Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Calling All Wild Woman Artists!

So I have this idea and I need some help from you visual artists out there -- and I know there are so many of you!

I'm not just talking to those of you who make money with your art. Yes, you are included -- some of you are some of my favorite artists -- besides Marcy, of course!

I'm also talking to those of you who haven't given yourself permission to say you are "artists." Now is the time. Time for you to come out to yourself and the rest of the world -- or at least, this tiny piece of the world.

It is my dream to turn the Eccentricity Revolution for Wild Women manifesto into a downloadable poster so that women can hang them up on their refrigerators, over their computers, in their yoga rooms, at their jobs, wherever they need a reminder of their true selves.

But I am not a visual artist of this kind.

That's where you come in. Yes, you!

I will take submissions until Tuesday, July 21st. You have three weeks to work on this.

Just send a JPEG image to pinkyogi at gmail dot com.

After I have collected the images, we will put it to the vote. All pieces will be loaded anonymously and the readership of Blisschick will pick their favorite.

The winner will receive a copy of Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women who Run with the Wolves, but if she already owns that, we'll come up with something else.

Here are the rules:

1. You may submit as many images as you like.

2. The poster must contain all 14 points of the Manifesto.

3. The poster must be able to fit an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper and still be readable.

4. The poster must be Wild, Fun, Expressive, Colorful, and Inspirational!

5. The poster may be generated in any way you see fit -- photography, paints, digital, whatever!

6. At the bottom, the poster must be copyrighted to www.blisschick.net and yourself.

The winning poster will be made available for free.

How about it? Are you ready to play?

I double dog dare you!

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Lilly Passed Out Mid Run, 2009)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Reading Stephen Cope: Unitive Experience & the Wild Woman in You

As you all know, my new black capezio dance shoes came a few days ago. The very next day, I really started to break them in. For close to an hour (my stamina needs to be rebuilt!), I danced!

And I danced! I mean, really danced. With no one to see me, I pushed myself, took risks, let go. There was no thinking, just doing. All my joint pain was just gone. All my anxiety was out the window. I was completely absorbed in this action, in this moment, in this music, in these senses.

I was mindless, I would have said many years ago. Of course, what I really was trying to say is that I was completely mindful.

After reading chapter four of Stephen Cope's The Wisdom of Yoga, I now understand dance to be, for me, a very powerful unitive experience and thus its importance -- its utter necessity -- in my life.

Cope writes: When all of our mental faculties become involved in the task at hand, action and awareness are drawn together. The mind becomes one-pointed. Distractions fade away. The pressure of time fades....There is no more reaching. Why bother looking elsewhere? Paradise is right here.

When I am dancing, there is nothing else.

But this unitive experience, for me, is not limited to dance.

And we cannot think that this is limited to moments on the mat or on the meditation cushion either. Actually, those moments are intended to be "practice" for the rest of our lives.

It is in the doing -- the fully doing -- of those activities that we were sent here to do that we fully become ourselves and become united with the larger universe or spirit.

I had a profound experience of this after an acting class in college where I presented my final monologue, which left the room full of students crying and my teacher, a professional theatre actress, breathless. When I left that room, the colors of the leaves on the trees, the sky -- it was all exploding in neons. Everything sparkled. I felt whole and totally open at the same time.

I had a profound experience of this when I was snorkeling in the Caribbean. I had no concept of where I was or how or if time were passing. All I knew was that I had dissolved into the Ocean and become one with the salty waters.

I had a profound experience of this when sitting on our back porch typing away at the last chapters of my novel, which seemed as if it had taken me over, was pouring through me.

It is in the doing...

Another tradition has much the same to say as Yoga in regards to Paradise.

In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Christ says: The kingdom is inside you and it is outside you...when you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living (god). But if you do no know yourselves, then you dwell in poverty, and you are poverty.

Because this is what all of this is about, isn't it? Knowing ourselves and living from that knowing.

I recently have invited you to join an Eccentricity Revolution for Wild Women.

This is not just some flippant attempt to get us all wearing glitter and singing too loudly in public. (Though that would be just fine...)

This is about becoming who you were meant to be so that you might experience bliss -- or your own divinity which is infinite in each moment.

Knowing yourself, you will then have more of these unitive experiences and some day you may realize that your whole life is one big unitive experience and that there is no longer any need for a meditation cushion because your life is your meditation.

Think back. What moments can you identify as unitive experiences? What were you doing?

Why aren't you doing it now?

(Photo Credit, Christine C. Reed, Upper Lobby, Warner Theatre, Erie, PA, 2009)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

MysticBliss: Gandhi on Spiritual Experience

It may be that there are as many nuanced perceptions of Mary as there are people engaged with her spiritual presence. Perhaps, as Gandhi surmised, everyone has his or her own religion. He was not advocating a solipsistic dissolution of collective faith but meant only that everyone, no matter how orthodox or "by the book," necessarily experiences spiritual teachings in a unique way.

