The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

There’s No Place Like Home

It’s Halloween as I am writing this. I just washed off the silver makeup, glitter and red lipstick that covered my face for a few hours when I was out and about tonight. My newly dyed hair is Manic Panic Ultraviolet. Nestled under the covers, I was perusing Facebook when a writing prompt snagged me. My friend Jenny G. Perry (also a Beliefnet Blogger) had posted pictures of her five children decked out in their Halloween finery. The theme was The Wizard of Oz. Her oldest- McKayla was a ringer for Dorothy; you would have thought Judy Garland had crossed back over the veil. Her next in line named Aidan dressed up as The Scarecrow who most certainly used his brain to create such a believable outfit. Then came Finn as The Tin Man with a good heart. Seamus was the most courageous Cowardly Lion on the planet. Finally, the youngest Perry- Dylaney was nestled in a basket carried by McKayla as an adorable Toto. Naturally, Jenny herself was Glinda with glitter and glow coming from the inside.

As I was smiling at the antics (or as Jenny likes to call them-shenanigans) that must have gone on there in preparation and then afterward.  it occurred to me that the movie has so many powerful spiritual themes. It exemplifies what Joseph Campbell called The Hero’s Journey.

My favorite lines:

Surrender Dorothy. So much of what life is about for me is that S- word. When I surrender, it is not about giving anything up. It is about ‘giving over’ my fears and limitation, hesitations and blocks and just letting things and people be as they are, even as much as I might want to change them. When I resist change, it happens anyway. When I just go with it, whatever ‘it’ might be, I find myself (rather than lose myself) enjoying life more.

Lions and Tigers and Bears…oh my- is an acknowledgement of my fears. I can work up quite a tizzy with my runaway and persverative thoughts. When I believe that there are ravenous beasts lurking in the dark and shadowy woods, I feel a need to duck and cover. Better to befriend and tame the critters.

Pay no attention to the man (or woman) behind the curtain. S/he knows how to manipulate, dazzle, play a role, rather than being genuine, since s/he believes that if the façade was stripped away and s/he was revealed for who s/he was, then no one would be impressed and s/he would just be average…and what fun would that be? It is when I reveal the real that I truly am powerful.

I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. There are times when the ‘normal’ seems extraordinary and the world goes from black and white to Technicolor. I love acknowledging the magic that can occur at any moment.

There’s no place like home. I can search and seek for wisdom in other people and places, but always come to accept that it truly is an inside job. Home is far more than a place, but rather a sense of family. “I’ve got your back,” is a hallmark of those relationships. When I appreciate home, it is because it is a comfy place to rest my weary head, to celebrate life and into which I can gladly welcome friends and family and I don’t need to click my heels to watch the magic happen.

What I Asked For

Making the rounds on Facebook today:  “Everything you are going through is preparing you for what you asked for.”  Another one of those inscrutable statements that can be interpreted in various ways. My take is that it isn’t blaming as much as it is highlighting that we have such power, even on an unconscious basis, to make sweeping life changes. It also reminds me that when I seed plant, I don’t always know how the crop will grow. I can plant cucumbers, and then water, feed and weed them and still have no clue when they will be ready for harvesting.

When I gaze back over my shoulder into the distant and even recent past, I see clearly that the choices I made, whether knowingly or by default, led to the life I am living now. If I want a more pleasant outcome, then I have  to make other choices. In order to recall what I asked for, I need only to look at the results. Now, I am amply aware that I am not in charge of the outcome of everything I do, but still need to take responsibility if ever I am I doubt. If I choose to learn a lesson in patience, then I might draw into my life, a slow poke driver right in front of me as I am in a hurry up to get somewhere. If I ask to learn compassion, I may be confronted with someone I may have judged in the past. And, if I choose independence, then begins the real work of re-inventing myself in the midst of a familiar and perhaps, unwise place to be.

