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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Isn’t This World Enough?

 

Music has the power to transform, to entertain, to delight, to comfort and heal. Some songs just blow me away. I heard one that would fit that category on my way home from a township meeting that addressed the killing of the son/grandson of friends of mine, by a police officer. He was unarmed, handcuffed and yet the situation got out of control and a young and promising life was snuffed out senselessly. Although I had never met him, I have known his parents and grandmother for the past 15-20 years. I can only imagine what this might be like for them, since no one expects to bury their child or grandchild. Together they have a strong and eclectic spiritual practice and are part of my interfaith community. I sense that is what is getting them through this unthinkable situation. The room was filled to capacity and there were others in the hallway. A few of us addressed the town council  and I sense that they heard us. I looked into each of their eyes as I spoke, reminding them that the line between mental health and mental illness is remarkably thin and that anyone could cross it. I told them that I imagined that they each knew someone with a psychiatric diagnosis and any of these folks could have been in this young man’s situation. I added that I’m certain that the officer who shot  him had not woken up that morning with the thought that he was going to kill some kid and he must be going through his own private hell as well.

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What also crossed my mind was the family and friends of a friend of my sister Jan who were mourning her passing yesterday. Her name was Leah Stevens and her faith got her through many months of treatment for the cancer that eventually led her to her next life. I didn’t know her personally, but from reading the multitude of postings on facebook as she took her journey from diagnosis to death, I felt as if I did. How loved she was, what a gift she was to those who crossed her path. She clearly had a sense of humor. When she went to see Bruce Springsteen in concert and met him backstage,  he signed her bald little head(:

Another friend is facing a major shift in a close relationship and still another is dealing with the impact on her family of her father in-law’s dementia.

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My heart is also with the families of those killed in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a movie theater in Colorado and everyone whose names we may never read or hear and whose faces we may never see who daily encounter violence. As I am calmly and safely in my home, writing these words, I am humbled and grateful that my needs are taken care of and my ‘problems’ are more inconveniences than anything else. I have seen my way through what might be labeled ‘tragedy’, including the deaths of my husband and parents, as well as the loss of a home and business to a hurricane. Like everyone reading this, I have survived everything that has ever happened to me, because I am here to tell about it.

As I was driving through winding country roads, I witnessed an exquisite sunset, with cotton candy pink clouds sprawling across a baby blue blanket sky. The aforementioned song called Isn’t This World Enough? is performed by Scottish indie music perfomers Admiral Fallow was the perfect soundscape to accompany my visual skyscape. Like most songs that I hear for the first time, it found a home on my favorite radio station WXPN out of the University of Pennsylvania.

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Love your husband and love your wife
 Isn’t this world  enough?
The gas that lets you live your life
Isn’t this world enough?
All those living in splendour and in sunshine
 Isn’t this world enough?
 Those who seek calm going under the knife
 Isn’t this world enough?
Isn’t this world enough?
Isn’t this world enough?
Those who seek calm from  under the knife
Isn’t this world enough?
You’re searching for answers  in clouds and under rocks
 Isn’t this world enough?
 You statch your collar  and pull on Sunday socks
 Isn’t this world enough?
 You’re seeking tips of  the cap from your superman but
Isn’t this world enough?
 You’ve just gone  blind
you’re a human stopped clock
 Isn’t this world enough?
Isn’t this  world enough?
Isn’t this world enough?
 You’ve just gone blind
you’re a  human stopped clock
 Isn’t this world enough?
So love this vessel while  you’re aboard
There will be no deposit back from a cosmic landlord
 You  don’t need to hang your hat on belief in bumper stickers
There will be no  love lost just pull on that ripcord
 Isn’t this world enough?
This world  enough? This world so…
Isn’t this world enough?
 Isn’t this world  enough?
 There will be no love lost
 just pull on that ripcord
 Isn’t this  world enough?
Isn’t this world enough?
Isn’t this world enough?
 From your first exhale to your very last breath
 Isn’t this world enough?
As I listened to the song on the radio and then half a dozen more times as I am writing this, I am filled with gratitude that indeed, this world is blessedly more than enough for this opt-mystic lover of life and all it contains, even the messy, painful, challenging aspects. I ask that you keep all those I mentioned in your hearts and prayers.
http://youtu.be/wMoneBHE5nY Isn’t This World Enough? by Admiral Fallow
www.xpn.org  WXPN 88.5

