The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

As Is

I am dipping into the well of wisdom from the amazing Courtney A. Walsh once again for today’s Bliss Blog since it ties in with what I have been coming smack dab up against lately.

“The universe doesn’t want/wish/desire/need us to be better/faster/stronger/richer/thinner/taller funnier or smarter. In love’s eyes, we’re perfect always. In fear’s eyes, we’re never having/doing/being enough. Adjust your vision. See mirrors as a reflective tool; not an enemy taunting us towards constant improvement. Love life gently & fully into the now”.~CAW

Many years ago, the words you are about to read poured forth from me in response to a struggle I was facing after my husband died and I was offered the opportunity from the universe to recreate my life.

 

“When my Spirit is in need of a lift, I call my friend Murray Needleman. Seems like I have known him forever; but it’s more like close to half my life. I heard his voice before I actually met him live and in person. You see, once upon a time, Murray, a Clinical Psychologist, was a radio talk show host on Philadelphia station WWDB. He had a call-in show on Friday nights and people would pour the contents of their hearts out for Murray to help them sort through and patch back together. In soothing tones, with a strong Philadelphia accent, he would challenge their worn out beliefs and assist them in finding their own answers. He became a friend of ours when my husband Michael and I were publishers of Visions and we sponsored him as a speaker at our office. I know it’s a platitude, but to know Murray is to love him. He always senses when to call me or if I call him, he always says the same thing: “I was just thinking about you, dear heart.” This time, I needed an emotional tune up, precipitated by the ordeal with the loss of voice and the accompanying fears, so I called Murray to schedule an appointment with him. A few days later, I found myself in Murray’s eclectic office, greeted with a warm, welcoming hug. My friend contains multitudes…part Buddha; physically and spiritually, part playful imp who loves to make waves and then help people ride them, part colorful cosmic clown, part compassionate listener (one of the best I know) and part dedicated therapist for the past 40 some years, with an encyclopedic knowledge of human behavior. Also know that Murray is his own man when it comes to fashion. Year round, his feet are shod in Birkenstocks sans socks. He generally wears a tropical style shirt. His crowning glory these days is snowy linen white, that encircles a face with angelic eyes that peer out behind many years of laugh lines. Ushered into the waiting room and offered ginger tea (the strongest I have ever had) and clementines, I gazed at the walls which were embellished with photos that his wife Anne had taken of the Grand Canyon, a poster of Albert Einstein, another that gave instructions for “How To Launch A Dream”, a sign that encourages the reader to “Embrace The Weirdness” and another that says “When you don’t understand, the world is as it is. When you understand, the world is as it is.” On the wall near his office was a familiar sight; the framed cover of Visions Magazine that featured the grinning face of Murray circa 1988. He still had it!


Entering his inner sanctum, I beheld the image of one of my spiritual teachers; Ram Dass; a poster from the original Woodstock concert in all its psychedelic glory, several photos of Murray with one of his teachers; Muktananda, others of Murray and his grandchildren and still another of Murray wearing a dashiki, standing in front of Cinderella’s castle with Anne and their two young children back in the 1970’s. On his desk were a few Buddha’s, Yoda, a crystal, a big toothy grinning smile on a spring and a sign that read “I only have ears for you.” On the inside of his door was an Alex Grey poster and on another door, a sign proclaiming the virtues of “Paradox and Surprise” which is really what life is about.


Settling down into a comfy chair within arm’s length proximity of Murray; the better to allow him to reach out with physical support, the session began. In the nearly two hours we spent together; we left no stone unturned. His on-target observations had me laughing and crying alternately and then simultaneously. Good thing he had lots of tissues. Three of the biggest represented demons that I have long carried. Some of it involved the persona that I present vs. who I really am. He reminded me that I need not do anything to be loved, that the magic isn’t in being the writer-speaker-clown-healer-networker. “You’re the magic.”, he emphatically told me. All that fluff isn’t necessary.” Then as we explored relationship issues, he said “I want to you say these words… Come to me, I won’t kill you.” Gulp and then sobs…for so long, on some level, I believed that although I hadn’t killed my husband (the Hep C virus that had ravaged his body and ultimately took his life was within him long before we met), I couldn’t heal him either. There wasn’t enough love in the world to do that, since I knew on some level that 48 years was all he had signed up for. My fear on an unconscious level was that I would love again and the person would die. No wonder I have kept The One at bay! Lastly, he asked me, ” Can you accept someone in your life right now, as is? As you are, without changing anything in your situation or yourself? Are you ready for that?” Another deep breath and big swallow. At that point, the familiar (from last week) fifth chakra closing/choking sensation kicked in and a sharp pain in my left ear ensued. When I told Murray about these unpleasant sensations, he grinned, knowing that we had hit a home run on that one. “Who are you if you come as you are?” he queried. “Just average, nothing special.”, I replied sadly. He assured me again, that the magic wasn’t going anywhere. He invited me to end the contract with Michael; the one that spoke of pain and loss. He encouraged me to end the contract with my 18 year old son Adam; the one that dictated a commitment to take care of him beyond what was reasonable. He instructed me to write a contract with myself. And so I am doing all three simultaneously. Today at work, I posted a two word sign on my office wall that says quite simply: ” AS IS”.


