Saturday, January 31, 2009

BardBliss: Pablo Neruda Shows Us the Way

To whom will you give your heart
this coming Valentine's Day?

Recently, a couple of people have reminded me of my intense love for the poetry of Pablo Neruda.

In this poem, "Poetry," he speaks of the calling that comes for the artist and how listening to and answering that calling will make you into who you were born to be.


And it was at that age... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
and planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

--Pablo Neruda

Have you watched this film?

Friday, January 30, 2009

BlissQuest: Doing the Hard Work

Lilly chillin' in her rabbits room
(and showing off her thumb).

Listening to: Oceania is a group out of New Zealand who often sings in Maori, the language of the indigenous people. This is some of my favorite music in all the world (I am often blogging to it in the morning), and I was excited to find a real video.

Bliss: It's always a good day when you're going to your most excellent chiropractor, isn't it? :) Marcy and I are planning a project planning dinner date over the weekend. I LOVE making lists!!

(This post is in response to secret four in our 12 Secrets book club.)

For how many years did I try before I finally succeeded in writing a novel?

The story that I used to tell people was that I was always a poet and then suddenly, after teaching some creative writing classes to adult students, I found myself writing a novel.

The real story is that I tried and tried and tried again to write a novel. I just never got any further than a dozen pages before I would give up and stash it away in some folder, resigned to the fact that it just was never to be. That I was "just" a poet.

So for me, I could say that my cycles are very long and drawn out.

But I worry that there is danger in that particular story.

This issue of cycles is interesting. Sure, we all have down time. We all have time when we are processing and creating on a subconscious level, but do we really have fallow time? Or do we give into this idea because the work feels too overwhelming to face?

I am not speaking for anyone but myself, of course, and I think that for me, if I am to be painfully honest, the truth is closer to that second question.

I am never at a loss for ideas. I have folders and folders of ideas, partially started projects, outlined projects. I never have any excuse to not be working on something.

I think of the writers in this world who are materially successful and prolific in their work. I think of people like Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Meg Cabot...they do not "cycle," except in that they are constantly moving from one project to the next. They also happen to work in almost every genre of literature available; they write for every age group.

Their work feeds their work.

Their cycle of getting up each day and starting matter what...feeds the next cycle.

I cannot judge myself by how other people work -- I know that -- but I crave so much to be more productive. I know I have enough ideas, that the Muse blesses me enough, to keep me busy for many life times, so how dare I waste a day, a week of this life time.

The Demeter/Persephone myth, mentioned in this chapter, has always been powerful to me.

I wrote this poem years ago:


In the sepia tones of my dreamscape,
I emerged, yellow caped, from the giant evergreened
woods and walked carefully onto the frozen
lake. With purpose, knowing what I was to find,
knowing I would not fall through, I made my way
to myself, frozen and blue, gripping narcissus, mouth
spilling blood red pomegranate seeds under the ice
of this small lake in these big woods under this
brown cold sky. With pick ax, I began the long,
arduous job of releasing my corpse from its
mausoleum. Breath and ax on ice were the only
sounds in an otherwise silent movie. An old, wooden,
red-bladed sled with roped handle presented itself
at the moment it was needed, and I easily lifted my
stiff corpse and lay her on the aged, splintered
surface. I made my way back to the woods, occasionally
looking over my shoulder at my frozen body, expecting --
what? I did not shout to rise, to wake, to live, to breathe,
to be. I kept pulling and my feet crunched into newly
fallen snow, having covered the prints I had made on my way
out. I pulled toward those woods waiting in the distance
and I pulled my dead, frozen self into those wood, under
the canopy, but as in most dreams, I returned to the beginning
again and again, to the moment of discovery, to the moment
of the magically appearing pick ax, to the moment
filled with recognition and resignation, to the duty
of lifting and hauling.

For me, one of the larger points of this poem is the work that is implied in discovery. The labor of it.

To demystify the creative act is a dangerous thing. There is much magic happening between creatives and their universe, much that is unexplainable about the whole process of birthing the new.

But to mystify too far is also dangerous. I believe that magic happens when we turn up at the cauldron, herbs and oils ready and in hand, not afraid to chop the wood and bloody our own hands a bit to get the fire going.

Are we willing to get dirty, to pain ourselves a bit, to dig deep and long? Are we willing to show up to the ritual? Are we willing to give in to being fully and completely ourselves?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

RandomBliss: Preparing for Spring with Imbolc

Yes, that is snow up to my knee!

Listening to: This man's voice is so yummy.

Bliss: We got hit with some major snow yesterday. I got off the bus about two blocks from our house and nothing was shoveled or plowed -- everything was blanketed in pristine white -- and so my footprints were the only ones. And the QUIET was delicious.

Right now, we are at the seventh position on the snowiest winter on record list, and I think we have a very good chance of taking over position number one, considering that it is only the end of January, and this is just, in a few days, "MidWinter."

There are a lot of traditions around this time, this marking point, this moment when we can start to see that spring is on her way.

Right now, appropriately enough, the moon we are in is called by some the "Quickening Moon." The earth, beneath feet of snow, blanketed in cold, is starting to awaken to itself, starting to set buds, starting to stir, and we are stirred -- to actions like seed and bulb and plant selection, dreaming of gardens, plotting out plans, whether they be for food production or visits to the warm waters or just visions of ourselves soaking in the sun.

The sun increases in strength and the fire of the sun becomes our inspiration -- full of promise and possibility.

And so in a few days, the Pagan tradition celebrates Imbolc and Catholics celebrate Candlemas and entwined in and through both of these is the Goddess figure of Brigid or Saint Brigid both (one and the same?) of Ireland.

Brigid is an attractive figure of feminine divinity -- especially for those of us in love with words and sound and the idea that inspiration and fire and water are transformational.

According to Patricia Monaghan in The Goddess Path, this time and this goddess are especially good for considering the theme of survival.

We are surviving winter and preparing for spring.

What meaning does that metaphor hold for you life?

What have you recently survived? What new journeys are you now ready to embark upon?

In modern Goddess circles, Imbolc is the time to pledge yourself to the Goddess or to new endeavors, to new ideas of yourself, to a new name even.

What new name are you ready to take? Writer? Dancer? Lover of life? Blissful one?

A poem for this time of year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SharedBliss: Interview with Creative Self-Development Coach, Jamie Ridler

Jamie Ridler, "Downtown"
(Go ahead -- sing it!)

Listening to: Check out this woman's energy. (Something extra special for Jamie.)

