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December 2016 - looking out into water

(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5777, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-2NA)

~ ~ ~

If you are someone who is in my inner circle, at any moment, you might see tears flowing and watch me bounce between being despondent and laughing at the notion that I could feel that way. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. But I process life and my innermost thoughts as the writer that I am. I take the time to weave each letter, each word, and each sentence until I am able to find answers to both questions known and unknown. I am a weaver of words

There are days when I feel silenced by my own inner critic and sometimes the voices of those around me.  Silencing the  critics is nearly impossible. At every given moment, there are so many voices racing through my head.

“You are so limited!”

“You call yourself a writer?”

“Look at yourself. . .”

“Did you really say that?”

My guess is that I am not alone and yet I feel alone. In the inner confines of my mind, there is no one to save me, but myself. It’s time for me to become one with myself and to write with that voice.

Perhaps it is a leap of faith that I need to take; perhaps it is simply that I need to trust myself and the universe too. I’ve been blessed with a net that appears when my heart is racing so quickly that I can’t catch my breath. My beloved village simply shows up and holds me up until I can stand on my own.

Now it is time for me to trust that that same village will hold me tight as I share my soul and reach for the next chapters of my life.

~ ~ ~

Over the last months, I have realized that MAGiC is my absolute favorite word. I believe in the power of magic and my ability to make magic happen. Have you ever noticed how beautiful moments and creations feel magical? Awe is a part of life AND magic will always be a part of awe. Don’t we all want to be surrounded by awe?

Making life work with all of her moving parts takes magic. The more I trust and work with the magic, the more authentic I am. And living authentically may be one of my strongest desires. Yet living authentically and trusting the magic is complicated and it makes me feel so very vulnerable.

 

Some of those voices are so f*cking loud! All of those voices have been spoken at one time or another, some by friends, some by respected teachers, some by loved ones (including myself), and some by strangers.

With these voices challenging me, I have decided that this is the season to plow through these voices and begin to shower the world with my most authentic self.

I know that how I am received is rarely about me, it is about how people choose to interpret my transparency or my spirit. With that in mind, I have already started sharing my evening doodles and over time I hope to share my voice with all of the moving parts that make me who I am:

PASSIONATE
COMPLICATED
INTENSE
SPIRITUAL
CREATIVE
VULNERABLE
EMPOWERED
CONSCIOUS
SENSITIVE
INTUITIVE
PLAYFUL
&
BEAUTIFUL
(inside and out)

Comfort-ZoneThe good news is that as I choose to live more consciously and authentically, the more I am guided by Emile Zola’s  sage advice to “live out loud”.

With all of the voices in my head, this isn’t necessarily easy.  Yet I am doing the work!!! Because if I don’t, I will never thrive as I aspire to. I can’t let my own vulnerability take over my life; I am too good for that!

Breathing deeply, I am learning to trust that when I trust the universe and leave my comfort zone. Only when I do will the magic unfold.

May we all find our own way to trust the universe and the journey that is ingrained in our soul.

Sending love and light,
Chava

 

 

 

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Elul Reflections: Coming soon

December 2016 - looking out into water

I BELIEVE IN LIVING CONSCIOUSLY AND ALWAYS BEING REAL. This isn’t easy. You see, like all of us, I have many roles in my life. I am a mother, a sister, a friend; I am an educator, a community leader, and an activist; I am a woman, a thriver, and an intuitive. AND I am also a writer, a chanter, and a drummer; I embrace life with open arms and a passionate neshama, soul.  My creative and spiritual essence craves the freedom to share the fullness of who I am in all that I do.

According to Glennon Doyle, being real means getting ‘naked and unashamed’. While this leaves me vulnerable, it also gives me the wings I need to fly higher than I have ever flown before. Am I scared to unveil my core as a way to touch those that trip over my writings? ABSOLUTELY! My friend Diane Foushée (z’l) inspired me to reach deeply into my soul and share the fullness of my thoughts with my friends and readers. Until a couple months before her sudden death, I had no idea that she looked forward to the two times a year that I shared my journey as a seeker. During those times, I write a daily blog as I take the time to actively self-reflect and unveil my deepest thoughts.

Last year, I was too sad to write my daily Elul Reflections; although I did write a couple. Without Diane, I didn’t want to write.  I also didn’t know if my writing impacted anyone.  This feeling has changed. Over the last month, I have been blessed to have friends tell me how I have impacted their lives in a positive way.  Those friends have given me the courage to dive into sharing from my heart. As we move into Elul, the time of reflection just before the Jewish New Year, I will return to my writing practice that provided the sacred space to become more aligned as the woman I am. I will embrace the world with an open heart and a willingness to reach to a healthier and more balanced place in all that I navigate. I will share the rawness of my spirit with the gifts and challenges that are part of my reality.

