The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

How We Grieve

candlelit

 

“When my Guru died in 1973, I assumed that because of the important part he played in my life, and the love I felt for him, I would be inundated with grief. Surprisingly, I was not. In time, I came to realize why. He and I were so well established in Soul love that, in the years since he left his body, his palpable presence in my life has continued unabated.”-Ram Dass

I was reading an article called Learning To Grieve,  written by Ram Dass who is one of my favorite spiritual teachers, a pivotal influence for much of my adult life and who I had the pleasure of interviewing three times- once before his stroke and twice since. That paragraph jumped out at me and may explain why I grieved less intensely than I expected when my parents died.  My dad made his transition in 2008 and my mom joined him in 2010. We had a close relationship and they were key teachers of that Soul deep kind of love. One of the things I cherish about them is that they taught me how to live without them. They knew, as did I, that love survives death. Although my mother grieved her mother’s death, she was a part of our lives even beyond the time that she left her body when I was four years old. She was most definitely a Presence throughout my life.

The ring I wear was given to me by my mother before she passed and she inherited it when my grandmother died. The three stones in it have come to represent the three generations we embody. I often hear my parents’ guidance in dream and waking states. When I look in the mirror, I sometimes see glimpses of my mother. When I speak, it is as if they each come through at times. I am better able to let go of the need to have them here in body, when I know clearly that their human containers had worn out. My spiritual beliefs assure me that they are together and that they are well and at peace. As a result, I don’t fear death. It’s not that I am eager to experience it, since I have more work to do on the planet, but that when the time comes, I will be ready to embark on the next phase of this fascinating journey.

Grief looks all kinds of ways. When we let go of something or someone, there is a sense of loss, because we are attached to physical form. We think that this thing, person or animal defines us or is a part of us and without it, we feel less than whole; a fragment of ourselves. I have learned over the years that some day, everyone we love will die or leave us or we will die or leave them. Simple fact, that no amount of denial will alter. It helps me to appreciate them all the more. When the death of a person or relationship occurs, we cry, we feel bereft, or we may feel nothing. Numbness, as a form of protection, until we are ready to face the absence, can happen. Grief response can come in waves. There were some days when I felt despondent in the midst of missing my parents and my husband who died in 1998, and others when I experienced relief that they weren’t suffering, so then neither was I watching them experience it. The most surprising emotion was a sense of exultation, which I call my ‘transfusion from Heaven.’ When Michael died, I had that wave of what was no less than transcendent bliss. I then heard his voice say, in measured tones “This    is    what   Heaven   feels   like  all    the   time.   You   don’t    have   to   die    to   experience   it.”

Holidays can be an even more challenging time to lose a loved one or to remember the loss. My mom died the day after Thanksgiving four years ago and Michael died on the Winter Solstice, now going on 16 years. I needed to create a new sense of normal with regard to holiday rituals. Labels that identify our states are sometimes strange. I was widowed at 40 and became an adult orphan at 52.

I have heard that grief is a measure of the depth of love shared between you and the one you are remembering and compassion toward yourself as you heal, is what sustains you through it.

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”- Rumi

 

 

 

Recovering Human Doing

Lounging in bed, surrounded by lots of pillows and snuggled under quilts as I am typing these words. It is a drowsy, dozy Sunday morning. The radio is playing easing into my day tunes.  My standard weekend fare begins with Sleepy Hollow on WXPN which is a Philly based member supported Public Radio station out of the University of Pennsylvania.  Although I have a full, fun day ahead of me, with celebration at one of the interfaith communities of which I am a part and a holiday party at another in the afternoon, for the moment, I am in veg mode. That has become standard operating procedure for this recovering workaholic who would zoom at such a speed as to leave the Roadrunner in the dust. These days, I sit staring at the ceiling and gazing inward at my soul. My emotions are like a flowing stream remaining within its banks, rather than flooding in torrents, as they had been. I had been surfing the big waves, enjoying the ride at times, and  simultaneously fearing having them crash down on me. I put so much pressure on myself to stay ahead of the curve in all areas, holding myself to impossibly high standards for accomplishing all that was on my ever growing to-do list.

