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Posts Tagged ‘vulnerability’

“. . . do small things with great love.”
Quote by Mother Teresa

As I approach some profound changes in my life, I am navigating the most intense vulnerability that I have ever experienced.  If left to my own devices, I would be crying non-stop with each bridge that I am crossing.  The tears wouldn’t all be sad nor would they all be happy; they would fluctuate from moment to moment.  Transparent transition is the gift I am choosing to live by. (Note: I almost feel like I am embodying Anne Lamott’s spirit with each and every blog entry. :))

Over the last year, I have felt sucker-punched and loved at nearly equal proportions.  The good news is that today I am feeling more love and support than I am feeling the harshness of being sucker-punched.  The journey that I am taking has been both challenging and intense.  I have had to face what it means to lose a job and left without the financial ability to take care of my sons; I have also experienced the gifts of having friends and acquaintances help me to secure positions that mostly allow me meet my family’s most basic needs.

As the Gal-Or/Grossman Family prepares to move to the East Coast, I know that it would not have been possible if it weren’t for the support of so many people.  We have been touched by people helping us in a myriad of ways, too many ways to list.  Ironically, I believe that I have personally felt equally impacted by each and every person that has given in whatever way they deemed appropriate.  There have been absolutely no small offerings.

With each step, I have had no expectation that anyone would reach out and help.  For some silly reason, I initially felt alone and very scared.  It is quite daunting to go through dark experiences and believe you will land on your feet.  But truthfully, while life has tossed me some vicious punches; I have been enveloped by love and support for entire second half or more of my life.  I am surrounded by people that have held on to our family while we walked through fire.  Over the years, I have truthfully been far from alone.

Monday night was another example of how one friend brought happy tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.  I am blessed, so very blessed.

Before I share about the amazing treasure I received from Indianapolis, I have to tell a story.

A few weeks ago, I was kvetching on Facebook about how much I am missing the changing of seasons.  I love seeing the leaves change; it rocks my world.  At the time, I was just whining, I had no expectation that I would see autumn leaves this year.  Why would I? I am in the middle of the desert.  🙂  (To be honest, there are changing leaves on Mount Lemmon; that’s not so far.  I just couldn’t get there because of my work and packing schedule.)

Well. . .all my kvetching got the attention of my beloved weird sistah, Ren Fortang, in Indianapolis.  During our exchanged she promised to send me some leaves from her yard.  AND SHE DID!!! Her little package was full of happiness for me. I couldn’t have been happier if I tried.

Leaves from Ren

 

To be honest, the leaves made me the happiest; I couldn’t believe Ren pulled off such an amazing gift.  AND I loved every square inch of the gift from the envelope it came in, to the pin which quoted Mother Teresa, “. . .do small things with great love.”  Ren even included the new CD from Bruce Springsteen, one of my favorite singer/songwriters.  Every square inch of this little gift package nurtured my soul.  (Do you think this blog can replace a thank you note?)

Now just because I love the term basheret, it was meant to be, I want to share that after opening Ren’s gift I was reading Stitches: A Handbook On Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott and on page 14, I found Mother Teresa’s quote, the same quote that was on the pin.  My guess is that there is a huge lesson there, so I better listen up!

Ren’s gift is symbolic of the beauty that continues to flow as I emerge from some challenging times and take on my next adventure.  I couldn’t have made it this far without the enormous support that has surrounded me; I have received so many treasures over the past year and years before that too.  I truly believe that when we consciously walk in the world with an open heart and love to share, the world will ultimately grow into a healthier place.   My friends have shown me this and I hope to continue paying it forward with each and every step of my life.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – We have been blessed with nearly 70 people giving to our Go Fund Me Drive – http://www.gofundme.com/g8o220

 

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July 24

A few weeks ago, I realized that I was falling in love with myself.  For the first time in my life, I have come to accept where I am, my own unique beauty, and the many realities that are me.  There is no man telling me that I am beautiful; there is no job that affirms my self-worth; and, I am a human being with deep loss and a violent past that has made me who I am today.  I am a mother, a sister, a friend, and lover of life; I am a woman.  And through it all, I have grown to deeply love who I am and how I walk in the world.

