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Life is hard. On a good day, we navigate with ease. On a bad day, we tread water and hope we can stay afloat. On most days, most of us have moments where the pendulum swings throughout the day.

What I am writing about below is where I have been over the last weeks. I am writing with transparency knowing that this will make some people feel uncomfortable, but the good news is that I make through challenging times by remembering that I have a tribe that is holding me.

If you are part of my tribe, thank you for being there.

May we all find our tribe.

~ ~ ~

When you’re down and trouble
And you need some love and care
A
nd nothing, nothing is going right
C
lose your eyes and think of me
A
nd soon I will be there
T
o brighten up even your darkest night.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

Songwriter: Carole King

I have been blessed with a tribe that holds my spirit and reminds me that I am loved. All I have to do is let them know that I am in a dark place, and they show up.

The last weeks have been painful for me. In fact, I have been feeling crushed and struggling to breathe. All I have wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry. And yet, while I have had some really dark hours, I have been doing what I do. I have been taking one step and then another, and still another. I am not out of the woods yet, but I am doing what I need to do as I slowly emerge.

Day 55 - Tears Can Cleanse your heart and spiritI have cried. I have journaled. I have cried some more. I have sat in silence. I have stared at my computer screen only to get nothing done. I have painted my little cards with the wisdom I needed or sad truths. I have written some really hard pieces that can only be written when I am in significant pain. Did I say I have cried?

Last weekend, I wrote one of my closest friends and told her I couldn’t make her daughter’s wedding because I wasn’t able to get my shit together. I was honest. And then this past week, I blew the shofar at a climate change rally and spoke about how the shofar was a call to wake up; we need climate action now. Just showing up helped me get out of my own way for just a little while. I still went to sleep with tears in my eyes and a hole in my heart. But on that night, I slept really well for the first time in a while.

BTW, this is the first year in decades that I haven’t blown the shofar or rams horn nearly every day during the month of Elul, the month before Rosh HaShanah.  In Jewish tradition, we blow the shofar as one of the tools for inspiring us to to wake up and do the spiritual work of stretching and growing so that we are ready for the new year.

Instead of blowing the shofar, I have been allowing myself to be exactly where I am.

AND

My tribe is showing up.

One by one, my friends are reaching out and reminding me that they are holding space for me. The most impressive is my friend whose daughter is getting married. She offered to come to me anytime. I can’t ask, but I love that she means it. I wouldn’t be good company and I don’t know how to be taken care of when I want to bury my head in the sand. Another friend of mine who is busy beyond words offered to drive an hour both ways just so she could give me a hug. A couple of others called, some offered to listen, and others opened their homes to me whenever I am up for a visit. Living in Houston is hard because most of my loved ones live elsewhere.

And then a couple of nights ago, I asked my friends who live by the water if I could run away to their house even if I am dark. Of course, they said yes and then they called other friends who live close to them and texted me that everyone wanted to see me. And what I heard in that text is that they will welcome me however I show up. Unfortunately, I need to wait until after the Jewish holidays, but I think healing will happen by the water.

Over the last couple of days, I have started answering the phone or responding to text messages. Mostly, I am still hiding, but a little less than I was. I haven’t wanted to talk to many people, so I haven’t. But I have decided to be real a couple of times on social media and within my blogging. I have cried at work and felt loved even if I felt unlovable. I am being transparent. I am “living out loud” as Émile Zola would say.

The truth is that why I am sad doesn’t really matter. There are a lot of reasons and I think I have only shared all of them with one of my friends who called at the ‘right’ moment. I wonder if I chewed his ear off. Since he has kept reaching out this week, I don’t think I scared him away. I am really blessed And the beautiful reality is that I know that most of my friends would do what this one friend did for me.

I’ve also been blown away by the love texts, the sweet private messages, and even a couple of notes. I am allowing my friends to see that I am living in the messy middle. And instead of ignoring me, they are quietly showing up and letting me know that I am loved.

