Posts Tagged ‘tie-dye’

I believe that every day is a gift, not to be taken for granted.

Eight years ago next month, my son Aryeh suffered his first debilitating headache. From that first headache until now, life was forever altered.  In the days, weeks, months, and years that followed, I learned that life as I knew it could end in a moment’s notice. The good news for us was that while life drastically evolved, my son thrived in ways that can described as a miracle.



At 13 years old, the doctors found 6.5 centimeter arachnoid cyst wrapped around my son Aryeh’s brain.  For over three years, Aryeh suffered from horrific pain, life and death struggles, and deep sadness; we all suffered from loss.  For anyone that has experienced the serious illness of a child or any loved one, you know how quickly life changes after a serious diagnosis.

For years, Aryeh couldn’t handle bright or flashing lights, loud or sudden noises, kinetic energy or any movement.  Our very active household was silenced both physically and metaphorically.  Dovi, Aryeh’s little brother, was the most impacted.  My once very kinetic child was forced to quiet his body and spirit.  And with the silence came the fears that mounted with each passing month. Would Aryeh survive the hell that was taking over our lives?  Would the two brain surgeries save his life? Would his pain ever end? So many questions, so few answers. . .

Every one that knew Aryeh watched in horror as his pain could not be managed. To help us through this journey, we learned to find the gifts – some spiritual and some tangible. One precious gift was both. A group of friends and staff members from Fairhaven School tie-dyed a queen set of sheets for Aryeh. The sheets arrived days before Aryeh and I were to leave Washington, DC to go to Los Angeles for Aryeh’s second brain surgery. Those sheets stayed with Aryeh from the moment they came into our house through the many years of Ayeh’s illness, and beyond.

As a mother, I can’t even begin to explain how impactful the gift was not only to Aryeh, but to his whole family too. Aryeh’s friends knew that he absolutely loved and still loves tie-dye. At 13 years old, Aryeh surrounded his bedroom walls with tie dye wall hangings and wore only tie dye shirts.  🙂 While this might have made his grandparents a little nuts, it put a huge smile on my face!!!  Tie-dye t-shirts are still one of Aryeh’s favorite pieces of clothing (and for that matter Dovi’s too).

The good news is that we were fortunate to have amazing friends who made and sold their wares at Milky Wave Tie-Dye; Aryeh was also lucky to have friends that knew him so well!

The sheets became a comforting treasure very quickly.  The fitted sheets and pillow cases were immediately put on Aryeh bed and pillows.  Aryeh only stopped using them recently when they became threadbare. And when we went to California for his surgery the flat sheet came with us.  In fact, while he was in an induced coma, his father and I wrapped him in the sheet and just made sure the sheet was always on him. On one such day, a nurse came in and told us that the sheet was in his way and we needed to move it. During that particular conversation, the nurse enlightened us by telling us that he didn’t need the sheet nor would he know if it was on him or not.  Needless to say, the sheet stayed, but the nurse was asked not to return.

Once we came home, Aryeh reunited with his pillow cases and fitted sheet; the flat sheet however was placed in a drawer under his bed for safekeeping.

A few years after Aryeh’s brain surgeries, I was learning a chant that lifted my spirit and moved my soul. As I prepared the chant for a service I was leading, Aryeh walked into my room and said, “I’d like the words of the first line to be on my tallit* (prayer shawl) one day.” The words were poignant and perfect for Aryeh.  The Hebrew/English chant written by Rabbi David Zeller (of blessed memory) was:

I am alive. (x4)
And who is this aliveness I am? (x3)
s it not the holy blessed ONE.

http://davidzeller.org/aliveness/ – You can hear a snippet of the song from the first track of the CD on the website.

Once Aryeh decided that he wanted the words ‘I am alive’ (in Hebrew) to be on his tallit, then it only seemed natural to use his tie-dye flat sheet. Unfortunately, it took Aryeh and me years to make it happen for him, but last week we did it!!! With the help of our good friend Laurie Dietz, we were able to have the words I am alive (in Hebrew) embroidered for the tie dye tallit. And then I tied the tzitzit, fringes, for his beloved ritual garmet.

Aryeh in his amazing new tallit.

Aryeh in his amazing new tallit.

