The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Life is What Happens To You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans



On December 8th, 1980, I was working the overnight shift at a crisis intervention/youth shelter at Glassboro State College called Together, Inc. with my friend Joe Arnauskas. My sister called and said, “Quick, turn on the television! John Lennon was just shot.” My reaction was denial that it was like the “Paul is dead,” rumor. “No,” she said. “He really was killed.” I felt a sense of dazed surrealism and to this day, it’s still hard to believe. I had just, shortly before, been listening to Double Fantasy and was reminded of the lyrics to Beautiful Boy, that he had composed for his young son Sean. ” Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” On some level, did his soul know what was coming? I wouldn’t doubt it.

One of my favorite tribute pieces to this man of peace is from Elton John called Empty Garden

What happened here
As the New York sunset disappeared
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange
It’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain

And what’s it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed we’re crippled and we’re dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace

And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most all the day
Oh and I’ve been calling oh hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out to play

And through their tears
Some say he farmed his best in younger years
But he’d have said that roots grow stronger if only he could hear
Who lived there
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls
We hear, we hear your name

Johnny can’t you come out to play in your empty garden

John Lennon’s music was part of the soundscape of my life, as I listened to the Beatles from their initial appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, through their breakup when I was in sixth grade, as they took us down The Long and Winding Road. I related to his pacifist sensibilities and watched with delight and fascination as he and Yoko invited the world into their hotel room for a bed-in for peace and held audience with the press. The iconic chant:  “All we are saying, is give peace a chance,”  still echoes in my ears and reverberates with the same call, beckoning action to make it so, all these years later.

I too consider myself a pacifist and like to think that I walk a peaceful path. I assume cooperation between myself and the people with whom I interact. I go for the win-win and look for ways to go heart to heart, rather than head to head, these days. Sometimes my ego twitches, wanting things ‘my way’. It’s then that I seek the Highest Good outcome and trust that my needs will be met. Wondering if that’s the key to ending conflict in the world; knowing that we need not butt heads over the perception of scarce resources, whether they be land or love, finances or fun. I am learning that there really is enough to go around.

I often wonder what John Lennon would have created over the years by way of musical magic had he lived. Another peace anthem?  Experimental sounds?  A reunion with Ringo and Paul? We’ll never know.

Taking the ‘life is what happens to you…’ analogy further, I enter each day, not knowing what it will bring. I set intention that it be filled with wonder and work as co-creator with the Divine.





Riotous Roots



Winter is approaching here in the Western hemisphere and with it, a time of hibernation for many. Cozy cover burrowing, bundling up in multi-layers to keep toasty. One might think of winter soil as fallow; or unseeded, but the truth is, this is an important time to plant them for Spring growth in the dense loam that is waiting to nourish them. Imagine being that unopened pod, surrounded by darkness, unable to determine night from day, breathing in the earthy incense, waiting patiently for the signal to burst forth. It comes naturally for them, but not so we human-doings. We are impatient when it comes to calling in what we want. We are also foot dragging procrastinators at times when it comes to cultivating the garden, sowing the seeds, feeding, watering and fertilizing them, even as we are eager for the harvest.

I have been planting all kinds of seeds lately. Most of them revolve around two of the most important areas in my life; creative work and relationships. I have been riotously busy scattering flower petal ideas in my writing and watching in anticipation to see where they land. It is when I become judgmental about who sees them, who scoops them up and shares them, that they blow away. It is when I allow for them to touch down as they will, trusting that they will reach just the right eyes, that they remain lovely. It’s no different with person to person relating. I am in surrender mode with regard to bringing a partner into my life. There was a time when I held ideas of who and how that person should be that prevented blossoming of potential relationships. I had gazed with a sense of longing at other ‘gardens’ and thought that there was something wrong that I seemed unable to cultivate my own. Now I am content to enjoy the riotously colorful flowers in my life until the plot of land is ready to bring forth ecstatic splendor.