--from Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Hydrangea, 2009)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sharing the Love

Thank you to Everyday Revelry, The Analyst, and City Girl Lifestyle for the blog love!

"Apparently this award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."

I'd like to pass this along to Rebecca over at A Difference a Year Makes and Graciel over at Evenstar Art.

Also, a big thanks to Natually Jules for her blog love; she gave this to me about a week ago and with so much going on, I didn't mention it in a timely manner. (oops)

And this one goes to Claudia over at Olivos Art Studio and Earth Mother at In The Raw.

Friday, June 26, 2009

enCouragingBliss: One Small Gift for Yourself

I received the box in the above photo Thursday afternoon from the UPS man (or the BrownTruck, as we like to call it -- all one word).

I have not held a box of this sort since I was probably twenty years old. I forgot that it was so small and thin, so smooth, containing so much promise. (I am very tactile, if you can't tell.)

What was in the box? I am sure many of you know...

My first pair of brand new black Capezio ballet flats in twenty years! Woot! I am so totally and utterly geeked about this.

You see, this magical pair of shoes cost a mere 30 dollars, and yet as a symbol, they are worth so much more.

Even before I found and signed up for the YogaDance training, I had decided to take my dancing self much more seriously. As a sign of my commitment, I ordered this pair of shoes.

These shoes are a symbol that I am freeing the Wild Woman in me, the Creative Bird who wants to fly higher and faster.

Now they are not just a sign of my commitment to this idea of me, but they are also a sign of that training and how I am preparing for it -- not just emotionally but also physically, of course.

All for thirty dollars!

So...here is the challenge for this week's enCouragingBliss:

What small thing, what inexpensive gift could you get for yourself that would act as a symbol of your commitment to freeing your Inner Wild Woman?

What little something -- when you saw it or used it -- would remind you that you are a member of Eccentricity Revolution.

Come on...Do tell! Then go out and get it.

Make that commitment. Make it tangible.

(Photo Credits: Christine C. Reed, Shoes!, 2009)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Was Not a "Celebrity"

I remember it so clearly: the first time I heard the Thriller album. I was in my aunt and uncle's basement and the adults were playing pool.

My Uncle loved music and he insisted that everyone listen.

"This kid is amazing. Really!"

And though everyone quickly went back to their game, I was enraptured. I knew he was right.

I scanned and read and reread the liner notes of that album, stared at the cover photo, looking for some explanation of what sounded like genius to my 14 year old ears. My body desperately wanted to dance but I was too shy and so just sat and listened, amazed.

The music of Michael Jackson -- from the time he was small -- was different, and it changed music. Maybe not in a serious Philip Glass sort of way, but not everyone has to be serious or Philip Glass. There is genius in fun, in joy, in what seems, on the surface, to be "simple."

But that wasn't enough. Micheal's body changed our lives, too. Gene Kelly is reported to have said that there was no other person on the planet creating unique dance besides Micheal Jackson.

Again, from the time he was small, you couldn't keep your eyes off of him. No matter how many people were around him, he was all there was.

And now look around -- look at the music and the dance being made even now and I dare you to find anything that is in not some way connected to or derivative of Michael Jackson.

No, he was not a "Celebrity." A Celebrity is someone who whores themselves but has no actual skill for which they should be admired -- like the current reality television "stars."

Michael Jackson was Famous -- and for good reason.

Michael Jackson was famous because he did something that no one else could do, and for that, he earned and deserved our admiration and our accolades.

Michael Jackson, it seems, never found peace in this life; I pray that he finds it in the next.

An Overview of All the Chakras

As you probably know, I am a big proponent of Kundalini Yoga; you could even call me a "Pusher."

I have been doing yoga for about 14 years. I started with Iyengar and was pretty obsessed with Pose Perfection. I have dabbled in many schools of yoga, but I feel most at home in Kundalini. I've been with Kundalini now for about 7 years, and it has been a happy and healthy union.

(If you are new to Kundalini yoga, I have an amazon widget with some of my favorite books and DVD's for the beginner.)

The YogaDance training I will be attending at Kripalu (I got my confirmation of my space!) is also, I think, going to feel very like home to me. It is yoga; it is dance, yes, but it is also based on the Chakras.

I have been studying the chakras for as long as Kundalini Yoga, if not longer.

(For a great book that synthesizes the concepts of the Chakras along with the concepts underlying the seven deadly sins, read Matthew Fox's Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh.)

Last August and September here on Blisschick, I ran a series of posts about each of the chakras that include questions so you might explore each energy center.

And recently, someone used Skribit to suggest that I write about the chakras. I thought a good answer to this suggestion would just be the bringing together of these posts. So here they are, in order from the "bottom" up:

Chakra One: How Strong Is Your Sense of Self?

