rhythm of the earth and all her inhabitants impacts me deeply
Chaos reigns
Values don’t make sense
The struggle to navigate makes breathing hard.
But then the angels appear. . .the angels always appear.

The world is challenging for someone who walks like me.
And yet,
every day I open my arms wide
reaching for the world I love
I say
Hineini
I am here to serve.

This is my journey in life.

When I give my smile or share my spirit, it is real. And when I feel grounded and safe in that connection I want it to last forever. Only it rarely does.

Over the years, I have learned that I am too intense for the world I live.  But instead of hiding behind what my gut feels, I honor myself by adhering to the words of Emile Zola, “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: “I am here to live out loud.”

This means that I show up to connect with friends, for meetings, political gatherings, or even the March For Our Lives as I did today. I show up even when I’d rather be in a quieter place. I also choose when I allow for the quiet, when I go into my own space so that I can create, daydream, or simply nurture my spirit.

Chava from behind with kippahFinding balance takes work. I say and do the things that jazz my soul, but also have the possibility of making a difference. I do this as a Jewish educator, a woman, an activist, a friend, a mother, a writer, and a  human being.

Living in the universe as I do means that I climb a lot of mountains only to stumble to keep my footing.  It also means that there are times I reach great heights and soar when I least expect it. The many moving parts of the world are relentless.

I pray with my feet as often as I can, never hiding who I am or what I believe.  At the same time, I am a seeker who chants, drums, meditates, and dreams. I am also an introvert that most people believe is an extrovert.

Actively living in the world and spending so much time navigating my work, my passions, my loved ones, and life has taken its toll. While I will keep my arms and heart open wide, I also struggle to find, to build, and to maintain sweet connections with those that consciously walk in the world. This has become a non-negotiable over the last several years.

I wasn’t always this way. In fact, I am not sure when it changed.

While I have always walked as I loved our world with all of the gifts and challenges that it brings, I used to care with a bit more detachment. And then about 20 years ago, something inside of me changed. I am not sure of the particular event or a triggered memory. But suddenly I couldn’t turn off my feelings with ease.  I wanted to learn more, do more, be more. Slowly I came to understand that I may never learn enough, do enough, be enough.

As a little girl, my mother truly believed I was limited. And as I grew, I believed that too. I hid behind good grades and a passion for learning, but I wasn’t able to absorb what was happening like other kids. I wasn’t articulate or good in math. I couldn’t remember the finer details of anything.  Over time, I learned to do the best I could do, but I wanted to do so much more. I wanted the capacity to synthesize all that I was learning into action and sharing for good.  I wanted to make a difference with my wisdom; I wanted to touch the world in huge ways.

Life took over. I learned to do what I could do. When something needed to be done, I did it. I always did what was asked of me. In my family, in my work, and in my community, I was the solid one. If you needed anything, I would show up and take care of things – and always with a smile.

Eventually, I started looking past the village that I was living. Ouch. Slowly, I dipped my toe into the larger world, the world outside myself. First, a homeless, pregnant woman with a toddler came to live with my family for nearly six months. That was the beginning of me realizing that there was so much to do. The more I learned, the more I realized that I just couldn’t do enough. EVERYTHING was calling to me – the environment, homelessness, the need to protect those that couldn’t protect themselves, and then the policies of Israel became more than I could bare to see/hear/read. Human rights, the environment, politics – everything mattered. Only I couldn’t do enough to make the world a better place. I still can’t. So I take one step and then another – knowing it is all a little too inadequate. But still, it is my job do what I can.

The last few years have been a time for learning and accepting the realities of not only my life, but the world I live. I’ve struggled to come to grips with how I walk in the world. I am blessed to be able to open my arms and do just a little for the family, community, and world that I love. I know that my smile and my warmth makes a difference – sometimes. But I also know that deep inside, I know that I am not done yet, I have more to do! I am not enough because I am not able to keep up with the world I live as I’d like. I am limited. With so much to absorb, I can’t make sense of it all.

  • How can we create a world with racial and economic equality?
  • How can the countries I love care so poorly for all of their inhabitants?
  • What can we learn from science to make our environment safer for all? Why does big business and the government continue to literally destroy the fabric or our world?
  • Guns – WTF should be done? AND what truths make sense? 17 people were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida; more are still struggling with their lives. People of color are at a disproportionately greater risk for violence – always.
  • How can our government have so many people that believe that hatred and white supremacy should be a guiding message?
  • Wasn’t our country made with immigrants? YET, all over the country, beautiful people are forced to rally and chant, “No Hate! No Fear! Immigrants are welcome here!”
  • We are so far away from taking care of the world we live in. Homelessness, veterans, domestic violence, animal cruelty, and ___________ – You fill in the blank. How can we do what we need to do in order to improve the world for our people?
  • . . . .and so much more.

With so much that needs to be done, I am not where I want to be, but the message I am hearing in my head is clear.  While I may not feel like I am enough, I am doing a little bit every day. AND on a good day, I do a lot more. Continuing the holy work of rolling up my sleeves is no option; there is still too much to do.  I may not feel like I am enough, but that doesn’t mean that I should stop doing what I am doing. And yes, I do realize that it is time for me to reframe my inner critic; I know I have some work to do.

