The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Me Time

As I am typing these words, I am lounging in bed while listening to Sleepy Hollow on Philly based member supported public radio station WXPN 88.5 fm (you can also get the web-streaming version at ) In  pj’s, nestled in flannel sheets and comfy quilt. Gazing out my window onto a winter-white landscape. A cup of Roiboos tea from South Africa on the nightstand.  Breathing in the nutty cinnamony aroma before sipping it each time, making it part of my mindfulness practice.  Not such an unusual experience for me.


What has become an out of the ordinary thing is stepping back from activity, of necessity.  In the six weeks or so since my mother died, I have been as ‘on’ as ever, maintaining my regular work schedule (full time social worker and consultant, writing, teaching and ministry gigs, as well as doing promo for my own and other people’s work), finishing my book, tying up loose ends with my mother’s affairs, unpacking her belongings and integrating them into my environment, going to the gym for my regular ‘playouts’…much more fun than calling them ‘workouts’ and spending play time with friends.  All of this hasn’t left much time for mourning the passing of a woman who I have always thought of as my most ardent cheerleader and (as cliche’d as it sounds) my best friend. Much of who I have become, has emerged from her influence. And therein, I have recently discovered, comes some of what has been challenging for this go-getter, recovering Type A personality.

In an information gathering session last week with my friend Ondreah Johnson, in preparation for being a practice hypnotherapy subject, I had a startling aha-moment. 

My mother, whose  father died at age 52 when she was a young woman of 18 or so and whose beloved mother died in her 70’s when my mom was 38 and I was 4, modeled doing it all.  When my grandmother died, I have no recollection of feeling neglected or of even witnessing my mother mourn out loud.  In conversation with my cousin Jody yesterday, she reminded me that she likely grieved with my father, in private. She talked alot about my grandmother, so it wasn’t as if she was withholding her feelings, just putting a bookmark in them so she could keep on keepin’ on and raise two active girls. She just did what was expected of her.

My mom was a Renaissance woman whose jobs while my sister and I were young, included making and selling doll clothes, writing a local newspaper column, working as a gate guard at our community pool, selling Avon door to door and later on as a switchboard operator at Sears.

My father was a milkman and bus driver who worked what we referred to as ‘crazy hours’…and yet, when he was home, we had plenty of family time, vacations, gatherings at our house of aunts, uncles and cousins. I never recall being told to keep the noise level down since my dad went to bed early; not that Jan and I were particularly rambunctious kids to begin with.

My parents had a deeply passionate and loving marriage and had no problems with PDA’s whether in our presence or out on the street.

Quite simply, although perfect they weren’t, they modeled doing it all; so I learned from masters.  Back to changing my routine.  I am blessed to have loving people in my life who invite me to all kinds of fun events. I used to attend as many as I could and have the energy to keep up with it all. Lately I have been politely declining some invites and uncharacteristic for me, have been changing plans once made.  This weekend, I have done it 3 times and have felt only a twinge of guilt.  Yesterday, I attended the Bar Mitzvah of a cousin and during the beautiful service at which Gabe mastered his recitation of the Haftorah and Torah portion, aced his speech and shared about his project, I felt an overwhelming wave of sadness, barely keeping the tears at bay and knew I couldn’t gracefully attend the reception. Not wanting to be a distraction, I chose instead to head home.

The second, last night was an annual gathering of kindred spirits called Peacweavers honoring the turning of the new year and the third was an engagement party for the daughter of a dear friend, today. My realization during the session with Ondreah was that for so much of my life, I, like my parents, ‘did what was expected of me’.  What would people think if I veered from that path?  In the midst of stepping back from activity, I have allowed for the tears to flow, for my grief to be given voice. I know that people understand. It is, as I am, a work in progress.  So, for the moment, at least, I am allowing for me time.


Vibrant Heart

I had the joy of meeting the live out loud, generous with her time and energy Valerie Rene Sheppard at Amazing Woman’s Day in Philadelphia last year and was delighted to get to know her a bit more when doing a paired share exercise. Driven, dedicated to pursuing her passion and purpose, Valerie maintains a soft side that keeps her approachable and grounded. 


How do you live your bliss?
My most blissful moments come in the silence: when I step away from the things-to-do list, put the phone on silent (in another room), quiet the mind chatter, and be still. And when I can do all of the above in nature, especially by the ocean, that is the most ideal. In fact, I just moved closer to the beach so I’d have even easier access to what I know fills me up and helps me stay centered and free.

What does it mean to live vibrantly?
The specifics of an expression of vibrant living are different for everyone, but I believe there is one place that is the basis. Fundamentally, vibrant living springs forth at its greatest when we’re in our true State of Being which is Peace, Love, Joy and Freedom. Peace = centered in the knowingness there is a Divine Order within, around, and through all things on this human plane. Love = unconditional reverence for all that is – every single other being in the realm and the realm itself. Joy = happiness that has no reasons and knows no end. Freedom = being untethered from the worldly aspirations and baggage that prevent evolution of the Soul.

