The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

It’s Who You Know


I find inspiration at all times of day or night and in all circumstances. Lately, it has arrived, special delivery while I am striding on the elliptical at Planet Fitness (a.k.a. The Judgment Free Zone) . Would that I dwell in that lofty place in my life outside the purple, black and yellow decor.  I am always seed planting for the next good idea for my blossoming creative crafts of writing and speaking and considering ways to spread the word about what I do, as well as what others do that I want to share with the world. I pondered what it is that connects people one to the other and what has folks wanting to do business with and be in personal relationship (friendship or romantic) with each other.  And then it came to me…we want to be around people who help us to feel good about ourselves; who we are and what we do. We want to use the services of people we trust and who we believe have our best interest at heart and who want to see us grow and move on; not dependent on them, but who offer whatever it is that they do and then encourage us to spread our wings and soar.

Not that someone else ultimately has the power to give us self esteem or take it away from us…that is an inside job. Certainly there are circumstances in which we hear something over and over again and begin to absorb it and believe it and then take it on as if it were true. In my work with abuse survivors, I see it all the time. I remind them that the only power someone or some thought has over them, is that which they grant and then we work together on ways to reclaim that power, that truly belongs to them. I have been awestruck when I witness people moving from victim to surivor to thriver mode in their lives. I define a thriver as someone who has overcome their pain and challenges, while acknowledging that the original incident(s) occurred, learned and grown from them and now reaches out to support others on their healing journey, paying it forward.

I know that I much prefer to be in the presence of people with whom I can be the best me possible; those who support my stretching and shining. I choose to be that for others as well, partly because I know it feels so good to bask in the love, that I want to shower it and scatter it too. There was a time in my life when I allowed for toxic interactions with people simply because I had the erroneous belief that I had to let everyone in who knocked at my heart. It took awhile, but then I recognized that I can say no if someone’s expectations don’t match with my willingness to fulfill them. We all have that right and it takes practice to exercise it.  My barometer is that when being in someone’s energy brings out the worst in me; angry, fearful, hiding my light so as not to ‘make them uncomfortable’, taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings’… nauseum, the whole co-dependent dance that I did habitually, I look at what it is I need to change; thank them (even if silently) for stirring it up and then choose not to repeat the interaction and walk away from the relationship if need be. If being with someone brings out the best in me; loving, clear, productive, compassionate, free to create, then I choose to spend more time with them, co-creating wonder. As I do both, I find that I attract even more amazing people into my life. I marvel when I consider that there were some people who weren’t even on my radar a year ago and now they so enchant me.

Tuesday night found me in the presence of women who matched the  second scenario. Sherryl Frauenglass and Dr. Julie Krull came to my home as the  ”Official Tour Correspondents” for the Awesome Women Hub tour. They call their great adventure “Let it Shine” With Sherryl and Dr. Julie and have affectionately nicknamed their Road Trip, the “Let It Shine Road Trip”.  We had become facebook friends over the past few months and when I heard about the road trip, I asked if they were going to be in the Philly area. Turns out they were and in less than a week, we had gathered together 15 women ranging from their 20′s-50′s…some of us old enough to be mothers to each other. I gazed around my living room in awe as the ‘conversation’, as Julie and Sherryl continued to refer to it, flowed. One by one, we shared our stories of love and loss, of empowerment and triumph and ideas for healing what is not working so well on the planet. These were all women who walk the talk, not just wax wistfully philosophical.  We spoke about the paradigm shift that is taking place between women and between men and women. For far too long, women have felt mistrustful and competitive with each other, believing in a scarcity model. I would sadly hear women say that they didn’t trust other women and to that I would suggest that perhaps it was because they didn’t truly trust themselves. I am delighted to be part of overlapping circles of women who support each other in success, knowing that a rising tide lifts all boats. I also find myself saying “I’ll have what she’s having.” when I notice someone doing what I would love to do.  Men are supporting women in being at our resilient best as well, as we are encouraging them to live fully human, not limiting themselves in emotional expression because they have been taught to stifle their gentler side. ‘Real’  men feel and heal.  ‘Real’ men cry and acknowlege vulnerability. ‘Real’ women lead.  Awesome men like Jeff Brown, Gay Hendricks and Arjuna Ardagh are at the forefront of upliftment of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine.

It reminds me of a few lines in a poem by Judy Chicago:

And then all that has divided us will merge

“And then compassion will be wedded to power

And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind

And then both men and women will be gentle

And then both women and men will be strong”

Some of us have known each other awhile, while others were ‘strangers’ when they walked through my front door, becoming family of choice a few hours later, laughing, smiling and hugging our farewells. Julie and Sherryl are putting together a project called  Documenting Women On The Leading Edge of Change and I am so eager to see the outcome. I will keep you updated.

I love the concept that we are the average of the ten people with whom we spend our time. Think about the folks with whom you hang out. Are they positive, happy, successful people (not just monetarily)? Are they cranky, grumpy, critical, pessimistic? When you leave their presence, are you glowing or d0 you feel like taking a shower because you’ve just been slimed? The next step is to decide whether you want to continue in that pattern or if you want to step outside of it and make a change. Releasing old relationships isn’t always easy and sometimes brings pain, but consider how long you choose (and yes, it is a choice) to subject yourself to that which no longer serves. Are you willing to be inspired and uplifted or are you reconciling yourself to feeling limited and stuck? I am blessed to be surrounded by inspiring women and men who help me to shine my light out into the world. It didn’t happen overnight and it did come at the cost of my limiting beliefs and fears falling away and it did mean letting go of relationships that were more hurtful than healing. Cutting away dead vines and weeds from a plant helps it to grow. So too, is it with people.  It doesn’t serve you or them to keep on the hamster wheel of the same day after day negative interaction out of obligation or habit.

I  have a long time friend who would begin our phone conversations with telling me about all of the challenges he was facing. This went on for months and I would listen and be as supportive as I could, all the while, feeling frustrated for him and it would bring out my co-dependent caregiver instincts. Finally, I said to him:  “The next time we talk, I would like the first words you say to be about one good thing that is happening in your life. Then, if you want to tell me other stuff; go for it.” Of course, once he acknowledged one good thing, more followed.  His life did a 180 in a short period of time. Yes, he (like all of us) still faces challenge and change. The difference is that it happens less often and he has more of what he wants in his life; asks for it and receives it. How cool is that?

I invite you to bring to mind the names and faces of those ten people with whom you spend most of your time; family, friends and colleagues. Consider if being around them helps you to be at your best. If not, can those relationships be adapted in any way?  Not that you have the power to change them; simply the power and responsibility to change your interactions with them.

Remember, it’s not just what you know, but who you know…

Gratitude Dance


Ever have a challenge getting your juices flowing in the morning?  No, I don’t mean orange, apple or cranberry. I’m referring to the get up and go that has you leaping out of bed and into a new day, full of  ‘vim, vigor and vitality’; ready to take on whatever the day brings. Just typing those words, I can feel my heart racing a bit, with excitement and anticipation. Taking a deep breath, visualizing a spectacular 24 hours.

But what if, even though, as it is here at the moment, the sun is brilliantly beaming its wake up call through your curtains, your own glow-meter is a heading toward empty and you are thinking…”Uggghhh, another day.”?  I have a wonderful remedy for you. You’ve only heard it a million times before and perhaps have even indulged its fat free, calorie free, cholesterol free deliciousity. It’s called GRATITUDE~   The more I focus on what it is that already exists in my life for which I am grateful, the more that shows up. Simple as that. When I have been in lack and limitation mode, more of nothing shows up.  I have sometimes been able to do a real quick course correction, so as not to continue down that path. I know too, that gratitude costs me…my fears, ingrained beliefs, unhealthy habits and growling gremlins that wag their gnarly fingers at me, warning me not to be too happy. It’s then that I dance with my gremlins; leaping and hopping reggae style right along with them. They stare at me incredulously and then can’t help but dance along.

