The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

When Two Or More Are Gathered

 

Cynthia Segal  (another Facebook friend) was describing to someone the way to create a certain emoticon to go along with postings.  Simply by typing the < symbol followed by the number 3 side by side, it becomes a lovely heart.

Had an interesting insight  about those symbols:  “When 2 or more are gathered in my name….”  < +  3   =<3

Although I am an interfaith minister, I am not a Biblical scholar. I am however, a lover of symbol and ritual  and know a metaphor when it is dancing right in front of me. The quote from Matthew 18:20 reminds me of the power of kindred spirit relationships.  “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Tonight was such a night to have that amazing experience. Sipping tea, I am easing back following a presentation I offered at a healing haven in Emmaus, PA called Vitality Healthcare Center, stewarded by Darin Mazepa who is an awesome chiropractor who actually gave me what he calls an ‘entrainment’ prior to my speaking, telling me he wanted me to be clear for the audience. Less than a year ago, Darin and I did not know each other, but sensed an immediate connection, an ‘oh there you are, old friend’ experience. You all have them, I imagine when happening upon another person who feels strikingly familiar. We share similar musical tastes and world view and until tonight, had never laid eyes on each other, but the in person ‘reunion’ was lovely. When I drove up to his office, I saw my name on the marquee out front and felt like a superstar(:  He greeted me with a big old hug and welcomed me into the room which was filled, in short order with eager participants who wanted to leap into a life they had only dreamed of. By showing up, they signaled a willingness to take a step beyond what they thought was possible for themselvcs, into what could be so, with sufficient dream power, followed by inspired action. I met a roomfull of new friends, including Darin’s lovely partner Pamela. Together we stretched and kvetched, (I teach something called the ‘oy vey stretch’), shared our deepest dreams and most heart felt desires and supported each other in drawing in what we wanted. We sprinkled love on each other that poured forth from a can marked Love, Spice for Living. We laughed and cried, we perfectly imperfect works in progress. I am certain that upon leaving the room, these folks  also left an imprint; an energetic signature that will reverberate in endless waves of contentment and joy. I am equally sure that they will carry this contagious condition out into the larger world. We may have entered as strangers, but left as family of choice.

Certainly the I Am, was invited into that room tonight and I sense, was metaphorically smiling in welcome, reminding us to continue to gather to celebrate the love that we are.

Gratitude As A Way of Life

                                                                                       
In a recent article written by Melinda Beck in The Wall Street Journal, she shared:  “A growing body of research suggests that maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional and physical well-being.  Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.”
Within the article is a test that readers can take that measure the degree of their gratitude. I scored 42 out of 42 points. It indicated that people who score in the 40-42 range, see life as a gift and that for them, gratitude is a way of life. I do and it is. Hard to imagine feeling any other way. Perhaps it has something to do with my upbringing. In my family, we were taught that awareness and expression of gratitude were natural outcomes of  healthy interactions between people, regardless of age. Never did I feel less than because I was a child. My parents thanked my sister and me and each other in our presence. Thank you notes were sent following birthdays. Appreciation for the blessings in our lives was as natural as breathing. Besides, it just plain feels good to immerse myself in thankful mode. I sometimes think of it as being thank-full to overflowing, just as a stream can overflow its bank, so too can we let our appreciation water and nourish the grass around us, as we grow our relationships.
I love ritual and engage in it throughout my day. When I awaken, I give thanks for the day, brimming with opportunity to create anew. Over the next 12 hours, especially if I am feeling anything but grateful, I pause and consider what it is I appreciate about my life circumstances, even as I may be hardpressed to find something to like about the current situation. When I do that, it feels as if a huge boulder has been lifted. Before I drift off into dream land, I take stock of my day and count my gifts and treasures. I also periodically create an ‘attytood of gratitude list’ and listen to songs that express thanksgiving, singing along with gusto. As a result, I find that I am consistently healthier and happier than many people I have encountered. Since like attracts like, I am discovering lately that the folks with whom I cross paths are indeed more pleasant to be around.
I invite you to take time and create a list of 10 things for which you can be grateful. It could be as simple as being able to open your eyes and see the sun streaming into your home.  Create a gratiude vision board with pictures and words that evoke a sense of serenity and appreciation. Tell the people in your life that you are grateful for their presence, even those (especially those) who push your buttons. AND it is important to thank the woman or man in the mirror for sticking with you all these years.
http://youtu.be/ZRe339H4Iwg  You Inspire Me: A Song of Gratitude by Skye Dyer
http://youtu.be/D6jB7PFSw8k  They Shaped My Life by Jason Mraz
http://youtu.be/HliNxhlDP4o The Thanksgiving Song of Gratitude by Bob Baker

