The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Equinox

                                                                                    

 

Here in the Northeastern part of the United States, celebration of the Autumn Equinox is heralded with the vivid paintbrush dipped in rich hues dappling of leaves, vines and whipping in the wind, corn stalks.  The juxtaposition was that yesterday the temps were in the high 70′s. Such was the paradox of two events I attended as well. The first was a memorial service/tree planting for my friend Beth Rotondo Hadrava who had died a little more than a month ago. Greenshire Arts Consortium was the peaceful setting for the gathering of people-who-love-Beth. Calling themselves stewards rather than owners;   are Arlene and Jim Curley. Greenshire is a peace/piece of  Heaven on Earth nestled in Quakertown, Upper Bucks County. They offer workshops, concerts and hands-on, heart-on healing work. The grounds are a haven for people who are seeking reprive from hustle and bustle daily activity.  As we gathered in a circle, surrounded by sheltering trees and rock formations, we honored Beth, introducing ourselves to each other as she would have delighted to hear (and actually, I KNOW she was listening, with a sweet smile on her beautiful face) and shared how we knew her. Her friends came from so many directions; some she knew through the holistic wellness community; some , like me through introduction by a mutual friend Linda Hutchings and one she met on a dance floor; her husband Jiri.  Arlene, who is a minister, led the service with prayer and tribute and then asked us to each take a few rose petals that were a vibrant shade of red and embue them with blessings for Beth. We then walked in a circle and as we passed the newly planted tree, we dropped the petals onto the soil. As the ritual was completing, one of the children noticed that a puddle of water that had pooled on a rock was in the shape of a heart. Perfectly orchestrated, for this indeed was a love fest.  After the service, we gathered on the porch and shared a potluck dinner and conversation about Beth’s legacy. 

I felt torn at that point, since as much as I wanted to stay, immersed in the gentle energy, I knew I needed to head to my next destination, a celebration of the Equinox at the home of my friends Stephen and Kathy Redding, a.k.a. Happy Tree Farm. As always, at the turn of the seasons, they invited friends and family to gather at their home; another on winding country roads, with hovering trees; the color of cinnamon toast and burgundy waving their leaves in greeting as they pointed the way. I arrived as dusk was settling and was welcomed by a young man who offered a ride on a golf cart since the lakeside gathering was  down a darkening path and I was carrying my djembe (drum), a backpack and potluck food to share. We passed people laughing, talking, swinging on swings, singing, drumming and eating. My energy lifted/shifted immediately and I smiled in welcome of that change; rather than resisting.  Such is the way of the change of seasons as well.  As is the highlight of the ceremonies, there was a towering bonfire, fueled by wood gathered from the grounds and also an old ladder that made it seem that the fire was climbing to the heavens. I sat on bench, getting to know a new friend named Kristan Roehrs as we spoke about spiritual journey and watched the fire move ever higher as it consumed the ladder which disssolved back into the elements of its origin…another life lesson.  Shortly afterward, drum between my knees, sitting next to my friend Ondreah Johnson, who, maraca in hand, was calling out the directions, I tapped out a rhythm that came through, noticing something I had not before. I had observed that sparks from the fire had risen skyward in flickers, but a new awareness was that at times, they looked like ribbons of light being pulled into the onyx canvas. They also seemed to be dancing to the drum beats and changed pattern depending on the speed and intensity of the percussion.

Mabon; the Autumn Equinox celebration in Pagan tradition, is a time of gratitude for the bounty in our lives, a time of manifestation of our heart’s desires . The origin of the word  equinox  ”was derived from Latin term “æquinoctium” which, in turn, came from “æquus” (equal), and “nox” (night).It refers to the time that occurs twice a year when the nighttime is equal to the daytime — each being nominally 12 hours in duration.”   One of my favorite rituals at equinox and solstice is to write what it is that I want to release and what I desire to call into my life and then feed it to the fire, expressing gratitude for both. Once I completed the writing, I moved, with reverence toward the ‘towering inferno’ and tossed the card toward the bottom of the structure. I noticed that it did not land completely in the fire, but was not about to get any closer to place in into the conflagration, for fear of melting…it was that hot!

Part two of the celebration occurs today, as I will be participating in an interfaith service with the theme of   “Immersed In Our Gifts Together: Breathing The Same Air”.   Eager to see what breathes through us in the next 24 hours.

www.greenshirearts.org

www.stephenredding.com

 

http://youtu.be/RlGDeCeDN9U  Loreena McKennit  Mabon Blessings

Love Is The New Religion

                                                                                                                   

 

 

 brian

There is a movement afoot, the roots of which are ancient and the branches of which spread heavenward and embrace all life. It is all there is and all we are. It is LOVE, plain and simple. Yesterday one of my patients in the psychiatric hospital where I am employed as a social worker, inquired about my religious orientation.  He was hoping for a particular answer, that my beliefs were in alignment with his. Perhaps he was disappointed when I informed him that love is my religion and God is too big to put in a box. He looked at me like I was from another planet and perhaps I am. I had told my parents many times that I was an alien baby left on their doorstep.  My practice is eclectic, being an interfaith minister and all; ordained through The New Seminary in New York in 1999, the motto of which is “Never instead of,  always in addition to” . I was raised Jewish and went to Hebrew school until I was 16. I can still read Hebrew and love the prayers and chants, calling out the names of the Divine and it actually led me to my attraction to kirtan (sacred Sanskrit call and response chanting) and then ecstatic dance and drumming, yoga and meditation. Each of these rituals keep me mindful of the connection with all that is. What I practice off the mat or the cushion is even more telling. I do my best to see Good/God in all circumstances and all people, regardless of appearances. I judge less and honor more.  And I know that I am work in progress.

While on facebook today, which, believe it or not, can be quite a spiritual place in cyberspace, I came across a posting from one of my facebook friends named Brian Piergrossi. He spoke about a project based on his book called  “The Big Glow” which is all about being genuine, authentic, real and in touch with the sacred in every aspect of life. It is contagious and elemental, no frills, bells or whistles. It is viewing the world through the eyes of awe and wonder which is my preferred method.

According to his website, Brian is an “International Life Coach & Counselor, Spiritual and Meditation Teacher, Comedian, Musician, Healer and Poet,

At the age of 20 years old, Brian was suddenly struck by a mysterious, debilitating illness, later labeled chronic fatigue syndrome, that lasted for years, leaving him in intense, daily, physical pain and too weak to effectively function in society. When no medical or other authority figure could explain the suffering that was happening to him, Brian made it his life commitment to inquire into human suffering.

What began was over 12 years of committed, serious inquiry, study and personal application into the fields of spirituality, religion, psychology, sociology, cosmology, ecology, health, arts, science, yoga, as well as the core of the enlightenment and self-realization teachings.

After leading a quiet, simple life for over a decade, Brian felt a passionate calling to share his straight forward, timeless, spiritual truths for the 21st Century in a modern context with those who are ready and interested.”

 

 

“When the pillars of my limited mind collapsed, the roof caved in and I could take in the beauty of the stars.”
-Brian Piergrossi The Big Glow

http://youtu.be/mndsMqz54aA  Love Is The New Religion 

 

Some of my favorite lines of the poem:

Some call us the “Conscious Army”
We are slowly creating a new world with the power of our minds and hearts
We follow, with passion and joy
Our orders from the Central Command
The Spiritual Intelligence Agency

We are dropping soft, secret love bombs when no one is looking
Poems
Hugs
Music
Photography
Movies
Kind words
Smiles
Meditation and prayer
Dance
Social activism
Websites
Blogs
Random acts of kindness”

I am grateful to have been recruited and willingly serve. How about you?

www.brianpiergrossi.com

Have A Little Faith

 

                                                                                                                       

This poem and video appeared before me today across the marvels of modern technology via the heart and creative mind of Jonathan Fields who describes himself on his website as: “…a dad, husband, New Yorker, author and speaker, serial wellness-industry entrepreneur, recovering S.E.C./mega-firm hedge-fund lawyer, slightly-warped, unusually-stretchy, spiritually-inclined, obsessed with creation, marketing and innovation consultant, venture partner and book-marketing educator.”  In other words, a  Renaissance Man and someone with whom I feel a kindred connection. That’s why I enjoy reading his a-musings.

