The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Rocks Crumble

liveinjoystone
Had an insight today that had me laughing at the perfect absurdity while speaking with my friend Gail Lynne Goodwin from Inspire Me Today.  She had called to offer loving support with the roller coaster ride that has been my life of late,  and we were musing about being adult orphans since both sets of our parents have died in the last 6 years. Since my dad’s passing in 2008 and my mom’s in 2010, I have ridden waves of grief and relief, of missing them achingly and experiencing gratitude that I had them in my life for as long as I did (84 and 86 respectively), of wishing for our daily phone calls and delighting that I don’t need a telephone to speak to them since they are only a thought away. I am also clear that I haven’t allowed myself full permission to feel the myriad emotions that come when parents die. As a bereavement counselor for many years, I know the processes people go through and I have kept my feelings ‘safely’ buried in the service of functioning. We can only keep a beach ball under water for so long before it pops back up. Clearly, I have been attempting to hold several under the surface for a long time and my arms are getting mighty tired. 
I was telling Gail about my mother being ‘the rock’ of the family and among her friends on which everyone leaned and I inherited that tendency. She used to say she had ‘ broad shoulders.” I  used to tell her that rocks crumble and that she didn’t always have to be the one with the answers. I didn’t listen to my own insight and continued to play that role personally and professionally. As I was saying those words out loud, it was then that I had a ‘holy shift moment’ as I considered that the kidney stones I had passed over the weekend were a part of me that were now crumbling, dissolving and being expelled from my body. I relinquish the rock role.
Got the message Universe. I would rather mine for gold than stones unless they look like this one.
Photo credit:  Edie Weinstein

 

Living in the Questions

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Since I don’t have a television, the only times I watch are at the gym, at other people’s homes or (as I am doing right now), in the hospital. Propped up in bed with yet another health challenge. A little more than a month ago, it was a heart attack. Back in November, it was shingles and in September, a knee injury. This time it is kidney stones. One jumped ship on Friday, another yesterday and  a buddy of theirs is still on board according to the ultra-sound I had today. One of the shows I have wanted to watch for awhile is SuperSoul Sunday. In this episode, Oprah was on one side of the microphone and author Dani Shapiro, who wrote a number of books- most recently one called Devotion, which I have not yet read, was on the other. Oprah reflected on a question that Dani’s son Jacob had asked, if his mom believed in God.  “Yes, I believe in God. I believe that there is an invisible fabric that connects us all and that God is here for all of us, for everyone.”  and then she added “He’s watched his mother live in the questions. I brought God into our home by living with the questions, not having to come up with the answers.”

Living in the questions is often challenging for me, since as a therapist, I have wanted to understand what makes people (including myself) tick. I dig and delve into the stories that led them from where they were to where they are now.  Not so much so I can know ‘why,’ since that is a useless question. The answer is sometimes ‘because’. It is more a function of recognizing that answers are sometimes there. And as a therapist/teacher/author, I feel responsible for helping people discover them.  Living in the question implies a broad sense of trust that no matter what happens, we are safe and held. I am able to go to that place sometimes, but still struggle with total surrender.

I am in such a place at the moment. Waiting for the doc to sign the discharge orders to spring me from this joint. More changes afoot with this stay. Alteration in diet, meds and mindset. Feeling and being. Human and vulnerable. Allowing for emotions to flow instead of toughing it out. Letting people take care of me. Accepting love and not just giving it lip service.

Living in the question means I may never know how these medical conditions manifested in my life. I can make an educated guess, that stress and co-dependent caregiving had something to do with it. I can imagine that repressed grief over my parents’ deaths in the last few years contributed. Poor sleep, emotional eating, pushing myself beyond my limits are markers as well. Some could say that they are metaphors for a need to receive and let go.

Regardless of whether I will ever be certain, I am called on to live in ‘the just don’t know.’  May I do it with greater ease and grace every day.

Photo credit:  ? by orsorama/everystockphoto

 

Power to the Peaceful

 

 

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I was a child during the Viet Nam War. Images of destruction, napalm, death, protests, tears, verbal and sometimes heated physical altercations between those in favor of the conflict and those opposed to it, streamed across our television screen daily. War never made sense to me, even though my father had been a vet of World War II and the Korean War and some of his favorite shows were Combat, McHale’s Navy,  Hogan’s Heroes and M*A*S*H; the first a gritty depiction and the others spoofing and comedic. Although he was not gung ho about war, he felt that sometimes it was necessary. I had my doubts.

In my head, I can hear the lyrics  from Edwin Starrs’ song “WAR…what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!”  Since the beginning of time, people have justified taking lives because they have felt threatened by the beliefs of others or desiring what other people have. As a species, we haven’t yet learned how to play nicely in the sandbox without throwing sand at the other kids or stealing their shovel and bucket and hitting them over the head with it.

In 6th grade, our Friday afternoons were filled with music as we had what were then called Hootenannies.  Guitar and voices rang out. Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary and Woody Guthrie tunes were staples. One of my favorite was Where Have All The Flowers Gone?  which followed the thread from love to death at the hands of war and weaponry. When we take a look at the toll war takes on families on any sides of the battle, it is astounding. Each can justify action taken in the name of God, ‘right’, political gain, ideology or who fired the first shot.

Another blast from the past musical exploration of the impact of the Viet Nam war is the musical Hair. A chilling interlude comes at the end when one of the characters takes the place of another and enters into the ‘belly of the beast’, paying the ultimate price.

In my work as a therapist who has counseled vets with PTSD, one in particular remains with me. I can see this man’s face in front of me now. He had been compelled to seek treatment, since in flashback mode, he had assaulted a family member, believing she was the enemy. Tears in his eyes, he explained that as a medic, part of his job was to pick up body parts. He had taken lives in the jungles ‘In country’. “I was a healer and the army turned me into a killer,” he shared, in lucid moment. I could do nothing at that point, but cry with him and pray for his healing.

A few years ago, I discovered the music of a an activist/yogi/singer-songwriter named Michael Franti  who took it on the road to war zones throughout the world, guitar and video camera at the ready. What he discovered is that there are people who do desire peace and reconciliation. His song called Bomb the World has the profound lyrics “We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace.”

Each of us has the power to be peaceful, to live in a manner that does no harm to ourselves or the world around us. I am convinced that we feed the collective soup pot with our thoughts that are either divisive or unifying.  We can choose love or fear, war or peace.    I Choose Love

In my yard is what is called a Peace Pole which is an obilisque that has the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” inscribed on all four sides. It stands as a testament to what I hold sacred.

Photo Credit:  Peace in Mongolia by ohinsanity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heart Song

guitar

 

Lately, I have been more acutely aware of the connection between the cardiac muscle that keeps blood pumping through my body and sustains this corporeal existence and the emotional center that has made my thus far, more than 55 years on the planet worthwhile. Going on month two of my new life, post heart attack. Moving still at times, with Zen-like slowness, I am not allowing experience to zip by like scenery through a car window on a cross country road trip. Instead, I am taking notice of the most minute details of conversations, breathing in the meaning of words. Speaking more softly, of necessity, since breathing, walking and talking require intention at the moment. Becoming more yin and less yang, which had been skewed in the other direction before. I thought I had to move heart-forward, wearing it like a shield, because, I reasoned that if people could see it, like the big S on Superman’s chest, then they wouldn’t have to guess who was standing before them. The good news is that it brought friends, readers, clients and students into my life. The bad news, is that it had me believing that I needed to keep putting out, reaching out, striving, and efforting in order to maintain those relationships. Just as blood doesn’t flow one way in the physiological heart, neither does love flow only one way in healthy and sustained relationships.

Sadly, I have needed to step away from relationships in which it seemed that there was way more going out than coming in. The hope is that there will come a time when the parties involved will be willing to invest their hearts in our interactions and I welcome them back in. Since I have been in receptivity mode, I have witnessed huge changes in terms of the flow of good in my life. New people, opportunities to travel, teach and write, as well as  deeper spiritual exploration, arrive daily. Sleep, blessed sleep, has been a more frequent visitor, whereas a month or so ago it eluded me, playing hide and seek.

As I was packing up my office to leave a job I had for the past two years, I found two quotes that inspired me then and even more now.

“Everything in my life responds to the song of the heart.”-Ernest Holmes

“Every single day, do something that makes your heart sing.”-Marcia Wieder

This morning, as I was up before dawn, I am in awe of the music of life-not just the birdsong outside my bedroom window, but the bunny who huddled on the lawn, the tunes emanating from the radio, the awareness that my heart is beating rhythmically and propelling me out into the day in which I will interact with new friends and expand my world that much more.

 

Photo Credit:Tremulo

 

 

Previous Posts

Rocks Crumble
Had an insight today that had me laughing at the perfect absurdity while speaking with my friend Gail Lynne Goodwin from Inspire Me Today.  She had called to offer loving support with the roller coaster ride that has been my life of late,  and we were musing about being adult orphans since both se

posted 7:06:56am Jul. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Living in the Questions
  Since I don't have a television, the only times I watch are at the gym, at other people's homes or (as I am doing right now), in the hospital. Propped up in bed with yet another health challenge. A little more than a month ago, it was a heart attack. Back in November, it was shingles and i

posted 2:27:43pm Jul. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Power to the Peaceful
      I was a child during the Viet Nam War. Images of destruction, napalm, death, protests, tears, verbal and sometimes heated physical altercations between those in favor of the conflict and those opposed to it, streamed across our television screen daily. War never

posted 8:52:13am Jul. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Heart Song
  Lately, I have been more acutely aware of the connection between the cardiac muscle that keeps blood pumping through my body and sustains this corporeal existence and the emotional center that has made my thus far, more than 55 years on the planet worthwhile. Going on month two of my new l

posted 6:07:50am Jul. 18, 2014 | read full post »

To Live Significantly
      Many years ago, one of my college friends named Gina Foster had relayed a bit of wisdom that I treasure. She said that she endeavored to "live significantly," and that she does.  I knew instantly what she meant and agreed that it was my mission too. It isn't about

posted 9:52:42pm Jul. 16, 2014 | read full post »


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