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(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

Tears can be cleansing and necessary and yet all week long I have been stopping myself from letting them flow.

This week I heard the beautiful rabbi I work with telling a child who was acting a little shy, “It’s ok honey, you just do you.” Something about the timing and my raw spirit at that second resonated. I wanted to “do me” too. I was so tired of showing up and being present when all I wanted to do was hide a rock. I was also tired of feeling the need to couch my thoughts and opinions so not to be offensive. And yet, there is so much value in the last comment too. I guess the key is to find balance.

While I love so much of my life, I have grown a little weary in the last period of time. I have been intensely sad as I have seen some of my beloveds facing some earth shattering pain and devastated with my inability to make a difference. I have had to show up at places simply because it was the right thing to do or perhaps just my job. And throughout it all, I have seen myself become a little unglued at moments.

With the politics of our country what they are and so many people hurting, I have needed to cry, but instead of decompressing I just found myself moving forward and doing the next best thing.

And then there is the reality of changing relationships that has at moments left me bereft with the realization that I am simply not enough nor can I give enough. Each realization has left treading water and wishing I could be more grounded or maybe just hide under the rock until I feel like I am.

Have you ever noticed how our expectations are often different from what reality looks like? Perhaps that is the gift from the universe; perhaps it is a curse from the universe. Life is simply a game that I get to re-frame each and every minute if I am going to find what my teacher SARK likes to call the “marvelous messy middle”.  This is what enables me  time to find the sparks of light that are often just below the surface or to re-frame deep sadness into learning opportunities. When I am really observant, I find the angels that emerge from the darkness to spin a cocoon around my heart.

This week challenged me to the core.

Every second of my week felt overwhelmingly full. The blessing is that even when I wanted to get lost in my pain, I found the inner strength to show up for those I love. When I wanted to curl up into a ball and shout about the unfairness of it all, my friends surrounded me and reminded me of how loved I am. And one treasured moment came as I watched a loved one start to heal from the inside out after having experienced horrific pain. Things are rarely all bad or all good. Maybe I should celebrate that I actually had a few balanced moments.

Yet seesawing seemed to be a never-ending story.

The unfolding of the news around Brett Kavanaugh’s potential nomination to the Supreme Court was and still continues to devastate our country and show the ugliness of our divided country.

Doing me meant that hiding under a rock was not an option.  Instead I did political activism. by showing up at a panel discussion last Friday night and then going to McAllen, Texas last Saturday so that I could bear witness and stand in solidarity with the children being detained away from their parents. The good news is that I was surrounded with so many others who wanted to make a difference.  The sad news is that those children are still locked in detentions centers and tent cities too.

Unfortunately the 11+ hour trek triggered my own memories of childhood loneliness and sadness, of foster care and violence. And yet, there is no questioned of how blessed I am as someone who has always thrived in spite of my experiences. I pray the same will  be possible for the thousands of children who are suffering so much more deeply than I can imagine.

And then on Monday afternoon and early evening, I continued to push myself by  canvasing for the Democratic Party and doing my part to register voters. I was doing what I had to do. Our world needed me to push myself even if I felt like I couldn’t. So I did just that!

And then as I was finally decompressing Tuesday night, I received the unexpected call that none of us want to hear. My friend called me to tell me that his beautiful wife had just died. Immediately, I asked if he wanted me to come over and when he said yes, I rushed to be by his side. When I arrived a short time later, I was able I see Ellen who had just a few short hours again been alive and doing her best to survive some very serious illnesses.  As soon as I saw her, I asked her husband if I could sing the Shema to my beloved friend. He said yes which allowed me to sing what I consider to be the holiest prayer of the Jewish tradition to my Episcopal friend reminding her spirit and my soul of our shared love for God. As soon as I finished, the funeral home arrived to take Ellen out of her home for the very last time. Even with the deep sadness, I could also feel holiness reverberating.

