Even as I wrote the title for this Bliss Blog entry, I could feel the little twitches of “What will people think if I declare that statement?” That’s what tells me that Christine Arylo wrote this book for me and everyone else who has ever doubted their love-ability or felt a need to earn love from others. This writer, teacher, love scatterer and co-creator of The Inner Mean Girl Reform School (with her friend Amy Ahlers) has penned her challenge. I, for one, have chosen to accept it. I have no problem looking in the mirror and saying those three words to myself that most long to hear from others. I have no hesitation teaching others how to do that. It’s when I step outside my comfort zone of the facade that I am self loving, that I feel ‘less than’. I watch women who are bodacious and brilliantly shining, and wonder what inner force allows them to step into the spotlight without being concerned that others will judge them as being arrogant or too outrageous. Think Madonna. She has been through so many image incarnations and re-creations that I gotta wonder how much of it is her own inner prompting or a reaction to audience/fan input. I desire to be so supremely self confident that it doesn’t matter what other people think, the numbers of attendees at my workshops, the book sales or digits in my bank account. Such is the flow and content of Arylo’s book.
She begins with the idea that somewhere along the line, we absorbed the idea that we aren’t enough as is. For some it was being told that outright and for others it was an assumed belief based on societal and cultural standards. She invites the reader to imagine how many girls and women would be spared eating disorders and toxic and abusive relationships if they accepted their enough-ness. Arylo ponders how many of us would speak to dear friends, younger women or girls in the ways we speak to ourselves either out loud or in our heads. I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who would say the disparaging things I say to myself!
Throughout this pocket sized Valentine, in vibrant red, pink and white, Arylo sprinkles what she calls Self Love Pulse Check in which she asks values clarification questions that measure the readers perception of herself and her value. Examples include: “I feel nourished, replenished and fulfilled.” “I am supported and well taken care of.” “I am overwhelmed and exhausted.” “I feel like the world is on my shoulders.”
Fun and playful exercises abound that she calls Daring Acts of Love running the gamut from: Smother and Mother Yourself With Compassion which offers maternal loving compassion and the words “You are doing the best you can and that is enough.” to Sleep With Your Inner Wisdom For A Week which looks like writing to the wise woman within.
Anecdotes from her personal experience and those she knows, add an air of practicality to what otherwise might seem to some to be jargon and jive, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have used many of these ideas prior to reading the book and will continue to engage in them as a result of reading this refresher. I felt a particular kinship, with Arylo, since we have friends and inspiration Muses in common, including Karen Drucker whose song ( Gentle With Myself) she quotes “I will only go as fast as the slowest part of me feels safe to go.” It has long been one of my self-love mantras, that I pull out in emergencies as well.
The cherry on the top of this scrumptious sundae is the reminder to be a Love Ambassador, sharing what you have learned, being a role model and example. She sends the reader off into the world with the words “You are a beacon of love. Keep shining!” and so I shall~
http://youtu.be/ihWYx-QJ95I Gentle With Myself by Karen Drucker
Enter the world of huggably heart felt Robin Schwoyer whose work in the world was introduced to me by a mutual friend. She wears many hats as you will clearly see when you dive into this interview that will tickle you with delight. It incorporates art, yoga, children, sprituality and a clear sense that she is Divinely Guided.
How do you live your bliss?
I choose to connect to joy on a daily basis. I feel things very deeply and can over process, yet I learned there was a benefit for this as a counselor, minister and business woman. I developed a good understanding of why and how things happened from my processing. However, it could be a bit much. I noticed that time in nature, listening to classical music, being creative and helping others seemed to expand my awareness and allowed me to integrate feelings, observations and ponderings. Over time, it has become my “ritual” to breathe deeply using various mindful breath exercises, to listen to beautiful music each day, or play my Native flute, to write or create art, to laugh, to pray, to listen deeply to others and to listen deeply to my own heart. Connecting to my heart gives a richer, grander perspective to life, allowing me to go with the flow more easily and to simply be. In life, we know the saying sh*t happens…as a holistic person, I believe shift happens…and as a joyful person I know Bliss Happens! For me bliss is “being in a state of Love.”