Happily In Love With Life

As I was  prepping for my radio interview tonight with don Jose Ruiz; author of My Good Friend The Rattlesnake: Stories of Loss, Truth and Transformation, I came upon this question that had me widen my eyes and take a heart leap: “Are you happily in love with life?” The line was part of a story he told about having taken a trip to India where he and two businessmen were witnessing a man he described as a ‘vagabond’ who was singing and dancing for all he was worth, unaware or perhaps uncaring of who was present. One of the men made a disparaging comment, calling the old man “crazy”. The other man made an observation that he was “happily in love with life,” and that superseded any other designation. He asked his companion if he could say the same thing about his life and when the response was “no,” he asked “Then who is crazy?”

When I think about that question, I am glad to offer a hardy YES!  For me, being in love with life is the same as being in love with a person. It doesn’t mean that I am happy with their choices, beliefs and actions 24/7, any more than I am content with my own. It does leave room for taking in the beauty and blessings of this human existence, as well as the lessons and challenges that make me more resilient. My experience has shown me that we are given birth and that we make a life from the pieces we are handed. The more I connect with people who tell me that their childhood was so different from mine, the more I marvel that they have been able to take those fragments and put them together in a fashion that has them functioning as well as they do. It just occurred to me that because I had such a loving childhood filled with support and the benefits of parents who adored each other and us, it is incumbent upon me to share that blessing. I have no right to hold back. How can I possibly NOT be in love with life?

I have to come clean and tell you that there are times when I kvetch and moan, feeling put upon and less-than when I am not getting the acknowledgement I want for my work and then when I do get it, I sometimes experience embarrassment for being the center of attention. I occasionally imagine that I am on this metaphorical treadmill still; even though I have dramatically changed my over- the- top, workaholic, insane schedule and the only treadmill I trod is at the gym. I ask myself why I still have a need to succeed that has me scaling a proverbial Mt. Everest. What do I need to prove anymore? Am I afraid that if I rest at the summit, I will be content to stay there forever and never climb higher? Sure. Is that likely?  Nah.

What is it about life that beckons me to love it so?

Family and friends who are my treasures.

Work that nourishes and sustains me physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially.

My eclectically decorated cozy home into which I invite kindred spirits.

Resilience that had me bouncing back from loss, death, illness and life getting ‘lifey’.

An Opti-Mystic attitude that has me viewing life through the eyes of possibility.

Books that invite me into their pages where I experience infinite adventures.

Music that seduces me into singing along.

Drumming that calls out to me with heart beat rhythm.

Dancing that moves me.

Miracles too amazing to even name at times.

Divine design that has me marveling at its intricate patterns and weavings.

Cosmic coincidence and overlapping soul circles of people I encounter every day.

A growing certainty that life loves me back. Who could ask for more?


Hugging It Out



An image that has gone viral is one of vivid beauty and penetrating humanity. A tearful African American child in the midst of a rally over the death of someone else’s son and a riot gear attired White police officer who takes this young man up on his offer for a hug, thus creating a ripple effect and heightened the conversation of what true healing and reconciliation means.  As the story is unfolding, it seems that Devonte Hart is a consummate hugger. Adopted by Jen and Sarah Hart, Devonte had a challenging start to his life. Born into addiction and poverty, abuse and violence, he rose above his circumstances, nourished by love and with an insatiable desire to make a difference in the world. That he has, even before the iconic photo that followed. Clearly, he has proven that our history is not our destiny. I imagine that he and his mothers had no clue that the day they awoke and decided to attend the rally in Portland, that he would make history. I’m equally sure that Sgt. Bret Barnum couldn’t have predicted how his day would unfold. Both are heroes in my eyes.

A world wide FREE HUGS wave has been re-created and washes over wounds, piecing back together the fragments that what happened in Ferguson and is happening on streets around the globe, have torn asunder. I love the sentiment behind the movement and have participated in several, including one on Valentines’ Day weekend when friends and I staged a FREE Hugs flash mob at 30th Street Station here in the City of Brotherly Love.

Another that jumped out at me today and brought me to tears and cheers was spontaneously offered in Hollywood, California as a means of ending racial discrimination.

I bless you, Devonte, Jen, Sarah and Bret.  Sending you big hugs from here~


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Life is What Happens To You While You're Busy Making Other Plans
  On December 8th, 1980, I was working the overnight shift at a crisis intervention/youth shelter at Glassboro State College called Together, Inc. with my friend Joe Arnauskas. My sister called and said, "Quick, turn on the television! John Lennon was just shot." My reaction was denial that

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