While I knew that my new friend was really sick, I had hopes of being part of her life for more time. In the short time that I had known her, Ellen had quickly become both dear to me and my writing mentor – only she didn’t know it yet; she inspired me and reminded me to live – only she died too fast.  I had originally planned to visit her on Monday afternoon, but I was so tired after my very long weekend of activism followed by an incredibly long workday on Sunday which included wrapping up of the cycle of Jewish holidays.

Sadly, I lost another a last chance to be with Ellen who I had only met after Hurricane Harvey devastated her beautiful church which was now housed at our Temple. Even now it is wild to think that I would have not met some of my closest friends if Hurricane Harvey had never come a year earlier.

As the sun began to set yesterday, the many triggers of the week finally opened up the floodgates making it impossible to hold back my tears any longer. I cried for the world, the children in detention, the families separated because of our cruel government, my sadness over evolving relationships and devastated friends. I cried for Ellen and for the love that is bubbling up in my heart, but has no where to go. I even cried for my sweet puppy that is not training with ease. The tears came at a breakneck speed and now even in my exhaustion, I am feeling so much better. I simply needed to cry.

After my spiritually exhausting week, the rawness took  over and opened the door so that I could “do me”.  Hineini, Here I am.

Day 55 - Tears Can Cleanse your heart and spirit

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – Will probably be editing this piece one more time.

 

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Sometimes life hurts. There is no way around this reality. The question is not whether or not we will hurt, the question is how will we walk through the storms?

Turning my wounded heart towards living out loud has been my soul work.  Except for the times that my loved ones needed me to focus, I have always shown up in any way I can. I simply open my arms and do what needs to be done. There are a myriad of tasks that need my love and attention. Our country, my neighbors, my friends, my family, and our world.

In the last month alone I have:

  • taken care of a sick friend recovering from a double mastectomy.
  • called our politicians.
  • visited with friends who needed a pick-me-up.
  • picked up trash.
  • given mezuzot, ritual objects, to those who lost their homes to disasters.
  • mailed chai (life) clothes to people who were suffering.
  • wrote politicians as well as blogs and Facebook posts to make people think about things differently.
  • helped rebuilt a house destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.
  • donated money to several causes.
  • watched two different friends puppies so that they wouldn’t have to board them.
  • helped a friend who professionally needed the guidance.
  • rallied/resisted against Trump’s policies that allowed for children to be torn from their parents’ arms.
  • tried to help a young woman reunite with her son and find a stable home.

Did I miss the mark in different areas? I’m sure. But the point is that I have chosen to live differently as an adult than what I experienced and saw in my youth.

For me, my life challenges seemed to have been ingrained on a cellular level. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the moment of my conception was what started the train wreck that has often overshadowed me and in truth it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that on most days I have navigated life’s journey and embraced the hand that showed up. While I am not sure that I had a choice, from a young age I seem to have decided to wake up each day and take one step and then another.

Although there are moments when I wish that things could have been different, they weren’t.  For the most part, I have reached this time in my life and found a way to absorb the blessings reverberating from my soul.

Living out loudI am alive. I am thriving. And I have emerged to be the woman I am today.

Thriving or simply surviving has not always been a given. At each and every stage of my life, I faced some harsh realities. If it weren’t for my inner strength, I may have found myself devastated or worse destroyed.

I’ve been battered both physically and spiritually; I have seen violence and watched my children navigate ICU on multiple occasions and even sat by their bedsides expecting that no tomorrows would ever come. And yet they did come.

My heart has been shattered and sometimes trampled beyond recognition. And yet somehow I have found my breath. I have learned to inhale the light and exhale the pain and darkness. And nearly every time I needed, an angel showed up to make a difference in both small and large ways.

Much of my life, I have felt like I was rock climbing up extremely treacherous terrain. The only problem with that is that I was born with two left feet; I am a total klutz in every way.  The fabulous news is that even as I have struggled to find a healthy place to stand, I’ve have always found the solid ground I was seeking.

With my past as a guiding force, I find meeting new people challenging. My life is full of skeletons that are harsh for any person to absorb. Yet each and every story has opened doors for me and made me the woman I am. Instead of wearing a mask, I want to touch people as I transcend the darkness with my resiliency. And I want to take what I have learned from all the pain that has hammered my life and bring light into the world; in as many was as possible, I want to make our world a better place.