Some might think of this line as shaming people who may feel victimized, which may not be the case at all.  Instead it could be empowering.  I have become acutely aware that the Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail of my life,  wound inexorably to this moment from whence it first began. It was forged by my thoughts (conscious and unconscious) that put a call out to the Universe  that it graciously accepted and now I marvel at the perfection of it all.

What have you asked for?

Noah and The Mensch

Please note that I am not a biblical scholar, so this blog comes from a place of curiosity and the workings of my own mind, rather than theological knowledge.

This past Saturday, I sat in the sanctuary of a suburban South Jersey synagogue, surrounded by family and friends of my 13 year old cousin Sophie celebrating her entry into Jewish adulthood as a Bat Mitzvah. We have common ancestors. Her great grandmother and my grandmother were sisters. Two of 13 children in the Bernstein clan who went on to bring into the world a daughter (my mother Selma) and a son (Sophie’s grandfather Ron). With me so far?  My mother married my father Moish, from whence came my sister Jan and the one writing this article. Ron married Gladys and gave birth to Rick, Steven and Ted. Rick married Melissa and along came Gabe and Sophie.

Family gatherings, picnics, and splashing in our community pool remain treasured memories. These days we get together for events. The most recent before this one was the wedding of Steve’s son Eric and newest family member Tara back in May. I had the honor of officiating. We always reminisce with “Remember when…” almost wistfulness.

For those who don’t know the ritual, each person who becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah -son or daughter of the commandments of Judaism. (Although in the vernacular it is often said that the child becomes Bar or Bat Mizvah’d, it is not a verb, but a noun,)  reads a Torah portion for that particular week, chants what is called the Haftorah, and some cases, leads the service. He or she studies for many months prior to the Big Day with the rabbi, cantor or teacher whose focus is preparation. I remember a time 43 years ago, when garbed in a bright purple dress with cap sleeves, I was perched on the edge of my chair (my mother told me I looked like I was ready to make a run for it) waiting for my cue to step up to the bimah and recite my portion. Back then, young women were not as actively involved in the entire service as Sophie was able to so magnificently be. Her theatrically trained voice made her a pleasure to listen to and she nailed the notes and Hebrew words with flair. I could feel my parents and her grandparents ‘kvelling’-Yiddish for beaming proudly, from the Other Side, just as those of us who were embodied sitting in the sanctuary. Wrapped in a tallis (prayer shawl) that had belonged to my husband and wearing my father’s Israeli embroidered yarmulke, I felt like the tribal lineage into which I was born, was speaking to me, reminding me to pay attention to the messages I was receiving.

As the rabbi explained about the story of Noah, I was mesmerized and already writing this entry in my head. No surprise since nearly every life event is grist for the creative mill. He expressed that Noah and his family were to be spared the devastation of The Flood because he was considered a righteous man-chosen among the others who God thought had taken the world to hell in a  hand basket. Truth be told, Noah was sort of the ‘best of the worst. I hadn’t noticed anything exemplary about him as compared to others of his time. As the story goes, God beckons him to build a sailing zoo and into it, gather his wife, their 3 sons and their wives, along with two of each species of critter to re-populate the planet once the waters receded.

This text from the bible makes me scratch my head in wonder:

“God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”

A few things here…if Noah and his family members were the only survivors, then any future generations would come from relationships between siblings or first cousins. Don’t mainstream religious teachings kind of frown on that?  If the world was destroyed because people were not good stewards of the planet, wasn’t the above directive only setting things up for a repeat performance?  Part of the world’s problems as I see it is fear and dread of each other and by the animals of us as predators. The other conundrum is that if Noah was such a good guy, why did he not question the instructions that only he and his family be welcome on board the ark? Was he not concerned about the wellbeing of his neighbors?

