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The Bliss Blog

As a 57 year old woman penning these words, I am amply aware that I have accumulated some baggage in my lifetime. From the moment we are born into families, we are threaded through with ancestral messages; spoken and silent. As we move through childhood, adolesence and adulthood, we pack into our ever enlarging duffel bags, relationships, beliefs and behaviors. Some take the form of addiction and illness; others, emotional tsunamis that threaten to capsize our boats in the midst of the vast oceanic expanse with no rescue in sight.
When we find ourselves encountering another with whom we want to emabark on a journey, we notice the size of the baggage they are toting around. Some are overburdened with symbolic suitcases handed down to them by family legacy, while others are accumulated over time. It is at that moment, we have the opportunity to decide if we want to grab handles and hoist shoulder straps and haul away the luggage. If it is done with and not for the other person, with the expectation that it is a shared endeavor and that it is acceptable to put it down and rest for a bit, then it is manageable.
As a recovering co-dependent, workaholic, I have, sadly chosen to hoist, haul and carry the various sized containers brought into relationships. My marriage was the greatest example of said behaviors. In the 12+  years we were together (we met on October 24, 1986 and Michael died on December 21, 1998), I vacillated between willingly sharing the load and feeling obligated to do so. His history followed him into the marriage and in some ways, became our shared destiny. Although I saw clearly how many valises he toted in his life, I convinced myself that with enough love and determination, we could unpack them and toss some of what they contained. Giving us both credit, we were able to lighten the load  and by the time he died from end stage liver disease, some healing had taken place and I would like to think that he took the next leg of his journey, baggage-free.
In conversation a few nights ago, with my  face to face friend Greg Bullough., we were talking about the dynamics in relationships that involve said satchels. It continued onto the Facebook thread of another friend,  Tom Ziemann.
Greg: “Gee, it seems possible actually to love someone’s ‘baggage.'” It helps when you own a matching set, I guess.”
 

Edie: “You did mention that in our recent conversation too. Remember I said that I prefer carry on that can fit in the overhead compartment, or under the seat, rather than steamer trunk.”

 
Greg: “Truth to tell, most baggage is carry-on, when properly packed and handled. Much is simply a small personal item. It’s as often as not the handler who turns it into a steamer-trunk by not handling it well. “

It becomes light when someone says, “Let me help you carry that, and you can help me with some of mine.”
 
Seems to me that if we claim our own baggage, check it at the gate and decide if it meets weight and size standards, then we can travel light.

A few days ago, I was in conversation with my long time friend Brian Farias. We met back in the early 90’s, if memory serves. He is a creative soul…a musician, music teacher, band leader and spiritual explorer. He lives cross country in Las Vegas and I am in the Philadelphia area. The last time I saw him was Halloween weekend 2015 and we went to the infamous Las Vegas strip. He was ensconsed in a Gumby costume and I was garbed in a pirate wench get up. His partner Kent was clothed in his civvies and watched with amusement as people greeted Brian with classic line from the Saturday Night Live skit, featuring Eddie Murphy; “I’m Gumby, dammit.”

Whenever he calls, he begins the conversation with, “So, Miss Edie…are you stopping to smell the roses?”  He is one of the many friends who remind me to sloooow my pace and enjoy life to the fullest. I usually sigh and refresh my memory. I was on my way to have lunch with another dear friend, Sandy Andersson who I refer to as a chiropractor (and now yoga teacher) “with hands and heart of gold.” I had already written a few articles and took a break to socialize; so symbolic rose smelling was happening.

I was telling him about my upcoming trip to Toronto for my friends Shayne Traviss and Tim Emberly’s wedding, followed immediately by hopping on a plane that will wing me westward on my first journey to Portland, Oregon, where I will be meeting my new ‘family of choice,’ invited and hosted by a soul friend named Tom Ziemann.  There I will begin what I am calling my Portland Miracle Tour as I will be teaching three times that week. I shared with Brian that in preparation, I needed to get my ducks in a row so that I could relax enroute. I have check lists of tasks that have to be accomplished in addition to my regular routine.

He laughed and asked if I had ever actually seen ducks stay in a row. I joined him in chuckling and admitted that they mostly meander and don’t always walk in linear fashion. Kind of like my wandering mind, that needs to be lassoed back in when it goes too far afield. Lately,  it has been going off into every direction, as I move backward down the numbers line with should woulda coulda, what if and if only, thoughts and leaping ahead with “Ooohhh, how cool would it be to….” images.  Remaining present has been an interesting endeavor.

I am learning to allow events in my life to unfold and finding that the results are, more often than not, just ducky.

 

 

 

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“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.” -George Eliot

What do you long for, deeply desire, crave?  It might be a relationship or career path. It could be reflective of peace of mind or healing of body. It may be a more profound spiritual experience. I have discovered for myself that any sense of longing I have takes me to a direct feeling of Home. Not the structure in which I live, but, rather, the welcoming embrace of the Divine. The best way I can describe it, is that warm all over sensation, that goose bump, butterflies in the stomach, soundly resonating YES! that bursts forth. Sometimes it is a wordless knowing. A certainty that I am on the right track. When I pay attention to that beckoning with crooked, come-hither index finger motioning me, I am gratified with greater outcome than I could ever have imagined.  People and opportunities show up by Divine Design. It is not always a steady-on journey. Meandering roads take me into the realm of spiritual amnesia where I am a crossroads and am uncertain which way to turn.

