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Posts Tagged ‘Rosh HaShana’

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

Day 28 - HineiniNearly every day, I take time to go inward through my journaling, meditation, and chanting practices, I often focus on remaining present. Breathing deeply, focusing inward, and ultimately figuring out where I am truly meant to be. This isn’t always easy because in truth I am also a bit scattered.

With Rosh HaShana on the horizon, this reflection seems more poignant than ever. Learning from those moments that I allow myself to go inward, I know that I need to navigate my life differently then I did this past year so . The goal is to ultimately show up for others as needed, but also honor my own needs.  It’s time for me to prioritize all the moving parts of my life while also creating boundaries around the things that I hold sacred.

May I always be present – not only for my family, my friends, and my world, but also for myself.

Hineini. Here I am. I am present. I am exactly where I should be.

Onward with love, light, & authenticity,
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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Polish-Slovakian border - Stephanie Randall

Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Randall; Location Pieniny National Park in Slovakia

 

Elul* is a time for deep reflection.

For one entire month, I will share my sometimes arduous but ultimately transformative journey towards Growing my Spirit AND Strengthening My Soul.

Writing is how I process all that is happening within me and around me. While I can express myself beautiful in conversation, if you really want to know what weighs heavy on my mind and spirit, read my writings. As my soul friend, Renee Airya, recently wrote, “I’m liberated by this sharing- not burdened by it.”

With every ounce of my being, I believe that each and every word will lead me to a new and healthier Jewish New Year. In these writings, I will openly share all the strength and brokenness that is part of me.

My decision to unveil both darker and lighter sides of my essence is meant as a tool. By embracing who I really am, I will be able to become more grounded which will enable me to soar higher in the coming year. With each word or step, my hope is to become a more authentic and graceful me.

Onward with love and light,
Chava

*Elul takes place the month before Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year. During this month, we are given the opportunity to reflect on our lives and work towards our future hopes, dreams, and realities.

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Take care of you and your spirit,
Take care of your loved ones and your beloved work,
Laugh out loud and smile often,
And always reach for what you really want – if not now, when. . .

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

This morning, I awoke to a trembling sensation in my gut, an overwhelming realization that I am inadequate as a human being. I do not believe I am alone in this realization.  This time of year, we are called to reflect on where we are and where we need to go.

I know that I am not really inadequate, but I also know that I have yet to do enough, to be enough, or to honor myself enough. I live on a fence, I have one foot reaching for the progressive world as one arm has never let go of the traditional world.  And my other limbs dangle near unknown terrain at any given moment.  How I interpret life’s journey is neither one way or another.

In my awareness, I find myself seeking the wisdom, the discernment, and the passion to be honest with where I am.  Ridiculously, I note that self-compassion never seems to be a part of my journey.

On Rosh HaShana, our liturgy says, “Who will live and who will die”.  This is the phrase that startled me awake this morning. In the most significant prayer of our Rosh HaShana liturgy, we recite Unetaneh TokefLet Us Cede Power.  My modern soul has no way of processing it and my progressive soul realizes that there is always room for growth. This prayer literally takes my breath away and empowers me to breathe deeply at the same time.

With less than a week before the new year, I pray that I am worthy of life and that I always live life to the fullest.

May I remember to live my passion and have compassion.
May I be the change I want to see in the world
and accept the things I can not change.
May I climb mountains and take time to coast.
May I be the best me that I can be.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

 

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I am here to live out loud.
~Emile Zola

The moon is my guide; it allows me to mark the passing of time. Looking up into the night skies, the moon centers my spirit and keeps me grounded in life.  When the moon is whole, my entire body vibrates with an intensity and joy that is an integral part of my being. For some reason, I feel much more whole as a person when the light of the full moon is shining.

Full Moon Elul 5775. Courtesy of Jeff Keni Pulver

Courtesy of Jeff Keni Pulver: Full Moon Elul 5775.

 With the passing days  of Elul (within the Jewish calendar), I know that a little less than two weeks from now, I will be celebrating Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year.  My soul work during this time is to honor the energy that is part of me.  Allowing myself to live in my power and to trust my voice has been strengthened by this month’s full moon.

I am an intense and passionate woman; I love life and choose to live out loud. For various reasons, much of my life was buried away in a cocoon of silence. While I may be an introvert, I choose to allow for open windows into my soul. I know that if I want to make a difference, sharing my values, my views, and the passion is not optional. Years ago, I read a saying that has stayed with me:

“Silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech.”
~Susan Sontag

Without question, I know that my life would have been very different if so many people were not silent.  This realization is not cause for bitterness; instead it is a reminder to embrace life fully with all the intricacies that are part of who I am.

My hope and prayer is that the aliveness that has been strengthened during the full moon of Elul becomes part of my being every day of my life. Silence speaks louder than words, but words have a chance to change a potential collision course.

Hineini. . .Here I am!

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Sacred Vessel

“it was when she dipped deep inside,
and scooped out her very essence –
and then stretched her arms outwards
with her hands full of stars –
it was when those stars passed thru
her fingers and out to the world –
it was then she understood she was a sacred vessel.
that we are all sacred vessels –
with the entire universe flowing thru us –
and all we need to do is open and be.”

