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The Bliss Blog

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The iconic quote was a clarion call in the 60’s and 70’s to acknowledge the contribution and value of women. It is even more poignant today and was evidenced yesterday.

On January 21, 2017, a historic event took place worldwide with attendance collectively in the millions. On this day, we did hold up at least half the sky. The Women’s March was attended by women, men, and children; from babes in arms and snuggies to elders who have been on the front lines for progressive causes for many decades. One man named Steve was there to march on behalf of the women in his life, including his mother who introduced him to activism in his teens. She has passed and he honors her.

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Initially, I had planned on heading down to Washington, DC for the ‘big march,’ but when I heard that Philadelphia was holding their own rally, I made that choice instead. Excitement mounted for me as the day neared, a counterpoint to the inauguration the day before. On Friday, I didn’t watch or listen to the goings on three hours south of my home. I chose to immerse in self-care by receiving a massage and then spent the afternoon and evening seeing therapy clients.

I boarded the train in Doylestown, PA accompanied by hundreds of others,  as we headed the hour or so down the track to Philly. By the time we got a few stops down the line, the cars were standing room only and shortly thereafter, filled to capacity, so that no one else could board. I sat opposite a man, who cosmically coincidentally was a therapist, like me who was also a professor who trained therapists. He is the father of two young children who were not there with him and his wife this time but had attended other such events. I asked him how, with their social conscience, he and his wife explained the current administration. He shared that from an early age, they knew that people have different views and it is important to honor each other regardless. I asked specifically how to teach children honesty and respect when the current occupant of the White House doesn’t model those behaviors. Again he offered that there are people in the world who don’t live with the same values as their family does, but it is still important to live them.

I met up with friends throughout the day who were there for similar reasons as I. I also carried with me a piece of paper with the names of those who couldn’t be there but asked to be with us in Spirit.

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A few things that got accomplished at the marches today: People felt supported and not alone in their feelings about the future.We were amongst our tribe. It represented the sentiment of many in the country. It gave folks a sense of hope. It put the administration on notice that the people have strong opinions and aren’t afraid to voice them. It encouraged ongoing activism since this is not a one and done event. It showed that peaceful protests can take place. I am guessing that more showed up for these events than for the inauguration. How do you like them apples?

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I was there as a Hugmobster Armed With Love and was blown away by the sheer numbers of people who came together to speak truth to power. Such a blessing to be amidst people of all ages. Peaceful, loving, non-violent, motivating. Now to take the next steps to protect our precious earth and the next generations. I don’t see that as polarizing, but something that people on any side of the political divide could embrace. How ’bout it?

When I was on the train back from Philly to Doylestown, a 3-year-old girl sat next to me. Her parents had brought her to the march. It was so wonderful to see children present since it means they are being taught to love. They are becoming responsible citizens, even at their ages.

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When I ponder my presence and the motivation behind it, I acknowledge that I was there in support of women’s rights/human rights..same thing. I was there in support of healing and reconciliation. I was there in support of future generations. I was there in support of those who had been abused and whose memories were triggered by the misogynist rhetoric being tossed about. I was there in support of the earth which needs our attention and not neglect. I was there in support of those who have no voice. I was there in support of all those who fear to lose their safety, freedom, and rights. I was not there to be anti- anything or anyone.

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Do I wish that the new administration was more progressive and liberal? Sure. Do I wish the president would have a whole mind makeover? You bet.

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I am learning to accept the current reality while working to change what I can. I know that this event today was not a one and done deal. It needs to be a case of being vigilant and outspoken. It feels like a holy obligation.

I made an observation toward to end of the rally that I want to share with you. It was overcast and foggy all day. The mist hovered above the buildings. It mirrored what I had been feeling since the election; a looming and ominous presence. Although the sun didn’t peek out all day, it felt like the collective energy of those gathered kept the fog aloft.

The numbers are staggering. More than one million collectively. I was honored to be part of the Philly 50,000.

If you marched today, why did you join millions worldwide? What was your experience?