What Wisdom Dictates

 

A few years ago, through the phenom of Facebook, numerous high school classmates re-entered my life. I attended Willingboro High School in the South Jersey suburb of Willingboro which was one of the original Levittown communities (the others are in New York and Pennsylvania). I have enjoyed catching up with these folks, most of whom I haven’t seen since our graduation in 1977. Some stayed in the area, others scattered to the winds. Back then, I had friends from all social strata, every conceivable group and still, at times felt like an outsider, an observer of the play that was unfolding on stage. I wondered whether those who seemed confident, really were, or like me, had sometimes nagging inner critic monkey mind chatter going on in their brains. Only they can answer that now, since we are all in our early 50′s and hopefully have done an inventory, or at least an overview of our lives. I sure have. Some have passed, sadly and leave a legacy among family and friends. Others have gone on to create lives of which they can justifiably be proud. We are planning our 35th reunion for this summer and I am eager to discover the answer.

One such is my friend Dan Poor. Danny, as we called him then, was among the group that in that era, would have been called ‘jocks’, although I see him as a well rounded athlete. A gymnast, I marveled at how he would defy gravity, since I much preferred to have my feet on the ground….or in the water, since at that time in my life, I was a competitive swimmer (freestyle and butterfly were my favorite strokes…I still have the shoulders to show for it:)

In his career since then, he became a high diver at Sea World, a flaming hoop jumping dare-devil stunt performer in Cirque Du Chimelong in China, wearing glittery, glowing vividly colored face paint, cliff diving in Acapulco and these days, he provides fitness training and sweeps ladies off their feet doing swing dance. He is also, one of the most open hearted people I know, a fun dad and grandpa, moving to Maine to companion his 90 something year old mama.  Dan is doing what I wish I had the luxury of doing with my mom before she passed, as he is spending a great deal of time with the woman who raised him well.

A thread on his Facebook page spoke about his training for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series next year. I watched the video of others defying gravity, overcoming what might be heart thumping fear, to be in ‘the zone’, soaring sans wings, at a gazillion miles per hour (how fast is it really?) His friends were cheering him on (me included) and spoke about getting Team Dan t-shirts in support. I had mentioned visualizing the twists and turns, the outcome (he already knew this, I’m sure) and when the time came, his body would already be in go-mode since he had rehearsed it in his mind so many times. It’s true for all of us, athlete, or not, that if we SEE it, and FEEL it, we can BE it. He responded in a way that indicated he was reminding himself to take it slowly and easily. I added that there have been times when I have over-done it in an effort to prove that I still can. His response: ” Hopefully the obvious decline in physicality is more than made up for in wisdom!! Not so sure that doing multiple spinning and twisting dives from 90′ is particularly wise at this age, but my heart’s in the right place, and it sure is exciting! Ultimately I just don’t want to look back and say, “If I’d only…..”

And I answered: “Now the question is, does wisdom dictate that we do more of that daring, gravity (emotionally and not just physically) defying stuff or less?  I do all I can, to refrain from saying those things too…can’t say I would do some of the things I did in my younger years (like 10 day Outward Bound Course at 22 out of Dartmouth…40 below at night, coming home with frostbite on both hands, a broken pinkie, sprained ankle, bronchitis and bruises on my hips from carrying a 50 pound pack around for the duration:)  Had a blast though.”

Now I gaze back at my time line, and consider those things I did in the previous few decades and smile with delight that this 53 year old body can still do some things that it did in my 20′s with greater grace and ease, since I am more comfortable in my own skin. Although I am far more comfortable with my toesies on terra firma than in the air, like my friend can do with such dazzling effect, I take a whole lot of emotional flights of fancy, willingly in free-fall~ YAHHHHHOOOOO! <3

 

Beliefs=Results

Since the website for which I joyfully write is called Beliefnet, it occurred to me wto write about the idea of beliefs shaping our reality. According to the Free Dictionary by Farlex,  a belief is :

