The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

The Heart of Courage

 

                                               

My friend Orrie gave me a copy of Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s inspirational book entitled The Aladdin Factor. The image of the magic lamp adorns the cover that contains the words of these two dynamic speakers and authors. Over the years I have had the pleasure of interviewing Mark once and Jack twice. Each time, their tried and true wisdom leapt out at me and I made sure not to get out the way when it did, but instead, embraced it. The story of how The Chicken Soup For The Soul line came to be is literary legend.  Something like 144 rejections came their way before a publisher with foresight grabbed hold for the ride and now over 115 million copies have sold round the world.  The Aladdin Factor focuses on the idea of asking for and being open to receving your heart’s desires.  Many things keep us from doing that; from fear of both success and failure to a sense of unworthiness, from the belief that it won’t occur, to a history of rejection that has us thinking it will always be that way.

I began perusing it this morning and opened at random to page 95 and came upon this paragraph headline:  “Realize that everyone else is afraid too.”  It goes on to say “It is very liberating when you realize that everyone else is walking around just about as afraid as you are.” Most people who know me would say that I come across as being self assured and relatively fearless. Guess what…it’s an act..uh oh…  now you know that the ‘Empress has no clothes. ’  How freeing it feels to admit that. Now there is no more facade to keep up. See, the thing is, being fearless isn’t the ideal. It is being aware of where fear can be helpful since it keeps us from walking down a dark alley at midnight or entering a lion’s cage either literally or figuratively. Living in a perpetual state of fear, however is limiting and disabling.  What I have learned to do is recognize my fears, even list them and then face them head-on…well sometimes side-long, sometimes sneaking up on them before they can creep up on me. Most of the time I don’t allow fear to stop me as I echo the words of Susan Jeffers; “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” It doesn’t mean that I live recklessly, but rather lushly and courageously.

I love the word ‘courage’, since it comes from the French word couer which means ‘heart’, so that to live courageously is to come from the heart. What if, in any situation where fear lurks about could be faced with heart wide open, leading the way?  I have discovered that when I do that, fear evaporates like fog on a newly sunny day. Sometimes it takes courage to begin a relationship, sometimes to end one when it carries with it more ‘oy than joy’.  Raising a child calls for more courage than you could imagine, as does watching that newly minted adult sprout wings and fly independently. Writing a book, painting a picture, auditioning for a play, starting a business, financial problems, living with illness or other physical challenge, surviving abuse or trauma, losing a spouse/partner, sibling, child or parent to death; all of these beckon courage.  I am blessed to know many survivors/thrivers of such circumstances. I’m sure you do too…perhaps you fall into one or more of those categories. I certainly do.

Some ideas for identifying your ‘courage curve’

Make a list of what you most fear.

Ask yourself if any of these have actually come to be.

If they have, ask yourself what you believe and tell yourself about these situations.

How have you moved through fear into courage?

Know that your history is not your destiny.

How can you live courageously?

Let your heart take wing.

So let it be~

http://youtu.be/u6P4jI8t-0I  Strength, Courage & Wisdom  by India.Arie

A Blessing For One Who Is Exhausted

 

                                         

As I am writing this entry, I find my eyelids flickering, my body settling down into comfy covers and a growing sense of needing sleep. Even as I am engaged in one of my favorite activities; putting my thoughts out there to share with you, I hear the call of dreamland. After my full time day job, writing an article, listening to  Steve Harrison’s webinar on The Secrets of Publicity Superstars…oh and sneaking in dinner, kitchen clean up, a wee bit of laundry, speaking with a friend on the phone and a conversation with my son, I can say that I am feeling seriously wiped!  And I didn’t get to the gym tonight. If I had, I would be typing this at midnight instead of 10pm.  I used to say “sleep is highly over-rated.”  For those of you either in the throes of menopause or  swimming in the energetic soup of the shifts that are taking place on the planet, you may notice wee hours of the morning awakening. I seem to be in both groups at the moment. For the past few months, regardless of what time I close my eyes, they spring open 6 or so hours later. 