As a ‘TRUTH TELLER’ and a writer, I want to weave my words and share my soul.  Join me.

Elul Reflections: Sharing My Inner Soul – Will begin Tuesday evening, August 22nd.

(Note: I have been impacted by some amazing writers and thinkers over the past couple of years. Glennon Doyle coined ‘truth teller’ and helped me through her podcasts to better understand what it means to be ‘naked and unashamed’. I am here!!! Hineini!

Other writers include Anne Lamott, Rebecca Solnit, SARK, Sheryl Sandberg (all from the Bay area – WOW!) and Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Martha Beck, among so many more. I read their books, listen to their podcasts and strive to embody their wisdom. If I ever say something and do not honor them by annotating their work, please forgive me. Over time I have realized that so much of how they think has entered into my subconscious.)

 

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waking up this morning, the universe has felt totally aligned for me.

my body moved as I needed it to move. my heart felt and still feels whole. by 5 AM, I was on my ayurvedic journey. i had done my loving-kindness meditation, drank a cup of fenugreek tea, and now I am drinking holy basil tea.

it’s only 6:22 AM and I feel ALIVE, beautiful, and centered. everything feels balanced. WOW!

i have already journaled, and now I am writing a short blog.

sure there are bills that I am struggling to pay, weight that I need to lose for my health/back, and family challenges. there are also amazing and inspiring friends, a snoring pup at my feet, and a job that I can’t wait to get to today.

there are also paint brushes that need to be used, books that are being read, and a world to explore.

music-of-her-soul

courtesey of terri st. cloud of bone sigh arts at: http://bit.ly/2tzcBxD

perhaps best of all was opening up my morning email from terri st. cloud of bone sigh arts to see this amazing prose and picture. I love terri’s work, it always shows up at the perfect time!

each and every word here speaks of my soul; my entire being is reverberating with a rhythm that reminds me that:

I am alive.

I am thriving.

I have arrived to this exquisite time.

synchronicity abounds.

 

ps: confirmation that I really am a writer came when someone ‘liked’ a blog and then became a follower. when I went to the specific blog (http://bit.ly/2uSVhry) that was ‘liked’, I found that it resonated with me too. and then WordPress asked me for feedback about their blog platform. I am not sure if they will respond to my feedback, but I hope so. I so want to grow THIS blog!

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yesterday was one of the most surreal days in a long time.
the day started with excitement permeating the core of my being. i was stretching and looking for ways that i would move mountains. and for a few hours i believed that it was actually possible. i knew i could make the world a better place.
earlier steps were greeted with sweet successes. both of my sons met their own personal milestones. i found manageable tools to lessen my carbon footprint. my voice was heard and valued. i doodled, i wrote, and i dreamed.
the day progressed. . . .
as the afternoon raged on, pain oozed into my body. still i pushed because that is the gift i always have. i can always push forward. for the most part, i have been blessed with the ability to ignore physical and emotional strife….so I did.
late afternoon turned dark so very quickly. i couldn’t close my eyes to what was rumbling in my gut. beautiful activists were attacked as they nonviolently tried to make a difference. my son and i hit a wall that seems to be impenetrable.  and as the day wore on, the pain forced me to meet my shadow.
the day progressed. . . .
yet somehow things emerged in surprising ways. in spite of a bunch of comedy of errors, a challenging appointment worked two hours late. despite feeling disconnected from those i wanted to join, twitter made sure i wasn’t alone. twitter also helped keep my fear at bay while making sure i didn’t feel like a water logged island.
returning home, pain inched through my body and i started wondering if a water logged island would be easier than the crippling energies of people that attack by accusing those that believe differently.  all the while my gut was screaming that something is so wrong. . .i just didn’t and still don’t know what.
the day progressed. . . .
with each breath, i struggled as the lasso got tighter and tighter. spiritually a new set of realizations struck an unsuspecting chord. my spirit emerged to new realities. harsh and discerning words awakened me to some new and deep reflections. and just as i found a moment of reconciliation a sharp realization shattered my unsuspecting lungs.
each breath lead to new realities making sleep an impossibility. perhaps a new life force will lift my spirit at daybreak, but for now i will remain present with tears rolling down my face.
feeling silenced in nearly every aspect of life enables the hot tears to scorch my skin and help me forget that breathing isn’t optional.
waiting for the the sun to rise and a new day to remind me that one hard day can never destroy my spirit. i am alive and i will thrive. thriving is not optional either.
Oct 20 - sunrise Pantano Wash

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

 

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“If you ask me what I came into this life to do,
I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”
Quote by Émile Zola

Twenty years ago, this saying became an unspoken mantra. A part of me believes that finding this quote empowered me find my voice as woman,  a mother, a friend, a teacher, and mostly as a creative soul that needed to be heard.

