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Posts Tagged ‘voice’’

Life is really messy.

Around every corner there are ups and downs. Moments when you are soaring and moments when you are flopping around like a fish out of water. And if you are intense like me, it may feel like your life is bouncing around as quickly as some people can flip a coin.

Sometimes I wonder if I walk the world this way because my childhood didn’t teach me many tools for coping with life’s grit. And as a young adult and later a young mother, I learned to live as a chameleon. I buried many of my emotions and did what was expected of me. And for the most part I pulled it off fairly well. Or at least I think I did. Of course, what do I really know about how I was received by others.

To be transparent, my life has probably always been far from normal. As a young newly married woman, I faced nine miscarriages, several failed adoption attempts, an adoption, buried my parents, navigated serious illnesses for my children, employment struggles for the family breadwinner, and so much more.

Nonetheless, I engaged in living and doing whatever needed to be done to propel my family forward, support my community, and keep a smile on my face. I simply plugged away at living. I am not sure that I found it easy because interspersed with some really tough moments, but I had dinner on the table every night. We welcomed people into our home nearly every Shabbat. I cooked meals for those who were ill and organized our community to help families in the midst of health crisises. I even kept my home  clean, laundry done, and always held down a part time job.

I had an I can do ANYTHING spirit, only inside that is not how I felt. I used to wonder why everyone in the world could keep their houses clean, nurture their children, and have a full life.  Everyone seemed to do it with an ease that ALWAYS escaped me. It is only since I started following social media closely that I realized that I was never alone. All of us have our own personal struggles.

Fortunately social media, Oprah, and podcasts have helped me realize that I am so not alone in this very real struggle. Only over the last five or so years have I  been introduced to the wisdom of three people that rock my world as creatives because of how honestly they shared their struggles of living in the messy middle. They inspire people to:

  • Live in the “marvelous messy middle”. ~ SARK
  • “Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

And to understand:

  • “Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real.” ~Glennon Doyle

Each of these amazing women choose to share their personal journeys of living in the midst of life’s sometimes very challenging realities while being aware that moving forward doesn’t always present us with easy solutions for living according to what society deems “normal”. They continually inspired me (and still do) to show up in my world as authentically as possible.

Hiking BootsI feel blessed to now walk with ease in my own messy middle and the outer banks too. While it took me over fifty years to emerge fully as myself. I ultimately found my voice through writing, chanting, drumming, and only in the last year through painting little cards.  I am the woman I am because how I have chosen to navigate my own rocky paths.  I am so grateful that I learned to live out loud by sharing my life experiences without apology, accepting that I don’t fit into any box, and loving myself for who I am.

I have also done some really hard stuff including leaving the traditional Jewish community, moving cross country with my sons, divorcing my husband, and publicly changing my name when I realized my parents lost their right to name me.  I wanted a name that honored who I am today, so I gave myself one.  I am Chava Gal-Or. Chava means life because I am a woman who thrives regardless of what sh*t crosses her path and I become empowered by whatever life tosses in my direction. Gal-Or means wave of light; this is my reminder not only to be light, but to find the light in whoever and whatever crosses my path. Perhaps the hardest thing I am doing right now is sharing my life stories via my writing; I am not holding back, I am diving deep and navigating some really harsh realities that have lead me to rise as the woman I am.

Yes, I live in the messy middle. I feel deeply. I struggle to breathe when life overwhelms me. I often believe I don’t do enough to make our world a better place. I wonder if I love enough and do enough for my family, my work, my beloved friends, etc. I struggle with believing that I am worthy and yet I understand that the Inner Demon speaks loudly to me and it is my job to show up and keep showing up. On a good day, I quiet that voice and stretch my arms wide open to life. On a bad day, the demon wins, but I push forward anyway. I am learning.

Living in the messy middle has become a norm for me and I am OK with that. I am “perfectly imperfect” as Anne Lamott would say.  Hineini, Here I am!

