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Posts Tagged ‘refugees’

(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

My children are everything to me. I went through hell to have them both and ultimately  my love is beyond unrelenting.

I am a mother before anything else. Yes, I am also an writer, an educator, a human being, and some many other things. But being a mother is what rocks my world. I don’t take a day for granted – how can I? I almost lost my older son multiple times and my younger son was really ill for such a long time. Life has not been easy.

Here’s the thing though. . . when you have children, life is never simple. We have to care for them when their tired and we are sick. We have to show up when we’d rather curl up in a ball and read. And sometimes, their curiosity has a way of being destructive and inviting us to clean up.

I remember thinking that each and every stage of their younger years was my favorite stage. I loved watching them grow. Playing with them as little ones and having them still be central in my life as adults is the best!

Day 16 - your people are my peopleCreating the best possible life for my children has always been the goal. While I have never had extra money and I have often gone without some important basics, I would do anything I could to keep them safe from sickness or the ills of the world. I would cross borders illegally; I would climb mountains and give them my last bite of food. My children are EVERYTHING to me.

So what are we doing about the children being kept in detention centers? You know, the ones torn from their parent’s arms? If we are loving humans then we are doing what we can. For me, I am planning to work with Project Lifeline and caravan to McAllen, Texas on Saturday, September 29th.  https://www.facebook.com/events/201578690513600/

  • Will you join Project Lifeline on this journey?
  • Will you donate money for supplies? or supplies?

Please take a moment to open the link above. We need your help. These children, their parents, their families are OUR PEOPLE; they are my people.

Join Project Lifeline or HIAS in trying to make their lives better. And if you know of other great organizations, please share. We need to know who is on the ground and doing amazing work trying to make a horrific situation better.

Note: This artwork and blog was inspired by Shoshana Jedwab’s ‘Where You Go’. Take a moment to listen to this AMAZING song!  https://bit.ly/2KbGfWf 

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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(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

Once I figure out my thoughts around those I love and what I believe, I tend to hold them deep within my spirit for what feels like eternity. The only challenge is that relationships change and so do the issues. Over time everything evolves and people or things that once seemed unimportant become more prominent in our lives. And what once seemed unimaginable becomes the image that invades your thoughts. Politics has continuously reinforced that last thought.

Transformation happens.

“To transform the world,
we must begin with ourselves.

~J. Krishnamurti

As an activist, as a woman, as a friend, and as a mother, I have had to learn to release my desire to hold fast to my ideas. Time and again, I have become enlightened by new information. Feelings change, circumstances change, and it’s my job to ride the waves and do the work of transformation.

As hard as it is for me, I have watched myself change so much over the years. While I have always been Jewish, the denominations I have connected to have varied from time to time; today I am much more grounded in a more ecstatic Judaism. Once I was married, now I am not. My sons have taught me since birth to honor where they are and  we all know that children are always changing; today my sons are on their own journeys as adults. And I have lost lovers and friends, but I have also gained some precious new ones.

The political environment in the US and in Israel have given me many moments of pause. While I was once silent and completely uninformed, now I am far from it. Most of my life I didn’t consider labor practices or the realities of climate change, now I can’t get them out of my mind. I never thought that I would feel compelled to become an ally for LGBTQ or a witness to such blatant racism within our society. And the devastating conditions that refugees are forced to endure at the hands of our government is appalling.

Day 14 - OnwardToday, I have to keep showing up to whatever is in front of me. Moving forward is not an option. If someone needs me or an issue is calling to my attention, I have to find out what I can do to make this world a better place.

My job is to live life fully and out loud. It is to remain empowered “to do the next right thing” (Glennon Doyle) even as I live in the “marvelous messy middle” (SARK). Yes life is not as easy as I’d like, but I am so blessed to be always be moving forward.

How about you? How are you moving forward in your life?

Onward with love, light, & creativity,
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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Today is Day 13 of My Selfie Challenge. This is my time to look at how I walk in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bind my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it is my hope that as I take each photo, I will learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it is my time to find the beauty that is me.

~ ~ ~

There is so much going on in the world. . .horrible stuff that needs our attention. Here is just some of what is filling my mind:

American Disabilities Act
Common Sense Gun Reform
Human Rights for all
DACA
No Wall
Racial Inequality
Fairtrade
Pipelines
Education
Climate Change
LGBTQ Rights
Refugees/Immigration
National Park
and
Hurricane Harvey/Natural Disaster Recovery
and
Israel
Palestine
Shalom

There is so much on my mind – now & always. My heart is racing as I realize how daunting this never-ending work is.

