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The Bliss Blog

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Had the inclination to post this on my Facebook page about an hour ago.

“Noticing since I had the heart cracking open experience last week, that I have been feeling an existential loneliness that I haven’t had for a long time. I feel loved, appreciated, supported by the Universe and the people in my life and yet, there is a wistfulness, a longing. Ever feel that way?”

Immediately friends (some from my face to face world and some cyber-but-still-heart-connected) chimed in with their responses. Most have indeed felt that way from time to time and for some, it is a consistent way of being. They encouraged me to be present with it, and allowing myself to surrender to the state I was in. How does one sustain that feeling when I am finding it challenging to sit with it for even a brief moment since it began? I have heard it called ‘being homesick for God’. The weird thing is that I know on a conscious, cognitive level that I am indeed never away from the Divine, never apart from it, always a part OF it. I have no doubt that the God of my understanding understands me in return. I have spent decades immersed in spiritual practice; from prayer to drumming, from meditation to yoga, from dance to tantra, from writing to chanting, from reading to creating healing rituals for myself and others. Maybe it was in preparation for this…whatever this is.

Most of my professional life is spent encouraging and guiding people in coming out of the closet in which they have hidden their true selves. Although hanging out in a closet might feel safe and secure for a short time, ultimately it can get cluttered and stifling. Better still to take a stand for my freedom and not just beckon others to come out from their own self imposed confinement. I know we teach what we need to learn, so this is my growing edge.

Several had said that my being human and vulnerable invites others to share and I imagine that I am also safer than I would have been had I continued on the same path on which I had been treading. When I am genuine, people know and it brings them in closer. Some have declared, with a sense of relief “Welcome to the human experience!” My friend Ondreah who has just returned from a two week retreat in Arizona for the I AM heart -Institute For Applied Meditation on the Heart,  created by Susanna and Puran Bair is positively gleeful that I am swimming in a pool of tears. Loving friends all.

There are times when it feels like paddling about in a cavern, much like I experienced in Mexico many years ago, that had echoing limestone walls. There were times when I was fearful (even though I had been a lifeguard for years and a competitive swimmer since I was 11) of diving down into the warm water, uncertain what might be lying beneath the surface. At other moments, I playfully splashed about. What I learned is that I can do both. Wanting to remember that now. It will never only be deep or shallow emotionally.

Although I love the poetry of Rumi, I had not seen this one and it was planted on my page by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (she who wrote the classic The Invitation) in response to my posting.

Love Dogs

One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
“So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?”

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
“This longing
you express is the return message.”

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.”

– Rumi

My response was that the dogs are definitely howling~  ahhhhwooooooo~

 

www.jennygperry.com  artwork and words by Jenny G. Perry

 

I imagine you have heard the statement: “We make plans and God laughs.” I have not only heard it, but lived it. This morning, I was having breakfast with two new friends with whom I connected following a Women’s Business Forum Speed Networking event. Think speed dating on steroids as at least 50 (mostly women and a few men) professionals from Bucks County, PA gathered to interact and offer mutual support for each other’s businesses. Good thing I can use my super-hearing to filter extraneous noise.  Among them were bankers, event planners, musicians, the owner of a classy adult store and someone who plans ‘fun funerals’ which may seem like an oxymoron, but really is a trend that allows people to celebrate loved ones and not just mourn their passing.

LisaBeth Weber (the musician)  Kyle Tevlin (the fun funeral woman) and I sat at a table at Nonno’s which is an Italian bakery and coffee shop in our small town burb of Doylestown, PA. Enjoyed soy chai and a decadent chocolate brownie (not so guilty pleasure since I knew I would be going to the gym a little later for my regular ‘playout’) as I got to know more about them. Laughed riotously as LisaBeth shared about the love between her grandparents who had been married 70 some years, said in her grandfather’s Yiddish accent.  I could relate since I am the granddaughter of Russian immigrants as well.  I could hear my Bubbe’s voice echoing in my ears as LisaBeth spoke. Got to hear more about Kyle’s I Want  A Fun Funeral: Putting A Little Life Into Your Last Wishes concept and thought about how it could revolutionize the way people view death. As a minister who officiates at personalized and not cookie cutter funerals and a bereavement counselor who helps people pick up the pieces, it makes so much sense to me. I related to them about my marital history and the things that I am now doing in my life since I had been widowed at 40. Had it not been for my husband’s passing, a series of events that wound itself to this moment, would not have unfolded.

