The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

The Gratitude Power Workbook

                                                                                      

If there is an address at which I would most desire to live, it would have gratitude in the street name, since I have discovered that the road to a life of pleasure and passion, purpose and love, success and service, is paved with appreciation.  That is one of the many reasons I enjoyed reading a sweet little book called The Gratitude Power Workbook, written by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons. These two authors, conscious entrepreneurs and journalists have also penned the best seller Living Life As A Thank You.

It is based on the concept that the essence of gratitude touches on every aspect of our existence and that the book itself is timely, because people are becoming aware of how very much there is for which they can express thanks. Rather than focusing on what is wrong, the authors encourage readers to turn their attention to what is right. The rewards are endless. They speak of the idea that being grateful, leads to being ‘greatful’.

It is a user friendly guide with exercises that the authors declare are ‘road tested’, so that they are not pie in the sky ideals, but grounded in practical reality. They encourage surrounding yourself with grateful people, since like attracts like. It contains ideas such as using visual cues to be aware of gratitude moments, making gratitude lists, setting intention with clarity, meditation on that which to say thanks, dooodlng, chanting, prayer, creating a gratitude dream board, as well as collecting and giving away gratitude rocks.

Sprinkled throughout are inspiring quotes and anecdotes that beckon personal inquiry and room to journal your own  ideas. Written in purple and orange ink that feels vibrant and energizing, this book is an important call to action for anyone who wants to live a life , according to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa by which “The winds of grace blow all the time. All we need do is set our sails.”

 www.vivaeditions.com

 One of my favorite gratitude songs  Kind and Generous by Natalie Merchant http://youtu.be/rdG618TMc5E

 

Preparation

                                                 

 

Saw this quote today from Oprah (the one-named wonder who has become synonymous with reinvention, re-creation and transformation)

“Nothing about my life is lucky. Nothing. A lot of grace, a lot of blessings, a lot of divine order, but I don’t believe in luck. For me, luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunity. There is no luck without you being prepared to handle that moment of opportunity. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for the moment that is to come.”

As I considered how this has played out in my life, I think back to the times when I resisted taking action that I knew could move me along in certain areas. I delayed, dragged my feet, dug in my heels for fear of both failure and success. Yesterday, while sitting in my office, I looked over at the photo I keep there of my 22 year old self. Long chocolate/auburn highlighted hair streaming down courduroy covered shoulders as I sat perched on a stool. This 52 year old elfin-shorn haired woman is amazed at how naive this younger version of me was, how much she still had to learn. It is a bridge I have crossed from where I was to where I am and as I gaze backward across the span, I marvel.

The dialog between us went something like this:  “Do you have any clue what it’s going to take for you to span 3 decades? The loves and losses, the confusion and challenges, the dark nights of the soul, the triumphs and travels, the people you will encounter.”  to which she responded “Bring it on!”  Then I asked her to consider what would have happened had she chosen a different career path; such as journalism, rather than psychology and social work. She shrugged and answered that had she made that selection, my life would have taken a whole ‘nother turn and I might not have had the deeply fulfilling spiritual experiences that have so enriched me and continue to influence my writing. Heck, I might not be writing this right now. Because I pursued a BA in Psychology at Glassboro State College, I worked at a counseling center called Together Inc. and met people who have been some of the deepest delights in my life, introducing me to all kinds of creative and spiritual practices. All these years later, we are still dear friends.  AND because I went there, I met my friend Albert Borris who encouraged me to go to Outward Bound  in 1981. He has gone as well, a few times over the years and knew how powerful it would be for me. There I learned how to make positive changes in my life, rather than complaining over what wasn’t as I would have it be.

Because I engaged in those practices, I opened to spiritual guidance and listened to the “Voice” that led me to forgo a trip to Russia in 1986 and instead, go to Philadelphia to hear Ram Dass speak. That night, I met the man who was to become my husband and with whom I published Visions Magazine for 10 years. As a result, I had the extreme joy of interviewing hundreds of transformational speakers, teachers, healers, performers, peace and social justice activists. Since we sold the publication in 1998, six months prior to Michael’s death, I have been a free-lance journalist and have waltzed through open doors that have me writing about even more movers and shakers; including His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

Because I went to grad school at Rutgers and earned my MSW, I have been able to serve many thousands of people as a social worker and now teach continuing ed classes for others in the field.

Because of Michael’s passing, I learned one of the most epic lessons ever “Everyone in your life is on loan to you.”, so I appreciate them all. I welcome new friends and never know how someone who enters will enhance and enliven it. I call them overlapping soul circles and laugh when I realize that because I met particular people who knows how many years ago, I am enjoying the sensual delights of listening to a CD sent by a musician I met at a party, or indulging in a decadent treat with a new friend, or taking a heart opening class  or wearing a piece of jewelry received as a gift, or reading an inspiring book written by an author I happened to encounter on facebook, or being in a drumming circle or walking through a park, or splashing in the ocean.

When I have resisted change symbolically kicking and screaming, I have to ask myself why, since it is inevitable and when I haven’t received that which I thought I wanted, it has indeed prepared me for something even more marvelous. I have been increasingly willing to do the leg work to accomplish my goals and see my visions come to fruition. Everything from shedding weight, to completing my book, from cleaning my Jeep to weeding the garden and doing the laundry. I am totally open to doing the prep work/play to gather in the abundant harvest.

