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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

Initial Reflection post last night’s Houston Vigil Against Detention Camps at SW Key:

Last night, I went to an action/vigil against detention centers or what I now choose to call concentration camps. Together I joined hundreds of people in front of the SW Key Juvenile Detention Center in Houston; ironically this center is on a street that was recently renamed Emancipation Ave.

As I stood strong against these centers, I found myself wondering why more of my friends didn’t join me; I do understand some were bound by Jewish law so a Friday night or Saturday vigil is not appropriate for them, but I have been at a bunch of actions and I haven’t been seeing enough of them. If we are supposed to take care of the stranger, the widows, the orphans, the poor, why aren’t more of our faith based leaders and their congregants joining this holy work?

As the evening progressed, I watched as the police officers initially charged at the peaceful activists with their aggressive energy and a bunch of horses too. Watching them, I found myself fully grasping that they were  following orders regardless of their beliefs. Is that what many Nazis did? Follow orders without wondering the full ramifications of what they were responding to. To be clear, the officers were not cruel, they were simply ‘doing their job’ and following orders. But I wonder if they even considered that all of the protesters were feeling deep pain for what brought us to stand for hours to protest how our country is treating refugees and undocumented people.

And finally, I stood in awe of the protesters. People of all ages, backgrounds, and spiritual traditions who stood together chanting, singing, drumming, and sharing their thoughts. The vigil was grounded in values and kindness. People were coming together for love of humanity and anger about how horrific our government is treating those they deem illegal. No human is illegal!

Salas Haider and I

7/12/2019 Houston Vigil Against Detention Camps at SW Key with my beloved tribe including Donna Olson-Salas, Chava Gal-Or, Sarah Haider, Federico Salas-Isnardi  

 

 

 

Deeper Reflections: 

As a young girl, I remember questioning, ‘where were all the Germans when their beloved neighbors were being taken away?’ I also used to question how all of those Nazi soldiers could have been OK with the dehumanization of people. I am still wondering those same questions.

Today, the questions are the similar. Why aren’t more people standing up for humanity?How can the border patrol, police officers, and other ‘professionals’ who work at the Deportation Centers live with themselves? How can we have so many leaders who essentially describe refugees as vermin?

As we watch parts of our government dehumanize those seeking asylum from their own hell, I am wondering why more moral people aren’t standing up against the atrocities we hear about daily in the news? Why aren’t more people actively engaged in loving humanity?

While the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum may demand that people don’t use “Holocaust” terms to describe the current treatment of refugees, I feel certain that many of the “Detention Centers” could be better described as Concentration Camps on a good day. Children have been ripped from their families; families have been separated from their loved ones; there is a shortage of water, beds, food, and all necessities for those that are being detained.

And meanwhile, there are many loving people that are choosing to do little or nothing to help humanity. What’s wrong with this picture? LOTS!!!

A long time ago, I came to understand that I can do many things and some will be done well, some less well. Regardless of the fact that I can’t do it all, humanity always needs me to do as much as I can. That means I can love and care for my family, work for a living, have a nonprofit that helps people, write, paint, and I can still do more than one thing. Babies are in jails instead of being loved and held by their mamas and papas!  And that is not the only issue I care about; I also care about the environment, education, health care, and so much more.

And what angers me more than anything right now is that I have good friends, community members, and neighbors that would probably watch their neighbors be taken to a concentration camp before choosing to show up and defend them. What is their excuse? Work. Family. Hobby. Too much to do to take on one more thing.  Or perhaps they think they can only do one thing at a time. . .  I call BULLSHIT! And I am not talking about my friends who have loved ones who are struggling with health challenges. They need to focus on navigating health challenges. When my sons were critically ill at different times, I also stopped doing what I could to make the world a better place, but as soon as I could, I returned to showing up in the world or at least I really tried.

Young families have their own challenges too. . .I get it. AND I also understand that my own sons learned that I cooked for those who were sick, went on actions for humanity, used to volunteer/sleep at a homeless shelter one night a week throughout the late fall and winter.  My sons understood that I showed up. They also watched their father leave the house to go on volunteer calls with the Red Cross whenever disasters hit our community. Our children can handle us showing up to make the world a better place. In fact, if they see us parents caring deeply, they may even choose to show up themselves. One of mine does; the other, not yet. 

