Sunday Shot of Bliss IV.
When I was the little girl, I used to look up to stars and wish myself away from the violence and the chaos of my life. It helped to look up and away from all of the gravel and asphalt. Away from the angry people. Away from that man who used to pull a gun on me on my way to school and then pull the trigger. “Click”.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm. 8:3-4)
I always knew I would have a better life, even at such a young age. The stars were not my God, but a representation of the hope I would have in my God knowing someday that better life would be attained.
There was a time when my hopes seemed so high. To live in a decent neighborhood, to have a nice home and a car that runs without having to push start it every day.
After all this came to pass, I realized just how not so high these hopes were. Again, I wanted better. I wanted to be better. To be a friend among friends, a worker among workers. To be a better parent to my children. To have something to offer others. To be of service to all of God’s creation.
My hopes and ideals are not too lofty, but they are bigger than myself. I cannot achieve them on my own. That is where a good support group, fellowship or whatever you want to call it comes in. The good news is that there are people who have lived this before and are more than happy to share with each other how they did it!
I have heard this song several times this week. I used to think it was a corny love song. Now as I hear the chorus “Waiting”. I realized this star could represent anything we are waiting on. A life partner, a job/career move, a home, retirement (gulp), the birth of a child, and for some of us just a better way of life (whatever that means).
Keep in mind that waiting, does not mean being slothful until said “star” arrives. We must work for it. If it just happened, how much would we appreciate it? Just like labor pains; though they are difficult to experience, how easily are they forgotten when that newborn baby is placed in our arms?
I understand labor and working while waiting. Sometimes, it seemed that a bad situation was never going to end. Or more concerning, potentially get worse…and sometimes it did.
It is said that a shooting star represents a fleeting moment. “This too shall pass”. Thank you God for that one. If I didn’t have this cliché in the back of my head (and also tattooed on my shoulder), I would have lost my mind several years ago.
Are you waiting on a star to fall? Are you willing to work while you are waiting, to overcome the obstacles? Can you accept each circumstance along the way knowing “This too shall pass”? Will you share your experience and empower others along the way?
Stay Blissful My Friends – E
The Little Girl, Her Obstacles and Her Hustle
Anonymous, a good word to describe the little girl who existed within the insanity in which she grew up. Surrounded by two older brothers, an older sister and the many other “cousins”, who belonged to whatever friends her parents allowed to move into their home.
Lost in a crowd of many children, most of whom did not like the little girl. The ugly duckling that was she, overlooked; nothing special.
Except for her father, who referred to her as “The light of my life”. The only problem; her dad was a heroin user and dealer. When he would get arrested and sent to prison, life would return to utter chaos.
More people moving in with their kids and boyfriends and their drugs. People sleeping on sofas and the floor.
Not much was expected of this little girl. She would probably grow up to be a drug addict on welfare, with many children. All of it would eventually become true, though…something happened inside of her at the young age of 6. She decided she knew more than her teachers and her mother. She would educate herself. The little girl aspired for more.
She did not know how to get more, but she learned…sometimes the hard way. She understood her hustle. Working long hours, turning in recycled glass for money. Sometimes collecting food from churches.
Proverbs 31 says: “17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” In other words, the Proverbs 31 Woman had her own “Hustle”.
The bible spoke of this little girl many years before she was born. Before the little girl became a woman. Her God had already predestined her steps. Though she made many mistakes a long the way, she got better and stronger.
Ganesha is the Hindu god known as the Remover of Obstacles and the God of Success and Prosperity. He is also known as the destroyer of evils and the god of education, knowledge, wisdom, wealth and domestic harmony. In India, no new undertaking, whether it is a new business, a marriage, a new job, taking an exam, or any other endeavor, is started without first making an offering or prayer to Lord Ganesha and asking for His blessing. – 2005, Reverend Jeff Bekasinski
The little girl became the woman that she wanted to be; Someone she liked, someone she loved. No drug or drink could give her a better high and she would not trade this for any euphoric drug in the world. Cocaine having been her biggest obstacle, she was now, clean and sober.
This is a true story. Anyone can own this story. For we all have obstacles in life and we all can overcome them. Some obstacles are less dramatic yet just as real. What obstacles do you want to conquer today? Are you prepared to own your hustle?
Stay Blissful My Friends – E
Sunday Shot of Bliss III.
