The Bliss Blog



Writing this with a sty in my eye, obscuring my physical vision, but not blurring my insight. What is surprising is that this time the impairment is on my right side. Over the past few years, I have had shingles, kidney stones, plantar fasciitis, a heart attack and a Bakers’ Cyst, all on the left side of my body. Balance is a good thing in most cases. I know that a sty is a non-contagious bacterial infection that causes a lovely lump with gook in it that I can’t wait to be free from. Warm compresses, sans makeup, attempting to keep my hands away from my eye, resting it when I can, are all called for. From a metaphysical perspective, I wonder what I am needing to see.

According to You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay:

Eye: Represents the capacity to see clearly past, present, future.

Sty: Looking at life through angry eyes. Angry at someone.

I consider my life in the moment. I have been exploring all three time-frames and know that while I can’t change my past, I always have the capacity to alter how I see it and what I want to do to claim my life choices in each moment to propel me into a happier future. I teach it and preach it, so I had better live it. There are moments when I feel shoulda woulda coulda regrets but realize it is futile to hang on to what I can do nothing about. Much of my what if and if only thoughts come from the time period spanning my marriage back in the 80’s and 90’s. I am keenly aware that had I not married Michael, I would likely not have become a journalist since we published a magazine from 1988-1998 and when he died, I became a freelancer. Had I not married Michael, I would not have become an interfaith minister since he was the one in seminary and when he died, I completed the work he started and was ordained instead. Had I not married Michael, I would not have adopted my son and seen him through a challenging childhood and adolescence into successful and happy adulthood. Although I can’t claim total responsibility for how he evolved, I know I contributed. Had I not married Michael, I likely would not have become a bereavement counselor, since his illness and subsequent death taught me so much about loss and grief and made me a more adept guide for others. Had I not married Michael, I likely would not have learned as much as I did about my co-dependent tendencies that played a role in our paradoxical marriage that sometimes pulls me back away from the here and now into the there and then. I know that I have still (19 years after his passing) harbored anger and shame over events that were part of our time together. Even after all this time and heaps of personal work, some memories linger that I would much rather forget.

What I know is that unhappiness is the gap between how I think things ought to be and how they are in the moment. The question is, can I sit in the just don’t know-in-between until something changes (or nothing changes) and I come to peace with it? My pattern has been to rush past what I was unhappy about (spiritual bypass), rather than give myself permission to have a pouty pity party. A whole lot of ‘How come? It’s not fair’ I can then have compassion for myself and be less likely to take stuff personally.

Learning to see things from a higher perspective.

Listening to the show called Sleepy Hollow on my favorite radio station,WXPN, as is my Saturday and Sunday morning ritual. It starts my weekends off with sonic sweetness as it offers easing- me- out -of -or lounging- in -bed mode. This morning it is the second as I prep for a day that I know will stretch my ability to be in compassion for myself. I was asked to officiate at the memorial service/Celebration of Life for the husband of a friend who saw him through a recent hospice journey that ended when he took his leave a few days ago. When I awoke that morning, I sensed that it would be his last day incarnate. A few hours later, I received a message from one of his daughters. Sometimes it sucks being psychic. Of course, I will need to be fully present for my friend and her family, while processing my own losses over the years.

I was speaking with a friend last night about my somewhat numbed emotions. Death doesn’t frighten me. I speak about it nearly every day in my therapy practice. Many of my clients have lost loved ones; some fairly recently. I listen and offer what guidance I can to help them navigate unpredictable and choppy waters that threaten to capsize their boat and toss them adrift. Some believe they will drown in a sea of despair and it’s my job to hold out a life preserver. Sometimes I tear up a bit with them. How much of it is empathy and how much my own unexpressed grief over the deaths of my husband and parents? I may never sort that out. Michael passed 19 years ago, my father died in 2008 and my mother joined him in 2010. Each transition brought with it, valuable lessons that serve me personally and professionally and helped me to appreciate life all the more since it was reinforced that everyone is on loan to us and we to them.

