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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

SpiritYOUality

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.

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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.

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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.

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                              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.  

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              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.

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                                 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?”

 

 

www.spiritedlifecoaching.com

www.circleofmiracles.org

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I Hold Your Heart Sacred

Earlier today, I was speaking with someone about a concept that came to me a few years ago, that rings as true in this moment as it did back then. I was in a newly minted relationship with someone after a  series of relationship roller coaster rides that brought with it exhilirating highs and nearly crashing lows, peaks and valleys that had me fastening my seat belt and holding on for dear life. During a phone call that I made as I was taking an afternoon walk, the words “I hold your heart sacred,” came waltzing through my brain in a gender neutral voice. As I shared it with this man, I could hear his smile through the telephone wire, as I remember him responding “I like that.” All these years later, I do hold his heart and our friendship sacred, even as we are no longer in a romantic relationship.

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Wikipedia defines the word sacred in this way:  Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy (perceived by religious individuals as associated with the divine or sacred (considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers in a given set of spiritual ideas).

In my perception, everything can be painted with the feather touch of the Divine, and raised up to lofty heights; even, and perhaps, especially with people and situations that feel as if they might be lacking that element. In the case of relationships, the question could be posed: What if we held them sacred? My answer would be that we would honor each person in them and accept the core essence of who they are, beyond behavior, as Love incarnate. Now having said that, it doesn’t mean accepting inappropriate or abusive behavior. It does mean looking beyond the surface and seeing, as A Course In Miracles states: “Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help.”~

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What does it mean to hold someone’s heart sacred?  To me it translates to respect, honor and compassion. TLC in times of challenge to help ease the pain. Deep listening rather than hurrying to a conclusion about what they are saying. Embracing their view for themselves, even if I can’t quite see it or make sense of it. Being mindful that hearts and lives are fragile and need to be handled with care.

Can we hold the hearts of everyone we encounter, as sacred, even if we disagree with them, even if their choices fly in the face of our deepest convictions, even if they leave a mess in the kitchen, or in our lives?  Even as relationships have shifted, can we beam that devotional light in their direction and wish them well? Can we hold our own hearts sacred and keep our own fire burning?

 

http://youtu.be/EC9YDZZcfY4 Takes My Breath Away by Tuck and Patti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Self Esteem Ice Cream

Several years ago, I was working as a guidance counselor in the Quakertown, PA school district (K-6) and once a week met with a group of 5th grade girls who, like most tweens, had issues around self image and the ways in which they were viewed vs. the ways in which they wanted to be seen by their peers. Often the conversations would be polarizing….who liked who better, who sided with who, who was prettier, thinner, more popular, ad nauseum. Chances are, if you have any recollection of being a young girl (not sure if this is anything similar that boys go through, as a parallel, who was stronger, smarter, tougher, a better athlete?) then this might sound familiar. In the midst of all of this, one day I called a time out and asked about working on a project together that would focus on self esteem. One of the girls began chanting in a sing songy way….”Self esteem ice cream, self esteem ice cream.”  Brilliant idea, I thought and asked them what that meant to them. They wanted to write a book that would include drawings of themselves doing what they enjoyed doing, with poetry about self esteem.  They never actually completed it, but at least it got them thinking and improving their communication, decreasing the drama and spending time with other girls as well, so they weren’t always in each others’ business.

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Fast forward and tonight, I am with a group of women for whom I am facilitating a support group. Spontaneously, before they came in, I wrote those same words on the white board and draw a cartoony ice cream cone. Once the intro part of the group was over, we launched into it. I asked what ice cream symbolized for them and they said sweet, smooth, delicious,  a treat. A great reflection for life, since who doesn’t want to experience those things?  Then I asked about the self-esteem part of the equation and it translated as feeling proud, purposeful, fearless or at least willing to try new things and meet new people, confidence, standing up for themselves. Keep in mind that all of these women were old enough to have tween kids and in fact, do. I wondered if all these years later, they still harbor some of the same fears and feelings that their younger counterparts expressed. The answer would be an unqualified yes for them and for me. One of things we talked about was assertiveness and saying no if we don’t choose to do something we are asked to do. I encouraged them to practice yes and no responses to life in the next week before our meeting. All agreed.

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As the Universe was listening, after they left, my son called and asked what time I would be coming home. That generally translates to “On your way home, can you stop and pick up….” My antennae started twitching, I sighed and responded, “Why do you do this, when you could have picked  it during the day since you didn’t go to work until this afternoon?” This was not the first time this has occurred and my ‘good mom’ impulses often kick in and I do it, even though it is late ( Tonight I knew I wouldn’t be leaving the office until after 8:30 and by the time I got home it would be 9:30). This time, Adam interrupted my annoyed train of thought and he said “Mom, if you want to say no, say no. You don’t need to lecture me about what I ALWAYS do. It’s ok if you don’t want to do it.”  WOW!  What a revelation. This therapist, coach, workshop facilitator needs to practice what she preaches sans guilt. My self esteem was elevated by at least 10 points and when I got home, there really was ice cream waiting.

http://youtu.be/8K0qCCfeMAE Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan

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Hopscotch In The Alley

Today is my cousin Jody Rosenblum’s birthday. Dubbing herself my “older and wiser cousin” many years ago, she has been my go-to girl for all manner of adolescent and adult angsts. Her guidance is always grounded, solid, spiritual and often tinged with the Weinstein/Weiner humor gene. Her mother Jeanette and my father Moish were brother and sister whose bond lasts long into the Beyond where they both dwell. My aunt died when Jody was 20 and I was 18, after a long battle with cancer.  That influenced her career choice as a social worker, who now serves in hospice, providing comfort for folks in the end stages of their lives, as well as their families and friends. She really is good at it.  She and her husband Rich, who I actutally knew through social activism circles before he knew Jody, have raised two amazing young men, Aaron and Dan who are socially conscious and do right livelihood work in the world. She has every right to ‘kvell’ (Yiddish for ‘bursting with pride’) over these guys.

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We often acknowlege that even if we weren’t related, we would have chosen each other as friends and that we are more similar to each other than we are with our own sisters. We live in the same area and people often ask me if she and I are family, since there is a resemblance.  When we were growing up,  we spent a fair amount of time together. She and her sister Renee were raised in Northeast Philly and when my sister Jan and I would visit, it felt to me, like a magical place. There were a few steps up to the rowhome and once I entered the front door into the vestibule and faced the other door that led into the living room, we would pretend an elevator was taking us up there. The wall length closets felt like an entrance to another dimension, their stall shower in the upstairs bathroom was the first I had ever seen. The alley behind the house was where we would play hopscotch for what would seem like hours. Remembering treats of cherry flavored ice pops and cookies made by her grandmother (her father’s mother) who was called ‘Cookie Bubbe’ for her culinary talents.

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We lived together for a year in our twenties; sharing an apartment in West Collingswood, NJ, along with her cat Shayna who would awaken us at night sometimes to the sound of licking and chewing paper. Nightgown dances in the living room to the more pleasant sounds of, I am guessing 60’s Woodstock era music, being silly over who knows what? More recently, we go to music fests, take walks occasionally with her four leggeds, hang out in Doylestown, catch up in between visits and keep each other relatively sane and vertical in the midst of life stuff happening. I treasure my relationship with my cuz and am grateful that we got born into the same goofy family. Happy Birthday Hugs and Smooches!

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIRtrR7LW7g Happy Birthday by Tom Chapin

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