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Posts Tagged ‘physical’

Shachar and Maddie snuggled together on the many miles from Tucson to Louisa.

Shachar and Maddie snuggled together on the many miles from Tucson to Louisa this December.

On Friday morning, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life; I had to euthanize our beloved mutt for unpredictable aggression. After too many episodes with the final episode being the worst, I was forced to make a decision that is devastating to our family.  My heart is healing from saying good-bye to my precious Shachar and my body is healing from the pain I endured when trying to keep my beloved four-legged creatures from hurting each other (it didn’t work).

Just over a year ago, we found Shachar outside the local mall.  At the time she was nearly 20 lbs. underweight and terrified.  We adored her from the first moment we brought her home.  We weren’t sure if we would be able to keep her; Shachar cowered when we tried to pet her and she had no idea how to walk with a lead.  But it took only 24 hours for me to find her curled up on Aryeh, her head resting on his chest.  We were in love.  Even Maddie loved her!  But nearly 8 months after bringing her home, she turned on Maddie. For 5 months we kept them apart and trained each individual dog; we also hired an amazing trainer to bring the girls together and to work with us on doing this in the best way possible.  We were thrilled to have our family back in tact. Sadly, it didn’t last. . . . And the war wounds were too great.

While four days have passed, the emotional and physical pain has knocked me off my feet.  If it weren’t for the fact that Aryeh, my older son, is suffering even more deeply than I, I would have folded into a pile of mush.  Nearly each and every moment, I find myself willing her back into our physical world. I miss Shachar’s sweet presence; I want to feel her snuggles, her warmth, her heartbeat, her obtrusive nature. . .

Except for Aryeh’s profound sadness and Maddie’s (our other dog) sad and healing body.  Life’s realities have barely mattered; I have been almost numb to the realities of money or my own physical pain.  $400 poorer due to unexpected veterinarian fees and hoping that none of the injuries that I sustained need a physician.  (So far, so good on that front.)

What has helped has been my friends and my sons.  Within hours of our loss, our friends David and Jennifer showed up on our doorstep.  And my sons have been making me as many mint or chamomile-citrus lattés as I need to warm my heart and soothe my battered soul.  At times, Aryeh has had to hand me the cups gingerly and grab it as quickly as I finished drinking.  On Saturday, I struggled to hold my mug; I am still struggling with the pain and achiness that I sustained when I tried to save my dogs from one another.  Healing.  And while there was almost nothing that anyone could say, it has helped that nearly 125 friends have actively reached out and offered their love. (Facebook ability to document how many comments are generated does help for some things.)  There wasn’t much that anyone could say, but a few friend’s nailed it perfectly when they said:

You gave her love and she knew it. She did the best she could and so did you. 
Lynn M.

You loved her and gave her a home, she will always know that.
Sharon G.

“so sorry to hear this. Sending you love and condolences.”
Rain Z. and so many others.

Today was the first day that Maddie, Shachar’s furry sister, started moving with more ease.  While I was awake and reading at 5 AM, it took her until nearly 8 AM to start moving, The good news is that when Maddie did get up this morning, she seemed to be able to move, to play, and to bug us whenever someone was prepping in the kitchen. Yay for this huge gift! We are all getting used to a quieter house with no puppy energy; it is too quiet.

We will always miss the way that Shachar loved to wrap herself up to us – the closer the better.  If possible, she tried to rest her head against our heart.  Both Aryeh and I loved feeling her body against us.  Healing will happen, but in the meantime, tears will be falling for a long, long while.

Shachar doing what she loved to do most.  She really had no clue that she wasn't a lap dog.

Shachar doing what she loved to do most. She really had no clue that she wasn’t a lap dog.

Shachar really did need to be as close to us as possible.

Shachar really did need to be as close to us as possible.

 

  We love you Shachar – now and always.

 

 

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Don’t be afraid to tread when you can’t really swim
Dance in the rain and find the rainbows when darkness prevails
Find the good in every challenge that crosses your path
And always soar and reach for your best.
(Excerpt: Sometimes Life Gives Us No Tomorrows
written by Chava Gal-Or)

Have you ever had those moments when your were furious about something only to find that you may be looking at the whatever is happening the wrong way?

One of the most significant practices of my life is to try to find light in the midst of life’s challenges.  I even changed my last name to honor the way I hope to walk in the world.  My last name Gal-Or means wave a light. Years ago I decided to acknowledge that I have mostly been able to find light in darkness or within troubling moments AND I wanted to remind myself to continue to walk the world in this way.  Having said that, I also realize that I am human, there are times when I have to take a moment and reflect.

Over the last few days I found myself reflecting that I really do need to pay attention and to take a deep breathe before allowing frustration to penetrate my heart and mind. As conscious as I am, I am taking a few minutes to openly share exactly how I find the good in the following scenarios.

  1. Accidents happen.  Often times I count my blessings when I am stuck in traffic; I find myself feeling relieved that somehow I was blessed to be running late and missing my potential role in the traffic accident which is just ahead of where I am.  At the same time, I pray for all that are involved in the accident; I never take spiritual or physical health for granted.
  2. Recently, I lost my position at Temple Emanu-El, a local congregation, because of their financial challenges.  For the most part I have chosen not to share the impact of that loss too fully; it wouldn’t serve me well. What I will say is that it hurt my spirit very deeply.  And yet out of the pain, I have come to grips with some spiritual and emotional needs  that I may not have faced so directly if I had not received my walking papers. Living consciously is a powerful gift that I am giving myself.
  3. A few nights ago, my son left all the lights on in the house.  Sigh.  I am so sensitive to light and it ultimately woke me up; I needed to wake up fully so I could turn off all the lights. 😦  To say that I was thoroughly annoyed is an understatement.  So, in order to distract myself and manage some of my agitation I went on Facebook to check out was going on in the world.  And what I found was a friend that was in serious crisis and needed me.  Two hours later, I was profoundly grateful that I could be there for my friend and to help her manage some intense darkness.  If it weren’t for my son’s mistake of leaving the light on, I wouldn’t have been there to listen and to offer some potential ways to navigate all that she needed to cope with.
  4. How many times have you been at a doctor’s office only to be stuck waiting an extra 30 minutes or maybe even an hour?  Well for nearly five years, we were blessed with doctors that didn’t rush my then teenage son through their office visit because they had other patients.  We also had doctors that created a slot for our son because he was too sick to wait.  After such a positive experience with so many medical practitioners, no longer do I get agitated when I have to wait.  Having a doctor that is compassionate and present when we most need him/her makes a world of difference to me.  Ultimately my son emerged healthy and vibrant, but the journey to get there was full of loving souls that really took the time needed to care of my son when he needed it most.
  5. While initially, I may feel frustrated when I get stuck in the Car Repair place or anywhere, but over the years I have come to appreciate the ‘accidental’ gift of time which allows me time to walk over to the coffee shop and take some time to write and people watch.  To me there is nothing better than having time to sit quietly and write and/or people watch.

We never do know what is on our horizons; life happens and so does death.  My job is to try to make the best of every moment.  Sometime the moment is all we have. . . .

Oct 20 - sunrise Pantano WashMay we all be blessed to find the light shining in the horizons.

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

 

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

 

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775 Introduction http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

This is what it takes to create a spiritual home wherever you go.

This is what it takes to create a spiritual home wherever you go.

Reflection

Over the past 4 days, since Rosh Hodesh Elul (the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul), I have been actively preparing for Rosh HaShana and loving every moment of it.  And then suddenly this morning as I sang some of the verses from Psalm 27*, I felt a bit bereft because for the first time in my life, I do not feel like I have a spiritual home.  As a professional Jew, I have previously had communities that were easier for me to be a part of spiritually, but I have rarely felt uncomfortable in a community I have worked.  Only one time, I heard a rabbi give a sermon on Yom Kippur in which he said that Tisha B’Av should be disregarded.  It was the one and only time I almost walked out of High Holy Day services with my family.

Judaism is a part of my essence.  I love how it fits into my life, pushes me to think, and creates a cocoon where I can live.

I am a God-Wrestler.  I question, I pray, I hope, I vision and I wrestle.  And on the days that I don’t quite know how God fits into my practice of Judaism, I let go and trust the universe.  And throughout it all, I try to live a life of Godliness.  Every place I walk is a sanctuary, so why in this moment should I feel like I have no spiritual home.  The mountains and the desert are seriously my sanctuary.  I love the earth; I love so many special spaces that exude God-like energy.  I used to have a yoga studio that felt like God’s sanctuary.  Today, there is no space that is calling me for the Rosh HaShanah, yet I have to take my kids to services for the High Holy Days.

And did I say, I literally have no money for the holidays or for much? What a concept for me.  The good news is that my old ‘congregation’ of employment wouldn’t turn me a way and I believe other congregations would open their doors too, but still it is sad for me.  I believe that if I weren’t a mother, I would choose to create a spiritual space by myself or with a few others.  I love Judaism and I love living it!

