39 Things I’ve Never Told You

I’ve been blogging for awhile now, and most of my dear readers are not personal connections (yet!). You may or may not have explored more of this website and read my brief bio on here. So while staring at my blank screen trying to come up with something to write (yes it happens, a lot!), I decided it’s high time to give you a behind the scenes peek into my life. Why 39 things? Because I’m 39 years old. So, without further ado, here are the things I’ve not told you about myself. 

  1. I was raised in a single parent home- by my dad. My parents divorced when I was four years old. My father ended up with custody of me and my sisters. As a result, I grew up with a distinctly masculine outlook on life. 
  2. I wasn’t born Jewish. I was actually raised what I term Bapticostal. For those of you who don’t know, that’s a mix of Baptist and Pentacostal. I went to the Baptist church every other Sunday with my mom’s family and the other Sundays I attended the Church of God with my dad. I converted to Judaism as an adult with the formal conversion process ending when I was 36. 
  3. I tried to walk away from being an empath. I didn’t know I was an empath- or even what that term was- at the time, but as a child I was highly sensitive. As a teenager I pushed the sensitivity away through hardening myself. It didn’t really work and I was miserable for a long time. When I was introduced to what an empath is I turned back to my natural self. 
  4. I’ve been married three times. Yes, you read that right. I’m 39 years old and I’m on my third marriage. The first ended in divorce, and I was widowed with the second. 
  5. I have no preferred partner type. Between my husbands and other significant relationships, it’s easy to tell that I have a wide variety of things I am attracted to. I definitely don’t have a “type” that I’m drawn to. Age, looks, personality- they’ve all been extremely different from one another. 
  6. My friends range in age from 20s to 60s. I love people with experiences and don’t congregate with just those around my own age. I do, however, have friends close to my own age as well. 
  7. I love clothes, but I’m not that into shoes. I love having new clothes and wearing lots of funky things, but when it comes to shoes, I could be in flip flops all the time and be fine. I actually prefer no shoes at all and I even walk around my office barefoot when we aren’t open to the public. 
  8. I have a 9-5 job in addition to working as a healer and transformation life coach. I’m actually a librarian by trade. As in I have a MS in Library and Information Science. I’m the Director of a small public library in central Pennsylvania. 
  9. If I could make a living from higher education I would. I don’t mean working for a university. I mean as in making a living from being a student. I absolutely love learning. There are so many things I want to study. Alas, I can’t be a professional student. 
  10. I have a very dry sense of humor. 
  11. I’m extremely literal. I often don’t get it when people are joking around. I’m a say what you mean and mean what you say kind of girl. 
  12. I can be more than a little juvenile. I enjoy sophomoric humor. My mind lives in the gutter. 
  13. I broke my arm roller skating when I was four. I was convinced that I didn’t need my parents to hold my hand and that I could skate like my big sister. Whichever parent I was with actually let me try (probably to get me to stop whining) and I went down on my left arm breaking it. 
  14. Although I didn’t have the traditional experience, I’m a sorority girl. Yes, your girl is an Alpha Phi. 
  15. At one time I had dreams of being an actress. I don’t know how that would have worked out considering I have extreme anxiety from being in front of people. 
  16. My husband and I met on Facebook. 
  17. I quit my job and moved from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to get married in 2017. 
  18. Despite being happy in Pennsylvania I am extremely homesick and miss North Carolina with a passion. 
  19. My favorite movie ever is Gone With the Wind. By the time I was 10 I could recite all the lines while watching it. 
  20. I secretly wanted to grow up and be Scarlett O’Hara. 
  21. I’m a fat activist. I believe all people deserve basic human rights and fat people shouldn’t be discriminated against. Also, you can’t tell a fat person’s health just by looking at them. 
  22. I am not liberal or conservative. I’m a Libertarian by political affiliation. I adhere to a live and let live philosophy. 
  23. I am not ashamed to believe in the basic and inherent goodness in people. 
  24. I believe our society can not be changed through legislation but only through education and changed minds/hearts. 
  25. My favorite fiction is dystopian literature. 
  26. I love to sing but I’m really really bad at it. My husband loves to sing and is quite talented. He didn’t believe me when I said I can’t sing. One day I made him turn his back to me while I sang him a song (I was too nervous to have him look at me). When I was finished he turned around and said, “Well, that took a lot of courage.”
  27. While I’m Jewish by religion and identify as such, I don’t adhere to a strictly Jewish spirituality. Ok, you probably could figure that one out, but I do blend a lot of various practices from different traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American practices, and HooDoo. 
  28. I was Senior Class President of my high school. Not that I was popular enough to be elected to anything like that. In fact, I won solely because no one ran against me. When it was announced that I won, some students tried to have me removed by circulating a petition to have me replaced. 
  29. I’m an anomaly in my immediate family. My parents had three children as did both of my sisters. I’m the only childless one in the bunch.   
  30. I can tap my second toe, but only on my right foot. When I have my feet resting on the floor with all my toes still I can make my second toe tap the floor. I can’t do this on my left foot, though. 
  31. I can curl my tongue. 
  32. Despite trying to conform to my family’s ultra conservative worldview, I have always been a feminist. In third grade when all my friends were absent, I spent my play period on the playground alone giving a lecture to an imaginary audience about the urgency of America electing a female President. 
  33. I read everything in museums. Every single word on every single sign in every single exhibit. Take me to a museum and we are guaranteed to be there for hours. 
  34. When I was five years old I wanted to marry Spider Man. 
  35. Sadly I still struggle with worrying about what other people think about me. It’s not as bad as when I was younger, but I do still struggle with this. 
  36. My absolute favorite thing in the entire world to eat is a tomato sandwich. White bread. Duke’s mayonnaise, thick slices of juicy red tomatoes, salt, pepper. It doesn’t get better than that. Yes, I’m Southern. 
  37. I’m proud of my roots. Every single experience I’ve had has made me the medicine woman I am today. 
  38. I have two best friends: my Rebel BFF and my Yankee BFF. Both women mean the world to me. 
  39. My life at 39 is nothing like I thought it would be, but I love it. I can’t say I wouldn’t change anything, because let’s be honest, I totally would. However, I love who I am and where I am. I am content. 

