Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘making a difference’

Lori took of Ren crossing the bridge

Photo Courtesy of Lori Fortang taking a beautiful photo of her beloved Ren crossing the bridge.

The world is feeling a little dark lately.

Am I unique in this journey? Nope. . .I am really not. I am surrounded by friends that are grappling in very similar ways; they are actively engaging as seekers who simply want to make the world a better place.

In fact a couple of days ago, I asked my friends via Facebook, “Does anyone else feel like they are ‘on a narrow bridge’?” Twenty-eight people responded with the emoticons (like, love,  sad) and about thirteen people had more to say. The good news and the bad news is that I have now confirmed that I am not alone.

With every fiber of my being I struggle with the harsh realities that continue to permeate our world, the world of those I love, and even my own personal life. Devastation and destruction can be found everywhere. The world’s climate is struggling at every turn. And people I love are in their own depths of despair. Life is hard.

Here is a taste of what is filling my soul:

  • Our political climate is a disaster.
  • How could our Trump have been elected to be our next President?
  • Finances are tight, but we are navigating.
  • How could prejudice and hatred have so much momentum?
  • The Middle East is a disaster and Africa isn’t much better.
  • The Standing Rock Protests in North Dakota Pipeline are breaking my heart. I want to stand with our brothers and sisters. I want to physically support them with my presence.
  • Sometimes I can’t make a difference in the lives of those I love.
  • I am struggling to stay connected with all of life’s moving parts.
  • I could use help cleaning my house.

When I allow the painful rhythm of the world to carry my spirit, I can find myself lost with a sense of unrelenting helplessness. The beauty is that the moments don’t last, but they seem to be surfacing a little too often these days.

This rawness can easily control my spirit if I allow it to.What I have learned over time is that I have to allow the deep sadness to visit, but I also have to do the work to mitigate it. So that is what I am doing by:

  • Surrounding myself with people that nurture my spirit and share my core values.
  • Letting go of “anything or anyone that that does not bring you alive.” David Whyte
  • Embracing the many truths that are part of my life and becoming transparent with each step.
  • Eating better and doing more self care. over a month with nearly no sugar!!! 🙂
  • Standing up for what I believe in!
  • Donating money to causes that move my soul – not a lot, but what I can.
  • Painting and writing, journaling and doodling

With every step, I am actively engaged in the journey of life. Living life fully is not optional; there is too much work to be done. Still some days, I have to listen to the quiet voice that is talking to me and allow for myself to hear the messages of my soul.

Traveling the very narrow bridge means I am moving forward. . . and wow how beautiful is it that I am not alone!

Onward towards the light,
Chava

Read Full Post »

“The words are purposes.
The words are maps.”
~ Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck

Congested

In so many ways the world is so very dark and yet perhaps we need to look through different eyes. It is time to open our eyes a little wider and listen more deeply.

Yes – Bureaucratic hatred is rampant under the guise of conservative realism. Yes – Human rights are being thwarted by those that lack the ability to consider life outside their own castles. Yes – Climate Change is a farce (NOT!) and the nearly 97 percent climate scientists are wrong.

The prevailing opinions of many of today’s conservatives are hard to stomach. Some believe it is time to cleanse the United States by rounding up that say Allahu Akbar or connect to the core religious tenets of Islam. And if you a black person, you better consider keeping your hands up and make no sudden moves when you encounter many of the police officers who are protecting our cities. (I know not all officers act this way.) And it didn’t seem fair that I had to prepare my Native American son to look people in the eyes and speak clearly or else he may be seen as an immigrant and treated poorly.  (Note: Of course I want my son to speak clearly, but I wish it wasn’t fear or anticipation that made me drive him nuts with my corrections.)

While I could get stuck in this deplorable place, I am choosing to look at the world through a different lens.

Instead of focusing on the darkness, I am celebrating those that inspire me to reach outside myself and take care of the world – all of the world. I am doing exactly as Mr. Rogers said by “looking for the helpers”. There are so many people working towards impacting the world for good and honoring human rights at every turn.

Blessings are flowing in every crevice of our society.  There are so many people doing what they can for tikkun olam, repairing the world.  There are those that are:

  • working with the homeless population.
  • educating people to see refugees as people that have the right to thrive without daily doses of terror.
  • creating opportunities to help every facet of the human race.
  • engaging in a Two State solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • rejuvenate our environment to lesson the impact of climate change.
  • healing the sick and doing their best to wipe out AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
  • standing up with and for Black Lives Matter.
  • speaking out for the immigrants and doing all they can to support their presence in the United States.
  • trying to stop the NRA from controlling as they do and hopefully one day eliminating the terror that they seem to instigate with their policies.
  • and so much more. . . .