So, to jump start your day, The Grati-Dudes offer you an oppotunity to silly up, delightfully dancing your way into the next 24 hours~

Presence and Essence


Part two Solstice weekend…. I returned to Happy Tree Farm to participate in a service officiated by a sister Rev. named Mirabai Galashan; a chaplain who serves hospice patients and their families, as well as offers spiritual services and presentations. Her soft and elegant style welcomed us under the tent next to the magical lake I spoke of in Monday’s Bliss Blog entry. The focus of the service/celebration was honoring those who have passed over to whatever it is that awaits us. She asked us to recall those we love and what gifts their lives have offered and each of us was to take a rose and select a petal to be strung onto a string tied to balloons that would be set aloft. She invited me to share my Mom Miracle stories that emerged in the past year when our hospice journey began last May and ended when she took her last corporeal breath the day after Thanksgiving. Both of my parents are very much present in my day to day. A solitary butterfly swooped and dove around me as I spoke. Before my mother died, she told me she would come back as a butterfly which is a magnficent symbol of renewal and rebirth. I allowed for the tears to flow today and felt much peace in the surrender. Stephen also spoke about our presence and essence, all that we are, where we came from and to whence we will return.

Mirabai read this poem that I share with you:

My Dearest Family
Some things I’d like to say, but first of all to let you know that I arrived okay
I’m writing this from Heaven where I dwell with God above where there’s no more tears or sadness there is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I’m out of sight remember that I’m with you every morning, noon and night
That day I had to leave you when my life on Earth was through
God picked me up and hugged me and He said I welcome you
It’s good to have you back again you were missed while you were gone as for your dearest family they’ll be here later on
I need you here so badly as part of My big plan there’s so much that we have to do to help our mortal man
Then God gave me a list of things He wished for me to do and foremost on that list of mine is to watch and care for you
And I will be beside you every day and week and year and when you’re sad I’m standing there to wipe away the tear
And when you lie in bed at night the days chores put to flight God and I are closest to you in the middle of the night
When you think of my life on Earth and all those loving years because you’re only human they are bound to bring you tears
But do not be afraid to cry it does relieve the pain remember there would be no flowers unless there was some rain
I wish that I could tell you of all that God has planned but if I were to tell you you wouldn’t understand
But one thing is for certain though my life on Earth is o’er
I am closer to you now than I ever was before
And to my very many friends trust God knows what is best
I’m still not far away from you I’m just beyond the crest
There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb but together we can do it taking one day at a time
It was always my philosophy and I’d like it for you too that as you give unto the World so the World will give to you
If you can help somebody who is in sorrow or in pain then you can say to God at night my day was not in vain
And now I am contented that my life it was worthwhile knowing as I passed along the way I made somebody smile
So if you meet somebody who is down and feeling low just lend a hand to pick him up as on your way you go
When you are walking down the street and you’ve got me on your mind I’m walking in your footsteps only half a step behind
And when you feel the gentle breeze or the wind upon your face that’s me giving you a great big hug or just a soft embrace
And when it’s time for you to go from that body to be free remember you’re not going you are coming here to me
And I will always love you from that land way up above
Will be in touch again soon
P.S. God sends His Love  Unknown (my favorite author…second only to Anonymous:)

An offering of song came from Elaina who I met yesterday in the yoga class under the trees.

From: New Non-Fiction (2001)
Copyright © Susan Werner

May I suggest
May I suggest to you
May I suggest this is the best part of your life
May I suggest
This time is blessed for you
This time is blessed and shining almost blinding bright
Just turn your head
And you’ll begin to see
The thousand reasons that were just beyond your sight
The reasons why
Why I suggest to you
Why I suggest this is the best part of your life

There is a world
That’s been addressed to you
Addressed to you, intended only for your eyes
A secret world
Like a treasure chest to you
Of private scenes and brilliant dreams that mesmerise
A lover’s trusting smile
A tiny baby’s hands
The million stars that fill the turning sky at night
Oh I suggest
Oh I suggest to you
Oh I suggest this is the best part of your life

There is a hope
That’s been expressed in you
The hope of seven generations, maybe more
And this is the faith
That they invest in you
It’s that you’ll do one better than was done before
Inside you know
Inside you understand
Inside you know what’s yours to finally set right
And I suggest
And I suggest to you
And I suggest this is the best part of your life

This is a song
Comes from the west to you
Comes from the west, comes from the slowly setting sun
With a request
With a request of you
To see how very short the endless days will run
And when they’re gone
And when the dark descends
Oh we’d give anything for one more hour of light

And I suggest this is the best part of your life

At the end of the service, we gathered in a circle and Stephen’s daughter Meurcie stood on the diving board hovering over the lake and released the pink, red and white balloons that had the pastel pink and white rose petals attached to them. Instead of rising immediately, they skirted the grass and only slightly lofted and attached themselves to the tiki torch next to the tent. Someone untangled them and away they went, rising into the sky, but remained visible for quite awhile; a poignant reminder that those we love are never very far away.

Merging With The Dream


This weekend I had the joy of celebrating the Summer Solstice a few days early, with a group of kindred spirits ranging from those in infancy to those in senior adulthood. My friends Stephen and Kathy Redding hosted an annual gathering at their home which is a glorious haven in bucolic Green Lane, PA.  Among other things, he is an arborist and his family business is called Happy Tree Farm. Indeed those woodland beings are happy is so easy to tell, because the minute I have set foot on the land, I sigh and just let go, as if being reminded by the trees and flowers to sink my roots in and reach my branches up, blossoming beautifully. It helps that in the middle of this multi-acre property is what I have come to think of as a magical lake. There is something about it, that feels qualitatively different from other bodies of water into which I have immersed myself. I had a dramatic healing experience after taking a dip last summer.

A  year ago, Memorial Day weekend, I was weedwhacking and wearing shorts, not considering that there would be a need to keep my legs covered. In a moment of unconsciousness, as my son called my name, I turned my head and didn’t take my finger off the button. The cord kept on keepin’ on and whipped its way thorough my right calf. I didn’t even notice or feel pain, until Adam called out “Mom!  What did you do?” as the blood dripped down my leg. YIKES!  I ran into the bathroom and rinsed off the remnants, offered myself Reiki and then headed to the ER where a tetanus shot was given and blessedly no stitches were needed, only clean up and patch up.  I did wound care for a few weeks, reconciling myself to the idea that the 18 lacerations would likely stick around for awhile. A few weeks later, I was invited to Stephen’s place for a relaxing swim. He told me that I would likely see an improvement in my condition after being in the water.  As I slipped into the rippling water, I could feel a tingling on my skin. I paddled about and conversed with Stephen about ‘life, the universe and everything.’, which happens to be my favorite subject. We stood on top of submersed rounded boulders that he calls “Goddess breasts” and mused about miracles. When I got out, I noticed a distinct difference. Now, a year later, only faint scarring remains.

Today’s celebration allowed for more swimming, sun bathing and communing with nature and friends. One of the attendees is a wonderful yoga teacher named Kristen Lambert who offered a lovely class in the midst of a lush (albeit gnat swarming): field under the shade of hovering trees which swayed in time to our breathing; or perhaps we were breathed by their movements.  I had forgotten my mat, so her mother Maria Plass loaned me her blue ‘magic carpet’ which is how I think of the yoga mat which takes me on all kinds of inward journeys. Together they run Experience Nirvana which is a center in Frenchtown, NJ.

Later in the day, while we were all enjoying a potluck dinner, Stephen spoke about his spiritual learnings  that came as a result of numerous death experiences; the first at age 4 when he was flattened by a hay making machine in a field on his family farm in Gettysburg, PA. The next came at age 8 when he froze to a fence in a blizzard while walking home from school. Since then, he has been struck by lightning, been in car accidents and been stung by swarming yellow jackets. He has written two books:  Something More  and More or Less that describe what transpired when he crossed over and returned to share about it. When this university educated man who specialized in psychology, criminology and sociology speaks, I find myself listening as if in a trance. It feels like ocean waves lapping on shore, taking sand back in and then re-depositing it over and over.

I was speaking at one point with my friend Charlie Ladany, an artist whose work reflects his unique world view. He made a statement that remained with me as he was sharing his happiness about two of his pieces selling at a gallery where they were displayed.  He has been at it for a long time and he is now recognizing that the dream is not out there somewhere, but that we become it as we merge with it. Merging with the dream…mine has long been that of speaking and writing the words that the Divine whispers in my ear and whatya know…I’m doing it everyday.  What is your dream?

Later that night, I watched in awe as a fire licked the sky that burned through a year’s worth of collected fallen tree bark that took 6 hours to build into a huge tee-pee tower. The sparks leapt onto the darkened night canvas as we drummed and danced, shakin’ it with the celestial spirits; seen and unseen. As I walked back to the car, meandering on winding paths lit by tiki torches and flickering fireflies, I gave thanks for the dance and the dream.

Inviting you to dance and dream along with me~

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