This morning, my friend Shaun Stephenson sent me a message in response to an article I had written about sexuality/spirituality. I had told her that I was stretching comfort zones by exploring that realm in writing, not because I have ever been a prude when it comes to physical and emotional intimacy, but because of the environment where I had worked, I had been feeling a bit cautious about being too visible and outspoken about the topic. As a therapist/social worker, I framed my work there, in part as sex education. Since leaving the job last June, I have felt a greater sense of freedom around expressing my thoughts in all areas of my life. I still occasionally look over my shoulder to see if the ‘propriety police’ are watching to be sure I am being a ‘good girl’ and not upsetting the apple cart, making waves or stepping on anyone’s toes…the final throes of co-dependence loosening its grip.
She commented that I was exhaling, which brought to mind the ensemble cast (Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon, Gregory Hines) movie called Waiting To Exhale. For most of my life, (since I was 4 or so) I had been at the effect of asthma that had me doing just that. Mostly unconsciously, but sometimes with complete awareness, I wouldn’t let an outbreath go completely since there was a fear that I wouldn’t be able to fill back up. Such a powerful symbol for how I lived my life…not letting go totally and not allowing in fully. Getting just enough nourishment in those ways to sustain me but not always have me feeling safe and at ease. It showed up in dysfunctional relationships in which I offered excessive care so as to ‘earn my right to receive’, whether it was praise, love, attention or approval.
Later in the day, I was speaking at an event called Awaken The Love; specially timed for Valentine’s Day weekend. The room at a local Unitarian Church was packed with sweet souls who listened with rapt attention to the presenters and musicians who volunteered our time to the cause. Greg Campisi is the heart and mind behind Awaken. Fabulous musicians Annabella Wood, Ashley Blanco and Eric Labacz made our souls sing and Susan Pie’, Terrie Thomas and Greg gave us grist for the mill.
The purpose is : Assisting Humanity in reaching its fullest potential through the education, empowerment, and acceptance of ourselves and others. Awaken is a Center for Human Evolution (CHE) where individuals and groups will be guided into their brightest, highest, and most beloved selves through the education and practice of empowerment, expression, love and acceptance.
Awaken uses education as its primary tool for empowering people to know, understand, and live their greatest potential. The main catalyst used for empowerment is the expression of emotions and deepest truths within us, creating a space to accept vulnerability in ourselves and in others.
Awaken realizes the importance of helping future generations reach their full potential. This is accomplished both through working with youth, as well as helping current and future parents understand themselves and the needs and potential of their children.
Awaken is dedicated to bringing love and harmony to the hearts of all humankind through education and health. Awaken’s goals include, but are not limited to:
- Love and Acceptance of Self
- Expression of Self
- Love and Acceptance of Others
- Evolution of Mind, Body and Spirit to their full Potential
As I stood in front of the room, I felt waves of love wash over me and watched with awe at the sheer willingness of each person there to surrender their belief that they were not worthy of love. They too, it seems, were holding their breath, holding back, holding off the tidal wave of love that had headed their way throughout their lives. I invited them to allow it to flow over them and through them so that they could absorb it and then, like a sponge, ring it out on those they encountered throughout their lives.