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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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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yesterday was one of the most surreal days in a long time.
the day started with excitement permeating the core of my being. i was stretching and looking for ways that i would move mountains. and for a few hours i believed that it was actually possible. i knew i could make the world a better place.
earlier steps were greeted with sweet successes. both of my sons met their own personal milestones. i found manageable tools to lessen my carbon footprint. my voice was heard and valued. i doodled, i wrote, and i dreamed.
the day progressed. . . .
as the afternoon raged on, pain oozed into my body. still i pushed because that is the gift i always have. i can always push forward. for the most part, i have been blessed with the ability to ignore physical and emotional strife….so I did.
late afternoon turned dark so very quickly. i couldn’t close my eyes to what was rumbling in my gut. beautiful activists were attacked as they nonviolently tried to make a difference. my son and i hit a wall that seems to be impenetrable.  and as the day wore on, the pain forced me to meet my shadow.
the day progressed. . . .
yet somehow things emerged in surprising ways. in spite of a bunch of comedy of errors, a challenging appointment worked two hours late. despite feeling disconnected from those i wanted to join, twitter made sure i wasn’t alone. twitter also helped keep my fear at bay while making sure i didn’t feel like a water logged island.
returning home, pain inched through my body and i started wondering if a water logged island would be easier than the crippling energies of people that attack by accusing those that believe differently.  all the while my gut was screaming that something is so wrong. . .i just didn’t and still don’t know what.
the day progressed. . . .
with each breath, i struggled as the lasso got tighter and tighter. spiritually a new set of realizations struck an unsuspecting chord. my spirit emerged to new realities. harsh and discerning words awakened me to some new and deep reflections. and just as i found a moment of reconciliation a sharp realization shattered my unsuspecting lungs.
each breath lead to new realities making sleep an impossibility. perhaps a new life force will lift my spirit at daybreak, but for now i will remain present with tears rolling down my face.
feeling silenced in nearly every aspect of life enables the hot tears to scorch my skin and help me forget that breathing isn’t optional.
waiting for the the sun to rise and a new day to remind me that one hard day can never destroy my spirit. i am alive and i will thrive. thriving is not optional either.
Oct 20 - sunrise Pantano Wash

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

 

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“If you ask me what I came into this life to do,
I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”
Quote by Émile Zola

Twenty years ago, this saying became an unspoken mantra. A part of me believes that finding this quote empowered me find my voice as woman,  a mother, a friend, a teacher, and mostly as a creative soul that needed to be heard.

Before that time, silence seemed to permeate the core of my being.  And then one day, I woke up and I found a little more of my voice. I learned to write after a very long and painful hiatus. A local magazine wanted to publish the story of our son Dovi’s miraculous adoption. Somehow I found the courage to speak up and let the publisher/editor know that I was the one who needed to write this story; she loved the idea and with that I found my first and most gentle editor. Eventually that story was picked up by a couple of other magazines.

Finding my voice was a long but beautiful journey. With each step, I felt like a butterfly opening to the world with a sense of awe. I literally fluttered from flower to flower. Each flower gave me just a little more nectar to fuel the journey towards self.

And then in 2002, I took a giant leap of faith and left the cocoon of the Orthodox world that I had lived for nearly fifteen years. The journey was lonely and overwhelming. I lost close friends in that transition or should I say transformation? But I did it!!! I listened to the voice that nudged me to create a new life for myself (and eventually my family) and to find a new home for my spirit to rest. It didn’t go far; I found a home in a progressive Jewish community that nurtured my spirit and grounded me in tradition while allowing my creative energy to flourish.

As time progressed, I started to stretch in other ways too. I started thriving as an educator, a blogger, an artist, a chanter, a storyteller, a drummer, a mother, and today as an activist or maybe just a human being. The more I grow the more my spirit yearns to expand my roots as I also reach into the universe that surrounds me.

Now that I have my voice, I embrace all of life with more passion. When I am happy I sing out loud regardless of who is close by; when I feel the need to write, I stop what I am doing and I write; when a picture comes into my head I doodle it. The more doors open, the more ready I am to receive the gifts that continue to flow through me.

