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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Needs

This is one of those ‘confessional’ blog entries in which I come out of the closet and acknowlege that I am….oh my gosh….human. I present as someone who is confident, self assured, independent, a self starter. Once I get on the metaphorical bicycle, I keep pedaling to maintain momentum. At my full time day job in a hospital, I walk quickly, stating half jokingly, “You can’t hit a moving target.”  I do what is expected of me most of the time and when I am unable, I renegotiate.  A saint, I’m not….just reliable. All of this adds up to….physical and emotional exhaustion at times. Why?  Because I have this erroneous belief that I have to do it all myself, like a little kid who wants to tie her own shoes, button her own coat, walk to kindergarten on her own, just to prove that she can. Not arrogantly believing that my way is the right way, as much as feeling that I ‘should’ be able to keep up, carry the ball, be ‘the rock’, the caregiver….ad nauseum.  It’s what I have been hardwired to do and have learned from a master…my sweet mother who is probably still playing that role in her new Home for the past nearly 4 months, orchestrating from on High.

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A few years ago, I attended a workshop at The Omega Institute called Broken Open; led by Elizabeth Lesser, David Wilcox and Nance Pettit. One of the partner exercises had me teamed up with a woman who gave me a huge wake up call in the form of a response to an instruction at which I balked. We were to tell our partner about our greatest area of neediness…not needs, but neediness.  Just the thought of admitting needs let alone neediness, made me want to puke.  I told this woman how I was feeling and she said, not unkindly, but rather sharply “Do you think you’re better than the rest of us, that you don’t have needs?”  It took me but a moment to acknowlege the error in my thinking. When I am the one providing for someone else’s needs, I am in charge and get to decide how much to give, to whom and when to stop giving. When I am on the receiving end, I am at the whim of their decisions…I admit it, in that regard, I feel like a control freak. Now, years later, I had fallen into spiritual amnesia and had to be remind anew.

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As part of a workshop I did this past weekend, called Zoetic Expansion, the facilitator, Liora Hill, did a dialog with me about my lack of self-permission to have needs. She reminded me that no woman is an island and that needing is part and parcel of being human. “Yes but…”, my monkey mind chattered, “when you need someone, they will either leave or die first.”, which is the truth of relationship, “or you will leave or die.”  That occurred 12 years ago, when my husband passed. While she agreed with me, Liora pointed out that then I had other needs, such as community support and love, spiritual fulfillment and such. “Ok, what about asking for what you need and someone says no?”  How silly was that question, when I facilitate a workshop called Cuddle Party that is partly about that very dynamic? When someone says no, it’s not a rejection and it means you move on to ask someone else or find another way to get needs met. And then I told myself that I have ‘desires’ and ‘preferences’ not  ‘needs’, so as to avoid disappointment and the feeling of dependence.  Such a clever thing, is the monkey mind; attempting to convince us that needs= weakness. It’s kind of like the Henry Winkler Happy Days character “The Fonz” having a hard time choking out the words “I was wrrrrong.”

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What I am coming to realize is that this pseudo self-sacrificing belief and behavior keeps others at bay and prevents true intimacy. The truth is, I NEED YOU!  That generic human YOU, whether I have met you or you are simply in my cyber world. I can firmly state that we are inter-dependent, if this experience shows me nothing more than that. The people in my life; my family and friends, are willing to be there for me, to help meet needs. They can’t do it, though, if I don’t ask or aren’t willing to receive if they indeed offer. So here and now, I am willing to exercise my ability to ask for what I need and to graciously receive. I can trust that when called upon, the Universe is waiting to meet my needs.  For that I am grateful.

And as a further reminder…the Beatles, serenaded me with this song tonight.

 

Help   http://youtu.be/TU7JjJJZi1Q

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These Hands

A few years ago, my friend Naila Francis had asked those she knew to send her a poem called These Hands that would describe the ways in which we used our hands in our day to day lives. It was a beautiful mindfulness exercise for me and on occasion now, I bring to my awareness of what it is that we are capable of doing with these appendages that can be both healing or hurting, depending on intention.

These hands held a tiny baby bird and ferried it from a window-sill at Blockbuster video into a tree across a parking lot, so it could await the return of its family. I was assured by a woman who works at a bird sanctuary, that opposed to legend, mama birds do not reject their young if humans have touched them..

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These hands stroked wrinkled brows as transition neared from one form of life to another, while I was a nursing home social worker.

These hands have caressed lovers throughout the years, delighting both of us.

