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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

Mountain WomanLoving people can make your heart soar; losing people can shatter your entire foundation.

Over the years I have learned love isn’t the panacea for navigating the pain that I have endured, am enduring, and will endure throughout my life. Love isn’t enough to sustain me through dark moments or crushing disappointments. Love isn’t enough to help me navigate hard conversations or devastating realities. And yet, I, like most of us, still choose to connect and to love others.

And I do love deeply and with an open heart. I actually love with my entire being. Which means over my lifetime, I have experienced a lot of heart-ache as well as hurt a few people too.

When one of my dear friends recently said that “I disappoint no matter what I do”, I found myself taking a deep cleansing breath.  His words really struck a chord with me.

Suddenly I was aware that I have spent my entire life breaking hearts and struggling with what it means to exist the many dichotomies of life while honoring my spirit. In truth, I have found the rocky terrain to be crippling at times.

Standing between a rock and hard place means that my work is to do the next right thing day in and day out by:Heartbreak is Inevitable September 2019

  • loving fiercely
  • breathing deeply
  • speaking truth
  • honoring my soul
  • living authentically
  • remaining kind
  • walking gently

I wish living wasn’t so hard; I wish relationships could be easier. And sometimes they are easy. But when you love someone long enough, heartbreak happens. As I have learned to live my many truths, I have also experienced an evolution to some of my beautiful relationships. Connections have changed because we, as humans, are static.  As our hearts and souls change, so do the paths of our relationships. And since my personal motto comes from the words of Émile Zola:

“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.”

I learned heartbreak for the first time from my father. I have no doubt that I was loved by my father. I felt that love with every fiber of my being, but he didn’t really do what it took to make sure I was safe. In fact, he let me stay in harm’s way.  As I got older my heart was shattered again and again by family members, lovers, and even a few friends. They were people who I thought would be in my life forever and who I believe loved me deeply, only when push came to shove they left me hanging.

And then there were those that I hurt because I needed to step back or say things that were painful to hear. My entire childhood was filled with tsunamis at every turn. It took me a long time to reel in my ability to create emotional tsunamis in my head. It took me a long time to know how to navigate hard conversations. Sometimes I still struggle because I am pretty damn sensitive.

Over time, I’ve come to understand that very few people will be in my life forever. Love changes. Relationships change. People change. Heck I have changed a ton over the years. If we are lucky, those we love deeply will stay in our lives even as relationships take on a different hue. This is something I have tried to do with old lovers, beloved friends, and even a few family members. Sometimes it works and sometimes my heart get’s broken. Relationships are so complicated.

I still feel devastated when I look back on my two beloved best friends who left my life when I moved to Tucson. It was a coincidence since one them lived in Ohio and the other in New York.  I still miss both of them and pine for those connections that are etched in my memory. Both were people that I could share my heart and soul with and both are completely out of my life today. It was a total coincidence that both friends left around the same time and for very different reasons, but the effect still squeezes my heart from time to time.

In my dreams, I believe in forever. AND in truth, I have some amazing friends that have been part of my life since my teen years and early professional years.  For my friends  Lisa, Linda and Louis, I don’t understand how they still love me and put up with me after decades. Since I tend to live out loud, they have seen me move around a lot, take a few different religious journeys, navigate my childhood memories, cope with serious illnesses for my children, divorce Michael, and so much more.

My closest friends know that I am not an angel and they love me anyway. They hold space for me to screw up, fall apart, and sometimes soar. I do the same for them. Recently, I emailed one of my soul sisters and let her know that I may not be able to make it to her daughter’s wedding because I am having a hard time coping with life in the present.  I expected her to be furious with me because my friend had been awesome to me over the years. While her initial response was short, it wasn’t unkind. Later she followed up and perhaps realized that I was really not in a good place. Isn’t that what beautiful connections are supposed to be.

Life isn’t easy. When we love deeply, we tend t say exactly what we are thinking and feeling; this often leads to dark moments in even the most solid relationships.  And then there are times when we grow and evolve from what we were when we first met. I have so many friends that have become grounded differently then I would have ever expected. My guess is that my friends would be saying the same about me. For those of us that are seekers and explorers, our world evolves whenever we learn new information from spiritual to more tangible. If you had asked me 30 years ago if I would be chanting and drumming as part of my spiritual practice, I would have giggled.  If you had told me that my political beliefs would put a wedge between me and others, I wouldn’t have believed it.

A broken heart though, that comes from having everything you believe to be true turned upside down. But what I know after years of broken hearts is that sometimes relationships can heal and new connections can be forged. And sometimes all we can do is say good-bye.

