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The Bliss Blog

mandeladay

 

July 18th marks the 95th birthday of a world server, a good soul, a man for whom the Yiddish word ‘mensch’ would be an apt description. As recently as a few weeks, ago the world was holding vigil in anticipation of his passing, but I am gratified to witness that Nelson Mandela is still on this side of the veil, and from what I have read, regaining strength even while hospitalized. Today is also known as Mandela Day.

According to the website Mandela Day:

The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”

Individuals and organisations are free to participate in Mandela Day as they wish. We do however urge everyone to adhere to the ethical framework of “service to one’s fellow human”.

Following the success of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in June 2008, it was decided that there could be nothing more fitting than to celebrate Mr. Mandela’s birthday each year with a day dedicated to his life’s work and that of his charitable organisations, and to ensure his legacy continues forever.

The Mandela Day campaign message is simple: Mr. Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.

Mandela Day is a call to action for individuals – for people everywhere – to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr. Mandela did.”

Until a few years ago, for me, Nelson Mandela was a world leader; a political figure whose courage and compassion shone a light on the darkness of institutionalized hatred. When I met Philadelphia based South African musician Sharon Katz whose band Sharon Katz and the Peace Train brings African music to the world,  he became a bit more personal, since although we have never spoken (I would have loved to have interviewed him), I felt a ‘one degree of separation’ connection. Sharon sings about him and has sung for him. This is a lovely picture at his 75th birthday party.

On Mandela Day, we are asked to devote that hour and 7 minutes to be of service. One way that I am choosing to do that is to use my social work brain and research employment opportunities for a man I met yesterday. I was leaving the parking lot of a local supermarket with 4 cloth bags filled with groceries. I saw someone who looked to be in his 50’s standing in the 90 something degree heat bearing a sign that said he would work for food or money to support his family. Looking weathered and surprisingly out of place in this suburban area, I stopped, handed him $10 and then asked what type of work he was looking for. He told me that he and his family had just moved to the area and he could do handyman work. He said he had transportation and then wrote his number on a piece of paper. If a bit of my time, doing what I have done for clients over the years could assist a family, then it is well worth that investment.

Viva Mandela!  Thank you for setting an example for us all~

www.mandeladay.com

www.sharonkatz.com

http://youtu.be/7QM0xSuOJ5c Video about Mandela Day

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Oh how I used to do this. There were times when I was so ‘watered down’ so as not to ‘make waves’ that you could see right through me, float a boat on my surface, splash about in me~  YIKES. Now, I’ve reconstituted…(is that the right term?) solidified a bit more and am discovering for the first time who ‘me’ really is.  I often wonder  about the origins of this state of being. I was a colorful kid, unafraid of being center stage; precocious, like a little a ‘grownup in a kid suit’. I was able to carry on conversations with my parents’ friends and older relatives. I don’t ever recall being told that ‘children should be seen and not heard’ and yet, somehow, I found myself (or rather, lost myself) in an attempt to fit in. I developed into a good little co-dependent who in the 5th decade of my life, is finally feeling able to be genuine….what you see is what you get.

Today I was speaking with someone about vulnerability, she expressed that there were only a select group of people with whom she could find ‘safe haven’ and be genuine. Others, she felt, might take advantage of her and betray her trust. Nope, that’s not it for me. I trust easily most of the time, giving people the benefit of the doubt that they have my best interest at heart as I do with them. Sometimes I miss the mark and realize that I needed to be more discerning, but  fortunately I have not become cynical.

There have been times in my life in which I dressed flamboyantly in vibrant colors, glitter, and glow. My friend David told me one time that he didn’t believe I put the glitter on, but instead, it came from my pores. I wore my rainbow hued, moon and star embellished clown shoes to my job as a social worker. If I really was brave and as externally colorful as I am on the inside, I would dye my hair purple, or at least a few select stripes. I would dare to bare myself more emotionally, speaking my truth and asking for what I want, rather than holding back for fear of offending, taking up too much space or someone’s time. I learned not to inconvenience anyone, since I had felt that childhood asthma did indeed inconvenience my parents, although they would never have said so. On the surface, it may look like I have it all together while in reality, I have the jello-shakes sometimes; wondering when the other shoe will drop or being braced for disapproval. Being uniquely me would mean, peeling off the layers of pseudo safety, of hiding behind my professional façade and admitting that I feel a slew of emotions that look like anger, sadness, envy, frustration, disappointment and heaven forbid…judgment. When I allow for those states of being, I am truly able to love the woman in the mirror since I know her by heart.

 

Front Cover for web

Everyone needs a team of emotional cheerleaders.  Are there people in your life that you view as mentors and guides who have blazed a path and shone a light so that you could find your own  way?