You seem to be a Renaissance Woman who wears many hats; how did you learn to become a multi-talented multi-tasker?
This probably grew out of my constant curiosity about people and how the world works. From my earliest memories, I was fascinated by people. I was often confused as a young child about what I could sense was the disconnect as someone presented themselves to the world. I tended to be quite intuitive and would tell my mother I could “see” masks or shadows on people. They might smile, but inside they were hurting. Or they were angry on the outside, but inside was this person on the inside screaming to get out and just play. I noticed the “happy”people too. They seemed to be the same inside and out. I would say today they were “aligned.” They were genuine. These persons smiled with authentic smiles and they seemed to respond to life with an evenness. They had hobbies and helped people or animals. I liked the sense of calm, yet, saw they were filled with life and enjoyed themselves, even when life threw them tough times. I had a grandfather like that too. I compared him to the complainers of the family and noticed his humble, joyful approach seemed to energize him to accomplish much, as compared to those who drained themselves with negative thoughts. So, I suppose, early on I began to model myself from these observations. I had a teacher too, who taught me in 5th grade that every year you should learn something new. Study it, practice it, and become it. In years, she would say, you will have a rich life of experiences to enjoy and share with others. Voila! Here I am! I love to learn and try things and I love to create. I love to help others and use my creativity to support those in need and to model for them ways to be empowered in their own lives.
What is Pink Hearts Wellness?
Pink HeARTs Wellness for Women is a non-profit organization inspired to empower and promote vital health and wellness for women of all ages. Mind, Body, Spirit support is offered through holistic services, education and creative expression. It was created to address the needs of women I was meeting a few years ago. I already had the Autism outreach using creative expression with the kids and families, yet, in my client practice, more and more women were coming forth wanting to “be creative” and “be powerful.” I thought it interesting. These requests for healing were rooted in this creative urge. Additionally, in 2009, I decided to join the Susan Komen 3 day, 60 mile Walk for Breast Cancer in honor of my mother and step mother, who had both passed on from cancer. This was for personal healing. I heard the message, “This a necessary first step of many steps for your healing and the healing of many others.” So, my good friends helped me form a team, which we called Pink HeARTs Wellness. It was true. All those physical steps in training, led to me organizing myself more and taking better steps in health, wellness and time management. Pink HeARTs Wellness is still evolving as a support, educational and creative playgroup. And recently, I have had more men contact me, so we shall see how spirit leads us.
You use 7 ‘E words’ to describe what you do….how did you come to choose them?
I have always used alliterations in marketing and in sermons. I find they capture people’s attention and help them to retain more of the message. Educate * Envision * Empower * Enlighten * Embrace * Expand * Enjoy. These words expressed the ways in which we could help one another to live more vibrant lives, healing one heart at a time, yet radiating global healing with this new empowered state of being.
Can you speak about HUGS from the HeART?
HUGS from the HeART stands for Helping You Grow Spiritually from the heart. HUGS was actually a program I originally had for a kids yoga program, but it seemed to fit with the requests for a creative playgroup. I use the word HeART in most of my programs, since I see connecting to the heart as being key to the art of living life. And art bridges hearts in ways that many times words cannot. So, this group offers workshops where women and men enjoy breathing, meditation, music, discussion, and creating an art piece which is unique to them and expresses whatever they need, all while supporting them in their transformation.
How have the layers of life losses that you experienced shape the woman you are now?
