The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

The Face of God

Got your back

                                                                     

 

I have known my friend Janet Berkowitz since the early 1980’s when she laughed and hugged her way into my life via our mutual friend Alan Cohen. Back then, she held a secret that I didn’t know about until many years later. This artist, poet, mime…altogether creative soul had been experiencing the darkest depths of depression and carried on her shoulders a symbolic knapsack filled with boulders with the label suicide stamped on them. Over the years, she has been hospitalized several times, has been on psychotropic medications and has come close to ending her own life.  Those of us who know and love Janet, have ‘circled the wagons’ each time she has entered the swamp of despair and she has pulled through. I am inspired by her resilient spirit and her declarative statement SUICIDE DENIED!   I offer that as an affirmation to the patients I serve in my role as a psychiatric social worker. She and her husband are family of choice for me and for my son and I am eternally grateful that they are still here, since Phil has faced his fears as well. Please read her story and poem below and if you feel so inspired, please contact Janet and also pass this message on to people you know who may be contemplating suicide, and to their families and friends. Her message is that healing is possible.  This photo of the two of us was taken at a friend’s party this past 4th of July weekend and it is a brilliant testament to the ‘got your back’ concept. There have been many times when she was a solid support for me in the midst of crises, even as she has had her moments of feeling helpless and like she had nothing to offer.  I don’t remember the song we were dancing to, but I do remember feeling lighthearted.

This is Janet’s story called THE POWER OF PRAYER

The power of prayer! They call it that for a reason. It works…like a wonderful and mysterious charm. It certainly did for me.

From 2007 to early 2011, I had been dangerously depressed on and off, mostly on. All day and night long I would hear the endless, racing droning of the word ‘suicide’ in my head. This had occurred quite a number of times before, starting at age 8, when I was brutally teased. But it hadn’t ever lasted for more than a year. I never really wanted to actually do it. I had come to love life as an adult. I just wanted to stop the pain. Besides, I was terrified of what lay on the “other side” of death. Since 1984, when I found A Course in Miracles, which teaches that only love is real, I came to believe that death isn’t real. I feared being only a sickened mind floating around, possibly facing reincarnation as a fly.

This last bout of depression was the worst. I came closer to attempting suicide than ever before. When therapists asked why, there was no obvious answer. They chalked it up to Bipolar Disorder, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and Borderline Personality Disorder. They dug into my past and my relationship with my parents. They tweaked my medications repeatedly (since 1980 I’ve been on about 75% of the psyche drugs available). I voluntarily hospitalized myself many times (three times in a fourteen month period in 2008-09) and received 25 shock treatments over a six month period (2008-09). This didn’t help much, or did help only temporarily. I had tried multiple forms of natural and spiritual healing like acupuncture, reiki, and affirmations. I turned to fortune tellers, astrologers, and modalities whose names I can’t even recall. I had done the daily lessons in A Course in Miracles at least twice and even lived in community dedicated to its teachings. It’s not easy being suicidal when you view the body as an illusion (a primary message of ‘the Course’).

I was living in such constant terror that my doctor wanted to commit me to a state hospital. I feared spending the rest of my life in straight jacket, locked in a padded cell. I lied to get out of that situation. I never felt so alone, even with many loving people around me.

Then, in 2010, I started hearing another voice in my head that kept saying, “Don’t be a victim. Do something to address the issue of suicide. Use your talents to heal the problem”. I am an artist, mime and drama teacher and I knew that I could bring all of that to the mental health field, which desperately needs some lighteninging up. I called all over the country, but could not find anything for those who were suicidal, only groups for those who lost someone to suicide. I tried starting my own group online, but to no avail.

Finally, I discovered Suicide Anonymous, founded by a psychiatrist, who’d attempted suicide 7 times, before he began to pray to a Higher Power (the term for God used in Alcoholics Anonymous). As he applied the 12 Steps of A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) to his life, he healed. I was very familiar with the 12 Steps myself, having gotten clean and sober in 1987 with the help of A.A. and other 12 Step groups.

 So I started a Suicide Anonymous meeting in Philadelphia. Then I started one in Westampton, New Jersey with my husband, who’d made a suicide attempt once himself. Now, we are about to start another Suicide Anonymous meeting in Westmont, NJ. This has been such a safe haven in which to share my deepest darkest thoughts and feelings. He and I also created a workshop called, Creative Crisis Care: Taking Suicide Out of The Closet, which uses the arts and interactive exercises to approach the topic.

