The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

S for Surrender

Yesterday was brought to me by the letter ‘S’ for surrender. At cardiac rehab in the morning, I blasted out a whole bunch of energy on the elliptical and treadmill, so that by the time I got to the recumbent bicycle, I was majorly winded and needed to slow down my pace and couldn’t finish the 17 minutes I had worked my way up to in the past few days. Initially I felt disappointed, but the kind and supportive therapists reminded me that it is a process. I know, a marathon, not a sprint, as is all of life.
Learning to be kinder to myself and listen to my internal messages. As it turns out, I was reading a back copy of Yoga Journal and what was the topic of the article that I turned to? Control and lack thereof.  As much as I don’t like to admit it, I can be a bit of a control freak and want things my way. Do you know anyone who doesn’t also possess those qualities?

Then I had an appointment with my dear friend and chiro, Sandy Epstein Levenson to work on some tingling in my left hand and leg. Turns out that I have been sitting weirdly and throwing my posture off,  when I am at the computer throughout the day, which is putting pressure on nerves. She suggested alternating standing and sitting as I type and investing in a treadmill desk. Looking into that. Also noticing swelling in lymph nodes near my left clavicle…gotta get that checked out too.
Had some much needed time with my 4 year old little Buddha-grandson Collin and we read and played Three Little Pigs (under blanket:), sometimes he was the Big Bad Wolf and sometimes I was and sometimes my Adam played that role as we alternately huffed and puffed away. The hour that I spent with him was pure fun and good medicine.Last night, I  had a wedding to officiate and left in plenty of time (2 hours prior to the time I needed to be there) and the Universe saw fit to put soooo many cars ahead of me on the Schuykill Expressway heading into Philadelphia which typically is backed up anyway at that time. I found myself alternately carrying on and using words that are not in my spiritual vocabulary,  breathing and asking to clear the way and demanding to know the purpose and then asking for some angelic support. Who should call, but my  supremely spiritually connected  friend Cass Forkin who reminded me that all was well. When I asked God what this was about; the benevolent answer was to remind me that I’m not in control and need to ‘leave the driving to Him/Her’. Cass was right, of course. My intention ALWAYS is to be reliable and follow through on my agreements AND sometimes I need to invoke the Serenity prayer, remembering to discern the difference between what I can and can’t control.

I kept the bride’s family informed about my ETA which kept getting later as I hit every traffic light and then went through a street fair; finally arriving, shifting gears to calm clergical mode and the ceremony went off without a hitch. The couple was lovely and both of them cried. Everyone understood and smiled when I started the ceremony reminding them that the best laid plans…..and that love was worth waiting for.

This morning, I awoke from a dream in which a large coiled snake kept showing up and finally was stomped on by a man from Australia. I have had snake dreams before and when in dialog with the critter, it has always told me that it is about shedding yet more layers. Still fearful that it will chomp on me, so I have wanted it gone. I laughed when I communed with the Australian dude, since he reminded me that he was from ‘the land down under’- which is where dreams seem to come from. No, not Australia, but from the unconscious. I have had heart palpitations over what my future holds, since so many unexpected health challenges have arisen in the midst of marvels and wonders.
I guess I need to remember that surrender isn’t about giving up, but giving over.

Perfectionista

I am coming to recognize another persona that I am calling ‘Perfectionista’.  She is polished and professional, sweet, kind and caring, loving and compassionate, creative and fun, positive and intuitive, reliable and  responsible, intelligent and articulate. So, you might ask, “What’s wrong with those qualities?” In the grand scheme of things, nothing at all, but when I hold myself to such a high standard all the time, I become too stringent and then I miss out on the full human experience, because sometimes she just isn’t those things.
I have such high expectations for myself and everyone in my life. I like to think I give each day the best I have in me and still ‘edits’ are requested. Need not to take it personally(: Other people’s vision for what they want may be different from mine. It happened twice yesterday. Even though I have a particular world view, not everyone will share it.
I laugh when I think I ‘should’ be farther along in my fitness goals since the heart attack, as I am working out more intensely than I did before hand. Up to 3 day a week cardiac rehab and 40-45 minute a day walks; major dietary changes, more sleep (even naps when I need them) I have transferred my workaholic tendencies from career to health…YIKES! I still feel like I am juggling the various aspects of my life, albeit with far fewer plates to spin. Wanting to do them all ‘just so’. In my writing, I sometimes find myself cringing when I miss typos once something is published. Thank goodness for the editing function here on WordPress. I need to grow my self compassion muscles and let myself off the hook from time to time and be able to differentiate between excellence and striving for perfection.
How did Perfectionista get born? Unlike many who have extremely high standards, I didn’t grow up in a home with criticism; in fact quite the opposite. My parents and extended family were loving, supportive and responsive to my precocious strivings to explore the world, and I still enjoyed being a kid. I was never told that I wouldn’t achieve my dreams. I was praised and encouraged to do new things. My parents let me fall and skin my knees and they patched up the boo boos, sending me back out into the world.
As I was driving today, it occurred to me that I learned to be reliable by having parents who were reliable. I can’t think of a time when I felt let down by them. If they said they were going to do something, they did it. They taught me about follow through. They showed me they could be counted on and modeled for me what that meant. There was a time in my life; during my marriage when for whatever reason, I relinquished that role and it contributed to challenges. I own that part of the dysfunction that ensued, knowing that Michael also held his share of the craziness. I let things slide, taking a laissez faire attitude, sometimes feeling like I was sleepwalking through my life. Once he died in 1998, I picked up what I had set down and (my son will attest to this:) went to the opposite extreme of being ultra responsible, taking on far too much, which ultimately led to health challenges over the past year.
Feeling like I am getting to the other side of it, being mindful of when I am allowing Perfectionista to run the show. Instead, I invite her to dance and sing along to Karen Drucker’s ode to self love called I Don’t Have To Be Perfect.