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Banking On It

 

 

What used to be ‘Twilight Zone-esque’ experiences are now “of course”  (but not taken for granted) events. This day brought yet another. I was in line at the bank and a smiling woman approached me asking me and the customer behind me if we wanted 100 grand as she held out the treat in mini-version. I told her I would love both (the chocolate and the monetary kind) and hugged her in thanks. I introduced myself to her and her face lit up. Not sure how the conversation meandered in this direction, but I told her that I am a speaker and writer and offered her a copy of my Bliss Mistress book, thinking it was a fair trade for my drug of choice. I walked into her office as she invited me to sit and chat with her. She said “I believe in signs and I have a story to tell you.” She proceeded to relate what I can only call a Divine Intervention tale. She was born February 4th, her father came along February 5th and her grandmother on February 6th. Both of them have since passed and she shared that she hears from her dad often, but never from her grandmother. Last week, in heart/soul conversation with her father, she asked “Why has Nana not contacted me?” He assured her that she would be hearing from her. She looked at me and told me that she knew I was the message from her grandmother. Guess what her Nana’s real name was?  Edith, but everyone called her Edie!  According to Trish, her grandmother loved purple and I came strolling in, wearing purple yoga wrap around pants . The feather that I placed in the book that I gave her, was purple. She assured me that there was a reason we had connected, even if she wasn’t totally sure why. I am eager to discover the reason, even if was nothing more than to remind me that miracles and wonder occur every day, all the time and beckon our attention and sometimes come bearing chocolate and feathers.

http://youtu.be/zq0i_zIG0KY The Chocolate Song by buddy wasisname and the other fellers

 

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Wake Up Smiling

 

 

Last week I was faciliating a group for clients and the subject turned to the ways in which we begin our day.  My contention is that our initial thoughts contribute to the overall tone and if they are of a “life sucks” nature, then those are the wheels on which our  ‘vehicle’ will carry us through the next 24 hours. If, on the other hand, they either begin more positively or can be re-framed, then our audacious auto will take us where we most want to go.  I asked what they see when they first look in the mirror upon awakening.  One young woman commented that her face looks “mean and angry.”  I asked if she is able to change that. She said that she sometimes massages her face back in place. Great idea!

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It occurred to me that I wake up smiling most mornings, even if sleep has not surrounded me all night long, as was the case last night when the clock read 3 something and it took another 20 minutes or so to get lured back to dreamland. On the rare occasions, when a plaguing thought has greeted me as I greet the day, I am able to replace it with something that tickles my soul. It could be anything from being aware of the comfort of the blankets and pillows, to considering what delights I will be experiencing that day (and there’s always something joyful to contemplate), to the people I will be seeing, like my friend Ruthanne with whom I am shooting a video this morning in Peace Valley Park, to enjoying banana and yogurt with mint ice tea for breakfast, to anticipating all of the wondrous folks who I’ve not yet met…..and the list goes on. I am remembering my mother waking me up sometimes with her own version of Reveille   “Ya gotta get up, ya gotta get up, ya gotta get up in the morning….”

What are your favorite thoughts that put a smile on your face as you enter this fresh new day? There are an infinite number if things to feel blissed and blessed about(:

http://youtu.be/d-diB65scQU  Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

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In The Creative Flow

Yesterday, I immersed myself in cosmic color, awe and ahhh, song and soulfilled to overflowing dance and delight as I offered a training for professionals whose work in the world is with clients who have mental health diagnoses. The organization is called COMHAR and is based in Philadelphia. I love its vision for those they serve who are referred to as ‘members’.

We believe in the inherent value and dignity of every person;

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We believe that an individual with a disability is a person first;

We believe every person has strengths and the capacity to grow.

