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The Bliss Blog

 

 

 

Coming upon this aptly titled song this morning (although I have heard it before), was Divinely timed. Singer-songwriter Julie Gold (writer of the anthemic From A Distance) had it on her Facebook page and it put  a smile on my face, because of its poignant message and because I have had the joy of meeting and interviewing the man singing it. Pete Seeger is considered an icon of the folk music world and with good reason. He has always written and performed pieces that have emerged from his conscience and his heart. Now at 93 and amazingly spry and resilient, he is stilling singing out strong. Those of us of a certain age will know that he wrote If I Had A Hammer, Turn, Turn, Turn and Where Have All The Flowers Gone?  They were staples in my childhood and likely helped to form my social conscience as well.

The past two weeks have brought with it, ample opportunity to exercise our collective social conscience. Here on the East Coast of the United States, people faced an act of nature that brought with it, rising and falling waters, as well as tempestuous winds that caused devastation and destruction.  Dubbed “Frankenstorm” and “Superstorm Sandy”, it reminded me of the experience our family had in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew ripped through Homestead, Florida and took our house with it. As it did then,  and as it does in any meterological event, it brought out both the best and worst in human nature. Fortunately, price gouging and looting were far overshadowed by altruism and people really taking care of each other and the animals that were impacted by the storm. Family, friends and strangers alike were rising to the occasion, rising above the flood waters, as it were, to offer prayers, shelter, showers, phone and computer charging, food, water, transportation, money.  Would that this be the case all year round, without a crisis precipitating these acts of kindness. As I  am typing these words, ensconced in my cozy home that has electricity, solid walls and ceiling and running water,  countless homes are still without those creature comforts that we often take for granted.

Earlier in the week, in the midst of the Presidential election, folks again were called on to put aside political affiliation and see those on the other side of the divide, as people with different opinions….not the enemy. Regardless of whether you are happy with the outcome of the election, it is essential that we all do what we can to, as I have said alot lately, “feed the collective soup pot.”  One person can’t do it alone. No governmental leader has a magic wand. And just as we human beings count on God (whoever/whatever you perceive that Source to be)  for our sustenance and support, my take is that God counts on us too to come together and see beyond ideology. There is no room for hatred. We simply can’t, as a species, afford it if we want to thrive.

Last night, I was having a conversation with a woman who has a strong sense of faith that has carried her through all kinds of loss. She is one of the most bubbly and vibrant people I have ever met…smiling and scattering love wherever she goes. She told me that she “loves the Lord so much,” and tells Him (as she thinks of the Divine) that she can’t help but tell other people how much they are loved. She isn’t preachy, she simply lives her faith in her actions and her words.

So, how can God count on you today?

http://youtu.be/cvnsB_kVNYI God’s Counting On Me, God’s Counting On You-Pete Seeger

My friend and fellow wordsmith Jacob Nordby (author of The Divine Arsonist) has created a sensation with these simple phrases that have been showing up all over the internet.  There is a method to his madness as he and sister weirdo Barb Black are designing a product line meant to highlight the importance of honoring diversity and uniqueness, rather than seeing anyone different as odd or outcast.  Enter the world of Blessed Are The Weird. When I first saw this, I laughed knowingly. I have always felt a little strange, telling my parents that I was an alien baby left on their doorstep. I imagine that many who are reading this might let their freak flag fly too and claim their wonderful weirdness.

How would you define the word ‘weird’?

“Weird” to me just means: a different way of seeing the world. It means that gift of an anomalous perspective which opens a peephole of genius perception.

Where did the idea come from for Blessed Are The Weird?

I wrote the words “Blessed Are The Weird People – the poets, misfits, writers, mystics, heretics, painters and troubadours – for they teach us to see the world through different eyes” during a time in my life when I was finally learning to embrace my own gifts. I was stunned at the response! People shared it over 60,000 times via Facebook and many other places. They wrote me letters and expressed how grateful they were to finally feel okay with owning who they really are.
This led me to know that there is a deep yearning in many people for belonging and expression of their most precious gifts.
I’m far too busy to start another project, but this one wouldn’t leave me alone.
As much as anything else, the idea sprang from my own journey from feeling alone and “weird” in this world into full acceptance of myself. I want everyone to know just how brilliant they are.
How can we turn what would be considered a pejorative term into something glowingly positive and desirable?

