Friday, August 31, 2007

Ducky Baby, Ducky Dreams

As alluded to in my last blog, Paul and I have been taking art as a "day job" seriously lately. And, as I mentioned, I got way TOO serious and have strained my neck. The guidance has been to lighten up. Coincidentally, the guidance from some unconscious place in my psyche has been longing for some childlike joy and play as well. Look at the most recent images I drew (doodled) and uploaded to cafepress. I've been doing doodles exactly like this since I was a kid, dismissing them as not "good enough" to be considered "real" art. Geez! I think differently about it now. Picasso didn't paint much of anything I'd want in my kid's room at night. But I don't need to see something like this in a museum. That's not my dream! Paul and I are similar on this. We like the idea of someone enjoying a piece of our art or photography on a wall but we'd be just as thrilled to see it on a coffee mug or refrigerator magnet. So I guess we're where we need to be -- designing art for commercial applications and loving every minute of it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Zinnia, Dance and Me

Not long ago I developed a pretty painful neck and shoulders from working working working over and over and over on my computer. Not in a pretty frame of mind much of the time either.

Oh, it started out that way. You see, I really love what I do on the computer -- writing , drawing, uploading things to the internet. But while I'm working, working, working I tend to forget that the whole point of doing this kind of a life was to love what I do when I get up in the morning. But that Puritan work ethic was so well drilled into my brain -- you can't feel good about yourself unless you have something to show for your life -- that I start to get obsessed with getting "enough" done.

But who's defining "enough"? When I was a kid I was expected to be at the top of my class. "B"s were not acceptable--I had to have "A"s. And, actually, the way I internalized it, I had to be the best. Good enough is never good enough. It has to be GREAT!

Sigh. Where's the room for having fun?

So my neck and shoulders have been hurting and I've been going to my chiropractor to try to get my head screwed back on straight. In more ways than one, actually. I've also been doing a lot of life review, looking at family patterns, getting clear on how this pattern really took a hold of me.

My guides suggested I could use more "Zinnia" in my experience. Zinnia is a flower essence for people who are overly serious, who have forgotten how to play, and need to reconnect with feelings of joy. So, even though my painful neck and shoulders normally would have stopped me from going, I decide to follow my inner desire to go to my African dance class again. I figured that's one of the most joyful settings I've been in in Santa Cruz and, even if I sat out part of the time, it would still feel better than fretting about how bad I feel in my room.

So I went and, on the way there, I wished I had a perfume with Zinnia in it that I could wear and my guides said " Intend Zinnia instead." Well, okay, I did and at the beginning of class my teacher made a point of encouraging everyone to go for joy. "It doesn't matter if you can't do the moves. Just do whatever feels joyful to you. Relax, have fun!"

Then part way into the warm up part of class someone came in late with a large basket of garden seeds that she was giving away for free. As she passed me one seed packet fell off the top. I danced on trying not to step on it but finally curiosity got the best of me and I reached down to see what it was. Zinnia.

Divine play. Of course.

I use Zinnia in my Comfort and Joy flower essence formula.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why People Get Sick Video

Early Healer Lessons Video

Paul Becomes a Healer Video

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My Earliest Experience with Spirit Guides and Other Psychic Abilities

Paul's Kundalini Awakening Video

I know a longer version of this is on our spiritual counseling and healing website but I just figured out how to add text and put things up on YouTube. This is the first, and so far only, video we have up there.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Faith Healing in the Medical Profession

I just started reading an old classic today, Anatomy of an Illness: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration by Norman Cousins. In it Cousins refers to the work of William Osler, one of the most respected clinicians in the English-speaking world at the turn of last century. He was well-known for telling his students that he believed that the drugs and standard methods of medical treatment available to physicians at his time were, in his opinion, completely useless. He had quite a reputation as a healer himself and even served as the chairman for the Department of Medicine at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. But it was his firm belief that his success had little to do with the treatments he used and everything to do with his patient's faith in it.

