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Posts Tagged ‘passion’

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 Рday 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. ūüôā
  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. ūüôā
  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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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with
your one wild and precious life.”
‚Äď ‚ÄúThe Summer Day‚ÄĚ by Mary Oliver

July - sun 1

Reflection Time Selfie

Each morning, I wake up and ask myself how I will walk through my day.  And each and every day, the answer is pretty much the same. I want to be a light with every step I take.

Now this isn’t as easy as it sounds. What does it mean to be a light? And what do I have to do to get there?

The second question is easier to answer, so I will start with that. In order to be a light to anyone I have to be a light to myself. That means before I reach out to the world around me, I have to go inward and care for my body, my mind, and my soul. ¬†If I don’t take care of me, how can I be authentic with others?

Writing, listening to the others’ wisdom, moving and eating right are key. On a really good day, I will chant, meditate, or¬†drum. ¬†And on a great day, I will do it all! Breathing deeply and living mindfully takes an open heart and a willing spirit.

In fact, most of what I try to do is to live consciously. My entire being craves a conscious life. I want to live with integrity and authenticity.  So for the most part, I do that. AND every day I am learning, stretching, and growing. I am working to be the best me I can be.

Only after I navigate inward can I take an excursion outward.

So to answer the first question:  What does it mean to be a light?

A ready smile greets nearly every person I meet. I have a drive to touch people’s lives in positive ways. This feeling has emanated so deeply that years ago I even changed my last name to Gal-Or, wave of light.

Life has taught me that some of my best plans and my most amazing intentions need to altered due to reality.

When my older son was a teenager, he was plagued with a life and death journey which took over our family’s entire lives for over three and a half years. This meant that everything in my world changed over night and stayed that way until one day I realized he¬†was thriving again!

Shortly after that episode, I woke up to a joyous pitter-patter in my heart. With an overwhelming realization, I realized that I am alive and ready to serve others again. Hineini! I am here!!

While I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, I slowly began to realize that the years of hell inspired me to live a little more like there may be no tomorrow. With that came a new zest for life and a deep passion in my kishka, my¬†guts. Over the coming days, months, and years, that passion has become part of my life force.

Returning back to the Mary Oliver quote above, I have grown to trust where my heart and soul take me. Living a conscious life means that I have work to do not only for myself, but for others.

With each step I take in the world, I really do it with the best intention. That doesn’t mean it is always received with open arms, but it does mean that I am standing in the integrity that is part of my core essence.

Sharing my thoughts and values is the only way I know to inspire change and to empower others. That doesn’t mean that I am always right or that I don’t frustrate or anger those who feel differently. Everyday, I am¬†challenged to stand in the light even when it isn’t easy.

With views that are often off the beaten path or different from mainstream thinking, I have to negotiate the world with kindness. I also have to make sure that I am educated and thoughtful as I navigate conversations and writing. And sometimes, I have to receive the passion of others.

While passion isn’t always full of light, my work is¬†be the light and always remember that I want every “wild and precious day” to live consciously and thoughtfully.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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“If you ask me what I came into this life to do,
I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”
Quote by √Čmile Zola

Twenty years ago, this saying became an unspoken mantra. A part of me believes that finding this quote empowered me find my voice as woman,  a mother, a friend, a teacher, and mostly as a creative soul that needed to be heard.

Before that time, silence seemed to permeate the core of my being. ¬†And then one day, I woke up and I found a little more of my voice. I learned to write after a very long and painful hiatus.¬†A local magazine wanted to publish the story of our son Dovi’s miraculous adoption. Somehow I found the courage to speak up and let¬†the publisher/editor know that I was the one who needed to write this¬†story; she loved the idea and with that I found my first and most gentle editor. Eventually that story was picked up by a couple of other magazines.

Finding my voice was a long but beautiful journey. With each step, I felt like a butterfly opening to the world with a sense of awe. I literally fluttered from flower to flower. Each flower gave me just a little more nectar to fuel the journey towards self.

And then in 2002, I took a giant leap of faith and left the cocoon of the Orthodox world¬†that I had lived for nearly fifteen years. The journey was lonely and overwhelming. I lost close friends in that transition or should I say transformation? But I did it!!! I listened to the voice that nudged me to create a new life for myself (and eventually my family) and to find a new home¬†for my spirit to rest. It didn’t go far; I found a home in a progressive Jewish community that nurtured my spirit and grounded me in tradition while allowing my creative energy to flourish.

