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Posts Tagged ‘pain’

sunset beginning bayIf we open our eyes to possibilities and listen to the messages that surround us, the universe sometimes has a way of giving us tremendous gifts.  Gifts come in many forms, we just have to be willing recipients.

Just over a week ago, I wrote a blog with one of the most important realizations I have had in years.

Given time, healing happens. Hearts mend.
Cleansing tears dry. Insight emerges.
And moving forward becomes a reality.

Somehow I found the guiding voice that had seemed just beyond my grasp a few days earlier. And while I may have thought I believed that all of this was true, it wasn’t.

You see, I had convinced myself that I was in a good place around life’s challenges and losses, but I was lying to myself. My body and heart knew what my mind was trying hard to ignore. When I couldn’t take deep breaths or sleep, I knew that I wasn’t yet where I needed to be.

And then came the year anniversary of a loss that shouldn’t have crippled my spirit, but did. Reflecting back, I know that whatever had happened to me a year ago was simply the ‘a final straw’ that included a decade of pain and saying good-bye.

pelicans - bay sideJust as my spirit was landing in a better space, I was given the gift of a lifetime. My friends who live on South Padre Island, just 360 miles from Houston, invited me spend time with them. At the same time, my amazing boss and loving sons were nudging me to take some time. The universe conspired to have me take time for myself. And everything from the drive to my arrival worked with ease. And my friends have been gracious, loving, and kind with their home and their generosity too. I can’t believe how blessed I am.

I have been given the gift of time to walk for miles near the water, paint, write, doodle, read, watch AWESOME movies, eat good food, and even consume alcohol knowing I didn’t have to drive. And whether I was in solitude or spending time with my friends, I felt the weight of the world lift and pain dissipate. I even made a couple of new friends that I can not wait to see again!

closer up selfie - relaxed on the waterFinding some inner strength, becoming more grounded, and taking some well needed to simply breathe and enjoy life was AWESOME. While money may be tight, I should have taken this time a long time ago. Maybe all I needed was a vacation.

Onward with gratitude, light, & love,

Chava

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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.)

Day 18 -Choose Life 1‘Choose Life’ is a mantra that I say every day. Yes, I often struggle with my wide-open spirit and I feel with a depth that I sometimes wish I could lessen. And yet, I show up – always. The below blog could have been written by me today. Only I am not drumming and chanting as I should. This weekend, I am taking a long weekend. With a full heart, I think I need to take the time to reconnect with my drumming and chanting.

(Originally written in November, 2013)

From beginning to end, yesterday was challenging and full of gifts too.  Sigh and yay!!!6730685121_996af44d65

The only thing that got me through was drumming and chanting niguunim (melodies).  As my heart was hyperventilating, I took time to release the energy through drumming and chanting.  With each beat of the drum, I released the tension in my soul; with each deep breath followed by my chanting, I felt my sadness leave me.

What affected me the most was the deep sadness that surrounded me at nearly every turn.  So many folks were struggling with real darkness and others were just creating challenges through their actions.  For those that were struggling with their own darkness or perhaps their own demons, I found myself wishing I could share with them this beautiful rendition of Katy Perry’s Roar by Olivia Wise who is currently suffering from brain cancer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_An8xNwupo

Olivia’s rendition of Perry’s Roar brought tears to my eyes and deep pain to my heart. Imagining what Olivia and her family are facing hurts; I can relate and yet I can’t.  After years of the deep pain that accompanied Aryeh’s illness and to the pain that has at times accompanied my life, I couldn’t stop crying.  Life is such a gift and some people can’t find the gifts that are in front them.  Olivia made this video so that those who love her will always hear her ‘Roar”.  How beautiful is that?!?!?!

As I write, Olivia is more unconscious than conscious; her wakeful moments are few and far between.  What her family is telling the world is that Liv woke each day seeking light and finding light too.  While none of us can do that all the time, I wish more folks would go out of their way to find light and make things work with each step.

If I could make a difference for even a moment, I would shatter the illusion that there is no way around pain.

For nearly five years, I watched my son struggle for life and yet I almost never gave in to the darkness.  I always, always, always reached for life and light even as I accepted what could have been inevitable.

With every ounce of my being, I wish that the people around me could find the gifts in the challenges instead of reaching for the darkness and letting that darkness be their guide.