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Lately, I have been having mortal thoughts. When we are young, we think we will live forever. It occurred to me that in 2018, I will reach the Big 6-0. Never in a million years did I imagine that my life would be as it is now in primarily delightful and sometimes disappointing ways. I figured that after 18 years widowed, I would have remarried, but instead,  have had short term relationships and wonderful lovers and remain freewheelingly available. Open to the ‘right one’ coming along. It took deep inner excavation, forgiveness of myself and my husband for being who and how we were in our marriage that ended when he died in 1998. What came along with it was soul searching to ask myself what relationship was really all about. In the interceding years, as an interfaith minister, I have married over 300 couples and from them, I have learned valuable lessons. Each one took a meandering path to meet each other. Each one overcame some challenge either before or since coming together. Each one is stronger as individuals and as couples as a result. I anticipate that the day will come when my Life Partner and I show up on the ‘stage’ together. Until that day, I do life, one moment at a time.

I had used my parents’ nearly 52-year marriage as a model for what I wanted but had idealized it to the point that it was a hard act to follow. I had set the bar far too high to hurdle over it. What that meant was attracting people into my life that were almost, not quite, you’re getting warmer teases from the Universe. Each time I would get a wee bit closer, with characteristics and qualities that I valued, but also missing pieces of the puzzle and non-negotiables in the way. I told myself I was ready, but clearly, I wasn’t.

In 2010 or 2011, I had a session with a grounded Mystic; a psychic, someone who had not met me and knew nothing about me when I sat down at her table at an expo. The mini session began with her telling me that I wasn’t going to be in a relationship anytime soon, but that I wouldn’t lack for lovers. She also said, “Your relationship will be with your Muse.” At the time, I hadn’t thought to ask her if she meant that my partner (whoever it was) was to be an inspiration who would cheer me on to creative output, or the creative impulse would be the one with whom I would share my life. At the moment, I am thinking the latter.

As a seasoned professional, I imagined that financial security would be signed-sealed-delivered. Instead, it has been a roller coaster ride; at the peak thus far, traveling extensively over the past few years, to wondering about paying bills. At the moment, I am in that betwixt and between state, grateful for the work I am blessed to do as a journalist/speaker/therapist/minister.

Yesterday, while on the elliptical at the gym, in conversation with another ‘heart buddy’, who had also been to cardiac rehab, we were sharing that the aches and pains our bodies felt were unexpected. He is far more active than I am; as he hikes and kayaks as well as sweating it out at the gym. My fitness routine also involves dancing and walking and occasionally yoga. Hot packs have become a new BFF as I warm them up and place them on my back and neck and sometimes my stiff left knee that clearly wanted attention last night.

This seasoned woman has more mental meanderings about death now that I am closer to the end of life than the beginning. I was talking to friends about this over the past few days and told them that although I won’t do anything to hasten the day but if I were to die tomorrow, I don’t have loose ends or things I wish I had said. I show and tell people in my life what they mean to me. Not one to hold back. I go out into the world with the intention to be a force for good. Having faced a day in 2014 when I almost didn’t get to do that, I am more acutely aware I don’t have the luxury of wasting a day. And neither do you. I encourage you to give it all you got.

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This morning found me at an interfaith spiritual community of which I have been a part since I walked through the door in 1984. It is called Pebble Hill Church and is comprised of folks of all religious/faith traditions and some who consider themselves atheist or agnostic. It is a Peace Site, which means it is dedicated to bringing about peaceful solutions to the challenges facing us on a personal and global scale. What drew me there today was that the celebration was to honor President Obama as he serves his last week in the Oval Office. Although I can’t speak for everyone in the community, what was verbalized was a profound sense of gratitude and respect for the man and the progressive changes his administration made on the fronts that we value, such as woman’s rights, LGBTQ rights, the environment and general peace and social justice. We are also experiencing trepidation about the changes the incoming administration will bring about. Many of us are ‘gracefully aging hippies’ who have marched in various rallies since the 1960’s.

One of the components of the service is welcoming people to verbalize their commitment to become active members. A relatively new couple stepped up to light their candles and claim their role in the community. They were accompanied by their two small children who helped their parents kindle their candles. The other person to stand before the congregation named Julia, has been attending since she was a small child. She is now in her 20’s. Her parents Gretchen and Michael have both been active members for many years and her father had passed in 2015.

What moved me about this ritual was observing that these young people will be immersed in a community that values love and peace. It encourages both activism and pacifism. It offers opportunities to get involved and not just sit back and bemoan the state of the world. When a religion teaches and preaches hatred, poisoning young people, I can’t fathom that a God of love would be any too pleased with that. It isn’t a matter of believing that ‘our way is the right way’. It leaves room for open-minded conversation and finding equitable solutions.