A raw intensity has taken over the quiet person that once lived in my body.  My soul gravitates towards life. I am alive and I crave this aliveness that emanates from all life forces.

Sun rise New Zealand May 5 Jai-Jagdeesh

Photo Courtesy of Jai-Jagdeesh via Instagram: jaijagdeesh

This New Zealand sunrise by my “social media friend” left me with tears in my eyes. I found Jai-Jagdeesh through her music, but today I have fallen love with her words, her wisdom, her photos. My hope is that one day have the opportunity to experience Kundalini Yoga with her as my teacher. (Of course, I may have to wait until I complete my healing journey from back surgery.) When I hear her, I feel a fire igniting me towards  self-care and tikun olam (repairing the world).

Meanwhile a heartfelt hug reminds me that the void of love I experienced as a child is no longer with me. When any of my nieces or nephews say “I love you” even though I haven’t seen the since they were little. . .I melt inside, but feel immense gratitude that my beloved brother and sister-in-law have kept me alive in their eyes.

Nothing in my world is taken for granted.

The more authentic and grounded I become, the I am able to “live out loud” and to love.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

Today, I openly love with ever fiber of my being.  I often wonder if I take in the world on a cellular level. When I allow myself to breathe deeply, I find myself connecting with all that I see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. All of my senses are more alive than I could have once imagined.

While love may sometimes change, I love deeply; I love forever. . . My intensity overflows each and every time I see those I adore.

And I have learned to always speak from the deepest part of my soul just in case a door closes suddenly. ….because doors do close suddenly and without warning.

May I be blessed to always “live out loud” with an authenticity that rooted in grace.

Namaste (May the spirit in me honor the spirit in you),
Chava

Note: This entire blog was inspired by:

Love Openly. . .you never know

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If you don’t like the news. . . .
go out and make some of your own.
~Newsman Wes Nisker’s closing salutation
on radio station KSAN in the 1970s

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
hatred doesn’t need a disguise.
police aren’t here to protect you.
the kindness of neighbors is not a given.

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
red traffic lights allow for another three more cars to pass.
minorities expect disdain from every direction.
prejudice can be worn on your sleeves.

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
giving up is not an option.
I am surrounded by an activist village.
when I feel alone, all I have to do is open my heart..

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
that things are not always what they seem.
sometimes life is not black or white; in fact it is often grey.
what you see is not always what you get.

Living in Texas, I have learned . . .
there are beautiful people wherever you turn.
sometimes you need to look deeper to find the gems.
patience has a way of paying off.

Living in Texas, I have learned. . .
the importance of finding those that fuel your soul.
that my voice matters and can make a difference for good.
working with others makes all of our voices stronger.

Before coming to Texas, I believed that my voice didn’t matter. In fact, I was so sure of it that I loved my ability to fade into the wood work. That isn’t the case today, I have begun to realize that I have a purpose. And even if I want to hide, I can’t.

There is work to be done – a lot of work to be done.

Over the last two days, I have been blown away by beautiful souls that make up the Pantsuit Republic: Houston Chapter. I have found like minded souls that are willing to do what it takes to make our leaders accountable for their actions and to support the work that needs to be done so that no group of people go marginalized.

I am in awe of what I have found right here in my back yard, in Houston.  And I am even beginning to believe that together we can make our world a better place.

Authenticity and compassion reign.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

Chai Wallhanging

presented by: Milky Wave Tie-Dye*

  • The tie dye says life in Hebrew; a friend made this for my son Aryeh when he was suffering a life threatening illness. . .it somehow feels appropriate now (different, but right).

 

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“The words are purposes.
The words are maps.”
~ Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck

Congested

In so many ways the world is so very dark and yet perhaps we need to look through different eyes. It is time to open our eyes a little wider and listen more deeply.

Yes – Bureaucratic hatred is rampant under the guise of conservative realism. Yes – Human rights are being thwarted by those that lack the ability to consider life outside their own castles. Yes – Climate Change is a farce (NOT!) and the nearly 97 percent climate scientists are wrong.

