The Bliss Blog


This peppy/poppy/folky song by husband and wife duo Pete and Maura Kennedy leapt out at me today and reminded me that my day to day existence is far more than my ever-changing routine, which sounds like an oxymoron,  far deeper than surface concerns and far more impactful than I might have myself believe in my weakest moments. A few random lyrics tugged at my ear:

“Life is large. It’s bigger than the both of us.  Life is large. All you need is just a little trust.

“Be yourself and stand your ground. Don’t you let no one turn you around.”

“How do you want to be remembered?  A raging fire or a dying ember?”

Last night as I was driving home from one of my jobs as a therapist in a substance abuse outpatient practice, I thought about all of the people I have connected with professionally over the past 30 years as counselor, facilitator, minister and writer. It would likely number in the many thousands. What seeds do I hope I have planted with them?  Seeds of desire for a life that takes them beyond what they expect into something phenomenal. Seeds of healing of the wounds they have experienced. Seeds of prosperity that has them knowing that they can do the ‘abun-dance out of scare-city’. Seeds of love for themselves and all those they encounter. Seeds of trust in the Highest Possible Outcome. Seeds of creativity so that they can color outside the lines in outrageous hues and tones. Seeds of the music of their souls so that they can sing out with gusto.  I also know that each of them has left an impression and imprint on my heart and mind, long after what may have been fleeting contact. How could it be any other way since we are all so interconnected?

How large are you willing to let your life be?  I am open and willing to have mine be so expansive that I am unable to see to the end of the line, so wide that I can’t wrap my arms around it, so high that I have to crane my neck waaaayyyy back and still can’t get there with my eyes, but can with my vivid imagination and open heart and so deep that even in my childhood fantasy of ‘digging to China’ would never have me arrive. Life Is Large- Pete and Maura Kennedy


I was speaking with a retired pilot today and wanted to ask him a question I had wondered about for years that I had heard was so. Is an airplane off course much of the time and requires  moment by moment course correction to keep it aloft and flying in a straight line? He smiled and assured me that wasn’t the case. He went on to explain that the pilot gets a flight plan and instructions from ground control and that much of the time, the plane is on auto pilot. The only time they change the plan is when a storm is coming up in front of them and they need to re-direct around it and the plane goes on manual control at landing.

My writer/ therapist’s mind automatically went to metaphor mode as it occurred to me that recovery has the same components to it. In 12 step parlance, GOD, stands for Good Orderly Direction that offers us a daily flight plan, direction and destination. If we go off course, the Air Traffic Controller, guides us back on track. If we are able to surrender and trust, we can go on auto pilot. Now, that doesn’t mean relinquishing responsibility for our choices and for keeping an eye on what is in front of us. It means allowing God to be your co-pilot.

Most people who see a storm approaching, take cover or maneuver out of harm’s way. Sometimes we need a barf bag when turbulence occurs and then we ride the current, knowing that we can get through it. Sadly, many who are facing addictions, keep flying into that same darn meteorological  phenom; get struck by metaphorical lightning and then wonder why they crash and burn.

I then asked about the landing. Since he had over 3 decades of experience as a commercial pilot and a number of years as an Air Force pilot,  prior to that, he has likely made many thousands of touch downs. It is about knowing the precise moment to take back control of the plane, so as to make the transition from air to ground as smoothly and safely as possible.

How often do we know when to surrender and when to take ahold of ourselves and circumstances so that we can travel the friendly skies? From A Window Seat- Dawes




“Sometimes the only available means of transportation is a leap of faith.”-Margaret Shepherd

I have never met this woman, but if I did, I would tell her that her words are brilliant in their simplicity and speak volumes about the daily events in my life and yours. For some, it takes that kind of faith to get out of bed in the morning and keep on keepin’ on. For me, faith is about knowing something is so, without benefit of actually having experienced it. Folks like that are the resilient thrivers and are such wonderful models for all who find life on life’s terms to be daunting. Recently, I was speaking with someone who has the same thought each morning…”Oh no, not again,” meaning that he was facing another day where things would be the same as they ever were. I reminded him that nothing need be the way it was if we did all we could to change the outcome, by altering the input. Habitual thoughts keep us in those stuck places that aren’t much fun. What if, at every point, we could do a literal, physical hokey pokey and turn ourselves around until we were facing the direction we wanted to head? What if our leaps landed us precisely where we wanted to be? I have learned that they are far more likely to do so, if we set a landing point.

Some of my leaps look like starting over again after being widowed at 40, going to seminary to become an interfaith minister, beginning relationships, ending relationships, quitting a stable, but draining job I had held for 11 years. Hard to imagine that at the end of this month, I will have crossed the threshold of the one year mark and I’m still going strong.

I have been in free fall often throughout my life, wondering if my parachute would open on time, or I would come crashing earthward. Although I have never and will likely never jump out of  a perfectly good airplane, I can imagine the time between heading out the door and being back on terra firma…a sense of terror mixed with exhilaration. It really is like that in life sometimes. I prefer to focus on the whheeeee~ aspects of emotional skydiving, enjoying the scenery along the way.



When I saw this image a few days ago, it occurred to me that there were times in my life when I was so watered down that I was a like a storm drain through which torrents ran, carried downstream at a rapid pace. In the service of refraining from rocking the boat and not making waves; I didn’t want people to be uncomfortable. I was speaking with my friend Ondreah the other night as we were enjoying dinner at an outdoor café in New Hope, PA and I was telling her that there is embedded in me this thought that ‘I can’t inconvenience anyone.’  It translates to playing by the rules, being conscious, on time, keeping my agreements which on the surface all seem like admirable qualities. It is when they become obsessive that problems can ensue and I lose myself. When I was growing up, I had two competing impulses. One was to honor my unique and magical self who loved communing with faeries and who had fanciful ideas and the other was to fit in. I have clear memories of making observations and verbalizing them, only to be met with quizzical…”what planet is SHE from?” looks by my peers. Red faced, I would retreat into my imaginary haven and swear never to be that vocal again. Blessedly, that didn’t last long and I drew into my life, people who were of my ‘tribe’ who spoke the same language and engaged in similar musings.

I sense that this dynamic had its origins back when my asthma attacks woke my parents in the middle of the night, sending my mom and me into the bathroom so that I could breathe in lung expanding steam. Regular visits brought us to our family doc’s office where we would sit for what seemed like hours to have allergy tests, injections and check ups. Although my mom and dad never indicated in any way that I was a burden, I somehow internalized the belief that I was and so I endeavored to be a ‘good girl’ who became an overachiever so they wouldn’t need to worry about me. Combine that with the compulsion to prove that I wasn’t going to allow ANYTHING to slow me down, I embodied the lyrics to the song 1980’s Matthew Wilder  hit Break My Stride.

“Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride. No body gonna slow me down….oh no, oh no. I got to keep on moving.” That mindset has kept me on the run from relationships, from much needed sleep, from opportunities, and from comfort in my own skin. It has had me overworking and underplaying, internally fretting; since I wouldn’t want anyone to know that I was less than self assured. Yesterday while at a drumming circle, one of my friends approached me and from behind her glowingly purple sunglasses, she exclaimed that my writing inspired her on days when she felt less than optimal. I laughed and told her that it had the impact on me too which is one reason I write. It is my therapy and testing ground for what I most need to heal in my own life.

It is when I know who I am, genuinely, transparently, noisily, silently,  messily, prettily me that I can love her passionately and invite others to as well.  I am and you are….  I Am What I Am-Gloria Gaynor