From my earliest memories, our family life seemed to be marked by significant death and loss. Some quite tragic. Again, I observed. Those family members who could find greater significance for happenings or could connect to the good memories seemed to do better than those who became depressed or those who expressed nothing. I remember as a teenager telling others, “life is for the living, so enjoy it.” I saw so many other teenagers who were into the drama of being perpetually miserable. I didn’t understand it. It seemed somehow worse to be alive and missing life, than it was to actually die. Some aspects of this formed a part of my desire to be a minister, helping others to have the “abundant life” that Jesus spoke of. I was always compassionate and good at taking care of people, yet I wanted to inspire people to seek and accept the joy that is their birthright.
And then, there is Happy Hearts Yoga. Please share about the benefits of yoga for those on the autism spectrum.
I have done Yoga since the 80’s. When my son was exhibiting many impulsive behaviors and sensory issues, I thought maybe I could use Yoga to help him. We practiced breathing and doing poses to move energy through his body. As I learned more about his Autism diagnosis, I studied Occupational Therapy and various other approaches and began to see connections. This would lead me to working with his peers and school teacher. From there over 10 years, I developed a Yoga approach which addresses sensory issues, emotional regulation, focus, cooperation, communication, imagination, fitness and self confidence. It is called SMARTKIDS® Method and is the basis for our Spectrum Kidz Yoga®. There are studies done by others using Yoga with children and special needs children which show an improvement in many areas such as focus, calming, cooperation, balance, strength, better self control and regulation, along with others. We know we see differences and hear about it from the families. I love the stories parents share when their child remembers to breathe and can feel better. Or they do poses spontaneously, often to self regulate or express.
How does creativity feed your soul?
I would say creativity is my soul! I think we are all divine sparks just waiting to shine brightly. Observing the Universe and nature here on Earth, we see constantly evolving creativity. Expansion, contraction, birth, death, light, dark, all mixing colorfully as we cycle through time. We each are a divine expression of that ultimate flow of Creative Force, and we get to express that creativity as part of our blueprint of existence. For me music and colors feed me. I love to play with colors. I love sparkles and glitter. I love to swirl colors together and see what happens. I do this with music and toning as well. What resonates…what resists…how do we create good vibrations in and around us which uplift not only ourselves, but all those around us. This is what lead to some of my new art and healing sessions called Good Vibrations HeART tunings. Using creativity, tuning forks, toning, colors, images and energy balancing to create wholeness and joy for the participant. Lots of fun for the “serious” work of simply becoming the joyful person we are meant to be and accepting that “Bliss Happens.”
I saw that phrase for the first time on Sunday and knew it was calling out to be written about. A facebook friend name Liz Teska had used it to describe an experience where she felt her beliefs were being tested. I experience that, oh, only every day. We can look at life challenges as obstacles that impede us, thwart our best efforts and knock us literally or figuratively on our butts or as opportunities to stretch our comfort zones. I sometimes refer to them as AFGO (Another Friggin’ Growth Opportunity) that I hadn’t realized I had asked for until they showed up, bearing gifts in their outstretched hands. What if everything that happens in our lives, including the losses, broken promises, disruptions in our comfortable lives, incoveniences, demands placed on us, were really orchestrated or at least co-created by One whose only intention is our Highest Good.
Today I was having a stream of consciousness conversation with my friend Ondreah about many ‘obstatunities’ that occurred over the past 20 years, beginning with my husband’s diagnosis of Hep. C in 1992. What brought it to mind was a class I attended on HIV and STD’s on Friday that is a requirement for my job as an addictions counselor. One of the conditions spoken about was that insidious liver disease, that if unsuccessfully treated can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and eventually death. The instructor was reviewing the symptoms, means of transmission, prognosis and treatment. With that, I was tossed back in time to recall how, as primary caregiver, I was called on to inject him with Interferon, do IV antibiotic infusion and provide personal care. It wasn’t heroic, but necessary and the ‘in sickness and in health’ part of our wedding vows. When my parents became ill, I stepped into that role again. It was an honor to provide care for them as well. With each subsequent passing, I felt strengthened and more resilient. I believe that when someone we love dies, they leave a piece, a spark of the love that they will alway be, right here with us. It is what allows me to keep from fearing death; mine or that of others. It is what keeps me stretching beyond my comfort zones in so many areas of my life.
