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Posts Tagged ‘tools’

Oncoming storm - Chesapeake - Paul Zeitz

Incoming storm on the Chesapeake Bay.    Photo Courtesy of Paul Zeitz.

My Inner Demons have been busy over the last few days. They have been telling me all sorts of harsh things:

  • You don’t do enough for humanity.
  • You need to push harder.
  • You really do feel too deeply.
  • Why can’t you let go of _________.
  • Why aren’t you able to save more money?
  • And so much more. . . .

My journey (always) is to quiet those Inner Demons. Because these demons are a storm raging inside of me that can only become destructive if they get out of control.

Fortunately, they aren’t telling me what they often tell me like:

  • You are limited.
  • You’re so f*cking fat.
  • You are nothing without good hearing.
  • What do you have to give to the world?
  • Why can’t you be more articulate?
  • After all of the writing that you have done, your grammar sucks.

UGH!!

Here is the good news here, I know that these Inner Demons aren’t really helping me nor are they being truthful; they are simply distracting me from being my best me.

These are the voices of my childhood. This is what my mother said every day. Some of this is what the neighborhood boys told me as they bullied me. This is what I heard when I closed my eyes at night.

Silencing those voices has been my life work. As an adult, I have been blessed, but the damage of childhood hell runs deep. I have to keep reminding myself that I am awesome just as I am, but I at times the struggle is real.

On a bad day, my Inner Demons hang close. The most frequent time they visit is when I am having a bad day at work because I have made a mistake or I have a challenging moment with a co-worker or a member of my congregation. Every time a friend decides they no longer want me in their life, the demons visit. Each time a relationship ends with a man that I believed would be part of my life forever, I know that I will spend the rest of my days alone. Who would want a person like me? The biggest challenge comes from tough moments with loved ones. The good news is that I can usually remember that moments happen, but sometimes I forget.  Sigh.

Fortunately,  the Inner Demons only visit me initially when I am feeling challenged, really hurt, or super sad. With some real soul work, I have been able to find amazing tools to help me navigate. Sometimes it is as simple as taking a deep breath and then another. Eventually after enough deep breaths, the demons silence themselves and I accept life’s challenges with a little more ease. I also chant, dance, walk, drum, paint, get quiet, or do whatever I need to do in order to change my childhood and earlier adulthood patterns.  Altering patterns is my work, I am ok with that.

I am a work in progress (WIP).

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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BreatheThere are days and weeks when I know that I don’t belong – anywhere. The loneliness seeps in and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am alone. The sadness settles deep inside my core until I can take a deep breath and navigate the jagged edges of my soul.

I know that I am not alone when I say that certain seasons are a trigger. The good news is that after decades of being reintroduced to the darkness every year, I have learned to ride the waves and trust that these feelings will not last forever.

I have learned to breathe deeply.

This week has been really tough in some ways, but profoundly enlightening in other ways. I have allowed myself to ride the waves of emotions and to take the time to face whatever I am feeling at any given moment.

And yes, I am alone, but that is ok.  I don’t believe most people want to hear about what the winter holidays were like for me growing up. And I don’t think anyone wants to hear what I was doing 28 years ago this week. The stories are part of what was, but not really who I am today. And yet. . .

The memory is a funny thing. Even when you think all is ok, you find out that it isn’t when the watershed opens at the least expected moment.

Earlier this week I had the honor of joining an Episcopal church for Christmas Eve services. From beginning to end, it was a really beautiful service. Except there was this moment that triggered a flood of emotions. The only problem is that I stood paralyzed by my inability to cry, to run, or to scream. As I listened to Hymn 97, I remembered 37 years prior when I was forced to solo sing the chorus of that very hymn in front of a congregation in a Methodist church.

At the time, I was a young Jewish girl living in a foster home somewhere in Arbutus, Maryland. The family made me go to church every Sunday; I don’t know if I realized that I could say ‘no’ or that I could simply refuse to go. I didn’t have the tools and no one would have heard me if I did.

While the memory flooded my spirit on Sunday night, I also had this incredible moment that that hymn was transformed into something beautiful instead of the memory of a young girl who was alone at one of the hardest times of her life.

No child should be forced to practice a faith that isn’t their own. No child should lose their voice to a system that is broken, but the good news is that the story didn’t end there. On Sunday night, I was able to get lost in the memory only to be ignited by the beautiful passion that that same hymn was able to transform a beautiful community into a holy one. In a spiritual moment, I was able to transform a dark memory and create new memories.

So while I sometimes feel alone, what I know today is some beautiful things can evolve from a moment alone. May I be blessed to remember that while I may have moments when I feel alone, I have a village to hold me tight and love me for the person I am.

Breathing deeply – now and always,

Chava

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Sometimes life can feel brutal with all the relentless curve balls.

