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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

I have a problem. I am an addict!!! I just can’t get enough of that white powdery substance. . . .SUGAR.

With this in mind I decided to begin a new health journey  and ask for support from my friends. I did this once before and it lasted for over six years ago; the great news is that I have kept 65 lbs. off, but now I need to go back to the choices I made back then.

The good news is that all of those healthy changes made a difference and now it is time for me to begin again.

Hineini, Here I am!!

Today I started prepping for my latest health journey. Instead of counting 45 days until my 45th birthday, I am counting 21 days of healthier eating, aka no sugar. My hope is that at the end of 21 days, I will start another health journey while remaining steadfast on refraining from sugar too.

Over and over again, I have heard that it takes 21 days to create new habits. So here is the first habit I will be working to change – NO SUGAR!

Making 21 Countdown chartIn preparation for today, I made a fun little check off chart. I did this for two reasons. One, I needed to create a ritual/visualization around checking off the days. Two, I wanted a prop to share my thinking about this journey.

As a sugar addict, I need to own that part of my personality and look for ways to make better choices.

AND here is the ask, please celebrate my successes and support me through my challenges. If this isn’t comfortable for you, simply ignore me. ūüôā

Transformation needs to happen. Being healthy is literally a non-negotiable.  So tonight at sundown, I will officially begin my 21 day countdown.  I will share my journey via Facebook and my blog.

Don’t hesitate to ask me how I am doing. Your mentioning it won’t sabotage the work; in fact, it will probably help me remember that I am not alone!

l’Chayim, to life,

Chava

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Feb 2015  Walking from behind

be softer with you.
you are a breathing thing.
a memory to someone.
a home to a life.

Nayyirah Waheed’s Precious Words

 

 

(Note РOver the coming weeks, I will be exploring the power of social media. The connections I have made and the growth I have experienced has helped me to grow exponentially more than I ever would have before social media touched my life. I want to shout out a special thank you to those that engage in this platform and inspire all of us to stretch and to evolve into even healthier human beings than we already are. I adore my tribe, all of my tribes. )

Transformation. . . I am a work in progress.

Creating a healthy body image has been and continues to be a very real struggle for me. I could probably find someone to blame for my fairly horrific body image¬†– my mother, my childhood neighbors/classmates, or maybe even the media. And yet, that wouldn’t be fair.

Whatever happened in the past or how I have seen women portrayed in the media is irrelevant; I am responsible for who I am today and what I do with my memories and perceptions of the past. It is truly a blessing to be able slowly transform my self image and fall in love with woman I am.

While I still pause when it is time to look at myself in the mirror, I have mostly stopped the negative self talk. I am relieved to know that I no longer feel trapped in these words that I recently found in an old journal:

“If given a choice, I’d much rather not look at myself in the mirror or get on the scale. I’d rather not see a photograph of me or see my reflection over the water. I hate the way that I look. Sigh.”

Over the last several years, I have done the¬†holy work of transforming how I see myself. Five years ago, I shared my health journey via blogging and social media; that was huge for me, I shared information about my¬†diet/lifestyle changes¬†and subsequent weight loss – 65 lbs. Later, I consciously looked¬†at myself in the mirror and actively re-framed how I saw myself. I stopped calling myself fat and started seeing beauty in the person I was. Quietly, I began seeing¬†myself as an Amazon Woman¬†–¬†strong, vibrant, healthy, and physically beautiful. I grew to really love me! And selfies, I learned not only how to take selfies, but to revel in how good I sometimes looked in those photos. I started having fun seeing myself in a photo.

In the midst of my transformation, one of the world’s most radiant¬†souls entered my world. ¬†It was truly an accidental meeting. While living in Tucson, I decided that I had to find a source for purchasing fair trade clothing. Via the internet¬†I found a little photography/dance studio that sold the clothing. The only problem was that the studio was in the midst of transitioning the clothing to another location. I was so bummed because I couldn’t figure out where to find the new store. Jump ahead a week or two, I found Fed by Threads (fedbythreads.com) and then I tripped over the stunning¬†work of Jade Beall, a co-owner to this awesome¬†business. (Note: While Jade’s work as a photographer has helped me see all women, including me, as beautiful. Fed by Threads is a business that values everyone; experiencing the warmth and care of the other co-owner¬†Alok¬†Appadurai has also been transformative.)