There you have it. Thirty nine random facts about me and my life. I hope you learned something. Feel free to leave a comment on what surprised you the most. 

Book Recommendations

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, and I really want to try some fiction for a bit. I love all kinds of fiction, but I’m really in the mood for some Jewitchy fiction. It’s hard to find because nothing is really labeled that way. So, I have compiled a list of ten books I recommend if you are looking for some Jewitchy fiction. I’ve read half of this list. The other half have either been recommended to me or I have stumbled across them in looking through Jewish fiction lists. If you’ve read any of these let me know what you think.

  1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant- This is the story of Dinah- a woman mentioned in passing as the daughter of Jacob. In the Bible she is a footnote in the story of her violent rape. Here we see her story, and that of her four mothers.
  2. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish– Historian Helen Watt and student Aaron Levy are on a quest to discover the identity of the mysterious “Aleph”- author of a cache of 17th century Jewish documents discovered in a London home.
  3. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker– A golem. A jinni. Both loose in New York City. Need I say more?
  4. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman– Coralie Sardie is forced to perform in her father’s Coney Island freak show. She teams up with Jewish immigrant Eddie Cohen to investigate the disappearance of a young Jewish girl.
  5. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman– Four women find refuge at Masada with other Jews fleeing Roman oppression. Ninety flee there. Two women and five children survive.
  6. The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman– Rachel, a beautiful Jewish girl living in St. Thomas in the early 1800s, has always been a difficult girl. When her husband dies she seizes her own life, and her rebellion has reached new heights.
  7. Henna House by Nomi Eve– Yemen, 1920. Adela is a young Jewish girl facing the prospects of marriage or being torn from her cultural identity. This is the story of a woman, her family, and the rituals that bind them.
  8. Eternal Life by Dara Horn– Rachel made a bargain and 2,000 years later she’s still trying to free herself.
  9. The Ghost of Hannah Mendes by Naomi Ragen– Catherine is desperately trying to encourage her three granddaughters to learn about their roots. Women seeking their ancestors? Pretty witchy.
  10. The Devil in Jerusalem by Naomi Ragen– Detective Bina Tzedek investigates a horrific accident in Jerusalem and ends up caught up in kabbalah, ancient texts, and cult rituals.

Celebrating What Makes Us All Mothers

Today is Mother’s Day, the day we celebrate and honor our mothers and our status as a mother. It is a beautiful day to honor the feminine.

What about those women who aren’t mothers? What does this day mean if your mother has passed away? What about the people who don’t have a good relationship with their mother? What about women whose children have passed away? For many women, Mother’s Day is a day filled with pain, loss, or feelings of just plain being left out or not being good enough.

I’ve heard people tell women who struggle on Mother’s Day to just get over it, that they should just deal with the fact that the women who do so much for us get one day. I am horrified every time I hear this. Not all mothers deserve to be honored, and many women who are not mothers do need to be recognized for their contributions.

While I think it is a great idea to honor the woman who gave you birth if you choose to do that, I think that we all have reason to celebrate and honor the values and nature of women. We need to celebrate what makes women unique. I’ve come to realize that Mother’s Day isn’t just about celebrating mothers. Or, at least it shouldn’t be. It’s a day to celebrate the divinity of women, our natures, and what makes us the creatures that bring life into this world. And all women do bring life into the world- not just those who physically give birth to children. Every woman nurtures something, children (her own or those who are birthed by others), herself, ideas- it doesn’t matter. Women nurture. That is worth celebrating.

What is a mother? A mother is creates, nurtures, builds up, disciplines, and loves her child. If you take out the biological or adoptive factors, being a mother is about a relationship. In this capacity, all women are mothers. Each of us has created something or is in the process of creating something. It doesn’t have to be another human being. We use our feminine nature to provide and gift ideas and project to the world. That’s what makes a mother. So, go out and celebrate the feminine- regardless of your status as a mother or the relationship you have with your mother. You are worthy, and you deserve it!

~Chaya Levana

Embarking on a New Path

We have all heard the saying that when one door closes another one opens. Not only have we heard it, but for the most part, we know from personal experience that it is true. But, knowing something and living it out can be two different things. We can know that better things are coming, but it can still be extremely difficult to give up the old way of doing things. Familiarity breeds comfort. This is something I have been learning this week. (I didn’t start out this blog to talk about what I’m specifically learning, but that’s what it has turned in to the past few weeks!) For the past year and a half I have been working with one of my spiritual teachers. This week I have felt a huge call to stop my classes. This isn’t because I am not learning from her- I am learning so much! Actually, this feeling has been off and on for the past two months and I have continuously talked myself into continuing the program I am taking. 

The past few days have been filled with me seriously having the feeling that I need to move onto a new path. But, there is one aspect of the program that I will really miss. Even my husband, who is not into all the woo that I am has said he doesn’t want me to stop taking my classes. (So sweet of him to support me in this way). I have debated all weekend over whether or not I need to continue. The program I am enrolled in is shamanic in nature and has a strong focus on astrology. Both of these topics are ones that I have wanted to explore more in depth. When I was talking to my husband I told him that I could continue with the astrology on my on through personal study of books (I’m a librarian so I have access to pretty much anything!) But, the shamanism is something that I have really been struggling with because it’s not something I can really learn on my own. I need to learn it from someone else. 

Well, today I was in a class when I learned that beginning this fall, another one of my teachers is going to be offering a two year shamanism program. This program will be one hundred percent focused on shamanism (which is the path I know I’m supposed to be on) and I won’t have to be in a program with information that I don’t need. This isn’t to say I’m not learning from everything in my current program, I just don’t think that it is all what I need right now. And the part that is I can get elsewhere. 

Another positive of the upcoming program is that I can take this program in person. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with online classes. I take online classes and I teach online classes. But, some programs of study are better transmitted in an in person setting where you have physical access between the teacher and the student. Shamanism is one of those things. 

So, I do think that I have my answer and that I need to bow out of my current program. I am going to miss it, but I think that in the meantime between now and when this new program begins I am going to more than have my hands full with this business. I have several new programs that I’m going to be launching over the next few months, and I think that I will be able to use my time to focus on offering ways to help each of you heal and grow as I have been. My program has already been paid through March so I have one last month, but after that, I will be embarking on preparing myself for a new path. 

Choose Your Perspective

Sometimes perspective is everything. You know, how you see something, how it appears to you when you look at it? Perception is not always reality. Recently I saw a photo that reminded me of this. Actually, it was two photos- both from April 2018. The first is of Prince William flipping off the press after the birth of his son, Prince Louis. The second is of Prince William holding up three fingers. You can view them here. In actuality, both photos are of the same moment, one just happens to be from a different perspective.

I’ve had a hard lesson in this over the past week. I have been dealing with some issues in my life that are less than pleasant. In all honesty, they are things that have left me quite miserable and depressed. I’ve never been one to battle with depression, not even when my late husband passed away. But, this winter I’ve really been dealing with it. I know what the issues are, and sadly they are not things that I can control. Anyway, not only have I been miserable and depressed, but I’ve been angry and lashing out at the person who could do something about it. Earlier this week I was almost at the point of breakdown from extreme frustration and hatred.

And that’s when it hit me. Maybe I am to blame. Wait, what? I’m not the cause of my misery. I can’t control the situation that is making me feel this way. It’s not my fault. But, maybe it is. No, I can’t control or change the situation, but I can control how I react to it. I don’t have to let it get me bitter. I don’t have to let it make me angry. And over the past few days I’ve been trying to do just that and change my attitude. I can’t change my situation, and the person who can change the situation has some issues that they are in need of working through. Perhaps if I’m more patient and understanding this person will be more likely to make the necessary changes in their life. Maybe not. But, my whining and nagging about it will not make things any better.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Our ego gets in the way and we focus on ourselves and our own point of view. But, when the ego is in control we are rarely seeing things as they truly are. I am learning that when I feel slighted and wronged I need to act by taking a step back and getting my ego out of the way before I react and things go sour.

Doing the Hard Things

Sometimes you just have to do things that you know are hard. You know it’s going to be painful, but you also know that not doing it will cause even more hurt and pain in the long run. This is especially hard for empathic people because we don’t ever want to cause someone pain- not ourselves and not other people. But, as grown ups we know that there are times that the best course of action, the one taken in love, will cause pain, and that’s when we do it. 

I had to do something like that this week. I have been struggling in my personal relationship with someone I’m close to. Part of my process in healing myself this year is to heal my interpersonal relationships. This person is important to me, and as such, I want to live in clean relationship with this person. 

I have agonized over this relationship for awhile now, because while we are great friends and love one another, this person and I have also been dealing with our own personal issues that have been encroaching on our relationship with one another. I don’t want that and want a healthy and happy relationship. Our friendship is dear to me, and I want it to continue. I knew that I needed to talk to this person, but I also knew that doing so was going to be painful for both of us. This friend does not like conflict, and I’ll admit that I don’t either. But, the fact of the matter is, our friendship has been nothing but conflict lately. While my friend has tried to ignore the conflict by acting like an ostrich with its head in the sand, I couldn’t continue on like that. Even knowing that our friendship would likely end if I didn’t make the effort to talk wasn’t enough to get me going. I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings. And, I knew that by hurting my friend’s feelings I would be causing myself pain, too. 

Finally this week I decided to bite  the bullet. I decided I would talk to my friend. And I did. And it was hard. It was one of the most difficult things I have done in a long time. And it did cause pain and hurt feelings. But, I’m glad I did it. It’s like ripping a band-aid off. You know it’s going to hurt but it will be more painful if you go slowly. 

So, I did it. I caused the pain and frustration and initiated a talk. I can’t say that everything is sunshine and roses now, but at least right now my friend knows how I feel. We have a lot of things to deal with in this relationship if we want to continue being friends, but at least both of our feelings are out in the open. 

And that’s the thing. I can’t promise that everything will be instantaneously great if you do the difficult things. I can’t even promise that they will be great in the end. Things might completely fall apart. But, if that happens then it is meant to be what happened and will ultimately be for the highest good of those involved. A broken and ended relationship of any kind can be for your best good if it brings an end to a toxic relationship that can’t be healed. 

In the end, you can’t force another person to want to heal. You can’t make them ascend to a higher vibrational field. You can only work on yourself. You can do the difficult thing and reach out to work on a relationship, but if the other person doesn’t want to you may need to walk away. It is not easy to do this. It is painful. But by not doing the painful thing you are ensuring you will vibrate on a lower plane. 

 

You’re Not The Right Kind

If you happen to live in a community (or ever have in the past) with a Jewish Community Center, then you know what their slogan is: Everyone is welcome at the JCC. That’s what they say, anyway. I wouldn’t  know. I wouldn’t know because I’m afraid to go to the JCC to even see if I’d be welcome. I’m not afraid to go to the JCC because I’m fat and out of shape and need to exercise. No. That’s all true, but it’s not why I’m afraid to go. I’m not afraid to go because I fear being laughed at for being fat and out of shape. That one’s not true. I’m so past that at this point in my life. No. My fear is much more practical. You see, I’m afraid to go to the JCC because I’m afraid I will not be welcome.

Wait. What?

Yes, you read that right. I’m afraid to go to the JCC because I’m afraid I won’t be welcome. This fear isn’t completely random and unfounded. My fear is grounded in the fact that I am not welcome in synagogues, and if I’m not welcome in synagogues why would I be welcome at the JCC? You see, my fear is logical.

To be fair, I am welcome in synagogues. My husband, on the other hand, is not. He isn’t welcome because he isn’t the “right kind” of Jew. My husband is messianic.

If you’re a Jew this is where you are probably saying, “Hold it. Stop right there. We agree. Your husband isn’t the right kind of Jew. In fact, he isn’t a Jew at all.”

And this is where I beg to differ. He was born a Jew, so he will always be a Jew. A born Jew can be agnostic and still a Jew. A born Jew can be Buddhist and still be a Jew. A born Jew can be anything and still be a Jew because Judaism is as much an ethnicity as it is a religion- perhaps even more so. However, a born Jew can’t be a Christian and still be a Jew.

First of all, this double standard doesn’t even make sense to me. I mean, I understand all the history and animosity between Christians and Jews. I really do. I just don’t get the complete hatred of an entire group of people- especially when it’s Jews who are doing that hating.

I’m not going to get into the whole messianic thing. What I do want to say is that no matter what your views on it are, in the end, why aren’t Jews and messianics welcomed in synagogues as interfaith families? My husband could be flat out Christian and be welcome. He just can’t be messianic and be welcome.

The thing is, if he isn’t welcome in synagogue then I’m not welcome. I refuse to go if my husband isn’t welcome to go with me. It’s not some anti-feminist thing. It’s a family thing. You know, Jews are supposed to be about family? Well, I just want to worship with my family.

As a convert I don’t have a long family history (not even a short one) of Jewish tradition. My days as a Jew began on May 12, 2016 (not including the study and preparation and lifestyle changes that preceded formal conversion). I would like to be active in my Jewish community, but I won’t. Not unless something changes.

I can’t say he isn’t welcome in any synagogue. The Reform temple where I converted welcomes him, but we now live in a different state now. The synagogues here don’t welcome him.

So, I am a Jew- no one questions that. But I am a Jew who really wants to attend services but doesn’t. All I can think of is Hillel. He is known for summing up the entire Torah by saying, “What is hateful to you, don’t do to your companion”. Aren’t we all companions on this planet?  As Jews, don’t we know what it feels like to be marginalized? Why, then, do we do it to others and even ourselves?

As for the JCC, maybe I would be welcome there. Maybe even my husband would be. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be brave and check it out. Somehow I’m not so sure.

Thankfully, as a witch, I can practice my Judaism at home and not feel completely abandoned. Prior to the destruction of the second Temple in 70 AD, Judaism as a religion was practiced at home with certain festivals requiring trips to the Temple. But, aside from those required trips, the religion was practiced in the home with families. It was after the Temple was destroyed and more and more Jews were living in the diaspora that the religious aspects of Judaism began to be focused in the synagogue.

