The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Zen Hands


I wrote this entry on my facebook page recently and it must have resonated with folks, since many responded with support and encouragement.


“Confession time(:  Realizing more fully how much energy it takes to be ON so much of the time; in high performance Tigger mode at my day job in a psychiatric hospital, my writing and speaking, promotion, regular workouts, being an emotional cheerleader by inclination. Feeling wiped at the moment, needing something restorative this weekend. Giving myself permission to feel whatever, instead of smiling all the time, when I don’t feel like it. I tell myself that pissing and moaning over what doesn’t feel so good, is a waste of time and energy and not a whole lotta fun. And yet…if I am fully human, then comes with the package…what we resist persists ?”


As a veteran caregiver, zoomer, type A, Wonder Woman, helium handed helper whose ‘savior behavior’ gets way out of control at times, I need some off duty ‘me time.’ With an unusually nothing scheduled weekend, I find myself sitting at my favorite gathering spot in suburban Philly, beautiful Bucks County, Doylestown, PA, called The Zen Den. Comfortably ensconced on a cushy sofy, backed up by pillows, facing a dormant fireplace, topped by a trickling water over stone fountain, I am in zen zone emotionally as well. One of my favorite delights; soy chai latte settled on the rough hewn wood bench/coffee table in front of me, I was just serenaded by Elton John ….Bennie and The Jets and before that, David Gates and Bread… Baby I’m A Want You; both harkening back to my teen years.


For the moment at least, my mind is not spinning out of control contemplating my growing list of things to get accomplished….passport details for a trip to Canada this summer, scheduling and promo for ongoing book tour events, a radio show to plan and host, weddings to officiate, cleaning to do, gardening to engage in….. I can just allow them to roll on past me, like leaves atop a flowing creek.

As I am typing these words,  the song I Can See Clearly is now permeating the airwaves. These zen hands that have gotten accustomed to taking care of so much, are, for the moment, taking care of me. I Can See Clearly  Jimmy Cliff

Advertisement David Gates and Bread… Baby I’m A Want You Bennie and The Jets by Elton John




Sacred Artists

What does it mean to be an artist?  For some, the image of paint splattered hands and canvas comes to mind, hours spent holding a brush whose job it is to take ideas from the mind of the one in whose fingers it is grasped and translate it to visual input. For others, it echoes with the sound of resplendent and transcendent sound waves that waft over air currents. And yet, for others, it is about tappings and typings, scratchings and scrawls on paper.

I have long surrounded myself with creative types, since I find that they experience richer, juicier lives; sometimes in their heads, sometimes out in the world. A rich inner life can translate magically to a gorgeous outer life. The energy is palpable and contagious. These folks are not ‘starving artists’, but are, as my friend Ruthanne Wood claims for herself and those she attracts; ‘thriving artists’.  They (and I see myself as one of them) observe the world with a child’s imagination and through the eyes of awe and wonder. “How can I translate this into a message for the viewer/listener/reader?” is often the motivation. It certainly is for this wordsmith who paints word pictures. I had not ever seen myself as a graphic artist, although my talented son is. He is able to pull ideas out of his vivid imagination and draw Japanese anime characters, flowers, animals and last year sketched a fashion design for an outfit he thought I oughta be wearing. A creative cook with an eye toward culinary school, his pastries are a work of art as well.


In March, I spent a few relaxing days with friends in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. One of our Goddess Sistahs is artist and art teacher Liz Wright, who led us in creating mandala drawings. She provided us with small pieces of colored cardboard, a drawing compass, a ruler and colored pencils and markers. We were then left to allow our imaginations to run wild….and that they did. I am used to coloring outside the lines in most areas of my life, but in this case, the initial structure was linear and then circular and then free form; an apt way to view our existence. All are important components. I was pleased with the results which was coincidentally matched the colors I was wearing that day.


These folks have their own ideas of what art is:

A painting that is well composed is half finished. Pierre Bonnard
A picture is a poem without words. Horace
A picture is worth a thousand words. Napoleon Bonaparte
A sculptor is a person who is interested in the shape of things, a poet in words, a musician by sounds. Henry Moore
A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Oscar Wilde
All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. Pablo Picasso
What makes art a sacred endeavor? I see it as a way of translating God-inspired ideas, as the Divine whispers in our waiting ears. It is our choice whether we choose to listen and respond.  A few years ago, either in dream or meditation…I don’t recall which, I heard a voice say the words ‘by divine design’.  “What does that mean?”, I queried.  The answer I received was “You’ll know.” I came to understand that it was to be the name of my business, since I fully accept that we live our lives as co-creations of the Divine.
What sacred art will you bring forth today? Are you willing to be a paintbrush held in the ‘hand’ of the Divine?  Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) by Don McLean


Waiting On The Pizza


A few years ago, I was having lunch with my friend Harmony. We were musing over a long time pattern in my life that goes something like this:  I set an intention, do a whole bunch of work, scramble around, and then get tired and frustrated and sometimes resentful that the outcome just isn’t coming around quickly enough to suit me.