Before that time, silence seemed to permeate the core of my being.  And then one day, I woke up and I found a little more of my voice. I learned to write after a very long and painful hiatus. A local magazine wanted to publish the story of our son Dovi’s miraculous adoption. Somehow I found the courage to speak up and let the publisher/editor know that I was the one who needed to write this story; she loved the idea and with that I found my first and most gentle editor. Eventually that story was picked up by a couple of other magazines.

Finding my voice was a long but beautiful journey. With each step, I felt like a butterfly opening to the world with a sense of awe. I literally fluttered from flower to flower. Each flower gave me just a little more nectar to fuel the journey towards self.

And then in 2002, I took a giant leap of faith and left the cocoon of the Orthodox world that I had lived for nearly fifteen years. The journey was lonely and overwhelming. I lost close friends in that transition or should I say transformation? But I did it!!! I listened to the voice that nudged me to create a new life for myself (and eventually my family) and to find a new home for my spirit to rest. It didn’t go far; I found a home in a progressive Jewish community that nurtured my spirit and grounded me in tradition while allowing my creative energy to flourish.

As time progressed, I started to stretch in other ways too. I started thriving as an educator, a blogger, an artist, a chanter, a storyteller, a drummer, a mother, and today as an activist or maybe just a human being. The more I grow the more my spirit yearns to expand my roots as I also reach into the universe that surrounds me.

Now that I have my voice, I embrace all of life with more passion. When I am happy I sing out loud regardless of who is close by; when I feel the need to write, I stop what I am doing and I write; when a picture comes into my head I doodle it. The more doors open, the more ready I am to receive the gifts that continue to flow through me.

A raw intensity has taken over the quiet person that once lived in my body.  My soul gravitates towards life. I am alive and I crave this aliveness that emanates from all life forces.

Sun rise New Zealand May 5 Jai-Jagdeesh

Photo Courtesy of Jai-Jagdeesh via Instagram: jaijagdeesh

This New Zealand sunrise by my “social media friend” left me with tears in my eyes. I found Jai-Jagdeesh through her music, but today I have fallen love with her words, her wisdom, her photos. My hope is that one day have the opportunity to experience Kundalini Yoga with her as my teacher. (Of course, I may have to wait until I complete my healing journey from back surgery.) When I hear her, I feel a fire igniting me towards  self-care and tikun olam (repairing the world).

Meanwhile a heartfelt hug reminds me that the void of love I experienced as a child is no longer with me. When any of my nieces or nephews say “I love you” even though I haven’t seen the since they were little. . .I melt inside, but feel immense gratitude that my beloved brother and sister-in-law have kept me alive in their eyes.

Nothing in my world is taken for granted.

The more authentic and grounded I become, the I am able to “live out loud” and to love.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

Today, I openly love with ever fiber of my being.  I often wonder if I take in the world on a cellular level. When I allow myself to breathe deeply, I find myself connecting with all that I see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. All of my senses are more alive than I could have once imagined.

While love may sometimes change, I love deeply; I love forever. . . My intensity overflows each and every time I see those I adore.

And I have learned to always speak from the deepest part of my soul just in case a door closes suddenly. ….because doors do close suddenly and without warning.

May I be blessed to always “live out loud” with an authenticity that rooted in grace.

Namaste (May the spirit in me honor the spirit in you),
Chava

Note: This entire blog was inspired by:

Love Openly. . .you never know

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If you don’t like the news. . . .
go out and make some of your own.
~Newsman Wes Nisker’s closing salutation
on radio station KSAN in the 1970s

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
hatred doesn’t need a disguise.
police aren’t here to protect you.
the kindness of neighbors is not a given.

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
red traffic lights allow for another three more cars to pass.
minorities expect disdain from every direction.
prejudice can be worn on your sleeves.

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
giving up is not an option.
I am surrounded by an activist village.
when I feel alone, all I have to do is open my heart..

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
that things are not always what they seem.
sometimes life is not black or white; in fact it is often grey.
what you see is not always what you get.

Living in Texas, I have learned . . .
there are beautiful people wherever you turn.
sometimes you need to look deeper to find the gems.
patience has a way of paying off.

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
the importance of finding those that fuel your soul.
that my voice matters and can make a difference for good.
working with others makes all of our voices stronger.