My friend Phyllis posted this meme a few days ago and it spoke to me as an invitation to take note of what I long for. One of my deepest heart’s desires is for true partnership. Although I have had many romantic relationships throughout my adolescence and adulthood, there was an element that was missing. Yes, we enjoyed each other’s company. Yes, we experienced love and pleasure. Yes, we stretched and grew together. Yes, I had adventures that I would not have, had we not encountered each other. I hold each one with a sense of fondness, tenderness and love. Some remain in my life as treasured friends. Even those who brought more lessons than I bargained for, came into my life for a reason and I honor that. I wish them well from a distance, since having some of them in my immediate circles now, feels unhealthy.

Partnership would take it to the next level. I think of people who fit into this category, as ‘transformational power couples,’ whose work together helps to heal the world. They are writers and speakers, teachers and healers, leaders and organizers of events, entreprenuers and philanthropists. The love they experience with each other, splashes over onto everyone they encounter. A sense of the miraculous surrounds them. When I am in their presence, I come away with a feeling of having been tapped on the head with a magic wand. The infamous line from When Harry Met Sally comes to mind, “I’ll have what she’s having.” I had pieces of that dynamic in my nearly 12 year marriage that ended when my husband died in 1998. We published a magazine for 10 years (1988-1998) called Visions in which we featured articles on wellness, spirituality, the environment, as well as peace and social justice. It opened the door to my journalistic career as I interviewed notables in all of those fields. If not for our relationship, I would likely not be writing these words at this moment. A longing to communiciate, fulfilled. The marriage itself was not as fulfilling as either of us wanted it to be. Because of baggage and history, as well as sometimes ill advised choices we made, it was what I refer to as ‘paradoxical’. Wishing he could have been kinder and more patient and I could have been more assertive and decisive.  Water under the bridge. No more shoulda woulda coulda thinking. It doesn’t serve.

Still curious about the ‘wheres and whens’ of this person’s arrival. Out there somewhere, living life one moment at a time, as I am, perhaps wondering where I am. Mutual longing? Neither of us leaving them unattended.  Trusting that they will magnetize us to each other.

 

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”-Meister Eckhart

What is prayer?  Some might say that it is asking an outside male entity for a specific outcome as various faith traditions teach and preach. Others could express it as a certainty that all is well, regardless of the end result. Still more might indicate that it is an advance sense of gratitude as quoted above by the 13th century German theologian and mystic. My prayer practice has spanned the spectrum from the first to the third.

I grew up in Judaism; steeped in the traditions of many generations of Eastern European immigrants who came to America to escape persecution and create a new life for themselves. Prayer in my home took the form initially as reciting the Shema with the Hebrew: “Shema Yisrael, Adonai, Elohenu, Adonai Echad,” being chanted by rote, and the translation I followed it with then, “Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”  Much later in life, when attending synagogue services at Beth Or, in South Florida, the rabbi, Rami Shapiro, introduced me to words that resonated more fully with my searching soul, “That which we call God is Oneness itself.” It was such a vital ritual in my childhood, that even when my parents went out for the evening, babysitters would listen to our recitation.

I’m not sure how many years ago I adopted a practice of saying before getting out of bed, the morning prayer called Modeh Ani:

“Modeh anee lefanecha melech chai vekayam, she-he-chezarta bee nishmatee b’chemla, raba emunatecha. (Click here for audio of a Modeh Ani song.)

I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.”

Throughout the day, my ‘God-versations’ sometimes seem like dialogues with the Divine, sometimes monologues with myself. Not sure where my spiritual leanings lie. Still hard to shake the the idea that all is One AND there lingers a sense of not wanting to assume anything. So what’s a spiritual seeker to do?

Come to each day with copious amounts of curiosity….hmmm….I wonder what miracles await today? My favorite definition of the word is part of the theology of A Course In Miracles, with the concept of a ‘shift of perception’. I have written about faith and doubt. I have questioned the nature of existence and have had certainty that all is in Divine Order and created By Divine Design.

Last night when on the way home from offering a house blessing and energy clearing at the home of a friend who desired a fresh start in his renovations -in- process home, I saw a church marquee’ that read “ASAP-Always Say A Prayer.”  I smiled and offered one for all of the blessings in my life, including the one in which I had just participated.

Four pivotal women in his life walked through each room, setting loving intention, smudging with sage in all the nooks and crannies, ringing a Tibetan singing bowl, as well as chanting:

“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.”

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all”. – translation by Sharon Gannon -Jivamukti Yoga

I had brought a broom, beautifully designed by a friend, replete with feather, ribbons and beads, to sweep out the old, stale energy and call in the new.

There was also the Jewish ritual of bringing into a new (or renewed) home salt for seasoning, sugar for sweetness and bread for nourishment (the bread of life).

By the time the evening  was complete, I could sense a lifting of some of the heaviness that had been in my friend’s life. One of our friends remarked that he looked younger.

On this day, I offer deep bows of gratitude for the opportunity to love and make of my life a continuous prayer.

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