Miracles do happen indeed. It is our choice whether to open our eyes to see them or not. My life is a series of miracles. But this is not about me. I want to share the miracle that is my oldest brother, Ed.
Ed is quite the family cause celebre at our annual reunion. Young cousins (usually boys) will walk by him with wide open eyes. Occasionally, one of those young men will muster up the courage to approach Ed and ask him “Is it true you’ve been shot in the head twice?” My brother will smile and say “Yes”, then proceed to show his first scar and explain where he was when that one happened. Then he will point out where he was shot the second time and how that one was more serious.
My brother Ed is the oldest of 5 of us from our mother. Though Ed has always been a serious guy, he often shared his love of comic books and Star Trek with the rest of us. When he was old enough to drive, he was given the family Monte Carlo. Then promptly instructed to take us kids to the movies. That was okay with him because Superman had just been released. My brother was a no-nonsense kind of guy so he did not put up with us yelling “shot-gun!”. Nope, we all had to sit in the back seat. We devised a plan that if any of our friends saw us we would just tell them that Ed was our chauffeur. They most likely wouldn’t have believed us since we lived in Pacoima, California at the time.
At a young age, Ed decided he wanted to become a police officer and entered the LAPD Explorer Program. Of course he graduated. That’s just the type of guy he is. Around this time, he witnessed some behavior on the force that was less than ideal. Not deterred, he decided he would become a better cop than what he had seen. My brother was not short on idealism, a trait I admired in him. I still do.
Here is a tidbit that I don’t think all of our outside family even knows about: In 1981, Ed’s first miracle was surviving a motorcycle accident. He and my step-father were broadsided by a truck on their way to work one morning. It was serious. I remember walking 2 miles to Holy Cross hospital to see him and crying with gratitude for his life on my way home.
Because of the damage done to Ed’s leg, it would take years for him to even be considered a candidate for law enforcement. So he took jobs as a chauffeur (had we prophesied this?), a security guard and as a night shift clerk for a gas station. Ed was fearless.
When he was a security guard in Compton, Ca during the 1992 LA riots, he made friends with many of the local police officers. Many would become life-long friends with Ed. My brother assisted them during the riots and also other events. It was at this time that he was shot for the first time.
Ed was working as a security guard at a mall in Compton when he kicked out some gang members who told him they were going to come back and shoot him. Fearless Ed replied “Then you better shoot to kill”! They did. They failed. The bullet struck him just under his cheekbone and went out the back of his head. He was in and out of the hospital within hours.
A few years later, Ed moved to Atlanta, GA. His leg was coming along nicely and he was cleaning up his credit. Many of his friends from the LAPD had sent in letters of recommendation to a law enforcement agency just outside of Atlanta. It looked like his dream was finally happening.
Ed was working the overnight shift at a BP Oil station. He had been robbed once by a guy with a fake gun. Ed pulled out his REAL gun and apprehended the robber. He was told that this guy was a suspect in a series of gas station robberies and given a commendation by the local police department
In July 1994, after dropping my sons off at school I got a phone call. Ed had been robbed again – and again shot in the head. This time the bullet was lodged in his brain and my brother was in a coma. I knew I had to get to Georgia and be there for my brother and of course, for my mom. We did not have any expendable finances but borrowing them and arranging care for my kids was…well miraculously a piece of cake. I was on a plane that evening.
The doctor’s said that it was fortunate that the bullet was from a .22 and Ed’s chances of living were good. How much damage to his brain function was the question.
The thought of my brother’s life having been in the hands of someone who had no value for human life made me indescribably angry. Yet, I had to keep it together. I was there to support my mother. I picked up Ed’s telephone book and began to call his many friends. They were obviously concerned and sad. I remember telling each of them “If I know my brother, he is thinking this very moment that there is no way some dirt-bag with a .22 was going to take his life”. Every one of them laughed and said that is exactly what he would be thinking!
Of course, Ed survived. He is one hard-headed individual and much prayer was spoken on his behalf. There are so many miracles that began the moment that thug entered my brother’s store:
It is a miracle for the robber and Ed, that my brother did not have time to get to his .45, else the guy might be dead and Ed would have had to be the one who had pulled that trigger. It is a miracle that the guy used a .22 and not a larger gun or my brother would be six feet under. It is a miracle that my brother still believes in the right to bear arms and he does so today. It is a miracle that he walks, drives and independently takes care of himself.