Sandwiched in between services at Circle of Miracles earlier in the day and this event, I had another encounter that had me smiling and shaking my head in astonishment. I like to say that I am amazed, but never surprised when these things occur. I had stopped at Panera Bread for lunch and as I sat at a table next to the fireplace with my salad and bowl of black bean soup, a family (11 people in all) sat at two nearby tables. One member was the delightful white haired matriarch who noticed a book I was reading. It is called 12 Weeks to Self-Healing: Transforming Pain Through Energy Medicine, written by Candess Campbell. She asked “Oh, do you have pain?” I assured her that I didn’t and added that I was a journalist and was reviewing the book. She told me that she does experience pain and that with the guidance of Deepak Chopra’s work, she is able to reframe her thoughts and thus vanquish the pain. How cool is that? Our conversation continued and she asked me about my work. When I told her, she laughed and said “Oh, you do so many things.” She went on to share that she is 79 years old and has a 91 year old boyfriend (good for them both!) and that she wants to live to be 120. When I told her about being widowed many years ago, she asked if I had remarried. I told her I hadn’t and she winked and said, “You should snag a good man, with all that you have to offer.” I winked back and said, he would have to be able to keep up with me and be really special to beckon me out of my single life. Somehow the conversation turned to asking each other our names, she tells me it is Edith and of course I smiled and introduced myself. Edie is her nickname and my birth name. What are the chances? Only 100%. It is that certainty that life shows up in serendipitous ways that has me no longer waiting to exhale, but instead willing to exhale…..ahhhhh~
http://youtu.be/pkAhQBbK-oM Shower The People- James Taylor
Last night, I took a leap into another world of words and thoughts, feelings and flow as I launched a radio show called It’s All About Relationships, on Vivid Life Radio. It ties in so beautifully with the Bliss Blog, since it is yet another way of living my bliss full out and encouraging others to do the same. When I consider all of the overlapping soul circles and interwoven threads that led me from where I was to where I am now, I am blown away amazed. There are times when I feel as if things in my life are rolling waaaayyyyy too slowly and other times in which I feel like Fred Flinstone with his scrambling feet, trying to keep up with it all. Yabba daba doooo!
My first guest on Valentine’s night was Christine Arylo whose book Madly In Love With Me, I reviewed for Beliefnet a few months ago. In our conversation, we spoke about the pandemic of self criticism and the vital need for self love, since it fuels our every interaction, whether it be with family, friends, partners, co-workers, and the eco-system. She spoke about her ‘inner mean girl’ who had snagged her yesterday morning, ragging her with ” Oprah has a couch , Marianne Williamson can pack a room like nobodies’ business. What have you done lately?” She has been able to transform her “Mean Patty”; one of the personae into a talent scout who helps her to move forward and connect her to the right people. She shared that “Self esteem is knowing that you can do and be and have anything.” There is a difference between that and self love. “Self esteem is 1/10th of self love. Self compassion and self forgiveness is part of it.” She suggests daring acts of self love for folks to practice, saying that our inner mean girls and inner mean dudes show up when we are about to expand our lives. Boy, do I know that one. My monkey mind inner critic chattered at me throughout the day, with imposter syndrome rants, “Who are you to host this show? What if you stumble over your words and forget what you were going to say? What if there are technical snafus?” I then took a breath, ran through my checklist of what needed to be done and remembered the wise words of my friend Reid Mihalko who would remind me when I was nervous about facilitating a workshop called Cuddle Party, “Darlin’, the event will go as the event will go.” And the event went well. My intention was like that of someone who is hosting a party. When I do that, I clean the house, set up the rooms so that they are comfortable for my guests, want the environment to be warm and welcoming, make sure the food is yummy and plentiful.
This morning, I had breakfast with a formerly cyber friend who has now become a face to face friend. We say across the table at The Down To Earth Cafe in Perkasie, PA This too was a warm and welcoming place whose mission is
” to provide the best quality and freshest food possible. We support our local farms and resources whenever possible. We serve locally roasted coffee, honey, eggs, milk, maple syrup,produce, biscotti’s and plenty more. We recyle our cooking oil to be turned into bio-diesel, reuse our waste for compost and recycle anything we can. We hope you enjoy!” and enjoy I did! I indulged in an apple cider latte that tasted like a liquid apple pie and a breakfast burrito with eggs, spinach, black beans and rice and even more delightful was the conversation with Janet Vasil, director of Your Media Moment. In the few hours we spent together, we laughed knowingly as we regaled each other with stories about the joys and challenges of a journalist’s life. She has had an amazing career on tv and print media; as a reporter and news anchor, covering ‘hard news’, yet this powerful woman seems to have balanced it with a soft, compassionate, fully in integrity side; knowing who she is. These days, she is an author and ‘Media Expertizing Coach’, working with clients whose desire it is to get their message out there in the world. I could tell how passionate she is about her work; which essentially is platform and image building. We had such a blast realizing how many people we had in common.