My Past Is Guiding Me:

As a child, my neighbors stood by as I suffered. They did nothing! They heard the screams; they closed the ears. I want to be better than that.

Hineini, Hear I am. Where are you?

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . 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.

 

 

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(Note: Reflecting about life and how to best move forward is what I do. One of my favorite teachers/writers, SARK, often talks about living in the “marvelous messy middle”. I think we all do that, but only some of us open the windows or doors for others to peek in. Hineini, here I am in all my rawness and passion. Hang on for the ride. If your interested, here is where this series begins.   https://lightwavejourney.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/time-to-heal-building-a-stronger-foundation/)

No one wants to be misunderstood or told that they are limited. I am no different. Most of my life I have felt the need to defend my thoughts and my feelings. But something is evolving at this point in time. I am learning – slowly – to say what I think without having to pound it metaphorically into anyone’s head. I do like to be heard, but I am becoming ok when people don’t see things my way.

Day 20

The last year has challenged me on a daily and sometimes on an hourly basis. My views on the political climate in the United States and Israel are not always on par with what others think or believe. With Trump and Netanyahu in the leadership of the two countries I profess to love, I struggle with the venom that they bring out in me. The good news is that I am blessed to have a fabulous village of people that share my beliefs. Unfortunately though, not everyone is as enlightened as we are.  :/

This has caused me some grief. Only in the last week or two have I begun to see a shift in my attitudes. I am learning to share my opinions without feeling explosive when I learn that I am not preaching to the choir. In return, I am learning to hear the views of others and usually find an ounce of wisdom if not more.

My intensity is impenetrable at times. With passion overflowing, it is hard for me to cope with how I feel. This must mean that others have found me impossible at times.

In my need for calmness, I am seeking balance in all areas of my life. I am also accepting that while I may believe that I am ‘right’, I need to take time to hear those I respect.  When people share their proofs and articles, their documentaries and diatribes, I am trying to take time to listen– really listen. And sometimes, I am even blessed to gain a new insight.

The key to me is that I automatically shut down when the name calling or nastiness begins. And I am trying to disengage with kindness or at least without being nasty too.  To be honest, a part of me believes in karma…..so I better watch myself. 😀

Over the last few days, I have found a dramatic increase in political arguments. With the tensions in Gaza being what they are, I am struggling with all of the variables only to realize that what’s happening is beyond complicated. In my devastation, I began to understand that some of my views needed to be negotiated differently which means I needed to listen more intently to views that often rubbed me the wrong way.

In truth, I am not evolving too dramatically, I am still liberal in my politics. I am, however, realizing that there are so m any narratives in this world. And if I am going to build bridges and relationships with others, I need to learn to embrace the challenging conversations with a little more openness and respect.

Relationships are complicated – always. Yet if I want to develop healthier and more beautiful connections, I need to remain conscious and mindful that what I say and how I say it makes a difference.  And I have to remain on the path to really listen to what others have to say.

Hineini, Here I am – I have a lot more work to do. I am on it!

Feel free to join me over the coming weeks as I continue to 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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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with
your one wild and precious life.”
– “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver

July - sun 1

Reflection Time Selfie

Each morning, I wake up and ask myself how I will walk through my day.  And each and every day, the answer is pretty much the same. I want to be a light with every step I take.

Now this isn’t as easy as it sounds. What does it mean to be a light? And what do I have to do to get there?

The second question is easier to answer, so I will start with that. In order to be a light to anyone I have to be a light to myself. That means before I reach out to the world around me, I have to go inward and care for my body, my mind, and my soul.  If I don’t take care of me, how can I be authentic with others?

Writing, listening to the others’ wisdom, moving and eating right are key. On a really good day, I will chant, meditate, or drum.  And on a great day, I will do it all! Breathing deeply and living mindfully takes an open heart and a willing spirit.

In fact, most of what I try to do is to live consciously. My entire being craves a conscious life. I want to live with integrity and authenticity.  So for the most part, I do that. AND every day I am learning, stretching, and growing. I am working to be the best me I can be.

Only after I navigate inward can I take an excursion outward.

So to answer the first question:  What does it mean to be a light?

