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Posts Tagged ‘movement’

Writing
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul;
Is what makes me WHOLE.

In the last few weeks, my writing has gotten me more in touch with a new internal rhythm. I have found myself filling my schedule with solitude. I am craving quiet in a way that I have never done before.

An old fashioned planner is starting to take shape and allowing me to become more accountable not only to my solitude, but also my work and my health journey. Very consciously, I am making choices on how to navigate time. As serendipity would have it, I I found this amazing quote presumably by Henry David Thoreau as I was beginning to write this blog entry.

‘Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it,
the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you,
it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”

black butterflyI am being drawn to actively engage in life through choosing a more conscious way of moving forward with my daily life.

Why now? AND How will it look?

Health Journey – I want to be the healthiest I can be. So, I have made some AMAZING changes in my life over the last couple of months.

  • Diet – I am eating:
    • three healthy meals a day.
    • no added sweeteners in my diet. The exception is that I do drink alcohol occasionally.
    • almost no animal products.
    • or drinking lots of water and no sodas!!!!
    • mostly whole foods.
  • Movement –¬†I am seeing myself as someone who can live life actively.
    • Each day I am walking 10,000 steps in the morning and I am also taking walks in the evening.
    • Next summer, I hope to take four to six weeks and bike along the west coast. The plan is to drive to British Columbia and then travel south towards Northern California and beyond as possible. Taking each day to explore the world via my bike. I have yet to map out the trip, explore the financial feasibility of making this happen, or to purchase the bike I will train on. BUT I have decided that I will make some version of this trip happen; I am so excited!
    • In the fall, I will purchase a new or used bike and start my training including how to make simple bike repairs. Wondering if anyone in Houston is up for teaching me. ūüôā
    • Even this past weekend, my oldest son and I took a trip to Austin and basically walked and walked some more. We had high hopes of going to some artsy areas, but found ourselves drawn to simply taking in the downtown area.
  • Overall Health Exploration – Simply doing what I have to do.
    • At this point, I have lost about 25 lbs since June. While I seem to have temporarily plateaued, I am simply continuing to make more right choices daily. The weight and my health will continue in a fabulous direction as I continue my health journey.
    • Recently went for a physical and found out that I no longer pre-diabetic for the first time in decades. Now I am working on lowering my cholesterol through exercise and eating better.
    • Just had my vision checked, purchased a new prescription for my glasses, and new glasses. The best part about this vision journey is that I can now see.
    • Recently saw my orthopedic surgeon as follow-up because my back has been hurting.
    • Will have my annual mammogram and bone density scan next week. It was scheduled for last week, but the office called to let me know that the air conditioner was not working. If this had been six months ago, I would have yet to reschedule.
    • Waiting for the results for my brca test to see if I have the genes that will up my chances in having breast or ovarian cancer.
    • Still need to schedule my colonoscopy. . .this seems to be the one appointment I have yet to make. I’ve called, but for some reason, I do not have an appointment yet. I will make that happen before the end of the day.
    • Finally, I need to see the dentist. It’s time. . .it has been far too long.
  • Sleep – I am trying to allow myself more time to sleep. So far, I am not as successful as I’d like to be. And yet, I am going to take a nap in a few minutes.
  • Spiritual Journey
    • Taking time to explore SARK via her books and a facebook group.
    • Listening to podcasts by people that make my heart sing.
    • Allowing for more time to chant and pray daily
    • Looking forward to my Elul journey as I prepare for Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.
    • Studying Torah each week and helping a friend write her D’var Torah or sermon for her upcoming anniversary of her Bat Mitzvah.
  • Creative Journey – Let me count the ways :). . .
    • Writing daily
      • journaling
      • working on my book (and deciding if it needs to be two)
    • Creating Vision Boards – I even lead a vision board workshop a little over a week ago and can’t wait to lead another one.
    • Doodling
    • Trying to do some watercolor
    • Being inspired¬† by AWESOME podcasts and books

All of this and more is leading me to make different decisions in how I navigate life. I have decided to allow for the quiet by engaging in far less chatter. So for now, I will not take as much time connecting with friends, social media, and the news.

For the next nearly 60 days until after all the fall Jewish holidays are over, I will focus inward. I will do whatever it takes to love my body, my mind, and definitely my soul. I will use this time to dig deeper and explore through my journaling and doodling what it is I want and need to live a more holy and grounded life.

Most of my life has been filled with what I think I should do and less about what my spirit needs to thrive. I am at a fabulous crossroads right now; this is the perfect time for me to go inward and make some decisions about how I am going to best nourish my life and reach for all that I want. (Note: Inspired by Elle Luna’s book,¬†The Crossroads of Should and Must.)

Reality check

Tikkun Olam – Repairing the World

While I’d love to go completely inward, there is a lot going on in the world that needs my attention.

  • We have less than 100 days to get elected officials that will speak more for human beings and for love of our world.
  • We also have children and parents that need need be reunited.
  • Accountability needs to happen both in the United States and Israel.

This is not the time for me to shut down completely.

#The100DayProject – I will be starting this project in just less than a week; I am still exploring my options, but I have a few GREAT ideas.

