The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Invulnerable and Invincible?

Edietree2

 

Yesterday, in the midst of a radio interview with Kerri Kannan,  I was asked a question about vulnerability. It is a topic that has become as familiar as the fingers typing these words. I was awakened to it when viewing a TEDTalk by Brene’ Brown a year or so ago. It doesn’t come easily to me and is distinctly uncomfortable, since it involves a sense of trust in my ultimate well being. What prompted the query was a thread in the conversation about a few years back at a retreat, having plaster and casting material wrapped around my face so a mask could be made. Although I’m not typically claustrophobic, the 20 minutes it took for the mold to harden seemed to last hours. The friend who assisted me was an art teacher who knew what she was doing and she held my hand and guided me through it. When it was done, I felt much more at peace and had a pretty piece of work to show for it. It’s now hanging on my bedroom wall.

Kerri  likened the sensations I had during that process with how she imagined I might be feeling now post heart attack. Once upon a time, I felt invincible and invulnerable, taking all kinds of emotional risks without stopping to consider the impact; throwing caution to the wind. I like to say that I do emotional bungee jumping, since ain’t no way you would see me springing about from a stretchy cord. I was reckless at times with my heart; emotional and cardiac. I didn’t hold it sacred as I like to think I do for others. I took for granted that nothing could ultimately penetrate either version. That was until June 12th of this year when an artery required some mechanical propping up, as did my somewhat shut down heart chakra. Multiple losses that I pushed aside in the service of moving forward, came back to visit and I gave myself permission to feel fear and sadness; edgy emotions that, as a therapist, I am grand at encouraging clients to express. Recent deaths of friends exacerbated the experience.

I am also keenly aware that I have been reluctant to immerse in a committed life partnership in the interceding years, since I was widowed in 1998, because I told myself that I will never be so raw and vulnerable again; by surrendering my heart to someone who may not have been able to hold it in the way it (and I) deserve to be held.  Bless him, I think my husband did the best he was willing to do back then, but in many ways had not learned how to do so, not having had role models for healthy relating.

I am finding it less frightening to admit vulnerability, since when I do, people don’t run screaming and in fact, draw closer and can relate to my experiences. As I come out from hiding, I am willing to gradually let go of the need to control every aspect of my life. The armor is off and my naked and open heart stands ready to absorb all the love in the Universe.

Photo Credit: Terree O’Neill Yeagle

 

 

The Now What Club

This morning, I joined two dear friends for brunch at Mal’s Diner in Skippack, PA.  After a heart-healthy workout in cardiac rehab, I had a heart- happy  meal of egg whites, spinach (no cheese), fresh fruit instead of home fries and dry (no butter) whole grain toast. Yvonne Kaye has been my mentor and friend for more than 25 years; a seasoned woman who describes herself as “ripening” and not aging, having become an octogenarian last year. Today was her 81st birthday. She is a wickedly (in a good way), wildly funny person, having weathered many a storm throughout her life, without capsizing her ship of dreams. Patricia Gallagher is also a thriver; having been through personal crises over which she has triumphed. She is known as The Angel Pin Lady and The Flower Lady, since she generously gives out both to random folks in nursing homes, senior centers, shelters and on the street. We represent three different decades, since she is slightly older than I am.

As I entered the restaurant and greeted them with hugs, I shared that I am still facing medical issues that I thought I had overcome. I described it as a “Now What?” moment that can either be seen as OMG, now what?  or Oh wow, now what? I much prefer the second, but from time to time (and today was one of them), it feels like the first is fully operational. We decided that we would call ourselves The Now What Club and use that as a springboard to encourage other people to move past limiting and self defeating beliefs, while giving full permission for feelings as they arise. I think we could give the Ya Ya Sisterhood a run for their money.

As we laughed our way through our time together, I have come to even more deeply appreciate the bonds that women share. Each of us has achieved a modicum of success in our fields, each has become a tough cookie when needed and each is generous with praise, support and direction for the others. We are ardent cheerleaders, encouraging stretching our comfort zones. Who knows what the next steps will be individually and collectively?  We have some ideas percolating.

How do you engage in ‘now what?’ thinking?  What is YOUR now what adventure?

 

 

 

Enjoy Every Moment

Feeling emotionally raw at the moment, having just returned from a day of honoring my friend Delane Lipka. I had written about another extraordinary day in a previous Beliefnet article called In the Garden of Eden that described a gathering of kindred spirits that had been organized by Delane. For decades, she had run Mount Eden Retreat and this event two weeks ago was a last hurrah of sorts. We didn’t know it at the time, but perhaps her soul knew that she would be leaving this earthly home that she and her husband Harry who died in 2007, had loved into being and  return to the Home of her origin.

On Friday night, I was sitting around a table with 9 friends as we celebrated the birthday of my friend Ken Kaplan. We had been speaking of Delane since we were all connected to her in some way. Less than 30 minutes later, one of our friends who has long considered himself Delane’s brother, received a call from another of our friends, informing him that she had passed. Shock, tears, laughter, sharing stories about her, ensued. We had the sense that she had swooped by to take her leave and say goodbye.

On my way home, I called two friends to let them know.  I felt goose bumps when each of them said, “I was just talking about Delane a little while ago.”  Seems she came to visit them too.

The graveside ceremony was attended by people from Delane’s amazing overlapping soul circles. Some of the first I saw when I arrived on this beautiful blue sky day were from my past; one who had been my Hebrew School teacher and has been a rabbi for many years, who saw my father as a mentor of sorts, and a man who had been friends with both my father and my husband.  I had forgotten that they too were part of Delane’s far flung family of choice. The usual suspects were there as well…those who were at dinner the other night and those who were at the Kindred Spirits gathering a few weeks earlier. Although we are an affectionate bunch anyway, hugs lasted longer than usual. When someone dies, those who remain rely on each other’s comfort to remember that life indeed goes on.  The service was a beautiful blend of traditional Jewish ritual and prayer, as well as sharing Quaker style of stories about her creativity, unique character, kindness, open-heartedness, and an inimitable way of embracing everyone who crossed her path.

