The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

A Living, Breathing Dichotomy

Writing this while listening to my favorite radio station, WXPN, based here in the Philly area. Feet tapping along to the music, bopping into my day. Harry Connick, Jr. is serenading me at the moment. Awoke at the crack of dawn as has been my pattern in the past few years, no matter what time I close my eyes. Good thing my schedule allows for flexibility and blessedly, naps. I avoided them like the plague for years, believing erroneously, that I was unproductive if I wasn’t in constant motion. Not so anymore. I have come to accept that when I slow down, life gets a chance to catch up with me. I also am able to recharge my batteries.

On any given day, I can be found writing, reading, working out at the gym, teaching, officiating at weddings, (two coming up in the next two weeks), doing promo for my own work and that of others, spending time with family and friends and attending meetings. Yesterday I was at a twice a month Social Media Magic group that offers support and ideas for using social media to connect in the spirit of conscious business dealings. A speaker, Kim Krause Berg, offered her insights into how to and how not to design your website.


Earlier in the day I was with a group of women from various Bucks County community agencies tasked with a delightful, if difficult job, to select three young people from our area who embody the quality of Caring. This is one of the 40 Assets that a local organization called CB Cares encourages. I was blown away by the nominees for the Boomerang Award and wish that we could have chosen more. Each one reached out in love and support, not only to their families and immediate circles of friends, but to the world. They all exhibit profound social conscience, emotional intelligence, compassion, service and a willingness to go the extra mile. I know that their families and schools are proud of them all. This gives me such hope for the future. I was honored to be part of this committee.


In the midst of the activity, I am aware of emotional roller coaster feelings. Ever have days when you feel strong and vulnerable, certain and trepiditious, confident and doubting, leaping ahead into the unknown and wanting to hold on to the familiar? Yup. That was yesterday. I am a living, breathing dichotomy. I wonder what each day holds. Who will I meet? What will I be asked to do? Lately, I have come face to face with old hurdles over which I now leap with ease and grace when in the past they would have tripped me up. Mostly they relate to speaking my mind if I feel a ‘disturbance in the Force’.  I used to allow other people’s needs and wishes to supersede my own. Now I weigh them carefully. If I can and am willing to, I do. If I feel out of sorts about it, I say so. Such a relief.

Eager to see how today unfolds.


Parenting For Life- An Interview With Author Nina Sidell

GoodParenting for Life cover with MCA

It’s been said that children don’t come into the world with a how-to manual. Most parents find their way through the sometimes bewildering maze of parenthood on auto pilot or through the ways in which previous generations raised them and their parents. The book entitled: Parenting For Life, penned by Nina Sidell, MA is the closest thing I have seen to that type of instructional guide. Filled with wisdom gained, not only as a professional, but a mother of two, it addresses the needs of both parent and child as they grow together. Endorsed by Deepak Chopra, MD, it touches on the heart of parenthood. It  has also received the Mom’s Choice Award, with good reason.


When you became a parent, like all of us, you entered into it with ideas of what it would be like. How did they play out? What were the surprises ?

I was excited to become a parent and had looked forward to this role for many years. I had a great deal of love, affection, creativity, and empathy to give and wanted to be the best parent that my children needed me to be. My ideas were to be a devoted lifetime parent giving and understanding as much about my parenting aptitudes and my children as possible, while maintaining my life’s balance. One surprise was becoming a single parent, especially so early on in the process.

If you had a book like yours back then, what might you have changed as a parent? 


Since I was the primary caregiver to my children and worked with parents, children, and families professionally, I was developing this method as I lived it and saw that it worked well. I was keenly aware many of the aspects I wrote about as they were happening. I may have learned to let go of the little things with more grace, hindsight and humor. Those took time to develop.

How can we keep our expectations for our children at bay, while they develop into their unique beings?

The best approach is to view and enjoy our children for who they are from the get-go. Our expectations are best managed when we look at ourselves, our histories, our attitudes, and our children as they are. It is most effective to be unconditionally loving, respectful, realistic, and supportive of your child in each moment. We must value children’s feelings, opinions, wishes, and limits as the lifetime relationship grows. Similarly, we must tune into where our expectations as parents come from. With this orientation, we can better accept and allow for our children’s individual process. Development cannot be rushed, nor can individuality.


Our needs as parents sometimes get absorbed in caretaking. Please share ways of nurturing ourselves as we nurture them.

  Defining self-care, including its ongoing components, timing, and implementation is an individual process of self-acceptance, self- love, and self-discovery. We are often not prepared for much of what happens while parenting. Surprises come up outside of your own convenience that need attending to and lurk around every corner as a parent. It is vital for parents to make time to re-balance and re-charge themselves, relax, renew, connect with other adults, and rejuvenate the mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Doing this well is about time and stress management. What each parent needs to self-nurture is unique to them and can evolve as the parent does. You care for your child and you care for yourself. Everyone counts and everyone’s needs matter. The goal is a win-win outcome for all.


The word ‘parent’ is both a noun and a verb. How can we consciously parent, rather than doing it on auto pilot?

The concept of doing anything well includes the necessary steps, skills, and awareness to make choices within each defining moment in the process. Like any endeavor worth pursuing, a conscious parent is alert to everyone’s feelings, internal cues, their family and relationship dynamics with a sense of curiosity and commitment. In this case and since the love and care for a child is the most important job any parent will ever have, it beckons the adult to be as fully awake as possible while at the wheel.

Please offer ways of breaking generational patterns of parenting that were not the healthiest for parent and child.  


A good rule of thumb is to take the “temperature” of the household and all its members. The parent needs to be self-aware and an active listener for family members experiences and feedback. If the parent is aware of the unhealthy patterns that they have repeated or internalized, then the parent must be proactive to make positive changes on their own or with professional help. It is empowering for the parent and liberating for the parent-child relationship and family system to lead with a mindset for a present state of health. A parent has the power in each moment to acknowledge and thus alter, perpetuate, or obliterate unhealthy tendencies, patterns, whether behavioral or attitudinal—that seeps in from the past. In these moments, new traditions are born.


It may be easier to get along with one child than others in the family. How can parents keep from playing favorites?

  The parent’s role and responsibility is to be loving, firm, and present for each child, no matter what. By keeping the spirit of mutual love and respect consistent with each interpersonal relationship, differing styles and patterns of interactions will exist. With these differences, and even when it feels challenging to the parent (and child), the lessons of unconditional love, respect, and support present itself. Favoritism reflects an old family tendency of conditional love or what is easy for the parent, but does not reflect what is fair. A parent who tends toward finding a favorite child or a child that requires less “work” for them needs to learn new skills of understanding, empathy, and appreciation for the differences. Perhaps one lesson is to see if the child reminds a parent of a part of themselves or traits of someone else that they struggle with- thus learning how to relate in new ways through relationship tests and situational opportunities. Remember, even challenges that stretch our perceptions and responses have their silver linings and valuable gifts and can draw us closer.


What about a situation in which there are special needs, whether physical or emotional? How can parents care for that child and still have the others feel that their needs are also being met?   

Special needs, gifted needs, or any situation that goes above and beyond the average, normal, often neurotic and dysfunctional family scenario present unique challenges. Understanding, care, support, and strategies must be put in place in the family system. The levels of understanding of everyone’s needs are important matters. The degree of patience and communication within the family, along with proper structure and flow are paramount. Lastly, finding outside support in various networks, including psychological, educational, social, medical, and spiritual safe places to find strategies and external support are essential in many of these homes. Spending time getting to know and relate to each child is mandatory so no one feels ignored or neglected. Planning special one-on-one time with Mom or Dad works wonders too!


How can parents set positive examples, rather than the oft expressed “Do as I say, not as I do,” mentality?

Children need positive examples in a myriad of ways, especially in our complex society today. Parents like children need to hold themselves accountable. Despite perhaps communicating otherwise, children and young adults look and listen to the repeated messages and examples set by parents and other significant role models. If you are living a life that is sub-par ethically, morally, physically, or spiritually and teach the opposite of that, then you model hypocrisy. You run the risk of teaching your child either to be a hypocrite or nothing like you. Emotional or behavioral fallout is to be expected sooner or later. Either way, you are introducing a negative aspect to teach about character and intention. Why not choose to be the best you can be while you encourage your child to be their best too?


Why is it important to love our own inner child? 

Most adults live adult-oriented lives; have formed physically, matured intellectually, spiritually, and socially, allowing for multi-dimensional and successful interaction in the world. Within each adult resides an inner child who is still a part of the adult’s heart, soul, and psyche. The adult’s inner child can be easily accessed and tended to while the adult can best care for themselves. It is a form of self-love and self-respect to honor this once small, vulnerable, and instinctual part of one self. The younger aspects of an adult can be invoked when you pay attention to and integrate the inner child and teen that still reside in you. As an adult, you are in charge; you think, respond, and thrive from your grown, wise, and mature self-taking charge of your life. This acknowledgment helps to grow your authentic self, self-esteem, life satisfaction, positive interactions with others– all creating joy and overall happiness. When we recognize all of our parts, we function better as a whole. It is like parenting the child inside in ways that nurture, heal, and support while your adult self holds the reins. Similar to my best philosophy between parents and children, the same holds true here. “The parent is in charge, and the child has a voice.


What are your thoughts about parents who call their children their best friends? Is it possible to befriend your child and be a loving authority figure?

