The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Hardwired For Joy!

Photo: INTUITIVE VisionMAPPING<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
~ By Tricia Waltman</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Today is Christmas Card day so I wanted to share one of mine, made simply for fun.  I find great peace in creating something and it fills me with joy, especially if there's some great music in the back round.  The playful part?  When I sing along as if on stage!  Thank goodness I work alone!</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>What do you do to feel peaceful?  Please share today an activity that brings you happiness.  You could give someone else an idea and enrich their lives, and there's your good deed!  Image by: Vision Art Designs


created with love by Lore Raymond



The Universe has a wondrous sense of timing, as I smiled with delight when seeing this image a few days ago on Facebook friend, Lore Raymond’s page. Life is my playground and I welcome into it lots of willing playmates who usually cooperate, don’t throw sand, share their toys and refrain from running with scissors. Every day, I encounter new ones and every day I express gratitude for those who are already there, as well as those who are about to step into the sandbox. This weekend, I felt blessed to have folks in both categories.

For the first year, I attended the annual event Firebird Festival in Phoenixvile, PA.  It is a community gathering that focuses on the concept of the Phoenix rising from the ashes and has become legendary in its scope. My friend Henrik Stubbe Teglbjaerg is the artist who orchestrates this shindig and builds the bird.  Last minute decision after the seed was planted. I meandered back and forth in my thoughts, tired after gym ‘playout’, wanting to take a nap, desiring to take part in the ritual of seeing the bird in full flight (symbolically speaking) and then letting go of my worn out beliefs, fears, hesitations, doubts, limitations and watching them go up in flames. Hopped in the Jeep, headed Southward. When I got nearby, I was delighted and frustrated that there were so many people and cars. Took a deep breath and called on our family parking angel, seeing what we call “an Uncle Jimmy parking spot” since my mother’s brother Jim always found the perfect spot. It took nearly 30 minutes of driving around, enjoying the scenery until I found a parking lot with ONE SPOT left. It was just a few blocks away from the main festivities. I knew I would see friends there and within moments, I was greeted by my friend Laura Bertin. Throughout the evening, I saw oodles more as I slowly wound my way through the playful, colorfully garbed crowds (one man with a rainbow-hued, 6″ or so mohawk), others with silly hats and fun costumes. There was an air of anticipation, since they had all come to see the big bird burn. Tiny kidlets (including few month old Elliott perched on his father’s shoulders, eyes wide in delight) watched in wonder.   A host of drummers kept the beat, including Ron Kravitz, Bill DeHaven and Daniel Brouse. Since I had left my drum in the car (silly me), I used the edge of the stage as a percussion instrument.
Another opportunity to connect with kindred spirits…I turned and saw my friend Gael Chiarella Alba who I have not greeted hug to hug in a few years. She was there with friends of hers and invited me to come back to her house for what turned out to be lively conversation about my favorite subject of ‘life, the Universe and everything.’ and yummy food. Even though I had not met these folks in this lifetime, it truly felt like we had done this before, so naturally did it flow~ Looking forward to seeing them again.
Photo: Side view of the great bird. When I got there, I saw my friend Henrik Stubbe Teglbjaerg putting last minute touches on it. <3
Phoenix before the ceremony (I took this one)
Phoenix during the celebratory conflagration. (Photo credit Daniel Brouse, 2012)
On Sunday, I went to Circle of Miracles; one of my interfaith spiritual communities and heard the marvelous ‘child in a grownup suit’ Marlene Sandler share her thoughts about the importance of play. For her, it became a survival skill, having experienced childhood abuse, health issues and depression. It wasn’t until she befriended a dog named Teddy, a cat called Marmalade and a pony with the moniker of Harriet, that Marlene truly came alive. They each taught her, not only the value of play, but HOW to play. No wonder she became a talented animal communicator, therapist, healer and teacher. Marlene invited us to engage in a practice that wolves use to create safe space….howling; which the group of forty some of us did, with abandon. She then shared the dynamics of the ways in which animals and people play, and how to become more adept at it. One fascinating tidbit she offered was that typically those who commit serial murders did not learn to play (and obviously, they didn’t learn to play well with others): She gave each of us a baggie filled with a few pieces of candy, a dreidel since it is Hanukkah, a photo story of a polar bear and husky that learned to play together and an index card. She asked us to take 30 seconds and draw a picture of the person next to us. Such fun!  And then she reminded us that as children, we likely would have engaged in the experience without judgement and as adults, likely were being self critical of what appeared on the the 3 x 5. I actually just had fun sketching my friend Monica Gager.
According to Peter Gray:  “Play in our species serves many valuable purposes. It is a means by which children develop their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and moral capacities. It is a means of creating and preserving friendships. It also provides a state of mind that, in adults as well as children, is uniquely suited for high-level reasoning, insightful problem solving, and all sorts of creative endeavors.” I agree wholeheartedly. This 54 year old has bubbles, crayons, costumes, facepaint, feathers, and all sorts of other toys in her life enhancement tool kit.
Later in the day, I headed to the home of Cass Forkin and Bill Belknap who also are playful adults. They invite a group of us to gather to celebrate friendship, set intention for next year, support each other in our endeavors, enjoy yummy food, honor the holidays of light and just have fun. No surprise, tying in with the theme of the morning’s celebration at Circle of Miracles, their dog Bailey was a playful participant in the festivities.
Photo: Cass Forkin and the magical pup named Bailey <3
Cass Forkin
Photo: Bill Belknap beaming brightly <3
 Bill Belknap
I led the group through a ritual during which we lit candles and went around the room, sharing what it is we had experienced in 2012, how it had impacted our lives and those with whom we came in contact and what we intended for the new year. With each thought shared, we blessed the intention by howling like a supportive wolf pack. Since some of us had been there that morning at Circle of Miracles, it was all the more powerful and expression of solidarity and support. Among us were musicians, health professionals, teachers, artists, writers, organizational developers, CEOs, speakers and engineers, all with a common purpose…to make a difference in the world.
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”  -Alan Watts


By Invitation

Tonight on my way home from one of my many right livelihood jobs, this one as a counselor in a drug and alcohol treatment outpatient program, I steered the Jeep toward my ‘office away from home’ a.k.a. The Zen Den in the bucolic/artsy Bucks County, PA town of Doylestown. I was dropping off a copy of my Bliss book to offer as part of a raffle basket and indulge in my drink of choice there: soy chai latte. I placed my order and went to find a table in the corner. At the next table was a young couple meeting with someone who I couldn’t see at first glance. I gathered they were speaking with a wedding officiant since they were making statements of that nature and I do that kind of work too, so it almost a no-brainer to figure out. It wasn’t until I heard the response that my heart  took a hopscotch leap. The minister was my friend Naila Francis. A dear kindred spirit, she lights up the world with her brilliant smile (think Mary Richards) and her writing talent. I grinned and nodded, so as not to interrupt and settled down to do my work as she did hers. Once the couple went on their way, she and I hugged our hellos. Naila’s writing appears in our regional newspaper in her regular column called Life In La La Land (so named because her niece couldn’t pronounce Naila so, La La she became) which is  from the day to day experience of this Renaissance Woman. I am moved to delighted laughter and wracking tears at various times as she has written about her travels, her work, her relationship with her Beloved Zane and most poignantly the recent deaths of two important men in her life; her father who died in October and her mother’s long time companion who passed last year and was surrogate father to her and her brother since their own lived on St. Lucia. Her emotional vulnerability is palpable and raw in everything she pens.


Tonight I asked her the obvious question “So when are you going to write YOUR book?” She smiled somewhat demurely and indicated that she wasn’t sure she would. I marveled at the idea that she could decline the opportunity to share her wit and wisdom with the world. I’m not saying that because she is my friend, but because it is as much a universal Truth as is possible. In addition to her column, she writes about musicians that come to our area to perform. In the realm of the ‘grass is always greener’, I told her that I would love to do what she does and she reminded me that I already do.”Think of all the amazing people you’ve interviewed.”. Both of us smiled a bit sheepishly as we acknowledged how we sometimes take for granted how cool it is.


As she was about to leave, I told her I would probably be writing about our encounter and asked if she minded if I say that I attempted to ‘kick her butt’ into writing a book. We both giggled about it and I was struck by the ways we invite people into our lives. She said she never sees anyone she knows here and I told her that I always do. Between the two of us, I’m glad that my tendency won out. I am so glad we serendipitously beckoned each other into our mutual presence on this chilly East Coast night as we were warmed by our kindred spirit/anam cara/soul friend connection.