I still have responsibilities and deadlines, but they are far more manageable and I am not left feeling exhausted afterward. Hard to have imagined a year ago that I could have felt this way and have enjoyed doing nothing as much as I had enjoyed doing everything. On December 12th, I celebrated my six month heart-aversary. On that day in June, I experienced a re-birth and chance for a do-over, for which I am immensely grateful. I am amazed that I have been able to acclimate to my pared down schedule without going stir crazy or thinking myself a slacker as I had in the beginning of the process.

I have claimed my new identity as a human BE-ing, rather than a human DO-ing. It suits me well.

Profoundly Honest

“We must learn to be profoundly honest.”-Panache Desai

Wise words from one of the most engaging speakers I have had the pleasure of hearing. Back in 2011, I attended the Celebrate Your Life Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I had not, at that point, known of the British born teacher who exudes a sense of calm welcome. That is, until he began the workshop that was held in a room in which the temperature felt chilly. I wondered why this was so, and then discovered the reason in fairly short order. As he spoke, he paced around the circumference of the room, ever more rapidly, his voice speeding up as well, generating energy that took the form of heat. Self love and acceptance of our innate beauty was a theme. By the time I left class, I felt as if I was levitating a few feet off the ground.

Truth-telling was part of my upbringing on an overt level. My parents expected honesty from us; somehow knowing when we had our fingers crossed behind our backs, and yet … there were times when emotions were repressed and words held back to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Lying by omission. “Don’t tell so and so (fill in the blank), since it will worry/upset them.”

Over the years, I internalized that message and its companion- thank you, Thumper – “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Even with my training as a therapist, I struggled at times with expressing my truth, for fear of disapproval and ultimately, rejection. I have since learned the art of tact and diplomacy, without sugar coating, and still delivering the message, at least to others. It is when I am faced with my own exploration, as I have been doing in waves since the life changing heart attack in June, that I have a huge amount of ‘coming clean’ to do. Internal housekeeping. Getting the cosmic cobwebs out of corners, opening the proverbial curtains, letting the symbolic sun shine in, scrubbing the metaphorical refrigerator shelves; throwing away the ‘biology projects’ left to fester. I have had plenty of time to do that in the last half of  2014.

What has come of it all, is that for many years, in the service of desire not to lose the body-mind-spirit nourishment from my family, I wore many masks and thought of myself as an imposter. Unlike many, I didn’t feel like I had to earn love, but rather, I figured out how to keep it, by that Shirley Temple tap dancing I have occasionally described in this column. I made it all look good, getting good grades, making friends, playing nicely in the sandbox, excelling however I could, when underneath the façade, I knew the infrastructure was crumbling. Still, I kept the frenetic pace; determined to stay a few hundred yards ahead of the fears that were snarling and baring their fangs. They hissed and howled their “Not enough, you’re doing it wrong, you can’t keep up, someone will discover that you aren’t as smart, loving or capable as you pretend you are. You will lose it all, if you don’t keep the wheels in motion,” messages. I presented an emotional Photo Shopped image, hiding the lines and wrinkles, lest people turn away.

One can only maintain that pace for so long. My workaholism, born of parental models for ‘doing it all’ became my savior and tormenter, keeping me in motion, offering success and insanity simultaneously. If we know that a project will be labor intensive, but also that there is an end point in sight, we can keep up the pace. In my case, there was no end point and I was prepared to keep on keepin’ on indefinitely.  Spirit intervened and put the brakes on in the form of the series of health challenges- shingles, heart attack, kidney stones and adrenal fatigue. I could still rebelliously rev my engine; and believe me, I have attempted, but to what benefit? Letting go of the compulsion to prove myself and still maintain professional performance. Even after all these years as a therapist and journalist, I still face learning curves as I add to my repertoire and continue to fill my tool kit. Even though the term ‘best practices’ makes me cringe at times, since there is no ‘right answer’ to every question, I am all about excellence and not halfway measures. I put my heart and soul into what I do.