   My belief is that a parent’s job is to be the team leader, primarily to be a protector, guide, safe role model, and consistently loving and responsive caregiver to their child. A parent is the parent team leader who loves and values their children and protects their relationship. To be exclusive “best friends” is something else. Some families and family members feel very close, secure, safe yet free in the family net. The special connections between people in all relationships are not always easily definable and can stretch the terms of their roles. As long as the parent is calling their child their “best friend” is doing so from a healthy versus co-dependent place with a personal agenda, it keeps the appropriate balance. Another aspect of this term “best friends” for parents and their children is how this term makes the child, teen, or young adult feel. Is there permission to have other “best friends” or is this a exclusionary title? What conditions must be met to live their lives as “best friends”, and are their lives overly inter-twined and enmeshed, or is “best friend” suitable for best parent-child buds? It’s a good question that family dynamics and healthy boundaries can address.


If someone is a single parent, how important is it to have same sex role models/supports for your child?

  In all scenarios, same and opposite-sex role modeling and supports are needed for a child’s overall development. This same sex role modeling helps the child to copy and envision what will be like to be a woman or a man, to someday grow to their grown mature male or female self. If the other parent is present in the child’s life and is an overall good role model be thankful and appreciative. The daughter of a single father needs the influence and presence of a positive female role model or multiple models. The same is true for the son of a single mother who needs the guidance and leadership of a positive male role model or multiple models. Children need to see who they are and who they can be. If they don’t have a person to help teach by example and allow their vision to grow about themselves- they can suffer. Same is true to allow and invite children to have safe supportive adults, other/older kids/safe resources of all kinds, backgrounds, colors, genders, or lifestyle preferences. Each family establishes their code of ethics or morals, cohesion, safety, and support networks. The key is that the child has the chance to see all she or he can be in the moment and in the future.


ParentingBook back cover picture


Intentional and Attentional

We share the planet with more than 7.3 billion people. Most we will never meet and yet each one of our choices impacts on the lives of the others. How we treat each other determines the quality of our lives. Do we consider the impact of our actions and interactions or do we mindlessly sleepwalk through our days? Sadly, many do the latter.

What if we were to make every encounter with those who cross our paths both intentional and attentional? Not sure the second one is a real word, but I am using it here to indicate that we are paying attention consciously to other folks. It would certainly make the world a whole lot less lonely for those who feel as if they are out there on their own without a sense of belonging.

It occurred to me recently when I stopped to get gas, when I went to the pharmacy and the market to get fresh fruits and veggies that I want to connect mindfully and heartfully, even if it is ever so briefly with the person offering a service. I also decided that day to take my tootsies to the nail salon and have a pedicure. It has become far more than an indulgence or treat. It is a regular part of my health care routine. I love the massage and the decorative aspect of the fully nurturing experience. Looking down at my vibrantly red toenails makes me smile. This color embellishment is called Visions of Love. I chose it partly for the name. As I was sitting on the comfy cushy chair with my feet sighing in the swirling water, chatting with Teresa who was taking good care of me, I looked over at the woman next to me who was receiving pampering too. Her head was down throughout her session, connected not to the woman who was taking care of her, but rather, her phone as she was typing away. She missed out on a chance to get to know her nail tech. I enjoy getting to know folks who are doing their jobs and ask if they are enriched by their work and then learn about their passions and interests, their families and friends.

Imagine planting that seed of awareness. It’s so easy to breeze through a day on autopilot and act as if someone offering a service is utilitarian. We are all in service to each other.


For The Common Good

Like many around the globe, I have been following the journey of Pope Francis with interest. I was raised Jewish and am an interfaith minister, so the idea of a spiritual leader also being a diplomat, traveling to the United States fascinates me. He is not just addressing Catholics, but those of different faith traditions as well. Although I don’t agree with all of the teachings of any religion, I see that this man is a revolutionary in many ways as he speaks out about poverty, war, human rights and personal dignity. He encourages unity rather than divisiveness.

Today at the gym, while on the treadmill, I felt as if I was taking a walk with him and those who joined him at the Ground Zero memorial. Felt deeply moved by the respect shown to each faith tradition and the ideals of bringing people together, without the rallying cry that ‘my God’s better than your God.’ He spoke of the idea that one thing creating the events of 9/11 was that we were not able to focus on the common good. I thought about what that would mean. Can we put our individual ‘me first’ interests aside in favor of a world view and how to make life on the planet sustainable for all? An interfaith service brought together people from the various faith traditions. Members of the clergy offered prayers for peace and if the language was something other than English, it was translated. A cantor chanted an exquisite prayer for those who lost their lives on that day 14 years ago when the world came together in a sense of solidarity that had not been seen before.


A children’s choir sweetly sang Let There Be Peace on Earth. The camera panned down the line of these young people who are our hope for the future. I was particularly moved by the interlocking fingers as they held on to their shared conviction that peace is a reality, not just some pipe dream. May they make it a daily practice. May we as adults set the example in our interactions.

May we all take that walk together hand in hand.


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Writing this while listening to my favorite radio station, WXPN, based here in the Philly area. Feet tapping along to the music, bopping into my day. Harry Connick, Jr. is serenading me at the moment. Awoke at the crack of dawn as has been my ...

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