Bliss: The recent decision that I write about below. Though like with all big decisions, I had some immediate anxiety and backlash, I stuck with it, did some breathing, remembered what Jamie is all about, and worked through the panic part relatively quickly, knowing all along that the decision is right and good.

This year, my word is fly, as many of you know. At first, I had quite a bit of anxiety about this word. For good reason. At the top of my anxiety list was the fact that I didn't quite know why I had picked it or what it would concretely mean in my life.

But I started by taking some small risks. For one, when the opportunity presented itself (in my email inbox, at that), I jumped on the book-club-with-Jamie-Ridler bandwagon!

And since then, some magic has ensued.

Thanks to Jamie's book club, I have met some amazing women and bloggers. They have made me think. They have made me reevaluate.

Yesterday, a lot of things came together all at once, and as I talked from my part time job on the phone with my partner, I realized that I had to put in my notice.

You see, my partner and I don't need my part time job; this is not due to luck but due to some good choices in the past, first and foremost buying half the house that the banks told us we could.

But I have all these issues about jobs and identity and worth, yet Jamie's book club made me see what I was doing: exchanging valuable creative time and energy for play money.


Marcy and I are both writers and she is an artist and that work deserves the full attention of at least one of us if we are able, and we are able.

So, thank you, Jamie and the rest of the book club participants. I got my focus on!

Jamie is not only a stupendous life coach, but she also is a creative blogger, a painter, a Nia blue belt instructor, and runs Circe's Circle, where she acts as a midwife to your creative projects. You can also find her on Twitter! (How does she DO it!?)

Basically, she is a wizard performing daily acts of magic!

Describe the PrimaryBliss of your life. How did you come to know that this was your Primary Bliss?

Ooh, this is a hard question to answer. My blisses range from dancing to collaging to developing workshops to blogging to painting to… I’m sure you get the bliss-picture! But when it really comes down to it, my primary bliss is making something wonderful happen. One minute there was nothing and then there was a book club. Or one minute there was nothing and suddenly the table is sparkling and beautiful and ready for guests. I find that magic. Maybe that’s it – my primary bliss is magic.

What types of choices and sacrifices did you make to be able to craft this bliss-filled life?

I don’t believe in sacrifice but I do believe in choice. Because I get excited about so many things, it can be challenging to say no. In the past, that has led to exhaustion or that panicky feeling that I’m missing out on something. Recently I had an a-ha that helped. Another way to look at all of these delicious choices is that you simply can’t get it wrong. Whatever you choose will provide lots of richness in your life. So choose away and enjoy!

The other thing that has been absolutely essential in crafting a bliss-filled life has been bravery, the willingness to show up even when it’s scary, the willingness to get it wrong, to make mistakes and to do so publicly (my personal favourite – ouch!). These are all tough but not nearly so tough as not living your bliss.

How does your PrimaryBliss radiate out into the rest of your life?

It has been such a powerful experience for me to know my own loves and passions and to build a bliss-full life around them that I’ve been inspired to help others do the same. That’s why I’m a creative self-development coach. I specialize in working with established and emerging creative and wellness professionals, and it is amazing to see that as each of my clients begins to live according to their bliss, not only are their lives wildly better, but they spread that joy wherever they go. Amazing!

What are some other activities that also give you this sense of bliss? Things that make you lose track of time?

Working on a creative project, dancing, Nia, collaging, planning, visioning, blogging, reading, going to art galleries and museums, enjoying coffee and conversation, puttering, walking through a new and interesting neighbourhood, gardening, traveling, reading, thinking...

There are so many things to enjoy in this world. I often think of something one of my mom’s friends used to say when anyone said they were bored: “And you live in this world?”

What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?

Writing morning pages and collage journaling at the end of the day is my practice. I want to incorporate movement into this routine as well. Going for a walk can really help me connect with the powers that be.

What music is your bliss?

I have rather diverse taste in music, so the real answer is music that perfectly suits my mood at any given time, whether it’s funky or industrial or meditative. But whatever the mood, the Indigo Girls are always musical bliss to me. Recently I’ve been addicted to the song Life is Unbelievable by John Southworth.

Name books or authors/poets or people who are your bliss, who influenced your bliss.

My life has been profoundly affected by the teachings of Pema Chodron, particularly The Places that Scare You – a Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times and the recording of Getting Unstuck. Recently I read the introduction to Alice Walker’s Anything We Love Can be Saved and felt I could read it every day to remind myself of the kind of person I want to be in the world. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has been instrumental in 2 significant turning points in my life. And in the past few years, it’s really been in the creative blogging community that I have found joy, inspiration, encouragement, strength, love and an amazing generosity of spirit.

What advice would you give to someone who feels they have not yet discovered their PrimaryBliss?

Spend time with yourself. Pay attention to what you enjoy, what catches your eye, what bothers you. Become a student of your self. Your body and spirit are giving you feedback every moment. Learn to listen. Journal. Hire a coach.

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

“Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
--Howard Thurman

"My primarybliss is making something wonderful happen." I LOVE that! And thanks to Jamie's own self-awareness, she is able to share hints about the path of bliss with so many people.

Even a girl who calls herself Blisschick gets lost now and then and is grateful to find someone carrying a flashlight in the dark!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

OuterBliss: The Heart of Nonviolence

Another one from Buffalo.

Listening to: If you feel at all tired or down today, I dare you to listen to this. A little Latin music goes a long way!

Bliss: A fresh layer of snow to cover up the car-dirtied old snow. The sun is shining...AGAIN! I am at home, writing and reading and writing and petting cats and a rabbit and writing and reading some more.

One of the ways that I have typically justified my anger to my partner and to myself is the "I'm not as bad as them" defense.

I was raised with so much anger and yes, violence -- mostly of the psychological kind -- that I think anything less must equal good. I have broken the cycle, have I not?

I have not.

That is hard to write. I have not broken the cycle. I do not have children to be cruel to, to belittle, to control. I did not pick a partner who matches me in violent tendencies so that we could feed each others' neuroses or psychoses.

That is to say, I have made some better choices in my life, and I do try.

But like Yoda would say, "Do or do not. There is no try."

I have made some better choices. I have worked on my "stuff." But have I really only gotten part way in my journey and suddenly told myself that I am finished?

No more. Time for some radical honesty: I have not broken the cycle and now I must.

Another way that I justify my anger is by asserting that it is "natural." This is a widespread belief in Western culture.

First, the word anger. Anger is not feeling a little upset; it is not feeling mad at an injustice. Anger is a response that takes effort to maintain. You have to build anger and then you have to maintain it.

