Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Prayer for Gloria

Yesterday's Santa Cruz Sentinel had an article guaranteed to break a mother's heart. A child's family in Seattle gave up their medical battle with the widespread neuroblastoma (cancer) that was overtaking their daughter and turned to prayer instead. The family asked for people to pray for their daughter Gloria and the Seattle Times gave the story 5 months of serious coverage. Reporters close to the family say they are forever changed by the family's determination to heal their daughter through the power of prayer and by the heart-wrenching struggles they faced in making this decision. Four years of medical interventions had been of no avail. It seemed fruitless and painful to put their child through more torture. Yet, despite the efforts and outpourings of love and faith by literally thousands of people, on Friday last week Gloria died.

What can a person say about something like this? The child's mother apparently had heard a voice she believed to be the voice of God tell her before Gloria's cancer was diagnosed "When I heal her, I will change the lives of many." The family says that their faith allows them to believe that healing has occurred even in death because to be with Jesus in Heaven is a healing in itself. But, as a person brought up Jewish, this is a thought pattern that's hard to fathom. My gut reaction was that her death could lead just as many to doubt their faith as the story within the hospital walls led so many to embrace it.

Jerry Brewer, one of the Seattle reporters who covered the story and who has been writing regularly in his blog about this, hasn't analyzed his feelings yet except to say that the miracle everyone was hoping to have happen occurred for him in the five weeks preceeding the girl's death. Something about how everyone touched by this family was transformed by the power of their faith really got to him and he firmly believed that the prediction the mother received that when God healed her it would change the lives of many must have been meant to be much more than about whether her daughter's body survived the "healing."

I asked Paul for his opinion about this. He seems to always have a deeper understanding of the spiritual significance of things than I tend to. He believed that the fact that Gloria frequently prayed for other people in the hospital and in her room, even offering up her suffering as a sacrifice for some other child in pain, touched people most of all. "It's not just about whether you win or lose." He said. "We all die." It's more about how we choose to live while we're here. What we do and why.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Play and Lightheartedness


One of Paul's photos above is the star of a new and immediately popular Craigslist ad titled "Hoo Are You, Hoo-hoo, Hoo-hoo?" The idea in my mind is that most often people go out of balance because they lose track of what's most important to their hearts and a spiritual counseling and healing session with us can help them get back to and honor their true selves. But, in reality, I chose this image because it's so cute and incongruous to find in the oh so serious world of spiritual counseling and healing, it makes me laugh.

We're starting to get a reputation, I think, for being the jokesters of the New Age healing community. People have started to give us feedback that they love Fred, the fictional Grandmaster of the Teakettle Paul invented a while back. Our latest print ad even hints that a session with us could be fun ("you might cry . . but we've got tissues").

And why not? At least this way people might start to remember our names.

It also helps keep our spirits up. It's a lot more fun to keep putting the advertising out there when it's done this way.

Which brings me back to the original reason I decided to write today -- Zinnia, the flower essence for light-heartedness and fun. Last week in my dance class I wished I had a product that included Zinnia in it. This week I remembered that I do. It's called Doing New Things with Confidence.

I never think of this formula in this way, probably because I was oh so serious when I made it. The significance of what I was guided to put in it must have gone past me. I always fixate on the fact that it has Larkspur in it which I was taught to believe was about "leadership." I've been thinking it was guided to be in there so the person would take on an attitude of being the "leader" of their own lives. It isn't. It's about infectious enthusiasm for what you do. The kind of enthusiasm and joy that makes people want to follow your lead.

But that's where I got lost. It doesn't make any difference if someone is following your lead when you're trying to develop self-confidence and enjoy your life. What matters is having so much fun trying something different that you don't mind making mistakes and falling off the horse a few times in the process. You get such a kick out of trying that you can't wait to try again. That fun and joie de vivre, that sense of play and adventure, is what makes the journey worthwhile.

Helen Keller has a quote attributed to her: "Life is a daring adventure or it's nothing." Things can go wrong on an adventure but the story of how you lived to tell the tale always winds up being part of the fun. On an adventure you always have the intention of enjoying the ride. You might go down a road you've never been down just to see where it goes. You might try a weird new drink with strange tapioca balls in it just to find out what it would be like. You don't fret over the fact that you've never done these things before and you "might not do it right". Huh? It's an adventure!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fame!


