The Bliss Blog



I was speaking with someone recently about the break up of a relationship he has been in for many years. It, like all connections, had a beginning, middle, and end. In their case, it had middles and ends and rekindlings several times. I know he isn’t alone, as I have observed that dynamic in my therapy practice and on occasion in my own life. Not quite ready to let go. Not sure about moving on. Uncertain about who we are outside the union we had formed. Reinventing ourselves over and over. Taking a piece of that person with us when we leave, hopefully, not in a co-dependent, not knowing where you begin and I end manner, but rather an irrevocable blending of hearts and souls. In my 58 years on the planet, I have merged with many who remain (as one of my dear friends/former partners has said) “in my bone marrow.”  Hard to shake them and when I bond with someone that way, tender feelings remain, sometimes decades after moving on to love again.

An essential nutrient in relationships is the sharing of interests. It doesn’t mean that we are in lock step with partners, joined at the hip, in a ‘you and me against the world’ kind of thing. Rather, it follows that we open the door and invite the other to enter our worlds and they encourage us to become involved in theirs. Perhaps they are already familiar with our activities and that may have been how we met. That has been the case in many of my partnerships. I have met some engaged in mutually interesting events that we continued to share. That might include workshops, meetups, classes, fitness routines, concerts, nature, volunteering, dancing, drumming, sporting events, gardening…the list is endless.  I do know couples whose interests are divergent and still, they encourage the other person to pursue them even if they, themselves don’t. In healthy relationships, people become each other’s cheerleaders on the sidelines.

I, like you, have traveled a path before coming face to face with various people. I marvel at the truth that those I know and love/have known and have loved, were once strangers who were living a life somewhere in the world until our paths crossed seemingly serendipitously or by divine design. I am never sure which it is, but I am amazed, if not surprised when they arrive. Open to it being a daily occurrence.

Relationships thrive when we meet that need and can starve if we don’t.

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When my friend Robin Renee invited me to participate in a worldwide Blog March, I was an enthusiastic YES! Like many in my circles, she is feeling a sense of overwhelm over the current political climate and wanted to do something constructive about it. Being a creative soul as a singer-songwriter, journalist, and teacher, she came up with the idea of gathering together her passionate, prolific and outspoken friends and have each of us pen something that offers a sense of optimism and perhaps even a call to action.

Because I am action oriented, I want to share with you a powerful way that I have faced the challenges that have ensued since last November. In addition to being a journalist, who writes often for Beliefnet and HuffPo as well as Psych Central, Elephant Journal, and The Good Men Project, I am also one of those folks who carry a sign which indicates that I offer FREE Hugs.  My journey to becoming what my friend Tom calls a ‘Mutha Hugga!’ began on Valentines’ Day weekend of 2014. I gathered friends at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and we did a Free Hugs Flash Mob surprising the travelers who passed through on their way to who knows where. Friends started calling us Hug Mobsters. It felt out of synch with my pacifist sensibilities, so I added the tag line: Armed with Love. Since then, I have taken my huge hug mission on the road, here in Bucks County, PA, in Philadelphia, DC, Phoenix, at my polling place on Election Day, at parades, community events, socially conscious rallies as well as athletic races. On October 15, 2016, along with huggers in 20 cities nationwide, I was enfolding willing passersby at the Love Sculpture in The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection at an event called Hugs Across America. I proudly carried my Hug Mobsters sign and offered my open arms at the Women’s March in Philadelphia immediately following the inauguration.

What I have discovered is that in addition to the health benefits of hugs, which are:


  • Enhances brain development
  • Provides pain relief
  • Creates a sense of trust
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Increases the ‘feel good’ chemicals oxytocin and dopamine
  • Enhances non-sexual intimacy
  • Reduces drug and alcohol cravings
  • High-fives and hugging teammates improves performance
  • When teachers touch students on the shoulder, class participation increases

they also have a way of bridging the gap between people of various orientations- spiritually, politically, culturally, socio-economically and sexually. When I hug people, I don’t know who they voted for, although I was turned down by supporters of the other political party when I strolled around the grounds of my local polling place in November. Wondering if my own left-leaning values were tattooed on my forehead. Most people are open to sharing hugs and for those who are not willing, I encourage them to hug someone, if not me.

A few weeks ago, I was meandering up and down South Street in Philadelphia during an annual street fair and came upon a man gripping a megaphone and spewing hateful speech about anyone who didn’t fit into his tightly contained box of pseudo-Christian beliefs. As I stood in the crowd and observed, I felt moved to go up there and ask, “Who would Jesus hate?” and declare, “Hugs not hate, ” as I offered to embrace him. Lacking the necessary courage, I refrained. Perhaps next time the opportunity arises, I will be bold.