If you look very closely at any anger and be very honest, you will notice that anger is just a cover, and if you lift the cover, there is always fear and/or sadness. Always.

Anger is destructive. And the only reason I got anything out of my anger this past week is because I stopped being angry. Then I turned around and looked at myself and my behavior. Again, this could only happen because I had stopped.

From a site on active nonviolence:

Our spontaneous reactions to conflict are often violent; eg in traffic when you are cut-off by another driver. This spontaneity makes us think violence is natural. But in fact it is the product of a process in which we have been trained through a variety of scripts conditioned by culture, family and history. They are "well-grooved neural pathways" which we give assent to in times of conflict or crisis. Nonviolence is the process of 'unlearning' these scripts and learning new ones. This includes seeing that we have a choice.

You see, the longer we justify these angers in our own individual lives, the longer we are giving our assent to war and genocide and destruction of all sorts on the global scale.

But where to start in this process? It can seem very overwhelming. At least to me.

As I quoted this past Sunday:

Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on
and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and
it must be an inseparable part of our being.

So we must begin by working on our own hearts. We must begin in our own homes, cultivating peace in our daily lives, from minute to minute and hour to hour.

Perhaps you are already on this journey or perhaps you are just beginning or perhaps you have tried before and given up. As I learn this process for myself, I will, of course, share what I find.

How about you? What have you found so far? Where have you looked? What does your heart tell you about truth and peace and love?

Monday, January 26, 2009

InnerBliss: Dear John Dear

A willow ball delivery for the rabbit.

Listening to: Something completely different.

Bliss: A whole day yesterday just relaxing with Marcy and the cats and the rabbit. There was Ben & Jerry's involved, some peanut butter cups (for good measure), and DVD's in the middle of the day.

Yesterday I mentioned turning into AngerChick this past week and having to take some steps to remedy the problem. I promised to talk about how and why this all happened...

I had an unexpected reaction to the Inauguration.

I was home alone on Tuesday and listening to it via NPR online, since it seemed everyone in the world was watching it via live streaming video, creating a lot of traffic online, to say the least. Lilly the cat pointed out that listening to it would be interesting; you can focus more on his words and their actual meaning, rather than being swayed by all the inevitable shots of people crying from the relief. Smart cat.

I won't go into a critique of his speech, though I found it amazing. It was bold and assertive in ways that inaugural speeches usually are not.

I was pleased.

Then I started thinking about the past eight years and all the damage the right wing conservatives have done to the image of Christianity. How they seem to have co-opted it from the radical, liberal version that I find to be more truthful to Christ's intentions.

Dude didn't say "tolerate people you don't like," for example. He said, "Love your enemies." LOVE them. That's radical and it's liberal. And it was considered downright dangerous in his time (as it is in ours, I guess).

But I wasn't feeling love for these conservative fundamentalists that find my love to be perverted. I wasn't feeling love for the conservative fundamentalists who have thought it was their job to spread democracy -- with the end of a rifle.

I was feeling mad. I was feeling frustrated. I was feeling red hot, kick their asses, shove their messages....angry.

And I don't mean I was feeling some sort of productive emotion that would propel me toward good works. No, anger really does not do that. Not true anger.

Anger distorts and it blinds and it cripples. It turns us into monsters. It does not increase our humanity.

Only love does that.

I poured a lot of this toxic lava onto my poor partner when she came home. I don't mean that I got angry with her, but I showed her my anger, displayed it, self-righteously and loudly shared it.

As I came down from it -- in the face of her startled love -- I knew I was in trouble. I knew I needed some serious help.

So I did what I do: I wrote a couple of emails to a couple of people whom I have extreme respect for in the nonviolence movement. And John Dear responded almost immediately.

He does not know me. I was just someone reaching out to him, but he reached right back.

For those of you who don't know him, Fr. John Dear is a peace activist of the highest quality, a man who walks his talk. At one time he was the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He has a new book out and writes a regular column over here.

And his emailed response to me was filled with the voice of a man who could feel my pain but who was not going to tell me it was okay. This is a man who challenges us to the call of expansion. He knows we are not small; he knows we are infinite; he knows what we are really made up of.

Here's a small excerpt from his email:

For 1700 years people were taught that war is acceptable for Christians. Everyone accepts that, except for a few of us. So we are going against everyone---even though the Gospel is completely clear. So we have to keep letting go, trusting God, giving the results to God.... and do what we can.... When it gets too hard, pull back... Do only what makes you more loving and peaceful.

The trick is to know that the results are in God's hands, to love everyone, to know that anger reveals our wounds, and so to be merciful, nonviolent and loving to ourselves, forgive everyone, and be peaceful as we promote peace. This is all to encourage you! You're doing great.

To me, reading his email was like having a bucket of cold water thrown at me: I woke up.

Oh, right...this is why I do what I do. This is why I pray and meditate every day. I am preparing myself, working on liberating myself, so that I am not only part of the solution but no longer part of the problem.

Love your enemies. In the end, that is another way of saying that we have no enemies. That we are all one. That we have to take care of each other -- that we are responsible for one other.

But above all, we are responsible for and have to take care of ourselves.

Anger is deadly. To me, to this global community, to this planet.

So...Dear John Dear: Thank you for reminding me that my feet rest firmly on the path of nonviolence. Thank you for waking me back up.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

MysticBliss: Gandhi's Nonviolence

Snowballs grow on trees here
(from a night walk).

It's pretty obvious -- if you've ever looked at my banner -- that this site is very influenced by the life and teachings of Gandhi.

This past week, for reasons I'll expound upon more tomorrow, PissedChick got a little out of control. She was no longer just sassy and opinionated and assertive, but she evolved into more...AngerChick.

Not good.

I took some steps to right the situation, but for today, I thought Gandhi (and some others) seemed like an extra good idea:

We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word, and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it. (Gandhi)

Nonviolence means avoiding not only extreme physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. (MLK)

Nonviolence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak...Nonviolence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win. (Cesar Chavez)

Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being. (Gandhi)

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. (Gandhi)

When I despair, I remember that through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it -- always. (Gandhi)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

BardBliss: Ardea Herodias on Lake Erie

A very early cat portrait by Marcy.
"Ernie's Birds"

A bit of summer for those of us in Northern climates:

Ardea Herodias on Lake Erie

We were canoeing
in the lagoons of our great lake.
It was hot and humid and any
bit of splashed water was relief.
My legs stuck to the metal seat
of the rented boat.