Full Circle
While the creation of the tallit began with illness, the tie-dye ultimately became a symbol of living and thriving.  Aryeh is very much alive and loving his new tallit too!

*tallit – A shawl-like garment worn during morning services, with tzitzit (long fringes) attached to the corners as a reminder of the commandments. Sometimes called a prayer shawl.

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Many of my friends know I really do love tie-dye!!! In fact my entire family loves tie-dye!

What I have grown to appreciate is that our friends actually acknowledge our love of tie-dye in a variety of ways.  Over the years, we have received a few special presents that included tie-dyes of varying types.  When my son Aryeh was sick, his friends made him tie-dye sheets that actually covered him and surrounded him when he was recovering from brain surgery.  On other occasions, friends have found great tie-dye shirts and even a scarf at a thrift shop.  And then last week a good friend found an amazing t-shirt at a Grateful Dead Weekend.  And guess what, he mailed me the shirt this week! Why do you think he did this? Just because. . . . .


Over the last few years, I have thought a lot about how I can connect with people.  I am not the best in staying in touch, but I have been  intentionally trying to change my ways.  Still I know that when I am not staying in contact, it does not mean that I don’t love someone; it is because I have been honoring my need for quiet time in a world that is often too kinetic.  There is always something to do.

Yet, I have to say that I am profoundly touched  by those that somehow find the time to give in any way.  I love when friends and loved ones drop me a card, send me a small treasure, or give me a new rock/stone for my collection.  I never take the small and large acts of kindness for granted; I am in awe of each and every person that reaches out.

When my older son Aryeh was critically ill, people went out of their way to send cards, make us meals, or visit for just a few minutes.  People cared.  Once when Dovi, my younger son, was really sick, an acquaintance came over to give me a new Book of Psalms because she knew that I like to say/chant psalms as part of our healing journey.  To this day, tears come to my eyes nearly each and every time I use my book of Tehillim (Psalms); since I use it nearly every day, I am wondering if I should have saved those tears in a bucket. 🙂

Recently, a new friend took time to find chants that she thought would touch me and then she took time to create a few CDs for me to cherish.  Another new friend has been sharing some amazing musical compositions that he wrote, nearly every one of them takes my breath away.  They are beautiful!  People keep sharing, their music, their art/photographs, their words – Just because. . .

How awesome is that?!?!?!!!!!

With all this in mind, I have been sending ‘thinking of you’ cards to people for every occasion.  The funny thing is that I sent out a ton of cards over the last few months and I am not sure that all of them reached their destination.  Unless people acknowledge them, there is no way to know.  (BTW, I believe a large stack was lost by the mail service; but I can’t know for sure. LOL!) And you know what? I love that I am learning to give just because. . . 

Through watching the many people that have touched my life through giving in large and small ways, I am learning to be a little more thoughtful.  Sometimes I pick up the phone and call an old friend, just because it feels like it is time to do it.  I really do love forever; I care in profound ways.  Today I am trying to show those I love  and/or those that I care for how much I do by taking a moment to reach out.

To give and to receive is such a gift (physical and/or emotional). I love when people do something just because they can, just because they care, just because. . . .

One thing I don’t want to leave unsaid is the power of giving to a stranger.  When Aryeh was really sick, I was blown away by the strangers that reached out to help us over the years.  Why did they do this? Just because. . . . And now as I am in the midst of reaching out and asking for people to help us in our journey to move east by giving to our Go Fund Me account http://www.gofundme.com/g8o220, I have been completely humbled by the lovely souls that have given to the fund without having met me.  I have also been brought to ‘happy’ tears by those that know me. I really never expected that people were give.  I was praying and hoping they would, but not expecting. Wow.

Whether we send cards, give tie-dyes, make meals, or ________ (you fill in the blank), know that giving always makes a difference in the lives of those we touch.

May I remember to always give in a loving way,  just because. . . . .

With blessings & light,


PS – When I buy Tie Dye for my family, I only buy from Milky Wave Tie Dye in Opal, Virginia; it’s our family tradition.  We found this Tie Dye shack years ago; it was a gift in every way.  The moment my family walked into the store, we became a tie dye family and the family that owned Milky Wave Tie Dye became our family too.