So as I take each day of Elul to create a stronger physical and spiritual core, I am grappling with feeling like I have no place to go.  And yet, in reality, I know that my sons and I will feel comfortable wherever we go.  Tucson is full of loving synagogue communities.  Can’t wait to hear the shofar blown as I sit within community.

Feeling blessed even as I struggle with some challenging realities.  The sun and moon always shine brightly in the desert.

With blessings & light,
Chava

*From Rosh Hodesh Elul through Simchat Torah, it is part of the Jewish tradition to say Psalm 27 two times a day.  Here is a link to the Psalm in Hebrew and English. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2627.htm

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: Sending light and healing energy

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.

Over the years, I learned so much from watching how those I respect, walk in the world. Some of my most valued lessons come from my teacher Debbie Friedman, of Blessed Memory. From Debbie, I learned the power of prayer and song in the healing of body, mind, and soul. I will never forget how powerful it was to hear her sing Mi Shebeirach (for healing) and Light These Lights. Each time she sang the words to her songs/prayers, I felt her students and her audience transform.  Debbie always sang her healing prayer first and then the audience joined her; each and every time she sang of healing, the energy was palpable.  Every person in those auditoriums believed that their prayers could impact what was happening and it did; the healing energy went exactly to where it was supposed to go.  In fact, Debbie transformed many prayers over the years as she brought meaning using her interpretations and melodies as a tool for making prayers meaningful.  The power of her prayers can be felt each time I go to a healing service or sit in services as an entire community sings Mi Sheberirach for those that are sick both physically and spiritually.  While hearing an Debbie Friedman sing her songs was breathtakingly beautiful, hearing her songs carried on by others is also touching and beautiful.

Take a moment and listen to my friend Dr. Scott Mandel’s students as they sing Light These Lights.  As director of Pacoima’s group, he was able to inspire his choir to reach inside themselves and create what I believe Debbie herself would find inspiring.

Pacoima Singers–12, 13 & 14 year olds from the Pacoima Middle School Television, Theatre & Performing Arts Magnet in Los Angeles. Web site: pacoimasingers.com

After I light the Shabbat candles each and every Friday night,, my own family sings Light These Lights. Before singing it, I ask each person to visualize those in their lives that are in need of healing; we sing this short song many times until we have completed sending out healing to those in need, those that we know and those that we don’t yet know.

Debbie believed in the power of healing circles and the power of song to heal not only those we love as well as those that love those who are ill; she also inspired all of us to reach inside ourselves for the bigger world too.  When my son was critically sick, people prayed for Aryeh.  People chanted, sang, and prayed traditional prayers as well as healing chants/songs; each prayer made a difference.  Whether or not the songs and prayers saved Aryeh, I might never know, but what I can tell you is that I think it didl Aryeh’s body, mind, and soul healed over time. The work was hard and seemingly impossible at times, but nonetheless healing for all of us happened.

There are so many folk singers and spiritual artists that are sending out their healing energy into the world.  May we all join in and create our own healing energy to send out to the world.  May we all do our part to make a difference.

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Wherever you go, possibilities surround you! By opening both your eyes and your heart, a door will always appear.

closedOvenDoor

Have you ever noticed how many different types of doors exist in the world?  Nearly each and every door leads to an opportunity.  Some doors are physical; other doors are metaphoric.  All doors lead to opportunity.

Last Friday, my boys and I really wanted to make challah.  Friends of ours had introduced us to Tom Sawyer flour which was supposed to work cup for cup the same way that regular flour worked.  So with our new bag of Tom Sawyer Flour in hand, we found an old challah recipe from our pre-celiac days and attempted to make challah.

On Facebook last Friday, I acknowledged our latest challah fiasco when I posted:

“There is good news and bad news:

“It is with great sadness that I share that my first gluten free challah in my new home needs to visit the garbage disposal.

“The good news is that for 20 minutes I had the opportunity to prepare a challah dough that felt absolutely amazing.

“Sigh. . .”

The better news is that Aryeh allowed NONE of this attitude to emerge.  He popped our very flat challah back into the oven to cook more.  While it never rose, it cooked a little – yay!

Funny that the challah seemed to proof beautifully, yet it lacked the ability to actually rise.  Well at least, Aryeh’s saw the possibilities and forced  us to continue with the challah making plan; there ended up being no garbage disposal for our challah.  And on top of that, It ended up tasting amazing.  The biggest problem with this initial challah making scene was that I gave up waaaayyyyyyy too quickly!!! I am so grateful that Aryeh had faith!  We ended up with very flat (didn’t rise), but awesome tasting challah.

challahFlat

Our Shabbat dinner was amazing, our company was enjoyable, and the next morning Aryeh decided to make our very dense challah into french toast.  We took turns chiseling (cutting :)) the challah into small slices of challah.  It was hard on the hands, but awesome for the spirit.  It felt so nice to actively turn a dense block of challah into a work of art.  In my opinion all baking and cooking is a form of art.