Another ritual we did was lighting candles to bear witness to groups whose wellbeing may be at risk if the new administration fulfills its campaign promises. Children, women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, the environment, those enslaved in sex trafficking, those with mental illness, those who may lose insurance benefits, were all acknowledged with the words, “We bless you, encourage you, and empower you.” As I stood up, I spoke on behalf of journalists who have much to say in this time of upheaval and endeavor to do so while freedom of the press is still in place. I pray that it always is.

Members of the congregation took turns reading snippets of President Obama’s speeches.  Each moved me to goosebumps and tears. His farewell address, like the other ones before, called on the American people to be a force for good in the world and evoked a sense of the power of the collective. He expressed gratitude and humility, as he praised those who stood with him.

It had me wondering (and I don’t plan to tune in) whether the word ‘we’ will be used as many times in the president-elect’s inauguration speech, or whether the word ‘I’ would overshadow it. I already know the answer.

At the end of service, we sang the hymn that has becoming a rallying cry for peace…We Shall Overcome. I changed the word ‘someday’ to ‘today,’ since we need not wait for a time in the future to affect positive outcomes. Now is the only time we have.

Some of the takeaway messages that were shared were about letting light overcome darkness, taking positive action, blessing those with whom we disagree, no matter how vehemently, and being a convert to love.

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Bless you, Mr. President. Thank you for your service.

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I think people have a certain image of me, that I am always (or mostly) bubbling over with bliss, oozing love and light and sprinkling glitter everywhere. Yes, that is a part of my persona, but there are other aspects since we contain multitudes. Someone responded to one of my posts on Facebook about boycotting the inauguration as a way of speaking out loud and clear that it is not acceptable to endorse bigotry and policies that endanger freedom and lives. I am sharing this, knowing that there are people reading these words who may have supported the candidate, while not considering the long-term impact of what might seem like expedient choices. My belief is that if we run our decisions through the filter of how they will impact the next seven generations, we are in sustainability, rather than destruction mode. What we think and do matters.

His response was: “You interviewed The Dalai Lama. I know you from the love you radiate. I am surprised you posted this. Not one of you (meaning friends who commented) has talked about taking 100% personal responsibility for your lives, thinking the government has control. Our lives are created by our thoughts. When each of us comes from a place of love and light, all the outside crap disappears, and we actually make a positive impact on the world.”

How I answered: “Radiating love IS what this is about, Richard. It doesn’t always look warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it needs to be Mama Bear fierce and protective. I am taking responsibility for my values and walking the talk. Love and light alone is not enough. Sometimes saying a loud and clear NO, this is not acceptable is what it takes. And BTW, the Dalai Lama gets angry. He told me so. He is not passive even though he is peaceful.”

The response from others who read the original post, was heartening:

“GRRrrrrrreat!! Our sacred anger is a catalyst to act. Love in action is fervent, fearless and fuelled by the need to change the subconscious patterns that have made us powerless. The Mama Bear is a great metaphor (and beautiful image btw) as she is tender, noble and fierce when it comes to protecting her progeny. Thanks for always pointing back to the heart Edie, and the need to embrace ALL aspects…shadow and light, sorrow and joy, beauty and pain.”
“I agree with you, even if we ate the most profound spiritual and happy person, we still are human first. We do have opinions and a voice to express them and yes sometimes it might not be what people expect from us and that’s ok. You do not have to please everyone. You stay true to yourself.”
“If no one expressed anger we would all explode. I think he thought he was “calling you out”. We are all human and subject to all emotions. It just wouldn’t be human if you didn’t express that emotion from time to time. And we like you in human form!”
“I think there is a stereotype about spiritual people in that we are always in a state of bliss and passivity.”
I admire the stories of those who showed up, stood up and spoke out about their pro-social beliefs. Consider what the world would be like had agents of change Gandhi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Gloria Steinem, Harvey Milk, Karen Silkwood, Malala Yousafzai, Winona LaDuke, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Vaclav Havel remained silent, all the while beaming love and light at those who threatened harm. Consider the brave folks who were part of the Resistance during World War II. How many more people would have gone to the gas chambers had everyday people stood by and watched, rather than protect their neighbors?  If concerned citizens didn’t look the other way, erroneously believing that if it didn’t directly affect them, and that they need not take action, could the horrors of the Holocaust been prevented? A story of the courage it took for people in Denmark in 1943, is highlighted in this song by Fred Small.
I see myself as both pacifist and activist; taking the inclinations I have as a ‘peacemonger’ and putting legs under them as I walk for peace, pray for peace, write for peace and speak for peace.