As I was pondering the missive for the Bliss Blog, I came upon a poem that Joan Borysenko had on her facebook page that comes from one of my favorite writers. John O’Donohue was an Irish poet, Catholic priest, scholar and philosoper. He passed three years ago and left a beautiful legacy. One of his quotes that is dear to my heart: “May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.”

This particular poem is a brilliant reminder to slooooowwww my pace, so as to rest my body and my mind and allow for the sacred to enter.  Sweet dreams~

A Blessing For One Who Is Exhausted

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

 John O’Donohue, from “Blessings”

 

 www.panhala.net/Archive/A_Blessing.html

www.johnodonohue.com

 

Riptide

                                           Riptide: Struggling with and Resurfacing from a Daughter\'s Eating Disorder

 

There are times when a book reaches out and grabs the reader by the heart, head and gut all in one fell swoop; stirring up a myriad of emotion, causing a sense of wanting to turn away and read on simultaneously, because it resonates to the core of who we are as fragile and maliable human beings. Riptide: Struggling With And Resurfacing From A Daughter’s Eating Disorder penned with naked vulnerability by therapist and mother Barbara Hale-Seubert is such a book. 

I was introduced to it by a dear friend who is part of the family. She knew that as a therapist myself who has worked with folks diagnosed with eating disorders, I would find Riptide to be an inside-the -disease view that I was not privy to from my side of the healing chasm. And it does feel like that at times, but Hale-Seubert is able to eloquently bridge that divide by taking the reader along on both a hopeful and horrifying journey. She emerges from it, more than a survivor, but rather a thriver, using the wisdom gained by reaching out and helping others. She is washed ashore, gasping for breath as the riptide of  her daughter Erin’s insideous eating disorder that spans the spectrum from restricting (Anorexia) to binging and purging (Bulemia), had pulled her under.

Word by word, she weaves a tale of the strength and resilience it takes for a family to embrace the loved one, while battling the condition with her. Erin’s decline from a happy toddler to teen with a secret that steadily becomes a full blown addiction is inexorable; like a runaway train that no amount of love can halt. It is heart-rending to witness. I found myself taking deep breaths with Hale-Seubert, and needing to put the book down and compose myself, wipe away the tears and continue on. What must it have taken for Erin’s family to move through this experience, I pondered?  She honors the love and support of her husband Andrew (also a therapist and author) who came into her life after her first marriage ended, and his son, as well as her daughters as companions along this arduous way.

What was most impressive was the courage evidenced for Hale-Seubert to peel off the layers of her own  perfectionism,  exposing her harshly self critical voice, even as Erin’s body de-evolved. Her own family history, the body image messages she adopted without question until this crisis hit, her first marriage, things that slipped past her radar come to bear as she desperately endeavored to rescue her daughter from the clutches of the steadily strenghening biopsychosocial disease.  She questioned, both as therapist and mother, how this could be happening with/to her daughter. Feeling a mix of shame and pride, delight and despair, riding the roller coaster of emotion, she invites the reader to be companions on the way.

How elastic is the human heart?  By reading this book, you will soon know.  It is a must read for any professional working with clients diagnosed with eating disorders and highly recommended for those bearing the diagnoses and their families; a cautionary tale and a light on a darkened and tangled path. With steel machete’, created of love and necessity, Hale-Seubert cuts through the seaweed that grabs at their ankles, pulling them under again and again, until there is no more fight left in any of them. Exhausted and paradoxically sweet relief accompanies the anguish of Erin’s inevitable passing. Those who have witnessed the suffering of loved ones, will certainly understand that juxtaposition.