Jade was a photographer who captured so many precious women for her book, The Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project. Each and every photo had women that were seen as beautiful for the who they were; no photo was altered in any way. The photos showed women in all their glory; stretch marks and post birth bodies alike were celebrated, as they should be.

After finding Jade’s website,¬†http://www.jadebeall.com/, I felt like I met an angel. Not only were her photos full of love for all people, so were her words. From there I started following this incredible soul via Facebook; I couldn’t and still¬†can’t get enough of her energy. She values people deeply; she treasures all life forces.¬†And through viewing how Jade struggles and ultimately embraces her¬†¬†own journey, I have learned to better embrace my essence¬†and the journey that is part of my being; I have learned to see myself as beautiful.

One of my deepest disappointments about leaving Tucson was leaving Jade Beall without having her photograph me. And I am hoping that the day comes when I can have that opportunity. This amazing photographer has helped heal so many of my open wounds. How awesome to know that I am not alone; there is a stunning tribe of women who have emerged from her love and guidance, her insight and wisdom. It is, in large part, through her work and the love of her Facebook community that I have evolved to where I am today.

I still have a lot of work to do. Transformation is a continuous process.

A car accident this past December triggered a downward spiral that lasted too long. Suddenly I had to face my old demons as my body image plummeted. I stopped taking good care of my body and gained some previously lost weight. Fortunately, over the last several weeks I am again re-framing how I see myself and starting to take control of my health journey. As long as I actively take care of me, I am better able to boost my confidence while becoming more grounded.

The journey is not only about making better life choices, it is also about taking time for my soul through writing, chanting, drumming, and just allowing creativity to flow through me. I am so excited to be emerging from my darkness!!! I am returning to healthier choices and nurturing the woman I am. And I am also reaching out to new and old friends; I am asking for what I need and feeling supported in return.

An important part of my returning to a better place was not about all the changes I was making. Before I could evolve, I had to find my own beauty that what not wrapped up in what the scale told me. I had to love the person – inside and out.

Being transparent is the gift I will continue to give myself; it is ultimately how I will thrive and become a healthier me.¬†I don’t want to hide, I want to open my arms wide and embrace the world as I am while always trying to be the best me possible.

Onward!!!!
Now & Always

 

 

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  • Hebrew text reads - Kol haolam kulo gesher tzar meod vehaikar lo lfached klal

 

Kol ha-o-lam ku-lo gesher tzar me’od
V’ha-i-kar lo l’fached klal

The whole world is a very narrow bridge;
the important thing is not to be afraid.
~R
abbi Nachman of Bratslav

It is never too late
To start over again,
To feel again
To love again
To hope again…

(Adapted from Rabbi Harold Schulweis’ “It is Never Too Late”)

Near Eric's house

 Life has always been full for me.

Mostly I find the sparks of light and keep pushing forward. ¬†Mostly. ¬†And there are days that I simply live in the metaphors. ¬†I ‘climb every mountain’, ‘shovel shit’ and of ¬†course ‘cross that bridge when I come to it’.

The key is that I always keep moving. Sometimes I ‘tread water’; sometimes I ‘pedal backwards’, but I always navigate in hopes of landing in a¬†better place. ¬†And while I may have to cope with¬†some fear, I remember that moving forward is not optional. ¬†As long as I am striving to live authentically and working towards reaching my dreams, I¬†will have what it takes to cross over ‘the bridge’.

Even now as I seek solid ground as I look¬†for a professional position that can be positively impactful in every way AND as I try to grow as a mother, a writer and a human being. ¬†I have come so far and have so far to go. Don’t we all?

One of the first songs/verses that helped me navigate the many bridges of my life was Reb Nachman’s,¬†The World is a Narrow Bridge’. ¬†This song has joined me in every step of my life since I can remember. ¬†I remember singing these words¬†to myself for hours during my very dark childhood, when living in Israel and facing the War in Lebanon and with the painfully health challenges that plagued my children’s lives.

With each and every personal, community, and world crisis – this melodic tune would soothes me and coaxes me into action and into believing that while the world is a narrow bridge’, we can’t get stuck. ¬†We have to trust that we can keep moving forward. As long as we realize that there is no room for allowing fear to get in the way of healing, life has the possibility of moving to a better place.

Even with loss comes memories.
Even with failure comes knowledge.

