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Posts Tagged ‘Temple’

Don’t be afraid to tread when you can’t really swim
Dance in the rain and find the rainbows when darkness prevails
Find the good in every challenge that crosses your path
And always soar and reach for your best.
(Excerpt: Sometimes Life Gives Us No Tomorrows
written by Chava Gal-Or)

Have you ever had those moments when your were furious about something only to find that you may be looking at the whatever is happening the wrong way?

One of the most significant practices of my life is to try to find light in the midst of life’s challenges.  I even changed my last name to honor the way I hope to walk in the world.  My last name Gal-Or means wave a light. Years ago I decided to acknowledge that I have mostly been able to find light in darkness or within troubling moments AND I wanted to remind myself to continue to walk the world in this way.  Having said that, I also realize that I am human, there are times when I have to take a moment and reflect.

Over the last few days I found myself reflecting that I really do need to pay attention and to take a deep breathe before allowing frustration to penetrate my heart and mind. As conscious as I am, I am taking a few minutes to openly share exactly how I find the good in the following scenarios.

  1. Accidents happen.  Often times I count my blessings when I am stuck in traffic; I find myself feeling relieved that somehow I was blessed to be running late and missing my potential role in the traffic accident which is just ahead of where I am.  At the same time, I pray for all that are involved in the accident; I never take spiritual or physical health for granted.
  2. Recently, I lost my position at Temple Emanu-El, a local congregation, because of their financial challenges.  For the most part I have chosen not to share the impact of that loss too fully; it wouldn’t serve me well. What I will say is that it hurt my spirit very deeply.  And yet out of the pain, I have come to grips with some spiritual and emotional needs  that I may not have faced so directly if I had not received my walking papers. Living consciously is a powerful gift that I am giving myself.
  3. A few nights ago, my son left all the lights on in the house.  Sigh.  I am so sensitive to light and it ultimately woke me up; I needed to wake up fully so I could turn off all the lights. 😦  To say that I was thoroughly annoyed is an understatement.  So, in order to distract myself and manage some of my agitation I went on Facebook to check out was going on in the world.  And what I found was a friend that was in serious crisis and needed me.  Two hours later, I was profoundly grateful that I could be there for my friend and to help her manage some intense darkness.  If it weren’t for my son’s mistake of leaving the light on, I wouldn’t have been there to listen and to offer some potential ways to navigate all that she needed to cope with.
  4. How many times have you been at a doctor’s office only to be stuck waiting an extra 30 minutes or maybe even an hour?  Well for nearly five years, we were blessed with doctors that didn’t rush my then teenage son through their office visit because they had other patients.  We also had doctors that created a slot for our son because he was too sick to wait.  After such a positive experience with so many medical practitioners, no longer do I get agitated when I have to wait.  Having a doctor that is compassionate and present when we most need him/her makes a world of difference to me.  Ultimately my son emerged healthy and vibrant, but the journey to get there was full of loving souls that really took the time needed to care of my son when he needed it most.
  5. While initially, I may feel frustrated when I get stuck in the Car Repair place or anywhere, but over the years I have come to appreciate the ‘accidental’ gift of time which allows me time to walk over to the coffee shop and take some time to write and people watch.  To me there is nothing better than having time to sit quietly and write and/or people watch.

We never do know what is on our horizons; life happens and so does death.  My job is to try to make the best of every moment.  Sometime the moment is all we have. . . .

Oct 20 - sunrise Pantano WashMay we all be blessed to find the light shining in the horizons.

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

 

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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 19 Elul or 11 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!

~ ~ ~

“Find beauty and gifts in simple moments, but acknowledge the entire picture too.”
Quote by Me

~ ~ ~

All of us have default responses that show how we walk through the world.  As someone who has been been beaten in a multitude of ways both violently and emotionally, I choose to see the world as beautiful and to celebrate life at every given opportunity.  Life is hard, but amazing moments happen with each passing day.

Reality is what it is and I am choosing to be transparent about what we are currently experiencing.  At the same time, please know that many blessings surround my family.  Yes, times are painfully difficult, but drowning is not an option.  My sons and I have chosen to thrive by diving into the water, swimming as best we can, and sometimes treading so that we can stay afloat.  There is no question, we will make it to shore.

Reality first:

  1. On December 16th, my youngest son’s 17th birthday, I was told that my job would go to half-time and that I would lose all benefits unless I could afford COBRA.  I couldn’t, so not only did I lose half of my salary, I lost health insurance and the ability to take care of my nearly adult children or myself.
  2. In June, after I had learned to manage on half-salary by supplementing my income, I lost my half-time position.
  3. June is too late to find a professional position in my field; now I need to wait until next winter if I choose to stay in my field.
  4. I struggle to afford even the most basic needs and sometimes I can’t even afford them.
  5. My Temple (as well as many spiritual communities) did not pay into unemployment insurance, so I have no benefits that are often available to those that have lost their jobs.  (Note: If you are a leader or a member of a spiritual community, be part of helping the community navigate good and ethical decision making.  Unemployment should be a given-not a loop hole.)
  6. I am a single mother who is barely supporting my sons on whatever I make.
  7. My family moved to Tucson and left many of our closest friends for a job that left us stranded.  Jewish professionals do not make enough to easily save the kind of money that would allow us to move back east.

