The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Dancing Star

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Last week, I engaged in a ritual in which I invited angels into my home and asked for their support in bringing about positive change in my life. There were three particular areas for which I requested guidance and before I named them and commited them to paper, I set wheels in motion for what you will be reading shortly. I asked for the chaos in my life to be cleared out so that I could experience greater peace.  Be careful what you ask for.

At the time this occurred, I was in the midst of a challenging situation with someone I had hired to do some work in my home. His work ethic left a great deal to be desired, but as a recovering co-dependent, I wasn’t initially as assertive as I needed to be to direct the project.  Add to it, feeling overwhelmed in most other areas of my life, but doing my typical keep on keepin’ on dance, and you have a recipe for even more chaos…YIKES! 

I consider myself a pacifist who appreciates peace and quiet at times; nicely blended with moments of music and color, high energy and spontaneous interaction. Never would I say that I thrive on chaos.  And yet…..

My 23 year old wise man son pointed out to me last weekend, as we were sitting in the parking lot of our local K-mart about to go inside to pick up a filter for our heater:  “Mom, as much as you say you don’t, you love chaos.”  Shocked…who me?  Conflict averse me?  Yupper.  He continued: ”You say that you get what you think about. You work at a job with people in crisis and chaos. Our house has been in chaos.”  He even admitted that sometimes his actions have contributed to the drama in our lives. “Just admit it. You also like being in control too and you can’t control chaos.”  How did he get to be so insightful, this kid who thrives on that energy and relishes every opportunity to stir some up?

What a wake-up-call-aha-moment for me. So, how can I manage chaos, other than removing it from my life?  “What if”, I pondered, “I could embrace it?”  My friend Greg had told me years ago about a professor he had in grad school that would encourage the students to “follow the chaos”, only it came out sounding like “follow the cows”.  We laugh about that occasionally. My view of cows is that they are not particulary chaotic critters, but rather passive.  Paradoxically, struggling to quell chaos only adds fuel to the fire.  So, what if I knew that like Rumi’s poem The Guest House; all of this tumultuous stuff was merely “clearing me out for some new delight.” ? If I ‘followed the chaos/cows’, where might it lead me? What eagerly awaited dance would I do?   I am eager to discover….Moooooo ~

 

 

Love Flavors Everything

This past Sunday, I was attending services at Circle of Miracles, an interfaith community in Doylestown, PA.  There I was surrounded by loving kindred spirits as we listened with rapt attention to my friend David Young share his sparks of soul wisdom with the capacity crowd.  David is a musician whose work spans a few decades and I had profiled him a few weeks ago in this Bliss Blog.

Today he was sharing about the idea of really loving what you do as a method of giving something all you’ve got.  He was describing a performance he did at a post 9/11 event.  Ray Charles was the headliner.  Prior to his own sound check, he was watching Ray do his.  Rather than going through the motions and saving his energy for the concert, Ray was movin’ and shakin’, giving it all he had.  This prompted David to ask Ray’s manager the reason for that dynamic activity. The profound answer?  “No one loves Ray’s music more than Ray.”  When you love something, you give it all you’ve got.

Last week, I met a woman named Cynthia Goch who wrote a cook book called “MaMa Mia Cucina” ~A Flavor of Good Food and Good Family” She shared that the primary ingredient in the meals she prepares, is love.  It spices and entices. You can tell when someone REALLY has their heart in their cooking. It just tastes better.

The same thing is true with my writing.  Because I love it so much, I can’t NOT write. It is my Beloved in paper form. It isn’t just what I do, it is in inicstricable part of who I am as a total being…body, mind, spirit, heart. I can tell that there is love in it, when I can re-read something I wrote years earlier and say to myself  ” Who wrote this?” because I truly resonate with the message I am sharing, without judgement and attachment.  I can disengage from full ownership of it, feeling at times that I am what I have referred to as “God’s Typist” and I am taking dictation. It is a gift I was offered by my own Creator that I willingly share, because after all, what greater gift to myself to allow what I love to first flow through me out into the world?

 

A Song For You by ‘Brother Ray’  http://youtu.be/jgZTvLFRYrE

 

www.TastesAndTime.com

 

Mensch

I have had the honor of knowing the remarkable young man that you will be reading about in a moment for the past four or five years. We have had conversations about spirituality, energy healing and martial arts. He has friends of all ages and his ability to articulate belies his chronological age. Alexander Hill is a 13 year old, truly old soul. His parents Liora and Greg Hill are my friends and together with his twin brothers Gabe and Max,   Alexander lives in suburban Baltimore. Lest you think that one person can’t make a difference, be prepared to be surprised and delighted by the impact  that a loving and generous gesture can have. He is indeed a mensch; Yiddish for a good person whose actions are of note, and may indeed be exemplary.

How do you live your bliss?

Baseball.  It’s a game that requires brawn and brains.  It’s 75% mental.

 

Can you please tell me about your Bar Mitzvah project and how you chose it?

I started up with Habitat for Humanity for the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition because of my parents.  My Dad was representing Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on the Board of the Interfaith Coalition.  Because of this, Habitat was now on our radar and the timing was perfect because I needed to choose a service project for my Bar Mitzvah.  The year before, for his Bar Mitzvah, one of my best friends, Alex Jerome, instead of getting gifts from everybody, asked his guests to bring in new toys for the kids at Kennedy Krieger.  My Mom took a page from that notebook and suggested I have people donate money to Habitat instead of giving gifts for my Bar Mitzvah.  I’ll admit it, I was hesitant at first.  After all, what kid doesn’t want to be laden with a mountain of presents!?  But I know that I live a privileged life.  I have everything I need, and most of what I want.  So I wanted to give somebody else the opportunity to have what you and I take for granted.  Through Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition, people can and do have lives that work for them – they obtain jobs, buy their homes, live with dignity.  They have self-respect.

 
When you set out to do it, was there even the slightest clue that it would take on the grand proportions that it has? 
Absolutely not.

   Everything we do has a ripple effect. What have you seen happen as a  

  result of the loving and generous thing you have done?

A lot more people getting interested in Habitat.  A lot more people being selfless in their actions, including Bar and Bat Mitzvah kids taking on projects instead of taking in gifts.

 

What messages were you given at home that helped to create the person that you are?

Not a clue.  There are probably very subtle things that I missed, but my subconscious picked up.  My parents set a model for me by doing all the service work that they do.

 

How can other people make a difference in the lives of those that they may not even know?

 Give.  Give of their time.  Give money.  Give of themselves.
 
 
Here is an article that ran in The Baltimore Sun about Alexander’s gift.
 
 
This is the speech that Alexander offered on Sunday. You will be blown away by what he shared.
 

2/13/11

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

HOUSE DEDICATION

Habitat For Humanity

 

On Tuesday morning, ten days ago, a 17 year old boy by the name of Mitch Perlmeter died. He had a massive heart attack while getting ready for school. Mitch was the closest thing I’ve ever had to having a big brother. When I was scared, or stuck, or worried, Mitch was the one who let me know, “It’s gonna be alright.” I don’t have Mitch anymore. But I do have his steadiness still with me. There are, however, a lot of people who are living lives of desperation – on the street, or in compromised living conditions – people who do not have, and maybe have never had, someone to tell them, “It’s gonna be alright.”

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake gives people that kind of hope.

I started up with Habitat for Humanity for the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition because of my parents. My Dad was representing Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on the Board of the Interfaith Coalition. Because of this, Habitat was now on our radar and the timing was perfect because I needed to choose a service project for my Bar Mitzvah. The year before, for his Bar Mitzvah, one of my best friends, Alex Jerome, instead of getting gifts from everybody, asked his guests to bring in new toys for the kids at Kennedy Krieger. My Mom took a page from that notebook and suggested I have people donate money to Habitat instead of giving gifts for my Bar Mitzvah. I’ll admit it, I was hesitant at first. After all, what kid doesn’t want to be laden with a mountain of presents!? But I know that I live a privileged life. I have everything I need, and most of what I want. So I wanted to give somebody else the opportunity to have what you and I take for granted. Through Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition, people can and do have lives that work for them – they obtain jobs, buy their homes, live with dignity. They have self-respect.

When I met with Jayna Powell, Director of the Interfaith Coalition, I was very disappointed to find out that I couldn’t help build a house until I was sixteen. But I was glad that I could do something to help. I could raise money that was needed for a house to be built. Originally, I promised to raise $100,000 by myself, but, being twelve at the time, I didn’t have any idea how much money that really was! I failed. I did not raise the full amount needed. But I did manage to raise about $40,000. And a house is here because partners came in to help finance the remainder needed. Thanks to the Interfaith Coalition and Citigroup, not to mention all the people who planned, designed and actually built this house, Edward “Kenny” Fisher now has a home. It takes a lot of people to make this happen. It takes the partnership of everyone here and probably everyone you know to make homelessness something of the past. I didn’t raise $100,000. But I raised about $40,000. You might not raise $100,000, or even $40,000. You might just raise $20,000. Or $200. Or you might just reach into your pocket now and pull out a $20 bill. Did you know that $25 would buy a front or back entry light. $15 buys a mailbox. And $1 buys a light switch! It doesn’t matter how much you give or how much you raise. What matters is that you do it. Please give. Please ask others to give. It’s going to take all of us to let so many people know, “It’s gonna be alright.”

Mr. Fisher –

You have received a Bible from the Christian community and a Quran from the Muslim community. From my synagogue, representing the Jewish community, a tzedakah box was given to you so you could give to others like others have given to you. But I wanted to give you a gift that was just from me to you. This is a Tanakh. It is a collection of the Jewish Biblical writings both in Hebrew and in English. The reason I wanted to give you a Tanakh is because it represents the Jewish way of thinking, the foundations of our belief, what gives us our way of life. What gives me my way of life. I wanted to say to you personally, “It’s gonna be alright.” And I wanted you to have something that will always let you know, “It’s gonna be alright.” I also wanted to tell you that I’m counting on you to pass that on to others. Please. For my sake, and in honor of my friend, Mitch, but most of all for yourself, please let everyone you meet know, “It’s gonna be alright.” 

 

Yes, Alexander it really IS gonna be alright.  Thank you for reminding us.  <3

 

Greater Gift

One of the things that I love about being the scribe for the Bliss Blog is that it keeps me real, vulnerable and transparent and offers permission for others to do the same. That’s part of the message today. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, visualization, seed planting..call it what you will, outcomes are not as we expect them to be.  I had the opportunity to come face to face with that dynamic recently.  I was invited to be part of an event that had me on stage with amazing, powerful, passionate, talented women. That in and of itself is not really a stretch, since I think I was a born performer, accustomed to being visible even as a child…little Shirley Temple. Rarely have I had stage fright. What made it gulpy and stomach flipping was that my ‘performance’ was going to be critiqued by the audience and a panel of local celebrity judges. At the end of the evening, there would be two winners; the first chosen by the former, the second by the latter. 

In my nearly 30 years as a speaker, I have never been in that position. Of course, evaluations have been filled out after professional classes I have taught, but this had an entirely different flavor.  I went into the experience, well rehearsed and yet willing to be spontaneous. It was a sharing of 30 years of my life in five minutes…talk about time warp. I spoke of pain and pleasure, of challenge and triumph, of holy smokes experiences that still have me shaking my head in bewildered awe at how things turned out. Some of me stood apart from myself, witnessing this 52 year old who played “things I wish I knew when I was you” with the 22 year old self whose long haired, wistful photo stood beside me on a music stand loaned to me by my friend Annabella Wood. Behind it was strapped a set of pink and blue, glitter encrusted faerie wings, serving as a backdrop/frame. I wore my more mischievous red and purple, silk be-ribboned, feather fluttered wings embellished with a purple boa that my Mom had made for me years ago, draped across my shoulders. 

I felt self conscious and simultaneously detached. When it was all over and the trembling stopped, I sat down and enjoyed the next round of speakers as I had those who shared before me. Each one was a marvelous story teller, unfolding her own wisdom teaching before the mesmerized audience. Each deserved to win.

Once I completed my offering, the dialogue with the Divine went into high gear.  “I really wanna win; even though this is not about winning and everyone here is in support of each other’s talents and strengths and I nailed it (like an Olympic diver, entering the water with knife-like accuracy) and and and…”  Whew, take a breath, woman!  Re-entering, “Ok, I surrender outcome and trust that the highest good will prevail.”   Back and forth my mental marching went,  until the announcement came and two others were chosen.  A sense of thud….and also, a feeling of excitement and gladness for each of them, since they were also inspiring and entertaining.

Once I was in the car heading home, the screeching monkey mind thoughts kicked into high gear…”If you were as good as you thought you were, you would have been chosen…what does that tell you; you imposter?”   and then my wise self countered with “and you know, sweetie pie, that all things happen for a reason. What’s right about this situation?”  “Nothing.”, my petulant little kid pouted, lower lip stuck out.  “Come on now, you know better than that. Practice what you preach. What did you talk about tonight? If something isn’t as you want it to be, make a positive change; don’t complain, do something.” 

I called my friend Ondreah on the way home and told her all about my evening, including how I was readily able to shift my perception and was feeling ever so much better.  She counseled that I was once again, pushing past my feelings, ignoring that little girl who wanted to be validated and loved best of all. She encouraged me to tell my inner 4 year old it was ok and just let her feel, for goodness sake. When the time was right, I could return to the regularly scheduled programming of being (said tongue in cheek:)  a grown up and moving forward to the next life lesson. You’d better believe that I threw her one heck of a pity party, allowing her to rave for a short time and then I dragged her outa there when I realized that she and I were the only guests present…not much fun.  

Then a startling revelation struck pay dirt!

If I had ‘won’ the contest, I wouldn’t have learned what I was now immersed in…that as much as I present myself as being supremely self confident and assured, that is merely one dimension. There are so many aspects of this 52/22/4 year old wise woman-child that call out for acknowledgment and validation, not from the world, but from myself.  And THAT is the greater gift.                                                      

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