And as Lily Tomlin as Edith Anne used to say  while blowing raspberries: “And that’s the truth.”

Thriving Artist

EdieNinasmaller

Last night, I attended a holiday gathering for a group of talented artists, writers, publishers, radio hosts, producers, as well as PR and marketing folks. Needless to say, I was in my idea of heaven. The Center City Philadelphia Restaurant where it was held is called Bliss. What a perfect place for the Bliss Mistress to be ! My friend Nina Sidell, who is a highly intuitive coach and author invited me to join in the frolic.  Not tending to be shy, I made the rounds of the room, extending my hand and introducing myself to many of the others who were chatting and enjoying the yummy stuff on the buffet table. Lively conversation ensued as business cards and ideas were exchanged. People were talking about their creative endeavors and I felt like I was in interviewer mode as I asked questions about their projects and passions, listening intently.  A recurring theme was evident. Even though most were doing what they loved, there was still at least a wee bit of ‘starving artist’ mentality, as if it wasn’t fully possible to do what you love and be well compensated for it. That had been my mindset for far too long. These days, I am totally certain that if I do what I love, the money follows. I refer to myself as  a thriving artist and encourage others to do the same.

More joy brings more joy, more success brings more success. I have also noticed that when I send out invitations to The Universe for certain outcomes, they often show up on my doorstep. One example is that I had wanted to interview an author whose book was made into a newly released film. Turns out that one of the men there knows her personally and will reach out to see if that is possible.

Part of being a thriving artist is tapping into dreams and visions, messages and resources that come my way. I am a far more open channel for them and tend not to brush them away when they flutter around me. Another is that I am becoming far more teachable. When before, I would have felt a sense of disapproval if someone did ‘get’ my message or wanted me to offer my words in a different way, now I am open to learning more polished ways of presenting them. More skills in my tool box.

What would it take for you to embrace your own artistry in a far more expansive way?

Creating Vision boards onto which you paste images and words that represent your deepest heart’s desires.

Journaling your sleeping and waking dreams.

Writing and speaking affirming messages that feed your vision and intention.

Surrounding yourself with yaysayers, rather than naysayers.

Catching and re-directing yourself when you use limiting words to describe yourself and your work.

Be open to The Muse however he/she shows up.

Most importantly…have fun with the process.

 

 

Previous Posts

How We Grieve
  "When my Guru died in 1973, I assumed that because of the important part he played in my life, and the love I felt for him, I would be inundated with grief. Surprisingly, I was not. In time, I came to realize why. He and I were so well established in Soul love that, in the years since he l

posted 1:24:56pm Dec. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Recovering Human Doing
Lounging in bed, surrounded by lots of pillows and snuggled under quilts as I am typing these words. It is a drowsy, dozy Sunday morning. The radio is playing easing into my day tunes.  My standard weekend fare begins with Sleepy Hollow on WXPN which is a Philly based member supported Public Radio

posted 8:56:41am Dec. 14, 2014 | read full post »

Profoundly Honest
"We must learn to be profoundly honest."-Panache Desai Wise words from one of the most engaging speakers I have had the pleasure of hearing. Back in 2011, I attended the Celebrate Your Life Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I had not, at that point, known of the British born teacher who exudes a s

posted 8:51:37am Dec. 12, 2014 | read full post »

Thriving Artist
Last night, I attended a holiday gathering for a group of talented artists, writers, publishers, radio hosts, producers, as well as PR and marketing folks. Needless to say, I was in my idea of heaven. The Center City Philadelphia Restaurant where it was held is called Bliss. What a perfect place for

posted 10:50:24am Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »

Life is What Happens To You While You're Busy Making Other Plans
  On December 8th, 1980, I was working the overnight shift at a crisis intervention/youth shelter at Glassboro State College called Together, Inc. with my friend Joe Arnauskas. My sister called and said, "Quick, turn on the television! John Lennon was just shot." My reaction was denial that

posted 10:39:54am Dec. 08, 2014 | read full post »


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