Will you join me? Starting Sunday, August 12/1 Elul through Tuesday, November 20/12 Kislev would love to play with others in generally a solitary activity. “Basically, if you can dream it, you can do it. The only premise? Participants have to do the same action every day for 100 days, and they have to document every instance of 100. Sounds totally cool, right?” For more information check out this link,¬†#The100DayProject.

For the first time in years, I am excited (and really nervous) about the possibilities that are surrounding me. The last several years have been really full, but today I am blessed with the ability to go mostly inward with a goal of living authentically in every way.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

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December 2016 - looking out into water

While not a selfie, this is my favorite photo of me in the world! I love the Bay!

Today is Day 17 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.

~ ~ ~

Life is messy.

As a writer, a dreamer, and a seeker, my world is feeling a little daunting right now as I navigate new beginnings. With each step, I am embracing the journey – even the hard parts.

Somehow I am able to stay afloat – most of the time.

And then there are days when I’d like to curl up on the beach and just let the waves soothe my spirit, but I simply don’t have time for that. Instead I have some tools that help me to keep riding the waves through:

  1. writing/journaling as much as possible.
  2. listening to inspirational podcasts, Ted Talks, and now Facebook lives.
  3. chanting, drumming, breathing, meditation, and other mindful practices.
  4. taking time for creativity and movement.
  5. dealing with the hard stuff even if it makes me cry.

Always stretching, growing, and evolving.

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

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“We are all here for some special reason.
Stop being a prisoner of your past.
Become the architect of your future.”
R
obin Sharma, Author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Each year during the Jewish month of Elul (usually in August) through Rosh HaShana, we take the time to do a cheshbon hanefesh, an inventory of our soul.  For me that means taking the time to reflect deeply about the gifts and challenges of the last year, but this is also simply a kinetic time of year. As a Jewish professional, I am working to prepare the community for new beginnings which include the High Holy Days, school, and new programming.  As a mother, I am helping my now mostly grown sons begin their next chapters.  And in the midst of all this, I am usually feeling the need to write and look inward.

The holidays themselves are not easy for me because it is challenging to stay in a spiritual space when you are in charge of so many logistics. Yet the moment Tashlich occurs, I realize that I need to take time to go onward and allow for reflection.  Tashlich is a ritual which usually takes place on first day of Rosh Hashanah in the late afternoon.  During this time the participants symbolically cast off their sins by gathering along the banks of a river, stream, or the like and reciting prayers of repentance.  While many people choose to do this ritual in community, I love to do it alone.

And this year, I have decided to create Tashlich moments again and again. ¬†This is a year of letting go, of saying good-bye to what was and embracing the beauty that is. In the last several months, I have been blessed to rethink my career path, my relationships, and much of my life. ¬†None of this is easy, but it has been made easier because of my private journaling, my very public blogging, and some very beautiful friends. ¬†I haven’t been alone and yet I have needed to spend a lot of time alone as a way of giving myself the room to gaze deeply into my soul.

On a good day, the journaling strikes chord after chord, but this doesn’t happen all the time or even most of the time. ¬†More often than not, I am left with a rhythm that isn’t quite working for me. ¬†I am a work in progress. At times the¬†work has been bitter sweet; sometimes it is actually heart wrenching; and once the puzzle pieces come together, it can be beautiful. ¬†Soul-searching is an art form¬†and I am learning with each breath I take.

Writing ¬†is the most profound tool that helps me find center, but that isn’t my only means to finding balance. ¬†My world is full of chanting, drumming and physically moving (sometimes dance and sometimes hiking).¬†¬†In the midst of all the soul work, my sons keep me grounded and remind me that while I have a lot of work to do, I am actually doing well! ¬†My world is in fact quite amazing; I have all that I need and much of what I want.

As fortunate as I am, there is still work to be done. One way of moving forward is to create Tashlich moments by letting go of all that is holding me back.  Last night, it meant that it was time to get rid of a ton of clutter; I deleted thousands of emails from personal and professional relationships that no longer served me well.  In most cases, it was simply about not needing those particular emails; in other cases it was time to say good-bye to old connections. The delete button became a co-conspirator in propelling to close some doors as a way to open new doors. The goal is to make room for my next chapters and to celebrate what is.

As I woke up this morning, I was acutely aware that there was a shift within me.  The rays of sunlight were slowly warming me up and nudging me toward the many gifts that are very much a part of my life today. I am feeling (perhaps) like a butterfly as it begins to take flight.  Last night, I said good-bye to the cocoon that was binding in a myriad of ways.  With each passing moment, the bindings release and my wings are spreading; there is no turning back for me.

Support for my Tashlich moment when I opened up Facebook this morning to find the photo of  the Topsail Island beach where a group of my close friends are gathering this week.  While I am not with them physically, the photo reminded me that I am not alone.  Once I saw that photo, I realized that outside my front door is the space to create my own Tashlich moment.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Topsail, NC Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

Topsail, North Carolina – Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

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Big Lake  Photo Courtesy of Libby Quinn

Big Lake
Photo Courtesy of Libby Quinn

Life is full of chatter, senseless noise that people believe have a purpose.  Yet, it is the quiet between movement and noise that touches me deeply.

