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Posts Tagged ‘vision’

A friend of mine just send me a quote that resonated to the deepest part of my soul.

The only way you can endure your pain is to let it be painful.
~Shunryu Suzuki , Zen monk and teacher
who helped popularize Zen Buddhism 

After over 11 weeks of pain and now healing, I have a new insight into the rhythm of life. The challenge of dealing with excruciating pain gave me the opportunity to reflect on not only myself, but on the larger wold.

Almost nothing about life is simple or easy; sometimes it is simply hard or feels like too much.

While March’s hell took over my ability to function and forced me to ground myself differently than I ever have, the sadness that permeated my being over the ensuing weeks may have been worse in many ways. With too much time on my hands and an inability to focus on writing, reading, loved ones, or work, I went towards darkness. Sometimes it was as if I was in a very long tunnel; the only problem was that I couldn’t see the other end of the tunnel; I couldn’t see the light.

Even with my beautiful sons, sweet phone calls from loved ones, and a couple of visitors, I felt more alone than I may have felt since my early years. My heart and soul ached with deep loneliness and the world’s politics made me feel hopeless. Even as my body healed, I understood that I was grieving deeply. I was grieving from the lost dreams – personally and globally. With each passing day, the daily beatings left me battered and bruised and sometimes even hyperventilating.

What I learned during the darkest moments was that I couldn’t hide from my pain. There was no cocoon big enough to hold me and no one there to hear the depths of my pain. Although my beautiful sister-in-law reached out to me daily, I wasn’t able to be consoled; I also chose to only share about the physical pain. I believed and still believe that the depth of what I was feeling was too much to put on any one person’s shoulders. So instead, I allowed me the time and space to go through it.

The good news is that I have always found light in the darkness and as the sparks have begun to make room for more and more light, I have slowly become more grounded. With each passing day, calmness emerges and light shines a little more brightly; not only my body is healing, but so is my soul.

The single most valuable tool for healing came from giving my pain a voice. As we all know, it is impossible to sweep boulders under a carpet. I’ve tried, but to no avail. So with perseverance, I started naming my fears and addressing my pain by actively allowing myself the room to feel and even to cry before trying to move mountains.

Even as I share a taste of what was weighing me down, know that I am aware that all is intertwined with each other and nothing stands on it’s own even if it may appear that it does. There are many parts of life’s puzzle that impact each of us; I am no different.

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.

Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.

All things connect.
~Chief Seattle

“My back hurts!!!!
The physical pain may have been hurled at me the way that bombers explode their targeted locations with precision, but finding the right doctors and medications put me on a healing journey. Surgery probably saved my ability to walk and now physical therapy, yoga, and losing weight will move me to an even better place. My health journey has had horrific moments, but loving practitioners and doctors have made each passing day less painful.

Core Belief Tree June 2017.FinalOnce I started finding ways to navigate the pain, I began to see that my back’s pain was in part due to my need to strengthen my core and better align my soul with my roots (values) while working towards what I really want in my life (the fruits of my labor). I needed and still need to become a healthier and stronger me so that ‘real’ healing can occur on every level. That meant and still means that in order to be healthy I need to better engage with my root values so that my core can thrive. And only through pollination will blossoms sprout fruit. This realization lead me to understand that I had to navigate a lot of moving parts in order to blossom and ultimately see the fruits of my labor. This light bulb moment followed a fabulous online class art class that I took before surgery.

The vision above is what emerged. I have drawn several different versions of this tree and each one brings more clarity.

What the ‘F’ am I going to do? I never have enough money!
As a Jewish Educator and a single mother, money has often been a challenge for me. I have always faced without hesitation and mostly with a positive attitude. It is what it is. Yet. . . .illness, medical bills, and reality got to me during much of my recovery. Still, I tried to seek positive solutions to overwhelming fear.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the following question on Facebook, “How are you becoming fiscally more socially responsible?” The first response came from someone who believed that this question can only be asked of people that have a means. Initially, I I was asking that question because I literally don’t have enough money to thrive, but yet I really do have what I need-mostly. On most months, I can prioritize, but it is really tight. And getting sick did nothing to make it easier.

My tight budget got tight enough to put me over the edge. With an inability to drive, my sons had to start taking Uber (no good transit system here), I had to buy medications and more medications, I had to meet a deductible that was outside of anything I could afford, and I had to pay co-pays for every doctor’s appointment. And when I needed to go to the ER because I was fighting an infection, I opted out of going; I just didn’t have the mandatory $400 for an ER visit. (Fortunately, my decision to wait until morning worked out just fine.) The good news is that I had a credit card or two; the bad news is that I used them. A tax refund paid off most of the debt and this month, I finished paying off the rest except that left me with barely enough to navigate this month.

