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The Bliss Blog

My friend Jeff Brown is a spiritual journeyer and witty wordsmith. He created a film called Karmageddon in which he explored (among other things), the concept of the guru. This morning, I saw a Facebook posting he shared with these words:

“Having bashed gurus for so long, I pretty much gave up on the possibility of finding one. And then, when I least expected it, I stumbled upon this formidable little fellow at the Omega Institute. What I enjoy most about his approach to teaching is that he doesn’t bother with words- just sounds, grunts and the like- and he doesn’t pay much attention to detachment practices, preferring, as a rule, to jump right into life, biting any and all fingers that come his way, and eating as often as possible…. Meet my new guru, James.” Below the words was a photo of him all cuddly with an adorable little dude who looked a few months newly launched into the world.

My response was this: “Here and now, present moment awareness. Energy in…energy out. When hungy eat, when tired, sleep, when full, pee, poop, fart and burp. Pretty simple teachings. A sat guru, indeed.”

How much more fulfilling would our lives be if only we could emulate those tiny humans? I know that when I attempt to control outcomes in my life, I miss out on the infinite possibilities that await on the playground that is my life. I love watching babies interact with the world around them. Everything is a toy to explore. A Zen concept is that of Shoshin or Beginner’s mind.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” We adults play this game in which we claim to be experts at all kinds of things, from our jobs, to our education, from raising children to telling others how to run their lives. Kids just are. Mindfulness embodied, instead of mind-full-ness with all kinds of busy buzzy (ooooh, look, a squirrel) thoughts that have us off and running without warning. We pretend we know the answers to life’s questions, when a laughing baby really does get the cosmic joke.

Every time I have seen this video, I have laughed and cried, both with delight and wistfulness. I reclaim any sense of innocence I may have lost and commit to exploring the world with all senses fully engaged in this here and now precious moment. Let playful wisdom rain and reign.

This morning as I was driving to an appointment, I was musing about the direction my life has taken in the past year or so. Twelve months ago, I was employed full time as a web content writer, working from home and bringing in more income than I ever did as a social worker. I felt a sense of freedom financially that was unfamiliar to me. I was able to easily pay my bills and have plenty left over to save, donate and spend as I chose. I was responsible and not frivolous with spending. And then….. a year and three months after I was hired, the company was faced with budget cuts which meant laying off a large portion of our creative team. I found myself only in a mild state of panic, knowing that I would be able to rebound quickly. I did, with a new job in less than two weeks that looked like it would be long term, until…..a few months later, the non-profit was not able to get the funding it needed to keep me on. Since then, I have been doing all sorts of free lance writing, teaching, coaching, counseling and editing. Although I have been able to pay bills, there has remained an underlying sense of trepidation that I won’t be able to do so. I’ve needed to be more frugal than I was a year ago.

I question the pattern that I have been following. The consistent paycheck that I had received for a dozen years as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital came at a price; my peace of mind and health. The salary and benefits that came from this other job was short lived, but it does tell me something. The woman who became my supervisor had recruited me after reading my various on line blogs; this one included.  That meant (in my mind) that Spirit was working behind the scenes to orchestrate that job. Even so, there is something unconscious going on that has placed me on the career roller coaster ride I have been on for several decades. I have prayed about it and then asked who or what am I praying to?  Is it an interventive entity or an all pervading energy? Is it my own doing, or non-doing that brings in the bucks?  Is it trust and surrender to whatever is unfolding?

Back to the road trip. Just as I was in the depths of pondering my next steps, a truck rounded the hill in the opposite direction and I laughed as I always do when I see it, since it tells me that the Universe is sending me a powerful pay-attention-to-this-one message. The truck is from a company that sells bathroom and kitchen fixtures. It is called…wait for it…Weinstein Supply Company. In case you hadn’t noticed, that is my last name. Whenever it shows up, it is a reminder that my needs are always taken care of and there is an unlimited supply coming from my Source. Sighing, I continued driving and the song by The Flaming Lips called Do You Realize? came on the radio on WXPN.