A ready smile greets nearly every person I meet. I have a drive to touch people’s lives in positive ways. This feeling has emanated so deeply that years ago I even changed my last name to Gal-Or, wave of light.

Life has taught me that some of my best plans and my most amazing intentions need to altered due to reality.

When my older son was a teenager, he was plagued with a life and death journey which took over our family’s entire lives for over three and a half years. This meant that everything in my world changed over night and stayed that way until one day I realized he was thriving again!

Shortly after that episode, I woke up to a joyous pitter-patter in my heart. With an overwhelming realization, I realized that I am alive and ready to serve others again. Hineini! I am here!!

While I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, I slowly began to realize that the years of hell inspired me to live a little more like there may be no tomorrow. With that came a new zest for life and a deep passion in my kishka, my guts. Over the coming days, months, and years, that passion has become part of my life force.

Returning back to the Mary Oliver quote above, I have grown to trust where my heart and soul take me. Living a conscious life means that I have work to do not only for myself, but for others.

With each step I take in the world, I really do it with the best intention. That doesn’t mean it is always received with open arms, but it does mean that I am standing in the integrity that is part of my core essence.

Sharing my thoughts and values is the only way I know to inspire change and to empower others. That doesn’t mean that I am always right or that I don’t frustrate or anger those who feel differently. Everyday, I am challenged to stand in the light even when it isn’t easy.

With views that are often off the beaten path or different from mainstream thinking, I have to negotiate the world with kindness. I also have to make sure that I am educated and thoughtful as I navigate conversations and writing. And sometimes, I have to receive the passion of others.

While passion isn’t always full of light, my work is be the light and always remember that I want every “wild and precious day” to live consciously and thoughtfully.

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 . . . .]

Learned Wisdom – from My Daddy

BeKind

My daddy, of blessed memory, use to talk to EVERYONE. I loved that about him. He showed me by example that regardless of what mood I was in that it was incumbent upon me to connect warmly with each and every person.

With my father as my guide, I always aspire to live up to his example. As a result:

  1. I always have a smile for those I face.
  2. Whenever possible, I hold the door open for whoever is behind me and behind them.
  3. If someone needs help, I don’t walk away or act like you don’t notice.
  4. Cell phones have their place; they should not be used in grocery store lines or any time it detracts from making connections with strangers. (Note: Dad died before cell phones were smart.)
  5. Take a moment to share a kind word, a kibitz (chit chat), a story with others.

There really is no option for taking a moment, to reach out and try to impact someone’s day.

May we all remember that kindness matter.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – The bells in the photo above come from one of my favorite places in Tuscon, Ben’s Bells. The mission of Ben’s Bells is  to inspire, educate, and motivate people  to realize the impact of intentional kindness, and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby strengthening ourselves, our relationships and our communities. For more information go to BensBells.org.

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Pantano Wash on the Rillito River

Pantano Wash on the Rillito River

“The Bridge”
Music: Elton John
Lyrics: Bernie Taupin

I’ve seen the bridge and the bridge is long
And they built it high and they built it strong
Strong enough to hold the weight of time
Long enough to leave some of us behind

[chorus:]
And every one of us has to face that day
Do you cross the bridge or do you fade away
And every one of us that ever came to play
Has to cross the bridge or fade away

Standing on the bridge looking at the waves
Seen so many jump, never seen one saved
On a distant beach your song can die
On a bitter wind, on a cruel tide

[repeat chorus]

And the bridge it shines
Oh cold hard iron
Saying come and risk it all
Or die trying

[repeat chorus]

I am a profoundly fortunate soul.  While I have faced enormous challenges throughout my life, I am blessed to continually find the bridges I need to cross over so that I can emerge from life’s tough spots.   Since this past June, I have been facing some intense fear even as I was moving towards resolving the stark realities of feeding my family.  I am someone who rarely gives up, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of fear or darkness.
Over the last weeks, I have been feeling held by so many beautiful friends that are nudging me forward and offering complete support with each step.  With each passing day, I realize that a new chapter is being written sometimes by yours truly and sometimes by yours truly’s beloved friends.  My friends haven’t let me down as they have worked and advocated for my success.  My sons and I are not alone, we are surrounded by people that are willing to help us in a myriad of ways.  Light seems to always brighten my life when I need it most and today that is no different.  The light is illuminating our family even as we navigate these tumultuous times.