Ed loves to pretend that he doesn’t understand something to confuse us. Yeah, he has brain damage, but after hanging with Ed, he might have you wondering if you are the one who had a head injury!
Though Ed’s chances of ever becoming a cop are over, he has a wonderful life. Every time a Marvel Comic is adapted into a movie,I won’t go to see it until I visit him in California. Because those are the movies we watch together.
I am forever grateful to God for the miracle that is my brother. Ah, and gratitude is a good road map to Blissful Living! Stay Blissful My Friends – E
Faith groups hold prayer rally at Phoenix mosque.
Some believe “Interfaith” is an impossible concept. Because of course religions are the perfect excuse for war and hate right? Well if you are a person of faith who hates, I have news for you: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!
Apparently it is more exciting to see the suicide bombings and vandalism that arise from religious differences. This of course, sells more advertising.
There are far more instances of people helping people of other faiths than you will see in the media. The Bible has a nice story about a good Samaritan. It’s a short parable but worth reading. I believe that most faith-based organizations promote love. Extremism was never in the original mission statement. However, we as humans are prone to err. Sometimes rather large errs.
09/13/2011 Bystanders lift car to save biker
Ha! You thought this was going to be about some violent religious unsettling didn’t you?!!
I remember watching this video in amazement back in 2011. The definition for bystander is:
by•stand•er(ˈbaɪˌstæn dər) n. a person present but not involved; onlooker.
Well I guess these were not your normal, everyday bystanders…But what I was observing were the various ethnic backgrounds, races, classes and yes religions behind these “bystanders”. I don’t think one person there said, “Wait, who does this biker worship? Who do you worship?”. No, all this dogma was left by the wayside for the greater good of saving a human brother’s life. Wow! I hope I would have it in me. Don’t you?
This form of assistance is not new. Again approximately what year was The Good Samaritan story first shared?
A white supremacist group started harassing the Jewish population right before the winter holidays. The surrounding churches started posting pictures of menorahs as a show of support. This began the “Not in our Town” movement. The town was so successful at implementing this that the racial threats and violence were silenced.
About that time my former husband and I were raising three children in an apartment just outside of Northridge, California. I had met the Muslim neighbors who lived on the first floor. We did laundry together and just chatted about anything that came up. My former husband was leery of these people…they were Muslim you know. I had not yet started my journey of ignorant thinking so I continued to be friendly with them.
I remember they once invited us to an interfaith gathering in Pacoima, California. My ex-husband expressed that under no uncertain terms were we to participate. I didn’t argue. Mostly because I was just so tired from raising three little ones and working a full-time job. Plus I had about two weeks of laundry to do…
In the middle of a strange dream, it felt like God had picked up the Earth and then just dropped it. BAM!! I immediately jumped out of bed, trying to call out for my daughter in a louder voice than the thunderous sound of the world shaking around me…in complete darkness. Only clothed in a nightgown, I had to quickly find something to wear so we could get the heck out of our apartment.
Carefully, we made it out. Broken glass all over the floor, the refrigerator popped out of its nook and slid to the edge of the entry door. We converged to the front lawn of the building with the other residents, watching as explosions lit up the otherwise black sky and trying to remain calm as the aftershocks rocked the very foundation under us. I had experienced earthquakes before and they had never frightened me like the 1994 Northridge Quake.
I was worried about my boys, who were spending the night in Mar Vista with my mom and we were unable to get an outside line from our apartment before we got out. I had no idea if they got hit as badly as we did. Our Muslim neighbor, quietly said to me, “We have access to an outside line, follow us”. With gratitude, we followed them to their apartment and I was able to contact my mother and form a plan to meet up at her home.
I never saw my Muslim neighbors again. Just about everyone in the apartment building moved out within a day or two after 1/17/94. Nevertheless, they will always be Interfaith Heroes to me and I send light and love to them on occasion, never forgetting their good hearts.
Developing a friendly rapport with a neighbor, without considering our differences in faith is, well a neighborly thing to do. Because we all are companions in this great community we call Earth. You never know if your fellow citizens might be the one who could help you with some kind of traumatic situation or if you will be the one who will stand in the gap for someone other than yourself – regardless of our beliefs.
Anyone can be an Interfaith Hero! Yet it doesn’t take an act of heroism to be a good person among persons. I do believe however, that being a good neighbor is a great start to having a blissful life!