~ ~ ~

Growing up, I used to hear that we make plans and God laughs. #Truth

Last Saturday, a friend, who is also a congregant, called my cell phone. When I saw his name on my caller ID I decided to pick up the phone. I, incorrectly assumed something must be wrong because he generally doesn’t call me out of the blue. Looking back though, I realized that this friend always calls me out of the blue and it is ALWAYS a welcome surprise.  Fast forward, I am not sure how he started the phone conversation, but he quickly said, “I’d love to do karaoke with you. Let me get with my wife and let’s just do it.” This was in response to me saying on a silly Facebook questionnaire that I have wanted to do karaoke since my 50th birthday nearly four years ago. LOL! And then this friend made the serious mistake of asking me how I was. Ugh! And with that I could barely hold it together, so I started to cry. Damn!

Guess what I am doing to do tonight.  Karaoke. Of course, he and his wife meant it when they said that they would arrange something and get back to me. At the time, I was hoping it would be months away, but no such luck.  And you know what, it is time for me to do something like this. While I don’t know if I will have the guts to sing in front of others, I am going to spend some time with friends. It’s time for me to move forward differently.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking I need to start having fun. I know that I am too serious. My spirit is wrapped up in making the world a better place through activism, writing, other forms of creativity, and even my work. And while my creativity brings me real joy, I don’t really think of it as fun. While people tend to see me as someone who smiles and laughs easily, I am also someone who needs to work on having fun. More on that later.

Living authentically these last weeks has been hard. I want to hide, but somehow this hasn’t been an option this time around. My broken spirit is out of the closet. And while I am (somewhat) working and showing up in life, I am also being real with every step I am taking.

My loved ones are an AMAZING testament to what it means to be in my tribe. All I have to do is be me and they love me just as I am. I better stop here before I cry yet again.

Hineini, Here I am! I am doing the holy work of healing.

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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img_2740Life is hard. There are hours, days, weeks, months, and even years that every aspect of living is overwhelming.

Fortunately, I am mostly blessed to face hard hours, but during a rare period of time, I may face hard days or weeks. . . .rarely do I face hard months or even hard years.

I am a thriver.

A long time ago, I decided that I didn’t have time for serious suffering so after a few days, I usually shake off my sadness, my pain, and/or my devastation by taking one step and then another.

But there are two times of year that my body seems to take a hiatus from holding it together. One is around the time of my mother’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of her death, and the other time is the anniversary of when my life was tragically decimated because of the action of others. The funniest part of these times of the year is that I don’t see it coming even if I theoretically know it will.

This week marked 29 years since my mother took her last breath.

Mom’s death nearly crushed me. Even now as I type these words, I am short of breath. And yet, for the first time since her passing, I can see how much I have moved forward. Her memory doesn’t haunt me daily and for the most part I have detached from any real feelings surrounding my mother’s tragic life.

I have been able to move forward so much so that I over the last year I allowed photos of me as a little girl into my house. I guess it was time for me to admit that that little girl really did exist. While I have yet to look at them, I don’t cringe when I see the small stack of photos in my office. Instead I welcome them with an awareness that even though my childhood was seeped in horrific pain, I really was alive and not only did I make it, I became a beautiful soul.

Back to this week:
I have been hurting, creating mountains out of molehills, and feeling painfully alone even as I have been surrounded by loved ones reminding me that I am loved and even adored.  The truth is that my body has been letting me know that this week has forever been imprinted by mother’s mark. The result is that I have a urinary tract  infection (UTI) and a respiratory infection.

I have also found myself sobbing for no reason at all only to smile when in the back of my head I have become the drama queen that I deplore. But for this past week, I couldn’t stop it. My spirit was being assaulted by the memories of my childhood, of a time when I couldn’t protect the onslaught of assault.

My mother was sick, profoundly sick. Her sickness left me ill equipped for thriving and yet I am a thriver. So as the week of her yahrzeit turns into the next week, I am moving forward. I am taking one step and then another.

My UTI will heal as will my respiratory infection. My friends will forgive my antics and some may even hug me and remind me that I am loved.

Tonight, I am taking one step and then another. . . .

Onward with love and light,
Chava

PS – I am profoundly aware that this time of year leaves my spirit bruised, but I am also aware that I will always emerge to find my center again.

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(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

Life isn’t easy. There is so much that we are handling at any given moment. The world is feeling daunting in this moment . . .  politics, family, internal strife, unwanted deadlines, loneliness, hurdles. Even the good stuff like the work, Jewish holidays, time to walk, and loved ones can be daunting. Life is what it is and I am always navigating my spirit’s intensity.