After the service, many us went back to Mt. Eden to enjoy each other’s company and continue the tribute to Delane. I had spent many glorious weekends there at Goddess retreats that honored the Divine Feminine. In the meditation room where the workshops were held, was a window seat that overlooked an expanse of sloping lawn and vibrant green, now subtly autumnally changing, trees. I perched on the ledge as the tears flowed. I remembered so much stretching and growth that took place in that room. I laughed to myself when I thought “If these walls could talk.”

I meandered about the grounds, both with friends and by myself, drinking in the blessing of this place. A favorite spot was a hammock beneath some spreading pines. It was there that I used to lie during the retreats and call my mother who lived in Florida for many years before she died. I would say, “Guess where we are, mom?” and we would hang out there together. Today, I returned to the swinging structure and spoke with my mom without need for the apparatus that had connected us, instead speaking soul to soul. She and Delane would have bonded, had they met, having some good laughs together and speaking about this messhugenah (Yiddish for ‘crazy’) daughter.

One of our friends who saw Delane as her “adopted Jewish mother,” is Elaine Silver. A talented singer songwriter, she recalls that Delane used to encourage her to “enjoy every moment.”  I can hear her voice sharing those words and hold them in my heart, since I too know that life is precious and that everyone is on loan to us.  Elaine penned this song on the flight from Florida where she lives, to come up for Delane’s funeral, as a way of paying tribute to our dear friend.

 

Enjoy Every Moment
c. Elaine Silver Music, BMI”
Enjoy every moment
Enjoy your life
When you enjoy every moment
You shine your lightThe love of God is blessing you
The light of God protects
The power of God is watching you
And Its presence re-directs   you toEnjoy every moment
Enjoy what’s here
When you enjoy every moment
The Truth is clearLife is good and life is grand
And laughing seals the deal
Reaching out your arms and hands
With hugs that help to heal

Enjoy every moment
Enjoy your life
When you enjoy every moment
You shine your light”

 

 

 

Cardia-versary

This morning marks 3 months since I experienced the kind of pain that cracks you open and has you revealing the emotional viscera that had long lay dormant. Literally at this moment, I was captured by the symptoms of a heart attack- searing heart burn pain, jaw tightness and wringing wet sweats. I say this, not to re-live it, but to celebrate that according to one of my health care professionals, I beat the 50/50 odds that had me surviving AND to remind others to pay attention to symptoms and offer good self care. Once upon a time, I thought it was just a term that I tossed out to my clients and those who attended my workshops and presentations; particularly those in the helping professions. For me, it meant getting by as best I could so that I could keep up with my crazy-busy schedule and meet my responsibilities. Eating on the run, sleeping when I could squeeze it in, fitting  ‘playouts’ at the gym 3-5 times a week. Now it means eating consciously, sleeping 7 or more hours a night, cardiac rehab (where I actually sweat more than ever I did at the gym:), walking daily, working from home with ‘normal people hours’, actually napping when I need to.

I had an appointment at our local Health and Wellness Center this morning, for another test and smiled when I realized how easily I walked from my car to the front door, when I could barely take a few steps without feeling winded at my initial cardiologist appointment and needed to take the elevator to the second floor. Today, I moved like a woman on a mission and actually charged up the steps, not having to stop and catch my breath.  I attribute my ability to speed up, with the choice to slow down. Not as much of a paradox as you might imagine.

In taking time to take time, I have added more of it to my existence. Although I don’t fear death, I still prefer to live a bit longer. More adventures to have. More hearts to open. More souls with whom to dance.

Happy Cardia-versary to me!

So glad that I’m Alive  (Thanks, Michael Franti for the soundscape)

Previous Posts

Invulnerable and Invincible?
  Yesterday, in the midst of a radio interview with Kerri Kannan,  I was asked a question about vulnerability. It is a topic that has become as familiar as the fingers typing these words. I was awakened to it when viewing a TEDTalk by Brene' Brown a year or so ago. It doesn't come easily to

posted 10:24:20pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

The Now What Club
This morning, I joined two dear friends for brunch at Mal's Diner in Skippack, PA.  After a heart-healthy workout in cardiac rehab, I had a heart- happy  meal of egg whites, spinach (no cheese), fresh fruit instead of home fries and dry (no butter) whole grain toast. Yvonne Kaye has been my mentor

posted 10:10:09pm Sep. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Enjoy Every Moment
Feeling emotionally raw at the moment, having just returned from a day of honoring my friend Delane Lipka. I had written about another extraordinary day in a previous Beliefnet article called In the Garden of Eden that described a gathering of kindred spirits that had been organized by Delane. For d

posted 10:03:50pm Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Cardia-versary
This morning marks 3 months since I experienced the kind of pain that cracks you open and has you revealing the emotional viscera that had long lay dormant. Literally at this moment, I was captured by the symptoms of a heart attack- searing heart burn pain, jaw tightness and wringing wet sweats. I s

posted 10:56:19am Sep. 12, 2014 | read full post »

Cosmic Coincidence
My definition of cosmic coincidence are those events that have me shaking my head in bewildered awe, asking "What are the chances that such a thing could happen?"  My answer is always the same. "100%, since it occurred." It is that encounter with just the right person, hearing a song on the radio r

posted 10:05:23pm Sep. 10, 2014 | read full post »


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