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Posts Tagged ‘pain’

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Life is hard. On a good day, we navigate with ease. On a bad day, we tread water and hope we can stay afloat. On most days, most of us have moments where the pendulum swings throughout the day.

What I am writing about below is where I have been over the last weeks. I am writing with transparency knowing that this will make some people feel uncomfortable, but the good news is that I make through challenging times by remembering that I have a tribe that is holding me.

If you are part of my tribe, thank you for being there.

May we all find our tribe.

~ ~ ~

When you’re down and trouble
And you need some love and care
A
nd nothing, nothing is going right
C
lose your eyes and think of me
A
nd soon I will be there
T
o brighten up even your darkest night.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

Songwriter: Carole King

I have been blessed with a tribe that holds my spirit and reminds me that I am loved. All I have to do is let them know that I am in a dark place, and they show up.

The last weeks have been painful for me. In fact, I have been feeling crushed and struggling to breathe. All I have wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry. And yet, while I have had some really dark hours, I have been doing what I do. I have been taking one step and then another, and still another. I am not out of the woods yet, but I am doing what I need to do as I slowly emerge.

Day 55 - Tears Can Cleanse your heart and spiritI have cried. I have journaled. I have cried some more. I have sat in silence. I have stared at my computer screen only to get nothing done. I have painted my little cards with the wisdom I needed or sad truths. I have written some really hard pieces that can only be written when I am in significant pain. Did I say I have cried?

Last weekend, I wrote one of my closest friends and told her I couldn’t make her daughter’s wedding because I wasn’t able to get my shit together. I was honest. And then this past week, I blew the shofar at a climate change rally and spoke about how the shofar was a call to wake up; we need climate action now. Just showing up helped me get out of my own way for just a little while. I still went to sleep with tears in my eyes and a hole in my heart. But on that night, I slept really well for the first time in a while.

BTW, this is the first year in decades that I haven’t blown the shofar or rams horn nearly every day during the month of Elul, the month before Rosh HaShanah.  In Jewish tradition, we blow the shofar as one of the tools for inspiring us to to wake up and do the spiritual work of stretching and growing so that we are ready for the new year.

Instead of blowing the shofar, I have been allowing myself to be exactly where I am.

AND

My tribe is showing up.

One by one, my friends are reaching out and reminding me that they are holding space for me. The most impressive is my friend whose daughter is getting married. She offered to come to me anytime. I can’t ask, but I love that she means it. I wouldn’t be good company and I don’t know how to be taken care of when I want to bury my head in the sand. Another friend of mine who is busy beyond words offered to drive an hour both ways just so she could give me a hug. A couple of others called, some offered to listen, and others opened their homes to me whenever I am up for a visit. Living in Houston is hard because most of my loved ones live elsewhere.

And then a couple of nights ago, I asked my friends who live by the water if I could run away to their house even if I am dark. Of course, they said yes and then they called other friends who live close to them and texted me that everyone wanted to see me. And what I heard in that text is that they will welcome me however I show up. Unfortunately, I need to wait until after the Jewish holidays, but I think healing will happen by the water.

Over the last couple of days, I have started answering the phone or responding to text messages. Mostly, I am still hiding, but a little less than I was. I haven’t wanted to talk to many people, so I haven’t. But I have decided to be real a couple of times on social media and within my blogging. I have cried at work and felt loved even if I felt unlovable. I am being transparent. I am “living out loud” as Émile Zola would say.

The truth is that why I am sad doesn’t really matter. There are a lot of reasons and I think I have only shared all of them with one of my friends who called at the ‘right’ moment. I wonder if I chewed his ear off. Since he has kept reaching out this week, I don’t think I scared him away. I am really blessed And the beautiful reality is that I know that most of my friends would do what this one friend did for me.

I’ve also been blown away by the love texts, the sweet private messages, and even a couple of notes. I am allowing my friends to see that I am living in the messy middle. And instead of ignoring me, they are quietly showing up and letting me know that I am loved.