We dipped our paddles in,
swung them over, dripping on
thighs, tickling down to toes, and
dipped them in the other side.
After a short time, our rhythms
matched and the paddles created
dancing figure eights in the thick air.

Water lilies bloomed and iridescent
dragon flies flew inches
above the still water.
We made the only waves
as we sliced through lanes of pussy willow,
skimmed over surfaced, sun-searching roots.

We turned toward our left -- south -- and
through the trees ahead of us,
we could see cars speeding by but
we ignored them, trying to believe
we were in a wild place.
Just ahead sat a Great Blue Heron,
perched on a fallen tree.

We approached quietly,
or as quietly as two excited humans can.
We rested our paddles across our laps
and drifted toward him. Silent
in our awe; each of us imprinting
the moment in our own way.
I in stored thought saved to use
later; she in image.

As he took off, he let out a large
white stream of dung.
No need to speak
Heron to translate that.

Without words, we put paddles into
water and followed him to his
new perch, high in a tree.
Even from the greater distance,
his size was overwhelming
and his dignity

--Christine C. Reed

Friday, January 23, 2009

BlissQuest: Do Not Forsake Your Heart

Today is the One Year Anniversary of
Jobie leaving his fur suit and putting on his
sparkle suit; we are referring to it as
Jobie's Feast Day.

Listening to: This video is so dreamy that you can almost miss how wonderful the song is.

Bliss: I am grateful for the sun. I am grateful for the warming temperatures. I am grateful for the house full of healthy animals. I am grateful to have even known Jobie. Send some prayers today toward Lisa and her small family, who just lost a fur-suited loved one.

The third secret our book club is exploring in 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women is about following wherever your fascinations lead you and taking risks.

To me this chapter is really about the disconnect between heart and head.

We live in a culture that prizes the thoughts of the mind over the inclinations and callings of the heart. That is a fact. Art and music are fast being removed from our schools, and if you dare go to college to study anything creative, people ask you what you're going to do with "that."

And as I talked about last Friday, if you don't have a "normal" job, it confuses people, who wonder what you do with your time, how you'll ever pay for your retirement.

As if creative and happy people ever "retire!"

By the time we are anywhere from six to ten years old, our parents start watching for our talents, monitoring where we are compared to other children, even asking us what our favorite subjects are, hoping it's something like math or computers that could eventually lead to money and comfort and ease.

Having a creative life is not about money and comfort and ease but about living fully and in the moment and jumping off the occasional cliff.

It is about listening to the wisdom of your heart and ignoring the constant chatter of your brain -- an overrated organ if ever there was one!

I used to tell people that if you cut off my body, my head would never notice. I lived in my head. I barely noticed I had arms and legs, much less an intuitive heart.

Kundalini yoga has done a lot for me in terms of reconnecting me to those "lower" regions that turn out to be "higher" after all.

For me, that has been my biggest risk, my hardest challenge, my most fascinating work -- recovering that heart. And I'm still at it.

Every time I sit down to write, my brain starts yelling at me about everything else that would be more worthwhile. My brain starts listing reasons a "real job" would be better; it entices me like my own personal Satan. Look, it says, look at the riches I have to offer; you could have the world, if you would just forsake your heart.

Too often still, my brain wins out. I get up from my chair and do something more practical.

Poor heart.

Heart, who knows everything that is good and right and beautiful and worthy. Heart, who knows exactly what would make me a complete human. Heart, who has all the answers.

Only from the Heart
Can you touch the Sky.

-- Rumi

Thursday, January 22, 2009

RandomBliss: Fun & Sassy for Valentine's Day

A new gouache on wood.

Listening to: A classic.

Bliss: Relief! My back is so much better today. I am still being careful and will obey Marcy the next time she commands me not to shovel the snow! :)

Just a few minutes ago, I finished updating Marcy's store, Ordinary Miracles, with new products that she created with Valentine's Day in mind.

It's only a few weeks away!

Of course, Marcy's take on Valentine's Day is a bit whimsical, a bit irreverent, and a lot of fun.

Remember the chalky candies you would
hand out in grade school!?

There are her usual skulls and flaming hearts to be found, so check it out. Pendants come to you in small pink boxes, wrapped in skull ribbon -- ready for giving or receiving.

Two hearts flying through a night sky.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

SharedBliss: Monkeying Around with Haley-O

Another Great Lakes Girl, Haley-O
from Toronto

Listening to: Someone she and the toddlers enjoy.

Bliss: Meeting people who are walking their talk, which makes me feel hopeful.

As regular readers know, one of my main frustrations in life is people who say one thing but do another. Like people who run around telling anyone who will listen that the sky is falling in terms of the environment, but then they run right to their cars and drive, drive, drive... Usually, they have bumper stickers about how awful Bush is/was.

But sometimes...and more often since I've started blogging...sometimes, I get to meet people who are really trying hard. People who are constantly on the look out for ways they can do better.*

*Of course, this can lead to a perfectionism that is neurotic. Ha. So we do have to accept ourselves for who we are, but I think there's always room for the trying.

The first thing, for instance, that becomes apparent about Haley-O, the writer behind the blog Cheaty Monkey, is her commitment. This is a woman committed to her children, her family, animal rights, and the environment. Watch out!

The mother of two toddlers, she also finds time to teach yoga, maintain the website Kids Deserve Art, write product reviews, and test and post vegan recipes, and you can find her on Twitter!

Describe the PrimaryBliss of your life. How did you come to know that this was your PrimaryBliss?

My PrimaryBliss right now would be compassion, and particularly compassion for animals and the environment — because it all starts there. I believe that the violence and anger and hatred in this world have a lot to do with the way treat our animals. Animals are tortured for our food, clothing and accessories, grossly exploited for our entertainment, and increasingly denied their rightful habitats. When we begin to love and respect our animals for all their sacrifices for us, we can begin authentically and deeply to have compassion for ourselves, each other, our environment.

What types of choices and sacrifices did you make to be able to craft this bliss-filled life?

I wouldn’t call my life “bliss-filled”! I have two toddlers: the Monkey (3) and the Rascal (1). My life is more about creating bliss: my family’s bliss, and bliss within my home, in my body, and in the world. And, it’s a daily struggle for me.

Becoming vegan is probably the biggest sacrifice that I’ve made in the name of my PrimaryBliss. It’s hard to feel like you have control over ANYTHING when you’re a stay-at-home mom of two toddlers. By being vegan, I get a sense of control because I’m actually saving animals, and in doing so I’m also helping heal the environment (veganism is one of the best things you can do for the environment because factory farming is one of our environment’s most deadly offenders). In helping heal the environment, I help create a better world — a better Earth -- for my children and their children. That’s what it’s all about for me.