Omigod! My face, in full color, distorted as shot through a super wide angle lens, was wrapped around our Sunday paper this morning. Along with several other really wonderful color photos and a great article about me and my Mama Love perfume business. The article, minus the amazing spread of photos, is available online at the Santa Cruz Sentinel's website.

Wow! That's a manifestation come true. Not that it came completely from thin air—I sent the Sentinel a press release announcing that my perfume had been picked up by three more stores—two locally and one in Texas. Looking back at the press release I found myself thinking "This is lame! I said the 'stupidest' stuff in this press release. They decided to write an article on me based on THAT?" There's that perfectionist streak setting off its chimes again. Sometimes all you need to do is be yourself, warts and all, and today I've gotten the biggest publicity of my life (so far) with a photo I ordinarily would have screamed at. Instead it's the butt of my own jokes because, what the heck, it's selling newspapers and, I'm sure, a bunch of perfume for me to boot.

Paul and I are learning a thing or two about fame. Being the shy retiring type doesn't work well if you want to get a fledgling business or more off the ground. So we've been figuring out ways to become more well-known without being obnoxious about it. Paris Hilton we're not. But we have learned something Paris knew all the time: the more popular you appear to be, the more popular you become.

In February we both got our pictures in one of the weekly papers and they posted THAT article online. Again, it didn't happen by magic—I sent a press release saying we were back in town. We were back in town? There's some news— who the hell were we? Nobody most people had ever heard of. But—and this IS the magical part—we had done a session with someone the editor of the paper knew and she said nice things about it. And then about a month before they planned to run a special edition about alternative healing I decided to send that press release in. I didn't know what they had planned so the timing of the whole thing was the magical part, too, but there that press release was right at the right time and the editor remembered us. So fame of sorts begot more fame and then they put a little feature on their website where you could vote for your favorite articles.

Our article was favorited enough times to be on the second page -- not too surprising given that our article ran in one of the first papers that ran after the Good Times went public with being online. We also linked that article to the front page of our website and used it (with a link) in a number of Craigslist ads. Then Paul got the idea that wouldn't it be great to be on the first page of their "Favorite Articles" feature on the Good Times homepage so we asked all our friends and family to vote for us and made sure to vote for ourselves, too, (of course) and there we were on the front page. Then we sat back to watch what would happen... People started voting for our article a LOT more.

A similar phenomena happened on YouTube recently. I decided to post some of our videos there. The first one up was called Paul's Kundalini Awakening in which he describes in his most sweet and unassuming way how having a full Kundalini awakening at the age of 13 changed (or, rather, didn't change) his life. It's not professionally done. It's not scripted. But someone found it and favorited it right away and gave it 5 stars and now it's been favorited and given 5 stars again and, while it's nowhere near one of YouTube's most watched videos by a long shot, it's been watched literally 3 times as much as the other video I placed the same day that wasn't voted for yet.

Now here's the thing, we're not really out to get famous. It's just a game we're playing to figure out how to get enough notice in order to get the amount of business we need to pay for stuff we need. Popularity is something we both know is illusionary. Paul actually had a fair bit of popularity as a youngster because he played in a band but he hated it, eventually, because he knew people were going ga-ga about the budding rock star image they projected onto him and that had nothing to do with his real worth as a human being. He knew better than that. I had the exact opposite experience growing up. I was an ostracized kid, a geek basically who wasn't on anybody's "favorited" list. But I learned the same thing he did. Sitting on the outside looking in I saw the conformity games all those popular kids played to be accepted by their peer group and I wanted nothing of it. Wearing make-up and tight mini dresses, getting drunk and making fun of other people didn't make me feel good. And why would that make anyone more worthy of respect? If that was the price of fame (popularity) I didn't want any part of it.

But rejecting the spotlight does no good if you own your own business and want it to succeed. Nobody buys anything they haven't heard of first.

So we're experimenting and it's starting to feel like fun.