In the shower tonight, I took it a step further as I recalled the jobs and relationships I had wanted that hadn’t panned out as I originally wished. Had my desires come to pass, I would have missed other relationships that were perhaps even more fulfilling or without which my life wouldn’t be as rich. At those times, I wasn’t always able to consider that question about things working out for the best. Yes, I am an optimist; or rather, an ‘opti-mystic’ who views the world through the eyes of possibility and still there are times when I need to be reminded that all is in Divine Order.

www.lisabethweber.com

 

 

Photo

Several years ago, I attended a Goddess Retreat that honored the Divine Feminine aspects of ourselves. One of the activities was body casting and we could choose the ‘parts’ we wanted to keep around for posterity. I had been at two others and in the previous years, had cast ‘the girls’ with one set more ornately decorated with flowers and hearts and the second one simple gold. On this particular occasion, I chose to do something I was more nervous about; covering my face with plaster and breathing through two little holes for about 20 minutes. As an artist, the woman who wrapped me up knew what she was doing and patiently sat next to me as I began hyperventilating and then more calmly breathing through my anxiety. When the mask had hardened, she peeled it off and we set it aside to dry. A few hours later, I painted it, embellishing it with flowers, a heart over my third eye and throat chakras and  finished it off with starry eyes. At home, I mounted it on my bedroom wall and on it perched a hat I had gotten many years earlier and placed angel wings behind it. Quite cosmic, if you ask me and also a wonderful metaphor for how I have lived most of my life. On the surface, things look pretty and shiny, colorful and fun, a glowing visage. Beneath it lies fear, hesitation, doubt, anger, resentment, insecurity and gulp…..neediness. I have hidden it well, or so I thought. My M.O. has been to be the go-to person when it would serve me to be the get-to person who allows herself some real-ness, some BE-ing rather than busily doing so much of the time, more being cared for rather than only being the caregiver.

In April, I took the Woman Within Training and began to chip away  at the shiny armor that  I thought would keep me safe from the perils and pitfalls to which others fell prey.  After all, I thought, “I’m resilient and can bounce back quickly from anything.”  The thing is, denial can masquerade as high functioning and no one would know what was bubbling under the surface. Last weekend, I experienced a cracking open of the shell that had encased my heart for as long as I can remember, but most recently reinforced by my mother’s death in 2o10. Tears melted the glaciated covering over the anahata (heart chakra) that had served as a sense of protection from the pain of the loss. I had erroneously believed that if I remained in the light, then the darkness of grief couldn’t touch me. The same dynamic is true in relationships. On the surface, it appears that I am close to many people. The reality is, I have a lot of people in my life; I am a magnet for loving souls who show up by overt or subtle invitation and I do treasure them AND YET, it occurred to me today when I was on the way home from an experience that widened the opening, that I rarely let people in deeply. I can name a handful that are permitted access to the inner sanctum and even they don’t get to stay very long. It’s the old belief of not wanting to take up too much time or inconvenience anyone.  It also takes the form of keeping potential relationship partners at bay, since if I don’t let anyone in fully, they can’t leave. Sound reasoning, huh? So I dance for a brief time with whoever shows up and then we step away, leaving a piece of each other in (hopefully) safekeeping.

I spoke with two friends on the phone today who told me the same thing; see I’m not as opaque as I might have thought, since they long ago saw through the façade. Both were glad that I showed up, rather than the mask and that in their presence I was able to peel it back. I have to tell you that it was even more of a relief to do it metaphorically than it was to do it in actuality those few years ago. More tears and revelations occurred and one encouraged me to take baby steps in order to honor myself and my needs and the other was glad that I was really feeling, not going back into hiding as I was tempted to do. This morning, I feel all cried out with a softness that I have rarely permitted.

I have long loved this story that I want to share with you. It could have been written for me.

A young woman was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that she had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired her heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it.

But an old woman appeared at the front of the crowd and said, “Your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.”

The crowd and the young woman looked at the old woman’s heart. It was beating strongly but full of scars. It had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in … but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. The young woman looked at the old woman’s heart and  laughed. “You must be joking,” she said. “Compare your heart with mine … mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

” “Yes,” said the old woman, “Yours is perfect looking … but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love….. I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them … and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges. “ Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away … and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his/her heart to me. These are the empty gouges … giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too … and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”

The young woman stood silently with tears running down her cheeks. She walked up to the old woman, reached into her perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. She offered it to the old woman. The old woman took the offering, placed it in her heart and then took a piece from her old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young woman’s heart. It fit …. but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young woman looked at her heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old woman’s heart flowed into hers.

 

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