The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

The Only Life You Can Save

One of my favorite wise woman poets is Mary Oliver whose words touch my heart in ways that few others can; as if they could have come through me as well; so personal they are. Today, while visiting my former place of employment, one of my co-workers pulled out an anthology consisting of the works of various wordsmiths. He opened to a particular page and said that this one was for me. I have read it many times over the years, but today it rang with a loud and true clarion call that shook me to my core.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
Mary Oliver

After Ted read it to me, I thought about all the times I spent majorly over-extending myself, because I thought I had to. I contemplated how I invested more into my clients’ recovery than they did,  like I had last New Years Day when I told them that if they cared enough about their sobriety to show up for group, I would be there for them. and when I arrived, I discovered that two out of  seven were there. How I worked for free, for ‘exposure’, rather than either getting compensated or turning down speaking gigs, out of fear that they wouldn’t bring me on board otherwise.  I recall how several years ago, a coach I was working with advised me to “Ask for what your services are worth, without stuttering.”  I do that now and most of the time, I receive it. It is about valuing myself, rather than allowing someone else to place a value on me. We teach people how to treat us. What we accept, we reinforce. Making these choices has literally saved my life. Thank you, Mary, for that reminder and thank you, Ted for the gift you shared today.

Abby’s Light

AbbySchumer

 

When a light comes into the world, we hope that it will last indefinitely, knowing that eventually it will fade. When a child is born, a parent doesn’t expect that his or her light will diminish before it has a chance to fully express itself…and yet, sadly it happens.  Abby Schumer was such a one. Her family lives in our community of Doylestown, PA and although I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting her, I am feeling as if I have a small glimpse of the gift she was to her family and those who did know her.

Described by her parents Meg and Mike as someone who cared deeply about others, a curious soul, an avid reader, colorful and playful….taken too soon when on March 24, 2012, she died of brain cancer. Unimaginable pain and loss, but her parents, taking a page from Abby’s book,  are resilient thrivers; as I define it- people who have not only survived challenge or trauma, but have gone on to help others as a result.

Today on what would have been her entre’ into her teen years- her 13th birthday, our  Bucks County Commissioners have proclaimed  Nov. 19 as Random Act of Kindness Day in the county in Abby’s honor.

“Kindness is a way of showing others that they count, even in the face of hostility and selfishness, making a stand for positivity,” said Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia as she read the proclamation. “Random Act of Kindness Day is a worldwide celebration of simple kindness that encourages people to tap into their own human spirit and share it with others, thereby nourishing and strengthening their communities.

“Abby Schumer is local inspiration for the movement here in Bucks County. At the young age of 10 she understood the importance of doing meaningful things for others,” the proclamation continued. “We challenge all Bucks Countians to do something kind for a friend, a loved one, or even a stranger for no reason at all.”

The Schumers have set up a Facebook page that you can visit to learn more about this amazing little girl and the legacy she left  www.facebook.com/abbyslight/

On this day, and all others, I invite you to join me in showering kindness in all forms. Please share this with any and everyone you can. In that way, we can spread the Light that Abby will always be~

 

Light Filled Holiday

This morning, I saw a meme on a friend’s Facebook page that expressed: LIKE if you plan to be politically incorrect by saying “Merry Christmas” this holiday season. My response to her was: “If I know what people celebrate, I will greet them with their preferred sentiment. I have friends of many different faiths who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice and I celebrate right along with them. All of the winter holidays are about calling in the light. To you, I wish a joyfilled to overflowing Christmas.”

I am based in a Philadelphia, PA, USA suburb which is multi-cultural, with folks of various beliefs. There are churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, Quaker meeting houses, as well as groves where those of Earth based religions worship. There are Native American grounds in this area. I regularly attend services at two different interfaith/multi-spiritual communities Circle of Miracles and Pebble Hill Church, and sometimes visit and speak at New Thought churches in the region.

I was raised in the Jewish religion and we celebrated Hanukkah in our home. Lighting the menorah, eating latkes, spinning the dreidel, singing the song that is about that toy, gifts shared with family for eight nights, were part and parcel of holiday time. AND we had many friends who decked the halls, went to Midnight Mass, had train tracks running around their Christmas trees that had presents piled around and sumptuous meals shared with loved ones. We celebrated right along with them as my sister and I were growing up. What I couldn’t quite grasp was how Santa knew to leave presents for two little Jewish girls under their trees. In my teens and as an adult, I attended services with Christian friends and holiday meals in their homes, basking in the warmth of their celebrations.

These days, my holidays include our annual Latke Party to which friends and family come to celebrate in their own way. Laughter, love, light and (potato) latkes are in abundance. I have a table top tree, decorated with lights, angels, faeries, snowflakes and feathers. I display a stone menorah that has seen many a Hanukkah; chipped and a bit worn away. Not ready to replace it, since there is tradition in it. The day after our party this year, is the Winter Solstice and I will join a gathering of friends as I have for likely a decade,  who incorporate pagan and Native American traditions. We pray, meditate, sing, drum, write intentions, burn a Yule log, eat food that is infused with love and exchange gifts that have been treasures to us that we pass along to another. I always leave Deva and Stan’s house glowing.