Do You Realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize – we’re floating in space –
Do You Realize – that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round
Do You Realize – Oh – Oh – Oh
Do You Realize – that everyone you know
Someday will die –
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round
Do You Realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize
Songwriters: Dave Fridmann / Michael Ivins / Steven Drozd / Wayne Coyne
Do You Realise? lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
The song reminds me that our time here on the planet is limited and it is in our best interest to live it fully and freely without overt and unecessary worry and fear.
On my way back from the appointment, another song snagged my attention, called The Life You Chose by Jason Isbell. A line jumped out at me: “Are you living the life you chose? Are you living the life that chose you?” Hmmm…..  There are times when I am on both ends of the spectrum. I make consious decisions each day that as it unfolds, it will bring with it all kinds of adventures and along with it, miracles. What I choose, in some ways, does choose me, since I have found that like attracts like far more than opposites attract. So what am I choosing?
* Trusting that my needs will always be met.
* Knowing that I have the skills and experience to bring in what my services are worth.
* Believing that all is well and that worrying about anything is a waste of my time and energy.
* Finding the same kind of freedom I felt when holding that well paying job.
* Sensing that something even better awaits my welcome.

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Yesterday (September 10, 2016), I was in my nearby Bucks County town of Doylestown, PA which is about an hour outside of Philadelphia. The event was our annual Arts Festival. I love strolling the streets and running into longtime and new friends, as well as perusing the wares and creations of juried artists. In the past few years, I have arrived, toting a sign indicating that I am offering FREE Hugs. I call myself a Hugmobster Armed With Love. My friends refer to me as the Hugging Queen, Hug Mob Boss, A Hugging Machine and Mutha Hugger. It is one of those things I was born to do. I have never had a problem hugging strangers and Beloveds alike. The 90-something temps made some people respond with a polite, “No thank you, I’m all sweaty,” or “I’m good,” to which I responded, “Well, hug somebody today.”  I playfully reached over and did an air hug. We smiled together.

In the two hours and some that I was there, I hugged more than 100 people and at least one dog. Some were familiar friends. Some folks approached me and said, arms open, “Bring it!”  One man kept coming back for more and then his girlfriend came over and joined us. The Director of a local organization who actually commissioned a mutual friend artist to design the sign I tote around was one of the first to jump start the hug-a-thon. The lovely daughter of friends saw me before I saw her and we had a cuddle moment. Hugs at the booth of our local food co-op. Hugs with women who were offering samples of ice tea and lemonade (which I really appreciated since hugging is thirsty work) and whose t-shirts bore images of the iconic Mr. T with butterfly wings. A very tall woman leaned down (which this 5’4″ woman appreciated) and offered a really strong sistah hug. Another woman who was wearing a beautiful crystal embedded necklace shaped like a curvy Goddess shared several hugs and told me that I made her day. She made mine too.  A man riding a Segueway hugged me from his rolling perch. A long time friend and I stood in the middle of the street as he wrapped his arms around me, for a full two minutes or so. I actually felt cooler afterward.  A rainbow striped haired young woman joined the fun. Little kids and big kids too, came up for some snuggles. I am always impressed when teens approach me. Clearly, I am cool enough, even if I old enough to be their mother.

When I hug folks, I mostly don’t know their political affiliation or religious beliefs. I just hug ’em. My own judgments were called to the fore as someone pointed out a man bearing campaign signs indicating that he supported a candidate who to me symbolizes hatred, which is the opposite of what this whole hug thing is about. He suggested, “How about if you hug that guy.” I took a deep breath and said, “Yup, he might really need a hug.” I approached and asked if I could hug him. He smiled and agreed and then asked if I wanted to take a picture with him. I politely declined, setting my own boundary.