© Terri St. Cloud

Elul
The treasured time between now and the new year.
Days, hours, minutes, pass. . . .each moment brings me closer to Rosh HaShana.
This is my last chance to do a cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of my soul.

I will never experience this passage of time again. While I am in awe of how I emerged with the love and devotion of many this year; I am also aware of how much I was forced to renegotiate life as I knew it. Thriving is a non-negotiable, yet I am navigating loss and mourning what was lost; I am also celebrating how the tides turn and  the many ripples soothe my core.

Now comes the holy work of grounding myself. Finding a new rhythm, processing the experiences of the last year, and creating a new spiritual space in Houston and more importantly within my nefesh, my soul.  The work is a little overwhelming, but incredibly sacred too.

Over the last year, I have felt like I was standing in quicksand on more than one occasion. And yet, I never went down. While the trek taught me a ton, it is not one that I wish on anyone else. And yet, I stretched and I grew. . . how beautiful is that.

I love that I always find good within the challenges; I love that I find beauty in nearly every chapter of life. And yet, there is a cost.  I have decided that Elul is the perfect time to go inward, to reflect, and to allow for healing.

What does a true Elul Journey look like? I seem to be in a quieter place allowing for the silence to penetrate my being. Taking time to connect with people that want to see my soul; reading writings that touch my core; and writing from the deepest parts of my heart.

My body, my mind, and my soul is reaching for the stars, clearing the fog, and striving to settle into a new rhythm.

Emerging
Thriving, reaching, living
Becoming the woman I was always meant to be.
I am making it!

Inside and out – I am trusting each step as I reflect where I’ve been, where I am, and where I am going.

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“We are all here for some special reason.
Stop being a prisoner of your past.
Become the architect of your future.”
R
obin Sharma, Author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Each year during the Jewish month of Elul (usually in August) through Rosh HaShana, we take the time to do a cheshbon hanefesh, an inventory of our soul.  For me that means taking the time to reflect deeply about the gifts and challenges of the last year, but this is also simply a kinetic time of year. As a Jewish professional, I am working to prepare the community for new beginnings which include the High Holy Days, school, and new programming.  As a mother, I am helping my now mostly grown sons begin their next chapters.  And in the midst of all this, I am usually feeling the need to write and look inward.

The holidays themselves are not easy for me because it is challenging to stay in a spiritual space when you are in charge of so many logistics. Yet the moment Tashlich occurs, I realize that I need to take time to go onward and allow for reflection.  Tashlich is a ritual which usually takes place on first day of Rosh Hashanah in the late afternoon.  During this time the participants symbolically cast off their sins by gathering along the banks of a river, stream, or the like and reciting prayers of repentance.  While many people choose to do this ritual in community, I love to do it alone.

And this year, I have decided to create Tashlich moments again and again.  This is a year of letting go, of saying good-bye to what was and embracing the beauty that is. In the last several months, I have been blessed to rethink my career path, my relationships, and much of my life.  None of this is easy, but it has been made easier because of my private journaling, my very public blogging, and some very beautiful friends.  I haven’t been alone and yet I have needed to spend a lot of time alone as a way of giving myself the room to gaze deeply into my soul.

On a good day, the journaling strikes chord after chord, but this doesn’t happen all the time or even most of the time.  More often than not, I am left with a rhythm that isn’t quite working for me.  I am a work in progress. At times the work has been bitter sweet; sometimes it is actually heart wrenching; and once the puzzle pieces come together, it can be beautiful.  Soul-searching is an art form and I am learning with each breath I take.

Writing  is the most profound tool that helps me find center, but that isn’t my only means to finding balance.  My world is full of chanting, drumming and physically moving (sometimes dance and sometimes hiking).  In the midst of all the soul work, my sons keep me grounded and remind me that while I have a lot of work to do, I am actually doing well!  My world is in fact quite amazing; I have all that I need and much of what I want.

As fortunate as I am, there is still work to be done. One way of moving forward is to create Tashlich moments by letting go of all that is holding me back.  Last night, it meant that it was time to get rid of a ton of clutter; I deleted thousands of emails from personal and professional relationships that no longer served me well.  In most cases, it was simply about not needing those particular emails; in other cases it was time to say good-bye to old connections. The delete button became a co-conspirator in propelling to close some doors as a way to open new doors. The goal is to make room for my next chapters and to celebrate what is.

As I woke up this morning, I was acutely aware that there was a shift within me.  The rays of sunlight were slowly warming me up and nudging me toward the many gifts that are very much a part of my life today. I am feeling (perhaps) like a butterfly as it begins to take flight.  Last night, I said good-bye to the cocoon that was binding in a myriad of ways.  With each passing moment, the bindings release and my wings are spreading; there is no turning back for me.

Support for my Tashlich moment when I opened up Facebook this morning to find the photo of  the Topsail Island beach where a group of my close friends are gathering this week.  While I am not with them physically, the photo reminded me that I am not alone.  Once I saw that photo, I realized that outside my front door is the space to create my own Tashlich moment.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Topsail, NC Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

Topsail, North Carolina – Courtesy of Tamar BenArdout

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Writing,
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul;
Is what makes me ONE. 