Most witches prefer to celebrate and honor the old ways. I do. So, I am grateful that my chosen religion was founded on worshipping in the home. However, it doesn’t negate the fact that today Jews gather to worship publicly and I would enjoy being able to gather with them. I guess I should just count my blessings. If they were aware that I’m a Jewish witch, then they probably wouldn’t accept me either. Maybe I shouldn’t judge and I should test those waters. I won’t, though.

What I will do is point out that we should all be a lot more tolerant of each other’s spiritual beliefs. In the end, most of our beliefs are the same when they are boiled down to their essential elements. A few days ago I saw a meme which listed the Golden Rule from various religions. If you take the time to study comparative religions you will see that in the end, no matter what deity we invoke, no matter what we call ourselves, no matter where we believe power and change comes from, in the end we all believe that we are the same and are required to love each other. If we all ultimately believe the same thing, why do we focus so much time and energy in trying to tell each other that we are wrong in our beliefs and that if we don’t all believe the exact same thing that some of us will end up suffering for it? I don’t understand.

Perhaps we need to spend some time in some serious soul searching to see if we truly believe what we claim to believe. We have all heard the maxim that actions speak louder than words. Don’t tell me what you believe. Show me. I hope you show me love.  

 

Never Forget. Never Again

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day which commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp and extermination center. 

Do you know how many people died during the Holocaust? Many people are aware of the six million Jews who died. They were not the only ones. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, a total of approximately 20 million people died. That number includes the approximate 17,303,900 known deaths as well as the undetermined numbers of certain groups of people. Who were all of these people?

  • Jews
  • Soviet Civilians
  • Soviet prisoners of war
  • Polish civilians
  • Serb civilians
  • disabled individuals
  • Roma
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Repeat criminal offenders
  • German political opponents
  • Homosexuals

You can read more about this here

I’m going to include here a piece I wrote in November 2015. It has been just over three years and we are still no closer to finding an answer to this question. I don’t know what the answer is. I do know that we must never forget the horror of what happened to 20 million people. I do know that when we say “Never Again” that it is exactly what we mean. This atrocity can never happen again. We must make sure that it doesn’t. And it doesn’t just apply to Jews. While Jews were the largest single group who died in the Holocaust, there were 14 million non-Jews who perished. Never again means never again…for anyone. 

Here is my piece from 2015:

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the #Syrianrefugees issue. I can understand both points of view when it comes to deciding if the USA and individual states should admit refugees. I really can. It’s not an easy decision no matter which way you look at it. On one hand you have innocent people trying to flee hellish conditions just to be able to stay alive. On the other hand, you have a real threat of terrorism from a small percentage of those people. Or at least we have a potential threat.

The one thing that weighs heavy on my mind is something that I’m sure many people get tired of hearing. The Holocaust. This has happened before. European refugees attempting to flee to the USA and being denied entrance. Lest we forget, in 1939, 937 refugees fled Hamburg, Germany for Havana, Cuba aboard the MS St. Louis. When they arrived in Havana, only 28 passengers were allowed to disembark and enter Cuba. The remaining passengers were denied entry.

After leaving Cuban waters, the St. Louis sailed so close to Florida that the passengers could see the lights of Miami. They begged President Roosevelt to grant entry to the US, but he didn’t even respond. The St. Louis was sent back to Europe with 908 passengers. Great Britain admitted 288 refugees and the remainder were admitted to continental European countries. Of those 620 refugees admitted to the European mainland, 532 were trapped when Hitler invaded Western Europe. Ultimately 254 of those people died in the Holocaust.

Two hundred fifty four lives that could have been spared. Think about that. It seems like such a small number compared to the millions of people who died, but 254 more people could have lived. Imagine what their decedents could have done. Decedents who were never born. I know a beautiful woman who lives because her mother was put on the kinder transport to England while her other family members were on the St. Louis. If I remember correctly, they landed in Holland, but were part of those who ultimately died. Just thinking about it makes me cry.