As time progressed, I started to stretch in other ways too. I started thriving as an educator, a blogger, an artist, a chanter, a storyteller, a drummer, a mother, and today as an activist or maybe just a human being. The more I grow the more my spirit yearns to expand my roots as I also reach into the universe that surrounds me.

Now that I have my voice, I embrace all of life with more passion. When I am happy I sing out loud regardless of who is close by; when I feel the need to write, I stop what I am doing and I write; when a picture comes into my head I doodle it. The more doors open, the more ready I am to receive the gifts that continue to flow through me.

A raw intensity has taken over the quiet person that once lived in my body.  My soul gravitates towards life. I am alive and I crave this aliveness that emanates from all life forces.

Sun rise New Zealand May 5 Jai-Jagdeesh

Photo Courtesy of Jai-Jagdeesh via Instagram: jaijagdeesh

This New Zealand sunrise by my “social media friend” left me with tears in my eyes. I found Jai-Jagdeesh through her music, but today I have fallen love with her words, her wisdom, her photos. My hope is that one day have the opportunity to experience Kundalini Yoga with her as my teacher. (Of course, I may have to wait until I complete my healing journey from back surgery.) When I hear her, I feel a fire igniting me towards ¬†self-care and tikun olam (repairing the world).

Meanwhile a heartfelt hug reminds me that the void of love I experienced as a child is no longer with me. When any of my nieces or nephews say “I love you” even though I haven’t seen the since they were little. . .I melt¬†inside, but feel immense gratitude that my beloved brother and sister-in-law have kept me alive in their eyes.

Nothing in my world is taken for granted.

The more authentic and grounded I become, the I am able to “live out loud” and to love.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

Today, I openly love with ever fiber of my being.  I often wonder if I take in the world on a cellular level. When I allow myself to breathe deeply, I find myself connecting with all that I see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. All of my senses are more alive than I could have once imagined.

While love may sometimes change, I love deeply; I love forever. . . My intensity overflows each and every time I see those I adore.

And I have learned to always speak from the deepest part of my soul just in case a door closes suddenly. ….because doors do close suddenly and without warning.

May I be blessed to always “live out loud” with an authenticity that rooted in grace.

Namaste (May the spirit in me honor the spirit in you),
Chava

Note: This entire blog was inspired by:

Love Openly. . .you never know

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(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)

Chava's Shadow 17January2016

Over the last many years, I have found myself struggling with communicating my thoughts and my feelings within close relationships. While intellectually, I know that I am articulate, the inner child in me has had to cope with feelings of inadequacy and feeling like I am sometimes invisible.

In truth, I understand why this is. This has been a¬†reaction to losing a couple of my closest friends who¬†didn’t want to hear my voice any longer. I may never know the full story, but it probably doesn’t matter. It is what it is. At the time, those experiences triggered¬†memories¬†of my childhood. During those early years, I learned that that I was insignificant; no one heard my cries or helped me in any tangible way. So I learned to hide behind the shadows. Sometimes that is still my safe space; sometimes I still go there.

What’s beautiful is that there is a part of me that understands how articulate I am. And there is another part of me that knows that my thoughts mean something to my family, my friends, and my community. My holy work is to fight the demons that try to silence me. ¬†You know the voice in your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough to share your thoughts; or that voice that reminds you that you are showing too much passion.¬†My job right now is to¬†stop that voice from affecting how I communicate.

 

Moving to Houston just over 16 months ago has contributed so much to my healing from loss of loved ones. It has also helped me to see that I have not been silenced by those closest to me unless you count me.

People want to hear my thoughts, my stories, my ideas, and most don’t mind hearing me fumble with words. I don’t always have to be articulate.

Over the last year I have listened to Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert. I love these podcasts that have inspired me to honor my creative soul and was especially touched by Episode 205 that I heard earlier this week. In it, Liz shared that our words are “better out than in.” While my passion sometimes feels unweildy, it is always intensely real and from my heart. As long as I remember that sharing my voice is like speaking my truth, I can ride the waves of life with a little more ease.

Plus it came at a time when I am planning to share more of my stories and ask others to share their stories of childhood and life traumas. I am starting a project in which I collect stories of positive souls that have had to overcome harsh traumas. I want to hear how people navigate the darkness and ultimately find light.