The prevailing opinions of many of today’s conservatives are hard to stomach. Some believe it is time to cleanse the United States by rounding up that say Allahu Akbar or connect to the core religious tenets of Islam. And if you a black person, you better consider keeping your hands up and make no sudden moves when you encounter many of the police officers who are protecting our cities. (I know not all officers act this way.) And it didn’t seem fair that I had to prepare my Native American son to look people in the eyes and speak clearly or else he may be seen as an immigrant and treated poorly.  (Note: Of course I want my son to speak clearly, but I wish it wasn’t fear or anticipation that made me drive him nuts with my corrections.)

While I could get stuck in this deplorable place, I am choosing to look at the world through a different lens.

Instead of focusing on the darkness, I am celebrating those that inspire me to reach outside myself and take care of the world – all of the world. I am doing exactly as Mr. Rogers said by “looking for the helpers”. There are so many people working towards impacting the world for good and honoring human rights at every turn.

Blessings are flowing in every crevice of our society.  There are so many people doing what they can for tikkun olam, repairing the world.  There are those that are:

  • working with the homeless population.
  • educating people to see refugees as people that have the right to thrive without daily doses of terror.
  • creating opportunities to help every facet of the human race.
  • engaging in a Two State solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • rejuvenate our environment to lesson the impact of climate change.
  • healing the sick and doing their best to wipe out AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
  • standing up with and for Black Lives Matter.
  • speaking out for the immigrants and doing all they can to support their presence in the United States.
  • trying to stop the NRA from controlling as they do and hopefully one day eliminating the terror that they seem to instigate with their policies.
  • and so much more. . . .

In this moment, I am trying to decide whether to do as much as I can in many different areas that need change or do I simply do the my part in only one aspect of tikkun olam (repairing the world}. Passion literally courses through my veins. Caring about human beings, means that I find shutting down so very challenging to do. While I know that I am not alone, I feel relieved that many are doing their part to improve the world. My job is to figure out where my power lies.  For this moment, I love knowing that I do find ways to make a difference. Even though, I often navigate how to best use my voice, I love knowing that I do not walk in silence. I use my voice, my actions, and my teachings to make a difference for good.

I do my best to do what I can. How about you?????  There is a huge world out there that needs our voices, our actions.

May I never forget that my voice and my actions have power.
May I always use my voice and my actions for good.

May we all remember that we are part of ONE RACE – HUMAN!!!

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My name is the gift I gave myself.  It nurtures my essence and reminds me of all I am and all I want to be.

I am alive. I dance to my own drummer and navigate the world in my own unique ways.

Photo Courtesy of Aryeh Grossman; Composition by Marty Johnson

Photo by Aryeh Grossman;                          Composition by Marty Johnson

i am Chava
lover of life
survivor of blackened skies
believer of the future

i am Chava
beaten but not destroyed
strangled but always breathing
blessed to be exactly who I am

a women who finds light in darkness
a dreamer who never stopped dreaming
a drummer who beats to her own rhythm
a writer who knows that her voice matters

i am a wave of light
who seeks light in the shadows of nightmares
who finds sparks in tunnels
who navigates the murky waters of life
and calls wherever I am – home.

Gal-Or
the moon calls to me
the sun warms my heart
both soothe my soul

i am alive
i am thriving
i am soaring
my world is simply precious beyond words.

I am not sure when I learned how to dance or to sing. I can’t remember when I found my voice or my rhythm. And yet, I have.  My world was not diminished by the demons that had moments of breaking my spirit.

My heart broke, so many times my entire being felt shattered.  The tears fell and welts swelled – sometimes physical and sometimes metaphorically. And yet, the clouds allowed splinters of light to stream around me and into me.

The bruises have healed and my heart is now intact.  The door has opened wide and has beckoned me through.  Feel my heartbeat, imagine how deeply I can now breathe, and watch my spirit soar.

I am Chava Gal-Or.

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