Life is a journey¬†full of¬†so many bridges that each of us will need to cross during¬†our life times. ¬†So many of them will feel daunting; some will feel freeing; all will lead us to transformation. May we have the strength to keep perspective with each and every step as we cross ‘our bridge’.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS-I have fallen in love with Elton John’s, ‘The Bridge’. ¬†It is another reminder of how bridges ultimate add to the fabric of my life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5EOnArzU5Q

‚ÄúThe Bridge‚ÄĚ
Music: Elton John
Lyrics: Bernie Taupin

I’ve seen the bridge and the bridge is long
And they built it high and they built it strong
Strong enough to hold the weight of time
Long enough to leave some of us behind

[chorus:]
And every one of us has to face that day
Do you cross the bridge or do you fade away
And every one of us that ever came to play
Has to cross the bridge or fade away

Standing on the bridge looking at the waves
Seen so many jump, never seen one saved
On a distant beach your song can die
On a bitter wind, on a cruel tide

[repeat chorus]

And the bridge it shines
Oh cold hard iron
Saying come and risk it all
Or die trying

[repeat chorus]

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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 ‚Äď 5775 ¬†http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is  9 Elul or 21 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!

~ ~ ~


“Writing is a form of prayer.”
Franz Kafka

~~~

With every ounce of my being, I am most centered when I am writing.  Writing is the tool that keeps me grounded in life and allows me the room to be truly present in my body.

As I move through Elul and towards 5775, I know that I must nurture the writer within me.  I need to turn off my inner-filter and trust the flow of my words.

When I was 14 years old, I experienced one of the most devastating moments of my life; my mother tried to stab me with a butcher knife.  To this day, I am not certain how I was able to keep myself safe or how I was able to move forward, but I did both.  While that night was full of darkness, it was that night that I wrote the poem that continues to transform me into the person I am today.

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

These words have helped me navigate the world and to find ‘peace within the storms’ of life. ¬†Only through writing can I soar as a human being and reach for the best that is in me;¬†writing truly makes my heart sing and jazzes my soul.

What jazzes your soul? What makes you feel the most whole within your body?  May this be the year that allows you the space to nurture that which you love.

With blessings & light,
Chava

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Middah (character trait) focus: Loving what is

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.

“The more clearly you understand yourself and your emotions, the more you become a lover of what is.” ~Baruch Spinoza

In this final week of the counting of the Omer, I feel like it is a good think about considering where I fit into the entire universe with all of it’s gifts and challenges. ¬†In traditional circles, this¬†is considered the week of malkhut/kingdom. ¬†With that in mind, I want to openly consider what it could mean to really rebirth or navigate our towards freedom.

Life is hard, really hard at times.  Sometimes it is difficult to tread the challenges.  Yet once we fully connect with what is real, even what needs to be transformed within ourselves, we can love what is because it is all part of the journey.

I always seek to find the light that surrounds me. ¬†This past week, I found out that I wasn’t a candidate for a position even though I had spend over four hours on the phone with folks. ¬†What is lovely is that the calls were full of positive interactions and I was able to articulate many of my ideas and hear other ideas in healthy exchange; the interview process including the rejection letter were really quite lovely. And after reflection, I believe I could have had a good¬†experience, but it was probably not the best environment for someone who often thinks outside of the box. ¬†I need a position, but that one lacked what I needed in a career position.

Finding the gifts within all aspects of life, good and challenging, is the only way I know how to walk through the world. Loving what is offers me a chance to embrace the moment even the ones that need to ultimately be transformed.

 

Finding light within darkness.

Finding light within darkness. . . .

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: Loving My Teens & All My Students For Who They Are

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.

Over the years I have been transformed by the young people that have touched my life; each and every one of them added depth to my life.  Somehow they trusted me and as their trust grew so did my ability to connect with them.  What I love about all of the children and teens that I have known over the years is that as long as I was willing to listen, I could build relationships with them.  I am so humbled by the different connections I have experienced.

Back in 2002, when I started working at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, I had no idea how to work with preteen girls. ¬†But I didn’t actually realize that I didn’t have the skills, I faked it and somehow with each success I grew. ¬†I loved the girls that were to become my Rosh Hodesh Girls (a group that met during the first days of the new moon each month); my life was better because of the work I did with them for several years. ¬†The work transformed me and made me more aware of what it means to be a teacher, a mentor, woman, and a friend. ¬†I wish I could thank each and every one of the young women today, but I have lost contact over the years. ¬†Sigh.