In this moment, I am trying to decide whether to do as much as I can in many different areas that need change or do I simply do the my part in only one aspect of tikkun olam (repairing the world}. Passion literally courses through my veins. Caring about human beings, means that I find shutting down so very challenging to do. While I know that I am not alone, I feel relieved that many are doing their part to improve the world. My job is to figure out where my power lies.  For this moment, I love knowing that I do find ways to make a difference. Even though, I often navigate how to best use my voice, I love knowing that I do not walk in silence. I use my voice, my actions, and my teachings to make a difference for good.

I do my best to do what I can. How about you?????  There is a huge world out there that needs our voices, our actions.

May I never forget that my voice and my actions have power.
May I always use my voice and my actions for good.

May we all remember that we are part of ONE RACE – HUMAN!!!

Read Full Post »

“It is not up to us to complete the task
(of repairing the world).
Yet neither are we free to desist.”
~Pirikei Avot 2:21

Making a difference matters to me. With every ounce of my being, I realize that taking care of not only myself, but my community and the larger world have to become the forefront of my existence.  While I have done my part, I truly believe I need to do more.

ChavaWithKippah21Nov2015

Don’t get me wrong, I know that I haven’t done nothing to make the world a better place. I have given many dogs a safe home for the remainder of their lives; I have opened my home to a homeless, pregnant woman and her toddler, as well as those that needed a place to stay for a long while; the environment and making conscious living choices have guided my every step; human rights is always being addressed in my shopping choices, my politics, and my teaching others. As much as possible, I walk the walk and I talk the talk. I’ve started a nonprofit and stood up for what I believed in.

I have also had years when I had to step back and take care of my family more than the world around me.  Those years were hard because I always felt like I wanted to do more, but that just wasn’t reality. There were years when I stood by my son’s hospital bed so that he would one day thrive again. And he did.  And the best part of that journey is that he now actively engages in the journey, as does his younger brother. We all do our best to make the world a better place.

Over the last few months, I have been settling in my new home in a new city, Houston.  As is often the case, many of us compartmentalize during transitions. I was no different.  But the last few weeks has created a sense of despair for me. Our presidential candidates have been talking about immigrants, refugees, and the Muslim people as if they were the lowest of human beings. I have hated watching victims turned into villains.

Politicians want to turn the Syrian refugees back to the brutality of their homeland.  How disgusting!!!!

Last night, as I was feeling despondent over the realities of the Syrian refugees, I received an email from MoveOn.org telling me about a local rally, Texas Stands With Syrian Refugees.

YES!!!

I couldn’t believe how driven I felt to go. Even the questionable weather didn’t matter.  Nothing could stand in the way of my desire to go to THIS rally. Over the last week, I have written letters, called politicians, but still I felt like I needed to do more and I also felt so alone with each task.

Earlier this week my older son asked me if we would do our part to help the refugees and I said ‘absolutely’. There is no question that I will help if I can figure out how.  I barely have what I need and yet I would open my home in EVERY way I could.  Our family may be struggling, but we really do have all of our needs met.

Over the last decade, I have stood up against domestic violence, Darfur, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, slave labor, and consumerism.  I have helped all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. I have also done my part to care for our environment and animals – although not enough.

But this past week pushed me over the edge. I found myself feeling such intense pain for those that need so much. Every fiber of my being was yearning to hang with people that believed as I did, people that wanted to help those in need of help.  So receiving the email talking about the rally was perfect.

In truth, yesterday’s action felt more poignant, maybe even personal, then many of the3 cultures 21Nov2015 other actions I have participated in over the years.

In case you are wondering why. . . . Back in the late 1920’s or early 30’s, my father’s family escaped from Kiev. Pogroms could have crippled his family, but they never actually succeeded. Instead my grandfather Yidel, his wife Esther, and their two children Jack and Phil made it to Canada where they survived and even thrived having two more children, my father-Morry and his little brother Sid. Had they not escaped, they would have potentially died or suffered great losses. While my father’s immediate family survived, there were many people that were left behind and some of those were killed because they did not have the ability to reach freedom.  As a matter of fact, there is no that we know of who was left behind or that has survived to this day. Between the pogroms and the Holocaust, the only family that survived were the ones that got away.

To make it simple, my brother and I are alive today because my father’s family got away.  Had my grandfather stayed in Kiev, my brother and I would never have been born.

Chava with Federico Salas-Isnardi and Donna Olson-Salas. 21Nov2015

From left to right, Donna Olson- Salas and Federico Salas-Isnardi with me at Texas Stands With Syrian Refugees Rally

What I am learning about our my socially active journey is that none of us could do what we do alone. Today, I connected with passionate people who were willing to do their part to make a difference. None of us are islands. With the political climate what it is today, I am so grateful for the new friends and my friends all over the globe that are doing their part.

“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

A few years ago, I created a nonprofit called My Second Foundation for adult survivors (or what I call thrivers) of childhood trauma. What I learned during the initial process of creating my organization is that you need a village. While I am only now starting to consider how to fully make my nonprofit thrive, I have learned that we all need to help those that are struggling. There is nothing acceptable about anyone suffering from violence of any type or poor health due to poverty.  We have enough resources in this world to keep people safe, so we all need to do our part.  It really is not optional.

