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The Bliss Blog

 

I grew up with parents who preached “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Perhaps somewhat good guidance to prevent mean spirited communication, but I took it to heart in a rather co-dependent, self muzzling kinda way. It has take many years, dare I say 5 decades to trust myself to speak with tact even if I am delivering a less than desirable message. Sometimes the conversation is between myself and another person and then there are occasions when the communcation is between myself and the Universe. Sunday was one such.

For those who didn’t see yesterday’s Bliss Blog entry, I spoke about a transcendent experience that occurred on Sunday when I joined 1699 kindred spirits on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum (Rocky’s stomping grounds:) for Yoga On The Steps For Living Beyond Breast Cancer.  What I didn’t share was what happened before I set my feet and tush on my purple Gaiam yoga mat that has served me well since 2004 and has been the magic carpet that has taken me on many a journey both inward and outward.  I left my Bucks County, PA home in what I figured was plenty of time to arrive for 8:30 a.m. registration. Smooth sailing all the way, including Kelly Drive which is generally filled with cars. I was enjoying the bright and beautiful early morning sunshine, arm out the window, doing what our family called “breezing”, with the childhood admonition from my Uncle Jim “Don’t stick your arm out too far, it might go home in another car.” One of the perks of adulthood is that you get to breeze if ya wanna.  As I approached the art museum, I saw a line of folks waiting to register, that stretched a good way down the block. I turned my head to seek a parking spot. The nearby lot was full, so I curved around the block, expecting that I would find an “Uncle Jimmy spot” right away.  The same uncle who warned about the perils mentioned above was also adept at finding the perfect parking spot and he bequeathed that gift to me long before his passing. This time, the parking powers weren’t as forthcoming.  I drove around a six block radius for 20 minutes or so, feeling increasingly frustrated, about to tumble into major meltdown. Here I was on my way to a yoga event, feeling all churned up inside. I had seen several people pull into vacating spots, literally right in front of me. This felt like a test of the emergency sanity system.

It was then that I allowed myself to be less than zen and used words that aren’t in my spiritual vocabularly and let fly with a few expletives framing the word, “I demand a parking spot NOW, please!”  (still managed a bit of politeness:) Whatya know?  I drove onto a street that parallels the museum and the perfect spot was waiting for me, it was free and directly across from my destination. Bonus was that the registration line was much shorter by the time I got there. I laughed with delight and relief, wondering if it was that final push that allowed the Celestial parking attendant to open a place for my Jeep. Being raised to be nice, I have a difficult time with people who are demanding and entitled and anger is not my favorite emotional state and yet, there are times when it is called for and making reasonable demands may get you what you are asking for. At least it works for parking spots.

 

http://youtu.be/DUDtFdnn9oQ The Car Song by Woodie Guthrie

 

 

 

I didn’t come up with the title for this entry…it came through my friend Robin Renee as a response to a question I had asked. The image you are looking at is the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Sunday May 20th, 2012. For many people, the stucture brings to mind the indomitable spirit of Rocky Balboa as his pounding feet made their way up stairs which, if you haven’t traversed them, is tough enough to walk up, let alone ascend by running.

On this day, it was the site of the 10th annual Yoga On The Steps For Living Beyond Breast Cancer, which attracted 1700 yoga practitioners of  all ages, from tiny tots to white haired elders, as well as various skill levels and experience to raise money for the organization. It was the heart and brain child of Philly based yoga teacher Jennifer Schelter, her friend Courtney Kapp; a breast cancer thriver and Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Chief Executive Director Jean Sachs. Indomitable spirits all.

 

Jennifer Schelter

I attended for the first time in 2009 at the invitation of my high school friend Abe Morris, whose wife Andi is a two time breast cancer survivor whose team of supporters in their pink and black t-shirts this year is called ‘Andi’s Girls’ in double entendre’ reference to her body parts as well as the team members although some of her ‘girls’ are really guys, manly men all(:  Andi had been on the board of directors of the organization at the time. On that particular day, the wind and rain threatened to cascade a hardy and heart-y band of a few hundred entrepid souls over the stairs and into the Schuykill River near the museum. I wrote about the experience in my book, entitled The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary. The chapter is called Mammogram Mambo.

