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Posts Tagged ‘strength’

Polish-Slovakian border - Stephanie Randall

Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Randall; Location Pieniny National Park in Slovakia

 

Elul* is a time for deep reflection.

For one entire month, I will share my sometimes arduous but ultimately transformative journey towards Growing my Spirit AND Strengthening My Soul.

Writing is how I process all that is happening within me and around me. While I can express myself beautiful in conversation, if you really want to know what weighs heavy on my mind and spirit, read my writings. As my soul friend, Renee Airya, recently wrote, “I’m liberated by this sharing- not burdened by it.”

With every ounce of my being, I believe that each and every word will lead me to a new and healthier Jewish New Year. In these writings, I will openly share all the strength and brokenness that is part of me.

My decision to unveil both darker and lighter sides of my essence is meant as a tool. By embracing who I really am, I will be able to become more grounded which will enable me to soar higher in the coming year. With each word or step, my hope is to become a more authentic and graceful me.

Onward with love and light,
Chava

*Elul takes place the month before Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year. During this month, we are given the opportunity to reflect on our lives and work towards our future hopes, dreams, and realities.

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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: Believe

 

Sometimes we need a reminder that we have what it takes to move forward. . .so I made my simple memento :)

Sometimes we need a reminder that we have what it takes to move forward. . .so I made my simple memento 🙂

Sometimes life gives you more than you think you can handle.  As an optimist, I often find the gifts in the challenges, but lately it is a little easier said than done.  I have blocks of time when the struggle feels a little more scary than I can handle.  And knowledge that the bills are barely getting paid is overwhelming.  Yet I am also lucky, my dark moods rarely stay that way for too long.  Mostly I believe that the sun will come out soon and life will get easier.  Seeing reminders that foster positive feelings can definitely be a good thing.

Last spring was a little rough.  Ironically at the the time, I did not know that things would get even more difficult – in retrospect that was probably a good thing.  Anyway one day during that time period, a friend of mine called and asked me what do I need as I walk through all that is going on.  My response was courage, strength, and hope; and just like that the words appeared.  So I used a postcard from my favorite cafe/bar, Cafe Passe, and I made a little memento as a reminder of what I need to walk through life.

May I always have the courage to do what I need to do, the strength to move forward, and hope as I navigate this journey.  With each step I take may I believe in myself and the universe; may this be true for you and your journey too!

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Arms spread

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:  Grace

Gracefulness has been defined to be the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.  William Hazlitt

Job loss coupled a feeling of displacement has knocked me a little off kilter; in reality I can’t just settle for these feeling, I must listen to the messages that surround me.

Yesterday, I received two messages on one of my Facebook status lines; both were gifts.  While they appear to be similiar in nature, they also appear to be opposite.  The first one blessed me with grace and strength as I navigate my current challenges; the second one shared “that I have I have an amazing gift for grace and strength.”  What I heard in these two messages is that while I may sometimes have grace and strength, I still have to engage in the spiritual work that makes further developing and maintaining them possible.

This reminds me of the Talmudic teaching that everyone should have two pockets each containing a piece of paper.  One piece of paper should say that the world was created just for me; on the other piece of paper it should say that I am but dust and ashes.

As we walk in the world, may I remember that grace means to always put my best foot forward even when I navigate life’s challenges.

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For so many years, my son, Aryeh, sat incapacitated and barely able to lift his body, let alone a book.  With that in mind, I am touched beyond words that on Simchat Torah, my son lifted the Torah.  Tonight, the entire weight of the Torah rested on the right side of the Torah Scroll and Aryeh was able to do what seemed like a dream at one time.  He lifted the Torah in front of our community.

Photo Courtesy of Gary Tenen

Photo Courtesy of Gary Tenen

Nearly a lifetime ago, when my now 20 years old was barely 14 years old he suffered a debilitating illness that ultimately led to two brain surgeries.  With each breath his life often seemed to wane.  For nearly three years, we prayed for his survival with a hope that he would one day thrive again.  Life was not a given for my beautiful son.

Dreams can really come true.

For what seemed like a lifetime, Aryeh  barely lifted his body out of bed or off the sofa and fora couple years after that he scarcely left the house.  Today is a very different story.  After many years of struggling for health, he has emerged from his desolate life.  Today, my son is a vibrant young man who loves Torah nearly as much as he loves his own life.

As Aryeh lifted the Torah for what is called Hagbah, I was transformed to a time when Aryeh was at death’s door.  A tremendous feeling washed over me as I saw him do what could have only been a dream several years ago.

Photo courtesy of Gary Tenen

Photo courtesy of Gary Tenen

The blessing of today is that nightmares can be transformed into beauty.  With that reality racing through my brain, I will weep happy tears.