All of this was helping my mental health but I kept falling back into periods of extreme fear. Then one night I rolled out of bed and called out to God, “Please help me”. The next morning I felt the slightest bit better. I kept experimenting with this practice of prayer, which was relatively new in my life. One morning I awoke feeling so happy to be alive. For several months now, I’ve been really working on the first three steps of the 12 Steps, which are about establishing a constant contact with my understanding of a Higher Power.

There are infinite ways to reach a Higher Power and infinite concepts of what a Higher Power is. Sometimes for fun, I imagine myself sitting in an old diner, talking to this imaginary chef. He’s this big guy with a scraggly beard, whom I named GUS (God in Us) and he gives me spiritual advice.

For now a simple daily diet of prayer is what keeps me afloat. I recently recalled a visit to a mental hospital in 1987 for suicidal depression. I awoke every morning at 3:20 am on the dot, but was not allowed to leave the room or turn on the lights. The only thing I could think of doing was to get on my knees and pray. I’d ask God to heal me so I could help others with similar issues. Here I am, 25 years later, answering my own prayers. Now that’s the power of prayer!

If you’re interested in more information about Suicide Anonymous or her workshops and performances (she does mime pieces about mental health issues among other relevant topics, some of which appear on her Facebook page) call 856-266-0709. To find out more about Janet’s work, please visit her website at:

http://www.creativecommunicationbuilders.com and her Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Creative-Communication-Builders/190663990966459

 This is a poem that Janet wrote to express ‘the God of her understanding’ :

Face of God

By Janet Berkowitz

 

You are the face of God and you don’t even know it,

Or maybe you do but choose not to show it.

 You are as holy as the sun is bright.

You give the world your magnificent light.

 Even if it’s under a bushel,

It still shines ‘cause it’s so crucial.

 And your part in this incredible whole,

Is just as needed to heal the world’s soul.

 If you could just get it that one plus one is one,

I guarantee you’d have more fun.

 Be like the ocean, ever moving.

Keep your heart big and grooving.

 Know that I am always here,

Ready to soak up every joy and tear.

 Leap to the sky with all your might.

Feel my love holding you ever so tight.

 Love, God

 

 

Sonic Steam Bath

                                                                      Mridanga

First night of 4th of July weekend, in vacay mode, I headed down Broad Street into Center City Philly with my friend Ondreah to attend what I just knew would be an amazing evening. Combine the ingredients of kirtan, kindred spirits, drumming, dancing, Indian vegetarian cuisine all held in a yoga studio and how could it be anything other?  After a long and hectic day at work, I found myself taking deep breaths behind the wheel, as holiday weekend traffic and alternately catching and missing lights had me mildly frustrated. I reminded myself that all was in perfect flow and that we would find the ideal parking spot (rare at 15th and Sansom, for those who know the area); in my family, referred to as ‘an Uncle Jimmy spot’, since my mother’s brother Jim ALWAYS found the best spaces.  I have snagged spots where I found money next to the car…as much as $20 one time, a space in Manhattan at rush hour right in front of the door of the building I was to enter and on this night, a block away from  Center Siddhi Yoga which focuses on Bikram Yoga; created by Bikram Choudhury, founder of Yoga College of India. One of the hallmarks of this form of hatha yoga is that the room in which it is practiced in studios is heated to 105 degrees to maximize the benefits of the practice, according to those who teach it.

A few years ago, I had taken one  Bikram class and found the intensity level and temperature to be excessive. This time, I climbed the three flights of stairs, ascending to a room that already had at least 50 people sitting on the floor, on cushions and chairs and standing, attempting to be comfortable in conditions that may only have been slightly less torrid, as they immersed themselves in the music of a group of artists called The Mayapuris. I have long loved rhythm and chanting, the rocking back and forth heart beat of it all and these folks did not disappoint:) Enthusiastic performers, they offered forth their praise to the Divine  Masculine and Feminine in the form of call and response chants. Ironically, the more I danced, the cooler I felt, with sweat dripping down my body. I literally felt as if I was in a sonic steam bath. Their talents and backgrounds are multi-faceted; from hardcore punk to classic Indian flute and drumming as well as a complicated song style called konnakol or vocal percussion. I think of it as ‘drum scatting’. It sounds like jazz impov, but is quite deliberate and methodical in its tonings.

I was fascinated with the playing of the mridanga and tabla drums; wanting to learn both. They were irrepressable siren calls to this get-up-off my-butt-and-move improvisational, free form dancer. For several hours, I joined what turned out to be 60-some metaphysical movers and shakers. Some were young ‘uns in their single digits and many were in the 5th and 6th decades of life; all with one thing in common…a love of life expressed musically. Many of them I have known for years from the yoga community, some with faces for which I couldn’t attach names.

After the kirtan, which lasted beyond the set ending time, since the audience and the group were carried away by the ecstatic energy, we were invited to nourish ourselves physically with food lovingly served by Govinda’s which is a legendary Indian restaurant on South Street. Hearing the sounds of enthusiastic revelers, breathing in the aroma of the rice, veggies, tofu and seitan enhanced by sweet and spicy sauces, savoring the tastes were part and parcel of this full sensory experience.

Listening to the Mayapuris’ new CD called Mridanga, which features the same melodic magic and percussive pleasures as did their concert AND the bonus of guest artists Jai Uttal and Benjy Wertheimer,  on the way home, I re-lived the experience; having a hard time keeping my feet still while driving, so I settled for steering wheel tapping and shoulder swaying instead. Listening to their music now as I am typing this, I have the luxury of moving my feet and my happy heart. 

www.mayapuris.com

www.bikramphiladelphia.com

Reclaiming Aphrodite

                                                                     Reclaiming Aphrodite-The Journey to Sexual Wholenes

Aphrodite is known as the Greek Goddess of beauty, love and sexuality. As the story goes, she rose fully formed from the sea.  Her lovers were many. Clearly, she was a woman who knew her own power. As I am typing this, I am looking at a small statue that I have on my nightstand that is of her image. Aphrodite reminds me of the importance of a healthy sense of sexuality. But what happens when, because of sexual abuse, our impulses become stunted, stagnated, exaggerated or addictive? Some of the answers can be found in Amrita Grace’s book entitled Reclaiming Aphrodite: The Journey To Sexual Wholeness 

Based in Hawaii, Amrita is a sex educator, intimacy and relationship coach and author who, along with her husband Apollo offers sessions for individuals and couples. She has come along way from being Kimmy, the one who experienced sexual wounding in childhood. As a result, her sense of self was thwarted and she found herself on a path of sexual addiction in an effort to redeem some portion of control. Paradoxically, it sent her spiraling out of control as all addictions inevitably do. She sets the stage by framing sexual addiction as ‘chemical dependency’ since the ways in which sexual feelings may land in the mind and body of the person in question, mirror those that a drug addict may feel when craving and then getting their ‘fix’.  She asks several questions that may help someone who is wondering whether they too are experiencing sexual addiction. Samples include:

Do you have feelings of shame or guilt during or after sex?

Do you coerce or pressure others into having sex with you?

Do you use sex with others as a way to punish your partner?

Do you put yourself at risk for sexually transmitted diseases or violence?

Amrita indicates that if the reader can answer yes to any of these questions, then there is something to explore further.

The book is a journey through healing into recovery as seen through the lenses of the chakra system. The word comes from Sanskrit and means ‘wheel’. Chakras are considered swirling energy vortices. Each one has a representative purpose, color, symbol and sound and can be used as guides to determine areas of our lives that call out for healing.

There are also meditation/visualization exercises, journaling, setting intention, deepening spiritual practice ideas contained in the book.

By the end  Amrita expresses gratitude that she has emerged from her self destructive patterns into a sense of integrity and and honoring the complete woman she has become. She is what I think of as a thriver, since she continues to reach out to those in need who may have been or may still be in the perilous place in which she once dwelled.

www.grace-awakening.com

www.amritagrace.com         

Creating Powerful Exuberance

                                                                  

I first encountered  Deremiah *CPE; this whirwlind of wonder a few years ago through the Inspire Me Today website and although we have not met in person, it is easy to feel the warmth and love that he exudes. I dare you to look into this face and refrain from smiling and laughing. I betcha’ can’t :) Unabashedly enthusiastic, bubbling over with positivity, he uplifts and encourages those he reaches through his artistry; graphic and through the written and spoken word. He challenges people to go beyond the beyond, co-creating a world in which we are all cared for, acknowleged and treasured.  May his intentions come to manifest magnificently and return to him a million-fold.

How do you live your Bliss?

Everyday I live my Bliss in Love with the intention of leaving the world better than what I found it. Often I am Inspiring and Mentoring those in need of peace of mind, clarity and an increase in self-esteem!

