Jul 062011
 

If you want a way to lift your own spirits and lend a helping hand at the same time, then here’s a quick and easy way to do that.

I don’t know about you but I’m often humbled and touched by the good hearts I see around me in the blog-o-sphere.

Tess Marshall of The Bold Life and Lance Ekum of Jungle of Life are two such hearts.

They took it upon themselves to put together a substantial e-book for you. It’s a collection of favorite posts hand-picked by over 60 writers, all meant to add a touch of goodness to your life.

And it’s free for the taking, if you’d like.

But the really great thing is that in creating and offering it they make it possible for all of us to easily make a contribution to a good cause, thus letting us express our good hearts in the process.

And what is the cause?

It’s the tornado-devastated city of Joplin, Missouri. 100% of the proceeds go directly to Heart of Missouri United Way to help the people of Joplin.

Some of us were lucky to be able to contribute articles. As for you, when you pick up your copy of the e-book, you can easily contribute dollars if you’d like. (And no donation is too small, any amount is appreciated.)

It’s an excellent way to give and receive at the same time.

So if you’re interested, you can check it out here. Grab a copy of the e-book and/or make a donation. It’s easy!

And if you’d like you can also help out by letting people know about it. You can get the graphic here to put on your site — similar to the one in my sidebar — along with a link to the e-book page. (And kudos to Sue Alexander of Inspired Type, for the attractive graphics and beautiful design.)

Thanks to Tess and Lance for making it so easy to lift our own spirits and help others at the same time.

And thank you, too!

And please spread the word by tweeting this post. It would be much appreciated!

Jun 212011
 

Do you have trouble finishing things? Or maybe that trips you up and you don’t even know it.

For awhile now I’ve struggled with how to be more productive.

I’m “very busy all the time” (inside joke with you-know-who-you-are) but I don’t seem to get much done.

Well, I’ve realized that’s exactly the key idea: Get things done.

I get lots of projects to about 80% and then they languish as I jump to something else.

It’s a real problem!

But I’m onto something. I just know I’m on my way, I can feel it in my bones.

Here are a few things that helped me get my head around it. And if you’re reading this, you’ll know it works, because it means I finished this post. Hooray!

Not Finishing Sucks

When you don’t finish things, you’re not nearly as productive as you deserve to be considering how hard you work. All your efforts go to waste.

Not finishing things is a total time and energy suck, and in other ways too.

Things lay around and languish. They wither. They die. Pretty soon they become downright toxic. This not only sucks, it stinks.

Also, being in the middle of a lot of unfinished things weighs you down. It takes effort to carry them around with you. They’re in your energy field, whether you’re aware of them or not.

Lots of you are intuitives or are interested in improving your abilities. As an intuitive you really want to keep things alive and moving. Clean. Fresh. Clear. Sattwic. This is true internally and externally. Being in the middle of a lot of unfinished things is the opposite of that. It’s heavy and oppressive. Tamasic.

And not ever getting any payoff for your efforts is just downright depressing. Yes, even if you love the process. If you never get that extra little satisfaction of a job well done, you’ll be dragged down and probably discouraged sooner or later. It’s like running and running without ever getting to stop.

Finishing Provides a Wonderful Buzz

Literally, when you finish something, you can feel the freed-up energy buzzing around wondering what to do with itself.

It’s kind of like after a good run. If you just *stop*, you feel the blood gather in your legs because it’s still raring to go. It’s on a roll. It’s got momentum. It’s ready! Available for some more action. And let’s not forget the euphoria of a runner’s high.

Accomplishing something just feels really good in and of itself.

And if what you’ve just finished serves a purpose (which probably it does), you and possibly others get the benefit of whatever that project was intended for besides.

Big wins all around.

Now’s a Good Time to Finish

Today is the Summer Solstice where I live, and that’s what prompted this post.

In my last newsletter I mentioned briefly that today begins what’s known in jyotish as Dakshinayana, where darkness increases as the days begin to shorten, and it’s time to finish what was begun in the brightening part of the year.

It’s the Solar version of the waning part of a monthly Lunar cycle, and it lasts half a year.

Just like a gardener worth their salt wouldn’t plant seeds while the moon is waning, this isn’t the best half of the year to be starting new projects.

(Of course this is only true in the Northern hemisphere. You guys in the south, go get crackin’ on some new stuff and don’t waste your time reading this post… for 6 more months, anyway. ;-))

If you pay attention you’ll notice that this feels natural. Right around New Year’s it’s easy to be enthused about starting new habits, new projects… same with spring. There’s a sense of newness in the air.

But now that summer is here, things are just kind of perking along. It’s not only a good time to be in maintenance mode but even better to work toward completion. Wrap it up.

And especially as we move toward fall, we will see things fall away, die off, get moved to the compost pile for new growth in the spring again.

6 months! This is a good chunk of time. You can finish up something substantial. Several things. Lots of things. Make a big difference. Free up lots of energy.

It’s kind of exciting!

Don’t Forget the Joy

Of course, finishing in and of itself isn’t the whole equation. Sometimes finishing things leaves you exhausted and depleted.

It’s important to notice that the things worth finishing (or maintaining/improving) are those things that bring joy to your heart.

That’s the sign you’re looking for. Those things will typically leave you feeling uplifted and sometimes even energized afterward. Needing some down-time is normal but it will feel healthy and balanced. You’ll feel satisfied and content.

If it doesn’t bring joy but it “needs” to be done, see if you can bring joy to the activity.

If you’ve made a commitment but don’t enjoy the activity, maybe you can find an aspect of it to enjoy, even if it’s the aspect of being honorable about it.

And if you can’t, maybe the way to finish it is to let it go. Redefine finished. Quit. Yes, quit it!

Only do it if it’s fun. If it’s not fun, make it fun. If you can’t make it fun, then don’t do it.
Peter Russell, physicist/philosopher as quoted in Danielle LaPorte’s Spark KIT

So do allow yourself to “finish up” or let go of whatever doesn’t serve your spirit. That alone will be a big weight off and free your energy for where it can be put to its best use.

What to Finish?

(I know, right about now you just want to finish this damn post, already. I hear ya. Me too. But I decided to enjoy slogging on. Really! Are we having fun yet?)

We’ve been talking about projects so far, but this idea goes for all kinds of things.

Start by doing a physical (you and your environment), mental, and emotional inventory. For the sake of brevity (catch the levity?), here are just a few things to look for:

Any kind of unfinished business. This could be relationships that are just kind of hanging in your life and not serving anyone, intentions you have but haven’t acted on, lists you’ve had going for years with a little bit done on each item, etc.

Anything on a list even if you haven’t started it; you’ve still got a piece of yourself invested in it.

Decisions that you need to make but haven’t, maybe because you’re afraid to lose some potential. Just do it. Make a choice. Decide.

The word “decide” comes from the Latin decidere, to cut off. This is what you are doing when you decide, cutting away an option. So it’s true that energetically (and in other ways), you are closing a door. But that’s good. It often takes closing the old one for a new one to open.

Things around the house that you’ve started with the intention of doing some day — but haven’t.

Old stories that you can benefit from letting go of.

Old belief patterns, especially negative and limiting thoughts.

Too many commitments.

Judgements about situations, others and ourselves. Often based on old stuff. Often sub-conscious.

Projections, especially paranoid ones that you let limit you. Often just under the surface.

Resentments. This can be quite the project, but well worth it. Often we’re very aware of these but don’t want to take the time to clean them up.

Negative associations (e.g. friendships or group activities that you down or just don’t work anymore.)

There are some patterns to watch for that one post just can’t do justice. There are books written on each of these. But just for the record, a few other things that are huge time and energy drains are:

Clutter. Any kind of clutter qualifies (I love the book Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. So practically helpful and inspiring. Gets you excited and off your butt.)

But especially clear out anything that feels bad. So, anything that brings up bad memories, even subtly, when you notice it. Or things that make you feel guilty because you’re neglecting them, things you don’t like, etc.

And don’t just put it away in a closet or garage. Get rid of it. Pass it on if you can to someone who will cherish or use it. Energetically, this creates space. The space itself feels great.

But watch out, the space may fill up fast. But please, not with new clutter! Let it be with something that supports your new interests in a positive way.

Being and staying stuck.

Bad habits.

Disorganization.

Allowing and even encouraging distractions.

Plus: Little Changes with Big Payoffs

Expunge the habit of not finishing. Yes, this can be a habit.

