The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Rebel Thriver


There isn’t a person on the planet who has escaped loss, challenge and change, since it is the nature of human existence. Nothing stays the same, impermanence is the name of the game. The question is “how do we face it?” Is it with grace and grit or whining and worrying? If we are conditioned with a particular mindset, then it is up to us to decide if we want to maintain it if it is serving us, or shift it if isn’t. There are three perspectives from which to view the world and its occurrences:


Victim- Feeling as if we are being ‘done to'; at the mercy of someone elses’ choices and behaviors. Blame and shame is the name of that particular game. While it is so, that there are some circumstances in which someone in power causes harm to those who are weaker and more vulnerable (such as child abuse), it is when a person recognizes that they have the power to change their circumstances and their beliefs, that they are able to transcend their victimhood.

Survivor:  Characterized by a willingness to take that step away from limiting perspective; changing the story that may have had someone succumbing to their fears of how life ‘has to be the way it’s always been’ because that’s all they’ve known. Accompanying it is a sense that they are triumphing and moving forward. Taking responsibility for their feelings and perceptions. Often, I equate survivors with the flexibility of a willow tree that bends in the wind, rather than simply standing solid like an oak tree. I have physically witnessed a 50-60 foot tall oak tree topple in the midst of gusts, while surrounding willows remained when the tempest subsided.


Thriver: A winner’s perspective is a hallmark of this stage of evolution. Exhiliration that is contagious; since it is noticeable in the demeanor of this resilient one. They are able to gaze back and see how far they have come. Reaching out to others who may need encouragement and guiding them along feeds the collective soup pot of existence.  Bill W. and Dr. Bob who established AA and Alex Scott (Alex’s Lemonade) are examples of such powerhouses who took misfortune and transmuted it into magic. Think about the numbers of people positively impacted by their decisions to step beyond victimhood.

I saw this term ‘rebel thriver’ on Facebook this morning and it so resonated with my intention to rebel against anything that holds my heart and soul hostage, including my old worn out beliefs that I can’t have what I want in my life. Although I am generally an opti-mystic who sees the world through the eyes of possibility, there are times when the black out curtains come down and I am sitting in a dark room that has me stumbling around, feeling my way through the shadows. I wonder what it is that has me facing these gremlins that sometimes howl their ‘not good enough’ litany. It is in coming up smack dab against them that has me stretching my resiliency muscles and exhibiting gracefully flowing willow-ways. Rebel Thriver  Resilience by Thomas Newman


Children Full of Life

Toshiro Kanamori



“Let people live in your heart. When people really listen, they live in your heart forever.”-Toshiro Kanamori

What difference can one man make in the lives of so many? This morning, while watching a  portion of a video of a remarkable elementary school teacher  in Japan, I was reminded of a vibrant truth; that with love and compassion, full presence and guidance, empathy can be cultivated among children. Toshiro Kanamori is the 4th grade instructor who tells them that the purpose of this year’s work is “how to live a happy life, how to care for other people.” In the opening scene, the children are cheering, clapping and hugging him. This documentary called Children Full of Life explains a class assignment in which each day, three of the children share the feelings expressed in their daily notebook writings. One day, a classmate returns following the death of his grandmother. He reads his story of her passing and cremation. As he does so, his friends are moved to tears by his vulnerability and invite them to share their own tales of loss and pain, including that of a girl whose father died when she was three. She has, according to the narrator, been “holding down her memories for more than half her life. She had been afraid to talk about her father. She didn’t want to seem different. She paid a price.” My. Kanamori created an environment in which she was able to free herself. While comforting her, he also praised the young man who read from his journal since it gave her the courage to express her repressed emotions. Remarkably, he held space for the entire class to feel. He also seemed to know how to ‘close them back up’ in what might have felt like emotional surgery. I have seen a precious few workshop facilitators who teach adults these concepts exhibit the ability to do so.


I appreciated the emphasis on learning from life events, such as the death of loved ones as well as the importance of  expression of  a full range of human experience in the written and spoken form.  What touched me most of all,were the ways in which the children bonded over their mutual joys and sorrows. Imagine the ripple effect that this will have in their lives and that of those with whom they relate. This film was released in 2003 and these students are now 19 or 20 years old; young men and women out in the working world or in college. In the interceding decade, they will have faced challenges and triumphs. I am certain that with the influence of their beloved teacher, they will more than likely have blossomed into remarkable adults.





Luscious Living

I Will Not Die An Unlived Life
by Dawna Markova
 I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
 to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
 I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, a
nd that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
While meandering through this day, after seeing clients and doing some writing, I came upon this poem that I have read countless times, but today, in particular, it leapt out at me from my computer screen, beckoning to be shared with you. In the newly blossomed year, I have become increasingly courageous, facing fears, flying, falling, catching on emotional and spiritual fire; not burning to a crisp, but alight with ideas and inspiration. I have allowed day to day living to open me to more love than I ever imagined. Sometimes the openings had me torn asunder, the broken places cracking me to my core so that I could rebuild. Never in a million years had I figured my life as it is now. Married at 28, mothering at 30, widowed at 40, orphaned at 52, career adaptations and shifts by the millisecond, it seems. Called on to shift gears and perceptions, depending on who is before me. Today it is those clients recovering from addictions that they are now facing with their own particular brand of courage; some loving their recovery and the spiritual practice it engenders, treating it like a Beloved, and one who I joked with was just ‘dating’ his recovery and getting to know it, since it so new to him.
We spoke about the God moments we have, during which we are certain that we are tapped in to the Source that created and sustains us. We pondered the nature of God, (in 12 step referred to as “The God of our understanding”) and for me that shifts many times a day. I don’t consider myself a religious person, but rather a spiritual person who lets my words and actions speak for me and my beliefs. I have no desire to convince anyone that my way is right for anyone but myself. I am in awareness of God-essence most of the time. One of my clients asked today why it is that we forget. Spiritual amnesia is what I call it. I am brought back to mindfulness by people, nature, music, inspiration from many sources. Today, laughter was part of my luscious living experience as co-workers and I were cracking up over, who knows what?  We just felt a need to be silly in the midst of the vicarious stress we experience when sitting with clients who share their stories with us in session.
My luscious life includes dancing and making music with friends, playing with 2 year old Collin  (my son’s girlfriend’s little one) dressed in flannel Mickey Mouse p.j’s this morning before leaving for the office, writing these words, planning my radio show, playouts at the gym, creating miracles at the speed of thought.
I welcome the fruits of such experience…..crunch…..slurp….



