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best photo ever!Awakening

Opening my eyes I found:
my spirit soaring.
my heart beating strongly.
my entire being at peace.

The universe has been waiting for me.

With the patience of a lover, she kept calling me from the distance and waiting. . . always waiting.
Beckoning me to breathe a little more deeply
Inspiring me to honor my own rhythm
Asking me to listen to the silence
Empowering me to release what no longer serves me

And I listened. Hineini, Here I am!

***** ***** *****

Yesterday I returned home from the most amazing spiritual retreat I’ve had in over a decade.  After spending nearly five glorious days and nights in South Padre Island at the home of dear friends, I feel more grounded than I have in years.  Sacred time nestled between the Gulf of Mexico on the east, and Laguna Madre on the west was truly a gift in every way.

From the moment I got to my newly found oasis until the moment I left to return home, I felt at peace with the land, the water, the sunrises, the sunsets, the wind, and even the cool weather. I relaxed, I created, I took long walks, and I rested. I felt the sun warm my soul while my friends nourished me in every way.

For so long, I have needed to allow my rhythm to be my guide. I needed the quiet and to put down my ‘to do’ list. I needed to feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin. I needed long walks, awesome food, and love. It feels like forever since I allowed myself to decompress the way I did.

I even took time to watch AWESOME movies, become inspired by some of the most thought-provoking TED Talks. I know my friends wanted to show me the dolphins, the local birds, but all I needed was the water, the sun, and the time we had together.

sunset - bayNext time I need to soar, may I remember to take the time to ground myself with nature, with friends, or if I am lucky – with both. I am so lucky that the universe beckoned to me and that I listened.

South Padre Island nurtured me on down to each and every one of my cells. My heart feels a little more whole, my spirit feels more grounded even as it soars, and I feel ready for the rhythm of the next six or so weeks. I needed this sacred time so that I could refuel for all that is ahead!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,

Chava

 

 

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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.)

As an educator and an activist, I plant seeds as often as I can. I put a lot of attention into learning so that I can share my knowledge. This seems to have become my life’s work in a multitude of ways.Day 8 - Plant Seeds

Change can only come when we give from our hearts and when we do the work that makes it possible for the seeds to sprout and eventually flourish. The work is great, but the potential is endless.

May we all find ways to plant seeds which will ultimately make a difference in our family, our community, or/and our world. And while we are at it, let’s make sure we take the time to shine our light and water the seeds too.

Onward with love, light, and creativity,
Chava

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Egypt to the Promised Land or from Slavery to Freedom. On many of these days, I will share my reflections via my blog.

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.

~ ~ ~

The days leading up to Passover are often crazy with anticipation, angst, and joy. I love Passover; this year was no different. The most exciting thing about this year is that although I felt all the angst of what needed to get done, I also felt ready. I didn’t feel the sense of overwhelm that comes with having 15 – 22 people per  seder (Passover meal). And this year seemed to be the year for health challenges to keep taking our guests. Still it doesn’t matter if I am prepping for five people or 20 people, prepping for Passover takes work.

As the holiday was approaching, I was ecstatic. . .I was in great shape. Except that I forgot one very important step. I didn’t go inward. I didn’t take the time to reflect on how Passover usually inspires me on my own growth journey. Instead, I focused on prepping my house for company and the upcoming seders.

On Thursday, all of that changed when I slipped and landed on my tailbone as a tabletop fell on my head/neck. While I felt really sore I was amazed that even this didn’t upset me too much. I was functioning at a slower rate – yes. But, I was in good shape with what I had accomplished prior to the accident and I was blessed with a couple of extra hands to help in the final day’s preparation. So I went inward, just a little bit. I allowed myself some extra time to breathe and move a little more slowly. In truth, I had no choice.

Now let’s jump ahead to the end of the seders. While I LOVED our first seder and thought our second seder was good too, I was totally wiped after the second seder and it showed. So my company told me to go to bed and they cleaned up along with my sons. Yay.

Omer - Day 2 - water

L’Chayyim – To Life!!!

At about 2 PM, I woke up and found myself in awe of where I was. For about 30 minutes, I sat up in bed and drank a lot of water and realized that I didn’t have a plan for how I was going to take my Omer Journey this year.  For me, the journey is about ridding myself of the toxins in my life and consciously deciding to move forward in a very real way.

(Note: I had signed up for a Counting the Omer to Fitness with with Rabbi Howard Cohen. So while I wasn’t 100 % reflective, I did have a fleeting thought about the journey.)

As I sat there, I was happy to be drinking my water. Isn’t drinking water part of the cleansing process? In general, I know that if I am taking the time to drink lots of plain water, I am doing some good self-care. At that moment, I was proud of myself. And then it hit me, I needed to come up with a plan for flushing some of the toxins and/or schmutz out of my life.

Within an hour of that time, I was totally releasing the toxins. In fact, for the next 15 plus hours, I was hanging out with my old friend the porcelain goddess or sometimes it was a simple trash basket. Let’s just say, I had plenty of time to release the toxins and to feel sorry for myself too.

Early in my stomach bug, I was blown away by the timing of it!! Didn’t I just say that I needed to release the toxins from my body, my mind, and my soul? As the hours wore on, I was acutely aware that my journey had begun. I had no choice, but to listen.

Approximately thirty hours since the release began, I am feeling myself on a de-cluttering mission. I want to rid my yard of unwanted weeds, overgrowth, and weight. I want to clear my closet and home of things I don’t need. I want to take time to reflect on how to make some of my friendships healthier and more vibrant than they have previously been. Finally, I want to keep what is good and let go of that which doesn’t work any longer.

And let’s not forget the Thursday’s klutzy moment, I want to move a little more slowly and breathe a little more deeply. Accidents often happen because we are trying to do too much and to do it too quickly.

The Counting of the Omer is the perfect time to go inward and do a little self-care. Leaving Egypt so that I can ultimately find the Promise Land will take some work. Basically, I get to embrace the good parts of my life by better taking care of me and releasing that which doesn’t serve me.

L’Chayyim, To Life – Time to drink a lot more water. 🙂

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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December 2016 - looking out into waterNote: 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)

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This weekend has been wild. Seriously wild. Our family had to do so much to prepare for a short term guest that had the capacity to destroy our sacred space. I am sure you have had guests like that.

Anyway, our visitor is/was none other than Hurricane Harvey.

We had to do so much to prep for his visit. We had to purchase the perfect foods, sandbag our garage so that it wouldn’t flood as it normally does when the rain comes pouring down on Houston. We also had to gather our most important documents and collect things upstairs that we wanted to keep safe.

The stress was tremendous because car trouble had taken my excess money. Money is always tight, but natural disasters, health challenges, and car trouble are three things that remind me of how difficult it is to navigate life’s expenses. And my sons and I have had all three – again and again – over the last few months. Regardless of how much we struggle financially, we still had to prepare for our guest. His timing may have not been the best, but he was expecting to make landfall on Shabbat whether we wanted him or not.

To say, I was overwhelmed is an understatement. AND yet, I was also acutely mindful of how fortunate I am. We have a home, important documents, and what we need. And when I was deciding whether my sons and I would stay or go, I had friends offering me money, hotel points, their homes, and wisdom/insight. I even had a friend let me know that she has a basement that she is willing to open up to my sons and I on a more permanent basis if needed. I had this amazing village that lifted me up and created a safe container.

As a side note, it was the love that was flowing from old friends, new friends, and even social media friends that sustained me when despondency threatened to take over. As someone who doesn’t remember a lot of love as a child, I sometimes have a horrible default mode that leaves me spiritually untethered and feeling alone. But waking up to a sweet text from a beautiful childhood friend helped me re-focus the despondency; she offered to send me $500 so that my family would seek higher/safer ground. Wow.

We decided to stay home, but the offers of help continue to come. I am awed by the love that continues to flow. AND I am keenly aware that even when I become overwhelmed, I have friends that are there to be program managers, supporters, and listeners.

Maddie out backAnd since before the rain started to fall, we have barely gone an hour without a call, a text, a Facebook message asking if  we were doing ok. How beautiful is that?!?!?! And on a bit of a silly note, when I went on Facebook requesting “the best rain and water songs”, I received nearly 60 responses with suggested songs in a couple of hours . 🙂

Over the coming days, I will add more insight that I have received from this experience, but for now I want to take note of what it means to be a beloved friend. My family is truly surrounded by extraordinary souls.

During this time of Elul, I am charged with remembering to be loving and full of light like the village that surrounds me. I wouldn’t be the woman I am if it weren’t for the love that flows so freely within my world.

