Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘soul’

 

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

 

Read Full Post »

“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

Read Full Post »

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).

 

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)
easel-in-corner
Learning has always caused me a tremendous amount of excitement. Not only do I love to work as a Director of Congregational Learning, I also love to stretch and grow myself in different ways. There is NEVER a time I stop being the seeker that I am.

With this in mind, I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons (a series of podcasts) when I heard:

At the end of the day, the only thing that’s perfect is a blank sheet of paper
– untouched with nothing on it. And if you’re questing for perfection,
then you will leave that blank paper blank.”
Neil Gaiman (Podcast: Magic Lesson Episode 207) 

As a passionate writer, an amateur artist, a mother, a storyteller, a friend, an educator, and more – I tend to struggle with a strong desire to reach for perfection.  And yet a person who plays so many roles, I know for a fact that I can do little or none of these roles perfectly.

My guess is that if you took time, to read every word that I have written in this blog post, you would find a spelling mistake, a grammar challenge, and a few unclear phrase or two. And if it is a natural skill or your personality, you could probably find something wrong with most everything I do.  Oh well. . .

My holy work is to create, to play, to explore, and to connect with the world around me. And to make sure I do this while finding peace in the mess that I sometimes leave in my wake.  I can’t always say the right thing or use the ‘right’ color/word/whatever. Life is full of imperfections. And many of those realities lead to beauty.  And while I may seek perfection and get frustrated by my many imperfections, the interactions with the world around me are too delicious to stop.

Always learning. . . .

The blank paper or intense silence doesn’t necessarily lead to the sparks that ignite when I take chances to interact with all the moving parts of my environment.  And yet the blank piece of paper or the silence may be exactly what I sometimes need to become grounded and ready grow or learn. Isn’t it all perspective?

As and educator, a mom, and a friend, I believe that most of us thrive using the myriad of tools to tap into learning. When free choice is coupled with the capacity to trust our spirits, it can be rather easy to soar.  This sort of awareness enables us to interact with the many environments that surround us in the  most authentic way possible.

For me and so many others, the innate curiosity  courses through our veins; it has a way of inspiring each of us to explore the world by using each and every one of our senses. That is, if we allow for our spirits to take that leap.

Always learning. . . .

Learning doesn’t have to take place at a desk in order to be called learning. Gaining knowledge takes place when I take the time talk to people, listen to the birds chirping, read an amazing book, or sometimes when I paint on the blank canvas.

All learners and all facilitators of learning know that it takes a certain amount of chutzpah, to stretch ourselves. You have to be willing get a little messy sometimes, take chances, trust your instincts, and yes, sometimes you need to make mistakes.

Hmmmm. . . .I see a metaphor forming here.

None of us succeed without doing “something” with a blank sheet of paper or a blank canvas. Success comes when we push ourselves out of comfort zone, create using all the tools at our disposal, and choose to consciously live life in the ways that feel right for you.

With the High Holy Days being right around the corner, may  we celebrate the opportunities we have had this year and seek new opportunities in the coming year. While perfection would be awesome, sometimes messing up leads to greatness.

Perhaps it is time to paint on that blank canvas at the top of this blog? What do you think?

May we find peace in the journeys we have taken this year and find new ways to stretch this coming year.

Onward with love & light!
Chava

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun - Easel

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun – Tucson, Arizona

There is one way that you will know if I am in a spiritually grounded place. Just one. . . . . If creative projects fill my time or even my mind. I am probably exactly where I need to be.

As long as I am taking time to write, drum, paint, doodle, chant, or move, you can assume life is good. AND when I take time to go to museums, check-out cool neighborhoods, or people watch, you can also make an assumption that I am doing well.

My spirit needs to share space with sizzling energy and emerging innovations.

Creative souls jazz my world. If someone is passionate about some form of creativity, I usually fall in love with them, energetically that is.

Over the years, I have often found myself tearing when I witness beauty or creativity. I can’t seem to stop the release that comes when I see or hear something that deeply touches me.

When I lived in Tucson, I used to go to the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun which was literally around the corner from my house. Every time I saw the easel above, I would want to curl up into a ball and weep. I believe that some of that comes from my sadness that I want to be more of an artist than I am, but it is also because I adore that worn look and obviously beloved easel.

In the last several years, I have begun to go to museums alone so that I can take the time to fully appreaciate the energy  (and yes cry without navigating the reaction of others). Most recently, I have felt the incredible wave of emotion nearly everytime I see one of Mark Rothko paintings or when I go to the Rothko chapel close to where I live in Houston. I am not such an art connoisseur that I understand exactly why I have this reaction, but nonetheless it is what happens. Another time, many years ago, I couldn’t contain myself when I was at a Salvador Dali exhibit in Philadelphia.  The only  way to explain what seems to be happening is that my heart simply breaks open.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Quote by Henry David Thoreau

May we all me inspired by the beauty not only surrounds us, also what comes from within.

Onward with love & light,
Chava

Read Full Post »

(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)

Over the last year and a half, I have openly been seeing myself more clearly than I had in the past. With each step in the journey or thought racing through my head I ask myself lots of questions:

  1. Does what I am doing fuel my soul?
  2. Am I feeling grounded?
  3. How can I make what I am doing more meaningful?
  4. Can I find contentment and maybe even happiness as I embrace whatever I am doing?
  5. Have I surrounded myself with those that inspire me?
  6. Am I being authentic?

Asking these questions and so many others enables me to focus on the my many moving parts of this growing and strengthening process. As each answer unfolds, clarity emerges. It helps to know where I have been and where I am so that I can best chart where I am going. While I have mountains to climb, I love that I can always grow and evolve.

Regardless of the complexities that surround me, I am enveloped in a villiage of loved ones-near and far. While I may feel lonely at times, I am never alone.

This holy work is transforming me to to better self-care and to build stronger connections with others. With so much to do, I have found myself needing to focus on moving more, consciously doing my part for the larger world, addressing my weight challenges, nurturing my spirit and so much more. . .

Surprisingly, I have realized how much of an introvert I am. I feel intense gratitude when I can allow for quiet days with few or no dialogues with others. I often crave solitude; I fantasize of having days, weeks, and even months to myself. And then I quietly laugh to myself when I wonder how I would really feel if I had that sort of time alone.  I may be an introvert, but I love my village too. And watching people on the streets and coffee shops is one of my favorite things to do!

At the same time, I believe that one day I will find the create a beautiful partnership with a man who touches my soul and allows me to touch his. Someone who cares for the world and takes a serious interest in making the world a better place without forgetting to care for himself. The right person will treasure who I am and be comfortable with how I walk in the world. And regardless of who we are when we begin our relationship, may we both stretch and grow into better human beings together and as individuals. May our beauty and light flow out into the world.

I am a seeker in every way. Living consciously as a Jew has allowed me to see the world  as I do. The path has lead me to  teachers that have inspired me to push myself, opened my heart to see how I can better impact the world, and taught me how to honor the woman I am. Writing, chanting, drumming, drawing, learning, and dancing have become part of my nearly daily life. Wow – I am so lucky to have grown as I have.

 

Learning to accept the person I am has been hard at times, heart-warming at other times and always profound.

May blessings abound – for all of us as we continue to travel the world as we do.

Onward with light & love,
Chava

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »