The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Light Filled Holiday

This morning, I saw a meme on a friend’s Facebook page that expressed: LIKE if you plan to be politically incorrect by saying “Merry Christmas” this holiday season. My response to her was: “If I know what people celebrate, I will greet them with their preferred sentiment. I have friends of many different faiths who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice and I celebrate right along with them. All of the winter holidays are about calling in the light. To you, I wish a joyfilled to overflowing Christmas.”

I am based in a Philadelphia, PA, USA suburb which is multi-cultural, with folks of various beliefs. There are churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, Quaker meeting houses, as well as groves where those of Earth based religions worship. There are Native American grounds in this area. I regularly attend services at two different interfaith/multi-spiritual communities Circle of Miracles and Pebble Hill Church, and sometimes visit and speak at New Thought churches in the region.

I was raised in the Jewish religion and we celebrated Hanukkah in our home. Lighting the menorah, eating latkes, spinning the dreidel, singing the song that is about that toy, gifts shared with family for eight nights, were part and parcel of holiday time. AND we had many friends who decked the halls, went to Midnight Mass, had train tracks running around their Christmas trees that had presents piled around and sumptuous meals shared with loved ones. We celebrated right along with them as my sister and I were growing up. What I couldn’t quite grasp was how Santa knew to leave presents for two little Jewish girls under their trees. In my teens and as an adult, I attended services with Christian friends and holiday meals in their homes, basking in the warmth of their celebrations.

These days, my holidays include our annual Latke Party to which friends and family come to celebrate in their own way. Laughter, love, light and (potato) latkes are in abundance. I have a table top tree, decorated with lights, angels, faeries, snowflakes and feathers. I display a stone menorah that has seen many a Hanukkah; chipped and a bit worn away. Not ready to replace it, since there is tradition in it. The day after our party this year, is the Winter Solstice and I will join a gathering of friends as I have for likely a decade,  who incorporate pagan and Native American traditions. We pray, meditate, sing, drum, write intentions, burn a Yule log, eat food that is infused with love and exchange gifts that have been treasures to us that we pass along to another. I always leave Deva and Stan’s house glowing.

While some might believe that one holiday supersedes the others, since it is more commercially focused, the reality is that all are various ways of honoring the Divine. I have no right to assume what someone’s beliefs might be. There may be fellow planetary dwellers I encounter who have no religious beliefs who are worthy of my respect. If I’m not certain of someone’s spiritual orientation, I will do as I always do to acknowledge them. Smiling, beaming love and wishing that they enjoy their day. This year, I will add that I wish them a  light filled holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mother’s Daughter

Yesterday, I did a mini-workshop at Awaken Healing Expo and offered BLISS Coaching; both designed to empower people to live the lives of their dreams and desires. Already pretty tired from early awakening myself that morning, before the sun was even peeking out from its own cloud cover, my eyes were open. I attempted to slide back into sleep, but my mind was spinning with thoughts of what insightful information I wanted to share and what tools and toys I would bring into the room for the participants to use. Fortunately the back of my Jeep carries tote bags and a rolling suitcase filled with markers, feathers, paper, stickers, glitter, a magic wand, handouts from which I can pick and choose at random as I am inspired to bring them out. While there, I saw old friends and connected with new kindred spirits. I felt gratified and grateful….for me, gratification feels like something I take in, while gratitude seems to be something to extend outward. Uncharacteristic of me, since I don’t like to inconvenience anyone, on the way out the door, I asked three male friends to help me ferry my stash out to the car. They were glad to do it.

After a few hour nap, I woke up and had a revelation when speaking with my friend Yvonne Kaye who has known me for the past two and a half decades. Many people spend an entire lifetime in an attempt to distance themselves from their past and want to avoid  being like their parents. I have spent much of mine in an attempt to emulate my parents. In many ways, that has served me and in others….not so much. Still wondering how much of the physiological stuff is related to that. My father was a workaholic who even in retirement from his full time job at 65, worked part time in a gym for 18 years until Parkinsons robbed this formerly robust man of his stamina. During our daily check in phone calls, I would ask him how he was feeling and often times, his answer was “Disgusted.” He felt increasingly frustrated that he couldn’t perform his own ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living), such as bathing and dressing. He needed assistance getting around the condo with his walker. I can only imagine how challenging it was to depend on others for his care. His dwindling cognition was, in many ways, a blessing, because perhaps it rendered him able to ‘forget’ that he couldn’t do what he used to do. He was my model for relentless activity and perseverance.

My mother was the rock on whom everyone depended. She wasn’t a martyr or overtly self sacrificing, but made herself available as on-call listener and support for nearly any family member or friend who needed her. I can’t recall her turning anyone away. She would say that she had ‘broad shoulders” that I imagine she inherited from my grandmother, which meant that she let people lean on her and unburden their hearts. That too was my inheritance which  I tapped into personally and professionally.

