an infectious feeling. pure joy.

calm, yet exhilarating. full, yet spacious.

the heart bursts into every cell of the body, filling each vein with an unexplainable electricity.


I am sure you have felt glimpses of bliss during beautiful moments of your life.

But I’m realizing more and more that bliss goes beyond just a temporary emotional experience or feeling. It can actually be a state of being.

Since I returned from my meditation retreat two weeks ago, I have been coming in and out of this state of bliss. It’s been like a really good dream, except it’s my waking life. It’s been beautiful, hilarious, serendipitous and challenging.

I am extremely grateful for this joy in my heart and would like to share some of my insights with you. I shall begin with a little story from my past....


AUTUMN 2016: I was really struggling at this point in my life, feeling unfulfilled, not knowing what to do with my career. I was living in St. Louis, where I was born and raised, working as a full-time musician. Everything was comfortable and easy: I had tons of gigs, students, my family and friends surrounding me, a home. On the surface, it was a perfect life. You’d think I would be happy.

But something inside of me kept crying out for change. I felt pulled to move to a bigger city to pursue my music, but I was terrified of leaving my hometown. I was scoping out Los Angeles as a potential place to live and had a few friends in the music industry there. All of those friends were encouraging me to take the leap. In an effort to convince me, my amazing pianist buddy, John Gilmore, hooked me up with a weekend of gigs in the city so I could see how I liked the vibe. It was like a trial run.

I remember being so anxious as I sat on that plane coming into LA. I prayed that God would give me sign. Help me to know what to do. Show me the way!

Well,

He did.

It was like sign after sign that weekend. Audience members at my performances were all astonished that I didn’t already live in LA and pumped me up with lots of support to move. I made new friends and lots of wonderful connections with industry folks. I felt loved. I laughed a lot and sang my heart out. I was on fire, inspired, excited.

On my flight back home to St. Louis, things started getting mixed up again in my head. How am I going to tell my family I want to move? What will I do for work? How will I afford the cost of living? It was like a whirlwind of worry possessed me. So I reached down and opened the book I was reading at the time, “In the World but Not of It” by Gina Lake. My eyes filled up with tears as I read what was on the next page:

“The important thing is to be true to your own Heart, to what you feel moved to do or not do, and to what brings you joy. Let joy be your guide in all things. If you feel a surge of joy arise in your Heart at the prospect of doing something or being with someone, then follow that joy. If not, where might joy lie? What do you really want? One of the greatest benefits of practicing silence is that it is in Silence that answers to these important questions arise, although not in words. It turns out, the mind never did have those answers.”

-excerpt from “In the World but Not of It” by Gina Lake

Wow. Okay, universe. I hear you.

After that, I could not turn back. I knew that I had to move, even though it was painful and scary. Why let fear control my decision making? It was not bringing me happiness. Let JOY be the guide.

And what a journey it has been since then! This message continues to echo within me. It has reoriented my life. In my deepest meditations when I ask for clarity, I hear ‘Follow your joy.’ When we listen to our hearts in stillness, the direction is clear.

Bliss happens naturally when we are in alignment with our deepest soul’s calling.

We all have a divine purpose on this planet and I believe joy is the way the soul communicates to our human mind that we are on the right path. We each have a unique gift that is waiting to be expressed and shared with the world. We feel bliss when we open ourselves to that full expression of soul.

Did God create us to suffer, live in fear, and be angry about our circumstance? I think God created us to enJOY life.

To fall down, get up, learn, love, grow.

And to enjoy every step of that process.

So I ask YOU: what brings you joy? Are you filling your life with things that light you up? Are you surrounding yourself with people that bring out your smile? What holds you back from living the life you dreamed?

As you ponder, enjoy this beautiful instrumental piece called “Her Joy Was Complete” by one of my favorite artists, Sleeping At Last. I just found this video of the song on YouTube with a LOVELY dancer lighting up the stage with her joy:



the truth shall set you free

So you might be thinking, “This is all great and what not, but she’s got it easy. My life is hard. She doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer. I have bills to pay, children to take care of, and a nightmare of a boss. I can’t just make all this go away and be a blissed out hippie all the time. If only she knew…”


For many of us, seeing the word ‘bliss’ conjures up the age-old saying: “ignorance is bliss.”

I’ve been contemplating this saying a lot… Ignorance is bliss. Being naive to the reality of the world brings happiness. Hm, what does this say about our culture?

Is this telling me that if I knew all the unpleasant details, I would be unhappy? Since I don’t know, I can be blissful?

Being oblivious brings me joy?

It seems a little backwards to me. What about “rejoicing in the Truth” and “the Truth sets you free” like the Bible says?

Is society saying that being left in the dark on things is easier than knowing the actual truth?

It’s almost like these words tell us that being informed is what makes us suffer. Why would society spin bliss in this way?

Can I be knowledgable and still be blissful?


To explore this further, let’s take a hypothetical example…

I am enjoying a delicious fast food burger when someone from an animal rights activist group comes up to me and shows me videos of cows being mistreated and slaughtered in CAFOs. Well now I can’t enjoy my burger because I feel upset and sick to my stomach. Hence, Ignorance is bliss.. right?

But what if instead, I see the video and it inspires me to start buying local grass-fed beef? My new choice helps the environment and local economy, makes the farmers in my community happy, and nourishes my body. The knowledge helped bring me true bliss AND spread that bliss to others.


So it is not the truth that makes us unhappy, but what we choose to do with the truth.

We can accept the fact that there are things happening in our world that are not serving humanity well and then choose to do something to make it better. We can know about these realities and use them to propel us to make more empowered decisions.

Or we can be resistant to the Truth, worry about it, feel helpless, and spiral downwards.

We also don’t need to know everything to experience happiness.

We get to choose. Do we want to take in the moment as it is and embrace it? Do we gracefully accept the facts? Or do we wish things were different and constantly feel unsatisfied?

If you are feeling unsatisfied, take a look at the decisions you are making. Every choice is creating your future. The second you decide to start focusing on the things that serve your heart and deepest joy, the universe will respond.

We must also have the grace to accept what is out of our control. As one of my favorite prayers I learned in Catholic grade school states:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

and Wisdom to know the difference.


Start giving yourself the quiet space to truly ask your heart what it is that serves you best. Use your knowledge and wisdom to be empowered in your choices.

Embrace your unique gifts and share your talents.

Follow your joy.


Pure bliss is available to us 24/7. It is waiting for you if you want it.

And that is the Truth.

 

And now for another song/lyrical interpretation that has been my favorite JAAAAMMMMM lately. Get your dance on to this one.

This song for me is about longing for a connection to the Divine. We can forget what true bliss feels like when we go without it for so long. The darkness to me represents our chattering thought-stream and worried mind. The daylight is the clarity that comes in Stillness.

Been without it for so long
Forgot what it feels like
Been in the darkness till you came along
Showed me the daylight, yeah

And now I'm trying so hard
But I can’t shake it, shake it, oo no
Oh now I can't shake the memory
I can't fake it, fake it, fake it, fake it, oh

We can be reminded of our joyful connection to God by the people in our lives, beautiful sunsets, music, etc. But sometimes we place more value on external things fulfilling us than looking within ourselves to find our joy. We have everything within us. True bliss is inside of you at all times. When we choose to surrender to that inner bliss it is like a new beginning. We feel like we found the missing piece, even though it was there all along.

You remind me of something
Something that I used to feel myself
Something that I used to feel
Like a heartbeat racing
Like a new beginning
You remind me of something else
Something that I used to feel
Something like what I've been missing
Ooh, like what I've been missing
Ooh, so long I didn't know the difference oo
Till you came around
To remind me of what I've been missing, missing

I think we have all been in this position before. We can get so stuck in our negativity that it is like we are asleep to the world. We are searching for a reason to our existence. We try so hard to come back to a place of peace but we cannot fake it. You can’t intellectualize or act your way into this clarity. It takes true dedication to the Stillness within to come back to what we feel we are missing. To true bliss.


Been asleep inside this dream
I'm trying to wake up
Waiting for something to come and rescue me
Give me a reason, yes

And now I'm trying so hard
But I can’t shake it, shake it, oh no
Oh now I can't shake the memory
I can't fake it, fake it, fake it, fake it, oh

CHORUS
Ooh, it almost slipped away ooh
Ooh, but on my darkest day


Thank you for being here, my lovely reader. Now go out and enJOY life! ;)


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