Today, I allow myself to ‘live out loud’. I share my thoughts, my pain, my politics, my soul.  I share my writing, my art, and my spirit without apology. Today I climb mountains and accept the fact that I may fall. I know that I am surrounded by my sons and other loved ones. I am not alone.

My inner wise soul has turned life’s monsoons into the vibrant beauty that often follows a storm. Instead of hiding behind the shadows, I have actively chosen to ‘live out loud’ in every aspect of my life by loving deeply and engaging in the world is what drives my spirit.

Hineini, here I am!

 

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(Note: Reflecting about life and how to best move forward is what I do. One of my favorite teachers/writers, SARK, often talks about living in the “marvelous messy middle”. I think we all do that, but only some of us open the windows or doors for others to peek in. Hineini, here I am in all my rawness and passion. Hang on for the ride. If your interested, here is where this series begins.   https://lightwavejourney.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/time-to-heal-building-a-stronger-foundation/)

No one wants to be misunderstood or told that they are limited. I am no different. Most of my life I have felt the need to defend my thoughts and my feelings. But something is evolving at this point in time. I am learning – slowly – to say what I think without having to pound it metaphorically into anyone’s head. I do like to be heard, but I am becoming ok when people don’t see things my way.

Day 20

The last year has challenged me on a daily and sometimes on an hourly basis. My views on the political climate in the United States and Israel are not always on par with what others think or believe. With Trump and Netanyahu in the leadership of the two countries I profess to love, I struggle with the venom that they bring out in me. The good news is that I am blessed to have a fabulous village of people that share my beliefs. Unfortunately though, not everyone is as enlightened as we are.  :/

This has caused me some grief. Only in the last week or two have I begun to see a shift in my attitudes. I am learning to share my opinions without feeling explosive when I learn that I am not preaching to the choir. In return, I am learning to hear the views of others and usually find an ounce of wisdom if not more.

My intensity is impenetrable at times. With passion overflowing, it is hard for me to cope with how I feel. This must mean that others have found me impossible at times.

In my need for calmness, I am seeking balance in all areas of my life. I am also accepting that while I may believe that I am ‘right’, I need to take time to hear those I respect.  When people share their proofs and articles, their documentaries and diatribes, I am trying to take time to listen– really listen. And sometimes, I am even blessed to gain a new insight.

The key to me is that I automatically shut down when the name calling or nastiness begins. And I am trying to disengage with kindness or at least without being nasty too.  To be honest, a part of me believes in karma…..so I better watch myself. 😀

Over the last few days, I have found a dramatic increase in political arguments. With the tensions in Gaza being what they are, I am struggling with all of the variables only to realize that what’s happening is beyond complicated. In my devastation, I began to understand that some of my views needed to be negotiated differently which means I needed to listen more intently to views that often rubbed me the wrong way.

In truth, I am not evolving too dramatically, I am still liberal in my politics. I am, however, realizing that there are so m any narratives in this world. And if I am going to build bridges and relationships with others, I need to learn to embrace the challenging conversations with a little more openness and respect.

Relationships are complicated – always. Yet if I want to develop healthier and more beautiful connections, I need to remain conscious and mindful that what I say and how I say it makes a difference.  And I have to remain on the path to really listen to what others have to say.

Hineini, Here I am – I have a lot more work to do. I am on it!

Feel free to join me over the coming weeks as I continue to unveil some of the moving parts that I am navigating and myriad of ways I hope to stretch, to grow, and ultimately to heal. My hope is that as I share some of my story, I may inspire you in some small way.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

(Note: If you read to the end and if you like what I have to share, I’d love it if you would let me know by liking or commenting on my post.)

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Today is Day 21 (and the last day) of My Selfie Challenge. This was my time to look at how I walked in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bound my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it was my hope that as I took each photo, I would learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it was my time to find the beauty that was me.

~ ~ ~

 

As a woman, a mother, a thinker, a seeker, a free-spirit, an intuitive, a dreamer, a friend, a sister, a healer, an activist, a loving soul, and a human being, I believe that my voice needs to soar. In fact, I believe that most human beings that are doing their part to make the world a better place need to be preaching their truth as they stand with humanity.