Even today it is a little known established fact that almost every new drug introduced on the market is far more effective in the first few months after it is introduced than it ever is from that point afterwards. Why? Because the newness of the drug leads a doctor to prescribe it with much more enthusiasm. "We used to do such and such a thing for people in your condition, but we have this new drug now and I've heard it does great things! You get to be one of the first people in my practice to use it!"

Doesn't that sound exciting?!!! The belief is that "new" automatically means "improved" and that means that both the doctor and the patient expect it to work better. These assumptions are not necessarily true but it doesn't matter. The patient and the doctor both believe they're going to get better results and, lo and behold, it happens!

Later, though, as the newness of the drug wears off and the doctor's enthusiasm naturally wears down to more normal levels, patient expectations tend to wane as well and reports of the drug's effectiveness tend to decline.

What does this mean? Well, I hate to burst anyone's bubble here, but from where I'm sitting it looks like faith healing and conventional medicine walk hand-in-hand. In fact, faith in medicine is something the conventional medical establishment counts on and the recent onslaught of pharmaceutical advertising on television just proves my point about how important this sector of society actually believes faith in their products to be. Because building faith—making believers out of the healthcare-buying public—is exactly what pharmaceutical advertising is all about.

Why? Why do they have to? Well, guess what alternative healthcare affectionados, they have no choice.

In the Fall 2004 edition of the Harvard Public Health Review, the Harvard School of Public Health reported that the public's faith in the conventional medical establishment, medical insurers and pharmaceutical companies had fallen to an all-time low. Patients' lack of trust was leading them to turn in droves to alternative healthcare and self-medication. It also has led to an increase in conventional healthcare regulation and has contributed, in their opinion, to an increased risk of litigation, i.e. lawsuits, from dissatisfied and disgruntled customers.

So don't expect pharmaceutical television advertising to stop anytime soon. In fact, they've only just begun. And hold on to your hats, alternative healthcare providers. Even though they know faith and good medicine go hand-in-hand, the standard attacks on alternative healthcare practices as "faith-healing"....ha! using the term "faith-healing" as a form of attack!... isn't likely go away at all.

What do I suggest we do? Celebrate. We have obviously been effective. Keep going. Keep helping. Keep telling your patients how much they can do for themselves with and without using standard medical care. I'm not against using pharmaceuticals and standard medical practices when it's the most effective and cost-effective plan of action but a lot of the time it isn't. Especially for the millions of us without adequate health insurance -- and by that statement I include the supposedly "insured." There's a good reason why the American public lost faith in conventional medical care. It's expensive! It's short-sighted. And it's bankrupting us one and all.

I once believed every neighborhood in town should have a community herb garden and that simple methods of self-care should be taught in the public schools. Remember home economics? What's more important? Learning how to bake a cake or sew a dress? Not when it's cheaper and easier to buy one in a store. No! I want kids to learn first aid, how to treat a cold, how to tell when something is serious enough to see a doctor about, and when it would be a simple enough thing to treat yourself. And I want them to learn about the power of belief, the power of positive thinking, and the importance of keeping the faith—faith in themselves and in their ability to heal themselves, if nothing else—as if their lives and the future of our planet depended on it.

Because think about it. Does corporate greed and professional healthcare really make a good combination? I wouldn't want to stake my future on it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Defend Net Neutrality

If you think this issue is just too boring to even want to think about, you're kind of like me except somehow or another the message keeps getting across: we can't let things we care about like control over the quality of the food we eat, our access to alternative healthcare, herbal medicines and the like, and now access to the internet and the wealth of information, goods and services that provides fall into the hands of a few large corporations out to control the world -- or at least a pretty significant part of it. Net neutrality is a pretty big thing. Just last year our lovely Republican government voted against total access to the internet by choosing to allow AT&T and a few cable companies fight it out for our internet access dollars. think that won't affect anything? Think again. My independent internet provider CRUZIO just sent out their monthly email newsletter with this interesting news item:

AT&T Censors Pearl Jam in Webcast
Telecommunications executives assure us there is no danger in leaving all Internet access in the hands of just a couple of companies. Cable, they say, will keep the phone company honest and vice versa. No need for any other Internet providers (like Cruzio or Earthlink, for example).

