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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Pump Up The Volume

Having just returned from a workshop called Fearless Relating, facilitated by my friends Reid Mihalko and Monique Darling, I am awhirl with all kinds of ideas and awash in emotion. In the re-entry process, I am integrating what feels like a lifetime of experience. If you have ever been to an immersive retreat, then you know what I’m talking about. I entered into it with the intention to clean up the symbolic cobwebs that have been lurking in corners and under beds for, oh, just like forever. Knowing that I am prone to wearing my therapist’s hat- an occupational hazard, since I have been doing counseling in one form or another since 1979, I made it clear from the get go, that I was off duty and that I was there for my own healing.

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Be careful what you ask for. In very short order, I was called on to face a longstanding issue- emotional expression and especially the one called anger. In my family, it was rarely shown, voices were not often raised, although I recall my father saying “That burns me up,” with regard to work related issues in particular, while swigging Maalox. On the flip side, we were encouraged to be happy, loving and in gratitude mode. All good on the surface.  I held back expressing sadness often, since my father used to say “What hurts you, hurts me.” Now, some would find that a compassionate, empathetic statement of support. I internalized it, even at an early age to mean that if I felt sad, daddy would feel sad and I didn’t want to be responsible for that. I became a good little co-dependent, believing that it was my job to take care of the emotional wellbeing of people in my life. Any surprise that I became a social worker/therapist/minister/teacher/writer/radio host whose work is all about relationships? I would also hear him say “If that’s the worst thing that ever happens to you, you’ll be alright,” as a means of encouraging resilience. Again, it could be interpreted in different ways. My parents modeled resilience and while it couldn’t be called stoicism, it was  certainly emotional control.

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What became abundantly clear through the course of the weekend was that anger comes out when I witness injustice; someone being harmed, or people deliberately causing damage of some kind. It is like I am feeling FOR them …righteous indignation, a sense of  “How dare you?” I can feel my hackles being raised and I’m like a protective Mama bear, charging to the rescue of her cubs. A friend who was there had asked me how I deal with my own toes being stepped on, or boundaries being crossed. I generally don’t get angry then; sometimes frustrated, but then I step back and clarify my needs with that person. It somehow feels like a ‘waste of emotion’ to get angry, like ‘what good is it going to do?’ He pointed out that it needs to be verbalized but not sustained. Kind of like a little kid who falls down, skins her knee, cries over the boo boo, gets it patched up and then is back on the playground. What we resist, persists; I know that well.

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Reid used two powerful analogies that really resonated with me, around the theme of stored emotion. The first was a pile of newspapers that we allow to accumulate and we think that if we attempt to burn them, they will become a raging conflagration. The other is a closet filled with golf balls. If we open the door, we are afraid they will come crashing down around us. The trick is to be aware of them in the first place and be willing to face them as they arise so that they don’t overwhelm us . I am learning to do that after all these years.

In one of the exercises, we worked with a partner and non-verbally shared an emotion and the other person was to tell us what they thought we were feeling. As I exhibited anger, I noticed that I was squeezing my fists in the way I would if I was having lab work done and the syringe was approaching my arm, ready to draw blood. Sometimes I do need to work myself up to even feel the emotion that has seemed dangerous when I have witnessed others showcasing it. Like a wild animal, I feel a need to tame it, lest it take hold of me in its jaws and tote me away for a hearty meal. Learning that it serves a valuable purpose if it can propel me to positive action. Pumping up the volume, knowing that I am in charge of the control switch.

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The Event Will Go As The Event Will Go

ediereidmonique

 

