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Posts Tagged ‘teachers’

Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

 

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 13 Elul or 17 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

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“You never know when one act, or one word of encouragement can change a life forever.” 
Quote by Zig Ziglar

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Everything we do matters; everything we say can make a difference.  Whether our actions are with our hands, our hearts, or our words, we have the capability to positively touch the world we live.

In the last 9 months, I have been a caregiver to many different people.  Some have memory loss challenges, some are in their final hours of life, and others have significant physical limitations.  All were once healthy; all are now hurting emotionally and physically.  For each of these people, I have learned that my positive energy really matters.  When I am sad or lost, I need to put those feelings on a shelf and focus on being present and lifting their spirits. This same experience has been obvious when I directed a school.  Children, their families, and other professional staff are conduits for the surrounding energy.

Decide to walk in the world with a love in your heart, gentleness in your spirit, and a desire to impact people for good.  And in the end of the day, do whatever it takes to make that happen.

With blessings & light,
Chava

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Three Deaths in Two Weeks

The gift is often the challenge.

Professionally, I have always worked within community.  For the most part, I have been blessed to work in the synagogue world.  Within that role, I have had the opportunity to connect deeply with many people from staff to congregants and their families too.  My students, their parents, my teachers, and their families have always become a part of my life.  And now is no different; I work the aged, most if not all are in the last years of their life.  My guess is that regardless of where I work or where I choose to be, I will always build relationships with those that surround me.

People are born; people die.  And in the middle of it all, people live.   They have experiences that fill their lives – including gifts and challenges.

Life is full of cycles

Life is full of cycles.

Over the last two weeks, I have been touched by the strength and integrity of the living and the pain and/or resolve of death.  And in the middle of it all, I have been touched by those that have lived and those that have died.

Three Deaths in Two Weeks

Loving people is what I do; no one is a stranger for long.  All are welcomed into my life including my home.  And within each connection, I try to give fully and be as present as I can be.  Sometimes people are part of my life for moments, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days, and sometimes much longer.  And for that moment that I am blessed to be in a relationship, whether a close friend or for a momentary exchange of words, I treasure the moments however large or small.

Within my work, I build relationships.  And within each relationship, I care deeply.  Whether I connect with people daily, once a week, or only on the holidays, they impact my life and I pray that I impact their lives for good.  Often I do, sometimes I don’t.    The bottom-line is that I hope and pray that most of my connections are full of light and positive energy.  When people go through hard times, I struggle with them – it is simply what I do.  And when they live fully, I celebrate with them – that is also what I do.

Three Deaths in Two Weeks

So far in two weeks, I have gone to one funeral, one shiva minyan (memorial service), and another funeral on Sunday.  I also needed to help transition a client, who is now a friend, to a 24-hour care facility.  She is having a rough transition; her husband is profoundly sad too.  Life keeps moving forward.

Today, I saw a baby in a sling and a toddler eating dinner with his parents and puppy.  I also had a few hours talking and hanging out with my 17 year old son.  Life keeps moving forward.

Life-cycles happen.  I am learning to say good-bye with more regularity than I wish, I am also learning to take note of the life that surrounds me.  The baby, the toddler, the aging, and everyone in between.  I am also noticing the birds and the saguaro cacti; I am watching pomegranates thrive on a tree and flowers open and close on the cacti.  And each evening I look up at the sky and I take note of the moon and her cycle.  I am also waiting and hoping the sky opens up and the rain comes storming into my beautiful desert.

Life. Death. Everything in between.

May I treasure what is and continue to build relationships with the living.  And when people die, may I remember them and honor them by continuing to build connections with the living.

Three Deaths in Two Weeks

People matter and each of these three souls impacted my life for good.

l’Shalom – May their souls go towards peace.

 

 

 

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Over the course of the last several days, I have experienced many hours without a voice.  While it appeared to be challenging for others who had to communicate with me, I ultimately found peace in my own silence.  I loved having the time to sit quietly with my thoughts and to sometimes just be present without thinking at all.  I also loved quietly watching what was going on around me without having to connect to the conversations.  In the last few days I grew to love the silence and wish I could find more ways to put silence in my life.

no-talking1

In my silence, I have learned or reinforced many lessons that I already knew.