When I can connect inward to the source of this State, I don’t have to do anything to have a vibrant life. Life just is vibrant. All of my senses are more acute, my life expression is sweeter, my relationships harmonious, and the synchronicities abound. If I get off-track, I can more easily get back on, if things happen that are troubling or in any way not what I want, I can take the lesson, make adjustments, and keep living. Living from this State, life is easy, effortless, juicy and delicious!

How do our thoughts create our reality?
I don’t believe that thoughts alone create our reality. I believe thoughts must be aligned with a deeper activation, a sub-conscious vibration in order for creation to occur. People can think prosperity at the mind level, but if at their deeper level they’re vibrational frequency is lack, limitation, inadequacy or unworthiness, they’ll create those things more than the prosperity they’re seeking. They may create a certain level of prosperity or wealth, live in a big house, drive a nice car, but inside, they can feel like it’s not enough, and/or that something is holding them back from achieving the things they really want and believe they’re capable of.

This is the way I felt for most of my life. I was accomplished, credentialed and successful. I practiced Positive Mental Attitude starting at age 13. Yet, along the way, I felt like something outside me was preventing me from really reaching my pinnacle. Through an ongoing archeology of my Self, I unearthed the problem, and it wasn’t my thoughts. It was hidden fears and beliefs that had built up deep within my heart, that were “louder” than and not in alignment with my head. These were more of the source of my attraction and creation than my thoughts.

It’s been amazing to be awakened to that realization and actively change my beliefs and values to be a more aligned, and therefore more powerful creator of the life I want to live. I love more and more how my life is unfolding, and I trust more and more that my outer results reflect deeper alignment between my head and my heart. I know too that getting to this place doesn’t have to be hard. That’s why I’m working to help others get clear on what’s going on beneath the surface, and make choices to live freer, more vibrant lives and lead more successful, vibrant businesses.

When you were a little girl, what was your deepest dream/vision for yourself and have you experienced it?
For a while, I wanted to be teacher, and after that a lawyer or a judge (I played a judge in a high school theatre production, and that was the closest I came), and I even considered marine biology. Regardless of the title, I believe my most deep aspirations as a young girl involved being an agent for change – helping people, processes, situations evolve for the better. I’ve always had an ability to see problem and solution, big picture and minutest detail, which has helped me to make a difference throughout my life.

What feels energizing now is that as I step beyond the barriers I imposed on myself through limiting beliefs and living from old woundology, I can be a more open vessel for Divine Wisdom, Divine Love and Divine Guidance to flow out. I want to use this more open availability to Source Energy to contribute to the awakenings of others. As each one of us does this in our own lives, we create a web of evolution that raises the consciousness of and heals the planet.

You have made some amazing transformations from being the daughter of a tough as nails military man to being in corporate America to doing more spiritual work. What was that like for you?
It’s been quite a journey! Of course, looking back with the revelationary wisdom I now possess, it’s easier than when I was walking it real-time. Now, I am able to see the nuances and experience the healing. Then, it was often painful, confusing, and unfulfilling.

The separation that was inherent in military life was difficult. What people see today, all the outpouring of support to military families, was not there when I was living as a “Marine Corps Brat.” I often felt alone and misunderstood. Interestingly, I often felt that way in my corporate experience, and it’s probably one of the things I fear most about living from my spiritual essence rather than ego. I’ve always believed in spirituality and have been living that since my Grandmother gave me my first “Daily Word” magazine when I was 13. I’ve just been very private about it until now.

I think what keeps me going is I feel the difference in myself, and I believe my evolution is helping others. It’s not easy to confront internal “demons” and old hurts and fears. I talk to people who call it a “pit,” and who are afraid if they jump in, they’ll never find their way back out. But as I share my story and the tools and teachers that helped me, and ultimately live it, taking the steps becomes doable for others. Ultimately, it’s simply a choice. Each person has to decide what they want their life to be about, and how they’re going to take the lead to have it. This is what I’m referring to when I talk about personal leadership. Life is an inside-out endeavor. Most of us are living it from the outside-in.

You guide many people through your various services. Who have your guides been?

I have been Blessed with wonderful coaches, mentors and masters. They took the form of family, girlfriends, lovers, classmates, teammates, neighbors, managers, colleagues, and of course spiritual teachers and healers. Unfortunately in the past, I wasn’t always open and willing to receive the messages or the messengers. I know now that some of the people who were the most “difficult” in my experience were calling me to awaken to what was true about me.

Most recently, I am especially grateful for the wisdom, leadership, and love of Esperanza Universal, who is the spiritual leader of the S.O.U.L Institute. Her work and insight have really had the most significant and lasting impact on my heart alignment and Soul evolution. I also credit the Unity ministers, licensed teachers, and members of my spiritual community at Unity of Tustin with ongoing connection, support and love; the Unity of Tustin School of Light has also contributed to my ongoing exploration of Universal Laws, and spiritual habits and practices from around the world. My Golden Retriever-German Shepherd mix, Maggie Mae, 12-year companion who passed away in 2008, was perhaps my most powerful teacher of love unconditional, and she visits me from time to time to remind me to “give it away Mommy.” Working with Marsh Engle and the Amazing Woman Alliance, a movement for inspired action, and Greg Reid, speaker, author and filmmaker, has helped me unearth and share the wisdom of my story.