Rolling the clock back to the spring of 2005 and I find myself in the 5th floor walk up apartment in Manhattan of Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski. Surrounded by blankets, pillows and pj clad strangers, save my brave friend who trekked the few hours up there with me, I was attending a workshop that would become a way of life for me. Cuddle Party  is a  relationship enhancing, communication and boundary setting workshop. It just so happens that consensual, non-sexual, nurturing touch that could include snuggles, cuddles, hugs and massage are part of the world wide phenomenon that was created by Reid and Marcia as somewhat of a social experiment that blossomed beautifully. Although I am cuddler by inclination, it had never occurred to me that an entire workshop was being wrapped around it like a comfy quilt. By the time it had ended and we were helping to fold blankets and tidy up the space, I knew that it had to be brought to Philadelphia- appropriately named The City of Brotherly Love and I was equally certain that I was going to have to become a certified facilitator so it could stay here. That summer, Reid came to the area to facilitate and I embarked on the training program. By January of the following year, I was named Cuddle Party facilitator #27. Now there are around 100 people certified to teach this workshop worldwide. In the interim, I have facilitated over 250 of them up and down the East Coast, from here to Virginia and Maryland. It has been one of my greatest joys and honors that attendees have trusted me to create a safe space for them to explore relationship matters and facilitate healthy touch.

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A few years after I took the leap into the ‘puppy pile,’ way across the country in Utah, another affectionista, named Monique Darling entered the realm of Cuddle Party facilitator. We became friends when we had support calls as she was going through her certification process. Her enthusiasm matched mine and to date, she has offered 369 of them. When the opportunity came to team up with Monique and Reid to teach in my neck of the woods, I was giddy with delight. She and Reid have taught together, she and I have taught together, but I’ve not taught with Reid. Let the games begin …. as we put on the books, what we were referring to as an ‘epic event’. Between the three of us, we figure we have facilitated close to 1000 of them.

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Since they were each coming on separate flights, I was to pick them up at the airport. A few days afterward, I discovered that they were due in 90 minutes or so before the event was to begin, which wouldn’t allow much time for travel and then set up. I took a breath and remembered wisdom that Reid shared a long time ago, when I would call him, nerves all aflutter, right before my first few workshops. He would say “Darlin’, the event will go as the event will go.” I would sigh, smile and proceed to accept the truth in it.

I left for the airport with plenty of time to spare, mentally going through the checklist in my head about what needed to be done to prep for the workshop as soon as we arrived. As I was enroute, I get a message from Reid that his flight would be an hour late. Not even a moment of panic, but still a thought “Now what are we going to do?,” arose. Immediately, a spark of brilliance and the words “Call Rusty,” came through. He was going to be attending and knew the area, so I called him and he was more than happy to be Reid’s airport shuttle service. Whew~ I could let that one go.

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I pulled up at baggage claim just in time to scoop up Monique, since her flight was early. Laughing along with Spirit’s sense of humor, we headed for my friend Christina’s lovely home in the woods where the workshop was taking place. As it turned out, we arrived in perfect timing and began the teaching and 20 minutes later, Reid and Rusty arrived and he merged seamlessly and the workshop flowed smoothly. At the end of the evening, participants floated out the door on an oxytocin high and I felt elevated for so many reasons; one among them that I really had surrendered outcome, without attempting to control it. What a relief and such a departure from my habit of attempting to micromanage. Ahhhhh~ Surrender is a beautiful thing.

 

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Make Every Day Earth Day

edieandworld

I am an earnest Earth advocate since it is the only planet we have and I want it to continue to sustain life for a long time to come. I also honor what Gaia- the Greek name for the Goddess as embodied by the Earth,  does for us each day. She hosts breathable air, drinkable water, plants, animals and human life. She does it without expectation of return AND YET, if we neglect her, like any mother, she will no longer be able to care for us. We shortsighted human beings erroneously believe that we can continue to take her for granted without consequences. Ain’t gonna happen.

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On April 22nd , 1970, John McConnell, Gaylord Nelson and Denis Hayes planted the seeds for the eco-fest that now  has taken on epic proportions as the need for environmental awareness has reached a crucial level. Earth Day, according to Hayes, it is “the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year.”

Being environmentally conscious is more than about what we think, but also what we do. Some steps to take:

Reduce, re-use, recycle

Walk and bicycle when you can, rather than drive

Take public transportation

Combine trips

Take re-usable bags, not just for grocery shopping, but all purchases. They can be washed and dried

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Compost food scraps

Eat organic and locally grown food when able

Stop smoking~ since the toxins in cigarettes pollute your lungs and the air of those who don’t smoke

Reduce energy consumption- turn off lights when out of the room

Turn off water when brushing teeth, washing or shaving since there is no need to let it run

Run the dishwasher when full

Sign petitions that ask legislators to take action on climate change

We also feed the collective soul of the planet with our thoughts and energy. Consistently angry thoughts, hatred and violence pollute the stream of consciousness that flows though each of us. Consistently loving thoughts clean it up.  If we embrace the planet and all inhabitants on it, we will leave a thriving home for the next seven generations.