Even with little things, like opening the mail and setting it down, setting dirty dishes in the sink, tossing your clothes on the bed, etc. I heard once that it’s good to handle everything only once. This doesn’t always make sense but in this case it’s a helpful thought to keep in mind and practice often.

It’s a little along the lines of finishing one thing before beginning another, but not exactly.

Let go of perfectionism. This can be a biggie.

Haven’t we all been in that exhausting place where things have to be so perfect they’re never good enough to be done?

I know that for me, I have to let go of the idea that my posts have to be thorough and painfully organized. Writing a post often becomes a huge, sprawling, monster of a project (like this one) that I never finish (but will this time). And then I wonder why I have dozens of almost-finished posts laying around.

It’s time to learn to do a decently good job and call it done. It’s either that or nothing. Really!

Something’s got to change.

Slowly but surely, we can let go of some old rules.

So Now What?

I read an excellent post last week on write to done by Ali Luke of Aliventures. It’s called How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers and is about writing but could actually be applied to anything.

Her 5 steps are:

  1. Stop starting new projects
  2. Assess your current projects
  3. Choose one project to focus on
  4. Decide what “finished” will look like
  5. Set some milestones (and start hitting them)

There are a lot of helpful ideas in it, and you really should check it out.

Here are a few things I would add or emphasize, and where I would fit them in:

Before #1) Be motivated to finish.

Do this by knowing and acknowledging that finishing makes all the difference. Doing that last little bit gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s a “duh”, I know, but being conscious of this as something to make sure I do with every activity is critical in making this change.

Between #3 & #4) Consider why you avoid finishing each thing.

Sometimes we kid ourselves. We don’t realize we’re quitting; we think we’re setting something aside for now but then we never get back to it.

But why do you resist finishing it?

Acknowledge there may be (and probably is) some block you have about it, or that it is making you face. Looking at it will help you move through it to a new freedom on the other side.

See if you can NOT ignore, avoid, or try to get rid of your blocks. Instead, greet them, acknowledge them, embrace them, and most importantly: see or listen to what they have to say to you.

Whenever you do this, they’ll lose their substance as they transform into a gift that you then carry forward, walking right through where they used to be with your eyes wide open, and all the better for it.

For example, with my posts, I realize that every time I get a good way through I let my inner critic sabotage me. I can always find something wrong with what I’ve written. If I look at this consciously, I stand to gain much more than if I repeatedly bulldoze my way through them.

This way you grow instead of struggle.

Between #4 & #5) Dangle a carrot.

Keep in front of yourself not only the finished product and the benefits of it to you and others, but also how you’re going to feel when you’re finished.

Of course you’ll get/feel the benefit from whatever you finish, but you’ll also feel great just knowing you completed it. If you’re like me, that’s a big deal too!

And don’t forget, even if you’ve just launched something and you’ve yet to see how well it will do (this babe out in the world), it’s a milestone. Let yourself celebrate your milestones.

Are You With Me?

Just like how —  at the beginning of this year — I jumped on the “one word” bandwagon (and I even still know what my word is, do you know yours?), I am committing right now that for the next 6 months I will keep this word in front of me:

Finish

Do you want to do this with me? We all know that support can help a lot, right?

If you want to join me, say so in the comments.

And if we get a decent number of us, we’ll come up with a Twitter hashtag and keep in touch there. Sound good?

[Thank you for sticking with me through this ridiculously long post. My longest yet, but there was no way I could NOT finish it, you know that, right? 😉 (But just think how good I must feel!)]

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Jun 072011
 

Something about the idea that your life might be snatched from you at any moment makes you consider what it means to you.

A little while back I mentioned I was in the midst of a health scare. Well, I’m thrilled to say I’m fine! Thank-you to those of you who wrote (in the comments and privately) to offer your support. I so much appreciate it!

A Healing Journey

During the past month, while I was in limbo on this subject, I’ve had quite the journey.

And even though I wasn’t ill (as it turns out), I find myself more whole now than I was before.

And I continue to heal, from wounds of all kinds.

I’m eager to tell you about some of what’s transpired and the significant gifts I’ve been given. Because they’re available to you, too, if you decide to accept them.

I’ll do this over a number of posts (and/or maybe an e-booklet, I haven’t decided).

And for now, here’s one of them. Enjoy.

A Moment of Irritation

Last week, my husband made a call to a store to ask about something. The woman transferred his call to a different department. It rang and rang. Eventually she came back on, and he explained that he just had a simple question and wondered if she could help him.

He hears a huge sigh from the other end of the phone. Eventually he got his question answered, but here’s where our story takes off. At the sigh.

It struck me. She’s getting paid to help people. Okay, maybe she has a more defined role within that job description, but when you work with customers, you help people.

Embrace The Moment

What if, instead, she had said/thought “How can I help you?” with a true desire to help and with some amount of enthusiasm? Sincerely shifting her focus to be of help and embracing that new direction as exactly where she was supposed to be in that moment?

I’m not judging her. We’ve all been there, at least I have. Stressed. Behind. Irritated at those things life throws at us that are not on our agendas.

But I’ve got a new appreciation for the saying “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

I know she’d have had a much more pleasant moment (and so would my husband and possibly other callers) had she been able to turn on a dime and embrace the moment as it was. Even if she still needed to delegate him off to someone else, it would have a whole different energy than the chore that it seemed to be.

That’s Nice, But…

Probably we’ve all thought about this idea, and even applied it to some degree.

But if you’re like me, you often slip back into old patterns, and before you know it you’re back at your agenda and getting annoyed at anything that pulls you from it.

The difference is that this time I haven’t done that.

Why? Well…

I think it’s because I’ve gained a new appreciation for life. I’ve been reminded in a big way of how precious it is.

And this kind of thing is exactly what life is.

And I love life.

I’m tired of fighting against it in any way, shape, or form. I really don’t want to do that any more. Lord knows I’ve already done my share of it, plus some.

Life Is a Gift

When I was 29, I got clean and sober. I could so easily have died many times over while I was out there using whatever various and sundry drugs came my way. But I didn’t. I don’t know why. It was grace. A gift. A second chance. A third, fourth, and a fifth (pun intended).

My life today is all extra! Free!

And so is yours, if you think about it.

It’s all icing on the cake.

So, I’m done complaining about the icing on my cake.

I don’t care if it’s too sweet, if it’s chocolate ganache when I want vanilla butter-cream, or vanilla when I want chocolate, or whatever. Okay, maybe I do care, but that’s normal. That’s a preference. Preferences are also a delectable part of life.

I am watching myself bid goodbye to the futile exercise of resisting what is.

Resistance feels yukky and I don’t want to waste my life feeling yukky.

We’re alive, for God’s sake! Alive! And Life happens for us, not to us. I mean, what a precious gift to be walking this earth right now.

Seriously.

Rediscover the Joy

Here’s an exercise that can help this way of being become more automatic.

Watch for moments when you find yourself feeling:

  • irritated
  • annoyed
  • impatient
  • stressed
  • angry
  • resentful
  • fed up

(It works with any emotion but these are the easiest to start with.)

When you notice you’re feeling that way, ask yourself:

  1. What if I just wasn’t here (on earth, alive) at all? Which is the better alternative?
  2. What if all this is “extra” life? A bonus? A free gift? (Dessert, if you will ;-)?)
  3. What if nothing has to be a certain way, and I’m just here to enjoy the experience of it and experience the joy of it?
  4. How would I feel about this situation then?

It doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to feel how you feel. Feeling is a part of your energy body and is a great indicator of what’s going on at other levels of your being.

And it doesn’t mean that you don’t make note of the discomfort and go about changing the situation if it makes sense to do so.

But if you sincerely ask and answer those questions, you’ll find it much more easy to embrace that situation fully and to move forward from there.

You’ll no longer resist or fight it, but instead, you’ll be in the flow of it. In the flow of your own life as it is.

And then comes the magic.

Your emotion will lose its charge. It will bend and shift a little — or maybe even a lot.

Everything becomes just kind of amazing. Everything.

And you’ll be able to embrace your life as though you had chosen it. (Because, of course, you have.)

You’ll truly enjoy it, all the way down to your toes.

And maybe best of all — at least for us cake lovers? You’ll realize that you do, indeed, get to have your cake and eat it too. And you get to love each and every bite.

Your Turn

Please let me know how this works for you. I’m very curious if I’ve managed to home in on and communicate the mindset that has made such a difference for me.

Or maybe you have variations on these questions or altogether different ones that help you more. Please share!

