Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

 

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You are infinitely loveable. Regardless of your history. No matter what you were told. Despite what you have come to believe about yourself, through the interpretation of the words or actions of those around you.

You are loved. Even if you can’t wrap your mind around the idea, wrap your heart around it instead.

You are love incarnate. Born innocent. Still innocent. Life stuff happening in between then and now, can’t change that. Fear-filled religious teachings in an attempt to control will never wipe that Truth away.

You are exquisitely beautiful. Media images of what it is ‘supposed’ to look like can’t change that reality either. Don’t buy into it. These bodies that came as the transport for our souls; whatever you make that word mean to you, are brilliantly designed. Treat it with TLC. Treat the bodies of those in your life with TLC. Treat your own sweet heart with care. Treat the hearts of your loved ones with care.

Whether you are partnered or a solo act, you are desirable. Lavish love on yourself the way you would a beloved other.

Surround yourself with love in the form of supportive people who feed your dreams and deepest heart longings. Shake off the naysayers’ fears for you that are really their own. Embrace your wisdom. It has gotten you this far. Listen to the sweet guidance of the angels who whisper inspiration in the middle of the night if you can’t sleep. Take in the messages that show up throughout the day.

Learn to trust your heart. It won’t steer you wrong. Allow yourself to be fully loved. Fully seen. Fully known.

Sprinkle love on yourself and everyone you meet.

This is my Valentines’ Day gift to you. As much as I love chocolate, this is even sweeter. As much as I love flowers, these thoughts never die.

Live and love well.

BE the love that you ARE.

Hugs from here~ 

Edie

 

 

Valentine'S Day Décor, Hearts

 

Numbers. People. Lives lost. Families and communities torn apart. What do these all have in common? Suicide. In 2017,  47, 173 Americans died by their own hand.  1,4000,000 attempts were made. For some, these are simply statistics. For others, painfully raw reality as they face the devastation of the loss of loved ones. When the day begins, their family member or friend is with them and by the time the sun sets, they are gone. For some, there is no rhyme or reason, nothing to indicate anything amiss. For others, the path is a direct route and loved ones have attempted valiantly to ward off the inevitable. As a therapist who has worked for decades with those who have attempted and sadly, some who have succeeded in ‘crossing the finish line’ for which they were headed, I have witnessed the pain endured by all involved. I also have friends who have either attempted or have been plagued by suicidal ideation. Blessedly, they were able to see their way clear from the edge of the abyss.

P.S. I Love You Day was created by the family of  Joseph DiPalma who in 2010, said “I love you.”  to his teenage daughter as he dropped her off at school. She returned the sentiment and walked into the building. A short while later, she was told her father had ended his life. Her world was turned upside down and then she and her family made a powerful decision, to transform a tragedy into a legacy of love. She became aware of other suicides that had taken place in her high school and throughout the country, some in reaction to bullying. Thus was born P.S. I Love You Day. It is held on the 2nd Friday in February (today’s the day this year! 2/8/19).

The message:  “On this day we ask everyone to wear purple to stand up against bullying, help end depression, and ultimately prevent suicide. We hope that on this day you walk around your community, school, or work office and see a sea of purple. We hope that you hear nothing but positive messages that make you feel special, loved, and remind you, that you are never alone.”

Since purple is my favorite color, it is a no brainer and a full heart-er to wear it.

Will you join me? Remind the people in your life what they mean to you.

This has been a question that has been knocking at the double door of my heart and mind for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the Jewish tradition, I was taught about a God of love and judgment. It puzzled me to think that (as is part of the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur ritual), we ask to be “written into the Book of Life for a sweet new year.” Did that mean if someone died in the following 12 months that somehow they didn’t measure up? If pain, illness, death or some other loss occurred, did that indicate unworthiness? The Christian paradigm of not going to Heaven if you had sinned, or didn’t believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, didn’t exist in my home. I wasn’t indoctrinated about hellfire and brimstone. None of that made any sense to me. If religious doctrine was all that prevented hateful, hurtful acts, what did that say about conscience? Can I simply do good because it helps to heal the rifts that occur in the fabric of the world because of millennia of wear and tear?

