The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

On Butterfly Wings

 

 

 

 

My friends Deva and Stan Troy host an annual Solstice gathering in their home, to honor the turning of the seasons and the return of the Light. It is attended by kindred spirits from their various overlapping soul circles. I have been blessed to be part of the tribe for many years and have celebrated with them. One of the highlights is a gift exchange. In most settings, the idea of ‘re-gifting’ is frowned upon, since it might indicate that someone didn’t like something they had and wanted to, on the sly, give it to someone else. In our community, it is considered an even greater gift, since love gets passed along with it. I gathered a few items, including a beautiful light aquamarine shawl that had belonged to my mother Selma, a necklace with a flower on it and a copy of my Bliss Mistress book. When I arrived at the party, I placed it with the other interesting packages on the window seat where they always remain until people choose one that appeals to them.  When the time came to select ours, I picked one that was in a bag  decorated with an angel. Inside of it was a container with a bird and the words Happy Holidays imprinted on it, a book about Goddess energy and Interview With An Angel by Steven Thayer. The other part of the game is to find the person whose gift you received and talk to them about its significance. Mine came from my friend Annette Kroninger for whom angels are a daily part of life.  The person who received the gift from me was my friend Susan Burger.  She had known that my mother had passed and when I told her that the shawl and necklace had belonged to her, her gaze softened. Sitting together, we two motherless daughters spoke of the importance of that kind of nurturing wherever it came from. I then told her about the “Mom Miracles”, many of which involved butterflies, and that the cover of my book has a butterfly on it by my mom’s suggestion. Susan beamed and told me that for her birthday, she had received cards that had butterflies on them. I asked when her birthday was and was amazed but not surprised when she said the words November 26th. That was the day my mother joined my father in their new abode on the Other Side. Goosebumps and a knowing grin. Years ago, that experience would have had a twilight zone quality about it. Now it was simply an ‘of course’.

As Susan was leaving later that night, to walk out of the warmth of Stan and Deva’s home, into the cold of the late Autumn darkness,  she was donning a coat with beautiful embroidery on it. I commented on it and she turned around and I saw yet another affirmation that my mother is never very far away, since the wings of a butterfly spread across Susan’s back.  I could almost feel the butterfly kisses that my mother would plant on my cheek with her eyelashes, as we hugged goodnight.

My Cup Runneth Over

 

This morning, on the way into work, I stopped to get a cup of chai. I carried it up to the counter to pay for it and had the precognitive  experience of seeing myself doing exactly what I was about to do a moment later…spilling it on the counter. Kind of like seeing yourself locking your keys in the car right before you do it, but doing it anyway. My initial reaction was to think of myself as being careless or clumsy and I pulled myself back from that precipice, because I knew it could set the tone for the rest of my day and I wasn’t goin’ there. Instead, I took a deep breath, asked the woman behind the counter for something to clean up the mess and then wiped it up. She told me I could go back and refill my cup after I had paid for it. I walked back to the machine, and pushed the button. This time, it didn’t stop as I had expected it to and it flowed over the edge. Being the ‘queen of re-frame’, my next thought was, “Oh, my cup runneth over.” and I decided that THIS would set the tone for my day and so it did.

As I went about the next 12 hours, I found myself facing challenges and then leaping over the hurdles. I kept coming back to the thought that became my mantra. Funny, isn’t it, how we are such powerful creators of our own experience. Having little or no control over circumstance , I am ALWAYS at choice about how I embrace or reject what I am handed. It is up to me whether I view the cup as half full, half empty or full to overflowing.

Tonight as I was heading for a book signing event, at a gathering place called The Zen Den  in Doylestown, PA (perfect for the experience I am describing);  I set intention as I always do, to find an ‘Uncle Jimmy parking spot’. My uncle was our family parking angel and would always find the perfect spot. I invoked my mojo and after driving around the same block 4 or 5 times, as I was pulling into the parking lot of my destination, a spot opened up right by the front door. It took driving around for the spot to be available, since it wasn’t open the first time I drove through. A lesson in patience and trust that I am always at the right place at the right time.

During the presentation, I was joined by people who live that truth as well, in gratitude for the overflow, miracle manna-festation, knowing that they will see it when they believe it. I left a few hours ago, feeling deeply satisfied and gratified for a day filled to capacity and then some, with love and support, color and juice, passion and purpose.

Where in your life does your cup run over?  Where would you most like it to do so?

 

The Present of Presence

 

A few days ago, a friend posted a question on Facebook asking why so many people seemed to be unhappy rather than have the ‘Christmas spirit’ or words to that effect and asked what Jesus would have to say about it. My response to him was that perhaps they had forgotten about Presence in the face of seeking presents and that Jesus might encourage folks to get their priorities in order. It got me to thinking more deeply about the importance of being fully present. How much time do I (and you) waste being in the ‘then and there’ rather than investing in the ‘here and now.’?  Unfortunately, for me, far more than I would prefer in the former, but nowhere near as much as in the past. What I know is that in the grand scheme of things, the only moment that exists is this one and that everything else is mental construct. When I am caught up in the whirlwind of whatever, I miss so much of the precious moment and the interaction with the people sharing it with me. I would much rather have love as companion than anger and resentment, frustration and limitation as a result of focusing on the shoulda-woulda-coulda’s, what if’s and if onlies.

