The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

My Parents’ Daughter

 

This morning while sitting in the Jeep in the bank drive through, I glanced over, smiled at the teller and complimented her on her earrings. She grinned back and thanked me and told me that she had gotten them at the shore this past summer. I joked with her about them being such a wonderful reminder of warm summertime in the midst of a mid double digit, East Coast ‘chilly bears’ day.  It was then that it occurred to me how my parents, Moish and Selma had a knack for engaging in conversation with any and everyone who crossed their paths and passed that gift and one of my greatest joys, on to me, much to the embarressment of once upon a time teen aged son. At 24, he has gotten used to his mother talking to strangers, since I remind him that everyone we now know and love was once a stranger.

My father, in particular was the king of compliments, finding something to speak well of about most folks. It helped that he had grown up in multi-cultural South Philadelphia where, if you were Catholic, you referenced your neighborhood by parish and if you weren’t (Moish Weinstein was a nice Jewish boy), by street corner. He lived at 5th and Wolf and 4th and Ritner at various stages of his life. He learned to adapt to the environment. My dad was a big flirt (in a harmless, friendly way) with the nurses that took care of him at the end of his life, calling them “Doll Baby” and asking them to tuck him in and kiss him on his cheek. My mother would smile, knowing that she was his ‘one and only’. My mother was the best listener I have ever known, the ‘rock of the family’ who could be counted on to come through no matter what. My friends (including an ex-boyfriend from my teens) would turn to her for support. Our house had a ‘helping hand’ sign (for those of you who didn’t grow up in the 60’s and don’t know what I am talking about), which signaled that ours was a safe house to go to if a child was in danger in some way. My mom had told me many years later,  that it was in response to a kidnapping in our erstwhile safe South Jersey community.

Since they have both passed (my dad in April of 2008 and my mom in November of 2010), I have recognized more of them in me. I hear myself sounding like my mother, when encouraging people to refrain from actions that don’t serve them with a lovingly kick-butt “Knock it off!” the way my mother would have offered.  I have become a better listener,  more often, but not always, witholding comment until the person had expressed their feelings, rather than jumping in to fix things (although as a social worker, it is still an occupational hazard) as I would have in the past. I ask more questions that have them finding their own answers, as she had done with me. I have become the family matriarch, being a listening ear for my son, niece and nephews. I am an even better schmoozer, finding common ground with people from all walks of life, like Moish. When I look in the mirror, I see my mother’s eyes gazing back at me, my father’s dimples and the salt and pepper hair that I no longer color, since I proudly claim my place as a ‘seasoned woman’.  I have re-established my workout schedule over the past 2 years, like my father ‘the gym rat’. A few years prior to his death, he still worked at a gym and a year prior, he continued to work out there and when Parkinsons took its toll, he  walked around the condo with his walker and did seated exercises with my mother as his ‘personal trainer’.

There are some parental traits I have adopted that don’t always serve me that include my father’s Type A workaholic tendencies that sometimes spill over into an inablility to sit still for very long. My mother’s “broad shoulders” as she called them that could seemingly carry the weight of the world, have translated into my ‘savior behavior’ that have had me believing that I could heal, cure or save anyone, kissing emotional boo boo’s and ‘making it all better.’

I’m sure that I can think of a million other ways I emulate these amazing (but not perfect, lest you think I am idealizing them) people who set the bar really high for a loving lifelong partnership (and beyond) that I desire to experience, since being widowed.  I am grateful that they are still around (in Spirit) to shine their light on each day, beckoning me to continue in their footsteps. Last week, a friend was talking about his mother who had passed and the concept of ‘losing people’ when they die. His sentiments echo mine “I haven’t lost them. I know where they are.”  Yes, I miss their physical presence, but I feel them with me through my day and call on them for guidance still, although I have internalized their wisdom in many ways. I am honored to be my parents’ daughter who raised me to be able to live without them.

Abundant Love

If I could offer you the most precious gifts imaginable, they would be:

The ability to adore the person in the mirror

A chance to make a difference in someone’s life

Fulfillment of your dearest wish

Satisfaction of a job well done from start to finish

Willingness to put your heart on the line

Delight in each moment

Stillness and silence

Overcoming your deepest fear

Letting someone in all the way

Peace of mind even in the midst of a swirling tempest

At least one (& hopefully many) who loves you unconditionally

Time to sing, dance and play with abandon

Being known completely and fully

Owning your personal strengths

Unbridled enthusiasm

Boundless creativity

Discovering your purpose

Learning something new every day

Implicit trust in Spirit, knowing you will be safely held and cradled

Facing your shadow and seeing the light shining within and around it

Knowing that you are never alone

People who believe in you and tell you so

All the hugs you could possibly want…and then some

Being your bliss

Following your passion

Cleansing tears

Remembering who you truly are

Open hearted acceptance of what is

Belly laughs

Wild Card/Fill in the blank——————————-

Living Fully: Finding Joy In Every Breath

The cover exuded a sense of serenity, as it welcomed me inside and the title carried me on the breath of  peace; much needed for this recovering Type A, go-getter. As I immersed myself in its pages, I found myself smiling in recognition of the wisdom contained within a subtle blending of the flavors of East and West. Easily translatable for readers who are not familiar with meditation or Buddhist practice and sublime for those who are. What would it indeed be like to live fully and find joy in every breath? Could it be as profoundly simple as following the inhalation and exhalation required for survival and transform our lives with the idea that this precious moment is really all we have? The author;  Buddhist teacher, lama, humanitarian and world citizen Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche offers concepts that say a hardy yes to that question.

With intriguing chapter titles such as Precious Human Birth, Turn Toward Freedom, The Profound Meaning of Compassion and Territorial Self, the reader is taken along on a journey that embraces peace and lovingkindness. Rinpoche’s conversational style makes it seem as if he is telling a story and turning the pages himself.

It is not sufficient, however, to merely read the words. The power is in putting into daily practice, the ideas contained within. He offers:  “The practice is to be  gentle. The practice is to be kind. The practice is to be understanding…….   there will be nothing further you need to accomplish. With this alone, you will have accomplished everything.”

He closes with the humble prayer: “May this benefit all beings.”

 

Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche is the author of LIVING FULLY: FINDING JOY IN EVERY BREATH (New World Library, February 2012).  He is the spiritual guide of Shyalpa Monastery in Kathmandu, the founder of the Tibetan Refugee Children’s Fund, and the head of Ranging Yeshe, Inc., a nonprofit that organizes teachings and retreats throughout the United States.  He has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan, and the Naropa Institute.  He lives in Nepal and New York.  For more information, please visit www.shyalparinpoche.org.

For more information, you can read the interview with Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche in the March issue of Wisdom Magazine www.wisdom-magazine.com

 

Dress It Up, Mess It Up, Bless It Up

 

Heard a stunningly simplistic bit of wisdom on Sunday morning, offered by Rev. Kenneth White who was speaking at Circle of Miracles. An interfaith minister, AIDS Activist/ Educator and playwrite (I will be interviewing Kenny shortly and you will learn more about this multi-talented Renaissance Man). His style is to the point and laced with humor, so as to bring any audience to rolls of laughter and tears as he did for us on this crisp, cold Southeastern Pennsylvania day. We were warmed by his tales about the generations of his family, from his grandmother Aggie, to his wise mother who shared her beliefs in spirituality, to his grandkids who amaze him and drive him wonderfully crazy, by his admission.

So, the wisdom…he expressed that we always have the choice in any situation to:

Dress it up- embellishing the story so it is exaggerated beyond its actual boundaries. Some people feel as if they are not enough as is, so they make themselves appear to be something that they are not, out of a sense of insecurity. By dressing it up, we become inauthentic and out of integrity.

Mess it up-making the story worse than it needs to be, catastrophizing and awfulizing, with the intention of garnering sympathy, blaming, finger pointing and refraining from taking responsibility for our choices.

Bless it up-turn it over to a Higher Power, whatever that is for you. It doesn’t mean accepting abuse in any way. It is about reframing challenges into exercise equipment that strengthen us and make us more flexible.

Throughout my life, I have been in all three places. As a consummate Type A -overachiever-recovering-co-dependent whose inner critic has a field day at times and whose ‘savior behavior’ kicks in when I sense someone in need, I have come to recognize when I am about to tumble into the first two realms.  When I am temped to dress things up, I notice that ‘imposter sydrome’ has kicked in and what it takes to remedy it is to list my accomplishments that day, week, month, year and sometimes lifetime. The pull can be that strong requiring heavy duty remedy.  When messing it up rears its snarly head, I throw a brief pity party, whining in my head “how come, it’s not fair, they get to, I don’t…” When I realize that I am the only guest there, I leave, although recently my dear zen-friend Peggy has joined what she called my “poutin’ self” and gave me space to complain for a bit. Blessing it up is my true delight and I have been able to reframe even the most painful and challenging situations, turning lemons into the best  lemon merengue pie, I have ever had. Yum~

 

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