Even as I write about my realities, I am so grateful that this is simply a ‘first world problem’. I profoundly aware of how fortunate I really am; I am always ok. I am blessed that one of my sons works and gives nearly every penny towards our household. And while things are tight, I always make it and I always have. Mostly. Are things easy? No. Do I waste much money? Sometimes. . .still I am careful. Was I fortunate enough to navigate the hundreds of dollars that illness has thrown in my direction? Yes. In my illness, I figured out how to pay down payments for surgery, medications, other unexpected expenses.

Regardless of the monthly medical expenses, the doctors and hospital still need to be paid, I am making it and even starting to hope I will have a solid savings plan in place by September if not sooner.  I have food on the table, an ability to cook in a sweet little kitchen, a beautiful home with an amazing landlord, a car (with car payments), and a lovely neighborhood. Basically, I really do have most of what I need/want. I have a beautiful life.

Back to my Facebook question, I believe that everyone of us can make socially conscious financial decisions. Are you directly supporting sweatshops or purchasing your clothing through thrift shops and clothing swaps?  Do you buy chocolate bars at dirt cheap prices or limit yourself to a fair-trade chocolate bar every few months? Are you using the dryer or hanging your clothing on a clothesline or drying rack? When you go to grocery stores or any store, do you use paper or plastic? Perhaps you simply bring your own bags; I know I do. While I am far from perfect, I am trying to make socially conscious decisions at every opportunity and if I am really thoughtful, I am also saving money with each decision.

This month, I am fixated on three very real realities, I want to purchase a compost, I need to put off going to a dentist for a little bit longer, and I am sad that I can’t make all the donations that I want to make. There are a lot of beautiful nonprofits doing amazing work. Let me know if you’d like to give to any my favorite organization; I definitely have a bunch I could suggest. Some of my deepest sadness comes from the fact that I am not giving as I would like or doing enough. But I do know that I am doing the best that I can AND the more I learn, the more I try to make responsible and loving decisions not only for our family, but also for the greater world.

Our World Feels Like It is Falling Apart
Mother Earth is crying. Human beings are being delegitimized based on where they live, the color of their skin, their religion, their socio-economic status, their gender, and/or their sexual orientation. Add these realities to the fact that not only the United States government, the Israeli government, as well as so many other governments are filled with ill equipped leaders who are toxic at the least and seemingly fascist at the worst.

And regardless of how bad it is, I am amazed at the angels that are showing up. Whether at rallies, at organizing meetings, at the offices of elected officials, or on the street, I am meeting passionate people who want to make our world a better place. I have even been touched by elected officials who have integrity and are helping guide those that want to do whatever they can.

Healing My Body, My Mind, and My Soul
I took the weeks needed to heal not only my body, but also my mind and my soul. Admitting that the pain felt overwhelming and I felt alone was the only way to move forward. At times crying cleansed me and sometimes it paralyzed me for a moment or more, but in the end I have worked through the deepest depths of loss. I have allowed myself time to grieve and at times I am allowing myself the space to still grieve. In so many ways it feels like I have nine lives or perhaps twenty-nine lives. 🙂

Living is holy work and I am absolutely up for the task. Hineini, Here I am!

With love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – To remind me of the power of ‘Choosing Life’, I think back to John Denver’s song, I Want To Live. There is so much beautiful work to do! Are you with me?

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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 others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Vision Your Journey
Create Your Future

The only journey is the one within.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Life is a journey.

With that in mind, I have to be willing to take My Journey Towards Wholeness with a full heart and a willing spirit. Instant gratification will probably be a wish and not a reality.

On April 1, 2010 – I had to face surgery to end debilitating pain and also to hopeful keep me from becoming a statistic. The surgery worked with flying colors and my life has evolved substantially since that time. Reflecting back, I believe that that journey propelled me to new places and opened my mind to new possibilities.  I also love that when I look at the goals I had just 12 days post surgery, I am blessed to be able to say that my vision for myself then is pretty much where I am today.

Today, I am in a much healthier and spiritually stronger place as I continue to grow as a person while honoring what I believe.

With that in mind, I am sharing my writing from this time and hoping that some of you become inspired by The Chava Project.

Sending love and healing thoughts to all!
Chava

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Originally this post was written April 12, 2010 following what could have been serious surgery. The good news is that all went well and healing went well.

The Power of the Chava Project

Vision Board for Chava Created March 31, 2010

Vision Board for Chava
Created March 31, 2010

Approximately a month ago, my friend Jennifer Judelsohn suggested that we create the Chava Project http://journeycircles.blogspot.com/2010/03/chava-project.html by having people send a word to her post office box.  The word would represent a prayer, a hope, or a vision you had for me.  We probably had about two-dozen words mailed via snail mail and then another two-dozen words emailed to us.  Each word was mounted on a painted canvas that was meant to become my vision board and to inspire me as I journeyed towards a stronger physical and spiritual essence.