  1. Silence allows me the time to create a container for my own thoughts.  Sometimes the chatter that I engage in takes away my ability to be present and to trust my own thoughts and desires. The silence has given me the space to allow what is in my heart to resonate more fully within me.
  2. As a Youth Education Director, my voice is often used as a tool to lead people, to tell stories, to connect with my students, their families, and my teachers.  Losing my voice forced me to trust others to lead in ways that I couldn’t lead.  And guess what, while no one will ever be me, those that stepped up to the plate were awesome in their own right.
  3. Writing jazzes my soul! Now in all honesty, I have not felt well enough to write for a bit, but it helps to know that in theory I always have writing.  Laryngitis can never silence me!
  4. Words are not needed to convey thoughts.  Body language, facial expressions, and silence can be part of an entire conversation.
  5. My sons are awesome at reminding me to slow down or to stop entirely.  They have stepped up to the plate in many ways to make certain that I push myself less. Those that know me well know that I always push myself.
  6. Vulnerability is a reality of life.  Sometime illness takes away our ability to function; it also makes me realize how we sometimes need to rely on others.  I haven’t asked for too much help, but when I did, I felt supported.  Still acknowledging my own vulnerability has been painful.  It is what it is.

For me, losing my voice has essentially forced me to find my footing. Over the past few months, I have been going at a breakneck speed and trying to navigate many thoughts, emotions, and realities.  The last couple months have been especially tough in different ways.  I have always done what I needed to do, but at times I have been overwhelmed.

Laryngitis felt like a metaphor for some recent challenges.  Since moving to a totally new city, I have sometimes felt like my voice didn’t matter.  In part that was due to moving to Tucson where I am not quite sure how to navigate my politics nor do I have the time I want to do that which I love.  I am also working in a new community, this means that I feel compelled to listen and observe during the first year; perspective comes from seeing what has been done before making changes.  Moving also means that I have been so busy that I don’t have enough time to really connect with those that I have always been able to speak freely; I am missing what I have lost for the time being. And finally, I have two sons that have grown more independent and don’t always feel compelled to hear my thoughts.  None of these challenges are everlasting; they are present realities which will absolutely evolve over time.

With each and every gift, there are challenges.  Losing my voice has given me time to reflect and to make some decisions for how I will navigate my life a little differently.  Perspective has come from the silence.  Instead of me just speaking the words that come to me, I have had the opportunity to stop and take the opportunity to reflect before acting too quickly.  Much can be learned in the space between the words (spoken or written).

My hope is that I will create a little more silence in my life as I continue to navigate what life has to offer.

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Sixteen years ago, I had the opportunity of a lifetime when a congregation recruited me to their Education Director.  I remember telling the Rabbi who headed up the search committee that this could be the worst choice of his life.  Little did I know that accepting the decision would be one of the best decisions in my life.

At the time, I had little or no supervisory experience in a school setting; although I had been a unit head at numerous girls’ camps and a lead teacher for a large Religious School in another state.  I was also a mother; with one infant and a nearly four year old.  I was young and the synagogue had decided to replace the education director who had been running their school for over 17 years.  All of the teachers had worked under their director for over a decade.  Let’s just say, I probably wasn’t in the best position to be directing this school.

In truth, I learned more about people in this job than I had ever learned before that time.  Being cocky did nothing to help me succeed or maybe it did, you decide.  Fortunately, I have always been full of ideas on how to propel my programs forward.  Sometimes I have been blessed when committees, staff, parents, and students that join me in this journey, sometimes not.  In this case, the Rabbi and the Education Committee were amazing.  The teachers, loved teaching, but they would have preferred having another director.

After just a few months, I thought I could tell these teachers how to do their work. I must have had serious attitude, but I don’t remember.  What I do remember is the day, I had a staff meeting planned with a tight agenda.   I remember walking into the room to start the meeting when all of the teachers literally crossed their arms and told me exactly how they felt about my presence in this world.  They were not happy with me or my bubbly energy.  They were teachers that were set in their ways and while they weren’t fabulous for the most part, they were loving and still offered their students phenomenal education.  Many of them had been teaching as long as I had been alive or at least a couple of decades.

When I allowed them the space to express themselves (like I had a choice), I humbled by their dedication and their ability to reach out and let me know their thoughts.  And for my part, I listened; I truly heard their ideas, their pain at losing their previous administrator, and their years of experience.  I was awed how they were able to evolve from anger to warmth.  I was willing to do a dance with them; I was willing to hear their words and their wisdom.  In return, they allowed me to bring my youthful bubbly energy into their world.

When I left the position 18 months later, I was profoundly sad to go.  I had learned so much from working with an incredibly talented community full of ideas and spirit; I loved the rabbi, and did not want to move to a new state, but my family was moving, so it was time to move with them.  When I left that position, all of the teachers were crying as was I.  Each had given me a really special gift from their hearts, but my favorite came from my most difficult critic.  One teacher made me the below picture that has stayed with me as a reminder to stay strong, but to always keep sacred space to hear the wisdom of others even as I seek my own journey on the path I am traveling.

Matiisse

To look at something as though we had never seen it before, requires great courage. ~Henri Matisse

As an educator, a mother, a writer, and a human being, I pray for the wisdom and the creativity to navigate the world fuller as the seeker that I am.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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