The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Book Lovers Unite!


I was excited, delighted and totally jazzed to read that the first Saturday in November  is declared Book Lovers Day. I was nurtured on nouns, weaned on words, swaddled in synoyms, well versed in verbs and bathed in books…metaphorically speaking, of course. Books have  been my companions, doorways into other worlds, soporific when I can’t sleep, enlightenment and entertainment always. I have more books than any other type of item in my home. Simply stated…I LOVE BOOKS. Could be why I became a writer. People

Dr. Seuss was one of my first ‘gurus’  who really did teach me ‘gee  you are you’ with his rollicking rhyme scheme and sometimes otherworldly wisdom. ‘Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  and “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”  My son’s favorite bedtime story was The Cat In The Hat, long beyond childhood…mine too.  Oh The Places You’ll Go  and The Lorax are two of my favorite Seussian social consciousness volumes.


My reading list has always had a rather spiritual bent, enthralled with  The Search For Bridey Murphy written by Morey Bernstein,  in junior high school that introduced me to past lives and reincarnation. Many years later I interviewed Dr. Brian Weiss, an expert in the field after his book Many Lives, Many Masters came out.  Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, opened the door to the idea that we are each an aspect of Divinity with it’s ‘thou art God’ greeting and the use of the word ‘grok’ which meant (in the Martian language in the book) to ‘drink’, as in to be so intimately connected that it is as if you are drinking that person in and becoming one with them.  Illusions by Richard Bach and Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman were pivotal reads in my early adulthood as they helped me to recognize the power of my thoughts, echoed years later in the book and movie The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.  The Mists of Avalon; a voluminous book penned by Marion Zimmer Bradley, beckoned me into the Arthurian legends from the perspective of the women in the story, as they honored the Goddess.   The Red Book by Sera Beak, Pronoia by Rob Breszny and all of SARK’s books twirl me around their little fingers with luscious laughter.


These days, much of my reading is both entertainment and work related, since I do book reviews. What joy to integrate those two worlds!


From The Literacy Company, Some sad stats

  • 46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine.
  • It is estimated that as many as 15 percent of American students may be dyslexic.
  • 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book.
  • There are almost half a million words in our English Language – the largest language on earth, incidentally – but a third of all our writing is made up of only twenty-two words.
  • In a class of 20 students, few if any teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with each student.
  • Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year.
  • The average reader spends about 1/6th of the time they spend reading actually rereading words.
  • When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade.



  • 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
  • 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
  • 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
  • 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
  • 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.

 If you have children in your life, encourage them to read, by reading to them and having them read to you. People who read have more extensive vocabularies, are more confident communicators and are taken more seriously by potential employers. They also become more out of the box thinkers. Reason enough? 

So, as Book Lovers Day approaches, I encourage you to curl up with a good book and enrich your heart, mind and soul.  Reading Rainbow theme <3


Restoring Life’s Missings Pieces



There comes a time when all of the pieces literally fall into place and our past comes face to face with our here and now, present day reality. Our woundings and our wonder become one. Such is one of the premises of Caren Goldman’s latest creation called Restoring Life’s Missing Pieces: The Spiritual Power of Remembering & Reuniting with People, Places, Things & Self which was published by SkyLight Paths.

I read the book under the covers on a rare October snow day,  during which I was immersed in memory of  my mother in whose physical presence I was a year ago this weekend. Tears and goosebumps of recognition as I pored through the pages of this book that is part academic and well researched and even more, a trip down the author’s own memory lane. Sometimes it  ain’t pretty, but she claims it as her own. A true survivor with a resilient spirit, Goldman beckons the reader to come along and helpless to resist, this reader did just that.  She moves from harsh relationships; a legacy from her family of origin, to healing with her own children and kindred spirit husband Ted whom she met on an Outward Bound course.  Being an Outward Bound grad myself, I know the power of stripping away layers of fear and self imposed limitation and celebrating our own ability to triumph over them.


Re-union takes many forms, as Goldman points out over and over in this book; with people from our past who are living their lives sometimes parallel to ours with whose path we cross at the seemingly appointed time,  to ghosts from our past who are no longer in body, but still embody our deepest desires and fearsome gremlins. Sometimes re-union is with a spiritual practice, sometimes with the perceived lost versions of ourselves.

Poems and poignant quotes are sprinkled throughout including one of my favorite, called Love After Love, by Derek Walcott

  The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved youall your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love lettersfrom the bookshelf,the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.



At the end of each chapter are clever and put -into -practice- right- away exercises that guide the reader to go deeper into the concepts previously explored. She opens and closes the book with the question: “Who do I say I am?” May the answer delight you.  to order the book