These hands dig deeply into the earth, planting seeds that blossomed into exquisitely beautiful flowers.

These hands tap on computer keyboards, expressing God-language in poetry and prose.

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These hands celebrate joyously as they clap to acknowledge inspired performances by artists, musicians, speakers, dancers and actors.

These hands held those of my husband for 5 ½ weeks while he was in a coma and grasped them tightly and then gently released them when he made his journey into the Light.

These hands offer loving Reiki energy and massage to those who are willing to receive.

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These hands grasp on to others as we spin in a spiral dance to celebrate our connection with the Divine.

These hands comfort mourning friends and family at the death of loved ones.

These hands enfold others as we gaze into each other’s eyes, seeing beyond the person before me and recognizing the kindred spirit.

These hands prepare food that nourishes body, mind and spirit.

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These hands turn the steering wheel to avoid hitting the deer who leapt in front of the car.

These hands stretch skyward when I am dancing in ecstasy.

These hands fold in prayer pose as I offer Namaste’ to those whose paths I cross.

These hands glide a miniature wooden rake across a Zen meditation garden to reduce stress.

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These hands play in soapy water as I wash the dishes, feeling the squeaky clean surface of a cobalt blue plate.

These hands join with others as we sit around the table blessing the food of which we are about to partake and those who have prepared it.

These hands scratch the ‘traveling itch’ on my son Adam’s back.

These hands soothe away my own tension after a long day.

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These hands provide a platform from which to blow kisses.

These hands apply clown make-up to my face as I transform into “Feather”.

These hands gladly write checks that are embellished with nature scenes, because my creditors trust me with their services in anticipation of payment.

These hands tap out a heart-beat rhythm on a drum, in time with creation.

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These hands support my body on my purple ‘magic carpet’ a.k.a. yoga mat as I place it in downward facing dog asana.

These hands eagerly pull on purple moon and star flannel pajamas to comfort me against the cold winter night.

These hands welcome new friends.

These hands cup the faces of dear ones.

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These hands enfold those of the couples I marry, offering a blessing to seal the wedding ceremony.

These hands pile bundles of newspapers to put out for recycling.

These hands are connected to my heart.

 

 

What do your hands do?

 

Sharing a beautiful song by Jewel, called Hands

 

http://youtu.be/f5gQeA5uETU


 

In the end, only kindness matters~

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If I Were Brave

Jana Stanfield is an ebullient-effervescent, sonic spiritweaver whose music has been heard on Oprah, 20/20, Entertainment Tonight and the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, among others. Her tunes have been covered by numerous artists, including Andy Williams, Suzy Bogguss. Karen Taylor-Good and Megan McDonough. I came upon her soul tickling sound via one of her videos of a song she penned with Jimmy Scott, called If I Were Brave. It now has a cherished home on my ipod and listen to it each day on my way to work and as a tune up any other time I need it. It reminds me of how much we are capable of, if only we allow ourselves to reach and stretch beyond our self imposed limitations.

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How do you live your bliss?

International travel is my favorite form of enlightenment. It “lightens my load” of self-imposed limitations. As I write this, I’m on a 9 hour bus ride through Borneo…where I’ve been in the rain forest for the past 4 days, at Orangutan Rescue Centers, visiting our red-headed first cousins.

What inspires your music?

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My biggest inspiration is the desire to be helpful. I wanted to be a social worker. This music is my social work, my way of doing good in the world, and in doing so, supporting others’ good work in the world. I love it when people who are doing good things use my music to share with their groups. We are increasing the power of each others’ positive ripples.

How did my new favorite mantra “If I Were Brave” come to be?

In a song called, “UBUIME” (translation: You Be You, I Am Me) I wrote in James Taylor’s style, wrote it about James Taylor, and the song was about asking for Jame’s advice. In the song, he actually called me back, and said, “BSUR, SUC, SIMIM” (translation: Be As You Are, As You See, As I Am I Am), which is a line from the James Taylor song called “BSUR.” None of that happened it real life, mainly because of my fears.

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So how did “If I Were Brave” come to be?

I’ve never had the courage to send James Taylor that song. “If I Were Brave” keeps me doing a little more, and a little more, every day. Maybe SOMEDAY I’ll even have the courage to try to reach James Taylor.

What is your growing edge when it comes to bravery and living from the heart and soul?