My life has been a little too full of darkness; it is a reality.  Yet, I have always chosen to find a way to find sparks of light as I have dealt with the trials and tribulations (even the earth-shattering ones).  The bottom-line is that I have never let the darkness or hard times shut me down for long, instead I use many different tools that have helped me to navigate since childhood – here are a few:

  1. Smile – Smiling helps me feel more centered and it calms my spirit too.  Smiles also make those around you feel more at ease which ultimately helps you.  While a smile can’t erase the challenges/pain you may be feeling, it can ease some of the sting.
  2. Notice the angels that come your way – When you least expect it people show up in your lives to offer a moment of comfort.  Sitting in ICU is always rough; losing relationships makes us sad; and moving cross country only to become unemployed isn’t ok.  Find the sparks of light in each painful moment.  I will never forget the friends that made sure we had food even though one of Aryeh’s hospitals was over 1.5 or more hours from where our friends lived.  Or the friend that shared with me a song he wrote to help heal my breaking heart.  And of course, as I am facing unemployment now, my friends are rallying to help me land on my feet.  There are always angels that show up to help you navigate even if they are only there for a moment in time.
  3. Inch by inch – When the to do list overwhelms you, just do one little thing at a time. Try not to get lost in looking at the big picture and all that you have to do to move forward.  Always remember to keep moving forward.
  4. Allow yourself the space to mourn or to feel sadness – Just because I move through life with a smile on my face, doesn’t mean I don’t take time to cry or to scream. . . I just try to give myself the space to do what I need to do.  And then as much as possible, I allow myself to find small sparks of light that will ultimately help me through the darkness.
  5. Quiet time is a good thing, but don’t shut the world out for too long – Most of us need to be surrounded by silence at some point in time, but remember that ‘it really does take a village’ to navigate life.   Let the right people impact your world for good when you are ready to come out of your cave.
  6. Don’t allow those around you to bring you down unintentionally – When Aryeh, my son, was critically ill for a few years, I had two amazing friends that tried to connect with me every day, the only problem was that the connection was not always good for me.  They wanted to know the play by play happenings, but they didn’t come to see us; they supported us with their love and even financial support, but it didn’t help me to share what was going on each and every day.  I also grew weary of hearing about life outside our world.  I just didn’t know if our lives would ever be happy and healthy again.  So at some point, I let go of the daily connections again until they worked for me.  And the good news is that not only did Aryeh heal, but our friendships survived too.
  7. Say what you need to say – Ask for what you need and set the parameters of how human interactions work.  When we are in crisis, we have the fundamental right to set the environment that works for us.  Hopefully our loved ones can honor that.
  8. Take time to write/journal – Writing is the way I come to understand what is truly on my mind and in my heart; writing helps me process the world around me.
  9. Sleep – You can’t take care of yourself if you don’t find the time to sleep.  If you need help, ask; there are medical and natural remedies that can make a difference.
  10. Believe that all will work out in some way – In the midst of a crisis, we don’t always think that things will get easier or work out.  And sometimes they don’t work out as we want them too, but in time new norms evolve and healing begins.  While we don’t always heal from the pain, we do often find new ways to thrive.

These tools allow me to walk through the world as I do, my hope is that one of these ideas impacts your life for good.  Let me know what helps you maneuver life’s challenges?

Remember, if you look real hard, you might be able to find the light in nearly every dark moment.

December 24

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“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” 

Thomas Merton

Lessons come when you least expect.

Over the past couple of months I have experienced one of the lowest periods of time in my life.  Functioning was a challenge and breathing deeply was something I couldn’t do.  Fortunately, I started to emerge from the darkness shortly before Passover.  I began to realize that I could thrive again and that regardless of what I was facing, I would be OK.

Ironically today was one of the first days I woke up with a smile on my face again.  Over the past couple of weeks, I had started chanting again and finding the light inside of me as I believed in the light of the universe around me.  I am absolutely a work in progress. 🙂  In fact, I had been chanting “Shining” http://www.rabbishefagold.com/Shining.html for a good 30 minutes while I was driving until I got on the back roads of my son’s school and then I had gone into the silence in anticipation of the wonderful chattering that happens when I first see my son after school.

Chanting ‘Shining’ helped me remember that there is a light in me and that there is also a light that surrounds upon me too.  My teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold, interprets this verse as follows:

  Arise and shine for your light has come, and the Glory of God is shining upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1)

But the silence didn’t last long, as soon as I hit the country road, I felt intense fear like I have never before faced.  Approximately, ten minutes from my son’s school a car started following me.  The pick up truck swerved all over the road, slowed down, sped up and then would stop suddenly near my bumper.  I was being threatened in a way I have never experienced.  I am quietly laughing at the last sentence because I have faced extreme violence in my life, but this was different.

As the car was following me, I found myself terrified, but also doing some incredible spiritual work.  I was breathing in light and sending it out into the world and I was chanting.  The chant that came to me was ‘Sowing Our Tears’.  Those who sow in tears will reap in joyous song. (Psalm 126:5) The words and the breathing filled me as I managed to keep moving.  At some point, I was able to call 911, but the call was dropped because of the lack of a signal on my cell phone.  The bottom-line is that I emerged from experience.

Since coming home, I have found myself in a quiet space filled with gratitude; I have also been shaking inside and trying to breathe in the light.

I am so grateful to the universe that nothing happened to me; I am also relieved that my day began with a smile and that I am actively emerging from darkness.

Breathing deeply and chanting helped surround me with light; I truly do not know what would have happened if I didn’t have these tools and the beautiful practice of chanting.

May we all be blessed to find the light within ourselves and the chant that speaks for us when we need it.

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