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The Bliss Blog

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A brilliant young woman said something recently that blew me out of the water as she was describing a relationship that ended. “I thought we’d be on the same page. We weren’t even in the same book or genre.”  I smiled wistfully when she uttered those words since I have been there more times than I can count.

When a relationship begins, the parties involved see something in each other that resonates. It could be a smile, a world view, how they interact with people or animals, the ways they face challenges. There is a feeling of wanting to get to know each other in deeper and more profound ways. The book opens with fresh, crisp pages waiting to be turned and explored. Sometimes the paper sticks together and you need to patiently separate them so they don’t tear. There are moments when you pause and re-read what is on them so you glean their meaning clearly. Confusion may ensue as the words make no sense or are repetitive. Shouting capital letters may make you cringe and want to slam the book shut and walk away in frustration or anger. That may be when you need to put a bookmark between the pages and set it down for a bit.

Sometimes what comes through remains a mystery and you put the thought aside as you continue to the next page, not wanting to perseverate. Each chapter holds the possibility of greater adventure. Some of the language is flowing and eloquent, while other parts of the book seem stilted and awkward, repetitive and boring and you may wonder why you opened it in the first place and you are tempted to put it back on the shelf. That may be when you realize that it fell into your waiting hands for a reason. Maybe it was to teach you lessons that you might not otherwise have learned. Perhaps it reminds you of who you are and what you want out of life. It could be because you were craving change.

And what about the genre?  If you are accustomed to non-fiction, you figure it might do you some good to dive into a novel or action-adventure. If you are a hard-core realist, then maybe a bodice-ripper romance or sci-fi fantasy might be just what the doctor ordered for you. Soon you may find yourself telling everyone in your life about this marvelous life changing book you are reading. They are thrilled for you that you have found it and they delight in seeing you light up as a result. Some may respond that they too want a book like that to learn from, grow through and treasure. Some may harbor jealousy that you found that book and they haven’t or perhaps had it at one time and lost it. You smile at the first response and feel unsettled at the second. Why can’t everyone just be happy for you?

Sometimes you have the desire to turn to the last page of the book to see how the story ends. You are tempted to peek, but every time you think about it, a sense of trepidation overcomes you and you wonder if it will change the outcome should you feel brave enough to look. You settle down and become content that the story will unfold as it does.

The sweetest books are those that have been so well loved that they are dog-eared and the pages folded back. The cover may be shredded a bit and the story so familiar that you could recite it in your sleep. Those are the books to be treasured. You may have the same tome for a loving lifetime or might enjoy several throughout the years. Each one is a journal that spells out the choices you have made; desire intermingling with despair, wonder with worry, bliss with boredom. At the end of the story, no matter what the outcome, you will indeed have absorbed knowledge, with the reminder that love is never wasted.

Wishing you an entire library of masterpieces from which you can choose. That’s the story of love~

 

 

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As I am writing this missive, it is Valentines’ Day. It is one of the few holidays that is both loved and hated, depending on which end of the relationship spectrum you may find yourself. For some, Love is a Many Splendored Thing and the theme song for others is Love Stinks. Although I have never subscribed to the second state, I know those who avoid it like the plague, since they are convinced that there is no one out there for them that can help bring them to the first. At the moment, I am in an unusual paradigm. As someone who has not been in a committed relationship for more than 18 years, (longer than I was married), with some lovely short-term encounters and FWBs (Friends With Benefits) sprinkled in between, I have, at times, dreaded a holiday that was adopted to celebrate couples. As soon as Christmas and Hanukkah decorations are whisked from store shelves, up come heart embellished greeting cards with mushy sentiments (don’t get me wrong, I am a marshmallow …chocolate covered, when it comes to romance and for half a dozen years I penned some of them as a greeting card text writer for Kathy Davis Studios), scripted on them, heart-shaped boxes of candy and other tokens of affection. At the moment I am garbed in a long white t-shirt embellished with vibrant red hearts and splashed with silver paint. Combined with well loved pink flannel pj bottoms with more hearts from the Life Is Good store, I am quite a sight.