Stretchy Heart

Photo: Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude ~ Winnie the Pooh

As usually happens, my friend Jacob Nordby has wise words to share, whether they come from his own vivid imagination or from the pen of another beloved writer such as A.A. Milne. When I saw this on his Facebook page, my immediate thought was that perhaps feeling, acknowledging and expressing that for which we are grateful stretches our hearts. It’s kinda like The Grinch-phenomenon by which his heart “grew three sizes that day” when he realized that the spirit of Christmas had nothing to do with the kind of presents we get wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons, but rather the Presence of Love.


A few years ago, I received a delightful little treasure called The Gratitude Power Workbook, penned by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons. It is filled with stories about appreciation, with the contention that those who are grateful, live their days in happier and healthier ways. To that I say AMEN and A-WOMEN! Most people find it easier to express thanks when something they have wanted, desired, craved, wished for, arrives in their waiting hands or stands in front of them, waving in greeting. Far more challenging is saying thank you for perils and pitfalls and yet, they are equally valuable if they help us stretch and grow.

One exercise I do daily was affirmed when perusing this book that jumped off a shelf at me the other day when working with a client. I have said thanks in advance of an event or desired experience, such as “Thank you for a money miracle or car repair miracle, or job miracle or health miracle….” with my favorite definition of that phenomenon coming from A Course In Miracles as a “shift in perception” since as we change how we look at things, the things we look at change. They quote Texas businessman Anthony Migyanka who says “I use spoken gratitude in my daily life to produce much success and contentment. First of all, in my business, after I decide on a course of action,  I say ‘thank you’ for the results not yet obtained, for the future gratitude of today.”  Besides being productive, it’s a lot of fun. I do it in the car, the shower, sitting here at the computer, when walking, dancing, drumming, at the gym, out loud to the people in my life and most importantly to myself in my all too actively critical noggin.


Today I say thank you in advance for a wonderful session with a coaching client this morning to a powerful ‘playout’ at the gym, for healing sessions with two therapy clients later in the day, for the health of my body, for successful new job for my son that he just started, for a smoothly running car, computer… for deepening relationships, for inspired writing ideas, for financial abundance, for welcoming love in all forms, for being able to be of service, and  for spiritual connection.

Gracias, merci, danke schoen, hvala, wado, toda raba, mahalo and thank you ever so much from my stretchy heart to yours~ Thank You For This Day-Karen Drucker with dance by Truth In Motion



Here Right Now


One of my favorite genres of music is known as singer-songwriter in which the one who pens the words and vocalizes is also a consummate story teller. The mark of a talented artist is the ability to open doors and windows into a world that has the listener wanting to visit over and over. Denise Moser is such a one as she reveals her frailties and fantasies, fears and triumphs. Her CD is called Here Right Now which is a paradoxical title since many of the songs touch on memory such as the sweetly sentimental  I Remember with its tear-inducing lines “I can feel your kiss on my shoulder. I can see your eyes say “My love is the truth.” The opening song, I Believe is her wo-manifesto as she declares: “I believe in winter boots……I believe in deep earth smell and the sound of falling rain. In tripping over my heavy heart. And in gettting up again…..I believe in brown hair turning gray.”  The title song is an ode to change and  means of  Moser claiming all of who she is, her woundings and thrivings as a seasoned woman and the meandering path it took to get her from where she was to where she now stands.  Oldest Dream bares her soul to a new love, it seems as she offers transparently “I’m not a perfect girl. I never tried to be.  But I’m mostly beautiful. If you know how to see…..I’ll make friends with your ghosts .I’ll make my heart your holy host.”)   .”  Boy Store is a playful jaunt as she places a special order for the man of her dreams. Moser spills herself wide open as she scribes her Unfinished Song on the blank paper that she calls ‘an old friend’ on which she writes about a deep unfulfilled dream of being a mother.   The tune is reminiscent of  the hymn  written by Robert Lowry How Can I Keep From Singing. Overlapping voices embellish Lucid Dreaming as she speaks of being someplace that is ‘part school’ and yet at first listen, it sounds like she is saying ‘heart school’..maybe it is both. May This House is a prayer of welcome to herself and those who cross the threshold. Moser is in her element in prayer-realm since she is also a cantorial singer  at Beth Chaim Reform Congregation in Malvern, Pennsylvania. The closing song Open Space is her God-communion as she sings praises familiarly ” You sure are creative. I like what you’ve done with the place.” and “I believe that what you are is what you’ve always been. I see you best when I look within.” Mark Moss joins her as multi-instrumentalist and back up vocalist.

Moser’s voice is like a familiar friend welcoming you home to yourself.  Here Right Now by Denise Moser

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