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Day 37 - Choose to Thrivei want to live in my truth and it is not optional for me. this means that what i am about to say may not be comfortable to read.

you see. . .I was born to live out loud, to be real, and to exist fully as the person I am. living in alignment is my holy work.

i have lived in many shadows and i have lived with so many lies. the difference between many of us is that i had no way out. . . not really.

there was my childhood. there really no need to say more about that. and there was my relationship with michael, my ex-husband. i had no money nor the ability to succeed without his support – not really. and i had children that were at times critically ill. in the end, i found my footing and i did what I had to do. i have always been someone who has reached for what fuels my spirit as soon as i could find the footing.

back then, i always did what i had to do AND i did it with reality looming overhead. BUT what i craved most was living in my integrity. i needed and still need to live my truth with myself. this isn’t about right or wrong for others.

the book I am writing is currently called ‘thriving: no option. . . ‘ every day i choose to live as i do. i know that i do not follow the norm that others feel compelled to follow. i live my many complicated truths.

when i left michael, i lost the village we created. when i left DC because i wanted to be safe, i lost my foundation of friends. being safe was more important. i am not 100% sure that i needed to fear michael, but i did.

when i left orthodoxy years before, i knew i needed to listen to the internal voices in my head. i didn’t believe that religious law should guide how i live life. i didn’t believe in one truth. i didn’t believe in God and God’s power as others did.

i am a seeker who is choosing how to live my life. and yes . . .a long the way, i lost a ton and with each loss i gained an insight that has guided my every step. over time i have stopped letting fear destroy my ability to move forward. i always move forward. i always reach towards what is possible. and yes, i often fall hard, but it is better to fall than to stand still and feel stuck in the middle between two things that don’t fill my many voids.

and yes the pain i have felt has left me bereft. i hurt deeply and wish that i could go through life without having my entire being broken – again and again and again.

with this in mind, i struggle with how much some feel like they are stuck in the middle between two parts of their lives. i am so sorry for that. AND i wonder what folks really want, i wonder what is attainable, and i wonder if they can develop the inner strength to create what would fuel their spirit.

and perhaps i am not fair. i have no money to lose for living in my integrity. i am already alone in most ways with a smattering of beloved friends to hold my spirit with almost no one close enough to hold me when my spirit breaks.

the good news is that i’ve learned to ride the waves, to exist alone, and to always reach for the life i want. i’ve also learned how to settle for the beauty knowing that whatever I have is there for however long it is part of my life.

i struggle with the knowledge that i am alone with a world just beyond my reach. AND still i come to the table again and again and again. i show up, i fumble, i fall, and i cry. and at least to this moment, i always  hold my arms out to the universe and move onward.

staying in the middle is not an option for me. i live fully wherever i am.

i also find joy in my work even on tough days. i work towards making our world a better world even though i may take my last breath before ever making the difference i want. i reach and strive for the possibilities even though i fear the realities. nothing stops me from writing or living out loud.

once upon a time, i lost a lot by living my many truths. still silence is not an option.

“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.”

― Émile Zola

in my childhood, i learned so many lessons. mostly i learned that i was broken and if i wanted to find my voice or my inner strength, I needed to find a way to honor my spirit while accepting the brokenness that is part of my every breath.

~ ~ ~

i have accepted that i may never have it all, but what i have i will love. my work may be a four-letter-word, but it also offers a pathway to impact others in beautiful ways. my writing fuels my spirit even though it also has it’s cost. my art is sweet, but i don’t have the time or the ability to soar with it.

life is full of holy work to do.

over the last 10+, i have rarely done anything that doesn’t honor my spirit. i have left jobs because they compromised who i was. i have said good-bye – again and again. i do what i now call the ‘dance of emergence’. i’ve lost so much, but found my soul in the process.

in the meantime, I will keep living consciously and authentically as much as possible. and while i sometimes settle for reality, i only settle if i can celebrate living there for that moment and hopefully longer.

i am here to live out loud!

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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Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
~ William Wordsworth

As a young child, the girl learned that silence was the only way to walk in the world. Since no one heard her screams of terror or noted her continuous falling apart at the seams, it must have meant that her words and her experiences were of little consequence.

No one responded to the cries of this little and very wounded child; no one reached out to the traumatized teen that used drugs to shield herself from the brokenness of her life. No one called the police when the rage in her home yielded screams that must of reverberated through the brick walls and into the streets. No one cared enough about the little girl and her brother that were forced to navigate some very stark realities.

As time moved forward, the girl’s brother moved away and found the inner strength to leave so that he could ultimately find his way. I’m not sure what that little girl felt at the time; my guess is that she understood that her brother was doing exactly what he should be doing post high school; he was growing up and becoming independent. Once he was gone, dysfunction emerged even more volatile and ruthless than before.