While some might believe that one holiday supersedes the others, since it is more commercially focused, the reality is that all are various ways of honoring the Divine. I have no right to assume what someone’s beliefs might be. There may be fellow planetary dwellers I encounter who have no religious beliefs who are worthy of my respect. If I’m not certain of someone’s spiritual orientation, I will do as I always do to acknowledge them. Smiling, beaming love and wishing that they enjoy their day. This year, I will add that I wish them a  light filled holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mother’s Daughter

Yesterday, I did a mini-workshop at Awaken Healing Expo and offered BLISS Coaching; both designed to empower people to live the lives of their dreams and desires. Already pretty tired from early awakening myself that morning, before the sun was even peeking out from its own cloud cover, my eyes were open. I attempted to slide back into sleep, but my mind was spinning with thoughts of what insightful information I wanted to share and what tools and toys I would bring into the room for the participants to use. Fortunately the back of my Jeep carries tote bags and a rolling suitcase filled with markers, feathers, paper, stickers, glitter, a magic wand, handouts from which I can pick and choose at random as I am inspired to bring them out. While there, I saw old friends and connected with new kindred spirits. I felt gratified and grateful….for me, gratification feels like something I take in, while gratitude seems to be something to extend outward. Uncharacteristic of me, since I don’t like to inconvenience anyone, on the way out the door, I asked three male friends to help me ferry my stash out to the car. They were glad to do it.

After a few hour nap, I woke up and had a revelation when speaking with my friend Yvonne Kaye who has known me for the past two and a half decades. Many people spend an entire lifetime in an attempt to distance themselves from their past and want to avoid  being like their parents. I have spent much of mine in an attempt to emulate my parents. In many ways, that has served me and in others….not so much. Still wondering how much of the physiological stuff is related to that. My father was a workaholic who even in retirement from his full time job at 65, worked part time in a gym for 18 years until Parkinsons robbed this formerly robust man of his stamina. During our daily check in phone calls, I would ask him how he was feeling and often times, his answer was “Disgusted.” He felt increasingly frustrated that he couldn’t perform his own ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living), such as bathing and dressing. He needed assistance getting around the condo with his walker. I can only imagine how challenging it was to depend on others for his care. His dwindling cognition was, in many ways, a blessing, because perhaps it rendered him able to ‘forget’ that he couldn’t do what he used to do. He was my model for relentless activity and perseverance.

My mother was the rock on whom everyone depended. She wasn’t a martyr or overtly self sacrificing, but made herself available as on-call listener and support for nearly any family member or friend who needed her. I can’t recall her turning anyone away. She would say that she had ‘broad shoulders” that I imagine she inherited from my grandmother, which meant that she let people lean on her and unburden their hearts. That too was my inheritance which  I tapped into personally and professionally.

Today, I spoke at Circle of Miracles which is one of my interfaith spiritual communities, on the topic of From Wonder Woman to Bionic Woman. The first part  is a reference to my former belief that I was a superhero who was indestructible, invulnerable and invincible. Not only did I not have a cape, cuffs and lasso of  truth, but I thought I could practice ‘savior behavior’ even so. The second is a nod to the stent that was inserted on June 12th; my re-birthday, thus opening a fully occluded artery. As I shared my journey over the past five months, I saw knowing nods in the congregation, since many of them are caregivers who sacrifice their own well-being to live a life of service. They also wagged their fingers at me, because although I have slowed dramatically, I still push the edges in terms of activity at cardiac rehab. I love going there and feel charged up emotionally, even as I sometimes feel drained physically. I was advised by one doc I saw last week, to cut back from five days a week, 50 minutes or so each time, to three times a week. My visceral response was to rebel…”You can’t take the outlet away from me.”  I do realize the importance of listening to my body’s messages and have been taking rest time to rejuvenate. Although I am indeed my mother’s daughter in so many ways that make me smile, I am willing to be a willow that bends, rather than a rock that crumbles.

Previous Posts

The Only Life You Can Save
One of my favorite wise woman poets is Mary Oliver whose words touch my heart in ways that few others can; as if they could have come through me as well; so personal they are. Today, while visiting my former place of employment, one of my co-workers pulled out an anthology consisting of the works of

posted 8:40:05pm Nov. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Abby's Light
  When a light comes into the world, we hope that it will last indefinitely, knowing that eventually it will fade. When a child is born, a parent doesn't expect that his or her light will diminish before it has a chance to fully express itself...and yet, sadly it happens.  Abby Schumer was

posted 8:32:41am Nov. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Light Filled Holiday
This morning, I saw a meme on a friend's Facebook page that expressed: LIKE if you plan to be politically incorrect by saying "Merry Christmas" this holiday season. My response to her was: "If I know what people celebrate, I will greet them with their preferred sentiment. I have friends of many diff

posted 9:01:36am Nov. 18, 2014 | read full post »

My Mother's Daughter
Yesterday, I did a mini-workshop at Awaken Healing Expo and offered BLISS Coaching; both designed to empower people to live the lives of their dreams and desires. Already pretty tired from early awakening myself that morning, before the sun was even peeking out from its own cloud cover, my eyes were

posted 6:43:48pm Nov. 16, 2014 | read full post »

A Matter of Balance
I am a Libra, born October 13th and have found that balance is an essential ingredient in my wellness cookbook. Some work, some play, some rest. Time with friends and family, time in solitude. Time to dance and sing, time to meditate and veg. Kind of a bio-psycho-social version of Ecclesiastes. I f

posted 9:15:50pm Nov. 13, 2014 | read full post »


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