For me all sudden loss breaks my heart more than anything in the world. A friend who shuts the door on your relationship feels no different to having a friend die suddenly without warning. In truth, each time this happens, I have a harder and harder time forging new connections. I’m really not sure how any of us heal from a broken heart, but as I get older it is harder and harder to do so.

AND yet, I keep showing up at the table – again and again. Most of us do.

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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Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud Maya Angelou

Enter a caption

There is so much power that comes from silence or from speaking the right words.

Over the last month plus, I have been loving and caring for people that have been facing enormous changes, pain, impending loss, and loss. Most often, there are few or no words to say.

Some people need to feel the love, some know it is there even if it goes unspoken, and some need to talk, to cry, and to be. This makes navigating these connections so very challenging.

Tonight, I received a call from a friend who suffered one of the most tragic losses one could imagine. She needed to talk, to pray, to receive words of comfort.

With little or no voice, I prayed with her. I offered her words of comfort, and I shared prayers and poetry to help her navigate her pain. AND most importantly, I listened. I was so grateful to be there for her and so grateful I answered the phone in my quiet and squeaky voice. (My voice has been on vacation this week.)

I wish I always had the right words to share at every moment and the supportive silence to flow at the right time. I don’t, but I really do my best.

In this moment, I am grateful when I can give what people need and sad when I can’t.

These past months have been humbling. As I have watched so many I adore navigate tough times, I have learned much about human nature and also even more about myself. One of the most challenging truths is that not everyone walks through the world as I do. Their tragedy or struggle is not the same for me as it is for them. My job is to meet those in pain where they are.

Another thing that has become crystal clear is that I need to emerge more authentically as the spiritual soul that I am. And yes, there is always so much to learn with each step. It is time for me to seek more environments/opportunities that allow my full spirit to shine.

Many years ago, I did a chant training in which two of my now dear friends created a chant that said, “Hineini (I am here); How can I serve YOU.” I don’t remember the chant as much as I’d like, but I the words still resonate.

This has been a time of deep reflection for me. I am learning; I am growing.

May I be blessed with the right words or the silence to support those I love and serve.

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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 18 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.

~ ~ ~

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein as written in his letter to a grieving father

For Jews this month is traditionally a time of joy. Not so this year.

Day 18Personally, I am navigating some deep loss and sadness. The world outside of me, but within my realm is struggling. And the pain engulfing so much of the world is literally taking my breath away.

The words of consolation are empty and my own personal hope is rapidly diminishing. And yet, we all have to keep moving forward in our own ways.

When I allow myself, I could get lost in the Simon and Garfunkel’s song, Sound of Silence:

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

 As I navigate some of my own personal journeys and the journeys that inspire activism… I realize I have to keep taking one step and then another.

Yes, I am a little dark right now. I think the 17 murdered students and teachers in Parkland, Florida put the nail in that coffin. I am so sad and at a loss for what it means to rise up from the devastation. And my own sadness doesn’t help me too much during this journey. And yet. . .

I still keep taking steps to move outside of what I am feeling. There is a world that needs a response to deranged and depressed people having access to firearms of any types. I won’t even go into the debate of AR-15 and AK 47. And then let’s talk about the disgusting excuse we have as POTUS or many of our politicians. And then there is the realities that I keep seeing in Israel, another country that I once loved with all my heart.

And in the end, there is a balance. On one shoulder sits the reality of what’s going on. There is so much darkness in our midst.  AND on the other shoulder sits the reality that there’s work to do. And I am blessed to be part of building bridges, making a difference and impacting the souls of my students and the different communities that I am a part of. This is the shoulder that keeps me from suffocating.

We all have to keep moving forward.  Hineini, Here I am. I am doing the best I can.

 

 

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Feb 2015  Walking from behind

I don’t think I am alone when I say there are so many things I used to fear and that there are many things that I still fear. . .

I used to fear being destitute with all that that would mean. But bankruptcy in the 1990s and a significant job loss in 2014 didn’t destroy my spirit. While both experiences were anxiety inducing, I found ways to change the tide and become grounded again. I learned to live better within my means and to trust the universe a bit more. Things are still not easy, but for the most part life financially work s (except when it doesn’t). My family really has what it needs.

I used to fear losing my husband and being alone to raise my sons.  Divorce after a long separation ended up empowering me to live a more authentic life and provided me with wings to fly.