And still. . . no one listened.

Even the SWAT team that was called to her residence when her mother had a psychotic episode didn’t amount to her being safe. Returning home from a bike ride with friends, the little girl found the SWAT team surrounding her house because her mom was terrified when her son had been taken hostage; the only problem was that the sick woman’s son was actually living in another country by that time. Once the ‘ordeal’ was over, the SWAT team left, leaving behind the then preteen girl to navigate whatever realities were there. The little girl always had to navigate and when things were really rough, she had to keep herself safe too.

With nearly everyone turning their back on this precious child, she learned to become silent too. As she grew older, she would take tentative steps to find “her tribe”, sometimes they were the “right” people and sometimes they were not. Eventually she found moments when she would have just a little reprieve and she learned to treasure those moments of safety.

Unfortunately though, being silenced was already instilled. That silence lead her through the years of new beginnings. The default was her protection. She learned to encapsulate any pain and to withhold her traumatic stories. She learned to close off even the deepest hurts.

And then came the day that the little girl stopped remembering, stopped feeling, and disassociated from her previous life. She married, had children of her own, and created a beautiful life with an amazing friendship circle. BUT with time she began to feel the trickling of a breaking reservoir.

At first, only brief memories floated to the surface, but as time went on her heart exploded into shards of glass that sliced open her spirit and caused unrelenting pain.  But again she learned that no one could hear her and no one could look into her eyes while she released the dam. . .there was no one to hold the little girl’s spirit that lived inside a woman’s body.

Years passed and eventually that little girl grew. She found her “tribe”, beloved friends who could handle the trickling of her stories. And that was enough. That little girl had become a woman who felt seen and heard. The woman understood that her loved ones couldn’t bear hearing the stories, they loved her too much for that. But that little girl now a woman understood. . . she was not alone!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – After decades of silence, I know that silence is one of my natural defaults. Talking is still sometimes hard for me, but I have found other ways to unleash my silence through writing, art, and sometimes drumming. I have emerged and I am blessed to know that I do have a tribe that could now handle my stories even the hardest ones. I also know that I am loved.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

 

 

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(Note: This blog is full of raw honesty and may be hard for some of my beloveds to read. Please don’t feel obligated. With my 53rd birthday on the horizon, I am being to drawn to share an awareness that has been emerging over the last month as I have been writing for my upcoming book, Thriving: No Option.)

img_2681As a young child, I saw my father as my knight in shining armor. I adored him with every fiber of my being. I could never get enough time with him. Never. Wherever he went, I wanted to follow. His love for people and music was so contagious that I followed in his footsteps. He adored me and showed me in so many ways. But in truth, he didn’t show me in the most important way he should have. He left me navigating a life of pure unadulterated darkness. My father was the first man to leave my spirit shattered. A cycle that I’ve allowed to perpetuate itself time and time again.

While there is no question that my father loved me, he didn’t keep me safe. In fact, his silence permanently scarred me by allowing me to be regularly beaten, verbally assaulted, and ultimately raped. It is only recently, that the full impact of his actions and inactions have left my spirit gasping for air.

How could a man that loved me as my father did allow my own mother to beat me? How could a man that loved me as he did stay with a violent and mentally ill woman instead of providing a safe place to call home. My mother’s violence lead me into foster care and into the hands of a man that would rape me. My best friend’s family wanted to take me as their foster child, but I knew enough to say no even though I couldn’t stop the initial assaults.

My father might have been able to make a difference if he had been stronger, but that wasn’t my father. Instead I never learned that I was worthy of love and care. . . not really.

A few weeks ago, I was stung by the onslaught of this very  unwanted realization. Since then my sleep has been troubled and I have found myself shedding tears at some of the most inopportune moments. The nightmares and clenched teeth of my sleep have become unwanted guests. Although, as soon as I identified what was going on, the healing began.

At first, my awareness was about what my father had done and not done, but later I was stunned by what has become an even more problematic realization. The first relationship I ever had with a man overshadowed every interaction with men that followed. Instead of finding loving relationships with men that loved and cared for the person I was, I found loving relationships that ultimately left me hurting. How could it have been any different, I didn’t know how I needed to be cared for and loved. Besides that, relationships can be challenging. . .especially when they are ending.

The men were not intentionally hurtful,  I think I just struggled more because of the baggage I was holding. I lacked the inner strength to navigate reality.  Some relationships aren’t right or meant to last. Some relationships offer you the most treasured packages, but not forever. I believe that that’s life. The challenge is that my heart and spirit just didn’t have the grace when it was time to release old loves so that we could both move as we needed.