I often say that my friends and family are my treasures, worth far more than any worry, fret or fear. I love attracting kindred spirits and collecting hearts and my life is immeasurably enriched because of it. More often, when distracted by all the ‘crazy-busy’, multitasking that goes in in my life,I am finding myself taking a deep breath and re-focusing on the person  in front of me. I remember the lyrics to a song that my friend Charley Thweatt wrote with the cheery title ‘You Will Die Someday’. It really is a beautiful piece with 2 particular lines that get me each time I hear them:  “Take your time when being with people. What’s another minute to you?”  Think about an experience in which someone really saw you, listened to you, got you, because they took that time. You felt like you mattered, that you were important and made a difference to them. That is worth far more than any wrapped and be-ribboned package.

This holy-day season and throughout every sacred day of the year, I encourage and invite you to BE the gift in the lives of those you love and those whom you will love that you haven’t even met yet, and allow them to BE that for you as well. One of the cool things about this type of present is that it can be freely given, costing nothing and the recipient will not mind that you are re-gifting.

 

http://www.timbays.com/christmas.htm  No Present Like The Time by Tim Bays

Creative Crisis Care

 

The topic of suicide prevention is not what one would consider as befitting a column on bliss, but Phil Garber, Janet Berkowitz and Gary Schoenberg have seen the potentially life saving outcome of their work. That to them, is bliss.  I have known Janet since the early 1980′s, Phil since the latter part of that decade and Gary since 1998. Each has an investment, either personally or professionally in this topic.

Gary is a licensed Psychologist who works as Continuing Care Director at COMHAR which is a community based mental health organization in Philadelphia. Janet and Phil have been recipients of both inpatient and outpatient mental health services at various points in their lives. Together this husband and wife team facilitate presentations for consumers and mental health professionals via Creative Communication Builders. The subject matter ranges from bullying prevention and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to addiction recovery and Bi-Polar Disorder. Their class entitled Creative Crisis Care: Taking Suicide Out of the Closet was offered to a group of Social Workers as a means of earning continuing ed credits, which are required to maintain our professional licenses. In the three hours we shared together, I found myself laughing, crying, and smiling in recognition of the universality of emotion whether or not we have mental health challenges. The tears also flowed as Phil and Janet shared their personal stories of how depression and turning to the unthinkable option of suicide, became their daily or near daily companions.

 

For Janet, suicidal ideation (although she acknowledges never having acted on the thoughts that hammered at her) came as part and parcel of early bullying experiences by peers. At age 8, she had her first thought that ending her life would be a way out of her torment. In the interceding years, this woman, now in the 5th decade of her life, had multiple hospital admissions, has taken nearly every mood stabilizing medication on the market and has been in outpatient treatment to deal with the devastating impact of this illness. Janet is also 24 years clean and sober, a milestone she proudly announced in the class. Lately, she has come to identify herself as thriver who has moved past seeing herself as a mental health consumer and now reaches out to help others. Both Janet and Phil are in training to become peer support specialists. Phil took a different route and his encounter with the system came as a result of cardiac surgery, complications with anesthesia and a sense of failure when he was not able to work for a time. He did attempt to take his own life and blessedly lived to tell about it.

The workshop offered both didactic and experiential exercises that highlighted brilliantly, the impact of suicide on the community, the startling statistics and the need to learn how to support those who are living in the darkness of the thoughts that could and do lead to the premature end of life for those we love. I found one exercise to be particularly powerful for me as a mental health professional since 1979.  A writing assignment, it provided aha-insight into the mind of someone for whom suicide does happen to feel like an option.

As a result of their experiences, Phil and Janet have organized Suicide Anonymous Groups and urge others to do so as well. In comparison to its predecessors of AA and NA, this self help group is startlingly limited in the number of meetings that currently exist.

Art is a huge part of the work that Janet does, being trained in a modality called WRAP  Wellness Recovery Action Plan that was created by Mary Ellen Copeland who is the author of The Depression Workbook. She incorporates what she calls WRAP Scrap and created a scrap book that is a work in progress display of the various aspects of her life. Janet also designed a time line of the depression/suicide roller coaster ride she has been on and it is displayed in the image above.

What it all seemed to come down to is that any of us could become vulnerable and deserve respectful and compassionate intervention, as free as possible of damaging stigma.

www.creativecommunicationbuilders.com

www.suicideanonymous.com

www.mentalhealthrecovery.com

 

http://youtu.be/UyXoRxsG92M Recovery In Mental Health by Annette Palmer

 

 

 

 

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