The Bliss Blog


I am the daughter of a gym rat. My dad was a lifelong athlete and became a Golden Gloves boxer in the Navy who said he remembered sparring with Charles Bronson back then. Not sure who won, but I can imagine my tenacious father giving it all he had. When my sister and I were under 10, he taught us a bit about the pugilistic arts, having us don gloves, headgear and mouth guards before we took playful swings at each other. My standard line is that it is a good thing I am a pacifist, or I would have developed a mean right hook. With him, I also jumped rope, rode bikes, skated, went sledding and jogging.  He instilled a love of fitness. When he retired in 1998, he and my mom moved to Ft. Lauderdale and for another 18 years, he worked in a gym until Parkinson’s robbed him of his physical stamina. After he could no longer work, he still worked out at the gym and when he could no longer do that, my mom took him swimming (paddling and floating mostly) and would walk with him around their condo.

In addition to some of the aforementioned activities (not boxing), my mother used to swim with us when we were kids, attending our swim meets as well.  We would work out in front of the tv as we watched Exercise with Gloria and Jack LaLanne. In retirement, she taught water aerobics and senior stretch class, called Stretching With Selma. Whenever I would fly down from Philly to visit them, the gym and pool were among the highlights. I attended my mom’s classes and was impressed by the vitality of her students in their 60s and beyond and was not about to let them show me up! One woman was in her 90s and walked 1/4 mile each way in the Florida heat to get to the class. My mother would offer to drive her and she refused.


These days, the gym is my go-to destination for fitness and release of stress. Once upon a time, (five years ago), I was there five or six times a week as part of my burning the candle at both ends routine that included little sleep and too much hustle-bustle activity. On the way home, on June 12, 2014, I had a heart attack which required cardiac rehab, more structured workouts and actually less time at the gym, per the instructions of a doc who asked if I wanted to get sick again. She insisted that I needed time to reset between workouts. Naps are now part of my health regimen. I am there, at Planet Fitness (a.k.a. The Judgement Free Zone) three or four times a week, for 45-60 minutes each. In between, I walk through my little town of Doylestown, PA once or twice a week, often carrying my Hugmobsters Armed With Love sign, offering FREE HUGS, since hugs are emotionally and physically heart-friendly.

While at the gym this past week, I had what I call a gym-spiration. I clean off the machines after I use them as thoroughly as I would want someone else to clean it if I was to use it next. I am mindful to do the same thing in other areas of my life, so no one needs to clean up after me.  There was a time when I wasn’t as conscientious, somehow imagining that the cleanup faeries would somehow whisk away clutter.  They never did. When I lived that way, it made it difficult to find what I needed when I needed it. It made it inconvenient for others as I might have had to scramble to locate something for them. I am not naturally organized and in fact likely an undiagnosed with ADHD person. I have to keep corralling my mind from distracting thoughts. I create systems that keep me in line. I am not fastidious or white glove clean, but adhere to what I call The House Rules:

If you open it, close it.

If you take it out, put it back.

If you drop it, pick it up.

If you make a mess, clean it up.

Simple as that.

Other gym-spirations:

Lifting weights helps me lose weight, and I have come to realize that I need not carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I go at my own pace and not that set by anyone else. There is nothing to run away from. I used to think I could move faster than my fears. Unless faced, they have always caught up with me.

I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Sweat is liquid awesome”.  Right after the heart attack, I believed I had to produce copious amounts in order to feel accomplished. These days, I know that I can be awesome and cool at the same time.

Input from friends on the topic:

“That level of thinking about other people is sadly lacking in our culture right now. I think part of it comes from having so much information coming in all the time; we become narcissistic to protect ourselves.”

“I always set the weight back to it’s lowest setting as well as cleaning. Seems that some muscle head always wants to show off by leaving it at a ridiculously high weight.”

” Sadly not everyone is as thoughtful as you. What I disliked at the gym was having to smell offensive body odor, leaving machines sweaty and losers who use 3 machines simultaneously so no one else can use them. They get mighty pissed, heaven forbid, you attempt to use one and need to change the settings. Don’t even get me started on disgusting men who use the toilet and don’t wash their hands. Or how nasty they leave the showers.”

“If I could give one tip for people – it’s not an exercise or nutrition regimen. It’s to walk your talk and believe in yourself because, at the end of the day, the dumbbell and diet don’t get you in shape. It’s your accountability to your word.”-Brett Hoebel

The tunes of the Byrds, CSN& Y,  the Beach Boys, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Buffalo Springfield, the Beatles, Eric Clapton, and the Mamas and Papas have been part of the musical landscape of my life since my teens back in the 1970s, so my hippie heart was happy when I saw that Echo In the Canyon was to be released. I had heard some of the cover songs on my favorite Philly based radio station called WXPN which increased the anticipation for the film.

What made it even more fun was that my cousin Jody accompanied me as we viewed it at our local arts movie theater called The County. The small theater was packed with other gracefully aging peeps. On the way out, I saw one teenager who was likely there with his parents. The audience clapped at the end of this brilliantly executed overview/tour of the Laurel Canyon musical movement. The way it was described by nearly everyone was like a familiar/familial outpost on the outskirts of L.A. These dazzling singer-songwriters poured their individual and collective hearts out for all the world to enjoy. Balladiers became rockers and vice versa as they unceremoniously showed up at each other’s doors with new song ideas.