We can not continue to live a life ruled by xenophobia. We have to do our best to make the world a better place. Yes, terrorism is real. Yes, we need to be mindful of those who we allow in our country. But that goes for anyone, not just refugees. 254 people died in the Holocaust because of American antisemitism and xenophobia. Jewish people say “Never Again”. We all should say never again. But we shouldn’t just mean never again for Jews. We should mean never again for all people. I’m not saying we should just admit anyone. But saying refugees should be vetted isn’t enough. We need to have some real dialogue about what can honestly be done, what can truly work. This isn’t the time for ideals. It’s the time for making real choices. Will we continue to repeat the mistakes of the past or will we be better people this time around and do the right thing? I’m not saying what the right thing is. I don’t know. I really don’t. But we have to stop being ruled by fear and start living out compassion and love for our fellow man.

If you want to read more about the tragedy of the St. Louis, please go to this page on the US Holocaust Memorial Museum website.

10 Self Care Strategies

Last week I blogged about being thankful for yourself. You can read that here. One way to be thankful for yourself is to practice self care. I used to think of self care in terms of big sweeping measures such as a bubble bath with flowers or a massage. Those are good things and they are acts of self care. In fact, I had a massage yesterday and it was bliss. Massages are an act of self care that I swear by and make them a regular part of my self love routine.

However, I have found that self care does not need to be fancy. Often, the little things that you do for yourself often make a big difference in how you feel. So, I have come up with the following ten ideas for self care that are simple, every day acts. They don’t cost anything, or don’t have to depending on how you incorporate them into your life.

Pick one of these or all of these. Incorporate some of them into your life and see how they make you feel. If you already do some of these pick some more. The more self care you practice the better you will feel.

Focus on the now. 

Don’t live your life in the past or in the future. Take each moment as it comes to you. Worrying about the past or future only robs you of the pleasure that can be found in the current moment. The past can’t be changed. The future is often not nearly as bad as we worry it will be. Live in the now and face each moment and day as it comes.

Spend time in silence. 

Our brains are over stimulated  most of the time. We have televisions, computers, phones, and a plethora of other devices that are constantly streaming information at us. It’s no wonder that we have a difficult time relaxing. Spend time in silence. Yes, I mean time without talking, but I also mean brain silence. Take time away from the constant stream of information. Quieting your mind will lead to a wide range of positive changes in your body and mood.

Move.

Find some type of physical activity that you enjoy. I am the first person to admit that I hate to exercise. But moving your body does wonders to improve your mood and how you feel physically. I have taken up yoga and it has made me feel so good. I’m not good at it- yet. But I do it. Actually, over the past two months I haven’t been able to go to my weekly class because of my husband’s health issues. I miss it. I miss it more than I thought I would. I knew I would miss the people, but I didn’t know I’d miss the physical activity. I can’t wait to go back.

Meditate. 

This goes hand in hand with spending time in silence. When you quiet your mind it makes it easier to meditate. It doesn’t matter how you meditate. You don’t have to sit with your legs crossed and your fingers touching saying “om” over and over. You can, but you don’t have to. Meditation can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. The simplest form of meditation is being mindful of your breathing. Take slow deep breaths and focus on the inhale and exhale. Do this for as long as you like.

Do things that bring you joy. 

It doesn’t really matter what you do for self care. If it’s something you enjoy than it is caring for yourself. I’ve been under a tremendous amount of stress lately. On top of all that I’ve started writing a novel this month. It is Work with a capital W. In addition to my full time job, and launching this business I’m writing a freaking novel! But I enjoy it. Yes, it’s difficult. But there is a joy I get from disciplining myself to sit down and write something every day. Sometimes I reach my daily goal and sometimes I don’t. But I write something every day. And that brings me joy. Find something you enjoy doing and then go do it. That is self care.

Eat the “bad” foods. 

There are so many people who cut out foods they love because they are bad for them. Carbs. Fat. Sugar. Cholesterol. Whatever. Constantly trying to change what you eat to fit an ideal- even health- brings misery. I’m not saying not to be mindful of your health. Definitely be mindful of your health. But don’t ban entire food groups. No food is bad. Just eat in moderation. Of course, if you have an allergy you have to not eat it. Or, if you eschew certain foods for religious reasons (I do), then I’m not talking about that either. But if it’s a food you would normally eat but don’t because you think it’s “bad”, go ahead. Eat it. Just be mindful of it.