As I am typing these words, I am in amazement that on a Friday afternoon, I am sitting at my dining room table, in front of a cut glass vase that had belonged to my parents, filled with lovely flowers, sipping peppermint tea, watching the sun stream through the windows, gazing around my living room, eyes landing on the Kwan Yin statue given to me by my son’s girlfriend as a birthday gift, breathing in the aroma of a gingerbread candle, listening to a replay of the interview, not for picking it apart, but for celebrating how far I have come. This validates my relationships….all of them, but especially that with the woman in the mirror.
Please listen in to my show each Thursday night at 8pm est on www.vividlife.me
According to the website One Billion Rising:
ONE IN THREE WOMEN ON THE PLANET WILL BE RAPED OR BEATEN IN HER LIFETIME.*
ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY
ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION
On February 14th, people the world round will dance in support of the obsolete idea that violence against women is in any way acceptable. This global event is the heart child of author, playwright, activist and one woman force of nature Eve Ensler. Best known for her play The Vagina Monologues, she brought to the stage disturbing and soul shaking truths about the ways in which women and girls have been abused, and mistreated throughout the ages. She and the various actresses who sat on stools on an otherwise bare stage, reading from the text of the play itself gave voice to those who were silenced by fear and ignorance. Fifteen years ago, Eve orchestrated V-Day to bring it to the world stage. I had the chance to meet and interview Eve a few years ago when she came to Philadelphia to offer the one woman show called The Good Body, which explores the love/hate relationship women have with their bodies, since our various cultures tell us what is acceptable in terms of appearance, rather than encouraging us to feel at home in the skin we’re in. I f0und her to be friendly, approachable and welcoming, with a sense of passion for this work, born of being a rape survivor herself.
From this solid platform, Eve has gathered around her a growing tribe of women and men who are calling out “ENOUGH!”. When you dance tomorrow, wherever you are, whether in a downtown or rural setting, in front of city hall or at Carnivale, in a gym or park or even in the privacy of your home, know that you do not dance alone and that you do not dance just for yourself, but instead for and with your sisters and brothers from all corners of the globe. As Eve shared in her you tube video below, when the sun rises in February 15th, a shift will have taken place so that we can all feel safe and free and expressed.
http://youtu.be/b5mFQiFvTCA A Message From Eve Ensler
Sisters of Providence practice a dance for the One Billion Rising event raising awareness of violence against women and girls. This particular dance was specifically choreographed for mature dancers and goes with the song “Break the Chain.” (Lyrics by Tena Clark, Music by Tena Clark/Tim Heintz)
The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Catholic sisters founded by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin in 1840.
Before the sun has peeked its late Winter’s beams from behind clouds and the stars have melted back into the black, I am offering Birthday greetings to a man who would have been 89 today. A fitting time to be tapping away as words spill forth from my grateful heart, since more times than I can count, my father was up before the crack of dawn to go to jobs that supported his family; first as a milkman (Abbotts and Milkmaid Dairies) and then as a bus driver (SEPTA in Philadelphia), through ‘streets broad and narrow’) . A blue collar working man with a high school diploma, time served in the Navy as an electricians mate, he was a life long learner who wanted to be able to converse with anyone about nearly anything from politics to science, from culture to religion. Born Morris (Moish) Harry Weinstein to Russian Jewish immigrant parents who came to the U.S. for a better life and escape the pogroms, he grew up in the multi-cultural ‘hood of South Philadelphia. Think the streets where Rocky’s pounding feet hit the ground, where women swept and hosed down the areas in front of their brownstones, where people sat on their ‘stoops’ to converse until all hours, where kids played kick the can or stick ball and the sounds of various languages and aromas filled the air.