You are a multi-cultural fusion; how did that impact on the life you have chosen for yourself?

Knowing quite a bit of my ancestral heritage beginning with the European English and Irish, the Native American Indian (Black Choctaw) and the African has influenced how I see the world tremendously different than most people. It means that I have ancestors that come from  three continents that I know of right now. But when we understand that the oldest living human remains that were discovered came out of Africa we all must look back to Africa as our origination according to scientific research.  We are all just an evolution that has evolved from our planetary migration.  My look at the world is not without completely understanding that above all of the knowledge of my genetic connections with people from all over the earth I am tied to the human race in a deeper way still.  Because we are Spiritual beings having a human experience a person like me enters each day loving the human idea that we are one.  This has impacted the life I have chosen and the person I have become in a huge way.  It allows me to operate looking at each being as a person of Love who only truly really desires to know themselves as the Love they know they need and want to express.  Since my desires have always been to express Love it is easy to see how I have attracted those deeper experiences.  You can see them quite clearly in my life going all the way back to my far reaching military travels as a military brat. That life allowed me to live in all four cardinal quadrants of the United States.  While in Europe my travels were very extensive connecting with people of all cultures in many of these experiences. This is the backdrop out of which my Love for people has been weaved allowing me to display a beautiful tapestry with a unique Love for everyone.

What have you learned about resilience?  Why do you think some people rebound while others succumb to the effects of trauma and life challenges?

My parents were the first mentors I had who helped me to understand the importance of being resilient.  I learned about resilience from them while in poverty where I completely got it that one could be in poverty without making poverty a way of life if they understood how to be resilient.  Apart from my parents I learned to listen to the voice of resilience as it would speak. Resilience taught me that without FLEXIBILITY in your Focus and Concentration on the belief of one’s purpose you may Superstitiously IMAGINE that when things are Changing you are moving further away from who you should be developing into.  This is far from the truth of our experiences and why we even have them.  Resilience is one of the areas where I have coached thousands of people and believe we should be mentoring others to understand more clearly.  Few people rebound from the trauma of life challenges without becoming permanently damaged in their emotions by the experiences because they have a good VISION of their Purpose.  It is so apparent that a lot of people get eaten up and consumed by T&T…Tragedy and Trauma because they lose sight of their VISION or maybe they never truly had one in mind.  When Trauma moves in it ushers in the change that most people repel because they have never been fully trained in how to respond to Challenge and Adversity.  During what people call tough economic times many people faint and have hardships they never truly overcome all because they never were mentored properly to understand how CHANGE WORKS in our Favor! I have been fortunate to teach people how to understand this subject more clearly but I very rarely speak on it publicly anymore and even more rarely coach and mentor people on the subject. But from time to time I meet up with the right person I Feel is ready and we work out a mutual agreeable mentoring opportunity.

Please talk about your work with at-risk children, having been one yourself.

As a  child I grew through an at-risk experience that changed my life forever and drove me back deeper into my purpose of being intentional about creating happiness in ones life.  When you come to the edge of being on the verge of committing suicide you are in a place no one should ever have to imagine for themselves.  At 16 years old that’s where I was and I only go back their to help pull kids and adults out of the abyss.  I count myself fortunate because I have worked with at-risk children for most of my life volunteering, donating and even being employed to encourage them to a whole new level. So most  of my life I have been doing it on a part time basis until the past 9 years where I have had the ultimate experience of mentoring children who where at-risk up close and personal. I have a decree I believe that I say often…”Bring me your at-risk child and if they can Change I will be the catalyst to inspire that change in them!”  I have been fortunate to have that kind of IMPACT on hurting children who really are looking for a way out of the vicious cycle of being at risk to themselves or others.  A great deal of children meet the description of the At-Risk model but many of them are just as normal as all the other kids accept they need more love. Currently I am moving into opportunity’s to play a bigger role through advocacy and philanthropic projects.  Right now I am releasing a song called “Stand For Peace” that will make 24.99% of the revenue for record sales to causes centered around children who are at-risk.  

How did the CPE aspect of your name come to be?

It’s actually *CPE which is the acronym that I use which I shape the words to fit around every project I’m working on. Originally it begin when I was working in the Security Industry as a Security Consultant and I was known as the * CPE = Customer Passion Evangelist.  Right now my projects are centered around *CPE = Creating Powerful Exuberance.  

What does it mean to you to ‘serve exuberantly’?