Chakra Two: Is Creativity Flowing Into Your Life?

Chakra Three: Navel Power Fuels Your Life

Chakra Four: Harmony of the Heart

Chakra Five: Let Your Voice Be Heard

Chakra Six: Awakening Your Intuition & Being True to Yourself

Chakra Seven: How Connected Are You?

Chakra Eight: How Bright is Your Radiance?

Categorizing only eight chakras is an oversimplification, to say the least, but it's also just a great place to start without getting overwhelmed.

Have fun exploring and let me know if there's anything specific that comes up that you might like to see me delve into further.

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Summer's First Lily, 2009)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Savouring Versus Going Through the Motions

I do well with routine. In this house, the Lilypad, we refer to me as a "Schedule Cat." When my schedule is off, I am off. This includes bed time, feedings, all of it.

It also includes my creativity and the flow of my day.

But like any life, there is the danger of getting in a rut, not really paying attention, just going through the motions.

I get to the point where I am doing yoga at 4 P.M., because I am scheduled to do yoga at 4 P.M.

For Wishcasting Wednesday today, Jamie asks us What Do You Wish to Savour? (We will retain the English/Canadian spelling because we like it!)

Savouring is just another word for being mindful.

When you eat a really good meal, a large part of the reason that it is good -- besides the excellent cooking -- is that you are paying attention. You are just eating. You are probably not also watching television. You are chewing and noticing you are chewing, as Thich Nhat Hanh would say. There is a good chance you are rolling your eyes up into your head and making little groaning sounds.

I wish to savour my creative life with this level of focused, sensual mindfulness.

When I am writing, I don't want to just have the end in mind. The finished product.

There is so much about writing to savour. I want to notice the play of my mind and how much I am in the zone when that happens. I have a beautiful pen, an old typewriter, a great computer, an orange writing room with a window overlooking the street, music floating in and around the room...

There is so much to savour.

There is so much about yoga to savour. I want to notice the efficiency of my body, the stretch of my muscles, the sound of my own breath. The way it can feel like all thinking stops. Those wonderful times when I am chanting and it feels like my mind is as large as the sky...

There is so much to savour.

I wish to savour the moment of conceiving new ideas and scritch-scratching them down on my pink legal pads

I wish to savour this quiet life that makes poetry possible so that I might catch words as they fly over my head.

I wish to savour the privilege of sitting here, listening to the clickity-clack of the trimming shears as Marcy works in the yard, and writing for so many thoughtful, generous, and kind hearted readers.

I wish to savour this life.

How about you? What do you wish to savour?

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Clematis, 2009)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where Does Your Wild Self Wish to Fly?

So much is going on!

As you know, we've had two people pass away recently; we've also taken care of a small, day old baby rabbit who also passed away a couple of days ago. In the midst of all of this, we went to a wedding where I rediscovered my dancing self, which led to thoughts of tamed wildness and then a Eccentricity Revolution for Wild Women Manifesto.

On top of all of this, my word for the year is Fly -- a word born of experiences and wisdom gained through other deaths.

Writing this blog has been a form of flying for me. I have put myself, my ideas, my words out there, and they have been received -- graciously so. I rarely have anything but good, positive, respectful conversations happening in the comments section, and I am grateful for a readership of open-minded, kind-hearted seekers.

(And, no, I am NOT announcing the end of this blog! No way!)

But now, as announced last week, this bird is ready to fly free of her self-imposed cages; she is ready to be a Wild Bird once again, as she was born to be.

And I have invited you to join me. Have you thought about this? Have you opened the door to your cage or are you just staring at that latch, frozen by fear?

Let me be an example...

I have many fears that I have had to overcome to fly out of my cage, but I did it -- and in a big way on Sunday.

I have, for a long time, dreamed of yoga teacher training. There is nothing local. I would have to go away. For a month.

I hate traveling. I hate being away from home.

A month?

But then after dancing at that wedding and remembering that part of myself, I realized that I wanted to somehow integrate yoga and dance. Marry them. (Giggle.)

What did I find at Kripalu Yoga Center? A very special and magical gift from the Universe, that's what!

On Sunday, I signed up to go to a YogaDance training for one week (easing into this) in October.

My wings are stretching!

How about you? Where would you like to fly off to? What dreams are awaiting your willingness?

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Perennial Kiwi, 2009 -- Yes, it will bear fruit!)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reading Stephen Cope: How Craving & Aversion Aren't the Problem

Typically when I read a book written by Stephen Cope, I end up underlining sections and putting stars, exclamation points, and smiley faces next to them in the margins. I am having a very friendly conversation with Stephen.

But this chapter felt different, and instead of my usual, preaching-to-the-converted types of markings, I ended up writing whole sentences wherein I was having a bit of an argument with him.