My father loved fiercely; his parents, his two brothers and sister, his nieces (two of whom-my cousins Jody and Renee who to this day refer to him as Uncle Milky; a reference to his career path) his friends growing up, were all part of the legacy I inherited. When he met my mother at the party of a mutual friend and they ‘rose’ in love and married, her family was added to the fold; and what a big one it was (my maternal grandmother was one of 13 children) and he had many names and relationship connections (who was married to whom and whose kids were whose) to remember. My father quickly became a favorite and was considered the life of the party. Sometimes he showed up late since his working schedule was unpredictable at times, but arrive he did, often wearing his blue SEPTA uniform and was greeted with hugs and hellos and the idea that now the festivities could begin. Ironically, a few months ago, at the funeral of my cousin Ron, another cousin, Diane stood next to me as we cried and she made a comment that transformed our tears into laughter. She said “I was looking around, expecting to see your father. It wouldn’t be a party without Moish.”
When Jan and I were born, he became a devoted daddy. He wasn’t ‘the babysitter’; he didn’t ‘help my mother with the kids’, as was the norm in the 50’s-70’s. He was a fully responsible parent who changed diapers, fed, bathed, educated, played with and loved with all his heart. Interesting juxtaposition, since he raised us both as girls and kids. He expected ‘lady like’ behavior in certain settings, but encouraged rough and tumble playing; taking us sledding, skating, bicycling and kite flying. I think some of it was vicarious living, since he didn’t have some of the toys and activities we did when he was growing up. He used to listen to Yiddish music on the radio and I came to think of it as “Jewish folk music”.
Philosophically, we were at odds at times. I think I was born a tree hugging hippie and he, a bit more conservative (having grown up in an Orthodox home), but he mellowed as he grew older and was open to more liberal ideas. We argued about politics and religion mostly. At the end of each one, we would agree to disagree and he would comment as if to seal the deal “As long as we love each other.”
I could write for the rest of the day, heck, the rest of my life about my father; his deeply passionate relationship with my mother, (when she died in 2010, I found a notebook that had two sweet love notes in it, although he had written likely thousands throughout their nearly 52 year marriage) his protectiveness of his daughters, his huge gathering of friends and the ways he attracted them like a magnet, the ‘give you the shirt off his back’ generosity, his messy garage that had baby food jar collections of nuts and bolts and screws, since “You never know when you might need them.”, his blue and white striped coveralls that he would wear when digging in the dirt, planting strawberries and veggies, or sliding under the car to change the oil. When I was in college, I would come home for him to do that. Instead of going to Jiffy Lube, I would call the service he offered “Jiffy Moish”.
His connection with his Creator was immovable as well. He didn’t go to Hebrew School in his youth, since his parents couldn’t afford it, but he learned the culture and religion throughout his life and treasured it. Friday nights brought us to synagogue as a family and he and my mother were active in the congregation (Beth Torah in Willingboro, NJ). He studied and prayed fervently, each night reading from his Bible before bed, sometimes with us, sometimes on his own. He lived his faith, not just talked about it. At 52, he became a Bar Mitzvah and I have the photo in my dining room. A proud ‘kvelling’ moment for all of us.
When he passed, on April 3, 2008, I read to him from a book of prayers that I had given him years before and then placed it in the casket, since ya never know how long you might need to wait in line and a little reading material might come in handy(:
As much as we had our head butting moments in my adolescence, I treasure what I inherited by way of lifelong friendships, running into people I know wherever I go, curiousity, a get-it-done attitude, child like wonder about life, the Universe and everything, a belief that anything is possible, the importance of phsyical fitness, seeing the good in everyone, deep spiritual faith, work ethic and the ability to be silly. This “goofy kid” as he liked to call me at times, said with a lilt in his voice plans to celebrate her Daddy today, perhaps with a Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew…one his favorite treats.
http://youtu.be/6F-LqT3c-Ag Oh My Papa by Eddie Fisher