Every day, new possibilities surface just as I am entertaining self-doubt. And with each step I find myself feeling hopeful, anxious, excited, & alive.  My head and heart are bursting with gratitude as I embrace crossing the bridge.  I am consciously aware that I want to walk gently and remain cognizant of the power of each step.  It may ok for me to slip, but I really don’t want to lose my footing.  While faltering for moments in time is sometimes a reality, success is not optional.

To say I feel humbled by the love and care that my sons and I are continuously receiving is an understatement.  Each moment of love, sweet gifts, financial support, and kindness  is like a loving embrace.  I can’t  believe how held I am feeling  Perhaps for the first time in life I am not feeling alone; a village is not only surrounding us, but carrying us across the bridge.

With love, light, & gratitude,
Chava

 

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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 17 Elul or 13 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!

~ ~ ~

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Quote by Dr Seuss

~ ~ ~

When I was in my late teens or early 20’s, I worked as a counselor for the Tikvah Program, a fabulous special needs program at Camp Ramah in Palmer, Massachusetts.  While there, I learned important lessons that continue to impact my life to this day.  The most significant one came from the head of the program who enlightened me by sharing that each and every one of us is unique and also has special needs.

If every one is unique and special, that means I should be cognizant of this reality by consciously honoring each person for who they are.  One of  my biggest goals in life is to make people feel good whenever they connect with me.  I am far from perfect, but I try to interact with others in a very conscious way.

The bottom-line is that every being in this world matters.

I am so tired of living in a society where people show disdain for those those that may have limitations or for those that are the wrong color, size, religion, economic background, etc.  All people are human beings.  Showing someone respect or kindness should be a given unless they have done something very tangible to hurt you.

As a child, I was picked by my own mother and the kids at school because of my own limitations.  I was:

  • slow
  • hearing impaired
  • Jewish
  • fat
  • from a dysfunctional family
  • and more. . .

Eventually I grew up and became more self assured, but growing up sucked in every way.  The good news is that a long the way, I did have friends and family that helped me navigate the harsh realities of being who I was.  And I was able to grow up and become comfortable in my own body.  The point here is that it hurts when people are picked on because. . . .

Since we are all part of the same universe (“no matter how small”), may we all act as if everyone counts.

With blessings & light,

Chava

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Middah (character trait) focus: Honoring our elders – Ki-bud ze-kei-nim

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 me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

My parents never made it to old age; until January, I had rarely experienced being with someone who was growing older and needing some assistance in order to navigate life.  In fact, it has only been very recent that I have noticed that I have some close friends that are experiencing things that I thought only happened to older people.  In the last few months, I have had close friends have cataract surgery, knee replacement, hip replacement among other things.  Don’t these things only happen to people that are getting older?  I wouldn’t know, of course, because I am not really aging – am I?

Seriously though, since my ‘professional’ position went from full-time, to half-time, to jobless, I have had the opportunity to help people that are aging.  For some, aging happens slowly; for others, it happens more quickly. Every person ages on their own trajectory.  Bottom-line, people that are aging need support; sometimes they need help with basic skills and other times just with some harder tasks that were once a norm.  Honoring our elders, all of our elders is simply everyone’s responsibility.

Recently, I had the experience of watching a system that is supposed to care for their residents, fail.  The good news is that I believe this was not a norm for this location, but it wasn’t nice for the period of time that things were going wrong.  If you have your loved ones in a facility, make sure you are checking in and that you really know what is going on with your loved ones.  Unfortunately, some seniors, like children, do not have the words or the ability to protect themselves.  Protecting our loved ones and friends should be second nature; make sure you make no assumptions and that you stay alert.

What I know now is that caring for older loved ones or anyone that is older takes patience and kindness.  Each and every person deserves respect regardless of whether or not they can understand everything going on.  When you see a parent, a friend, or even someone shopping who seems older and perhaps frustrated, take a moment to find out if you can help in any way.  And remember to always treat not only older folks, but all folks, as human beings.

May I be blessed with the discernment that allows me to take care of those that need my love and care; may I always have an open door to really see what I need to do in order to care for those that I work with.

Honoring my elders and all human beings is not optional.

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