The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

What We Carry

My friend Joel Metzger posted this story on facebook and like everything else in my life, and perhaps yours as well, it was perfecly timed. Read and discover if this is indeed so.

Once there was a young man who had just graduated from university and was walking behind an old man.As he was just starting out in life, he thought maybe the old man could give him a few words of wisdom. The old man was walking weighted down with a big load on his back.

The young man went up to him and asked, “Do you have any words of wisdom for me? I’m just starting out.”

The old man stopped, looked at the young man, put the load down, stood up straight, and smiled at him. Then he put the load on his back again, hunched over, and walked away. Not a word was exchanged. I think it was the wisest thing he could have ever told him:

The reason you walk like this is not from your load. That’s all borrowed.

If you want to stand up straight, then put the load down.

What you have been given, what is yours, is not a load. What is yours is truly a delight.

It is simple: The more we enjoy, the more joy we have.

And the more we accept that joy, the more we appreciate.

Other things in life decrease, but this is one thing that keeps increasing.

– Prem Rawat (Maharaji)

                                                               When I consider the so called ‘burdens’ with which I have been gifted, I have come to accept them as exercise equipment that have strengthened me and made me more flexible. They have come in deceptively wrapped packages, sent Special Delivery from the Universe, marked:

Childhood asthma which led to becoming a competitive swimmer and then lifeguard and swim team coach.

Death of my beloved grandmother at the age 4 which taught me that despite sadness, life goes on and we do what needs to be done, as my mother modeled for me, in the midst of what I imagine was deep grief.

In one year (1992), I had an ectopic pregnancy, my husband Michael was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and we lost our home in Florida to Hurricane Andrew, where we had moved to publish a second regional edition of Visions Magazine, which we had published from 1988-1998. From that I learned that we are always protected and cared for and that ‘stuff’ can be replaced.

Over the interceding 6 years, Michael’s condition worsened and on 11/11/98, he entered the  hospital for the final time. During a 5 1/2 week sojourn in the ICU, I rode the daily roller coaster ride of wondering whether he would receive the life saving liver transplant that we had prayed for, or whether I would become a 40 year old widow. On 12/21/98, the answer was apparent that the latter was to be. During one ‘dark night of the soul’, as I was gazing out the window onto a literal dark Philadelphia late Fall into Winter night, I heard ‘the voice for God’ that had visited me several times throughout my life, tell me, in response to my insistent, little kid foot stomping “He’s mine and you can’t have him.”, “No, he’s mine and he’s on loan to you, like everyone else.” That was an abundantly clear reminder to love and bless and embrace everyone in my life, taking no one for granted. As a result of  Michael’s death, I became an interfaith minister since he had been enrolled in The New Seminary when he died. I took his place in the class and completed the course work and was ordained in 1999.

In 2008, my dear father passed from this earthly plane after a 3 year bout with Parkinsons that had this former Golden Gloves boxer, life-long athlete with 6 pack abs into his 70’s, lose his physical capacities and reply, when I would ask him how he was feeling, “Disgusted, that I can’t do what I used to do.”  He found solace in the love and attention of my mother;  his sweetheart of more than 52 years, to whom he wrote daily love notes. He found himself delving even more deeply into his spiritual readings; his practice was to read portions of the Old Testament and other sources that touched on his Jewish faith. As he was lying in the hospice- provided bed at home, right before his transition, on 4/3/08, I read to him one of his favorite pieces from a book I had given him a few years earlier. At my mother’s request, it was buried with him. The next day, the power went out in the condo and my sister went to the circuit breaker to flip a switch and saw a sticker posted inside in my father’s distinct writing (we joked that he should have been a doctor and not a milkman and bus driver:) that said “I love you.”. It had been meant, I imagine, for my mother to find. From seeing my father through his end of life experience, I learned that love lingers even as ‘life’ wisps away and is sustained beyond physical presence.

For 2 1/2 years, I witnessed my mother’s grief over her darling’s death and again, in characteristic style, as she had with my grandmother’s passing all those years ago, kept on keepin’ on; “Hangin’ in there, babe, hangin’ in there.” would be her answer when I would inquire into her state of being.  Maintaining an active social life, not wanting to move back up North from her Ft. Lauderdale home to be with us, determined to enjoy each day; she succumbed to CHF (perhaps in some ways, dying of a broken heart) and on 11/26/10, she joined my Dad. I have visions of them dancing with delight at being reunited. In the process of being with her over a 7 month period, I have learned to ride the tide, and have adopted her ‘Que sera, sera’ attitude. From this, I have learned the incredible power of unconditional love, to heal us; body, mind and spirit.

Blended together, each of these experiences have served to make me a fuller human/spiritual being, in awe of how extraordinary life is, grateful for each blessing, regardless of form.

For your listening pleasure…the Sly and The Family Stone funkified version of the Doris Day classic

http://youtu.be/AQZNkzP4kYw 

Resilience

                                                                                     

A few days ago, a co-worker was talking about her Ph.D dissertation which is on the subject of resilience. I offered to let her pick my brain (what’s left of it these days), since it is at the core of what I teach my clients, many of whom have faced major traumas throughout their lives. Her questions were along the lines of: “What makes one person able to overcome such challenges, while others  succumb? ”  and “Can this be taught?”  I had responses to both.  The answer to the second was an emphatic YES!  The answer to the first is a bit more involved.

Many cultures revere strength…gotta be strong…gotta stand firm, when in reality, flexibility and resilience are equally valuable. Nature provides us with poignant examples. When in the ocean, bending to the waves is less likely to get you knocked on your butt, than standing solid against the water. A willow tree that bends is more likely to withstand the storm than an oak tree that stands firm. I had a first hand experience of that a few years ago. While leaving the grounds of the hospital where I work, to go to lunch, in the midst of a September storm, the wind was whipping furiously. I parked the car by the admissions building to drop off paperwork. Before me was the lovely tree lined driveway where 50-60 foot tall oaks stood sentry. I had this fleeting thought: “Wouldn’t it be something if one of these trees came down?”….BLAM!  No sooner had that image crossed my mind, then one did just that right before my ever widening eyes. I had a few simultaneous thoughts “Thank God no one was coming down the driveway at that moment.”,  and “Holy smokes, what did you do?”  I knew on some level that I didn’t cause the tree to crash earthward, but realizing how tapped in we are all, I did take credit for being aware of the possibilities, at least on an unconscious level. While that tree uprooted itself, more flexible companions remained erect.

I also told her about Roger Crawford who wrote the book “How High Can You Bounce?” which came into my life several years ago and it is my go-to source for teaching resilience skills. Born with congenital ‘challenges’ such as missing fingers and I believe, his leg from the knee down, Roger became a champion athlete and for the past 25 years has spoken world wide to audiences mesmerized by his passion for life. I love his quote: “Challenges are inevitable, defeat is optional.”  

I have come to understand that the statement:  “Most people do the best they can, given their circumstances.”, is incomplete. Rather, I see that “Most people do the best they are WILLING to do, given their current mindset/attitude/world view.”  Each day, I see folks surpass their former beliefs of what is so and what is possible. Heck, I surprise myself by doing that too. No way, 15 years ago, would I have imagined that I would be doing all that I am at this point in my life, because back then, I was just coasting along, letting life have its way with me, rather than KNOWING that I had the right, responsibility and ability to create my life experience, molding and shaping them from the raw materials I am given each day.

www.rogercrawford.com

Amnesia Busters

 

                                                                           

My friend Rod is a man who quite simply Lives Love.  I met him about 3 years ago, but it seems like we have known each other for eons. You know that sense of instantaneous recognition of a kindred spirit, or in the Gaelic language ‘anam cara’ or soul friend. It’s a feeling, of  “Oh there you are again.  How long has it been?”  He reminded me that we met via a mutual friend named Rusty Stewart. When I visited his home for the first time, I was also walking into a center that he called A Taste of Heaven. I like to tell the story of my experience there.  The living room had white carpeting and glass topped tables.  “Let me guess, ” I said, “No kids or pets, huh?”  When Rod handed me a glass of freshly brewed ice tea, I asked if it was ok to put it on the glass table top or if he had a coaster he wanted me to use. With twinkling eyes, he responded impishly, “There are no coasters in Heaven.”, and he meant it. On the walls were celestial/etheric looking images that he had painted, many with feathers as paint brush. In his kitchen, he had large glass jugs with affirming words on them such as love, peace and abundance, painted in bright primary colors. He gave me one as a gift to take home with me; such a generous soul he is. As I was looking at one of his paintings, he made a comment about collaborating on it with a friend. One word led to another and somehow I discerned that I also knew this friend, co-artist named Alan Schonfeld. And to add to the delight, it turned out that we were both at a training for Recconnective Healing taught by Dr. Eric Pearl the weekend prior and had missed meeting each other.

Our friendship grew and I spent many evenings there in the company of other kindred spirits, enjoying pot luck meals, music and massage. Rod’s personal philosophy embraces all, accepts our life experiences as desingned for our highest good and learning and in the face of challenges, he expresses gratitude for what came of it.

I had the joy of a having a wonderful Italian dinner at a sidewalk cafe off of South Street in Philly with Rod last weekend as we talked about ‘life, the universe and everything.’ I had mentioned that I occasionally lapse into Spiritual Amnesia, this sense of forgetting that all is well, all is perfect as is. He acknowledged going to that place as well from time to time and we agree to remind each other to return to that knowingness when we lapsed.

I received an email from him afterward, affirming that we are indeed amnesia busters. What a great job, reminding people of their true identity and beckoning them back onto the path, should they find themselves meandering off. Sign me up!

Human Spirit

                                                                    

A friend passed along this video link that is an advertisement for Taiwanese TC Bank. It is a beautifully rendered short story in 3:11 seconds about a group of octogenerian men who decided to look aging, illness, loss, grief and physical limitation in the face and laugh right straight at it by takin’ it to the streets, by hittin’ the road and hopping on motorcycles for a cross country road trip.  What an amazing testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the fortitude and determination it takes to hold a dream in the palm of your hand, gaze at at it and then live it full out! I was blown away; tears and goosebumps coming forth as I considered what it took for these guys to get up off the pity pot on which they may have been sitting and train (which the ad shows them doing) in preparation for the journey. Although flashes of earlier times in their lives together are part of the montage, I didn’t get the sense that they were simply re-living their youth, but rather re-inventing themselves anew; transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, indeed.

It is tempting to fall into a ‘poor me’ mode when things don’t go the way we want them to, or when we are faced with challenges and crises of faith. What I discover daily is how resilient we all can be if we feel we have a purpose, a passion, a desire to do something meaningful. Now, these ‘biker dudes'; these Dream Rangers didn’t do anything dramatically world altering, and yet they did, at the same time, since they are now living examples of what is possible if you put your heart and soul into what you do. Positively empowered people are a greater force for good in the world.

So, what’s your dream and how ya gonna live it, full out?

http://youtu.be/vksdBSVAM6g

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