And as for me, I am also choosing to do whatever I can to make sure that the human race does not perpetuate another genocide if at all possible. Haven’t there been enough?

Yesterday’s action seemed so simple, but with our current political climate and the ‘limited’ thinking of many, our village needs to stand firm and do WHATEVER we can to save a life. And let’s make sure there is NO QUESTION!

STAY LOUD. STAY CLEAR….REFUGEES ARE WELCOME HERE!

All lives matter!

Read Full Post »

Sandbox - Facebook comment2

Two nights ago, I went to hear a lecture at the local Jewish Book Fair.  The good news is that before that the other night, I had I had never been repulsed by a writer that I had taken time to hear.  Oh well, there is always a first.

After leaving the book fair, I wanted to take a shower so that I could cleanse myself from all the scummy energy and then find a way to connect with the world around me.

Photo Credit: Cara Debusk

Photo Credit: Cara Debusk

I am growing so tired of hatred, lies, and the stark realities of the world. Instead of always being focused on the tough stuff, I want to take all my favorite people, my imaginary friends, and perhaps a few friends of friends, and go to a sandbox and simply play.  Old fashioned sandcastles have never looked so good.

I am not alone in wanting a play date.

On Thursday night, I posted on Facebook, “The only friends I want are the ones that can really play in the sandbox. . . . the rest are probably a waste of time.:) What followed that posting makes my heart sing. My friends offered their shovels, their buckets, the uncomfortable realities of sand, and a strong desire to play with me. Twenty people liked the photo in just a couple hours and a few left comments over the following day.

We all are looking to play in the sandbox whether it be for real or metaphorically.

Photo Credit: Shoshanna Schechter-Shaffin

If more of us took time to play together, our world would be a lot brighter. Taking time to play and create strips away some of the barriers that come when all you do is focus on the differences or the challenges that exist.

Whether we cook together, finger-paint together, or make sandcastles together, playing will always allow for our hearts to emerge and giggles to emanate into the world.  Once that happens, we can really make a difference for good.

Who is going to join me in the sandbox?

Read Full Post »

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 . . . .]

Lake Audubon - courtesy of Shay Seaborne

Lake Audubon – courtesy of Shay Seaborne            

 “The sea is only drops of water that have come together.”
Quote by Desmond Tutu

~ ~ ~

I’ve been blessed, really blessed. My body is strong, my mind is clear, my heart is open, and all five of my senses help me navigate the world. My spirit has always found a way to soar. Whenever I have been sick, I have healed. So while I may not be the most coordinated or have the ability to hear thunder in the distance, I can do do my part to take care of the world.

My voice is strong. Over the years, I have learned to use my words wisely. Whether I am speaking or writing, I can share what I know, what I think, and what I believe. Insight can only come if I truly listen and if I am critical to all the information that surrounds me. And once I have gained perspective, I can ask more and more questions to gain the clearest picture possible. While all of this is good, What I love most is making people smile, laugh, and even cry when they get lost in the stories I share.

Every part of my body can be used to help another human being. Over the years, I have cooked for homeless and sick: I have helped others walk, stand or move; and I have even done my part to make someone’s home livable. I have listened to those that needed their story to be heard. I have held the hands of people who are getting ready to take their last breath. I have taught children and adults to read and held babies so that their parents could take a moment to care for themselves.

Perhaps the best work that I have done is that of an organizer. In my congregation years ago, I started the group of people that did bikkur holim, caring for the sick and their families. Through that work, I was able to create a team of people that sometimes cooked for families, sometimes took those that were ill to treatment/appointments, or stayed with members of the family when needed. I have also organized families and teens to work in soup kitchens, cook for group homes, make blankets for NICU babies and sick people. By organizing people, I am giving others the opportunity to make a difference too.

The beauty of life is that while I have chosen to give to the best of my abilities, I have also received so much from others. When my family has faced health challenges, friends and strangers alike opened their doors and offered their homes to us. When challenges struck and I didn’t know how I would afford even the simplest of necessities, everything that I needed appeared. At different points during my life, people have given me work and money; a bed to sleep in and food to eat.  In truth, I have been blessed with friends that have seen me clearly and some strangers that emerged at the perfect moment. While I have had to dodge a few metaphoric bullets, I have never been without even the most basic of needs. The blessings abound and always have.

Through watching others, I have learned and continue to learn how valuable and beautiful is to give. I am the person I am because my eyes have witnessed real acts of gemilut chasadim, loving kindness. I have seen homeless or battered women care for one another. I have watched people that have nothing offer their own beds to someone who ran away from an abusive situation. After floods, hurricanes, or natural disasters, I have watched people rush to alleviate the pain or discomfort of others.  So many amazing souls are making a difference through their actions.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world.”

Quote by Anne Frank

There is so much to do – always. May we all learn things we can do and then choose to do what we can.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts