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I slept so well last night but woke up with anxiety running really deep. I think I get where it’s coming from, but I’m not 100% sure yet.

Before I even opened my eyes, I decided to seek the wisdom of some cards I had on my nightstand. (See above) I haven’t been doing this practice as regularly as I once did, but it’s a powerful tool for gaining inner wisdom. So before even turning on the light, I picked a card that called to me from Juicy Living Cards by SARK. What’s funny is that I think I may have picked this card one of the last times I used this particular deck – not including a couple of nights before when I felt called to seeking wisdom in this way.

The card I picked makes so much sense. I need to play. . .really play!!! My soul has been painfully aware of the many dichotomies that I live. My calling is wrestling with it’s many parts. My activism reminds me that the work that needs to be done is overwhelming and even scary. And my creative spirit needs so much more nurturing. AND even though my dreams are unfolding leaving me with new opportunities, I need to take care of myself with each breath.

This morning, I am taking time to drive out to the country to look at a retreat center/camp for our upcoming Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom retreat. While I have just begun this journey with my holy Muslim and Jewish sisters, I feel like I am finding a beautiful new rhythm for my life.

Ironically, I don’t have time to play or to nurture new connections, but I don’t have time not to. My soul needs the connections I am building with the Sisterhood and with a new beloved in my life. While I don’t know where any of these journeys will take me or even what tomorrow will bring, I do know that I am need to do whatever it takes to navigate what my teacher SARK calls the ‘marvelous messy middle’.

My life is full. I am just coming off of a writing sabbatical with so much more writing to do. My work is inspiring me to give more and more – not to mention the programming year is beginning this weekend. I am writing a book called, Thriving: No Option. . . . And my activism needs me to show up to the table again and again and again.

The good news is that EVERYTHING I am doing fuels my heart and soul! EVERYTHING I do nourishes me even the hard stuff. As a beloved friend recently wrote to me, “your heart beats for many. We’re all fortunate to have those heartbeats drumming away to heal us, like your djembe does for you.”

And I am tired. . . .tired to the core. This morning, I found myself chanting, drumming a little, writing and excited for what is ahead. I am so looking forward to what’s coming this morning and beyond. Driving out of the country today is exactly what I need. I will have a chance to see my sisters and if I am lucky I will also have a little time for me. In anticipation, I am bringing my journal, some watercolors, and my markers ….

This week has been particularly hard on my spirit; there is so much for me to do and a small health concern I am navigating. On top of it all, I still need to remember to breathe deeply and honor my spirit.

I’m understanding some things about myself that are leaving me afraid. I’m also loving the possibilities with an understanding that it will take time for life to unfold so that I can get to where I need to be. A difficult dichotomy to be sure. And yet, full of hope.

Healing seems to be the message I need to hear because two nights ago, I picked another healing card from the same Juicy Living Cards by SARK:

 

 

The moral of how I am currently walking in the world is:
“The only journey is the one within.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

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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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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Oncoming storm - Chesapeake - Paul Zeitz

Incoming storm on the Chesapeake Bay.    Photo Courtesy of Paul Zeitz.

My Inner Demons have been busy over the last few days. They have been telling me all sorts of harsh things:

  • You don’t do enough for humanity.
  • You need to push harder.
  • You really do feel too deeply.
  • Why can’t you let go of _________.
  • Why aren’t you able to save more money?
  • And so much more. . . .

My journey (always) is to quiet those Inner Demons. Because these demons are a storm raging inside of me that can only become destructive if they get out of control.

Fortunately, they aren’t telling me what they often tell me like:

  • You are limited.
  • You’re so f*cking fat.
  • You are nothing without good hearing.
  • What do you have to give to the world?
  • Why can’t you be more articulate?
  • After all of the writing that you have done, your grammar sucks.

UGH!!

Here is the good news here, I know that these Inner Demons aren’t really helping me nor are they being truthful; they are simply distracting me from being my best me.

These are the voices of my childhood. This is what my mother said every day. Some of this is what the neighborhood boys told me as they bullied me. This is what I heard when I closed my eyes at night.

Silencing those voices has been my life work. As an adult, I have been blessed, but the damage of childhood hell runs deep. I have to keep reminding myself that I am awesome just as I am, but I at times the struggle is real.

On a bad day, my Inner Demons hang close. The most frequent time they visit is when I am having a bad day at work because I have made a mistake or I have a challenging moment with a co-worker or a member of my congregation. Every time a friend decides they no longer want me in their life, the demons visit. Each time a relationship ends with a man that I believed would be part of my life forever, I know that I will spend the rest of my days alone. Who would want a person like me? The biggest challenge comes from tough moments with loved ones. The good news is that I can usually remember that moments happen, but sometimes I forget.  Sigh.

Fortunately,  the Inner Demons only visit me initially when I am feeling challenged, really hurt, or super sad. With some real soul work, I have been able to find amazing tools to help me navigate. Sometimes it is as simple as taking a deep breath and then another. Eventually after enough deep breaths, the demons silence themselves and I accept life’s challenges with a little more ease. I also chant, dance, walk, drum, paint, get quiet, or do whatever I need to do in order to change my childhood and earlier adulthood patterns.  Altering patterns is my work, I am ok with that.

I am a work in progress (WIP).

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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best photo ever!

Writing,
the song of my heart;
the meaning of my mind;
the feeling of my soul; 
Is what makes me WHOLE.

Without writing, I would be nothing. I probably wouldn’t even be alive. Writing is how I have been able to navigate the world, found my voice, and coped with life’s challenges. The only time I am truly whole is when I take time to write.

And yet writing also reminds me that while I am vibrant and alive, I also feel pain a little too deeply. If I am not writing, it probably means that I am struggling with a part of my soul and deeply afraid that the words I write will bring me towards the one-way journey to darkness. And yet again, writing is the only way I have ever been able to nurture my soul towards living.

The gift is the challenge.

Without question, I am so much more alive when I am writing. So what has kept me from over the past months? This is simple, initially I have been struggling with the inner demons that tell me that I am not good enough to bring my stories alive.  And who would want to read my writing anyway. This is something that I may always wrestle with even when I am choosing to silence that I am not worthy or I am not enough.

Fortunately, I did not let the demon voices control me for too long. Instead I decided to take about seven weeks off this summer so that I could focus on my writing. And I have been writing every day since I started. Some of it good, much of it not. I am only now getting into a healthy rhythm and finding my voice with each word.

Over the past several months, I have been pushing through my self doubt by writing my about what I endured as a child in a book that I am currently calling Thriving: No Option. . . In my book, I will share some of my childhood traumas, how I initially navigated them, and how I am thriving onward now. I am also hoping to include the stories of other thrivers who have emerged from traumas, found their footing and ultimately found their wings.

To my knowledge, very few, if any thrivers, start off knowing that they will find a way to soar from whatever traumas they have endured. How can anyone believe that all will be ok when they are in the messy middle of survival. Over time, though, they take one step and then another; they find a way to walk through the world that works for them. And if they are lucky they find a new and beautiful way to live. Some may call this growth, others may call it healing, and I tend to think of this time as a rebirthing.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will disengage more from idle chatter and I will take the time to focus on writing my memoir. I am also making a commitment to sharing a piece of my writing daily on my blog. Whether my book is self published or finds a publisher isn’t really the most important thing to me. What I want is to inspire people and to create a platform for sharing our stories. And ultimately, I’d love to create more healing retreats that can utilize the many tools (and more) that I have used as I have embraced in my own healing journey.

In the words of my beloved friend Rabbi David J. Cooper, I want to end with:
We bless the Source of Life, that we are alive, that we have survived and that we have arrived at this time. (Interpretation of the Shecheyanu blessing which is part of Jewish liturgy.)

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

 

 

 

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“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
― Vincent Van Gogh

Have you ever been paralyzed by taking your first step in something that you really wanted to do? Of course you have, we all have!

Tonight as I was talking to my dear friend Sami (not her real name) when I intuitively felt drawn to share with her that it is time for her to get out of her own way. I strongly suggested that she choose to do‘4 ACTIONS IN 4 DAYS’.

The goal is simple. I suggested that my friend stop allowing herself to get stuck in the ruts. In fact, I specifically told her to stop hugging the ruts. We all do this sometimes; I am no different. For me, my challenge is staying in loving relationships with men that are beautiful, but not available for me on a soul level. This realization has been with me for a while, but it is only over the last several weeks that I have finally found my voice, realized what I had to do, and become empowered to release and heal from my previous cycles.

Creatively, I have also had a few ruts. Some of these ruts include:

  • Fear of painting and sharing my work. For that I started #The100DayProject after listening to the most amazing podcast, The Chase Jarvis Live Show, in which he interviewed Elle Luna. The two interviews that Chase did with Elle Luna lead me to do my own #ActivistCardsByChava. You can google it if you want to see a few examples. Needless to say that this 100 Day Project stayed with me for well over 100 Days AND it has opened several new doors for me.
  • Sharing my writing was really difficult for me at first.  After hearing a professor of a graduate level writing class tell me that I was a horrible writer and that I should give it up, that is exactly what I chose to do in early twenties. And then after over a decade of refusing to write, I started writing again after my second son was born when a few magazines wanted to publish his story. BUT I wasn’t writing with any regularity. That all changed in March 2009 when I started this blog.
  • Choosing to take care of myself has often been one of the hardest ruts I have had to navigate. Today, I openly share my weight journey, track my steps, and reach out to friends so that I can ask for creative solutions for moving forward. Success has come as I have actively embraced my health journey by eating better, moving more, and losing about 85 lbs. I am literally growing into a healthier person.

In my conversation, I suggest that she simply move forward tomorrow by deciding what 4 actions she’d like to do over the next 4 days. For me, I can say that while I may have been thinking about each of these possible transformations for a long while. Once I realized it was time, I didn’t look back. The plans came to me in moments and I simply started taking one step and then other.  I literally opened my eyes and my heart and without looking back I found my way.

The most valuable lesson can be summed up by the wisdom found when Chase Charvis  interviewed his friend mountaineer and philanthropist Melissa Arnot Reid:

Day 15 - Walk up hills slowlsyStanding still will not propel any of us forward. I am so hoping that Sami can find the inner strength to take one step and then another. May my friend and all of us find the actions we need in order to transform ourselves in a way that helps us become more grounded while soaring as human beings.

Onward with love, light, and 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.)

Day 19 - BadassSince February 14, 2018’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida which killed 17 people, I have been both obsessed and inspired by the power of raw honesty.  Those that choose to show up, really show up with their imperfectly perfect selves, are the ones to make a difference. While they may fumble over their words or their actions, it’s their open hearts that will ultimately shine and do what needs to be done so that positive change has the possibility of happening. Without a doubt, I believe only a badass can make this world a better place.

Look at the Parkland students who galvanized an entire country with the “March of Our Lives” Rally in Washington DC, and sister cities all over the country. While they should have been home healing, they consciously took to the road and forced many of us to do the same. But that isn’t all they did. The students were found speaking all over the place!

As Delaney Tarr said so eloquently, “We’ve had enough of thoughts and prayers…To every lawmaker out there: No longer can you take money from the NRA. No longer can you fly under the radar doing whatever it is that you want to do … We are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action.”

Emma Gomez has continued blowing me away each and every time she has spoken including when she said, “Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not.”

These aren’t the only people making a difference. I see people all over the world using their voices, their bodies, their dedication, and their words to stand up in city halls, outside city halls, inside politician’s offices, and wherever they can. So many of us are tired, really tired. I know I am. And yet, we are dedicated to making this our country and this world a better place.

Congressman Beto O’Rourke has been blowing me away as he tirelessly reaches out to EVERYONE in every Texas city/county in his bid to replace Ted Cruz as the next senator of Texas. Let’s talk about a badass. Watching him show his love for ALL Texans is empowering. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz has done his best to refrain from talking to anyone who may have a dissenting vote.

I am in awe of every badass I see. We all need to show up over the coming days, weeks, months, and years. What the political climate has shown me is that we all should have shown up before now, but wow. . .now look at us!!!

What are you doing to make our world a safer and better place? If you aren’t doing anything outside of your day to day and want to, just let me know. I will help you find something. As for me, I am doing my part with Project Lifeline, Door l’Door, and my writing.

Hineini, here I am! Where are you?

Onward with love, light, creativity, & action,
Chava

PS – I’d love your feedback on my blog, my writing, my thinking, and/or my Activist Cards!!! Feel free to like or comment. I will try to respond to all comments to this blog. Input is always welcome.

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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.)

Those that know me, know that I have often struggled to quiet my mind and I still rarely sleep enough hours during the night. Over the years, I have begun to realize that quieting my mind and sleeping are a necessity if I am going to thrive and actively engage in making our world a better place (or be personally healthy at all).

With that in mind, I am learning to savor the solitude so that I can better nourish myself through doing what I love – writing, drumming, chanting, meditation, and now even art. Creating this quiet space has contributed to be feeling more grounded and ready to live out loud and touch people’s lives more consciously.

Ironically, the quiet also seems to be helping me make the space for more sleep in my life; this isn’t happening with ease, but the more quiet I allow for, the more I seem to be able to rest and sleep – so much more than I can ever move.

Day 7 - Homer and sleep

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” ― Homer, The Odyssey

Thanks to an awesome friend, I decided to dedicate Day 7 of #The100DayProject, also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, to the what those of us within the Judeo-Christian tradition think of as Shabbat/Sabbath, a time to simply pause.

May we all take the time to go inward and honor the silence within ourselves so that when we speak our voices will make sense and be heard.

Onward with love, light, and creativity,
Chava

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