I have been blessed to have had many role models for creativity, joy, life long learning and resilience. Some of them have even lived in my home. My paternal grandparents traversed what I imagine were, at times, stormy seas from their native Russia to their new home in America. They made a new life for themselves and then their 4 children who went on to create a new generation. My maternal grandmother was a kid in a grownup suit who would both entertain and educate me. My parents have always been my most ardent yaysayers. My son is one of my greatest teachers in this lifetime, although I have resisted mightily, the lessons he has offered about patience and flexibility.

Back in the mid 1990’s I encountered a woman whose voice on the radio, leapt out at me on her weekly Saturday night talk show on Philly based WWDB fm. The station format has changed, but ‘back in the day’, the programming offered informative and enlightening hosts and guests. Her clipped British accent, along with her raucous and sometimes irreverent British humor, charmed me. Yvonne Kaye is her name and I am proud, all these years later to call her my mentor. As we got to know each other, she held out her hand to guide me through the muck and mire of co-dependent patterns and dysfunctional relationships; both personal and professional. She taught me that laughter is often the best medicine and that “discipline is freedom,” which I resisted as intensely as the aforementioned life lessons offered by my son. Ironically, he resists that message now! I honor Yvonne, now  a seasoned woman (in the 7th decade of her life), who describes herself as “ripening.”

This Thursday, on It’s All About Relationships, on Vivid Life Radio, I am eager to interview a woman who honors her mentors who have inspired her to shine her own light.

As an emotionally under-nourished, overly-sensitive child, multiple bestselling author and medical expert Karilee Shames’ young life was plagued with maternal loneliness and misunderstanding. Yet she quickly learned to seek out women who modeled the qualities she most sought to emulate and soon realized that she, herself, had become a mentor to others. Amazing Mentors: The REAL Hot Mama’s Path to Power is a tribute to those who have helped to shape her life, and the lives of so many other women, including Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, US Army General Clara Adams, Yoga Journal Co-Founder Rama Vernon and more. www.amazingmentors.com

Listen in from 8-9pm est on www.vividlife.me

 

Photo: I speak to women all day long. Some are "jumpers". They don't tell me how much they want to do something, and then launch into their list of "BUT", and "If Only". These are the women who are grabbing life with two hands. They know that there is no "right time" for anything. There is never enough money or time. And they decide to jump anyway. I love these women. Here is to "The Jumpers!"  They blow me away.

My friend Pamela Madsen shared this image on my Facebook page this morning and it literally jumped out at me since it is what I have been doing a lot of lately. I joke that I don’t skydive or bungee jump, except emotionally, taking all kinds of leaps of faith into the free flight of the unknown. It wasn’t always the case as (believe it or not), I was a timid “deer caught in the headlights” when it came to making decisions, second guessing, not wanting to make the wrong choice and then deal with the repercussions.

I think it came in part from an experience I had at around 11 or 12 when I was at Sears in my home town of Willingboro, NJ. My mother and I had gone there because I was going to do some modeling in the courtyard. It was summer time and as is so in retail, they were focusing on the Fall fashion line. Before I donned the plaid shorts and jacket they offered me, I was wearing t-shirt, shorts and sandals. Standing at the top of the escalator, I put my foot on the first step and found myself skidding down the steps, since the sandals didn’t have treads on them. It felt like water skiing on one foot!   Ever since then (even now, more than 40 years later), I hesitate when at the top of an escalator, waiting for ‘the one with my name on it’, to show up and then hold on tightly to the railing as we take the ride downward.

Another image from the recesses of my kid-mind was this one:

The first time I went off the high dive, I felt like this. I climbed the ladder, stood on the edge and looked down, heart pounding and scared shitless (not literally, thank goodness:) and knew I couldn’t back down since there was a line of kids behind me. I had no choice but to take the plunge. The silly thing was that by that point in my life, I was an accomplished swimmer, so I knew that no matter how deep down I went, I would pop back up and be safe. Jumping in like that in my life now too.

These days, the leaps look like asking for what I want in all areas of my life, putting my work out there in the world, trusting in the Highest Good outcome, regardless of appearance at the time, daring to dream and then transform my dream into reality, not always taking the familiar route, peeling off the layers to reveal a vulnerability that I would not have before, honoring my instincts and intuition.

I know many brave souls who are willing to take that first step, leap, hop, jump into uncertain waters and they continue to inspire me.

Enjoying the ride on the way to splashdown!

http://youtu.be/UF5V2PEujqs If I Were Brave by Jana Stanfield (I know I have used this song several times in this column, but it seemed fitting here:)