The rabbi then went on to explain that Sophie was a beautiful example of stepping forward as a ‘mensch’ (good person) and caring about others. Her Mitzvah Project was reading to children in a Head Start program in Philadelphia and gathering books for them. Her secondary volunteerism takes the form of helping in the kitchen at her synagogue on Bingo nights. In Judaism, the concept of Tikkun Olam is a cornerstone. It translates to ‘repair of the world.’ With her creative tools, commitment to family and community, Sophie is indeed a ‘daughter of the commandments’ and one who will help piece together this fragmented planet. As the rabbi said by way of blessing her, may she go from strength to strength.

 

 

True Colors

I saw a post on Facebook this morning: “If someone shows you their true colors, don’t try to repaint them.”

This lesson has long been with me. It has been at the core of many co-dependent and dysfunctional relationships/friendships throughout my life. When people have crossed paths with me, sometimes there is a ‘halo’ effect. I would see them as being a reflection of only the glowing aspects of what they were about and not the shadow side or even how we may have had different lifestyle choices…not good or bad, simply different.

For example, if they were of an overtly dazzlingly spiritual, knock my socks off and make my heart swoon nature and seemed to be in alignment with my own practices (meditation, prayer, yoga, nature, drumming, dancing), then I would think it would spill over into every other aspect of who they were. Not always so. We are all multi-faceted beings with woundings and wonder that impact on our interactions with each other. Lately I have been contemplating this concept as it has been more than a year since I have been face to face with a friend who had been a staple in my life for more than a decade. Although I miss our contacts, I have had to seriously consider the ways in which I was attempting to repaint this person with my own brush and hues. A wish for him to be what I wanted rather than the reality of his own life path. What prompted the physical distancing was a pivotal ‘full circle’ event. I don’t regret it, but I do wish there had been a more graceful transition. Even so, I send a symbolic paint box filled with rainbows for him to choose to create his own masterpiece.

I was speaking with someone last night about reasons to be in relationship. She said something really wise- that when we enter into one, it ‘should’ be with the idea of supporting our partner in being all they want to be. I added that too often, people do it with the idea of molding that person into who WE want them to be and she volleyed back with the thought that we sometimes put them in a role that we ourselves want to be in which could look like living vicariously through them if we are afraid of living our own dreams.

Why wouldn’t we want someone (friend or partner) to grow their wings and be all they are capable of being, except for fear that they will move on?  I can think of many times the wings have been mine and I have needed to fly away. My hope was that these people who were still standing on the ground could applaud my flight and their own as a result.

Let your own true colors shine on through~

Previous Posts

There's No Place Like Home
It's Halloween as I am writing this. I just washed off the silver makeup, glitter and red lipstick that covered my face for a few hours when I was out and about tonight. My newly dyed hair is Manic Panic Ultraviolet. Nestled under the covers, I was perusing Facebook when a writing prompt snagged me.

posted 10:46:20pm Oct. 31, 2014 | read full post »

What I Asked For
Making the rounds on Facebook today:  "Everything you are going through is preparing you for what you asked for."  Another one of those inscrutable statements that can be interpreted in various ways. My take is that it isn't blaming as much as it is highlighting that we have such power, even on a

posted 11:13:33pm Oct. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Noah and The Mensch
Please note that I am not a biblical scholar, so this blog comes from a place of curiosity and the workings of my own mind, rather than theological knowledge. This past Saturday, I sat in the sanctuary of a suburban South Jersey synagogue, surrounded by family and friends of my 13 year old cousin

posted 3:12:56pm Oct. 28, 2014 | read full post »

True Colors
I saw a post on Facebook this morning: "If someone shows you their true colors, don't try to repaint them." This lesson has long been with me. It has been at the core of many co-dependent and dysfunctional relationships/friendships throughout my life. When people have crossed paths with me, somet

posted 12:03:50pm Oct. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Sunrise Sunset- Blissful Book Review~
    "Sunsets are love notes written directly to you and last lines are always the same. Life is too short and too precious to dwell on anything other than gratitude."- Gabe Berman Awe and gratitude are two of my favorite words; sunrises and sunsets two of Mother Nature's most d

posted 7:58:58am Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »


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