Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘tears’

A friend of mine just send me a quote that resonated to the deepest part of my soul.

The only way you can endure your pain is to let it be painful.
~Shunryu Suzuki , Zen monk and teacher
who helped popularize Zen Buddhism 

After over 11 weeks of pain and now healing, I have a new insight into the rhythm of life. The challenge of dealing with excruciating pain gave me the opportunity to reflect on not only myself, but on the larger wold.

Almost nothing about life is simple or easy; sometimes it is simply hard or feels like too much.

While March’s hell took over my ability to function and forced me to ground myself differently than I ever have, the sadness that permeated my being over the ensuing weeks may have been worse in many ways. With too much time on my hands and an inability to focus on writing, reading, loved ones, or work, I went towards darkness. Sometimes it was as if I was in a very long tunnel; the only problem was that I couldn’t see the other end of the tunnel; I couldn’t see the light.

Even with my beautiful sons, sweet phone calls from loved ones, and a couple of visitors, I felt more alone than I may have felt since my early years. My heart and soul ached with deep loneliness and the world’s politics made me feel hopeless. Even as my body healed, I understood that I was grieving deeply. I was grieving from the lost dreams – personally and globally. With each passing day, the daily beatings left me battered and bruised and sometimes even hyperventilating.

What I learned during the darkest moments was that I couldn’t hide from my pain. There was no cocoon big enough to hold me and no one there to hear the depths of my pain. Although my beautiful sister-in-law reached out to me daily, I wasn’t able to be consoled; I also chose to only share about the physical pain. I believed and still believe that the depth of what I was feeling was too much to put on any one person’s shoulders. So instead, I allowed me the time and space to go through it.

The good news is that I have always found light in the darkness and as the sparks have begun to make room for more and more light, I have slowly become more grounded. With each passing day, calmness emerges and light shines a little more brightly; not only my body is healing, but so is my soul.

The single most valuable tool for healing came from giving my pain a voice. As we all know, it is impossible to sweep boulders under a carpet. I’ve tried, but to no avail. So with perseverance, I started naming my fears and addressing my pain by actively allowing myself the room to feel and even to cry before trying to move mountains.

Even as I share a taste of what was weighing me down, know that I am aware that all is intertwined with each other and nothing stands on it’s own even if it may appear that it does. There are many parts of life’s puzzle that impact each of us; I am no different.

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.

Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.

All things connect.
~Chief Seattle

“My back hurts!!!!
The physical pain may have been hurled at me the way that bombers explode their targeted locations with precision, but finding the right doctors and medications put me on a healing journey. Surgery probably saved my ability to walk and now physical therapy, yoga, and losing weight will move me to an even better place. My health journey has had horrific moments, but loving practitioners and doctors have made each passing day less painful.

Core Belief Tree June 2017.FinalOnce I started finding ways to navigate the pain, I began to see that my back’s pain was in part due to my need to strengthen my core and better align my soul with my roots (values) while working towards what I really want in my life (the fruits of my labor). I needed and still need to become a healthier and stronger me so that ‘real’ healing can occur on every level. That meant and still means that in order to be healthy I need to better engage with my root values so that my core can thrive. And only through pollination will blossoms sprout fruit. This realization lead me to understand that I had to navigate a lot of moving parts in order to blossom and ultimately see the fruits of my labor. This light bulb moment followed a fabulous online class art class that I took before surgery.

The vision above is what emerged. I have drawn several different versions of this tree and each one brings more clarity.

What the ‘F’ am I going to do? I never have enough money!
As a Jewish Educator and a single mother, money has often been a challenge for me. I have always faced without hesitation and mostly with a positive attitude. It is what it is. Yet. . . .illness, medical bills, and reality got to me during much of my recovery. Still, I tried to seek positive solutions to overwhelming fear.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the following question on Facebook, “How are you becoming fiscally more socially responsible?” The first response came from someone who believed that this question can only be asked of people that have a means. Initially, I I was asking that question because I literally don’t have enough money to thrive, but yet I really do have what I need-mostly. On most months, I can prioritize, but it is really tight. And getting sick did nothing to make it easier.

My tight budget got tight enough to put me over the edge. With an inability to drive, my sons had to start taking Uber (no good transit system here), I had to buy medications and more medications, I had to meet a deductible that was outside of anything I could afford, and I had to pay co-pays for every doctor’s appointment. And when I needed to go to the ER because I was fighting an infection, I opted out of going; I just didn’t have the mandatory $400 for an ER visit. (Fortunately, my decision to wait until morning worked out just fine.) The good news is that I had a credit card or two; the bad news is that I used them. A tax refund paid off most of the debt and this month, I finished paying off the rest except that left me with barely enough to navigate this month.

Even as I write about my realities, I am so grateful that this is simply a ‘first world problem’. I profoundly aware of how fortunate I really am; I am always ok. I am blessed that one of my sons works and gives nearly every penny towards our household. And while things are tight, I always make it and I always have. Mostly. Are things easy? No. Do I waste much money? Sometimes. . .still I am careful. Was I fortunate enough to navigate the hundreds of dollars that illness has thrown in my direction? Yes. In my illness, I figured out how to pay down payments for surgery, medications, other unexpected expenses.

Regardless of the monthly medical expenses, the doctors and hospital still need to be paid, I am making it and even starting to hope I will have a solid savings plan in place by September if not sooner.  I have food on the table, an ability to cook in a sweet little kitchen, a beautiful home with an amazing landlord, a car (with car payments), and a lovely neighborhood. Basically, I really do have most of what I need/want. I have a beautiful life.

Back to my Facebook question, I believe that everyone of us can make socially conscious financial decisions. Are you directly supporting sweatshops or purchasing your clothing through thrift shops and clothing swaps?  Do you buy chocolate bars at dirt cheap prices or limit yourself to a fair-trade chocolate bar every few months? Are you using the dryer or hanging your clothing on a clothesline or drying rack? When you go to grocery stores or any store, do you use paper or plastic? Perhaps you simply bring your own bags; I know I do. While I am far from perfect, I am trying to make socially conscious decisions at every opportunity and if I am really thoughtful, I am also saving money with each decision.

This month, I am fixated on three very real realities, I want to purchase a compost, I need to put off going to a dentist for a little bit longer, and I am sad that I can’t make all the donations that I want to make. There are a lot of beautiful nonprofits doing amazing work. Let me know if you’d like to give to any my favorite organization; I definitely have a bunch I could suggest. Some of my deepest sadness comes from the fact that I am not giving as I would like or doing enough. But I do know that I am doing the best that I can AND the more I learn, the more I try to make responsible and loving decisions not only for our family, but also for the greater world.

Our World Feels Like It is Falling Apart
Mother Earth is crying. Human beings are being delegitimized based on where they live, the color of their skin, their religion, their socio-economic status, their gender, and/or their sexual orientation. Add these realities to the fact that not only the United States government, the Israeli government, as well as so many other governments are filled with ill equipped leaders who are toxic at the least and seemingly fascist at the worst.

And regardless of how bad it is, I am amazed at the angels that are showing up. Whether at rallies, at organizing meetings, at the offices of elected officials, or on the street, I am meeting passionate people who want to make our world a better place. I have even been touched by elected officials who have integrity and are helping guide those that want to do whatever they can.

Healing My Body, My Mind, and My Soul
I took the weeks needed to heal not only my body, but also my mind and my soul. Admitting that the pain felt overwhelming and I felt alone was the only way to move forward. At times crying cleansed me and sometimes it paralyzed me for a moment or more, but in the end I have worked through the deepest depths of loss. I have allowed myself time to grieve and at times I am allowing myself the space to still grieve. In so many ways it feels like I have nine lives or perhaps twenty-nine lives. 🙂

Living is holy work and I am absolutely up for the task. Hineini, Here I am!

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – To remind me of the power of ‘Choosing Life’, I think back to John Denver’s song, I Want To Live. There is so much beautiful work to do! Are you with me?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

 

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 »

red yahrzeit candle26 years ago, I buried my mother. I remember one relative telling me she didn’t understand why I was so sad, but I was. As tough as my relationship with my mother was, I knew that once I buried her, I would never be able to make it better.

Over the last 26 years, I have faced some of the horrific memories and found ways to heal. The work is relentless, but the benefits are great. I am blessed to have found ways to navigate the darkness and friends that will listen to me on the rare days when the weight of my pain is too heavy to carry. The good news is that those days are few and far between.

For me, I have found that healing has happened on so many levels. I no longer feel deep anger or sadness on a regular basis. Time has been good to me. Sharing my story has helped me detach and move forward. I can now go months without thinking of the impact of her choices or feeling a physical reaction to my memories of her.

Through her actions, my mother taught me how to be a loving soul and a good mother. I knew I never wanted to mother like her or to lose control of myself to addiction. While I am not perfect, I am good enough and sometimes I am even good!

Changing my name so many years ago was the beginning of my healing journey. Writing, chanting, and drumming helped me dig deeper. Healing from domestic violence does not happen without taking many deep breaths, releasing the tears, and even allowing the nightmares to visit each night.  You have to go through the pain in order to find a softer landing, a better place.

Tonight I am missing the possibilities that were lost upon my mother’s death, but I am also feeling immense gratitude that I am exactly where I am. I may be sad in this moment, but it is the sadness that comes each yahrzeit (anniversary of a death) and each Mother’s Day.

The tears are cleansing. My heart is no longer broken. And I am breathing deeply.

Sadness happens. Healing happens too.

 

Read Full Post »

Connecting is what I do. I have grown to love that about myself. And yet, I have had the door slammed in my face. . .not once, not twice, but multiple times. I have had other doors close more gradually without intense pain.

To say that I am strong doesn’t really cover it, sometimes I move forward with ease and sometimes the pain has been known to stay with me – forever (at least to-date).

When doors close or sometimes feel like there closing, I struggle to breathe deeply. The pain is so very overwhelming and my heart feels the need to race. At first the tears feel like they will never stop falling and then the metaphoric tears continue to fall. Those tears create puddles around my soul and remind me that perhaps it is time to protect myself by building a moat.

While the moat may surround me, it won’t ever protect me fully. As long as I love and connect as I do, I will remain open to loving connections and profound losses.

May I be blessed to hold and be held in a fullness that nurtures my spirit and builds bridges that fortify my soul.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chava's Shadow 17January2016Silence is an answer.
While your love is deep
Your quiet resonates more deeply.

As vulnerability courses through my being
Your silence triggers the pain that rests just below the surface.
Distance is our reality and yet it hasn’t always been that way.

Trust evaporates when it isn’t contained.
Sometimes I need to be metaphorically held.
Stroked. Nurtured. Hugged.

A kind word
A sweet note
A present message

Sharing my vulnerability isn’t easy
Yet it is part of growing connections
I am not as strong as I thought I was
and maybe I never was.

Breathing in the truth. . .
Silence speaks louder than words. . . .
I’m listening.

Read Full Post »

One of Jamie's last photos  - Kauai: Paradise Found

One of Jamie’s last Facebook photos – Kauai: Paradise Found

I love deeply.

As someone who loves people as I do, I often connect with people instantly.  It is not something I think about, it simply is. What I have learned over the last fifteen or so years is that I either have a connection or I don’t.  Are there exceptions to this rule. . .absolutely, but it is still a guiding principle within my life.

Some of my closest friendships have been made in 20 seconds or less on a good day, up to a minute on a questionable day. For the most part, if a friendship takes too much work initially, it isn’t a friendship worth keeping.

The people that come into my life in under a minute quickly become my soul friends. I often forget that they haven’t been in my life forever. Which can become awkward when I KNOW they know something, that of course they don’t. Those relationships tend to transcend time or space. Those are the friendships I want to keep and hold forever.

The only problem is that those friendships don’t always last.  Sometimes they end because they had an expiration date and sometimes they end because of serious illness or death.

Just this week, I lost a new friend, Jamie Zimmerman. You wouldn’t have known it by how we connected, but it is what it is.  In my heart, I think we both believed that we would one day do something profound together; I don’t know what I mean by that. . .it was just a hunch. The only problem is that earlier this week, an accident on the beaches of Hawaii took her life. As soon as I heard this, I couldn’t stop sobbing.  We had just had a couple of hours together when she came to Houston a couple of months ago. Loved our time and couldn’t wait until we would meet again.

But sometimes there are no tomorrows. http://wp.me/pthnB-5i So as I am wiping my tears away, I wonder how to best remember this brilliant woman. With an amazing gusto for living her passions, she wanted to share all she knew and inevitably spread her light too. She was a born leader who generously gave her heart and soul. While Jamie was nearly 20 years younger than I am, I had so much to learn from this beautiful soul.  I am so sorry I don’t have more time with her, but also grateful for the time I did have.

Jamie’s death has forced me to look at how I walk in the world.  How can I face the reality of sudden loss? How do I process accidents at all? Last month another friend of mine had a cycling accident.  I took that one hard too and he really was ok by the time I knew of his fall – battered and healing.

Over the last several years, I have learned that dread and vulnerability fill me when I hear of sudden accidents and loss whether they cause death or simply physical challenges of all sorts. Perhaps it is because I realize that as a single mother, I fear that my children would be alone if something happened to me. Or perhaps I have felt and witnessed the effects of sudden loss.  Either way, I am struggling internally right now.

Early onset of dementia took another close friend away a few years ago.  In fact, my friend Sharon was the person, I had planned to give my most personal information before I realized that the door of opportunity had closed.  Life doesn’t always work as we expect. Sigh.

With every fiber of my being, I hope I never lose the ability to connect with people as I do.  And yet I do need to find a way to accept the realities that come with loving people.  Those that I love will not necessarily always be present. Nor is it a given that I will be present for them.

The responsibility to live in the most authentic way possible becomes a necessity when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  It also means that I am responsible for being fully present in life and with those I love.  Tomorrow will be what it is, so I have to actively engage in this moment and to be the best person I can be within each of my interactions with the world; whether I connect daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or even less, my hope is that I will always the best person I can be.

Thinking about Jamie
Jamie was full of life; she actively engaged in life and strived to embrace all of life.  She also had a keen sense of how to honor herself and reach for her highest self.  I didn’t know Jamie well, but I wish I did.  Her spirit was full of light, she illuminated not only where she was standing at any given moment, but her beautiful energy brightened the world.  The world is a much better place because of her presence in it.

While I don’t know what Jamie and I may have accomplished if given the opportunity, I do know that I need to take the lessons I learned from our brief friendship.  And that is exactly what I will do.

~ ~ ~

May I learn to kiss the ground with my feet and reach for the stars with every bone in my body.

May I be blessed with the fearlessness to let my full light shine as I nurture my spirit a little more fully.

May I never stop loving as deeply as I do out of fear of losing the beauty of what was.

Read Full Post »

Listen to the Silence

When I was around five years old, my father used to gently place his hands over my ears and lovingly squeeze my ears/head. As he did that, he would say, ‘listen to the silence’. As he did a flood of warmth and a feeling of calmness washed over me. This loving act continued into my teen years and beyond; I think he found a way to slip it into each meeting even after I moved away from home.

After I had sons, my father continued this tradition by gently holding his grandsons head the same way – sometimes to calm them and sometimes just to make them calm.  Once I saw my father do it to his grandsons, I followed the lead and also held Aryeh and Dovi the same way.  Each and every time I did, my children’s faces would light up with a smile that could melt whoever was looking at them.

Over the last few days, I have found myself craving that sensation, not only the physical touch, but the silence that followed it.  There is so much noise occurring within me, around me, and everywhere in the world.  At the moment, there seems to be a shortage of quiet.

My mind has never been one for shutting down. For some reason, I am always thinking. Whether it is about myself, my family, the world, Israel, human rights, human trafficking, my loved one’s challenges, or  the never-ending list of possibilities.  My thoughts are part of who I am and yet, I know I need to find a way to stop and listen to the silence.

Many years ago, I read the space between the notes is as important as the notes themselves.  The same can be said for the space between the words.  The time has come for me to allow for a little more space in my life.  My body and my mind is craving silence, down time, and time to myself.

What does silence look like for me? I think it means taking time for me to go inward.  Listening to my physical and emotional needs and then doing things which nurture and nourish those needs. With that in mind, I am actively going to be making time for me to write more, work on some art/craft projects, chant, and drum.

I got this!

Lately, I have noticed that I am engaging less on social media and choosing to ‘pick my battles’ when I do. I am doing my best to live consciously and to consider the myriad of challenges that face the world, but I am not hyper focusing – I am  remaining aware and allowing for the quiet to go where it needs to go.  While I want to be ‘the change I wish to see in the world’, I am taking Gandhi’s wisdom down a notch so that I can go a little more insular for now.  My guess is that something huge will emerge when the time is right.  I can’t wait to see what that will be – only time will tell.

What I do know is that I need to take time to listen to the silence.  I need to go inward and explore my heart, my mind, and my soul. I need to allow my rhythm to take me where I need to go.

My father may not be here to hold me or to squeeze my ears, but what he gave me all those years ago was the awareness, that sometimes the sweetest silence comes from being held close. . .the only difference is that I need to do it all by myself.

Writing

Drawing

Thinking

Dreaming

Painting

Moving

Praying

Drumming

Creating

Chanting

Being

Today, I know that I need to hold myself and trust that when I do, I will be loving myself and keeping me safe.  My father, of blessed memory, gave me the most important gift in the world; he taught me how to listen to the silence.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Read Full Post »

Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed? Yesterday was my day! But with my mattress on the floor, I didn’t have far to go.

Nearly every moment of the day, I was either close to tears or crying. I felt like a storm that left tons of puddles. My spirit felt crushed and my heart felt broken. Sometimes it is hard to believe how deeply I feel.

Over the course of yesterday and probably most any day, if I allowed myself, I could cry for all the injustices that have surrounded my life. I could also cry because nine spiritual souls were murdered in their House of Prayer. I could cry for the homeless people I see on every corner in Houston. I could cry for my perceptions of US and Israel politics. I could cry because I have some friends that are struggling with their lives. I could cry for the wildfires that are destroying land I love (and making life challenging for so many.) I could cry because I am missing one very beloved soul that was in my life who for various reasons is essentially dead to me. Yesterday was one of those days that I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.

Raw intensity is absolutely a reality of my being. I love deeply; I feel deeply. When I allow myself the time and space, I am a very gentle soul that can usually manage all of my moving parts. Usually. Not always.

Yesterday was not a day for holding back my tears. I cried. I sulked. AND regardless of how I was feeling, I kept finding rainbows. Bright beautiful rainbows.  Nearly every moment of my day included beautiful ironies that imbued a sense of balance within my melancholy spirit.

  • As my eyes my opened this morning, I saw an absolutely beautiful photo taken by the amazing Jade Beall. All of Jade’s photos fill my eyes with tears; she has a way of capturing the most awe-inspiring women and children. Now that would have been enough, but then I read the words of an absolutely stunning woman who had never seen her beauty before she saw Jade’s photos of her. Both women were full of pure grace in my eyes.
  • After a little while, I read David Bedrick’s thoughts on self-love. In that moment, I wanted to skip it. I wasn’t open to the possibility. And then I read the Gregory Orr poem:

    Squander it all!

    Hold nothing back.

    The heart’s a deep well.

    And when it’s empty,
    It will fill again.

  • A short time later, also on David Bedrick’s discussion on self-love, I saw a photo of a mural that seemed to be reminding me how to live my life. Great message for the perfect moment. (see below)
  • One of my closest friends called.
  • After being told that one of my congregant’s dog was essentially afraid of his own shadow and does not go to anyone, Rocky couldn’t stop coming to me for love. I felt so blessed to receive this pup;s love!
  • Aryeh, my older son, called from where he is working at a camp in California. I am so proud of him for persevering the wildfires and the very rustic conditions that are a result of the wildfires.
  • A friend mailed me a fabulous book!!! I was so surprised and touched!
  • Dovi and I cooked a great dinner together.
  • On Facebook, I admitted how lonely I was feeling in Houston and people reached out. So many people reminded me that I was loved. In the end, new friends invited me into their lives and other friends helped make connections so that I wouldn’t feel so lonely. Now I will experience a chant group tonight, Gay Pride over the weekend, and new friends and new experiences over the coming weeks. I may even try karaoke with my new friends. 🙂
  • I read a blog by Amanda Palmer who’s best friend just died. That opened up the floodgates and allowed me to cry. Remember, I was also in the midst of actively grieving my own loss.
  • Students voted to take down the Confederate Naval Flag at the The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, SC.
  • I took a long walk with my dog and used that time to chant!!! Awe-someness!!!
  • And then there were the sayings that kept showing up guiding me how to live life with more grace and personal integrity. Here is the one that resonated, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. KEEP THE CHANNEL OPEN!” As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille.
  • A couple of friends called and allowed me the safe space to feel and share what I was feeling.
  • While I was looking forward to the Gratitude and Trust Summit or #gratitudetrust140 for today, I was so grateful that late last night Jeff Pulver and I chatted on Facebook and he messaged me the info so I could log on to LiveStream!!! I am so fortunate to witness Jeff’s inspirational journey and how his visions impact the so many.

Reflection: Even as I struggled with intense sadness and pain yesterday, I kept finding blessings at every turn. And while, the blessings couldn’t heal me from my pain, they sure filled my spirit with light. Now that’s what I find ironic.

Just in case you may be wondering, rainbows make me cry too!!!

REMINDER:

Photo Courtesy of Joel Gunz-Portland, Oregon's Alberta Street

Photo Courtesy of Joel Gunz-                     Portland, Oregon’s Alberta Street

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »