The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

With Abandon

 

Somewhere in the past ten years, I wrote a manifesto of sorts, called What I Learned About Love, as a Valentine’s Day gift to my friends. A few of the items were these:

“Love without limits begins with self love.”

“Love never dies even if the person does.”

“No one will ever love you enough to make up for you not loving yourself.”

“Love with adbandon without fear of being abandoned.”

I pull them out on occasion as a teaching tool for workshops and to remind myself how I choose to live. This being human brings with it ample opportunity for that refresher course. How often do we encounter situations in which we hide our light, our passions, or dreams so as to ‘protect’ ourselves?  This past week, I gave myself the gift of that message, as it came through my friend Arlene Curley. I am going to be teaching at the center that she and her husband Jim steward in beautiful Bucks County, PA called Greenshire Arts Consortium. As we were putting together the promo material, I sent her the delightful photo that my friend Cindy Greb had taken for my book jacket. I am playfully peeking out from behind an ancient tree in my friend Durwood’s yard, butterfly wings tipping out. My leg is extended behind me as if I am ready to take off.  I thought that it represented the free flight on which I was embarking. When Arlene looked at it, she asked: “Do you want you standing behind the tree? Or do you have a full-forward face – presenting your entire self to the world!”  Gulp. Being a highly intuitive woman, it seemed that Arlene was able to see into my soul as she also encouraged revising my bio. As a career journalist, I have had the honor of interviewing notables in the fields of transformation, medicine, entertainment, the arts, politics and peace. I had always included their names as if somehow THEY gave me credibility. Arlene reminded me that my experience was sufficient and that I was incorporating what I had learned from  hundreds of encounters in the past 24 years and THAT was affirmation enough. WHEW!

I believe in the maxim “We teach what we need to learn.” and this is certainly a life lesson for me as I encourge people to come out, come out wherever they are and show their beautiful faces to the world.  Although I am doing so more readily, there are times when I retreat to the safety of the tree. Being public means being vulnerable. When I interview folks, I take the moral high road and don’t share information about them that is tabloid-esque. I recall interviewing Nell Newman who is the daughter of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. She and her proud papa had just founded Newman’s Own Organics. She laughingly told me a story about something that happened in their home. I felt it was a bit too private a glance into their lives and I asked her if she was sure she wanted that in the article. She thanked me and it never went in. I desire that same respect for my work and my life.  I do want to be fully seen and known for who I am, realizing that being on the ‘big stage of life’ brings with it people’s interpretation of who I am. I endeavor to be low maintenance, easy to work with, open and receptive in all areas of my life.

I grew up in a family in which expressions of love were everywhere. My wise parents knew that there was always enough to go around and that by sharing it generously, it would grow. As a result, they had many friends. That sense of abundance has served me throughout my life and yet, there are times when I have felt embarressed by effusive expression of love winging back at me. My friend Deremiah *CPE  used the term The Law Of Reciprocity last week; the idea that what we put out into the world, returns to us, like a boomerang. My father called it “One hand washes the other.”  Although the idea isn’t ‘give to get’, but when we offer our gifts and talents to the world, it can’t help but return to us, perhaps not directly from the person to whom we have given, but most certainly from the true Source.

What is that you are called on to do with abandon?  I choose to do most things that way. One of my favorite shows was Northern Exposure; this quirky, creatively genius series about ‘life, the universe and everything’, explored relationships, physics and metaphysics, life and death, light and dark, fantasy and fear. I was perusing old episodes last night and re-disovered this clip….I invite you to dance with abandon and may that offer you the courage to live the other aspects of your life in that glorious way…

http://youtu.be/Lx3NN_AFV5E  Dance With Abandon from Northern Exposure

From Oy-full to Joyful

 

Ever have a time in your life when it felt like the deck was stacked against you, the winds of change were blowing you hither and yon, and you were stuck in second gear and revving your engine? If you are human (and if you are reading this, I am guessing that you are:) then you can answer yes to these questions. I know that I certainly have been there, done that, got the t-shirt. The good news is that I got through every one of them and so did you, because you are here to talk about it.  It’s easy to remain entrenched in habitual happenings, but infinitely more rewarding to disengage yourself from the bonds of the mantra of ‘that’s the way things have always been,’ and step into infinite possibility of how things could be.

Tonight I facilitated a workshop called Yoga Off The Mat at a beautiful yoga studio in Harleysville, PA , called Anahata. That is the sanskrit word for the heart chakra.

According to author Anodea Judith:

“The heart chakra is related to the element air and the quality of love. Air is  formless, largely invisible, absolutely necessary, and the least dense of our first four elements. Air is expansive as it will expand to fit any space it is put into, yet it is soft and gentle.

So, too, is love. Love is the expansion of the heart, the transcendence of boundaries, the interconnectedness of spirit. Love is balance, ease, softness, forgiveness. And love at the heart chakra is felt as a state of being, existing independently of any object or person.

The Sanskrit name for this chakra is Anahata, which means “sound that is made without any two things striking.” This describes a state where we are no longer fighting or confronting what we love but moving with it in graceful harmony.”

