The Bliss Blog

I live a full, rich life, overflowing with love, family, friends, opportunities to stretch and grow as well as miracles too numerous to name; but name them I attempt to do each day. Over the weekend, I had so many chances to acknowledge them. They included shared meals and shared hearts with loved ones; some I have known since my teens, others just recently met and still others somewhere in between. Witnessing the generosity of my friend Patricia Gallagher who now has two aliases” The Angel Pin Lady” and “The Flower Lady” who I will write about in greater length, as she delivers flowers to nursing home residents; sometimes with her mother and sometimes with another of our  friends: Bob Goodwin.


They pick up the posies at Trader Joe’s who donate them and off they go to scatter joy. I had the pleasure of meeting up with them for lunch on Friday and could feel the glow emanating off the bouquets that would soon spread smiles across elders’ faces.


Healing takes place on all levels, some simply by recognition of how far we have traveled to get from where we were to where we desire to be as we see all of the stops we have made along the way . That occurred several times in the past 72 hours as I came to see how my choices have brought me to where I am at this moment in time; some conscious and others by default.   Questions I ask are: did I plan the journey myself; whether before taking this form, along the way OR was it mapped up by the Celestial Cartographer? Some interactions seem too ‘beshert’ (‘meant to be’ in Yiddish) to be random. Some I see in my mind before they occur and I wonder if they play out as I have seen them because I envisioned them or I envision them because they have already ‘occurred’ on some level and my body is catching up with them. I know we all have the capacity to create from our heart’s desires, so I ponder why this even surprises me a bit. Diving down, raw and real revelatory conversations occurred that clear the way for even greater discovery and deeper love.

Saturday was Yom Kippur and I ventured out to Peace Valley Park in Doylestown, PA, which is a sanctuary of sorts for me. I went there to  fast, pray, meditate and write. I  carried a large cloth that came into my life more than 3 years ago when I was captured by its Celtic knot design and knew I had to bring it home with me. It has served many purposes and has attended music festivals, been a tapestry on my wall, draped across my sofa,  been wrapped around for warmth and been a bed spread. On that day, it became a ritual cloth. I also toted along a journal given to me as a birthday gift from a dear friend 2 years ago, with the words “Believe in yourself” inscribed on the cover,  and it is nearly filled with my mental meanderings; but room enough for ponderings that arose. Lastly, there were mala beads that became a tool for a ritual that I began offering a few years ago, that sends my heart soaring when I engage in it now. I ran each of the 108 beads through my fingers and brought  to mind the name and face of a person who has made a difference in my life; some for the love that we share(d) and others for lessons learned, even if they were painful. Two years ago, I went around twice and on this day, it was four times, which equals 416 souls I have encountered who have touched my life. Even now, more come to mind and I feel blessed to have known them. Lately I have become acutely aware of the fleeting nature of life. From one moment to the next, we have no clue what will happen or who will be in physical form on any given day. That may seem maudlin or morbid, but for me, it has become an in-my-face reality that has me treasure the people I know all the more.

That night I broke the fast at the home of my friends Barb and Glenn Cohen. She has been my best friend since we were 14 and met on the bench at a swim meet. Even though our teams were competing against each other, clearly the Universe had been conspiring for us to be in cooperation. In the midst of story telling, laughter, hugs and waaaaayyyy too much food, I was pleasantly satisfied when I meandered home appreciating the starlit ride.

Headed south  on Sunday morning to stand before a gathering of  recently met friends whose welcoming hugs greeted me at Awakened Heart Spiritual Center in Arden, DE. It is a new thought church, whose principles emerge from the teachings of Ernest Holmes. I spoke on the subject Beneath The Mask and the ways in which we hide behind a façade out of fear of revealing the truth of who we are. Knowing nods had me feeling like I’m not alone in the on again/off again, peeling off the layers and adding them back on out of a belief that I can’t bare it all.

A few hours later, I was at yet another spiritual community that has been part of my life since 1984. Pebble Hill Church is an interfaith peace site that welcomes folks from all walks of life and on this day, held a Peace Vigil. Speakers shared their insights on ways to create a more cooperative and accepting planet. I offered insights on the subject of forgiveness and my desire to have ‘thoughts that do no violence to my soul.’  Songs wafted through the air and I gained a greater appreciation for the folks gathered there, some I have know for more than half my life. Gary and Jennifer Culp were among the first people with whom I connected when I entered the sanctuary of the Red Barn 29 years ago around this time of year.  As I gazed over at them, I felt a warmth and an appreciation for who they have been in my life. They truly live their peace.

The whirlwind weekend came to a close around the table at China Wok as 1o of us came together to celebrate the birthday of our friend Ken Kaplan. My favorite way of enjoying Chinese food, as shared dishes made their way around via a Lazy Susan, and laughter and love spiced the dishes.


Even now, hours later, I bask in the glow of the sweet souls whose presence enrich my life immeasurably and simultaneously experience a beautiful ache; an appreciation for what I have and an accompanying sadness for those who feel alone. Paradoxically, I feel an existential loneliness even in the midst of such exquisite love.


I am writing this entry on the morning of Yom Kippur, as a bird is sweetly serenading and the sun-dancing leaves are casting patterns on my curtains. Growly stomach and slight headache since having a light dinner last night. Fasting today as part of honoring the High Holy day. Not my favorite aspect of the observance, but it makes me ever more mindful and appreciative of food. I don’t view the rituals of the holiday as I had in childhood when they felt restrictive and punitive. Instead, I see them as opening a portal to the sacred and awakening my own heart song. Later in the day, I will go to Peace Valley Park to sit by Lake Galena as I meditate, pray and write. That is my temple, my sacred space, my place to commune with the celestial today.

This year in particular has profound meaning, since the last six months have brought with them a torrent of tears that have washed me clean, a recognition of frayed and worn out life patterns, shedding of masks, shields and armor, shaking off denial of what I thought was so and what I believed I was ‘allowed’ to want in my life. I have en-realed and revealed myself to the woman in the mirror and those other sweet souls who love her. As my fear of abandonment and anticipated rejection (not sure where those were coming from….some ancient lurking something or other) were quelled and people actually applauded my vulnerability, I felt more courageous in my stretching. I have been doing a lot of ‘come cleans’ with my friends and family, sharing what I have been holding back. I have been increasingly willing to sit in the silence of my own thoughts, not pushing them away with frenetic activity. I have been celebrating my own human-ness, not covering over messy feelings with a smiling façade. The rewards have been immense as I have felt a deepening closeness with those I hold dear. It’s what makes life worthwhile.

Forgiveness is a huge part of the observance. We ask that if in any way we have caused harm, whether by thought word or deed, intentionally or unintentionally, may we be forgiven. It is so freeing to put that out there. I am also forgiving myself for all of the ways that I have done myself harm.

One of the tenets of the holiday is the idea of ‘being inscribed in the book of life for a sweet new year.’ At face value, it is a lovely wish. My only challenge with it, is that I had interpreted it as a child as meaning that if you didn’t follow the ‘rules’ as dictated by an outside male entity on High, then you would die. Did that mean that if someone died, that they had been bad?  Did that mean if tragedy befell you, that you hadn’t adhered to the strictures that were imposed by the religious teachings? As an adult, I have interpreted it in alignment with intention setting. I decide what a sweet new year looks and feels like. I turn the pages of the book in alignment with the ‘God of my understanding’. I am filling the pages with more love, adventure, abundance, connection and Divine alignment than can fill an entire library. I Shall Be Released

Tracie Nichols and I have traveled in the same circles for many years, dancing into each other’s lives. When we hung out for  a bit last weekend, and I learned more about this Renaissance Woman whose motto Soul Care From a Woman Who’s Been There,  who encourages her clients to ‘Live, Play, Love Fierce’, I knew I wanted to introduce her to the Bliss Blog community as well.


