The Bliss Blog

Prayer is a moment to moment practice for me, since I have come to sense that it is related to thought. What if prayer wasn’t something that only or primarily occurs in a structure such as a church, synagogue, temple or mosque?  When I was a student at The New Seminary in NYC, I wrote a paper called Prayer Is Portable and the focus was on the idea that it is as everpresent as the air we breathe. Many people consider prayer intercessionary; asking for something that on some level, they are unsure will happen, uncertain that they even deserve. What if we could turn it into something for which we could be grateful even before it arrives on our ‘doorstep’? In this moment, I am waiting for my car to be serviced and I am grateful that it will be happy, healthy and road worthy for the price I was quoted.  This afternoon, my HVAC professional is coming to my ‘chilly in Philly/brrr in Bucks County’ house to get the heater back on track for a reasonable fee and that I will be cozy tonight as the snow will be wafting down.  For that, I give thanks in advance, seeing it, hearing it, knowing it. I set intention for easy flowing writing this afternoon, smooth sailing with putting the finishing touches on a class I am teaching on Monday, organizing my house to accomodate the various facets of my work/play.

I am a consistent seedplanter in my personal and professional lives. Many’s the time, I have requested certain outcomes and have been both delighted and disappointed, wondering why  people haven’t made the choices I would want them to since, after all, I in my infinite wisdom know what is best for everyone. Then I remember spiritual powerhouse Michael Beckwith’s voice ringing through the majestic, high ceilinged Tindley Temple in Philadelphia back in 2009 when he and his divinely diva-listically talented wife Rickie Byars Beckwith came in via Common Ground Fellowship. He encouraged us to accept that “God’s delays are not God’s denials.”  This, while it is comforting, is still frustrating for this gotta get it done, overachiever. I contemplate the myriad miracles that have come my way, when I trust in Divine Timing. Sure, I want what I want when I want it  and sometimes the gift comes with the reassurrance that the Highest Good will prevail, despite appearances at the time. In the last few months of her life, my mother would express what I called her Que Sera Sera attitude as she would say “What will be, will be, babycakes.” I think she found comfort in the acceptance of what is, rather than having to do anything. I am learning that as well, despite my best efforts to cling to tried and true, if not always soul satisfying behaviors and attitudes.

I have found that prayers are always answered, perhaps not always as I would have had them be at the moment, but have yielded treasure beyond measure. We Let It Be by Rickie Byars Beckwith


There isn’t a person on the planet who has escaped loss, challenge and change, since it is the nature of human existence. Nothing stays the same, impermanence is the name of the game. The question is “how do we face it?” Is it with grace and grit or whining and worrying? If we are conditioned with a particular mindset, then it is up to us to decide if we want to maintain it if it is serving us, or shift it if isn’t. There are three perspectives from which to view the world and its occurrences:

Victim- Feeling as if we are being ‘done to’; at the mercy of someone elses’ choices and behaviors. Blame and shame is the name of that particular game. While it is so, that there are some circumstances in which someone in power causes harm to those who are weaker and more vulnerable (such as child abuse), it is when a person recognizes that they have the power to change their circumstances and their beliefs, that they are able to transcend their victimhood.

Survivor:  Characterized by a willingness to take that step away from limiting perspective; changing the story that may have had someone succumbing to their fears of how life ‘has to be the way it’s always been’ because that’s all they’ve known. Accompanying it is a sense that they are triumphing and moving forward. Taking responsibility for their feelings and perceptions. Often, I equate survivors with the flexibility of a willow tree that bends in the wind, rather than simply standing solid like an oak tree. I have physically witnessed a 50-60 foot tall oak tree topple in the midst of gusts, while surrounding willows remained when the tempest subsided.

Thriver: A winner’s perspective is a hallmark of this stage of evolution. Exhiliration that is contagious; since it is noticeable in the demeanor of this resilient one. They are able to gaze back and see how far they have come. Reaching out to others who may need encouragement and guiding them along feeds the collective soup pot of existence.  Bill W. and Dr. Bob who established AA and Alex Scott (Alex’s Lemonade) are examples of such powerhouses who took misfortune and transmuted it into magic. Think about the numbers of people positively impacted by their decisions to step beyond victimhood.