Stay Blissful My Friends – E
Made a Decision…
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”
Ah, the anguish of indecision. There are worse challenges, yet there is nothing like having to make a decision.
I once heard a speaker share, “If you cannot make up your mind whether to get a haircut or not and then you end up staying home due to indecision, well you just made the decision not to get your hair cut.” Sounds simple enough, but listening to this man made me shift in my seat uncomfortably as I imagined trying to make that very decision. I still feel a little twitch as I am typing this.
I am well-known for my indecisiveness and if my husband wants any peace of mind, he knows it is best NOT to ask me where we should go to dinner. I once stayed up for hours trying to decide where the Christmas tree was going to go now that we had a new sofa. This was in the month of June…
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. – Alcoholics Anonymous
Of course, I have also had to make tremendously difficult, life changing decisions. Like putting down the drug and drink which helped me eventually make a decision to leave an abusive relationship, let go of a toxic friend, and move on from a long-standing employment status that no longer worked for either party.
The abusive relationship was the most difficult if you can imagine. I changed my mind but thankfully he made it easy to change my mind again and permanently. In the end, it was best for all of us. It was one of the greatest decisions I ever made. From there on out, I was looking for decisions to make: Angora or Cashmere? Highlights or my natural color? Red dress or Blue dress? Heels or Flats?
Okay, I’m over it now and can honestly admit that I am still indecisive over the little things. But indecisiveness does not paralyze me anymore. How does one let go of this type of stagnation?
- Make the decision to turn it over to your God.
- Have a mentor/counselor/clergy – anyone you can trust wholeheartedly to discuss your choices with. Always have a good support group of people whether family or friends or both.
- Trust your gut instinct. I cannot say this enough…TRUST YOUR GUT.
- Don’t over think. Have you ever heard of Analysis-Paralysis? I. Have. Lived. It.
- Always check your motives. This is another form of a gut check.
- Know your values. This is important. Your decisions should always align with your values – again gut check.
- When you make this decision – Stick to it.
“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”
― Elbert Hubbard
After the decision has been made, recognize the courage and strength it took to accomplish this…and I am talking about the little decisions as well as the big ones. Sometimes it takes baby steps and when the baby takes a step, we celebrate. We don’t say “Baby, I will be impressed when you walk a mile”…
For you more decision-challenged people, I recommend keeping a decision journal. Really. It is always good to look back on these victories. Relish them. Remind yourself that you can do this decision-making-thing.
So I ask you to please join me in making a decision to…Have a Blissful Day!
Stay Blissful My Friends – E
If you liked this, check out: Let Go, Keep Going, or Start Over
Sunday Shot of Bliss II.
There is Nothing New & Everything Changes…
One of my favorite scriptures, Ecclesiastes 1:9 says ” What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun”. Trent Rezner confirms this in these brilliant lyrics:
I am just a copy of a copy of a copy
Everything I say has come before
Assembled into something into something into something into something
I don’t know for certain anymore – Nine Inch Nails (Copy of a)
My husband and I had the opportunity to attend a NIN concert last year and it was indeed life changing. I know, they are “just” an alternative music group. NOT! The energy and the lyrics are something anyone can grasp on a spiritual level. Additionally ethereal, this show took place at Red Rocks in “God’s Country”. Red Rocks is a majestic outdoor temple in Jefferson County, Colorado.
When I was in my 20’s, I was more ambitious than I am today. Hard to imagine. Yet when I failed at something, or worse lost an argument it was as if the world stopped spinning. Things like this could put me into a 6-month depression. An emotional state of Vertigo. Fortunately for me and my loved ones I did a little growing up in my 30’s.
Rich Mullins spoke of failure in a television interview, “Once we stop worrying about failing, we are now free to succeed.” Other good people shared these wonderful clichés: Easy Does It, First Things First, Progress Not Perfection, and This Too Shall Pass.
This Too Shall Pass is one of my favorite mantras. People of knowledge and experience know that good times and bad times come and go. Nothing is permanent. This concept has never and will never change. Yet the Buddha taught the lesson of Anicca (Everything Changes). “Anicca is a Pali word for ‘impermanent.’ The Buddha taught that everything conditioned is impermanent. To be conditioned is to be dependent on or affected by something else, and Buddhism teaches that all phenomena, including beings, are conditioned.” – Barbara O’Brien (About Buddhism)
So while everything changes, there is still nothing new under the sun. This paradox might be confusing. But it is best explained as: Change is permanent and it is continual – it has always been and will always be. Knowing this we are able to accept that our circumstances have already been subjected to by others before us, will be experienced by someone else someday…AND they will also pass! (Anicca)
Have you ever wondered why we can look at a picture, or read a book for the second time and have a completely different interpretation? I remember in the 90’s, Edward James Olmos directed and starred in a movie called “American Me“. Where I was at with my traumatic childhood memories, hindered my ability to appreciatee this movie. I hated it and I hated EJO. Some 20 years later, I watched the movie again. Wow! What an excellent representation of a part of my culture. I didn’t have to like my past or where I came from but I was now ready to respect it. (Anicca)
I am armed with the realization that I was not the only one who had faced these types of traumas. I am not alone. And even better, I might be useful to someone else who might undergo the same. I believe we are all universally connected. We are designed to be there with and for each other, to encourage, build up and empower one another!
And if you are still not convinced that there is nothing new under the sun, take a gander at the “historically based”picture below:
Stay Blissful My Friends – E
Meditation – Sound Off
Ahhh meditation, one of my favorite topics. So many different styles, traditions and preferences:
- Silent Meditation
- Guided Meditation
- Walking Meditation
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Gong Meditation
- Singing Bowl Meditation
- Zen Meditation
- Yogic Meditation
- Vipassana Meditation
- Taoist Meditation
- Transcendental Meditation
- Moving Meditation
I could go on and on, at the risk of sounding like Bubba from Forest Gump.
Recently, I sat with a group of people whom I never met before yet we all knew each other well. We discussed our various daily meditation rituals and got on the subject of sounds we might listen to while meditating. Singing bowls, flutes, gongs, echoes of nature.
My input was a bit different, though I enjoy meditating with all of the above sounds. What I wanted to share was an experience I had within the first few days of my sobriety. I had suppressed my senses for so long that after a few days of being clean and sober I noticed sound in a manner of which I may have never known.
We lived on a busy street in Northridge, California at the time. The large trucks would loudly vibrate the road, the stray dogs barking after these trucks. Birds chirping, helicopters flying and car doors shutting. All of this sound, was just so…beautifully…vivid. The vibrations were somehow calming at an exceptionally un-calm time of life.
So while yes I love to listen to the lovely sounds of Deuter and singing bowls, sometimes I just love to find a busy intersection and soak in the hum of everyday noise.
This reminds me of the concept of Wabi-Sabi, which is essentially finding the beauty in imperfection. I have been practicing this a little lately while looking at a once nice pair of curtains that have now been shredded by our lovely cat Lea. I stare at these curtains and watch their tatters blow in the breeze. It is a nice practice, helping me to save the money I would normally spend replacing anything I consider ruined.
Well, reverberation is the same. Each season, there are new sounds. Some pleasant (birds singing in the spring), some not so pleasant (loud kids yelling at each other). All are necessary in this grand home we call Earth.
Today, take a deep breath…take a few. Then close your eyes and listen to hum of noise around you. Soak it all in and enjoy the moment. In this moment, experience…Bliss!
Stay blissful my friends – E
Who is Today’s Teacher?
Sometimes people tell me I have a nice voice. I reply “No, if you want to hear a singer, you should meet my daughter”.
Some people call me an artist. I reply “No, if you want to see an artist, you should meet my son”.
Some people tell me I can write. I reply “No, if you want to read something that will blow your mind, you should read my oldest son’s work”.
I raised them. I taught them. But who really taught who? I believe I learned more from each one of my children. Possibly more than I could ever offer as a teacher.
At the age of 40, after overcoming many traumas, I got this tattoo representing all that I had learned up to that point. Three of those roses, represented what I learned from each child:
Blue = To attain the impossible & perception
Red = Love, Respect, Courage
Orange = Enthusiasm, Support, Autumn – Son
Gray = Wisdom, Knowledge, Modesty – Oldest Son
Pink=Feminine, Vitality, Emotional Maturity – Daughter
So I ask you who is your teacher today? Is it your boss, who shows you what a true leader is? Is it your mother, who just does what needs to be done? Could it be your dog who shows you how to be content? Is it that noisy neighbor who teaches you how to be quiet?
Someone once told me that everyone is a teacher. Some teach us how we want to be and some how we don’t want to be. My choice is to be open minded enough to learn. No judgement, just observation.
Stay Blissful my friends! – E