Day 13Tonight, I am wiped. I haven’t stopped for what feels like eternity, but somehow I still have hope. I also have the deep realization that although I don’t do enough. I do the best I can. I have done and will continue to do whatever I can for humanity and all of it’s moving parts.

What’s beautiful right now are the many grassroot organizations as well as more established organizations that are motivating and inspiring so many of us to act.

My list is no where near conclusive. I can’t stop adding to it.

Native Americans
Voters Oppression
#MeToo

What about the challenges of individuals, communities, and countries everywhere.

Hinieni (Here I am)! I am here to serve.

Sending love, light, hope, & blessings. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nearly two weeks have passed since ‘the call’ came in.  A neighbor, who I barely knew, felt the need to let me know that three men have been continuously taking turns driving past my house, stopping, staring, and staying for up to six minutes. My guess is that you may wondering why. . . I know we are. It appears they didn’t like the sign we had put in our window, but we don’t even know this for sure.

The call shattered any equilibrium that I was feeling. You see during my younger years, childhood violence was a norm which as an adult has left me navigating a very real deep-seeded fear of any kind of violence or rage. As much as I have tried, that fear often sits just below the surface ready to reappear when given a cause. On most occasions, I am able to quickly regain my footing when I encounter a ‘blip’ – not this time.

Having my house ‘watched’ has traumatized me and left me feeling some very intense fear and sometimes enormous anger towards the perpetrators and at those that feel the need to blame the victim.  I am also completely despondent that my sons and I are walking in the world differently than we did a few weeks ago.

In truth, the dynamics of the relationship probably originated with this story: https://lightwavejourney.wordpress.com/2016/11/05/yard-sign-troubles/

~ ~ ~

As activists, it was only natural for us to call our congressmen, write some letters, donate money, rally, and put up a sign. So after one of the airport rallies, following our new president’s immigration ban, my son put a ‘Refugees Welcome’ in our front window. Let’s just say three of our conservative neighbors reacted poorly, really poorly.

aryeh-holding-refugees-welcom

My son, Aryeh, holding up the ‘Refugees Welcome’ sign at the first Airport Rally following the Immigration Ban on January 28, 2017

What has stunned me most about what happened was not the neighbors that felt the need to instill fear, but ‘my friends’ and acquaintances that believe that we caused the situation and that we should have simply not displayed our views.

Chutzpah!!!! How dare someone tell me that in some way, shape, or form I am asking for it. Bullshit!

Each of us have a choice in how we walk in the world. Some of us choose to live consciously and to wear our hearts on our sleeves. That’s called transparency or authenticity.  For me, there is no option.

Violence, instilling fear, and bullying is never OK! NEVER! And I have a right to choose how I walk in the world without the fear of retribution for going against someone’s belief. Maybe things have changed since Trump took office, but the United States I treasure allows for each of us to have our own views and to express them too. Sometimes we have to navigate different guidelines, boundaries, or laws – that’s fine. AND sometimes, we have to stand by our principles and buck the system. I am OK with that too.

While  we later found out the ‘Welcome Refugee’ sign is not acceptable within our HOA (Homeowners Association), we didn’t know it when the sign first went into the window. Yes we still believe that refugees should be welcomed, we didn’t put the sign up to cause problems. The sign went up because we wanted to share our passion and maybe even ignite a others into action for refugees. And the sign went down when we realized we were not following the HOA bylaws. If the men were really representing our HOA, they could have followed procedures to inform us that were braking the rules. But that contact wasn’t what happened; stalking did.

How dare these men bully us by stalking our home.

As I said, the sign is down. And after about ten days, it appears the stalking may have ceased.  Fear now guides our evening and nighttime walks, but we are pushing through and starting to return to feel calmer.  And we still have a few people in our lives that probably fear for our safety and wish we’d simply live a little more silently.

Being silent when bigotry and hatred are guiding the political climate will lead to more of the same. So. . .even if I feel fear, I will join others who are trying to make our world a better place.

#NoBanNoWall #RESIST

Update: Since originally working on this blog, I have started to heal. I am still tired to the core, but I am starting to sleep better and believe that everything is moving in the right direction. Healing takes time, but my spirit is better than it was due to my fabulous landlord and some very thoughtful neighbors. 

Whatever fear I felt or may still feel is negligible compared to refugees and those that love them. #RefugeesWelcomeHere

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“The words are purposes.
The words are maps.”
~ Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck

Congested

In so many ways the world is so very dark and yet perhaps we need to look through different eyes. It is time to open our eyes a little wider and listen more deeply.

