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Posts Tagged ‘thriving’

Each day, I open my eyes with an awareness that life as I know it is gone or if it’s not it will be soon. Nothing lasts forever. . . . everything changes and evolves. That thought often leads to initial despondency, but ultimately I can’t stay in that place or I won’t be able to move my spirit and body to where it needs to go.

With each breath, I realize that moments of calm are fleeting. My once content loved ones may be wrestling with serious illness, broken hearts, or devastation over the course our country has taken. I am also be aware that the people I once felt loved by may have drifted away. Or perhaps the body that allowed me to run miles and miles can no longer move in quite the same way. Or maybe a practice that always helped me find calm isn’t working as it did.

 

img_2747And even with all of this knowledge and sometimes pain, I am impacted by the very real possibilities that waking up may open for me. Relationships may be salvaged. New friends may be found. A new love may enter my life. A beautiful moment may ignite my spirit. A solution may be found for something that once seemed impossible. Or perhaps, waking up that day will be enough.

While giving up and curling up into a cocoon may be exactly what my spirit craves, it usually only helps things for a brief time. Instead I endeavor to live each morning with intention. I visit the darkness only to push it aside (on most mornings) and then I stretch my limbs and allow gratitude to flow. I can move.  On a more hopeful morning, I embrace the words and melodies that fill my head. As the words and melodies fill my brokenness with what often becomes a burst of light.

I am alive. I am thriving. I have made it to this time.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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“When you bring consciousness to anything,
things begin to shift.”  
~Eve Ensler

Inca trail to Macchu Piccu -Credit Lauren Rader's Art and Releasing the Creative Powers Within ClassesI write in order to figure out what is weighing on my spirit, what truths guide me, and what I believe in the core of my being. Writing is how I come to grips with the many dichotomies that fill my life and how I ultimately become more grounded so that I can do the holy work of living with authenticity.

Weaving words together is how I have ultimately been able to heal my broken heart time and again. Life is hard, really hard. I have navigated some very dark and windy roads. And honestly, when I have started each journey, I have found myself wondering how I would ever make it through the pain. Sometimes I have believed that I wouldn’t make it. But thriving is truly not an option.

A lifetime of living has given me so many beautiful tools for living and healing when I need them most. While I find comfort in singing wordless melodies, chanting, drumming, breathing deeply, walking in nature, painting my sweet cards, and receiving the love of my beautiful tribe, my most sacred living comes from writing and it always has.

Writing is how I have found peace within storms, navigated troubled waters, and come to terms with life’s gifts and challenges. I write in order to find the words I need to make healthy life choices, mourn sad moments, and get out of my way when I am making things more difficult than they need to be.

Over the years, I have found humor in how different people relate to my writing. At any point in time, three different people will have three very different interpretations of my writing. Some will see me as broken, some will see me as whole or inspiring, and still others will think that I am using my writing to navigate life. And all three types will be sure that they are correct. And in truth, they may all be correct or they may not have a clue. And in truth, none of this matters. What matters is that my writing invites the reader to explore where they are in life and how they can best embrace their own journeys. My hope is to inspire people to explore their own lives or perhaps to simply open their eyes to see seeing new ways of seeing whatever is front of them.

The bottom-line is that through writing, I am able to gain insight in all areas of my life and in the world around me.

I am who I am because I am a writer.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

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Our Bodies Tell UsWaking up this morning, my body had so many messages it was screaming at me. And for the first time in a long time I am listening.

While I slept well, I woke too early with a bad cramp in my leg. With my spirit in a good place, I simply chose to move slowly, drink a ton of water and stretch. Upon reflection, I realized that I have been so absorbed with everything other than my heath that I have been neglecting my stretching and other self care. For someone that was told I would need more back surgery within a year of my surgery a few years ago, I can never let my guard down. I have to remain vigilant in taking care of myself.

I am giving myself 30 days to change the trajectory. If i can’t, I will need to return to my orthopedist for an MRI. I think this could be serious, but can be renegotiated with self care. The funny thing is. . .I  am actually relieved to focus on self care. 

My body isn’t the only thing that needs nurturing. My entire being is feeling raw and struggling. I have my hands, my heart, and my spirit in a wide range of areas from human rights, to racial and economic equality, to climate change, to immigrants/asylum seekers, to domestic violence, to education, to homelessness, to local politics, and to world politics especially around Israel. I also am being drawn to my writing my book Thriving: No Option. . . and creating healing retreats that will be birth as my book is being birthed.

Yesterday I realized that I also needed to go back to painting my little cards daily.  When I painted my little cards on a regular basis, my entire being was more creative and I could negotiate my funks with so much more ease. I am simply not doing what I need to do to remain centered and grounded in the holy work of living.  

What’s actually funny is that a couple of weeks ago I wrote, “Our bodies often tell us what we need to hear. Our job is to lean in and listen.” I was so proud of this reflection that I created the little picture/card above. Yesterday I was reunited with the card and realized that I need to listen to my own wisdom.

Yes, the world is feeling broken, but I have to figure out how I can best show up in the world while seriously taking care of my own physical and emotional needs. Who knows maybe I can even begin taking some time to make healthy food from scratch.

Today I am listening to the many messages that I have been hearing. I will be stretching more, creating more, taking more naps, and nurturing my body. Today and through the coming days, I will allow myself the space to do nothing.

Mostly I will allow the for a little more quiet in my soul. Perhaps in the coming days I will also figure out how I can best show up in the world while also loving myself with more conviction.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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I slept so well last night but woke up with anxiety running really deep. I think I get where it’s coming from, but I’m not 100% sure yet.

Before I even opened my eyes, I decided to seek the wisdom of some cards I had on my nightstand. (See above) I haven’t been doing this practice as regularly as I once did, but it’s a powerful tool for gaining inner wisdom. So before even turning on the light, I picked a card that called to me from Juicy Living Cards by SARK. What’s funny is that I think I may have picked this card one of the last times I used this particular deck – not including a couple of nights before when I felt called to seeking wisdom in this way.

The card I picked makes so much sense. I need to play. . .really play!!! My soul has been painfully aware of the many dichotomies that I live. My calling is wrestling with it’s many parts. My activism reminds me that the work that needs to be done is overwhelming and even scary. And my creative spirit needs so much more nurturing. AND even though my dreams are unfolding leaving me with new opportunities, I need to take care of myself with each breath.

This morning, I am taking time to drive out to the country to look at a retreat center/camp for our upcoming Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom retreat. While I have just begun this journey with my holy Muslim and Jewish sisters, I feel like I am finding a beautiful new rhythm for my life.

Ironically, I don’t have time to play or to nurture new connections, but I don’t have time not to. My soul needs the connections I am building with the Sisterhood and with a new beloved in my life. While I don’t know where any of these journeys will take me or even what tomorrow will bring, I do know that I am need to do whatever it takes to navigate what my teacher SARK calls the ‘marvelous messy middle’.

My life is full. I am just coming off of a writing sabbatical with so much more writing to do. My work is inspiring me to give more and more – not to mention the programming year is beginning this weekend. I am writing a book called, Thriving: No Option. . . . And my activism needs me to show up to the table again and again and again.

The good news is that EVERYTHING I am doing fuels my heart and soul! EVERYTHING I do nourishes me even the hard stuff. As a beloved friend recently wrote to me, “your heart beats for many. We’re all fortunate to have those heartbeats drumming away to heal us, like your djembe does for you.”

And I am tired. . . .tired to the core. This morning, I found myself chanting, drumming a little, writing and excited for what is ahead. I am so looking forward to what’s coming this morning and beyond. Driving out of the country today is exactly what I need. I will have a chance to see my sisters and if I am lucky I will also have a little time for me. In anticipation, I am bringing my journal, some watercolors, and my markers ….

This week has been particularly hard on my spirit; there is so much for me to do and a small health concern I am navigating. On top of it all, I still need to remember to breathe deeply and honor my spirit.

I’m understanding some things about myself that are leaving me afraid. I’m also loving the possibilities with an understanding that it will take time for life to unfold so that I can get to where I need to be. A difficult dichotomy to be sure. And yet, full of hope.

Healing seems to be the message I need to hear because two nights ago, I picked another healing card from the same Juicy Living Cards by SARK:

 

 

The moral of how I am currently walking in the world is:
“The only journey is the one within.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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Have you ever felt invisible?

  • You know the moment when you have a FABULOUS idea and no one will listen.
  • Or perhaps, when you were waiting for a call from someone who simply chooses to disappear without warning.

For me, I think I was invisible for nearly my entire childhood until I went to Israel for high school when I was 16 years old. And even then, I wonder if I was mostly invisible until I was in my forties. I may never really know.

As a child, I am not sure that I understood how to engage in normal ways. I had no idea how to interact as others did. My guess is that I learned to fake it because I was an actress. In truth though, I was invisible. No one really knew me or much less saw me. If they did, they would have had to look inside themselves in order to understand why they stood by and did little or in most cases nothing for a thoroughly battered young girl.

I grew up in what many refer to as idyllic neighborhood outside Baltimore. Yet I will never understand how the neighbors growing up on Pikeswood Drive, my extended family that lived within 3 miles, and my school community could have closed their eyes to the child that stood in front of them, next to them, or within their worlds. Perhaps I was a fabulous actress, I doubt it. More than likely, the adults simply did what felt easiest for them. They closed their eyes, their ears, and their hearts; more likely than not they choose to stay disengaged.

With that disengagement, I had to learn how to navigate a world that made no sense. As a young child, I never wondered why folks didn’t show up. I do now, but back then, it was simply my norm. And that norm was so lonely to navigate.

I have a distinct memory of believing that all my screams were silent when I was a little girl. They weren’t. I have one distinct memory of seeing my mother passed out from one of her many drunks and me screaming at the top of my lungs.  There were no words just what I would describe now as a guttural cry. At a ripe young age, I learned that no one could hear my cries and no one really cared. As I got older, I remember creating a silent scream, I would feel my mouth open, my heart race, and my tears roll down my face, but no sound came. My life experience had taught me to hold my pain inside.

To make matters complicated, I was seriously hearing impaired as a young child. If my memory is correct, I didn’t really hear until I was about 5 years old. I am not sure how I communicated or even if anyone understood me before that time. While I remember other sensations, I don’t remember real communication.

And even when I did start to hear, I knew without a doubt that I spoke funny, everyone struggled to understand me, and besides I could barely hear what people were saying anyways. Somehow along the way I was blessed to learn how to read lips. And over time, I learned how to “act” normal. I even learned how convince my schools that I understood what was going on in the classroom, but that was another one of my lies; I was simply acting.

Reading lips opened up the door to real communication. I am not sure when I figured out that I needed to see people’s lips in order to hear them, but wow did my life get a little easier. While I have never read lips fluently, what I do does help me connect with people.

Lock EyesAs I got older, I learned that I could really connect with people by looking at their lips, reading their expressions, and really locking deeply into their eyes.

Eyes speak volumes and when you look deeply into the eyes that you are facing, you remind yourself and the person in front of you how present you are. When you are locking deeply into the eyes of whoever you are facing you are actually saying “Hineini/I am here”! Our conversation is the most important conversation in the world.

While I don’t always lock eyes, it truly is one of the most holy ways to fully engage with another human being. After a childhood of believing I was invisible, being seen and heard and doing the same for others feels INCREDIBLE.

SARK, my spirit mentor and teacher ends many of her letters with:

You are seen, You are known, You are loved.

After years of being invisible, I believe that the only way that I can see people, know people, and love people is by listening to both their spoken and unspoken words.

To this day, I still have brief moments when I feel invisible, the only difference is that all I have to do is reach out to my beautiful tribe of beloveds that are there for me.

Make sure you take time to lock deeply into other’s eyes. I promise you that it will by one of the holiest connections you will experience.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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best photo ever!

Writing,
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul; 
Is what makes me WHOLE.

Without writing, I would be nothing. I probably wouldn’t even be alive. Writing is how I have been able to navigate the world, found my voice, and coped with life’s challenges. The only time I am truly whole is when I take time to write.

And yet writing also reminds me that while I am vibrant and alive, I also feel pain a little too deeply. If I am not writing, it probably means that I am struggling with a part of my soul and deeply afraid that the words I write will bring me towards the one-way journey to darkness. And yet again, writing is the only way I have ever been able to nurture my soul towards living.

The gift is the challenge.

Without question, I am so much more alive when I am writing. So what has kept me from over the past months? This is simple, initially I have been struggling with the inner demons that tell me that I am not good enough to bring my stories alive.  And who would want to read my writing anyway. This is something that I may always wrestle with even when I am choosing to silence that I am not worthy or I am not enough.

Fortunately, I did not let the demon voices control me for too long. Instead I decided to take about seven weeks off this summer so that I could focus on my writing. And I have been writing every day since I started. Some of it good, much of it not. I am only now getting into a healthy rhythm and finding my voice with each word.

Over the past several months, I have been pushing through my self doubt by writing my about what I endured as a child in a book that I am currently calling Thriving: No Option. . . In my book, I will share some of my childhood traumas, how I initially navigated them, and how I am thriving onward now. I am also hoping to include the stories of other thrivers who have emerged from traumas, found their footing and ultimately found their wings.

To my knowledge, very few, if any thrivers, start off knowing that they will find a way to soar from whatever traumas they have endured. How can anyone believe that all will be ok when they are in the messy middle of survival. Over time, though, they take one step and then another; they find a way to walk through the world that works for them. And if they are lucky they find a new and beautiful way to live. Some may call this growth, others may call it healing, and I tend to think of this time as a rebirthing.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will disengage more from idle chatter and I will take the time to focus on writing my memoir. I am also making a commitment to sharing a piece of my writing daily on my blog. Whether my book is self published or finds a publisher isn’t really the most important thing to me. What I want is to inspire people and to create a platform for sharing our stories. And ultimately, I’d love to create more healing retreats that can utilize the many tools (and more) that I have used as I have embraced in my own healing journey.

In the words of my beloved friend Rabbi David J. Cooper, I want to end with:
We bless the Source of Life, that we are alive, that we have survived and that we have arrived at this time. (Interpretation of the Shecheyanu blessing which is part of Jewish liturgy.)

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
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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