The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

No Explanation Needed

“No’ is one of the shortest words in the English language and one of the most difficult to say for some people, unless the person happens to be two years old and then it might well one of their most favorite to utter. It implies disagreement, disapproval, a sense of refusal and lack of cooperation. Sometimes we need to say it and sometimes we need to hear it. Sometimes a no to one person or experience opens the door to something even grander than could be imagined and a great big, resounding YES!

‘No’ also provides information. If someone asks for directions, for example and they query “Is Main Street that way?” and you know it isn’t and tell them no, then you are helping them out. ‘No’ grants permission to do something other than what is expected of you. If you are accustomed to being a ‘yes man or woman,’ then  saying the two letter word that is a complete sentence can take you away from habitual patterns.

There is a meme going around the reads “Learn to say no without explaining yourself.”  This is my growing edge, since I have had a history of people pleasing and emotional contortionism, which means that there were times when I would ‘bend over backward to please people’. When I have done that, I have robbed myself of the freedom to feel whatever I may in the moment. Just what is it that we humans fear if we say that ‘magic word? What arises in me is a worry that people won’t like me, or whatever project in which I am engaged, if ‘no’ comes through me. Testing the waters proved to me that I was not abandoned when I declined invitations to events, when I put aside the obsessive desire for approval, when I was unavailable to meet people’s needs. I have to admit that hearing ‘no’ isn’t much fun. Of course, we want to hear an enthusiastic yes to our requests. After all, we think that our desires are reasonable, so why wouldn’t anyone agree to meet them?

One of my many hats is that of a certified facilitator of a relationship enhancing workshop called Cuddle Party. It focuses on communication, boundary setting and safe, nurturing, non-sexual, consensual touch. What that means is that no one touches anyone, even if they know them well, without asking first and receiving a verbal yes. During the experience, there is what is called “The No Exercise,” which gives people an opportunity to practice using the word in a ‘lab setting’ so that they can then apply it in their personal and professional relationships. What we teach is that saying no doesn’t make you a bad person and hearing no doesn’t make you a loser, despite what people might think.

I encourage you to do a check in with yourself when asked to do something to determine if you are a yes or no to it. If your body had a voice to express your yes or no, which would it say? A felt sense, a gut reaction, a uh uh, this doesn’t feel right, might come through.

While there are certain things that are necessary to do in order not to have negative consequences, such as adhering to the speed limit on the road, or paying bills we incur by using services, not everything is a requirement. In the past few months, since the heart attack, I have done some major re-evaluation of my re-negotiation skills. It might have been unthinkable a year ago, to say N-O as often as I do now, if I don’t have the energy or ability to keep up the pace. Naps sometimes take precedence over going out to play. I don’t feel like a slacker or irresponsible person if I honor my right to say yes or no with equal ease. I invite you to do the same and feel the freedom gained.

 

 

 

Full Circle Experience

 

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With Christine Lavin and Julie Gold

Had a full circle experience on Sunday, when I walked through the doors of the Unitarian Church at 21st and Chestnut in Philly to celebrate the 80th birthday and illustrious career of music legend Gene Shay. He had been the host of folk shows on various stations for the past 50 years and the emcee at the Philadelphia Folk Festival as well; known for his goofy/groaner jokes. It is his voice that was part of my Sunday nights for decades on WXPN. This gracefully aging hippie was excited to attend the tribute concert that featured so many talented artists who are legends in the music world themselves. I described it as splashing about in love soup. The show was sponsored by Sing Out Magazine- another staple in the community.

The lineup included:

Full Frontal Folk, John Flynn, Julie Gold, SONiA from Disappear Fear, Tom Rush, Kim & Reggie Harris, Silk City, with Tony Trischka, Janis Ian, David Bromberg, Christine Lavin and Don White, Tom Paxton, Jay Ansill, Saul Broudy, Wannamaker Lewis, Kenny Ulansey and LisaBeth Weber.

What made it all the more poignant was that on October 24, 1986,  life as I knew it would change dramatically. I had gone to the Unitarian Church to hear Ram Dass speak on the topic of Seva-selfless service. During the intermission, a mutual friend named Ute Arnold introduced me to Michael Moser who I would marry the next year and with whom I would go on to publish Visions Magazine. During the ten year stretch from 1988-1998, I would have the joy of interviewing so many luminaries, including three who were there last night:

Julie Gold, Christine Lavin and Janis Ian. The interviews were done over the phone back then, so I had the pleasure of actually meeting all three of them at the concert.