It occurs to me, on this day, as I am writing this (September 11th), that the horrendous events we are recalling, came from a sense of hatred for those perceived as different. There are all kinds of theories about how it occurred (inside job, false flag, or an outside terrorist attack) and yet the truth remains that people died and other lives were devastated beyond repair. I wrote a Bliss Blog entry a few years ago, called September 11th Remembered. In it, I spoke of the idea that the saying God Bless America is far too limiting. I much prefer God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions. That includes those whose values are in opposition to mine. Chances are, the bearded older man who toted those signs, contends that he has valid reasons for believing as he does. It really was pretty brave of him to walk around the streets of a town where peace rallies and We Are Orlando rallies and environmental rallies occur, where there are a few all accepting non-denominational/ interfaith communities, where some gracefully aging hippies have music gatherings and this one strolls the streets, arms and heart open to embrace willing huggers, even if we don’t share the same beliefs.

I smile when I recall the wise words of a tiny human who came into my life a few years ago. He asked me this question: “Do you know how to turn a bad guy into a good guy?  You HUG ’em!”

 

 

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When you look back down the numbers line….5, 10 or 20 years ago, could you have imagined where you would now be taking your breaths moment to moment?  Can you fathom that the people who are surrounding you these days, may have been with you all that time, or newly met? I was driving on back country roads in my bucolic Bucks County, PA (an hour outside of Philadelphia) that I have called home since 1985, and was musing on that subject. The think link began when I pondered the ‘almost-not-quite-potential-romantic-relationships’ I had desired over the years. What if any of them had developed the way I fantasized? The likelihood that I would have met others who I treasure, would be minimal. That is a thought that comforts me when I question my still single status for many years. Don’t get me wrong…I have a marvelous life, filled with treasured family and friends and lovers; adventures, travel, enaging in creative pursuits that support me well. Still I welcome the One with whom I will share all these goodies.

As I am typing this blog entry, I am sprawled on a futon in my haven/office that was painted by my friend Paul who is multi-talented like many in my life;  a faux finish painter, musician, songwriter, author and a Forrest Gump impersonator. We met two years ago at a local music festival when he was ‘Forrest Gumping’ in full costume. He has since become a dear friend with whom I ponder life through the lens of that character. Right place, right time kind of stuff. Life by divine design. Random vs. meant to be reality.

The room which is filled with color and light, books,  artistic gifts from friends, as well as a parasol from Jazzfest that I attended last year with friends Jewelee and Scott , one of their way cool dancer daughters named Vanessa, Christopher, Virginia  and her adorable daughter Sophia, Loreen and Ron. Fond memories of our time together fill my heart. Everytime I hear Cajun or Zydeco music, I think of them.

A few weeks ago, at this time, I was immersed in wonder at the home of another who entered my life serendipitously. Tom has become a soul friend as he invited me to trek cross country to Portland, Oregon where he welcomed me into his circle of family and friends.

Last night I was chatting with my friend Greg who has been in my life more than 12 years, as we were pondering the fifth decade of our lives and how our children are now in their young adulthood and at the age he is, his mother was already a grandmother twice. My son is 29 and will be married next year. When I told him years ago that I was too young to be a grandmother, he reminds me that now I’m not.

This morning, I beheld a sweet and tender photo of another long time friend Michael. He is gazing down at his new born adopted daughter who is being cradled in his arms wrapped in a baby sling. He and his husband Alex have two other adopted children as their family grows. When we were colorful creatives hanging out on South Street in Philadelphia in the 1980’s could he have ever imagined this life he is living in Sedona, Arizona?

Today, I will be visiting another dear friend in the ICU where he has been for several days on dialysis and ventilator while awaiting cardiac surgery. Phil  and Janet have been part of my life since the 1980’s as well. They are family of choice, as Phil is my son’s go to guy who he has long considered a father. Prayers for his healing have lifted Phil out of immediate crisis, with our shared intention for his total wellbeing and recovery.

These folks and the experiences we have shared, are among my treasures. They stand as testament to the magic of connection, the grace and love present in each precious moment and the who-knows-who-is -around-the-corner-waiting-to-enter-our-lives? I bless them all and the beyond beautiful life I get to live.

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