My entire childhood was surrounded by the barrage of angry words and mannerisms that showed me of my unworthiness.  One of my first memories was when my own mother tore my pajamas off and beat me.  She was the one to tell me that I was fat and ugly; she was also the person who believed that I was ‘retarded’ and limited in every way.  While I had a loving brother and a loving father, they never could make up for the damage that penetrated my earliest days.  And yet, knowing that I was loved was still a blessing.

Protection rarely came as I prayed and hoped it would, but it did come.  As a young girl, I was sexually abused at the hands of a neighbor and then raped by a man that was supposed to protect me from my family.  He didn’t.  Violating a child at any age can rip her spirit and shred it into nothing more than confetti.  And yet, even with those realities, I found my footing with an amazing therapist, a loving brother, and a strong inner core.

I grew up; I am still growing up.

A white picket fence has never been part of my life.   That doesn’t mean that I didn’t experience a loving family as an adult or many precious experiences throughout my life.  I am truly fortunate.

My body has been both my protection and my tormentor.  It has kept me safe even as it has suffered pain and defeat.  Each scar is very real.  While I have birthed one amazing baby (who is now 21 years old), I have lost at least 9 pregnancies by treating each as a toxic impurity that needed to be destroyed.  Thanks to the universe, one child survived.  A C-section, a hysterectomy, many laparoscopic procedures, exploratory surgery with a resulting appendectomy are part of my many physical scars.  And then there are the scars that no one will ever see, unless I choose to share.  Yet my body did protect me.

Chava with her first fruits

Chava with her first fruits

My heart beats strong; it has supported me at every turn.  My heart allowed me to run non-stop as a teenager and young woman; by running I was able to leave the world of drugs and stupidity behind me.  Each and every heartache could have destroyed me, but my writing kept me alive and gave me the room to sort out my pain and heal.  The strength has always come from my heart and allowed me to soar as a human being.

In spite of some of my challenging experiences, the parts of me that were once full of pain have become filled with beauty.  When I was a little girl, my mother chopped my beautiful hair off (perhaps for a reason, but I don’t recall).  Over the years, my hair has become a part of me that I have grown to love.  The texture, the curls, the wildness are all part of what I have grown to see as quite stunning. My body has received emotional and physical beatings at every stage of its life until now; today, I have come to not only accept all of my parts, but to see how precious and lovely they are.  And finally, I do not see myself as brilliant, I used to hate that I couldn’t figure things out like other people.  I wanted to have a mind that could do whatever I needed to do, but today I have learned to ask for help and to figure out that which I can.  In fact last night, I learned how to add a Hebrew keyboard to my iPhone.  I know that seems like small potatoes to some of you, but to me it was huge.  There is nothing about me that is retarded, there are things I can do well and things that I have not yet mastered. The very facets of my life that had once caused me pain have actually become what has helped me find my inner and outer beauty.

Over the years, I have learned to treasure who I am.  My writing has allowed me to touch people in positive ways and to make an impact for good.  My dreams to positively affect people are coming true over time; I have people in my life that I value and that value me.  And today, my dream of growing my non-profit called My Second Foundation for adult thrivers of childhood trauma is starting to take shape.

I am finding my inner and outer beauty.  Today, I look at some photos (mostly selfies) and see a beautiful woman.  I am a little stunned that I can see myself as beautiful.   I no longer cringe when I see all the photos of me.