As I am integrating all of this today, I express deep gratitude to my dear friend Murray for loving me, as I am learning to love myself: “as is”.

 

 

 

Re-reading the insights of the six year younger Edie, tears are flowing, since not much has changed in terms of the fears that haunt me. Yes, I have more resilience, more aha moments that have me grinning with recognition of what is so. I have gathered around me, kindred souls who reflect Murray’s beliefs about who I am and yet, sometimes those doubt monsters come roaring back at me. And so it seems, I am a work in progress.

 

Are you willing to (at least consider) accepting yourself  ‘as is’?  Let’s take this voyage together.

New Year Of The Trees

Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar — celebrated this year on Thursday, February 8, 2012 — is the day that marks the beginning of a “New Year for Trees.” Some people refer to it as “Jewish Arbor Day”. Trees are valued in the Jewish tradition.  To honor a milestone or memorialize someone who has died, trees are often planted in Israel in that person’s name. The Tree of Life (Etz haChayim in Hebrew) is a potent symbol in Kabbalistic Judaism.

 

In anticipation of the holiday, at Pebble Hill Church; an interfaith community in Doylestown, PA of which I have been a part since 1984, my friend Gary Schoenberg led the service entitled Cultivating A Miracle Mindset. Gary guided us, through story and song, ritual and sharing as we learned about Tu B’Shevat.  We enjoyed various fruits for the purpose of  honoring  the Four Worlds. He incorporated concepts from A Tu b’shevat Seder created by The Jewish Women’s Center of Pittsburgh, Inc.

1.  Assiyah, or Action, the physical world around us. 
2.
Yetzirah
, or Formation, the world of feelings and emotions. 
3. B’riyah
, or Creation, the world of knowing, and the mind. 
4. 
Atzilut, or Emanation, the world of spirituality.

 

  •  

    For Assiyah (earth, action), we eat nuts and fruits with a tough skin to remind us of the protection the earth gives.

  • Through this act we acknowledge that

  • we need protection in life, both physical and emotional.
  • For Yetzirah (heart, formation), we eat fruits with a tough inner core.

  •  

  • Through this act we acknowledge the need to fortify our hearts. With a

  • strong heart and a pure vision, our lives grow richer and deeper.

    Fruits of this group, which are edible on the outside with a hard inner pit include: dates, olives, cherries, peaches and avocados.

  •  

  • For B’riyah (air, mind, creation), we eat fruits that are completely edible. In this world, where God’s protection is close at hand, we can let go of all barriers and try on freedom. As co-creators with God, each of our thoughts becomes action.

    Fruits in this group include: figs, carob, grapes, berries, apples and pears.

     

  • Rabbi Chiyya ben Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: “Whoever keeps the fig tree shall eat of its fruit. The fruit of the fig tree does not ripen all at once. The more one searches, the more figs one finds in it. So it is with the words of the Torah. The more one studies them, the more relish one finds in them.”

  •  

  • The world of Atzilut (fire, spirit) is the ethereal world of emanation. It is a purely spiritual idea, and thus, we do not eat any fruit for this world.

    There’s a fire alive, within every living cell of every being. 

  • The carbons we eat burn in the presence of 
    the oxygen we breath, giving us the energy to be.
     
    This spark of light is our connection to the Divine.

     

  • Just as the natural world goes through changes to achieve its full potential, we also need to change so that we can be free to grow. In doing so, we will become strong like healthy trees, with solid roots in the ground and our arms open to the love that is all around us.

  •  

    As I sat, surrounded by kindred spirits, engaged in miracle making of their own; after all, each breath, each heartbeat is a miracle, I wondered what transformation was taking place within me that I might not even be aware of at that moment.  What seeds were being planted with each thought that would someday come to fruition?   Were there areas in my life in which I needed to develop a tough inner core to sustain the sweet fruit on the outside?   Can I be truly available to whatever life brings and to the people I encounter, as the fruits described above that are completely edible? And can I fully trust that which I can not always see, hear, feel and touch, knowing that creation is always happening and ever evolving?

     

    From an environmental perspective, I invite you to consider how you and I and all life are intertwined, like the vines and leaves that blossom and grow and our shared consciousness can help to sustain our beautiful planet.