Before coming to Texas, I believed that my voice didn’t matter. In fact, I was so sure of it that I loved my ability to fade into the wood work. That isn’t the case today, I have begun to realize that I have a purpose. And even if I want to hide, I can’t.

There is work to be done – a lot of work to be done.

Over the last two days, I have been blown away by beautiful souls that make up the Pantsuit Republic: Houston Chapter. I have found like minded souls that are willing to do what it takes to make our leaders accountable for their actions and to support the work that needs to be done so that no group of people go marginalized.

I am in awe of what I have found right here in my back yard, in Houston.  And I am even beginning to believe that together we can make our world a better place.

Authenticity and compassion reign.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

Chai Wallhanging

presented by: Milky Wave Tie-Dye*

  • The tie dye says life in Hebrew; a friend made this for my son Aryeh when he was suffering a life threatening illness. . .it somehow feels appropriate now (different, but right).

 

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Every time you go into the fire,
you come out with a new life and it’s better than the last one.
~Martha Beck 

Twelve days ago I ate gluten for what I hope will be the last time.  To say that I felt absolutely awful is an understatement.  Every fiber of my being hurt to the extent that nine days after the accidental consumption I ended up in the ER.

Within 20 minutes of eating the gluten-filled panini, I knew I was in for a challenging evening. Within an hour, I felt so sick that for a dramatic moment, I was praying that life would cease.  The good news was that even when I felt the extraordinary discomfort, I knew I would find a way to cope quickly; I also knew that I was in for up to three months of core exhaustion and intense joint pain. Saturday night, October 1st ended up being a total bummer that ruptured a period of spiritual calm. It is hard to remain calm when you are in the midst of being over the top dramatic and crippled with pain.

And then there was this past Sunday, when the pain had escalated to about 8.5 or higher on the 10 point pain scale and I started feeling nauseous, was fighting a fever, and struggled to walk. Going to the ER seemed prudent at the time and like the only option too. With the sense of vulnerability overflowing, I caved into going to a place that lacked the ability to treat me with dignity and made me feel small and insignificant.  Sigh.

Fire vs Shredder

Photo Courtesy of Aryeh Grossman

AND I am now emerging!

My visit to the ER was a reminder that I had recently surrounded myself with a fabulous team of healers. Some of them know me and are directly helping me navigate my health and others are people that are inspiring me spiritually via books, podcasts, and social media. I am so excited to actively engage in my new healing journey!!!

For someone with celiac disease, the gluten fire petrified me, but it is now helping ground me in my health journey. With a team consisting of my sons, my friends, amazing health practitioners, and some very wise souls, I am surrounded by support. The fire of October 1st ignited the importance of what Glennon Doyle Melton refers to as the “trinities – body, mind, spirit. The warrior lives out all three lives: a physical life, an intellectual life, and a spiritual life.”

I consider myself to be a spiritual warrior. My journey to self care has been intense over the years. I have struggled to loosen and/or release some tightly wound ropes that kept me bound to pain and darkness.

Through chanting, drumming, writing, movement, and other creative endeavors, I have found new norms. Six years ago, I openly did a health journey that focused on staying away from eating foods that caused me health challenges.  I lost a ton of weight and I stopped getting UTI infections just be giving up soda, caffeine, and sugar.

While I kept off most of the weight, I am now doing low levels of the above mentioned foods, although effective tonight, I am making a conscious decision to go back to refraining from those foods, plus making some lifestyle decisions.

Perhaps it isn’t ironic, that the decision to create a list of non-negotiables and to openly share my health journey happened on Yom Kippur.  As I sat in services, I was overwhelmed with both a sense of loss and a sense of joy. The loss was that I wasn’t the healthiest that I could be, but the joy came from the realization that I am in the midst of doing good work and I can do even  better work. All three of the ‘trinities’ will get my attention each and every day of this journey.

There are 124 days until my 51st birthday which is:

  • 10,713,600 seconds
  • 178,560 minutes
  • 2976 hours
  • 17 weeks and 5 days

Over the course of this time, via my blog I will share how I am moving forward, who is inspiring me, my practitioners, and the impact that this journey has on my life. Via Facebook, I will share the daily countdown to my birthday and the daily highlights/challenges with each step.

I am so blessed to have my daily writing practice, a new Ayurvedic Practice, a new Acupuncture Practice, and hopefully what will be regular massages with an AWEsome healer. And then there are the daily gifts that I continue to find each and every day. And finally, I feel humbled to have an amazingly supportive work environment to keep me grounded as I find new ways to care for my body, my mind, and my soul.

As Yom Kippur came to a close, I became aware that my physical pain was slipping away and the gates were opening to some very profound and enlightening possibilities.

Onward with love & light,
Chava

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