Her smiling response was something to the tune of, “If you call in to order a pizza, you’re not going to phone them back  in 5 minutes to ask why your pizza isn’t ready yet.” Regardless of how much I want the pizza to show up even before I ask for it, it’s just not gonna. I need to set the intention, by knowing I want it, take the time to pick up the phone and request it (spinach and broccoli, please) and then ever so patiently wait until I walk up to the counter, pay the person, and voila!  I am in pizza heaven~ No difference in the brick oven world of manna-festing my heart’s desires. To the Universe, the equivalent of the 20 minute turn around time for hot, bubbly ooey gooey cheese, sauce and veggies could be years in the making. It took 20 years to cosmically arrange the interview with the Dalai Lama. It is about doing the dough rolling, tossing, stretching, spooning, sprinkling and scattering the other assorted ingredients before placing the unfinished product in the oven to bake. Maybe that is part of the challenge as well. While I am doing the action pieces, I feel a sense of accomplishment, like I’m engaged in something meaningful. It is when I step back and let the baking-heat do its work and the pizza is out of sight, I feel that sense of powerlessness and my ‘creation’ is in the metaphorical hands of another force. No difference between that experience and letting go of attachment to when something comes to fruition in my life. Seems also to be about several pizzas in the works at once, so that while one is baking, the others  are in production stage.


While we are on a food kick, there another metaphor I used recently in a counseling session. The person sitting in front of me was having major issues with knowing what he wanted in life. I asked him about his favorite dessert and his response was “chocolate cheesecake.” I felt a sense of yum moving through me since chocolate happens to be my drug of choice.. I inquired if he knew the ingredients in the decadent delight. He did and then rattled them off. I then added that he wouldn’t likely put spaghetti sauce on the cheesecake, no matter how much he might like it on other foods. He laughed and said “Guess not.” Just as he clearly knew what he wanted and did not want in terms of  therapeutic treatment, so too would he benefit from setting a clear deliniation between which attitudes, beliefs and behaviors serve him and which didn’t. Whenever he would lapse into worn out mind mechanics, we used those two words as a reminder to slow down and breathe and know that he will have the patience to wait for his own metaphorical cheescake, sans sauce.


There are times when I blend ingredients in my own symbolic culinary creations that are not compatible and give the Head Chef mixed messages. I may say I want one thing, but brewing beneath the surface is a belief that I’m not worthy of receiving what it is I say I want or that it will never happen or that someone else who is experiencing whatever it might be, has some secret in with the maitre’ d that I don’t have. If I put an order in with the server who is patiently waiting, pen in hand and don’t ask for what I want, fully expecting that I will receive it, he or she can’t possibly deliver it.

So, for today, I will peruse the expansive menu, choose from column A and B, place my order with the kitchen from which all manner of delights emit wondrously wafting aromas and ease back, enjoying the ambience and the company that sits around the table with me as I wait for the glorious creations to arrive.


Mangia!  I Am A Pizza by Charlotte Diamond


Sing Me Your Story

Being a voracious reader likely from birth, weaned on fairy tales, in a home where music wafted through the air,  the CD called Sing Me Your Story offered with glee by husband and wife childrens’  edu-tainment team Two Of A Kind (David and Jenny Heitler-Klevans) fed my soul from first listen. It contains 17 sing-along-able songs to enlighten and inspire a multi-generational audience.

The CD begins with the scene setting One World, Many Stories . It was penned for a library summer reading project, inspiring young readers to immerse themselves in the wonder of words.


David and Jenny take the listener on a whirlwind worldwide tour, with greetings from many countries, inviting friendship with the song Hello, Round The World.

It’s A Mystery To Me, sends David scouring his home, seeking a mystery book he was reading.

Social consciousness is evoked in The World Is Not Your Garbage Can.

They do a fun cover of the They Might Be Giants classic Birdhouse in Your Soul, which I initially heard on the WXPN 88.5 fm radio show Kids’ Corner, which, not coincidentally, introduced me to Jenny and David’s music.

Cooperative relationships are encouraged with Pitfall which could just as easily apply to adult interaction as well as those between children.  As they sing ‘stepping into the circle of peace’ will allow for peaceful co-existence.


Purple Glasses is an ode to the fashion statement of a young girl in need of reading enhancement. I particularly loved this song, since  I too wear ‘spectacle spectacular’ purple (in my case, progressive lenses:) glasses.

Tell Me Your Story  beckons elders to pass their wisdom and experience to the next generation.

They are joined on the final piece Family Harmony by a host of friends and their twin teenaged sons Ari and Jason who also provide instrumentation on selected songs.

Jenny and David are accompanied by some of my other favorite musician in the singer songwriter genre; including Kim and Reggie Harris, their band members in Accoustic Blender;  Justin Solonynka and Hope Wesley Harrison as well as re-percussionist Billy Jonas,  saxophonist Ken Ulansey and multi-instrumentalist Dave Posmontier . The cover art was created by fellow musician David C. Perry.

What most impresses me about David and Jenny’s music is that it uplifting without singing down to children. You’re gonna wanna sing along. The Library Song


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