Sending love, light, and insight,
Chava

 

 

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sugar1As soon as my eyes opened this morning I realized two important realities.  The first one was that I am starting to sleep longer hours then ever before; yay! And second, I am feeling really good about taking control of my life again.  Taking sugar out of my diet is really just a start.  With this one step, I am also seeing a few more changes in how I am walking in the world.  I am:

  1. believing I can be a really healthy woman.
  2. not stressing over momentary lapses of forgetfulness.  Did you know that lemonade has sugar? 😉
  3. listening to my body more.  When I need to rest, I am allowing myself to do so.
  4. not drinking enough water or eating healthy enough foods throughout the day.
  5. enjoying having herbal teas at coffee houses.

The bottom-line is that I am finding new norms for how to handle stress and exhaustion.  I am not grabbing for sugar, so I have to find substitutes.  Herbal tea is great! Yesterday I had two cups of a peppermint-chamomile tea that was amazing.

The journey to health and eliminating sugar is not easy, but it is the right thing to do!

With light and blessings, Chava

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Coming to Tucson was bold for me, perhaps even crazy.

With each day I am finding out more about myself.  Some things I like; some things I like less.  Mostly I am learning to acknowledge that life as I knew it is different, not necessarily better or worse, just different.  I am also learning to accept the dichotomies of each and every reality.

My goal in coming here was to be the best educator I can be; I want to soar and to bring light to my work.  I also want to improve my writing and nurture my creative soul.  My art, my writing, my healing work. . . .over the coming years I want to soar in every way.  Mostly, I want to create a place that I can call home.  I crave a spiritual sanctuary and a way of life that inspires me.

Each morning, I wake up grateful and aware of that I am in a time of rebirthing.  As my eyes open, I find myself acknowledging that while I am a very strong woman, I am also more vulnerable than I have ever been in my adult life.  I have little support and too much to do! My friends are too far away, but I am making friends nearly every day.  I travel the roads around Tucson, but I am having trouble navigating out of the city; everything I do is in Tucson and my soul yearns to be out of the city.

And then there is the fabulous house I am renting.  Wow. . .I am really lucky and yet I am so ill equipped for taking care of it.  Somehow the dishes get done, the laundry too. . . but the floors, the garden always seem to wait.  With each day, I am learning how to manage and I am looking forward to 8 -10 months from now when I can find a smaller home or maybe even dream of buying a home (probably not for awhile longer).

The desert landscape makes me want to cry each and every day.  “How great is your work, oh God, how very deep are your thoughts!” Psalm 92:6.  When I look to the mountains, I know I am home; for now I am finding myself and creating a new foundation.  Today I worked in my yard; I have so much to learn.  And with each action I am doing, I am finding myself calm and centered.  Raking and mowing, weeding and pruning are so profoundly meditative.  I can’t believe I like it, but I wish I wasn’t such a novice.

The one thing that blows me away is the amount of water I am drinking.  I sure do seem to need the hydration.  In my imagination, I believe that I am cleansing my soul and my body with each class of water.  The cleansing sure does feel good.

Yesterday, I took a hike or should I say a stroll that left me lost in many ways.  For those that worry about my free spirit nature, I wasn’t alone this time.  But I was out of shape and ill equipped for a gentle hike at a higher altitude than I have been in a while.  I should be celebrating my life, my health, but instead I am bummed that I am not as healthy nor vibrant as I want to be.  I am trying to keep perspective, I know that I have lost over 60 lbs and managed to keep it off for a year or so.  I also know that I have more to go and I am starting to do it.  The sadness at my lack of physical stamina is intense.  Did I ever really run every day? How could I let my body go? How can I live with the realities of health challenges that made me sedentary?  I want to be vibrant; I want to reach my 50s as a healthy and vibrant soul, but I wonder if it is possible.  Tomorrow I will head out to the mountain alone; this time I will move slowly and breathe deeply.  I will chant and keep moving; I will push myself with each step.

With each breath, I am seeking a stronger foundation; I am yearning to find solid ground and to grow the person I want to be.  As I sit here in the holy month of Elul, I realize that I have made so some mistakes in my life, yet I am striving to surpass them and be a better mother, a friend, and a person.  I want to be the best me that I can be. I always want to be the best that I can be. This is great time of year for appreciating soul reflection.

May each of us explore ourselves as we navigate where we are.

With love, light, and blessings, Chava

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