The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Make Your Life Spectacular

 

 

jackmoviecoverA few days have passed since the world heard the devastating news that someone who entered their lives and lodged in their hearts (even if they never met face to face), had succumbed to the depression that had followed him for much of his life. When Robin Williams died, so too did the illusion that many carried about mental health issues and addictions. That is one positive thing that came out of a desperate act to end pain.  I have read professional journalists’ various takes on why he did what he did, what it all meant and perhaps ways of preventing it from happening to someone else. I have also seen input from others who have been where he was and who understand the irrational rationale that surrounded it. Blessedly, I have not heard of any ‘copycat’ events that sometimes occur when people glamorize suicide. It has brought out the best and worst in people, with some snarky, totally inappropriate comments from both ‘professionals’ and lay people.

One of the other things I have been glad to see is the impact Robin had on the lives of people, not because of his dramatic or comedy work, but because of the every day kindness and decency he exhibited.  Supporting athletes with seeming physical challenges and hiring folks who were homeless, for his movie projects, are two examples. I have not read a bad word said about him. Did he have demons that plagued him? Yup. Had he faced the same doubts, relationship challenges and pitfalls into which many stumble?  Uh huh…and he did it in the public eye, making it all the more daunting to recover.

There have also been beautiful tribute articles going around, as well as a one minute video. This one really touched my heart. It is about making your life spectacular; as expressed by the character he played in the movie called Jack. At his High School commencement speech, he had this wisdom to share:

“In the end none of us have very long on this earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer skies, when the stars are strung across the velvety night, and a shooting star streaks through the blackness turning night into day. Make a wish. Think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.”

This is Jack’s challenge and mine to you. Instead of waiting for ‘someday’ to live full out or for your dreams to come true, plant the seeds right now, this very moment. Instead of hoping for love to come to you, BE love, live as embodied love. Rather than bemoaning your fate, create your own destiny. If you find yourself, or lose yourself feeling swamped by emotional turmoil, seek support. It may make a difference, even if for one more day. Imagine how you could touch lives and open hearts. You deserve a spectacular life!

 

 

 

When Lives Touch

 

heartofgold2

 

I have been pensive lately for many reasons. The first is that I am still in relatively new life renewal mode. Two months ago, I was lying in a hospital bed with all manner of accutrement attached to my arms; beeping and chirping away. A pin hole was poked into my right wrist, allowing for the insertion of a stent that was placed in a collapsed artery. I can still see it and it is fading, but not my resolve to see this as a do-over. My schedule has changed dramatically as I am now working from home full time, living a cherished dream as a writer. I have what I would have thought of as the luxury to take care of myself in ways I never had before. Even though I am busy, I am not frenzied. Even though I have deadlines to meet, I can come up for air. Often over the years, I have felt as if I was holding my breath just to get through a day jam packed with activity. My friends would tell me that they would feel exhausted just hearing me chant the litany of my daily to do list.

When before I would have said yes to nearly every request made of me, more often I am feeling my way into it and saying no, if I am truly unwilling to say yes. I was laughingly telling my cousin Jody yesterday that I was looking for things to say no to, just to practice it. Ironically, the more I say no to what I choose not to do, the more life affirms me. Doors keep opening easily that had seemed bolted before. How grace filled things can be when I am in surrender mode.

A friend had asked a question on her Facebook page about the best thing that had happened in our lives in 2014. Immediately and ironically, I said that the heart attack was it. If not for its occurrence, I would still be running a gazillion miles an hour, sleeping little, working too much, too hard, scrambling for success, immersed in my workaholic ways. Clear and simple, I am a workaholic who needs to be mindful of the effects of that addiction as surely as an alcoholic needs to steer clear of the bottle. The truth is I can’t refrain from working, but it needs to be at a sane and reasonable pace. As a result of the cardiac condition, I have shifted gears in my writing; coming from the heart in all areas. I have used my gifts to share information to caution others to learn from my experience. From that vantage point, I have been able to touch lives that I might never have otherwise.

I also have been considering the mystery of whether anything is random or it is all carefully mapped out, or perhaps a combination of the two. Had I made a soul contract to lose my beloved grandmother at age 4, to be diagnosed with asthma soon after, so that at 11 I would join a swim team which would become a favorite activity for many years, which would lead me to coaching and then deciding to enter into the field of therapy since I liked serving in a teaching/counseling mode? That in turn brought me to Glassboro State College where I also worked in a crisis intervention center where I met many who are still in my life to this day (3 with whom I got to spend precious time a few weeks ago). Fast forward and my spiritual practices and interests had me going to hear a presentation by Ram Dass and during the intermission, I was introduced to a man who I would marry, with whom I would co-create a magazine called Visions, which would launch my journalism career. When he died, I would become an interfaith minister and free lance journalist who is now typing these words. Along the way, I have crossed paths with thousands of people in the various and sundry personal and professional roles I play.

This week I received an envelope in the mail marked ‘hand cancel’. It came from my friend Vicki. When I eagerly opened it, I saw this gold cardiac muscle shaped heart and it informed me that it was my heart of gold. I felt loved and it reinforced the belief that I sometimes feel challenged to accept, that I do have a heart of gold that guides me to touch and be touched by the people in my life.