Yes – Bureaucratic hatred is rampant under the guise of conservative realism. Yes – Human rights are being thwarted by those that lack the ability to consider life outside their own castles. Yes – Climate Change is a farce (NOT!) and the nearly 97 percent climate scientists are wrong.

The prevailing opinions of many of today’s conservatives are hard to stomach. Some believe it is time to cleanse the United States by rounding up that say Allahu Akbar or connect to the core religious tenets of Islam. And if you a black person, you better consider keeping your hands up and make no sudden moves when you encounter many of the police officers who are protecting our cities. (I know not all officers act this way.) And it didn’t seem fair that I had to prepare my Native American son to look people in the eyes and speak clearly or else he may be seen as an immigrant and treated poorly.  (Note: Of course I want my son to speak clearly, but I wish it wasn’t fear or anticipation that made me drive him nuts with my corrections.)

While I could get stuck in this deplorable place, I am choosing to look at the world through a different lens.

Instead of focusing on the darkness, I am celebrating those that inspire me to reach outside myself and take care of the world – all of the world. I am doing exactly as Mr. Rogers said by “looking for the helpers”. There are so many people working towards impacting the world for good and honoring human rights at every turn.

Blessings are flowing in every crevice of our society.  There are so many people doing what they can for tikkun olam, repairing the world.  There are those that are:

  • working with the homeless population.
  • educating people to see refugees as people that have the right to thrive without daily doses of terror.
  • creating opportunities to help every facet of the human race.
  • engaging in a Two State solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • rejuvenate our environment to lesson the impact of climate change.
  • healing the sick and doing their best to wipe out AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
  • standing up with and for Black Lives Matter.
  • speaking out for the immigrants and doing all they can to support their presence in the United States.
  • trying to stop the NRA from controlling as they do and hopefully one day eliminating the terror that they seem to instigate with their policies.
  • and so much more. . . .

In this moment, I am trying to decide whether to do as much as I can in many different areas that need change or do I simply do the my part in only one aspect of tikkun olam (repairing the world}. Passion literally courses through my veins. Caring about human beings, means that I find shutting down so very challenging to do. While I know that I am not alone, I feel relieved that many are doing their part to improve the world. My job is to figure out where my power lies.  For this moment, I love knowing that I do find ways to make a difference. Even though, I often navigate how to best use my voice, I love knowing that I do not walk in silence. I use my voice, my actions, and my teachings to make a difference for good.

I do my best to do what I can. How about you?????  There is a huge world out there that needs our voices, our actions.

May I never forget that my voice and my actions have power.
May I always use my voice and my actions for good.

May we all remember that we are part of ONE RACE – HUMAN!!!

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Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

SEEKING LIGHT:Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

(Note: WordPress seems to have a mind of it’s own right now and will not let me organize paragraph’s and spaces as needed.)

     Forgive me, I am feeling the urge to purge some of the thoughts that keep racing around my brain. Yes, this is absolutely a diatribe. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop my mind from living and reliving the many nightmares that I see surrounding me, my community, our nation, and our world. The world feels like it is getting worse by the moment.
     With information coming to all of us at a rapid fire pace, it is hard to convince myself that things aren’t really as bad as they seem. They are bad. Our world is a really challenging place and regardless of our politics, we are all feeling it.
Before I start, let me say, I am writing in my blog and I don’t want to be politically correct. Mostly I have been respectful of others on my blog. I share my journey, many of thoughts, and now it is time for me to say what I really about Israel, marginalization of black people, gun control, immigration, women’s rights, climate change, modern day slavery and the list could go on for hours.
     While I accept the fact that none of my thoughts are simple, they feel like they should be. Human rights matter!!! Period. No question. If you feel differently, please don’t continue to read. And in all honesty, if you have Republican leanings, it is due to so many of your beliefs and/or the staunch Republican politicians that our country is in the condition it is.
     I love people. I am a bleeding heart liberal that wishes that I could really make a positive impact in not only my community, and our nation, but in the larger world. I do what I can and I always will.
     Let’s start simple, why do people purchase items made from slave labor? Why would anyone want a sweet morsel of chocolate that comes at the expense of another human being. In truth, I understand that not everyone is aware of who makes their clothing or who picks their cocoa beans, but seriously, if you do know, why wouldn’t you change your ways and look for ways to end slave labor? I don’t have two spare cents to rub together, but I have made decisions for how I shop. If you want to learn more ask. . .I will share. But you don’t need me, there are amazing resources in the fair-trade world. And if money is your concern, don’t buy what you can’t afford or go to thrift shops, consignment stores, etc. to get what you need and want. At least, this way, those that are human rights violators don’t receive direct benefit. And if you really feel like you need something that you can’t live without then only buy exactly what you need until you can afford products that take human rights into consideration. And if your curious, yes that does mean that Hershey is ENEMY #1.
Next
     Climate change is hurting our universe. It isn’t a fabricated tale and yet there are so many limited people that believe this. Look at the storms, look at the landscape, the pollution, and look at your carbon footprint. And if your really curious, consider taking the time to study what scientists are saying, not politicians that want to fabricate a story to meet their needs. And look at the loss of lives, home, and land over the last decade.
Next
     Having a child is a choice. There are so many reasons that women need to make a choice that may not seem “right’ to you and even to me, but it isn’t my right to dictate how people take care of their bodies. As a survivor of rape, I can’t imagine how I would have responded to being told I couldn’t have an abortion. While I didn’t have that experience, I wouldn’t want it. And as for some pregnancies, if I were to have gotten pregnant during my fertile years, it would have been an unwanted baby. I wanted children more than words could say, but my one surviving birth was a miracle. I lost many pregnancies before and after my biological son was born. Once doctors understood my genetic reality, there was no way I would have wanted to carry a pregnancy to term or even until I miscarried it. Why should I even have to? Why should anyone?
     Let women decide how to take care of their bodies and meet their needs. And don’t make people go to back alleys and have abortions by scummy beings or doctors that are awesome enough to break the law. Let’s not go back in time and cause the devastation that once was.
Next
     All my life, I have heard about the countries that turned their backs on the Jews before and during the Holocaust. And now that refugees are trying to navigate towards safety and a life of freedom, we are perpetuating the same realities that existed in the late 1930s and in the 1940s. We are creating situations that allow for the black market to take over. Why can’t we open our country up and make immigration easier. I feel like I live in a population full of prejudice with an ethnocentric politicians/people.
     Instead of building a fence, make it easier for people to live and then watch them flourish. While it make take a while, people will thrive once they are given the room to soar.
Next
     How many more school children and students have to be murdered at the hands of someone that should never have had had access to a gun? For $200 you can go out and buy a gun. Perhaps you are facing an emotional crisis and you feel despondent for a period. No problem, just go to the local store and buy a gun, a couple bullets, and then take your life. Or better yet, you find out that someone screwed you, why not just buy a gun and blow them and their family away. It really is that simple. Why not consider a federal tax and a local tax for each and every gun you own. We can do this yearly or upon purchase. Heck, our dogs need a license to live in our homes.
     And seriously folks, who needs assault riffles? I am reasonably certain that no one does except perhaps military, law enforcement, and drug dealers.
     There are many steps that can be taken from all encompassing background checks, waiting periods, significant taxation, required training, and making it illegal for children to have access to all guns. Finally it should be illegal to have undocumented private transfer with no background checks.
     While I don’t understand why most people need a gun, I do understand that more can be done to prevent firearm related deaths.
Next
     Black Lives Matter! Period. While we can all say all lives matter, I know that as a white woman, the color of my skin will not marginalize in any way, shape, or form. I am secure that even if I made a mistake and ran a red light, I wouldn’t have to fear police brutality. And while I know the majority of officers are keeping our streets safe, there are some that aren’t and too many that are being kept on the force despite previous actions. And while I know there are challenges in the black community, we aren’t doing enough in society to change this reality. Violence begets violence – I pray that no more officers lose their lives due to hatred for ‘the uniform’ and I pray that those same officers show discernment while also keeping themselves safe.
Next
     Israel occupies territories and then wonders why a subjugated people are angry and ungrateful. Gaza is an open air prison that Israel has more or less created.
     No children should have to see their parents blown away on any side of the fence. And should I even discuss the fence? I will skip that here. No one should have to fear going out on an evening walk. And yet none of this is simple. Daily, there have been regular attacks on Palestinians in the territory, even the recent deaths of Israelis. And you wonder why violence is being perpetrated and people are ready to explode. We keep building settlements and destroying the dignity of those that live on their land. Again, I do not encourage violence, but I do think the current government is destructive and destroying any chance of peace in our lifetime.
Finally
     Our world could be so much better, if different choices were made. With every ounce of my being, I pray for peace for all.
From Langston Hughes:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

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“From a certain point onward
there
is no longer any turning back.
That is the point that must be reached.”
Franz Kafka

This has been the year of trials and tribulations.  In so many ways 5775 has been a nightmare and in many more ways it has been the year that I will always remember for the many and very real blessings.

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley
Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise always came, despite the floods that seemed to leave me profoundly dark and sometimes fearing for how I would navigate life.