When I am tempted to complain about aspects of my life that feel limited or less than fulfilling, I remember the kind souls who surround me with love and support. Some are new friends and others (like the woman whose husband’s service I will be officiating this afternoon), have been part of my life for more than a decade and still others, many of the nearly six decades I have been incarnate. Hard to imagine that I will reach the milestone of 60 years on the planet this time around. As I contemplate that fact, I am experiencing butterflies in my stomach and a myriad of emotions. Some uncertainty, since we never know from one day to the next what will unfold before us. I do my best to stay sane and vertical in the midst of it all. A few days ago, a client asked me what got me through multiple losses and serious illnesses. I credited the ‘three f’s of family, friends, and faith’. Without them, I would have floundered. Even with them, there are times when I experience overwhelm. I am amazed that on any given day, my life includes many activities. Yesterday was such a one.

I began the morning at 9:30, teaching kidlets at a daycare center (4-6-year-olds) mindfulness, as they taught me as well. Much of what we explored was the concept of kindness and ways to be more compassionate to ourselves and each other. I love these tiny humans as we have been together over the last two months for two times a month visits. When I am kind to myself, it is easier to be kind to others. We can’t fill someone else’s cup if ours is empty.

Then I zipped down the PA turnpike an hour to my next round, seeing therapy clients until 7:30 pm. Each of them carried in with them, their own needs and challenges that I was called on to ameliorate. In the past, I would have practiced savior behavior, thinking I could duct tape their broken pieces together until they fused. Now, I guide and offer tools as they pick and choose what works for them. Much better for all concerned.

Even as I am becoming more aware of what not to do, I am gravitating toward practices that heal and soothe my body and soul. Tonight and tomorrow, it is my intention to immerse in them on these late in January days.






Nothing justifies saying silent when I see injustice being done.

These words came to me on the eve of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King. Seems like something he would have gotten behind. A come clean here: there were times in my life when I didn’t voice my opinion for fear of rocking the boat, making waves, alienating or otherwise risking rejection or pushback from people whose approval I sought.  Not my proudest moments when I look back; cringe-worthy, in fact. These days, almost nothing prevents me from expressing opinions; filters still intact, and avoiding name calling when I disagree with what others express on social media about the current political climate. My Facebook page is generally a place of positivity with words and images of inspiration. People can visit to share their thoughts and feelings as well; a safe haven. On rare occasions, over-zealous folks on all sides of the political spectrum will express their outrage, using language that flies in the face of my peacenik sensibilities. Can I understand their vehemence? Of course. Many’s the time I have wanted to spew impulsively but held back. Instead, I have thought it through and asked myself what outcome I wanted to see. Mostly, it was for the purpose of changing someone’s perspective. Did it work?  I may never know.

Yesterday I was visiting the page of a family member and read in horror, some of the responses to something she posted. I attempted to insert a sense of logic and pacifism that many were simply not having as they lambasted the attempts and dismissed them as fake news, liberal nonsense. (I am being polite here.)

I made the mistake of visiting the page of one of the posters, who is an avid supporter of the current occupant of the Oval Office and found a meme that compared the situation of children who are considered ‘Dreamers’ to be the same as parents who snuck their kids into Disneyland and expected them to be able to stay and enjoy the park for free. How cruel can people be?  Even if someone disagrees with policies rendered by previous administrations, can they not consider the implications of attempts to undermine simply for (according to those in government) the purpose of un-doing?