The film was a tribute to those pioneers as rendered by executive producer Jakob Dylan (son of Bob Dylan), an uberly talented musician in his own right. I was moved by the intensity of his listening as he was interviewing Jackson Browne,  Michelle Phillips, Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, David Crosby and Stephen Stills in particular. These repositories for musical genius had earned their chops and had stories to tell that had me laughing and tearing up a bit. Some had not aged as gracefully as others and the toll their previous lifestyles had taken was evident.

It was counterbalanced with segments from the Echo In the Canyon concert and brainstorming sessions with younger performers Beck, Norah Jones, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Jade Castrinos and Fiona Apple who were inspired by their elders.

A major observation about the juxtaposition of the recording and social environment from the 60s and 70s to the present day. Back then, it seemed nearly everyone was smoking. In the current shots, no one was puffing away.

I teared up as Jakob was watching Michelle listen to the cover he and Jade did of the Mamas and Papas hit, Go Where You Want To Go. She had the look of a delightedly awestruck child and he seemed gratified to have offered this gift to her.

Sadly, I took count of the people referenced who were now part of the celestial band, that included Mama Cass Elliott, George Harrison, John Lennon, and Tom Petty.

This movie will have you California Dreamin’.

As a long time Beatles fan, who watched the iconic group make their American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, I eagerly awaited another debut. This time it was a rom-com musical stroll down memory lane and Penny Lane. In Yesterday, directed By Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) a stretch of the imagination has singer-songwriter with limited professional success Jack Malik (played by the beguiling Himesh Patel) performing to tiny audiences in his small town in England. His most ardent cheerleader and best friend is Ellie Appleton (beautifully cast in the person of Lily James).  She is manager-chauffer and roadie all rolled into one. It is easy to see the charming energy between them, but neither of them acknowledges the deeper connection until later in the film.

On his way home from a disappointing gig, he is riding his bike and in a flash (literally) all the power goes out worldwide. He has a run-in with a bus which knocks out two teeth but doesn’t knock out his memory of a band that apparently no one else on the globe knows, because, in this alternate reality, the Beatles never existed. He even Googles their name collectively and individually and all he comes up with are images of insects and Pope John Paul.  Throughout the movie, there are a few other cultural references that seem to be missing as well. Imagine the opportunity he has to get his career out of the basement by ‘writing’ their hits. It begins with the title song that he strums and sings to his friends who listen with rapt attention and tear up over the beauty of it. He realizes that he can re-create all of the classics and no one is the wiser. He skyrockets to success and yet, his conscience can’t allow him to fully enjoy the ride. It is as if he is looking over his shoulder to see if he will eventually be caught.

His talent comes to the attention of Ed Sheeran who plays himself and he takes Jack under his wing and invites him to open for him in Moscow where Jack shreds it on Back in the USSR. While he is there, a stranger stands in the audience; a man who with a woman who witnesses Jack making a pilgrimage to Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields so he can get a feel for the inspirations of two of the Beatles most beloved songs, visit him in a dressing room after a concert. The reason for their interest in Jack’s musical mojo will be revealed in that encounter. Another sweet and serendipitous meeting occurs after the woman hands him a folded up piece of paper. Without giving it away, know that it poses the question, truly WHAT IF the Beatles never existed? How would certain lives have changed?

Two other colorful characters are Rocky (his ne’er do well roadie), played by Joel Fry,  who steps up and assists Jack in coming clean about his love for Ellie, and his manager Debra played with perfect pitch bitchiness by SNL comic Kate McKinnon. They help keep the energy flowing and provide some comic support. Jack’s parents who are bewildered and pleased by their son’s rise to stardom are portrayed by Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar.

Every Beatles fan will enjoy the catalog of their best-known songs, rendered in style ranging from ballad to rock.

I won’t spoil the ending which was different than I imagined it to be, but I have to say, I loved it more. Let the long and winding road lead you to the nearest theater to go back to yesterday.

Girl, Woman, Joy Of Life, Dance, Balance

On Independence Day here in the U.S., it occurs to me that we can view freedom in two ways….freedom to….. and freedom from…

In my life, I have the freedom to:

Choose my preferred emotional state, even if the feelings at the moment seem spontaneous and beyond my control.

Decide where to focus my attention, based on return on investment of my time and energy.

Allow myself to be drawn to whomever I welcome into my life; opening the door for new friends.

Have the door swing both ways, so that I can usher those out who are not healthy participants in a shared dance.

Create as much abundance as my gifts and talents warrant; not what society says they are worth.

Share my prosperity with those I choose.

Change my mind and renegotiate agreements, so it is a win-win for myself and others, not just doing what others expect of me.

Provide scrupulous self-care, rather than doing what I have taught people to expect from me, just because I CAN do what they ask.

Set boundaries without feeling like a bitch because I am unwilling to be an unflinching repository for others’ emotions and stopping conversations when it feels like ‘too much’.

Celebrate my life full out!

I express freedom from:

Abuse of any kind; including that dished out by myself.

Overwork and underplay.

Wonder Woman-esque behavior, although a cape would be pretty cool.

Monkey mind inner critic chatter that yammers “Not enough!”

Worry; knowing that it is a waste of imagination.

Unreasonable fear; understanding that it impedes my forward movement and keeps me stuck in the muck.

Imposter syndrome- the delusion that no matter how successful I am, I could let people down and be unreliable.

Scarcity thoughts; certain that I am always cared for and my needs are always being met beautifully.

What are your freedom to’s and freedom from’s?

Let freedom ring and sing!

Photo credit: Pixabay