Today, I know this: I want someone to hold me when I need to cry inconsolable tears. I want to be loved through the pain of major surgery. I want someone who loves me when my entire being is on overload and I am celebrating both silly successes and major programs. I want to love someone who can listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s wisdom and “embrace the glorious mess that I am.”

I have chosen people that can’t show up for me, but that cycle is breaking now.

Hineini, Here I am!!!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – I am sad that my father never kept me safe or loved the fullness of my spirit, but my responsibility to make healthy choices now. I learned a lot from my beloved father. I am just sorry I learned some really hard lessons too.

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best photo ever!Awakening

Opening my eyes I found:
my spirit soaring.
my heart beating strongly.
my entire being at peace.

The universe has been waiting for me.

With the patience of a lover, she kept calling me from the distance and waiting. . . always waiting.
Beckoning me to breathe a little more deeply
Inspiring me to honor my own rhythm
Asking me to listen to the silence
Empowering me to release what no longer serves me

And I listened. Hineini, Here I am!

***** ***** *****

Yesterday I returned home from the most amazing spiritual retreat I’ve had in over a decade.  After spending nearly five glorious days and nights in South Padre Island at the home of dear friends, I feel more grounded than I have in years.  Sacred time nestled between the Gulf of Mexico on the east, and Laguna Madre on the west was truly a gift in every way.

From the moment I got to my newly found oasis until the moment I left to return home, I felt at peace with the land, the water, the sunrises, the sunsets, the wind, and even the cool weather. I relaxed, I created, I took long walks, and I rested. I felt the sun warm my soul while my friends nourished me in every way.

For so long, I have needed to allow my rhythm to be my guide. I needed the quiet and to put down my ‘to do’ list. I needed to feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin. I needed long walks, awesome food, and love. It feels like forever since I allowed myself to decompress the way I did.

I even took time to watch AWESOME movies, become inspired by some of the most thought-provoking TED Talks. I know my friends wanted to show me the dolphins, the local birds, but all I needed was the water, the sun, and the time we had together.

sunset - bayNext time I need to soar, may I remember to take the time to ground myself with nature, with friends, or if I am lucky – with both. I am so lucky that the universe beckoned to me and that I listened.

South Padre Island nurtured me on down to each and every one of my cells. My heart feels a little more whole, my spirit feels more grounded even as it soars, and I feel ready for the rhythm of the next six or so weeks. I needed this sacred time so that I could refuel for all that is ahead!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,

Chava

 

 

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The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

by William Stafford From Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems. 
Graywolf Press (January 7, 2014).

As a little girl, my father would cup both of his hands over my ears and say, “Listen to the quiet.” Each and every time he did this a calmness washed over my spirit. While my father has been gone for 17.5 years, I have never forgotten that sensation or released my longing to ‘listen to the quiet’.

Over the last several years, I have become aware that I am navigating a life with many moving parts; I often find myself overwhelmed and struggling how to get my to do list done and show up for life in a healthy way. As a seeker, this has invited me to find options for how to best nurture my spirit and to literally practice being me.

100 Collection.2

Making Artist’s Cards is only one of my daily practices. 

The great news is that creating and doing practices comes naturally to me. While some of them could have been considered detrimental in my youth or for moments in time, today they tend to be quite beautiful and grounding. I am the person I am because I take significant time to ‘listen to the quiet’ and to honor my needs.

Making conscious choices for how I spend my time has truly made it possible for me to process the darkness that has been known to blanket my being. I feel deeply and love unabashedly. My heart has been shattered by those I should have been able to trust and by those that have loved me differently then I have wanted. I don’t tend to do well with a broken heart; my entire being seems to hold that feeling unable to emerge with ease.

While this truth is painful for me, the awareness has lead me to engage in healing practices. In the last eight months or so, I have found a new rhythm that includes new rituals or what I prefer to call daily practices. They have empowered me to move forward and to better embrace self-care. Yes, I feel the wounds of my broken heart and spirit, but they don’t devastate me. I am choosing to live within my truth. I am practicing being me!

I love how I walk through the world and how on a good day I radiate light. Yes there is sadness, but it is what it is. What matters is how I move forward and that I always choose to move forward. Creating practices has literally saved my life; it has given me tools to cope and made me stronger for living with all the moving parts of my life.

I am able to thrive because of what I do to take care of my body, my mind, and my soul. Here are some of my daily rituals/practices:

Morning Rituals:

  1. Make my bed
  2. Drink water:
    • two cups – usually room temperature
    • with apple cider vinegar
    • with fenugreek seeds
    • with spices (aryuvedic )
  3. Peel and eat 12 raw almonds with local honey (Peeling raw almonds that have been soaking in water is a real meditative treat.)