In the interceding years, since being widowed in 1998, I have wondered if there would come a time when I would present a Beloved with one of the cards I wrote with the idea that perhaps it was written for that person all those years ago in anticipation. At the moment, they are stashed in a box awaiting the arrival of that One. Amazingly calm about it without that sinking feeling that I will be a solo act forever.  In my circles of friends, there are those who are happily entwined and those who are blissfully single. I have floated back and forth between desiring each state. There are certainly pros and cons to both.

Over the weekend, I was blessed to have guests stay over. Connecting originally by a mutual friend via Facebook, we met face to face for the first time on Friday night when they traveled from their home in Canada en route to Mexico on a few month trek throughout the U.S. Ayrlie and Patrick have been together for 12 years and are partners in both business and life. I enjoyed witnessing their interactions and the commitment they share. They seem to be easy going traveling companions; they would have to be in order to take on such an extended journey with unpredictable twists and turns along the way. Truly, no different than day to day relating. Having them here gave me an opportunity to express, “I’ll have what they’re having.” (a nod to the iconic scene in When Harry Met Sally).

In a conversation with Ayrlie, we mused about the importance of being independent while also being intertwined. I have found that challenging both in my marriage and in relationships since then. I am a consummate caregiver who is compelled to be the emotional strength in all my relationships without a strong willingness to be in receptivity mode. These two were persistent in giving and in wanting me to receive. They cooked for me (yummy and oh so healthy vegetarian meals), Ayrlie gave me a few soothing pain relieving patches since I was nursing a neck injury that I encountered a few weeks ago, and loaned me an ultrasonic massager to ease away the ouchies. Seems that they travel with all manner of healing tools and nutritional pharmacopeia, preparing for nearly any eventuality. They were eager participants in a FREE Hugs Stroll in Doylestown, PA, on Saturday as well as Valentines’ Day Hugs and Love workshop on Sunday. It was the 3rd anniversary of the founding of Hugmobsters Armed With Love that we were celebrating.

The experience of hugging friends and ‘strangers’ who become family of choice did my heart good.

Today, I will engage in loving full out, as I offer it to the one in the mirror and then scatter it to those I encounter in the next 24 hours.

What is that is heart and soul satisfying for you?

 

turtle

I have been nursing cervical spine pain for the past month.  It began back in December when I experienced a bronchial infection which led to coughing, which caused rib injury that sent me to the ER on New Years’ Day since the pain was so severe. As a result of lack of range of motion, I needed to crane my neck to see to cross a major intersection. Not sure if I strained it then or if it is more related to emotional dis-ease. Seems that there are components of both. The pain reminds me at times of what I had experienced at the end of 2013 as part and parcel of shingles that also impacted the left side of my head. I described it as feeling like an ice pick was plunging into my temple. This time it is below the occipital region and as I move my neck, I can hear a series of somewhat satisfying crack-crack-crack, as the vertebra slip into place. Complicating the condition is that I am on the computer much of the day and evening in my role as a journalist. The condition is sometimes referred to as ‘text neck,’ from looking down at phones and computers. I have been applying my own healing modality of Reiki, have received massage, as well as a chiropractic adjustment.  Hot and cold compresses, Arnica, Icy Hot, as well as over the counter pain meds have taken the edge off. As I am writing this now, it is a manageable 4 on a 1-10 pain scale. Last night, I was beyond 10 and I have a high pain threshold. I just kept breathing and engaging in what I call God-versation, asking what I needed to do about it.

A few days ago, I visited the office of my friend Dr. Susan Burger. She is a chiropractor who also practices NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) which is a form of mind-body therapy. It incorporates muscle testing, acupressure point, memory/visualization and processing. I have known her for many years and she is familiar with some of my history so I can’t sneak anything past her, which is a positive thing.