Partner with the planet and each other.  Together we can make a difference.

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Life Is Lumpy

This morning, I was reading a newsletter sent by my friend Kurt Koontz. In it he was described his latest adventures in the Big Apple. He had taken a few forays to the 9/11 memorial and was deeply moved by what he saw there. Although I have not seen, I imagine that it brings with it a plethora of emotions. He was speaking about the importance of daily gratitude for our blessings and the ways in which our lives are changed when we focus on what are thankful for, rather than what we are cranky about. He referenced things such as getting cut off in traffic or an electronic device malfunctioning.

As I was writing to respond to the email, guess what happened?  On a bright and sunny day, the power suddenly zapped off. Now, I would have expected it yesterday, since a whole bunch of storms blew through, with a hurricane watch in effect for many hours. I laughed, of course and then decided to fold clothes and go to the gym. Before leaving, I called the electric company and was told that there was some kind of disconnect under ground and they should have it repaired quickly. Within 30 minutes, the lights and radio went back on and the clocks on the stove and microwave began blinking. I attempted to go back on line, only to discover that the internet was down. I called Comcast and was told that there was limited coverage in the area for a time. Sighing and surrendering, I headed out to sweat.

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Lately, I have been facing the reality that life is about surrender. There is more that I don’t have control over than that I do. It could be disheartening or encouraging to recognize this paradigm. I choose the latter since I wonder what good it would do to be in a consistent state of discouragement. The Serenity Prayer is my go-to when I am tempted to feel pissy and pouty over plans gone awry or people not acting in ways that I would like for them to.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”-Reinhold Niebuhr

I am acutely aware that what happened this morning was a ‘first world problem’. That I have electricity and internet is remarkable when I consider how many people don’t have the basic necessities of life. I also was certain that the service would go back on and that there were other things I could do in the meantime that would be far more productive that grumbling about it.

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What came to me right away was how synergistically perfect it was in the light of what Kurt had written. Stuff like that happens in my life all the time.

I also remembered a beautiful story written by Robert Fulghum about learning the difference between a problem and an inconvenience. He tells it in his book called Uh Oh. One of the lines that remains with me is this: “Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same thing.” These days, I have far fewer problems and occasional inconveniences. I can live with them.

Previous Posts

Pump Up The Volume
Having just returned from a workshop called Fearless Relating, facilitated by my friends Reid Mihalko and Monique Darling, I am awhirl with all kinds of ideas and awash in emotion. In the re-entry process, I am integrating what feels like a ...

posted 8:51:07am Apr. 27, 2015 | read full post »

The Event Will Go As The Event Will Go
  Rolling the clock back to the spring of 2005 and I find myself in the 5th floor walk up apartment in Manhattan of Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski. Surrounded by blankets, pillows and pj clad strangers, save my brave friend who ...

posted 10:47:25pm Apr. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Make Every Day Earth Day
I am an earnest Earth advocate since it is the only planet we have and I want it to continue to sustain life for a long time to come. I also honor what Gaia- the Greek name for the Goddess as embodied by the Earth,  does for us each day. She ...

posted 1:36:35pm Apr. 22, 2015 | read full post »

Life Is Lumpy
This morning, I was reading a newsletter sent by my friend Kurt Koontz. In it he was described his latest adventures in the Big Apple. He had taken a few forays to the 9/11 memorial and was deeply moved by what he saw there. Although I have not ...

posted 3:54:58pm Apr. 21, 2015 | read full post »

It's A Beautiful Morning
The peeking in sun woke me up before my intended arising time. Clearly, the day had other ideas for how I should be spending its first few hours. I so wanted to tumble back into slumber, but it wasn't gonna happen. Rolled over, turned on the ...

posted 8:32:31am Apr. 18, 2015 | read full post »

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