But then one of those big companies does something revealing, like silencing singer Eddy Veder's words in a concert when he inserted his own lyrics into Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." The words which AT&T cut were "George Bush, leave this world alone."

Of course, it is a private broadcast and AT&T or its subsidiary can beep out anything it likes, just as a newspaper can refuse to print statements it finds offensive. But without other companies willing to broadcast alternative viewpoints, what would the Internet be like? Are two Internet providers really enough choice? Cruzio believes that more competition is necessary to ensure Net Neutrality -- the principle that Internet providers will keep their hands off the content of what they deliver.

See the song and the cuts for yourself on YouTube:

I can't say I'm any kind of an expert on this issue but the information is out there and it's well worth getting involved. See the banner link on my sidebar on the right of this page that says "Save the Internet"? Click on it, read all about it and sign the petition on their website. Then, please, tell your friends to do the same.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Walnut - Protecting the Young Seeker's Heart

Paul and I played the "Pick three videos at random and guess the connecting theme" game again this week. We got three "guy" movies — "The Bourne Identity," "True Lies," and "The Road to Perdition"—and enjoyed them all. All pretty violent and action-oriented but very different in terms of tone, pacing, and—in the case of Arnold Schwartzenegger—acting ability. You'd think the "violent guy" thing would have been theme enough but several others came about. Identity and preserving one's life while being in relationship with a significant other were the main ones. Most of these movies revolved around running away from bad guys, killing bad guys, blowing things up, trying to save and protect a loved one, and keeping from being killed oneself–all the stuff one would expect in an action guy flick. But the identity stuff kept coming up, too: "Who am I?", "Who is this person I married?", "Who (what kind of man) is my father?"

Interestingly enough, I got back to working on my Flower Essence book this week and felt drawn to investigate Walnut, a Bach flower essence I rarely use. There's a photo of the Walnut flower on this blog today. The Walnut tree has both male and female flowers. The male flowers are more showy—long pendulous catkins—while the female flower (shown above) looks just like a woman's womb. The walnut's fruit (the nut) grows inside the womb of the female flower which expands and forms a protective outer covering until the nut grows to maturity.

Dr. Bach used only female flowers to make his Walnut Flower Essence. It's used to help people develop the feeling of inner protection they need to nurture the development of a new identity while shedding an old one. It's for those who want to follow their own ideals and create their way in life but feel so vulnerable to other people's influence that they are easily thrown off their paths. It's especially useful during times of great transition.

This was a helpful description for me to read because I've been wondering about a behavior I've been exhibiting for a long time. Paul and I have created a little womb of safety around us to the extent that we rarely get together with most of our friends and family and NEVER see others. I stopped going to my dance and marimba classes and, lately, we both have been wanting to break out of this protective shell we've created and get out more. I'm sure that's in the making but, even though I've been worrying about this pattern, I haven't wanted to do anything about it very often until lately. This week I've been processing a lot of feelings related to family of origin and the society I grew up in and how important it has been for me to learn to protect my dearest dreams and respect my own path. That's been a VERY hard thing because, even though I've fallen off my horse and have tried to live a more conventional life many times, this time I really can't. It's just too important to me to follow this choice of career through, too many things I have left to do.

Dr. Bach railed against societal and parental interference in the books he wrote on Flower Essence Therapy. He felt that interfering in the development of a person's ability to manifest their own unique life purpose through criticism and shaming was one of the most damaging things that happened to young people. Healing that wound and the profound effects it has on the human psyche was, perhaps, the driving force behind his work.... and the work that Paul and I do.