PPS – Take a moment to like Milky Wave Tie Dye on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/milkywavetiedye?fref=ts

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Helen Gist-Tselikidis was a beloved friend of mine; my entire family loved her.  Finding out she died a little more than a week ago has touched me deeply.  In fact, I am finding her touching me deeply with each breath.  Some moments are easier than others and I am struggling with my desire to be with her family, to give them a hug and to receive their love in return would be amazing.

Below are the words that I shared with Laz, Jessie and Nico about the woman they loved deeply and what she meant to me.  We could all learn from Helen! Her memory is a blessing for good and I wish she could still be with us today.

Memories to share:

My Dearest Laz, Jess, and Nico,

Your family has always touched us; we met you over the course of a couple of years, but from the moment we met your dad that first time we were in the shop, we felt uplifted by each and every one of you.

Your mom was a very quick friend!  Her loving and incredibly transparent energy was a joy; she was real in every way.  I would call your mom sometimes, just to have time with someone who was truly herself at every moment.

There are so many stories I could share with you, below are just a few.

One of the funniest moments came when I invited Helen for our Passover Seder.  She was really excited to come and she seemed a little anxious too.  But she drove all the way out to Bowie, where we lived at the time, showing up 3 or 4 hours late.  I was so excited to have her regardless of what time she showed.  I was bummed that she missed most of the seder, but happy she made it for dessert.  🙂

The best moment of the evening came when one of my friends politely introduced himself by name.  In the midst of a house full of people, I heard her say loudly, “Honey, there is NO NEED for you to tell me your name, I just won’t remember it; I lost my memory as soon as I went through menopause.”

Another time, I brought a good friend of mine into your shop from Texas.  I am not certain if she had ever met a rabbi up close and personal, but she decided he needed to have a Budha so she gave him hers. 🙂

A third and final story:  We were touched to have you and your mother understand the power of tie-dye for our family.  As Aryeh, my son, struggled for his life and then later his recovery, you and your mom helped in tremendous ways.  The biggest gift you gave was when you made a beautiful tie dye from Aryeh’s color directions that said Life in Hebrew, the wall hanging gave him and still gives him the healing energy he seeks.

In fact, Aryeh brought a small Life (Chai) bandana with him to Israel where he is now so that he could share the story of his wall hanging with his new friends.  Since that time, we have also been giving  out tie dye bandanas to people in need of healing.  Funny, she said she would make more for us when we were last there….not sure if she did, but giving these bandanas with healing energy has given countless people something to hold and treasure as they struggle to heal.

Your mother’s capacity to love unconditionally as well as her incredible transparency has helped give my own voice the ability to be more honest.

I will always love Helen and I am grateful that both she and your dad brought our family to each of you.

May your mother’s memory be a blessing for good!

With love, light, and blessings, Chava

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“If I don’t have red, I use blue.”

~ Pablo Picasso

Being able to be a chameleon can be a gift; except when it doesn’t serve you well.  Finding the balance is the key to making life work.

Living honestly means actively engaging in the life you want while knowing that you can’t always get what you want so sometimes you have to make what is work for you.

Lately, I have been walking through life a little more honestly.  I’ve been allowing myself the space to be who I am more openly and sometimes more quietly.  With each step I take I realize most of us live with such strong dichotomies in our lives.  We work towards goals while sometimes settling for reality; or we stop working towards what we want because what we want feels impossible to get.

To be the most healthy individuals possible, we have to walk gently with the world around us while we work towards creating what we want for our families/friends, our communities, the world, or most importantly ourselves.  What we want is important; sometimes we settle for what is.  Settling can be the easier route to take.  My work has always been to create that which I want while adapting to what is.

I remember taking an art class as a junior high school student and finding myself frustrated with the options of supplies in front of me.  I wanted what wasn’t there and I believed I couldn’t create without whatever it is I thought I needed.  My teacher, Mr. Sherman taught me to trust myself and use what I had in front of me; he also taught me to ask for what I needed.   In the end, it was my job to move forward with what was by making the best creations with what I actually had.

Whoever Mr. Sherman is and wherever he is, I love the man.  He taught me what Picasso knew and what most young children know.  Finding balance means working towards what you want by working with what you have.

The bottom-line is that in order for me to be in a good space, I need to walk through life while actively engaging in what jazzes my soul even as I trust the universe to give what the universe has to give.

And sometimes it’s all about finding the right tie-dye.  How can anyone settle for just one color?

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