How do you live your Bliss? 


By staying curious and by being unabashedly myself – everywhere, all the time. The sensual experience of being a woman is just so juicy!


I also don’t let people’s opinions or expectations drive my choices or hinder my self confidence.


I have fun getting my crowd of paradoxical personality parts to all play nicely – or at least not be scuffling on the playground.


For example, I’m a shy introvert who LOVES inspirational speaking and facilitating circles and classes, groups and gatherings. I’m an earth intuitive and a science & technology geek. I’m a gentle, kind, earth-mama and a take-no-stuff cynic. I’m a survivor of abuse and a thriving woman who loves exploring her sensuality. It can sometimes get a little – erm – chaotic in here, but staying curious and in wonder is what makes it all a blissful experience!


You call yourself a thriver. What did you need to first survive to get to that point where you recognized your strength and resilience?


Years of being silent, dismissed and overlooked. Of feeling achingly, terribly alone. Of feeling irrevocably different and like I’d never, ever belong anywhere. Feeling broken, used up, and worthless. Feedback from coworkers and friends that completely contradicted my perception of myself was one of the catalysts for me finally being willing to recognize that I might have strength and resilience.


How can we be fiercely and passionately in love with life in the midst of challenges and trauma?


Short answer? Stay curious. Be willing to be awed. Allow childlike wonder. Remember we are part of the ebbing, flowing, thriving, messy, glorious ecosystem called Earth. If we can do those things we can be in love with life even when it feels raw and challenging. Think about this…We’re kin to millions of plants, animals, streams, stones, and clouds. So we’re never alone. We belong. We’re home. Right here. Right now. With this breath, and the next. Just because we’re alive. How can we not be in love with that?

If you’d like more… About 6 months ago I ended up crouched in my backyard in the dark sobbing brokenheartedly. Tears were streaming onto the frozen ground. I remember my hands were so, so cold, buried the grass as I shuddered. I felt raw, fragile, and helpless. Then, out of nowhere, a bird trilled. It was such a sweet sound! Waves of it rippled through my whole body. A few minutes later magenta light spilled all over the horizon and into my eyes.

I knelt there – a chilly, blotchy, hiccuping mess tumbling in love with the day unfurling itself around me. Nothing had changed. I was still facing the same challenge. But, the dawn washed herself all over me. How could I not be awed? How could I not feel wonder? How could I not be curious about where this challenge might lead?


Please describe Bone Deep Love.


Ahhh….. bone-deep love is that feeling you get when your whole body – your whole self – sighs with relief and contentment. When you feel in-your-bones-loved. It’s the kind of love that feels as steady, solid and warm as a huge boulder drowsing in the sun and as deep and mysterious as the Mariana Trench.  It’s the love I feel from the earth every day, and the love I’ve learned to give myself and all LIFE.


How about Soul Truthing?

Soul-Truthing is about confidently living and leaping because our soul is solid ground we know and trust. (How cool is that!) It’s walking the terrain of our soul so we come to know the truth of ourselves intimately. It popped into being as a process I use because too often life experience has taught us to distrust ourselves. Or we view the deepest, most sacred parts of ourselves as distant & unreachable, or worse yet, as if we don’t have the right to access them. Soul-Truthing helps us confidently tap into our juicy fierceness again.


What do our souls want to say to us?


In general, luscious things like: “You are a woman of deep and resonant worth.” “You are loved. So very, very loved.” “It’s OK. You’ve got this.” “You’re brilliant and amazing exactly as you are.” Yes! You belong.” “You know how strong you are, right?”  “Of course your dream is valid!”   In my experience, soul-truths are loving, supportive, and blazingly honest. Our souls don’t prevaricate. They tell us the absolute truth about ourselves and about our gifts and capacities.


What keeps us from listening?