Julie and Christine were part of the Super-group called The Four Bitchin’ Babes. Julie is best known for writing the classic -From A Distance that was covered by Bette Midler and Nanci Griffith. Christine offered two of my favorites songs from her repertoire as well.  Sensitive New Age Guy and Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind. Janis Ian sang her classics Society’s Child and At Seventeen.

Had I not gone to the presentation nearly three decades ago, had I not met Michael, had we not published the magazine, I would have been just another audience member, enjoying the music and legacy that Gene and the musicians had created and the footprints they were leaving in the sands of time. I wonder sometimes if things happen at random, or if they are ‘beshert’, which is Hebrew for ‘meant to be’. Do people cross our paths by Divine Design, according to soul contracts that we co-write even before we take our birth?

After the concert that lasted well over 3 hours, surrounded by kindred spirits, I went backstage for the ‘after party’, engaging in conversation and sometimes just sitting or standing back and drinking in the ahhhh energy of people whose love of music and Gene, brought us all together.

 

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With Gene Shay and LisaBeth Weber

A miracle of sorts occurred after the concert.

I had driven into the city with my friend LisaBeth from our suburban enclave of Bucks County. The roads were snowy and ice covered ….big surprise this winter, huh? I knew that my trusty Jeep would get us there and back safely, and still we had contingency plans to camp out somewhere in Philly, either with a friend of hers or at a local hotel if need be. As the evening wore on, we thought better of venturing out on the road. At that point, an angel named Mira Shapiro, who is part of LisaBeth’s and now my ‘family of choice,’ offered us the extra bed in the hotel room that she had already booked. Bonus was that it was around the corner, lovely and luxurious and had a restaurant where we could have a late night snack. Diving into a bowl of cauliflower soup ended my night well.  We had such fun, sharing cosmic coincidence stories. It turns out that Mira and I have two, among may friends in common- Karyn Oliver whose wedding I officiated two and a half years ago and Melanie Schaffner who introduced me to Karyn.

I live my life in trust that all thing happen in, as my friends Cheryl Baldwin and Mary Ellen Finerty describe ‘Grace, Flow and Ease.’  I am ready for the next loop around the circle.

 

Living With Grace, Flow and Ease-Book Review

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What if you could invite three angels into your home who would accompany you through your days, assisting you in having, as I like to refer to it, a ‘rich, full, juicy life’? Would you issue a call and then keep the door open to welcome them in?

Reading the book Living with Grace, Flow and Ease, you can do just that. Filled with first person accounts, expressed simply by the coaching and teaching team of Mary Ellen Finerty and Cheryl Dodd Baldwin, it offers practical ways of nourishing your dreams and desires.

By calling on these energies, which they define at the beginning of each section of the book, Baldwin and Finerty have witnessed turns of events that have brought goose bumps of recognition that we are all always in the right place at the right time.  Sometimes the delays experienced in daily activity can be life sustaining as they direct us away from potentially dangerous situations, as the authors know all too well.  Even those who might scoff at the ‘cosmic foo foo’ nature of such thoughts, will be convinced if they use the ideas expressed on these pages. Folks of a skeptical nature can find that the ‘How it works’ chapter will spell it out step by step.

A quick read, this light filled, but not light-weight book takes the reader on adventures to Mexico in the midst of Hurricane Emily, to Romania where the pair volunteer with children in need, and to England where they have the opportunity to feed a craving for authentic fish and chips.

This seasoned woman particularly appreciated the bold type font on the pages, which made it easier to read. There are several blank pages in the back on which to take notes if inspired, so it serves as a journal as well.

Cheryl Dodd Baldwin, MPH has degrees in psychology, public health, integrative health, is a certified life-coach, and holds numerous certifications in the holistic health field.

Mary Ellen Finerty, RN, MA has degrees in biology, nursing, and nursing education/administration, is a certified life-coach, and has certifications in the holistic health field.

Both Cheryl and Mary have been involved in the healing arts and personal empowerment field for over forty years. It has been their life’s work and passion. They have a holistic health practice in Mont Clare, PA and work with clients throughout the country. They have taught both nationally and internationally and are authors of the book, Living with Grace, Flow and Ease and host the monthly on-line show by the same title. You can find out more about them at www.graceflowandease.com

These three angels named Grace, Flow and Ease may yet become your best friends and constant companions.

