Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

Friend is someone to share the last cookie with

 

Did you know that today is National Friendship Day? Sunday August 4th is set aside this year to honor those who make such a difference in our lives. My friends are my treasures and I hold them close to my heart. I have been blessed to have some who I have known since childhood and those who enter my world each day. They are indispensable and I can’t imagine my life without them. Hard to imagine a time when I didn’t know some of them; it’s like they have always been there and some, I KNOW have been in my life for eons.

 

This holiday came into being in 1935, when Congress dedicated the first Sunday of August to honor friendship. Since then, the idea has spread all over the world, with countries like India also dedicating their August’s first Sunday to friends.

In 1997, the United Nations named Winnie, the Pooh, as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship. I would believe that since he is a cuddly dude, which  is a quality I welcome in those in my inner circle.

In 2011, the United Nations officially designated July 30th as International Friendship Day. Parts of South America and South Asia celebrate the day, but many still stick to the first Sunday of August.

Despite current technology and social media, a study conducted in 2011 by a professor from Cornell  University indicated that most people report that they only have two close friends. Hard to imagine only allowing two people in that close. I remember sitting in the presence of a patient I was working with in the psych hospital where I was a social worker. This person was feeling bereft and shared “Everyone I loved is gone. I have no one in my life.” I reminded him “Everyone you loved was once a stranger. Do you believe that those you had were the only people you will ever know? There is a whole world of people out there just waiting to know you.” So many lonely folks feel the way this man did.

I make friends every day, because I set intention to do so. I have made friends in supermarket check out lines, in bathrooms while washing my hands, in the gym, in a mechanic shop while my car was getting serviced, in yoga class, on the job, and in drumming circles. There are some cyber friends who I may never meet face to face, but certainly have connected heart to heart. Although we play various roles in each other’s lives, those I honor most are the ones with whom I can laugh and cry with equal ease, truly and genuinely peeling off layers to reveal the whole of who I am. I would like to think they feel the same. Some have kept me ‘sane and vertical’ over the years. All see in me what I sometimes can’t see in myself. See why I value them?

In case you wondered how to acknowledge the relationships you treasure in various languages, here is a primer:

Albanian –  mik
Afrikaans – vriend
Chinese – péngyou
Dutch – vriend,  vriendje
Danish – ven
Estonian – sõber
Filipino(Tagalog) – kaibigan
French – ami
German – freund
Georgian –  megobari
Hungarian – barát
Indian – dost
italian – amico
Irish –  cara
Japanese — tomodachi
korean — jingu
Latin  — amicus
Manx — carrey
Old English — freond, wine
Persian — dust
Russian — prijátel
Sanskrit — mitra
Spanish — amigo
Swahili — rafiki
Turkish —  dost, arkadas
 A little chuckle http://youtu.be/n_fZP_AzfAE  Friendship Song  from I Love Lucy

 

“Being on the path of the heart transforms your awareness from aloneness to all-oneness, from separation to unity. In unity we perceive love, feel love, express love and accept that we are Love. How will you feel & be Love today?-Robin Schwoyer

I met Robin Schwoyer last year when she was a speaker at a conference I attended. Passionate for her purpose which is about women’s health and creativity as well as support for those with autism and their families, I was immediately drawn to her. We’ve traveled in the same circles for quite awhile, so it was a treat to finally meet heart to heart to hug.  Like many  of you who are reading this, Robin is a Renaissance woman-minister, yoga teacher, artist, mom, workshop facilitator and healer. Colorful and just plain fun to be around.

When I saw this posting on her Facebook page this morning, it beckoned further exploration. What is the ‘path of the heart’?  That question reminds me of this quote:

“A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”   ?  Carlos Castaneda

When we are born, we set out on our unique path. While we may be guided by the adults around us, it is still ours to choose. We may decide to succumb to the limitations dictated by others; either out of their own woundings  or their love for us and desire to protect us from wounds. We may detour around roadblocks and literally take ‘the road less traveled.’ We may use a map, compass or GPS or simply trust the guidance of Spirit, that tells us to take certain turns. I can’t enumerate the time when I have done that throughout my life and have been in awe of where I have shown up and who was waiting to greet me when I arrived.