One of the wondrous souls I have welcomed into my life, Candace Smolowe always brings a smile to my face and lights up my heart when our paths cross. It seems I have known her forever. Yesterday, she was the speaker/spark at my Sunday gathering place called  Circle of Miracles. Her topic was SpiritYOUality: Putting You First. What she meant by that had nothing to do with selfishness or neglect of the needs of others. It seems to me that if I apply Candace’s ideas, I will be better able to support and encourage others since I am simultaneously doing that for myself.  She began by speaking about the concept that God is constant with us and asked if we were constant with God. She asked about the difference between being religious and being spiritual. I raised my hand and gave her my own standard definition. For me, religion is about doctrine, dogma, rules and framework and spirituality is about the direct connection between my heart and (to use a 12 Step recovery term) ‘The God of my understanding’, which changes (my perception of what God is, not God Him/Her/Itself) from moment to moment sometimes.  She then queried who we wanted to be in the Presence of God. Hmmmm….naturally, I want to be in integrity, true to who I was created to be, loving, compassionate, welcoming, using the gifts I was given at birth, that I continue to hone and polish. She sprinkled in the guidance to be ” a better expression of God.” What would that look like?  Probably the same thing.


One of the most challenging concepts she offered had to do with an ongoing issue in my life. Although I claim to have a constant and enduring connection with the One who created me, there is still not total trust and knowing that all is well. When I turn issues over to the Divine, there is still this sense of holding on, not completely surrendering, as if I know best. Candace offered “The Divine knows what It’s doing.” I am so busy DOING, taking action steps, being a whirlind of activity at times, since I have been carrying a fear that I won’t get it all done, won’t be able to support myself, when I have forgotten that I need not do it alone. I sense that they energy that is God, is waiting for me to simply ask for help. It’s kind of like when I was bringing grocery bags in the from the car last night and I was tempted to carry them AND my backback AND my brief case at the same time, to avoid making a second trip. The last time I attempted to carry too many things at once, I dropped a paint can onto the driveway. The lid had not been secured at the stoor where I bought it and it splattered all over the driveway, on me, on the side of the Jeep…YIKES!  My life feels like that sometimes. How arrogant to believe that I could do this all on my own.  Do I really think on some level that I am more capable of managing my life solo? Daily I engage in a practice of celestial communication that I sometimes call dialogues and at others, refer to as monologues. I see each of us as a God-spark, inextricably woven into the One. They are comical at times, seeming like no brainers, sometimes they are poignant and powerful, sad and with a tinge of feeling lost. Always informative with new grains of wisdom gleaned from them.


One of her props was a teddy bear, wrapped up in a straitjacket, with a little red heart on the front of it. Although the image of someone in such a fixture, brings with it negative connotation, I saw it as way of saying that we are often bound up in fear and limitation when love is the force that can free us.

She then spoke about her Y.O.U. process outlined below:

Y stands for Yearning.  We each Yearn for love, peace, the feeling of Home.    We have a sense of the feeling of Home as a baby in the womb, in the  embrace of our beloved, in deep meditation and prayer, in the presence of a  Master’s work.  It is inherent in each  human being.  When we want to be loved,  or heard, or known, or valued, or appreciated, or feel connected, we can feel  that wanting as something even more than a desire.  It becomes a Yearning, from a place deep  inside, that we cannot describe with words.    It is so strong because we have  already had an experience of it.   And we  want it back.


                              Our Yearning is Divine Grace reaching for us. 

O stands for  Orientation.   Because the Yearning  is so strong and deep, we continually strive to satisfy it.   We Orient ourselves in a way that we hope will bring the connection and peace we  seek.  But, because we were taught that  life is hard, that if we do what we are told we will be acceptable, that we  mustn’t ask for too much, we concentrate our efforts in ways that are often in direct  opposition to what we want, like a compass needle pointing due South when we  are trying to go North.  We think that  peace is achieved through war.  That  being acceptable means starving ourselves.   That Love is conditional.  


              The anxiety  of being so removed from the Source of our peace becomes intolerable.   We seek first to find relief.   We fill up the empty space with addictions,  anger, jealousy, frustration, greed and pride to name only a few.    It is from fear, not love, that we choose  our actions of war and deprivation. 

              Fear will  not create peace.  Peace creates  peace. 

              Awareness  of how our orientation is based on our  human effort to recapture our connection with the Divine is a crucial step  in allowing peace and love into our lives.


                                 Our Orientation is our reaching for Divine Grace.

U stands for Union.  When we combine the awareness of the Yearning (Divine Grace) and a loving Orientation (Human effort), we create the opportunity to become fully aligned with our Higher Self and experience the peace we seek.   This is only possible when our human efforts  are aligned with the qualities of Love, Gratitude and Service.    Faith in the Divine is the path. 


Although it is grammatically incorrect, I am going to ask “Where is YOU in all of this, in your life?”

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