     

    Lo Yisa Goy by Libana

     

    Public Domain (Isaiah 2:4)

    Lo yisa goy el goy cherev
    V’lo yilm’ du od milchama! (4x)

    And every (one) man ‘neath
    his vine and figtree
    Shall live in peace and unafraid. (2x)
    And into plowshares turn their swords,
    Nations shall learn war no more! (2x)

     

    http://youtu.be/cnHhy6aQJXQ

  •  

  •  

  •  

  • Welcome Wagon

    When my Mom died back in November, I had her mail forwarded to my address so that I could continue to handle her affairs.  Envelopes began trickling Northward from her former home in Florida to mine here in Pennsylvania. Last week a bulkier package arrived that many of you have seen if ever you have moved from one community to another. It included info and coupons for local services. The words that danced upon it were Welcome Wagon; the purpose of which is to help folks feel at at home in their new digs. 

    It set me to wondering whether there is a Celestial Welcome Wagon when we depart this home for our new HOME wherever it is.  I hear tell from those who have had near death experiences and returned to share their experiences, that they were greeted by loved ones who showed them around and helped them (albeit briefly) adust to their arrival. I have heard descriptions of what things are like ‘on the other side’. (I use quotation marks, since I am relating only what I have heard, read or seen in movies)

    I would like to think that loved ones come to the stepping off point to hold out open arms and heart. In one of my favorite movies, called “Made In Heaven”, the character Mike Shea played by Timothy Hutton is greeted upon his death by his Aunt Lisa played by Maureen Stapleton.  He lands in her apartment that she has created in her own mind, overlooking the Eiffel Tower. In life, she had wanted to be a painter, so that was the reality she envisioned for herself. She encouraged Mike to visualize what he wanted and where he chose to go and then ta-da! He was there as well.

    In this moment, I ask those of you who may have had near death experiences  (NDE) to feel free to share your time and memories of what you encountered.  What was your welcome to heaven like?

     

    A glimpse of Heaven

    http://youtu.be/pH_JiuRYdgc

     

    Thriver

    I met Janet Berkowitz back in the mid 1980’s through our mutual friend; author and speaker Alan Cohen. A group of us had been invited to her home to watch the classic Franco Zeffirelli film Brother Sun, Sister Moon. I was drawn to her laughter and welcoming presence. What I didn’t know at the time, was that facade hid a frightening secret. For much of her life, Janet faced sometimes paralyzing depression that in the interceding years would have her hospitalized on numerous occasions and send her plummeting into addiction in an effort to manage her symptoms. By the grace of God and through deep personal practice, Janet has been clean and sober since 1987. What I admire most about this amazing woman is that she is much more than a survivor. She is a thriver who has taken her own lessons and turned them into workshops and performance pieces that she, along with her husband, Phil Garber, offers through their organization called Creative Communication Builders.

    How do you live your bliss?

    Lately, it’s been my bliss to be with people and share open dialogue with them when they are ready to be vulnerable.

    How did you become a mime and performance artist?

    I was performing in shows in high school. I’d caught the bug from my mother who’d studied acting and did local theater. I became a mime, in 11th grade, when I quickly needed an idea for a class project, which I’d fashionably left to the last minute. I had read an article in Smithsonian Magazine about mime becoming popular in the U.S. I created a Charlie Chaplin type of character based on the pictures in that article. My mother would direct my self-designed skits. Then I started seeing Marcel Marceau (world famous mime) when he toured America and I mimicked his work. Eventually my own ideas for skits came through.

    I know that A Course In Miracles has been a pivotal part of your life. How do you feel it guides you?


    I have been keeping it very simple with A Course In Miracles these days: constantly checking to see if what I’m up to is love or fear.

    You have the ability to take the devastating subject of suicide and transform it into something profound and perhaps even lifesaving for others. How did that come to be?


    My work in the field of suicide awareness and prevention came strictly out of desperation. I called all over the country and could find only one group that supported people who were experiencing suicidal ideation or behavior: Suicide Anonymous, unfortunately only in Tennessee. I kept hearing God’s voice saying “Start your own groups.” It was the closest thing to His guidance that I’d heard in the many years since suffering with crippling depression. I started a Suicide Anonymous meeting in N.J. and co-designed a workshop addressing the topic using the arts.

    What keeps you going when you face the challenges of your own mental health experiences?

    What keeps me going when faced with challenges is to keep busy, especially with art projects….mostly with ones I give as gifts.

    What would you suggest for others when they are feeling despair?

    When people are feeling despair I suggest they immediately reach out of themselves and relate to someone else: first by phone, then in person. Get to some sort of meeting. If no other 12 step group works there’s Emotions Anonymous.

    Do you have a favorite performance piece?

    My most favorite recent performance piece is a dance collage, where I dance to all kinds of different snippets of music (everything from the Monkees to ACDC). I do it just for fun!  But I guess my all time fave is ‘Global Unity’, in which I’m reaching out to all kinds of different people in need of help and in the end learning to love myself.


    www.creativecommunicationbuilders.com


    http://youtu.be/_nAM1GU_Ps4 is a video of Phil and Janet performing Dance Collage at Phil’s recent birthday party.

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