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Posts Tagged ‘Slavery’

Middah (character trait) focus: Courage to create

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.

“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse 

Before Passover, I had an idea.  I wanted to write my Omer Reflections exactly as I am doing and I wanted to include one of my own drawings to emphasize each middah (character trait).  While the idea was vivid in my head and I had already drawn a few simple illustration, I just didn’t have the courage to follow through with creating my drawings as part of my Omer Reflections practice.  I simply lost the courage.  Sharing my little drawings made me feel vulenrable, almost like I would be standing unclothed in front of an audience.  I couldn’t do that; I couldn’t leave myself wide open in that way.

As a regular blogger, a teacher/community leader, and an occasional storyteller, I am often in front of people with a goal of presenting an idea or a story.  I love to share my words, but I am beginning to realize that I have done a disservice to myself by not pushing myself to be creative in a way that might entail going a little outside of my comfort zone.

May I have a little more faith in my abilities to step outside my comfort zone, create, and then share my creations.

Drawing by: Chava Gal-Or

Drawing by: Chava Gal-Or

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Middah (character trait) focus: let go and say good-bye

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.

When we honor ourselves by taking care of ourselves, we are working towards being strong and vibrant people.  Navigating life’s journeys in order to build our character isn’t always easy, yet the benefit is that we develop stronger middot, character traits.

Most of us have people in our lives that aren’t good for us.  They don’t serve us and we don’t serve them; the connection doesn’t feel as healthy as it once did. Their personalities drain our energy; their spirits disolve our inner peace. Sometimes the challenging connections are due to the relationship’s evolution. All relationships change, sometimes we are blessed to change in unison and sometimes not.  In reality, I could be talking about personal relationships, work experiences, congregational memberships.  Nothing ever stays the same.

May each of us be blessed to surround ourselves with people that jazz our soul, honor us for who we are, and nurture who we are while inspiring us to grow; if not, may we have the courage to let them go.

Let go and say good-bye

Let go and say good-bye

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Middah (character trait) focus: Creating a safe/sacred container

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.

In the last month, I have had four separate people need me to listen as they fell apart.  This is not a middah, character trait, that I do with ease.  I am someone who prefers to offer solutions or ideas for how people can navigate whatever is happening.  And reality is that some people really need to embrace where they are before they are ready to navigate to a different place.

My teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold, teaches her students that each of us in a group has a different role.  Leaning how to create a sacred container for people to express themselves is becoming my new personal mission.  It really is amazing to let people totally express themselves and to simply respond shemati, I hear you.

Last night, my son turned to me and said, “thank you for letting me lose it in a safe space” – Once those words were spoken I knew I had finally learned what it means to create a safe or sacred container.

May I continue to develop the power of silence and supportive energy as tools for creating sacred containers for those in need.

Metal Buckets

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Middah (character trait) focus: Compassion

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.

Lately I have been absolutely intrigued with the notion of what it means to be in a place of compassion.  And sometime in the last week, I finally got it; I finally realized what compassion is to me and perhaps this is universal.

  1. Compassion is caring at a core level whether you know the person or not.
  2. Compassion is being sensitive to others’ realities even if you can’t relate to them.
  3. Compassion is taking the time to make a difference in someone’s life just because they need physical or emotional support.
  4. Compassion is realizing that you might not be able to help, but if you could you would.

I have been struggling with what it means to be compassionate for what feels like forever.  And then I realized there are people in my life as well as strangers that I care for deeply; I am profoundly sad that they are struggling and navigating hard times.  While I may care deeply, I am beginnning to realize that caring is not necessarily the same thing as love.  I am not sure why, but that realization has been a lightbulb moment for me.

May each of us be blessed to recieve compassion when we need it and to give compassion when others are in need.

 

 

 

 

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: Create A Bigger Tent

Create A Bigger Tent - Remember that a large world exists outside of where you stand. Photo Courtesy of Ann Cameron Siegal

    Create A Bigger Tent:  Remember a large world exists outside of where you stand.
Photo  by: Ann Cameron Siegal

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 10 years ago, I saw the following cover page on the front cover of Yoga Journal.

Connect with Yourself; Connect with your Community; Connect with the World.

While I don’t remember the article at all, I do believe that these words have impacted my life more than any other words I have ever read.  They remind me of what is important in life.  Life really isn’t all about me, but I need to always consider who I am as I go out into the world and do the holy work that nurtures who I am and the values I hold so dear.

My job is to take care of myself and those in my inner circle first; the responsibility is vital.  Being healthy or whole can’t happen unless I honor by body, my mind, and my soul.  And once I do, it is important for me to remember that I live in the midst of a larger community.  The community I live in might be different from yours.  My community or my tent, as I like to refer to it, includes those that actively engage in a life of values and political beliefs that are important; they may be friends, neighbors, or virtual strangers.  Our values remind us that there is a larger world that needs our stewardship; together we consider the world around us.  Our local world and the larger world may depend on our nurturing.  Human rights covers every aspect of the world we live and with that comes consideration for the environment, slave/forced labor, politics, etc.  The world encompasses everything that could drive our universe.

Taking care of myself matters, but remembering that the world needs our collective spirit to move us to a better place for not just our community, but for the larger world too.  Join me in finding something that brings you to a more passionate place; find something that drives your spirit to care and then do the work of a caring person.

May each and every one of us reach outside of ourselves and create a bigger tent where others matter; it really isn’t just about us.

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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.

Middah (character trait) focus: embracing change – it is a process

Middot (character traits) are Torah terms that refer to the positve Jewish character traits that we aspire to have.  In my current Counting of the Omer, I have broadened the tent in some ways.  My guess is that each and every aspect of my personality can be put into a specific middah category/box if that is your need, but I need to break out of the box.  As someone who grapples with the constraints that exist, I am feeling empowered to do the work of moving forward and away from so many of those constraints.

