Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

 

makealist

This morning I was watching a video chat between my friend Betsy Chasse, who refers to herself as a ‘filmmaker, bookmaker and change maker’ and Aura Imbarus who wears many hats as well, in the form of the publisher of See Beyond Magazine author, and interviewer. Betsy is best known for her iconic work, What the Bleep Do We Know?  Her humor can be irreverent at times and she is a call- it -as she- sees- it person.

I laughed knowingly as she spoke about the impression that people have of spiritual teachers; that our lives are always together and we are perpetually sunshiney and smiling. Not so, I can assure you. She then launched into a litany of complaints under the guise of ‘why my life sucks.’ Even though we are encouraged to look on the bright side and see the glass as at least half full, there are times when we stumble around in the dark as we try to find our way and sometimes we tip the glass over and everything falls out and it plunges to the floor and shatters.

It occurred to me that before we can clean up the mess that our lives can be, we first need to acknowledge the clutter and chaos. I call it my ‘kvetch and moan time,’ but a ‘why my life sucks’ session will do just as well. There are times when I have done it solo and others with trusted friends. Today, I used it a few times in my role as a therapist to clients who really do feel that some aspects of their lives are well outside the realm of what is acceptable to them.  They were able to give voice to the disharmony and then take a look at what is behind it before they could write a new song.

In honor of Betsy’s courage and that of my clients, here is my rant:

My life sucks because:

I had to raise my son as a single parent since my husband died when I was 40 and my kiddo was 11.

I should be earning more income than I do.

I want a committed, loving partnership and it hasn’t happened yet.

I don’t have the slim and trim body I had in my 20’s and can’t eat without impunity.

No matter how much I work out, my belly is rounder than I would prefer.

My lungs don’t always cooperate and breathing can be challenging at times.

I still carry the fear of failure and success simultaneously.

I am an adult orphan.

I had a heart attack in 2014.

I had kidney stones a month after that.

I lost my home to Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

I could go on, but would much prefer to focus on the flip side.

My life is glorious because:

My now 30-year-old son just married the love of his life a few weeks ago. He is truly happy. I get some atta girl good mama points for that outcome.

Every day presents more creative opportunities to increase the prosperity in my life.

I am preparing myself to meet this person as he is preparing for me and when the time is right, we will come together.

I am more conscientious about my fitness routine.

I am accepting that this is the g0ddess body I have had no complaints from lovers.

I am taking activity slowly without ‘overdoing it’.

Holding on from failure and success.

My parents are at peace and free from pain.

The heart attack was a wakeup call that helped me to enter a new life.

The kidney stones caused a massive healing.

Does your life suck?  If so, what are YOU going to do about it?

 

 

 

customer service

Today while speaking with a co-worker, we were reflecting on the ways in which we handle difficult clientele. I laughingly shared a story with her about a time when I was working in a psychiatric hospital and a patient was lashing out angrily as he hurled curses across the desk. Although I could feel my own ire rising, I took a deep breath and responded as calmly as I could, “I don’t get paid well enough to get cursed out by you. Knock it off.” He volleyed back, “Then maybe you should get another job.” I  responded, “Remember that I am the gatekeeper who helps with your discharge, please be nice to me.” And I added, “I’m speaking to you respectfully. I ask that you do the same.”  He harrumphed his way out the door but returned the next day and apologized for his behavior. I accepted and we started anew.

Over the years, there have been blessedly few altercations with those I have served as a therapist. Sometimes there is a gap between what they expect of me and what I am able and willing to deliver. My intention is always to empower and not enable clients, guiding them to make personally positive and pro-social choices. I sometimes fall short and need to re-evaluate my interactions with them.

An adage is that we do business with those we ‘know, like and trust’.

My co-worker used to work for  Jamba Juice. When in training she said they learned an acronym to help resolve conflicts.

Hear

Acknowledge

Repair

Thank

If someone is disgruntled, chances are, they just want to be heard. There is something amiss, a disappointment or challenge, so saying, “I hear you,” is a step in the right direction. Active listening is one key to allowing for the speaker to be attended to and feel respected.

Acknowledging that not getting needs met can be frustrating and even going so far as saying, “If I were in your position, I might feel the way you do,” could defuse the emotion.

Making amends and finding a way of accommodating the person’s needs could satisfy their desires that went unmet in the first place.

Expressing gratitude for their business seals the deal.

Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest wrote a book called Who’s Your Gladys? which focuses on being customer service oriented. Marilyn had been a guest on my radio show called It’s All About Relationships a few years ago and in it, she expressed the importance of knowing and meeting each client/consumer’s unique needs. I think of it as a dance of relationship that is sometimes graceful and at other times, we find ourselves doing our best to avoid stepping on each other’s toes.