Great question! My growing edge is embracing more international travel without completely knowing everything about how the money will come in to support that. We’ve heard that “every birth is a little death.” Part of the challenge of our growing edge is that it takes us a little further away from “the known”, and “the known” always feels safer than the unknown. In order to stay on that growing edge, it takes a song like, “If I Were Brave,” or “What Would I Do This Year If I Had No Fear?” to keep our confidence up.

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I know you have been traveling lately. What adventures have you had?

I believe we are given our aspirations and our inspirations, our aptitudes and our abilities, our desires and our dreams for a reason. For a long time I have wanted to go see the orangutans in Borneo. Orangutans are in danger of extinction because their habitat, the jungles of Indonesia and Malaysia, are being cut down for palm oil plantations. Around Thanksgiving this year, I’ll be leading a trip, taking people with me to Borneo to see them, and to see how we can help. It was an awesome experience being with them for 4 days, and I can’t wait to share it with whoever wants to join me this fall.

What would you say to someone who lets fear rather than courage lead the way?

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I’d like right in the mirror and say, “Jana you have a choice…to strengthen your fear muscles or your courage muscles today. The courage muscles often lead to more fun…so let’s go with that.” It’s not easy to make that choice. The song, “George Bailey” is very much about being courageous, to avoid the bigger fear of missing out on wonderful experiences.

Who inspires you?

My inspiration is my mom, Nancy Ferguson, who taught elementary music most of her life and still enthusiastically teaches piano lessons at 72. Among other things, her direct words inspired my songs, “Sing, Love,Dance” and “Do All You Can, While You Can.”

 

www.janastanfield.com

 

If I Were Brave

http://youtu.be/UF5V2PEujqs   

 

 

 

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The Adjustment Bureau

                                                                     

Choice or Chance?  Free will or B’shert (Hebrew for ‘meant to be’)? Divine Plan or Random Occurence?  Do you believe that you are at the effect of a Higher Purpose for your life that was scripted by God or that you make choices moment by moment?  Perhaps a combination of the two?

These are the themes of the recently released blockbuster movie The Adjustment Bureau. Starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, it takes their characters of New York senate candidate David Norris and ballet dancer/choreographer Elise Sellas and places them in a series of experiences that challenge the intent of a team of dark suited, hat wearing mystery men.  At nearly every turn, they do their best to keep the erstwhile lovers at bay for a purpose to be discovered near the end of this poignant film that had me smiling in recognition and anticipation of its plot twists.

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Fascinated with the repeated imagery of mirrors and a multitude of doors, I noted that it reinforced the various options that life seems to present…or does it?  What I enjoyed most about the film, is the nakedly honest spiritual conversation that takes place throughout. The head honcho; a character referred to as “The Chairman” is clearly God although S/he is never seen n the movie and the members of the Adjustment Bureau are stand-ins for angels or as the most soft hearted, sympathetic one referred to as Harry, states “We’re more like case officers.” 

For every person, they carry with them a book that has maps and lines drawn on it and a series of swirling red circles with intricate designs that look for all the world like spinning chakras.  Each line represents a path that the person is ‘meant to’ take.  A series of events is slated to take place that would have Damon’s character engage in a particular experience that is ‘supposed’ to have him narrowly miss re-connecting with Blunt’s Elise, but because ‘chance’ intervenes, it never occurs and they do indeed come face to face years after their initial meeting.

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At one point, a member of the team sent to re-direct Norris implies that human beings have botched the world royally when allowed free will so that they needed to regain control of the goings on of humanity. Once Norris has “seen behind the curtain you weren’t supposed to know existed.”, upon discovering the true identity of these beings, he is instructed not to divulge the secret or his brain will be ‘erased’. Good motivation to remain mum.

What happens when we resist the ‘plan’ is an ongoing  dialogue between ourselves that “God of our understanding”.  The film asks more questions than it answers.  Can love triumph over destiny?  Are our fates so interwoven that one choice, one seemingly inocuous decision, effects someone elses’ outcomes?

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I enjoy considering the ways in which the threads of my life have been woven that have me meeting certain people so that I could have particular experiences that take me places I likely would not have gone, had those earlier events not have transpired. I joke with friends and folks that I interview, for example that perhaps the reason I know them at this point in my life, is that however many years ago, the seeds were planted that are now coming to fruition that have allowed for this very moment in time to occur as it does.  Things that would have been inconceivable at earlier points in my life, now come into perspective; even and perhaps, especially the challenging or painful times.

What are some of the defining moments of your life?

 

www.theadjustmentbureau.com

 

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