~ ~ ~

Growing up, I used to hear that we make plans and God laughs. #Truth

Last Saturday, a friend, who is also a congregant, called my cell phone. When I saw his name on my caller ID I decided to pick up the phone. I, incorrectly assumed something must be wrong because he generally doesn’t call me out of the blue. Looking back though, I realized that this friend always calls me out of the blue and it is ALWAYS a welcome surprise.  Fast forward, I am not sure how he started the phone conversation, but he quickly said, “I’d love to do karaoke with you. Let me get with my wife and let’s just do it.” This was in response to me saying on a silly Facebook questionnaire that I have wanted to do karaoke since my 50th birthday nearly four years ago. LOL! And then this friend made the serious mistake of asking me how I was. Ugh! And with that I could barely hold it together, so I started to cry. Damn!

Guess what I am doing to do tonight.  Karaoke. Of course, he and his wife meant it when they said that they would arrange something and get back to me. At the time, I was hoping it would be months away, but no such luck.  And you know what, it is time for me to do something like this. While I don’t know if I will have the guts to sing in front of others, I am going to spend some time with friends. It’s time for me to move forward differently.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking I need to start having fun. I know that I am too serious. My spirit is wrapped up in making the world a better place through activism, writing, other forms of creativity, and even my work. And while my creativity brings me real joy, I don’t really think of it as fun. While people tend to see me as someone who smiles and laughs easily, I am also someone who needs to work on having fun. More on that later.

Living authentically these last weeks has been hard. I want to hide, but somehow this hasn’t been an option this time around. My broken spirit is out of the closet. And while I am (somewhat) working and showing up in life, I am also being real with every step I am taking.

My loved ones are an AMAZING testament to what it means to be in my tribe. All I have to do is be me and they love me just as I am. I better stop here before I cry yet again.

Hineini, Here I am! I am doing the holy work of healing.

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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img_2740Life is hard. There are hours, days, weeks, months, and even years that every aspect of living is overwhelming.

Fortunately, I am mostly blessed to face hard hours, but during a rare period of time, I may face hard days or weeks. . . .rarely do I face hard months or even hard years.

I am a thriver.

A long time ago, I decided that I didn’t have time for serious suffering so after a few days, I usually shake off my sadness, my pain, and/or my devastation by taking one step and then another.

But there are two times of year that my body seems to take a hiatus from holding it together. One is around the time of my mother’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of her death, and the other time is the anniversary of when my life was tragically decimated because of the action of others. The funniest part of these times of the year is that I don’t see it coming even if I theoretically know it will.

This week marked 29 years since my mother took her last breath.

Mom’s death nearly crushed me. Even now as I type these words, I am short of breath. And yet, for the first time since her passing, I can see how much I have moved forward. Her memory doesn’t haunt me daily and for the most part I have detached from any real feelings surrounding my mother’s tragic life.

I have been able to move forward so much so that I over the last year I allowed photos of me as a little girl into my house. I guess it was time for me to admit that that little girl really did exist. While I have yet to look at them, I don’t cringe when I see the small stack of photos in my office. Instead I welcome them with an awareness that even though my childhood was seeped in horrific pain, I really was alive and not only did I make it, I became a beautiful soul.

Back to this week:
I have been hurting, creating mountains out of molehills, and feeling painfully alone even as I have been surrounded by loved ones reminding me that I am loved and even adored.  The truth is that my body has been letting me know that this week has forever been imprinted by mother’s mark. The result is that I have a urinary tract  infection (UTI) and a respiratory infection.

I have also found myself sobbing for no reason at all only to smile when in the back of my head I have become the drama queen that I deplore. But for this past week, I couldn’t stop it. My spirit was being assaulted by the memories of my childhood, of a time when I couldn’t protect the onslaught of assault.

My mother was sick, profoundly sick. Her sickness left me ill equipped for thriving and yet I am a thriver. So as the week of her yahrzeit turns into the next week, I am moving forward. I am taking one step and then another.

My UTI will heal as will my respiratory infection. My friends will forgive my antics and some may even hug me and remind me that I am loved.

Tonight, I am taking one step and then another. . . .

Onward with love and light,
Chava

PS – I am profoundly aware that this time of year leaves my spirit bruised, but I am also aware that I will always emerge to find my center again.

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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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