The beauty of each and every word,  the embellishments,  and the intentions was that they were transmitted to me in a very core way.  With every fiber of my being, I felt the love and warmth that surrounded my healing and my growing journey.  I couldn’t believe that so many people cared enough to take the time to let me know their word for my evolution.

In my life I have had times that I felt completely alone, but not any longer.  I feel loved, cherished, and cared for.  Today, I know that many people are my soul friends.  They celebrate my journey towards physical and spiritual health.  And nearly all of my beloved friends would help me in any way if I let them know my needs.

There are many people who empowered me and continue to support me as I move through my journey.  Both family and friends from all over as well as those that are specifically part of  my CAJE friends and my Kol Zimra/Jewish Renewal friends, you know who you are.  I’ve been blessed to be surrounded world-wide with people that illuminate my world and the world that they live in too. Through my friends, I have been granted the space to explore the roads that I currently travel.

Many voices are in my head at any given time.  Most of the thoughts begin with the overarching wisdom of Theodore Herzl, “Im tirtzu, ein zo agadah. If you will it, it is no dream.”  There is so much that I want in my life and most of it is within my reach if I admit my feelings and do that which needs to be done in order to make things happen.  Only through action and consistent discipline will I attain that which I desire to have a more fulfilling life.

My life is somewhat complicated and also quite simple too.  I love life and I consistently strive to reach for the different goals that are continually emerging.  There is much to strive for-always.  Mountains to climb; valleys to descend. With each step, there is a plethora of new options that come into view.

Each step leads to beauty.  Sometimes I see myself as the young girl looking out to the ocean of a Dali painting I love.  The vastness of the water or the life potentials surrounding me is endless; all I need to do is to make a decision on what step or stroke needs to be my next.  As simple as that sounds, limiting the options that surround me is not an easy task.  I want to do it all; I want to feel the rhythm of each and every desire, but I can’t do it all.

Nearly two weeks ago, I had a hysterectomy.  It wasn’t traumatic in any way; it needed to be done, so I did it.  The beauty of the hysterectomy is what happened before and after the actual surgery.  Initially, my friends and some strangers supported me by sending me a word/prayer/hope to put on my vision board.  The artwork sits with me as a reminder of the work that I have left to do in this world.  There are so many things I want to accomplish.  At the moment though, the goal is to be healthy!!!!!! And while it is taking more time than I would like; it is happening nonetheless.  And other friends offered me prayers and meditations, chanting and drumming; one friend mailed me a self-guided visualization to prepare for the big day.  And since coming home, a couple of friends stayed in the house to help, other friends have been as present as I would like them to be.  Two friends came out of the way to sit with me in the hospital the day of surgery as I was fairly sick and less than fun to be around.  And since coming home, I have received, cards, emails, Facebook notes, calls, and plants/flowers.  Wow. . . I feel loved.

And through each and every step of my healing, my boys have been taking care of me.  Whether it is about being with me as I heal or supporting me as I make decisions and work towards all my many goals.  It is amazing to live in a family that honor where each and every one of us is.  My children know that Michael, their father, and I are trying to explore how work will evolve for both of us and how my creative and intellectual pursuits will be nourished.

Creating a list of 100 things I’d like to do before I die is not difficult, my top pursuits include:
1.    teaching from my soul.
2.    writing about my life journeys.
3.    creating a series of Jewish retreats for survivors of childhood trauma and their loved ones.
4.    becoming a rabbi.
5.    physically thriving.
6.    growing my hair just a little longer ☺.
7.    kayaking and hiking throughout the spring and summer.
8.    finding my own path for doing Tikun Olam (repairing the world).
9.    living consciously and with integrity.

Waking up from anesthesia, I said the words that I say upon waking up in the morning “Modah ani lifanecha. . . I thank You, living and eternal Spirit, for restoring my soul. What an awesome responsibility I now have to choose to live life in a healthier way while honoring my spirit as well as the spirit of the world around me.

The vision board with all her words is a reminder that I am striving towards honoring myself and working towards incredible growth.

With love and light,
Chava

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

 

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 – 5775 Introduction http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

This is what it takes to create a spiritual home wherever you go.

This is what it takes to create a spiritual home wherever you go.