I invite you to open your arms and heart and hug it out! You never know the difference it might make.

I pass the baton on to Marcia Bazcynski as she shares the next steps in our Blog March.



Have you noticed days in which things don’t go as planned, people don’t follow through as they have agreed to do, you find yourself behind a construction truck when you are already running late,  clients cancel, or a certain world leader embarks on yet another chaos inducing decision, taking the rest of us along for the roller coaster ride, sans seat belt? There are times when it appears that we are improvising our way through each 24 hour period, no script, no rehearsal, winging it.

Lately, I have been acutely aware of such dynamics. Since there is an illusion of control, I have needed to surrender to what is, rather than what I insist that it be. My mother had what I called her Que Sera Sera attitude by which she would often say, “What will be will be.” Not sure she was a fatalist but did believe some things were beshert (Yiddish for ‘meant to be’.) such as certain encounters and people that come our way. My father’s corollary was “You never know what tomorrow brings.”  It was his way of appreciating each moment and possibly a nod to his inherited worrying tendencies, as my Russian immigrant grandmother specialized in it.

I have often invoked the Serenity Prayer when life has been off-kilter and I am scratching my head, feeling quite bewildered and I am wanting to wrap my mind around the seemingly senseless.

and yet there are times when I want to change the things I cannot accept. I’m sure you know that feeling. I can’t possibly be the only control freak in these parts.

Today, when I happened to be pondering the state of the world, my friend Colman Byrne was attempting to be of encouragement and help me to view things through different lenses. Shortly afterward, on a totally unrelated topic, I had asked on my Facebook page for folks to share the title of the movie they would want to be aired about their lives. His film title was ‘It’ll Be Alright On the Night”. I had no clue what that meant, so he elaborated.

“It’s a phrase we used to use during rehearsals for pantomimes back in the day in Ireland when nothing seemed to be coming together. Just keep muddling through life, doing the best you can and magic will eventually happen (along with the odd disaster when it didn’t, but that makes for great stories afterward)”

Since I am all about magic and seeing things work out for the Highest Good, I smiled when I read his words. They were a reminder of the iconic line by Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Another friend named Reid Mihalko, who created a workshop for which I am a certified facilitator, called Cuddle Party, used to utter this comforting message to me back in 2005 when I first started teaching, “Darlin’, the event will go as the event will go.” I had only to prepare as best I could and then (gulp) surrender to whatever the outcome was. Not easy for this overachieving Type A workaholic. After much resistance, I did eventually let go and wonder of wonders, it did turn out well, sometimes better than expected.

Learning to trust and do what I think of as the Nestea Plunge and I fall backward into the waiting ‘arms’ of Spirit. Truth is, I have never been dropped and always uplifted.


When the melon and white colored book with a road warrior van emblazoned with stickers on the cover appeared in my mailbox for review, I opened it with delight. I knew that it would have ideas tumbling out that would enhance my life.

Oola for Women: How to Balance the 7 Key Areas of Life to Have Less Stress, More Purpose, and Reveal the Greatness within You was written by Dave Braun and Troy Amdahl (a.k.a. The Oola Guys) as a healing balm and a reminder to women that our desires matter and they need not lie dormant. The aforementioned stickers highlight those dreams. Readers are invited to share theirs.

Think about the word…oola as in oo la la lusciousness that issues forth from vivid imagination and tumbles out into what Troy and Dave call the 7 F’s of Oola (Fitness, Finance, Family, Field (career), Faith, Friends, and Fun). When each of them is attended to, life is grand. The stories unfold as told by various women whose joys and challenges may sound familiar to readers. One comes from a woman whose care for others superseded her own and had her neglecting her health. Through embracing the Oola life, she engaged in dietary, fitness and lifestyle change and shed (at the time of publication) nearly 140 pounds. Another tells the poignant tale of two people brought together by tragedy that evolved into lifelong love. Still one more takes the concept of  ‘losing one’s marbles’ to another level.

They speak of the Oola blockers of fear, self-sabotage, laziness, envy, focus issues, guilt, and anger, as well as the Oola accelerators of love, gratitude, discipline, integrity, passion, humility and wisdom.

A bonus in the back of the book comes in the form of worksheets that have the reader assess their status on the Oola Wheel in accordance with the 7 F’s to get their life rolling along.

They are on a road trip to share the Oola Life…check it out!

Learn more about their mission to change the world.