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Posts Tagged ‘Shabbat’

Life is really messy.

Around every corner there are ups and downs. Moments when you are soaring and moments when you are flopping around like a fish out of water. And if you are intense like me, it may feel like your life is bouncing around as quickly as some people can flip a coin.

Sometimes I wonder if I walk the world this way because my childhood didn’t teach me many tools for coping with life’s grit. And as a young adult and later a young mother, I learned to live as a chameleon. I buried many of my emotions and did what was expected of me. And for the most part I pulled it off fairly well. Or at least I think I did. Of course, what do I really know about how I was received by others.

To be transparent, my life has probably always been far from normal. As a young newly married woman, I faced nine miscarriages, several failed adoption attempts, an adoption, buried my parents, navigated serious illnesses for my children, employment struggles for the family breadwinner, and so much more.

Nonetheless, I engaged in living and doing whatever needed to be done to propel my family forward, support my community, and keep a smile on my face. I simply plugged away at living. I am not sure that I found it easy because interspersed with some really tough moments, but I had dinner on the table every night. We welcomed people into our home nearly every Shabbat. I cooked meals for those who were ill and organized our community to help families in the midst of health crisises. I even kept my home  clean, laundry done, and always held down a part time job.

I had an I can do ANYTHING spirit, only inside that is not how I felt. I used to wonder why everyone in the world could keep their houses clean, nurture their children, and have a full life.  Everyone seemed to do it with an ease that ALWAYS escaped me. It is only since I started following social media closely that I realized that I was never alone. All of us have our own personal struggles.

Fortunately social media, Oprah, and podcasts have helped me realize that I am so not alone in this very real struggle. Only over the last five or so years have I  been introduced to the wisdom of three people that rock my world as creatives because of how honestly they shared their struggles of living in the messy middle. They inspire people to:

  • Live in the “marvelous messy middle”. ~ SARK
  • “Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

And to understand:

  • “Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real.” ~Glennon Doyle

Each of these amazing women choose to share their personal journeys of living in the midst of life’s sometimes very challenging realities while being aware that moving forward doesn’t always present us with easy solutions for living according to what society deems “normal”. They continually inspired me (and still do) to show up in my world as authentically as possible.

Hiking BootsI feel blessed to now walk with ease in my own messy middle and the outer banks too. While it took me over fifty years to emerge fully as myself. I ultimately found my voice through writing, chanting, drumming, and only in the last year through painting little cards.  I am the woman I am because how I have chosen to navigate my own rocky paths.  I am so grateful that I learned to live out loud by sharing my life experiences without apology, accepting that I don’t fit into any box, and loving myself for who I am.

I have also done some really hard stuff including leaving the traditional Jewish community, moving cross country with my sons, divorcing my husband, and publicly changing my name when I realized my parents lost their right to name me.  I wanted a name that honored who I am today, so I gave myself one.  I am Chava Gal-Or. Chava means life because I am a woman who thrives regardless of what sh*t crosses her path and I become empowered by whatever life tosses in my direction. Gal-Or means wave of light; this is my reminder not only to be light, but to find the light in whoever and whatever crosses my path. Perhaps the hardest thing I am doing right now is sharing my life stories via my writing; I am not holding back, I am diving deep and navigating some really harsh realities that have lead me to rise as the woman I am.

Yes, I live in the messy middle. I feel deeply. I struggle to breathe when life overwhelms me. I often believe I don’t do enough to make our world a better place. I wonder if I love enough and do enough for my family, my work, my beloved friends, etc. I struggle with believing that I am worthy and yet I understand that the Inner Demon speaks loudly to me and it is my job to show up and keep showing up. On a good day, I quiet that voice and stretch my arms wide open to life. On a bad day, the demon wins, but I push forward anyway. I am learning.

Living in the messy middle has become a norm for me and I am OK with that. I am “perfectly imperfect” as Anne Lamott would say.  Hineini, Here I am!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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Note: Storytelling is one of my favorite past times.  What I love most about them is that a good story sometimes changes over time.  I wonder if my sister-in-law Eudice would remember this story as I did.  Hmmmmm. . . . 

Traditions and/or rituals.  Many of them have the potential to keep our family grounded and  actively engaged in life.

Since my later teenage years, I have grown to love family traditions around Shabbat and other Jewish Holidays; nearly every Jewish practice incorporates food.  From nuts to bolts, my family always tries to create tasty and healthy meals that conclude with dessert.  I love that this particular tradition was due to my amazing sister-in-law Eudice (who probably dragged my brother Ricky along for the ride).

Traditions need to be followed.  Regardless of whether or not, money is tight or any of us happen to be on diets; dessert is always part of the our Shabbat/holidays equation.  And if you are blessed to have an occasion when you may have financial challenges and/or weight struggles.   Oy.

With this in mind, I feel compelled to share one of most treasured memories because of the ridiculous nature of how it unfolded.

When I was a teenager and living in Israel, my sister-in-law and I were trying to honor our limited budget and our health journey too.  We had no extra money, but company was coming for Shabbat dinner.  With a tight budget and our diet looming, we started looking for a cheap dessert recipe that neither of us liked in the least.

After what seemed like hours of looking , we found it!!!! We found what we were looking for, a dessert that sounded disgusting to both of us.  I think that we believed that since it was called a dessert, it must be good to everyone else.  Somehow we lacked the wisdom to think that if it looked  gross to us, it probably wouldn’t be good for anyone else.

The making of  the ‘Orange Rind Pie’
As luck would have it, we not only found a recipe for what would ultimately become our infamous Orange Rind Pie, but we also had all the ingredients in the house.  We couldn’t help but laugh at our great fortune.  We were so happy to find a dessert that neither of us thought we would like.  So we mixed all the ingredients together and baked our scrumptious dessert.  When it came out of the oven, we looked at it with disbelief.

The pie looked absolutely disgusting.  It looked so yucky that my brother suggested that he try just a sliver to make sure it was edible.  Well, it wasn’t. . . .if I remember correctly, my brother took one bite of the pie and ran as quickly as his legs could carry him, he ran to the bakery so that he could buy some ‘real dessert’.  So much for finding a recipe that was gentle on our budget and good for our diet.

Guess now it is a good time to reflect that sometimes looks can be deceiving, but not always. 🙂

The D'Isa family's teeny tiny pie.  Made with love. (No doubt, THIS pie was amazing.)

The D’Isa family’s teeny tiny pie. Made with love.
(No doubt, THIS pie was amazing.)

With blessings & light,
Chava

PS- In case you are wondering, the reason I thought about the Orange Rind Pie today, was because yesterday, a good friend of mine emailed me a recipe for a dessert that needed orange rind.  Do you think I should try making it for this coming Shabbat?

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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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best 2 helpersFB

Friday nights rock in our house; regardless of what’s been going on all week, we always make time to just chill and enjoy one another.  A couple of Fridays ago was no exception.

What started as a good meal with some great company ended as one of the most fun evenings of all time! At some point during the meal, our company asked if we had covered any of our trees in prep for the upcoming frost.  I laughed.  Why would anyone ever consider covering nature?  And then I thought about the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’.  While  thoughts of ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘letting nature do what nature does’ were in the back of mind, the stronger desire to refrain from wasting nature rang even louder.

So with laughter in our guts and a mission to save our oranges from the harsh desert environment, Dovi and Aryeh led the way while Maddie (our dog) and I followed.   We went outside and picked oranges for well over an hour.   We had a blast and ended up with three large containers of the most amazing oranges I have ever had!  Yummy!!!

Never a dull moment. . . Chava

 

 

 

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