Today, I spoke at Circle of Miracles which is one of my interfaith spiritual communities, on the topic of From Wonder Woman to Bionic Woman. The first part  is a reference to my former belief that I was a superhero who was indestructible, invulnerable and invincible. Not only did I not have a cape, cuffs and lasso of  truth, but I thought I could practice ‘savior behavior’ even so. The second is a nod to the stent that was inserted on June 12th; my re-birthday, thus opening a fully occluded artery. As I shared my journey over the past five months, I saw knowing nods in the congregation, since many of them are caregivers who sacrifice their own well-being to live a life of service. They also wagged their fingers at me, because although I have slowed dramatically, I still push the edges in terms of activity at cardiac rehab. I love going there and feel charged up emotionally, even as I sometimes feel drained physically. I was advised by one doc I saw last week, to cut back from five days a week, 50 minutes or so each time, to three times a week. My visceral response was to rebel…”You can’t take the outlet away from me.”  I do realize the importance of listening to my body’s messages and have been taking rest time to rejuvenate. Although I am indeed my mother’s daughter in so many ways that make me smile, I am willing to be a willow that bends, rather than a rock that crumbles.

A Matter of Balance

I am a Libra, born October 13th and have found that balance is an essential ingredient in my wellness cookbook. Some work, some play, some rest. Time with friends and family, time in solitude. Time to dance and sing, time to meditate and veg. Kind of a bio-psycho-social version of Ecclesiastes. I find myself singing along to Pete Seeger’s musical rendering of Turn, Turn, Turn  as I contemplate what I will share here.

Had another in a series of medical tests today…known as European Thermography, which was ordered to find out what was cooking with a breast nodule that was an ‘incidental finding’ when I had a CT scan for lung lesions. The lesions haven’t grown since their detection in July, which may mean that they are remnants/scar tissue from bronchitis or pneumonia. The body parts that I refer to as ‘the girls’ seem to be in good shape too. We looked at the impact of my zipping and zooming on my adrenals. I have been known to say that I was “running on adrenalin and fumes,” and was “burning the candle at both ends until there was no more wax left.”  I would then laugh it off. Not doing that any more.

The session also included a Heart Rate Variability Test which showed a need to slow my pace. I sometimes feel like a racehorse who is constantly galloping  on the track and not out to pasture Revving my engine, running on the hamster wheel.  I have been going to cardiac rehab 3-6 times a week since July and have pushed my physical and emotional edges to the point of fatigue such that I need a nap right afterward. Do I take one? Not always, since responsibility calls. I have dramatically slowed my pace since my 12 hour plus days when I slept a fraction of that amount at night. My mind was awhirl with work related thoughts and my body couldn’t quite quiet down enough for restorative rest. These days, I work from home and create a sane schedule. I sleep 7-8 hours a night now.

I am exploring the reasons behind this still obsessive need to prove that I can do it….whatever IT is. Maybe it harkens back to being a child with asthma who didn’t want to get left behind. Perhaps that little girl who wore clunky orthopedic shoes and felt different wants to throw off all restrictions. One of the questions that was asked by Dr. Denise Kelley  in whose office I received this  wake up call, was what my fears were. I am not afraid of death (or public speaking, which many place at an even higher level than dying on the hierarchy of fears), but I do have trepidation around being incapacitated and needing to depend on others to take care of me. And so I have been pushing myself in different ways than I did before. I have wanted to bounce back and have forced recovery. Heeding the message, I took a nap this afternoon.

This Libra is learning that if she wants the scales to be in balance, she needs to be too.

 

 

 

Thank You for Being A Friend

Filled with gratitude this morning for one of the greatest gifts in this or any lifetime…..friendship. I have always been blessed with sweet and supportive souls who mostly get my quirky ways of being and my sometimes outrageous and colorful world view. My parents modeled long time friendships with people, since their early 20’s and they continued to grow new friendships until the day they each died into the mid-eighth decade.  They taught my sister and me to reach out and be inclusive, to cultivate kindness and to play nicely in the sandbox. They taught us to share our toys. They taught us not to hit or push. They taught us to forgive slights. They taught us to stand up for ourselves appropriately. All of these skills serve me well in my current relationships and those who come into my life regularly.

One of the things that I felt sad about as I heard a client say a few years ago : “Everyone in my life is gone and I’m all alone.” I asked him if he believed that everyone he had known were the only ones he would ever know. He nodded. I reminded him that everyone he knew and loved was once a stranger and that there was a whole world full of people with whom he could connect. The issue isn’t a lack of people, it may be a lack of willingness to reach out to them or allow them to reach in. I encouraged him to think of the type of folks he wanted to attract and then we brainstormed ways he could meet them.

I set intention daily to make new friends, and each day I do. Some are face to face via attending events, through networking, fun activities and with friends who are yentas (Yiddish for matchmaker) and want to introduce mutual friends to each other. I have parties to which I invite friends from what I call overlapping soul circles and take great delight as they interact with each other, finding common threads. There are kindred spirits everywhere, just waiting for the moment when you arrive on each other’s stages.

My appreciation is boundless, as friends; those in my face to face world and those via Social Media have boosted me, buoyed me and embraced me through the health ride I have been on for the past year. We are all so interconnected. We are family of choice.  Not sure how I would have gotten through various pivotal points without them. It is human nature to want to unite and not isolate. I encourage you to dare to make a new friend today.

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”
Linda Grayson

Thank you for being a friend.

 

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