Let me start by saying that his differentiation between afflictive states and non-afflictive states are vital to any understanding of yoga, meditation, or most spiritual practices that are meant to bring us to a state of ease in our own lives.

Afflictive states create discord between us, our minds, and our lives. We are attached to certain outcomes, and when we don't get them, we fall into pits of despair or become entangled in ever-spiraling levels of anger and frustration.

Herein lies the possible stumbling block.

Many people get confused. They think that residing in a non-afflictive state means that they are forever peaceful and calm; nothing ever can ruffle their feathers again; everything is groovy and blissful.

They think that it means being mindfully present to the exclusion of fantasy or daydream or planning. They think it means accepting what life hands you with a pleasant half-smile. They think it means never wanting or desiring again.


Not at all. That state would better be described as "dead." (We then use these impossible standards to judge ourselves as failing some spiritual test.)

For example, as humans, we are designed to imagine. We are designed to imagine, let's say, how to take down that larger-than-us animal for dinner so that we might survive even though we don't have giant claws or legs that can propel us over the Serengeti at 30 mph.

We are designed to imagine how to protect our families from the predators that do have those claws and those legs.

It is our brains and our imaginations that made it possible for us to (over) populate the planet. (The good or bad of this is not our topic today.)

Imagining means musing over possibilities that reside in a never where -- a place and time that does not yet exist but that we could through the second step -- action -- make manifest.

So it is in our very nature to spend time contemplating the past -- and the mistakes we have made so that we might not make them again -- and dreaming of the future -- perhaps a future without the flu or a future where no one starves or a future that includes a book or a piece of art that only you could create.

Cope says that "craving and aversion do not exist in the deeper, luminous parts of the mind."

But to divide our minds into parts like this seems to miss the whole point.

We are, at our cores, animals. Craving and aversion -- that is what we are made of.

It's what we do with those things, how we react to them that makes us human, that creates luminosity.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

MysticBliss: Deepak Chopra

I believe that death accomplishes the following miraculous things:

It replaces time with timelessness.

It stretches the boundaries of space to infinity.

It reveals the source of life.

It brings a new way of knowing that lies beyond the reaches of the five senses.

It reveals the underlying intelligence that organizes and sustains creation.

In other words, death is a fulfillment of our purpose here on earth....The reason that human beings keep seeking fulfillment beyond the stars is that we sense that our own mystery lies there, not here in the realm of physical limitation.

-- Deepak Chopra, Life After Death

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Dusk, 2009)

Friday, June 19, 2009

enCouragingBliss: Finding Your (Off) Center

The culture in which we live is dangerously close to pathologizing any aspect of personality that does not live up to our ideas of "normal."*

(*Again, I must point out that I am not in any way speaking to mental illness that deprives an individual of safety and happiness.)

Now "normal" means some very specific things and what it comes down to is your ability to fit inside a tight box -- or cubicle -- that includes, most importantly, your role as a money maker and a consumer.

Can we all say it together?


Yesterday, I wrote a bit about the idea of Our Tamed Wild Woman Selves.

When I first started reading about this and thinking about this years ago, I would get frustrated to the point of tears. What the hell did Pinkola-Estes mean? What would my life look like in a concrete way if I were able to find this supposed inner Wild Woman that had, supposedly, been placed in some cage of which I was only slightly aware?!

(Literature held some clues. My favorite book is The Awakening by Kate Chopin, and so did The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. If you haven't read either, go do so...now!)

But it is only as I turn 40 that I feel like I am getting somewhere -- to some wonderfully spooky and mysterious Forest that contains magic and fairy tales in terms of my own Journey.

A large part of the discovery of this fairy tale land is realizing that I am the central character and that it is my character that makes the whole thing so interesting.

Besides sounding narcissistic, what do I mean?

I mean that I finally have learned that it is all the quirky stuff that makes me me that is going to make this journey fun and interesting.

eccentric: (adjective) 1 (of a person or their behavior)
unconventional and slightly strange or whimsical
2 Technical (of a thing) not placed centrally or
not having its axis or other part placed centrally

As of right this minute, I am calling forth an Eccentricity Revolution for Wild Women!

Are you brave enough to join? (Do I need to double dog dare?)

Here is the beginning of an
Eccentricity Revolution for
Wild Women Manifesto:

1. We will crash through the doors
of our cages & fly free!

2. We will never again not wear
something because it's "too much."

3. We will never again be quiet
when we want to be loud,
loud when we want to be quiet.

4. We will DANCE!

5. We will SING!
& speak truth-in-love
even if it makes us nervous.

6. We will love our bodies!
(They are the conduits for our unique lives.)
We will never again judge
with numbers!

7. We will write & paint &
sculpt & make things
like there is no tomorrow!
(Because there may not be one.)

8. We will cease to numb,
or apologize
for our Unique Selves.

9. We will always be
aware that we
Walk in the Sky.
(Thank you, Ravi Singh.)

10. We will affirm the life-giving &
loving energy of the Universe;
We will not participate in
the Culture of Fear & Violence.