To maintain a business, regardless of the field, it is crucial to come from the heart (hart) and keep the customer satisfied.

hearthand

Those words came to me, as many do, via Divine Inspiration. So easy at times to allow for turmoil and chaos when surrender is called for. Not easy for this recovering co-dependent/workaholic for whom holding on is at odds with letting go as I engage in a mental tug of war. Have you ever seen the poster of a cat that reads, “Everything I ever let go of had claw marks on it.”? Yup, that’s me at times.  I wonder what has me clinging tenaciously to ideas that are threadbare and worn when I would be better off exchanging them for shiny new ones.

Today I was sharing with a new friend that I sometimes read my journals from college years (1977-1981) and shake my head in amazement at some of what I believed back then. What is even more astonishing is that I sometimes still believe some of the things that didn’t serve me in my youth and still don’t to this day. Yes, I have matured or as my friend, Yvonne describes it “ripened”. And I know I am a work in progress.

We all have baggage. Some are steamer trunk size. Some are carry-on that can fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. I like to think mine are in the latter category. And yet there are still items I want to offload to streamline my journey.

What I release:

Fear of the future

Regrets from the past

Anger

Worry

Anything I can’t control

Unnecessary weight both physical and emotional

Self deprecation

Doubt

Powerlessness

Judgment of myself and others

What I can’t change

Frustration with lack of control

Inner turmoil

Drama

The residual impact of trauma

The compulsion to multitask

Workaholism

Feeling responsible for the happiness of others

Savior behavior: thinking I need to fix, save, heal, cure and kiss the boo-boos to make them better

Expectation

Critiholism

Perfectionism

Making myself wrong for wanting what I do

Only asking for what I think people will say yes to

Soul contracts that limit me

Emotional vampires

Overachieving

Denial of my own pain and challenges

The need to be right

Envy of people who are living lives that I want

Believing  that I am not enough or too much

Impatience

Another analogy that comes to me is that of holding water or sand. If I close my fist around either, the substance will slip through my fingers. If I carry them with an open hand, they remain with me. I welcome life with an open hand and open heart.

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday, August 12th, 2017, this mother’s prayer came to be as my son Adam married the love of his life, Lauren. Although the relationship is  2 1/2 years old in chronological time, I sense their union was eons in the making. I look at the juxtaposition of Kairos and Chronos with time in the midst of time and am certain that they are ‘bashert’ (translates to ‘meant to be’  in Yiddish). It is evident in the way they look at each other, the way they make each other laugh and the way they balance each other out.  What makes this particularly miraculous is that there were challenges along the way in the life of our family that I wondered would ever be resolved. It took love to break the spell.  They met via a mutual friend. Perry was Adam’s soccer team mate and Lauren’s co-worker.

I reminded Adam that karma is a thing. For years he made fun of his ‘weird hippie mom,’ whose music and dress were way left of center for his more mainstream sensibilities. His new in-laws attend rock concerts and have signed rock posters as prominent decor in their home. They also proudly possess the sheet music from the Doors song Light My Fire, autographed by Robby Krieger who wrote the song. For my birthday two years ago, they gave me a purple lava lamp.

As I watched the progression from setting the date to planning the most intricate aspects of the wedding, I witnessed them working together as a team. While not always seamless, I reminded them that this was one day, not their entire marriage and the way in which they handled the ups and downs of the experience was a telling example of how they might manage issues that could surface throughout their marriage.  I joked with them that I had become an expert in something since they picked my clergy brain (I am an interfaith minister) for all things wedding. “Mom, how should we do…..?” or “Who do we talk to about….?”

As the day approached, we were faced with a shattering experience that cracked us all wide open. A dear friend who had initially become an ‘unofficial Big Brother’ and then father figure to Adam when he was 14 years old; died. Phil had told us on multiple occasions during several hospital stays in the past few months that he had every intention of walking Adam down the aisle with me. A few weeks prior, he let go of his body. He was absolutely present for the wedding, just in a different form than he had anticipated. His wife Janet stood on the other side of Adam as we both accompanied him to wait for his beautiful bride. Phil’s photo, along with those of others who were with us in Spirit graced a table with a flickering candle. His name was called out during the service.

The ceremony was held in her Catholic church and was officiated by a marvelous priest whose presentation was interfaith in many ways, even while maintaining the structure of the faith Lauren’s family practices. As he knew Adam was raised in a Jewish home, he invited me up to explain the ritual of the breaking of the glass that is part of a Jewish wedding ceremony. With shouts of Mazel Tov!, the marriage was blessed. His Best Man was his ‘brother from another mother’ who has been part of his life for half of it. Long time friends of mine and his were there with us as well.

Moving on to the reception, the festivities continued with family and friends from both sides of the aisle blending beautifully. It was as if we had all known each other for a long time. Music and merriment, speeches, exceptional food, a photo booth in which silly pictures were taken, were all part of the celebration of their union.

I am moved by the way in which Lauren’s family and friends welcomed us and we welcomed them. My four-year-old great niece made friends who the other flower girl and also the daughter of one of Lauren’s bridesmaids. A girls’ sleepover is in the works.

Adam is a self-taught chef, so the best metaphor I can conceive of for the day is that of love soup. Nourishing and yummy. Long may they drink deeply of it.