My purpose in this is to re-frame the meaning of the word itself. I want the “normal” world to better see the genius which lies within so many who might not fit a certain societal model of looks or be able to navigate socially with ease. I want people to understand that Einstein and Edison and Anais Nin and you, Edie, are brilliantly weird. We value the big names and allow them freedom to be eccentric, but it is my deep conviction that everyone harbors genius within. Those who live on the fringes of society are often in better touch with their genius, but they don’t know how to express it in ways the rest of the world can understand. I want them to have more space to do just that in our culture.

Who will this project benefit?

Blessed Are The Weird will benefit many by virtue of displaying their work on our site. But we have committed to give a portion of the proceeds from all sales of “Weird Gear” to organizations which work with Bullied Kids in schools.

What do you think is at the root of bullying?

Fear. Any bully is afraid of him or herself. They see in a weaker, weirder person an aspect of themselves that they are terrified will come out.

What can people do to support those who feel like they don’t fit in…the square peg as it were?

The greatest possible gift any of us square pegs can get is love and encouragement. You have given me this gift time after time. I’m very grateful for that. If people like you and several other very dear friends hadn’t come along with critical encouragement, I wouldn’t have had the courage to share my best stuff with the world.

What risks do you take each day in the service of weirdness, while still maintaining a foothold in the so-called normal world of being a family and professional man?

That’s a great question, Edie. Almost every day I am confronted with the choice whether to try to appear “professional” (or successful or smart, or whatever) or share what is begging to be born. I’ve been blessed with friends from around the world who are the wind beneath my wings and keep encouraging me. There are some awkward, vulnerable moments, but I’m learning better every day that I belong here and have something valuable to share–as we all do.

When you wrote the ‘weird’ beatitude, did you ever imagine it would go viral?

I am completely flummoxed by all of this. I know that these words and the feelings they evoke are not mine. They came through me and I’m just grateful to be of service.

 

Jewel’s song “Life Uncommon” is absolutely my theme song.

If people want to get involved with the launch of the site, we have just 11 days left on the Indiegogo campaign:

 

www.yourawakenedself.com

 

 

“We Can’t Solve Problems By Using The Same Kind Of Thinking We Used When We  Created Them” Albert Einstein

Simple logic, huh? Consider how much time is spent doing just that. As a therapist who is trained to help people untangle dilemmas and figure out what makes them and everyone else in their lives tick, I used to think of myself as a ‘go-to problem solver’. These days, I much prefer calling myself a ‘solution finder’, since if I use the former description, the focus is still on the word ‘problem’.

The free online dictionary defines it in this way:

1. A question to be considered, solved, or answered: math problems; the problem of how to arrange transportation.

2. A situation, matter, or person that presents perplexity or difficulty: was having problems breathing; considered the main problem to be his boss.
3. A misgiving, objection, or complaint: I have a problem with his cynicism.
adj.

1. Difficult to deal with or control: a problem child.
2. Dealing with a moral or social problem: a problem play.

Idiom:

no problem

Used to express confirmation of or compliance with a request.
Middle English probleme, from Old French, from Latin problma, problmat-, from Greek, from proballein, to throw before, put forward : pro-, before; see pro-2 + ballein, bl-, to throw; see gwel- in Indo-European roots.]
What fascinates me about the description is the origin, immediately above….to throw before or put forward. What if problems were simply whatever is right in front of us that we need to address rather than the monster we make them out to be? Further, what if they were just the exercise equipment on which we work out that make us stronger, more flexible, resilient or vital?
Think back to issues that you have faced in your life that you wondered how you would ever resolve. It could be as simple as how you would get to work on time in the midst of a blizzard or as potentially devastating as the death of a loved one. In this moment, the truth is, you found a way to get through it all, because you are here reading this article. You and I and every breathing person on the planet has survived everything that has ever occurred. I know from personal experience that in the midst of the crisis, I am at a choice point, a cross roads, if you will. I can turn left or right, stay where I am, move forward or take a step back…only those five options. If I am in worry mode, I am less capable of making beneficial choices than if I approach that decision with discernment and as much of a sense of calm as I can gather together. Having been raised by parents who, although not formally educated, had street smarts and the certainty that all would work out well, even in the throes of and especially in the midst of challenges, I have learned that skill. My father would say “If that’s the worst thing that ever happens to you, you’ll be ok.” and then work with me to look at possible options. Later in life, my mother adopted what I call her  que sera sera attitude as she would offer “What will be, will be,” when I asked her how she felt about her end of life journey. I have also become adept at ‘seat of the pants’, resolution. Yesterday in the office where I counsel clients facing addictions, I did alot of reframing of the life stuff they bring in with them, sometimes at the speed of thought. Sometimes it feels like walking through an apple orchard and picking ripe fruit from the trees that hang overhead and tossing them to the client, hoping he or she will catch it, take a big juicy bite and digest the concepts. Other times, it seems like digging into fertile soil, intending to plant seeds that may take awhile to grow into a gorgeous blossom. Both take leaps of faith.
There are times when the simple soul-ution; the answer that arises from my soul and not just my logically thinking mind, comes when I’m not even focusing on the issue at hand and like our friend Albert, I simply take the time to kick back and chillax.

Creativity is my life blood, although the  expression is generally in the form of words on a page, drumming, singing and movement to music. I usually dress colorfully and today, I donned a lavender hoodie that reads  Create Your Bliss that I acquired on Saturday  while at the Mind Body Spirit Expo in Philadelphia. The purveyor was Ron Dinehart, he too a creative kindred spirit from The Universe Knows, which makes items with three word affirmations inscribed on them. Beneath it were plum hued soft cotton plush pants, followed by raspberry sparkly socks and the pièce de résistance….rainbow splashed heart, star and moon shoes that  I originally got 15 years or more ago when I began clowning around. I had wanted clown shoes in which I could dance around, rather than the big, floppy variety. I decided to dress that way today to brighten my own mood. See, most people see the image that I choose to project…the light, the dazzle, the effervescence…when that isn’t always the case. In the past few years, most notably since my beloved mother made her transition, I have noticed a flattening of my moods; not depression, as my well trained, psychiatric social worker’s mind is quick to chime in. More introspective and less the social gadabout that I have been most of my life. It feels like taking pause; a resting pose, as in yoga.

 

I decided to join a few friends at a wonderland for artists of all kinds called Alchemy Open Arts Studio in Doylestown, PA shephered by my friend Renee Bures who is a talented art therapist. Imagine if you will, a warehouse filled with art supplies that include paint, clay, a kiln in which to bake it, fabric, markers, beads, glue, jewelry pieces, carboard, construction paper,  letters, googley eyes for dolls, shards of glass, metal, ceramic, boxes, magazines….and the best part is, you can meander freely from medium to medium, mixing them, changing your mind, letting the Muse guide you. A musical mix creates the soundscape and the laugher and oohhs and ahhs from the folks gathered there as they appreciated each others’ handiwork, filled the air. All different kinds of tea bolstered us as well. One of the most playful aspects of the space is a swing that is connected to the piping above. Of course I couldn’t resist. Before collecting the items I wanted, I covered my clothes with a man’s large shirt/already paint splotched smock. The sleeves drooped down over my hands and the shirt-tails came down mid thigh. It did its job well and kept my clothes pigment free. My hands, however, didn’t fare as well, with overlapping colors coating them.

I started out playing with clay, thinking at first that I wanted to create a pin. After rolling it around for about 10 minutes, the 5 year old 54 year old was drawn in by the sparkly fabric paints that I splotched on a black cloth napkin in an attempt to write messages on its surface….and then the inner critic clamored her way on through….”You really should be more focused and productive you know. You had an idea that you wanted to work on here and this isn’t getting you any closer to that.”  Holy moley, Batman!  Way to spoil the fun for the 5 year old. I could see her little face scrunching up, ready to cry as she felt squelched. Then the nurturing mama stepped in, took her hand and brought her over to carboard and more paints and said, “Just play and watch what happens.” To that, she added glue and letters, fragments of broken pottery and laid them all before her. At first, the paint mixed and blended, red, blue purple, swirly and  scratchy and then silver bubbling up hues asked to climb on board, creating a heart shape in the center. It was then that it occurred to me that this is the way I live my life. What people see is the silver, glowing heart, but not the mish mosh, blended colors beneath it. Broken pieces are a necessary component that I attempt to hide so that people don’t see them.

Messages came through…as is in the upper left hand corner.  I am all to the right. To me that means I am one with all that is AND I am all those things (the radiant heart and what lies under it) To the left of the heart are the words ask with. It has been my experience that when I ask with love, all of the answers come tumbling on through.

The answers may not always make sense, like jumbled up dream fragments that require sorting out and untangling. I am allowing for the creative juices to flow, knowing that I can no more control them, than I could halt the storms that sometimes sling their rain and wind or the traffic that line the highways and byways. It helps to know that I myself am a force of nature and that while driving my car, I’m traffic too. One last thing I added to the picture, was green along the border, since this stuff really is my growing edge.

www.theuniverseknows.com

www.aostudio.org