On Saturday, February 2nd, 2o19, I was honored to attend an event as part of what was called the Wall of Love. What prompted it was a hullaballoo over the Drag Queen Story Fun Time With Miss Annie at the Lansdale Public Library in Landsdale, PA which is a suburb about an hour from Philadelphia. A local performer who refers to himself as “Annie Christ,” requested to use the library for reading books to children about diversity and anti-bullying. Sounds great, right?  Not so, for some who felt it was harmful to children and flew in the face of their religious beliefs. A group of protestors made their opinions known, quite vehemently and announced their plan to stand outside the library, signs in hand. As is so in our area, when something like this is brewing, we gather in solidarity for social justice. The Wall of Love was meant to be, not a barrier, between ‘us and them,’ but support for what was to transpire inside the library. On a frigidly cold (low double digits) morning, a group of a few hundred huddled together, chanted, walked around, sang, danced and hugged. I showed up in my persona as Hugmobsters Armed With Love founder and did my FREE HUGS thang, as I call it.

Hugs warmed hearts and bodies. It took so much dedication for us all to be there together to take a stand for love and diversity when the weather was in the deep freeze. I’m grateful that it was peaceful. I had a conversation with one of the protestors who really believes they are acting out of love. They don’t see that what they are expressing is hate rhetoric. The man told me that his sister is an out Lesbian who is married to a woman. He says he loves them and referenced “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I wonder how you can love someone and hate who they are at their core. I then told him the origin of the word ‘sin’ is Hebrew and it means to miss the mark like in archery. It is about do-overs. I reminded him that he could change his mind at any time. He asked me if I knew Jesus. I told him that the Jesus I know wouldn’t be carrying the kind of signs his compatriots were and wouldn’t be shouting the things they were. I then asked if he had ever been to the Mummers’ Parade  (a Philadelphia New Years Day tradition) where until maybe 30 years ago, those who marched were men, some dressed as women. I asked if he had ever been to a Shakespeare play since all of the actors were men, even the female characters. “That was a different time,” according to this man. He then went on to say that what Miss Annie was doing was attempting to indoctrinate. I asked, toward what? Had he actually been in the library and hear what she had to say? No, but he had heard what it was about. We parted peacefully, wishing each other well. A little while later, I did go in and watched as a group of kiddos and their parents, listened with rapt attention. One little girl, when asked what a drag queen was, said it was a man or woman who dressed up in costumes with wigs and makeup. Simple as that. Not about sex. Not about indoctrination.

When I consider the reaction of the protestors, I recall that there were no beatific smiles, there was no softness expressed as you would imagine there would be if someone was immersed in the love of God. Instead, there was glaring, posturing, yelling, bullhorn raging, signs bearing words of hatred, hellfire, and brimstone. Not representative of the God I know. I can feel compassion for them since it must be so dark and scary in their minds for them to be expressing what they truly believe is the love and the word of the God of their understanding. They claimed to speak for God.

That had me posing the question on my Facebook page. This is the context. I was thinking of all of the religious zealots of many stripes who claim to know what God wants and have no problem attempting to impose it on others or use it to justify hate and abuse. As an ordained minister, I tell people that I don’t have the right to tell anyone what to believe spiritually.

Here are some of the responses I received:

“What gives anyone the right to assume you believe in one in the first place?”

“We all do, every time we open our mouths, whether we’re aware of it or not.”

“So many of my spiritual acquaintances seem to think so when they divinize their words by prefacing their piece with, “spirit tells me”, or, “source told me”, and they expect no questioning.”

“One may speak for oneself but not apply it to others. As in, I may discover divine truth for myself but not for others, especially if it projects, imposes or harms, as many “absolute truth” dogmas tend to do.”

“I don’t think anyone can speak for God. First, he wanted Abraham to kill his son and at the last minute changed his mind. Jesus, on the other hand, was pretty clear about what he thinks. It just so happens that people who claim to be His followers twist or ignore His words to meet their personal or political agenda.”