TransformationChallah

Cutting the challah took enormous energy and strength, but with the use of a little muscle and a happy disposition we were able to turn the dense challah brick into sliced challah.  And we never wasted even a crumb.  (OK, maybe we lost a few crumbs. ;))

SlicedChallah

After soaking the challah and allowing the egg to moisten the challah, Aryeh started the process of making the challah into french toast.  It really is an art-form to turn a challah brick into french toast.  Loved seeing my son make french toast happen.

InFryingPan

So my pessimism had no place in the challah making or in the french toast creations.

FrenchToast

This past Shabbat’s challah seems to have be sa metaphor for the way I move forward in life.  For the most part, I believe in pushing forward and finding the opportunities that exist beyond each and every door.  So while the challah might have initially appeared to be a failure, it ended up being awesome from start to finish.  The challenge ended up being a gift.  Even though, the challah was dense and hard, it also made for the most flavorful  bread and french toast we have had in a long time.

Opening the door, in this case the oven door, to possibility allowed the boys and I to enjoy every moment that surrounded this past Shabbat’s challah.  The prepping brought back memories and led to family time; turning success into failure allowed for many lessons; and the challah and subsequent french toast tasted yummy!

May we all find the the open doors, the gifts in what is.

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We live in a broken world.  Inside us there beats a heart that has been broken more times than we’d care to remember, but there will always be someone to help us pick up the shattered pieces and begin the process of repair.  Sometimes with glue, sometimes with love, sometimes with miracles.  Always with God.

~Naomi Levy Hope will Find You  (p.152)

Washington DC skies following a storm.

My son is sick.  And it could be very simple or not.  We don’t know, but we are navigating the both modern medicine and alternative medicine. That’s what we do.  For over three months, he has been plagued by pain; the last 6 weeks have been out of control.  In my heart, I believe that all will be good; the journey might be difficult, but we are handling the current reality.

Last night, as I sat in a circle of new and loving friends, I felt caged; I had to get away.  Everyone was asking questions, sharing the curiosity, and offering insight.  All I wanted to do was dodge the conversation not because I didn’t want to share per se, but because sharing makes me re-live the pain and sadness again and again.

Throughout our lives all of us will experience periods of mental and physical challenges and periods of mental and physical health.  This is reality.  Personally, I have been blessed with both and my guess is that you have too.

In my reality, I have faced critical illness multiple times for my children.  Life threatening and ultimate survival has been our experience.  For the most part these experiences have taken years to recover both the physical and emotional trauma.

Being a friend to someone who is experiencing ill health is not easy.  And each family being challenged or plagued with chronic illness deals differently.  The one thing that I know is that words have power, so saying less and asking less is often what I need from others.  I want to know you care, but I don’t want to share each day, each ache, or my fears.  Once I share, the realities loom in front and the emotions flow; what I need is to navigate the realities and to stay focused on what I hope will be the end result – HEALING.

With that in mind, I wanted to give some guidelines that help many of us that have experienced serious illness. Regardless of the outcome, these guidelines offer insight into what I need:

  1. Trust that I will share the details if I want to share the details; don’t ask.  When my older son was ill, everyone wanted to know his prognosis.  There was a chance he might die and I didn’t want to say those words.  If there is something you need to know the grapevine will ultimately work by design.
  2. Each experience is unique, don’t share your experiences with a similar illness.  If I need your insight, I will ask.  Unsolicited experiences lead to fear mongering.
  3. Trust that I am getting medical help and if I need help finding a different practitioner, I will ask for guidance.
  4. Smiles and hugs make a huge difference in how we walk through the day.
  5. You can ask how we are, but don’t dig for answers.  I will share when it feels right.  Remember I don’t want to feed the energy of illness.
  6. Offer food or hanging out opportunities.  Having someone who doesn’t feel good in the house takes a lot of energy.
  7. Don’t judge how individuals are handling their journey.
  8. Don’t hold abruptness or grumpiness against the ill people or their care takers.
  9. Pray and vision for good health.  And when health looks depleted, pray for  those that are being challenged to find balance or peace within the storm.

Caring is a form of art; what works for you isn’t what will work for me.  Saying less will allow those in need of healing to maneuver their journey.  While the journey can be long, it is what it is.

Hang on for the ride.

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