Choose life.

The rhetoric of the anti-abortion world and the teaching of Deuteronomy is perfect for this moment.  While I am far from the anti-abortion world, I do choose life.  Every day, I choose to wake up and find the light within the challenges.  Darkness rarely encompasses my heart and soul.

Choosing life is what I do.

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
L
ouder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.’
K
aty Perry’s Roar

My son Aryeh is alive.  How ironic it is that Aryeh’s name means lion.  He is alive. In spite of a fatal diagnosis at times, he has always decided to be a thriver that is very much alive.  We are all alive; each and every one in my family is alive and thriving and yes, even roaring.

Yesterday as I sat in the midst of so much pain, watched some folks make troubling choices, and also experienced little things getting blown out of proportion, I wanted to help others find the light when only darkness seemed to persevere.

There are so many people like Olivia or Aryeh that choose life until no more breaths can be made.  There are so many folks that have chosen to thrive as opposed to bury their head in the sand.  May those folks be our role model.

May we all find our ‘Roar’.

PS – I forgot to mention, I saw some beautiful, vibrant life yesterday.  I met people on the street that grapple with life and win.  From a distance, I watched my dear friend and his wife move towards the impending death of their father and father-in-law.  I also watched beautiful young minds embrace their own love of learning.  And finally, I had a delightful evening with my son.

While darkness surrounded me, it wasn’t part of me.  Still, may I, and those that are part of my life always remember to ‘Roar’.

Onward with love, light, creativity, & action,
Chava

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

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years ago I was afforded the opportunity to remain silent for nearly 8 days. a dear friend of mine gave me the keys to his log cabin in the Berkshires which was located in rural western Massachusetts. the time was magical, challenging, beautiful, and wildly needed.

being alone in that silence was a powerful time for me and it became the most transformative time in my life. it was there I cried out the atrocities that I faced in my childhood and began to release the pain. it was there that I found the courage to change my name and allow for further transformation. it was there that I found the inner strength to ask Michael for a divorce (the first time). it was there that I realized that I had the spirit to accomplish what I wanted to in life.

with each step and with each passing day I became profoundly  aware that I am and always will be a work in progress.  each step allowed for stretching, growing, and becoming more grounded in the person I am. the 8 days lead me to new heights and allowed me to face some very real realities too.

Mendocino CA-Sandra G. Wortzel

Mendocino, California Photo Courtesy of Sandra G. Wortzel

moving forward. . .
until this afternoon, I hadn’t realized that I haven’t had real time alone in so very long, perhaps even years. I guess I now understand why I have been feeling like I am on overload; I need to allow for more quiet in my life. while I don’t currently have 8 full days, I will take as much time as I can over the next 11 days when my sons are visiting their dad and grandmother. with work and previously scheduled plans, I have decided to treasure the quiet hours I do have.

I started by canceling three sets of plans for today and tomorrow. 🙂 I bet you are wondering what I will do with the time. this is easy to answer. I will take time just to sit in the quiet, write without distraction, and breathe a little more deeply. I will also take naps, work on some of my art, and chant. and finally, the dogs, Maddie and Magic will get some undivided attention.

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up
and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
~Anne Lamott

allowing for the sadness
the world has been dragging my spirit down a little bit of lately. how can it not?

once I realized that I haven’t had or taken the time I needed to center myself, I understood why I was taking the harshness as hard as I have. yes, life is not easy for someone who walks in the world as I do, but I do have the responsibility to find the light and the angels in this world. I can’t move forward in any are if I don’t take that time to nurture my own spirit.

I do have some reasons both personally and within the many worlds I exist to feel sadness. so with that in mind, I am allowing for the tears to fall. in truth, there is no container that can gather the tears, but that’s ok. I believe that tears plant seeds towards new growth. you can’t move forward without navigating the darkness. once through the darkness, all of us can slowly catch the sparks that will create more light in our worlds.

and in truth, my life has so much light too. I live in a world of angels that are doing all they can to make the world a better place. in fact, I am showing up to make our world a better place too. I, sincerely, feel blessed in the world I have and continue to create for myself.

as my teacher SARK might say, it is my job to embrace “the messy middle”; I am perfectly imperfect. so I am doing just that as I take time to listen to the quiet.

may we all move towards the light and do whatever we can to create more sparks.

with love, light, and blessings,
chava

 

 

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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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With a broken heart, I take a cleansing breath. Aren’t all of our hearts broken by living life as we do?