While sitting in her office, she began intuiting that some of the presenting condition was related to a physiological reaction to a long-held memory. Our bodies are repositories for stored stuff, much like dusty boxes and bags in an attic. She asked (after doing muscle testing) what happened around age 10. I had a flash of sitting at our kitchen table asking my father about buying a pair of go- go boots. For those who are of a certain age, you will recall that they were chic fashion footwear. As a child with podiatric issues, (flat footed and pigeon toed) I had to wear clunky red orthopedic shoes. Not exactly graceful attire. I coveted those boots as a way of earning my cool cred. What hadn’t occurred to me at the time was that since my dad had either been laid off from a job or his company was on strike at the time, they were not in the budget. During those occasions in his careers as either a milkman or bus driver, he always found filler jobs as a cab driver, gas station attendant or car salesman. He was determined, along with my mom, to keep our family afloat. When he said they couldn’t afford them at the time, I felt a sense of embarrassment and shame that I even asked for them. Neither of my parents implied that I was selfish, but I internalized that feeling. How could I possibly want more than they already gave?  Add to that mindset that I was diagnosed with asthma at age four after the death of my beloved grandmother who was like a third parent and I felt even more burdensome, since my mother used to take me to weekly doc appointments for allergy shots and into the bathroom to inhale steam when I couldn’t breathe at night. I did all I could throughout my life to be a ‘good girl,’ and also to earn everything given to me. Being offered something out of love is sometimes challenging all these years later. It harkens back to training myself not to want what I may be able to have. It infiltrates my relationships as I have difficulty allowing men to take care of me. It runs rampant through my financial situation as I often perceive that I will never make enough and be left wanting. I picked up on my father’s shame that he couldn’t provide those boots at that point. When he went back to work, I did eventually receive them. I also find myself being what my husband had thought of as overly grateful when someone did something for me. In Susan’s office, that little girl came through to enlighten the woman who could not understand why she still is not where she thinks she ‘should be’ professionally.

I had a dream last night that seems to be connected. I dreamed I was in this town in upstate Pennsylvania, not sure where. I was walking down a street and someone grabbed me by the back of the neck and held my head under water. I do lucid dreaming, so in the midst of it, I shook them off and said, “I am going to let God heal me in this water instead.” So, I swam around in it and found myself laughing. I climbed out (it was like a deep square concrete pond filled with cedar water like I used to swim in in South Jersey as a child) and walked back down the street sloshing water. Later in the dream, there was a man who asked if I wanted to dance. We did and it was lovely. Still testing the waters in so many areas of my life.

Two insightful and healing professional friends LeeAnne Englert and Ken Kaplan had this powerful feedback to offer

“What struck me in your dream was that it was an aspect of you drowning yourself. Dreams have many layers but the first one I go to is that each player in the dream is an aspect of us. It helps us to see the dichotomy we are dealing with. The good news is that you freed yourself but I would look more deeply into the part of yourself that wants to off you. And now seems to be manifesting pain in your physical body. Soul retrieval time!”

“LeeAnne is right. What part of you is “holding you down”. Why in water? Water usually represents emotion, feeling. Dig into life issues. Where has this energy of self-suppression shown up before? Dig deeper. What positive aspect of self (anger at feeling denied, passion, energy, etc) that wants to be expressed is being held back by you and shows up in shadow form? Relates to neck injury which is fear. (Think of turtle drawing its neck in, afraid to fearlessly look around and survey the landscape.-vulnerability)”

As I ponder this, I am willing to stick my neck out and explore the landscape.