Over the past 21 days, I have felt trapped in the selfie box. While I may have felt trapped, I now feel free because in the end I realized some very important truths about myself.

  1. My voice matters.
  2. I am beautiful inside and out.
  3. Living in these times and in the confines of my life have made me painfully raw and intense.
  4. I am deeply broken and always have been yet I have learned to show up and be the most authentic and loving soul I can be.
  5. Friendships mean the world to me and the pain of unexpected loss leaves me bereft – forever. I move forward, but the pain endures.
  6. Sometimes there is a place in this world for rage AND the time is now. The fucked up nature of our world means that their is no time for silence.  Our voices need to rise up for those that are disabled, the Dreamers, the Native Americans, the marginalized, the minorities, our environment, asylum seekers, and the entire human race. We need to do all we can do to keep the world safe from guns that shouldn’t be used, by the President of our country and by the pathetic government that doesn’t seem to represent our country with dignity and love.
  7. Those that attempt to silence me or alter my words don’t belong in my life. But those that inspire me to reach higher and develop my thoughts more fully – thank you.
  8. My passion drives me and helps me embrace the world fully.
  9. While I show up with warmth, love, and a smile on my face, my intensity leaves me quietly awkward inside with an aching heart.
  10. I love the world and feel a little too deeply.

Living consciously and out loud is the gift I give to the world I love. While it doesn’t always feel comfortable for those that know me, I am feeling blessed to have the soul I have.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable. . .

Sending love, light, hope, and blessings. . . . .

 

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Today is Day 18 of My Selfie Challenge. This is my time to look at how I walk in the world and to shake loose from some of the very things that bind my spirit.  And if I am going to be really truthful, it is my hope that as I take each photo, I will learn to be just a little happier with the person that I am. As a seeker, it is my time to find the beauty that is me.

~ ~ ~

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein as written in his letter to a grieving father

For Jews this month is traditionally a time of joy. Not so this year.

Day 18Personally, I am navigating some deep loss and sadness. The world outside of me, but within my realm is struggling. And the pain engulfing so much of the world is literally taking my breath away.

The words of consolation are empty and my own personal hope is rapidly diminishing. And yet, we all have to keep moving forward in our own ways.

When I allow myself, I could get lost in the Simon and Garfunkel’s song, Sound of Silence:

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

 As I navigate some of my own personal journeys and the journeys that inspire activism… I realize I have to keep taking one step and then another.

Yes, I am a little dark right now. I think the 17 murdered students and teachers in Parkland, Florida put the nail in that coffin. I am so sad and at a loss for what it means to rise up from the devastation. And my own sadness doesn’t help me too much during this journey. And yet. . .

I still keep taking steps to move outside of what I am feeling. There is a world that needs a response to deranged and depressed people having access to firearms of any types. I won’t even go into the debate of AR-15 and AK 47. And then let’s talk about the disgusting excuse we have as POTUS or many of our politicians. And then there is the realities that I keep seeing in Israel, another country that I once loved with all my heart.

And in the end, there is a balance. On one shoulder sits the reality of what’s going on. There is so much darkness in our midst.  AND on the other shoulder sits the reality that there’s work to do. And I am blessed to be part of building bridges, making a difference and impacting the souls of my students and the different communities that I am a part of. This is the shoulder that keeps me from suffocating.

We all have to keep moving forward.  Hineini, Here I am. I am doing the best I can.

 

 

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Chava's Shadow 17January2016Tonight I went to sleep early. After navigating Hurricane Harvey for nearly two weeks, I crashed. For three precious hours, I curled up into a ball and slept. I needed it too!

And then in an instant, I was awake again. For the next three plus hours, I tried to catch up with the world. And for the most part, I felt like a spectator watching my heart break.

Ironically, just as I was facing the darkness that was surrounding me, a new storm emerged. Outside, thunder and lightening shattered the quiet night skies, water started to rise (again), and the lights started to flicker.  While this was reality, it was also a metaphor for how I was experiencing the world.