Embracing change -it is a process reminds me that all change is a process, healthy changes can’t happen overnight.  Work needs to be done.  Moving from slavery to freedom is a powerful metaphor for what continues to transpire in all aspects of life from nature to personal development from the political to the non-political.  Life constantly evolves.

As I type this blog piece, I am embracing so many potential changes; all are changes I want, some need to evolve at a quicker rate.  On the other hand I am blessed to be able to transform in a multitude of ways and in my own time.  It really is ok if transformation takes place in it’s right time.

Just one flower is greeting me. . . .

Just one flower is greeting me and then. . . .

Now three open flowers welcome me every afternoon. . . .

Now three open flowers welcome me every afternoon. . . .

Every morning three closed flowers welcome me and then open as morning progresses. . . .

Each & every morning three closed flowers welcome me and then open as morning progresses. . . .

 

 May each of us find the tools we need to evolve and manage a  healthy process as move forward.

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Today’s Omer Reflections is done in memory of Francesca Lakas, a loving friend and an amazing human being who found beauty in life. May her memory be a blessing for good.

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. Middah (character trait) focus: sense of beauty

Sunset near Pupukea Hawaii; Photo coutesy of  Kathleen Kendle

Sunset North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii; Photo coutesy of Kathleen Kendle

A sense of beauty surrounds me at every turn.  The biggest gift I give myself is when I take the time to seek the beauty or to take notice of my surroundings.  Beauty can be found in the mountains, at the beach, in the desert, within a beautiful sunrise or sunset.  It can also be found in loving moments, in sweet interactions, in music, or in dance.  Beauty can be found in life and even in death.

May each of us be blessed to find the beauty wherever we go and in whatever we do.

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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.

Middah (character trait) focus: sense of wonder

Chava - New Glasses

Today I got new glasses.  While it might not seem like a big deal for most of my friends for me it was enormous.  I have needed new glasses for months, maybe even longer.  With finances what they have been, I had to wait until now.  And guess what? I am profoundly grateful to be able to see better!!! I didn’t know what I was missing until I got I put on the new glasses today.  And yet, I tend to see the beauty that surrounds me, only now I will see more of it.

This afternoon, I seemed to recieve a renewed sense of wonder for my home in the desert.  Beauty is surrounding me at every turn; I can see much more clearly, everything seems more vivid. Wow!!! Vision is truly a gift.

May each of us see the beauty that surrounds us as we walk in the world.  May we sense the wonder with all of our senses.

Sending blessings and light, Chava

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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.

Humor brought us to this day - Aryeh's graduation from Fairhaven School.

Humor brought us to this day – Aryeh’s graduation from Fairhaven School.

Middah (character trait) focus: Humor

A few hours or maybe a day after Aryeh had been intubated, he stood up for the first time in what felt like forever.  I was so relieved to have my baby (he was 14 years old) alive even if we weren’t yet sure how he would emerge from his brain surgery.  As he stood tentatively for the first time following surgery and the days that followed, I found myself amazed so I said, “I am looking up to you.” He gave me a quizative look, so I continued, “not because of everything you gone through, but because you are now taller than me.  You grew while you were intubated.”

To be honest, there was almost nothing positive about the years that Aryeh struggled for his life.  Each and every day was a living hell, yet we found moments to laugh and moments of light.  I believe that the only reason we were able to emerge from our years of profound darkness was because we laughed.  We laughed at the stupid things that we saw.  We found joy in simple moments with friends.  We had to giggle when having the same meal four nights in a row because there were weeks when no one could figure out what to cook for us and all of our dietary needs.  You should have heard some of the ludicrous things people would say as they tried to process all that was going on with us; they really did want to say the ‘right’ thing.  We laughed because we needed a moment to decompress from all of the travesties that were continuing to emerge.  Finding humor in the most ridiculous moments kept us sane; laughter kept us alive.

Life can be hard, really hard.  May we be blessed to find humor as we navigate all that life has to offer.

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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.

Middah (character trait) focus: Humility

Humility doesn’t mean one is weak, cowering and silent! Humility involves “limiting oneself to an appropriate space, while leaving room for others.” (Everyday Holiness) Being humble does not come from negating one’s worth. In fact, to be truly humble, one must become aware of one’s own strengths and then choose to use those strengths in a positive way.  www.gojcc.org/jewish-life/jewish-values/tikkun-middot/

Humility is being open to the fact that you don't have to do everything.  Sometimes you need a little light from others to open you up.

Humility is being open to the fact that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Sometimes you need a little light from others to open you up.

Sometimes I tend to take up a lot of space; sometimes I am better at walking gently.  What I love about growing older and perhaps a little wiser is that I now appreciate the silence of my voice.  I am becoming happier to listen and happier to refrain from having the last word.  While I appreciate that I have wisdom at times, I also appreciate that I have so much to learn from others.

Humility for me has also meant learning to ask for help.  Over the past few months, life has thrown me some punches.  Asking people to listen to me as I process my sadness, darkness, and sometimes anger has been humbling.  Asking for friends and sometimes strangers to proof my resumes has also been a learning experience.  Reaching out and asking for what I need has helped me to become more aware of both my strengths and weaknesses.  Each step of the way, friends and acquainces have opened themselves up to helping me; I have never felt like I was imposing on them in any way.  I am extraordinarily lucky woman to walk in the world that I do.

Having humility is actually good for my soul.

May each of us have the humility we need so that we may ultimately thrive.

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