I saw this term ‘rebel thriver’ on Facebook this morning and it so resonated with my intention to rebel against anything that holds my heart and soul hostage, including my old worn out beliefs that I can’t have what I want in my life. Although I am generally an opti-mystic who sees the world through the eyes of possibility, there are times when the black out curtains come down and I am sitting in a dark room that has me stumbling around, feeling my way through the shadows. I wonder what it is that has me facing these gremlins that sometimes howl their ‘not good enough’ litany. It is in coming up smack dab against them that has me stretching my resiliency muscles and exhibiting gracefully flowing willow-ways. Rebel Thriver  Resilience by Thomas Newman

Toshiro Kanamori



“Let people live in your heart. When people really listen, they live in your heart forever.”-Toshiro Kanamori

What difference can one man make in the lives of so many? This morning, while watching a  portion of a video of a remarkable elementary school teacher  in Japan, I was reminded of a vibrant truth; that with love and compassion, full presence and guidance, empathy can be cultivated among children. Toshiro Kanamori is the 4th grade instructor who tells them that the purpose of this year’s work is “how to live a happy life, how to care for other people.” In the opening scene, the children are cheering, clapping and hugging him. This documentary called Children Full of Life explains a class assignment in which each day, three of the children share the feelings expressed in their daily notebook writings. One day, a classmate returns following the death of his grandmother. He reads his story of her passing and cremation. As he does so, his friends are moved to tears by his vulnerability and invite them to share their own tales of loss and pain, including that of a girl whose father died when she was three. She has, according to the narrator, been “holding down her memories for more than half her life. She had been afraid to talk about her father. She didn’t want to seem different. She paid a price.” My. Kanamori created an environment in which she was able to free herself. While comforting her, he also praised the young man who read from his journal since it gave her the courage to express her repressed emotions. Remarkably, he held space for the entire class to feel. He also seemed to know how to ‘close them back up’ in what might have felt like emotional surgery. I have seen a precious few workshop facilitators who teach adults these concepts exhibit the ability to do so.

I appreciated the emphasis on learning from life events, such as the death of loved ones as well as the importance of  expression of  a full range of human experience in the written and spoken form.  What touched me most of all,were the ways in which the children bonded over their mutual joys and sorrows. Imagine the ripple effect that this will have in their lives and that of those with whom they relate. This film was released in 2003 and these students are now 19 or 20 years old; young men and women out in the working world or in college. In the interceding decade, they will have faced challenges and triumphs. I am certain that with the influence of their beloved teacher, they will more than likely have blossomed into remarkable adults.




I Will Not Die An Unlived Life
by Dawna Markova
 I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
 to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
 I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, a
nd that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
While meandering through this day, after seeing clients and doing some writing, I came upon this poem that I have read countless times, but today, in particular, it leapt out at me from my computer screen, beckoning to be shared with you. In the newly blossomed year, I have become increasingly courageous, facing fears, flying, falling, catching on emotional and spiritual fire; not burning to a crisp, but alight with ideas and inspiration. I have allowed day to day living to open me to more love than I ever imagined. Sometimes the openings had me torn asunder, the broken places cracking me to my core so that I could rebuild. Never in a million years had I figured my life as it is now. Married at 28, mothering at 30, widowed at 40, orphaned at 52, career adaptations and shifts by the millisecond, it seems. Called on to shift gears and perceptions, depending on who is before me. Today it is those clients recovering from addictions that they are now facing with their own particular brand of courage; some loving their recovery and the spiritual practice it engenders, treating it like a Beloved, and one who I joked with was just ‘dating’ his recovery and getting to know it, since it so new to him.
We spoke about the God moments we have, during which we are certain that we are tapped in to the Source that created and sustains us. We pondered the nature of God, (in 12 step referred to as “The God of our understanding”) and for me that shifts many times a day. I don’t consider myself a religious person, but rather a spiritual person who lets my words and actions speak for me and my beliefs. I have no desire to convince anyone that my way is right for anyone but myself. I am in awareness of God-essence most of the time. One of my clients asked today why it is that we forget. Spiritual amnesia is what I call it. I am brought back to mindfulness by people, nature, music, inspiration from many sources. Today, laughter was part of my luscious living experience as co-workers and I were cracking up over, who knows what?  We just felt a need to be silly in the midst of the vicarious stress we experience when sitting with clients who share their stories with us in session.
My luscious life includes dancing and making music with friends, playing with 2 year old Collin  (my son’s girlfriend’s little one) dressed in flannel Mickey Mouse p.j’s this morning before leaving for the office, writing these words, planning my radio show, playouts at the gym, creating miracles at the speed of thought.
I welcome the fruits of such experience…..crunch…..slurp….
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