Andi and her brother

 

Yesterday’s weather could not have been more picture perfect, with broadly beaming sunshine that matched the spirits of the crowd who stretched and sweated, sang and meditated to the music of the divine Yvette Pecoraro. The experience was ushered in by NBC10 journalist Lu Ann Cahn, herself a two decade thriver. She and Jennifer Schelter encouraged all gathered there to strengthen and support each other and to know that no one need go it alone, whether we ourselves were facing a life changing diagnosis or knew someone who had. Throughout the one hour class, we were asked to bring to mind those whose love and support had sustained us and those who had triumphed over cancer and others who had left this plane as a result. My friend Cindy fits into the survivor/thriver category, since not only is she well, but she educates and advocates for prevention and health conscious choices and it was partly for her that I dedicated this practice. Although my mother who died in 2010 did not have cancer, thinking about her passing and the role she still plays in my stretching in ALL aspects of my life, brought tears. It isn’t unusual for me to cry on the mat, but this was particularly poignant.

Lu Ann Cahn

 

I was moved by the way Jennifer wove concepts into the practice, encouraging us to plant the gardens of our lives, to be heroes to ourselves and those in our lives,  as we did ‘hero pose’ invoking the spirit of community and cooperation. We did partner yoga exercises as well, and one in particular had a take home message that struck a chord in me. I worked with a woman named Randy who was parked on her own magic-carpet mat next to me. The asana was ‘boat pose’ and we were asked to grasp each others’ wrists and put our feet together and then lean back with our legs raised at a 45 degree angle. Because our hands and wrists were a bit sweaty  and kept slipping apart, we weren’t able to lift our legs. It wasn’t until we let go and spread our arms wide and just our legs do the work themselves, that we were able to fly unencumbered. We were then guided to sit back to back as we offered loving support. I liked the idea that somebody ‘had my back’.  The exercise ended by inviting us to bow in honoring, holding our hands in Namaste’ (prayer pose) in front of our hearts as our foreheads touched each others’ and we breathed in gratitude and blessings for each other and all those surrounding us.

 

 

Randy

I saw many friends from the yoga community and some I missed who I found out later were in the midst, including my friend Bill Tourtual, engaged in ‘wheel’.

 

One of the most cleverly named teams was called Tutus for Ta-tas (:

 

Oh and by the way…the question I had asked was “What would Rocky say about all of these folks on his steps?” to which Robin answered: “Yo-ga Adrianne!”

 

www.yvetteom.com to hear Yvette’s mystically mesmerizing music.

 

 http://thebreastblog.wordpress.com  Cindy Greb’s Breast Blog where she journals her journey.
www.lbbc.org  Living Beyond Breast Cancer    Even though the event is over, the ripples remain and there are still funds to be raised. The goal this year is $320,00 and folks can still donate for services that benefit women with breast cancer.  Go to the website for more info AND if you feel so moved, sign up for next year!  You will be so glad you did.
www.yogaonthesteps.org  Yoga On The Steps
The song that guided us all on our way home~
http://youtu.be/T1D3ejwQiVg  May the Long Time Sun sung by Snatam Kaur

 

I laugh as I write this entry, since as much as I was delighted when this book arrived in my mail box, I had to set it aside for a bit, since I didn’t have time to read it!  SO, that’s how I know that this heaping scoop of deliciousity was written for me and all of those creatives out there who dare to dive into delight!  Creating Time:  Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life came from the oh so fertile imagination of author and Muse Marney Makridakis. The cover is as colorful as a newly blossoming flower with symbols and imagery, doorways, portals, a butterfly (you know I’m gonna like that one:), an angel. a clock, a guitar, each at a point on a clock face. It beckons the reader to peruse the pages and take in a wealth of ideas to expand and enhance their horizons.