Forgive. 

We’ve all heard the cliche about not forgiving someone only hurts you, not the one you won’t forgive. Or how harboring un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting on the other person to die. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is some truth in all cliches. I’m not saying it’s easy to forgive. I’m not saying you have to forgive if you’re not ready. I struggle with that one myself. What I am saying is that when you choose to forgive someone it does absolutely nothing for them, but it lightens the burden that you carry. Plus, not forgiving someone is living in the past, clinging to the hurt. So, you can’t live in the now and refuse to forgive.

Do nothing.

Yes, that’s right. Don’t. Do. Anything. Set aside some time, be it a day, a few hours, whatever, and do absolutely nothing. Some religions have an entire day that was designed for this. Some people choose to do it while others don’t. But, if you set aside a regular time to do nothing then it helps you to be more productive when you actually get back to doing something. Besides, doing nothing isn’t actually doing nothing. It’s taking care of yourself. And that’s something.

Be spiritual. 

I don’t care if you practice a religion or not. I don’t care if you believe in a higher power or not. Everyone can, and should, be spiritual. Find something outside of yourself that brings meaning to your life. If you find meaning in helping others then go out of your way to be helpful. That is a spiritual practice. If you’re more traditional and follow a religion, do so in a mindful way. Don’t just blindly follow what your religion dictates. Take time to contemplate the teachings and customs. That is spirituality. Finding meaning outside of yourself and connecting to that meaning will bring you an inner peace beyond measure.

Be yourself. 

Above all else be true to who you are. The worst kind of self loathing is derived from trying to fit your life into someone else’s mold. I spent many years of my life rejecting my true self and I was miserable. I was actually pretty good at living according to other people’s expectations. But deep inside my life was chaos. I have physical and emotional issues that I carry to this day that are the result of trying to fit a mold I wasn’t born for. When I decided to be me no matter what I reached a point where I could heal. It’s not easy, but I’m slowly getting there. And I have found that the absolute best self care is to be who I was meant to be.

The Alchemy of Life

I believe in alchemy. Not the literal turning lead into gold kind of alchemy, but the kind that is more esoteric. When I was younger I did believe in literally turning lead into gold. I didn’t tell anyone because I knew that they would think I’m crazy and I couldn’t have that. But, since then, I’ve grown up. In that time, my views on many subjects, including alchemy, has changed.

Alchemy_symbols Blog Ready
Public Domain, symbol key from an alchemical text – Kenelm Digby A Choice Collection of Rare Secrets (1682)

I believe that many of the things we are taught throughout our lives- spiritually speaking at least- are metaphorical. And I believe that turning lead into gold is metaphorical. So what do the lead and gold represent? Us. Our selves. Lead is our base nature and gold is our higher conscious selves. Our lives are supposed to be about transmuting our base nature into an awakened, higher state of consciousness. And that transmutation is alchemy.
The practical daily aspects of how to achieve the alchemical change of our natures takes a different path for different people. It can come in the form of health and wellness, spirituality, religion, whatever. It’s different for each person because each person is different. But that isn’t to say that everyone following these various paths are pursuing the kind of higher self evolution that constitutes alchemy. There are plenty of health buffs who could not care less about their spiritual consciousness. And we all know that if religion in and of itself were the answer then millions of people would have achieved enlightenment. The path isn’t the answer although it is important. The path is the process, but only if you want it to be.

Flamel Blog Ready
Public Domain, The mysterious alchemical figures which Nicholas Flamel caused to be carved on his tomb. Reproduced in “Witchcraft, Magic, and Alchemy” by Grillot de Givry from an old engraving.

The entire purpose for Living Moon Meditation is the pursuit of alchemy. I am pursuing my higher conscious self. Everything here is about alchemy. I welcome you to join me in my adventure.
My name is Chaya Levana, and I’m an alchemist. You can call me crazy if you want to.