Summer2013AcrossLegs

A few weeks before the Jewish Holiday of Rosh HaShana, I was hoping and praying that my blog would hit 30,000 hits before the first of the year. It didn’t.  And then my older son said he thought I would hit 30,000 views by Yom Kippur, but I had given up.  Instead I wanted to forget the number of people reading my blog and focus on my contemplative writing.  The funny thing is that, in the end, my son was right – I will reach my goal.  And while reaching for my current goal, I remembered why I write and continued on that journey.

Writing jazzes my soul, nourishes my body, and makes it possible for me to breathe.  I love writing; without it, my life would be empty.

Blogging has helped to give my writing feet.  I am eternally grateful for that gift and for those that take time to read my ramblings.  While I will always love to write, it does become a little more energized when I know I am touching people with my words.

Just want to say a little thank you to you, the reader.  I couldn’t have reached the nearly 30,000 views.

May I be worthy of reaching more and more people with my writing; may I make a difference for good with my words.

With blessings & light,
Chava

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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 27 Elul or 3 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!

~ ~ ~

“And tears came before he could stop them, boiling hot then instantly freezing on his face, and what was the point in wiping them off? Or pretending? He let them fall.”
Quote by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

~ ~ ~

Smiling comes easy to me; laughing out loud is quite the norm for me; sharing my heart and soul through writing and schmoozing is how I walk through life.

As much as I am comfortable sharing through the use of words, I struggle to openly share my tears.   Yet I am learning that those that love me want to hold me through my tears and through my pain; they also love to hold me when I am smiling, laughing, and happy.  My friends love me for who I am – always.  (Moment of truth: My friends may not always like EVERYTHING about me, but they put up with me because they are truly my friends.)

This past few months have been humbling for me.  I have shedded more than a few tears as I cope with my current reality.  Losing my job and struggling to make ends meet has been a painful experience for me.  Knowing that I am not giving my children what they need at times is also rough.  Yet, I am doing alright, I am navigating life in the best ways that I know how.  Even though I know this, there are still moments when tears fall uncontrollably.

Last week, I hung up on a friend when the tears became a little too out of control.  Did I have to? ABSOLUTELY not. . . .but I did.  And then I had the audacity to worry about whether or not I offended my friend and whether she would ever talk to me again.  STUPID.  Of course she would talk to me; she felt horrible that I was struggling as I was.  Another friend called me within a day of that and reminded me that I am allowed to call anytime, not only when I am calm, cool, and collected.

So, as this year comes to a close and next year opens, I am going to try to be a little more authentic with my tears by not holding them back from those that are my soul friends.  I love that I have people in my world that truly love all of me.  Crying allows me to release some of the deep pain that sometimes penetrates my being; those tears are a beautiful release.  My goal for the rest of my life is to realize that I really don’t have to go it alone.

May we are be blessed to feel openly with ourselves and those we love.

With blessings & light,
Chava

PS- When I was a young girl in the 1970s, Free To Be was a hit record.  One of my favorite songs from the album was “It’s All Right to Cry” – Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall, Performed by Rosey Grier.  Somehow the words always resonated with me even if it wasn’t so easy for me to cry; they still do.

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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 24 Elul or 6 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!

~ ~ ~

“The only way to get it together . . . is together.”
Quote by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
(1924-2014)

~ ~ ~

As we go into our last Shabbat before Rosh HaShana, I am feeling grateful for the world I live.  Time and time again, I feel comforted by the village that continues to sustain not only me, but the world of Tikun Olam (Repairing the World).

In my own life, I continue to feel loved and supported with each and every step I take.  Earlier this week, I shared in my blog how things really are, the realities of my life http://wp.me/pthnB-Fg – Following that blog, I heard from quite a few people that were profoundly loving and supportive in a multitude of ways.  And even though, nothing has changed much since I wrote the blog, I feel a bit stronger because of the softness that surrounds me.

This week, Tucson has been surrounded by all sorts of clouds from what some see as the looming storms.  Whenever I see the clouds, I reflect back to the metaphors of nature.  The clouds provide a soft support for me, a cocoon of sorts.  And whenever I have moments of darkness, I frequently find the light shining through the cloud at what seems to be the perfect moment.  Angels appear to lift me; friends call to show they care; more hours of work emerge so that I can better make ends meet.  There are so many wonderful people in my life that surround me and support me in a myriad of ways. In truth, somehow I always feel cushioned from life’s blows and the soft-looking clouds remind me to trust that I really am ok!

Together we can make a difference.  I love how people work together to make a difference for good.  Does it always work – no, but it often does.  And when it does work, the forces feel beautifully aligned with the universe.  Being part of a world that people work together for good is one of the things that always makes an impact on me and puts a warm smile on my face.

As we move into the holiest time of the Jewish year, may we all remember to support those we love and the larger world too.  Together we can make the world a better place; we can impact those close to us and those farther away.  Let’s work together to make a difference for good.

With blessings & light,
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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