While I would love to have a career that will financially sustain me as well as give me the opportunity to be fully me, I am strongly aware that my job doesn’t necessarily define who I am.  Today, I help people in ways that I never knew I could.  As a care-giver, I help people at the most challenging time in their lives as they are aging and sometimes losing their mental abilities; I do make an impact for good.  This is not what I ever planned to do, but it is a blessing that I can be where I am today.  And today, I have been given windows of opportunities to do things that allow me a greater understanding of me and what I hope to one day accomplish.  I am not bound or limited by the expectations I once had.  In fact, I know that when I take a new position in Jewish education, non-profit work, or in something I have yet to see coming my way – the decision will allow me to be impactful and to touch lives professionally or as an activist.

 

Doors have never been closed to me; they are and have always been wide open.  I just have to be aware of the opening and to decide which side of the door I should stand or whether standing in the doorway is exactly what I need.

I love being loved, healthy relationships, and feeling beautiful in another person’s eyes.  AND I know that while I treasure that, I don’t need someone else in order to see each and every square inch of me as loveable, precious and worthy.  (OK, I’d love to lose my double-chin and it is time for me to deal with the excess arm fat, but neither of those things makes me cringe.)  My body, all of my body puts a huge smile on my face because all of it is part of who I am.  I feel blessed to have the ability to care for myself and to work on whatever parts of my body I want to.  While I want to have a man to hold and treasure me for who I am, I don’t need another person to label me in order for me to have self-worth.

Yoga gives me many of the tools I need to create a stronger and healthier yesod (foundation).

Yoga gives me many of the tools I need to create a stronger and healthier yesod (foundation).

My vulnerabilities are also part of who I am.  I am far from perfect.  My writing gives me the space to develop my ideas and share the real me.  I look forward to the time when I can financially and physically return to a regular schedule of yoga with a class that is safe for me to grow physically and spiritually. I’d like to lead a chant group or another spiritual group so that I can share all the tools that have made me who I am today; I am deeply introverted even if people see me as an extrovert.  I struggle with the fear that I won’t be articulate or that I will be laughed at for my spoken words.  As a young girl, I needed 9 years of speech therapy in order to be fully understood.  Whether I like it or not, that is still part of who I am.  My voice matters and I love sharing who I am through my voice – written or spoken.  I hope that I always continue work on myself and be the best that I can be.

I am who I am because of the many parts of my life that made me that way.  Today, I have a beloved family consisting of my sons, my brother and his family, and friends that love me for who I am and who I also love.  I am beginning to realize that I don’t have to be anything less than what I am with each of the individuals that I call my family.  There are also other people in my life that have taught me valuable lessons at every step, not all are friends; but each person has impacted me deeply.  I am blessed.  The people around me are a reflection of exquisiteness that can be found within my essence; perhaps I have grown to be as charismatic as those I adore for who they are.

I am emerging as a butterfly after feeling surrounded by a loving cocoon called life.  I am thoroughly beautiful, inside and out.

Arms spread

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NakedTreeWinterEastCoast

Most of life has been good to me, but there have been moments in my youth that have come back to haunt me….not once, not twice, but many times over the course of my lifetime.  Even though I have been blessed to heal and move forward, my memory has remained.

 

All of us have moments of intense loss, painful tragedies, or stories that feel better left unsaid.  Life happens.  For the most part we find a way to move forward, to take one step and then another and then another until we find a new norm.  That, my friend, is one of life’s gifts.

Every now and again, something triggers the pain the memory, the fear. . . emotions take over and we seem to relive the moment that literally took our breath away and forced us to deal with our feelings.  Tonight was such a night.

One moment, I was walking, humming to myself, and thinking about some people in my life that are in need of healing.  I was in my own beautiful world, feeling calm and peaceful.  I was visioning people I love and care for in a better state of health and then I heard the noises that left me in fear for my life.  Loud screams, horrible pain, and violent sounds.  In a moment, I was transformed into a very scared human being who was terrified because I didn’t know what the next moment would bring.  After a moment, I called the police and I came home as fast as I could.  And I was ok; I am still ok.  For now, I am just dealing with the skeletons in my closet; they will be gone by morning.