I am sorry that the congregation I worked for is struggling; I am also tremendously sorry that I live in fear of homelessness because of their choices.

Life is hard, really hard. And the good news is that I get to decide how I will walk through this journey.  And during this weekend alone, I found so many awesome gifts:

  1. Aryeh found my dog playing with my thumb drive; I thought some important documents had been lost forever.  Now I have some back-ups to do.  Can anyone help me create a cloud that can contain all my computer documents?  Unfortunately I do have some significant limitiations. :/
  2. Loved when my friends shared with me what was good about their week before Shabbat when I asked; Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with so many folks in our lives.
  3. The boys and I had a simple salad for Shabbat dinner; we loved just being together.
  4. After dinner, Aryeh and I taught Dovi to play backgammon!!! And he actually won one game.
  5. Saturday morning, I visited my 98 year old friend and took her to the DeGrazia Museum in the Sun. While it wasn’t a total success, I did get my friend out for awhile.  AND I can’t wait to go back by myself later this week.
  6. The DeGrazia Museum is a hidden free treasure for all visiting or living in Tucson; go when you can and be sure to leave a donation.
  7. Aryeh and I had an amazing time at our friends house; we swam, ate good food; and laughed a lot!
  8. Had an hour conversation with one of my closest friends in Tucson.  (Wow, Tucson really has given me some close friends.)
  9. Another friend found me a great High Holiday position in NY, but it ended up not making sense to take it.  But when the offer came in, it brought tears to my eyes and made me feel a little more worthy than I have been feeling.

Continuously Reflection and gratitude:

  1. I have had some amazing time to think about my values and what I want to accomplish during the second half of my life.  What do I really want to do? Where do I really want to be? Who do I want in my life? I want a life that includes thoughtful people doing things that jazz their soul; I want to be that person too.
  2. A good friend helped me sustain myself by giving me a job; another one helped me find more work when the first job stopped producing enough hours for me.
  3. There are many friends that keep calling, sending notes, and believing in me.  They support me when I am feeling good, when I am devastated, and when I am just ok.  My most beautiful friends see me as I am, positive (for the most part) and navigating tough times; they support me by being there and letting me know that they are!
  4. Since December, I have been a caregiver to those that are aging, in medical crisis, and/or dying.  Helping each individual and sometimes their families as they navigate some of life’s hardest times has been an amazing experience for me; I believe that I am making people’s lives a little easier when I am their caregiver.
  5. When we really needed help, financial help has shown up on three different occasions since December.  Still every month since December has been terrifying.
  6. AND last week a dear friend offered me her house in Charlottesville, VA; I am seriously thinking about trying to get there.  I am wondering how to afford getting there and/or the storage costs of that transition.
  7. Two friends offered to drive a U-Haul truck cross country so that I wouldn’t have to pay movers.
  8. Countless friends have offered me real solutions so that homelessness wouldn’t happen; one challenge to many of the solutions is that we have two dogs that for now we are choosing to keep.  They have already been homeless in their lives; I don’t want them to experience that fate again.  (Besides when our newest pup became a problem this summer, we couldn’t find a home for her. Sigh.)
  9. A fabulous congregation in Boulder offered me a position that I’d love to take, but it is half-time.  After the holidays, perhaps I can find another half-time position to compliment the first position.  They have a temp Director of Education there for the next couple of months.

What can you do to help?

  1. Visualize we are good and pray for us to find the sustenance that will help us thrive.
  2. Give me a job.  I am good with people in all sorts of settings.
  3. If you hear of a job that you think would be good for my soul. Let me know.  I am looking for either a career position in Jewish Education or Social Action work AND I am also open to doing a job in a great environment that is a 35-40 hour week job that will allow me the time to write and do Social Action when I am not working.
  4. If you are a doctor or dentist living in Tucson and you are willing to be there for our family for lower or no costs, let me know.
  5. Keep your eyes open. . . .I am considering asking for concrete help that will allow us to go to the east coast.
  6. Light a candle and visualize us spreading light and being full of light.

The good news is that I believe all will be ok.  I am patient and hopeful; the right door is emerging as I type :).  Today’s text response to a local friend that had asked me how I am was –“up & down. . . .but mostly navigating with a positive outlook.”  This is how I walk through life.  I believe that blessings surround me and I pray that all of us will remain healthy (medical emergencies are not an option).  I am actively engaged in living positively as we also play the waiting game for a good job/position that will help sustain my family.

May light surround our family and flow through our family now and always; may that light help make the world a better place.

With blessings & light,
Chava

 

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: Keep returning home

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.

As I was flying home from Boulder  to my sons this week, I was overcome with ambivalence. I found myself wondering, what makes a place home?

At this moment in time, I am in an incredibly expansive space; I am open to any and all opportunities.  I am happy to continue in the field that I have loved for almost three decades and I am excited that an entirely new doorway may call to me.  My physical home may continue to exist in Tucson or perhaps I will end up somewhere completely different.  The world is wide open to me and possibilities abound.

In some ways it is so simple to say that I am going home.  Home is where my family lives, my dogs await my return, or where my ‘stuff’ is.  And yet when you are navigating a possible transition to a new locale, a physical home feels more like limbo.

And then the idea of home came again on Saturday morning when I went to the Temple I used to work.  I was quite surprised that I felt comfortable there in spite of my losing my position due to financial challenges within the community.  I am still feeling lots of mixed emotions as I struggle to make ends meet.  Even so, I do have very warm feelings towards the community; I am not sure why I am shocked, but I am.  One friend let me know that she hopes that I still find Temple to be my home community.  While I don’t have the answer, I realized that the mentioning of Temple as my home left me again wondering.  Where is home?

And then this morning, the answer came to me loud and clear when I listened to the brilliant TEDTalks of Elizabeth Gilbert.  When she said, “I am not going to quit (writing), I’m going home”, I realized then Gilbert eloquently expressed what I know to be true.  For me, going home means that I am writing and that I am in a writing place.  Writing makes me feel at peace, it makes me whole.

For me, I feel balanced and complete when I am writing; it really does make any place feel like home sweet home..  Where is your safe place? When do you feel most at peace? Where is your home?

May we all keep returning home to the whatever jazzes our soul, makes us feel centered, and nurtures who we are.

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Note to Seeing the Door series:                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Wherever you go, possibilities surround you! By opening both your eyes and your heart, a door will always appear.

Have you ever noticed how many different types of doors exist in the world?  Nearly each and every door leads to an opportunity.  Some doors are physical; other doors are metaphoric.  All doors lead to opportunity.

With the Rosh Chodesh Av (the first day of Av, the new Jewish month) beginning tonight, I have been processing how I can find meaning as we journey towards Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av?  On Tisha B’Av, we mourn the destruction of the both the First and Second Temples as well as many other horrible atrocities that were done to the Jews on this date.  Historically, this day is the saddest day in all of the Jewish calendar; on the 9th of Av, we remember, we mourn, and for some of us, we look for ways to make sense of this time.

How can you create an opening or doorway that will allow for new insight when darkness prevails?   For me, that means being reflective and finding lessons from the shattered remnants.

While many outdoor spaces offer me the most potent of spiritual places I have ever been, the most spiritual sanctuary and community has easily been Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland.  There I found peace, spirituality, and community; it was and still is quite beautiful.  So when I consider what a Temple could be to in modern terms, I return to Adat Shalom.  That doesn’t take away what the First and Second Temples mean to the Jewish people, but it does help me find meaning in what the Temples could have meant to those that treasured them and all they stood for.  Adat Shalom’s beauty quite literally takes my breathe away.

AdatShalomSanctuary

Over the coming days, I will be openly reflecting on what we can learn from the Destruction of the Temples.  One way that I gain a little empathy for a time that is somewhat beyond my comprehension is that I want to explore how my body is like a Temple both physically and metaphorically.  As sacred beings, we create sacred Temples/sacred spaces by how we choose to walk in the world.  Here is a working list of different ways each of us might be like a Temple.

  1. Spirituality doesn’t happen without a practice.
  2. In order to grow, I need to take care of myself, my community, and the world.
  3. Nourishing my body with good ingredients will ultimately lead me to be the best I can be.
  4. Surrounding myself with positive energy will create a healthy environment.
  5. My carbon footprint matters.
  6. Knowledge leads to wisdom.
  7. Choosing to live with integrity is a way of honoring my essence.
  8. Sometimes what appears to be lifeless, stagnant, or even dead, is actually within a time of rebirth, re-visioning and ultimate growth.
  9. Gaining insight often comes from trusting that the silence will us to the answers.
  10. Taking care of yourself physically leads people to appreciate and take note of your beauty.  Similar to the concept of Hiddur Mitzvah.
  11. Taking care of myself leads me and those that work with me to be part of the holy work.nd with this list comes a responsibility to take care of our bodies so we can do the holy work.

All that we do for our bodies makes a difference and ultimately leads to a better makom, a sacred space.  And yet it is important to remember that nothing is permanent; impermanence is a reality for all even that which is remembered in our collective memory.  While both a sacred being and a sacred place create an imprint and potential impact the world in which they exist, it doesn’t mean that it has a permanent place within that existence.  Yet each still has the possibility of being impact-ful during and exceeding their time.  How each walks in the world matters.

Much beauty exists around the exploration of how are body can be like a Temple.  One of my most empowering teachers, Lauren Rader, had her students create an art project that responded to that very question.  Here is the link to the amazing insight that was created by Lauren’s students. https://www.facebook.com/LaurenRadrArt/media_set?set=a.412319202480.182023.692372480&type=3

May the sacred beauty we develop within and around ourselves be parallel to how we see the Temple or any of the sacred places in our lives.

Coming soon: Part 2 if ‘How is My Body like a Temple?’ will explore how can gain insight through Jewish Texts and prayers.

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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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