This was the year that I said to good-bye to so many chapters of my life. My marriage formally ended, I nearly lost my profession, and hope was nothing more than a dream. Loneliness became my friend, becoming destitute was nearly a reality, and I was forced to say good-bye to some of the most beloved souls within my life.

5775 was a nightmare, it was a dark tunnel.  AND within the dark tunnel, I found some of the most amazing sparks of light.

Financial Challenges

My position as a Jewish educator ended abruptly, leaving me void of income and the finances to move forward. Yet doors opened up and my family never starved.

Whenever I feared that I would be destitute, jobs came out of nowhere.  Jobs emerged because my friends found positions for me. When my career went half-time and then ended, care-giving allowed me to care for people that were sometimes at the end of their lives, but always challenged by life circumstances. Physical pain was part of their every move; emotional challenges were inevitable. My kindness, my gentleness, and my strength allowed some beautiful souls to live with as much dignity as possible; I made a difference.

And when care-giving couldn’t sustain me any longer, so many friends afforded me the possibility to survive and ultimately thrive. While I feared survival, I never really had to a reason to worry. Everything I needed to survive was available to my family. A friend gave me a home to live in for six months, beloved friends and family gave us what we needed to move and survive until I could start working, at every turn positions allowed our family to have exactly what we needed.  And just as I was getting ready to sustain myself on hourly wages, and another friend nudged me to apply for the position that lead me to be exactly where I am supposed to be at this time. As tears run down my face, I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be in Houston with an amazing community including co-workers that fill my life with joy.

I love forever. 

And this year couldn’t protect me from the pain of loss. I did have to say good-bye or let go of what could no longer be part of my life.

After years of separation, my marriage formally ended. For now, I can share that when I married nearly 26 years ago, I didn’t believe that my marriage could end in any way other than death. It did end and while I have had years to get used to what that ending meant, it is still profoundly sad.

When I was forced to say good-bye to our beloved Shachar, my sweet puppy. I was comforted by the belief that my family gave her enormous love in the year that we had her. Her abused spirit ended too early, but for one year she was treated with the love that was part of our every interaction, even the ending of her life. And as I was struggling for our family’s loss and some very physical pain, Jennifer and David showed up. They didn’t hesitate to come to Aryeh and I who were buckets of tears and pain. They just held us metaphorically and helped us move forward.

Finally, I had to let go of my best friend, a person who I thought would be in my life forever. For reasons that are somewhat beyond my grasp. . .there are no tomorrows. Sometimes all you can say is good-bye. I only wish I had the grace to say good-bye without sharing the deep loss that was a part of me; my heart quite literally shattered as my entire being yearned to understand.  This was the year I was forced to simply let go; I was given no choice.

With each and every step, I was never alone; I was surrounded by love. My friends always showed up in some very profound ways.

This has also been the year when I faced my inability to be present for those I love. I can send love letters, I can pray and send healing energy.  But I have so many friends who are facing very real physical pain.  Their pain is deep and all I want to do is wrap my arms around them and I can’t and I may never again.  The reality that sometimes there are no tomorrows cuts like a knife. While my life has been full in all the right ways, today I don’t have the means to be more present.  And there are people that I love as deeply as I love my family, they are my family of choice. Realizing that I can not be there breaks my heart.

As I get older, I have learned that life ends, accidents happen, physical pain hurts. . .with and without warning.  When my dear friend Helen died a few years ago, I was crushed that I couldn’t be there for her family, but I couldn’t.  At the same time, I have learned the most valuable lesson possible. I have learned to love completely and to treasure what is.  Even when you lose a beloved friend or lover, what you had lives on.  That love is what made you what you are.

The World
And the world, can we talk about Israel, Black Lives Matter, Our Nation, Refugees, Climate Change. . . .the list goes on and on; my mind never shuts off.  The world is struggling and I am struggling with her. Beauty comes as I stand with so many other individuals that care. I am not alone. Regardless of what language we give to each of the issues, I am surrounded by passionate people who care and want to make a difference for good.

While I can never do enough; I am doing what I can and that has to be enough for this moment.

Finally
Moving forward means acknowledging the pain, but willingly deciding that life is worthy of swimming upstream.  Thriving is not optional. The world is precious and full of so many beautiful souls. While tomorrow is not a given, this moment is here. So to quote my ‘virtual’ friend Jeff Keni Pulver, “Live, Life, Now!”

Every morning the sun rises. Life may sometimes have painful moments, but I know that I am always surrounded by light.

5776 – Hineini, Here I am!

Onward with love,
Chava

PS – To each and every one of my friends that have been there for me – thank you! I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

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