I can’t believe my son is alive….Halleluyah!

(Note: Torah is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah)

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Tonight we counted Day 49 of the Omer, which is 7 weeks of the counting. Day 49 is referred to as Malkhut sheh b’Malkhut,  Wholeness within our kingdom.  A beautiful kingdom is one that is blessed with Shekhinah’s presence.  Only when God or godliness dwells where people are, is it possible for a malkhut or ’kingdom’ to exist.

Reflection:  In Hebrew, the word shalom means peace.  If you take the root letters from shalom, you will also have the word shalem which means completeness or wholeness.

The counting of the Omer has been a spiritual journey for me.  I have actively been trying to strengthen my foundation by doing the work to make myself a little more complete, a little more whole.  Only by doing the holy work of taking care of my being, do I have a chance of finding inner peace and creating outer peace too.

While I have chosen not to share the specifics of my journey over the past 7 weeks, I have been directly paralleling the journey of the Israelites from slavery to liberation.  While it takes more than 49 days to become free of the challenges that have troubled or enslaved any of our hearts and minds, the 49 days can still be used to travel towards greater spiritual liberation.

My journey will continue, but I am feeling more centered and complete now than I did 49 days ago.  Navigating inner and outer peace for me and for the world I live can be intense.  While I often smile and laugh, I also never stop thinking.  I struggle with how to navigate so many aspects of life.  Each and every person matters; the world matters.  Child slavery still exists; global warming destroys; natural castrophies exist; senseless people find ways to cause war; gun violence never stops; terrorism happens.  And each and every time I walk out my door I pray that I will return to love my family.  I take NOTHING for granted.

Earlier this week, a friend was having a bad day and accused me of lacking consideration for that was important in the world.  Little did he know that I have to find laughter and moments of joy or I will crumble.  I have to celebrate my journey to health, my yoga class, my ability to hear.  Life matters.  Intensity courses through my veins, but if I don’t breathe deeply sometimes and acknowledge the gifts, I would crumble in the face of the disasters and potential disaster that surround all that is. Courage, strength, and hope matter.

CafePasseNeeds

As we count Day 49 of the Omer is my hope and my prayer that each of us are ready for the end of the journey from slavery to liberation.  May we feel whole in the core of our being; may peace radiate within us and around us.

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Tonight we counted Day 23  of the Omer, which is 3 weeks and two days of the counting of the Omer. Today is referred to as Gevorah sheh b’Netzach or discipline or strength within endurance.

Having the discipline or the strength to maneuver where you want to go with all of the different moving parts of your life takes endurance.  

CafePasseNeeds

Over the years, I have learned that when I want to become the best I can be in the different areas of my life, I need to be focused on creating a daily practice as a means of better developing the skills and connection I need.  With the practice comes a true connection to accomplishing whatever it is I set out to do.  I have also learned that it often takes courage to withstand the challenges that come with any daily practice; nothing happens without a lot of fortitude or character to do the work.  And all becomes possible as long as I am consciously doing the work.

I am getting ready for a new health journey.  For the first time in my life, I am a little anxious about what the journey will look like.  Will I have the strength and the courage to push myself in the healthiest of directions.  A few years ago, I lost 65 lbs; I have kept most of that off, but now it is time to finish what I started out to do.  Being healthy is not an option; my life matters too much!! 

While I am not certain exactly what path I am taking, I realize that this journey has to be fun, rewarding, and make sense within the confines of my current life.   Once I figure out what I want to do to make this journey work for me, I will move forward with more ease.  

Gevorah sheh b’Netzach – Hoping I have strength within the endurance to do what I need to do and to do it  right.

With each and every personal goal, may we all persevere with an open heart and gentle spirit.  

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Tonight, we counted Day 16 of the Omer, which is 2 weeks and 2 days of the counting of the Omer.  We refer to today as Gevurah she-b’Tiferet; strength within harmony, balance, and/or beauty.

Over the years I have noticed that when I live in a place of inner strength, spiritual balance or harmony follow close behind.

CafePasseNeeds

Inner strength comes from a variety of sources for me, including, but not limited to:

  • Having integrity with each thing I say or write
  • Exhibiting courage by thinking and acting as consciously
  • Being present for those that need me
  • Taking care of my body, mind, and soul by doing that which nourishes me and refraining from that which depletes me
  • Believing that all will be ok even when life’s challenges feel overwhelming

Balance comes from doing our best to create sacred or holy environments.

With each step I take in the world, may I remember to ask: What am I doing for myself, my community (however I want to interpret that), and the world?

Gevurah she-b’Tiferet (strength within harmony or balance) comes from living consciously.  May we all do our part.

 

 

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