Daily practices

  1. Journaling – My daily check in helps me negotiate whatever is weighing on my spirit. Only through journaling can I really find out what I think and what I feel, what I need and what will help me to better function.
  2. Reading books – Right now I am working on four:
    • Becoming by Michelle Obama
    • Practice Me  by Elena Brower (This inspired me to write this blog.)
    • Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, & Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford AND
    • Diana, An Allegory of Awakening Herself by Martha Beck (This book just arrived and will be started tonight.)
  3. Making Artists cards using watercolor and words of empowerment
  4. Keeping the kitchen sink clean and clear

Regular Practices (4-5 times/week)

  1. Walking 10,000 + steps
  2. Listening to AMAZING podcasts while I walk
  3. Chanting/Prayer
  4. Deep breathing exercises and/or meditation

Developing Practices (I am always trying to make healthy choices, but I haven’t quite mastered the following, but I am fairly consistent :). . .)

  1. Yoga in the morning – I made it through one week, but felt really sore. . .tomorrow I start again.
  2. Nutritious smoothie
  3. Eating vegetables with every meal
  4. No sweets and almost no sugar

When I picked up the book Practice Me last week, I was blown away by how well I am doing it. I am living as authentically and constantly working on the non-negotiables in my life. And I am learning, always learning about how I can show up and live life more fully.

What practices do you do that make you a healthier you?

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – Keep your eyes open for later today or tomorrow when I share my practices for nurturing our world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.)

From the Narrow place I called out to God
who answered me with the Divine Expanse. (Psalm 118:5) 
Translated/Interpreted by Rabbi Shefa Gold

There is nothing normal about me. In fact, I fit no where, but find my place in nearly every space I choose to go. In many ways this is gift and yet I find myself bound by the world I am building and the sacred space I am craving.

Here is the the thing, as we move into 5779 (the Jewish New Year), I am profoundly aware that I have little to say to those that believe in Trump or believe in Israel’s current government. I have no patience for those that stand in a world that does not consider “others”. I find the people that want to build walls to be deplorable at best.

Day 29 - Build BridgesAnd yet, I know all of us need to find a way to meet in the middle if we are to build a world with more love and less hate.

I am struggling – really struggling.

There must be something beyond the dysfunction of our world. There is so much work to be done, but it isn’t going to happen if we don’t find some middle ground or build at least a few bridges.

Today I am finding myself looking deep into my soul and hoping that I can find the inner strength to build bridges in all areas of my life. While politics may feel the most daunting right now, they are also a symptom of my spirit not being as grounded as it needs to be.

May this year be a year for building bridges and crossing the insurmountable divides.

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

Once I figure out my thoughts around those I love and what I believe, I tend to hold them deep within my spirit for what feels like eternity. The only challenge is that relationships change and so do the issues. Over time everything evolves and people or things that once seemed unimportant become more prominent in our lives. And what once seemed unimaginable becomes the image that invades your thoughts. Politics has continuously reinforced that last thought.

Transformation happens.

“To transform the world,
we must begin with ourselves.

~J. Krishnamurti

As an activist, as a woman, as a friend, and as a mother, I have had to learn to release my desire to hold fast to my ideas. Time and again, I have become enlightened by new information. Feelings change, circumstances change, and it’s my job to ride the waves and do the work of transformation.

As hard as it is for me, I have watched myself change so much over the years. While I have always been Jewish, the denominations I have connected to have varied from time to time; today I am much more grounded in a more ecstatic Judaism. Once I was married, now I am not. My sons have taught me since birth to honor where they are and  we all know that children are always changing; today my sons are on their own journeys as adults. And I have lost lovers and friends, but I have also gained some precious new ones.

The political environment in the US and in Israel have given me many moments of pause. While I was once silent and completely uninformed, now I am far from it. Most of my life I didn’t consider labor practices or the realities of climate change, now I can’t get them out of my mind. I never thought that I would feel compelled to become an ally for LGBTQ or a witness to such blatant racism within our society. And the devastating conditions that refugees are forced to endure at the hands of our government is appalling.

Day 14 - OnwardToday, I have to keep showing up to whatever is in front of me. Moving forward is not an option. If someone needs me or an issue is calling to my attention, I have to find out what I can do to make this world a better place.

My job is to live life fully and out loud. It is to remain empowered “to do the next right thing” (Glennon Doyle) even as I live in the “marvelous messy middle” (SARK). Yes life is not as easy as I’d like, but I am so blessed to be always be moving forward.

How about you? How are you moving forward in your life?

Onward with love, light, & creativity,
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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