“At Burning Man last year I got to be God for a couple of hours. Some distance away, there was a phone booth that says, Talk To God on it. People would pick up the phone, and we’d be connected. I found I needed to move into the highest expression of myself and to be as kindhearted and loving as I could. It was an amazing experience, I heard both praise and anguish, and I left glowing. 10/10 would recommend.”

 

 

 

 

“Reach out and touch somebody’s hand. Make this world a better place if you can.”- Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson

The lyrics to the song made famous by Diana Ross is an apt description of Epiphany Jordan’s new book entitled Somebody Hold Me: The Single Person’s Guide To Nurturing Human TouchIt is a warm and fuzzy, fully embracing journey for anyone, regardless of relationship status. She is clear from the onset that people who live alone, or who are single, whether by choice or chance are less likely to experience consistent, safe, nurturing, non-sexual touch, by consent. Her introduction reveals her own sadness at the ending of a relationship that left her missing regular touch, albeit, offered by a partner who was not comfortable in his own skin.

According to the 2010 Census, nearly 50% of Americans checked the “single” box. That would include divorced, widowed or never married. What do people do other than simply cast aside the human need for contact? Since our skin is our single largest organ, skin hunger is just as vital a need as food hunger. When babies don’t receive it, they fail to thrive. So too do adults. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, and suicidality have become cultural plagues. The hormone oxytocin spreads throughout our bodies when we receive nurturing touch that has all kinds of physical and mental wellness implications.

Jordan’s book offers delightful alternatives to suffering alone or seeking sex in the absence of platonic touch or if desired, in a romantic relationship. She cautions the reader that the book is not meant to be about pickups or improving one’s sex life, but rather about enhancing communication skills.  She goes on to explore the history of touch studies and their implications for the ways people choose to interact. She cites two studies that coincidentally I researched when in grad school and I wrote a paper called “Counseling Practitoners’ Use of Touch As A Therapeutic Modality”. The first was Harry Harlow and the rhesus monkeys in which a cloth surrogate ‘mother’ who didn’t provide food for the babies was preferred over the wire ‘mother’ who did. The second was Sidney Jourard who observed the number of times people in various countries touched each other in public as they were speaking. Not a huge surprise that in the United States, people touched each other twice in an hour. She also quotes psychologist Virginia Satir who reinforces that “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Consider how many hugs you receive a day, if you are in the single census category.

Full disclosure. I am single/widowed. I have many loving, touchy-feely friends and family members who are happy to hug it out with me. I am the facilitator of a workshop called Cuddle Party™ which she references in the book and  I have cuddled thousands since being certified in 2006. I offer FREE Hugs events where I take to the streets with a sign that says I am a willing hugger. In the past five years since I began the adventure, I estimate that I have hugged thousands of people worldwide. Even so, unless I am engaged in either of those activities, I still don’t meet Satir’s quota.

Jordan takes the reader through the various and sundry options, including massage, 1:1 professional sessions with specially trained and vetted cuddle specialists, casual cuddling gatherings with friends, workshops, and being brave enough to ask people in their lives for the kind of the touch they desire. Specific how-to conversations are sprinkled throughout and self care practices are outlined for at-home experimentation.

As part of what might be considered ‘alternative communities,’ she uses the gender neutral ‘they’ to refer to various people with whom she has had interactions.  The languaging might seem left of center for some readers, but it makes sense, given the perspective of touch needs not being relegated to any one gender orientation. She also describes her experiences at Burning Man which is an annual love fest in the desert of Nevada where people gather to live in community for nine days.

Jordan also dives into the realm of consent. In the era of #metoo, it is even more important to ask and receive a verbal yes before touching anyone. Trauma-sensitive touch is crucial since more survivors are becoming aware of the ways in which abusive or coercive touch has impacted their lives. She guides readers on how to have boundary setting conversations that are an essential aspect of making touch safe.

This well-researched book will (no pun intended) touch a place in you that desires and deserves connection and will nourish you, body, mind, and spirit.