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Jun 012011
 

Remember the saying “Knowledge is power“? Well, that goes doubly for eclipse energy.

Not only are there life areas that are supported (as usual), but also some that you want to keep an eye on for awhile.

Here is some knowledge about today’s eclipse that can help empower you to use it to your advantage.

Solar Eclipse in Rohini

Today, June 1, at 5:16 PM EDT, we have the first of 3 eclipses that all occur within one month of each other.

It’s a partial solar eclipse that takes place in Rohini Nakshatra, at 17°6′ of sidereal Taurus. (Wondering what a Nakshatra is? Take a look at this post and find out which one relates to you.)

Effects on Security & Growth

Taurus is an earth sign, and it represents our foundation and our security, including financial.

Rohini is marked by the bright red star Aldebaran that is the eye of the bull. Its shakti or power is that of growth.

Eclipses show where energy is being blocked, so an eclipse in this Nakshatra can show a stunting of or uncertainty about growth of all kinds, including areas related to our security.

You will likely see this play out on the world stage for the next 6 months (especially in areas where the eclipse is visible), perhaps with a continuation of the already slow economic growth. But because growth and earth are so interconnected here as well, I would expect to see some issues with crops too.

In your personal life, this will not have too much of an effect unless you’ve got your Ascendant (rising degree) or a planet at or very near the eclipse degree. If you do, indications are similar in that you will likely see a stunting of growth in the area(s) indicated by what that planet and house mean in your chart.

But in general, this can be a good time to evaluate what is thriving and what is languishing in your life. Are you putting your attention on what you want to grow? Now is a good time to turn away from or actively sever from your life those things that are not fruitful but are sapping your time or energy.

Effects on Diet & Romance

This applies to all areas, but in particular, look at the areas of diet and romance.

The grahas (planets) that cause eclipses are related to poison, dishonesty, and the like. So watch that these things don’t worm their way into your diet and romantic relationships in the next few weeks.

Rohini is related to growth (and agriculture/food), so evaluate if what you eat is actually wholesome for you and also if its production supports Mother Earth (and forms of life) or causes harm or imbalance. Let’s all take a little better care of Her and us right now.

Rohini is also an erotic maiden who invokes much jealousy from others.

Take a look at your romantic relationships and if there is anything unhealthy going on, this could be a good time to bring it to a close. This would include things like jealousies and over-indulgences, or relationships that are built on anything unethical, even if slight.

You will actually be supported in letting go of these things over the next 2 weeks especially and the next few months more generally.

Upcoming Lunar Eclipse

On June 15, we have the 2nd eclipse of this 3 eclipse series. Stay tuned for a post on that closer to that date.

In the meantime, see my previous post about working with eclipse energy as it applies to all eclipses. I continue to update that post as things occur to me.

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May 232011
 

Dying’s not a sin; not living is.

Jack Lemmon’s character Jake in the movie Dad

I’m in the midst of a bit of a health scare, and have been finding myself examining just what this thing called life actually is, and what it means to me. Of course, I’ve done this before, but situations like this (and on the tails of just having lost my sweet Jasmine) bring a sudden raw clarity about how precious and fleeting our lives are that just isn’t always there otherwise.

On Roses and Poo

We’ve all heard the expression “Stop and smell the roses”. This is great advice. Some of us have gotten really good at it, too.

The problem comes when we get a whiff of poo. I have yet to hear the expression “Stop and smell the poo.” And just for the record, I’m not exactly suggesting that.

But what I am suggesting is that you do stop and appreciate that you can smell the poo. (And the roses too, I suppose. ;-))

Now, Law of Attraction people (of which I am one, to a degree) would say that the poo provides contrast so you can become more aware that you want roses. That you don’t have to settle for poo but instead can attract roses. This may be.

Life and Its Content

But even at best, the Law of Attraction still only addresses the content of your life. As fun as it may be to learn how to attract roses instead of poo, you’re still just playing in a world of manifestation. Of content.

And by content, I mean everything that appears to be other than your unchanging true nature, your essence. That includes your thoughts, emotions, psychological makeup, energy body, physical body, etc. Even these that seem so close are content.

And life itself is bigger than just content. Much bigger.

The real thrill is learning how to relate to that content so that you can appreciate the richness of it all. All of it. Even the poo.

To be really alive, no matter what.

A poo-free life of roses sounds nice. But even if possible, would it be? Really? Would life be anywhere near as interesting with no challenges, no “negatives”, no poo?

Embrace It All

By far, the best practice I’ve run across (and I’ve run across plenty) in this regard was discovered by John Sherman of River Ganga.

The simple practice he teaches pulled me out of the quicksand of what was becoming an alarming depression after a few huge blows that left me gasping for air.

The need to keep a distance from your own life, the need to maintain a wary watchfulness over what’s coming and going in your own life … that need vanishes. It just goes away.

And life is revealed to be what it’s always been, which is an endlessly challenging, rewarding adventure that is deeply interesting in its own right; that is unpredictable, wondrous; that consists of problems and solutions, desires and aversions that come and go, that have no effect other than to capture our interest.

John Sherman, A Worldwide Meeting – March 12, 2011

And as I continue to do “the looking” as he calls it, my relationship with this fascinating thing called life continues to improve.

John’s simple approach is radical and powerful, and he is a generous and humble man. I can’t recommend him enough.

And if you go to his site, I’d love to hear what you think.

The Privilege of Life

On a related note, my sweet, 79-years-young friend Christopher Foster of The Happy Seeker is launching his course today titled “How to Look (and Feel) 10 Years Younger in 4 Weeks”. Christopher has a beautiful spirit and much experience and wisdom about how to fully embrace life.

But aging isn’t an enemy. And it doesn’t need to be a drag. It’s a privilege, rightly.

Christopher Foster (from his new course)

I was lucky to be able to review his course materials and can tell you that if you actually do this course you will come away with useful insights and new habits that can make a marked improvement in how you experience life — no matter what your age.

I just know you’ll love his simple yet profound wisdom, and this world will be a better place because of his sharing of it.

And while you’re at it, check out his interview today on our mutual friend Tess’s inspiring blog The Bold Life.

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Apr 232011
 

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that flow,
I am the sunlight on my own grave,

I am a gentle autumn rain,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there I did not die.

Lizzie West:  “Prayer”

I’ve found some comfort in listening to this evocative and hauntingly beautiful song these past few days.

3 days ago, my husband and I made the decision to help Jasmine, our sweet 13-year old boxer, take leave of her pain-wracked body. When she was young she could run like the wind, and we hope that’s what she’s doing again. She so loved it!

Lately we’d been working with the vet trying different pain meds for what we thought was an intensification of her life-long arthritis, but nothing seemed to help.

We found out Tuesday that she had bone cancer and that the already constant pain would only continue to get worse.

We made an appointment for the next day and brought her home for one last night so we could all have a little love-fest and say our goodbyes.

Of course we were and are heartbroken, but there was no question it was time. It’s so hard to take the life of anyone or anything, especially a beloved family member (which she definitely was). But in this case I actually felt some relief being able to help provide her with a release from her suffering. I am so grateful for the ability to do that, and for the loving manner in which our vet and her assistants handled everything.

The Initial Death Experience

When I was in my 20’s, I had a near-death experience. I was right on the brink of departing permanently, yet obviously, still had enough connection to my body to be able to choose to stay. (And it was a choice.)

But the point I want to make here is that it was such a liberating experience! Words cannot describe how expansive and freeing it was to move out of my body and let go, and I was not even in a painful body.

I knew for that brief moment that everything was perfectly fine. And not just there in the spirit world, but even here in the physical realm. Everything. Perfect. Fine. There was no stress, no tension, no anything but bright freedom and goodness.

My life had been so terribly heavy by contrast.

Still, I did decide to “come back”, in fact it was a little difficult to actually do it and I thank my lucky stars I was able to (it was a close call).

I didn’t get so far away as some who actually see other beings and go to “the light”. But it was enough to give me a taste of the experience of dying.

Remembering that was so helpful to me as we watched Jasmine go. I just knew that she was flying free at long last, just as I had done that day. That she was free of her crippling pain. Free of what she obviously held as her serious responsibility of taking care of us even while debilitated. Free and at ease. Liberated. Happy? I hope so.

Luminarias (a New Mexico tradition) on Jasmine's grave

A Goodbye, and a Hello

And so I know that even as we say goodbye to this awesome, sensual life experience here on this beautiful planet with all our fellow creatures, we are — at the same time — entering into another level of what can only be thought of as life as well.