As I write these words, I am the grateful recipient of something I often take for granted and of  which many others in my area are still experiencing the absence…electrical power. A freak Halloween weekend snowstorm here on the East Coast sent  4-6″ of the heavy, wet stuff cascading down. Lovely at first as it wafted from steel gray skies and then damaging to trees and electrical wires…my poor shrubs that a few days ago, stood tall and erect are now bent and bowed toward the ground. Hoping that with an expected thaw, they will bounce back, resilient, like their caretaker has learned to be.  For 12 hours or so, my son and I sat in the dark, with candles, flashlights, bundled in blankets, putting the perishables out on the back deck, to chill there. Since the power was out, I wasn’t able to do what I had intended…writing a few articles. I was able to go the gym in the morning to do my regular ‘playout’. Such a fun juxtaposition of being in the warmth of  Planet Fitness while watching the snowfall through steamy windows.  Once I returned home, after showering by candle light..kinda like being in a cave, I dove for the flannel sheet and quilt comfort of my bed, surrounded by books to read that were sent to me for review (one was run yesterday called What Is Death? by Lexie Brockway Potamkin and another:   Restoring Life’s Missing Pieces  by Caren Goldman, will run later this week). In between, I lounged leisurely, ate yogurt and graham crackers and napped.  Such an unusual routine for this ‘functionally manic’, busy bee, accustomed to being on the go-go-go.   There was one challenge even greater than the absense of electrical power and that was the feeling of powerlessness that was expressed quite vociferously by my son who was angry that on his day off from work, he was bored since his usual routine of tv and video games, was interrupted by the outage.  It felt like I was sharing the cave with a grizzly bear. 


I reminded him numerous times (while acknowledging his frustration), that carrying on wouldn’t turn the power on any faster, that perhaps surrendering to what is, would serve him (and certainly his mother who was actually relishing her mini-vacay) better to relax and find other ways to occupy his time. Cleaning his room seemed a good option to me..he wasn’t buyin’ it. I  attempted to have him focus on what was positive about the situation…we had plenty of  food, blankets, ways of lighting the house,  we were healthy, our cars had plenty of gas, the newly repaired roof was holding up, and I assured him that the power would be on soon. “You’re such an optimist, Mom.”  he said.  “And the problem with that is…?” realizing that his statement wasn’t really a compliment. He was certain that our electric company wasn’t doing anything to fix the problem and (perhaps secretly) he believed that it was all designed to torment him.  I redirected and deflected as best I could, setting boundaries that in the sanctuary of my room, conversation would not focus on what was wrong with this situation.  He settled down for a bit.


Blessedly, the power went back on ever so briefly around 5 that allowed us to cook dinner and heat water for tea.  I thanked PECO  ( our energy company) out loud for restoring our power and my he countered with…”Watch, it won’t last.” Less than 20 minutes later, the lights flickered and diminished.  “Hah! Told you!”, came from my learned pessimist son. “Thank you, PECO,”  he taunted.

Sighing, I went back to my books and blankies, reading by flashlight as the twilight approached. Long about 11, everything came back on and stayed on. My son returned to his room and silence reigned.  It occurred to me that while he immersed in fuss and fret mode out loud, I carried it in my mind, outwardly appearing quite zen. It has been my default mode for so long that it is automatic. I am one of those folks who can handle a crisis with a sense of calmness and efficiency. I learned from a master…my mother who had weathered many a storm, with her ‘strong shoulders’ as she called them, who could step up and be counted on. The truth is, in times of turmoil, I want to be surrounded by people like that who neither freeze nor complain, who do what needs to be done.  Judgemental? Perhaps.  In my case, learned optimism rocks!  Regardless of the circumstances that surround me, including a grumpy grizzly bear in my midst, I know that my own peace of mind can only be disturbed by my thoughts about it all. In that way, I am always Higher Powered…charge!


 From one of my favorite movies for kids of all ages….  The Snowman (Walking in the Air) 


What Is Death? Messages From The Heart

 Product Details

Such an interesting juxtaposition of a word that most people fear, with the rainbow colored images that are displayed on the cover of the latest offering of Renaissance Woman (former Miss World USA and human rights activist) Lexie Brockway Potamkin. What is Death? Messages From the Heart, is a healing balm for the wounds we humans experience when someone we love passes from this plane of existence. Three other books came before this one, What is Spirit?, What is Peace? , What is Love? setting the stage to tackle one of the most challenging subjects. Like death itself, the book poses more questions than it definitively answers. Well researched, with both scientifically objective and anecdotal evidence, What is Death? is a comforting guide to the Beyond and what precedes it.




Potamkin shares her own journey with death of loved ones; including her beloved parents and her 97 year old uncle. The death of her father when she was 19 helped to shape her world view and the impression of the ways in which she was to live her life. The descriptions are poignant and reflect, as well, my own experiences with so many of the passings of those in my life, including those of my husband (in December of 1998), my father, (in April of 2008) and my mother (in November of 2010).


She describes the various spiritual, medical and societal views on death, and what follows, leaving room for ongoing dialogue. The door is then open for those from all walks of life, to offer their perspective on death. I am honored to be one of the contributors. (page 39)



Some examples:


I believe that death is freedom. Freedom from the physical body, which has been my vessel in this lifetime. A freedom like no other, where my soul can fly and soar!”-Kristal Hardy, Caregiver


I have no idea what death is, but, to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s comment on pornography. “I’ll know it when I see it.”- Merna Popper, Writer, art dealer


I believe I am here to ascend spiritually., and that my sole purpose now is to bring more light, love and God’s guidance into my life.”-Meredith Porte, Producer/host, public television



She then asks readers to consider their own legacy and the mark they choose to make on the world. A guide for planning memorial services is included. As an interfaith minister, Potamkin has officiated at celebrations of life, honoring the one who has passed, even as their loss is grieved.


The exquisite artwork that illuminates the pages, was created by Deborah Lieberman Fine. Their soft, muted shades without definition, are reflective of the idea of death itself. Uncertain what’s out there, they leave room for personal interpretation.

In closing, Potamkin offers the reader the sense of healing that comes with a certainty, that even after the death of the body, love lives on.   


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