Although we have not met face to face, I fnd that I could easily have written the sentiments expressed below:

To all those who want desperately for me to succeed.

To all those who want me never to experience the pain of failure.

To all those who watch and wonder if I really know what I’m doing.

To all those who stand in judgment, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

To all those who look to me for proof of what’s possible.

To all those who only want the very best for me.

To all those who love me, unconditionally.

I share these words…

Have a little faith.

Have a little faith that I’ll make mistakes, but be able to recover.

Have a little faith that, more often than not, I DO know what’s best for me.

Have a little faith that I have within me the will to rise against adversity.

Have a little faith that I’ll know when to soldier on and when to walk away.

Have a little faith that I will not put myself at unjustifiable risk.

Have a little faith that my heart is in the right place.

Have a little faith that the mainstream path isn’t always the right path.

Have a little faith that I will succeed beyond my wildest imagination, even where those before me have failed.

Have a little faith…and a lot of love.

Now…PASS IT ON!

 

Who among us had not considered some of those thoughts, wishing beyond fear that we had someone behind  us, beside us and before us who was on our team?  I have been incredibly blessed to have had parents who told me with regularity that they believed in me and thought I could do anything I set my heart and mind to.  They set high standards and expected that my sister and I would stumble at times, but then in the words of the song  Start All Over Again, we would ‘ pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off..start all over again.’  As long as we did OUR best, they were satisfied; regardless of outcome. Both of us were on swim teams throughout our childhood and our parents cheered from the sidelines, but were not ‘stage parents’ who lived vicariously through our successes. They knew how dedicated we were.  I remember my mother telling me that as long as we were having fun, we could be on the team. If it stopped being enjoyable, she knew we would lose interest.  That’s what had me in the water at 7 a.m. on Summer mornings and in late afternoons during the school year, from the time I was 11 until I was 18 and then for three years after that, I was a lifeguard, swim instructor and  swim team coach. It was worth the hours of chlorinated soaks, weary muscles and coaches whose methods didn’t always feel good, but shaped me into a champ. For years, I kept boxes of ribbons in my closet to remind me of the end result of all of that intense effort. Now, at 52, I am called to believe in myself as much as my parents believed in me…I think it came more naturally to them.

My challenges outside the pool look more like working with clients whose own faith is shaken daily, who need those reminders that they are indeed worthy of  love, respect and success. Faith is that unseen support that raises us up to be all that we can be. It is first cousin to unwavering knowing that all is well and everything works out for the highest good, regardless of appearances.  Wishing that for you. Whose faith can you bolster by believing in them?

 

www.jonathanfields.com/blog/have-a-little-faith-video/ 

 

and a bonus John Hiatt  Have A Little Faith In Me  http://youtu.be/8UkKTlzyLhQ

Squeezing The Stars

                  
 
 
 
Although we have not yet met face to face in this lifetime, I feel as if Courtney Walsh is a creative kindred spirit,  and soul sistah whose astonishing way with words, sets my heart to dancing. I love the combinations of phrasings that seem to come from the cosmos through her fingers and onto keyboard. To look at her, you would not know, and even the closest among her, were not aware that she harbored a secret that she divulged after years of suffering with depression as a near constant companion. Today, she is a shining example of being a thriver who has taken her personal trials and turned them into triumphs, reaching out to assist others.
 
 
How do you live your bliss?
 