Most often fear and the critical voice choir. We’re afraid of hearing something good. How will we live up to it? Who do we think we are? What gives me the right to be that exceptional? It seems easier to keep blundering along and not see the greatness our soul will show us. Because, make no mistake, our soul, and our nature kin, will show us the fullness of our own radiance.


What is an Earth intuitive?


A planet psychic, tree talker, water whisperer… Truthfully, we’re all earth intuitives because we’re all nature.

I call myself an Earth intuitive (I’ve also used the phrase nature communicator) because I’ve worked at remembering the language of the natural world and can translate it for people who want to connect – in words – with the Earth or any of the beings living on or in her. Just like some people speak the language of numbers, or music, or image, I speak the language of LIFE.


How can we each tap into our connection with Gaia?


Quick answer? Climb into our bodies, switch on our senses (all of them!), get curious, and listen with our whole being. I have a list of 11 ways to create an intuitive connection with Gaia. Two of my favorites are:

Be willing to believe. Or, at least to stop disbelieving. If you cannot believe that a tree, stream or owl can connect with you, then even if they do, you won’t perceive them.


Be willing to be in a relationship. Intuitively connecting with the earth isn’t a one-way channel. And, it’s not about finding another tool for yourself. It’s about opening a reciprocal relationship with LIFE.


What is the TaLK Project?


Ooohhh…I’m so glad you asked!! Our official launch date is Sept. 22.

The TaLK Project is a collaborative of three soul-strong women, each of us with our own personal experiences of abuse and/or addiction, who are ready to end the silence about what we’ve survived and how we’ve come to build thriving, fiercely awesome lives. Our name, the TaLK Project, is comprised of the first letter of each of our names-Tracie, Liz and Kathy-T, L, and K.

The TaLK Project celebrates survivors of abuse and addiction and the power we have to help each other heal through story and community.

As survivors we (the TaLK Project founders, Tracie Nichols, Liz Chesla and Kathy Tooley) will share our stories, our strength, and our strategies for thriving and living a full, joyful life. We are also inviting TaLKers (brave, compassionate souls willing to share their thriving survivor stories to help save the world) to connect with us and share their stories.


How do you blend the mainstream with the metaphysical in your life and walk in both worlds?


By believing that it is all one world…and I’m just being myself.  I’m innately connected with Gaia, with my soul, with LIFE (Spirit, Oneness…) So are you. What I’m doing in the moment doesn’t change or disrupt that. Well, unless I’m napping. No interruptions when I’m napping, human or more-than-human!  I think the real myth is that there is a mainstream world and a metaphysical world and they are somehow separate. It’s all Oneness. And Oneness is Oneness.


Heard this beautiful song tonight by India.Arie and it sweetly serenaded me with the chant:

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light….like a mantra that flowed through my veins, nourishing me body, mind and spirit; washing me clean of fears, old beliefs, self limiting thoughts and obnoxious inner criticism that echoed ‘not enough, not enough, not enough’.

She goes on to speak all of the things she is NOT, like her body size and age, the color of her eyes, the mistakes she has made or the scattered pieces of her dreams she has needed to pick up. I can relate to that since so much more often, I am claiming my enoughness and not what I thought I wasn’t ever going to be in the face of my transparently vulnerable humanity. Imagine not having to do enough to be enough. For me, that had been unthinkable. Of course, I reasoned, that I needed to earn approval and reinforcement, rather than a sense of belonging to something far greater than that simply by virtue of my birth.

Can I get an amen sistah!?  What if we truly knew that light was what we are for all eternity? How much more fulfilling would our lives and relationships be? What couldn’t we ask for?  What dreams would we allow to take flight rather than lying dormant out of fear of failure?

I know that if I trusted 110% in this truth, I would face each day, heart forward. I would be willing to live out loud, march to the beat of my own drummer, not caring a whole lot if anyone else chose to join in the parade. I would rock it out, iridescent, without hesitation, since in the past I wouldn’t have wanted to blind anyone and so dimmed my light. I would be a beacon, thus attracting other bright souls to shine for all eternity.  I Am Light- by India.Arie