11. We will consider the sacred currency
of our life energy as the precious
commodity it is, & only choose
to spend it in line with our own
personal values & priorities.

12. We will be All the Color
& Warmth of the Sun
for Ourselves & Each Other.

13. We will be the
Sound of Laughter.

14. We will be Soft & Persistent
as Rain, making Grand Canyons
of Creative Expression with
our Patience & Fortitude.

What would you add to an Eccentric Revolution for Wild Women Manifesto?

Will you join us?

Will you spread the word to other women who need it?

Viva la Revolucion!

(A VERY special thanks to Lisa at Nerdy Renegade, who read these in advance and shared her wisdom and added so much before it went "live." Let it be known far and wide that she may officially and publicly from this day forward be referred to as "Oh Wise One.")

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Yet Another Peony, 2009)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Wild Dancing Queen Self & the Need for Play

Without (the Wild Woman), women's inner
eyes are closed by some shadowy hand,
and large parts of their days are spent
in a semi-paralyzing
ennui or else wishful thinking.

--Clarissa Pinkola Estes,
Women Who Run with the Wolves

Some of what has been stunted in me
by other people's stories is:
wildness, power, confidence, and mystery.

--Emma in the comments to this post

Amidst the sadness of two recent deaths, we had a friend's wedding to attend.

I don't think I've ever been to such a fun, laid back wedding.

And for the first time in too many years, I was dancing! In the above photo, I am dancing with a woman we met that night for (not) the first time. (Erie is small; it turns out we'd met before). Marcy is taking the photo. The music is Dancing Queen. Yep, Dancing Queen.

To say I have not danced in years is a startling thing. I've always been a "dancer." From the time I was young, I danced and sang almost every, single day.

So what happened?

How and when did I become so tamed that I don't even dance any more?

Right before the wedding, Emma brought up this idea of subdued, repressed wildness in a comment about the stories that other people tell us about ourselves.

Emma asked me what part of my wild self was being denied and I didn't have an immediate answer -- until the wedding.

When we got home that night, Marcy told me it was so good to see me so happy and that she'd not seen me having fun like that in too long. We sat down and had a talk about what all of this added up to.

Then today, Jamie over at Starshyne, for Wishcasting Wednesday, asked "What do you wish to play with?"

About two weeks ago, I had decided I would start participating in this Wednesday wishing game, and then this is the question I get!

I wish to play with music and movement on a more regular basis.

I wish to experiment with letting my Wild Woman out of her cage!

How many of you want to join me?

What would your Wild Woman do if you set her free!?

(Photo Credit: Marcy Hall, Dancing Queen, 2009)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Are You Giving Up Freedom for Security, Status, & Comfort?

"Those who surrender freedom
for security will
not have,
nor do they deserve,
either one."

— Thomas Jefferson

I think there are a lot of people out there who would nod their heads in agreement with this quote if we were having a political discussion about the Bush administration and our post 9/11 American culture.

But how many of those same people could see that it applies to their own, daily, mundane lives?

As soon as we start dissecting how we all gladly hand over freedom for security and status and comfort, our defenses go up. We start making excuses. We fall back on old ways of thinking. We crawl into our little boxes and pull the lids over our heads.

For fear.

Fear is a powerful motivator, and the current culture in which we live is all about selling you a product based on your most basic fears.

The most subtle selling is all about the kind of life you live. We are sold marriage/children/house/two cars/life insurance/health insurance/retirement fund from the time we are quite small. By the time we are in college, most of us cannot see past this paradigm.

Then quite suddenly, we are in our late twenties or thirties wondering how the hell we became so unhappy, so burdened by obligations and responsibilities, so very far from our dreams and heart's desires.

The defenses go back up and we cower from the sun-intense light that our true dreams shine into the shadows of our Quiet Desperation sorts of lives.

There's a reason the tag line for this site is Be Brave; Choose Bliss. This is hard stuff. It's much easier to crawl back into that box.

But for some of us, our dreams will poke and prod and create a hunger that is so intense that the box simply falls apart.

For the lucky among us.

Perhaps my question yesterday made you uncomfortable? Then perhaps your box is starting to crumble, cave, warp -- letting in some of that light.

You are, perhaps, starting to think that security and status are not...fun. There must be more to life than the chase.

"Security" and "status" and "comfort" come in all sorts of disguises. It is not necessarily a giant bank account.

If you got that giant bank account absolutely doing what you love than you have not given up your freedom.