Big question. Ok…I started by identifying how I wasn’t living it. And I worked from there. Contrast. It can be a delicious and powerful teacher. For example—in the corporate world I was always stressed and rushed. Overworked. Undervalued. I was one of the many BUSY BRIGADE…You know the ones. The people who sell their time and souljuice for a roof over head/food on table version of ‘safety’ and an illusion of security but they overeat, drink, take pills or use TV and drama-laden relationships to avoid the lifeforcesucking deathboredom of timepunching and timemarking.
 
It was literally killing me. It was worse than cancer. It was soul suicide by inches and degrees. So I slowly started writing. And writing. And writing. And it brought me into a more authentic and juicy life. I traded the paralyzing fear of change or disruption of comfort for my own version of freedom. I am not gonna lie and say it was all sunshine and roses or that I have cracked the code or that I am living a fully balanced and productive life 24/7. I still have days where I cry onthe couch and eat a can of Pringles for dinner. B ut when I write? I have that euphoria. That aliveness. That BLISS that we think of as one thing but really sneaks up on us and is quite something more fragile, invincible and perfect than we ever thought it could be.
 
 
What was the meandering path that led you from being a ‘happy go lucky’ child who wanted to squeeze the juice out of life, to feeling as if the life was being squeezed out of you?
 
Happy-go-lucky is a funny term. Though I suppose it’s very accurate. I was an imaginative, creative, sensitive and fun little kid. I was popular whatever that really means. Mostly I just think people liked & felt safenurtured in my sadkind eyes and around my infectious laugh. I think at about the age of 9, when pre-puberty started hitting…my mom and I started fighting like cats and dogs. I was individuating. She was unhappy and angry. Power struggles ensued. The whole idea of Squeezing the Stars comes from my first full sentence as a toddler. I believe I must have been impatient and frustrated (some of my less perkycute qualities) that mom was doling out slices of orange to me. I’m sure she just didn’t want me to choke. But I wanted MORE. I demanded: “GIMME THE ORANGE!”  I think even at that tender age…I knew. It wasn’t the love I could choke on. It was the fear. Not the smothering. But the neglect. I started getting sore throats very young and feeling that I had no “VOICE”. I was to sit there quietly and look pretty. Not to talk back. Not to ‘be fresh”. To be fair…I’m sure I WAS a handful ball of sassyfiery starpower and my poor earthmom just wasn’t equipped. She, like many suburban moms in the 70s and 80s used to be home a lot, probably lonely, bored and restless. She is a painter. A wild personality of her own. I imagine her own wings felt clipped. It was a source of tension between us and sadly to this day in many ways still is. She looked out the window once and mused, “Maybe artists shouldn’t have children.” I hope to prove her wrong on that front. We are still working on our compassion, forgiveness and communication. We are basically estranged. Feeling thrown away or cold shouldered or misunderstood by the woman who birthed you was the greatest wound of my early life. I am not blaming her for this—she DID HER BEST. I believe I chose her. I respect and love her. We just don’t really see eye to eye or heart to heart.
 
Was there a defining moment that had you saying…”Enough!” of life and then one in which you embraced life again….or perhaps allowed it to embrace you?
 
That moment happens every day when I wake up and get out of bed. But there were contributing aha moments along the way from Rock Bottom to Rock ON! One was a friend dying of colon cancer at age 33. Recently, one was a broken heart that I learned a GREAT DEAL from. Still learning actually.
 
What makes mental health issues so challenging for people to speak about openly?
You know—it’s all just fear. Fear of perception. Fear of being judged. Fear of being labeled and dismissed. Just conditioning, misperceptions, stigma and fear.
 
How can we support people in our lives who are facing them, perhaps in secrecy and shame?
 
OK…so Edie Weinstein…here’s how. I’m going to do it and COME OUT OF THE SHAME CLOSET right here on YOUR BLOG…thank you for this opportunity for total transparency, even though my heart is beating a billion miles a minute and my pits are sweaty. You do it first. You tell the truth. The whole truth and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. So you know that I am an author, speaker, world traveler, role model, college graduate, have been on national television, social media rockstar etc.
 