Hearing the podcast felt like¬†a huge punch into my gut because it helped me to realize that I have been minimizing my voice instead of sharing it with the passion that is part of me. The good news is that this didn’t happen all the time, but it happened too much. So as I get ready to address some hard stuff in my writing and storytelling, and even within my personal relationships, ¬†it is ok for me to also say that “it’s really scary for me to let this out, but I’d so much rather it come out all wrong than stay in all wrong.” My voice matters.

Being emotionally honest is how I navigate the world. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Onward with light & love,
Chava

 

 

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One of Jamie's last photos  - Kauai: Paradise Found

One of Jamie’s last Facebook photos – Kauai: Paradise Found

I love deeply.

As someone who loves people as I do, I often connect with people instantly. ¬†It is not something I think about, it simply is. What I have learned over the last fifteen or so years is that I either have a connection or I don’t. ¬†Are there exceptions to this rule. . .absolutely, but it is still a guiding principle within my life.

Some of my closest friendships have been made in 20 seconds or less on a good day, up to a minute on a questionable day. For the most part, if¬†a friendship takes too much work initially, it isn’t a friendship worth keeping.

The people that come into my life in under a minute quickly become¬†my soul friends. I often forget that they haven’t been in my life forever. Which can become awkward when I KNOW they know something, that of course they don’t. Those relationships tend to transcend time or space. Those are the friendships I want to keep and hold forever.

The only problem is that those friendships don’t always last. ¬†Sometimes they end because they had an expiration date and sometimes they end because of serious illness or death.

Just this week, I lost a new friend, Jamie Zimmerman. You wouldn’t have known it by how we connected, but it is what it is. ¬†In my heart, I think we both believed that we would one day do something profound together; I don’t know what I mean by that. . .it was just a hunch. The only problem is that earlier this week, an accident on the beaches of Hawaii took her life. As soon as I heard this, I couldn’t stop sobbing. ¬†We had just had a couple of¬†hours together¬†when she came to Houston a couple of months ago. Loved our time and couldn’t wait until we would meet again.

But sometimes there are no tomorrows.¬†http://wp.me/pthnB-5i¬†So as I am wiping my tears away, I wonder¬†how to best remember¬†this brilliant woman. With an amazing gusto for living¬†her passions, she wanted to share all she knew and inevitably spread her¬†light too. She was a born leader who generously gave her heart and soul.¬†While Jamie was nearly 20 years younger than I am, I had so much to learn from this beautiful soul. ¬†I am so sorry I don’t have more time with her, but also grateful for the time I did have.

Jamie’s death has forced me to look at how I walk in the world. ¬†How can I face the reality of sudden loss? How do I process accidents at all? Last month another friend of mine had a cycling accident. ¬†I took that one hard too and he really was ok by the time I knew of his fall – battered¬†and healing.

Over the last several years, I have learned that dread and vulnerability fill me when I hear of sudden accidents and loss whether they cause death or simply physical challenges of all sorts. Perhaps it is because I realize that as a single mother, I fear that my children would be alone if something happened to me. Or perhaps I have felt and witnessed the effects of sudden loss.  Either way, I am struggling internally right now.

Early onset of dementia took another close friend away a few years ago. ¬†In fact, my friend Sharon was the person, I had planned to give my most personal information before I realized that the door of opportunity had closed. ¬†Life doesn’t always work as we expect. Sigh.

With every fiber of my being, I hope I never lose the ability to connect with people as I do.  And yet I do need to find a way to accept the realities that come with loving people.  Those that I love will not necessarily always be present. Nor is it a given that I will be present for them.

The responsibility to live in the most authentic way possible becomes a necessity when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. ¬†It also means that I am responsible for being¬†fully present in life and with those I love. ¬†Tomorrow will be what it is, so I have to actively engage in this moment and to be the best person I can be within each of my interactions with the world; whether I connect daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or even less, my hope is that I will¬†always the best person I can be.

Thinking about Jamie
Jamie was full of life; she actively engaged in life and strived to embrace all of life. ¬†She also had a keen sense of how to honor herself and reach for her highest self. ¬†I didn’t know Jamie well, but I wish I did. ¬†Her spirit was full of light, she illuminated not only where she was standing at any given moment, but her¬†beautiful energy¬†brightened the world. ¬†The world is a much better place because of her presence in it.

