The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Birth Pangs



Last week, I sent  my ‘first best seller’ called The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary to my publisher, with an Autumn release date in the works. Divine timing since I was born then too.  A slew of emotions followed. Excitement, trepidation, a wee bit of anxiety, relief, wowie zowie, all clamored for my attention as I anticipate ‘her’ birth along with my re-birth. As I project out those 3 -4 months during which the pages will be crafted from my words, I have become aware of many parallels to giving birth to a human child as I imagine it to be. I am an adoptive mother of a now 24 year old son and have never had a child biologically, so I say that my stretch marks are on my heart and not my hips. A few weeks ago, I became aware of feeling queasy and even nauseous for no apparent reason. I could possibly attribute it to stress, asking myself symbolically, what it is that I can’t stomach. This weekend I was talking about it with a friend and she immediately equated it to morning sickness since I was, after all, about to give birth and am in the  5th-6th month gestation of the 100-some paged ‘baby’. Taking a deep, cleansing breath as I write these words, in preparation for what I intend to be an easy, natural delivery.


As our  dialog continued, she asked me if I had expectations for what the book ‘should’ accomplish and the way it ought to be in the world. Immediately I smiled since I knew where this was heading. In the same way that I (and perhaps you if you are a parent) have dreams, desires, visions and yes, expectations for your child, so too do I hold that image for the Bliss Book. She encouraged me to surrender attachment to what the book can be and will do. YIKES! Even though I have experienced the beauty of surrender over and over in my 52 + years, I still stubbornly cling at times, to the illusion of control over every aspect of my life. In the creative realm, especially, I have learned that once I let go of  shoulds and oughts, then the true beauty can emerge. When my writing ‘writes me’ and my spoken words come through me as the hollow reed that I am, then there are no labor pains, just the exquisite joy of gazing in awe at what has come through.


There are times when I look at the emergence of the inspired verbiage and think “who really wrote this?” This sense of wonder flies in the face of the fears that squawk “People will look into the stroller that bears your creation and think; even if they don’t say it:  ‘What a funny looking baby.”  I have likely read the manuscript hundreds of times in the past two years in which the bulk of the writing and editing has been going on, and there have been moments when I have felt…absolutely nothing. Blank….numb…blocked emotion.  Even when perusing with deep gratitude, the endorsements from those who have read it, whose perceptions I value, there, at times, is an emotional disconnect. Is it a zen acceptance?  Or more insidiously, a lingering self critique that blocks the beautiful flow of love present in the words on the page?  I know, having been a therapist for umpteen years, that this is simply part and parcel of any act of creation, that the process is having its way with me, and that I truly signed up for it when I agreed with the Divine to write this book. And then there are other times, when I have wept with sadness and joy whilst contemplating that I have poured the essence of who I am into its contents. Another parenting parallel?


Is there a piece of me, I query, that feels that I won’t be able to appropriately ‘parent’ this sacred scroll as it takes its place on shelves worldwide?  Do I imagine that left to its own devices, I will have no say in what it does?  Perhaps that is a good thing, since I have no clue, the impact it will have on the lives of those who peruse its pages, much the same way we can’t really know how our own children will interact with the world. We hope that they will play nicely with the other kids and do us proud, embodying the values with which we instill them. Recently, my son shared with me his own inner journey and the choices he is making anew as a result. I felt such a sense of pride in how we both have ‘grown up together’ in the past nearly 13 years since he was 11 and I was 40 when Michael died and we became a 2 person immediate family with a large extended family surrounding us.


My intention is to enjoy the next few months, as I ponder the Bliss-birthing day, grateful for the many mid-wives (male and female:) who have shared in the nurturing process and who will celebrate grandly with me.

Feel free to share about your own ‘creative offspring’ and the ways in which birthing them has irrevocably changed your life.  Baby Mine by  Alison Krauss



Sacred Traveler


I have known Stephen Heilakka for at least 20 years in his various incarnations as therapist, writer, artist, musician and clergy person.  With a Masters degree in Divinity, he  is the founding coordinating minister of an interfaith community in Bucks County, PA called Sacred Paths. His creative style and curiousity about the inner and outer worlds, makes for a rich mixture that is a joy to witness.