Erin’s spirit lives on in the beautiful artwork that is displayed in the book; fanciful, whimsical and sometimes dark; echoing her deepest doubts and most passionate prayers for what her life could be. Some of the most poignant insights came from Erin; this young woman who left the planet far too early.  So much promise, accompanied by the even stronger pull of fear. In the end, love remains, solid, full bodied.

www.clearpathhealingarts.com

 

XPoNential Bliss

                                          

Baked by the sun, immersed in rhythm, rhyme and harmony, surrounded by the sounds, sights and smells of summer; I spent the weekend in musical heaven at an annual event hosted by NPR member supported University of Pennsylvania based radio station, called WXPN  88.5 fm . I’ve been a grateful member for many years.  Each mid July weekend, folks gather from the corners of the globe to enjoy a panoply of performers, whose genres range from folk, to blues, from jazz to rock. The XPoNential Music Festival is a gathering of the tribes; I knew I was among my peeps when I saw bumper stickers the likes of COEXIST (made of various religious symbols), “”Peacemonger”,  and one that read something like “Humans aren’t the only species on the planet, we just act like we are.” , on cars in the parking lot.

This year’s stellar line-up, fit to feed the souls of music lovers hungry for sonic sustenance, included Delta blues singer and guitarist Keb’ Mo’, folk/pop/singers/songwriters Susan Werner, Dar Williams, Ben Folds Five, Givers, Carbon Leaf, some of the members of The Hooters, and the Soul Survivors,  blues  chanteuse Shemekia Copeland, R & B legend Booker T, musical fusion artist Kuf Knotz and the piece de’ resistance…the ageless queen of alt-country, folk and bluegrass…Emmylou Harris who closed out the festival on Sunday night.  A highlight of her performance occurred when an enthusiastic fan hollered out  “You’re hot!”, to the 64 year young, white maned songstress. Her not so coy sweet and sassy Southern accented response:  “I know I am, baby.” By the time I left the oasis in the city of Camden, NJ called Wiggins Park, I was full to overflowing with musical nourishment.  It was like a buffet, from which listeners could pick and choose from both heritage artists and newcomers.

Part of the appeal for this melodic connoisseur, was being able to walk around the grounds and hear it reverberating everywhere. I was swimming in sound soup, together with perhaps thousands of others, sprawled on blankets, lounging on lawn/beach chairs, dancing improv style, blowing bubbles, strolling amidst the winding paths as they meandered up and down hills, leaning on railings overlooking the Delaware as a delightful breeze wafted across it.  The mini-wind puffs on the first full day of the festival, made the scorching 100 plus degree day tolerable. I noticed that I felt cooler walking and dancing than I did sitting still on my blanket on the grass. The water (both in me and on me, as I had a small spray bottle) kept me going until evening set.

The second day, back for more, I had decided to up the amps on my experience by creating a sign that read :”Have you had your FREE COOL hugs today?”, donned my Hug It Forward t-shirt and walking around offering them to whoever agreed. I sprayed myself with cool water from the squirt bottle and also walked past the ‘misting stations’ they had set up which was an ingenious hookup of a small hose, blown by fans and hugged on!  By the end of the day, I estimate a few hundred hugs were shared, and a few miles were clocked…bonus workout!  People’s reactions were interesting to observe. Some ignored or smirked at this weird woman who was offering bodily contact when it was sweltering, some smiled sweetly or laughed as they walked past, some came bounding up to me, arms and heart extended, some said no outright, some turned around and came back for an embrace, thinking better of walking past, others, even when I didn’t have my sign with me, snagged me and said that they had watched me walk about and now were ready for their cuddles. Being a Cuddle Party facilitator taught me not to take offense when someone was not willing to accept my offer. It also informed my intention to ask first and wait for a verbal yes.

Later in the day, a storm rolled in, bringing with it blessed relief from the heretofore unrelenting heat and along with it, torrential rains that might have rivaled Woodstock, for an ever so brief hour. 

I loved being in the presence of friends I have known for more than 20 years, and some I had met that day, as a result of my cuddly enounters, (and every time period in between)  including a man who pulled me aside while I was standing in line getting dinner and told me about a business idea connected to healthy, nurturing hugging. A special joy was hangin’ with my cousin Jody (pictured above) who I decided a long time ago, would have been my friend, even had we not been related.

I arrived home after midnight; muddy, sun speckled, a wee bit achey and sore, water logged, glowing from the inside out from immersing in musical magnificence.

www.xpn.org

www.hugitforward.com

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