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Posts Tagged ‘walking gently’

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 . . . .]

IMPERFECTION OR I’M PERFECTION:

PERHAPS. . .A LITTLE OF BOTH

In every way, I am a work in progress.There is always so much to do. The beauty of my journey is that it feels absolutely beautiful to walk in the world with the self awareness that has become part of me. Sometimes it is a challenge to accept how imperfect I am; I really do wish I was wiser, healthier, more thoughtful, and more attuned to the earth.  Yet it is because of my reality that I have the opportunity to do some awesome work and to grow as a human being.

In my own world! February 2015 - darker letting

Photos by Aryeh Grossman – Artistic layout by Marty Johnston

Each and every day, I focus on all of the areas that need my focus:

  1. Walking gently with the earth
  2. Making healthy lifestyle choices
  3. Acknowledging MY inner and outer beauty
  4. Seeking truth at every turn
  5. Strengthening my knowledge base as a Jewish Educator

As someone who is actively engaged in living consciously, I often hyper-focus on how to honor the person I am while positively impacting the world I live.

Each area above intertwines with the others. There is not one part of my journey that is an island. Becoming a healthy soul means making choices on how I interact with the earth and all of her inhabitants. As much as I love the moments when I am alone, I will never be an island. None of us are. We are all part of a much larger world even when we choose to disconnect.

The journey is not always easy, it is full of gifts and challenges. Sometimes it is scary and some time liberating. And for me, it is always intense.

I struggle with my imperfections. . .there are so many. And yet what I am coming to love that each imperfection leads me to climb the metaphoric mountains allowing me to strive to be the best human being I can be.

A few days ago, I realized that IMPERFECTION is actually I’M PERFECTION. I am sure someone came up with that one already, but it made me smile. Perhaps, just maybe, I am perfect just the way I am. 🙂

Hineini, Here I am!

May we all strive to be the most perfect people we can be without the guilt to shadow over that which is good.

With love light, and blessings,
Chava

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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 . . . .]

drumming with dog

SabinoApril

Chava

Feb 12

Do What Jazzes YOUR Soul!!!

Life is really full. And while there are days, weeks, and even months when my life feels too heavy and kinetic, I know that if I don’t take care of myself, I will struggle with daily life. I am always traveling on My Journey Towards Wholeness.

Writing fuels my soul at it’s deepest level, I also need to be outdoors and moving in order to be whole. On any given day, I need to take time to breathe deeply and take in my surroundings not once by multiple times..

I am blessed with at plethora of things that I like to do. I also adore spending times with my sons, drumming, connecting with friends, and learning. I enjoy life.

If at all possible do work that makes your heart sing or that inspires you to grow. I’ve been blessed in that way, but I work hard to get there and stay there.

Nothing jazzes your soul unless you nurture it, water it, and sometimes prune it.

What do you like to do? Are you making time to do what you love? If not, why not? Consider making the time you need to make yourself feel balanced, content, or even happy. Just do it!

As I get ready to begin my next professional chapter, may I find the gifts in Houston and take time to jazz my soul. May you do the same wherever you are.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Living life actively is what I do, but at the same time I have always tended to play it safe within certain parameters.  At least I did until my job situation changed and I had no choice; I had to face my deepest fears.

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.  ~Jim Morrison

On December 16 of this past year, I was called into my executive director’s office at work.  My job had been cut to half-time. The congregation I was working with lost members and our school lost students.  Initially, I was stunned, never had I heard of a Jewish Educator going to half-time mid-year.

Instead of licking my wounds, I started really thinking about what I wanted with my life. Did I want to remain in Jewish Education? Did I want to stay in Tucson or move closer to the water? Could I find a way to focus on ways to grow while also sustaining myself financially.  There was and still is so much to consider.  The questions I was asking myself were endless.

What I had initially decided is that I wasn’t ready to push myself hard to find the ‘right’ position, I needed some time to breathe deeply and consider what I really wanted to do.  And the good news is that while I now had no health insurance, I did have a half-time salary.  Even with everything being strained financially, I was willing to take the time to seek the best working environment for me by deciding what I needed to best thrive in a new work environment.

As the days of my new work situation turned into weeks, and then months, I have been allowing myself the quiet time to figure out what would be next.  I interviewed for new positions and learned how to live with less; I grew angry for what I was enduring and I let the anger go.  I allowed myself to take this journey with few preconceived notions.  I wasn’t sure how I would emerge from where I was; I am still not sure how I will emerge, but I will.

There was and still is a thrill in learning how to live with less and accepting help.  From the beginning, I thought about my needs and wants, my space and how I craved simplicity.  And then my son Aryeh found a job and helped financially.  And then a friend gave me a job as a care-giver for the agency she worked; this allowed me to supplement my income.  When my car broke down, a friend lend me part of the money to fix it and when I was short the rent money one month, it showed up as a gift.  I am still reflecting and learning how to deal with where I am today.

Torrey Pines State Reserve Photo courtesy of David Davidson

Photo courtesy of David Davidson: Torrey Pines State Reserve

The Journey continues. . . .

And then in April or May I learned that the congregation that moved me from Washington, DC to Tucson two years ago could no longer afford me.  Effective June 1st, I was no longer employed as a Jewish Educator.  I had no guaranteed income and I had lost my community.

While I was aware that I could lose my position, I was also hopeful that I could continue working part time as the Youth Education Director.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, the congregation said that they couldn’t afford my salary.  The new reality made it time to figure out the next chapter and quick (or maybe not so quick).

Moving forward is not optional.  Choosing to find light in the dark moments propels me to soar.  Allowing myself time to ask some important questions as I make this new reality work is scary, but feels wise too. With each day, I choose to celebrate the blessings that always surround me. My friends, far and near, have never wavered in their support; the desert mountains and the magnificent skies nurture my spirit even though I miss the ocean.

And in this moment, I am blessed to be working as a care-giver with some amazing people and earlier this week a friend gave me a short-term  freelance job within Jewish education. I seem to be staying afloat for the most part.

Reality 

From the moment I was given my walking papers from the temple, I was forced to look at my deepest fears directly.  As a result, I have always been terrified of not having the money I need to sustain my family with even their most basic needs.  Growing up without healthy food or the clothing appropriate for a girl in the suburbs was hard.   And for the first time in my adult life, I know that I there are times when I may not afford  rent, utilities, or basic necessities.  If something goes wrong, I will not have what I need to make things work.  And yet, I am blessed with friends and a belief that all will ultimately be good.

As a young teenager, my family  didn’t have enough food and the fear of foreclosure was constantly looming. Potential homelessness was a possibility then and now it is again.  And while it would be easier if I lived on the east coast because we do have friends there that would shelter us, my guess is that I have friends in Tucson too.  The beauty of where I am today is that I am beginning to heal from the experiences of my youth; I also realize that I have more tools now.  I understand what it means to thrift shop, borrow, and cook from scratch.  As a child, I really didn’t have the tools to help myself.  And today, I have something I never had before, I have friends and loved ones that are there for me and I am able to find the gifts within the challenges.

I am no stranger to financial struggles, as a Jewish professional (not clergy), I have always just made it financially. And when my children suffered health crises, we sometimes didn’t know how we would afford even their most basic needs. Yet, in the end, all of our needs and many of our wants have always been met often with the help of friends.  For me, darkness always turns into light.

What’s next?

I want to live consciously in all areas of my life.  Being authentic matters whether it is with people, my environment, or the larger world.  My words and my actions should support my beliefs and my spirit.

My foundation is what it is because of the role Judaism has had in my life.  The teachings have given me the wisdom to grow and the room to wrestle. Doors have opened to me because of my many interactions with the social actions of my previous communities.  When one door opens, I often find many other doors ajar.  Some I will go through; some I will not. I am who I am because I listened to the values of my faith and used it as a springboard to move me through life and learning from others.

So now, I have to figure out how to have a career that either nurtures who I am and/or allows me the time to make a positive impact within the world I live.  My hope is that I can do both. I love people and working with people; I also love the idea of working behind the scenes to get things done.  Even though, I have only really worked within the Jewish community, it doesn’t mean that I have to stay there. I have learned so many skills that can take me wherever I go.  I really am looking forward to the next chapter and hoping that it allows me the room to be creative either on or off the job.

My purchases should be mindful of the people and the physical planet I live; my interactions with family, friends, and others should always be sweet and caring.  Living in the world means I have a responsibility for walking gently and lovingly with each step and with each word.  Everything I do matters.