How do you live your bliss?


Several years ago my dearest friend looked at me over dinner and said, “Steph, your only problem is you are living in bliss and you don’t know it.” The statement hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew it was true. That evening I made a conscious decision to lift the veil that I had placed around my seeing. How do I live my bliss? I live it consciously every day. All it takes is practice. The moment I find myself living in fear and not love I know that I have abandoned my bliss. In the noticing I move back into bliss. It’s also nice to have friends who are willing to point out when I have moved out of my bliss!



As an artist, do you see the world through unique eyes?


My eyes are not unique in any way. What is different is my “seeing” which comes from training. Being an artist means seeing what is there, not what the mind thinks is there. For example I used to look at trees in summer and see green. With my training when I look at a tree I am astounded at the kaleidoscope of colors that are present. When I look at a shadow on a building I no longer see black. It is amazing how colorful the world is. If you look closely at the sky you will begin to notice how blue it isn’t.



When did you begin painting and how would you describe your creations?


I began painting as a child. I did not however follow the bliss of painting until I was 46 years old. I’m a process painter who paints in a reductionist style. My goal is to have the viewer complete the painting as he or she looks at the work. My work points to the never ending journey of life. The work is sometimes messy, sometimes disturbing, sometimes beautiful. Always it is an expression of soul. The viewer is able to find the expression of his or her soul in my paintings because we are all connected.



How did you make a psycho-spiritual transformation from minister to therapist and back again?


That transformation was a process. I had to relinquish my ordination in United Methodist church when I was not willing to lie about my sexual orientation as a gay man. What was so ridiculous is that I was told repeatedly to lie so I could retain my ordination. Knowing that I was going to lose my ordination, I retrained as a therapist and began what I called my underground ministry. As it happened I specialized in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Over time my practice evolved into working with two populations: sexually abused women and heterosexual men who had been beaten by their fathers.



I’m actually very grateful that my journey took me out of the United Methodist Church. My work as a therapist was the true training ground for the care of the human soul. In my practice I was honored with the experience of people opening their souls to me. In the words of Marianne Williamson, they were giving themselves to Love. I was able to mirror back their soul’s sacredness. When you work with the soul and not the ego, transformation happens quickly.


The switch back to ministry happened when I had learned the lessons that I needed to learn in order to following my calling in the world as a nurturer of soul.



Do you feel you were called to do the work you are offering the world?


I do not just feel it. I experience my calling from the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual realms of my life. My work is about offering ways for the human soul to express itself. It comes as no surprise to me. As a child my soul got very shielded as a result of abuse. Having made the journey back to life it is my delight to point the way for others.


How were you guided to create Sacred Paths Community?



Part of my spiritual discipline is to spend quiet time every day. Often I will go on week long silent retreats. Silence is essential for me in order to provide the space and time for the sacred to enter my life. Three years ago I was on a week long retreat. While walking a labyrinth I heard what is often referred to as a “still small voice.” The voice kept repeating “Sacred Paths.” It was confusing at first. I asked the question, “Am I supposed to start a community called Sacred Paths?” The answer was, “Yes.” I had already created a gathering in my home. When I came back from the retreat I announced my plan to create a formal structure. On June 14, 2008 Sacred Paths Community was founded. One of our first tasks was to create a very large labyrinth that members of the community could use for personal and group meditation.



Sacred Paths Community is following the trend of the micro-church. We are a small group of people who gather around the affirmation that all paths are sacred. Our mission is to empower spiritual growth by sharing the messages of faith, hope and love. If one were to come to Sacred Paths, the structure would not appear radically different from a church. There are however some very different distinctions. The first distinction is that there is not a dogma that has to be adhered to.


Creative Director Carol Fisher and I meet weekly to create the “jungle gym.” Our goal is to provide a structure that is fluid and flexible enough for Spirit to move in. We strive to keep a conscious balance of divine masculine and feminine energy as we create the gatherings. There is a time for people to share the joys and challenges of their lives in the presence of community members so support and love can be experienced, not just talked about. One of the fun things we have at sacred paths is a conscious decision to welcome and embrace humor. There is a lot of laughter in the community. Our commitment is to remain open. Our mission has already been changed once. I suspect it will change again in the very new future. It has to. We are growing up. To keep the same mission for eternity is a death sentence. Life changes. The Soul changes. The mission serves as a guide for a bit until you have learned what you need to learn and then you move on.