While I don’t know what Jamie and I may have accomplished if given the opportunity, I do know that I need to take the lessons I learned from our brief friendship. ¬†And that is exactly what I will do.

~ ~ ~

May I learn to kiss the ground with my feet and reach for the stars with every bone in my body.

May I be blessed with the fearlessness to let my full light shine as I nurture my spirit a little more fully.

May I never stop loving as deeply as I do out of fear of losing the beauty of what was.

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“The most significant gifts are the ones most easily overlooked. Small, everyday blessings: woods, health, music, laughter, memories, books, family, friends, second chances, warm fireplaces, and all the footprints, scattered throughout our days.”
~Sue Monk Kidd

Chava.cake

All of life has a rhythm.

For me, the rhythm comes from an inner light that radiates out and allows me to honor the beat of my heart and the song of my soul. With each step, I feel myself become more and more grounded to the earth.

Yesterday, I celebrated my life; I found joy in the love that surrounded me and in the peace within the storm of life.

For the days prior to my birthday, I was considering ignoring my birthday, removing any mention of it on Facebook and closing the door to my bedroom so that I could ‘lick my wounds’ from a challenging last year. ¬†And then I realized that the last year does not define who I am as ¬†a person. ¬†But if it did define me, I would be a woman who defies darkness by always doing what¬†it takes to succeed.

With each breath, I navigate the very real realities of life’s journeys, where I am, and where I want to go. ¬†I dream big and then work towards making my dreams happen.

One of the most treasured gifts came from¬†my friend and poet Susan Windle who said,¬†“Love to you in your birthing time, dear Chava”. ¬†Those sweet words reminded me that not only am I loved, but I am actively becoming the person I want to be. ¬†This sacred birthing process is empowering me to grow in ways that would not have been possible in the not very distant past.

Authenticity is flowing from the core of my being. ¬†I am seeking simplicity in all that I do; I am working towards living a life of transparency and integrity. ¬†I am weaving words together and finding center by speaking with the fullness of my voice. Vulnerability no longer is filtered by the bravado¬†that I don’t really feel. ¬†I have learned and am continuing to learn how to¬†use my voice in all of it’s forms.

Over the last year, I have been expressing my most purest of feelings without holding back from those closest to me. Sometimes tears fall down my cheeks as I try to cope with deep sadness; sometimes passion flows from my lips and from my fingertips. And then there is my laughter the reverberates the core of my being.  While I have always been real, I am trying to remove the shield that has sometimes protected me from my deepest of feelings.

I really do believe what my friend Marc Hershkowitz said, “I know it’s going to be a great year!” I am determined to shine and to be the best person I can be.

While life has been a little harsh of late, it doesn’t have to put an edge into my spirit. I am alive and I intend to celebrate the gifts that surround me with each and every rhythm that is part of my journey.

May this year be the year for my writing to inspire people, my creativity to flow, and my heart to emerge in new and beautiful ways.

This is my year to thrive; I hope you join me!

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: Is there a fire in your soul?

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 me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

On the 33 day of the Counting of the Omer, many of us have a bonfire to celebrate the holiday of Lag b’Omer. ¬†(For more info on Lag b’Omer see¬†http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Shavuot/In_the_Community/Counting_the_Omer/Lag_BaOmer.shtml?p=0) Tonight, I found myself inspired by the idea that the bonfire is a reminder that we should find and nurture the fire in our soul. ¬†Is there a challenge in society¬†that compels you to actively engage in¬†tikkun olam, repairing¬†the world? ¬†Are you driven to step outside of your own bubble in order to do something good for someone outside of your little world? ¬†As I say that, I am assuming that you are a loving human being who takes care of those in your world as need be.

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another. ~George Eliot

Over the years and to this day, I have pursued so many passions that sustain the ambers burning in my soul.  If there is an issue that needs my activism, I often do my part to make a difference for good.  Sometimes it is as simple as just noting the issues, but other times, I need to physically go out there and labor for my causes.  I am part of the human race and that makes it my responsibility to do what I can to impact the world for good.  In my heart of hearts, I believe each and every one of us should consider the bigger world and do our part to make a difference; we do not need to take on each and every issue, but we can try to do our part however big or small.

 Is there a fire in your soul? If so, what are you doing to make a difference? If not, consider trying to find one issue that you can do your part and have a positive impact.

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