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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

One Billion Rising

According to the website One Billion Rising:

ONE IN THREE WOMEN ON THE PLANET WILL BE RAPED OR BEATEN IN HER LIFETIME.*

ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY

ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION

On February 14th, people the world round will dance in support of the obsolete idea that violence against women is in any way acceptable. This global event is the heart child of author, playwright, activist and one woman force of nature Eve Ensler. Best known for her play The Vagina Monologues, she brought to the stage disturbing and soul shaking truths about the ways in which women and girls have been abused, and mistreated throughout the ages. She and the various actresses who sat on stools on an otherwise bare stage, reading from the text of the play itself gave voice to those who were silenced by fear and ignorance. Fifteen years ago, Eve orchestrated V-Day to bring it to the world stage. I had the chance to meet and interview Eve a few years ago when she came to Philadelphia to offer the one woman show called The Good Body, which explores the love/hate relationship women have with their bodies, since our various cultures tell us what is acceptable in terms of appearance, rather than encouraging us to feel at home in the skin we’re in. I f0und her to be friendly, approachable and welcoming, with a sense of passion for this work, born of being a rape survivor herself.

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From this solid platform, Eve has gathered around her a growing tribe of women and men who are calling out “ENOUGH!”.  When you dance tomorrow, wherever you are, whether in a downtown or rural setting, in front of city hall or at Carnivale, in a gym or park or even in the privacy of your home, know that you do not dance alone and that you do not dance  just for yourself, but instead for and with your sisters and brothers from all corners of the globe. As Eve shared in her you tube video below, when the sun rises in February 15th, a shift will have taken place so that we can all feel safe and free and expressed.

http://youtu.be/b5mFQiFvTCA  A Message From Eve Ensler

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http://youtu.be/7C1vDiYW5EI

Sisters of Providence practice a dance for the One Billion Rising event raising awareness of violence against women and girls. This particular dance was specifically choreographed for mature dancers and goes with the song “Break the Chain.” (Lyrics by Tena Clark, Music by Tena Clark/Tim Heintz)
The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Catholic sisters founded by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin in 1840.

www.onebillionrising.org

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Daddy’s Girl

 

Before the sun has peeked its late Winter’s beams from behind clouds and the stars have melted back into the black, I am offering Birthday greetings to a man who would have been 89 today.   A fitting time to be tapping away as words spill forth from my grateful heart, since more times than I can count, my father was up before the crack of dawn to go to jobs that supported his family; first as a milkman (Abbotts and Milkmaid Dairies) and then as a bus driver (SEPTA in Philadelphia), through ‘streets broad and narrow’) . A blue collar working man with a high school diploma, time served in the Navy as an electricians mate, he was a life long learner who wanted to be able to converse with anyone about nearly anything from politics to science, from culture to religion. Born Morris (Moish) Harry Weinstein to Russian Jewish immigrant parents who came to the U.S. for a better life and escape the pogroms, he grew up in the multi-cultural ‘hood of South Philadelphia. Think the streets where Rocky’s pounding feet hit the ground, where women swept and hosed down the areas in front of their brownstones, where people sat on their ‘stoops’ to converse until all hours, where kids played kick the can or stick ball and the sounds of various languages and aromas filled the air.

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My father loved fiercely; his parents, his two brothers and sister, his nieces (two of whom-my cousins Jody and Renee who to this day refer to him as Uncle Milky; a reference to his career path)  his friends growing up, were all part of the legacy I inherited. When he met my mother at the party of a mutual friend and they ‘rose’ in love and married, her family was added to the fold; and what a big one it was (my maternal grandmother was one of 13 children) and he had many names and relationship connections (who was married to whom and whose kids were whose) to remember. My father quickly became a favorite and was considered the life of the party. Sometimes he showed up late since his working schedule was unpredictable at times, but arrive he did, often wearing his blue SEPTA uniform and was greeted with hugs and hellos and the idea that now the festivities could begin. Ironically, a few months ago, at the funeral of my cousin Ron, another cousin, Diane stood next to me as we cried and she made a comment that transformed our tears into laughter. She said “I was looking around, expecting to see your father. It wouldn’t be a party without Moish.”

