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The Bliss Blog

internationaldayofpeacedove

 

Today (September 21st) is International Day of Peace, as was established by the United Nations  General Assembly in 1981 as a way of bringing people of all cultures together. In these tumultuous times, peace is not merely a concept, but a necessary tool and a means of sustaining life on the planet.  We no longer have the luxury of denial that each of us has a responsibility to ourselves and the next generations to think, feel and act in peaceful ways. One need not be a tree-hugging, crunchy granola eating hippie like I am to also be a peacemonger. A few years ago, I had an encounter with someone whose values and political affiliation was across the aisle from my own. It took a great deal of soul searching to see this man’s worldview as being as valid to him as mine is to me. Doesn’t mean I need to agree with it, but that I needed not to pick up arms and go head to head. Instead, I decided to go heart to heart.

On any given day, events occur and people cross our paths in ways that trigger anger and frustration; both aspects of disappointment when our desires are not fulfilled. We are habitual creatures and may have no initial control over the catalyst for our emotions. It is when we make a conscious choice about whether to sustain that state of being, that we experience freedom and a sense of serenity. Many’s the time when I had to be mindful of what energy I was putting into the collective soup pot before stirring.

On a day that highlights the importance of unity, I invite you to take a moment to consider ways to embody peace. For me, it looks like breathing consciously, slowing down when I am tempted to speed up. It means deciding whether each action I take is of benefit to the world and not just me. It calls for bringing people together instead of splitting them apart and helping others find harmonious solutions.

I see my intentional, consensual, nurturing touch work as a Hugmobster Armed With  Love as part of my peaceful purpose.  What is yours?

roshhashanah

In a conversation today about the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we were reminiscing about our childhood experiences, the foods (being a gastronomical as well as spiritual Jew) and the rituals. She mentioned a dish called kasha and bowties that my Russian-born Bubbe (grandmother) used to make. For those who have never tasted this delicacy, it combines buckwheat groats and bowtie noodles. Weird kid that I was, I would douse mine with ketchup. If you want to be authentic, you would mix in chicken fat (a.k.a. ‘schmaltz’), but for those who have vegan sensibilities, this alternative recipe of Kasha Varnishkes (another name for the comfort food), calls for vegetable stock instead.

I plan on making it tomorrow night for the dinner that ushers in Rosh Hashanah, which is also called The Jewish New Year. As September rolls around, I begin thinking about the family legacy of Judaism and the ethical practices it implies. It is a contemplative time; an opportunity to go inward and take inventory, as one would in addiction recovery (a staple of the 12 steps). I like to think I do this every day, but at this time of year, it feels even more important. When I glance back over my shoulder at the previous 12 months,  I recognize the leaps and bounds growth I have experienced, the extraordinary people I have encountered and the challenges I have overcome. I take note of the ways I was true to myself and my values, as well as times when I was inauthentic. I let myself both feel and hide my emotions in the service of avoiding pain. When I did that, physical symptoms reminded me to take heed and make necessary shifts in perception and change in behavior. I came clean with folks where there was a misunderstanding. I asked for forgiveness and made amends and was offered the same. I deepened my spiritual practice. I got all kinds of stretchy in my personal and professional life. I let myself love and be loved in ways I feared doing in the past.

I am gazing out the window of my second-floor office (feels like being in a tree-house) at the turning gold and brown leaves on the branches and considering the change of seasons. The dancing leaves seem to feel no trepidation about spiraling downward and potentially swept upward by unpredictable wind currents. Would that we humans be that free and trusting.

I also consider this time of year a grand chance to push a reset button. I know I can’t take back anything I have said or done that I regret. It is like attempting to stuff a bunch of wayward feathers into a pillow from which they had escaped. I do have a choice about the trajectory I want my life to take, and so do you.  Even if you don’t celebrate this holiday, you too can choose to re-evaluate your life and the path you decide to meander down.

L’shana Tovah…wishing you a sweet New Year.

 

bubblesgalorehugs

A few months ago, I decided to take another stretch as I love to do and signed up for a 5k in my area. Dubbed The Bubble Run, this event is non-competitive with zero, (did I say zero?), time clocks. Everyone is a winner. Babies in strollers and snugglies, as well as toddlers, teens and seasoned people like myself and those on the high side of 70, strolled, rolled, trotted, sauntered, danced, skipped, ran and full-tilt boogied through the three-mile course to the sound of the music played by DJ Steve whose way cool job it is to follow the bubble trail cross country. Why is called The Bubble Run?  At points along the course, wafts of iridescent soapy orbs cascade down upon willing revelers, splotching white t-shirts with multicolored tie dye pizazz.

A few things I loved about the experience:

  • It is for a good cause. Each city where they are held chooses a charity to which the proceeds go. Ours was Emiliana’s Hope, which is dedicated to the memory of Emiliana Rose O’Brien whose life was cut short at age 13 in 2015 by an osteosarcoma. Her family decided to give meaning to her passing by creating this 501c3 non-profit organization. Check out the website and see how you can get involved.
  • It is light hearted and playful. This Bliss Mistress had tremendous fun anticipating and engaging in it all.
  • I was delighted that the demographic included people of many cultures. The only color that mattered was that coating our clothes, hair, and skin. Would that those who spew hate come to accept that.
  • Families got to spend quality time together.
  • I am not a runner by nature since asthma has made it challenging to keep up the pace and yet this race (which is really a misnomer, since speed isn’t important) was easy to complete. It was also an ongoing part of my cardiac rehab since having a heart attack in 2014.
  • My much more athletic friends (some Iron Man triathletes, cyclists and marathon runners) cheered me on in advance and in absentia. I could feel their ‘you can do it,’ encouragement. One sent a pre-race message this morning that read: “Best wishes in your race today. Go out nice and easy so you don’t tire yourself out and mostly just enjoy it – after all you’re getting a free bubble bath out of it.”
  • I decided to make the experience more pleasant for myself and hopefully for others there by doing my FREE HUGS thang. When people connect heart to heart and hug to hug, otherwise strenuous activity becomes more flowing and fun. Hug highlights: A 3-year-old little girl kept following me and running up for hugs. Teenagers young enough to be my kids swarmed me; some covered in bubbles that we smooshed all over each other. A man who towered over me telling his friends, “That was a reaally good hug, she knows what she’s doing.”  I reminded him that I have lots of practice. Others approached me upon seeing my sign and we hugged it out with zest.
  • I left with a feeling of accomplishment as I sloshed my way back to the car, bubbles clinging to my legs and running shoes that, themselves got quite a workout.

My heart is full! <3

Upcoming Bubble Run events can be found here.

 

hurricane

As I am writing this, thousands of people in the Carribean have lost power, water, and homes. Even more devastating, they have lost whatever sense of safety and security they may have once taken for granted. Such is the case with all forces of nature that are unpredictable and beyond direct human control. As Irma is bearing down on South Florida, my mind spins back to August 24, 1992. Twenty-five years ago, I was hunkered down, like many in South Florida as the whirlwind that was Hurricane Andrew came whipping through. My husband and I had purchased our first home in Homestead, close enough to the air base that we could see planes take off and land, something our newly adopted (then five-years old and now 30) loved to watch. A few days prior to the storm, he had flown up to the Philadelphia area with Adam so he could meet Michael’s family. In conversation, I asked if he thought I should drive up to Ft. Lauderdale and stay with my parents. His comment was a reminder that it was so unpredictable and that storms often veered off in a different direction. As the time approached that it was expected to make landfall, we both decided that it was the better part of valor for me to head northward. I didn’t take the precautions that people were advised to do, such as boarding up the windows and putting water in the bathtubs. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway since the roof was swept off and the ceilings fell down into both bathtubs. I laughed afterward that in preparation for their return, I cleaned the house and shampooed the carpets.

It was one of the longest nights of my life, as my parents and I were glued to the television, watching the meteorological mayhem play itself out. Even though we were not in the direct path as was our property, we could feel the condo shaking as if it was inside a snow globe, with pummeling rain and flying debris replacing the fluffy white stuff. When morning came and we saw what the air base and the Cutler Ridge Mall looked like, we were certain that our rancher had sustained severe damage as well. As a few days passed before we could return, my anxiety rose since I didn’t know what I would be walking into. My parents and I drove to the neighborhood where downed wires and remnants of buildings, cars, and trees littered the streets. I found myself feeling grateful that I hadn’t needed to endure the sound of the wind gusts that barreled through. My only regret was that when I went to my parents’ home, taking the dog with me, I had left the cat and rabbit there since I had not anticipated the intensity of the storm and by the time I realized that it was bigger than I imagined, it was too late to go back and get them. My mother had to talk me out of going since she felt I would be trapped there. Blessedly, they were both safe; the cat had hidden under a piece of kitchen ceiling tile that had fallen on the cabinets and the rabbit was in his cage. I’m sure that they were both traumatized and were pretty glad to see me when I rescued them and brought them to my parent’s place.

When Michael returned a few days later once the airports opened again, we went through the arduous task of sorting through what we could salvage and then claiming losses with our insurance company. In the meantime, we all stayed in Ft. Lauderdale until we could decide our next steps. Ultimately they led us back to Pennsylvania where I remain. Michael died in 1998 and I am still in the same place we bought following the hurricane. It took awhile for me to able to hear the sound of high winds without shaking or experiencing flashbacks of that traumatic night.

Now, when I saw the damage wrought by Harvey (I have friends in Houston who safely weathered the storm) and I see what Irma has done and may yet do in Florida (I have friends there as well; some have evacuated and others are staying put), I pray intently  that the storm head itself out to sea where it can do no harm. There are some who say that we humans either have no power to change weather patterns with our intentions, or we have no business even trying to do so since we don’t know what the outcome would be.

I have decided to pray for the safety of those in its path and that as little harm as possible be done. Of course, I would like it to steer clear and have seen meteorological miracles occur. Anything is possible.