We meet a lot of people who can't imagine why they should bother getting up in the morning. They go to work and perform their tasks with little or no enthusiasm, rush back home and pour themselves a tall one. Friday is the happiest day of their weeks. They all claim they don't know what they want to do. But when we talk to them long enough they always tell us what they like. They just don't believe it's possible. They once wanted to write books or do art or be healers like us. They want to do the things society, or their parents, or their friends or other loved ones tell them is crazy. "Yeah, you can do that." Goes the popular refrain. "But don't quit your day job!" Always said with a snort or a laugh. Sometimes gently if it looks like it means so much.

I once brought a basket of perfume to my dance class and quietly explained to an acquaintance that I intended to make my living, partially, designing perfume and selling it. He laughed, loudly. "Make a living selling perfume?!! How are you going to do that?!"

Oddly enough, it hadn't occurred to me that I couldn't. His comment threw me for a loop, for a minute. Was this a crazy thing? But in situations like that I always think about the woman who started Burt's Bees, on a shoestring budget, with little more than sweat and determination as her guide. Or J.K. (Joanne) Rowling who finished writing her first Harry Potter book as an unemployed single mother living on state benefits who knew that conventional wisdom said that she really must find herself a job. She intended to get a position as a teacher but knew if she did that, between working and taking care of her child, she'd have no time and attention left to write. So she worked like a madwoman, whenever she had a chance, to get her first novel done before financial pressures—or the shame of living on government handouts—forced her to stop. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was the result.

From Wikipedia:
In 1995, Rowling completed her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on an old manual typewriter.[29] Upon the enthusiastic response of Bryony Evans, a reader who had been asked to review the book’s first three chapters, the Fulham-based Christopher Little Literary Agents agreed to represent Rowling in her quest for a publisher. The book was handed to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected it.[30] A year later she was finally given the green light (and a £1500 advance) by editor Barry Cunningham from the small publisher Bloomsbury.[31][30] The decision to take Rowling on was apparently largely due to Alice Newton, the eight-year-old daughter of the company’s chairman, who was given the first chapter to review by her father, and immediately demanded the next.[32] Although Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, Cunningham says that he advised Rowling to get a day job, since she had little chance of making money in children’s books.[33]
Well, we all know what happened instead of that.

Joanne Rowling knew the importance of creating a safe haven for one's heart. She took on the pseudonym of J.K. to nurture her project and give it a chance to be accepted by young boys who might be too ashamed to be caught reading something written by a woman in her culture. She gave little Harry Potter a Hogwarts Academy in which to nurture his own heart, talents, and dreams. And gave the world the vision of children growing into their full potential doing things their Muggle neighbors would never allow.

"You're a wizard, Harry!"

And now you know the importance of this haven of safety we've adopted in order to create. Sorry, if you're one of the people we haven't seen in some time. Sometimes you need a little protective space in which to maturate.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Journeys We Take to Learn to Do Better

Paul and I have a game we like to play. It started with me before we got together. I noticed some time ago that I could pick 3 movies at random, watch them and find connecting themes. Now we play this game together.

This week we rented "The Fifth Monkey" (don't bother), "Seven Years in Tibet", and "Run Lola Run". All enjoyable, more or less. All took place in countries other than the U.S. They all featured a main character (or more than one) who travels from place to place during much of the movie (in one case, more than once). All featured that main character displaying peculiar character flaws and making big mistakes. All grew into new understandings and better choices (sometimes through serendipity) through learning as they went along from the experiences of the journeys they made. All had a chance to redeem themselves by making a better choice at another time or place, and all succeeded at learning certain spiritual lessons as time went on.

We all make big mistakes on the journeys that we take. Or at least it seems that way at the time. But later on we often get to review those lessons again. Sometimes more than once. For some of us again and again. I've heard it said that the most important life lessons repeat as often as it takes. It isn't necessarily reassuring to think like that. But, if this is truly the case, perhaps by recognizing the repeating pattern we can glean information about what's not working and why. Then we can choose to make a different choice. And hopefully that will work better.