Being openly vulnerable as I navigate the many storms feels right in this moment. While recently some of my friends have referred to me courageous and brave, they have little idea what is sometimes lurking below the surface. I am feeling ill equipped for the life that surrounds me.           

Hurricane Harvey
Trump
Devastation
Traffic
Deep Sadness
Defending DACA
Nuclear Weapons
Lost Friendships
Changing Realities
New Beginnings
Loneliness

Baseless Hatred
Storms
Normalcy
Hurricane Irma
and so much more. . .  

Life is challenging, as it often is in the middle of a storm. And with each breath, I am becoming calmer. And yet, I am also acutely aware that in this moment, the troubles of the world and my soul are closing in. This is the reality of being alone in the middle of the night as a storm threatens to encroach on your sense of well being.

Navigating vulnerability is what follows both the devastation and the kindness that I have seen since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday, August 25th. This pain also comes from seeing who in your life will show up and who will not. In some ways, everything has changed; in other ways nothing has changed.

The good news is that after 51 years of life, I am aware that calm will come after this storm has passed. For now, I am simply acknowledging where I am.

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December 2016 - looking out into water
(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5777, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-2NA)

~ ~ ~

“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” 
~ Brené Brown*

I love fiercely; I hurt deeply; I feel joy with every fiber of my body; I am what I am.

For the most part, the outside world sees me as reasonable and grounded. Maybe I am. AND I am also extraordinarily emotional that I have to remember to breathe into any emotion.

Loving life as I do comes at a cost. Intensity and passion run through my veins. This means that those that love me (including myself) have to  navigate minefields as well as pure exhilaration. I feel with my entire being. And when I feel comfortable, I literally share my whole self.

The minefields are probably the hardest to navigate. Sometimes I wonder what the hell just exploded inside me. At the same time, I love that I can take a ‘time out’ to catch my breath and become more reasonable. While my outbursts tend to be quick, the furious nature of them aren’t easy to navigate.

When my spirit soars, it is really quite enchanting. The electrifying energy is so life affirming and contagious. I absolutely love when my positive energy touches those around me. Sometimes I wonder who feels better after these exchanges; I love that it seems to be mutual.

I don’t remember always being able to honor my feelings in this way, but I sure do feel blessed to feel comfortable enough inside of myself today.

As grateful as I am that I walk through the world as I do, I also struggle. Feeling with ever fiber of my being has a cost. Every morning, I open my eyes and have to remind myself to breathe deeply and trust in the universe. I also have to do everything I can to quiet my mind so that I can better move through the day. On most days, I do this with ease. I get up, I journal so that acknowledge the fullness of where I am, and then I embrace life with open arms and an excitement to see how my personal life will unfold.

This doesn’t mean I forget the world I live in. I never forget that Trump’s venom is sitting in the White House and Netanyahu’s government poisons Israel. I never forget that climate change may destroy our world and that human slavery is alive today. And every continent has horrific disasters that literally destroy life at every turn.

Life’s many moving parts are a reality.  I will always be aware of them and do what I can to make a positive impact while also feeling as intensely as I do. I will also forever feel grateful to my sons who accept all of me (and mostly) accept how I wear my emotions. And I have a few dear friends that are totally present for how I show up. I love that I am (mostly) loved for who I am. That’s pretty awesome considering I can’t be anyone else. 🙂

embrace my scars live my passionAs I was wrapping up this blog, I was notified by Facebook that I shared the following hope card* last year when I posted about My Morning Pages/Writings. I love how this card showed up now.

 

Accepting my own humanity as I try to navigate my many imperfections can be really daunting.  I tend to be really hard on myself especially when anger or deep sadness pour from my soul. At the same time I am embracing the fullness of who I am. I am beautifully imperfect, I am what I am. I am me.

Note:

  1. Quote was from audiobook by Brené Brown from Men, Women, and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough; 2012.
  2. Courtesy of Bone Sigh Arts and Terri St. Cloud. These Hope Cards have been a gift. Find them: https://goo.gl/uVc1lc

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