I used to fear being traumatized by violence, but I not only survived serious childhood abuse, but I survived rape. Some may even say I found a way to not only thrive but to to help others navigate to a safer place whenever possible.

I used to fear loss, but since I live life as fully as I do. I find myself loving intensely and losing those I love sometimes through death, sometimes through abandonment, and sometimes through the realities of time and space. With each loss, I take the good memories and create new ways of living life more fully in the wake of those losses.  And I know that while the deep sadness may always inhabit a part of my heart, the ‘dance of life’ continues.

I have always feared for my children’s lives. After nine miscarriages and devastating illnesses, I still do. AND that doesn’t mean I allow the fear to infiltrate the way I live. Instead I open up my arms and reach for life with the many moving parts that that entails. And I (mostly) trust that my sons will take their own journeys.

As Émile Zola said, 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!”

I know that I am blessed. Regardless of what has transpired in my life, I find the inner strength  to emerge as the woman I am. On more than one occasion my friends have referred to me a warrior. While I love that term, the term spiritual warrior resonates more deeply for me. All that I do, I do because of love.

Now for honesty, I have always emerged from fear. Always. BUT that doesn’t mean that I do not live in fear.

This past week, I have faced being stalked and feeling threatened by three neighbors. I have been forced to explore what I think about guns, how to handle the myriad of views about what is happening to me, and how to move forward.

Over the last week, I have had people tell me that I have asked for the violent energy by living my life as I do and I have had to wonder if maybe there was truth to what was being said. In the end, I am furious with those that think I should silence the way I live. That is not the world I live in; that is not the world I want to live in.

I am a writer, a protester, and an activist; I am a woman, an educator, and a dreamer. There is so much work to be done and I can not do it by walking in silence.

The man who now sits in the White House and surrounds himself with darkness needs to be held accountable for the way he walks in the world and the trauma he is causing humankind. So, while I am afraid of my neighbors, I have work to do.

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david-steinerSometimes we are blessed to meet people who inspire us to be the best people that we can be. You know those people that know just when to call regardless of what is going on in their own personal life. Or maybe the person that understands that in order to make a change in the world they have to be that change. Or maybe that person is someone who knows what they have to do in order to stretch, to grow, to evolve – and does the work! Or perhaps, the person is a dreamer who never stops going after his dreams.

David Steiner was that person and now he is gone. Killed doing what he has done first the first day I met him in 1982 when we were in Kfar HaYarok, a kibbutz style high school in Israel; he died touching people’s lives and making a difference. He died in Uganda while on a beautiful mission of his own creating. If you want to know more, here is an initial link that can lead you to more information. (http://abc7chicago.com/news/chicago-filmmaker-killed-in-uganda-crash/1673697/ and http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/chicago-filmmaker-david-steiner-killed-in-uganda-bus-crash/http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/chicago-filmmaker-david-steiner-killed-in-uganda-bus-crash/)

David and I lost touch after I left Kfar HaYarok, we weren’t initially close as teens, but he was someone who could light up any room he entered. Even as a teen, he stood for what he believed in and did the work that needed to be done.  In fact, one of my favorite memories of him was when he worked in the refet, with the cows. If memory serves me correctly, he woke up really early to take care of his calves and then was there whenever the mamas were birthing their babies.  David was always where he needed to be.

One of the clearest memories I have of David is that he made every person feel like they counted. And I do not believe that ever changed. Even when we re-connected about six years ago, he became present and available like no time had ever passed. He was so much better than I was at keeping in touch and managing his life.

In this moment, I am devastated for his loved ones and for all of us that at one time or another were touched by David’s presence in this world. I feel like my heart has been crushed, so I can’t imagine how his closest beloveds are coping.

Life isn’t always an easy package to navigate. We change. We grow. We evolve. If we are lucky, we honor how the new road emerges. We develop the skills and work tirelessly to be the best we can be. That is how I see David.

While I was licking my wounds at a failed marriage, job instability, and not living up to my dreams, David chose to consciously live life by opening his eyes and diving into the possibilities with the brilliance that made him the amazing human being he was.

And what I will miss more than anything is the possibilities that he represented. I always felt like spending time with him now would be amazing!!! We didn’t have the opportunity to reconnect in person, but we shared ideas, writings, and life from a distance. We were in touch. I was in closer touch with him because he would often pick up the phone or message me to ask my opinion, share an article, or make sure he was thoughtfully navigating a sticky situation.