What seeds have you planted?

What harvest do you want to gather?

What bridges have you crossed?

What spans still await?

 

 http://youtu.be/hpTJzl7nleI  The Secret of Life by James Taylor

That I Would Be Good

 

                                                                           Oval Framed Mirror clipart

Even the most confident among us sometimes gaze into the mirror of our souls or the reflective glass and are harshly critical of the one who peers back at us. As much as I know I am perfectly imperfect or imperfectly perfect, (just like you:) the monkey mind sometimes grabs ahold of my heart and ain’t about to let go without a tussle.  She tells me things like I will never be, do, or have my heart’s desires, and attempts to convince me that things are moving way too slowly. And then I hear this song and am instantly reminded of what is so…that I am and we are beautiful creations of the One who has divine design in mind. It brought my attention to a time in my life when I had a conversation with a friend who encouraged me to take inventory of all that I had accomplished in the previous 10 years as if I was looking at someone else’s life.  In that way, I could, with relative objectivity, be amazed by it, rather than judgmental that is still wasn’t ‘enough’. Does this sound familiar to you as well?

I invite you to make that same list.  What experiences have you had that (despite what your inner critic would have you believe) tell you with undeniable clarity and certainty, that you are succesful?

What if you knew that good enough was good enough and that you were acceptable AS IS even as you endeavored to stretch and grow?

That I Would Be Good

by Alanis Morisette

That I would be good
Even if I did nothing
That I would be good
Even if I got a thumbs-down
That I would be good
If I got and stayed sick
That I would be good
Even if I gained ten pounds

That I would be fine
Even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good
If I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great
If I was no longer queen
That I would be grand
If I was not all-knowing

That I would be loved
Even when I numb myself
That I would be good
Even when I’m overwhelmed
That I would be loved
Even when I was fuming
That I would be good
Even if I was clingy

That I would be good
Even if I lost sanity
That I would be good
With or without you

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=44TRkB9dxvE

 

 

 

The Heart of Courage

 

                                               

My friend Orrie gave me a copy of Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s inspirational book entitled The Aladdin Factor. The image of the magic lamp adorns the cover that contains the words of these two dynamic speakers and authors. Over the years I have had the pleasure of interviewing Mark once and Jack twice. Each time, their tried and true wisdom leapt out at me and I made sure not to get out the way when it did, but instead, embraced it. The story of how The Chicken Soup For The Soul line came to be is literary legend.  Something like 144 rejections came their way before a publisher with foresight grabbed hold for the ride and now over 115 million copies have sold round the world.  The Aladdin Factor focuses on the idea of asking for and being open to receving your heart’s desires.  Many things keep us from doing that; from fear of both success and failure to a sense of unworthiness, from the belief that it won’t occur, to a history of rejection that has us thinking it will always be that way.

I began perusing it this morning and opened at random to page 95 and came upon this paragraph headline:  “Realize that everyone else is afraid too.”  It goes on to say “It is very liberating when you realize that everyone else is walking around just about as afraid as you are.” Most people who know me would say that I come across as being self assured and relatively fearless. Guess what…it’s an act..uh oh…  now you know that the ‘Empress has no clothes. ‘  How freeing it feels to admit that. Now there is no more facade to keep up. See, the thing is, being fearless isn’t the ideal. It is being aware of where fear can be helpful since it keeps us from walking down a dark alley at midnight or entering a lion’s cage either literally or figuratively. Living in a perpetual state of fear, however is limiting and disabling.  What I have learned to do is recognize my fears, even list them and then face them head-on…well sometimes side-long, sometimes sneaking up on them before they can creep up on me. Most of the time I don’t allow fear to stop me as I echo the words of Susan Jeffers; “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” It doesn’t mean that I live recklessly, but rather lushly and courageously.

I love the word ‘courage’, since it comes from the French word couer which means ‘heart’, so that to live courageously is to come from the heart. What if, in any situation where fear lurks about could be faced with heart wide open, leading the way?  I have discovered that when I do that, fear evaporates like fog on a newly sunny day. Sometimes it takes courage to begin a relationship, sometimes to end one when it carries with it more ‘oy than joy’.  Raising a child calls for more courage than you could imagine, as does watching that newly minted adult sprout wings and fly independently. Writing a book, painting a picture, auditioning for a play, starting a business, financial problems, living with illness or other physical challenge, surviving abuse or trauma, losing a spouse/partner, sibling, child or parent to death; all of these beckon courage.  I am blessed to know many survivors/thrivers of such circumstances. I’m sure you do too…perhaps you fall into one or more of those categories. I certainly do.

Some ideas for identifying your ‘courage curve’

Make a list of what you most fear.

Ask yourself if any of these have actually come to be.

If they have, ask yourself what you believe and tell yourself about these situations.

How have you moved through fear into courage?

Know that your history is not your destiny.

How can you live courageously?

Let your heart take wing.

So let it be~

http://youtu.be/u6P4jI8t-0I  Strength, Courage & Wisdom  by India.Arie

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