Day 22 - Be Open to possibilitiesWhile I may sometimes want to hide in a cocoon, it behooves me to keep showing up and seek out the possibilities. The world is calling to me with open hands or maybe just open windows.

Exploring the world, meeting people where they are, fully connecting with old and new friends, embracing new ideas, playing at every chance – these are the ways that our potentials will soar.

Take a deep breath and join me in open your hearts to possibilities! I am on it! Are you?

Together we can make a world that makes us proud.

Onward with love, light, & action,
Chava

PS – I’d love your feedback on my blog, my writing, my thinking, and/or my Activist Cards!!! Feel free to like or comment. I will try to respond to all comments to this blog. Input is always welcome.

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Sometimes you have to hear the messages that keep meeting you at the door, sometimes in subtle ways and sometime with this grace of an elephant walking a tightrope.

Yesterday as I was rushing around, I paused to connect with someone I know, but have barely had the opportunity to connect with before yesterday. In just 5 minutes, he tapped into my soul and reminded me that I really needed to breathe.

I listened.

Life is busy, but that doesn’t really matter – not really. What really matters is staying present for myself and possible for those that need my focus at any given moment.

Great message.

So in the last 30+ hours, I have been trying to remain present while taking time to breathe. Although I have fallen short a bunch, I have also taken a few more deep breaths too. I think I am going to call that a success.

And today, I found another great way to stay present. I pushed the envelope and invited my friends on Facebook to reflect about something that challenged many people, but not everyone. In the end, I was touched by those that took time to pause and share their thoughts. Pushing the envelope allowed me to hear some views that strengthened what I believed and to also hear very different opinions.

Another great message.

Allowing for the space to breathe, to think, and to be present really was the gift I gave myself.

Instead of trying to capture a new selfie, tonight I am leaving one of my favorite selfies of all time.  I think this is the first selfie that I literally loved! This is my way of sharing a part of me and not pushing myself to take the perfect selfie for today. 🙂

As I go to sleep for the night, I am totally feeling the blessings that come with taking time to pause and to cuddle our latest family member, a yet to be named puppy. More on the little creature in the coming days.

Until then, take time to breathe and focus on wherever you are.

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

July - sun 1
Reflection Time Selfie

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Yesterday I had the privilege of tripping over one of the most amazing and profound YouTubes (link below) I have seen in a long time. There are no words to fully describe the impact of watching it. Through his song ‘Rise’ and video, Mikey Pauker invited the listener/viewer to look inside themselves and see that we all have vulnerability and inner fears.

Throughout the song, people of varying types, backgrounds, experiences, and ages were sharing their deep rooted fears on cardboard box remnants. You have to watch the video below to fully understand.

For me, this video inspired me to be real, much like I have decided to be in this 21-Day Selfie Challenge. I am embracing the many sides of my personality and sharing how I see the world and my own life.

Day 3 - Chava Selfie B & W

Day 3 Selfie: 5 February 2018

Life is messy and sometime hard. While I may seek to live simply, very few things actually ever are. And that is ok; it is what it is.

In the song, Mikey asks us to share our deepest fears for ourselves.  Truth be told, I don’t have just one fear. My life journey has too many moving parts to just have one fear.

Feeling called to be brutifully honest.

My sign would say: I am afraid that I will never be enough, do enough, or be loved enough because I am not worthy enough.

After I posted some of these thoughts yesterday, a few of my friends made sure that I knew I was enough. Wow. . .I love that. . . I love my village.  Even though my fears are very real, know that while the inner fear sometimes roars loudly, so does my beloved friends’ reflections.

What would your sign say? I’d like to know.

#ascension #rise #emet #broughtmetotears

Sending love, light, and blessings. . . .

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Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I love this reality. Tomorrow is too. . . and the next day and the next one after that.

The way that I navigate my wild and messy life is with the realization that each moment, hour, or day is just a beginning. I think that is why I often find the gifts even when I am challenged by life’s realities.

“Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
in ‘Go to the Limits of Your Longing’
by Rainer Maria Rilke

The last month or so has left me struggling with my breath and my spirit. But the good news is that even in my devastation, I have kept going and found sparks of light at every juncture.

A bunch of things hit me at the same time. Of course they did. Isn’t that the way things happen? My past crept up on me and punched me in the face leaving me battered and bruised. A loved one died. Many close friends are in a serious health crisis. And someone I love dearly has altered a connection that I thought remain as it was for a long time if not forever.