Over the days we prepared for our goodbyes, I was struck by how many times I noticed signs of new life. New buds on the newly transplanted tree. Bright, lime-green leaves popping out on all the large trees along the road. Little flowers blooming even in the sand of this high desert.

I also notice that little birds keep appearing in the oddest of places, and every so often I hear new birdsongs that I haven’t heard in almost a year.

And today the hummingbirds have arrived for the season. How perfect is that?

New Birth, Resurrection, Renewal

And so on that note I wish you a Happy Easter. I hope you get to experience the vibrant sense of renewal that this holiday — this holy day — brings.

And just like the little hatchling of the symbolic Easter egg, may you feel the wonder and vigor of being born anew.

Even if, like us, you’re experiencing some sorrow or loss, may you also experience the sense of newness that that very same transition often brings with it if you but pay attention. For they are two sides of the same coin, after all.

And isn’t it just all a part of the richness of this thing called life? Precious, every bit of it.

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Apr 112011
 

Our canyon in the Jemez Mountains

Sometimes we feel the pain or joy of another as if it were our own.

And sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with these intense feelings.

If you are one of these sensitive people, you are not alone.

What’s more, you can turn what could be a handicap into a valuable gift.

Feeling Another’s Pain

A few years ago I was driving up our gorgeous canyon for my daily walk with our dogs and was shocked to see what the electric company had done to the trees that grow along the road.

They had attacked the trees with a chainsaw. Hundreds of them.

Tortured is the perfect word to describe what they had done to them, and what the trees must be feeling.

I immediately felt such compassion, grief, and sadness that it felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I literally felt sick to my stomach.

I felt it for the trees. Not for myself, that I could no longer enjoy the beauty of them, although, of course, that was a loss too. But I felt for the trees themselves.

I felt this way for quite some time. I did what I could in a practical sense to prevent it ever happening again, but in the end my efforts have been futile. I’m sorry to say it’s become an annual ritual.

Empathy

All of us are sensitive to our surroundings. Some of us are more sensitive than others, and some of us notice it more than others. But we all are affected by everything around us.

This is known as empathy.

The typical way this word is used is in relation to our feeling compassion for another person. We identify with them and then feel what they might feel

But we can feel empathy for everything and anything. For sentient beings especially (and here I include the plant kingdom), but also for those things we don’t consider as having feeling at all.

And it happens in a physical or vibrational way without our even thinking of that person or thing.

Are You an Empath?

If you aren’t aware of this influence on you, you can find yourself feeling all kinds of emotions and moods that just don’t make sense given your current life situation.

If this happens a lot it’s the first sign that you are what’s known as an “empath”. This means you are more naturally sensitive than most people to energies around you.

And you absorb them and take them on as if they were your own without even noticing you’re doing that.

So Now What?

There are lots of ways to work with your empathic abilities.

One way is to learn to avoid taking on others’ stuff without knowing you are doing that.

Another way is to learn to use those very same abilities to greatly enhance your life and the lives of others.

This includes sharing your experiences with other empaths as well as reaching out to those beings or things you feel empathy for. (Sending loving energy to Gaia or Mother Earth is a good example of this. Or send some love to the trees of the Jemez. They can use it.)

This is how you turn what might otherwise be a handicap into one of your most useful skills.

I’ll continue to write about this topic from time to time, and in more detail. In the meantime, there is a lot of free information on the web about working with these abilities. Here’s one site that’s fairly comprehensive and a good place to start.

A Series of Empath Interviews

Another great place for helpful information is a new empath interview series.

Over at her lively and informative blog Conduit of Joy!, Kara has just kicked off an interview series “Empaths R Us”. (Is that like cute or what? It’s reflective of her fun-loving energy.)

Her first interview is with yours truly 🙂, and you can find it here. She asks really thought-provoking questions and it was an interesting process to consider them.

If you’re wondering if you’re an empath, or if you know you are and want some ideas for working with it, I think you’ll find my interview helpful.

Better yet, subscribe to or bookmark Conduit of Joy! so you can benefit from the whole series!

And maybe I will “see you there”.

Have you ever found yourself “crying for the trees?” Do you consider yourself an empath? Any comments or questions about what I discuss in my interview? I’d love to hear!

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Feb 142011
 

This seems like an auspicious day to let our hearts loose. Don’t you think?

And who knows what that will look like … feel like …

(Probably pretty good!)

It’s time to play!

Check in with your heart and you’ll know I’m right.

At least that’s what my heart is saying to me.

Enough! of the control.

Enough! of the planning.

Enough! trying to do it “right”.

If I listen, my heart says to lighten up.

If I listen, I have a new direction. Inward. And outward.

Toward expression, expansion, and experimentation.

Based on my heart song.

Toward freedom … no, not toward it but reveling in the freedom that is already at hand.

Toward lila, Divine play. Creating freely, for the joy of it.

If not now, when?

I’m listening today. Are you?

Stop a moment.

Right now. Close your eyes. Listen to your heart. (Smile. That helps you hear it. :-D)

What is your heart saying? How can you let it sing today?

Will you?

Happy Valentine’s Day! I wish you a happy heart and joyous creating.

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Jan 312011
 

Float! That’s right. Just float.

Today is one of those days. I went to bed excited about the new week beginning. I tossed and turned thinking (okay, worrying) about what I would post today, trying to decide among several ideas. They tumbled around in my head all night.

But this morning, by the time I was sitting here ready to write, I couldn’t bring myself to write about any of those things. It was the last thing I wanted to do. Not because I didn’t want to write, per se, but because I felt too gloomy to want to do anything, much less write a (God-forbid) cheery or (God-help-me) helpful post.

Why? I have no idea. But we all feel like this from time to time, don’t we?

Just like in the old Larry Sanders Show when Larry’s all bummed out about being rebuffed by a woman, we sometimes want to just put on our dark glasses, lie on the couch, and say “Don’t wanna” to everything.

But we can’t always do that. Sometimes we just have too much to do. Or so we’ve decided. And so we press forward.

We try to be little troopers, but only succeed in making false starts. In the end we decide we were just wasting time, which makes us feel even worse.

I have to admit, it’s not that I even mind feeling how I’m feeling. It’s more that it’s hard to get done what I think I have to do when I’m feeling this way. So I naturally assume if I can somehow get myself to feel better, I can then breeze through my tasks.

And anyway, I tell myself, it feels good to feel good. Right?

On that premise, I visit a few inspiring blogs thinking that surely they will cheer me up. I read a post about laughter, complete with a video that I’m guessing should have got me laughing, but it didn’t. It just bored me.

But then it hit me. A reminder of something I’ve already learned, time and again.

Being In Tune With Cycles

There really is something healing about being in tune with ourselves, including our cycles. We have so many cycles influencing us from “out there” and also those that we ourselves are a part of.

There’s a New Moon tomorrow. That’s one good indication that today is a day to be finishing things instead of expecting a bright fresh energy for new beginnings. And since today is Monday, the Moon’s day, it makes that lunar energy even stronger.

Waning Moon is a good time for completing unfinished business and as I think about that, it occurs to me that I have a lot of little odds and ends that it would be good to finish up. They can suck the life right out of you if just left dangling.

And women, especially, are in tune with and responsive to lunar cycles, as well as our own related hormonal cycles. Don’t even try to tell me (or my husband, for that matter) that these don’t have an impact. Full and New Moons, especially, are influential times of the month.

It’s also gloomy outside. It’s winter here for God’s-sake! There’s a storm moving in and we’re expecting to get almost a foot of snow. It’s a perfect time to nestle in and replenish.

I imagine myself curled up on the couch with a good book, and realize that it’s not that I don’t want to do anything. I am itching to curl up with a chart that I want to look at for a client. That is calling to me. (Soon, chart, I will be there soon…)

As I look at my own chart (jyotish), I also see that right now Saturn is exactly on my Sun. As a Vedic astrologer, that speaks volumes to me, saying it’s not so odd that my light (the Sun) is feeling squashed (by oppressive Saturn) and that I am feeling heavy today for whatever reason. We all have many levels of recurring cycles going on in our lives at any given time.

Jyotish also has something called “dasas” or planetary periods, showing when certain influences will come to the fore in our lives. Right now, I have a strong Moon influence, so I am especially susceptible to this New Moon coming up tomorrow, as are you if you are running a Moon period.

Recognizing Our Sensitivity

There’s also the influence of what is going on in the world at large. I’m often affected by goings-on in the world, especially heavy, difficult events. I think we all are, it’s just that some of us are more sensitive to and aware of how it affects us.

And then there are those I love or am connected to in some strong way, and I often pick up on their moods. (Exactly at this point in typing this, my husband came into my office quite upset. It seems we missed an important filing deadline that we didn’t know about until today related to our finances. This can potentially have a major impact. See?)

But those of us who are empaths, especially, pick up on feelings of those we love from long distances too.  My husband and I regularly run the same emotional currents, even when apart. And most of us have several close loved ones we are not in touch with every day, so we never even know that’s why we were in certain inexplicable moods.

Our Own Subtle Selves

And sometimes, it really is “just us” (as if we actually could be separated from all these other influences), and there are feelings percolating to the surface related to our own feelings that we are not consciously aware of at the moment.

These can be regular emotions such as stress, or they can be intuitive feelings about our own well-being, such as a reluctance to do something because perhaps we know at a deep level that it is not what we are “supposed” to be doing.

Let It Be – aka Float

I often think that we have become a bit too removed from ourselves, from nature, and from natural cycles and events. I also think we are doing ourselves a disservice to forge ahead regardless.

So, my conclusion and recommendation is that when days like this roll around — and roll around they will — see if you can just go with the flow. Perhaps there are a few things you absolutely have to do, so you must do them. But other than that, don’t worry about how you feel and you’ll find that it doesn’t actually feel so bad even to feel bad. 🙂

For after all, at the very deepest level, there’s simply us. The abiding self that is simply enjoying being. No special moods or activities are necessary; in fact, they are irrelevant. All is well, all the time, no matter what.

And see if you can possibly respond to that call to withdraw a bit and not be in output mode, ever doing, doing, doing. You will find refreshment there, be much more together tomorrow, and be all the happier and healthier today as well. At least that’s how it works for me.

Or maybe I just needed more caffeine this morning.

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Jan 122011
 

As we’ve all learned by now, when it comes to colds and flu, the first line of defense is common sense. It involves not only good hygiene in public especially, but also keeping yourself humming along in a nicely balanced and relatively happy state.

But even with our best efforts, the best and most healthy of us sometimes succumb to the occasional cold, even if it’s only once every 3 or 4 years.

That was me over this last holiday season. I’m so not used to it and don’t have a lot of patience for it.

Here’s how I knocked it out in 4 days flat. (Of course, you don’t need to do all of these, just use whichever ones appeal to you.)

Note: I am only skimming the surface of most of these fields of healing. This is out of necessity else I’d have to write a book. If you look down the list I’m sure there will be some things you can apply right now depending on your level of knowledge, and I do offer a few links for more information.

1) Take homeopathic aconitum napellus

This is always my #1. This is the first action to take once you get the itty-bittiest hint that a cold might be coming on. I am convinced that this is the reason I only get a cold once every 3 or 4 years. This stuff is like magic. You feel the beginning of a symptom, you take an aconitum, no more symptoms. Voilà.

2) Use other homeopathy as indicated

It’s rare, but every now and then the cold gets a good enough hold of you that the aconitum doesn’t do it. At that point you may use a few other homeopathic remedies depending on your symptoms.

For me, I had some post-nasal drip so used kali bich and hydrastis candensis. I also began taking the Schuessler cell salts regularly.

All in all, over the whole 4-day period, as symptoms shifted slightly, I’d also used pulsatilla, influenzinum, occillococcinum, rhus tox, nux vomica, and bryonia alba. (Note: Some of my symptoms were more flu-like than cold, so I was hedging my bets. Since I don’t do flu shots, it could have been either or a combination.)

3) Get adequate vitamins and minerals

Vitamin C and zinc are good to be taking all the time, either in your diet or as supplements. I make doubly sure I am getting these if/when a cold is coming on.

4) Drink water

Drink lots of water! This can’t be overemphasized. On about my 3rd day I forgot about this and could feel the cold getting worse again. As soon as I picked back up on the water intake, the cold began to recede. Amazing stuff.

5) Keep your throat relatively germ-free

This is important early in the process but also good during, since you can actually reinfect yourself even as you recuperate. But the idea is that your nose and throat are often where the virus enters your body and if you can keep these areas clean you are likely wiping out a good number of those troublesome little partiers.

3 effective ways to do this are:

  1. Use a tongue scraper — very satisfying (these are good to use all the time, not just when you feel a cold coming on)
  2. Gargle periodically with water that has a drop of tea tree essential oil in it
  3. Take a zinc lozenge such as a Cold-eeze™.

6) Decongest

If you’ve got head congestion (and who doesn’t when a cold is starting?), there are several things you can do to minimize it.

  • One effective way is to put a drop of tea tree essential oil in a pan of water on the stove and gently breathe in the steam (not too close!)
  • Use 1/2 a drop of ravensara essential oil behind each ear
  • And one of the very best decongestant herbs is mullein. It grows wild around here and I collect/dry it to use, but you can get it at a health-food store. Just make a tea from it and drink it periodically throughout the day. You’ll notice a difference.

7) Drink ginger tea or spicy chai

This is based on the principals of Ayurveda, but a cold in the body is usually a kapha condition, and consuming food or drinks that help increase pitta is helpful. (If you want a reference book about Ayurvedic remedies, Dr. Vasant Lad’s The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Remedies is a good one.)

I like to do this by making some ginger tea; it’s fast and easy. All you do is grate some ginger root into a pan (I use the equivalent of about 1/2 a large carrot) and add 2 qt. of water. Simmer this for about 20 minutes. After it’s almost cool, add a touch of your (wholesome) sweetener of choice and strain it into a pitcher. Drink warm cups of this with soymilk added throughout the day.

The other drink I like is homemade chai. You can find my delicious recipe at the end of this article.

8 ) Stay warm

A cold is called a cold for a reason. It’s important to stay nice and cozy warm while you recover.

Sometimes I will use a heating pad (I know, this isn’t “natural” but it’s easy and I recommend it) but the very best thing is to take a nice hot bath with some epsom salts (they help pull toxins from your body) or a jacuzzi if you have one. Ahhh! This is especially helpful before going to bed.

9) Get a lot of sleep

When I have a cold, my sleep is disturbed. Even when I sleep, it’s lighter than usual and I wake up feeling like I was awake all night. Very odd.

Besides following general guidelines for getting a good night’s sleep, flower essences can help. I like the combination that is the equivalent of the Bach Sleepytime formula: White Chestnut, Rock Rose, Clematis, Impatiens, Cherry Plum, and Star of Bethlehem. I have a spray bottle of it and I also have drops which I put in my water glass near the bathroom sink, to sip if I get up during the night for any reason.

If I’m really not sleeping well at all I will sometimes resort to taking an antihistamine. Your body will not get deep natural sleep that way but in my experience it’s better than nothing so I do keep those on hand. Nothing’s better for healing than a good night’s sleep.

10) Avoid sugar

I had some type of sugar (a cookie or something, I don’t remember) and could immediately feel it in my body. It was as if I got set back to when I was feeling my worst. I suggest avoiding big doses of processed sugar if you can.

Subtle But Effective Remedies

I began by saying I would tell you how I managed to knock my cold out, but to be more precise, that’s not exactly what I was doing.

11) Get the message: You’re out of balance

First, don’t be mad at or feel you have to attack the cold. A better way to think of it is that the cold is a sign that you’re somehow out of balance or you wouldn’t have gotten it. It’s a messenger of sorts. And so, we get the message and take the actions that counteract our particular imbalance.

12) Think about what might have brought it on

I don’t mean that lady who sneezed on you at the grocery store. I’m talking about your life situation, especially some type of disturbance.

For example, this time I had just gotten a box of old diaries out of the closet. There was other old stuff in there that I started going through; old letters, some photos, cards I’d saved, etc. That is exactly when I first felt the cold symptoms. And they weren’t as obvious as sneezing or a sore throat (although they might be for you); it was just something “not right” with my body. But bingo, that was it. So make a note of that as it will be helpful as you move forward.

13) Do affirmations

Louise Hay wrote a book ages ago that I have gotten some great insights and benefit from. It’s called You Can Heal Your Life and toward the back she lists affirmations for each illness. It’s based on what she learned about the source of disease.

I looked up “Colds” and the probable cause she lists for that didn’t resonate with me (Too much going on at once. Mental confusion, disorder. Small hurts. “I get three colds every winter,” type of belief.) I looked up “Post-nasal drip” (yes, this gal gets specific) and that one did (Inner crying. Childish tears. Victim.) The moment I read it I felt an immediate  clutching in my heart area and felt like crying.

So I wrote the affirmation for that one on a piece of paper and repeated it often. Over the next day or so, and as I considered when my symptoms started, I realized that the probable cause for colds was a definite match too.

Here are the two affirmations I did, from her book:

Colds: “I allow my mind to relax and be at peace. Clarity and harmony are within me and around me.”

Post-nasal drip: “I acknowledge and accept that I am the creative power in my world. I now choose to enjoy life.”

As I look at these now, I see they might seem trivial, but if you’re familiar with the power of affirmations, you know they can pack quite a punch by addressing unconscious hang-ups.

14) Write or talk with someone

As you become more aware what emotional state is causing or related to your cold, it’s very good therapy to process that to some degree. I find writing in my journal is extremely enlightening and cathartic. Seeing the issue in black and white helps get your head around it, and solutions flow onto the page as well. I highly recommend it.

15) Use flower essences

I’m especially fond of the Bach Flower Essences. Although there are others I’ve played around with, the Bach set seems complete and sufficient for everything you might run into.

It’s helpful to use whichever essence will support you in healing whatever related emotional issue you’ve uncovered above. If you’re not familiar with these — or even if you are, I think Mechthild Scheffer’s book Bach Flower Therapy is one of the best available and pretty much the only one you need.

Two that I remember using were Crabapple and Rabbitbrush (this one is not Bach but I made it myself years ago and it’s for overwhelm, which matches Louise’s possible cause for colds, above.)

16) Practice Tolle’s method of being present in your body

In Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now, page 103, he gives a process for enlightening your cells with presence.

Essentially, you “flood” your body with consciousness. Close your eyes and choose a part of your body to focus your attention on briefly at first: hands, feet, arms, chest, etc. Feel the energy or life force inside those parts as intensely as you can. Stay with each part for 15 seconds or so. Then let your attention run through your body like a wave a few times, from feet to head and back again. Do that for a minute or two. Then feel the inner body in its totality, as a single field of energy. Be intensely present in every cell of your body. Do this for a few minutes.

This is a preventive tonic for the immune system and can also work as “medicine” for any current disease. It’s powerful. You can actually feel the difference immediately.

Specialized Techniques

If you have access to or are trained in these next/final modalities, I highly recommend you practice them since they may be the most powerful of all.

17) Reiki

I am a Reiki practitioner so I gave myself some Reiki treatments. Full-body is best and in the beginning I also focused on the swollen glands in my neck area. There are also some good books about which areas to focus on for certain ailments.

So here’s a reminder if you know how to do this. And if you don’t, you may consider getting a treatment. These can be done long-distance, even while you’re cozy in your bed.

18) Matrix Energetics

I am trained in Matrix Energetics and so I used this to help shift the imbalance into a more “useful” condition. There’s nothing magic here, even though it’s so surprisingly powerful that it seems like it sometimes, and I will be sharing over time some techniques you can use yourself.

I will also be offering Matrix Energetics related services pretty soon. Stay tuned.

19) Connect with healing guides

I actually have a few particular guides who show up regularly when healing is called for. I always feel a shift as they work with me, sometimes with the condition clearing up completely.

If you know how to connect with your guides, invite them to help you or ask them if they can usher in some other guides who specialize in healing.

If not, then you may want to get a session with someone who can call this help in for you. (The Matrix Energetics related services I just mentioned above will include connecting with guides as well.)

20) Actualism

My husband trained in and practiced something called Actualism lightwork for several decades and he led us through a session related to the Divine Mother energy. Powerful and soothing.

If you have any experience at all with using energy, light or consciousness to heal, now’s a good time to practice it! If you don’t, but would like to, stay tuned to this space since being able to effectively develop those skills is a large part of what I am here to share with you.

My Chai Recipe

These measurements are approximate. You want it to be fairly concentrated.

  • Ginger root (about 1/2 of a large carrot’s worth, grated)
  • Star anise (whole, about 2 T)
  • Cinnamon (1-2 sticks, or 1-2 t powdered)
  • Fennel seed (about 2 t, ground in a pestle)
  • Cardamom seed (about 1 t, ground in a pestle)
  • Black pepper (about 15 twists from a grinder)
  • Clove (about 1 heaping t whole or 1/8 – 1/4 t ground)
  • Nutmeg (about 1/8 t, grated)

Put all ingredients in a pan with about 2 qts. of water. Simmer, covered for about 25 min. After it cools some, strain into a pitcher. Sweeten just a touch with agave nectar or your sweetener of choice. Serve hot (Ayurveda would technically say warm) with soy milk (I use vanilla soymilk). Yum, and so good for you!

Here’s to a happy and healthy winter! (Or summer, as it may be. ;-))

I know there are lots more natural/vibrational remedies; these are just the ones that popped into my mind over those 4 days. Do you have any favorites you’d like to share?

Disclaimer: These suggestions are not meant to take the place of medical treatment.

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Jan 052011
 

“We’re here to live this storm of wild wonder that is the unfolding of phenomena within our minds, within our consciousness. And when the fear of it goes, then our reception of it is wondrous beyond belief.”

John Sherman, at a Worldwide Online Meeting, Dec. 18, 2010

A few nights ago, I was kneeling on the living room floor with our two dogs as they vied for and got my full attention. The little old slobbery boxer nuzzled under one arm while the goofy, angora-soft lab pushed his way under the other. Multi-colored Christmas lights sparkled around the window, and the hauntingly beautiful, other-worldly music of Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco filled the room.

Suddenly I found myself having an experience of rapture. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I felt that movement around my heart. You know the feeling —  that humming like there’s an earthquake starting in there? I could barely contain myself.

I was simply and excruciatingly thrilled to be alive. Intensely and unreservedly alive. And every cell in my body was bursting with the wonder of it.

Don’t you just love it when you feel such appreciation for the gift of being alive?

Embrace the Storm of Wild Wonder

It’s not that I was happy because I have my precious dogs, am in a warm & cozy house, am married to the love of my life, or any/all of the obviously positive gifts that have been bestowed upon me.

I was happy even though I don’t have a fancy house, I lost my life saving a few years ago, I’m a basket case when it comes to being productive, and despite all the apparently difficult or challenging situations that have presented themselves.

As far as I could tell, I was happy because I was saying yes to it — to all of it — fully and completely. I was momentarily allowing myself to fully embrace life without the fear that is so often lurking around in the nooks and crannies. I was without the often-present sense that I am somehow at stake here. I wasn’t keeping life at arm’s length for fear that I would be hurt. I wasn’t judging some things as good and others as bad.

This means saying yes to the adventure. For me right now that’s to the launching of a brand new career at the ripe old age of 56. For you, of course, it’s whatever comprises your adventure; those things that excite you and challenge you at the same time.

But at an even deeper level, we say yes to trusting enough in the now to let go of control (as if we ever had control anyway).

We say yes to being alive in a world where everything changes every minute and every second. Where nothing is ever the same from one blink of the eye to the next. Where the unknown looms hugely in front of us, and there are no guarantees.

We say yes to allowing the living, breathing being that we are to be fully alive and to shine its light gloriously in each and every moment.

Dissolve the Fear

Of course this exhilarating fearlessness occurs in our lives from time to time. But isn’t it always rather fleeting? Lately, it’s becoming much less so for me, and more and more a part of who I am.

I’m sure that’s in large part because just over a year ago I discovered a simple – dirt simple – process that has been slowly but surely dissolving the fear, just as promised.

This fear-dissolving process consists of a simple act of looking. Looking at yourself. And I don’t mean psychologically or emotionally. I don’t even mean spiritually. I mean looking at who or what you are at your core. The simple nature of you.

And you don’t even have to see who or what you are, or understand it. You just have to look. And if you do this periodically, then over time the fear melts away.

Is that amazing or what?

I’ll continue to share on this blog what it feels like to have the existential fear of life gradually disappear, and the significant impact it’s had on my experience of life.

I’ll also share more about how you can do it even though I’ve already said it all (yes, it really is that simple).

For now though, if you’re interested in learning more, you can hear it from the proverbial horse’s mouth at River Ganga Foundation. John and Carla Sherman offer a bounty of information in the form of transcripts, audios, videos, and their book Look at Yourself.

I’ve been a spiritual aspirant all my life yet this is a whole new paradigm from anything I’ve ever come into contact with. I highly recommend you check it out.

What are you saying yes to, or what might you want to say yes to that you’ve not? Please share!

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Nov 232010
 

We’ve all heard the phrase “count your blessings” and probably most of us do that quite often.

What we don’t always realize is that we’re neglecting to count some of our best ones because they’re tucked away in places we don’t think to consider.

If we take even a few moments to look we can find some of our most precious treasures buried among our discards. We quickly or even unconsciously judge certain things or experiences to be useless, inferior or even bad, and we toss them away, out of sight, out of mind.

We forget to notice the silver lining.

Gifts from Tragedy

Just last night, I heard of the death of a former classmate and old friend. He died of a sudden heart attack. This was sad enough but it came on the heels of the death of another classmate just a few weeks ago. Both cases are sad in their own way, and although I hadn’t seen one of them in many years, I still felt the loss.

Yet right along with the sadness of his death came a deep appreciation for the fact that I get to be alive. I mean, I’m alive! How cool is that?

If not for this tragedy,  I wouldn’t be experiencing my aliveness to the extent that I am this moment. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be thinking about or appreciating it at all.

And so, this new-found appreciation is a gift of this tragedy.

So this was one example, which just happens to be related to someone else’s misfortune. We easily gain new awareness of the blessings in our own lives when we notice how difficult life is for someone else, including many across the world.

More Hidden Gems

But there is also a benefit to considering our own tragedies and our own difficulties.

For hidden within them are deep and precious gifts.

I can say without a doubt that my most profound blessings have been borne of difficulty. And often the most trying situations bear the greatest gifts. They’re not all in the past, either. There are ongoing challenges, too, that are leaving little gifts in their wake, some I’m sure I haven’t even noticed yet.

The Discovery Process

One of the ways to spirit them out so we can avail ourselves of what they have to offer is to consider these questions and see if they reveal themselves. Some, if not most, are gifts not only to us but to others as well.

Here’s an exercise you can do:

Think of one major difficulty you’ve had, or something you’re going through now.

Got it?

Ok, now, go through these questions one by one with that experience in mind.

For any one situation, most of the questions will not apply. When that’s the case, just move on to the next question.

But there will probably be a handful of questions that will give you pause, and you will see that something new and wonderful entered your life when all you saw at the time was something that you just wanted to get rid of.

And if you have the time, take that moment to explore that question further in whatever way makes sense.

And now, may you discover some gems. 🙂

  1. What did you learn that you are using to this day? Would you have learned it without that experience?
  2. Did you develop new skills that you benefit from, share, or enjoy?
  3. Did you become a better person? Did you discover or strengthen a part of your character that has been of value?
  4. Did you have to learn to ask for help? Was a new friendship developed because of that?
  5. Did anyone else benefit from what you went through?
  6. Were you able to help others in similar situations because of your experience?
  7. Did you discover new resources? Or friends you didn’t know you had?
  8. Did you let go of something that was not good for you, even if painful or disorienting at the time?
  9. Did you develop a new perspective on what’s good and what’s bad?
  10. Do you have a new set of values that feels better?
  11. Have you gained compassion and/or a more open heart?
  12. Have you learned how to let go of resentments, or to not develop them in the first place?
  13. Did you have the rug pulled out from under you, only to eventually land in a better place?
  14. If this was a loss of some sort, did something new and wonderful move into your life to fill the empty space that wouldn’t have been there otherwise?
  15. Have you learned how to let go of things when called for?
  16. Do you find any benefit to the impermanence of things? Does it give you an appreciation for things in the moment that you might not have had otherwise?
  17. Did you discover a different apparent source, or a new kind of flow? Is there less fear?
  18. Were you disillusioned? Do you have a new clarity about things, a new realism?
  19. Have you had a shift in your reality? A paradigm shift in what’s meaningful?
  20. Did you discover that you are okay no matter what?

You can repeat this as often as you’d like with any difficult situation.

Do you feel a little more blessed than when you started this exercise?

This exercise could easily include more questions. This set is subjective based on my experiences. I’m certain you have your own list and your own unique blessings that have come from your own difficulties as well. You can always add to it or replace questions as you see fit.

And of course, a few of these things may enter our lives even without difficulties, but it’s been my experience that difficulty is a sure catalyst for tremendous growth.

I dare say that without challenges, life wouldn’t be nearly so rich as it is.

Do you have any questions you’d like to add to this list? Or gifts you’ve gained from what felt like an unredeemable situation at the time? We’d love to hear.

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Nov 202010
 

Call me naïve, but I thought I would be told if I were about to step into an X-ray machine and get zapped.

Guess again.

A few months ago, I took a flight out of the Albuquerque International Airport which I’ve done many times before. Of course, I went through security, but there was nothing brand new or out of the ordinary that I ought to be aware of. Or so I thought.

But last night, with all the talk in the news about people being subjected to full-body scans and pat-down searches, I got wondering. I did remember stepping into a machine where they had me stand on a mark and put my arms up. I didn’t stop to think about it and assumed it was some kind of metal detector, but could that have been a body-scanner? And if so, was it safe?

Thanks to google, I soon had my answers. Sure enough, I had indeed been X-rayed. I saw no indications and no one said a word about it.

I was irradiated without my knowledge or consent.

Given the choice I would NOT have walked through that machine. I don’t even get dental X-rays unless absolutely necessary, nor do I get frequent mammograms like most women do. Extra radiation? No thank you.

I am quite angry about this.

I think we should have a clear choice about this kind of thing.

I decided to at least help YOU not be subjected to this unless you choose to be. Here’s the essence of what I found out.

Beware of “Safe” Scanners

More than 65 airports around the world, and especially in the U.S. currently do the full-body scan as part of routine security procedures.

There are two types of machines in use. Both use X-rays but of different types.

One is called backscatter X-ray which uses ionizing radiation, and the other is called millimeter-wave screening. 189 backscatter units and 152 millimeter-wave machines are in use right now and their numbers are increasing rapidly. The total number of imaging machines is expected to near 1,000 by the end of 2011, according to the TSA.

Of course, the TSA claims they’re safe, and here’s a fairly well-balanced article about the safety concerns.

But given the government’s track record so far, I tend to be skeptical of quick safety assurances, especially when big brother or huge monetary gains are part of the equation.

Update, March 2011. Read this article from USA Today about the TSA’s maintenance records on some of the devices showing radiation levels 10 times higher than expected.

According to one source (or read the full article Full-Body Scanners to Fry Travelers With Radiation):

Dr. John Gofman, Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley is a leading U.S. expert on the biological effects of X-radiation. His exhaustive research leads him to conclude that there is NO SAFE DOSE-LEVEL of ionizing radiation.

His studies indicate that radiation from medical diagnostics and treatment is a causal co-factor in 50 percent of America’s cancers and 60 percent of our ischemic (blood flow blockage) heart disease. He stresses that the frequency with which Americans are medically X-rayed “makes for a significant radiological impact.”

It goes on to state: Dr. Gofman believes that medical radiation is a co-factor in 75 percent of breast cancer cases. So why would girls and women want their breast tissues irradiated every time they take a commercial flight?

Hmmm, maybe because no one told them they were being X-rayed?

Welcome to the Machine: How to Recognize Scanners

Here’s what they look like:

The X-ray scanners are on the left, and for the backscatter method you stand in-between the two boxes. The metal detector on the right uses magnetic waves, not X-rays, and I’m not aware of any safety concerns with metal detectors.

And here’s a complete list of the types of scanners in use by which airports, from FlyerTalk Forums.

What You Can Do

So now you are educated and you won’t make the same mistake I did.

And just to be clear, by “mistake” I don’t mean getting X-rayed if that’s what you want to do. I mean waltzing through the machine without even knowing you’re being X-rayed and unaware of what kind of risks are involved.

  • Be aware that you may get no indication at all that you are stepping into an x-ray machine. Watch for it.
  • You have a choice. You can get X-rayed or you can opt-out and get searched manually instead (oh boy… but that’s another topic altogether).
  • You can boycott this practice either at the airport security gates or by not flying out of the participating airports.
  • You can contact the TSA directly at TSAContactCenter@dhs.gov or 1-866-289-9673. Good luck with that.
  • You can learn more and/or get involved with groups who want the system adjusted in some way.
  • You can continue to do whatever it is you do to help bring peace and reason-ability to humanity and all life on this beautiful planet.

Shine on! But don’t glow in the dark. 😉

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Nov 012010
 

Beauty can lighten depression, cure the doldrums, and uplift a heavy mood.

If you’re already happy, it can burst your heart wide open and send you soaring to new heights.

Whenever I make a list of things that are important to me, beauty is always right there at the top. I don’t know if I could live without it — or if I would want to.

To me, beauty is as vital as the air we breathe.

I see it with my eyes as I look around this beautiful red-rock canyon where I live in the high desert of northern New Mexico. I hear it with my ears as I listen to the birds singing, or our sweet dogs crunching contentedly on their nightly biscuits before bed.

I see it over and over as I browse around in the blogosphere. You boggle my mind with your amazing talent at expressing yourselves so beautifully, either with your words or your creations.

And I feel it as I digest your messages and appreciate the beauty of your spirits.

Sharing Beauty is Awesome

And now I get to share some beauty with you.

I was recently touched to receive the Beautiful Blogger Award from the lovely Christopher Foster of The Happy Seeker. Thank you, Christopher! It’s especially welcome coming from someone who is himself so beautiful. He offers up such a nice space that I find myself drawn to return again and again.

As a condition of receiving this award, I’m asked to:

  • Share 7 things about me that you probably don’t know
    (easy since I am pretty new here)
  • Pass the award on to 5 other beautiful bloggers
    (easy even though I am pretty new here)

Here goes!

7 Things You May Not Know About Me

  1. I had a near death experience when I was in my 20’s. I didn’t die all the way and come back like some people do, but it was remarkable and something I’ll never forget. Indescribably peaceful.
  2. I’ve had a diary (aka journal) all my life, and still do. It’s a real-time record of my hopes and dreams, struggles and triumphs. I’m sure I will incorporate some of it into this blog when it’s helpful. At one point I laughed noticing that if anyone read it they would think I had a horrible life, because for awhile I used it as a way to work out my issues, and it got ignored when things were going well.
  3. I used to think astrology was ridiculous until it actually helped me through a rough patch, and with flying colors. I wondered how it could have possibly been so accurate and helpful and got so fascinated trying to answer that question that I jumped right into a serious study of  it. And here I am now, a certified Vedic astrologer!
  4. In fact, I’m an avid do-it-myselfer. I’m endlessly curious and I love to learn. Combine that with my natural frugality and most of the things I think I can benefit from frequently I just learn how to do myself. That was the story with my astrology and channeling, and it’s been true of my holistic healing modalities and dozens of other things as well. Right now I am in the throes of learning about blogging and I enjoy the learning so much that I barely have (okay, make) time to actually DO it!
  5. I haven’t washed my hair in 3 years. Really! But it’s not as gross as it sounds, I promise. The book Curly Girl became my hair-care “bible” and I learned to not use detergents (aka shampoo) on my hair. I do use conditioner mixed with water and lemon to wash my scalp and I do clean my hair but with water and conditioner, bla bla bla. I’ve never had more compliments in my life.
  6. I’m a born catalyst. I had a past life reading a few decades ago, and was told that being a catalyst is one of my main roles this time around. I soon began to notice how obviously true it was (even before the reading) and continues to be even today. I have been THE impulse for major life change for lots of people, some of whom are close and some of whom have just passed through briefly. It’s very rewarding.
  7. I’ve gone without T.V. but prefer to go with it. I very much enjoy good films and good comedy. I lean toward foreign and independent, not so much blockbusters but I am taken by these new 3-D movies. (Did I mention I used to love hallucinogens?) I can hardly stand that Project Runway is over for the season (so FUN!) and I think they blew it big time by not recognizing the über talented Mondo as the CLEAR winner… agree?

And now I get to pass on this award!

5 Beautiful Bloggers

Here are some beautiful blogs and even more beautiful bloggers — how else could they be expressing such beauty?!

Breathe these in…

  1. The very first blogger I thought of because she so epitomizes the word “beautiful” with her blog was Cristina Colli of Positively Beauty. Everything about her is uplifting and her blog is a luscious treat. Cristina has the most beautiful photos and her design series is phenomenal!
  2. Another beautiful person with a beautiful blog is my friend and sister-in-law Silke Powers of Metamorphosis. I almost didn’t list her here because not only does she already have 27 blogger awards but one of them is this one! But that was from waaay last April, an eternity in the cyber-world, so I think it’s time it comes around again. 😉 If you go take a look, you’ll see why she is so beloved. Her whole blog, including her artwork, knitwear, and photos are so beautiful, and I can testify that she is too — inside and out. (Yes, her husband Daniel is my very talented brother. Daniel’s work is awesome!)
  3. And then there is Eliza Fayle of Silver & Grace. This is now an e-magazine but I discovered her with this post and I was hooked. Don’t you agree she and her blog are beautiful?! I just love this movement of embracing the aging process not to mention the resultant product (yes, that’s us!) Yay!
  4. Kara Thompson of  Conduit of Joy is a beautiful spirit and her blog is wonderful. I returned often to keep up with her fascinating interview series “Coming out of the Psychic Closet”, and now she’s a happy habit. I also enjoy running across her thoughtful comments which seem to be sprinkled all over the web!
  5. And finally, there is Michelle at The Creative Healing Studio. I’ve only just recently discovered Michelle but as with the others the beauty of her blog and the parts of her that shine through it have attracted me, so I will be a regular visitor for now. See if you agree — her artwork alone is worth a look!

And so, congratulations to these 5 ladies and all of you creative beauty-bearers who are reading this right now! Thank you and may you continue to share your abundant good work for as long as it fulfills you.

And now, please share these beautiful links with others — and do leave a little of your own beauty behind for us here in the comment section!

The world is a more beautiful place because of you.

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Oct 142010
 

Whatever could toilets and sacred moments possibly have in common, you ask?

A lot, actually, and your day will be all the better for knowing what. I promise!

Have you been appreciating how profoundly precious life is lately? If you’re like me, you forget every now and then.

Well, here’s a beautiful story that might jog your memory periodically, at least for awhile while it’s fresh in your mind. And maybe, like me, for long afterward.

Today I read a post by Kara of Conduit of Joy! that I found very touching. It in turn reminded me of something I’d read by Denise Linn that I still think of often, even though I first read it 8 months ago.

Essentially Denise shares what transpired between her and a friend who had just received the devastating news that she only had about 5 more days to live. (And I think I have problems?!)

I would not be able to do the story justice by piece-mealing it here… I think you would love reading the whole thing yourself (it’s short and quick, and don’t miss her p.s.) But I will share two potent quotes that I’ve taken away from it that enhance my life whenever I am fortunate enough to remember them.

In speaking of her friend:

“She said that she has realized that her entire life she’s been more afraid of living than of dying…”

WOW. Well. I can identify with that one. Can you? But it doesn’t really make sense to live that way, does it?!

And her friend said of knowing she only had a few more days to live:

“It makes every moment precious. When I go to the toilet, I know that there is only a limited number of times that I will be able to do that . . . and it makes it a ’sacred toilet moment’. When I go to sleep, this makes it a ’sacred sleeping moment’. Every bit of food, every conversation, and every moment . . . no matter how seemingly mundane, is precious. I’m cherishing it all. Really we should always be doing this.”

I absolutely, unequivocally loved this! It’s just perfect. Did you know a toilet discussion could be so, well, poignant? Holy? You may beg to differ, but anything that can make such a mundane thing so inspirational is good, grounded spirituality in my book! Gotta love it.

It also makes me aware of how blessed I am to be able to live fairly simply and to have the space and time to experience and appreciate without being overwhelmed. It’s common for me to be in awe of even simple things — which I quickly see are not simple at all, but totally miraculous!

And thanks in part to gentle reminders like these two posts, I get to appreciate yet again just how precious life is.

What is it that prompts you to do that?

Thank you for reading and sharing this virtual space. I guess I can enjoy the sound of one hand clapping, but two is so much more fun. Blessings to you!

[Photo: Egor Gribanov]

Aug 072010
 

Hello! Welcome everyone!

For those of you who have been frequenting this site for awhile while it was still a simple website, thank you for your patience during the redesign.

"It's alive!"

"It's alive!" Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein

You are used to seeing a static home page describing the services I offer, with menu items that go into more detail. You can still access all that same information here, but the site is much more alive now with the addition of a blog element right here on the homepage where I will be making frequent posts and where you can easily comment. (And if you are here for my Jyotish downloads, access to those will be here shortly.)

I have also expanded greatly upon what I am sharing here, and I think you will like it!

I will be sending my monthly newsletter out next week to those of you on my list. It will include the latest Jyotish information for August, plus more! I will also post the information here ahead of time and create a link to the newsletter.

Stay tuned! (That means please check back — or subscribe — for frequent updates!)