1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another: My belief in you is as
strong as ever.
2. Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something: His explanation of
what happened defies belief.
3. Something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons.
Where do our beliefs originate? Some might say:  our environment, which would include our family, society/culture, the media, friends, our faith community. When we are children, we seem like tiny sponges, soaking up the messages in which we are immersed.
How do beliefs impact on our lives?  I can say with all clarity, that there are some beliefs that nurture and support our wellbeing and others that tear it apart. In my work as a therapist and facilitator, I have heard stories that celebrate the resilience of the human spirit and and some that are are a testament to the poisonous thoughts that are perpetuated when people persist in believing things that don’t serve them. What if your life experience had you believing that you were worthless, a failure, damaged goods, beyond help? What might your day to day activities and interactions with the world around you look like?  Most likely dark and dismal. Conversely, what if you (like I was, blessedly) were showered with love and nurturing, support for your dreams and passions? What if you were told every day how much you were loved?  Although there are no absolutes in raising children, I would venture a guess that you would feel safe enough to venture out into the world with courage and purpose.
How can we change our beliefs?  The first step is to do an inventory. Where am I in my life? I ask myself what someone would need to believe in order to have the consistent life experiences they are having. If a person over and over felt rejected, less than, put down and walked over…what might their prevailing thought be about themselves?  On the flip side, if someone felt successful in relationships, welcome wherever they went, comfortable in their own skin, what might they ‘see’ when they consider the man or woman in the mirror?  The next step is to ask if that particular belief serves them. Is there some benefit, no matter how slight to holding on to that belief or letting it hold on to them? Secondary gain can feel like a reward when it is really the booby prize. Would it be better to have the whole pie available to nibble on, rather than the crumbs? It is also important to know that change is possible. Remind yourself that you change every single day. Consider the beliefs you had in childhood that you laugh to consider now. As a child, I believed (not sure where this one came from) that dogs were male and cats were female. Just so you know, I don’t hold that belief now(:  Now, here comes the part where many people cringe….are you willing to for one moment longer, hold onto a belief that no longer serves you and upgrade to something that could make your life a living heaven rather than a living hell?  If your answer is no, ask yourself what you would like to trade up to.
I used to believe that in order to be loved, I needed to don my Wonder Woman cape and take care of everyone. After all, who wouldn’t love someone self sacrificing, the go-to person who could be counted on 24/7 to be ‘a rock’?  These days, through the support of loving friends and family, I have shed the cape and wrist bands and while I am still available for support, I have greater discernment about how much I help. I have changed my beliefs throughout the process. but still needed to tape the leap into my new paradigm.
I set intention every day based on a belief system that tells me I can achieve amazing things with sufficient desire, a willingness to ask for what I am willing to receive, knowing that it is manna-festing, the leg work necessary to cultivate the seeds that I have planted and the willingness to surrender to Divine design to witness its audacious and outrageous growth.
I also consider leaps of faith when I do this work. What comes to mind is the trapeze artist who is holding on to one swing while anticipating another heading in her direction. In order to grab the second, she needs to let go of the first. Each time, she’s gotta KNOW that she will latch on to the next one, or she couldn’t do it. So too is with my own free flight into creating the outcomes I desire. I see myself doing it, feel myself experiencing it, with a rush of exhiliration.
Through that process, I have brought into my life; relationships, opportunities, jobs, homes, money, vibrant good health, insights, trips, classes, my book, interviews with transformational movers and shakers, this column and many other creative endeavors.
I invite you to dance into the life you desire. My friend Jim Donovan offers his take on the power of beliefs.
http://bit.ly/b1EsK3  Jim’s Jems
Previous Posts

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  Today I entered a world filled to the brim with color and texture, light and sound, love and laughter. A place where I could transform whimsical ideas into tangible objects. My friend Renee Bures is an art therapist who brought Alchemy Open Studio in Doylestown, PA into the world several

posted 10:13:24pm Sep. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Turn Your Mess Into Your Message
Wise people are everywhere. Today I met a wise woman while waiting to see my cardiologist. She was the receptionist who greeted me from behind her sliding glass (slid open, of course) window.  When she asked how I was doing since my last visit and I gave her an update, she responded:  "You are tur

posted 10:01:15pm Sep. 19, 2014 | read full post »

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  Yesterday, in the midst of a radio interview with Kerri Kannan,  I was asked a question about vulnerability. It is a topic that has become as familiar as the fingers typing these words. I was awakened to it when viewing a TEDTalk by Brene' Brown a year or so ago. It doesn't come easily to

posted 10:24:20pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

The Now What Club
This morning, I joined two dear friends for brunch at Mal's Diner in Skippack, PA.  After a heart-healthy workout in cardiac rehab, I had a heart- happy  meal of egg whites, spinach (no cheese), fresh fruit instead of home fries and dry (no butter) whole grain toast. Yvonne Kaye has been my mentor

posted 10:10:09pm Sep. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Enjoy Every Moment
Feeling emotionally raw at the moment, having just returned from a day of honoring my friend Delane Lipka. I had written about another extraordinary day in a previous Beliefnet article called In the Garden of Eden that described a gathering of kindred spirits that had been organized by Delane. For d

posted 10:03:50pm Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »


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