After exposing myself to a bit more of this; and I still wonder why…perhaps it is like an accident scene you can’t turn away from, I retreated back to my “nice sunshiny page.” There was a palpable sense of relief. It also has me questioning how judgmental I truly am. I can’t fathom how people who claim to be loving, can hate those of a different skin tone, culture, religion, gender or sexual orientation. I don’t hate or name call. My parents taught me better than that. Still not sure how to bridge the chasm between what I see and feel and what I can do to effect positive change. Progress feels slow, especially in the face of dire consequences from inaction. I can’t and won’t stand by and watch the world experience devastation. As a spiritual being who was called to be an Interfaith Minister, I feel called to make this part of my ministry. Granted the gift of wordsmithing, I invite readers to peace and reconciliation, but also walking in the steps of MLK and Gandhi, to engaged spirituality. I will be putting my marching feet to good use this coming weekend at two marches- one in Philadelphia and the other in my hometown of Doylestown, PA. Following my experience at last year’s march, I penned this for the Bliss Blog.

“I am learning to accept the current reality while working to change what I can. I know that this event today was not a one and done deal. It needs to be a case of being vigilant and outspoken. It feels like a holy obligation.

I made an observation toward the end of the rally that I want to share with you. It was overcast and foggy all day. The mist hovered above the buildings. It mirrored what I had been feeling since the election; a looming and ominous presence. Although the sun didn’t peek out all day, it felt like the collective energy of those gathered kept the fog aloft.”

Please grant me the serenity and the filters to prevent me from REACTING to posts justifying, excusing, or otherwise deflecting about the words and actions of the current occupant of the Oval Office. Many’s the time, I thought, I need to say something and then ask myself if it is worth the aggravation of going head to head with someone who is not likely to change their mind. Instead, I do my best to go heart to heart and attempt to understand where they may be coming from. It doesn’t mean I accept their beliefs as my own. It means that if I lived their life and had their experience, I might feel the same way and say the same things. There are certainly some that I RESPOND to as best I can in measured tones, asking them how they came to hold the beliefs and values they do. That feels better in my body. It can be exhausting to be in hypervigilance mode.


One of the things I love about Facebook is that it reminds me of events that my middle-aged (now in my 6th decade) mind sometimes allows to slip through the cracks. I call them my ‘wise woman moments,’ since the older we get, the wiser we can become. I smile with delight at the daily gifts of memes, videos, photos, and articles that folks had sent to me or I had discovered via random meandering. What I particularly enjoy are the blast from the past articles that I have penned. Not an ego thing, but rather a stunning refresher of history that I have lived through. I tell my therapy clients that we have all survived everything that has ever occurred in our lives, because we are here to tell about it.

Many’s the time I have perused articles and blog posts I have written and thought, “Wow, this is good! Who wrote this?” Then I consider others who have read the words that often pour forth without conscious thought, unedited until my fingers lift from the keyboard to rest a spell. Rare writers’ block here; mostly what I call writers’ runs. Perhaps, they too have loved and lost (husband, both parents and a dear friend who became my son’s father figure, among them). Maybe they have survived serious illness (shingles, heart attack and kidney stones here). How about financial challenges, job changes, loss of a home to a natural disaster? Could be that they are learning to love the person in the mirror in the face of human frailty? What if they, like me, realized that the time was NOW to show up, stand up and speak out about what matters most to them, even if they attract disapproval? We all have so much in common.

I am grateful that I was born hardwired to creatively express myself. Reading was a fun activity as I was immersed in words. My parents read to me often and the library up the street was a home away from home as I carted home books each week. Story hour was an anticipated activity as the ‘libary lady’ as I called her when I was young, read to the kids who sat on the carpet at her feet eager to take adventures through the pages she turned.

I began writing in childhood with short stories starting me out and assignments in classes solidifying my skills.  I began journaling in my pre-teens and I still have the dog-eared pages from college days. I fondly look back on the scribbled words, remembering the idealistic young woman I was and sometimes cringing at her choices. Good to know I survived them all too.

These days, my writing is as much for others as it is for me. It is heartening to know that my thoughts are helpful and healing and inspiring to readers. Daily wordsmithing is part of my practice. It is one way I support myself financially and emotionally. It is one thing ‘I can’t NOT do.’ It remains one of my greatest joys and nourishes my soul.

What does that for you?