This was the perfect setting for the conversation (both verbal and non-verbal) that took place among those of us gathered in a room that flowed with peace and grace, carried in by the women who sat in a circle, some on cushions, blankets and yoga mats, some in folding chairs. I was moved by the collective wisdom there; these mothers and daughters, teachers and students, healers and BE-ers.  I learned so much from them about what it means to be fully alive; humanly divine and divinely human. Laughter and tears flowed…to me, the mark of a sense of safety in the room. They shared their ‘oys and joys’. One of my favorite exercises is what I call The Oy Vey Stretch in which you stand, inhale and do a forward bend and as you exhale, you let out the relatively tame Yiddish expletive ‘oy’.  Then you slowly, one vertebrae at a time, stand. The next round has you letting out an ‘oy vey'; upping the ante as it were. And finally, you release an ‘oy vey iz mir’, in full kvetch (complaint mode). What resulted, as it always does, were gales of laughter. Amazing how quickly we can transform our emotional state with a good belly laugh.

So, what ‘oys’ are you willing to release and what ‘joys’ are you willing to call in? The choice, as always, is yours. Know that you get to live in the light of love, heart chakra open as widely as you allow.

 

http://youtu.be/wCT4LnWRg1k In The Light of Love by Deva Premal and Miten with Manose

Wonderful

 

Music feeds my soul, as I have said here many times. It’s a delicious combination of rhythm and rhyme, harmony and lyrics that reach inner nooks and crannies and send my soul soaring. One of the best places to listen is in my Jeep as the accoustics seem perfect to allow me to sing along with my enthusiastic, if not formally trained, voice. My favorite radio station is Philly based University of Pennsylvania’s WXPN 88.5 fm. It is where I have been introduced to the musicians who are now receiving main stream acceptance. One group is My Morning Jacket, whose song called Wonderful The Way I Feel is among my those that delight the ears of my heart. Yesterday morning, on the drive into work, I found myself immersed in the lyrics and endeavoring to figure out what they meant. The soothing voice of front man Jim James (who jokingly calls himself Yim Yames:) cascaded along the ceiling and walls of my magic machine as it tooled along.

It matters to me
Took a long time to get here
If it would have been easy
I would not have cared

Like a tropical forest
Like a cop on the beat
When all is order
You get lost in the heat

I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel

Doesn’t matter to me
I could take it or leave it
I could learn from way back when
And still live right now

With the sun on my shoulder
And the wind in my back
I will never grow older
At least not in my mind

I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
So wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel

I’m going where there ain’t no fear
I’m going where the spirit is near
I’m going where the living is easy
And the people are kind
A new state of mind

I’m going where there ain’t no police
I’m going where there ain’t no disease
I’m going where there ain’t no need
To escape from what is
Only spirits at ease

I  meandered back and forth between thinking that it was a life after death song and a treatise on living completely in the here and now wonder of each precious moment. I imagine that I am called upon each day to experience that new state of mind in which I can be at peace, regardless of what is happening around me. Today was just like every other day in which I awoke in my comfy bed, peeling back new powder blue flannel sheets that I had gotten to usher in the new year. I prepared for a typical day of writing for an hour or so and then heading to my full time job as a social worker, serving people who sometimes struggle with believing these lyrics. Many of them are convinced that people are unkind and that a new state of mind is a near impossibility, given their histories. My role, among many, is to show them that indeed another way does exist. I have witnessed many people in my life who have been able to reframe their experiences, regardless of how painful they may have been. After work, came grocery shopping, dinner and then to the gym for my ‘playout’. On the surface, nothing exceptional and yet, as I wind down my day and prepare for restorative sleep, I can, with all certainty, declare that I feel wonderful.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFyelklEanQ   Wonderful The Way I Feel by My Morning Jacket

www.xpn.org

Wake Up Call

 

Each morning before lifting my head from the pillow and crawling out from beneath cozy covers, these words run through my mind:

“Modeh Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai Vekayam Shehechezarta Be Nishmati Bechemla; Rabba Emunatecha.

I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.”

It is a Hebrew prayer called Modeh Ani and I have been saying it for much of my life. I grew up in a spiritually rich Jewish home in which we practiced what I think of as ‘hands on Judaism’, not just synagogue on Friday nights, but lighting the candles with my parents before services. Not just High Holiday attendance, but living the concepts in our home and community.  My parents role modeled volunteerism that I follow to this day, as does my son. Although my father worked long hours, when he was called to participate in a minyan ( a group of 10 needed to say certain prayers, such as when sitting shiva after someone has died), he was there without hesitation, because he knew it was a mitzvah (good deed) and because he knew he was providing comfort and support to fellow congregants. I remember when people showed up for me in that role when my husband and both my parents passed.

Each night before bed, my sister Jan and I recited the signature prayer called The Shema

Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear,
Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Barukh sheim k’vod malkhuto l’olam
va’ed
.
Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.

 

At an early age, we knew the comfort of being tucked in to these words. Our parents would say them with us and even on nights when they would go out, any babysitter who watched us would hear our prayers. Those who were Jewish would say them with us, those who weren’t would simply listen. These were a foundation for the ways in which I live now and they link me one generation to the next. They also help my parents feel sublimely present.

http://youtu.be/Hq6hYBn_UYs Modeh Ani

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