One of the things not present on Sunday mornings is a sermon. Rather, a sacred conversation is facilitated with everyone contributing. Most recently we have been exploring the distinctions between the rational mind and the deeper wisdom of the intuitive mind. This experience has been so profound that people have actually transformed their lives . What has become so clear is that if we get our rational minds out of the way and allow the deep wisdom of Spirit to speak life occurs much more blissfully. It is fun.


Among the most beautiful traditions that has started at Sacred Paths Community is the prayer shawl. When someone has a concern or challenge a prayer shawl can be requested. During our gathering everyone in the community is invited to place their hands on the shawl and “charge” it with their prayers. The shawls are a visible sign of the intangible power of prayer and the support of the community.



One of our members has coined the phrase “the grand experiment.” Sacred Paths Community is a grand experiment. What is fun and blissful about it is the evolving vision that continues to be handed to the members of the community. With our commitment to listening to the deeper wisdom of the intuitive voice we know we have created and are creating another blissful spot on the planet. If you happen to be reading this and your still small voice if piquing your interest we meet for coffee and tea on Sunday mornings at 9:30am. Our gatherings begin at 10:00am. We meet at the Plumsteadville Grange, 5910 Easton Road in Plumsteadville, PA. The community is offering The Course Of Love on the second and third Sundays of the month, with a pot luck preceding the course on the third Sunday. On the fourth Sunday of the month beginning in September we will begin our fall enrichment series.


Our website is:  

























Cardinal Knowledge



I have long been aware of the messengers that come in all forms, including those of the animal world. At just the right time, in the midst of life inquiry, they have shown up.  Winged, finned, scaled, furred…it matters not. Often when coming home from work in the twilight, what I call a ‘runny babbit’ (bunny rabbit:) has scooted across my lawn. The other day, two mourning doves were perched atop my roof. Adam (my son) remarked, “Oh, that’s Grandmom and Grandpop coming to visit us.”  Of course, there are the butterflies that flit across my path when thoughts of my Mom come to mind. My sister Jan told me recently that in the midst of a ‘missing Mom moment’, a winged wonder crossed her path. She felt uplifted and then it meandered off.  As I am writing this at o’dark thirty (actually 5:13 a.m.), I can hear the call of the mourning doves..maybe they are saying “What the heck are you doing up?  Go back to sleep, woman!”  Soon, I tell them…gotta get these words out while the Muse is speaking.


Last week, as I was getting into my friend Ondreah’s car, I noticed a small, white folded piece of paper with the image of a bright red plumed cardinal. Hmm…never got a message from one of them before. I put it in my purse and then when I got home, looked up the meaning.  According to

“Cardinal reminds us that no matter what time of the day or year it is,
there is always the opportunity to recognize
the importance of our life purpose. 

If a Cardinal appears, it is time to pay attention
to your health and well-being. 
It is also a time to listen to the feminine side,
the aspects of creativity and intuition. 
Cardinal people are in tune to the number 12. 
Twelve months or a year’s time is very important
to a Cardinal totem person. 
They remind us to add “color” to our life and to remember that
everything you do is important.”


Such a timely message for me (you too?) as I am coming to so strongly reinforce my life purpose. What am I here for?  To love, serve and remember, are the words that come to mind. Remember what?  That I am and you are, love incarnate and all we need do is shine it out. To allow that precious essence to overcome the fear and self limiting thoughts that plague us. To begin anew when in the midst of stuckness and stagnation. To focus on gratitude for what we do have, rather than pouting over what we don’t have. To bless each person and experience that comes our way. To see each challenge as opportunity to stretch and grow ourselves up. To honor where we came from, so that we sink our roots in, even as we spread our wings~

Advertisement  Love, Serve and Remember by John Astin


Why have you come to Earth?

Do you remember?

Why have you taken birth?

To love, serve and remember.



Miracle Enough



In the midst of a weekend that reverberates with the energy of the life I choose to experience. In the moment, I am sitting on a comfy wicker sofa in a beautiful bay side home in Mantoloking, NJ. The Lenni-Lenape word means “land of the frog,” “tribal sand place” and “land of sunrise.”  I haven’t seen any frogs, but the other two descriptions I buy completely. Here with my “Goddess Sistahs”; these women have been a part of my life for the past 4-5 years but it seems like eons.  Each year, for the past few, we have gathered from our far flung corners of PA, NJ, MD and MA to celebrate our connection. I was able to be with them for a few days, in mini-vacay mode. Some are cooking dinner, the sound of chopping and rustling, doing food prep, others on the back deck, soaking up the last remnants of the early evening sun, while I am writing…I volunteered for clean-up crew, partly since I look at dishwashing as mindfulness practice.


We had just returned from a windswept beach ritual in which we gathered, burned sage and offered a blessing. Led by Ondreah, we placed our hands on various chakra points and imagined a word that reflected what we wished to acknowlege or release and then she asked us to write the word in the sand with our fingers. Immediately the word ‘acceptance’ came to mind.  Acceptance of myself as is, acceptance of my life as is…the 12 step concept of ‘life on life’s terms’. Challenging at times for this recovering Type A, co-dependent, high energy ‘human doing’. In the past nearly 9 months since my Mom died, I have mellowed considerably, slowed my pace, immersing in the moment. Ironically, I wasn’t able to finish writing the word twice before the ocean swept it away. The third time, I moved even higher up on the beach and was able to complete it and then Mother Ocean swept it back into her embrace. We then gathered in sacred circle again, held hands and chanted “Oo0o0o0o0o0o0ommmmm”, voices raised with the wind. I could feel my heart beat in time with the rippling, rushing  waves, the pulse of the earth, the warmth of the sand into which I dug my toes; feeling necessarily grounded.


Earlier in the day, we lounged in and around the pool and I felt a melting away of so much resistance to the way life feels at times. Sometimes I petulantly pout “It’s not fair that…..” and at others I  ask myself “What do you have to feel sorry for yourself about?  You have amazing friends/family of choice, you have a cozy home, work that brings in abundance, creative outlets, a healthy body…look where you are right now. How many people allow themselves to have all of this wealth?”  and so the inner dialog continues… Sometimes it is ok to throw a pity party, but it is often short lived since I find that I am the only guest there.

Rolling back the clock to yesterday…I drove the 90 minutes or so to the Jersey shore from a joyous celebration created by his ingenious sweetie;  for my friend Greg in honor of his 50th birthday.  A rollicking, bee-bopping yoga class at Live In Joy Yoga in Audubon, NJ to the sound of 60’s and 70’s rock, dinner and yummy carrot cake at The Tree House Coffee Shop right next store, that was carried in by sparkler bearing roller derby queen friends of Greg’s.  This transformational friend and I met at a workshop 7 years ago and take delight in commenting on the overlapping soul circles that connect us and the people we now know as a result of our meeting. He noted that biologically human beings are, in a sense ‘re-created’ every 7 years, so now we are new people too. How cool is that? We were entertained by our friend Robin Cohen and her band Roadshow Relics who regaled us with covers of Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Merle Haggard. 


In conversation, Greg  referenced an esteemed yoga scholar named Douglas Brooks. Not sure if this is the exact quote, but I like the feel of it. “Life is miracle enough.”  I guess the intention is to live in such a state of awe and wonder of it all, that anything else is icing on an already delectable cake.

Before heading to the party, I was in the presence of another new friend who I didn’t know existed 6 months or so ago. Richard Singer is the author of Now: Embracing The Present Moment; a book to which I contributed a chapter, called Losing My Mind To Come To My Senses. He had come stateside from the Cayman Islands for a book tour. We sat in semi-circle with my friends who had come to participate in a conversation and book signing; speaking about the power of the present, the honoring of the here and now.  As I take pause to hear the sound of the overhead fan, whirring above me, the laughter of my friends outside the sliding glass door, the flag flapping in the breeze; another friend coming out the bathroom, freshly showered, the smells of dinner wafting from the kitchen, looking at my sand speckled, sun kissed arms and legs and feeling particularly blessed.

Advertisement   So Much Magnificence



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