To start dissecting if you have given up your Freedom, here are some questions to ponder. Watch out for "excuse making." Try to dive beyond the excuse and see if it is real or something you've been told about life that no longer works for you.

And let me note: Sometimes we are caught in choices we made earlier in life. That is how it is. Consequences for choices made in less than full consciousness can go on for a very long time. There is no simple solution, no happy thought that will get you out of these. Usually only time and hard work will do that.

Do you work at a job solely for money? (REFER BACK TO PURPLE NOTE DIRECTLY ABOVE if you immediately launch into "But I have children..." or any such statement.)

Do you work a soul-killing job because you like the "perks?"

Do you work for a second car? Do you work for more square footage? Do you work for expensive clothes, shoes, accessories?

Does your work in any way limit your time with the people you love? Why are you allowing this?

Do you work for titles?

Do you do work for ego fulfillment? Do you work so other people will see you as a "good person?"

Do you work for a retirement that may never come?

Are you postponing your life until a certain age?

Do you label things as "necessity" that are really Luxury?

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, this is the only life you know you get. Live it well. Live it brave. You must be yourself and not someone else's version of you.

For what have you exchanged your freedom?

Were the rates good enough?

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Heirloom rose, 2009)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sometimes Chasing Our Dreams Just Makes Us Lose Our Breath

To lose two people we care about in one week has us thinking about all sorts of things, as Marcy has mentioned over at Ordinary Enchantment.

Big Things.

I've started especially looking at how I spend my time. Am I doing what I love? Am I doing what I love in a manner which befits me and challenges me at the same time?

Do I take the time to process things that happen? Do I take time for quiet?

We can do, do, do...chasing dream after dream...but is that what we are really here for or are we missing a Larger Point in our quest to stay busy, stay "productive," try everything?

Just because we aren't chasing a million dollars or a mansion or a car that costs more than most homes doesn't mean we aren't caught up in a chase. It's delusional to believe that because what we chase is "good" that we are "better" than others who chase "material trophies."

More yoga training, more types of meditation under our belts, more retreats, more books read, more classes taught, more classes taken...it goes on and on.

It is good to Do Things, but we also have to just Be.

Here's the Ultimate Question that has come to me over and over this past year or two, especially as we have journeyed with our sweet friend, Ken, on his way to Sparkle Pond (what we like to call the afterlife here at the Lilypad):

If you were told you only had so much time, that your death was more imminent than most of us assume, what would you be doing with your time?

Over and over, I've thought about this, wondering if I would be one of those people who tries to fit in One Hundred Big Trips and all sorts of risky, adventurous experiences.

And here is the conclusion I come back to, again and again:

I would do just what I am doing right now.

I would write and read and garden and take walks and visit the lake that is only two miles to the North. Above all, I would hug my Marcy and all the fur loved ones we are lucky enough to know.

How about you?

If you only had so much time, would you live the life you have or would you change it?

What's stopping you?

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Scottie Cat, 2009)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Reading Stephen Cope: Getting a Gold Star for Noble Failure

I read chapter two, Close Encounters with Mind of Stephen Cope's The Wisdom of Yoga, on Friday afternoon, thinking that I could let it settle and turn into blogging material over the weekend. Knowing also that, during the weekend, I would not find a lot of reading time.

Because we've had one of "those" weekends.

You know the kind: when you can barely breathe because you are running from one thing to the next. They happen more often in the Summer than at any other time of year.

This weekend started with a morning phone call on Saturday letting us know that Marcy's friend and colleague had passed away. Barely able to pause and take that in, we had (expected) company arrive from out of town. Barely able to rest, we had to get ready for a wedding.

You get the idea.

How appropriate, too, that I was having this sort of weekend while reading this sort of book.

It seems to me that this sort of weekend is the whole point of this book: this external hamster wheel is but a shadow of the hamster wheels on which we run, run, run in our minds.

Chapter two is all about the beginning of meditation and the immediate fruit that is the noticing of your own patterns.

My forms of meditation (and I believe there are an infinite variety) include physical yoga and the rosary. And oh! The things that I think during these two honorable practices just about make me blush!

But here's the thing...the longer I do these things, the faster I notice all the chit chat in my brain and the faster I then can pull myself gently away from it, getting back to the pose and the breath or the feel of the bead and the prayer.

As Stephen Cope says:

Once we begin to dis-identify with the current
of thoughts on the surface of the mind,
concentration automatically deepens.

This reminds me of another way that I enter this stillness, this thing called meditation: bird watching, and I do mean "watching."

I do not seek out the birds. I do not keep a check list of birds. I do not drive hundreds or fly thousands of miles and climb mountains or trek through rain forest to find birds.

I watch birds. I sit in one spot and become still enough physically that they go back to their business, noticing me no more than a tree.

In this process, my mind becomes utterly still. There is nothing but inner peace and a purely senses-based awareness of feather and color and song.