In my role as minister, I officiated at memorial service on Sunday for the uncle of a friend. Driving into the windswept Jersey shore area, ahead of the storm, that will go down in history bearing the name of a friend of mine in addition to that of a certain scientist with a penchant for grave robbing and patchworking body parts together. Ondreah and I laughed and spoke a great deal about death since it was right there in our faces and because I am coming up on the 2nd anniversary of my mother’s death on 11/26 and the 14th anniversary of my husband’s death on 12/21. Even though the grief surrounding both of these losses is subdued, it is no less crucial as an obstatunity for moving beyond my previous interpreation of what it all means. In the midst of our conversation, we lapsed into our own raucus version of The Doors song People Are Strange. In preparation for the tempest, we then hummed the Wicked Witch of the West theme song from the Wizard of Oz. I think we needed comic relief and it worked. During the service which was held at the firehouse, since Bob had been a firefighter for many years, I kept thinking “I hope there isn’t a fire and these guys all go running.” The timing was perfect and no alarm went off. What a relief.
These days, obstatunities abound and I know that I continue to grow and stretch as if on monkey bars.
http://youtu.be/GJY8jJkDoMY People Are Strange- The Doors
As is always the case, my friend Jacob Nordby comes up with phrasing that delights and bedazzles me and as is often so, they could have come from my own imagination. On Monday, while spending the day writing several Bliss Blog entries in anticipation of the possibility that power could go out in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, I saw his facebook posting in which he referred to God as “The Great Unboxable”. It struck a deep chord in me because I tell folks that “Love is my religion and God’s too big to put in a box.” Another friend, Tom Osher calls out the name of the Divine with three initials ATI (All That Is). I have friends who were raised in traditionally religious homes who now ‘order off the menu’ and I have those in my life who have fundamentalist beliefs. I don’t have the right to tell anyone what to believe spiritually, feeling that is between your own heart/mind and Whoever/Whatever you believe in.
Many wars are waged because humans disgagree on how to refer to the Creator. How silly is that? I was raised Jewish and in my earlier years, had the Judeo-Christian perception of God as a male entity outside myself who provided nurturing and protection as well as judgment. It felt like such a confusing juxtaposition for the little one who sat next to her parents in synagogue and read from a prayer book, words in both English and Hebrew. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I fully appreciated the seeds that were planted in my formative years, even as my beliefs have become hybrid since then, absorbing and integrating inspiration from other faiths. I have come to see that spirituality is about love and acceptance and not hellfire and brimstone judgment for those deemed ‘hopeless sinners’. On occasion I hear people refer to themselves as being “God fearing.” I would prefer to be God loving. In my childhood, I adhered to the wishes and guidance of my parents, out of respect and love, and not fear. I graduated in 1999 from The New Seminary in NYC, founded by a priest, minister, rabbi and imam…kind of like the opening line of a cosmic joke. The motto of the school is “Never Instead Of, Always In Addition To” which encouraged us to weave our religious origins with new thoughts and understandings.
Each day, I have a conversation with God/Goddess/All That Is, and sometimes it feels like a dialogue and sometimes a monologue. It resembles a comedy routine on occasion, and a petulant little kid temper tantrum at others, but mostly it is a heart to heart, and the words don’t matter. Much of the back and forth is a celebration of my blessings as I express gratitude for what I desire, even if it hasn’t yet transpired. Someone recently told me that the definition of a visionary is someone who can experience internally what it is they want, even if it hasn’t yet arrived. They just KNOW it will. I would definitely put myself in that category.
What if we viewed ‘the God of our understanding’ (to use a 12 step term) as being unboxable? For some people, it might feel too frightening, since they need to feel sheltered by the box and for others, it would feel freeing since it would they are becoming out of the box thinkers.
http://youtu.be/W5pL04O8fPc God In The Box