The Sound of the Dove-Music Review

 

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“If you could combine the compelling voices of fellow Canadians Sarah McLachlan and Loreena McKennitt, with the soaring throat notes of kirtan singer; best known as Madonna’s back up singer, Donna DeLory, you would have a sense of the magnificent tonings and tunes of Pamela Jane Gerrand. The best way to appreciate her talent is to listen to her new release The Sound of the Dove . Each piece is a sparkling gem, a wisp of feathers wafting downward to be gathered up and held to the heart.

It opens with Prairie Sky which is a sweet love song.  “I can feel the thunder rolling in. I can taste the raindrops before they begin,”  sung in a sultry voice to the heartbeat drumbeat rhythm.

“I hear the colors in my voice,” beckons the listener into this Unadorned song in which Gerrand acknowledges to one who is dear to her “You are my shelter from the storm.”

What could become an anthemic piece begs the questions ‘”How many pairs of shoes do you need?  Are we awash in an ocean of greed?” as a children’s chorus reminds us that we have  Enough Already.

Let Go is an invitation to release fear. “Let go, let go, let go the shore.  Don’t hold on so tight.  Give up the fight.”

The Buddha Smiles  speaks to spiritual uncertainty. “Where do I begin to find the strength that I lack?”  The Sanskrit mantra Om mani padme hum which  commonly translates to ‘the jewel in the lotus,’ is chanted in the background. Violin accompaniment has an ‘Eleanor Rigby’- Beatle-esque feel to it.

The title song called The Sound of the Dove has one imagining raindrops from Maxfield Parrish clouds, bird wings coasting as Gerrand proclaims that “The sound of the dove can break you open. The sound of the dove can make you cry.”

Shine which wonders “Can you feel the fire down deep in your soul?  Can you feel it burning so bright? Sing your song on high. Shine on, sister, shine,” invites silk scarf dancing in oak groves.

Her own rendering of Scarborough Fair departs from the Simon and Garfunkel version that sounds as if it were sung in the era about which it was written.

Emerging encourages peeking out from our contained places into the space between the notes. “We are, we are, we are, I am, we are emerging. We are merging with the light.”

I’ll Meet You There references the field that the poet Rumi spoke of “Love is simple. Love is kind. Out beyond the struggle beyond my wrong and your right, there is a field filled with light.”

The closing track Pearly Gates of Song carries with it Native American drum resonance and chanting. “We are angels in disguise. Starlight falling from your eyes.We have journeyed for so long.” Eyes closed, listening to the echoes of ancestors as they both chastise and challenge to “welcome the winds of change.”

Gerrand’s talents go beyond her song-bird serenades. All of the songs, with the exception of Scarborough Fair came from her vivid imagination and wild word wrangling. Wrap yourself in wings of wonder.

 

 

 

Previous Posts

No Explanation Needed
"No' is one of the shortest words in the English language and one of the most difficult to say for some people, unless the person happens to be two years old and then it might well one of their most favorite to utter. It implies disagreement, disapproval, a sense of refusal and lack of cooperation.

posted 7:38:52am Mar. 04, 2015 | read full post »

Full Circle Experience
  With Christine Lavin and Julie Gold Had a full circle experience on Sunday, when I walked through the doors of the Unitarian Church at 21st and Chestnut in Philly to celebrate the 80th birthday and illustrious career of music legend Gene Shay. He had been the host of folk shows on

posted 9:50:13pm Mar. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Living With Grace, Flow and Ease-Book Review
  What if you could invite three angels into your home who would accompany you through your days, assisting you in having, as I like to refer to it, a 'rich, full, juicy life'? Would you issue a call and then keep the door open to welcome them in? Reading the book Living with Grace, F

posted 7:45:33am Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

The Sound of the Dove-Music Review
  "If you could combine the compelling voices of fellow Canadians Sarah McLachlan and Loreena McKennitt, with the soaring throat notes of kirtan singer; best known as Madonna's back up singer, Donna DeLory, you would have a sense of the magnificent tonings and tunes of Pamela Jane Gerr

posted 3:59:41pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Bucket List
I awoke in the wee hours this morning, from a dream about my parents. Both passed in the last few years; my dad in 2008 and my mom in 2010. They were the dearest people in my life; teachers, guides, providers, cheerleaders and guardians of my heart and soul. Although I know that they are safe and so

posted 9:43:22pm Feb. 24, 2015 | read full post »


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