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Posts Tagged ‘joy’

December 2016 - looking out into water
(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5777, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-2NA)

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“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” 
~ Brené Brown*

I love fiercely; I hurt deeply; I feel joy with every fiber of my body; I am what I am.

For the most part, the outside world sees me as reasonable and grounded. Maybe I am. AND I am also extraordinarily emotional that I have to remember to breathe into any emotion.

Loving life as I do comes at a cost. Intensity and passion run through my veins. This means that those that love me (including myself) have to  navigate minefields as well as pure exhilaration. I feel with my entire being. And when I feel comfortable, I literally share my whole self.

The minefields are probably the hardest to navigate. Sometimes I wonder what the hell just exploded inside me. At the same time, I love that I can take a ‘time out’ to catch my breath and become more reasonable. While my outbursts tend to be quick, the furious nature of them aren’t easy to navigate.

When my spirit soars, it is really quite enchanting. The electrifying energy is so life affirming and contagious. I absolutely love when my positive energy touches those around me. Sometimes I wonder who feels better after these exchanges; I love that it seems to be mutual.

I don’t remember always being able to honor my feelings in this way, but I sure do feel blessed to feel comfortable enough inside of myself today.

As grateful as I am that I walk through the world as I do, I also struggle. Feeling with ever fiber of my being has a cost. Every morning, I open my eyes and have to remind myself to breathe deeply and trust in the universe. I also have to do everything I can to quiet my mind so that I can better move through the day. On most days, I do this with ease. I get up, I journal so that acknowledge the fullness of where I am, and then I embrace life with open arms and an excitement to see how my personal life will unfold.

This doesn’t mean I forget the world I live in. I never forget that Trump’s venom is sitting in the White House and Netanyahu’s government poisons Israel. I never forget that climate change may destroy our world and that human slavery is alive today. And every continent has horrific disasters that literally destroy life at every turn.

Life’s many moving parts are a reality.  I will always be aware of them and do what I can to make a positive impact while also feeling as intensely as I do. I will also forever feel grateful to my sons who accept all of me (and mostly) accept how I wear my emotions. And I have a few dear friends that are totally present for how I show up. I love that I am (mostly) loved for who I am. That’s pretty awesome considering I can’t be anyone else. 🙂

embrace my scars live my passionAs I was wrapping up this blog, I was notified by Facebook that I shared the following hope card* last year when I posted about My Morning Pages/Writings. I love how this card showed up now.

 

Accepting my own humanity as I try to navigate my many imperfections can be really daunting.  I tend to be really hard on myself especially when anger or deep sadness pour from my soul. At the same time I am embracing the fullness of who I am. I am beautifully imperfect, I am what I am. I am me.

Note:

  1. Quote was from audiobook by Brené Brown from Men, Women, and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough; 2012.
  2. Courtesy of Bone Sigh Arts and Terri St. Cloud. These Hope Cards have been a gift. Find them: https://goo.gl/uVc1lc
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A Letter to a Friend:

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

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

fb

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

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

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

With love and light,
Chava

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

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

 

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“From a certain point onward
there
is no longer any turning back.
That is the point that must be reached.”
Franz Kafka

This has been the year of trials and tribulations.  In so many ways 5775 has been a nightmare and in many more ways it has been the year that I will always remember for the many and very real blessings.

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley
Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise always came, despite the floods that seemed to leave me profoundly dark and sometimes fearing for how I would navigate life.

This was the year that I said to good-bye to so many chapters of my life. My marriage formally ended, I nearly lost my profession, and hope was nothing more than a dream. Loneliness became my friend, becoming destitute was nearly a reality, and I was forced to say good-bye to some of the most beloved souls within my life.

5775 was a nightmare, it was a dark tunnel.  AND within the dark tunnel, I found some of the most amazing sparks of light.

Financial Challenges

My position as a Jewish educator ended abruptly, leaving me void of income and the finances to move forward. Yet doors opened up and my family never starved.

Whenever I feared that I would be destitute, jobs came out of nowhere.  Jobs emerged because my friends found positions for me. When my career went half-time and then ended, care-giving allowed me to care for people that were sometimes at the end of their lives, but always challenged by life circumstances. Physical pain was part of their every move; emotional challenges were inevitable. My kindness, my gentleness, and my strength allowed some beautiful souls to live with as much dignity as possible; I made a difference.

