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

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

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  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 26 Elul or 4 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of  difference you want to make.”
Jane Goodall
Primatologist, Anthropologist, and U.N. Messenger of Peace

~ ~ ~

(Note: Before you read this blog entry, know that I am fairly hard on myself.  I believe that everything I do in life can impact the world for good and for bad.  Every interaction I have with people or the environment can make a difference.  So I try to walk in the world knowing that I need to be mindful at all times.  And since I am being brutally honest, I try to surround myself with people that embody conscious living as they walk in the world.  I want to connect with people that believe in their power and actively want to make a difference for good.)

Everything we do matters.

AND we cannot sustain equal intensity in all areas of our lives.  Sometimes we have to decide what focuses we will have.  My hope is that each of us decide on 3-5 actions that can impact the world in positive ways.   And while I am at it, let me throw out the idea that living positively needs to begin at home.

Each of us will define home according to our own uniqueness.  For some of us, it is simply our own little family unit; for others, it could be their spiritual community; and for others, it could be their neighborhood, their community, their spiritual community, their ethnic group.. . .the list can go on and on.

Take a moment and consider what you can do in your life to make the world a little bit healthier than it currently is.  Below I will share a few things on my family’s list.

  1. Take a moment to smile or have a sweet verbal exchange with nearly everyone I meet.
  2. Make time for the people and things that jazz you.
  3. Always consider your carbon footprint.
  4. Conscious eating and shopping – organics, local, human rights, fair-trade
  5. Adopt rescue animals
  6. Recycle, Reuse – Try to obtain and pass on as much as we can at thrift shops, free cycle, Craig’s List, friends, etc.
  7. Share your views/listen to others’ views
  8. Listen to music that inspires living positively
  9. Connect with people who share our beliefs/values – interest groups (political, environmental, social, spiritual, human rights, etc.)
  10. Spread light

In truth, I am in the midst of thinking what I need to focus on so that I can make a positive impact in our world.  I am fortunate that I can do a ton, but I do believe it is time to focus a little more heavily in one area of my life.  I will let you know once I decide.

How about you? “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of  difference you want to make.”

With blessings & light,
Chava

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(This blog was adapted from a blog I wrote for my work blog)

A new tradition has begun.  Each week, I will be sharing an environmental teaching to my students and then blogging about it for both work and then also on my personal blog.    My hope is to offer a bissel, a little, Torah and an insight on how to take the teaching home.

Teaching:

“It is not up to us to complete the task (of repairing the world).
Yet neither are we free to desist.”
~Pirikei Avot 2:16

In order to make this world the best that it can be, we have to begin by doing our part wherever we can.  While each of us has a job to do, we can’t do it alone.  In order to make a difference, we have to work as a team with others.  Essentially that means that while you have to do your part to make the world stronger, healthier, better, you don’t have to do it alone and you don’t have to complete the work you started.  Just take one step and begin the journey. Ultimately you will find if you are doing the work, others will join you.

When I asked our students how they would do their part to take care of the environment, I heard a lot of great answers.  I was touched by the engaging conversation and the fact that many wanted to respond.  Our students care.   I was especially touched by the children that said that they always ride their bike to school instead of taking the bus or a car.  I also loved that many children carry a bag with them to pick up trash when they are walking outdoors.

With that in mind, I began to reflect, how can I refine what I am already doing?  And I came up with some ways..  Walking or biking more would be good; I will start walking or biking to work one to two days a week if not more. I will cook from scratch more often; I am pretty good now, but I should do better. And finally, the boys and I will start turning off electronics for an hour or so each night so we can read together, cook together and walk Maddie, our dog, together.  The goal is to nourish our relationship while also using less energy.

Another idea is taking shape for my family on a personal level even though it was inspired by my new Religious School Initiative, Turning Trash into Treasure.  For school it is simple, turn trash into art projects and school supplies.  What could that same initiative mean to our home.  Well here are some ideas and I’d love a few more.

  • When you are done with a book or other household object, pass on or pay it forward.
  • Old plastic containers can be used to collect water from rain showers; the collected water can be used to water plants. Recycling costs in many ways; if you can use without recycling – yay!
  • If you have an old towel, wrap up your next gift box with the towels.
  • Old towels can be used as cleaning rags.
  • Compost – I need to finally start doing that!
  • Use what you have instead of wasting or ignoring it.

There are many other ideas that I am missing; I’d love to hear your ideas.

All of the ideas above help minimize your carbon footprint.   You can also do things,

  • buy local produce
  • shop close to home
  • grow your own produce
  • bike or walk as often as possible
  • limit how much trash you create
  • enjoy life from where you are

For more information about minimizing your carbon footprint; there are many links on the World Wide Web for you to explore what it means to consider your carbon footprint and how to calculate your carbon footprint.  Each of us can easily and sometime with challenge do so much more to help strengthen our environment.  All you have to do is take one step in order to make a difference.

One of my favorite songs is The Garden Song written by David Mallett song by many of my favorite folk artists:

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
‘Til the rain comes tumbling down

This song reminds me that we are all on the journey of life; my hope is that most if not all of us take time to consider what little and large things we can do to make the environment healthier than it is.  All we have to do is take one step or many steps.  While you don’t have to complete the work yourself, living consciously and thoughtfully can ultimately make a difference for our world and repairing what ails her.

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