The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Awakener

What comes to mind when you see or hear the word ‘teacher’?  Likely an image of someone standing in front of a chalkboard if you are of my generation, or a whiteboard with a marker if you are under 20. This person is imparting information that you may think or have thought “I’ll never use that.”. If your association with school was a negative one, you may even groan internally and your stomach might clench up. If like me, your connection with school was mostly positive (with one glaring exception of a math teacher who told us that if we didn’t understand the concepts he was presenting, we must be stupid and on some level I believed him since from them on, my math grades took a tumble), then you may be smiling on the inside and outside. My favorite teacher was Richard Serfling who in 6th grade, imparted both information and wisdom. His playful, outside the box thinking and teaching style led the way to my becoming a professional writer and induced further love of learning. He would fall into that category that Robert Frost referred to as an awakener. I would imagine that if I polled my classmates, they might say the same thing about him. I will have that opportunity to do that on October 6th when we have our (holy moley, Batman!) 35th high school reunion.

Over the years, I have had many formal and informal teachers; having gone through college, grad school and seminary as well as attending so many personal growth workshops and trainings that I have lost count. Each one sprinkled their own version of ‘truth’. The messages that stood out most profoundly were those that were empowering, setting the stage for even more growth. They were living examples of the guidance they offered. Goosebumps are my ‘truth barometer’ and were activated when many spoke. Some left me flat and I took what they offered with a huge grain of salt. Practical experience trumps all the data in the world and I would much prefer to learn from someone who has been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

I find myself in that position now, being looked at as someone who has ‘earned my chops’ and has something to say. I look at my life as an example, rather than just my words. Do I practice what I preach?  Most of the time. Am I a work in progress?  Absolutely, as I stumble over my well intentioned actions on occasion. Do I learn from the people and experiences around me and see them as my teachers too?  Always. My intention is rouse folks out of their sleep of forgetfulness and remind them that they are Divinely Human and Humanly Divine, that they are love incarnate, that they are here to shine their light in the darkened places, that they are living examples of goodness and compassion. Is there a higher calling than that?

I think of the quote by the Buddha which speaks so profoundly to this concept:

When the Buddha started to wander around India shortly after his enlightenment, he encountered several men who recognized him to be a very extraordinary being. They asked him: “Are you a god?” “No,” he replied. “Are you a reincarnation of god?” No,” he replied.”Are you a wizard, then?” “No.” Well, are you a man?” “No.” “So what are you?” They asked, being very perplexed.  Buddha simply replied: “I am awake.” Buddha means “the awakened one.” How to awaken is all he taught.

-Buddhist teaching

http://youtu.be/NXtQ_ck5ZtE We Are Awakening – Deva Premal, Miten and Manose

Multidimensional Multitasker

 

“Next time someone asks what you “do” just shrug, grin & say: “Multidimensional Multitasker”. They’ll either slink away all weirded out or you’ll have one of the best conversations of your life. Guaranteed.”~CAW

I love having quirkily creative friends with brilliant minds who aren’t afraid to use them. Courtney A. Walsh is one of them and I giggle and nod and smile and hear myself adding on her favorite reinforcing mono-syllabic word…”YUP!” whenever I read her facebook postings. The one above really jumped off the screen at me, since I see myself that way. I told her that it will now be part of my bio and maybe even my ever growing resume.

It amazes me how much I can accomplish in a day if I cast myself into it. It starts even before I open my eyes, although, like this morning, the sun was beckoning me to do so when the numbers on the clock had a 5 at the beginning. It isn’t a manic, racing thoughts kind of process, like being on a hamster wheel. Rather, it is a wish list of the things I want to do….this morning began with writing this entry,  then completing paperwork so I can marry a couple in New York City in September, then typing an interview for Wisdom Magazine, a phone conference with a friend with whom I am co-facilitating a workshop on Saturday,  putting my house back together after the two talented painters are finished their handiwork in my living room, dining room and hallway, then going to the gym for my playout and then seeing a counseling client tonight. In between, doing laundry, dishes, eating and showering and taking care of other bodily functions(:  Some of you may feel exhausted (as friends have told me) just reading the list and would want to head back to bed.  This is the pace at which I have run for years and although there are times when I need to be single focused and mindful of what I am doing, like when I am with a client or checking to make sure I have my keys, wallet, cell phone or when I am behind the wheel of the Jeep, I have gotten quite adept at accomplishing most of the things on my list each day. I learned from masters, since my parents modeled doing it all.

