The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

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~

Sunrise Sunset- Blissful Book Review~

Sunrise_Sunset_book_cover_093014

 

 

“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 dazzling gifts. What I think of as a mini-coffee table book merges them exquisitely in Sunrise Sunset: 52 Weeks of Awe & Gratitude. Seen through the lens of wonder and a camera from the 14th floor terrace of photographer Kim Weiss’ Boynton Beach,  Florida home, every image is as unique as each unfolding day.  An expression of the inextricable relationship between the human and the solar.

Weiss, a book publicist who has worked for Health Communications (the publisher of the legendary Chicken Soup for the Soul series) for 20 years,  now finds herself on the author side of the business with her first and I daresay, not her last offering. What was a fascinating hobby has become a community builder as she began snapping images, sharing them on her Facebook page  and inviting others to post their personal pictures from their own vantage points on the planet.  With the encouragement of her visionary partner John, this little gem took shape. The book can be seen as a meditation tool, as the reader opens to a page at random and gazes at the celestial show; not knowing for certain which direction the ‘bright morning star’ is moving.

As if taken from an artist’s palette, the colors that are splashed across the sky and captured by Weiss’ trained eye, range from goldenrod to pastel pinks and baby blues, from deep magenta to pure white cotton cloud puffs.

Knowing that images and words blend beautifully, Weiss cast her net out to talented writer friends and asked them to send in their poetic contributions. What came through is nothing less than goose bump inducing.

“I once had a bedroom where I could see the sunrise through one window and the sunset thought another.  Mornings, I’d watch the sun spread its butter thicker and thicker around the oak trees, and then brilliantly dissolve in a flood of glowing light. Nights I’d sit in awe as he sky played with the sun’s box of crayons. These sacred bookends of  light and color always lifted my heart and filled me with gratitude for the beauty of both beginnings and endings.”-HeatherAsh Amara

“The rising sun, the morning star, a new day. In the Andes, the Q’ero people met each morning with their prayers, light from light. There is a tradition I brought home from my times in Peru. Facing the sun, we open up our bodies, outstretched arms, palms facing forward, breathing deep and slow and exhaling all attachments. Breathing I light, bringing our right hand over our hearts, saying aloud, “With all my love,” and then the left hand over the area just beneath the belly button, and saying aloud, “With no fear, I meet the day. May peace by with you.”-Lee McCormick

“I can’t think of anything except sunrise at my house-when it sets the tops of the trees on fire I know it’s going to be a glorious day.”-Candace Bushnell

Other contributors are among my favorite treasured wordsmiths and teachers of love- including don Miguel Ruiz, Lisa McCourt, Jacob Nordby, Arielle Ford,  Brian Hilliard, Jack Canfield, Judith Orloff, Temple Hayes, Joan Borysenko, Lisa Nichols, Betsey Chasse and Jean Houston.

Weiss has chosen to donate a portion of the proceeds for the book to a charity called AVDA-Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, which is in keeping with Health Communications’ policy of social conscience.

As I am writing these words, the sun is peaking out from beneath early autumnal down comforter clouds, yawning and stretching as it ushers me into a day of infinite possibility.

sunriseoverdublin2

Previous Posts

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 »

For All That We Are
'To be witnessed and embraced for all that we are; the good, bad and ugly; as striving human beings daring to reach for the stars, is a gift beyond measure." These words came to me as I was writing a chapter for a soon to be released co-authored book called Embraced By the Divine: The Emerging W

posted 10:48:42am Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »


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