I inhale the light
I exhale the darkness

I inhale the blessings
I exhale the pain

I inhale the love
I exhale the loneliness

I inhale the gifts
I exhale the challenges

And with each breath, I am responding to the rhythms of our universe, of my world. I inhale the beauty and I exhale that which needs to be released.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

I have always opened my heart and spirit to feel the realities that surround me. And yet, I have moments when I simply feel invisible – that is only part of the story.

I inhale when I am seen
I exhale when I feel invisible

Everyone is invited to a gathering, but me.
My heartfelt text messages go unanswered.
Someone I love closes the door without so much as a word.
All of the above leaving me to wonder and wonder some more. . . .

And yet I wake up each day knowing that I matter even in the moments that I feel unseen. My village shows up and surrounds me with love even when they sometimes forget to invite me into their lives.

The connection ultimately transcends the ego – always.

The call in the middle night from a friend in crisis reminds me that I am seen. My friend knows that my door is open any time I am needed.

And then there are the friends that reach out when they want me to create a sacred cleansing ritual for their new home. I am known for burning sage, chanting, and drumming as a way to allow for a new and sweet energy to emerge into any new home.

I am here to listen to both pain and joy.
I am here to ride the waves of devastation and new beginnings.
I am here to climb mountains and navigate valleys.
I am here for life and I am here for death.
I am here, Hineini. 

With an open heart and deep love, I am here – I will always be here through gifts and challenges.

Breathe

Artwork by Chava Gal-Or; Text is from A Reflection On Nishmat by Rabbi David J. Cooper

Dichotomies fill every moment or reality in life; and with each moment comes an inhale followed by an exhale.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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“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.”

~Joan Didion

Writing is how I dance with the world around me. Through writing I navigate my deepest pain and my most radiant joy; I process my unrelenting tears and my heartfelt laughter too. And with each strike of the keyboard or stroke of a pen, I find my true rhythm and my soul.

As my younger son expresses so well, “Ima (Mommy), if you aren’t writing, you aren’t in a good place.” Dovi has been reflecting this truth to me since he was about 6 years old and 15 years later, he is still the one to who reminds me that as long as I am writing I am probably exactly where I need to be.

MY MOTTO

Poem by me; AWESOME & one-of-a-kind pen created by Steven Clark!!

Lately, I have been struggling to write freely which has left me at a loss. Since writing is how I process the world I live in, it means that I am wrestling with my life and allowing myself to experience some very deep feelings – not all painful either. I am someone who is always on the path – navigating, seeking, and simply being.

In this moment, there are two significant challenges that I am facing around my writing.

  1. After 8.5 years, I am facing the ending of a relationship that I thought could last forever. How stupid considering the father of my children is no longer my husband and barely my friend. Although, I am happy to say that that may be changing. While I know that this man is not meant to be my partner, I truly believed our connection would last as lovers and friends. As this man and I are building a friendship, I am aware that if I spoke from the deepest part of my heart all the time, I would crumble and/or I would never be able to find peace with the man that I am still hoping will be my life-long friend.
    Since I can’t have the fullness of what I want, I am faced with learning to silence my voice. AND to be honest, that comes at a cost. My writing around him is pathetic. I am afraid that my honesty would close the door to our friendship, so instead I have become an awkward. Whether or not he registers this is irrelevant, it is what I am feeling. And words have power so until now, I have been holding back even when I simply journal.

    My work is to trust my ex-lover knowing that we love each other deeply and we are emerging in a new and very different place. In the meantime, I have to keep putting salve on the wounds of my heart and that means I better go back to my journaling practice.

  2. As a community leader, I am often forced to face the insight of everyone that reads my blogs, my Facebook posts, my emails, etc. While that is the case for everyone, I am struggling. Even though I know that everyone reads my words through their own eyes, I am also so very tired of how people struggle with my transparency. I love being able to openly explore the world as I do.

    I am a writer who thrives by living out loud. I don’t want to be silenced in order to accommodate how other’s walk in the world. I have been silenced throughout so much of my life. I have found myself wearing masks to hide my beautiful face or to protect my loved ones. The good news is that my loved ones can handle me being exactly who I am and so can I; writing is how I embrace authenticity-always!

    I am so very tired of how people put ‘their stuff’ on me. And yet I know that while so many only find the darkness, others reflect the light. The challenge is navigating those that only focus on the darkness. I am so not about darkness.

    Throughout much of my life I have been silenced in various ways and for various reasons.  Ironically, it isn’t always about something difficult happening, more often than not it was simply that I didn’t know that I could speak up or that my voice mattered. For me, learning to share my voice, trusting myself to be articulate, and growing up though my writing was a process. Aren’t we all a work in progress. The more writing became a practice for me, the more I learned to value an intensity that I never knew existed. It was through that writing that I also began to adore the rawness of my spirit. I love my who I am and how I walk in the world. And it was through my writing that I was able to reach this place.

Writing is a sacred act that needs to nurtured daily if not more. I am committing to journaling daily, blogging weekly, and writing letters whenever I can.  If I want to be grounded in life and soar with each breath, I have to put pen to paper and fingers to keys.

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

Looks like I may have some work to do so that I can honor my spirit a little more each day.

Love, light, & blessings,
Chava

 

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A Letter to a Friend:

On several occasions you have questioned whether Facebook friends are really listening or whether you are being heard at all. You seemed to be wondering out loud whether Facebook is some sort of alternate reality.

You are not alone in wondering about the power or purpose of Facebook. Since joining Facebook in 2009, I have watched myself evolve in how I connect with the world in large part due to my interactions on this form of social media. We seem to be asking similar questions and perhaps coming to different assumptions.

fb

On a personal level, I have grown to love it!!! At nearly anytime – day or night, I am surrounded by people that jazz my soul, inspire me to be a better person, nurture me when I am down, and/or support me when I need a kick in the tuchus (tush). And sometimes there is little or no real interaction; sometimes friends are just on the ride of life with me. The more direct I am, the more substantial  the help can be. Help has come in the form of information, resources, and/or supportive listening. My response to these interactions have helped me navigate into more healthy connections and out of friendships or connections that no longer serve me.
Facebook is not some sort of alternate reality. It is full of life (gifts and challenges), experiences, politics, information (true and false). People share what they are comfortable with sharing; this is no different than life in any other social realm. People share what they want you to hear and some are more authentic than others. This seems to be the reality whether on the phone with friends, at work, in synagogue or any house of prayer, at the park, or even the local grocery store.
When tough times hit, people can’t always help and don’t know what to say. The same can be said for all interactions.
Finding personal support for me seems to come mostly when I share what is going on and what I am doing about it. When I have been down for too long (which I have), the responses stop showing up with frequency. It doesn’t necessarily feel good, but each of us only have so much time in our lives to deal with our own crap let alone every one else’s crap. Sigh.
Politically, I have had to face that my strong opinions make people uncomfortable. And if someone is a really close friend, we learn to refrain from commenting on political posts or we accept the explosions that follow a ‘confrontation’. AND I have been known to end friendships or lose friendships when passions run deep. I love knowing where I stand with people even when it means that saying good-bye feels like the only option. I don’t have time to hang with people whose values I find troublesome.

I use Facebook to share all of the moving parts of how I walk in the world. I share poetry, sayings, politics, pain, joy, gratitude, and sometimes hell.

For me, Facebook has opened many doors to opportunities for learning, stretching, and connecting. While I love this tool, it is also one tool of many that I use in my life.

With love and light,
Chava

PS – Some examples of how Facebook has added to my life:

  1. Politically now, I have more information at my fingertips.
  2. Advice is always available for the asking!! And sometimes when not asked. 🙂
  3. When I needed a job, opportunities surfaced.
  4. After I lost my job, friends from all parts of my life showed up to help; I am not sure how I would have survived if people didn’t come out of the woodwork.
  5. If I am sad or lonely, depressed or scared, there is always someone who shows up to comfort me.
  6. While many people have profoundly different views from me, there is always someone there to give me a different way of seeing things.
  7. Whenever I post a link to my blog, it gets read. 🙂
  8. Whether I need a place to eat in Houston, a place to stay in Washington DC or a good book to read – Ask and I will end up with a ton of answers.
  9. I have found the best sayings just by lurking on Facebook. Did you know probably have over 70 pages of quotes that I have saved?
  10. AND so much more!!!!!!!

 

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