When I started birding like this a few years ago, it was the first time I really broke through my monkey mind into this still space. It was the first time in a long time when I felt connected to everything around me and knew, for sure, that all shall be well.

It was the first time that I had gotten far enough into the Noble Failure that I could see there was a way out, a way beyond, a different way.

Some questions for you based on this week's reading:

Have you gotten your Gold Star for Noble Failure yet? Have you started to notice the patterns your mind falls into?

What ways do you meditate in your life?

Can you expand the definition of "meditation" for yourself?

(Photo Credit, Christine C. Reed, Perennial Geranium, 2009)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Beth could not reason upon or explain the faith that gave her courage and patience to give up life, and cheerfully wait for death. Like a confiding child, she asked no questions, but left everything to God and nature, Father and Mother of us all, feeling sure that they, and they only, could teach and strengthen heart and spirit for this life and the life to come.

--From Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Cornflower, 2009)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

SharedBliss: Paying it Forward

This week, Lauren from Everday Reverly and Analiese Marie from Tulips and Tea both awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award.

Thank you, both.

I like Lauren's six things that make her happy today list, so I think I will add my six things:

1. A kitten named Lilly sleeping right next to me in the window of this orange writing room.

2. A Lila Downs music list playing on Pandora radio.

3. The sun. In which I will sit after I finish this.

4. Marcy.

5. Good, Italian espresso.

6. Nearing the end of a journal and thinking about which new journal I will use next.

Okay, onto the Paying It Forward part of this. Blogs that I find lovely in some way lately:

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Clematis Center, 2009)

Friday, June 12, 2009

enCouragingBliss: Grab Bag of Questions

Over the past couple of weeks, I feel like the posts on blisschick have had an exorbitant number of questions that have remained unanswered.

The world of blogging and the internet moves very quickly, and as fast as we are "into" one topic, we are onto the next.

We put ideas out there, and though we all sense they are ideas worth spending some time with...we don't.

So, for enCouragingBliss this week, here are some of the questions I've asked recently.

Pick one or two or however many you want.

Spend some time writing about it or them.

Let us know what you come up with. Remember, you can just comment or you can leave a link to your own post in the comments, but please participate.

We are a community of people striving to be brave and choose bliss; all of our energy together is certainly stronger than hording it to ourselves.

From an enCouragingBliss at the end of May:

As James Barrie said:

Dreams do come true, if we only wish hard enough, you can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.

So that's the question for enCouragingBliss:

What do you want? What do you really need? What would make your soul burst into the flower, into the universe that it was born to be?

And what are you willing to sacrifice to get there?

From when I introduced the idea of reading Stephen Cope together:

What are you setting out to discover?

Of course, expectations will be blown wide apart and ideas will be drowned in the brilliant light of experienced truth, but to set out, I think we need to have an inkling of why and what for.

Perhaps spend some time journaling about this: Why do I seek? For what do I seek?

From a meditation on self:

If no one had ever told you who you were, who would you be?

Go for it. Strip it all away. Choose your own novel; be your own protagonist.

Be brave. Choose bliss.

And from earlier in May:

Looking back over your week (or month!), when and how did you find yourself not respecting your boundaries, not living from your integrity, not following your bliss?

Do you notice any patterns? For example, do you tend to get too involved, like me, with other people's problems in lieu of working on your own?

Do you find yourself "pushing through" some giant list of "shoulds" rather than doing what your heart is aching for you to do? What is your excuse?

How, then, can you eliminate these things, people, events, that are eating away at instead of feeding your bliss?

If this is overwhelming, perhaps you could pick one reoccurring issue and focus on that.

Like I said, lots of big questions that could easily get lost in the constant stream of information in which most of us currently swim.

Take some time. Sit on the stream's edge under a big shade tree. Sip something yummy. Listen to the birds and the wind and see what they have to teach you.

Then...come back from your journey and share with others what you have learned.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

BlissQuest: Resistance is Futile or Resisting Our Bliss, Part Deux

This week, Marcy and I had some (expected) bad news, and as I write this, we are awaiting more of the same. Two relatively young people passing in one week makes you stop and think, doesn't it?

The woman about whom we are awaiting news is/was an amazing individual. Susan was full of faith and she lived that faith in a way that we don't see very often. She gave love; she was love. Susan appreciated every moment of her life, even saying she would choose the same all over again.

That is enlightenment right there.

As you can imagine, I've been a bit on the distracted side and writing has not come easily. Thinking about this post for today, I wondered how I could put sentences together and what they could possibly be about, considering the Big Things that are happening around us.

Then I remembered that I had intended to return to this topic of resisting our bliss.

Susan lived her bliss every minute of every day. She never said "no" to anything.

She knew that, as the Borg on Star Trek would say, "Resistance is Futile."