MeFueling my spirit, I will continue on this journey. I will do what I can and eventually as I keep taking one step and then another, I will believe that I am enough.

My work, my writing, my beautiful nonprofit, and my warmth need to be my focus. So I will continue to do what I do best, wake up every morning with my arms and heart wide open. I show up. I am here. Hineini.

With love, light, hope, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: This rambling piece is following the amazing March For Our Lives which inspired me in every way, but also left me in a pool of tears. I wish their wasn’t still so much to do and yet, there are so many angels stepping up to do the work.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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Today is Day 20 of My Selfie Challenge. This is my time to look at how I walk in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bind my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it is my hope that as I take each photo, I will learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it is my time to find the beauty that is me.

~ ~ ~

I think that this Selfie Challenge was actually a little ridiculous. While I wanted to have fun and celebrate me a bit more. What I craved was to unveil myself on a much deeper level. I am sure I did that only marginally on a couple of the days.

In the end, I realized how much I have hated looking at myself and finding the beauty in me in this way. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, I am content with how I look and yet there are absolutely things that I’d like to change. Sigh. I am probably not too unique there.

Day 20Day 20 has proven to me  that I should give up trying to capture my beauty in a selfie. Sure I can do selfies sometimes, but I really don’t want to see my face everyday.

Looking good is important to me, but there is nothing about my face that changes with any regularity. I am too down-to-earth for that. And for the record, I really do prefer wearing black shirts and jeans so that takes away from making each photo different. I tried and I even succeeded some. 🙂

And yet, here is one of the hard truths of this journey. I found some beauty, but I also found a woman that has more work to do and authenticity to live. Finding a selfie I loved each day meant that I took many failures first. I learned to really hate my double-chin and excess weight. And mostly, I learned that it was the writing practice I adored.

Ok. . .so now I know. . . I need to keep writing. This is NOT a newsflash; I have been a writer since first picking up a pen or pencil. I’ve always loved writing!

What I really wanted to do is write about how I am feeling about the world, about some new and painful realizations about myself, about how I struggle to find joy and happiness or exuberance and yet even in my intensity, I really do spend a large part of my life in seeped in contentment.

And I wanted to share my views on guns, my troubled heart, Republicans, Israel, and assholes. I am fairly certain I would shock a few people more than once and not others.

Finally, I have found myself having some really significant ‘Come to Jesus moments.” That must be funny coming from a connected Jewish soul, but it is true.

Life is complicated and full of too many moving parts.

The bottom-line,, I will stick with writing and refrain from ever doing another Selfie Challenge. I will embrace the core of my being: I am a writer who was born to “live out loud”.

Hineini, Here I am!

Sending love, light, hope, and blessings. . . .I think we can all use some.

PS – I have one day left. . . I wonder what will emerge from my fingertips tomorrow.

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Introduction:

Today is Day 11 of My Selfie Challenge. This is my time to look at how I walk in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bind my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it is my hope that as I take each photo, I will learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it is my time to find the beauty that is me.

The only journey is the one within.”
~Ranier Maria Rilke

The journey within is one of the most profound treks we take.  The range of feelings and emotions can be intense. The confines of our mind have the ability to empower us to soar or to take a deep dive into despair or every emotion in the middle.

Without a doubt, I believe that life can be really messy with every gift and challenge that emerge. So with that in mind, I tried to allow for a quieter day today; I wanted to honor my life on my birthday.

My day was really not what I expected. I wanted to be outside hiking around and/or sitting in a cafe totally breathing in the smell, breathing deeply, and writing for hours. Instead I worked for a good part of the day, felt cold and achy from the cold rain at times, and connected with my family in Israel and a couple of other dear friends.  AND I sat in a chair and drank a hot cup of tumeric and ginger tea, I pulled some weeds outside with my dogs doing everything they could to distract me, and allowed for moments of quiet to settle my kinetic soul.

A good part of the day was taken up with reflection about what I want and need so that I am in the healthiest place I can be this year. What do I need to do to beautify this life I am living. I realized that I had to do a little more grounding work so that I could soar and better reach some of my long term goals.

Day 11BThe universe is ready for me. Am I ready to show up and give the world the best parts of me and the fullness of my spirit? I think I am. I am also willing to be challenged and to challenge as long as it is with good intention. Holy living is worth it!

Yes life is hard, but it is also exceedingly precious.  One of the most treasured realizations that I have from the last two days that I should have taken completely off is that I need to celebrate the moments. While I didn’t get to have hours in the woods, I took time to talk Torah and philosophy, to breathe in the scent of our puppy and snuggle with both of our dogs, and to take a couple of long walks too.

I didn’t write. . . .not until 10 PM tonight, but what I did was far better I just moved my body, my mind, and my soul in whatever way it needed to move at any given moment.

My birthday was perfect in nearly every way.  What a beautiful way to celebrate my life.

Sending love, light, and blessings . . . . .

PS: AND to make it even more special, I received nearly 250 birthday wishes from nearly every stage of my life. #GratitudeAbounds

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