 

 

 

 

Good Morning, Robin

 

 

robiniwilliams

 

It’s now 5:20 a.m. and I’ve been awake for nearly an hour. Like most who heard or read the news yesterday that one of the most prolific actors and comedians ‘left the building’ by his own hand, I have experienced a myriad of emotions. My initial reaction- as my father always uttered when a loved one died, was “Ah, no.” It was as if someone had reached in and twisted my gut. Although I had never met the man in person, he seemed familiar since he initially entered my home in the form of a loveable, quirky space dude named Mork. Perhaps I felt a kinship with the character as someone who told her parents that she was ‘an alien baby left on their doorstep.’

His movies never failed to move me. Although I likely have watched most of them and enjoyed those that were Hollywood hits such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, Good Morning, Vietnam, The Dead Poet’s Society and Patch Adams, it was the more esoteric that really touched me: Moscow on The Hudson, Toys,  What Dreams May Come and Bicentennial Man.  Each of those roles showed a different side of the man; his depth and range as an actor.

I remember watching an HBO special many years ago in which he flipped and flitted from one character to the next while guzzling bottle after bottle of water as sweat poured forth from him. He must have had a dozen of them on a table next to him. I wondered if he really did have that many characters within him and if he could truly tell who the real Robin was.

Last week, he came to mind and I told that story and commented that he likely experienced the symptoms of bi-polar disorder as had his mentor, Jonathan Winters. When I heard that he had voluntarily re-entered treatment for substance abuse, I cheered for him, since he said that he did it to avoid relapse. From  an article in the Huffington Post:

Williams has struggled with substance abuse since the 1980s. He previously admitted to cocaine and alcohol addiction and entered rehab in 2006 for  alcoholism after 20 years of sobriety. He later told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that his falling off the wagon was “very gradual.”

“It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there,” he said in a 2006 interview. “It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK. Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.’”

Depression and addiction can be among the most insidious diseases, confounding those who experience them and even those of us who are trained to treat them. They are masters of illusion, convincing those who live with the symptoms, that reality is one way when it is indeed, another.

Who knows what went through Robin’s mind when he made the decision to end his life? Was it a sense of darkness so profound that no amount of levity could burst its way through? Had he simply been a witness to all the joy he brought others throughout his career and not absorbed enough of it to sustain his own life force energy? Did he not know how loved he was by his family, friends and fans?

“Death is nature’s way of saying, “Your table’s ready.” May you eat, drink and be merry, Robin and may your cup always overflow with love.

Photo credit: MediaNews Group

 

 

 

 

Prison or Prism

“Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw the mud, the other saw stars.” (I’ve seen it attributed to Frederick Langbridge and Dale Carnegie)

 

As this article is taking shape, the late afternoon into early evening sunlight is slanting through the half dome window in my living room, causing what since childhood, I have thought of as angel sliding boards. Dust specks dancing in the sunbeams that seem magical and not just evidence that I need to do more serious cleaning. I know that Spirit takes all kinds of forms and I welcome it into my life on a daily basis.

This morning, I was sitting in the midst of a standing room only gathering to say farewell for the second time in a week to my friend Bob Goodwin who joined the cosmic crew at 91. A photo sat on the table that also was draped with his minister’s stole with interfaith symbols embroidered on it, as well as a butterfly that one of the members of our community had found on the path while he was walking to church this morning. The butterfly is the logo for Circle of Miracles. To look at the picture, you would never know that this vibrant man had entered into the 9th decade of life. He was colorful, funny, alert, deeply spiritual, questioning everything, except love. And love is what was swirling around the room.

His wife, Hannelore is the minister of our interfaith community and although I imagine she was immersed in a whirlwind of emotion, she was ever the leader who used both humor and humility to share her message with us today. Vulnerability was evident as she told the tale of the journey that led her to that moment. She spoke on the topic….”If It Hadn’t Been For…” which called forth the idea that experiences; as painful as they might be, wind inexorably to where we are now. I loved the imagery she evoked, of prison vs. prism. We can keep ourselves locked behind imaginary cold, hard, impenetrable steel doors of fear and regret, reinforced with the belief that things will never improve OR we can view the events through a prism, which allows us to see reflections and multi-facets. Confinement or creative possibility? What if the very things we are experiencing are part of a grander plan?

As I look back on my own life, I can wholeheartedly agree that even the most tumultuous relationships, the deepest losses, the perceived rejections, the crises have been exercise equipment that made me stronger and more resilient. Still not convinced that everything is pre-planned and I do believe in free will, but I have a sense that there are soul agreements we make and God/Goddess/All That Is, has some kind of divine design in the works. Things are too cosmically coincidental not to be made of that stuff. Do I wish things had been easier at times?  Absolutely. I do know that every seemingly closed door allowed for the opening of a portal into another opportunity that I might have otherwise missed.

I would much prefer the rainbow hued dancing light that allows me to see infinite possibility than the darkness of imprisonment with the fear of a life sentence.

 

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