enough
The word Dayenu comes from the Passover story and refers to a song that celebrates the Exodus of the Jewish slaves from Egypt where they were held captive by the pharaoh and compelled to work without ceasing at the whim of the taskmaster’s whip. When they were freed, they expressed gratitude that God had not only granted them their sovereignty but had given them many blessings. Dayenu translates to “It would have been sufficient.” Or “It would have been enough.”
It came to me in the wee hours this morning, that the world may be ready for a new Dayenu and a wake-up call.
Had the alarm bells begun to ring when the most contentious election that this nation has ever seen elicited more hate than this country has ever seen…..it should have been enough.
Had we been alert to the encroaching dark forces that threaten safety and security of the world….it should have been enough.
Had we as citizens been more aware of the goings on in government on all sides of the political spectrum….it should have been enough.
Had we put the needs of the entire planet before individual greed, our clean air, water, and soil would have a greater chance of being sustainable, (that regardless of political beliefs) we all require to survive….it should have been enough.
Had we not shrugged off the ‘locker room banter’ of the one who now holds the Oval Office, women’s safety would not be in greater jeopardy than ever before and trauma not re-triggered…it should have been enough.
Had we not normalized racial and religious bigotry, our doors (as heralded in The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus November 2, 1883)
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
would not be slammed shut.  Lady Liberty would stand as more than just a symbol….and it should have been enough.
Had we not seen the political goings on as ‘business as usual’….it should have been enough.
Had we not seen ‘the other’ as ‘the enemy…..it should have been enough.
Had we not used our personal religious beliefs as liberty to dictate what others ought to believe….it should have been enough
Had we seen every child as precious, we would not condemn them to a life of deprivation and fear and we as adults would do all we can to leave them a beautiful planet on which to live….and it should have been enough.
Had we paid attention to the promises of a man whose worldview extends not much further than his own desires to occupy a building that was meant to be a place of inclusivity…it should have been enough.
Had we found it unacceptable that he chose to surround himself with people who share his perspective of power over and not empowerment for all….it should have been enough.
Had we not looked the other way and shrugged our shoulders when he and these same people threatened to rescind hard-won rights for LGBTQ folks and those of color and those who came from other countries who hold divergent religious beliefs….it should have been enough.
Had we all found his self-aggrandizing, wound licking tweets less vital than learning a job that he is unprepared to do….it should have been enough.
Had we refused to accept walls that keep people in and not out and be expected to pay for it….it should have been enough.
Had we done more than rolling our eyes at his bombastic statements on the campaign trail that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters.”…..it should have been enough.
Had we said sooner, “Not on my watch will hatred thrive, will people be less valued, will the environment and those who protect it be assaulted, will services that sustain life be cut, will men be the arbiters of what women can do, will pro-life really means pro-birth,”…it should have been enough.
Had we been outraged when #45 mocked a disabled reporter….it should have been enough.
Had we been more than a little shocked when he insulted the press and placed restrictions on what could be transmitted…..it should have been enough.
Had we not ‘hired’ a man whose vocabulary seems not to have progressed beyond that of a 6th grader (no insult meant to 6th graders), and whose ability to directly respond to straightforward questions without deflecting and finger pointing…..it should have been enough.
Had we not needed to remind him that his job is public service, not the other way around…it should have been enough.
Had we not welcomed someone whose attempts to shred the Constitution would have the Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves….it should have been enough.
Had we found it unacceptable that he called for gag orders on various governmental departments….it should have been enough.
Had we been appalled at the daily onslaught that has had many succumbing to physical and emotional dis-ease….it should have been enough.
Had we been shocked at the ‘post-truth’ world with ‘alternative facts’ that has us scrambling to validate what we hear and see…..it should have been enough.
Had we not taken a ‘wait and see’ and ‘give him a chance’ attitude…..it should have been enough.
Had we not opened Pandora’s Box and unleashed ‘the evils of the world’….it should have been enough.
Remember that Hope was left at the bottom of the box. The same hope that has sustained the world through some of the darkest moments in history.
When will enough be enough?
Now that many of us on both sides of the political spectrum are showing up, standing up and speaking out, putting ourselves on the front lines, with our fervent words, our marching bodies, our protesting values….it is becoming enough.
The country that this granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants loves and honors, who became an interfaith minister who says that “Love is my religion and God’s too big to put in a box,” can become more than enough. Together we are a Force to be reckoned with.
I invite you to stand with me and all world citizens, as we acknowledge our common humanity, no matter who you voted for. The survival of our beautiful planet is on the line. We need each other. We are all US. We are enough.