The space between the words and the notes are powerful.  The quiet between the crash of the waves and the leaves blowing in the wind seems to energize even the most tranquil of beaches and forests.

May we all be blessed to find the silence that propels us to new heights.  May the silence within lead us closer to our inner beauty.

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Last night we counted Day 24 of the Omer, which is 3 weeks and three days of the counting of the Omer. Today is referred to as Tiferet sheh b’Netzach, beauty within endurance.

Writers_Clock_ Black

To me there is nothing as beautiful as someone who is actively and passionately engaged in some aspect of life over a long period of time.  This could doing acts of Tikun Olam (Repairing the World) or an art form or maybe even someone who loves some aspect of physical movement.  Beauty comes from loving to learn and sharing that love with others.  Passion and drive take incredible amounts of endurance.

May we all find the drive and passion that fills us with beauty as we develop, grow, and move forward.

 

 

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Teaching always jazzes my soul.

Prayer makes my soul sing.

Blending both is pretty close to ecstasy.

Last week, I had the opportunity to navigate the world of prayer in a way I have never before experienced.  I was asked to be a substitute teacher for an amazing adult education class on Basic Judaism.  The subject was in essence about navigating liturgy.

my favorite siddurim

my favorite siddurim,           not my only ones

At first, I was apprehensive! I am so off beat when it comes to my own prayer practice.  I love prayer, but in my own practice incorporates many modalities not found in most of the communities I have lived and worked.  I wanted to share my love of prayer while still helping people develop the foundation or understanding to feel more comfortable within worship services.

With a heavy heart I began thinking about how do I honor the community I work while sharing the excitement for prayer that is intrinsic in my own¬†spiritual¬†practice. ¬†As soon as I started the heavy heart was replaced with my excitement for teaching. ¬†I loved this class; nearly every learner was engaged in some way. ¬†And in the end, I brought my full self into teaching. ¬†In truth, I could have taught for another two or three hours, but that wasn’t in the cards. ¬†ūüôā

Later, I realized that I hope to one day teach a full liturgy course to engaged adult learners. I want to teach much of what I did with a focus on specific prayers and where they come in the service. ¬†I want to share how I use chanting, drumming, movement, and reflection within my prayer practice. ¬†I want to empower those that want to play with prayer to play. ¬†I want folks to learn that prayer is within their heart, but it can also be found in some¬†phenomenal siddurim (prayer books) too.¬†Growing a strong foundation within prayer comes from knowledge. ¬†Perhaps one day, I will have the opportunity to do just that. ¬†Until then, I will find the prayers within my soul and keep on praying. ¬†The good news is that since the class last week, I have heard from 7 of the students either with questions or with excitement. . . so maybe, just maybe. . . ūüôā

Many people have helped guide my spiritual journey.  Beautiful souls that have prayed with their entire  being have guided me with their teachings and with their full heart.  Musicians and singers, cantors and rabbis of all denominations, the CAJE community, the Renewal community, and Reconstructionists have all  inspired me to embrace prayer with my entire being.  My teachers have come from so many different places; it was with these experiences that I stepped into the adult education class last week.

One of my favorite prayers is the Barkhu.  In the Barkhu, the leader calls the kehillah, the community, to prayer.  And one of my favorite versions was adatped by Lev Friedman.

Barkhu,  Dear One, Shekhinah, Holy Name, when I call on the Light of my Soul, I come home.

This call and response Barkhu helps center me and reminds me of the power that is not only around me, but within me.  After I pray using this version of Barkhu, I feel fully ready to become one with prayer and to reach within myself to pray with an open heart.

May we each be called to the prayer of our hearts as we navigate the world around us.

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Gary’s Garden¬†courtesy¬†of Gary Tenen

The Garden Song written by David Mallett is an metaphor for my life, probably most of our lives.  Whenever I try to navigate a new skill or a new job or when I try to wrap my head around something that I struggle to understand, the below words come into my head:

Inch by inch, row by row

Gonna Make this garden grow

Gonna mulch it deep and low

Gonna make it fertile ground

The last few years have been full of new opportunities to push myself in new directions. ¬†With each step I have essentially been forced or maybe inspired to explore how I will¬†take¬†each step. ¬†While I sometimes appear to be self assured and even brave, that isn’t always the case. I struggle with the desire to soar in everything I do, yet I can’t possibly be all that I want to be. ¬†It is what is is.

This week alone, I have started learning how to weed a large garden.  Slowly.  I am still getting to know a new community with all of the gifts and challenges.  I hiked on a mountain and for the first time in decades, I really struggled with a ridiculously easy trek.  With each of these new experiences, I have to remember that it takes time to feel comfortable with new experiences.

Life takes work.  In order to move through life experiences, I have to remember that the choice of how I will step is mine alone.  Sometimes baby steps propel me forward; other times I leap.  There is a time and a place for both types of movement.   Only through movement will I move forward, will I learn I new skill, will I gain insight. Only through movement will I succeed in my endeavors.

For me, there is incredible beauty in remembering that I really can move ‘Inch by inch” . . . Here’s John Denver’s version.

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