 

Buffet Line

While speaking with someone today, I asked him what he wanted in life. He shrugged as he usually does and told me he didn’t know. I then inquired about his favorite restaurant and he replied that he and his family like to eat at a local Asian buffet where he can pick and choose from an assortment. I knew where I wanted to go with this line of conversation, being a writer who literally thinks in metaphor, and took it a step further. I wondered if he always chose the same items or if he ‘ordered off the menu,’ already knowing how he would respond. Being a play it safe kind of guy, he answered that he usually got the same things since they were familiar to him. Another step, a deeper inquiry.  What keeps him choosing the known instead of the unknown?  Fear mostly. What if he doesn’t like the choices he made?  What he had not learned in his 20-some years of life, is that he can always choose again. He need not stick with the same options. As with food, so with all other areas of his life. I encouraged him to experiment in both realms. It will be interesting to see what he does with that suggestion.

I invite you to do the same. When eating out, do you select the same menu items because you like them or because you are afraid to be disappointed if you choose something else? In your day to day, do you always take the same route to work, put your clothes on the same way, drink your morning beverage from the same cup, do your hygiene routine in the same order?  What would happen if you switched it up? While structure is important, sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone is the very thing that could spark your creativity and re-energize you. I have found that to be true for myself. Whether it is sitting in a different chair when I am in a workshop, walking a different way on my daily constitutional, writing on varied topics, making diverse musical choices and trying new foods, my life is enriched.

As one of my favorite songs by Dawes declares “I’m having a little bit of everything.”

 

 

 

 

Shakin’ My Tree

Listening to a song I first heard a few years ago during a reception for a couple whose wedding I had officiated.  Youssou Ndour  and Peter Gabriel rocked the joint with their song called Shaking The Tree. It wasn’t until recently that I heard past the catchy lyrics, hand clapping and hip swaying rhythm to the empowering message that all of us; men and women can see beyond societally imposed strictures and become who we choose to be.

I was blessed to have gotten that message overtly from my parents who supported my dreams and sometimes left of center visions , but somehow missed the boat a bit, by attempting to mold myself into an image that I thought others would love and accept. It has taken a great deal of work to maintain a façade of ease and grace when I have felt tossed about by the winds of change.  I have clung to a palm tree (which is the image that comes to mind when I think of this song), with gale force currents whipping about.

Today, I was answering preliminary questions for a book for which I am contributing. The topic was surviving in the midst of loss and grief. I looked back at 3 major losses in my life: my husband in 1998, my father in 2008 and my mother in 2010. Each one brought with them different ‘flavors’ of grief and each one taught me about the sustaining power of love, from those on both sides of the veil. I also know that when I didn’t allow for full expression of mourning, however it wanted to show up on any given day, it had an impact on my health. I held on, rather than letting go into it, since I wanted to be able to maintain my persona of the go-to person, ‘the rock’ as my mother was, until I crumbled.  Even all these years and several major health crises later, I still don’t feel fully human with permission to cry over these losses. Yes, I can justify my surrender into acceptance of death, since I know they are at peace and immersed in love wherever they are AND I miss them. Michael’s death has melted into memory, more than being an ongoing spectre.  I communicate with my parents daily, as they pop into my mind randomly and intentionally. Their presence is a comfort and provides encouragement when I begin to falter. At cardiac care, my father’s coaching “Come on, doll baby, you can do it!” keeps me sweating it out when I want to quit. I hear my mother’s voice in my own expression, which my sister can vouch for.

Grief can knock us loose from our moorings and shake us to our roots. It is up to us to decide if we are going to come down from the tree and plant ourselves in the nurturing soil of love.

 

 

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posted 10:56:19am Sep. 12, 2014 | read full post »

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S for Surrender
Yesterday was brought to me by the letter 'S' for surrender. At cardiac rehab in the morning, I blasted out a whole bunch of energy on the elliptical and treadmill, so that by the time I got to the recumbent bicycle, I was majorly winded and needed to slow down my pace and couldn't finish the 17 mi

posted 9:25:45am Sep. 06, 2014 | read full post »


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