But what you don’t know…and might never guess is that:
 
I am currently on disability.
And food stamps.
And I have no Internet.
 
So there you have full, total, humbled and deep transparency. Can’t get clearer or more naked than that, can I? You can support us by loving us out of our victimshame feelings and worthiness issues about BASIC HUMAN NEEDS. See us as thriving. Love us into our wholeness. Believe in us. Help us believe in ourselves. Speak/think of us in glowing, loving terms, not pitying, judging or angry ones.
 
Please speak about your book Lipsticks and Thongs in The Loony Bin…catchy title!
 
All I can really say is it is a memoir. It’s deeply personal. And yet hopefully also—universal. It’s about a suicide attempt and the healing journey back to myself. To my own soul. It’s funny though, too. Humor is a key part of what I do and how I choose to show up in the world.
 
And then your second book:  Squeezing The Stars…what’s that about?
 
It’s a compilation of the status updates of the past three years that I have offered for free on Facbook. People kept asking me to put it into some kind of format so Terri Kennedy—a complete angel from Utah stepped up and helped me pro bono because she believes in me, my voice and my talent. One thing I have been very blessed to do since my teen years is to manifest surrogate mother/sister figures into my life who show up at just the right moment when I need encouragement, support, to be seen, cherished, appreciated and loved. Terri has been a godiversesend in more ways than I can count. She sees me as I truly am and I want to become. I am so grateful for that. SO GRATEFUL.
 
I have admired your wondrous way with words ever since I laid eyes on them…how does your writing write you?
 
It comes in fully formed mini-transmissions. I really do feel like I am merely taking dictation. Scribe on loveduty more than tortured wordwarrior.
 
Does the Muse awaken you at all hours as it does me?
 
YUP. Though my sleep regime has improved vastly because I asked my guides/muses to cool it a little on that.
 
You use the word YUP alot in your writing. What’s the motivation for it?
 
YUP to me, is an acronym for: “You’re Unbelievably Precious”.  Because I believe that we all are. Every single one of us.
 
Have you always been so colorful?
 
Not in the murkyshadowy greydeeps of depression or dark night of the soul moments. But yeah, mostly. I just know stuff. It makes life interesting. Sometimes, ok, often, it challenges and catalyzes those who love me. They sometimes don’t get it or can’t keep up or get burnt out on it. I don’t blame them for that. I believe that the ones who know stuff (and who embrace, honor it and consciously develop it) are drawn to me too. And we get to play and cocreate and know stuff and learn stuff and grow and laugh and cry and LOVE and combine our divine shine? Together. Sometimes, I must be truthful…it hurts to feel like you are out on this lonely leading edge ledgelimb and people look at you like you are “too difficult’ or “too much work”. That’s an old story I’m replacing. I know that I? Am worth it. And that I am not too much work. Hiding is. Lying is. Pretending is. Duality is. So if I signed up to challenge those distortions, those illusions and those harmful, dying beliefs…then that is MY WORK HERE. I genuinely like my own company and spend long stretches in nature by myself. I’m a pretty good date! So my current theme I am reading/writing a lot about is intimacy and love. I believe these are very worthy topics as they permeate all parts of life. And they sure are COLORFUL.
 
Who inspires you, as you inspire a lot of folks?
 
Any of the Hay House authors are magnificent. Of course the Abraham materials. My Nana. My dad. The angels. Any female author who was ahead of her time. Aristotle. Shakespeare. That Choose Happiness woman. Rumi. Mike Dooley. Really—it ranges and depends on my mood. Lately I am also fascinated by writings that talk about harmonizing materialism and spiritualism.That is one code I have yet to crack in my own life. But I will. I most certainly will.
 
http://www.squeezingthestars.com
http://www.courtneyawalsh.com
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