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When Jan and I were born, he became a devoted daddy. He wasn’t ‘the babysitter'; he didn’t ‘help my mother with the kids’, as was the norm in the 50’s-70’s. He was a fully responsible parent who changed diapers, fed, bathed, educated, played with and loved with all his heart. Interesting juxtaposition, since he raised us both as girls and kids. He expected ‘lady like’ behavior in certain settings, but encouraged rough and tumble playing; taking us sledding, skating, bicycling and kite flying. I think some of it was vicarious living, since he didn’t have some of the toys and activities we did when he was growing up. He used to listen to Yiddish music on the radio and I came to think of it as “Jewish folk music”.

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Philosophically, we were at odds at times. I think I was born a tree hugging hippie and he, a bit more conservative (having grown up in an Orthodox home), but he mellowed as he grew older and was open to more liberal ideas. We argued about politics and religion mostly. At the end of each one, we would agree to disagree and he would comment as if to seal the deal “As long as we love each other.”

I could write for the rest of the day, heck, the rest of my life about my father; his deeply passionate relationship with my mother, (when she died in 2010, I found a notebook that had two sweet love notes in it, although he had written likely thousands throughout their nearly 52 year marriage)  his protectiveness of his daughters, his huge gathering of friends and the ways he attracted them like a magnet, the ‘give you the shirt off his back’ generosity, his messy garage that had baby food jar collections of nuts and bolts and screws, since “You never know when you might need them.”, his blue and white striped coveralls that he would wear when digging in the dirt, planting strawberries and veggies, or sliding under the car to change the oil. When I was in college, I would come home for him to do that. Instead of going to Jiffy Lube, I would call the service he offered “Jiffy Moish”.

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His connection with his Creator was immovable as well. He didn’t go to Hebrew School in his youth, since his parents couldn’t afford it, but he learned the culture and religion throughout his life and treasured it.  Friday nights brought us to synagogue as a family and he and my mother were active in the congregation (Beth Torah in Willingboro, NJ). He studied and prayed fervently, each night reading from his Bible before bed, sometimes with us, sometimes on his own. He lived his faith, not just talked about it. At 52, he became a Bar Mitzvah and I have the photo in my dining room. A proud ‘kvelling’ moment for all of us.

When he passed, on April 3, 2008, I read to him from a book of prayers that I had given him years before and then placed it in the casket, since ya never know how long you might need to wait in line and a little reading material might come in handy(:

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As much as we had our head butting moments in my adolescence, I treasure what I inherited by way of lifelong friendships, running into people I know wherever I go, curiousity, a get-it-done attitude, child like wonder about life, the Universe and everything, a belief that anything is possible, the importance of phsyical fitness, seeing the good in everyone, deep spiritual faith, work ethic and the ability to be silly. This “goofy kid” as he liked to call me at times, said with a lilt in his voice plans to celebrate her Daddy today, perhaps with a Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew…one his favorite treats.

http://youtu.be/6F-LqT3c-Ag Oh My Papa by Eddie Fisher

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I’m In Love With A Big Blue Frog

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to ride the way back machine in both directions in the presence of a multi-generational audience that sang, danceed, swayed, clapped, smiled and laughed with delight to the words and music of septugenarian musician and consummate storyteller Peter Yarrow. He was appearing at the Doylestown Book Shop, which is a treasure in the Bucks County suburbs. It is a frequent gathering place for the word loving community and each time I go there, I’m fairly certain I will run into people I know. This snow melting Monday morning was no exception as I hung out with my cousin and a few friends as our blast from the past experience was about to begin.   This still energetic, cool, gracefully aging hippie (I count myself in that fold too) was touring in support of his new kids’ book called I’m In Love With A Big Blue Frog.  Although the coffeee table sized book was freshly born, it is based on the lyrics to a song penned by Les Braunstein (lead singer of Blue Oyster Cult  in 1967) and performed for the first time that same year when I was but 9  years old, by the legendary trio Peter, Paul and Mary. I had the joy of interviewing Paul Stookey back in the 1990’s and sadly, never had the same opportunity of speaking with Mary Travers who passed in 2009 of Leukemia. For those who are not familiar, their most famous (and may playfully raise eyebrows of those of a certain age who question its meaning:) song is Puff The Magic Dragon. It is 50 years old and a favorite of kids of all ages.  On this particular day, it was the closing song to the mini-concert with mini to  maxi back up singers lending our voices to the choir.

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The book and the song that were the reason for celebration for what looked like several hundred shiny, happy people is a call for racial equality as well as relationship equality, since it highlights a red haired freckle faced  human woman whose choice of partner is a lanky 6’4″ irridescently hued amphibian whose “mother was a frog from Philadelphia, His daddy an enchanted prince.”  The gorgeous illustrations come from the imagination of University of Hartford grad, who earned his M.F.A., Joshua Brunet. They are whimsically and brightly hued depictions of people and animals who stare and point, grimace and scowl at the happy couple, since their beliefs are fear induced, rather than notice the love that flows between these two. The beautifully packaged book also contains a 3 song CD with I’m In Love With A Big Blue FrogThe Froggy Went A’ Courtin and Inside.  Each one is sing-along-able for kids of all ages, and they focus on open hearted loving, regardless of appearance and what’s on the outside.

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Known for their fervent support of civil rights causes, Peter, Paul and Mary sang out for love and reconciliation, rather than just against hatred and bigotry. Their anthemic song, If I Had A Hammer is the perfect example….”I’d hammer out the love between my brothers and my sisters….all over this land”  (followed by a string of oooh oooh’s…my favorite part to this day.

It occurred to me; not a difficult stretch at all, that it could just as easily apply to same sex couples whose fight for equality and acceptance mirrors those of multi-racial couples whose marriages were illegal back when this song was written and sung. An anthem for us all.

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http://youtu.be/svoVxWcGNzA I’m In Love With A Big Blue Frog  by Peter, Paul and Mary

www.peterpaulandmary.com

www.doylestownbookshop.com

 

 

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Lifter Upper-er

Photo: Positive Inspirational Quotes ( PIQ)

In one way or another, we are all hoisted on the shoulders of the ones who came before us, like a child rising above the crowd on those of a parent, the better to watch the parade pass by. Many’s the time my own mom and dad did that for me physically and emotionally and I thank them most hardily for it. If not for the encouragement of family and friends in the past 5 decades of my life, I wouldn’t be doing most of the things that so light me up, including writing this column. Sadly though, every day I hear about people who don’t count themselves as that fortunate. They are surrounded by naysayers whose own insecurity and fears spill over onto those they encounter, whether they are their children, partners or friends. What’s even more devastating, is that they believe these folks who may, with all good intention, thinking they are protecting them from hurt or disappointment. What manner of magic could they create if they believed the truth about themselves and their abilities, rather than the lies? My take on it is that if you have a dream, then you just gotta see it through, even if it isn’t exactly as you have it planned. It may take time and fortitude, persistance and support, change of course a number of times, forays into unknown territory, that may feel frightening and soul searing, but arrive you will at your destination. That’s just the way of things.

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I invite you to consider who is on your support team. Make a list that could include those in your life now, who have been with you all along, those who are now in Spirit, a line up of ancestral cheerleaders,  teachers, mentors, role models, books, movies,  and music that all inspire you to be your best self. I know that it would also include those who have not yet entered your personal spheres, who are waiting eagerly to connect with you; humans, animals, and even  angels rubbing their hands together with a ‘goody goody gumdrops’ flair wanting to see what you will create. Now the question is:  are you on your support team?  There have been many incidents over the years during which I have been less than willing to cheer myself on, as if embarressed to put myself out there. These days, I say to you and myself “If ya got it, flaunt it!” We are not meant to hide our light under a bushel. If one of us shines, it invites us to coalesce our collective lights and beam even more brilliantly.

Can you be a yaysayer for those in your life?  Are you willing to be a lifter upper-er?

http://youtu.be/mzDVaKRApcg Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher-Jackie Wilson

 

 

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