I also sacrifice my time in the name of bliss. My blogs take up a lot of my time. With two toddlers ON THE LOOSE, I have very little time to myself, and the time I do have to myself tends to be devoted to writing blogs. When I quit blogging a while back, though, I got an outpouring of emails from readers telling me how much my blogs impacted their lives — these were mostly women, mostly mothers. Mothers were telling me how much the blogs made them feel connected and not alone in their frustrations, excitements and anxieties. So, about a day after I quit, I started it up again! This is a sacrifice, but it’s a service. And, I believe, we’re here on this planet to do service. To help, and to heal. I just have to find a way to fit time in to help and heal myself, too! But, there’s always time for that.... It’s all in the process.

How does your PrimaryBliss radiate out into the rest of your life?

As I give to animals (feeding the city animals whenever I can — especially in this cold weather — promoting animal causes, eating vegan, giving to animal charities), I get a lot back from them. I have very vivid and powerful dreams about animals, for example, which help me solve problems in my life and change my outlook on things. I’ve also been fortunate to be able to inspire people to eat less meat and, at least, to think about where their meals come from. My blogs and my business — an online art store for children -- moreover, make me feel like I’m accomplishing something every day.

What are some other activities that also give you this sense of bliss? Things that make you lose track of time?

YOGA YOGA YOGA! I’m a yoga teacher and avid practitioner. Yoga gives me so much bliss. I go to a yoga school that’s very community oriented. The practice is very intelligent and organic. I also love to read, especially at Starbucks whenever I get the chance. ALSO, my cats. I have three of them: Minden, MARGE, and Tigger. Minden (my male cat) and I have a seriously tight bond. The little dude comforts me at the SOUL level. Animals do that....

(Here at Blisschick, I certainly

understand the comfort of a tuxedo cat!)

What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?

I teach yoga once a week, and I go to class once a week. I try to fit yoga into the rest of the week whenever I can. It’s difficult with two kids waking up early! I also practice with Tarot cards almost every night as a form of meditation. I have several really beautiful decks. I draw about 4 cards a night to see what messages I get about myself and what I need to do and think about the next day. I find them very powerful — not negative, like most people think, or scary. I’ve also used them to counsel people in need, and, so far, my reads have been very accurate and healing!

What music is your bliss?

I love Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce — because my kids love it. We bop to the music in the car. Total bliss! Outside the mainstream, I love Singh Kaur, and a Canadian singer known as Meenakshi. BLISSSS!

Name books or authors/poets or people who are your bliss, who influenced your bliss.

Right now, I’m loving Paulo Coelho — his entire oeuvre (that’s a word I haven’t used in a while!). I’ve also been hugely influenced by William Blake in my life, as well as other Romantic Poets, like William Wordsworth (also known as a “nature poet”) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

What advice would you give to someone who feels they have not yet discovered their PrimaryBliss?

I’d say wait for it. Be receptive. Ask for it. If you ask for it, it will find you. My PrimaryBliss, my causes, certainly found me and changed me overnight. It’s only now that I realize I was born with this cause: being Jewish, I was given a Hebrew name at birth, and that name is “Chayah,” which means “animal.” Pretty cool, huh?

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

Oh wow! There are so many. But, this is probably the one I think about most....

“Remember, every food purchase is a vote.” It’s by Jane Goodall, from her book Harvest for Hope. She continues, “We might be tempted, as individuals, to think that our small actions don’t really matter, that one meal can’t make a difference. But each meal, each bite of food, has a rich history as to how and where it grew or was raised, how it was harvested. Our purchases, our votes, will determine the way ahead. And thousands upon thousands of votes are needed in favor of the kind of farming practices that will restore health to our planet.”

Every time I go shopping and have to choose between the organic food (which I can’t always afford) and conventional, I think “every food purchase is a vote.” And, I cast my vote.

Haley-O is that kind of inspiration that we all need -- she shows us a path by walking that path herself and she does so in a way that is not guilt-ridden; she shows, by example, that it's hard and that it's about daily choices and that sometimes we fall off the path, but the point is to get right back on.

Just as a side note: Veganism is an issue that Haley-O is passionate about and I applaud her for that. There are other ways to cast your vote with your dollar when it comes to food; it's all about listening to your body -- and every body out there is different.

We eat just about 100% organic in this house. (It's not 100 because we do eat out occasionally.) Marcy is a vegetarian, and I was for 10 years but am no longer. As I have aged, my body and her needs have changed. I am allergic to soy and nuts and beans do not agree with me except in very small amounts. I was exhausted and my body needed protein.

So now I vote with my dollars by only buying organic meat, and as often as possible, meat "grown" locally and humanely. I am a true omnivore!

Like I said, I think that is the larger point of this interview: that we try harder each day, that we stay aware of our choices and their impact, and that we accept some things for what they are.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

OuterBliss: Obama is No Excuse for Lazy

PuppyCat Lilly

Listening to: This seems like a good choice for today.

Bliss: Today's festivities. Feeling hopeful. Feeling a bit safer from my own government. Feeling like we could travel and not have to say we're Canadian. Ha.

The first president I was really aware of was Ronald Reagan. I mean, really aware -- you know, watching what it was that he was doing and understanding the scope of the stage upon which he acted.

During my life, it has often felt like the White House might as well have been Buckingham Palace. I have grown so weary of the same names and the same old same old.

So today is a relief in so many ways, as most of you reading this feel.

But I pray that we don't, as we have in the past, waste this opportunity.

You see, I think that liberals in particular have this tendency to sit back and armchair coach. They just don't have the fire in their belly that conservatives seem to.

President Obama, we think, will take care of business.

And he will -- but on a global scale.

What will be happening in your neighborhood? How will you dare to change yourself? How will you push yourself to meet, I am assuming, his challenge to participate in this new world?

Will you celebrate today and then go on tomorrow as if nothing has happened? Remember, you are the only thing you can change. You matter. What you do matters; what you buy (or don't) matters; what you drive (or don't matters); what you say matters.

Bush did some bad, bad things...but how did you contribute? How are you culpable for the wars that are raging?

If you need that fire lit, here are some old posts you could read through:

"Return to Nature" is a Lie

Revolution = One + One + One...

What will you Give Up?

Planetary Bodhisattva: Taking the Vow

No Matter Who Wins, You Can Still...

Car Freedom 101

Have fun today watching that Inauguration -- we deserve some fun and celebration. But get ready, because tomorrow, the real work begins -- and not just for one man.

Monday, January 19, 2009

InnerBliss: Yoga to the Rescue!

I can't resist icicle pictures.

Listening to: I'm loving the song In Passing.

Bliss: Today I get to go pick up Marcy from her retreat cabin! YAY!

BonusBliss: Check out this new and fab store designed by Jennifer Hugon. The packaging, the product, the approach -- it's all brilliantly whimsical! (Make sure you click on one of the pictures to see the whole thing.)

I've mentioned before that Marcy and I are one of those couples who would like to be together twenty-four seven. We do well together. We find each other endlessly amusing. We are never annoyed with one another's presence. (We are not perfect, obviously! We have our "moments," like anyone else.)

Furthermore, our creative energies become symbiotic when we have lots of time together. If Marcy takes a week off from the library, for example, our rhythms become aligned. I can feel her in her room painting or writing -- the room right next to my writing room. And that keeps me moving forward.

So having her gone for a long weekend is a bit...trying.

If she had been at the cabin in the summer, no problem. I would hop on my bike and spend time at the water, at a cafe. I would read outside in the sunshine.

Winter is another story. I love winter. I love the quiet. I love the solitude. But alone for days in the house, with snow pouring down, with no desire to leave the house -- oh, my!

Add to that the fact that we are approaching the anniversary of Jobie leaving his fur suit; I am already sad. And I don't "do" sad well. It's hard for me to let go and let the sad be what it is.

But this weekend I had to. There was nothing to distract me from it.

The problem is that for someone who has suffered from pretty severe depression in the past, sadness feels frighteningly familiar. It feels very slippery. Cliff-like. Sad can feel like the beginning of something much worse. Even when it's not.

I journaled. But I wasn't getting anywhere with that. It wasn't helping in the way that it can.

You know I was feeling extra badly because I almost got snarky with someone who comments here. Snarky? What!? I hate snarky. I abhor snark.

That was my really big red flag -- the snark.

When I am really sad, when I'm not dealing with it, the uglies come out. I'm sure the same is true for anyone reading this. My uglies include, but are not limited to (ha!): anger, snark, being a know it all, and being defensive.

I knew what the cure was and I was resisting.

I didn't want to do yoga, I whined to myself. To the cats. To the rabbit. Oh, I was so whiny. I didn't want to change into my yoga pants -- too much work. I didn't want to pick the DVD -- too much work. I didn't want to stand up and walk up the steps to my yoga space -- too much work.

What a whiner!

But the amazing thing? The thing that tells me I have really, truly defeated my most dangerous demons? I did it anyway.

I got up. I walked up. I dressed. I selected. I did.

I did what I knew would make me feel better even though I wasn't really certain I wanted to feel better.

And during that yoga, Ravi Singh said: "Let love be your guiding force."


Sunday, January 18, 2009

MysticBliss: Rilke on Death

Another tree from a night walk.

Today, thoughts of death.

Marcy is in a cabin in the woods, and I am here, alone with our animals in our quiet and peaceful and warm house. And so thoughts of one year ago come visiting to fill the silence.

One year ago this coming Friday, our sweet Jobie left his fur suit while I was holding him, after many months of home hospice care. Jobie was a cat who was not to be "put down." The night before he passed, he was playing with me. Weakly, but still...

Let me back up.

I see animals not just as wise souls who can act as our guardians, but as beings not separate from the Divine.

Consider the story of the Garden of Eden. Turn it around in your hand and really look at it. Try to hear what it might be saying beyond the traditional, negative readings.

One small thing I discern in that story (and I have much more but not for today): Humans were told to leave the garden...and the snake. But no one else.

The Garden is the state of innocence and all other animals still live there. They are a way that we can connect to that innocence, to the divine, and know utter unconditional love.

They have much to teach us. Even in their deaths -- especially in their deaths.

Jobie left his fur suit quietly after a long and beautiful and fun life. I see him like an evolved Buddhist monk who controls his own death. Who chooses the moment and the way. And leaves with ease -- like we remove a coat upon entering a house. No struggle.

So for today, some Rainer Maria Rilke on death and dying. (Note how influenced by Buddhism Rilke was):

In life there is death and it astonishes me that everyone claims to ignore this fact: there is death, the pitiless presence of which we are made aware with every change that we survive because one must learn to die slowly. We must learn how to die: there is all of life. To prepare from afar the masterpiece of a proud and supreme death, of a death where chance does not play a role, of a death that is well wrought, quite happy, of an enthusiasm that the saints had known how to achieve; the masterpiece of a long-ripened death that effaces its odious name by restoring to the anonymous universe the recognized and rescued laws of an intensely accomplished life. During a long succession of experiences beginning in my childhood, this idea of death has painfully developed within me. It has now become my inner mandate to suffer this small death with humility in order to become worthy of that event, which needs us to be grand.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

BardBliss: Yellow

Lilly sleeping in the window
right next to me as I write.

One of the aspects of the current secret/chapter in our book club book is how you are inspired. Paying attention to how this usually -- not always -- works for you can be important to your level of creativity. If you are aware of how inspiration hits you, what inspires you, you can just be more awake to your natural rhythms.

Thinking back over my own creativity, I realized that, though I am working in the medium of words, it all starts for me with intense images. Usually these images are painterly, meaning very vivid and unmoving. Brief moments captured in my minds eye.

All of my poetry begins like this, which makes sense. But the novel I have finished started with one image -- a woman in a bathtub surrounded by candles. Other novels for which I have plans are also image based -- one is an old woman, at the edge of a violent ocean, and her glove is floating out ahead of her.

From these images, I start constructing story. I wonder why the woman is in the tub or why the old woman is out in such a violent storm.

What is the moment of birth for your creativity?


Our bedroom was
always yellow.
A happy sunshine
color just right
for the room of two
young sisters.

Whenever we moved
into a new house,
our room was painted
first thing
to match the faux
bamboo furniture
and the fields of flowers
bed spreads.

So all of our
bedrooms bleed
together into a stream
of yellow.
Though what I
remember most
is the black
of middle night.

I lay encased
in fear,
swallowed by

If you awoke,
we did not speak.
I might hear
you cry.
I would put
my head under
my pillow,
wishing I could
stuff the down
filling deep into
my ears, deep
into my brain.

The yellow
was the story
we told
ourselves in
the light
of day.

--Christine C. Reed

Friday, January 16, 2009

BlissQuest: Your Awakened (& Frightening) Creative Self

It was -4 this morning without wind chill.
Ice on the windows.

Listening to: This great Feist song; the folk story is, of course, about a sea lion or seal woman having her pelt taken away from her and becoming domesticated. Her pelt is her creativity and her inspiration.

Bliss: The sun is coming out and the sky is perfectly blue. Though cold, a good day to walk in my pale blue snow pants to my chiropractor appointment.

In my opinion, anyone born in a creatively
awakened condition deserves
both congratulations and condolences.
--Clarissa Pinkola Estes

How many of us have been told over our life times that we are "too sensitive?" That we take things too much to heart? That we over-analyze? That we think "too much?"

I am guessing if you are someone "born creatively awake" that you have been hearing things like that since you were a child.

And since then, you have been trying to figure out why you are seemingly different from other people, while at the same time experimenting with being even more different.

You probably dressed differently in high school. I wore hats. And sometimes silk. And sometimes long strands of pearls.

You probably spent your time differently. I'm betting you weren't hanging out at the mall all the time. Or practicing your cheers.

Though some of us would go on through college and into our larger lives maintaining this different-ness, most of us would have our pelts stolen like the Sea Lion or Seal Woman. We become overly domesticated, lose our wild edge where all the creativity comes from.

We don't "lose" it so much as give it over to other things. We decide that other people's dreams for us are bigger than our own dreams. We intentionally go back to sleep, forget that we ever had dreams, let go of all that inspires us and scares us in favor of comfort and a (false) sense of safety.

I was one of these walking zombies. Still trying to please everyone but myself, I married a boy right out of college. I handed over my pelt and stepped willingly onto the Phd/house/traditional family treadmill.

Then I met my soul mate, and much like a fairy tale, I was awakened again with the help of the truest love. Love that melts away the false self and shines like sun on earth, warming long dormant seeds.

Then the real learning began.

Today's book club secret in 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women is "honoring your inspirations." The author is speaking of more than what gives you your ideas but what allows you to manifest those ideas into your creative work.

She is speaking of honoring the unique versions of time and space that each creative soul needs in order to grow their projects.

And some of us are more the hot house variety of plant, while others are strong and sturdy weeds able to grow through a crack in cement.

I am of the hot house variety -- a wee bit delicate needing precise environmental settings in order to grow.

It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this in a culture where what you do to make money is generally what defines you.

I am not any good at the traditional "job" thing. I get bored very easily and then I start to feel like a caged lion and then the depression sets in.

So I work 2 days a week now at the library and spend the rest of my time at home working on a wide variety of creative projects. For which I do not get paid (yet). This confuses people. Most people appreciate the library job -- it gives them a box to put me in and makes them comfortable.

For a while, I had no "job" at all. That could kill a conversation real fast.

But to make sentences, to build chapters, to construct poems...I need a lot of quiet time; I need daily yoga; I need my pen and paper journal; I need to read...constantly...putting new ideas in my head.

If I worked full time, we could have a bigger house and more clothes and go on vacations and do all that stuff that other people our age do, but it would also mean that I would probably have to be Prozaced like so many in this nation.

Yes, it can be hard to be different is what Estes is saying, but it is much harder not to be your self.

What inspirations and rituals and needs are you not honoring?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

RandomBliss: What's in Your Happiness Toolbox?

I'm not a collector personality,
but I do love my espresso cups
(which get used every day).

Listening to: I love sassy Brits!

Bliss: Espresso tastes extra good out of pretty new cups! The sun is shining for the first time in days, though it is VERY cold. An unexpected gift in the mail from this creative woman.

A couple of things over the last three days had me thinking about the tools of the happiness trade, and I came up with, I think, the two most important items you should have in your (hopefully pink and/or glittered) toolbox.

First, I was doing a lot of thinking about compassion and how important it is to how we perceive the world and ourselves, and how that is the most important indicator of deep and abiding happiness.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
--Dalai Lama

This all seems very obvious, but every day we make decisions lacking compassion. We make decisions based upon some sense of right and wrong which is based on someone's arbitrary rules of those things.

Rules can be dangerous weapons if they are not changed to fit each and every individual and situation.

But if in every situation, we apply the tool of compassion, we will see just how fluid our rules have to become.

And here is the first tool: in our lives, compassion should always be our guiding compass.

A compass will point true north.

And isn't true north where our highest self resides? There is no confusion, no sense of righteousness, just love and compassion.

When you think you have been wronged, pull out this compass and see where it guides you.

When you think you can know another's heart and judge it, pull out this compass and see where it guides you.

But also do not forget: when you feel yourself being cruel to your self, pull out this compass.

When you hear those gremlins in your head, pull out this compassion.

Sometimes we forget to be as compassionate to ourselves as we are to others.

And being compassionate to ourselves has a lot to do with balance. When we are balanced, we treat ourselves with love and kindness and those things are then easier to extend to others.

Warrior Mama over at Warrior Girl had a great post yesterday about balance and how it's important to remember that balance should be fluid; it is not a static thing that you find and then never move from.

I loved this!

And it immediately brought to mind an image from my childhood: a level and my small(er) hands carrying it around and laying it on things just to watch that bubble move.

There are all those little slash marks on the glass part of the level, and there is the exact center, but there is some leeway.

Leeway /li:wei/ noun. Freedom of action
within set limits; room allowed for this;
a safety margin. (Oxford English Dictionary)

Isn't that a perfect description of how balance should function in our lives? We aren't building a house here, but a life, so aiming for this space is good enough.

There is freedom of action but also set limits.

The level in my toolbox tells me I really do need to do yoga every day.

But...I can miss a day occasionally and get right back to it the next. I can do 40 minutes one day, twenty the next, and 75 the next, depending on what kind of day I am having and what my body tells me it needs.

To keep my mind healthy, I have to write -- again, almost every day. How much I write and what I write all depends on where my creativity is calling me, but I must obey that call or I risk working outside my safety margin.

Have you gotten your toolbox down from that dusty shelf? Do you even know what is in it anymore? Does it include a compass and a level or do you find other tools more helpful?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SharedBliss: The Enchanted World of Artist Marcy Hall

Boddhisatvas: A Family Portrait
(Our cat & rabbit family before 2 deaths.)

Listening to: Marcy has hazel eyes, but this song is all about her.

Bliss: This life and being privileged to share it with such a powerful, silly, wise, whimsical soul.

It is a strange thing to construct an interview about the most important person in your life, but ever since I started writing about things that Marcy has taught me, people have been requesting that she be the subject of a SharedBliss. So, by popular demand...

Marcy and I just recently started watching Six Feet Under (yes, we're a little behind). In a recent episode, a main character asks a rabbi what it means when you say someone is your "soul mate," and she explains to him that a soul mate is the person who will most challenge your soul to grow and will support that growth.

I am blessed to have such a relationship. We not only endlessly entertain one another, but we challenge each other and push one another to express ourselves and explore all of our creative hopes and dreams.

I give Marcy a lot of credit for my own growth. Yes, I have to do the work, but what other person would give me the support and the space that she does?

Marcy, on the other hand, would tell you that I have taught her to assert herself. She would also say that no painting would have ever happened without me.

The second I met her and saw her "doodles," I started (gently!) pushing her to pick up a brush.

Thank god she eventually did.

A painting of me inspired by
a haiku I had written.

Two artists in one house, people ask? Yes, two artists in one house. And somehow we have a partnership that allows for constructive criticism that we would never accept from anyone else. And somehow it all ends up being so symbiotic -- we are often both thinking, thematically, about the same exact things.

A view of Marcy's studio space.
Hand-sewn, hand painted on silk elephant
by a dear friend.

Recently, Marcy has started blogging over at Ordinary Enchantment. The title of her blog says everything about how she sees and approaches life.

Her etsy store is filled with her most recent fascination, Ordinary Miracles.

One of Marcy's favorite things to paint is pet portraits. She enjoys the process of working with the animal's companion human to decide where to take each and every painting, trying to incorporate the pet's personality and the human's own spiritual and/or mystical view of their lives. You can, right now, find information about pet portraits here, though in the future, she'll be moving this line into an Etsy store also.

A second view of Marcy's studio space,
which she shares with the rabbit, Zoe.

Describe the PrimaryBliss of your life. How did you come to know that this was your PrimaryBliss?

There are many things that I would include in my definition of Bliss. If I think back on my life, I would have to say that music is a major source of Bliss for me. Listening to, playing, singing, drumming on the table (which drives a certain someone crazy!). Anything with music. It is essential to my cells, I think.

Also, part of my Bliss has always been found in writing, which I've started doing more and more while I work on a novel with our writing group and also in writing my fresh, new blog, Ordinary Enchantment. But, again, thinking back over my life, writing has always been an enjoyable part of it, and something I've always wanted to incorporate more into my everyday existence.

But, my Primary Bliss has to be art. Under the art umbrella, though, I include a lot of stuff. I love to create art-- anything from doodles, to pet portraits, to cityscapes, to cafe scenes, to (now) jewelry and the new milagros I've been working on. But I also love to look at art, to gaze at artful things. Artful things to me include pretty much anything from animals to people to trees to the Christmas tree lights, to birds, well... you get the idea. I find most things inspirational.

What types of choices and sacrifices did you make to be able to craft this bliss-filled life?

I don't feel like creating art is ever really a sacrifice. I guess I sacrifice some amount of leisure time. I wish I could read more and spend more time just walking round or lazing about, but overall, I feel so fulfilled by my life in all its parts that I don't feel like I'm sacrificing much of anything. Because I still have a full time job, I feel like I have to sometimes sacrifice time with you, Blisschick, in order to create. That's a sacrifice I feel sometimes very profoundly. Other than that, though, I'm good.

How does your PrimaryBliss radiate out into the rest of your life?

My philosophy on life is basically this: if I can be a happy person and do things that are fulfilling to me both creatively and spiritually, then I will send that out to the rest of the world. Practicing my Bliss is what makes that possible. This is, of course, true for each and every person. That's why I love these interviews so much and think they are so important-- practicing our Bliss IS how we radiate, and we need to be reminded of how realizing our Bliss IS REALLY POSSIBLE.

There are lots of hearts over at Ordinary
for Valentine's Day!

What are some other activities that also give you this sense of bliss? Things that make you lose track of time?

I've already mentioned them, but I'll be more specific. I recently started playing the guitar. I could lose myself in that for hours. Learning chords and listening to different combinations of them is magical to me. Petting animals. Taking pictures. Doing crossword puzzles while listening to music. Kneading and baking bread (well, baking anything really) is a joy. Watching my rabbit eat her lunchtime salad. Talking to my Blisschick, Christine. Sitting in the yard watching birdies with a glass of wine. I'm realizing as I write this that I lose myself in most every activity I to engage in. I guess that's OK. Everything is my happy place. :)

What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?

I'm actively working on this. It's been a struggle for me, because I so want something more in my life, and I feel something more in my life, but it's been difficult to figure out what my actual spiritual practice is. A few months ago, after reading the Blisschick interview with Connie Bickman, I realized that everyday activities, if done mindfully and with a spiritual intention, can be a spiritual practice. That helped me to think differently about such things. I am a work in progress on this. I'll keep you posted.

What music is your bliss?

Everything. Right now, I'm listening to an On-the-Go list on my iPod that includes Weezer, KT Tunstall, Feist, Sara Barielles, and Death Cab For Cutie. Ask me tomorrow and I'll be listening to Niyaz, Natasha Atlas, Danu, Miles Davis, Beverly Sills, old school INXS, new Madonna, Justin Timberlake, the Smiths, Dressy Bessy, 10,000 Maniacs, Kate Bush, Oasis, U2, Dave Matthews, They Might Be Giants, the Indigo Girls, Miou Miou, Liz Phair, Bjork, and XTC. Really, I have no standards. I will listen to and enjoy anything.

Name books or authors/poets or people who are your bliss, who influenced your bliss.

Besides the Blisschick, you mean?

I find writing with heavy imagery to be inspirational. I enjoy word artists like Barbara Kingsolver, Neil Gaiman, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison, etc. I enjoy a lot of children's/ YA literature, from Harold and the Purple Crayon and Bread and Jam for Frances to The Lord of the Rings to the Narnia books to Judy Blume and a million others. Poetry has always inspired me from Shel Silverstein to James Wright, ee cummings, William Carlos Williams, Anne Sexton, The Tao, James Dickey, etc. Reading and being read to was a big part of my upbringing. I was infused with it at every turn, so it's hard to be specific. My brain is a general compost pile.

What advice would you give to someone who feels they have not yet discovered their PrimaryBliss?

Keep looking. It's in there somewhere. It always is. And you always know what it is if you're honest with yourself. That's the hard part, though.

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

As always, Yoda: "Do or do not. There is no try."

Now you see where all of the inspiration for this blog comes from!