Today, I am considering ways to ignite my non-profit organization, find or create a meaningful work environment, taking time to write, and living into the answers of my many questions.  Today I am fully embracing life.

Each step in this 8 month journey has been scary. Yet it is also exciting to explore what is now meaningful to me and how I will afford my needs for now and into the future.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know that I am trusting the universe and doing what I need to do to move forward.

May today and every day lead us beyond our fears and towards freedom.

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Yesterday, I was asked a great question during a job interview, “What is your favorite movie was and why?” For just a split second, I hesitated on how I should respond. If I was very wise, I could have responded by saying Milk, I was truly inspired by the Harvey Milk story, but that isn’t what I responded. I responded with the truth; my favorite movie is Flashdance.

My goal in each and every job interview is to be as authentic as I can be. So as I blurted out the name of a major chic-flick, I was mortified. Yet ever since I originally saw the movie in 1983, one line in the movie has been a grounding force for me.

“When you give up your dream, you die.”

That one sentence has contributed to me becoming the person I am today.  It sits in my toolbox at all times reminding me to thrive as a human being as I continuously strive to reach for the stars even as I am grounded where I am.  It was this saying that has kept me company at each and every crossroad of my life; in fact it is this saying that has moved me forward even when I should have fallen flat on my face.

Since the moment, I heard these words in the movie Flashdance, I have been making  dreams happen.  Giving up has never been an option.

Here are the five core dreams that have stood inside my soul for the last several decades.

  1. Writing: From the moment I could create stories in my head I have wanted to be a writer. Weaving words together has been a constant in my life since I can remember.   Today I realize that my words really can impact people, so I often share them via my blog.  At the same time, I am also actively pursuing my dream of publishing a book in the coming years.  🙂
  2. Raising my sons with love and compassion: My sons have taught me how to truly live and to be the mother I am.  Still it has been my job to nurture them so that they may emerge into phenomenal beings who are full of love and compassion for themselves and the world around them.  As they reach towards adulthood, I am blessed to see that this dream is happening as I type.
  3. Living Consciously/Walking Gently: Every aspect of the world matters and if I don’t do my part to walk gently and to make a difference for good then I am not honoring the universe and her many gifts. May gratitude course through my veins as I do the holy work of living consciously.
  4. Creating a healthier Israel: I love Israel and struggle with the many destructive actions of her government. My hope and my prayer is that I can work with others so that we see a truly democratic state that can live side by side with her Palestinian neighbors.
  5. Being a warm and positive Jewish presence: Living actively as a Jew is part of who I am.  May I be a person who helps keep Jewish people engaged in their faith and a positive Jewish connection for others.  Sharing my  love for Judaism and the Jewish people is a driving force for me.

Allowing myself to love life as I do happens because I actively engage in making my dreams  come true.  If I didn’t actively engage in making my dreams happen, I would not be where I am today.

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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: Humility

Humility doesn’t mean one is weak, cowering and silent! Humility involves “limiting oneself to an appropriate space, while leaving room for others.” (Everyday Holiness) Being humble does not come from negating one’s worth. In fact, to be truly humble, one must become aware of one’s own strengths and then choose to use those strengths in a positive way.  www.gojcc.org/jewish-life/jewish-values/tikkun-middot/

Humility is being open to the fact that you don't have to do everything.  Sometimes you need a little light from others to open you up.

Humility is being open to the fact that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Sometimes you need a little light from others to open you up.

Sometimes I tend to take up a lot of space; sometimes I am better at walking gently.  What I love about growing older and perhaps a little wiser is that I now appreciate the silence of my voice.  I am becoming happier to listen and happier to refrain from having the last word.  While I appreciate that I have wisdom at times, I also appreciate that I have so much to learn from others.

Humility for me has also meant learning to ask for help.  Over the past few months, life has thrown me some punches.  Asking people to listen to me as I process my sadness, darkness, and sometimes anger has been humbling.  Asking for friends and sometimes strangers to proof my resumes has also been a learning experience.  Reaching out and asking for what I need has helped me to become more aware of both my strengths and weaknesses.  Each step of the way, friends and acquainces have opened themselves up to helping me; I have never felt like I was imposing on them in any way.  I am extraordinarily lucky woman to walk in the world that I do.

Having humility is actually good for my soul.

May each of us have the humility we need so that we may ultimately thrive.

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Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh,

Landing on my feet is not optional; life is a work in progress.  With each step, it is my job to continue the work of nurturing a strong foundation in the midst of life’s storms.  Storms happen. And I get to decide how I will walk through each storm.

Hiking Boots

So while I am in the midst of more transitions, know that I am striving to live authentically by walking gently in the world.  For my dear friends, I ask you to assist me in landing on my feet by helping me to navigate the world.  Believe with me that all will be good and that the best is yet to come.

Today, I was officially restructured out of my position and the reason I took the trek to the desert no longer exists.  Yet I am profoundly aware that there are many doorways offering amazing opportunities, but only after I find them and step over the threshold.  Help me find new doorways, new opportunities.

Remember – there is no option for landing on my feet.

With love and light, Chava

 

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Note to Seeing the Door series:                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Wherever you go, possibilities surround you! By opening both your eyes and your heart, a door will always appear.

Have you ever noticed how many different types of doors exist in the world?  Nearly each and every door leads to an opportunity.  Some doors are physical; other doors are metaphoric.  All doors lead to opportunity.  

Words have power.

Words can heal; words can hurt.  Each of us have experienced the power that can come with words.

Healing with words can be life changing.  Healing happens when you sit across from someone who is hurting and you have an open and loving conversation.  Listening is a key to moving forward as is really speaking from your heart and saying what needs to be said.

Living honestly and walking gently have an awesome power.  As human beings, living in a place of warmth, kindness, and truth creates relationships that fuel our soul.  Personally, I try to spread sunshine with words; it really isn’t difficult.  It just means thinking before you speak and being conscious of the power of both your words and your mood.  If you really take the time to think before you speak, positive interactions will happen.  No question.

The beauty of my dog Maddie is that she loves always with good intentions and never speaks ill of anyone; we could all learn from her.

The beauty of my dog Maddie is that always loves with good intentions and never speaks ill of anyone; we could all learn from her.

Over the past months, I have seen the power of words time and time again.  What I have learned is intention is a powerful tool.  When you share your thoughts about people you know and people you don’t know, the words have the capacity to damage others.  When you do it with the intention of destruction, that is called lashon hara, otherwise known as the evil tongue or gossip.   Chofetz Chaim (a.k.a. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan) describes lashon hara as the potential to be both truth or lies.  Words can hurt; words can destroy; it almost doesn’t matter if they are truth or not.  As time has passed, I am watching lashon hara destroy people and hurt those around them.

The cycle of destruction is demoralizing to everyone that is part of the chain.  Those people that speak it, those folks that hear it and those individuals that the gossip is about. Lashon HaRa has the capability of literally bringing down each and every one of those that are part of the chain.    Sad and true.

Over the years, I’ve found myself contemplating how to handle truth that needs to be spoken for whatever reason.  What I have come up with is that the key to walking gently is to monitor your intentions.  Are your sharing because change needs to occur or are you sharing in order to be hurtful.  I often say what is on my mind, but my intentions are rarely to destroy, to hurt, or to create problems.   My intention is normally how can we move forward.  I really try to walk gently and spread sunshine.  And I am not perfect; I can still be better.

Lately I and many that I care for have become the object of manipulative conversations and slander; I am struggling with this reality.   Why was the Second Temple destroyed? Because of sinat chinam, senseless hatred of one Jew for another.  We haven’t changed as much as I would have hoped since the time of the Second Temple.  We are still in the midst of baseless hatred.  Instead of being reflective and looking at someone’s intentions, we tend to slander them and their beliefs or we spread lies and exaggerations.  Often there is truth in what is being said, but if you don’t look at the complete picture, you begin single handedly hurting communities and people you once valued.  We are all human beings.

As we move towards the High Holy Days and as we reflect on how we hold ourselves as human beings, may we remember to walk gently, trust the silence a little more, and let go of anger a bit more quickly.  May we remember that most of us have good intentions and do the best we can with the tools we have.  Learn to give the benefit of the doubt and believe that most folks have a kindness about them.

What have I learned about how I hold myself as I watch others? I have learned that there is power in silence; I have learned that words complicate truth; and I have learned that I have my own work to do.  Each experience I have with others leads to seeing new doors.

May we all learn to be more silent and believe in the good intentions of the people that exist in our lives.

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