Whether for a reason, season or lifetime, I know now that everyone who walks with me is fulfilling what Caroline Myss calls a “Sacred Contract” and I’m grateful for them all.

What get’s you through the inevitable ‘dark night of the soul’?
I wrote about a process for doing this in my eBooklet: “Navigating Stormy Seas, Five Steps to Smoother Sailing Through Difficult Situations.” The steps form the word TRUST, which is about faith in Divine Order at work in all situations and circumstances, including the ones that could be labeled ‘dark night.’

  • I Turn Inward and feel my feelings and engage my heart. I allow the emotions to flow through me as a part of fully experiencing what is.

  • I Reflect on the critical elements of what’s happening in the situation versus my story about it. This means I have to look at what part I played in creating it.

  • I Uncover and Un-attach from what’s not working. This requires me to be different and choose differently in the future.

  • Next comes Silencing the negative self-talk – the egoic self determined to keep me feeling less than and working hard. I can accept responsibility for making a mistake or missing a signal without being critical of and judgmental toward myself.

  • Finally, it’s about Telling the Truth – getting really real with the overall situation. This means not turning it into the end of the world when it’s simply a valuable hiccup or detour along my journey.



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L’dor Vador

L’dor Vador: ‘From Generation to Generation’ is a common statement in Judaism, indicating that traditions are handed down in that manner, shared like spiritual chicken soup to nourish body and soul.


I grew up in a family in which my maternal grandmother was one of 13 children. One of her sisters was named Miriam and she had a son named Ron who with his wife Gladys had three sons named Rick, Steve and Ted.  Rick married Melissa and they have two children Gabriel and Sophia.  It is the young man who was named for his grandmother Gladys who died 15 years ago (and the archangel Gabriel who figures prominently as a messenger from God in three major religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam), who also figures prominently in this story.


As I am writing this, likely my 13 year old cousin Gabe and his family are resting after a momentous occasion, because today is the day he became a Bar Mitzvah. (translates from Hebrew as “son of the commandment” and considered to be an adult member of the congregation, responsible for his own relationship with God). This curly haired slim young man with a shy smile that likely covered a sense of mischief, stood before the congregation, his family and friends and took his place in a long line of newly minted teens who crossed that threshold and recited prayers that echo back from thousands of years ago.


The Torah portion he chanted was called Beshalach and recalled the story of the Exodus of the Jews who were held as slaves in Egypt. The rabbi offered an explanation prior to Gabe stepping forward, that when the Jews came to the Red Sea, they had two choices, to move ahead into the churning waters with full faith that they would emerge safely or turn back to the lives they had known in Mitzrayim (another name for Egypt:  translated as ‘narrow straits). This to me indicates sometimes self imposed constriction based on fear.  One man named Nahshon, was said to be the first to enter the Red Sea, continuing to move past his likely terror that the water would swallow him, until it reached his nose and then it miraculously parted….the sea, not his nose:)


I sat with the congregation. filled with delight and flowing with tears as I witnessed Gabe’s triumph.  Years of practice, not only in the classroom and synagogue, but in his daily life, prepared him for this day.  He had a special mitzvah (good deed ) project to complete and it was in perfect synch with his interest in sports and willingness to do service.  Melissa works in the Philadelphia School District and had told Gabe about a lack of sports equipment at her school and how there were many children who fought on the playground as a result.  So Gabe; avid athlete that he is, knew that his project was to collect gently used sports equipment to offer to the school. I think he said, all told, he collected 100 balls, jump ropes, hoola hoops and other assorted items.  He was able to present them to the school and heard feedback about what a difference it had made.  A bonus was the realization of how blessed he and his friends are to have access to sports equipment and activities. 


Clearly, the values handed down from previous generations have landed solidly in this one.  Mazel Tov, Gabe!  What a mensch you are.


L’dor Vador by Josh Nelson

Martin Musical Montage

Honoring what would have been the 82nd birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. For the past quarter century, in this country, people have been encouraged to make it a ‘day on’, rather than a ‘day off’ as they take up the reins that were dropped when shots rang out and took the life of a man who stands as an example of what can be accomplished when faith meets action.

Service projects cross country range from offering emotional/spiritual/physical nourishment in a soup kitchen or shelter, picking up hammer and nails with Habitat For Humanity, cleaning up a vacant lot, visiting people in nursing homes or who are shut in at home, becoming a reading mentor, Big Brother or Big Sister, picking up groceries for an elderly or ill neighbor…the list and the needs are endless.  is a great source for seeing where you and your talents fit.


Sharing a few of my favorite songs that mention Dr. King in the lyrics or make reference to him.


It’s A Hard Life by Nancy Griffith 


Abraham, Martin and John  by Marvin Gaye 


Happy Birthday To Ya by Stevie Wonder 


In The Name of Love by U2


Be a force for good in the world! 


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