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Posts Tagged ‘spirit’

57 CollectionLast night, I finished Day 57 of #The100DayProject / #ActivistCardsByChava. Ironically, the card I created was HOPE. From the beginning, this project was supposed to be my journey towards sharing my light, my optimism, and my belief that our world would be good during this time of political divide. I wanted to use these cards as a tool to help us heal from the travesties of our  disastrous political climate. The only problem is that somewhere along the way I slipped into complete darkness around our country’s politics and became despondent for our future. And so, #ActivistCardsByChava became my personal journey towards healing my spirit so that I could keep doing whatever I could to repair the world.

Each of the 3 x 4 inch cards that I have painted using watercolor and markers holds an idea of what activists can do to improve our world. Not only broad actions are included, but self-care ideas too. Activists will burn out quickly if they don’t take care of themselves while also doing the holy work of caring for the larger world. Each and every card was inspired by an article, a picture, a poem, a Facebook post, a song, etc. Ironically on a day when I was really lacking hope, I tripped over ‘Show Up With Hope’: Anne Lamott’s Plan for Facing Adversity.  https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/10/embark-essay-anne-lamott-hope- Day 57’s card, HOPE, was inspired by this reading. In fact, nearly ever one of my Activist Cards was inspired by the wisdom of others.

Another gift came yesterday when I remembered the most inspirational line from Flashdance, my favorite movie of the 1980s, “If you give up your dream, you die.”* So while my spirit may have officially broken this past week it also did some healing too. We all have dreams to birth and work to do.

img_2296While I love each and every one of these cards, my favorite is Choose To Thrive. Maybe that is because regardless of whether:

  1. Trump is POTUS.
  2. Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court.
  3. I am navigating the loss of a dear friend.
  4. Climate change is destroying our environment.
  5. Antisemitism is out of control.
  6. A loved one is healing from sexual violence.
  7. My voice is feeling silenced in so many ways.
  8. Ted Cruz is currently my senator.
  9. I am feeling abandoned by a beloved friend.
  10. I am losing faith.

My job is to show up and embrace the world and to ‘Keep On Movin’ On’.  Personally, I hope you know it’s your job too!  Have you seen the angels? Angels who are organizing the activists to canvas for amazing people in the political arena, to register citizens to vote, to drive voters to the polls, and so much more. And let’s not forget the creatives who are inspiring us all through their art, writing, and music.

Even an optimist like myself has bad weeks of wrestling with darkness around what is happening in the world. The good news is that ‘the sun will come out tomorrow’ and if you are keeping your eyes open, you will find messages everywhere to counteract despair.

Onward with love, light, and hope!

(Note: for fun here is a link to Flashdance, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH4tNhN5gQc}

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

Tears can be cleansing and necessary and yet all week long I have been stopping myself from letting them flow.

This week I heard the beautiful rabbi I work with telling a child who was acting a little shy, “It’s ok honey, you just do you.” Something about the timing and my raw spirit at that second resonated. I wanted to “do me” too. I was so tired of showing up and being present when all I wanted to do was hide a rock. I was also tired of feeling the need to couch my thoughts and opinions so not to be offensive. And yet, there is so much value in the last comment too. I guess the key is to find balance.

While I love so much of my life, I have grown a little weary in the last period of time. I have been intensely sad as I have seen some of my beloveds facing some earth shattering pain and devastated with my inability to make a difference. I have had to show up at places simply because it was the right thing to do or perhaps just my job. And throughout it all, I have seen myself become a little unglued at moments.

With the politics of our country what they are and so many people hurting, I have needed to cry, but instead of decompressing I just found myself moving forward and doing the next best thing.

And then there is the reality of changing relationships that has at moments left me bereft with the realization that I am simply not enough nor can I give enough. Each realization has left treading water and wishing I could be more grounded or maybe just hide under the rock until I feel like I am.

Have you ever noticed how our expectations are often different from what reality looks like? Perhaps that is the gift from the universe; perhaps it is a curse from the universe. Life is simply a game that I get to re-frame each and every minute if I am going to find what my teacher SARK likes to call the “marvelous messy middle”.  This is what enables me  time to find the sparks of light that are often just below the surface or to re-frame deep sadness into learning opportunities. When I am really observant, I find the angels that emerge from the darkness to spin a cocoon around my heart.

This week challenged me to the core.

Every second of my week felt overwhelmingly full. The blessing is that even when I wanted to get lost in my pain, I found the inner strength to show up for those I love. When I wanted to curl up into a ball and shout about the unfairness of it all, my friends surrounded me and reminded me of how loved I am. And one treasured moment came as I watched a loved one start to heal from the inside out after having experienced horrific pain. Things are rarely all bad or all good. Maybe I should celebrate that I actually had a few balanced moments.

Yet seesawing seemed to be a never-ending story.

The unfolding of the news around Brett Kavanaugh’s potential nomination to the Supreme Court was and still continues to devastate our country and show the ugliness of our divided country.

Doing me meant that hiding under a rock was not an option.  Instead I did political activism. by showing up at a panel discussion last Friday night and then going to McAllen, Texas last Saturday so that I could bear witness and stand in solidarity with the children being detained away from their parents. The good news is that I was surrounded with so many others who wanted to make a difference.  The sad news is that those children are still locked in detentions centers and tent cities too.

Unfortunately the 11+ hour trek triggered my own memories of childhood loneliness and sadness, of foster care and violence. And yet, there is no questioned of how blessed I am as someone who has always thrived in spite of my experiences. I pray the same will  be possible for the thousands of children who are suffering so much more deeply than I can imagine.

And then on Monday afternoon and early evening, I continued to push myself by  canvasing for the Democratic Party and doing my part to register voters. I was doing what I had to do. Our world needed me to push myself even if I felt like I couldn’t. So I did just that!

And then as I was finally decompressing Tuesday night, I received the unexpected call that none of us want to hear. My friend called me to tell me that his beautiful wife had just died. Immediately, I asked if he wanted me to come over and when he said yes, I rushed to be by his side. When I arrived a short time later, I was able I see Ellen who had just a few short hours again been alive and doing her best to survive some very serious illnesses.  As soon as I saw her, I asked her husband if I could sing the Shema to my beloved friend. He said yes which allowed me to sing what I consider to be the holiest prayer of the Jewish tradition to my Episcopal friend reminding her spirit and my soul of our shared love for God. As soon as I finished, the funeral home arrived to take Ellen out of her home for the very last time. Even with the deep sadness, I could also feel holiness reverberating.

While I knew that my new friend was really sick, I had hopes of being part of her life for more time. In the short time that I had known her, Ellen had quickly become both dear to me and my writing mentor – only she didn’t know it yet; she inspired me and reminded me to live – only she died too fast.  I had originally planned to visit her on Monday afternoon, but I was so tired after my very long weekend of activism followed by an incredibly long workday on Sunday which included wrapping up of the cycle of Jewish holidays.

Sadly, I lost another a last chance to be with Ellen who I had only met after Hurricane Harvey devastated her beautiful church which was now housed at our Temple. Even now it is wild to think that I would have not met some of my closest friends if Hurricane Harvey had never come a year earlier.

As the sun began to set yesterday, the many triggers of the week finally opened up the floodgates making it impossible to hold back my tears any longer. I cried for the world, the children in detention, the families separated because of our cruel government, my sadness over evolving relationships and devastated friends. I cried for Ellen and for the love that is bubbling up in my heart, but has no where to go. I even cried for my sweet puppy that is not training with ease. The tears came at a breakneck speed and now even in my exhaustion, I am feeling so much better. I simply needed to cry.

After my spiritually exhausting week, the rawness took  over and opened the door so that I could “do me”.  Hineini, Here I am.

Day 55 - Tears Can Cleanse your heart and spirit

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – Will probably be editing this piece one more time.

 

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

Day 18 -Choose Life 1‘Choose Life’ is a mantra that I say every day. Yes, I often struggle with my wide-open spirit and I feel with a depth that I sometimes wish I could lessen. And yet, I show up – always. The below blog could have been written by me today. Only I am not drumming and chanting as I should. This weekend, I am taking a long weekend. With a full heart, I think I need to take the time to reconnect with my drumming and chanting.

(Originally written in November, 2013)

From beginning to end, yesterday was challenging and full of gifts too.  Sigh and yay!!!6730685121_996af44d65

The only thing that got me through was drumming and chanting niguunim (melodies).  As my heart was hyperventilating, I took time to release the energy through drumming and chanting.  With each beat of the drum, I released the tension in my soul; with each deep breath followed by my chanting, I felt my sadness leave me.

What affected me the most was the deep sadness that surrounded me at nearly every turn.  So many folks were struggling with real darkness and others were just creating challenges through their actions.  For those that were struggling with their own darkness or perhaps their own demons, I found myself wishing I could share with them this beautiful rendition of Katy Perry’s Roar by Olivia Wise who is currently suffering from brain cancer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_An8xNwupo

Olivia’s rendition of Perry’s Roar brought tears to my eyes and deep pain to my heart. Imagining what Olivia and her family are facing hurts; I can relate and yet I can’t.  After years of the deep pain that accompanied Aryeh’s illness and to the pain that has at times accompanied my life, I couldn’t stop crying.  Life is such a gift and some people can’t find the gifts that are in front them.  Olivia made this video so that those who love her will always hear her ‘Roar”.  How beautiful is that?!?!?!

As I write, Olivia is more unconscious than conscious; her wakeful moments are few and far between.  What her family is telling the world is that Liv woke each day seeking light and finding light too.  While none of us can do that all the time, I wish more folks would go out of their way to find light and make things work with each step.

If I could make a difference for even a moment, I would shatter the illusion that there is no way around pain.

For nearly five years, I watched my son struggle for life and yet I almost never gave in to the darkness.  I always, always, always reached for life and light even as I accepted what could have been inevitable.

With every ounce of my being, I wish that the people around me could find the gifts in the challenges instead of reaching for the darkness and letting that darkness be their guide.

Choose life.

The rhetoric of the anti-abortion world and the teaching of Deuteronomy is perfect for this moment.  While I am far from the anti-abortion world, I do choose life.  Every day, I choose to wake up and find the light within the challenges.  Darkness rarely encompasses my heart and soul.

Choosing life is what I do.

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
L
ouder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.’
K
aty Perry’s Roar

My son Aryeh is alive.  How ironic it is that Aryeh’s name means lion.  He is alive. In spite of a fatal diagnosis at times, he has always decided to be a thriver that is very much alive.  We are all alive; each and every one in my family is alive and thriving and yes, even roaring.

Yesterday as I sat in the midst of so much pain, watched some folks make troubling choices, and also experienced little things getting blown out of proportion, I wanted to help others find the light when only darkness seemed to persevere.

There are so many people like Olivia or Aryeh that choose life until no more breaths can be made.  There are so many folks that have chosen to thrive as opposed to bury their head in the sand.  May those folks be our role model.

May we all find our ‘Roar’.

PS – I forgot to mention, I saw some beautiful, vibrant life yesterday.  I met people on the street that grapple with life and win.  From a distance, I watched my dear friend and his wife move towards the impending death of their father and father-in-law.  I also watched beautiful young minds embrace their own love of learning.  And finally, I had a delightful evening with my son.

While darkness surrounded me, it wasn’t part of me.  Still, may I, and those that are part of my life always remember to ‘Roar’.

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

Day 13 - sweet darkness david whyteMy village is huge and yet not everyone in it is good for my soul. Fact. While I need to be discerning about who nurtures my life and who holds my spirit, I also need to release all that no longer works for me. . .that includes people as well as things.

What are you needing to release so you land on more solid ground?

Onward with love, light, & creativity,
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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Being an activist means taking the time to take care of yourself. This is what I’ve come to think of as a non negotiable.  If I don’t take care of myself, how can I do what it takes to repair our world?

What sort of things can you do for you?’

Day 4 - Nurture Your Spirit

Onward with love, light, and creativity,
Chava

 

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“If you can see your path laid out in front of you
step by step,
you know it’s not your path.
Your own path you make with every step you take.
That’s why it’s your path.”
~Joseph Campbell

Choosing the life I want is no longer an option. If I want my spirit to thrive, I have to create the moving parts that will ultimately nourish my soul.

There is nothing self indulgent about navigating the world with open heart, mind, and spirit. In fact, my entire being has not only the right, but the responsibility to show up fully in my own life.

pathway-after-monsoon-john-judin-june-2016Over the last several days, I have been blown away by the messages that keep showing up while reminding me that I need to do the same thing.

  • Elle Luna’s book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your  and amazing podcasts inspired by her book.
  • SARK’s teachings – Specifically this month, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy mentoring focused on giving her students tools so they could begin Making More Alive Choices.
  • Watching how “This Is Me” unfolded and ultimately touched so many lives in “The Greatest Showman”. As I viewed this scene, tears rolled down my face as I processed my own journey towards finding inner courage and bravery to stand strong as the woman I am. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLFEvHWD_NE

As someone who has been battered and bruised, I literally lost it when I heard Keala Settle sing:

I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

As a THRIVER, no one would want to see the darkness that I have seen. I am blessed because today I have emerged into the beautiful and strong woman than I am. This comes with tremendous responsibility for me to show up and to do the dance of life in the most authentic way that I can.

Hineini, Here I am!

Life is calling to me in ways that it has never lived before. I am learning, stretching, and evolving on a daily basis. I am literally reaching in directions that I have never seen before.

In less than two months alone, I have started taking care of myself in new ways. I no longer eat sugar nor most flour. I walk five miles daily, journal regularly, and am working on a book. I am also working for an amazing community and I have started to see new ways for me to  bring my love of life to my community. I am learning/ I am stretching; I am growing!

Even before the last two months, I have found myself over the last several years growing my creative spirit by surrounding myself with beauty and order, connecting with artists, dreamers, and  philosophers, and developing enduring spiritual and creative practices.

Each step has lead me to find balance and grounding on some profound new surfaces. If you had asked me a decade ago or even six months ago, where I would be today, I wouldn’t have had a clue because I don’t think I understood the infinite possibilites. Today, I am allow the opportunities to guide me as I walk.

I am alive; I am thriving; and I have made it to this time!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

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Ocean Sept 2014

Photo courtesy of my beloved friend, Shay Seaborne.

Awareness flows through me.

Regardless of how ridiculous I know a feeling may be, it doesn’t take the feeling away.  There are simply times when inner pain and loneliness settle into my soul. Those are the days that darkness is my closest friend and profound sadness has infiltrated my essence.

On those days, my broken heart has prevailed and the storms that sometimes lay dormant have overtaken my spirit. While these days can feel debilitating, they don’t overtake me for long. But while they are visiting, they leave me void of the strength to rise as high as I’d like to.

While today started off as one of the gloomiest in a long time, I remembered to breathe and pushed myself to keep moving. I even allowed myself to share my deep sadness with a couple of people that seem to love me regardless of the open wounds. Miraculously and unexpectedly, I emerged. I was able to reflect the love and kindness I was receiving back to wounded person that needed it most – me.

What I know without a doubt is that bad days happen, but even the worst moments can become a little easier with the help of breathing deeply, taking time to journal, and loving kindness from others mirrored back to me.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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