Although there is a format and structure, Marney acknowledges that busy people may need to skip around(:   I loved her use of contractions such as ARTbundance and at the end of each chapter are what she calls ARTsignments that allow for stretching our concept of time. Even though I don’t consider myself a graphic artist, I feel inspired with tickles and giggles of “Oooohhhh, I want to do that!” when I see what she and the other featured artists have created with found objects, paint, paper and boxes, to name just a few.

I just opened to the chapter “Creating Time Through Flow: Time Sighs When You’re Having Fun” and was moved by the idea of being in the zone, which is how I experience writing. When I am immersed in word soup, it seems as if time stands still and it is just me and the letters as they move from mind to fingers to keyboard.

The concepts of gratitude,  ritual, transcendance, synchronicity, kairos (gives me goosebumps, this one…since it is defined as numinous: supernatural, spiritual, holy) and of course, love are generously sprinkled throughout.  Each chapter leads with Poetic Pause such as

Time as crisp creases

Ancient origami dreams

Commit to each fold

Gorgeous and lush photos of artwork by contributors are scattered throughout this 268 page invitation to live a drenched with color life as you embrace each precious Now Moment. ~

www.ArtellaLand.com

http://youtu.be/FIzMeFBnwRI

 

 

 

What constitutes cheating in a relationship?  From the most blatant example of an all out under the covers romp to a so-called innocent flirtation with a co-worker that your partner or theirs doesn’t know about; the definition is broad based.  A marvelous guide that could be a relationship saver and healer was written by Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Sheri Meyers, Psy.D  It is called Chatting or Cheating: How To Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-Proof Your Relationship.  As a therapist myself, who has witnessed the devastating impact of what many of my clients have expressed felt like betrayal and violation, I see this book as a tool that should be in every  couples counselor’s library.

Sheri lays the groundwork from word one by acknlowedging the importance of love and partnership with those in her life. It is the very foundation of healthy, thriving relationships.  If this is so, then why would someone risk losing that?  The reasons are many and varied. What jumped out at me from the beginning of the book is that we are hungry for connection and initmacy and yet, on some level, fear it. She contends that ’emotional sex’ is more likely to occur when one of the partners feels that their needs are not being met in the primary relationship. Loneliness, Lack of Communication, Love and Attention Deficit, Boredom, Complacency and Emotional Distance, A Sexual Disconnection and Lack of Intimacy are all risk factors.

The term ’emotional sex’ is  described as ” an unspoken attraction, the deeply rooted need to bond, attached and feel loved, that turns a friendship into an affair…an affair of the heart that feels the same as romantic love…involves a great deal of deception, lies and betrayal…is extremely damaging to a relationship.” Boundary setting and ground rules for a relationship are the first step to assess where your feet are planted in this murky swamp. For some, the idea of acting in flirtatious ways that indicate he or she is single, crosses the line; for others, fantasizing about someone else while having sex with them, is out of bounds. With the marvels of modern technology, texting and social networking make it easier to go undetected, for a short while, but it leaves an electronic trail that will inevitably be stumbled upon.

Some startling stats: 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their relationship. 70% of married women and 54% of married men did not know of their spouses’ extramarital activity.

The user friendly sections of the book have engaging titles such as: Catching Them In The Act,  Trust Is A Two Way Street, A Healthy, Heart-Happy Partnership. Each chapter has grow it yourself tools and exercises that are practical and applicable to a multitude of circumstances. Real life examples and checklists are scattered throughout.

Although the language in the book is heterosexual, the dynamics apply to same sex relationships. Also, to clarify; there are other relationship models including ‘responsible non-monogamy’, also known as polyamory (translated as ‘many loves’) which is not the same as cheating if there is full disclosure and aggreement that other partners are possible in the midst of a primary relationship paradigm.

One of the most valuable aspects of the book, is that it doesn’t make anyone the ‘bad guy’ (although it doesn’t excuse abusive or manipulative behavior)   and it offers a sense of hope that healing and forgiveness are possible if each partner is willing to extend themselves and do the work.

www.chattingorcheating.com

http://www.straightfromtheheart.com

 

http://youtu.be/-ebtjgK8NNU  I couldn’t resist(: Straight From The Heart by Bryan Adams