Now, the Borg mean "Don't fight 'cause we're stronger than you," but if you look at the definition of futile, I think the phrase would make an excellent mantra in answer to the question "Why do we resist our bliss?"

Futile: incapable of producing
any useful result; pointless.

Every time we resist our Bliss, our Faith, our Love, our Yes, we are turning our backs on life, we are producing nothing but pain, we are engaging in a pointless exercise.

I have come to a huge conclusion this week, and it is this:

As with most of the Big Questions in life, the "Why" is inconsequential.

The better, more important question is "what are you going to do about it?"

(Photo Credit: Christine C. Reed, Barely Opening Clematis, 2009)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SharedBliss: Leah Piken Kolidas, Artist & Host of Creative Every Day

On April 17th, I issued a double-dog-dare-you challenge. I asked that you pick one, super hard thing to do (or not do) for 100 days. I think vows like this can teach us a wide variety of lessons -- about ourselves and our assumptions, about our power and our weaknesses.

So I understand the impulse that led Leah Piken Kolidas to do what she did.

Six years ago, Leah decided to challenge herself to be creative every day during an entire month. The following year, lucky for us, she decided to invite others to participate.

And in 2008, she went a huge step further and developed Creative Every Day.

Being a creative of whatever sort -- writer, painter, singer, dancer -- is difficult and often isolating. Projects like Leah's create a sense of community that can be missing as we work away in our garrets high above the busy streets.

The sense of obligation that we feel toward the community can propel us in ways that self-motivation cannot, which can result in breakthrough work that wouldn't have happened without feeling as though there are people awaiting your work.

You can join Leah's Creative Every Day community any time you want. The blog is right here. Her art gallery is here. You can also find her on Twitter (another community that you can use to keep yourself on track and held accountable, I have found).

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

The PrimaryBliss of my life is creativity. Playing, painting, doodling, drawing on the sidewalk, making up silly songs, taking pictures, writing, and on and on. Creativity has always played a big part in my life. My mom still has little drawings I did when I was two and I used to love writing little illustrated stories, making workbooks for a game of school, and scripting musicals for our parents. So I guess I've known creativity was my PrimaryBliss for a long time. :-)

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

For me, part of living a bliss filled life has been letting go of things that weren't working for me. Sometimes that has included a job, a friendship, or a relationship. It can be really hard to walk away when you're feeling fearful, but when you let go of things that bring you down, you have more room for the things that light you up.

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

My PrimaryBliss radiates out into my artwork, into the projects I work on (such as my blog and art picnics), into my relationships, into everything I do!

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

Well, art-making certainly does that for me. Anything involving paint, collage, drawing, or doodling can lead to losing track of time. Other activities include, reading a great book or great blogs, laughing with the hubster, snuggling up my cats, or exploring new places on foot.

What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?

I connect with my spiritual side through art-making. It's been the way in for me. When I can let go and create, I connect with the deeper wisdom within myself. I also like to get out in Nature nearly every day. Spending time with trees and near water helps me feel grounded and connected.

What music is your bliss?

Recently, I've been listening to the New Age Ambient station on Pandora.com. It's soothing and I can listen to it while I write. Besides Pandora, I listen to a variety of music, anything from Scissor Sisters, Ani Difranco, Damien Rice, Ray LaMontange, the soundtrack to Once, etc...

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

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is a favorite. I also love books by SARK and Tom Robbins. I've absolutely loved the Harry Potter Series. Steering by Starlight by Martha Beck is fabulous. Poetry by Mary Oliver and Rumi lift me up. And I've loved the work of Pema Chodron. There are many, many more. But that's a good start.

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

I'd say, keep moving toward what brings you joy. Take small steps. Finding your bliss can be like a dance, where you're moving closer, and stepping back.

Journal about the things that bring you bliss, starting with the tiniest things, like your favorite mug, your cat's purring, the smell of cut grass. Slowly bring more and more bliss into your life. Perhaps a bunch of flowers on your desk or a purple pen would brighten your day? Small things can make a huge difference and they will help remind you of your PrimaryBliss (because you probably already know what your bliss is, you may have just forgotten or buried it for safekeeping.)

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

"Whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity." ~Julia Cameron

I've been thinking about letting go a lot lately and so I appreciate Leah's clarification about what letting go can do for us -- it creates space for the new, for the enlivening, for the inspiring.

And her "small steps" approach to discovering your larger bliss is an excellent exercise.

So, two questions come from Leah:

What could you let go of that would create more space in your life?

What micro-blisses could you bring into your life immediately?

(Painting Credits: Leah Piken Kolidas, Key to Winter and Lantern)

A note to readers: I'll be taking a wee break from doing these interviews on a weekly basis. I am trying to figure out what sort of schedule would work best. Perhaps one a month? Let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter.