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The Bliss Blog

Today would have been her 67th birthday

A blast from the past sure-fire laugh inducer is Saturday Night Live re-runs; the first few seasons that included Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, Dan Akyroyd,  John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin and my favorite, the irrepressible Gilda Radner. Her characters Roseanne Rosannadana whose signature line “It’s always something,” became the title of her memoir, Emily Litella whose malapropisms were always followed up with the classic, somewhat whiny “Never mind,” and Baba Wawa who was a parody of Barbara Walters,  make me smile all these years later.

In 1986, Gilda Radner was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. With chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the cancer went into remission. But two years after the initial diagnosis, the cancer returned. She passed away in May 1989 at the age of 42, leaving behind a comedic and  loving legacy for her family, friends and fans.  With that in mind, back in the early 1990’s, I stepped foot behind the ‘red door’ of the non-residential cancer support community known as Gilda’s Club. The organization was founded by Gilda’s husband, comedian Gene Wilder, her brother Michael and her counselor Joanna Bull. It offers free programs, entertainment and support groups to those living with cancer, as well as for their family and friends. I had the joy of doing clowning at events; including the grand opening of the location in Warminster, Pennsylvania. There, with a wire-y haired Gilda look alike, I danced, skipping and flew around with the children. One of my most memorable highlights of the day was that there was a Mummer’s String band contingent and they gave the two of us long white plume feathers from their elaborate costumes. I also facilitated a living with loss group and caring for the caregiver group and recently stood in for the leader of a prostate cancer support group. Another day that remains with me for many reasons was a breast cancer survivors’ conference at which I taught a workshop on intimacy following a diagnosis. The courage of those who enter the building and leave feeling loved, inspire me greatly. Even in the midst of tears, laughter is often a staple.

I enjoyed reading Gilda’s book  “It’s Always Something” and watching the made for TV movie of the same name, and this take away concept hit home for me….

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”  and she added:  “The more I protested about this ambiguity, the more Joanna pointed out to me that it was both a terrible and wonderful part of life: terrible because you can’t count on anything for sure–like certain good health and no possibility of cancer; wonderful because no human being knows when another is going to die–no doctor can absolutely predict the outcome of a disease. The only thing that is certain is change. Joanna calls all of this ‘delicious ambiguity.’ ‘Couldn’t there be comfort and freedom in no one knowing the outcome of anything and all things being possible?’ she asked. Was I convinced? Not completely. I still wanted to believe in magic thinking. But I was intrigued.”

June 28th would have been Gilda’s 67th birthday. I chuckle to imagine how the many faces of Gilda might have aged, and how many new characters would have been born in the interceding years.

Gilda Radner

 

http://youtu.be/fpG2ArGLRWw Tribute to Gilda

 

 

 

This weekend I spent much needed restorative time immersed in nature.  Anticipating it for months, I knew that on the last weekend of June, I would be heading to Happy Tree Farm, which is the home of my friends Stephen and Kathy Redding. Each year, they welcome our far flung tribe of family and friends to their lakeside property (although I imagine they would hesitate to think of it that way, rather they would likely consider themselves honored stewards of the land.) for a Solstice gathering. Music, drumming, dancing, swimming, pot luck food, hugging, fireworks, and a  bonfire built from trees that had fallen in Hurricane Sandy, offered us their light and warmth.

Pre-bonfire wood with my friends Susan Duval and Carrie Willette Hipkiss

The Redding family is a unique clan. Stephen has had numerous return-from death experiences (I hesitate to refer to them as near death, since he literally did die and came back with stories about his experiences which he chronicles in his two books, More Or Less  and Something More), and he speaks about life, the Universe and everything to gatherings who are amazed by the wisdom he gleaned. The family owns and operates a landscaping and tree-care business. I think of Stephen as The Lorax ‘who speaks for the trees’ and to the trees. He acknowledged having a painful and difficult winter when many trees fell to the whirlwind that was Sandy. He and Kathy and their 4 adult children live there, working together as well. What has always amused me about their interactions is that his kids seem to accept Dad’s unusual activities, while my son thinks of me as his ‘weird hippie Mom’ for talking to trees (among other things).

On Saturday, I walked down the meandering paths, breathing in the fresh air, saying hello to the horses in their pen, the trees and plants that lined the dirt road, and the pond with fish, as I headed to my destination; the lake where people were already splashing about, floating on ‘pool noodles’, canoeing, and diving off the board into the literally healing waters. I have never experienced another body of water quite like it. A combination of minerals in this spring fed lake makes it buoyant and beneficial. A few years ago, I had a weed whacking accident, during which, from lack of attention, I sliced 18 lacerations in my right calf. A week or so later, Stephen invited me to come over for a swim, telling me that I would likely see some healing take place. Just being there was soothing. Within a few weeks, these formerly deep gashes were gone and to this day, you would never know they had ever been there. Needless to say, I was relieved, since I had imagined life long scarring. I joined my friends for some fun and frolic, followed by swinging on a swing-set and glider. As the sky darkened, we were treated to a fire works extravaganza that rivaled any 4th of July show I had ever seen.

Then the fire roared into action, sending sparks that leapt into the sky much in the same manner as the other pyro-technics had dazzled us a short while earlier. It was as if  we and the fire spoke and listened, a back and forth dialog of story telling as we sat for hours, perched on boulders, in trees, on chairs and benches, mesmerized by the flames.

Photo: Edie Weinstein on her cool perch to watch the fire.

The next morning, I participated in a Sunday lakeside service for Circle of Miracles, speaking about the power of intention and the ways in which we can plant seeds for that which we want to attract and sustain. I gave each person a feather as a talisman to remind them of their desire to take wing and fly and then asked them to call out their thoughts, blowing bubbles for each one, sending them into the sky as the sparks and fireworks had done the night before. We were all embraced by the elements on this beautiful second weekend of the Summer of 2013. May we all look back in awe and wonder.

 

 

Edie Weinstein

www.stephenredding.com

www.circleofmiracles.org

As I was prepping for being a guest on a radio show tonight, I was coming up with topics about which I would be speaking. My intention is to help people live the lives of their dreams and manna-fest their hearts’ desires. Pretty simple goal, but with all kinds of twists and turns along the way. I liken it to the seed planting that takes place when we want to grow a garden. Vivid imagination is an initial ingredient since before we place the first kernel into the ground, we need to have some idea of the end result. If we went a floral expanse, we aren’t going to plant potatoes and if we want veggies to grow, we aren’t going to plant pineapple. How often, though, do we make that choice when putting forth the seed pods in our minds?

From many sources, comes the same message. The  bible says “Ask and you shall receive.” Abraham-Hicks offers the message consistently ” Ask and it is given.”  Joe Jackson poses the musical dilemma “You can’t get what you want, ’til you know what you want.”  and then The Stones sagely say “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” How can people discover their passion and purpose?

I like to say that your purpose is what lights you up from the inside and turns you into a human sparkler. What would that feel like to be electrified and buzzing with energy, throwing off vibrant sparks of de-light?  Pretty nice place to be when I am there, which includes writing, reading, listening to music, teaching, interviewing, counseling and coaching. I set up time every day to do most of those things, which keeps my pilot light aglow. In that receptive state, so many ideas, insights and images enter. From that raw material, I create stories, experiential exercises to share, and counseling/coaching interventions. It also helps to have people around me who inspire me with their brilliance and insights, their positivity and get it done attitude. Being a visionary is one thing, but taking inspired action is what really launches us into the stratosphere.

I invite you to listen in to Far Out Radio from 6-8pm est and call in to pick my brain, or whatever is left of it by that time on a Friday evening, at the end of a long and rewarding week.

www.faroutradio.com

 

ediefaroutradio

 

Yesterday began like any other for most Americans, unless you were awaiting a monumental Supreme Court decision. As an interfaith minister who marries both same and opposite sex couples, someone with friends of diverse gender and relationship preference and a woman of conscience who affirms that love is love is love and that “it is about the person, not the plumbing,” I was eager to see what would emerge from the chambers. I walked into one of my homes away from home, Planet Fitness (The Judgment Free Zone) for my ‘playout’ and noticed that most of the television screens that span the front of the space were tuned to news channels with BREAKING NEWS streaming across them. My heart began thumpity thumping even before I climbed on board the elliptical as I saw the first of two pieces of information. The Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA (The bizaarely named Defense of Marriage Act; how can same sex marriage in any way threaten heterosexual marriage, such that it would need defending? ) as unconstitutional . Another, astoundingly courageous Edie (Edith Windsor) is the catalyst for such a powerful outcome. For 40 years, she was in a deeply committed and passionate relationship with a woman named Thea Spyre who she describes as “the love of my life,” which is the way my parents, who were married nearly 52 years when death parted them as well, described each other. Two years prior to Thea’s death from MS in 2009, she and Edie were married in Canada. When she died, Edie was required to pay an exorbitant amount of estate tax. In several interviews, she had said that had there been one letter difference in her sweetie’s name (Theo instead of Thea) and even had she met a man and married him the day before he died, her tax liability would have been zero.  As a result, she filed suit. An elegant octogenarian, she had two powerful forces on her side: love and the law. Oh, and I’m sure, her wife on the Other Side, beaming with pride and joy.

“Due to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars the federal  government from recognizing same-sex marriages for the purpose of federal  benefits and tax breaks, Windsor faced a bill in excess of $300,000 on Spyer’s  estate. She decided to fight this case despite her own ill health and warnings  from other equality fighters who thought her chances of winning were slim.”

To learn more of the specifics about what this change will mean to so many families:
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/here-are-3-amazing-reactions-to-todays-gay-marriage-victories.html#ixzz2XPz2ttf8

The second victory came with booting out of the court room Proposition 8. According to an article in The Huffington Post:

“The Supreme Court on Wednesday left for dead California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8, but the question of gay and lesbian couples’ constitutional right to marry remains very much alive.

By a 5-4 vote, the justices held in Hollingsworth v. Perry that the traditional marriage activists who put Proposition 8 on California ballots in 2008 did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial.

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “We decline to do so for the first time here.”

Roberts was joined in his majority opinion by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Justice Anthony Kennedy filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.

The judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was vacated and the case remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. While California will likely begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the decision will not have an impact beyond the state’s borders, and other same-sex marriage bans across the country will be left intact.”

My immediate reaction was a fist pump in the air as a yahooooo!  moved through me and tears trickled, since I know what this means to so many whose love lives are scrutinized and in many cases, demonized. It affords some sense of validity to what should, in my opinion, be a given; that love is not measured by body parts or chromosomes, but rather dedication and heart and soul connection.

According to this tireless crusader, the decision brings with it “The beginning of the end of stigma. It is the beginning of the end of lying about who we are.”  and adds: “My country gave dignity to this beautiful person I lived with.”

www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9lfi7gCuz0  Everything Possible by Fred Small