And when care-giving couldn’t sustain me any longer, so many friends afforded me the possibility to survive and ultimately thrive. While I feared survival, I never really had to a reason to worry. Everything I needed to survive was available to my family. A friend gave me a home to live in for six months, beloved friends and family gave us what we needed to move and survive until I could start working, at every turn positions allowed our family to have exactly what we needed.  And just as I was getting ready to sustain myself on hourly wages, and another friend nudged me to apply for the position that lead me to be exactly where I am supposed to be at this time. As tears run down my face, I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be in Houston with an amazing community including co-workers that fill my life with joy.

I love forever. 

And this year couldn’t protect me from the pain of loss. I did have to say good-bye or let go of what could no longer be part of my life.

After years of separation, my marriage formally ended. For now, I can share that when I married nearly 26 years ago, I didn’t believe that my marriage could end in any way other than death. It did end and while I have had years to get used to what that ending meant, it is still profoundly sad.

When I was forced to say good-bye to our beloved Shachar, my sweet puppy. I was comforted by the belief that my family gave her enormous love in the year that we had her. Her abused spirit ended too early, but for one year she was treated with the love that was part of our every interaction, even the ending of her life. And as I was struggling for our family’s loss and some very physical pain, Jennifer and David showed up. They didn’t hesitate to come to Aryeh and I who were buckets of tears and pain. They just held us metaphorically and helped us move forward.

Finally, I had to let go of my best friend, a person who I thought would be in my life forever. For reasons that are somewhat beyond my grasp. . .there are no tomorrows. Sometimes all you can say is good-bye. I only wish I had the grace to say good-bye without sharing the deep loss that was a part of me; my heart quite literally shattered as my entire being yearned to understand.  This was the year I was forced to simply let go; I was given no choice.

With each and every step, I was never alone; I was surrounded by love. My friends always showed up in some very profound ways.

This has also been the year when I faced my inability to be present for those I love. I can send love letters, I can pray and send healing energy.  But I have so many friends who are facing very real physical pain.  Their pain is deep and all I want to do is wrap my arms around them and I can’t and I may never again.  The reality that sometimes there are no tomorrows cuts like a knife. While my life has been full in all the right ways, today I don’t have the means to be more present.  And there are people that I love as deeply as I love my family, they are my family of choice. Realizing that I can not be there breaks my heart.

As I get older, I have learned that life ends, accidents happen, physical pain hurts. . .with and without warning.  When my dear friend Helen died a few years ago, I was crushed that I couldn’t be there for her family, but I couldn’t.  At the same time, I have learned the most valuable lesson possible. I have learned to love completely and to treasure what is.  Even when you lose a beloved friend or lover, what you had lives on.  That love is what made you what you are.

The World
And the world, can we talk about Israel, Black Lives Matter, Our Nation, Refugees, Climate Change. . . .the list goes on and on; my mind never shuts off.  The world is struggling and I am struggling with her. Beauty comes as I stand with so many other individuals that care. I am not alone. Regardless of what language we give to each of the issues, I am surrounded by passionate people who care and want to make a difference for good.

While I can never do enough; I am doing what I can and that has to be enough for this moment.

Finally
Moving forward means acknowledging the pain, but willingly deciding that life is worthy of swimming upstream.  Thriving is not optional. The world is precious and full of so many beautiful souls. While tomorrow is not a given, this moment is here. So to quote my ‘virtual’ friend Jeff Keni Pulver, “Live, Life, Now!”

Every morning the sun rises. Life may sometimes have painful moments, but I know that I am always surrounded by light.

5776 – Hineini, Here I am!

Onward with love,
Chava

PS – To each and every one of my friends that have been there for me – thank you! I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Honoring My Bruised and Fragile Heart

Picture by Chava

Picture by ME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Let It Flow

tears can fill the sea

After 49 years of life, I am beginning to ‘get it’.

Whatever I feel is OK, it is what I feel – it is what it is. There is no reason for me to hide my heart from those in my inner circle. While I may have to wait a little while to share the fullness of my emotions, a true loved one will support me wherever I stand.

During my younger years, I didn’t know how to express what I felt and then as I reached beyond my teens and early 20s, I struggled with my emotions.  Over the years, I slowly began to understand that I was loved and that people cared; my friends and some of my family were really ok with me sharing my feelings. But it took me years to understand the deep emotions that I felt on a daily basis. I feel intensely; it is a reality of my core being.

While initially, I learned to express myself through my writing, I did eventually grow to understand that having deep feelings was not inappropriate in any way. Throughout my late-thirties and forties, I came treasure my intensity. I learned that my voice mattered and that it was ok to share the fullness of my spirit. In truth, I believe that most of my adulthood has been blessed to be accepted for who I am.

Topsail, NC Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

Topsail, North Carolina
Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

May all of us be blessed to surround ourselves with people that really allow our feelings to go where they feel compelled to go. May we let our tears, our joy, and all of our being flow wherever it needs to go.

With love, light, and joy,
Chava

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

(Apology: Day 15 of my Omer Reflections did not happen because I took 30+ hours to play with old friends.)

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller: Western Minnesota

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller:
Western Minnesota

Life is a journey. There is no question that a certain amount of trust or perhaps faith is needed in order to navigate life in the best possible way.

Today as I was driving home from a brief visit to Baltimore, I was struck by how the below poem represented my life. I have been fortunate to surround myself with people that love me for me, that have always welcomed my friendship or sisterhood, and have met me wherever I am at any given point in time.

Whether I disappear for years or even decades, there is always space for me to re-emerge. My closest friends have been with me through serious illnesses, death, deep sadness, and loss; they have also been with me through celebration of life, intense joy, birth and rebirth.

With that in mind, I am sharing one of my most treasured poems.

blessing the boats

(at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back      may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

by Lucille Clifton

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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“Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.
Quote by: Wendell Berry

(Prologue: I have grown to love life and tire of people wondering if I am for real.  I am. I am human, but I am a thriver. Regardless of what is tossed my way, I will be ok. Always. I have a choice on how to move forward and I choose . . .)

Life happens.

With every breath, I get to decide how I will emerge and how I will face the holy world that I have and will continue to experience.

Struggles have been a part of my life – never by choice. In response, I have made a conscious decision to NEVER allow them to define who I am.  The trouble is that there are some people see my life as really hard and need to focus on just that. I see my life quite differently – full and blessed. The gifts have come in all shapes and sizes. Each passing moment has lead to new adventures – some simply divine, others challenging, and still others painful.  Yet, regardless of what has transpired in my life, I have come to find the treasures that have made me the person I am.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a work in progress.  I have had days that leave my heart broken with endless tears falling. But those days have been far and few in between.  When I look back at the trials and tribulations that I have endured, I choose to see the beauty that is often a consequence of life’s difficulties.

Life happens.

During some of the segments of my life, I have faced a few too many arduous junctures.  Ultimately, each has led me to find inner peace, phenomenal opportunities, and many open doors.  I am who I am because I have always found light, maybe not instantly, but eventually.

The last few years have had a few challenges. I recovered from the nightmares that plagued me once my son recovered from years of serious illness, I navigated professional challenges that left me jobless, and I treaded life’s waters as a single mother. Regardless, none of it destroyed any part of me. In response, I have found that I have special friends, people that will help me in countless ways. Struggling alone has never happened for me. My amazing friends have nurtured not only me, but my precious sons too.  Whether I needed emotional support, financial help, or a hand, my friends have been there for me.

Through it all, there is a inner joy that sustains me and allows me to thrive.  When I smile, my entire body feels the reverberations; no wonder, I am drawn to feel happy. I want to share my excitement with every one I meet and sometimes I am lucky enough to do so.  I am not certain where I found the inner joy that sustains me even as I navigate tough realities, but I have.  Yay!

Creatively, I am becoming the person I want to be.  My writing soothes my soul and confronts life’s storms.  Over time, I seem to have impacted others with my words. Wow. . . how sweet is that?  And I have also taken up drawing and painting (just a little); I even have a new piece of artwork that I have been creating.  None of this would be what it is if I hadn’t experienced life in the ways I have.

Educationally, I have learned to trust myself as an educator and to push myself to make more of a difference to those that I mentor and teach.  Only once I believed in myself fully was it possible for me to create and then share my creations with others.

And spiritually, I have found my voice.  Whether I am drumming, chanting, praying, or hiking, I find that I am becoming connected with the earth in profound ways.  I have grown to love how I walk within the world.  Sometimes I find myself dancing, and moving in ways that I have never done before.  I am alive, fully alive.

Nothing has ever destroyed my spirit. Even when I have had moments that I felt broken, I emerged stronger with tools that allowed for healing of my heart, my mind, and my soul.

A long time ago, I learned that while the world is sometimes dark, my spirit is full of light.  I always have the ability to choose to see the light and if I am really honoring who I am, I can be the light.

Only when I live in the light will joy exist within me.  So, I guess I need to choose light; there is no option.

Sunset near Pupukea Hawaii; Photo coutesy of  Kathleen Kendle

Sunset near Pupukea Hawaii; Photo coutesy of Kathleen Kendle

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