In the 10 minutes that I was stuck outside with the noises and my fear, I felt my entire body tighten with fear as the sweat rolled down my face, down my neck, down my back.  A moment can change everything; a moment did change everything.  The tranquility I felt is gone, but at least in this moment, I feel safe.

While I don’t know what went down, I do know that the vulnerability I felt until I made it home cut like a knife.  I am ok, but nothing  can ever prepare me for that moment that the memories come racing back and I feel like the little girl that experienced violence and pain.  The memories never really go away; they find a quiet space to rest until the peacefulness comes to a screeching halt with a trigger.

Violence happens, accidents occur, and we do move forward. . . . .

Tonight was just a moment.  My hope is that all is really ok; perhaps all I heard was a haunted memory.  I am so grateful that the moment that brought so much fear is over and that I am safe at home.  My labored breath of an hour ago is becoming easier.

Tomorrow will be a great day! No longer do I have to live in fear. . . .the moment is over.

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Over the course of the last several days, I have experienced many hours without a voice.  While it appeared to be challenging for others who had to communicate with me, I ultimately found peace in my own silence.  I loved having the time to sit quietly with my thoughts and to sometimes just be present without thinking at all.  I also loved quietly watching what was going on around me without having to connect to the conversations.  In the last few days I grew to love the silence and wish I could find more ways to put silence in my life.

no-talking1

In my silence, I have learned or reinforced many lessons that I already knew.

  1. Silence allows me the time to create a container for my own thoughts.  Sometimes the chatter that I engage in takes away my ability to be present and to trust my own thoughts and desires. The silence has given me the space to allow what is in my heart to resonate more fully within me.
  2. As a Youth Education Director, my voice is often used as a tool to lead people, to tell stories, to connect with my students, their families, and my teachers.  Losing my voice forced me to trust others to lead in ways that I couldn’t lead.  And guess what, while no one will ever be me, those that stepped up to the plate were awesome in their own right.
  3. Writing jazzes my soul! Now in all honesty, I have not felt well enough to write for a bit, but it helps to know that in theory I always have writing.  Laryngitis can never silence me!
  4. Words are not needed to convey thoughts.  Body language, facial expressions, and silence can be part of an entire conversation.
  5. My sons are awesome at reminding me to slow down or to stop entirely.  They have stepped up to the plate in many ways to make certain that I push myself less. Those that know me well know that I always push myself.
  6. Vulnerability is a reality of life.  Sometime illness takes away our ability to function; it also makes me realize how we sometimes need to rely on others.  I haven’t asked for too much help, but when I did, I felt supported.  Still acknowledging my own vulnerability has been painful.  It is what it is.

For me, losing my voice has essentially forced me to find my footing. Over the past few months, I have been going at a breakneck speed and trying to navigate many thoughts, emotions, and realities.  The last couple months have been especially tough in different ways.  I have always done what I needed to do, but at times I have been overwhelmed.

Laryngitis felt like a metaphor for some recent challenges.  Since moving to a totally new city, I have sometimes felt like my voice didn’t matter.  In part that was due to moving to Tucson where I am not quite sure how to navigate my politics nor do I have the time I want to do that which I love.  I am also working in a new community, this means that I feel compelled to listen and observe during the first year; perspective comes from seeing what has been done before making changes.  Moving also means that I have been so busy that I don’t have enough time to really connect with those that I have always been able to speak freely; I am missing what I have lost for the time being. And finally, I have two sons that have grown more independent and don’t always feel compelled to hear my thoughts.  None of these challenges are everlasting; they are present realities which will absolutely evolve over time.

With each and every gift, there are challenges.  Losing my voice has given me time to reflect and to make some decisions for how I will navigate my life a little differently.  Perspective has come from the silence.  Instead of me just speaking the words that come to me, I have had the opportunity to stop and take the opportunity to reflect before acting too quickly.  Much can be learned in the space between the words (spoken or written).

My hope is that I will create a little more silence in my life as I continue to navigate what life has to offer.

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