Lately, I have been accompanied by many courageous souls who are blazing their own trails and who may walk with me on a parallel path and then take a divergent route, having left each other better off since our paths crossed. It’s  that whole ‘reason, season, lifetime’ concept that says people come into our lives in all kinds of ways for all manner of purpose. It’s sheer excitement for me to ponder the possibilities of who will come into my life on any given day. See, I don’t have an existence that looks the same for any length of time. I live full out, keeping the door open for adventures of the heart. I still feel, at times, like a little kid who peeks around the corner, giggling, eyes lit up, crooking my finger in invitation to come play. That’s an action that one of the heart path would take. I like the Hafiz quote that relates to this:

The Seed Cracked Open

It used to be

That when I would wake in the morning
I could with confidence say,
“What am ‘I’ going to do?”
That was before the seed
Cracked open.
Now I am certain:
There are two of us housed
In this body,
Doing the shopping together in the market and
Tickling each other
While fixing the evening food.
Now when I awake
All the internal instruments play the same music
“God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do
For the world today?”
~Hafiz
Can you tell, I am meandering today?  I invite you to hold my hand as we swing our arms and wander the path together. Who knows what delight we will find and what love-mischief we will create today?

www.pinkheartswellness.com

 

 

“Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart.”-Thomas Fuller

In the 5th decade of my life, my mind and heart are repositories for all sorts of life events. There are some I would much prefer to toss like those ‘biology projects’ that develop when cold pizza, Chinese food or rancid milk sit there for too long. Other are like treasures that I am grateful have a long shelf life. Those are the ones into which I delve, like a familiar book that  I re-read, savoring with a satisfied smile. Proof positive that life is good.

I was blessed to have had a childhood filled to overflowing with family, friends, vacations, holidays, as well as day to day activities that are part of the book of my life. I often return to visit those times and carry some of the experiences with me, just as you would take some old soil with you when you transplant flowers. Fortunately, I have relatively few painful memories and those I use as fertilizer for new growth. Deaths of loved ones, loss of friends, endings of romantic relationships, conflicts, an ectopic pregnancy in 1992 that necessitated emergency surgery, destruction of our home in Homestead, Florida in Hurricane Andrew, watching my husband and both parents experience suffering as a result of illness, all are part of my memory banks too. As much as I would not have wished for them, they too are valuable and help me appreciate the ‘good times’ all the more.

I dipped back into the past over the weekend when speaking with my friend Greg about two incidents that occurred around age 6. Both had to do with feeling of loss that to an adult might seem trivial but to a little kid were pivotal. The first was connected to the kindergarten ritual of naptime. Lying on mats in rows, covered with blankets, we were tucked in for a brief bit. My mom had sent me in with a powder blue one that had a silky trim around it that I liked to rub against my cheek. One day, when the time came to gather our ‘blankies’, I couldn’t find mine and I felt a sense of uh oh panic. Then I saw that another classmate, Michael Jacobskind (I still remember his name 48 years later, holy moley!) was clutching a familiar piece of fleece. I approached him and told him that it was mine and he shook his head and claimed it was his. The teacher broke the stalemate by noticing that my name was on it. Whew! What a relief that I had my transitional object back.

The other one took place the following summer when I packed up my gear in anticipation of a week at Camp Kettle Run in Medford Lakes, NJ. It was my first sleep away experience and I felt like a big kid, going off to Girl Scout camp. I still have a Kodachrome moment shot in my mind of standing on our front lawn, with a white sailor hat, brim turned down and a yellow shirt, smiling confidently. The thrill was short lived when I lay down on the cot in the tent with a few other girls and realized that I missed my familiar bed and my family. It was my first experience of homesickness.

As best I could, I engaged in the activities, which included arts and crafts, hiking in the wood, music, learning about nature, storytelling and dancing around campfires. In between, I would write tearful letters home, telling my mom that if they didn’t come get me, I would die):  In exchange, she sent loving letters back, written on notecards, each decorated with dolls from around the world on which she would write that she was glad I was having fun. Such denial of my feelings in an attempt to cajole me to really have a good time. What I didn’t know at the time was that she actually HAD come to the camp and met with the director who told her that it was best to let me stay the week and that she and the staff would look after me and that I really would have fun. She was right and by the last day, I was immersed in activities. The night before the last day, we had a campfire and painted our faces. The next morning, my mom, sister and Russian immigrant, Yiddish speaking Bubbe came to pick me up. I hadn’t fully washed the reddish brown paint off  and she exclaimed “Oy, she broke her nose and they didn’t tell us!” After looking closely, my mother assured her that my nose was indeed intact.

Both of those memories had been lodged back there and minimized and in retrospect, I can see how my perception of them shaped some choices I have made. Glad they are now out and about, acting as tools to build my life, rather than weapons to use against myself for being so ‘sensitive’.