The dimensions in which I operate are many and varied as well, since I am a householder, parent, friend, sister, cousin, speaker, writer, minister, social worker, therapist, coach, promoter, volunteer….and the list is growing.  I shift gears readily, sometimes starting one task and then needing to put a bookmark in it, to take care of what presents itself in the moment. When I worked in a psychiatric hospital, I could be sitting with a patient and the phone would ring and I would need to answer it, since the caller ID indicated that it was someone I may have left a message for hours earlier and if I let it go, I may not have reached them again anytime soon. I may then have had to tell them I will call them back if the call requires more personal info about another patient than I would have been at liberty to share. I then returned my attention to the person before me and there could be a knock on my office door with a co-worker needing to tell me something…..and so it would go. Amazing that at the end of the day, I had any sanity left!

One of the experiences I have had as I am fully immersed in the fifth decade of my life, is what I have called “my middle aged moments” or more complimentarily “my wise woman moments”, since the older we get, the wiser we can become. There are studies that say that when we multi-task, we are less effective at any/all of those things we set out to do. I read about one that tested peoples’ abilities to forgo chocolate cake in favor of fruit salad if they had too many items to memorize. Silly me, even if I had fewer items to recall, I would still select my drug of choice.

At the risk of weirding people out, the next time someone asks what I do, I will proudly, gladly, delightedly, mischievously, mindfully, blissfully tell them “I am a multidimensional multitasker. How about you?”

http://youtu.be/Zhoos1oY404 For those of a certain age…you will remember this….Erich Breen spinning plates on the Ed Sullivan Show  This is how my life looks sometimes.

 

Inside Your Heart

As I am contemplating my message, inspired by the quote above, a random thought crossed my mind  that it reminds of the Capital One commercial which asks:  “What’s in your wallet?” A corollary is “What’s in your heart?” Imagine that at birth, you are given a suitcase of any size, shape, color and configuration of your choosing. You are told that you can fill it with love, healing, kindness, generosity, creativity, fun, play, renewal, abundance,  and curiosity in whatever quantities you select. It is ever expanding, so you will never run out of room for these states of being. All throughout your life, as you experience your daily encounters with people and events, you see more that you would like to take home with you and so you scoop them up and toss them into your luggage. Are you willing to let life be that simple, without second guessing whether these things belong to you? What if you knew they were your birthright?  Would you/could you ever turn them down?

My heart-suitcase is a repository for my relationships with folks who are actively in my life, as well as those I don’t see as often and those who are now in Spirit, having taken their own journey to ‘other lands’. Outstretched further are those on social media sites who trust me enough for them to share their most heart felt wishes and blisses, as well as troubling fears. Over the weekend, at a music festival, I witnessed interactions between people discovering each other for the first time in awhile as they hugged their delighted hello’s. Even though I didn’t know them, still I experienced a vicarious rush. It was wonderful to see people lovin’ on each other, rather than fighting each other, as they celebrated their relationships. I was also blessed to be in the presence of people with whom I share a great deal of connection who introduced me to folks that they knew, that I had not yet met. I call them ‘overlapping soul circles’, the name of which came to me a few years ago during a meditation in which I saw us all as stars, dancing in the heavens and began stringing ourselves together in unique and interwoven designs. It illustrates  that the six degrees of separation concept can occur serendipitously. In my life, I like to say that there are no degrees of separation, since I always know someone who knows someone that I know. This small world is getting even smaller as we expand our heart parameters. I have know many whom I consider ‘heart friends’ who know me by heart and vice versa. I few years ago, the words “I hold your heart sacred.” came through and it resonated with the feeling that I have when I consider those dear ones who so delight me by their presence in my life.

So, on this brand new day, as you set out to face the world, what size carrying case will you tote with you in which to collect souvenirs from your day trippin’ ?

To honor our heart connections..

http://youtu.be/ZN3E9Yyd1HA Thank You For Being A Friend-Andrew Gold

http://youtu.be/Zuzi-yH9VLo Friends-Elton John

http://youtu.be/Acq9w-9URgg You’ve Got To Have Friends- Bette Midler

http://youtu.be/RyYm3lilYOg Welcome Back-John Sebastian

 

XPoNentially Xstatic!