At the moment, I am feeling a deep sense of loss. The heart-wrenching pain in my gut is paralyzing and yet I know I need to water some of the seeds that David planted. No problem there, I can’t stop shedding tears.  David found so many ways to make the world a better place. My hope and my prayer is that I can embody one spark of the passion and beauty that fueled David’s essence.

Shalom Chaveri (Good-bye my friend), you will forever be missed.

(Note: I want to thank Laura Smolar, a dear friend, who was kind enough to let me know before I found out about David’s untimely death on social media. One of the last things she texted me today was, “Start writing now. . .don’t wait….go, go now!!!” Little does she know how much she sounded like David who ALWAYS wanted to nudge me to reach more of my potential.)

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One of Jamie's last photos  - Kauai: Paradise Found

One of Jamie’s last Facebook photos – Kauai: Paradise Found

I love deeply.

As someone who loves people as I do, I often connect with people instantly.  It is not something I think about, it simply is. What I have learned over the last fifteen or so years is that I either have a connection or I don’t.  Are there exceptions to this rule. . .absolutely, but it is still a guiding principle within my life.

Some of my closest friendships have been made in 20 seconds or less on a good day, up to a minute on a questionable day. For the most part, if a friendship takes too much work initially, it isn’t a friendship worth keeping.

The people that come into my life in under a minute quickly become my soul friends. I often forget that they haven’t been in my life forever. Which can become awkward when I KNOW they know something, that of course they don’t. Those relationships tend to transcend time or space. Those are the friendships I want to keep and hold forever.

The only problem is that those friendships don’t always last.  Sometimes they end because they had an expiration date and sometimes they end because of serious illness or death.

Just this week, I lost a new friend, Jamie Zimmerman. You wouldn’t have known it by how we connected, but it is what it is.  In my heart, I think we both believed that we would one day do something profound together; I don’t know what I mean by that. . .it was just a hunch. The only problem is that earlier this week, an accident on the beaches of Hawaii took her life. As soon as I heard this, I couldn’t stop sobbing.  We had just had a couple of hours together when she came to Houston a couple of months ago. Loved our time and couldn’t wait until we would meet again.

But sometimes there are no tomorrows. http://wp.me/pthnB-5i So as I am wiping my tears away, I wonder how to best remember this brilliant woman. With an amazing gusto for living her passions, she wanted to share all she knew and inevitably spread her light too. She was a born leader who generously gave her heart and soul. While Jamie was nearly 20 years younger than I am, I had so much to learn from this beautiful soul.  I am so sorry I don’t have more time with her, but also grateful for the time I did have.

Jamie’s death has forced me to look at how I walk in the world.  How can I face the reality of sudden loss? How do I process accidents at all? Last month another friend of mine had a cycling accident.  I took that one hard too and he really was ok by the time I knew of his fall – battered and healing.

Over the last several years, I have learned that dread and vulnerability fill me when I hear of sudden accidents and loss whether they cause death or simply physical challenges of all sorts. Perhaps it is because I realize that as a single mother, I fear that my children would be alone if something happened to me. Or perhaps I have felt and witnessed the effects of sudden loss.  Either way, I am struggling internally right now.

Early onset of dementia took another close friend away a few years ago.  In fact, my friend Sharon was the person, I had planned to give my most personal information before I realized that the door of opportunity had closed.  Life doesn’t always work as we expect. Sigh.

With every fiber of my being, I hope I never lose the ability to connect with people as I do.  And yet I do need to find a way to accept the realities that come with loving people.  Those that I love will not necessarily always be present. Nor is it a given that I will be present for them.

The responsibility to live in the most authentic way possible becomes a necessity when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  It also means that I am responsible for being fully present in life and with those I love.  Tomorrow will be what it is, so I have to actively engage in this moment and to be the best person I can be within each of my interactions with the world; whether I connect daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or even less, my hope is that I will always the best person I can be.

Thinking about Jamie
Jamie was full of life; she actively engaged in life and strived to embrace all of life.  She also had a keen sense of how to honor herself and reach for her highest self.  I didn’t know Jamie well, but I wish I did.  Her spirit was full of light, she illuminated not only where she was standing at any given moment, but her beautiful energy brightened the world.  The world is a much better place because of her presence in it.

While I don’t know what Jamie and I may have accomplished if given the opportunity, I do know that I need to take the lessons I learned from our brief friendship.  And that is exactly what I will do.

~ ~ ~

May I learn to kiss the ground with my feet and reach for the stars with every bone in my body.

May I be blessed with the fearlessness to let my full light shine as I nurture my spirit a little more fully.

May I never stop loving as deeply as I do out of fear of losing the beauty of what was.

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