Reflection

Over the past 4 days, since Rosh Hodesh Elul (the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul), I have been actively preparing for Rosh HaShana and loving every moment of it.  And then suddenly this morning as I sang some of the verses from Psalm 27*, I felt a bit bereft because for the first time in my life, I do not feel like I have a spiritual home.  As a professional Jew, I have previously had communities that were easier for me to be a part of spiritually, but I have rarely felt uncomfortable in a community I have worked.  Only one time, I heard a rabbi give a sermon on Yom Kippur in which he said that Tisha B’Av should be disregarded.  It was the one and only time I almost walked out of High Holy Day services with my family.

Judaism is a part of my essence.  I love how it fits into my life, pushes me to think, and creates a cocoon where I can live.

I am a God-Wrestler.  I question, I pray, I hope, I vision and I wrestle.  And on the days that I don’t quite know how God fits into my practice of Judaism, I let go and trust the universe.  And throughout it all, I try to live a life of Godliness.  Every place I walk is a sanctuary, so why in this moment should I feel like I have no spiritual home.  The mountains and the desert are seriously my sanctuary.  I love the earth; I love so many special spaces that exude God-like energy.  I used to have a yoga studio that felt like God’s sanctuary.  Today, there is no space that is calling me for the Rosh HaShanah, yet I have to take my kids to services for the High Holy Days.

And did I say, I literally have no money for the holidays or for much? What a concept for me.  The good news is that my old ‘congregation’ of employment wouldn’t turn me a way and I believe other congregations would open their doors too, but still it is sad for me.  I believe that if I weren’t a mother, I would choose to create a spiritual space by myself or with a few others.  I love Judaism and I love living it!

So as I take each day of Elul to create a stronger physical and spiritual core, I am grappling with feeling like I have no place to go.  And yet, in reality, I know that my sons and I will feel comfortable wherever we go.  Tucson is full of loving synagogue communities.  Can’t wait to hear the shofar blown as I sit within community.

Feeling blessed even as I struggle with some challenging realities.  The sun and moon always shine brightly in the desert.

With blessings & light,
Chava

*From Rosh Hodesh Elul through Simchat Torah, it is part of the Jewish tradition to say Psalm 27 two times a day.  Here is a link to the Psalm in Hebrew and English. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2627.htm

 

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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.

Middah (character trait) focus: sense of wonder

Chava - New Glasses

Today I got new glasses.  While it might not seem like a big deal for most of my friends for me it was enormous.  I have needed new glasses for months, maybe even longer.  With finances what they have been, I had to wait until now.  And guess what? I am profoundly grateful to be able to see better!!! I didn’t know what I was missing until I got I put on the new glasses today.  And yet, I tend to see the beauty that surrounds me, only now I will see more of it.

This afternoon, I seemed to recieve a renewed sense of wonder for my home in the desert.  Beauty is surrounding me at every turn; I can see much more clearly, everything seems more vivid. Wow!!! Vision is truly a gift.

May each of us see the beauty that surrounds us as we walk in the world.  May we sense the wonder with all of our senses.

Sending blessings and light, Chava

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It’s official. . .I am certifiably nuts. . .  Tonight I went out walking and I serenaded the moon. While Dovi, my 15 year old son, might not forgive me, I am thrilled to have decompressed in this way.

I am one of the most intense people I know. I rarely shut down and just chill, but tonight I did.  Tonight I sang and created new lyrics to songs that usually have different words.  I chanted chants that move me to a spiritual place.  I laughed out loud and smiled broadly.  I felt truly alive.

As someone who has yet to study the power of the full moon, I believe it had something to do with the full moon’s energy.  Perhaps it also had to do with my need to relax and appreciate the rhythm of the earth and the rhythm of the sky.  My entire body reverberated from the energy I was feeling and it still is.

Life’s biggest gifts come when you open your eyes a little wider than normal, breathe a little deeper than usual, and watch things unfold.  Today that’s exactly what I did.  I appreciated what was and appreciated the moments as they unveiled themselves.

A few days ago, a distant friend who feels like a soul friend, asked me if I was ok.  With that one question, I was struck with the fact that I had not been managing my intensity as I should. And now, I feel blessed by both the question and the realization that came to me 24 hours later. While I embrace life and the emotional roller-coaster that comes with it, I really am feeling grounded and content.  While I am actively engaged in life’s journeys, I am also conscious of each and every emotion.  The bottom-line is I am an intense soul who constantly navigates the world and all of the inhabitants that I encounter.

I think, I feel, I dream, I vision, I seek, and I struggle.  I hope, I believe, I soar, and I embrace life intensely.  And yet when the day is done, when the moment ends, I am basically a content woman.  I love life.

Tonight the moon called to me.  She showed me her beautiful energy and she surrounded me too.  With that realization, I became acutely aware that my heart was soaring and my soul was singing.  And with each step under the moon and stars, I found my voice.

With love, light, and blessings . . .

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