Why am I reflecting back to my Rosh Hodesh Girls now?

Loved my time with Lucy Heller, Karen Judin, Rachel Rheingold - shown with Chava Gal-Or (from left to right)

Loved my time with Lucy Heller, Karen Judin, and Rachel Rheingold – shown with Chava Gal-Or (from left to right)

Today, three amazing young women took me to lunch.  Two years ago, I met them when I began working at Temple Emanu-El in Tucson.  Two of them taught Israeli dance and one was a madricha, (a teaching assistant); all three of them were giving and wise with their students and their friends too.  Within a very short time of meeting these three teens, I grew to like them very much; they became people that I now consider to be friends.  While I have always treasured the relationships I have built with my students, it was my relationship with the now college students from Adat Shalom that opened me up to really building meaningful relationships with those that were once simply my students.

One of the things I treasured most about my time with the Temple Emanu-El teens today was when they told me how I impacted them.  What I know now is that I touched their lives because I respected them as individuals and as teens; I listened to them and appreciated whatever they brought to the table; I trusted them to be leaders.  The bottom-line is that I do not believe in coercive leadership; I believe in building partnerships.

So often I work with rabbis, teachers, and parents that feel the need to tell our teens and all of our children not only how to walk in the world. but how to use their minds. ¬†I don’t feel this way. ¬†I want to open a door or a window. ¬†I want to share the tools I treasure and the knowledge that has guided me throughout life; I want to give those I work with the room to play and to experience Judaism in a way that is comfortable for them. ¬†My goal is always to hear both what those I work with¬†are saying and what they are not yet saying; I want all the children, teens, and adults that I work to be comfortable with me and the gifts I have to offer. ¬†My door is open.

Today I realized that all three teens were not just my co-workers, but my friends.  May they always remember that my door will be open to them.  I have grown to love them not simply as I love all my students and families; I love them as the beautiful souls that they are; I love them as my friends.

I will always be grateful to the Adat Shalom girls and the families that trusted me so many years ago.  Without them, I would not be the person I am.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Sending light and healing energy

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.

Over the years, I learned so much from watching how those I respect, walk in the world. Some of my most valued lessons come from my teacher Debbie Friedman, of Blessed Memory. From Debbie, I learned the power of prayer and song in the healing of body, mind, and soul. I will never forget how powerful it was to hear her sing Mi Shebeirach (for healing) and Light These Lights. Each time she sang the words to her songs/prayers, I felt her students and her audience transform.  Debbie always sang her healing prayer first and then the audience joined her; each and every time she sang of healing, the energy was palpable.  Every person in those auditoriums believed that their prayers could impact what was happening and it did; the healing energy went exactly to where it was supposed to go.  In fact, Debbie transformed many prayers over the years as she brought meaning using her interpretations and melodies as a tool for making prayers meaningful.  The power of her prayers can be felt each time I go to a healing service or sit in services as an entire community sings Mi Sheberirach for those that are sick both physically and spiritually.  While hearing an Debbie Friedman sing her songs was breathtakingly beautiful, hearing her songs carried on by others is also touching and beautiful.

Take a moment and listen to my friend Dr. Scott Mandel’s students as they sing Light These Lights. ¬†As director of Pacoima’s group, he was able to inspire his choir to reach inside themselves and create what I believe Debbie herself would find inspiring.

Pacoima Singers–12, 13 & 14 year olds from the Pacoima Middle School Television, Theatre & Performing Arts Magnet in Los Angeles. Web site: pacoimasingers.com

After I light the Shabbat candles each and every Friday night,, my own family sings Light These Lights.¬†Before singing it,¬†I ask each person to visualize those in their lives that are in need of healing; we sing this short song many times until we have completed sending out healing to those in need, those that we know and those that we don’t yet know.

Debbie believed in the power of healing circles and the power of song to heal not only those we love as well as those that love those who are ill; she also inspired all of us to reach inside ourselves for the bigger world too. ¬†When my son was critically sick, people prayed for Aryeh. ¬†People chanted, sang, and prayed traditional prayers as well as healing chants/songs; each prayer made a difference. ¬†Whether or not the songs and prayers saved Aryeh, I might never know, but what I can tell you is that I think it didl¬†Aryeh’s body, mind, and soul healed over time. The work was hard and seemingly impossible at times, but nonetheless healing for all of us happened.

There are so many folk singers and spiritual artists that are sending out their healing energy into the world.  May we all join in and create our own healing energy to send out to the world.  May we all do our part to make a difference.

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