Serving exuberantly means to “Please Others” not Focusing on one’s own desires.  It also means to give yourself to the aid of someone else in a HAPPY way (not holding back or giving them the things you like).  It’s not about me giving you what I think you need to be Happy but it becomes very important that we learn to explore what makes other people happy and then serve them in that way.  It is purely going out to please someone in the way that they love.

You inspire so many others. Who or what inspires you?

 I am what I call “Self Inspired” first through INSPIRING others…sort of like a gyroscope uses the momentum that started it to spin to continue spinning.  When I Make someone HAPPY it makes me HAPPY but it is the thought that resonates in me.  I know before I begin that it will make someone else Happy and that thought of Happiness makes me Happy which INSPIRES me to take ACTION bringing forth the result that adorns both giver and receiver to be eternally Blissfully HAPPY!!! LOLLL!!!


How do you stand for peace?

 I “Stand For Peace” in the actions that I desire to see exemplified in the world by others.  As Ghandi said “Be the Change”. So everyday I stand for Peace by seeing my self as a Performance Artist for LOVE & PEACE…CREATING IMAGES of Peace for others through public speaking, words in poetry, images in video & pictures and through my writings & interactions online.  I stand for PEACE by Living it and being intent on CREATING it first in my Imagination through visualization and then in my Actualization through Manifestation.


What is your vision for the world?

I AM my VISION for the World…when you see me in Action Loving people Unconditionally, Encouraging them effortlessly, Inspiring them constantly & consistently…you are taking in my VISION for the world.  As an artist I LIVE what I Believe and I BELIEVE in LOVE & PEACE. What is my vision for the world? “I AM my VISION for the World!”

Please share about your song Stand For Peace that will be out on Independence Day. ( Include a link:)

Coming Soon July 4th, The World Premiere release hit song by Deremiah “STAND For PEACE”…the only INDEPENDENCE gained by Lovefare

Bio info: Winner of the coveted Nightingale Conant “Acres of Diamonds” Award for the thousands of lives I’ve changed as I’ve shared my story of love. I was a teenager when I almost committed Suicide and gave up on life but now I’m so glad I didn’t. At the age of 16 after my parents’ divorce,  I hit a low point in my life. I felt like no one loved me and it really seemed like nobody cared. In that experience I learned to understand what it means to feel lonely and without love. I was lost in the valley of darkness and despair where I had to learn how to love me all over again. Over the past several years I’ve learned a lot of people have felt this same kind of pain. Mostly because of their parents broken relationships or problems in their own relationships. Any way you look at it, many people have been wounded and really wish they could love or find the peace that passes all understanding.  Well if you have felt this way it will be so much easier for you to understand why I’ve created two very powerful songs that will move us all toward LOVE & PEACE again. 
These songs offer us powerful insight and in the chorus of these songs the solution. They tell us why our communities and the world needs  “More Love” and why we need to “Stand for Peace”.  My World premiere release of “Stand For Peace” will be coming out on July 4th, 2011 beginning on my Facebook page Deremiah/Muscian-band page. On the left side of the page is a Green symbol with the words My Store…click on this!
 
  
Business Bio background & Awards: Deremiah *CPE, Customer Passionate Executive is a “Top 25″ Marketing Expert on  Marketingprofs.com . This Nightingale Conant Award-Winning Speaker, Artist & Inventor  has shown hundreds of Customer Passion Evangelist, CEO`s, Consultants and Sales people how to use his simple techniques in serving to get big results.  Using the Servant`s Mentality to help you expand the footprint of your Social Media Relationships while increasing customer retention is where Deremiah brings you the most value. Winning the coveted “Acres of Diamonds” award from Nightingale-Conant places Deremiah *CPE among noted speakers like Brian Tracy, Les Brown, Dennis Waitely, Jay Abraham and Stephen Covey.

 
Business Management guru Peter Drucker said “the only reason why a company is in business is to serve a customer”.  Today Deremiah is using his song stand for Peace to share with you what he believes to be one of the most critical Mind Shifts that anyone who ever plans to become successful must go through. The shift to a PEACE consciousness. This could be the breakthrough paradigm of this generation because with every person Deremiah teaches about this approach to life people end up living much happier lives because of it.  In his life experience successfully SERVING others and moving them towards a Peace consciousness has become the key principle upon which he begins every relationship regardless of whether that relationship is business driven, social media driven or just purely friendship driven. 
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