With each and every one of the challenges above, my heart splintered. Sadness really has permeated my entire being for past several weeks. AND I have always believed that I would ride the waves. Riding the waves has lead to my need to consciously shed the parts of my life that don’t work for me any longer.  The good news about new realizations and deep sadness is that in order to move forward, you have to move through it. Just like Michael Rosen says in his children’s book/song ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’:

We can’t go over it. 
We can’t go under it. 
We’ve got to go through it!  

As a way of navigating all that I need to embrace and some of what I am shedding. I am going to do a 21 day challenge for myself. And I will share this journey, sometimes in detail and sometimes with a simple selfie. While selfie’s are the tool, there will be other things happening just below the surface. After all, I am navigating towards new horizons. The sadness that has been marinating needs to be transformed even as some of the challenges remain.

Sending love, light, and blessings . . .

Day 1 - Chava Selfie

Day 1 Selfie: 3 February 2018

PS – One of the funniest realities of my selfie challenge is that I really have been into wearing all black or dark shirts and jeans. So I may look the same way every day. 🙂

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Life is amazing and full. AND with that fullness comes gifts and challenges.

Over the years, I have chosen to follow my calling which was originally coined by Émile Zola:

Sonia's Sunflowers

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world,
I, an artist, will answer you:
I am here to live out loud.”

Literally. I embrace life openly and share my full spirit when possible. This means that when someone asks me how I am, I answer. It also means that when I want to share on social media, I do that too.

Hiding behind a shadow of my making is something I gave up doing long ago.  That doesn’t mean that when I am at the grocery store or at work that I spill my guts, but it does mean that I am open to being authentic when I am on my own time.

This disposition creates fascinating exchanges for those that walk through life with preconceived notions of who I am or who I should be. My transparency and intensity often confound those that hold me to expectations of their making or simply don’t understand how I walk in the world.

And yet for people to fully know me, they need to listen to this verse from John Legend’s song, All of Me:

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you.

These words may be the words of one lover expressing his love, but they are also the words of all healthy connections. When we engage fully in relationships, we have see the realities of the person in front of us and they see our core being if their eyes are wide open.

Life is messy and beautiful. Being real means that in every closet there are skeletons. They may not all be dramatic, but they are there.  There are sweet moments of sunshine and harsh moments of rain. There are moments of health and moments of illness. There are your opinions and my opinions. The question is how do we as friends and acquaintances choose to navigate each individual in our lives.

In my transparency, I share my thoughts and my soul work in my writing and on social media.  My heart and spirit are open whenever I feel comfortable sharing. In return, people receive what I share through their eyes.  And I love how in any moment, I can hear completely diverse insights into how I am perceived. Examples include:

  • “You are always so happy. I love your posts on Facebook.”
  • “I know you’ve had some ups and downs and I hope you are doing better.”
  • “Looks like you have had a lot on your plate. Are you doing ok?”

On any given day, I can hear variations of each of the above comments. In truth, I love that people care enough to reach out and I often wonder if people are really able to see the world outside of their own tunnel vision.  Yet regardless of where people are coming from, I love that people embrace and sometimes wrestle with how I show up.

Shouldn’t we all try to see those in our world for the people they are instead of who we think they should be?

What I have learned from how people both get excited or struggle with what I share is that it is my job to really listen what people are bringing to our conversation or what they are posting on Facebook.

Yes, my life is full and I feel deeply, but I am also hanging on for the ride of my life and embracing life with open arms.

ASK & I WILL TOO
If you really want to know who I am, what I think, and how I am feeling – Ask. . .don’t assume. AND if I want to know anything about you, I will ask you and not assume.

Beautiful relationships come when we are open to sharing the fullness of who we are and when we open our arms to the fullness of whoever is in front of us at any given moment.

Looking forward to getting to know you better!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: YES – LIFE IS REALLY FULL RIGHT NOW! 🙂

  1. Door l’Door is thriving
  2. Loving my work
  3. Aryeh and Dovi . . . .
  4. Writing a ton
  5. Finances are tight
  6. Engaging in my health journey (again)
  7. Simplifying daily
  8. Emerging from some darkness
  9. Navigating connections
  10. and, and, and

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