These values are in alignment with my own as someone who has been in the mental health field since 1979.  I believe in strengths based treatment for the whole person, focusing on what’s right with the situation and not simply what’s wrong. I believe in being a solution finder and not a problem solver. The term ‘mental illness’ never sat right with me. I sometimes refer to them as ‘mental health challenges’ that any one of us can be privy to. Challenges call out for resilience, flexibility, strength and creativiy. Thus came the class I taught.

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I was excited and a wee bit nervous as I headed from my clean suburban community in bucolic Bucks County to a neighborhood in Philly that on the surface appears to be  disheveled and downtrodden. As I drove throught the nearby byways, it occurred to me that I could have grown up there had my parents not moved to South Jersey in the 1960’s since I passed the street on which my family lived when I was born;  Rorer Street near Hunting Park,  for those familiar with the city. When I pulled in front of the professional looking building,  near Kensington and Allegheny, it occurred to me that the folks who are served there may fall into those same categories and be judged accordingly as ‘disheveled and downtrodden’. Walking through the doors, I entered an entirely different world, one filled with bright hues, thriving plants, smiling people, evidence of the caring that the staff exudes. Setting up art supplies, props and music, getting the tech stuff (thank goodness there were professionals who knew what they were doing in that regard, since I am high touch/low tech in my presentations) taken care of….we were ready to roll. Twenty some co-workers with varying degrees of experience in the field, hailing from different corners of the globe, some Peer Support Specialists who once upon a time had been consumers themselves, jumped right in to the fun. My intention was two-fold: to offer them portable skills and tools that they could use as therapeutic intervention and enhancement for the members and to assist them in good self care, since those of us who work with clients that face major life challenges and who carry serious mental health diagnoses sometimes fall prey to vicarious traumatization and can be impacted by hearing painful stories on a regular basis. It was also an opportunity to develop their own creative gifts and let them shine….and that they did!

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One of the exercises we did, the name of which came to me as I woke up yesterday morning…I could hear the words in a sing-songy fashion in my sleepy ears  was called “Creativity Tree”. I invited them to draw a tree…even if it was a lollipop version harkening back to pre-school and then embellish it with pictures and words that symbolized their own creative genius.  I was amazed with what they produced as they proudly played ‘Show and Tell’. They wrote poems, entered the Imaginarium, ate chocolate and strawberries in a mindfulness exercise, danced to a song that beckoned forth silly sounds and childlike wonderment.  By the end of the morning, the room was alight with love and laughter and literally love was sprinkled upon them.

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I found myself in the creative flow as well, allowing the spirit of play to guide me in each interaction. Every day, I enter the Imaginarium, a room in my mind where all manner of A-mazement and A-Musement flows~

This is the song to which we wiggled and giggled at the end:

Imagination by Jenny Heitler-Klevans, © 2011

To hear the song, go to www.twoofakind.com

I’m flying around, flying aroundJust like a bee with the buzzing sound

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I’m stomping my feet, stomping my feet

Just like the elephant keeping the beat

 

(Chorus:)

I can babble like a brook (blblblblb)

I can jump like a spring (boing, boing)

I can use my mind to be anything (2x)

 

I’m flapping my wings, flapping my wings

Just like the birdie who loves to sing

I’m stretching up high, stretching up high

Like the long-necked giraffe reaching up to the sky

 

(Chorus)

 

 

 

I’m swaying in the breeze, swaying in the breeze

Just like a forest of giant trees

I’m spinning around, spinning around

Just like a top falling down to the ground

 

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(Chorus)

 

I’m blasting to the stars, blasting to the stars

Just like a spaceship headed for Mars

I’m racing real fast, racing real fast

Just like a racecar zooming past

 

(Chorus)

 

 

Jenny Heitler-Klevans: lead vocals

Ari, David & Jason Heitler-Klevans, harmony vocals, sound effects

David Heitler-Klevans: acoustic guitar

Ciara Barratt: sound effects

www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ-uV72pQKI  Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory

www.comhar.org COMHAR

 

 

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