These days, I cherish so many experiences, anchoring them in with love, treasuring the people who helped me to make them.

http://youtu.be/EzErh_s62Wk Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah- Allan Sherman

 

 

Terri-Levine

Last week I met a courageous woman named Terri Levine. She doesn’t jump out of perfectly good airplanes or leap tall buildings in a single bound, but she is somewhat of a super-s/hero in my book. Every day, she faces the kind of pain that I shudder to even contemplate and yet, she keeps on keepin’ on in her work as a conscious entrepreneur and business coach. She was a speaker at a marketing conference I had attended and not only was I was deeply moved by her passion, her creative business savvy and impeccable integrity, but also devotion to a cause that is both personal and universal for her.

 

What is RSD?

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), is a chronic pain, neurological syndrome.  RSD is a malfunction of the central nervous systems, which causes pain and additional symptoms. RSD effects millions of people in the United States.  This is not a new disease. RSD has been documented all the way back to the Civil War.  If not treated aggressively and correctly RSD spreads rapidly.

When and how were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed when I tore my achilles tendon about 6 years ago.  Even though my leg was set in a full cast I was screaming 6 hours a day with pain and went to over 13 doctors until I found a doctor who diagnosed me.
What keeps you going in the face of the horrific pain you experience?
I can either have a pity party or I can do good work in the world. I prefer to do good work.  Focusing on others takes the focus off me and allows me to make a difference in the world.
What is the Terri Levine Foundation For Children with RSD?
I developed this foundation because I hate to think of the pain that a child suffers from each day with this disease. Imagine pain so severe the breeze of someone walking by causing excruciating pain so intense it’s as if someone just lit you on fire, the vibration of a vacuum cleaner shooting through you like knives, or muscle spasms so strong your body shakes uncontrollably. Imagine not being able to roll yourself over or sit up without help, not being able to swallow, waking up blind, or trying not to breathe because it causes too much pain. Being stuck in bed, feeling so isolated and alone, while life passes by and everyone you once knew moving with it, leaving you behind.  Ketamine infusions (the only thing that takes away some of the pain) are $500 each day and to start you need to have 10 of them back to back. Insurance won’t cover this because it is an “experimental” drug.  So I developed the foundation to raise funds to help children with RSD get the medical care they need. All funds raised by The Terri Levine Foundation for Children with RSD go directly to helping these children.

 

 

Besides the obvious physical implications of having the condition, what emotional toll does it take on those with the diagnosis?

RSD may have profound psychological effects on patients and their families. Many with RSD suffer from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. The psychological impact of chronic pain from  RSD/CRPS and the impact on coping can be serious. Chronic pain is often associated with  depression and anxiety. This can include not enjoying the usual pleasures of life, crying spells, a lack of drive or a-motivation, decreased ability to cope with even minor stressors and frustrations, irritability, a diminished sexual drive, social withdrawal from others, and a loss of self-esteem. Intrusive rumination or tendency to worry and think about sad or distressing things or problems without resolution can become problematic. In addition, with the development of a chronic health problem, one can become increasingly preoccupied with health concerns and pay too much attention to some minor complaint that previously would have been ignored, but now may be seen as indicating something potentially serious. 

 RSD pain is ranked 45 on the McGill pain index, which means it is rated as the most painful chronic pain disease that exists. It is above cancer(non-terminal), and both medicated and non-medicated labor/delivery.
 
RSD/CRPS is often called the “Suicide Disease,” because it causes so much pain that the patients are in greater risk of taking their own life.
In addition to mainstream medical intervention, are there integrative modalities that can be helpful?
Two major approaches to the medical treatment of early RSD exist: sympathetic blockade and anti-inflammatory therapy. Although these are not mutually exclusive, the order of usage is generally specialty-dependent, with anesthesiologists/surgeons starting with the former and internists/rheumatologists starting with the latter.
* Anti-inflammatory medications (corticosteroids, calcitonin)

 

* Although nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may provide some symptomatic pain relief in patients with RSD, they are not effective in altering the skin changes or natural history of the process and thus play only a supportive role.

 

* Spinal cord stimulation: typically works 3 months or less

 

* Ketamine infusions: works to temporarily alleviate some pain in some patients but does not stop the disease process

How can people get involved?
Help a child today by making a donation at: www.TerriLevineFoundationforChildrenwithRSD.org  and/or host a speaking event/fundraiser
 Is there anything else you would like folks to know?
Because currently there is no cure for RSD, the goals of treatment include: 1) controlling and minimizing pain to the greatest extent possible; 2) restoring function to the RSD-affected limb; 3) preventing progression of the disease process to the late stage; and 4) improving the patient’s quality of life and psychological functioning.”

And we want to help children have the greatest joy in life as possible.