Thousands of sun-baked people filled the lawns of Wiggins Park, which was the Camden, New Jersey site of the 2012 XPoNential Music Festival. It  is hosted each year by my favorite commercial free/member supported radio station WXPN which  is based at the University of Pennsylvania and features an eclectic blend of music that fills my ears with exquisite sound and nourishes my heart.  I knew I would be joining friends and loved ones whom I see regularly, including my cousin Jody Rosenblum and her son Aaron, home from the North Star State of Minnesota and some I haven’t run into for years, as well as new members of my ever growing tribe. I was right on all counts. I made the wise decision to stay at the nearby home of my friends Phil Garber and Janet Berkowitz, rather than trek the hour plus to and fro which meant less travel time, more play time! Armed with blanket, mini cooler filled with healthy munchies, sunscreen, and water (one of the perks of being an XPN member, which I’ve been, I’m thinking for 15-20 years, is that we get refills of liquid refreshment as needed throughout the day. Nothing like hydration to make for a happy festival go-er:), I was ready to roll~

 

 

Each year, in addition to favorites, I find cool new musical discoveries.  This year,  it was the female fronted rockin’ band called Delta Rae. The line up included: The Lumineers, Hold Steady, Dawes, Rhett Miller, J.D. Souther, Diego Garcia, Kathleen Edwards, Wilco, The Avett Brothers and the Counting Crows.  I was familiar with all of these folks having been introduced to them on this station and sang, danced, clapped, cheered, swayed, drummed and hugged along to the tunes. Speaking of hugs, I noticed that a man behind me named Chris had a FREE HUGS button on his backpack and he was more than willing to assure me that it wasn’t false advertising. A few times over the weekend we greeted heart to heart. A lovely young couple, named Glenda and Steve who had just moved to the area from New Mexico, sat next to our group of friends and as we ran into each other at the end of  last night, we discovered that we had a great deal in common. She is a social worker as well and is enrolled at Rutgers University which is where I earned my Masters in Social Work (MSW) in 1985. We agreed to stay in touch.  I saw friends from various incarnations of my life; one nursing supervisor from a nursing home where I had worked, another, a hospice social worker, who visited residents in another facility where I had been employed. Two photographer friends Frank Jacobs and Alex Lowy were round and about throughout the days, working their magic. I think that they have the coolest jobs, that allow them to get right in there, down in front, snapping candids of performers and the appreciative audience.  Nancy Hesch and Sherry Reisner  were  welcome additions to the frolic. Another friend, Rocky Wilson, a colorfully creative performer himself, was easy to spot, sporting his rainbow hued hat and carrying his critter puppets…a monkey named Bongo and a rabbit named Pepperoni.

On to the music!  What impressed me the most, across the board, regardless of genre was the way in which each performer engaged with the audience. Whether it was in the more intimate setting of the park itself or a short walk away at the Susquehanna Bank Center (a considerably larger stadium), it felt personal. These are consummate musicians who have earned their place on stage and the hearts of those who applauded their talent. Not a huge concert-goer in my  teens, I felt particularly youthful last night, getting my second wind, easing away a sun-induced headache, I danced with kids young enough to be my own, along with my friends Janet Berkowitz  and Gary Schoenberg, to the music of the Counting Crows. Janet is a mime and performance artist who, last night reminded me of the Pied Piper as her enthusiasm drew people of all ages to cavort with her. Still shots and videos were being taken. It wouldn’t surpise me if they were up on Youtube by now. Gotta check!

Came home, eagerly rinsing off the sweat and grit, easing into sweet sleep, dreaming of the music of my soul.

www.xpn.org WXPN 88.5 fm

www.bradsrawchips.com  Kale Is Kool shirt from Brad’s Raw Foods

www.youtube.com/watch?v=1D5PtyrewSs Counting Crows A Long December

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqZZlL0l5Uk The Avett Brothers  I and Love and You

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhgShqI45ik  J.D. Souther  You’re Only Lonely

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQEj_9IhJSo Dawes When My Time Comes

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws4SSGAzz3M Kathleen Edwards  Asking For Flowers

http://youtu.be/TnCWk7ElXIs Delta Rae Is There Anyone Out There?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YfpTi-d_nM  Diego Garcia All Eyes On You

 

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